Oh, I am so excited to be able to share this with you! Today, Anna Butler has a new release with Dreamspinner Press: The Gilded Scarab is now available! I can’t tell you how much I’ve been looking forward to sharing this book with you. I had the privilege of beta reading this story before its submission, and oh! There is so much to love! Steampunk! Political intrigue! Egyptology! And everyone’s new favorite book boyfriend: Rafe Lancaster, former pilot for His Majesty, the Queen, now grounded and looking to make his way in the world, without falling into the clutches of his family’s power struggles.
If you love Elizabeth Peters’s Amelia Peabody mysteries and smokin’ hot M/M romance, you’re going to love The Gilded Scarab! Without any further ado, here’s Anna!
BLOG POST TITLE: Hypocondriack Winds
When Rafe Lancaster buys Pearse’s Coffeehouse in 1900, he has no idea of the long history of coffee, or the influence it’s had in shaping the English nation. He’s an educated man, but his interest in coffee has always been in taste and quality, not the culture of coffee. But Rafe’s also intelligent, curious, whimsical. While it’s not mentioned in The Gilded Scarab, I’m pretty sure that as soon as he bought the coffeehouse, and in between learning how to make the best cup of coffee a man can buy, Rafe did a little research. I like to think that he came across this absolute gem of an advert for coffee from 1652, and, just for a moment, wished that he hadn’t renamed the coffeehouse Lancaster’s Luck, but instead had thought of calling it ‘Hypocondriack Winds’…
The Vertue of the COFFEE Drink.
First publiquely made and sold in England, by Pasqua Rosée.
THE Grain or Berry called Coffee, groweth upon little Trees, only in the Deserts of Arabia.
It is brought from thence, and drunk generally throughout all the Grand Seigniors Dominions.
It is a simple innocent thing, composed into a drink, by being dryed in an Oven, and ground to Powder, and boiled up with Spring water, and about half a pint of it to be drunk, fasting an hour before and not Eating an hour after, and to be taken as hot as possibly can be endured; the which will never fetch the skin off the mouth, or raise any Blisters, by reason of that Heat.
The Turks drink at meals and other times, is usually Water, and their Dyet consists much of Fruit, the Crudities whereof are very much corrected by this Drink.
The quality of this Drink is cold and Dry; and though it be a Dryer, yet it neither heats, nor inflames more than hot Posset.
It forcloseth the Orifice of the Stomack, and fortifies the heat with- [missing text] its very good to help digestion, and therefore of great use to be [missing text] bout 3 or 4 a Clock afternoon, as well as in the morning.
[missing text] quickens the Spirits, and makes the Heart Lightsome.
[missing text]is good against sore Eys, and the better if you hold your Head o’er it, and take in the Steem that way.
It supresseth Fumes exceedingly, and therefore good against the Head-ach, and will very much stop any Defluxion of Rheumas, that distil from the Head upon the Stomach, and so prevent and help Consumptions and the Cough of the Lungs.
It is excellent to prevent and cure the Dropsy, Gout, and Scurvy.
It is known by experience to be better then any other Drying Drink for People in years, or Children that have any running humors upon them, as the Kings Evil. &c.
It is very good to prevent Mis-carryings in Child-bearing Women.
It is a most excellent Remedy against the Spleen, Hypocondriack Winds, or the like.
It will prevent Drowsiness, and make one fit for Busines, if one have occasion to Watch, and therefore you are not to drink of it after Supper, unless you intend to be watchful, for it will hinder sleep for 3 or 4 hours.
It is observed that in Turkey, where this is generally drunk, that they are not troubled with the Stone, Gout, Dropsie, or Scurvy, and that their Skins are exceeding cleer and white.
It is neither Laxative nor Restringent.
Made and Sold in St. Michaels Alley in Cornhill, by Pasqua Rosee, at the Signe of his own Head.
Delightful, isn’t it? No wonder Rafe found coffee so fascinating! Now it would please Rafe if you would go and make yourself a cup of coffee, remind yourself that your hypochondriack winds are quite safe and that any defluxion of your rheumas is quite unlikely, and join him in The Gilded Scarab of an hour or two of love and adventure.
When Captain Rafe Lancaster is invalided out of the Britannic Imperium’s Aero Corps after crashing his aerofighter during the Second Boer War, his eyesight is damaged permanently, and his career as a fighter pilot is over. Returning to Londinium in late November 1899, he’s lost the skies he loved, has no place in a society ruled by an elite oligarchy of powerful Houses, and is hard up, homeless, and in desperate need of a new direction in life.
Everything changes when he buys a coffeehouse near the Britannic Imperium Museum in Bloomsbury, the haunt of Aegyptologists. For the first time in years, Rafe is free to be himself. In a city powered by luminiferous aether and phlogiston, and where powerful men use House assassins to target their rivals, Rafe must navigate dangerous politics, deal with a jealous and possessive ex-lover, learn to make the best coffee in Londinium, and fend off murder and kidnap attempts before he can find happiness with the man he loves.
