Saturday, April 25, 2015

Meet the Characters of Nobody's Goddess by Amy McNulty + Giveaway

I'd like to extend a warm welcome to Amy McNulty, author of Nobody's Goddess, a new YA fantasy from Month9Books. I love a little more insight into characters before I read a book, and Ms. McNulty was kind enough to indulge me :)

Meet the Characters from Nobody’s Goddess


Noll is seventeen for much of the story, although you see her as a child in the prologue and she’s sixteen at the start of the plot when some important events occur in her life. Noll’s a rambunctious tomboy with voluminous, curly black hair. (Her full name, Olivière, is too “girly” for her tastes.) She loved playing with the village boys as a child and taking them on “adventures” to fight “monsters” such as sheep and shadows and old women. Never content to do what anyone else tells her, she insisted on being their leader, calling herself the “elf queen,” two words she learned from the village’s legends of mythological kings and queens.

When the last of her friends found their goddesses among the local girls, Noll became sullen and removed from most people, although she still enjoyed playing with the adventurous younger children in the village and her dearest friend Jurij. She’s both embarrassed by the idea of a man finding the goddess in her and humiliated that she’s one of the oldest women ever to still not have her man find her, although she’s reluctant to admit that out loud. She’s never gotten along with her gentle sister, Elfriede, and things grew even worse between them when Jurij found the goddess in Elfriede. Noll didn’t realize it at the time, but she had a crush on him that’s evolved into love as they grew older. She’s so blinded by her feelings for Jurij that she’s afraid for his life. His Returning celebration is around the corner, the day when Elfriede proclaims her love for him and he can remove his mask—but if her love isn’t true, he’ll die. Noll thinks Elfriede doesn’t know the extent of her feelings, that she can’t love Jurij as much as Noll does, so she’s putting Jurij’s life at risk.

Quote: “I’m a woman and I can love where I will, even where love will never find me!”


Jurij was a quiet and submissive child, which makes his role as a man devoted to his goddess easy for him. He’s rugged but not overly well-built with short, wavy dark hair, and he’s probably good-looking, but he wears a mask (usually a stag design), so how would most people know? He, like the rest of the men in the village, has pointed ears you can see behind his face coverings.

Jurij appears as a child in the prologue and is fifteen at the start of the story but eventually ages to seventeen by the end. He’s devoted to Elfriede, the young woman almost two years older than him in whom he found the goddess as a child. He loved playing with his friends before then, but he was often teased for being weaker than the rest of them and happily let Noll take him under her wing as he became the “elf queen’s” most devoted servant. After he finds the goddess in Elfriede, he still considers Noll his friend, which is an oddity in the village, as most men care little for others beyond their goddesses and their families after they fall in love. He has no romantic feelings for Noll whatsoever. It’s impossible for him to feel that way because of the nature of love in the village. Ever good-natured and supportive to those he loves, it’s difficult to make Jurij angry, although Noll somehow manages to upset him from time to time.

Quote: “It’s her or no one. Her or the commune. Her or death.”


Elfriede is about ten months older than her only sister Noll and is seventeen and then eighteen for most of the story. She’s dainty and enjoys housework and cooking and hates dirt and disorder, so she and Noll clashed from an early age. She was the one who inspired Noll to become the “elf queen,” though, as she called her that when she placed a crown of flowers on her head. Elfriede is a fairer brown than her sister and has golden, wavy hair like their mother. She didn’t like little boys much growing up, although she and her many girl friends had crushes on older men who would never love them, since they’d all found their goddesses by then.

Elfriede is known to be sweet-natured and helpful, but she does get angry easily when things don’t go her way. Noll is the most frequent recipient of her anger, which usually comes in the form of a sharp rebuke and tapping her feet with her arms crossed—nothing too frightening, but enough that Noll doesn’t think of her sister as the gracious woman she appears to be to everyone else. She was horribly embarrassed when a younger, awkward boy found the goddess in her and it took her a while to get used to his affections. She has, however, embraced her destiny and considers herself in love with Jurij. Whether her love will prove true enough to keep him alive when he removes his mask remains to be seen.

Quote: “Noll, how could you? How could you be so selfish? You won’t be happy until you have Jurij for yourself. You’d rather he die than be with me.”

The lord

Not much is known about the village’s mysterious lord. He never comes down from his castle, instead sending his mute, pale servants down to the village to request things in writing, and allowing men in the village to deliver goods to his castle beyond the woods. He doesn’t tax his people, and his only decree that interferes in their lives in any way is that they invite everyone in the village whenever there’s a Returning celebration in which a woman seventeen years old or older proclaims her love for her man and he can at last remove his mask. Not everyone has to attend, but everyone must at least be invited. No one’s defied this order to see what would happen if the invitations weren’t all made, though.

Some people call him the “heartless monster” and there are rumors that he’s lived a long time because he has yet to find his goddess, and no man will die before he finds his goddess. He wears clothing made of black leather at all times, and even wears black gloves to cover his hands. Instead of wearing a wooden animal mask like the rest of the men in the village, he prefers to cover his entire head with a black veil, which he pins together at his shoulders and covers with a pointed black minstrel-style hat.

Quote: “Men have no choice but to love, for that is their curse. Women are free to love, for what good it does.”

Thanks for the awesome post! This novel sounds quite intriguing. It's on my TBR list, and I can't wait to read it.

Nobody's Goddess
The Never Veil #1

Amy McNulty

YA Fantasy
April 21, 2015

In a village of masked men, magic compels each man to love only one woman and to follow the commands of his “goddess” without question. A woman may reject the only man who will love her if she pleases, but she will be alone forever. And a man must stay masked until his goddess returns his love—and if she can’t or won’t, he remains masked forever.

Seventeen-year-old Noll isn't in the mood to celebrate. Her childhood friends have paired off and her closest companion, Jurij, found his goddess in Noll’s own sister. Desperate to find a way to break this ancient spell, Noll instead discovers why no man has ever chosen her.

Thus begins a dangerous game between the choice of woman versus the magic of man. And the stakes are no less than freedom and happiness, life and death—and neither is willing to lose.

About the Author

Amy McNulty is a freelance writer and editor from Wisconsin with an honors degree in English. She was first published in a national scholarly journal (The Concord Review) while in high school and currently spends her days alternatively writing on business and marketing topics and primarily crafting stories with dastardly villains and antiheroes set in fantastical medieval settings.

Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Cover Reveal! Eternal Sacrifice by Stacey O'Neale - Giveaway

If you're new to this YA urban fantasy series, this is the BEST TIME to check it out!!!

From author Stacey O'Neale:
THE SHADOW PRINCE & MORTAL ENCHANTMENT are currently available for FREE on Amazon from April 24th through April 28th. I promise, this the ONE AND ONLY TIME I will do this, so pick up your copies NOW!!!

And now, here is the cover of the last book in the series, ETERNAL SACRIFICE!!!
Drum roll, please...

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

True Love Novellas by Renee Allen McCoy - Excerpts & Giveaway

Presented by: Sparkle Book Tours
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Single, Saved, & Searching  - The True Love Novellas # 2

by  Renée Allen McCoy

Audience: General Adult - Genre: Christian Romance - Formats: E-book and Paperback - Publisher: FaytheWorks Publishing - Pages: 178 pages - ISBN: ISBN 13: 978-0983604655

ASIN: B00P6LD6UY - Date Published: December 23, 2014

He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord. ~ Proverbs 18:22

"She’s getting married too?" asks the beautiful, intelligent, and single Elisha Maxwell who just received a wedding invitation from her last single best friend and her younger sister in the same week. As she stacks both invites on her kitchen countertop, she wonders when it will be her turn. 

Challenged by a string of disappointing relationships, Elisha’s hope of finding Mr. Right leaves her feeling desperate and confused. Does such a man exist for her? In the wake of the most terrifying experience of her life, she is more determined now than ever to find him. 

When she embarks upon a quest to change her single status to married, she finds something much more important along the way. Will she embrace the man of her dreams who seems the least likely of them all or go with someone who appeared to be her perfect match? 

