After winning millions in a national lottery, local librarian Daisy Morgan sets out to revitalize the infamous Crowe’s Nest Tavern. After saving the historic inn from the auction block, Daisy begins a major renovation only to discover some hidden secrets – and a few unearthly spirits – tied to the tavern’s history.
Writer Keegan Warren arrives to do a story on the tavern weeks before the grand re-opening. Keegan’s got a few secrets of his own about why he wanted the assignment – secrets that unfold no matter how diligently he tries to keep them hidden. With Daisy’s help, he unearths a centuries old murder tied to his family’s past.
As they investigate, their mutual attraction grows. But will their budding relationship suffer when the truth is discovered?
Daisy slid the phone back into her purse and took a tour around the taproom. Natural light bathed the room through the obscured and etched glass windows covering the front two walls. She’d paid a small fortune to replicate them, forking over extra to temper them in order to protect against the strong bay winds that battered the building every day of the year.
The Crowe’s Nest Tavern stood at the sharpest jut of land on Last Light Point and had weathered several hundred years of New England storms and tempests, dozens of owners, and a history that dated from before the birth of the nation. Daisy wasn’t about to let that history go the way of the dinosaur on her watch.
Her critical eye for detail roamed around the room taking in all the updates done, while keeping the original feel of the old tavern alive.
The establishment had been up for auction for a year, the previous owner dying without ever making provisions for its sale. Daisy, as head of the historical society, had tried valiantly to get it made a protected historical site. The fact the structure had stood for over three hundred years should have qualified it outright, but her attempts fell on deaf legislative ears. The bank, who owned the mortgage, had put it up for sale. When no buyer came forth, they placed it on the auction block. Daisy was terrified it was going to be sold and subsequently knocked down. When an outside developer expressed interest in the property and the rest of the boardwalk to build upscale condos, Daisy had gone into fight mode to block his every attempt.
Just when it looked like her struggle would prove futile, several prayers and one stroke of heaven-sent luck had come her way and she’d been able to purchase the building and, with it, the leases for the remaining shops on the boardwalk.
Unexpectedly flush with disposable cash, Daisy spared no expense to bring the tavern back to its long-ago beauty.
If you could call its twisted history beautiful, she thought. She supposed the sight where pirates and thieves hung out and where they were, subsequently, hung then placed into the dreaded gibbet and left to rot for all the citizenry to gawk over, could be classified as historically significant, if not pretty.
Oh, she wished she could have seen it in its heyday. Filled to the rafters with brigands and soldiers and sailors all stopping for a pint and some grub to fill their bellies. Buxom serving girls bustling about, filling tankards, listening to tall tales of sea monsters and hidden treasure; of mermaids and sirens and Davy Jones’ Locker.
Daisy sighed, her imagination running rampant as it always did when she thought of the tavern’s history. Her gaze traveled to the mirror Cooper’s crew had discovered in the basement when they’d begun shoring up the ancient walls. Covered with a black tarp and decades of dust, they’d uncovered it and immediately called her.
“It’s wicked old,” Cooper said as he accompanied her to the tavern’s underground level. “And worth a fortune, I’m thinking. That frame’s real gold. I’d bet the house on it.”
Daisy stooped to inspect the mirror. Cooper’s eye was good, because the frame was genuine gold and decorated with a filigree pattern on all four sides. About five feet wide and three-quarters of that in width, the glass was murky with age and dust. She could barely make out her reflection.
“I bet it hung on the wall behind the bar,” she mused. “Take it upstairs and put it in my office. I’ll call Mrs. Cashman over at the antiques store to come over and look at it. She should know how to clean it, too, to bring it back to life.”
“What are you planning to do with it?” Cooper asked.
“Put it where I’m sure it used to hang: back up behind the bar.”
Cooper cupped his neck and shook his head. “It weighs a ton, kid. Mounting and securing it’s gonna be a nightmare.”
“I’m sure you’ll do your best.” She swiped at the dust collecting on her jeans and stood. A momentary wave of vertigo over took her, making her sway. Cooper’s hand shot out in an instant to clasp her upper arms right before she dropped to the floor.
“Easy,” he said. “You okay?”
