Toriana, or more properly The Provincial Union of Victoriana, is the world of Her Ladyship's Curse and His Lordship Possessed, the first two books in my new Disenchanted & Co. urban fantasy series for Pocket Star. Toriana exists because in my alternate history universe America does not win the War of Independence from England, and instead is colonized and developed as provincial mercantilist territories under English rule.
Her Ladyship's Curse takes place in the last half of the nineteenth century in Rumsen, the largest port municipality in Toriana's most western province. Rumsen, which geographically corresponds to San Francisco in our world, is a bustling and prosperous young city. While the many brutalities the Torians suffered during the failed War of Independence have never been forgotten, the hard-working citizens of Rumsen maintain a respectful if uneasy devotion to the Crown.
In Rumsen industry is already well-established and has brought many conveniences to everyday life. Horse-driven transports are slowly being replaced by the carri, a steam-propelled carriage, while food, goods and messages are distributed around the city through a massive and complicated series of underground pneumatic tubes. Even the great mansions up on the city's grand and imposing Nob Hill are slowly embracing modernization, at least among those in service. The elegant and titled inhabitants of the Hill, whose bloodlines mingle with the loftiest of English nobility, rarely trouble themselves with industry or trade.
Most Torians maintain an abiding and unwavering belief in the occult, and magic practitioners and mages are quite common among every level of society. These magic merchants have their own licensed shops and offices, and provide a wide array of mystical services, spells and supplies to the city's population. Like so many Victorian-era medical practitioners in our universe a good percentage of Torian mages are simply charlatans, con artists and outright quacks who have no magic powers at all. By preying on the hopes and fears of desperate people even the worst of the mages have enjoyed brisk and very profitable trade . . . at least until Miss Charmian Kittredge -- known as Kit to her friends and close associates -- came to Rumsen.
The orphaned daughter of two prominent scientists, Kit has never believed in magic. That rationale along with a talent for detecting and exposing frauds has allowed her to built a new life for herself in Rumsen as the proprietor of Disenchanted & Co. Kit's particular skills bring her a steady flow of clients but don't endear her to those who believe in or practice magic. In fact, there's only one mage in Rumsen who doesn't avoid Kit -- Lord Lucien Dredmore, considered to be the most powerful and dangerous mage in all of Toriana -- but fortunately Kit's become an expert at dodging him.
Evading her nemesis also means Kit has to refrain from working for anyone on the Hill, as Dredmore caters exclusively to the Rumsen's wealthiest families. She doesn't find this a problem until she meets Lady Diana Walsh, the young trophy wife of a prominent banker. Lady Walsh believes she's the victim of a vengeful spirit and implores Kit to break the curse cast over her . . . which is where our story opens. To read the first excerpt of Her Ladyship's Curse, click here.