Today I am delighted to share another steampunk find with you all! Below, please enjoy an excerpt from Gilded Hearts.
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Piper Smith is an Archivist, one who extracts memories from the dead-and her first job is more difficult than she ever imagined. Not only is her subject the victim of murder, but the first man to arrive on the scene is the last man she ever expected to see again: handsome, tormented, and devilishly sexy Samuel Hawkins. Years ago, he fled the Archivists' Guild unceremoniously, leaving behind both unanswered questions . . . and Piper's aching heart. Sergeant Samuel Hawkins of the King's Sentry can hardly believe the strong, beautiful woman before him is the same shy girl he once knew. His instincts scream to hold her, to kiss her, and to make amends for disappearing from the Archives-and her life. Yet when Piper's extraction of the victim's memories reveals something unsettling, the line between ally and enemy suddenly begins to blur. And the question becomes whether their fragile love will blossom or fade like a distant memory
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Author Bio:Christine d’Abo is hooked on romance. As a novelist and short story writer with over thirty publications, including the immensely popular Long Shots series, the imagination is always flowing. She loves to exercise and stops writing just long enough to keep her body in motion too. When she’s not pretending to be a ninja in her basement, she’s most likely spending time with her family and two dogs.
Excerpt:“I hate them.” Piper flinched, but she didn’t pull back. Swallowing hard, Samuel knew the rage building inside him would only continue to grow, fester like an infection until his soul was blackened. “I hate what they did to me. What they are still doing to you.”
Grabbing her by the arm, he pulled her into a bystreet, away from the storefronts and the growing
crowds. Pressing her against the wall, he turned his back to the street and let his rage show.
“Those bastards think they are doing something amazing for society. That they’re storing all this
knowledge for future generations to access. But do you know what they do with it? I found out quickly why the regular folk hate the zombies so much.”
“I don’t think that—”
“It’s nothing more than bloody politics. They manipulate parliament into setting policies that would
never normally pass. They direct the king to move his forces this way and that. Tell him who to attack and when to back away. They claim this knowledge comes from the memories of the dead. And there is no one to contradict them. They take little children from their families and put them into the guild, making them a cog in the machine of society.”
“That’s dangerously close to treason.” She dug her fingers into his arm. “And as much as I believe every word you say, you can’t prove it.”
As quickly as the rage crested, it fell away. “No one can. So they are allowed to continue, committing
who knows what horrors in the name of safeguarding the empire.”
“We can’t change the fundamentals of our society.”
“Maybe not, but that doesn’t mean we have to lie down and accept it either. I have no doubt that the
Archives were started with the best of intentions, but they have grown into something else. I have no
memory of my family, if I have any siblings. As far as I know I’m alone in the world. They did that to me. To you.”
She stood with her back pressed to the wall, her palms flat against the stone. Chin lifted, she stared
right into his eyes. “The Archives and the Guild Masters aren’t perfect. Yes, they took me from my mum so long ago that sometimes I wonder if the dreams I have of her are real or simply my own fantasies.
I wonder constantly of the life I would have now if I’d stayed there with her. Grown up under her
watchful eye until a time when I was to be married off. They took that life from me, but they gave me
something else. A place in society that I could never have obtained on my own.”
“I didn’t mean—”
“Yes you did.” Her chuckle was as sad as anything he could ever remember hearing. “Don’t worry. I’ve known since we were children how you felt. I wouldn’t expect years of living on the outside to change that perspective. Reinforce it, more likely.”
Christ. There shouldn’t be this gap between them. Yes, it had been five years, but they hadn’t changed that much since they’d last been together. If anything, they’d become more of what they’d always been. They’d grown into themselves, but still felt much the same as they had back then. About the Archives, and about one another. Dangerous indeed.
Keeping his gaze locked onto hers, Samuel tried once more to close the distance between them. He took a small step, watching for any sign that Piper didn’t want him. She didn’t move.
“I’m glad you were taken by the Archives, Pip.”
Her eyes widened as she pulled her shoulders back against the wall. The blast of annoyance he felt from her was only visible by the tightening around her mouth. Samuel chanced another step closer.
“If it meant that you were pulled from society, that another man wouldn’t be able to touch you, then I
will be forever grateful. Because you see,” he cupped her cheek, “even though we’ve never so much as kissed, you belong to me.”
“Sam…” Her lips parted and her warm breath heated his skin. So beautiful, so ripe for him to reach out and feast upon.
“Shhh, I need to fix something.”
“Do you trust me?” His voice sounded rough, seductive in a way he hadn’t intended. He was pleased
when her gaze didn’t waver and she didn’t pull away.
“Yes.” Piper’s breath caught in her throat as she slowly nodded. “Yes, I do.”
There was no way he could stop now. He didn’t care that they were in public, in front of God and every creature of New London. Samuel had wanted to kiss Piper since she was sixteen and he’d caught her staring at his mouth. In that moment there were no Guild Masters, no Archives to pass judgment.
Only Sam and Pip.
“I’m going to kiss you now.”