After a dishonest woman broke his heart, renowned aetherist Edward Bailey buried the pieces under a strict routine built on solid, scientific predictability. Any deviation doesn’t just bother him—it short circuits his carefully cultivated balance.
A routine faculty meeting unexpectedly presents a twin challenge to his comfort zone. Not only does the beautiful Iris McTavish appear in her famous archeologist father’s place, Edward is forced to accompany her on an undercover expedition to find an element that will harness the power of aether.
Iris is determined to prove her worth as a scholar and scientist, and save the financially ruined house of McTavish without accepting an unwanted marriage proposal. But keeping her secret is difficult when she’s faced with Edward’s compelling gaze and unrelenting logic.
Amid clockwork spy devices, threats from a mysterious society who’ll stop at nothing to conceal their secrets, and plots from a guild bent on stealing them, Edward and Iris’s attraction sparks and gains momentum. But betrayal awaits them on the road from Paris to Rome—and the revolutionary discovery they seek could grind their hearts to pieces.
Warning: Contains a brilliant professor with a white-knuckle case of anxiety, a woman with an ahead-of-her-time spirit of adventure, real and made-up history, and a Grand Tour that serves up murder plots and secret temples along with wine, tea, and cream puffs. You may wish to pack your shovel along with your silks.
Marie St. Jean’s supreme acting talent comes with a price: Every spellbinding performance extracts a piece of her soul. When she reluctantly steps into a role abandoned by another leading lady, she encounters the reason the other woman fled in terror—a ghostly spirit who promises to fix her affliction.
Violinist Johann Bledsoe pulls her heart in a direction she dares not go, but with the Prussians surrounding Paris, she is well and truly trapped.
Johann thought he’s left disgrace and his gambling debt behind in England, but a murder outside the Théâtre Bohème makes him fear he’s been exposed. Though his heart resonates for the ravishing daughter of Madame St. Jean, he knows that once the siege is over, he’ll have to keep running.
Under the baleful eye of steam-powered ravens, more murders drive Marie and Johann closer to the truth of what really lurks below the stage, and what dangers hang over their heads. Their only hope could lie in exposing their darkest secrets—and surrendering to the Eros Element in a way that could push them irretrievably close to the edge of madness.
Warning: Main ingredients include copious amounts of wine and decadent desserts. And drama. Mon dieu, lots of drama. May result in the uncontrollable urge to applaud even if you’re reading this in a public place.