|Electric lights on the Victoria Embankment in1878|
Monday, November 30, 2015
1. Visit the London Zoo and take a walk through Regent’s Park to Madame Tussaud’s
The Zoological Gardens at the edge of Regent’s Park proved popular with Victorians throughout the era, allowing them to see animals and fauna from all around the world. A short walk through the park took visitors to the doors of Madame Tussauds wax works on Marylebone Road, where they could gaze as long as they liked at wax effigies of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and many other personages of fame and infamy. If they were brave enough, gutsy Victorians took a stroll through the wax work’s Chamber of Horrors.
2. Dine at the Savoy Hotel and take in a play at the Lyceum Theater
The Savoy Hotel opened in London in 1889 and was both a beacon of modernity and a haven of luxury. It was the first public building to be lit entirely by electricity, offered hot and cold running water in every room, and, in most of its 268 rooms, provided private bathroom facilities. Within walking distance of the Savoy, Victorians could take in a play at the famed Lyceum Theater, managed through much of the Victorian era by renowned actor and manager, Henry Irving.
3. Window shop at Harrod’s and then take a stroll through Hyde Park
We take department stores for granted today, but in the Victorian era they were a kind of commercial wonderland, offering shoppers the chance to see, touch, and purchase a variety of items in one place. If you visited Harrods in 1898, you’d even get a chance to take a ride on England’s first moving staircase, a.k.a. the modern escalator. Terribly nervous riders were offered brandy at the top of the staircase to help them recover from the ordeal.
4. Stroll the Victoria Embankment and stop in at The National Gallery
The Victoria embankment, a river walk along the northern Thames from the Palace of Westminster to Blackfriar’s Bridge, would’ve been a particularly romantic stroll at night. If you walked the area after 1878, gas lamps along the embankment had been replaced with electric lighting and must have twinkled prettily on the flowing surface of the Thames. A few blocks away, off of Trafalgar Square, Victorians enjoyed taking in the permanent and changing exhibitions at the National Gallery.
5. Travel on the Metropolitan Railway for a concert at the Royal Albert Hall
The Metropolitan Railway was the world’s first underground railway, with gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam locomotives. If you needed an exciting mode of transportation to visit the newly established Royal Albert Hall, the underground railway was the way to go. The hall itself opened in 1871 and was thoroughly lit by electric lights by 1888. It suffered from some acoustic issues though. One snarky Brit said it was the only place a composer could be sure of hearing his work performed twice.
One Tempting Proposal
An Accidental Heirs Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon Impulse
On-Sale: 11/17/2015 |
Becoming engaged? Simple. Resisting temptation? Impossible
Sebastian Fennick, the newest Duke of Wrexford, prefers the straightforwardness of mathematics to romantic nonsense. When he meets Lady Katherine Adderly at the first ball of the season, he finds her as alluring as she is disagreeable. His title may now require him to marry, but Sebastian can’t think of anyone less fit to be his wife, even if he can’t get her out of his mind.
After five seasons of snubbing suitors and making small talk, Lady Kitty has seen all the ton has to offer…and she’s not impressed. But when Kitty’s overbearing father demands she must marry before her beloved younger sister can, she proposes a plan to the handsome duke. Kitty’s schemes always seem to backfire, but she knows this one can’t go wrong. After all, she’s not the least bit tempted by Sebastian, is she?
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Cambridgeshire, May, 1891
Slashing the air with a sword was doing nothing to improve Sebastian Fennick’s mood. As he thrust, the needle-thin foil bending and arching through the air and sending tingling reverberations along his hand, he glared across at his opponent, though he doubted she could see any better than he could from behind the tight mesh of her fencing mask.
His sister parried before offering a spot-on riposte of her own, her foil bowing in a perfect semicircle as she struck him.
“Are you making any sort of effort at all?”
Seb bit back the reply burning the tip of his tongue. Fencing was the least of his concerns. In the last month he’d learned of the death of a cousin he’d barely known and inherited the responsibility for one dukedom, three thousand acres of land, hundreds of tenants, twenty-eight staff members, one London residence, and a country house with so many rooms, he was still counting. He could find no competitive pleasure in wielding a lightweight foil when his mind brimmed with repairs, meetings, investments, and invitations to social events that spanned the rest of the calendar year.
And all of it was nothing to the bit of paper in his waistcoat pocket, separated by two layers of fabric from the scar on his chest, dual reminders of what a fool he’d been, how one woman’s lies nearly ended his life.
He wouldn’t open her letter. Instead, he’d take pleasure in burning the damn thing.
Never again. Never would he allow himself to be manipulated as he had been in the past. He had to put the past from his mind altogether.
Fencing wasn’t doing the trick. Give him a proper sword and let him dash it against a tree trunk. Better yet, give him a dragon to slay. That might do quite nicely, but this dance of lunges and feints only made his irritation bubble over.
Yet his sister didn’t deserve his ire, and he’d no wish to stifle her enthusiasm for the newest of her myriad interests.
“I fear fencing and I do not suit, Pippa.” As she returned to en garde position, preparing for another strike, Seb hastened to add, “Nor shall we ever.”
Pippa sagged in disappointment when he reached up to remove his fencing mask. “I’d hoped you might find it invigorating. A pleasant challenge.”
In truth, his mathematical mind found the precision of the sport appealing, and the physical exertion was refreshing. But when he’d inherited the dukedom of Wrexford, Seb left his mathematics career at Cambridge behind. And weren’t there a dozen tasks he should be attending to rather than waving a flexible bit of steel about at his sister?
“Invigorating, yes. Challenging, absolutely. Pleasant? No.”
When he began removing his gloves and unbuttoning the fencing jacket Pippa insisted he purchase, she raised a hand to stop him.
“Wait. We must do this properly.” She approached and offered him her hand as if they were merely fellow sportsmen rather than siblings. “Politeness is an essential element of fencing.”
Seb cleared his throat, infused his baritone with gravitas, and shook his younger sister’s hand. “Well done, Miss Fennick.”
She’d tucked her fencing mask under her sword arm and met his gaze with eyes the same unique shade as their father’s. Along with her dark hair and whiskey brown eyes, Pippa had inherited their patriarch’s love for mathematics and sporting activity of every kind.
“Fine effort, Your Grace.” And father’s compassion too, apparently.
Pippa smiled at him, her disappointment well-hidden or forgotten, and Seb returned the expression. Then her words, the sound of his honorific at the end, settled in his mind. Your Grace. It still sounded odd to his ears.
Seb and his sister had been raised for academic pursuits, children of a mathematician father and a mother with as many accomplishments as her daughter now boasted. Formality, titles, rules—none of it came naturally. The title of Duke of Wrexford had passed to him, but it still rankled and itched, as ill-fitting as the imprisoning fencing mask he’d been relieved to remove.
As they exited the corner of the second ballroom Pippa had set out as her fencing strip, she turned one of her inquisitive glances on him.
“Perhaps you’d prefer boxing, like Grandfather.” Their grandfather had been as well known for his love of pugilism as his architectural designs, and had reputedly been one of Gentleman Jackson’s best pupils.
Taller and broader than many of his classmates, Seb had engaged in his own share of scuffles in youth, and he’d been tempted to settle a few gentlemanly disagreements with his fists, but he never enjoyed fighting with his body as much as sparring with his intellect. Reason. Logic. Those were the weapons a man should bring to a dispute.
“Unless you’re like Oliver and can’t abide the sight of blood.”
It seemed his sister still sparred. Standing on the threshold of Sebastian’s study, Oliver Treadwell lifted his hands, settled them on his hips, and heaved a frustrated sigh.
“I did consider medical school, Pip. I can bear the sight of blood better than most.” Ollie’s eyes widened as he scanned the two of them. “What in heaven’s name is that awful getup you two are wearing?”
Seb didn’t know if it was his lack of enthusiasm for fencing or Ollie’s jibe about their costumes that set her off, but the shock of seeing Pippa lift her foil, breaking a key point of protocol she’d been quite insistent upon—“Never lift a sword when your opponent is unmasked”—blunted the amusement of watching Ollie rear back like a frightened pony.
“Fencing costumes,” she explained through clenched teeth. “I tried instructing Sebastian, though he says the sport doesn’t suit him.” She hadn’t actually touched Ollie with the tip of her foil and quickly lowered it to her side, but the movement failed to ease the tension between them.
Turning back to Seb, she forced an even expression. “I’ll go up and change for luncheon.” She offered Ollie a curt nod as she passed him, her wide fencing skirt fluttering around her ankles. At the door, she grasped the frame and turned back. “And don’t call me Pip. No one calls me that anymore.”
“Goodness. When did she begin loathing me?” Ollie watched the doorway where Pippa exited as if she might reappear to answer his query. “Women are terribly inscrutable, aren’t they?”
Seb thought the entire matter disturbingly clear, but he suspected Pippa would deny her infatuation with Oliver as heatedly as Ollie would argue against the claim. They’d been friends since childhood, and Ollie had been an unofficial member of the Fennick family from the day he’d lost his parents at twelve years old. Seb wasn’t certain when Pippa began viewing Ollie less as a brotherly friend and more as a man worthy of her admiration.
