Stolen Magic,Book 2 of my long out of print Guardian paranormal historical trilogy, will be released tomorrow (September 8th) in ebook and print. (The audio is already available.) As with all my stories with fantasy elements, I use the name M. J. Putney to differentiate them from straight historical romances.
The Characters and Story:
Duncan Macrae, the hero of book 1, A Kiss of Fate, is dark and Scottish and literally a force of nature, a weather mage who could call the winds and change the course of battles. His lady, Gwynne Owens, is English and a Guardian who thinks she has little magic. Until passion unlocks her powers, which are great enough make her Duncan's match, and his nemesis.
Simon, Lord Falconer, the hero of Stolen Magic, is English, blond, and very different from his close friend, Duncan Macrae. As the chief enforcer of the Guardians, he is known for his immense power combined with rigorous control and integrity. This makes Simon respected, feared, and sometimes hated. He believes he is doomed to be forever alone until a mission to punish the rogue Guardian Lord Drayton goes horribly wrong and he is transformed into a unicorn.
Simon escapes with the aid of Meg, another of Drayton's victims. She's a mysterious sprite with wild magic unlike anything Simon has ever seen before, and she can temporarily restore him to his human form. They pledge to do whatever is necessary to bring down Drayton. The need for each other’s magic binds them together–and releases the more ancient magic of passion. But even the combined powers of Simon and Meg may not be enough to stave off catastrophe for all Britain. Only a desperate act of love may win back the future–or destroy all they hold dear.
The original Del Rey cover above is quite pretty and has both a haunted image of a woman and a silhouetted unicorn. But I wanted a different look for this series.
Kim Killion found the Stolen Magic image when we started work on the covers for this trilogy. I liked the intensity, the Georgian costume, and the way the guy is leaning over the desk. Simon is an engineer among other things, and I thought this picture really captured the right look. Kim did some of her Photoshop magic on the background, so Stolen Magic became the inspiration for all three covers, with intense men, dark backgrounds, and night fires. I think they work beautifully!
An Excerpt from when Simon confronts Lord Drayton:
“If it isn’t the esteemed Lord Falconer, dressed as a highwayman,” Drayton said dryly. “I’ve wondered when you would come after me. I expected you sooner.”
“I take my time when I collect my evidence.” Simon’s voice was cool, but a warning bell sounded in his mind. It wasn’t natural for a mage to be so relaxed when confronted by the Guardian Council’s enforcer. “Not that it was difficult in your case. Lately you’ve made little attempt to conceal your transgressions of Guardian law.”
Simon pulled a folded document from an inside pocket and dropped it on the desk. “Here is a listing of what I know and can prove, though I have no doubt there is much more. You have used your power with greed and selfishness, and injured many innocents in the process.” He shook his head, still amazed at the other man’s callousness. “How could you encourage the Jacobite rising, knowing how many would die? Didn’t those sundered souls cause you pain?”
“Not particularly. Few of the dead were any great loss to mankind.”
Simon clamped down on the anger triggered by the other man’s words. Loss of control would put him at a disadvantage. “I suggest you consult the charging documents. If there is anything you would like to dispute, now is the time.”
Drayton skimmed the pages. “Admirably thorough.” His brows arched when he read the last page. “I didn’t think you’d discover that. Well done. You’re a credit to your lineage.” He dropped the papers back on his desk. “As you suspected, this is not a complete list of my wicked deeds, but it’s quite enough for your purposes.”
This interview was going all wrong. Drayton acted as if he was invulnerable, yet his magical power had never been more than average . Silently Simon began to scan the room, seeking dangerous anomalies. Aloud, he said, “As you know, there are two stages of censure. You freely admit that you have violated Guardian laws. Are you prepared to swear on your blood that you will never do so again?”
Drayton smiled lazily. “You can’t imagine that I will do that.”
“And if you did, I can’t imagine you keeping your word,” Simon said dryly. “You leave me no choice but to forcibly strip your powers from you.”
“Strip away, Falconer.” Drayton’s eyes narrowed. “If you can.”
Simon hesitated a moment—the process of destroying another person’s magical powers was not pleasant for either party, and was very seldom invoked. His intuition was also on high alert—Drayton’s reaction to this confrontation made no sense. Simon detected a very small thread of energy running from Drayton to an unknown destination, but there was nothing else out of order. Why was the other man so confident…?
Drayton stretched a magic-hazed hand toward a desk drawer. Seeing through the spell, Simon stared incredulously as the other man pulled out a pistol. Did Drayton really think such a crude defense would be enough to protect him from justice?
With a swift movement of his hand to channel the energy, Simon destroyed the pistol’s internal mechanism—and in the same instant, he was blasted by a magic power unlike anything he had ever experienced. Every fiber of his being was under attack, being ripped asunder.
As he gasped for breath, he realized that he was falling, unable to save himself, much less fight back. Drayton had pulled the pistol to distract Simon from the real attack. But where the bloody blue hell was the bastard getting such power? This was immense, far greater than anything the rogue had ever shown. Such power didn’t come from nowhere.
He managed to evoke his inner senses and was startled to see that the fine thread of energy he’d seen attached to Drayton earlier had become a river of fire. Raw power poured into Drayton, who channeled it into searing waves that enveloped Simon. Agonized, he thrashed about on the floor, feeling as if he was burning alive. His limbs were being torn and reforged as in a blacksmith’s fire. His pulse hammered in his ears, almost drowning the sound of Drayton’s laughter and a strange, ripping noise.
“I have waited a long time to do this, Falconer,” the other man hissed. “In your arrogance, you thought you could take me. Instead, I am taking you.”
More energy scorched through Simon, shocking as a lightning bolt. Was this death? But he has always thought death would be a quiet welcome, not this hell of agony and flames.
The last jolt of transforming power knocked him into blackness. Then, mercifully, the pain began to ebb away. Guessing that he had been unconscious only a moment, he struggled to regain his feet. But his body was unfamiliar, awkward. He was pushing himself up not with arms, but—with forelegs?
Wondering if he was dreaming, he forced himself upright, and saw that his view of the room was curiously distorted. But no dream could feel so real. The scents of books and ink and dust were sharply intense, and he ached in every muscle.
He turned, and almost tripped over his own feet. His body was no longer his own. He looked down, having to turn his head to see. Impossibly, he saw four cloven-hoofed legs tangled in black fabric—the torn remnants of his clothing. Fighting panic, he looked around and saw that Drayton was visibly gloating.
Fear washed through Simon as he recognized the vicious malice in the other man’s expression. He backed away from Drayton, his tail lashing.
Frantically he swung his head, somehow managing to bang his forehead on the bookcase behind him. Ignoring the pain, he stared into the mirror above the mantel.
Looking back at him was a shimmering white unicorn.
"(A) spellbinding romantic fantasy…" Publishers Weekly
"(An) enchanting blend of fantasy and romance." Booklist Starred Review
Click here for more information about Stolen Magic, including a different excerpt.
I'll give away an ebook of Stolen Magic to one person who comments on this post between now and Friday night, but sadly I can't make this international because of Amazon technical restrictions.
If you're in the mood for magic and unicorns and happy endings, try and enjoy!