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SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: House of Dark Envy by Juli D. Revezzo

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When Sarahjane attends Lady Morville’s costume party, she never expects to learn her old beau Felix Gryffith is under the illustrious woman’s patronage and stands on the cusp of making a world-changing discovery. Felix, whose lies disgraced her in the eyes of the London elite by labeling her a flirt.

Felix’s love for Sarahjane has never wavered, despite the scandal that forced them apart. He’s desperate to tell her the truth, if he can convince her to listen.

Fate lurked in the shadows that night, years ago. Has it returned to grant Sarahjane and Felix their wishes, or terrorize them?

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EXCERPT

1884

Sarahjane twirled under Felix’s arm and tried to release his hand. He wouldn’t let her. “Felix, I can’t teach you the steps if you don’t let me go.”

“I don’t want to,” he said, his finger caressing up to her cheek. “Ever.”

But too soon, she broke away from him and approached the refreshment table. Relief and a little superiority filled Felix to know she only gave the other young men momentary glances. It wasn’t long before she left her friends and returned to him. “I need air,” she said.

Concern flooded Felix. “Are you unwell?”

“I won’t be if you get me out of here.”

Felix scanned the partygoers, seeking out her father, and his uncle and aunt. His parents had sent him to London not long after his accident, hoping the doctors here would be of more help than their own in Dublin. He owed his Aunt Penelope much for opening her doors to him.

Where were they? Ah, there. His beloved guardians stood to the far side of the ballroom, backs to them. They wouldn’t protest if he helped Sarahjane. He hoped.

So many of his uncle’s friends had also attended this party. He wished they hadn’t, or found other places in the large house—somewhere away from him—to congregate. Too many of them asked how he was doing with sympathy-laced voices he’d heard frequently, since his accident. Though years had passed since that awful day, he grew stronger.

He knew how to hide what needed hiding. He peered through the windows at the sky. No lightning rippled in the clouds overhead.

Sarahjane laid a hand on his arm. “Are you not feeling well, Felix?”

He met her gaze, could easily stand here all night studying her: her long, straight hair draped around her creamy skin, the light blush along her bosom a nice contrast to the dark, soft tendrils. Though he longed to brush just one lock away, propriety drew his hand to hers. “I’m all right.”

Her laughter sounded, soft and melodious. “No you’re not. You’re bored. Who can blame you?” Her smile turned mischievous. “What would happen if you set off one of your fireworks here?”

“Besides a headline?”

“No such thing will happen.”

“Won’t it?” he said. “I see something along the lines of ‘The House at Samhain Hedge lit up like a candle.’”

“It might put some life into this dull party.”

“Sarahjane.” He took her arm and led her onto the patio. The oil lamps from inside the house barely overtook the moonlight.

The façade of the house disappeared at the end of a sturdy blackthorn hedge. No flowers bloomed on the dark branches, but the scent of Mrs. Floyd’s late summer roses made Felix want to sneeze. He snorted, hoping to forestall the urge…

“You’re stalling!” she cried. “Show me your … fire, flares, whatever you call them. Please?”

“I’ve no idea what you mean.”

She poked a finger into his ribs. Her touch tickled. “Yes you do.”

He rubbed his temples as if his head hurt. “Sarahjane.”

“I said please. Shall I beg?”

Though he’d scolded her, he obliged her a little. A thin line of light traveled up the torch nearby, and flared.

Sarahjane gasped and laughed.

Her joy was worth the strain and flicker of pain in the scar across his back. He rolled his shoulders, gritted his teeth, until the shiver of it subsided.

“Did you do that?” she asked. “Truly?”

Felix shrugged. At least he hadn’t blown the thing up, this time. He hoped he’d get his new oddness under control, soon. By Taranis, I don’t need anyone finding out how different I am!

“But that’s not what I meant,” Sarahjane said. “The last time you did—” She wiggled her fingers. “—the thing you can do, the flare had a particular shade of orange in it I can’t quite reproduce properly.”

“What do you mean reproduce?” he asked.

“With my pigments,” she said. “Show me again?” She threaded her arm through his. “Please?”

“What will Mrs. Floyd think if I set her house on fire?”

“You won’t.” She slid her arm out of his and ran.

He followed her. She slipped into the garden, grabbing onto a wrought iron lattice to steady herself. Her laughter rang through the air. She swung herself around the lattice, and stopped before him, resting her delicate hand on his chest.

Her touch warmed him.

Sarahjane lowered her eyes. “Do it for me, Felix. I’ll give you a kiss, if you do.”

Felix swallowed back surprise and longing, glanced around the garden. Everyone was still inside. He ran a hand down her arm. “I’d love to kiss you,” he said. “But not after. I don’t want to hurt you.”

“You won’t.”

He feared it might be possible. His worry darkened as if storm clouds filled him. “I might.”

Sarahjane laced her arms around his neck. “Now, then. But don’t disappoint me.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

watchmaker's heart JuliDRevezzobJuli D. Revezzo loves fantasy and Celtic mythology 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, Gothic fantasy romance, Lady of the Tarot, Victorian romance Watchmaker’s Heart, and more. She is also a member of the Independent Author Network and the Magic Appreciation Tour. To learn more about this and future releases, visit her at: https://www.julidrevezzo.com/
Follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/julidrevezzo
Twitter: https://twitter.com/julidrevezzo
Blog: http://julismapsroom.blogspot.com/
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SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: Watchmaker’s Heart by Juli D. Revezzo

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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?

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EXCERPT

“I did find one man interested. On the train home. He’s a watchmaker, so, in essence, he’s a tinker too.”

“Excellent!” Cora clapped her hands, delighted. “What’s he like? Can he fix the diffuser for you? Maybe an extra hand would help.”

