New Orleans, 1834. Lark La Beau is a green-eyed beauty and respected beneficent voodoo priestess with the sometimes uncooperative gift of clairvoyance. Captain Valcour Curry is a debonair, larger-than-life buccaneer with ambition to burn and a taste for fine things. Following a whirlwind romance with Lark, he disappears at sea, leaving Lark with a riverboat and a child to rear—alone.
A guilty act of piracy causes Valcour to fall victim to a shapeshifting magician who practices the dark art of soul-swapping. For five years Valcour has been enslaved as an emotionless zombie with no memory of his loved ones or past. From dusk to dawn he is cursed to toil in the cane fields while the evil magician uses his soul to lure women and have his brutal way with them.
Lark will risk hell and journey to the oppressive Broken Oak Plantation to break the curse. It’s a terrifying place. Her only tools to call Valcour’s lost soul back to life are voodoo and the sensual power of love...
When the story begins, we find Lark La Beau, beneficent Voodoo Queen and owner of the Sugar Roux gambling river boat, trying to help people that come to her for her gifts of magic and clairvoyance. She has a very comfortable life, a beautiful son and loyal friends. All that is missing is the man she gave her heart to, Captain Valcour Curry.
She met Captain Curry five years earlier during one of the many house calls she made to the underprivileged of New Orleans. The larger than life buccaneer swept her off her feet, love at first sight. So much so that he joked she'd put a sugar roux love spell on him. As the weeks passed they spent every waking hour together and he asked her to marry him. But he had one more raid to do and promised it would be the last. And then he disappeared.
For months she thought him lost at sea, until word got back to her of sighting in Paris and other exotic ports with women to spare. Distraught, she thought he'd left her behind for the wild life of a pirate.
Until five years later when a woman comes to her for help and tells the story of a man she's met. Everything this woman tells Lark about the man screams Valcour except for his brash, abrasive behavior. When Lark does a Taro Card reading for the woman she sees images of Valcour's lost soul and becomes afraid for him. But not until one of Valcour's trusted friends comes to her with a tale of seeing Valcour being held under some sort of black magic spell at Broken Oak Plantation does she let go of her anger and go after the man she loves.
"N-no one." The distraught woman stuttered. "Everyone knows your name. You’re the queen of the river. Your reputation is legend. I know you could do what I’ve asked. You’ve helped many others. Why won’t you help me?" Fresh tears trickled down the woman’s cheeks. "I’ve been wronged!"
Lark rose slowly from the throne-like chair. Her aubergine satin dress and layers of crisp, horsehair crinoline crinkled softly as she stood. "I would never deliberately harm an innocent woman."
The woman scoffed. "She’s not innocent. I can assure you of that. She’s a rouge- cheeked-help-yourself hussy!"
Lark’s lips sneered. "Valcour calls himself a big chief, buccaneer entrepreneur, which is just a fancy title for thief. He willfully chose piracy over a decent life with us. I hope he’s enjoying his expensive French cognac, fine, brocade coats from Paris and who knows what else. The man assuredly knew how to spend money. I wonder if he’s lost his good looks yet? He certainty had me fooled. That man was nothing but a bright peacock of vanity."
He looked so sincere it frightened her. "I swear on the Goddess Oshun, Mother Mary and Jesus Christ, I did nothing to you, no voodoo spells, no roux and no witching or magical concoctions of any kind—nothing."
He tapped his chest. "You’re telling me this brutal shot to the heart just happened on its own with no help from magic?"
A strange, tingling tension washed over her. "Sir, I don’t know what you’re talking about."
He slowly walked toward her and put his hands on her shoulders.
She felt trapped in his gaze and trembled. Her heart pounded with anticipation. She sensed she was finally going to get a real kiss from a man she strongly desired. It was a bit terrifying but wonderful.
"Lark, what did you do to me? I feel different," he whispered. "I have to be gentle with you, don’t I? You’re the type who’ll fly away. I certainty don’t want that. I want to keep you." His fingers brushed a stray lock of her hair aside and then tangled in her curls. He leaned down and barely touched his lips against hers.
"Let me do that." Valcour’s hand reached for the rag-wrapped handle and carefully lifted the hot caldron with one hand and balanced an apple in the other. "Where do you want this?"
She walked out of the kitchen into the courtyard and pointed toward the looming oak. "Under the tree."
He walked cautiously with the hot caldron. "What did you brew, voodoo queen—a sugar roux?" A faint smile lit his lips. His teeth sank into the crunchy apple.
After a slow start which included a bit of a long story in the form of dialog by one of the characters, (Yes it was long, but it really needed to be told and it was damn HOT!) the story really took off. Lark proved you can look evil in the eye and love will win every time. She didn't care what black magic she might face, she went after her man and stared down evil. Loved the premise and Lark and Valcour are magic together. If you like a strong heroine who fights for what's hers then this is the book for you.