“Bewitching” Second Chance Paranormal Romance, 4 Stars
I’m a big fan of Jami Gray’s fantasy romance novels! I’m working my way through all her series now. In the world of the Kyn Kronicles, all the paranormal creatures comprise the Kyn. As is usual for this genre, the Kyn live in the human world but keep their abilities and differences hidden from ordinary people. One of the interesting things the Kyn wrestle with is whether or not to reveal their existence. They know it carries risk, but they are aware that advancing human technology makes it unlikely they will be able to keep their existence secret much longer.
Each book in the series features one couple. Shadow’s Dream is Tala and Cheveyo’s story. They are both powerful witches, heads of their territories, and former lovers. Their story is a second chance romance that includes mystery, suspense, and magic.
I’m completely hooked on this series. Though I have noticed some editing mistakes including typos, grammar errors, and misspelling, the story is so riveting I can overlook these flaws.
I highly recommend all of Jami Gray’s books. I gave this one four stars instead of five only because of the editing issues.
Today’s snippet is Sybilla’s vision from Witch Trial Legacy.
Sybilla Sanborn must break a centuries old curse before everything she cares about goes up in smoke.
Sybilla is a nurse gifted with the ability to heal with her touch but cursed with visions of future tragedies she cannot prevent because no one heeds her warnings. With help from the mediums of the spiritualist town of Cassadaga, Florida, she learns she is descended from both the first person executed for witchcraft in this country and the man who accused her.
Conn Ahern is an Iraq war vet dealing with pain and PTSD while working as a paramedic and struggling to save the ranch his grandmother founded. He’s an atheist who wants nothing to do with the people of the town.
When Conn and Sybilla meet, sparks fly, but not always in a good way, and their relationship fans the flames of jealousy and revenge in someone who doesn’t want them to work things out.
During a séance, her ancestor’s spirit reveals how Sybilla can rid herself of the curse and save Conn, but the price may be too high.
Something tickled Sybilla’s pharynx, then clogged her chest.
Neelie turned to her. “Are you okay?”
Sybilla’s eyes burned and watered. Her lungs constricted, and she gasped. The contaminated air sent her into a coughing jag. Finally, she caught her breath and cleared her throat. “Smoke.”
Neelie sniffed. “I don’t smell anything.”
Tears streamed from Sybilla’s eyes and blurred her vision. She blinked and brushed away the moisture. Flashes of orange light, searing heat, and acrid fumes spewed forth around her. Where is it?
Neelie led her to a bench next to the store. “Sit down.” Grabbing a pamphlet from a nearby table, she fanned Sybilla.
Old wooden structures are tinderboxes. The whole town is in danger, but where do I tell the fire department to go to? Sybilla swiped at her eyes again and stood. With panicked glances around her, she searched for the source of the flames.
Neelie shook her. “Tell me what’s wrong.”
“Fire. Call 911.”
Neelie turned in all directions. “Nothing’s burning.”
Sybilla’s eyes cleared. The suffocating odor disappeared. Oh no, not again. Her gut churned. Must find out more, but I don’t want to worry Neelie and I know better than to tell anyone about the visions. The people I confide in always react the same way.
Brow furrowed and lips pursed, Neelie stared at her.
Sybilla strained her lips into a grin. “Sorry, something made me dizzy for a minute, but I’m okay now. Let’s eat.”
Jennifer Taylor is a friend and one of the finest writers I know. Her books flow with lyrical, beautiful prose. This month I’m featuring her because I love her novels and think you will too.
Reading this series will take you on a fascinating journey even if you’re staying at home.
Here is my review of the first book in her Rhythm of the Moon Series, Mercy of the Moon:
Mercy of the Moon, Jennifer Taylor’s elegant, engrossing novel of a midwife in eighteenth century England, compels the reader to turn page after page.
Maggie Wilson, the midwife who the townspeople of King’s Harbour consider a spinster workhorse, cares for the women of the town as they labor and deliver, always putting their needs ahead of her own. However, when her pregnant sister’s time arrives, Maggie is away and cannot assist with the delivery. When she comes home, she learns of the tragedy—her sister died during childbirth. When Maggie visits her grave, she encounters an intriguing man whose mournful singing reduces her to grief-stricken sobs.
