Saturday, March 23, 2024

#NewBlogPost #BookBlitz...Current of Darkness...#Adult #Historical #Mystery @XpressoTours @SexyNerdRevue

Current of Darkness
Robert Brighton

Publication date: March 19, 2024
Genres: Adult, Historical, Mystery

“Unforgettable female leads power this stellar historical mystery” (BookLife Reviews) by Robert Brighton, told with “writing that is on par with the cunning of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle” (Manhattan Book Review).

A swirling tale of industrial espionage, love, and betrayal, Current of Darkness follows aspiring sleuth Sarah Payne behind the sleek, honeymoon faรงade of Gilded Age Niagara Falls and into a shadowy demimonde of ruthless union bosses, saboteurs, and tycoons-including the powerful, handsome, and mysterious Charles Kendall, whose intentions toward Sarah are unclear.

Meanwhile, sultry widow Alicia Miller is set on taking charge of her murdered husband’s company-only to find herself pitted against the new majority owner, who has his own ideas about women in the world of men. But cunning and captivating Alicia has ideas, too-and will stop at nothing to come out on top.

Both women will have to find the courage and resourcefulness-and set aside their own simmering feud-to survive in this “winning story of action, sabotage, cutthroat business dealings, and women daring to be something new at the dawn of the American century” (BookLife Reviews).

A captivating, page-turning, and immersive tale of industrial espionage, love, and betrayal – set against the backdrop of the glittering Gilded Age. Current of Darkness will draw readers in, and hold them under, until its final, explosive pages.

Read the Avenging Angel Detective Agency Mysteries in any order.

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ALICIA MAKES AN OMELET

Excerpted from Current of Darkness: Desire & Deceit in the Gilded Age

A Novel by Robert Brighton
© 2024 Copper Nickel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

When Alicia got back to the front door of Miller Envelope Company, damned if the thing wasn’t unlocked. She jerked the door open and saw none other than her Majority Owner, Howie Gaines, crossing the lobby, his foot almost to the first tread of the staircase.

“Howie!” she called, and he turned.

“Mrs. Miller,” he said. “I hope you weren’t waiting. I usually get here early.”

“We’ll talk about that in a minute,” she said. “But you need to come with me first.”

He returned to the front door. “What’s wrong?” he said.

“Follow me,” she said, crooking a finger. Together they walked along the Division Street side of the building and back to the loading dock area. The cigarette smoker was sitting on the loading dock again, smoking another cigarette. When he spied Gaines, he stubbed out his smoke and jumped down. “Mr. Gaines,” he said. “Good morning.”

“Shevlin,” Gaines said. “Good morning to you.”

“Go get those other two men who were with you just now,” Allie said to Shevlin, waving the back of her hand in his direction. He eyed her and then glanced at Gaines, who nodded. Shevlin hopped up on the loading dock, still trailing smoke, and went into the depths of the factory, and reemerged with the lanky man and the other one in tow.

“What is this all about?” Gaines asked Alicia.

“Teaching a lesson,” she said as the two men shuffled onto the dock with Shevlin. Allie looked up at them. “Who are these men?” she said to Howie, who stood by looking puzzled.

“Utz, on the left, and Kiesler. They’re two of our best delivery men.”

“Mr. Shevlin, Mr. Utz, Mr. Kiesler,” Alicia said. “We weren’t properly introduced earlier. I’m Alicia Hall Miller. Miller as in Miller Envelope. You must know it—it’s your employer.”

The three men could almost be heard to swallow audibly. The lanky man, Kiesler, who seemed to occupy a leadership role, cleared his throat. “We’re sorry, ma’am, about . . . earlier. Didn’t know who you were.”

“I see,” Alicia said. “You’re sorry, then.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Kiesler said.

“And you two? Are you sorry, as well?”

Utz and Shevlin nodded, somewhat sheepishly, mumbling assent.

“Well, good. Thank you for that,” she said. “Now, guess what else you are? In addition to ‘sorry’?”

The men looked back at her blankly.

“You’re fired,” she said. “All three of you. Right now. Go collect whatever shit you have in your lockers and get out.” She looked at her watch. “You have precisely two minutes to leave my property. If you don’t, you’ll wish you had. The chief of police owes me at least one favor.”

Gaines touched her arm. “Mrs. Miller,” he said under his breath, “a word?”

“What do you want?” she said, jerking her arm away. “These men were insufferably rude to me just a few minutes ago.”

“You can’t hire and fire people,” Howie said quietly, his face quite crimson. “You’re a minority owner. You don’t have the authority to—”

“I won’t make a habit of it, Gaines,” she said, “but I just did fire them, and fired they will remain. Now do not challenge me on this, or we’re going to have a very bad first day together.”

The three men were looking at Gaines and Alicia’s little sidebar conference. Gaines turned back to them. “You heard her,” he said. “You’re dismissed.”

The men muttered a few choice words and disappeared into the building to collect their belongings. Allie and Gaines trudged back to the front entrance.

“Those are—were—three of our best workers, you know,” he said to her as they mounted the staircase inside. “Do you know how difficult it is to replace good laborers?”

“You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs,” she said. “And do you know how difficult it is to replace customers? I don’t want anyone who represents our company to treat anyone in the way I was treated. It’s simply not acceptable. They merely picked on the wrong person today, but my guess is that they’re rude to everyone. And they’re the ones driving around delivering our product? Gaines, we need pleasant, polite people meeting our customers, not surly bastards like those three. And they’re lazy. Smokers are all lazy. Every last goddamn one of them.”

“Fine, fine,” Howie said, as they stood on the upper landing, outside their office. “I don’t disagree with you, but—”

“Then don’t,” Alicia said. “Don’t say, ‘I don’t disagree with you,’ and then begin disagreeing with me. I absolutely loathethat sort of thing. It reminds me of visitors who drop by and, after a few minutes, consult their watches and say, ‘Well, I’d better let you get back to your more pressing matters,’ or some such horseshit. They’re the ones with pressing matters, and they want to blame me for it. If I have pressing matters, I say so.”

Howie seemed perplexed.

“Do you understand, Gaines? It’s a simile. I’m drawing a comparison, so that you can understand what your new business partner hates.” One corner of her mouth rippled up.

“Yes, yes, I understand.”

“Then you know what I would like to do? When you introduce me to the company today—the whole staff—I am going to emphasize that every person who works here is going to treat everyone as though he were a customer. Or she. Or they’ll be hitting the bricks, just like Shevlin and company.”

“People aren’t going to like that,” he said, working the lock of their office door and putting his hand on the doorknob.

“Isn’t that their hard luck. Oh, and by the way”—she put her hand over his on the knob—“these offices open at 7:30, sharp. Not 7:45, not between 7:35 and 7:30. We can’t expect anyone else to be punctual and attentive to their jobs if we’re not. People look at us and decide what they can get away with. We have excellent streetcars here in Buffalo, and broad sidewalks, and so there’s no cause to be late. None. Understand?”

Howie smirked at her. “You will understand, Mrs. Miller, I don’t plan to be lectured by a minority owner—”

“It’s Alicia,” she said. “Or just Miller. Like any other business partner. Not Mrs. Miller. I’m not calling you Mr. Gaines, you can depend on that.”

“As you wish, Miller,” he said. “Now may I please go into my office?”

“It’s our office, and yes, you may.”

Author Bio:

Award-winning author Robert Brighton is an authority on the Gilded Age, and a great believer that the Victorian era was anything but stuffy. In his Avenging Angel Detective Agency Mysteries, Brighton exposes the turbulence of the era - its passions, dreams, and disasters - against a backdrop of careful research on the places, sights, sounds, and smells of the time.

When he is not walking the streets in the footsteps of the Avenging Angels, sniffing out unsolved mysteries, Brighton is an adventurer. He has traveled in more than 50 countries around the world, personally throwing himself into every situation his characters will face - from underground ruins to opium dens - and (so far) living to tell about it.

A graduate of the Sorbonne, Paris, Brighton is an avid student of early 20th Century history and literature, an ardent and relentless investigator, and an admirer of Emily Dickinson and Jim Morrison. He lives in Virginia with his wife and their two cats.

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