Single, Saved, & Searching is the second book in The True Love Novellas series.

book links
buy now amazon
buy from barnes and noble
book trailer
Strong, black, educated, and responsible—those are the characteristics Elisha would love to have in man, to name a few. Blinded to the world’s standard of beauty, he’d be resourceful enough to create his own. Stand as a model of independence, an example of strength, an advocate of loyalty, and a pillar of integrity.

As she stared at her boyfriend through squinted eyes, Elisha wondered if she was asking for too much. Her friend Gina had told her yes while her other friend, Tonia, had emphatically declared no. Caught up somewhere in the middle Elisha wondered, what does my man say? After a dismissive grunt, she knew that he’d say he possessed all of those qualities and then some. But in her eyes, that was far from the truth.

Chauncey McDaniel was strong in the sense that he bench pressed more than her and one of her girlfriend’s weight, but when it came to knowing God’s Word and standing up for Biblical principles, he fell short. He certainly was black, as dark as they came, but not as educated as she would like and certainly not responsible enough to introduce him to her parents. Chauncey’s family was rich and he pretty much had everything handed to him, but the wealth still didn’t comfort Elisha enough to completely abandon her values.

“Why are you so quiet?” Elisha asked, noticing that Chauncey hadn’t spoken three words to her since they got inside of one of his prized possessions, a red convertible Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet. “Did you have too much to drink?”

“If I had too much to drink, would you be on the passenger side? Don’t say stupid things that don’t make sense.” He callously shook his head.

“I don’t even know why I’m with you. All of sudden you’re a drunk. You never drank when we first started dating.” Elisha sucked her teeth. “Leave it up to you to ruin a perfectly good evening.” She cut her eyes away from him and with folded arms sunk down into the soft leather-trimmed heated seating.

Chauncey grunted under his breath and then tightened his lips again. Soon he took the last busy street before the secluded, residential road Elisha lived on. After he parked in front of her garage, the neighbors who lived next door were just pulling out of their driveway. Chauncey casually waved as did Elisha before the neighbors disappeared out of sight. Chauncey then carefully looked at the darkened house across the street that shared the wooded dead end as Elisha’s home.

“Are they out of town again?” he questioned, as they stood at the front of his car.
Elisha glanced back and then remembered, “Oh yeah, I told them that I’d turn the lights on for them tonight.” She reached inside of her handbag and began fidgeting with the keys on her ring, and then started down her driveway.

Chauncey grabbed her by the arm and yanked her back. “That can wait.” The force in his voice was tighter than the grip on her arm. “I told you that we’d talk at home.”
With slightly parted lips, Elisha’s gaze on him drifted down to the hand he held her with.
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The Christmas Beau - The True Love Novellas # 1
by Renée Allen McCoy
Pages: 152 pages - Publisher: FaytheWorks Publishing, LLC - ASIN: B00AGAZNHE - Publication Date: December 1, 2012
Love suffers long and is kind… 1 Corinthians 13:4

“Why did I even come here for my vacation?” Charity Maxwell questions, initially regretting her trip home to Lewiston Springs for her Christmas vacation … that is until she finds out that an old flame is visiting too. With familiar emotions invading her heart, Charity desperately tries to keep her composure around a man with whom she shares a painful past. 

Determined to make right his wrong, Milton Grayson passionately pursues Charity regretful that he lost her once and determined to not let it happen again. As a reminiscent whirlwind romance ensues between them, the pressure builds on a meddling family member who secretly plotted to separate the pair in the past. 

Is their love true enough to withstand the evils that broke them apart the first time? Or will Charity’s anticipation of having a Christmas boyfriend suddenly be dashed to pieces?
The Christmas Beau is the first book in The True Love Novellas series that shares the love of God in and out of season.

book links
buy now amazon
buy from barnes and noble
“Girl, don’t be no fool,” one of Charity’s longtime friends, Yolanda, said before she crammed an appetizer into her mouth.

Charity sighed as she picked at the cucumbers and tomatoes in her garden salad. She had since called Elisha and apologized for not making it to her book fair. Instead, she decided to go out to lunch with some friends she hadn’t seen in a while. Since talking with Milton this morning, she still had reservations about meeting him later in the evening.

