Mélanie and Charles Fraser


photo: Elaine Hamlin

photo: Elaine Hamlin

Mélanie and I had a wonderful Halloween in Ashland, Oregon, taking part in the town parade, trick or treating in the lovely railroad distort, and wrapping the day up with dinner at Peerless, one of our favorite Ashland restaurants. Peerless’s excellent drinks list includes the Vesper, the cocktail named for James Bond’s tragic love interest in Casino Royale. I usually have a Vesper when I’m there, and it was extra special this time with Spectre about to open.

I’ve always loved James Bond films – the adventure, the humor, the style. My mom loved them too. My dad wasn’t quite as into them, but he enjoyed them as well and we’d watch as a family. But with Casino Royale, my interest increased. Here was the adventure and style with more substance, a harder-edged look at the spy game – and a wonderful love story. Of course it didn’t hurt that I could imagine Daniel Craig and Eva Green as Malcolm and Suzanne and that the love story with Bond and Vesper forced to work together and falling in love while she keeps secrets and betrays him, has some definite Malcolm and Suzanne parallels. I wrote the last Malcolm and Suzanne scene in Imperial Scandal after watching the scene in Casino where Vesper says goodbye to Bond (note the moment where Suzanne laces her hands behind Malcolm’s head and commits his features to memory).

interestingly, long before I heard of the Vesper (which is gin, vodka, and lillet blanc),  a friend and I invented a drink in honor of Suzanne/Mélanie that is equal parts vanilla vodka and lillet blanc (one of my favorite restaurants, Indigo, even knows how to make it for me).

I’ve enjoyed the subsequent films with Daniel Craig, while missing a love story on the level of Casino (on the other hand, the fact that Bond can’t love like that again is rather the point). Slkyfall in particular was great for exploring Bond’s past and the moral compromises of the spy game from what I’ve read Spectre promises to be rich in both story and character.

Who else is a Bond fan? Planning to see (or have you already seen) Spectre? If you’ve seen Casino, do you see parallels to Malcolm and Suzanne?

As you probably know if you follow this blog, Incident In Berkeley Square came out Monday. There’s a lively discussion going on the Google Group. Pop over and join in and/or share your thoughts here.

Have a great weekend!!
Tracy

earrings

Incident in Berkeley Square will be out Monday, 2 November. I’m so excited to have it out in the world and be able to discuss it with readers. Last week I shared the pendant that was my inspiration for the pendant Malcolm gives Suzanne. Above are the earrings that were my inspiration for the blue topaz earrings Raoul sends to Laura before the book begins and that she wears to the ball (the earrings above are green quartz).

We had fun on the Google Group with readers guessing who some quotes from the book belonged to. Here are a few more to while away the time until 2 November. For any or all guess who is speaking, whom they are speaking to, and if you like speculate on the circumstances in which the quote is spoken.

  1. “Ten minutes, and you’ll never know anyone was here.”
  2. “Thank you. For being who you are.”
  3. “I think the only thing to do is seek refuge on the dance floor.”
  4. “No, I know, safer that way, for him and me. Doesn’t stop me from worrying. He’s not hurt?”
  5. “I think you’re doing both of you a disservice. Where do you think he got those ideals in the first place?”

Have a wonderful Halloween weekend! Here are Mélanie and me at the Jack-o-Lantern Jamboree at Children’s Fairyland last weekend.

Happy All Hallows’ Eve!

Tracy

photo: Raphael Coffey

photo: Raphael Coffey

necklace

Incident in Berkeley Square will be out in just over a week, on November 2nd. So excited to have it out in the world! Above is a pendant of mine that is the inspiration for a pendant Malcolm gives Suzanne at the start of the novella, to celebrate the first ball they’ve hosted since he learned the truth about her past.

He flipped open the lid of the box. A garnet pendant glowed against the velvet, set in silver filigree with a narrow rim of gold and a finely wrought gold chain. Something in the delicate workmanship of the metal stirred memories of their time in Spain. “It’s beautiful.” She reached up to take off the pearls she was wearing.

