Tuesday, July 16, 2019

A SANCTUARY OF SPIRITS cover reveal at The Booksmugglers!

The fine folks at The Booksmugglers have hosted an incredible cover reveal for my next novel, A SANCTUARY OF SPIRITS, releasing Nov 12 from Kensington Books, Rebel Base!

In addition to an exclusive first-look excerpt from the novel, featuring Eve Whitby and Detective Horowitz being adorable, the gothic chamber-metal band Valentine Wolfe created a Spectral City series theme song, Lessons of the Dead, inspired by lines from THE SPECTRAL CITY! Please check it out!

A SANCTUARY OF SPIRITS is available for pre-order in eBook with trade paperback and more pre-order links coming soon! Cheers and Happy Haunting!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

After a decade, MISS VIOLET AND THE GREAT WAR, the Strangely Beautiful finale, is here!

Hello dear readers, it's the end of an era.

Goodness has it been one heck of a decade. My debut novel, THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER, now STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL in its freshly revised and resurrected two-book form thanks to Tor Books, finally sees itself through as the finale in the Strangely Beautiful saga commences with MISS VIOLET AND THE GREAT WAR, the never-before-published fourth novel in the quartet.

It's been an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least. I'm so glad to share this book with you, finally, in all its pain and difficulty. This is a book about hope in dark times. I hope it will comfort you and lift your spirit, even during the darkest hours.

About the book via Tor Books:

A superb, stand alone adventure in Leanna Renee Hieber's groundbreaking, critically acclaimed Strangely Beautiful series, full of passion and power. From childhood, Violet Rychman has dreamed of a coming war, of death and battle on an unimaginable scale. She has seen and heard ghosts, who have loved and guided her. Now the future she dreamed has come to pass. World War I rages across Europe. Millions of people are dying; entire villages are disappearing. A great and terrible vision sweeps over Violet, offering powers heralded by the Muses of antiquity. The ability to impact people’s memories, even shape their thoughts. To guide their souls. To pass between the world of the living and that of the dead and to bring others through that passage. These and other gifts once belonged to people Violet loved. Now they are hers, and she must use them to attempt to stop death itself.

Praise for Miss Violet:

"If you’re struggling to find meaning in dark times—particularly in today’s climate of seemingly endless bad news—Leanna has some reassuring answers. The book extols the value of things like love, family, and art. Even amidst the very worst of horrors and destruction, forming loving bonds and creating things of beauty are radical acts that kindle a little more light in the darkness." - The Gothic Library

"Hauntingly hopeful, Miss Violet & the Great War explores the tragedy of the first World War with poetic grace. I found this not to be a book to blaze through in one sitting, but one to savor and appreciate in little bites. That's not to say it's a slow read, either. This is a book that felt like immersing myself into a cozily hot bath. Though the book is about the horrific aspects of war, Hieber's main focus is on the goodness and creativity of humanity. I'm rather left in awe by the grace of how she handled that. I highly recommend this to readers interested in the Great War and historical fiction with a fantastical bent." - Beth Cato, acclaimed author of The Clockwork Dagger MISS VIOLET AND THE GREAT WAR is now available wherever books are sold! Barnes and Noble IndieBound  Amazon Kobo

Cheers, blessings and Happy Haunting! Thanks in advance for your support! The Hieberverse would not exist without you and your continued support means I can fulfill my mission and spiritual calling to write more books about the transcendent power of the soul.

For additional insights about my research for Miss Violet, please read this post about my visit to Verdun, France

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Announcing Spectral City Book 2 Title and Exclusive Draft Excerpt!

Dear Readers!

I'm thrilled to reveal the title for Book 2 in The Spectral City series, my new Gothic, Gaslamp Fantasy / Supernatural Suspense with Kensington Rebel Base Books!

Coming October 2019


Book 2 picks up exactly where Book 1 leaves off. Our stalwart band of female psychics work hard to solve the maddening loose ends of an unsettling undertaker, a powerful family with something to hide, and a disturbing magician with something terrible hidden in his set, all while another of their best spirit operatives goes missing...

Because readers have fallen hard for Eve and Detective Horowitz, here's a first draft excerpt from A SANCTUARY OF SPIRITS. Enjoy!

First Draft Excerpt:

