Posts tagged with: Elizabeth Essex


Prelim ASTR 2014-01-10 at 2.25.56 PMHuzzah!  Today is my release day celebration of my 9th book, A SCANDAL TO REMEMBER, the 5th book in my Reckless Brides series.

I am both excited and happy to final bring this book to you. Why ‘finally’? Because writing this book nearly killed me. Actually, it was appendicitis that nearly killed me, but it was because I was deep in the process of writing this book, and hard up against a deadline, that I ignored my body’s rather strenuous objections and warning signs until it was nearly too late. 

In the aftermath I realized that I had written my own drama into the book: I had created two characters who fail to recognize their own warning signs of impending disaster until it is very nearly too late for them. 

Interested? Here’s an excerpt:

Isle of Wight, and the whole of the coast of England, was slipping away to the stern. Nothing could stop Jane Burke now. Not Sir Richard, nor the snide derision of the crew. Nor even Lieutenant Dance’s strange ability to soothe and discompose her all at the same time. 

Perhaps the Bible verse had it wrong—it was not the truth, but her lie that had set her free. The irony could only make her laugh. 

“You seem well entertained this morning, Miss Burke.” While she had been watching the isle, Lieutenant Charles Dance had been watching her. 

Jane tried to combat the rising heat in her face by turning into the wind. “It has been a most instructional morning.”

A twisted-up half-smile threatened to steal across his face. “And have all your—what did you call them?—collecting expeditions been as instructive?”

“If only.” But Jane thought it best to say no more on the subject of instruction, and what she had learned this morning. And so she instructed herself to smile more serenely while she prayed that her face did not color with betraying heat. “But I am very much looking forward to learning more.”

The lieutenant’s sharp, all-seeing glance slid across her face so fast she was surprised it didn’t cut her.

Oh, Lord. And there was the suffocating heat. It was a good thing the wind was chilling, or she would be as overheated as a boiled turnip. “I mean, I am very much looking forward to this overseas expedition. I have never collected outside of Britain, nor taken such a long expedition before. Two months is hardly the same as two years.”

“Yes, hardly the same.” His green, green gaze, which had moved on in a constant inspection of all the various and different parts of the ship, came again to rest upon hers. She could feel the pressing weight of his regard as if it were a stack of books sitting upon her chest. 

“You do know, Miss Burke, that the Admiralty’s estimation of two years is based upon a sort of minimum requirement for getting to the other side of the earth and back?” His gaze spared her for a moment as it swept up the bowsprit. “Two years is the least amount of time it could take, barring bad weather and unforeseen circumstances, which, I will scruple to tell you, can be counted upon to plague us every sea mile of the way. The truth is, it will undoubtedly take far longer than two years.”

The news jarred the breath from her. She had not known, though clearly she should have. She had planned both her stores and her funds for reprovisioning at the standard stops of Madeira, Salvador de Bahia, Rio de Janeiro and Valparaiso—just saying the exotic names had made her giddy with delight—to last only those two allotted years. 

No, she had been careful in her preparation and generous in her funds. And besides, she had provisioned for two people—Papa and her, before he had changed his mind and decided they were not to go—when she would be only one. And those provisions had been a keepsafe—something to go along with the meals she would take sharing the captain’s table along with the rest of the expedition, as had been arranged. She would be fine—although she was certainly hesitant, as well as curious, to meet the captain after the lieutenant’s cryptic but descriptive comments upon her arrival. 

“And if you were asked instead of the Admiralty, Lieutenant, how long would you have said the voyage was to last?”

“I would have said that we will be lucky to see England’s shores within five years, Miss Burke, not two. That is, if Tenacious lives up to her name, and doesn’t sink us all long before that.”

Jane absorbed the second blow in silence. She had thought only of what she might accomplish on such a journey, and not of the passage of time. In five years’ time she would be one and thirty. She would be the thing she had not wanted to admit to being, the thing that she told herself was not important. Being recognized as a talented, dedicated, scholarly conchologist had been what mattered. But the inescapable truth was that in five years’ time, after having taken herself across the globe and back, she would be irrevocably ruined for marriage. She would be a spinster set firmly upon the shelf.

It was a bitter tonic to swallow at the very start of her triumph. It was almost frightening.

Oh. This time it was she who looked more closely at the grim pleasure on the lieutenant’s face. “I see. You mean to frighten me, Lieutenant Dance.”

He nodded, all purposeful admittance. “I do, ma’am, I do. I mean for all of you, from Sir Richard on down the Royal Society’s muster roll to you, J. E. Burke, conchologist, to be frightened into understanding what might come. Sir Richard spoke of hardships. Make no mistake, Miss Burke, there will undoubtedly be hardships, but there will also be danger—very real, threatening danger. The dislike of the crew, and the resistance of Sir Richard will seem like nothing compared to it.”

He meant it, this sharp-eyed, grim-faced man. He believed the truth of every word he spoke. “You’re a cynic.”

He laughed into the wind. “Assuredly, Miss Burke. But at least I am not a worthless drunk.”


I don’t think it will be too much of a spoiler to tell you this is a ripping good yarn of a shipwreck story. And things will most assuredly heat up on the beach for our hero and heroine, and for one lucky commenter who will win a copy of A SCANDAL TO REMEMBER. Just leave a comment to enter!

Got to have it now? Links to all major retailers can be found on my website:


Ruby Tuesday: Elizabeth Essex

Welcome, ladies and gents, to another edition of Ruby Tuesday, that day when we take a moment to get to know one of our Rubies a bit better.  Today we have a special Release Day edition! (With a giveaway!!!)  Join us as we welcome 2012 RITA-nominee and historical romance maven Elizabeth Essex and celebrate her latest release, After the Scandal!  Take it away, EE!


Name: Elizabeth Esses

2009 GH Category & Title: Regency Historical: “Defiant”

What Happened to That Book: It became my 2010 debut novel, “The Pursuit of Pleasure”


What subgenre(s) do you write? Historical Romance

When did you start writing? (And why?) I’ve always written stories, but I turned my attention to trying to write romance seriously in 2005, after finishing writing what seemed like a very dry book about archaeology (although it did involve a shipwreck.)

How many books have you written? At the moment I’ve written eight novels, one novella, and two short stories. And that dry archaeology book.

Elizabeth’s Golden Heart Book

What are you working on now? Gracious, I LOVE the story I’m working on now. It is another historical novel, which begins with the heroine being hanged. From the neck. Until dead. Just my kind of opening.

If you could grow up to be one writer, who would you want to be? I’m having a pretty lovely time being myself, but I do very much admire Tracy Chevalier’s blend of historical fiction.

Where do you get your best ideas? Best ideas come from long road trips, when I am in my car and can’t write them down. I end up repeating the idea over and over to try and impress it upon my brain, like a song. Second best ideas come in the shower, also where I used to not be able to write them ideas down, but the eldest sprig has given me the cleverest waterproof notepad for my shower wall. Blessed girl. And my third best ideas come from reading “The English Home” magazine. It provides lovely realistic backdrops for the movies that play in my imagination.

What are your favorite subgenres to read? I adore historicals. I could live on a steady diet of the past for a very long time.

What was the first romance you ever read? The first full blown romance was “Shanna” by Kathleen Woodiwiss, which my college roommate purloined from her mother’s dresser. And then straight to “The Wolf and the Dove.” But I had been reading a steady course of Georgette Heyer for years by then, so it seemed like a very natural progression from Jane Austen to Georgette to The Wolf and the Dove to me.

What’s your day job? Full time writer and stay at home mom to a batch of very exuberant and active Essex sprigs.

The first Reckless Brides release

What was the first job you ever had? I was the soda fountain/ice cream girl at the Howard Johnson’s in my hometown. I can still scoop a mean three-decker.

What is the worst job you’ve ever had? Telemarketing. I think I lasted a grand total of three hours at that one. It was my version of hell.

