Eighteen-year-old Leah Sullivan lost both her brother and her childhood sweetheart on the same Civil War battlefield. Left a spinster, she dutifully cares for her parents while trying to survive on their farm in Georgia after the South’s surrender. With her now-barren mother believing a fertility spell to be the only way she can bear another family heir, Leah acts in secret to obtain the mojo from the dangerous conjurer Kali Despierre.
When handsome veteran Marcus Quinn comes calling to deliver her brother’s last words, sparks fly between the mysterious soldier and lonely Leah. To her delight, Marcus accepts her father’s offer to remain as a hired hand.
Although they are falling in love, Leah keeps from Marcus what haunts her: will her mother’s “conjured” babe be cursed? Her fears seem realized when Elijah is born with the birth sac covering his face. Suspicions plague such newborns, known as caulbearers.
The strangeness of Elijah’s birth convinces Kali that she has conjured a special voodoo babe. She kidnaps him and heads to New Orleans, certain the Queen of Voodoo, Marie Laveau, will pay gold for him. Rumors abound that the Queen sacrifices infants to the voodoo gods on October 31, the Day of the Dead, only weeks away.
Leah, with Marcus at her side, chases after Kali to save her brother from the voodoo underworld. The couple’s passion heats up while sleeping under the stars only inches apart and surrounded by peril. However, through a cruel twist of fate, Leah discovers the devastating secret about Marcus’s past that breaks her heart and jeopardizes her brother’s rescue.
Will Leah’s love for Marcus be powerful enough to overcome his betrayal? Or will dangerous conjurings doom their future together?
Uncaged Review: This book takes place at the end of the Civil War in Dec. 1864. The families in the area have been devastated with losing fathers and sons. Leah Sullivan lost her only brother William and her fiancé Fitzgerald. As the story opens, Leah, being the dutiful daughter, is doing to the local hoodoo priestess for her mother who believes the woman is able to help her have another child. Leah discovers her mother stole her $20 gold piece to pay Kali Despierre. As Kali calling on her powers, she says, HajilE be. When turned around it is Elijah be. Her mother does end up having a boy who she names Elijah, but it was at a cost as her mother becomes weak and never recovers her strength.
Meanwhile, a soldier comes to their home to deliver a letter he promised William he would deliver for him. Everyone assumes he was in the same regiment as William. He stays and helps Mr. Sullivan to work the farm and be close to Leah, even though he backs off from any type of involvement with her.
Kali believes Elijah is possessed of the power to help others control black magic due to being born with a caul (The fetal sac over his face) and three moon shape birth marks on his fore head. From that Kali believes he has been blessed by the moon god, Kalfur. Her plan is to take him to New Orleans and sell him to Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen (No the first spelling isn’t a mistake, There is hoodoo and voodoo) Leah confronts Kali, who agrees to read the Tarot cards for her only to have the scarab on the one card transfer to the hand Leah holds the card in. It scares Kali who then tells her to leave, refusing the give the rest of the reading. Leah does after threatening the woman with her own knife before taking the cards and the knife with her when she believes Elijah isn’t there.
You now have the premise for this book. Marcus is falling in love with Leah and vise-versa. He finishes the reading of the tarot cards for Leah. They go after Kali to get Elijah back when they discover he didn’t die as they originally believe. The tarot cards play a big role in the search for Elijah, as does the knife and Marie Laveau.
I did find some of the ancillary characters quite stereotyped, but overall, it is well written. I found it a fun read with several twists and turns, one which you don’t expect. It is one of those unexpected good reads which take you on a journey into the past. The research was good and the authenticity of the settings and the time made you feel like you were there with Leah. I give it 4.5 stars. Reviewed by Barbara
4 1/2 Stars