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I just loved this book. Once I started it I could not put it down.

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Witchcraft, dark secrets, and demons. No one is safe in White Haven.

White Haven has a history of witchcraft, but the locals don’t know that there are real witches living among them, and Avery is one of them.

When she receives an ominous premonition, a rune covered box, and an intriguing letter, all hinting at the mysterious past of her hometown, perched on the Cornish coast, Avery realises that the witches are missing a vital part of their history.

Five missing grimoires.

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And when the annoying, but handsome, Alex Bonneville, shares the same premonition, they know that trouble’s coming.

Against her better judgement, Avery teams up with the other witches to uncover the truth.

Unfortunately, someone will do anything to stop them.

Now is the time to uncover the past.

Now is the time to reclaim their heritage.

And they’ll risk everything to do it.

When quirky White Haven turns into a battleground of magic and demons, only the White Haven Witches can stop it.

If you love urban fantasy with a twist of romance and plenty of magic, you’ll love book 1 of the White Haven Witches series.

Read on for an excerpt!

Chapter 1

Avery always liked to read the tarot cards on a full moon, outside if the weather allowed, and today it did. It was mid-June and hot. The earth smelled rich, and the scent of lavender drifted towards her.

She sat at her garden table. The brick-paved patio area was flooded with silvery light and the garden beyond was full of plants, lost in the shadows despite the full moon. The only things visible were the white roses that nodded from the depths of the borders, and the gravel paths that snaked around them.

Earlier that day she had sensed a shift in the normal path of her life; a premonition that required further investigation. Out of long practice she sat calmly, shuffling the cards and then placing them out in the cross before her, turning them one by one. She shuddered. Change was coming, and with it, danger. The cards revealed it and she could feel it. And it would happen soon.

Avery leaned back, perplexed, and then jumped slightly as she heard the click of the gate. Alex, another witch. She recognised his scent and sound. Her worry over the reading was replaced by curiosity.

He stepped into view, his expression invisible with the moon behind him, casting her in shadow. He was tall, with broad shoulders and a lean, muscular build. It was like a wall had stepped between her and the moon.

“What do you want, Alex?”

“What a lovely greeting, Avery,” he said, his voice smooth. He pulled a chair out and sat opposite her, looking down at the cards. “So you sense it, too.”

“Sense what?”

“You know what.” He sounded impatient. “That something is coming. Don’t you think we should work together?”

“No.”

He leaned back, shifting slightly so that the moon lit his face, showing his day-old stubble and his long dark hair that fell just below his shoulders. His brown eyes looked black in the light. “This is ridiculous. You have no reason to distrust me.”

She refused to be drawn. “I have no reason to trust you, either. You disappeared for years, and now you’re back. I have no idea who you even are anymore.”

“I’m the same witch I always was. People travel, you know. That’s life!”

Even now Alex could make her blood boil with his infuriating superiority. She wanted to throw something at him, like a lightning bolt. “Why are you here?”

They stared at each other across the table, Avery only able to see a glint of moonlight in his eyes, until he said with forced patience, “There are five witches now in White Haven, five of us who wield the old magic. We should meet. Pool our resources. I can’t believe you haven’t already.”

“We’ve had no need to form a coven, and I like working alone.” She inwardly chastised herself. Why did she have to sound so defensive? It was okay to work alone.

“I’ve been talking to Elspeth. She’d like to form one.”

Avery rolled her eyes. “Of course she would.”

“There’s nothing wrong with that! We can share ideas, share our strengths.”

“We’re all witches! What do we need to share?”

“Oh, let me see,” he said with a sigh. “El can work metal, brilliantly, metal and gems, in fact. Far better than any of us can. Have you seen what she’s been producing lately?”

“No.”

“You should. And of particular use for us, she can weave magic into an Athame, and other useful objects we use in our rituals.”

“I can do that, too,” she said impatiently, “we all can. We’re witches.”

“Not as good as she can,” he persisted. “And Briar is excellent at using herbs and healing. Better than all of us,” he said, cutting her off before she could protest. “Gil is particularly good at using water magic. And then there’s you.” He stopped and just looked at her, his expression unfathomable. He was making her uncomfortable.

“What about me?” She was annoyed with him for being so very logical, and she felt the wind stirring around her as her annoyance increased.

He laughed, the white of his teeth bright against his shadowed face. He looked around and the breeze made strands of his hair float around his face. “Am I making you cross? I’m sure you’re causing that wind.”

She frowned and cut it off, the wind dying instantly.

“Air. You manipulate it so easily. And new spells, your intuitiveness—those are your strengths.”

