Thursday, April 29, 2021

Lady Wynwood's Spies, volume 1: Archer EXCERPT - Chapter 1f

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.

***


Chapter 1f



***


Miss Layton was quite excited about the archery party she and her younger sister had organized, and Phoebe was content to sit in their carriage and listen as Miss Layton listed who else would be attending her outing.

“I am very sorry Miss Gardinier has not yet arrived in London,” Miss Layton said, “since she is nearly as skilled as you are in archery. When did you say her family would be coming?”

“Next week,” Phoebe said through stiff lips.

“Are you unwell, Miss Sauber?” asked Miss Lynn Layton. “You may switch with me if you need the forward-facing seat.”

“Then you would be unwell,” her elder sister said, “and I have no wish to spend the rest of the journey aiming you toward the open window.”

“I would not do something so unladylike as to need to … unburden myself out the window.” Miss Lynn sniffed.

“But you do look slightly unwell, Miss Sauber.” Miss Layton leaned forward. “Why don’t you switch seats with me instead?”

This was accomplished with much bustling and apologies, made more difficult because Phoebe’s limbs were stiff and tense, and yet at the same time beginning to shake. She had reacted aggressively to Mrs. Lambert’s hostility, but now, half an hour after the conversation, an ice-cold rage was building up in her chest, and her stomach clenched and heaved.

This wasn’t happening to her. This wasn’t. She wasn’t being unceremoniously tossed from her home and the roses she lovingly tended. She wasn’t being banished to Bath like an unwanted poor relation.

Except that this was indeed happening to her.

And it made her quite desperately wish to shoot someone.

“There.” Miss Layton had a satisfied smile when they had all rearranged their seats. “I hope you will feel better soon, Miss Sauber.”

Phoebe belatedly realized that she must act normally or they would realize something was terribly wrong. “Who else will be attending?” she asked.

“Miss Tolberton, of course, and her cousin Mr. Tolberton.” Miss Layton ticked the names off on her gloved fingers. “Mr. Rawley …”

Miss Lynn groaned. “I declare, I should have brought a suit of armor. He hits the target only once out of every three shots. And he will not take suggestions for improving his form.”

“That’s because he’s only interested in Miss Farrimond, not in archery,” Miss Layton said. “Oh! And Mr. Vernon will be there, and he most particularly wished to practice with you, Miss Sauber.” Miss Layton gave Phoebe an arch look.

“Why, Miss Sauber,” said Miss Lynn, “you gave no hint that Mr. Vernon is a close friend of yours.” The young lady looked as if she’d just snagged a fish, although Phoebe doubted she had ever fished in a river in her entire life—however, fishing for gossip was another matter.

“Mr. Vernon has no wish to court me,” Phoebe said. “Instead, he probably wishes to humiliate me in an archery competition since I trounced him the last time.”

Miss Layton blanched slightly at Phoebe’s bald speaking, but Miss Lynn’s eyes gleamed even brighter.

“No, surely not,” Miss Lynn started to protest, but Phoebe interrupted her.

“But this time, I will be sure to grind his ego into the ground.” She shook her fist for emphasis.

The sudden silence in the coach made Phoebe realize the two ladies were staring at her as if she’d suddenly flung her clothes off. She cleared her throat and settled back into her seat.

“Er … quite,” Miss Layton said in a feeble voice.

“Did Mr. Weller indicate that he would definitely attend?” Miss Lynn asked, and conversation resumed, if a bit stilted.

Miss Layton’s servants had gone to the Heath ahead of them and set up the food for the picnic, if tables and chairs and crystal flower vases could be considered a picnic. They were the first to arrive, since the Laytons were the hosts, but they had only alighted from the coaches and were gathering their bows and arrows when two more coaches of guests joined them.

Mr. Vernon exited from the second coach, and he quickly scanned the company. His gaze halted on Phoebe, and his eyes narrowed.

Something inside of Phoebe growled like a dog, and if she’d had hackles, they’d have been standing on end. A small voice in her head remarked that she was probably more antagonistic than normal because of what had just happened to her, and perhaps she shouldn’t be engaging in competitions involving sharp and fast-moving projectiles, but she was able to squelch the notion immediately. She had heard Mr. Vernon remark that no woman could best him in archery—just before she beat him at the last competition they both participated in. His glare in her direction now indicated he had not forgotten his humiliation and wanted a rematch.

***


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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