Yeah, in another place and time, that look would have been sexy as hell. Now though, wasn’t that time. “No, I don’t know you, not at all. I don’t even know people like you, so I don’t know how to guess. It’s why I have to ask.”
“What does ‘people like me’ mean?” Dr. Adams asked, the fun tone vanished as his eyes narrowed and his brow dropped into a hard V. The intensity coming off the man kind of impressed Landon who lifted his good hand in a peace offering.
“Don’t get defensive. I meant sophisticated, if that’s the right word?”
Dr. Adams did another one of his sudden visual mood shifts and started laughing. Shit, this wasn’t working out well for Landon at all. The man had a wonderful laugh, even if it was directed at him, and his dick took notice, plumping underneath his hospital gown.
“You mean stuffy,” Dr. Adams corrected, his face filled with amusement as he gave Landon a racy teasing look.
“You’re messing with me on purpose, and I can’t really tell if you’re joking, so let me tell you something I haven’t said because I didn’t know if I should. When you’re contemplating your signs and their meaning to your life and whether you should open yourself to understanding this world is bigger than you thought, you need to know I stood as the honor guard on duty the night you stayed with your father while he sat by your dad’s casket.”
The air stood completely still. The confession caused Landon’s heart to drum steadily in his chest as he stared at the utter shock filling Dr. Adams’s face. He waited through the range of emotion until disbelief hit, and he narrowed his eyes, shifting toward Landon for a closer look. “That was you?”
He clearly didn’t believe him.
“I volunteered to stay all night with you both.” Landon scrunched his face into his serious I’m-a-badass-sergeant expression then put a hand to his brow partially covering his face like the brim of his wheel cap would do. Recognition instantly filled those blue eyes.
“I tried to find you to thank you. Did you get my email?” Dr. Adams asked, sitting back in astonishment, like Landon had given the best possible gift. He seemed sincerely appreciative, not in the least bit angry that Landon hadn’t mentioned this before now.
“I did. The email was forwarded to me by my CO, but I didn’t do it for a thank-you. I’m not kidding when I say your father was a great man. I moved heaven and earth to get there. I owed Vice President Adams my respect to watch over him as an honor guard, but when I watched his husband, in person with my own eyes, grieve like he did, I realized true love was possible for guys like me.” Landon didn’t waver in speaking his truth, damn the consequences of confessing his belief in something so filled with romance and lacking in any solid reason.
Everyone in town knows you don’t mess with the Sons of Sinister, but no one ever told me what to do when a Son of Sinister messes with me.
Cocktail waitress Khara Thomas never expected to trade the dazzling lights of Vegas for European aristocracy but as maid of honour in the royal wedding of the decade she’s forced into an unexpected spotlight when her best friend marries a prince.
Luckily for Khara, gorgeous but infuriating best man Adam Hatton is happy to show her the ropes. Khara knows Adam’s entitled rich guy type but as their connection grows she realises there’s more to this playboy than meets the eye. And when she learns his royal secret? She might just find that fairytales do come true…
The Bottom Line: Yet another book where I find myself well and truly on the fence. The long and the short of it is this: I liked to idea of this story and I very much enjoyed the richly described and beautiful settings, but I had a hard time liking either Khara or Adam. Khara comes off as cynical and very chip-on-her-shoulder with a bad attitude about all men while Adam comes off as somewhat selfish and self-absorbed. It’s hard to truly enjoy a book when you don’t like the main characters. The saving grace, at least as far as characters go are the secondary characters. I liked nearly every one of the secondary characters, their attitudes, their liveliness, their involvement, and their encouragement of both Khara and Adam. Finally, I would caution all potential readers to know, from the beginning, this book is going to end exactly as you think it will. The ending is predictable, but if you’re OK with knowing the outcome from the first page and you’re a fan of surly main characters, I encourage you to give it a try. I warned you though 😊
Book #1: A rockstar versus a lawyer. Fast and furious versus deliberate and calculated. Intense and passionate versus strong and devoted. Chaos versus stability. I fell in love with one in the craziness of a concert. I fell in love with the other in the silence of his compassion. And now I am Torn Between Two.
