Feb 022019
 


I am pleased to shine the spotlight on the latest A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mystery today!


A Murderous Marriage (A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mystery)
by Alyssa Maxwell

 

About the Book


A Murderous Marriage (A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Kensington (January 29, 2019)
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1496717392
ISBN-13: 978-1496717399
Kindle ASIN: B07CWDMR33

Lady Phoebe Renshaw and her lady’s maid, Eva Huntford, are preparing for a wedding, but it may not be the happy occasion everyone hopes for . . .

Since the Great War, some family fortunes have suffered, including those of the Renshaws. Despite being the granddaughter of an earl, Julia Renshaw is under pressure to marry for money—and has settled for Gilbert Townsend, a viscount and a wealthy industrialist. He is decades older than Julia, and it’s clear to her sister Phoebe—and to Eva, who has been like a surrogate mother to the girls—that this is not a love match. Nevertheless, the wedding takes place—and in a hurry.

At the reception aboard the groom’s yacht, there appears to be tension between Gil and several guests: his best man, a fellow veteran of the Boer War; his grouchy spinster sister; and his current heir, a nervous young cousin named Ernest. The bride is also less than pleased when she discovers that her honeymoon will be more crowded than expected—with Gil’s pretty secretary, among others, coming along.

That very night, Julia pounds on her sister’s door, brandishing a bandaged hand and reporting a hot-tempered outburst on her new husband’s part. Julia is feeling doubt and regret about her hasty decision, but returns to the boat. Then the next morning, before the yacht can depart the harbor, Gil’s body is found in the water below—and Phoebe and Eva must discover who pushed him over . . . before the Renshaws’ social standing is irreparably stained by Julia’s arrest for his murder . . .

Praise for A Murderous Marriage (A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mystery)
by Alyssa Maxwell

The atmospheric Isle of Wright setting, lords and ladies galore, impoverished estates, arranged marriages … these elements and more combine in a murder mystery by Alyssa Maxwell that I thoroughly enjoyed.
~The Power of Words

A MURDEROUS MARRIAGE is an engaging historical mystery that illustrates the importance of family and duty by both the upper and working classes in 1920 England.
~Cozy Up With Kathy

I am always inspired to read more historical mysteries after reading a Maxwell mystery. She has the talent to create lively characters, charming settings, and the mystery that takes the wedding cake.
~Bibliophile Reviews

I was pleasantly surprised to be immersed in the post World War I era. From the customs and clothing to the attitudes and actions, the story felt authentic and true.
~Mysteries With Character

About the Author

Alyssa Maxwell knew from an early age that she wanted to be a novelist. Growing up in New England and traveling to Great Britain fueled a passion for history, while a love of puzzles of all kinds drew her to the mystery genre. She and her husband reside in Florida, where she loves to watch BBC productions, sip tea in the afternoons, and delve into the past. You can learn more about Alyssa and her books at www.alyssamaxwell.com.

Author Links

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Aug 162018
 

Murder at Ochre Court (A Gilded Newport Mystery)
Historical Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Setting – Rhode Island
Kensington (July 31, 2018)
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1496703367
ISBN-13: 978-1496703361
Kindle ASIN: B0776DJ8S9

In the summer of 1898, reporter Emma Cross investigates a shocking death among the bright lights of Newport’s high society . . .

After a disappointing year as a society columnist for the Herald and staying with her more well-heeled Vanderbilt relatives in New York City, Emma has returned to the salty air, glittering ocean vistas, and grand stately mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, more determined than ever to report on hard news.

But for now she’s covering the social event of the season at Ochre Court, a coming-out ball designed to showcase Cleo Cooper-Smith, who will be literally on display, fittingly as Cleopatra, in an elaborate tableau vivant. Recently installed modern electricity will allow Miss Cooper-Smith to truly shine. But as the deb ascends to her place of honor, the ballroom is plunged into darkness. When the lights come back on, Cleo sits still on her throne, electrocuted to death.

Quickly establishing that the wiring was tampered with, Emma now has a murder to investigate. And the array of eligible suspects could fill another ballroom—from a shady New York real estate developer to a neglected sister and the mother of a spurned suitor. As Emma begins to discover this crime has unseen connections to a nefarious network, she puts her own life at risk to shine a light on the dark motives behind a merciless murder.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Emma clearly has not been happy in New York. Her work for the Herald as a society columnist has been pretty mundane. She really wants to be a hard news journalist, something very few women have been given the chance to do. She has a huge decision to make. Will she return to New York after covering the coming-out ball of Cleo Cooper-Smith or will she stay in Newport and try to find a way to follow her dream?

