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New Release | Plague Doctor: A Buffalo Steampunk Adventure by @LauraSt05038951 #steampunk #romance



Title: Plague Doctor: A Buffalo Steampunk Adventure

Author: Laura Strickland

Genre: Steampunk Romance

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press


Book Blurb:


A menace stalks the streets of Victorian Buffalo. Costumed like a medieval physician, it brings panic, sickness, and death to a city already in turmoil over automaton rights. Fresh off a boat from Poland, Kasper Czak can’t let politics or mysterious figures deter him. He’s willing to work anywhere for an honest wage, including as caretaker at the Lost Waifs Orphanage.


Tori Anderson, a young woman with a withered arm, also works at Lost Waifs, where there’s never enough time, hands, or money for their young charges. Locked down at the orphanage with ailing children, cranky steam units, and the handsome Kasper, Tori wonders if she’ll survive. But when she comes face to face with the plague doctor, she discovers her true strength.


Excerpt:


Mrs. Marner was what you might call hard-nosed. She usually shut down any hint of gossip. Would she deem talk of the mysterious plague doctor, who’d been sighted all around the city, as such?


For to that person did Daisy refer when she said he’d been sighted again. A plague stalked the streets of Buffalo, these warm summer days and nights. It seemed to be heralded by a terrible figure, glimpsed by witnesses both credible and otherwise.


Terrifying of aspect he was said to be, dressed from head to toe in a long cloak like that of a monk or a magician. He appeared from nowhere—and disappeared into the same. Moreover, he wore a mask, no ordinary mask this, but a bird-visaged horror like those of the medieval plague doctors long ago.


Those doctors had treated the Black Death in Europe. No one knew if this masked individual was truly a doctor, but he’d first appeared at the same time as a mysterious illness now scourging Buffalo.


Did he bring it, or come to cure it? That question was on everyone’s lips.


“Are any of our children sick?” Mrs. Marner asked in a whisper so harsh it sent a shiver up Tori’s spine.


Daisy replied, “Not so’s I can tell. Tori keeps checking on them, as do I. There’s the usual—runny noses and tummy aches.” Caused by their limited diet, Tori reflected. “But none of them symptoms.”


The mysterious illness was marked by a high fever. Its victims reportedly wanted to shed their skin and sometimes tried to claw it off. Headache and an intensely sore throat emerged a day or so later, and eventually dark purple spots on the skin. Those in a weakened state, such as the elderly or young children poorly nourished, succumbed once the spots turned black. So far, nearly half the victims hadn’t survived.


The black spots made everyone think of the plague of old, as did the appearance of the plague doctor on the streets of the city. Buffalo’s physicians, however, assured everyone this was not in fact the Bubonic Plague but some other heretofore unseen illness. It spread quickly, though, and—so it seemed—most readily in the city’s orphanages.


“Keep a close eye,” Mrs. Marner bade Daisy, “and bring me word immediately if any of our residents fall ill.”


“Sure and I will, Mrs. Marner. And I’ll keep a close eye out for the plague doctor.”


The two women went their separate ways, and Tori crept off with her soiled linens, unheard and unseen. She passed a room where, between rows of cots that contained sleeping children, an ancient steam unit mopped the floor. The unit creaked as it plied the mop, but none of the children stirred, far too used to the sound.


The three steamies worked here round the clock. There had been four until the laundry maid broke down and was declared past repair. Tori and Daisy were supposed to do twelve-hour shifts, but they rarely got away on time.


Tori had to admit Mrs. Marner, who had quarters behind her office on the ground floor, was on duty most all the hours of the day and night also.


The Lost Waifs Orphanage was owned and mostly funded by an ancient woman called Miss Radmacher, daughter of a wealthy man. Tori had never seen her but knew she lived in a fine house up on Bidwell Parkway. Mrs. Marner made a point of never speaking ill of Miss Radmacher, though she did remark it was difficult to run the orphanage on the funds they were allowed.


Mrs. Marner had applied for extra help after the last steam unit broke down and had been given permission to hire the new caretaker. Tori had only seen him in passing when he’d started that morning—a tall young fellow who probably had no idea what he’d gotten into.


She shoved open the door to the laundry room, a dank chamber tacked onto the back of the orphanage behind the kitchen. Only one dim light burned there. They rarely had coal enough to keep the steam plant in the cellar running at full capacity to light the house well. Tori’s footsteps echoed off the walls, and Becky, the broken laundry unit, stood slumped in the corner, looking ghostly and vacant.


“I hate this place,” Tori said aloud, and that echoed also. She wished once again she could find work elsewhere. But she had her mother to worry about. Ma suffered from rheumatism, yet still went out to work when she could, cleaning other people’s houses. Anyway, potential employers took one look at Tori and shook their heads. No one wanted to hire a worker with only one good arm and a slightly gimpy leg.


People Tori met often asked her how she’d got this way, whether she’d suffered some accident. The fact was she’d been born with a withered left arm and one leg turned inward. She’d learned to cope with the leg. Her long skirts covered most everything, and she could move without a stick. The arm was a problem, though—no hiding it, and it hampered her activities.


It made people stare.


She drew the wringer washer out from the wall on its rollers, and dumped the sheets into the tub. She’d have to fill it with water and run the sheets through the mechanism or there wouldn’t be enough clean linen for tomorrow. Upon such dismal necessities did her life run.


As she turned to snatch up the bucket, she thought she caught a movement from the corner of her eye, and her heart leaped. Had Becky moved? But no, Becky couldn’t move; she’d been shut down, and her joints were probably rusted fast from the damp.


It was a shadow she’d seen move. She turned toward the door. Maybe Daisy had followed her down.


No one there.


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Author Biography:


Multi award-winning author Laura Strickland delights in time traveling to the past and searching out settings for her books, be they Historical Romance, Steampunk or something in between. Her first Scottish Historical hero, Devil Black, battled his way onto the publishing scene in 2013, and the author never looked back. Nor has she tapped the limits of her imagination. Venturing beyond Historical and Contemporary Romance, she created a new world with her ground-breaking Buffalo Steampunk Adventure series set in her native city, in Western New York. Married and the parent of one grown daughter, Laura has also been privileged to mother a number of very special rescue dogs, and is intensely interested in animal welfare. Her love of dogs, and her lifelong interest in Celtic history, magic and music, are all reflected in her writing. Laura's mantra is Lore, Legend, Love, and she wouldn't have it any other way.


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Laura Strickland Author @LauraSt05038951

3 comentarios


Barbara Bettis
03 nov 2022

Another one of your fantastic books, Laura! I look forward to reading it. Best of luck, my friend.😀

Me gusta

Anastasia Abboud
Anastasia Abboud
02 nov 2022

Wow! This sounds amazing! Congratulations on the new release!

Me gusta

N. N. Light
N. N. Light
02 nov 2022

Thank you, Laura, for sharing your new release with us! What a great cover!

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