My guest today has combined the paranormal and a plague to write a very different romance!
The Story: In a small Texas town a desire for love becomes a curse that could unleash a deadly plague.
Ruth Warner is estranged from her family. She loves them, but her magic makes her an outsider in Bideer, Texas. Ruth has built a new life in New York. She’s a healer at the Collegium, respected and…lonely. Sometimes, you have to go home.
Ruth’s boss orders her to Bideer after a local coroner reports a suspicious death. Could the new cult in town, a lonely hearts club, be playing reckless games with a death curse?
But if Ruth is going home, she’s not going alone.
Shawn Jackson is a Collegium guardian, a mage trained to fight evil. He’s also a man accustomed to keeping secrets. He’s a hollerider, a huntsman; one of those who birthed the legend of the Wild Hunt. When he unleashes his magic, terror rides with him.
As evil stalks an innocent town, the dedicated healer and battle-hardened marine must heal their own broken hearts to prevent a devastating plague.
Warning: “Plague Cult” includes a haunted house, an unconventional ghost, and a home renovation love story.
“Any other symptoms,” Ruth asked.
“I’ll email you the report.” William closed the blank-paged notebook. “The curse is probably a false alarm, but the combination of a possible cult at a nexus site is unsettling in itself.”
“The nexus is only a small one,” she objected. “Most people don’t even notice the power boost of the converging ley lines.”
“For some people, any increase in power is worth pursuing.” Shawn raked a hand through his dark brown hair and shook his shoulders. “Ugh. I hate cults.”
“But the fact that you can mask your magic makes you ideally suited to a discreet investigation,” William said.
A slight grin curved Shawn’s mouth, denting a hint of dimple in one lean cheek. “I’m not complaining. I’ll be damn glad to get out in the field again.”
Ruth re-assessed the easy strength she’d sensed in him. “You were hurt?” She had to control the urge to scan his aura, looking for the shadow of old injuries.
“Ruth’s been working in Australia the last two months,” William said, apparently feeling she’d missed something obvious.
Shawn simply answered her question. “I wasn’t hurt. I was one of three guardians assigned to act as bodyguard and personal assistant to President Bennett before he discovered his new form of magic.”
“Ah.” Despite her dread at returning home to Bideer and the wisp of possibility that a plague could await her, she had to smile. “Were you an efficient secretary?” Her mind boggled at the idea. Shawn seemed very much an outdoors, open-spaces, action man. Trapping him behind a desk to juggle schedules and sort out office politics and paperwork seemed a recipe for frustration.
“Cute,” he said. “And no, I wasn’t a hit as a secretary. Lewis couldn’t wait to get rid of us.”
William cleared his throat.
Shawn grinned. “The feeling was mutual. Now, Lewis has a secretary who can silence a room full of pushy mages with the lift of an eyebrow.”
“Who?” Ruth was intrigued. She’d missed all the recent dramatic upheavals at the Collegium by virtue of her mission in Australia studying the transmission of the Hendra Virus in tropical Queensland. Fruit bats weren’t the only animals that spread the virus, and she’d been investigating the role of bunyips with the help of an Australian cryptozoologist. The passage of disease transmission across species, and from magical to mundane, was a special interest of hers.
“Gina, Lewis’s girlfriend, suggested her cousin Lance. He used to manage one of her family’s hotels, of the Sidhe Hotel chain, but was looking for a challenge. He only has the most minor of house witch magics, but his grasp of personal dynamics and Collegium politics is scary.”
“You like him,” Ruth said.
“By taking the job, Lance let Chad, Haskell and I off the hook. I owe him.”
“Indeed. And now you are free to accompany Ruth to Bideer.” William brought them back to the issue at hand: going home. “Ruth, in your file, you mention you’ve bought a house on the outskirts of town.”
She widened her eyes at him. “Rose House? We can’t stay there. It’s a fixer upper. I shouldn’t have even bought it.” It had been a mistake. She didn’t belong in Bideer. However, she’d scrupulously updated her Collegium file with her new purchase. She’d also told her brothers: Mitch in the army, and Kane at college. She hadn’t told them it was a secret, so they might have told her parents. If they had, her parents hadn’t phoned to bemoan her actions, although everyone knew it was better if she stayed away.
I guess I won’t be doing that. Anticipation and dread danced butterflies in her stomach. She’d be going home.
“Shawn will be your ex-marine friend taking on renovation of the house in exchange for free board and lodging,” William said
“Solid,” Shawn approved the cover story.
Ruth tried to shake herself up, to focus. “Have you ever been in the marines?”
“Spent a year embedded.” Sudden shadows darkened his hazel eyes.
Buy Link: https://amzn.com/B01G4XRCAC
Author Bio: Jenny Schwartz is a paranormal romance author with a BA in Sociology and History — people watching and digging into the past. She lives in Western Australia and is working towards her dream of living by the sea. You can find Jenny at http://authorjennyschwartz.com
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