The year is 1780. Ezra Keys is in charge of the smuggling operation in the small Cornish village of Portwith. Like the rest of the world, Ezra has no idea magic is real, but it is, and it is powerful and dangerous. Alyce Sheridan is a witch hiding out from her witches’ council. The leader of the council, Matthew Howe, is trying to force Alyce to marry him so he can use her magic to found a powerful dynasty. Calling herself Mrs. White, Alyce has rented the isolated cottage that looks out onto the cove where Ezra’s smuggling runs are conducted. Both Ezra and Alyce have secrets that must be protected, but neither expects the explosive attraction between them.
Ezra Keys had two choices: punch someone or take another drink. Since the men crowding The Lantern were either his friends or confederates, he opted for the more diplomatic option. He took a deep drink from his tankard. Unfortunately, it did nothing to quench his fury.
Sitting across from him, Daniel Saunders wouldn’t meet Ezra’s gaze. Good.
“What the hell were you thinking?” Ezra demanded. “Blackbriar Cottage looks right out onto the cove. We all agreed that it should stand vacant.”
“Sorry, Ezra. I just…couldn’t help it.” Daniel shrugged powerlessly.
“‘Couldn’t help it?’” He glowered at Daniel, fighting the urge to wrap his hands around his old friend’s neck.
“She showed up at my door, asking about the cottage, whether it was for let. I couldn’t say no.”
“Of course you can say no.” Ezra growled. “She could be working for the customs officers.”
Daniel’s face fell. Clearly, this had not occurred to him. And clearly, there was a reason why Ezra came from a long line of Keys men who ran the smuggling operation here in Portwith, Cornwall. Illegal trade in brandy and silk fed the families of Portwith, and had for generations. If Ezra—and his father, and his father’s father—didn’t protect the trade, then people would starve.
By renting the abandoned Blackbriar Cottage to some unknown widow, Daniel had put the entire welfare of the village in jeopardy.
“I cannot simply throw the woman out,” he protested. “She said she had nowhere else to go. And she paid the first three months.”
Ezra sighed, then pushed back from the table and stood. He shrugged into his greatcoat and put on his hat.
“Where are you going?” Daniel asked.
“To get the widow out of Blackbriar Cottage.” He headed toward the door.
“You aren’t going to hurt her, are you?” Daniel’s eyes widened in alarm.
In response, Ezra smiled, the same smile he knew worked miracles on women up and down the Cornish coast. “I’ve other weapons at my disposal.”