Monthly Archives: February 2018

VBT – Massage & Murder


“Don’t make me arrest you, Autumn.” His voice low and almost growling.

I scoff. “For what?”

“The list is growing, but right now you’re the last person to see the victim alive. You’re our primary suspect. You have means, motive and opportunity.”

He’s really making a case against me. The room is spinning or am I spinning? I can’t tell. This can’t be happening. I feel sick. Sure, I hate April…hated her. Envisioned killing her multiple times, but I would never do it. I’m not a killer. I’m a healer. Surely, Travis knows that. Then again maybe he doesn’t.

Everyone in town has a motive to kill April, but who actually did? It’s the million-dollar question, one I have to prove before Travis decides to pin the murder on me.

About the Book

Title: Massage & Murder

Author: Jenn Cowan

Genre: Cozy Mystery

I’m a Licensed Massage Therapist.

A professional.

A healer.

Not a killer.


When a client ends up dead on my massage table, I become the number one suspect.

I have Means.



But I didn’t kill her.

The clock is ticking, someone is stalking me, I have to find out who before I end up in jail or worse…dead.

Author Bio

Jenn Cowan is the author of several genres and pen names under Jenna Richert and J.R. Cowan. When she’s not writing you can find her in her massage office working on clients, cooking up a storm in her kitchen, singing and dancing with her hubby at a concert, cheering on the sidelines for her kiddos or cozied up by the fire reading a novel. She loves a good mystery and a happily ever after.



Twitter: @JRCowan1
Instagram: jrcowan1 (Jenn Cowan)


VBT – The Marquis and I


The Marquis and I

by Ella Quinn


GENRE: Historical Romance



Trouble is no match for a lady of the extended Worthington family—except when it comes in the form of a most irresistible gentleman . . .

Lady Charlotte Carpenter’s brother-in-law has put an infamous brothel owner out of business—yet it is Charlotte who suffers the consequences. Abducted by thugs and held at an inn, she is plotting her escape when she’s suddenly rescued by a dashing gentleman. Only afterward does she realize she’s seen him before—with two courtesans! Unwilling to tarry with such a man, Charlotte makes her second escape. But it is too late to repair her reputation . . .

A known gossip has spied Charlotte’s movements, and his report is speeding through the rumor mill. Soon, everyone knows that Charlotte spent the night with Constantine, Marquis of Kenilworth. And everyone agrees the only answer is marriage—including Constantine himself, his overjoyed mother—and his mistress! But Charlotte’s abductors aren’t finished with her yet. Now Constantine will do anything to protect the spirited woman he loves and win her heart . . .



Book Excerpt

“I have come to see Lady Charlotte.”

“Follow me, my lord. The family is in the garden for the wedding.”


To the best of his knowledge, Charlotte was the only young lady of marriageable age not already wed. Had Harrington returned with a special license? He could go to the devil it he had. He could not have her. Charlotte was Con’s, and it was about time she knew it. “I can find my way.”

“As you wish, my lord. Go straight down the corridor.”

“Thank you.”

He must put an end to this wedding before it was too late. Rushing down the corridor, he looked to his right, and spied open French windows in a parlor. A large group of people were gathered just beyond the terrace.

Con prayed he was in time to stop her. Halt the wedding. Hell, what sort of man asks permission of his father to marry someone like Charlotte? Not one she needs.

The Fates had given her to him and no one was going to take her away. Even if the time to object had passed, he would make himself known. She was his.

Dashing through the room, he arrived in the garden in time to hear Worthington say, “If there is anyone who objects to this wedding, speak now or forever hold your peace.”

Worthington? Con almost skidded to a stop.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links


Bestselling author Ella Quinn’s studies and other jobs have always been on the serious side. Reading historical romances, especially Regencies, were her escape. Eventually her love of historical novels led her to start writing them.

After living in the South Pacific, Central America, North Africa, England and Europe, she and her husband decided to make their dreams come true and are now living on a sailboat cruising the Caribbean and North America. Europe is next!

She loves having readers connect with her.




Blog http://ellaquinnauthor.wordpresscom

The Marquis and I Buy Links


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Ella will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Release Blitz – Night of the Victorian Dead

About the Book

A Pride & Prejudice & Zombies for lit lovers!

Mr. Edward Dorchester invites several families of his acquaintance to a ball at his country estate, the night the Harvest moon rises fell and tainted. While those within are consumed by their hopes and schemes, tenants are going missing and arriving guests savagely attacked.

A gothic horror tale of classic zombies meets manners, with an ensemble, upstairs-downstairs cast of Vic. Lit inspired characters.

The knowing modern reader can follow unsuspecting characters down the road to the inevitable.

Author Bio

Amber Michele Cook writes stories of deep, meaningful fun. A devotee of Georgian to Edwardian period pieces, she adores Speculative Lit: Victorian literature-inspired works with a supernatural or paranormal element.

Partly raised in Germany, she went to an international school for high-school, majored in linguistics, loves literature and period pieces. She’s also a photography/graphic arts artist of color and wonder living in the great Northwest.

In addition to leading improv writing tables, she’s the Director of National Novel Editing Month and a Facilitator for the People’s Ink writing community.




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Cover Reveal – My Freshman Year of Fabulous

Series: School Dayz

Genre: YA

Format: eBook

When Avery Thornton needs to escape a first day of school disaster, she ducks into an equipment room to hide and meets someone else who’s also having a really bad day. Eli Fields just got demoted to third string on the football team, a sport he doesn’t even really want to play. On the hunt for a dance partner before her competition season begins, Avery discovers Eli’s secret, non-football life outside of school. She thinks he could be the dance partner she’s dreamed about. But Eli wants no part of dancing with Avery. When someone else steps in as Avery’s partner for competitions, she and Eli begin practicing steps “just for fun.”

But, is that really all that Eli wants? And although Avery has found a perfect partner, she’s learning that perfection doesn’t necessarily equal happiness.

Author Bio

Jennifer DiGiovanni is a freelance writer and YA author of the School Dayz series. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, working on home design projects, or trying to meet the daily goals on her Fitbit. She also likes to try new sports and activities, from archery to ballroom dancing, with varying degrees of success.

