Gentle Reader, here’s a sample scene from the next Parasolverse book, Ambush or Adore.
This is Delightfully Deadly #3, Agatha’s book. You don’t have to have read any of the others in the series to enjoy this one.
Read the sample?
The Beginning Ends ~ Soggy Top Hats
Spring 1896 ~ Hyde Park, London
Pillover Plumleigh-Teignmott’s biggest problem was that he met the love of his life when he was twelve years of age and then spent the rest of that life misplacing her.
Or more to the point, she kept intentionally misplacing herself.
If Pillover were to give love advice to anyone (which he wouldn’t, because his expertise was in obscure ancient languages and certainly not love or, heaven forfend, romance) he’d tell them not to fall in love with a spy. Plays hell with one’s heart, not to mention one’s wardrobe and peace of mind.
Trying to hold onto an intelligencer was like grabbing for soap in a bathtub – very slippery and always causing a great deal of emotional splashing about that got everything wet and messy, but didn’t ever really affect the soap. And one couldn’t very well blame the soap, could one? After all, it’s in its nature to slip away, again and again.
Pillover had thought this thought for the very first time years ago, when he’d swished his skirts around uncomfortably at a school for evil geniuses. At the time, he’d been tasked with providing a distraction, and very effective those skirts turned out to be, if he did say so himself. And he thought this thought again over forty years later, when he went to meet a dirigible in the middle of a rainstorm on the off chance that his lady-love might, just maybe, be aboard.
This last time Pillover had misplaced her for well over a year (longer than ever before). He worried maybe he’d missed the chance to tell her the stupid, tiny, insignificant detail of his heart being caught up in her red hair like a floundering fish in a net. Because that was the other thing about spies – sometimes when they disappeared, they disappeared forever.
It’s possible that Pillover had never told Agatha of his love because his metaphors were pants and he was no poet to know the right words. But it would, in fact, be beyond silly to have held his reserve for decades only to have her die on him, misplaced forever. That would be worse than careless. That would be sloppy.
Back to the fact that being in love with a spy was slippery and hell on the wardrobe.
It was raining, hard. Pillover’s top hat was soggy and collapsing slightly on one side. His suit was made of that kind of fabric (his sister would know the name) that showed every single drop as a dark stain, with no greatcoat to protect him. He’d forgotten it somewhere. Because who would have thought it might rain in early spring in London? (Everyone but Pillover, naturally.) Consequently, he didn’t look as he ought, waiting for the light of his life with the certain knowledge that he had, in order to save her, also betrayed her trust. He wasn’t sure why he was there at all. Simply to see her again as soon as possible? To beg forgiveness?
Regardless, he did not make a very prepossessing figure, which was probably a good thing. Agatha never liked a scene. It was unlikely she wanted him there at all, especially after he’d shared the photograph. Plus she hated being noticed. Which meant she preferred it when he faded into the background, too. Pillover was only tolerably good at that, an unfortunate accident of genetics having made him rather more handsome than he was comfortable with.
There had been a phase, once, when ladies found his sulky air combined with dark good looks appealing. That inevitably passed when he responded with little to no conversation or encouragement. Now, while most of his hair was still holding on valiantly, it was going grey. His shoulders were stooped from bending over manuscripts, his face wrinkled from squinting in weak lighting. He had to wear spectacles all the time instead of just for reading. He looked, in fact, exactly as he was, an Oxford don of middling teaching capacity but good reputation, well published and set in his ways – a confirmed bachelor. His sulky air was now deemed grumpy and eccentric. His lack of a wife termed a crying shame and regarded by the artistic set with raised eyebrows. His continued occupancy of a cozy cottage alone in Oxford was thought slightly suspicious. Why did an Oxford man of Pillover’s tenure and disposition need to keep a house alone? And what need had he to visit London when there were no symposia on offer? What secrets did he keep that led him to pursue such a solitary lifestyle, and did they involve mistresses or molly houses or something more sinister?
On a landing green in Hyde Park, in the pouring rain, did Pillover look like a man waiting for the love of his life? As he had always waited. As he’d probably continue to wait even if she had misplaced herself permanently.
It was worse, he thought, to be the one who waited than the one who went away. She always knew what was happening to her when it was happening. He had to guess and imagine and hope she returned. Perhaps some of the curve in his shoulders and the grey in his hair was payment paid to the consequences of misplaced affection.
Pillover had never attained the rank of Evil Genius. He’d only gotten as far as Reprobate Genius, but when it came to Agatha he sometimes thought even the genius part was a misnomer. He, who had translated Catullus. He, who had his research on Roman linguistic variance as relates to Linear B accepted for publication by no fewer than six academic societies. He, Pillover, could not fathom or comprehend one redheaded female. And he never had.
Ambush or Adore: Delightfully Deadly #2 – AGATHA’S BOOK. London’s best and most covert spy tries to escape the man who has always adored her. Out October 1, 2021
I hope you enjoyed this sample! PRINT & AUDIO ARE COMING. The Chirrup learns about ’em first. Please be patient. Thank you!
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Quirky Cats Fat Stacks says:
“Etiquette & Espionage is arguably one of the most delightful novels I’ve read in quite some time.”
Rambling Reviews with the Jedi Librarian says of Etiquette & Espionage:
“This book was a great light read, which I think we all need right now. It’s funny and light hearted. Who would think Finishing School could be so interesting! Plus, it’s Steampunk!”
Tags: AMBUSH OR ADORE, Delightfully Deadly
“Shenanigans, hilarious situations, and adventure abound here. I give it Four Lightsabers. I’m really sorry I haven’t read these sooner, and will have to read the Parasol Protectorate series next year to catch up with Carriger’s back catalog. They are such great, light, funny reads.”