(Cover by Reese Dante)
MY TRAINING at the coffeehouse went on apace. Some things were more easily learned than others. Mr. Pearse gave me ungrudging approval for my skills in making the various brews—he said I had a neat hand with the espresso machine and the slow-drip apparatus, and mixed the various coffee and milk combinations with confidence—but he was outraged (horrified? pitying? all three?) when he realized I had been planning to buy my coffee ready roasted. Perhaps he was all three, but outrage certainly won the day.
“No,” said Mr. Pearse with decision. “You are not.”
“I’ll have to—”
“But I don’t know how to work that thing back there—”
The old man pulled down the blind and put up the “closed” sign, then herded me into the back rooms. “You’ll learn.”
“No, Rafe,” repeated Mr. Pearse, and I felt all too like a puppy in danger from a rolled-up newspaper. I put my hand over my nose, just in case. “This is important. You want to be better than Philtre Coffee, don’t you? I have no doubt they buy their coffee ready roasted and ground.”
The scorn stung. I couldn’t argue with that. Protests were a waste of breath. So I laughed and gave myself up to the arcane mysteries of roasting green coffee beans.
It astonished me that so far I’d overlooked the roaster. Perhaps my damaged eyesight was worse than I realized, because the damn thing should have been impossible to miss. It filled half the back storeroom with its brooding, massive bulk, a chunk of black cast iron, big as an aerocarrier, with brass hinges and decorative plates and a furnace beneath that looked like something Lucifer himself would covet. But despite its bulk, it was a thing of quirky beauty, from the polished hopper at the top to the enameled cooling tray at the bottom. The best bit was the huge brass handle on the drop door—no plain knob, but a beetle with a blunt rounded head, wing cases opening and gossamer wings, made from the finest of polished brass wires, unfurling to lift it from bright brassy flames.
Another Aegyptian beetle, a bigger and brighter version of the one Daniel had given me. The coincidence made me laugh. I appeared doomed to be surrounded by dung beetles! But for all that, the roaster impressed me. “Good God, Mr. Pearse! How old is it?”
“I have no idea,” confessed my mentor. “It was here when I bought the business, more than fifteen years ago, and it was old then.”
“Old? It belongs across the road in the museum! It’s ancient.” I traced a hand over the beetle’s rounded head. “You know, it looks like it needs to be coaxed into life with kindling and prayer before it works its way up to consume logs, entire trees, and the odd martyr.”
Mr. Pearse laughed. “Do you feel the need for holiness and martyrdom, my boy?”
“Not I! I’m not martyr material. Is it as fuel-hungry and temperamental as it looks?”
Mr. Pearse copied my gesture of caressing the beetle handle. He had an odd smile on his face. “It’s obsolete, really. A sensible man would take it out and use the space for storage or something.”
Something in my chest contracted a little. The old man was going to miss this place. He was going to miss it badly.
I put my hand over his. “Just as well neither of us ever claimed to be sensible. Show me how it works.”
He grinned and patted my hand with his free one. “You’re very good to indulge an old man so, Rafe. But once you’ve seen it for yourself, you’ll understand.”
He was right. Within a day or two, I understood why buying preroasted coffee from a supplier would not do. Not merely intellectually understood it, but viscerally and emotionally. It was fascinating. It was science and art, all wrapped up together. I freely admit I went into it a skeptic, but I was astonished to find how much it interested me. Mr. Pearse delayed his retirement for another week until he was quite satisfied I could handle it, although, as he said, it would take years for me to be an artist with the roaster.
I laughed. “I’m content to master the basics for now, sir. I’ll allow greatness to creep up on me, unawares.”
Because, of course, it would.
WHERE TO BUY
The Gilded Scarab is available at:
All Romance as an ebook
Comment here and one person chosen at complete close-eyes-stick-a-pin-in-it random will get their choice of a little pack of Gilded Scarab or Gyrfalcon loot, a free copy of FlashWired (a gay mainstream sci-fi novella) and a entry in a rafflecopter to win an Amazon gift card.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Come over to the Dreamspinner Facebook page on Tuesday 17th 11am EST (4pm GMT) and get the chance to win a Gilded Scarab coffee travel mug.
Go on from there to Rainbow Book Reviews Facebook page on Tuesday 17th at 5pm EST (that’s 10pm GMT) to talk about both Gilded Scarab and my other new release, Gyrfalcon, and get the chance to win a Gilded Scarab or a Gyrfalcon iPad cover.
Come over to Wilde City on Facebook, the 18 February, for the Gyrfalcon launch to and you might just be the lucky person to win a rocket ship pen (it makes landing noises! How is that not the most desirable thing on the planet?)
Anna Butler was a communications specialist for many years, working in UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to running an internal TV service. She now spends her time indulging her love of old-school science fiction. She lives in the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockapoo.