Please welcome Laurel Wanrow with Volume of 1 her steampunk fantasy romance series, The Luminated Threads…
by Laurel Wanrow
In 1868 England, the competition to control agriculture is fierce…
…and nobody says no to Derby’s industrial magnate.
Except Annmar Masterson. The nineteen-year-old rejects his improper advances and instead takes an advertising position on a farm. She discovers the isolated valley is home to gifted species—including animal and plant shifters—who hide their lives from the rest of England. The blue threads only she sees on their clockwork machinery prove her heritage is rooted with theirs, but their world is so different that Annmar doesn’t know if she’ll ever belong.
Shapeshifter Daeryn Darkcoat blames himself for the death of his mate and swears he won’t be responsible for another pack. But when the farm he loves falls victim to an endless run of strange pests eating the crops, he joins the hunt, taking charge of an unruly team of predator shifters. In the midst of the battle, Annmar stirs feelings he can’t resist.
As Annmar becomes entangled in the fight against the pests, and with Daeryn, she discovers her magic might help…if she can learn to use it properly. If not, she’ll be forced to leave the people she has come to care for and become what she fears most: nothing more than another cog in the magnate’s gears.
Available in ebook & print from: Amazon
THE UNRAVELING is a full-length novel, approximately 350 pages, for readers 18+ (new adult and older). Please note: This is volume 1 of a three-part serialized novel. Volume 2 will be published in fall of 2015 and Volume 3 winter of 2016 to complete THE LUMINATED THREADS, a steampunk fantasy romance. To be notified of these releases, sign up for Laurel’s Newsletter.
Annmar and her new employer had just agreed on the size of the advertising label when the door opened again, and in walked the fascinating young man, wiping his palms down heavy brown trousers held by worn leather braces.
He was big. Much bigger than she’d realized from across the platform, he had the firm muscle of a broad, well-defined body. His rolled sleeves revealed fine, dark hair that covered the lovely brown arms he loosely swung. He planted his feet before them.
“This is the artist from the city?” His deep voice nearly purred.
“Yes.” Mistress Gere crossed her arms, but couldn’t keep a smile from curling her lips. “I should have known you’d be in here as fast as you could manage, my boy. Annmar, may I introduce Daeryn Darkcoat, perhaps the most gregarious individual among our farm family. Daeryn, Annmar Masterson, who, as you noted, is a city girl and not at all used to our casual country ways. You will keep to the borders of her territory until she gives you permission to enter.” The tall woman fixed him with an eye-to-eye look.
Annmar blinked at the bizarre introduction, so forthright, and made while he lacked a jacket, or even a waistcoat…never would such an impropriety occur in Derby. Yet she’d been warned and had promised to pardon their atypical customs.
Daeryn, which Mistress Gere pronounced day-rin, seemed to take it in stride. He nodded, a single dip of his chin. “Yes’m.”
He didn’t pause between that acknowledgment and extending his hand. His gaze searched hers curiously, and he smiled, not the grin of before, but almost shyly.
Her stomach flipped. Sweet wasn’t how anyone would normally describe a young male who had so clearly crossed into manhood, but that was her exact thought. She wiped her clammy palm discreetly in her skirt folds before shaking his hand.
“Pleased to meet you,” he said. “Are you finding the Basin to your liking?” His rough-skinned hand clasped hers in neither a strong nor a weak manner, but one that conveyed gentleness for its size.
His warmth felt nice, and her head muddled a bit. “I, uh, I’m happy to have arrived, to be here. Yes. It’s all been…fine,” her mouth murmured.
Then, too quickly, he released her. Somehow, Mistress Gere took over the conversation, discussing an animal problem in the fields and listing several possibilities she wanted Daeryn to look into. His brows came together over narrowed eyes, changing his face into a calculating contemplation that had Annmar glad she wasn’t the source of the problem.
“We’ll delay dinner,” Mistress Gere said. “After I show Annmar to her room, I’ll speak with your team and the growers.” She shook her head, and when she spoke again, her tone was solemn. “The damage isn’t significant at this point, but the rate at which it’s increased bothers me. If the losses continue to rise, the squash harvest will suffer like the tomatoes, and I’m afraid what we’ve seen so far with the turnips means the onions will follow the same track. The last we can’t afford to lose.”
Daeryn patted her arm and, to Annmar’s surprise, gave the older woman a quick hug. “The creatures can’t avoid us long, don’t you worry. We’ll wait in the yard.” He nodded to Annmar. “Be seeing you.” He strode out of the kitchen, leaving the doors to swish closed.
Mistress Gere turned her gaze back to Annmar. “That boy heads my nocturnal guards. I trust him with my property and my life. Having just met you, I hesitate to say this but feel I must. Some of the farm members can be overly friendly, but everyone will be respectful of your person and your territory…er, social needs.”
Social needs better explained what her employer probably meant when warning off Daeryn. He had to be from one of the Basin’s cultural pockets with different customs. Telling him to keep to the borders of her territory must be a country way of describing propriety. Good. Mistress Gere set out the rules more clearly than Mrs. Rennet could have in town.
“I’ll make the rest of the introductions at dinner,” Mistress Gere said. “Please come to me with any questions. Or if you prefer to talk to someone closer to your own age, may I suggest Mary Clare? She has an excellent grasp of the subtle differences in individuals and how to set them straight.”
Annmar did not want to admit that she might just do that.
Before kids, she studied and worked as a naturalist—someone who leads wildflower and other nature walks. During a stint of homeschooling, she turned her writing skills to fiction to share her love of the land, magical characters and fantastical settings.
When not living in her fantasy worlds, Laurel camps, hunts fossils and argues with her husband and two new adult kids over whose turn it is to clean house. Though they live on the East Coast, a cherished family cabin in the Colorado Rockies holds Laurel’s heart.