A Fatal Waltz (Lady Emily Series #3)

A Fatal Waltz (Lady Emily Series #3)

by Tasha Alexander


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From New York Times bestselling author Tasha Alexander, a spectacular novel of historical suspense featuring the strong-minded and spirited Lady Emily Ashton

At her friend Ivy's behest, Lady Emily Ashton reluctantly agrees to attend a party at the sprawling English country estate of a man she finds odious. But the despised Lord Fortescue is not to be her greatest problem. Kristiana von Lange, an Austrian countess once linked romantically with Emily's fiancé, the debonair Colin Hargreaves, is a guest also. And a tedious evening turns deadly when their host is found murdered, and his protégé, Robert Brandon—Ivy's husband—is arrested for the crime.

Determined to right a terrible wrong, Emily embarks on a quest that will lead her from London's glittering ballrooms to Vienna's sordid backstreets—and into a game of wits with a notorious anarchist. But putting Colin in deadly peril may be the price for exonerating Robert—forcing the intrepid Emily to bargain with her nemesis, the Countess von Lange, for the life of her fiancé.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061174230
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/23/2009
Series: Lady Emily Series , #3
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 60,281
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.72(d)

About the Author

When not reading, Tasha Alexander can be found hard at work on her next book featuring Emily Ashton.

Read an Excerpt

A Fatal Waltz A Novel of Suspense
By Tasha Alexander
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 2008 Tasha Alexander
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061174223

Chapter One

I had not noticed it when she first arrived: the way she leaned too far towards him as he kissed her hand, the hint of surprised recognition in his eyes. But having spent an afternoon in the same room as them, watching the effortless manner in which they fell into familiar conversation—two striking individuals against an equally spectacular backdrop—I could not deny that they were more than casual acquaintances. Never had I suspected my fiancé was so close to another woman.

I was accustomed to, and often amused by, the parade of young ladies who flirted with Colin Hargreaves at every opportunity. The fact that he looked something like a Greek statue of ideal man—by Praxiteles, of course—made him irresistible to debutantes. His enormous fortune, family lineage that could be traced to the time of William the Conqueror, and well-tended estate ensured that he was equally attractive to their parents. But until today, I'd never seen him react to a woman the way he did to the Countess von Lange.

"And you know, Schatz, the Baroness Meinz thought that Tintoretto had done the doors of the Duomo in Florence. Can you imagine?" she asked. Schatz? I was shocked to hear her use a term of endearment in such an intimate tone of voice.

"Well, perhaps she's no scholar of art, but—," Colin began.

"Scholar?Darling, she's absolutely hopeless. Why, even you know who Tintoretto is, don't you, Lady Ashton?"

"Of course," I said, my lack of knowledge of Renaissance art making it impossible for me to add anything more.

"You understand, I hope, why Tintoretto couldn't have done the doors?" she asked, her green eyes dancing as she looked at me.

"My expertise is in classical art, countess," I said. "I'm afraid I'm unable to discuss the nuances of the Italian Renaissance."

"Nuance has nothing to do with it. Tintoretto was a painter. Ghiberti was a sculptor. He did the doors—Michelangelo called them 'gates of paradise.'" She pushed against Colin's arm playfully. "You are going to have to educate her. I can't have you married to someone who's as foolish as the baroness. It would be unconscionable."

"You've nothing to fear on that count," he said. "Emily's brilliant."

"Spoken like a man in love." She had turned so that her back was almost to me, cutting me out of the conversation.

"Will you excuse me?" I asked. There are moments when one is overwhelmed with a feeling of awkwardness, when grace and sophistication and even coherence are goals more remote than that of a woman in evening dress climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or of my mother convincing me to adopt her definition of a successful life. This was one of those moments, and I had no desire to prolong it. As I stood up, my heel caught the silk hem of my gown, and I tripped. Not daring to look at the countess, I mustered as much dignity as possible following what was a decidedly inelegant recovery and headed for the tea table.

Every inch of the mahogany surface was covered by dainty china platters heaped with sandwiches, biscuits, and cakes. Although I did not doubt for an instant that it was all delectable, none of it appealed to a stomach seared by embarrassment. I poured myself a cup of tea, my unsteady hands sloshing the golden liquid onto the saucer, and took a seat on the other side of the parlor.

"Stunning woman, the countess, wouldn't you say, Lady Ashton?" Lord Fortescue dropped onto the chair across from me, its delicate frame bowing under his weight. "Great friend of Hargreaves's. They've known each other for years. Inseparable when he's on the Continent."

