Magic in Manhattan #1
“[O]ne of my favorite books of 2019. Magic, found family, the grumpy one is soft for the sunshine one!”
– Cat Sebastian, best-selling author of the Regency Imposters series
Runner-up, Best Paranormal Romance
ReadRChat 2019 Awards
To save Manhattan, they’ll have to save each other first…
Arthur Kenzie’s life’s work is protecting the world from the supernatural relics that could destroy it. When an amulet with the power to control the tides is shipped to New York, he must intercept it before it can be used to devastating effects. This time, in order to succeed, he needs a powerful psychometric…and the only one available has sworn off his abilities altogether.
Rory Brodigan’s gift comes with great risk. To protect himself, he’s become a recluse, redirecting his magic to find counterfeit antiques. But with the city’s fate hanging in the balance, he can’t force himself to say no.
Being with Arthur is dangerous, but Rory’s ever-growing attraction to him begins to make him brave. And as Arthur coaxes him out of seclusion, a magical and emotional bond begins to form. One that proves impossible to break—even when Arthur sacrifices himself to keep Rory safe and Rory must risk everything to save him.
One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!
This book is approximately 75,000 words
Out now! Find SPELLBOUND at:
Now available in AUDIOBOOK!
“Allie Therin created some exceptional characters and an amazing world and Bloomquist made them all come alive and transported you to 1925 New York.“
– Love Bytes Reviews
Audible | Kobo | IndieBound | Libro.fm | Google Play | Audiobooks.com | AudiobookSTORE | Hoopla | Scribd
And stay tuned for
Magic in Manhattan #2
coming May 18, 2020!
Readers seeking content warnings can find them here.
ReadRchat Awards, Runner-up, Best PNR 2019 | Joyfully Jay (a Best of 2019)
Dear Author (a Best of 2019) | The Novel Approach (a Best of 2019)
Love Bytes (a Best of 2019) | Mirrigold (a Best of 2019)
Evie’s Reveries | Gay Book Reviews | The Romance Reviews
The Nerd Daily | SyFy FANGRRLS
“[A]n exciting plot paired with fascinating magic makes this a solid and enjoyable start to the series.” – Library Journal
“[S]o good that I’m still thinking about it two months later.” – Dana Staves, Book Riot
“I am so delighted I could shout… Perfect escapism for lazy summer days by the water, or long trips, or to read by a fire in the middle of the woods.” – Olivia Waite, author of The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics, for Seattle Review of Books
“I loved this book. I adored both MCs and the badass women who run their lives. I loved the world building (both in terms of 20s NYC and the magic). I’m so glad to see it’s the first in a series.” – Cat Sebastian, author of the Sedgwick Series, Regency Impostors & the Turner Series.
Magical mayhem in 1925 New York! You need this book in your life! – Jordan L. Hawk, author of the Whyborne & Griffin series, the SPECTR series & the Hexworld series.
“Delightful… [I]f you have a thing for big overprotective soft-hearted heroes. This one will hit the spot.” – Adriana Herrera, author of American Dreamer
“Everything about this book: the 1920s NYC setting, the wonderful (and diverse) cast of characters, the magical elements, the pacing, the suspense, the villains, the ROMANCE, the humour, the writing, the acknowledgements, the font…all perfect. PERFECT!” – Rachel Reid, author of Heated Rivalry
“An adventurous romp through a 1920s New York that’s magical in more ways than one… When I turned the last page, all I wanted to do was jump back into Rory and Arthur’s world.” – Jenn Burke, author of Not Dead Yet
TRY IT OUT!
Read on for a preview of SPELLBOUND …
The antique watch was a fraud. Not crafted by some eighteenth-century Swiss fella on a mountain but by a surly doll in a dank room, swilling gin and tap water.
Rory reached deeper into the watch’s past.
The flapper with the cloche hat and black bob sets the gin on the rickety table and bends close to the gooseneck lamp. There’s a folded newspaper on her table, beneath an ashtray, a gold-plated bronze chain, and a fake crystal watch face. She clamps her cigarette between her teeth, lipstick staining the paper, and pinches a speck of cheap quartz in her tweezers as the passing train shakes the paneled walls—
Rory’s eyes popped open. For a moment, he saw double: the counterfeiter with her black bob and red lips overlaid on Mrs. Brodigan’s gray bun and green eyes.
Then he blinked, and the vision of the pocket watch’s creation cleared, leaving only familiar Mrs. Brodigan and the homey back office of the antiques appraisal shop. “That watch was handmade, all right.” He tossed it on the side table that flanked his ratty armchair. “Handmade in 1924 right here in New York.”
“Blast.” Mrs. Brodigan sat at the rolltop desk. “You didn’t see the Swiss watchmaker honing his craft in a mountain hamlet?”
“Saw a girl honing her forgery skills in a dingy room on the J Line.” He sank into the chair, mouth dry and body stiff from scrying the watch too long. His glasses slid down his nose and he pushed them back into place, still not used to the feel of the round, all-black frames. “Date was on the counterfeiter’s newspaper. That watch is six months old, tops. It belonged to some fancy British captain fighting the French about as much as it belonged to King Tut.”
Mrs. Brodigan clucked her tongue. “Mr. McIntyre isn’t going to be happy to hear it. But people come to us for truth, and truth they shall have.” She broke into a kind smile, the crow’s feet at the corners of her eyes crinkling. “What we give them of the truth, at any rate.”
Rory, whose fingers still tingled from the aftermath of scrying, snorted. Brodigan’s Appraisals looked like the Real McCoy, a Hell’s Kitchen hole-in-the-wall with shelves of antiques and some microscopes, loupes, and calipers for show. No one needed to know their appraisal actually came from a scrawny blond fella in glasses who hid in the back and scried antiques’ histories with his mind.
Mrs. Brodigan clasped her hands. “Well, I have something else for you, if you’re up for it.”
“Yeah?” He picked up his canteen from the side table and took a long sip. “Whatcha got? New job?”
But Mrs. Brodigan hesitated. “Why don’t I show you?” She got to her feet. “It’s a bit unusual.”
Oh no. Rory didn’t do unusual. “Not interested!” he called after her, as she disappeared through the open pocket doors of the office.
“Perhaps not, but the last time I decided that for you, you sulked for three days.”
Rory gave her retreating figure a dirty look from under the brim of his newsboy cap. Then, with a huff, he peeled himself out of his armchair. He clutched his canteen as he wove his way around Mrs. Brodigan’s rolltop desk and into the main shop. Twilight had fallen, and outside the shop’s large window, the lamppost illuminated the dirty snow piled on the sidewalks and the passersby as they huddled into their coats. Every now and then a head would turn toward the shop, glancing at the faded letters of its name in the window and Mrs. Brodigan’s handwritten sign taped below: Select antiques for sale. No weapon appraisals.
Mrs. Brodigan was at the counter with the ancient cash register, retrieving a small archival box. He pointed. “That the job? What’s weird about a box?”
She frowned. “I really do hesitate to tell you. Considering the hour, and the hours you’ve already put in this week, and with you still so young—”
“I’m twenty,” he muttered as he took another sip.
“—but as you keep telling me, you’re old enough to make your own decisions, especially when the patron’s willing to pay double.”
Rory sloshed the canteen, spilling water over his chin and hand. His desperately needed new glasses had cost him everything he’d saved, and rent was due on the fifth. “What’s the catch?” he said, wiping his mouth with his sleeve.
“Mr. Kenzie’s in a terrible rush and wants any forgeries found by breakfast.” She made a face. “And it’s rather a lot of letters.”
“I can do it,” Rory said.
“Yes, dear, because you’re as magical as the sídhe, but Mr. Kenzie doesn’t know that, does he? It’s a very difficult request.”
“That’s why he’s paying double,” said Rory. “Couldn’t you use the dough too?” He tried to keep the question soft and casual. He suspected her late husband’s medical bills were still around, but he was the last person who’d want to make the wound of that death hurt fresh.
“I wouldn’t risk you to pay any debt,” she said firmly. “Mr. Kenzie is under the impression I have a laboratory. It wouldn’t do for him to start poking around, asking how we worked so fast.”
Rory might’ve caved at that, but what if he lost his room? Even once he’d scrounged up the cash for a new pad, he’d have to start over, find another place secure enough. Buy new locks. “He’s not gonna ask. Rich jerks think they deserve the impossible. Never ask or care `bout the person at the bottom who’s gotta do the work.”
“Now that’s a bit of unfair. Mr. Kenzie was terribly apologetic—”
“But he is some rich high hat, right?”
She sighed. “A congressman’s son,” she admitted. “So perhaps he is used to getting what he wants, when he wants it.” Her eyes were on Rory, a little sad. “And I suppose he’s unlikely to discover you. You try so hard to stay unnoticed.”
Rory wrapped his arms tight around himself. “That’s how it’s gotta be. And since no one knows `bout me, I can do a job like this for him.”
“Your house locks the doors at ten—”
“If I can’t scry the letters by then, I’ll go home,” he lied. The shop would be cold, but there were worse places to sleep than the armchair. She still looked reluctant, so he added, “I’m really not a boy anymore.”
“Spoken exactly like a little boy.” But her shoulders relaxed and her smile crinkled her crow’s feet again. “All right, lad, I promised I wouldn’t coddle you anymore. I told you about the job so you could make the call and I’ll let you make it.”
Yes. “I call it good.” Rory set the canteen next to the cash register and took the box from her. It was a beautiful piece and pleasantly heavy, solid mahogany he’d bet, with intricate vines carved along all the edges and a fierce bear in the center of the lid. “The box too?”
She shook her head. “Just the letters inside.”
He traced the bear’s carved fur, feeling the ridges beneath his finger, then opened the box. “All of them?” He stared at the stack, which reached the top of the box. “By breakfast?”
“If it’s too much—”
“Everything’s Jake.” Because yes, it was enough letters to fill a whole night in the shop, but he’d be spending all his nights here if he couldn’t make rent. He closed the box with a snap. “See you in the morning.”
But Mrs. Brodigan still looked troubled. “It’s a lot, dear, and work doesn’t need to become another excuse for you to always be alone.”
Rory huffed. “Better than blowing all my scratch going out when no one wants a short guy in glasses anyway.”
“Nonsense is exactly what comes outta my mouth half the time and I don’t need anyone else to hear it.” He folded his arms. “Scryers aren’t good company, Mrs. B.”
She sighed. “I like you just fine, dear, even when you’re a storm cloud.” She smiled at Rory’s scowl. “I’ll close up,” she said, and with a pat on his arm left him to it.
Rory pulled the office’s pocket door shut behind him, muffling the sound of Mrs. Brodigan’s familiar steps as she puttered around the shop. He set his newsboy cap on the side table, freeing his shaggy curls before he tucked his legs up under him in the armchair and considered the box.
Ritzy. But then, this was some political big-timer paying double for a rush job, so he was gonna be ritzy too. Rory ought to scry the box and see what all he could learn about terribly apologetic Mr. Kenzie—
Except they’d only been asked to appraise the letters and it wouldn’t be fair play. So with a last admiring glance at the bear, he opened the box again.
Geez, there had to be two dozen letters. No envelopes either, just ancient pieces of folded paper, yellowed with age and spotted where the ink had run. He picked up the top one and unfolded it. Signed by a Frederick Douglass and dated April 1856, it looked authentic enough—but then, Rory had seen some good forgeries come through the antiques shop in the last four years.
He set the box on his ancient footstool that once must have been a very nice match for a completely different chair. He settled into his seat and carefully set the pads of his fingers on top of the letter’s handwriting.
Scrying was like turning a radio dial, searching for just the right notch until suddenly the signal came in clear, static transformed to music. It was always so easy to welcome the music in—
Not always so easy to turn the radio back off. Rory tried not to think about that as he closed his eyes and let the magic sweep him into the letter’s past.
The man in the bowler hat sits at a desk in a room that smells like fish. A phonograph lazily spins in the corner, scratching out Margaret Young’s “Hard-Hearted Hannah.” The man sticks his tongue between his teeth as he dips his fountain pen in the inkwell. Carefully, he puts the nib to a piece of yellowed paper and scratches out an “1856” in the top right corner.
He lifts his head and considers the paper. After a moment, he sets the pen down, dabs his finger in water, and deliberately smears the wet ink on the six. He wipes his finger on an ink-stained towel folded on the corner of the desk and picks up his pen—
Well, that letter was as real as a wooden nickel. Did Kenzie already suspect he had a forgery? Was that why he’d come to Brodigan’s in the first place?
A distant jingle startled Rory, the sound of the front door’s bell ringing behind Mrs. Brodigan as she left for the night. He glanced at the clock and groaned. It was hard to keep track of present time when he scried, and he’d let himself get distracted and spent longer than he’d meant watching the vision of that letter’s past.
He set the forgery on his side table and reached back into the box, withdrawing the second letter off the stack. He unfolded it to find it was also signed by Frederick Douglass, this time dated October 1855.
He emptied the box of all its letters and found them all signed by Frederick Douglass, all dated between 1855 and 1857, some duplicates of each other. He spread the letters across his lap, the chair, and the footstool, and pursed his lips.
There was no way all twenty-two of the letters were going to be real. Had this sap bought an entire lot of dodgy historic letters, hoping to get lucky? But why would a congressman’s son need to pay double for some Hell’s Kitchen shop to rush-appraise the lot?
Rory ground his teeth. This was weird and he didn’t like weird—he liked safe and predictable.
But he also liked having a roof over his head, and he still had twenty-one letters to scry. He rubbed his eyes behind the glasses. He’d leave the mysteries to people who could afford to care about them and just be grateful he’d make February’s rent.
But as he picked up another letter, he couldn’t shake the heavy suspicion that something about this job smelled wrong. Mr. Kenzie had said he wanted any forgeries found by breakfast.
What wasn’t he saying?
Out now! Find Spellbound at: