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Monday, April 23, 2018

Dangerous Conjurings by Anne Armistead - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Leah is devastated when the Civil War takes the lives of both her brother and the man she intended to marry. Her brother and childhood sweetheart were best friends and died together. It's up to Leah now to keep the family farm running. Her parents would love to have another baby, but Leah's mother doesn't fall pregnant. She's desperate to succeed and seeks the help of Kali, a dangerous hoodoo conjurer. When Leah's mother delivers a baby boy he's born with a caul covering his face. Fortunately baby Elijah survives his difficult birth. However, this unusual birth can be seen as a sign, will Elijah be safe?

Marcus is a war veteran, visiting the farm to deliver the final words of Leah's deceased brother. He has nowhere to go, so decides to stay on the farm and help with the work. Marcus and Leah are getting along well, but Leah has already lost so much. She's about to suffer another terrible blow though. Kali is after Elijah because she believes the boy has great powers that can help her to become a voodoo queen. She's convinced she's the one who conjured this special boy and is determined to offer him to Marie Laveau, the Queen of Voodoo in New Orleans, in exchange for a lot of money and recognition. Leah and Marcus are planning to travel to New Orleans to stop Kali before it's too late. They have a dangerous journey ahead of them. Leah is willing to make any sacrifice to get her brother back, will she succeed?

Dangerous Conjurings is a gripping romantic story. Leah is a strong young woman. She's smart, fierce and brave and she constantly puts herself in danger to protect the people she loves. I loved her fiery spirit and enjoyed reading every single page of her adventure. Marcus wants to help her and sparks fly between them, but he's holding back. I was curious to find out why and couldn't wait to discover his secrets. They're on a terrifying mission filled with danger, which isn't the best place for the truth to come to light, which made very interesting reading. Finding out if they'd come out unscathed kept me on the edge of my seat.

Anne Armistead knows how to build tension. I loved how thorough and vivid her descriptions are. The combination of dark magic and romance works incredibly well. I was intrigued by the versatile subject matter straight away. I love a good action-packed story and Dangerous Conjurings definitely falls into that category. It's filled with surprising twists and turns and unexpected incidents. I really enjoyed reading this fantastic fascinating book.


If you love a combination of romance, suspense and magic you don't want to miss Dangerous Conjurings.

About Anne Armistead

When she’s not wearing her story-telling hat as Anne Armistead, historical romance author, she’s Sandra Havriluk, middle school English teacher, children’s writer, wife, mom of two grown daughters and a rescue mutt named Jackpot.

She earned her English literature degree from the University of Georgia and her MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University and is a member of the Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the Georgia Writers of Romance (GRW), and the National and Georgia Sisters in Crime (SinC) organization.

She remembers the old-fashioned days before computers, iPhones, and air-conditioning, which may be why historical fiction is her favorite genre. However, she’s not complaining about technology, for she’d be living in the stacks of the library without the internet. In the words of this Southern woman, bless its little heart.

As a child, she actually looked forward to her doctor and dentist appointments because she loved to read the Highlights for Children magazines always in the waiting rooms. Seeing her own stories published in this magazine is a childhood dream come true.

Her love of storytelling came naturally from her daddy, who spun tales of his growing up in the South. She cherishes a collection of his hats,which she believes brings her a touch of his storytelling magic.
Dangerous Conjurings is her debut historical romance. Under the title Treacherous Hearts, it was the winner of the 2014 YA Fab 5 Wisconsin Romance Contest.​


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1. Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

When I’m not wearing my story-telling hat as Anne Armistead, historical romance author, I’m Sandra Havriluk—English teacher, wife, and mom of two grown daughters and a rescue mutt named Jackpot. I earned my English literature degree from the University of Georgia and my MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. I am a member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the Georgia Writers of Romance (GRW), and the National and Georgia Sisters in Crime (SinC) organization. My love of storytelling came naturally from my daddy, who spun tales of his growing up in the South. I cherish a collection of his hats, which I believe brings me a touch of his storytelling magic. Dangerous Conjurings is my debut historical paranormal romance. Under the title Treacherous Hearts, it was the winner of the 2014 YA Fab 5 Wisconsin Romance Contest.

2. Dangerous Conjurings is set in a difficult time filled with unrest, how did you handle the research for your story and how did you capture the exact right atmosphere of this period?

Because I am a Georgian native and descended from multi-generational Southerners, writing in a Southern voice is natural for me. As a lover of William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor, I gravitate to the Southern Gothic tradition. I channeled my family stories and my love of Southern literature when writing this novel.

