A fine lady must pose as a mere snip of a housemaid to carry off a bold diamond heist. The catch? Her humble disguise exposes her to the harsh law of domestic discipline. This fast-paced Victorian historical crime novel moves from the infamous bordellos of London to the perverse practices of an isolated manor house full of eccentrics.
Targeted Age Group:: adults
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
There's nothing more inspiring than a spunky anti-heroine willing to go undercover to carry off her heist.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My past experience working undercover gave me insight into the criminal mind. Con artists and the creators of elaborate heists tend to be charming, creative, and oh so devious.
A serving wench bent low over their table to present the creamy upper globes of her exposed bosoms. The setting down of two tin mugs of the inn's finest ale was almost a secondary consideration. Clubb might not be beloved by his criminal rivals, but his generosity won him the affection of working people and tavern owners everywhere he went.
As expected, Clubb dropped a coin in the slot provided between those heaving bosoms. Neither he nor Dolly spoke again until the wench had taken her abundant décolletage― and keen ears― to another table some distance away.
“Your missive spoke of a matter that might advantage both of us,” Dolly finally said. “That I have arrived here tells you I am currently open to such…” She selected the next words carefully. “A new venture.”
Clubb sat back on the bench to peer directly into her eyes. “The money from the Bath affair has not lasted as long as you thought it might.” It was a statement, not a question.
The intensity of his gaze warmed her cheeks. As did the memory of how she'd vowed to the old bastard that she'd never again need to play a part for her supper.
Well. The best intentions go awry, as the poet once said. Stolen money spends easy. She offered no excuse or any other comment on the matter.
He continued to consider her as objectively as a farmer considers the purchase of a doubtful heifer. “You are well into your twenties now, an old maid by some standards.”
“I'm twenty-three.” Her tone was neutral, even cool.
Still, her rose-petal skin, long white pianist's hands, and abundance of brunette curls didn't change the reality that she would never pass for sixteen again. Few years remained for Dolly to play the part of the fresh-picked virgin so many men preferred.
“And I wouldn't like to think I wasted my investment in your education,” he said.
“You profited well enough from the Bath affair, did you not? And I've not lost my touch over the intervening years. Come. Tell me. What is the part you would have me play?” Her accent changed. “A princess from Carpathia?” And changed again. “A duchess from Saxony?”
He looked away, and Malcolm Clubb never looked away. “You are the only one who can play this very special role, my lovely Dolly.”
The indirection of his plea stirred a sense of unease, but Dolly knew how to put on a mask of calm. “Yes, yes, to be sure, but I cannot play a role until you tell me what it is. The time has come to talk of many things.”
“Very well.” He downed the last dregs of his ale, then set down the mug with a decisive clatter. “Have you heard of the Utrecht Green Diamond?”
Cherry Redde has visited crumbling castles and sprawling manor houses all over the United Kingdom and Europe in her search for the perfect setting.
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