Today marks the release of book 4 in Cecilia Dominic’s Aether Psychics steampunk series. I’ve been hooked on the series since book 1, so I have been eagerly anticipating Aether Rising.
About Aether Rising
The only place to hide could be behind the truth.
No one can lie to Louisa Cobb. It’s her gift. Her curse. Magic her stepfather has no compunction about using to gain the upper hand in business. But when Parnaby Cobb presents her with her latest mark, she realizes he’s testing her loyalty.
Her target is Patrick O’Connell, an Irish tinkerer and scoundrel who stole a kiss—and her heart—years ago. Should she betray her stepfather to set Patrick free, she’ll be cut off without a penny to her name.
Patrick knows exactly he’s been captured, why he’s struggling to lie into Louisa’s sky-blue eyes. He’s invented a device to stabilize and direct the mysterious Eros Element. If he fails to recreate it for Cobb, his closest friends’ happiness will be at risk.
Back in Boston, as Patrick stalls for time and Louisa uncovers secrets of her tragic past, the two of them engage in a treacherous dance on the edge of love and danger. Where one wrong step could condemn them both to everlasting heartache—and unleash an unimaginably powerful force that could destroy their world.
Excerpt from Aether Rising
“This will be your laboratory.” Cobb opened the door to a basement space with a key that looked like it belonged more to a Gothic tale than to a warehouse that had been converted to offices near the wharves. Patrick couldn’t help but notice the expressions of the three men around him, the guard Cobb had designated from the airship field to town. The thugs’ pugnaciousness had been replaced by caution, and two of them held back such that they stood closer to the nearest door than the one Cobb had just unlocked. Only Morlock stood near, tethered to Patrick by the rope that confined Patrick’s wrists.
“So I’m to be the damsel in the basement?” Patrick asked. “What kind of monsters should I be worried about?”
Cobb laughed, but his men didn’t. “Don’t worry, no one’s actually seen anything down there.”
“Nay, there have just been noises, bumps, and equipment turned over,” Morlock said with a gleeful tone. “I wouldn’t sleep too soundly if I was you.”
Patrick would have stroked his beard had his hands not been tied. Putting both of them to his face would have looked ridiculous, so he stuck with a sage nod. “Good thing I’m Irish, then. I’m well versed in supernatural beasties.”
“Then you’re just the man for the job.” Cobb gestured for Patrick to precede him into the gloom. “Plus we men of science don’t believe in such things, do we?”
Patrick decided not to contradict Cobb even though the man was holding him prisoner in order to chase the supernatural abilities of a strange substance. And he certainly wasn’t going to agree. Patrick descended the narrow stairs and suppressed his wince when the echo of the door slamming behind him reverberated off the stone walls. The space was lit by gas lamps with what he’d come to recognize as the Cobb design, enclosed with extra tubes into the glass for gas and oxygen intake and exhaust, perfect for poorly ventilated spaces where carbon dioxide and monoxide may build to dangerous levels. He sniffed the air—mold, the acrid edge of coal dust, an overtone of street smell and just the barest hint of saltwater. He guessed there was a grate somewhere and that he wouldn’t be able to fit through, but he would check once they left him alone. Holes could always be widened.
“What was this place?” Patrick asked. The feel of age told him it preceded the buildings atop it.
“Old Revolutionary gunpowder storage turned coal cellar.” Cobb gestured to the rough-hewn walls. “None of that’s here anymore, of course, but I find it useful for keeping precious things I don’t want others to know I have.”
“Ah, I didn’t know you cared, but I can’t say that I feel the same about you. Perhaps we should just call things off, then.”
Patrick moved toward the stairs, but Morlock stepped in front of him.
“Nice try, Red,” he growled. “I’m looking forward to not having to see your ugly mug on my ship anymore.”
“Now that feeling I can say is mutual.”
Morlock cut Patrick’s bonds off none-too-gently, and Patrick flexed his fingers, relieved the thug had missed his skin with the knife. He thought about making a dash up the stairs, but the other two bruisers waited up there, and he didn’t want to give Morlock the opportunity to shoot him in the back. Instead he flexed his fingers to get through the pins and needles faster so he could think.
“I’ll have your equipment delivered later,” Cobb said. “Meanwhile, make yourself comfortable.”
“As comfortable as you can,” Morlock added, his crooked-toothed grin frightening.
Cobb ascended the stairs followed by Morlock, who walked backwards up the steps, gun trained on Patrick, until he rounded the bend. Patrick continued to rub his hands, gritting his teeth against the stabbing return of sensation. When it had subsided to a merely uncomfortable buzz, he walked the perimeter of his prison, alert for any draft that might give him a direction for escape. As he suspected, there was a grate over the nook where a stone privy stood, but it was too narrow for him to fit through and too high for him to reach even if he were to stand on the toilet.
Patrick cursed under his breath. He hoped Cobb had been lying to him about Claire being in her Aunt Eliza’s custody and Chad being gods only knew where. He paced back and forth in the space that made up his prison, about ten by twenty feet with the alcove for the privy. A straw mattress lay on the other side. He walked up the stairs and paused at the door. A narrow crack underneath let the light through, and he made out the shadow of a guard standing outside shifting his weight from foot to foot. Patrick remembered the guards’ consternation and Morlock’s glee and wondered what exactly they’d been afraid of.
And how he could use it against them.
When he descended into the former coal cellar again, the light flickered in spite of being enclosed so it shouldn’t, and the sensation of cold mist on his exposed skin made his hair stand on end. When he ran a finger over the back of his other hand, he found it to be dry except for the sweat that had popped out.
“I see I’m not alone down here,” he said. “Whoever you are, show yourself.”
Nothing appeared, but the temperature rose, and the light returned to its normal steady illumination from its fixture.
So it seems the monster isn’t accustomed to being addressed. However, he didn’t know what it would do when he let his guard down. Was it a normal generally harmless ghost or something more sinister? If it could knock over equipment, he would have to befriend it if possible. If not, he would have to sleep with one eye open, as Morlock suggested.
Patrick shivered again, this time from a draft from the grate, and pulled his coat more tightly around himself. It seemed he would have to be on his guard no matter what.
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About the Author
Cecilia Dominic became a clinical psychologist because she’s fascinated by people and their stories, but she couldn’t stop making stuff up. By day, she helps people cure their insomnia. By night, she writes fiction that keeps her readers turning pages past bedtime. Yes, she recognizes the conflict of interest between her two careers, but she prefers to be called versatile, not conflicted. This Amazon bestselling author has been published in short and novel-length fiction and currently writes urban fantasy and steampunk. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with one husband and two cats.
You can find her at:
Web page: http://www.ceciliadominic.com/
Wine blog: http://www.randomoenophile.com/
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