           The next morning, Eve left early to be down at the Mulberry street offices, hoping to catch Detective Horowitz checking in for his day before he was off to further untangle the uncooperative Dr. Font case. As luck would have it, they came around different corners and the moment the detective caught sight of Eve, he smiled.
           “Well, hello Eve, what has you at headquarters first thing in the morning?” he asked, forgoing ascending the front steps and instead crossing around to her at the intersection. “I dare not be presumptuous to think it would be me.”
            She chuckled and inclined her head. “It is, in fact, you, Detective.”
            He took a step closer, leaning in with a bemused expression.
            “You really refuse to call me Jacob, don’t you?” he asked, maintaining a partial smile, an inviting, curious expression, furrowing his brow as if by looking at her more closely he might figure her out. 
            “I don’t refuse… Jacob, I just… it…”
            “It reminds us we’re all business at the heart of it,” he said carefully. “Have it your way, Whitby.”
            Eve pursed her lips. She didn’t like the formality, it just… felt safer. “Well, I am here to ask you if you’d be willing to meet my parents. Today. Now, in fact.”
            “Why the rush? Do they have some foul-toothed British aristocrat lined up for you and you need me to stand in the way?”
            Eve couldn’t help but bark a loud, inelegant laugh at this, the sound so jarring a few passersby jumped and turned to her in disdain, which only made the detective join in.
            “God, I hope not another one,” Eve exclaimed. “I was threatened by it once, that’s when I asked you to court me in the first place and they haven’t pressed me since. But they do wish to thank you for helping Gran and me, they were very sorry they didn’t meet you the night of the abduction.”
            “It wouldn’t have been the best of circumstances to have been presented. And ruse of courtship or no, I think we’d all like to be on good terms.”
            “Absolutely,” Eve agreed. “That’s why I need you to come by and collect a device taken from our offices and take it to Bellevue. Please.” 
            “The hospital?”
            “Yes, father has just been accepted as a practitioner there. He’s been after a position for ages, we’re all very excited for him.”
“That’s wonderful. How can I help?”
“Can I tell you about it as we walk?”
“Lead on, Whitby,” he said, offering another charming smile. 
“I’m not keeping you from something, am I?”
“Oh, just a dressing-down by a few incompetent higher-ups who want to keep me ‘in my place’ regarding my persistence on the Font case, so no, you’ve come to my rescue.”
“While I’m so sorry to hear that, I’m happy to come to your rescue,” Eve said, feeling a surge of distinct pleasure at the idea of being a knight in shining armor to such a good man. 
            They turned and continued north along Broadway’s gentle angle, a central artery for so much of the city. 
            “So, what am I taking and where?” the detective asked.
“Father will be arranging for a contact in the mental pavilion to take a look at a strange box that was taken off our offices. We think it was created after our abduction, relating to whatever tests were being done on Gran, Cora and I at the warehouse. It may have something to do with brain study, an informal and tangential theory, but it’s all we have to work with. The spirits have said it was placed at our offices to interfere with our gifts.”
            “So you’d like me to liaise with a Bellevue clinician or with your father?”
            “Both. You see… I know I’ve mentioned my parents don’t like anything to do with the paranormal, which makes my life an incessant parade of frustration.”
            “My father truly wants to help but my mother is overprotective.”
            “Don’t I know the feeling,” the detective murmured with a little laugh.
            “Mother doesn’t want Father to even touch the device in question, and doesn’t want me handling it either. Not that it’s dangerous, mind you,” Eve assured earnestly, “I’d never drag you in the middle if I thought it was. But as a way to stop them quibbling and as a way to introduce you, if you show up and take it as the chivalrous hero, you’ll be seen as the charming and helpful man I know you to be,” Eve declared, clapping her hands together in a little victorious gesture.
            “I’m charming, am I?” he asked, looking at her, his tone not sly nor joking, he seemed genuinely touched.
            “Yes, Jacob, you’re charming,” Eve murmured with a nervous chuckle, looking away to hide the color that had become a common accent of late on her usually sickly-pale cheeks. “I’ve no doubt you can unseat any of their plans for a foul-toothed Brit to come claim a wayward American cousin,” she added and the detective joined her in a laugh; less nervous this time, more simply an expression of enjoying themselves despite themselves, which they’d done from the first with uncanny ease. They turned off Broadway onto Washington Place in comfortable silence, pleased by the brisk activity of the walk.
            They walked along the side of Washington Square Park and continued west along a row of townhouses on Waverly until Eve stopped before a brick and sandstone fa├žade that neatly matched the one beside. “Welcome to Fort Denbury,” Eve said. The curtains on the right were all white lace and open to the day, with window-boxes showcasing orange and yellow autumnal blossoms. The one on the left featured thick crimson brocade curtains, closed at the bay window, with a black mourning wreath on the door in honor of the dead.
            Horowitz glanced at Eve’s dress, always in mourning on account of her precinct and motioned towards the lighter side. “This way to your parents.”
           “How could you tell?” she asked with a chuckle, ascending the stoop.

(End of draft excerpt)
We'll have more excerpts and great news in the new year!

If you've not yet picked up THE SPECTRAL CITY, what are you waiting for? Please leave a review on your favorite retailer site! Reviews REALLY help! Thanks!

Support The Spectral City via

Amazing press for THE SPECTRAL CITY!

Hello dear readers! It's been a great week for THE SPECTRAL CITY, my new Gothic, Gaslamp Fantasy / Supernatural Suspense series! I'm SO thrilled that THE SPECTRAL CITY has been resonating with my steadfast readers familiar with my work as well as new kindred spirits; welcome!

Some lovely SPECTRAL CITY praise so far:

THE SPECTRAL CITY was named an editors pick in Supernatural Suspense by the site BookBub! BookBub joins the sites i09 and Smart Bitches in naming THE SPECTRAL CITY as a book not to miss this season!

