Heart of Darkness (Bound by Magick Series #1)

Heart of Darkness (Bound by Magick Series #1)

by Lauren Dane

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Heart of Darkness (Bound by Magick Series #1) by Lauren Dane

Someone is illegally siphoning magic from the font of the Clan. When Meriel Owen, next in line to control the largest organization of witches in the country, discovers that it's the hot owner of a notorious underground club, she strokes an unusual deal that may plunge them all into the heart of darkness.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425244517
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/01/2011
Series: Bound by Magick Series , #1
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 661,410
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.78(h) x 0.86(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

As a stay-at-home mom, Lauren Dane had lots of conversations in a singsong voice but no real outlet for adult thoughts and words. Armed with a secondhand laptop, she decided to “give that writing thing a serious go.” Nearly a decade and several dozen books later, including the Brown Family novels and the Delicious series, she’s well aware of her good fortune and is loving every moment of it, even when she has to edit and put Barbie’s dresses back on over and over again.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Meriel sat, taking notes as her mother spoke from the head of the table. The pale, late autumn light spilled through the windows of the seemingly normal conference room, casting shadows on the far wall. The tastefully expensive clock and nondescript black-and-white framed photos made the space look like a law firm instead of the headquarters of a witches’ clan. A boring, non-offensive space that seemed to lack any point of view at all. This was most likely a deliberate choice, but Meriel thought pretending not to have a POV when you were someone as opinionated as Edwina Owen was absurd. But it wasn’t her place to make decorating choices. Not yet anyway.

So she sat in a moderately comfortable chair around an intentionally imposing table with the same fifteen people she’d spent her days with for as long as she could remember. How sucky was it that it was days like this that made her wish for law school again? What sort of whackadoo actually missed law school? But in law school when she excelled, it was without the context she carried in her life here. The next in line. The princess. Magickal royalty. Blah. There, she’d just been another overachiever struggling with the realities of being in a room full of people just as smart, and in many cases, smarter, than she was. That sort of bumpy ride had been a novelty.

But this was her future and she took it seriously even if she had a stack of other things to do at the moment. Meriel really didn’t have the time for this assignment, but Clan Owen’s investigator, who also happened to be Meriel’s best friend, Nell, was still out on her honeymoon and wouldn’t be back for another few days.

Really, Gage, who was Nell’s second-in-command, would be a fine substitute. But as far as Edwina Owen was concerned, as the next in line to run Clan Owen, Meriel was expected to pick up the slack when necessary. Rather like working in the mail room or running the copiers, it trained in the overall running of the clan.

Whatever, at least she’d get out of her house for the evening instead of sitting around reading legal briefs or ordering a movie on demand and eating too many spring rolls. Mmmm, spring rolls . . .

The lull in sound meant her mother probably expected an answer and it was time to pay attention instead of thinking about fried carby goodness.

She sat, back straight, and met her mother’s eyes. “I have the file. Nell briefed me before she left. I’ll head to the club tonight to see for myself what’s going on.” She continued to hold her mother’s gaze. It wouldn’t do to show Edwina Owen, the leader of Clan Owen, any weakness. Some predators ate their babies, Meriel knew. She’d actually said that to her mother once. Her mother had replied, “Then you should never give me a reason to do that.” Not really warm and fuzzy, Meriel’s mother.

“Take Gage with you.” It wasn’t a request. Very little of what Edwina said ever was. In this case, as was most often the fact, she was right. It wasn’t like Meriel was unused to having guards with her. She wasn’t helpless, but she had no problem having an expert on the job with her.

“I’ll be picking Meriel up this evening at ten,” Gage spoke from his place near the door.

Edwina looked very pleased the whole world was following her command and Meriel fought the smile edging the corners of her mouth.

“Excellent. Brief me in the morning then.” Edwina dismissed her with the flick of her fingers. Meriel gladly took her up on it and got out of the room as quickly as possible.

“She scares me,” Gage said as she passed him in the hall on her way to her office. She totally did not look at his butt or the way the denim was faded in all the right places. That would be wrong. Heh.

