Cassie Scot, Paranormal Detective
Secrets and Lies
by Christine Amsden
Cassie Scot: Paranormal Detective
Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family’s reputation isn’t easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.
Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective (Amazon link)
Secrets and Lies
Cassie Scot, still stinging from her parents’ betrayal, wants out of the magical world. But it isn’t letting her go. Her family is falling apart and despite everything, it looks like she may be the only one who can save them. To complicate matters, Cassie owes Evan her life, making it difficult for her to deny him anything he really wants. And he wants her. Sparks fly when they team up to find two girls missing from summer camp, but long-buried secrets may ruin their hopes for happiness.
Secrets and Lies (Amazon link)
FROM BOOK ONE
My parents think the longer the name, the more powerful the sorcerer, so they named me Cassandra Morgan Ursula Margaret Scot. You can call me Cassie.
I've been called a lot of things in my life: normal, ordinary, and even a disappointment. After the Harry Potter books came out, a couple of people called me a squib. Since I haven't read them, I have to assume it's a compliment.
Personally, I prefer normal, which is why the sign on my office door reads: Cassie Scot, Normal Detective.
You have to understand that around here, when your last name is Scot, people are easily confused. Not only are my parents powerful practitioners, but I have six talented brothers and sisters. Plus, my family hasn't always been known for its subtlety. When weird stuff happens around here, the people who are willing to believe in magic are prone to suspect the Scots.
The day I opened for business I got a call from an old woman who swore her cat was possessed by the devil. She also swore she'd read my web site, which clearly stated the types of work I did and did not do. Exorcisms were on the No list, and while I hadn't specified pet exorcisms, I would have thought it was implicit.
FROM BOOK TWO
Somehow, I knew it was Evan as soon as his fist hit the door. But unlike my father, I couldn't put him off because he'd set the wards. This meant he could go through them. Even if he hadn't, he could have commanded me to let him in.
Framed by the doorway, he looked impossibly large, though he was only half a foot or so taller than me, probably 6'1” or 6'2”. He had a lean, well-muscled frame, usually garbed in fitted, designer jeans and t-shirts. Today, the t-shirt was in his favorite shade of forest green, with a plea for people to recycle on the front. He wore his hair long, to just past his shoulders, making it longer than mine at the moment. (I had recently lost a lot of my hair to a fire.) Somehow, it heightened his masculinity, framing his hard face, and highlighting his blue eyes.
He looked good. He always looked good, only now the sight of him caused an odd fluttering in my stomach. Twice I had felt his lips on mine, and the result had been... intense. I was ashamed to realize that part of me wanted to feel them again.
Dangerous. I summed him up with that single word. Most of the town would agree, although until recently, I had never thought of him that way. He had been my friend, even my best friend at times, but now, thanks to a magical debt, he was my owner.
He was also the last thing standing between me and a completely normal, magic-free existence: A powerful, handsome roadblock who could make me forget my resolve with a kiss. I had wondered how long he would stay away before returning with all his considerable charm. He was a man who got what he wanted. Now, he wanted me.
A couple of years ago, when I was attending a local junior college, I had a friend named Jen who loved to read fantasy novels. Despite her best efforts, she never got me to read them, but she loved to tell me all about the adventures of sword and sorcery and, to a lesser extent, tales of modern fantasy.
I told her stories about my family, too. On more than one occasion she would burst out laughing and tell me I ought to write my ideas down.
I guess she never actually believed that I come from a long line of sorcerers. Considering how normal I turned out, I suppose I can't blame her.
One day, as we were chatting after class, my mom sent me a text message asking if I could pick up a couple dozen eggs on the way home from school. I mentioned the message to Jen, who got an oddly pensive look on her face. Then she said, “If your mom's a sorcerer, why's she texting you?”
I drew a blank. “Because she's out of eggs?”
“No,” Jen said, “I mean, doesn't magic cause modern things to break or something?”
“Why would it do that?” I suspected that whatever she was on about had something to do with the books she liked to read. Though I'd never been interested in those types of stories myself, I was truly intrigued by the idea that magic and modern technology might not work well together.
“Well, because magical energy and things like electricity might interfere with one another.”
“You are aware that our bodies send out lots of electrical impulses, right? I mean, it's just a force of nature, like heat or sound.” I was picturing someone having a heart attack every time they managed to cast a spell.
Jen frowned. “I hadn't thought of that. I guess it's not electricity, then, just modern gadgets.”
“So what, anything invented after 1353?”
“All right, all right, I get it,” Jen said. “But why would a sorcerer use a text message when she'd have magical alternatives?”
“You mean, like a journey book, where she writes a message on her end and it shows up on mine?”
“Yeah, something like that.”
“Well,” I said, drawing out the answer for effect, “I guess it's because a journey book requires human blood and the cell phone company just wants a two year contract and a monthly service fee.”
4 out of 5 stars
Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective
Cassandra Morgan Ursula Margaret Scot prefers to be called Cassie (and no wonder). She is the eldest child of two powerful magic users but is the only one of the magical seven who has no powers. Her decision to become a detective after her short-lived career as a sheriff’s deputy results in a less than lucrative business but at least it gets her out of the magic-filled household that reminds her of her lack. Her friendship with Evan Blackwood, scion of a family that has a traditional antipathy for her own, is complicated by the fact that he is one of the most powerful sorcerers in town but she no longer feels quite comfortable in his presence. A case that she accepts ensnares her in the magical and vampiric machinations in town and somehow Evan becomes more important in her life, despite her relationship with her intermittent boyfriend, Braden. A serious upheaval in the Scot family coincides with an increase in danger to Cassie with the unforeseen result that she becomes indebted to Evan more than she ever dreamed she would be or wants.
This entertaining and imaginative story provides an intriguing twist on some of the traditional views of magic even as it addresses the concepts of inferiority and sibling competition. Cassie is a delightfully down-to-earth heroine even though she has traditionally existed in a bubble of privilege that she wasn’t aware of. Her complex relationships with her parents, her friend Evan and her siblings highlight the difficulties of being unable to be completely truthful with one another as everyone has an agenda that can be at cross-purposes and even detrimental to one another. I am not too thrilled by the actions of those who supposedly care for Cassie even though she will undoubtedly become a stronger person (if she survives long enough) in response to the wrongs perpetrated on her. There are intriguing and unexpected developments that hopefully will be explained in subsequent stories and I look forward to reading more of Cassie’s adventures.
4 out of 5 stars
Secrets and Lies by Christine Amsden is the second book in the ‘Cassie Scot’ series and continues immediately after the momentous events in the first book. Cassie is still reeling from the actions of her parents and the obligations she owes Evan Blackwood even as she struggles to find a way to support herself. An investigation into the disappearance of two girls who have ties to the Scot and Blackwood families forces Cassie to work with Evan despite her misgivings about not belonging to either the magical or the normal world around her. The hostilities between the two families have only escalated due to Cassie’s circumstances and her relationship with Evan is even more tortuous than ever. Unfortunately, Cassie discovers that the secrets surrounding the missing girls are not the only ones she needs to uncover and she may never recover from the shock of her discoveries.
This young adult paranormal tale is best read after the first in the series so that one has the full background on certain extreme changes in the heroine’s life. There is a wonderful combination of mystery and magic in this tale mixed with a variety of tangled life choices that complicate the actions of many of the individuals in Cassie’s life. There are explanations for certain behaviors but I am not totally convinced that they provide sufficient justifications for apparently irrational decisions. There is again a surprising development at the very end of the story which will definitely whet one’s appetite for the next book in the series. I particularly enjoyed the new twist on the “kiss and frog” relationship which reflects this author’s sly humor that is demonstrated in many of Cassie’s solutions for her problems and I look forward to learning more about the remarkable people who populate the unusual town of Eagle Rock.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Award-winning author Christine Amsden has written stories since she was eight, always with a touch of the strange or unusual. She became a “serious” writer in 2003, after attending a boot camp with Orson Scott Card. She finished Touch of Fate shortly afterward, then penned The Immortality Virus, which won two awards. Expect many more titles by this up-and-coming author.
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