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Tilly Wallace

Gossip and Gorgons

Gossip and Gorgons

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One look could turn you to stone…

The newly married Lord and Lady Wycliff are cordially invited to a house party—to be mocked and ridiculed as entertainment. Wycliff insists on attending to discuss business with the host, while Hannah longs to hide in the library with its rare volumes on the Fae.

Bound to Wycliff even beyond death, Hannah wonders how she will survive the week—when a guest unexpectedly expires. A notorious cad is discovered turned into a statue in the garden. The dead lord had many enemies, including Lord Wycliff.

Hannah’s accord with her husband is tested when a trail of footprints leads to their window. What secret is Wycliff hiding and does he know more about the magical death than he admits? Someone among the house guests has murder on their mind and the newlyweds need to determine who, before anyone else is immortalised as stone…

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Read sample

Westbourne Green, May 1816

Hannah woke to a scream. The high-pitched wail turned into a warble, and then tapered off into more of an outraged shout.
“Not again,” she muttered as she opened her eyes. There was sufficient dawn light peeking through the open curtains that Hannah could see without the need of a glow lamp.
Sheba lay curled up in her dog bed. The spaniel raised her head and thumped her tail at the movement from the human bed. Hannah threw back the blankets and lowered her feet to the floor. She patted the puppy’s head. “Come along, girl. We shall use the opportunity to take you outside.”
Hannah padded to the chair where she had left her robe. She shrugged on the purple dressing gown and tied the belt as she headed down the stairs, the spaniel at her heels. This was the third such wakeup call in less than a week and the time had come to take matters in hand.
She was joined on the stairs by her husband, also with a robe knotted around his middle…though the blue and gold paisley seemed at odds with his stormy personality. Sheba wagged her tail and sidled along the stairs to his side.
“Again?” Wycliff asked as they descended.
“I presume so,” Hannah replied.
She couldn’t help staring at her husband’s naked feet. They had been married for two weeks now and the sight of his toes was the most she had seen of him.
Not that she intended to see her husband naked. Theirs was a marriage of convenience and they kept to their separate rooms. But Hannah was curious enough that when an early morning scream warbled through the house, she wondered what it would be like to open her eyes and find another person next to her in bed.
Thumping noises and muttered curses came from the front parlour. Lord Wycliff pushed open the door to reveal Mary, fire poker held high over her head, preparing to do battle with the light fitting.
“Barnes, get down,” Hannah called as she stepped into the room.
“He did it again, ma’am!” Mary swiped with the poker, but his lordship’s quick hand caught it in its descent before the glass shade protecting the candles was smashed.
“So we heard,” Lord Wycliff said.
Mary relinquished the weapon and stepped back to the fireplace. “I cannot get my work done with him lying in wait to jump out at me, Lady Wycliff.”
“Yes, I agree with you entirely, Mary.” An object dropped from the light fitting to the carpet with a solid thump, and Hannah scooped it up before it could scuttle away.
She held Barnes between her own hands and raised him to eye level. “This has gone on quite long enough, Barnes, and will not be tolerated any longer. You have two options before you. If you frighten Mary again, you will find yourself confined to the cage in the laboratory. If instead you value your freedom, you will leave Mary to do her work unharassed. Do you understand?”
The hand slumped in her palms, then he raised the index finger and waved it up and down.
A steady thump rumbled from the floor and up through Hannah’s feet, the accompanying noise like the distant approach of thunder. A shape completely filled the doorway and blocked the exit.
Mary gave a sob and rushed to the newcomer. Frank, formerly the Chelsea Monster, sheltered the maid and turned his body to hide her from view. He raised a hand and pointed at Barnes with a growl.
“Perhaps we should leave the two monsters to fight it out,” Wycliff suggested. “Do you think you can take Frank one-handed, Barnes?”
Barnes arched and stood on his fingertips in what appeared to be a vain attempt to look taller.
“There will not be any fighting under this roof.” Hannah knelt and released Barnes on the carpet. “Go find Timmy. The lad will be awake soon.”
Frank lifted Mary off her feet as the disembodied hand scuttled across the carpet and shot between his two tree-trunk legs. The larger creature growled again before setting Mary down.
Lord Wycliff returned the poker to the fireside set. “How is it, Mary, that you have no problem with all seven feet of stitched-together Frank, but scream when confronted with Barnes?”
Mary curled her hand into the front of Frank’s shirt and spoke to him when she answered Wycliff. “Because Frank here has a gentle soul—plus arms, legs, and all the bits in between, my lord. That Hungarian hamster…thing ain’t right.”
Hannah held in a sigh. She doubted this was the sort of domestic dispute other married women had to mediate; but then, theirs wasn’t like any other household. “Right or not, Barnes is a part of this household. If he drops on you again, he will be confined to his cage. I believe he has had sufficient warning that he will not bother you again. Now, Mary, kindly be so good as to ask Cook to make some hot chocolate. Since I am awake, I will do some reading in the library. Frank, could you please take Sheba outside?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Mary unwound her hand from Frank’s shirt and wiped her face.
The former monster bent down to pick up the puppy, who squirmed and licked his face as the odd trio left the room.
Lord Wycliff inclined his head in Hannah’s direction. “Let us hope that is the end of the matter.”
“Yes, I too hope that is the end of it,” Hannah said as her husband left the room.
She rubbed the gold band on her left hand. There had been many adjustments to life in the Miles household over the last few weeks.
Frank, the stitched-together man reanimated by the late Lord Dunkeith’s potions, had moved into the stables. His gentle nature was ideally suited to working with the horses and Old Jim appreciated the help. For all they knew, the monster’s hands and arms might have come from a groom, as he seemed to know instinctively what to do.

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Cheryl Johnston
One of my most favourite series

I love all the characters in this series. Hannah and Jonas continue to grow together.