Come one, come all, and come as you are – welcome to our Steampunk Revelry! Dance, sing, kiss the absinthe fairy and make a wish… Today we celebrate Viola Carr’s new release, THE DEVIOUS DR. JEKYLL!
This is the second book in my new Electric Empire series, starting with THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE – it’s an edgy, gender-flipped, darkly romantic steampunk retelling of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, where Dr. Eliza Jekyll is a crime scene investigator in a steampunky mid-Victorian London.
Solving the notorious Chopper case was supposed to help crime scene physician Dr. Eliza Jekyll—daughter of the infamous Henry—establish her fledgling career in the chauvinistic world of Victorian law enforcement. But the scrutiny that comes with her newfound fame is unwelcome for a woman with a diabolical secret: her dark and jealous shadow self, Lizzie Hyde.
And there is the mercurial Royal Society agent with his own secret to hide, Captain Remy Lafayette. Does he want to marry Eliza or burn her at the stake? It’s impossible, however, for Eliza to push Remy away when he tempts her with the one thing she can’t resist: a bizarre crime to investigate. And although Eliza is uncertain about Remy, Lizzie isn’t. Lizzie wants to steal the magnetic and persistent agent and usurp Eliza’s life.
As the search for a bloodthirsty ritual torturer dubbed the Pentacle Killer draws Eliza and Remy into a terrifying world of spies, art thieves, and evil alchemy—where the price of immortality is madness or damnation—only Lizzie’s dark ingenuity can help Eliza survive. Eliza and Remy must race to thwart a foul conspiracy involving the sorcerous French, but they must also overcome a sinister enemy who is all too close to home: the vengeful Lizzie, who is determined to dispose of Eliza for good…
Read the excerpt, and join the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post for a chance to win a pretty jewelry prize!
Here’s a special excerpt for you, at a crime scene where Eliza is once again troubled by the appearance of her cocky and talented adversary, Captain Remy Lafayette of the feared Royal Society, who has the power to lock her up – or worse – if he catches her practising unorthodox science. Or is he just flirting as usual…?
Eliza stepped away, casually slipping that incriminating optical from her forehead. “Good morning, Captain Lafayette. I note your manners haven’t improved.”
“My manners shall never improve, Dr. Jekyll. You may rest assured.” Remy Lafayette made a flashy bow. Gold braid glittered on his scarlet cavalry officer’s tailcoat, with arc-pistol, sword and spurs all fighting to outdo each other for shine. A decorative fellow, no mistake. Lush chestnut curls, brilliant electric-blue eyes fit to melt an iceberg—or a lesser woman’s heart. Until, of course, one noticed the iron badge on his lapel, engraved with the words NULLIUS IN VERBA.
“Why? Is there a new Royal Society moratorium on gentlemanly behavior? Or heaven forbid, is your incorrigible buffoonery unauthorized?”
“Admit it: it amuses you to scold me.” Lafayette bent to pet Hippocrates. “If I failed to outrage, my entertainment value would swiftly degrade to negligible.”
“And it has such a long way to go. Hipp, come away.”
Harley Griffin nodded amiably. “Lafayette, how we’ve missed you. Still inflicting yourself where you’re not wanted?”
A jaunty tilt of sword. “I’m a Royal Investigator, Griffin old boy. Being unwanted is my job.”
“And you perform it peerlessly.”
Lafayette laughed, and the fat frame-maker shuffled and averted his gaze. Even Reeve’s constables edged away. A dangerous thing, this Royal Investigator’s mirth. The all-powerful Royal, under the dubiously enlightened guidance of their immortal Philosopher, made the rules. Science or superstition, orthodoxy or a burning for heresy—who was to know from day to day? And lately, the Royal’s efforts to weasel out scientific heretics had escalated from irritating and invasive to over-zealous and violent. No one was safe. Especially not Eliza Jekyll, alchemy addict, dabbler in dubious crime scene science—and afflicted with what her father’s notebooks liked to call a transcendental identity.
Inwardly, she shuddered. Remy Lafayette, IRS, hid uncanny secrets of his own, afflicted with a metamorphic monster more terrible than anything Henry Jekyll had envisaged. They’d reached an understanding while they’d worked to solve the Chopper case—hadn’t they?
Nullius in verba: “take nobody’s word for it.” An exhortation to see for yourself, to question blind assumptions. A rule she ought to keep in mind. She barely knew the man, after all. Any moment, he could lose his nerve and betray her to save himself a burning.
Bollocks, whispered Lizzie gaily. Ain’t the real reason you’ve got ants in your knickers, is it?
Lafayette clapped a constable on the shoulder. “Fantastic work, chaps. Keeping the streets safe, all that. I say, Griffin, do you mind if I borrow the good doctor a moment?”
“Oh, dear,” she said smoothly, “I’m afraid I’m urgently occupied. Perhaps next week—”
“Be my guest, sir,” interrupted Griffin, with a wicked grin. “I’ll muddle on without her.” And he wandered off, pretending not to see as she crossed exasperated eyes at him.
She swallowed on Lizzie’s jubilation. “What can I do for you, Captain?”
Lafayette tucked his hands behind his back, a flip of scarlet coattail. “I’d hoped to ask you the same. I can’t help but observe you’ve been avoiding me.”
She sidled around him, skirts squashing against the cluttered shop’s wall. “Nonsense. Terribly busy, you know. Must go, can’t stand around all morning indulging in chit-chat.”
He jumped into her path. “Up to your neck in it, are you?”
She sidestepped a pile of carved frame parts. “Didn’t I tell you? I’ve a new job, at the parish workhouses.”
“I’m all admiration—”
“—but enabling society’s exploitation of the poor? Hardly up to your enlightened standards.” He blocked her way again, brandishing that disarming smile.
In fact, she’d already been dismissed from the job, for accusing parish officials of embezzling church funds. It was true, but that greedy beadle had fired her anyway. Despicable man, stealing food from impoverished mouths. Just the thought of him tickled an indignant itch up her arms. “I take what criminal cases I can, thank you.”
Lafayette glanced at the crime scene, faking a shudder. “Villainy in the foulest! The Empire’s fate surely rests upon solving this enormity.”
Again, she tried to slip by in the cramped space. “Scoff if you will, sir. Police work isn’t all murders and mayhem. Now, if you’ll excuse me—”
“What if I could get you a real case?”
She halted, pulse thudding.
A knowing smile. “Gruesome, suspicious, the threat of sinister enemies unknown. A perfect chance to test your skills. Did I win you over yet?”
Want to see more?
You can read the first chapter on my website, where there are buy links.
Now for the prize! While you’re here – jump into the comments and tell me what you love best about steampunk. Let’s party!
Thanks for playing!