Cover Chat: The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe

Beloved historical romance author Shana Abe debuted in 1998 and received immediate attention for her lush voice. But she certainly didn’t rest on her “published author” laurels for long, after just a few books Abe began adding fantasy elements to her tales, like shapeshifters and time travel. Her Drakon series kicked off with The Smoke Thief, which won an RT Reviewers’ Choice award in 2005 and introduced readers to dragon shapeshifters that would capture our imagination — and our hearts. So we were thrilled to learn that the author will once again be breaking new ground with a new paranormal historical series.

Book one, The Sweetest Dark, will hit shelves on August 21st and features the paranormal and historical elements that are this author’s signature style. When TSD picks up, we’re in England during 1915 — that’s smack dab in the second year of WWI for those of you who don’t normally head historical for your reading — and mysterious circumstances bring seventeen-year-old orphan Lora Jones to the elite (but oh so gothic) boarding school, Iverson. Lora has always been connected to an otherness, and according to the book’s official synopsis, literally, “hears songs that no one else can hear, dreams vividly of smoke and flight, and lives with a mysterious voice inside her that insists she’s far more than what she seems.”

Now, a secret heritage and the politics of the boarding school of the rich and royal would certainly be enough to keep me up at night pondering my future, but Lora’s life is further complicated by not one, but two romantic interests. There’s Jesse, the young and handsome Iverson groundskeeper. And just from the back cover blurb, we know that Jesse “recognizes Lora for who and what she truly is.” This should be stone cold fantastic, but I doubt he'll be all, “Hey Lora, nice to meet you, by the way here’s your missing heritage.” And even if he were to say that, the chances that Lora would believe him? Well, I’m guessing that they aren’t too high. But it’s not just Jesse vying for Lora’s attention, the mysterious (and aristocratic) Armand also has his eye on Iverson’s newest student, and he holds the key to Lora’s past. Champagne problems, am I right? Except that on top of all of this, evil is coming to Iverson and Lora must use all of her abilities — even the ones she can barely control — to protect the life (and the guy, or is it guys?) she’s come to love.

And if this love triangle is not enthralling enough, one look at The Sweet Dark’s stunning cover and I knew this story was headed straight to the top of my TBR pile. From the beautiful dress with ribbon sleeves to the swirling fog and that romantic title, it is all indicative of the sweeping Abe story inside. (Although regardless of the light purple color and swirly font, that slightly oversized second s looks a little bit sinister to me. Almost as if it’s saying, “Danger, Orphan Lora, daaaaanger.”) And speaking of our talented heroine, the artist perfectly captured her gaze, she may be lying down but this girl is not going to roll over and let evil engulf Iverson!

So I want to know, what do you think of the cover art for The Sweetest Dark? Tell me in the comments below. And for more genre coverage be sure to check out RT's Everything Romance Page!