top left image
top right image
bottom left image
bottom right image

Lockwood cover 140x229



     William Devaliant, Lord Lockwood, was born into a charmed life. Charismatic, powerful, and wild, he had the world at his feet—and one woman as his aim. His wedding to Anna was meant to be his greatest triumph. Instead, in a single moment, a wicked conspiracy robbed him of his future and his freedom.

     Four years later, Liam has returned from death with plans for revenge. Standing in his way, though, is his long-absent bride. Once, he adored Anna’s courage. Now it seems like a curse, for Anna refuses to fear or forget him. If she can’t win back Liam’s love, then she means at least to save his matter the cost.

The Sins of Lord Lockwood - Excerpt

Anna had never set foot inside her husband’s London townhouse. They had met and fallen in love in the north of Scotland; he had wed and then abandoned her in Edinburgh. But she felt as though she knew the house from top to bottom. The newspapers were full of florid descriptions. The Times particularly admired the Moorish touches that Lockwood had added to the salons. The Telegraph preferred the stately dignity of his Louis XIV dining room. Everybody agreed that the Earl of Lockwood had laudable taste. Nobody mentioned that this taste was funded by Anna’s money. The earl had been broke as a fishmonger when she’d married him.

Since she had paid for Lockwood’s furnishings, she felt no compunction at going to explore them, regardless of the hour, regardless that her husband had no idea she was in town. Then again, after years spent traveling only heaven knew where, he had not bothered to inform her of his return. So why should she prove more polite?

Indeed, did he even know she was alive? Had he bothered to check? How much more of her money had he spent, this week? Would he guess that she was armed, and not in case of brigands?

These questions made fine games as she watched London pass, the streets wet and dirty. The hired coach was moving at a good clip, but the interior smelled musty. Had the city outside it not smelled worse—a fetid mix of coal-smoke and sewage—she might have opened the window.

It was eight in the evening. Beggars gathered around burning cans of rubbish to keep warm. Respectable folk strode past them, mufflers drawn against the spring chill, no tenderness in their faces as they looked through their starving brethren. A faint suggestion of lilac sunset still clung to the rim of the English sky.

“This city’s huge,” murmured the girl across from her. Jeannie’s eyes were wide with wonder.

Anna spared a moment’s pity for her. Jeannie had been raised on romances. She believed that all the filth might be hiding something interesting.

As they passed Westminster Cathedral, Jeannie sat straighter. “I know what that is! I’ve seen it in books!”

“You read the wrong books,” Anna said. She had tried to train Jeannie into assisting with her experiments, but the girl’s literacy proved strangely changeable: when science was involved, Jeannie forgot how to read. She made a passable lady’s maid, though; her favorite magazines included extensive discussions of
au courant hairstyles.

“And there!” Jeannie laid a finger to the glass. “Is that the Tower, where they killed poor Nan Boleyn?”

Jeannie also enjoyed history, but only the gruesome bits. “No. But it would not surprise me if every inch of this city were haunted by unfortunate wives.” At Jeannie’s skeptical look, Anna shrugged. “Englishmen make very poor husbands.”

Jeannie grimaced. She was petite, with a doll-like, heart-shaped face, peaches-and-cream skin, and striking black curls. Gentleman on the train had stared. Jeannie’s mother, suspicious of her daughter’s enthusiasm for this trip, had begged Anna to make certain she didn’t elope with a

all of them, surely!” Jeannie said. “Some Englishmen must be—”

“All of them.”

Jeannie slumped.

The sights out the window changed, grew cleaner and more orderly. The hackney-driver had lifted his brows at the address Anna had given, and now she saw the reason for it. Mayfair looked a different species of city than the environs they had passed: clean and well-swept pavements, smooth roads, and manicured parks around which large houses with bright-striped awnings marched in orderly lines.

The coach slowed, drawing up at the curb beside a house lit from top to bottom. Anna cracked the window. The faint strains of a jig flavored the night air.

The newspapers had also spoken of her husband’s penchant for parties. He used these glamorous gatherings to introduce his friends to new artists. Apparently one such party was underway tonight.

She was not dressed for it. Her wool cloak was travel-stained, and beneath it she wore a walking dress of brown taffeta on which Jeannie had sloshed tea not three hours before. If somebody mistook her for a maid... She loosed a slow breath.

A fine anger had been brewing in her for days now. She had good reasons for her trip to London, and only one of them concerned her husband. Nevertheless, what a waste if she did not get to hit somebody! Preferably it would be Lockwood, but in a pinch, any of his friends would serve.

Jeannie saw her temper. The girl was clever when it came to people. She caught Anna’s wrist as the driver opened the door for them. “A hotel?” she suggested. “The guidebook recommended several. We could dress your hair, and change into something more...fitting? The English are very formal, you know.”

“Are they, indeed? What an expert you are.” Marvelous, too, how Jeannie’s accent kept changing to match their surroundings. In Newcastle, she’d dropped her r’s; by the time the train had passed Peterborough, she’d lost her lilt. “Tell me,” Anna said. “How does a girl raised by Loch Lomond sound more English now than the Queen?”

Jeannie blushed. “Oh, ma’am. I have always wanted to visit London. You know it!”

“I do know it. And I warn you, if I catch you humming a single bar of ‘Rule, Britannia,’ I’ll leave you behind when I go home.”

Jeannie sniffed and flounced out of the cab. The poor goose had grown up dreaming of sparkle and lace. Hoping for luxury, she’d leapt at the chance to work as a lady’s maid, just as her mother had once done for Anna’s mother. But what a disappointment she’d found in her mistress’s households! Wool instead of silk, mud in the carpets, whisky in tin cups instead of champagne.

Nevertheless, Anna had promised to supervise and educate her, and she would continue to do her best at it. “I am the mistress of this house,” Anna said after joining Jeannie on the curb. “However I dress is precisely how I am meant to dress. It is the guests who will feel themselves inappropriate. Do you understand?”

The girl opened her mouth to argue, then evidently thought better of it. With a hike of her chin, she followed the driver around back to oversee the removal of the luggage.

Anna adjusted the hem of her cloak, straightened her shoulders, and marched up the steps to bang the knocker.

The door creaked open. Somebody had left it ajar. Somebody was getting sacked tonight. Anna did not pay for incompetence in her staff.

She stepped into the entry hall, a rectangular space paved by checkerboard marble, topped by a curving split staircase, also of marble. The English had no restraint: they piled ancient statues into every nook and cranny, and managed to find ways to make staircases expensive. That bronze balustrade had probably cost her a year’s interest on her harvest profits in the lowlands.

From behind her came some noise. She turned and found herself locking eyes with a squat, barrel-chested man whose bald skull gleamed in the gaslight.

“Guest?” he croaked—then frowned as his gaze ran down her bedraggled cloak. “Servants around the back,” he said, and shot a stream of tobacco juice into a spittoon standing behind the door.

Anna snorted.
The English are very formal, are they? “I am no servant.” Whereas Jeannie’s accent had smoothed, her own had grown new burls with every southbound mile they’d traveled. She now sounded like one of the islanders, and the little man frowned in consternation.

“What?” he demanded. “Speak English.”

She stepped toward him. He looked startled by his own retreat, and moved his hand into his jacket—a threatening gesture which she acknowledged with a lift of one brow.

“Go ahead,” she said. “Brandish a weapon at your master’s wife.”

His jaw slackened. She caught a glimpse of the tobacco packed into his mouth. “You aren’t,” he said uncertainly.

She smiled.

She had not been born beautiful, like Jeannie. Her cousins teased her that her pale green eyes were witchy, her copper hair the color of devil’s flames. But she had been born with a talent for smiling: with the mere curve of her mouth, she could make men stumble and gape, or quail in momentary fear, for reasons they would never manage to explain to themselves.

The brute was not immune. He let go his weapon, his eyes widening. “You are the countess.”

