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Monday, 19 May 2014  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

teambrendaGenre: Historical
Word Count: 92,000


Not many women are magicians in 1870s Paris, but that doesn’t stop Valentina Gianetti—until the day her father is killed onstage. She puts her onstage career on hold to find his killer, and soon finds herself entangled in an underground society of spectacular performers that are much more than they seem.

Helping Valentina in her quest are the honest, Daire O’Flynn, and not so honest, Cooper Mathers. The three follow new leads to old murders, discovering a conspiracy that transformed a government and removed a king. As Valentina moves in on the truth, she becomes the killer’s next target. With her life, and the lives of those she cares about in jeopardy, she devises a plan she expects will bring due justice. The last thing she expects is to fall for both Daire and Cooper.


I’m a technical writer by day and an aspiring author by night with an unhealthy addiction to the BBC.

First 250 words:

The Eve of Vienna – 1871

The custard of the small fruit tart gently jiggled with the rumbling of the train. I was hypnotized by its slight vibration, if only to distract myself from what I soon faced. The tranquility of my private carriage lulled me into a moment of calm. I lit the small candle poking from the tart’s middle and closed my eyes.

“Happy birthday, Mama.” The flame extinguished before I could take a breath to blow it out. I smiled. I didn’t have to turn around to see him standing in the doorway, though he made no sound. Sterling Caindale was, after all, the best magician in Europe.

“Are you prepared for tomorrow?” His English accent sounded like home.

“I’ve practiced the three acts so many times I could perform them with my eyes closed.”

“Good girl.” He smiled, the wrinkles around his eyes deepening. I wondered what he kept from me. It wasn’t only his growing paranoia that tipped me off, but the way he became more and more distracted during his performances, almost expecting an interruption.

“I have a gift for you,” he said, producing a small red flower between his fingers and presenting it to me. The instant that my fingertips brushed against its stem, the flower disappeared, and in its place hung a gold necklace with a simple red pendant.

“It’s beautiful. Thank you, Father.” His eyes twinkled. I knew he appreciated the term. I knew two things of my real father – His mum’s name was Cosette, and he was a French tailor.

It was more than I needed to know.

“Happy birthday, my Valentina.”



Filed: Misc

  • Taylor Haggerty says:

    Magicians! Paris! I’d like to see more.

  • I’d love to see the first 50 pages of this–thanks!

  • Brenda Drake says:

    Lisa Jane Weller with Broadland Literary was unable to post a comment to my blog, so here is her request!

    “This entry ticks a lot of boxes for me. I love historical fiction and I’ve always had an interest in the world of stage magicians. I’d been hoping to find a novel along these lines. If you’d be interested in querying me with this, I’d love to take a look at the first 100 pages!

    Many thanks and best wishes,


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