Ian Pierce has returned to England from a trip abroad, only to discover his brother, the town apothecary, died during his absence. As he sings a lament for his brother at the cemetery, he meets Maggie, who soothes his compulsions with her presence. He walks her home and cannot stop thinking of her.
Mercy of the Moon is an enchanting historical romance with a hint of paranormal, which adds a fascinating layer to the tale.
Jennifer Taylor does a magnificent job of bringing the place and time to life, incorporating eighteenth century terms into her lyrical style, so the reader feels transported, and sees, hears, smells, and tastes what it must have been like there and then. She also presents an accurate medical picture of Ian’s “affliction” and the treatment for it.
I picked up this book while dealing with an episode of insomnia. Reading about Ian’s struggle with his condition, which included insomnia, helped me pass the long, dark, hours. I felt like I had a companion to share my misery. I couldn’t have put it down, even if I had been sleepy.
Be warned: read Mercy of the Moon in the daytime, or risk staying up all night to find out what happens to Maggie and Ian.
Blurb: Strange things are happening in King’s Harbour. Midwife Maggie Wilson vows to find the person who almost murdered her sister. When her sister’s behavior ignites old superstitions, the townspeople threaten to send her to an asylum. Maggie turns to handsome Ian for help in a town where everybody is against her.
Apothecary Ian Pierce wants nothing more than to feel whole, as he does when he is near the beautiful midwife, singing to her soul with his music. Only then can he forget the horrors from his past when false accusations sent him to Bedlam.
When they unearth the deeds of a sinister killer, Ian’s most daunting battle will be to safeguard his sanity . . . and win Maggie’s heart.
Jennifer Taylor is the award-winning author of the Rhythm of the Moon series, historical romance set in an 18th Century English port town. She blends love, music, humor, and the supernatural with a lively, lyrical voice similar to Diana Gabaldon and Susanna Kearsley. Jennifer spent her childhood running wild on an Idaho mountainside, and has worked as a roofer, a stay-at-home mom and a professional dancer and singer. Music plays a huge part in her books, and she can often be heard singing at her desk… unless her heroine midwife is delivering a baby, and screaming is more appropriate.
She lives in rural Florida with her husband of thirty-seven years, and an entitled Great Dane.
Free for one month only, 25 paranormal romance reads to load up your e-reader.
This promo is a great way to sample new authors without any risk. Subscribing to the author’s newsletter is required, but you can unsubscribe any time. However, many of the authors participating in this promo offer additional gifts, contests, and other goodies to their readers, so you might want to look at one or two newsletters before you decide to click the unsub button!
Included are novels, novellas, short stories, samples, and even a couple of audios. Every flavor and heat level of paranormal romance, from shifter billionaires, to witches and wizards and from BDSM to sweet are represented. You’re bound to find something just right for you.
My short story is The Sea Witch and the Mage: When Athenia decides she must defeat the wizard who killed her twin sister, she discovers there is only one way—enslave Thorne, a human mage with powers she can use to overcome her enemy. However, she doesn’t count on finding him mesmerizing or needing him so much. What happens when a shapeshifting mermaid hooks up with a man who controls the elements? Will she steal the mage’s powers for herself and leave him to die, or will she find another way to save herself?
Subscribers to my newsletter will also get Siren Descending, the second book in the Sirens Series, which is a full-length novel, FREE upon request.
Cowgirl Courage is a western romance about Jenny Morriston, a young Texan woman in 1883 who is determined to clear her father of a murder charge from 10 years previously. To do so, she must return to the small town of Rio Hondo where he was framed by the real killer. However, she must use a disguise or she will be arrested herself for busting her father out of his cell in the middle of the night. Jenny carries a scar from a bullet that grazed her face during the jailbreak. Although it’s long and disfiguring, she doesn’t let it bother her or stand in the way of anything she wants to do.
Lucas McCain was Jenny’s best friend from childhood and the one man who tempts her to reveal her true identity. He owns the ranch next to the one she and her father had to abandon when they fled, and he has taken in her horses and cared for them ever since.
Although Lucas doesn’t recognize Jenny, and she keeps her secret from him in order to protect him, they strike up a friendship that rekindles her old feelings for him.
Jenny is one of the toughest heroines you will ever meet! She dresses up like a man, takes on a fake name and persona, and boldly saunters back into town. She can ride, rope, and shoot as well as or better than most of the cowboys in town, but it doesn’t take long before she stirs up so much buried dirt that she is in deep trouble. With her life on the line, and only one man in town she truly trusts, Jenny digs relentlessly into the past.
This book is a fast-paced page-turner with a mystery that will keep you guessing and more twists and turns than a sidewinder. You’ll love the gutsy Jenny and true-blue Lucas and you’ll root for them all the way to the satisfying end. Free in KU or buy for $1.99.
Loretta C. Rogers (who also writes as L.W. Rogers) is a fourth generation Floridian, and proud of her Scots-Irish, German heritage. She admits to using writing as an excuse to avoid cleaning house. In her younger days, she and her pinto mare busted cattle out of the brush. She trailer-trained horses, and competed in a couple of 25-mile trail endurance rides. These days, she rides a rocking chair.
When asked why she writes in different genres, Loretta doesn’t mind telling readers that she lets the characters inside her head tell their own story. From Old West lawmen to Contemporary rival drug cartels, Loretta crafts the plot. She calls it, ‘getting out of the way,’ and letting creativity take over. This is why her tagline is: Romance with a Twist…Expect the Unexpected!
Who was the first person executed for witchcraft in this country? When and where did it happen?
If you said Bridget Bishop in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692, you would be wrong.
Although the Salem witch trials are the most well-known, Alse (Alice) Young was the first person executed for witchcraft in this country in the colony of Connecticut on May 26, 1647, around 45 years before the hysteria in Salem. Like most of those victims, Alse was hanged.
Little is known about her. She lived in Windsor and had a daughter also named Alse who was accused of the same crime about 30 years after her mother’s death but was never indicted. It was common practice at that time to name daughters after their mothers. Sadly, family members of the people arrested were frequently persecuted as well.
Historians believe the senior Alse’s husband was John Young. However, the only substantiation of this was a notation on the back of an alchemical physician’s note stating Young had been married to a woman who was executed for witchcraft in Hartford.
There is no record of why Alse was denounced, or any evidence presented against her. There was an outbreak of influenza at the time and many people died. Alse may have been blamed due to superstition and fear.
The Windsor town council formally exonerated Alse on February 6, 2017. A memorial service for her was held there on May 26, 2017, and a brick engraved with her name is among the memorial bricks beneath the flagpole near town hall.
Here are a couple of references to learn more about Alse.
In my recently released novel, Witch Trial Legacy, Alse appears in spirit form to help the heroine, who is a descendant of hers, break a curse which gives her visions of future tragedies but prevents anyone from believing her when she tries to warn them.
I took some writer’s license with Alse’s story. I made her an attractive, well-to-do widow pursued by a greedy neighbor and changed her daughter’s name to “Truth”. Having mother and daughter characters with the same name could be confusing for readers, and since Puritans often named babies after virtues, I thought “Truth” would be the perfect name for Alse’s daughter. She is the only one who acknowledges the real reasons behind Alse’s execution. She also manipulates the town’s perceptions of reality in order to obtain her revenge.
It’s a shame that Alse and other victims from Connecticut are not better known today. We hear a lot about Salem, but little about other areas. Too many lives were lost due to superstition. I’m hoping to help spread the word so that more people realize the tragic circumstances and commemorate these little known victims.
In this post, I have a real treat for you, an interview with one of my favorite authors, Dylan Newton. She recently released a new book, How Sweet It Is, and it is fantastic! Read on for my review and the interview.
