Excerpt from The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Girl in His Shadow

by Audrey Blake

The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake X
The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake
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    May 2021, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Cook
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Print Excerpt


Mrs. Phipps was speechless, but decided to overlook his callous words. She'd won.



CHAPTER 1
Thirteen years later. 1845.

Nora pushed a wayward curl off her damp forehead. The morning fog on the Thames refused to lift, collecting the summer heat like a wet rag spread over the city. Fetid odors lingered in the streets, insinuating their way into the house. Even Nora's tolerant nose wrinkled. She pressed a scented handkerchief to her face and hastened to answer the front door.

Another candidate. They needed a new hallboy, one with rare and expensive qualities: Dr. Croft's household required servants who were quiet and discreet. So far, Nora's interviews had been unsuccessful. Teeth on edge, she tripped over the wrinkled rug in the hall and cursed quietly, half for the rug and half for a boy who didn't know to use the back entrance.

With an annoyed frown, she yanked open the door. "I expected you around back," she announced.

"Pardon?"

Nora's eyes adjusted to the fierce outdoor light. Oh no. Certainly not a hallboy. This was a man, a tall one, wearing a neat beard that failed to hide his youth. He carried an expensive beaver hat in his hands. Nora dusted her hands against her wrinkled skirt and rearranged her face into a flustered smile. "I'm terribly sorry. May I help you?"

He hesitated. "Was I supposed to go to the back? Is that where the clinic is situated?"

Ah. A new patient, a Mayfair one by the looks of him.

Nora blushed and wondered why he'd come here instead of sending for Dr. Croft. Perhaps he was suffering from a private complaint, the sort of malady that came from raucous clubs and free women. This one was handsome—handsome enough to get himself into that kind of trouble. People traveled further afield to conceal such things from their neighbors. Or wives.

Nora cleared her throat. "I'm so sorry. I'm afraid Dr. Croft had to go out. They needed him at hospital to cover another doctor's lecture. If you come back in an hour… Or you could come in and wait." Please don't let him come in and wait. She'd been too busy this morning with interviews to examine the state of the parlor.

"I'm happy to wait. Perhaps I could look the consulting rooms over?"

Nora blinked. Had she offended him? After coming all the way to Great Queen Street, did he think their clinic inferior? True, the neighborhood was faded and the house shabby, but the clinic was bright and pristine.

"Or if my room is ready, I could unpack my bags," he said.

"Bags?" Only at that moment did Nora see the luggage beside him on the front stoop. Did he intend to stay? There were no surgeries scheduled for the day, but that didn't mean Dr. Croft hadn't promised something and forgotten to inform Nora.

"I'm afraid I'm caught out," Nora admitted. "I didn't know Dr. Croft was expecting an overnight patient, but I'm happy to prepare a room."

"I'm sorry," the man replied, not sounding apologetic at all. "I think we're confused. Let me make a proper introduction. I am Dr. Daniel Gibson, the new under surgeon."

Her mouth fell open. "Under surgeon of what?" she finally managed to ask.

He withdrew the outstretched hand she had failed to notice. "Of this establishment. Dr. Croft hired me. Surely he spoke of me…" Dr. Gibson's voice trailed off as he took in her shocked face.

The day had come—hot and monotonous and like every other morning, except today she found herself staring into the face of her own replacement. He smiled. Was he trying to charm her?

Taking advantage of her surprise, the man picked up his bags and stepped into the hall. His shoes were impossibly shiny after navigating their busy street, as if dust refused to cling to him.

Mrs. Phipps appeared at Nora's elbow. Good. An ally. "Is there a problem here?"

Excerpted from The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake. Copyright © 2021 by Audrey Blake. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks Landmark. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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