Published by Crooked Lane Books on February 13th 2018
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Acclaimed author D. M. Quincy is back with a second captivating mystery as adventurer Atlas Catesby must put aside his own feelings for Lady Lilliana as they work together to get justice for someone she holds dear.
Aristocratic adventurer Atlas Catesby has spent the last year trying to forget Lady Lilliana Warwick, but when she reappears in his life imploring him to help her solve a murder, Atlas feels compelled to say yes.
The ner’re-do-well brother of Lilliana’s maid died of arsenic poisoning. Authorities are ruling his death an accident, but his sister suspects he was murdered. As Atlas and Lilliana investigate, they discover that the victim had a mysterious lover—a high-born lady he threatened with scandal after she spurned him. When they finally uncover her shocking true identity, the case blows wide open and it turns out there is a whole string of women who had reason to kill the handsome charmer. Now, as Atlas fights his growing feelings for Lilliana, they must work together to catch the assassin before the killer gets to them first.
Perfect for fans of Charles Finch and C. S. Harris, Murder in Bloomsbury is the magnificent second Atlas Catesby mystery.
“Sir? Are you awake?” The distant voice, halting and uncertain, cut through the morning stillness, penetrating Atlas Catesby’s deep slumber. “He says it’s urgent.”
Atlas rolled over, his body heavy with lethargy. It took a moment for his valet’s voice to pierce his slumber-slogged mind. He swallowed against the dryness in his throat, his voice scratchy. “What is it?”
“I’m sorry to disturb you, sir.” Jamie spoke hesitantly. Just a few short months ago, he’d been a houseboy in a modest country home and was still adjusting to his newly elevated status as a gentleman’s valet.
“Then why are you?” Trying to recall what day it was, Atlas pressed a palm flat against his left temple, where sharp pain hammered like a righteous blacksmith behind his eye.
“There’s a message for you. It was just delivered.”
So early in the morning? “What time is it?”
“Half past ten, sir.”
Atlas blinked and tried to order his mind. He rarely slept late. The reason for his current somnolent state, for the relentless drumbeat in his head, slowly took shape in his memory. Last evening’s events flowed back like a lazy river, filling the fuzzy spaces in his mind. He remembered a prodigious amount of wine as well as the source of the cinnamon scent that still lingered in the air. Her uncomplicated feminine smile had beckoned him to bed, a balm for the inner bleakness that had permeated almost everything since his recent return to London.
He slid a hand across to the other side of the bed, only to find an empty space where she should have been. The cool bedclothes suggested the spot had been abandoned hours ago. Relief loosened his muscles, even as a stab of guilt assailed him.
The door creaked as Jamie pushed it farther open. His eyes widened at something on the worn parquet floor.
“Begging your pardon, sir.” He flushed, painful florid splotches painting his full cheeks. The boy’s curious gaze darted to the mahogany-framed bed and bounced away from it just as quickly.
Atlas lifted his weight onto one elbow, squinting as a sharp blade of morning light cut across his face. Following the trail of Jamie’s gaze, he spotted the cause of his valet’s discomfiture. A woman’s stays were strewn on the floor next to the pantaloons Atlas had carelessly tossed aside during the previous evening’s urgent, slightly drunken coupling.
Atlas felt the heat rise in his own face. He was still unaccustomed to having servants underfoot during his most private moments. And the boy had never witnessed his master in intimate company with a woman, not since coming into his employ almost a year ago. Granted, Atlas had been gone most of that time, but still, he did not make a practice of taking respectable ladies to bed in order to slake his lust.
“Leave the message on the table.” He spoke curtly, suddenly feeling self-conscious of his nudity beneath the bedclothes, even though, as his valet, Jamie had certainly seen him stripped to the skin before.
The boy seemed to find the bedpost’s ornate carving extraordinarily interesting, for his gaze never left it. “It’s just that…you see…there’s…” he stammered.
Atlas suppressed a curse. How long was Jamie going to remain in the chamber? “What is it? Spit it out.”
Jamie cleared his throat, shifting from one long gangly leg to the other but showing no apparent inclination to quit the room. “There’s a footman here. He insists on waiting for your answer or for you to accompany him.”
“Accompany him where? Whose footman is he?” Few people knew he was in town, save his friend, the Earl of Charlton, who employed Jamie whenever Atlas traveled abroad. “Is the note from Charlton?”
“I’m sure I couldn’t say, sir. But his livery…it’s the same as the bloke that came last fall.”
Atlas froze. It couldn’t be. “Black-and-gold livery?”
“Yes, sir.” Jamie nodded eagerly. “That’s it.”
A bittersweet sensation sliced through his lungs. Black-and-gold livery could only belong to the Duke of Somerville. Lilliana’s brother. Not Lilliana, he reminded himself harshly. Roslyn. Lady Roslyn Lilliana Sterling. The woman he’d been trying to forget for the past nine long months.
Slipping out from under the bedclothes, he touched his feet to the frayed carpet. Unmindful of his bare state, he strode across the chamber and reached for his crumpled clothes.
“I wonder what the devil he wants.” Atlas pulled on his trousers, half skipping on one foot to maintain his balance. Pulling his linen shirt over his head, he slipped out to his sitting room and crossed barefoot into the entry hall, where the duke’s servant awaited him.
The polished brass buttons and gold braiding adorning the young man’s uniform glittered like twinkling stars against the fine black wool fabric. The footman wore the livery to excellent advantage; he was tall and well made, as were all the footmen in Mayfair’s finest homes. Only the best accoutrements would do for the metropolis’s highest born.
And few births were superior to Somerville’s. Even among dukes, he stood at the highest rung, just below the royal dukes. Although, if the rumors were to be believed, Somerville was wealthier than the Royals.
Atlas took the note and broke the seal. He hadn’t recognized the emblem on the previous occasion when the young duke had written to him, but now the glossy smooth wax medallion made him think of the man’s sister.
Somerville had, of course, used an entire sheet of paper to write the short note. Cost was no issue. The missive, written in fluent, confident strokes, bade Atlas to attend his grace at his earliest convenience. Nothing else. No explanation. It was practically a command.
Irritation simmered along the surface of Atlas’s skin. He wasn’t one of Somerville’s lackeys. He crumpled the sheet in one large hand, intent on instructing the footman to tell his employer to go to the devil.
But—he paused—what if something had happened to Lilliana? Or one of her children? His resolve to stay away, to put Lilliana from his mind, evaporated like morning dew once the sun broke.
He gave the footman a sharp nod. “Inform his grace that I’ll attend him this afternoon.”
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Question: D.M Quincy likes to read and write historicals because she enjoys exploring the manners and societal restrictions of the time. What do you like about reading about the past? Do you have a favorite historical time period and place that you like to read about?