It's been a crazy few months, but I feel like I can finally check a couple things off my list. I managed to send my steampunk clothing craftbook to my editor, and also wrapped up edits on the second book in the Viridis series. I'm happy to let you all know that Devil on a Sparrow's Wing is now available on Amazon
! Barnes and Noble will also have it available soon, but their upload process takes a while.
Although this is the second book in the series, it works just as well as a stand alone novel, so no worries if you haven't read Viridis
Not sure if it's for you? Well, I'd never have you buy without a sample! I do hope you'll enjoy.
Devil on a Sparrow's Wing
Edinburgh, May 1866
Phoebe stood there at the
helm of Gavin’s airship, arms crossed and her temper up, as Seth argued with
“It could be dangerous and
I’d rather not have to worry about ye. I
cannot concentrate on the matter at hand if I’m distracted by trying to keep ye
safe. Gavin,” he turned to his friend
for support, “can ye not talk some sense into her?”
Gavin balked. “How am I to talk sense into the lass, when
she’s your wife?” A teasing smile
crept across his lips.
“I’ll not have you talking
around me as if I’m not even here.”
Phoebe’s cheeks flushed with her annoyance. Nothing was more infuriating than having
others make decisions for her. “And it
makes no difference whose wife I am. Do
you hear me, Seth Elliott? Wife or no,
I’m still my own person, and I’ll not have you dictating whether or not I’ll be
allowed to go to a meeting regarding my herbal.”
Seth ran a hand down her
arm, diffusing some of the tension between them. “Can ye blame me for wanting to keep you
safe, a ghaoil? Of course we’re
here because of Sanctis, but it does not change the fact that this could be a
dangerous situation. We’re meeting with
the heads of Am Freiceadan for the first time and I cannot be sure of
Am Feiceadan, known
as The Watch, was the group responsible for giving Scotland the edge it needed
to win its independence from England, its members notorious for their fighting
prowess. They could also be instrumental in helping the Cause, an underground
movement trying to better the lives and circumstances of London’s poor.
However, Phoebe was not
swayed by his argument. “So you think
they’ll assault and murder my person in the middle of the tavern?” Her eyebrows perked up in question.
Gavin finally spoke
up. “Let her come, mo charaid. No harm will come to her. I’ve dealt with these men before, and they
wouldna hurt her, aye?” Gavin winked at
Phoebe, and she couldn’t help but smile.
“Besides, she’s liable to get in a world of trouble if we leave her here
Seth shook his head,
cursing under his breath, accepting defeat.
“Aye. Ye can come then.”
As if he had a choice in
the matter. Phoebe threw her arms around
his neck and gave him a kiss on the cheek, before whispering in his ear with a
nibble. “I’m glad you’ve come to your
senses. I promise, you’ll barely know
“My love, ye could walk
into a room with a hundred other people, and I would instantly know ye’re
there.” His arms went around her waist,
kissing her full on the lips. “Since I knew
ye’d likely insist on joining us, I’ve made ye a little something. If ye’ll excuse us a moment, Gavin.”
Once in their room, Phoebe
watched as Seth rummaged under the bed, returning victoriously with a silk
wrapped package. He handed it to her
with a grin on his face and a sparkle in his eyes. “For you, my love.”
The delicate rose ribbon
fell to the side as she peeled away the cream colored silk. “Seth, what have you done?”
“Do ye like it?” He stepped up behind her to peek over her
shoulder, his body so close, it was all she could do to not lean against
She held it up to take a
better look. “It’s a leather corset?”
“Not just a corset, a
ghaoil. I’ve designed it to
withstand charges from fuse guns, and even a knife or traditional gun would have
a hard time penetrating it.”
She spun to face him with a
smile upon her lips, his arm going around her waist to hold her close. “What would I do without you, my dearest
An eyebrow perked up. “One can only imagine.” A laugh escaped him. “Here.
Let me give ye a hand getting into it.”
Phoebe loved that the
recent months spent in Gavin’s company had Seth’s words falling back to their
more natural Scots, the lilt in his voice melting every fiber in her
being. She could hear him talk all day long
and never tire of it.
“Ye see, it can be worn
both under a gown or over it. And
knowing ye often travel without a maid, I designed it so it doesna lace like a
traditional corset. Ye’ll be able to get
yerself in and out of it with few problems.”
He showed her how the corset buckled on each side.
It was actually quite
heavy. Though the exterior was made of a
deep brown leather and the inside was lined with a burgundy silk, there was
another thick layer in between the two.
The leather pieces had been riveted together with hundreds of little
brass rivets. It was quite unlike
anything she’d ever seen.
She went to her wardrobe
and chose a silk burgundy gown with a nicely bustled back, the color
complementing her mahogany locks and porcelain skin. Seth moved to her side to help her out of the
corset and gown she was currently wearing, but when he started to trail kisses
down her bare shoulder, she forced herself to take a step away from him. “We will be quite late if you keep up your
antics, my love.”
