Friday, August 20, 2010

Today's Special -- Monica Burns

We are delighted to welcome back the super-talented Monica Burns to The Romance Dish! Monica's new series, The Order of the Sicari, is garnering mounds of praise all over the 'net. The first, Assassin's Honor, released in June and was reviewed here by Andrea. The second (and latest) book, Assassin's Heart, releases September 7th! So, without further ado, please give Monica a warm welcome!

First a big thanks to all the gals at the Romance Dish for letting me guest blog in celebration of my newest release Assassin’s Heart. It’s always such a pleasure to talk different dishes of romance. *smile* Any chance I get to talk romance and the words of it, I get excited. Take this beautiful piece of prose.

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy (Hamlet by Shakespeare).”

What I take away from Shakespeare’s words is that as human beings, we don’t have all the answers to what makes the cosmos run. Perhaps that very thought explains my fascination with the spiritual and the supernatural. Seriously, there aren’t many 12-year-olds who are running around reading Edgar Cayce and asking questions that made my father (due to his traditionally conservative dogma) uncomfortable. Then there are the fascinating discoveries being made almost daily about physics on the sub-atomic level that lend credence to the notion that something larger than ourselves was at work when we were developed oh so many years ago. Now don’t panic, this post isn’t going to delve into spiritual matters. And I won’t pull Steven Hawkings out of the hat to lecture you with. I’m just gearing up from my example of past lives.

I’ve got two pictures here. The first one is me at the age of 14 in my aunt’s wedding. This is probably the best picture that has ever been taken of me. I love the wide-eye look on my face. But what I love the most is that when I look at this picture I feel timeless. Now I want you to look at the two figures in the other jpg. Do you notice anything interesting? Go ahead, look at them both, I’ll wait.

Look pretty similar don’t we. Well, I’m not going to give you the exact year that my picture was taken, but mid-70s should suffice. The other one?? Well it’s a close-up of a portrait done in 1878 by Sir John Millais of the two Princes Edward and Richard who were allegedly murdered by their uncle, who took the throne of England as Richard III (Shakespeare anyone?).

What I like to point out about these two pictures when I show them to people is that either somewhere in the past there are genetics that point to these portrait models being related to me or they’re an example of one of the past lives I believe I’ve lived. About 20 years ago, I found an Italian painting of a Madonna that I bore a striking resemblance to. Makes me think that some of my past lives over the last several hundred years was as an artist model, not any pay in that!

So what, Monica, does all this have to do with your upcoming release, Assassin’s Heart? Well, the photos are a way of getting you to think about the possibilities of past lives, because that concept is a major factor in the story of Lysander and Phaedra. These two characters shared a past life in ancient Rome, and it plays a major role in resolving their issues in the present, while depicting how the Sicari came into being.

Back before I’d fully conceptualized the series, I wrote a five-page scene of a Roman General and his wife. The two were very much in love, and their story was one I really wanted to tell, but I didn’t know how. At least, I didn’t know how until Lysander came barreling into my head. I fell in love with him from the get-go, and I think he has become and will remain my favorite hero of all those I’ve written. Something about Lysander has touched me, and I think perhaps it’s his resistance to the unbelievable, and how he comes full circle in his beliefs and understanding of what’s happening around him.

I think part of a good story line is bringing characters from point A to point B showing a growth in some area of their lives. Lysander does that. He starts out as a cynic, and with Phaedra’s love and belief in him, he comes full circle to achieve the destiny he was born to. One of my favorite lines from the movie, Return of the Mummy, is when Brandon Fraser sees the tattoo on his arm on the wall of the Scorpion King’s tomb, as his gaze skims the drawing on the wall, he says, “Okay, now I’m a believer.” Lysander has that same type of ah ha moment, and by the end of the story, he’s a believer as well.

Assassin’s Heart is also about second chances. It’s about getting a re-do to either makeup for something we failed to do in the distant past or to experience a love of a lifetime one more time. As for me, well, I’m a firm believer. I’ve seen too many “coincidences” in my life to think they’re coincidence. I’m all about second chances.

So what are you? A believer who wants a second chance? A skeptic who doesn’t believe we get second chances?

Monica's publisher, Berkley, is giving away a copy of Assassin's Heart to one lucky commenter!

Contest Rules: Drawing is open to residents in US and Canada. Void where prohibited. Shipping/handling fees for shipment of book outside the US is responsibility of winner. International winners may pay the required postage via PayPal. To ensure as many readers as possible have a chance to win a copy of the book, Monica awards only one book per reader, per household.

To find out more about Monica and her books, please visit her website at: or her blog at:


  1. What a wonderful post Ms. Burns! Love the pics, by the way! Thanks for sharing! It is always awesome with an author shares just a little bit with us!

    If you would have asked me this question ten years ago, I would have told you no that I did not believe in second chances, but now that I have lived my life some... I do believe in second chances. Heck I believe in a lot of things that I never believed in before!
    Thanks for the chance! Your books are amazing!

  2. Yes, I believe in second chances. Of course, one of the rules I live by is "why not?" so I may be biased.


  3. I believe in second, third and even fourth chances, never give up.

  4. Cecile, I'm so glad you enjoyed the post, and obviously, I'm huge on the belief in second chances. *grin* And thank you for the compliment. I love it when a reader says they enjoyed a read of mine.

    Cories, that Why Not rule is a good one to live because it doesn't limit us, it only gives us more possibilities.

  5. Diana, it's all about not giving up, isn't it. Never give up, never surrender. Ahhh....I just love Galaxy Quest! *grin*

  6. Love your post, Monica :) Personally, I don't believe we "get it right" the first time. There are lessons we need to learn, so we might go around the block a few times. I kinda like that idea, actually. It means we don't get a free ride. There are things we need to understand & experience before we complete this journey.

    Hope y'all have a great weekend :)

  7. Hi Monica! Welcome to the Dish! I love your posts. You always make me think.

    I don't know that I'm a "believer" but I'm certainly open to the possibilities, especially after seeing photos like the ones you posted. The resemblance is uncanny. Also, I've experienced too many "unexplained" occurrences in my lifetime to not wonder about what came before...or what happens next.

    Good luck with the new book. Looks like another winner!

  8. Hi Cecile! Like you, the older I get the more things I find myself open to.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  9. Yes, I believe in second chances. Of course, one of the rules I live by is "why not?" so I may be biased.

    Cories, I like the way you think! :)

  10. I believe in second, third and even fourth chances, never give up.

    Dianna, I love your attitude! Think of all the wonders of our world that we'd never have if their creators had given up after one try.

  11. There are lessons we need to learn, so we might go around the block a few times. I kinda like that idea, actually. It means we don't get a free ride. There are things we need to understand & experience before we complete this journey.

    I like that, Stacy and I agree. Many lessons to be learned. Maybe too many for one lifetime?

  12. Hi Stace! I like free ride! Understanding is really critical I think. Especially in today's world where too many people (including moi) often jump to conclusions w/o knowing the full story. *sigh* We're human.

    Hi PJ, thanks to you and all the gals a TRD. It's those unexplained occurrences that make one sit on the fence as opposed to discarding the idea I think. *grin* My experiences over the years have been pretty extraordinary. Of course, you don't meet many people who were reading Edgar Cayce at the age of 12. LOL

  13. That was an interesting post. I believe it's a possibility that we all have had past lives and I definitely believe in second chances.

  14. Good morning, Monica! We are so happy to have you with us today. :) Congrats on your upcoming release!

    I LOVE this blog!!! I absolutely believe in second chances. If not, then I'd probably be saying "what if?" a lot. After reading Assassin's Honor, I can't wait to read Lysander and Phae's journey to their HEA. They so deserve it!!

  15. Cecile said: If you would have asked me this question ten years ago, I would have told you no that I did not believe in second chances, but now that I have lived my life some... I do believe in second chances.

    I can say the same thing, Cecile, except it would be twenty years for me. LOL

  16. Stacy~ said: Personally, I don't believe we "get it right" the first time. There are lessons we need to learn, so we might go around the block a few times. I kinda like that idea, actually. It means we don't get a free ride.

    So true, Stacy. And when we do get it right, it makes the victory even sweeter to know we've earned it. ;-)

  17. Maureen, I wonder if knowing for certain we had a second chance would make us act more irrationally. Sort of like a get out of jail free card. I think the not knowing for sure is a safety net now that I think about it.

    Andrea, I glad you enjoyed the post AND Assassin's Honor. I loved Ares and Emma's story, but Lysander and Phae are special to me. Proably because of my own personal beliefs. I think it makes the book that much more personal

  18. Just finished Assassin's Honor and loved it! Can't wait to read Lysander & Phae's story.

    I'm a skeptic and don't really believe in second chances. I know they're out there, but the likeliness of them happening are slim.

  19. Darla, So glad you're enjoying the series. Skepticism it a given for most folk. I confess I've always believed in the impossible, but then I've always been a bit quirky LOL

  20. Monica, how many books are planned for The Order of the Sicari?

  21. Andrea, I'm currently writing Book 3 in the series, which is the last on the current contract. My hope is that the series is selling well enough that Berkley will contract for 2-3 more I already have 2 more books that I want to write. One of which would be another dark and intense book such as Assassin's Heart. We shall see.

  22. Hey, Monica! Love the blog, and your picture is eerily similar to the princes in the photo.

    I'm a believer in reincarnation. I believe we're here to learn a specific lesson, and most of us have a lot to learn. I'm certain I've been here before and will probably be back for an encore performance. *g*

  23. Gannon, I'm gonna have to come back at least another 100 times to get it right! LOL

    I'll be honest, I think my vivid descriptions in my historicals is based on the fact that I've lived in the era and I remember bits and pieces of it. I know I had to be some type of adventurous soul travling to foreign lands. *grin*

  24. Lovely and very interesting post! I enjoyed the book video, too. Awesome graphics! :)

    Second chances? Yeah, I believe in them. LOL I know the concept makes for excellent books. :)

    I've always wondered what my past life was. Have I always had a keen eye for hot hunks? *wink wink* Definitely a Q to research, eh?!

    One of my fav past life movies is DEAD AGAIN with Emma Thompson. Such a thrilling and suspenseful movie. With all the twists and turns, it's guaranteed to have ya biting nails!

    Love the premise of your books, Monica, and have definitely added ASSASSIN's HONOR to my TBB list. :)

    Thanks, RD ladies for feeding my addiction to great books!! YAY! LOL

  25. Sarah!! OMG Was't Dead Again the most fabulous of movies!!! It's one of my Top 10 movies of all time. I loved it! Glad you enjoyed the video. That one was for Assassin's Honor, and I just got the link for Assassin's Heart. Check it out.

    I picked out the music and graphics and the awesome BookBoost built the video I LOVE it!!

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  27. Great post. Incredible likenesses of you in the two Princes. Amazing.
    I believe in getting 2nd and 3rd chances because I believe that we have to do it until we get it right. :)
    Carol L.

  28. Carol, those two photos ARE amazing IMHO. Seriously, either genetics (and I'm German/Italian) or past life. Go figure. *grin*

  29. Artemis, I think Hawkins is awesome. I've not read any of his work, but I've always watched in fascination whenever he's on TV. He's definitely brilliant

  30. Second chances, forgiveness, serendipity all go hand-in-hand. I think it makes me a better person to believe in all of these.

    jenma76 at hotmail dot com

  31. There is definitely a similarity in the pictures, wide eyed look and all. We could certainly be given second or third or however many chances at life. No great knowledge of previous lives on my part, but there are times when I feel a closeness to a place or event that is a familiarity I can't explain. Why not? There are many unexplained phenomenon. I have had dreams and premonitions of things that have happened (the first one was on my 5th birthday). I have felt and heard things as they happened. Can't explain it and don't really want to.
    I think many of us have these same abilities when we are young, but we don't develop them either because we don't realize we have them or because our family doesn't want to believe they exist. In my case, I was punished for relating my dream and upsetting my family. I had seen my young uncle who was in Korea killed in my dream and knew he was dead. They got the telegram that afternoon. If it isn't acceptable, you bury it and try to ignore it. It is still there, but not as well developed as it could have been.

    I love the sound of both of these books. I look forward to reading them.
    librarypat AT comcast DOT net

  32. I believe in second chances. I've seen some evidence, that this is the case.