Read The Gothic Library's full, rave review: "A New Generation of Gothic Heroines"

"The Big Apple loves its haunts, and Hieber’s work is both haunted and haunting, her spectral characters as developed as those of flesh and ink." - Jaden Terrell for International Thriller Writers

"Personable cast, snappy prose and intriguing premise.” —Publishers Weekly"The product of Leanna Renee Hieber's fascination with the spiritual world and the nooks and crannies of the city that never sleeps, The Spectral City is The Alienist with Ghost Detectives. You get 1890s New York rendered in fine detail, from the sconces around the lamps to the one and only Teddy Roosevelt, but the book also features a smart heroine working with a team of tragic, believable ghosts. There is texture on every page and it's a delight to read." —Jason Henderson, author of the Alex Van Helsing series

"You can tell that Hieber has written a number of paranormal books because her world building was excellent. I loved the amount of historical research and facts she added into this story." - The Lit Bitch

Over at Unbound Worlds I'm really proud of this essay I wrote about how my theatre training informs my fiction. I write about how throwing yourself off balance can create a visceral and incredible character arc, realized and put in practice from my classical and avant-garde theatre training, read my craft insight and advice here!


I had an incredible media tour speaking with radio outlets around the country about the new series, inspiration, my hopes for this series and also sharing some writing advice. One of my favorite interviews was with Travis on Boston's WPKZ radio, you can listen to the interview here.

I'm featured on this month's cover of International Thriller Writers' magazine! What an honor to be next to these industry titans like David Baldacci! In this interview, I discuss craft, inspiration, 19th century issues and more! Read it here.

You can see launch party photos, my favorite quotes from the book and more over on my Instagram.

Tantor Audio has THE SPECTRAL CITY, narrated by the acclaimed, award-winning narrator Tavia Gilbert, available for a wonderful download price of only $6.99! The eBook across platforms is only $3.99!

Cheers and Happy Haunting!

Support The Spectral City via

Barnes and Noble
Audio book via Tantor Audio

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

THE SPECTRAL CITY has arrived!

Solving crime isn’t only for the living.  
In turn-of-the century New York City, the police have an off-the-books spiritual go-to when it comes to solving puzzling corporeal crimes . . .
Her name is Eve Whitby, gifted medium and spearhead of The Ghost Precinct. When most women are traveling in a gilded society that promises only well-appointed marriage, the confident nineteen-year-old Eve navigates a social circle that carries a different kind of chill. Working with the diligent but skeptical Lieutenant Horowitz, as well as a group of fellow psychics and wayward ghosts, Eve holds her own against detractors and threats to solve New York’s most disturbing crimes as only a medium of her ability can.
But as accustomed as Eve is to ghastly crimes and all matters of the uncanny, even she is unsettled by her department’s latest mystery. Her ghostly conduits are starting to disappear one by one as though snatched away by some evil force determined to upset the balance between two realms, and most important—destroy the Ghost Precinct forever. Now Eve must brave the darkness to find the vanished souls. She has no choice. It’s her job to make sure no one is ever left for dead.

From Leanna:

Dear readers, I'm so excited to share this brand new venture with Kensington's brand new Sci-Fi/Fantasy Imprint Rebel Base Books. This series has been in my head for years, thinking about what would happen to the Denbury clan in the next generation.

I'm thrilled to introduce you to Eve Whitby, daughter of Natalie Stewart-Whitby and Jonathon Whitby, Lord Denbury, stars of Darker Still and my Magic Most Foul saga, to return "Gran" Evelyn Northe-Stewart to the center of the story, and to introduce you to a diverse set of talented young mediums and the dashing Detective Horowitz. 

I'm eager to bring you eerie action and adventure at the end of the 19th Century, in gritty, grand, mystifying and electrifying New York City, where I have been a proud licensed tour guide for nearly thirteen years, sharing the thrills from the obvious to the obscure in this incredible place. 
Most of all, I'm thankful for your support of me and my work. 

This is a very critical book for me at a critical juncture in my career. If you'd like me to continue writing books, supporting this book will ensure I can. I'll be very honest that the last few years haven't been easy, I've continued to publish but the journey has been hard. If this book does well, it can ensure I can keep my head above water and write the next book. You can purchase this book in any format and know that you're not only directly supporting an author whose whole heart and soul and mission are in her books, but you're supporting a brand new imprint run by New York's last independently run publishing house, Kensington. Please support THE SPECTRAL CITY today and share this with other like-minded readers in your life! Cheers, blessings and Happy Haunting! 

Order Now via your favorite retailer! Indiebound will pair you up with a local independent bookstore near you!

Barnes & Noble
Signed, Personalized Trade Paperback copies via Etsy (Please place "to" requests in notes form of the order! Thanks! Note: Etsy orders will come with thank you prize pack from Kensington, no need to put in the order form with confirmation # for Etsy orders.)

Today, 11/27/18 by midnight is the last day to receive a thank you gift for your order via Kensington! 

