Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Antique Charming Blog Tour: Excerpt and review

Title: Antique Charming 
Author: Natalie-Nicole Bates
Genre: Paranormal Romance

The night he came home…forever.

Third-generation funeral director Lizzie Morton is about to have her dream realized. She has purchased the long abandoned Nichols Funeral Home and its upstairs flat, determined to restore the funeral home to its once former glory. But a late night visitor, Adam Nichols, claims the funeral home still belongs to his family. Lizzie scoffs at his odd behaviour and outlandish claims, but when a vintage photograph appears, she soon realizes, to her horror, that Adam Nichols did once own the funeral home—more than one hundred years ago—and now she has allowed this entity to pass into her home.

Guest Post by Natalie-Nicole Bates  
The Allure of the Short Story

Since the release of my short story, Antique Charming, I have been consistently asked the same question—Why did I opt to write it as a short story versus a full-length novel?

The answer is actually quite simple. From the start, Antique Charming was always intended to be a short story. It was meant to be six hours in the life of Lizzie Morton. A sensual, delicious little bite to leave the reader asking questions, especially, just who or perhaps better…what exactly is Adam Nichols?

I am delighted that the story has sparked debate among its readers, even controversy. This was my intent. As a writer, it’s very easy to stick to a formula where all of the storylines are neatly tied up with pretty little bows by the end of the story. The curtain falls, all questions answered. But why is this an absolute necessity? Of course it brings a sense of closure for the reader. But why shouldn’t the reader be able to speculate her own conclusion to the story?

So, just how did Antique Charming come to be, and from my perspective, exactly what is Adam Nichols?

I am an avid collector of Victorian and Edwardian-era photographs. To me, there is much beauty in these black and white stills. Last spring, I found a photograph from an online seller that completely captivated me. The size of a postcard, but printed on a much thicker stock was the image of a funeral home (I come from a long line of folks in the funeral care business). Outside, a very handsome man stands proudly with his hands clasped in front of him, most likely one of the owners at the time. Although the photo is slightly faded, you can still clearly make out the reflection in the glass of a black funeral carriage tied with elaborate ribbons. The back of the photo reads in very elegant script, Week of Oct-11-1896.

Although the photo was pricy, I splurged and bought it for myself.

When I finally held it in my hands, I was in love. It was then that an idea occurred to me. What if a very lovely lady who is just starting out in the funeral business buys this particular funeral home, determined to restore it to its former glory. And what would happen if one night this woman was visited by the very handsome man in the photo who claims to still own the funeral home?

To me, the idea seemed like a good one. He wasn’t a ghost or a vampire. The closest I could describe him is as a dybbuk. In Jewish folklore, the wandering soul of a dead person that enters the body of a living person and controls his or her behaviour. But even is dybbuk isn’t quite accurate.

At the end of the day, it is you, the reader, who will decide just what Adam Nichols really is. I never expected so many readers to write and ask me for a full length novel. Perhaps at some future time I will speak with my publisher about turning it into a full novel. But for right now, my photographs are beginning to speak to me again and just maybe inspiring a few more paranormal spins.
Book Excerpt: 

She heard it again.

The same time as last Friday night.

Three taps at her front door.

Lizzie muted the television, tossed the blanket off of her body and scurried out of bed. She slipped her robe over her shoulders and tied it securely, determined to find out who in the world would knock at her door at three in the morning. By the time she had reached the door the week previous, no one was there. The street had been dark and still.

It had to be a mistake. She had only recently closed sale on the long abandoned funeral home, determined to restore it to its once former glory. She had only been living in the upstairs flat for a few weeks.

As she hurried down the staircase, each step beneath her feet creaked in protest. There was no one visible through the peephole. She unchained the door and opened it just enough to peek around it.

No one was there, just like the previous week.

The street was dark and quiet. Not even the whisper of a wind could be detected. Only the cold dampness of the October night raised a chill on her skin.

Who was playing this weekly joke on her? Could it be the ghosts of some departed soul who had passed through the halls of Nichols Funeral Home sometime during the past century? A small smile crossed her lips as she prepared to close and lock the door. She was a third generation Funeral Director. Did she now believe in ghosts?

Before the door could close, a hand poked into the slight space and seized her wrist. A cry rose in her throat and she jerked backward, but the hand held tight and the door flung open.

The man emerged, shrouded in darkness. He was an ethereal creature, tall, and dressed in anonymous black. Only a streetlight glowed behind him.

“I’m home,” he announced.

Purchase links: Publisher | Amazon 

About the author: Natalie-Nicole Bates is a book reviewer and author. 

Her passions in life include books and hockey along with Victorian and Edwardian era photography and antique poison bottles. Natalie contributes her uncharacteristic love of hockey to being born in 

She currently resides in the UK where she is working on her next book and adding to her collection of 19th century post-mortem photos. 

Author links: Website | Twitter | Facebook  

Our review:
I usually review novels or novellas so when I approached the thought of reviewing a short story--at seven pages in length--I really had to tailor my approach to it. My first impulse was to very obviously state the story was too short to think about critically. After some time, I realized the length was not a problem, it was me. More thinking. So here is my first review for a short story.

Antique Charming is a dense story of mystery set amidst a dark Victorian England night. Bates applies a deft hand to her description in her fully realized setting. A young woman has purchased a funeral home with the intent of renovating it and making it a successful business. As the Director, she is full of ideas and comes from a family of funeral directors. Confident and smart, Lizzie is settling in for the evening when a knock raps against her front door. This has happened before and when she looks out, no one is there. Never a believer in spirits, Lizzie's doubt is beginning to crack. She opens the door. No one is there. Until a hand grabs her and a male voice proclaims he is "home."

The story introduces our main character, Lizzie, and her internal conflict. She knows she is a better Funeral Director than the men in her family. Because of society's norms, she has to prove herself. When a stranger barges into her home, she relents and lets him stay, laying the groundwork for external conflict. She notices his differences in speech, in dress and thinking. Is this man for real? Even though I wasn't surprised by the twist which has been done before, it was executed well and certainly held my interest. Despite it's shortness in pages, Antique Charming is an engrossing story that ended way before I wanted it to which is a testament of my liking Ms. Bates' writing. After reading the author's guest post above, the picture she used for her inspiration (which is an awesome idea) came to life and was fully fleshed out in her story.

Rating: 3.5 stars Liked it.

Cover comment: It's a cool cover.

Book source: I received an ebook version of this story for my honest review during a book tour.


  1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review Antique Charming, I very much appreciate it and thank you for featuring it at yor lovely blog!