I'd had the misfortune in the past year of drawing the attention and ire of Lord Fortescue, confidant of Queen Victoria and broadly considered to be the most powerful man in the empire. I despised him as much as he despised me, and wondered how I would survive for days on end trapped at Beaumont Towers, his extravagant estate in Yorkshire. Ignoring his question, I looked across the drawing room at a gentleman sprawled on a moss green velvet settee. "Is Sir Thomas asleep? That can't bode well for this party."

"So unfortunate that you had to postpone your wedding," Fortescue drawled. "But we needed Hargreaves in Russia. Couldn't be avoided." Colin and I had planned to be married as soon as possible after I'd accepted his proposal, but he was called away just two days before the wedding—no doubt by Lord Fortescue—to assist with a delicate situation in St. Petersburg. This had caused a considerable amount of gossip, as we'd bowed to family pressure to invite several hundred guests.

"Mrs. Brandon tells me that Sir Thomas has a terrible habit of dozing in Parliament. I marvel that his constituents continue to reelect him." I turned my head to stare out the window across the moors.

"I wouldn't expect Hargreaves to be in a hurry to marry you now that he's renewing his acquaintance with the countess." He tapped on the side of his empty glass, which a footman immediately refilled with scotch. As soon as the servant had stepped away, my adversary resumed his offensive. "I've no interest in protecting your feelings, Lady Ashton. You will never make an appropriate wife for him, and I shall do everything in my power to make sure that he never marries you."

"I wonder if I could fall asleep in Parliament," I said, refusing to engage him. "I shouldn't think the benches are that comfortable, though it's not difficult to believe many of the speeches are tedious enough to induce even the most hearty soul to slumber. But I'd wager the House of Commons is more lively than the House of Lords." Across the room, the countess had pulled her chair closer to Colin's, her hand draped elegantly over his armrest.

"You will not avoid conversation on this topic," Lord Fortescue said, his voice sharp, his already ruddy complexion taking on an even brighter hue.


