that I get to share the news!
Author Kathleen Baldwin, be sure to check out all the details below.
copy of the book, US Only, courtesy of Kathleen and Rockstar Book Tours. So if
you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this
NIGHTINGALE (Stranje House #4)
Nightingale is the highly anticipated fourth installment in the popular
award-winning Stranje House YA series! #1 New York Times best-selling
author Meg Cabot calls this romantic Regency adventure series
“completely original and totally engrossing.”
the first sentence.” —New York Times Sunday Book Review on A
School for Unusual Girls
winning series here: her characters are intriguing and fully rendered.” —Booklist,
on Refuge for Masterminds
Europe to its knees, and now he plots to seize control of Britain.
mystery of India with her…
lives in deadly peril, Miss Maya Barrington, one of Miss Stranje’s unusual
girls, must serve as a double agent. To do so, she gains entry into Napoleon’s
duplicitous game on the arm of the enigmatic Lord Kinsworth. She can read
almost everyone; not so with this young rascal. Quick with a jest and armed
with lethal charm, Kinsworth remains just beyond her reach. Can she trust him?
future at risk and those she loves in deadly peril, Maya questions everything
she thought she understood about life, love, and loyalty.
genre-blending, romance, and action will love this speculative history
Regency-era novel filled with spunky heroines, handsome young lords, and
dastardly villains–fourth in the Stranje House series. Don’t miss the first
three books: A School for Unusual Girls, Exile for Dreamers, and Refuge
alternative history series entry and a must-have for teen libraries.” —School
Library Journal on Refuge for Masterminds
alternative history series will appeal to fans of Gail Carriger’s works and The
Cecelia and Kate novels by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer.” —School
Library Journal on A School for Unusual Girls
has escaped his imprisonment on Elba. Britain is at war on four fronts. And at
Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, five young ladies are secretly being
trained for a world of spies, diplomacy, and war…
of England is underway and someone at Stranje House is sneaking information to
his spies. Lady Jane Moore is determined to find out who it is. If anyone can
discover the traitor, it is Jane—for, according to headmistress Emma Stranje,
Lady Jane is a mastermind.
consider herself a mastermind. It’s just that she tends to grasp the facts of a
situation quickly, and by doing so, she’s able to devise and implement a
sensible course of action. Is Jane enough of a mastermind to save the brash
young American inventor Alexander Sinclair, her friends at Stranje House, and
possibly England itself?
FOR DREAMERS (Stranje House #2)
first captivating installment in the Stranje House series for young adults by
award-winning author Kathleen Baldwin. #1 New York Times bestselling
author Meg Cabot calls this romantic Regency adventure “completely
original and totally engrossing.”
Tess can’t run far enough or fast enough to escape the prophetic dreams that
haunt her. Dreams bring nothing but death and grief, and Tess refuses to accept
that she may be destined for the same madness that destroyed her mother. Until
her disturbing dreams become the only means of saving Lord Ravencross, the man
she loves, and her friends at Stranje House from Lady Daneska and her lover,
the Ghost-agent of Napoleon, who has escaped from Elba. Can the young ladies of
Stranje House prevail once more? Or is England destined to fall into the hands
of the power-mad dictator?
“Enticing from the first sentence.” –New York Times Book Review
A School for Unusual Girls is a great next read for fans of Gail Carriger’s
Finishing School series and Robin LaFevers’ His Fair Assassin series.
is exiled on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And
Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, has become one of Regency England’s
dark little secrets. The daughters of the beau monde who don’t fit high
society’s constrictive mold are banished to Stranje House to be reformed into
marriageable young ladies. Or so their parents think. In truth, Headmistress
Emma Stranje, the original unusual girl, has plans for the young ladies—plans
that entangle the girls in the dangerous world of spies, diplomacy, and war.
After accidentally setting her father’s stables on fire while performing a
scientific experiment, Miss Georgiana Fitzwilliam is sent to Stranje House. But
Georgie has no intention of being turned into a simpering, pudding-headed,
marriageable miss. She plans to escape as soon as possible—until she meets Lord
Sebastian Wyatt. Thrust together in a desperate mission to invent a new invisible
ink for the English war effort, Georgie and Sebastian must find a way to work
together without losing their heads—or their hearts…
1814, Mayfair, London, Haversmythe House
Stranje hosts a coming-out ball for her young ladies
world is sound. Even if I were blind, I would still be able to see. It is as
everything hums—the trees, air, stones, and people—especially people. They all
are more dangerous than others.
the guests have already arrived at the ball, and our receiving line is
Lady Jane, and Tess left us to join a lively country-dance. Seraphina still
beside me. Her inner music wraps around her as delicately as does the silk of
ballgown. With her white-blonde hair, Sera is the closest thing to an angel I
have ever seen. On my other side, stands our rock, our headmistress, Miss
Stranje, a woman made of iron.
