You’re supposed to support your guy, right? Even if it means moving away from the watery source of your witchy magic and suffering through five years of writer’s block?
Minnie Wells thought so, until her soon-to-be-ex left her high and dry for another woman.
Now, she’s back in Bath, with the magic of the town’s enchanted springs flowing through her veins, ready to explore her newbie witch powers and pen her novel. Bath inspired her favorite writer Jane Austen, after all. Why wouldn’t it work for her?
Only catch is, once the divorce is final, Minnie will be deported back to the US (and she’ll lose her powers all over again) unless she can convince the haughty (and handsome) vampire owner of a struggling tea room to hire her.
As if her cup didn’t already runneth over with trouble, an employee drops dead during her interview. Now Minnie’s got to solve the murder to clear the cafe’s name, while figuring out a way to bring in more customers.
With the help of her vampire roommate and black cat familiar, she’s hot on the killer’s trail. But when the murderer sets Minnie in their sights, she’ll have to tap into her own inner strength (and magic) to save herself, and bring the killer to justice.
Will Minnie solve the murder and save the vampire’s tea room? Or will she find herself in hot water with the killer?
I’ve been loving some witchy magic, so here’s more. Minnie has moved back to Bath after her soon to be ex-husband left her for another woman. Bath is the one place she’s in touch with her magic although she’s not proficient. She was raised in Arizona, not much water there, but when she came to Bath for University, she made that discovery after drinking some of the enchanted spring’s water.
She’s got an interview at the Bath Butler Cafe, and she really needs the job. Without a job she can be deported as soon as her divorce is finalized and if she leaves Bath she will also lose the connection to her powers.
She sort of eavesdrops on a conversation between two guys in the alley shortcut she was taking. She also meets a black cat just before she gets to the front of the shop, giving it pets for luck.
She would be meeting her best friend Gus who would introduce her to Fitz the owner of the tea shop. Fitz is a vampire as is Gus and he’s set in his ways from two hundred years ago. The decor of the tea shop reflects that time period and since it was also Jane Austin’s time Minnie found it delightful. She did think it was a bit stuffy and could use some changes to make it a warmer environment.
Unfortunately, the Butler she saw arguing in the alley dies after escorting her to the restroom and the police declare it a murder. Apparently his EpiPens had been emptied and then made to look unused.
That night after all the interviews, Minnie joins Gus in the living room to discuss everything that’s happening and to introduce him to her new pet, possible familiar Tilda.
This is a favorite scene.
I counted it as one of those lucky strokes of fate that I’d happened to make friends with Gustaf. He’d been a fellow student at the time (pretending to be twenty-two). After drinking the Roman spa waters, I’d confessed to him my new ability to move objects with my mind and boil water—okay, ability might be pushing it. “Strange occurrences that happened when I was either exceedingly happy or upset” was more accurate.
He’d reacted with amusement and understanding instead of thinking I was a basket case like I’d expected. He confessed that he was actually a very old vampire—I didn’t know how old, as he claimed it was impolite to ask—and was the first person to call me a witch.
I’d been slightly offended at the time but took pride in the word now. He’d helped connect me with some local witches he knew, who told me that I probably had ancestors from the Bath region. They’d explained that when I was near the enchanted hot springs, I had magic. But move away, and I’d lose my powers.
In retrospect, I think Gustaf and I had been drawn to each other by the magic that connected us. Aside from my cheating ex, Gustaf was the only friend I’d confessed my secret to.
I groaned. And if I got deported, I’d lose my connection to that magic!
“I wish I was a better witch.” Learning to use my powers had been put on the backburner while I’d moved away from Bath to Desmond’s hometown. “If I was, I bet I could figure out a way to stay.” A lump formed in my throat. “I just got back here, Gus. I finally have a chance to figure out what I want instead of just going along with Desmond’s plans, to write and to learn to use my magic and explore this whole other part of me that I had to hide for so long.”
Gus reached over and squeezed my shoulder, his lips pressed together in sympathy. “I’m very sorry, Minnie. I tried to get Fitz to hire you. He’s quite stubborn.” He sighed. “Plus, the cafe’s not doing so well.”
I frowned. “Yeah, I overheard that. I thought all vampires were rich. Couldn’t he just float the shop?”
“That’s racist. Not all vampires are rich.” He looked at his nails. “I mean, most of us are.” He grinned, revealing his pointed canines. “Fitz, I believe, is cash poor—he owns a massive estate outside of town, and it takes a pretty penny to keep it running.” He shrugged. “I think he’s pretty fully invested in this tea shop venture of his.”
I lifted a hopeful brow. “Couldn’t you give him a loan?”
Gus snorted. “I could, but Fitz is too proud. Besides, I’m afraid I’d only be enabling him at this point. He can’t cope with modern life—he wants to cocoon himself in the ways and manners of the Regency. But I’m not sure clinging to the past is good for him. Plus, with a murder? This isn’t the kind of attention a vampire wants to attract.”
I nodded, gently stroking Tilda’s head. Even if Fitz had agreed to hire me on, it wouldn’t make a difference if the cafe closed. I frowned. Unless hiring me saved the cafe….
Tilda licked my thumb, as though encouraging me to follow the interesting line of thought that had popped into my head.
