Authors ’18, Rachel Dacus, and the Italian Renaissance. What do these three have in common?

I met Rachel Dacus through our debut author group, Authors ’18. We’re a group of 100+ writers whose debut novels released in 2018. If you aren’t already following our Facebook page, now is the perfect time to start. We’ve been giving away book bundles each week for the past two weeks and we’ll keep it up until we’re out of books! You like books, right? Here’s the link:

One of the best things about being part of this group is getting to meet other debut authors, reading their books, and interviewing them on my blog. Rachel Dacus joins me today to talk about her novel, The Renaissance Club. I love historical fiction and this story takes you to the past in a very magical way. I’ll let Rachel tell you about it.

RD The RenaissRENAISSANCE CLUB ebook (1)ance Club is the story of May Gold, a young art historian who falls through a fold in time during a tour of Italy. May’s lucky accident brings her face to face with the artist hero she’s specialized in, and dreamed about, 17th century genius sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini. The meeting turns her life in the present upside down and forces her to decide if her adventure in time will ruin her life, or lead to a magical new one.

DF How did you come up with the idea for the story?
RD An art history tour of northern Italy, much like the one depicted in my story, kindled a wish to meet some of the great artistic geniuses behind the Renaissance. Though I know in real life, time-travel isn’t possible, I found a way to meet one of the most spectacular artistic geniuses who ever lived—by recreating him as my hero!

DF Is Bernini your favorite character in the book?
RD Though May and Bernini are my main characters, the story couldn’t exist without time travel guide George St. James. Based—amazingly—on a real person (and I won’t say whether he could go time traveling or not), George has his own complicated backstory and reason for helping others to realize their full potentials. The time traveling quirk he developed as a child was something he had to learn to tame, and like the person he’s based on, George became a master at turning unusual ways of looking at life into a way to serve others.

DF If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?
RD I’d certainly spend a day with Bernini. Like May, I’d just watch him work. They said Bernini could chisel marble for eight hours straight without stopping. He himself reported that while working on a sculpture, he was in a state of bliss. I’d like to observe that, though I would need a lunch break! But who knows what would get started by simply observing a charismatic genius. As May discovered, all kinds of delicious complications might arise.

DF How did you get into writing?
RD I blame my mother and a wonderful bookstore in Long Beach, California called Acre of Books, which introduced me to the idea that I could own such books as the Oz books, Nancy Drew, and the rainbow fairytale books. I took the owning one step further and started writing books for myself to read.

DF How long did it take you to write The Renaissance Club?
RD I began with the concept seven years before I sold it to a publisher. That’s a long, long journey, and a nearly gave up toward the end, but because I had such fantastic help from top editors and beta readers, I just couldn’t. I’m really hoping my next book will be a shorter journey!Rachel - IMG_4803 Black shirt cropFlat copy (1)

DF I hope we don’t have to wait that long for your next book! What are you working on now?
RD I’m working on The Romantics, the story of two half-sisters who clash over their inheritance, a cottage in northern Italy, with its resident ghost, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

DF Definitely looking forward to The Romantics! In the meantime, here’s where you can buy The Renaissance Club. Or you can visit Rachel’s website for other purchase options. If you’d like to connect with Rachel on social media, here are her links:





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I’m falling behind on my posts again, but this time I have a good reason. Earlier this month I attended Bouchercon—The World Mystery Convention. It was four days surrounded by 1,500 fellow mystery lovers, about 600 of them authors, indulging in my love of writing, reading, and mystery.

This was my first Bouchercon and I went as both a fan and a published author, lucky enough to be assigned to a panel on historical research. That means I was both excited and very nervous. My panel was Thursday morning and we arrived Wednesday evening. After checking in (and getting our giant bag of books, Yea!) we stopped by the room where the panel would take place. It was huge. Take a look.
bcon empty room(That person waaaaay down there on the stage–that’s me. Yikes!)

Seeing this room took me from nervous, to complete wreck! I barely slept, terrified I’d forget everything, up to and including my own name. My nerves got increasingly worse as we entered the crowded room and took our seats. Then Deanna Raybourn said, “If you start to panic, just give me a nod and I’ll jump in.” I was so grateful, but as it turned out, once I started talking, I was fine. We were talking about books and research. It was fun and the time just flew by! Bcon panel

Talking Historical Research Panel (Anne Cleeland, Susanna Calkins, Katrina Carrasco, David Corbett, Deanna Raybourn, and me!)

