Hello, reader friends! I’m Joanna Chambers and this is the blog tour for A Gathering Storm, my new Cornwall-set historical romance. I’ll be sharing thoughts on my experience of writing about eccentric Victorian scientists, pragmatic Romany land stewards and unscrupulous mediums – come and comment to win a copy of the book and a $25 Riptide gift card!
About A Gathering Storm
When grief-stricken scientist Sir Edward Fitzwilliam provokes public scorn by defending a sham spiritualist, he’s forced to retreat to Porthkennack to lick his wounds. Ward’s reputation is in tatters, but he’s determined to continue the work he began after the death of his beloved brother.
In Porthkennack, Ward meets Nicholas Hearn, land steward to the Roscarrock family. Ward becomes convinced that Nick, whose Romany mother was reportedly clairvoyant, is the perfect man to assist with his work. But Nick—who has reason to distrust the whims of wealthy men—is loath to agree. Until Fate steps in to lend a hand.
Despite Nick’s misgivings, he discovers that Ward is not the high-handed aristocrat he first thought. And when passion ignites between them, Nick learns there’s much more to love than the rushed, clandestine encounters he’s used to. Nevertheless, Nick’s sure that wealthy, educated Ward will never see him as an equal.
A storm is gathering, but with Nick’s self-doubts and Ward’s growing obsession, the fragile bond between the two men may not be strong enough to withstand it.
Now available from Riptide Publishing. http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/a-gathering-storm
Welcome to Porthkennack, a charming Cornish seaside town with a long and sometimes sinister history. Legend says King Arthur’s Black Knight built the fort on the headland here, and it’s a certainty that the town was founded on the proceeds of smuggling, piracy on the high seas, and the deliberate wrecking of cargo ships on the rocky shore. Nowadays it draws in the tourists with sunshine and surfing, but locals know that the ghosts of its Gothic past are never far below the surface.
This collaborative story world is brought to you by five award-winning, best-selling British LGBTQ romance authors: Alex Beecroft, Joanna Chambers, Charlie Cochrane, Garrett Leigh, and JL Merrow. Follow Porthkennack and its inhabitants through the centuries and through the full rainbow spectrum with historical and contemporary stand-alone titles.
Check out Porthkennack! http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/universe/porthkennack
About Joanna Chambers
Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. In between studying, finding a proper grown up job, getting married and having kids, she spent many hours staring at blank sheets of paper and chewing pens. That changed when she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna’s muse likes red wine, coffee and won’t let Joanna clean the house or watch television.
Connect with Joanna:
To celebrate the release of A Gathering Storm, one lucky winner will receive a $25 Riptide credit and a copy of A Gathering Storm! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on April 22, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
From The Collected Writings of Sir Edward Fitzwilliam, volume I
On the twenty-fourth day of June, in the year 1852, I was visited by my twin brother’s spirit.
I was a passenger on a steamship, the Archimedes, sailing from Dublin to Anglesey, and it was close to midnight. The captain had told us they expected an electrical storm that night and that we should stay in our cabins, but I was most keen to witness the phenomenon of a great storm at sea, and so I ventured onto the deck despite his warnings.
It was like no other storm I had ever experienced. I could sense the electricity that saturated the atmosphere before a single bolt of lightning struck. Indeed, the very air seemed to hum with it, and the distinctive pungent odour of ozone gas—so named by Professor Schönbein, whose experiments into the electrolysis of water were of particular interest to me at that time—was all around me. When I glanced up at the sky, there was a faint, luminous glow over the brim of my hat, eerie and bluish white, and even though I knew it was produced by electromagnetism, it was no less beautiful or miraculous for that. I stared at that glow for long minutes, even discerning tiny sparks dancing there.
And then the lightning came. Mighty enough to tear the very heavens in two, it seemed, and I cried out in alarm, muttering some half-remembered prayer from my childhood as I clutched at the side of the Archimedes. Again the lightning struck, and again, each bolt seeming to disappear into the black depths of the churning sea. I admit, I was frightened then, and wished I had heeded the captain’s words. But just as I was about to run below deck, a voice spoke to me, a voice as dear to me as my own. My brother, George. My twin.
“Ward,” he said. “Ward. Can you hear me?”
I whirled on the spot, heart pounding, searching the empty deck for him. I called his name, over and over, and cried out, “I can’t see you! Where are you?”
My rational mind supplied a rational answer: George was in Burma. His regiment had recently served at the Siege of Rangoon. He could not possibly be on a steamer to Anglesey with me, and yet I’d heard his voice!
“Everything will be all right, Ward,” George said. “All will be well.”
That was all he said. A moment later, a physical pain wrenched through my body, worse than anything I’d ever felt, even in the worst days of my long childhood sickness. I cannot do justice to that pain in mere words. It was as though one of those great lightning bolts had struck my very heart and sundered it in two. It sent me to my knees. I fell heavily to the wet wooden deck, crying out my brother’s name.
I felt George’s absence—the moment he was gone—much as I’d felt his presence. It was negative to positive, opposite and equal, an emptiness to match and cancel out his sudden, shocking appearance. He was dead. I knew it—felt it—with a terrible finality. And though I called his name, over and over, weeping, I knew he would not return.
I dragged myself to my feet and began to search the deck of the Archimedes, hoping to find some lingering sign of George’s fleeting visit, but it was not until I finally raised my eyes from the deck, beaten, that I saw it. Quivering at the very top of the ship’s mast: a strange and luminous violet-blue light, like a huge flame atop some monstrous candle. Ethereal and otherworldly.
I knew what this was, had read reports of these spirit candles, as the Welsh sailors called them. Or St. Elmo’s fire, as I knew it.
And as I stared, awestruck, I was filled with sudden certainty: that it was all connected somehow. The electric storm, the sea, the ozone, my bond with George. Some or all of these elements had combined to defy the laws of man as I knew them and bring my twin to me in the terrible moment of his death.
It was in that instant that my life’s work was conceived.