Saturday, October 29, 2016

Saturday's Series Spotlight: Hexworld by Jordan L Hawk


The 13th Hex #.5
Summary:
Romance. Magic.
Murder.

Dominic Kopecky dreamed of becoming a member of New York’s Metropolitan Witch Police—a dream dashed when he failed the test for magical aptitude. Now he spends his days drawing the hexes the MWP relies on for their investigations.

But when a murder by patent hex brings crow familiar Rook to his desk, Dominic can’t resist the chance to experience magic. And as the heat grows between Dominic and Rook, so does the danger. Because the case has been declared closed—and someone is willing to kill to keep it that way.

The 13th Hex is the prequel short story to the all-new Hexworld series. If you like shifters, magic, and romance, you’ll love Jordan L. Hawk’s world of witch policemen and the familiars they bond with.

NOTE: This is a previously published work. The title, author, and/or publisher may have changed.

The 13th Hex was originally published as part of the Charmed & Dangerous anthology. Only minor details have been altered for this reissue.


Hexbreaker #1
Summary:
Will a dark history doom their future together?

New York copper Tom Halloran is a man with a past. If anyone finds out he once ran with the notorious O’Connell tunnel gang, he’ll spend the rest of his life doing hard time behind bars. But Tom’s secret is threatened when a horrible murder on his beat seems to have been caused by the same ancient magic that killed his gang.

Cat shifter Cicero is determined to investigate the disappearance of one friend and the death of another, even though no one else believes the cases are connected. When the trail of his investigation crosses Tom’s, the very bohemian Cicero instinctively recognizes the uncultured Irish patrolman as his witch. Though they’re completely unsuited to one another, Cicero has no choice but to work alongside Tom…all the while fighting against the passion growing within.

Tom knows that taking Cicero as his familiar would only lead to discovery and disaster. Yet as the heat between them builds, Tom’s need for the other man threatens to overcome every rational argument against becoming involved.

But when their investigation uncovers a conspiracy that threatens all of New York, Tom must make the hardest decision of his life: to live a lie and gain his heart’s desire, or to confess the truth and sacrifice it all.

Hexmaker #2
Summary:
A straight-laced policeman. A lighthearted thief.
A murdered millionaire.

Fox shifter Malachi steals for one of the biggest crime rings in New York City. But when he witnesses the murder of a millionaire, the only person who can keep him safe is Dr. Owen Yates, forensic hexman for the Metropolitan Witch Police—and Malachi’s witch.

Owen is horrified to discover his familiar is an uneducated thief. Even worse, Malachi threatens to unleash Owen’s deepest desires…desires Owen can’t act upon, as he’s destined for an arranged marriage to secure the Yates family fortune

Their agreement: Malachi will be Owen’s lover as well as his partner, until the day of the wedding. But as their hunt for the murderer carries them from teeming slums to Fifth Avenue mansions, Owens begins to realize Malachi commands his heart as well as his body.

With dark forces drawing ever closer around them, Owen must decide whether to bow to the demands of duty, or to risk everything for the man he loves.

Hexmaker is the second book in Jordan L. Hawk’s Hexworld series, following the adventures of witch policemen and the familiars they bond with. Download today to enter a world of magic, romance, and intrigue. 

The 13th Hex #.5
I'll start off by saying that I did not read this in the original anthology Charmed & Dangerous.  The thought of a new series by the great Jordan L Hawk is a great way to start any day so when I woke and found The 13th Hex on my Kindle, I jumped at it.  I love paranormal, witchcraft, magic, mystery, historicals, and romance so when they are all wrapped in one, I am in reader heaven.  Normally, a novella would automatically be docked half a bookmark because of it's shortness but when the storytelling is this good, I just could not in good conscience not give it a full 5.  Dominic and Rook are the perfect witchcrafting detecting pair.  Unlike Miss Hawk's Whyborne & Griffin and Spirits series, it looks like Hexworld will feature a different witch/familiar pair with each story, which for me can some times make starting the next book a little more trying and takes a few chapters to "get into" the story but I still look forward to Cicero & Tom's story in the next Hexworld on May 6, 2016.

