Monday, February 20, 2017

Lalin Bonheur

Title: Lalin Bonheur
Author: Margaret O. Howard
Genre: Paranormal Mystery / Romance
When Lalin Bonheur shape shifts, she roams the Vieux Carre as a sleek tuxedo cat to learn the secrets of her city.
But on her debut at a Quadroon Ball in 1830 this octoroon beauty meets and falls in love with French aristocrat, Etienne Legendre. Etienne becomes her protector and he soon learns that his mistress leads a second life as a healer and voudou priestess.
Their story takes a bizarre turn after Lalin's protector marries. His wife, Minette, dies mysteriously and he is charged with murder. Lalin concocts a zombie potion to assist him in his escape from jail.
The couple sail upriver to hide until they can prove his innocence. But their struggles only become more challenging, when they face the fearsome loup-garou (wolf men of Louisiana) and then a giant bird. Lalin must use her magic to battle these monsters. But it's what she learns about the vicious feathered creature that brings the story to its climax.
Author Bio
Margaret O. Howard is a writer and former dancer, who grew up in the Deep South and currently walks the gulf beaches of Florida every morning, She adores her two sons, three rescue cats, cool weather, travel, photography, ballet, books, and mermaids. Her novel, Lalin Bonheur, is set in the city of voudou queens, New Orleans. You can visit her at margaretohoward.wordpress,com, Margaret Howard Trammell on Facebook, or @howardomargaret on Twitter.
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In this year, 1830, life here in the Creole Quarter of my city can be elegant. The French aristocrats live high. They do no labor. No, they leave all that to those that come from Santo Domingo or some black folks from lands across the ocean in Africa. They call us people of color, quadroons or octoroons like me. Our papas, they are white men, sometimes from France or Spain. But we are free people. Still there are some who are slaves to French Creoles. It’s not a happy thing, but I give my magic to all who wish to have it.

About us women, we’re lucky there’s no labor for us. No, when we are sixteen years or so, we get picked to be a mistress for these fine gentlemen like my Etienne. Creoles, those French or Spanish people, are the first in their families to be born in this country. These folks have white skin and say they have no mixed blood for themselves. There are French Creole girls, too, but they don’t like us so much. Guess I know why that is.

The men say we are beautiful. Features so fine and some of us almost blond like a French Creole girl. But my hair is black with no curl in it. My skin is what they call cafĂ© au lait. When Monsieur Legendre, Etienne’s papa, saw me, he said, “You have good taste, my son. A jewel set in gold, that girl is. The loveliest of all.”
When I hear him say it, I feel I’ve just swallowed a tiny bit of sunshine that sends sparks all through my body. My life begins to blossom right in my head.

They have the big coming-out party for us, a Quadroon Ball. And we get introduced to society, which means these Creole gentlemen get to choose us for a lover—not a wife, mind you. But they take good care of us. Buy us a house and anything we need. And some quadroons even have babies with these men. Me, I don’t want that. I devote myself to him, but also to my magic. A Creole wife may someday give him children, if he wishes.

At my first Quadroon Ball long ago, I see Etienne from a distance. Then I catch his eye and he comes to me like I have conjured him. We make some small talk, and he wants to dance with me, so we waltz, making giant circles on the ballroom floor. He whispers in my ear, and I feel his breath on me. This man is the most handsome I’ve seen anywhere. Tall, he is, with broad shoulders stretching seams along his waistcoat. Deep brown eyes give me hints of a fierce emotion flowing through him. One strand of his dark hair falls across his smooth forehead, as he lifts my fingers to his lips. A smile, he has, to melt my heart. He is indeed the most perfect gentleman. 

Then he asks me, Please to come on the balcony with me. I cannot resist. There, leaning against the railings, we share our first kisses. Mon Dieu, I say to myself, I hope this man will want to keep me. And it all comes true. He did make his choice that night.

His papa called on my mama the next day to make all the plans. Then I got my small house with fine damask drapes and silk dresses ordered from Paris. Many things I have now. Monsieur Legendre is happy, too, that he’s giving his son the pleasure palace, which is me. 

Many Creole men take care of two families for their whole lives, the quadroon mistress and later the married wife. Some few will leave their mistress after they marry; this will not happen to me. We have been in love for one year. Every night he comes to me.
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