The fabulous Donna MacMeans burst onto the historical romance writing scene with her first book, The Education of Mrs. Brimley. Her debut book received tons of accolades, including this one from Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association:
“MacMeans writes with grace and wit, and her debut is certain to dazzle readers with its irresistible combination of complex characters and very sexy romance.”
I’m thrilled to have Donna guest blogging with me today, and I’m going to turn things right over to her as she tells us about her latest book.
“Can you do it?” he asked.
She hesitated, considering. “Who are the Guardians?”
“Why do you ask?”
She lowered her voice. “A coded message from them brought me to your library last night. Now we’re attempting to decipher another message. It seems to me that the two events are related. If I’m to assist you in this, I want to know it’s for a worthy cause, or if it’s for…something not so worthy.” As much as she wished to embark on this adventure, she needed to know the purpose was just.
He tapped his fingers on her copy of Treasure Island. “You wish to know if we are the pirates or the righteous crew.”
She nodded, pleased with his analogy. “You’ve read it?”
“I believe I proved last night that I’m familiar with many books and many cultures.” His finger slowly stroked the well-worn binding of the novel. Her imagination transformed the simple gesture into something of a more intimate nature. A shiver slipped down her spine.
“While I can’t speak for the nature of the note,” Trewelyn said, “or the recipient for that matter, I can assure you that I’m not involved in any nefarious purposes. I would think that if anything, we may have the opportunity to stop wrongdoing, not participate in it ourselves.”
He pulled his hand away from the book, severing that intimate connection. Yet he seemed impervious to her thoughts. “For all I know,” he continued, “this note could be a listing of the week’s menu prepared by my stepmother for the cook.”
“Menus are rarely written in code, sir,” she said. She narrowed her eyes. “You are avoiding my question. Who are the Guardians?”
Secret Societies abound in the Victorian Era. Some secret societies were formed for religious purposes; others – more fraternal – were formed so members of one gender could escape the other for brief periods of time, and still others existed as threats to the political structure.
When Ashton Trewelyn, a notorious rake once known as Casanova – now reformed (or so he says), discovers a coded message in his father’s library, he wonders what sort of secret society has snared his disapproving father. Is it a benign sort of gathering of old men in ridiculous hats, or the more dangerous sort involved in political intrigue? For the safety of himself and his family, he decides to investigate the mystery. Fortunately, he has recently made the acquaintance of a spirited young woman with the unusual ability to break code.
Edwina Hargrove longs for adventure. To date, the only taste of adventure comes in the form of letters from her mischevious brothers who write in code to keep the nature of their adventures secret from their parents. Thus Edwina dabbles in code-breaking. A talent she uses to translate some of the coded messages that appear in the personal ads in the paper. Is it the promise of adventure or the temptation afforded by a rakishly handsome man that causes her to agree to translate a coded letter? And does it matter when the enigmatic code sweeps her into a nebulous web of intrigues, secret societies and Japanese art, gambling her reputation and secure future in the process…
To read an excerpt of The Casanova Code and sign up for my newsletter and an opportunity to perhaps win a cherry blossom pendant necklace from the Smithsonian (cherry blossoms play a role in the story), visit my website at www.DonnaMacMeans.com.
Someone leaving a comment today will receive a copy. Just tell me if you’ve ever belonged to what you thought was a secret society or have experience with a secret language. Pig-Latin and decoder rings discovered in the bottom of a cereal box count. 🙂