Skip to product information
1 of 1

Tilly Wallace

A Dangerous Ruse

A Dangerous Ruse

Regular price $5.99 USD
Regular price Sale price $5.99 USD
Sale Sold out
Shipping calculated at checkout.

Her opponents have her cornered, unless Sera makes an unexpected move…

Seraphina continues to pick at the secrets entangling her, when during a ball she spots a piece of enchanted jewellery eerily similar to the one she once wore. But before she can find out about the origins of the magical bracelet, its owner is murdered.

At least this time no one is blaming Sera.

To find the missing bracelet before it falls into the wrong hands, she must uncover the murderer. Her friends gather to investigate—could it be someone in the visiting Austrian delegation or are older grudges at play? They need to stop the person responsible before another life is lost or worse, many lives are irrevocably ruined.

Meanwhile the Mage Council plots to corner Seraphina using the oldest tool they have—forcing her into submission. If they lay their hands on the bracelet first, she will be powerless to resist. What she needs is a plan, some schnitzel, and a dangerous ruse…

Please note: Digital content (ebooks and audio) will be delivered via BookFunnel to the email address used at checkout.

How do I read my ebook?

  • Purchase the ebook instantly
  • Receive download link via email
  • Send to your preferred e-reader, or read in the BookFunnel app, and enjoy!

Read sample

London, August 1788

“Lady Winyard, Mistress of Drains.” Elliot read the headline aloud as he carried the newspaper into the room. He dropped it at her elbow on the desk, where Seraphina Winyard sat regarding the street out the window.
She placed her pen in its holder and pushed the newspaper away. “I cleared three drains and now I’m the sorceress of sewage.”
The footman snorted. “There was a lost opportunity for the newspaper. I’d like to see sorceress of sewage across the front page. What was blocking the latest one?”
“A thigh.” She watched the children outside bouncing a bright red ball among themselves. Had the owner of the leg once raced around with his friends without a care in the world or an inkling of the fate that awaited him?
Elliot leaned against the wall and crossed his arms. “A thigh with nothing else attached?”
“From the knee joint to the hip ball. I was told it’s not unusual to find body parts down the drains in that part of London.” Three times now the Mage Council had sent her out to aid the poorest area of the city, and she didn’t imagine that was a coincidence. Since she had thwarted their attempts to retain control of her, they dispensed horrid jobs with a petulant glee. Kitty’s father and his supporters were doing their bit to overturn the amendment to the Mage Act, but until the Mage Council was defeated in Parliament, she lived under a cloud.
Elliot raised his eyebrows. “Makes you wonder what goes on behind some doors. It’s not like a fellow just loses his entire upper leg.”
A rap at the door saved her from having to speculate on the origins of the body parts liberated from the narrow channels sweeping waste out to the Thames.
A familiar murmured voice came from the hall and Elliot reappeared, followed by the surgeon Hugh Miles. He clutched a battered leather satchel in his hands. On seeing her, he dropped it to the floor and slid off his hat.
“Good morning, Sera.” His tongue stuttered over her name, which, unlike Lady Winyard, was still unfamiliar territory to him. Sera thought Lady Winyard sounded like a dour old matron who never smiled.
“Good morning, Hugh. What a pleasant surprise. Elliot, do see if Rosie can rustle up a tea tray for us.” She waved at the footman.
Elliot grinned behind Hugh’s back, then the impertinent man puckered his lips and made a kissing motion. Sera moved to the settee and wriggled her fingers, sending an invisible smack to the back of Elliot’s head. A muffled oath from the footman made Hugh turn and frown.
“What brings you to this neighbourhood?” Sera asked, distracting her companion from the antics of her staff.
“I was visiting a patient nearby and thought I would call on you. You must be relieved to no longer have the accusation of murder hanging over your head.” He took the armchair before the fire, as had become his habit.
“The accusation has been withdrawn, but the taint remains.” Some would always believe she had supplied the poison to Jake Hogan, even after Lord Tomlin had unexpectedly come to her defence and said a gifted apothecary might have brewed it.
“You proved wrong those who accused you. Do you think the Mage Council will accept you now?” He leaned on the arm of the chair and fixed his warm gaze on her.
She heaved a sigh. How she wished it were as simple as proving a few stuffy men wrong, and being left to live her life as she pleased. Unknown secrets whispered over her skin and darted at the corners of her vision. Their plan is abhorrent… She would unearth what truth lay behind those few words.
“I always wondered why the Mage Council let me live, when for centuries they quietly disposed of any girl mage. I used to have to perform at mage tower while they sneered at my attempts. As though parading me about as an inferior specimen somehow justified their horrific actions in the past.”
Hugh rose from his chair and the settee sagged as he sat next to her. He took her left hand in his and rubbed his thumb over the fading scar left by the magical bracelet that had been the cause of her humiliation. “No one who ever met you could think you in any way inferior. You crackle with power and potential.”
The magic flowed freely through her veins now. But for many years, the river had been dammed and strangled to a mere trickle. “The pretty bracelet I wore for all those years suppressed my magic. I would know why. Branvale did not act alone. Someone instructed him.” She met his gaze. “I found an ensorcelled page he used to correspond with someone, and on it was written, Keep her with you, however you can. To ensure her safety, the council must believe her feeble, with little power, and of no consequence.”
She found it easy to confide in him, with his solid and comforting presence. He would no more reveal her secrets than a snow-covered mountain would. She still puzzled over the last part of that secret message, which made no sense to her.
There cannot be another Nereus.
“That sounds as though someone has been trying to protect you. But why put you through what you have endured when they could have acted openly?” A frown pulled his brows together and his thumb stilled on her skin.
That was just one of the many secrets she sought to uncover. “I don’t know. Perhaps it is someone not in a position to speak against the council?” An ordinary concerned citizen, perhaps? No. Branvale would never have listened to a busybody. For him to follow instructions, the person had to possess magic, power, or wealth. Or possibly all three.
Hugh cleared his throat and clasped her hand between both of his. The furrow remained on his forehead, but his eyes brimmed with concern. “Do you think there is someone within the council who might try to move against you? Even though you have proven your worth?”

View full details