As much as he loved him, Seb secretly prayed his sister’s interest in the young buck would wane. Treadwell had never been the steadiest of fellows, particularly when it came to matters of the heart, and Seb would never allow anyone to hurt Pippa.
“Welcome to Roxbury.” He practiced the words as he spoke them, hoping the oddness of playing host in another man’s home would eventually diminish.
“Thank you. It is grand, is it not? Had you ever visited before?”
“Once, as a young child. I expected it to be less imposing when I saw it again as a man.” It hadn’t been. Not a whit. Upon arriving thirty days prior, he’d stood on the threshold a moment with his mouth agape before taking a step inside.
Seb caught Ollie staring at the ceiling, an extraordinary web of plastered fan-vaulting meant to echo the design in the nave of an abbey the late duke had visited in Bath. Every aspect of Roxbury had been designed with care, and yet to match the whims of each successive duke and duchess. Somehow its hodgepodge of architectural styles blended into a harmonious and impressive whole.
“You mentioned an urgent matter. Trouble in London?” A few years older than his friend, Seb worried about Ollie with the same ever-present paternal concern he felt for his sister.
After trying his hand at philosophy, chemistry, and medicine, Ollie had decided to pursue law and currently studied at the Inner Temple with high hopes of being called to the bar and becoming a barrister within the year.
“No, all is well, but those words don’t begin to describe my bliss.”
Bowing his head, Sebastian closed his eyes a moment and drew in a long breath, expanding his chest as far as the confines of his fencing jacket would allow. It had to be a woman. Another woman. Seb had never known a man as eager to be enamored. Unfortunately, the mysteries of love couldn’t be bound within the elegance of a mathematical equation. If they could, Ollie’s equation would be a simple one. Woman plus beauty equals infatuation. If Ollie’s interest in this woman or that ever bloomed into constancy, Seb could rally a bit happiness for his friend.
Constancy. An image of black hair came to mind with a piercing pain above his brow. How could he advocate that Ollie learn constancy when his own stubborn heart brought him nothing but misery?
“Tell me about her.”
Ollie’s face lit with pleasure. “She’s an angel.”
The last had been “a goddess” and Seb mentally calculated where each designation might rank in the heavenly hierarchy.
“With golden hair and sapphire eyes …” Ollie’s loves were always described in the same terms one might use when speaking of a precious relic Mr. Petrie had dug up in Egypt, each of them carved in alabaster, gilded, and bejeweled.
“Slow down, Ollie. Let’s start with her name.”
“Hattie. Harriet, though she says she dislikes Harriet. I think it’s lovely. Isn’t it a beautiful name, really?”
Too preoccupied with unbuttoning himself from his fencing gear, Sebastian didn’t bother offering a response. Ollie rarely had any trouble rambling on without acknowledgment.
“She’s the daughter of a marquess. Clayborne. Perhaps you know him.”
Seb arched both brows and Ollie smiled. “Yes, I know. You’ve only been a duke for the space of a month. Don’t they introduce you to all of the other aristocrats straight away, then?”
A chuckle rumbled up in Seb’s chest, and for a moment the burdens that had piled up since the last duke’s passing slipped away. He laughed with Ollie as they had when they were simpler men, younger, less distracted with love or responsibilities. Seb felt lighter, and he held a smile so long his cheeks began to ache before the laughter ebbed and he addressed the serious matter of Oliver’s pursuit of a marquess’s daughter.
“I think the better question is whether you’ve met Harriet’s father. What are your intentions toward this young woman?”
Ollie ducked his chin and deflated into a chair. “Goodness, Bash, you sound a bit like you’re Hattie’s father.”
Only Ollie called him Bash, claiming he’d earned it for defending him in a fight with a particularly truculent classmate. The nickname reminded him of all their shared battles as children, but if Ollie thought its use would soften him or make him retreat, he was wrong. Ollie needed someone to challenge him, to curb his tendency to rush in without considering the consequences. If he lost interest in this young woman as he had with all the others, a breach-of-promise suit brought by a marquess could ruin Ollie’s burgeoning legal career.
“I intend to marry her.”
“May I ask how long you’ve been acquainted with the young lady?” Mercy, he did sound like a father. As the eldest, he’d always led the way, and with the loss of their parents, Seb had taken on a parental role with his sister too. Pippa might wish to marry one day, and it was his duty to ensure any prospective groom wasn’t a complete and utter reprobate.
