Under Her Brass Corset

Since the loss of her father, Abigail Thatch's life has been in turmoil. Her social status is in shambles, her finances depleted, and she's on the verge of losing her beloved home. But everything changes when she meets the dashing flying machine captain Jasper Blackthorn. Not only does he introduce her to a world she thought only existed in myth and legend, he awakens sensual feelings deep within her...

Jasper may be immortal, but he hasn't truly lived in years. Having secretly watched over Abigail as a favor to her notorious grandfather, he can't resist arranging a "chance" meeting with the beauty. But he has an ulterior motive: to retrieve the mystical Crystal Compass hidden in her house before it falls into the wrong hands. He never imagines he'll be tempted to love again...

When Abigail learns the truth, she and Jasper embark on a journey that will change both of their lives—and possibly the world...


Abigail Thatch hurried down the dim alley connecting Baker Lane to her street. Behind her in the dark, the tap of light footsteps gave her reason to pause. She dismissed the ominous sound and continued on her path, although, deep inside, she remained wary of the follower. All her life, she had felt watched, and ever since her father's brutal death two weeks prior, she sensed the eerie presence had grown more vigilant. She often fantasized of seeing the spirit of her mother, whom she missed more than anyone could know. Her father had always told her that the dead never go away. Nevertheless, she refused to believe a ghost wore shoes.

Night had come upon her too soon. The threatening rain clouds had dimmed the moonlight. She preferred a brighter sky where more than a few stars dotted the heavenly canvas.

Concerned by her reckless lack of timing, she lifted her father's watch fob from the pocket of her waistcoat. She held the solid gold timepiece up and stared blindly at it. Unable to see the hour the black hands marked, she closed her hand over it.

"Not enough light," she grumbled. Turning over the treasured watch, she rubbed her thumb over the worn engraving. As she wore gloves, she couldn't feel the imprint, but she well remembered her mother's testament of love. In her mind's eye she clearly saw the wording--My darling William, you will forever have my heart.

While she hoped to find such a love one day, a nagging doubt lingered. Could there be anybody as gentle, kind and adoring as her father had been with her mother? Was there someone open-minded enough not to disapprove of her having her own thoughts? It seemed impossible, especially after her last failed relationship. No one could be that perfect--able to unconditionally accept her--and she vowed never to compromise again for the sake of not being alone.

A light scuffing, low and rhythmic, coming from behind made her turn. She peered into the clammy darkness. She sensed someone there, watching, waiting. Nothing moved. She considered marching back and confronting her stalker. Then a gust of steam spurted from a cellar windowwell. It rattled the nerve right out of her. She clutched her chest with the watch firmly gripped in her fist. The flash of a white cat scurrying across her path grabbed her attention. The animal darted into a low alcove in the opposite building's wall, possibly another open cellar window.

Her pause to let out a startled breath gave her the chance to hear the click of something metal coming in contact with the cobblestones. Dropping the watch back into the pocket of her waistcoat, she moved forward.

How stupid. She scolded herself again for leaving work late. She knew the night brought out strange, unsavory people. Some called the under-city dwellers trolls. She knew them for what they were, vagrants and thieves--criminals that preyed on the innocent. They were the sort she needed to avoid running into, she thought, recalling the night when the police came to her house and told her that her father was dead. They had the right term for the murderer--a soulless killer.