She narrowed her eyes. What an odd remark. Had Lockwood been
describing her to his staff? “Naturally. And your name, sir?”

“Danvers. But, ma’am, his lordship ain’t…” His gaze shifted past her. Jeannie was staggering across the threshold, a trunk sliding from her grip.

“Assist Miss Galbraith,” Anna said. “And have our rooms aired and readied. Which way is Lord Lockwood?”

The man made a helpless grunt. Then he lifted his finger to point down the darkened hall. “But ma’am—my lady—I’ll warn you—”

She did not accept advice from rogues. Besides, what news could he impart of her husband that she did not already know? It took an utter blackguard to abandon his newlywed bride on her wedding night, and to disappear for three years without a word, much less to let her discover his return, months delayed, by a headline in the newspaper.

“Help Miss Galbraith,” she repeated coolly, and turned on her heel to find her errant husband.

The noises of the party drew her around the corner, and to doors that opened into a long gallery. Pausing there, she beheld a scene of complete debauchery: gentlemen in shirtsleeves with waistcoats flapping, women powdered and painted, feathers sagging from their hair. A stray dog or two frolicked amidst scraps thrown by cheeky boys. Violinists were wandering the crowd, sawing out street ditties—multiple ditties, none of them in tune. One wore a monkey on his shoulder. The creature was lifting his little hat in time to the music.

Out the windows that lined one side of the gallery, torches lit a lawn filled with couples. Half of them appeared to be dancing, but to no uniform rhythm or step. Pieces of clothing littered the grass—and glittering shards of broken glasses—and bodies, intertwined.

“Goodness,” she murmured. But her own voice was lost in the din of chatter and discordant tunes and the sudden explosion of a bottle hurled into the wall. “Watch for the paintings!” somebody cried.

It was then that she noticed the other wall of the gallery.

The paintings there showed scenes of slaughter.

After a moment, when her pulse slowed, she realized that these must be the Ashdown paintings. She had read about them in a newspaper she’d purchased at the platform in Peterborough. Her husband was a patron of the artist, Miss Aurora Ashdown, and had hosted an exhibit recently for the titillation of his English friends.

Patron. She wondered if that was a polite euphemism, and Miss Ashdown was his mistress. Otherwise, why would he promote such nightmarish scenes? The artist had talent, but taste…?

She averted her eyes from the paintings. The people cavorting beneath them hardly made a better sight. Gritting her teeth, she picked up her skirts and shoved her way into the crowd, using her elbows to clear a path for herself.

“Hey! Watch yourself—”

“Oi, sweetheart! What’s your hurry?”

She pivoted sharply at this last remark, catching the startled eye—and then, between her thumb and forefinger, the ear—of a lad who looked barely old enough to shave.

“What was that?” she asked sweetly. “Whose sweetheart am I?”

He blinked, his reddened eyes and chinless, sallow face lending him the look of a snared rabbit. “I—I—I reckon you’re nobody’s, ma’am!”

Not the cleverest retraction, but the sentiment served. Anna released him, wiped her hand on her skirts, and resumed her progress.

It did occur to her, as glass crunched under her boot and she spied the salon ahead, that she might not recognize Lockwood. Three years and eight months, after all. She herself had changed, so she liked to think. She had far better taste now than to trifle with bankrupt English lordlings, particularly those who had no better use for her money than the despoiling of decency and common sense—

There he was.

She drew up a foot inside the salon, watching through narrowed eyes as William Alexander Knollys Devaliant, fourth Earl of Lockwood, extricated himself from a sofa heaped with three scantily clad women, his balance clearly unsteady.

A pair of hands clung to him as he rose. Those hands attached to a woman whose hair had been dyed a brassy false red. Lockwood, stepping forward, looked surprised to find himself caught. Looking down and discovering the hands that held him, he pulled them free, lifting one of them to his mouth for a kiss.

“No.” Anna’s voice rang out. “I will not pay for


Intrigued? You can purchase The Sins of Lord Lockwood from any of these fine establishments: