Sinners’ Opera is set in Charleston, South Carolina, one of my favorite cities in the world (that I’ve visited). It’s beautiful and on the ocean—two requirements of being a favorite. I’d simply love to live in one of the Antebellum mansions along the Battery. If you ever visit Charleston, take a buggy ride around the historic sights.
Charles Towne was founded in 1670, during the reign of Charles II of England. This is important in the book because Morgan (the hero) became a vampire in 1659, and in 1670, the King sent him to the new colony to inspect its progress. Later, he returns to watch over a baby girl (the heroine) as she grows to womanhood.
Charleston boasts cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and pastel Antebellum houses, particularly in the elegant French Quarter and Battery districts. The Battery promenade and Waterfront Park both overlook Charleston Harbor. Fort Sumter, a federal stronghold where the first shots of the Civil War were fire, lies across the water.
Two beaches, Folly Beach and Isle of Palms, are near Charleston. Another requirement for a favorite of mine.
In nearby Mt. Pleasant, you can visit Boone Hall plantation. Some of the tours they offer are, "Exploring The Gullah Culture", House Tours, Plantation Coach Tour, Black History In America Exhibit, Slave Street and History Presentation, Garden Tour, and a Butterfly Pavilion.
My personal favorite is the Dock Street Theater, America’s first theater. On February 12, 1736, the Dock Street opened with The Recruiting Officer. Flora, the first opera performed in America took place at the Dock Street. Now, the Dock Street is owned and managed by the City of Charleston. I was enthralled by it when I went for a concert. The Dock Street looks like a 17th century playhouse with rows of wooden benches in the orchestra seating. The boxes overlooking the floor are draped in dark green, almost black velvet. The stage backdrop is an antique tapestry of Charleston Harbor. Photo Credit: By Frances Benjamin Johnston.
The Battery is a street along the seawall on the Atlantic Ocean. The pastel and colorful Antebellum mansions cost in the millions. When I was writing Sinners’ Opera, I drove up and down the Battery until the residents must have thought I lived there…or was a stalker. I finally chose a house for my hero. It’s Roper House, a brick structure with green shutters and a Greek portico to the left. A beautiful house, but because the main attraction, the portico, is on the side, it looks like the house has its shoulder to the sea. A house with secrets.
I’ve driven those cobblestone streets in my little red Miata, eaten at some good downtown restaurants (never made Magnolias for shrimp and grits), and have gone to the Dock Street for a piano concert. Morgan is a concert pianist, an English lord, and a vampire.
If I haven’t yet inspired you to visit Charleston on your next vacation, what can I say? Real movie stars are moving to Charleston, and it is one of the most concentrated centers of wealth in this country. It’s also famous for art (Spoleto), culture, and history—and entertainment galore.
Morgan D'Arcy is an English lord, a classical pianist, and a vampire. He has everything except what he desires most—Isabeau. As the Angel Gabriel he’s steered her life and career choice, preparing her to become Lady D'Arcy. Many forces oppose Morgan's daring plan—not the least of which is Vampyre law.
Isabeau Gervase is a brilliant geneticist Though she no longer believes in angels, she sees a ticket to a Nobel Prize in Gabriel's secrets—secrets that have led her to a startling conclusion. Gabriel isn't human, and she fully intends to identify the species she named the Angel Genome. Morgan is ready to come back into Isabeau's life, but this time as a man not an angel. Will he outsmart his enemies, protect his beloved and escape death himself? For the first time in eternity, the clock is ticking.
Kirsty fanned with the program. “However, I’m delighted to inherit his seat. Culture, especially in the form of a rich bachelor, is something sadly missing from my life. How does Lady Kirsty D’Arcy sound?”
“Like a tongue-twister.” She tapped her friend’s arm with the heel of her hand.
Isabeau wasn’t looking when Morgan D’Arcy mounted the stage.
She turned. Her smile solidified. Applause erupted as the pianist glided to the piano. The way he moved, his feet scarcely seeming to touch the floor, was hauntingly familiar. He ducked his audience an elegant bow, the spotlight haloing golden hair. Isabeau’s heart kicked her ribs. A trembling hand shot out to grip Kirsty’s arm.
“What’s the matter?” Her friend passed a hand before Isabeau’s eyes. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Staring at the man on stage, Isabeau nodded. I’ll be darned. Here’s your ghost again. And here I am one heartbeat away from another heartache.
“His hair is tied back with a black velvet ribbon,” Isabeau breathed, and a man hissed for her to be quiet, but she didn’t spare him a thought or a glance.
An invisible chord drew her forward in her seat, her hands clasped beneath her chin, her heart in the grip of impossible dreams. A hush fell over the audience as Morgan D’Arcy drifted leaf-like, angel-like, to the bench and adjusted the height. He closed his eyes, tilted his head back and flexed his long fingers. The pianist extended exquisite hands over the keys. Emeralds winked in his gold cufflinks. Isabeau couldn’t peel her gaze off him.
Morgan D’Arcy was the spitting image of Gabriel.
He bent low over the keyboard, holding a thunderous chord. A wisp of hair escaped his ponytail to brush the keys. Eyes closed, he straightened, fingers blurring over black and white notes. In the timeless vacuum of beauty, an hour sped by. The last trill of Gaspard de la nuit died. A collective sigh swept the dark theater. Isabeau exhaled a pent-up breath. A wave of applause washed the audience to their feet.
Morgan D’Arcy rested his hand on the piano’s glistening wing and gave his fans a dazzling smile. To the standing ovation, he folded his hands in front of him. His bow was as elegant as the man himself. The wayward gold strand drifted over his eye. Isabeau remembered a child’s hand…her little hand…brushing back hair like that, hair as silken as the shiver gliding over her. He straightened, swept the audience with an enchanting gaze. Radiant blue eyes captured hers. The foundations of her carefully ordered life shook.
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