Monday, September 5, 2011

The Count's Lair - 2011 Winner, Silver, Reader's Favorites in Romance: Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Imagine my surprise when I popped into my email the other day and discovered that my book, The Count's Lair, won the 2011 Reader's Favorites, Romance:Sci-Fi/Fantasy Silver award. 2nd Place. That's not too shabby. :)

A little about The Count's Lair

The story was a natural, organic story that grew out of "The Hungarian." Count Anton Varga had been the "villian" in "The Hungarian." As werewolf, Anton was finding it hard to control the feral nature of the beast as a man and sought attention from Katherine, Matthias's wife. Then, a chance encounter with Lady Amelia Andrassy in the Duma bookstore changed everything for him and made him question his motives, his wants, his desire, and even the direction of his soul.

That lay the ground work for "Moonlight Sonata," a 21K "prequel" free read. Anton seeks out Amelia to offer his emotional support just after the death of her cheating husband. Amelia welcomes his friendship, but is not ready for more. Instead, she goes off on a six week piano tour of the Austrian-Hungary Empire to find herself.

The Count's Lair was my 2009 NaNoWriMo project. I met with my friened, Jenifer Ranieri at the local coffeehouse to work on the project and had a blast. I wrote close to 54K words that November and met my NaNoWriMo goal, but there was more to go. I actually finished the novel the following January.

The novel is set in Budapest, Hungary in 1901 during the Christmas season. Ah, what a romantic time of year to fall in love. Anton has also taken a personal journey, traveling to Sopron, near the Austrian border to find peace with his soul. He determines in order to win Amelia's love, he must forgive himself for his past indescitions and be a "noble" man - one deserving of Amelia's affections.

Why Budapest? I had an opportunity to travel to Budapest in 1997 as part of a USO tour and I loved the city. The people were so open and friendly. The aritecture was haunting, yet beautiful, capturing the ambience of the immediate past century. It was a place where you could believe werewolves might exist.

Anton and Amelia's story had to be one of the most favorite stories I've written to date. He's the dark, brooding, handsome count, Amelia is the idealist, wanting to fall in love, but afraid it won't meet up to her expectation. It's a great story. Here are some reviews:

Ralph Fienes, Character inspiration for "Anton"

5 Stars, Readers Favorite:
The Count's Lair is filled with suspense, mystery, passion, and the paranormal.

5 Stars, Long & Short Reviews
Want a recipe for a great story? Take an awesome writer like Ms. Burkhart, stir in her intimate knowledge of Hungary, her innate ability to create wonderful characters, a book-full of suspense, mystery and passion and you get a book you can't put down.

5 Stars, Tami Dee, Author of the Mists Time of Series
Budapest Moon book two The Count's Lair is everything a romance novel should be.

Pen and Muse Reviews:
Burkhart does it again with book two in the Budapest Moon book series, The Count’s Lair. The second book is filled with passion, chock full of paranormal goodness, romance, suspense and mystery.

The manor had grown quieter. The orchestra still played music, but at a softer tempo. The clattering of dishes and the clicking of glasses came from the direction of the kitchen.

The guest rooms were deep within the mansion, toward the south end. Anton took Amelia to the last room in the hall, facing east. He opened the door, and she followed him inside. The room was dark. He flicked a switch near the door, and a small lamp on a dresser came on.

Amelia surveyed the compact room. A double bed rested against the side wall, next to a small door. On the opposite side of the bed was a nightstand. Across from it, next to the fireplace, was a dresser, along with a mirror and another small door.

Anton walked toward the door on the other side of the bed. "This is the washroom, and a small closet is over there."

Amelia nodded. Anton placed her vase of flowers on the dresser. She went to the window and looked out. It faced the Danube and the parliament building.

"What a nice view," she whispered.

He walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her, pressing his chest against her back. "That's why I chose it for you. The view is magnificent."

His seductive voice and intimate touch made her insides grow warm. She loved to feel the full length of his hard body against hers. They didn't say anything for several minutes. Then he slowly turned her in his arms and kissed her.

She molded her body to his, threading her fingers through his hair, pulling him toward her. She needed to feel him. His sweet tongue pierced the warm barrier of her mouth, and she gladly allowed him to explore. Uncomfortable warmth pooled inside her and slowly radiated out to her arms and legs.

Amy Adams, inspiration for "Amelia"

"I've missed this," he whispered between deep kisses. "So have I." He trailed his honey wet lips down her neck. "I've dreamed of you, Amelia. I've dreamed of you running your hands over my body--" She placed her hands against his cheeks and broke contact with his mouth to look into his eyes, recalling her earlier thoughts about turning him into a mess. "You want me to touch you? More intimately?"

He said nothing, only his eyes, now a deep sapphire blue, expressed his desire. She placed her hands on his white shirt and slid them under his dinner jacket. He wiggled his shoulders, and the garment dropped to the floor. Then she wrapped her hands around his neck, undid his tie, and placed it on the dresser.

He put his hands on her waist, drawing her closer. She started at the top button on his shirt and unfastened them. Her fingers fumbled on the third or fourth one, and he placed his hands over hers, helping to guide her. When she finished, his white shirt hung loosely over his shoulders.







  1. Congratulations on your Silver Medal. Feels like you're an Olympic medalist, right? I hope so.

    Congratulations on all your writing success, Steph. You've sure had a wonderful year of stories and releases and so much more is still coming. Great job!


  2. Congrats to you on your Silver Medal win Steph..WTG Girl...

  3. Thank you, ladies. It does feel a little like being an Olympic medalist. hehe.


  4. Sorry for popping in late, Steph. Congrats on the silver medal. That's quite an honor and a great way to cap off a busy year of great releases for you.