Cozy Wednesday with Alyssa Maxwell – Author of Murder at Rough Point – Giveaway too! @KensingtonBooks

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Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I am so excited to Welcome Alyssa Maxwell back to Escape With Dollycas! 

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Murder at Rough Point by Alyssa Maxwell

Has a place ever captured your imagination to the point that you became just a little bit obsessed with it? This happened to me over thirty years ago, when I had my first glimpse of Rough Point, tucked away at the southern end of Bellevue Avenue in Newport, RI. Back then, Rough Point was mostly obscured from view by solid iron doors at the bottom of the driveway.

Who lived there? Why those solid doors? Well . . . Doris Duke, tobacco heiress, inherited the estate in the mid-1920s at the age of 12 and owned it until her death in 1993. You could say she was one of the last of the Gilded Age elite. In the last decades of her life, she continued to use Rough Point as well as other estates she owned, but lived a reclusive existence while secrets and rumors swirled around her name. I’m sure you’re wondering what those rumors were. I invite readers to investigate on their own. Suffice it to say here that we owe Doris Duke a great debt for her lifelong commitment to philanthropy and historic preservation. Her efforts, which included establishing the Newport Restoration Foundation in 1968, rescued numerous 18th and 19th century Newport properties that might have fallen prey to the wrecking ball if not for her.

Here’s more about Doris and the Foundation:

Originally built for Frederick and Louise Vanderbilt and completed in 1892, Rough Point is aptly named for its secluded, rocky headland that juts out into the turbulent currents where the Atlantic Ocean wraps around the southern tip of Aquidneck Island to eventually feed into Narraganset Bay. The house itself, sprawling and gabled, was designed with English county manors in mind. In Frederick Vanderbilt’s day, the interior was defined by stone and dark, coffered woodwork. In short, this very Gothic house is the perfect setting for a murder mystery.

After building the house, Frederick and Louise decided they didn’t care for Newport – I know, go figure! They started renting the house out, and this gave me a perfect opportunity to introduce an eccentric cast of characters, i.e., a hodgepodge group of artists (an opera singer, sculptor, choreographer, etc.) visiting from Paris – or are they escaping Paris? They’re definitely hiding something. And though they call themselves friends, they thrive on conflict and competition and lots of drama. Added to that is the kind of autumn storm that often pounds the New England coastline, rendering roads impassable and interrupting what tenuous telephone service existed in 1896. There’s no way out, no way to call for help, and a killer is on the loose.

Are we having fun yet?


I’ll admit I channeled a bit of Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, but with my own special Newport twist. It was a fun book to write and I’m very excited to share this story with readers. So much so, I’m giving away a signed hardcover copy here today to a random commenter. So…are you or have you ever become obsessed with a destination? If so, have you visited there and did it live up to your expectations? Share in the comments section and be entered for the drawing! (Due to shipping charges, open to U.S. residents only). Alyssa will choose a winner on Sunday. Be sure to leave an email address so we can contact you. 


murder at rough pointIn glittering Newport, Rhode Island, status is everything. But despite being a poorer relation to the venerable Vanderbilts, Emma Cross has shaped her own identity—as a reporter and a sleuth.

As the nineteenth century draws to a close, Fancies and Fashion reporter Emma Cross is sent by the Newport Observer to cover an elite house party at Rough Point, a “cottage” owned by her distant cousin Frederick Vanderbilt that has been rented as an artist retreat. To her surprise, the illustrious guests include her estranged Bohemian parents—recently returned from Europe—as well as a variety of notable artists, including author Edith Wharton.

But when one of the artists is discovered dead at the bottom of a cliff, Rough Point becomes anything but a house of mirth. After a second murder, no one is above suspicion—including Emma’s parents. As Newport police detective Jesse Whyte searches for a killer, Emma tries to draw her own conclusions—with the help of Mrs. Wharton. But with so many sketchy suspects, she’ll need to canvas the crime scenes carefully, before the cunning culprit takes her out of the picture next . . .

Coming August 30th – i will be posting my review tomorrow!  

alyssa maxwellAlyssa Maxwell is the author of the Gilded Newport Mysteries and A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mysteries. She lives in South Florida in the current year, but confesses to spending most of her time in the Victorian and post WWI eras, as well as other periods of history. In addition to fantasizing about wearing Worth gowns and strolling the gardens of her manor house, she loves to watch BBC and other period productions and sip tea in the afternoons. And each year, she and her husband take a trip up to Newport to visit family, and so Alyssa can “shop” for the next mansion to be featured in her Newport series.



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74 thoughts on “Cozy Wednesday with Alyssa Maxwell – Author of Murder at Rough Point – Giveaway too! @KensingtonBooks

  1. Absolutely. I’ve been obsessed with destinations all my life. Growing up in Toronto it was Vancouver that I wanted to see. I hitchhiked there straight from high school and stayed for two years, then moved back again when I got married 12 years later. After that it was San Francisco but I didn’t get there till I was nearly 50. In college I fell in love with photos of Greece and since then I’ve been there probably a dozen times. All of them were wonderful and even better than I’d imagined as were Berlin, Thailand, and many more. I’ve still got a few that rattle around in my head. Iceland, anyone?

      1. Oh, I think that’s imperative. Bucket lists are for people who don’t realize how brief and fragile our lives are. Most bucket listers never get the list completed, they just say they’ll “do it someday”. I think people should fulfill their dreams as completely and as soon as they possibly can.

  2. Yes, I got to go to an old library in a really old house, with creaking floors and large rooms of books! Iyou have to imagine the high ceilings, woodwork and the unique smell of the books! I loved it! You just don’t see that anymore.

  3. This book looks great! I’ve read all the others in the series and love them! I love going to the beach. That’s my fave destination. I love the water, sun, sand, and relaxing!

  4. I’ve wanted to go to Hawaii ever since my parents went many years ago (probably in mid 1970’s). It was a long time coming but my husband and I finally went this past January (2016). We enjoyed it and we had fun but we didn’t think it was as exciting as our trip to Alaska, taken 2 yrs earlier.

    1. I’ve never been to Hawaii, but we did an Alaskan cruise a few years back. The scenery was spectacular, but I suppose seeing if from the comfort of a ship is a wimpy way to go. But I’m wimpy that way!

  5. As a French major in college, I’d dreamed of going to France. Since then I’ve taught French and have been to France several times. However, this summer and last I was able to share France with my husband on two exciting Viking River Cruises. We had a fabulous time! Since I love to read mysteries, I’m looking forward to reading Murder at Rough Point.

  6. I have a thing about going places with lighthouses and I have not been disappointed yet. centraleast2 at gmail dot com

  7. I am a huge fan of Alyssa Maxwell and am currently reading an ARC of “Murder at Rough Point.” Alyssa’s descriptions always make me see places clearly in my mind and the buildup to the conclusion in her novels always keeps me reading long past my bedtime.

  8. I love this location & time period. I would love to visit this area & these homes. I have been able to see many historic homes in the southern seacoast area & New Orleans. That was always & still is my dream. I can’t wait to read this series & am looking forward to it soon.

  9. When I was a child my parents had a fixation with Flagstaff, Arizona and we went there every year for approximately 4 years. It was fun since I was around 4 – 8 years of age and we were able to visit the old abandoned mines in the area. Then they moved on to Florida, New Smyrna Beach area. We had family that lived there and it was fun to walk the beach and swim in the ocean. Since I’ve become an adult and married my husband and I honeymooned in Niagara Falls, U.S. and Canadian side and this has been my place of choice.

    1. Hi, Robo–I live about 15 minutes from the Falls/border. I’ll give you a local tour anytime!! I’ve seen the Falls probably a 100 times and never get tired of seeing it again..

    2. We have relatives in the Buffalo area and we went to Niagara Falls for the first time only a few years ago. It is amazing. The countryside is also very beautiful as you drive farther into Canada.

  10. When I was a kid growing up my family always went camping in the mountains or deserts I loved it, now that I’m married my husband never went camping so it’s hard to get him to go any where. I miss camping. This sounds very good, thanks for the review.
    Penney penneyw(at)

    1. Unfortunately, some people camping people, and some just aren’t. I was until we moved to Florida. It’s not the same here. Too hot, buggy, sticky, etc.

  11. I’m obsessed with going to Australia but I know that will never happen. Don’t know anyone who can take 3 or 4 weeks to travel there and see everything I want to see. I’ve visited a lot of places I’d thought about but never believed I would see (a safari in Africa, Ireland, Alaska – those were the top destinations). I love period books and this one sounds great.
    thanks for the chance to win a copy.

  12. The only place I ever felt like that about was England and I was lucky enough to take a trip there when I was in high school. It lived up to my expectations and I would love to go back someday. Truthfully I would love to move there but I don’t think my family would like that.

  13. I am a huge Jimmy Buffett fan and when I heard the line in a song about Travis Mc Gee still in Cedar Key, that’s what John MacDonald said.. well, I just had to visit Cedar Key, Florida! I was lucky to have some $ at the time (another Jimmy Buffett and made a 5 week road trip out of it.. What a wonderful time.. Speaking of wonderful, I’ve read every book in this series and loved them.,. Thanks for the opportunity to win!

    1. I’m a little embarrassed to admit I’ve never been to Cedar Key, and I live in Florida. So one of these days….. I’m so glad you’ve liked the series!

  14. I have been obsessed with Half Moon Bay . Ca since I went to school there and still love it it’s the beach and the restaurants and the views so wonderful. Even though I moved to Iowa when I married an Iowan I still go there when i am in Ca and I cry when I get close as it is where my heart is miss it!

  15. I haven’t been obsessed with any one location for traveling. I do like being surprised when I get there, though and find something that lives way up to expectations! Thanks so much!

  16. Having never been to Newport, I am a bit obsessed with another Vanderbilt residence — the Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina, a truly amazing place where no expense was spared — the landscaping was done by John Fredeerick Olmsted, and they even built their own railroad to bring in building supplies! Weren’t both Rough Point and the Breakers Vanderbilt cottages (just different Vanderbilts)? I would love to read this series, this point in history is so intriguing and interesting~

    1. Yes, Rough Point was the “cottage” owned by Frederick Vanderbilt, and his older brother, Cornelius, owned The Breakers. I MUST get up to NC to see the Biltmore one of these days soon.

  17. Yes, I’m obsessed with Monticelllo – Thomas Jefferson’s home and I’ve only gotten to visit it once (can’t get the relatives to go back with me so I’ll have to make a solo journey) – I love looking at old homes – especially those with significant historical or literary history – such as The House of Seven Gables – sigh…Thanks for the great giveaway!

  18. I forgot to answer the question, I was thinking about the book. lol
    No, I have never been obsessed with a destination.


  19. I’ve become obsessed with Alaska. I love cold weather, winter is my favorite season and I think Alaska is a beautiful state. My husband and I have discussed moving there and opening a bed and breakfast. I was offered a job recently there however I am unable to make this lifelong dream come true at the moment due to my mother’s declining health. I hope to eventually visit and move to Alaska. My dad always wanted to go and said if he ever made it, he would never come back (he never made it before passing away) so I hope to live out some of his dream as well.
    Thanks for the chance to win! (

  20. I’m absolutely obsessed with Charleston SC. I love the Antebellum South and all the history there and they have done such a great job of historic preservation. I love visiting homes and I think it’s time to visit some of the homes on the East Coast. I would love to visit Newport RI. Thanks for the chance to learn about Newport by reading your books.

  21. Ever since I met Mossy Kilcher, the ex- wife of Art Davidson, author of Minus 148 Degrees about the first winter ascent of Denali, I’ve been fascinated by extreme mountain climbing. My dream trip came true to go to Alaska and fly in a small plane around Denali on a crystal clear day and stay at Mossy’s farm outside of Homer for several days. Now I am obsessed about reading everything I can find on Denali and climbing there and on the Himalyian peaks too.

  22. First of all, let me say that I’m very intrigued that you’ve channeled Dame Agatha’s And Then There Were None while writing this new book. Absolutely one of my favorite books of all time!

    I am obsessed with a destination, and I haven’t even been there yet! My dream vacation (which I WILL take, once my kids graduate from college!!!) involves a trip to England, Scotland and France. Traveling on the Queen Mary 2 to England, spending a week there, taking the train to France, spending a week in Paris, returning by train to England, and taking the Royal Scotsman train up to Scotland, followed by a return crossing back home on the QM2. Sigh…someday… 🙂

    This summer we spend a week in Fort Myers, and I became obsessed with it after booking our trip in the middle of a blizzard last winter – lol! We stayed on Estero Island, it was gorgeous, and absolutely lived up to my expectations! 🙂

    1. You have quite a trip planned out. I’d love to follow along. 🙂 I’m very familiar with the Ft. Myers area – it’s beautiful. We used to stay there quite a bit, and also on Sannibel, when our daughters were young. Florida’s Gulf Coast has the best beaches.

      1. This was our very first time to the Gulf Coast, and it won’t be the last! I was amazed at how warm the water was! 🙂

  23. Yes I was always obsessed with Hawaii and I finally got there and it was everything I imagined.

    1. I completely forgot to answer the question. I’ve always wanted to visit England & Scotland but sadly never have. Due to health issues, it would be hard for me to now but I can see some of it on documentaries & live vicariously through my cozy mysteries.

  24. I am obsessed with Italy. The beauty, culture, history and culinary delights are incomparable.

  25. I’m obsessed with going to England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales someday, a months long holiday. I went to London when I was 14 years old and loved it.

  26. My grandfather was born in Denmark. I was absessed with going there with my mom before she got too old to travel. The whole family went a few years ago and it was surreal!!

  27. Since I was 9 years old I have been fascinated with ancient Egypt. I read and watch shows, fiction and nonfiction all about the ancient culture, religion, and the excavation of the tombs. King Tut fascinated me the most. I finally was able to visit Cairo and destinations beyond seeing tombs and treasures, sailing the Nile, and enjoying the history I had only read about. I even rode a camel up to the Giza plateau, watched the sunrise onto the face of the Sphinx, and learned to belly dance. Many items were checked off my bucket list on that trip.

  28. I guess with bucket lists approaching, I seem to be making BLs of destinations to be obsessed with. Alaska was great. The Caribbean was magical. Not sure which one we’ll do next but Egypt would be high on my list.

  29. Yes Santa Barbara CA has culture, beauty,great food, museums, bookstores and my favorite CA history. I wander often through the museum’s, architecture and cafe , bookstores to my hearts content. It’s the ultimate vacation for me.

  30. I am currently obsessed with Provence, France. I have not been there yet but planning to go there for my 40th that is coming up in a couple of years.

  31. I love visiting historical mansions. Two of my favorites are Hearst Castle in California and the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. They are both spectacular.

  32. There are so many intriguing places mentioned here. What a fascinting world we live in. Thank you to everyone who has stopped by to comment this week. You have until tomorrow to leave comments, and I’ll choose a winner on Sunday. I’ll also be stopping back to read comments – I’ve read every one so far, but I’m handing in a book later today, so I won’t be able to comment directly to each one. Thank you again, and Thank you, Lori, for hosting me!

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