08 November 2012

Excerpt Thursday: The Anatomist's Wife by Anna Lee Huber

This week, we’re welcoming author Anna Lee Huber whose debut title THE ANATOMIST’S WIFE  has been hailed as “…a riveting debut…” and will be released by Berkley Publishing on November 6th, 2012Join us Sunday, when Anna Lee will be here to talk about the novel and offer an ebook copy to a lucky winner. Here's the blurb:

Scotland, 1830. Following the death of her husband, Lady Darby has taken refuge at her sister's estate, finding solace in her passion for painting. But when her hosts throw a house party for the cream of London society, Kiera is unable to hide from the ire of those who believe her to be as unnatural as her husband, an anatomist who used her artistic talents to suit his own macabre purposes.

Kiera wants to put her past aside, but when one of the house guests is murdered, her brother-in-law asks her to utilize her knowledge of human anatomy to aid the insufferable Sebastian Gage-a fellow guest with some experience as an inquiry agent. While Gage is clearly more competent than she first assumed, Kiera isn't about to let her guard down as accusations and rumors swirl.

When Kiera and Gage's search leads them to even more gruesome discoveries, a series of disturbing notes urges Lady Darby to give up the inquiry. But Kiera is determined to both protect her family and prove her innocence, even as she risks becoming the next victim...

**An Excerpt from THE ANATOMIST'S WIFE**

The scream froze me in my tracks, but the shout that followed propelled me out of my indecision and around the hedge line of the maze. Lady Lydia Perkins continued to shriek at ear-piercing levels while her escort, Mr. Tuthill, stared wide-eyed at the alcove across the path. Alarmed by the pallor of his face and the hysterical edge to Lady Lydia’s cries, I wondered if perhaps I should have turned back to search for help instead of rushing blindly toward them. I shuffled closer to see what had so disturbed them, and what I saw there sucked the breath from my lungs.
Lady Godwin lay draped across a stone bench set into the alcove. Her eyes stared sightlessly into the night sky, and her mouth seemed frozen open on a scream. Blood coated her neck and lower face and spread down across her chest, obscuring her delicate skin and soaking the golden bodice of her gown.
I stumbled back a step and clasped a hand over my mouth. Death was not unfamiliar to me. I had seen more than my fair share of corpses in my lifetime, and I had been quite happy to escape them for the last sixteen months. So I hardly relished the appearance of yet another one, and in my sister’s garden, no less. I shivered, feeling the fear and shadows stir inside me I had worked so hard to lay to rest since my husband’s death.
Lady Lydia’s screams, which had transformed into a buzzing in my head, ended abruptly as she collapsed into Mr. Tuthill’s embrace. I tore my gaze away from the corpse to watch him struggle with the girl’s unconscious form. Lady Lydia was not exactly a small girl, but he managed to heft the earl’s sister into his arms nonetheless. Juggling her bulk, he cast a rather desperate look my way, and I wondered whether it was a plea for help or if he was worried I might also faint.
Before I could reassure him of my fortitude, reinforcements arrived. Footsteps pounded over the earth, accompanied by several curses, as they struggled to locate the correct path through the maze. Lord Stratford was the first of my sister’s guests to appear around the bend in the hedges, followed closely by Mr. Fitzpatrick and Sir David. They skidded to a halt before us and exchanged glances before edging closer to peer into the leafy recess where I pointed. Sir David sucked in a breath so harshly I worried he might have swallowed his tongue.
My eyes dropped from their horrified faces, unable to deal with the sight of their emotions when mine were still so raw. I studied the misaligned buttons of Lord Stratford’s coat and the mud splattered across Mr. Fitzpatrick’s trousers—anything to keep my gaze from meeting theirs.
More and more people rounded the hedge of the maze, demanding to know what the clamor was all about. They pushed closer, horrified fascination glittering in their eyes as they jostled each other for a better view. Several ladies shrieked in alarm as word of Lady Godwin’s murder traveled back through the crowd, and I heard the resulting tumult from at least one gentlewoman passing out.
I shrank back into the hedges, wishing there was someplace I could hide from their prying eyes. If only the leafy walls would open and allow me inside. My heart raced in panic, as it had so many times during that last month I spent in London.
“Here, now. Let’s all remain calm.”
A sigh of relief trembled through me at the sound of my brother-in-law’s voice. Philip, the Earl of Cromarty, pushed his way to the front of the mob and ordered several of the men to move everyone back, ignoring all of the protests. He spotted me, and his handsome face creased in worry.
“Are you all right, Kiera?” he murmured, placing a hand on my shoulder.
I nodded hesitantly, wanting to convince him I was well and yet knowing it would do no good to force a brave face. Philip would realize how far away I wished myself. No one had forgotten my past—not him, not the other guests, and especially not me.

Anna Lee Huber was born and raised in a small town in Ohio. She is a graduate of Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN, where she majored in Music and minored in Psychology. THE ANATOMIST'S WIFE, the first book in the Lady Darby historical mystery series, has been hailed as “…a riveting debut…” and will be released by Berkley Publishing on November 6th, 2012. She currently lives in Indiana with her husband and trouble-making tabby cat. When not hard at work on her next novel, she enjoys reading, singing, travel, and spending time with her family. Visit her website at www.annaleehuber.comFind Anna Lee on Facebook and Twitter.