USA Today Bestselling Author
Shadowvale isn’t typical small town America. The sun never shines, the gates decide who enters, magic abounds, and every resident bears some kind of curse.
No one knows this as well as raven shifter Deacon Evermore, who, like everyone in his family, has a curse. While his position as Shadowvale’s peacekeeper lets him use that curse for good, he’d rather live anywhere else. He stays for his family, but doubts he can last much longer.
Fledgling witch Emeranth Greer is determined to escape her past and make a fresh start in Shadowvale with the aunt she’s never met. Her aunt and the town prove to be far better than she imagined. There’s no way Em is leaving this magical place. Especially when staying means more time with the handsome Deacon.
But when Em’s troubled past catches up with her and nearly destroys the romance budding between her and Deacon, her instinct is to run again. Except there’s magic in the mix now and the town won’t let her leave. Only Deacon can save her, but can a cursed man clear her name…or will her history destroy them both?
Countess Amelia Marie Antoinette Marchand created Shadowvale out of love, she is responsible for this town and all it’s residents. She lives on her estate with her Majordomo, Beckett and her tiger Thoreau, she’s happy here if not a bit lonely. That’s all about to change, and Amelia has to get Emeranth to leave. To that end she enlists Deacon Evermore to show her around and convince her it’s not a place she should live.
Emeranth Greer is on her way to Shadowvale to meet her aunt. After being pulled over by the police she’s lucky not to get a ticket, but the officer also tells her there is no one living in Shadowvale and the gates have been locked closed as long as he could remember. That is until they opened for her. Now she just has to hope her aunt will let her stay.
Deacon takes her on a tour of town, first stop is the Cemetery and he’s trying to find something to scare her into leaving. He thinks he’s found something only it backfires.
This is a favorite scene.
Deacon checked his watch. It wasn’t quite ten yet, but Nasha should be opening the bakery by the time they drove over there. He wasn’t exactly done showing Em the cemetery yet, though. “Sure, we can go downtown next.”
He straightened up. “First, there’s one more thing you should see here.” Something that really ought to freak her out.
“Oh?” She looked around. “What?”
He made a little squeaking sound, then waited. It wasn’t something he liked to do, but Em needed to see these wretched things for herself.
A few seconds later, a black-and-brown-striped meowl swooped in and landed on a headstone a few feet away. The beast was fifteen pounds, maybe bigger, and it looked straight at him, whiskers twitching like it could smell the raven side of him and thought it was delicious.
He glared right back at it. Creepy little thing.
Em’s mouth came open. “Is that… a cat with wings?”
“Sort of. It’s a meowl. They inhabit the cemetery mostly, although you occasionally see them in other parts of town and in the forest.”
She didn’t move. Obviously, she had the same feelings toward the meowl as he did. Good. That should help put her off Shadowvale.
The meowl blinked its big, round eyes at her, then lifted one taloned paw and gave it a lick, showing off an impressive set of pointy cat teeth.
Em glanced at him. “Are they friendly?”
“They’re not house cats, if that’s what you—”
“Hiya, kitty bird.” Em stretched out her hand. “Who’s a sweet little winged baby cat?”
What was she doing? “I wouldn’t—”
The meowl flutter-jumped onto Em’s arm and cooed at her.
Deacon growled a little. That hadn’t gone as planned. Maybe it was a witch thing. Maybe meowls wouldn’t bite witches. Or think they smelled like supper.
The meowl blinked at him and licked its chops.
That was enough of that. He pointed over his shoulder with his thumb. “Okay, we should probably go downtown now. See if the bakery is open. You know, cupcakes and all that.”
The meowl was nuzzling Em’s neck, and she was scratching its head. “What did you say this little cat-bird was called again?”
He frowned. “A meowl. And they can be very dangerous.”
“Right. Like vampires are sometimes.”
She made a face that said she was clearly trying not to laugh. “Don’t vampires do that, too?”
He made a face back at her, but she didn’t see it because she was too busy petting and talking baby talk to the vile creature perched on her arm.
She scratched under its chin, making it purr. “Well, this meowl is a darling. Aren’t you, precious?”
He refrained from making a gagging sound. “You can’t take it home. They aren’t domesticated.” Plus, Thoreau would probably try to eat it. Or actually eat it. Either would be fine with Deacon.
“Okay.” She kissed the meowl on the head. “You fly off now, kitty bird. I’ll come back and visit you again. I’ll bring you some treats, too.”
“You’re not putting live mice in my truck, so that’s a return trip you can take on your own.”
She tipped her head at him. “I’m not bringing it live mice. I was thinking more like regular cat treats from the store. You do have a grocery store in Shadowvale, don’t you?”
“Good.” She went back to smiling at the meowl. She lifted her arm. “Bye, sweetie.”
The meowl stretched its wings and took off, soaring back into the trees.
She watched it go. “Are there any other interesting animals like that in this town?”
“We have droxes. I don’t think those are too common elsewhere.”
“I’ve never heard of a drox, so I’m gonna say yeah, those probably just exist here. What are they?”
“They’re basically winged foxes. With dark green fur tipped in blue or purple usually.”
“That sounds amazing. Why are they called droxes?”
“Because they’ve got dragon genes in them. Hence the wings. And their ability to breathe fire.”
“Yeah, I was thinking it would be cool to see one until you added that part.”
“They pretty much live in the enchanted forest.” Along with some other creatures he wasn’t going to tell her about since she was finding it all so fascinating and not the least bit scary.
“Are we going there?”
“At some point.” If they really had to.
“Great.” She rubbed her hands together, looking rather pleased with that answer. “All right, let’s go get a cupcake from Famine’s daughter.”
“Maybe don’t call her that, okay?”
“I won’t. I was just teasing.” She put her hands on her hips, grinning madly. “Boy, the cursed are a sensitive lot.”
Kristen Painter. The Trouble with Witches (Kindle Locations 833-873). Sugar Skull Books.
We meet a lot of different folks and learn of their curses. The meeting with Thoreau was interesting as well. There’s one curse in particular that when accidentally triggered, makes it difficult for Em to return to her world, even though she doesn’t want to anyway. Then there’s Em being initiated as a witch by Amelia. Something her mother should have done years ago.
Twists, turns, laughter, tears and romance that changes things up.
I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.
5 Contented Purrs for Kristen!
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Kristen Painter likes to balance her obsessions with shoes and cats by making the lives of her characters miserable and surprising her readers with interesting twists. She currently writes award-winning paranormal romance and cozy mysteries.