on January 15, 2019
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
The true story of the Scarlet Pimpernel . . .Angelette, the recently widowed Comtesse d'Avignon, only invited Viscount Daventry to her country house party as a favor to her sister. When the handsome British lord arrives—two days late—he's full of unnerving tales of unrest and violence in Paris. Angelette assumes it's all exaggeration...until her chateau is attacked and her life threatened. Daventry rescues her, and the two are forced to run for their lives. But when danger closes in, will the viscount stand at her side or save himself?
Is not the one you've been told. Hugh Daventry visits France frequently to import wine for the family business. On his way out of the country, he stops at the comtesse's house party out of obligation. But after meeting the raven-haired beauty, he tries to persuade her to leave France with him. When the peasants attack, he realizes he's already too late, and now he must protect Angelette, whose sharp tongue is far from angelic. Too soon the couple is caught up in the rising revolution, dodging bloodthirsty mobs, hiding from soldiers, and embroiled in the attack of the Bastille. Hugh wants nothing but to leave tumultuous France for the calm of England. He knows Angelette is intelligent and resourceful—a survivor. But can Hugh survive without her?
Thank you so much for hosting me at Buried Under Romance today! The first book in my Scarlet Chronicles series, To Ruin a Gentleman, releases today. I should say the first in the series, not the first book as Traitor in Her Arms came out in 2017. But To Ruin a Gentleman is a prequel, and it stands completely on its own. It’s the “true story” of the Scarlet Pimpernel—that famed English aristocrat who saved so many innocents from death during the French Revolution.
Here’s an excerpt from To Ruin a Gentleman. In it, a widowed countess hosts a ball for her friends, despite the dire warnings of her English visitor.
Between dinner and the ball, she’d had to change hastily into her scarlet ball gown as the butler requested a moment of her time to tell her several of the male servants had become ill and had taken to their beds. It was all quite strange as everyone had seemed perfectly well earlier in the day
And then the string quartet had been a trio. The cellist had gone home to see to an emergency. Angelette found herself in the position of having to apologize to her guests yet again. The house party was to go on two more days, and she could only hope this would be the last of the inconveniences. Still, after all of Daventry’s dire predictions, she couldn’t help feel that the servants’ absences felt suspicious. Was she blind to what was really happening?
It didn’t help that she’d been distracted by thoughts of the viscount all afternoon. How had he managed to make a kiss on the hand—her gloved hand—so erotic? For the first time in months and months, she’d felt the heat of attraction and arousal. She’d tried to convince herself it was because he was a novelty, someone new among the same group of powdered and stuffed men she usually surrounded herself with.
But she feared there was more to her attraction than just a fresh male face…and figure.
She was drawn back to the ball when her first dance partner, the Duc de Limousin, claimed his dance. He was graceful, if not clever, which meant she did not have to worry about her toes but did have to work hard at making conversation. As he led her through the forms of the minuet, she could not help but watch Daventry lead the Duchesse de Limousin in the same steps. He was not graceful nor did his attire draw the eye. In fact, in his black and silver silk coat, silver waistcoat, and black breeches, he looked positively funereal. With his broad shoulders and imposing height, he seemed to take up much more of the large ballroom than he ought. By right, she should have been the center of attention, but it was clear most of the onlookers watched him. Angelette could hardly fault them when she did it too. She couldn’t stop herself from studying the way his hand touched the duchess’s and remembering the way he’d held her hand, pressed his lips to her glove. She could imagine him peeling that glove off and pressing a kiss to her palm, her wrist, sliding his tongue up her inner arm…
“Are you feeling quite well?” the duc asked. “Your cheeks are flushed.”
She dragged her gaze from the viscount. “I can’t think why.” Her voice was breathless. “I suppose it’s because I haven’t danced in so long.”
“You must miss your late husband terribly,” he said, his painted lips turning down in sympathy.
“I do.” Perhaps that was the problem. She had loved Georges when she wed him and continued to love him for the two years they had been married. He was a good man, kind and pleasant. In the eighteen months since he’d died of a fever, she had missed his companionship. Perhaps if they’d had a child together, she might not have been so lonely, but though they’d tried, she had failed to conceive.
Now, looking at Daventry, she accepted another reason she missed her husband. She would go to bed alone tonight. For the first time since Georges had died, her body ached for the touch of a man. She wanted to be held, to be kissed, to be caressed in the dark. She couldn’t say why Daventry should arouse these emotions in her. She did not like the man…and yet her gaze strayed again to his hands and she imagined them once again on her bare skin.
A crash sounded and she glanced toward the doors to the ballroom. The servants were supposed to be bringing in refreshments for later. They had undoubtedly dropped something. She hoped her guests would be forgiving, as it was her first ball out of mourning. Just as she began to give some excuse to the duc, she heard shouting and another crash.
The musicians ceased playing and her guests began to murmur.
“Excuse me,” she said. “I shall see what the matter is. Please, continue dancing—”
The door to the ballroom burst open and a barefoot man dressed in a dirty white shirt and trousers stumbled inside. For a moment he appeared stunned at what he saw, but when the nearest footman challenged him, he raised the shovel he carried and struck.
Angelette screamed. The duc shoved her behind him, but she could still see the rise and fall of the shovel.
Several of the male guests started toward the peasant, but when more peasants rushed in after him, brandishing shovels and picks, her guests skidded to a stop. Shouts of “What is this about?” and “Get out!” and “Put down your weapons” resounded. Angelette knew she should do something. This was her château. She had to stop this. She pushed away from the duc, coming forward, only to have her arm seized violently and her entire body wrenched away.
She stumbled back, colliding with Daventry. “Come with me,” he said, pulling her whether she wanted to go or not.
“But you are taking me in the wrong direction.”
He was dragging her toward the French doors that opened into the garden. “I’m trying to help you escape.”
“But I have to see—”
A woman screamed and Angelette looked back to see more peasants had entered.
“You can thank me for saving your life later. Now, run!” He pulled her, and she was forced to follow him, whether she wanted to go or not. Another scream pierced the room, and Angelette stopped resisting. Lifting her skirts, she ran beside Daventry. Together they flung open the doors and ran onto the terrace. Light spilled from the ballroom onto the paving stones, but beyond was darkness.
One person who comments with the answer to Shana’s question will win a digital copy of Traitor in Her Arms.
Shana wants to know: Have you ever had to get out of a party or other social situation quickly? How did you manage it? Pretend phone call from your sick mother? Early morning the next day? Or maybe you just jumped out the window.
A review for To Ruin a Gentleman by Evelyn can be found HERE