Wednesday, April 03, 2013


I hope y'all don't see this as unmercifully teasing, since I know the book is still eleven months away from release, but I thought you might like a peek at the first chapter of Why Kings Confess, book number nine in the Sebastian St. Cyr series.

Chapter 1

St. Katharine’s, East London
Thursday, 21 January 1813

Paul Gibson lurched down the dark, narrow lane, his face raw from the cold, his fingers numb. There were times when he wandered these alleyways lost in brightly-hued reveries of opium-induced euphoria. But not tonight. Tonight, Gibson clenched his jaw and tried to focus on the tap-tap of his wooden leg on the icy cobbles, the reedy wail of a babe carried on the night wind—anything that might distract his mind from the restless, hungering need that drenched his thin frame with sweat and tormented him with ghosts of what could be.

When he first noticed the woman, he thought her an apparition, a mirage of gray wool and velvet lying crumpled beside the entrance to a fetid passageway. But as he drew nearer, he saw pale flesh and the gleaming dark wetness of blood, and knew she was only too real.

He drew up sharply, the dank, briny air of the nearby Thames rasping in his throat. Cat’s Hole, they called this narrow lane, a refuge for thieves, prostitutes and all the desperate, dispossessed of England and beyond. He could feel his heart pounding; the stars glittered like shards of broken glass in the thin slice of cold black sky visible between the looming rooftops above. He hesitated perhaps longer than he should have. But he was a surgeon, his life dedicated to the care of others.

He pushed himself forward again.

She lay curled half on her side, one hand flung out palm up, eyes closed. He hunkered down awkwardly beside her, fingertips searching for a pulse in her slim neck. Her face was delicately boned and framed by a riot of long, flame-red hair, her lashes dark and thick against the pale flesh of her smooth cheeks, her lips purple-blue with cold. Or death.

But at his touch, her eyelids fluttered open, her chest jerking on a sob and a broken, whispered prayer. “Sainte Marie, Mère de Dieu, Priez pour nous pauvres pécheurs…”

“It’s all right; I’m here to help you,” he said gently, wondering if she could even understand him. ”Where are you hurt?”

The entire side of her head, he now saw, was matted with blood. Wide-eyed and frightened, she fastened her gaze on him. Then her focus slid away to where the black mouth of the passage yawned beside them. “Damion…” Her hand jerked up to clutch his sleeve. “Is he all right?”

Gibson followed her gaze. The man’s body was more difficult to discern, a dark, motionless mass deep in the shadows. Gibson shook his head. “I don’t know.”

Her grip on his arm twisted convulsively. “Go to him. Please.”

Nodding, Gibson surged upright, staggering slightly as his wooden peg took his weight and the phantom pains of a long-gone limb ripped through him.

The passage reeked of rot and excrement and the familiar coppery stench of spilled blood. The man lay sprawled on his back beside a pile of broken hogsheads and crates. It was with difficulty that Gibson picked out the once snowy-white folds of a cravat, the silken sheen of what had been a fine waistcoat but was now a blood-soaked mess, horribly ripped.

“Tell me,” said the woman. “Tell me he lives.”

But Gibson could only stare at the body before him. The man’s eyes were wide and sightless, his handsome young face pallid, his outflung arms stiffening in the cold. Someone had hacked open the corpse’s chest with a ruthless savagery that spoke of rage tinged with madness. And where the heart should have been gaped only an open cavity.

Bloody and empty.


Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh! What a great entry. This is the 2nd time you've started a book with Gibson. Love it!!!! It is a bit of a tease. Maybe they'll release it early. A girl can dream, can't she? It is splendid. Any other dribs and drabs you can throw us along the way are always welcome. Thanks!! Sabena

Anonymous said...

Oh and I just noticed the date - in January. That means Hero is really due any day now, in our make-believe world. How exciting!!!! Sabena

Rebecca C. said...

This IS teasing, but it's great! I can't wait to read it, already having read the most recent as soon as it came out.

I really enjoy the characters and plots of these books. I find them to be authentic and unpredictable (in a good way), unlike many historical mysteries I read with one-dimensional and obvious characters. Also, the series has introduced me to a new time period in England, which has been a lot of fun.

I can't wait to know what happens next, but I am going to have to...

Anonymous said...

oh wow. the date really got me too. 3 months is a big leap in time for these guys. and of course i cant wait for more. thanks for the early peak. is there a baby pool by any chance?

cs harris said...

Sabena, at least I'm not mean enough to post the first chapter of book #10! And yes, I thought everyone would be relieved to see the late January date.

