Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On the 10th Day of Christmas My True Lord Gave To Me...With Ashley March (+ Giveaway)

10 Scandals Brewing with Ashley March


MEET ASHLEY
The Short & Sweet


I was born and raised in East Texas, moved to Colorado after getting married eight years ago, and have been craving snow-free winters ever since. I have a husband who just keeps getting better and better over time and two beautiful daughters.

Life is simply…fantastic.



Find Ashley Online: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter
~*~



Background: This is a book I’m thinking about writing (haven’t decided yet) under my new pen name, Elise Rome. The idea came to me the other morning as I was waking up, and I thought it would be perfect for the scandal theme in the 12 Days of Christmas celebration.

At the beginning of this scene, the heroine, Evangeline, is escaping from a Christmas Eve ball to meet with the man she wishes to marry. She and Viscount Rathdowne were promised to others by their families, but they have set up a rendezvous in the garden where they plan to be caught. The betrothals will be broken as he is “forced” to marry her in order to salvage her reputation, and they will live happily ever after.


Unfortunately...neither of them counted on her close friend, Leo—who has reason to believe Rathdowne is a villain, and knows nothing of their plan—following Evangeline out to the garden to keep her from becoming victim to Rathdowne’s rakish tendencies.

The Winter Garden 
by Ashley March

Leo wasn’t deceived into believing that he was hidden among the shadows in the corner of the ballroom. With the covert glances he continued receiving from Lady Maddows and her daughter, he was very well aware they could see him.

He flashed the daughter a feral smile, and she rewarded him with her parted mouth and a gasp he imagined he could hear even halfway across the room. As she whirled to scamper off like a frightened kitten, Leo leaned back against the wall.

Ah, yes. Run, little one. Run far, far away from the villainous scoundrel.

His gaze shifted, idly observing the antics of the other guests. Odd how the shadows seemed more welcoming, as if he could mold himself into the darkness more easily now than he could the bright light of the chandeliers. He had no desire to step out and mingle; there was only one woman present tonight whom he could even bring himself to tolerate, and he’d already danced with her twice.

As if summoned by memory, Leo’s gaze was caught by the sight of Evangeline on the opposite side of the ballroom. He’d already complimented her on the emerald green hue of her dress to appease her feelings, and while she did look remarkably pretty tonight, his attention was more focused on the man standing at her side.

Viscount Rathdowne.

Leo’s thoughts turned black as he watched the two converse in between the movements of the dancers. They turned murderous when Rathdowne leaned in and—almost accidentally, it appeared—brushed his lips across Evangeline’s ear.

Where was her common sense, the practicality she took such pride in? Leo smiled grimly. He knew she wasn’t like one of the little fools who became such easy victims for Rathdowne’s predatory nature.

A better question—where was her fiancĂ©?

He was the fool, wasn’t he, to return to his family’s estate instead of attending the Fairthorne ball. To allow Rathdowne near. The high and mighty in London might have claimed Leo’s soul was painted black for the things he had done in his past, but at least he didn’t go panting after another man’s betrothed…nor did he do so while his own betrothed stood talking to her mother a few lengths away.

Evangeline’s head was bent close to Rathdowne’s now, and Leo decided to corner her afterward to discover what she found so interesting about the man she should have despised. Then the two parted, Evangeline stepping back against the wall near the terrace, Rathdowne ambling away to plague someone else with his company, and Leo’s mood immediately lightened.

“Bloody hell.”

The curse came swift and low as he saw Evangeline—he assumed she thought her skills at stealth perfect—slip through the terrace door, out into the winter night. He tried to remind himself that his friend was an intelligent woman, capable of marvelous things and possessing a sharper mind than even his own, but the moment he turned his attention to Rathdowne and found the man’s gaze focused on the same terrace door, Leo doubted everything.

He moved quickly, striding around the room from wall to wall, staying among the shadows. He knew the house well enough that he soon escaped the ballroom and found another door to the terrace. He might wish to protect her, but it would do neither of them good if he were caught outside with her instead of Rathdowne.

