If you liked Practical Magic with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, one-click Magick & Moonlight by Marie Lavender. Both Jessie and Ethan are hiding in small-town Oregon from something in the past. Can they resolve their mutual reservations about magick and learn to live – and love – again?
Small businesswoman Jessie was taught the ways of Wicca by her beloved late grandmother. While privately practicing the rituals of her faith in the forest, she is interrupted by a strange man. Is he worth the risk of her heart, her career and her life?
Ethan is a former cop laying low in a secluded cabin while seeking new direction in his life. Romance is the furthest thing from his mind when he chances upon a woman in the woods. Is their love real or is he simply spellbound?
“A spell?” His eyes flew to the black cauldron. He remembered the strange chanting he’d heard before. “You’re practicing witchcraft? That’s a new one.”
“Wicca, actually, is a religion based on the elements of nature. It’s a way to harmonize with our environment.”
“Is that right?”
Unnerved again by her naked body as well as her suggestion, he shrugged out of his barn coat and approached her. He draped it around her shoulders and buttoned it over her, aware that he might as well be caressing her, he was so close to her. He realized that his coat was touching her luscious, naked body, her most secret spots. The thought made him clench his fists. “Can I give you a ride back home? My truck is nearby.”
A long silence fell. Her gaze on his, it seemed to take her awhile to decide if she could trust him. “All right.” She dropped the knife she held.
Inwardly relieved, he sighed. “We need to put the
fire out,” he pointed out.
He took a stick and nudged the cauldron enough so that it spilled its contents onto the fire. A puff of smoke filled the air, causing them both to cough at the whiff of herbs and something else that smelled burnt. He began to doubt if she was really a witch after all. It was likely she was dabbling in the arts because she was bored. When she gasped, he turned, alarmed. “What is it?”
She pointed to the mess he’d created with the broth and the campfire. “I wouldn’t have done that if I were you.”
“Oh? Why not?”
She opened her mouth as if to explain, then suddenly closed it. “Never mind.”
“Fine, then. Let’s get out of here.” With a hand against the small of her back, he nudged her gently toward the path he’d taken to find her campfire. “So, how long have you been dabbling in—”
“In what? Magick?”
He wondered if her contrariness was borne out of the urge to make him more uncomfortable about the subject than he already was. “Yes.”
“All of my life.”
He raised his eyebrows. This woman was getting more interesting by the moment. And for all he knew, she might be crazy. “I see.”
“I doubt it.”
Not only was she sexy as hell, she was feisty. He fought down the response of his libido to that deadly combination. Perhaps she was a witch. She would be nearly impossible to forget now that he’d met her. “Maybe you could tell me your name?”
“You can call me Jessie.”
He grinned. At least now he could put a name with a face. Or a body. “Well, nice to meet you, Jessie. I’m Ethan Hamilton.”
“Good to meet you too. What are you doing out here though?”
“I have a cabin not too far from here. I was by the shore when I saw the light from the campfire.”
“Oh. Sorry for disturbing your peace.”
“Believe me. It was no bother.” At least not if he didn’t want to sleep tonight. His body was as hard as a rock, clenched in anticipation of what he could share with this woman if she let him. And that wasn’t likely, considering her reception of him. “We’ll reach the truck soon, I promise. You’ll be home in no time.”
“No problem.” He cleared his throat. “Is there a reason I found you naked out there? I mean, you lost your clothes somehow, right?”
The secret smile she gave him made his throat feel dry. “Do you want me to lie?”
“Of course not.”
“The ritual was best practiced in the nude. Skyclad rituals are very common, you know. The Goddess tells us, ‘You shall be free from all slavery, and as a sign that you be truly free, you shall be naked in your rights.’”
He lifted a brow. “Even if that were the case, you didn’t walk there naked, did you?”
Maybe she was crazy after all.
“I didn’t walk at all.”
He thought she might be saying that she was transported by magic. Yep, she was batty as hell. He was so not touching that one. He cleared his throat again.
A sharp cry startled him and instinctively, he reached forward and grabbed her when she started to fall. Unfortunately, she ended up right in his arms.
Or maybe it was fortunate after all. With her luscious lips so close, he could almost taste her. And her scent…dear God, she was intoxicating, like a mixture of night air and jasmine. “You all right?” he managed.
She nodded. “My foot caught on a rock, I think.”
“Is it bleeding?”
“My foot or the rock?” Her cheek dimpled.
He laughed. “Your foot, of course.”
“No, I don’t think so. It’s all right.”
“Good.” He realized his mistake immediately. Some strange instinct caused him to keep her close. Stepping back would be a crime and she was seductive. Knowing she was naked underneath his coat didn’t help anything. She was way too accessible. Heedless of the costs, he plunged a hand into the soft waves of her dark hair and lowered his mouth to hers.
She tasted like wine, potent and sweet. He explored her mouth slowly, allowing her the chance to pull away or slap him. He knew he’d deserve it. He’d never stolen a kiss before, and he couldn’t think why he’d done it now. But, she tasted delicious. And her body felt so good against his. He groaned and drew her closer. When she moaned in return, he kissed her deeply and moved a hand down her back. His hands wanted to roam further, but he held himself in check. If he was a real gentleman, he’d pull away now. Reluctantly, he did.
He drew back and tried to get his libido back under control. “Ah…sorry. I wasn’t thinking.” He swept a hand through his hair.
He thought she looked just as shaken. But she smiled a little. “It’s okay. No harm done, right?”
This is my first read of Magick & Moonlight. It’s the third book I’ve read by Marie Lavender, the others being Second Chance Heart and Blue Vision, which I also enjoyed. Lavender takes a hapless couple in a rural setting, stirs in some well-researched and rich details and sprinkles them with her gifts for romance, storytelling and language. The result is a delicious love story that will leave you satisfied, yet coming back for more of Marie Lavender’s works.