Anne Device, daughter of a prostitute turned spiritualist, has seen it all — degradation, desperation, anger, pain, and sorrow. Unbroken by the rough and dirty streets of Whitechapel, Anne’s world revolves around her family — her mother, sister, and brother.
Enter the charismatic and attractive Lord Carlyle, a gentleman magician who sees in Anne the potential to move worlds. For the first time Anne experiences the magic of romantic love. A rags to riches story she’d only imagined possible in a Faerie tale.
On her glorious wedding night she willingly gives her body, but the days that followed will test her very soul.
Get it at Changeling Press
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Copyright ©2021 Mikala Ash
I await my husband.
My name is Anne Device. I am nineteen years of age, and this is my wedding night. Already I am in error. Is this the first lesson of my new life? That it is not possible to truly let go of the past?
My new name is Lady Anne Carlyle, the virgin bride of Lord Lucian Carlyle of Lancashire.
How grand that sounds. I whisper it aloud, over and over, hoping it is all real, and not some silly and impossible dream. I began this chronicle to quell my nerves, for truly, my hand holding the quill trembles, and ink drops litter the page like the footprints of a confused imp.
My husband, how strange it is to write those words, for they seem to resonate in my mind like the incantations spoken to create an earthquake or a tumultuous storm at sea.
My husband, my husband, my husband, my husband.
Indeed, what tremors will I soon experience in the marriage bed behind where I sit?
I read what I have written, and a strong desire has taken an irresistible hold. I seem compelled to record my new life so I can remember in my dotage what these times are like. The more I think about it I realise general sentiments will probably mean little to my future self. In fifty years will I remember the context? Probably not. With that in mind I’ve decided to keep as detailed a record as possible of my new state, and how it came about.
My husband, Lucian, is downstairs in his marvellous library. “Prepare yourself, my little dove,” he had said when his closest friends, a curious collection of serious men of science had left. “I return you to your mother’s care for a final word before you become Lady Carlyle in spirit as in law.”
Lady Anne Carlyle. I wonder if I should ever get used to the title, or indeed to people bowing and curtsying as I pass, as they did today at the church.
To think, ten years ago I was barefoot with dirty rags draped over my scrawny shoulders, with my empty belly growling like a wild dog while I hawked matches on the corner of Commercial and Fournier Streets in Spitalfields. Gone now from my life were the slums where my mama sold herself to soldiers and sailors in the cramped room that also housed my younger brother and sister. Jennet and James, both of different fathers, and both unlike me in nature and disposition. Fragile Jennet so meek and mild, and James boisterous and impatient. That James would turn to soldiering was no surprise. He saw enough of them to acquire their rough ways and wanderlust. The mystery was how Jennet and I remained intact. How my mama withstood the temptation to sell our virginity, for we would have drawn a goodly price, is testament to the fact that she has principles, though she disguised them well enough when dealing with her men.
How to explain my conversion from ragamuffin with dirt smudged on my hollow cheeks to a sweet-smelling young woman able to attract the love of a lord? Though seemingly miraculous, and I will not deny the magical quality of the transition, the reason is simple enough.
My mama loves us. Of that there is no doubt. No matter the countless difficulties she endured and overcame, she insisted on educating us. In between male callers and our jobs; my selling lucifers on the corner with Jennet shivering beside me, and James off running telegrams for tuppence a day, she taught us our letters and sums, and how to behave in front of our betters. I grew up on a healthy diet of penny shockers, and sensational novels published in serial form. My favourite stories were those rags to riches tales. I enjoyed them because they were so fanciful, and for a little time they took me out of the squalor that was my daily fare. Never did I imagine I would emulate my brave and virtuous heroines. Mama instructed me in other things denied to Jennet and James. Things I was ordered never to speak about, lest we all ‘end up dangling at the end of a rope.’ A rule I am now breaking, though none shall read this but my future self.
Though he does not know everything about us, Lord Carlyle is fully aware of our lowly state, Mama’s pitiful occupation, and what she had sacrificed for her children. We have hidden little of that time from him. It bothers him not. That is a miracle, and one for which I am grateful.
So much for that chapter of my life. That strange creature who bore my name is gone forever, and I now embark on a new story. I will awaken in the morn a different person. A woman.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aussie Mikala Ash used to be a mild-mannered training & development consultant by day, and a wild sci-fi and paranormal adventure writer by night. Now she is a brazen full-time writer and nature photographer who is concentrating on having among other things, “… bags, and bags of fun!” Mikala can be found on Facebook and on Twitter.