“Ye canna blame me,
aye?” Seth snaked his arm around her
waist, pulling her close for a kiss.
“Could you give me a hand,
please?” Ignoring Seth’s look of
disappointment, she slipped into the gown she’d chosen and handed him the
He wrapped the corset
around her waist. “Ye see, ye adjust the
buckles like so. Start with one side and
then move to the other.” He fastened the
buckles, and then turned her towards the full-length looking glass.
“Oh Seth, it really is
“Ye’re the one that’s
stunning, my love.”
Phoebe now sat happily
sandwiched between Seth and Gavin, as Seth maneuvered his steam coach down the
cobbled streets and into the center of Edinburgh. Busier than she had expected, the walkways
were teeming with people coming and going.
It was quite fascinating to
see the revival the city had undergone, now a tinkerer’s haven, transformed
from its traditional past. So much had
been accomplished, and she knew Seth was sorely tempted to move his shop here
and away from London.
Phoebe put a hand on his
arm. “I’ve never seen anything of the
like. Perhaps one day we could live
here. It really would be the perfect place
for you to be tinkering.”
Seth glanced at her, his
brow furrowed. “We couldna do that when
ye have Viridis back in London.”
Viridis, Phoebe’s club back
in London, was named for Phoebe’s first herbal concoction, bearing the same
name. Much to her surprise, Phoebe and
her drink had taken London by storm and become an instant success.
“I could always leave it in
someone else’s care, though I’ve no doubt the revolution may very well alter
even the simplest of plans.”
Seth glanced away from the
road again. “Phoebe, I’d never ask ye to
do such a thing.”
“I know, love, but we could
always open a second club here, could we not?
I’ve never seen a more amazing city.”
Phoebe was excited to see all the marvels as she looked around the city. “Look over there.” Phoebe pointed to a large brass and glass
coach dangling from a metal rail as it sped along between the buildings,
leaving a trail of steam dissipating behind it.
All around them tinkerings
abounded. A glass tube on the exterior
of a rakishly tall building carried people up its side, airships dotted the
sky, and towers reached to the heavens.
There was even an abundance of other steam coaches on the road, in a
multitude of shapes and sizes. Their
ride through Edinburgh was remarkable, but it was not long before they arrived
at the tavern where their meeting was to take place.
“Here ye are, love.” Gavin gave Phoebe a hand out of the steam
coach as Seth came around to join them.
Seth tucked her hand in the
crook of his elbow, his eyes alight as he took her in, his touch
lingering. “Are ye ready, my love?” Seth’s voice held a hoarse edge of need,
making her want to abandon the meeting all together and drag him back to the
He leaned down and kissed
her quickly, before turning his attention to Gavin. “This is yers, aye? Ye’ve had dealings with them before, and it’ll
probably be best if ye do most of the talking.”
Gavin gave Seth a quick nod
in answer. “Aye. Will do.”
They followed Gavin into
the tavern, and after a preliminary glance around, headed to the back of the
room where two men stood upon seeing their approach.
One man couldn’t have been
more than thirty-five, strong and fair of face, with an unruly thatch of red
hair. The other man had to be in his
late forties, with a weathered face and brown hair streaked with grey. The thing that caught Phoebe’s attention,
however, was the tinkering the man wore in place of his left arm, the
shirtsleeve rolled up and out of the way to allow for the metal joints and
mechanics to operate freely.
It was remarkable. Like nothing she’d ever seen before, it was
difficult to not look. The hand was made
of wood and metal, each joint articulated.
The fingers moved independently from each other, most likely by a series
of thin wires and pulleys hidden within, if she were to guess based on its
Neither looked like the
type of man you’d want to go up against in a fight, good hand or not, and both
men were kilted in their plaids, as were Seth and Gavin. Since Scotland had gained its sovereignty
from England, the kilt had become a symbol of pride and independence.
Phoebe had never seen
Gavin, a full-blooded highlander, in anything but a kilt. Seth, who happened to be half Scot, normally
wore breeches when in London, but when he came north, he always wore the tartan
of his mother’s clan—and there was something about seeing him in a kilt, tall
and strong, that made her heart race.
Gavin made the
introductions, starting with the older of the two men. “Niall Campbell and Conall MacAllister, I’d
like to introduce ye to Seth Elliott and his wife, Lady Phoebe Hughes Elliott.”
The men shook Seth’s hand,
and then turned their attention to Phoebe.
Niall took her hand with his good one and bowed over it, but Conall was
far more forward, kissing her hand with a lingering touch.
Phoebe blushed, and though
she felt Seth shift at her side, she hoped he’d not make a fuss. It could ruin their chances to secure help
for the Cause. With the revolution
looking as if it might erupt at any moment, they desperately needed to secure
weapons and men if the Cause was to be successful.
Pulling out a chair for
Phoebe, Seth took the seat next to her, Gavin once again sitting on her other
side. They ordered a round of ale for
all, still too early for a meal.