Twitter: @JenniferDiGiov2




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Book Spotlight – Fighter Pilot’s Daughter

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FIGHTER’S PILOT DAUGHTER by Mary Lawyor, Memoir, 336 pp., $18.95
(Kindle edition) $20.50 (paperback)


Title: Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War

Author: Mary Lawlor

Publisher: Rowman and Littlefield

Pages: 336

Genre: Memoir

Format: Hardcover/Kindle

tells the story of the author as a young woman coming of age in an Irish
Catholic, military family during the Cold War. Her father, an aviator
in the Marines and later the Army, was transferred more than a dozen
times to posts from Miami to California and Germany as the government’s
Cold War policies demanded. For the pilot’s wife and daughters, each
move meant a complete upheaval of ordinary life. The car was sold, bank
accounts closed, and of course one school after another was left behind.
Friends and later boyfriends lined up in memory as a series of
temporary attachments. The book describes the dramas of this traveling
household during the middle years of the Cold War. In the process,
FIGHTER PILOT’S DAUGHTER shows how the larger turmoil of American
foreign policy and the effects of Cold War politics permeated the
domestic universe. The climactic moment of the story takes place in the
spring of 1968, when the author’s father was stationed in Vietnam and
she was attending college in Paris. Having left the family’s quarters in
Heidelberg, Germany the previous fall, she was still an ingénue; but
her strict upbringing had not gone deep enough to keep her anchored to
her parents’ world. When the May riots broke out in the Latin quarter,
she attached myself to the student leftists and American draft resisters
who were throwing cobblestones at the French police. Getting word of
her activities via a Red Cross telegram delivered on the airfield in Da
Nang, Vietnam, her father came to Paris to find her. The book narrates
their dramatically contentious meeting and return to the American
military community of Heidelberg. The book concludes many years later,
as the Cold War came to a close. After decades of tension that made
communication all but impossible, the author and her father reunited. As
the chill subsided in the world at large, so it did in the relationship
between the pilot and his daughter. When he died a few years later, the
hard edge between them, like the Cold War stand-off, had become a
distant memory.

For More Information

  • Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.


The pilot’s house where I grew up was mostly a
women’s world.  There were five of us.  We had the place to ourselves
most of the time.  My mother made the big decisions–where we went to
school, which bank to keep our money in.  She had to decide these things
often because we moved every couple of years.  The house is thus a figure
of speech, a way of thinking about a long series of small, cement dwellings we
occupied as one fictional home.

It was my father, however,
who turned the wheel, his job that rotated us to so many different
places.  He was an aviator, first in the Marines, later in the Army.
When he came home from his extended absences–missions, they were called–the rooms
shrank around him.  There wasn’t enough air.  We didn’t breathe as
freely as we did when he was gone, not because he was mean or demanding but
because we worshipped him.  Like satellites my sisters and I orbited him
at a distance, waiting for the chance to come closer, to show him things we’d
made, accept gifts, hear his stories.  My mother wasn’t at the center of
things anymore.  She hovered, maneuvered, arranged, corrected.  She
was first lady, the dame in waiting.  He was the center point of our circle,
a flier, a winged sentry who spent most of his time far up over our
heads.  When he was home, the house was definitely his.

These were the early years
of the Cold War.  It was a time of vivid fears, pictured nowadays in
photos of kids hunkered under their school desks.  My sisters and I did
that.  The phrase ‘air raid drill’ rang hard–the double-a sound a cold,
metallic twang, ending with ill.  It meant rehearsal for a time when you
might get burnt by the air you breathed.  
Every day we heard
practice rounds of artillery fire and ordinance on the near horizon.  We
knew what all this training was for.  It was to keep the world from
ending.  Our father was one of many Dads who sweat at soldierly labor,
part of an arsenal kept at the ready to scare off nuclear annihilation of life
on earth.  When we lived on post, my sisters and I saw uniformed men
marching in straight lines everywhere.  This was readiness, the soldiers
rehearsing against Armageddon.  The rectangular buildings where the
commissary, the PX, the bowling alley and beauty shop were housed had fall out
shelters in the basements, marked with black and yellow wheels, the civil
defense insignia.  Our Dad would often leave home for several days on
maneuvers, readiness exercises in which he and other men played war games
designed to match the visions of big generals and political men.  Visions
of how a Russian air and ground attack would happen.  They had to be ready
for it.
A clipped, nervous rhythm
kept time on military bases.  It was as if you needed to move efficiently
to keep up with things, to be ready yourself, even if you were just a
kid.  We were chased by the feeling that life as we knew it could change
in an hour.
Mary Lawlor grew up in an Army family during the Cold War. Her father
was a decorated fighter pilot who fought in the Pacific during World
War II, flew missions in Korea, and did two combat tours in Vietnam. His
family followed him from base to base and country to country during his
years of service. Every two or three years, Mary, her three sisters,
and her mother packed up their household and moved. By the time she
graduated from high school, she had attended fourteen different schools.
These displacements, plus her father?s frequent absences and brief,
dramatic returns, were part of the fabric of her childhood, as were the
rituals of base life and the adventures of life abroad.
As Mary came of age, tensions between the patriotic, Catholic culture
of her upbringing and the values of the sixties counterculture set
family life on fire. While attending the American College in Paris, she
became involved in the famous student uprisings of May 1968. Facing her
father, then posted in Vietnam, across a deep political divide, she
fought as he had taught her to for a way of life completely different
from his and her mother’s.
Years of turbulence followed. After working in Germany, Spain and
Japan, Mary went on to graduate school at NYU, earned a Ph.D. and became
a professor of literature and American Studies at Muhlenberg College.
She has published three books, Recalling the Wild (Rutgers UP, 2000),
Public Native America (Rutgers UP, 2006), and most recently Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War (Rowman and Littlefield, September 2013).
She and her husband spend part of each year on a small farm in the mountains of southern Spain.

For More Information



VBT – The Long Lost

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About the Author

 Tom Nixon

Tom Nixon is an author and entrepreneur with writing credits to his name that span artistic genres. He has written multiple novels, two screenplays, several short stories, a children’s story, and has five music albums in his catalogue, for which he wrote both music and lyrics. He discovered his passion for writing and reading at an early age, going on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Michigan. He resides in Michigan with his wife and children, along with a couple of the canine variety.

His latest book is the suspense novel, The Long Lost.



About the Book:

 The Long Lost

Author: Tom Nixon
Publisher: CreateSpace
Pages: 418
Genre: Suspense


The sudden and strange disappearance of Joel Thomas brings together his ex-wife and best friend in a search for answers. As Mary and Jason seek out the truth, their quest consistently turns up more questions than clues. In another time, the story of a long-time group of college friends plays out across 30 years of history, revealing the highs and lows of a group that vowed to maintain their friendship until death. Is the answer to Joel’s mysterious departure found in a simple note sent to Mary, or is it locked somewhere back in time? Told in alternating voices and timelines, Nixon’s The Long Lost tells a story of both intrigue and suspense — along with sentimentality and introspection — as he examines the painful discoveries realized when childhood friends grow up…and grow apart.


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Book Excerpt:

EVERYBODY knows someone like Joel Thomas.

I once heard someone describe him as the man who was friendly with everyone…but friends with no one. Which isn’t exactly true. It’s not that he was particularly at odds with any one person, or even that he was standoffish. It’s just that, when it came to having meaningful, deep friendships or relationships, there was nobody you could point to and say, “Those two are very close.”

But yet, there he was. Joel was at every party…every night out…every group outing. He seemed to like sports, the arts, movies, TV, pop culture. He knew a little bit about everything, so he always seemed to fit in, no matter what the occasion. But you were hard-pressed to say why, if asked.

Joel was married for a little more than 16 years to Mary, a woman he met in college during his study abroad program. They never had kids, but they did acquire the obligatory dog and 2,500-square-foot ranch in the suburbs. It was a normal life, if unspectacular. But that was Joel. Normal, sure. But unspectacular. A man that was seemingly liked by all…but loved by nobody in particular.

It would be a shock, then, when Joel suddenly disappeared.

I got the call around 7:30 that night. Mary seemed put off, but not frantic. I can’t tell you why I remember her demeanor in that way, only that it seemed significant at the time. Was I expecting the reaction an actress might have on a bad primetime cop show? I don’t know. Then again, Mary was Joel’s mirror image in some ways, so a subdued (though, certainly distraught) state of mind wasn’t entirely out of character. Still, it just seemed…different. Different than what I’d suspect, but I wasn’t sure if it was meaningfully different, or just different.

And I can’t claim to have been in the proper state of mind to be a judge of such things. Not that night. It’s a strange thing when you get “the call.” Or, in the movies, it’s the knock on the door. If you’ve never been so unfortunate, you’ll know when it happens. I’ll never forget watching my dad get the call when grandpa died. I’d never seen my old man cry before. It was jarring. It was a shock, to be sure…but grandpa was 84, and with a history of heart problems.

There’s a part of you that expects it…one that has been waiting for such a call. There’s another part of you in paralyzing shock. And there’s this weird part of you that starts immediately and reflexively having the sort of reaction others might expect you to have. Like you’re the one on the TV show. Call it, macabre exhilaration? This is happening. It’s horrible. But it’s excitement, in a sick sort of way. All of those parts of you begin an instant quarrel inside of you for supremacy, and it’s not until several hours, days or weeks later that reality sets in, and you hate yourself for feeling anything other than grief.

“Jason? Hi, it’s Mary. Sorry for calling so late.” A long, pregnant pause. “It’s Joel.”

Shit. Those words rang out like a shotgun in the open prairie air. It’s Joel. Whatever came next, I knew it wasn’t good. I immediately hunched down into a chair at the kitchen table. I’m not sure if I said anything, let out a self-defeated groan, or just waited in stunned silence for Mary to continue.

“It’s Joel. He’s not answering.”

“Not answering what?” I asked, now grasping to a lifeline of hope. Maybe I got ahead of myself with needless worry.

“Anything,” Mary responded, immediately sucking the wind out of my hopeful sails. “The phone, texts, the door. Normally I wouldn’t worry. We sometimes go weeks — maybe months — without talking. In fact, we usually do.”

“So what’s the worry?”

Mary paused. I could tell there was a “next part” that she didn’t want to get to. But she gave in. “It’s not normal.”

“What’s not?” I pressed.

“To get something in the mail.”

“What something? Something in the mail? From who? What was it?”

Another long pause.

“From Joel.”

“Mary, what are you saying? What the hell happened? Spit it out.”

Mary started slowly and softly, building both pace and volume as she continued. “I’ve been trying to get ahold of Joel for a few days. We got a strange tax thing in the mail, and it didn’t seem to make any sense, so I scanned it over to Joel last week. Followed up with a phone call. No answer. Then the texts. Nothing.”

“Yeah…” I needed her to get to the point.

“So I stopped by a couple days ago. No answer at his place. His car was there, though. I kinda poked around a bit, peeked in some windows…nothing. So I called the office. They said he’s on vacation. So I started to calm down…didn’t think much of it.”

“There ya go,” I reassured her. “He’s probably just out of the country or something. No cell service, ignoring emails and stuff.”

“That’s what I thought,” she continued. “Then I got this in the mail.”


“A note. In a box. Like a cardboard shipping box. It looked more like a parcel at first, with no return address. But it was light…like a letter, you know? I opened the box, and there was just this note in there.”


“Jason. It was Joel’s handwriting.”

“So? What did it say?”

And now, the longest, most silent, pause.

“Mary, what did the letter say? Read it to me.”

“Read it to you?”

“Yes! Read it to me!”

“No need to read it…I have it memorized…it was only two words.”

“Mary, what the hell did the letter say?”

A shorter pause. A softer voice. A slower pace. Finally, Mary got to the point.

“Tell Jason.”




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About the Author


Kathleen Shaputis lives in the glorious Pacific Northwest with her husband, Bob, a clowder of cats and three pompously protective Pomeranians with little social aptitude: Brugh, Bouncer and Miss Jazzy. If not writing, she’s busy reading and watching romantic comedies, her ultimate paradise.

Her latest book is Their Witch Wears Plaid.



About the Book:


Author: Kathleen Shaputis
Publisher: Clutter Fairy Publishing
Pages: 316
Genre: Magical Realism / Paranormal Romance / Romantic Comedy


A giant-sized Druid, annoying trances and frightening nightmares mess up Nell’s festive end of summer plans. Living in Scotland, a palm reader for Baillie Castle, Nell loses her heart to a professional jouster. But is her shining knight in cahoots with the sinister Druid?

Will the recipe of a magic coin, diva queens and witches be enough to save Nell from death? Or will evil triumph over love?


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A page-turning delight with twists and turns for the fabulous Lady Nell. It’s 2018, what woman wouldn’t want to be chased by a knight in shining armor?J. Verstraeten

Book Excerpt:

While sitting behind her covered card table, Lady Nell dabbed at a trickle of sweat on the back of her bare neck with a long, white handkerchief. The summer heat, though mild in temperature for many, had dampened her coiffed hair and Elizabethan costume. Well-worn tarot cards splayed across the sapphire paisley tablecloth in a colorful, symmetric array. “May I answer any other questions for thee this sweltering afternoon, my lady?”

The flustered middle-aged woman across from her, wearing a thrown-together costume of a black wench’s vest and ankle-length skirt, shook her head. “Goodness, no. You’ve been quite helpful as one who seeks the future, thank you, Lady Nell.” And she took a last look at the cards before disappearing from the palm reader’s tent.

Scooping the displayed cards into a pile, Nell smiled at how the first day of the Scottish Faire at Baillie Castle was proving a great success. Excited crowds from surrounding areas were showing up in droves. Nell practically pinched her damp double chin in the delight of having moved to Scotland and using her psychic powers for employment within the castle. She sent a spiritual blessing to her friends, Baillie and Rogue, the proprietors of the castle, for encouraging her to establish a new life across the Atlantic. Her last home address had been Olympia, Washington, though her talents had let her travel throughout the United States.