“I think you can wear them together.” Malcolm picked up the necklace, undid the clasp, and set it round her throat.

“What’s the occasion?” she asked.

“We’re hosting a ball.” His fingers danced against her spine as he fastened the clasp. He hadn’t put on his gloves yet. Malcolm hated the trappings of a formal social occasion.

“It’s hardly the first time we’ve hosted a ball.”

“No.” He pressed a kiss against the nape of her neck. “But it’s the first time—”

“Since you learned I was a French agent?” Suzanne turned round and met her husband’s gaze.

Malcolm returned her gaze with a smile that was sweet and without artifice. And yet, at the same time acknowledged the challenges ahead.

Have a wonderful Halloween weekend! Here are Mélanie and me at a Halloween party last weekend in our costumes (our own version of Anna and Elsa when they aren’t in their traditional costumes; Mel wanted to be Anna in a pink dress).

TracyMelHalloweenHappy All Hallows’ Eve!

Tracy

Mask of Night Image

Incident In Berkeley Square, the novella that takes place six weeks after The Mayfair Affair, will be out November 2nd, two weeks from next Monday. It takes place at a ball Suzanne and Malcolm are giving, their first since he learned the truth of her past. Here’s a twilight image of Berkeley Square as it might look when the guests are arriving for the ball. The house that is my image for the Rannochs’ is the in middle.

Be sure to check out the great discussions we’ve been having on the Google + Group. I’m learning more about my own characters from the the fascinating analysis!

And here, just for fun, are Mélanie and me in costume for Marin Theatre Company’s Cinderella last weekend.

TracyMelCinderella

Have a great weekend!!

Tracy

Incident in Berkeley Square 2_face
Incident in Berkeley Square, the new novella, will be out November 2, and should be available for pre-order shortly. Above is a peek at the cover, which I love (looks so like Suzanne in an early scene in the story). And below is another teaser which shows the start of the intrigue that threatens the peace of Suzanne and Malcolm’s ball. What challenges do you think this will pose for Malcolm and Suzanne and their friends?

Be sure to check out the great character analysis thread Betty has started on the Google + Group. Some fascinating comments on Malcolm, and we’ve just begun to discuss Suzanne. it would be great to have more people chime in.

Have a great weekend!
Tracy

Malcolm exchanged greetings with Crispin and Manon Harleton, then stopped short at the sight of a familiar auburn head in the throng. “Bertrand.” Malcolm touched Bertrand Laclos on the arm. “Rupert said you wouldn’t be able to make it tonight.” He ran his gaze over his friend. Bertrand was always quietly elegant, and his dark coat and trousers blended in well—these days not all men wore knee breeches to balls, thank God—but Bertrand was not really dressed for the occasion. There appeared to be salt stains on his shoes and the cuffs of his trousers. “You didn’t come for the ball, did you?” Malcolm asked.

“Not for want of wishing to.” Bertrand cast a quick glance about. “I’m sorry, Malcolm,” he continued in a voice that managed to sound conversational to anyone passing but was also quick and focused. “I’m afraid we had a spot of trouble at the docks. I could have gone to our house, but Rupert’s sister’s Clarissa and her family are living with us while their house is painted—”

“No, you were right to come here.” Malcolm touched Bertrand’s shoulder. “Walk with me. I assume you brought friends. Where have you stashed them away?”

“Your study.”

“Excellent.” Malcolm tightened his hand on Bertrand’s shoulder. “I’m taking you to sample a new whisky Andrew sent from Dunmykel.”

Bertrand moved with the ease of a guest at a ball, a languid gait that somehow made his plain coat and salt-stained trousers take on the look of evening wear. Malcolm, more than passingly good at disguise, recognized Bertrand as a master. For years, presumed dead thanks to the machinations of his lover’s father, he had lived a secret life in Paris while he donned a variety of disguises and smuggled both Royalists and Bonapartists out of the war-torn country. Three years ago he had returned to Britain and to Rupert Caruthers, whom he had loved all his life. But Malcolm knew Bertrand still slipped across the Channel to rescue those in need. He had an agent’s skills, but he wasn’t in the service of a country. He made his own choices and rescued those in need. A position Malcolm could envy.

“Do you want to find Rupert first?” Malcolm asked.

Bertrand hesitated a moment, then shook his head. “Not yet. No sense in taking the time. And it might be better if he can genuinely deny I’m here.”

Suzanne had come into the ballroom. She was by the open double doors, talking to the Hollands and Lord John Russell. Malcolm met her gaze and realized she was well aware of Bertrand at his side. He inclined his head slightly and saw the message received in her eyes. “You handle the guests, I’ll handle this.”

It was probably quite unfair. He’d rather handle a mission than a ball any day. Of course, Suzanne was much better at juggling matters in the ballroom than he was. And her absence would be noticed much more quickly.

They made their way out of the ballroom. A few people recognized Bertrand and nodded to him, but they managed to avoid stopping to talk. No sense in wasting time and no telling what might be overheard. Instead of going down the main staircase, still clogged with latecomers, Malcolm took Bertrand through the baize-covered door to the backstairs.

“Malcolm,” Bertrand murmured as they reached the study on the ground floor.

“Explanations inside,” Malcolm said, and pushed open the door.

A lamp flickered on his desk. Its muted glow caught the fair hair of a man lying on the sofa in front of the desk, booted feet sticking out over the green velvet. Another man was bent over the sofa. Dark hair, a lean form, and something unmistakable about the set of the shoulders. Malcolm pushed the study door to. He might have known.

“Good evening, O’Roarke. Kind of you to join us.”

Raoul O’Roarke straightened up and regarded Malcolm across the study. His eyes were a dark gray and even Malcolm could now recognize that they were the twin of his own. O’Roarke, Malcolm had learned the previous winter, was Malcolm’s biological father. He was also Suzanne’s former lover and spymaster. Nothing in Malcolm’s family, acknowledged or unacknowledged, was easy.

“I’m sorry, Malcolm,” O’Roarke said. “We didn’t want to impose on you. But we had limited options.”

“No, you were right to come here.” Malcolm advanced into the room. “How hurt is your friend?”

The fair-haired man on the sofa turned his head and gave a weak smile, and Malcolm saw that she wasn’t a man at all but a woman, a quite young woman, dressed in a coat and breeches.

“Malcolm, may I present Lisette Varon?” Bertrand said, in the same tone he’d use in the drawing room. “She found it necessary to leave the Continent abruptly. O’Roarke and I assisted her.”

“Mademoiselle Varon.” Malcolm inclined his head. “Welcome to England. My apologies for your difficult arrival. We are usually more welcoming to visitors.”

“Monsieur Rannoch.” Lisette Varon’s voice was low-pitched and educated. Its steadiness indicated her injuries were not grave. “I am sorry for disturbing you.”

“On the contrary,” Malcolm said. “I’m glad our friends knew where to bring you.”

“We came over on a smuggler’s boat,” Bertrand said. “Tim Leggett. He’s consistent. I’ve worked with him before. Honest dealing. Good at evading the authorities. It seemed safer and easier to take a smaller boat up the Thames with him than to wrangle transportation from Dover. But the Preventive Waterguard must be looking for someone to make an example of. They met us at the dock. Leggett had enough advance warning to fire off a volley of gunshots. The preventive men fired back. More excitement than one usually sees in London. We got caught in the crossfire. Lisette took a bullet. It seemed prudent to make ourselves scarce. One of our number didn’t have papers that would stand scrutiny and O’Roarke and I weren’t best placed to answer questions.”

“So you ran,” Malcolm said. “Prudent.”

“We ran,” O’Roarke agreed. “Unfortunately, one of the preventive men gave chase. No reason to realize we weren’t some of the smugglers. We had the devil’s own time losing him. Did a dance through Covent Garden and finally shook him on the edge of Mayfair. I’m sorry to have come here, but—”

“We’re better equipped to deal with it than most,” Malcolm said. “No one’s likely to come in here, but you’d best keep the door locked, just to be safe. I’ll have some food sent in. And I’ll send my wife in to look at your wound, Mademoiselle Varon. She’s quite good at patching up people.”

“Thank you.” Lisette hesitated a moment, as though unsure whether or not to say more.

“You can trust him,” O’Roarke said. “My word on it. And he should know.”

Lisette cast a quick glance at O’Roarke, then looked back at Malcolm. “You’ve been very kind, Monsieur Rannoch. I’m sorry we imposed on you, as I said. But selfishly I’m glad we came here. I have a message for Madame Rannoch.”

Malcolm met Lisette’s gaze across his study carpet. The gaze of a former French agent. Who had a message for his wife, also a former French agent. Life had got unbelievably complicated four and a half months ago.

He could feel O’Roarke watching him, but he kept his gaze on Lisette and inclined his head. “Then all the more reason for me to send her in,” he said.

Malcolm moved to the door but paused, gripping the brass handle, to look back at his father. The last time Malcolm had seen him O’Roarke had been on his way to Spain to help the rebels against the restored Bourbon government. “O’Roarke.”

O’Roarke looked up at him.

“We’ve been worried about you,” Malcolm said. “It’s good to see you back in London in one piece.”

Just a quick note that Betty has started a fascinating analysis of Malcolm on the Google+ Group. I’m learning new things about him myself and falling a bit more in love with him. Head over there , read some wonderful analysis, and share your thoughts. There’s also a very fun Casting Game thread.

I’ll be back with a full blog post later this week.

Happy Monday!

Tracy

8.22.15TracyMelMGF

Last autumn I had fun doing a fall fashion blog. This year I haven’t really done fall fashion shopping, mostly because I splurged a lot over the summer, notably on the dress above in three different colors (black, coral, ivory, all very much or sale). It’s a dress that goes anywhere, from picnics to the black tie and the lace is remarkably sturdy, a plus for the mum of a toddler. Fortunately, lace is still very much in for fall, so I’m still wearing the dresses a bunch with cardigans and sweaters.

But thinking about fall fashion prompted me to think about what designers Suzanne and Cordelia and Laura might wear if they lived today. I think Suzanne and Cordy would both wear a lot of my favorite designer (the source of my three lace dresses) Alice Temperley of Temperley London. Not just as a nod to the author, but because the fluid, elegant, romantic but not fussy look seems to suit them both.

I browsed for them both on the Temperley website (very fun because they would have a much more generous clothing budget than I do :-). I could see Suzanne wearing this dress to a tea or luncheon (or to work, because a modern day Suzanne would certainly work). This dress also is perfect for Suzanne day to dinner and time with the children. Cordy might wear this to a cocktail party. I could see Suzanne in this dress (one of my favorites of Temperley’s Autumn/Winter collection) at a dinner party or the theater. Or during the day with a cardigan and flats. They could make a dramatic entrance at a black tie event in matching evening gowns, Suzanne in red, Cordy in blue. 

Or for contrasting evening looks, I could see Suzanne in this and Cordelia in this.

Laura, on the other hand, I see as a bit more tailored. I could see her wearing a lot of L.K. Bennett, another favorite I haunt during sales. I could see Laura in this day dress, or this for dinner, or this for something more formal.

What sort of clothes do you think Suzanne, Cordelia, Laura, and others in the series would wear if they lived today? Designers, brands, styles? What present day celebrities have looks that might be similar to theirs?

We’re having a lot of fun on Google + Group – so glad more of you have joined! Do check it out if you haven’t.

« Previous PageNext Page »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 113 other followers