Ochre Court is where the party for Miss Cooper-Smith is taking place. The Goelet’s have just installed modern electricity and the decorations and planned tableau vivant should be spectacular and the talk of the season. But as the debutante dressed as Cleopatra takes her place on the throne, the room shockingly goes dark. As soon as lighting is restored a horrible sight awaits the crowd. Miss Cooper-Smith is dead, she has been electrocuted and the wiring has been tampered with.  The young lady was murdered and there is a room full of suspects.

With Emma on the scene, she plans to report on the death for the Herald and investigate the murder too. The problem is as she uncovers the truth she is putting herself in the killer’s sights. She may miss her final deadline if she isn’t careful.

Alyssa Maxwell is an extraordinary storyteller. She is able to blend real historical times, places and events into a fictional story that will have readers believing they are reading a true account. She is careful to separate fact from fiction at the end of the story. It is so easy to see that she has researched the era and the area extensively. It is also very easy for the reader to escape right into the pages and away to Newport circa 1898.

Emma Cross is a protagonist that is smart, engaging and very independent for a woman at this point in history. Because of her shirttail relationship to the Vanderbilt family, she is able to call on and question almost all members of the elite 400 Club. She doesn’t hold back either. They are not always happy to see her, but they usually come around to answering her questions.  Also in this story, Emma meets Nellie Bly, a famous female journalist who has inspired Emma to follow her passion of becoming a hard news reporter.

We meet many new characters in this installment and each is very defined but they all seem to have some kind of secret that causes Emma to really dig to find the truth. The truth leads her to some shady dealings in New York, and that takes the story in direction Emma has been pondering a while. Twists, yes. Turns, yet. Surprising reveal, yes, yes, yes.

The cover of the book gives us a nice picture of Ochre Court, but after reading each book in this series and the author’s notes at the end I always find myself searching for more information about the place and the family that actually lived there. I really enjoyed this post on The Gilded Age Era, complete with pictures and floor plans. Seeing those confirmed that what I had imagined from the author’s wonderful descriptions were spot on.

Thanks to Ms. Maxwell readers are treated to a rich story set in the Gilded Age with a complex mystery that keeps us guessing right up until the end. Then she gives us just a little snippet that leaves us craving for the next book in this series.

Every book in this series is wonderful and I do recommend reading them all in order. I am amazed at all Emma Cross has been through in these six stories.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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About the Author

Alyssa 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.

Author Links

Twitter  Facebook Webpage GoodReads – 


Also by Alyssa Maxwell

GIVEAWAY

Thanks to the publisher I have 1 copy to give away!
The contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Subscribe to Allyssa Maxwell’s newsletter for 5 Bonus Entries.

Add this book to your WANT TO READ shelf on GoodReads for 3 Bonus Entries.

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End August 30, 2018, at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Jul 062018
 

On FlashbackFridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.
Murder at Chateau sur Mer is now available in Paperback!

Murder at Chateau sur Mer (A Gilded Newport Mystery)
Historical Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Setting – Rhode Island
Kensington (July 25, 2017)
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1496703324
ISBN-13: 978-1496703323
Paperback: 304 pages (June 26, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1496703308
ISBN-13: 978-1496703309
Kindle ASIN: B01M7W948P

A Gilded Newport Mystery – Late nineteenth-century Newport, Rhode Island, is home to some of America’s wealthiest citizens. For society reporter Emma Cross, a less well-heeled cousin to the illustrious Vanderbilts, trailing gossip and glamour will lead her straight into murder . . .

Covering a polo match for the Observer, Emma’s job is to take note of the real players off the field—Newport’s well-bred elite. But the fashionable façade is breached when a woman in gaudy clothing creates a scene demanding to speak to the wife of Senator George Wetmore—until she is escorted off the grounds by the police.

The next morning, police detective Jesse Whyte asks Emma to meet him at the Wetmores’ Bellevue Avenue home, Chateau sur Mer, where the senator’s wife, Edith, has mysteriously asked to see her. Upon entering the mansion, Emma is confronted with a crime scene—the intruder from the polo match lies dead at the foot of a grand staircase.

