Friday, January 31, 2014

!Cover Reveal! The Retelling by Candice Terry






Title: The Retelling: A Light Him Up Novel
Author: Candice Terry
Genre: Adult Drama Romance
Release Date: Spring 2014
Cover Created by: No Sweat Graphics by Rachel Olson
Reveal Host: Lady Amber's Tours


Book Description:
Hell hath no fury like a southern woman scorned....

Krischa had her future all planned out- graduate high school, attend a great college and live a happily ever after life with her high school sweet heart, Josh. Though she never expected her plans to come crashing down after being betrayed by the one person she loved the most.
Heartbroken, she finds comfort in the tall, dark haired, blue eyed stranger that walks into the bar one night, filling her with lust.
Leaving her small town, family and heart ache Josh behind she realizes she may have made a grave mistake and married the devil himself.


Regret has filled Josh's heart for 10 years after hurting the only person he'd ever loved. With no word on where she is, he aches to see her face again. Though he knows Krischa belongs to another, he can't help the want to get her back. When his phone rings out of the blue one day and he hears her voice he knows he will run through hell to bring her home.

Love and revenge at it's finest.






Candice lives in Laurel, Mississippi with her husband and energetic toddler.When she's not chasing her son around she runs her photography business or is stuck in front of her computer pounding out stories.Her first short story was published March 2013 and she is currently working on two more short stories along with the first book of a three part series to release in 2013.






**Cover Reeal** First Impression by Pauline Creeden



Title: First Impression
Author: Pauline Creeden
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Mystery
Expected Release Date: March 31, 2014
Designed by: http://www.alchemybookcovers.com/
Reveal Host: Lady Amber's Tours

Synopsis:First Impression: A Shadow Maven Paranormal
Chira Kelly thought she didn’t need anyone…until she met Ben.

Because of one ugly rumor, Chira lives as an outcast at her school. Which is fine with her, because she works better alone. Always has, always will. And at least she has her one and only true friend, Tasha. When Tasha insists that they join a group to visit a possibly haunted abandoned old schoolhouse, she's wary, but joins her friend. Because of that decision, their lives are in jeopardy as a malevolent spirit targets the group. Tragedies and accidents pick them off one by one, and Chira finds herself drawn to the one person who can see the truth. But can he protect her?Goodreads linkhttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20618864-first-impression


In simple language, Pauline Creeden creates worlds that are both familiar and strange, often pulling the veil between dimensions. She becomes the main character in each of her stories, and because she has ADD, she will get bored if she pretends to be one person for too long. Pauline is a horse trainer from Virginia, but writing is her therapy. Her books have hit #1 on the Amazon Bestseller List and Armored Hearts won the 2013 Book Junkie’s Choice Award in Historical Fiction. First Impression: A Shadow Maven Paranormal is her first mystery. It’s a dark urban fantasy and will be released March 31, 2014.



Links:

Excerpt:

 (Please note that the Excerpt is from the Unedited ARC and may change a bit before the finished book is released)

Ben pulls open the office door and stands to the side to allow me to go first. The hallway that was empty only a short while ago is now full of kids and their incessant conversations. With a shrug, I eye his class schedule quickly. Except for second and sixth period, we have exactly the same schedule. He’s in all of the advanced classes, too. Only he has gym for second period, and Latin for sixth – opposite of my schedule, except I take French.

Piece of cake.

I glance up at him again, and his eyes meet mine. My breath hitches. Something in his intense gaze makes me feel like he’s measuring me. And there’s something strange about his eyes. They’re brown, but I can tell he has colored contacts. Why would anyone color their eyes brown?
Something about the way he’s looking at me makes my heart flutter. A sniffle escapes me before I can stop it. Ugh. I clear my throat and start in the direction of first period. “Follow me.”
We elbow our way down the freshman hall toward the second floor, but before we start up I point down the way. “Do you know what your locker number is?”

Ben nods and pushes his backpack up on his shoulder further.

I wait for a second and then smile. “What is it?”

“706.” He has a slight accent and his voice is deeper than I expect. I suppress a shiver at the jolt that the musical timbre of his voice sends through my body. I’m resonating like a tuning fork. I really want him to speak again with every fiber of my being. What’s with me?

