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Spotlight & Giveaway: The Witch’s Awakening by Leigh Ann Edwards | Harlequin Junkie | Blogging about Books Leave a comment


Today it is my pleasure to Welcome author Leigh Ann Edwards to HJ!
Spotlight&Giveaway

Hi Leigh Ann and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, The Witch’s Awakening!

 

To start off, can you please tell us a little bit about this book?:

The Witch’s Awakening is a romantic fantasy with a poignant love story, a beautiful, strong heroine who’s a witch, a swoon-worthy, chivalrous hero and intriguing storyline with many plot twists and powerful main and secondary characters.
Colonial Massachusetts in 1692 is a dangerous, uncertain time for nearly everyone. For Arianna O’Sullivan, who attempts to protect two younger friends from the Puritans while hiding the fact she is actually a witch, it’s even more harrowing.
Darius Wyndham, a freeholder of a thriving colonial farm, finds himself without passion or purpose… until a sudden, peculiar storm and a spirit’s ominous message lead him to Wyndham Village and a beautiful scarlet-haired woman suffering in the Puritans’ pillory.
Arianna admits she’s a witch and warns the handsome, protective stranger to keep his distance. Undaunted, he weds her to save her life. She’s given no say in the marriage even after discovering he’s the great-grandson of an infamous witch hunter.
Despite a turbulent beginning they can’t deny their uncommon attraction. Daring to believe she might find happiness in his arms, Arianna encounters the spirit of Darius’s first wife, learns of the suspicious circumstances of her death and other secrets from his past.
Human and supernatural adversaries threaten to harm and separate them making their future together unlikely.
 

Please share your favorite lines or quote(s) from this book:

– She pointedly stared at him. “Why would you presume I should be married
or even that I’d want to be?”

– His touch was gentle, but the sensation extraordinary. She’d once been
nearly struck by lightning; her hair stood on end and her skin tingled. His touch was like that and she drew in her breath.

– “Leaving a man with your kiss isn’t wise if you want him to forget you.”

– “You believe I brought the thunder and lightning?” Arianna said pointing at
the sky as several more jagged streaks of lightning erupted and thunder boomed.
Darius caught her eye. “By God, lass, don’t make this worse,” he whispered.

– “I suppose I should be thankful you didn’t actually violate me,” she said,
but gazing up at him, she thought it unlikely he’d need to violate anyone. With one look at his undeniably handsome face and praiseworthy body, women surely fell into his arms and his bed.”

 

What inspired this book?

Ever since I was a child and first watched The Wizard of Oz, I’ve loved everything to do with witches, both good witches (like Glinda) and evil (like the Wicked Witch of the West)… witch books, stories, films and collectibles. Hocus Pocus, which takes place in Salem, Massachusetts remains one of my favorite films.
I’ve visited Salem twice, once on Halloween which was actually a bit of a nightmare for it was so incredibly crowded you could barely move down the streets or enter the shops and historical sites. When I returned in May, it was much more enjoyable. It was interesting to learn the history of the witch hysteria and persecutions during the late sixteen hundreds.
I’ve also always been a fan of magic, Ireland and time-travel adventures, so combining a variety of those elements appealed to me.

 

How did you ‘get to know’ your main characters? Did they ever surprise you?

Arianna is a strong female but also caring and empathetic. She’s wary of allowing anyone to become close to her. She surprised me for I’d originally intended to make her even feistier and more outspoken. There’s a fine line between creating a headstrong heroine and an unlikeable one.
Darius is an alpha male, physically powerful and protective, but also gentle, loving and quite forward thinking. He wants to ensure they’re happy and is willing to honestly listen, be aware and attentive to Arianna’s wants and needs. (I believe that would have been extremely rare for that century.)
My characters are always really insistent I get to know them. They leave me no choice for they usually wake me in the middle of the night with their conversations and ideas for new storylines and adventures.

 

What was your favorite scene to write?

