Friday, June 26, 2015

Waxing Eloquent about Eloquence and Espionage

Sometimes, your heroine takes over the book.

When I first started writing the Lady Emily Capers (and didn’t realize that’s what I was doing), I made Ariadne Courdebas the girl who perpetually has her nose in a book and her hand on the dessert. The first book in the series, now titled Secrets and Sensibilities, was published before I had read any of the Harry Potter series, but I certainly recognized Hermione Granger as a kindred spirit. So with Ariadne’s love for all things literary, it wasn’t surprising that her character had a great deal to say in, Eloquence and Espionage, which launched on June 22. Take the moment she met the man of her dreams:

Ariadne would always remember the moment her life changed. She’d been with her dear friend, Priscilla Tate, whose betrothal to the Duke of Rottenford was to be announced that very night. Such a momentous occasion would have been cause for celebration, but for two things: Priscilla had decided she loved someone else, no less than the duke’s personal secretary, and someone had been blackmailing her with vague threats of dire consequences. Quite clichéd, actually. Ariadne would have added more specifics: demands for her family jewels, perhaps an order to walk naked past St. George’s Hanover Square on Sunday morning. Still, even with unimaginative threats, it had taken the combined forces of Ariadne’s older sister Daphne, Priscilla, and their acknowledged leader Lady Emily Southwell to uncover the culprits and bring them to justice.

But that night, while trying to outwit their nemeses, Ariadne had noticed a gentleman following her and Priscilla. He was tall and broad-shouldered, and he carried himself like a celebrated thespian, full of brash confidence and bravado. He’d been dressed like a Roman centurion, hair black as midnight streaming down to his shoulders and face hidden by a dark leather mask. And Ariadne had offered to distract him so Priscilla could make her escape and save the day.

He’d been standing at the top of the stairs where a balcony braced His Grace’s massive ballroom. Ariadne had approached cautiously, trying to conceive of the appropriate opening gambit in this sort of situation. Priscilla was the one gifted with the ability to sway a gentleman’s thoughts. Of course, it didn’t hurt that she had long curly hair of a lustrous gold, green eyes bright as emeralds, and considerable curves that she dressed to accentuate.

Ariadne was not so blessed. Her straight hair was merely light brown, and she generally wore it in a bun at the top of her head with a few contrived curls framing her round face. That night, she’d worn it undressed and flowing down her back, in keeping with the white diaphanous silk robes and laurel wreath that made up her costume of Athena, goddess of wisdom. Her eyes were an ordinary blue that was not dark enough to be termed sapphire or bright enough to be called cornflower. And her figure, to her ongoing consternation, tended to look more plump than perfect.

Had she been cast in one of Mr. Sheridan’s wonderful plays, she would likely have been the understudy to a minor character. So she thought it particularly bold of her to sashay up to the powerfully built centurion and say, “Have you no legions to lead that you must chase after us, sir?”

He was surveying the ballroom, bare arms crossed over his bronze breastplate, scarlet cloak draping his back, quite as if he had not noticed her approaching. Now his gaze swung to meet hers. The mask shadowed his eyes, but she thought they were dark, brooding.

Quite suitable, actually.

“And how could a gentleman fail to follow where beauty leads?” he countered with a practiced drawl. The perfection of it sent gooseflesh up inside her long white evening gloves.

“Yes, my friend is particularly lovely,” she acknowledged with a smile. “I would offer to introduce you, but she is promised to another, I fear.”

He straightened, raising his head above hers and making her feel surprisingly petite. “Why would you think I meant your friend?”

His Grace’s elegant ballroom was terribly warm from all the bodies crushed inside it, but she didn’t think its coziness was making her face feel as if she were on fire. For a moment, she couldn’t think of a thing to say. That was generally the case with her and boys. She remained tongue-tied; they tended too often to speak of unimportant matters such as horses and carriages and hunting.

As if he knew how his words had affected her, he leaned closer, raising his hand to touch her cheek below her mask with tender fingers, and she found herself trembling.

“You do not give yourself enough credit, my dear,” he murmured, and her breath hitched in her chest. “I imagine entire legions would march to the ends of the earth at one word from those pearly lips.”

Her nerves evaporated. Ariadne sighed. “Oh, and you were doing so well. My lips are not pearly, sir. No woman would appreciate that compliment. Who wants to think of her lips as white and round?”

His fingers touched her lips, soft as a feather, then withdrew. “I meant because they are delectably plump.”

Ariadne rolled her eyes. “Plump? I cannot think why I would approve of that adjective being applied to any part of my person.”

He straightened. “So you are proof against seduction.” She thought he sounded disappointed.

“I am proof against poor imagery,” she replied. “Syntax too. And don’t get me started on misplaced modifiers.”

Ariadne may be proof against poor imagery, but will she truly prove immune to the charm of her centurion? Find out in Eloquence and Espionage, on sale now from


And be advised, Marissa and I intend to spend next week being less than eloquent, as in we will be off celebrating with our families. Look for the next post on July 7.


QNPoohBear said...

I'm dying to read Ariadne's story. I loved her in the past books and I am so happy she insisted on her own story. Are you spying on me? Nose in a book [check], hand on dessert [check], Her straight hair was merely light brown, and she generally wore it in a bun at the top of her head [check], - give her brown eyes instead of blue. Thanks for the tantalizing excerpt.

Regina Scott said...

Spying on you? Goodness no, QNPoohBear. I'll leave the spying to Ariadne. :-)

I hope you enjoy the book!

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Ariadne and her Roman are delightful! :-)

Regina Scott said...

Thanks, Lynn! Now I just have to carve out time to write Daphne's story and finish the series. :-)