A brand new steamy paranormal romance about learning to love all of yourself.
In a world where people judge one another by exacting standards of size and style, being a big girl like Eudora Splat was never going to be easy.
Though trouble is brewing between magic folk and human purists who would see them all destroyed, Dora, a half–giant, tries to eke out a quiet, unnoticed life for herself, but it's hard to be subtle when you're over seven feet tall.
Losing her job as a gardener due to human complaints, Dora is recruited as a prison guard, where she's enlisted to protect the magician Evander “Bear” Gordon from human purist attack. Bear encourages her to embrace her power and celebrate her heritage, introducing her to a world where she can be extraordinary and not just weird.
But after years of hiding and shying away, can Dora find the strength to grab onto a new life – and hold on to the man she's falling in love with?
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'Hey, if you close one eye, her tits are big enough to block out the sun ...' A jeering whisper came from behind.
Eudora felt her shoulders tighten.
Did they think she couldn't hear them?
Taking a deep breath, she attempted to refocus her attention on the rambling grevillea bush before her, carefully snipping the branches at the correct angle — in the hope they'd soon tire and be on their way.
'Fucking amazing,' another awed voice said, 'I'd love to get a grip on that arse!' At the giggles that followed, the secateurs fell from her hand, landing in the soft mulch of the garden bed. Eudora bit her lip, not willing to bend down and pick them up and inflame the situation.
'C'mon then, let's have a look at ya pretty face,' the first voice cooed, it sounded as sweet as molasses and just as sickly.
'Bet she's got a big mouth too,' the second one suggested.
Eudora ground her teeth, struggling not to respond, but, no. She'd had enough. Anger tightened somewhere deep in her chest making the blood pound through her head.
'Look, just leave me alone,' Eudora said and finally turned to face them.
The men gasped and stepped away from her. They were diminutive men, well, diminutive to her at least. Both had cans of beer in their hands and were dressed in sloppy paint-stained shorts and torn t-shirts. Most likely they were red-necks working on the refitting of the Botanical Gardens toilet block, come to have a gander at the freak who worked in the gardens.
There were always people out to gawk at her, particularly on Friday afternoons.
Didn't anyone else work on a Friday afternoon?
She studied them, both had sunburned noses, and one had a tattoo of a scorpion on his hand.
She shook her head, she knew the type. They'd probably been hell for their teachers at school, failed to get a high school certificate and then ended up working short contracts labouring, before habitually blowing all their wages on booze, girls and gambling.
They are just losers who don't know any better, she reasoned, in an attempt to take the edge of her anger.
'Look, just leave me alone, and go away,' she said again, her deep alto voice coaxing as she stepped from the garden. Her boot-shod foot sunk into the deep lawn. The men inched further from her, their bravado fading as her shadow fell over them. At seven feet, eight inches or two metres thirty-six centimetres in metric, Eudora Splat was certainly bigger than the average gardener one would usually find working at the Perth Botanical Gardens.
'Holy shit, you're ... huge.'
She was huge, there was no denying it or attempting to hide it. Dora was in fact part-giant.
Unable to restrain her temper, she glared down at the puny men, she'd been warned about the use of profanity at work, but honestly, how did they expect her to put up with this?
The men seemed to take her hesitation for weakness, and one of them took a surprisingly casual sip of beer. 'How about you flash us those big tits of yours then, eh?' He laughed. 'I'll give you a fiver.'
Eudora snapped her mouth closed. 'If you do not leave now, I'm going to squeeze your tiny heads and pop them like the pus filled pimples you are,' she hissed through tight lips.
The men baulked visibly, but beer and false confidence and a low IQ stopped them from backing down.
Eudora moved forward, and inhaled deeply, which broadened her chest further. Her hand, the size of a dinner plate reached down to caress the sharp serrated curve of the pruning saw that hung from her tool belt.
'Ya wouldn't dare,' the man with tussled blond hair growled, nonetheless retreating.
'Wouldn't I?' Eudora retorted. 'I've had it up to here with you rude, tiny people, always insulting me ...'
The men backed away now, brows lifting and eyes widening. She could smell their terror in the movement of air made by their retreat. Sweet, oniony and with a hint of sour, they were clearly terrified, of her.
They are the ones insulting me.
People always made fun of her size, her breasts, her arse. It was so unfair. How dare they? If they were too puny to stand up and fight her, how dare they harass her?
The rage was coming now, though she tried to stymie it. She could hear her heart hammer in her chest, and her own musky sweat began to bead over her body.
'Dora? Is everything all right?' A friendly male voice spoke from somewhere to her left. For a moment, Dora wasn't sure she'd heard correctly.
'Dora?' the voice repeated, and she inhaled, trying to gather composure. She let her hands brush the green foliage of the garden, it always helped. 'What is going on?' After a moment, Dora turned.
There he was, Tom Roswick, the head horticulturalist. A standard human, he was dressed in the same urban green uniform as she, his chestnut hair glistening in the spring afternoon sun.
Her heart faltered, and she looked away from him towards the two men making a hasty retreat.
