Elsa Holland

Historical Romance Writer: LUSH SENSUAL READS

Snippet: from the thriller plot in Painted Trust

Great Britain 1898

 Inspector Morrison and Master Brody return to London with the body of the first crime scene in Manchester. They are still feeling each other out.

The pup was intense and quiet as he sat opposite Morrison on a crate, alternating between scribbling and drawing in his notebook. There were no notable facts punctuating the train trip back to London, that jubilant boy was gone.

It had been impossible to get the kid into the passenger carriage, so here they were, sitting in the baggage carriage like a couple of stowaways, with the box that contained the girl’s body. The pup next to it like a guard dog.

The train lurched to a stop, steel screeching on steel as the driver engaged the brakes.

“Kid . . .”

The pup nodded and closed his book, slipping it into the leather satchel slung over his shoulder, then stood. He placed his hand on the box containing the girl’s remains, almost as a communication, a reassurance.

Steam puffed out onto the platform, covering the first alighting passengers in fog. The bobbies were waiting, and they jumped into the baggage carriage and unloaded the box with well-practiced efficiency headed, the kid following closely behind.

Morrison grabbed the kid’s arm and turned him around. “Listen kid, I get this might be your first big show, but you can’t take it personally. Whoever she is, God rest her soul, her body is crime scene evidence now. It’s going to be prodded, poked, exposed and sliced as the quacks try and find more answers for us.”

The pup tugged out of his grip.

“I want to be there!”

Hell, the pup was hit hard. The first horrendous injustice either riled you up or took the wind out of your sails. He should be thankful it was the former.

“You don’t have to be there, we’ll get a report.”

The pup’s face screwed up as if Morrison were mad. “A report where they pick and choose what to write down; only we can discern the facts we need for the investigation.”

Morrison stilled. He regularly went in while the coroner worked, listened as they talked. On more than one occasion, the facts he needed weren’t in the report but in the discussion during the examination.

Morrison poked the kid in the chest. “Who the fuck are you, kid?”

The kid recoiled at his touch and his face shuttered.

It could be a lucky guess the kid was already showing he had more than the average level of smarts and he was a fast learner, but Morrison’s gut said something more was going on. That was the second time the kid had closed down when asked about his background.

Morrison leaned down so close that they were almost nose to nose. “I will find out your secrets, boy, and I will expose them.”

The pup’s eyes flared wide before that innate internal barrier slammed down again. At least the pup knew where they stood.

Morrison stepped back. The kid straightened his shoulders and turned to follow the box, his usually lily-white cheeks pink and blotchy.

“We’ll attend the sessions with the coroner,” Morrison said as he laid his palm on the kid’s back and propelled him after the bobbies and the corpse filled box.

The kid flashed him a look of surprise. Surprise and caution.




The Painted Sisters Series Book 1


Snippet: from the romance in Painted Trust

Great Britain 1898

Miss Edith Appleby has commenced employment with the eminent forensic surgeon Dr. Anthony Vaughn, he has come home late from a day trip to Glasgow to assist the medical Coroner there with a case. Their unexpected and delicious exchange of the night before on his mind.


The sight of her wasn’t what Vaughn expected. He’d seen the light was on, but he’d imagined he’d see Thomas in the anatomical lab, not her, not his Apple. Vaughn moved through the room towards his newest household member, his chest oddly tightening.

Flashes of her had come at unexpected moments throughout the day, on the train, while he examined the microscope slides, passing through a darkened corridor; they were a staccato of unexamined reminiscences, of relived sensations and growing wants. Despite assuring himself that last night was an anomaly, most likely for both of them. He’d nearly lost his footing in his effort to catch the last train to make it home tonight. Not that he’d go to her room—that was the realm of fantasy—but he’d been disappointed to find the theater and its surrounds dark and empty.

As if God, who had consistently ignored him at the surgical table, now chose to listen, there at the end of the room, bent over a dissection table, was his Apple. So engrossed was she in her task that she didn’t turn at his steps, not even as he came to a stop close behind her. She had a black elastic strap around the top of her head, holding in place a magnifying glass and light for detailed dissection work. The focus he read in her body told him this work was not new to her. There was a sense of confidence in her that she didn’t have in the surgery. Her claimed familiarity with anatomy and dissection had not been a fabrication, not like the rest of her apparent history. It seemed women with secrets were to be his fate.

Vaughn coughed.

She jumped and turned, the scalpel she was using suddenly poised as a weapon.

The dramatic stance was somewhat surprising yet totally overshadowed by the picture she presented with the great big magnifier in front of her eyes. Vaughn raised his eyebrows and the odd tightness seeing her generated in his chest grew.

“I am frozen in fear,” he murmured.


