Bran New DeathA normal day in my life? Right now there is no normal. Not too long ago I was assistant to a diva fashion model, and before that I was a stylist. I didn’t do hair, I didn’t do make up, I ‘styled’; that is, I coordinated a ‘look’ for a client. I love fashion and like dressing up, even if I am plus-sized. It’s all in knowing how to dress, no matter your size or shape!

But now that the aforementioned diva fashion model fired me? Now I’m trying to figure out how to spiff up an eighteenth century American castle so I can sell it. To make a long story short, my great uncle, Melvyn Wynter – who I didn’t even know was alive and hadn’t seen except for once when I was five – left me Wynter Castle in upstate New York. It’s an amazing property, but impossible for one person to look after or keep. I have to sell it, even though I’m really beginning to like the folks of Autumn Vale, the nearby town.

A side comment is needed here before I do any complaining; I know I’m lucky to have a castle left to me. But it’s kind of like being left a perfect, fabulous, historical diamond necklace; I can’t afford to keep it, and no one else can afford to buy it. So what do I do? I love it: can’t keep it: can’t seem to sell it.

Now, on to talking about life at Wynter Castle: the very first day I came to Autumn Vale I met Gogi Grace, and learned that she was the owner of a retirement home and that she wanted me to make muffins for them. I make fabulous muffins… carrot, bran, banana, chocolate chip, you name it, I make it. I am doing as she asks, of course; I have a feeling no one says ‘no’ to Gogi.

But I’m kind of wondering if the muffins are an excuse for her to come out to see the castle and maybe to feel me out, find out more about me. I understand that folks in town are wondering what I’m up to. There seems to be a certain amount of ill will and suspicion out there directed toward my great uncle. I am surrounded by mysteries. No one will talk about Melvyn’s death. No one will talk about why they think he killed his business partner, Rusty Turner and buried him on the castle property. Even Doc English, who was my uncle’s old friend, won’t say a whole lot.

By now I think you can see why there is no normal ‘day in the life of Merry Wynter’ in Autumn Vale. Wish me luck. Wish me a LOT of luck.


You can read more about Merry in Bran New Death, the first book in the new “Merry Muffin” mystery series by Victoria Hamilton, published by Berkley Prime Crime and released on September 3rd.


Thanks to Penguin, I have one (1) copy of BRAN NEW DEATH to give away. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. Contest ends September 11; US entries only per publisher’s request.


Bran New Death Synopsis: When Merry Wynter discovered that she inherited a genuine American Castle in the ‘wilds’ of upstate New York, her first reaction was to contact a real estate agent to sell it, sight unseen. Things were a little complicated, what with a lunatic employer making her life miserable. But after losing her job and with the castle not sold, Merry decides to trek to Wynter Castle to see what the problem is.

One barrier to selling is immediately evident; someone is digging giant holes on the property! Merry accuses local Tom Turner of being her late night gopher and warns him to stay off her property, or else, but it happens again. Merry storms out to confront whomever is doing the damage, but doesn’t count on finding a dead man at the bottom of the hole.

What is going on at Wynter Castle and in Autumn Vale? How can Merry convince hunky sheriff Virgil Grace that she is not the one who bashed the victim over the head?

Check out Bran New Death and Victoria Hamilton’s other series, the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries at Victoria’s website, on personal page Facebook, on Merry Muffin Facebook page or on Twitter.

Meet the author
Victoria Hamilton, nationally bestselling author of the Vintage Kitchen Mystery series, is the pseudonym of Donna Lea Simpson, bestselling author of romance and historical mystery novels.

Victoria starting reading mystery novels at the age of 12 and devoured Agatha Christie mysteries, as well as those of Dorothy L. Sayers and Ngaio Marsh. She still adores mysteries, especially the cozy mysteries of Janet Bolin, Krista Davis, and others.

She loves to cook, and collects teapots and teacups, as well as vintage kitchen utensils and bowls. She also enjoys crafts, especially cross-stitching and crocheting, and spends summer days in the garden, drinking tea or wine. Besides the Merry Muffin Mystery series, Victoria writes another mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime, the Vintage Kitchen Mystery series; Book 3, Freezer I’ll Shoot debuts November 5th.

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