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A Gothic Twist

“I’m so glad you could come. Sit please; they’ll bring tea shortly.”

“You have an odd look in your eyes.”

“Please don’t argue. Is it because they say I’m mad? She doesn’t say it—not out loud—that woman on whom my guardian lavishes attention, that Claire Albright chit, who pretends she can ‘cure’ me but who really wants to take him away and silence the church bells in my voice. I’ll show her the limits of her power.

“When I sing, I look into the sky and see my brother bat away the clouds. He smiles down, and I tell him with my holy song that I will keep him from starvation, and he’ll have wine, food, blankets, hay for the horses, too—it’s all in the tower. I’ve collected it all for him, for my brother in the afterlife.

“When I sing, I look into the sky and see my brother bat away the clouds. He smiles down, and I tell him with my holy song that I will keep him from starvation, and he’ll have wine, food, blankets, hay for the horses, too—it’s all in the tower. I’ve collected it all for him, for my brother in the afterlife.

“Did I unnerve you? Don’t go.”

“Ahh, here’s the tea.” (She sits at the pianoforte and sings; ‘He took a stick down off the rack, fall al lal lal lal li-do, and on the back went rickety-rack, of Ruggleton’s daughter of Iero.’) Her eyes glitter, as she throws her head back and laughs, then abruptly stops. “Lady Claire and her potions—chamomile, St. John’s wort, willow bark, and morphine—they disturb my singing—make my brother’s clouds clog my voice, blur my vision. But I am not mad, and my guardian will never put me in an asylum because he loves me. And soon, I will show her to whom he belongs…

The Secret Life of Lords

If Lady Claire Albright had one wish, it would be to forget brooding, powerful Lord Flavian Monroe. But even after two years of bewildering silence, she yearns to touch his sinuous arms and feel his calloused hands upon her cheeks. Then, on the brink of her come out, they accidently meet. His ward is ill, and he begs her to use her knowledge of healing to help the girl. But this patient is sick in a way that’s far different from what Claire expected—dangerously different. And, as she struggles to find a cure, Flavian resists rekindling their love. Is it the ward’s illness that keeps him cold and distant, or a dark and terrible secret?

The thought of Claire in the arms of another man is unbearable, but in his heart Flavian knows he mustn’t ask her to share the consequences of his mistake. Nor should he have brought her to his home and exposed her to his ward’s sickness. Yet he lacks the strength to send her away. Each time he looks into Claire’s eyes, the urge to feel her body pressed against his consumes all reason, and he is left unable to utter the word, ‘goodbye.’

Meet Elf Ahearn

Elf Ahearn, yes, that is her real name, lives in New York with her wonderful husband and a pesky (yet irresistible) cat. Before becoming a novelist, she spent 20 years in Manhattan working as an actress in nearly 100 productions (yet rarely getting paid for any of them). From that lucrative career, she jumped to journalism, and then to corporate communications where she garnered multiple awards for a newsletter she wrote and edited. Her novel, A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing hit #1 in its genre on Amazon this September, and bless its electronic and paper heart, has been consistently selling for over three years. The Secret Life of Lords is the second in the Albright Sisters series.

Website: www.elfahearn.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elf.ahearn?fref=ts

Newsletter: email elfahearn@hotmail.com to subscribe

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Excerpt

In a storeroom at the back of a thatched cottage on the outskirts of Exeter, Lady Claire Albright separated valerian stalks from a wheelbarrow piled high with freshly-picked herbs. Quickly binding the ends with string, she hung the bouquet upside down from a nail in the rafter. As she reached for the next bunch, a deep, rumbly male voice filtered through the wall, and instantly her breath caught and her throat constricted. She knew that voice; had listened for it for two pain-filled years, had longed for it, had fretted about it, had torn through every word it had spoken trying to understand what she’d done wrong. And here it was—so sonorous and wise, laced with a gentleness she now knew she should never have trusted.

“We’ve got fresh chamomile in back,” said Jenny Martin, the proprietress of the odd little establishment: part dwelling, part apothecary shop, and part medical clinic.

Had he married? Claire wondered. Was his wife unable to rest, so he’d travelled all this way for a sleeping potion?

“My lady,” Mrs. Martin called, “Could you bring three bunches of calming herbs?”

Claire’s heart broke into a gallop and she pressed her knuckles to her mouth, frantically wishing there were a hole to dive into. Go out there and see him? Oh, no. No. As if it were on fire, she hurled the herbs back into the wheelbarrow then froze like a rabbit.

“Could you go back yourself, my lord? This brew depends on constant stirring.”

My God, where to hide!

“Which would be the chamomile?” he asked, voice as musical as a bass fiddle.

“The stuff with yellow buds like daisies.”

Yellow buds, yellow buds. Claire dashed behind a multi-tiered rack of dangling lavender, as purple as purple could be. There, she stood absolutely still.

His footsteps approached. She shut her eyes, and in the darkness the volume of his steps roared in her ears. By the sound of it, he’d stopped at the threshold. A few tentative steps further into the room, and the rustle of dried foliage sounded as if he were moving toward the St. John’s wort. A confused exhalation and more movement… closer. Closer.

She sensed him, felt his nearness, the electricity of his body, the heat from him. Had he halted at the lavender? Unable to bear not knowing, she opened her eyes.

In that instant, he parted two bunches of the purple flowers and looked straight at her. “Lady Claire?” he said, startled.

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1 Comment

  1. Dawn Barclay

    Two wonderful excerpts. Sounds like a fascinating book. I must purchase a copy 🙂

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