The Painted Sisters Series Book 1


Snippet: from the thriller plot in Painted Trust

Great Britain 1898

There’s a fledgling killer, fostered and trained by men so deep in the echelons of power catching him could be more dangerous and letting him run loose. Inspector Morrison and Master Brody head to the first crime scene in Manchester.

Morrison stepped from the cab. Wind sent his black coat billowing and flapping behind him as he pressed down his hat and made his way to the front door of the three story soot encrusted boarding house. People, dressed in shades of dust and smoke milled about for word of the events within. Around them a chimney filled skyline purged black smoke into a sky that had no choice but to suck in the pungent fumes as all around them the city’s heartbeat filled the air with the ceaseless pounding of cotton looms. It was truly as Friedrich Engels, the socialist voice of the people described …‘hell on earth’.

“Inspector Morrison…Sargent Briggs.” The Sargent held out his hand. Morrison took it, and received a firm dry handed shake, the man was solid.

Sargent Briggs looked to be mid-thirties, tired eyes and a jacket that swan on thin shoulders. Briggs didn’t appear to eat his fair share of gods’ mighty bounty. He would be paid enough unless he had a dozen kids to feed at home or his wife, tired of too many nights alone had left him to his own devises. Some men might jump into that freedom and feed themselves with a hand wrapped around a tavern wench, however that was not Sargent Briggs. Did he dive into his work to feed a litter of kids or did he over work as he pined at their loss?

“Glad you could get here so quickly, Inspector.”

“Steam, is the master of distance, Sargent Briggs.” Morrison moved into the house as the Sargent filed in behind.

“The body is up on the top floor. It’s been near impossible to keep the lid on this one.” The Sargent said as they walked through the small entrance foyer towards the staircase against the far wall. A quick glance over his shoulder and Morrison made eye contact with the pup, the kid was right behind them, determination setting his pretty little jaw.

Morrison took the blackened stairs two at a time. Two, four, six, eight, landing. Boarders slouched in doorways or peered through doors held ajar, people saw everything and nothing in places like this.

“I assume you’ve questioned the residents?”

Two, four, six, eight, landing.

“Yes Inspector, only a few left who haven’t returned from shifts to follow up.”

“You interview them yourself?”

“Yes, sir.”

Two, four, six, eight, landing.


“I beg your pardon?”

“Wife, kids?”

Two, four, six, eight, landing.

“With her mother, sir. I will have the time to put into the case if that’s what you are asking.”

Two, four, six, eight, landing.

Morrison turned at the top landing. Behind him the Sargent diligently followed as did the pup.

“Its ‘bad’ sir,” came the Sargent’s puffed voice.

‘Bad’, bobbies thought any crime that had sliced up flesh was bad. Even here in Manchester most of ‘bad’ would be what a body looked like after it got pulled out of the river Ink, a bubbling admass of green crusted slime that changed the color of the body’s skin and ate away the hair if left in it. Morrison doubted anyone at the scene had seen ‘bad’. The Ripper was bad, he’d seen that. They hadn’t. Most men no matter how well trained couldn’t see past the blood of a crime like that to see the facts needed to track and catch a monster. He could, military service gave him that skill. You hold enough limbless and decapitated bodies and ‘normal’ moves to an entirely different benchmark.

For him humanity was a term used to express an aspiration, not a reality.





The Painted Sisters Series Book 1


Snippet: from the thriller plot in Painted Trust

Great Britain 1898

There’s a fledgling killer, fostered and trained by men so deep in the echelons of power catching him could be more dangerous and letting him run loose. Inspector Morrison and Master Brody head to the first crime scene in Manchester.


“Angel Meadow,” the cabbie called out as the carriage drew to a halt.

“Angel Meadows has the highest mortality rate in the country,” Master Brody said as he peered out the window. “The looms are said to go all night.”

Inspector Morrison looked across the bench at the pup, his newly acquired and unwanted ‘go fetch boy’. He’d been regaled with facts throughout the train trip from London to Manchester, and now on the carriage ride to the crime scene. No doubt a nervous blathering the kid needed to get sorted. Well he’d been given pups before and he knew exactly how to get rid of them.

“Here’s a fact for you pup, poor Mancunians who can only afford sleeping space, sleep back to back on the floor in a room with strangers. The thing is they have to do it naked to avoided spreading lice from their clothes. Any guesses at the unwanted pregnancy rate?”

The pup went red and his pale fine fingers gripped the brown leather satchel strap that pressed across his young all too skinny chest.

Ha, it turned out making the kid go scarlet beat fact sharing hands down.

Morrison collected his hat from the bench beside him.

“Stay in the cab.” It would be the kid’s first crime scene and they wouldn’t have called him up from London if it wasn’t going to be serious. He may not have wanted a go-fetch-boy and was annoyed that he now had one underfoot but he would not traumatize the kid.

The pup straightened, “Absolutely not.”

Morrison barked out a laugh before he could stop himself. “For fuck sake grow some balls ‘absolutely not’” he mimicked. The kid was going to be a laughing stock if he kept that up.

The pup went tense. “I resent your…”

Morrison held up his hand, “Just grow a pair. No one talks like that on the street and that is where we work. You want respect don’t dish out indignant little Molly statements. Now stay in the cab.”

“You don’t have to worry about me Inspector,” the boy said with all the earnestness those unsoiled by life seemed to have. “I’ve seen more than you might imagine.”

“As I might imagine?” Morrison swore under his breath. “What I can imagine you don’t want to know.”


The Painted Sisters Series Book 1


This snippet is part of the Weekend Writing Warriors 8 sentence snippet that is shared by a group of amazing writers every Sunday. I hope you enjoy it and click the link HERE to find other writers. This is the beginning of Painted Trust, a Historical Thriller Romance due for release 27th Feb 2018.

The heroine sees the hero for the first time. Edith has just entered the hero’s home for the first time, as a patient wails in the background from the surgery at the back of the house. She’s late and they want her to get started straight away.


The howls increased in volume taking up residence through the house as if the wild winds had slipped under the front door and joined them.

Double doors at the far right flung open hitting the walls on either side. Clap. Clap.

Edith jumped.

The two burst of syncopated thunder, echoed through the air as a stallion of a man strode into the foyer.

Cowardice legs took an involuntary step backwards .

That couldn’t be him.




The Painted Sisters Series Book 1


January 20, 2018

I have been following Thomas Dodd and his work for  many years now.  His style is deeply romantic and his expression of the feminine embracing of all forms. He uses a painting technique that moves a photographic image closer to classical art. I am attracted to the mythological elements that subtly come into his work. People site his influences to include Gustav Klimt which I can see coming through with the use of golds,  patterns and a strong focus on the feminine and sensuality in many of his pieces.

Here is a video where he has digitally animated some of his work.

Thomas Dodd Website HERE Facebook HERE


I just came across a great New York Times piece on the mail service in the Victorian era. It’s full of trivia: for example, did you know that in 1889 London, mail was delivered TWELVE TIMES A DAY? Read this:

In Victorian London, though service wasn’t 24/7, it was close to 12/6. Home delivery routes would go by every house 12 times a day — yes, 12. In 1889, for example, the first delivery began about 7:30 a.m. and the last one at about 7:30 p.m. In major cities like Birmingham by the end of the century, home routes were run six times a day.

“In London, people complained if a letter didn’t arrive in a couple of hours,” said Catherine J. Golden, a professor of English at Skidmore College and author of “Posting It: The Victorian Revolution in Letter Writing” (2009).

And, not unlike us, most Victorian letter writers seemed more concerned about getting a rapid response than a long one. “Return of post” was an often-used phrase, requesting an immediate response, in time for the next scheduled delivery that day.


This snippet is part of the Weekend Writing Warriors 8 sentence snippet that is shared by a group of amazing writers every Sunday. I hope you enjoy it and click the link HERE to find other writers.

This is the beginning of Painted Trust, a Historical Thriller Romance due for release 27th Feb 2018.

The heroine, Edith Appleby, is in a desperate situation. A killer supported by unimaginably powerful men, is after her. Edith’s chances of surviving are very slim. But she has a plan and it starts with taking up a position with Edinburgh’s forensic surgeon’s, Dr. Anthony Vaughn.

Wind swept clouds smudged the sky and a relentless, tenacious wind pressed against her front. Edith leaned forward, her body weight helping to propel her onward. It was as if the wind sought to halt her progress, as if it desperately tried to encourage her to turn back, to forget her plans and flee as far and as fast as she could from a city that held certain death. She’d run once before and it hadn’t worked, this time she would make sure that when she ran, she would run off the edge of the earth.

At number forty-eight Surgeon’s Square Edith closed her eyes and took a slow breath, then another; steeled herself for the task ahead.

You can do this.

Edith opened her eyes and before doubt made her change her mind, lifted the icy door-knocker and hit it against the black, glossy wood. Three hard knocks vibrated through her hand and rang out down the street. It was a baton thumping on castle gates; it was an undeserving request for refuge or perhaps, much like her heart, it was the sound of hope beating frantically against the odds.




Weekend Writing Warriors blog link page: HERE

The myth, the archetypal is the invisible baton that gets passed along especially when we read/hear a story, watch a movie, experience imagery that strikes a deep chord within us.

You can feel when it is present because something powerful happens to you under the surface a communion with the imagery that can trigger insights, emotions, thoughts. Costume/fashion artist Agnieszka Osipa, creates imagery that has stepped out of the mythical, out of Slavic and Nordic folklore.