I have several scenes I especially loved writing, but most give too much of the story away. I’ve chosen this one because it was lots of fun to write. To set it up, I’ll explain:
The Murphy boys are six notoriously raucous brothers at the settlement.
When Arianna fails to become pregnant, Darius worries he might not be able to father children for he had the mumps and knows it’s sometimes an unfortunate result of that disease. However, he also begins to realize how much Arianna wants a baby.

“You’re truly suggesting another man bed me?”
“I won’t pretend to like the notion, but it would only be to see you with child. We’d raise the child as our own. No one else need know.”
“Clearly one other would know,” Arianna said shaking her head. “Have you selected the man then?”
Darius suggests a couple of men whom I won’t mention as it’s long and gives too much away.
“I’d rather share Davey McKee’s bed!”
Darius grimaced. “Sure he must be sixty with barely any teeth.”
“I don’t suppose he’d need teeth to see it done.”
Darius sighed heavily. “You could have any damn man here. Name a few and I’ll consider it.”
“How kind of you! “What of the Murphy boys then?”
“What?”
“We’re after keepin’ them busy. They’re tall and blond if you want someone with similar appearance to you. They might be persuaded if you threw in a jug of ale for their efforts. Kyle and Keegan are too young, but the other four are old enough… strong, strapping men. I could be with them all to make certain it takes. Kevin and Kaleb are likely experienced. Kieran and Konner probably aren’t but… it might be interesting schooling young men in intimacy.”
She’d remained completely serious but seeing the stricken look on Darius’s face, she mischievously smirked and touched his dimple.
“You were only jestin’?” He let out his breath.
“I won’t ever want anyone but you, Darius. If we produce children, we’ll be blessed, but if not…we’re already blessed in being together.”

 

What was the most difficult scene to write?

The most difficult scene to write was when Arianna and Darius have
begun to experience some really difficult marital problems. They’ve just had a huge fight and he storms off to a stag gathering and gets drunk. Arianna angrily confronts him after she sees another woman trying to seduce him. She uses her magic so only they will hear.

“You’ve stilled time?” Darius asked.
“You can see that even in your drunkenness?” she sarcastically said.
“I’m weary of this, Arianna. You constantly distance yourself from
me…except for tonight. One night away was all I wanted.”
“Cleary, that wasn’t all you wanted.”
“I admit I was tempted. She looks at me like you once did.”
“She looks at you as a hopeful conquest. I know she’s attracted to you, but
also, to your wealth. I’m aware she’s jealous and envious of me, therefore to see me hurt would only be added bounty.” Arianna sadly sighed. “I’ve also grown weary, Darius …weary of attempting to be the wife I can never be. Just do what you will. Be with her if that’s what you desire. I release you of the obligations as my guardian and my husband.”
“I’m not thinkin’ straight enough to have this conversation, much less make
rash decisions.”
“Does that include whether or not to diddle her?”
He narrowed his eyes. “Arianna, that isn’t what I want. She isn’t what I
want.”
“Can you tell me if I hadn’t walked in when I did, you wouldn’t have been
with her?”
He shrugged but wouldn’t meet her eyes.
“Men filled with drink often urge each other on with no more conscience
than feral dogs. Thank you for trying to see her leave earlier. I understand the men pressured you but you could have left. I’m sorry you bowed to their badgering and belittled her like the others. I’m disappointed… for the man I met in Wyndham Village would have walked away,” Arianna said.
“I doubt I’d ever measure up to the man you once believed me to be.”

 

Would you say this book showcases your writing style or is it a departure for you?

Yes, this book aptly showcases my writing style.

 

What do you want people to take away from reading this book?

I’d like readers to learn a little of the history of Colonial Massachusetts during the witch hysteria which began in Salem but did overtake the entire colony. I hope Darius and Arianna’s joys, sorrows, trials and love story allow readers to escape but stay with them long after they’re finished reading.

 

What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned?

