A Day at the Inn, A Night at the Palace, the short and fantastical fiction collection by two-time Golden Crown Literary Award winner Catherine Lundoff, features engaging stories about swashbuckling female pirates, opera singers and mercenaries. Follow Shakespeare’s sister, Judith, and solve the question of who really authored the plays. Consort with highwaymen (who are more than what they seem), private eyes, bards, spies and even the fey Queen of Air and Darkness. Thrilling adventures await in these ten previously uncollected stories about magic, laughter, love, loss and second chances.
Catherine gives an overview of the book:
from The Letter of Marque
Celeste Adéle Gírard laughed, fluttering her fan just below her topaz eyes. The gesture was enough to make her audience, old rakes and young chevaliers alike, vie against each other even harder to make her laugh again. But Celeste was becoming distracted. Her gaze turned as often on the ballroom door as it did to her admirers, making their aspirations even more difficult to attain.
A liveried footman announced each new guest as they arrived, bowing them into the Governor’s ballroom as if it were Versailles itself. Celeste smothered a sigh at the memory of her last vision of her beloved France. Oh, to leave this benighted island, hot, dull and filled with boorish Englishmen!
Sternly, she reminded herself that the King had promised to make her a Countess if she succeeded in her mission. That alone should be reason enough to stay. She drew herself up and smiled harder.
It was at that moment the footman announced a “Mr. Bernard.” Mademoiselle Gírard merely glanced briefly toward the door as if the arrival of the man she hunted was of little moment before declaring herself faint from the heat. A hundred arms, or so it seemed, were proffered and she was soon swept off to an elegant, uncomfortable chair from which she could observe her quarry. The youngest of her admirers was dispatched to fetch her wine and exited with resigned grace.
Bernard had not seen her, which was as well since he might have recognized her from the Court. But he spared none of the young ladies present a glance on his way across the room to the Governor’s side. Sir Henry Morgan, Governor of His Majesty’s colony of Jamaica, seemed inclined to both welcome and listen to the gentleman. Certainly their faces were serious enough to suggest grave matters, and that alone was unusual on such an occasion.
“La!” Celeste murmured. “It is so hot in here. Perhaps you would be so kind as to escort me?” She gestured toward the open balcony at Morgan’s back and fluttered her lids at the young man who had just returned with her wine. His youthful cheeks flushed crimson but he was fast enough to offer his hand to assist her in standing, moving with a fencer’s grace before the others could reach out.
He was swift enough too in sweeping her over the floor and out into the relative cool of the deserted night air before anyone could follow. Celeste gave him a speculative glance. There was not even the beginning of a beard on his tanned cheeks. But his expression, now that suggested years of a certain kind of experience she would not have expected in one so young. Had she miscalculated? She had thought him easily handled. Celeste frowned a moment, slightly puzzled.
The young man murmured in near perfect court French, “How lovely you are tonight, mademoiselle.” He reached out and twirled one of her blonde curls around his finger, barely grazing the bare skin of her neck in what was clearly a deliberate gesture.
Celeste shivered despite herself. He moved his hand up and traced the delicate shell of her ear. “And such perfect ears, straining so very hard to hear the English Governor’s words. What do they talk about inside, do you think, the former pirate and the French gentleman in the somber clothes?”
He had leaned over so that his lips were nearly at her ear and this time, Celeste did start. She stared up at him in the moonlight, her eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Who are you?”
“Another lost soul from France, my lady.” The words were said with a smile that sent Celeste’s fingers searching for the small dagger hidden in her skirts. The young man caught her hand and pressed it to his lips. “Surely so beautiful a flower has nothing to fear from a boy like me?”
Catherine Lundoff is a computer geek who lives in Minneapolis with her fabulous wife. Her stories have appeared or are forthcoming in over 70 publications including So Fey: Queer Faery Stories, Time Well Bent: Queer Alternate History, Periphery: Erotic...
It's been almost two years since I reported on a book for this blog. It's nice to return to it with some lesbian erotica.
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