A Conversation with Becca St.John, Author of THE GATEHOUSE (Lady Eleanor Mysteries #2)

Thanks so much for agreeing to be with us today, Becca!

Happy Valentine’s Day, Becky! My favorite holiday.

Thanks for having me and for giving me the opportunity to share my love and my work.

My pleasure 🙂

 

What 5 things should readers know about you?

  1. I would be crippled without yoga. Something happened over a decade ago, when I stepped out of bed I could barely walk. No problem now, as long as I do my yoga. But if I skip it, for too long, there’s a price to pay. Probably should see a doctor but if I can fix a problem myself, that’s what I’ll do.
  2. Imagination shoots me into the clouds, meditation keeps me grounded. Spending so much of my time ‘imagining’ the lives of characters, I have to do something to come back to reality. Mediation does that. It clears my mind and takes me back to the basics. But that doesn’t always mean sitting in silence for hours. Swimming, kayaking, even doing the dishes are great times to meditate.
  3. Travel is my ‘down-time’ ~ In 2015 I went to 12 countries 75 days and will be going to 8 countries in the same amount of time this spring. There’s a very good chance, after this next trip, I’ll retire from travel, at least physically. Mentally, I will go back to remote and so may my characters!
  4. Shhhh, this is a secret. Don’t want to get carted off as a crazy woman but … Whether they are there or not, I leave gifts for elves and faeries and love the whimsy of it all. Sometimes it’s good to step back into childhood, honoring dreams and make-believe.
  5. Before moving to Florida, I lived in the mountains of Wyoming and had a labyrinth in a willow copse on my property. Loved walking that labyrinth. It was special.

But…why wouldn’t the elves and fairies be there? What do you mean by “make believe”? 😉

The labyrinth sounds fantastic!

 

Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

The Gatehouse popped into my mind on a drive from San Diego to Los Angeles. I was riding in the car with another author who used to work in a school for the deaf. She talked about some of her teaching experiences and students who made it big. We discussed my next book for the Lady Eleanor Mysteries. The two conversations merged and whoosh, a whole new book emerged. It was a domino toppling moment that wasn’t nearly as random as it would seem. I had always been fascinated by deaf culture, even wrote, and produced, a play in deaf sign. We had to laugh, as I started to tell her my new idea she would say, “but why this?” or “why that?”  I’d scratch my head and answer, “I don’t know yet, the story is only just coming to me, right now, this very moment.” It works like that sometimes.

That is such an interesting story—I love it!

(And a deaf sign play—how cool! I took ASL I and II as my language in college, and loved it!)

 

How long have you been writing, and what (or who) inspired you to start?

Reading and writing have always been part of my life. So much so, that I didn’t think much of it. Just did it. Used writing to help earn a bit of cash in college, but never thought of it as a career. My family is full of writers and editors, so my efforts were not worth noting. But then the romance genre found me (really, it found me, I’m certain of it) and I found home.  “This is me,” I thought early in my romance reading career, “this is what I want to do, want to write.” And that was it.

I totally believe that romance finds you—you won’t get an argument there from me!

 

What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year?

Right now, I’m preparing to travel and research for my next book in the Lady Eleanor Mysteries,.

Fantastic!

 

Here’s a short excerpt from The Gatehouse (book 2 in the series) with a hint to where my travels are taking me, what the next mystery will be, and whose heart will need mending:

Edmund diverted the conversation. “What were you speaking to Lady Eleanor about?”

Bentwood frowned, tilting his drink, coating the sides of his glass. “She’s going to the Far East with us. Spot of bother over there, sister missing, worrisome.”

“Egad! Missing? Who?” exclaimed Sir Michael.

The whole table turned. “My sister, in the Far East. Going to locate her. Taking Lady Eleanor.”

“Never!” Sir Michael gasped.

“Need a woman. Lady Bentwood would go charging off on her own, if I didn’t have a sensible, logical woman to stop her.”

Sir Michael snorted. “Lady Eleanor is just as likely to lead the charge. No, don’t know if that’s a good idea.”

“She’s agreed,” Lord Bentwood told him. “We leave in the morning. That’s why I’ve been so keen to get out of here. Just got word.”

“Your sister’s probably just gone off with some fellow, don’t you think?” Sir Michael drummed his fingers on the table. “Probably no more than that.”

