Cara Devon has always suffered curiosity and impetuousness, but tangling with a serial killer might cure that. Permanently.
London, 1861. Impoverished noble Cara has a simple mission after the strange death of her father – sell off his damned collection of priceless artifacts. Her plan goes awry when aristocratic beauties start dying of broken hearts, an eight inch long brass key hammered through their chests. A killer hunts among the nobility, searching for a regal beauty and an ancient Egyptian relic rumored to hold the key to immortality.
Her Majesty’s Enforcers are in pursuit of the murderer and they see a connection between the gruesome deaths and Cara. So does she, somewhere in London her father hid Nefertiti’s Heart, a fist sized diamond with strange mechanical workings. Adding further complication to her life, notorious crime lord, Viscount Nathaniel Lyons is relentless in his desire to lay his hands on Cara and the priceless artifacts. If only she could fathom his motive.
Self-preservation fuels Cara’s search for the gem. In a society where everyone wears a mask to hide their true intent, she needs to figure out who to trust, before she makes a fatal mistake.
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Here’s an extract from Chapter One:
There was something cathartic about wielding a crowbar. Cara used one end to loosen the tacks, before ripping up the expensive patterned carpet. She tossed the strip in a growing pile by the wall. She hadn’t intended to remove all the carpet, but with the cool metal bar in her hand, she lost herself in the rhythm of tearing away a layer from her father’s sanctuary. Pushing a deep, auburn spike of hair from her forehead, she took a moment’s break from the dusty work. As spring gave way to summer, Cara found the air inside the narrow terrace house stuffy, and oppressive, a situation exacerbated by her current labor. She flung open the second story window, took a large breath of London air and coughed. Coal smoke and steam belched from the horseless carriages below and spiraled past her window. The combination of the narrow street and tall buildings forced the vehicle emissions skyward.
She blinked the stinging smog from her eyes and leaned on the casement as she surveyed her work. She had taken up most of the library carpet, the floor underneath revealed. Coated in several years of dust and grime, the boards appeared dull in the morning light. Pacing the floor, she knew she was close, a spot to one side called to her. The hairs on the backs of her arms rose as she walked the bare boards. Ah. There. The wooden planks were stained a slightly darker color. A maid spent hours on her knees there. With a scrubbing brush and bleach, she had tried to wash away the blood before the new carpets were laid.
There was an old saying: blood will out. Cara wondered if this was what her grandmother meant. You can scrub as hard as you want, but you can never remove the taint, not once it leached into the porous fibers of the wood. The stain a permanent reminder of the violence committed.
Cara remembered she laid on the floor, unaware her blood soaked the carpet and seeped into the floor beneath. Darkness crept over the floor and surrounded her numb body. Oblivion wove tendrils around her, sight the last sense she relinquished. Her vision turned black as her fourteen-year-old self watched her father. He reached up, took a book from the shelf and pressed the hidden lever, before the waiting darkness swept her into blessed unconsciousness.