|Winner of American Title V, (a contest put on yearly by Dorchester Publishing in which unpublished authors go head to head to gain the votes of fans; the winner ultimately gets a publishing contract and their novel published.) Ancient Whispers is a wild and sexual romp, chalked full of magic, sorcery and fine-lookin’ immortals.
The story starts off in 1755 during the first wave of the forced deportation of the Acadians. Gabriel and Evangeline are lovers who are separated on their wedding day and shipped to separate colonies. Gabriel spends his life searching the North American wilderness for his lost beloved. She dies before Gabriel is able to locate her. Then, through a series of vague circumstances, Gabriel becomes immortal and is bound to a coven of sorcerers and alchemists who call themselves the Priory.
Flash forward to present day. Gabriel runs a business out of his house with one of his immortal buddies and basically just exists, until he receives a phone call from Morag, the High Priestess of the clan. She informs him that he needs to come to her cabin home immediately as Evangeline’s soul has returned to the living and that Gabriel will soon be rejoined with his beloved if they can find her. ‘Soon’ is a bit of an understatement, as Gabriel meets Evangeline at the gas station on the way to Morag’s home.
Lily is a rather straight-laced nurse who decides to spend a weekend with some friends at a friend’s cabin. While up there, she runs into a sexy stranger at the gas station (guess who?). That evening she manages to get lost in the woods and is conveniently found and saved by Gabriel who whisks her back to Morag’s cabin home.
Now Gabriel has to woo his ex-fiancée, figure out how to tell her about his immortality and magical powers, tell her that she’s the reincarnated soul of his lost love and do all this while keeping her safe from an old enemy who also has supernatural powers.
Ancient Whispers alternates between being solid and well-paced, and being jumpy and convoluted. I found that from the beginning up to Lily’s rescue is solid. But that night, as she’s laying in bed in Morag’s home, she decides to break character completely and go have sex with Gabriel who, to her, is a total stranger. Now, this is explained away by magic, but it pulled me out of the story somewhat. There wasn’t enough of a transition.
The sex scene that follows, however, is wonderful. Bourque pulls the reader in with this spicy and sexy love scene. The raw chemistry between the two lead characters keeps you engaged and wanting more. In fact, all of her sex scenes are well-executed, descriptive without being distasteful, and very fun to read.
My only real complaints with the book are the pacing in some places (pacing becomes a little bit wonky towards the end of the story as well), and with some of the dialogue. There is one line in the book that makes me cringe, and unfortunately, that is the line the publishing house decided to place on the back cover. So, having read that first, I braced myself for a tacky fantasy story, when Ancient Whispers is anything but tacky.
Ancient Whispers is an excellent first novel. The characters are well-crafted. I found Gabriel’s mix of strength and vulnerability to be touching and endearing. Lily is a strong and non-traditional female heroine. She’s highly family oriented, practical and doesn’t give into Gabriel straight away simply because they are ‘soul mates’ or ‘destined to be together.’
The entire world Bourque has created is magical, and I'm not simply talking about the literal magic in the story. Ancient Whispers is definitely worth picking up and I would recommend the novel to anyone who enjoys paranormal romance, and I look forward to reading more from Marie-Claude Bourque.