She generally doesn’t say what she has created but leaves it up to the viewer to place meaning on the images. She started working with photographers like: Marcin Nagraba  & A.M Lorek as a way to get her work out into the world but now feels that working towards photoshoots is also an end in itself.

Her work has been in music videos, exhibitions and is sought after in niche Fetish communities.

I have pulled together some images from a somewhat darker series that remind me of the world of The Collectors.

Agnieszka Osipa




Categories: Life


For those of you interested in my next book release, I have a spin off series coming your way, that’s ominously gothic; An Erotic Thriller Romance Series called The Painted Sisters. Be warned it really is very, very dark.

Preorder available here:
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2CHu1Na
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2Fjrjzk
Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2Eqqraz


It is a dark, macabre and Gothic world that Miss Edith Appleby flees as a man who no longer wants her alive hires a groomed killer to do the job. But Edith has a plan, it requires a forged medical degree, one she plans on stealthily acquiring from the dangerously alluring Dr. Anthony Vaughn, Edinburgh’s most eminent forensic surgeon.

Never had a woman climbed under his skin and burrowed so deep as his new staff member, Miss Edith Appleby. She carried a light that banished the darkness creeping into his soul. It had been a long time since he thought he could trust someone, since he let anyone close, she clearly had secrets but how bad could they really be?

Inspector Morrison and his newly acquired assistant, Master Brody, are assigned to a case officials fear is the Ripper returned or a copycat killer. Neither are surprised at the mode of killing, they have seen his tests and trials fished out of the Thames and know he’s just getting started. Moreover, bigger powers are at play behind the killings; men of power with networks in every branch of public office, every political party and every prominent family tree; men who may be impossible to find and impossible to stop.

‘Holland takes readers once again on a tantalizing tour through the darker side of Victorian England…’ ~ RTBookReviews 4 STARS HOT for The Painted Heart prequel to PAINTED TRUST


Images above part of Sarah Moon’s fashion photography, partial of book cover by Hang Le, gif old black and white movie…


Well it’s a week since launching The Painted Heart and a few reviews have come in:

“Officially the best book yet!! – Best book by Elsa Holland so far! I love how she can create a world that sucks you in instantly and never lets you go. I found myself reading this at every opportunity, and thinking about it when I wasn’t.” Amazon Reviewer
“Oh my! This book is so good that you just don’t want to leave the world that Elsa Holland creates. Its my favourite book so far, and I say so far because I think this author is going to keep surprising me and I can’t wait. Overall the book is a sublime mix of gothic, sensual and clandestine overtones – it’s a must read.” Amazon Reviewer
“This is a marvelous addition to the Velvet Basement Series. Each story captures your attention and the sensual journey to a happy ending makes these books a pleasure to read again and again. Enjoy!” Amazon Reviewer
“This is easily the best book of this series. The world of the Velvet Basement explores different areas of sexual interest. This book includes living canvases, living art – full body tattoos – that are owned and shown off to other wealthy collectors. The Painted Heart is the first book with a plot that extends outside the kink and the couple and the first book to include a mystery. Both are wonderful.” Amazon Reviewer

I have had a promotion for The Bound Heart running which is doing well and generating interest in both The Veiled Heart and The Painted Heart which is great. Best rankings so far have been:


The Bound Heart:
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5 Free in Kindle Store
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Gothic ❤


The Painted Heart:
#16 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Gothic
#17 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Gothic
#21 in Books > Romance > Gothic

The Veiled Heart:
#17 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Gothic
#18 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Gothic
#22 in Books > Romance > Gothic

I think many readers felt here was a big difference in story type and focus between The Veiled Heart and The Bound Heart, with the release of The Painted Heart I think that distance has been narrowed and the three come together as a more cohesive group as we re-visit The Velvet Basement, the world of The Collectors and re-meet characters again.

The Painted Heart also launches the world of The Painted Sisters and is a prequel for my second series The Painted Sisters. It will be 4 possibly 5 books to be read in order with a touch more thriller / mystery than The Velvet Basement.  I am excited to already be a long way through Painted Trust, Edith’s story as she flees the dangers of a fledgling Skinner and places herself in danger in order to uncover the members of the resurrected outlawed sect of Collectors. I have Pinterest boards that give a mood and feel of what’s to come in that series.
For those of you who have read The Painted Heart. The leather wolf mask Blackburn and Evie are looking at in The Velvet Basement belongs to our hero in the next book in the series called The Fur Heart . The next three in The Velvet Basement series as sinking a little deeper and darker into the world of human needs and desires. The stories I think show that we are beautiful in our complexities and broken-ness, in our secret wants and needs. We are infinitely more beautiful and whole with them as a part of our lives than pretending they are not a part of us.

A big thank you to those of you who read my work and support me. The creative process demands that we release what we create into the world to have a life of its own, to have it witnessed. It is a very rewarding process to get reviews and emails about the books, thank you! 


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