Nell’s flamboyant pavilion was placed under a shade tree, offering some relief of the mid-summer heat, but barely a breeze had stirred the sauna-like air for the last hour. The steady stream of customers had kept her emotions animated despite the stifling heat. Nell respected and enjoyed her talent for reaching into another’s aura, their soul, and sharing information. She stretched her arms over her head and twisted her neck to one side hearing the familiar crick.

Suddenly a dank, frigid cold penetrated her chest, the icy bolt more like a speeding car crashing unheeded into a block wall. She couldn’t breathe. Yet she was not a complete stranger to the deathly artic slam, as the wintery pain felt similar to her first meeting with the ghost of Baillie Castle, Lord Kai, years ago in Olympia, Washington, where the poltergeist had been desperate to penetrate the real world.

Gripping the edges of the table, Nell tried centering herself, closing her eyes, grounding her being to the Earth’s core by visualizing a thick steel chain locking her in place. A moment later, it was gone. Gulping in heated air, Nell kept her eyes closed, alarmed at the unexpected glacial intensity. What in the not-of-this-world had caused such an explosion of cold?

Chastising herself for possibly overdoing the herbal recipe she’d created for her morning smoothie, Nell shook her head. She stared around her, expanding her mystic aura, rippling it out beyond the tent, searching for unearthly energy, anything possibly related to the polar blast. Knowing the hours she’d be working today, the potion recipe she concocted was meant as an enhancement to her psychic abilities, a mere boost. She blinked her eyes, the tent vacant and nothing out of the ordinary showed itself. By and large things were as they should be inside and outside the normal excitement of festive crowds and the music of Celtic pipes music filling her ears.

Knowing her foretelling talents would be in constant demand for palm readings and tarot cards once the Faire opened this morning, Nell asked petite T-Cup, a spicy diva queen from Seattle and dear friend of the castle owners, to act as an assistant for her. T not only acted as the money keeper but provided part-time entertainment for the crowds passing by. She kept Nell’s sanity and the flow of customers continuous in and out of the tent. T-Cup’s delightful voice squealed and twittered outside the tent’s dangling strands of pastel beads as Nell tried discerning any mystic turbulence from the cold blast. T’s saucy remarks on various costumes and people throughout the day hadn’t changed in tone or manner as Nell cleared her table with shaking hands.

T’s own outrageously bawdy dress of lace and silk caught many the eye of people walking by and made for a great marketing asset. A singer and entertainer by trade usually in company with her best friend and fellow diva, Rafael, T’s persona of hysterical delight brightened any room or situation, a petite dynamo of glitter and glamour. T stuck her beribboned head of curls inside and said, “This will be your last reading for today, Lady Nell. Looks like the universe saved the best for last. Mr. Gigantic, Dark and Mysterious will be right in.”

The cash box clinked shut before a hooded giant blocked the beaded doorway. Standing more than six and a half feet tall, the Druid-dressed customer moved with no haste. She looked at the floor-length, burlap garment wrapped well to his body, tied with a leather strap, and a deep hood concealing his face in shadows. Flowing sleeves draped at his sides as he sat in front of her with fluid motion. The realistic garment fascinated her, the material seemed threadbare and ancient. He’d paid a pretty penny for the outfit at an estate sale or movie studio auction, she wanted to bet. Nell couldn’t find a way of dipping her head toward the floor without looking odd to see what he wore on his feet, something authentic or Nike sneakers.

“What would you like to hear this day, good sir? What your future holds in store or may I answer a specific question ye need answering? I can read your palm or maybe you’d like to see what the cards have to say for you. My talent but waits your answer.”

He sat silent. No movement, nothing.

Nell blinked before picking up her tarot cards and started shuffling. This wasn’t the first time someone shy or conservative wasn’t sure what they wanted, but instead of her calm natural patience, she felt a bit defensive, a molten nervousness moving through her. The choking silence between them bothered her. First a blast of frigid, intense air sent chaos into her chest and now an enormous mannequin sucked the very oxygen she needed. The man raised his hand palm out, the fingers lengthy, and she stopped mid-motion. The heat inside the tent dropped in temperature until it crackled like thin ice on a raging river. Rivulets of perspiration trickled down her ample body, despite the sudden disappearance of the infuriating heat.

His silence weighed solid like a glacial wall and her intuition created an instant need to surround herself in a protective spell. Her lips moved silently as she stared at the deep hood that cloaked his face from view. The darkness nagged her in a disquieting, almost dangerous way. Who is this Mr. Chill? What is going on?

“I am quite well acquainted with who you are, Lady Nell.” His smooth, deep voice poured out like the syrup of a public radio station announcer. “If I may explain, I have been approached by your parents…”

“You’re quite mad, sir,” Nell snapped, her face flushed with irritation despite the cold. How dare this cloaked idiot have the audacity to spout ancestral nonsense? “My parents are gone and have been for many years. I don’t understand your trickery this day but you have paid for my services, sir, not the opportunity to make mockery of me or my profession.”

Moments ticked by in silence and the temperature inside the tent dropped further. His game with the air conditioning will not deter me. Goosebumps rippled up her bare arms. She forced herself not to give in to shivering. Nell had hoped her anger would fight the frost, but its invasion seeped through. She slowly lifted her chin in defiance. Her work and talent was not a game, and she didn’t appreciate his rude announcement saying he’d been in contact with her deceased parents, parents she’d hardly known herself growing up.

“I understand more about you than you could possibly know. You are young and naïve still in your powers. You will believe in me soon enough, stubborn one, I have no doubt of this. Your parents’ spirits and elders before them have given me a quest to find you and I am here.” His eyes glistened, practically glowing. Specks of amber light shone deep inside the murkiness of the hood. “They told me of your talents to see the past and feel the energy yet to be in images—an inherited ability. Your powers are much similar to mine in some basic ways. But over recent years, you’ve strayed on a different course and the elders have asked me to warn you to take heed. Their request of me is to shield you from your own foolishness.”

Nell felt the warmth of her face drain into the empty chill. “They know of my work on the dark side?” she whispered. What does he mean about keeping me safe? From what? Who is this person?

Over the recent years she had discovered magical talents and energy flowing through her soul, untapped reservoirs of abilities she didn’t know existed beyond seeing the past and future. An understanding of crystals and herbs filled her mind at odd times, pushing details and recipes from an unknown source into her reality. She’d kept them close to her in private, rarely using the dark magic in front of people, except for last year here at the Baillie Castle when she felt compelled to assist the Baillie family in a dire emergency with unmitigated success. The process had drained her sorely for days but she still felt it was one of her finest accomplishments.

“Your parents know you’ve taken your innate skills beyond the familiar white magic and they worry for your safety.” He placed his pale, wrinkled hands on top of the table.