Meriel, who was not having nasty fantasies about a coworker, tried to emanate total professionalism for about five seconds before she simply rolled her eyes. “Whatever. She wants you to be scared, she likes it. Gets off on it even. Some men like that. My dad for instance and I don’t know why I brought that up because, um, ew.” She shook her head to dislodge that thought. Oh yeah, Gage’s ass. She smiled at that much more appetizing mental image. “I’ll see you tonight then? So you can protect my honor and stuff?”

He grinned. “Your stuff is awesome and I’m sure you can protect it yourself. But yes, I’ll be there with bells on. Or not with bells, that would be noisy and annoying, but I’ll be there.” He sauntered off and she snuck one last peek at his ass. She wasn’t a saint after all. It was a spectacular ass and, like any great work of art, should be admired. It was her sacred duty as an American. And stuff.


Efficiently, she made her way through the office to her side of the building. Clan Owen’s headquarters took up the entire thirtieth floor of a high-rise in downtown Seattle. They were much like any other business, with a secretarial pool, legal department, accountants, sales reps even. Only their employees were all witches.

Twelve generations of Owen women had run the clan. The first Owen witches came to California in 1847. They’d come a long way from the dry-goods stores and illegal booze operations that had given them their first financial roots in the region. Now, the clan was a multimillion-dollar business and an unquestioned powerhouse in the world of witches.

Like every firstborn daughter of the leader of Clan Owen, from birth, Meriel had been shaped to lead. Taught, formed, molded into the kind of witch, the kind of woman who could hold the clan together and keep it prosperous and powerful for the next generations.

Edwina had not been the kind of mother to kiss boo-boos and bake cookies. She’d raised Meriel to be hard and canny. Meriel liked to believe she got the canny part without the hard.

And one day she’d kiss boo-boos and bake cookies and still manage to run the clan just fine.

She stopped by her assistant’s desk, picked up mail and messages and closed her door, and the rest of the office out.

The day was nice enough and she let it pull her attention from work for a moment to take in the beauty of the water glittering in the sun, of the ferries dotting the Sound.

With a happy sigh, she kicked off her shoes and opened the file folder on her desk—the dossier on the man she’d be speaking to that evening.

This man had just appeared in Seattle and had set up a nightclub in the middle of Owen territory. For months it appeared he only ran the club for humans, which is why they didn’t notice him at first.

She didn’t know exactly when he’d opened up the part of the club for others, but he’d been using magick from Clan Owen’s font to power some wards for a few months and it had just been noticed two weeks before.

One, it agitated her that it took so long to be discovered.

Two, despite her annoyance, she was impressed.

Whoever he was, Meriel understood that it wouldn’t do to underestimate him. She hadn’t achieved bonded full council status yet, but she wasn’t stupid.

She was curious though.

A knock sounded on her door and before she could speak, her mother came in. Not breezed in, not strolled or barged or anything of the sort. No, Edwina came in and occupied nearly all the oxygen in the room.

“I’ve just received an interesting phone call.”

Meriel didn’t bother to ask her mother to sit. Edwina would do what she wanted to do. She pulled out a notepad and a pen and looked up, ready to take notes.

“There’ve been some developments in New Mexico. Three witches are missing from a local coven just outside Albuquerque.”

She’d been an attorney long enough to know silence got you more information than a lot of leading questions when you were interviewing someone. So she simply waited for her mother to give her all the details.

“One of the women has been missing for eight months. They believe she is dead. Another male gone for six months and this last one went missing two weekends ago.”

“Were they all active within the coven? Or loners? Drugs? Trouble at home or work?”

Her mother nodded her head once, as if reassuring herself Meriel was indeed not a total idiot.

“None of the three is very active. They don’t have a font, but the parents of one of the women are leadership. Which is why it got to me at all I expect.” The unspoken was that no one would have cared about the other two because no one was watching out for them.

