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Where Shadows Dance is the sixth in the Sebastian St. Cyr Regency-era mystery series, which is actually rather sobering when I think about it. Six years is a long time for an author—or at least for an author as notoriously fickle and chameleon as I am—to spend with one character. But the truth is, I’m even more beguiled by Sebastian today than I was when he first entered my life.
Someone once said that with Sebastian, I took a romance hero and put him in an historical mystery series. My thinking is, if you’re going to spend years with a character (or even just several enjoyable hours of reading), why not have him be young and sexy and endlessly fascinating?
So yes, Sebastian is dark and dangerous and deliciously tortured. The heir to an earldom who spent six years at war, he suffers from what we would today recognize as post-traumatic stress disorder. For Sebastian, solving mysteries and bringing justice to the victims of murder becomes a way to fight his demons, a way to make amends for some of the shadowy, mysterious incidents in his past. But during the course of the series, Sebastian must also come to grips with some seriously wrenching revelations in his own personal life as he discovers long-buried truths that make him question who–and what—he really is.
Sebastian has two complicated loves in his life: Kat Boleyn and Hero Jarvis, both incredibly strong, independent-minded women who are nevertheless very different from each other in personality and background. An Irish-born actress whose sympathies lie with England’s enemies, Kat is a woman with a past as shadowy and tormented as Sebastian’s. Hero, while born into Sebastian’s world, is the daughter of his most bitter enemy, Charles, Lord Jarvis, an omnipotent and ruthless Machiavellian king-maker who is the true power behind the Crown Prince’s fragile regency—and who has sworn to see Sebastian dead.
Thanks to the alchemy of fiction, what has been years for me equates to only eighteen months in Sebastian’s life. In fact, Where Shadows Dance takes up just days after the previous book in the series, What Remains of Heaven, ends. This book was particularly fun to write as it begins with a delicious premise: What if Sebastian’s friend, the anatomist and surgeon Paul Gibson, were to buy a cadaver from London’s notorious body snatchers only to discover that the gentleman in question—a diplomat with the Foreign Office—had been secretly murdered?
This story is also fun because it enables me to indulge my love of history. In a previous life, I was a history professor, so I have enjoyed tying many of the mysteries in the series to actual events of the time. The summer of 1812 was a pivotal point in Western history: it was the summer Napoleon invaded Russian, Wellington began turning the tide in the Peninsula, and several crucial European alliances shifted. It also turns out to be a very critical turning point in Sebastian’s life.
I’ve just finished the seventh book in the series, When Maidens Mourn, and am currently in the thick of plotting book number eight. Sebastian has many adventures still ahead.
- CS Harris
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