BY: PEPPER O’NEAL

She’s a witch, but no spell or potion can help her now…

White witch Kole Trillion’s life is perfect—almost. She has a successful business, customers who swear by her potions and spells, a black cat named Boo as a familiar, and a number of loyal friends. Unfortunately, she also has the bad luck to fall in love with a man who hates her. Unable to device a spell or potion to help her out of her distressing predicament, Kole’s determined not to let it ruin her life. And to keep her embarrassing heartache her own dark, little secret. But when Cupid gets involved, all bets are off.

He’s a cop who doesn’t believe in magic, or in love…

Police Detective Gage Corwin is convinced Kole’s nothing but a con artist out to cheat the public. Determined to put her out of business, Gage launches an investigation to prove she’s a fraud and a criminal. But the evidence just doesn’t add up. Not only can’t he find anyone she’s cheated, he can’t find a logical explanation for the things that are happening to his life—or his heart. But when he unwittingly mocks Cupid, the whole thing blows up in Gage’s face.

LOVE TRANSPOSED (WITH CHELSY DAY)

One arrow strait through two chests was all it took for carpenter/painter Dan and businesswoman, Jane, to go from making each other crazy to being crazy about each other.

TAYLOR JONES SAYS: Love Potion No. 2-14 by Pepper O’Neal is cute, funny, and heart-warming. It is a story of Kole, who happens to be a white-witch. She runs a small shop in Southern California. Kole falls in love with Gage, a hunk of a police detective, but he doesn’t believe in magic and thinks she’s a fraud. He decides to investigate her by talking to all her customers but can’t find anyone unhappy with the products she sells.

Still skeptical, Gage refuses to give up. But then he pisses off Cupid and all hell breaks loose. O’Neal’s characters are totally believable, her plot lines are strong, and the writing superb. The book also includes a bonus story Love Transposed, written by O’Neal and Chelsy Day, which is equally charming.

REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Pepper O’Neal has done it again. Although, Love Potion No. 2-14 and Love Transposed are both a change from her usual romantic thrillers, O’Neal seems to have no problem switching to romantic comedy. Both stories are short, about 20,000 words for Love Potion No. 2-14 and 5,000 words for Love Transposed. I was able to read the whole book in one sitting and I didn’t even have to miss dinner.

O’Neal’s characters are delightful—I especially love the cat, Boo—and the banter between them makes me feel like I’m right there with them. The stories are good enough to almost make me believe in Cupid. The book’s a fun read, one you’ll enjoy reading over and over again.

A small shop in Morro Bay, California, on a Sunday afternoon in early January:

“I’m sorry, Kole, but he’s doing it again.”

Alarmed by the anxiety in her assistant’s voice, Kole dropped her clipboard and spun around. She scanned the interior of her shop but saw nothing amiss.

“Jesus, Lynn, can’t you be a little more specific?” Exasperated, she knelt to retrieve her scattered papers. “You sound just like one of my nephews tattling on his brothers,” she said, fishing for wayward pages under the shelves. She straightened up, documents in hand, and began putting her inventory sheets back in order. “And like my sister always tells them, if I don’t know who you’re referring to, I can’t do much about whatever he’s doing again.”

“I’m talking about that awful cop. He’s sitting on the hood of his car outside, shooting dirty looks at our store.”

Kole glanced out the window. Sure enough, there sat Detective Gage Corwin. And every gorgeous inch of the six-foot hunk looked hard and implacable. She suffered a sharp pang of longing as he raked his hands through his thick chestnut hair and shifted his exceptionally fine ass to another spot on the car.

“Has he been here long?”

Lynn hesitated. “Almost an hour. I didn’t say anything earlier because I hoped he’d go away before you realized he was out there. I’m sorry,” she repeated when Kole opened her mouth to protest. “I just hate how his attitude hurts your feelings.” She walked over and rubbed a comforting hand down Kole’s back. “But since the bastard isn’t leaving, I figured I’d better tell you.”

The scowl on Gage’s chiseled face did more than just hurt Kole’s feelings. It gouged holes in her heart that bled her emotions dry. “Has he been questioning all our customers again?”

“No, not all of them this time. Just the women.”

“Maybe he’s looking for a date.” Forcing herself to ignore the pain, Kole went back to checking her stock of love potions.

“Oh, sure. Like, he really wants to date anyone who buys products from you. He thinks you’re evil, Kole. A true daughter of Satan.” When Kole chuckled, Lynn sighed. “Okay, maybe that’s not entirely accurate. But he definitely sees you as a charlatan and a fraud. A criminal.” Bristling with indignation, she tapped her foot on the pale stone floor. “The man has no respect for you or for magic.”

