Today is Teaser Tuesday in the book world and I thought it might be fun to share what I’m working on right now while The Light Within is in the hands of my talented editor.
Lady Fontaine & The Rum Pirates is my first steampunk novel and I’m hoping it will be available in the spring of 2016. Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter.
Claire Fontaine stormed out of the booksellers, her notebook clasped firmly to her chest with one hand while the other gripped her hat. Men jumped out of her way as she hurried down the steps to St. James Street where her carriage was waiting. Pennybaker jumped down from the hopper to open the door for her.
“My lady,” he said with a bow as she passed by.
“Pennybaker, please take me straight home.”
“Yes, my lady.”
She climbed into the carriage with a huff. “I never!” she said, whipping her gloves off to twist them in her lap. She huffed a few times, fighting to gain control over her temper. Opening her reticule, she took out a pencil and began scribbling furiously in her notebook. When the carriage pulled to a stop, she didn’t even bother to look up. Pennybaker opened the door and she stepped out, still writing as fast as her fingers would allow. She skipped up the stairs and past the footman into the hall of their townhouse.
“My lady Fontaine, your father is in the study and he wishes to see you,” said the butler as she passed.
“Yes, thank you,” said Claire, not bothering to look up. She turned left, pushing a hip against the study door.
“Father, you won’t believe what I…” she glanced up to find herself staring into a pair of soft brown eyes.
“Oh! I’m sorry, I…”
“Claire, I presume,” said the handsome stranger. He smiled and reached out a hand.
Claire placed her hand in his, ashamed at its bareness. She blushed as he held it to his lips. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know we had company,” she said.
“I didn’t realize that Mr. Fontaine’s daughter was so lovely.”
Claire blushed again, this time backing away from the young man who released her hand and watched as she crossed the room to the window. “Speaking of my father, where is he, sir?”
“He has just stepped out to fetch something. Were you needing him?”
“Oh no, I was just going to show him-“ She thought better of confessing her thoughts to this stranger and thrust her notebook behind her back.
“A sketch? May I see? My sisters can attest I am quite the judge of artwork. They are forever thrusting their masterpieces into my hands for assessment.”
Claire raised an eyebrow. “Really? Well, I do not think my work will compare to theirs overmuch. You would certainly find fault.”
“You judge yourself too harshly,” he protested. “Please, allow me to reassure you.” He held out a hand for the book.
Claire regarded him through narrowed eyes then, with an unladylike shrug, thrust the book into his hands and turned her back on him.
The young man took a seat on the sofa and opened the notebook. He turned page after page in silence. Claire promised herself she wouldn’t watch him as she inspected the volumes along the bookcase.
Claire turned to find him frowning over her book. She moved to stand behind the sofa, looking over his shoulder at the sketch of a corkscrew propeller.
“This is fascinating,” he said, tapping the page.
“Not quite the artwork your sisters produce, I’m sure.”
He laughed. “No, I much prefer it to the willows and the posies I am usually shown.”
“But where ever did you get this notion? A corkscrew propeller?”
An old man in an impeccable suit came into the room and stopped in front of them. He leaned in to glance at the sketch. “Oh bother, Weston. I am sorry. I should have known she would have that blasted notebook with her.”
“Daddy, please,” said Claire, reaching for the book. “He insisted on seeing it. I was only teasing him.”
“I was just saying, sir, how refreshing it is to see a young woman focused on something other than flora and fauna.”
“Ha! Well, you’ll be the only man in London to say so.”
The young man looked up at Claire and smiled. “Well, that shouldn’t surprise me, but it should still be said.”
Claire allowed half a smile to cross her lips. “Thank you, Mr…”
“Ah, Claire, this is Lieutenant Weston. He will be joining our expedition to the Americas. Weston, this is my daughter, Claire.”
Claire nodded her head demurely as he stood to bow.
“The pleasure is all mine, Miss Fontaine,” said the lieutenant.
Claire allowed her half smile to return before turning back to her place by the window.
“And what, may I ask, is the Lieutenant doing in our drawing room?”
“What an impertinent question,” Father responded. “He’s staying for supper. I hope that meets with your approval,” he added with a touch of sarcasm.
She raised an eyebrow and then nodded. “I suppose we can allow it. Shall I inform cook?”
Her father waved a dismissive hand. “I’ve already seen to all of that.”
“Well, then if you don’t mind, I’ll take my leave gentlemen. I’m sure you have business to discuss and I have work to do as well.”
Her father nodded and she headed for the door. A hand caught her wrist, pulling her up short. She stared down at the lieutenant’s hand and then up into his face, her chilly expression intended to freeze him on the spot.
“Please forgive my forward behavior, lady Fontaine. Your sketchbook,” he said, offering her the leather bound book.
She blushed and then took it from him with a short nod. “Thank you.”
He smiled. “The pleasure is all mine, Miss Fontaine.”
She studied him for a moment and his smile widened. Then, she turned on her heel and marched out of the room. She didn’t stop until she was in her own bedroom. Closing the door tight behind her, she fell against the door, her eyes scrunched tight as she inhaled and exhaled slowly, forcing her heart rate to calm itself.
“Such excitement is not conducive to creative focus,” she chided herself.
Taking her sketchbook to the desk, she laid it atop a stack of schematics and pulled a book from the shelf above. Mechanics for the Modern Man, a title that made her cringe, but she flipped through to the last chapter until she found her place. With a smile, she went to the window seat. Reaching up, she tugged on a rope hanging from the ceiling and the curtain flew open, swishing past her to reveal a small couch set into a balcony. Sunlight poured in from the large round window overlooking the city of London. In the distance she could see the masts of ships setting in the harbor. Her eyes sought out the tallest ship, its sails a bright indigo blue with a white crescent moon in the center of its mainsail. The HMS Maximus was the flagship of her father’s fleet and easily the most magnificent ship in the harbor. It held a secret, and she knew that was the true reason for the lieutenant’s presence tonight. No doubt her father had chosen him as the steward of his most prized possession. If Lt. Weston could carry it safely across the Atlantic to the Americas, then the world would be forever changed.
And she was determined to be a part of it. If she could just convince father…
Want to see more of what I’m picturing as I write? It is going to be an adventure to remember, and you can follow along through my Steampunk Fantasies board on Pinterest.
Follow Heather’s board Steampunk Fantasies on Pinterest.