Thursday, March 31, 2016

Sneak Peek: Kathryn Jordan's FLICKERS

Katharine Kerr, writing as Kathryn Jordan, has a new book out, available from and the publisher.

Flickers turns its lens on California’s glamorous silent film era, as Victorian civilities are swept away by a bold new century.

Here's a delicious tantalizer for your enjoyment:

The female lead in FLICKERS, Violet Winters, is the daughter of a very rich man, a California “robber baron”, during the early years of the Twentieth Century.  She’s her father’s princess. She can have anything she wants, except Jack Sutter, the working class man she truly loves.  In 1913, her family pressures her into marrying the social-climbing Maury Rediston, and as the time for the wedding draws near, members of both families come to join the couple-to-be at Sueño, the Winters’ family estate in Southern California. Some of those family members have troubles of their own . . .

In the afternoon, Violet was sitting out in the shady part of the terrace with Gertie and Jane, gossiping while they drank lemonade. The drowsy warm sun came through the eucalyptus trees and sparkled on the crystal pitcher and glasses of the outside service, that sat on the bentwood ebony serving-cart. From her chair, Violet could see the hills, golden in the sun, and the dark gash of Barranca Grande. While Gertie told a long and pointless story about shopping in downtown San Francisco, Violet found her mind drifting to Jack and his kisses.
ASo anyway,@ Gertie finished up. AMama got the gold one, and Mrs. Hearst just loved it, so it was all right.@  She paused, glancing up. AOh, here's Maury, Vi.@
Maury walked onto the terrace with a young man strolling after him. The family resemblence was so strong that Violet recognized him as Maury's younger brother, but he was the handsomest man she had ever seen, as different from Maury as a peacock from a hawk. He had dark eyes, wide and deep-set under thick lashes, a soft, sensual mouth, almost feminine, but redeemed by a strong, chiseled jaw. His clothes were beautifully cut, a white flannel suit with a dove-gray vest and tie, and a perfect straw boater, tipped back at just the right angle on his dark hair. Gertie and Jane stared so rudely that Violet feared they=d start giggling.
AI'd like you to meet my brother,@ Maury said. AFrazier Rediston.@
AFrazier?@  The brother gave them all a sunny smile. ADon't let old Maury be his usual stiff-necked self. Call me Tip. Everybody does.@
Before Maury could retort, Tip strolled over to Violet's chair. He caught her offered hand, shook it, then leaned down and kissed her soundly on the cheek.

AHow do you do, sister of mine?@ Tip said, grinning. AIt's bully to finally meet you. You should you should see the mushy letters old Maury's been writing me.@
ATip,@ Maury snapped. AWill you--@
AShut up, yes I know.@  Tip turned and gave him a lazy smile. AJust family feeling.@
Violet rose, too flustered to say a word.
AYou live up to the letters by the way,@ Tip said.
Jane giggled, then stuffed the side of her hand into her mouth to keep the giggles in. Tip made her and Gertie a formal bow.
ACharmed, I'm sure,@ Tip said. AEven if Maury's been too rude to introduce us.@
Maury opened his mouth, shut it, then cleared his throat loudly. Violet had the feeling that she had walked into the second act of a very long play. So this is my brother-in-law, she thought, oh my lord!
ATrust my brother to draw all the aces,@ Tip said.
AAnd just what do you mean by that?@ Maury said.
AWell, she's good-looking as well as rich. Who could ask for anything more?@
Maury pointedly returned to his lunch and began to cut a lamb chop into pieces. Tip gave him a good-natured smile, which went unnoticed, and wondered how long it would take Maury to forgive him that scene on the terrace.
They were sitting in the dining-room of the Santa Luisa Union Club, where Maury was a prominent member. A lunch time murmur filled the dark, wood-panelled room as important men talked about business in quiet voices. Waiters in white coats moved through the linen shrouded tables and refilled water glasses from crystal pitchers. Tip and Maury's table stood next to a diamond-paned window with a view of a garden.  Hedges defined squares of ranunculas, and little paths led to an ornamental fountain exactly in the middle of the plot. Since this was, after all, a men's club, the fountain featured the statue of an undraped nymph, who looked both startled and embarrassed to be standing in a pool of mossy water.
AWhat time is Mother's train due in?@ Tip said.
ASoon.@  Maury put his fork down. AAt two-oh-five.@
AIt'll be bully to see her. Swell of Vi to put her up at the old plantation, huh?@
AVery thoughtful, yes. Good god, Tip, your language these days.@
            “Yeah, what's wrong with it?@
AFor starters, I wish you wouldn't say yeah all the time. It's so vulgar. Yes is a perfectly good word.@
AOh boy.@  Tip rolled his eyes heavenward. AAnd aren't we moving up in the old world?  Dad never should have sent you to Harvard, Maury. You've never been the same since.@
AJust shut up.@  Maury took his watch out of his vest- pocket and flipped open the case. AWell, we've got time for coffee.@
ABully. I mean, how splendid.@
Maury scowled, then turned away to signal the waiter. The young waiter, dark-haired and dark-eyed, walked over with an easy, professional grace. While Maury was ordering the coffee, Tip found himself studying the waiter. He  made himself look away and stared out the window until the waiter was gone.
AGhastly fountain, isn't it?@ Maury said. AI'm trying to persuade the steering committee to bring Tom Sutter in to do  that garden over.@
AThe man who landscaped Sueño. I told you about him.@
AOh yeah.@  Tip vaguely remembered. ABully.@
AThe grounds out at Sueño really need some attention. Josiah doesn't really give a damn about them as long as they look expensive.@
ALucky old Maury -- a wife with a view.@
AWill you shut up?@
Tip arranged an expression that he hoped was properly servile. The waiter came back with a coffee service on a silver tray. This time, when Tip glanced his way, the waiter caught the glance and smiled, the barest flicker of interest, hastily suppressed. Tip went cold all over and forced himself to pay attention to Maury.
ADoing something about the ornamental hedges,@ Maury was saying. AThose straight rows are too old-fashioned.@

AYeah?@ Tip wondered which hedges he meant. AFascinating.@

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