It's sample Sunday again! This time, I'm giving you a small taste from my Regency romantic mystery, The Bricklayer's Helper.
What would you do if you were a young girl, orphaned during the early years of the 19th century? Without a family and references, there were pitifully few jobs for women, leaving them to face desperate lives of thievery or prostitution.
The Bricklayer’s Helper.
Her story was based on the actual life of Catherine Wilson, who was orphaned at fourteen and bravely refused to accept the social restrictions of her day. She donned her deceased brother’s clothes to find work under the name of John Thomson.
An orphan like Catherine, Sarah finds herself alone when a suspicious fire burns down her home with her family trapped inside. All she can remember about the horrific event is the warning to “run and hide.” Fighting to stay alive, Sarah cuts her hair, dons the garb of a young boy and obtains a job as a bricklayer’s helper. This disguise allows her to remain safe for nearly thirteen years.
Unfortunately, work takes her to London and a man from her past recognizes her. He arranges a meeting with her, only to be murdered before they can speak. Desperate that she may be vulnerable, Sarah hires an inquiry agent from the Second Sons Inquiry Agency.
However, Sarah is not too sure about the inquiry agent she's assigned. William Trenchard may be competant to fumble his way beneath a lady’s skirt, but can he discover who murdered her family? Despite her doubts, Sarah hires him, hoping to survive long enough to uncover the killer.
Unfortunately, their decisions may prove to be dangerous to their hearts…if not downright fatal.
Book: The Bricklayer’s Helper
In the scene below, Sarah, in her guise as Sam Sanderson, has gone to meet a man from her past, unsure what secrets he will reveal about the fire that destroyed her family.
Excerpt from The Bricklayer’s Helper
She glanced around, trying to listen over the pounding of her heart. No one shouted. No one except the major showed any interest in her—other than sheer annoyance when she impeded the smooth flow of foot traffic.
Major Pickering raised his hand, his eyes intent on her face. She took a slow step forward. Then without warning, he stumbled. His hand fell to his side. His gaze wavered. A look of confusion passed over his thin face. Glancing down, he pressed a hand to his side. And as he brought his palm up in front of his face, his legs buckled beneath him. He fell sharply to his knees, and with a shudder, he raised his head. His gaze once more met Sam’s as his mouth worked soundlessly.
A sense of urgency sent her running forward, hand outstretched. Alarmed by the pallor of his face, she tried to reach him to hear the words he uselessly mouthed. Then, although she couldn’t be sure with the jostling men between them, he shook his head slightly in warning. A spasm twisted his features.
Sam stopped and watched in agonized horror as he slowly crumpled, face down, onto the pavement.
A passerby dressed in black bent over him. His quick hands patted the major’s back and sides.
Several men trying to pass turned and exclaimed in surprise.
“What’s wrong?” one said, his voice carrying above the crowd.
“No—murder!” another man yelled. “Fetch the constable! This man’s been stabbed!”
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt!