June 25th was release day for A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder, the second book in the Countess of Harleigh series. We celebrated with a release party at Schuler Books in Okemos, Michigan. Guests included the countess herself and her anonymous villain!
Because I’ve been so busy with the release, I don’t have a new blog post for today, but I do have an excerpt from the book. Hope you enjoy it!
Also, for those of you who haven’t read book 1, A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder, Kensington has put the e-book on sale for $2.99 on all platforms! I never know exactly how long the sale price will last, but I believe it will be at least through July 15th.
Excerpt from A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder
“What about Lottie as a match for Mr. Evingdon?”
I glanced over at Lottie in time to see the girl blush furiously. I should have seen this coming. Lily had invited her to visit during the next social season and allow me to introduce her to London society. Lottie’s mother favored the idea, but not the timing. She’d dropped her only daughter on our doorstep three weeks ago, like a twenty-one-year-old foundling, and took herself off to Paris to have a new wardrobe designed.
Or so she claimed.
Since her forwarding address was in care of the Comte De Beaulieu, I found her cover story rather weak. The Comte was the notorious libertine British husbands considered all Frenchmen to be. And penniless in the bargain. If he had designs on anything, it was likely Mrs. Deaver’s pin money. Considering the large bank draft she provided to cover her daughter’s expenses, and my own of course, I suspected her pin money to be substantial, and Mr. Deaver was unlikely to miss it or his wife. If the gossip from my mother’s letters was true, Mrs. Deaver so scandalized the matrons of New York, none of them would let their sons near Lottie.
Considering Mrs. Deaver’s reputation across the pond, it was perhaps for the best that she moved on before she could establish one here. But while I appreciated the extra funds, I was left with the problem of what to do with Lottie. The unfortunate young lady sought an aristocratic husband during a time when the aristocrats were all tucked away at their country homes preparing to shoot red grouse as soon as the Glorious Twelfth arrived.
There were few social events this late in the summer, which meant we had her company all to ourselves for the weeks she’d been here. She was a pretty girl of medium height, slender, as fashion decreed, with an oval face framed by an abundance of russet hair. I found her to be endlessly interested in everything. As I told Sir Hugo, she was easy to entertain. She was also determined to be helpful. I learned very quickly, accepting her assistance could be dangerous.
If I allowed her to arrange the flowers, she’d only break the vase and spill the water. I’d once asked her to fetch a book from a shop just a few blocks away. She’d neglected to take a maid and, lost in thought, she wandered so far out of the neighborhood, three of us had to go out in search of her. A search that took several hours from my day and, I suspect, a few years off my life as I imagined her abducted and sold into slavery. How would I ever have explained that to her family?
She seemed always to have a spot on her dress, ink on her fingers, and a trail of destruction in her wake, but it was clear she always had the best of intentions. In fact, she was very endearing and I liked her a great deal, if only I could keep her from touching anything.
But as a match for Charles? I wasn’t quite sure who would make a good match for Lottie, but I’d never have picked him. For one, his home had far too many priceless antiques to be broken. For another, though I protested Aunt Hetty’s saying it, he was a bit of a dunderhead. Lottie needed someone to help her navigate the twists and turns of society. That would not be Charles.
There was one objection I could make. “It would probably be wise to find out from Mr. Evingdon why he didn’t form an attachment to Mrs. Archer before I introduce him to anyone else.”
“What did you say her name was?”
I glanced up to see Hetty watching me over the turned-down corner of her newspaper.
“Mary Archer. Why?”
Hetty twisted her lips into a grimace. “It appears Mr. Evingdon is correct in this matter. Whatever divided them, he’ll have no opportunity to reconcile with Mrs. Archer.”
Confused, I stared at my aunt. “What are you saying?”
“I’m sorry to give you this news, Frances, but I just read about her in the paper. It appears she’s been murdered.”
Hope you enjoy the book!