New Adult / Paranormal Romance/ Mystery
Date Published: 5/15/2013
Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family’s reputation isn’t easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.
Read an excerpt
Belinda’s collection of potions was extensive and many of her customers believed in the power of her brews. They were probably crap, especially those offering up money and wishes, because if she really could brew them, why would she need to sell them? Others, such as those offering weight loss or hair regrowth, might have been legitimate–I had no real way of knowing.Then my eyes fell on a tiny vial with the word “MAGIC” on the label. I picked it up and turned it over to read the details: “Tap into magical energies you never knew were there. You’ll be able to cast spells and brew potions. Curse your neighbors and find true love. $15.95”“Impossible,” I muttered. Surely, if such a thing could be, my parents would have fed it to me years ago.“That stuff is crap,” Evan said.I jumped. I had almost forgotten he was there. He stood by a bulletin board, where he had been staring at pictures of Belinda, her friends, and her family. “Belinda mostly knows how to brew love potions, and even then she keeps the strongest ones to herself…the ones that truly ensnare the mind and heart.”I replaced the vial of MAGIC, with just a tiny twinge of regret, and moved on to Belinda’s love potions. She had one full shelf dedicated to love, decorated with pink hearts and red roses. A lot of these potions were in the form of perfumes, creams, shampoos, and most especially–chocolates. The bottom third of the shelf was dedicated to boxes of chocolate candy in different flavors and potencies.
While a strong love potion will ensnare the mind and the heart, most of the weaker love potions are what you might call suggestive magic. They could cause you to feel affection, adoration, or arousal, but they typically left the higher brain functions intact.At random, I picked up a bottle of perfume from the top shelf and read: “Induces powerful lust. Spray on your intended and make sure you are the first person they see. Lasts about an hour.”The thing you have to understand about any magic is that there are good ways to use it, and bad ways to use it. The concept of black magic is a hotly debated topic among sorcerers. Even death, in self defense, is a shade of gray. As I stood there, reading the functions of the various love potions, I thought of all the innocent and harmful ways they could be used. A couple in a committed relationship might have a lot of fun with a spray of lust. On the other hand, using it on an unwilling victim…I shuddered as I replaced the bottle and accidentally knocked one of the neighboring bottles of perfume to the ground. It shattered, splashing perfume all over my open-toed sandals.“Crap.”“What happened?” Evan asked, his voice hard and alert. I could hear him moving closer.“Stop! I don’t want to see you right now.”“Which potion was that?” Evan asked, still in that hard-edged voice of command.I pointed to the row of similar bottles on the top shelf. “Lust.”One of the little bottles floated away from the shelf, but I did not turn around to see what Evan was doing with it. Instead, I started looking through my purse for a pack of tissues to clean the mess off my feet.“Cassie, I have some bad news for you.”“Worse, you mean?”“This potion doesn’t take affect until you actually look at someone. Your hour starts then.”“Crap. I don’t suppose there’s an antidote?”“Sure,, but it will take me about three days to brew, once the moon is full.”“Okay.” I considered my options as I wiped the mess off my foot and started gathering the tiny shards of glass. “Well, I guess I could-” I stopped, I had nothing to put at the end of that sentence. I kind of hoped Evan would have a suggestion, but to my surprise, he started laughing at me. “This isn’t funny.”“Come on, it is a little funny.”Maybe it would be funny in a few days, if I didn’t die of embarrassment first. “I suppose I could call my boyfriend.” I didn’t want to explain any of this to him, and though I trusted him, I didn’t really want him to become the object of my uncontrolled lust for an hour. I just didn’t know what else to do.“Who are you seeing?” Evan asked, all traces of amusement gone.“Braden,” I said.“Who?”“Braden Walker. He was a year ahead of us in school. He was on the football team.”“Oh. I think I remember him.” Evan paused for a long moment. “You know you could do better, right?”“It’s none of your business.” I had to fight the urge to glare at him when I said that. He barely knew Braden, so what made him think he could make any judgments? Besides, I didn’t know why he thought I could do better, when I had done very little dating in high school. I hadn’t known if my family name scared people off, or if there was something fundamentally wrong with me, but Braden had at least restored my confidence that the latter was not true.“Listen,” Evan said. “I need to do another spell. It’ll just be a few minutes. We’ll figure something out after, just don’t look at me until I’m done.”