“Uh…okay.” I swallow, trying to regain composure. And take him to the general area of the locker. “Here it is.”

He looks at it, nods, and returns his gaze to me.

“I know you don’t have any books to put in it, but do you want to try out the combination?”

He lifts one shoulder in a shrug and spins the combo quickly through the three numbers. I purposefully look around so he knows I’m not peeking. He opens the locker wide, nods toward me and then closes it again.

“Great. We have first period over here.”

“You and I have the same first period?”

My body vibrates again, and I blink hard. So glad my back was to him so he couldn’t see the effect his voice has on me. I swallow and face him. “Actually, yeah. Our schedules are very similar. It’s a smallish school so there’s only a few tracks that juniors can be on.”
He nods, and his eyes are half lidded as if he’s bored already.

I lead him toward our class room. “We don’t really have assigned seats, so you can pretty much sit anywhere you want. I’ll show you to the gym at the end of class. I have French next, but it’s not too far from there.” 

I lead him to the front of the class, and my friend, Tasha Brown gives me a wan smile and raises her eyebrows, looking back and forth between me and Ben. She mouths, Who’s that?
I roll my eyes and put up one finger toward her to let her know I’ll tell her in a minute. Then I turn to the teacher. I hand him the schedule from the office. “Hi, Mr. Scott. This is Ben Oscuro, a transfer.”

Mr. Scott sets down the Mountain Dew he was drinking and offers Ben a wide grin. He puts a hand out for him to shake. Ben hesitates but takes the hand in what looks like a firm grip. Mr. Scott shakes his hand afterward. “That’s some grip you’ve got there.” He laughs and leans down to the bottom drawer of his desk and hands Ben a Geography text book.
With a nod, I return to Tasha and squeeze into the desk next to hers. Because I’m at Jackson Hall partially on scholarship and partially on my father’s insurance money, I’m somewhat of a social pariah. My only real friend is Tasha, a pariah herself, being one of the few African-American kids in the school. Still she tends to be more popular than me, because at least her family does have money. And then there’s that rumor…

“So who is the new hottie?” Tasha hops up and down in her seat.

I shake my head at her. “You are one big hormone, you know that? Sure, he’s cute, but is there any guy in the room you don’t consider a hottie?”

Tasha scans the room, considering for a moment with her hand on her chin and a very serious expression on her face. Her hair is in the typical pigtail braids she usually uses to play up the uniform. She has on no sweater, and her shirt is one size too small, causing the buttons at the front to bow and expose part of her red bra. Finally she returns her gaze to me. “There’s only one guy in here that doesn’t rank hottie.”

“Really? Who?”

She leans in conspiratorially and whispers, “Mr. Scott.”

I nearly choke on a laugh as I eye the middle aged, balding teacher at the front of the room. But I have to admit, Jackson Hall is a prep school. And no one can afford to make their children look their best more than the wealthy. I guess if I take my father’s words to heart, it’s better to be the poor kid in the rich kids’ school…than the other way around. Right?

Tasha’s smile returns and I follow her gaze to figure out why. Ben Oscuro walks down the aisle between us and takes the desk right behind mine. The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. He smells like pine and mint, and it reminds me of the outdoors. When I open them again, Tasha’s smile has grown impossibly wider. She leans towards me and whispers, “What was that you said about hormones again?”

I shove my elbow toward her but she dodges me with a giggle.






Goodreads Book Giveaway


First Impression by Pauline Creeden

First Impression

by Pauline Creeden


Giveaway ends April 30, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

~Book Blitz & Giveaway~ The Forgotten Ones by Laura Howard



Title: The Forgotten Ones  
Author: Laura Howard
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance

Blitz Host: Lady Amber's Tours

On Sale for .99 cents!!!!

Book Synopsis: 
Allison O'Malley's plan is to go to grad school so she can get a good job and take care of her schizophrenic mother. She has carefully closed herself off from everything else, including a relationship with Ethan, who she's been in love with for as long as she can remember.

What is definitely not part of the plan is the return of her long-lost father, who claims he can bring Allison's mother back from the dark place her mind has gone. Allison doesn't trust her father, so why would she believe his stories about a long forgotten Irish people, the Tuatha de Danaan? But truths have a way of revealing themselves. Secrets will eventually surface. And Allison must learn to set aside her plan and work with her father if there is even a small chance it could restore her mother's sanity.


Laura Howard lives in New Hampshire with her husband and four children. Her obsession with books began at the age of 6 when she got her first library card. Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High and other girly novels were routinely devoured in single sittings. Books took a backseat to diapers when she had her first child. It wasn’t until the release of a little novel called Twilight, 8 years later, that she rediscovered her love of fiction. Soon after, her own characters began to make themselves known. The Forgotten Ones is her first published novel.


Social Media Links: 







Sean jogged over with the bat and held it out for me, grinning. “Pick your pitcher, Allie-O.”

The smirk on Ethan's face was a challenge, and I couldn't resist. “Ethan has the ball, he can pitch to me.”

He made a big show of stretching and winding up before he finally tossed the ball at me.

I smacked the ball over the pool house, and Sean started shouting and cheering, making me smile. Ethan shook his head, but he was smiling. He clearly thought I would be an easy out.

I made it all the way to the final round, kicking Sean and Jeff out of the game. I'd played softball and run track all through school to pad my transcripts.

“You gonna let her win, E?” Jeff called, winking at me from the picnic table where he sat drinking a beer.

Ethan chuckled, showing off those damn dimples. He looked down at the ball in his hands and back up at me with a grin. “If I do, will you let me take you out?”

I snorted, trying to look braver than I felt. “Not a chance.”

“Wait a sec. I like this. Let's make a wager,” he said.

The guys were all hooting and hollering at me, my face was no doubt crimson.

“What do I get if I win?” I bit my lip, feeling all their eyes on me.

“I'm thinking, hang on,” He held up his finger, his brow furrowed in thought. His eyes widened with excitement, and I knew I would regret whatever he had to say.

“If I win, I get a kiss.” If it was possible, my cheeks grew even redder. They were all laughing and making cat calls now.

“And, if I win?” I looked up at his face.

He looked at me for a second, considering. “If you win, I won't ever ask you out again.”

This earned a chorus of “Yeah, right” and “No way” from the guys.

My mouth fell open, I had not been expecting that, but his face was sober. The laughing around us fell away for a second, and I could only stare at him feeling the color drain from my face. His expression remained solemn, and he met my gaze head on.

I nodded stiffly, and swallowed. “All right.”

His grin came back in full force. “Oh, and Al?”

I raised my eyebrows at him.

“I won't lose.”

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Release Day Blitz, Fire & Shadows by Rochelle Maya Callen



Fire and Shadows is the SEQUEL to Ashes and Ice.
Join today's Online Facebook Release Bash!

Book Description:
Secrets. Silence. Sacrifice.

Jade is only beginning to unravel her own secrets. Facing fate, a murky past and a brutal inner battle, Jade must become what she fears without giving into the darkness.


If she doesn't, the world will be devoured by Fire and Shadows.














Rochelle grew up dreaming up stories. When she entered high school, she tucked away her creative side and jumped head-first into academics, work, and service projects. She graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Political Science and Communication when she was twenty years old. After years away from her writing, Rochelle picked up a pen and started fleshing out a character sketch that she outlined when she was twelve. That sketch was the start of the Ashes and Ice story. Rochelle lives in the DC metro area with her husband and daughter. Fire and Shadows is her second novel.
Www.RochelleMayaCallen.comfacebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rochelle-Maya-Callen-Author/478176392210312twitter: rockyiswriting




Haven't read Ashes and Ice yet?

ASHES AND ICE (BOOK 1) is on SALE for only .99!
Ashes and Ice, a Dark YA fantasy, debuted on the charts as a #1 AMAZON Hot New Release! Grab your copy before you pick up the sequel, FIRE AND SHADOWS!

THE STORY...
She is desperate to remember.
He is aching to forget.
Together, they are not broken.
But together, one may not survive.
Jade wakes up with no memory of her past and blood on her hands.
Plagued by wicked thoughts, she searches for answers. Instead, she finds a boy who doesn't offer her answers, but hope. But sometimes, when nightmares turn into reality and death follows you everywhere, hope is not enough.
LUST. LOVE. LOSS. Sometimes, all that is left are Ashes and Ice.
Praise for Ashes and Ice:
"For me, Ashes and Ice was a work of art. Rochelle Maya Callen wove a very intricate tale. A love story of sorts. Dark and sinister yet full of hope and light. Callen painted her world brilliantly. This story was intoxicating and electric. I was captivated to the very end."
-Shelley Bunnell, TSK TSK What to Read
"Dark and Wicked." -- The Book Diaries
"Dreamy and Poetic." -- L.L. Hunter, Author
"A stunning debut." -- Owlnestly Reviews
"This story will rock you to your core." -- The Shadow Realm

“Fans of Anna Dressed in Blood and Beautiful Creatures will love Ashes and Ice!”




Monday, January 27, 2014

**Audio Blitz & Giveaway** Colour Wielders by Dawna Raver






Title: Colour Wielders
Author: Dawna Raver        
Genre: Romantic Fantasy
Blitz Host: Lady Amber's Tours

Synopsis:
Behind the Faerying Mysts, hidden from Mortal eyes, is a land where gods and creatures of myth and legend dwell. And in the Mortal Realm, their Princess is hidden away.Quinn Sinclair lives an ordinary life with her less-than-loving mother in Conifer, Colorado, clueless of her true nature. On the night of her birthday, a staggering betrayal sends her life spinning out-of-control. As she struggles to pick up the pieces, a vision of a man with haunting tourmaline-blue eyes begs her for help, and she is transported into a Magykal battle-forever changing her life.
Arik Morgaine—Demigod bad boy and outcast of the Magykal Realm—tried to avoid contact with Princess Quinn for eighteen years, not wanting to make good on an old threat. But the fates have other plans. Arik can no longer deny his growing desire for Quinn, or the need to protect her from those wanting to control her burgeoning powers.Can the two of them come together and save the Magykal Realm from being destroyed by the Darkest of Magyks?
New Adult. Recommended for 18 and above. Mature themes, sexual situations, and profanity.



Dawna Raver didn't always want to be a writer, but the voices in her head keep sending her stories, ranging from new adult, romantic fantasy and contemporary romance.
When she's not spending time in her fantasy world, Dawna loves football, reading, and pretending she's a top chef in the kitchen. Oh, and fawning over her dogs and husband, sometimes in that order.Severed Colours, Book 2, A Colour Wielders Novel, released on November 18, 2013. Indulging in Irelyn, a contemporary romance, written under D.L. Raver releases February 5, 2014. 
this is the buy link as well as the audio sample




Friday, January 24, 2014

*Cover Reveal* My Soul For You by Airicka Phoenix



Title: My Soul For you

Author: Airicka Phoenix

Publisher: Fire & Ice Publishing

Release Day: March 7, 2014

Genre: New Adult Contemporary, Thriller with strong elements of Romance

Warnings: Language and sexual content

Formats: eBook & Paperback



Buying Locations: To Come Soon








Best-Selling author Airicka Phoenix lives in rainy British Columbia with her beautiful family. When she's not pounding away at the keyboard, she can be found reading, shining her collection of daggers or chilling with her kids.

She is the author of the Touch SagaThe Sons of Judgment SagaThe Lost Girl Series, and Games of Fire.

Airicka also writes adult paranormal & contemporary romance under her alter ego, Morgana Phoenix. Her first novel, Capture Me, will be out 2014.

For more about Airicka, visit her website at: http://airickaphoenix.com/Author/


Stalker Links:
Design Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Airickas-Mystical-Creations/462373910480084Morgana Phoenix Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Morgana-Phoenix/148839731972606





Wednesday, January 22, 2014

*Book Blitz* Chasing the Star Garden by Melanie Karsak



Chasing the Star Garden
The Airship Racing Chronicles I

Genre: Steampunk Romance, Alternative History

Novel description:

An opium-addicted beauty.
An infamous poet living in self-imposed exile.
An ancient treasure about to fall into the wrong hands.

Melanie Karsak’s “Chasing the Star Garden” takes the reader on an exciting adventure from the gritty opium dens of gaslamp London to the gem colored waters of the ancient world, introducing us to Lily Stargazer, a loveable but reckless airship racer with a famous lover and a shattered past.

Lily Stargazer is having a bad day. She just lost the London leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix. To top it off, a harlequin fleeing from constables shoved a kaleidoscope down her pants, told her to fly to Venice, then threw himself from her airship tower. What’s a girl to do? For Lily, the answer is easy: drink absinthe and smoke opium.  

Lily’s lover, Lord Byron, encourages her to make the trip to Venice. Lily soon finds herself at the heart of an ancient mystery which has her running from her past and chasing true love and the stars along the way.

About the author:

Melanie Karsak grew up in rural northwestern Pennsylvania where there wasn’t much to do but read books and go for hikes. She wrote her first novel, a gripping piece about a 1920s stage actress, when she was 12. Today, Melanie, a steampunk connoisseur, white elephant collector, and caffeine junkie, lives in Florida with her husband and two children. She is an Instructor of English at Eastern Florida State College.



Media Links:
Twitter: twitter.com/MelanieKarsak
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/melaniekarsak/

Buy Links


Novel excerpt:

Chapter 1

I was going to lose-again. I gripped the brass handles on the wheel and turned the airship sharply port. The tiller vibrated in protest making the wheel shake and my wrist bones ache. Bracing my knees against the spokes, I tore off my brown leather gloves to get a better feel. The metal handgrips were smooth and cold. My fingers tingled from the chill.
“Easy,” I whispered to the Stargazer. I looked up from my position at the wheelstand, past the ropes, burner basket, and balloon, toward the clouds. They were drifting slowly left in a periwinkle blue sky. There’d be an updraft as we passed over the green-brown waters of the canal near Buckingham House. I locked the wheel and jumped from the wheelstand onto the deck of the gondola and looked over the rail. The canal waters were a hundred feet away. I ran back to the wheel and steadied the ship. If I caught the updraft, it would propel me up and forward and give me an edge.
“Cutter caught it, Lily,” Jessup yelled down from the burner basket below the balloon opening. “Up he goes,” he added, looking out through his spyglass. The gold polish on the spyglass reflected the fire from the burner.
“Dammit!” I snapped down my binocular lense. I saw Hank Cutter’s red-and-white striped balloon rise upward. At the top, he pitched forward with great momentum, catching a horizontal wind. I could just make out Cutter at the wheel. His blond hair blew wildly around him. He turned and waved to me. Wanker.
I was not as lucky. Just as the bow of the Stargazer reached the water, a stray wind came in and blew us leeward. The balloon jiggled violently in the turbulent air. I missed the air pocket altogether.
“No! No, no, no!” I cursed and steadied the ship. I had chased Cutter from Edinburgh across the Scottish and English countryside. He had been off his game all day. I’d had him by half a mile the entire race. With the bottom feeders lingering somewhere in the distance behind us, I’d thought the London leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix would be mine. That was until St. Albans, where Cutter caught a random breeze that pushed him slightly in front of me. Cutter had a knack for catching favorable winds; it was not a talent I shared.
“We’re coming up on Westminster,” Jessup yelled down from the basket. “Lily, drop altitude. Cutter is too high. Come in low and fast, and you might overtake him.”
The airship towers sat at the pier near the Palace of Westminster along the Thames. A carnival atmosphere had overtaken the city as it always does on race day. Colorful tents were set up everywhere. Vendors hawked their wares to excited Londoners and international visitors. I could hear the merchants barking from their tents even from this far above. I fancied I could smell roasted peanuts in the wind.
I jumped down from the wheelstand, ran across the deck, and pulled the valve cord, opening the flap at the top of the balloon. Hot air released with a hiss. I kept one eye on the balloon and another eye on Tinkers’ Tower. At this time of day, the heat coming off of the Palace of Westminster and Tinkers’ Tower would give us a bump. I looked up. Cutter had started preparing his descent. It would be close.
I ran back to the wheel.
“Angus, I need more speed,” I yelled down to the gear galley, rapping on the wooden hatch that led to the rods, belts, and propeller parts below.
Angus slapped open the hatch and stuck out his bald head. His face was covered in grease, and his blue-lense monocle glimmered in the sunlight. He looked up at the clouds and back at me.
“Let’s giddyup,” I called to him.
“You trying the Tower sling?” he yelled back.
“You got it.”
He laughed wildly. “That’s my lassie,” he yelled and dropped back down, pulling the wood hatch closed with a clap. I heard the gears grind, and the propeller, which had been turning nice and steady, began to hum loudly. The ship pitched forward. Within moments, we were coming up on Tinkers’ Tower. The airship towers were just a stone’s throw away.
I aimed the ship directly toward Tinkers’ Tower. Just as the bowsprit neared the clock, I yanked the wheel. The warm air caught us.
“Whoa!” Jessup yelled as the balloon moved within arm’s length of the tower.
The sound of “Ohhs!” echoed from the crowd below.
A mix of warm air and propulsion gave us some go, and seconds later we were slingshotting around Tinkers’ Tower toward the airship platforms. Gliding in on warm air and momentum, we flew fast and low.
Cutter had kept it high, but now he was dropping like a stone toward his own tower. Damned American. I didn’t blame him; I would have used the same move. His balloon was releasing so much air that I wondered if he would be able to slow down in time, not that I would have minded seeing him smash to the ground in a million pieces.
“It’s going to be close,” Jessup yelled as he adjusted the heat pan.
I guided the helm. The Stargazer was temperamental, but we understood one another. A shake of the wheel warned me I was pushing too hard. “Almost there,” I whispered to the ship.
The Grand Prix Marshalls were standing on the platform. Cutter and I had the end towers. I was going to make it.
“Cut propulsion,” I yelled toward the gear galley. On the floor near the wheelstand, a rope led to a bell in the galley. I rang it twice. The propeller switched off.
A soft, sweet wind blew in from the port side. It ruffled my hair around my shoulders. I closed my eyes and turned the wheel slightly starboard, guiding the ship in. Moments later, I heard a jubilant cheer erupt from the American side and an explosion from the firework cannon signaling the winner had been declared. My eyes popped open. I tore off my goggles and looked starboard. Cutter’s balloon was docked. I threw the goggles onto the deck and set my forehead against the wheel.
The Stargazer settled into her dock. Jessup set the balloon on hover and, grabbing a rope, swung down to the deck. He then threw the lead lines and anchors onto the platform. The beautifully dressed crowd, gentlemen in suits and top hats and fancy ladies in a rainbow of satin gowns carrying parasols, rushed toward the American end of the platform to congratulate the winner.
I was, once again, a national disgrace. Lily the loser. Lily second place. Perhaps I would never be anything more than a ferrywoman, a cheap air jockey.
“Good job, Lily. Second place!” Jessup said joining me. He patted me on the shoulder.
I sighed deeply and unbuttoned my vest. The tension had me sweating; I could feel it dripping down from my neck, between my breasts, into my corset.
“You did great,” I told Jessup. “Sorry I let you down.”
“Ah, Lily,” he sighed.
Angus emerged from below wiping sweat from his head with a greasy rag. He pulled off his monocle. He frowned toward the American side. “Well, we beat the French,” he said with a shrug and kissed me on the cheek, smearing grease on me.
“Good job, Angus. Thank you,” I said, taking him by the chin and giving him a little shake as I wrinkled my nose and smiled at him.
Angus laughed and dropped his arm around Jessup’s shoulders. They grinned happily at one another.
“You stink, brother,” Jessup told him.
“It’s a wee bit toasty down there. Besides, I pedaled this ship across the entire fucking country while you were up here looking at the birds. That, my friend, is the smell of success.”
I laughed.
“You pedaled the ship?” Jessup asked mockingly. “Like Lil and I were just up here playing cards? If I didn’t keep the balloon aloft, your ass would be kissing the ground.”
“Now wait a minute. Are you saying your job is more important that mine?” Angus retorted.