“Her husband is there, looking for her,” Bentwood looked down at his drink, wishing his wife adored him the way his sister loved her husband. But his wife loved another man. Always had. “Cece is crazy about him. She’d not run off.” But Lady Bentwood would, given half a chance. He was certain of it.

🙂

 

What are you currently reading, and what are your thoughts about it so far?

As   usual, I have three books on my side table:

  1. Lord Scoundrel – which I’ve read multiple times and will, most likely, read many more times
  2. Married to a Bedouin – about a gal who married a Bedouin and lived in Petra back in the 1970’s.
  3. I study theology. The third book is related to that study and something I hold quietly dear.

An interesting mix!

 

If you had to “sell” your book in a single Tweet, what would you say?

Devilishly handsome and deaf, a gentleman tries to protect his love from a killer he cannot hear.

Fantastic!

Thanks again for visiting, Becca, and happy Valentine’s Day! <3

 

About the author:

An Accidental Writer ~

Writing was a tool, not a toy, until a stay in an ancient (I swear it was haunted) hotel on a frightfully stormy night straight from a clichéd novel full of howling wind and creaking floors. The night drove me to a bookcase full of dog eared romances. Sleepless turned to fascination. Hooked I read old romances, new romances, both sexy and sweet until my own tales begged to be written.

 

About the book:

He can’t hear the murderer’s step but knows that all he loves is in danger …

Moments before his marriage, Christopher Sterry’s twin brother is murdered. One would expect Christopher to become the next Earl of Longford. No one would be surprised if he married his twin’s almost-bride, Helen Grove. She is, after all, his closest friend and confidante.

Except Christopher is deaf. The world outside Longford Manor believes that a deaf mute must also be a half-wit brute, unfit to be earl and, most certainly, capable of murdering his brother. He is the prime suspect – especially since he found the body.

Helen waits at the altar while her groom lies murdered in the folly. But there is no time to mourn. Christopher is in danger and so, it appears, is she. Ignoring her own risks, Helen crosses into the line of fire to protect the new earl. And in championing his cause, she comes to realize that it was not the dead twin she’d loved, but the deaf one.

Lady Eleanor solves crimes more thoroughly than any male magistrate. So when Christopher, her godson, is condemned without evidence, she sets out to prove both his innocence and his competence as earl. If she fails, Christopher will die… or be returned to an asylum worse than hell.

Book 2 ~ Lady Eleanor Mysteries ~ Regency romantic mystery with a touch of Gothic.

A Conversation with Colin Falconer, Author of THE SCHOOL OF NIGHT (The William Shakespeare Detective Agency

04_The School of Night_Blog Tour #2 Banner_FINAL

Thanks so much for agreeing to be with us today, Colin! What 5 things should readers know about you?

Oh wow. Well I guess they should know I’ve been a full time novelist for about 25 years, I’ve published somewhere between 40-50 books … about 8 of those are indies. I’ve been translated into 23 languages. I was born in England with German ancestors, raised my family in Australia but spend half my time overseas, mainly in Europe. I’m incredibly accessible if readers want to ask me questions, send me marriage proposals or write abusive emails – just go to my blog. And I have a birthmark on my back that looks like Mozart.

Okay, I have to ask—do you get a lot of marriage proposals? (And 40-50 books? Impressive!)

Tell us all about your main characters—who are they? What makes them tick? Most importantly, what one thing would they need to have with them if stranded on a desert isle? 😉

My main character is William Shakespeare, who is the William Shakespeare’s first cousin, but without the talent, the finesse or the receding hairline. He has come to London to make something of himself, but instead of fame and fortune there is just the humiliation of living penniless in Will’s loft and having his heart broken by a titled and sophisticated lady.

His only talents seem to be brawling and bumping into the right people in disreputable taverns. Before long he finds himself rubbing shoulders with the Queen’s favourite, Essex, and somehow embroiled in a plot to poison the Queen.

His ultimate fate is to become London’s first private detective – in an age when there was no such thing.

If he was stranded on a desert island he would need three things – something to drink and Lady Elizabeth Walsall. Oh and the third thing – the lead role in Hamlet. But two out of three isn’t bad.

No receding hairline—that’s good, right? Peniless and living with relatives and having his heart broken, though, that’s not so good…

 

If your book were being cast as a movie, who would you want to play the main characters?

Gerard Butler is my William. Benedict Cumberbatch -with a cosmetically produced receded hairline – is THAT William. And Lady Elizabeth Walsall by the suitably imperious Keira Knightley.

I’d be queued up to see that one!

 

How long have you been writing, and what (or who) inspired you to start?

I’ve been writing professionally for thirty years, I was in freelance journalism and radio and TV scriptwriting before I became a novelist. I was an advertising copywriter before that. It’s the only thing I’m good for.

Again—impressive!

 

What do you like best about being a writer? What is the most challenging part?

The best thing is the freedom – I get to travel a lot. And the work itself – I just love writing stories. I love more, the more I do it. The only thing I hate about it, is that it’s so solitary. I’m a social introvert. I sometimes go and work in crowded, noisy cafes just so there are people around me.

After the week I’ve had I’m thinking a solitary job sounds delightful…

 

What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year?

Next year??? I write faster than that. Amazon’s historical arm, Lake Union, have bought ISABELLA and will publish that next month. The month after, Saint Martin’s in New York are publishing COLOSSUS an epic alternative history (what if Alexander the Great hadn’t died so young?) I’m writing the sequel to ISABELLA now and then I have to finish books three and four in this series before the end of the year.

Oooh, I’ve wondered about Alexander myself…just imagine what he could have done!

 

What authors and/or books have inspired you?

I really liked Lyndsey Davis’ Falco series about the ancient Roman private investigator and that inspired me to think about a private detective in another era – I have always been fascinated with Shakespeare and to write about him obliquely like this seemed the perfect way. I also love Ken Follett – my non-series books are more like his – romance and adventure on an epic scale. Which is why I liked writing these Shakespeare books so much – gave me the chance to write more humour, and concentrate on one or two characters over an extended period of time.

 

What are you currently reading? What are your thoughts about it so far?

I’m reading The First Princess of Wales – that’s research – rereading William Boyd’s A Good Man in Africa as well as the first Game of Thrones, How to deliver a TED talk and Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Books open at different pages, all this stuff on my Kindle. I’m not a very organized reader except when I’m researching or if a book really grabs me. The last book to do that was Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.

I’ve got the first GoT book here in audio, just waiting for me to have time to start!

 

If you had to “sell” this book in a single Tweet, what would you say?

William Shakespeare. #Loafer #Lover #Idiot cousin. The underworld career of the least famous of Stratford upon Avon’s most famous family.

Great! Again, thanks so much!

Keep reading to learn more about Colin and his latest book, THE SCHOOL OF NIGHT.

 

About the AuthorColin Falconer

Born in London, Colin first trialed as a professional football player in England, and was eventually brought to Australia. He went to Sydney and worked in TV and radio and freelanced for many of Australia’s leading newspapers and magazines. He has published over twenty novels and his work has so far been translated into 23 languages.

He travels regularly to research his novels and his quest for authenticity has led him to run with the bulls in Pamplona, pursue tornadoes across Oklahoma and black witches across Mexico, go cage shark diving in South Africa and get tear gassed in a riot in La Paz.

He currently lives in Barcelona.

For more information please visit Colin Falconer’s website. You can also find him on Facebook or follow on Twitter.

 

02_The William Shakespeare Detective Agency-The School of Night_CoverPublication Date: October 7, 2014
Cool Gus Publishing
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 168
Series: The William Shakespeare Detective Agency
Genre: Historical Mystery

Add to GR Button

“My name is William Shakespeare. No, not that Shakespeare; and no jests please, I’ve heard them all. I’m the other one, the ne’er do well cousin, the loafer, known to family and friends as the dunce, the one who could not recite Cicero or Horace, who could never be as good as his clever cuz, the one who has just come to Bishopsgate from Stratford with silly dreams in his head and a longing to make something more of himself than just a glover’s handyman.”

What he finds in London is Lady Elizabeth Talbot, who is willing to pass a few shillings to this blundering brawler if he will help her find her husband. Poor William does not realize the trail will lead to the truth behind the death of Shakespeare’s great rival, Christopher Marlowe – or to a lifelong love affair with a woman far above his station.

Each book tells the story of William’s adventures as England’s first gumshoe, set against turbulent Elizabethan politics; of his romantic pursuit of the impossible Elizabeth Talbot; while charting the career of his up and coming dramatist cousin, the bard of Stratford, but just Will to his family.

