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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.

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 Congrats on your latest publication!! With six books on the shelves since your 2009 Golden Heart final, you’ve clearly been busy. Just look at all the cover gorgeousness:

 

six covers

 

How have you managed to be so prolific in such a short time? And what’s the most important thing you’ve learned about your writing process during that time?

essex author photoI don’t sleep much. 🙂

I will say overall, I have learned to work very, very hard. And in doing that I’ve learned two things in particular:

Write every day. Even a little. My writing is like a muscle that has to be kept in shape. Even a couple of days off, going to conferences or working on promotion, slows me down to a crawl. So I try and write every day, no matter what.

And I have learned to trust my voice. I have finally learned to give myself permission to write crap, and trust that I have the skills and tools to change it into coherent prose. And I have learned to trust that I have a unique perspective on the world—as does EVERYONE—that will come through in my writing.

The Reckless Brides series has a great tagline: “Shockingly brash and scandalously independent, the Reckless Brides are boldly rewriting the rules of love and marriage—one smitten bachelor at a time.”

And your heroines are definitely adventurous risk-takers. The first heroine, from ALMOST A SCANDAL, takes her brother’s place on a warship, passing herself off as (a very, very competent) midshipman. The second, in A BREATH OF SCANDAL, knocks a man cold on a ballroom floor with a fierce right hook. The third, in SCANDAL IN THE NIGHT, travels to India and embarks on a passionate love affair with a man she believes to be a Sikh horse trader (yum!).

I love how you bring back the sweeping energy and sexy frisson I remember from romances from the 80s, but without the gag-worthy political incorrectness of those books (gaaah!!) and with WAAAAAY smarter and more capable heroines. Did you read any of those sorts of books way back when? What draws you to heroines like the ones you write?

Well thank you! I do try. 🙂

And I couldn’t agree more about heroines who are Too Stupid To Live. I did start reading romances in ’80’s, and I remember being rather distressed at some of the passivity of a vast majority of those heroines. I wanted them to take action themselves, not wait for a man to take action, and then react or deal with the consequences of his decisions.

It’s a hard balance to write about a historical period during which such awful practices as slavery and bigotry were accepted parts of the culture, without being ‘revisionary.’ I work very hard to base my characters on real life people, or at least give them the opinions of real people of the time. For example, in my first book, ‘The Pursuit of Pleasure,’ the heroine is a feminist, whose opinions are informed by “Vindication of the Rights of Women,” a very real book published in 1792.

I am always drawn to heroines who either decide, or are forced by circumstances to go after what they want, even when it frightens them. Even when the consequences are dire. And especially when the consequences of not taking action are equally dire. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, it is taking action despite fear. Sometimes what my heroines want is a place in the man’s world of the early 19th century, like Sally in ‘Almost A Scandal,’ but other times what they want is family, like Catriona Rowan does in ‘Scandal in the Night.’ But no matter what it is they want, they are going to need courage and daring to go out and get it.

pavillionA big departure for you with SCANDAL IN THE NIGHT is that a considerable part of the book is set in India in the late 1820s. What made you decide to branch out towards such a different part of the world? Where did the inspiration come from?

I’m not sure exactly what made me want to write this book, which is a real stretch time-wise, taking place well after the height of the Regency period. And it has nothing to do with the Royal Navy at all—well out of my wheelhouse. I had to do a vast deal of research, but I will admit, I love research, so it was a real pleasure.

liz honeymoonI suppose I was simply inspired. The idea for ‘Scandal in the Night’ came from several different sources: more than twenty years ago the Indispensable Mr. Essex and I took a long trip to Nepal and Northern India (you can read that story http://www.usatoday.com/story/happyeverafter/2013/07/02/elizabeth-essex-scandal-in-the-night-honeymoon-trip/2480677/) I loved the countryside—the topography and the colors and the smells. And I learned a proverb that stuck with me: “Pilgrims seldom come home saints.” That phrase stayed with me, and when I became a writer, I just wanted to write a story that started with exactly that idea.

So I had my setting, and when I read a 19th century journal, “Travels in the Himalayan Provinces of Hindustan and the Punjab,” which related stories of expeditions throughout the Himalaya, including a particularly mortal expedition to buy horses in Baluchistan, I thought I had an interesting backstory for my hero. Then I reread Rudyard Kipling, and found my other guiding proverb: “Grow thy hair and talk Punjabi, and thou shalt make a Sikh.” And I was off and running.river

For my heroine, I wanted to create someone who was the complete opposite of my free-wheeling, wandering hero. So naturally, I had to give him a young woman who has already lost almost everything, and wants the only security and comfort of home and a family. Of course neither of them get what they think they want.

What’s up next for you?

I have an e-novella in the same Reckless Brides series, entitled ‘The Scandal Before Christmas,’ that will be out in November. It is the story of Ian Worth, whom we first met in ‘Almost a Scandal,’ and the young woman with whom he enters into an arranged marriage. It’s a lovely little holiday story full of light and cheer, and rum-soaked eggnog. Very unlike me. 🙂

Then, next March the next full length Reckless Brides novel, tentatively titled ‘After the Scandal,’ will be out. I’m working on that now, and it, too, will revisit a character we’ve already met—the young thief Tanner from ‘The Danger of Desire.’ He is no longer a thief, but is the Duke of Fenmore, but he can’t forget his past. He is desperately, and altogether secretly in love with Claire Jellicoe, whom we first met in ‘A Breath of Scandal.’ With this one, I’m back in my wheelhouse with counterfeiting, mayhem and murder on the gritty streets of Regency London.

After that I’ll be writing an as-yet-untitled novel that will take us back aboard a Royal Navy ship again. I don’t want to give away too much, but I’m pretty sure the story will start with a hanging. Of the heroine.

I can’t wait!!! Thanks for chatting here today! I want to invite everyone to join us on July 8 for the second part of our interview, which will appear on The Dashing Duchesses blog.

Meanwhile, grab your copy of Scandal in the Night and get swept away!! (If you leave a comment today, you’ll be entered in a random drawing for one of THREE free copies!!)

35 responses to “Ruby Release: Scandal in the Night by Elizabeth Essex”

  1. Congratulations on your newest release, Elizabeth. It sounds like a gem!

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  2. Hope Ramsay says:

    Elizabeth, congratulations on the book release and on your many, many accolades. I just love books set on sailing ships… but sexy a Sikh horse-trader-turned-spy sounds delicious too.

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    • Thank you, Hope! I have carried the seeds of this story around in my head for so long, it’s a bit surreal to see it out in the world!

      And I’m going to return the compliment and say how much I’m enjoying Last Chance Book Club. I’m on a tiny bit of vacation with my eldest daughter (at the North American Irish Dance Championships) and doing enjoying a spot of ‘summer reading.’ Absolutely marvelous!

      Thanks so much for stopping by today, and Cheers!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Oh, yeah, the spy/horsetrader is quite wonderful!!

      And Last Chance Book Club is right at the top of my TBR pile now!!! I’ve been looking forward to that one!

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  3. Congratulations on the new release. And another big congratulations on the covers. You really have been lucky there. Are you allowed much input?

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    • Thank you, Elizabeth. And yes, the cover Gods have been very good to me. But this is by far my favorite cover of all. It really portrays both the story and the characters, especially the heroine, in a way that none of the other covers really had.

      I did have input on this cover. Usually I am just asked for a ‘general description’ of the hero and heroine—hair and eye color—but this time I balked and sent them a small passage from the novel. It was a description of the first time the hero saw the heroine, and it described not only her physical characteristics, but her effect upon the hero. I really think the marvelous cover artist nailed it. 🙂

      Thanks so much for stopping by to chat this holiday weekend. Happy reading!

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  4. Jenn! says:

    Huge congratulations on your newest release. All your covers are lovely, and Scandal int he Night is no different.

    I also love what you wrote about heroines.
    “I am always drawn to heroines who either decide, or are forced by circumstances to go after what they want, even when it frightens them. Even when the consequences are dire. And especially when the consequences of not taking action are equally dire. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, it is taking action despite fear.”
    That makes for a wonderful character. I love to read and write about those type of women.

    And I must say how envious I am of you and your travels.

    Congrats, again, Elizabeth.

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    • Jenni,

      I am so glad to hear you like my interesting heroines. One of the things I heard a lot when I was a new writer, ending my first two manuscripts out to editors and agents, was that they had a hard time with my heroines. Now I do know that I have gotten much better at making my characters sympathetic (and empathetic) but I’m just so glad I stuck to my guns writing strong female characters that i wanted to read about.

      And I must say that for the most part, my exotic traveling days are over. I am no longer the kind of gal who can camp out for an entire summer, or backpack across the Himalayas. Age has it’s privileges, and one of them is air-conditioning. 🙂

      Cheers, and thanks for stopping by. Happy reading. 🙂

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  5. And I want to take a moment to say a huge THANK YOU to Elisa Beatty for hosting me here today. So thoughtful and generous—sisterhood at it’s Ruby finest. 🙂

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  6. Rhonda Jones says:

    I really need ti visit your website. I thought Scandal was your only series. So more books to buy. Congrats on the release. I have the first two will get the last.

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    • Rhonda:

      I am so glad you’ve discovered my first series here. 🙂 But I will tell you, they were for Kensington’s Brava line, so they are written to be much steamier than the St. Martin’s books. Not that there’s anything wrong with THAT!

      They are all still available at Amazon and B&N and Apple Store. 🙂

      Happy reading!

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  7. June Love says:

    Elizabeth, congratulations on your newest release! Elisa, great interview!

    Elizabeth, what you said you’ve learned about yourself and writing really resonated with me. I have learned that writing every day makes a huge difference, but I’m only starting to trust my voice. I’m in the process of giving myself permission to write with a flow and not falter by critiquing every word, line, or paragraph. I’m hoping the revision phase won’t be too mind-boggling.

    Oh, love your covers. Especially this last one!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      BOTH those pieces of advice were fabulous.

      Writing every day, and freely writing crap (knowing you have the power to weave and tweak and rework it into good stuff) are both crucial to getting anything done.

      I’m just coming off the better part of a year of not having time to write (several huge work projects came on at once, and I had to give myself permission to back off of SOMETHING). It’s been a challenge to get started again, but doing at least SOMETHING every day is starting to turn the spigot on.

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    • June,

      (I am trying this post a second time—I’m traveling with my daughter and internet is somehow spotty—so please forgive me if this shows up twice.)

      I am really glad that advice resonated with you. One of the things that really bogs me down is too much self-editing while I write. I’ve come up with a new ‘writing schedule’ for myself where I start the morning off with a 1 hr/1 k exercise that forces me to just go, go, go. I barely stop, even for the typos. Now, there are days where the stream of consciousness is just garbage, but it is a rare day when there isn’t SOMETHING useful in the sprint.

      Wishing you happy writing!

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  8. Nancy S says:

    Elizabeth, I love your Scandal series! I had no idea that you had another series out. Can’t wait to read them! I also can’t wait for your upcoming Scandal books! I just discovered you as an author a couple of months ago. So glad I found your books!

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    • Nancy,

      I am always so happy to hear that someone has discovered my writing. 🙂 And yes, there are three more Essex books, all set in the same general world as my Scandal series, so hopefully you’ll feel right at home. Although I always feel I need to caution readers who are going to my earlier books that they were written for a steamier line of publication, so there is a higher level of sexuality in then. JUst so you know. 🙂

      Wishing you hours, and hours of great summer reading!

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  9. Congratulations, Elizabeth!! LOVE your covers. 😀

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    • Anne Marie,

      Thank you so much. 🙂 I wish I could take credit for my covers, but I have to admit that I’ve been pretty lucky. Although I will say it again and again—this cover for Scandal in the Night is my absolute favorite of all. I don’t know how on earth they are going to do another one as beautiful. I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed and hope!

      THanks again for stopping by to chat. 🙂

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  10. Congratulations! I can’t wait to read this one. I’m on a serious Tessa Dare glom right now, but I sense an Elizabeth Essex buying frenzy coming on…

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    • Jamie,

      I am a HUGE Tessa Dare fan. I loved Any Duchess Will Do. Loads of fun and very sexy.

      I like to hope that if you like her books, you’re also going to like mine, but generally, my tone is a little darker and grittier. But still oh, so beach-worthy. 🙂

      Wishing you hours and hours of reading this summer!

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  11. Addison Fox says:

    Congratulations on the new release, EE!!! I so love your books and am thrilled I’ve got a new one to curl up with!!!!

    Hugs,
    Addison

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    • Addison,

      It is always lovely to celebrate another book making its way out into the world. And I want to return the congrats and say how much I am looking forward to reading The Paris Assignment when I finish my current WIP. Reading for pleasure is the one thing I miss the most about writing full time—it’s the one thing that has to go if I’m to keep on schedule, and keep my voice strong.

      Cheers, and thanks so much for stopping by.

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  12. A hanging? Of the HEROINE?!!! Good gracious, you certainly know how to hook us, don’t you…

    I’m on the last pages of another book, and then I hope to dive deep into SCANDAL IN THE NIGHT (which, by the way, I always hear in your *particular* way of saying it.)

    What joy!

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    • Oh, I wondered who was going to pick up on that, and I should have known it would be you, Eileen. 🙂

      I came a cross a simple marvelous story in a British house magazine (the kind of glossy periodical the Indispensable Mr. Essex calls “house porn”) and I knew I had to write this story about a hanged girl and the professor of anatomy. To say anything more would be a massive spoiler alert, and frankly I haven’t got much else about the story sorted in my head except that hell of an inciting incident. 🙂

      Hope you can squeeze in some reading time this summer! Thanks so much for stopping by to chat!

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  13. Cheryl says:

    Great interview. Thanks for have this contest for Scandal in the Night.

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    • Cheryl:

      Thank so much. I hope the interview has piqued you interest in the book, and best of luck in the drawing.

      Hope you have hours of good reading time this summer. Cheers!

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  14. Julie says:

    I can’t resist a good spy story. Thanks for the interview, and the chance to win!

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    • Julie,

      I hope you are going to love this one. I had a bit of a challenge with this story, as it unfold is two simultaneous timelines, which was murder to write. (No pun intended.) 🙂

      But I think you’re going to like it! 🙂

      Cheers, and best of luck in the drawing.

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  15. Congratulations, Elizabeth. Love the cover and the blurb. Going to try to follow your advice about writing every day and look forward to reading about your horse trader!

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  16. Congrats on another wonderful release! You do us Ruby Slipper Sisters proud!

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  17. Elisa Beatty says:

    With the help of random.org, we’ve got three winners of copies of SCANDAL IN THE NIGHT: Julie, Cheryl, and Nancy S.

    Elizabeth will be in touch with you via email!

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