Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Promo Tour: Refuge for Masterminds by Kathleen Baldwin

Title: Refuge for Masterminds
Author: Kathleen Baldwin
Genre/Age: Historical Fantasy/YA
Series: Stranje House Series (Book Three)
Publisher: Tor Teen
SynopsisLady Jane Moore has a secret. A secret that must be kept buried. If anyone discovered the truth, her life at Stranje House would crumble. And with Napoleon Bonaparte threatening to invade England, everyone at Stranje House is already in mortal danger.

There’s a traitor in the house. Someone is sneaking information to Napoleon’s spies, Lady Daneska and Ghost. Jane is determined to find out who it is before suspicions rip apart the bonds of friendship at Stranje House. Her desperate hunt for the traitor ensnares a brash young American inventor, Alexander Sinclair, Robert Fulton’s nephew, into an ambush that puts his life in danger. Sinclair is the most maddening young man in all of Christendom, a sharp-tongued rascal with boorish manners, but Lady Jane cannot bear the thought of the golden-haired genius being harmed.

Is Jane enough of a mastermind to save Alexander, her friends at Stranje House, and possibly England itself?

Fans of Gail Carriger, Patricia Wrede, and Caroline Stevermer will love this Regency-era alternate history filled with spunky heroines, handsome young lords, and dastardly villains.

A Short Excerpt from:
Chapter 22

(Lady Daneska and Ghost have captured Jane as bait to blackmail Alexander Sinclair. Daneska has Jane alone and plans to torture her, but gets distracted.)

Lady Daneska shakes her head and paces up and down. “I hate you, Jane. You know that, don’t you?”

I almost laugh. “I’d be a fool to think otherwise. So get it over with—kill me and prove Tess wrong.”

She draws her knife and holds it next to my face. “Maybe I’ll just make you ugly. Then everyone will stop loving you.”

She presses the blade against my cheek. “Don’t be ridiculous. No one loves me because I’m pretty. I’m plain.”

“Yes. Yes, you are. Plain, with those no-color eyes—”


“What kind of color is hazel? Boring. Just like your hair. And your thin-lipped mouth.”

“My lips aren’t thin.”

“Plain.” She draws back the knife. “Why do they love you?” It is the most sincere question I’ve ever heard her ask. Then she has to go and ruin it all. “Tell me what it is they love about you. I’ll carve it out, and send it to them in a teeny tiny box.” She looks down at me with disgust.

“Where did he cut you?” She pulls up my dress and stares at my leg. Then she yanks it aside so I can see. “Look! He bandaged you. He does not do that. Lucien does not bandage people.” She presses on my wound and makes it ooze afresh. “Does it hurt?” She pokes it again just to see me wince. “That’s going to leave an ugly scar.”

Her gaze shifts to his cot. “That is his blanket around your shoulders. Mein Gott he tucked you in—Ghost did this!”

“I wouldn’t know. I was unconscious.”

She flings down my skirts, snatches his blanket away and throws it in a wad onto his cot, stomps back, and kicks my chair. She points the tip of her knife straight at my nose. “What is it you have over people?”

Careful not to move or even breathe, I say, “Nothing. I suspect he was just keeping me alive so you can force Mr. Sinclair to do your bidding.”

“Maybe.” She backs away an inch. “He said he wants you alive.” She mocks his commanding tone. “We will get more out of Sinclair if the girl is still breathing.” She waves her arm, encompassing the whole room. “Still, he didn’t have to cover you with his blanket. Tell me, what it is they all love about you? This Mr. Sinclair. Miss Stranje. All of them. Why do they care about you?”

“I don’t know.” That is the pure truth.

“What is it you give them?”

I try to shrug, as much as possible with my ribs tied to a chair. That’s when I notice Ghost must’ve loosened the ropes Jack tied so tight around my midsection, probably so I could breathe properly. “I have no idea. Perhaps they feel gratitude because I do my best to take care of them. I organize their plans and advise—”

“What? Are you mad? No, no, no. This is not the answer.” She waggles the knife at me as if it is her finger. “No one above the age of seven wants a nanny. And no one likes their governess.”

“I did.”

“Well, no one else does. Take my word on it.”

A nanny? A governess? Is that what I am to them? I blink. “If that’s not it, I have no idea why they would care about me. Maybe it’s simply because I love them.”


Stranje House is an odd place at night when everyone is asleep. A young lady given to flights of imagination might feel as if the walls are leaning in as she walks through the unlit hallways. I, however, do not indulge in such far-fetched thoughts. I’m quite certain that moaning sound is nothing more than wind breathing through the secret passages.
* * *
This traitor moves in secret, slowly stealing away the confidence we have in one another’s loyalty. She is a disease, rotting us from the inside out. For what are we without trust?
* * *
What would they have me do? Sit back and twiddle my thumbs when trouble is brewing? Not ruddy likely. Not when people I care about are in danger. I was born an earl’s daughter. It’s only natural that when difficulties arise, I do what must be done and take the reins in hand.
* * *
Truth is, I would wade through a snake filled bog if need be. Stranje House is my refuge, my sanctuary. I’ll protect it or die trying.
* * *
Can it be that all mothers possess the power to both break and mend the souls of their children?
* * *
Alexander pulls several twigs out of my tangled hair. “There’s another possibility. The way I saw it, that fellow had a pistol tucked inside that great big coat of his. If there hadn’t been two of us, I figure he would’ve pulled it out and blown your pretty little brains out all over the forest floor.”

He has a point, but I refuse to credit it. “Don’t be ridiculous.” I cough up something that must’ve flown in my mouth during the tumble. “My brains aren’t little.”
* * *
His lips curve up into a wry half smile. I wait for the stinging barb he is sure to fling at me, but Alexander does not parry with a sharp-witted reply. Instead, he lets my teasing words drift on the night breeze, floating along with us like the last savory notes of a violin sonata.
* * *
There is a magnificent ferociousness about our headmistress. I’d wager a considerable sum she could stop a person’s heart from beating simply by applying that cold hard glare of hers. If she can’t make a heart stop altogether, she is certainly able to make it a skip a few beats.

I want to be just like her someday.
* * *
Maya rests her hand on my shoulder. “You must trust that wisdom will come when you need it. You were made for a time such as this.”
* * *
There is a language every sister knows, a language tender beyond words and rarely spoken. It runs like a string between two hearts, and we only pluck that string in times of trouble.
* * *
Alexander is wearing a new set of clothes, his shirt is clean and neatly pressed, the cravat articulately tied rather than hanging in a haphazard loop, and even his hair is freshly combed.

He . . . he looks . . . like a gentleman.

I find this unsettling in the extreme. He ought to look like our rough, unpolished Mr. Sinclair. Not this pattern-card Adonis. I have a nearly irresistible urge to go and mess him up, to rumple his shirt, to tousle his hair, and to muddle up his cravat.

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, spent way too long in college, fell in love and married her very own hero.

A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS, the first book in the alternate history series for teens, was awarded Spirit of Texas in 2016, is a Junior Library Guild selection, and Kansas NEA Reading Circle gave it a starred review in their 2016 “Best of the Best” for High Schools. Ian Bryce, producer of Spiderman, Saving Private Ryan, and other notable films optioned the series for film.

REFUGE FOR MASTERMINDS, Book 3 in the Stranje House series, releases May 23rd.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot calls this romantic Regency adventure, "completely original and totally engrossing."

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