That Scandalous Evening

( 28 )

Overview

A Disastrous Season

A simple statue began the scandal.

A Lady Concealed

An innocent English miss conceived of it, her hands gliding across the clay, delineating each smoothly defined muscle and sinew, creating a sculpture of the man she worshipped. When the likeness was exposed, along with Miss Jane Higgenbothem's secret tendre for Lord ...

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Overview

A Disastrous Season

A simple statue began the scandal.

A Lady Concealed

An innocent English miss conceived of it, her hands gliding across the clay, delineating each smoothly defined muscle and sinew, creating a sculpture of the man she worshipped. When the likeness was exposed, along with Miss Jane Higgenbothem's secret tendre for Lord Blackburn, the ton's gleeful contempt sent the lady back to the country in disgrace.

A Gentleman Revealed

Now, a decade later, she's back in London, as a chaperone to her beautiful niece. But to Blackburn, Jane's unwitting model, the cool, reticent spinster is still a challenge. She once made the arrogant rake a laughingstock: so why is he tempted to revive an affair that almost began so long ago, on one scandalous evening?

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Editorial Reviews

Debbie Macomber
Christina Dodd keeps getting better and better.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Miss Jane Higgenbothem was ruined and sent home in disgrace when her youthful adoration for the rakish Ransom Quincy, Marquess of Blackburn, was exposed--along with the nude statue she made of him. Now 11 years later, she tries to keep a low profile on her return to London as chaperon to her young niece. Unfortunately, she immediately bumps into Ransom again, who has never forgotten his humiliation at her tendre or the undersized statue of him. His revenge, he decides, will be to court her--not only will it irritate her, but, the war hero believes, it will distract gossipy polite society and the French from his search for a ring of spies. But both of them have grown up, and the stuffy Ransom has not counted on the mature Jane's resistance nor on his growing attraction for her. Dodd A Well Pleasured Lady combines the ambience and majesty of Regency England with witty dialogue, a fun cast of characters and plenty of plot twists. Sept.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380790913
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/1998
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.72 (w) x 10.92 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Christina Dodd's novels have been translated into ten languages, won Romance Writers of America's prestigious Golden Heart® and RITA® awards, and been called the year's best by Library Journal. Dodd is a regular on the USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and New York Times bestseller lists.

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Read an Excerpt

"Let us hope no one remembers the scandal." Eleazer Morant stared down his quivering, rabbitlike nose at his sister-in-law. "I will not have my daughter's good name tainted by the tincture of your disgrace."

Already dressed in her outmoded brown traveling garments, Miss Jane Higgenbothern sat upright in the hard chair. She was, she knew, the picture of dignity and tranquillity. She worked hard to achieve that image, and for just such moments as these. Eleazer had not summoned her to this dimly lit parlor just to whine again about that ancient scandal, she was sure. So why was she here?

In well-modulated tones she answered, "I cannot imagine the ton will be interested in anything that happened so long ago. They are ever on to some new tidbit."

"Except that this scandal happened to Lord Blackburn."

She lowered her gaze to her gloved hands. The carriage was waiting. Adorna was waiting. London was waiting.

And Eleazer droned on. "Lord Blackburn is one of the richest men in England. He sets the tone. Everything he does is copied." His knuckles turned white as he gripped the back of an old-fashioned highbacked chair. "Yet despite. all that, I understand there are some who still call him 'Figgy.'"

Jane winced. "My behavior has been exemplary since my return from London," she answered stoutly.

"You still sketch," Eleazer said in a tone usually reserved for accusations of prostitution.

"All ladies sketch."

"Your skill betrays you."

"I'll try to do worse."

"Don't be saucy, miss. Those portraits you do are scathing, as you well know."

Her portraits were really nothing more than quick outlines, impressions Janegathered from the people around her. But Eleazer had once seen one she'd done of him, and he had recognized the parsimony shining in his eyes. He had not forgotten—or forgiven.

Flipping open the fat book of accounts in his hand, he shook it at her. "I can scarcely yet believe I financed that ill-begotten season of yours. It was not my duty to stand the blunt, but I did it on my dear Melba's urging. As I told her then, nothing good can come of this." His fingernails scraped the leather binding. "I was correct, as usual. Nothing good did come of it."

She'd heard this refrain many times. Eleven years ago he had paid for her clothing and rented a house in a fashionable part of London. And how had she repaid him? With disaster. But he hadn't done anything for her. He'd done it for Melba. For Melba, her sister and his wife, whom he had revered with all the meager passion of his mean-spirited heart.

Jane had done it for Melba, too. For her beautiful older sister. Even at the age of eighteen Jane had known she was ill suited to society, but Melba had lightly dismissed her qualms. "Darling, you must marry. What else is there for a lady to do?"

Looking back, Jane suspected Melba had known she was dying, and maneuvered to move Jane from her home to her own household. Now, faced with Melba's widower, Jane knew her sister had been right. It would have been better to be any man's wife than to be Eleazer's mere dependent.

"I've been your housekeeper. I've raised your daughter." She took a quiet breath. "Now I'll be her companion."

He turned to the window and stared out at the street, then leaned forward as if he saw something that interested him. "I could have hired someone else to do those things, and more cheaply."

From outside she heard a shout. Rising, she saw across the street. A rag-clad woman had stolen an apple, and now she cowered from the blows of a streetcart vendor. Jane flinched at the sight. Only Eleazer's largesse stood between her and just such a scene.

"I have never been invited to invest in Blackburn's business concerns." He tossed her a malicious glance. "Because you embarrassed him."

She had embarrassed him? Jane bit her tongue. No doubt that was true. But she wondered, sometimes, why no one cared that Lord Blackburn had ruined her. Why a female's reputation could be held so cheap.

Yet none of this mattered anymore. Eleven years had passed since she'd lost her respectability and her muse in one dreadful episode. "I question if Lord Blackburn's consequence has suffered unduly from the incident."

"Lord Blackburn's repute is ever growing." Eleazer craned his neck to watch the constable drag the woman away. "When he outfitted a regiment and led them to the Peninsula, a dozen young lords imitated him. When he was wounded and returned wearing an eye patch, every modish buck took to wearing an eye patch."

Jane sank back into her chair. "He was wounded?"

Eleazer turned from the window. "I said so, didn't I?"

She didn't want to display interest, yet she couldn't refrain. "Did he ... lose the eye?"

"I don't know. How should I know? As I told you, we are not intimate."

She pressed her glove-clad palms together so tightly the muscles of her arms ached. Lord Blackburn's health was of no concern to her. She chanted in her head.

Yet in London she might see him, just from a distance, and despite her efforts, excitement wriggled along her nerves.

And her nerves leaped when a timid knock sounded and a lanky, ill-dressed Frenchman poked his head in. Monsieur Chasseur, Adorna's French tutor. He had arrived at last. Grateful for the interruption, Jane rose.

Seeing her, he stepped into the chamber, shoulders hunched, clutching a cream-colored, rumpled sheet of paper. "Mademoiselle, I have come to say—"

Eleazer gave a full-throated bellow. "What?"

The cowed son of a gentleman immigrant who had lost everything in the French Revolution, Monsieur Chasseur knew well of the bloody Reign of Terror. Yet he blanched at the sight of his irate employer. "Je regrette, mademoiselle, je ne realise—"

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First Chapter

0380806215<%FIRSTCHAPT%>The Assassins of Tamurin

Chapter One

The people of my village cast me out when I was eleven. Or at least I believed I was eleven, for neither I nor anyone in Riversong knew the day or place of my birth, much less who brought me into the world.

It happened because of three sewing needles, the shiny steel kind you can buy in any town marketplace. I was supposed to take them to the priestess at the Bee Goddess's shrine, half a morning's walk from the village, so she could have her turn to sew for her family. Foster Mother wouldn't have sent me if anybody else had been available, but as it happened I was the only one she could spare. Annoyed at this, my aunt Tamzu said, "It's an insult to the priestess to send this wretched child to her, but I suppose there's no help for it."

Not to be outdone, Aunt Adumar added, "And, Lale, when you talk to the priestess -- pay attention, you worthless girl! When you talk to her, keep your eyes on the ground. Don't gawp at her like a dead moonfish, and don't scratch and spit and pick your nose."

"I'll be very respectful, Auntie Adumar," I said. I was careful to sound glum, because if I appeared happy about my errand, she'd find some way to take it away from me. Actually, I was delighted to be going, because the priestess lived near a bee cave some three miles from Riversong, and I'd have a whole half day free of my interminable chores. So I quickly pulled my raggedy brown cloak over my smock, and Foster Mother gave me the scrap of leather with the three needles pushed through it and told me to go. Aunt Adumar aimed a swat at my bottom as I went out the door, but I dodged it.

Young though I was, I was acutely aware of how precious the needles were. I clutched them tightly and told myself I wouldn't pen my fingers for anything until I stood in front of the priestess. Then, full of this resolve, I tramped through the village, past the fish-smoking racks and the breadnut plantation, until I came to the path that led into the forest.

The wet season wasn't far off, and a steady, lukewarm drizzle began to fall as I passed into the green gloom beneath the leaves. Around me, enormous gum trees rose from thickets of fern and brush and soared toward a gray and stone-smooth sky. I must have looked very small among those gigantic trunks, trudging along the path as the drizzle darkened my long auburn hair to a deep reddish brown. I was a lean-limbed, lanky little creature in those days, slender of foot and slim of hand, with green eyes under thick lashes.

But I didn't look exactly like the villagers, although their eye and hair color resembled mine. My complexion was pale and creamy, like the dust that powdered the forest paths in summer, while theirs was darker with a bronze cast. Aunt Adumar said my skin showed I had northern blood, which accounted for my deceitful tongue. I didn't know if northerners really were deceitful, because I had never met one, but Adumar was right about the tongue. Out of necessity, I had become an accomplished liar almost as soon as I could talk.

All went well until I reached the ford at Hatch Creek, which wasn't far from the Bee Goddess's shrine. But there I discovered that the rain had turned the ford to a rushing torrent, and I knew the pebbly bottom would be treacherous. If the current tumbled me into deeper water and I had to swim for the bank, I might well let go of the needles. Fearing this disaster, I used the biggest of the three to pin the leather to the thin fabric of my smock, under my cloak.

But despite my apprehension, I managed the ford without difficulty and went on toward the shrine. By now the rain had stopped, and although my stomach was growling, I felt quite lighthearted; perhaps that was why I neglected to make sure the needles were safe. Whatever the reason, I'd walked some considerable distance before I again felt inside my cloak for the scrap of leather.

It wasn't there. Both it and the priceless needles had vanished.

At first I was only a little frightened, because I knew exactly where I'd been. Retracing my steps toward Hatch Creek, I scanned every bit of the sodden path. I knew I couldn't miss seeing the leather, because my footprints in the thin mud showed exactly where I'd walked. And it couldn't have blown into the undergrowth beneath the trees, because there was very little wind.

But the leather was nowhere to be found, and my heart began to thud with apprehension. By the time I reached the creek, with no sign of the needles, I was on the edge of panic. Fighting tears, I stopped on the bank and examined my smock again. Broken threads showed where I'd pinned the leather holder, so I realized it had pulled from the worn fabric and slipped out of my cloak. But I hadn't found anything on the path, so where had it gone?

Into Hatch Creek. The needles had fallen into the water when I was crossing, and the rushing stream had carried them away.

My stomach turned over. I had to find them, I had to. My village was so poor and so far from any real marketplace that its women had to share the same set of needles, and they'd only had these for two months. Moreover, they'd had to collect every coin they possessed to buy the things from the peddler, who was the only one we'd seen in almost a year ...

The Assassins of Tamurin. Copyright © by S. Tower. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 28 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2005

    I love this book.

    This has got to be one of my favorite books. Jane is not affraid to stand up to Ransom and Ransom isn't a man dropping to her feet begging for her to show him some attention. Starting from their very tumultous past to the end of this book, I was enthralled with the way the characters enteracted with each other!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2014

    Love this book

    This has always been one of my favorites

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2013

    Ok

    Interesting female lead but aggravating male lead. Decent storyline but just never took off.

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  • Posted July 3, 2013

    Read this book when it first came out and I loved it! I still h

    Read this book when it first came out and I loved it! I still have it in paperback, but had to get it for my Nook as well! Great story and great characters!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2013

    entertaining

    It was an interesting story, it didn't fall into too many of the typical developments that come with the genre but some plots felt rather cobbled together.

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  • Posted August 24, 2012

    Classic Dodd-loved it!

    Dodd does not disappoint. This is an emotive, sexy read with a hero who redeems himself from his earlier self-centered jerk-iness!

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  • Posted February 17, 2011

    My favorite

    This book made my imagination come alive. I felt like I was watching the story come alive in front of me. This is my favorite of all her books. This is a must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2006

    definitely a good book

    I read this book many times over the years and it doesn't get old. It has great emotion and a wonderful story line. It is a must read for any Christina Dodd fan!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 1999

    satisfying

    if you like christina dodd books then you'll like this one too! this is the 2nd book i've read by Dodd and she hasn't failed me yet! the novel was romantic and pleasing, i'm on my way to by another one of her books!

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