Book one of The Witches' Rede series
An Irish witch. An Italian outlaw.
And all the mischief the old west can handle.
Maeve lives a charmed life in the small desert town of Redington in Arizona Territory- where spousal prospects are sorely lacking, career choices are shamefully limited to the saloon, and Death himself has a vendetta against her.
All Maeve wants is her independence but 1883 society has decidedly different expectations for her.
Enter Shadow Wolf, notorious for his dark reputation and grotesque mechanical arm. The gunslinger, a suspiciously werewolf-esque man whose social situation bears some obnoxious similarities to Maeve's, has found his place among the masses by walking on the wrong side of the law.
When Maeve stumbles upon Shadow Wolf's scheme to rob a stagecoach, he forces her to choose between her life or breaking the witches' Golden Rule. Despite certain karmic retribution, Maeve relies on her wit and a sprinkling of magic to survive the heist. When nothing goes according to plan, she finds herself not just on the ride of a lifetime, but also roped into an unanticipated romance with a sexy bandit at the reins.
Enjoy an excerpt:
The monsoon came in the early evening; Maeve had been at work the full day by the time the winds picked up an hour shy of closing. For once, Jethro wasn’t last to stumble from the tavern. Edison’s table was strewn with schematics as always and some sort of material comprised of metal links, but he ignored those things in favor of tinkering with some new contraption which employed heavy use of what he referred to as Crookes tubes. When Edison didn’t want to discuss the inventions in depth, Maeve assumed it was another weapon.
Once finished cleaning for the night, she asked to join him. Edison nodded, waving toward the chair across from his. “You’re blue, Ducky. What’s wrong?”
“I—amn’t—blue,” Maeve faltered.
Edison glanced at her, one eye hidden behind a copper-plated telescopic monocular held to his face by several uncomfortable leather straps. His shaggy brows furrowed wordlessly as he slipped the monocular onto his forehead.
Maeve cleared her throat and attempted to distract him. “Won’t ye tell me about this? Even a little?”
“I think there’s something else going on here—” He pointed a finger at the largest Crookes tube, though he cast an accusatory glance right at her. “—that I can’t see.”
“Ye seem frustrated.”
“As do you.” Edison set the contraption down, leaning both elbows on the table and regarding her somberly.
“W-well—” Maeve stuttered. “It’s—silly—”
“I beg yer pardon? How would ye know—?”
Edison smiled. “I spoke with Milton this morning. You’re clearly distressed. Love will do that to you.” His sympathetic smile fell and his gaze flickered away from her face. “It’s served me well to avoid it.”
“It makes no sense, ‘n’—”
“It’s love?” Edison raised his eyebrows and offered an uncharacteristically impish smile.
Someone rapped gently on the tavern door.
“I’m sorry, we’re closed,” Maeve sang. “Return tomorrow please.”
At the sound of Rafaele’s voice, she sprang from her seat.
With a chuckle, Edison concluded: “It’s love.”
“Pardon me,” she whispered to Edison before rushing to open the door, inviting Rafaele in with a small motion of her hand.
Rafaele exchanged a nod of acknowledgment with Edison as he entered.
Edison cocked an eyebrow in the couple’s direction before fiddling with his contraption. He probably wasn’t concentrating on it with the monocular protruding from his forehead, but at least he was considerate enough to pretend he wasn’t paying attention to them.
Maeve gathered her courage to meet Rafaele’s gaze, asking him, “Did I, or did I not, tell ye to address me less formal?”
He smiled at her invitation and stepped closer to her than necessary, caressing her face from temple to jaw with the petals of a desert dandelion. “I’m sorry. Maeve.”
“‘N’ ye’re late.” Maeve nudged him with the toe of her boot. “It’s after hours. I should have ye come back tomorrow.” She teased, “I’m sure there’s nothin’ ye want here right now.”
“No.” Rafaele lifted her face, leaving a soft kiss on her lips. “Nothing here I want, at all.” He offered her the flower. “No games, now. If I’m courting you, I won’t tolerate games.” He hesitated. “My emotions are just as fragile as yours.”
Maeve gasped; she couldn’t believe him. After all, it was well-known fact men didn’t have feelings. On the off-chance he was being truthful, she thought it best not to press the issue. Instead: “Are ye?” She accepted the flower. “Courtin’ me, I mean?”
“What do I need to do to make my intentions any clearer?”
Maeve’s eyebrows quirked. There were those naughty, exciting thoughts creeping into her head at the strange way he emphasized ‘intentions.’ Her gaze settled on his perfect mouth, those lips that made her breathless by merely grazing her skin.
“My plans for our previous outing didn’t pan out and I want to make it up to you. Perhaps …” Rafaele entwined the fingers of his right hand with the fingers of her left. “We go to the Old Pueblo to see an operetta?”
Maeve’s eyes went wide. “Really?” she whispered. “I’ve never seen one, but I’ve always wanted to.”
“How about HMS Pinafore?”
“Oh I’d love tha’.” Granted, she’d never heard that title but figured if it was like the ones she knew of, she’d spend a couple hours allowing Rafaele to comfort her while she wept at the drama of it all; that is, if she conjured tears for once. Probably best not to. Especially not in front of him.
He held Maeve by the shoulders at arm’s length. “You’re staring at my lips.” She shied away, but Rafaele pulled her against himself with a chuckle.