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Laura Strickland: Dead Handsome (A Buffalo Steampunk Adventure)

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About Dead Handsome

Clara Allen needs a husband in order to keep a roof over the heads of her assorted dependents, a roof her nasty grandfather will re-appropriate unless she is married by her 21st birthday, only a few days away. Strong-minded, unwilling to take orders from any man, she decides to solve her problem by raising a murdered prisoner from the dead and marrying him. She expects an empty-headed puppet; she certainly never dreams he’ll be so devastatingly handsome.

Liam McMahon doesn’t recall much about his life before his hanging in the prison yard, other than being Irish. He does remember the kiss Clara bestowed as she brought him back to life. Every time he looks at her, his desire gets out of hand. But his former life is chasing him down like a steam engine, and when a couple of mad geniuses decide he’d make a fine experiment, he wonders if he’ll live long enough to claim Clara’s heart or if he’ll die all over again.

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Excerpt

“Now remember,” Clara whispered to her husband, “don’t say anything about having been in jail. Or having been dead.”

perf5.000x8.000.indd“What do you take me for?” Liam shifted uncomfortably inside his suit and adjusted his tie one more time. They stood on the doorstep of a splendid house – a mansion, really – on Delaware at Edward Street, waiting for the door to open. And all he could think about was tearing the dress off his wife’s body and having his way with her yet again. As if twice had not been enough. Quite possibly, he could not get enough.

The taste of her still lingered on his lips, the sweetest thing ever to grace them. He remembered the places he had put his tongue and felt half mad to put it there once more. By God, she –

The door swung open and he found himself faced with a mechanical man. He’d heard of them, of course, but could not remember – for he could remember so little – if he had ever seen one up close.

“I should have warned you,” Clara murmured. “My grandfather keeps a number of mechanical servants – the ordinary sort will not stay with him long.”

“Good afternoon, Miss Clara. Please come in.”

The butler’s voice box clicked when it spoke. Its body, made of silver alloy, stood as tall as Liam but was much thinner and its surface had been sculpted to resemble a suit of clothes. It turned to lead them with a distinctive puff of steam. Clara knew it had an internal combustion chamber where a human’s guts might be.

“Thank you, Max,” she said and tightened her grip on Liam’s arm. They stepped in.

And oh, the house was like a picture drawn to intimidate, everything perfect and in place, not like walking into a real dwelling at all. A large entry hall opened from the door, with a black and white marble floor and flowers on tables so highly-polished they gleamed. A double staircase curved in two branching arcs just ahead but the steam butler led them to a door on the right.

“Miss Clara, your grandfather had us bring him down to receive you in the parlor.”

“How is he, Max?” Liam admired the calm in Clara’s voice but he could feel her tension flowing into him through the contact point of her arm on his.

“Much the same, Miss Clara.”

The butler hauled the door of the chamber open; they went in.

A vast room, well-proportioned, languished in gloom. Even though the sun shone brightly outside, the draperies on all the windows had been drawn. Liam found it difficult to locate his host at first. But a lamp burned on a table and beside it sat a wizened figure in a push chair. Clara’s fingers dug into his arm again.

Aye, and he would be careful. He understood what was at stake–his right to her bed, for one thing.

About the Author

AuthorPhoto_DeadHandsome copyBorn in Buffalo and raised on the Niagara Frontier, Laura Strickland has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. To her the spunky, tenacious, undefeatable ethnic mix that is Buffalo spells the perfect setting for a little Steampunk, so she created her own Victorian world there. She knows the people of Buffalo are stronger, tougher and smarter than those who haven’t survived the muggy summers and blizzard blasts found on the shores of the mighty Niagara. Tough enough to survive a squad of automatons? Well, just maybe.

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Guest Author Cindy Spencer Pape Talks About Kilts!

There’s something about a man in a kilt that fires the imagination of women all over the world. Is it the ability to see strong, sexy legs? The curiosity about what he’s wearing underneath? There’s a lot of speculation about why, but my personal belief is that wearing a kilt signifies a man with the courage and cockiness to risk being called “girly” by his peers. That kind of confidence can’t help but be sexy.

victoriansteampunkSMThe wearing of the kilt as we know it has undergone a lot of changes through history. First of all, it was originally a Highland-only garment, considered primitive, even barbarous by Lowland Scots. However, Connor, in Cards and Caravans is certainly a Lowlander. Yet he does wear a kilt. That’s because Queen Victoria, who adored all things Scottish, popularized the garment so much that during her reign, even many English nobles got in on the act. This is when the idea of specific clan-only tartans was truly solidified. Our Scottish Knights of the Round Table certainly wouldn’t have let those pesky Englishmen steal a march on such a symbol of Scotland. So in the world of the Gaslight Chronicles, the MacKay men are proudly kilted.

