#blogtour – Blackmail, Sex and Lies by Kathryn McMaster @TrueCrimeNovels @rararesources #extract #giveaway
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Blackmail, Sex and Lies by Kathryn McMaster. Thank you to Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for the spot on the tour. I have an extract to share with you and there’s a copy of the ebook up for grabs but first, here’s what the book is about:
Blackmail, Sex and Lies is a story of deception, scandal, and fractured traditional Victorian social values. It is the tale of a naïve, young woman caught up in a whirlwind romance with a much older man. However, both have personality flaws that result in poor choices, and ultimately lead to a tragic end.
For 160 years, people have believed Madeleine Smith to have been guilty of murder. But was she? Could she have been innocent after all?
This Victorian murder mystery, based on a true story, takes place in Glasgow, Scotland, 1857. It explores the disastrous romance between the vivacious socialite, Madeleine Hamilton Smith, and her working class lover, Pierre Emile L’Angelier.
After a two-year torrid, and forbidden relationship with L’Angelier, that takes place against her parents’ wishes, the situation changes dramatically when William Minnoch enters the scene. This new man in Madeleine’s life is handsome, rich, and of her social class. He is also a man of whom her family approve.
Sadly, insane jealous rages, and threats of blackmail, are suddenly silenced by an untimely death.
The novel is based on the true story of the infamous Madeleine Hamilton Smith, a young socialite from Glasgow. In 1857, she was accused of murdering her working-class lover, Pierre Emile L’Angelier with arsenic. In this excerpt Madeleine discovers that Emile, as he is better known, is not of her social class, and therefore, the possibility of her seeing him again is impossible if she wants her family’s blessing. However, will she listen to inner reason, or will she follow her heart?
‘Madeline was so enamoured with Emile, and so totally engrossed in their conversation, she failed to notice an acquaintance, Blake MacDonald, or anyone else, for that matter. He, however, had noticed her.
He lounged up against the mantelpiece, trying to look nonchalant despite, ten minutes earlier, failing to impress several ladies seated around him. He gave up his weak efforts to ingratiate himself and focused his attention instead on Madeleine, and the stranger in their midst.
Blake MacDonald continued to watch them engaging in animated conversation, as only Madeleine knew how. He turned to the notorious gossiper in the group, Jemima Stapleton, seated next to him.
“Miss Stapleton, who is the gentleman Miss Smith seems so enamoured with this evening? Do we have a name?”
“I’m afraid not. I’ve been trying to find out since he arrived. All I’ve managed to find out so far is that he’s French.”
“Ah, a frog. What does he do?”
“I haven’t been able to find that out yet either. Most distressing! It’s not like me to be unable to ferret these things out. If you beat me to it, you will let me know, won’t you?”
She smiled and batted her eyelids to encourage the sharing of information. Blake MacDonald was already moving away and crossing the floor.
He sauntered up to Madeleine and Emile whose bowed heads signified deep conversation, and with no apology barged straight in.
“Well, then,” he boomed, “what brings you to Glasgow?”
Emile cleared his throat, hesitated for a moment, and skirted around the issue.
“Have we met? I don’t believe we have.”
“MacDonald. Blake MacDonald.”
“Pierre L’Angelier. My friends call me Emile.”
“So, what are you doing in Glasgow, L’Angelier? Is it work or pleasure?”
“I heard Glasgow had a reputation for beautiful women and I’m not disappointed.”
He stole a glance at Madeleine who started to blush. No one ever called Madeleine Smith beautiful. She bent her head and smiled sweetly.
“Ah, well that we can’t deny,” said Blake, looking over Madeleine’s head and taking in some beautiful faces of women scattered around the room.
“So you’re French, L’Angelier?”
“Yes, I’m very proud of my French heritage. We pride ourselves on our manners and sophistication.”
Blake missed the barb and carried on the interrogation.
“As a Frenchman in Glasgow, what do you do for a living?”
“I’m in the textile industry. Cotton, actually.”
Emile wavered between honesty and inventing a more prestigious career. The thought was tempting, but fleeting.
“Ah, a merchant for the French?”
“No, actually, I’m a clerk, at Huggins & Co.”
“You mean an accountant, surely?”
“No, I’m a packing clerk.”
“You’re a packing clerk?” roared Blake incredulously. “Don’t make a stuffed bird laugh!”
The conversation in the room dried to a trickle, then stopped. Noise emptied, silence rushed in.
“Are you telling me you grovel around on your hands and knees in dusty warehouses counting cotton bales?”
He watched Emile squaring up to him. He noticed too how the dapper little man dug a finger under the newly starched collar to loosen it. They maintained eye contact as Blake continued to size him up, waiting for a different answer.
Tension broke when MacDonald thumped him on the back with such force he jolted forward. MacDonald broke into deep guffaws.
“Lord, man, I almost believed you! Love a good yarn!”
After more back slapping he returned to reclaim his spot by the fireplace and immediately Jemima Stapleton set upon him.
The small circle of people who had previously gathered around Emile and Madeleine retreated and remained distant for the rest of the evening. Even Robert made himself scarce. People tittered and glanced their way. Where some felt it impossible a common packing clerk could be in their midst, others began to wonder. Unwittingly, the couple became the topic of conversation and speculation for the rest of the night.
Despising gossip, Madeleine turned her back and ignored the whispers. Tonight she aimed to enjoy herself with one of the most handsome men in the room, and she was determined to have some fun.
“Please ignore Blake MacDonald and his ilk. They are not my friends, and are incredibly rude. We are not all like that.”
“My dear Madeleine, I have no expectations for this evening. I am here solely to enjoy your company.”
“Tell me more about yourself, Emile. Have you been in Glasgow long?”
“Not very long. I arrived to take up my current position at Huggins & Co.”
“So you do work in cotton then?”
“Yes, I do.”
“As a packing clerk.” ‘
Kathryn McMaster has very kindly offered to give away one e-copy of Blackmail, Sex and Lies to one lucky winner. To be in with a chance, it couldn’t be easier to enter – just leave me a comment on this blog post. I’ll pick a winner on Wednesday 13th December.
And don’t forget to follow the rest of the tour.
Kathryn McMaster is a writer, entrepreneur, wife, mother, and champion of good indie authors. She co-owns the book promotion company One Stop Fiction (www.onestopfiction.com), where readers can sign up to receive news of free and discounted 4 and 5 star reviewed books. She is also a bestselling author of historical murder mysteries set in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Her debut novel, “Who Killed Little Johnny Gill?” was well received. All her novels are based on true stories, and she melds fact with fiction, writing in the creative nonfiction style. She lives on her 30 acre farm in the beautiful Casentino Valley, Italy for 6 months of the year, and during the other half of the year, on the small island of Gozo, Malta.