By Katherine Bone, author of Lost Treasure, Captive Princess and The Rogue’s Prize
In celebration of Crimson’s release of Clarissa Ross’s Masquerade, I’m celebrating masks today. We all wear them, don’t we? Whether we’re unhappy, in turmoil, suffering illness, experiencing disgust, trying to show good sportsmanship when we’ve won and a challenger has lost, or vice versa, there is something very personal about the masks we wear—visible or invisible, isn’t there?
The art, or ritual, of wearing masks dates back 9,000 years, more likely back to the dawn of mankind. Masks have been carved out of wood to represent tribal ancestors. They’ve been used in rituals, shamanic healing, to ward off evil, and the ever favorite, entertainment via theatre, operas and carnivals, such as Carnivale, in Italy, and Mardi Gras, in New Orleans. In Venice, masks were used to hide one’s societal status so people from different classes could intermingle with one another. Historically, masks have been used to protect knights, soldiers, engineers, doctors, nurses, patients and athletes. They were often used to torture or imprison as in Alexandre Dumas’s Man in the Iron Mask.
Masks have and always will serve various purposes. My personal favorite, however, is Venice’s masquerade ball during Carnivale, usually celebrated forty days before Easter, ending Ash Wednesday or the final day of Lent. The rhythmic music, ornate masks, renaissance gowns, dancing, and the knowledge that anyone in the room can be fooled into believing you are someone other than who you really are. Priceless! Sensuous! Romantic!
Surrounded by decorative costumes, party-goers become part of the pulse that is a masque ball. But what if you don’t want to disappear? In Lost Treasure, Captive Princess, my Crimson Romance Contemporary release, Carolina Beugre feared her host wouldn’t be able to find her in the masquerade crowd. She put on a necklace meant for the future princess of Monte Blanco. That one decision swept her into a world of extravagance she refused to accept until love claimed her heart and she finally believed she deserved happiness.
In Clarissa Ross’s Masquerade, fate deals an ill-fated hand to Lady Enid. Thrust into a decadent marriage, she flees to France to escape her dreadful husband. Events force her back to England and the flamboyant London stage, where she’s recruited into a Revolutionary network and sent back to France to wear the mask of a spy. Ah, I can see Lady Enid now, making use of subtlety and sobriety in every flirtation, every nuance of the dance as she conquers her husband and the dangerous liaisons of the Revolution.
Celebrate today! Don the mask. You won’t regret disappearing into the pages of a Masquerade!