How to Handle a Scandal (The Scandalous Sisters #2)
by Emily Greenwood
Coming March 1, 2016
THEY THOUGHT THE DEBUTANTE WAS SCANDALOUS
Miss Elizabeth Tarryton was the toast of the London Season the year she was seventeen and spurned young Tommy Halifax. A careless flirt who didn't know what she wanted, she was startled into laughter by his public proposal of marriage. Furious and heartbroken, Tommy promptly left home for a life of adventure in India.
IF THEY ONLY KNEW ABOUT THE WIDOW
Seven years later, Elizabeth has much to make up for, but the methods she chooses for doing good are as shocking as her earlier wanton behavior--should the ton ever find out. Tommy returns to England a hero, with no intention of allowing himself to be hurt by a woman ever again, but he's fascinated nonetheless by Elizabeth, now widowed and more alluring than ever.
Q&A with Emily Greenwood
Q: If you could have dinner with any three authors alive or dead, who would you choose and why?
A: Well, since I have to limit myself to three... 1) Charlotte Bronte, because I love Jane Eyre. I love how the book dared to be serious about what a societally insignificant young woman might claim for herself. Jane is such an awesome character! And I like how the novel deals with the kinds of issues that affect people's lives, like the choices you might make if you married a mentally ill person—not that I’m behind Rochester’s choice to lock his wife in the attic! 2) Jeffrey Eugenides, who wrote The Marriage Plot, which is fabulous. His characters are so real and his writing is so smart and entertaining, while also being generous about human nature. 3) Elizabeth Berg. I adore most of her books, especially Joy School, which made me feel like Berg had peered right into my high school years to write the story, even though the main character’s experiences are pretty different from mine. There are also many romance authors I'd love to have dinner with, but I'll feel like a stalker if I name them since I might meet them at a conference someday :-).
Eliza Tarryton broke Tommy Halifax’s heart when she was seventeen and the scandal of the London Season. Tommy promptly left England. He’s been gone for six years, but now he’s back, and Eliza wants to make amends for what happened. But so far, Tommy has been cool to her. In this scene, they’ve just encountered each other in a bookshop, where Eliza was engaged in something she doesn’t want Tommy to discover.
“Lizzie?” he said in a voice that held none of the playful warmth he’d showed Mrs. Dombrell. “What are you doing here?”
She decided on misdirection as her best course. “It’s Eliza now, actually. I haven’t gone by Lizzie for years. Are you shopping for something in particular?” A stupid question that made her sound as though she worked at the shop and was offering assistance, but with any luck it would distract him.
It didn’t, and his eyes narrowed. “Were you there the whole time I was with Mrs. Dombrell? Were you spying on me?”
She flushed. “What a thought!” she said, managing a laugh. “I’m simply passing the time before I meet a friend. But perhaps you are up to something nefarious that you wish to hide by attacking me.”
He just stared at her for several long moments, an effective method of intimidation that made her want to squirm.
“You must have been lingering in that aisle for some time—and very quietly, too—because I have perfectly good hearing, and the only person I’ve noticed around that aisle was a lady who emerged several minutes ago. Perhaps she was a friend of yours?”
Eliza willed herself not to flush again. The last thing she needed was to make Tommy interested in who Nancy was.
“I don’t know who you mean. I was simply looking for books about Italy,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to go there. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must be on my way.” She stuck her nose in the air and took a step forward, but he grabbed hold of her arm and drew her close.
“You’re up to something, aren’t you? You might have my brother charmed into thinking you’ve changed into a virtuous woman, but I’m not so easily fooled.”
This was all wrong, the way things were between them. Maybe he’d known she wanted to apologize yesterday and he hadn’t wanted to hear it, but he deserved her apology—and she really needed to offer it.
Besides, at this rate, they wouldn’t even manage to be pleasant when Will and Anna eventually thrust them together, as now seemed inevitable. And, equally important considering what she was planning to do that night, was that Tommy not be suspicious of her. She looked him in the eye.
“Tommy, I want you to know that I’m very sorry about what I did six years ago when you proposed.” She thought he flinched at the word proposed, but she made herself keep going. “I sent a letter to apologize, but I don’t know whether you ever received it.”
“I did, nine months later.”
She winced, but she’d known it would take a long time for a letter to reach India. Her letter had been stiff and formal, because she hadn’t known how else to express herself.
“A letter was inadequate as an apology, and far too easy for me. I hope you’ll accept my apology now for the way I behaved. I was young and, frankly, scared about the idea of marriage. You deserved so much better from me.”
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