Earlier today I posted the winner of the first week of the Imperial Scandal ARC contest. My apologies for being so late with this. As I mentioned when I posted the winner, this past week sort of got away from. The holiday season is always a chaotic time and particularly so for me this year as I’m getting ready to have a baby – my first – due December 11. I will try to keep up with website updates after she arrives, but if updates are bit erratic for a fortnight or so, please understand and be sure to keep checking the site.

I’m also happy to report that I have a contract for two more Malcolm & Suzanne books, the first of which, The Princess’s Secret, I’ve been working hard to have a draft of before my daughter arrives (happily I’m close to my goal). It’s set in post-Waterloo Paris during the White Terror and returns to a number of the characters from Vienna Waltz as well as some from Imperial Scandal. The next book will either continue Malcolm & Suzanne’s adventures in Paris or take them back to London. Watch for more teasers from The Princess’s Secret as well as Imperial Scandal.

And now for this week’s Imperial Scandal teaser, which introduces another new character, Rachel Garnier. Once again I’ll be giving away a signed ARC to one of this week’s commenters (I’ll post the winner of last week’s contest tomorrow).

Also be sure to check out this week’s Fraser Correspondence addition – inspired by a story I heard on NPR, it’s Mélanie/Suzanne’s pre-Christmas “to do” list from December 1814.

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Charles strolled up the age-darkened oak stairs at the back of the common room and heard Davenport’s soft, sure treads on the steps behind him. At the head, Charles led the way down the passage and pushed open a door.
Davenport followed him inside and glanced round the neat, white-washed private parlor. “Is your contact invisible or late?”
“She’ll be here.” Charles picked up the decanter of red wine that stood on the round table in the center of the room and poured a glass.
Davenport dropped into a chair. “She?”
“Rachel Garnier.” Charles handed the glass to Davenport. “My best source in Brussels. She has access to a wealth of information.”
“A shopkeeper?”
“A bird of paradise.” Charles poured a second glass of wine and took a sip of the quite acceptable Côte de Rhone. “She’s employed at a house frequented by Belgians with French sympathies. Several of her regular clients are French agents. In fact there’s a small spy ring that uses the brothel for meetings.”
“But you haven’t taken them in because that would put a stop to one of your best sources of information.”
“Quite.”
Davenport took a sip of wine and studied Charles over the rim of the glass. “Your marriage appears to be more complicated than one would think at first glance. Or perhaps more commonplace.“
“Mélanie’s met Rachel.”
“Curiouser and curiouser. Do–“
Davenport’s words were cut short by the opening of the door. A slender young woman in a spring green gown stood on the threshold, a plumed hat set at a rakish angle on her auburn curls. She smiled at Charles. “I must say, I was quite pleased to get your message–“ She went still as she caught sight of Davenport.
“It’s all right,” Charles said, “he’s a friend.“
Rachel regarded Davenport, her dark brows tightly drawn. “Who says friends are to be trusted?”
“A good point,” Charles conceded. “But this friend is also a colleague without whom I might very well not have survived last night’s adventures. Mademoiselles Garnier, may I present Colonel Davenport?”
Rachel regarded Davenport with a frank gaze. “You’ll forgive my suspicions? One learns to watch one’s back these days.”
“The best way to avoid taking a knife between the shoulder blades.” Davenport got to his feet and gave a half bow.