Jennifer McQuiston is in hiding.
Which wouldn’t be a problem, really, if she weren’t in hiding at the precise moment she is supposed to meet Lady Beaufetheringstone, who happily invited the debut darling of historical romance and author of the hilariously funny What Happens in Scotland to today’s ball.
Jennifer accepted the invitation with pleasure, but now appears to be having second thoughts.
“Jenni,” Sarah says, attempting to coax her from her spot, “you don’t have a choice. You have to talk to her.”
“Not if I stay here.”
Sabrina peeks her head around the potted fern that is so often her hiding place. “This won’t save you. At some point, she’s going to find you.”
“And she is your hostess,” Lauren adds, ever polite.
“Yes, she’s a bit…” Miranda begins.
“Nerve wracking? Intimidating? Terrifying?” Jennifer offers.
“Overwhelming,” Miranda says.
Tessa extends a little flask. “Nip? Ratafia helps.”
Jennifer accepts, taking more than a nip. When finished, she runs the back of her hand across her lips. ”One isn’t supposed to admit you are afraid of your hostess.”
“Well…no…” Sarah says.
“And yet, here I am, *this* close to casting up my accounts at the thought of meeting Lady B,” Jennifer drinks again. “Is she even real? I mean, isn’t she more of a figment of someone’s imagination?”
“Er…” Miranda says.
“It’s best not to ask questions like that,” Lauren adds.
“Does one curtsy to a figment? Offer to pen her a hero?”
“She likes men with nice calves.” Sarah says. “It will be useful for you to remember that.”
“Who doesn’t?” Jenni says, moving to drink again.
Tessa snatches the flask back before she can. “I think you’ve had enough of that.”
“Surely if Lady B is real she will see right through me.”
Brows snap together around the little space. “See right through you, how?” Lauren asks.
“I do not belong here among the more seasoned authors.”
“Ridiculous!” Sarah says.
But Jenni’s already around the bend. “No! It’s true! I am not worthy to step across the polished parquet floor that is the Ballroom Blog, much less reveal my ineptitude in an actual waltz.”
The authoresses blink. Jennifer McQuiston clearly has a flair for the dramatic.
But she’s still talking. “Which leaves me with only one option.”
“Which is?” Sabrina prompts.
“If she is real—and I am not saying she is—”
“She is.” Miranda says.
“Mostly,” Tessa adds.
“Then I must distract the old dragon.”
“Well, I’d make sure she never hears you refer to her like that,” Sarah offers.
“I have just the thing! James!”
“Very good choice,” Sabrina says.
“There, see!” Lauren adds, “I knew you’d come up with something.”
As far as distractions go, James MacKenzie is a delicious one. If you get him drunk enough, the Scot has been known to wake up in ladies’ beds wearing only his beard. James is the hero of Jennifer’s first book, What Happens in Scotland. Everyone says he can keep a lady well-occupied, even when deep in his cups, and if you are willing to indulge in a little fun, he’ll make it a night worth remembering.
“Oh, my…” Tessa says, taking in the tall Scotsman.
“Lady B won’t know what hit her.” Miranda adds, transfixed by the man.
“About the hitting…” Jennifer says, “The last lady he woke up with cracked him over the head with a chamber pot and disappeared with his money. MacKenzie’s been in a foul temper ever since, claiming he’s tracking down a thief, but secretly I think he’s out for revenge. Hopefully, Lady B can soothe his wounded pride?”
“I’ll soothe his wounded–” Sarah says.
“Sarah!” Lauren says.
Sarah has the grace to look sheepish. “What? Have you seen that man?”
Jennifer is still going. “James can keep Lady B busy so I can become better acquainted with everyone at the Ballroom Blog without her peering at me through her quizzing glass.”
“Genius. She’ll be too busy using the quizzing glass to peer at something else,” Tessa says.
“Someone else,” Lauren corrects.
“Mmm,” Tessa agrees. Sort of.
“I can promise you she won’t need a quizzing glass,” Jennifer says.
All the authoresses turn to the bearded man across the ballroom.
Every romance reader has a secret love of Scotland. And Scotsmen. Share your favorite thing about those charming rogues to the north (or your favorite of the charming rogues to the north) for a chance to win a copy of Jennifer’s What Happens in Scotland! (US Only)