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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Feature and Giveaway: Scandal in the Night by Elizabeth Essex


When the Reckless Brides set their sights on England’s eligible bachelors, nothing can stop them. But when they are strangers in a strange land, anything can happen…

The Spy Who Loved Her

Assuming a false identity as a prim and proper governess, the bold and beautiful Cat Rowan thinks she has finally escaped the wild misadventures of her past—and the wickedly handsome spy who seduced her in India. Imagine her surprise when her employer introduces his brother: the very same cad who destroyed her heart!

The One Who Got Away

The Honorable Thomas Jellicoe cannot believe his eyes when he sees his beloved Cat—the Scottish beauty who nearly jeopardized his mission in India. Disguised as a horse trader from the bazaars of the Punjab, the British spy risked his life for one night of passion in her arms. But here and now—breaking all rules of decorum—one heated kiss ignites a flurry of gunfire. For their enemies have followed them home. And love is the greatest danger of all…

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“I became a spy.” It gave Thomas little pleasure to have his work described thusly. However good he had been at it, gathering intelligence, spying was hardly an honorable profession for a gentleman. He had hoped never to mention his erstwhile career to his family—only to tell them he had made his fortune in horse trading and breeding. “You see, in India there was a northern proverb: `Let thy hair grow long and talk Punjabi, and thou shalt make a Sikh.'”

Thomas had first heard it spoken by his superior, Colonel Augustus Balfour, on the day almost fourteen years before, when Thomas had ridden back from his first assignment for the East India Company. Alone.

“Almost as soon as I had arrived in India, I was sent upon a particularly mortal expedition to buy horses for breeding stock in Baluchistan. Of all the Englishmen sent out by the Company on that expedition—twenty-three men—only I lived.”

Even after the passage of so many intervening years, the loss still ached like a bruise that should have long since healed.

Only he had survived the rigors of a year of caravan travel, the exposure to disease, the ravages of climate, and the predations of bandits and tribesmen, to return a different man than the boy who had left. When he had finally made it back to Delhi, he had looked and spoken more like a native than any son of pale Albion.

“A Colonel Balfour was the resident commissioner of the northwest provinces back then, and when I had told him all the things I had seen and heard in the course of the long journey, and what I had learned to make of them, well, that cagey gentleman concocted a devious, but simple plan. It was decided. I would go with him to Saharanpur, and Tanvir Singh, Sikh, trader of horses, finder of information, giver and keeper of secrets, I would become. I wrapped my hair that had grown overlong and unruly in a turban, and donned the kirpan and kara, the ceremonial dagger and silver bracelet, as the outward signs of the Sikh religion.”

James leaned forward in morbid curiosity. “Just like that? You take up a pagan religion?”

“It's not pagan, it's monotheistic.” But he did not have the leisure to debate theology with his brother. “I was a spy, James. That's how it's done. You can dissect my moral compromises at some later date.”

He had become the company's most secret weapon, passing across borders with impunity. He had learned to cull the meaningful facts out of his observations, while at the same time keeping himself invisible, hidden in plain sight amongst the teeming masses. “I took up a lot of things for expediency's sake.”

“Including Miss Cates?” his father probed.

“No.” Thomas's tone was every bit as steely and uncompromising as his sire's, hard and tempered by experience, full of the man he had become. “Do not make unfounded assumptions. There was nothing expedient about my association with your Miss Cates.”

Yet, how could he explain what Cat had been to him? It would do him little credit in his family's eyes to know he had abandoned the English way of life without looking back, and never thought another thing about it, through all the years he had roamed back and forth across kingdoms, deserts, and frontiers, until that late spring morning two years ago, when an angrezi woman in Rani Bazaar had looked at him, and made him feel something keen and bittersweet about the life he had so easily left behind.

It had been altogether unwelcome, that pang. He had loved his role as a clandestine agent in the Great Game of espionage between all the many powers in the shadows of the Hindu Kush. He had loved the horses, loved their beauty and their heart, and he loved most of all the freedom to go where he liked, and the intrigue of finding what went on everywhere he looked.

