Cover & Excerpt
by Cindy Spencer Pape
Gaslight Chronicles Book Eight
Sir Thomas Devere and Eleanor Hadrian have loved each other most of their lives—but sometimes love doesn't conquer all.
Their chance at happiness was ruined by Tom's hasty marriage to someone else. Heartbroken, Nell left home, finding a new life as a teacher at a school for the blind. But when one of her supernaturally gifted students, Charlie, is kidnapped, Tom reappears and her worlds collide.
Tom claims he hasn't seen his wife since the day of their marriage…yet he fears the missing student could be his son.
The deeper they dig, the more Tom and Nell discover: a deadly alchemist, more missing gifted children and long-suppressed feelings neither of them is ready for. A race on airship across England and India may lead them to answers—including a second chance at love—but only if all of British Society isn't destroyed first.
Genre: Steampunk RomancePurchase link(s): Carina Amazon ARe iTunes Kobo B&N
Content/Theme(s): Magic, Mystery, SciFi
Release Date: July 20, 2015
Publisher: Carina Press
Excerpt & More
Hadrian Hall, Northumberland, January 1855
Nell Hadrian swirled around the dance floor in her first real ball gown. As usual, her parents’ Twelfth Night party was a smashing success. The difference was this time, Nell had been allowed to stay up, since it was a mostly family occasion and she was now sixteen. The night was magickal, most particularly because Tom had signed her dance card for the supper waltz.
She was frantic with anticipation, but was too busy to dwell on it. She laughed with her elder sister Wink and their friends Melody, Connor and Geneva MacKay. She danced with Connor and her father, along with a dozen or so other family friends. Finally, just before midnight, she danced with Tom.
She twirled in his powerful arms, breathing in the warm scent of him, her face close against his chest. The sparkling crystals dangling from the gasoliers cast a flickering, nearly magickal light over the crowded greenery-filled ballroom. Maybe it was a sign. Perhaps now that she was grown enough to dance at a ball, even though she wasn’t properly “out,” it was time for her to finally speak her heart. Her heart beat faster and she swallowed hard.
She’d been wildly in love with Tom Devere since she was ten years old, maybe even before that. They’d never spoken of it, never dared so much as an inappropriate touch, but somehow, Nell believed with all her heart that Tom loved her too.
“May I speak to you for a minute?” She gazed up into his eyes, terrified and excited all at the same time. “After the dance, but before we go in to supper?”
“Sure.” The music was winding down, so Tom waltzed them away from the center of the crowd, toward a door to a sitting room beyond. “What’s wrong, Nelly-belly?”
She winced at the old nickname and, still holding his hand, sat on a small sofa and tugged him down beside her. “Nothing’s wrong.” She pulled her hand away. “Except that you leave in the morning for university again.” Tom was halfway through his second year, and when he was gone, nothing felt right in her world.
“I know. Can’t wait.” He grinned for a moment before his face fell. “Well, mostly. I will miss everyone, of course.”
“Even me?” After another deep breath she said, “Will you miss me, Tommy?”
“Of course.” He took her hand again and squeezed it. “You’re my favorite sister.”
“Except I’m not.” She paused and looked directly into his vivid blue eyes. “We both know we’ve never truly been brother and sister. Not like the others.”
Tom was nominally Nell’s foster brother. He, Nell, Nell’s brother Jamie, Wink and Piers had come together as children to survive on the soot-and-vampyre ridden streets of Wapping, and later all had been taken in by Merrick Hadrian.
While the Hadrians had adopted the others three-and-a-half years ago, Tom was the exception. They’d discovered he was the missing heir to an elderly baronet. Shortly after their meeting, Tom’s grandfather had passed away, leaving him in the Hadrians’ care. The rest of their group had become Hadrians, but Tommy had become Sir Thomas Aloysius Porter Devere.
Tom was family, but to Nell he had always been so much more. She gazed at him, fiddling with her fan and long gloves. His hair was gold with just a hint of a wave, and she wanted more than anything to run her fingers through it.
He sat silent for a moment before letting out a long, tense breath. “No.” He lifted their clasped hands to her cheek. “You’re right. I’ll probably go to hell for it, but I don’t think of you as a sister. Never did.” Nell licked her lips and a delicious heat filled his eyes before he turned his face away. “But we can’t talk about this, Nell. Not yet. You’re too young.”
“I’m sixteen.” Her voice cracked. “In Wapping, I’d be married by now if I was lucky enough not to have gone the other direction. I don’t know why the upper classes have such different rules about waiting.”
“True.” He kissed her knuckles. “But they do. And I have responsibilities. I have to finish my education.”
She smiled. “I know. But isn’t it perfect that you’ll finish just about the same time I make my debut?”
Tom looked into Nell’s glorious dark eyes and reached out with his free hand to touch one silky curl. All the blood in his body seemed to be pooled below his waist, leaving not much for his brain. It seemed he had loved Nell all his life, but he’d promised her father to wait until she was grown to speak of it.
In fact, it was one of the reasons the Hadrians hadn’t adopted him with the others. It would have complicated the baronetcy, but even more importantly, it would have been prohibitive to marrying Nell. Tom had chosen to remain apart from the others just so he could one day join them as brother-in-law.
One thing that arrangement had allowed him to do was sow some wild oats with the other chaps while at university. Not anymore. Once he and Nell talked, it would be a commitment. He couldn’t lie about feelings that were a big part of who he was, but he couldn’t leave her hanging either. He drew in a deep breath. “It does sound like the perfect coincidence. I do love you, Miss Eleanor Hadrian.”
She flung herself in his lap and kissed his lips. Her backside pressed against his groin and all rationality went out the window.
Her kiss lacked the experience of his previous partners’, but it burned right through him. Nothing had ever felt so good, and yet it left him wanting so much more. Her slim curves pressed against him. All he could do was kiss her back, parting her lips with his tongue to delve inside.
Eventually, of course, they had to pause for breath. He held her tightly against his chest.
“It’s going to be perfect, Tom.” She grinned up at him, her eyes wide. “Sir Thomas and Lady Devere. We’ll be the most dazzling couple in England. Stonechase will be the perfect place for raising children. How many will we have, do you think?”
Tom groaned at the thought of giving Nell children. “Dozens,” he muttered, licking his way around the shell of her ear. “As many as you want.”
“Definitely a dozen or more. You’ll teach the boys about the Order and magick, I’ll teach the girls music and how to manage a household. We’ll throw the grandest parties for all our families and friends.”
“Yes.” It was all he could manage to say. He took her lips again, dipping even deeper this time. She was a quick learner and soon her tongue tangled with his, even as her clever hands found their way inside his coat and under the hem of his waistcoat to grip the muscles at his waist.
Not to be outdone, he brought one hand up to slide inside the neckline of her gown and even her corset, finding her high, small breast through nothing but her thin shift. He’d dreamed of touching her like this since he was a schoolboy. He squeezed lightly and she cried out his name.
They broke apart at the amused but stern voice of great-aunt Dorothy, both of them flushed, flustered and panting. Under Dorothy’s watchful gaze, they tidied themselves and returned to the party, where they pretended to eat the lavish supper laid out.
The next morning, when the entire family lined up to say goodbye to Tom, he whispered in her ear, “Just two more years, dearest. Two more years, just you wait.”
Purchase link(s): Carina Amazon ARe iTunes Kobo B&N
Other titles by Cindy Spencer Pape:
Box Set 1
Box Set 2
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Cindy Spencer Pape Goodreads author page
Cindy Spencer Pape Amazon author page
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Be on the lookout for Cindy Spencer Pape's future release(s): Where there’s Smoke coming Fall 2015, Devil of Bourbon Street coming Fall 2015, Raising the Stakes coming Fall 2015, and A Wolf by Any Other Name coming late 2015/early 2016
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