Zephyr, apprentice of magical arts, is having a really bad day. Under orders to capture an uncanny creature for her mistress’s latest spell, she chains up a tall, gorgeous elf in a decaying castle only to find out he’s really a wizard with potent powers over human women. Uh-oh.
Theo has suffered heartbreak and betrayal more than once. He’s got a plan to escape, and when he does, he’s taking the curvy little apprentice with him. Her seductive curiosity about all things elvish makes his heart race, driving him into a sexual frenzy. He’s vowed never to unleash his powers of enchantment upon a human woman—yet while she kisses and teases him, longing for an elf romance, his fae side is slipping out of control.
Their world overturns when Zephyr unleashes a curse involving two magic rings. Under its spell, she becomes a mighty sorceress while the elf-wizard who loves her becomes her apprentice. As Zephyr works to turn the brooding, mistrustful elf into the hero the people need, Theo must find a way to contain Zephyr’s new powers before her wild magic destroys them all.
Madeline Iva’s magic romance fantasy is chock full of wizards and sorcerers. It will enchant readers who love castle romances, all things elvish, and can-do heroines.
“Who is he?” Wart asked.
“Dunno. He’s an elf, though, which is so cool.” They hoisted the man up, and once they were out of Hulgetta’s lair and down at the great hall, Prin resumed. “She hands me a list this morning with coordinates on it for the green door. Says pick any one of these and bring back a subject.”
Carry, carry, carry. She wished they had something to drag him on. Oi, he was heavy.
“Anyone on the list,” Wart said. “Then why him?”
“Wart, you have no idea. For a minute I didn’t think I could pull it off.” She told Wart about the smoke demon, the monster in the ice cave. “Not that I saw it, but I saw its poo, and I left as fast as possible. Ugh!” She shuddered, remembering the slick ramp heading almost straight down and the eerie silence, broken only by the noise of cracking bluish ice. There had been a giant pile of human bones next to the spore of whatever it was that lived in that cave. “I mean, I had no weapons, just a sleep spell. I wasn’t going to risk it, you know?”
“But you found him.”
“Yes. At last. And! Bonus points—he has pointy ears. Huzzah!”
Whatever she did, her apprentice vow spelled out as clearly as possible, that she was not to disappoint her mistress in any of her commands. Wart knew that. Wart, when enticed to speak candidly about previous apprentices, said that they disappeared after they had invariably disappointed their mistress. Prin assumed they probably went back through the green door from whence they came. Wart didn’t seem so sure, but wasn’t about to speculate, either.
It had become a rather sinister question mark hanging over Prin’s head ever since. She tried not to think about what would have happened if she hadn’t succeeded today. Now she was almost high with relief.
“What’s she going to do with him?” Wart asked.
“Ah, Hulgetta. Secrets shrouded in mystery, blah, blah, blah.”
Wart gave her a peculiar look with her big dark eyes. She often kept her thoughts to herself, but Prin knew that behind that modest demeanor was a needle-sharp brain.
“What? Cough it up.”
“You must have some idea.”
“Nope. Not a clue. Can’t read the book she’s been studying up on.”
They continued dragging the gorgeous elf along until they reached a spot where the stones were a bit less clammy. Prin was ready to keep going, but Wart held up a hand, panting, so Prin waited. While biding her time she be-spelled herself by staring down into the elf’s face.
“Are all elves this gorgeous?” she asked.
“I’ve never seen an elf before. I’m not sure.” Yet the way Wart was staring at him didn’t seem admiring. She looked like she was listening to a sad song.
“Okay, Wart, cough it up. You think Hulgetta means to harm him?”
Wart looked at her with a certain quirk to her mouth which meant yes. This was bad, very bad. She had to get someone else from the list. It had been terrifying enough to go through the green door into whatever place it opened onto by day. Except for him, all the critters on the other side reeked of danger. The idea of starting to go through that list and open the door at night? She shuddered hard.
“Is this a, you know, gut feeling, or have you seen Hulgetta do something bad to other people before?”
Wart looked at her and wouldn’t speak. Just gave her those giant haunted brown eyes.
Prin compressed her lips. Hulgetta said jump, she asked how high. Hulgetta said put him in the cell, so he was going in the cell.
Still she hesitated.
“I can’t put him back.”
Wart was silent.
“What would I tell Hulgetta?” Look what her mistress had done for her. Taught her magic. Fed and clothed her well—better than the maids, even. She’d recited a vow where she pledged her loyalty and obedience. Shit.
Prin gathered her arms under his chest and heaved. The crumbling staircase climbed up along the wall, twisting around without any railing until it ended abruptly in a small landing with an arched wooden door. Bracing herself and taking a big breath, Prin lifted his upper body as high as she could and started up the steps. Wart followed behind. Though the kitchen maid did her best, Prin had to do most of the heavy lifting. After almost a year of chopping firewood and hauling buckets she was pretty strong. Still.
“No one. Talks about. How much grunt work goes into magic,” she said through gritted teeth.
“Poor you,” Wart responded, panting and slipping on the narrow stairs.
Once they were in the cell, they went over to the wooden pallet that ran from wall to wall almost three feet off the ground. Prin’s old mattress sat on the pallet, stuffed with itchy straw. They dumped him on it. A certain cruel sensuality about his mouth added a touch of sin to his celestial features. She put her palm up to his cheek. It was cool and clammy. He turned his face into the warmth of her skin and his lips touched her palm. The buzz of energy inside her picked up a few notches.
She forced herself to slide her hand away, when what she really wanted was to dig her hands into his rich auburn hair and climb right on top of him. No, her brain said. Yes! her body cried.
She began stripping off the little jacket he wore. It had sleeves that laced up at the elbows and shoulders. Then she began rolling up his shirt, inhaling the male scent of him, like some unknown mountain herb, sharp and clean.
“This is a bad idea,” Wart commented.
“Maybe he’s not so harmless. I mean, he did zap me,” she said.
“Really. Before you kidnapped him. The nerve.”
“Not sure what he did. Kind of felt like a spell forming. Only this was hard and sudden.” Her wrists still hurt from it. Her body, meanwhile, rippled with energy. She wanted to jump out of her skin.
“Well, he’s an elf,” Wart said.
“So they’re magic and all.”
“Right.” She paused one more time to look down at him as he lay on the pallet. If she let him go, what would she say to Hulgetta? Catch and release only, mistress. Sorry. She quaked just thinking the words. She picked up the gold manacle but hesitated. There was no time to think. If they were going to do this, they had to get him out quickly. And then? And then? She couldn’t think of any way she could switch him out without Hulgetta knowing.
She made up her mind. “I can’t do it. I can’t let him go.” She clapped the gold manacle onto his wrist, then bundled up his boots, jacket, and shirt into her arms.
Wart gave a cry of alarm and backed into the corner as Hulgetta, already at the top of the stairs, stormed inside.
Holy marbles. Her innards began to liquefy a little. Looking over at Wart’s expression she knew they both looked guilty as sin.
Madeline Iva writes paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary erotic romance. Bitten by romance as a teen, she quit her day job in 2009 to start writing full time. In 2013, she started Love Fest, a day of romance panels at Virginia Festival of the Book and co-founded LadySmut.com, a blog devoted to all things intelligent and sexy. Her work “Sexsomnia” is included in THE LADY SMUT BOOK OF DARK DESIRES published by Harper Impulse.