Luckily, the internet has many diaries online written by women who documented about living through the Civil War and its aftermath, which helped me with setting and details. A Confederate Girl's Diary, 1842-1909 by Sarah Morgan Dawson was invaluable as was Eliza Frances Andrews’ The War Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865. I also became immersed in reading letters from Civil War soldiers, which helped me craft the letter my protagonist’s brother wrote to them. I also was inspired emotionally by Maureen Morehead and Pat Carr’s Our Brother’s War.

The poignancy of these experiences documented in these diaries and letters helped me find my female protagonist Leah’s voice as well as the voice of my male protagonist Marcus, a veteran suffering from what they called “soldier’s heart” then, now termed PTSD.

My mother grew up in Charleston and mesmerized me when I was growing up with her stories of the Gullah-Geechees, so incorporating the Gullah language into the story through my antagonist Kali Despierre was quite a lot of fun for me. Also, I could not pass up the opportunity to work a Tarot Card reading into my story, which became a motif to weave through the story to add elements of foreshadowing and Gothic intensity.

I was lucky to find amazing books on Marie Laveau, my favorite being Martha Ward’s Voodoo Queen: The Spirited Lives of Marie Laveau and Jim Haskins Voodoo and Hoodoo: The Craft as Revealed by Traditional Practitioners. Also, I was fascinated by Zora Neale Hurston’s Mules and Men and Jeffrey E. Anderson’s Conjure in African American Society.

In addition, I was fortunate to interview Dr. Kameelah L. Martin, then at Georgia State University and now at College of Charleston as Director of African American Studies, about hoodoo and conjuring as well as Haitian voodoo influences in New Orleans. I also found an incredible resource in Timothy Stowell, who helped me with locating old maps and details on travel from Savannah to New Orleans in 1865.

I also did quite a bit of reading about caulbearers. Leah’s infant brother Elijah is born “behind the veil,” which, along with the belief that he has been conjured by Kali Despierre, seems to mark him for a doomed destiny.

3. You combine romance with voodoo, what’s the inspiration behind this interesting combination? 

Growing up in the South, I’d heard of hoodoo and conjuring with folk tales, especially in the more rural parts and small towns. I’ve always been fascinated by the hoodoo herbal cures as well as the scary stories of hexes. I’d always heard the saying “hoodoo only works if you believe,” so I had that in mind when I crafted the basic idea of Leah’s mother being a believer and Leah not being one. Leah becomes enmeshed with hoodoo, tarot cards, and the New Orleans voodoo world of Marie Laveau because of the fertility conjuring she seeks from Kali for her mother.

Interwoven with the Leah’s mission to save her brother is her falling for this stranger, Marcus Quinn, who appears with the last letter of her older brother lost in battle and captures her heart. Their relationship plays out against the drama of chasing the hoodoo conjurer across the South toward New Orleans in order to rescue Leah’s infant brother. I wanted Leah to be completely displaced and out of her comfort zone and develop her own sense of agency as she battles the dark magic of hoodoo and voodoo and the heartbreak of betrayal by the man she’s grown to love.

4. Can you describe the main characters of Dangerous Conjurings in seven words each?

Leah Sullivan: dutiful, loyal, risk-taker, brave, bound-by-conscience, determined, yearning for love

Marcus Quinn: sensitive, haunted, guilt-ridden, strong in body, problem-solver, protective, yearning for love

Kali Despierre: crafty, greedy, remorseless, manipulative, violent, vengeful, street-smart

5. Love is something of all times, what does true love mean to you?

I love the idea of true love as presented in e.e. cumming’s poem “love is more thicker than forget.” The poem presents a series of almost non-sensical definitions of love, which is the best definition of all because true love is full of confusion, yet in its confusion, it lasts forever.

6. Historical fiction is your favorite genre, what do you love the most about it?

I cannot remember a time in my life, even at my youngest age, when I have not been drawn to stories of the past. My favorite books growing up were The Little House on the Prairie books, Tom Sawyer, Little Women, the original Boxcar Children, and original Nancy Drew books. I also loved Western movies and TV shows. Everything about past times intrigues me, from the fashion to the food to the social customs to the conflicts against which people’s lives played out. I wish I could time-travel to the past and experience fully another place and time and bring back my experiences to the present in order to capture them accurately and vividly in my writing!

7. How do you combine your teaching and writing career?

The great thing about teaching my subject matter, English, is that it keeps my writing and grammar and vocabulary skills sharp. The not-so-great thing about teaching English is the time consumed by grading essays. However, reading my students’ writing allows me windows into the souls of others – their dreams, fears, tears – which in turn helps me write more realistic characters with more dimensionality. My students help keep me excited about my writing career because they are so excited about having a teacher who is an author.

