Cover & Excerpt Reveal
Gaslight Chronicles Book Five
Belinda Danvers isn't a witch. But that won't stop them burning her at the stake...
Connor McKay can tell at a glance that Belinda's magickal powers are minimal at best. She can't be guilty of murdering village children. There's something suspicious about her arrest and lightning-quick sentence. Unfortunately, telling anyone how he knows would mean revealing his own powers. He's been sent by the Order of the Round Table to help and he can't just let her die.
Escaping from jail and running from vindictive villagers in her grandfather's steam-powered caravan is more excitement than Belinda's had in years. And despite the danger--or maybe because of it--she loves the time spent with her sexy rescuer. But there's more to his magick than he's letting on...
There's something going on that's bigger than the two of them. It's time for good to make a stand.
Genre: Steampunk RomancePurchase links: Amazon ARe Kobo B&N
Release Date: March 18, 2013
Publisher: Carina Press
Excerpt & More
The left-hand cell stood empty, the door ajar, so Connor looked into the right. A woman about his own age sat with her back straight and her hands folded in her lap on the edge of the bench near the inside wall—as far as possible from the rain and in the opposite corner from the metal bucket causing the smell. Her dress, the simple shirtwaist and skirt of a farm wife, might have once been a pretty green calico, but was now soiled and clinging damply to generous curves. Black hair tumbled down her back, though she’d clearly made some attempt to restrain it into a plait with a piece of string.
Dark eyes flashed up at Connor and her spine stiffened as she looked him up and down. “Another witch-hunter come to gloat? Or are you a man of the cloth, here to enjoin me to repent? In that case, you’re wasting your time. I’ve done nothing to beg forgiveness for.” Her voice was low and husky, with the soft lilt of her gypsy ancestors overlain by a trace of Scottish burr.
“Neither.” Connor glanced back to see the gaoler had once again dozed off by his brazier. Just in case, Connor spoke softly. “I’m here to investigate your arrest, Mrs. Danvers. Can you tell me what happened?”
She snorted. “Ask Squire MacLellan or Alderman Douglas. I’m sure their story is very convincing. Better yet, ask the bloody witch-finder. I’m sure he’d be happy to talk to you for hours.” Her stomach rumbled loudly, mitigating her haughty expression. When she looked up at him this time, Connor noted the deep circles beneath her eyes and the taut lines of her chin. “Blast it, I thought all condemned prisoners were supposed to get a last meal.”
“They haven’t fed you?” What kind of so-called Christians were these people? Connor might not be a religious man—the Order was, if anything, a touch druidic in its roots—but he’d certainly been raised to be kinder than this, especially to a woman.
She shook her head. “Not since they arrested me yesterday morning while I was making blackberry jam.” Her eyes squeezed shut and her shoulders sagged. “I hope they at least turned off the stove, or my house will be a mess of boiled-over goo. Not that it matters. There isn’t anyone to inherit the farm anyway. It will go to the parish, I suppose. Won’t Alderman Douglas be pleased about that?”
“Yesterday? You were arrested just a day ago and have already been tried?” More and more, Connor grew certain there was something shady about this.
She nodded. “Arrested on Tuesday, tried on Wednesday and executed on Thursday. Frugal Scots to the core, these men. They like efficiency.”
They also seemed to ignore due process. Connor’s resolve firmed. “Can you tell me why you were accused?”
“Cholera.” She leaned her cheek against the stone wall, exhaustion showing in every line of her body. “Douglas’s son died along with two other children and a handful of elders. Since it happened not long after I’d spurned the alderman’s advances, he claims I used witchcraft to kill his son.”
“Did you?” Connor kept his tone light, but the question was serious. A Knight could sense magickal ability in those around him and the woman did possess some talent. It didn’t feel dark as he would have suspected if he’d encountered a true black witch.
“No.” Her voice thickened as if with tears. “No matter what, I would never take my anger out on children, even if I did have that kind of power. The sad thing is, even after they kill me, more innocents will likely die. Isn’t cholera usually caused by tainted water? Yet they haven’t looked to their wells or the stream so the disease will still be there.”
“I’ll see what I can do.” Connor wasn’t completely sure she was innocent, but a forty-eight-hour trial process couldn’t be entirely legal, especially for a capital crime. It was time to sort this mess out and that meant dealing with the proper authorities. “In the meantime, here.” He reached into his pocket for the half sack of cinnamon-roasted walnuts he’d been eating on the train and handed the crumpled paper through the bars.
She accepted it with trembling fingers. “Thank you, sir.”
“Don’t eat too quickly or you’ll be ill. And don’t worry—there will be more. That much I can promise.” He spotted a worn blanket in the other cell and fetched it, pushing that between the bars to her as well.
“Thank you.” Her voice thickened again and she choked on a sob as she chewed a walnut. “Who are you?”
He bowed. “Sir Connor MacKay of the Home Office, at your service.” The gaoler still wasn’t looking, so he leaned back toward the bars. “Parlez-vous français, madame?”
She blinked. “Comme ҫi, comme ҫa. Pourquoi?”
She wanted to know why Connor asked. He tipped his head toward the gaoler and she shook her head, indicating that the boy couldn’t understand. Connor whispered back in French. “Your uncle asked me to come. Be brave.”
Her breath caught on a sob and she blinked, but her spine straightened and she mustered a smile and stretched out one hand through the bars, clutching the blanket around her shoulders with the other. “Merci.”
Connor shook her hand, work roughened and chilled, but strong and still daintily feminine. He bowed over it. “I’m off to see the magistrate,” he said, still speaking French. “Perhaps we can get things sorted out.”
She shook her head. “Not as long as the witch-finder remains in town. He won’t rest until
Purchase links: Amazon ARe Kobo B&N
Other titles by Cindy Spencer Pape:
Cindy Spencer Pape Facebook author page
Cindy Spencer Pape Goodreads author page
Cindy Spencer Pape Amazon author page
More Cindy Spencer Pape on Cover Reveals
Be on the lookout for Cindy Spencer Pape's next book, Mr. November: Thankful for You, coming November 2013
Interested in this book? Let your friends and family know about it. Use the buttons below to share this post with them.