To avoid scandal, Edith Wetmore implores Emma to use her reporter skills and her discretion to investigate. When Emma learns the victim was a prostitute—and pregnant—she wonders if the senator was being blackmailed. As Emma peels back layers of deception and family secrets, she may have met her match in a desperate killer who will trample anyone who gets in the way . . .

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Step back in time with Emma Cross in Newport, Rhode Island as a day reporting on a polo match leads to murder. A woman tried to make her way into the stands where the elite are watching the match to speak to Edith Wetmore, the wife of Senator George Wetmore. Security was escorted her off the grounds but it is not the last the Westmores will see of her. No, the good senator’s wife finds the woman dead in their home at the bottom of their grand stairway. Police detective Jess Whyte has summoned Emma to Chateau sur Mer. He knows Emma’s help on previous cases has been fruitful, but this time Edith Wetmore has requested her presence. She wants Emma to use her skills to investigate while at the same time keep any rising scandal out of the press. Trying to find a connection between the Wetmores and the dead woman Emma uncovers a web of secrets and lies that puts her own life in peril and others too. It could also cost her her job meaning she could lose her home.

Alyssa Maxwell knows Newport history and she uses that knowledge to create fictional stories that have enough real facts that readers may think the story is real and events may have actually happened. She does include some facts at the end of the story to keep the record straight.

Strong characters and a captivating mystery make it very easy to escape right into this story. Emma Cross is part of the not very well to do side of the Vanderbilt family. She has inherited her home with enough money to pay for basic upkeep but needs to work for necessities like food and clothing. She is the fashion and food reporter for the Observer newspaper but always keeps her ears open for information to get her byline on or close to the front page. She is a strong woman, unafraid to travel unaccompanied to the seedier areas of town, no matter how many times she is told how dangerous it is. Thankfully sometimes she listens. Other times she is just plain lucky.

Emma’s investigation this time to her down to the docks more than once, to a brothel more than once, and even to the scene of a fire. Ms. Maxwell puts our heroine in some precarious situations. I enjoy following Emma everywhere she goes. The author fully describes each place so perfectly, putting us readers right there on the scene.

The mystery is very complex. Suspects are unclear until Emma realizes an event from the past is affecting people’s lives in the present. Even then the suspects remain fluid until the final reveal. Usually when I read a mystery like this one my brain is always trying to be one step ahead of the story’s amateur sleuth. This time I was immersed into the culture and all the happenings that I just kept pace with her. I so enjoyed our tandem journey.

Like the other mansions in this series, Chateau Sur Mer is now owned by the Preservation Society of Newport County and is open to the public as a museum.

I have loved each book in this series. I do recommend they be read in order to understand the settings and the character development. I am so happy to catch on the series with this story because the next book in the series, Murder at Ochre Court is being released July 31, 2018. 

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Alyssa outside (2)

About the Author

Alyssa 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.

Author Links

Twitter  Facebook Webpage GoodReads – 


Also by Alyssa Maxwell

GIVEAWAY

Thanks to the publisher I have 1 paperback copy to give away!
The contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Subscribe to Allyssa Maxwell’s newsletter for 5 Bonus Entries.

Add this book to your WANT TO READ shelf on GoodReads for 3 Bonus Entries.

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End July 20, 2018, at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Jan 242017
 

A Pinch of Poison (A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – England
Kensington (December 27, 2016)
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1617738340
Kindle ASIN: B01DRXDG0M

 

 

 A Pinch of Poison by Alyssa Maxwell – In post–World War I England, Lady Phoebe Renshaw and her lady’s maid, Eva Huntford, encounter an uncharitable killer at a charity luncheon sponsored by a posh school for girls . . .  

Good deeds build good character, and good character is what the Haverleigh School for Young Ladies is all about. Lady Phoebe—with the tireless assistance of Eva—has organized a luncheon at the school to benefit wounded veterans of the Great War, encouraging the students to participate in the cooking and the baking. But too many cooks do more than spoil the broth—they add up to a recipe for disaster when the school’s headmistress, Miss Finch, is poisoned.

The girls at Haverleigh all come from highly respected families, none of whom will countenance their darling daughters being harassed like common criminals by the local police. So Lady Phoebe steps in to handle the wealthy young debutantes with tact and discretion, while Eva cozies up to the staff. Did one of the girls resent the headmistress enough to do her in? Did a teacher bear a grudge? What about the school nurse, clearly shell shocked from her service in the war? No one is above suspicion, not even members of the school’s governing body, some of whom objected to Miss Finch’s “modern” methods.

But Lady Phoebe and Eva will have to sleuth with great stealth—or the cornered killer may try to teach someone else a lethal lesson.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Lady Phoebe and her maid Eva are caught up in the middle of another murder investigation. This time the headmistress of the local Haverleigh School for Young Ladies dies at a luncheon Lady Phoebe organized. Everyone is pretty tight lipped with the authorities so Phoebe and Eva step in to talk to the girls and the staff in hopes of pinching the poisoner as quickly as possible.

Alyssa Maxwell has penned a mystery with many suspects, the staff, the board, and even the students. Seems the headmistress had a few secrets and has ruffled a few feathers. Again our amateur sleuths are pushing the boundaries for women in this time period but Constable Brannock is happy to have their assistance.

Lady Phoebe is a strong main character and Eva is a great sidekick. They have built a trust over the years that suits them very well for these investigations. We meet several new characters from the Haverleigh School for Young Ladies. Funny, girls then were the same as girls now, sans the cell phones and social media. Friends, cliques, bullies, every school has them even back in 19oo’s.

The story is full of detailed clues and descriptions of time and place. The characters are very fleshed out and unique. The pace has a really nice flow. I would call the plot complex, it had me changing my mind on the killer right until end.

The author takes great care to bring in necessary details from the previous book, Murder Most Malicious, but does not reveal any spoilers. So this book reads well on its own while allowing readers to go back to read the first one.

This is a strong addition to this series.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About The Author

 Alyssa Maxwell has worked in publishing as an assistant editor and a ghost writer, but knew from an early age that being a novelist was what she wanted most. Growing up in New England and traveling to Great Britain fueled a passion for history, while a love of puzzles of all kinds drew her to the mystery genre. She lives in South Florida in the current year, but confesses to spending most of her time in the Victorian, Edwardian, and post WWI eras. In addition to fantasizing about wearing Worth gowns while strolling manor house gardens, she loves to watch BBC and other period productions and sip tea in the afternoons.

Author Links:

Webpage      Twitter

GoodReads     Facebook


Just Click on Cover to Order from Amazon.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Aug 242016
 

cozy wednesday 2013 640

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

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

murder at rough point 1

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: http://www.newportrestoration.org/about/doris_duke

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?

GIVEAWAY

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.

 

 

Author Links:

Webpage      Twitter

GoodReads     Facebook

Also by Alyssa Maxwell

Just Click on Cover to Order from Amazon.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Jan 072016
 

New Year – New Series!!! MURDER MOST MALICIOUS large banner640

Murder Most Malicious
by Alyssa Maxwell

 

MURDER MOST MALIOUS
Murder Most Malicious
(A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mystery Book 1)

New Series
Cozy Mystery
Setting – England

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Kensington (December 29, 2015)
ISBN-13: 978-1617738302
E-Book ASIN: B00VQFKHPQ
goodreads-badge-add-plusShop Indie Bookstores

In post–World War I England, Lady Phoebe Renshaw and her lady’s maid, Eva Huntford, step outside of their social roles and put their lives at risk to apprehend a vicious killer…
 
December 1918: As a difficult year draws to a close, there is much to celebrate for nineteen-year-old Phoebe Renshaw and her three siblings at their beloved family estate of Foxwood Hall. The dreadful war is finally over; eldest daughter Julia’s engagement to their houseguest, the Marquis of Allerton, appears imminent; and all have gathered to enjoy peace on earth, good will toward men.

But the peace of Foxwood Hall is shattered on the morning of Boxing Day, when the Marquis goes missing. Not entirely missing, however, as macabre evidence of foul play turns up in gift boxes given to lady’s maid Eva Huntford and a handful of others. Having overheard her sister and the Marquis in a heated exchange the night before, Lady Phoebe takes a personal interest in solving the mystery.