Here’s the blurb for How Sweet It Is:
What happens when the queen of romance falls for the king of horror–you get “a hilarious rom-com comp,” perfect for fans of Beach Read. (Kirkus, starred review)
Event planner Kate Sweet is famous for creating the perfect happily-ever-after moment for her clients’ dream weddings. So how is it that her best friend has roped her into planning a bestselling horror writer’s book launch extravaganza? But the second Kate meets—or rather, accidentally maims—the drop-dead-hot Drake Matthews, her well-ordered life quickly transforms into an absolute nightmare.
Drake Matthews is tired of the spotlight and tired of his reputation as the Knight of Nightmares. He’s really a nice guy! But he’s not prepared for Kate, a fearless agent of chaos in steel-tipped stilettos, or for that sweet sting of attraction he feels for her. She’s inspiring him to take his writing in a whole new direction—one that no one expects. Because now Kate and Drake are changing up the rules, and this plot twist might just surprise everyone . . . including themselves.
“Fans of The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert, and Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur will adore How Sweet It Is!” –The Nerd Daily
As featured in: PopSugar: Must-Read July Books PopSugar: 12 Swoonworthy Romances to Read in One Sitting
Here’s my review:
In romance it’s all about the characters!
How Sweet It Is centers on the charming and memorable Kate Sweet, a buttoned-up, spreadsheet toting wedding planner with a reputation for perfection, and Drake Matthews, the Knight of Nightmares, a renowned horror writer.
Kate loves sugar, sprinkles, sweet treats and Happily Ever Afters. Drake? Not so much.
While he pens his shivery stories in a mausoleum of a mansion, a family home he occupies but can’t really call his own, she flits from town to town, creating the “Awww moments” that seal the deal for her expertly planned weddings.
When Kate oversees the next book launch for the Knight of Nightmares, things go terribly wrong. Stabbing stilettoes, creepy crypts, harrowing hijinks, and more seem to doom the launch and the couple’s relationship from the beginning.
How will Kate create an unforgettable event for Drake? Will he learn to trust again after all the betrayals from previous girlfriends?
I loved this book from beginning to end! The characters are realistic and loveable; the juxtaposition of romance and horror is fascinating; and the plot is fast-paced and fun.
You don’t want to miss this deliciously adorable rom com.
Tell us about How Sweet ItIs. What’s the genre, premise, and setting? Who are the main characters?
Dylan: First, I’m so happy to be a guest in your newsletter—thank you so much for having me! How Sweet It Is is my debut romantic comedy set in a small town in Upstate New York. It features Kate Sweet, an event planner known as the Queen of Happily Ever Afters for her glittery, fairy-tale like weddings, who is conscripted by her BFF to help plan a book launch for a writer. It isn’t until she agrees that Kate discovers the writer is non other than Drake Matthews, who is called the Knight of Nightmares for his terrifying horror novels. What nobody knows is Drake is tired of his genre and eager to venture into something completely new…if only he dared! Chaos and hijinks ensue as the two battle their preconceived notions as the Queen of Happily Ever Afters and the Knight of Nightmares venture outside of their comfort zones.
How Sweet It Is diverges from your previous paranormal romances. Though the genre is contemporary romance, it’s unique in that the hero is a best-selling horror writer. Are there some paranormal elements in How Sweet It is? Do you think there is a connection between paranormal romance and horror?
Dylan:Yes, I think there’s a connection between paranormal and horror, as both elements exist and are amplified by our imaginations. In the book, while there are no true paranormal or horror moments…one scene does take place in a mausoleum and this tends to be among the favorite scenes, according to many readers’ reviews!
Tell us a little about your childhood and background. How did that influence your decision to become a writer?
Dylan: I started writing in middle school for two reasons: I couldn’t find books I wanted to read, and none of the YA books had heroines like me—imperfect and from an imperfect family situation. So, I decided to write my own books and found I could lose myself for hours in a world of my own making and that feeling—of drowning out reality in lieu of my imagination—is the reason I love writing today. None of those middle school novels have ever seen the light of day, by the way, but that’s how I got hooked on the joys of writing.
Do you think people are ever too young or too old to write?
