The Absinthe Earl
Author: Sharon Fisher
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Release Date: October 15, 2019
Series: The Faery Rehistory, 1st book in Trilogy
Genre: Historical fantasy romance
Warm, anise-scented air washed over me, and I stepped inside.
Only a few gazes took note of my entrance, and as I closed the door behind me, shutting out the damp December night, they quickly returned to their glasses and companions. It was a proper Irish pub, with dark wood paneling, leather upholstery, and gas lamps fixed at regular intervals along the walls. The decor, like the sign outside, was a tribute to la fée verte. She appeared in all shapes and sizes, from rustic beauties to Morgan le Fay temptresses.
The place was as popular as rumored, though this could be due to the season—Christmas was only six days away. A strange time for vacationing in Ireland, you might observe. “Inhospitable weather” did not do it justice. But I was on break from the Academy and determined to make progress on my thesis, “Anthropologic Explanations for the Exodus of the Daoine Maithe”—the “gentlefolk,” as the Irish referred to fairies out of respectful wariness. Besides, even had I not been behind on my studies, I had no family to spend the holidays with.
There didn’t appear to be a single empty table, but I balked at the idea of approaching the bar. It wasn’t a thing a young miss did—not even an orphan whose parents had left her enough inheritance (just enough, mind you) to render her unconcerned about the opinions of others. My courage was failing me when I noticed a small table at the back of the room, at a companionable distance from a blazing turf fire. It appeared to have been recently vacated, as an empty reservoir glass and absinthe spoon rested on the tabletop.
Gathering my skirts and traveling cloak in my hands, I made my way toward it.
It was a cozy corner and a perfect place for observing the room while keeping quiet and anonymous. The only problem was the heat. Perspiration slid between my shoulder blades, and I decided that if I was to avoid a soaking, I must either relocate or remove a layer of clothing.
“For you, miss.”
I glanced up as a man placed before me a funnel-shaped glass, the kind preferred for serving absinthe. I locked gazes with the stranger, who wore round, green-tinted spectacles, and it gave me a shock. I don’t mean that I was surprised, though in fact I was. I mean that I felt it like a sudden, powerful discharge of static electricity.
My gaze dropped to the glass he’d placed before me. The drizzling-water-over-sugar part of the absinthe ritual had apparently already been conducted, and the glass was nearly full of a clear green liquid.
“Sir,” I began, “I haven’t ordered—”
“No,” he interrupted. “I’ll declare myself outright: it’s intended as a bribe.”
I lifted my eyebrows, though of course he couldn’t see this, due to the depth of my hood.
“I do not wish to molest you or suggest anything improper—”
“Disclosures that begin in that way,” I interrupted in my turn, “typically prove to be exactly the thing they were advertised not to be.” My reply edged on rudeness, but as a young woman traveling without a chaperone, I received my share of unwanted attention. I found it best to quell their enthusiasm right out of the gate. “I had intended to order tea, sir, so please bestow your generosity on someone more receptive.”
A chilly reply was usually enough, but the man continued to regard me, amusement now mingling with curiosity.
“I believe you’ve mistaken my intention, miss. I only wished to beg the favor of claiming your unused chair—if it is indeed unused—so I might rest my feet on the grate.” I could not but notice he was a darkly handsome man who spoke a velvety Irish brogue. “I’ve ridden up from the harbor and I’m soaked through, and there’s not an empty seat in the house.”
His black hair was tied back from his face, but one stray lock was plastered to his wet cheekbone.
“I’m happy to fetch your tea,” he continued.
“No, please.” I gestured to the empty chair across from me. “It’s not necessary, and I’m too warm as it is. I apologize for my rudeness.”
“My thanks to you, Miss …?”
He lifted the chair, angling it toward the fire. “Mr. Donoghue, at your service.”
About the Book:
They crossed centuries to find each other. Their love will shatter worlds.
Miss Ada Quicksilver, a student of London’s Lovelace Academy for Promising Young Women, is spending her holiday in Ireland to pursue her anthropological study of fairies. She visits Dublin’s absinthe bars to investigate a supposed association between the bittersweet spirit and fairy sightings.
One night a handsome Irishman approaches her, introducing himself as Edward Donoghue. Edward takes absinthe to relieve his sleepwalking, and she is eager to hear whether he has experience with fairies. Instead, she discovers that he’s the earl of Meath, and that he will soon visit a mysterious ruin at Newgrange on the orders of his cousin, the beautiful, half-mad Queen Isolde. On learning about Ada’s area of study, he invites her to accompany him.
Ada is torn between a sensible fear of becoming entangled with the clearly troubled gentleman and her compelling desire to ease his suffering. Finally she accepts his invitation, and they arrive in time for the winter solstice. That night, the secret of Edward’s affliction is revealed: he is, in fact, a lord in two worlds and can no longer suppress his shadow self.
Little does either of them realize that their blossoming friendship and slowly kindling passion will lead to discoveries that wrench open a door sealed for centuries, throwing them into a war that will change Ireland forever.
About the Author:
Sharon Lynn Fisher writes stories for the geeky at heart—meaty mash-ups of sci-fi, fantasy, suspense, and romance. She lives where it rains nine months of the year and is mom to two lovely tweens, two huge dogs, two ridiculous goats, an orange cat and orange mare, and a fluctuating number of poultry.