This is also an opportunity to catch up with people you know on-line and meet them in person! I was thrilled to meet several friends from my debut author group, Authors 18. I met Gale Massey (The Girl From Blind River) and Aimee Hix (What Doesn’t Kill You) at the Debut Author Breakfast. Then met up with Carolyn Walker (Immortal Descent), Shari Randall (Curses, Boiled Again!), and Kari Bovee (Girl With A Gun) for brunch the next day!

bcon a18 friends

Once the panel and the Debut Author Breakfast was over, I could relax and enjoy the rest of the convention. Bouchercon is huge, but it’s also casual and friendly. There are plenty of panels during the day and opportunities to mix and mingle in the evening. For an introvert like me, “mix and mingle” are not necessarily words I get excited about, but in this case, everyone was talking about books so I was totally in my element!




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Criminal Misdeeds

I’m so excited to welcome Randee Green to the blog today! Her debut novel, Criminal Misdeeds released last month and put her right at the top of my list of favorite humorous mystery authors.

Here’s my review of Criminal Misdeeds:
The Shatners of Wyatt County Texas have a hard time staying on the right side of the law, though it might be a little easier if they actually tried. They deal incriminal_misdeeds_300 illegal moonshine, illegal pot, illegal fireworks, and an array of other petty criminal activities. It falls to Detective Carrie Shatner to keep them from straying too far out of line and ending up in jail. So when she finds a dead body at the county fairgrounds where the whole Shatner clan have been celebrating New Years’ Eve, it’s her job to prove a Shatner wasn’t responsible.

If you love a little (okay, a lot of) humor mixed into a complex, twisty mystery, this is your book. Carrie Shatner is not just a good detective, she’s the straight man to the quirky cast of characters she calls her family. Just as quickly as they cause trouble, she comes along behind them to clean it up with a wry resignation and down-home wit that will make you wish she were a real person and living next door. Well, sans the family. I can’t wait for the next book in this series.

DF: Criminal Misdeeds is so twisty and quirky, how did you come up with the idea for the story?
RG: I first came up with Carrie Shatner when I was a senior in high school. This was way back in late 2005/early 2006. At that time, I was reading a lot of mystery novels starring strong, female sleuths, and I decided I was going to attempt creating one of my own. I also liked the idea of writing a series. Even as a teenager who was still trying to figure out this novel writing thing, I instinctively knew that, once I’ve created a character, I am invested in his/her life. I want to give my characters more than one book to tell their story.

I don’t really remember when or how Carrie Shatner exactly came to life. Like Athena, who came kicking and screaming into the mythological world directly from Zeus’s forehead as an armed, adult woman, one day Carrie Shatner was there. And I immediately knew that she wouldn’t be leaving anytime soon. This kick ass woman had a story to tell, and it was up to me to put that story into words. Basically, it was a hostile takeover of my brain…

Over the years, Carrie Shatner has gone through many transformations. In every version, she was in some form of law enforcement, but her job and place of employment changed more times than Cher would change outfits during her shows.

If this all sounds really confusing and frustrating, trust me, it was. At this point, the only thing about Carrie that hasn’t changed is her name.

DF: How long did it take to write the book?
RG: I worked on writing CRIMINAL MISDEEDS off-and-on for three-and-a-half years. I began writing CRIMINAL MISDEEDS in January 2011 when I was in grad school working on my MA in Creative Writing. It wasn’t until the summer of 2014 that I felt that CRIMINAL MISDEEDS was ready to be submitted to agents. I was almost immediately signed to BookEnds LLC. After some revisions, my agent began sending my novel out to publishers in the fall of 2014. It wasn’t until January of 2017 that CRIMINAL MISDEEDS was picked up by Coffeetown Press. Then it was another year of edits and revisions before the novel was published on July 1, 2018

DF: Your characters are quite talented at stirring up trouble, are they based on real people, or do they all come from your imagination?
RG: – Honestly, it’s a little of both. My main characters mostly come from my imagination, but real people have been the spark that ignited ideas for certain characters. Once that spark is ignited into a fire, the character I come up with in no way resembles that real person that got the process started. As for minor characters who appear once or twice and only play a small role…I’ve been known to base some of them on real people.

DF: If you could spend the day with one of them, who would it be and what would you do?
RG: I would love to spend the day hanging with almost all of my characters, but Carrie Shatner would have to be my first choice. She and I share a lot of similar interests and traits, so I’m fairly certain we would get along quite well. If I could spend the day with her, I think I’d just want her to take me on a tour of Wyatt County. I invented her world, but I’d love to have her show it to me. And maybe Carrie could take me to a Shatner family gathering so I could meet all of her crazy kin and pass the homebrewed moonshine around with them.

DF: What are you working on right now?
RG: I’m currently working on a new mystery series idea starring a spunky, strong, amateur female sleuth. I also have an idea for a historical novel that I’ve been doing some research on.

DF: Wait a minute! Please tell me there’s another Carrie Shatner book in the works.

RG: And I’m also working on the second book in the Carrie Shatner series, Criminal Chokehold.

DF: Yay! I can’t wait to read it!

Randee Green’s passion for reading began in grade school with LITTLE HOUSE IN THE BIG WOODS by Laura Ingalls Wilder. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, as well as a master’s and an MFA in Creative Writing. When not writing, she’s usually reading, indulging in her passion for Texas country music, traveling, or hanging out with her favorite feline friend, Mr. Snookums G. Cat.Randee (Bretherick) Green author photo 6-17-17

You can purchase Criminal Misdeeds Here

If you’d like to connect with Randee here’s where you can find her:



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Interview with Author Heather Redmond

I recently had the opportunity to talk with author, Heather Redmond about her new mystery, A TALE OF TWO MURDERS in which a young Charles Dickens is the sleuth. Here’s a little bit about the book:

In the winter ofA tale of two Murders HC cover 1835, young Charles Dickens is a journalist on the rise at the Evening Chronicle. Invited to dinner at the estate of the newspaper’s co-editor, Charles is smitten with his boss’s daughter, vivacious nineteen-year-old Kate Hogarth. They are having the best of times when a scream shatters the pleasant evening. Charles, Kate, and her father rush to the neighbors’ home, where Miss Christiana Lugoson lies unconscious on the floor. By morning, the poor young woman will be dead.

When Charles hears from a colleague of a very similar mysterious death a year ago to the date, also a young woman, he begins to suspect poisoning and feels compelled to investigate. The lovely Kate offers to help–using her social position to gain access to the members of the upper crust, now suspects in a murder. If Charles can find justice for the victims, it will be a far, far better thing than he has ever done. But with a twist or two in this most peculiar case, he and Kate may be in for the worst of times . . .

DF: Welcome, Heather. I read an advance copy of the book and loved it! What inspired you to write A TALE OF TWO MURDERS?

HR: A former editor of mine moved to a mystery publisher so I started pitching him stories. The Charles Dickens-as-amateur-sleuth idea was one of a group of four different historical ideas, since that was what I was known for. He chose that one and we went for a gritty vibe in what I wrote up for him. I ultimately sold the project to Kensington after a sample of the story was rewritten in much lighter fashion. We haven’t seen Dickens handled lightly in literature before so I’m breaking new ground.

DF: What’s one of your favorite elements in the novel?

HR: I loved trying to bring very subtle elements of Dickens’s actual novel A Tale of Two Cities into my book. I also tried to be as factual as I could be as to the biographical information. If I knew Dickens was somewhere on a given day or writing something specific on a given day I put it in there! I wanted a Dickens lover as well as a mystery lover to appreciate the novel.

DF: What makes your main characters, Charles Dickens and Kate Hogarth unique and worth caring about?

HR: I pitched Charles Dickens in 1835 as Leonardo DiCaprio circa 1996. People were talking about him because he was so good at his job of parliamentary reporting, and he was a great, charismatic networker, but he hadn’t broken out into superstardom yet. It’s amazing to think that Dickens was a superstar at twenty-four, not the usual sort of thing for a middle class, indifferently-educated man. His wife, Kate Hogarth, has been obscured by what happened to her marriage in later life. There has been an attempt to resurrect her life story, with what documents are left, and I really wanted to do her justice. I have to walk the thin line between the mores of the time and today’s modern reader, who might find certain aspects of relationships of the day unacceptable.

