Title: His Magic Touch
Author: Debby Grahl
Genre: Paranormal Romance
The night before Jared Dupre's wedding, a specter warns him the demonic witch, Adam Montief, has kidnapped his brother in a centuries-old vendetta unknown to Jared. A powerful witch himself, Jared tracks Adam from New Orleans to a remote island off the coast of Connecticut where he's given no choice. He must rescue his brother and break his engagement to Kendra O'Connell, or they both die. After complying, Jared engages in a sword fight and believes he has vanquished his foe, but when he returns to New Orleans, he finds evil still threatens all he loves. Kendra, not knowing why Jared broke their engagement, devastated, finds solace in another's arms. With help from an ancestor's spirit, can Jared defeat the dark magic descending over the Big Easy while winning back the woman he loves?
Wispy tentacles of smoke seeped in from the upper gallery and beneath the closed double-louvered doors. In the stifling heat, Angelique Montief flicked her wrist and set the bamboo ceiling fan spinning. Kneeling on a woven mat with sweat coating her body, she lifted a small wooden brass-bound casket from the bottom of a large trunk, inserted a brass key and opened the lid. Inside were two objects wrapped in thick cloth. She carefully unwrapped the smaller bundle to reveal a pentagonal mirror, its ancient oak frame carved with tiny pentacles. She glanced over her shoulder at her locked bedroom door, then stared into the mirror and whispered, “Show him to me.”
When the glass remained blank, fear clutched at her chest. Again, she said the words, and the image of a plantation house engulfed in flames appeared. No, please, he can’t be dead. Tears blurred her vision. The fiery image changed to reveal a human form lying beneath flowering bougainvillea.
Hope rising, Angelique peered closer.
“Show me his face.”
With relief, she saw his indigo blue eyes blink open.
“I’m coming, my love.”
He couldn’t hear her, but she hoped in his heart that he knew she would find a way to reach him.
As the smoke in the room thickened, she knew her time was running out. Quickly rewrapping the mirror, a gift handed down to her by her grandmother, Angelique placed it into the smaller casket among cloth bags of herbs and potion-filled vials. Relocking the lid, she hung the key on a chain around her neck, dropped a jeweled dagger into her pocket, and tucked the casket under her arm.
Crouched beneath the smoke, with the sound of shouting coming closer, she considered how to reach her son and escape. She’d be too exposed on the gallery. Anton’s room was only two doors down the hall. With any luck, she could make her way to him without being seen.
Most of the servants and slaves had joined the Marrons’ rebellion and her husband was fighting to keep them off the sugar plantation. Augustus Montief was a powerful witch, but not even his powers were strong enough to hold back the murderous hordes she could hear coming for their masters’ blood.
Augustus had locked her in, placing what he thought would be an impenetrable shield across both doors. Angelique coughed, choked by the darkening smoke. Her husband’s biggest mistake was underestimating her. Along with her grandmother’s gift of healing, she had inherited strong magical powers.
Facing the heavy wooden door to the hallway, she allowed the magic to pulse through her right hand. She threw a ball of energy and watched with satisfaction as it shattered the lock.
Out in the hall, the smoke was denser. In fear for her son’s life, she crawled quickly to his room. When she tried to turn the knob, she realized Augustus had placed a shield across Anton’s door as well. Angelique hit the lock with another blast of energy.
She had known that for her own safety, he could never discover the truth of her abilities. Soon after their marriage, it had become horribly apparent Augustus wasn’t the gentle, kind person she’d thought, but a cruel monster who only wanted her for her dowry and the sons she could produce. But if Augustus Montief thought he was going to let her die in flames while he escaped with their son, he would finally learn just how powerful she truly was. She hurried into the room.
A tall imposing woman stood guard in front of her son’s crib. Her face was delicately boned with striking turquoise eyes and skin the color of creamy chocolate. An intricately wrapped, snowy white tignon covered her head. Earrings of shell and beads dangled from her ears, and copper bracelets encircled her arms. “Taneen, thank the gods it’s you.”
“It about time you get here. I about to take the baby and go.”
“I could not leave my room until I knew Augustus was out of the house. Did he lock you in with Anton?”
Taneen snorted. “You tink I allow dat son of Satan to lock me up? I wait ‘til he left, den let myself in. Now we need to go. Most of the slave quarters and half da house is burnin’.”
“I know, but how? We cannot allow Augustus to see us, and we dare not be caught by the renegade slaves.”
“I already tought of dat. I should take the boy wit me, and you leave on you own.”
When Angelique opened her mouth to object, Taneen held up her hand.
“If dat bastard catch you, how you goin’ to fight him wit a baby in your arms? And if da slaves see me wit you, dey kill us both.”
“But if you’re caught with a white baby, the Marrons will murder him.”
“I already tought of dat. Look.” She stepped away from the crib where Anton slept, his normally smooth pink cheeks now a dusky hue.
Angelique gasped. “What did you use?”
“Just a little burnt ash mixed with some cream. I also brought dis.”
She held up a sturdy woven basket and opened the hinged lid to reveal it was lined with a soft cotton cloth.
“He fit fine inside.”
Angelique hesitated. Taneen was right. They would probably do better if they left separately, but could she ever live with herself if harm came to her son and she was not there to try and save him? On the other hand, Taneen could probably slip right through unnoticed. If she were stopped, Angelique knew Taneen would die herself before allowing her great-grandson to be harmed. Angelique took a deep breath. “Alright, you take the baby and head for La Maison plantation, and I’ll meet you.”
Taneen cocked her head. “I heard it already burnt. Why we goin’ dere?”
“Jean Dupre is the only one I can trust to get us to New Orleans.
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What’s your favorite activity to shake off the winter doldrums?
I like to use winter to work on my writing and catch up on reading. There’s nothing more relaxing than curling up by the fire with a good book. Or having the time to finish my MS.
Why is your featured book a cure for the winter blues?
The suspense in His Magic Touch will keep you entertained for hours and the romance between Kendra and Jared will keep you warm for days.
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Drawing will be held on April 1.
Debby Grahl lives on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, with her husband, David. Besides writing, she enjoys biking, walking on the beach and a glass of wine at sunset. Her favorite places to visit are New Orleans, New York City, Captiva Island in Florida, the Cotswolds of England, and her home state of Michigan. She is a history buff who also enjoys reading murder mysteries, time travel, and, of course, romance. Visually impaired since childhood by Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), she uses screen-reading software to research and write her books.
Her first published book, The Silver Crescent, won the Paranormal Romance Guild Reviewers’ Choice award. Her second book, Rue Toulouse, a contemporary romance set in New Orleans, recently won the 2019 Silver Medal for Romance in the international Readers’Choice awards and has been selected as a ‘local read’ by Hilton Head Monthly.
Decorated to Death is a holiday mystery cozy. She also has stories in four anthologies: The Haunted West, Never Fear/Christmas Terrors; and Ebb and Flow and Reflections from the local Island Writers’ Network.
Debby was featured in the January, 2016, Hilton Head Monthly article ‘Intriguing People of the Lowcountry’.
Her latest book, His Magic Touch, was released December 5, 2018, by Wild Rose Press. Work in progress is Mountain Blaze, the first book in a planned three-book series sited in the Carolinas.
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