Jack the Ripper might be in town. But is marriage more terrifying?
In an alternate Deep South in 1890, society reporter Adele de la Pointe wants to make her own way in the world, despite her family’s pressure to become a society wife. Hoping to ruin herself as a matrimonial prospect, she seizes the opportunity to cover the recent Jack the Ripper-style murders for the newspaper, but her father’s dashing new intern suggests a more terrifying headline—marriage.
Dr. Phillip Rawley’s most daring exploit has been arriving at his new home in America in a hot air balloon. A tolerable sacrifice, if it means he can secure the hand of his new employer’s daughter in a marriage of convenience. But Adele works, she’s spirited, and she has an armored pet monkey running her errands. Not only does she not match his notions of a proper lady, she stirs up feelings he’d rather keep in tight control.
With Adele hunting down a headline and Dr. Rawley trying to protect and pursue her, a serial killer is spreading panic throughout Mobile, Alabama. Can Adele and Rawley find the murderer, face their fears, and discover true love?
Good God, what kind of creature was this?
Phillip ducked into a nearby alcove, unspent frenetic energy coursing a seductive path through him, and stared in awe at the scene playing before him. He’d been ready to give away his presence and jump to her defense, but Loki had handled it quite effectively.
And now she was grinning?
She definitely was the strangest creature he’d ever encountered. She appeared to enjoy it.
He’d followed her, of course, not willing to see her come to harm. She reached her vehicle, humming a jaunty tune, and tucked Loki into a basket.
Hands fisted at his sides, Phillip stepped from the shadows, angered and wanting her to know it, the contrast of his concern with her lackadaisical attitude so jarring, it had to be addressed. “What do you think you were doing?”
She jerked, and her eyes widened. “Dr. Rawley!” The excitement lent her cheeks a charming pink glow.
His breathing came faster. Blood rushed to his groin. The witchy woman caused his body to react in an annoying manner.
She stepped toward him. “You followed me.” No recrimination colored her tone, just simple surprise, as if shocked he’d put in the effort on her behalf.
“Someone had to keep an eye on you.” His gaze locked on her lush lips. Dropped to her bosom, her rapid breathing making them rise and fall in a most becoming manner.
And he couldn’t help it–he cupped her face, pushed her against the wall, and crushed her mouth with his. Heat speared through him, tightening his loins. Just one taste of that fire, that energy. He had to feel that energy, experience that energy. He had to know that energy. What made her unsuitable also made her so delectable. Just. One. Taste.
Then all thought fled but for the enjoyment of her soft lips. When she opened them slightly, he groaned and took advantage, tasting her. She tasted of excitement. Of freedom. Of danger. And it sizzled through him.
Her arms encircled his neck, and he needed no further encouragement. He pressed against her, the fabric of her bustle scrunching against the brick wall. It cushioned her hips so they pressed toward him, her soft curves molding against him, making him lightheaded. Her lavender scent enveloped him, mixing with the taste, the experience of her, firing him further.
He pulled away, breathing hard. Her eyes were now a darker brown, and her face more flushed.
His chest tightened with horror and shame. Shame for his weakness, horror for the mess he’d created.
Hands shaking, he picked his top hat off the ground where it had fallen, brushed it off, and placed it back in position. “Pardon me. I don’t know what came over me.” He gulped in air and gazed around.
He’d kissed her. Brazenly. And on a public street.
“It’s perfectly all right. I understand.”
“You do?” His voice came out a tad high.
“Of course.” She rubbed his arm. “Being a man of daring and high passions, you were caught up in the moment. Perfectly understandable, I assure you.”
High passions? Daring? This woman had him all wrong. “I’m not such as you describe.” Not if he could help it. Revulsion choked him—as if his body recoiled from the blood he inherited from his mother. Her blood would not control him. Passion was a weakness. A weakness any sane, rational man worked hard to avoid. A weakness he had no notion he harbored until meeting Miss de la Pointe.
No. She had him all wrong.
“Yes, yes, I know. You like to pretend you’re not, but I have you figured out.”
A thread of unease settled in his gut, and he pulled on the lapels of his frock coat. If she truly knew him—as the plain, unemotional man he was–would her eyes dance as she looked upon him?
“Enough of this. It would be better for both of us if we forget what transpired.” He’d be damned if he was such a man as she saw.
Her eyes widened and then narrowed. He wasn’t sure he liked that look. It was a look that didn’t bode well. “You’re the one who kissed me, sir.”
“True. I apologize.” But you kissed back…
Just thinking about her response made his blood heat all over again. He must get away from her. To think about what happened and what it meant. She befuddled his brain. An ordered life was what he wanted, not one that could be made topsy-turvy at a moment.
She shook her head, but only said, “Apology accepted. Do you need a ride?”
He fiddled with his cravat and stickpin. “If you don’t mind, thank you.”
But as she stood there, all calm composure with her hand slightly extended for his elbow, his sister’s word rattled through him. Coward.
Egad. Could she have the right of it? Could his insistence on Miss de la Pointe’s unsuitability be a mask to cover his fear he wasn’t enough to hold someone like her?
Angela is a geek girl romance writer. What makes her romances geeky? Whether it’s fan girling over Ada Lovelace by having her as a secondary character in Must Love Breeches, or outright geek references with geek types in her romantic comedy with paranormal elements, Beer and Groping in Las Vegas, or going all Southern steampunk in Steam Me Up, Rawley, she likes to have fun with her romances and hopes her readers do too.
Angela works at an independent bookstore and lives in an historic house in the beautiful and quirky town of Mobile, AL. When she’s not writing, she enjoys the usual stuff like gardening, reading, hanging out, eating, drinking, chasing squirrels out of the walls and creating the occasional knitted scarf. She’s had a varied career, including website programming and directing a small local history museum, and has discovered that writing allows her to explore all her interests.
She has a B.A. in Anthropology and International Studies with a minor in German from Emory University, and a Masters in Heritage Preservation from Georgia State University. She was an exchange student to Finland in high school and studied abroad in Vienna one summer in college.
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