The cold air bit at his skin as soon as he stepped outside. Even the snow held a layer of frost, glittering with a million stars beneath the moonlight, and he had to duck his head to avoid the threat of icicles hanging from the low eaves above. Leo reconsidered his opinion of Evangeline; perhaps she was a fool, after all. At least he wore an evening jacket, but she only had two scraps of cloth clinging to the edges of her shoulders to serve as sleeves.

His feet crunched in the snow, and she whirled toward him as he approached. He tried not to take offense when her obvious anticipation dimmed to disappointment, but he did.

Rathdowne. Truly?

She clutched her arms with her hands and frowned.

He tried not to notice her shivering. If he offered her his jacket, she would be less inclined to return into the heated house by his side.

As was their way, an entire conversation was exchanged silently—no words needed. She’d never learned the trick of hiding her thoughts from the canvas of her expression, and she was too damned quick, able to guess what he was thinking before he even uttered a syllable.

Of course, he hadn’t made much of an effort to wipe the glower from his face, either. “Rathdowne, Evangeline?”

She scowled in response, but otherwise made no reply.

“What of your betrothal? Your upcoming nuptials?” He slowed his voice, allowing his speech to crawl to such a pace that she couldn’t possibly ignore his emphasis on the last word of each sentence.

She turned her back. A fog of air appeared as she said, “G-go away.” Her teeth had begun to chatter.

“I wish you to come inside with me.”

“I don’t want him to find you here. Please, Leo.”

It wasn’t her plea that swayed him, but the realization that if he had seen her leave the ballroom, anyone might have as well. And if Rathdowne were stupid enough to leave through the same door as she had—and Leo was not an optimistic man concerning the topic of Rathdowne’s intelligence—someone would likely draw the correct conclusion.

“Very well,” he said, then cursed for effect. “Do as you wish.”

He waited a moment, to see if she would change her mind. But she didn’t. She didn’t even look at him. He could only see the white curve of her cheek as she stood facing away, the trembling of her body as she waited for her future lover to appear.

Leo spun on his heel, being sure to make enough noise for her to hear him walking away.

*** 

When Gabriel finally approached from the ballroom, Evangeline couldn’t feel the tips of her fingers or her nose. It was worth it, though, to be able to marry the man she loved.

He stopped in the shadows a few feet away and opened his arms, and though her legs from her knees downward had turned numb five minutes ago, she ran to him. It seemed a thousand nights had passed since they’d first begun planning this moment.

His arms wrapped around her tightly, drawing her into his warmth, and she buried her face in his chest, wishing she could smell his familiar, beloved scent. But her nose was frozen, and all she could smell was the cold.

His hand touched her nape, urging her face to lift, and—because this was the end of their hopelessness, because this was the beginning of their future—it felt like their first kiss. As his mouth met and slowly parted hers, she clung to his jacket, frantic for the heat of his lips to thaw her own.

In this winter garden time stood still. He had told her he would make it obvious when he left the ballroom to go outside, to be sure he aroused curiosity, but even if they had to wait half an hour or more for one of her siblings to come searching for her, she wouldn’t mind.

He was hers.

Soon, she would be his.

And then she gasped as his tongue touched hers. A first kiss, and better than any yet before. Joy flooded her blood, pounded in her ears along with her heartbeat, heated every inch of skin which had just moments before been stiff and tight with chill.

Perhaps it was this joy that distracted her, that kept her from being prepared for getting caught—for when Gabriel suddenly broke apart from her and she saw her eldest brother and his wife standing a few feet away, she was completely taken by surprise. Dazed from the effects of his passion.

Gabriel must have been surprised, too, for he cursed beneath his breath.

Behind her brother and sister-in-law, more faces began to appear.

“What the hell is going on?” her brother demanded. “I hope to God that kiss was worthy, Evangeline, because now you must marry him. Who is he?”

She smiled and reached forward to take his hand, looking up into his face in the shadows.

And then a voice she knew well, a voice whose echoes she had carried around in her heart for so long, spoke grimly beyond her brother’s shoulder. “I’d like to know as well. Who is he, Evangeline?”

Her heart actually ceased beating at the sound of Gabriel’s voice, and she dropped the man’s hand as if he’d stung her. “No—” she began, then stopped herself. She wouldn’t give into hysterics, no matter how she wished to back away and shake her head violently, to insist that it had all been a mistake.

