Here’s the official description:
When a crippled young lord rescues a girl falling from a tree, it reveals a secret about himself and his mother’s side of the family that could put him at the center of a war with beings he thought only existed in fairy tales.Tristan Gareth Smyth lived his entire life stuck at home at Waverly Park, left behind while his Grandfather makes trips to London, all because of his blasted wheelchair. Then an American heiress falls in his lap, literally, and he must find a way to keep her at a distance to protect not only his secret, but everyone around him from an assassin sent to kill him.
If that isn’t enough to whet your appetite, you can read Chapter 4 below, in which the girls go to a meeting of an inventor’s club. And don’t forget to read to scroll down, where there is an entry form for a paperback copy of Armored Hearts and other cool swag!
Jessamine fidgeted with her necklace. â€œAre you sure itâ€™s okay for me to come to your BUBO club?â€
She wasnâ€™t usually so nervous about meeting new people. The gentle rocking motion of the carriage made her a bit nauseated. At least the breeze wafted in and kept her from feeling stifled by the hot afternoon air.
Tabitha smiled and patted her hand. â€œThey will welcome you with open arms. They always do. Mrs. Collins hosts the club meetings weekly. All women with a mind for automation are welcome, no matter their class. At least itâ€™s one thing I might be able to keep.â€
Tabithaâ€™s pretty smile was gone, replaced by a downcast look of worry.
Jessamine reached out and touched her shoulder. â€œAre you unwell?â€
Tabithaâ€™s smile looked forced. â€œIâ€™m fineâ€¦for now.â€
â€œAnd soon you wonâ€™t be?â€
â€œI have a habit of looking for numbers to figure. I like them. They comfort me, because itâ€™s one of the few things in life which are perfectly predictable. When Iâ€™m stressed or bored, I go through Lord Penseesâ€™s books and work them. Only, the numbers were not working out favorably.â€ She frowned and shook her head, realizing she was speaking out of turn. â€œIâ€™m sorry. I shouldnâ€™t be sharing Lord Geraldâ€™s personal matters with you. That wasnâ€™t becoming.â€
â€œYou call him Lord Pensees and Lord Gerald?â€
Tabitha blushed. â€œSince Iâ€™m not allowed a more personal term for him, the way Gareth addresses him as Grandfather, he allows me to use his Christian name in private, but still with Lord preceding it.â€
â€œAre you related to the family?â€
Tabitha answered Jessamine with only a stare.
â€œIâ€™m sorry. Iâ€™m speaking out of turn this round. There are not so many social taboos in America.â€
â€œItâ€™s quite all right. I will answer you like this. When Henry VIIIâ€™s mistress gave him a son, he wasnâ€™t allowed the surname of Tudor, but given the surname Fitzroy, meaning son of royalty, as a way for the king to acknowledge him as his son. I am Tabitha Fitzgerald and am the legal ward of Lord Gerald Smyth, Earl of Pensees.â€
Understanding sunk in as Jessamineâ€™s eyes widened. â€œI see.â€
â€œDo you view me differently now?â€
Jessamine reached over and patted her friend on the hand. â€œNonsense. We are sisters in automation. The rest is unimportant.â€
â€œI wish everyone saw it as such. With no money or title, and the family estate in trouble, I will be seeking another situation shortly.â€
Jessamineâ€™s heart went out to Tabitha. She hardly knew her and yet a fast bond had formed between them. â€œIs there anything I can do? Do you think your family would accept assistance from me or my father?â€
Tabitha shook her head and stared out the window but her eyes seemed to be looking at something other than the rolling scenery. â€œNo, pride would never allow them to accept charity.â€
Jessamine leaned in to whisper, â€œIf I were to marry Mr. Gareth, my money would be his money. Andâ€¦you know why Iâ€™m here.â€
Tabitha rolled her sky-blue eyes. â€œGareth will never marry. He wonâ€™t even talk to a lady. He says heâ€™d be bored with nothing polite to say after a five minute conversation.â€
Jessamine laughed. â€œHe considers his first five minutes of conversation to be polite?â€
Tabitha laughed, too. â€œGareth is sweet at heart. He really is. His grandfather and others, theyâ€™ve made him feelâ€¦I donâ€™t know, self-conscious. He pushes everyone away except me. Neither of us have mothers, so we bonded early.â€
The carriage stopped and Thompton opened the door for them. Jessamine smiled at him. â€œThank you, Thompton.â€
He bowed and tilted his head toward Tabitha. â€œWhat time should I be back fer you?â€
â€œYou donâ€™t need to come back. Mrs. Collins will see us home.â€
Thompton nodded, climbed back up and drove the carriage on. Tabitha grabbed Jessamineâ€™s arm and looped hers through it. â€œNow we go around back to the stables.â€
A dark cloud hovered almost directly over the stable. It nearly blocked out the sun and seemed strange in the otherwise clear sky. Two women stood in front of the building, each in the otherâ€™s personal space and both red faced as they argued.
A stern lady dressed in black and a high collar crossed her arms in front of her chest. â€œWeâ€™ve told you, the BUBO club is not a good fit for your sort of automation. You are no longer welcome to our meetings.â€
Jessamine shot a glance at Tabitha, whose face fell. Tabitha whispered, â€œThatâ€™s Mrs. Williams.â€
The other dark-haired woman stood back, placing her hands on each side of her primrose bustle. Her mouth twisted in derision. â€œDo you really think you can gain acceptance except by force?â€
Mrs. Williams pointed away from the stables. â€œYou are not welcome, Mrs. Steel.â€
The dark-haired woman gathered up her skirts and stormed in their direction. Tabitha pulled Jessamine to the side and out of sight. They waited until the woman had stormed by before approaching the door. Jessamineâ€™s stomach twisted as the stepped toward Mrs. Williams. The womanâ€™s lips were puckered, and she ran her hands on both sides of her severe, ash blond bun. She stood much taller than Jessamine or Tabitha.
Mrs. Willimams blinked hard and nodded to Tabitha. â€œMiss Fitzgerald, nice to see you. And who is your guest?â€
Tabitha pulled Jessamine in closer. â€œThis is Miss Jessamine Keller. Sheâ€™s visiting from the Americas.â€
The woman glared at Jessamine. â€œAnd do you already know how to re-work hats?â€
Jessamine reached into her collar and pulled out her owl pendant. â€œYes, my mother taught me.â€
â€œAnd your inventionsâ€¦are they items to improve life or take it?â€
Jessamineâ€™s hand flew to her chest as she glanced toward Tabitha in shock. â€œImprove life, of course.â€
The womanâ€™s face softened. â€œIâ€™m sorry, I had to ask after a recent incident. Welcome. Iâ€™m Mrs. Williams. Iâ€™ve got door duty this week. Go on in and make yourself comfortable at one of our many work stations.â€
Jessamine followed Tabitha into the stables as Mrs. Williams held the door open. The stable was large inside and had been converted into a work shed. One group of ladies in smocks crowded around a buggy. It was like some of the automobiles sheâ€™d seen in South Carolina.
The lady wearing brown knickerbockers, a puffy sleeved shirt and a leather apron stood by it, speaking to those gathered around. â€œThis is my version of the automobile, but without the smelly exhaust from gasoline. Instead, it is hydro-powered. If you look right here, you will find my faux river. A spooning mechanism pivots and causes the water to rush forward, pushing the tiny waterwheels. In turn, they push the gears causing the wheels to turn. A tank catches the water as it flows. When the tank hits empty, you simply pull over, take the jug the water has emptied into and refill the tank at upper mouth of the faux river. Itâ€™s clean, and you can even keep fish in the tanks.â€ She lifted up one of the tanks to show goldfish swimming about. â€œJust remember to feed them.â€ She dropped bits of food in the water.
The crowd around her clapped and cheered.
Jessamine and Tabitha made their way to another display. A young woman with orange hair, wearing tattered, canvas pants stood by what looked like a barrel on wagon wheels.
