QSFer Anna Butler has a new MM Steampunk book coming out on 10/30, “The Jackal’s House”:
Something is stalking the Aegyptian night and endangering the archaeologists excavating the mysterious temple ruins in Abydos. But is it a vengeful ancient spirit or a very modern conspiracy…
Rafe Lancaster’s relationship with Gallowglass First Heir, Ned Winter, flourishes over the summer of 1900, and when Rafe’s House encourages him to join Ned’s next archaeological expedition, he sees a chance for it to deepen further. Since all the Houses of the Britannic Imperium, Rafe’s included, view assassination as a convenient solution to most problems, he packs his aether pistol—just in case.
Trouble finds them in Abydos. Rafe and Ned begin to wonder if they’re facing opposition to the Temple of Seti being disturbed. What begins as tricks and pranks escalates to attacks and death, while the figure of the Dog—the jackal-headed god Anubis, ruler of death—casts a long shadow over the desert sands. Destruction follows in his wake as he returns to reclaim his place in Abydos. Can Rafe and Ned stand against both the god and House plots when the life of Ned’s son is on the line?
Lancaster’s Luck Book Two
About the Series:
Lancaster’s Luck is set in a steampunk world where, at the turn of the 20th century, the eight powerful Convocation Houses are the de facto rulers of the Britannic Imperium. In this world of politics and assassins, a world powered by luminiferous aether and phlogiston and where aeroships fill the skies, Captain Rafe Lancaster, late of Her Majesty’s Imperial Aero Corps, buys a coffee house in one of the little streets near the Britannic Museum in Bloomsbury.
So begins the romantic steampunk adventures which have Rafe, a member of Minor House Stravaigor, scrambling over Londinium’s rooftops on a sultry summer night or facing dire peril in the pitch dark of an Aegyptian night. And all the while, sharing the danger is the man he loves: Ned Winter, First Heir of Convocation House Gallowglass, the most powerful House in the entire Imperium.
The only times I’d seen him this relaxed and at peace back home had been while he lay against me, skin against skin, sated after a night of lovemaking. Well, with luck I could provide that too, although perhaps not quite skin to skin. The sand got in everywhere if you tried that.
I slipped my hand into his. We were going to one of our favorite spots half a mile or so from the expedition house, a place where a small sandy depression in the land formed a perfect bowl before the ground started rising to the hills edging the Western Desert. Behind us, sparks from the village’s fires danced upward to meet the star-diamonds, and out on the canal a fisherman leaned out of his boat to grasp his nets, illuminated by a moon that had leached all the color out of the world, leaving it gray and black with shadow.
Far in the distance came a sharp yapping.
A jackal, likely, rather than one of the village dogs. The desert teemed with them, those ancient psychopomps to the souls of the dead. Another picked up the call, like an echo. Behind us, from the reedbeds of the canal, came the low ugh-ugh-ugh of a bittern and the higher-pitched whoop of the ibis.
Ned’s quiet breathing as he walked beside me became deeper, relaxed, and easy. His eyes gleamed in the starlight. “I love this.” His grip on my hand tightened. “Listen to that! Can you imagine what it must have been like all those thousands of years ago? So little in this old land has changed. Fishermen in Seti’s time went out on the canal in boats very like that one, and the bitterns kept up the same commentary as they watched. Seti heard the jackals too, and worshipped them.”
“I draw the line at worshipping dogs.”
The jackals started up again, farther off, the sound harder and angrier. Two dogs trading insults and gearing up for a little manly jostling perhaps, or a dog posturing for a reluctant female. After a little while, the barks and growls became a screaming yelp, and then there was silence.
“I wonder if she was interested anyway.” Ned sounded amused, showing he’d followed the same line of thought I had. He shook out the soft bedthrow and settled it over the sands.
“One of them lost, and I’d be surprised if it was the lady.” I settled onto the blanket.
Ned lay on his side, facing me, propping himself up on one elbow and using his free hand to trace a fingertip down the side of my face. “Do you really want to talk about the mating habits of jackals?”
“I would far rather talk about ours. Or to be precise, I don’t want to talk but to act.”
“Good.” Ned leaned over me. “Because I shall follow Benedick’s example and stop your mouth.”
With a kiss. With lots of kisses.
Well, blow me down hard. If there was one thing Shakespeare got right, it was the efficacy of a kiss to stop a man talking himself to death and to focus his mind on the essentials. For the next few minutes… years… centuries… Ned and I indulged in deep, increasingly urgent kisses, hands exploring bodies that were familiar now but which always needed to be mapped out anew. Just so I could be sure, you understand, that nothing had changed. Some kisses were so deep, I would swear Ned was using his tongue to check out my lungs from the inside—an exercise that left me breathless. His hands slid inside my shirt, hot and possessive. No doubt Ned too was reacquainting himself with familiar territory.
“Do love me tonight, Rafe. Dear Rafe.”
Well, I didn’t need to be asked twice.
Anna was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service.
These days, though, she is writing full time. She recently moved out of the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London to the rather slower environs of a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside, where she lives with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo.