My gorgeous cover, courtesy of Samhain Publishing and artist Kanaxa.

My gorgeous cover, courtesy of Samhain Publishing and artist Kanaxa.

Woo hoo! My first steampunk novel Eros Element will be out on August 25 with Samhain Publishing. I’m super excited because I love this genre.


If love is the ivy, secrets are the poison.

After enduring heartbreak at the hands of a dishonest woman, Edward Bailey lives according to scientific principles of structure and predictability. Just the thought of stepping outside his strict routine raises his anxiety.

Adding to his discomfort is Iris McTavish, who appears at his school’s faculty meeting in place of her world-famous archeologist father. Worse, the two of them are to pose as Grand Tourists while they search for an element that will help harness the power of aether.

Iris jumps at the opportunity to prove her worth as a scholar—and avoid an unwanted marriage proposal—while hiding the truth of her father’s whereabouts. If her secret gets out, the house of McTavish will fall into ruin.

Quite unexpectedly, Edward and Iris discover a growing attraction as their journey takes them to Paris and Rome, where betrayal, blackmail and outright theft threaten to destroy what could be a revolutionary discovery—and break their hearts.

Warning: Allergen alert! This book was produced in a facility that handles copious amounts of wine, tea and baked goods. May contain one or more of the following: a spirited heroine, a quirky hero, clever banter, interesting facts both made-up and historical, and lots of secrets. It is, however, gluten free.

Author’s note:

An unexpected perk of being an author is that I get to immortalize my favorite cat in the character of Professor Edward Bailey, who is a finicky sort of fellow, at least at first.

Edward is in part named after my cat Bailey, who was a charming and elegant tuxedo cat, although he had his less than graceful moments. We lost him to lymphoma in May 2014, and I was heartbroken. He’d been with me through graduate school, getting married – he never got used to Hubby taking over his spot on the other pillow in the bed – and starting my career as a psychologist. He’d perch on the back of my chair while I wrote my first novels. He would also let me carry him around, and he would rub his head under my chin and purr while giving me “kitty hugs.” As Hubby observed, Bailey the cat had way more social skills than Edward started out with.

Here’s a glimpse of Edward with his older brother Christopher, who will be the star of a prequel novella to the series, hopefully coming out this fall (edited for length):

Waltham Manor, 07 June 1870

“This is going to be a nightmare.” Edward sat in his brother’s parlor and put his head in his hands. “They want me to go traipsing about Europe and god knows where else and look at art, all in the name of searching for something that doesn’t exist. Art, Christopher.”

“That, indeed, sounds terrible.” Christopher Bailey—or the Duke of Waltham depending on one’s degree of intimacy with him and his household—poured two fingers of brandy into a cut crystal glass with the family seal etched on the side. He had his back to Edward, but the shake of his shoulders made Edward wonder if the duke used the opportunity to chuckle at him. Perhaps visiting the family estate on the small chance his brother would suggest a solution hadn’t been such a good idea.

“You know I don’t drink alcohol,” Edward told him, and he had to admit to himself how peevish he sounded.

“No, but I do.” Christopher turned around and raised his glass. “Cheers.”

So it begins, the deterioration of order and sanity, and we haven’t left yet.

“Are you sure you don’t want anything?” Christopher asked. “I have some coffee from our holdings in Jakarta.”

“Your holdings,” Edward said. “You’re the duke, I’m the younger brother. You inherit everything, I’m content to spend my life drawing a decent, livable salary at the University. You make heirs. I write papers. We do what we’re good at, and for me, that does not include traipsing to goodness knows where and searching for goodness knows what.”

“But there is no harm in challenging yourself.”

Edward drew himself up. “I have all the challenge I need in my work, which is now going to be hopelessly delayed. I have papers I was going to finish this summer.”

“Speaking of which, Mary has written her first article and was hoping her Uncle Edward would peer review it for her.”

Edward groaned, but he had to smile when his niece, accompanied by her mother, entered the parlor and gravely presented a set of papers folded in half, the edge bound with string. On the front, printed in neat child’s scrawl, was “On the Habits of Earthworms”.

“I put it in a journal for you, Uncle,” she said. “It’th on worms.”

He took it with a serious expression. “And did you follow the experimental protocol we discussed the last time I was here, of careful observation at regular intervals?”

“Yeth, Uncle,” she said.

She’s the only scientist I know with a lisp.

“She did very well,” her mother, the Duchess said. “And she hopes you will give her work the serious consideration it deserves.”

He heard the note of warning. The Duchess, formerly Miss Pauline Danahue, had been Miss Ellis’s predecessor and had charmed the Duke on one of his infrequent visits to the department. While Edward was happy for his brother, he never forgave him for stealing away the best secretary they’d had. Not to mention his setting a dangerous precedent. Edward was sure Miss Ellis now hoped to marry into a title after hearing of what happened to Miss Danahue.

“I will read it with the utmost seriousness,” he said and set it beside him. Mary climbed on the couch and leaned her head on his arm. The weight of her head barely disturbed him, but what did one do with a seven-year-old child?

“Thank you, Uncle.”

“Mary, come sit beside me,” the duchess said. “You’re baking your uncle.”

With another sigh of long-suffering, the little girl complied.

“Well, your uncle is about to embark on a grand adventure,” Christopher said.

