Tuesday, April 27, 2021

No respectable woman... #LesFic #SteamPunk #MFRWHooks

Burn Baby cover

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately in Victorian England, working on the next volume of my steam punk trilogy The Toymakers Guild. So for today’s Book Hooks hop, I thought I’d share another bit of steam punk – though this story is set in Victorian period Hong Kong. “Her Own Devices” part of my F/F collection Burn, Baby: A Sapphic Six Pack. This excerpt, however, has no sexual content. Indeed, you might wonder where the lesbians are! 


A whisper of silk. A faint click of wooden heels against the paving stones. Lin Xiao Chung strode along Des Voeux Road as swiftly and silently as her voluminous skirts and breath-stealing corset allowed. During the day this street would be clogged with pushcarts and carriages but now, on the cusp of midnight, Lin encountered no one. She had released the chair and bearers near Central Market in order to continue on foot. Lin was on the master's business—delicate business—and the fewer souls who knew, the better.

Mist haloed the gas flames that lit her flickering way. A sticky fog rose from the harbor, redolent of rotting fish and human waste. Lin ignored the familiar stench, turning uphill onto Chiu Lung Road. Orange lantern-light filtered from the shuttered stalls. Incense from family shrines sweetened the air. As she crossed Queens Road, a carriage clattered by. Her slender form melted into the shadows of a doorway.

Lin scanned the empty thoroughfare through her veil, concentrating on slowing the heart that beat frantically under her snug bodice. A sliver of moon glimmered overhead. Lin murmured a quick prayer to Chang'e, asking for help in her venture. One gloved hand strayed to the blade belted under her tablier overskirt. It was always advisable to be prepared.

The moon disappeared, blotted out by a giant airship on its way to the dirigible port in Repulse Bay. The bulbous craft sailed over Victoria Peak and out of view in a matter of seconds. Lin's brows knotted into a frown. Christopher Burton's revolutionary hybrid engine had cut the England to China voyage from months to weeks—for military as well as civilian purposes. Every day now, the British tightened their hold on the Imperial throat.

Lin didn't really care about politics. Now, however, Burton had applied his engineering genius on a more intimate scale, threatening her master's fortunes. This concerned her very much indeed.

She paused before the granite facade of Burton's house, catching her breath. According to the master's spies, the butler and housekeeper should both be off-duty this evening. Burton was reportedly a strange creature, unlike the other white barbarians. Despite his enormous wealth, he kept only a small staff. He preferred hiking the scrubby, solitary hills of the island to the balls and card parties frequented by the other English. It was rumored that he was fluent in the dialects of both Canton and Peking.

Lin brushed the dust off her gown and arranged her features into a mask of composure. The doorbell echoed in the bowels of the house and, after a moment, the heavy door swung open.

Well then! What a delicious surprise! What brings you to my threshold so late, my pretty?”

The figure in the portal was shorter than the average Englishman Lin had met, clean-shaven with cropped silvery hair. Brilliant blue eyes burned in a tanned, mostly unlined face. A broad smile revealed unusually white, even teeth. Despite the hearty friendliness—indeed, the inappropriate informality—of Burton's greeting, Lin sensed a challenge, a wariness that fit with her knowledge of Burton's checkered history.

The owner of the house wore well-fitting wool trousers and waistcoat, his shirt open at the collar and rolled up to just below the elbow. Lin noticed a gold loop piercing one shapely ear. The rumors were true. This was no gentleman.

Lin's English was precise, with only the faintest trace of an accent. “Please accept my apologies for disturbing you at such a late hour, sir, but I wish to confer with you on a private matter. May I enter?”

Of course. Please. Where are my manners?” He stood aside, making a gesture of welcome. “Come into my parlor. I was just reading and enjoying some sherry, which I would be delighted to share. My servants are off tonight, however. We will be completely alone. I hope that you are not overly concerned for your reputation.”

Lin could not miss the mockery in his voice. Of course no respectable woman would show up on a strange man's doorstep in the middle of the night.

Buy Links

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DMYQCH9

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07DMYQCH9

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/838852

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/burn-baby-lisabet-sarai/1128902422?ean=2940155289302

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/th/en/ebook/burn-baby-a-sapphic-six-pack

Audio Book - Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Burn-Baby-Sapphic-Six-Pack/dp/B07QZYKG9T

Audio Book – Audible (get it free with sign-up!): https://www.audible.com/pd/Burn-Baby-A-Sapphic-Six-Pack-Audiobook/B07QYX8LGT

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40532328-burn-baby

Be sure to check out the other authors participating in today’s blog hop!


Janet Lane Walters said...

What an interesting world you've created

Anonymous said...

I was wondering about the issue raised in the last line. This is, after all, Victorian Hong Kong.

Fiona McGier said...

AS always, your excerpts draw the reader to want to learn more. Sneaky that way! LOL.

Maggie Blackbird said...

I love the imagery, and the air of mystery painted in the scene. Great way to end the piece, too!

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