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Excerpt from The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy

by Mackenzi Lee

The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee X
The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2018, 464 pages

    Paperback:
    May 2020, 480 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Michelle Anya Anjirbag
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Stitched, bandaged, and sorted. I haven't even broken a sweat.

A year of men telling me I am incapable of this work only gives my pride a more savage edge, and I feel, for the first time in so many long, cold, discouraging months, that I am as clever and capable and fit for the medical profession as any of the men who have denied me a place in it.

I wipe my hands off on my skirt and straighten, surveying the bakery. In addition to every other task that needs doing before we close up for the night, the dishes will need to be rewashed. There's a long dribble of blood along the floor that will have to be scrubbed before it dries, another on my sleeve, and a splatter across Callum's apron that should be soaked out before tomorrow. There is also a fingertip to be disposed of.

Beside me, Callum takes a long, deep breath and lets it hiss out between pursed lips as he examines his hand. "Well, this rather spoils the night."

"We were just washing up."

"Well, I had something ... else." He pushes his chin against his chest. "For you."

"Can it wait?" I ask. I'm already calculating how long this will leave Callum useless over the ovens, whether Mr. Brown will be able to lend a hand, how much this will cut into my time off this week, which I had planned to use to begin a draft of a treaty in favor of educational equality.

"No, it's not ... I mean, I suppose ... it could, but ..." He's picking at the edges of the bandage but stops before I can reprimand him. He's still pale, but a bit of the ruddiness is starting to return to the apples of his cheeks. "It's not something that will last."

"Is it something for eating?" I ask.

"Something of a ... just ... stay there." He wobbles to his feet in spite of my protestations and disappears into the kitchen. I hadn't noticed anything special when I was mixing the wine and vinegar, but I also hadn't been particularly looking for it. I check my fingers for blood, then swipe a clean one over the iced bun I had previously targeted. "Don't strain yourself," I call to him.

"I'm not," he replies, immediately followed by a crash like something tin knocked over. "I'm fine. Don't come back here!"

He appears behind the counter again, more red-faced than before and one sleeve sopping with what must have been the milk he so raucously spilled. He's also clutching a fine china plate before him in presentation, and upon it sits a single, perfect cream puff.

My stomach drops, the sight of that pastry sending a tremble through me that a waterfall of blood had not.

"What are you eating?" he asks at the same moment I say "What is that?"

He sets the plate on the counter, then holds out his uninjured hand in presentation. "It's a cream puff."

"I can see that."

"It is, more specifically, because I know you love specificity—"

"I do, yes."

"—exactly the cream puff I gave you the day we met." His smile falters, and he qualifies, "Well, not exactly that one. As that was months ago. And since you ate that one, and several more—"

"Why did you make me this?" I look down at the two choux halves with whorls of thick cream sculpted between them—he's never this careful with his craftsmanship, his loaves and cakes the kind of rustic you'd expect to be made by a big-handed baker of good Scotch stock. But this is so deliberate and decorative and—zounds, I can't believe I know exactly what type of pastry this is and how important it is to let the flour mixture cool before whisking in the egg. All this baking nonsense is taking up important space in my head that should be filled with notations on treating popliteal aneurisms and the different types of hernias outlined in Treaties on Ruptures, which I took great pains to memorize.

"Maybe we should sit down," he says. "I'm a little ... faint."

Excerpted from The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee. Copyright © 2018 by Mackenzi Lee. Excerpted by permission of Katherine Tegan Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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