Buy the Book

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Book Depository

IndieBound

 

The School of Night Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, March 16

Interview & Giveaway at View From the Birdhouse

Tuesday, March 17

Excerpt at I Heart Reading

Spotlight at Genre Queen

Wednesday, March 18

Review at 100 Pages a Day

Spotlight at Caroline Wilson Writes

Thursday, March 19

Interview at Becky on Books

Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Friday, March 20

Spotlight at To Read, or Not to Read

Monday, March 23

Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, March 24

Review at It’s a Mad, Mad World

Thursday, March 26

Review at Quirky Book Reviews

Friday, March 27

Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks

Tuesday, March 31

Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

New Release Book Blast! THE IRIS FAN by Laura Joh Rowland

Please join author Laura Joh Rowland as she tours the blogosphere with HF Virtual Book Tours for The Iris Fan: A Novel of Feudal Japan, from December 9-January 9.

 photo ae47ce42-f28c-4205-8175-9f63fd44bde9.png

Add to GR Button

Publication Date: December 9, 2014
Minotaur Books
Formats: eBook, Hardcover

Series: Sano Ichiro Mystery Series (Book 18)
Genre: Historical Mystery

Japan, 1709. The shogun is old and ailing. Amid the ever-treacherous intrigue in the court, Sano Ichiro has been demoted from chamberlain to a lowly patrol guard. His relationship with his wife Reiko is in tatters, and a bizarre new alliance between his two enemies Yanagisawa and Lord Ienobu has left him puzzled and wary. Sano’s onetime friend Hirata is a reluctant conspirator in a plot against the ruling regime. Yet, Sano’s dedication to the Way of the Warrior—the samurai code of honor—is undiminished.

Then a harrowing, almost inconceivable crime takes place. In his own palace, the shogun is stabbed with a fan made of painted silk with sharp-pointed iron ribs. Sano is restored to the rank of chief investigator to find the culprit. This is the most significant, and most dangerous, investigation of his career. If the shogun’s heir is displeased, he will have Sano and his family put to death without waiting for the shogun’s permission, then worry about the consequences later. And Sano has enemies of his own, as well as unexpected allies. As the previously unimaginable death of the shogun seems ever more possible, Sano finds himself at the center of warring forces that threaten not only his own family but Japan itself.

Riveting and richly imagined, with a magnificent sense of time and place, The Iris Fan is the triumphant conclusion to Laura Joh Rowland’s brilliant series of thrillers set in feudal Japan.

The Sano Ichiro Mystery Series Titles:

Shinju
Bundori
The Way of the Traitor
The Concubine’s Tattoo
The Samurai’s Wife
Black Lotus
The Pillow Book of Lady Wisteria
The Dragon King’s Palace
The Perfumed Sleeve
The Assassin’s Touch
The Red Chrysanthemum
The Snow Empress
The Fire Kimono
The Cloud Pavilion
The Ronin’s Mistress
The Incense Game
The Shogun’s Daughter
The Iris Fan

Buy the Book:02_The Iris Fan Cover

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository
IndieBound

About the Author03_Laura Joh Rowland

Granddaughter of Chinese and Korean immigrants, Laura Joh Rowland grew up in Michigan and where she graduated with a B.S. in microbiology and a Master of Public Health at the University of Michigan. She is the author of sixteen previous Sano Ichiro thrillers set in feudal Japan. The Fire Kimono was named one of the Wall Street Journal’s “Five Best Historical Mystery Novels”; and The Snow Empress and The Cloud Pavilion were among Publishers Weekly’s Best Mysteries of the Year. She currently lives in New Orleans with her husband. She has worked as a chemist, microbiologist, sanitary inspector and quality engineer.

For more information please visit Laura’s website. You can also follow her on Facebook.

The Iris Fan Blog Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, December 9
Book Blast, Excerpt, & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, December 10
Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse

Friday, December 12
Book Blast at Queen of All She Reads

Monday, December 15
Book Blast at Layered Pages

Tuesday, December 16
Review at Book Dilletante
Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Wednesday, December 17
Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, December 18
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Friday, December 19
Review at Unshelfish
Book Blast at I’d So Rather Be Reading

Monday, December 22
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at Buried Under Books
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Obsession

Tuesday, December 23
Review at Book Nerd

Monday, December 29
Interview at Bunny’s Reviews

Wednesday, December 31
Book Blast at Becky on Books

Sunday, January 4
Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, January 5
Review & Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Book Blast at Brooke Blogs

Tuesday, January 6
Review & Interview at The Bluest Butterfly

Wednesday, January 7
Review at Book Babe
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, January 8
Book Blast at A Literary Vacation

Friday, January 9
Review at Booksie’s Blog

 

First in the Series Review: DEATH COMES TO THE VILLAGE by Catherine Llyod (A Kurland St. Mary Mystery)

First in the series! I read and reviewed book two here.

Death Comes to the Village
by Catherine Lloyd

Summary:

A wounded soldier and a rector’s daughter discover strange goings-on in the sleepy village of Kurland St. Mary in Catherine Lloyd’s charming Regency-set mystery debut.

Major Robert Kurland has returned to the quiet vistas of his village home to recuperate from the horrors of Waterloo. However injured his body may be, his mind is as active as ever. Too active, perhaps. When he glimpses a shadowy figure from his bedroom window struggling with a heavy load, the tranquil façade of the village begins to loom sinister. . .

Unable to forget the incident, Robert confides in his childhood friend, Miss Lucy Harrington. As the dutiful daughter of the widowed rector, following up on the major’s suspicions offers a welcome diversion–but soon presents real danger. Someone is intent on stopping their investigation. And in a place where no one locks their doors, a series of thefts and the disappearance of two young serving girls demands explanation. . .

As Robert grapples with his difficult recovery, he and Lucy try to unearth the dark truth lurking within the village shadows, and stop a killer waiting to strike again…

Review:

I’m reading this series backwards, as I have an odd tendency to do. So I’ll never know for certain if I caught on quickly to “whodunit” because I knew who was missing from book two, or from clues given here, or a combination of the two…

Either way, this was a really good read. A Regency cozy mystery exactly fit the bill for what I needed to read this week (my re-read of  The Shining the past two weeks had me pretty tense on my drives to and from work each day. Add in snowy weather and it was difficult all around). Listening to Death Comes to the Village had me looking for excuses to keep listening once my rides in the car were over (at home–not at work, of course. That would be wrong. ;))

I love that the author brings such a feeling of authenticity to her books. Even when Lucy (or Robert) is flaunting conventions of the time somewhat, it all had an authentic feel. I believed that these characters lived in the Regency era, not that they were modern characters dropped into that setting as sometimes happens in historical romances.

The narrator is not my favorite–she doesn’t bring a lot of personality to her reading, though her reading is adequate–the story itself made up for her shortcomings.

Once again I thoroughly enjoyed the characters of (Miss) Lucy Harrington and (Major) Robert Kurland; I cannot wait to read more of this series! Poor Lucy–I could feel my blood pressure rising each time her father (!) or any other character disparaged her and/or her future options. The major still has a lot of healing to do; in this novel, his walking on his own or even keeping his leg are not a given. They both have a lot of personal issues to work through and the possibility of romance is far in the future.

But oh, the possibility!

Did I mention I was anxious for more of this series? 🙂

Another bonus–Lucy and Anna were working on a quilt in one scene, and the activity ended up giving Lucy a clue to the major mystery. Quilting saves the day!
Rating: 4 stars / B+

View all my reviews

New Release Review! DEATH COMES TO LONDON by Catherine Lloyd (Kurland St. Mary Mystery #2)

Absolutely loved this!

02_Death Comes to LondonPublication Date: November 25, 2014

Kensington Books

Formats: eBook, Trade Paperback

Pages: 272

Series: Kurland St. Mary Mystery, Book Two

Genre: Historical Mystery

Add to GR Button

 

A season in London promises a welcome change of pace for two friends from the village of Kurland St. Mary—until murder makes a debut…

With the reluctant blessings of their father, the rector of Kurland St. Mary, Lucy Harrington and her sister Anna leave home for a social season in London. At the same time, Lucy’s special friend Major Robert Kurland is summoned to the city to accept a baronetcy for his wartime heroism.

