Title: Vienna Waltz The Imperial Season, book 1
Author: Mary Lancaster
Genre: Historical Romance
Story Setting: Vienna, 1814
Published by: Dragonblade Publishing, Inc.
Published Date: September 6, 2016
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
About the Story: A fabulous new Regency author makes her debut….
In 1814, with Napoleon finally defeated, the great and the good of Europe descend on Vienna to plan a lasting peace – and to dance.
Ejected from her home on the death of her father, Lizzie Gaunt – along with her gaggle of siblings and a large, unruly dog – finds herself in Vienna with her diplomat uncle. But Lizzie is determined not to remain dependent upon her aunt and uncle for long. After witnessing a daring theft, she recruits the unusual thief to carry out her plan – which should hurt no one except her father’s heir, the vile Russian cousin she’s dubbed Ivan the Terrible.
However, Lizzie’s simple scheme is soon complicated by a wounded Austrian spy, a formidable English matron, a masked Russian rakehell from the Emperor’s masquerade ball, and a mysterious villain selling information that could ruin the Congress before it properly begins. And then there’s Cousin Minerva’s romantic difficulties, and Cousin James’ gambling debts to sort out.
While Vienna dances, Lizzie tries to solve everyone’s problems, and ends by falling disastrously and dangerously in love.
My Thoughts: What an appealing read! Mary Lancaster lays the foundation of a complex story at a time in history where allies and ex-enemies are jostling for a superior position in the political arena. Her characters, not all terribly likeable, have personal agendas they are determined to carry out. As she weaves new characters into the mix, you feel the chaos, and excitement of life in Vienna, immediately after the war.
Lizzie is caught up in this society. Her problem, however, is upmost in her mind. How to care for her brother, sister, and Dog, with hardly anything left to her name. Her father recently passed away and barely in the ground when they were asked to vacate their only home. A distant cousin had inherited the estate. Luckily, Lizzie’s aunt and uncle took the family in. They went to Vienna to celebrate along with many noble and titled people.
Lizzie has a very active mind, finding ways to save her family from desperate poverty. Lizzie in her joie de vivre, quick, creative mind and seemingly desperate straits comes to a decision rather quickly. The necklace her aunt wears has to be used to get her out of a pickle. She would not let some cousin in Russia dictate her life and take everything from her.
Her aunt had borrowed it at the time, and was still in her possession. In Lizzie’s mind, it really didn’t belong to her aunt, so she wouldn’t be stealing from her. She could sell it and live on the money until her beautiful younger sister was old enough to marry. Oh, she has it all planned out. And providence helps her! But providence didn’t show her total hand, just starts Lizzie on the right path.
While at the Theatre an der Wien, Lizzie sees a man march up to a woman in the next box, snap a necklace from her neck and march out, even whistling as he saunters out. Lizzie’s mind connects the dots. She knows he is the answer to her problems. (He knows how to steal necklaces!) Dashing out of her box, she chases the man into the street.
Spying a shadow vanishing around the corner of the theatre building, Lizzie hurried after it. She knew she was running out of time. Everyone said Vienna was full of police and police spies, and she couldn’t imagine any of them taking the blatant theft of a lady’s necklace very lightly…
The thief glanced over his shoulder. He must have at least heard if not see his pursuers, for she thought he laughed, although the sound could have come from one of the nearby coachmen. However, he was clearly a thinking thief, for he didn’t immediately bolt and draw attention to himself. Instead, he seemed to look about him as he walked. Then he paused, gazing at the crest on a waiting carriage. Lizzie hurried on. With a jolt of excitement, she realized the carriage was her aunt’s.
The man walked on, but a least his brief halt had given her time to catch up.
He turned and the glow from the nearby street lamp showed her black brows raised in surprise on a lean, handsome face. Although unexpectedly young, he gave off an air of recklessness and sheer danger that caught at Lizzie’s quickened breath. His hair looked wild and unkempt and his rather hard eyes glittered in a way she recognized.
No one was perfect.
She grasped the handle of the carriage door and yanked it open. “Get in.”
And this, dear reader, is why you have to read this book. What sane woman would chase after a man in the street who had just done a robbery, asking him to share her carriage, effectively, concealing him from the authorities and putting herself in danger?
Yes, there is a romantic element in the story, where good versus evil pulls the plot forward. The surprises and twists of events and the basic goodness of people, made a purely delightful, superb experience.
I love a book which makes me laugh out loud. And when, at a most desperate moment where I was expecting the worst I was laughing instead! Great writing, Ms. Landers.
Lizzie and her siblings along with Dog steal the show. (Whoever names their dog, Dog, anyway!) Book titles which come to mind are Little Women, Little Men, and Eight Cousins. That warm good feeling when you meet people unaffected by their circumstances and the light of happiness shows in their eyes.
About the Author: Mary Lancaster’s first love was historical fiction. Her other passions include coffee, chocolate, red wine and black and white films – simultaneously where possible. She hates housework. As a direct consequence of the first love, she studied history at St. Andrews University. She now writes full time at her seaside home in Scotland, which she shares with her husband, three children and a small, crazy dog.
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