Download high-resolution image
Listen to a clip from the audiobook
audio pause button
0:00
0:00

Old Flames and New Fortunes

Author Sarah Hogle On Tour
Listen to a clip from the audiobook
audio pause button
0:00
0:00
Audiobook Download
On sale Apr 02, 2024 | 12 Hours and 12 Minutes | 978-0-593-82685-0
Fibs and squabbles and spells . . . oh my!

A small, magical town tucked away in rural Ohio, Moonville is the perfect place for floral witch Romina Tempest to use the language of flowers to help the hopeful manifest love in their lives. After giving up on her own big romance eleven years ago, at least she can bask in others' happily ever afters.

When the shop’s potential financier shares news of his wedding, Romina jumps at the opportunity to discuss the business . . . even if it means she has to fake-date her chaotic colleague Trevor to get an invitation. But all hell breaks loose when she discovers Trevor’s soon-to-be stepbrother is none other than Alex King: her high school sweetheart. Her greatest love. The boy who broke her heart.

What starts as an innocent misunderstanding becomes a weeklong fake-dating scheme, as Romina quickly finds out she can’t deny her connection with Alex. Caught between her livelihood and her heart, Romina must decide if taking a second chance on first love is worth the risk.
Chapter One

Blackthorn:
Our path is beset with difficulties.

Twin purple roses, one bud closed. Love at first sight.

A two-leafed red carnation. I must see you soon.

Eight-and-a-quarter inches of grape ivy. I desire you above all else. The magic hums to let me know I'm on the right track, and I smile, busily fulfilling a pickup order at my luckiest time of day.

It is late April, when flowers have begun to swallow up the stone walls, when it's just warm enough that I can take my coffee in the courtyard at dawn and watch blue chase pink from the sky, stars popping like soap bubbles. My world is alive with the fragrance of freshly turned soil and shivering mist, chickens clucking around my ankles and eating the bugs on the brick pavers before the bugs can eat my crocuses.

To my back is the carriage house I've lived in for the past three years, built in the French country style, with sandy stone and white shutters decorated with moss and ivy. Rows of elevated flower beds burst with riots of hellebores, bleeding hearts, forget-me-nots, bluebells. This courtyard, with its five-foot-tall perimeter and the witch hazel tree that's even older than the neighborhood, flowering quince with peach blooms, the shock of yellow sunrise forsythia-is all my kingdom.

My heart tap-dances to a song in my soul, inherited from my grandmother, who inherited it from hers, and yes, I can believe it. Curious tourists in my family's shop ask me frequently: Do you believe it, truly?

I reach for buttercups-What golden radiance is yours!-but catch my hand drifting, landing inexplicably on blackthorn: Our path is beset with difficulties. My hand jumps back.

"No, it is not," I tell the flowers sternly, plucking a buttercup instead. "Your path is simple and happy, and ends in a September wedding, just like Cecelia dreams." Cecelia, one of my regulars, is determined to turn her boyfriend into a husband. Of course, my flowers won't force him to propose. They'll merely spark an idea in his mind, if magic agrees with the pairing. The spell is informed by the flowers' traditional symbolism and how each flower reacts to the others. The twin purple roses are representative of how they met, the carnation expresses urgency, and the ivy symbolizes how Cecelia feels. They tell a special story, one imbued with magic to help spur on Cecelia's wishes: Once upon a time soon to come, Gustav will happen to be ten minutes early for work, so he'll decide to walk the long way around, passing a jewelry shop. He'll glance in the window, and right there in the front, he'll notice a gem that'll remind him of his beloved Cecelia. Now, magic can tempt Gustav to the shop, but whether he chooses to walk inside is his own business.

I'm pretty sure I invented flora fortunes. I call myself a flora fortunist since "creating floral arrangements using the language of flowers to magically bring a person's romantic hopes to fruition" is a mouthful. Much like tarot or palm readings, I can't cast my own will over a person's destiny. I can only intuit what a person's love life needs and try to attract what they desire-to get the object of their affections to notice them, to get over an ex, or to encourage their ex to get over them. My spells never force love, only open up possibilities.

With the buttercup added to the mix, I'm overcome by a tingly slide of wrongness; whenever I make a misstep, I get a sensation like I've put one foot through a rabbit hole in a field, I've sat in something sticky, or there's dust in my eye. Itching and muck and bad tidings, the dread of having missed an appointment, a phantom popcorn kernel I can't get out of my teeth.