The very idea of it burned in Meriel’s belly. The very fact that her mother wasn’t similarly offended also burned. This could be a totally nothing issue, or a big problem. Simply refusing to examine it very closely wasn’t, to Meriel’s mind, a very effective way to run things.

“Why these people? Is it connected to some of the similar stories we’ve heard lately?”

Her mother simply went forward as if these questions meant nothing. “I know you like open communication with other witches, even those who are clanless. I’m going to have you be the point person on this for the clan. Until Nell returns on Monday, work with Gage.” She stood and then handed a file folder to Meriel. “That contains all the details.” Again she paused, taking a breath. “I’m not convinced this is a problem. People disappear, Meriel. We don’t know enough about any of them to get worked up.”

It must have been a herculean effort to not show the sneer in her voice on her features. Meriel bit her tongue and reminded herself she’d run the show differently when her time came.

She took the file, looking over her mother’s beautiful and very precise handwriting. Edwina may have thought the call was crap, but she took good notes. Meriel would head over to talk to Gage about it to get his opinion once her mother had gone.

“If they were in a clan, they’d have taken better care of their people. This may not have happened. People do themselves all sorts of damage. You know this as well as I do.”

If she spoke, she’d say something bitter and she didn’t want to. Didn’t want to spend any more negativity on the day. Or on her mother.

One brow rose in challenge. “Go on. Say it. If you’re going to take over for me, you need a spine.”

It was difficult, but not impossible to rein her magick’s response to her mother’s taunt. There was no winning by Edwina’s rules. So she refused to play by them. “I’m not playing this game with you. Also, there’s no if and you and I both know it. Thank you for this information. I’ll handle it from now on.” And she was sure the witches in New Mexico would appreciate not being made to feel as if it were their own fault for getting kidnapped or killed or whatever may have happened down there.

Edwina narrowed her gaze and Meriel gave her blank face right back. She’d groomed her blank face over many, many years. Considered it perfect. It was the only way to win with her mother, who pushed to get a response. One of these days though, oh, Meriel would give it to her, all right.

“Thank you.” Meriel said it again, holding her mother’s gaze.

Edwina sighed and moved to the door. “Keep me apprised.” And left.

Meriel read through her notes and headed to Gage.