Excerpted from A Fatal Waltz by Tasha Alexander Copyright © 2008 by Tasha Alexander. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Fatal Waltz (Lady Emily Series #3) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 87 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
At the request of her friend Ivy Brandon, Lady Emily Ashton attends a party at the country manor of odious advisor to the Queen Lord Basil Fortescue, a toad Emily loathes. Making what would be an evening of torturous boredom worse is Austrian Countess Kristiana von Lange who is also attending. She allegedly has had her moments with Emily¿s fiancé, royal investigator of potential embarrassing situations Colin Hargreaves. ---- However, ennui is the last thing that occurs that night as someone kills the host. Ivy¿s spouse Robert is the prime suspect as he had motive, means and opportunity being the repulsive Basil¿s political follower. For Ivy¿s sake and believing Robert is innocent though an aristocratic traditionalist throwback, Emily investigates the homicide. Her only potential clue is a letter describing an assassination in Austria. Emily leaves London for Vienna, where Colin is stationed. In Vienna, Emily and Colin enjoy their reunion, but she places both of them in danger as spies and anarchists without conscience are everywhere and eliminating a nosy English lady is fine as far as all these agents are concerned. --- This is an exciting late Victorian amateur sleuth tale that uses famous Austrians like Klim to anchor time and place. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of twists especially since double agents abound one spin in particular is wonderful as Emily teams up with her rival the Countess. Although thoroughly modern Emily seems more twenty first century than late nienteenth, fans will enjoy her spunk and courage as she investigates in Austria, an English country murder (see AND ONLY TO DECEIVE and THE POISONED SEASON for her previous sleuthing). --- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
I adore this series. Alexander has done a splendid job gradually letting Lady Emily's character grow. She began as a realistically naive and rash young woman in And Only to Deceive and is properly slowly maturing. In fact, all of the characters in the series 'ring true'. This is one reason the Lady Emily novels are so compelling. The other is Alexander's apparently effortless way of naturally and accurately portraying the period. Fatal Waltz kept me reading. I was lost to everyone and everything else. When, oh when, will Alexander's next book be published?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly suspenseful - a new twist in the storyline every chapter. I cannot wait to read the next installment. I hope the series goes on to tell the full story of Emily and Colin, as well as a colorful cast of characters. The stories are set in Victorian England, on the cusp of the women's movement in Britain and America. Emily and her loyal friends (both male and female) explore the boundaries of proper female behavior in an age when the female mind is ill equipped to handle normal everyday information, including newspapers, which are considered too disturbing. Men were allowed mistresses, while women were forced to turn a blind eye to these and other inequalities in the final decades of the 19th century. The author addresses these problems, in a generally accurate backdrop of both English heretical laws, and political movements in England and Europe. Anarchism was a political movement that was embraced by all classes, but primarily by the disadvantaged middle-class and the downtrodden poor. In an age of extreme excess by the upper class and nouveau riche in both the British Empire and America, the need for violent protest were played out on the global stage. Emily's involvement in attempting to free her friend Robert prison involved facing the cruel realities of anarchism, but also the depth of affection that Colin had for previous lovers. The story was well written, with careful attention paid to physical attributes of each character and their surroundings.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
thornton37814 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lord Fortescue hosts a party at his country house where Lady Emily Ashton, her fiance Colin Hargreaves, and other guests are invited. Lord Fortescue is murdered, and the authorities arrest Robert Brandon, husband of Lady Emily's friend Ivy. Lady Emily is convinced the authorities have arrested the wrong person, and it is up to her to solve the crime. Colin has been called away on the Crown's business to other parts of Europe. Lady Emily visits Vienna where she finds herself in danger. I'm not a huge fan of espionage, and this novel seems to rely heavily on that aspect for the plot. I enjoyed the mystery itself and the romance between Colin and Emily and even the interactions of both Colin and Emily with his former love. Lady Emily has "matured" as a detective in this particular installment and seems more focused than in previous novels in the series.
alana_leigh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Fatal Waltz would be the third in the "Lady Emily Ashton" series that Tasha Alexander writes. I read the first book because there was something on the cover about "if Jane Austen wrote mysteries" and my mom bought it for me as a joke. I read the second because a friend's father somehow wound up on the cover recommending it (not exactly his type of literature...). I read the third because, having just finished a dreadful book, I needed something that I knew would be fun. And that's exactly what it was, provided that you don't want you fun to come at the cost of thought or energy. Lady Ashton has succumbed to the suit of Colin Hargreaves (the best friend of her first husband, whose murder formed the focus of the first novel) and the pair are engaged, but somehow, they can't quite manage to make the wedding happen. First, Colin is called away for business (he's a spy dontcha know!) and then the most powerful man in England swears that he'll do all in his power to put an end to it, as he despises Lady Ashton. Well, when he winds up murdered, you'd think that might at least pave the way for the wedding (and provide the basic plot of the novel as Lady Ashton seeks to exonerate her friend's husband, who winds up as the prime suspect), but then the Queen decides that as a favor to Lady Ashton's mother, she will lend the location and her presence... next summer.I put the basic plot of the novel in parentheses there because I'm not fooling myself... I know why I'm reading these. I like the romance of it all, and the mystery comes second. And it's hard not to put the romance first in this one, because it's not just their cute banter as to when they can get married ("I'm free this afternoon."), but we see a bit of Colin's past as a former flame turns up. She may be married and