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Hidden Witch – Torrent Witches Cozy Mysteries Book 3 by Tess Lake


Hidden Witch
Torrent Witches Cozy Mysteries Book 3
By
Tess Lake

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Harlow Torrent, part-time journalist and full-time Slip Witch is hot on the trail of an arsonist.

But who is behind the deadly fires? Someone working for their own evil ends or a fire spirit acting according to its nature? Or perhaps a magical power hidden away?

Between dealing with sleazy real estate developers intent on getting their hands on Torrent Mansion, a teenage Slip Witch who just might be the Queen of Sarcasm, a talking magical cat who smells like lavender, and an AWOL potential future boyfriend, Harlow would love nothing more than a peaceful Summer.

But when a special arson investigator arrives in town with his sights set on Harlow, she has to fight to clear her name!

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If you haven’t read the other books in this series, go back and read them. This book starts where that one left off.

In the last book Harlow’s slip caused her to see clips of the past as she works to solve the murder of the skeletons they found. In those are clues to something, she just doesn’t quite know what.

This book opens with a series of fires. Starting with a warehouse, then a vacant rental home and now this one. Unfortunately, in this latest fire the occupant died of smoke inhalation so if it was indeed arson, then it’s also murder. With her history with fire Harlow doesn’t want to report on a fire especially if it’s possibly arson.

She’s also waiting for Jack to return from cleaning up his affairs in Canada, that’s taken longer than he expected.

She gets a bit of a heads up from Sheriff Hardy about the arson special investigator, who’s coming to town. Apparently, he’s connected her to the fire in her apartment building (attributed to faulty wiring) that caused her to come back to Harlot Bay and the subsequent fire in the house on the Torrent property that had the family moving back into the main mansion. We can’t forget that fire from the first book when a kettle on a stove started the fire in Zero Storm’s rental, after she had been there. Oh, and let’s not forget the fireworks explosion and fire the first night with guests at the newly opened Torrent Mansion Bed and Breakfast. That one had some interesting consequences for Harlow.

In an interesting turn of events, real-estate agent and developer, Dominic Gresso, stops by wanting to buy the mansion. Mentioning that April Torrent is the owner of record, and he can’t find her to talk to. That brings up hackles on Aunt Cass as she swiftly gets rid of him. April is Cass’s sister and Harlow’s grandmother who is frozen in time in the basement. No one know when she will awaken, they are just confident she will one day.

You’d think that would be enough for an opening, but it goes one step further. In an unexpected move, Hattie Stern drops off her granddaughter Kira to be trained by Aunt Cass. Like Harlow and Cass, Kira is a slip witch and there’s concern that the fires may have been caused by her slipping. Aunt Cass is also having Harlow get involved.

This is a favorite scene.

“The two of you are not going to talk about what you’re about to see today, okay?” Aunt Cass said, pointing a finger at both of us.

“Um… okay?” Kira said.

“Enough with the dramatics,” I said.

“Snitches end up in ditches,” Aunt Cass said, wiggling her finger at me. “This way.”

We followed her back through the kitchen and down the stairs into the basement. Grandma, as usual, was standing in the back corner, still frozen in time with her hands out in front of her. She had a concealment spell on her, which excluded family members. Aunt Cass waved a hand and Kira gasped as Grandma appeared.

“Oh my Goddess,” she said.

“Tell anyone and I’ll curse you back to the Stone Age,” Aunt Cass said. She grabbed the flashlight by the door that led to the underfloor of the house.

“What happened to her?”

“She attempted some dangerous magic,” Aunt Cass said.

Unbelievable. She won’t tell us a thing, but the moment someone from outside the family shows up, she spills that Grandma attempted some dangerous magic?

Aunt Cass flicked on the flashlight and opened the old door, and we followed her in.

“Be careful where you walk. Some of the floorboards are rotting and there’s another entire story below us,” I told Kira.

She didn’t say anything but did turn on her phone light.

