Welcome to the exclusive cover reveal of Beau Schemery’s The 7th of Victorica, book two in the Gadgets and Shadows series from Harmony Ink Press. We’ve got an excerpt to share from the book as well, and there’s also a giveaway with two ways to win some great prizes, including a paperback copy of The 7th of London and an original art print or an eCopy of The 7th of Victorica, so check out those entry details below!
From the Author
Hey all, Beau here. It’s been a long road from The 7th of London until now, but it’s been a great trip. From the time one insightful reviewer pointed out that in my alternate history the American Civil War didn’t happen, to Sev’s and Silas’s inevitable trip to the New World. This opened up a whole new sandbox to play in and another cast of characters to play with as you will see on the cover. It also essentially turned what was to be one book into a trilogy. Sev has quite a journey in front of him and I hope you enjoy this leg of his trip.
About the Book
Cover art by Beau Schemery
Blurb: Since Seven saved London and Queen Victoria, problems have begun growing in Victorica, formerly the free states of America. With government corruption running rampant and slavery becoming epidemic, rumors are flying about the Confederacy of the South building an army and threatening war.
Still haunted by the memory of his old enemy, Seven and his lover, Silas Kettlebent, are sent to investigate the growing corruption of the South, but they find that the problem runs deeper than they could have possibly imagined. Seven is determined to see not only the slaves freed, but the colony as well. It’s going to take the combined efforts of slaves, criminals, politicians, and Abraham Lincoln to avoid a devastating war, and if Seven has anything to say about it, to ensure the freedom of every single Victorican from British rule.
He’ll just have to do it while contending with the ghost of a previous enemy and another’s thirst for revenge.
“Ye think that’s funny, ye little beggar?” the tall boy in the too-big coat asked as he shook the smaller child. How many times in filthy alleyways just like this one had Sev seen this play out? Too many, he thought as he crept along the dim, gray wall.
The urchin swiped at his tormentor. “Feck off, ye great, huge cacker.”
“Cacker?” the bigger boy sneered. “Why ye bleedin’ son of a guttersnipe.” The boy hauled back, ready to smack the tiny fellow in his grip.
“Oy!” Seven shouted. This had gone on long enough, and Sev was ready to end it. He hated bullies in every form. “Put ’im down, lad, or I’ll box yer ears.” Seven’s Irish accent always got a little thicker when he was angry.
“Box me ears, Granddad?” the bigger boy shouted. “Ye’re welcome t’try.” He dropped the smaller child, who ran to join his friends.
“Granddad?” Sev wasn’t sure why he was so offended by the epithet, but he wanted to punch the bastard. These kids were an unfortunate side effect of Blackside’s reform. “Ye bloody ungrateful little shite,” Sev growled. “D’ye even know why ye’re safe t’walk these streets?”
“What’re you on about?” the street boy asked.
“If it weren’t fer me, ye wouldn’t be able t’walk these streets without fear o’bein’ abducted into factory work.”
“Bloody ’ell,” one of the bully’s compatriots gasped. “That there’s the Seventh.”
“Bollocks,” the street boy said, obviously skeptical.
“Aye?” Sev asked. “Is it now?” He began to unbutton his tailored, black replica military jacket. It had been nearly a year since the infamous criminal mastermind, Jack Midnight, had given it to him, after Sev had agreed to work for him. Of course Jack had outfitted his new employee with a whole new wardrobe. Midnight valued appearance almost as much as loyalty. “I suppose ye don’t believe the queen was controlled by an evil wizard?” Sev dropped his jacket and started on his cravat. “I suppose ye don’t believe in the Undercity or the fact that those people provided the army that freed ye?” Sev snapped his cravat and dropped it. “Surely the giant clockwork man they built, that invaded the royal wedding, is a fairy tale. No such thing as Prometheus, aye?” Sev unbuttoned his white shirt. “The destruction of Fairgate, the liberation of the and Blackside? None o’that matters in yer opinion?” Sev peeled the shirt from his torso, exposing the puckered scar on his rib cage in the shape of the number seven—the brand he received from Fervis, the evil factory owner responsible for destroying his entire family. Even a year later, Sev felt the warm satisfaction for making Fervis pay for his crimes: Sev’s father, mother, and siblings, as well as the hideous torture of Sev’s once best friend, Waverly. “What?” Sev shouted. “Nothin’ t’say?”
“Bloody ’ell,” the bully grumbled, folding into himself, quite obviously shamed. “I din’t realize, Mr. Seven. Fergive me, sir.”
Sev shrugged back into his shirt and then punched the bully roughly on the jaw. The boy spun and recovered, grasping his chin. “Ye’re free on account of me,” Sev growled as he retrieved his discarded clothing. “Yer free on account o’me friends that died. Annie, Heph, Carrington. We stood up fer the small ones, the castoffs. It’s yer responsibility to defend little fellas like him,” Sev said, pointing to the urchin the boy had been bullying. “No matter what the Fairsiders say, we’re better than they think. I’ve fought, I’ve sacrificed t’give ye yer freedom. My friends’ve died. Understand?”
“I… I think I do.” The dirty young man bowed his head. “Do ye really work for Midnight?” he asked.
“I work with Midnight,” Seven said, his clothes back in place.
“The stories are true, then?” the younger boy, the one who had been threatened, asked.
“Truth,” Sev sniffed. “The only truth ye need t’concern yerself with is the truth o’the street. Stick together.” Sev pointed at the smaller boy. “That little beggar can get into a lot more places than you, big boy.” He fixed the larger child with a serious glare. “Ye’d do well t’utilize his talents, rather than givin’ him a hard time for bein’ as tough as you.”
The older boy looked at his young counterpart and nodded. “Sounds like a plan,” he said with a shrug.
The younger boy regarded his former attacker with a sneer. “Ye jest better show me some respect,” he growled. They shook hands as Sev finished fastening his clothes. The scrappy little street urchin reminded Sev of his former right-hand man, Rat, who hadn’t found it easy to recover after the death of Annie and the final battle, in which he’d almost died.
“That’s better,” Sev said. “Blacksiders might be free on paper once again, but we’ve still got a long way t’go.” Sev tied his cravat. He picked his black newsboy hat off the ground and tugged it down over his burgundy hair. The street kids meandered off with their new addition, and Sev nodded, satisfied. He picked his way back toward his flat. Midnight had provided Sev the flat when the criminal was trying to convince Seven to work for him. Sev had since acquired the rest of the building and expanded his little living space to include a workshop and carriage house.
Sev even created a space for Rat in case he wanted a permanent home. Unfortunately, Rat had been scarce ever since the ugliness at the palace. He’d been in the flat the day Sev had met with the queen, accompanying Midnight. Sev knew Rat preferred to suffer away from the eyes of others, and he respected that, but he didn’t want Rat to turn into some strange hermit; Rat was too sharp for that. He had used the spare room a number of times, though he rarely sought Sev’s company. Seven tried a few times to get him to talk but had been unsuccessful.
Sev and Silas found it too difficult to ignore their roles in the aftermath of the battle at Buckingham, and picking up the pieces took more attention than they’d anticipated. The break Sev had hoped for never came. He recently recalled how interested in learning about clockworks and mechanicals Rat had been last year, and decided to start a pretty extensive project he’d been designing for a while. The invention was based on a bicycle. Sev had been trying to rework the design to add a motor. He’d just about cracked it, and he wanted Rat to help. Sev was pretty sure this might be the ticket to coax Rat back into the real world. Sev understood his young friend’s despair. They’d lost a lot of people fighting the evil wizard, Fairgate.
Before he realized it, Seven had reached his building. As usual, a group of Midnight’s men congregated on the stoop. They were there as much to serve Sev as to watch his back. He tipped his hat. “What’s up, fellas? What’s the word?”
“Oy, Sev.” Lucky grunted. The old man once served as an enforcer for Midnight, but now he mostly ran messages. He stood with an envelope. “This is from that young Silas fellow.”
Sev took the letter. “Thank ye, Lucky.” Seven slipped the old toothless man a pound coin, before he ascended the stairs to his flat. He flipped the envelope in his hands. Silas, Sev thought. He’d been integral to their triumph over Fairgate. He’d gone by the name Mr. Kettlebent when Sev first encountered him, and Sev had been convinced he was no good. Silas wore an over-skeleton that made him extra strong, goggles, a false beard, and a device that changed his voice when he assumed the persona of Kettlebent. Sev had been shocked when Silas had finally revealed his true self. He was slightly older than Sev’s, at the time, fifteen years and in Sev’s opinion, adorable. Although a year had passed, they’d been through so much, he felt much older than sixteen.
Sev peeled open the envelope and read:
I’m very sorry that I haven’t been able to see you as often as I’d like, but something serious is brewing in the colonies. Since I have assumed my role in the Prime Minister’s new venture, it has been difficult to find enough free time to see you. Do not doubt that I miss you immensely and will make time for us as soon as I am able.
Between Wrathsbury, trying to continue Heph’s research in Undertown, and helping Murry, my time is at a premium. I apologize vehemently for neglecting you. I would be honoured if you would join me for dinner tomorrow evening. Say around seven, in my tower? I await your response.
Sev read it twice before he folded the letter and slid it back into the envelope. He wasn’t sure about the role William Wrathsbury, the Duke of Sutherland and the current Prime Minister, had bestowed upon Silas, but Sev knew it was important. It occupied much of Silas’s time, and Sev had been forced to come to terms with it.
Sev and Silas were in love. Sev thought he might die when Silas had been injured grievously in the battle at the palace. But Silas had pulled through despite losing an arm. The appendage was replaced with an updated design based on Heph’s mechanical limbs. Sev had given Silas the space he’d needed as well. The last few months had been difficult, knowing that the friends closest to him, for whatever reason, weren’t willing or able to contact him.
Sev entered his flat, tossed Silas’s letter on the dining room table. After the battle at Buckingham and Silas’s new mechanical arm, Sev and Silas had been inseparable for weeks until the responsibilities of assisting Murry with the overseeing of Undertown had demanded Silas’s attention. Sev sat down at the little writing desk by the window and scrawled a quick response to Silas. He signed it and sealed it in an envelope. He wrote Silas’s initials on the outside and gazed out the window, thinking about Silas, thinking about Murry, and thinking about Henry, his little owl, now residing in Undertown as well.
“Ye need somebody t’run that t’Silas?” The gravelly voice startled Sev, and he spun, drawing the turret pistol he’d claimed from Fervis. “Whoa. Jumpy, aren’t ye?” Rat held up his hands in surrender while he puffed on a pipe.
“Rat. Jaysus. Ye gave me a fright.” Sev reholstered the pistol and regarded the letter he still held. “Nah. I’m goin’ t’give this t’Lucky. Wait here, ’cause I’ve got somethin’ that ye might find a tad more interestin’.” Sev dashed down the stairs, happy that Rat had finally come to him but discouraged that Rat used Silas’s given name rather than the nickname Midnight had given him—Benty. He handed Lucky the letter and ran back upstairs.
Rat sat at the dining room table with his filthy boots propped on the top. He was munching on a cold meat pie in between puffs of his pipe. Sev fought a smirk and lost. “Make yerself at home.”
“What?” Rat feigned innocence. “Ain’t this my home?” He tipped his threadbare top hat back, revealing his messy blond hair.
“I had my doubts.” Sev grabbed a bottle and two glasses. He poured them each two fingers of gin. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen ye ’round.”
“I been busy.” Rat shrugged and offered no more.
Sev nodded and sipped his gin. He knew Rat well enough not to press the issue. He’d returned, and for now that would have to be enough for Sev. “Well, it’s good t’see ye.”
“So what’s this interestin’ mystery?” Rat asked.
“Ah.” Sev rose. He walked over to a pile of paper rolls on the top of a sideboard. He sifted through the scroll-like documents, found the one he wanted, and returned to the table. Sev rolled the large sheaf of paper out flat across the dining table. He gave Rat’s boots a swat to make room.
Rat sat up and regarded the sketches and diagrams. “Well I’ll be buggered,” he said around a mouthful of meat pie. “Is this what I think it is?” He pointed to the designs.
“It’s a steamcycle,” Sev stated proudly.
About the Author
Beau Schemery and his robot sidekick quietly fight crime and mediocrity in northcentral Pennsylvania. Beau is attempting to complete six lifetimes in one: he’s been a comic writer/illustrator, an actor and a playwright, as well as an amateur cook and costume-maker. He enjoys sewing, reading, and playing the Xbox when he isn’t crafting exciting worlds for the characters in his brain. Beau is currently a vegetarian and hopes to grow up to be a time-traveling squirrel. He would dearly love to meet a dragon and is reasonably sure that Batman could pretty much beat anybody in a fight.