Tuesday, February 2, 2021

The Brass Queen by Elizabeth Chatsworth

 Release date: January 12, 2021
Subgenre: Gaslamp Fantasy, Steampunk

About The Brass Queen:


She knows a liar when she sees one.
He knows a fraud when he meets one.

In a steam-powered world, Miss Constance Haltwhistle is the last in a line of blue-blooded rogues. Selling firearms under her alias, the “Brass Queen,” she has kept her baronial estate’s coffers full. But when US spy J. F. Trusdale saves her from assassins, she’s pulled into a search for a scientist with an invisibility serum. As royal foes create an invisible army to start a global war, Constance and Trusdale must learn to trust each other. If they don’t, the world as they know it will disappear before their eyes.

If you like the Parasol Protectorate or the Invisible Library series, you’ll love this gaslamp fantasy—a rambunctious romantic romp that will have you both laughing out loud and wishing you owned all of Miss Haltwhistle's armaments.




Chapter 1: A Night To Remember

Tuesday, May 18, 1897: The Royal Steamwerks Exhibition Dome, Sheffield, England

THE GRASS WAS ALWAYS GREENER in another dimension. Miss Constance Haltwhistle imagined that in a parallel world, she was actually enjoying her coming-out ball. A taller, less red-haired version of herself was waltzing in the arms of a dashing beau. Young noblemen, resplendent in white tie, were lining up for the opportunity to propose holy matrimony.

And no one had tried to kill her in weeks.

Her score for the evening stood at marriage proposals, none; embarrassing incidents, two dozen and counting. Dropping an ivory fan into the punch bowl had raised eyebrows. Wearing steel-toed ankle boots instead of dance slippers had drawn more gasps than she’d anticipated. And mistaking a cigar in an earl’s pocket for a concealed weapon, then demanding he disarm himself before she damned well did it for him . . .

Alas, sometimes a cigar was just a cigar.

She strode through the crowd, recalled her need for an instant husband, and added a coquettish swing to her bustled behind. She glanced over her shoulder as laughter erupted from her aristocratic guests. Her unmarked dance card lay upon the parquet floor.

She’d missed her bustle pocket. Again.

Cheeks aflame, she scooped up the errant card and scurried into a forest of willowy debutantes. Each swan-necked beauty held the attention of at least three bachelors, none of whom spared Constance a second look as she made her way toward the center stage.

Mentally rehearsing her—hopefully crowd-pleasing—speech, she skirted the edge of the dance floor. Shoulders hunched, she snuck glances at her guests as they clustered in their favorite cliques. They posed and preened, blissfully unaware of the multiverse, ever secure in the knowledge there was safety in numbers.

Thanks to her portal-tripping mad scientist of a father, she, alone, knew better.

Perhaps in one of those alternate worlds, she was already dead? A pale corpse, slumped beside the dance floor, crimson life staining the parquetry as the orchestra played on. Or she was dying, cradled in the arms of a love-struck Adonis who dabbed her brow as she murmured, “No, really I’m fine. Do try the vol-au-vents.”

Oh, how he’ll miss me.

The dance floor teemed with euphoric couples gazing into one another’s eyes. Drunk on champagne and true love, they eddied like rose petals in a whirlpool. Constance stomped by, thoroughly regret- ting her choice of footwear. The floor trembled beneath her boots as three dozen formally attired couples waltzed to “The Blue Danube” with the precision of an infantry brigade. Heirloom tiaras glittered in the gaslight under the vaulted glass dome—a crystal bauble beneath infinite darkness, built by humans who reached for the heavens but fell short. Without the dazzling lure of the exhibition hall, she’d have been a party of one, but the gallery’s artistic display of military hardware had proven to be an irresistible draw for her two hundred guests.


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About Elizabeth Chatsworth:

Elizabeth Chatsworth is a British author and actor based in Connecticut. She loves to write of rogues, rebels, and renegades across time and space. She's the author of THE BRASS QUEEN (January 2021), an award-winning fantasy set in an alternate Victorian age. When she’s not writing, Elizabeth works as a voice-over actor. There’s a rumor she possesses the world’s best scone recipe. Contact her at www.elizabethchatsworth.com to see if it’s true!


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