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Daughter of the Spellcaster (The Portal) Mass Market Paperback – November 13, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"Maggie Shayne demonstrates an absolutely superb touch, blending fantasy and romance into an outstanding reading experience."

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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Magdalena Dunkirk waddled to the front door of her blissful, peaceful home outside Ithaca, New York, with one hand atop her watermelon-sized belly. "I'm coming!" she called. It took her longer to get around these days, and her mother was out running a few errands.

They didn't get a lot of company. They'd only been living at the abandoned vineyard known as Havenwood, on the southern tip of Cayuga Lake, for a little over six months, and aside from their nearest neighbor, Patrick Cartwright, a kind curmudgeon who was also a retired doctor, and the two middle-aged, strictly in-the-broom-closet witches her mom hung out with, they barely knew anyone. Then again, she and her mother tended to keep to themselves. Lena liked it that way.

She got to the big oak door and opened it to see the last person she would have expected. Okay, the second-to-last person. Waist-length dreadlocks—both hair and beard—a red-and-white sari, and sad brown eyes staring into hers. She met them for only a moment, then looked past the guru for his ever-present companion. But Bahru was alone. Only a black car stood beyond him in the curving, snow-covered drive. "Where's Ernst?" she asked.

"Your baby's grandfather has gone beyond the veil, Magdalena."

Ernst? Dead? It didn't seem possible. Lena closed her eyes, lowered her head. "How?"

"He died in his sleep last night. I wanted to tell you before you heard it on the news."

Blinking back tears, she opened the door wider. A wintry breeze blew in, causing the conch shell chimes to clatter and clack. "Come in, Bahru."

He shook his head slowly. "No time. It's a long drive back."

She blinked at him. He was eccentric, yes. Obviously. But… "You drove all the way out here just to tell me Ryan's father is dead, and now you're going to turn around and drive all the way back? You could have told me with a phone call, Bahru."

"Yes. But…" He shrugged a bag from his shoulder. It was olive drab, made of canvas, with a buckle and a flap, which he unfastened and opened. "He wanted you to have this," he said.

Lena watched, wishing he would come inside and let her shut the door but not wanting to be rude and tell him so. So she stood there, holding it open and letting the heat out into the late January cold, and watching as he pulled an elaborately carved wooden box from the bag.

It caught her eye, because it looked old. And sort of…mystical. It was smaller than a shoe box, heavy and hinged, with a small latch on the front. As she took it from him, he went on. "Of course there will be more. I came to tell you that, too. You must come back to New York City, Lena. You and the child are named in his will."

She looked up from the box sharply and shook her head. "That's sweet of him, but I don't want his money. I never did. I won't—I can't take it, you know that, Bahru. It would just convince Ryan that everything he ever thought about me was true." She clutched the box in her hands, her heart tripping over itself. Maybe because she'd said Ryan's name twice in the past two minutes after not uttering it once in more than six months. "How is he taking his dad's death?"

"As if he doesn't care."

"He cares. I know he does. He's angry with his father, has been since his mother died, but he loves him." God, it was a crying shame he'd never gotten around to telling his father so. She wondered what would happen to the businesses, the empire Ernst had built, since his only son wanted no part of any of it.

Bahru said nothing for a long moment. He just stood there, fingering a crystal prism that hung from a chain around his neck. Lena noticed it because she was into crystals—so was her mom—and because Bahru always wore exactly the same things. Same robes, just with an extra white wrap over top in colder months. Same shoes, the faux leather moccasin-style slippers in winter and the sandals Mom called "Jesus shoes" in the summer. Same green canvas bag over his shoulder everywhere he went. The crystal pendant was new. Different. She'd never seen him wear jewelry before.

"Will you come?" he asked at length.

Lena pushed a long auburn spiral behind her ear. "Ryan still doesn't know about…about the baby, does he?" she asked, looking down at her belly, which made the tie-dyed hemp maternity dress Mom had made for her look like a dome tent lying on its side. She wore a fringed shawl over it, because the dress was sleeveless and the old house was drafty. And haunted, but you know, being witches, they considered that a plus.

Bahru smiled very slightly. "He does not know. He still has no idea why you left. But he will guess when he sees you. You knew you would have to face that eventually, though."

She nodded. She didn't believe in lying and had no intention of keeping Ryan out of their child's life. She just kept putting off telling him, feeling unready to face him with the truth when she knew what he would think. And now… Well, now it looked as if she had no choice.

"I really wish I'd told him sooner. He doesn't need this to deal with on top of everything else."

"Perhaps the distraction will be welcome."

She lifted her brows. "Well, it'll distract him, all right. But it'll be welcome news about the same time pigs fly."

Bahru frowned.

She didn't bother explaining. In all the years he'd spent in the States since leaving his native Pakistan, there were still a lot of American expressions that perplexed him.

"Will you come?" he asked again.

Lena knew she had to go. Ernst McNally was her child's grandfather, after all. "Of course I'll come. When is the funeral?"

"Tomorrow at one. St. Patrick's Cathedral, of course."

"Of course." Nothing but the best for one of the richest men in the world.

"Good." He patted the box she was still holding. "Take good care of this. We found it in a Tibetan street vendor's stand amid piles of worthless trinkets. Ernst believed it was special. He said it had your name written all over it, but I never knew what he meant by that." He blinked slowly. "He would never let me touch it, never let anyone touch it. Said it was for your hands alone. Very strange. But I've respected his wishes and never touched it until it was time to bring it to you."

"Thank you, Bahru." She was curious, but too distracted by the thought of seeing Ryan again to open the box just then. "Are you sure you won't come in? Mom's out, but I could make some tea—"

"No. But I will see you soon, and perhaps…perhaps more. After."

It was her turn to frown. What did he mean by that?

Turning, he walked in his fake leather moccasins through the half inch of fresh snow—there had been so little that year that winter had felt more like late fall—to the waiting car. It was a black Lincoln with a driver behind the wheel, cap and all. Probably one of Ernst's. The billionaire-turned-spiritual-seeker had dozens of them, and whatever he had was at his personal guru's disposal.

Ryan wasn't likely to let that continue. He'd always thought the former guru-to-the-stars was a con artist, out to scam his father at his weakest moment, right after the untimely death of Ryan's mother twenty years ago. But Bahru had been at Ernst's side ever since, guiding him in a quest for understanding that had taken him to the far corners of the world. His businesses had been left in the hands of their boards of directors. And his son in the hands of boarding schools and nannies.

She wondered if Ernst had ever found what he'd been looking for, then decided he probably had now. Bahru eased his long limbs into the backseat, pulling the tail of the sari in behind him and closing the door. The car rolled away through the snow, and Lena stepped back and closed out the cold at last.

She was going back to Manhattan. She was going to see him again. Ryan McNally. The father of her unborn baby. The man she had once believed to be the handsome prince of her childhood fantasies come to life. Carrying the wooden box with her, she all but sleep-walked to the rattan rocking chair in front of the stacked stone fireplace that was one of her favorite parts of the house, even though it was old and had gaps where the mortar had fallen away. It was comforting, and she loved it. She sank into the chair and started rocking, memories flooding her mind.

She remembered the day she had first set eyes on her long-lost prince—other than in the face of her mother's magic mirror, and her childhood dreams, and the stories she had created out of them in construction paper and crayons. She'd taken one look at him and the impossible visions of her childhood had all come rushing back.

She had been completely at peace, loved her life, her job at a PR firm in New York City, where she made scads of money, and her pricey Manhattan apartment. Her practice of the Craft had matured. As she'd grown up, she had come to understand that magic was more about creative visualization and positive belief than flashes of light and sparkles. Her imaginary sister-friend Lilia had stopped showing up somewhere around the middle of fourth grade, as near as she could pin it.

