These Vicious Masks

By: Kelly Zekas & Tarun Shanker







These Vicious Masks


Discussion Questions





1. The title of the book is These Vicious Masks. Why do you think the authors chose that title? What roles do masks play in the novel?

2. At the beginning of the book, Evelyn would much rather be traveling in Europe with her friend than attending a ball so her mother can play matchmaker. Do you agree with her decision to be deliberately miserable? Have you ever been forced to do something with your parents instead of hanging out with your friends?

3. When Rose goes missing, Evelyn’s parents, believing she has shamefully run away, do nothing. Given how important reputation was in that time period, do you think that their reaction was understandable? Or were they simply wrong?

4. When Sebastian first tells Evelyn about having special powers, she thinks he’s out of his mind. How do you think you would react if someone told you the same thing?

5. Mr. Kent’s power forces everyone to answer his questions honestly. Would you want this power? Why or why not?

6. Sebastian can’t be too close to anyone for an extended period of time or else his power will kill them. What do you think this means for his future? Could he ever possibly have a normal life with a family?

7. Which gentleman would you rather see Evelyn end up with: Sebastian or Mr. Kent? Explain.

8. If you had Camille’s power to change your appearance however you would like, who would you choose to look like and why?

9. At one point in the book, Sebastian is chastised for choosing to let Dr. Beck live. Do you think Dr. Beck deserved to die for his actions?

10. These Vicious Masks takes place in Victorian England. How important is the setting to the novel? How would the story have been different if it had been set in the modern day?





Plans for a season without romance are unapologetically foiled . . .



in this hilarious homage to Jane Austen, when a lady with a penchant for trouble finds a handsome spy much more than merely tolerable.

APRIL 2016





CHAPTER


1


In which a young lady clinging to a cliff will eventually accept anyone’s help


“OH MY, this is embarrassing,” Miss Juliana Telford said aloud. There was no reason to keep her thoughts to herself, as she was alone, completely alone. In fact, that was half of the problem. The other half was, of course, that she was hanging off the side of a cliff with the inability to climb either up or down and in dire need of rescue.

“Another scrape. This will definitely give Aunt apoplexy.”

Juliana hugged the cliff ever closer and tipped her head slightly so that she could glance over her shoulder. Her high-waisted ivory dress was deeply soiled across her right hip, where she had slid across the earth as she dropped over the edge.

Juliana shifted slowly and glanced over her other shoulder. Fortunately, the left side showed no signs of distress, and her lilac sarcenet spencer could be brushed off easily. She would do it now were it not for the fact that her hands were engaged, holding tightly to the tangle of roots that kept her from falling off the tiny ledge.

Juliana continued to scrutinize the damage to her wardrobe with regret, not for herself so much as for her aunt, who seemed to deem such matters of great importance. Unfortunately, her eyes wandered down to her shoes. Just beyond them yawned an abyss. It was all too apparent how far above the crashing waves of the English Channel she was—and how very small the ledge.

Despite squishing her toes into the rock face as tightly as possible, Juliana’s heels were only just barely accommodated by the jutting amalgamate. The occasional skitter and plop of eroding rocks diving into the depths of the brackish water did nothing to calm her racing heart.

Juliana swallowed convulsively. “Most embarrassing.” She shivered despite a warm April breeze. “I shall be considered completely beyond the pale if I am dashed upon the rocks. Aunt will be so uncomfortable. Most inconsiderate of me.”

A small shower of sandy pebbles rained down on Juliana’s flowery bonnet. She shook the dust from her eyes and listened. She thought she had heard a voice.

Please, she prayed, let it be a farmer or a tradesman, someone not of the gentry. No one who would feel obligated to report back to Grays Hill Park. No gentlemen, please.

“Hello?” she called out. Juliana craned her neck upward, trying to see beyond the roots and accumulated thatch at the cliff’s edge.

A head appeared. A rather handsome head. He had dark, almost black, hair and clear blue eyes and, if one were to notice such things at a time like this, a friendly, lopsided smile.

“Need some assistance?” the head asked with a hint of sarcasm and the tone of a . . .

“Are you a gentleman?” Juliana inquired politely.

The head looked startled, frowned slightly, and then raised an eyebrow before answering. “Yes, indeed, I am—”

“Please, I do not wish to be rescued by a gentleman. Could you find a farmer or a shopkeep—anyone not of the gentry—and then do me the great favor of forgetting you saw me?”


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