Dear readers, tonight with me is a young woman from Book 2 of the Victorian historical-fantasy Potions and Passions series. We’re always happy when our patrons revisit us!

This volume is her first appearance. She is here to tell us about
Ancient curses, poetry, murder, intrigue, magic — and about love.

Welcome, Mrs. Fasching. We are so pleased you have accepted this interview with our newspaper. Please introduce yourself for our readers.

Call me Rachael, please. My married name has a host of unpleasant memories associated with it.

Oh, dear me. Yes. Can you tell us something about your background? Who was your husband and what happened to him?

Well. Anyone who reads the gossip rags knows something of the matter. Mr. Fasching was an American potions importer. He became involved with the wrong people and ended up dead. I can’t say I’m terribly sorry about it. He was rather a villain, as it turns out.

I must say, you wear your widowhood well. That is a marvelous dress.

Isn’t it, though? I’m sure many would tell me that the neckline is too low to be appropriate for a widow, and the red embroidery likewise improper, but I have never been one to conform to restrictive fashion ideals. I prefer to set the new trends. People may gape and whisper if they wish, but no one can say I lack for beauty or elegance.

Your bold personal style does garner attention. Is that your plan, now that you will soon put your mourning period behind you? Attend parties and show off?

Parties and showing off are always in the plan. But I have far more interesting goals for my life at present. As I have indicated, I do not wish to use Fasching’s name. I intend to remarry to remedy the situation. In fact, I fully intend to woo the most passionate, romantic man in all of England until I have earned his undying love.

How strange. Because your name has recently been linked to that of Professor Avery Cantrell, a man noted for being dull and peculiar.

Ah, dear readers, you know so little about him. I don’t expect you to believe me, but Cantrell is so much more than you see on the surface. He hides himself behind his research, but I am uncovering his secrets and I must tell you they are delightfully intriguing. I do not doubt we will have fantastic adventures together.

Speaking of adventures, what can you tell us about yours?

Well. Certain information is not mine to share, but I can tell you that I have recently learned of strange, ancient curses and deadly potions allergies. I’ve encountered murder by poison and discovered vital clues. I’ve scandalized society by driving steam cars fully as well as any man.

Curses and murder? Dear me! Are you at all scared by these unusual happenings?

Certainly not. I am a woman of strong constitution, and you will not see me swooning over silly things. Avery—that is, Mr. Cantrell—and I will get to the bottom of these mysteries. Do not doubt us. I believe we will make quite the formidable team.

It must be difficult, to be involved with such horrid goings on.

Not especially. Truthfully, my only complaint is that the situation requires a certain amount of time spent outdoors in dirty, uncivilized locations.

That does sound unpleasant. But you are otherwise enjoying your adventures?

Oh, yes. I am not merely a pretty face, you know. I have a brain and sharp eyes, and I am employing both with great skill, if I do say so, myself. I did not set out to become involved with a deadly intrigue, but now that it has happened, I will do all I can to solve it. Someone has to. The police certainly haven’t been any help.

Are you truly undertaking this task alone, or do you have friends to help?

Certainly we have friends. My cousin, Isobel, is my confidant, and I detail much of our activities in my letters to her. Avery, of course, has his secretary Mr. Bellamy whom he cannot do without. And some of you readers may know Henry and Elle Ainsworth from tale of their own adventures. They have great skills with potions and mysteries, and I won’t hesitate to call on them if I have need of such knowledge.

It sounds as though you have many solid relationships. What of romance? You said you intend to marry a passionate man. You cannot truly mean dull Mr. Cantrell.

A man involved with curses, poisonings, and dangerous potions is hardly dull. Never fear. One day soon I will reveal his romantic soul to the world and you will all marvel at how I was the only one to uncover his secret.

Good luck. It sounds a risky proposition.

Perhaps it is, but it is a chance I must take. I am determined to make this new life for myself. Perhaps I am going about things all wrong, but I cannot sit by and do nothing. A life of the usual bland interactions is no longer enough for me.

Let us move on to lighter topics. Tell our readers your favorite drink.

One can never go wrong with a good cup of tea, and I am also fond of coffee as an energizing beverage. As suits my borderline scandalous nature, I am also happy to partake of a glass of brandy alongside the men. You may call it unfeminine, but like driving, I believe it only requires the right lady to set the trend. Me.

I cannot wait to see if you succeed in your endeavors. Can you share with us any other future plans?

You will soon see an invitation to my wedding. Aside from that, I really can’t say until this business with the murder is solved.

Can you share a secret with us? Something you’ve never told anyone else?

Let’s see. Which one do you want? That my first husband was a murderer? That I know who killed him? Or perhaps something more mundane. I know who really wrote that fake book of Anglo-Saxon warrior love poems. I know why Mr. Cantrell rides a horse instead of driving a steam car. I know far, far more than people give me—or any woman—credit for. Stay in touch, and perhaps you might uncover all these secrets yourself. 

Thank you so much, Rachael. It’s been a pleasure. Best of luck wooing your dull scholar.

Oh, for heaven’s sake! He’s not dull! You’ll see. But for now you must excuse me. I have an event tonight, and I must change into something even more daring. Goodbye!

Catherine Stein writes sassy, sexy stories set during the Victorian and Edwardian eras and full of action, adventure, magic, and fantastic technologies. Catherine lives in Michigan with her husband and three rambunctious girls. She can often be found dressed in clothing that was purchased at a Renaissance Festival, drinking copious amounts of tea.

You can find Rachel on the pages of Not a Mourning Person. We also suggest you check out the interview with Henry Ainsworth of How to Seduce a Spy, the first volume in the series.

Join us next week in a mid-week special, to meet a man haunted by a dragon — but not in the way you think! Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.