Guest Post & Giveaway: A MURDEROUS MARRIAGE and Royal Weddings by Alyssa Maxwell

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Today, as part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am to host Alyssa Maxwell as she celebrates the recent release of  A Murderous Marriage (A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mystery).  In today’s post she talks about her love for royal weddings.


Royal Weddings by Alyssa Maxwell

Who doesn’t love a Royal Wedding? My guess is, if you’re reading this post, you have an affinity for all things British, and royal weddings are high on your list. I’ve been an avid royal watcher since Princess Diana hit the world stage nearly forty years ago. You see, she and I were married in the same year, in the same month, a mere ten days apart. Mine was first, but I’m pretty sure she didn’t tune in to watch my hubby and I say our I dos. But I most definitely watched hers.

I tuned in again a few years later for Andrew and Fergie’ wedding. And then Edward and Sophie’s, and so on and so on, right up to last year when I sat glued to the TV for Harry and Meghan’s fairytale nuptials at Windsor Castle, one of the most beautiful setting’s imaginable. If you’re like me, you wish you could have overheard whatever Meghan and her mother said to each other as the car turned up the main drive and the castle came into view. I imagine there were loud gasps of disbelief. Surely they both believed they were dreaming.

And shouldn’t a wedding be just like a dream? I think so, and while mine wasn’t royal, it certainly was dreamy, held at an elegant French restaurant in a mansion built by J.P. Morgan in the 1920s in South Salem, NY. The ceremony took place in a stone courtyard above a flower-strewn meadow with a pond, where deer often grazed. It was a beautiful afternoon framed by the misty blue foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Our day was as close to perfect as can be.

Actually, I’m not just a fan of the royals or royal weddings. I love weddings in general, especially the gowns, and can happily scroll through picture after picture of beautiful wedding gowns, both vintage and modern, on Pinterest. Or binge watch Say Yes to the Dress. Returning, for the moment, to the royal weddings, I’ll admit liked Sarah Ferguson’s dress better than Diana’s, which I thought was overdone and altogether too fussy. More like something a doll would wear. Sarah’s gown, on the other hand, spoke of the sophistication of an independent, modern woman. I found the dress worn by Sophie, w2 Countess of Wessex, a tad ordinary, but all in all appropriate for a “smaller” wedding, which it was in comparison to the former two. Kate’s gown is my favorite, being tasteful, flattering, perfectly suited to her figure and her public persona. Meghan’s, while lovely in its simplicity, could have been better tailored to show off her figure (I know I’m far from alone in that opinion). Princess Eugenie’s seemed a bit stiff to me, maybe a little too structured, but her decision to wear a plunging back that showed the surgery scar from her scoliosis was a brave choice. Do you have a favorite among the royal wedding dresses?

So, royal watcher and wedding fan that I am, is it any wonder that I’d get around to writing a wedding story? But here’s the thing: A MURDEROUS MARRIAGE is no fairytale—far from it. I chose a beautiful setting – West Cowes on the Isle of Wight, in full view of the Solent waterway. Unfortunately, it’s a blustery, drizzly, bleak April day, the sort of day when the sun doesn’t dare show its face. The bride, of course, is beautiful. Lady Julia is reputed to be the most beautiful of the Renshaw sisters, and she’s wearing her great grandmother’s veil, made of Honiton lace designed by William Dyce, who also designed the lace for Queen Victoria’s wedding gown. Julia’s dress, however, is completely modern, the height of fashion in 1920—a sleek garment of ivory satin with an overlay of beaded lace, a drop waist, and whisper-sheer sleeves. Julia’s sisters, Phoebe and Amelia, who will serve as her attendants, are dressed in matching silk organza frocks. The wedding feast has been catered on the mainland, at the Royal Yacht Squadron, and ferried out to the groom’s yacht waiting on the Solent. In the morning, the happy couple will set sail on their honeymoon. The weather aside, everything is perfect …

w3Actually, it isn’t—it really isn’t—as the title of the book implies. But then again, despite the pomp and ceremony, the horse-drawn carriages, the magnificent gowns, and the miles and miles of cheering spectators, Diana’s and Fergie’s weddings were no fairy stories either, were they? Who could have guessed how spectacularly both of those marriages would implode? And how can Julia, or any of her family, guess what the next hours will bring?

So, on that ominous note, you are cordially invited to join friends and family in celebrating the marriage of Lady Julia Renshaw to Gilbert Townsend, Viscount Annondale. Can we count on your being there?


About A Murderous Marriage

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 . . .
 
MurderousMrrgSince 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 . . .

Giveaway

Click here to enter a rafflecopter for a chance to win one of three print copies of A Murderous Marriage.

About the Author

Alyssa-outside-2Alyssa 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

Twitter  Facebook – Webpage – GoodReads – Mailing List

Purchase Links – AmazonB&N  – KoboGooglePlay 

Release Spotlight, Review & Giveaway: MURDER AT ARCHLY MANOR by Sara Rosett

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post spotlights Murder At Archly Manor, the first installment in a new historical cozy mystery series by USA Today bestselling author Sara Rosett.   As a fan of both cozies and historical fiction, I was glad for a chance to read it.

Description

A high-society murder. A spirited lady detective. Can she out-class the killer before an innocent person takes the fall?

HS-1-Archly-1London, 1923. Olive Belgrave needs a job. Despite her aristocratic upbringing, she’s penniless. Determined to support herself, she jumps at an unconventional job—looking into the background of her cousin’s fiancé, Alfred. He burst into the upper crust world of London’s high society, but his answers to questions about his past are decidedly vague.

Before Olive can gather more than the basics, a murder occurs at a posh party. Suddenly, every Bright Young Person in attendance is a suspect, and Olive must race to find the culprit because a sly murderer is determined to make sure Olive’s first case is her last.

Murder at Archly Manor is the first in the High Society Lady Detective series of charming historical cozy mysteries. If you like witty banter, glamorous settings, and delightful plot twists, you’ll love USA Today bestselling author Sara Rosett’s series for Anglophiles and mystery lovers alike. Travel back to the Golden Age of detective fiction with Murder at Archly Manor.

My Review

I really enjoyed this book, which transports the reader back almost a century to the era of flappers and vaudeville. The author did a fine job of creating a mystery set in British society in the 1920s.  The descriptions of the clothing and settings gave a good feel for the times without getting long-winded.

From the onset of the story, I found myself rooting for Olive as she struggles to support herself in a time when well-bred, independent working females – or should I say ladies – were not the norm.  Olive is sweet and spunky at the same time, and very loyal to her cousins, who are better situated in life.

Quirky and mysterious characters, secrets that must be kept at all costs, and an interesting,  somewhat unpredictable plot made for a very enjoyable read.  I look forward to reading more about Olive and her adventures in the future.FTC Disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book without obligation and have voluntarily chosen to share my honest review.

Giveaway

Click to enter a rafflecopter for a chance to win a spectacular Prize Package, including a signed print copy of Murder at Archly Manor and more.

About the Author

SARA-ROSETTUSA Today bestselling author Sara Rosett writes light-hearted escapes for readers who enjoy puzzling mysteries, interesting settings, and quirky characters.

She is the author of the Murder on Location series, the Ellie Avery series, the On the Run series, and the High Society Lady Detective series. Sara also teaches an online course, How to Outline A Cozy Mystery.

Publishers Weekly called Sara’s books, “satisfying,” “well-executed,” and “sparkling.” Sara loves to get new stamps in her passport and considers dark chocolate a daily requirement. Find out more at SaraRosett.com.

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Spotlight, Excerpt & Giveaway: ARIA TO DEATH by Nupur Tustin

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, the spotlight today shines on Aria to Death: A Joseph Haydn Mystery by Nurpur Tustin.

Description

Aria_cover_500x800.jpgWhen Monteverdi’s lost operas surface, so does a killer desperate to possess them. . .

Preoccupied with preparations for the opera season at Eszterháza, Kapellmeister Joseph Haydn receives a curious request from a friend in Vienna. Kaspar, an impoverished violinist with an ailing wife, wishes Haydn to evaluate a collection of scores reputed to be the lost operas of Monteverdi.

Haydn is intrigued until Her Majesty, Empress Maria Theresa, summons him with a similar request. Skeptical of the value of Kaspar’s bequest, Haydn nevertheless offers to help. But before he can examine the works, Kaspar is murdered—beaten and left to die in front of a wine tavern.

The police are quick to dismiss the death as a robbery gone wrong. But Haydn is not so sure. Kaspar’s keys were stolen and his house broken into. Could his bequest be genuine after all? And can Haydn find the true operas—and the man willing to kill for them?

(An excerpt from Aria to Death appears later in this post.)

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter for a chance to win a copy of Aria to Death.

About the Author

NT-headshot_originalA former journalist, Nupur Tustin relies upon a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to orchestrate fictional mayhem.  The Haydn mysteries are a result of her life-long passion for classical music and its history. Childhood piano lessons and a 1903 Weber Upright share equal blame for her original compositions, available on ntustin.musicaneo.com.

Her writing includes work for Reuters and CNBC, short stories and freelance articles, and research published in peer-reviewed academic journals. She lives in Southern California with her husband, three rambunctious children, and a pit bull.

Purchase Links:  Amazon   B&N  kobo  iTunes

Read an excerpt from Aria to Death:

While he waits for Haydn’s response to his request, Kaspar is visited by a young Italian, Fabrizzio, who claims to be the son of a friend of Kaspar’s deceased uncle. But Fabrizzio, far from corroborating the story Kaspar’s uncle recounted of how he came by Monteverdi’s operas, casts even more doubt upon it…

Wilhelm Kaspar’s eyes widened. “Your father collected music?” he repeated slowly. God in heaven, could there be something after all to the strange tale his uncle had so readily believed? “Why, it must have been he who introduced my uncle to the printer who sold him Monteverdi’s music!”

“Ah, that!” Fabrizzio’s thumb gently stroked the short glossy tuft of beard on his chin, his gaze fixed on the carpet. “There was a printer, yes.” He continued to regard the worn carpet. “Father often recounted the tale to us, but”—he raised his eyes—“it was Wilhelm Dietrich who introduced the man to him.”

He leant back, holding Wilhelm Kaspar’s eyes in a pensive stare. “Whether Father set any store by the tale, I don’t know. I suppose if he had, he would have bought the music himself.”

Wilhelm Kaspar paled. “Then, the bequest. . .” Was it so completely without value? But how could that be? The attempt on the chest suggested otherwise, surely? Besides, Herr Anwalt himself was convinced of its value.

“Forgive me! I should not have spoken so plainly. Your aunt did mention your bequest to me.” Fabrizzio looked contrite. “Wilhelm Dietrich must have had the music authenticated,” he continued in a rush. “What man of the world could fail to do otherwise?”

“I. . .er. . .” Wilhelm Kaspar’s voice faltered. Onkel Dietrich had done no such thing as far as he was aware. What could have possessed the old man to buy such a parcel of old scores? And what must he have paid for it?

Fabrizzio propelled himself forward again and looked earnestly into his host’s eyes. “I would be happy to authenticate the works for you myself, if it has not yet been done. The possibility of your bequest containing the lost operas of the great master are very slim. But there may be some merit in the music, nonetheless.”

He gazed out at the overcast skies and yellow building visible through the parlor window. “I must confess as a music scholar, it quite intrigues me. This possibility of re-discovering works long held to be lost. But no. . .” He shook his head ruefully. “It is unlikely to be the case.”

He turned from the window. “There is news of the Empress having procured two such works herself. You will have heard of it, no doubt.”

Wilhelm Kaspar nodded wordlessly, his expectations ruptured. He had, until this moment, been counting on selling the works to no less a personage himself. He attempted to buoy himself up again.

“If two such works have been discovered, why should not the rest come to light?”

“Ah, yes!” Fabrizzio steepled the fingertips of his hands together. “But Her Majesty’s source claims to have unearthed them all.” He paused before continuing. “Still, there may be hope yet. If you will but allow me to examine the works.” His eyes searched the room, coming to rest upon an old bureau standing near the small clavichord.

Wilhelm Kaspar hesitated. Perhaps, Fabrizzio meant no harm. But how could he entrust his inheritance to a man he had just met? A man so adamant the bequest was without value; yet so eager to examine it?

His fingers closed nervously upon the edge of his seat. If only he had heeded Herr Anwalt’s advice to put the music in safekeeping. The lawyer had warned him another attempt might be made upon it.

“The scores are not here,” Wilhelm Kaspar uttered the lie hastily. “My lawyer has charge of them and has already arranged for them to be authenticated.” Would to God, Haydn could come to him!

“Oh!” A flash of annoyance seemed to flicker across Fabrizzio’s features. He shrugged lightly. “Well, it had best be done soon, then.” His dark eyes bore into Wilhelm Kaspar’s. “Before Her Majesty acquires the same works from another source.”

Excerpt from Aria to Death by Nupur Tustin.