On this day in 1785, Frenchman Jean-Pierre Blanchard and American John Jeffries traveled from Dover, England, to Calais, France, in a gas balloon. Jeffries is noted for his early weather observations in Colonial America. I bet he'd advise us to grab a hot read to stay warm in this chill storm!
Enter Christine d'Abo as she kicks off her new steampunk series, The Shadow Guild, with Book 1, GILDED HEARTS, available today from Forever:
Samuel Hawkins, Sergeant in the King's Sentry, has been called in to investigate a murder case. As he awaits the Archivists to arrive—the team who will use a special device to extract the memories of the dead man to help find clues to his murder—he never expects to come face to face with the woman he'd left behind when he'd fled the Archives five years earlier.
Piper Smith has grown from the girl Samuel remembered into a strong woman and full-fledged archivist. Shadowed by her mentor, Master Ryerson, Piper will be performing her first extraction. When she sees Samuel, she must push aside her childhood crush, else risk her standing within the Guild.
As the two begin working together to find the killer, Samuel and Piper explore their intense attraction to each other. But "Jack the Ripper" proves to be harder to catch than the two originally thought. What's worse, they discover he may very well work for the Archives. Now, Samuel and Piper must battle internal and external threats as they try to foil a plot against the Crown and stop Jack the Ripper from taking his next victim.
Forever is giving away a digital copy of GILDED HEARTS to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,
1. Have you traveled in a hot air balloon? Would you like to travel in on? No, thank you, I like my feet on solid ground!
2. This giveaway is open to all readers.
3. Comments are open through Saturday, January 11, 10 pm in Baltimore. I'll post the winner on Sunday, January 12.
Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City
|Hot Air Balloon Safari in Maasai Mara Kenya
Image by Wajahatmr - Creative Commons Attribution
To learn more about Christine and her books, check out her website at christinedabo.com.
Forever is offering an excerpt from GILDED HEARTS:
“I hate them.” Piper flinched, but she didn’t pull back. Swallowing hard, Samuel knew the rage building inside him would only continue to grow, fester like an infection until his soul was blackened. “I hate what they did to me. What they are still doing to you.”
Grabbing her by the arm, he pulled her into a bystreet, away from the storefronts and the growing crowds. Pressing her against the wall, he turned his back to the street and let his rage show.
“Those bastards think they are doing something amazing for society. That they’re storing all this knowledge for future generations to access. But do you know what they do with it? I found out quickly why the regular folk hate the zombies so much.”
“I don’t think that—”
“It’s nothing more than bloody politics. They manipulate parliament into setting policies that would never normally pass. They direct the king to move his forces this way and that. Tell him who to attack and when to back away. They claim this knowledge comes from the memories of the dead. And there is no one to contradict them. They take little children from their families and put them into the guild, making them a cog in the machine of society.”
“That’s dangerously close to treason.” She dug her fingers into his arm. “And as much as I believe every word you say, you can’t prove it.”
As quickly as the rage crested, it fell away. “No one can. So they are allowed to continue, committing who knows what horrors in the name of safeguarding the empire.”
“We can’t change the fundamentals of our society.”
“Maybe not, but that doesn’t mean we have to lie down and accept it either. I have no doubt that the Archives were started with the best of intentions, but they have grown into something else. I have no memory of my family, if I have any siblings. As far as I know I’m alone in the world. They did that to me. To you.”
She stood with her back pressed to the wall, her palms flat against the stone. Chin lifted, she stared right into his eyes. “The Archives and the Guild Masters aren’t perfect. Yes, they took me from my mum so long ago that sometimes I wonder if the dreams I have of her are real or simply my own fantasies. I wonder constantly of the life I would have now if I’d stayed there with her. Grown up under her watchful eye until a time when I was to be married off. They took that life from me, but they gave me something else. A place in society that I could never have obtained on my own.”
“I didn’t mean—”
“Yes you did.” Her chuckle was as sad as anything he could ever remember hearing. “Don’t worry. I’ve known since we were children how you felt. I wouldn’t expect years of living on the outside to change that perspective. Reinforce it, more likely.”
Christ. There shouldn’t be this gap between them. Yes, it had been five years, but they hadn’t changed that much since they’d last been together. If anything, they’d become more of what they’d always been. They’d grown into themselves, but still felt much the same as they had back then. About the Archives, and about one another.
Keeping his gaze locked onto hers, Samuel tried once more to close the distance between them. He took a small step, watching for any sign that Piper didn’t want him. She didn’t move.
“I’m glad you were taken by the Archives, Pip.”
Her eyes widened as she pulled her shoulders back against the wall. The blast of annoyance he felt from her was only visible by the tightening around her mouth. Samuel chanced another step closer.
“If it meant that you were pulled from society, that another man wouldn’t be able to touch you, then I will be forever grateful. Because you see,” he cupped her cheek, “even though we’ve never so much as kissed, you belong to me.”
“Sam…” Her lips parted and her warm breath heated his skin. So beautiful, so ripe for him to reach out and feast upon.
“Shhh, I need to fix something.”
“Do you trust me?” His voice sounded rough, seductive in a way he hadn’t intended. He was pleased when her gaze didn’t waver and she didn’t pull away.
“Yes.” Piper’s breath caught in her throat as she slowly nodded. “Yes, I do.”
There was no way he could stop now. He didn’t care that they were in public, in front of God and every creature of New London. Samuel had wanted to kiss Piper since she was sixteen and he’d caught her staring at his mouth. In that moment there were no Guild Masters, no Archives to pass judgment.
Only Sam and Pip.
“I’m going to kiss you now.”