“It suited me—Balfour's version of spying. I was free to travel, and trade and breed horses. I earned an independent fortune doing so. I was beholden to no one, so long as I brought secrets, along with my horses, down from the Maharajah Ranjiit Singh's powerful Kingdom of the Punjab and offered them to the company.”

And they had taken him and his intelligence for granted, the company, like a plate of sweetmeats left outside a door by an obedient, invisible servant.

Yet, that morning, in the Rani Bazaar, the girl had appeared to him like the insistent vision of a remorseful angel, come to remind him of what he was, and who he had once been below the surface of his darkened skin. She drew his eye like a bright flame, a cold-burning torch amid the heat and profusion of the bazaar. An angrezi woman so very white, she was exotic.

She had looked up at him then, with her pale, clear gray eyes so composed and solemn, and something within him—the part of his soul that had unbeknownst to him grown weary of deception and restlessness—stilled and came to rest. Something within him whispered home.


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When not rereading Jane Austen, mucking about in her garden and simply messing about with boats, award-winning author Elizabeth Essex can be always be found with her laptop, making up stories about heroes and heroines who live far more exciting lives than she. It wasn’t always so. Long before she ever set pen to paper, Elizabeth graduated from Hollins College with a BA in Classics, and then earned her MA in Nautical Archaeology from Texas A&M University. While she loved the life of an underwater archaeologist, she has found her true calling writing lush, lyrical historical romance full of passion, daring and adventure.

Elizabeth lives in Texas with her husband, the indispensable Mr. Essex, and her active and exuberant family in an old house filled to the brim with books.

Places to find Elizabeth:


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62 comments :

  1. i love the sounds of the book--what was your inspiration for it?

    parisfan_ca@yahoo.com

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    1. Laurie,

      A couple of things inspired me: a long ago honeymoon trip (that I'll be posting about on the USA Today/HEA blog on Tuesday) and a re-reading of Rudyard Kipling's "Kim." In Kipling's book a orphaned English boy in India is groomed to be a spy. I always wondered what might have happened to him as an adult, so I put a little of him into my hero, Thomas Jellicoe's backstory.

      And the rest of the story...just came to me. :)

      Hope you enjoy! Cheers, EE

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  2. Ohh this sounds like a fun read! And a great looking cover!!

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    1. I'm glad you think so, Ada!

      And it is my FAVORITE cover of all my books (and I have had some gorgeous covers). But it captures a moment from the story so completely it just makes me smile every time I see it—which is often, because I keep of poster of it right above my computer.

      Thanks so much for chatting with me today. Happy reading. Cheers, EE

      Delete
  3. Adding this to my TBR! I love a good intrigue and romance :)

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    1. Huzzah! So glad you like the sound of this, Anita!

      Intrigue and romance is my absolute favorite combination.:)

      Enjoy, and thanks so much for stopping by today. Cheers, EE

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  4. Replies
    1. Sofia,

      I love this cover, too. I think one of the reasons is that we don't often get such a saturated, lovely green on romance covers. But it's a terrific contrast to her hair. :)

      Thanks so much for stopping by today, and wishing you happy reading. Cheers, EE

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  5. Replies
    1. Me, too, Shelia.

      It was a little bit of a stretch for me to leave my Royal Navy heroes, and venture out, but I decided that this hero, Thomas Jellicoe, needed to be slightly different from his older brother, Will, who had his story told in A BREATH OF SCANDAL (which recently won the Reader's Crown for Historical :) ) so I sent him to the other end of the world and left him to make his way. And this story is what happened.

      Hope you enjoy reading. Thanks for stopping by, and good luck in the drawing. Cheers, EE

      Delete
  6. Totally away from novels, I’m curious about the old house you live in. Since you were an underwater archeologist, you obviously love history. Is that one reason you chose an older home? Does it have some interesting history? This must also be why you are such a good historical romance author!

    I’m looking forward to reading “Scandal in the Night.” I’ve been hearing some really great things about it.

    Congratulations and wishing you continued success!

    conniecape(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Connie,

      I will admit to you that I am a serial 'older' house refurbisher. The house we live in now is the 4th old house we have fixed up. We started small with the first house the Indispensable Mr. Essex and I ever bought many, many years ago, and worked our way up to this one.

      It's not the oldest house we've ever refinished, but it is the biggest, and fits all of our family, with plenty of room left over for all the books. Although, now that I think on it, we do need some new bookshelves. There are stacks of books beginning to pile up on the floors. :)

      Wishing you hours of un-interrupted reading. Thanks for stopping by to chat. Cheers, EE

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  7. I love your other books so looking forward to this one. I love the cover!

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    1. Thanks so much, May.

      I've been looking forward to getting this book out to y'all for YEARS it seems. :)

      ANd it is my absolute favorite cover. I actually cried with joy when my editor at St. Martin's sent it to me. :)

      Good luck in the drawing, and so lovely to see you here today! Cheers, EE

      Delete
  8. Spies, danger, passion. Love it all! Gorgeous cover.

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    1. Carole, so nice to see you here today! (And I hope I might get to see you in Atlanta for RWA?)

      And as you said—spies, danger, passion—all the best ingredients for a historical romance. :) At least I think so.

      Wishing you happy reading (and happy writing)! And thanks again for stopping by. Cheers, EE

      Delete
  9. Nautical archaeology sounds fascinating; almost as fascinating as historical romance :)
    Love the sound of the book!

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    1. Linda,

      When I was younger, nautical archeology was my absolute favorite job in the world. But now that I've grown used to the creature comfort of my lovely old house, I don't think I could go back to the tents and latrine-digging days of my youth.

      But I do think I use absolutely everything I ever learned from Classics and Art History and Archaeology when I write my historicals. I hope you think so, too!

      Good luck in the drawing, and wishing you hours of summer reading time. Cheers, EE

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  10. Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Mary Jo. I love them all, but I really, really love the beautiful green cover of SCANDAL IN THE NIGHT. (I don't know how we're going to top that!)

      Hoping you have a summer full of great reading time in your favorite place. (Mine is under an umbrella at the beach where I grew up—I get to visit later in the summer!) Cheers, EE

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  11. what a beautiful cover..i want to read this book..
    thx u for the chance elizabeth :)

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    1. Nurmawati Djuhawan,

      Thank you so much for stopping by to chat, and I completely agree with you—it is a beautiful cover. My favorite.

      I hope you get a chance to read it—good luck in the drawing, and happy reading. Cheers, EE

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  12. oh yay so excited! I absolutely love spy stories <3

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    1. I'm excited, too, Lily! And thrilled to see you love a good spy story. :)

      Hope you have hours of lovely reading time this summer, so good luck in the drawing, and thanks so much for stopping by to chat. Cheers, EE

      Delete
  13. Nautical archaeology? sounds like something to get into. Are there more like this Nautical archaeology lined up?

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    1. Sherry,

      I studied Nautical Archaeology (study of shipwrecks) years ago (don't like to count that high!) and I still count my former colleagues as some of my best friends, and from time to time I send them questions I need answering. I think the book that has the greatest repository of my nautical knowledge was ALMOST A SCANDAL, which took place almost entirely on a Royal navy ship. Mostly I just use my knowledge of the Napoleonic Era and the Royal Navy as a backstory for my heroes.

      This book is entirely a departure, being set in Pre-Raj India, when the British East India Company was still in the ascendency. The hero, Thomas Jellicoe, is the brother of our Royal Navy hero from the last Reckless Brides novel A BREATH OF SCANDAL.

      Hope you enjoy it, and have plenty of time for lots of reading this summer. Best of luck in the drawing. Cheers, EE

      Delete
  14. I already read the first two books and I am super excited for this book! I've been waiting to read this book in a long time since I read a preview of it from Breathe of Scandal.

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    1. Oh, Sandy, I am SO excited to hear that!