College? Major? Post-grad work? I went to a very literary college, Hollins University in Virginia where they make Pulitzer prize winning poets, but I was reckless and headstrong, and only took one English class. Instead I devoted the rest of my time to Classical Studies and theatre arts. My degree was in Mediterranean Art & Archaeology and Art History. So naturally I had no choice but to go to grad school to get my Master’s in Nautical Archaeology, and was a Graduate fellow of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology.

Marital status?  Kids?  Grandkids?  Auntie?  I have been married to the Indispensable Mr. Essex for over twenty years, and am a proud mother to the energetic and exuberant Essex Sprigs, who are all still at home. The eldest leaves for college in the fall.

Where are you from? I grew up in a small town on the Connecticut shore, but I live far from the shore in the middle of Texas now.

Where would you build your dream house? I’m pretty sure I live in my dream house now, because this is where all the people I love live, but I would add on a beach house and a ski house if I were to really pull out all the dream stops.

If money were no object, where would you go on your dream vacation? A personal garden tour of England. With each stop followed my high tea in some cozy, comfortable place  full of deep armchairs. Aaahhh. Heaven.

What is the most interesting place you’ve ever traveled to? Nepal. The Indispensable Mr. Essex and I trekked across Nepal and Northern India on our honeymoon. I remember it so vividly that I set one of my books in Northern India (SCANDAL IN THE NIGHT).

What three words would you use to describe yourself? Just slightly off.

What piece of random trivia would you use to entertain a new acquaintance at a cocktail party? I would go with a compliment instead of trivia. I am always drawn to women with fabulous shoes, and I invariably start conversations with a compliment of her shoes.

What’s your astrological sign? I am a scorpio. And also, according to my children who have done the requisite questionnaire on Pottermore, I am a Slytherin. But I will say that I never would have gone over to the Dark Lord. Never.

What is your Myers-Briggs designation? I have absolutely no idea! Never done it.

Which TV show are you most addicted to right now? The only thing I record and watch faithfully is the BBC chat show “Graham Norton.” It never fails to amuse me. And the eldest sprig has tempted me to begin watching “Black Flag” which I am beginning to like very much (Thank you Toby Stephens!). But generally, I’d rather be reading.

What is your favorite movie of all time? “The Quiet Man.” Marvelous dialog. “Here’s a stick, sir, to beat the lovely lady.”

Do you like sports?  What team(s) do you follow? I like all sports in general, most particularly whatever ones my children are doing at the moment.  I am a big track & field enthusiast as well, and I coach a middle school track team. I am the ‘high jump whisperer.”

What hobby takes up the most of your time? I love to garden. Love it. Love to make things grow and blossom and prosper.

What advice do you have for new writers just starting out? Just keep writing. Keep it up. Just don’t stop.

What is the best writing advice you ever received? The late great Kate Duffy used to say, “Tend to the book.” I always feel that my energy is best spent making each book the best I possibly can.

Thank you, Elizabeth!  And now, here’s a special peek at the fabulous Ms. Essex’s latest release, After the Scandal.  FIVE (yes, FIVE!) lucky commenters today will receive a copy!

Releasing Today! Elizabeth’s Latest Reckless Brides Release

Propriety is no match for passion.


When Lady Claire Jellicoe agreed to a walk in the moonlight, she never imagined her titled companion might have brutal motives. Nor could she have dreamed up such a brave rescue by the most unexpected savior of all: an inscrutable nobleman with a daring plan of escape—and a deliciously tempting embrace…


Timothy Evans, the Duke of Fenmore, has palmed more treasures than he can count. Even for a man who grew up thieving in London’s stews, a stolen bride should be beyond the pale. But Fenmore won’t let scandal ruin the spirited beauty’s reputation. And now that she’s stolen his heart, how can he ever let her go…?

