Mark of the Witch (The Portal #1) by Maggie Shayne

She was born to save what he is sworn to destroy… 

A lapsed Wiccan, Indira Simon doesn’t believe in magic anymore. But when strange dreams of being sacrificed to an ancient Babylonian god have her waking up with real rope burns on her wrists, she’s forced to acknowledge that she may have been too hasty in her rejection of the unknown. Then she meets mysterious and handsome Father Tomas. Emerging from the secrecy of an obscure Gnostic sect, he arrives with stories of a demon, a trio of warrior witches-and Indira’s sacred calling. Yet there’s something even Tomas doesn’t know, an inescapable truth that will force him to choose between saving the life of the woman he’s come to love-and saving the world.

Hmm… funny how things work out. I read Legacy of the Witch, the prequel to The Portal Series, as a freebie in September. I really enjoyed it and considered it a great introduction novella to a series that had potential. Then, I forgot about it…. As I was perusing the shelves on NetGalley I noticed the 2nd book, Daughter of the Spellcaster, was available for review. It still didn’t jog my memory concerning Legacy of the Witch, but it did lead me to purchase Mark of the Witch, just in case (because of course, I requested it 😉 ) My point in this rambling nonsense? I am so glad I stumbled upon Maggie Shayne again. Even though I picked up Mark of the Witch just as a stepping stone to reach Daughter of the Spellcaster, I ended up totally in love with Indy and Tomas’ story. *sigh* Isn’t it amazing when that happens?

Mark of the Witch had great characters, surprise twists and a couple that was easy to sympathize with and hope for.  Indira was more powerful than even she knew and the reasons for her abandoning her magic turn into major irony as the story progresses. Tomas has his own reasons for not believing in magic or the supernatural and it’s all connected to his faultering faith.

There are so many twists, turns and moments when you aren’t sure who or even what you should trust. This is also a romance that is magical in more ways than one, it literally transcends time. And through it all, Maggie Shayne’s writing style and her charming (and sometimes scary) characters keep the story flowing and give you no choice but to keep turning pages.

There are also a few other aspects of this series that I am really enjoying and are worth mentioning. First, the connection between the books is subtle, but a very important element. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s worth paying attention to as you read through The Portal Series. I’ll probably touch on it more when I review Daughter of the Spellcaster, because the connection becomes even stronger then. Next is the actual romance between Tomas and Indy. It’s strong and passionate, but a lot is left to the imagination, which I didn’t mind a bit. Not that I have anything against hot and heavy descriptions in PNR books, it seems to be the norm – and I’ve been known to read a few of them *blush*. It was just a nice change of pace. The other thing that I’m enjoying is the way Maggie Shayne handles the Wiccan aspect of the series. It’s magical, respectful and treated not only as a belief, but a way of life. It gives the series a depth that added a lot to the story.

So yes, this is a series and a story that I am really glad that I stumbled upon. Enjoy!