Along with their popularity, kilts themselves have changed over the years. Originally, the garment was little more than a blanket—a long piece of wool, pleated and held around the waist with a leather belt and at the shoulder with a heavy pin. It could be worn up as a cloak or left to hang from the waist in warm weather. Underneath, the leine, a waist-length shirt was often made of heavy canvas and even quilted for additional protection from elements or enemies. Today, we call this a great-kilt, and you can often see them at Renaissance fairs. The great kilt shown is an inexpensive American fabric-store plaid, not any particular tartan.

great_kiltSMThe modern kilt was first seen about 1725, and consists of just the bottom part of the great kilt, but with the pleats sewn into the waistband, which usually fastens with straps and buckles. The flat front pieces overlap, so there are two layers in front, and the pleats in back. Sometimes a scarf-like fly plaid is worn from the shoulder to hearken back to the look of the great kilt. The loden-green argyle jacket shown here is from the late Victorian era, but any tweed coat can be worn by day, and a black Prince Charlie coat turns the modern kilt into evening wear. The purple plaid shown here is Pride of Scotland, a festival plaid that may be worn by everyone. The green is Irish Heritage.

modern_kiltSMFinally, the newest evolution in the kilt is the utility kilt, or commando kilt. These are made of heavy cotton fabrics or even leather and often have pockets. Worn by everyone from punk rockers to construction workers, these continue to gain in popularity. Typically worn with combat or work boots, or even sneakers, and modern casual shirts. This is the look, even though the kilts are plaids. Thanks to my spouse and younger offspring for being unwitting models.

Incidentally, the idea that one shouldn’t wear anything under a kilt has been denied by the Scottish Tartan Authority. Tartans Authority director Brian Wilton said kilt wearers should have the “common sense” to realise they should wear underwear beneath their country’s national dress. While some modern kilt wearers like the idea of swinging free in the breeze, others, including the “models” in each of these pictures, comment that sitting on rough benches and hay bales at festivals is something you don’t want to do while “regimental.”

I hope you’ll enjoy this little peek at my Victorian Scots, the latest installment in my Gaslight Chronicles steampunk romance series. Thanks so much to Susana for having me here today.

Contest

In conjunction with the release of Cards & Caravans, Cindy is running a contest for a $25 gift card to the e-book distributor of your choice, plus the chance to name a character in the next Gaslight Chronicles story. To enter, visit the “Contact Cindy” page on her website and send her a note. Mention which blog you saw this on and some little detail about the post. One entry per person per blog post. The complete rules and a list of post locations and dates are available on the “Contest” page on Cindy’s site.

About the Book

cards&caravans_coverSMCards & Caravans is book 5 in the Gaslight Chronicles steampunk romance series, and releases from Carina Press on March 18. Find out more here.

http://ebooks.carinapress.com/18727CC7-852D-47A9-82EC-607006CCC718/10/134/en/ContentDetails.htm?ID=08A461B6-C699-4EAB-9A65-61DEE96E1C08

Blurb: Belinda Danvers isn’t a witch. But that won’t stop them burning her at the stake…

Connor McKay can tell at a glance that Belinda’s magickal powers are minimal at best. She can’t be guilty of murdering village children. There’s something suspicious about her arrest and lightning-quick sentence. Unfortunately, telling anyone how he knows would mean revealing his own powers. He’s been sent by the Order of the Round Table to help and he can’t just let her die.

Escaping from jail and running from vindictive villagers in her grandfather’s steam-powered caravan is more excitement than Belinda’s had in years. And despite the danger—or maybe because of it—she loves the time spent with her sexy rescuer. But there’s more to his magick than he’s letting on…

There’s something going on that’s bigger than the two of them. It’s time for good to make a stand.

Review: 4 Stars from Romantic Times: “All the trappings of a good steampunk novel are here..but most enchanting of all is the love that develops between the hero and heroine.

About the Author

Cindy Spencer Pape firmly believes in happily-ever-after and brings that to her writing. Award-winning author of 16 novels and more than 30 shorter works, Cindy lives in southeast Michigan with her husband, two sons and a houseful of pets. When not hard at work writing she can be found dressing up for steampunk parties and Renaissance fairs, or with her nose buried in a book. Catch her online at:

Website: http://www.cindyspencerpape.com (http://bit.ly/ybxKjP )

Blog: http://cindyspencerpape.blogspot.com/

Newsletter group: http://yhoo.it/ni7PHo

Twitter: http://twitter.com/CindySPape

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/gjbLLC