“Don’t listen to her, girl,” another one of her high school friends, Renita, chimed in. “We were just kids back then. That was so long ago. But look at him today. He’s a college graduate, an officer in the military—”

Decorated officer,” Charity corrected with a smile.

Yolanda rolled her eyes and shook her head as she reached for another boneless buffalo wing.

“Yes exactly, a decorated officer. And he’s come back home to get the woman he loves.” Renita smiled.

Yolanda mimicked a gagging motion with her finger in front of her mouth. “You two are living in la-la land. No man is going to come back for his supposed sweetheart,” she said with curled lips while her two friends looked on, “to start anything serious while he’s traveling the world over.” She sucked her teeth. “Get real.”

“What are you trying to say, Yolanda, that I’m not good enough?”

“Charity,” Yolanda started in a daunting tone, “I have dated plenty of guys in the military and some who work for Fortune 500 companies. And all they want to do is to play little childish games. Did it ever occur to you that maybe when we were kids back then,” she grimaced at Renita, “that all he wanted was a good time? Hence what I said, games.”

“You can’t believe that all guys are like that,” Renita challenged her.

“Hmmm, let’s see ….” Yolanda stared at the friend they referred to as the black Barbie doll with a soulful voice and said, “What happened to Jason?”

Renita abruptly closed her parted lips.

“Yeah, I thought so.” Yolanda smirked and then turned back to Charity. “All I’m saying is to watch yourself. You’ve saved yourself this long, don’t mess up now.”
about the author
clip_image015Renée Allen McCoy is a loving wife and mother, an author, but most importantly a devoted Christian. Having traveled to many parts of the world, today she, her husband, and their two children make Mississippi home.

Between caring for her family, Renée carves out time in her busy and sometimes unpredictable schedule to maintain a newsletter, Straight Up, a devotional blog, In His Name, and continue her passion for writing books.

To date, she has seven titles to her credit: The Fiery Furnace series (The Kiss of Judas, Confessions, and The Eleventh Hour), Soul Ties: Breaking Up with a Past That’s Killing Your Future (non-fiction), The Christmas Beau (The True Love Novellas, Book 1), In the Presence of My Enemies, and Single, Saved, & Searching (The True Love Novellas, Book 2). Renée has also written for the world renowned pocket devotional, The Upper Room, both in digital and print. She writes with zeal, knowing that faith works together in Christ.

With a heart to tell stories that will not only entertain, Renée hopes to enlighten readers to capture the message and power of God's saving grace. For more information about this charismatic author, please visit her at
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review: The Fine Art of Deception by Alyssa Richards

The Fine Art of Deception
Undoing Time

Alyssa Richards

Paranormal Romance Mystery
January 18, 2015

Amazon | Goodreads

Art appraiser Adeline Montgomery just wants a normal life. One where she can ignore the vicious ghosts who follow her. One where she’s free from her “gift” of touching an object and seeing the owner’s deepest secrets. And one where she can fall in love without having all of the above get in the way.

But when tall, dark, and dangerous gallery owner Blake Greenwood enters her life, normal is the last thing she’s feeling. The man has more secrets than the priceless art he sells, giving Addison’s quest for normal no chance. That, and he may just hold the key to uncovering the truth behind her father’s unexplained disappearance. 

Despite her paranormal gifts warning her to stay away, she feels an inexplicable, captivating fascination for him, something that goes deeper than attraction. There’s something between them that’s older than time, and if she can learn to give him her trust, it may just save her life.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review

The Fine Art of Deception is a paranormal story with an intriguing mystery and a very hot romance. Main character Addie has several paranormal gifts, the most useful being her ability to get a psychic read from objects. In the beginning, the poor woman was dogged by spirits relentlessly and suffered from reliving childhood trauma. Things seemed to improve for her as the story progressed... at least the spirit visitations ebbed in favor of the single spirit important to the central plot.

I enjoyed the theme of past-lives interwoven throughout the plot. I've always found reincarnation intriguing. Addie was likable from the beginning, where the reader learns of her heartache and the betrayal she endured. I felt a connection to her immediately. I liked Blake as well and enjoyed the intense romance between him and Addie. It's been a while since I read a romance this steamy.