“Not all of us fall in love with our childhood friend.” The barb had no doubt been meant to bring Seb’s past heartbreak to mind, but Seb thought of Pippa. Thankfully, she hadn’t heard Ollie’s declaration.
“Indeed. I would merely advise you to take more time and court Lord Clayborne’s daughter properly. Her father will expect no less.”
Even with a properly drawn-out courtship, a marquess would be unlikely to allow his daughter to marry a man who’d yet to become a barrister and may not succeed once he had.
“I must offer for her now. Soon. She’s coming out this season, and I couldn’t bear for another man to snatch her up.”
“You make her sound like a filly at market.”
“Will you come to London and meet her? I know you’ll approve of the match once you’ve met her.”
Seb had already given into the necessity of spending the season in London at Wrexford House. Pippa had no interest in anything in London aside from the Reading Room at the British Museum, but their aristocratic aunt, Lady Stamford, insisted he give his sister a proper coming out. She’d also reminded him that a new duke should meet and be met by others in their slice of society.
“You hardly need my approval, Ollie.”
“I need more than that.”
If he meant money, Seb could help. Cousin Geoffrey and his steward maintained the estate well over the years, investing wisely and spending with restraint. Sebastian had met with the estate’s steward once since arriving at Roxbury and emphasized his desire to match his predecessor’s good fiscal sense.
“We should discuss a settlement of some kind.”
Waving away Seb’s words, Ollie stood and strode to the window, looking out on one of Roxbury’s gardens, perfectly manicured and daubed with color by the first blooms of spring.
Oliver Treadwell had never been a hard man to read. Seb knew him to be intelligent, but he used none of his cleverness for artifice. A changeable man, Ollie blew hot and cold with his passions, but he expressed himself honestly. Now Seb sensed something more. Another emotion undercut the giddiness he’d expressed about his most recent heart’s desire.
His friend seemed to fall into contemplation of the scenery and Sebastian stood to approach, curious about what had drawn Ollie’s attention. The sound of Ollie’s voice stopped him short, the timbre strangely plaintive, almost childlike.
“She says her father won’t allow her to marry until her older sister does. Some strange rule he’s devised to make Harriet miserable.”
It sounded like an unreasonable expectation to Sebastian. At two and twenty, Pippa found contentment in pursuing her studies and political causes. She’d indicated no desire to take any man’s name. Never mind the way she looked at Oliver. If they had a younger sister, the girl might have a long wait to wed if some ridiculous rule required Pippa to do so first. Then again, not all women were as reticent to marry as Pippa.
“Does this elder sister have any prospects?”
Ollie’s whole body jolted at Seb’s question and he turned on him, smile wide, blue eyes glittering.
“She has more suitors than she can manage, but she’s not easily snared. I assure you she’s just as beautiful as Hattie, with golden hair …”
“Yes, yes. Eyes of emerald or sapphire or amethyst.”
Oliver tugged on his ear, a frown marring his enthusiastic expression. “Well, she is lovely. Truly. You should meet her.”
A sickening heaviness sank in his gut at the realization of Oliver’s real purpose for their urgent meeting.
“You’re very determined to convince me, Oliver.”
Ollie sighed wearily, a long gusty exhale, before sinking down into a chair again. “You only call me Oliver when you’re cross. Won’t you hear me out?”
Sebastian had a habit of counting. Assigning numbers to the objects and incidents in his life gave him a satisfying sense of order and control. Not quite as much satisfaction as conquering a maddening equation, but enough to make the incidents he couldn’t control—like the small matter of inheriting a title and a home large enough to house a hundred—more bearable.
He wished he’d counted how many times he’d heard those same words—“Won’t you hear me out?”—from Ollie. Whatever the number, it would certainly be high enough to warn him off listening to the man’s mad schemes again.
“All right, Ollie. Have it out then.”
“Do you never consider finding yourself a wife?”
“Must I? Why? I have quite enough to occupy me.”
Ollie took on a pensive air and squinted his left eye. “The estate seems to be in good order, and you’ve given up your post at the university. Pippa has her own pursuits.” He glanced again at the high ceiling over their heads. “Won’t you be lonely in these grand, empty rooms, Bash?”
Sentiment? That was how Ollie meant to convince him? Seb had put away sentimentality ten years before, dividing off that part of himself so that he could move forward with the rest of his life. If its power still held any sway, he would have opened the letter in his waistcoat pocket the day it arrived.
“I will manage, Ollie.”
