This book was one of my lovely CBR8 book exchange gifts from Scootsa1000. It is what I asked for and I was not disappointed. I was up reading this at 2am when my husband woke up and freaked out that I was still awake, so I can thank him for the 5 hours of sleep I got, because I’m sure I would have read until the end of the book/sunrise otherwise.
Deanna Randolph is an heiress and debutante in 1895. Her father is a co-owner of a sugar manufacturing company and owns a house in Newport, Rhode Island. Deanna is spending the summer months there when a maid is suddenly found murdered on the cliffs outside one of the mansions during a ball. Deanna teams up with her ladies’ maid, her sort of ex-fiance, a detective with the police force, and an eccentric grandmother to discover who is the murderer.
I hate writing up the plots for mysteries. I’m always terrified I’m going to give something away. So, I will just say a few things about the story and stay away from any details. I will say that the conclusion to the mystery was not super exciting, and even the clues that were figured out were not exactly hard to guess, but I
I love Newport, and that is what drew me to this book. I vacationed there with my family a long time ago and have always wanted to go back. Having been in the mansions and along the Cliff Walk made this book much more real for me, and I loved it. I judged a book by its cover, and it paid off. Though I will say – the Tasha Alexander quote on the cover made me nervous. I tried one of her books last year based on a CBR review and just really didn’t click with it.
I was hesitant when I started because Deanna seemed a very young 18, but I was pleasantly surprised with how that turned out. Her lack of experience with the world keeps her questioning people and their relationships, and she is very modern minded and fun. I look forward to her transformation over the next books in the series. The supporting cast of characters is interesting too. I loved her maid and their relationship. I thought that Freydont did a good job with the upstairs/downstairs dynamic. The police detective is a great character too. He was friends with Deanna and family socially but has fallen because he is interested in forensics and works as a policeman.
Deanna’s family had tried to arrange a marriage between her and Joe Ballard, but the match fell apart before the book opens because Joe has abandoned society life to be an inventor. Joe was Deanna’s (deceased) brother’s best friend, his father is business partners with Deanna’s father, and the two have also been friends for years. My romance loving heart is very excited for the clear relationship that is going to develop over the course of these books. They are obviously meant to be together and I liked their interactions. The best character though is clearly Joe’s grandmother. She is everything I want to be when I grow up, but suspect I won’t ever get there as I am not fabulously wealthy or sought after by men everywhere. 😛 The point being – the mystery itself is only so-so, but the setting and the characters are what make the book.
With some of the things going on in our society now, I found the Gilded Age setting particularly interesting. I sometimes forget how recently monopolies ruled the economy and the disgusting wealth that went with that, and I thought this was a good reminder. The social interactions between the ‘commoners’ and the ‘cottagers’ (because a house that cost the equivalent of $300M in today’s dollars is merely a cottage) were very interesting and well written.
I was lucky enough to receive the next book in the series as part of the exchange, so I have that joy waiting for me. I have a few other things to get through first, and I’ve put it aside as a treat to look forward to. But, I won’t be waiting very long to get to it. I already stalked the author’s website looking to see if there will be more in the series and was disappointed to see that there are no upcoming release dates listed.