I suppose I've heard what they say about finishing strong?
In addition to A Strange Christmas Game, I am happy to say that The Lyon's Den in Winter releases later this month. This novella is my addition to The Lyon's Den Connected World, so it draws on already-established characters and places. I think my place is in the demimonde, not drawing rooms! I am incredibly excited for you to read it.
Before an excerpt, here's the blurb itself:
Viola Black is not conventional — she dresses as a man to sell her sought-after plays to London companies. She's lucky. Her father, wily solicitor Malcolm Black, turns a benevolent blind eye to her habits. That is, until one frigid night, when she’s cornered by ruffians. While Viola tries to dismiss the incident as a hazard of London life, Papa is more alarmed. She senses there is far more he's not telling her.
But she's keeping something to herself, too. Though she was shaken by her attack, she also had the good fortune of running into Dr. Duncan Neilson — whom she can't banish from her head. When Papa insists the Black Widow of Whitehall find her a husband, Viola balks. None of the eligible bachelors will be the magnetic Dr. Neilson, for a start.
Then he walks into the Black Widow’s parlor, charming and enigmatic as ever.
But before the two can benefit from fate or providence, Viola is abducted and becomes entangled in an old feud she knew nothing about. Papa has been concealing his past from her, and it involves the same underworld as the Black Widow’s.
As Viola keeps a level head and contemplates escape, her unexpected fiancée is working with her father to bring her home. Does love wait for her on the other side of intrigue and deception?
She dearly wants to find out, and she’s certain that even her plays are less dramatic than all this...
They entered the house differently than Viola had the night with Dr. Neilson.
This seemed to be the decorous way, the discreet entrance for ladies whose families trusted Mrs. Dove-Lyon with their futures. But she noted the prodigious expense of the furnishings. It was tempered only by taste. This was not the kind of household, they seemed to say, where one was allowed to be a glutton or in any way gauche.
That was a direct contrast to the Lyon’s Den’s reputation, she thought.
And that was probably by design.
There was something very theatrical about Mrs. Dove-Lyon, she decided. Everything about her and her business was a projection upon a projection, a trick of smoke and mirrors that might, if one was not careful, trick and seduce one entirely.
She and Papa, whom she still could not look at directly due to her fury, were shown into a pretty, airy parlor that the ladies of Almack’s would have loved. It was decorated for the season with holly, and a bunch of mistletoe hung over the doorway. She arranged her skirts and sat primly on a chair well away from him. It was near the fire, too, and her nerves and anger had chilled her.
The older woman who’d escorted them said, “Mrs. Dove-Lyon will be with you shortly. Tea has been arranged.”
Viola almost laughed as the woman left the parlor. She possessed all the gravitas of the most severe majordomo. She could have been the sternest woman in all of London and perhaps the entire country. Had this been a normal social call, she would have caught Papa’s eye and they would have laughed.
When Mrs. Dove-Lyon came a short time later, Viola resolved to act as though she had never met her.
However, she was denied the choice.
“How lovely to see you again, Miss Black.”
“Again?” Papa questioned. She had no idea how he could manage to pack so much indignant incredulity into one small word.
I'd deeply appreciate it if you preordered your copy! I think you'll definitely enjoy it...