I’d like you all to meet WR Gingell. She’s got a delightful book entitled Masque which is on sale this month along with some other books (which are not on sale). Although I haven’t yet had the chance to read more than a sample (what can I say, I’m behind on my reading list), I’m going to let her words speak for herself and I’ll be back later with a review!
MASQUE buy links (99c special for January):
W.R. Gingell is a Tasmanian author who lives in a house with a green door. She spends her time reading, drinking an inordinate amount of tea, and slouching in front of the fire to write. Like Peter Pan, she never really grew up, and is still occasionally to be found climbing trees.
Author Page Links:
Excerpts from MASQUE:
“I think I would like to see your face,” he said thoughtfully. “Would it stretch politeness too far to ask you to remove your mask?”
“After you, my lord.”
I thought he laughed at me, but again it was hard to tell. “I don’t think I understand you, my lady.”
I looked at him steadily for a moment, my chin propped up in my palm. “Forgive me if I seem rude, but I think you understand me very well.”
He sat forward again, leaning his forearms on his knees. His bulk was so considerable that this maneuver put his face only inches from mine, and I found his eyes uncomfortably piercing. “Very well, my lady. Remove your mask, and I will remove mine.”
I was burning with curiosity that was tempered by a touch of self-satisfaction that I was about to accomplish something that even Delysia had not been able to accomplish, but I untied my mask with fingers that were steady enough.
“Well, my lord?”
“Charming,” he said softly, deliberately misunderstanding. I found myself blushing for the first time in many years. It was annoying to know that he’d intended as much. “How old are you, Lady Farrah?”
“Very nearly thirty, my lord,” I told him composedly, ignoring the rudeness of the question. “And a confirmed old maid, so you’ve no need to waste your compliments on me.”
“What brings you to the Ambassadorial Ball?”
“The proposed militia merger, my lord; and I believe you’re stalling.”
He gave me a slow, considering smile, and I wondered if the face beneath the mask was smiling also. “Is that so? Are you sure you want to see my face?”
Courtesy compelled me to say, albeit with reluctance: “Not if you’re unwilling, my lord.”
Lord Pecus sat silent for a moment as if in thought, his mask unreadable.
“Hm. I don’t believe I am,” he said at last, as if he had surprised himself.
“Try not to scream, my lady.”
If he had said it with the slightest theatricality, I would have laughed and gone back to the ballroom, content not to know what his face really looked like. But he said it unemotionally, a plain warning; and I had to take myself firmly to task for the quickly accelerating beat of my heart as he removed the charms that kept his mask in place. I settled my chin a little more firmly in my palm and waited, watching the process with some interest. I had not much talent for magic, and my knowledge was almost as slight: my training had mostly to do with international policy and diplomatic processes.
At last he seemed to be done. He raised both hands to remove the mask – beautiful hands, strong and bare of rings – and it came away cleanly. For a moment I thought he had yet another mask beneath: firelight played on tawny brown hair – no, fur!- in a face that looked like the worst parts of wolf and bear mixed. I blinked once, realising in that instant that it was his face, his real face, and no mask. His mask must be magic indeed to have hidden that snout under the pretence of a plain common-or-garden human nose.
“I see,” I said into the silent warmth of the room. I dropped my hand back to the arm of the chair and let a small sigh escape. “That explains a good deal.”
A voice spoke behind me, startlingly close. “Lady Farrah.”
His voice was an unfamiliar tenor tone, with a light, lilting touch to it that sounded as if it could rise to the pitch of madness without much provocation. I heard him draw in a deep breath, very close behind me now, and came to the disturbing conclusion that he was smelling my hair.
“I believe you have the advantage of me,” I said quietly. Movement teased my periphery, but I looked steadfastly ahead, refusing to turn my head.
“Don’t you want to know who I am?”
Petulance. I said, hardly daring to breathe: “That would ruin the suspense.”
He laughed. “I knew I liked you! Why did they tie you up?”
“They didn’t want me to run away.”
Even a child of ten years would have protested that I hadn’t given a proper answer, but he didn’t. The cold feeling in my stomach spread in an icy rush to my outer extremities: I was at the mercy of a man whose homicidal mania was governed by a childlike whimsy.
The movement in my peripheral vision died away as he moved behind me again. “Did you know them?”
“Barely.” I had the distinct impression that this man would know if I lied to him, and so I told the exact truth. “A countryman of mine was killed a short while ago, and we had reason to believe that it was in connection with a leak in our covert affairs. Those two were encouraging me not to follow up the investigation.”
“Oh.” It sounded as though he was thinking. At length, he said: “I didn’t kill him for that. You’re playing with me, aren’t you? You know it was me.”
“As soon as I heard Claude die,” I said, nodding. “But I don’t know why you did it.”
He chuckled mischievously. “I’m not going to tell you. You have to figure it out for yourself.”
“How delightful!” I managed to say. My throat was becoming steadily drier, but I didn’t dare so much as lick my lips to moisten them. I knew instinctively that he would take it for a sign of weakness.
“Who’s that at the door?” There was a sudden scuffle of dust as he spun sharply to face the door. “Someone’s coming. A little girl.”
I closed my eyes. Vadim.
“It’s my maid,” I said. “I would prefer if you did not kill her.”