I’m currently writing The Witch’s Journey, book three in this Witches of Time series. It begins in present day, but the hero and heroine magically journey to a few different eras and centuries.
I’m also awaiting the developmental edits for book two, The Witch’s Compromise which takes place during the American Civil War. Its release date is April 13, 2021.

 

Thanks for blogging at HJ!

 

Giveaway: An ebook copy of The Witch’s Awakening & 3 Tule ebooks

 

To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: If you had supernatural abilities like Arianna, Ainsley, Angelique and Alainn, the four witches of this series who can: control weather and animals, move objects without touching them, see and talk to spirts, still time and magically move from one location to another (just to name a few) with a mere wiggle of the nose or flick of the wrist, what would be the first thing you’d do? Make it fun and appropriate. I know we’d probably all want world peace, an end to pain, hunger, homelessness, Covid etc., but how would you use magic in your life?

I’d teleport to a quaint, little cottage in an Irish seaside village to write and enjoy the scenery, walk the coastline with my mum and sister’s spirits…then be back home with my husband, two daughters, four grandchildren, family, friends and two dogs and two cats in the blink of an eye…and as often as I’d like.

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 
 

Excerpt from The Witch’s Awakening:

MASSACHUSETTS BAY COLONY 1692
Arianna O’Sullivan stared at the bleak, grey sky as she struggled against the confines of the Puritans’ unforgiving pillory. The bitter wind and rain worsened an already wretched day. Her drenched garments clung to her shivering body; water irritatingly streamed down her face from her long strands of scarlet hair, with no means to wipe them away.
Her shoulders ached and her wrists were raw where the swollen wood bit into her flesh. Being restrained always unnerved her. She’d come to despise this village and its suspicious people, but she knew what might occur if she allowed her anger to surface.
At least the rain dispersed the crowd; even the most curious onlookers sought shelter. However, Reverend Thomas Smythe, the man who’d issued her time in the pillory, watched warm and dry inside the nearby inn. She noticed the curtains move at the window. She was aware he enjoyed her misery. Closing her eyes, she whispered to herself, hoping to evade the cold, the pain and the fury brewing within her.

Darius Wyndham fastened his overcoat and held tight to his felt hat. The previously sunny, pleasant day peculiarly changed. The coastal wind turned frigid and wholly unexpected rain fell. The weathered signpost for Wyndham Village loomed ahead. Despite the unfavorable weather, he wasn’t stopping, not after his previous dealings with the Puritans there.
It disturbed him the disagreeable practices he’d witnessed in England were occurring in the colonies, too. There’d been persecutions in Europe for centuries and occasionally it happened here. But now there was an alarming level of hysteria. Nearly every colonial jail was filled with women, some men, and even young children suspected of witchcraft. It began last winter in Salem but the madness soon took hold throughout the colony. Darius was shaken from his dismal thoughts when his horse came to an abrupt halt.
“What is it, King? Are you tired, boy, or simply unhappy with this turn in the weather?”
Weary himself, Darius nudged his steed on, but was startled when he heard a female voice. He looked around, but seeing no one, presumed it was only the wind. He’d hoped to make it to Patrick and Bessie’s farm. The thought of a hot meal, warm bed and an evening with friends lightened his heart.
He’d been unsettled lately and found himself questioning his return to Massachusetts Bay Colony. Away on a merchant ship, he’d felt beckoned home, but he’d been back a year and hadn’t found a relevant reason. In truth, he hadn’t felt impassioned about anything in a long while.
In Wickshire getting horseshoes last night, he’d even considered visiting a brothel. Maybe seeing his base needs met might partly appease his growing discontent. Instead, he spent the entire night drinking with sailors, then walked the shoreline and watched the sunrise.
Darius was roughly jolted when his usually calm horse reared wildly. He braced his knees and held tight to the reins as he heard the disconcerting voice again, but still saw no one. The drizzle worsened; the bitter wind howled. Now chilled, Darius pulled up his collar. Could fatigue make him imagine the voice? But King heard it, too. Now the stubborn animal refused to move forward, instead turned toward Wyndham Village.
“Clearly, you don’t know how difficult Puritans can be! The farm has a lovely barn for you.”
Darius was determined to push on when a gust of wind whipped off his hat. He cussed, dismounted, and then raced after it. As he bent to retrieve it, the skin on his neck prickled, for he heard the mysterious voice again, now clearer.
“You must take this fated path, Guardian. From this day forward it’ll never be you alone to consider. Yer souls are paired for eternity!”
The eerie prophetess spoke with a thick Irish accent. Darius’s mother had been Irish; this might have been comforting if the message hadn’t been so profound.
“Who are you? Why don’t you show yourself?”
The summoning words spoken, a female specter with fiery auburn hair appeared. Darius’s heart thudded as the rain pelleted down.
“I’m someone you’ll never know…here to ensure you follow your destiny. My dearest treasure will become yours. I entrust her to you. As her sovereign guardian you must protect her when you can, comfort her when you cannot, but love her always. Mark my words, you’ll not regret it, Darius Wyndham!”
“How do you know who I am?” he asked, but the entity vanished as quickly as she’d appeared. Darius shook his head expecting to awake from a bizarre dream.
“For the love of God, King,” he said climbing upon the horse again. “Am I losin’ my mind? Alas, the day grows late and the weather fiercer. It appears we’ve little choice but to spend the bloody night in Wyndham Village. Nothin’ but bad luck could be responsible for that. Destiny my eye!”