Hexbreaker #1
She has done it again!  Jordan L Hawk is a master storyteller, her attention to historical detail coupled with paranormal flare, has created another amazing world filled with magic, murder, mystery, and love that has strengthened my respect and overflowed the WOW-ness cup I like to think sits in my library.  Her Hexworld universe may not have quite reached her world of Whyborne & Griffin yet but it is definitely well on it's way.  When a series centers on a different pairing for each book, it often takes a couple of chapters for me to get hooked, and Hexbreaker wasn't any different but before I was finished with chapter two, Cicero and Tom had me in a full on can't-put-this-down mode.  I am now sitting on pins and needles waiting for the next installment.

Hexmaker #2
Once again Jordan L Hawk has stepped into the world of historical paranormal/fantasy and done it so amazingly that you feel it's the world you are living in every day.  Mal and Owen have that spark from the very beginning, problem is Owen is set to marry in just a few days, add to that Owen's family is among the elite of New York, their future doesn't show much potential.  Despite what's stacked against them, Owen accepts Mal as his familiar but what that means for them, you'll have to read Hexmaker yourself and trust me, you will want to.  The blend of history with the paranormal world that Jordan has once again dived into will leave you spellbound and even if you are not a usual history lover it will leave you wanting to check a few things out for yourself.  I look forward to the next installment.

RATING: 

The 13th Hex #.5
“Now the fun begins,” Rook said, and toppled backward off the building.

Dominic leapt forward with a strangled cry. An instant later, a black shape soared back up out of the abyss between buildings, feathers gleaming the light of sunset.

“Close your eyes and concentrate on me.”

Dominic gasped. It was as though Rook had spoken directly in his ear, even though he currently swooped idle loops above the roof. How could such a thing be?

Magic. For the first time in his life, he was truly touching magic.

He did as ordered. Instantly, he found himself flying.

No, he wasn’t flying—he still felt the building firmly beneath his feet. But seeing the world through Rook’s eyes was the next best thing.

New York spread out beneath them, the setting sun casting a golden glow across the jumble of buildings. A flock of pigeons startled into the air as Rook passed over their roosting place.

Then they were spiraling down, down, between the cliffs of the buildings and toward the street. Dominic’s heart beat faster, and a cry rose to his lips.

But he didn’t open his eyes.

At the last moment, Rook pulled out of the dive, gliding low over the heads of the crowd. His claws scraped the hat of a cab driver, and Dominic heard the outraged shout as they swooped away.

Rook’s wings beat hard, taking them higher. The tangle of wires laced across the sky provided both obstacle and challenge. Rook danced among them, each easy flick of feather twisting him like an acrobat. This was freedom—freedom and wonder and the sheer joy of being alive.

Rook circled back and Dominic had the disorienting experience of seeing himself through the familiar’s eyes. Dominic blinked hastily, just in time to see Rook flutter in and land on human feet.

“Did you enjoy?” Rook asked hopefully.

A laugh of wild delight bubbled up in Dominic. Without thought, as naturally as breathing, he stepped forward and slid his arms around Rook.

Rook’s eyes widened slightly, and for a fraction of an instant Dominic thought he’d misunderstood everything. Then Rook kissed him.

Hexbreaker #1
“That means I can—can do something to let you see through my eyes,” Cicero went on. “You wouldn’t be with me physically, but you’d know if I got into trouble and needed rescue. Would that be enough?”

“Some sort of hex?” Tom asked, confused.

“No. It doesn’t matter now—there’s no time.” Cicero tugged against his hold. “Decide.”

“Aye. What you suggested—let’s do it.”

Cicero took a deep breath. “Then go down on your knees and close your eyes.”

Tom obeyed. He heard Cicero’s slow exhale—then felt the softness of lips against the fragile skin of his right eyelid.

Cicero’s hand caressed the side of his face. “Let me in, Thomas,” he whispered, then kissed the other eyelid.

The fine hairs on Tom’s skin stood straight up, as if he’d been exposed to a lightning strike. Sparks flashed in the darkness behind his closed eyes. Strangely, the taste of blood filled his mouth, then was gone again.

Tom’s heart raced, and he felt Cicero, bending over him. Breath on Tom’s cheek. And he couldn’t keep himself from tipping his head back and finding Cicero’s lips with his own.

For a moment, Cicero didn’t respond, his mouth still against Tom’s. Then suddenly he was kissing back, tongue darting against Tom’s lips. Tom parted them tentatively, and Cicero slipped in, exploring his mouth, then daring Tom to do the same in return.

Hexmaker #2
Chapter 1
Malachi glanced casually back and forth along the alleyway, checking for any watching eyes. Earlier rain had left the pavement damp, and a brisk wind funneled down the narrow slot between mansions, biting through his threadbare coat. The electric lights of Fifth Avenue barely penetrated the shadows where he stood, but even in human form his night vision was better than the average person’s. Not as good as when he put on his fur, of course, but he needed hands for tonight’s work.

He stepped back and inspected the side of the gothic revival mansion in front of him. He’d already looked it over half a dozen times, slinking down the alley in fox form at night, or boldly strolling to the servants’ entrance while disguised as an eyeglasses peddler during the day. The latter ruse had gotten him access to the kitchens, where he’d met a particular maid with a black eye and a grudge against her employer.

Still, he hadn’t stayed out of the hands of the coppers by not being careful. The wall looming above him was clad in pale yellow marble, though no fancy carvings or fantastic gargoyles looked out over an alley that would only be seen by servants and tradesmen. The windows on this side mostly opened onto servants’ passages and quarters, and all showed only darkness.

The sound of clopping hooves and the rumble of carriage wheels echoed even at this late hour, but distantly. There was some sort of dinner party going on further down Millionaires’ Row, but no one stirred in any of the neighboring mansions so far as Mal could tell. Everyone either out or tucked safely into bed until morning.

Perfect.

Mal removed the shoes he’d worn on the trip over and pushed them against the downspout, which would hopefully help conceal them. A second pair of shoes waited in the small satchel he carried, and he slung them around his neck by their knotted laces. The satchel he placed in the deep shadows. Sophie stood lookout near the entrance to the alley, so it ought to be safe from any thief happening by.

Any other thief, that is.

He shimmied up the downspout with the ease of long practice, until he reached the second floor window. Even though the narrow window only provided light and air to a servants’ passage, it still bore an alarm hex. Guaranteed to stop any thief, the ads claimed…so long as said thief didn’t know the disarming phrase, at least.

Leaning close to the cold glass, Mal whispered, “The robb’d that smiles, steals something from the thief; He robs himself that spends a bootless grief.”

The bit of Shakespeare didn’t make any obvious difference, but unless the maid who’d given him the phrase had lied, the alarm hex ought to be disarmed now. A quick application of a jimmy, and he was in.

Mal paused, half over the sill, listening for any sounds of disturbance. Nothing came to his ears, so he slithered the rest of the way inside and pulled the window shut behind him. He removed the shoes from around his neck, unknotted the laces, and slipped them on. One of the witches in Madam Galpern’s pay had drawn hexes on the soles, before he and Sophie made their way over here. The chalk would wear off with every step, so he needed to move quickly and directly as possible.

He counted himself lucky Madam Galpern had given him the job, let alone the hexes. She’d been introducing him to witches for the last three years, hoping he’d meet one he liked enough to bond with. She hadn’t pressured him, but he knew she had her hopes up. More magic was always useful, both in her legitimate profession as a haberdasher and her less legitimate profession at the center of the East Side’s largest ring of thieves.

But she’d come through for him, just as she always did. Other than Sophie, no one else had ever seen much use in him, and he was damned fortunate to work for her.

Sophie had done her own bit with the maid of a frequent guest of Mrs. Jacobs, and passed along the second floor layout to Mal. He pictured the rough map he’d memorized earlier, then hurried down the passage to a discreet door. The hexed shoes made no sound against the wood, and the boards failed to creak beneath his weight.

According to Sophie, Jacobs was storing his new acquisitions in the library while sorting through them. Moving on his soundless shoes, Mal slipped out of the servants’ passage into the main house. The door hinges were oiled to silence, no doubt to avoid an outburst of Jacobs’s infamous temper, allowing Mal to pass like a ghost.

Even in the dim light leaking from the street, the room he found himself in took his breath away. Decorative woodwork covered the eggshell walls, all of it gilded. The furniture matched: spindly legged tables, carved to within an inch of their lives and covered in gold leaf, no less than two couches and a half dozen chairs of the same sort, a piano, and a sideboard. Luxurious carpets concealed most of the floor. Four huge bouquets of hothouse flowers perfumed the air.

Amazing to think anyone lived like this, when only a few blocks away thousands of people were packed into the tenements of the Tenderloin district. The tiny flat he shared with two others above a saloon would fit into this one room a dozen times over. According to the crude map Sophie had drawn, this was the “petite” salon. The grand salon was twice the size.

A small snuffbox, crusted with diamonds, sat on one of the delicate tables. Mal was here for one thing, and one thing only: a golden pendant wrested from some pharaoh’s tomb. How Madam Galpern meant to sell such a recognizable object, he didn’t know—that was her business, not his. Some other collector, probably, who just wanted the thing to look at.

Taking anything else, even something as portable as the snuffbox, might someday be used to link him to tonight’s work. But it was sitting right there, diamonds winking in the faint light coming through the window panes. Even if he couldn’t sell off the whole thing, prizing out the gems would buy more than a few drinks at Caballus.

He snatched it up and put it in his pocket. Madam Galpern would know how to sell it, and if she didn’t, there were plenty of other fences in New York.

Mal let himself into the hall—lined with oil paintings probably worth enough to buy the whole block he lived on. The door to the library stood open a crack, and a thin beam of light fell through it. Mal froze at the sight.

Someone was awake after all. An under servant, hoping to get a look at his employer’s new treasures? Jacobs himself, in search of a bit of late-night reading?

Either way, he had only two choices. The first was to go back the way he’d come, slip outside, collect Sophie, and try another night. Which meant their cut of the job would be even smaller, because they’d have to pay for new hexes on his shoes. Mal was already behind on his rent—though of course, the diamond snuffbox would help with that.

Or he could stay. See who was in there, and maybe wait for them to leave. Whoever they were, they’d probably just go back to bed once they were finished. He wouldn’t get caught.

Holding his breath, Mal slunk to the door. Pressing his eye to the crack, he peered inside.

The steady blue glow of hexlights showed a room whose two-story-high walls were lined with books. Most of the desks and furniture inside had been pushed back to make room for a large number of packing crates. Some had already been opened and their contents piled on the floor or the desks. An entire mummy case, a bowl that looked cast from solid silver, a marble statue, and dozens of golden rings and arm bands—and that was just what Mal could see from the door.

He could also see the edge of what looked like a spreading pool of blood.

What the devil? Had someone been hurt? The servants hated Jacobs for good reason. Had he found one of them in here, admiring what they weren’t entitled to, and flown into a rage?

Mal ought to turn around and go back the way he’d come. But it was the middle of the night. If the person in the room was badly hurt, they might die if no one found them before morning.

He had to at least check.

Holding his breath, Mal pushed the door open and slipped inside.

A man in a nightshirt lay sprawled across the marble floor, a dropped pistol not far from his hand. Blood spread from his head, which looked oddly misshapen. A heavy alabaster vase lay beside him, covered in red.

Mal’s fingers turned to ice, and his heart knocked against his ribs. His feet seemed to move without his volition, carrying him across the floor to crouch beside the man. If the fellow was dead, Mal was leaving, Madam Galpern’s pendant be damned. If not…Mal wasn’t certain what he’d do. Sneak out and shout for help from the street, maybe. Find some way to rouse the house so the poor bugger could get assistance.

A flicker of movement out of the corner of his eye caught Mal’s attention. He spun and found a man standing behind him.

*****

Mal caught a confused impression of a narrow face and hair as red as his own, of hands holding something square and metal—maybe with the intent of bashing in Mal’s skull just as the other fellow’s had been.

He acted on instinct, exploding up from his crouch and ramming his head into the man’s stomach. All the air left the man’s lungs in a whoosh, and he fell backward, the object tumbling from his grip.

It hit the marble floor and burst apart. What looked like clockwork gears rolled in every direction, tracing trails through the pool of blood, and flat metal plates clattered hellishly loud over the inlaid floor.

The man snarled in fury. He started to reach for the parts, then stopped, perhaps realizing there was no point. Locking his eyes on Mal’s, he backed up against the wall, to where a display case containing other treasures had been moved to make room for the new shipment.

Then he reached out and deliberately wrenched open the case.

The alarm hex went off instantly. An eerie voice rose in a disembodied wail: “Thief! Thief! Thief!”

Why the fellow had deliberately set off an alarm, Mal couldn’t guess and wasn’t going to wait to find out. He bolted out of the room and down the hall, all thought of concealment or subtlety banished. Other, more human, voices raised in alarm to join that of the hex. The sound of running feet in the service passage caused Mal to veer off, just in time for a maid to throw open the door and let out a scream at the sight of him.

Damn it.

He raced for the front of the house. Two men in nightshirts made their way down the hall leading to the foyer, blocking Mal’s path.

“Stop!” one shouted. “Thief! He’s here!”

Mal didn’t slow, instead charging directly at them. Between one heartbeat and the next, he shifted into his fox shape. Instantly the hall became brighter, and the men loomed above him, their flailing arms high over his head. He slid between the legs of one, the hem of the nightshirt catching on his ears as he shot through the gap.

“A familiar!” the man bellowed. “He’s a fox! Stop him!”

Mal raced full out for the balcony overlooking the foyer a story below. An enormous chandelier hung down from high above, and an elegant staircase curved along one wall of the oval room. A half-dressed footman crouched at the top of the stairs, blocking Mal’s escape even in this form.

If he was caught, would they believe he wasn’t in on it with the murderer? Or would the judge take one look at a redheaded Irishman and send him to the chair?

Best not to find out. Mal leapt for the balcony railing, shifting back to human form. One foot hit the rail, propelling him into the vast space of the foyer, its marble floor waiting twenty feet below.

He caught the edge of the chandelier in both hands.  It swung beneath his weight: the iron hanger loop groaned, the crystals chimed, and plaster flaked down from the ceiling. For a moment, Mal feared he’d made a terrible mistake, and the whole thing would come crashing down on top of him.

It held. Mal swung with the chandelier, letting go as it reached the apex of its arc, momentum propelling him to the stairs. He slid down the polished oak bannister to the ground floor, even as the angry servants ran shouting down the stairs after him.

The huge front door lay before him. Sophie would have fled at the first sign of alarm within the house. All he had to do was get onto the street, shift into fox shape, and run until he reached the tenements a few blocks away. They’d never find him amidst the masses of humanity packed into the Tenderloin.

He flung back the bolt, ignoring the shrieking of yet another alarm hex as he hauled open the great door. Sprinting down the steps, he cast one last look over his shoulder—

And ran straight into a solid body. Hands closed on his arms, and he found himself staring directly at a broad, blue uniformed chest.

“Hold up there, boyo,” the copper said.

“Let me go!” Mal cried, struggling to free himself.

An instant later, his back was pressed against the nearest lamppost, pinned there by the copper’s larger bulk. “Running from a house with the alarm hexes shrieking fit to wake the dead?” Handcuffs snapped into place around Mal’s wrists. “You’re under arrest. Now, let’s drag you inside and see just what it is I’m charging you with.”

*****

Owen Yates stepped onto the curb, checking his pocket watch. Nearly midnight—hours wasted at his mother’s dinner party, when they would have been better spent in his laboratory at the Coven. He was so close to a breakthrough on a poison detection hex, which would indicate not just that a person had been poisoned, but identify the substance used. If he could only work out a reliable method for each of the common poisons, he might even be able to chain them together into a single hex. With such a hex, a doctor would have a chance to provide the right antidote in time, should the victim survive long enough.

Time was running out. If he wanted to make a positive contribution to the Metropolitan Witch Police—a lasting contribution—it had to be within the next six days.

One week from today, he would marry Edith Vandersee. It was one thing for the middle son of the Yates family to temporarily work at the MWP—after all, Roosevelt himself had been on the Police Board for a time. But after his elder brother, Peter, had his accident, Owen became the heir. His days at the Coven had been numbered, even before the engagement.

Once their brief honeymoon to Europe ended, Owen would join her father’s business and spend his days working on industrial hexes. Or, more likely, looking over those produced by the hexmen the business employed, making sure they worked as needed, and patenting them before someone else could.

At least tonight’s dinner party had been a small one, with less than a hundred guests in attendance. But then, the season wouldn’t truly begin until after Thanksgiving. The wedding would be something of an opening event.

One week from today.

Edith was a kind woman. They were on good terms, having known each other since childhood. He’d gone to university at the same time as her older brother, Kirk. He would marry her and put aside his selfish dreams. Put aside the weaknesses that haunted him, the desires no one else must ever know about.

A carriage waited on the curb to take him to his apartment on the west side of town. As he stepped toward it, there came the clatter of hooves, the rumble of a conveyance traveling fast up Fifth Avenue. He paused to look, and was startled to see an MWP wagon rush past.

Frowning, he ignored the waiting carriage and walked to the corner. The house belonging to the Jacobs family was ablaze with light, as if someone had activated every hexlight in the place.

They hadn’t been invited to Mother’s little get together—Mr. Jacobs had tastelessly outbid Adam Vandersee, Owen’s future father-in-law, for…Owen couldn’t recall what. Both men were inveterate collectors of art and antiquities, and cycled through periods of enmity and friendship based on the outcome of various auctions. Perhaps Mrs. Jacobs had decided to host a competing party, even though doing so would risk complete social ostracism?

But no. The MWP wagon pulled to a stop outside, and a man in a blue uniform descended the stairs to meet it.

Owen ought to go home. Climb into the carriage and ask to be taken directly to the front door of his apartment building. He was a forensic hexman, not a detective. He’d never even been at a crime scene, unless one counted the horrible events of New Year’s. Evidence came to him, not the other way around.

There was so little time left.

“I won’t be needing your services after all,” he told the carriage driver. Clutching his top hat to keep it from falling off, he jogged down the street to the Jacobs residence.

“Don’t know if this is anything for your lot or not,” the patrolman in the blue uniform was saying when Owen arrived. “There were hexes involved for sure, but it might just be a straightforward case of robbery gone wrong.”

“What’s the trouble?” Owen asked. “Dr. Owen Yates, MWP. I might—oh.” To his surprise, he recognized the patrolman. “Bill Quigley, isn’t it?”

Quigley looked equally startled, but nodded. “Aye, Dr. Yates. Wasn’t expecting them to send a hexman over along with MacDougal here.”

Ah, yes; MacDougal had returned from the recent war with Spain. Owen vaguely remembered hearing the news. “Oh, no; I was at a party.” Owen waved at the Yates mansion. “At my parents’ house. I saw the commotion and thought I might be of assistance.”

MacDougal and Quigley exchanged a glance. MacDougal shrugged. “I’m just here for the body, sir.”

“The body?” Owen asked.

“Aye.” Quigley nodded. “Mr. Jacobs was murdered by an intruder less than an hour ago. The good news is, we already have the killer in custody.”

God. Mr. Jacobs. Owen had known the man only socially, which meant he’d seen the fellow five or six times a year, then been expected to pretend that was enough to forge a lasting connection. He felt no particular sense of loss, but still…

The man was a millionaire. Not only a millionaire, but one with the requisite three generations separation from the original maker of the fortune, a distinction necessary to achieve real social status among the elite of New York. Men like Jacobs didn’t get murdered in their homes.

There would be a panic. A scandal. The fate of the accused would be decided long before any trial.

“I see,” Owen said. “May I view the scene?”

Author Bio:
Jordan L. Hawk grew up in the wilds of North Carolina, where she was raised on stories of haints and mountain magic by her bootlegging granny and single mother. After using a silver knife in the light of a full moon to summon her true love, she turned her talents to spinning tales. She weaves together couples who need to fall in love, then throws in some evil sorcerers and undead just to make sure they want it bad enough. In Jordan’s world, love might conquer all, but it just as easily could end up in the grave.

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The 13th Hex #.5
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Charmed & Dangerous
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Hexbreaker #1
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Hexmaker #2
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