Ruby Release: Scandal in the Night by Elizabeth Essex

Since her 2009 Golden Heart final, Ruby Sister Elizabeth Essex has pretty much been a (Historical) Girl on Fire, publishing six books in two different series, garnering nominations for a Rita and an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, winning the Readers’ Crown for Best Historical of 2013, and piling up heaps of gushing reviews full of words like “dazzling,” “fast-paced,” “sophisticated,” and “smoldering.” As one Romantic Times reviewer put it, “Essex brings a breath of fresh and funny air to the Regency while her stylish writing and intelligent characters appeal to heart and minds. Pure, delicious, sexy pleasure awaits readers.”

All that is certainly true of her latest release, SCANDAL IN THE NIGHT, which I gobbled up in less than a day (not even stopping for chocolate!!) It’s got a fabulous setting, a terrific hero and heroine, and very passionate romance. Here’s the blurb:

scandalAssuming 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 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…

It is indeed a delicious read!! Here’s where you can find a copy at Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.

I had a chance to talk with Elizabeth recently—the first part of our interview follows. The second part will appear on the Dashing Duchesses blog on July 8.


Our First Ruby RITA!!! (And Other Thrills from the 2012 Nationals Awards Ceremony)

RWA Nationals 2012 ended nearly two weeks ago, but we’re still buzzing with excitement over the Rita and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony.

In addition to being in a ballroom with Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Linda Howard, Julia Quinn, Stephanie Laurens, Robyn Carr, Joanna Bourne, Deanna Raybourn, Victoria Alexander, Kristan Higgins, Cherry Adair and many, many more romance superstars (including RWA Lifetime Achievement Award winner Brenda Jackson!!), we had SIX Rubies up for awards, including our very first Rita nominees, Elizabeth Essex and Darynda Jones.

Given the size and strength of the competition, we’re delighted to report that fully HALF those Rubies took home the prize, and Darynda won our VERY FIRST RUBY RITA!!!!

For those of you who’ve never been, the Awards ceremony is rather like the Oscars (minus the goofy dance numbers), with dazzling colored lights, huge swathes of silky, velvety curtains, orchestral music, a baritone-voiced announcer, and a raised stage that nerve-wracked nominees have to climb up to to give their acceptance speeches, with a video crew filming everything and blowing it up on FOUR, count-em, FOUR enormous Jumbotrons.

Attendees are dressed in their fabulous best, as you can see here (left to right: Brenda Jackson and the model for all her heroes: her husband; Ruby Sally Eggert, looking gorgeous with fellow Firebirds Heather Nickodem, Diana Belchase, Kathleen Bittner Ross, and Talia Quinn Daniels; and a radiant Elizabeth Essex enjoying the glam).



As the nominees are announced, the Jumbotrons show special screens for each one with her author photo and book title, and for the Rita nominees, their beautiful covers. Behold some Ruby-licious examples:



If you’re lucky enough to win your category, up you wobble to the podium, trying to keep breathing, and praying your Spanx don’t spontaneously roll to the floor while you express your gratitude to all the amazing people who make your writing life possible. So, yeah, here are pictures of me and Liz Bemis and NORA FREAKIN’ ROBERTS all at the same podium. Really. NORA. Although her jewelry was maybe ever so slightly fancier than ours (Liz had to go with stuff safe for baby Riley to gnaw on, and mine was picked out for me by my teenage daughter at Claire’s). (Did I mention Liz got to SIT with Nora during the ceremony? And word is Nora spent more time cooing over baby Riley than paying attention to her shiny new Rita??? ‘Cause Nora is just that chill, and Riley is just that adorable.)


But, for the Rubies, the really big story of the evening was watching our wonderful Darynda snag that precious golden statuette!!!!

Here, recorded for posterity, is the story in pictures:

Left: One of the TWO times Darynda’s nominee screen popped up on the Jumbotron. (The other was for her nomination for Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements).

Right: Darynda stands up under the dazzling lights when HER NAME IS CALLED as the winner!!!




