The Duchess, Her Maid, The Groom and Their Lover Excerpt – Kickass Heroines

This excerpt comes from The Duchess, Her Maid, The Groom and Their Lover.


“Give us the horses or you die,” the lead rider demanded. He was a big man, heavily bearded and, like all three of the brigands, wearing a mask bound over his eyes and nose.

“No!” the Duchess said.

Henri grinned in reflexive agreement–never the horses!–then his belly went cold with horror. He should have spoken up immediately, said they had money. Except then the brigands might have demanded the money and the horses. Did that matter? There were other horses in the world, much as he loved them. There was only one Duchess.

The lead brigand rode towards the Duchess, blade held out. She backed Guirlande with consummate skill, keeping a distance between them. The brigand said, “Now, lady, we could use some nice mounts like these.”

Henri opened his mouth. She cast him a warning glance, and he closed it. “I’m sure you could,” she said. “However, they are mine.”

“You wouldn’t like to die in the road, would you?”

“You can’t shoot us both,” she said. “The survivor would make quite a lot of trouble for you.”

The archer said, “Want to bet there’d be a survivor?”

Henri thought furiously. He could rear Tulipe and perhaps distract their horses, allowing the Duchess to run, but that would expose his horse’s belly to both swords and arrow, and they might cut her down as she ran. How could he use his knife? Kaspar’s singletail would have been of more use right now. He sidled Tulipe left, then right, trying to draw their attention away from the Duchess. Maybe that would be enough, a distraction so she and Guirlande could run.

“Don’t move!” someone shouted.

Henri froze. Casting his eyes to the trees, he recognized Lilas first, the small figure on her back second. Sylvie held a long-barreled pistol in each hand. The brigands were easily in range of her shot, and he did not doubt she could hit anything at which she aimed.

The first rider wheeled his horse to face her, while the second took over menacing the Duchess. “There are three of us, if you haven’t noticed,” he called.

A shot ripped the air. Henri quickly controlled Tulipe. Guirlande barely flinched. The archer had lost his bow, and was clutching at his shoulder. Sylvie dropped her spent pistol, seized another from her belt, and shouted, “Two of you. I would go now, if you wish to live.”


c. Victoria Janssen 2009

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About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen [she, her] currently writes cozy space opera for Kalikoi. The novella series A Place of Refuge begins with Finding Refuge: Telepathic warrior Talia Avi, genius engineer Miki Boudreaux, and augmented soldier Faigin Balfour fought the fascist Federated Colonies for ten years, following the charismatic dissenter Jon Churchill. Then Jon disappeared, Talia was thought dead, and Miki and Faigin struggled to take Jon’s place and stay alive. When the FC is unexpectedly upended, Talia is reunited with her friends and they are given sanctuary on the enigmatic planet Refuge. The trio of former guerillas strive to recover from lifetimes of trauma, build new lives on a planet with endless horizons, and forge tender new connections with each other.
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2 Responses to The Duchess, Her Maid, The Groom and Their Lover Excerpt – Kickass Heroines

  1. sadangel says:

    I just finished reading this. It is an EXCELLENT book. I kept it in my purse so I could read it whenever I was on the bus, or waiting for the bus, I didn't want to miss anything!! Read it, you WILL NOT be sorry.

  2. Victoria Janssen says:

    I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thank you!

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