Darke London (Uncanny Chronicles #1) by Coleen Kwan
Genre: Adult Fiction (Historical Romance w/ a touch of Supernatural & Steampunk)Date Published: September 10, 2013
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
The Blurb:The only way to save her life is to resurrect the dead...
Julian Darke was only a newborn when he was abandoned on the doorstep of a gentleman doctor. Though raised with love, he is driven to discover his true origins.
Convinced Sir Thaddeus Ormond knows something, Julian shadows him one night and is shocked to see a young woman thrown from Ormond s carriage and accosted by a thug. Julian manages to save her life, but not her face and hands from horrific injuries.
Nellie Barchester doesn t recognize the scarred, disfigured stranger in the mirror. Though the gifted doctor and engineer has done his best to repair the damage, scars ravage her body, and chill her soul with the realization that her own husband may have plotted her death.
Julian s tenderness is a balm to her soul, and Nellie is drawn to the edge of passion by a man not repelled by her deformities. But as their pursuit of the truth draws them into London s underbelly, they cross the path of a ruthless enemy who will stop at nothing to fulfill his schemes.
Warning: Can a brilliant but troubled doctor find happiness with a woman scarred both inside and out? A hint of the supernatural plus a night of passion spice up this Uncanny Chronicle.
Darke London is the first book in the Uncanny Chronicles Series by Coleen Kwan. This book sucked me in from the very first few pages. The characters were easy to get to know a you're given perspectives from both, Nellie and Julian. They both brought their own issues to the table. I enjoyed watching them work through these issues both together and apart as the story progressed. Julian has so much heart. They both do actually. I really felt for these characters and look forward to more books in this series. Darke London had wonderful mix of suspense, drama, and romance with the added touch of the supernatural in a deliciously dark setting.
Darke London by Coleen Kwan was provided to me by Bewitching Book Tours for review. The opinions are my own.
Darke London by Coleen Kwan was provided to me by Bewitching Book Tours for review. The opinions are my own.
Through the long hours of the night London pitched and groaned, a restless creature in uneasy slumber. A thousand fires flickered across its twitching back. Over rivers and hills it sprawled, swallowing up quiet fields and meadows, an insatiable protean organism powered by a life of its own. To the north, the edge of the city lapped up against ancient hamlets, preparing to overtake them one by one. And just a few miles past, surrounded by winter fields lying fallow, sat a crumbling manor house, its lichened facade bravely and futilely facing the city’s inevitable onslaught. Tonight its peace was broken by a rider galloping up the drive, his horse all afroth, a limp figure clasped in front of him. They slithered to a halt outside the stout oaken door. Still carrying his load, the rider dismounted awkwardly and ran towards the house.Julian Darke battered his shoulder against the oak door. His arms were fully occupied with the comatose woman, and he dared not set her down. In his agitation he had some strange notion she would disintegrate if he loosened his hold.“Figgs! Open up,” he bellowed, his lungs burning with the effort. Despite the frigidness of the night, sweat poured down his back, soaking into his shirt and britches. He kicked at the front door with his scuffed boots and cursed like a tar.On the other side of the oak, heavy feet shuffled, then a key rattled in the lock, and the door finally groaned open. Julian barged in, shoving aside the lumbering manservant.“Call my father,” Julian ordered. “Rouse him if you must. Quick, man. Don’t just gawp there. Can’t you see this is a dire emergency?”Not pausing in his stride, he moved down the dimly lit hallway. His shoulder muscles twinged under the weight of the woman in his arms. She couldn’t have weighed much, but he’d held her debilitated form steady on his mount for what had felt like hours, and his limbs shrilled for respite. Not yet, not yet. The peril had not yet passed.He kicked open the door to his father’s examination room. Despite the darkness he trod surefooted to the table in the centre of the room, where he gingerly lowered his burden onto the surface. Not the faintest sound issued from the bundle of cloak that was the woman he’d carried home. His throat tightened. Surely she hadn’t perished just when he’d brought her to safety?“Julian? What’s going on?”He turned to see his father entering the room. Despite the lateness of the hour, Elijah Darke was still fully dressed in suit and waistcoat, reading spectacles perched on the end of his nose, an unlit pipe in his hand.“This woman needs our help.” Julian gestured towards the figure lying on the table. “She’s gravely injured. She needs both our expertise.”Pocketing his pipe, Elijah approached the table and turned on the twin lamps suspended above the examining table. Julian let out a small sigh of relief. In a crisis, his father was always clear-headed. He would act first and ask questions later.“What have we here?” Elijah lifted the stained cloak covering the woman. He froze. “God in heaven! Her face—”Julian nodded grimly. He had seen her face earlier on and, after a cursory examination, had instinctively hidden it with her cloak.“Good grief, son, you’re injured too!” His father’s face whitened as he stared at Julian. “You’re covered with blood.” He moved towards Julian and hauled open the lapels of his rumpled coat.“A few scratches only. Most of the blood is hers.” Impatient, Julian tore off his bloodied coat and dropped it to the floor. “It’s nothing, Father, nothing compared to her wounds.”His father made a testy growl. “Your injuries need proper seeing to.”“Later.”“You cannot assist me in that state. At the very least wash your hands.” Elijah divested himself of his jacket, rolled up his sleeves, and scrubbed his hands at a washstand.Julian hurriedly followed suit, flung on one of his father’s clean aprons and within moments was back at the table. His father had peeled the cloak back from the woman’s body and was bending over her.