Friday, November 23, 2018

An exclusive excerpt from THE SPECTRAL CITY

A SPECTRAL CITY excerpt featuring a few beloved return characters and showcasing what's become everyone's favorite part of this series in early reviews and responses: the growing chemistry between the star, Eve Whitby, and her colleague Detective Horowitz. May I present, a 19th century ball! Setting: 1899, in haunted Manhattan…

From THE SPECTRAL CITY (book 1 in the Spectral City series with Kensington, Rebel Base Books, by Leanna Renee Hieber)

Sweeping down her staircase, enjoying the drama of her dress train, Eve lifted the gargoyle-headed doorknocker and let it go, creating an echoing boom on the hefty wooden door that had been put in to connect her home to that of her parents. Her mother let her in, and closed the door behind her quickly, as if a ghost would slip through if she left it open. That was in fact a distinct probability, even though Sensitives had warded the door against them.

Eve now stood in the central hallway of the main Denbury townhouse, which led to a grand staircase on one side, the front door on the other, and a little rounded foyer with rooms edging off of it—parlor and dining room, everything furnished in warm rosewoods and pale satin colors, with an airy palette diametrically contrasting the richer, heavier tones on her side. “See?” she said triumphantly, opening the silk capelet to reveal the dress.

“Look at you, out of black and into something livelier for a change. And purple, no less!” her mother exclaimed. "My favorite,” her mother said with a smile, her green eyes lighting up. “And you wear it beautifully. Is there a particular interest in the Prenze family that has you out on this crisp night?” Eve knew they were asking because this was outside of any of her social norms.

She leaned in. “Do you really want to know?”

Mother turned to Father, who had stepped into the room to greet her. “Do we really want to know?”

“If she asks us that, you know it’s about the ghosts, so I defer to you, dear,” her father said quietly.

Eve held up her hands, absolving herself of any responsibility should they be made uncomfortable.

“You do look lovely, though, Eve, dear,” he added. “Belle of the ball I’m sure.”

“Say it, then,” her mother prompted with exasperation.

“Our department was told to stay away from the family, that there had been ‘spectral intrusion’ when I had ordered no such thing. I want to see why they’re defensive.” When her mother opened her mouth, Eve anticipated her. “I’ll be careful. They are of a certain social status. So is Gran. Nothing will be strange. Paths will cross. I hope to navigate the department that much more safely. No good comes from hiding one’s head in the sand, you know that.” Her mother’s lips thinned, but the expression on her face showed that she couldn’t contradict her own advice. It wasn’t that Eve’s parents had ever wanted her to lie about the fact that spirits ruled her stars; they just wished the paranormal had at least skipped a generation. To give them all a longer respite away from something they’d never asked for.

In her early life, Eve had not appreciated the pain of it. Only Gran could fully navigate the tension, and thankfully her arrival had cured all. Having let herself into the house, she exclaimed at the sight of Eve. “Ah,” Gran cooed, “you wore the House of Worth!” She kissed Eve on the head and moved to embrace her step-daughter.

“That’s it,” Eve muttered. “I was trying to remember who I was wearing.”

“I would have thought,” Gran began in a chastising tone, “considering you now serve the city in the de facto capacity of a detective, that you’d have a better mind for such details, noting every class in which you might find yourself moving in. Besides, they are the very best designers and I confess to loving a gorgeous gown as much as anything. Call me trivial.” At this, Eve laughed and Gran gestured to the door. “Let me take her off your hands. I promise to keep an eye out for promising suitors, the one she already has notwithstanding,”

Gran assured, and when Eve noticed how her parents lit up at this, Gran simply patted Eve on the hand as if there was nothing in the world to worry about. Eve kissed her parents each on the cheek and they followed her to the front door.

Outside, she again allowed herself a moment of grandeur descending the stoop in her gown before the heel of her nicest pair of shoes—some impractical, satin-covered concoction—nearly caught in one of her modest trains. A near tumble down the steps humbled her from any grander notions.

A few familiar ghosts whose spectral forms remained forever in their finest regalia swept up to her, drawn by her finery, and chattered away about their favorite moments from balls long gone and suitors long dead; a sudden, sentimental cacophony. Eve turned to all of them and offered a smile and a little curtsey, which seemed to content them. The burst of spectral onslaught faded, the knot of spirits wafting down the lane to haunt the edges of Central Park, still murmuring about stolen kisses. Eve allowed herself to enjoy their explosive sentiment, letting it kindle a fondness within her.
That’s what she wanted the world to understand about spirits; they told you more about life than death. They were a constant reminder to appreciate it, every moment you could.

Once seated in Gran’s carriage it would be a quick drive to the event. When Eve had suggested they simply walk the avenue and several blocks, Gran had taken one look at her fancy shoes, and Eve relented. “Detective Horowitz agreed to meet me at the event. As social foundation, assurance and chaperone, Gran, can we wait for him at the entrance? I suppose I should have asked if that was all right before inviting him,” Eve said rather sheepishly.

Gran chuckled. “The moment you said you had a ‘suitor’ I was prepared for any contingency. It doesn't surprise me you've created a ruse, but I hope the young man is amenable.”

Eve smiled. “He is, and you’re the best friend anyone could ever ask for.”

“It’s my calling,” Gran said, returning the smile. She thought a moment and the smile turned slightly worried. “Do you two intend to go searching the house?”

“As tempting as that might be, I think it highly unwise. I think instinct, and the whisper of spirits, will give us plenty to work with for now, lest my department receive another complaint.”

Pulling up, there was a carriage ahead of them and they stared out the window at the property. It was a large white granite block of a building with golden metal details, ornate cornice pieces, and another rectangular extension of large garden grounds on either side. Tightly trimmed hedges with topiaries poked up from the hedgerows, and the top of what looked like a huge golden gazebo, with open lattice-work more like the top of an enormous bird-cage, could be seen at the rear of the complex. “Well, it’s a . . . statement, this place,” Eve said.

The carriage path cleared and their cab rolled ahead as the next to alight. “The whole property feels like an elaborate series of traps,” Gran muttered. “The walled garden, that outside cage affair, this portico—look, the stones in the arch are like teeth, a mouth ready to swallow guests . . .”

Gran’s driver, a lovely man named John, helped them both out and whistled at the property. “I know it’s not quite your style, ma’am, but it’s something else.”

“It’s something else all right,” Gran said with a little chuckle.

“I’ll be ready by ten, take whatever time you need. It’s good to see you out socializing and not just working, Miss Whitby,” John said, bowing his head.

“Oh, I’m working,” she countered quietly. “That’s the only reason I’m here. But don’t tell them that,” Eve nodded towards the house. “I’m here incognito.”

John laughed. “At least you all keep life interesting,” he said, climbing atop his perch and driving off.

From under the portico maw, a raised portcullis gate with golden spikes hovering over them like waiting fangs, they ascended the few steps to the front door landing. Once inside, a few guests in the wide entrance foyer were fussing with cloaks and capelets, handing them over to a footman dressed to the nines in livery. “There’s a young man who will be here on my invitation,” Gran stated to the footman. “Should we simply wait for him here? I don’t want to be in anyone’s way, but I don’t want any lost lambs.”

Just as she said this, there was a tentative but familiar voice calling out from the shadows beyond the threshold of the open door, part of a head peeking in. “Hello there, sorry if you’re waiting for me!”

Stepping into the bright electric light of the stone shelter was the detective, his mop of curly brown hair tamed a bit, but not entirely. He was in a very fine black suit with a royal blue waistcoat, a small white rosebud in his lapel. Dashing, Eve had to admit. There was something about dressing up that had the capability to create magic and possibility.

“Well,” Gran murmured approvingly.

“Ah, the man of the hour,” Eve declared as his warm brown eyes edged in blue flicked from her to Gran and he smiled a wide, dazzling smile. It’s as if he knew he needed to play his role as charming gentleman and had stepped into it with ease. “Gran, may I introduce you to Mr. Horowitz, who has become a truly valuable asset to me and mine.”

“Jacob Horowitz, at your service, madam,” he declared, bowing slightly before holding out his hand. Gran gave hers. “I’ve heard you’re the cleverest and the most important woman on the planet. I look forward to saying the same from personal experience.”

Gran laughed. “Flattery, even before anyone’s had a glass of champagne— what a lovely night so far. Come, let’s have our cloaks taken up,” Gran gestured to the waiting footman.

“I’m sorry I’m late,” the detective murmured to Eve, his cheeks coloring scarlet. “Mother made a bit of a scene over me.”

Gran graciously involved herself with talking to another lady she recognized. By the way they spoke of dogs and a Reverend it was clear  they knew one another from Reverend Blessing’s ASPCA events. The Reverend, one of Gran’s best friends was an ardent rescuer of animals. It was lovely that Gran knew everyone, it was lovelier still that Gran knew everyone from doing amazing things.

“Mother was so overjoyed at the idea of my going to meet someone,” Horowitz explained, still in a whisper, “well, to be specific, a girl, that she insisted, last minute, on a new suit. I didn’t have the heart to tell her you weren’t Jewish, she might have made me return it.”

Eve chuckled. “Well, it’s a very nice suit,” she offered.

“Thanks,” he said, trying to adjust the stiff collar with a grimace, to no avail. “But I can’t move.”

“That makes two of us,” Eve said, gesturing to her own trappings.

“Well, it’s a very nice gown,” the detective offered in turn.

 “Here we are, in the nicest of things, longing for shirtsleeves.”

“You’re telling me,” he exclaimed. “And the ability to breathe.”

“You’re telling me,” Eve countered, patting the doubled layers of boning and stiff satin. “I’m in the corset.”

Horowitz shook his head. “I don’t know how you ladies do it.”

“I don’t, usually. Thank goodness for modern times and dress reform.”

“Agreed.” Horowitz gestured ahead of him. “For this set, dressing like this is a uniform, part of their job. I don’t envy it.”

