BOOK BLAST: A Pressing Engagement (Lady Darby #4.5) by Anna Lee Huber

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In this delightful novella from the national bestselling author of A Study in Death, Lady Kiera Darby has one last mystery to solve before she can walk down the aisle…

Scotland, 1831. With her wedding to fellow investigator Sebastian Gage only a day away, Kiera is counting down the hours. But just when matrimonial jitters threaten to consume her, Kiera receives a welcome distraction in the form of a mysterious gold necklace.

The Celtic torc, thought missing for decades, was directly involved in a recent investigation. Now, Kiera feels compelled to uncover the truth behind its sudden reappearance.

But with an overwhelming flock of wedding guests, a muddled cat, an unpaid favor, and a ferocious storm throwing things into disarray, it’s anyone’s guess whether Kiera and Gage will actually make it to the altar…

Includes an exclusive preview of the next Lady Darby Mystery, As Death Draws Near.

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Praise for the Lady Darby Mysteries

“[A] fascinating heroine…A thoroughly enjoyable read!”—Victoria Thompson, national bestselling author

“[A] clever heroine with a shocking past and a talent for detection.”—Carol K. Carr, national bestselling author

“[A] must read…One of those rare books that will both shock and please readers.”—Fresh Fiction

EXCERPT

02_A Pressing Engagement“Jock!” I exclaimed with delight. “When did you arrive in town?”

My impish cousin stood to kiss my cheek in greeting. “Just yesterday. Ye dinna think I’d miss out on the chance to see ye wed this rascal, noo, do ye?”

“Even so, it could not have been an easy journey on the muddy spring roads.” I settled down on the ivory brocade settee next to Gage.

“Any trouble it might’ve been ’twill be worth it.”

The sudden regard in Jock’s eyes was so unexpected that it actually made a lump form in my throat. I pressed a hand to my chest, having trouble finding my words.

Fortunately, Jock was not waiting for a reply. “Even Aunt Sarah says so, and ye ken how much she hates to travel.”

I blinked in shock. “Aunt Sarah also came?”

“Aye. And Uncle Andrew, along wi’ cousin Drew . . .” he lifted his eyes in thought and began ticking off several of our family members on his fingers ”. . . Rye, Uncle Owen, and Aunt Natalie. Oh, and Gilly.”

I glanced at Gage, momentarily speechless again.

“The others are restin’ and asked me to convey their regards. They’ll see ye at dinner tonight, but I wanted to bring ye something.” He reached behind him to hand me a flat, rectangular box wrapped in gold paper.

I took it gingerly, having learned long ago not to trust my cousin’s gifts. “What is it?”

He smiled at my obvious trepidation. “It’s an early wedding present.” When I still didn’t move, he laughed. “Open it.”

Gage was looking between us in confusion, so I explained. “I’m not going to lift this lid to find it’s filled with crickets, or a dead fish, or some other disgusting thing, am I?”

“What am I? Ten? O’ course not.” But his mischievous grin did not reassure me.

“Allow me,” Gage offered, taking the box from my hands.

I watched as he opened the lid and pushed back a layer of tissue paper to peer inside, ready to jump to my feet if necessary. When nothing sprang out at us, Gage tipped the package so I could see for myself. It was a necklace. More accurately, a torc, like those worn by members of ancient Celtic royalty and nobility. Its gold had dulled with age, but it still shone in the morning sunlight streaming through the windows behind us. Comprised of twisted gold ribbons, it was typical of Scottish design. Or so I’d read after doing some research when another such torc had been implicated in an inquiry Gage and I had conducted several months prior.

“Didn’t Celtic queens wear those?” Jock asked, lounging back against the cushions in his chair with a pleased smirk. “Seemed only fitting ye should wear something like it on yer special day, Kiera. Can’t think o’ anyone it’d suit more.”

I lifted the torc from the box to view it more closely. “Where did you find this?”

“Some curiosity shop off Canongate. They had all sorts o’ interesting trinkets. Even a set o’ tin
soldiers, like I played wi’ as a lad.”

But I was no longer listening, for something engraved into the rounded knobs at each end of the torc, where the necklace would rest against the front of the neck, had caught my eye. A series of swirls were etched into the metal there, winding into a center point at the very tip. It was a rather distinctive feature that at the same time seemed all too familiar.

“May I?” Gage asked, reaching for the torc, and I guessed he’d also noticed the design. I didn’t speak as he tilted the necklace from side to side to examine it.

“Striking, isn’t it?” Jock murmured.

“Yes,” Gage replied solemnly. “But I’m sorry to say this may have been stolen.”

Jock laughed. “I ken I’m a bit o’ a scamp, but I doubt my cousin would call me a thief.”

“Not by you,” I replied, taking the torc back from Gage.

My cousin’s mirth slowly faded. “Yer serious.”

I looked up to find him glancing between us in bafflement.

“But how could ye possibly ken such a thing?”

We both waited for him to come to the inevitable conclusion.

He sank back in his chair. “Because you’ve already been conductin’ an inquiry into it.”

“Not exactly,” I admitted. “But we are aware of a torc, which is described as being remarkably similar to this particular piece, that has gone missing.” I studied the necklace again. “In fact, I have a hard time believing it’s not the very same.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

03_Anna Lee HuberAnna Lee Huber is the Award-Winning and National Bestselling Author of the Lady Darby Mystery Series. She was born and raised in a small town in Ohio, and graduated summa cum laude from Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN with a degree in music and a minor in psychology. She currently resides in Indiana, and when not working on her next book she enjoys reading, singing, traveling and spending time with her family.

For more information please visit www.annaleehuber.com. Connect with Anna Lee Huber on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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