As I announced last week, May is release month for the next story in my Harrow’s Finest Five Victorian romance series. Two Scandals are Better than One is Luci and Edward’s book. And to celebrate their story coming out into the world, I’m throwing a preorder party!
Two Scandals will be released on May 30, but you can order your copy now at the discounted preorder price. And this week, the other two books in the series are on sale as well. Monday through Thursday, you can get all three books for less than six bucks! Check out the series page on Amazon to get the whole series (thus far!) today.
Once you’ve read Too Clever by Half and One Kiss from Ruin (or even before, if you’re so inclined), you can read the first chapter of Two Scandals are Better than One over at my website. In the meantime, here’s a snippet from one of my favorite scenes from later in the book. I hope you like the snippet and sample chapter, and enjoy the entire series!
Two Scandals are Better than One – Excerpt
“Since I won’t be staying in this room, I’ve brought you something that will make you feel safer.” Edward reached into his pocket and slowly withdrew the cloth-wrapped offering. Flipping back the edge of the handkerchief, he revealed the glint of a four-inch silver barrel.
“A gun!” Luci jumped to her feet.
Edward held up his free hand. “It’s not loaded.” The shopkeeper who had sold the ladies’ pistol to him, after spouting off a litany of reasons a man should never give a woman a gun, had made a point that a man should never put said gun into the hand of a distressed woman. “Just stay calm and I’ll hand it to you carefully, when you’re ready.”
She held both her hands out in front of her. “Edward, I want you to listen to me very carefully. Don’t touch the gun, just leave it lying flat on your palm.”
She took soft, slow steps toward him. If he didn’t know better, he would have thought she was trying to calm him. When she reached his side, she stopped.
“I’m going to take this out of your hand now.” She picked up the gun by its pearl inlaid handle, stepped away from him, and pointed the barrel at the back wall. With a quick, fluid flurry of hand movements, she pulled back the handle and pumped the plunger. A bullet popped out of the chamber and she caught it before it hit the floor. She peered into the chamber, taking care not to point the barrel away from the back wall, then clicked the plunger and hammer back into place.
Edward sat in shocked silence. He couldn’t say whether he was more surprised by the unexpected bullet or by Luci’s prowess with a firearm.
She scowled as she pointed the now-empty gun toward the floor. “That is why you never believe a man who tells you a gun isn’t loaded.” She furrowed her brow. “Which begs the question, why on earth were you giving me what you thought was an unloaded weapon? What did you expect I would do with it?”
“In case someone breaks in, you brandish it about whilst screaming, and I’ll rush in from the other room.” He pointed to the stress-inducing adjoining room door. “Through there.”
“And then you’ll do what?” She put her free hand on her hip.
He wondered if she knew her nostrils flared quite prettily when she was angry. He wondered if they would do the same in the heat of passion.
“Edward, answer me! Did you buy a gun for yourself?”
“Yes, of course. A slightly bigger pistol.”
She let out a long sigh. “Have you ever even fired a pistol?”
“Before this morning?”
She was being awfully particular. He crossed his arms over his chest. “No.”
She leaned against the sofa back and narrowed her eyes as she stared down at the pearl-handled pistol. “Let me make sure I understand. I’m to brandish about an empty pistol, at which point you’ll rush in with a loaded one, take your best shot, and hope you hit my attacker and not me, or the person asleep on the other side of this thin wall, or your own hand.”
“You make it sound like a bad plan. I’ve been on several hunts, you know. Goose and duck, every fall.”
She nodded slowly. “Firstly, that’s a rifle. Secondly, have you ever made a kill?”
“Never.” He shrugged. “Don’t much like goose, and ducks start out as those cute, fuzzy little ducklings.”
“I stand by my opinion of this being a bad plan.” She laid the unloaded gun flat on her palm, the way Edward had been holding it. “I wish you had told me you thought we’d need pistols. I’d have brought my own. The handle fits better in my hand and it’s well-balanced. This one is not, so let’s hope I don’t have to use it before I can test it and learn how to adjust for the imbalance.”
“Balance? Test it?” He shook his head. “You have your own pistol?” He was about to ask whether her father knew about it, but she answered first.
“A percussion travelling pistol. My father gave it to me on my fifteenth birthday. He taught me to use it, but Dennison helps me keep up my skills. He’s quite the crack shot himself.”
Fairbank was the only man Edward could imagine giving his fifteen-year-old daughter a deadly weapon. Then again, given the criminal element he helped the police find, he was probably the only man Edward knew who understood exactly how much his daughter might need a gun.
Luci pulled back the pistol hammer, reloaded the bullet, and closed the gun inside her bedside table. “Right. Now, I need you to bring me…actually, show me your pistol.”
Edward unfolded his legs and stood, motioning for her to precede him through the door. Inside his room, he led her to the bedside table, and took notice of her running her hand along the blanket on his bed. She might not have realized she had even done it, but it was such an intimate act, he could barely think of anything other than her running her hand over his skin while they shared that bed. He pulled open the bedside drawer and stepped away to put much-needed space between them.
Luci took out the pistol, which had a black handle and six-inch barrel, and unloaded it as efficiently as she had the other one. She put this bullet into her dress pocket, and put the empty gun back in the drawer.
“What am I supposed to do with that?” he asked as he followed her back to her room.
She shrugged. “I don’t know. Brandish it about whilst you scream, and I’ll rush into your room?”
“Well, you hardly need the excuse of my screaming to rush into my room.”
They fell silent and stared at each other. He had meant to say she could take shelter there if she became frightened, but it was too late to correct it. The very atmosphere around them had changed. He ached to touch her, to pull her against him, to sweep her off her feet and carry her to the bed. He reminded himself he might be a lecherous reprobate and a despicable scoundrel, but he wouldn’t act on his worst impulses because, first and foremost, he had to be Luci’s protector.
She reached out to touch him first. If she hadn’t, he might have stood a chance.