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Blood and Magic
Dream Shadow Press
Release Date: 7/18/16
Genre: Historical paranormal romance with a steampunk edge
Coven Enforcers = Dark, Dangerous, Magical Men
Coven Witches bow to no one—least of all Enforcers.
Sparks ignite. Tempers run high. Passion explodes. Hot. Sweet. Impossible to ignore....
Magic didn’t just find Luke Caulfield. It chased him down, bludgeoned him, and has been dogging him ever since. Some lessons are harder than others, but Luke embraces danger, upping the ante to give it one better. An enforcer for the Coven, a large, established group of witches, his latest assignment is playing bodyguard to the daughter of Coven leaders.
Abigail Ruskin is chaperoning a spoiled twelve-year-old from New York to her parents’ home in Utah Territory when Luke gets on their stagecoach in Colorado. A powerful witch herself, Abigail senses Luke’s magic, but has no idea what he’s doing on her stagecoach. Stuck between the petulant child and Luke’s raw sexual energy, Abigail can’t wait for the trip to end.
Unpleasant truths surface about the child. While Abigail’s struggling with those, wraiths, wolves, and dark mages launch an attack. Luke’s so attracted to Abigail, she’s almost all he can think about, but he’s leery too. The child is just plain evil. Is Abigail in league with her? It might explain the odd attack that took out their driver and one of their horses. In over his head, he summons enforcer backup.
Will they help him save the woman he’s falling in love with, or demand her immediate execution?
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Excerpt from Blood and Magic:
…Cursing her long skirts and cumbersome petticoats, Abigail used magic to skip the coach steps. Power blazed from her hands before she could see what she was aiming at. She was afraid if she took even a few seconds to hunt for a target, something would get her. Being dead wasn’t desirable, but it was better than the other things wraiths could do to her. Those turned her blood to ice chips.
With her booted feet planted firmly on the ground, Abigail finally got a good look at the wraiths. She drew magic from deep in the earth and sent it chasing after them when they jumped sideways to evade her magic. Insubstantial as tall, thin puffs of smoke, they had glowing charcoal eyes. Long, blood red claws graced what passed for hands. Binding their victims with fiery strands was a favorite trick—just before they sucked your soul right out of you, leaving a handy vessel for one of their masters to occupy. Wraiths used to feed only on the living, making them into new wraiths. They’d been bad enough then, but now they functioned as hired thugs for practitioners of the Black Arts. It lent them the ability to operate in broad daylight. Abigail wondered which group of sorcerers this crew worked for. The Alchemical Council? Black Magick?
Good God but there were a lot of them. Why? Surely they weren’t interested in the contents of the coach, which only carried mail and Carolyn’s substantial luggage. Ducking and spinning to escape being entwined in a blazing net, she thought about the girl’s steamer trunks. Abigail only helped pack two of them. The third had been locked and ready to go. Could that possibly be what the wraiths were after?
She shut off her thoughts so she could focus. The ragged sound of her own panting thrummed loud in her ears as she chucked one killing blow after another. Bolts of blue-white light flared from both hands. No point in running anything less than wide open. For each wraith she obliterated, three more showed up to take its place. Her chest ached from breathing sooty air and wraith stench.
Heat seared her back. Damnation! Her skirts were on fire. Abigail funneled magic behind her to quell the flames, but it didn’t work. Smoke stung her nostrils. Fire had already eaten a long gouge in one of her hands. If she dropped to the ground to deal with her burning clothes, the wraiths would pounce. Terror licked at her along with the flames.
In spite of her brave thoughts earlier, she didn’t want to die. Not here. And not like this. She cursed her corset. It was hard to get a decent breath. If she’d known she was going to have to fight--
“Keep after ’em,” Luke growled from behind her. “I have your dress under control.” She felt him drape something heavy around her shoulders—a lap robe he must’ve snatched from inside the coach—and press it close against her with his body. Gratitude wrapped warm tentacles around her. Having him right next to her made her already pounding heart do flip-flops, but she forced herself to focus on something other than all those rock-hard muscles jammed against her back.
“Are they all on this side of the coach?” she wheezed, still struggling to breathe. Between the smoke, her stays, and Luke’s body so near, it was a losing battle.
“Pretty much. Guess they want you more than me. Actually, they’ve been trying to get to the trunks up top.”
A discordant warning note sounded in the back of her mind. What the hell was in the girl’s luggage that would draw wraiths? Her back wasn’t hot anymore, so she assumed the fire was out.
That fire, maybe. The one inside me is just getting going…
She squirmed from more than the smoke and struggled not to turn around and press the front of herself against Luke. They had bigger problems than his undeniable charisma. Luke didn’t seem to be in a hurry to move away, though. He remained front to back with her, and she absorbed power flowing from him. Damn, but he was strong. What she wouldn’t give for that kind of magic.
It would help if I could breathe…
With difficulty, Abigail forced her mind away from Luke’s charms. “The driver?” She hadn’t been round to the front of the wagon to check.
“Ever driven one of these things?”
“Concentrate on killing, woman. If we can’t get shut of the wraiths, ’twon’t matter a diddly damn.”
About the Author:
Ann Gimpel is a national bestselling author. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Her longer books run the gamut from urban fantasy to paranormal romance. Once upon a time, she nurtured clients, now she nurtures dark, gritty fantasy stories that push hard against reality. When she’s not writing, she’s in the backcountry getting down and dirty with her camera. She’s published over 30 books to date, with several more planned for 2016 and beyond. A husband, grown children, grandchildren and wolf hybrids round out her family.
Find Ann At:
@AnnGimpel (for Twitter)
Luke Caulfield is the Vin Diesel of Coven Enforcers in Ann Gimpel’s BLOOD AND MAGIC, and it’s a good thing he’s more than just a hunky passenger on a coach headed toward Utah. Throw in Harry Potter’s good magic all grown up inside Abigail Ruskin against Voldemort’s evil trapped inside a little girl on that same rickety steampunk-style stagecoach and the scene is set for some fast-paced mayhem and madness when good versus evil from beginning to end complete with wraiths, more coven enforcers, good witches and bad witches and things that go bump over more than the road in this magical battle through the 1800s, using realistic magic and some steamy romance to go along with that Gothic flare Gimpel has thrown in for eclectic pleasure.
Surprisingly fast moving and complex with both witty dialogue and realistic motivations and actions, the secondary characters do more than support the main players. They lay down the foundation for the forthcoming series with if this first book is any indication will be highly anticipated! Nicely done! See if you can get Vin Diesel to do this one!
Book Bling gives this 5 Stars!
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