But I’m just as in love with two of the secondary characters, Grand-mère and Sam Many-Winters, aka Gramps. Grand-mère is old. How old? At one point she condenses the history of white people in Canada to about three sentences, because from her ancient perspective, that’s about as long as their puny little history deserves. She’s not actually a goddess, but people have worshipped her. And she just loves interfering in the lives of her descendants, especially their love lives.
Gramps is a less formidable character. He may be a powerful human shaman, but no one’s ever mistaken him for a deity. For one thing, deities aren’t prone to wearing Bugs Bunny boxer shorts over their jeans instead of under them. On the other hand, he’s good friends with Coyote, the Coyote. They watch Warner Brothers cartoons together on a TV that doesn’t actually plug into anything. When the book starts, he’s fallen into depression after the death of his only child, Cara’s mother, has stopped practicing magic, and may die as a result. Luckily Cara and his good friend Coyote pull him out of his funk.
Because when things get tough, Cara and Jack need the wisdom and experience of Gramps and Grand-mère to save the day.
Here’s a brief introduction to Gramps in action:
“The green button means go, right?” He began to dial. “What do you think? 1-800-COYOTE sounds promising.”
“I was kidding, Gramps. The phone doesn’t work anyway.”
Gramps cackled so loudly they could probably hear him above the Arctic Circle. “It doesn’t matter if the phone works, Cara. I’m calling Coyote. If he wants to take the call, he will.”
He held the small red-and-silver device out a little gingerly and dialed.
Despite a dead battery and no signal, she could hear it ringing.
She froze when she heard a voice.
“Coyote’s not home right now,” it said. It was raspy, whisky-and tobacco-laced, prankish and intimate, yet doing its best to sound like a machine. “Or he is, but he’s eating or fucking or napping and doesn’t feel like being interrupted. Please leave a message at the sound of the…”
Then the tone changed, no longer pretending to be a recording. “Sam, where have you been? Your time’s almost up. Expiration date quickly approaching. But I don’t think earth’s quite done with you yet.”
Cara didn’t think her grandfather, with his weathered bronze skin, could turn pale. She was wrong. Then again, she didn’t think a cartoon sledgehammer could pop out of her phone and bop her grandfather on the head. “I never left you, Sam Many-Winters. You’re a moron. I’ve. Been. Right. Here. All. Along.” The last six words were punctuated by more bops on the head with the impossible hammer. The blows didn’t seem to hurt. If anything, each one left Gramps looking more focused and determined. “All you had to do was ask properly, and by properly I don’t mean one more snore of a ritual, but in your own way. Now that you finally did, yes, I’ll take you up on that steak—with a side of whoop-ass for sorcerers.”
The visitor wore a pale buckskin dress ornamented with beads and porcupine quills, not a fashion statement but traditional Native clothing, and no coat despite the frigid February weather. Her silvery braids were fastened with rawhide strips. Not something you saw every day in Toronto. Maybe the old lady figured serious business like a visit to the police station merited her version of a weddings-and-funerals suit or dress uniform.
“May I help you, ma’am?” The unusual visitor had roused her curiosity, which could only be good.
“No, but I can help you, Cara.”
How did she know Cara’s first name? Her name plate just said Mackenzie.
The elderly woman extended a small, bony hand, and Cara instinctively took it. She expected it to be icy. Instead, it was hot. As soon as they touched, Cara felt like she was focusing properly on the other woman for the first time. She blinked and recognized her visitor at last. “Grand-mère? Is that you?”
It couldn’t be. Cara had been ten the last time she’d seen the elder of her mother’s village, and the old lady must have been over eighty then. But the woman nodded and smiled. It was an odd smile, like a tree smiling, serene in a way that you didn’t normally see on a human face. “Of course it is, silly. Who else would I be? It’s time to come home, Cara. Come to Couguar-Caché before it’s too late.”
Couguar-Caché—“hidden cougar” in French—her mother’s ancestral village. A place so remote Cara had never been able to find it on a map, even though she knew she’d been there as a little girl. Yeah, just where she wanted to visit in the depths of winter.
As the old woman spoke, the room closed in, leaving only Cara and Grand-mère. The rest of the squad room was still out there—Cara could hear voices, a ringing cell phone—but they were hidden somehow, masked by a fog. Grand-mère had been seated, but suddenly, with no transition Cara noticed, she was standing in an archway made of snow-weighted evergreen boughs. Behind her, where Cara should have seen Dalhousie’s chaotic desk and the captain’s neat one, was forest and snow, woodland twilight and the corner of a log cabin. A cold, bracing wind blew through the archway, smelling of snow and pine and wood smoke. Somewhere in the background, she could make out a tall man with long dark hair. He turned and looked through the weird portal straight at her with intense amber eyes. He was movie-star gorgeous.
Series blurb: Welcome to an America where the non-human Different and magically gifted humans live among ordinary people. Witches are both feared and honored, but shape-shifting Duals are treated as second-class citizens. The Agency, a government agency that’s supposed to monitor illegal uses of magic and Different abilities, has developed its own dangerous agenda. But when Duals and witches join forces, the Agency and other bad guys aren’t going to know what hit them.
And neither are the witches and Duals. Witch magic grows from the positive energy of love and sex–and the only thing better than one Dual is two of them! And then there are shamans, who work their chaotic magic to comfort the afflicted and shake up the comfortable. Once shamans get involved, everything gets weirder…and sexier.
Novel Blurb: Toronto cop Cara Many-Winters Mackenzie is still reeling from her fiancé’s murder when her orderly life takes a turn toward the weird, complete with voices in her head and phantom bleeding wounds.
This violent awakening is the rise of her Different gift—a chaotic, Bugs-Bunny-on-crack magic that she must learn to control before it destroys her. There’s only one place to get help: her mother’s ancestral village, and a mentor who seems to have stepped straight out of the smoke of her erotic dreams.
Cougar Dual Jack Long-Claw reluctantly agrees to take Cara under his wing, though he’d much rather take the beautiful city girl into his bed. As he guides her through a crash course in shamanic magic, sparks fly—some sexy, some snarky. But when an ancient enemy attacks the village, they must work together to hone a magical weapon against certain destruction.
Common sense tells them it’s a terrible time to fall in love. Their spirit guides have other ideas. And shamans who don’t listen to their spirit guides are dead shamans…
Like the sound of this? I’m running a contest on my own website for a chance to win this book and the first book in the series, Lions’ Pride. Commenting here or at my site enters you. Comment here and there, get two entries.