Corroded: Book Three of The St. Croix Chronicles

Corroded: Book Three of The St. Croix Chronicles

4.2 4
by Karina Cooper
     
 

Book three of The St. Croix Chronicles

Hungry for vengeance, Cherry St. Croix is forced to the fog-ridden streets of Victorian London.

My rival, a collector of bounties like myself, has murdered one of my own. In consequence, I have been removed from my house, my staff and all who would support me. I have nowhere else to turn, so I beg

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Overview

Book three of The St. Croix Chronicles

Hungry for vengeance, Cherry St. Croix is forced to the fog-ridden streets of Victorian London.

My rival, a collector of bounties like myself, has murdered one of my own. In consequence, I have been removed from my house, my staff and all who would support me. I have nowhere else to turn, so I beg asylum within the Midnight Menagerie, London's decadent pleasure garden.

Micajah Hawke's dominance there will not tolerate my presence for long. I am fixated on revenge, but I walk a razor's edge under his scrutiny. His wicked power is not easily ignored, and I must not allow myself to submit—no matter how sweet the sacrifice.

Challenging my rival to a race is the only way to end this—no small task when the quarry is the murderous Jack the Ripper. As my enemies close in, I fear the consequences of this hunt. I am trapped between two killers, and what doesn't kill me may leave its scars forever.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
12/01/2013
Cherry St. Croix attempts to collect the two bounties that have brought her to this extreme low in her life: the one on Jack the Ripper and the one Midnight Menagerie has placed on the murderer of its "sweets," the prostitutes that the pleasure garden employs, because he made Cherry a widow. VERDICT Cherry's journey will break readers' hearts as the pages turn toward a stunning conclusion. [Xpress Reviews, 10/25/13.]—Marlene Harris, Seattle P.L.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781426896392
Publisher:
Carina Press
Publication date:
09/23/2013
Series:
St. Croix Chronicles , #1
Sold by:
HARLEQUIN
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
239,645
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt


A fortnight after my husband was murdered, I exhibited a severe allergy to sobriety.

Nightmares plagued first my sleep, then haunted me through every waking hour. In order to maintain what sanity I had left, I chewed the opium that was so much easier to attain now that I had taken my shelter below London's foggy drift.

Laudanum alone could not accomplish what the resin of Turk's bliss would.

It became a rote as unthinking as breathing. A bit of tar before I sought my rest. Another bit more upon waking, to ease the ache of the night's passing. I swallowed it when the anxieties of the fortnight's events wrapped around my chest, tighter than any corset I'd ever worn, and squeezed the living breath from me.

I licked the bitter medicine for courage and I choked it down to forget.

Revenge tasted best when laced with the cinnamon-sharp draught of laudanum, but such liquid was more difficult to carry and hold than the wax-wrapped bit of opium I had taken to keeping in my pocket. And certainly the ruby solution I'd grown to require could not compare to the long, narrow tube I now held in my hands, its fragrant smoke drifting through my nostrils and into my hazy, addled mind.

While I imbibed, freely and without thought for consequence, I could not bring myself to grieve.

I was on a charge. Or, rather, I should have been.

My name is Cherry St. Croix, and I am a collector. I hunt men for bounties—for coin delivered upon successful conveyance of vagrants, degenerates and those too far in debt to allow to roam free. Were I anywhere else but in a Limehouse opium den buried beneath the choking fog of London low, I would be Lady Compton, grieving widow to the late Cornelius Kerrigan Compton, Earl Compton, and certainly I would not be a collector of any stripe.

A countess could not set so much as a dainty slipper beneath the foggy drift without every periodical from here to the remote Orkneys shouting the scandal.

Of course, I had served as a collector for longer than I'd ever been a countess—five of my twenty years compared to five hours a bride; and the former a secret affectation, beside.

A fortnight as a widow, and I had not yet relinquished my collector's role. Here, in this shabbily furnished parlor with the stained brown walls and shoddy, threadbare settees and chairs, I could simply be a street boy, with my soot-blackened hair hidden beneath a floppy cap, and my clothing deliberately large to disguise the specially designed collecting corset I wore beneath.

If any of the lolling, idle patrons of this dimly lit Chinese den considered me more than a slightly rotund youth, there was no word, no glance, no questions. Only the brief brush of work-rimed, callused fingers against mine as the pipe passed into my hands and out again, and the sweet, almost lyrical orchestra of voices raised in absent conversation.

The idle gossip of Jack the Ripper, that mad murderer stalking Whitechapel's doxies and dollymops, could not chill the warmth of the pipe. The crimes the fiend perpetrated in the depths of smoke-blackened night turned all of London on its ear, and to date, even Scotland Yard's finest had failed to suss out the criminal's identity—for all that, these things did not sour the atmosphere of this dingy place. Truth be told, an evening spent imbibing Chinese opium often made the grimmest news seem tolerable, and even welcome.

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