Rosewood Manor has been ashes for weeks.
Left with no post and no home, Anne Tinning never expected to find herself in a luxurious carriage, dressed in the finest of clothes, pretending to be the wife of Lord August Grey. The search for Miss Bellingham, however, will require them to blend into the very height of London society, a class Anne has only ever served, and which August despises. But August insists that the ruse is the only way. For although they’ve vanquished the wraith that called for August’s life, they will never be safe unless they find a way to stop the woman he scorned.
There are traces of Lily Bellingham the length and breadth of London, but when Anne and August investigate the gruesome disappearances in a factory she has just purchased, they realize that Lily is more powerful than either of them. And she has devised a new way to take her revenge.
With another curse placed upon August’s head, Anne must find a way to defeat Lily, and this time, she will have no help from the young man she has grown to love. This time, the curse is more insidious, twisting him into someone unrecognizable.
This time, August Grey is the one she must fear.
Lush, lyrical, and layered in horror-filled suspense, Of Bells and Thorns evokes the feel of classic Gothic literature, blending the magic of a beautiful fairy tale against the rich backdrop of history.
The day Anne Tinning turns seventeen, birds fall from the sky. But that’s hardly the most upsetting news. She’s being dismissed from the home she’s served at since she was a child, and shipped off to become the newly hired parlor maid for a place she’s never heard of. And when she sees the run-down, isolated house, she instantly knows why:There’s something wrong with Rosewood Manor.
Staffed with only three other servants, all gripped by icy silence and inexplicable bruises, and inhabited by a young master who is as cold as the place itself, the house is shrouded in neglect and thick with fear. Her questions are met with hushed whispers, and she soon finds herself alone in the empty halls, left to tidy and clean rooms no one visits.
As the feeling of being watched grows, she begins to realize there is something else in the house with them–some creature that stalks the frozen halls and claws at her door. A creature that seems intent on harming her.
When a fire leaves Anne trapped in the manor with its Master, she finally demands to know why. But as she forces the truth about what haunts the grounds from Lord Grey, she learns secrets she isn’t prepared for. The creature is very real, and she’s the only one who can help him stop it.
Now, Anne must either risk her life for the young man she’s grown to admire, or abandon her post while she still can.
Valentina Cano is a student of classical singing who spends whatever free time she has either reading or writing. She also watches over a veritable army of pets, including her five, very spoiled, snakes. Her works have appeared in numerous publications and her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Web. She lives in Miami, Florida.
A paperback copy of the book!
“August, I’m exhausted.”
“What you are is out of practice.”
I couldn’t argue with him on that, even if I managed to find the strength to do so. It wasn’t like I’d had a lot of opportunity to use my powers after we left Rosewood Manor. Apart from exerting them on August himself when he’d refused the morphine and laudanum the doctor had prescribed for his leg and the pain had become too great to allow him sleep, my abilities had languished with disuse. As had his.
Not that anyone would be able to tell from the energy that was radiating off him now, ripples of it gathering all around him.
“Can’t we do this tomorrow?”
With no more warning that twitch of an eyebrow, August flung all of that coiled power at me.
No, I guessed we were doing this now.
I called on my abilities, but my mind and body were sluggish, the skills I’d chiseled into cutting shape to fight the wraith had dulled. Not completely, I knew that, but enough to allow August’s considerable powers to slam right into me.
I yelped, a whip of fire striking my entire body.
“You’re nor focusing, Anne. Remember, Lily is many times stronger than I am. Between the two of us, we might have a chance, but not if you can’t pull your weight.”
A flare of irritation lit my mind up, allowing me to gather my scattered powers into something I could wield.
I shoved back at his energy as if I were pushing closed a damp, swollen wooden door. “It’s funny you say that, because I don’t recall you pulling your weight with the wraith. If I remember correctly, you were unconscious through most of it.”
He smiled and flicked a finger at me, along with enough power to force me back a step.
Right, well, that was enough.
Shifting one leg forward to stiffen my stance, I thrust my hands in his direction.
The pressure around me eased, unravelling like torn silk, and the chandelier above us gave a crystalline whimper. It was now August’s turn to stagger back.
Sudden silence descended on the room and it took me much too long to realize why.
I frowned. The clock had stopped ticking.
“Now, I could be wrong, but I think I just grounded Mr. Rushworth’s clock,” I said.
August’s laughter was like a splash of cold water, sending a ripple down my spine.