“Well?” Julian asked.His father grunted. “See for yourself.”For some reason, instead of staring rudely at her exposed face, he found himself reaching for the hood of the cloak and smoothing it back from the woman’s head. A handful of brown curls tumbled out, incongruously bright and clean and fresh against the oozing mess staining everything else. The tang of spilt blood hit the back of his throat, like the taste of pennies. He swallowed hard, aware of his roiling innards. Why was the smell of blood unmanning him like this? Since he was old enough to walk, he’d assisted his father. He had lanced boils, drained suppurating wounds, stitched up gaping cuts, all with nary a wince. And he was a qualified doctor too. He’d dissected corpses, amputated arms and legs, trepanned a number of patients. In all these years he’d never suffered a queasy turn, and yet now his stomach threatened to unman him. Why now? Why did this woman affect him so?She was a stranger to him; he’d never laid eyes on her before this evening. It must simply be his body protesting, sapped of energy after the tribulations he’d faced tonight. He willed his nerves to steady as he took a proper look at the woman.Under the harsh, hissing light, the white of her face was crisscrossed with deep gashes, like a peach haphazardly sliced open. Mercifully both eyes appeared intact and unharmed. Congealing blood spattered the front of her dress, the pattern of the faded cotton submerged beneath the sticky mess. A swelling contusion on her right temple indicated the heavy blow which had rendered her insensate.Elijah lifted up one of the woman’s hands. “What happened here?” His voice was rough with disbelief.Julian could only shake his head at the bloodied stumps, all that was left of the middle and ring fingers. He had bound his handkerchief as best he could around the hand, but there had been considerable loss of blood, and the fingers had been crudely removed, leaving behind a messy lump of flesh.“Can we save her hand?” he asked.“We shall do our best.”Using a sharp pair of scissors, Elijah began to cut off the woman’s dress in order to complete his examination. As the shears tore through the thin material, the woman moaned. It was no more than a murmur, but it seemed the most blood-curdling sound Julian had ever heard. She squirmed, her flailing arms almost knocking the scissors from Elijah’s hand.“Hold her down, son,” Elijah barked.Julian obeyed, but the instant he pressed down on the woman’s shoulders, her eyelids flew open. Two green eyes stared up at him, frozen in a moment of sheer terror. With the glaring lights overhead, he must appear like a dark silhouette looming over her, Julian surmised. And then every thought fled from him as she started to shriek and thrash her limbs, struggling with all her might to free herself.
An Interview with Coleen Kwan
How long have you been writing?
I’ve dabbled in writing on and off several times. I decided to get serious back in 2009, so that’s four years.
What inspired you to write Darke London?
It was the image of Victorian London as a dark and restless city, cloaked in fog and mist, peopled by shady characters, and teeming with vice and danger.
What can you tell us about the sequel?
I have a story idea for one of the secondary characters from Darke London which involves further gritty adventures and unconventional love.
Which of your characters do you relate to most and why?
I love my heroine Nellie Barchester. After her horrific assault she feels like an outcast and outsider, which is something I can relate to because I often felt I didn't fit in.
What is a secret about you that nobody else knows?
Well, if I told you it wouldn’t be a secret anymore! One not-so-secret thing about me is that I don’t enjoy cooking and am not a very good cook.
If your real life was a fictional book, what would you, the main character, be like?
I’d be the anti-heroine: shy, self-effacing, introverted.
What book have you read too many times to count?
I’ve read Winston Graham’s Poldark series many times over since I was a teenager. His books are sweeping historical sagas involving a Cornish family, and I love every one of them.
What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
I really like the advice given by Neil Gaiman to NaNoWriMo: “You write. That’s the hard bit that nobody sees. You write on the good days and you write on the lousy days. Like a shark, you have to keep moving forward or you die. Writing may or may not be your salvation; it might or might not be your destiny. But that does not matter. What matters right now are the words, one after another. Find the next word. Write it down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.”
If you could hop into the life of any fictional character, who would it be and why?
I’ve been reading a lot of IJ Parker’s mysteries set in eleventh century Japan, and I’d love to be her sleuth Akitada Sugawara for a day or two just to experience life in those days.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Head-hopping. Before I started writing, I wasn't aware of head-hopping in the books I read, but now as an author I can’t help noticing it! I think it is something that readers don’t really notice but can bug writers and editors.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I love reading. I find I don’t have as much time to read these days, and sometimes I feel guilty that I’m reading instead of writing.
Are any of the things in your books based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
I would say they all come from my imagination as my real life is actually pretty uneventful.
It was great chit chatting with you! Thank you for stopping by!
Thanks for having me on your blog today!
Coleen has been a bookworm all her life. At school English was her favorite subject, but for some reason she decided on a career in IT. After many years of programming, she wondered what else there was in life — and discovered writing. She loves writing contemporary romance and steampunk romance.
Coleen lives in Sydney, Australia with her partner and two children. When she isn’t writing she enjoys avoiding housework, eating chocolate, and watching The Office.
To learn more about Coleen Kwan and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.