DF: You do a beautiful job of evoking the era. What type of research did you have to do to achieve that effect?

HR: I have been writing stories set in the nineteenth century on and off since 2005, so I have a lot of information in my head. In some ways I know that time period better than I know today! One thing I did this time much more than in previous books was read the newspapers in London during the timeline of my book. I also was writing about a writer, so I read both Dickens’s novels and his journalism. Of course, given that I was writing about a famous person, I could consult biographies of him and his wife and others in his world.

DF: Can you share your writing process with us?

HR: I come up with an idea, and sometimes write a couple-paragraph blurb about it to see if it pops. If it’s a Dickens book I reread my inspiration book (one of his novels) and figure out what kinds of characters and themes and plots he was using. Like any writer, I’m inspired by my own obsessions and life experiences as I start to build the story. Then I start brainstorming scenes and braid them into about 55-60 scenes that make up a cohesive plot. After that I write up a character list and a 2500-3000 word synopsis and send it to my editor for approval. Assuming it’s approved, I dream of writing one-three thousand words a day consistently and finishing a draft in three months, but usually I have to stop and start as other commitments hit. Eventually I do a couple of more drafts with beta reader input before sending it into my editor to start the official publishing process.

DF: What are you working on now?

HR: I am in book release mania right now, with two July 31st releases, A Tale of Two Murders as Heather Redmond and Krinar Solace as Heather Hiestand. I’m past the halfway point on drafting the third Dickens mystery, but it gets picked up and dropped as I have time.

A Tale of Two Murders releases today!   Purchase

If you’d like to connect with Heather on social media her links are below:

Website     Blog     Facebook     Twitter     Pinterest    Instagram

Heather Redmond is an author of commercial fiction. First published in mystery, she took a long detour through romance before returning. Though her last known British ancestor departed London in the 1920s, she is a committed anglophile, Dickens devotee, and lover of all things nineteenth century. She was ridiculously excited to make contact with second cousins in England this year for the first time.

As Heather Hiestand, she has completed two linked romance series with her publisher, Kensington, the late-Victorian set Redcakes, a seven-book series with action set all over the United Kingdom, and the 1920s-set and London-based Grand Russe Hotel, three books. She wrote five novels under this name for another publisher, has three self-published novels, and many, many novellas. Her 1837-set historical novel, The Princess Dilemma, features Dickens’s novels in the plot. Yet another pen name, Anh Leod, is largely defunct but some of the titles are still available.HeatherRedmondheadshot2

In a 2017 review, Author Patricia V. Davis said of Heather’s novel If I Had You, “This novel brought me back to my teen years when I would get A’s on my history tests, not because I’d retained the material from boring school textbooks, but because I’d read about the time period and events from a well-researched, thoughtfully written historical romance novel, with an unforgettable and intriguing heroine and hero. This author delivers all of that, and more.” Heather’s response was to take her detailed research out of the romance field and move on to historical mystery!

She has lived in Illinois, California, and Texas, and now resides in a small town in Washington State with her husband and son. All her schooling was in the Seattle area and she graduated from Roosevelt High School and the University of Washington, where she edited the English Department’s literary magazine for two years. Her titles have achieved best-seller status at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Her 2018 Heather Redmond debut, A Tale of Two Murders, has received a coveted starred review from Kirkus Reviews.





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Release Party!

The release party for A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder at Aunt Agatha’s Mystery  Bookshop in Ann Arbor, Michigan was so much fun! We had books and cake, cocktails and appetizers, readers and friends, but the big hit of the party were the life-size characters from the book cover–Lady Harleigh and her anonymous villain! Di and cutouts

Apologies to those of you reading this on the Goodreads blog. The pictures never come across and this post is all about the pictures. If you want to take a look this link will take you directly to this post on my site.

Robin Agnew could not have been a better host, organizing the event, a fun Q&A, then on to cake, and book signing!

Author - Dianne Freeman

signing and line

Author - Dianne Freeman

While this looks totally normal from my side of the pen, this is my first glimpse of how left-handed writing looks to others! I’ll admit, it’s a little strange!

Then on to the after party around the corner at the Arbor Brewing Company–and more fun with the cutouts!

Tim as villain

Thanks to everyone who attended and helped to make it a great release party!

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Thank you!

A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder released last week and I want to thank everyone who made it such a memorable day! The release party is still to come but release day was the most fun I’ve ever had on social media thanks to friends, family, and the whole writing community.

I also want to thank everyone who bought a copy. Thanks for taking a chance on an unknown author. I hope the book ireviewss as much fun for you to read as it was for me to write. For those of you still on the fence, you should know the e-book of A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder is on sale everywhere today for $2.99. I have no idea how long this will last, but if the book is on your “want to read” shelf, now’s the time to buy.

Lastly, I have one more favor to ask–a review. If you’ve read the book and enjoyed it please take a few minutes to leave a review wherever you purchased it. Books are largely sold through recommendation and every review helps. Reviews can determine if a bookstore carries a book or if Amazon includes it in their marketing. Just a few words will do.

Thank you all so much!





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Authors ’18 Facebook Party

Summer reading list

If you’re looking for some new books you should check out Authors ’18 We’re 120 authors with debut novels releasing this year in all genres. If you’re looking to win some new books, join us on Facebook June 18th for the Summer Reading List Party!

Find out more here:Authors ’18, here:Website, and here:Facebook page

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Review: The Kiss Quotient

The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient, #1)The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this story. It’s fun, sweet, hot, and sexy in equal measure. Stella is a smart, successful econometrician with a high functioning form of autism. She’s socially awkward and has difficulty with relationships but she also has a mother eager for grandchildren. What’s a sensible, pragmatic woman to do? Hire an escort to help her practice being in a relationship.

Enter Michael, sexy, sensitive, and responsible, struggling with debt and a secret, which is why he takes the job. Did I mention he was sexy?

Their attraction is undeniable and their professional relationship slowly becomes very personal. Each brings out the best in the other. The chemistry is great. The honesty is both humorous and refreshing. A captivating read. I’m ready for the next book–and the movie!

View all my reviews

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Interview with Debra Sennefelder

I recently had an opportunity to talk with author Debra Sennefelder about writing her debut novel, The Uninvited Corpse, the first in The Food Blogger Series. Here’s a little bit about the book:

Leaving behind a failed career as a magazine editor and an embarrassing stint on a reality baking show, newly divorced lifestyle entrepreneur Hope Early thought things were finally on the upswing–until she comes face-to-face with a murderer . . .
TheUninvitedCorpseCoveHope’s schedule is already jam packed with recipe testing and shameless plugs for her food blog as she rushes off to attend a spring garden tour in the charming town of Jefferson, Connecticut. Unfortunately, it isn’t the perfectly arranged potted plants that grab her attention– it’s the bloody body of reviled real estate agent Peaches McCoy . . .
One of the tour guests committed murder, and all eyes are on Hope’s younger sister, Claire Dixon–who, at best, saw Peaches as a professional rival. And suspicions really heat up when another murder occurs the following night. Now, with two messy murders shaking Jefferson and all evidence pointing to Claire, Hope must set aside her burgeoning brand to prove her sister’s innocence. But the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer intent on making sure her life goes permanently out of style . . .

I enjoyed the heck out of this book. Where did you get the idea?
I was between manuscripts, at the time I was writing a romantic suspense series and I thought about trying to write a cozy again (I’d written one years ago) and thought it would be fun to make the amateur sleuth a food blogger, since I’d been one previously and culinary mysteries were hot. Then the story started to come together over a few weeks and I wrote the first three chapters and sent them off to my critique partner. She loved the pages so I continued.

Are your characters based on real people, or do they come from your imagination?

My characters are not based on real people, but I would say that some of the characters have personality traits or quirks from real people I’ve met.

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?

Writing is the top priority of any working day and once that’s done I’ll focus on other tasks such as writing blog posts, promotion or anything else that pops up such as copy edits for another book or page proofs to read for a manuscript just months from being published. Writing full-time sometimes means that I’m working on weekends and holidays. And when I’m writing a first draft I often work beyond the regular work week. I’m finding that each stage of the writing process is handled differently. First drafts are fast and furious and intense while second and third drafts are slower and take longer. I also have to schedule time to develop and test recipes for the books so it’s not unusual to find me baking in the afternoon and me saying “I’m working”.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love to cook and bake, of course! I also love to exercise (yes, really) and I enjoy a good shopping expedition. In the evenings I love to read and work on a cross-stitch project.

What are you working on right now?
I’ve just turned in the Murder Wears a Little Black Dress, the first book in the Resale Boutique Mystery series to my editor and I’m now writing the third book in the Food Blogger Mystery series and outlining the second book in the Resale Boutique Mystery Series.

Thanks for stopping by, Debra!CroppedHeadShot

Murder Wears a Little Black Dress releases in January 2019.
The Uninvited Corpse is available now.
If you want to connect with Debra, here’s where you can find her:

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Introducing Frances Wynn


Greetings from London, 1899. My name is Frances, Countess of Harleigh and I’m delighted to be sharing a bit about my life with you today.

You may be wondering how I, an American born in Akron, Ohio, became a Countess. The answer, quite simply, is that I owe it to my mother. A decade ago, while my father applied himself to the stock market, my mother, Violet Price set about working her way into New York Society, a daunting task to set oneself.

She failed miserably. The Knickerbocker set simply couldn’t abide the odor of new money. But when my mother heard of the success in London of Lillian Hammersley, Jennie Jerome, and many other girls, she contrived a new plan. She’d launch me onto London Society as the latest American heiress. The soul of efficiency, it took her less than a week to choose my future husband, Reginald Wynn, Earl of Harleigh.

My mother loved Reggie’s title and Reggie loved my money so I suppose one could call it a love match. I went along with the plan. I thought it would be great fun to marry a young, dashing lord. Indeed it was, until just after the wedding when my mother returned to New York, and Reggie returned to his friends and mistresses in town, and left me at the old pile—that’s what they call the ancient manor house.

Through the nine years of our marriage, Reggie remained constant—devoted to my dowry and unfaithful to me right up to the day he died. I never wished him any ill, he was the father of our daughter after all, but I couldn’t help but thrill at the prospect of freedom. Well, I did more than just shiver with excitement. During my mourning period, I made plans to move out on my own and away from my grasping in-laws. Reggie’s brother was the new earl and our arguments over money had become a daily ritual. But in just a few more days, I’ll have my own household.

Well, I won’t be entirely alone. My mother plans a return trip to her old hunting ground to bag another title for the family. After all, she considered my marriage a success, why not marry off my sister, Lily and make some other lord very wealthy.

I mean—happy.

This new stage of my life should be quite busy. I’ll be back in town to visit with my old friends. I must vet Lily’s suitors and at least attempt to keep my mother from matching her with some decrepit duke or marquess. I’ve heard there’ve been some mysterious burglaries in Mayfair and Belgravia but surely a burglar won’t bother with my meager household. And I understand an Inspector Delaney has been asking about me, though I can’t imagine what he wants. Heavens, my life has become so intriguing, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone wrote a book about me.

I’m joking, of course.

Advance Praise For A Lady’s Guide To Etiquette And Murder
“A delightful tale of shenanigans among the British aristocracy. Lady Frances feels very real—not too smart and spunky but no shrinking violet either.” –Rhys Bowen, New York Times bestselling author of the Royal Spyness and Molly Murphy mysteries

“Lady Harleigh must rally the support of friends and an attractive neighbor to untangle her affairs in this engrossing tale of aristocratic intrigue. Freeman vividly portrays the opulence of late Victorian life among the British upper crust as Lady Harleigh takes us into the exclusive ballrooms and drawing rooms of London society in 1899. Deception and trickery abound and nothing is exactly as it seems.” –Rosemary Simpson, author of Lies That Comfort and Betray

“Dianne Freeman has penned a mystery that’s witty and fun, with just the right amount of danger and romance to keep you turning pages.” –Alyssa Maxwell, author of A Devious Death

“A fantastic blend of history, mystery and humor. I did not want to put it down. Perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer.” –Darcie Wilde, National bestselling author of A Useful Woman and A Purely Private Matter

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