It is the start of a new chapter in Jo and Alistair’s life and relationship, as they head to Ireland for their honeymoon, and a bit of mystery.
The dime novel excerpts are a thing of the past now that Jo is trying to find her own voice as a writer. And most of the characters that have peopled the first four books remain behind in New York, but there is a new cast of eccentric individuals for Jo to charm as she sleuths her way across a new continent.
The Kindle version is available now, with paperback to follow.
And here is Chapter One to whet your appetite:
“Oh, Alistair…it’s so beautiful! I never dreamed I’d see Ireland for myself.”
The setting sun lit the sea ablaze as I stood at the rail of the ship eagerly craning my neck to catch my first sight of Dublin. The voyage across the ocean had flown by, and now I would finally see the land of my ancestors. The city itself crowded up to the dock, as if eager to meet me as well.
Overhead, gulls wheeled and screamed, diving for fish in the shallows beside the dock. The chill January air carried a strong scent of the sea, and the unpleasant tang of rotting seaweed and fish.
On the boardwalk before us, people jammed the dock, chattering and pointing. There were hundreds of them!
I’d thought the throng seeing us off in New York huge, but this smaller dock made this crowd seem twice as large. I clung to Alistair’s elbow, a bit intimidated by the sight. He slipped an arm around my waist, and smiled down at me. “They won’t bite, Jo. I promise.”
When the crew began ushering disembarking passengers towards the gangway, I took a deep breath and let it out. “Shall we?”
“You have your things?”
I touched the waistband of my skirt, comforted to feel the rustle of paper beneath my fingertips. Atmy mother-in-law’s advice, my travel papers and folding money were pinned in a pocket hidden beneath my skirt. With the smart traveling jacket I wore reaching several inches below my waist, there was no hint of this arrangement to be seen. I slipped one arm through Alistair’s, and the other through the handles of my trusty reticule. “I’m ready.”
“Let’s go find a porter to collect the rest of our belongings. I’ll also need to make arrangements for a cart of some kind to transport Phaeton, but that can wait till morning if we find somewhere to leave him overnight. Perhaps the shipyard has a place.”
We walked as we discussed the matter. People pushed and shoved all around us—some coming up the gangway as well as others going down. It flustered me a great deal to be trapped in such a throng of people, I must admit.
The porters were hard pressed to keep order in the chaos. I tightened my grip on Alistair’s arm until my fingers hurt, terrified we might be separated in the crush.
Someone bumped me quite hard, nearly knocking me off my feet and sending me staggering. As I reached out to steady myself against the railing, I felt a sharp tug, and looked down to see a slender figure about my height clutching my reticule in one hand and a knife in the other! He slashed through the strings just as I made a dive for it. My fingers just brushed his sleeve before he was off, weaving through the crowd like an adder.
“Stop, thief!” I yelled, lifting my skirts to run after the miscreant. No doubt foolish of me, but I was too angry to think clearly.
My cry caused heads to swivel, but no one lifted a finger to stop the rogue. I struggled forward, but I hadn’t the facility of movement the villain had in his serge trousers. My skirts were far too cumbersome.
“What’s wrong?” asked Alistair—whose view of the incident had been impeded.
“That street rat stole my bag!” I pointed to where the fellow was even now disappearing at the edge of the crowd.
He glanced over his shoulder just before he vanished, his features almost elfin under their coat of dirt. A wide grin split his face, and he touched the brim of his cap before he was gone.
“Alistair! He has my reticule.” Tears were fighting their way toward my eyes, more hot and angry than sorrowful.
“Did you do as Mother said?”
“Yes.” My fingers brushed my papers again.
“So there isn’t anything of too much value in it, is there?”
“I suppose not. Thank goodness, I put my pistol in the trunk last night.”
His face blanched. “Yes. Yes, that’s indeed a good thing.” He put a comforting arm about my shoulders. “Let’s speak to the porters—he may well dispose of the bag when he discovers it contains nothing of value. We’ll have them keep an eye out. You can make a report with the harbormaster as well, but I doubt there’s anything to be done about the theft unless he discards the purse.”
I laid my head against him. “You’re probably right.” Suddenly, a thought struck me, causing me to start upright with a gasp.
“What is it, Jo?”
“My journal is in my bag. And the latest draft of the book I am working on. I’ll have to start completely from scratch. What a bother!”