Book Review + Meet Pepper McKay (Character Interview by Tena Stetler)
Today I welcome the lovely and talented Tena Stetler back to Spunk & Hunks. She’s visited twice before, and it’s always a pleasure to host a fellow author from The Wild Rose Press garden. Today, you get a double dose of romance goodness —my review of her latest book, A Witch’s Journey, and a character interview from Tena featuring the book’s heroine, Pepper McKay. Enjoy!
I love writing paranormal romance, but I also love reading it whenever I get the chance. This week, I had the pleasure of reading A Witch’s Journey, thanks to Tena graciously providing me with a free copy in exchange for a review. These days, the sparse style of writing has become in vogue and a lot of authors skimp on description in favor of action. It’s refreshing to pick up a paranormal romance like Tena’s, where she takes the time to invite us inside the characters’ hearts and minds and draws us into the setting through beautiful descriptions. We get to know Lobster Cove and Pepper’s aviary, along with her magical feathered friends. I love the sweet and tender relationship between Pepper and Lathen, as they grow closer over time. The love scenes are steamy but fun, showing us the playful passion these two charming characters share.
Tena also integrates one of my favorite themes — redemption. Pepper has escaped her past in Salem, Massachusetts, where she was outed as a witch and ostracized. She needs a fresh start, and finds it in Lobster Cove. The story offers romance, suspense, mystery, and of course, paranormal spookiness. A perfect combination!
This was the first book I’ve read from the Lobster Cove series, a multi-author series from The Wild Rose Press. I look forward to reading both more of Tena’s wonderful prose and more stories from the world of Lobster Cove.
Meet Pepper McKay
Please tell us your name and a little about your background.
Good Morning, I’m Pepper McKay of the McKay witches, a powerful group to be sure. But In my case, magic has brought me nothing but trouble. On the anniversary of the Salem’s Witch trials, a magic storm raged and nearly destroyed the wildlife sanctuary I’d spent the last 10 years pouring my heart and soul in. So I had to use magic to save the sanctuary, but was outed as a witch and had to leave. Imagine that in Salem, Massachusetts. As I was moving out of my apartment, a private investigator visited me with paperwork that indicated I had inherited my Aunt Ashling’s property in Lobster Cove. It was a shock to say the least. She’d been gone for five years, but apparently set up a Life Estate for her partner, who now wished to leave the property, as she was unable to care for it anymore. That is another story for another time. LOL
What is your greatest strength?
The ability to help wildlife. I have a special connection to them and I am confident in my abilities.
Is there someone special in your life?
Yes, Lathen Quartz. He was the handyman for my aunt’s estate and he stayed on when I took over. He was a Navy SEAL you know. Until he was wounded in the line of duty. That’s another can of worms. Spending long hours together getting on Lobster Cove Wildlife Rescue and Rehab up and running, we grew close, really close. He can do anything, but…sometimes he gets in his own way. You know what I mean?
What obstacles stand in the way of your happiness?
Someone is trying to steal the McKay magic and sabotage the LCWRR. And Lathen keeps shutting me out, and to be fair, there’s a few secrets I haven’t told him either. But we are working on that.
What is the worst thing you ever had to do and why did you feel compelled to do it?
Leave the Salem Rescue. Gwen, the owner is my best friend and we’d been through a lot together. But I had to leave otherwise people threatened to pull their support and funding. I couldn’t let that happen.
Tena Stetler is a paranormal romance and cozy mystery author with an over-active imagination. She wrote her first vampire romance as a tween, to the chagrin of her mother and the delight of her friends. With the Rocky Mountains outside her window, Tena sits at her computer surrounded by a wide array of paranormal creatures telling her their tales. Colorado is her home; shared with her husband of many moons, a brilliant Chow Chow, a spoiled parrot and a forty-year-old box turtle. Any winter evening, you can find her curled up in front of a crackling fire with a good book, a mug of hot chocolate and a big bowl of popcorn. During the summer you can find her cozied up around a campfire with a good book.
Pepper McKay comes from a long line of powerful witches. Unfortunately, magic brings her nothing but trouble. She learned the love of wildlife rescue and rehab from her Aunt Ashling. After graduating from college, Pepper works for Salem Wildlife Sanctuary and lives from paycheck to paycheck until she inherits the McKay property in Lobster Cove. With the family land and resources, she dares to dream of starting her own wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center.
Lathen Quartz, a former Navy SEAL turned handyman maintains the enchanted McKay property for the McKay estate. But someone is trying to steal the McKay magic. Lathen offers to help Pepper achieve her life-long dream of building a wildlife center. During the long hours spent together on the project, their mutual attraction can’t be denied. But each harbors a deep, dark secret. Will they overcome their demons and give love a chance?
Pepper hopped out of the truck and took a deep breath. The ocean breeze brought a mixed scent of brine, sand, sun and kelp. Seabirds whistled and screeched through the air diving into the white crested waves, proudly emerging with dinner. Turning her attention to the land, she noticed beyond the barn, the pond was still there, even a bit bigger than she remembered. Caught up in the smells, sights, and sounds, she didn’t hear someone approach.
“Ssss**t,” she yelped and whirled around to see a muscular man, well over six feet, with surfer blond hair nearly to his shoulders, tousled by the ocean breeze. Rounding the corner of the cabin, he waved at her as he approached walking with a slight limp. Deeply tanned, he appeared to spend a lot of time outdoors.
“I’m Lathen Quartz. Glad you made it before dark. The road up here can be treacherous after dark if you don’t know where you’re going. I finished up the enclosed aviary and was getting ready to leave. But now that you’re here, I’d be happy to show you around. Help you get settled.”
“Pepper McKay, call me Pepper.” Extending her hand towards him, she met his gaze. His large aquamarine eyes were mesmerizing, set above the high cheekbones, full lips and a butterscotch five o’clock shadow. She gave her head a shake. “Wait. You built an aviary?”
He shook her hand and smiled, shoving his hands in the pockets of his jeans and rocking back on his heels.