Happy Halloween my fellow bloggers and blog followers. Today I have guest blogger Elizabeth Means talking about The Power of the Mask–and her new release, Dangerous Charade.
All Hallows Eve…the night ghosts of the dead return to earth to wreak havoc upon us mere mortals. That’s what the Celts believed some 2000 years ago. They also believed if one absolutely had to go out on this most treacherous of all evenings a mask should be worn for protection. The theory being the wicked spirits would be unable to identify anyone wearing a mask and therefore would pass them by without causing harm.
Perhaps the dead can easily be fooled by something as simple as a mask but I don’t believe the living can be. It seems to me, rather than hiding our identity masks only serve to better reveal the true personality of the one who wears it. It is liberating to shed our everyday persona and pretend to be someone we’re not. Do things we normally wouldn’t dream of doing. All without the fear of judgment or repercussions thanks to the anonymity of a mask. Who among us doesn’t find the notion at least a teensy bit tempting?
No doubt this is why masquerade balls have been popular social events for centuries. And why they’re still wildly popular today in many historical romance novels. They provide the perfect setting for flirtatious banter, coquettish games and the intricate dance of seduction. They also provide the ideal backdrop for mystery and dare I say…murder.
So what are you doing on this evening of opportunity? Chances are you plan to hand-out candy at the door. Then around nine o’clock you’ll see there are only a few Snickers left so you’ll turn out the light, eat them and go on about your normal routine.
Live a little. Go get a mask, put it on…and play. Seduce your lover in a way that blows their mind, fool your neighbors, play tricks on little goblins that come to your door. Throw restraint to the wind, just for one evening.
It’s Halloween! What are you waiting for?
BLURB: Dangerous Charade
To escape an arranged marriage Gabrielle Broussard flees her home to become an undercover investigator with an elite, all-female investigative agency. Her first assignment, as governess at Westford castle to investigate the suspicious death of the Countess of Westford, quickly becomes complicated when she finds herself attracted to her number one suspect.
Lord Julian Blackwell is a survivor. After his father’s bankruptcy, he becomes a self-made man in Victorian England’s booming industrial era. Trapped into a loveless marriage, he has survived the shock of his wife’s sudden death. But now he must survive rumors and outright accusations. Hiring a private agency to investigate and prove his innocence seems like a good idea…until desire threatens to compromise both the case and the life of the investigator.
EXCERPT: Dangerous Charade
Gabrielle raced across the lawn toward a side entrance most often used by the servants at Westford. Dawn was breaking and she needed to move fast. If anyone saw her, she would be hard-pressed to explain why she was returning from a ride at this time of day, in the dark. And carrying a fancy parasol, no less.
She’d almost reached the door when Julian’s voice cut through the still morning air like a knife.
“Oh!” Her free hand flew to her mouth as she whirled toward the sound of his voice. He stood close to the building, hidden in the shadows. “My lord, you nearly scared me to death! I didn’t see you there.”
“Just what are you doing out here, lurking about in the shadows?” she demanded, adrenaline pumping.
“What am I doing?” He stared at her incredulously. “Not that I owe you any explanation for my actions while on my own estate, but I came out to watch the sunrise. What the devil are you doing?”
“I was…checking on Buttercup. I’m told she’s been acting strangely.” Gabrielle took a few more steps toward the building. “But—good news—it appears she’s doing fine.”
In a flash Julian was between her and the door. He regarded her closely. “That doesn’t explain why you’re lugging a parasol around in the dark.”
Gabrielle swallowed hard. She saw his green eyes narrow. “One never knows what one might encounter lurking about in the shadows. I may have needed it to defend myself from something. Or someone,” she added pointedly.
Julian stepped closer to her; they were less than an arm’s length apart. “Do you think you need it now?” The suggestive tone in his voice was unmistakable.
Her breathing quickened, and she averted her gaze. “What I think is that you are most unnerving.”
Julian reached out and tilted her chin up with his fingers. “What kind of game are you playing, Gabrielle?”
She didn’t answer. And he didn’t ask again. Instead he brought his head down very slowly and claimed her mouth with his own.