“Yeah, thanks.” She swiped at the sweat suddenly covering her brow. “I missed breakfast,” she lied, shaking her head of the subtle hum ringing through it. She hadn’t felt this sensation in too many years to remember. Not since…she clucked her tongue and shoved the memory down. “I’ll go call the antique shop.”
Now, as she stood in front of the cleaned and polished mirror, the glass just slightly milky from age, she smiled. And, now that she knew what it really was, she could admit a small amount of anxiety about hanging it behind the bar. So far, none of the workmen or staff had commented on anything…strange, about the piece. And thank goodness for that. That it looked perfect hanging there was a minor consolation.
writes contemporary romances and romcoms about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.
Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, Peggy brings all aspects of life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness, and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she has created the families she wanted as that lonely child.
As a lifelong diarist, she caught the blogging bug early on, and you can visit her at peggyjaeger.com where she blogs daily about life, writing, and stuff that makes her go “What??!”
Sometimes when you knock on heaven’s door . . .the dead answer back.
Willow Pinch lives life on a razor’s edge. A world of deception and disguise is all she knows. By day she hides in plain sight as Will, a servant boy. Nights are spent as a table knocker, aiding so-called spiritualists in duping townsfolk into believing their loved ones speak from beyond the grave. That is until the ghosts of Last Light Point unmask her before the only man she’s ever loved. Dare she trust Morgan Blackwell with her secrets?
Morgan invests every hard-earned penny in The Crowe’s Nest. Solid as a mountain and pure of heart, he doesn’t trust the strangers. Still, he needs money and agrees to rent them his tavern for their spiritual meetings. The last thing he expects are charlatans hell-bent on destroying his reputation with so-called séances. He can’t afford run-ins with the law or the fine, church-going people of town. Yet can he avoid a collision course when he learns Willow’s terrible truth? Not to mention there are ghosts in his tavern now! Be damned, but he can’t turn his back on the infuriating woman when the urge to protect her—to love her—proves irresistible.
Will the dead of Last Light Point guide Willow and Morgan to lasting love? Or will the dark forces they’ve unleashed lead to ruin?
You’re a foxy one,” Morgan Blackwell said to his best friend, Peter Clark. “I’m not the gaming sort, but I’ll pour another whiskey for you if you’ll leave me be. I’ve little time to dawdle tonight.” He smiled in his typical good-natured way and poured two fingers for each of them.
Peter slipped his dog-eared playing cards back into the pocket of his coat. Taking a sip, he winced at the strong drink. “I thought you’d at least want to see my latest trick.”
“Augh, tricks again. Christ, man. I know you fancy yourself the world’s greatest magician, but why not try your hand at helping me in some useful manner?” Morgan dried the last of the tankards, and he hung them on pegs behind the bar. Then he worked to make the old pewter-topped bar shine as best he could. Well over a century, and yet this tavern was still a popular watering hole in Last Light Point.
“You sound like my parents, always wanting me to make something of myself. Of course I’ll help you,” Peter said. “Just tell me what to do. Except swing a hammer. Or dig. I’ve delicate hands, you know.” He glanced around the empty taproom. “What’ve you got going on here tonight, anyway? It’s not like you to close early. Sending poor Old Bill out into the streets like a common drunkard when you know he’s yours to keep.”
“I’ve rented the place to make some extra money. I’m hoping to fix her up. Make this old girl more respectable.”
“I’ve always admired how you refer to this tavern as a lady. Kind of like a sea captain with his ship. What have you got in mind for ‘her?’”
“I’m still thinking about it…but renovating the upstairs rooms to be a proper inn, serving more food down here in the taproom. Those are a couple of my ideas.” He thought for a moment before adding, “Perhaps I’ll offer afternoon tea with fancy sandwiches for ladies.”
Peter scrunched up his nose. “Balls. That is a change. Who did you rent to?” he asked, switching subjects.
“A small party wanting a private place to hold their special meeting. Traveling spiritualists or some such nonsense.”
“Spiritualists?” Peter jeered. He blew out a long breath. “You mean table knockers? You should have told me you wanted carnival performers in this new and improved establishment of yours. I’d be happy to put on daily shows.”
“I don’t know about such things, but they paid me handsomely up front. A husband-and-wife team. The man called himself a doctor of something, and she’s Madam So-and-So. Apparently, they’ve established quite a name for themselves. Sold tickets to townsfolk already. I’m cleaning up and then leaving to talk to some men about making the repairs and improvements for me.”
“You’re leaving your beloved Crowe’s Nest in the hands of traveling performers? Are you daft, man?” his friend exclaimed in a skeptical tone.
“Reverend Tuffin and his daughter will be here. As will Mr. Cummings, the banker who holds the mortgage on this place. They’ll keep an eye on her for me.”
“Well, now I know you’re crazy. Missing out on dear, sweet Prudence, batting those long, lovely lashes at you. When are you going to court the girl outright, as in publicly, and stop sneaking around?” Peter laughed when Morgan shot him a dark scowl. “All right, relax, my friend. How about I stay and help look after your livelihood for you? I’m curious, I must admit.”
“Suit yourself. But don’t go drinking the good whiskey.” Morgan spared a quick glance over his shoulder for the antique bottle, sitting in a place of honor, front and center, before the mottled mirror behind his bar. Both the mirror and the bottle were old and ugly. Still, legend said they must remain in place, or else trouble would befall all who entered this establishment. He shook his head, hating the blasted things and the folklore associated with them. Last Light Point was steeped in such superstitious rubbish.
“No one touches that particular bottle,” Peter said, looking uneasy. “Do you think I want the bad luck said to befall anyone who does? No, thank you. You might not believe in pirate curses, but I do.”
“Stay if you want,” Morgan said, giving his beloved tavern one last appraising look. He dried his hands and hung the bar towel in its proper place. “The couple is upstairs getting ready for their meeting. They’ve a servant boy with them. Scrawny lad I’m letting sleep in the storeroom. He doesn’t speak—has a rather feral look about him—so steer clear.”
Peter rubbed his hands together and grinned. “Oh, this is getting good. I’ve a feeling tonight is going to be quite a memorable experience.”
About Kathryn Hills
Hauntingly romantic… Unless she’s writing sweet!
The rich history and many mysteries of New England are the perfect backdrop for many of KATHRYN’s books. Winding roads lined by old stone walls, forgotten cemeteries, grand homes with shadowy pasts…all sparks for her imagination. Whether it’s a quaint seaside town or the vibrant city of Boston, it’s easy for this “hauntingly romantic” author to envision the past mingling with the present. No surprise, some of Kathryn’s favorite stories include ghosts! Sprinkle in some magic, and you’re off on a great adventure.
When not writing, this best-selling author is reading, researching, gardening, or cooking up something special in her chaotic kitchen. She shares her colonial home in the north woods with those she loves most – her wonderful husband, daughter, and three crazy dogs.
Yesterday, episode 2 of my new Vella story MAGIC’S CHARM dropped and today I’m giving you a little tease of that chapter.
The dressing room door opened and Rhys had to put his hands in his pockets when he saw her. The absolute craving to reach and touch her was so strong he was shocked by it. Ebony hair flew down around her shoulders to her back ending at her waist, free and unadorned. On the stage, he’d thought the sheen had been from the harsh stage lights. Seeing her hair now, unlit and natural, he realized the glistening came from the woman herself. She’d removed the dramatic eye makeup, but he could see that her lashes were naturally long and not from the application of artifice. The rosy glow on her cheeks wasn’t from a blusher. Her naked lips were plump and wanton, and for a hot minute, Rhys fantasized about tugging at them with his own.
She’d changed into a simple green sheath dress that ended just at her knees, giving him an ample view of long, slender, toned calves. Metallic 5-inch stilettos shod her feet making her eye level with him.
“Let’s go down to the lounge,” she said, “Pierre has a private section for us and we won’t be disturbed while we wait for Evan.”
He nodded and let her lead the way, delighted to watch her slender hips sway beneath the well-fitting dress.
Episodes 1-3 are always free to read on Vella. Watch for the third one this Thursday, Feb 2.
Today’s snippet comes from my first Magnolia Blossom Publishing books, MERRY’S GHOST.
When writer and paranormal investigator Chase Seacort comes to spend a few weeks at a friend’s Hampton getaway, all he wants is to be alone, finish his current book about East Coast hauntings, and try to put the horrid events of his past year behind him.
All thoughts about a quiet respite alone vanish when he meets his quirky, gorgeous neighbor. The blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty captivates him with her perpetual smile and free and easy personality.
Merry June lives a quiet life in her beach house, devoting herself to her two loves – art and photography. Once she discovers Chase’s identity, she can’t wait to introduce him to her great-grandaunt Davinia. But Davinia rarely shows herself to others.
You wouldn’t either if you were a ghost trapped between this world and the next.
With Chase’s help, he and Merry investigate the mystery that’s kept Davinia’s spirit prisoner in the house for over 100 years, and in so doing discover a history of infidelity, heartache, and murder.
When a face from Chase’s recent past puts Merry’s life in danger, he must fight two battles for the woman he’s come to love – one on the spiritual plane and one in the physical world.
From across the street, he watched her work.
“Okay, Sam. Now open your arms wide like this.” Merry moved back from behind the tripod and extended her arms out to the sides, palms up. “Turn your face up to the sky, close your eyes, and smile as big as you can.”
Sam, all red hair and freckles and just turning eleven, did as he was told.
Merry smiled and crouched down behind the camera. “Okay. Stay that way until I say three.” She counted, snapping away as she did.
“That was great, Sam. Just great.”
The boy ran down from the gazebo steps, his smile the size of a cavern opening. “Really, Merry? Was it good?”
She laid a hand on his shoulder. “Better than good. Can I call you again if I need a male model?”
Sam lifted his shoulders and puffed out his chest with pride. “Sure thing, Merry. Anytime. You just call.”
“I will. And thanks for the soda. Thank your grandma, too.”
“Sure thing.” With that, he hopped on his skateboard and headed back towards the beach.
Chase watched her reload the camera and move the tripod to a new location, a few feet forward from where she’d been. All around her on the ground stood bags of what he assumed to be photographic supplies. Each satchel was open, and he noticed two extra hand cameras lying together next to the curb.
But it was to the woman his eyes strayed to and stayed. She was dressed as she’d been when they’d met, her feet still barefoot even though the concrete had to be scorching. With the sun shining full force down upon her head, the blondness of her hair seemed white in the bright light. Her face was free, no sunglasses to bar the glare of the sun. She stepped back from the camera, made a rectangular lens with her index fingers and thumbs, and peered into it. Chase saw her nod, once, then go back to the camera.
In rapid succession, she took numerous photographs of the aging town gazebo. It stood four square in the center of Main Street in front of the City Hall and courthouse. Against the fading red brick of both official edifices, the Victorian-spiraled, circular gazebo stood out, contrasting against them with its newly painted white facade. Hundreds of purple, pink and white Impatiens had been planted around the outer edge of it.
In all, the scene was a beautiful one to his untrained eye. He wondered how it would look captured on film from her viewpoint.
His breathing quickened as he found himself walking over to her. He hadn’t planned this, he told himself. Didn’t know if he wanted to see her again so soon. But he had no choice as his body took over his mind and propelled him toward her.
She was changing film again, securing one of the other cameras to the tripod.
“So you’re a photographer as well as a sea shell collector,” he said when he was sure she could hear him.
Her smile came first, as she folded the film into the camera. He thought it was as if she’d known he was there, watching her, all along, and had just been waiting for him to approach. Then she turned to him. The sun blasted full force into her face and she squinted against its blinding glare. She said, “Among other things.”
The cannonball that shot into his mid-section when she stared up at him made his stomach muscles tighten into tangled knots.
Switching the cameras, she turned the tripod away from the gazebo, aiming it straight in his direction. While he stood, watching her, she bent and winked into the viewfinder.
“Going to take my picture?” he asked.
She stood up, hands on hips, and angled her head to one side. “Not unless you want me to. I’m trying to get to the Post Office before the sun moves.”
“Don’t let me disturb you, then.” He turned, intent on walking away.
“You don’t have to go,” she said, squatting down again. “I don’t mind being watched when I work.”
“Being watched?” he came towards her, hands in his pockets.
“Hmmm.” Hands in place, she clicked the shutter. “You were watching when I was photographing Sam, weren’t you?”
