Monday, July 03, 2006

Gentlemen in Question

My latest book, Gentlemen in Question, was launched this weekend with champagne and one of the most violent thunder storms I have seen for years - I shall have to include it in a book sometime! There is only a little blustery weather and mild rain in Gentlemen in Question, although there is plenty of action, and I have included an extract for you to read. To set the scene, Madeleine and her handsome French cousin are staying with Sir Thomas Wyre and his family, and Maddie is growing suspicious of the Beau Hauxwell and decides to investigate.....

Now that she was in the chamber, Miss Sedgewick was at a loss to know what she was hoping to find. It was without doubt Mr Hauxwell’s apartment, for his initials were boldly emblazoned upon a small travelling case which rested on the chest of drawers. Glancing around her, she saw a gentleman’s greatcoat resting over the back of a chair beside the window. She moved purposefully across the room and hardly believing her own temerity she reached into one of the coat’s capacious pockets. Her fingers touched cold metal and she carefully pulled out a deadly-looking pistol.

A cold fear clutched at her stomach and for a brief moment Madeleine thought she might faint. It was not unusual for a gentleman to carry a weapon when travelling, but such things were generally holstered in the carriage, or the saddle, certainly not secreted in the pocket of a greatcoat. She knew little about firearms, but she had never seen a holster pistol such as this: its slim, octagonal barrel, the fore and rear sights hinted at a much more specialised weapon, such as a duelling pistol. Suddenly her straining ears caught a slight sound from the corridor. Footsteps were approaching. She quickly thrust the pistol back into the pocket and turned towards the dressing room, then she stopped. To reach the dressing room door, she would have to cross the room and risk being seen by anyone entering the room. She turned back towards the heavy bed-hangings and hid herself in their voluminous folds. Scarcely daring to breathe, she heard the door open and someone enter the room. After that she heard nothing but the thud of her own heart. The heavy cloth enveloped her in its dark folds, pressing against her face and she fought against the desire to sneeze. She clenched her teeth and tried to remain motionless, praying that whoever had entered would leave again very soon. But even as she uttered up her silent prayer, the curtain was whisked aside and she found herself confronting the stern-faced Beau Hauxwell, the wickedly gleaming point of his unsheathed sword-stick at her throat.

Gentlemen in Question is published by Robrt Hale Limited

Melinda Hammond

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