'Are you OK?' Tom's voice was gentle. 'I heard what they said, what idiots.'
She smiled, but it was weak. 'I'm fine, thank you.' She looked down at him.
He is so handsome. She couldn't help but think it because it was true. There were not many beautiful men who happened to come across Eudora Splat, but Tom Roswick was one. He had a body and face that looked as though it had been carved in the form of a Greek god, but more than that, in Dora's mind, he had a personality to match.
'Would you like me to find you some work in the greenhouses for next week?' he asked, his sparkling brown eyes meeting hers with a kindness she rarely found in anyone other than her father.
It was virtually unheard of for the gardeners to get work in the greenhouses. They were usually the sole realm of the horticultural students and horticulturalists. She knew why Tom offered it to her though, it would keep her out of the public eye.
Dora looked down at her hands, massive things, with long thick fingers. Her nails were filled with dirt from grubbing about weeding. Hands this size were not ideal for delicate grafting work or managing delicate and rare seedlings. Likely as not she'd kill more than she'd grow there. Not to mention she'd bang her head on the sprinklers wherever she moved. No, the gardens were her place, where she could be in the fresh air, and work the earth, as her kind always had done.
'Thank you,' she said again, unable to hold his gaze. 'But I'm fine in the gardens.'
Tom frowned and looked up at her. 'Dora —' there as an edge to his voice, '— are you sure? This is the third incident this week ...' he faded off.
She ran her dirty, sap-stained hands through her hair and sighed. 'I know. I know.'
It wasn't as if she sought out the trouble. Trouble had a nifty way of finding her.
'There has been even more trouble between humans and magical beings in the news. Have you heard what's going on in Laos?' Tom said softly. 'It's not going to get any better in Perth, you know, you really should think about taking me up on that offer of working in the greenhouses. Attacks against people like you are becoming more frequent.'
People like me.
Dora looked quickly away. 'I can look after myself,' she said as she stared down a couple who walked past, completely unaware of the rare baobab they should be observing, and gazing amazedly at her instead.
'I'm not saying you can't, but ...'
'I'm fine,' Dora interrupted. 'Really, I'm fine.'
Tom didn't look assured. 'OK, but if ever ...'
If ever what? Dora asked silently.
'If you ever feel unsafe, or someone is bothering you, let me know. Come and get me, or Tony, I've told him to keep an eye out for you too.'
Tony? The fifty-seven-year-old chain smoking security man, in his tiny shiny car? What could Tony do that I can't?
She didn't say it, but nodded. 'That's kind of you.'
The watch around her wrist beeped, indicating the end of her working day.
'I'll go and clock out, thanks, Tom,' she said and turned to go, but as she did, Tom's hand caught her arm.
Her heart stuttered in delight at his unexpected touch.
She couldn't remember the last time someone had touched her.
'Dora,' Tom said, his voice incredibly soft.
She looked down at him, her eyes watching and wary.
'I thought maybe ...'
Was he going to ask her out? The thought sent a frisson of excitement hurtling through her body.
She waited for him to continue.
His face reddened, and he rubbed his jaw. She could hear the stubble rasp against his fingers, and longed to place her hand over his, and draw him to her, and ...
'I thought maybe you might ...'
'Yes?' Dora prompted, her heart speeding up.
Tom gulped, and his Adam's apple bobbed in his throat. 'I thought you might ... want to ...'
'What?' she breathed.
'Bring extra deodorant to work,' he finished in a rush. 'Your musk is overwhelming some of the guys in the lunch room.'
Eudora squeezed into the train, feeling more self-conscious than ever. The human part of her wanted to curl up and cry for the humiliation of it all, the giant part made her want to smash something.
As if he'd have asked me out, she mentally berated herself, he thinks I just stink. It was hard, but Dora tried to ignore the groan of dismay from the woman she'd squeezed into the microscopic seat beside.
The woman pressed herself against the window to escape her.
I don't stink.
In fact, to another giant or to a human prone to giant pheromones, she'd smell awesome, beautiful, earthy and intoxicating.
It was a sad fact of life for Eudora that in a world where magical beings were as ordinary as orange juice with breakfast, being a giantess was not. There were very few giants left in existence, and even fewer people susceptible to their pheromones. Once the world had been full of them, now, only a handful remained, and despite their rarity, giants were much maligned.
Finally, as she heaved herself out of the seat to exit the train at Fremantle, she could hear the other commuters in the rail car sigh with relief.
'Thank God I can breathe again!' a woman whispered to her friend, who nodded agreement as Dora slunk past, her excellent hearing picking up every derogatory remark as she did.
It was a long and lonely walk through Fremantle to the old 1900s iron and stone cottage she lived in with her human father. It was days like this that she wondered why her mother had ever moved to Australia. With so very few giants in the country, Dora and her mother were so far as she knew, the only ones living in Perth. Her mother had moved to Australia in the 1950s after many European giants were wiped out by Nazi's. Being a long lived race, their numbers had suffered ever since, as they tended not to have many children. It was unsurprising then that Eudora was an only child.
She crossed the road, a car with loud pulsing music was driving by, the occupants staring wide eyed as she went. She glared back. Bogans.
Eudora was a common enough fixture in the streets around her home in Fremantle, most of the locals knew her or at least knew of her. Here at least, she did not feel such a spectacle.
Finally, she reached her house. It was small, but had good high ceilings. As she opened the door she could smell dinner cooking. Her father had taken their nutritional health very seriously indeed since her mother had been killed in a head-on car collision two years ago.
'That you, Dora?' he called inanely.
Who else would it be? She wanted to snap but refrained. Her father was a good man, he didn't deserve the sharp end of her tongue, not even for asking stupid questions.
'Yes, Dad,' she replied, and threw her backpack in the hallway corridor and bent to unlace her work boots.
'How was work?' her father called, she could smell garlic and butter frying.
'OK,' she replied as she deposited her boots on the shoe rack. There was no point in upsetting him with her tales of woe.
What could he do about it anyway?
She padded down the corridor, her weight making the old jarrah floorboards creak and groan, and stooping slightly to get through the archway into the kitchen.
A reluctant smile made its way to her lips. Her dad's neat academic clothes were covered by a ridiculous cooking apron emblazoned with the words "Kiss the Chef". His balding pate glistened with sweat and the hair that existed around the curve of his head curled in the humidity of the kitchen.
'What are you making?' Eudora asked, peering over her father's shining scalp at the pan on the stove.
'Garlic butter mushrooms and vegetarian lasagne,' he said, stirring the pan thoughtfully.
'Sounds great,' Dora enthused.
Her dad turned to face her, his dark eyes creasing with love as he looked up at her. 'I thought you'd like it.'
Dora turned. 'I'll go and have a shower,' she said.
Although she knew her musk would not offend her father; he was one of those few humans who found giant musk appealing, she was still stung from Tom's earlier comment. She wanted to get into the shower and scrub her skin raw.
Maybe she should leave Perth and head to a city where more giants lived. She'd heard that the largest population of giants could be found in Salt Lake City, Utah. Maybe she should head there? She had enough savings ...
For a moment Dora imagined a life surrounded by people like her.
I could even get a boyfriend.
To date, Eudora had been in love too many times to count, and yet never once had an actual boyfriend. It was not because she was ugly. No, her looks were striking, she'd even been asked to model as a teenager, before her size and musk became too much for most humans to accept. With high angular cheek bones, wide set, slanted blue eyes, her father often said she had 'a face that could launch a thousand ships'.
But he was a historian, and her dad, so he had to say things like that, didn't he?
She sighed heartily. It wasn't even her musk that always turned men off either. In her time, she'd met some guys who'd found her scent actually appealing, or at the very least, tolerable. Yet nothing ever lasted. She'd even had one utterly disastrous sexual relationship. No, the reason she'd never had a boyfriend was because men were scared of her, and felt emasculated by her size.
She caught her father staring at her again. A quiet, retired academic, Professor Randall Splat had few remaining friends. At eighty-one, he literally lived for his daughter. She was all he had left since her mother had died. No, Eudora couldn't, wouldn't leave him to live out the rest of his years in solitude and loneliness while she sought a new life in Salt Lake City.
Maybe I could bring him with me?
She toyed with the idea, but her gaze fell on the immaculate old house, lined with books, paintings and photographs, and knew that wouldn't work either.
It would be cruel to ask an old man to leave his home.
With that, the fantasy of travelling to the US and finding herself a man was squashed.
I'm just being selfish. So what if people here think I stink? So what if I can't find a human man? It doesn't matter. She tried to reason with herself. I have a giant-sized lifespan ahead of me. I need to enjoy being with Dad while he's still around. He needs me.
'Dora, are you sure you're all right?' Randall Splat asked, his expression concerned.
Eudora reached over and pulled her old dad into a tight embrace. He'd shrunk in his old age and her embrace literally swallowed him.
'I'm fine, Dad, just fine,' she assured him.
His frail frame relaxed against her, and she could feel the tremulous hammer of his weakened heart against her body, and her eyes filled.
Eventually, he pulled away, embarrassed by the sudden affection.
Willing the stinging tears from her eyes, she looked down and smiled at him. 'I'd better go for that shower,' she said, holding his gaze steadily.
'Yes, you do that. Dinner will be ready in ten minutes, we don't want the mushrooms to get cold ...'
'No, we wouldn't want that,' Dora replied and left for the bathroom.
Excerpted from "The Magician's Keeper"
Copyright © 2017 Nicola E. Sheridan.
Excerpted by permission of Harlequin Enterprises (Australia) Pty Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Magician's Keeper takes place in a world where humans and magical beings find themselves at odds and there are extremists on both sides. I liked our heroine, half giant, Eudora Splat although I found it odd that she could be so strong sometimes and so wishy washy at others. The magician Evander “Bear” Gordon was okay but could really have used a better sense of humor. All in all I enjoyed the book but must admit it took a bit to finish. Fans of UF romance might want to give it a try.