Book Review: The Witches Walk (Haven Harbor #1)

Book Cover from Amazon

The Witches Walk (Haven Harbor #1) by Jeanne Adams

BOOK BLURB ON AMAZON

Welcome to Haven Harbor, Massachusetts!

In 1691, a group of renegade witches fled Salem in the dark of night, escaping the desperate evil that spawned the Witch Trials. They struck out to form their own town, with their own rules. Three hundred years later, their descendants celebrate by retracing those steps, but this year, a new evil stalks the Witches Walk…

It’s Time for The Witches Walk!

She’s got a plan. Burned out, beaten down, and on the brink of a career implosion, event management dynamo Mari Beecham bypasses the contract of a lifetime to take a job in a community known for its strange, spooky happenings. She doesn’t buy into the story line about the witches founding the town, but it’s great publicity. Bottom line? If she can make the annual Witches Walk a top destination event, she’ll save her career and, maybe, find some balance. She’ll do it, too, if “First Son of Haven Harbor” Peregrine Hestworth will stop interfering. 

He’s in her way. As Town Council chair, Pere is serious about the safety and welfare of his people. He doesn’t want to like Mari. Even if he didn’t suspect his meddlesome mother of weaving a matchmaking spell, he still would have voted against hiring the petite whirlwind with a spine of steel. His visions of fire and death moving to Haven Harbor along with Mari are too deadly to ignore. 

As trouble brews and the event stalls, the attraction between Mari and Pere bubbles like a cauldron. When a woman is attacked, and another disappears, Pere knows his unreliable foresight has hit the mark this time. An old evil is rising, with a new vendetta, and if they can’t work together, the devastation Pere foresees will take his town, along with the woman he’s coming to love. 

 

MY REVIEW

A fun read and worth four and a half stars, just a breath shy of perfect for the genre, a paranormal romance thriller/murder-mystery mix. The book starts off slow, but builds to its lightning-packed conclusion, giving you time to get to know the town and people. 

This very appropriate first book for a promising series introduces several potential singles you get to like and look forward to seeing in future books finding their true loves. (I really want Jake and Dan to get HEAs, and Jeff and Lydia too when I think about it.) Two more books of the series are already out when I read this in August 2017 – but only as physical books and I soooo want to read them right now. Kindle has spoiled me. Oh, and the potential romances aren’t the only thing I want to follow forward – whether a certain witch finds herself an apprentice, seeing what the background big-bad has planned for its next attack, and, of course, exploring the really cool magick of the Haven Harbor Witches.

The first half of the book is about relationships being developed – welcoming a new person into town, power plays, family dynamics, and planning events. The second part is where the romance and the thriller action goes from the smoldering-tinder-gently-fed-hoping-a-spark-will-catch level to out-of-control bonfires. Ms. Adams somehow keeps both bonfires roaring without one consuming the other.

A good read and I think the next in the series, now the world has been established, will be even better.

Time to Read: About seven hours.

Flash: Presentation

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Natalie paced. The cubicle wasn’t large enough to contain her energy and the tech desperately trying to return her computer to working order. The clock on the wall slowly counted the seconds as the boy with the cute butt crawled under her desk. Somehow, at the same time, the clock quickly ticked the minutes to her morning meeting.

She had completed her presentation. Stored it as required on Thursday. Now as Monday passed into Tuesday, she had no access. She had to have it .The presentation would ace her performance review. Her first one ever since getting her MBA. The one to move her from glorified data entry into the management fast track. She knew it. She could taste it.

“Maybe we should call one of the real computer guys in.”

“If you want to wait until morning, not a problem.” The tenor voice bounced off the underside of her desk. “They upgraded the system over the weekend, shoving in damn near 50 hours of rewiring and testing while everyone was off for the three-day holiday. Hell, they slept on the receptionist’s couch. Today they showed up at 6 am and stayed until 9 pm working out bugs. Unless you are the CEO, they ain’t answering the phone. And even that is questionable. Those dudes are comatose.”

“I know, I know.” She cursed her luck. Her sister had used the holiday to get married, so Natalie had flown across the country. Thunderstorms grounded her return plane on Sunday. Her rescheduling didn’t resolve until late on Monday. Hence arriving at the office close to midnight to discover her computer did not work. “Are you sure you can fix it?”

“I may not work on the helpdesk here, but I’ve done lots of computer trouble-shooting.” The guy scooted from under her desk. His longish brown hair could use a trim, and his blue jeans, now covered in dirt, screamed the casual attitude imbedded in the night-time call center operators.  “You’re just lucky someone knew to call me.”

“If you say so.”

“You of little faith.” The guy masterfully pushed the button to start her CPU before plopping in her chair. She would need to brush the dust and cobwebs off before sitting down. With the time rapidly closing on three am, she did not have time to go home for another business suit

The computer rebooted with its normal glacial speed. Not understanding what the screen messages meant, she stared at his face. It was very expressive, letting her know he thought everything was going well.

His face was also nice. Pleasant. Sharp cheekbones balanced a strong chin. His overlong bangs drooped over his brown eyes. His T-shirt declared he was a “100% Pure Jenius”. He had no idea how to dress for success, but his clothes had been in good repair until he went crawling through the grime on her behalf. His body was also a little past average attractiveness. Slim but muscular. The T-shirt hung loose enough she didn’t know if he had a six-pack or suffered the results of six packs. But his arms were sinewy, and the jeans left no doubt about his tight ass. Natalie always had a thing for good butts.

“And there we go.” The twenty-something male popped out her chair. “Applause and compliments accepted.”

“No, really?!?” She took the vacated seat, temporarily forgetting the dirt in her eagerness and relief. A few quick clicks sent twelve copies of her presentation to the printer. The shared printer’s hum echoed through the empty cubicle farm. “I can’t thank you enough.”