Nell found her mouth still open. She shifted in her wooden folding chair, the stuffed cushion beneath her lumpy, stiff, uncomfortable. She took in a deep breath and exhaled to a long count, while gathering her strength and thoughts. “Then you have me at a disadvantage, sir, as I do not know who you are. And could you turn the temperature in here up a tad? Seriously, I am not some slab of beef.” She could see the white vapor from her words swirling in front of her and wondered if icicles would form along the edges of the tent. A scene from an old I Love Lucy episode flashed in her mind, when Lucy was locked in a freezer vault and her face covered in frost.

He swiped away her words like irritating flies with his elongated hands. “Silence, woman. I will tell your fortune and you must listen well. Obedience is imperative.”

Squinting her eyes at the hooded Druid, she snorted. “I will be obedient to no one. You have no power here, you robed cretin, slithering in here with tricks of threatening me with lies of my parents, chilling the air, and fallacies of wanting to tell my fortune?” Like a kitten with an arched back, thick fur standing on end, Nell refused to cow down to this stranger. Not a muscle twitched as she waited for his next move.

“Belay your wail of pitiful skepticism. Listen to my words and listen well. A young man you’ve met before will come to you with information you most desire. Believe him, as the bond between you is powerful. You must then travel across the water to your former homeland, back to the beginning of this Scottish journey at the bookstore and obtain your spiritual guide. This will help you understand the foretold answers waiting ahead. Ignore these words and direness awaits you.”

He stood nearly caressing the ceiling with his hood. “Good morrow to you, Lady Nell.” Ducking his body in half, he left the tent before she could shove her chair back or voice any questions. And she had a million of them on the tip of her tongue. What man was he talking about who she had met before? Go back to the beginning? Did he mean Baillie’s Pen and Pages bookstore in Olympia, Washington? Well, that would be across “water” certainly.

Placing her hands on top of the card table, she pushed herself up with trembling legs. The slam of claustrophobic heat filled the tent nearly knocking her backward. Sounds began filtering into her conscience: the strum of a mandolin, conversations and laughter, a sweet Celtic tune on a pipe, as if her hearing was restored from a deep, lengthy silence.

T-Cup popped herself inside, swishing the silk of her Elizabethan dress. “Hey, I didn’t see long-limbed, dark and spooky leave. Do you have a back door in this tent I don’t know about?” She twirled in a circle creating a rustling murmur from her petticoats. “C’mon, let’s go see what deliciousness Putney the cook has for us in the kitchen. It’s got to be tea time, right? I’m starving for something fresh and chilled.” T stopped in mid-motion. “Wha… Lady Nell, are you doing okay?” She touched Nell’s arm and squealed, “Dang, you’re like ice,” before bouncing through the beads yelling, “Gillian, Gillian, come Lord Gorgeous, our lady looks dazed and feels like a fresh blended margarita.” The last words slid out before she sucked in another breath. “Ándele, pronto, get your tight butt over here now, I said.” Her voice screeched an octave higher.

Through the parted strands of plastic beads, a polished, well-built blond dressed in a traditional blue and green Baillie kilt and sporting silk finery sauntered across the dry grass as if on a fashion cat walk. Gillian Nation was used to the attention and lingering looks from anyone nearby. Tanned, taut thigh muscles showed bare under the hem of the kilt as he walked. “How wither you call, my Seattle-based jester-ess?” He slid into the tent with noble smoothness but seeing Nell’s distress rushed to her side. “Have you overdone yourself, my lady?” He put his strong right arm around her waist and his eyebrows rose dramatically as he caught Nell’s gaze. “You’re like a pale Popsicle. T, make way, you fluffy fairy. Let’s get her outside.”

The faire had emptied of tourists and most of the performers. A few groundskeepers had begun clearing the trash, making little noise as they emptied smaller waste containers into a large rolling bin. Reality snapped her into a safety hold like a seat belt in a speeding Porsche. Patting her damp face with the already wet handkerchief, she imitated, clung desperately to Gillian’s calm, graceful moves as he sat next to her.

“Anything you want to talk about, Lady Nell that precipitated this dearth of possible frostbite?” His well-pampered face showed no emotions, unlike T-Cup’s pasty, frightened look nearby.

“Did, did you see my last customer, the giant-in-robes man come in or out of the tent?”

T-Cup raised her perfectly manicured hand. “Ooh, ooh, I did, I did. Well, I saw a Druid-looking guy go into the tent after he paid me. I don’t remember seeing him come out though, you know, but I wasn’t paying attention. Tapping my fingers along with the music, I guess. It’s the end of a long hot day. I’m tired. Sue me already.”

Gillian closed his dark, cappuccino-colored eyes at T’s dramatics, shaking his head, sliding his low ponytail over his shoulder. “I’m afraid my attentions were also elsewhere.”

“Did, did you see his face, T?” Nell’s voice cracked.

“That sounds rather ominous.” Gillian tilted his head catching T-Cup’s nervous glance and the tiny shrug of her bare shoulders.

“No, I don’t think so.” She waved her arms wildly over her head. “He had this enormous hood up covering everything, everything. I wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a line up, if that’s what you mean. He paid for his session, Lady Nell, and went inside. Easy peasy. Did he steal something from you other than the heat inside your body? Pretty fancy trick, I might add.” She inhaled sharply. “Did he touch you inappropriately? Is that why you’re upset?” T puffed up like a frazzled hen, flapping invisible feathers everywhere. “Should I sound an alarm and have someone search the castle grounds for the criminal?”

“No, no, he didn’t take or touch anything except my sanity.” The last word came out in a whisper as she rubbed her forehead.

“T, bounce yourself somewhere and get the good lady a cold drink. She’s probably dehydrated.” Gillian kept a still face as the flouncing skirt disappeared. “Now that the dear elf is gone, what happened inside the tent, Nell?”

She inhaled a deep, shaky, breath through her nose and slowly blew out the air. “This oversized giant came in dressed head to toe in brown sack cloth, Druid looking, well-worn material. My first thought was he had on either a pricey costume or had somehow stepped through time. I swear, my very first thoughts.” Gillian rolled his eyes with a faint smile. “No, now hear me out. The hood draped over his head so deep his face was completely in shadow, just like T said. On purpose, I’m sure, yet I caught a single glimpse of his eyes while he sat there and they glowed, almost a maize color, spooky and bizarre.”

She bowed her head, fussing with her skirt. “Gillian, he said he came by a request of my parents and my elders to tell my future and when I challenged him, he lowered the thermostat to some teeth-chattering zero degrees in the tent.”

“Now this is getting interesting! What does a scam fortune teller tell a real fortune teller?” He tapped his fingertips together. “So we have an overdressed druid who paid for your services, but instead told you your fortune with some stage-effect trickery like dry ice. Did he at least report anything sizzling in your future? Some delightfully male encounters by any chance?”

A heated flush rushed from her neck to her cheeks. Why did Gillian never take anything seriously, twisting most conversations into sexual twitters? “No, well, yes, I am supposed to meet a young man I’ve met before who will answer my questions. What questions, for heaven’s sake? What kind of questions could he possibly mean? And I’m supposed to go back to Pen and Pages like the beginning of a puzzle and find my spirit guide. What hokey nonsense is a spirit guide, whatever that may be, going to do for me?”