Arianna stirred as men approached. One was the objectionable Reverend Smythe. She didn’t recognize the other, but felt inexplicably drawn to the man’s voice. The tone was authoritative, but strangely comforting and he didn’t speak like a Puritan. It was evident the men weren’t friends, but Arianna was surprised to discover she was the source of their disagreement. She opened her eyes just a sliver.
“The matter is of no concern to thee, Mr. Wyndham!”
“I disagree, Reverend Smythe. The first sight I met upon entering the village was this young woman in your barbaric pillory, clearly left here amid a miserable rainfall that now turns to snow. That’s a cruel punishment!”
Arianna commended him for standing up to Reverend Smythe; for few openly opposed him.
“Perhaps thou hast not heard of all the recent happenings?”
“If you’re asking if I’m aware of people being held in jails accused of witchcraft by their friends and neighbors for absurd, unwarranted reasons, aye, I’ve heard. I’ve also learned someone’s been hanged in Salem. This widespread lunacy surely won’t end well for many.”
“Why art thou here, Mr. Wyndham? I heard thee journeyed to England after thy wife…”
He didn’t allow Smythe to finish.
“I’ve returned to my land, but I’m not here to discuss me. I demand you release this woman!”
“Thou know’st nothing of this evildoer.”
“Aye, well unless you’ve proof she’s killed someone or is likely to, her actions couldn’t warrant this punishment. It’s bloody cold. Her garments are soaked; she’s sure to catch her death or die from the chill. My God, man, have you no decency?”
Smythe huffed indignantly. “Thou darest speak such blasphemy! I could see thee flogged!”
“Your threats don’t intimidate me. I’ll not back down like your terrified villagers, Smythe. Do you actually believe God condones your ill treatment of this woman or the others? If I didn’t think she’d be hurt, I’d smash your confounded pillory. Release her or I’ll dismantle it,” he said examining the structure.
“Mr. Wyndham, thou hast no authority here. Much has changed since thy father lived here.”
“That’s certainly true. My father wouldn’t abide jailing people…putting them through ludicrous methods to determine if they’re witches. What did this woman do to deserve such heartless treatment?”
“The devil’s within her. She’s beguiled most every man who’s drawn near her. She controls animals and the weather.”
Mr. Wyndham shook his head. “Have you actual proof of anything and truly no notion how preposterous that sounds?”
“The witch is clever. No one dares speak against her; women fear her and men are bewitched by her.”
“Why’s she in the pillory?”
“It’s proved more effective than floggings.”
“She’s been flogged as well?” That evidently infuriated Mr. Wyndham, for his voice rose. “You claim she controls the weather. If that were so, wouldn’t she’d stop this bitter wind and sleet as she stands in drenched garments?”
Smythe cast a nervous glance at Arianna.
“Thou art already bewitched. Didst thou look into her evil eyes?”
“Her eyes are closed, you daft fool; she’s likely near death. I’ve heard quite enough! Hand over the keys; I’ll not stand by while she expires.”
Reverend Smythe must have feared the large, powerful-looking, determined man. He passed him the keys and stepped away. The man unlocked the padlock and lifted the wooden bar, holding her neck and wrists. Cold, hungry and weak, without the post to steady her, Arianna collapsed. Smythe gasped when Mr. Wyndham caught her and lifted her into his arms.
“Don’t touch her. Never gaze into her eyes, for thou shalt fall under her spell!”
He ignored the reverend and walked toward the nearby inn, calling over his shoulder.
“What’s the woman’s name? Where’s her husband or family?”
“I have paid no attention to the witch’s given name. She has no husband or family bar the devil…” Reverend Smythe continued spewing absurdities. Arianna shivered uncontrollably as the man opened the door to the inn.