Damn. She’d seen him. His embarrassment made him silent.
Merry clicked a few more shots then straightened and turned to him. “It’s okay,” she said, smiling. “Like I said, I don’t mind. Sometimes an audience is good for me. Keeps me on my toes.”
Why, he asked himself, every time she smiled like that, did he want to drag her against his body and cover her mouth with his own? Where had this desire come from? And why was it directed at her, a woman he didn’t know and couldn’t make up his mind if he even wanted to?
To hide his uneasiness, he decided to challenge it by being honest. “I saw Sam come into the grocery store. He was all excited about being photographed by you. He practically flew out of the store with your drink.”
She started packing up her gear, taking the film from the cameras and putting them into the pockets of her shorts. “Sam’s always been a ham. I first photographed him when he was seven and I found him sitting on the beach, a caramel apple dripping all over his face. His mother loved the shot so much she used it for their Christmas card that year.”
Her laugh gamboled through the air. He’d never heard a sound that was at one time so childlike yet so thoroughly seductive.
“His grandmother thinks he’s in love with you,” he said, picking up one of her bags and handing it to her.
“Thanks. Selma’s a card, smokes too much, and has a heart as big as the ocean. She loves that boy no end.”
“I thought the same thing when I was in her store.”
“Speaking of the store,” she tossed the last of the bags over her shoulder, “I’ve got to get a few things myself.”
When she went to pick up the tripod, her hand collided with his as he’d had the same idea.
Together, their fingers stayed twined around the pole for a few seconds. Neither of them had the desire to remove their grips.
The heat that Chase had felt before was now at a boiling point. For the briefest of seconds, he found himself energized by her touch, vitalized by the feel of her skin against his. It was almost like being struck by lightning.
“Where’s your car?” he asked, barely able to keep the aching going on within him banked from her ears. “You’ve got an awful lot to carry. Let me take this.”
“No car. I walked.”
“You came all this way, carrying this load, alone?”
“Sure. I do it all the time. I can manage.” The gentle tug she exerted on the pole was met with resistance. “Can I have my tripod?” she asked, a playful smile dancing on her face.
His eyebrows furrowed above the glasses. “It’s too hot to walk, ” he said. “My car’s about two blocks away. Come on, I’ll drive you home.”
“It’s okay, I can walk. Besides, I need to stop at Selma’s.”
“I’m parked right outside her store,” he said, taking one of the bags off her shoulder.
He began walking and she had no choice but to follow.
“Are you always so bossy?” she asked, matching him stride for stride, even though she was barefoot and carrying a third of her weight on her shoulders.
“I’m not bossy,” he said, “just practical. It’s almost ninety degrees. You’d be exhausted by the time you got home, carrying all this.”
“Like I said, I’m used to it.” One arm slung over the bag across her shoulder, and she peered at him from the corner of her eye as they walked along.
Since the pandemic I have shunned in-person shopping as much as I can, opting for home delivery when it’s available – or other online ways to get what I need.
This holiday season is no exception for me. The thought of being crammed into a mall with coughing kids and grumpy shoppers is not my idea of undiluted pleasure.
If you’re like me ( yay!), have a romance book reader on your Holiday list – or even if it’s you, and want to get them something special, take advantage of my 2022 Holiday book store this year. All the books listed are in print, $11.00 a piece – a sizable discount even from the ‘Zon, and shipping/handling is cheaper than the post office.
Why am I doing this? Simple – I want to make it easy for people to get my books without spending the horrible markups you see in retailers and online distributors. With the economy still in recovery mode, this is the very least I can offer to my readers.
I adore it when my Wild Rose Press sistahs come to visit. The press had a new and popular series called The Wylder West and my friend and fellow author Tena Stetler has a new addition to the series that releases today! I’m so honored she chose to spend release day with me. Let me introduce Tena so she can tell you all about her new book!
Top Eleven Reasons You Should Read An Angel’s Wylder Assignment
Take a Wylder ride to the past with a Warrior Angel and Native American Shifter to save the future.
You love stories with scenes set in Scotland
Find out Chinoah and Killian’s secrets. (You know they first appeared in An Angel’s Unintentional Entanglement as secondary characters. They were larger than life and wanted their own story.)
