by Kathleen Baldwin
Pub. Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: Tor Teen
It’s 1814. Napoleon is exiled on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, has become one of Regency England’s dark little secrets. The daughters of the beau monde who don't fit high society’s constrictive mold are banished to Stranje House to be reformed into marriageable young ladies. Or so their parents think. In truth, Headmistress Emma Stranje, the original unusual girl, has plans for the young ladies—plans that entangle the girls in the dangerous world of spies, diplomacy, and war.
After accidentally setting her father’s stables on fire while performing a scientific experiment, Miss Georgiana Fitzwilliam is sent to Stranje House. But Georgie has no intention of being turned into a simpering, pudding-headed, marriageable miss. She plans to escape as soon as possible—until she meets Lord Sebastian Wyatt. Thrust together in a desperate mission to invent a new invisible ink for the English war effort, Georgie and Sebastian must find a way to work together without losing their heads—or their hearts...
Lunatics and Thieves“Charming girl,” Sebastian intoned to my retreating backside.
I didn’t give him the satisfaction of turning around. What’s more I had no desire to see the cocky smirk on his face. For that matter, I never wanted to see him or his shockingly blue eyes again. Ever. I rubbed my upper arm where, for some strange reason, I could still feel him holding me. There was no rational explanation for this phenomenon, except Sebastian was a devil and his fingers left scorch marks.
How dare he think I had nothing but fripperies occupying my thoughts. It wasn’t his formula under discussion, was it? No. If I had only ribbons and lace rolling around in my brain, how did he suppose I’d made a recipe for undetectable invisible ink? Never mind that I’d nearly roasted myself alive while mixing it. I had something Lord Evil-Eyes coveted. Why he wanted it prickled and niggled at my brain like an unreachable itch. I vowed to find the answer.
I stiffened my spine enough to satisfy even my mother, tramped up a flight of stairs, made a left turn, and marched down the hall. The second door on the right stood ajar. I peeked into the dormitorium. Hardly a dormitorium. The dim light made it difficult to see, but it appeared to be simply an overly long bedroom with a fireplace at the far end, a few dressing screens, and two large beds arranged along one wall, divided by armoires and side tables. Across from them stood another bed, a writing desk, and a deep window seat.
I took a deep breath and headed in, but came to a sudden halt. My mouth fell open. “What are you doing?” I balled up my fists and stomped toward the three girls leaning over my portmanteau. “Get away from my trunks.”
The tallest of them spun around and I found myself staring at the sharp tip of a dagger. Candlelight glinted against the merciless steel. This was a fighting knife. Judging by my attacker’s fierce glare, rumors about the girls in this school didn’t do them justice. I realized that they might well be murderers or dangerous thieves. Or even madwomen. My bravado sank to the floor leaving me naked with terror, even my thin cloak of anger fell away in tatters. I had nothing left to keep me from shivering. Not even pride.
Her blade did not quiver. That was only me. She held it steady, the point less than an inch from my face. I dared not breathe.
The girl beside her laid a hand on my assailant’s arm, gently lowering the knife. “Put it away, Tess. There’s no need for that.”
“She’s trouble.” Tess frowned at me. “I can tell.”
“Obviously, or she wouldn’t be here.”
Tess grumbled low in her throat, but she flipped the blade, pulled up her skirt, and slid the dagger into a sheath strapped on her calf.
I crossed my arms protectively and struggled to regain an ounce or two of my dignity. “And you?” I asked the girl who appeared to have more control over her emotions. “What are you? Murderers? Or just thieves?”
It was Tess who answered. With a defiant tilt of her chin she reached back, snatched my riding boots from the trunk, and chucked them into an armoire that stood open. “Neither. We were merely helping you unpack.”
I knew better. The armoire was empty except for the boots. “I see, and you’re a liar, as well.” I glanced pointedly at the bandage on her arm. “Now I understand why Miss Stranje locked you in the mummy case. How fortunate for you. I’m surprised she didn’t give you a turn on the rack. In London they hang thieves.”
“Fortunate?” she practically spit the word at me. “You don’t know anything about me. I wasn’t in the case.” She tossed back her long dark hair and tilted her head sideways, indicating the girl who had rescued me. “That would’ve been Jane.”
She didn’t seem the sort of girl who deserved to be shut inside a spiked coffin. She seemed exactly the type of young lady my mother wanted for a daughter. Her alabaster skin and pert smile would’ve charmed all the women at Lady Frampton’s card party. But I didn’t trust her any more than I did Tess. Nothing was as it seemed in this house.
"I love adventure in books and in real life. I've roamed the Rocky Mountains, wandered the desert, enjoyed way too many classes in college, was stalked by a mountain lion, lost an argument with a rattlesnake, fell in love at least a dozen times, finally met and married my very own hero, and together we've raised four free-spirited children."
Award-winning author - Kensington published four of Kathleen's Regency romantic comedies, including MISTAKEN KISS, a Holt Medallion finalist. DIARY OF A TEENAGE FAIRY GODMOTHER, was a Golden Quill finalist. Her upcoming Historical YA series with TorTeen, A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS, is a Junior Library Guild Selection and won a Marlene.
News and more at: www.Kathleenbaldwin.com
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