The man didn’t allow her to do such a thing, regardless. With a heavy breath, his hand took hers again and together they stepped out of the shadows.

This time her heart didn’t stop, but raced as if it meant to explode from her chest.

Leo looked down at her and smiled—that smile she’d understood since they were children, the one that meant he’d rather be anywhere else in the world but here. “Why, it’s me, of course. Who else did you suppose it could be?”
###
Want some more of Ashley March's work?
Sebastian Madinger, the Earl of Wriothesly, thought he'd married the perfect woman-until a fatal accident revealed her betrayal with his best friend. After their deaths, Sebastian is determined to avoid a scandal for the sake of his son. But his best friend's widow is just as determined to cast her mourning veil aside by hosting a party that will surely destroy both their reputations and expose all of his carefully kept secrets...

Leah George has carried the painful knowledge of her husband's affair for almost a year. All she wants now is to enjoy her independence and make a new life for herself-even if that means being ostracized by the Society whose rules she was raised to obey. Now that the rumors are flying, there's only one thing left for Sebastian to do: silence the scandal by enticing the improper widow into becoming a proper wife. But when it comes to matters of the heart, neither Sebastian nor Leah is prepared for the passion they discover in each other's arms....


Pick It Up Today!:
Amazon (paperback) | Barnes&Noble (paperback)
Amazon (Kindle) | Barnes&Noble (Nook)

Note:
Effective 1/1/12, Ashley March will be changing her pen name to Elise Rome. A facebook page and twitter account have already been created. Old and new fans can make their way there for future work, updates, and general musings by this amazing author. 

**Giveaway**
Ashley March has generously offered a copy of her sophmore release, Romancing the Countess, to lucky commenter! (Open Internationally) Just make sure to leave a comment and fill out the raffle copter form below!

 Don't Forget to head over to Ramblings From This Chick and read Robyn DeHart's special holiday scene (plus ener her giveaway)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
**Grand Prize Giveaway**
On behalf of myself, Dani and a whole host of generous and awesome authors, we will be having one BIG Grand Prize given away to 1 lucky winner. The grand prize consists of a mix of books, swag, and lots of other secret goodies. Believe me, you want to enter to win this prize. Just make sure to leave a comment every day on each post on both blogs and fill out that day's grand prize giveaway form on each blog. You can follow THIS link to today's form for this post or fill it out below after you comment.
That's it. Super easy! 
Good Luck everyone and Happy Holidays!

51 comments:

  1. **Sigh** Loved it!! Thanks so much for helping us and sharing your scene. =)

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  2. This was delicious, Ashley! Scandals are brewing indeed!

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  3. Oh please do write this Ashley, need to know what happens next.

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  4. Hi Ashley,

    can't wait to read this book >.<

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  5. Ooh, you ended with such a sting! Loved it. Thanks for the great scene. I hope you keep writing this story; I'd be verrrrry interested to see where it goes from here. :)

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  6. I haven't read any of your books, but would love a chance to win one so I can

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  7. Loved it!! ...and would love the book!

    bettysunflower at hotmail dot com

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  8. Yes, please finish it. Such complications already!

    Sue P.
    pennsdog@yahoo.com

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  9. Ooo I loved that snippet! But how could she not have recognized him? Pleaes write a book about it.

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  10. That sounds like a terrific new book... :) Will be on the look out for your new name and new facebook page...

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  11. Ooooohh I want! Loved the excerpt!

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  12. Great excerpt. Can't wait to read this book. Thanks for the giveaway.

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  13. Ashley, love the new pen name, WANT MORE of the new story (absolutely adore these friendship into love but betrothed to others stories)!!! Only problem now is that your adoring fans get to wait, not so patiently, for you to weave your magic into a full book ;-) You evil tease you LOL!

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  14. Don't enter me in this contest, I've already received a copy of Romancing the Countess from another giveaway recently. :D I look forward to reading it, and hope that whoever wins this one does as well! :D

    Great story, Ashley--I didn't want it to end! That's my only complaint with these 12 days of Xmas short stories. Perhaps many of the authors will take their stories from this event and seriously consider turning it into a future book or novella? That would be nice! :D

    Enjoy!
    TBQ

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  15. Um, yes please write it! :) I love the phrase 'bloody hell' I always say it to myself with my horrible British accent lol lol!
    Must tell self to start thinking of you as Elise but I'm sure I will still call you Ashley for a bit :)

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  16. What a great scene--I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for the chance to read more! :)

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  17. Loved the excerpt! Can't wait to read this one. Thanks for the giveaway!

    Merry Christmas to all!

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  18. Hi, Ashley ~

    Dropping in to say "hi". I miss talking with you regularly! I also wanted to tell you how much I loved, loved, loved Romancing the Countess!!

    *Peeps* If you don't win the giveaway rush out or to your computer to get a copy! I laughed, I cried, I sighed...

    Enjoyed the new idea very much. Keep the amazing stories coming!

    Hi, Rita!! :0)

    Tiffany James

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  19. I've been coveting this book!

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  20. What a way to end: Was that a wicked smile or what?

    Liked you on FB with the new moniker!

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  21. I do love a good scandal! They make life so much more interesting, lol. This story sounds great. Thank you so much for sharing & for the giveaway. Hope you & your family have a safe & happy holiday!

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  22. Oh I really want to read this! Great post and thanks for the giveaway!!

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  23. I really enjoyed the excerpt and will be looking for Ashley's new pen name. Happy Holidays!

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  24. Have been wanting to read this. It sounds really good.

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  25. I enjoyed the scene today and I'll be following Elise to find out what happens next in her writing. I loved Seducing the Duchess and I'm really looking forward to reading Romancing the Countess.

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  26. Oh Ashley you have a way with scandal! And what a scandal, I LOVED this! (and your pen name by the way, I almost named my daughter Elise) you have such talent, I hope we don't have to wait too long for this to come out!!!

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  27. Sounds amazing. I can already tell I'm going to love Leo :P

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  28. Hi Everyone! I'm so sorry I'm not able to reply to everyone's comments today. WonderGirl has been sick all last night and still, and she's just not giving me time. But thank you so much for visiting with me, and I'm so glad you enjoyed the scene! Merry Christmas to everyone! =)

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  29. omg!!! I so wanted to turn scroll down for the next scene!! loved the excerpt.

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  30. Please write the book, or a novella. Happy Holidays!

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  31. I agree with Kati, I want more! I could actually feel the cold, and it's 60's degrees here tonight and I have the windows open!

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  32. I love stories where friends become lovers! I would definitely read this!

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  33. I loved the scene thank you, especially the line:

    "Ah, yes. Run, little one. Run far, far away from the villainous scoundrel. "

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  34. Great scene! Looks like this could be the promising start of a new book:)

    junegirl63(at)gmail(dot)com

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  35. I don't want to be entered to win anything. I loved the sample of The Winter Garden. I would order it today, if it were available. Please write the rest, Ashley.

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  36. LOVED!! :-) I can't wait to read your future books-- under any name!

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  37. Woww Ashley, this is truly a delicious surprise. Live it so much!!! Happy holiday to you and your families:). Cheers Aretha zhen , aretha_zhen@yahoo.com

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  38. Thanks for the story. The best laid plans can still go awry. Happy holidays.

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  39. I love how the reader gets so much insight into the character's thoughts. It helps me connect with them.

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  40. Beautiful. Will be rereading this in the morning over a cup of good coffee. Enjoyed reading "Romancing the Countess" from my library. The restraint, between the characters, the seething emotions, and complex inner workings made a wonderful read. Especially the scandalous dress making her determination to live & love again so clear.

    Look forward to your next project, under any name.

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  41. Oh my gosh, I was not expecting that little twist in there. :) Sneaky little bugger, that Leo. LOL Loved it!

    Pam

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  42. I loved the scene of "The Winter Garden", and I'm sure that everybody else has too.

    Looking forward to reading anything else that you write under whatever name you write under.

    Would love to win a signed copy of "Romancing The Countess".

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  43. Happy Holidays and thanks for the giveaway! Can you say "love triangle"?!? This will make a great story and I'd love to find out who "wins"!

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  44. Oh, please tell me that this will be a full length book--it sounds great. One of my favorite tropes is the marriage of friends who become lovers even when that seems unlikely at first.

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  45. I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas and that Santa brought you everything you wanted. Happy New Year!!

    bettysunflower at hotmail dot com

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