Aether Psychics, Book Three
Forgetting her is impossible. Remembering him could kill her.
When Chadwick Radcliffe arrives at Fort Daniels to assume the position of medical chief, the prejudice against his mixed heritage is no surprise. But he never expected to encounter the one woman who’s beyond his reach—medically and emotionally.
A steamcart accident stole three years of Claire McPhee’s memories, and now as she helps soldiers cope with combat-related neuroses, she secretly hopes to find the key to filling that gaping hole.
There’s something vaguely familiar about Dr. Radcliffe, but every time she comes close to determining why, he pushes her away—and her hypnosis-induced memory blocks explode with pain.
Chadwick knows the Eros Element can heal, but its unintended side effects are too dangerous to risk using it to bring Claire’s memories out of the shadows. But with the key to the Union’s victory buried in Claire’s mind, Chadwick and Claire are forced to push past the boundaries others have placed on them—even if rediscovering their love risks their lives.
Warning: Vast amounts of Victorian mental health geekery and copious amounts of tea were poured into the writing of his book. No matter how pretty the aether is, the author cautions readers not to try using it to manipulate others’ emotions. The side effects could be atrocious.
Reviews (note – due to my publisher’s scaling back on publicity, I didn’t get as many reviews from big venues this time; as usual, click on the source for the full review):
“Aether Spirit is another brilliant story in Cecilia Dominic’s Aether Psychics series. I’ve been with this steampunk series since the beginning. Like its predecessors, Aether Spirit is a standalone story that is completely and delightfully unique within the series.” – Smart Girls Love Sci Fi Romance
“This is another strong entry in the Aether Psychics series. There is further character development and we learn more about Chad and Patrick’s reason for being in Europe in book one. And we learn more about Claire, another intelligent, educated woman who can stand her ground. I can’t wait to have Iris, Marie and Claire in one room together. I believe they will be a force to be reckoned with and I’m not sure Edward, Johann and Chad will be able to cope. Can’t wait to see what happens next in the Aether Psychics series!” – Second Run Reviews
“Another amazing steam punk novel by Ms. Dominic. An intricate romance dealing with civil war psychology during a time when psychology was not respected. Romance is also fighting the battle with memory loss as well as PTSD. An extremely well thought out book brilliantly written.” – 5-star Goodreads & Amazon review
Where to find signed copies:
Eagle Eye Books in Decatur
The Book House in Mabelton
Online buy links: Sorry, since Samhain Publishing closed, Aether Spirit ebooks are not currently available. Please check the Coming Soon page to see when it will be re-released.
From Chapter Six:
He picked up one of the charts. “Let’s get back to your mission. You said you’re on a grant to study a therapeutic technique based on what you learned in Europe. You want to help soldiers who have been injured in combat, but focus on those with battle-induced hysteria symptoms.”
“Yes.” She traced the buttons of her left glove, feeling their smoothness under her kid-gloved fingertips, but her hand trembled. One of the mother-of-pearl disks came off and fell to the floor with a clatter that was too loud for such a small object. Neither of them said anything, just waited for it to roll to a stop.
“You’ve lost a button,” he said. “I’m afraid Major Longchamp doesn’t have a requisition form for fancy kid gloves.”
“I’ll find it later. I’m sure Mrs. Soper will lend me a needle and some thread to reattach it.”
“Here.” He bent and retrieved the button from where it landed by his foot. He handed it to her, and she noticed how he was careful not to touch her.
“Thank you.” She smiled around the disappointment that welled up in her chest. This was a professional relationship in spite of her feeling oddly comfortable in his company. The interruption had given her the chance to gather her thoughts, and her mind clicked along again with what she’d been trying to say. “I feel I’m up to the challenge of implementing the treatment protocol, but I thought my subjects would be older.”
“Right, and I don’t want them to be harmed further.”
“But this technique shouldn’t harm them. I’m only going to be inducing a state where they feel they are back home so they will be comforted, and their minds can heal. Then they can talk through what’s troubling them in a place of comfort.”
A grimace passed over his face. “And you’re sure that they come from comfortable homes? You do recognize that many of these boys, especially the younger ones, ran away and joined the army for a host of reasons. Many of them were abused. Or stifled.”
She couldn’t read the intense look in his eyes. It seemed he was hinting something at her in spite of trying not to. “If not their home, then somewhere else they found peace in their previous lives. Everyone had somewhere or someone that gave them that feeling.”
If only I could remember who that was for me.
“One would assume, but that’s not a guarantee. Who is that for you, Doctor McPhee?” The slight curve to his lips said he enjoyed challenging her.
She tried to return the smile but found an unexpected tightness in her throat. “I don’t know. I had someone, I think, but they’re lost to whatever the doctors in Paris had to do to my memory.”
“And can you guarantee that you won’t accidentally hurt these boys worse?”
She wanted to say yes, but she refused to lie to him. “I don’t know.”
He made a derisive sound. “Those techniques you learned in Europe seem to have worked well for you. You get a headache when you’re reminded of anything that has to do with the accident. It seems like you haven’t healed, only avoided.”
“And that’s why I want to do this! If I’d been allowed to heal in a place of comfort, not that horrible asylum, I might not have had to sacrifice my memories to my recovery. I lost more than you could ever know, more than I will ever know.”
The chill returned to his demeanor, and although he hadn’t moved, she felt the change like a splash of cold water. “I wouldn’t make that assumption, Doctor McPhee.”
“And I appreciate your concern, but I’m not going to hypnotize anyone. I’m going to use the techniques they’re developing in Vienna and demonstrate that they’re superior so that others won’t have the same problems I do.”
“That’s a noble sentiment, but I still want to feel completely comfortable that my patients are safe. You have the general’s support, but I’m the chief of this hospital, and I won’t risk the men or boys under my care.”
She stood. “If I don’t have your cooperation, I can go to another field hospital in another town. God knows there are enough of them. But I was sent here for a reason. I’ve done this before, and others are confident in my ability. Why aren’t you?” She turned to leave in a huff, but he darted around the desk and blocked her from leaving his office.
“Let me ask you this, Claire.”
Her given name on his tongue sent a lightning bolt of pain through her head, and she crumpled to the floor.
“What the—? Oh, son of a…”
He sounded like he spoke to her from the other side of a wall, but there was nothing between her and his strong arms. The layers of clothing didn’t keep her from noticing his lean, muscular body when he lifted her and cradled her head on his shoulder. Her head pounded a warning, and she moaned.
“Oh, right, this isn’t going to help.” He carried her out of the office and called for a nurse. Claire was conscious of being laid on a stretcher and carried into the cool morning air. Her headache subsided, but the nausea remained, and there was a strange ache in her chest.
“Why…?” An image flashed into her mind of the driver the night of the accident. It was just his silhouette, but the light caught the planes of his face for the barest instant. Blackness swallowed conscious thought before she could identify him.