As the local constable suspects a footman at Foxwood Hall, Phoebe and Eva follow the clues to a different conclusion. But both young women will need to think outside the box to wrap up this case—before a cornered killer lashes out with ill will toward them…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Alyssa Maxwell has brought us a new team of sleuths, Lady Phoebe Renshaw and her maid, Eva Huntford. Christmas at Foxwood Hall has brought several guests to the hall including the Marquis of Allerton and his family. He has asked Lady Phoebe’s sister, Julia to be his wife. Phoebe happens to hear the argument that ensues when he gets a very unexpected answer. The next morning the Marquis is missing and foul play is suspected. Phoebe enlists Eva’s help when she notices the police go after an easy suspect, not necessarily the right suspect.

In this story we are given fantastic characters to love and fantastic characters to hate.

Inspector Perkins is an incompetent twit.  A man with a small mind who drove me crazy. Thank goodness for Constable Brannock. He was not so sure of the inspector’s findings and was open to listen to other theories. Henry Leighton, Marquess of Allenton, was a really gem, I say that very sarcastically. He has quite a checkered past that visited his present and could be the reason he ended up dead.

I really enjoyed the other characters, both those upstairs and down. Lady Phoebe is strong willed and a great protagonist. Her lady’s maid Eva, treads lightly when necessary but she has the trust of Phoebe and the rest of the family. Phoebe, her sisters, Julia and Amelia and their brother Fox, have been raised by their grandparents, the Earl and Countess of Wroxly. Grams and Grampapa are devoted to these children/young adults and want the very best for them. There are quite a bit of staff, shopkeepers, Eva’s family and the Allenton family as well. A big number of characters to keep straight but the author makes it easy because they all bring important qualities to the story as a whole.

The story itself is created with immense precision and flowed so perfectly. I was surprised at how quickly I reached the end. It has the expected twists and turns but that final one just caught me by total surprise.

The grounds of Foxwood Hall sounded so beautiful all covered in snow. I bet the place is gorgeous in the spring, summer and fall too. The hall seemed to be a complex place with so many rooms and hallways. Plenty of places to hide for a bit a eavesdropping. I would enjoy actually visiting a place like that.

 I have loved this author’s Gilded Newport Mysteries. She takes us back in time so effortlessly. I know it takes so much time for her to research each story, and it clearly shows in her writing. I am so pleased she has traveled across the pond to bring us a new captivating series.

perfect 2016

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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About The Author

 Alyssa Maxwell has worked in publishing as an assistant editor and a ghost writer, but knew from an early age that being a novelist was what she wanted most. Growing up in New England and traveling to Great Britain fueled a passion for history, while a love of puzzles of all kinds drew her to the mystery genre. She lives in South Florida in the current year, but confesses to spending most of her time in the Victorian, Edwardian, and post WWI eras. In addition to fantasizing about wearing Worth gowns while strolling manor house gardens, she loves to watch BBC and other period productions and sip tea in the afternoons.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Jul 032015
 

murder at beechwood
Murder at Beechwood
(A Gilded Newport Mystery)

3rd in Series
Historical Cozy Mystery
Setting – Rhode Island
Publisher: Kensington Books (May 26, 2015)
Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0758290861
E-Book ASIN: B00ONTR52K
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For Newport, Rhode Island’s high society, the summer of 1896 brings lawn parties, sailboat races…and murder.

Having turned down the proposal of Derrick Andrews, Emma Cross has no imminent plans for matrimony—let alone motherhood. But when she discovers an infant left on her doorstep, she naturally takes the child into her care. Using her influence as a cousin to the Vanderbilts and a society page reporter for the Newport Observer , Emma launches a discreet search for the baby’s mother.

One of her first stops is a lawn party at Mrs. Caroline Astor’s Beechwood estate. But an idyllic summer’s day is soon clouded by tragedy. During a sailboat race, textile magnate Virgil Monroe falls overboard. There are prompt accusations of foul play—and even Derrick Andrews falls under suspicion. Deepening the intrigue, a telltale slip of lace may link the abandoned child to the drowned man. But as Emma navigates dark undercurrents of scandalous indiscretions and violent passions, she’ll need to watch her step to ensure that no one lowers the boom on her…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I absolutely love this series! Emma Cross is a smart protagonist and I love following her through 1896 Rhode Island. She is a brave woman who sticks up for those in need. This time it is a baby left on her doorstep and she will not rest until she finds his mother, even when it puts her own life in danger.