Someone breached the Scottish Mists with dark intentions and disappeared into the past. Why?
You enjoyed the other books in the Wylder Series and want to see what has happened now in Wylder, Wyoming.
There is the cutest dog introduced into the story. Yes, she almost steals the story and quite a few scenes, not to mention saves a life.
Find out who sent Killian and Chinoah into the past and why.
You love time travel, historical, paranormal, Western, Scottish adventures.
Someone is plotting against Killian and Chinoah, find out who and why.
. You need a break from your ordinary world to be swept into a romantic, fantasy adventure tinged with mystery that you may never want to leave.
You know writing historical is out of my wheelhouse and want to find out if I pulled it off. LOL
AN ANGEL’S WYLDER ASSIGNMENT
Warrior Angel Killian Dugan’s annual trip to the family castle in Scotland is shattered by the arrival of Legion Commander North. Killian’s skills are needed for an urgent time travel assignment. A rogue demon has escaped back in time. He must discover the why and where then stop the demon before it can damage the past and change the future.
Killian’s girlfriend Chinoah Grace, a Native American shapeshifter is included in the mission, which takes them to the wild west town of Wylder, Wyoming in 1878. She will have her hands full fitting in and making friends. Nothing is as it seems. They encounter visions, spirit quests, and a mysterious shaman. On top of it all, blending in as a blacksmith is more physically difficult than he imagined. But not as challenging as keeping his hands off his undercover wife. Will they complete their assignment or run out of time?
Inside the family castle in Scotland, Killian put aside his warrior angel duties and relaxed in front of a roaring fire with Chinoah, a Native American wolf shifter.
He idly swirled wine in a cut crystal glass, watching the flames glint off the burgundy liquid. It was his duty to take care of the property while his cousin, Tavish, and his family were on holiday before the highland’s harsh winter weather set in.
This year he’d be staying through the holidays, though Chinoah didn’t know it yet.
Who says a battle-ready warrior angel couldn’t handle both duty and family. Bollocks to that. His best friend, Caden, did it. Well, kinda.Legion Commander Nathanial North balanced both just fine.
He slipped an arm around Chinoah. She cuddled into him as he pulled the patchwork quilt Jalen, Tavish’s wife, had made and given them to celebrate their hard-won relationship status of dating. One step at a time, Chinoah had requested.
The brass door knocker echoed through the castle announcing visitors.
With a raised brow, he peered at Chinoah. “Expecting guests, are we?”
“Not as far as I know.” She got to her feet and padded across the stone floor.
“Wait.” Grumbling, he pushed up from the cozy warm couch, slipped his socked feet back into his boots, and clomped toward her. “Best let me answer the door since we don’t know who’s waiting on the other side.”
She slowed her pace to allow him to catch up with her. “This castle is huge. By the time we get to the door, the visitors may be gone.” She giggled.
“Way to keep in shape.” Chuckling, he kissed her. “Apparently, my cousin made the original great hall into their family living space.”
“God help us if we’re in the bed-chamber when someone comes calling.” She snickered. “We’d have to sprint down the balcony hallway, across the split staircase, and through the great hall. By then, the visitors would have decided no one was home.”
“Which could have been Tavish’s plan.” He smiled at the thought. “Besides, I didn’t hear you complain last evening when you thundered through the castle for a couple of hours on four paws.”
“That was different. My wolf needed the exercise, and you didn’t want me to go outside.” Her lips formed a pout that he found irresistible.
“Didn’t want to spring you from a trap.” He turned his attention out the window where the snow swirled in the howling wind. “Besides, who in bloody hell would be calling at this time of night and in this weather?”
She raised an eyebrow and shrugged. “Only one group of individuals I know.”
“Oh, no. I’m on leave. They didn’t know where I was going. Besides, they wouldn’t expect me to be here.” The ancient wooden door groaned then made a squeeing sound when Killian yanked it open. “What in tarnation are you doing here?”
In Tena’s past lives, she’s been a savings and loan branch manager, a paralegal for a criminal law firm, IT Manager for an electrical contracting firm, and now a published writer. After trying on many hats, she finally found the one that fits the best. Or in other words, she loves making things up to entertain others. LOL