Hi peeps, we have Joanna Chambers popping in today with her new release A Gathering Storm, we have a great excerpt and a fantastic giveaway, so check out the post and leave a comment to enter the giveaway! ❤ ~Pixie~
A Gathering Storm
When grief-stricken scientist Sir Edward Fitzwilliam provokes public scorn by defending a sham spiritualist, he’s forced to retreat to Porthkennack to lick his wounds. Ward’s reputation is in tatters, but he’s determined to continue the work he began after the death of his beloved brother.
In Porthkennack, Ward meets Nicholas Hearn, land steward to the Roscarrock family. Ward becomes convinced that Nick, whose Romany mother was reportedly clairvoyant, is the perfect man to assist with his work. But Nick—who has reason to distrust the whims of wealthy men—is loath to agree. Until Fate steps in to lend a hand.
Despite Nick’s misgivings, he discovers that Ward is not the high-handed aristocrat he first thought. And when passion ignites between them, Nick learns there’s much more to love than the rushed, clandestine encounters he’s used to. Nevertheless, Nick’s sure that wealthy, educated Ward will never see him as an equal.
A storm is gathering, but with Nick’s self-doubts and Ward’s growing obsession, the fragile bond between the two men may not be strong enough to withstand it.
Hello, reader friends! I’m Joanna Chambers and this is the blog tour for A Gathering Storm, my new Cornwall-set historical romance. I’ll be sharing thoughts on my experience of writing about eccentric Victorian scientists, pragmatic Romany land stewards and unscrupulous mediums – come and comment to win a copy of the book and a $25 Riptide gift card!
Welcome to Porthkennack, a charming Cornish seaside town with a long and sometimes sinister history. Legend says King Arthur’s Black Knight built the fort on the headland here, and it’s a certainty that the town was founded on the proceeds of smuggling, piracy on the high seas, and the deliberate wrecking of cargo ships on the rocky shore. Nowadays it draws in the tourists with sunshine and surfing, but locals know that the ghosts of its Gothic past are never far below the surface.
This collaborative story world is brought to you by five award-winning, best-selling British LGBTQ romance authors: Alex Beecroft, Joanna Chambers, Charlie Cochrane, Garrett Leigh, and JL Merrow. Follow Porthkennack and its inhabitants through the centuries and through the full rainbow spectrum with historical and contemporary stand-alone titles.
Check out Porthkennack!
Gradually, the taproom fell silent. The toff removed his hat and regarded the inn’s patrons with bright-eyed interest. He had a willowy sort of youthful grace—Nick guessed him to be somewhere in his twenties. His neatly side-parted hair was dark blond and his golden-brown eyes shone with intelligence and unconcealed curiosity. There was a delicacy to his clean-shaven face, with its fine, symmetrical features, yet there was firmness there too. Determination in the sharp jut of his jaw, boldness in the unshirking gaze.
Unexpectedly, desire rolled in Nick’s belly, cresting like a wave that broke and flooded through him. The strength of his reaction took him by surprise, and he had to glance away briefly to consciously school his expression before he allowed himself to look back.
The toff offered the assembled company a smile. “Good afternoon, gentlemen,” he said. Or rather barked.
Christ, that voice. The man might be fair, but his voice was scraping and hoarse. Nick waited for him to clear his throat, but he didn’t, merely continued in the same harsh tone.
“Allow me to introduce myself. I am your new neighbour, Sir Edward Fitzwilliam. I live close to the Hole—I’m sure you all know it. You may be aware that I’ve built a house there, where I carry out my work.” He offered another of those engaging smiles. “I am a scientist.”
“We know what you are,” a voice assured him from the back of the inn. “You’re the one messing around with ’lectricity and putting up lightning rods.”
Sir Edward craned his neck, trying to find the owner of that voice. “Well, that’s rather an oversimplification, but in essence, yes. I am investigating certain effects of electromagnetism, amongst other things. It is, as I’m sure you all know, an area that is being studied in some depth at this time. No doubt you’re all familiar with the work of Mr. Faraday.”
“Oh, to be sure!” someone else said, with a snort. “We’re regular professors here at the Hope and Anchor.”
That voice was closer, and familiar to Nick. Jed Hammett, one of Nick’s boyhood friends. These days he was a fisherman—at least, he was when his brothers could extract him from the village hostelries. He liked his rum, did Jed, and he was a belligerent drunk as Nick knew too well, having had more than one run-in with the man when he was in his cups, when Jed would decide that Nick had gotten above himself and needed taking down a peg or two.
There were a few muted chuckles at Jed’s comment. Sir Edward frowned, as though not quite sure if he was being laughed at, which he was, of course—at least as blatantly as a group of working men would ever laugh at a titled gentleman in broad daylight. Nick glanced about the taproom, taking in the shared glances and grins of the other patrons. On the other side of the room, Sir Edward’s servant looked like he wished the ground would swallow him up. Nick lifted his tankard and took another swallow of ale, waiting to see what would happen next.
“Well,” Sir Edward said, turning his head to address his comments to Jed. “Perhaps you might be interested in assisting with my experiments then? For that is my purpose today—I am seeking volunteers, and I am, of course, prepared to pay. Generously.”
He gazed at the assembled company with a bright, expectant look that made Nick’s gut twist. There was a spark of something in that hopeful look, something vital and rare. Something that he knew the other men in the taproom would see as nothing more than foolishness. That thought bothered Nick more than it ought to have, and he turned determinedly away to face the bar again, setting his tankard down on the wet wood and hunching over it, wanting nothing to do with that handsome, intriguing young man. Beside him, Snow pressed in close, his short, powerful body warm against Nick’s calf.
“So, milord, what would these volunteers ’ave to do?”
That was Jed again, the rich, round burr of his Cornish accent a stark contrast to Sir Edward’s upper-class rasp.
“Very little. Merely allow me to put them into an hypnotic trance, then open their minds to whatever messages might come to them from—” He faltered.
“From?” Jed prompted.
When Sir Edward spoke again, his voice sounded even harsher than before. More brusque. “From the spiritual plane—beyond the veil, if you will.”
“Beyond the veil?” Jed repeated, his words infused with real amusement now. There were some subdued chuckles from the other patrons too, and a few more backs turned on Sir Edward as some of them grew bored with the scene, preferring to buy themselves more beer. Jim took a flurry of orders while Martha began gathering in the empty tankards that were pushed forward.
“You want us to speak to spirits? What do you think we are?” the first voice from the back of the room called out. “Gypsies with crystal balls?”
More laughter greeted that, a little less subdued this time. Some ineffective shushing followed. Tense and angry, and still facing away from the excruciating scene between the toff and Jed Hammett, Nick gripped his tankard so hard his knuckles turned white. As though sensing his emotions, Snow rubbed his head against Nick’s leg, and Nick leaned down to give him a reassuring pat.
“Well now,” Jed chuckled behind Nick, “if it’s a Gypsy you’re looking for, milord, we’ve got someone right up your street.”
Nick stayed where he was, his back firmly to the room, but he knew from experience that more jibes would likely be coming, which probably meant that one of his regular half-joking, half-aggressive confrontations with Jed was inevitable. He really wasn’t in the mood for it today. Not in front of this comely young man with his devil’s bark of a voice who seemed to be oddly oblivious to being mocked.
But perhaps Sir Edward wasn’t as oblivious as Nick thought, for when he answered Jed, his voice was all icy anger. “Kindly do not presume to tell me what I’m looking for,” he snapped.
The impact of that was instantaneous. The muted chuckles died away, replaced by a newly respectful silence, and as pleased as he was to hear Jed being set down, Nick couldn’t stop his lip curling at that. This was typical, wasn’t it? The rich, titled gentleman presenting himself, uninvited, in the taproom of the local inn and expecting respect to be handed to him on a silver platter. Then reminding them all of his power when he didn’t get it.
Nick half expected Jed, a notorious hothead in his cups, to snap back. But perhaps the fisherman hadn’t yet had enough rum for that since, after a tense moment, he chuckled again and said, “I beg your pardon, milord, I didn’t mean to offend you. Why don’t you tell us what you’re looking for, and we’ll see if we can ’elp you.”
“As I said, I’m looking for volunteers,” Sir Edward replied stiffly. “I need subjects to work with me on my experiments—as many as I can get. I’ll take anyone who’s willing, but—and I apologise for the indelicacy of this—the recently bereaved would be especially welcome.”
Nick blinked at those succinct and coolly spoken words.
“The recently bereaved would be especially welcome.”
The toff said that as though it was an incidental thing. As though being recently bereaved was like having a particular colour of eyes.
“The bereaved?” Jed parroted, unconsciously reflecting Nick’s thoughts. “Why would they be especially welcome?”
“It’s been theorised that the recently bereaved are more receptive to communications from . . . the other side,” Sir Edward explained stiffly.
“Oh, I see, it’s been theorised, has it? Well I never!” Jed’s clumsy sarcasm mimicked the man’s upper-class intonation—so perhaps he’d had enough rum to be foolish after all. But this time no laughter greeted Jed’s mockery, only silence. An uncomfortable, difficult silence that stretched and waited for Sir Edward’s reaction.
“It seems,” Sir Edward said at last, his rasping voice pricking at Nick’s jagged nerves, “that I was mistaken in coming here. Furthermore, it seems—” and here he paused, before continuing in a louder voice that addressed everyone in the taproom, not only Jed “—that the men of Porthkennack don’t have nearly as much backbone as I’d thought they would. To be frank, I’m astonished to find that there is not one among you that isn’t too craven to take part in a few simple scientific experiments.”
The nature of the silence in the room shifted at that and the men slouching against the bar beside Nick began, slowly, to turn around to face Sir Edward again. With a muttered curse, Nick turned too, resenting his own foolish inability to mind his own business, while Snow circled Nick’s legs anxiously, butting his head against Nick’s calves.
The scientist stood in the middle of the taproom, his angry gaze travelling over the men gathered around him. His golden-brown eyes glittered with injured pride and his determined jaw was rigid—perhaps from biting back yet more ill-considered words. Again, Nick’s senses tingled in response to the man. He had a spark in him that called to Nick. Like the quickness of Godfrey’s new dappled-grey mare, or the glimmer of life he’d seen in Snow when he’d first laid eyes on the dog’s torn-up body in that alleyway in Truro. Why that should be, Nick had no idea. It made his brows draw together with displeasure till he was fairly glaring.
Jed said quietly but ominously, “Did I ’ear you right, milord? Did you just call the men in this taproom cowards? After what you did to Jago Jones?”
Jed was a big man. He topped Nick by at least three inches and Sir Edward by more like six. In bulk, he probably outweighed the scientist near enough two to one. Yet Sir Edward was uncowed. He glared at the big Cornishman with scorn in his eyes.
“Any man in this room who won’t accept my offer because of Mr. Jones isn’t just a coward, he’s a fool,” Sir Edward spat.
There were a few intakes of breath at that, and some uneasy murmuring.
Read more at: https://riptidepublishing.com/titles/a-gathering-storm (just click the excerpt tab)
Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. In between studying, finding a proper grown up job, getting married and having kids, she spent many hours staring at blank sheets of paper and chewing pens. That changed when she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna’s muse likes red wine, coffee and won’t let Joanna clean the house or watch television.
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