Tossing out the buttercup, I use my pruning shears to snip off six inches of blackthorn (which does not align with Cecelia's hopes for an imminent wedding).

Just like that, the wrongness clears away.

I hear an internal click of a door unlocking: In my mind's eye, light glitters through a keyhole, and with it, a rush of air scented with greenery. The sensation of getting a flora fortune right is different every time-all I know to expect is something wonderful. I close my eyes, bracing-

And taste pumpkin, chocolate chips, brown sugar, and cinnamon on my tongue. The image of my grandmother's beige apron with the red stars stitched on the front pocket, which she wore when I was little, comes rushing back. Licking the icing off my hand while leafing through an American Girl catalogue. Standing on a stool, mixing batter. Traveler's talismans! All in a moment, I've gained access to every lost memory of the little triangular cakes my grandmother used to bake for the autumn equinox, and it's almost as if she's here again.

Every time I weave together a flora fortune the way magic wishes me to, it rewards me with a uniquely pleasant sensation, a ray of happiness that can light up the rest of the day, sometimes a long-forgotten memory unburied. There is no physical, provable indication that a spell has occurred. It all takes place in the heart. And this is why, even though I feel magic's effects as surely as I feel the brush of clothing against my skin, most folks don't believe witchcraft is real.

Ironically, I have trouble explaining my particular magical skill set to other witches, too, since as far as I know, nobody else has this ability. I know a witch who can influence the weather with their emotions, another who has lucky bakes. But magic took note of my keen interest in garden spells and floriography and combined them into a whole new branch just for me.

The symbolic language of flowers is greatly varied: There is Victorian floriography, which is the most well-known. In the Victorian days, you couldn't go around flirting openly with someone you had the hots for because everybody had to conform to oppressive decorum, so you'd wear an apple blossom if you hoped a certain suitor would try a little harder, and that sort of thing. There's also Hanakotoba, Japanese floriography, which, just like Victorian floriography, assigns symbolism to popular plants and flowers. Sometimes, a plant has different meanings across cultures, and sometimes it's more or less universal.

I go with whichever meaning feels right, favoring the more descriptive, poetic ones I've cobbled together from books and websites. Some of the symbolism I even make up myself, if I feel no existing meaning fits.

I stare at the arrangement in my hands. The composition of this magic doesn't strike me as being meant for Cecelia anymore, but I don't get the vibe that it matches any of my other customers' unfulfilled orders, either, so I'm not sure who it might belong to. Whoever it is, the poor thing's love story looks convoluted, with an undercurrent of imminence, of reunion. Cogs whirring, destiny underway.

Clutching the strange bouquet, I step through the back door of the main building, into the wraparound sunroom where more of my flowers grow, accidentally knocking over a planter and spilling soil across the floor. As I sweep it up, I elbow my toadflax, which topples into the arbutus, two plants whose symbolism are total opposites (Be more gentle in your wooing and Be mine, I beg of you). These plants don't like touching each other, clashing energies like an angry cat's bottlebrush tail.

"You all right?" Luna calls out.

I need more room in here goes without saying. "Yeah," I grumble, finishing up the job and heading into The Magick Happens. Built in 1850, the shop predates the town's establishment. A great brick square with glossy black shutters, gas lantern sconces, and a gold, purple, and green medieval banner with a gold cauldron on it that reads the magick happens by the front door, it began its life as a stagecoach inn. In the 1970s, Dottie Tempest purchased what was, at the time, a music store, and abracadabra'd it into a boutique for candles that set your love fate in motion. Luna, my oldest sister, learned candle-making at Dottie's knee and has carried on the tradition, filling the main shop floor from top to bottom with candles.

The floors are rustic maple, walls papered with a misty forest pattern of pale grays, greens, and blues the color of dusty miller in early morning frost. A bright, polished staircase that leads to Luna's apartment above is roped off from customers, shelving beneath it occupied by crystals, velvet drawstring bags filled with stones or dried herbs, and talismans. Everything smells like old wood, a long history, and wax in every scent imaginable.

The room splits off to the right into a low passageway lit by electric torches, making a 180-degree turn before ramping steeply down, directly below the shop into three small rooms devoted to fantasy and paranormal fiction as well as witchy how-to books, which we call the Cavern of Paperback Gems. Signed copies of Zelda's cozy paranormal mystery series have a table all to themselves.

