A young lady of good family has several choices to make once she’s graduated from the Wollaston Academy for Young Ladies and on the brink of her first Season upon the marriage mart. If she is lucky enough to receive an invitation to be presented to Queen Victoria, those choices are largely related to dresses, balls, and young men of marriageable status.

If you are Evelina, the heroine of my steampunk novel A Study in Silks, those decisions are slightly more limited. She’s in London at the invitation of her wealthy best friend, just close enough to the fashionable world to yearn for the glittering fun of a debutante’s ball. After all, just because you’re the niece of Sherlock Holmes and in possession of forbidden magic—well, that doesn’t stop a girl from reading the fashion pages, or longing for a dance with the most handsome man in the room.

If only Evelina’s life were so simple! Amidst the dragons, dead bodies, and magically-infested automatons, she has not one but two admirers, both of them far from ideal. Tobias is the clever, good-looking brother of her best friend. Unfortunately, he’s the heir to a title and unlikely to marry Evelina, even if she could look past his hell raising habits. But Tobias is more than he seems, secretly inventing fantastical steampunk devices and doing his best to duck the political manoeuvrings of his ambitious father. Evelina sees the true heart in Tobias when no one else—not even Tobias himself—believes it’s there. Although he has a talent for making a mess, over the course of the three books, he struggles the hardest to find meaning in his life. In the end he surprises us all.

Her other beau is the Indomitable Niccolo, a trick rider with Ploughman’s Paramount Circus where Evelina spent her childhood. As far as the world is concerned, Nick is nobody. A foundling of unknown parentage—probably a Gypsy—he does not even have a last name. And if this does not make him enough of an outsider, he possesses magical talents that are incompatible with everyone else’s. When he and Evelina are together, their powers flare to life unbidden. In a world where magic users are burned at the stake or imprisoned in Her Majesty’s Laboratories, that’s playing with fire on a whole new level. There are a thousand reasons that Evelina can’t have a future with Nick—she has no place in the circus life anymore, he can’t support her, their magic will betray them—but they still love one another. Nick is loyal to the end and beyond, and he is more than willing to sacrifice everything for Evelina. Nick knows who he is and what he wants and never apologizes.

Two men, one young woman—but Evelina’s choice turns out to be no choice at all.  A murder investigation turns their world upside down, and the consequences change all three lives utterly. What begins as a London Season of dances and parties unravels beyond repair, and the focus swiftly changes from romance to danger.

As the Baskerville trilogy progresses, each character has to face his or her dark side, sometimes of the heart, sometimes more literally. In a world of magic and mystery, love is tested to the limits. The question is always who is brave enough to see it through.


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Open internationally. Contest closes October 4, 2013, midnight, Pacific Time.

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A Study in Silks

September 2013

Evelina Cooper, the niece of the great Sherlock Holmes, is poised to enjoy her first Season in London’s high society, but there’s a murderer to deal with—not to mention missing automatons, a sorcerer, and a talking mouse . . .

In a Victorian era ruled by a Council of ruthless steam barons, mechanical power is the real monarch, and sorcery the demon enemy of the Empire. Nevertheless, the most coveted weapon is magic that can run machines—something Evelina has secretly mastered. But rather than making her fortune, her special talents could mean death or an eternity as a guest of Her Majesty’s secret laboratories. What’s a polite young lady to do but mind her manners and pray she’s never found out?

But then there’s that murder. As Sherlock Holmes’s niece, Evelina should be able to find the answers, but she has a lot to learn. And the first decision she has to make is whether to trust the handsome, clever rake who makes her breath come faster, or the dashing trick rider who would dare anything for her if she would only just ask . . .

Study Silks small version

Read the first 50 pages here

Read the prequel short story here

Watch the book trailer

Emma Jane Holloway

Ever since childhood, Emma Jane Holloway refused to accept that history was nothing but facts prisoned behind the closed door of time. Why waste a perfectly good playground coloring within the timelines? Accordingly, her novels are filled with whimsical impossibilities and the occasional eye-blinking impertinence—but always in the service of grand adventure.


Struggling between the practical and the artistic—a family tradition, along with ghosts and a belief in the curative powers of shortbread—Emma Jane has a degree in literature and job in finance. She lives in the Pacific Northwest in a house crammed with books, musical instruments, and half-finished sewing projects. In the meantime, she’s published articles, essays, short stories, and enough novels to build a fort for her stuffed hedgehog.

PRIZE UPDATE:  Congrats to Lyn!