Friday, February 4, 2011

Stephanie Burkhart on Location, Location, Location

Today I have a very wonderful guest stopping by, fellow Desert Breeze author Stephanie Burkhart. I read an advanced copy of her book The Count's Lair, Book 2 in the Budapest Moon series and fell in love with the settings she described and how they fit with the mood of the story. So, I asked if she'd come by and talk about the importance of setting and location. I hope you all give her a wonderful welcome and stay tuned to the end because there's an opportunity to win a prize.
Steph, take it away!


I'm excited to be here at Amber's blog. Thanks so much for having me here today.

Just a little about me: I was born in Manchester, New Hampshire. After graduating from Central High, I joined the US Army. I spent 11 years in the military, 7 in Germany. While in the military, I earned a BS in Political Science from California Baptist University in Riverside, CA in 1995. I left the Army in 1997 and settled in California, but my favorite football team is still the New England Patriots. I work for LAPD as a 911 dispatcher. I've been married for 19 years. I have two boys, Andrew, 8, and Joseph, 4.

Location, Location, Location

The Count's Lair, Book 2 in the Budapest Moon series is set in Budapest, Hungary during Christmas time in 1901.

So just how important is setting?

Location establishes a mood, a feel, an ambiance, a tone for a novel. It provides the stage for the play your characters are going to perform on. For me, as a writer, location is everything.

The Count's Lair is a paranormal romance. It's set in Budapest for a very deliberate reason – because in Hungary you just might believe a paranormal being like a vampire or a werewolf still exists. Hungary is in Central Europe, the cross roads where East meets West on the continent.

Budapest itself invokes mystery – dark mystery – just by the name. The architecture which grew out of Budapest starting in the 1840's with the Széchenyi Bridge, encompassing the Parliament building, and Fisherman's Bastian also helps to establish a more "haunting," "moodier" setting.

Amelia and Anton's story shines in the light and hope of Christmas, but still, there will always be an element of haunting melancholy to the challenges they face and Budapest captures that mood and wraps the couple in its embrace.

Here's a blurb:

Count Anton Varga is haunted by the curse of the moon. It tugs on his emotions, ravishing his soul. Anton abhors the beast he must learn to tame if he is to find peace. Lady Amelia Andrássy is an accomplished pianist, but her life in Budapest had been filled with heartache. When Amelia faints in the Duma's bookstore, it's Anton's strong arms that cradle her fall. His unusual indigo eyes spark with hers, replacing their individual loneliness with the promise of feral passion. 

After a two month separation, Anton is ready to walk into Amelia's life again, but is Amelia ready to fan the spark they shared into a flame? 

Enjoy this excerpt:

Anton stepped aside so the man could pass. "Amelia, to be honest about my intentions, I want to court you."

"Court me?" She stepped back.

He grabbed her wrist, as if desperate to keep her near him. His eyes impaled her, making her breathless. Was it too soon to think of always and forever with him? Had he really changed? Her heart believed so. Now, she just had to convince her head.

"I have no one to ask for permission, but you. Search your heart. I care for you deeply. I want to explore this, Amelia, but only if you do. I swear I'm ready for this."

Her lips trembled as she stepped forward, moved by the conviction in his voice. Dare she fall in love again? The chance was worth it. "Yes."

"Thank you." He wrapped his arms around her, infusing her with his warmth.

She melted against the length of his body, savoring the contact. It felt right.

He parted from her, placed his hands on her upper arms, and looked at her. "The feelings I have when I'm near you are nothing like I've had before, but--"

"Go on." She prompted when he delayed too long.

"But I have a secret, too -- a secret that chokes me when I think of telling you."

"Anton--" A secret?

He held up his hand. "Let me finish. I promise to tell you, but I can't right now. I can only give you clues."


"You must accept this, Amelia. I know it may be unusual, but it's the only way I can think of to be honest with you."

Taken off guard, she faced him. Anton's full lips and smoldering eyes riveted her to him. In fact, his looks were everything she was attracted to in a man, but it all came down to trust. Could she trust him? If she said yes to him right now, then she was giving him her trust, which included his secret.

"How many clues do you have?"

"Three. Once you know my secret, if you want to break our courtship, you can. I'll understand."

Her body shivered. Was his secret dangerous? Even if it was, did she care? A part of her just wanted to throw herself into his arms and let come what may. Another part of her told her to keep her feet firmly on the ground.


The Count's Lair is avail as ebook for Kindle, B&N Nook, Sony Ereader, and Kobo. You can also download a copy from the Publisher's Website at:

Goodie time: Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win a coffee mug stuffed with goodies of "The Count's Lair" cover. I'll be back later to announce the winner.

You can find me on the web at:






  1. Wow--the excerpt makes you want to read more. I didn't know if I would like this, but the old saying "you can't judge a book by it's cover" is so true. Loved what I read.

    Sharon Craver

  2. Another wonderful post, Steph and Amber. Enjoyed it. AND I agree, setting is very important!

  3. WOOOHOOO, I can't wait to find the three clues!!! Steph, I admire your energy. Your settings are so beautiful.

  4. Sharon,
    The focus is on the man, not the beast, that's what I love about the series. Glad you enjoyed the excerpt.

    Thanks for popping in, Sweetie. It's always nice to see you.

    I loved the whole ideas about the 3 clues. I always try to pick unique settings. You've inspired with the international locales.


  5. Thank you Step for dropping by and visiting us!

    @ Doc - I know. I read this book and I'm telling you it is a top notch read. I loved the characters and the plot but the settings really give it that extra "it".

    @ Jillian - Thank you! It's not a party without you chickie!

    @ Mona - The 3 clues are a fun idea and yes, she has amazing energy.

  6. Hey Steph,

    I love how setting is a character in this series. Folks, I've read Steph's Moonlight Sonata and The Hungarian, the first book in this series. In both of these stories, Steph's setting added depth and dimension to the romance and the paranormal elements. I'm sure this book is every bit as good as her others.



  7. Excellent setting, different than the average amorphous European country.

    I do like the cover.

    Congrats, Stephanie!

  8. enjoyed the post. Setting is often another character. I know it plays a big time role in my new tome Mery Acres Widows Waltz. Best to you Steph and Amber with all your works

  9. @ Maggie - Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I just got the Hundarian (Book 1 of the series ya'll) and can't wait to read it.

    @ Marva - Hey you! Glad you came by the hang out. I haven't been reading a lot of werewolf just for that fact that the stories have become stereotypical. But this one is soooo NOT. It's character driven and brings them beyond their paranormal basics.

    @ Nan - Thanks for coming by and for the well wishes! I'll have to look into your tome.

  10. Maggie,
    I'm so glad you enjoyed Moonlight Sonata and The Hungarian! It's always nice to see you pop in.

    Yes, Hungary is definately different. I enjoyed doing my research on the series.

    Yes a lot of the paranormal stories involving vampires and werewolf are very stereotypical and follow a forumla, that's why I'm picky with mine.

    Thanks for popping in. Your title is intriguing.

  11. Nice blog post-to the two of you. Do I like the cover and the pictures. The series sound intriguing.

  12. Congrats to Doc Nani for winning my goodie mug. Sharon, can you send me an email to or so I can get your snail mail and mail you out your prize?