Fall is upon us, and it came up on us way too fast! I am a summer baby, literally born on the solstice, so I like the warm and balmy days, although I'll confess to a strong loathing of 90% humidity!
Though I am a little sad to see summer end, I am very happy to share some updates, specifically, the cover reveal for In the Pureblood's Arms, Book 4 in The Magiste Chronicles. I am very excited to relaunch this book – with some extensive rewrites and a fresh new title, it is now what I had imagined when these characters first started talking to me.
Chantal and Henri's story is more than simply the fourth book in the series, or the first of the Magiste Founders tales. This book holds a special place in my heart, because it’s the first to combine my two favorite genres – historical and paranormal. It's a tricky balance – while I can make up the paranormal aspects when I world-build, I can fudge with the historical facts only so much. Merging those pieces together while building a love story made this one of the books I had the most fun writing, and one of the very few I wrote straight through from end to end without another project running alongside it.
Another tricky aspect to this book is the villain, or should I say villains. For while there is one specific person who can be named as a villain, there is a broader scope to the bad guys in this book. The backdrop of the story is one of the Papal Inquisitions, specifically under the control and expansion by Louis IX, King of France. Louis was a very devout Catholic and is the only French king to be canonized for his efforts in working with the Church during his rule. Interestingly enough, he participated in the Eighth Crusade, alongside Edward I (merely a prince at the time), another of my favorite historical figures whom I've included in several other books.
In any case, basically the Catholic Church is the enemy lurking in the shadows in this book, aided by traitorous Magiste seeking to enhance their own power and standing. Some things throughout history never change, eh? We never actually see the Pope, or the local bishops who oversaw all activities related to destroying heresy and achieving their additional goals of wealth and influence, but it is discussed often amongst the characters, and there is no question who is targeting the Magiste. These events send Henri Marchand and Chantal Belliveau on a desperate race for survival.
I've made some changes to the story, cleaned up and rearranged parts, and generally corrected any issues I'd had with the previous incarnation. In the Pureblood's Arms didn't need as many edits as the other three books, but enough that there are noticeable differences and definite clarifications. This book's historical aspects also brought some major changes to the overall arc of the Magiste Chronicles, and have put me on a path to explore some new historical times.
So this book really has a lot of different meanings for me, which is certainly a bit more complex than my other series. There are so many ways the rest of the series can go (I've got them all written down! lol), but now I have to find some new crisis to torment my characters with.
In the meantime, In the Pureblood's Arms will be available for pre-order in the coming days. And here it is, the beautiful new cover that perfectly captures Chantal and Henri, as created by Winter Bayne, my favorite multi-talented cover artist, and once again featuring Michael Foster, as Henri.
Here is the blurb and a small teaser from In the Pureblood's Arms. I think of this as "A Magically Kinky Twist on History!" Stay tuned for pre-order and buy links!
* He saved her from certain death, but is he more dangerous – to her heart? *
In 13th century France, attacked by those carrying out the Papal Inquisition, Magiste Enchantress Chantal Belliveau is thankful for rescue from certain torture and death. But she never expected her savior to be Henri Marchand, one of a powerful pureblooded line of ancient Magiste, the Zyndevines, known for their practice of dark magic. Henri holds the key to her survival, but the danger he poses to her heart and soul could be even more perilous.
Despite his dark lineage, Henri is part of Il Resistasse, a handful of powerful Magiste fighting the atrocities the Catholic Church inflicts on their race. Saving Chantal becomes more than a simple rescue - the innocent young woman with half-trained powers enchants him more than he has ever been before. That she enjoys the dark side of pleasure he inflicts makes him question his determination to never give another his heart.
Chantal is horrified when Henri invokes an ancient spell, the Possede Puissant. The incantation leaves her little more than his possession. While she finds herself enjoying his dark and wicked sensual delights, she determines to free herself. Yet, the security she finds with Henri encourages her to stay by his side, claiming spell or not.
Resentment from Henri's family convinces Chantal she must ultimately break free of Henri's possession. When the Inquisitors attack, Henri convinces Chantal to embark on a journey to a new land, a journey that may well mean the survival of the entire Magiste race but the loss of her freedom forever.
** Contains explicit Magically Kinky! love scenes of the paranormal kind, including magical sex toys, potions, bondage, spanking and more!
Here's that excerpt. Enjoy!
Near Toulouse, France 1255
Henri adjusted his cloak, striding quickly toward the stables, thumb turning the ring on his left hand in a nervous motion. The stone, set in nearly pure gold mined from the caves near Limoges, warmed. He took a deep breath, teeth grinding in anger. He had little time to reach his destination and waited impatiently while the groom finished saddling his horse. If he made it in time, he'd need the animal to help with the task that lay ahead.
Word had come that a family near Toulouse had been targeted by the Inquisitors. Each passing second seemed somehow a waste, spurring his impatience, the message arriving only minutes before. In his mad rush to reach the stables, he'd avoided his parents, knowing they would disapprove of his actions. While Edouard and Marie Marchand preferred dealing with the minions of the Church using dark arts, Henri feared such measures only served to increase the rabid urges of men who held power and hungered for more. While he appreciated the use of sinister magic to bring his enemies to their knees, the brutality of the Inquisitors far exceeded anything he'd witnessed from the Magiste.
Today's victims were a minor noble family of Magiste. They'd lived peacefully for centuries on their land, alongside their neighbors. What had changed to turn the evil eye of the Inquisition toward them? The question lingered and he finally accepted the reins of his horse from the stable-boy. Thunder rumbled overhead. Henri mounted. Closing his eyes, he clenched his fist, the ring near scalding.
Beneath him, the horse pranced as the compression of the traveling spell took effect, sending Henri and the animal through distance and time. He hoped to use Mordred with the transport home. If all went well, there would be more people than Henri was capable of magically moving by himself. When the pressure of the spell eased, Henri found himself in the middle of a lush forest, damp with a recent rain. To his right, shouts sounded, and he wheeled the horse around. Beyond the tree line, fire illuminated the night. Henri's heart sank to see flames erupting from the windows of a large manor house. Even from this distance, he could hear the screams of those trapped inside. Merde! Too late!
Smoke quickly wafted toward the forests, the acrid stench burning his eyes. A flurry of movement in the brush nearby drew his attention. He dismounted and fastened the horse's reins to a tree. He held his hands above the animal's back.
His ring warmed and the horse vanished from view, concealed by the spell. No Mortals would find his mount. Henri stood motionless for a few moments, while the shouts of the Inquisitors echoed around him. He ignored them, concentrating on the immediate area.
The tingling awareness of someone else possessing magic grew stronger to his right. He turned, his ring warming further and leading him closer to the source of power. Another rustle of foliage, this time accompanied by a choked sob. The flash of movement almost eluded him, but he headed in the same direction. His ring grew hotter and hotter, nearly scorching his skin. There, up ahead. A woman ran, her long fiery hair catching on low-lying branches. He picked up his own pace, desperate to reach her before the Inquisitors. He just about came even with her when she stumbled and fell, more sobs and gasping breaths reaching his ears, even over the din of chaos at the edge of the forest.
Aware of two of the Inquisitors closing in, Henri hurried to the fallen woman as she struggled to rise. He held out a hand.
"Come with me!"
She froze, a shriek escaping before she scrambled away from him. Damn, she thought he was one of them.
"Come with me now! It's your only chance if you want to live!"
He used the Commandevois spell to enhance his words, the order in his voice clear and compelling. At the same time, he reached for her once more. He had to get her out of here now, no time to return to his horse. Finally, her small hand took his and he hauled her to her feet, pulling her close. He murmured the Portalus spell again, sucking in a breath as the squeezing sensation overtook him for the second time in less than five minutes. When it stopped, they stood in the courtyard of his manor house. He would send a groom to find Mordred later. The steed remained safe under the concealment spell.
He stepped away from the woman in his arms, studying her in the bright moonlight. Soot streaked her cheeks, her large green eyes peering up at him from under a thick blanket of lashes. The wild, deep auburn hair floating around her face gave her an ethereal look, almost like a siren sent down from above by the ancient gods. She wrapped slender arms about herself, her gaze locked with his.
"My family…" she finally whispered.
"I'm sorry. I was too late."
She cocked her head to the side, almost as if she didn't understand him. He should probably explain, but wanted to get her inside before his parents heard their voices and came to investigate. He reached for the woman, but she backed away.
"Who are you?" she asked.