Dylan:No—whatever age you are is the perfect time to write a book! I wrote several books, but my first published book wasn’t until I was 40 years old, and I was 50 when I got this contract from Forever/Grand Central Publishing/Hachette which put my books in every bookstore. Perseverance and tenacity are what you need to write books—your age is irrelevant.
How many books have you written?
Dylan:I have 3 books, 1 novella, and 2 short story collections published, and several other books written that have not yet been published. My contract with Forever Books/GCP is for 3 romantic comedies, so while How Sweet It Is has been released, book 2 is in edits and I’m finishing up book 3 right now for my publisher. I’m also working on a new YA project for my agent—stay tuned on that one!
How does your family feel about you being an author?
Dylan:My family is and has always been my rock in this process. Writing is a lonely journey and without someone cheerleading for you in the background, it’s really easy to give up on your publishing dreams. My husband and daughters are my biggest fans—they pick me up when I’m down, celebrate with me when I’ve got a win, and don’t complain about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner when I’m on deadline!
What are your favorite ways of connecting with your readers? Social media?
Dylan: I have a VIP newsletter that I use primarily as a way of gifting things to my readers, and you can join by going to my website at www.dylannewton.com.
Author Dylan Newton was born and raised in a small town where the library was her favorite hang-out. After over a decade working in corporate America, Dylan quit to pursue her passion: writing books. When she isn’t writing her next romantic comedy, Dylan is pursuing her own happily ever after with her high school sweetheart as they split time between Florida and Upstate New York with their two much cooler daughters and a tone-deaf cockatiel.
My equine partner is a sweet mare named Corrin Castle, an Irish Sport Horse enjoying retirement at a farm in Ocala, Florida. Below is a picture of us together.
I belong to a group of fantasy/romance writers called the Pen Dames who find horses inspiring, and we include them in our books. Most of us own horses now or rode in the past. Since May is Derby and Preakness month, we decided to celebrate our love of horses by holding a contest with bales of books and buckets of prizes for our readers! The horse name game is fun, the prizes are fantastic, and all the books include horses.
“One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.” ~ Sophocles
On Valentine’s Day most of us think of hearts and flowers and the giddy feeling of meeting The One. Romance is fantastic, but love is about relationships of all kinds and fundamentally involves acceptance.
I’d like to share an excerpt from Siren Descending which examines the different kinds of love.
The main character, Athenia, is trapped in the underworld after trading herself to the devil in exchange for her lover’s freedom. Though she knows her life, her powers, and her soul are forfeit, she agrees to sing her siren song one last time for the inhabitants of Hades. At first, she only wants to delay her fate for as long as possible, but she ends up giving even the most repellent creatures the gift of love through her song.
Keeping her promise, Athenia gave everything to the song. Opening her soul, she let all her pain, fear, loneliness, and desperation suffuse her voice. At first, the notes jangled with sharp edges and discordances, evidence of her anguish. Minor chords overwhelmed the music with their overtones of alarm. When the inhabitants of the underworld came out to listen, they milled about, whispering, and glaring at one another. At a gesture from Gelion, they stilled, but tension filled the air. Eyes narrowed, Gelion started toward her.
While her deepest emotions took over, she ignored everything else. She sang of her grief for Delphie, for what might have been with Thorne, and for the soon to come loss of her identity. Next, she poured out her longing for the sea and her acceptance of kinship with the Atlantean Nerei, especially Deme, who had been a friend.
She trilled a refrain for the other mages, who would have accepted her, if she hadn’t been so secretive.
When all else drained away, she let the ballad take her back to her first time with Thorne. The moment when she’d realized how perfect he was for her played like a movie in her mind. She crooned her love for him. So long as he survives and goes on to lead a happy life, I can tolerate all this.
The pure notes echoed around them, and the denizens of the underworld stood with arms around each other, swaying in rhythm to her music, staring at her as though hypnotized.
Three-headed Cerberus rolled on his back, whining through all his mouths.
After the harpy landed beside him, she reached over and rubbed his belly. No one moved away from the winged creature this time, though her stench rolled through the area in an almost palpable haze.
