Gabrielle is my full length Victorian available today as a download and coming soon as a print book. This book was the first I ever wrote and that was over ten years ago and I sat on it. This story has had so many versions (as a book normally does when it's in the growing pains part of the creative process) In the end I have written a book that I'm proud of and can't wait to hear from my readers... here is a short excerpt of this title
Cawnpore, India May 1857
Smoke and dust hung like a heavy veil in the humid air. The miasma of death assaulted the Duke of Kendrick as he rode into the center of the British army garrison.
No matter where he looked, total destruction met his gaze. Shredded garden flowers littered the earth like macabre pieces of colored confetti. A child’s rag doll lay on the ground, forgotten by the little owner. Overturned water buckets, parasols and bonnets were strewn about. The Union Jack that once proudly flew from the center of the garrison parade grounds, hung torn and burned, dragging the earth.
With narrowed eyes he took in his surroundings, a preternatural silence met his ears. He turned in the saddle praying he would find some sign of life. Where were the soldiers and families that called this place home?
He dismounted and drew his sword from its scabbard as he cautiously moved into one building after another, finding broken furniture, paintings shredded and scattered about. Damaged swords and abandoned firearms gave evidence of the brutal fight the garrison had endured. And lost.
Where was Gabrielle? Panic gripped his stomach with an iron fist when all he heard was the sound of his own footfalls, echoing against the wood floors in each building he searched.
A small house, isolated from the rest of the buildings drew Devlin. The outside façade showed little damage which he found disconcerting when he considered all he’d seen thus far. He pushed the door open, the creaking of the hinges sounding like gunfire in the thick silence. Immediately he noted the interior was not so fortunate. Stuffing had been pulled from the chairs, tables were overturned. A crystal decanter lay shattered, the pieces of glass, glinting in the sun, the fading scent of whisky drifted in the dusty air that came through the door. The ticking of a clock reverberated obscenely loud in the stillness. What should have been a calming sound, grated on Devlin’s raw nerves. Each swing of the pendulum a taunt, reminding him of the precious seconds slipping away. Seconds not spent looking for Gabrielle.
Devlin gripped his sword tightly, needing the connection to his weapon to ground him in the here and now. When his best friend, Andrew sent the letter to him, requesting help in evacuating his family from India, Devlin never thought for a moment the rumors of the uprising would lead to so much destruction. Or that war would be made on the innocent women and children of the garrison. It was unheard of. But evidence to the contrary was hard to ignore when forced to face the obliteration of the once strong British garrison.
He turned on his heel, taking in his surroundings. Shadows filled the corners and it took him a moment to realize this place smelled different. There was no spilt blood, no lingering gunpowder or sweat filling the space. Instead he noted something spicy in the air, maybe cinnamon, a total dichotomy to the destroyed rooms. How could it smell so inviting and yet be in the center of a mutiny?
A leather bound book lying amongst the debris caught his eye. Bending, he retrieved it and dusted the dirt off the cover and opened the small tome. With his heart in his throat, he read the first page.