His Spanish Bride, the Malcolm & Suzanne wedding novella, is now available for pre-order on Kindle and Nook and should be on iBooks and other platforms ahortly. Here’s a glimpse of the “cover copy” – my editor had the wonderful idea of doing it in the form of a wedding invitation. To go with it, for the August teaser, here’s an excerpt of Suzanne’s thoughts just before the wedding.
What literary wedding would you most like to be invited to?
I’ve also just posted a new Fraser Correspondence letter, a letter Raoul wrote to Mel/Suzette to be delivered in the event he didn’t survive Waterloo.
Kensington Publishing Corporation and Author Teresa Grant
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of
SUZANNE de SAINT-VALLIER
the seventh of December 1812
British Embassy, Lisbon
*Intrigue and unforeseen occurrences expected*
The air in the embassy sitting room was close and heavy, thick with the heat of the fire in the grate. The English were accused of keeping their rooms drafty, but with the windows shut tight against the cold the thick heat and puffs of smoke choked the air. Outside the windows the sky was gray and drops of rain spattered against the glass. The looped-back curtains were red velvet, the furniture solid English oak. One noticed such details as one waited for the company to assemble, moments before taking one’s wedding vows.
“You make a very lovely bride, my dear.” Sir Charles Stuart, who was to give her away, came up beside her.
“You always know just what to say, sir.” Suzanne had chosen a gown of rose-colored sarcenet edged with white lace at neck and sleeves, part of the new wardrobe Malcolm had purchased for her when he brought her to Lisbon, to augment the few things she had been carrying in her supposed flight from the French. He had been remarkably patient waiting at the modiste’s, though he had seemed as out of place there was he was in this marriage. Suzanne had draped a white lace mantilla over her head and shoulders. The color of purity and innocence. An irony lost on this company. The pearl comb in her hair had in fact been her mother’s. Suzanne had hesitated to wear it, as though it would be somehow dignifying the wedding as more than it was, but at the last minute she had grabbed it and stuck it into her hair, aware of a shrewd look from Blanca.
“It’s a great pity your parents aren’t here to see this day,” Stuart murmured, his voice unwontedly serious. “I’m sure they would be very proud.”
Their images flashed into her mind, breaking through the wall she usually kept up against her memories. Maman, bending over the crib in a cloud of dark ringlets and spicy scent. At her dressing table mirror surrounded by candlelight. Viewed onstage from the wings. Waxy pale as she lay on her deathbed after the birth of Suzanne’s little sister. Frozen in death when they put her in her coffin. Papa, his face alight with laughter from below when he tossed her in the air. Features stamped with the grief at Maman’s graveside. Bending over a book with Suzanne on his lap. His concise voice giving her stage directions as Jessica or Juliet. Sprawled on a tiled floor, his head shattered by a bullet.
If they could see her now, would the even recognize the woman she’d become?
“Thank you,” she said. “It’s comforting to think so.” Though in truth she knew neither of her parents would approve of this marriage. But then neither of them could have conceived of this world she had entered into.
“I have no doubt of it.” Stuart’s smile was affectionate. For all his womanizing reputation, he was a kind man and remarkably thoughtful. The antithesis of Edward Linford.
She had to think of the present and future, not the past. That way lay madness. Why should the absence of her parents matter at a marriage that didn’t mean anything in any case? Yet part of the success of carrying off a role, as an agent as well as an actor, was finding the core of oneself in the part and incorporating details of one’s own life.
Malcolm was across the room speaking with the chaplain. He wore a light blue coat, biscuit-colored breeches, silver-buckled shoes. A typical English gentleman. He came from a world that represented everything she was fighting against. She should hang on to that.
His gaze met hers and his mouth lifted in a smile. She returned the smile. How absurd, with all the lies between them, to feel that they shared a secret the others in the room could not know.
Lord Wellington walked up and clapped Malcolm on the shoulder. For an instant, she glimpsed the raw tension in Malcolm’s face. A band clamped round her chest. Dear God, what she was doing to him—
Malcolm and Wellington crossed to join her and Stuart.
“Mrs. Gordon’s been saying it’s bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding,” Wellington said. “Lot of superstitious nonsense. Glad you don’t pay heed to it.”
Malcolm took her hand. “No second thoughts?” he asked in a lowered voice.
“None.” That much was true. She’d made her decision for better or worse. “But I’d understand if you’re having them.”
“No.” The single word was more heartfelt reassurance than the most fulsome declaration.