“What delightful man you will meet is the more important detail of the story, my dear.” Gillian sniffed as T skipped toward them, clutching a dripping bottle of cold water. “We’ll continue this discussion later, out of prying curious ears, you realize. Say nothing of this during our tea,” he focused on T, “or you’ll have the whole castle staff up in arms.” He stretched his arm out, wiggling his fingers at the colorful nymph. “You are a jewel and an enchanted servant.” T squeaked from Gillian’s words. “Exactly what our dear friend needs.”

“Putney asked me to report tea is ready and her old foot’s a tapping. C’mon, you two, you’re the only ones out here.”

“Goodness, Cook will have our heads if we keep the sweet ancient thing waiting.” Gillian turned his arm to Nell. “Allow me to escort you back to the castle.”

Nell clutching the now half-empty water bottle, gave a grateful smile to T-Cup. “Thank you. That was just what I needed.” She tucked the ominous meeting away for now and slipped her arm in Gillian’s. “Let’s go.”

Interview With…

Kathleen, tell us about you.  As the youngest of teenaged siblings, I was also an “oops” baby, a total surprise. With my head continually buried in a book, I didn’t notice or remember much of anyone else. Books were my life, the smell, the feel of the crinkle paper on the covers from the library and the sounds of flipping the pages, nourished me. My library card was the ticket away from reality. I dreamed of living in a forest, being a hermit and writing books for a living. I’ve succeeded in two of those goals, I live in a two-acre woods and have eight books under my belt.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why? My idol Katharine Hepburn. I can imagine sitting over tea for hours soaking up the independent strength and tenacity of this woman. A social therapy session of learning to maintain confidence and self-endurance as I grow older. The woman was and is a legend and I admire her dedication to life and her talents.

What’s the story behind your latest book? Being the third book in the Baillie Castle trilogy, it came with an entourage of familiar characters. But Their Witch Wears Plaid reads as a stand-alone, centered around Nell, a palm reader now working at the castle in Scotland. I wasn’t ready to let go of a world I’d created, there were more twists and foibles yet to uncover among the group. A group which includes a gorgeous 17th century ghost, drag queens and a variety of supporting players.

What is your writing process?  Though my books play out in my head as movies, complete with soundtracks, I must work in silence for the most part. I am at the keyword in the early morning hours before the rest of the house is awake putting in my hours. I will listen to the proposed movie scores for inspiration while doing other things, such as Their Witch Wears Plaid is a Celtic cornucopia of pipes and drums, but the bleeding on paper is done in quiet.

Tell us about your main character: Though inspired by a talented psychic in my hometown, I see a lot of myself in Nell. She enjoys her own company, is content and a master in doing what she loves. Unconnected and full of pluck, she savors relaxing at home at the end of the day in her bare feet. Having traveled for years following the Renaissance Fair circuit, settling in one place has its rewards when the location is the beauty of the Highlands among friends.

If your book was to be turned into a movie, who would play the lead role and why. I see Melissa McCarthy playing the role of Lady Nell. Ms. McCarthy’s feistiness and exuberance would be perfect for an independent woman suddenly faced with threats and a brewing storm of danger and demands. She’d bring a fun, kick-your-heels passion to the story when Nell meets a man, a knight and her heart opens a bit wider.

What are you working on next? I’m currently working on a commercial fiction tome of a single working mother in the 70’s, living in a disco-dancing, sexual revolution world who is nearly destroyed by sexual harassment and discrimination.

What advice do you have for other writers who want to get the word out about their book? Though most authors are more introspective, diving into social media is a must in marketing a new title. The noise of new books is loud and full of static, so you need a willingness to be creatively persistent, dogged in letting people know of your work.

What is your favorite book on your shelf right now? A first edition of The Boxcar Children my husband gave me as a gift. The joy the book brought me reading it over and over is never forgotten. Nothing tasted better for lunch, sitting outside in the front yard than plaid white bread and cuts of cheddar cheese similar to the meals in the book.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents? Hmm, I don’t juggle, my skills are rather mediocre in cooking and singing. I have drawn sketches and painted once in a while where I’m rather proud of a portrait of Alan Alda I did in oils during a college class. My main talent I’ve recognized in myself is patience, keeping my head during stress or extremes. Life has thrown a myriad of challenges, sometimes more than one at a time, over the years and I find myself being the calm in the middle of the chaos.

You are given the choice of one super power. What super power would you have and why? Invisibility! I’d use the ghostlike powers to comfort, soothe and protect the underdog, being able to infiltrate into any situation without suspect would be incredible. But as a writer, curiosity is a natural fault. Imagine what I could discover if no one knew I was in the room. The lies uncovered, the truth brought to light.

List 5 things on your bucket list:

I’ve accomplished much in my life and find I have few regrets and needs. I haven’t given much thought to a bucket list and if I died tomorrow, I feel content with my life and times. However, you’ve asked, so here goes.

  1. Visiting Scotland, land of my ancestors. (I made it to a castle in England for a week.)
  2. Write a national best seller.  (I’ve sold thousands of copies of my books, have done a country-wide book tour and dozens of radio interviews.)
  3. See a woman in the White House.
  4. Fit into my wedding dress.
  5. Luxuriate for a week at Disneyland, watching the twinkle and delight of the children.

Any final thoughts? What a delight it’s been discovering the answers in your interview. I write for entertainment, and hope I’ve succeeded in bringing a lightness and merriment to my readers. I think of my books as a cotton-candy treat among the pages. Thank you for letting me share with your audience.

VBT – The Apothecary’s Curse

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About the Author

Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is author of the Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel The Apothecary’s Curse  (Pyr Books), an imprint of Prometheus Books. She is also Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics Magazine (, an online magazine of pop culture, politics and more, for which she has also contributed nearly 1,000 essays, reviews, and interviews over the past decade. She published in-depth interviews with writers, actors and producers, including Jane Espenson, Katie Jacobs, Doris Egan, David Goodman, Jesse Spencer, Jennifer Morrison, Robert Carlyle, Lana Parilla, David Strathairn, Russel Friend, Garrett Lerner, Elie Atie, Wesley Snipes, and many, many more.

Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras: THE Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. is a critically-acclaimed and quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show.

Always a pop-culture and sci-fi geek, Barbara was raised on a steady diet of TV (and TV dinners), but she always found her way to the tragic antiheroes and misunderstood champions, whether on TV, in the movies or in literature. (In other words, Spock, not Kirk; Han Solo, not Luke Skywalker!) It was inevitable that she would have to someday create one of her own.

She is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA’s HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as “The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture,” “The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes,” “The Hidden History of Science Fiction,” and “Our Passion for Disaster (Movies).” Most recently, she gave a lecture at MENSA “The Conan Doyle Conundrum,” which explored the famous author’s life-long belief in fairies.

Barbara is available for signings and other author appearances as well as radio, print and television interviews. She also loves to speak at writers and other conferences! Feel free to contact her directly!

She is represented by Katharine Sands at the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency in New York City. You can reach Katharine at



About the Book:

 The Apothecary's Curse

Author: Barbara Barnett
Publisher: Pyr Books
Pages: 345
Genre: Historical Fiction/Gaslamp Fantasy/Urban Fantasy


Between magic and science, medicine and alchemy, history and mythology lies the Apothecary’s Curse…

A 2017 finalist for the prestigious Bram Stoker Award and winner of the Reader’s Choice award at this year’s Killer Nashville, The Apothecary’s Curse is a complex tale of love and survival set in a very different Victorian era where science and the supernatural co-exist. The Apothecary’s Curse transports readers between Victorian London and contemporary Chicago, where two men conceal their immortality….

In early Victorian London, the fates of gentleman physician Simon Bell and apothecary Gaelan Erceldoune become irrevocably bound when Simon gives his dying wife an elixir created by Gaelan from an ancient manuscript. Meant to cure her of cancer, instead, it kills her. Now suicidal, Simon swallows the remainder – to no apparent effect. Five years of suicide attempts later, Simon realizes he cannot die. When he hears rumors of a Bedlam inmate—star attraction of a grisly freak show with astounding regenerative powers like his own—Simon is shocked to discover it is Gaelan.

When Machiavellian pharmaceutical company Genomics unearths 19th Century diaries describing the torture of Bedlam inmates, Gaelan and Simon’s lives are upended, especially when the company’s scientists begin to see a link between Gaelan and one of the unnamed inmates. But Gaelan and Genomics geneticist Anne Shawe find themselves powerfully, almost irresistibly, drawn to each other, and her family connection to his remarkable manuscript leads to a stunning revelation.

Will it bring ruin or redemption?

Meticulous historical detail infuses the narrative with authenticity, providing a rich, complex canvas. And playing off Simon’s connection to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Apothecary’s Curse draws on both the Sherlock Holmes canon and Sir Arthur’s spirituality, as well as Celtic mythology, the art of alchemy, and the latest advances in genetics research.


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Book Excerpt:

My dear friend, hold fast the doctrine: when all impossibilities are eliminated, what remains, however improbable, must be the truth. Nothing could be so improbable that I must now and forever address you as Sir Arthur!”

Dr. Joseph Bell stood at the head of the dining table before twenty assembled guests, offering a robust toast to the guest of honor, his student and friend, the newly knighted Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in London for the first time since the honor had been bestowed on him. His confidante Jean Elizabeth Leckie was at his side.

“Do tell, Sir Arthur,” Wilder said with a giggle, “is it not true that our dear Joseph is in actuality your Sherlock Holmes?”

“Indeed not, Wilder!” The author twisted his mustache a bit more at each mention of Holmes’s name.

Miss Leckie patted Conan Doyle’s arm tenderly. “My dear, your mustache shall soon be as fine as a strand of silk. Besides, you well know he is! They even smoke the same sort of pipe!” The entire table joined her in laughter, despite Conan Doyle’s protestations.

“Ah,” interrupted Joseph, coming to Conan Doyle’s rescue. “Alas, I do not share Holmes’s preference for cocaine, nor does my mind crave the constant stimulation of work. I am quite at peace come Sunday afternoons with nothing to do but read the Times.”

“I wish my consulting detective could rest in peace.” Conan Doyle scowled at  Wilder, as she inquired when a new Holmes story would be published. “Did you not read ‘The Final Problem,’ my dear Wilder? Holmes died at Reichenbach Falls! However, since no one will allow him to be at his rest”—he sighed dramatically—“I can tonight announce a new adventure for the Strand come next year. ‘The Empty House,’ it is called!” Conan Doyle laughed, yet it was darkened with an unmistakable note of vexation.

“But how should you have him come back, Sir Arthur?” Cranford inquired. “If he is indeed, as you say, dead?”

“Do let us change the subject, Cranford.” Conan Doyle lifted his glass, taking a long draught of his wine, his eyes closed.

Miss Leckie smiled. “Oh! I’ve something! Have you heard of that apothecary? Lentine is his name. In Covent Garden. The line to enter his shop goes on and on. Can you imagine?”

“And why might that be, Leckie?” Conan Doyle asked. “Why, his amazing Reanimating ftercuric Tonic, of course! To  hear his patter, the medicine ‘shall restore life, even in the event of sudden death!’ Can you imagine? An apothecary, of all ludicrous things!”

Mr. Cranford laughed. “They should hang them all, the thieving rogues. I’ve never met one I can trust, always trying to hawk the latest patent medicines.”

Gaelan Erceldoune glared at ftiss Leckie, his dark, mirthless eyes hard as basalt. Beside him, his companion, Joseph’s cousin Dr. Simon Bell, laid a calming hand on his sleeve, an urgent plea to forbear; Gaelan snapped his arm away.

With a peevish edge to his voice, Gaelan steered the topic from the dubiousness of the apothecary trade. “What if your consulting detective cannot die?”

Conan Doyle stared him down. “Whatever do you mean—cannot die?”

Simon worried a loose thread in his linen napkin, his hands knotted with tension.

“Yes,” Gaelan continued, ignoring Simon’s disquiet. “Well, after Reichenbach, Holmes is, of course, presumed dead, his body not found. Unsurprising, given the terrain, but I assume your new story finds him quite well. ftight you not suggest, therefore, that Holmes’s invulner- ability extends beyond the intellectual—that he, in fact, cannot die by any natural means, improbable though it may seem? Already, you have toyed with the notion—your Sorsa in ‘The Ring of Thoth.’ You needn’t ever be explicit of course; allow your readers to speculate and draw their own conclusions. Holmes’s devotees will be so elated that none shall even question how it is possible.”

He mimed a vaudeville marquee with his hands high above his head, commanding the attention of the entire table. “The immortal Sherlock Holmes lives on in a new series.” At once self-conscious, Gaelan thrust his deformed left hand into his trouser pocket. “He’ll live forever, by Jove, your creation shall. Perhaps long after you, sir, have gone to your grave.”

Conan Doyle’s enthusiasm seemed tepid at best. But Gaelan pressed further. “As well, do you not imagine, sir, whilst giving new life to your most popular creation, you might also draw upon your truest passion—the supernatural world? Would that not, as it were, be killing two birds with one stone?”

“Ha!” Conan Doyle pointed an accusatory finger at Gaelan. “You, sir, sound too much like my publisher.”