Amidst the dizzying whirl of balls and formal dinners, the focus shifts from mixing and matchmaking to murder when the dowager Countess of Broughton, the mother of an old army friend of Robert, drops dead. When it’s revealed she’s been poisoned, Robert’s former betrothed, Miss Chingford, is accused, and she in turn points a finger at Anna. To protect her sister, Lucy enlists Robert’s aid in drawing out the true culprit.

But with suspects ranging from resentful rivals and embittered family members to the toast of the ton, it will take all their sleuthing skills to unmask the poisoner before more trouble is stirred up…

Review:

An extremely well-plotted mystery that really kept me guessing,Death Comes to London is the second in the series but works fine as a stand alone. (I’ve already picked up book one, though–be warned! This series *might* be habit-forming 😉 Seriously–the audio’s downloading as I write this.)

Set during the Regency, Death felt authentic to its time period–Ms. Lloyd paid close attention to her details. When we’re seeing a scene from Robert (Major Kurland)’s point of view, for example, Lucy is always referred to as Miss Harrington, whether it’s in his thoughts or out loud; the same holds true when it’s Lucy’s POV. Details like this really made me feel as if I were immersed in the historical setting, which I loved.

The clues to the mystery are laid out with equal precision. The information you need to figure it out along with Lucy and Robert is all there, cleverly woven into the narrative if you’re paying close enough attention. Even though I figured out whodunit a bit before our hero and heroine, other aspects of the mystery remained mysterious until the big reveal–exactly what I look for in a good mystery read.

The romance is still developing here–slow and steady wins the race, right?–and the ending has me very anxious for the next book in the series. Lucy and Robert are obviously (obviously to everyone else on the planet, that is, but sadly not to each other yet) an ideal match, and I’m dying (pun totally intended) for them to realize it. Together they form an inimitable duo reminiscent of Amelia Peabody/Radcliffe Emerson ( Crocodile on the Sandbank ) and Lady Emily Ashton/Colin Hargreaves (And Only to Deceive ). Murderers, beware!

Hurry up, series book three!

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

Excerpt:

“Miss Harrington?”

She looked up at Robert and curtsied. “Major, you’ve missed all the excitement again. The dowager countess is attempting to get Miss Chingford and Anna thrown out of Almacks.

“I doubt she will succeed.”

“Why do you think that?”

“Because I just saw her coming this way after speaking to Lady Jersey and she looked absolutely furious.”

“Oh, thank goodness,” Miss Harrington said. “Anna is beside herself.”

“And Miss Chingford?”

“Too busy looking for you to find out if you are to be ennobled.”

“Ah. That’s why she was trying to ingratiate herself with me again.”

“She’s already tried?” Miss Harrington shook her head. “Five minutes ago she was threatening to kill the dowager, and now she’s moved on to reattaching herself to you. One has to admire her stamina.” She looked over his shoulder. “Where is the dowager now?”

“Talking to another old harridan and arguing with her. Does she ever stop?”

“That’s Lady Bentley. Apparently, the dowager has accused her of stealing some jewelry from her.”

“So I’ve heard over the breakfast table all week.” Robert considered the gaunt peeress who was now pointing her finger in the dowager’s face to emphasize each word. “I can’t see Lady Bentley breaking into someone’s house, can you?”

“No, but my aunt says they’ve hated each other for years, but no one quite remembers why. Recently, all-out war has broken out again.”

“The dowager does seem to have a gift for bringing out the worst in people. They are coming toward us. Let’s stage a retreat.” Miss Harrington turned with him and pretended to admire the potted palm trees and exotic flowers that decorated the ballroom. “It must be wonderful to see such things in their natural state.”

“While your clothes stick to you, your skin is attacked and bitten by a million insects and you fear the native population are going to kill you?”

“You have no imagination, Major.”

“That’s because I’ve actually experienced such places, and know that in reality you’d be running away screaming.”

“I would not.” She raised her chin. “Although the chances of me ever being able to prove that to you, or any other man are remote, as I’ll never be given the opportunity to travel.”

“Perhaps this mythical husband of yours had better be a world traveler. I believe Captain McNamara is looking for a new wife.”

“And he is over fifty years old.”

“I didn’t realize you were inclined to be so particular.”

“I suppose you assume I have no choice!”

“I—” He blinked at her. “I beg your pardon.”

“Accepted. Will you please take me back to my aunt?”