Left: Darynda makes her gracious speech, which includes a shout-out to her adorable Street Team, the Grimlets, and ends with a war cry of “RUBY DOMINATION!!” (Yay!!! You rock, Darynda!!)

Right: Darynda generously passes her Rita around to everyone for good luck, and gorgeous Ruby Vanessa Barneveld gets a special snuggle.






Left: a passel of Rubies (and no doubt future Rita winners), including Anne Marie Becker, Rita Henuber, Darynda, triple-Prism-award-winner Tamara Hogan, Laurie Kellogg, Liz Talley, and me, form a Wall of Ruby Pride.

Right: Darynda’s Rita at home, along with flowers from the proud folks at St. Martin’s Press, and her newly-minted Daphne.



Can we all just say WOW??!!!!!!!!!


Your Ruby Sisters are so proud of you, Darynda!!!


Here’s to many Ruby Ritas still to come!!!


Ruby Release Party: Elizabeth Essex’s ALMOST A SCANDAL

Woot!! Today we’re celebrating the release of Ruby Sister Elizabeth Essex’s FOURTH historical romance, the follow-up to her Rita-nominated THE DANGER OF DESIRE.

The new book, ALMOST A SCANDAL, is the first in the Reckless Brides series, (which will include A BREATH OF SCANDAL, due out on December 24, and SCANDAL IN THE NIGHT.)

Here’s a blurb:

Bold, brazen, and beautiful, the Reckless Brides refuse to play by society’s rules of courtship. But—come hell or high water—they always get their man…

For generations, the Kents have served proudly with the British Royal Navy. So when her younger brother refuses to report for duty, Sally Kent slips into a uniform and takes his place—at least until he comes to his senses. Boldly climbing aboard the Audacious, Sally is as able-bodied as any sailor there. But one man is making her feel tantalizingly aware of the full-bodied woman beneath her navy blues…

Dedicated to his ship, sworn to his duty—and distractingly gorgeous—Lieutenant David Colyear sees through Sally’s charade, and he’s furious. But he must admit she’s the best midshipman on board—and a woman who tempts him like no other. With his own secrets to hide and his career at stake, Col agrees to keep her on. But can the passion they hide survive the perils of a battle at sea? Soon, their love and devotion will be put to the test…

I was lucky enough to get to read an ARC of ALMOST A SCANDAL, and I can tell you it’s FABULOUS!!! Some of you may know I’m a huge fan of Patrick O’Brian’s seafaring novels (the Aubrey / Maturin books that start with Master and Commander). This book is like a Patrick O’Brian novel but with the romance front and center (and very hot sex)!

And it’s a very, very swoony romance. I truly loved both the main characters—they’re smart, daring, brave, loyal—and the passion between them is intense. There’s a moment when all they do is touch hands, and I was practically weeping.

You can grab your own copy at Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or any savvy bookseller near you.

You can learn more about Elizabeth and her other books at And here’s a picture of her signing books at the RWA Nationals Literacy Signing. 

At Nationals, I was also lucky enough to nab Elizabeth for an hour (I lured her with the promise of a barrel of grog), and we got to talk about her new book, her writing process, and her smart advice for aspiring writers.


Both the hero and heroine in the book truly love the British Royal Navy and are most at home at sea. Where did you learn so much about the seafaring life, and where did this story come from?

I’m totally absolutely in love with the navy. I grew up sailing in New England on windjammers (schooners). I love the sound of the wind in a sail. I love the connection to that world.

I think that was part of what led me to my first career, as a nautical archeologist (that’s someone who studies shipwrecks and the environment around shipwrecks). It was a scientific job; I wrote reports about load-bearing walls and technical things like that. But

to me, the experience was always something deeper about the ship and the people that sailed her. I’d constantly invent stories about the people, the real people who lived and died—and especially died (it’s a shipwreck, there’s no happy ending here)—on board ships.

It’s a world I love. I swear like a sailor, beause I was one. The men I worked with called me the Gangster Bitch of Nautical Archeology, and I called them the Gung-Ho Macho Stupids. I’d tell them they had to butch up. It was mostly boys because that was the nature of the beast.