      I know it seems like FOR-EVER between books, but I assure you that I am writing as FAST as I can (and still write you a great story!). I've written a novella for Christmas—THE SCANDAL BEFORE CHRISTMAS—which will be young Ian Worth's (all grown up) story of finding true love. And I'm currently working hard on a story that harks all the way back to THE DANGER OF DESIRE. This one is the Tanner's story. :)

      Wishing you best of luck in the drawing, and hours of free reading time this summer. Thanks so much for stopping by today. Cheers, EE

      Delete
  15. Your books always have the best covers! I'd love to read this one. Sounds like so much fun!

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    1. Thanks so much, LilMissMolly. It's so nice to see you here again. :)

      I absolutely LURVE this cover. It's my all time favorite. :)

      I can't wait for you to read this one, too, so wishing you best of luck in the drawing. Cheers, EE

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  16. I'm looking forward to reading this one!

    jenalang(at)live(dot)com

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    1. So glad to hear, Jena!

      I was a little worried about this one since it's a little out of my "Royal Navy" Wheelhouse. :) But I think you'll find a lot to read about in this one. :)

      Wishing you best of luck in the drawing, and thanks so much for stopping by to chat today. Cheers, EE

      Delete
  17. I loved watching some of those early films with the British in India (there was one with a young Cary Grant)- did you enjoy those films too?

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    1. Oh, DI, I think that one was "Gunga Din." Love those old flicks. And love ANYTHING with Cary Grant even more. :)

      I am a total TCM fan. I've been known to stay up all night watching those old fils—and of course I've also been known to stay up all night reading historical romance. Most recently I loved Julie Anne Long's "It Happened One Midnight." Loved it. :)

      Wishing you hours of happy reading and happy film watching this summer. Best of luck in the drawing. Cheers, EE

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  18. The book looks good. Where did you get the idea for the story line?

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    1. Lori,

      I got my inspiration for the story from a couple of different places: a long ago trip to Nepal and northern India, and reading some of Rudyard Kipling's short stories (Plain Tales from the Hills) and novels (Kim). I had written a little bit about a spy, and then combined it with a story about a governess I had also had kicking around. The two worked really well together, so I just kept writing.

      Hope you enjoy reading it. Thanks so much for stopping by to chat, and wishing you good luck in the drawing. Cheers, EE

      Delete
  19. I love the dress on the cover. I hope to read this soon.

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    1. Jen,

      Me too! I just love the saturated green color of the cover and the contrast with her hair. Especially since the artist perfectly captured how I pictured my heroine, Catriona Rowan.

      I hope you get a chance to read it soon, too! So good luck in the drawing and thanks for stopping by to visit today. Cheers, EE

      Delete
  20. The premise of Scandal in the Night sounds like my kind of story. I love it when a couple gets a second chance to get it right, and when you add in the spy adventure and intrigue, it's all the more interesting I'm looking forward to reading it.

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    1. Barbara,

      My favorite kind of story is when a couple gets a second chance at love. I really like it when the hero and heroine have some kind of history together. Actually, I want to write that into every story, but I have to change it up each time to keep the stories fresh. :)

      And this is my first hero who is an out and out spy, and not at all in the Royal Navy, so that was a point of departure for me. Hope you like it!

      Wishing you best of luck in the drawing, and hoping you get hours of reading time this summer. Cheers, EE

      Delete
  21. I love a good romance and this sounds like it's a great one. Thank you for the chance to read it!

    Wanda Barefoot
    flghtlss1(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. First, I just love your name. Perfect.

      And second, I'm so glad you like the sound of this book. I always start out because there seems to be a story I have stuck in my brain, but then in the process of writing, it becomes a story I'm going to share with other people. And that's always a little bit scary—I never really know if I've successfully translated what's in my head to what has gone on the page. :)

      Good luck in the drawing, and thanks so much for stopping by to chat. And for finding me on Facebook. :) Cheers, EE

      Delete
  22. Sounds like a wonderful book. Love the cover!

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    1. Cassie, I am so glad you're intrigued. I wish I had enough copies to just give them out the everybody, but that's just not possible.