It was all good. Or she thought it was. And yeah, she'd probably been skating, pretending there was nothing underneath the ice but more ice, ignoring the stuff she'd pushed down there, the stuff she'd frozen out. The undeniable experience of real magic. Those visions of past lives that had been so vivid and convincing at the time. Lilia, the chalice…the curse. A little girl with a witch for a mom and a huge imagination, that was all it was.

Only it wasn't.

She'd managed to deny every last bit of it until the night she met Ryan McNally. Her handsome prince, right down to the roots of his hair.

She'd been handed his father's account—temporarily, of course, while Bennet, Clarkson & Tate's senior partner, Bill Bennet, was recovering from a triple bypass. Timing was everything. Ernst McNally, billionaire, philanthropist, world traveler and spiritual seeker, had been named Now Magazine's Man of the Year and would receive the honor officially at a posh reception at the Waldorf Astoria. The other partners were booked, and Ernst was an important client. Lena was tapped to be the firm's stand-in, and she didn't kid herself by pretending it wasn't because, of all the younger associates, she would look best in a halter dress. It went against her grain, but she wasn't confrontational and she wasn't an activist. She figured she would use the opportunity to show them she was worthy by doing a bang-up job. Instead, she had pretty much proved the opposite by getting pregnant by the client's son, but that was getting ahead of the story a little.

That night changed her life forever. It was not only the night she had met the father of her baby, it was the night her imaginary childhood friend had returned as big as life and nearly given her heart failure. The night…she had learned that there might be a little bit more to magic than she had come to believe.

Either that, or that a high-pressure job in the big city was a little more stressful than she was equipped to handle.


She had no idea how long she'd been sitting in front of the crackling fireplace, staring into the flames. But when she heard her mom's voice, she brought her head up fast. Selma was standing there looking down at her, frowning. Her glorious red hair was shorter these days, and a few strands of gray dulled its old vibrancy a little. She still wore the big gaudy jewelry and jewel-toned, free-flowing kaftans, though.

Captains, Lena thought, smiling at her inner witchling.

"Are you okay?" her mother asked.

"I. Ernst McNally is dead."

Her mother's hand flew to her chest. "Oh, honey— I'm so sorry, I know you cared for him. How did you hear? Did someone call?"

"Bahru came by."

"Bahru?" Selma blinked her surprise, turning back toward the big oak door she'd just come through. "He was here?"

"Yeah. Showed up in a big Lincoln with one of Ernst's drivers at the wheel. I tried to get him to stay, but he was in a rush to leave."

"I wish I'd seen him," her mother said.

Lena sighed, recalling how much her mother and Bahru had seemed to enjoy bickering over tea recipes. Mom was a top-notch herbal-tea maker. Bahru was no slouch. But that was before.

"He says I'm named in the will, or the baby is, or something. Anyway. The funeral's tomorrow. He made me promise that I'd be there."

Selma's still-auburn eyebrows pressed against each other. "Do you think that's wise, honey? To travel that far, this late in the pregnancy?"

"It's only a few hours' drive. I can handle that."

"It's not just the drive I'm worried about. He'll be there. Can you handle that?"

She meant Ryan. Of course. "I'm sure I can. I knew this day would come, Mom. I have to face him sooner or later. He has a right to know."

"You could tell him later. After the baby's here."

"Keeping it from him this long was wrong. And you know it. And I know you know it, because you're the one who raised me never to lie."

"You didn't lie to him."

"And you're also the one who taught me that omissions of this magnitude are the same things as lies."

Selma pressed her lips together. "Damn thorough, wasn't I?" She ran a hand over Lena's hair. "You sure you can handle him?"

"I'm sure." So why did she feel compelled to avert her eyes when she said it? Lena wondered.

"Okay, if that's what you want to do. You want me to go with?"

"Mom, I'm not six."