At first I thought we were heading for Aunt Cass’s underground laboratory, but then we took a right instead of a left and headed down a corridor I was sure I’d never seen before. It ended in a heavy door. Aunt Cass grunted when she opened it.

We followed her into a room that looked like something out of a serial killer’s fantasy.

You know in those cop shows how there is always a moment when they have the big map covered with strings and pins and there are photographs stuck to the wall and random newspaper articles all over the place? Aunt Cass done that to this room. One entire wall was a gigantic map of Harlot Bay and its surrounds. I counted at least eight different pin colors. Tangled around the pins were bits of crisscrossed thread with no apparent pattern. The map had question marks and notes written all over it.

I walked over to the map to take a closer look and then felt a push of magic from behind me. Between one blink and the next, most of the pins on the map vanished, leaving only a few red ones behind.

She’d seriously cast a concealment spell to stop me from looking at the map?

“What did you do that for?” I asked, turning around. I saw the rest of the walls were blank now too.

“I need you to help me with this, and all the rest of that stuff would just confuse you,” Aunt Cass said, fixing me with a challenging look.

Or you just like showing off, I thought.

“You need us to help you?” Kira asked.

“Around the beginning of the summer, something set off a magical fire in my stash of fireworks up in one of the cottages behind the mansion. They destroyed many hundreds of dollars’ worth of stock and cost me possibly thousands of dollars’ worth of profit. I have been investigating this for some months and have come to the conclusion it appears to be a magical entity of some type. Given the recent fires in Harlot Bay, I believe we are dealing with a fire spirit of some kind, and I need your help, both of you, to track it down.”

“A fire spirit? So all the red pins are recent fires?” I asked.

“All reported and unreported fires I’ve been able to discover. Whatever it is keeps moving around, so what I need you to do is take the three beacons over there and place them in three specific locations so we can triangulate a position for whatever this thing is. Understand?”

The beacons were essentially pieces of carved crystal, with a raven’s feather and some other bits and pieces, bound up with string.

“You think the fire yesterday out on the coast was caused by a fire spirit?” I asked.

Duh, that’s what she just said,” Kira said to me.

“I like her. She gets it,” Aunt Cass said. She picked up the beacons and handed them to Kira while I tried not to glare.

“You’ll be in charge of these. Here are the addresses of the places where I need you to put them up. Now get going. I need it done right now.”

Aunt Cass waved the list of addresses at me.

“Wait, I want more information. If there is a fire spirit somewhere in Harlot Bay, what are you going to do with it when you find it?”

Aunt Cass shrugged.

“I’m not sure yet. Maybe trap it and deport it. Or if it won’t cooperate, I might have to extinguish it.”

“Let’s do it. I’m ready,” Kira said.

Teenagers. So easily swayed and so desperate for approval.

“Okay, give me the addresses,” I muttered.
Lake, Tess. Torrent Witches Cozy Mysteries Complete Box Set (Books 1 – 10) Kindle Locations (6352-6388). Tess Lake. Kindle Edition.

Of course, nothing is going to be simple about any of this.

Their participation in the pirate’s parade is key in Jack making quite an appearance. The investigator snoops close to home, and clues lead to more than just the fires.

I love the addition of Kira to these books, she’s snarky and fun. Adams as always has me giggling at his antics. Plus, all the new relationships that have formed grow stronger.

I am already reading the next book, as I purchased this as a complete series box set.

5 Contented Purrs for Tess!

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Treasure Witch – Torrent Witches Cosy Mysteries Book 2 by Tess Lake


Treasure Witch
Torrent Witches Cozy Mysteries Book 2
By
Tess Lake

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Harlow Torrent, part-time journalist and full-time Slip Witch is pulled into a murder mystery when the skeletons of a man and a girl are uncovered on Truer Island. Seeing visions of the past that are all too real and ghosts who are becoming more solid by the day, Harlow is trying to keep her online newspaper running, dealing with her meddling witch family and working out what to do about the very handsome Jack Bishop being back in town. But Harlow might be out of her depth when the murderer sets their sights on her!