And how would a woman solve anything? In Seb’s experience, women either wreaked havoc on a man’s life, or filled it with noise and color and clever quips, like his mother and sister. Either option would allay loneliness, but he did not suffer from that affliction. Sentimental men were lonely. Not him. Even if he did live in a house with ceilings so tall his voice echoed when he chattered to himself.
He narrowed his eyes at Ollie, and his friend sat up in his chair, squared his shoulders, and tipped his chin to stare at Seb directly.
“She’s the eldest daughter of a marquess, Bash, and much more aware of the rules of etiquette among the wealthy and titled than you are.”
“Then we won’t have much in common.”
Ollie groaned. “She would be a fine partner, a formidable ally in this new life you’ve taken on.”
Denial came easily, and he denounced Ollie’s mad implication that the two of them should marry sisters from the same family. But reason, that damnable voice in his head that sounded like his father, contradicted him.
At two and thirty, he’d reached an age for matrimony, and with inherited property and a title came the duty to produce an heir. No one wanted Roxbury and the Wrexford dukedom to pass to another distant cousin. If he had any doubts about his need for a wife, he was surrounded by women who’d happily remind him. His aunt, Lady Stamford, had sent a letter he’d found waiting for him the day he’d arrived at Roxbury suggesting that marriage was as much his duty as managing the estate. Pippa also dropped hints now and then that having a sister-in-law would be very nice indeed.
Ollie had yet to multiply the bride-taking encouragement, but he was making a fine effort at rectifying the oversight.
“Acquiring a dukedom is a vast undertaking.” Ollie stretched out his arms wide to emphasize the vastness of it all. “Why not have a lovely woman by your side in such an endeavor?”
“I didn’t acquire it, Oliver. It passed to me.” He loathed his habit of stating the obvious.
A lovely woman by his side. The notion brought a pang, equal parts stifled desire and memory-soaked dread. He’d imagined it once, making plans and envisioning the life he’d create with the woman he loved. But that was all sentiment and it had been smashed, its pieces left in the past. Now practicality dictated his choices. He spared emotion only for his family, for Pippa and Ollie.
Ollie watched him like a convicted man awaiting his sentence.
His friend’s practical argument held some appeal. A marquess’s daughter would know how to navigate the social whirl, and Seb liked the notion of not devoting all of his own energy to tackling that challenge. He might even find a moment to spare for mathematics, rather than having to forfeit his life’s work entirely to take on the duties of a dukedom.
And it would give Ollie a chance at happiness. Perhaps this younger daughter of Lord Clayborne’s would be the woman to inspire constancy in Ollie, and Seb might assist his friend to achieve the family and stability he’d lost in childhood.
Seb spoke on an exhaled sigh. “I suppose I do need a wife.” And there he went stating the obvious again.
Oliver turned into a ten-year-old boy before his eyes, as giddy as a pup. If the man had a tail, he’d be wagging it furiously. He jumped up and reached out to clasp Seb on the shoulder.
“Just meet Lady Katherine, Seb. See if you suit. That’s all I ask.” It wasn’t quite all he asked, but Seb had learned the futility of quibbling with a giddy Oliver.
A marquess’s daughter? Lady Katherine sounded like just the sort of woman a duke should seek to marry. Seb could contemplate marriage as a practical matter, but nothing more.
Would he ever feel more?
He hadn’t allowed himself an ounce of interest in a woman in ten years, not in a lush feminine figure, nor in a pair of fine eyes, not even in the heady mix of a woman’s unique scent under the notes of some floral essence.
“I think you’ll enjoy London during the season.” Ollie couldn’t manage sincerity when uttering the declaration. His mouth quivered and he blinked one eye as if he’d just caught an irritating bit of dust.
Seb doubted he’d enjoy London during the crush of the social season. As a Cambridge man raised in a modest home in the university’s shadow, he’d enjoyed occasional jaunts to London but had always been content to return to his studies. As he opened his mouth to say as much to Ollie, Pippa strode into the room and drew their attention to the doorway.
She’d changed into one of the day dresses their aunt insisted she choose for the upcoming season, though Pippa signaled her disdain for the flouncy yellow creation by swiping down the ruffles that kept popping up on her chest and around her shoulders.
“Luncheon is laid in the morning room. Are you joining us, Oliver?”
Ollie stared wide-eyed at Pippa a moment and then turned to Seb.
“We’re almost finished here,” Seb assured her. “Ollie and I will join you momentarily.”
She nodded but offered the still speechless Ollie a sharp glance before departing.
After a moment, Ollie found his voice. “I’ve never seen her so …”
Seb took a turn glaring at Ollie. The man had just been thrilled at the prospect of a match with Lady Harriet. He had no business noticing Pippa’s femininity, especially after failing to do so for over a dozen years.
