CurseoftheBrimstoneContract-The-R-1Mystery, magic and machines, and a unique couple in Victorian London. That’s The Curse of the Brimstone Contract.

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Let the revelry begin. Everyone set down to the tea Mrs. Hudson has brought up to our quarters, put on  your latest Victorian fashion including those radical designs made by our heroine, Miss Joan Krieger, and enjoy the wonderful warmth provided by our mage coal furnace.

 

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Excerpt from The Curse of the Brimstone Contract, as we return to a Victorian London changed by magic and steam technology, in which a Jewish seamstress has hired an enigmatic consulting detective to investigate the death of one of her clients and becomes embroiled in far more danger and romance than she ever expected.

As they sneaked out of the office, he locked up behind them silently. He took her arm and led her up the stairs, his glance darting in all directions, perhaps worried their prowler would come back. This time, there was nothing sensual about his grip. It was all business.

His magic hid their sounds on the way back up the stairs. It was not until they were in the safety of her room that Joan drew a proper breath.

Sherringford let go of her elbow. She collapsed in her chair and stretched out her legs. Her feet still tingled from being cramped.

“Well done, Miss Krieger,” he said in a quiet voice. “I’m in your debt.”

“Well done? I did little. You hid us.”

“Do you know how many women would’ve been too frightened to open the safe? Or would have been so afraid at the darkness I summoned that they would’ve screamed?”

“It sounds like you have been spending time with the wrong sort of women,” Joan snapped. For some reason, his compliment had annoyed her. “And your actions were for my benefit, as was the danger. So you can hardly be in my debt.”

He made a humphf noise, as he had in his laboratory. “I heard papers rustling in the intruder’s hands. Were those papers from the safe?” “Yes. When we tried to open the safe, we triggered a magical alarm. Once our quarry realized the safe contents were in danger of discovery, he checked on them. As for your other questions, I have guesses, not facts.”

“Then give me guesses,” she demanded. “It’s not—” She rose out of her chair and grabbed his forearm, much as he had held her earlier. “You may not have full answers yet, Gregor Sherringford, but this is my life, my business and, indeed, my fate at stake. You’ll explain and you’ll explain now.”

“To give you a full accounting here would risk discovery by your enemy.”

“Are you telling me you’re too afraid, sir?” She jutted out her chin. The time to panic had been when those icy claws protecting the safe had grabbed her, or when their enemy entered the office. “Because I am done with fear.”

“I see.”

Darkness seemed to surround him again. She kept tight hold of his arm, guessing that he could not disappear as long as she was touching him. She only hoped he didn’t physically push her away. He was taller and stronger and could free himself, if he wished.

“If you come with me, Joan Krieger, you will close a door behind you. It’s not a deed that can be undone.”