With her hands fisted on her hips, she glared out the window at Gage. “He’s a menace, Kole. Why you don’t just put a spell on him? Or slip him a potion—anything to make him go away and leave us alone?”

“Because the first law of white magic is to harm none.” And because her foolish heart had it bad for the mouthwatering detective. But Kole was determined to keep that dirty little secret to herself.

“What about the damage he’s doing to us?” Lynn demanded.

Kole swallowed a laugh. Like a dog with its proverbial bone, her assistant just couldn’t let go. Shaking her head, Kole concentrated on her inventory and let the woman rant.

“Our customers don’t like being interrogated every time they come here, and a lot of them are staying away.” Lynn waved a hand around the store. “We’ve only had a dozen customers since noon. Even our online sales are dropping.”

“Oh, come on, Lynn. That’s not Detective Corwin’s fault.” Kole picked up a bright red bottle of Love Potion Two-Fourteen and frowned. The magic was fading. “Been on the shelf too long,” she muttered. “Needs recharging.” She looked over at Lynn. “You know as well as I do business is always slow this time of year. After Christmas, people take a break from the crowds and shopping. Things’ll pick up again by Valentine’s Day.” Slipping the love potion into the pocket of her jeans, she marked its status on the inventory. “Don’t worry. Our customers are loyal. They always come back.”

“Not if that sonofabitiching cop has his way.” Lynn’s lips curved into a sly grin. “You know what you need to do, don’t you?” She didn’t wait for an answer. “You need to slip him some love potion. That’d fix his wagon. He’d be so crazy about you, he’d be willing to do anything for you. Even if what you ask is for him to just leave you alone.”

Kole laughed. “You can’t be serious.” When Lynn nodded, she groaned. “Haven’t you heard anything I tell my customers? Love potions can’t force a man to love you. They can’t take away someone’s choice. The spell doesn’t even work unless there’s already some affection between the two people involved. And then it only lasts for seventy-two hours. After that, the couple’s on their own.”

Finished with the love potions, she moved on to the health remedies. “It doesn’t have any effect on strangers. And it certainly won’t work on enemies.”

She paused, sensing a presence close by. But when she looked around, all she saw was Gage, still leaning against his car, his striking amber eyes glaring at her store, his full, sensuous lips pressed into a hard, thin line. Was it just his negative emotions she’d felt? She shook off her unease, telling herself she was being paranoid.

“And in case you hadn’t noticed, Lynn, that man out there really hates me.”

Lynn’s shoulders drooped. “You’re probably right,” she said, her words coming out in a huff. “Too bad there isn’t really a Cupid with his magic bow and arrow. Corwin would make the perfect target.”

Kole winced. She knew there was a Cupid—and her heart would love to have the little God aim an arrow with her name on it at Gage. But her head knew better. Cupid was a capricious God, and He didn’t take requests from mortals. Not that she’d ever ask. She wouldn’t really want Gage to love her unless he chose to do so of his own free will. And that would never happen.

“While it pains me to admit it,” she said, “the man despises me so much, I doubt Cupid’s arrow would have any more effect on his granite heart than my love potions would.” She fought back the tears that threatened to give her away, disgusted with herself for letting Gage get to her like this. “After all, Cupid’s not a very big God, and I can’t imagine He’d be powerful enough to overcome all the hostile male aggression that makes up Detective Corwin. Besides—”

She glanced over in surprise as the bell on the shop door jingled. Strange. The door hadn’t opened. And the windows were closed, so there wasn’t any breeze. Only she and Lynn were in the shop, and neither of them had gone near the front door. So who, or what, rang the bell?

A sudden chill skated down her spine, and she trembled with the knowledge that her life was about to change. Irrevocably. She squeezed her eyes shut in dismay. Although she hadn’t gotten a sense of dread to go with the premonition—this time—she was too much of a realist to believe whatever was coming might be a change for the better. Her life just didn’t work that way.

Novel Reaction:

Friday, February 4, 2011: Jessica from Novel Reaction calls Love Potion No. 2-14 a cute, fun read.

She says: “Love Potion No. 2-14 is a cute fun read. Gage’s hard-headiness and dogged pursuit of Kole is entertaining. Kole is just trying to run her business and help people, while she does consider slipping Gage one of her love potions her own moral code won’t let her, no matter how tempting. Kole also realizes that that her love potions, even her most powerful No. 2-14, will only get Gage to act on feelings he already has and Kole is afraid Gage only feels contempt. Gage’s complete refusal to see why he is trying so hard to catch Kole is amusing. I loved Boo’s [the cat’s] involvement in the relationship, making things more difficult for Kole. The novel is short, I was able to read the entire thing in one sitting and was amused the whole time.” READ FULL REVIEW