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I bought this series in the complete box set. I am reviewing individually as I read.

I do recommend that you read this series in order as this book continues where the last one left off.

If you recall Harlow had been frozen after defeating a murdering magical creature, it’s now six weeks later and she’s finally awakened. She’s also avoiding Jack. She had promised him a date if he was still around after the Butter festival but being frozen meant her family lied and said she was vacationing in France.

Harlow Torrent and Carter Wilkins are in a wild ride as this book opens. Marika Henderstrom CEO of Gold Mud International is driving the golf cart they’re in at speeds that should never be reached in the vehicle. The end of that ride contains a news worthy find. The backhoe operator stops and, in the ditch, clearly visible, are two skeletons. Nothing like that kind of reveal with two journalists present.

Sheriff Hardy is called and after he gets everyone’s statement things gets shut down. Harlow’s hoping to decompress with her cousins Molly and Luce at the Traveler’s but their new complicated, somewhat dangerous, Italian spouting coffee maker, has attracted a new volume of business. They are now thinking of switching from souvenirs to a coffee shop. Luce wants to wait but Molly wants to forge ahead, a new point of contention with them. They also have boyfriends, Will the landscaper and Ollie the librarian. They’re all heading to lunch when Harlow sees a little girl’s ghost, she’s sure it’s the ghost of the child skeleton found earlier and already knows she’s going to help and tells the ghost where to find her.

Aunt Cass offers little in the way of help with the girl they are calling Holly since she can’t remember her actual name.

The renovation to turn part of Torrent Mansion into a Bed and Breakfast is still in progress but enough has completed for the first guests. There’s so much that is happening in this book with the next thing a bit explosive as Aunt’s Cass’s stock of illegal fireworks starts exploding at the end of dinner with those first guests. Stopping the fire that caused it with Cass opens Harlow up to a scary side effect.

Harlow still hasn’t addressed the issue of Jack. His brother is opening an office downstairs from hers so she knows she can’t avoid him forever but she’s going stay away as long as she can. After another interview with the sheriff, Harlow spends a few minutes in a witchy happy spot on a corner. This is when she decides to go to her office and face whatever comes.

This is just one of my favorite scenes.

After a while, the joy and happiness collected in that one spot worked on me. I had a spring in my step and I was feeling better. I was even ready to face Jonas if it came to it.

I walked back to the office and went upstairs but didn’t run into Jonas. I did hear him in his office talking on the phone.

I barely glanced at the charred circle on the floor. The crazy desire that produced it seemed to be a million miles away. I could hardly believe it was me who had done it. Although it was getting close to lunch I sat down at my computer and started writing in an attempt to get through some of my backlog. Just like the drive to work, the habitual nature of it calmed me and soon I was engrossed in an article about the foreshore restoration project and the tree plantings they were using to stop further erosion. Exciting stuff, I know. One of the things I love about being a writer is that I can get really interested and excited about practically anything. I hit the Internet for more information about soil erosion and how to recover from it and was deep in the world of plants and dirt and using nature to recover from the destruction that humankind wrought on the landscape when there was a knock on the door.

“Come in,” I called out without looking up.

“So, the girl who stood me up for a baguette.”

The world of soil erosion and plants suddenly evaporated, leaving me sitting in my office with Jack Bishop leaning against the door frame. He was as handsome as ever. Those eyes, my gosh. That stubble. That slightly shaggy look. He was wearing a dark blue T-shirt and a pair of bone-colored shorts. Without being able to stop myself my gaze traveled down him. Those eyes, lips, strong arms and hands, the shape of his body, his legs…

“Would you like me to turn around so you can view the back?” Jack asked and crossed his arms.

