A Devilish Slumber
The Rue Alliance
Genre: Regency paranormal romance
Publisher: ImaJinn Books/Belle Books
Date of Publication: Feb. 19, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-61194-609-3 (ebook)
ISBN: 978-1-61194-592-8 (print)
Number of pages: 224
Word Count: 85,000
Cover Artist: Debra Dixon
Beauty awoke, and then the trouble began . . .
Since dealing with the death of her sister and her abandonment by Sir Phillip Jones, the man who professed to love her, Lady Roselyn Ravenstock has lived as if sleepwalking. Mired in grief, she sequestered herself in her home, avoiding all callers. Then she meets Mrs. Helen Beaumont, and Rose starts to come to life . . . until Helen is murdered. But this time, Rose isn't going back to sleep. Vowing to avenge her friend, Rose dons a costume and goes out into the night looking for a killer.
Sir Phillip, the Regent's favored spy, returns from war determined to win back the woman he was forced to leave three years ago. But when he witnesses Rose covered in blood, racing from a brutal scene while gripping the murder weapon, he goes on a desperate mission to unravel what he hopes is a case of mistaken identity.
The investigation leads Rose into a world of enchantment, where people can re-shape their features, fires are begun with a snap of fingers and objects move of their own accord. But the real magic is the blazing attraction that is re-awakened between her and Phillip.
Will Rose ever get her happily-ever-after? Possibly. But first, she'll have to convince Phillip of her innocence-before the killer strikes again. . . .
Excerpt: A Devilish Slumber Chapter One
Midnight, Wednesday, April 8, 1813, London, England
A SCREAM RIPPLED across the misty, dockside air.
Sir Phillip Jones's pulse lurched at that mournful cry. Gripping his walking stick, he raced down the hilly road of the deserted warehouse district in Wapping. A second muffled scream rang out and was then abruptly cut off. No longer concerned about keeping his movements covert, he ran toward those terrified shrieks. Rounding a corner, he tore past a man staring toward where the screams had come from.
"Imbecile," the large man grumbled from behind him.
Phillip was ten feet away before it registered that the man had sworn in French. By then, the woman who ran out of a warehouse gripping a bloody dagger had captured his focus. For a split second, her face was clearly highlighted by a stray shaft of moonlight piercing the mist. He stumbled to a halt, his chest heaving for air as stunned recognition sank in.
The lady started and swung toward him. Had he spoken aloud? Pulling her hood up, she then sprinted off into the night.
Phillip instantly gave chase, but when he reached the open warehouse door through which she had fled, he pulled back. If that had been his Rose, he knew where she lived.
Rapidly retreating footsteps behind him suggested the irate Frenchman, probably a sailor, was also prudently withdrawing from this possible crime scene.
Inside the warehouse, despite the wide open door, it was pitch black, but that coppery scent of fresh spilled blood was unmistakable in the chilly sea air. Instead of blindly stepping in, Phillip pulled out his candle and circular silver tinderbox from his pocket. He had not survived the dangers of being an intelligence officer for the past five years by acting foolishly during a crisis.
He methodically placed the candle's wick end into the hole on the lid and struck the flint until the candle lit. Then, with flickering candle attached to the tinderbox's socket, he cautiously proceeded inside, his walking stick, with a sword hidden inside, raised to act as a club. If someone lurked within this warehouse, he would need blunt force, not blade finesse.
The warehouse was empty except for the victim who was slumped on the grimy floor, blood pooling at her side. Her throat had been slit. Her eyes were wide open as if in shock. He lowered his weapon, placed his candleholder on the ground, and knelt to check for signs of life. Her arm was limp and there was no pulse at the wrist, and not even a hint of a breath. Her skin was still warm, but her spirit had been effectively extinguished.
With a defeated sigh, he searched her reticule and found calling cards which confirmed her identity. This was indeed Mrs. Beaumont, the woman he had come to meet tonight. Not many from this riverside section of London could afford the luxury of calling cards. Her gown was serviceable, but not of high fashion. He strode restlessly around the empty warehouse, kicking aside empty crates and litter, poking at the walls in search of a hidden door, anything to prove that Rose was unlikely to be the culprit of this crime.
Anger built as he returned, empty handed, to the body. With a grunt of frustration, he flung his weighty walking stick across the room. It struck the wooden wall with a satisfying bang and then clattered as it rolled across the hollow chamber.
Shoulders set with resolve, he proceeded with his last distasteful but necessary search. He examined the underside of Mrs. Beaumont's sleeves and delved into her bodice. Nothing. He then lifted her gown in case she had strapped something to her limbs. Disappointed there too, he removed her boots and stripped off her stockings. Finding nary a clue, he carefully redressed her, making sure she would be respectably covered before the river police arrived. All the while, words rang through his mind. That cannot have been Rose running away.
As he re-positioned her arms at her side, he noticed one of the lady's clenched hands. Pulse speeding in anticipation, he raised her fist for closer study. Probing with his forefinger revealed something held inside her fist. He pried her fingers apart until they revealed a scrunched-up handkerchief. Drawing his candle holder closer, he carefully spread apart the material on the floor. There, on the top right, was a small, black, neatly embroidered crest of a raven.
That further evidence of Rose's guilt left him in choking silence as he battled the urge to compare it to the handkerchief now burning a hole in his breast pocket. Finally, knowing he had no choice, he pulled out the other and gently unfolded it beside the crumpled one. The two crests were a match. His handkerchief had been a gift from Lady Roselyn Ravenstock.
About the Author:
Once upon a time, Shereen Vedam read fantasy and romance novels to entertain herself. Now she writes heartwarming tales braided with threads of magic and love and mystery elements woven in for good measure. She’s a fan of resourceful women, intriguing men, and happily-ever-after endings. If her stories whisk you away to a different realm for a few hours, then Shereen will have achieved one of her life goals.
Blog (A step beyond the ordinary): http://shereentwo.livejournal.com/