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The Dear Departed by Anne Roebuck - Book Tour + Giveaway

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The Dear Departed
by Anne Roebuck
Historical Paranormal Romance

The widows of Victorian era San Francisco are dying of decidedly
unnatural causes, and to expose the culprit Virginia Paley must
partner with the darkly mysterious Jonathan Bradshaw, entering a
world of occult rituals and unexplainable phenomena—and magical love. 


Young widow Virginia Paley has no interest in attending the séances at The
Society for Eternal Love, but the women of the society are dying
mysteriously in their sleep, leaving their fortunes to Professor
Arthur Chadwick, its charismatic medium. As her aunt might very well
become the next victim, Virginia will do whatever she must to ensure
that doesn’t happen. She will even join forces with the darkly
mysterious Jonathan Bradshaw.

From the moment he spies her, Jonathan is smitten. But romance is
impossible. Mrs. Paley is a respectable woman, and he himself is
outside of society, an orphan, an ex-thief and a true wizard, able to
hypnotize with a word and even separate his spirit from his body. No,
he must instead remain focused on his goal, avenging his mentor’s
death. But, facing a foe with power over demonic forces and
Virginia’s very life in the balance, love might indeed be the only

Chapter 1
San Francisco
The gaslight on the wall burned low, leaving only the spectral glow of the astral lamps to illuminate the séance room. Virginia Paley felt her stomach knotting up in both fear and anticipation as the wind rattled the shutters, sounding just like someone—or something—was trying to get in. In the center of the circular oak table, a single red lamp glowed like an all-seeing eye.
            Virginia shuddered. Why, oh why, had she allowed her aunt to talk her into this madness?
            Six other people sat with her around the table‑—all women save for one lone man who occupied the chair on her left. She studied him for a moment out of the corner of her eye. Just her luck that the only man attending this absurd spectacle was not only handsome but was seated so close to her that she could hear him breathe. As though he sensed her watching him, he suddenly turned to her with a mysterious smile curling his full mouth.
            His eyes met hers and Virginia caught her breath. A prickle of apprehension and excitement shot through her insides. The darkness shrouded his face, but his eyes reflected the ruby light within their azure depths, making him appear otherworldly—and disturbingly familiar. He looked like he had stepped out of a dream—her dream.
            Was she gazing into the eyes of her secret fantasy lover?
            No. She forced herself to turn away. Stop this right now. This was insane. The lover who haunted her midnight fantasies was not a real man. He was only a phantasm that appeared out of nowhere to invade the dreams of a lonely widow. Nothing more.
            This man sitting next to her at the séance table was not her fantasy lover, she told herself firmly. She didn’t even know him. Her reaction to him was just one more ridiculous aspect of this silly séance. She abruptly released her hold on the man’s hand, grateful that the darkness prevented him from seeing the flush that burned her cheeks.
            She simply mustn’t allow herself to be sucked into the insanity of this place.
            Frowning in annoyance, she turned to her aunt sitting on her right. “Really, Aunt Marian.” She kept her voice low. “This whole business is getting absurd. Come. Let’s go home.”
            “And miss a message from my beloved Henry?” Behind her pince nez, Marian’s blue eyes widened in alarm. She clutched the lace collar of her high-necked black gown with her gloved hand. “I wouldn’t dream of doing that.”
            “Mrs. Salonius got a message from her late husband, too,” Virginia persisted. “And look what happened to her.”
            “Now, now, dear.” Marian smiled and gave Virginia’s hand an affectionate pat. “It was just Rachel’s time to depart this life, that’s all. And isn’t it wonderful that she had her adored Hiram waiting for her in the Summerland of Spirit?”
            Virginia shuddered at her aunt’s blissful expression. This wasn’t like Aunt Marian at all. And where on earth did the disturbingly vacant look in her eyes come from? Despite her aunt’s beatific smile, Virginia felt in the pit of her stomach that something was very, very wrong.
            A man of about sixty years of age, dressed in a frock coat, snow-white waistcoat and white bow tie, strode into the room and took his place behind the enormous armchair at the table. Silver-haired and distinguished-looking, he carried himself with the aloof kindliness usually reserved for a college professor or a tent revivalist.
            “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.” He swept the room with his gaze. “I am Professor Arthur Chadwick. It gives me great pleasure to introduce two newcomers to our circle. This is Mr. Jonathan Bradshaw.” He indicated the man sitting beside Virginia, who nodded slightly in acknowledgement. “And Mrs. Virginia Paley. A warm welcome to you, both.”
            Virginia started as Chadwick's ebony eyes met hers for an uncomfortably long moment. Virginia shivered with sudden dread. They were piercing eyes. Calculating eyes. Cold eyes.
            Eyes that threatened to penetrate the secret hidden in her soul—a secret she had no intention of revealing to a living soul. Or any other kind of soul for that matter.
            Chadwick finally took his penetrating gaze elsewhere, much to Virginia’s relief. “In tonight’s demonstration, you will experience many manifestations of spirit power. The purpose is to convince even the most skeptical person that spirits do, indeed, exist beyond this earthy plane.” He paused for emphasis. “Which means that the spirits of our departed loved ones exist as well and are eager to reveal themselves to us, if we will but heed them.”
            He allowed the murmurs and whispers of approval to buzz around the table. Of the four other women in the room, Virginia was the only one not shrouded head to toe in black taffeta.
            “You see, this is why I continue to come here,” Marian whispered in Virginia’s ear. “It comforts me so much to know that my beloved Henry awaits me on the Other Side. And when you receive a message from your dear George, you will be comforted, too.”

From my first poem at age 10 and my first short story at age 12, I can’t
help writing about my two favorite things – magic and love. An
unrepentant nerd, I started out in biomedical research but ended up
writing software manuals instead. I spent many years as a member of
science fiction and historical reenactment groups and I have been at
various times a Renaissance scholar, a druidess, a pirate wench, a
saloon floozy, a belly dancer and a chain-mail wearing warrior

Still, my first love is writing stories. It doesn’t matter whether the
story is set in the middle ages, Victorian times, the present day or
far in the future. If it has both love and magic in it, I will write
about it. I write not only romance but young adult historical fantasy
under the name of Ann Finnin. 

I'm a native of Southern California, and I live in the hills above Los
Angeles with my husband of forty years, Dave (a man who gave me an
electric typewriter as a wedding present) and a dog of Indeterminate
Breed named Rufus.

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