Taisie MacDonnell is a quiet girl who loves knitting and Celtic music. When a traditional Irish group moves to her small town of Antrim, Maine, she’s thrilled. And that the handsome pipe player she met at a fair is one of the band members makes it all the more exciting. Conn McLaren and his siblings that make up the band, The Black Swans, are wanderers, moving from place to place. They have a secret that they must hide, a curse they have been under for many years, placed on them by the Fae at the behest of their step-mother, Aoife. Taisie has no idea that becoming involved with Conn, the handsome pipe player, will enmesh her in magic, a centuries-old enchantment and pursuit by the Fae. This book is a modern retelling of the old Irish story “The Children of Lir”.
Sissy: This is the first book in the “Tales of the Antrim Cycle” series, which feature romance and magical happenings in the small town of Antrim, Maine. Author N. W. Moors, a native of Maine, is currently working on the second book, which she hopes will be finished this summer (hurry!). The keywords I used above are “romance” and “magical happenings,” and if these words cause the happy anticipation in you that they caused in me, then you are in for a lovely treat. If you add to those key words “wonderfully engaging writing,” then you’ll be describing The Black Swans.
Bubby: It must be something in my United Kingdom DNA, but stories based on old Celtic/Irish lore make me very happy. I’ve always loved the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson versions of this story (titled The Wild Swans or The Six Swans etc.), and this retelling does the story justice. The modern setting and the musical aspect just make it that much more appealing. The cursed (or enchanted) McLaren siblings form the musical group “The Black Swans” and tour the country playing traditional Irish/Celtic music. One particularly poignant moment was when Conn plays and sings the love song “My Lagan Love” and dedicates it to Taisie. Click on the image below to hear Celtic Woman’s version.
Sissy: The romance between Conn and Taisie is beautiful and full of anguish, and the storyline was so compelling I had to keep reading deep in the night to find out what happened. I thought that the ending was almost too short; I would have liked to have the last chapters extended some, even if that meant a longer book or even two books! The subject matter (shadow worlds, the Fae, etc.) was fascinating. Bubby mentioned her love of fairy tales–when she was six years old a part of our property caught on fire, and she ran into the house to save her valuables. What did she come out with? Her anthology of fairy tales!
Bubby: It’s a true story! I was sure I was going to die. Hopefully Sissy has learned from that experience that if one throws an aerosol can in the outside burn barrel, bad things happen! Luckily the damage was minimal and no one was hurt. You should also know that I have replaced that book four times in the last several years, and I still love it. A central theme of The Black Swans is that swans mate for life, which is really romantic and everything, but I felt so bad for Conn’s brothers, who found their mates hundreds of years ago, and sadly outlived them. I hope in the sequel Ms. Moors finds a way to remedy that situation, because nobody should have to live without love!
Sissy: You weren’t supposed to mention the cause of the fire, sister who throws me under the bus! I, too, felt bad for the other McLaren boys, but I thought the relationship between Nola and her mate Owen was beautiful. All in all The Black Swans by N. W. Moors was captivating and had all the elements I look for in a lovely escape read. Looking for the next Tale of the Antrim Cycle to darken my door soon!
Bubby: I wish N. W. Moors had started writing years ago so that I could have a whole shelf of her books to turn to when I want something magical and mystical that leaves me with that moonstruck lovey-dovey feeling. Maybe I’ll just have to go and read The Black Swans again instead.
Click HERE to buy The Black Swans by N.W. Moors
N.W. Moors lives in Portland, Maine, the land of lobster and pine trees. She grew up in Connecticut and retired north(it’s nice along the coast in winter). She’s a voracious reader and avid traveler – she loves to visit Great Britain and Ireland. Researching trips meant that she tries to learn as much about the area as possible and listen to great Celtic music. She’s also a knitter and hiker/walker with two cats(the cats don’t walk).
She truly appreciates you sharing this adventure with her. She will continue to write about magic, love, and the small town of Antrim, Maine. Please leave reviews and like her Facebook page or follow her blog or twitter feed for further updates.
Contact N. W. Moors:
After losing her job and leaving her beloved husband, journalist Gemma Hendricks is sure that scoring an interview with Colin Firth will save her career and marriage. Yet a heart-tugging local story about women, family ties, love, and loss captures her heart— and changes everything. The story concerns Bea Crane, a floundering twenty-two-year-old who learns in a deathbed confession letter that she was adopted at birth. Bea is in Boothbay Harbor to surreptitiously observe her biological mother, Veronica Russo—something of a legend in town—who Bea might not be ready to meet after all. Veronica, a thirty-eight-year-old diner waitress famous for her “healing” pies, has come home to Maine to face her past. But when she’s hired as an extra on the bustling movie set, she wonders if she is hiding from the truth . . . and perhaps the opportunity of a real-life Mr. Darcy.
These three women will discover more than they ever imagined in this coastal Maine town, buzzing with hopes of Colin Firth. Even the conjecture of his arrival inspires daydreams, amplifies complicated lives, and gives incentive to find their own romantic endings. (From Goodreads.com)
Sissy: I read this book whilst blissfully ensconced in a camping chair beside a burbling brook in the Wasatch Mountains, drinking an ice-cold diet soda, snacking on M&Ms and feeling that really, nothing could be better than that.
Bubby: I don’t remember where I was when I read Finding Colin Firth, but I do remember that I loved this storyline. Although, I have to admit something. And please, don’t hurl overripe fruit at me – but I don’t get the whole “Colin Firth” thing. He’s cute and all, and I think he’s a great actor, but there seems to be this mystique and other-worldly attraction that I can’t comprehend.
Sissy: Blasphemy! I fell in love with Colin Firth during the 6 hour PBS Pride and Prejudice miniseries.
Bubby: Not sure I ever saw that . . .
Sissy: I can’t be held responsible for the culturally deprived morass in which you reside. Anyway, Colin Firth is slightly more attractive than the usual man (the British accent is the clincher), a good actor and he seems down to earth, which makes him wildly appealing. I love the newer Pride and Prejudice but let’s be real here. That was all about Keira Knightly and not the broody boots who played Mr. Darcy. Colin Firth is everyman while at the same time being Mr. Darcy.
Bubby: OK, then, what’s with the Mr. Darcy thing? I don’t get that either. Why are women thrilled by a man who ignores and irritates them right up until he suddenly confesses his love?
Sissy: Clearly you need to watch the movie with me while I provide patient notes so that you can understand what every other woman in the world already gets. But that is really not what Finding Colin Firth is about anyway. A great ensemble cast of characters with interweaving story lines captures the reader’s heart. There is Bea, a daughter looking for her biological mother, Veronica, a woman looking to face her past and Gemma, a journalist torn between family and career.
Bubby: And pie! Lots and lots of pie! Veronica, a waitress who has returned to Boothbay Harbor after years on her own, is famous all through town for her Elixir Pies. And not only are the pies yummy, they are also “healing pies”. There’s Amore Pie (for finding love), Cast-Out Pie (to take away jealousy and other bad feelings), Happiness Pie, Spirit Pie (to remember loved ones who have passed away), even Hope Pie, Feel-Better Pie and Confidence Pie. I really want to try my hand at the Hope Pie – salted caramel cheesecake.
Sissy: I think that author Mia March’s main point in telling this story is that we all tend to undervalue happiness in our lives. Veronica always says that her pies don’t have any magical ingredients but just have “prayers and wishes and hopes baked in.” Perhaps it’s just that –if everything we did in our life was done with the expectation of happiness, every act done with wishes and hopes baked in, we might find a lot more happiness.
Bubby: Very wise, elder one. I agree. On the subject of happiness, let’s talk about Gemma a little bit. Now I realize that my reaction to characters and story lines is always affected by my own life and that I filter everything through the sieve of my own experiences. However, Gemma vexed me to no end. She has a fantastic husband who loves her with his whole soul. She is expecting a baby. She has in-laws who, obnoxious as they might be, love her and are thrilled to be a part of her family’s life. And is she happy? No! She wants everything she can’t have. She wants to live where she wants, have the career she wants and doesn’t really care that her wants are taking away other people’s happiness. I wanted to smack her for being so selfish.
Sissy: Wow. Tell us how you really feel. Gemma annoyed me as well but not to that extent. I totally got how she felt suffocated at the idea of being constantly with her husband’s large extended family. While the way she handled things wasn’t great, I think that by being completely open and honest with her husband they could have come up with a satisfactory compromise much sooner.
Bubby: I am glad that Gemma and her hubby were able to figure it all out eventually. In fact, that is one of the parts about Finding Colin Firth that I loved. It had a great ending. Is everyone’s life perfect and full of unicorns and rainbows now? No, but it’s better than it was. I highly recommend this read. 4 bubbles.
Sissy: Finding Colin Firth by Mia March hits the top of Sissy’s Favorite Summer Reads list.
Bubby: You have a list?
Sissy: Stop interrupting me. People are dying to get ahold of that list! I give it – the book, not the list – 4 3/4 bubbles.
Click HERE to buy Finding Colin Firth by Mia March at Amazon.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2013