Queen of Hell by Danae L. Samms
Publication Date: November 9, 2020 Paperback & eBook; 446 pages
Series: Persephone, Book One Genre: Historical Fiction
1765. Persephone Nicholas has lived her twenty years with a father she cannot stand. Secluded on their plantation, Persephone feels she has a life destined for spinsterhood. “Life is Heaven for men and Hell for women” is her mantra. But on a visit to her cousin’s wedding, she meets young Mr. Elijah Parker. Opportunities show that things can be much sweeter, and Persephone begins to question her thoughts on life. As the world continues to throw her hardships and struggle, Persephone chooses to fight and master the life she’s been handed to become Queen of the Hell she living in.
Abigail was almost hidden in her garden. A week before, she brought in a sprout from the woods and replanted it. Only her straw hat was visible over the short fence as she crouched to examine the garden’s newest addition.
Her dedication to wearing the hat sealed the youth on her face. Long walks to gather plants and hours with her mortar and pestle kept her body slim and strong. Persephone remembered running to Abigail’s side and seeing the same youthful face since she could walk. Any time not spent with her plants and salves was devoted to caring for Persephone. As Persephone passed into adulthood, she still lingered at Abigail’s side and followed her direction.
“It’s still set on poking me to death,” she said from the gate. Beneath her dress, her old stays were wearing thin. In the center of her back, a pointed piece of whalebone poked through the fabric and irritated her skin.
“I told you it would,” Abigail kept her eyes on the lacy white flowers. Long black hair was bound into a strict bun, and was just visible under the straw hat.
She had been the one to show Persephone how to wrap her body in the stiff stays. Life changed completely when Persephone left her sickbed ten years before. Despite a slight loss of healthy weight, her body was changing. One fever tore away childhood and most of her family before pushing her into the life of a young woman.
It took her weeks to master lacing up the stiff contraption that kept her back straight and tiny breasts in place. Abigail was there every morning to help her through the mess of dressing like a lady. As Persephone grew and her lanky childish body became the soft curved figure of a woman, Abigail was still by her side every morning to lace on her stays.
Manure and dust kissed the edges of Persephone’s dress. Yet in the garden she took care not to run her hem in the dirt. At least not in front of Abigail.
“You also said you’d fix it.”
“I mentioned attempting to fix your stays were there time.”
“Probably not.” At last she turned to Persephone, blue eyes shining from the shade of her hat. “Not since you’ve checked every corner of the house for dirt and been to the barn twice.”
Persephone smiled back at her.
“My other stays don’t fit properly under the blue dress,” Persephone lingered at the gate, aimlessly brushing dirt from her mitts, “and Father told me to wear that one.”
“It brings out your eyes.”
“I’d rather wear the purple. That one fits better and matches the other stays.”
In her opinion, none of the colors matched her raven-black hair, but that was her curse for bearing the last name Nicholas. Almost daily she found herself longing for soft blonde curls like her cousins. At twenty, the hopeless wish remained.
Abigail’s dark fingers brushed the soft yellow petals of a flower, “Tell me what this is.”
“You call it a piss daisy,” Persephone replied.
“I’m the only one who does.”
Quizzing Persephone on plants and their uses was routine. For the life of her, none of the information stayed in her head very long. None of the information Abigail asked, that is. She examined the clipping and noted the purple coneflower- for colds- and the common chamomile, but that was not the bloom in question.
“It’s poisonous,” she said after a moment.
“Anything can be a poison if you use it right.”
That basic answer was usually adequate. Another tediously long stretch of seconds passed as she focused hard on the yellow flower.
“Father takes it for the pain in his hand.”
“Arnica,” Abigail explained as she collected her basket. “For some pains, and yes, like almost any herb taken in excess, it can be lethal.”
“I was half right.”
“For anything,” she chuckled. “Salt might kill a man if he had enough.”
About the Author
Danae L. Samms has always been a creator. Loving books, television, and being outside fueled her imagination. Her writing began when she was four with her first play, and continued to grow to a degree in journalism. Finding newspapers terrible and websites tolerable, she paid the bills as a freelance writer. Eventually, her creativity produced a novel and a thousand ideas waiting to become novels. Regularly, she keeps up with a blog of Unqualified Advice on Writing and Everything Else. The only thing she’s been doing longer than writing is horseback riding. While horse shoes were never her forte, Danae has spent plenty of time riding and training. Most of that is with her horse Maggie.
Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, May 24
Guest Post at Novels Alive
Wednesday, May 26
Excerpt at Books, Ramblings, and Tea
Friday, May 28
Review at Booking With Janelle
Saturday, May 29
Excerpt at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals
Tuesday, June 1
Review at Passages to the Past
Friday, June 4
Interview at Passages to the Past
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