8. You dreamed of seeing your stories in print, how did this start and how did you pursue the dream?

I was late to the pursuit of my dream, even though even as a little girl, I always wanted to write stories for others to read. I want to give back to readers as an author the intense pleasure I get when I read. I wrote quite a lot of poetry as a teen and young adult and thought perhaps being a poet was what I was called to be. Being a poet doesn’t pay the bills, so I worked at AT&T as a project manager, where I met my husband. My writing was put on the back-burner as I raised my two daughters while teaching school. Becoming an empty-nester and having taught novels for years, I decided to pursue my love of writing by earning an MFA degree in Creative Writing. I have been writing full length novels for the last ten years. My first few novels were learning experiences in which I was searching for my voice and genre. Those will remain forever in a drawer!

9. Dangerous Conjurings was the winner of the YA Fab 5 Wisconsin Romance Contest, how did it feel to win and what happened afterwards? 

I entered Dangerous Conjurings (called Treacherous Hearts at that time) into multiple Romance Contests and it placed in several. I was stunned when I won first in the YA Fab 5 contest because I competed against contemporary entries that are the more popular genre in YA. The agent who judged the contest did not represent YA historical fiction, yet she loved my manuscript enough to award it first place. From that point, it was the old query and submit game. When I submitted to Debby Gilbert at Soul Mate, she fell in love with the manuscript. We renamed it Dangerous Conjurings, and the manuscript and I found a home!

10. What are your plans for the future?

Dangerous Conjurings represents what I hope to be the first of more to come in the historical romance genre. My work-in-progress is tentatively titled When Sparks Fly. It is set in 1924 in the fictional small town of Springville, Georgia, where the state prison is located and the first electric chair has been installed. Iris Calhoun, a young lady of independent wealth during the jazz age, arrives in Springville, Georgia, determined to prevent the electrocution of an African-American teen who is the son of her housekeeper. She engages the legal services of handsome but troubled Horatio Whitman, a World War 1 veteran who has just been released from the State Sanitarium for treatment of shell shock. When their fight against injustice makes them targets of the KKK, sparks fly between Iris and Horatio while they refuse to back down from personal danger. Iris is determined to save both the accused’s life as well as heal Horatio through her love. But will Horatio allow himself to be whole again?

I also am developing a time-traveling historical romance series.


One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a $10 Amazon gift card.

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The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. That book sounds really intriguing and I'm loving the cover as well! Will be checking out this book:) Carole Burant

  2. Dangerous Conjurings sounds like a meticulously researched historical romance that takes a fresh look at the immediate aftermath of the Civil War with a thrilling, spooky adventure.

  3. Interesting stuff, and spooky

  4. Thank you for informing me about this book.

  5. Kali Despierre sounds like a good villainess! She definitely sounds very Kali!

  6. Sounds like an intriguing read, full of emotional ups & downs.

  7. Love the sound of this book - imaginative and interesting xx

  8. Awesome interview and review, thank you for sharing it.

  9. Do love the atmospheric cover and you can see the haunted look in the lady's face. It makes you want to read the book and learn about her ups and downs.

  10. Many thanks for the review and giveaway!

  11. ooh this sounds like an amazing adventure to read Anne

  12. This sounds like a great read.

  13. Historical romances are so very interesting and this sounds like a gripping and interesting storyline.

  14. I liked the review, the book sounds great.

  15. A friend of mine loves historical fiction so I'd love to share this title with her :)

  16. Sounds like the kind of genre I am into right now, will be picking up a copy!

  17. Thank you for introducing us this book.

  18. Sounds like a neat combination ...history, witchcraft and romance

  19. Congratulations on winning the book contest. I love reading stories set during the Civil War and I do enjoy historical romance. They sweep me away to another place and time.

  20. I loved the Little House on the Prairie books too!

  21. Nice interview and great to discover :-)

  22. Annie, your cover is GORGEOUS!

  23. Love the description of your book characters! I definitely want to read more about them.

  24. Love to discover this adventure. Beautiful review and interview.

  25. This sounds a really gripping book

  26. This sounds like a somewhat complex book, what many different elements woven seamlessly together. I think it's interesting that a real historical figure, Marie Laveau, is part of the story.

  27. Thanks so much for the giveaway Anne!

  28. This sounds like a really interesting book!

  29. Thanks and good luck on new book

  30. Thanks for the great prize and competition. Good luck everyone.

  31. Michelle FergusonMay 6, 2018 at 9:42 AM

    Looks very interesting, another one to add to my reading list

  32. great giveaway - looks like a great read

  33. Thankyou for your giveaway... Fingers crossed 🤞