Good morning, Princesses! I hope you are all having the happiest of holidays.
Today is the official release day for Book II of the Reckless Brides: A BREATH OF SCANDAL.
Shockingly brash and scandalously independent, the Reckless Brides are boldly rewriting the rules of love and marriage—one smitten bachelor at a time…
Romantic Times has given A BREATH OF SCANDAL 4 1/2 stars! And today I’m going to be giving away a copy to a randomly selected Princess, so be sure to leave your comment for your chance to win. :) So here we go!
In the game of kiss and tell, there are no rules…
THE LADY IS A KNOCKOUT
Forced by her family into an engagement with a man she can never abide, Antigone Preston knows only a scandal will save her from a loveless marriage. But knocking a man down to the ballroom floor with her fists brings dangerous consequences. She may have ruined her reputation, but now she’s endangered her heart…
THE OFFICER IS A GENTLEMAN
The son of an earl and a career navy man, Captain William Jellicoe has no interest in the frivolities of London—and even less in the institution of marriage. But there’s something steering him toward Antigone. He has never met anyone as brazen and unconventional as…himself. But will he risk it all for a woman who still has the breath of scandal hot on her lips?
Here’s an EXCLUSIVE excerpt, in which we meet our heroine, Miss Antigone Preston, at a country ball.
Antigone Preston had hoped to spend the evening unprofitably, laying low in an unseen corner of the ballroom. But her hostess, Lady Barrington, stopped her with a tap of her fan.
“Miss Antigone, we must take you in hand. My dear Mr. Stubbs-Haye.” Lady Barrington called to one of the young men slouching about. “How do you do this evening? How is your dear mother? Let me recommend Miss Antigone, here, as a most desirable partner. We must have her dance this evening.”
Antigone chose to make no objection to such an introduction. She would have been content to stay with her sister, but Cassandra appeared to have been persuaded to dance the set with a handsome young man by the very encouraging name of the Viscount Jeffrey, who was already leading her sister away on his arm. And Mr. Stubbs-Haye seemed innocuous enough.
For his part, Mr. Stubbs-Haye was also smart enough to know an order when he heard it, no matter how softly veiled, and self-interested enough to act upon it without delay. “I should like nothing better, my lady. I should be honored if you would consent to dance with me, Miss Antigone.”
She consented, the gentleman offered his arm, and at the cessation of one piece of music, Antigone found herself being led out beneath the dazzling chandelier to the middle of the crowded dance floor in almost happy anticipation of the next. In the uncomplicated, goodhearted company of a ruddy-cheeked sportsman like Mr. Stubbs-Haye, she might actually enjoy herself.
The musicians struck up a country dance, and Antigone tried to lose herself in the pleasure of the lively steps. But in a few measures, when they found themselves at the top of the dance for a moment, and the moment called for conversation, Mr. Stubbs-Haye ended all her enjoyment.
“Well, I must say, Miss Antigone.” Mr. Stubbs-Haye leaned his head across the gap to impart his confidence. “I am surprised to hear about you.”
“I’m not.” Antigone knew well enough that he must be referring to her engagement to Lord Aldridge—which was mean to be a secret—but if rumors were to be shared, perhaps she might exchange Mr. Stubbs-Haye’s for one of her own. “And pray what have you heard about me?”
“That old Aldridge has his hooks in you. You don’t exactly look the type.”
His bald, nearly vulgar statement threw her uncharacteristically off her stride. An uncomfortable heat settled between her shoulder blades and no doubt blotched up her neck. She put something more tart than vinegar into her voice. “And pray what type is that, Mr. Stubbs-Haye?”
“Ah, ha-ha.” A roguish tilt of his head supplied all the innuendo his words had not. “Manners forbid a gentleman, and all that.”
“Manners ought to have forbidden a gentleman from making reference to a lady’s type in the first place, but that doesn’t seem to have stopped you, Mr. Stubbs-Haye.”
“Ha-ha. Too true. But I tell you something. When the time comes, and you want a man who knows what to do with a lively girl like you, you remember your friend Gerry.”