I’d seen him three weeks ago helping his half-brother move furniture and then I had fled down the fire escape (like a strong independent woman who knows what she wants). I’d known I would probably come face to face with him again. I had hoped it would be at a moment when I was effortlessly beautiful and I would have some witty rejoinder ready to float off my lips.

Was it too much to hope that we would meet at some spectacular charity gala event and I would be wearing an amazing amazing evening gown and he would arrive in a suit, looking like a secret agent? He would say something charming, I would give him a witty reply and we would engage in some kind of verbal cat-and-mouse game even as we stepped closer together…

It hadn’t really occurred to me that I might see him in the doorway of my office as I sat hunched over a computer, my hair tied up in a messy ponytail, feeling a bit sweaty because I hadn’t realized that the room had heated up.

I summoned up all of my linguistic powers honed by years of writing and made a sound that probably could be translated as urk. My face turned red one nanosecond after that.

“Oh, you’re blushing. Probably because you remembered that we had a date planned and then you stood me up because you suddenly went to France. No need to feel embarrassed. Come with me to the Festival of Lights down at the park tonight and we’ll forget all about it.”

The Festival of Lights was a fundraiser to help the Harlot Bay Hospital upgrade some of its equipment and expand the number of beds. There was going to be live music, food stands and parade of glowing papier-mâché animals and fish lit up from within. It had started last year – one of the mayor’s ideas again – and this was its second year. Last year it had raised nearly fourteen thousand dollars from ticket sales and donations and was a stunning success. This year it was about three times as big, and it seemed almost everyone around town was participating. I was already going as part of my job as being a reporter and also being a good citizen. The moms were going to be there also, donating sales from their baked goods to the cause.

“I’m already going,” I said.

That was the witty comment I’d spent so long working on? The snarky, possibly flirty line that I had for him? Oh my Goddess, I was going to die.

“Wonderful. I’ll see you there at seven thirty. We’ll eat a hot dog, drink a beer, see some glowing fish. You can tell me all about France. Unless of course you’re flying off to some other European country sometime this afternoon that you’ve forgotten about?”

I shook my head. Jack smiled that roguish smile at me and in an instant he was gone.

And yes, for the record, he did look amazing from behind in those shorts.

As soon as he was gone I let out the breath I seemed to be holding. It felt like my office had jumped in temperature in the last two minutes.
Lake, Tess. Torrent Witches Cozy Mysteries Complete Box Set (Books 1 – 10) Kindle Locations (3737 – 3773). Tess Lake. Kindle Edition.

The Festival of Lights was quite the event and Jack and Harlow’s date was interrupted by an attack on Carter and the bald man who stepped on her as he rushed by them a bit earlier.

I love the way Harlow gets bits and piece of information from all different sources as she helps the sheriff unofficially solve the crime. I also get a kick out of her cat Adams, who sneaks in information even as he complains he’s starving.

Intrigue, spats, laughter, tears and romance as well pour from these pages as the crime is solved.

5 Contented Purrs for Tess!

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I’m all about Cozy Witches! Mystery, murder, magic!

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Butter Witch – Torrent Witches Cozy Mysteries Book 1 – By Tess Lake


Butter Witch
Torrent Witches Cozy Mysteries Book 1
By
Tess Lake

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The International Butter Festival has come to town! When Harlow Torrent, part-time journalist and full-time Slip witch stumbles upon a dead body, frozen and drained of blood, she’s pulled into a murder mystery.

Someone has murdered one of the Butter Festival competitors. Was it Zero Bend, punk sculptor extraordinaire with a history of violence? Perhaps Fusion Swan, a sleazy agent playing the publicity game when his clients meet their untimely end.

Between trying to run her struggling online newspaper, dealing with her highly caffeinated cousins Molly and Luce, fending off three meddling witch mothers who will do anything to get their daughters married off (including drugging food with magic potions) and great Aunt Cass who appears to be running an underground laboratory of some kind, Harlow barely has time to breathe, let alone solve a murder.

Romance certainly isn’t on the cards either but the hot scruffy guy new to town seems to have other ideas…

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I bought this series in the complete box set. I am reviewing individually as I read.

Harlot Bay is a small seaside tourist town. It has a lot of magical quirkiness and of course a family or two of witches.

The Torrent family lives in a falling down mansion, there are only two parts of it that are livable although there is some hope of restoring the rest at some point.

Harlow is a one of the family and a slip witch, she runs a website of news, trivia and well anything she can think of. She even has an office thanks to the city council offering free rent to new businesses. She also does therapy for a ghost named John, trying to figure out why he’s still here so maybe he can move on. Her cousins Molly and Luce have a souvenir shop called Travelers and her mother and aunts run a bakery The Big Pie and their Aunt Cass, well she does lots of things not all of them legal. Then there’s Harlow’s cat Adam who talks and sleeps in ovens.

As with a lot of families, their mothers all want them to get married and give them grandchildren, so any socializing has to be done on the sly. However, they don’t exactly have boyfriends or even prospects yet. Dinner is an amusing time of bickering and accusations. You know the fun stuff.

The real fun begins when Harlow discovers a dead body while taking photos of the massive amount of butter for the upcoming International Butter Carving Festival. There are few clues, and the Sheriff needs help but can’t actually ask for it. The deceased, Holt Everand is one of the contestants so there’s no lack of suspects. Just for a little more drama there’s also graffiti all over town of the top contender’s name, Zero Bend. There’s also quite a bit of contention between Harlow and the owner of the Harlot Bay Times, Carter

Of course, there would have to be questioning of many people and in a small town you know the journalists would be on top of all of it. The sheriff really has his hands full with Carter though. Harlow just goes with the flow.

This is a favorite scene.

“Mr. Swan, the Harlot Bay Times would like an exclusive interview with you,” Carter said.

“Exclusive? I’ll tell you what: I’ll send both of you fine journalists a press release and see how you report on it tomorrow. Whoever does the best job will receive the exclusive interview. Fair?”

I mumbled something that could have possibly been yes. My reporter side was telling me to get that interview for the story. My witch side was bugs-crawling-on-my-skin itchy and didn’t want to spend any more time with this guy at all.

Carter turned to Sheriff Hardy.

“Do you have any clues as to the identity of the vandal?”

“We’re looking into it. Due to the popularity of the festival, we have a lot of tourists in town, and we are aware this has occurred at other locations Mr. Bend has traveled. As Mr. Swan said, there may be some excited fans out there. We’re going to find the culprit and anyone who directed their actions and pursue them with the full force of the law. Let’s just hope no one is stupid enough to do it again.”

The way Sheriff Hardy said it, I knew he didn’t believe for one second that it was some random groupie or crazy fan. And that last bit? A clear warning to Fusion Swan.

Sheriff Hardy pointed at me.

“Harlow?”

Oh, what questions did I have? Um . . . none, really. I’d found the body, and so I had known most of what he’d said already. I reached into my bag and pulled out the memory stick with the photos on it. I slid it across the table.

“Here are the photos I took this morning before I found Mr. Everand,” I said.

“I want a copy of those!” Carter said quickly.

“These are crime scene photos and I’ll decide if we release them, if at all.”

“It’s not fair! She’s going to report on this murder, and she has the crime scene photos and I don’t?”

I turned to Carter, my mouth hanging open in disbelief.

“Are you kidding? I was there, that’s why I have the photos. And I’ll tell you this: there’s nothing in them. It’s all just butter, piles and piles of butter.”

I left out my final photo of the gaping black hole in reality where Holt Everand had been.

“It’s bias and I won’t stand for it,” Carter sniped.

Sheriff Hardy sighed and rubbed his face. Last year Carter had written an article that strongly hinted at some sort of corruption “high up” in the Harlot Bay police force. The evidence to base this vague attack on? An “unnamed source” within the department had advised that local businesses provided generous benefits to the police. Big Pie Bakery was named as one of these businesses, and when my mother and aunts marched down to Carter’s office, he accused them of giving the police seven donuts when they only ordered six.

Yup, corruption from up on high.

I’ll say this for Carter: he has some guts to face down three angry witches.

The craziest thing that happened after that was while the aforementioned three angry witches were cooking up a revenge plot, Aunt Cass told them to stop being babies and said that any publicity was good publicity. She pretty much banned them from fighting back, and she was probably right. Sales at the bakery increased after that.

“I will look at the photographs, and if they do not contain anything we wish to keep to ourselves for the moment, I will have Mary send you a copy. I suspect you will have to ask Harlow’s permission to publish them, however, as she is the one who owns the copyright.”

“I do not give my permission to publish,” I said to Carter sweetly.

“Bias,” he muttered to himself. Sheriff Hardy stood up.
The meeting was over.

“Unless there is anything else, I need to get back to work. Mr. Swan, if you could arrange with your client to come down here, I would appreciate it. Harlow, may I talk with you a moment about a different matter?”

“Looking forward to those articles,” Fusion said, pointing at me and Carter before leaving.

Carter stopped in the doorway. “I’m not going to put up with bias,” he declared before marching away, his eyebrows twitching like crazy.

Sheriff Hardy waited until they were gone before sitting down again. He reached over and turned off my recorder.

“This is not for print. Holt was drained of blood, and I mean almost completely. He had some other kind of liquid in his veins, which we’ve yet to identify.”

“He was sitting in a frozen puddle of blood.”

“A little bit of blood goes a long way. The rest of it was gone. Take a look at this.”

Sheriff Hardy opened the folder he’d brought in and slid a photo across to me. It was the back of Holt Everand’s neck, the photo taken on the autopsy room table. He had a huge bruise in the shape of a handprint across his neck. You could clearly see the finger marks.

“What do you make of that?”

I examined the photo for a moment but didn’t get more out of it than I’d already seen.

“That’s a bruise in the shape of a hand.”

“A bruise is blood that has been drawn to the surface of the skin. Do you know . . . anything . . . that might cause such an injury?”

Sheriff Hardy looked at me, and I suddenly understood he was talking about witch-related matters. There are rumors aplenty about our family, and the way our decrepit mansion looms over the town certainly doesn’t help, nor do the various shenanigans/possible crimes Aunt Cass has pulled over the years. Sheriff Hardy’s family has lived in Harlot Bay as long as ours has, and he knows all the stories. He also knows that sometimes our family can help when traditional methods of investigation have failed. I’m not sure of all the details, but I know Aunt Cass has helped him out in exchange for him overlooking certain events the police might otherwise be interested in (such as her illegal fireworks business she was running for a while and sometimes starts up again when she feels like it).

It’s one of those “he knows, we know, he knows we know, we know he knows” situations. He’ll never come right out and say it, so this is where we end up: an online journalist being asked questions outside her official circle of knowledge.

“I . . . may be able to find out something about that. I’ll check with some of my sources,” I told him.

He nodded and slipped the photo back into the folder.

“Thanks, Harlow.
Lake, Tess. Torrent Witches Cozy Mysteries Complete Box Set (Books 1 – 10) Kindle Locations (1071-1123). Tess Lake. Kindle Edition.

There’s also a tourist type that comes looking for Harlow, Jack Bishop. They don’t get much information out of him, but he appears to be interested in Harlow.

We get to meet Holly and Luce’s boyfriend interests in this one, Ollie the librarian and Will the landscaper in a dinner set up by the mothers. Even Jack the tourist gets pulled in on that one. An interesting twist is that Harlow invites the Sheriff to be a buffer.

There’s much fun, laughter, suspense and lots of surprises too!

5 Contented Purrs for Tess!

Click the Cover for Buy Links

Complete Series

Individually

I’m all about Cozy Witches! Mystery, murder, magic!

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Amazon Author Page