she may be Austrian, but that only makes her more of a threat to poor Emily, who's worried that she might not measure up to such a glamorous creature... particularly when the woman tells Emily outright that when Colin proposed to *her*, she turned him down because she selflessly didn't want him to become sloppy in his work and risk his life. Despite the melodrama, I was pleased that Colin was given this past love who clearly meant something to him and he doesn't try to deny it. After all, the first novel had the intriguing premise of a young woman who didn't particularly know her husband well, but when he dies, in her search for answers, she finds that she was dearly loved... and she can't help but fall in love with him, too. It was poignant and here, we see Colin allowed to have something, too. I'm not sure I appreciated it when it was blatantly pointed out the phrase being something like "we're both people who've lived" or somesuch), but it leveled the playing field. And lest yee think that the drama ended there, oh no... we've got a case of hopeless love, multiple cases of familial revenge, and a baby on the way whose father might be execute. And the whole murder case thing. We also get to run around Vienna for a while, which is nice if you've been to Vienna so you have visuals for the copious amounts of historical touchstones and location references. Just like tourists now, they couldn't get out of Wien without sampling sachertorte. I only wish that these books didn't bother to make an appearance in hardcover, as the third novel just made its debut in paperback and the fourth is out, but I simply can't justify the purchase for fluffy fiction. So if historical romance mystery floats your boat and you enjoyed the first two, then certainly try the third. You won't be surprised by anything that happens, but you'll certainly feel satisfied.
cbl_tn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lady Emily Ashton and her fiance, Colin Hargreaves, are guests at a country house party hosted by Lord Fortescue. Lord Fortescue has made no secret of his dislike of Lady Emily, but she is still distressed when he is murdered while out hunting with the men of the party. She is even more distressed when Robert Brandon, husband of her dear friend Ivy, is arrested for the murder. Having no one else to turn to, Robert asks Emily to look into the facts surrounding Lord Fortescue's murder and to do everything within her power to prove his innocence. Her search for the truth takes her to Vienna, a city of intrigue. She has to embark on her quest without Colin, who was sent off on a confidential government mission soon after Lord Fortescue's death.This is my favorite of the three Lady Emily novels I've read so far. Unlike in A Poisoned Season, where several problems competed for Lady Emily's (and the reader's ) attention, this time Lady Emily had an overriding purpose for her investigation. Although other problems arose during her investigation, Emily managed to provide assistance to others in need without losing sight of her main goal. The author found the right balance between the main plot and the subplots in this novel.I did get the impression that some scenes may have been edited out of the book. I was puzzled by a reference to an appointment that the characters were aware of, but which hadn't been mentioned in the text. There was also a discussion of a threat to one of the characters made by a specific person, but even when I went back and re-read the passages involving the person who was said to have made the threat, I couldn't find it in the text. These omissions were probably all the more noticeable to me because the rest of the novel was so well done.
bookmagic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lady Emily Ashton finds herself involved in an international incident when her best friend's husband is accused of killing Lord Fortescue, a powerful man in British politics. But if she finds the killer, she may be threatening the life of her fiance, Colin Hargreaves, who works as a spy for the British Empire. One of Colin's contacts is his former mistress, an Austrian Countess.my review: I really enjoyed the first two in the Lady Emily series. This third installment, not so much. I don't expect cozy mysteries to have brilliant plots, but this was just too weak. At the beginning, Emily and all are in the country and Lord Fortescue tells her frequently that he will break her and Colin up and the Countess insists on telling her that she and Colin are still lovers. Then Emily is framed for stealing important papers by Mr Harrison. But she doesn't actually leave until Fortescue is murdered. She is an independent, wealthy aristocrat and she is putting up with that. Don't think so. And Colin, who was very protective of her in the first two books as he wooed her, is now so laid back and dull.The international intrigue part was a bit too silly. Lady Emily is running around Vienna, looking for anarchists to admit that they put the hit on Fortescue? Harrison threatens Emily and leave bullets everywhere she has been to show how close he can get to her? And the fiance of this Victorian sleuth is just very calm and "hey, be careful." I think not. There was no chemistry with Emily and Colin, it was as if the author was not even trying.I was disappointed in this novel, it lacked the wit and spark of the first two. I will most likely read the fourth book as I have it out from the library. but if it doesn't get back to the writing of the first two, I will put it down and wait for the next book in the Lady Julia Grey series by Deanna Raybourn.rating 2/5reread noperecommend skip it
nittnut on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the twists and turns and suspense of this third book in the series. I liked it much better than the second one. Her books contain many references to historical figures and events that are real, and I like that very much. This one has passing reference to Gertrude Bell (for more on her read Desert Queen: the extraordinary life of Gertrude Bell) and the political environment in Austria just before WWI. Very nice to have the historical reference in addition to a great mystery.
jemerritt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Fatal Waltz begins with a now engaged Lady Emily Ashton attending a party at the country estate of Lord Fortescue, one of the most politically powerful men in England.Lord Fortescue, not fond of Lady Emily and her independent nature objects to her upcoming marriage to Colin Hargreaves. It appears that Lord Fortescue¿s daughter wants Colin for herself.Undaunted by Lord Fortescue¿s arrogant attempts at intimidation, Emily relegates his abhorrent behaviour to the back of her mind until Robert Brandon, her friend Ivy¿s husband is arrested for the murder of Lord Fortescue.Desperate to find evidence of Robert¿s innocence, Lady Emily sets out for Vienna, Austria, for Lord Fortescue was being threatened and the clues lead to an anarchist and a plot that if carried out could disrupt the political landscape of Europe.A Fatal Waltz has a much more sinister edge than the previous two books and Lady Emily is in far more danger than she could ever have imagined. Gone is the protection of English society and her close friends. The stakes are also higher, for not only Robert¿s life is in peril, but that of Lady Emily¿s fiancé, Colin Hargreaves.A Fatal Waltz is remarkably well written and the descriptions of the Vienna café culture and that of the artists and poets is fascinating. I highly recommend A Fatal Waltz and look forward to Lady Emily¿s upcoming nuptials.
wagner.sarah35 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lady Emily Ashton is up to her old tricks - investigating a murder, traveling across Europe, meeting royalty, and romancing the dashing Mr. Hargreaves. A Fatal Waltz has everything required of a mystery set in the 19th century, and I have to give credit for the setting of Vienna and the background involving the Mayerling suicide. I would recommend A Fatal Waltz to anyone who enjoyed the previous Lady Emily Ashton mysteries or who delights in historical mysteries.
runaway84 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A delightful book. Not as fantastic as I thought A Poisoned Season to be, but entertaining nonetheless. Like A Poisoned Season, the ending had a great twist that I did not see coming. This book had a bit more action in it than A Poisoned Season and I felt myself holding my breath at some points. A Fatal Waltz was a great third installment to the Lady Ashton series and I cannot wait to read the next.
TheLibraryhag on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lady Emily finds herself an unwelcome guest at the country home of her enemy, Lord Fortescue. Before the event is over, Lord Fortescue is murdered, and the husband of her good friend, Ivy is arrested for the murder. In an attempt to free him, Emily travels to Vienna and finds herself involved in international intrigue as well as a murder mystery. I really enjoy these books. The first person narrative moves you through Victorian society at a nice clip. I feel that I know the characters and the time. The attention to detail, particularly clothing, and the inclusion of historical characters add to the fun of these lively books.
uncultured on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is the third appearance of Lady Emily Ashton, a Victorian widow who finds that her newfound freedom can be both invigorating and dangerous. Engaged to man of mystery (and aristocrat) Colin Hargreaves, Lady Ashton finds herself at a somewhat twisted version of the traditional country house party when murder (murder most foul) intrudes. Someone is wrongfully accused, and for complicated reasons, Lady Ashton and her friends must travel to Vienna and unravel a plot that involves the Hapsburgs, a rogue English agent, Gustave Klimt, anarchists, and lots of Viennese confections. This book itself is something of a confection--something entertaining and amusing to read when real life (or boring books) begin to overwhelm. At times I did wish that Alexander would commit to one genre or another--the book starts off as a traditional mystery, but when the scene moves to Vienna, it switches to a tale of amateur espionage. All the while, there are soap opera moments of romance, as Lady Ashton comes into close contact with her fiancee's former lover (and current associate). Into this already full buffet Alexander throws the historical mystery known as the Mayerling Incident: in 1889, Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria and his lover, Baroness Mary Vestra, were found dead in the Crown Prince's hunting lodge. It was ruled a suicide, but the Crown Prince's (somewhat) radical politics, along with the fact that Vestra was apparently shot post-mortem, led many to suspect that all was not kosher in Vienna. (For those who have seen the classic film The Third Man, cue zither music). All in all, a yummy bit of confection, though its richness may cause some to seek out something a bit less caloric. PS-The heroine of this book bears a striking, almost familial resemblance to author Deanna Raybourn's Silent in the Grave. It features a widow whose mourning engenders a newfound independence, along with the need to solve her husband's murder. Lady Julia Gray, however, inhabits a slightly darker world, though it's nonetheless an entertaining read.
punxsygal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the 3rd in the Lady Emily Ashton series. The story begins while Lady Emily is attending a house party at the estate of Lord Fortescue, an odious but powerful man. Her host has also invited Kristiana Von Lange, an Austrian countess who was once involved with Lady Emily¿s fian¿e, Colin Hargreaves. During the party Lord Fortescue is found murdered and Robert Brandon, the husband of Emily¿s best friend, is arrested. Lady Emily begins to dig for clues to help Robert, which leads her from London to Vienna and the suite of the Empress of Austria. She, also, begins to find the threads of a plot of anarchists to create havoc between England and Austria.Once again, Tasha Alexander leads the reader into the opulent world of England¿s upper crust in the 19th century. With a touch of mystery, a hint of romance, and the scent of the Austrian coffee shops the reader can settle in for an enjoyable story.
francescadefreitas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A weekend party at a hostile politician's estate ends with Robert in jail for murder, and Ivy in tears. Emily tries to find the real killer, hunting in London and Vienna. I didn't enjoy the political context of this mystery as much as the others, and I thought Emily was rather silly at times. But I am so fond of the characters in the series that I enjoyed reading it regardless. Weaker than the others, but still a fun romp with old friends. I'll keep directing people to the first book in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is about a liberal, bold woman in the 1890's when women were not. But, it is well written and interesting. No explicit sex scenes, vulgarity or offensive language. Then, why only four stars? There are 'way too many people to keep up with. Perhaps, if I could have read it on one sitting...? Sometimes, I wish that I were as illiterate as today's fiction writers. Reading would not, then, be so frustrating. This author needs to know when to use my rather than me, into rather than in, your rather than you. Me and... drives me up the wall. That's a sure sign of gross illiteracy. Along with, "I've done went...". I realize that everyone says it, but please keep in mind that the U.S. rates almost at the bottom of literacy test scores.
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LillMagill More than 1 year ago
Very, very good!
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