“An adventure?” Mary jumped up from the ottoman where her mother tried to settle her and ran back to Edward. She put both hands on his knees and looked at him with the big blue Bailey family eyes. “What kind of adventure?”

“Yes, Edward, what will this trip entail?” Now the duchess folded her hands in her lap and leaned forward with a look of absolute delight. “Do you have to travel far?”

“I don’t know. It depends.” How is the child, who hasn’t been farther than five miles from home, more excited about this than I am?

“It’s all rather a secret, Pauline,” said Christopher. “All he can say is that there’s a rich American backer for the trip, and he and Johann Bledsoe are going on the Grand Tour.”

“Can I go?” Mary asked. “Mummy says I’m a good traveler. I never get sick in our coach.”

“Oh, motion sickness. I hadn’t thought of that.” Edward’s stomach swayed at the mere thought of being on a ship. “This gets worse and worse.”

“Mary, come sit here. Of course you can’t go. Your uncle and his friend don’t want a little girl tagging along ruining all their fun.”

“No, but a big one will be,” Edward said before he could stop the words from coming out. Seasickness with the possibility of female witnesses—worse yet.

“Who?” everyone in the room asked.

Edward looked around, aware of the two pairs of blue eyes and one brown fixed on him. What concern is this of theirs? They seem almost giddy at the idea of me being in close quarters with a female for an extended amount of time.

“Her name is Iris McTavish,” he said, choosing his words as carefully as he would a combination of electrodes for one of his aether experiments, but he feared it was too late—he’d already incited an explosion of interest. “She’s an antiquarian, or seems to hope to be. Her father, an archaeologist, was to have come on the journey, but he’s ill.”

“Ah, yes, Irvin McTavish. A good Scotsman.” Christopher drummed his fingers on his knee as he tended to do when pulling up facts and figures from his mental ledger. “He’s been at the university forever. Wife died a few years ago of consumption. Rumor has it he’s dying from it too, but he’s been very close-lipped about what exactly is wrong with him.”

“What cause do you have to know of him?” Edward asked. “You’re of the business, not university, world.”

“My interest in the university didn’t end when I snatched Pauline away,” Christopher told him. “I’m in the habit of making a gift each year to support a scholarship for a promising student in the sciences. Last year it went to a young man in the new geology/archaeology department. McTavish was on the selection committee. I met him at the banquet. Remarkable fellow.”

“What’s so extraordinary about him?” Edward sat back and crossed his arms. “He’s not a real scientist.”

“Regardless, he has been able to illuminate the mysteries behind many ancient artifacts. They say his intuition is uncanny. Of course he uses his extensive knowledge to piece objects and facts together, but somehow he knows better where to start than anyone else.”

“But how, Papa?” Mary asked.

“Others have been trying to determine his secret methods for years, but none have had success. Rumor has it that he’s not ill at all but is recovering from a poisoning attempt from a jealous colleague.”

“Christopher!” The duchess inclined her head toward their daughter, but it was too late.

“Is someone going to poison Uncle Edward?” Mary asked, her voice rising to an ear-splitting pitch.

“Of course not.” The duchess stood and held out her hand. “Now I believe it is time for you to have your tea with your siblings. Cook has made your favorite cream puffs. Say goodbye to your uncle.”

“Goodbye, Uncle Edward. Will you bring me something?”

“I will try to remember to do so,” he said. He patted her “journal”. “And I shall bring this with me to read.”

The girl’s gap-toothed grin made a curious warmth bloom in his chest, and she hugged him.

“Thank you, Uncle Edward! God speed.”

Christopher and Edward stood when the duchess did, and she pecked Edward on the cheek.

“Take good care of yourself and your rakish friend, Mister Bledsoe. His violin will be missed at the summer concerts.” She swept out with Mary in tow, leaving Edward to his brother.

“Cream puffs?” asked Edward.

“Of all that just transpired, you would remember the pastries. Your sweet tooth hasn’t changed, brother.” Christopher rang the bell for the maid. “But as much trouble as I’m in with Pauline over what I told you in front of Mary, it’s good you know the rumors. You had best be on your guard on your travels.” He paused and gave Edward a look that mixed affection, tolerance and concern. “More than you normally would be.”

Eros Element, the first book in the Aether Psychics series, will be available on August 25 from all online retailers in paperback or electronic format.

Preorder links:
Barnes & Noble
Google Books
Samhain Publishing
(also available from Apple/iTunes, but I can’t find the direct link)

You can also go here for another excerpt: Random Writings Blog

If you’re interested in checking out some of my writing at a discount price, my second book Long Shadows is currently on sale for 99 cents (ebook). Click here for more info. It’s the second in a series, but I wrote them all to be written as standalone novels, too.

"Why yes, I did inspire the creation of the hero.  Can't you see why?"

“Why yes, I did inspire the creation of the hero. Can’t you see why?”

Thanks so much for reading! I think Bailey the cat would be happy, or at least amused. Please comment below on your favorite pet, or if you don’t do pets, your favorite dessert for the chance to win an advance electronic copy of Eros Element. Like Edward, I’m a sucker for a good cream puff. Be sure to include your email and what format you’d like the prize in (.mobi, .epub, or .pdf). I’ll announce the winner in the comment thread tomorrow.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This