I could see where this was going. “Gents.”
“More important? Now why would I say that? Just because I’m the one . . .” Jessup started and then his mouth ran.
“Gents.”
“ . . . and another thing . . .” Jessup went on.
“Gentlemen! Our audience awaits,” I said cutting them both off, motioning to the well-shod crowd who waited for us on the loading platform outside the Stargazer.
I grinned at my crew. “Come on. Let’s go.”
I patted the rail of the Stargazer. “Thanks,” I whispered to her, and we exited onto the platform.
A reporter from the London Times and several race officials stood waiting for me.
“Well done, Lily! Well done!” the British race official congratulated me with a pat on the back. “Second place! King George will be so proud. One of these days you’ll have it, by God.”
I was pretty sure that the last thing I needed was the attention of George IV, the extravagant, unpopular lush. But I bit my tongue and smiled politely.
“Lily, how did Cutter beat you? You led the entire race,” the reporter asked. She was a round woman wearing a very thick black lace collar that looked like it was choking her. Her heavy purple walking dress looked hot under the late afternoon summer sun, and the brim of her black satin cap barely shaded her nose. I noticed, however, that she had a small clockwork fan pin attached to her chest. The fan wagged cool air toward her face.
I pulled off my cap, mopped my forehead, and thought about the question. “Luck,” I replied.
“Lily, that was some move around Tinkers’ Tower. How did you learn to do that?” another reporter asked.
“My father,” I lied.
“Make way, make way,” one of the race officials called, ushering a Marshall forward.
The Marshall looked like someone who lingered an hour too long at supper. The gold buttons on his satin, marigold colored vest would take an eye out if they popped. His overly tall top hat was adorned with a ring of flowers that matched his striking orange colored dress coat.
“Miss Stargazer, congratulations,” he said, shaking my hand. “The Spanish airship is coming in now. Will you please join Mr. Cutter at the winners’ podium?” he asked politely as he guided me forward by the hand.
From below there was a commotion. A man dressed in an unusual costume rushed up the stairs. The London constables, a full squadron of the Bow Street Runners, chased him. When he got to the loading platform, the man pushed through a crowd of well-dressed ladies and gentlemen, many of whom were gentry. It was then I could see he was dressed as a harlequin. He wore the traditional red and black checked outfit and a black mask. He scanned the towers until he caught sight of me. He jumped, landing on the tower railing, and ran toward me. A woman in the crowd screamed. Moments later the constables appeared on the platform. The race Marshalls pointed toward the harlequin who was making a beeline for me.
I let go of the Marshall’s hand and stepped back toward the ship.
“Lily,” Jessup warned, moving protectively toward me.
Angus reached over the deck of the Stargazer and grabbed a very large wrench.
Was it an assassin? Christ, would someone murder me for winning second place? I turned and ran toward the Stargazer. A moment later, the harlequin flipped from the rail, grabbed one of the Stargazer’s ropes, and swinging over the others, landed on the platform directly in front of me. Any second now, I would be dead.
He panted and muttered “Lily?” from behind the mask.
“Stop that man! Stop him!” a constable yelled.
“Get out of my way!” Angus roared at the crowd that had thronged in between us.
The masked man grabbed me, tugged on the front of my trousers, and leaned into my ear. The long nose of the mask tickled the side of my face. “Go to Venice,” he whispered as he stuffed something down the front of my pants.
“We got you now,” a constable said, grabbing him, raising his club.
The man shook him off, took two steps backward, and with a jump, leapt off the tower.
Several people in the crowd screamed.
I rushed to the side of the tower to see the harlequin lying at its base. His body was twisted, and his arms and legs bent oddly, contorted into three distinct points. Blood began pooling around him.
“Miss Stargazer, are you all right?” a constable asked.
“A man just killed himself in front of me. No, I am not all right.”
“I mean, are you harmed? Did he hurt you?”
I shook my head and looked down at the mangled body which lay in the shape of a three-sided triskelion. It was the same symbol that was painted on the balloon of the Stargazer.