The Gramarye Series
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Highland Press
Date of Publication: September 24, 2014
Number of pages: 292
Word Count: 92,000
Cover Artist: Iris Hunter
What happens when a dysfunctional witch and a tough PI work together to save an aging apartment house filled with ghosts, dragons and one oversexed house plant?
Spirits, spells and mayhem…Magic rises in the Gramarye
Melian Devlin is a witch who often resorts to exotic and slightly illegal methods of acquiring money to maintain the 300-year-old Gramarye, the stone apartment house that’s her heart and home. Her life is a series of skirmishes that occasionally end with her behind bars.
Titus Moran is a no-nonsense PI who makes big bucks busting insurance fraud schemes. So how did he wind up in a tortuous battle to keep Melian out of jail? Did the delightful young witch with her gray eyes and magic at her fingertips enchant him—or does the Gramarye hold greater mysteries.
Titus will enter a new exciting world when he joins Melian in her quest to save the Gramarye. Melian will fumble along in her usual impulsive way, leaving a trail of disasters behind her. If they’re lucky, they might survive.
Melian Devlin considered her arrest late Friday evening an ill omen, a portent of dire thingsto come. At the very least, it would ruin her weekend. Her bad luck had continued after her arrest when she’d found herself standing before Judge Franklin P.O. Merkle. Merkle’s exact words were, “You again?”
He’d set her bail at an obscene five thousand dollars.
Psychic readings weren’t illegal in the City of Ashburn, Florida, but selling magic potions skirted the legal line of medicine, hence her arrest. And then there was the sticky issue of not having a business license—again. Minor infractions. So why did Merkle have such a burr up his ass? Maybe because he was working late on Friday? The malicious cop with an aversion to psychics hadn’t helped either.
Standing behind bars at ten o’clock that night, listening to her Great Uncle Will royally chew her butt, confirmed Mel’s dismal assessment of the situation.
“Psychic?” Will’s deep voice rumbled the word. His tired eyes watched her from a weather worn face. “Mel, honey, you ain’t no psychic. You’re a witch. You’re supposed to use magic.”
He shook his head. “I understand why you can’t get a regular job, but can’t you find something irregular you’re good at? Or at least something legal?” He glanced over his shoulder and pitched his voice lower. “You should’ve marked a cop soon as he walked in the door, then spelled him out of making an arrest. You’re allowed basic self-defense. I taught you that.”
Mel winced at Uncle Will’s words. He had taught her. She was simply incredibly incompetent at casting spells and making potions, and utterly terrified of making a mistake. What if she hurt someone? Pretending to be a psychic and selling a few harmless herbal elixirs was easier—and safer.
They’d put her in a simple holding cell inside the precinct station after she’d seen the judge. The arrangement gave detainees a chance to post bail before they moved them to the main jail downtown, something Mel had hoped to avoid. Prospects didn’t look good.
The sparse cell had a single bench bolted to the floor and air filled with the odor of acrid, nose-searing bleach. Her cellmates, two tough prostitutes, sat on the bench staring straight at the wall. Imperfect witch she might be, but she could still deal with the bullying they tried when she first came in.
“Will, please,” Mel begged. “Go talk to Milo for me. Give him an IOU. I’ll get the money some way.” Milo the Bail Bondsman, her father’s second cousin, usually handled her bail. Milo hadn’t returned any of her numerous calls.
“Yeah. Sure.” Will laughed, but it didn’t sound funny. “Gettin’ money some way is what landed you here. I can hear Milo now. Cousin Melian? She told my Granny Panopoulos to put all her money on a horse named Show-Too in the third race and—”
“I told her thirty dollars to show on the number three horse, not… Oh, hell.” She wrapped her hands around the bars to steady herself.
Granny Panopoulos had cried to Mel about not being able to pay her mortgage and buy food in the same month. She figured Granny could lose thirty dollars and learn an excellent lesson about the futility of gambling. How was Mel to know the woman had fifty thousand dollars tucked in her mattress and a persistent bookie looking over her shoulder? Oh, right, she was supposed to be a psychic.
“Okay, girl, here’s the deal.” Will shoved his hands in his pockets like he always did when he had to deliver bad news. “I’ll get you out on Monday—” “Monday?”
“Yep. I’m not going to call Milo on a Friday evening or ruin his weekend. And I don’t trust anyone else.” Will’s head bobbed. His sorrowful expression tore at her. His eyes remained bright and his mind-dagger sharp, but time had worn his aging body. He loved her, and she shouldn’t have troubled him.
“Ya’ know Mel...” He sighed. “Honey, you’re twenty-seven years old. Couple of days and nights in jail won’t hurt. ‘Bout time you learned a lesson. Past time, in fact. While you’re there, think about having to stay longer, what might happen then.” He turned and shuffled out of the room.
Mel leaned her forehead against the cold hard bars. What a stinking mess. She wasn’t a true psychic, but the power, the magic she lived by, occasionally gave her glimpses into the situations surrounding people. A haphazard thing she couldn’t control, but between it and the potions, she made a little money—as long as some cop with an attitude didn’t arrest her.
Mel had paid little attention when the nervous young man with dark, curly hair entered her low-rent storefront room four hours ago. He had a sweet, shy smile and almost pretty face. Not a hint of a cop in him. He paid her forty dollars for a reading and asked her if he would ever find true love. His precise words. “True love.” That alone should have tipped her off. She felt sorry for him and tried to sell him a magic potion. Only a twenty-dollar mixture of Vitamin B and Ginseng, but with the power of suggestion, it might be enough to adjust his outlook on life. He was far too good-natured and attractive to be alone. Then his partner had charged in and gleefully busted her. It didn’t take much to make some cops happy.
Character Name: Melian Devlin
Character Bio: Born into a family of witches in Ashburn, Florida, orphaned at twelve, Melian Devlin was chosen at thirteen to be the Guardian of the Gramarye. The Gramarye is a three-story build brought stone by stone from Europe and is an icon/temple of all the witches in the city. For expediency, it was modified into an apartment house in the 1940’s. The building is sentient, or maybe something sentient lives there, but has a power of its own and it chose Melian as its Guardian.
Melian grew up in the Gramarye, always aware of it and her responsibility, but she is woefully inadequate for the task. The witches of Ashburn deeply resented her being chosen, so they shunned her and do everything they can to make her miserable. They vehemently disagree with her actions and her choice of tenants to live in the building. Her guardian, her Grandmother Cleo, is reclusive and doesn’t help. Melian is strong, but erratic, especially when it comes to magic. In her desperation keep things going, she occasionally resorts to minor fraud and theft. She really is a good person and deserves better in life.
Describe yourself what is your worst and best quality?
I think my best quality is my ability to laugh. Sometimes bad things happen to me, starting when my Mom and Dad were killed in an accident. I was twelve and it hurt for a long time. It still hurts, but I have what they taught me and I can face what comes. My worst quality is my failure to take some important things seriously. When I have so many important things I need to do, to obtain, I sometimes refuse to look at the consequences of my actions.
What is the one thing you wish other people knew about you?
I wish they knew how much I want to do what is right. Other people only see the consequences of my actions. They won’t help me, and blame me when things go wrong.
What is your biggest secret something no one knows about?
Biggest secret? How utterly terrified I am sometimes. I can cover it with a joke or laughter, but I want to crawl in the basement and hide.
What are you most afraid of?
Failure. Failure to keep and take care of the greatest responsibility in my life, the Gramarye.
What do you want more than anything?
For my plans to work when I take action. Just work. Half-assed work is okay, one time out of three or four is okay, too.
What is your relationship status?
None. Absolutely zilch. No guy hangs with me long. I’m too strange. Any guy I go with gets really freaked when certain magical events occur. And the witch families who do know what’s happening won’t let their sons anywhere near me.
How would you describe your sense of fashion?
Thrift shop chic. Hand me down boutique. My cousin Raziya is rich and the only family member who is my BFF, gives me her things. They’re wonderful, but usually too fancy for me to crawl around in the basement fixing the plumbing.
How much of a rebel are you?
Define rebel. While some things I do seem rebellious, I’m just accepting responsibility the best way I can.
What do you considered to be your greatest achievement?
I’ve made it without giving up. I’m 28. I managed to finish high-school in spite of poverty and days missed taking care of the Gramarye or its tenants. I endured the taunts from classmates for my clothing, occasional savagery and humiliation from the witches who resent the Gramarye choosing me to be its Guardian. I made it.
What is your idea of happiness?
That’s a hard question. Being a person who lives in the present, the now, my idea of happiness can change from day to day. It could be a good meal with my few friends, or pipes that don’t leak. I’m such an incompetent witch that a spell that actually worked right would make me ecstatic.
What is your current state of mind?
Pretty good. All the tenants paid their rent this month and I had enough money to pay the electric bill. It’s the small victories that keep me going.
What is your most treasured possession?
I’m not one to collect things. I do have a small locket that belonged to my Mom. It has a picture of her and Dad inside.
What is your most marked characteristic?
My uncontrolled mouth. It will spout off words without my any consideration of the consequences.
What is it that you, most dislike?
Witches who believe they have the right to control others. Oh, they might have the power to do so, but they will never have the right. I will fight them as long as I live and breathe.
Which living person do you, most despise?
My Uncle, Nicholas Ratavick. When my parents died, he wanted to take control of the Gramarye by taking control of me. My grandmother was named my legal guardian and she won in court, but his high class lawyers kept on until she was totally broke. Although he is my father’s brother, I’m terrified of him. I spent those years in fear that he would actually take me away.
What is your greatest regret?
That I didn’t have time in my life to cultivate more relationships with people I would like to have as friends. It isn’t my fault, but I’d be a better person if I could.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
Acceptance of things as they are. Acceptance of the strange and unusual. Acceptance of me as I am, even though I’m strange an unusual.
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Same as above. I like people who look at the world and see the possibilities without preconceived ideas of how things should be.
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
I’d be a little less erratic. Not a lot less, just a little. Being me is just so much fun.
What is your motto?
“That’s not the way it was supposed to happen.”
Lee Roland is a full time writer who lives in North Central Florida. She loves the peaceful rural area where she shares a home with three small dogs who think they are pit bulls and an evil cat with sharp claws.
Lee writes stories of urban fantasy and paranormal romance where strong men and women battle the wickedness hiding under the surface of the modern world. Her characters are passionate in life and love and are formidable enemies to the malevolent criminals in their worlds.
Her first series, the Earth Witches, was published beginning in 2011 by NAL. Her website, www.leeroland.com offers samples of the Earth Witches books and information on their world. There are short stories and news of any upcoming books and events.
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