Selma smiled and nodded, her spiral curls—even tighter than Lena's longer, looser waves—bouncing with the motion. "What's that you have there?" she asked, nodding at the box in Lena's lap.

"I don't know. Bahru said Ernst wanted me to have it." Lena stroked the box. "I got lost in thought and forgot about it."


Lena nodded and tried to ignore the hot moisture in her eyes.

"You really loved him a lot. It hurts. I know, honey."

She wasn't talking about Ernst, but that didn't need to be said. They both knew what she meant. Flipping open the tiny latch, Lena lifted the lid as her mother leaned over her from behind.


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Product Details

  • Series: The Portal (Book 2)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin MIRA; 9780778313809 edition (November 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0778313808
  • ISBN-13: 978-0778313809
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,121,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Subscribe to Maggie's Magic, the newsletter with a freebie in every single issue, here: http://mad.ly/signups/65868/join

Sixteen-time RITA Award nominee, One-time RITA winner, former soap writer (Guiding Light, As the World Turns,) and New York Times Bestselling author Maggie Shayne published 61 novels for several major NY Publishers before launching her indie career on her own label, Thunderfoot Publishing, in 2014. That same year saw the release of her final title for Harlequin MIRA, DEADLY OBSESSION, book 4 of her award winning Brown and de Luca series of thrillers, and her first independent original novel, TWILIGHT GUARDIANS, spinning her Wings in the Night Series of vampire romances into part two, Wings in the Night: Reborn.

Maggie has released two western series on her indie label, and they are wildly popular. The Texas Brands Series, and the Oklahoma Brand Series. These two series have delighted more readers than anything Maggie has ever written, and if you like warm, small town, family oriented books, a lot of them with holiday themes, these are for you.

Maggie lives with her husband and soul mate Lance in a tiny town called Taylor (phone exchange: Truxton, mailing address: Cincinnatus, tax map: Cuyler. Smalltown folks understand!) in New York State's little known but sprawling and gorgeous dairy & wine country near the Fingerlakes region. Together they have a pair of Old English Mastiffs (Dozer & Daisy,) a chubby little bulldog (Niblet), an arrogant cat (Glorificus,) a come-lately cat who thinks he's a dog (Butters) and his mother, once we caught her, Luna aka Lulu, a saltwater reef aquariums and a life of utter contentment and joy.

Maggie has a fabulous team behind her. Her indie books, her contests and promotions, her newsletter, her indie cover art and tons more are handled by Jessica Lewis at The Author's Life Saver (.com)

Her proofreading line editing and copy editing for her indie works are handled by Jena O'Connor at Practical Proofing (.com).

She's represented by literary agent Eileen Fallon and her editor for most of the past 20 years at Harlequin was Leslie Wainger (who also has a book doctor business that's thriving on the side.) LeslieWainger-Bookdoctor (.com)

Her street team is headed up by the unsinkable Chelle Olson of Literal Addiction (.com)
Chelle also designs a lot of Shayne Swag at Chelle-Belle Designs.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 15, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Book 2 introduces us to Magdalena or Lena for short. Lena was Indira & Lilia's sister in her previous life, in fact she has been having visions of their time together since she was a young child and she often heard Lilia speaking to her like an imaginary friend.

As an adult, Lena's life has encountered some major changes since she discovered she was pregnant. Running from her job and her fledgling relationship with Ryan she moves to a vineyard with her mother to have her baby without telling him. Circumstances outwith her control have her confronting Ryan before she feels she is ready. Ryan doesn't react like she expects and before she knows it they are spending more time together and getting to know each other. After some strange occurences and bad visions, Lena is constantly on edge, she second guesses everything and everyone including herself. Can she learn to trust herself and Ryan or would that be the wrong decision?

I liked Ryan, he has a lot more depth and layers than Lena initially gives him credit for. Lena herself is a typical pregnant woman, her emotions are all over the place, her dreams and visions are even more pronounced than ever leaving her second guessing herself and those around her.