She turned in her chair to face the man braced in the opening of her not-quite wall. “Really, I owe you something. Have you had dinner, or lunch, or whatever meal break you guys have?”

He shook his head. “Nothing is open this late at night. We always pack, except Friday’s when we do a potluck thing.”

“Okay.” Natalie placed her hand gently on his arm. “Again, thank you. I really mean it.”

A considering look passed over the guys expressive face. “How about we meet somewhere after you get off work? You can tell me how the presentation went and buy me dinner.” His eyebrows wiggled. “You did say you owe me and I would love to know how this turns out.”

The guy was actually trying to score a date, a date where she paid. She laughed. “Dinner or breakfast?”

He shifted in the doorway to lean to one side. “My meals tend to be reversed. I grab breakfast on the way home and fall into bed. So how about it? Dinner? I can give you my phone number and you text me when and where to meet you. Or, if something else comes up, let me know I am on my own.”

“Why not? I do owe you something.” Natalie passed over a yellow Post-It pad and a pen.

(words 816 – first published 9/10/2013; republished new blog format 2/4/2018)

Other Cool Blogs: Writer Unboxed Feb 1, 2017

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A common recommendation to writers is to read outside their genre. Why? Exposure to other techniques which can enhance writing. Last year I shared a Horror blog revealing the secrets of monsters which easily has application in any genre forms with antagonists like Urban Fantasy or Thriller.

Writer Unboxed guest columnist Donald Maass (of the Donald Maass Literary Agency) wrote how to add A Touch of Romance to any genre. This is not a how-to write romance, but how to add a breath of love to a science-fiction or mystery. Whether the love is unrequited or triangle, young or old, new or mature, main character or secondary, romantic relationships add a level of realism to a story. Writers can exploit the emotional tool to raise the stakes or reduce the tension.

The list of question are perfect. Here are a few:

“Who in your story is single? Who wants love? Who can begin to love that character?”

See the whole list here: http://writerunboxed.com/2017/02/01/a-touch-of-romance/#more-46578. Remember to read the comments – Vaughn Roycroft is especially illuminating.

WRITING EXERCISE: From your stable of characters (either your present work-in-progress or previous flashes and shorts), pick a character not in a relationship and not looking for one. Create a flash where s/he has an encounter where a romance could develop if they choose to pursue the matter. Keep the original genre’s feel unless it is romance then change it up to strongly be one of the story’s subgenres. The point of the exercise is adding a touch of romance to a non-romance.

If you normally write romance, add a touch of horror to your romance instead. For a character who has the world on a string, create a flash with an encounter which adds a bit of scare.

Editing Rant: Know Your Genre

Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you want to write, you must read. If you want to write, read your genre. Many published authors remind writers to read outside their genre, but they are assuming people have immersed themselves in genre they write in.

First, you need to know your genre. Get to know its tropes; what are things people ignore in the genre and things which must be explained. What are the shorthand terms. Read recent books in the genre to know what is trending both in the brick-and-mortar industry and the self-published. Read classic books to know the history the genre is built on.

If you write superhero prose, do not have all the battles “off-screen”. If you have a romance, all affection cannot remain behind “closed doors”. In the science-fiction world, faster-than-light travel can be hand-waved but space stations nearly always are explained in detailed from how the gravity works and where spaceships dock to planetary connections for food and how many levels are within the structure.

If you can’t stand to read the genre long enough to understand the tropes and rules, don’t write it. Three manuscripts I reviewed this year – three fails: superhero prose with fights described after the fact in conversation – not a single “on-screen” battle, a “romance” where the couple never hugs or kisses, and sci-fi where the space station had less personality than an office building.

Read your genre – and outside of it (because, yeah, that is important too). Know the must-haves and the have-nots.

Flash: 50-Word Prompts (The Mouse Roars)

Image part of the Public Domain: Rodin “The Kiss”

Flash: 50-work – Prompts Two, Three, Four, Nine and Bonus

Below is the last of the fifty-word flashes; the second set of interrelated flashes. Plus I have added one bonus flash at the very end to round out this group. Hope you have enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed the day exploring rapid writing.

 

PROMPT TWO: Promptness

 “So, where’s the party?” Julie asked. 

Bradley laughed. “You’re always prompt. It starts six, but most people won’t arrive until eight. ”

Considering the guy she liked for so long, Julie shoved her shyness aside and asked in a sultry voice. “So what shall we do until everyone else arrives?” (words 50)

 

PROMPT THREE: Photo of Sunrise/Sunset

The party ended hours ago with a campfire and everyone taking turns at his telescope. Now to deal with the fallout, Brad thought as he tried to concentrate on the cans and bottles just becoming visible by the early morning sun and not think about the girl in his bed. (words 50)

 

PROMPT FOUR: Sated

Julie stretched, sated. Had that really been her? She ran through the night – no alcohol to blame it on – but nothing embarrassing either. She felt a little proud to throw off the quiet church mouse routine and ROAR. She hoped she could find the willpower to do it again. (words 50)

 

PROMPT NINE: Photo of Asian words translated … poorly

Bradley split the used beer recyclables between glass and aluminum. Bracing himself, he went to the final corner of the yard where couples temporarily retired. Are all those rubbers recyclable? Stupid question, Brad, and time to stop avoiding the issue. His bedroom guest should be up. (words 46)

 

BONUS 50-WORD FLASH: Rules

Julie’s shyness overcame her lion, “I should be gone by now, right? That’s why you left … Oh god, I don’t know any of the rules.”

Tilting up her face, Bradley responded, “I don’t think ‘rules’ are going to apply.”

The soft kiss spoke promises neither knew how to make. (words 50)

(Initially published 2/8/2013; published in new blog format 3/26/2017)