I finished reviewing the galley proofs for Imperial Scandal last week and received a box of gorgeous ARCs. To celebrate the book’s upcoming publications (March 27, 2012), I’ll be giving away an ARC to one commenter each week through the end of the year.

For this week’s post, another teaser from Imperial Scandal, a glimpse of Mélanie/Suzanne with her maid and companion Blanca.

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“I swear it’s as though mysterious deaths follow the two of you about.” Blanca Mendoza, Mélanie’s confidante, maid, and friend, added a yellow block to the gatehouse she, Mélanie, and Colin were building on the salon carpet in the Rue Ducale out of the blocks that had been among Colin’s birthday presents.
“I’d say that’s a function of our work.” Mélanie cupped her hand round Colin’s own and carefully helped him put a red block atop the yellow one, completing the tower over the archway.
Blanca shot a sharp look at her. “You can’t go on like this forever.”
“Who said anything about forever?” Mélanie watched her son pick up one of his new wooden horses and gallop it through the archway. The weight of the future pressed against her, as it had more and more of late. An iron band round her temples drawn ever tighter. “I’m just trying to get through one day at a time.”
“That’s what worries me,” Blanca said.
“No sense fussing. We’ve come this far. Careful, darling.” Mélanie stopped Colin before he could plow the horse into the blocks. “I don’t think the gatehouse could stand up to Mercury’s hooves.”
“You always say that,” Blanca said, “but this time–“
A rap sounded on the door. “Forgive me, madame.” Valentin, the footman they’d engaged when they came to Brussels (how odd to have a footman), stepped into the room. “You have a caller. A Lady Cordelia Davenport.”

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How is Mélanie/Suzanne’s relationship with Blanca different from Charles/Malcolm’s relationship with his valet Addison? What do you think are the challenges of writing valet and ladies maid characters? Any other questions about Imperial Scandal?

This week’s Fraser Correspondence letter is from Raoul to Mélanie/Suzanne.