“Mr. Stubbs? Are you perchance drunk? Or merely suicidal?”
“Stubbs-Haye,” he corrected without an ounce of shame, smiling at her in a way that did not inspire confidence in either his sobriety, or in appeals to his gentlemanly character. “Ain’t you just a lively, taking little thing.”
And as she skirted past Mr. Stubbs-Haye to circle around the gentlemen next down the line, Mr. Stubbs-Haye reached down, and quite deliberately patted her bum.
Antigone knew this—the deliberateness—because the dance called for no touching whatsoever at that point in the proceedings.
She instinctively sidled out of his reach, her discomfort rapidly distilling down into ire. She may have been a country miss, more at home with horses and huntsmen than dandies, but surely manners in Hampshire were not so very different from those six miles away at home, as to permit gentlemen such liberties?
“Sir! I have no wish to be a ‘taking little thing.’” Antigone attempted to keep her voice low—Mama would have apoplexies if she heard her daughter employing sarcasm in Lady Barrington’s ballroom—but Antigone could only think dark humor was necessary in such a case. “Nor do I wish to be pawed at like a tavern maid, Mr. Stubbs-Haye. Please, kindly confine your dancing maneuvers to the prescribed areas. Or-”
Antigone let her threat subside. If they had been in the upper rooms at the White Horse tavern she would have simply abandoned him on the dance floor and walked away, manners and appearances be damned, and seen to it that he was sent the wrong way on a hunt to come a cropper in a hedge. But they were not in Wealdgate village, and her mother’s tense instructions for behavior in Lady Barrington’s vaunted ballroom had not included direction on what to do when pawed by drunk, or otherwise obtuse gentlemen. As it was, her forceful style of addressing Mr. Stubbs-Haye was drawing curious eyes in their direction.
Well, perhaps the censure of his peers would help to stifle Mr. Stubbs-Haye’s ungentlemanly urges. And yet it seemed to Antigone, not all those glances were friendly or sympathetic. The gazes of the couple now nearest to them—a windswept-looking blond man and his much fairer skinned sister, for their familial resemblance was unmistakable—darted back and forth between the partners, seeming to question what she had done to invite such unwarranted liberties.
Oh, for heaven’s sake. Antigone felt the heat in her face flame higher, until she was sure it must be singeing her eyebrows. She certainly was not encouraging Stubbs-Haye. She had only just met the confounded man, in whose character Lady Barrington must be sadly deceived.
Antigone cast a glance over her shoulder toward the silk upholstered chairs where her mother sat with Lady Barrington, to see what they made of Mr. Stubbs-Haye’s egregious behavior.
Yet that proved to be an error of the gravest kind, for while her attention was diverted, Mr. Stubbs-Haye took the opportunity to make good on his vulgar promise, and reached down and groped her bottom. Roughly.
And that, as they were wont to say, was that.
Before another thought could force prudence upon her brain, and remind her that she meant to be good, and proper, and quietly supportive of her sister, Antigone simply hauled off and punched Mr. Gerald Stubbs-Haye with every ounce of indignant anger surging from her affronted behind. Luck, and the full centrifugal force of her blow would have it that she struck him squarely on the chin.
He went down hard. Felled like a tree, crashing to the ground in a tangle of flailing arms and quivering, satin-breeched limbs.
Mr. Stubbs-Haye, it would seem, had a glass jaw.
And as she stood over him, panting with the pain in her hand and not a little satisfaction, everything else stopped.
The music faded to a scratchy end, and all eyes turned to her.
No one spoke. No one came forward to offer her any kind of assistance or support. No one so much as moved a muscle. For a the longest moment, the crowded room was so quiet Antigone fancied they could all hear the pant of her breath and the low creak of her heart turning over in her chest. In reality, there was only the pathetic and decidedly unmanly moans of Mr. Stubbs-Haye.
Oh, Lord help her. She had certainly stepped in it this time.
Hope you’ve enjoyed a little peek at A BREATH OF SCANDAL! Leave a comment and be entered to win a copy today!
Thanks to all my fellow Plotting Princesses for letting me share and celebrate my latest release with them. Cheers, and the happiest of holidays to all!
Princess Elizabeth, I hope you had a delightful Christmas holiday with the family. For those who haven't had a chance, rush out and buy this book. It is absolutely charming, witty, and very, very sexy. I read it pretty much in 1 sitting.
You can never go wrong with one of the books by Ms. Essex. Happy Holidays, my dear.
Huzzah, my mobile wi-fi is finally working! Good morning from the US interstate system zooming north to Colorado! (I love when I can figure out technology!
Thank you Kathy, for your lovely kind words about A BREATH OF SCANDAL! This book was, for some reason unknown to me, really difficult for me to write. It think it may have been because I really, really wanted to establish a friendship between the hero and heroine, and keep the tone between the two of them very light, because the subplot got a little dark.
And it's always a great pleasure to share my books with the Princesses! Cheers!
Hi Princess Elizabeth! I'm so excited about your newest release. I love your books! I can hardly wait to read it. Hope you have a great vacation in CO!
Thanks so much Karilyn! I really love the couple in A BREATH OF SCANDAL. They were the first hero and heroine I ever wrote, and even though the first story I wrote for them was rubbish, I kept them around in the back of my head and eventually wrote them a much better story. :)
ANd I'm going to give HUGe props to the Indispensable Mr. Essex, who set up my mobile hot-spot so I could chat with y'all from the roads (scary icy in Texas but clear north of OKC, in case anyone else is out and about this blustery winter morning!).
THanks so much for letting me visit and share with my pals at the PP! Cheers.
Wow this looks like a great read. i don't know how I missed it!
Don't worry, Nancy, it's just come out, so you haven't missed it (or me) for long! And the first book in the Reckless Brides series, ALMOST A SCANDAL, is still available as well.
Wishing you the best of luck in the drawing, and happy reading. Thanks so much for stopping by to chat today. Cheers!
Love your feisty heroines. Hope you had a great Christmas and hope this book sells a million copies!!!
Yes, Liz, you can ALWAYS count on me for a feisty heroine (except I can't call them 'feisty'—too modern a word for my time period!).
THank you for your kind wishes! I hope they sell like hotcakes, too! :) So calling on all PP's to like and tag when you have a chance.
Lovely to chat with you here today. Cheers!
I so love all your books - it's always a joy to read an author who has a wonderful way with words- and characters - : )
I'm thinkin the weather in dallas warrants a nice roaring fire, hot cocoa and an Elizabeth Essex novel -
I can't think of a more perfect way to spend an evening. At the moment, where I am it's 15 degrees outside and the idea of a nice warm fire is heavenly. :)
Hope you find time to curl up with a book, and hope even more that it's mine. :)
Thanks for stopping by today to chat. Cheers!
Ah, Princess Liz, Congradulations of the new book.
I'm afraid I would be just like your heroine - punching the guy out! So much fun....!
Got to go get it!
Let's make that Congratulations ....not the other word I typed. LOL
I don't know if I would have the nerve to actually punch someone out, but I would certainly want to! And I would have asked one of my brothers to do the job for me. (And this is something the hero suggests that he would have done for his sister—very sweet.)
So glad you liked the excerpt—tell your friends! :)
Thanks so much for stopping by to chat. Cheers!
Wonderful excerpt...this looks like a great read (I love that the heroine's name is Antigone)! You're a new author to me...congratulations on this new release! Thank you for sharing and happy holidays!
Chiming in late—I'm off with the Essex sprigs for their Christmas vacation, but I am THRILLED that I'm a new author for you. A BREATH OF SCANDAL is my 5th book out, so if you like what you read, there's more in store for you!
Thanks so much for stopping by to chat! Cheers.
AND WE HAVE OUR WINNERS!
Nancy and PC each get a copy of A BREATH OF SCANDAL.
Please email me at elizabeth (@) elizabethessex (dot) com. (Just take out all the spaces and put in the dot!
Congrats and cheers!
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