One of my favorite bits of research for A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder was finding just the right British manor to use as a model for Risings, the country home of the Hazeltons—the Earls of Hartfield. Nothing says “England” to me like a stately home in the countryside; hundreds of years old and sprawling across the landscape. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit a few and through the wonders of the internet, I was able to take virtual tours of many more and ultimately settled on Audley End House in Essex to be George Hazelton’s family home in Hampshire. If you are reading this on Goodreads, this would be the time to click over to my blog so you can see the photos of this fabulous house.
In Mischief and Murder, Frances needs a place in the country to hold her sister’s wedding and George steps up and offers Risings for her use. The home is currently in possession of his brother, the Earl of Hartfield, who is on an extended visit to the continent with his wife. George has agreed to keep up with the management of the place while is brother is away. He’s already arranged for a small shooting party, so why not add a wedding into the mix.
I couldn’t resist the lure of a Victorian country house party and only wish I could attend one myself. Instead, I created one for my characters to enjoy. It’s October, so, of course, the gentlemen are shooting, but there’s no shortage of amusements for the ladies either—riding, a visit to the village, rambling across the extensive grounds, or challenging the maze. There are picnic luncheons and archery competitions, mysterious accidents, and murder! But of course, you knew that. What’s a country house party without a murder?