Phoebe narrowed her eyes thinking of Mortimer. “He’s charming.” She nodded to a vendor selling “ices” for a halfpenny, and waited a few steps more before she spoke again, “But I don’t know much about his skills. Though, truth to tell, he’s proficient with a flathead screwdriver.”

“Handsome would be enough for me.” Cora laced her arm through hers. “What family does he come from?”

Kidd. Despite the infamy of the name, Phoebe knew it had to be real. But no matter how many times she mulled the name over, she still couldn’t place a Kidd family in the area. “I have no idea,” she admitted. “One from out of town, maybe.” She twiddled the small watch pinned to her bodice. “Or just outside London.” Maybe. “I don’t know who Mortimer’s family is.”

“Mortimer,” Cora muttered.

Phoebe nodded.

“So, to top everything, you’ve already memorized his first name and what he does for a living?” Cora said.

“Yes. He thinks the goddess will work,” she said. “Even suggested I give it to—”

She glanced to Cora’s chaperone, strolling ahead, and clamped her mouth shut.

“Who?” Cora demanded.

Phoebe gulped. “I forget.”

Cora’s light eyes lit with mirth. “You do not! Tell me everything!”

She waved a hand, batting the conversation away. “No one important.”

“Important or exotic enough to make you uncomfortable.”

“I’m not uncomfortable,” Phoebe said and checked herself in the shop window to confirm. “He suggested … no one important. Certain of his own clientele.”

“Those shopping for what?”

“Watches, I suppose,” Phoebe said.

Pouting, Cora studied the striped dress adorning the mannequin posing in the window before them. “That ensemble is lovely, don’t you think?”

“I think it would suit you perfectly. Even if the red piping might clash with your Votes For Women sash.”

“I suppose you’re right.” Cora peeked at her out of the corner of her eye. “Did you know there’s a reception with the Indian prince’s harem, this weekend? He’s settling, temporarily, here for some thing or other.”

Phoebe gasped. “What on earth?”

“So I’ve heard,” Cora said, tugging on her sleeve. “Why don’t you go? Take your little goddess to them. See what they say about it.”

Could she? she wondered, looking at everything but her friend. “You know it doesn’t work.”

Phoebe spied Mortimer Kidd in the glass of the dressmaker’s window display. He strolled down the sidewalk on the other side of the street.

She spun on her heel, waved and called out, “Mort—Mr. Kidd! Good morning.”

Waiting only long enough for a carriage with three horses to pass, Mortimer crossed over to them. Narrowly missing a puddle, he stepped on to their curb, tipping his hat. “Good morning, Miss Lockswell.”

He took her hand, kissed it. A tremor slipped through her fingers into her heart.

Cora’s brows shot up.

Phoebe gave her a droll look, turned back to her new acquaintance, reluctant to let him go and disappointed when he relinquished her hand. “How nice it is to see you,” Phoebe said. “I didn’t know you frequented Bond Street.”

“But it is a pleasant surprise, is it not?” he asked. “To what do I owe this great fortune?” He tipped his hat to Cora. “Are you the reason; then I thank you, Miss. I wasn’t expecting such a blessing today.”

“Should I report you for following me?” Phoebe teased.

“Always,” he laughed.

“I say!” their chaperone protested.

He winked at the chaperone. “But what gentleman wouldn’t follow such pretty things as you?”

“Oh come,” Phoebe said, taking the chaperone’s arm. “He’s speaking in jest. If you must know, I’m spending the day with my friend, Miss Smythe.” She nodded to Cora. “What brings you here, Mr. Kidd?”

“Business,” he replied, with a disgusted twist of his lips. “But I was kept waiting too long.”

“Well now, that isn’t polite.”

“Which is why I’m no longer waiting! So, tell me, how is our little project coming along?”

“Oh, here we go,” Cora groaned, with a flip of her blond locks. “Must you mention that dreadful toy?”

“Pish! Don’t listen to her,” Phoebe complained. “In fact, since you left, it hasn’t worked.”

“It’s broken?” he asked. “What happened?”

“Not broken, per se, the valves simply aren’t opening—or something is clogging the hoses again, or—” She shook her head. “I don’t understand it!”

“It doesn’t even—” He paused, glanced to Cora and said, “Forgive me for asking such a question in front of you, miss—” Phoebe lit up under his attention, and hoped he didn’t notice how eager she was for it. “—but it no longer works for your parents?”

“No.” She screwed up her face in doubt. “Not that they’ve said. My father has been a little tense. I guess it’s picking up on that.”

“Excuse me?” he said.

“Everything in the world gives off a vibration,” Phoebe explained. “Even sound turns to vibration. Your watch, for instance, if you really pay attention the hands move and the watch vibrates.”

Mortimer tugged his watch from his pocket and held it for a moment.

She wondered if he would think her mad, but after a moment, he nodded and said, “I think I do feel something.”

She smiled. “Scientists theorize every emotion gives off a certain vibration—anger resonates at one frequency, love another. I’ve designed the goddess to pick up on the vibrations given off by love—” She looked at her friend who seemed mortified by the conversation, and trying to rearrange the contents of her reticule rather than listen. Phoebe was sure she’d know to what she referred next if she bothered to look up. “—Or in my test cases, the potential for it—and that, in turn fuels the mechanism that sets off the atomizer.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

watchmaker's heart JuliDRevezzobJuli D. Revezzo writes fantasy and romantic stories filled in with elements garnered from a lifetime love affair with magic, myth, witches, wizards, and fated lovers and legend. She is the author of The Antique Magic series and the Paranormal Romance Celtic Stewards Chronicles series, steampunk historical romance WATCHMAKER’S HEART, 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. To learn more about this and future releases, visit her at: http://julidrevezzo.com

Follow her on Instagram: http://instagram.com/julidrevezzo
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