She was so unnerved at his knowledge of her that she responded with sarcasm. “And what about you, Alex? What can you bring?”

“My ability to scry, to prophesise, my astral abilities. And fire.” He glanced at the candle that sat on the side of the table, unlit, and it suddenly flared to life, the flame shooting a foot into the air before it settled down to a small, orange flame. The light illuminated his grin. “I burn hot, Avery. Nice on cold nights.”

“How lovely,” she said, trying to dispel the images that rushed into her head. She put the flame out as quickly as he had lit it, the smoke eddying between them.

He leaned forward. “I’m calling a meeting. The others should know that we’ve sensed something. We need to be on our guard. My place, tonight at ten.” He stood, once again blocking the moon briefly before he headed to the gate, his gait long. “By the way, your defences on the house need strengthening. See you later, Avery.”

Alex was 29, a year older than her, and they’d been to the same schools and shared the same powers, and yet he infuriated her. She watched him go, then looked up at the moon and wanted to scream, but the moon counselled silence, so she swept the cards up, shuffled, and dealt again.

Chapter 2

Avery woke at dawn after a restless sleep, the barely-there light filtering through the blinds in the bedroom. She had been thinking more about Alex than the ominous reading, and that annoyed her more than anything. She hated the way he just slid into her mind and stayed there.

By the time she got to work she felt irritable. Work was a bookshop called Happenstance Books, which she’d inherited from her grandmother, along with the building it was in. They stocked new and old books, fiction, non-fiction, and the esoteric—witchcraft, divination, angels, devils, and all things in between, as well as tarot cards, incense, greeting cards, postcards, and other occult-related objects. The shop was well placed, halfway up a small side street that wound up from the sea, and wedged between a coffee shop and a gift store selling local trinkets to tourists. The shop was stacked with high shelves that wound around the edges of the shop, as well as through the middle, making the interior a section of narrow passages. Placed around the shop were a selection of comfy chairs and a small sofa. It smelt pleasantly of old paper, coffee, and incense.

Sally, her friend and the shop manager, was already there in their stock room at the rear of the shop, unpacking a box of old books Avery had brought a week ago in a house sale. She knew Avery was a witch, although she never called her one. It was inevitable she should know after their years of friendship, although Avery made out it was something far more wishy-washy than it really was and Sally indulged her accordingly.

Sally looked up and smiled. “You’re early! Someone kick you out of bed?”

“Funny! Bad night’s sleep. What about you?”

“You know me, always an early bird. Coffee’s on if you want some.”

“I don’t want some, I need some!” she said, heading to the small galley kitchen, inhaling the coffee fumes gratefully. She hesitated a moment and then called out, “Alex came to see me last night.”

There was a moment of silence as the rustling of books stopped, and Sally came to the door, leaning against the frame. “I thought you didn’t get on?”

“We don’t, sort of. But he sensed the same thing as me.” She looked at her, trying to decide what to say. In the end she just said it all. “I was reading the cards last night and I thought I saw something. Something dark. I have no idea what, but Alex saw it, too. He came to talk. At two in the morning!”

“So he knew you’d be up,” Sally said, raising her eyebrows quizzically. “Have you two got some psychic link?”

Avery shook her head, leaned back against the counter, and sipped her coffee. Sweet and strong, just as she liked it. She might just start to feel human soon. “No! At least I hope not. It’s very disconcerting.”

Sally shuffled against the doorframe. “I like him, I don’t really get why you don’t. He’s honest, and runs a great pub! He’s got a fab chef at the moment. Have you been?”

“No, not since he arrived.”

“Are you sure nothing’s happened between you two?”

Avery rolled her eyes. “No. Anyway, he wants to talk at his pub tonight. He’s calling a meeting with the others.” Sally would know exactly whom she meant by the others.

“It’s probably a good idea,” Sally nodded. “There’s strength in numbers.”

“Oh, don’t you start.”

Sally grinned, raking her hand through her blonde hair. “I wouldn’t hesitate if Alex invited me over. He’s very good-looking.”

“And he knows it. And besides, you’re married with two kids!”

Sally married her childhood sweetheart when she was 20 years old, and within a couple of years they had their first child, swiftly followed by a second. Avery had no idea how she managed the shop and her home life so efficiently.

“I meant, if I was single!” Sally changed tack, looking slightly worried. “So, is this serious, what you and Alex saw? You’ve never mentioned anything like this before.”

Avery immediately regretted saying anything, and shook her head. “No, probably not. I’ve probably got a rival with a new bookstore opening. I’m sure it will be fine. It was just sort of spooky, Alex turning up when he did, and I’ve probably read more into it than I should have. Anyway, anything good in that box?”