We discovered who the big bad is in book 1, so there wasn't any big reveal in this installment but there is development in the plot and it's set up perfectly for Lilia's story, which I am eagerly anticipating!

Thanks to Netgalley for the eARC
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By LITERAL ADDICTION on November 12, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Our Review, by LITERAL ADDICTION's Pack Alpha - Michelle L. Olson:

*Copy gifted for an honest review

If you follow my reviews, you know that I'm a huge Maggie Shayne fan. I love her writing, I love her worlds, I love her characters... This book most certainly did not disappoint. In fact, my exact words upon finishing the book were: "Unbelievably, amazingly, fantastically good!! Writing a review to do this justice may prove to be difficult. I simply loved it."

Even with that said though, let's try...

Daughter of the Spellcaster was a beautifully written Paranormal Romance full of hope, magick, intrigue and heart.

Lena and her mother are witches living in a tiny town in NY and getting ready to welcome their new addition - Lena's daughter, Selma's granddaughter - into the world. When Lena hears that a close acquaintance from years ago has died and left something to her in his will, she must leave the security of Havenwood to go to the memorial.

Ryan is a high society playboy who has just lost his father whom he's felt abandoned by pretty much his whole life. When the death brings his old girlfriend Lena back into his life with a bit of a surprise, he begins to rethink his priorities and his future.

The two embark on a journey to find answers to Ryan's father's lifetime quest while learning more about each other along the way. After so many years and so many misunderstandings though, trust is a bit hard to come by, not to mention the fact that there are dark forces at work undermining their growth each step of the way.

Maggie introduced some very 'human' characters in this installment of the Portal series.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By rhonda on November 14, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Daughter of the Spellcaster by Maggie Shayne

Daughter of the Spellcaster is the second book of The Portal series. Thier is three books to the series. Blood of the Sorceress the final book will be out in Feb. 2013.
I enjoyed book two a lot more than the first book and can't wait to see what happens next.
In Daughter of the Spellcaster it is easier to follow, but the suspense is good right up till the climax. You are never quite sure who is the good or bad characters. Who the ghost is. Will she have a girl or a boy?
In the beginning Bahru delivers a package to Lena and let her know her former client had died. He wanted her to have the package in private but do come to the reading of the will.
Magdalena Dunkirk is almost 9 months pregnant and she has not told the father yet. Now Ernst is dead and he is the grandfather to her child. Magdalena is a practicing witch and Ryan did not believe in it. She left him when she was going to tell him but brought about it in around way. Saying a friend was pregnant and had not told the father.
Ryan McNally is rich but his father is even richer. Everyone thinks Ryan is a playboy because thats what he wants them to think. His mom died when he was 11 and his dad pulled away. He was close to Lena and even thinking of marriage when she just left him. Ryan does not trust Bahru he thinks he is conning his father.
Ryan is shocked when he sees Lena at the funeral. Even more shocked when he realizes she is really rich.
Ryan inheirits most of his fathers possesions. Lena finds out that Ernst is the one she bought the old winery from and it is now paid in full. Her baby will recieve 10,000.00 when she thinks the baby is ready. She can't touch the princable but can use the interest in anyways she wants too.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mary Tibbitts on November 12, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Maggie has done it again! Daughter of the Spellcaster was a great book that follows in the footsteps of Mark of the Witch to perfection. I had the pleasure of reading this e-arc from Netgalley and it doesn't disappoint in the least. This is the story of Magdalena or "Lena" who is one of 3 sisters from a past life in Babylon and her love Ryan. There was a good amount of mystery, suspense and romance all throughout the book. Its not one of those books that is full of sex so if that is what you are looking for than this probably isn't for you. I didn't think the story lacked because of it in the least. This book just makes me anxious for January to come so that I can read the final book in this series. I can't wait to see what Maggie has in store for the conclusion. I have been a reader of Maggie Shayne for too many years to count and she has never failed to disappoint.
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