Genre: Historical/Paranormal Romance
Date of Publication: May 1, 2014
Word Count: 17,000
Giselle Swenov is a radiant opera star whose beauty is second only to her voice. That is, until a jealous enchantress strips away her talent and looks, transforms her into a mute and haggard old woman, and forces her to leave the man of her dreams at the altar on their wedding day. Now there’s only one person able to reverse the spell: Giselle’s warlock ex-fiancé, Lucian Ivanu.
But three years have passed, and the ever-dashing Lucian seems to have moved on―he’s inherited a vast fortune, forsaken his scandalous powers, and is even set to marry again. Will he recognize his former flame when she shows up at his engagement party and begs for help? Can she recover the powerful magic ring needed to break the curse before it’s too late? Giselle’s plight has a darker twist as she discovers just how far the enchantress’s grasp reaches…
You can view my book review here.
Although Marina Myles lives under the sunny skies of Arizona, she would reside in a historic manor house in foggy England if she had her way. Her love of books began as soon as she read her first fairy tale, and grew by leaps and bounds when she discovered Nancy Drew/Agatha Christie mysteries and rich, historical romances.
Dreaming of becoming a published author, she wrote her first ‘gothic’ story at age eleven. She went on to study creative writing at Southern Methodist University— where she received degrees in Communications and English Literature. During her time in Dallas, she had the unique experience of being a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader.
Now with her loyal Maltese close by, she relishes the hours she gets to escape into worlds filled with tortured heroes, strong heroines, and their fiery—but not easily attained—love affairs. She’s busy being a wife (to her Italian-born husband) and a mother (to her two beautiful daughters), but she is never too busy to hear from her amazing readers.
Represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency
Giselle Swenov adjusted her bridal veil with a smile. At the thought of marrying the most wonderful man in the world, her heart beat melodiously—and as Bucharest’s leading operatic protégé, she nearly belted out a glass-shattering note, too.
Restraining herself, she cracked open the dressing room door and stare into the chapel. She knew her family members wouldn’t be in attendance, but she scoured the pews for them anyway. From day one, her mother and father had disapproved of her groom. What was they’d said? “Are you mad, Giselle? Lucian Ivanu is socially inferior—and his connection to the Dark Arts means he isn’t right for you.”
Giselle’s pulse leapt as she glimpsed Lucian at the altar. Ironically, he looked nothing like a warlock. With flowing white-blond hair, gray eyes that reminded her of storm clouds over the Black Sea, and a knee-buckling grin, he resembled a prince ready to sweep her off her feet.
Although Giselle wanted to stare at him all day, she shut the door before he saw her in her bridal gown. She refused to let bad luck seep into their wedding ceremony.
“You look beautiful, my dear,” Ileana Zǎpǎda, Bucharest National Opera’s premier patron, called out behind her.
“Thank you Doamna Zǎpǎda,” she replied anxiously. At least Ileana was here to help, unlike her mother.
“Come,” the elegant woman urged. “Take a final look at yourself as an unmarried woman.”
Giselle swiveled around to survey her appearance in the mirror. Cascading golden-brown curls framed her carefully made-up face and a sense of optimism lit her eyes. She had become the bride she’d envisioned as a girl and she could hardly contain her excitement.
“You look a stunning.” Ileana Zǎpǎda stepped in beside her and met her gaze in the mirror. “But you are a little pale.”
“Nerves, I suppose.” Letting out a self-conscious laugh, Giselle studied Doamna Zǎpǎda. Her refinement spoke of the lofty social standing Giselle’s family wished she would reach. She winced.
“Sit with me and have some tea,” the socialite proposed. “Tea studied my nerves before I married my second husband.”
Giselle swept her train off the floor and settled into a chair at a small table. While she laid her bridal bouquet in her lap, Ileana poured two steaming cups.
“Why are you being so nice to me, Doamna Zǎpǎda?” Giselle asked as she accepted the tea cup.
The woman sighed. “It broke my heart to learn that your parents disowned you. Word spreads quickly through the opera house—and because I’m a mother hen to all my celebrated singers, I knew you’d need some moral support on your wedding day.”
“You must be a loving mother to your own children,” Giselle said gently.
Ileana’s expression turned icy. “I never had children of my own. I have a stepdaughter, but we aren’t particularly close.”
“Well, I sincerely appreciate your help.” Giselle smiled. “Clasping the buttons on the back of my dress would have been impossible on my own.”
As she sipped her tea, her entire body warmed instantly and she began to perspire. I must be more nervous than I thought…
Ileana went on. “I greatly admire your vocal talent, Giselle. I also admire your extraordinary beauty. Unfortunately, I’m about to sabotage both of those exceptional attributes.”
Alarm pierced through Giselle. She tried to protest but before she could speak a word, her throat burned as if she’d ingested hot coals. She clawed at it while Ileana studied her the way a snake zeroes in on its prey. Giselle tried to extend her hand, but her limbs prickled with pain. In an instant, her skin shriveled dramatically and her knuckles became hideously gnarled.
“Poor, unknowing girl.” Ileana stood over her. “I’m an enchantress of the Dark Arts and I slipped an accursed potion into the tea pot when you weren’t looking.”
Giselle opened her mouth to scream, but no sound escaped her lips. With great effort, she crawled to the mirror like an invalid and stared at her reflection. My God! I’m a mute, old woman!
Heart stuttering, she managed to pull herself to her feet. She flung open the door and entered the chapel. All heads jerked in her direction. When she locked eyes with Lucian, he stared at her in astonishment yet without an ounce of recognition.
All hope evaporated from her body as he thundered, “Is that woman wearing my bride’s dress? Somebody find Giselle!”
“The hag must be playing a cruel joke!” a guest accused.
“Escort her outside,” Lucian roared to an usher.
A burly man took Giselle by the arm and dragged her out the front door. Once he disappeared back into the church, another strong arm grabbed her unexpectedly and thrust her inside an awaiting carriage.
Giselle quaked with terror as she stared at the enormous man hovering over her.
“I work for Ileana.” He grunted. “She commands that you become her servant woman—until she grows tired of you and decides to turn you back into your normal self.”
Giselle made another futile attempt to cry out.
The henchman crossed his arms and shook his head. “You won’t be talking, singing, or screaming for a very long time, Miss Swenov. That should make for a quiet ride to Dantel House.”