Message From The Author

Author's Message

We all have them: those outrageous incidents we fear well never live down. More often than not, we do survive them; time tempers the embarrassment, memories fade and usually we can look back and feel as though weve grown somehow.

So what happens when a ghost from the distant past crosses your path, reviving the memory of a scandal youd thought was long-forgotten? And what if you find yourself strangely attracted to that unwelcome ghost?

Christina Dodd explores this sticky situation in THAT SCANDALOUS EVENING. Who would have thought that a beautifully carved statue could cause such a scene? Certainly not Jane Higgenbothem, the innocent miss who carved it in the likeness of the Marquess of Blackburn. On the evening the statues likeness was exposed, so was the artists infatuation with the Marquess, the most handsome and eligible bachelor in town. Disgraced by the mocking contempt of the ton, the artist retreated to her home in the country, and the arrogant Blackburn became a laughingstock.

A decade later, Lord Blackburn again encounters Miss Higgenbothem, the frightful woman who was the source of his immense embarrassment all those years agoso why is he so tempted to revive their acquaintance?

Why do you keep ogling the men? Fitz jostled him. The women are over here! Women, Blackburn, women. Remember them? Smooth, scented, with all those interesting parts. Fitz gestured with both hands, illustrating a curve of hip and waist. Wonderful, wily creatures who flee before the skillful hunter.

Listening to the delectation in Fitzs voice, Lord Blackburn experienced a pang of envy. He had never felt that way about a woman. Theyd always been easy for him, and once he had realized they were easy for every man with a fortune, he had gained in contempt what he lost in gullibility.

Had any of them been different? Had he overlooked one that was special? But no, that could not be. For that to be true, he would have to admit that he had been a blind fool. These women all looked the same, sounded the same, said the same things. Theres nothing worth having there.Youll find a diamond, if youd just search. A diamond, Blackburn!

Fitz paused in his onward charge. Look at that bunch of slobbering hulks. Theyre huddled together, shoulder to shoulder, positively pawing the ground.

Stallions, Blackburn reminded him.

Fitz called, Let us through. There you go, lads. You cant keep her for yourselves. The constriction eased as the men turned, and Fitz slipped through the crowd, slighting each man as he spoke. Southwick, does your wife know youre romancing a girl? Lord Mallery, youre not witty enough for this exalted group.

Blackburn followed close on Fitzs heels, protecting his friends back and wondering why.

Brockway, you old wigsby, youre too hoary for this game. No woman of taste would wantthe way parted and Fitz stopped coldyou. He barely exhaled the last word, and Blackburn trod on his heels. Beg pardon, old man, but

Your servant, maam! Fitz snapped to attention, then bowed, leaving Blackburn a clear view of, not the diamond, but the profile of a tall, dignified lady. The fashionable lines of her green gown accentuated her excessive height. A lacy shawl covered only a modest bosom, and she held her gloved hands clasped at her waist like a singer waiting for a cue that never came. She wore a spinsters cap like a decoration of war, perched on dark hair that had been cut to frame her face in wisps. Her composed mouth had never greeted a man invitingly. She was obviously an old maid. The chaperone.

Blackburn began to turn away.

Then she smiled at the woman beside her, a blond debutante with an exultant bosom. Filled with pride and pleasure, the smile lit the spinsters plain features, and brought out the spark of jade in her fine eyesand hed seen those eyes before.

He jerked to a stop. He stared. It couldnt be her. She had to be a figment of his wary, suspicious mind.

He blinked and looked again.

Damn, it was her. Miss Jane Higgenbothem, the Scandal herself, risen from the depths of the pastto make his life hell once more. Write to Christina Dodd c/o Avon Books, 1350 Sixth Avenue, New York, NY 10019.-Libby Snitzer

Read Book Review ›