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THE SECRET LIFE OF ANNA BLANC
BY JENNIFER KINCHELOE
It’s 1907 Los Angeles. Mischievous socialite Anna Blanc is the kind of young woman who devours purloined crime novels—but must disguise them behind covers of more domestically-appropriate reading. She could match wits with Sherlock Holmes, but in her world women are not allowed to hunt criminals.
Determined to break free of the era’s rigid social roles, Anna buys off the chaperone assigned by her domineering father and, using an alias, takes a job as a police matron with the Los Angeles Police Department. There she discovers a string of brothel murders, which the cops are unwilling to investigate. Seizing her one chance to solve a crime, she takes on the investigation herself.
If the police find out, she’ll get fired; if her father finds out, he’ll disown her; and if her fiancé finds out, he’ll cancel the wedding and stop pouring money into her father’s collapsing bank. Midway into her investigation, the police chief’s son, Joe Singer, learns her true identity. And shortly thereafter she learns about blackmail.
Anna must choose—either hunt the villain and risk losing her father, fiancé, and wealth, or abandon her dream and leave the killer on the loose.
THE SECRET LIFE OF ANNA BLANC
BY JENNIFER KINCHELOE
When Anna arrived at the ballroom, Edgar met her at the entrance. “Where’s the police chief ’s son? He isn’t in the ballroom.”
“How should I know?” Anna said, and sashayed quickly away from the door.
Edgar kept pace. “You shouldn’t have left the ballroom alone.”
He glanced suspiciously back at the door. Joe sauntered in, following Anna. Edgar moved between them and met Joe with a strained smile. His voice was tight. “Officer, I’m afraid this lady is taken.”
Joe seemed as relaxed as Edgar was tense. The corners of his mouth moved up. “Mr. Wright. I’m glad you’re here. There’s something I should tell you.”
Edgar folded his arms, glaring. “And what is that, Officer Singer?”
Anna knew her ruin was at hand. Her eyes popped like sunflowers, her knees went weak, and, for the first time, she thought she might swoon in earnest.
“Congratulations, Mr. Wright.” Joe said and slapped him on the back. “Anna, shall I have the honor?”
Joe held out his arm and, before Edgar could close his gaping mouth, Anna took it, and Joe swooped her onto the dance floor. His bare, calloused hand took her soft, bare hand, and she regretted the loss of her gloves. She had expected Joe to trample her toes, as he was a barbarian in disguise, but he danced well enough and his breath was sweet. She frowned hard. “You have some nerve addressing me by my first name, and you’re not on my card.”
“I’m not even a guest.” Joe grinned and twirled her.
Edgar tapped Joe on the shoulder, his eyes narrowed, his mouth stretched into a thin line. “I’m cutting in.”
“You’re not on her card.” Joe said, pulling Anna closer and turning sideways so he stood between Edgar and Anna.
Edgar put a heavy hand on Joe’s shoulder and squeezed like a vise. “Get away from my fiancée.”
Joe shrugged him off. “Hey!”
Edgar muscled up to Joe until they were close enough to waltz, with Anna half sandwiched in between. Anna laughed, her voice stretched unnaturally high and tight. “Darling, please don’t cause a scene.”
She summoned the courage to tilt her head up and look Joe in the eyes, but his attention had already drifted elsewhere. All she saw was the underside of his cleanly shaven jaw. He stood on tiptoes, squinting and craning his neck to see something over Edgar’s shoulder. “Excuse me,” he said absently, and dropped his arm from around Anna’s waist.
In a blink, he was gone, disappearing among the dancers. Anna’s head snapped toward Edgar. His eyes were angry slits. He gripped her arm, cutting off circulation, and steered her off the dance floor into a lonely corner by the window. “Why did you dance with him?”
Anna threw her arms up in her best imitation of innocent bewilderment. “Father put him on my card.”
“Well, I’m taking him off! What’s wrong with him?”
“Who? Father or Officer Singer?”
“Well, Father’s a greedy, tyrannical idiot. And Officer Singer . . . he’s a boor, but he’s only watching me because Father asked him to protect me. If you humor him, he’ll go away.”
Edgar’s brows dipped into a deep, sharp V. “Protect you? From what?”
“Someone engraved my name into our lawn. It was just a prank. The gardener’s already fixed it. It’s stupid, really, but I’ve been staying at the Breedloves’ all week.”
Edgar’s jaw constricted. “Who did it?”
Immediately behind them, a head hit the window with a bang. Edgar and Anna started. Joe Singer had Douglas Doogan’s face squished up against the outside of the glass. Anna could see his nose hairs. “I’m not sure.”
She stuck her head out the adjacent window and looked at Joe with disgust. “Must you bloody him at my party?”
“Oh, I’m not going to hurt him,” Joe said. “I know this fellow. He likes it.”
He heaved the little, kicking man over his shoulder and strode off toward a police wagon parked in the drive. Edgar pounded his fist on the windowsill. “This is insane! Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Darling, I haven’t seen you.” She gave him a weak smile. “Don’t let it concern you. Both of them are gone.”
Jennifer is a research scientist turned writer of historical fiction. She grew up in Southern California, but has traveled to such places as Nicaragua, Ethiopia, and Papua New Guinea. She earned a Masters degree in Public Health from Loma Linda University and a PhD in Health Services from UCLA. She adores hiking, yoga, and developing complex statistical models. She was on the faculty at UCLA, where she spent 11 years conducting research to inform health policy. THE SECRET LIFE OF ANNA BLANC is her first novel. She currently lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband and two children, dog, and cat.
Links to Jennifer’s website, blog, books, etc.
Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/1QlIGRB
**SPECIAL GIVEAWAY**: Jennifer is giving away a copy of THE SECRET LIFE OF ANNA BLANC by Jennifer Kincheloe. Comment on her **Author Peek** Interview or Karen’s Killer Book Bench blogs for a chance to win. Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your story with us.
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