Sally headed back to the store room, Avery trailing after her, and pulled a book out of the box she’d been unpacking. “Old editions of the classics, but nothing riveting. Not yet, anyway. I’ve got to do another house visit later. Unless you want to? One of us has to update our inventory.” She had a smirk on her face, knowing Avery hated doing the inventory.

Avery smiled sweetly, “I’d love to pick up those boxes! Thanks Sally. Where am I going?”

“Do you remember that little old lady who used to come in here sometimes? Anne? She was a bit of a local historian.”

“Yeah, I think so.” Avery kept it light, but she did remember her. People poking about in the town’s history always made her worried. She didn’t want them to turn up anything she’d rather keep hidden. She’d been polite to Anne, but had otherwise tried to keep her distance.

“Well, she died the other week, and she’s left us some books.”

“Oh,” Avery suddenly felt bad and also slightly relieved. “I’m sorry to hear that. Sure, I’ll go. Who arranged it?”

“Her son, Paul. I haven’t met him, he just phoned. I arranged to pick up mid-morning, at her house. Are you all right, Avery? You look a bit odd.”

The feeling of unease had rushed back like an incoming tide and Avery felt dizzy. “No, I’m fine, bad night’s sleep, remember? Need more coffee.” She headed back to the kitchen, trying to subdue her worry.

***

Avery pulled up outside a large, old house that sat on a rise overlooking the sea on the edge of the town. The second she saw it she felt a shudder pass through her. Something had alerted her witchy senses, something magical. It was only a trace, but it was there.

She looked at the house thoughtfully. Anne hadn’t presented any inkling of magic, so why could she sense something here? And what of her son, Paul? They certainly weren’t related to the other four witches in the town, and she was pretty sure there weren’t any others. Was this a trap? But surely if he’d been a witch he’d have tried to disguise the wisps of magic she could sense.

The house was built from the mellow, creamy stone that many houses in the area were built from, and that also made up the old boundaries snaking across fields and along roadsides. It sat down a drive that was overgrown with bushes and trees. The paving was cracked, the paint on the door and window frames was peeling off, and the whole place looked like it needed a complete overhaul. At one point, this house would have been one of the most coveted houses in White Haven, and probably would be again after a ton of money had been thrown at it. She looked down the lane. All of the other houses here were in much better condition. She bet the neighbours were looking forward to the renovation. But was something hiding behind that cracked facade?

She sat for a few minutes, watching the house and trying to detect if there was a threat, but other than the whiff of magic, she sensed nothing.

Avery looked in the rear view mirror and checked her appearance. Her long, red hair was loose and relatively neat, and her pale green eyes had lost the tiredness from earlier in the day. Coffee was awesome. She touched up her makeup, grabbed her phone and checked there weren’t any messages, then exited her old green Bedford van, something else she’d inherited from her gran, locking it behind her. She smoothed her long, dark blue maxi dress, keen to make a good impression.

As she walked up the drive, she scanned around the garden, but noted nothing unusual until she came to the front door where a vigorous pot of thyme and one of sage was placed either side of the door. Common plants, but they also offered protection. And on the corner of the doorframe she saw a small mark. Another symbol of protection. This was getting weirder. She rang the doorbell and waited for a few seconds, flexing her fingers in case she needed to defend herself, before finally hearing footsteps approaching. The door swung open to reveal a harried-looking man who appeared to be in his sixties. He looked at her, confused.

“Can I help you?”

“I’m Avery, from Happenstance Books. You must be Paul? You asked me to collect your mother’s books—Anne Somersby? Is this a good time?” She smiled encouragingly.

“Oh, yes, sorry, of course. I’m a little distracted—I’m sorting through some paperwork. Come in, please.” He leaned forward and shook her hand. “Just follow me and I’ll show you the library.” He laughed, “Well, it’s not really a library, but it does have a lot of books.”

Avery relaxed slightly. She didn’t detect anything magical or threatening from him. He walked ahead of her, leading her down the long hallway to a room at the back of the house, looking out onto extensive gardens.

She paused at the window, “Wow, what a beautiful garden.”

He laughed, “It was a beautiful garden. Now it’s a mess.”

She laughed, too. “Well, you know what I mean. It will be again.” She looked around the room she was in, “And this is amazing, too!”

“You’re a book lover. I just see more stuff I have to move. But yes. It is.”

The ceilings were high, and the room was lined with heavy oak shelves filled with books. The small amount of exposed bare wall was panelled with the same dark oak. And the magical something was here—Avery could sense it more strongly now. She tried to contain her excitement, schooling her face carefully. “Did Anne leave me all of these?”

