Haunted by her Future
Tainted. Degraded. Doomed. Doctors told Ella Arlington that her epilepsy would prevent her from living a normal life. When her cousin tries to put her in an institution, she flees to London, determined to control her own destiny. But while at a séance, Ella’s epileptic fit is mistaken for spiritual possession. Loath to reveal her scandalous condition, she goes along with the misperception, and soon finds herself attracting the attention of a devilishly handsome viscount determined to keep the past buried.
Tortured by his Past
Viscount Isidore Blackwood’s fiancée died with secrets he’s vowed to keep, but nothing could have prepared him for the arrival of a mysterious woman who’s rumored to have contacted her ghost. He doesn’t believe for a moment that Ella possesses supernatural powers. Her presence, however, shakes him to his core and when he accuses Ella of being a con artist, sparks unexpectedly ignite between them.
When some surprising truths come to light about Phillipa’s death, Isidore concocts a plan to stage a spectacle of a séance for the ton with Ella’s help. Their devil’s pact might just flush out a killer, but will Isidore let his fury and guilt consume his own soul in the process? And can Ella trust him enough to gamble on a future she never thought she could have?
by Joanna Lowell
“Debut author Lowell has crafted a lavish Victorian gothic romance with a rare disabled female protagonist who refuses to be a tragic victim of her time. Highly recommended for the frank portrayal of living with the stigma of a neurological disorder without sacrificing romantic tension.” —Library Journal, Starred Review
Sensuality Level: Sensual
Joanna Lowell divides her time between North Carolina and Vermont, where her family runs a small farm. Her love of books is rivaled only by her love of cows, particularly her brother’s wondrous Jersey, Blackberry.
An excerpt from Dark Season:
The room went dark. Chairs creaked and silks rustled as the audience members shifted in their seats. The air was cold, colder than it had been but a moment before. Ella shivered. The woman beside her was twisting her gloved hands.
“That chill … ” she murmured. “Do you feel it?”
Ella did feel it, the stroking cold. The hairs on the nape of her neck were rising.
“No more heat from the lamps,” she whispered. A dozen wall brackets had been burning when she had paid her admission and made her way to her chair. Of course, she’d focused her attention on the enormous cabinet with the heavy wine-red curtains in the front of the room—how could she not?—but she had noted the lights. Bright, warm globes. A cheering sight in an otherwise dingy space. Then the men who’d formed a gauntlet near the entrance, each waving a pamphlet or newsletter—“Are you a member, madam? Sir, would you take a paper? Proves human immortality is a scientific fact, page seven, absolutely free, and one shilling sixpence per quarter will get you a subscription.”—had abruptly ceased their proselytizing, fanned their literature out on the table, and turned all the lights off.
Without the flames of gaslights, rooms grew colder. That, at least, was a scientific fact. But could extinguishing the lamps really have produced that sudden icy breeze? Once she allowed the doubt to take shape, the chill seemed to worm its way deeper inside her. She would like to claim it was a draft, the dank wet air of the spring night seeping between the sash and sill of a poorly made window. But the room had no windows. And only one door. The skin on Ella’s face seemed to be tightening. Only one door. It was shut now.
A man called out in the darkness. “‘Hymn to the Night,’ “he said. As he began to sing, a wavering chorus picked up the tune. In the front of the room, between the cabinet and the first row of chairs, a candle flared, and another. Shadows wheeled wildly on the walls and ceiling. Ella craned her neck, trying to peer between shoulders. The woman beside her was breathing shallow, excited breaths. The man on her right bumped her with his elbow as he shifted. He’d dressed his hair with too much oil. The smell was cloying. Ella pressed her spine against the hard back of the chair. She squeezed her knees together. Cold sweat tickled under her arms. Too many people, and all of them far, far too close together. She was hemmed in. How many pairs of legs would she have to climb over to get to either end of the row? A dozen?
She shouldn’t have come.