They mystery was engaging and lots of suspense kept the pages turning. While I enjoyed the quick pacing of the second half, the first was a tad slower than I like. There was lots of backstory and info about the paranormal abilities to explain, which at times was tedious. Overall, I really enjoyed this novel quite a bit. Strong characters, a good mystery, and hot romance mixed with the supernatural make for a fun read. A caveat: In my opinion, this book is suited to ages 18+ due to the graphic sexual content.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

New Release: Healing Rain by Katy Newton Naas - Excerpt & Trailer

Happy Release Day!!

Healing Rain

Katy Newton Naas

YA Contemporary Romance
Clean Reads
April 21, 2015

Some people just naturally seem to have it all. Until five months ago, sixteen-year-old Rain Sawyer was one of those people. She had the perfect life, with a loving, wealthy family and a strong Christian faith, complete with popularity, sports, clubs, and good grades.
When one tragic incident shatters everything Rain thought she knew, she finds herself five hours away, starting over in a small town very different from her glamorous big-city life.

Armed with a different outlook on life – one that no longer includes her faith – she struggles to create a new identity for herself.  Determined to keep her dark past as secret, she navigates through a new school year, a new town, and new relationships while trying to figure out who she wants to be.


            The smell of blood – sickeningly thick, fresh blood – filled my nostrils before I ever opened the door. I didn’t recognize that smell at first; I had never encountered that much blood in one place before. But I knew that the smell was off, somehow. The room
usually smelled just like my dad – a mixture of pine trees and cologne, a combination of aromas that I had never quite understood but they belonged to him. I knocked, but no one answered. Cautiously, I pushed open the door. “Dad?” I whispered as I entered.
            That’s when I saw his legs. His signature khaki pants and brown loafers stuck out from behind his desk. He was on the ground and didn’t move when I said his name, didn’t even twitch as I opened the door and walked inside. “Dad!” I called again,
louder this time.
            Oh no, he’s had a heart attack, I thought. I rushed over to the desk to see his face. But what I saw stopped me in my tracks like a deer in headlights.
            I was frozen. My brain screamed at my body to move, to get away from the sight, but my feet were glued to the floor. My arms and legs suddenly felt like sandbags, and I collapsed.
            This is not my dad. There was no face, no way to identify him for sure. But it was him. I knew the shape of his body, the clothes he wore. But the pool of blood under his neck took my breath away.
            Who did this? Who did this to my father? I heard violent, blood-curdling screams, which I quickly realized were coming from me. I pleaded for help, still unable to get up off the ground, but it was useless. No one else was home.
            Or was someone else in the house? My heart stopped beating as I considered this. Someone had broken in, had murdered my father in cold blood. Maybe I was next. Maybe my whole family was next. At that point, I almost wished for it. Death would be a
welcome release from the idea of losing my dad, the man I admired most in the world. My funny, loving, attentive, adoring father. My best friend. And now he was gone.
            And that’s when I saw it. The gun. The murder weapon that was used to kill my father was still lying on the scene. I stared at it, too shocked to cry or get scared or have any of the other normal reactions I should have had.
            My mind was racing but remained blank. I had to get up, had to call for help. Move, I commanded my feet. Get up and go call 911. Tell them there’s been a murder, get the police to catch whoever did this and make them pay.
            And that’s when my brain began to truly process the scene. The gun – the murder weapon – was in my dad’s own hand. Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. And then the tears came, slowly at first before gushing out of my eyes until I couldn’t see straight anymore. I curled my legs up to my chest and hugged them, putting my head down on my knees as my shoulders shook uncontrollably. Oh, no,
no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
            I forced myself to look back at my dad one last time, just to make sure my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me. He couldn’t have done this. He couldn’t have.
I looked up toward the sky and asked one simple question: Why?

About the Author

Katy Newton Naas currently teaches middle school reading and high school English in southern Illinois, as well as children's church. She graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with a bachelor's degree in English Education and a master's degree in Reading and Language Studies. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, including her husband, her young son, Aven, and her four-legged sons, Shakespeare and Poe.

From a young age, Katy was always an avid reader and writer with a big imagination. Though she continues to grow older, her true literature love is and has always been young adult fiction. She loves creating both realistic and futuristic stories about teenagers, and feels so fortunate to get to work with them every day as a teacher.

Connect with Katy Newton Naas:
Twitter: @KatyNewtonNaas

Monday, April 20, 2015

Do You Think this Fish is Fresh? by Shereen Vedam, Author of A Devilish Slumber

I'm so pleased to welcome Shereen Vedam, author of A Devilish Slumber, to the blog today. Ms. Vedam pens fairy tale inspired Regency paranormal romances. This latest was inspired by Sleeping Beauty and is the first book in a three-book series.

Do You Think this Fish is Fresh?

Hello! First of all, thank you very much to Kimber for inviting me into her on-line home. My name is Shereen Vedam and I write fairytale-inspired Regency fantasy romances. Today, I’d like to discuss Lady Roselyn Ravenstock, the heroine of A Devilish Slumber, the first of a 3-book series. This one was inspired by Sleeping Beauty.

I’ve done 4 historical novels inspired by fairytales so far, and I have to say, Sleeping Beauty was a challenge. In today’s world, even if we are reading a historical, we want the heroine to be feisty, kick-butt, take charge, almost an alpha-female. And no matter how I might spin this story, the inclusion of the word “Sleeping” does not envision an assertive confident female heroine.

So, as the synopsis suggests, the story actually begins the moment Beauty awakens. And what stirs her awake is not the kiss of her true love (that comes later), but the prod of a stranger at the marketplace – a woman about her mother’s age – who asks Rose, “Do you think this fish is fresh?” while holding up an apple.

It’s true that a deliciously sensuous kiss can shake a woman up royally, but it’s a quirk of humor that stirs this sleeping beauty out of her private world of anguish and back into society’s dangerous embrace. However, when that stranger, who cared enough to want to help Rose, is brutally murdered, she refuses to back off, return to her safe quiet world, and hibernate. Oh no! This time, Rose’s anger erupts at the injustices of her life, and she decides that someone will pay for disturbing her peace.

So begins A Devilish Slumber, a fairytale-inspired tale of magic, in a historical setting and, yes, even a hint of horror, as a young lady uses an ancient family talent to help her bring a murderer hiding in the perilous dockside of 1813 London, England to justice.

How do you deal when sorrow drapes too heavily over your shoulders? What are your tricks and tips to bring yourself back into the flow of life?

I love Sleeping Beauty and can't wait to read this novel. It sounds like it has something for everyone!

How do I deal with sorrow? I sing. Singing fills me with joy and endorphins. So, yes, I may look a tad silly dancing around the house belting Disney tunes. But I feel worlds better when I'm through :)

A Devilish Slumber
The Rue Alliance, Book One

Shereen Vedam

Regency Paranormal Romance
ImaJinn Books/Belle Books
February 19, 2015

Beauty awoke, and then the trouble began . . .

Since dealing with the death of her sister and her abandonment by Sir Phillip Jones, the man who professed to love her, Lady Roselyn Ravenstock has lived as if sleepwalking. Mired in grief, she sequestered herself in her home, avoiding all callers. Then she meets Mrs. Helen Beaumont, and Rose starts to come to life . . . until Helen is murdered. But this time, Rose isn't going back to sleep. Vowing to avenge her friend, Rose dons a costume and goes out into the night looking for a killer.

Sir Phillip, the Regent's favored spy, returns from war determined to win back the woman he was forced to leave three years ago. But when he witnesses Rose covered in blood, racing from a brutal scene while gripping the murder weapon, he goes on a desperate mission to unravel what he hopes is a case of mistaken identity.

The investigation leads Rose into a world of enchantment, where people can re-shape their features, fires are begun with a snap of fingers and objects move of their own accord. But the real magic is the blazing attraction that is re-awakened between her and Phillip.

Will Rose ever get her happily-ever-after? Possibly. But first, she'll have to convince Phillip of her innocence-before the killer strikes again. . . .


Midnight, Wednesday, April 8, 1813, London, England
A SCREAM RIPPLED across the misty, dockside air.
Sir Phillip Jones's pulse lurched at that mournful cry. Gripping his walking stick, he raced down the hilly road of the deserted warehouse district in Wapping. A second muffled scream rang out and was then abruptly cut off. No longer concerned about keeping his movements covert, he ran toward those terrified shrieks. Rounding a corner, he tore past a man staring toward where the screams had come from.
"Imbecile," the large man grumbled from behind him.
Phillip was ten feet away before it registered that the man had sworn in French. By then, the woman who ran out of a warehouse gripping a bloody dagger had captured his focus. For a split second, her face was clearly highlighted by a stray shaft of moonlight piercing the mist. He stumbled to a halt, his chest heaving for air as stunned recognition sank in.
The lady started and swung toward him. Had he spoken aloud? Pulling her hood up, she then sprinted off into the night.
Phillip instantly gave chase, but when he reached the open warehouse door through which she had fled, he pulled back. If that had been his Rose, he knew where she lived.
Rapidly retreating footsteps behind him suggested the irate Frenchman, probably a sailor, was also prudently withdrawing from this possible crime scene.
Inside the warehouse, despite the wide open door, it was pitch black, but that coppery scent of fresh spilled blood was unmistakable in the chilly sea air. Instead of blindly stepping in, Phillip pulled out his candle and circular silver tinderbox from his pocket. He had not survived the dangers of being an intelligence officer for the past five years by acting foolishly during a crisis.
He methodically placed the candle's wick end into the hole on the lid and struck the flint until the candle lit. Then, with flickering candle attached to the tinderbox's socket, he cautiously proceeded inside, his walking stick, with a sword hidden inside, raised to act as a club. If someone lurked within this warehouse, he would need blunt force, not blade finesse.
The warehouse was empty except for the victim who was slumped on the grimy floor, blood pooling at her side. Her throat had been slit. Her eyes were wide open as if in shock. He lowered his weapon, placed his candleholder on the ground, and knelt to check for signs of life. Her arm was limp and there was no pulse at the wrist, and not even a hint of a breath. Her skin was still warm, but her spirit had been effectively extinguished.
With a defeated sigh, he searched her reticule and found calling cards which confirmed her identity. This was indeed Mrs. Beaumont, the woman he had come to meet tonight. Not many from this riverside section of London could afford the luxury of calling cards. Her gown was serviceable, but not of high fashion. He strode restlessly around the empty warehouse, kicking aside empty crates and litter, poking at the walls in search of a hidden door, anything to prove that Rose was unlikely to be the culprit of this crime.
Anger built as he returned, empty handed, to the body. With a grunt of frustration, he flung his weighty walking stick across the room. It struck the wooden wall with a satisfying bang and then clattered as it rolled across the hollow chamber.
Shoulders set with resolve, he proceeded with his last distasteful but necessary search. He examined the underside of Mrs. Beaumont's sleeves and delved into her bodice. Nothing. He then lifted her gown in case she had strapped something to her limbs. Disappointed there too, he removed her boots and stripped off her stockings. Finding nary a clue, he carefully redressed her, making sure she would be respectably covered before the river police arrived. All the while, words rang through his mind. That cannot have been Rose running away.
As he re-positioned her arms at her side, he noticed one of the lady's clenched hands. Pulse speeding in anticipation, he raised her fist for closer study. Probing with his forefinger revealed something held inside her fist. He pried her fingers apart until they revealed a scrunched-up handkerchief. Drawing his candle holder closer, he carefully spread apart the material on the floor. There, on the top right, was a small, black, neatly embroidered crest of a raven.
That further evidence of Rose's guilt left him in choking silence as he battled the urge to compare it to the handkerchief now burning a hole in his breast pocket. Finally, knowing he had no choice, he pulled out the other and gently unfolded it beside the crumpled one. The two crests were a match. His handkerchief had been a gift from Lady Roselyn Ravenstock.

About the Author

Once upon a time, Shereen Vedam read fantasy and romance novels to entertain herself. Now she writes heartwarming tales braided with threads of magic and love and mystery elements woven in for good measure. She’s a fan of resourceful women, intriguing men, and happily-ever-after endings. If her stories whisk you away to a different realm for a few hours, then Shereen will have achieved one of her life goals.

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