As I write this review, I find myself thinking of an occasion when I sold both Vienna Waltz and Imperial Scandal to a customer. This in itself isn't a new occurence, but I described her books in a new way. I found myself calling them "like Elizabeth George, but historical". I think Elizabeth George was on my mind because of what I'm sure has become a running joke on this blog. I love Tracy's books, but I don't think the covers are the most effective they could be. It's not that the covers look bad, far from it -- they're gorgeous -- it's that they shut out any appeal the books could have for male readers. My coworkers and I have convinced the odd husband / friend to read them and they come back telling us how much they like them. Nevertheless, it'll take a very confident man indeed to carry around a book with a woman in a ball dress on the cover. I found myself thinking of mystery authors that have crossed the gender divide and Elizabeth George came to mind, which made me consider other similarities. Both authors write strong mysteries, but it's as much if not more the private lives of the characters that keep readers coming back. Both are Americans writing about Britishers. They have characters from both the aristocracy and the common people and use the tension of classes to great effect. They even both, if I recall George's backlist correctly, play with writing stories out of chronology. Speaking of series chronology, it's interesting that this is the first book where Grant ends the book pointing firmly toward the next in the series. Malcom and Suzanne discuss that the former's next assignment is likely to be Paris -- which Tracy's blog reveals is the setting of her current manuscipt-in-progress bringing us her vision of the White Terror. While I very much enjoyed her first Mélanie and Charles books (and hope to soon get to the Lescault novels that have been re-released as e-books), I do feel Tracy's writing has taken a nice jump with Vienna Waltz and Imperial Scandal, in which she incorporates many more historical figures and events, and raises the public stakes to much higher levels. Imperial Scandal takes us to Brussels in the days leading up to the final confronation between Napoleon and Wellington, a fascinating time that, like the Congress of Vienna, juxtaposes the pinnacles of glamour and violence that so fascinate us about this period. Grant layers the public stakes, as usual, with private ones. The ideas of loyalty and betrayal are ripe in this novel: loyalty to one's ideals, to one's friends, to one's spouse, and what happens with these various loyalties do not fit neatly into their separate boxes.