Tarot Tuesday- Bound Across Time by Annie R McEwen #ParanormalRomance

“The name is Smithbury-Tewkes. You may call me Jana. Or Reverend High Seer, whichever is easier. Sit down. We have work to do.” 

That’s how the owner of The Broom & Bottle, a magickal supplies shop that figures prominently in my novel Bound Across Time, introduces herself to the protagonist, CeCe. As with many of my characters, I’m not sure where Jana came from. My wildly creative mind, I’d like to say, but it may have been the ice cream I had before bedtime. 

What I do know is that Jana (a recurring character in my Bound series books) and I have a lot in common. Like Jana, I was attracted to divination through cards as a teenager. I used a regular playing card deck, then, but that’s only because I hadn’t discovered Tarot. Even without Tarot (and this is also true of Jana), I can—when my sails are full and I’ve got a fair wind—practice psychism without aids at all. 

I generally use the cards, though. People like them. It’s easier for them than enduring my stare for a minute and then hearing about the trouble their arteries or real estate is in. 

Annie R McEwen using Tarot at HamilFest, an 18th century event
Because I’m a career historian and a maker of period clothing, I’m often asked to provide readings and/or lectures about the history of Tarot at historical events. The most interesting example (to date) of that was at a Jane Austen Fest in 2022. Divination of any sort was a fringe pursuit in Regency Era England, and practicing it for money was a crime. The negative social perceptions and legal penalties were inseparable from British attitudes toward Gypsies. The Rom were left few and marginal occupations following their persecution by Henry VIII, but their traditional customs of scrying, card throwing, tasseomancy (tea leaf reading), and palmistry were so much in demand that, for centuries, they risked practicing them, anyway.

The fact that Rom divinators were sought out by the highest to the lowest in English society did not, unfortunately, relieve them of social stigma. Author Jane Austen shared the general prejudice. In Emma, she wrote a scene in which Harriet, Emma’s protégé, encounters a group of Gypsies: “half a dozen children, headed by a stout woman and a great boy, all clamorous and impertinent” (Volume 3, Chapter 3). So aggressive were the Rom, Austen wrote, that Harriet had to be rescued from their clutches; she arrives home distressed and disarrayed. 

Tarot, as we know it today, was unknown in the Regency, though the tarocchi (from which the name “Tarot” is derived), an Italian deck of playing cards, was used for fortunetelling as early as the late 1700s. The casting of fortunes with any cards to hand was common in salons and social gatherings, however much it was lamented by respectable persons. It would be many decades before any sort of divination—including and especially the Tarot—was shouted for by party planners. 

Even today, the awe many people feel about Tarot and the people who delve its mysteries is sometimes transmuted into fear or disdain. At the conclusion of Jana Smithbury-Tewkes Tarot reading for CeCe in Bound Across Time, this exchange takes place. 

Annie R McEwen at her Tarot table in a tea bar in Tampa, FL

“‘I said,’ Jana’s forefinger, the nail blue like her lipstick, hovered over the second card, ‘there you are.’

CeCe’s mouth drew tight. ‘I am not a Tarot card.’

‘Take it now. Take them both.’

CeCe still didn’t want to touch the cards. What she wanted was to leave the shop. But Jana’s glare pinned CeCe to her chair. She gingerly lifted the cards off the table, holding them by their top edges between her forefinger and thumb like they might detonate.”

With love and insight, I am

Bound Across Time
Book One
Annie R McEwen 

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Ghost Romance
Publisher: Harbor Lane Books
Date of Publication: May 7, 2024
Number of pages: 324

Tagline: In a castle on the shores of the Irish Sea, she’s met the love of her life. Clever, witty, strong, fiercely attractive.  What’s the catch? He’s a ghost.

Book Description:

Historian CeCe’s dream job in a Welsh castle goes sideways when she’s ordered to ditch the history and lead ghost walks. That’s the worst of her worries until she meets Patrick: strong, handsome, irresistible…and dead since 1761.

Desire and hope flare in Patrick’s heart when CeCe touches him while, for CeCe, Patrick is everything. But she’s in the bright world of the living while he’s trapped in the shadows. 

Loving a ghost is deadly business. Patrick and CeCe struggle to outrace fate as it hurtles them toward disaster. Can the ancient riddle of an Irish seer save them? The spells of Welsh witches? 

Or can powers CeCe didn’t even know she possessed bridge time and defeat death?

Book Trailer: https://shorturl.at/ajuE0

Excerpt from Bound Across Time, by Annie R McEwen

You’re an idjit, Patrick. Death was always too good for you.

He should have gone slower with her, no doubt about it. He was a lout, a brute, to startle her so thoroughly, and that was never his intent. He could have—no, he should have—whispered, or moaned, or shimmered from a distance. Instead, he was hasty.

Hasty? He was a burning brand of desire. Who could blame him after two hundred-fifty…how long had it been? He’d lost count of the years.

That was still no reason to be an imbecilic knave, popping up like codswalloping Punch on a puppet stage while wearing the same filthy linen he was tipped overboard in when the Earl didn’t have the decency to give him a proper burial. At least the sea water had washed away the blood.

His honor, his common sense—perhaps they’d washed away as well. Within reach of this woman, he could remember nothing he’d learned of subtle romance and courtly manners. All he could think of was making her his, now until the end of time.

What an embarrassment he was, to his sainted mother, to his upbringing, to the gentleman he was reared to be. An embarrassment to every Irish bard who ever sang songs or wrote poems about women who were doves, and lilies, and other things he couldn’t remember.

He did remember that they were fragile and easily startled. Easily driven away.
Next time, I will be slow. I will slowly and gently explain things to her. Unusual things. Highly unusual, uncanny, frightening, nigh incomprehensible things.

Sure, now, Patrick, me boyo, that’ll be a stroll along the banks of the Shannon.

By the right hand of God, but she was beautiful. Slumbering on the stone floor, her skin smooth ivory but gilded, as though the sun had kissed her once and then fallen in love, unable to leave. She’d lost her cap, and her hair—rich, deep brown and burnished with red, like brandy—tumbled around her neck and shoulders. Her sun-brushed skin, high and perfect cheekbones, the delicate slant of her eyes, the plump swell of her breasts above the top edge of her bodice, the curves of the body he could imagine pressed to his own aching and lonely one…

Beauty itself, she was, not only of body but of mind. In the weeks before she’d seen him, he’d watched her exercise that beautiful mind among the slower thinkers of the Castle, who doubtless envied her. She was stubborn, spirited, and quick-witted—he liked that.
He crouched over her crumpled form, not touching, only taking in her scent. Rose attar and mint—he liked that, too.

The only thing he didn’t care for was the name she went by, See-see. What sort of name was that? It was something you called a canary. He would never call her that, not when the French name with which she’d been christened was just like her.

Céleste, meaning heavenly.

She was waking now. He rose and backed away. Time for him to depart, as he must, and breathe a prayer. Not for himself, there was no point to that. If God had ever listened to him, he wouldn’t be where he was, and he deserved no better. His prayer would be for her, the angel who defied or escaped God’s curse to light his endless night.

Come back, Céleste Gowdie. Please come back.

About the Author:

Annie R McEwen is a career historian who’s lived in six countries, under every roof from a canvas tent to a Georgian Era manor house and driven herself to work in everything from a donkey cart to a vintage Peugeot. For her, it feels perfectly natural to create stories of desperate love and powerful secrets in faraway times and places.

Winner of the 2022 Page Turners Award, Genre (Romance) Category, Annie also garnered the First Place 2022 RTTA (Romance Through Ages Award from Romance Writers of America; Post-Victorian to WWI Category), the 2023 MAGGIE Award, and the 2023 Daphne du Maurier Award. Her Regency murder mystery “Death at Dunarven” appears in the 2024 Murder Most International Anthology. 

Annie’s books are published by Harbor Lane Books (US), Bloodhound Books (UK), and The Wild Rose Press. When she’s not in her 1920s bungalow in Florida, Annie lives, writes, and explores castles in Wales. 

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