Thursday, May 06, 2021

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

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 1g



Miss Layton quickly instructed her servants to set up the archery targets. There were few people on Hampton Heath, enabling them to practice archery without fear of accidentally hitting anyone. Even so, they set up the targets some distance from the tree-line.

While Phoebe impatiently waited for the targets to be assembled, she noticed Miss Tolberton and her cousin, Mr. Tolberton, standing a little apart from the other guests. They were both new to this circle of archery enthusiasts, although Phoebe had been acquainted with Miss Tolberton since her debut four years earlier, and had been introduced to Mr. Tolberton, just down from university, at a ball the week before. She immediately approached them.

Miss Tolberton smiled. “Miss Sauber, how delightful to see you again.”

“How have you enjoyed your first week in town?”

Mr. Tolberton grinned boyishly. “I have been dragging Emilia everywhere with me.”

“We have been shockingly busy,” Miss Tolberton said.

Phoebe listened to Mr. Tolberton’s excited descriptions of the horses at Astley’s Amphitheatre, plays at the theatre, and the numerous museums to which he had dragged the poor Miss Tolberton. Only required to murmur “Oh, really?” and “How nice” every so often, Phoebe was relieved to be free from Miss Lynn’s avid curiosity about Phoebe’s nonexistent suitors. She knew Miss Lynn was not being unkind, but Phoebe had not inspired a single romantic flutter in any man’s breast in her four other Seasons in London, and was unlikely to do so in her fifth Season unless she did something drastic like sew her mouth shut.

Abruptly she remembered that according to her father, her current Season was being cut short. There was a roiling and seething in her stomach.

She didn’t know when she would be sent to Aunt Bethia, but she intended to enjoy her time today to its fullest.

During a lull when Mr. Tolberton paused for breath, Miss Tolberton asked, “What are your favorite London activities, Miss Sauber?”

“I’m afraid I have not seen as much as you have. I usually only attend meetings at a few associations that I belong to.”

“What sorts of associations?”

“For those interested in cultivating roses. I have an extensive greenhouse in the country.” Even as she said it, she realized she should have said she had an extensive greenhouse. Her hands tightened around her quiver strap. All that would soon be gone for Phoebe.

How could her father do this to her? She felt betrayed, abandoned … and disillusioned. She hadn’t wanted to admit to herself that her father thought so little of her, despite how she had worked so hard for his approval. It had all been for nothing. In his eyes, she was nothing.

The thought did not make her depressed. Instead, it stoked a fire inside of her that smoked and crackled, that roared with an inhuman voice of all the rage she was starting to feel.

“Emilia likes gardening—” Mr. Tolberton started to say, when Phoebe was startled by a voice behind her.

“Miss Sauber, how lovely to see you again.”

“Mr. Vernon.” Phoebe suspected her forced smile looked rather gruesome. “Are you acquainted with Miss Tolberton and her cousin, Mr. Tolberton?”

After greeting them, he turned back to Phoebe. “I was hoping, Miss Sauber, that you would be willing to engage in a friendly competition today? I feel I did not shoot my best at our last tournament.”

She was exceedingly prepared to wipe that condescending smile off of his face. “I assure you, Mr. Vernon, the outcome will remain the same.”

“I say, this will be quite the spectacle,” Mr. Tolberton said. “I have heard from Miss Layton that you are an excellent shot, Miss Sauber.”

“You simply wish to wager on the outcome,” Miss Tolberton accused her cousin.

“And why not? It can only add to the fun.” He gave an incorrigible wink. “What do you say, Mr. Vernon? A hundred guineas that Miss Sauber will get the best of you out of three shots.”

Mr. Vernon colored at this insult to his accuracy. Phoebe refused to feel sorry for him—after all, he had quite deliberately brought up the subject of the competition himself. Mr. Vernon managed a tight smile for Mr. Tolberton and a handshake in acceptance.

“Did I hear correctly?” Miss Farrimond came up to them, followed by Miss Layton and her sister. “A competition between Mr. Vernon and Miss Sauber?”

“Simply a friendly game between friends.” However, Mr. Vernon’s smile toward Phoebe showed entirely too much teeth.

“This will make the gathering even more exciting,” Miss Lynn said.

“Miss Sauber is certain to perform admirably.” Miss Farrimond’s voice flowed sweet like honey. “Her wide, strong shoulders make her an excellent markswoman.”

Phoebe’s jaw clenched. She and Miss Farrimond had debuted in the same year, and while Phoebe’s manly height and muscular arms explained her lack of suitors over the previous Seasons, Miss Farrimond had only her unpleasant personality to blame for her lack of marriage offers. After the shocking news she had just received, Phoebe was not in the mood to even attempt to be polite to Miss Farrimond. “Why yes, Miss Farrimond, I practice archery all year long at Sauber Hill, and in the summer I swim at my friend Keriah’s seaside estate, Chateau Gardinier, so I am quite strong by now.”

Miss Farrimond smiled politely but seemed disappointed that Phoebe had replied so boldly, lacking any shame.

***


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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