Shadows and Masks (Book 1 of the Chessmen series)

Available now in print and e-book form at:


A desperate woman. A man with a secret. An undeniable passion…


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Scientist Emmeline Griffith needs a husband—just long enough to prevent the loss of her inheritance. The arrangement will be all business…but she didn’t count on her attraction to the virile detective who steps into the role.

Private investigator Bartholomew Turner thought he had his secret demons under control. But when a marriage-in-name-only turns into something far more enduring, he must confront both his past and the danger that’s stalking Emmie in order to claim the woman he loves.

An American-set late Victorian romance, Shadows and Masks is the first book in The Chessmen series–steamy, emotional stories of strong heroines who pursue non-traditional roles, and the flawed heroes who love them.

Heat level–sensual with some graphic sex scenes. Readers interested in sweet romance–this isn’t it.

Book available in print and e-book form at:


About the series…

Flawed sexy heroes. Strong heroines with the courage to push societal boundaries. Agents of a secret government crime fighting organization.

The Chessmen series has them all—steamy American Victorian romances with an emotional punch to the gut. Each stand-alone story involves an agent who discovers unexpected love in all the wrong places, and must face down demons before claiming his or her happiness.

A simple chess piece with an identifier on its underside and the name of its owner are all that’s needed to make a desperate person a client of one of these secret agents. A calling card of sorts, the chess piece is a method of referral representing no option for refusal. The agent must accept its bearer as a client, no matter how frivolous or serious or out of their realm of expertise the request.

In Shadows and Masks, the first book in the series,  Bartholomew Turner hunts murderers.

An excerpt:

Emmie’s throat constricted. Brown hair peeked through the opening of his shirt. She had seen him bare chested before, but she hadn’t looked her fill. She squelched an impulse to touch him, to let her fingers play in the soft swirls, to stroke the texture of his skin and test the firmness of his well-honed muscles.

His feet bare, he carried a small, etched brass cup which he set beside her head. The vessel contained an oil smelling faintly of almonds. His expression remained masked, but his eyes reflected dark, unfathomable emotion. He didn’t seem as irritated as before, nor as calm as he wanted her to believe. There was an aura of tension about him that sent a thrill straight to her heart.

Bart knelt, his knees a few inches from her head. “You’ll be more comfortable with your arms down the sides of your body.”

Wetting her dry lips with her tongue, Emmie followed his soft-spoken order, rearranging her limbs as he suggested. When she settled, he leaned over and placed both his hands on her covered back, pressing gently, but firmly.

Heat radiated through the layers of sheet and blanket, soaking deep into her tissues, spreading everywhere. She groaned, the pleasure at once erotic and soothing. His scent of citrus, spices and male floated above, easily distinguishable from the incense and oil. She drank in his essence, savored the tang of him.

“Feel good?”

“Uhmmm.” More of an answer became too much of an effort.

“I’m going to fold the blanket down a little so I can work your shoulder muscles,” he said several minutes later.

Emmie tensed as cooler air brushed her shoulders.

Bart dipped his fingertips in the brass cup and the rasping sound of rough skin reached her ears as he spread the oil over his hands. Then he wrapped his palms along the ridge of her shoulders.

The shock of Bart’s large callused hands on her bare flesh made her insides sizzle, his touch gentle and sure, measured in their slide across her skin. His long fingers soon found the knots he’d discovered earlier and he kneaded them into oblivion. A moan bubbled up from somewhere inside her.

Bart’s breath hitched, the sound almost a strangled groan, but his masterful hands continued pressing into her tissues as he glided along in strong, languid sweeps.

When he stopped, a sense of loss ripped through her. She loved every one of his touches, the caress of his magic fingers moving across her skin. She didn’t want him to stop. For somewhere deep inside, in places unreachable by his firm strokes, coils of tension tightened into knots of arousal.

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