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Dark Aemilia: Exclusive Excerpt

An exclusive excerpt of Scene III from Sally O'Reilly's Dark Aemilia (May 27, 2014) is available on Heroes and Heartbreakers to members. Please log in or register to read the full excerpt.

Dark Aemilia by Sally O'Reilly

A TALE OF SORCERY AND PASSION IN SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY LONDON—WHERE WITCHES HAUNT WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE AND HIS DARK LADY, THE PLAYWRIGHT'S MUSE AND ONE TRUE LOVE

The daughter of a Venetian musician, Aemilia Bassano came of age in Queen Elizabeth’s royal court. The Queen’s favorite, she develops a love of poetry and learning, maturing into a young woman known not only for her beauty but also her sharp mind and quick tongue. Aemilia becomes the mistress of Lord Hunsdon, but her position is precarious. Then she crosses paths with an impetuous playwright named William Shakespeare and begins an impassioned but ill-fated affair.

A decade later, the Queen is dead, and Aemilia Bassano is now Aemilia Lanyer, fallen from favor and married to a fool. Like the rest of London, she fears the plague. And when her young son Henry takes ill, Aemilia resolves to do anything to save him, even if it means seeking help from her estranged lover, Will—or worse, making a pact with the Devil himself.

In rich, vivid detail, Sally O’Reilly breathes life into England’s first female poet, a mysterious woman nearly forgotten by history. Full of passion and devilish schemes, Dark Aemilia is a tale worthy of the Bard.

Scene III

My servant Alice rushes into my chamber all fly-brained and affected. She is a silly girl and I can see she has recently been conversing with some man she thinks important, or handsome at the very least.

‘I have a letter, mistress,’ she says, pink in the face.

I flinch. There is not a hair’s breadth between what I most fear and what I want more than anything. Anyone who has loved two men at once knows that it’s not an abundant feeling, but mean and sweaty and undignified.

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