Order of the MUSE

His Grace, the Duke of Camden, has recruited (some say coerced) gifted individuals from all strata of society to join his Metaphysical Union of Sensory Extraordinaires. Their purpose is to protect the Crown from arcane weapons of a psychic bent. The duke fears that one such malicious object may have slipped by them and is responsible for King George III’s periodic descents into lunacy. There may be no help for His Majesty, but Camden intends to see that a similar fate doesn’t overcome “Prinny,” the Prince of Wales.

Meet the M.U.S.E.s

Cassandra Darkin—Debutante, second daughter of Sir Henry Darkin, and an unwitting fire mage. Cassie must deal with losing her first love, and possibly her place in society if it becomes known that she’s the one who accidentally set the fire at Almack’s. Her newly manifested psychic ability terrifies her even more than the prospect of spinsterhood.

The curse of Lord StansteadGarret Sterling—Nephew and heir apparent to the Earl of Stanstead. Garret is able to implant a thought in another’s mind with such seductive force, his suggestions are irresistible. Usually. Cassandra Darkin seems oblivious to his gift, which makes the fact that the duke has asked him to help her control her accidental fire-starting a difficult assignment. Garret is a libertine who carouses to avoid sleep because his nightmares have the bad habit of becoming someone else’s waking reality. Garret avoids caring about people because that might mean they’ll steal into his dangerous dreams.

Edward St. James, Duke of Camden—Founder of the Order of the M.U.S.E., Camden is the protector and mentor of those who display unusual sensory and metaphysical gifts. In addition to safeguarding the Crown from psychic attack, he’s searching for a way to make contact with his deceased wife. He’s exhausted all natural means of investigating the mysterious deaths of Mercedes and his infant son. Now he has turned to the supernatural.

Vesta LaMotte—Top-tier courtesan who is also a fire mage. She’s called in to educate Cassandra in the ways of her gift…and the ways of men. She and the widowed Camden have had an on-again, off-again “arrangement” for years.

Pierce Langdon, Viscount Westfall—a telepath whose skills are the mirror image of Garret Sterling’s. If Sterling is the universal dispenser of unwanted thoughts, Westfall is the universal receiver of everything rattling around in the heads of others. Unfortunately, he hasn’t learned to filter anything out. Because of his propensity to “hear voices,” Westfall was only recently released from Bedlam on the condition that the Duke of Camden be responsible for him should his “voices” urge him to violence.

Meg Anthony—a former ladies’ maid and a psychic “Finder.” Her ability to locate misplaced items and people is uncanny, but not without danger to her, a fact she tries to hide. She’s in awe of the Duke of Camden and fears disappointing him if she can’t learn to act the part of a proper lady instead of a domestic. She hides the truth of her parentage because she’s on the run from her uncle who used her abilities for profit and to ruin others.

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CruiseAntiguaWe had a little excitement on our recent cruise. Just after 6AM before we docked in Antigua, the ship’s emergency horn sounded.

“Well, that’s not good,” I said to the DH as I bolted out of bed.

A young sounding female voice came over the loud speaker announcing that she was the officer of the watch and there appeared to be a fire in one of the engines.

“Not good at all,” the DH agreed. (He remained in bed. Being of Norwegian descent, he’s not easily excited about things–whether good or bad.) Then, someone apparently woke our captain and in sleepy, halting, heavily accented English, he gave orders to evacuate several crew decks.

“Even more not good,” I said.

CruiseAntiguaAtlanticWe were assured by the voice from the bridge that no action by guests was required.

“Yeah. Tell that to my insides,” I said as I pulled on some capris and a t-shirt.

The DH remained in a prone position while I stepped onto the balcony to see that we were dead in the water and drifting. We were only about 15 miles from Antigua and if the call to abandon ship was given, surely we’d be rescued fairly quickly. Surely.

Since no action was required the voice kept assuring us, I mentally packed a backpack of essentials–our passports (which drawer had I put those in?), my meds (Guess I could leave the vitamins behind), warm clothes (what warm clothes? We were headed to within 12 degrees of the Equator. I hadn’t brought warm clothes!)

Then just as I was working myself into a full blown worst case scenario, the ship’s remaining engines sputtered to life, the captain came on the speaker to assure us that there had been no fire after all, just an engine that had belched out some vapors. We’d be late to Antigua, but everything was fine.

CruiseAntiguaNelsonDockYardWhen I left the balcony and came back into our cabin, I was happy to see that the DH had gotten dressed. Finally, he’d taken our situation seriously.

“Not really,” he said. “It’s time for breakfast and they won’t let me in the dining room without pants.”

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