The innkeeper and his wife backed against the wall.
“She can’t be here,” the innkeeper said.
“I need a room for the night,” Darius said, ignoring the man. “I have ample coin and will aptly reward you. We’ll require food and lodging.”
Next he addressed the innkeeper’s wife.
“Good mother, might I ask you to see this lass dryly attired, perhaps given warm broth and put to bed?”
The woman shook her head and the innkeeper spoke.
“What if she’s a witch? If we assist her we’ll be judged with her.”
“What, good sir, if she’s innocent? If you send her away, perhaps contribute to her death, could you live with that?”
With another glance at the young woman, the innkeeper and his wife nodded.
“Use the back stairs, but be quick. If word spreads we’re harboring a witch, we’ll be ruined or persecuted ourselves!”
“Thank you both. I’ll make certain Reverend Smythe knows I gave you no choice.”
As he carried her up the stairs, she awakened and Darius gazed into the eyes he’d been warned not to view…the most unusual, breathtakingly beautiful green eyes he’d ever beheld. If eyes were the mirror to the soul, he must be looking upon an angel. She seemed to radiate goodness and he felt an overpowering need to protect her.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
 
 

Book Info:

“A witch!”

It’s an accusation Arianna O’Sullivan dreads as she struggles to conceal her abilities from the suspicious villagers in Colonial Massachusetts. Saved from the pillory by a handsome, chivalrous stranger, Arianna senses an inexplicable connection. When she’s given no choice but to marry the charismatic man even after discovering he’s the grandson of an infamous witch-hunter, she fears her powers won’t be restrained for much longer.

Intrigued by the scarlet-haired beauty, Darius Wyndham recklessly weds her and brings her home to his settlement. Falling in love with his wife was never in the plan, and Darius grows suspicious of his new feelings. He never believed in witches, yet he certainly feels bewitched. Or could Arianna be his destiny?

Arianna dares to believe she’s finally found love and safety in the arms of her new husband, but when the spirit of his first wife appears with disturbing clues to her death and long-hidden secrets from their past, Arianna is left questioning everything.

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Meet the Author:

Since she was a child, Leigh Ann Edwards has always had a vivid imagination and lots of stories to tell. An enthusiastic traveler and author for over twenty years, her adventures in Massachusetts, Ireland, and the UK inspired The Farrier’s Daughter and its sequel novels in the Irish Witch series. Edwards adores animals, history, genealogy, and magical places—and Ireland is filled with many magical places. She lives with her husband and two cats in the lovely city of Edmonton, Alberta.
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