Book #2: Life is made up of choices. Single choices like bricks laid out in a path. A path that leads to your future. At twenty four years old, I would have never guessed I would be stuck between two men—two men from opposite spectrums of the universe. Their lives, their worlds, their demeanor is as different as the darkest of nights and the lightest of days. I love them both, but I have to choose. There is only one choice I can make. And I choose forever.
My heart sped up. “What’s what?”
“Those wavy things in the air.”
I exhaled loudly, tension I hadn’t even realized I was carrying relaxing from my shoulders. “Damn.” “Damn?” he and Macy parroted at the same time.
“Yeah, damn. You had me freaking out there. Those waves distorting the air are magic. If Clyde can see them, we’re in the clear.”
“How come I can’t see them?” Macy asked.
“You must just not be looking right,” I said, though I didn’t know how exactly she could be looking wrong. The barrier was ahead of us, in plain sight. Anyone with magic should be able to see it. Even those with weak magic could find the town limits well enough to enter.
“I must not be looking right,” Macy repeated, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Right there.” I pointed ahead just as Clyde had. “It’s like heat waves coming off the pavement.” “Only they go all the way up to the sky,” Clyde added, and a bit more tension oozed from me.
Macy shook her head. “I don’t see anything. Seriously.”
“That’s …not possible,” I said.
She crossed her arms and turned the full brunt of her sass toward me: “I’m telling you, there’s nothing there. You think I’m lying or something?”
“Of course not. There’s no reason to lie. Actually, there’s never reason to lie to your mother.” I arched my brow at them in my I’m-dead-serious look.
Clyde chuckled. Super encouraging.
“I don’t know what to tell you, Ma,” Macy said. “I don’t see anything but more pot-holey road.” Clenching my fingers around the steering wheel, I debated what to do. I couldn’t call my family. There were no cell phones or landlines in the entire town, a fact I’d purposefully omitted in my brief rundown to my kids of what was to become their new home. They would’ve fought me to leave even harder if they’d realized their beloved iPhones were about to be rendered useless.
The barrier dome that protected Gales Haven from discovery behaved as a gigantic Faraday cage. No electromagnetic pulses got in, and none got out. The concentration of magic in the community interfered with connections to the outside world. Every time landlines had been attempted, the result was the same: crackle.
My options were twofold: I could drive through and hope like hell the protective barrier didn’t zap my daughter. Or I could turn around and abandon all hope that Macy would get the help she needed, guidance she could only get from my family.
I’d never heard of someone with magic not seeing the barrier’s signature shimmer. I had no idea what it meant.
“When your magic erupts like it’s been doing,” I asked Macy, “what does it feel like?” “Like I stuck my entire hand in an electric socket and shocked the shi—”
I gave her my mom glare.
“Like I get a monster shock every time,” she finished.
Nodding, I nibbled at my lip. “Okay. Good,” I said, mostly to myself.
“What’s good?” Macy asked.
“If your magic’s too weak, the barrier won’t let you through. I assume it also won’t let you see it. But if it’s shocking you like that, you’ve got enough. For sure.”
“What about me?” Clyde asked. “Do I have enough?”
“If you can see the barrier, we’re good.” I nodded to convince myself that everything would be smooth sailing from here on out, and kept right on nodding to myself when I didn’t fully believe it. Nothing had been particularly easy in my life.
Didn’t mean I didn’t kick ass and take names. I did—all day long.
I’ve got this.
I eased the car back onto the road and crawled toward the shimmer, throwing constant glances at Macy. With her big brown eyes and long, dark straight hair, she didn’t look much like me.
Maybe twenty feet from the barrier, I asked, “Still nothing?”
“Nope,” she answered, popping the p.
“I can’t believe you can’t see it,” Clyde said. “I can see it tons.”
“It’s not like that makes you better than me,” Macy retorted right away.
He hmmphed, and Macy swiveled in her seat. She gasped. “I see it! When I turned my head, I saw it out of the corner of my eye,”
“Good enough for me.” I exhaled loudly and pressed down on the accelerator.
I might have left Gales Haven under less than auspicious circumstances, but nineteen years had passed since then. Long enough to discover that in this world—magic or not—we make our own luck.
I had no desire to be some shrinking violet. Or the meek wife Devin had expected and tried his darnedest to mold me into.
I was returning to town on my own terms—sort of. And not a single woman in my family had ever done anything meekly—or quietly.
I gunned the engine, and yelling out “Towanda,”I crossed the shimmering barrier.
After two stressful months, Amber Blackwood is determined to have a few weeks of peace before the Here and Meow Festival descends on her small town of Edgehill, Oregon. That peace doesn’t last long; when she and the committee attend a meeting at the mayor’s house, Amber is pulled aside by the mayor’s daughter, Chloe, who Amber babysat for in high school. The mayor has forbidden Chloe from dating, but she recently met an older boy through a chat app and is desperate to meet him. Amber advises Chloe to tell her father about the boy.
Hours later, Mayor Deidrick frantically puts in a call to Amber: Chloe, the always well-behaved teenager, seems to have snuck out her bedroom window—and now she’s not answering his calls. When Amber helps search the town for the girl, she happens upon Chloe’s abandoned car. Her driver’s side door is open, and while her purse is inside, her phone is gone.
Working alongside Chief Brown, Amber uses her magic to figure out what might have happened to Chloe. The more they dig, the more they unearth secrets from the seemingly affable mayor’s past. The charismatic politician has both a hair-trigger temper and a suspicious death linked to his past.
As if the mayor’s increasingly strange behavior isn’t bad enough, Amber and the chief also contend with an out-of-town private investigator, nosy reporter Connor Declan, and an even nosier population of Edgehill residents who start to question why Amber and the chief are spending so much time together. Undaunted by these obstacles, Amber races against the clock to help ensure Chloe doesn’t become another statistic—assuming the mayor doesn’t stop her first.
After the last few months, Amber Blackwood is ready for life to get back to normal. She’s survived a magical murder attempt, she’s learning to control her expanding magic, and she’s working on getting her reclusive cousin out into the world. Yeah, Amber is absolutely ready for life to get back to normal, but that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Edgehill is on the precipice of one of their biggest events, the Here and Meow Festival and Amber is actively involved in the events.
In the course of her duties related to the town festival, Amber finds herself at the mayor’s house for a meeting. During a break, Amber is approached by the mayor’s daughter, a long-time friend, about a personal situation. Though Amber wants to protect the young girl and keep her secrets, she encourages her to talk with her dad. As she walks away from the conversation and feels good about her advice, Amber quickly changes her mind when the young girl goes missing.
The mayor’s daughter missing is a big deal in any town, but in a small town like Edgehill, it’s far more personal. Edgehill has a tendency to care for their own which means the whole town comes out to help search for the young girl. Knowing he has an ace up his sleeve, the sheriff asks Amber if there is anything magical she can do to help find the girl. As a matter of fact, Amber can do something and with the help of her aunt and surly cousin, she is able to get glimpses of the young girl and knows she is not only still alive, but being fed, and given information about her case. Though Amber can’t see exactly where she’s being kept, she does get enough clues to keep the investigation moving forward.
With each new clue, both Amber and the sheriff have more questions and the questions lead them down a rabbit hole. The rabbit hole leads to fake identities, fake birthdates, an abusive relationship, and loving father willing to do anything to protect his child. Getting her back isn’t going to be easy, but Amber and the sheriff have a magical advantage and good old-fashioned determination to aid them in their search. Of course, no one can know of Amber’s involvement, but she doesn’t care about the recognition, only finding and bringing home a very scared young lady.
