Touch of a Witch
by S.G. Slade
(Darkness Rising, #1)
Publication date: October 31st 2023
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Historical
When visions of death haunt her every move, only the darkest magic can save her.
Sarah Stone’s family have always closely guarded the secrets of their witchcraft. Though they tend as healers to those that know them, few guess the truth of the family’s skills.
But others have secrets too, and when Sarah finds herself caught in the grip of a terrifying curse, she fears for the fate of all she holds dear. As a dark shadow haunts the taverns and brothels of Bankside, whispers of the curse begin to spread. Then she is accused of witchcraft, and there seems to be no escape.
In a world where the those called Witch end up on the gallows, can Sarah find a way to turn the curse aside? Or will the price be too high to pay?
Content warning: strong sex scenes and the occult.
Touch of a Witch is the first standalone novel in the seductive Darkness Rising series.
An earlier version of this novel was published previously as Shakespeare’s Witch
She dreams she is in a forest of pine at night, walking barefoot on the cold, soft earth. A full moon glimmers through the branches of the oaks overhead, brushing silver hues across everything it touches, and a stream trickles lazily beside her – she seems to be following its path upstream, searching for the source, and despite the darkness, she finds her way easily, unafraid.
In time she comes to a clearing where the stream begins, emerging from an outcrop of rocks to spill into a pool that fills before it overflows and runs off along its way. Stepping out of her shift, she slides into the water and lowers herself down until the surface laps around her shoulders. It is cool and clear and sweet, and she is tempted to submerge herself, to give herself to the sacred water and stay in this place always.
Then, one by one, four men approach to stand at the edge of the pool, one at each point of the compass. She feels no shame at her nakedness before them, no fear, content and at ease in the pure crystal water. She has no doubt this is where she is meant to be. Wheeling slowly, the rock hard and smooth beneath her legs, she regards each of them in turn. As she turns, each man holds out a hand to beckon her to them, and she sees then that they too are naked.
She goes first to stand before her father, out of habit of respect and obedience, and he speaks to her, though with no voice she can hear with her ears.
Bride thou shalt be, obedient daughter of Christ.
Placing one hand on her shoulder, and the other on her breast, he rests them there until she steps away and drops back into the water to wash herself free of the taint of his touch.
Then she turns to Simon.
Wife thou shalt be, loving mother of children, though none of mine.
He too places one hand on her shoulder and one on her breast, until she slips away from his touch also to rinse herself clean in the pool.
Then she goes to Tom, whose skin is taut and pale in the moonlight: his nakedness before her quickens her breath. He steps closer.
Lover thou shalt be, spirit of the earth.
For a long moment she waits before him, and when finally he lifts his hand to her breast, she gasps as a charge fires between them. She steps closer, her breasts pressing against his ribs and his member hard against her belly. Desire flares through her before he takes her hand in his and leads her to Nick. She waits, drinking in the beauty of the man who stands before her, his muscles strong and vivid in the silver light.
Mistress thou shalt be, if thou so wills it.
He reaches for her hands and lifts them to his lips, drawing her closer in towards him. Then she stands against him, and with his touch to her breast, she feels herself begin to fall, floating and free.
S.G. Slade was born and raised in the historic city of Bristol in England, and now lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband, son, and a very small dog called Livvy. She has worked variously as a secretary, a teacher, a shop assistant and a nurse, but lifelong obsessions with books, history, and magic have never waned. When she isn’t reading or writing (which isn’t often), you can find her either doing yoga, going for long walks, or watching old movies. Touch of a Witch is her first historical fantasy book.
She uses the pen name S.G. Slade for her fantasy books, and also writes Historical Fiction under the name Samantha Grosser.
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