“I get that.” I sounded more annoyed at the admonition than I should have, because his quip about Braden still stung.Within seconds, I smelled candles and incense, and heard Evan muttering under his breath. I found a trash can by a nearby desk, and tossed the damp tissues inside. Then I spotted a black day planner on top of the desk. It was the sort of thing that ancient relatives used to buy me for school, but I never used. Belinda seemed to have liked it, though. Nearly every page through the end of July was covered in notes and reminders.Over the weekend, she wrote, she had rented a cabin in the woods by the lake. She should have been back, though, because in about half an hour, she had a dinner date at Hodge Mill with Sheriff Adams. I blinked and re-read the name several times to be sure I had seen it correctly, but unfortunately, I had. My old boss and friend had been acting a little strangely that afternoon, but I hadn’t guessed he might be under the influence of a love spell.“Finished,” Evan said. I heard him gathering up his supplies. “This isn’t good. I suspected it this afternoon, but now I’m sure–there’s no threshold on this home. Which either means Belinda has permanently moved, or else she’s dead.”“Do you think she had something to do with your cousin’s murder?” I asked.“I don’t know what to think. I can’t come up with a reason she’d do it, but then again, where is she?”“I found her day planner,” I said, holding it up over my shoulder so Evan could see. “She was supposed to go to the lake this weekend, and she’s got a date tonight at Hodge Mill. You’ll never guess who it’s with.”“Who?”“The sheriff.”“Huh.”“I know it’s a long shot, but I figure we should go to Hodge Mill and see if she shows up–or if the sheriff does. After that–”“Cassie,” Evan interrupted.“Yeah?”“How much do you trust me?”“Er-Why?”“Turn around,” he said.“Did you figure something out?” I said, my heart beating a little faster. “Some way to stop the potion?”“Yes.”“But you said-” I never got a chance to finish, because just then, Evan moved into my field of vision and I turned to stare at him properly.In all the years I had known him, I had somehow missed the fact that Evan has the most incredible blue eyes. They sparkle like diamonds when he laughs, and darken like the sea when he’s angry. At that moment, I thought I could swim in those eyes. I had never spent much time looking at his lips before, but I suddenly became aware of just how kissable they were. I started towards him, my focus set on those beautiful, kissable lips.I couldn’t move. Something was forcing my body absolutely still.“Sorry about that,” Evan said, not sounding sorry at all. He swung a satchel over his shoulder and started out the door. I found myself following behind him, but I wasn’t the one moving my legs. “Nothing to do but let it run its course. If you want to hate me in an hour, I’ll understand.”
From Publisher’s Weekly:
“In this entertaining series opener, Amsden (The Immortality Virus) introduces readers to the eponymous Cassie, a decidedly mundane member of a magical family. …Readers will enjoy Cassie’s fish-out-of-water struggles as she fights magical threats with little more than experience and bravado.”
A Word from author Christine Amsden:
How I Met Cassie
Cassie came to me, I didn’t go to her.
I finished The Immortality Virus late in the fall of 2008, and though I took pride in my second novel, I felt worn out (creatively). When the new year came, bringing with it the opportunity for all kinds of writerly resolutions, I decided I needed to take the year off. I would read, blog, journal, but otherwise give my muse time to heal.
I didn’t make it a year. It turns out, I really am a writer. Writers write. We can’t not write. Taking the pressure off my muse did turn out to have been a great idea, but putting a time frame on it was a bit naive.
Cassie came to me in mid-February, as I played on the floor with me (then) 9-month-old daughter. I won’t go so far as to say she popped into my head fully formed, but it was close. I sat bolt upright, my eyes probably doing that cartoon bulge, as a light bulb appeared over my head.
What if… What if the hero of a fantasy story was the only one in it without magic?
I wrote the first line of the story as soon as my daughter went down for a nap. It read: “My parents think the longer the name, the more powerful the sorcerer, so they named me Nicolas Merlin Apollonius Roger Scot. You can call me Nick.”
Okay, so it needed work. It didn’t take me long to realize I wanted a female heroine. Nicolas (who does not go by Nick and might set you on fire if you tried) became the oldest of Cassie’s siblings.
After that, Cassie told me new things about herself every day. I had a rough draft by the end of June.
Christine Amsden has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.
At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams.
When she's not writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing, usually at Savvy Authors. She also offers professional editing services. She maintains a book review blog on her website with occasional writing tips thrown in for the fun of it.
Christine lives in the Kansas City area with her husband and two children.
Contact Christine Amsden
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