If you enjoy romantic fantasy, this one is for you!
A Clockwork Fairytale is the first in a new YA (also suitable for adults) fantasy romance series set in a Victorian style fantasy world, filled with magic and danger.
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“Her lyrical writing and amazing imagination give you characters you’ll remember for a long time, along with stories that take you away into a land of magic that dazzles with danger and romance.” Sandy M–The Good, The Bad and The Unread A+
“Ms. Taylor is a master storyteller,capturing the smallest details of world building and character development.Turk is a character I will not soon forget, and was balanced skillfully with the unrepentant and willful Melba. A fantastic book that will leave me searching the shelves for more from this gifted author.” Virginia–Coffee Time Romance and More
Plucky, seventeen-year-old Melba was raised like a boy to pick pockets and run messages in the poor outer circles of Royal Malverne Isle, but she longs to move up the criminal hierarchy and become a spy. When nineteen-year-old Turk, a spymaster and local folk hero, accepts her pledge to join his gang, she thinks the Great Earth Jinn has heard her prayer. With his exotic, dark southern looks and wealthy lifestyle in the inner circle, Turk fascinates her. Yet he is not what he seems—he is really a monk working undercover for the Shining Brotherhood. The Brotherhood has secret plans for Melba, plans that make her a target of the evil Royal Victualler’s foul magic, plans that challenge Melba and Turk’s beliefs about life and duty, plans that tear them apart, just as they discover what it means to fall in love.
Her rescuer turned to face her and rested a shoulder against the brickwork. “You should be safe now.” He pointed to the right where a sloping wall led off the roof to the back of a shop. “That’s your best way down. Not much of a drop.”
Melba pressed her tongue on the back of her teeth and gathered her courage. “You’re Master Turk.”
“Observant, lad.” He angled his head to examine her. Moonlight glistened on the dark strands of his hair, sculpted his profile with light and shadow. He had dark eyes and golden skin like the foreign sailors up from the south. Her heart gave a strange little bump. She had never met a master so young and handsome. But how would she persuade him to take her on?
“Let me pledge to you. I’m a superior runner and thief. I’ll be a great spy. I see stuff all the time. Pledge me, sir, please.”
“Superior, huh?” He smiled. “What are you, thirteen?”
She nodded vigorously. Although she was seventeen, she was small and skinny and passed for a lad of thirteen easily.
In the roof beside them, a lamp sputtered to life behind a small skylight. Master Turk put his finger to his lips and peered through the window. After scrutinizing the room for a few seconds, he relaxed and leaned back against the chimney.
The light revealed the fine fabric of his jacket, the stitching almost invisible. The five small circles of a tiny silver Earth Blessing gleamed against his dark neck cloth. Black jewels glittered on his ears. He dressed like a nob.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Well, Mel, if you’re such a good runner and thief, won’t your current master miss you?”
Her hand went to the tin disk stamped with Master Maddox’s symbol on a length of twine around her neck. His baker’s shop in the third circle was the only home she’d known. She’d been happy there, but lately things had changed. Since she’d turned sixteen, he’d stopped her bunking with the boys in the warm storeroom behind the bakery oven and made her sleep alone in the loft. And he never let her fill her belly any more, telling her it was best she stay skinny.
“He won’t miss me,” she said, hating the catch in her voice. She couldn’t afford to be soft like a girl or she’d get found out and end up in a whorehouse or as skivvy in a tavern.
“Give me your hand.” Master Turk leaned closer, bringing with him the tang of lemon spice. He even smelled like a nob.
Don’t give anyone your hand unless you’d give them your blade. Maddox’s lesson echoed in her mind. Why did Master Turk want to touch her? She thought about refusing, but then he might turn down her pledge. She inhaled deeply, tasting the lemony scent of him on her tongue, and held out her hand.
His fingers closed around hers, his grip firm and warm. Melba held her breath, risked a glance up at his face, and found him watching her, dark eyes narrowed. A strange shivery feeling washed through her that made her squirm inside her clothes.
He dropped her hand, pressed his lips together, and scrutinized her from head to foot.
With a flare of horror, she thought he’d sensed she was female.
“Mayhap I’ll give you a chance. What will you pledge me?”
On a sigh of relief, she looked down at the three carved wooden toggles on her jacket and slid her fingers behind her favorite. “Carved this meself from a sliver of ironwood I found on the shore.”
He raised his eyebrows and ran a finger over the pattern. “That’ll suffice.”
She grabbed the knife from her boot and sliced off the toggle before dropping it in his outstretched palm. He tucked her pledge inside his jacket and felt in his pocket. “Hold out your hand.”
When she did, he dropped something smooth, black, and oval into her palm. She stared at it aghast. Poor masters gave their boys tin disks, the more prosperous used carved bone or wooden tokens. She’d never seen the likes of this pledge before.
“It’s a starlight stone,” he said in answer to her quizzical expression. “Hold it up to the moonlight.”
She turned the warm weight of the stone over in her hand and then angled it toward the moon. Tiny sparks of light danced across the stone’s surface as silver, purple, and green streaked through its crystalline depths. For a moment, she forgot where she was, entranced by the colors.
“Take another look tomorrow,” he said. “It contains different colors under the sun.”
“Oh.” Melba curled her fingers around the treasure. Nobody had ever given her something this pretty before. A little fizz of excitement went through her. Perhaps he liked her. She glanced up at his darkly handsome face. “Do you give this type of pledge to all your boys?”
She ignored the sting of disappointment and jammed the stone deep in the secret loot pocket in her breeches where it couldn’t fall out. All that mattered was that Master Turk had accepted her pledge. As long as he didn’t discover she was a girl, she had a chance to become a spy and make something of her life.
“You stink as bad as an alley cat,” he said with a grimace. “When we reach the bunkhouse, first order of business is to get you out of those filthy clothes and into a bath.”
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