Rebecca, thank you. I suspect NAL will soon be coming up with cover copy I'll be able to post, which should tell more.

Ali, for sex, name, or eye color?

paz said...

Wowza! What a punch these first couple of pages pack. Darkness was supposed to be the one with the occult storyline, but doesn't get much more occult than heart stealing. Unless it is the Beatles and the movie is "Help."

Ok, so just as with my own pregnancies, I had totally lost track of Hero's delivery timeline. THAT'S going to be the mayor tease, waiting one more year to see the baby...

Ali, what a great idea! A "baby pool" could be great fun, as long as we don't get too invested into "teams." Silly thing, the whole "team this" or "team that" meme.

Anonymous said...


This is a major tease!

I haven't written in a while and I don't usually sign my name, but thank you so much for this alternative world you have created for us. :-) Can't wait for the baby. I actually think the big surprise will be that the baby will have blue St. Cyr eyes.


cs harris said...

Paz, I can't believe you lost track of your own pregnancy timeline! I was so ready for it all to be over. Poor Hero has been pregnant for years.

L-Mae, thank YOU, for enjoying what I do. It really does mean so much to me.

Beth F said...

First, I just want to say that I LOVED What Darkness Brings! Second, this teaser! I hope this means that we will see a little more Gibson because I love him and his friendship with Sebastian. And of course I'm anxiously waiting for Hero to have her baby, because I love her too. I am counting down the days until this is released!

Charles Gramlich said...

Your descriptions are so rich. Now "that's" how description should be written to serve the story.

Courtney said...

You're the best! Can't wait! This makes me want to go back and re-read the entire series in anticipation of this installment.

Anonymous said...

C- so yes, i would say sex, name and eye color. and of course no one has submit anything for awhile - chance to meditate on your answers. i may need to do some re-reading of books before i come up with my response. very important decisions.;)

Barbara Butler McCoy said...

Thank you so much for this lovely 'amuse bouche' ... just whets the appetite in such a delicious way. I confess, though, that while reading 'Darkness' I felt sure you were leading up to an Annie W. - Paul Gibson pairing. Thanks again.

paz said...

I think that Hero has been having an elephant pregnancy, 20 to 30 months...

I lost track more than once of how old I am, so that I have been 29 and 38 twice (I always think I am older...). With the pregnancy, at first I kept thinking I was much further along, and from then on forward always second guessed myself on how many weeks I was. Clearly, an unplanned event and all.

cs harris said...

Beth, yes, Gibson plays a very large role in this book.

Charles, thank you.

Courtney, thank you!

Barbara, to be honest, that never even occurred to me! But this French lady with the bashed head...

Paz, I have to admit I've forgotten how old I am several times. Usually I think I'm older than I am, so it's always a pleasant surprise to realize I'm wrong. I blame my dad; from the day after our birthday, he always said, "You're almost xxx, and you did that?"

Linhie said...

*SIGH* You are such a tease Candy...

I absolutely love the opening chapter and am glad to see Gibson holding a more prominent role. I adore him and his relationship with Sebastian!

The late January date is another GREAT tease!

Here's to hoping we get to see baby St. Cyr. If Hero could will her child's gender; it'll surely be a bouncing baby boy, but like Sebastion, I am personally hoping for a girl, "a daughter every bit as brilliant and strong and fiercely loyal to her sire as her mother."

From the start, I've held out hopes that the baby would inherit Sebastian's yellow eyes, but I can actually see him/her inheriting Jarvis' eyes. Imagine that!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
cs harris said...

Linhie, yes, when I was writing this book I realized that Gibson would have made a great protagonist for a mystery series, if only I hadn't already fallen in love with Sebastian.

vp said...

How about a ebook novella featuring Gibson? I, and I suspect many others, would love that.

Thanks for the preview, I am so psyched for this next book. I haven't really let myself think of a child yet, I've really enjoyed Sebastian and Hero developing as a couple.

RevMelinda said...

What a wonderful teaser, Candy. Thank you! I admit to a secret crush on Gibson, and I have always loved the atmospherics that surround the scenes in his rooms. I'd love to get a little deeper into his head and his life.

As for baby eyes, in my experience most babies are born with cloudy blue-grey that then turns slowly and eventually into a real color--my own daughters both started out blue-grey, then turned hazel (older daughter) and green (younger daughter)--something I never expected since mine are brown and my husband's blue.

What about a pool on whether baby has the Jarvis nose? . . .

I am so looking forward to When Kings Confess!


RevMelinda said...

I see I got my interrogative pronoun wrong--that should read, "I am so looking forward to 'Why Kings Confess.'" :-)

cs harris said...

vp, I've actually been thinking about that. I've read about half a dozen collections in the last couple of weeks while pondering the idea, and found even those by huge bestselling authors very dissatisfying. So I suspect they just don't appeal to me--although I'm still pondering!

RevMelinda, you will enjoy this one, then, because Gibson plays a huge role. And yes, you're right about the eyes; one of my daughters was born with dark brown eyes, but the other was born with blue eyes that turned dark brown. As for the nose, that WILL take a long time! The daughters born with blue eyes has an aquiline nose, from her father, and it didn't show up until she was well into her teens.

LOgalinOR said...

Thanks for the early teaser and the late January timeline. How exciting that 'baby St. Cyr' will soon be here. Although, I'm probably one of the few readers to admit I would have enjoyed seeing the interplay of Sebastian and Hero in her last trimester. We can (safely?) assume that the pregnancy is coming along fine and Hero and baby are healthy. Sebastian did tell his Aunt Henrietta that "I doubt she's ever been sick in her life" in WDB. Also, by this time, all of London Society knows that Viscount Devlin and his wife are expecting the arrival of their first child.....sigh.

Cez said...

on tenterhooks know till the release
just totally love this series you do such a fabulous alternate universe.
And baby anytime soon hmm HERO 7 Sebastian could always have TWINS lol

cs harris said...

LOgalinOR, I don't think you can safely assume anything....

Cez, thank you!

Judi Fischer said...

I love the character of Gibson almost as much as I love Sebastian and Hero. How about fraternal twins, one with blue St. Cyr eyes and one with yellow eyes? One a boy and one a girl, that might make everyone happy. I hope the baby arrives in the next book. I hate the wait and I am interested in seeing how Sebastian and Hero's lives change.

Anonymous said...

OK, Candy, you need to stop doing this to us. We can't "safely assume" anything? Not nice at all!!!! If you are going to be that dastardly, I have to insist you start releasing the books faster, to help alleviate our consternation at comments like that. I agree with Ali and Paz; you must start a baby pool but definately no "teams". Sabena

cs harris said...

Judi, if you like Gibson, you're really going to enjoy this next book.

Sabena, how could I resist?

Anonymous said...

Love you books...can't wait for the next one. Now you got me stressed about Hero's pregnancy. Not nice :)

Rebecca said...

We may not need to stress about Hero's pregnancy. After all, if it is twins she is probably big and just wants to rest.... Can you imagine Hero resting?
Anyway this is a great series. I Love it. The teasers are something to keep us going.

cs harris said...

Anon, sorry!

Rebecca, thank you!

Stephanie Loughry said...

OH SO EXCITED!!! i almost died when i thought when maidens mourn was the last one..these books are amazing..such great story telling and i love the era! im so glad you are still going with them!!! so many stories to tell!!!
What darkness brings was so enthralling!! finished it in two days!! thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

I love these books. I finished them all in succession, never taking more than 2 or 3 days and missing a lot of sleep! So glad there are more to come! And thankful for the preview. Can't wait!!!!
Franki, a new fan

rita derbas said...

Thank you for the teaser. Thoroughly enjoyed every word. You know how to pull me into that world and make my teeth chatter with fear at the same time. To kill time waiting to satisfy my addiction to the series, I plan to re-read all. All the best, Rita

Susan said...

Thanks (maybe) for keeping me up late at night reading this series:) Can't wait for the next one. No pressure (really)!

Baby thoughts: girl.
Name: Jane (in honor of an author who was becoming popular around the time that Sebastian and Hero's baby is born).

flmom1957 said...

Just finished "Darkness"! I think this was my favorite so far. Thanks for the teaser for the next book. Now I am wondering how far in advance can I reserve a book at my local library!

Lidia said...

Love this series and I love Hero's and Sebastian's relationship. So far I have my mom, my sister and a friend hooked on your books also. I do have a question. Any chance we could get a map of where all the places are?Where is Sebastian's house in comparison to Hendon's or Gibson's? Tower Hill, Brook Street, Bow Street, Charing Cross, Carlton House, etc. I try so hard to imagine where everything is but I really have no idea. A movie would be amazing also!

Judith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Judith said...

I agree with Lidia, a map would be fabulous. Can't wait for this new book. I have them all in hard back just 'cause I love them so much. Darkness was such a great read, loved all the intrigue with the Hope diamond and of course Sebastian and Hero's love story. It seems a very long time until this next one comes out. Will we finally get to meet the baby?

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