“And they don’t envy us; keeping the distinction of classes comfortably each at their own level, not at one another’s throats. I suppose we’re a fine example of capitalism at its most gracious.” At this, Horowitz laughed a little too loudly. Everyone in the entrance foyer turned. Horowitz turned too, as if looking at someone behind him. Eve bit her tongue to hold in a guffaw.

“Come on, you two, into the fray,” Gran said gently and the trio stepped forward. Another liveried gentleman was checking guest names and Eve let Gran do all the talking. What was and wasn’t acceptable Eve didn’t dare presume; she didn’t have the social intricacies to fathom it. While Gran didn’t know the Prenze family personally, one of their relatives had insisted that any function that crossed Gran’s notice was open under her name, and to lean on her association with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This seemed to do the trick and they were allowed to pass into another reception area, an empty room with a marble floor and a reproduction of part of the Sistine chapel painted along the walls, with extra gilding added onto the paint. In this square room a few people stood milling and chatting, glancing around for others they knew.

A stream of people were progressing down another hall beyond the painted anteroom, towards music in the distance. They followed. Wooden pocket doors with golden inlay led to rooms off the main corridor, but all were shut. Small decorative tables were inset along the corridor, each one sporting a grand urn-like vase in 18th century French style that was positively tumbling with fragrant lilies. “Smells like a funeral,” Gran murmured in Eve’s ear, and she again bit her tongue so as not to bark a laugh, her tongue now sore from decorum.

Their trio entered the ballroom and drank it in. It was the very epitome of the nouveau riche that the old aristocracy abhorred. Gaudy and overblown, trying to make a statement not by saying something but by shouting it. Everything was gilded, there were fountains at each corner hewn from marble, and electric light blazed from seashell sconces, illuminating a dome above them littered with hanging chandeliers of innumerable crystals along the circumference and a ceiling painted to be a blue sky with a golden sun at the epicenter. The ballroom floor itself was marble, a theme through the house, but not the best choice for dancing; it made everyone too careful and there was no bounce to it, no give, making movement hard and stiff, not to mention noisy, as if it was all for show with no thought about the enjoyment of it. A cluster of men in tailcoats were near one of the recesses of the ballroom, an inset dais of golden-backed, velvet covered chairs from which one figure stood.

Eve followed Horowitz’ eyes as they widened. The most arresting woman Eve had ever seen descended from the dais with a laugh, her gaggle of admirers following her. A stunning flame-haired redhead, with hair so bright as to be nearly copper, her eyes were wide and crystalline, and her mouth a pink bow of a smile. She was dressed in what appeared to be a white Regency gown, with a length of sky blue crepe hanging from lithe arms. She wasn’t clothed remotely in the style of recent fashion, but appeared to have stepped out of some costumed drama and Eve wondered if everyone had missed an instruction to appear in clothing from long ago. It was obvious that everyone was murmuring about her as a centerpiece of the event. Eve glanced at an enormous portrait hanging at the back of the ballroom, and she understood this woman must be part of the family with her uncanny resemblance to the couple who stood painted in Regency finery, to which her dress was an homage.

Eve found herself moving towards the center of the room, almost unconsciously, as if everyone who looked at this woman was immediately magnetized and drawn into her orbit, when she caught sight of an unfortunate figure by the wall and paused. Horowitz, at her side, followed her eyes and groaned. “Mahoney. After the complaint about this family I can’t imagine he’ll like seeing me here, so let’s try not to be seen,” Eve stated. He was standing in a fine suit, arms folded over his barrel chest, his thinning silver hair swept back from his bulldog-jowled face, a frown drooping down below his bushy mustache. His eyes were affixed, as nearly all were, to the beauteous lady of the house.

This gave her cover to find Gran, who had taken up a gilded chair not far from the punch table.
Her sitting there, as if on a throne, was its own breathtaking moment for Eve, looking at this regal creature in her saffron gown, like a ray of elder sunlight descending from the painted sky, there to illuminate them all with wisdom and wit. Though Eve wondered a moment about her needing to sit. In earlier years she likely would have been one of the first on the dance floor, regardless of the surface, there to shine radiant beams and catch everyone up in her glow. Gran’s eyes flicked behind Eve and as the three of them were close enough, Gran murmured, “Quite the family.” Eve turned to see the beautiful woman talking to a lanky, lean man who shared that same orange-flame hair, save his was streaked with bands of white at each temple. An elder brother.

Additional movement caught Eve’s eye. “Oh, no, here comes a bit of trouble,” Eve muttered. “Gran, I’ll need your help on this. Mahoney is one of our chief critics.”

At this, Gran stood and Eve was reminded just how towering she was—not just tall, but statuesque in her power. The man approached them, his drooping scowl seemingly affixed to his face at rest. Evelyn stepped forward as if to defend Eve, but armed with an effervescent smile, and the parties kept a comfortable distance of a few feet while the music changed to a different baroque tune, something old-fashioned and courtly, matching the gilded, dated decor.

“Miss Whitby, Mrs. Northe-Stewart,” Sergeant Mahoney bobbed his head. He turned to Horowitz. “Detective? What are you doing here?”

