AnnMarie from Circulation Services provides another review:
Following the defeat of Napoleon and his exile to the island of Elba, the European nations sent their sovereign or ambassador to the Congress of Vienna in the fall of 1814. The purpose of the Congress was to settle the many issues resulting from the Napoleonic wars and to redraw the continent’s political boundaries. The arrival of so many crowned heads, ambassadors, and other political officers and ministers created an unparalleled social gaiety in Vienna. In fact Madame Junot, Duchesse d’Abrantes, wrote in her memoir, “Vienna was at this period a place of enchantment and delicious pleasure; fetes, joy, love, ambition, all were written on the golden and perfumed pages of enchantment.”
It is in this spectacular social whirl that Teresa Grant has set Vienna Waltz. The social scene of early 19th-century Vienna provides a dazzling backdrop to the novel, which combines mystery, history, romance and intrigue in a very satisfying way.
Princess Tatiana is found murdered by four people she had arranged to meet—Tsar Alexander, Prince Metternich, and British attaché Malcolm Rannoch and his wife Suzanne. A beautiful and powerful woman, the Princess had ties to the French, English and Russian delegations and her death could have serious repercussions for the political negotiations. Malcolm Rannoch is asked by Lord Castlereagh, the British foreign secretary, to solve her murder. Malcolm had been a spy with Tatiana during the Peninsular Wars, but his feelings for her seemed to be much deeper than those of a colleague and friend. Despite the rumors of Malcolm’s supposed affair with the Princess, Malcolm’s new wife, Suzanne, joins him in searching for the killer.
Malcolm and Suzanne uncover several motives for murder—blackmail? a planned assassination?— as well as a whole host of suspects—the tsar? the prince? or maybe one of the other courtesans? The search for Tatiana’s killer leads Malcolm and Suzanne through Vienna’s famed coffee houses and Opera, glittering balls, and even a re-created medieval jousting tournament. (Yes, there really was a jousting tournament during the Congress!) A woman of many talents and one who likes action, Suzanne is a perfect match for Malcolm as they solve the mystery. As the story progresses, the reader learns more about Malcolm and Suzanne’s unusual marriage and sees their relationship grow.
The novel deftly combines real historical figures, like Tsar Alexander and Prince Metternich, with those of the author’s imagination, such as Princess Tatiana and the Rannochs. While there are some political discussions in Vienna Waltz, it is the characters’ personal relationships that really shine as well as the descriptions of early 19th-century Vienna and its large number of social events. I found the book to be a “delicious pleasure” like Madame Junot’s Vienna.
If you would like to read about the further adventures of the Rannochs, set in Regency England, you can find them in Beneath a Silent Moon and Secrets of a Lady. These books, published under the name Tracy Grant, feature Charles and Melanie Fraser, whose names were changed to Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch in Vienna Waltz. Whatever their names—Rannoch or Fraser, they are an interesting and intriguing couple to follow!
Check the WRL catalog for Vienna Waltz