Gull Manor has become a refuge over the years for prostitutes and abused women wanting a fresh start and Emma has vowed to keep up the tradition even though many do not approve. She never expected a newborn would find its way to her door, a newborn that steals the heart of everyone at Gull Manor. Nor did she realize the sweet child would be connected to such tragedy.

Alyssa Maxwell bases her story on actual families, like the Vanderbilts and the Astors and crafts a tale that will will enthrall you from the first page until the last. She takes us into the world of the elite 400. Their lives, their parties, their indiscretions and their drama. The characters are so well written, the plot is enticing and the setting is described wonderfully. The story is perfectly paced with generous detail.

Each new story in this series becomes my favorite as the author keeps topping herself.

a perfect escape

5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

To find out more about Alyssa Maxwell and her books visit here webpage here.

GIVEAWAYI am giving away by Advance Review Copy!

Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End July 17 , 2015 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar

CLICK HERE FOR ENTRY FORM

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sep 302014
 

murder at marble houseMurder at Marble House
(A Gilded Newport Mystery)

2nd in Series
Historical Cozy Mystery
Kensington Books
Kensington Publishing Corp. (September 30, 2014)
Trade Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0758290847
E-Book File Size: 1290 KB
ASIN: B00J7W1E52
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With the dawn of the twentieth century on the horizon, the fortunes of the venerable Vanderbilt family still shine brightly in the glittering high society of Newport, Rhode Island. But when a potential scandal strikes, the Vanderbilts turn to cousin and society page reporter Emma Cross to solve a murder and a disappearance. ..

Responding to a frantic call on her newfangled telephone from her eighteen-year-old cousin, Consuelo Vanderbilt, Emma Cross arrives at the Marble House mansion and learns the cause of her distress–Consuelo’s mother, Alva, is forcing her into marriage with the Duke of Marlborough. Her mother has even called in a fortune teller to assure Consuelo of a happy future.

But the future is short-lived for the fortune teller, who is found dead by her crystal ball, strangled with a silk scarf. Standing above her is one of the Vanderbilts’ maids, who is promptly taken into police custody. After the frenzy has died down, Consuelo is nowhere to be found. At Alva’s request, Emma must employ her sleuthing skills to determine if the vanishing Vanderbilt has eloped with the beau of her choice–or if her disappearance may be directly connected to the murder. . .

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This second story in the Gilded Newport Mystery series picks up just a short time after Murder at the Breakers leaves off. This time it takes place at the other Vanderbilt Castle, Marble House.  Emma’s “cousin” Consuelo is being forced into an arranged marriage and even a fortune teller has been summoned to explain to the young woman that this marriage is meant to be. Emma isn’t convinced but before the crystal ball can even be consulted the fortune teller is dead and a young maid has been arrested. Soon after the bride to be goes missing. Emma soon finds herself searching for Consuelo and a murderer too.

I could almost cut and paste my review of the previous book here because again Alyssa Maxwell has given us a fantastic mystery with fabulous characters in a fascinating time and place. Again this story is based on many actual facts. Marble House is a real place. Consuelo Vanderbilt was not happy with the marriage that was arranged for her. And her mother was known for her temper and keeping Consuelo’s friends from seeing her.  Maxwell took these facts and a few more and created a wonderful story with suspense, mystery and intrigue.

Emma is a very strong woman in a time where women basically tended to social matters and attended teas. But is was the time when the temperance and women’s suffrage movements were  just starting and that plays into part of the story. Emma is trying to earn a living as a newspaper reporter but again that is considered a man’s job.  She also tries to carry the torch passed to her by her Aunt Sadie, who bequeathed her Gull Manor. Her aunt always had policy of helping women in need no matter what the circumstances.  All of this drives her need to not only help her cousin but the young maid that was arrested.

I absolutely loved this story. The author’s words let me escape back in time and enjoy the story through Emma’s eyes. I could feel Emma’s emotions as she tries so hard to find her cousin and catch a killer all while dealing with her own problems she is facing. She tries to make the right decisions but sometimes her heart and her head are at odds with each other. Her life is not what she thought it would be and she has been let down yet again by people who should be there to support be she perseveres through it all.

Now we wait until next Spring for Murder at Beechwood.

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

To find out more about Alyssa Maxwell and her books visit here webpage here.

I am giving away by Advance Review Copy!

Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End October 14, 2014 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar

Click Here For Entry Form

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Mar 262014
 

cozy wednesday 2013 640Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I am delighted to welcome Alyssa Maxwell here today.

Alyssa outside (2)

Escape with Alyssa Maxwell to the world of The Gilded Newport Mysteries…

 

cover frontIn the Gilded Age New York’s wealthiest escaped the heat, grime, and yes, pestilence of the city’s summer months by loading up their steamships with those priceless objects they simply couldn’t live without and making a mass pilgrimage to bright, breezy, seaside Newport, RI. They brought carriages and servants and countless trunks and even their safes, packed with jewels and important documents. They bought the best land, built palaces, and claimed as their own the finest Newport had to offer. They turned a sleepy, artsy village into the posh summer resort. The men sailed their yachts and rode horses and played golf and tennis. The women held teas and parties and balls, married their daughters to rich, powerful men, and wore a different gown from House of Worth, Paris, for each daily activity – mornings at home, social calls, promenading, carriage riding, tea, supper….

I’ll bet you’re thinking, “Wow, that’s a lot of research to do. Must be hard.” To which I say, “No way, I love it!” Digging around in the past is my way of stepping into a time machine and escaping from whatever has me gritting my teeth in the present. And sometimes that’s a lot! Or maybe it’s a past life thing. Whatever it is, I’ve always been this way and some days I’d much rather be there than here.

The truth is, I sometimes spend way more time researching than I need to. But how to stop oneself from poring through the Metropolitan Museum’s collection of Worth Gowns? For instance, there are these two:

DRESS 2DRESS 1

Do these not make your heart beat faster? Can’t you imagine the feel of that lustrous, embroidered silk against your skin? I literally gasped out loud when I first saw them. I covet! And you can bet I used them in describing dresses worn by my sleuth, Emma Cross, and her friend, Grace, to a ball in Murder at Beechwood, the third book in my series, which is still a work in progress. Rest assured there are plenty more drool-worthy masterpieces where these came from in the Museum’s database, and one can easily while away a good hour or two without even realizing it. Ooh, here’s another, in glorious gold:

DRESS 3

 

Obviously I can’t help myself. But don’t even get me going on the shoes, handbags and jewelry women wore during the Gilded Age! Seriously, don’t!

SHOESSHOECROWN

Are these not exquisite?

HANDBAGNECKLACE

Unfortunately, I also discovered the website of the American Carriage Association. I say unfortunately because here again, I can become lost studying styles and details. Here’s one I imagine my sleuth driving, though hers wouldn’t be quite so shiny and new:
CARRIAGE

Her wealthy Vanderbilt relatives would probably drive something more like this:
CARRIAGE2
Oops, did I say drive? I meant chauffeured around town in. Emma’s aunt Alice is forever telling her it isn’t seemly for her to be driving her own rig. Does Emma listen? Of course not! Sometimes a girl’s just got to get where she’s going, and she doesn’t have time to wait around for someone else to drive her. Like when she gathering clues to solve a murder.

I believe I mentioned yachts? For that there’s the New York Yacht Club website. The NYYC set up a satellite headquarters in Newport in 1894, paving the way for future Americas Cup Races to be held there. Wouldn’t it be awesome to be sitting in the shade at, say, The Breakers or Marble House, watching those majestic vessels cutting through the waves?
SHIPYACHT RACES

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or maybe we could sail to Europe on Willie K. Vanderbilt’s private steamship, The Valiant:
SHIP 2

Bet we could fit lots of trunks filled with gowns, shoes and jewelry on that ship! Not to mention a complete staff to see to our every need and desire.

Sailing to Europe might have been the thing to do in fall and spring, but when summer came around Newport was definitely the place to be. Who needs Europe anyway when your house looks like this:

THE BREAKERS

(The Breakers, styled after the Italian Palazzos of the Renaissance)

Or this?

(Marble House, inspired by The Petit Trianon at the Palace of Versailles)

(Marble House, inspired by The Petit Trianon at the Palace of Versailles)

Or when your view is this:
VIEW

This is the world I love to spend my time in. It’s my own comfy gilded cage, my haven and my escape.

Thanks for escaping with me today! If you’d like to spend more time in Newport’s Gilded Age, no problem! Stop by my website where there’s lots to see, including an excerpt from book one in the series, Murder at the Breakers. Here’s where to find me online: http://alyssamaxwell.

You can also explore:

Metropolitan Museum – House of Worth: http://www.metmuseum.org/search-results?ft=house+of+worth&x=0&y=0

The American Carriage Association: http://www.caaonline.com/

New York Yacht Club: http://www.nyyc.org/

The Preservation Society of Newport: http://www.newportmansions.org/

(All pictures provided by Alyssa Maxwell.)

About Alyssa Maxwell
I began a love affair with the city of Newport while visiting friends there back in my high school days. Time and again the harbor‑side, gas‑lit neighborhoods drew me back, and on one of those later visits I met the man who would become my husband. Always a lover of history, I found that marrying into a large, generations‑old Newport family opened up an exciting world of historical discovery. From the graveyards whose earliest markers read from the seventeenth century, to original colonial houses still lived in today, to the Newport Artillery Company whose curator for many years was my husband’s grandfather, Newport became a place of fascination and romantic charm. Today, my hubby and I reside beneath the palms and bright skies of Florida, but part of my heart remains firmly in that small New England city of great historical significance. The first in the Gilded Newport Mysteries, Murder at the Breakers, AVAILABLE TODAY!! to be followed by Murder at Marble House in October of this year.

cover frontMurder at the Breakers
(A Gilded Newport Mystery)

A Brand New Series
Historical Cozy Mystery
Kensington Books (March 25, 2014)
Published by Kensington Publishing Corp.
Trade Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0758290823
E-Book File Size: 1188 KB
ASIN: B00FH1IBYE
Nook: ISBN-13: 9780758290830
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Newport, Rhode Island, August 1895:

She may be a less well-heeled relation, but as second cousin to millionaire patriarch Cornelius Vanderbilt, twenty-one-year-old Emma Cross is on the guest list for a grand ball at the Breakers, the Vanderbilts’ summer home. She also has a job to do—report on the event for the society page of the Newport Observer.

But Emma observes much more than glitz and gaiety when she witnesses a murder. The victim is Cornelius Vanderbilt’s financial secretary, who plunges off a balcony faster than falling stock prices. Emma’s black sheep brother Brady is found in Cornelius’s bedroom passed out next to a bottle of bourbon and stolen plans for a new railroad line. Brady has barely come to before the police have arrested him for the murder. But Emma is sure someone is trying to railroad her brother and resolves to find the real killer at any cost…

Dollycas’s Thoughts
What an awesome debut!!!

Emma Cross inherited much more than Gull Manor from her Aunt Sadie. She inherited her wit and her spunk as well. Her parents have traveled abroad to follow their own dreams and left her to handle everything on her own.  Using the small annuity left to her by her Aunt and the wages she earns writing about social events for the local paper she keeps up what she can at Gull Manor. She really is not Cornelius Vanderbilt’s niece. She is actually his second cousin “twice or thrice removed” but she calls him Uncle because she could never call the shipping magnate or his wife by just their first names. They invite her to parties, try to watch over her and hope to find her a suitable husband even though that is the furthest thing from her mind. She is very independent and has little fear of anything and seems to be wise beyond her years. She is a wonderful protagonist. I was engaged by her story immediately.

The author introduces us to many wonderful characters, the local Vanderbilt’s of course, Emma’s step brother Brady, her “cousin” Neily,  Nanny, who has been at Gull Manor forever, Emma’s maid, Katie, Officer Jessie Whyte, and Derrick “Anderson”. I look forward to getting to know more about all of them and their stories in future installments.

What I really loved about this book is that while the story is fictional it is based on fact. A party similar to the one in book actually took place. The author used her research to craft a mystery that was interwoven into a story of a family most of us are familiar with on some level, maybe not back to 1895, but they were one of the riches families in American history.

The mystery was a good one too. Emma was not afraid to keep digging and observed many things the local authorities either missed or ignored. She was not afraid to ask the hard questions even when those questions put her own life in danger. She also found an unexpected ally.

There was so much I loved about this book. It takes us back in time to a slower lifestyle when visiting meant harnessing up the horse to the buggy and traveling down a dirt road going house to house or manor to manor.

This is definitely an author to watch.  I can’t wait for Murder at Marble House (A Gilded Newport Mystery) out September 29.

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Thanks to the author I have 2 copies to give away!

Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Leave a comment for Alyssa for 5 Bonus Entries !

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End April 9 , 2014 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

CLICK HERE FOR ENTRY FORM

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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