The Bottom Line: I generally liked this story but not quite as much as the second book. There are a great many twists and turns in this book and some of them were a bit of a stretch for me. With that being said, I was still very pleased with the continuing evolution of Amber and her circle. The sheriff is actually one of my favorite characters as he is working so hard to accept Amber and that acceptance is often rather humorous. Finally, the series is clearly still evolving as Amber has a nosy journalist on her trail and her help with the kidnapping case has only lit a fire under said reporter’s butt. More to come, to be sure!
For the past fourteen years, Edgehill’s resident secret witch, Amber Blackwood, has been haunted by her parents’ deaths. The whole town knows about the tragedy, but the details remain a mystery even to Amber. From her tiny studio apartment above her shop, The Quirky Whisker, Amber can see her partially rebuilt old house out on the edge of town. Although she now has a good life—delighting children with her magically infused toys, concocting healing tinctures for Edgehill’s residents, doting on her cats, Tom and Alley, and sitting on the committee for the town’s annual Here and Meow Festival—she feels stuck in the past.
Amber suspects the fire that killed her parents was set deliberately by a witch from the cursed Penhallow clan, from whom no one has heard even a whisper since the night her parents died. The clan’s sudden disappearance is no coincidence to Amber, but her aunt Gretchen refuses to believe there’s a connection and urges Amber to stop looking for someone to blame. So Amber is shocked when Aunt Gretchen shows up unexpectedly, claiming the Penhallows have resurfaced and that one of them is heading for Edgehill with Amber in his sights.
Aunt Gretchen knows more about the fabled clan than she’s letting on. Amber is determined to find out what her aunt is hiding, and what the Penhallow seeks, before the same treacherous force that took Amber’s parents’ lives claims her own.
At the end of my review for the first book in this series, I noted that if it were to survive and be successful there needed to be evolution. I got exactly what I asked for and I got it in spades!
Amber Blackwood has always suspected her parents weren’t victims of an accidental fire, but something far more nefarious. Though she has asked her beloved aunt Gretchen many, many times about the night her parents died, she has never gotten any satisfactory answers. Though Amber has never really given up on her quest for answers, it doesn’t consume her. Until now . . . when Amber’s aunt and her sister both show up in her shop unexpectedly, Amber knows it can’t be good.
Though Amber is thrilled to see both her aunt and her sister, they come with bad tidings. If Amber’s aunt is correct, Amber is in grave danger and the threat is coming from an old and very dangerous source. According to the legends, the Penhallow family began stealing magic from other witches and when they were caught and punished, their magic became twisted and evil. In the decades since their punishment, the Penhallows have become the boogeymen of the witch world and to have one after you is the ultimate danger, a danger that is beyond difficult to fight.
To make matters far, far worse Amber has no idea what the Penhallow’s may want from her and that is in large part because she doesn’t know the full story of her family’s demise. With no choice but to open up and tell the truth, Amber’s aunt begins to tell her all she knows. With each new revelation, Amber begins to understand what it is the Penhallows want from her, but she has no idea how to satisfy their desires and keep herself alive. What is certain, if Amber is going to stay alive, she’s going to need help and a lot of it. As if the universe knows exactly how desperate she is and the danger she is facing, Amber’s magic begins to respond and expand. The only problem, she isn’t used to the new power is trying to learn to control it while trying to protect herself.
Along with her aunt and her sister, Amber also has her reluctant and reclusive cousin, and, of late, the sheriff who now knows her secret. As the danger becomes ever more real, Amber and her crew come together with all they’ve got to fight off an evil so dangerous it is a threat to the entire town.
The Bottom Line: I hoped this series would evolve and it certainly did in the installment! One of my favorite things in series reading is the book that contains all the backstory, and this is exactly what I got in this book. There is so much back story here and it all contributes to the plot which makes everything all the more exciting, interesting, and entertaining. Not only does Amber and her magic evolve, but her surly cousin becomes a real player in the game, and the sheriff is now an ally. I am quite excited by the jump in complexity in this series and glad to see that the characters, the plot, and the community is growing.