He gestured around the room, “Everything, although of course, you don’t have to take them all.” He looked puzzled. “Did you know her well?”

Avery shuffled awkwardly. “If I’m honest, not really. She came into the shop, chatted sometimes, bought books.” She shrugged. “I’m guessing that’s why she left them to me—to bring them back home. I’m sorry to hear she died.”

Paul smiled sadly. “Thank you, but she’d had a rich life.” He gestured at the shelves. “There were some old town histories she’d put together herself that she particularly wanted you to have. Insisted, in fact, before she died. Made me promise I wouldn’t forget. Are you a history fan, too?”

Avery tried to cover her surprise with a small lie. “Very much so. You can’t live in White Haven without loving history. We sell a lot of history books in my shop.”

Paul laughed, “Quite a murky history, in places! What with witches, caves, smuggling, and wrecks at sea—the place is riddled with strange deeds!”

Avery’s heart had skipped at beat at the mention of witches, and she laughed along with him, feeling the hair rise on the back of her neck. “True, but no more so than many old villages along the coast, I guess.”

Paul nodded. “Anyway, I better get on. I’ll be in the study going through more papers.” He sighed. “She accumulated everything, you know. Would you like coffee?”

“Yes please, sounds great. Black, two sugars.”

He disappeared, and for a second Avery stood still, thinking, while her heart pounded uncomfortably. She sensed magic, and Anne had requested she come here. Had she known what she was? She couldn’t think about that now. She turned back to the books. It took all her self-control not to run over and start pulling them from the shelves.

Something was definitely here; her witchy senses were tingling all over. She quickly scanned the shelves. They were crammed with old, worn paperbacks, hardbacks, and books with old leather covers—a mixture of classics, romances, thrillers, and reference books. She focused on where she could feel the pull of magic, and looked up.

There, in the far corner, on a top shelf, was a row of old leather-bound books. Just as she was about to pull a chair out to use as a step, the door opened and Paul came in with her coffee.

“See anything you like?” he asked, as he put the coffee on a side table.

“Lots of thrillers and classics that would sell well, and some of the reference books, too.” She tried to keep the excitement out of her voice. “Where else did your mother get her books from, do you know?”

“No idea! And I imagine she got them years ago. She didn’t go out much as she got older.” He looked at the dust and general dilapidation of the room with its dated decoration. “I don’t think she did much of anything, except look at family trees. You probably know that she was a bit of a local historian. She would go to the library and look at the archives, and then she got a computer and would do what she could on there.” He brightened at the thought and smiled. “I was quite impressed when she got a computer. She didn’t let age stop her learning!” He pointed at the shelves. “The files she particularly wanted you to have are in that section. She was especially interested in old families of the area. You’ll probably find them amongst that lot.”

Researching old families? That gave her another prick of unease. Her family, Alex’s, and Gil’s would have been amongst the oldest. All magical. All with secrets. “I’ll look out for them.”

“Sorry, you’ll have to contend with a lot of dust.”

“It’s fine. I’m used to it. I clear quite a few books from old houses.”

He nodded, “Okay, I’ll leave you to it.”

As soon as he’d gone, she pulled the chair out and stood on it, reaching up to the row of books. As she pulled a few volumes out, dust billowed around her and she coughed and blinked. Grabbing a handful of them, she carried them to the table under the window. The names gave nothing away: A Reference Book of Wildflowers, The Cave Systems of the West Country, Herbs and their Properties, English Folklore, Legends of the South. Not what she was expecting, but interesting. She picked up a few and flicked through them. Nothing interesting. Then she picked up the book on cave systems and shook it, and a black and white photo fell to the floor, releasing the scent of magic.

She picked it up and held it under the light, and almost dropped it with shock. The photo was of a house, slightly unfocused, the gardens manicured, and a big bank of trees behind it. In front of the house were a woman and two small children staring at the camera, unsmiling and grim. But it was unmistakable. She knew that house—it belonged to Gil. Was that his mother? No, she corrected herself. The photo was too old. It must be his grandmother, maybe even great-grandmother? And the children must be either his mother or father, and an aunt or uncle. She could never remember whom he inherited his magic from.

After the shock, her initial reaction was one of disappointment. Gil was a witch—maybe the photo had come from his house? Was that why she could sense magic? She turned the photo over to reveal a scrawl of writing that looked like it had been written in a hurry. The real Jacksons.”

Her hands shook and she looked around the room as if she was being spied on. She had known Gil all her life. She liked him, a lot. He seemed so trustworthy, and now she had doubts running through her mind. This suggested that Gil was not a real Jackson. And if that was the case, who was he?

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