TWV #1: IRON HEART

Title: IRON HEART
Genre: Steampunk romance
Word Count: 95,000

Query:

Marriage was never on Lady Neva Fairfax’s list of priorities – even had there been a man in London willing to marry such a bookish oddity.

That changes when her uncle decides that either Neva or her sister will marry the Governor of Nan-qing, the distant Chinese colony. Knowing it would kill her sister to leave her love and her laboratory, Neva reluctantly volunteers. At least the aeroship trip will provide plenty of time to work on her studies.

When the aeroship is shot down in the Egyptian desert, Neva quickly discovers that her escort Will is a spy who can change his very face, her servant Qin is a martial arts expert who can kill men with her bare hands, and the three of them are the only thing that can prevent a mysterious enemy from unleashing the lost Iron Army on an unsuspecting world.

For his part, British spymaster Will Hawke is certain Neva is in league with the Nan-qing Governor to betray England. He’s determined to uncover her plan, even though their mutual attraction is proving to be quite the distraction.

The only way they can win is by trusting each other – but with so many secrets in the air, it doesn’t seem like trust, or saving the world, will be possible.

First 250:

When the sharp knock rattled her bedroom door, Lady Minerva Fairfax had just enough time to drop her skirts over her mud-caked petticoats and paste an innocent look on her face.

As it slowly opened, the door revealed no need for subterfuge. Outside stood the mechanical Susan, brass limbs gleaming under a crisp white cap and black dress. Its metal face was impassive, as any good servant should be. Burnished hands held a small silver tray with two notes on creamy white folded paper. Neva picked up the one inscribed with her name and read the sharp slanted script. Mr. Louther asks that if Lady Fairfax is not occupied would she please attend him in the study.

Neva frowned as she carefully initialed the card and placed it back on the tray. Her uncle was usually not so formal about demanding her presence for one of his regular and tedious comparisons to other, more feminine women; she doubted the summons was one that boded well. She flicked the switch that would send the Susan away and watched it plod towards her sister's room. The new steam-powered marionettes were much quicker, but Uncle refused to part with his old-fashioned wind-ups, insisting on their superior gentility. What his measure of that trait was, Neva did not know, nor did she bother to ask.

Her uncle was a slave to time and for Neva to be late would be thought most unseemly. Still – it was better to be safe. She glanced around the room and hid away her hand shovel and field notes, then slid on a pair of gloves to cover her unfashionably tanned and unacceptably calloused hands.