Conall smiled at
Phoebe. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet
ye, m’ lady, though I’ll admit, I hadna
expected the creator of such a
revolutionary herbal to also be one of such beauty.” His eyes ran over her figure before flicking
over to Seth for a moment. “Yer husband
is a verra lucky man.”
Phoebe’s back stiffened,
not quite sure how to react, but before she could speak, Gavin came to her
rescue. “Conall, it’d be greatly
appreciated if ye’d stop being a shite and concentrate on the matter at hand,
Conall let out a hearty
laugh, giving Phoebe and Seth a bow of his head. “My apologies. I meant no offense.”
Niall glared at Conall,
before continuing. “Ye’ll have to
forgive my companion. It seems he lost
his manners when he crawled out of the gutter this morning.”
Niall shifted in his seat
before continuing, his eyes now focused on their group. “I’d like to get to the matter at hand, and
will speak frankly with ye, aye? Our
group fully supports what the Cause is doing but I’m afraid we canna get involved
in another war with England if it willna benefit us in some way.” Holding up his mechanical hand, he added,
“The cost of it is still too fresh in the minds of those who were there.”
“Aye,” Gavin added. “We’d not be bothering ye if we didna have
something to offer in return. When we
spoke, I told ye about the herbal. We’d
be willing to exchange ten barrels for yer help in the way of arms and
Conall motioned to
Phoebe. “If the lady would be so kind to
explain the effects of the herbal— Sanctis, is it?— it would aid us in our
Phoebe nodded. “Of course.
It’s an herbal elixir that’s mixed with spirits, and derived from an
alteration of my formula for Viridis.
Are you familiar with Viridis, sirs?”
It was quite obvious by
Niall’s blush, if such a man could, and by the smile tugging at Conall’s lips,
that they had at the least heard the rumors.
It was Conall that answered her question. “If ye wouldna mind telling us about it, it’d
be much appreciated.”
Ignoring the men’s
reactions, Phoebe continued, very matter of fact. “Viridis is derived from a combination
of herbal extracts, and tends to leave one with a feeling of euphoria while
sensitizing the skin.” She would not add
that the rumors were indeed true, and that when taken in its undiluted form, an
orgasm could be brought on by a single kiss.
Niall’s blush now extended to the rest of his
face. “And the difference between
Viridis and Sanctis?”
“The alteration to the
original formula resulted in an enhancement of the senses, sight and sound
being primarily affected, though you probably would not want to experience any
extremes in temperature.” She tucked a
stray curl behind her ear before continuing.
“I was able to eliminate most of the skin sensitivity and euphoria
inherent in Viridis, though not completely.
You may also experience an increase in strength and stamina, though it
tends to come about once you’ve used it repeatedly.”
Niall sat forward, running
his hand over his chin. “Are there any
unwanted effects that ye ken of? I’d
hate for my men to drop like flies, aye?”
Phoebe shook her head,
no. “Not that I’m aware. I cannot say for sure, though I doubt it
would cause anyone to drop, as you so put it, like a fly. The herbal is still relatively new. Viridis does not have any unwanted effects,
and I’d be tempted to say the same will prove true of Sanctis, based on the
fact that they are similarly derived. I
brought some with me, if you would like to try it firsthand.”
Niall nodded. “We would love for ye to join us in a
drink.” Phoebe knew it was his polite
way of ensuring they would not be poisoned, and could not help but smile.
Seth reached into his
leather bag, and pulled out a dark blue bottle as Niall waved to the serving
girl for some glasses. The empty glasses
were placed on the table along with the ale they had ordered. Seth poured out a small amount of Sanctis as
Phoebe passed out the drink.
Gavin lifted his glass. “To
a successful partnership.”
Niall, nodded his head in
their direction. “May the gods be
They all drank the herbal,
conversation drifting to nothing of importance as they waited for the herbal to
take effect. It did not take long— no
more than ten minutes— when Phoebe noticed her eyesight had sharpened and she
could now hear things clear across the tavern.
Even the taste of her ale seemed more pronounce, the hops and yeast
distinct in their flavors.
“I’ll be damned. It actually works.” Conall tilted his head to the side. “Ye can sort of focus on what ye wanna hear,
Gavin nodded. “It takes a little getting used to, but ye’ll
have it down in no time.”
“Aye. And how long does it last? Do ye ken?”
Niall was looking at the liquid remaining in his glass.
Phoebe answered him. “It depends on the quantity you’ve had and
whether or not the drink has been diluted.
At its full strength, I’d say two ounces of Sanctis should keep the
effect going for close to two hours. If
you cut it by half, you’ll cut its effectiveness and longevity by half.”
Niall nodded. “I’d be willing to send two hundred weapons
with ammunition— the latest tinkerings, mind— and another twenty men, all well
trained and capable of training others.
What do ye say?”
Gavin gave it a minute and
then said, “Make it two fifty and twenty five, and ye’ll have yerself a deal.”
“Aye. Agreed, if ye’ll also throw in two barrels of
Phoebe smiled. “Agreed.”