Taking her elbow he maneuvered her back into the circle around Anna and the Countess of Clavelly. Broughton looked up as his grandmother approached with Lady Bentley still in tow and groaned. He put down his almost full glass.

“Oh no, not again.”

“Lieutenant, can you try and draw Lady Bentley off while I deal with your grandmother?” Miss Harrington asked. “She does look rather overwrought.”

A tray with glasses of orgeat stood on the side table and she picked up two. Miss Harrington went up to the dowager who was visibly shaking with anger, her narrow lips thinned, and her cheeks a hectic red.

“My lady, please take some orgeat and sit down. You look rather warm.”

For a moment Robert tensed ready to intervene as the dowager’s black gaze fastened on Miss Harrington. Then she abruptly held out her hand and took the glass.

“Thank you.”

“I hope it chokes the old witch.”

Robert glanced across at Oliver Broughton who was glaring at his grandmother, his expression a mixture of embarrassment and contempt. With a muttered oath, Oliver turned on his heel and stalked away toward the card room.

“Good gracious!”

Robert switched his attention back to Miss Harrington who was now staring down in consternation at the skirt of her blue gown.

He removed the empty glass from her hand. “You’re supposed to drink it, Miss Harrington. Not throw it all over yourself, or were you aiming at the dowager countess?”

She held the wet fabric away from her. “Someone caught my elbow from behind. This was my favorite dress.”

“I’m sure it can be fixed.” Anxious to avoid another female expressing her emotions, Robert looked frantically around. “ Shall I find your aunt, or Mrs. Hathaway so that they can accompany you to the ladies retiring room?”

“I can do that myself, thank you, Major. Oh good Lord.” She glanced distractedly around the ballroom. “Now Miss Chingford is bearing down on us and Lieutenant Broughton has allowed Lady Bentley to escape him. They are both converging on the dowager and she really isn’t well. All that rage comes at a price.”

“That’s not your concern, Miss Harrington. Let Broughton handle his grandmother and take yourself off to the retiring room. I’ll stay here and tell you what happens. I even promise to intervene if it proves necessary.”

“Thank you, Major.” She gathered her skirts. “If you would be so kind as to tell my aunt where I’ve gone, I would be most obliged.”

She turned away just as the dowager stood up again to confront Lady Bentley and Miss Chingford who converged upon her.

“And what do you two want? Do you think I have time to listen to—”

With a strangled sound the dowager clutched at her throat and started to fight to breathe. Her face contorted and she fell forward, her cane clattering to the floor as she writhed and twitched like burning parchment and finally went still.

Around them the ball went on. Only those in the immediate vicinity seemed to realize that something was amiss. Robert went down on his knees and grasped the dowager’s thin wrist. He bent even closer to observe her chest and finally stared into her wide black eyes.

“What happened? What’s wrong?”

Miss Harrington knelt opposite him. Robert swallowed hard and raised his gaze to hers. He’d seen many die but not in such bizarre surroundings as a ballroom. It made the sight even more obscene.

“She’s dead.”

“She can’t be.”

“Fetch Broughton and his mother and see if we can find a physician.”

 

 

Praise for the Kurland St. Mary Mystery Series

“Lloyd’s delightful debut…Readers will hope that death returns soon to Kurland St. Mary.” – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“A skillfully crafted mystery that combines a wounded war hero, an inquisitive rector’s daughter and a quaint peaceful village with some sinister secrets…a compelling picture of a young woman trying to find the courage to stand up for herself.” – RT Book Reviews, 4.5 Stars, TOP PICK!

“A Regency Rear Window whose chair-bound hero and the woman who civilizes him generate sparks worthy of Darcy and Elizabeth. – Kirkus Reviews

Buy the Book

Amazon (Kindle)

Amazon (Paperback)

Barnes & Noble

Book Depository

Books-A-Million

iTunes

IndieBound

About the Author03_Catherine Llyod Author

Catherine Lloyd grew up in London, England in the middle of a large family of girls. She quickly decided her imagination was a wonderful thing and was often in trouble for making stuff up. She finally worked out she could make a career out of this when she moved to the USA with her husband and four children and began writing fiction. With a background in historical research and a love of old-fashioned mysteries, she couldn’t resist the opportunity to wonder what a young Regency Miss Marple might be like, and how she would deal with a far from pleasant hero of the Napoleonic wars.

For more information please visit Catherine Lloyd’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.