Title: Dead Handsome: A Buffalo Steampunk Adventure
Author: Laura Strickland
Genre: Steampunk Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
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.
“You do realize,” Clara said sternly to her new husband some hours later when the guests had gone and the chaos cleared, “this changes nothing. Between us, I mean.”
No reply. He sat in one of the parlor wing chairs with his head back and that unholy light in his eyes, half veiled. She’d been proud of him this day, she had to admit it. He’d taken only the one glass of sherry and behaved as she’d hoped of him. But she feared the worst was yet to come.
“Our arrangement,” she added delicately, “is a convenience, no more.”
He lifted those sinfully long, black lashes and gave her a look. Something in her heart stirred—or it might be lower down. Still he did not speak.
“Tomorrow you will meet my grandfather.” She drew a breath. “I will take you to his house and present you as my husband. I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of this.”
The corners of his mouth twitched. “So this would not be a good night for me to go out and get drunk?”
She rounded on him and then caught herself. He teased, no more. “It would not.”
“Then a good night’s sleep might be in order, instead.” He purred the words. When had his throat begun to heal? The very sound of his voice made her tremble where she stood.
“No doubt. We are to be there at ten in the morning. I will need you on your best behavior.”
“Like a good, well-trained husband or hound?”
“I am sorry to seem patronizing. It is just—”
“Peace, Clara, I know what’s at stake. But if this is to work, your grandfather will expect the genuine article. He needs to meet a man, not a puppet.”
“You are right.”
“Some verisimilitude may be required.” Slowly he got to his feet and approached her, moving like a cat. The corners of his lips curled further up. “Surprised I know that word, are you? Just like you were surprised I could sign my name today—ignorant bog-jumper that I am.”
She was, but didn’t like to admit it.
She stood staring him in the eyes, her breath coming ever faster as he approached. When he reached out and fondled her hair, it came very quickly indeed.
“You looked so beautiful today,” he whispered.
“But I am not beautiful.”
“Not perhaps in the fashionable sense. Better than that.”
Clara wore her best dress, left over from wealthier days. Now the lace at the bodice stirred with her heartbeat.
“Why did you cut off your hair? Tis such a bonny color. Seems a shame.”
“It was too much trouble and kept getting in the way when I was busy working or helping the children. I did not like to bother.” Her words died as his fingers penetrated her hair to her scalp, where they stroked gently.
“No matter, it suits you—all feathery and fey.”
He stepped closer. She could feel the heat of him now, like a banked fire. He whispered in her ear, “Like a wee fairy, one of the fey folk.”
She looked up and, just as simply as that, he kissed her. His lips, this time, were as gentle as his touch. They wooed and persuaded, then suggested and beseeched, powerful as a demand and heady as strong wine. Clara gathered all her forces, determined to be indignant, to reject and deny him. Instead, without her permission, her lips parted beneath his and invited him in.
Time seemed to stand still and then to tense and bunch like a lion waiting to spring. Outside the parlor windows, the autumn dark gathered. Inside Clara’s heart, darkness seemed to flee, chased by desire.
What was this, then? Nothing she had expected. It was desire, wild and hot: it was an answer to longing.
It was impossible.
This book is on sale for 99 cents through 9/14/19 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes.
Buy link Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Handsome-Buffalo-Steampunk-Adventure-ebook/dp/B00SVWWUUM
Buy link Amazon Canada: http://www.amazon.ca/Dead-Handsome-Buffalo-Steampunk-Adventure-ebook/dp/B00SVWWUUM
Buy link Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Handsome-Buffalo-Steampunk-Adventure-ebook/dp/B00SVWWUUM
Buy link Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dead-handsome-laura-strickland/1121179536?ean=2940150186538
Buy link iTunes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/dead-handsome-a-buffalo-steampunk-adventure/id965666073
Buy link Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/dead-handsome-a-buffalo-steampunk-adventure-1
Laura at a recent Steampunk event:
Born in Buffalo and raised on the Niagara Frontier, award-winning author Laura Strickland has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. She believes 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 killer automatons? Well, just maybe.
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