      But in the meantime, we both have that lovely cover to look at. :) Sigh. It's just my absolute favorite. :)

      Good luck in the drawing and thanks so much for stopping by to chat today. Cheers, EE

      Delete
  23. A gorgeous cover and an excerpt that I did not want to end.

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    1. Oh, Mary, I am so glad yo liked the excerpt.:) I wanted to find a part of the story that hadn't been put up anywhere else. My publisher Macmillan runs the Heroes & Heartbreakers site, and they had Ch 1 & Ch 2, so I wanted to give y'all an exclusive. It was really tricky trying to move between the action taking place in England, and the action that had taken place earlier in time in India, and I hope I've carried it off for you.

      So here's wishing you best of luck in the drawing, and hoping you have lots of uninterrupted reading time this summer. All the best. Cheers, EE

      Delete
  24. Hi Elizabeth!

    I can't believe it's been 3 years since I first read one of your books but once I read Pursuit of Pleasure and I've loved all your stories since!

    I love all your characters whether they are the hero and heroine but the secondary characters as well and was wondering which character did you end up writing that ended up taking you in a different direction than you first thought you would go?

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    1. Jeanne,

      You have absolutely made my evening! I'm so glad that you've read them all! Wow. :)

      Which characters have taken me in different directions? All of them in some way or another. :)

      I start with an idea that I think I have for a character (or I have the way I wrote them as a secondary character in a different book) and it always seems that they surprise me at some point or another. For instance I had no idea that the hero of SCANDAL IN THE NIGHT, Thomas Jellicoe, was going to turn out to be so stubbornly determined, after having written him in A BREATH OF SCANDAL. Nor did I think the heroine, Catriona, would turn out to be similarly determined and stubborn. I always think that I am going to write opposites—two sides of one coin, if you will—but it never exactly works out that way. :)

      I hope you like Thomas and Catriona, and I wish you the best of luck in the drawing. I'm so glad you stopped by the chat this evening! Cheers, EE

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  25. I enjoyed the excerpt; it sounds like a great story!

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    1. JMcGaugh,

      I'm so glad you like the excerpt. I really wanted to give you something between the hero and heroine, but since my publisher had put out the first two chapters elsewhere, I wanted to give you the heroes thoughts about the first time he saw the heroine. I'm glad it worked. :)

      Good luck in the drawing, and thanks for stopping by tonight. Cheers, EE

      Delete
  26. You're a new author for me and this book sounds awesome. I'm adding it to my TBR stack.
    Thanks :-)
    Lori

    lorih824 at yahoo dot com

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    1. Lori,

      I'm so glad you found me here! I always love coming here to Ramblings because I find a lot of readers who are new to me. :)

      Hope I become one of your regular authors, and good luck in the drawing. Thanks so much for stopping by this evening. Happy reading. Cheers, EE

      Delete
  27. I loved meeting you at RomCon and learning how to play Crown over Anchor! I would like to read your newest book, too. :-D

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    1. Oh, Huzzah, Aquarian Dancer! I had the most fun playing dice there. Glad you did, too! :)

      I WISH I had had enough advance reader copies of this book at Romcon, but alas, not a one. But your chance in the drawing is today—so good luck. And thanks so much for finding me here today and for stopping by to chat!

      Wishing you hours of great summer reading. Cheers, EE

      Delete
  28. This looks like a really great book. And major kudo's to the cover artist - they are so eye catching.

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    1. Thanks, Jasmyn. I am so glad you like the look and the sound of it. :)

      SCANDAL IN THE NIGHT is my favorite cover by far. It really reflects the tone of the book.

      Wishing you best of luck in the drawing, and happy reading. Cheers, EE

      Delete
  29. That was a great excerpt. It looks like an exciting story.

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  30. Love historical romance, can't wait to read these. Thanks.

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  31. Love the excerpt. I have your book one, but still haven't read them. But i very interesting with cover your books, and i love Historical genre to. Can't wait to read this series, but i must read one your book i have first:)

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  32. Haven't read a book of Elizabeth Essex, but I love the sound of this! The cover is gorgeous. :)

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  33. Your book sounds wonderful.
    Theresa N
    weceno(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete