As a ‘crat, Olivia’s only way out of the luxurious towers where the upper crust spend their days is to attend the Music Guild for lessons, and to head off for university some day. She’s a fine musician and passable student, but more than anything she wants to leave the confines of the walled city and travel the lands of Erde.
If there’s a book out there about pirates, you can be sure she’s read it. There’s something about the freedom and the idea of going where the wind takes you that Olivia finds intoxicating. These romantic stories are the main reason she’s become such an excellent swordswoman. Plus, it’s nice not to wear the tightly laced dresses and ridiculous shoes required by her station all the time.
But a woman in her position can hardly expect to marry for love, let alone passion. The most she can hope for is to avoid a forced arrangement with someone loathsome, like her cousin Lyre. His sister may be Olivia’s best friend, but she can’t stand him and his games (even if she’s excellent at playing them, too). Lyre’s weaseled his way into good standing with her guardian, and there’s no telling what he’s been whispering in the old man’s ear.
She’s ready to take control of her destiny, but when a bird flees her gilded cage, she can’t be sure what’s waiting in the shadows...
Here’s a little taste of Olivia in action from Riftmaker.
The guardsman’s grip went slack and Jeremy twisted free. Olivia grabbed his hand, but it was too late to run. Five of The Chosen were closing in on them, some with clubs at the ready, and all with anger in their eyes. Olivia stood peeking from behind Jeremy, who held his hands out in a placating gesture and backed away.
“Do something!” Olivia hissed.
“Like what?” he retorted.
“I don’t know anything about fighting. I’m a musician, remember?” Olivia’s skirts crinkled as her back met the wall, and Jeremy’s body pressed into her. There was nowhere to run. “Hey there,” Jeremy began, “can we maybe talk about this?”
Anger and disappointment boiled inside of Olivia. Jeremy was supposed to be her solution, her man of action, but he was really just a coward. In a fit of pique, she shoved him away as hard as she could, uttering a frustrated cry. His body slammed into the nearest of their pursuers and knocked him to the ground.
The soldier’s club lay where he dropped it, and Olivia retrieved it. It wasn’t anything like the elegant blade that she was used to, but it would have to do. The next soldier reached them, baton raised above her head. Olivia deftly blocked the blow with her right hand and sent her left elbow crunching into the other woman’s face. It was a move she had always wanted to try, but of course was strictly forbidden in “proper” fencing.
Jeremy untangled himself from the prostrate soldier who lay gasping for breath. He turned to see Olivia as she picked up a second baton from near a woman whose nose was gushing blood. More soldiers were rushing around the corner of the prison, and a wicked smile parted Olivia’s perfect lips as she held one baton out like a blade and brandished the other above her head. The next person to reach her was unarmed, but held his fists at the ready. She dodged his attack and danced to the left where she hit him hard on the side of his skull. In one fluid motion, she turned into the next attacker and caught him under the chin with the second baton, but almost tripped over her skirts and into the next one. As she faltered, she heard Jeremy give a choking cry of warning.
“Stop!” a voice boomed over the chaotic scene. It came from a person who now had Jeremy by the throat, and she forced him to stand. The coil of wire bit into his flesh and his face was growing pale. He clawed at the garrote biting into his jugular, fingers clumsy from lack of oxygen. “Drop your weapons,” the woman commanded.
Find out Olivia’s fate in Riftmaker.
Pre-order, Feb 13 and earlier
For a limited time, Riftmaker is available for $1.99 from Amazon and a variety of other e-book retailers. So grab your copy before Feb 14! Print price is $18.99 from Amazon and the Our Write Side store.
Find more character spotlights, book reviews, guest posts, and interviews with Phoebe Darqueling during the Riftmaker blog tour, Jan 24 - Mar 6.
Do you like free books? Sure you do! Get a FREE COPY of The Steampunk Handbook right now.
Featured image is called “Steampunk Bird” featuring model Sivia Dihn AKA Lacrima_Steampunk. Find more of her photos on Instagram.