Joseph broke in. “Please, ladies and gentlemen, let us go through to the drawing room. We might continue our conversations there in more comfort—”

But Conan Doyle was not to be stopped. “In a moment, Dr. Bell,” he said, holding up his hand to forestall the company. “I’ve a question for ftr. Erceldoune. Our dear Joseph made mention that you are an apothecary?”

Simon backed farther into his chair, cursing himself that he had disclosed even this small fact to his ever-curious cousin. He twisted his napkin, eyes pleading with Gaelan to be still.

Gaelan leaned toward Conan Doyle, a vague threat in the set of his jaw. “That I am, but why is that of concern to you or anyone here this evening? Do you mean to put me in my place as amongst the same company as Lentine, whom Miss Leckie has just now vilified—and with ample cause, I might add?”

“I mean no disrespect, nor to dishonor you amongst the fine physicians at this table. . . . I am curious, and that is all.” Conan Doyle paused a moment, as if to consider something. “I understand, sir, that many apothecaries in eras past were adept in alchemy, even magic.”

Gaelan settled back into his chair by a degree, coiled as a snake. “That, sir, may have been more the case, say centuries ago—a blurring of the lines. However, Sir Arthur, I possess no personal knowledge, for example, of any apothecary or druggist nowadays claiming to hold in his hands the secrets of life through alchemical abracadabra, if that is what you are suggesting. As for myself, I am quite well tutored in chem- istry and toxicology, and a disciple of Paracelsus. ftany of his dicta still ring true for me. Sola dosis facit venenum . . . the dose makes the poison. Paracelsus coined that in the sixteenth century—today it is an axiom of modern pharmacy. He was both an apothecary and an alchemist— and a physician. I would consider myself in esteemed company to asso- ciate myself with his understanding of alchemy. He had neither desire to make gold from lead, nor to find the elusive lapis philosophorum, but only to reveal the medicinal science it concealed by its art.”

Conan Doyle leaned forward confidentially, as if the rest of the company had vanished. “I have no desire, sir, to offend you. Forgive me if my questions seem more interrogation than polite dinner conversa- tion. I am first and foremost a journalist, but my ardent interest is per- sonal and much to do with my curiosity about the occult, as you may have guessed. I am quite sad to think about how much of the ancient arts were lost or have gone into hiding, along with their knowledge. Our ideas must be as broad as nature if they are to interpret nature, and if ideas—no matter how unusual they seem to our modern sensibili- ties—are destroyed and visionaries burnt either literally or metaphori- cally at the stake, we stand not a chance. And by the way, sir. I must aver that you are only one of a very few to have read ‘Thoth.’”

“But to your point regarding our natural fear of the . . . unusual

. . . On that, sir, at least,” Gaelan said, “we might agree.”

“Let us, then, if we may, Sir Arthur,” Joseph repeated, clearing his throat, “go through to the drawing room. ftiss Leckie, would you do us the honor of leading the way?”

“But of course,” she agreed, patting Conan Doyle’s hand affectionately. “Shall we, my dear?” She rose, and the rest of the company followed her from the room.

Gaelan and Conan Doyle found themselves in a secluded corner of the large drawing room as the other guests mingled. Simon stood nearby, gesturing with growing disquietude that they should leave, and quite soon. Gaelan turned his back on him as Conan Doyle leaned in again.

“By the by, sir, I do recognize your unusual name—Erceldoune—I have come across it on occasion in my research into the Otherworld—”

“The Otherworld.”

“Indeed. Where the fae folk rule. I’ve heard of an Erceldoune associated with legends of old, a certain Thomas Learmont de Erceldoune, a relationship with Tuatha de Danann, the—”

“Fairy folk, Sir Arthur?” Gaelan managed a laugh. “You, sir, hold me in exalted company, and I am sorry to disappoint you, however—” “It is said that this man Erceldoune had a book possessing great power, given him by Airmid herself, Celtic goddess of healing, a gift for

his act of kindness. Have you not heard the tale?”

“My family, old though it may be, Sir Arthur, boasts neither connection with the goddess Airmid nor any of her folk—the Tuatha de Danann, if indeed they ever existed. Besides, was not Airmid an Irish fairy? And I am, as are you, sir, of Scottish blood.”

Gaelan glanced around the room again, finding Simon’s anxious eyes beseeching him to end the exchange. “We’d best join the rest of the company. I see my dear friend Simon is quite unsettled, and we ought soon set off for—”

“It is a book of great healing,” Conan Doyle continued. “All the diseases of the world—and their cures—held in a singular volume, said to be written by her very hand.”

Gaelan paused, a petulant sigh escaping his lips. “I cannot say I can recall its mention, even amongst family lore.” His lips tightened into a tense line as he stood. “Now if you will excuse me, sir, I grow tired and fear it is time Dr. Simon Bell and I return to his flat.”


“Barbara Barnett weaves together fantasy and scientific elements for a story rich in magic, history, and myth…The Apothecary’s Curse is bittersweet and tragic, with science, magic, and romance…perfect for fans of Sherlock, history, and science.” (San Diego Book Review)

“A wonderfully written and researched story with deeply drawn characters and more than enough action to keep the reader turning the page. It is at once an excellent rendering of old London and the state of medical practice at that time while also being a tense thriller. A clever and unique story…highly recommended.” (D.P. Lyle in the New York Journal of Books)

“Barnett’s debut novel is a fantastic mix of history and fantasy! Her scintillating portrayal of Gaelan’s tortured soul and Simon’s haunting guilt plus the OMG ending set this book apart.” (Romantic Times)

“Fresh and utterly compelling…one of the finest and most intriguing speculative fiction novels of the year. Sure to please a wide audience of readers, because it’s a stunningly vibrant novel…a breath of fresh air.” (Rising Shadow)

“What price immortality? Barnett, explores the Promethean gift of immortality much like the gift of fire: it has the possibility of enormous benefit but also the capability of terrible misuse. The book moves fast, there is good character development, there are interesting and poignant personal relationships, and there is the lingering question, what is the true cost of deathlessness?” (Manhattan Book Review)

“Masterful blend of the finest storytelling elements…features excellent pacing, humor, passionate romance, tasteful adult situations, and descriptive writing.” (Edge of Infinity)

“Innovative and fresh. The author’s writing is fluent and precise, making this an effortless read, with just enough complexity and mystery happening to keep one engaged. A gripping start and a satisfying conclusion, this book felt complete and well executed.” (Books Vertigo and Tea)

“There is a romantic quality to this fantasy that is subtle but ever-present and works well for this story. a delectable mystery with a form of urban fantasy attached to it. A very satisfying mystery/fantasy that will make you believe the potion for eternal life exists.” (Looking for a Good Book)

“Combining a little of the transtemporal fatedness of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander with the sparring immortals from the Highlander film franchise, Barnett has created a unique urban fantasy that delivers pure magic intertwined with the quotidian demands of our daily lives—even if we are not all immortals.” (Official Barnes and Noble Newsletter)

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