footman at the doors announces another arrival. “Lord and Lady Barrington.”
and his wife stand in the doorway. The instruments playing serenely within
to a stop and clatter to the floor of my soul.
hand against my heart to keep it from flapping and shrieking like a strangled
Seraphina edges closer so that our shoulders touch. She is trying to lend me
ballroom overflows with people. Dozens of strangers clad in shimmering finery,
us, laughing and talking, but my very English stepmother ignores them all and
straight for the receiving line. She holds her nose aloft, and her mouth
that her porcelain white face looks almost skeletal. An out of tune clarinet,
toward us, every step making me wish I could stop up my ears.
she is beautiful. My father certainly must have thought so. I fail to see it,
when her face prunes up as it is doing now. It is a familiar expression. One
that causes me to quake nervously while simultaneously clenching my fists.
That is what I was instructed to call her. I cannot bring myself to do it.
is a title of sacred honor. This woman, whose
soul honks like an out of tune oboe, hasn’t the faintest motherly inclination
toward me. To me, she will never be anything more than the woman who married my
father. Never mind that my mother, his first wife, was a Maharajah’s daughter.
To the new Lady Barrington, I am merely the brown-skinned embarrassment her
husband acquired in India. Her hate roars at me like high tide slamming against
a rocky shore.
and her blond sausage curls quiver with distaste as she plants herself squarely
of Miss Stranje. She does not curtsey or even nod in response to our
trickle out so sweetly that most people would not notice she is gritting her
she utters them. “Miss Stranje, a word if you please.”
Seraphina notices. She notices everything—it is her gift. And her curse.
for my hand to reassure me. Of the five of us, we who are Miss Stranje’s
students, Seraphina Wyndham is the only one who truly understands me, and I do
not want my best friend to suffer if she is caught being supportive of me. So,
I smile reassuringly and slip free of her fingers. This is my battle, and I
must face it alone.
my arm as I step away and furtively whispers, “Do something. Calm her.”
everyone else at Stranje House, mistakenly thinks my voice contains some sort
power to soothe. It is much simpler than that. My grandmother taught me how to
use certain tones and cadences to relax people and communicate tranquility.
Most souls are more than receptive, they hunger for it. My father’s wife is a
different matter. I have tried in the past, and rather than succumb to my
calming tactics, she resists. On several occasions, she even covered her ears
and screeched at me. I remember well her accusations of witchcraft and demonic
bedevilment. It was on those grounds she convinced my father to send me away to
for Miss Stranje’s sake, Lady Barrington would let me quiet her rat-like
and bite. Although, I’m not worried. I am confident our headmistress has
guessed what is coming and will manage my father’s wife quite handily without
my help. After all, a rat does not surprise an owl.
Lady Barrington.” Miss Stranje graciously directs our bristling guest to the
the receiving line.
charming wife clasps my shoulder and propels me forward with her. I could not
soothe her now. I’m not nearly composed enough to do it. Indeed, I am battling
an overwhelming inclination to yank her boney claw from my shoulder and twist
it until she cries off.
you done, Miss Stranje?” Lady Barrington releases me and waves her hand
ensemble. She is objecting to Miss Stranje’s ingenious innovation, a
traditional sari draped over an English ballgown.
you dressed the child thus?” Lady Barrington’s fingers close in a fist around
embroidered veil covering my hair. “I’m mortified! You’ve garbed her like a
this is an affront to everyone here.” She flicks the saffron silk away as if it
has soiled her gloves. “How do you expect Lord Barrington and myself to weather
this . . . this outrage!”
so loud that some of our guests turn to stare.
enormous sum we paid you, it is beyond my comprehension why you should
Barrington!” Miss Stranje’s tone chops through the woman’s tirade. “Calm
Our headmistress stands a good four or five inches taller than most women, and
she straightens to make every inch count. “You sadly mistake the matter, my
lady. The other guests are well acquainted with your husband’s daughter. In
fact, a few weeks ago she was invited by no less a personage than Lady Jersey
to sing at Carlton House for the Prince Regent. Miss Barrington’s voice
impressed His Highness so greatly that he, the highest authority in
the land, suggested your stepdaughter ought to be declared a national
Lady Barrington blinks at this news, but her astonishment is short-lived. She
throat and steps up emboldened. “Oh, that. I am well aware of Maya’s
ability to mesmerize others with her voice. She uses demonic trickery, and you
ought not allow—”
Stranje leans forward, her tone low and deadly. “Are you unaware of the fact
Castlereagh issued Miss Barrington vouchers for Almack’s?”
. . .” Lady Barrington sputters at the mention of high society’s most exclusive
social club. Her hands flutter to her mouth in disbelief. “No. That can’t be.
Lady Castlereagh approved of her?” She glances sideways at me and her
upper lips curls as if she tastes something foul in the air.
vouchers were signed and sealed by the great lady herself.” Miss Stranje’s face
into a mask of hardened steel under which most people tremble in fear. “Not to put
too fine a point on it, my lady, but Miss Barrington has been granted entry
into the highest social circles. And, more to the point, it is my understanding
that the patronesses refused to grant you vouchers. You were denied, is that
Barrington steps back, unwilling to answer, a hand clutching her throat.
Stranje refuses to let her quarry wriggle away. “In fact, my dear lady, anyone
planning a soiree or ball during the remainder of the season, anyone who is
anyone, has invited Miss Barrington to attend. I have stacks of invitations,
dozens of notes, all of them begging your husband’s daughter to do them the
honor of singing at their gatherings. Indeed, society has taken her under their
wing so thoroughly I had rather thought you would be offering me a bonus,
instead of this ill-conceived reprimand.”
Stranje turns and levels a shrewd gaze at my father, who until this moment
a hand on his wife’s waist and moves her aside. This stranger, this formidable
who I used to call Papa with such glee, steps up to my headmistress and takes her
measure. After a moment that stretches long enough to hammer my stomach into mincemeat,
he nods respectfully. “Very well, Miss Stranje. I shall send additional
remuneration to you in the morning.”
gasps, and indignation squeals off her like sour yellow gas.
to me and reaches for my hand. Every instinct in me shouts to pull back. Do
let him touch you. It has been many long years since I
have seen anything resembling a fatherly mannerism from him. I am terrified of
what I might feel, and yet even more terrified of what I might miss if I pull
intake of breath crosses my lips, but then all other sounds cease. I no longer
laughter or talking from the guests in the ballroom. No footsteps. No shuffling
The hum of impenetrable silence muffles everything else as I watch him lift my hand.
bows slightly, the way all the other gentlemen did as they came through the
line. He holds my fingers loosely as if we are mere acquaintances. “You look
Maya, very much like your mother.” He straightens, and I think I hear a whiff
soft keening, low and mournful. Except it is so brief and distant, I cannot be
her fire in your eyes. She would be proud.” He squares his shoulders. “I’m
see you making your way in the world—flourishing on your own.”
summon enough breath for words, I dip in an English curtsey that has
habit. When I am able to speak, it sounds embarrassingly weak and fluttery,
like a frightened bird. “I am glad you think so, my lord.”
of my gloved fingers, offers his arm to his wife, and leaves me. Without a
he walks away. His measured gait is aloof and elegant, no different from that
of a hundred other strangers in this room. The hollow thump of his heels as he
me hurts far worse than anything the spiteful woman he married has ever said.
that I had not allowed him to touch me. I ought to have run from the
would be better than this grinding loneliness that darkens my insides. I
rather rip out my heart than to fall into the chasm threatening to swallow me.
I’ve been in that dark place before.
dismisses me without a second thought sends me spiraling back to India.
again, in the stifling heat of his sickroom. Worried, I sneaked in to see him
quietly at the foot of his bed. Fear thumped through me like an elephant march
as I watched him thrash under the sheets, fevered with the same epidemic that
had only days earlier taken my mother’s life.
his wide-eyed alarm when he noticed me standing by his bedpost. I was only six,
but I can still hear his hoarse shout for the servants. “Get her out of here.
Send her away!”
want to stay with you. Let me stay with you,” I begged. Crying, I clung to his
refusing to leave.
the chi—” Retching cut his rebuke short. Next came a string of muffled
miss. You cannot stay. Your father is very sick.” Servants dragged me, kicking
screaming from his room. Later, my ayah told me Papa wanted me to stay
away so that I would not catch his illness. I will never know if that was true
or not. My ayah may have been trying to spare my feelings. I do remember
telling her I didn’t care if I got sick and died. I would rather stay with my
No, little girl. You must not say such things.” She brushed my hair until it
like my papa’s black boots. “You will live, child. I see this. The future
are gende ka phool.” She pulled a marigold out of a small vase and
placed it in my palms. “Protector. Sun lion.” I touched the bright orange
petals and thought to myself, what good is such a small flower. It is too
fragile—too easily crushed.
day, on Papa’s orders, his secretary, a fusty man with little patience for
children, escorted me to my grandmother’s family in the north. My father sent
me away from the only world I’d ever known. On that long trip, loneliness and
hurt chewed me up. Why would he send me so far away? Was he too sick? Or was
his grief too heavy for him to share in mine? Perhaps my black hair and olive
skin reminded him too much of my dead mother.
because she was gone that he no longer cared for me?
traveled for days and days, journeying toward the great mountains, land of the
and all the way there, sadness gnawed on my soul.
Europeans had ever ventured to the old villages and cities along the rivers.
and distrustful of my white escort. He had difficulty finding a guide, and even
did, we made several wrong turns. I did not care. Numb with grief, certain my
would die, or that he no longer loved me. I was already a lost child. What did
we wandered forever?
several treacherous river crossings, our guide located my family’s village on
River. The weary attaché deposited me and my trunks in their midst and
sat in the dirt beside my baggage, completely abandoned. The last ember of hope
inside me and blew out.
who I would learn later were my cousins and aunts, gathered in a circle
staring, their faces ripe with curiosity and suspicion. Half-English,
half-Indian, I was an unwelcome oddity, who belonged nowhere. I sat in the
center of their circle, feeling like an oddly painted lizard. Did they judge me
poisonous? Or edible?
joyous cry startled me. Astonished, I stood up. In my exhausted state, amidst
confusion, I briefly mistook her voice for my mother’s. I stared at the old
toward me. The voice, although eerily similar, did not belong to my dead
belonged to my grandmother.
through her gathered kinsman, took one look at me, and opened her arms.
learned later she had only visited me once as an infant, she kissed my forehead
me, rocking and murmuring in Hindi. In tears, she declared to all my cousins
that I was her daughter returned home.
my naanii, did not care about my mixed blood. She had no qualms about
her half-caste granddaughter the ways of her people. Others in our village were
not so quick to trust me. I was half-English, after all. But out of respect for
my grandmother, they kept their opinions to themselves. Naanii taught me
how to make bread, how to mix healing herbs, braid hair, sew, and a thousand
importantly, Naanii taught me to listen.
the world around us.
over, she told me, “All life sings a song if we will but stop and listen.”
standing on the banks of the river washing clothes. “Close your eyes, little
said. “Quiet your mind and tell me what you hear?”
to her kinswoman standing in the shallows scrubbing her laundry against the
hear Kanishka humming a contented tune.”
ever patient, smiled and asked, “And the stones, little one, what do they
and closed my eyes tight, listening for subtler vibrations. “They are old, Naanii.
voices are quiet and deep. I can hardly hear them. Kanishka sings too loudly,
wind in the trees and grass.” I opened my eyes. “And the river is especially
nodded, wrung out the cloth she’d been laundering, and set it in her basket.
true. Water is bold and brash. Very noisy.” She galloped her fingers through
rushing to and fro. River thinks she is all-powerful. You must try harder, my
the calm voice of the stones.” She laid a smooth pebble in my palm and pointed to
one of the large rocks jutting up, splitting the current of the river. “Do you
feel it? The mighty waters push and shove with the strength of a hundred
horses, yet that boulder is unmoved. Hear how deep it hums, how sure it is of
its connection with mother earth.”
later, I would hear the stones sing, but not that day. That day I heard my
grandmother, not just her words; I heard the unfathomable vibrations of her
soul. It was as if she was as ancient and knowing as the stones of which she
were still standing on the banks of the Tawi River. Instead, I am here in
many sounds roaring in my ears—the babble of our many guests, the rumble of the
city seeping up through the bones of this house. My father has taken me half a
world away from the person who loves me best in all the world. Even though she
is thousands of miles away, I close my eyes, hoping to catch my grandmother’s
distant pulse. I try to block out all the other noises, searching for those
melodic threads that run between us even at this great distance.
Maya! Are you all right?” Lady Jane rests her hand on my shoulder and startles
my search. She and Sera stare at me expectantly. “The musicians are tuning up for
a quadrille. We are about to return to the dancing. But you seem shaken, what’s
Lady Jane, wondering how to answer. I am not all right, as she phrases
can I say, here in this jangling place. “Yes, I hear the music,” I say, and try
to smile as if it is an important observation, as if the frivolity of dancing
lightens my heart.
says skeptically, and takes my hand, pulling me along with her like the
river carrying a piece of driftwood. I feel her questions clamoring to be
asked, but luckily, I also know Lady Jane will restrain herself. This is not
the time or place for that sort of discussion. She glances around the room and
spots Alexander Sinclair. Immediately she brightens, and I feel joy pulse
through her fingertips.
arm, we face both the music and crowd together.
author, Kathleen Baldwin, loves adventure in books and in real life. She taught
rock climbing in the Rockies, survival camped in the desert, was stalked by a
mountain lion, lost an argument with a rattlesnake, enjoyed way too many
classes in college, fell in love at least a dozen times, and married her very
own hero. Together they’ve raised four free-spirited adventurous children.
GIRLS is her first historical romance for Young Adults. Awarded 2016 Spirit of
Texas, it is also a Junior Library Guild selection. Publisher’s Lunch listed it
in 2015 YA BookBuzz. Scholastic licensed it for book fairs. Ian Bryce, producer
of Spiderman, Saving Private Ryan, and other notable films optioned the series
bestselling author Meg Cabot calls Kathleen’s romantic Regency adventure,
“completely original and totally engrossing.”