Staring at Athenia intently, Gelion stood behind the crowd. Clear-eyed, he didn’t appear mesmerized like the others. However, the corners of his lips turned up, and he tapped his foot.
As long as I’m singing, he won’t make me have sex with him. A vision of him naked and jamming himself inside her made her stomach heave. Worse, he’ll make me enjoy being raped, long for more, and beg him not to stop. She shuddered.
Momentarily, her song shrieked into a register so high human ears probably ached. The demons clenched their claws, some digging talons into boulders, scraping long gouges out of the rock. Growling, Cerberus shook his head. Then, he snapped at the harpy, who snatched her hand out of reach of his jaws.
Can’t let my fear stop me. Must face this with as much dignity as I can summon up. With an effort, she brought her voice back to the pleasing range and added a hint of hope. Not for me since I’m doomed. For these poor creatures. Maybe this moment of solidarity will be all they ever experience, but this small amount of peace is my gift to them. For once, I can offer something to someone else without needing or wanting repayment. Besides, they aren’t the reason I’m here.
Everyone settled down. Now, her voice strained to reach the high, pure notes, and lost some clarity. I never used my siren ability so long or with so much emotion before, so I won’t last much longer. When my voice dies, Gelion will come for me, and that will be the end of me, too.
Sadness threatened again, but she refused to give in to despair. For as long as I can, I’m going to focus on joy, even in difficult circumstances. All I want now is to be fully present for every moment of my precious life while I possess free will. Though my time is almost over, I’ll make the most of every second.
At the top of her aria, her voice cut out. She lost a few notes, but not enough to end the enthrallment of the crowd. To preserve her vocal cords for as long as possible, she lowered her range. A siren with no voice. How ironic, I’m morphing into a Disney character.
Time passed. How long has it been, hours? Can’t keep on more than a few more minutes.
From the depths of her soul, Athenia poured every form of love into a haunting chorale.
Philia, the deep connection between comrades in arms, who are loyal and willing to sacrifice for each other. Though this was partly what I felt for Thorne, I realize now I care so much more for him.
Ludus, playful love or affection. Not as serious as Philia, but important to help us remember we’re not alone in our mortal condition, and we can make connections with many people, including those different from us. Like when Bathin helped me.
Philautia, or love of self. Through all this, I discovered I’m not a horrible person. Of course, I was misguided to think I needed to protect myself from everyone, even Thorne. Yet, though I did some awful things, I’m not bad. I care about myself and want to live, but it’s too late now. At least, I figured this out before the end.
Eros, or sexual passion. What I felt for Thorne all along, what I thought was the most important kind of love, but it’s not. Romance is wonderful when combined with friendship and affection, and when both lovers care about themselves, but sex isn’t everything and is empty without the other dimensions.
Pragma, or longstanding love. The pain of loss in her chest increased. This is the type of love I’ll never experience with Thorne.
Agape, the selfless love, which encompasses all people. This is what I offer you today. She sent agape to every creature assembled, even Gelion. He’s still part of the universe and needs whatever caring anyone can spare for him. Odd, to pity someone so powerful, but I do now. In these final moments, I understand so much more than I ever did before.
The rasp in her voice became huskiness. Then a whisper. Finally, she stopped. I’m done. There’s nothing left to do or say, no way to fight the inevitable any longer. Strangely at peace, she bowed her head.
Through the silent throng, Gelion marched toward her. None made a move. All of Hell’s occupants sat as if turned to stone.
Thank you for joining me. I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. This post was first published on the Pen Dames blog. Please come on over and join us for more wonderful posts from my fabulous colleagues. https://pendames.blogspot.com/
Fall is the time for witches, fae, and things that go bump in the night! It’s a spooky time when days grow colder and shorter, and the line between reality and possibility thins a bit more each day. If you’re like me and love the otherworldly, celebrate your appreciation of the paranormal. Check out these 83+ books available now on KU. They all look fantastic and I can’t wait to read them myself. https://books.bookfunnel.com/witchesfaeonku/wx98hs1m3e