Publishing moves slow, until it doesn’t! I’m so happy to announce that Solaris Books, via their new imprint Solaris Nova, has acquired Netherford Hall and its two sequels (currently titled The Viscount St. Albans and The Game of Hearts).

The pitch is fast and furious: a sapphic Bridgerton with witches. And werewolves, vampires, Fae, and a motley crew of characters. It’s light, romantic, silly, sexy, and joyous, with magic, politics, and of course, lots of fashion. So much fashion, in fact, that it’s the book that inspired ThreadTalk in the first place! Yes, indeed. It was Viola’s chintz dress that got me going on my first research project, and look where we are now.

Netherford Hall is a loose retelling of Pride and Prejudice, where a gentlewitch by the name of Edith Rookwood returns to her family seat in the Kentish countryside search of a wife. She must marry for money, for the family’s money is tied up and dwindling. Of course, Poppy Rookwood–the younger daughter of the tenants living in Harrow House on Edith’s property–both vexes and enchants her. And is totally not the right match.

Add some terrible distant relatives, a monster on the loose, a meddling family, and plenty of misunderstandings and makeups. It’s romantasy for everyone who wished for a little more magic in their Jane Austen books.

Netherford Hall lands on August 2024!

Here’s a little sneak peek of the story, where Auden Garcliffe–Edith’s uncle and majordomo–seeks the help of Molly Hode, the resident Warder, upon arriving in Netherford.

The rain began in earnest just as Auden and Henry left the clothier’s, but thankfully the pub—the Holly and Sickle—was easy to find and both open and dry. It smelled as so many pubs did, of sawdust and salt and ale, but it was neat and bright. In fact, the Holly and Sickle was pristine in terms of cleanliness. The floors were smooth, pale wood, the walls matched the wattle and daub of the exterior, and the bar top gleamed in copper and tile, shades of green and gold accenting the hammered spiral motifs. 

The ceiling was strewn with ribbons tied with witch’s wishes, not terribly uncommon in pubs, but in number unusual. Amidst the long, colorful ribbons, were bunches of herbs, mostly culinary, in neat rows and patterns. Somehow, there was a kind of symmetry to the whole business.

Still, the pub’s protective spells washed over Auden as he passed over the threshold, a welcome familiarity. He knew the feel of magic, and this reminded him of fresh baked bread, malt syrup, tart apples, and oats. Rather appropriate, he thought, as his stomach grumbled.

There were two figures behind the bar top, one man and one woman, and they were so alike in bearing and coloring that they had to be siblings, if not twins. Each of them was broad about the shoulders, square of jaw, and red of hair. Twin pale eyes set in freckled faces. But the woman’s face was interrupted by a web of scars that obliterated one eyebrow and curled down the edges of her eye. The man wore a dusty apron, and the woman had the longest hair he’d ever seen before, braided in a series of twists that went down her back and almost to her knees, swaying like long reeds as she twirled around doing her work. The man was slim, however, where the woman was all muscle.

At the chiming of the front bell, or the indication of the wards, they both turned to Auden and Henry and nodded.

“Well, it’s about time,” said the woman, her voice honeyed and deep. 

Auden, not accustomed to being spoken to with such ease from pub staff, looked behind him a moment to make sure someone else wasn’t standing there, more befitting of the address. 

“Oh, yes,” he said, with absolute awkwardness. “I am here.”

“She is here,” said the man, correcting Auden, the capitalization of Her name somehow stressed in speech. “I suppose you’re ready to begin staffing now.”

Feeling his face flush at this rather stunning lack of decorum but being too well-mannered to question it lest he make a bad impression in town, Auden nodded. “Well, yes. I’m looking for Molly Hode.”

“You’ve found her,” said the woman, rolling up her sleeves and coming around the bar to get a better look at Auden. “I’m Molly.”

“Good,” said Auden, as it was the only thing he could think to say with any conviction. Truly, he was wondering if Molly was planning on using her impressive biceps to deliver a blow to the side of his head. 

“I’m Henry! I like birds. And I’m very hungry. It smells like apples in here. Do you have apples?” 

They all turned to look at Henry who seemed entirely unaware of the woman’s looming menace. 

“Well, Henry, I’ve got quite an affinity for birds myself,” said Molly, her expression softening into something rather lovely and almost childlike at Henry’s outburst. “And this, over here, is my brother, Basil. While I don’t think birds are quite his fancy, food is. If you hop up on the barstool there, he’ll help you.”

Henry’s eyes went wide as saucers, a brilliant smile spreading on his lips. Before Auden could stop him, the boy was clambering up the barstool and making conversation with Basil who, at least from this distance, appeared to be considerably gentler and more soft-spoken than his sister.

Molly wasted no time.

“Come into my office,” she said to Auden. When he hesitated slightly, glancing back at the boy, she snorted and said, “He’ll be safe. Even if I wanted to hurt him, I couldn’t.”

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