When I made the transition out of being an active archeologist, I chose the Georgian era because it had the most action with the Royal Navy. And the men were dashing…please, Captain Wentworth.

 I had a lot of fun with this book because it was so in my wheelhouse. I’ve been wanting to write it for a long time, and was told it was a hard sell because it’s set in an entirely male world. My publisher was also concerned whether or not it would be authentic. They told me, “You really have to convince us you can make this work.” I also had to promise it would be so, so sexy.

Sexy it definitely is!! And the world it describes is dynamic and fascinating. I loved that the heroine wasn’t just hiding out as a boy midshipman—she was excelling as a boy midshipman because she’d grown up on her father’s ship and had helped her older brothers study for their lieutenantcy exams.

 Oh, good! I really liked the equality, and the fact that my hero and heroine come to each other from a place of competence. She couldn’t have pulled off impersonating her brother if she didn’t come in knowing what she was doing. I think that’s really important in a romance. I’m not always comfortable if the romance is about a power transition between the couples. I prefer to write people striving to be equals.

About the time you finaled in the Golden Heart in 2009 (making you a Ruby!!), you sold your Golden Heart book in a three-book deal to Kensington. Now you’re a Rita Finalist, and your second trilogy is coming out. That’s astonishing progress in just a bit more than three years! And amazing productivity. What’s your writing process like?

 It changes from work to work. There have been books—the Rita book—that came out of nowhere like a freight train. It was like butter. It just wrote itself. The character showed up talking, I could hear her. I never had to think about her backstory—I knew it.

It hasn’t been that way since, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t written a better book since then. The book coming out now was more of a struggle. Last RWA Nationals, I holed up in my room and wrote the book. It wasn’t flowing. But I stuck at it and kept attacking, asking, “How do I make this better?” I did an immersion class with Margie Lawson, and she kept saying, “This isn’t the start of the book.” I spent a week on three pages, and had to throw those out. And then I found the start, and it went like gangbusters…

The book I’ve written in the meantime had me clawing my way through the first draft. I put it aside, and then all of a sudden I knew what I needed to do to change the book: it was a total re-write, but it worked.

It’s like building a wall sometimes: you see only the bricks you’re shoving. They’re so heavy. I feel it’s called a craft for a reason because you have to do it bit by bit, word by word—those are the bricks. Dialogue, introspection, reaction, action, that’s the mortar.

I’ve learned to trust my voice, because I haven’t written any of my books the same way. I do what the book needs. I don’t do much else. I’m a slow writer, and real life publishing schedules now are damn fast. You get up to speed or you don’t get to market.

I got it done.

What’s your best advice for aspiring writers?

There are days when it’s poetry. There are days when it’s bricklaying.

There are things about my debut book now that I look back at and cringe, but all you can do ever is write your best book at the time. Holding on to it in the hopes that it’s going to be perfect belays the point. You’re not selling anything if you’re holding on to that story and not putting it out.

Trust your voice. Fear is a good thing—let it be a motivator. I’m right to be afraid; it’s going to keep the fire in the belly. I work on craft all the time, every single sentence.

No excuses.

But it’s also fun. Definitely. It’s so fun!!

Leave a comment or question for Liz today and be entered in a random drawing to win one of THREE copies of ALMOST A SCANDAL!!! (Oh, you want this book…believe me!!!)

The Latest Comments

  • Vivi Andrews/Lizzie Shane: The first cut is the deepest, but I barely feel them now – it’s just so good...
  • Bev Pettersen: The first rejection always seems to be the hardest. In anything. Great post, Vivi.
  • Vivi Andrews/Lizzie Shane: Thank you, Joan! And the same to you!
  • joan ramirez: One thing I’ve learned about being an author: Keep on. I wish all of you courage to do the same...
  • Vivi Andrews/Lizzie Shane: Congrats on your new series, Darynda! I’ll be sad to see Charley end, because I love...