A Spell of Rowans is now up for Beta Readers. This romantic suspense novel has magical elements and is for an adult audience due to the discussion of child abuse and trauma. If interested in becoming a Beta Reader sign up via this form (the sign up will end soon, so don’t wait!). If you would prefer an ARC (advanced reader copy) in August, go to this form.
A Spell of Rowans, a contemporary story about a magical family
Magic comes in threes.
Victoria, whose empathic talent reads hidden feelings. Phillipa, with a glamour that bewitches. Liam, who can touch an object to reveal its past.
All are in danger.
With their magical talents twisted by a traumatic past, the Rowan siblings must face the deadly fallout of blackmail, murder, and magic.
Their narcissistic mother, Rachel Rowan, sniffed out secrets and she used her antique shop, Rosemary Thyme, as a front to torment the residents of Grimsby. But with her death and the murder of her assistant, Vic must discover the truth before the past destroys her.
And that hometown boy she dumped way back? He’s in Grimsby and knows the truth about her.
What is the difference between Beta Readers and ARC readers?
- Beta Readers – give feedback on the final rough draft. I may change some minor things after I reviewed this feedback.
- ARC Readers – don’t give feedback, but they do review. They receive the book about 45 days before it launches.
A Spell of Rowans is an emotionally charged book about child abuse, generational trauma, and the healing of adults still dealing with the pain. This contemporary novel about magic, murder, and blackmail is now available as a pre-order at Amazon!
Who is the audience for A Spell of Rowans?
A Spell of Rowans fits the genre of romantic suspense and mystery with some elements of Magical Realism. If you’ve enjoyed contemporary books on societal issues but want a bit of fantasy, this is the one for you.
For example, if you enjoyed reading Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic, books by Sarah Addison Allen (Garden Spells), and The Witches of New York.
How long is the book?
It is about 76,000 words, which is an average size for a contemporary novel. Because so much happens in the story, I believe you will fly through the story (gobbling it down).
Beta readers will gain access to it through Beta Books, an online app I use to track reading and feedback. ARC readers will get the book via a BookFunnel link.
What rating would you give this book?
I want to be clear, A Spell of Rowans is an adult book intended for adult readers, BUT there is no sexual content. The reason I mention it is for adults is that there are some disturbing passages about child abuse and trauma. That could be triggers for some. Applying a movie rating, I would give it a PG14 rating.
Who are the Rowans?
This is a first person point-of-view told by Victoria Rowan, the middle child of the Rowan family. When the story opens, their mother has recently passed away.
The three children, now adults, include Phillipa, the oldest who has powers to persuade through her glamour; Vic, who as an empath, knows another person’s innermost feelings; and Liam, their brother, who can touch an object and reveal its history (psychometry).
How does this book fit in with your other books?
There’s a lot of newness to this book – it’s a first person POV (I usually prefer third person), it’s contemporary (I usually like some historical aspect), and it has more mystery to the plot.
Unlike the College Fae series, this book isn’t for young adult readers. And unlike the Fairytale novella series, this book is not sweet or innocent. It’s actually about the loss of innocence. This book fits best with readers who enjoyed The Wicked Wolves of Windsor story in the collection of the same name.
Although a few beta readers have asked if there will be a series, but I plan A Spell of Rowans to be a standalone book.
Some advance feedback from current beta readers
First, the story was incredible. The plot/subplots were original, definitely not the typical whodunnit. When I thought I’d found an answer, there was a plot twist or two that threw a monkey wrench in the works. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.
The handling of the gifts and other supernatural things was perfect – logical, not too over the top, and it was nice how the characters weren’t all incredulous or disbelieving. Second thing I noticed and appreciated was the pacing.
Each chapter moved the story forward while sharing past and present events in a very matter of fact way, very Vic-esque. That was well done since the story was from her POV. There was one section of childhood memories or quick thoughts of past events that was ordered one after the other. Laid out that way, the flashbacks were succinct and impactful, and again spoke to the way Vic’s mind worked.
Third, the characterizations were amazing. Each person had very distinctive voices, behaviors, and quirks. Phillipa felt a little unfinished but she was still distinct. Vic’s mind was surprisingly ordered for an empath, but her explanation of having to know oneself thoroughly made sense.
I wanted to just give Liam a hug. He is very smart and very straightforward in the way children can be – no judgment or bias, just telling things as they are, unfiltered. He is probably the most complex character with his intelligence, his gift of psychometry, and his need to be isolated yet wanted.
The supporting characters was also well defined, and added much to the story.
Last, this book gave me all the feels. I was intrigued, anxious, scared, frantic, touched, sad, and pleased at various places in the story. To have that sort of emotional connection is all one can ask for in a great book. This is a great book. Thank you.
And comments from another reader —
This is an extremely well written book by someone with great skill. I love to read, but there have been books I have set down and lost interest in, so that is why I only read GoodReads yearly winners or only those on top of the Best Sellers list (for many years now, this has been my habit). This book belongs in those esteemed categories.
It is now 3:00 AM and I could not stop reading this book, I needed to devour the story to the end. I felt a lot of emotions reading this book, from suspense, puzzling over ‘who done it”, entranced by the characters, plot moved well, neat little details, love interest- everything a really good book has but more, I really enjoyed the mystical and magical parts too. At no point did I lose interest.
I also have that ‘sorry the book is over’ feeling because it was so much fun, something I get after reading only the best books. I understand the creative process, it sometimes feels like it is never truly complete, but this was a tight and pulled together story that checks all the boxes. Thank you for this honor and privilege.
When does A Spell of Rowans launch?
It is currently up for pre-release on Amazon. If you put the book on your Goodreads TBR or Shelf and on a Bookbub Wishlist, email will notify you when it launches October 26 AND get an email when the book goes on sale!
Summary of A Spell of Rowans, a contemporary Magical Realism novel
Raised by a narcissistic mother, the Rowan children’s magical talents were twisted to fit her needs. When Rachel dies, her children must confront the past to have a future.
Rachel Rowan could sniff out secrets and her antique shop, Rosemary Thyme, was a front to torment the residents of Grimsby. When she dies, her children are faced with the deadly fallout of blackmail, murder, and magic.
Victoria, whose empathic talent knows everyone’s hidden feelings; Philippa, whose glamour can bewitch; and Liam, the brother who touches objects to reveal their secrets, all find themselves in danger.
When her autistic brother is arrested, Vic needs to discover the truth to set him free.
A successful art restorer in the big city, Vic’s made a career of ignoring her past and hiding her strange powers. But with Rachel’s death, she must gamble away her secrets to face down forces determined to destroy her and her siblings.
And that hometown boy she dumped way back? He’s in Grimsby, and knows the truth about her.
Suitable for 18+, contains scenes of childhood trauma and adult abuse.
CLICK TO READ THE FIRST CHAPTER
A Spell of Rowans
My brush was finishing the left nostril of the Madonna when the call came. From practice, I ignored the ringing and smoothly completed the stroke on the board. Painted in the late 15th century, the portrait’s age demanded respect, even from a modern device.
I stepped back from the painting and examined my restoration work with a critical eye. Nice. I turned off the lamp.
I was cleaning my brushes when the phone rang for the third time. Wiping my hands on a towel, I tapped the phone, putting my sister on the speakerphone to hear her announcement.
The cutting of the bond between myself and my mother early this morning had woken me from a dead sleep. I thought I was past the need for confirmation but found myself asking, “It was around 1:30, wasn’t it?”
“Yes.” There was a pause before Philippa said, her voice breaking, “Ding dong.”
I couldn’t agree more. Indeed, the witch was dead. I asked Philippa, “What’s the plan?”
My older sister was a big planner. I imagine she had a spreadsheet in her head of what she would do once our mother died. It’s not like she hadn’t had time to plan: our parent broke her hip a couple of months ago, and her decline had been steady. Her long desired death was not exactly an unexpected event.
“How soon can you get here? There are things we need to discuss as a family and not on the phone.”
“I’ll come this evening via train.”
“You sure? What about the crowds? Wouldn’t a rental car be better?”
“It’s fine. A crowd is anonymous. I’ll be okay. Besides, I let my driver’s license expire.”
Phillipa let big-sister exasperation leak into her voice. “Really, Vic? What if you needed an ID?” When I didn’t respond to her chastisement, she gave an aggrieved sigh. “Will you stay at the house?”
“Liam refuses to go inside.”
My brother had a talent for psychometry, reading objects by touching them. I could only imagine how uncomfortable he would feel within the family home. However, a house empty of people presented no danger to my talent. I only needed to keep the right doors closed.
My mind was on death, both past and present, so Phillipa’s next words jarred me out of my abstraction. “Will work give you any trouble?”
“During the summer? For the death of a family member? No trouble at all.”
When I called to ask for time off, my boss at the university was all caring concern. That didn’t surprise me. Tony was a soft jelly type of man who remembered his staff’s birthdays and always let them have a half-day on the Friday before a holiday weekend.
Whenever I had to be in the same room with him, his emotions were like being stuck in marshmallow-goo. I tried to keep as much physical distance as I could between us; I didn’t want to get attached to niceness. It was messy.
“Take as much time as you need. Losing a parent is hard.”
Was it? Probably for normal people with average parents, it was. For now, I was still assessing my own psychic damage. I probed that lost emotional connection, like a tongue touching where a tooth was suddenly missing. Eventually, I would get used to the sensation of loss. Life continued. That I knew.
For now, though, I was feeling lightheaded, floaty, from the relief of Rachel Rowan’s death. Tony’s voice on the other side of the phone startled me.
“Where should we send flowers?”
“I’ll let you know when I get the details.”
Ha! Flowers? He should send a bouquet of Vervain and Dill. But for all of Tony’s historical knowledge, he wouldn’t get a reference to plants traditionally used to ward off witches.
I asked him, “What about the Madonna? Do you want me to return her to the university?”
“Your studio is secure and covered by insurance. It would be safer there, for now. I have my hands full here with an emergency fumigation. Some idiot brought in a cardboard box from outside, and now everyone is seeing bugs.”
My studio, where I worked by myself, far from people, was indeed secure. It had a security system probably better than the university.
“I’ll keep you updated about my plans by email,” I told him.
Taking a train was a calculated risk. I chose a time when it would be crowded with people all rushing to get home from work. Their tired minds were on getting dinner.
Being around groups of people muddled their emotional output. My empath abilities felt it only as white noise.
I watched the scenery passing by. The train was already out of the city, passing through the suburbs. It was all achingly familiar.
That dead link between myself and my mother gave me the eerie feeling I had forgotten something.
I hadn’t. That was the problem. I hadn’t forgotten a damn thing.
At each stop, more passengers got off, heading to enjoy their ordinary lives. This line would eventually take me to Grimsby. It was the last stop before the train returned.
Tired from my interrupted sleep last night, my head started to nod. My forehead pressed against the cool glass of the window, and to the rocking of the train, I fell asleep.
I was in the water, drowning. I flailed with my hands upward, trying to grip something, anything. A hand pushed my head back down, down under the surface. As I opened my mouth to scream, the weedy-stinking lake water smothered my unborn cries.
I awoke with a start, choking, my heart pounding from fright. Still panicked from my recurring dream, the voice made me stare at its owner.
“Pleasant dream, Vic?”
The carriage was now empty except for myself and a man sitting opposite, nearest to the aisle. A face I had known once, softer, more lively, and dearly fond. Now his features held the neutral stillness of the experienced hunter, as it gave me an assessing evaluation from stony eyes.
Even if I didn’t recognize him, the blank emotional wall that refused my talent entrance gave him away. I had only met one person in my life who was a blank to my powers: Reed Easton.
Like I didn’t have enough ghosts from the past. Some of what I felt must have shown on my face. For he said in a voice deeper than I remembered, “Not pleased to see me, old friend?”
“Good evening, Reed.”
He gave a gracious nod of his head as if he was royalty acknowledging a peasant. I wondered how long Reed had sat there watching me sleep? Was that creepy or romantic? Knowing how we had parted fifteen years ago, my guess veered towards unsettling. And dangerous.
As if he had read my thoughts, he asked, “Returning to Grimsby after all these years?”
I might not be able to read his emotions, but I had a long experience matching feelings to faces and words. Even being empathetically-blind, I could see he still held a grudge about how we parted. That was another surprise. I had no regrets over burning that bridge. I was a talented bridge-burner, and I learned long ago: never look back to see what damage the fire did.
Suddenly, I became aware of how wrinkled my shirt was. How wearing the most paint-stained but comfortable jeans from my closet did not exactly scream, “look at how successful I am without you in my life.”
I pulled the sympathy card. “My mother died.”
“Ding dong, huh?”
Considering my mother’s reputation in Grimsby, I had already figured the turnout for any memorial service wouldn’t be numerous. But with Reed’s words, I wondered. Maybe a crowd of Grimsby residents, all holding pitchforks, would storm the house, wanting confirmation that the witch was dead. As well as her spawn.
“Your sister seems to be doing well.”
“Yes, she is.”
I wondered how much longer before we pulled into the Grimsby station? Maybe I could excuse myself and hide in the bathroom?
I tried not to wince at him mentioning my brother. Liam was not faring well. He had his reasons, but I wasn’t sharing them. I said politely, “He’s fine.”
Reed gave a small chuckle that I remembered all too well. “Still hiding the truth, Vic?”
I saw the silhouette of the town’s water tower against the setting sun. Good, not much more of this before we would pull into the station. I reminded myself I could react like an ordinary human being. Pretend.
I asked pleasantly, keeping my voice level, “Your family?”
“Fine,” he said, with a smile that was sarcastic, acknowledging the game we played.
The adult version of his face had no softness, only angles. Reed, once a star athlete on the high school swim team, was still lean and muscular. He wore crisp jeans, sharply pressed, a light blue jacket, and an Oxford shirt with the top button undone. It all fitted with immaculate tailoring. Well. Hm.
The train stopped. I practically jumped from my seat and grabbed my bag from under the seat. I slung the strap over my shoulder, and with eyes downcast, said, “It was nice seeing you after all this time—”
With the sudden speed of a cat, Reed blocked my exit with his arm. He bent to me, his breath on my ear softly fluttering my hair. I shivered.
“Was it nice? Seeing me?” he asked.
I kept my eyes forward, looking straight through the glass to the platform beyond. Freedom was so close. When I didn’t answer, he pulled back, his light jacket flaring open in the movement.
I shoved the door open as fast as possible. As I hurried away, I wondered why my old high school boyfriend would be wearing a gun.
END OF CHAPTER ONE
Enjoy the angst on my Rowan’s Spotify Playlist
A Spell of Rowans is a full length novel with a contemporary Magical Realism setting.
Enjoy the Spotify Playlist (some songs suggested by my Facebook Fan group).