Even though Zelda, the middle Tempest sister, is eight hours away in Treasure Cove, Virginia, she runs the Cavern remotely. She sends us handwritten descriptions on note cards, monitors inventory, and purchases titles to have delivered to our doorstep. A playlist called Ren Faire sends trills of fiddle and cittern throughout my and Luna's domains, but not down in the Cavern, where Zelda plays either the dark and stormy night playlist or Bram Stoker's Dracula: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, depending on her mood. A special old-fashioned phone rests on the wall beside an embroidery hoop that reads Dial 3 for Recommendations, which connects directly to Zelda's phone.

Do I believe in magic, truly?

In a place like this, it's impossible not to.

But lately, the magic's been changing. What once was a fluttery zing is a dense churning, manic and confused thanks to the chaos of plants I've got crammed in the sunroom, all the different energies mingling at too-close range. The state of our atmosphere is downright unpleasant. Ordinary customers don't notice, but to my eyes, nettle and lady's slipper three feet from each other spells palpable disaster. I've got dried flowers suspended from the ceiling, vines swallowing up every inch of wall space, live shrubbery overwhelming my workbench. As demand for flora fortunes has grown, I've had to keep more varieties on hand, and I've run out of room. Every day, the air between Luna and me is charged with what if.

What if we aren't able to climb out of the sinkhole we've crumbled into? Three months ago, the vacant lot next door went up for sale, and we figured it was the answer to our prayers. Not only does the property come with a greenhouse (albeit a pretty old one), but the lot is paved, so why not use that space for a magical night market? It was a competitive sale, so our landlord and business partner, Trevor, decided to waive the inspection, and we poured all of our savings into a property that has turned out to be a dumpster fire.

I still cringe, remembering how we'd celebrated when the other bidders stepped back, unwilling to match our offer. I imagine they are all laughing at us now.

Without glancing up from the computer behind the front desk, Luna tells me, "It'll happen." Even though witches only get one main specialty and Luna's is candles, she's uncannily perceptive. I think this is more of a Luna thing than a witch thing.

"Mm." I tie on my apron-green, purple, and gold, like the banner out front, our shop name emblazoned in a medieval font-and turn the hand-painted wheel of fortune until it clicks to Monday. On Mondays, our deluxe subscription box brings you eight grams of dried verbena, a bottle of honeysuckle oil, a Love Awakens candle (rose, amber, and cardamom), and a historical fantasy novel of our choice. For in-store purchases only, a fresh posy good luck charm can be added to the box for $2.99.

"Your aura has an interesting little dash of happy surprise in it." Luna tilts her head and smiles. "Which ones bloomed?"

I jiggle one of the ancient leaded windows unstuck, raising it as high as it will go. A cool breeze sails in, along with a whistling eee-ee-ere, eee-ee-ere. I glance sharply upward, where a lark watches me from a tree branch, head cocked as if he knows a secret. "The windflowers."

"Fantastic. Dry some out when you get a chance so I can throw them into a batch, will you?" She finally looks up at me, dark circles rimming her big blue eyes, chin-length corkscrew curls tugged into a tiny blond bun. Our eyes are the only feature that the three of us sisters share. Luna's taller than I am, more willowy. Zelda's shorter and curvier, with long ginger waves; my hair's naturally pin-straight brunette, but these days I keep it in a bleached bob-and usually under a hat. Straw boaters with silk ribbons are my favorite for spring.

"Do you think I should start making lotions and bath oils?" she asks.

I blink at her. "My darling Luna, you cannot be serious. You're stretched so thin."

Snapdragon is on her lap, rubbing his gingery face along her wrists. She bends her head to kiss him.

"I'm looking at a witchcraft store run by this lady in Little Rock, and you should see all the stuff on here. She does all of it by herself, too. Creating, shipping, processing orders, promotion, all of it. I feel so inadequate."

"Look around you. You've made this business thrive."

While she and I technically don't own this place, we're undeniably the ones in charge. Grandma handed the reins over to her son (our dad) when I was twenty-two. My sisters and I once looked forward to inheriting it from him someday, but he lost the shop to our mother a year later in a tumultuous divorce, after which she sold it for a pittance out of spite. The dream is to buy it back someday. As the store's success grows, though, so does its monetary value, and our dream of family ownership recedes that much further from grasp. I can hardly blame Trevor for not wanting to sell. He fell into the witchy business entirely by chance and has seen only profit since then.

Her expression is grim. "I don't know about thriving. Not anymore. If we can't put up the night market, I don't know how we'll recoup the price of the lot."

"It's too early to start worrying."

"Can't start worrying when you never stop."

I thrust my coffee mug under her nose, which she accepts, growling at the screen. Blue light slants across her freckled face, many of which are actual freckles and several of which are tiny rainbow dots tattooed across the bridge of her nose and cheeks. I grab the mouse, closing her browser.
One of The Nerd Daily’s Most Anticipated Romances of 2024
One of Brit+Co.’s Must Read Books of April

"The story is full of hysterical situations, endearing supporting characters, witty dialogue, unexpected events, and an enduring love that will make your heart melt." —Fresh Fiction

"Old Flames and New Fortunes is a romance with a dash of magic, coziness, and loads of great relationships." —Culturess

"In need of a second chance romance between high school sweethearts in a small town with magic vibes? Hogle’s new book ticks all of those boxes and more—escape into this whimsical tale and explore the blossoming romance of Alex and Romina in Old Flames and New Fortunes!" —The Nerd Daily

"Prepare to swoon while enjoying the ever-so-romantic Old Flames and New Fortunes. . . This love story has witty banter, steamy love scenes and heartfelt apologies, but it’s Alex’s eloquent devotion that will melt the flintiest of readers. The colorful cast includes families both biological and created, and the promise of magic in the air adds extra sparkle." —BookPage

"Hogle succeeds in crafting a fun romance with a touch of fantasy." —Booklist

"[A] cozy and witchy rom-com. . . [A] fun take on the fake dating trope that will have readers genuinely wondering how Alex and Romina will find their way back to each other. The result is a beguiling and heartfelt story of rekindling love." —Publishers Weekly

"A second-chance romance with a dash of fake-dating . . . messy and fun along with being incredibly soft and sweet.” —Culturess

"A delightfully magical second-chance romance . . . The world Hogle has created is cozy and warm, and fans of her previous work or of witchy romances will be crossing their fingers that this is the start of a series."Library Journal (starred review)

“With her brilliant twists on magic and romance, Sarah Hogle does it again! Filled with all my favorite tropes, Old Flames and New Fortunes captures the magic of first love and the whimsy of a second chance.” Ashley Poston, author of The Dead Romantics

"Old Flames and New Fortunes is as perfectly, bewitchingly constructed as one of Romina Tempest's magical bouquets. This story reads like a spell, one that compels you to move to Moonville, Ohio and become a Tempest sister, or at least one of their coven. Gorgeous, heartfelt, and romantic to the very last word." —Lana Harper, author of Payback's a Witch

"Heartwarming and utterly enchanting, Old Flames and New Fortunes had me under its spell from page one. Hogle grounds the story with real emotional weight while letting her fantastical elements flourish, and the result is nothing short of magical and testament to the idea that, although life might not turn out the way we plan, there’s always room for hope, love, and miracles.” —Sarah Grunder Ruiz, author of Last Call at the Local

"My goodness—I fell so hard and so fast for this hilarious, cozy, devastatingly romantic story! Old Flames and New Fortunes is a brilliant, magic-filled exploration of second chances and what it means to open up your heart again. It may just be my favorite Sarah Hogle book yet." —Sarah Adler, author of Mrs. Nash's Ashes and Happy Medium

"I can't get enough of Sarah Hogle's impeccable writing. This book took possession of my whole heart with its laugh-out-loud wit, wonderfully tender romance, and lovable characters, including the most swooningly quotable hero. Sarah Hogle is a romcom genius, and Old Flames and New Fortunes is perfection." —India Holton, author of The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels

"Whatever Hayao Miyazaki is eating and drinking, Sarah Hogle is eating and drinking it as well. Or else how can you explain the magic that exudes from each word she writes? . . . I am a Sarah Hogle fan first, human second. And this story has my entire heart with its flowery magic and loveable and absolutely hilarious characters." —Zoulfa Katouh, author of As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow
© Marcus Hogle
Sarah Hogle is a mom of three who enjoys trashy TV and provoking her husband for attention. Her dream is to live in a falling-apart castle in a forest that is probably cursed. She is also the author of You Deserve Each Other, Twice Shy, Just Like Magic, and Old Flames and New Fortunes. View titles by Sarah Hogle

About

Fibs and squabbles and spells . . . oh my!

A small, magical town tucked away in rural Ohio, Moonville is the perfect place for floral witch Romina Tempest to use the language of flowers to help the hopeful manifest love in their lives. After giving up on her own big romance eleven years ago, at least she can bask in others' happily ever afters.

When the shop’s potential financier shares news of his wedding, Romina jumps at the opportunity to discuss the business . . . even if it means she has to fake-date her chaotic colleague Trevor to get an invitation. But all hell breaks loose when she discovers Trevor’s soon-to-be stepbrother is none other than Alex King: her high school sweetheart. Her greatest love. The boy who broke her heart.

What starts as an innocent misunderstanding becomes a weeklong fake-dating scheme, as Romina quickly finds out she can’t deny her connection with Alex. Caught between her livelihood and her heart, Romina must decide if taking a second chance on first love is worth the risk.

Excerpt

Chapter One

Blackthorn:
Our path is beset with difficulties.

Twin purple roses, one bud closed. Love at first sight.

A two-leafed red carnation. I must see you soon.

Eight-and-a-quarter inches of grape ivy. I desire you above all else. The magic hums to let me know I'm on the right track, and I smile, busily fulfilling a pickup order at my luckiest time of day.

It is late April, when flowers have begun to swallow up the stone walls, when it's just warm enough that I can take my coffee in the courtyard at dawn and watch blue chase pink from the sky, stars popping like soap bubbles. My world is alive with the fragrance of freshly turned soil and shivering mist, chickens clucking around my ankles and eating the bugs on the brick pavers before the bugs can eat my crocuses.

To my back is the carriage house I've lived in for the past three years, built in the French country style, with sandy stone and white shutters decorated with moss and ivy. Rows of elevated flower beds burst with riots of hellebores, bleeding hearts, forget-me-nots, bluebells. This courtyard, with its five-foot-tall perimeter and the witch hazel tree that's even older than the neighborhood, flowering quince with peach blooms, the shock of yellow sunrise forsythia-is all my kingdom.

My heart tap-dances to a song in my soul, inherited from my grandmother, who inherited it from hers, and yes, I can believe it. Curious tourists in my family's shop ask me frequently: Do you believe it, truly?

I reach for buttercups-What golden radiance is yours!-but catch my hand drifting, landing inexplicably on blackthorn: Our path is beset with difficulties. My hand jumps back.

"No, it is not," I tell the flowers sternly, plucking a buttercup instead. "Your path is simple and happy, and ends in a September wedding, just like Cecelia dreams." Cecelia, one of my regulars, is determined to turn her boyfriend into a husband. Of course, my flowers won't force him to propose. They'll merely spark an idea in his mind, if magic agrees with the pairing. The spell is informed by the flowers' traditional symbolism and how each flower reacts to the others. The twin purple roses are representative of how they met, the carnation expresses urgency, and the ivy symbolizes how Cecelia feels. They tell a special story, one imbued with magic to help spur on Cecelia's wishes: Once upon a time soon to come, Gustav will happen to be ten minutes early for work, so he'll decide to walk the long way around, passing a jewelry shop. He'll glance in the window, and right there in the front, he'll notice a gem that'll remind him of his beloved Cecelia. Now, magic can tempt Gustav to the shop, but whether he chooses to walk inside is his own business.

I'm pretty sure I invented flora fortunes. I call myself a flora fortunist since "creating floral arrangements using the language of flowers to magically bring a person's romantic hopes to fruition" is a mouthful. Much like tarot or palm readings, I can't cast my own will over a person's destiny. I can only intuit what a person's love life needs and try to attract what they desire-to get the object of their affections to notice them, to get over an ex, or to encourage their ex to get over them. My spells never force love, only open up possibilities.

With the buttercup added to the mix, I'm overcome by a tingly slide of wrongness; whenever I make a misstep, I get a sensation like I've put one foot through a rabbit hole in a field, I've sat in something sticky, or there's dust in my eye. Itching and muck and bad tidings, the dread of having missed an appointment, a phantom popcorn kernel I can't get out of my teeth.

Tossing out the buttercup, I use my pruning shears to snip off six inches of blackthorn (which does not align with Cecelia's hopes for an imminent wedding).

Just like that, the wrongness clears away.

I hear an internal click of a door unlocking: In my mind's eye, light glitters through a keyhole, and with it, a rush of air scented with greenery. The sensation of getting a flora fortune right is different every time-all I know to expect is something wonderful. I close my eyes, bracing-

And taste pumpkin, chocolate chips, brown sugar, and cinnamon on my tongue. The image of my grandmother's beige apron with the red stars stitched on the front pocket, which she wore when I was little, comes rushing back. Licking the icing off my hand while leafing through an American Girl catalogue. Standing on a stool, mixing batter. Traveler's talismans! All in a moment, I've gained access to every lost memory of the little triangular cakes my grandmother used to bake for the autumn equinox, and it's almost as if she's here again.

Every time I weave together a flora fortune the way magic wishes me to, it rewards me with a uniquely pleasant sensation, a ray of happiness that can light up the rest of the day, sometimes a long-forgotten memory unburied. There is no physical, provable indication that a spell has occurred. It all takes place in the heart. And this is why, even though I feel magic's effects as surely as I feel the brush of clothing against my skin, most folks don't believe witchcraft is real.

Ironically, I have trouble explaining my particular magical skill set to other witches, too, since as far as I know, nobody else has this ability. I know a witch who can influence the weather with their emotions, another who has lucky bakes. But magic took note of my keen interest in garden spells and floriography and combined them into a whole new branch just for me.

The symbolic language of flowers is greatly varied: There is Victorian floriography, which is the most well-known. In the Victorian days, you couldn't go around flirting openly with someone you had the hots for because everybody had to conform to oppressive decorum, so you'd wear an apple blossom if you hoped a certain suitor would try a little harder, and that sort of thing. There's also Hanakotoba, Japanese floriography, which, just like Victorian floriography, assigns symbolism to popular plants and flowers. Sometimes, a plant has different meanings across cultures, and sometimes it's more or less universal.

I go with whichever meaning feels right, favoring the more descriptive, poetic ones I've cobbled together from books and websites. Some of the symbolism I even make up myself, if I feel no existing meaning fits.

I stare at the arrangement in my hands. The composition of this magic doesn't strike me as being meant for Cecelia anymore, but I don't get the vibe that it matches any of my other customers' unfulfilled orders, either, so I'm not sure who it might belong to. Whoever it is, the poor thing's love story looks convoluted, with an undercurrent of imminence, of reunion. Cogs whirring, destiny underway.

Clutching the strange bouquet, I step through the back door of the main building, into the wraparound sunroom where more of my flowers grow, accidentally knocking over a planter and spilling soil across the floor. As I sweep it up, I elbow my toadflax, which topples into the arbutus, two plants whose symbolism are total opposites (Be more gentle in your wooing and Be mine, I beg of you). These plants don't like touching each other, clashing energies like an angry cat's bottlebrush tail.

"You all right?" Luna calls out.

I need more room in here goes without saying. "Yeah," I grumble, finishing up the job and heading into The Magick Happens. Built in 1850, the shop predates the town's establishment. A great brick square with glossy black shutters, gas lantern sconces, and a gold, purple, and green medieval banner with a gold cauldron on it that reads the magick happens by the front door, it began its life as a stagecoach inn. In the 1970s, Dottie Tempest purchased what was, at the time, a music store, and abracadabra'd it into a boutique for candles that set your love fate in motion. Luna, my oldest sister, learned candle-making at Dottie's knee and has carried on the tradition, filling the main shop floor from top to bottom with candles.

The floors are rustic maple, walls papered with a misty forest pattern of pale grays, greens, and blues the color of dusty miller in early morning frost. A bright, polished staircase that leads to Luna's apartment above is roped off from customers, shelving beneath it occupied by crystals, velvet drawstring bags filled with stones or dried herbs, and talismans. Everything smells like old wood, a long history, and wax in every scent imaginable.

The room splits off to the right into a low passageway lit by electric torches, making a 180-degree turn before ramping steeply down, directly below the shop into three small rooms devoted to fantasy and paranormal fiction as well as witchy how-to books, which we call the Cavern of Paperback Gems. Signed copies of Zelda's cozy paranormal mystery series have a table all to themselves.

Even though Zelda, the middle Tempest sister, is eight hours away in Treasure Cove, Virginia, she runs the Cavern remotely. She sends us handwritten descriptions on note cards, monitors inventory, and purchases titles to have delivered to our doorstep. A playlist called Ren Faire sends trills of fiddle and cittern throughout my and Luna's domains, but not down in the Cavern, where Zelda plays either the dark and stormy night playlist or Bram Stoker's Dracula: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, depending on her mood. A special old-fashioned phone rests on the wall beside an embroidery hoop that reads Dial 3 for Recommendations, which connects directly to Zelda's phone.

Do I believe in magic, truly?

In a place like this, it's impossible not to.

But lately, the magic's been changing. What once was a fluttery zing is a dense churning, manic and confused thanks to the chaos of plants I've got crammed in the sunroom, all the different energies mingling at too-close range. The state of our atmosphere is downright unpleasant. Ordinary customers don't notice, but to my eyes, nettle and lady's slipper three feet from each other spells palpable disaster. I've got dried flowers suspended from the ceiling, vines swallowing up every inch of wall space, live shrubbery overwhelming my workbench. As demand for flora fortunes has grown, I've had to keep more varieties on hand, and I've run out of room. Every day, the air between Luna and me is charged with what if.

What if we aren't able to climb out of the sinkhole we've crumbled into? Three months ago, the vacant lot next door went up for sale, and we figured it was the answer to our prayers. Not only does the property come with a greenhouse (albeit a pretty old one), but the lot is paved, so why not use that space for a magical night market? It was a competitive sale, so our landlord and business partner, Trevor, decided to waive the inspection, and we poured all of our savings into a property that has turned out to be a dumpster fire.

I still cringe, remembering how we'd celebrated when the other bidders stepped back, unwilling to match our offer. I imagine they are all laughing at us now.

Without glancing up from the computer behind the front desk, Luna tells me, "It'll happen." Even though witches only get one main specialty and Luna's is candles, she's uncannily perceptive. I think this is more of a Luna thing than a witch thing.

"Mm." I tie on my apron-green, purple, and gold, like the banner out front, our shop name emblazoned in a medieval font-and turn the hand-painted wheel of fortune until it clicks to Monday. On Mondays, our deluxe subscription box brings you eight grams of dried verbena, a bottle of honeysuckle oil, a Love Awakens candle (rose, amber, and cardamom), and a historical fantasy novel of our choice. For in-store purchases only, a fresh posy good luck charm can be added to the box for $2.99.

"Your aura has an interesting little dash of happy surprise in it." Luna tilts her head and smiles. "Which ones bloomed?"

I jiggle one of the ancient leaded windows unstuck, raising it as high as it will go. A cool breeze sails in, along with a whistling eee-ee-ere, eee-ee-ere. I glance sharply upward, where a lark watches me from a tree branch, head cocked as if he knows a secret. "The windflowers."

"Fantastic. Dry some out when you get a chance so I can throw them into a batch, will you?" She finally looks up at me, dark circles rimming her big blue eyes, chin-length corkscrew curls tugged into a tiny blond bun. Our eyes are the only feature that the three of us sisters share. Luna's taller than I am, more willowy. Zelda's shorter and curvier, with long ginger waves; my hair's naturally pin-straight brunette, but these days I keep it in a bleached bob-and usually under a hat. Straw boaters with silk ribbons are my favorite for spring.

"Do you think I should start making lotions and bath oils?" she asks.

I blink at her. "My darling Luna, you cannot be serious. You're stretched so thin."

Snapdragon is on her lap, rubbing his gingery face along her wrists. She bends her head to kiss him.

"I'm looking at a witchcraft store run by this lady in Little Rock, and you should see all the stuff on here. She does all of it by herself, too. Creating, shipping, processing orders, promotion, all of it. I feel so inadequate."

"Look around you. You've made this business thrive."

While she and I technically don't own this place, we're undeniably the ones in charge. Grandma handed the reins over to her son (our dad) when I was twenty-two. My sisters and I once looked forward to inheriting it from him someday, but he lost the shop to our mother a year later in a tumultuous divorce, after which she sold it for a pittance out of spite. The dream is to buy it back someday. As the store's success grows, though, so does its monetary value, and our dream of family ownership recedes that much further from grasp. I can hardly blame Trevor for not wanting to sell. He fell into the witchy business entirely by chance and has seen only profit since then.

Her expression is grim. "I don't know about thriving. Not anymore. If we can't put up the night market, I don't know how we'll recoup the price of the lot."

"It's too early to start worrying."

"Can't start worrying when you never stop."

I thrust my coffee mug under her nose, which she accepts, growling at the screen. Blue light slants across her freckled face, many of which are actual freckles and several of which are tiny rainbow dots tattooed across the bridge of her nose and cheeks. I grab the mouse, closing her browser.

Reviews

One of The Nerd Daily’s Most Anticipated Romances of 2024
One of Brit+Co.’s Must Read Books of April

"The story is full of hysterical situations, endearing supporting characters, witty dialogue, unexpected events, and an enduring love that will make your heart melt." —Fresh Fiction

"Old Flames and New Fortunes is a romance with a dash of magic, coziness, and loads of great relationships." —Culturess

"In need of a second chance romance between high school sweethearts in a small town with magic vibes? Hogle’s new book ticks all of those boxes and more—escape into this whimsical tale and explore the blossoming romance of Alex and Romina in Old Flames and New Fortunes!" —The Nerd Daily

"Prepare to swoon while enjoying the ever-so-romantic Old Flames and New Fortunes. . . This love story has witty banter, steamy love scenes and heartfelt apologies, but it’s Alex’s eloquent devotion that will melt the flintiest of readers. The colorful cast includes families both biological and created, and the promise of magic in the air adds extra sparkle." —BookPage

"Hogle succeeds in crafting a fun romance with a touch of fantasy." —Booklist

"[A] cozy and witchy rom-com. . . [A] fun take on the fake dating trope that will have readers genuinely wondering how Alex and Romina will find their way back to each other. The result is a beguiling and heartfelt story of rekindling love." —Publishers Weekly

"A second-chance romance with a dash of fake-dating . . . messy and fun along with being incredibly soft and sweet.” —Culturess

"A delightfully magical second-chance romance . . . The world Hogle has created is cozy and warm, and fans of her previous work or of witchy romances will be crossing their fingers that this is the start of a series."Library Journal (starred review)

“With her brilliant twists on magic and romance, Sarah Hogle does it again! Filled with all my favorite tropes, Old Flames and New Fortunes captures the magic of first love and the whimsy of a second chance.” Ashley Poston, author of The Dead Romantics

"Old Flames and New Fortunes is as perfectly, bewitchingly constructed as one of Romina Tempest's magical bouquets. This story reads like a spell, one that compels you to move to Moonville, Ohio and become a Tempest sister, or at least one of their coven. Gorgeous, heartfelt, and romantic to the very last word." —Lana Harper, author of Payback's a Witch

"Heartwarming and utterly enchanting, Old Flames and New Fortunes had me under its spell from page one. Hogle grounds the story with real emotional weight while letting her fantastical elements flourish, and the result is nothing short of magical and testament to the idea that, although life might not turn out the way we plan, there’s always room for hope, love, and miracles.” —Sarah Grunder Ruiz, author of Last Call at the Local

"My goodness—I fell so hard and so fast for this hilarious, cozy, devastatingly romantic story! Old Flames and New Fortunes is a brilliant, magic-filled exploration of second chances and what it means to open up your heart again. It may just be my favorite Sarah Hogle book yet." —Sarah Adler, author of Mrs. Nash's Ashes and Happy Medium

"I can't get enough of Sarah Hogle's impeccable writing. This book took possession of my whole heart with its laugh-out-loud wit, wonderfully tender romance, and lovable characters, including the most swooningly quotable hero. Sarah Hogle is a romcom genius, and Old Flames and New Fortunes is perfection." —India Holton, author of The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels

"Whatever Hayao Miyazaki is eating and drinking, Sarah Hogle is eating and drinking it as well. Or else how can you explain the magic that exudes from each word she writes? . . . I am a Sarah Hogle fan first, human second. And this story has my entire heart with its flowery magic and loveable and absolutely hilarious characters." —Zoulfa Katouh, author of As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow

Author

© Marcus Hogle
Sarah Hogle is a mom of three who enjoys trashy TV and provoking her husband for attention. Her dream is to live in a falling-apart castle in a forest that is probably cursed. She is also the author of You Deserve Each Other, Twice Shy, Just Like Magic, and Old Flames and New Fortunes. View titles by Sarah Hogle