BLURB: Come back to Gilded Age New York with Ella Shane, an opera singer who’s part Beverly Sills, part Anne of Green Gables, and part Errol Flynn – but entirely herself! In her debut, Ella, an Irish-Jewish Lower East Side orphan made good, is singing Romeo when her Juliet dies onstage after drinking real poison. She thinks it’s a tragic mistake until the girl’s cousin, a genuine British Duke, comes to New York to find out what really happened. Right away, the Duke insults Ella — so she makes him fence with her. Despite the rocky beginning, Ella, her cousin Tommy, a former boxing champ and “confirmed bachelor,” and the colorful cast of characters get drawn into the case. Soon, Ella and the Duke find they have an undeniable and quite possibly unresolvable attraction. No spoiler (just tease!) it all culminates in a catwalk duel with the killer – with Ella handling swordplay while the Duke waits in the wings.
In their first meeting, the Duke comes to Ella’s rehearsal studio to ask about his late cousin…saying he wants to know what she was doing with “theatre people.”
I offered a cool response as my sympathy for the Duke of Something died an early death. “Theatre people?”
“She was a gently-brought-up young lady who did not belong in that world.”
Well, aren’t you the precious one. I took a breath, and tried to tamp down my Irish temper. I explain – if not excuse – my next action as an effort to do something other than slap the judgmental scowl off his face. I grabbed Tommy’s foil. “How’s your fencing?”
“My practice time is limited, and we theatre people have to stay sharp to earn our keep. I’ll talk to you while we spar.”
Gilbert Saint Aubyn’s stern face softened a bit. “All right.”
He took off his immaculately tailored coat and suit jacket, with a black armband still on the sleeve, no doubt for poor Violette or whatever her name really was. I had no compunction about taking a good look at him, and was not disappointed with what I saw. I may be a proper maiden lady, but I do appreciate the well-assembled male form, especially in a nicely fitted gray waistcoat, neat white shirt and dark trousers. I tossed him the foil, and he dropped it.
“Good thing we’re fencing and not playing baseball,” I observed, carefully not snickering, in case it were a feint.
Saint Aubyn, who would have now been the late lamented himself if this were an actual duel, gave me a wry, and rather appealing, shrug. “I have not been on the field of honor in a while.”
BIO: Kathleen Marple Kalb grew up in front of a microphone, and a keyboard. She’s currently a weekend morning anchor at 1010 WINS New York, capping a career she began as a teenage DJ in Brookville, Pennsylvania. She worked her way up through newsrooms in Pittsburgh, Vermont and Connecticut, developing her skills and a deep and abiding distaste for snowstorms. While she wrote her first historical novel at age sixteen, fiction was firmly in the past until her son went to kindergarten and she decided to try again. She, her husband, the Professor, and their son the Imp live in a Connecticut house owned by their cat.
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