WATCHMAKER’S HEART – On sale March 1, 2016
About the book –
London, 1898: For Miss Phoebe Lockswell, fashionable London tea parties and balls aren’t her style. Instead, she prefers to tinker tirelessly with a clockwork diffuser she’s built from scratch. If only she can get the invention to work on command, she might earn her way out of an arranged marriage to a repugnant member of the House of Commons.
London watchmaker Mortimer Kidd was brought up hard in the arms of an infamous London gang. Despite the respectability he strives for now, the gang leader is blackmailing him. When Mortimer sees Phoebe’s diffuser, he thinks he’s found a way to buy himself out of trouble. The brash Phoebe manages to steal his heart, however, before he can purloin her invention.
Will Mortimer’s unsavory past catch up to him before he convinces Phoebe of his devotion? Worse, once Phoebe learns the truth, will she ever trust him again?
The set up for the excerpt: Phoebe tinkers with clockwork machines and one in particular she’s very proud of: a diffuser for use with aromatic blends. So, this day before this scene, she ran away to the Royal Mechanical Exposition, in Southend-on-Sea, even though her father forbid her from going.
“I can’t remember any Expo,” Phoebe lied. Cora, you are dead when I see you!
“Don’t see how you forgot,” her brother interjected. “Did you find anything interesting there?”
Phoebe narrowed her eyes, angling her head to see the story he pointed to. The word “Expo” stood out in bold letters above a sepia toned photograph of a crowded hall. Beneath that, a story about suffragettes and she briefly wondered if Cora might be attending some meeting tonight.
“A good question,” her father continued, his age-softened face turning red in an attempt to keep from screaming, she hoped. “I thought you took your tittering brass music box with you.” His glare said he knew already that she had.
“Really, Father,” she said, ripping a biscuit in two and planning to do the same to her dear friend Cora as soon as she saw her.
“After I expressly forbid you from showing that obscene thing to anyone!”
Phoebe buttered the biscuit, trying to think of how to save this situation and hoping for the best. “I don’t remember anything about an Expo. I do want to hear about your meeting with Sir Evans, though.”
“Young lady, I suspect you’ll have plenty of time to remember,” Father roared, “since you are to stay to our home for the next two weeks. You’ll have plenty of time to think, while you help your mother with her correspondence.”
Phoebe blinked. “Father, I protest—”
“Starting today,” he said.
“But I had plans.”
He poured tea into his cup, ignoring her. After an unbearably long silence he added, “I should ground you for the rest of your life. However, Sir Dugard is attending Miss Smythe’s party, so you must go.”
God spare her! Why must Dugard ruin the party for her? Maybe accepting Father’s punishment would be preferable. “Yes, sir.”
“He, along with several other eligible gentlemen,” Mother said as she entered, perfectly arranged in a fashionable silk morning gown, her long brunette hair piled up on her head in a bun, she exuded an air of elegance Phoebe envied. Mother and Father kissed, then she bestowed a kiss on her son and took her seat between them. “Between Miss Cora’s party and our dinner, next month, we can’t help but find someone to accept you, my sweet.”
Phoebe stabbed at a slice of ham. Let them try to find her a husband. She had no intention of accepting anyone, for her part. Not yet, at any rate. Least of all the corpulent Sir Dugard. Any punishment her father doled out would be preferable to spending time with Sir Fat Pig.
The butler entered the dining room then and Phoebe could’ve kissed him for interrupting. “Sir Dugard has arrived, sir,” he announced.
She groaned and dropped her head into her hands.
“Smile, my dear,” Father said. “He loves you, after all.”
“You love his money, is the truth of it,” she grumped.
The fat man entered. He spread his arms as if to hug her from where he stood. She thanked her luck that his reach was too short. “Good morning, Miss Phoebe.”
She rose, curtseyed, and mumbled a good morning.
“My dear Mrs. Lockswell. You’re dashing this morning!” He kissed Mother’s hand.
“Phoebe,” her father said, as they regained their seats, “Sir Dugard was telling me last night of his forthcoming trip overseas.”
“Sorry to hear you’re leaving England, sir,” she said. Her father kicked her under the table. She hissed and leaned down to rub her shin. “When will you be leaving?”
Her father glared and took the hat from her head, setting it behind him on the buffet table. The maid conspired with him and pushed it behind the vase full of daisies.
Phoebe glared right back at them. She tipped her head, studying the china teapot intently as the maid filled Sir Dugard’s cup.
“I’m going this autumn,” Dugard said. “To Japan. Have you ever been to the Orient, Miss Lockswell?”
“Not that I recall.”
“We went to India when she was a babe,” Mother said.
“Oh. This will be my second trip,” Dugard said. “In the last year and a half.”
William cleared his throat calling Phoebe’s attention. “You’ve axle grease on your fingers,” he mouthed.
As Dugard explained his last trip in detail, Phoebe glanced at her hands. Brownish-black gunk still glazed the middle nail of her left hand. She slid her hand under the tablecloth and pulled up her skirt, buffing her nails with her petticoat and hoped it cleaned them well enough.
“It sounds divine,” she said when Sir Dugard paused.
“I can’t recall it myself,” she said, giving a last inspection to her nails.
“Don’t worry, I’ll record everything for you,” he said. “I plan to take a reporter with me.”
Satisfied they were clean she sought something else to do. Cherry-red tomatoes caught her attention and she plucked up a slice with a disinterested, “Do you?”
“Yes, I’m sure it will make an interesting series for the papers.”
“The trip might do you some good.”
That stopped her and she stared at him. “How so?”
“Well, perhaps you can submit a paper on my trip to the Royal Geographic Society,” he said. Dugard puffed his chest up as he dished out eggs and black pudding. A pure mountain of them if she wasn’t mistaken in thinking of the mound thusly. “I hear you’re interested in them.”
“That would be the Royal Mechanic Society,” William offered helpfully.
“More than they are of me,” she grumbled, glaring at her brother.
About the author –
Juli D. Revezzo loves fantasy and Celtic legend, and writing stories with all kinds of fantastical elements. She is the author of The Antique Magic series and the Paranormal Romance Celtic Stewards Chronicles series, New Adult romance Changeling’s Crown, and short stories published in ETERNAL HAUNTED SUMMER, LUNA STATION QUARTERLY, among others. She is also a member of the Independent Author Network and the Magic Appreciation Tour.