“She chose a few new dresses.” Seb cleared his throat to draw Ollie’s attention.
“It’s odd,” Ollie said, his face still pinched in confusion. “I’ve known Pippa most of my life and never truly thought of her as a woman.”
His friend’s words put Seb’s mind at ease, but he suspected Pippa wouldn’t find them nearly as heartening.
“Ollie, let’s return to the matter at hand.”
“Yes, of course.” Ollie rubbed his hands together and grinned, the matter of Pippa quickly forgotten. “Will you come to the Clayborne ball and meet Lady Katherine?”
“I will.” Meeting the woman seemed a simple prospect. Practical. Reasonable. A perfectly logical decision in the circumstances.
“If you’re still planning on presenting Pippa this season, by all means, bring her along too,” Ollie added. “Why leave her to ramble this house alone?”
Pippa preferred to spend her days at Cambridge where she’d been studying mathematics for much of the previous year. Yet Seb felt the pull of his aunt’s assertion. His sister should have a London season, or at least spend some time among London society. He wished to open as many doors for Pippa as he could. Give her choices and options. If his title meant his sister might be more comfortably settled in life, all the better.
“She’s not convinced of the appeal of a London season.” Seb worried neither of them was equipped for it either. Gowns and finely tailored clothing aside, they didn’t possess the aristocratic polish others would expect of a duke and his sister.
Ever undaunted, Ollie grinned. “Then you must convince her.”
Seb lifted his gaze to the ceiling, following the tracery, lines in perfect symmetry, equidistant and equal in length, forming a perfect whole. The geometric beauty of the design melted a bit of the tension in his shoulders. Still, he doubted the propriety of allowing his sister to attend a ball when she’d not yet formally come out. And, most importantly, he feared Pippa was unprepared for the sort of attention she would encounter in London.
Pippa unprepared? She’d fence him into a corner for even entertaining the notion.
“Very well. We’ll both attend, but I make no promises regarding Lady Katherine.”
He’d accept the invitation in order to give Pippa her first glimpse of a proper London ball, meet this marquess’s daughter, and do what he could to assist Ollie’s cause. But marrying Lady Katherine was another matter entirely. He’d only ever intended to marry one woman and that had gone so spectacularly pear-shaped, he wasn’t certain he could bring himself to propose ever again.
About the Author:
Fueled by Pacific Northwest coffee and inspired by multiple viewings of every British costume drama she can get her hands on, Christy Carlyle writes sensual historical romance set in the Victorian era. She loves heroes who struggle against all odds and heroines who are ahead of their time. A former teacher with a degree in history, she finds there’s nothing better than being able to combine her love of the past with a die-hard belief in happy endings.
Long before I ever had the glimmer of an idea to write my Amber Gifts Series I loved stories about time travel. Some I read. Some I saw on television. All effected my growing affection for science fiction and fantasy.
Here is a list of my Top Ten Time Travel Tales. Yep I went with the Five T’s for a title.
Unlike David Letterman, these are in no particular order.
1. By His Bootstrap by Robert A. Heinlein
Introduced me to the word paradox. I’ve looked for those ever since.
2. All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein
This was recently made into a movie and I had forgotten I’d read it so many years ago. It holds up well.
3. The Door into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein
I know the list is top heavy with stories by RAH but what can I saw, I read him a lot and he did good work.
4. A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury
Loved how this short stort ends. They tried to make a move out of it but it never worked, in my opinion. Stick with the book.
5. Fantastic Four #5 Prisoners of Doctor Doom by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Yes, I’m old enough to have read this when it was released. I think I still have a dog-eared copy in my basement.
6. Blink, Doctor Who Series 3 Episode 10 by Stephen Moffat
Best Doctor Who story ever and he has a fairly minimal role. The Weaping Angels steal the show. Just Don’t Blink!!
7. The City on the Edge of Forever, Star Trek Season 1, Episode 28 by Harlan Ellison
Kirk, Spock and Bones in pre-World War Two America. How much better could it get? The controversy with Ellison just adds to the fun, in my opinion.
8. War Without End, Babylon 5 Season 3 Episodes 16 & 17 by J. Michael Straczynski
Helps to see Babalon Squared, Season 1 Episode 20 first but I’ll count this as one since it’s all one continuing story. Again, the ending made me go, Oh My Gosh!! Repeatedly.
9. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (book & movie) by Mark Twain and staring Bing Crosby
I read the book after seeing this movie on TV. I liked both and living in Washington state I laughed when he evokes Walla Walla as magic. Not sure Twain would approve.
10. Dark Shadows. The 1966 to 1971 TV soap opera.
This came on in the late afternoon, after school was over. I would come home and watch it before dinner, wondering where they might be going or who Barnabas might bite next. Don’t see the movie. It was a horrible disappointment to me.
I’m sure I’ve left out your favorite. There are a lot to choose from. These are mine. What are yours?
Thank you for reading.
Amber Gifts Series
Kevin B Henry
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Time Travel
Publisher:Champagne Books, Burst
Date of Publication: November 03, 2015
Number of pages: 78
Word Count: 25,000
Cover Artist: Ellie Smith
Tag line: A simple research project goes horribly wrong once murder and time travel get involved.
Mitchell and Crystin are living on the west coast of Florida in the Seventies. He has the beginnings of a loving family and couldn't be happier. It’s remarkable how quickly things can change. Perhaps the fate of a Teithwyr Amser is to never be stable, never find love without defending it against the rest of the world, against evil and against the fabric of time itself.
A simple TV documentary will spin Mitchell out of control as he first attempts to prove the filmmakers wrong and then ultimately find and protect his new family from a monster of his own creating.
Available at Amazon
Part of me was like some detached, immature schoolboy. I was the hero, bound for adventure and looking for the infamous villain with hope of making all things right and returning to the hearth fires of my home, victorious. I was Robert Downey Jr. playing Sherlock Holmes. I was John Wayne playing almost any role. Hell, I was David Tennant playing The Doctor.
The problem was, I wasn’t playing, and if I wasn’t real damn careful I was going to end up playing John Wayne in The Cowboys or even worse, William Shatner in Generations. God, please make my death scene more interesting and meaningful than that. These thoughts poured through my brain as I walked across the street.
By the time I reached the opposite side I exuded cool, matter of fact demeanor and displayed no heroics. Simple confidence was my copilot. Caution was my mantra. I had an almost-wife and a beautiful baby girl to return to.
I took a winding path that led me to Commercial Road. The darkness was all engulfing. More than half the lampposts were not functioning. It cast every turn, every alleyway, every alcove in total blackness. I walked cautiously but without any appearance of trepidation. I did not want to appear an easy target.
Women of questionable morality approached and quickly departed. I was polite, but firm in my refusals. There was certainly no questioning their hygiene or their state of inebriation. A very high percentage of the female residents of Whitechapel turned to prostitution. Most began as a way to make a living, but as they turned more and more to alcohol to erase their memories, the act became more about the next drink and less about the money. Most could be had for the cost of a shot of gin, about fifty cents.
The first victim, Polly, went out one last time the evening of her death because she thought she looked exceptionally well. She had a new bonnet. She had no teeth, but the hat made all the difference, I’m sure.
I found the cut off that led south from Commercial Road and made the turn. Less than a block down this street was the Socialist Club and adjoining the club was a small open courtyard. As I walked toward the club entrance, I heard a sound I can only call a muffled gurgle. I sprinted the rest of the way to the courtyard opening. There, lying on the ground was Elizabeth Stride. Kneeling beside her was the one and only, Jack the Ripper. He was nothing I had ever expected.
The man stood as I came to a halt at the courtyard opening. He was much shorter than I would have expected. I had envisioned a mixture of Vincent Price, Frank Langella, in his early films and just a hint of Malcolm McDowell, again from his younger days. This Ripper was none of those.
As I mentioned, he was not tall, perhaps five foot six, no more than five foot seven. He was portly. That is the only word I can use to describe him. While his clothes fit well, they could not conceal his amble midsection, nor his arms and hands, which I can only describe as doughy.
His face surprised me the most. I had expected to see an angry, scared, possibly deformed individual. Jack’s face was almost angelic. It was round, and I would swear it appeared to have baby fat in the cheeks.
His eyes were sharp, clear and a grey color. He was perfectly clean-shaven, his light-colored hair trimmed short and well groomed, perhaps with lard, since styling mousse would not arrive for many years. I would have expected to see him in a cathedral pulpit or perhaps in a bank, not hunched over the fresh corpse of an unlucky prostitute.
About the Author:
From an early age, Kevin B. Henry was a voracious reader. His collection of science fiction, fantasy and mystery books bring tears of envy to the eyes of many small community libraries.
Kevin has worked as an educator, technology specialist and day laborer most of his adult life. During all that time he lived the life of a frustrated author. That it took 30 years for him to piece together the series, Amber Gifts is a testament that the best meals need slow cooking to bring out the flavor.
