Book Review Club: The Vine Witch #fantasy #romance

Once a year my reading group schedules a topic we call either Reading Surprise or Zen Reading. The idea is to pick up a book and start reading, without having read the description on the back cover (or website). If you’re lucky, what you find in the pages of the book is a nice surprise.

I tried and eliminated half a dozen books before I found The Vine Witch through Amazon’s Kindle First program for Prime members. The cover and title immediately caught my eye, so I grabbed a copy. All I knew about it was that Amazon had characterized it as Fantasy. To my delight, it turned out to be romantic fantasy.

The Vine Witch cover
The Vine Witch
by Luanne G. Smith
Debut Novel
47 North, 2019

In Smith’s fantasy version of early 20th c. France, all vineyards have vine witches, who use their skills to create a better vintage.

The book starts with the protagonist, Elena, trapped by a curse in a frog’s body. Every time the frog sheds it’s skin, she swallows the skin. She doesn’t remember much about being a human, but she knows the frog’s skin is poisonous. This time the poison hits critical mass and the curse is broken.

She returns home, planning to exact vengeance on her former fiance whom she believes ordered the curse on her. But everything has changed. Her mentor, an older woman, has sold the vineyard to an outsider, a young lawyer from Paris who wants to be a great vintner. Jean-Paul is a believer in law and science, so she has to hide her witchy abilities.

She’s also dismayed by the shape the vineyards are in. Someone has clearly cursed them as well. She goes about undoing the damage, trying to stay off Jean-Paul’s radar.

Her former fiance has since married a blond bier hexe from the northern lands (Germany, presumably) and has prospered mightily, buying up many of the local wineries when their grapes start to sour. Elena knows he is behind the damage to the Chateau Renard vineyard, as well.

Of course, nothing goes as planned, and Elena ends up accused of murder. Jean-Paul who has fallen in love with her tries to free her, only to end up in danger to himself.

This book was a lovely surprise. I found the world-building intriguing and the characters engaging, esp. Yvette, Elena’s felonious but charming partner in crime. (We don’t meet her until well into the book.) The writing is good, and there was the nice bonus of a romance subplot between Elena and Jean-Paul. Recommended for lovers or fantasy or paranormal romance.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Linda

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Witch or Pirate: Why Not Both? #Marooned Steamy #PNR #halloweenreads

What’s Halloween without witches and pirates? Well, witches for sure, but in my household and neighborhood, Halloween means pirates, too. Check out this local house, all decorated as a spooky pirate scene. It’s really awesome lit up at night with fog machine and piratical music.

Pirate House

When I was a kid, one of my favorite costumes was a witch. I’m still fascinated by witchcraft, and would like to know more about it. I’ve also spent a Halloween or two dressed as a pirate wench.

I first combined witches and pirates when I wrote a steamy paranormal novella called Marooned. In doing my research, I came across the notion of banishing spells, and knew I’d found the catalyst for the story. I had a lot of fun writing the rhyming spells. However, banishing spells are not a good idea, as Heather learns to her peril.

Marooned-steamy PNR

Marooned coverMarooned
by Lyndi Lamont
Steamy Pirate Romance

Blurb:

Heather Parnell is traveling from England to her home in Jamaica with her new husband, Roger, a man she detests. She performs a banishing spell with unintended consequences. When their ship is attacked by pirates, Roger is killed. Heather, disguised as a boy, joins the pirate crew.

Pirate captain Adam Langworth suspects there is something odd about the new lad. When he discovers she is a woman, she begs him to keep her secret, a violation of the ships’ articles. When her identity is discovered, Adam and Heather find themselves marooned on a deserted island with nothing to do for the rest of their lives but make love.

In this excerpt, Heather makes the fateful decision to banish Roger and his mistress Kitty from her life when she learns they intend to kill her.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

She moved to the bow of the ship, where she could be alone. The wind was strong, blowing the hood of her cape back. The crescent moon shone above, sending a faint illumination on the white caps below her and the sails above. She lifted her head, enjoying the feel of the wind on her face, in her hair. She was never happier than when she was outside, surrounded by the elements. Away from the petty squabbles and schemes of people…

She stood still for several moments, basking in the moonlight, the sound of the waves as they slapped against the hull, and the force of the wind. She was heading home to her beloved Jamaica. This should be a joyous occasion, and would have been had she found the right man. She pushed away her regrets and as she paused, soaking in the loving energy of the goddess, her spirits lifted and hope filled her heart.

What she was about to do was not without its risks. Her mother had cautioned her to be careful what she asked for. A negative spell could go badly awry.

But what did she have to lose except her life? And life was uncertain, at best.

Decision made, Heather pulled the paper with the names of her tormentors from the pocket of her cape as she formed the incantation in her mind. When she was certain, she held up the paper, focused on the evil being planned, and whispered,

——

“Foul murder intended for me.
Seek the pair who plan this deed.
Banish them first, by magic’s decree!
Send them from me.
So mote it be!”

——

She repeated the words, her voice growing stronger with each recitation. When the power within her peaked, she tore the paper into shreds and let the wind tear it from her fingers. “Send them from me. So mote it be!”

Drained of all emotion, she clutched the rail and stared out to sea. Her spell had been cast.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Do not try this at home. Seriously.

Heather has no idea what forces she has unleashed with her spell.

If you want to find out, Marooned is available at: Amazon US, Amazon AU, Amazon CA, and Amazon UK.

What costume will you be wearing on Halloween? I’m debating between Hogwarts professor with pointy witch hat and wand or pirate wench.

Linda / Lyndi