Thursday, February 25, 2021

Lady Wynwood's Spies, volume 1: Archer EXCERPT - Prologue 1a

I’m posting an excerpt of Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 1: Archer, the first part of my Lady Wynwood’s Spies series!

Part one in a Christian Regency Romantic Adventure epic serial novel with a supernatural twist
Lady Wynwood’s Spies series, volume 1

She met him again by shooting him.

After four seasons and unmarried because she is taller than most of her dance partners, Miss Phoebe Sauber receives the shocking news that she is being callously banished from her father’s estate because he is remarrying. Feeling betrayed by her father and by God, and wanting to escape her family’s presence, she attends an archery tournament with her friends.

But her perfect aim fails her, and her arrow hits a piece of paper held by Mr. Michael Coulton-Jones, whom she hasn’t seen much in society in several years. But strangely, her arrow tears a section of the paper with a partial symbol that looks eerily familiar to her.

He met her again while searching for a killer.

Michael had quit his work as a spy for the Foreign Office when his brother was poisoned. His search for the murderer leads him to Apothecary Jack, a criminal underworld leader with a penchant for poisons, who is gathering a powerful army through an alchemical potion that can give men supernatural strength.

But his path unexpectedly crosses again with Miss Sauber, who saves him from a trap laid by Jack. She and her Aunt Laura, Lady Wynwood, have found a vital connection to Apothecary Jack and the mysterious group he works for.

Now Michael, who had vowed to never again allow civilians to come to harm, must work with a nobleman keeping dangerous secrets, a human lie detector, a chemist, a fellow former spy, and the one woman he’s never allowed himself to get close to.

And it is only this ragtag group that stands against a traitorous organization that could enable Napoleon to conquer the world.

PLEASE NOTE: This is the first book in the Lady Wynwood’s Spies series, an epic serial novel. Each volume has a completed story arc, but this is NOT a stand-alone novel and ends on a cliffhanger.

All the posted parts are listed here.

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Prologue 1a



London, England, March 20th, 1811

Laura Glencowe, Lady Wynwood, had a very special talent. It was a talent she kept secret from others, although her butler and her lady’s maid probably suspected she had this ability by now after years in her service and all the things she had experienced with them.

She rarely used this talent because it required so much effort to set up, and so much intense concentration on her part. But now was a time to use it, because her anger was hotter than the glowing poker in the fireplace of the drawing room at her snug townhouse.

The problem was that her anger made her talent more unreliable, and she had to calm herself before he arrived. She sat on her sofa and sipped the strong, hot tea the maid had delivered to her. She noticed that the cook had included some of the seed cakes that were Sol’s favorite treat, but Laura covered the plate with a cloth napkin. Then she gave a short bark of laughter at herself. As if not offering him seed cakes was adequate punishment for what he had done.

But her efforts to compose herself didn’t seem to have been enough, because at the sound of the door knocker, she bolted from the sofa. In seconds, she descended the stairs and erupted into the entrance foyer, advancing upon the front door like a stormy ocean wave. She waved aside her butler in order to open the front door herself.

After more than two decades as her butler, Graham was too used to her unconventional mindset to attempt to adhere to propriety. With rolled eyes, he stood aside but remained in the entrance foyer, as if to remind his mistress that she was scandalously usurping his job.

Laura flung open the door. She had intended to appear bland and genial to the man standing there, but at the sight of him, she stabbed him with a freezing gaze that should have turned him into an icicle on the spot.

Mr. Solomon Drydale’s chocolate-brown eyes blinked back at her. He did stiffen in surprise and shiver in his greatcoat, but that may have been the unusually sharp spring wind that sliced through the streets of London today. “Laura.” He took a small step back to the edge of the front step. “Not hiding a pistol in your skirts, are you?”

She tilted her head and her eyebrow twitched, but her glare didn’t waver.

“Well,” he said with false heartiness. “Nice to see you back in London. I’ll be on my way …”

Calm. She must remain calm or this would be all for naught. “Mr. Drydale, do come inside.”

He remained where he stood. “Whatever I did, I apologize profusely.”

She sighed and rolled her eyes. “Do come inside, Sol, I promise not to eat you.”

He obviously didn’t believe her because he eyed her warily as he entered, and he had the intelligence to step back and give her a wide berth as he handed his greatcoat, gloves, and hat to the butler. Graham bowed and removed himself quickly to the depths of the house. He certainly wasn’t stupid enough to stay and be caught in the crossfire.

Laura led the way upstairs to the drawing room and then pointed to a chair sitting alone where she had set it some feet away from the sofa. The chair looked odd because it was clear of any other furniture so that she would have an unimpeded view of his entire body, not simply his face and hands.

Sol gingerly seated himself. When Laura took the sofa directly across from him—the farthest seat from him in the room—he seemed relieved.

She took a deep breath in order to settle her mind and focus her concentration. If she offered him a cup of tea, would it hinder or help her? This was usually easier when her victim—er, subject was relaxed, and she could not be too rude, because Sol was stubborn enough that he’d simply shrug and go home to the warmth of his own fireplace and his cook’s own seed cakes rather than being so barbarously ill-used at Laura’s home.

“Tea?” she offered.

He eyed it. “Is it poisoned?”

“Would you believe me if I told you no?”

“No,” he answered baldly.

“No tea, then.” She took a slightly perverse satisfaction in sipping her tea while studying him.

***


NOTE: Laura and Sol mention events that happened at Christmas and about a month before the events of this story. The Christmas events are detailed in The Spinster’s Christmas, a stand-alone Christian Regency Romantic Suspense novel, but you do not have to read that book to enjoy Lady Wynwood’s Spies.

However, you can read about the events at the birthday celebration in my novella, The Gentleman Thief, which you can receive for FREE in exchange for signing up for my email newsletter. After a few welcome emails, I send out newsletters about once a month with a sale on one of my books, a freebie, or news about when my latest release is available.

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Buy Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 1: Archer:
Kindle
Paperback

NOTE: Unfortunately, the book will only be in Amazon for now. However, if you buy a copy on Amazon and would like to read it on your non-Kindle reader, forward the receipt of your purchase to me at camys.loft@gmail.com and I’ll have BookFunnel send you an .epub copy of the file so you can side load it onto your ebook reader. (If you have any trouble downloading your copy, please click the help link at the top of the download page. The friendly folks at BookFunnel will help you get your book.) You might also be able to download a DRM-free copy from Amazon through “Your Content and Devices” page on the Amazon website.

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