â€œAs many of you know, my father is a farmer. Every year I walk behind him, dropping seeds as he plows, and cover the seeds with my foot as I go. All day long, every day, until planting is done. Iâ€™ve spent years toiling, and my mind spun around in my head trying to think of a way to make it more efficient. Now, Iâ€™ve come up with this planter.â€
She walked around to the side of the barrel. â€œYou take the crank and turn it around over and over until it wonâ€™t turn anymore. This winds up the cord. Once you do that, you wheel it to the ground you want planted. The plow up front digs the trench while this belt pushes seeds out about a foot apart. This flap on the back covers the seed just the right amount of dirt. And thereâ€™s even a spout at the rear to water as it goes. Cuts the planting time in half and requires fewer hands.â€
A grey-haired woman stepped out and started the applause. Tabitha leaned in and whispered, â€œThatâ€™s Mrs. Collins.â€
Mrs. Collins waited for the clapping to stop before she spoke. â€œThis is why we are here. We are women with minds for automation. God did not intend us rot in a corner with them. When God created man, He saw that the man needed a helper and created a woman. Now, the God I serve is a smart God with grand ideas. How smart would it be to offer an idiot as a helper? To say, â€˜Here you go. Sheâ€™s not really good for much. Sheâ€™s kind of entertaining when naked but other than that, put her in a safe place so she doesnâ€™t hurt herself.â€™ No, that would make no sense at all.â€
The womanâ€™s warm eyes glowed as she addressed them. â€œWe are not trying to take over for the work of men. We only wish to be included. We see things from a different perspective than the men and thatâ€™s a good thing. It is my hope that, one day, women and men can work side by side and forge new technologies together.â€
When she finished, the crowd applauded and began to separate into groups to discuss projects. Mrs. Collins approached Tabitha. â€œMiss Fitzgerald, so nice to see you. May I be introduced to your friend?â€
Tabitha bowed in reverence to the woman. Obvious admiration and respect shone from her as she watched the older woman from under long dark lashes. â€œThis is Miss Jessamine Keller. Her mother is responsible for automating textile factories throughout the southeastern United States.â€
The woman faced Jessamine with a welcoming grin. â€œYour mother is an automator?â€
â€œYes, my father has a great head for business and my mother has one for mechanics. Together, theyâ€™ve built an empire and improved working conditions. They have their home office in a town called Chesnee, in South Carolina. Their automations have freed up children from the factories. Sheâ€™s developed an innovative fabric blend that will change the world of textiles, as well as the military.â€
Mrs. Williams stepped closer. â€œI thought you said your inventions were to improve life and not take it.â€
Jessamine nodded her head. â€œYes, quite right. But when a womanâ€™s son finds himself at war, would his mother not have him shielded from the danger around him? My mother has designed a fabric as soft as cotton but as tough as armor.â€
â€œThat is amazing dear.â€ Mrs. Collins grasped her by the forearm and nodded. â€œI applaud all your mother is doing on both fronts. I wish someone would take up the cause of the children here. Many children have suffered in factories for their cheap labor, casting education aside. Itâ€™s a terrible affliction.â€
Jessamine nodded. â€œMy parents have also endowed schools in Chesnee so that the populace will be educated and ready for a future in automation. They donâ€™t want an ignorant workforce.â€
â€œAnd are the girls educated along with the boys?â€
A warm smile crossed Jessamineâ€™s face as she thought of what her parents were doing. â€œYes, maâ€™am. Girls and boys are educated together.â€
â€œWonderful. Now, has Tabitha taken you to see what sheâ€™s been working on?â€
Jessamine shook her head. â€œNot yet.â€
Mrs. Collins gestured for them to lead the way. â€œPlease Tabitha, introduce us to your automation.â€
Tabitha led them to a countertop full of appliances. â€œIâ€™ve spent a great deal of time in the kitchen at home with Sarah, our housekeeper. Watching her work has helped me come up with great ideas for how to automate her labors. Automation should be for the common woman, too.â€
She pointed to a device on a shelf. â€œThis simple flame under this steel barrel works to keep water heated at all times. No need to boil for tea or dishwashing. This coil also feeds from the flame to this metal box and is ready for small things like reheating a meal for lunch or for toasting bread.
â€œAnd Iâ€™ve added springs to push the door open and the rack out once the desired temperature is reached. It triggers this bell and lets the person who is cooking it know it is done.â€
Jessamine tipped at her hat in salute to her friend. â€œVery smart indeed.â€
Mrs. Collins turned her attention to Jessamine. â€œMiss Keller, did you bring anything to display?â€
Jessamine grinned in anticipation. Her heart raced as she thought of finally sharing what she had been working on. â€œWhy yes, I did.â€
Want to know what Jessamine had been working on? You’ll have to read the book for that.