Lalin Bonheur Author:Margaret O. Howard Genre:Paranormal Mystery / Romance
When Lalin Bonheur shape shifts, she roams the Vieux Carre as a sleek tuxedo cat to learn the secrets of her city. But on her debut at a Quadroon Ball in 1830 this octoroon beauty meets and falls in love with French aristocrat, Etienne Legendre. Etienne becomes her protector and he soon learns that his mistress leads a second life as a healer and voudou priestess. Their story takes a bizarre turn after Lalin's protector marries. His wife, Minette, dies mysteriously and he is charged with murder. Lalin concocts a zombie potion to assist him in his escape from jail. The couple sail upriver to hide until they can prove his innocence. But their struggles only become more challenging, when they face the fearsome loup-garou (wolf men of Louisiana) and then a giant bird. Lalin must use her magic to battle these monsters. But it's what she learns about the vicious feathered creature that brings the story to its climax.
Etienne watches me drinking from the calabash, my giant gourd. The libation to the spirits I pour onto the courtyard stones. My feet shift, spirits pass through me. I twirl in waves of motion, never breaking the rhythm of my dance. Breathing fast, I lift my body, spinning on my toes. He stands in the darkness near the doorway, passion in his moonlit eyes, not knowing that I see him. My wide skirt swirls above the candle circle. Watch me dance, my love, I whisper. Now my feet lift high and pound the stones like flying mallets, while candle flames lick my toes. A tangle of bedclothes is spread across the four-poster in my boudoir. Only hours ago we rolled on that mattress, making the canopy rattle. He does love me, that I know. And he’s seen my talents with the magic. His devotion sends the voudou pumping through veins. This café au lait woman, his octoroon mistress, dances full out. But soon my body will be melting, shrinking, and that he’s never seen. My spinning stops, my skirt ripples as I stand before my altar praying to the saints. My candles flicker. The power’s in me, and just like that I see the flames turn blue. My skin tightens, bristles. I’m sinking now. Breathe, breathe, I say to myself. I’m down, I’m down. It’s too dark for Etienne to see what’s happening to me, but his eyes widen as my form changes in the shadows of the yard. He watches from the open doorway of my parlor and then rushes through onto the courtyard stones. He stands tall in his finely tailored suit. But the mist rises around me, so that I am hidden. At this moment I am changing, rising up on my haunches.
“Lalin,” he calls, “Lalin, where are you?” I sit, still and elegant, and then lower my head to lick my midnight fur and wipe my whiskers with a paw. But Etienne stumbles in the mist, swaying in the darkness as he trips over my candles and falls on the stone floor. But magic makes him sleep, distorts his memory, and gives me time to find my answers. I have much to learn this night when I travel in my feline shape. And this is how I know what happens in the back streets and secret hideaways in our New Orleans.
Margaret O. Howard is a writer and former dancer, who grew up in the Deep South and currently walks the gulf beaches of Florida every morning, She adores her two sons, three rescue cats, cool weather, travel, photography, ballet, books, and mermaids. Her novel, Lalin Bonheur, is set in the city of voudou queens, New Orleans. You can visit her at margaretohoward.wordpress,com, Margaret Howard Trammell on Facebook, or @howardomargaret on Twitter.