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Amaranthine Rain: (a Short-Story Collection) Paperback – April 19, 2016
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About the Author
Zander Vyne's work has been included in the "Best of the Erotica Readers and Writers Association", the legendary "Red Scream" magazine, "The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica" (11 and 12) and many, many other publications in print and online. She lives in Chicago, Illinois. These days, she spends most of her time running a small press publishing and author services company and writing mainstream fiction under another name. The bestselling author of the "Tales of a Vampire Hunter" series, Zander still loves writing short, dark, twisty stories. Her collection, "Amaranthine Rain", is still a bestseller on Amazon. Zander started writing in high school (where she got suspended for running an underground newspaper and writing short stories for other students just for the fun of it). She decided to get serious about the craft after a stint at a film production company in LA, where she read over 1,000 scripts. During that time, she lived on a 36' Erickson sailboat, ran a successful pet sitting business and never imagined the success she would someday enjoy as a writer. Now, she loves giving back to other writers. Still an avid reader, she's been known to read a book a day and often publishes book reviews to share her love of books with others. Somedays, she dreams of setting sail around the world with her adopted American Dingo, Riley or settling down in a wee cottage by the sea in Scotland. And, always, she's plotting another story or book and never plans to give up writing.
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Several stories play with conventional notions of guilt and innocence. In the first, “In the Name of the Father,” a caring priest hears the confession of one of his most faithful parishioners, week after week. The problem is that she is the wife of an abusive gangster who is too afraid to report her husband to the police, or to escape from him without help. The viewpoint is third-person, yet the reader experiences Father Michael’s dilemma.
Isabella, who appears both as a victim and a temptress, is “old enough to be his mother,” but there is “something ripe about her, something fresh and sensual.”
Michael wants to save Isabella from hell on earth, but he also wants to save himself. Eventually, he and she devise an escape strategy, but the reader never knows how trustworthy she is. Could she be following orders from the thug who controls her? Could she be playing an elaborate game of her own? The one thing made clear in the last paragraph is that Father Michael has followed his best and worst impulses to go to a place that is strange to him. Whether he will find heaven or hell remains to be seen.
The BDSM story, “Whiter Than Snow,” is a more straightforward metaphor. Katie goes to the Church of de Sade, where she confesses her sins and is then absolved through sexual punishment. It’s a neat trick, especially since women in particular are still usually raised to believe that lust is inherently sinful.
The title story, “Amaranthine Rain,” is about a kind of archetypal American professional man (a lawyer) named Jack who reaches a crisis-point when a storm literally overwhelms him while he is out boating. This is a situation that he never expected to be in, and it prompts him to remember mistreating his wife, Diane, from whom he has felt alienated for a long time. His reunion with her is both hopeful and heartbreaking.
How could rain be “amaranthine?” Amaranth is a genus of short-lived, perennial plants (i.e. they grow back each growing season). The life-threatening rain of a storm is both of the moment and timeless.
Approximately half the pieces in this collection are paranormal or fantasy tales, including “Amethyst’s Feather,” in which a princess must leave a life of conventional comfort to find her true love, the beast-man of the woods, “The Last Sacrifice,” about a bittersweet rescue from sure death, and two vampire stories, “The House Across the Street” and “Vacancy.”
In “La Belle Mort,” a historical story reprinted from an anthology of gothic erotica, Red Velvet and Absinthe, features an orphaned heroine who has been falsely accused of theft by a lecher who believes he can pressure her into submission. The man who saves her from fear is a very unlikely hero. In a more cheerful story, “The Way of a Man with a Maid,” a Londoner named Prudence finds the improper book of the same title in a book shop, brings it to the Great Exhibition of 1851, gets advice from a Romany fortune-teller, and finds her prospects improved.
All the stories are worth reading, although some might give you nightmares. But then, sleep is overrated.