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Heart of Darkness (Bound By Magic Series #1) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Kendra_Readers_Edyn More than 1 year ago
Full review posted at: readersedyn(dot)blogspot(dot)com Review: Heart of Darkness was the first Lauren Dane book I have had the pleasure of reading. This book is a paranormal romance filled with mystery, suspense, romance, and numerous magickal components. The story primarily follows witches Meriel Owen and Dominic Bright. Meriel has been groomed practically since birth to take over her mother's position as head of the Owen clan. Dominic has been raised outside of clan affiliation and harbors a deep distrust of anything remotely smelling like an invitation to clan membership . until he meets Meriel. The two meet up when Meriel is instructed by her mother to investigate a drain from an outside source on the clan's power source, the font. Attraction is instant for both, but Meriel discovers that Dominic is much more than a potential fling. Ever cautious, Dominic is not exactly receptive toward Meriel's announcement . Dominic and Meriel are bond-mates. Understanding Dominic's difficulty, Meriel allows Dominic to adjust to her revelation without pressure. The couple slowly progresses until another unexpected danger looms over their future. Secrets are divulged, lives are endangered and through it all, the Owen clan must take a stand against the threat. But will Dominic be able to set aside his distrust of clan affiliation to aid Meriel and her clan . a woman he has come to care for? Guess you will have to read this fascinating novel to find out. ? Dane does an outstanding job of world building with Heart of Darkness. Oftentimes the first novel (especially in a planned series) can become cluttered with information, leaving the reader in a haze of confusion. Also marvelous is the task of not only introducing characters, but including back stories that enhance the reader's ability to get to know the secondary cast on a deeper level than merely "supporting character". The story successfully flows from beginning to end, never letting up on the suspense, romance, and depth of character. I really enjoyed that Meriel and Dominic's characters have a chance to evolve past the level they begin at in their magickal confidence. Another fascinating aspect was Meriel's growth in roles from support within the clan, to leadership. Her personality comes across initially as intelligent, resourceful, and dedicated toward work and the clan. But underneath the cool exterior of Meriel the lawyer, lurks Meriel the badass witch who will do everything within her magickal power to fiercely protect anything or anyone who belongs to her. And Dominic belongs to her. Together they are an unstoppable force. Dane well and truly sucked me into this fascinating escape into the world of the Owen clan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. The pacing at the start of the story is a little slow but it pick up really fast toward the end. I can not wait for the next book in the series.
KrisSpor More than 1 year ago
Praise to Lauren Dane for Heart of Darkness book of Bound by Magick series. Lauren Dane creates a magical world centered mainly around a witch clan called Clan Owen. Heart of Darkness is well written and Lauren Dane does a wonderful job with explaining the difference between magic and magick. In Heart of Darkness true witches are being hunted and disappearing in attacks by mages and turned witches. These attacks not only happen to Clan Owen, but Clan, coven and out clan(not associated with any groups) witches from around the country. Meriel Owen is a headstrong, powerful witch with the potential to become even more powerful. She knows what she wants and she will fight for it. Meriel is charged with two tasks, find a way to stop the attacks on Clan Owen and find who is stealing magick from the font belonging to Clan Owen. Heart of Darkness by Lauren Dane has given each character their own personality, history, strengths and weaknesses making them all the more unique, real and easy to grow to care about and love. I look forward to reading Chaos Burning book #2 in the Bound by Magick written by Lauren Dane.
Leo0730 More than 1 year ago
I was not all that jazzed about reading this book, but I like her Brown series so I had to try it. I brought it when it first came out, but did not read it until the (Christmas night) other day. I could not put it down, and if I would not have started getting sleepy from it being so late I would have finished it that night. This was a great start to a new series. I loved her Brown sib series and so far this new one is right on track. Can not wait for the next book!
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This book could be described as a romance, as a suspense novel, as paranormal...or even speculative fiction.  It is a unique hybrid novel that really gestures at something interesting going on in American fiction.
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Stephanie-Shaw More than 1 year ago
Decent read, but not as good as some of her other books. *3.75 Stars* I first have to say that I am a BIG fan of Lauren Dane. I have read several of her books. Her Chase Brother's series is one of the top 3 of the 46 series I have read. That being said, this book fell a little short for me. I suppose I have high expectations because Ms. Dane puts out some quality work. The story line was good. I really liked the characters as well. My biggest problem was that it was VERY repetitive. Here's is an example: He pulled her into his arms and it was alright. So very alright. "You just make everything alright," she mumbled into his shirt. There were several instances like this. Another problem I had was the main character kept says how she was so strong and powerful, yet would contradict herself for not being good enough or for not forseeing all possible outcomes in which there would be trouble. It was a constant shift back and forth of self confidence.Over all, I did enjoy the story. The first two chapters of the next book are included in the back of this one. I enjoyed those first two chapters more than this book, so I will be reading it at well. I have faith that Chaos Burning, the 2nd in the series, will be a better read.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
Law school dropout Meriel Owen is heir to running the mighty witch Clan though she finds seeing the same coven every day tiresome. That is until her concerned mother Edwina turns to her for help. Edwina explains that someone is stealing their power. She wants Meriel to investigate. Her inquiry leads her to underground club owner Dominic Bright who distrusts those with power who makes the rules he breaks. Both are unhappy with their encounter as each recognizes the other is their undesirable bond mate. She lives by rules, but begins to show him why adherence is critical at a time when psychopathic mage killers siphon witch powers to further their personal agendas without regard to the innocents. Whereas her side objects to him, their mating leaves both in danger from his side. The engaging first Bound by Magick urban fantasy stars forbidden lovers whose bonding causes tsuris to her clan but nothing like the reaction from his side. Although star-crossed lovers, the relationship between Bright and Owen goes rather smoothly between them even while each questions the wisdom of their pairing. Still with family issues on both sides, fans will enjoy this opening act. Harriet Klausner