The Amber Gifts Series begins with Amber Gifts. The second story, which is really the first, is Amber Prelude, and is available now. The third story, Amber Legacy continues where Amber Gifts left off. It will be available in November 2015. All are published by the wonderful folks at the Champagne Book Group. A fourth story is in the process of being written.
Kevin is a natural story teller, so it’s logical that he lectures occasionally. Topics range from the implementation of cutting edge technology hardware to the creation, modification and use of e-books within education. He constantly pursues research to expand his range of possible topics. His most recent research revolved around the aerodynamic properties of reindeer. He’s also been known to include little known facts and trivia within his presentations. Did you know just 146 years ago today the Union Army marched into Atlanta. It took longer than anticipated. They were delayed by a traffic jam on I-75 and the toll booth on Ga. 400
He continues to live in the Mid-West without human or domesticated mammal companionship.
Amber Gifts Series: www.ambergifts.blogspot.com
Champagne Books www.champagnebooks.com
Facebook (Amber Gifts) www.facebook.com/AmberGifts
Beyond Anything In All Creation
Beyond Height and Depths Trilogy
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Young Adult
Publisher: C. Brown Publisher
Date of Publication: January 13, 2015
Number of pages: 180
Word Count: 55, 502
She’s anxious, but she might also be right. I do hope it’s not the end of the world. What do I know about this kind of stuff? I’m not sure what else to think. The world hasn’t exactly been in the best shape recently.
The long extinct volcanoes of our island home, as well as other parts of the world, still show signs of erupting at any moment. Earthquakes are a daily occurrence. The sun has almost completely vanished, leaving the world in a state of constant twilight. Fire has been falling from the sky off and on here for the last few weeks; meanwhile, other parts of the world seem to be in the middle of a miniature ice age, and the bodies of water that aren’t frozen have steam rising from their surface.
I would hardly call any of this normal.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The highly anticipated conclusion to the Beyond Heights and Depths trilogy is finally here.
Emmett and Ash are preparing for their big day. The two have overcome the greatest of evils to remain together. Together, they have won every battle, but the war is far from over. All signs point to the end of the world. The soul mates must face their toughest challenges yet. Relationships will be tested, sacrifices will be made, and a fight to the finish will decide the fate of the world.
Available at Amazon
This movie isn’t so bad. In fact, I can’t help thinking how real these scenes look. The special effects are spectacular. I feel like I am in the movie. I feel like I am walking along a dark trail. There’s no moon, which makes it incredibly difficult to see. Shadow figures begin to stalk from side-to-side. A gang of dark figures emerges out of the darkness. I can’t tell how many there are. Dozens of pairs of demonic red eyes suddenly open and stare at me. I seem to have walked into some sort of trap.
Oh no, this isn’t part of the movie, I realize too late. The swarm of shadow creatures rushes toward me. I try to turn and run, but I can’t move. I’m paralyzed with fear. What is happening to me? Wait, this must be a dream. I just need to wake up. The feeling of paralysis increases my anxiety. The more I struggle, the harder it is to move. You’re alright, I hear Ash’s voice say in my head.
Whew, thank goodness; I thought I was going crazy. Ash is on a run. I must have fallen asleep during the movie, so I am seeing this play out through her eyes. In the vision, I see that Ash is laughing, but I can’t hear her laughing. I take that as my cue to check out. Everything goes black for a moment, and then I open my eyes.
I’m looking at the ceiling of my house. I notice I am sweating profusely. I may not be in the middle of the fight, but the feeling of fear is completely real. I try to shake it off. In the safety of my home I have nothing to worry about, I try to remind myself. Yet, I can’t seem to shake the feeling of someone watching me. I’m afraid to sit up. This is ridiculous. You’ve fought demons of all sorts, died a few times, and have always come out on top. Surely you can deal with your childhood fears of the boogeyman.
I slowly sit up on the couch. The television isn’t even on. I wonder when I fell asleep. I hope it wasn’t during the movie. I try to rub the sleepiness out of my eyes. When I open them again, I am startled to see the image of a dark figure standing ominously behind me. I jump up from my seat, turn, and instinctively throw the first thing within reach at the figure, which happens to be a box of sour gummy candies.
About the Author:
Christian Brown has been working with youth and young adults for most of the last 10 years. His passion is in helping others. He is also an anti-bullying advocate. He is the author of the Beyond Heights and Depths Trilogy and has other projects in the works. He currently lives in Honolulu, Hawaii with his wife and two young sons.
Twitter - https://twitter.com/CBrownHI
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