I looked up. “Gus… what if I was just as stubborn as Fitz?”
He raised a brow. “If?”
I shot him a flat look. “I mean… what if I didn’t take no for an answer? He doesn’t have to hire me for me to spend time in the cafe. I could go in as a customer who just happens to spend an inordinate amount of time there. I could chat with the butlers, ask them what they think should happen to bring in more customers and save the tearoom. Plus, I could probably pick up some good clues about the murder and maybe help clear the cafe’s name by figuring out who killed Brock.”
My friend stared at the swirling, viscous red liquid in his glass. “It’d help clear Fitz’s name with the Council, as well.”
I wasn’t sure who this mysterious Council was, but Gus was typically tight-lipped about vampire affairs, so I didn’t pry. I just nodded my agreement.
“Totally. I could make myself useful until Fitz has no choice but to see how essential I am.” I waggled my brows. “Get it? Because I need that essential worker visa?”
Gus pressed his eyes shut as though my terrible joke literally pained him. “Yes. I get it.”
I sat up straighter. “Well? What do you think? I’ll figure out a way to save the cafe and maybe just solve a murder while I’m at it. Fitz will be so impressed, he’ll hire me on full-time. I’ll get a job, stay here in Bath with my witchy magic, and Fitz can keep his cafe! Win-win!” I beamed.
Gus rubbed his eyes. “Minnie? Remember that foolish optimism of yours we were just discussing? I know you have marketing skills, but you have to change the mind of a vampire who’s had two hundred years to get stuck in his ways. Plus, you’re no detective. You really think just hanging around the tea shop you’ll glean enough to solve the murder?”
“Hear me out.” I raised my brows. “Someone who was in the cafe this morning has to have killed Brock. How else would they have triggered his allergy?”
Gus pressed his lips together and acknowledged my point with a nod.
I waved my hands, and Tilda batted at them. I immediately returned to petting her, and she purred, appeased. “Did you notice that mousy gal by the window? She seemed really jealous of all the flirting that blond lady—”
“The mousy one is Grace, and the blond is Collette.”
Gus rolled a wrist. “I overheard them speaking with the detectives.”
My eyes widened. “From downstairs?”
He tapped his ear. “Vampire hearing, my dear.”
Oh. Right. “Did you overhear anything good?”
“Like did one of them confess? No. It was boring, and I mostly tuned out.”
I lifted a brow. “Hey—why didn’t you or Fitz hear Brock wheezing and choking?”
“We were in the middle of a rather heated discussion. I was trying to convince him to stop being such a prat and hire you.” He shrugged. “We were distracted.”
I shot him a grateful smile, then went on. “Grace seemed jealous of Collette and Brock’s flirting. And they were pretty shameless in front of Collette’s husband.”
I grinned. “Jay might have been angry about that… though he did seem rather oblivious. Oh! And I overhead Brock arguing with a teammate in the alley. He mentioned a crazy ex-girlfriend who’d broken into his flat.”
Gus raised his brows. “That’s interesting.”
I nodded. “Plus, there were all the other butlers. Maybe there’s some rivalries there.”
My friend chuckled. “Alright, Minnie—fine. It’s not the worst plan I’ve ever heard.”
I grinned. “I’m desperate, Gus. What have I got to lose?”
He nodded, then his eyes drifted down to Tilda in my lap.
I held her under the armpits and hefted her up to face Gustaf. “I forgot to mention—this is my pet cat now.” I quirked my lips to the side. “You’re not allergic, are you?” Did vampires have allergies? “Tilda meet Gustaf. Gustaf, this is Tilda.”
Gus stared down at the cat, who stared right back at him. All of sudden, she scrambled to get loose and jumped down onto the Persian rug, arched her back, and hissed at Gus. Gus bared his teeth and hissed right back.
I rolled my eyes. “Oh, grow up.”
He jabbed a finger at Tilda. “She started it!” He winked at me. “Besides, we’re just figuring each other out.
That should clear the tension.”
And sure enough, Tilda sprang back onto the chaise, delicately sniffed Gus’s thigh, and curled up in my lap again.
I shook my head. “I don’t understand vampires… or cats.”
Gustaf winked. “You don’t have to, darling.”
Johnson, Erin. Spelling the Tea: A Magical Tea Room Mystery (The Magical Tea Room Mysteries Book 1) Kindle Locations (523-583). Kindle Edition.
In order to save the tea shop and Fitz’s reputation, Minnie is going to be just as stubborn as he is. She’s going to solve this murder. Then with her marketing skills and knowledge of the era make the tea shop the most popular in Bath.
As Minnie works through the suspects, she also makes some connections from Brock’s past that may or may not have something to do with his murder.
Plenty of suspense, intrigue, and twists as this tale unfolds. There are even hints of romance, the question is with who.
I am already ready the next book in this fun series.
5 Contented Purrs for Erin!
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A native of Arizona, Erin loves her new home in the Pacific Northwest! She writes paranormal cozy novels– stories that are mysterious, magical, and will hopefully make you laugh.
When not writing, she’s hiking, napping with her dogs, and losing at trivia night.
Erin’s had a ton of different jobs, from blackjack dealer to PA on a horror movie to Pilates instructor but has finally embraced her true calling as a writer. Thanks so much for your interest and for supporting her!