“The Horowitz family has been a long-time friend of our family,” Gran stated, and Eve was grateful for the connection to her mother’s school friend Rachel. “I’ve been telling the detective he needs to appreciate the finer things in life, a pastime this family so clearly delights in.”

“I do hope you’re simply here in the service of high society,” he grumbled, choosing to address only the elder Evelyn.

“Oh, of course, why else would anyone attend a ball? Are you a relative or the hired help here this evening?” Evelyn asked pointedly.

Eve kept her face neutral but was surprised by Gran’s directness. Her position, age and wealth afforded her this ability. Eve would hardly be given such breadth.

Mahoney’s jaw clenched. “I believe in this family’s philanthropic work.”

“And just what all does that work entail? Usually the people in my sphere are very public about it, carving their names into cornerstones and naming institutions after themselves.”

“And this family just so happens to be private about it. More godly, don’t you think, to be private about one’s service?”

“So you know nothing about it?”

“I know that Mister Prenze is a reformer to those who have sin in their hearts and minds. Those who are restless and seeking. He’s saved lives and souls. After a family loss, the only succor is prayer.” He spoke with such certainty Eve felt clear he was speaking for himself and some tragedy he personally sustained.

“Well that sounds very fine of him,” Gran offered. “And I’m terribly sorry to hear of a loss.”

The sergeant’s eyes widened. “I’d have thought everyone in high society knew about the death of the Prenze twin.”

“Ah, that’s right,” Gran exclaimed, clucking her tongue. “I’m terribly sorry, how rude of me. I do remember reading about that, my memory isn’t what it used to be!” She shook her head. Eve wasn’t sure if that was true or not. There were games one played in conversations in places like this. “I don’t believe we’ve ever been introduced to Mr. Prenze directly—my connection here is through a mutual associate. Is that something you’d like to arrange or would it be best if I manage that myself?”

The sergeant glanced first at Eve, almost as if to ask if she’d put her Grandmother up to this, and then glanced back. “He’s obviously very busy, as is his sister.”

“Well, I’ll just have to introduce myself when I see him unoccupied,” Gran said with a winning smile. “Good evening, Sergeant. My dears,” she turned to them. “Let’s have more punch.”

Eve and Horowitz nodded their heads in respect and followed Gran’s lead of sweeping over to the refreshment table just as fresh champagne was brought out to the guests. Mahoney’s scowl remained fixed after them. Eve could feel it as if it were a hand on the back of her skull, but Gran paid no mind, continuing on with her effervescent smile.

“I am all kinds of curious,” Horowitz whispered.

“If he has a certain ‘ministry’ I imagine he has loyal followers, if this is any indication,” Eve said, watching the admiring crowds at work.

“Industry. I want to know what industry made the family’s wealth,” Horowitz stated. “Usually one can tell.”

“Medicine. Tonics. Placations and palliatives,” Eve offered. “I’ve seen the name in adverts. It’s often obvious in design or motif in homes built from robber baron profit. You’d think there would be at least a caduceus or something, illuminating the source of their fortunes under all the garish light.”

“It is bright, isn’t it?” Horowitz said, looking around. “Almost too bright.”

“Do you want to know the oddest thing of all?” Eve asked. The detective gestured for her to proceed. Eve drew closer, taking one of Gran’s proffered cups and handing one to the detective. She leaned in toward Gran, so that both could hear her murmur. “There are no spirits. Not a one. Ghosts love balls. But there are none here. None passing through, none lingering to watch or pine, or to frolic. This is a void.”

“It’s true,” Gran assented. “Nothing. That’s the strangest thing, next to a marble ballroom floor. Who on earth wants to dance on the hardest stone and injure their feet? Everyone knows the best ballroom floor is a wooden one,” Gran scoffed.

“Perhaps the Prenze family just thinks everyone will glide about their floor,” Horowitz offered with a slight smile. “It does seem to be trying for a celestial sort of look.”

“I suppose you’re right,” Eve replied with a little laugh. “I’m not sure God would be so gaudy, but who am I to guess? Not for mortal minds to fathom.”

“But no spirits in the least,” Gran said, glancing about a shallow clerestory level above the ballroom. “It’s troubling, truly. Because I have felt, since I came onto these grounds, like I’m being watched. Do you?”

“Well, yes, by the sergeant,” Eve answered.

“Beyond that man; he was harmless,” Gran countered. “Just a loyal dog trying to feel very important. But right now, I feel watched. Distinctly. But I cannot find from where, or by whom.”

They looked around, at everyone, at every level, at every bright corner, as there were no shadows to be seen, hoping for an answer.

“Do you dance, Miss Whitby?” the detective asked after a while. She looked at him. His unique face, angled and distinct, was more handsome to her the more she stared at it. He’d asked a question . . .

“I have. At least, I have been taught to dance. And I’ve been known to, occasionally.” Goodness, she thought with terror, could she sound more awkward? And why did she even care? The whole point of her pretense was so that she wouldn’t have to.

“Would you like to?” he prompted.


“Well, yes,” he replied haltingly. “We’re at a dance. In a ballroom. It’s what it’s meant for, ill-suited floor notwithstanding.” Eve paused. “We don’t have to, I mean, I know we’re not—I understand fully. I feel the same—”

“Ah, a waltz, my favorite!” Eve exclaimed as the music shifted and she tried to absolve them both of awkwardness. Perhaps it was good there were no ghosts, lest they chatter about her and the detective and make her self-conscious. It was one of the reasons she’d been so reluctant to consider a suitor.

Many people often insinuated themselves and offered unsolicited opinions when it came to romance, but none so much as the dead. She’d struck a deal with spirits when she was fourteen that if they didn’t stop fussing over what she wore or looked like, or whether they thought she’d gotten enough rest or had the right attitude about something, she’d never respond to them ever again, on the surety that they’d all, young and old and every kind equally henpeck her to death. Treat me as you’d wish to be treated, she’d had to remind the spirits. Right now, she didn’t want ghostly editorializing as she felt Horowitz’ firm palm cup her waist and his outstretched hand receive hers.

Twirling about, Eve caught sergeant Mahoney’s scowling gaze. On another twirl she caught Gran’s bemused expression, seemingly delighted that Eve was at least playing at enjoying her pretense of a suitor. On another spin, twirled under the detective’s deft arm—and why did he also have to be so effortless a dancer—she watched as the Prenze brother and sister danced together, their fair faces beaming, like oscillating candles with their orange-flame hair, lighting up the whole room as they spun.

There was a great deal of love there; that was clear. And yet, without spirits hanging about in rafters or against walls or swooping down over the company in glee and abandon, as Eve had always known, something felt terribly empty here. There was no life when there was no death . . . This world was entirely incomplete.

They enjoyed one waltz but at the end, breaking apart, their eyes meeting in a flash as bright as the electric bulbs, it seemed clear with a resurging swell of awkwardness that they’d best not indulge in a second.

“Thank you,” they said at the same time, and smiled.

(end of excerpt)
THE SPECTRAL CITY releases from Kensington Rebel Base Books 11/27 in eBook (only $3.99!) print paperback, or audio book! Pre-orders can get a special gift by putting in their conformation # here!  - Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Indiebound - Signed, Personalized copies via Etsy

Friday, November 16, 2018

THE SPECTRAL CITY Pre-Order Prize! And a SPECTRAL CITY teaser!

11 days until THE SPECTRAL CITY releases into this world and launches an exciting new series full of ghosts, mystery and mayhem! 


Solving crime isn’t only for the living.  
In turn-of-the century New York City, the police have an off-the-books spiritual go-to when it comes to solving puzzling corporeal crimes . . .
Her name is Eve Whitby, gifted medium and spearhead of The Ghost Precinct. When most women are traveling in a gilded society that promises only well-appointed marriage, the confident nineteen-year-old Eve navigates a social circle that carries a different kind of chill. Working with the diligent but skeptical Lieutenant Horowitz, as well as a group of fellow psychics and wayward ghosts, Eve holds her own against detractors and threats to solve New York’s most disturbing crimes as only a medium of her ability can.
But as accustomed as Eve is to ghastly crimes and all matters of the uncanny, even she is unsettled by her department’s latest mystery. Her ghostly conduits are starting to disappear one by one as though snatched away by some evil force determined to upset the balance between two realms, and most important—destroy the Ghost Precinct forever. Now Eve must brave the darkness to find the vanished souls. She has no choice. It’s her job to make sure no one is ever left for dead.

Kensington Books is offering a beautiful pre-order thank you gift! Once you've pre-ordered via your favorite retailer in eBook (only $3.99) or print paperback or audio book, go here and enter your confirmation # and your thank you gift will be sent, including these lovely items including a signed bookmark, bookplate and more!


An exclusive little window into the next phase: here's a sneak peak at the first draft of a scene from The Spectral City sequel, out in fall 2019!

Manhattan, 1899:

Suddenly, Eve was downstairs. Wavering in the parlor,  she found herself staring at the bulky telephone box on the wall as if she were expecting a call.

With no memory of how had she gotten downstairs, she looked down to find that she was in her dressing gown. It’s voluminous layers of satin, silk and lace were synched tight around her waist.

The phone rang. But it didn’t, really. A ghost of a ring sounded like a faraway bell. A phantom ringing, something trying to reach her from the beyond.

She picked up the receiver. There was a distinct hiss on the line. Breathing.

Eve wanted to recoil, to drop the bell in terror but a familiar voice began speaking, as though from a great distance.   

“Hello Eve,” said a gentle voice through the bell, soft, barely audible over a static hiss.


“It’s Lily Strand. Remember me?”

Lily Strand was dead. A deaconess who had ushered Ingrid Schwerin’s spirit onward to peace, she was a guardian of children’s souls.

“Yes…” Eve whispered into the bell.

“Come to the Sanctuary, Eve. I need you to come. For the children. It’s the only way to make this right. You’ve failed them so you must come now.”
(end of draft excerpt)