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MURDER AT MADAME CHAMBON'S (EBOOK)

MURDER AT MADAME CHAMBON'S (EBOOK)

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FAIR CYPRIANS OF LONDON BOOK 7. EBOOK.

Amidst the glittering ballrooms of London, Miss Evelina Tarot dreams of a dazzling future, unaware that her own bloodline holds the key to a scandalous past that could destroy everything she desires.

Unaware of her secret connection to the city's most notorious brothel, Madame Chambon's, Evelina's hopes for a brilliant marriage are shattered when her grasping fiance is found dead within its walls.

As a shadowy killer stalks her through the city's opulent parlors and dark alleys, Evelina's only ally is the enigmatic Lord Bellingham, a man with secrets of his own. Desperate to protect the woman he loves from the scandal that could ruin her, Bellingham is determined to solve the mystery of her fiance's murder before it's too late.

But even as they navigate a treacherous web of lies and deception, neither realizes that the greatest danger lies not in Evelina's past, but in a far more sinister threat lurking in the present.

With each passing moment, the killer draws nearer, driven by a dark obsession that will not be satisfied until Evelina is silenced forever.

Can Bellingham unravel the twisted secrets of Madame Chambon's in time to save the woman he loves? Or will Evelina's secrets be her undoing, destroying not only her chance at happiness but the very foundation of her life?

From the glittering ballrooms of the ton to the scandalous secrets of London's most infamous brothel, "Murder at Madame Chambon's" is a breathtaking tale of romance, danger, and mystery that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

'Murder at Madame Chambon's' is a thrilling, star-crossed-lovers Victorian murder mystery which follows 'Loving Lily', Book 6 in the Fair Cyprians of London series.

Released: January 21, 2024

FAQS: HOW WILL I GET MY EBOOK?

Ebooks are delivered instantly by link in your confirmation email (and as a backup, also by email from our delivery partner, Bookfunnel).

FAQS: HOW WILL I READ MY EBOOK?

You can read the ebooks on any ereader (Amazon, Kobo, Nook), your tablet, phone, computer, and/or in the free Bookfunnel app.

READ A SAMPLE

PROLOGUE

Evelina glanced out of the train window at the dusky haze of the fading afternoon and tried to temper her excitement. The rhythmic clatter of wheels had put her maid, Mimi, to sleep, but Evelina was hurtling towards her future—at last!—with lightning speed.
Not only was she finally leaving France to return to the land of her birth, but she had all the backing needed by a young woman determined to make the most glittering marriage of the season and to secure the future she chose for herself.
“One scarlet and blue polonaise with blue velvet swathes and bows for Lady Gilray’s ball, and the brown and green checked walking dress for the first promenade in Hyde Park…”
Mimi and she had spent hours deciding which of her vast couture wardrobe she’d wear for the events for which Lady Perry had secured an invitation for Evelina.
There’d be more to come, Evelina’s mama had written, once word had spread of Evelina’s beauty and accomplishments.
Not to mention, her dowry.
Then she’d wear the rose-pink princess-line polonaise with fan-shaped train to Lady Marchant’s soiree…
She had hoped to have a ball or soiree lined up for every night of the week. At nearly twenty-one and with her beauty at its peak, Evelina didn’t want to wait too long to find a suitable husband. In fact, she was determined to do so during her first London season. A brilliant match was what she wanted, though a good one would do if it happened sooner rather than later. She wasn’t looking to fall in love. The nuns at the convent had made clear that was only in fairytales.
She rather thought she’d make a good political hostess in view of the education the nuns had given her, followed by her finishing school in Switzerland, complicated by her illness, which had held her back nearly two years.
But now she was in the best of health and her enthusiasm for becoming mistress of a large, impressive landholding, or similar as befitted her value, was at its zenith.
Then, for the Duchess of Kintyre’s weekend house party, she’d have to take two trunks to fit—
Evelina was just doing a mental inventory of what to pack for the penultimate event of the season four weeks hence, when a bone-rattling jolt thrust her book out of her hands and sent her maid sprawling to the compartment floor.
“Mon Dieu! What’s happening?” Evelina shielded her face as metal shrieked, the luggage from overhead tumbled to the floor, and passengers screamed in the surrounding compartments.
“Mimi! Mimi! Are you alright?”
A shuddering jolt propelled Evelina against the window with force, her head hitting the glass and her vision blurring.
She was vaguely aware of the commotion around her, but the urgency had dimmed, and suddenly everything seemed muted and very far away. She thought she could see Mimi bobbing about in the corner, and closed her eyes, for she didn’t like the way her elegant French lady’s maid looked right now, and—
“Miss! Madam!” The voice that jerked her into consciousness made her aware of the cold water seeping through her clothing and Evelina opened her eyes to a scene of horror, overlaid by the insistent calling of a male voice whom it took her a moment to locate.
A handsome young face loomed above her.
This seemed very odd, for she was in a train carriage on her way from Dover to London and no-one was supposed to be on the roof.
But then she realized the carriage in which she and Mimi had been traveling from the docks was on its side, the plush seats torn from the wood paneling, and water was now rising from the broken window at her feet.
“Please, miss! Quickly! Take my hand! There’s not much time.”
Evelina struggled to sit up, her sodden skirts heavy and confining about her ankles as she tried to regain her balance.
She realized that the face above her belonged to a young man who was crouched by the open door of the compartment which was on its side. He’d extended his arm and, judging by the look on his face and the urgency in his voice, matters were serious, and time was critical.
She managed to stand and to reach up, her hand curling around strong fingers before another violent lurch broke her grip.
With a scream, Evelina fell back against the window beneath her, and the young man’s face grew distant.
“Take my wrist. I’ve got you!”
He hadn’t, but his words were the reassurance she needed before she remembered her companion.
“Mimi?” She swung round, screaming again as she saw that the older woman’s head was at an odd angle and her eyes were open and sightless.
 “You can’t do anything for her! Take my hand. We’re running out of time!”
His urgency galvanized Evelina into action, but she had to jump to bridge the growing distance between the hand he held out as he now lay flat upon the upturned compartment which Evelina realized had slid down the embankment and into the river below.
And which was sinking fast.
He was strong. Strong enough to haul her entire body weight the distance needed before he had sufficient purchase to reach out his other hand and drag her through the broken window.
With a mighty heave, he pulled her free from the wreckage just as the carriage, burdened by its own weight and the pull of the river, slid into the water with a deafening splash.
Breathing heavily, Evelina collapsed against a pair of supporting arms and listened to the cries and screams of passengers amidst the turmoil and confusion.
But she was safe.
The thickness of her skirts and bodice had shielded her from the worst of potential injuries, though she saw her left hand was bloodied. Or perhaps it was a head wound, she wondered, as she withdrew her hand from wiping the hair from her eyes.
“Monsieur?” She cast around for her rescuer, her panic, at discovering she was alone again, increasing as she registered the carnage.
Not that she could see much until a gust of wind cleared the smoke sufficiently for her to realize that hers was one of two carriages that had derailed and slipped into the river, while the front few carriages remained on the track at the top of the embankment.
 She was alone again, but alive, and all she needed to do was to negotiate the muddy climb to the top.
If she had the energy.
Evelina sank down upon the metal side of their compartment which separated her from Mimi. She wouldn’t leave her friend, for Mimi had been with her since she’d gone to Switzerland. The young man would have to come back so he could get the older woman out when he’d finished saving other lives.
Her dazed thoughts were running in discombobulated loops before she was roused by the insistent screams of a woman some yards away, she saw, as the smoke once again cleared.
“William! My son William is still inside!”
Evelina sat up sharply. Then, scrunching up her skirts so she could move, she struggled through the mangled metal and mud towards the woman who was kneeling on the upturned carriage, dangling her arm through the gaping window.
“He’s too small to reach! Help me! The water’s rising!”
Evelina stared helplessly into the void. She couldn’t see the child, but she could hear his frightened whimpers. The woman’s cries grew louder in relation to Evelina’s desperation.
“Please, sir! Help me!”
Evelina saw she’d thrust out her arm to grip a checked trouser leg, and she looked up into the face of the young man who had dragged her to safety a few minutes earlier. There was a cut above his eye and a smear of mud on his cheek, but nothing else marred his obvious good looks.
Unless it was the bleakness in his eye which was directed now towards the sound of the young boy in the far depths of the carriage. Even Evelina could see it was hopeless for him to help, for the distance was too great for his seeking arm to help a small child.
Unless—
“Hold me while I reach for him! You’re strong enough!” Evelina burst out, unbuttoning her tight-fitting bodice, and unclasping her skirt as she spoke , closing the distance between them. The thick heavy swathes of embellishment slithered over the bustle cage which she untied with trembling fingers and tossed aside, unembarrassed as she wriggled into a sitting position with the help of the young man who hauled her into position. The glass of the window had completely fallen away, so at least no jagged edges impeded her rescue attempt.
Only the strength and willingness of the young man, but he was already gripping her wrist while she gripped his as he carefully lowered her into the compartment.
The claustrophobic darkness hit Evelina with force and momentarily dashed her bravado as she dangled helplessly into the void, completely dependent upon the strength of her rescuer. “William?” she called.
But when small fingers almost instantly tickled her palm, relief and purpose galvanized her courage once more. “William, take my hand and don’t struggle!” she said, shouting back up to the light, “I’ve got him! Bring me up now!”
The little boy’s eyes were wide with terror as he was drawn into the afternoon haze, before his mother threw herself upon him and Evelina fell back, her strength and courage drained.
“My name’s William, too.”
She blinked open her eyes as her handsome rescuer supported her into a sitting position, his warm, open smile revealing strong while teeth, his dark blue eyes seeming to connect to something deep inside her, causing a flowering sensation to bloom in her heart.
Then he was straightening at a distant cry for help, while a billow of smoke obscured him from view.
When Evelina tried to find him again so she could thank him properly, he’d gone.
“Miss! Are you all right?” Another team of rescuers, obviously from the nearby town, swarmed over the wreckage and Evelina was soon covered in a blanket before they carried her towards a line-up of carriages parked at the top of the embankment.
She twisted her head, searching for the young man—the older of the two Williams. But now the muddy slope and mangled carriages were overrun by strangers.
“Miss, let me tend to that nasty cut upon your forehead.” They were motherly words and the soft hands of a woman who’d come to help were soothing. “Poor child, is someone looking for you? Let me clean you up so your loved ones can recognize you. Your poor mama, for a start, wouldn’t begin to know who you were.”
She was a farmer’s wife by the look of her, and she’d seated herself next to Evelina in one of the carriages, cleaning Evelina’s face as she spoke.
Evelina didn’t answer. Her mama wouldn’t know her, either way, for she’d not seen Evelina since her daughter was fourteen years old.
As for any other loved ones, that was why she’d come to London.
If not to love, then to establish a life.
The life she’d grown up believing was her due.
The one in which she finally would be mistress of her own destiny and no longer beholden to the mother who had farmed her off to the nuns when she was six because she’d said Evelina’s wild and stubborn ways was the reason her papa had removed himself from the family home.

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