Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Book Spotlight for The Rose Master by Valentina Cano



"Cano does a fine job of setting mood and atmosphere, and her characters dance around one another with relentless industry and brooding allure, fighting their inevitable attraction." — Publishers Weekly


The day Anne Tinning turns seventeen, birds fall from the sky. But that's hardly the most upsetting news. She's being dismissed from the home she's served at since she was a child, and shipped off to become the newly hired parlor maid for a place she's never heard of. And when she sees the run-down, isolated house, she instantly knows why:

There's something wrong with Rosewood Manor.

Staffed with only three other servants, all gripped by icy silence and inexplicable bruises, and inhabited by a young master who is as cold as the place itself, the house is shrouded in neglect and thick with fear. Her questions are met with hushed whispers, and she soon finds herself alone in the empty halls, left to tidy and clean rooms no one visits.

As the feeling of being watched grows, she begins to realize there is something else in the house with them--some creature that stalks the frozen halls and claws at her door. A creature that seems intent on harming her.

When a fire leaves Anne trapped in the manor with its Master, she finally demands to know why. But as she forces the truth about what haunts the grounds from Lord Grey, she learns secrets she isn't prepared for. The creature is very real, and she's the only one who can help him stop it. 

Now, Anne must either risk her life for the young man she's grown to admire, or abandon her post while she still can. 




Valentina Cano is a student of classical singing who spends whatever free time she has either reading or writing. She also watches over a veritable army of pets. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best Of the Web.



Through the mirror I could see Lord Grey’s figure half melted in shadow. I turned around and clasped my hands behind me.

“I’m sorry, sir.” I looked down at the floor, thankful the moon could not reveal my burning cheeks. 

There was a long moment of silence.

“Is the floor very interesting, Anne?”

I flinched. “No, sir.” I lifted my gaze, heavy and hot.

Lord Grey walked to the table, where his plate was lying, covered and waiting.

“If you don’t mind, Anne, I’m going to have dinner. Or is it lunch? I can’t remember when I last ate.” His voice was like the sea at night, the waves coming in and out of darkness. Some words brushed by light, some cool with black.

“Of course, sir. I’ll go.” I curtsied before remembering how he’d taken my last clumsy attempt. He did not laugh that time.

“That’s not what I meant. If you don’t have pressing engagements, I’d like a few words with you.”

Hmm. Only a few days and I’d already earned a reprimand. “Of course, sir.”

“Will you please take a seat?” He motioned to the table. I blinked.

“Sir, do you mean in a chair?”

“No, I mean in mid-air. In a chair, Anne.”

Lord Grey pulled back his seat at the head of the grotesque table and sat without a sound.

“Would you like me to light a candle or a lamp, sir?”

“No, that’s quite alright.”

My hands shook as I grasped the chair I’d scrubbed that morning and every morning for the past three weeks, sitting down on the tip of the seat, allowing only the minimum of my body contact with the grand furniture.

“Would you like some wine?” He asked as he uncovered the decanter before him.

“No, sir, thank you.”

“I suppose it’s just as well. I don’t know where Dora keeps the bloody glasses.”

My head jerked up at the tone, but he was already sipping at the thick liquid. He began cutting his meat. His hands were steady now, no trace of the twitching I’d seen earlier, but they had cuts on them, puckered edges of skin drying with blood. I winced as he brought a piece of meat up to his lips, knowing the horror of Dora’s cooking, but he made no sign. He ate with an air of distraction, as if his mind were pacing far away, while his body nourished itself.

After a few bites, he set his instruments down on the plate and lowered his hands to his lap.

“You must take care not to go about touching things in this house,” he said. “Certain things do not take kindly to being disturbed.” His forehead creased and his eyes shifted to look past me, towards the mirror.


  

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