Psst, over here. Yes, pretend you don’t see me, but come closer, please. I’m trying not to attract the attention of my Vanderbilt aunts, Alice and Alva. They squabble over everything these days, because each is intent on staking her claim as society’s The Mrs. Vanderbilt. Normally I let them wrangle if it makes them happy, except that upon occasion I find myself caught in the middle of their determined and opposing wills. Aunt Alice’s main peeve with me arises from 1) my driving my own carriage and working as a society reporter for a local newspaper, and 2) her not having successfully married me off to a suitable gentleman thus far. Very well, I can contend with that. However, presently, it’s Aunt Alva making unreasonable demands of me, of a nature that requires me to compromise my values and my very integrity.
At one point she actually had me backed up against the wall in the Gold Ballroom at Marble House, and I knew full well I would go nowhere until I agreed to do her bidding. No, she didn’t actually say, “Or else,” but the implied sentiment struck like a blunt object between my shoulder blades as I headed toward the Grand Staircase and my cousin’s bedroom upstairs. The matter in question? Aunt Alva wants me to convince her daughter, Consuelo, to marry a man she abhors. He needs her money, and Aunt Alva has decided the family needs a duchess.
Never mind that I’ve managed to elude an arranged marriage for myself until the ripe old age of twenty-one. Never mind that I believe all women should have the right to choose the course of their own future and have the freedom follow their dreams the same as any man. But Consuelo trusts me. She looks up to me. She has always confided in me, and now Aunt Alva wants me to use that influence to persuade an eighteen-year-old girl that I believe this marriage will be for the best.
In other words, I am required to speak bald-faced lies. I believe I mentioned at the outset, dear friends, that I am a journalist, and lately my interests have expanded well beyond my Fancies and Fashions page. Truth matters to me. It is, in essence, my way of life. Lies, therefore, are abhorrent.
But here’s the rub, the very worst of the matter. I could certainly refuse Aunt Alva and bear the consequences, but if I don’t convince Consuelo to marry Charles Spencer-Churchill, ninth Duke of Marlborough, her mother will force the issue and in the end Consuelo will become the man’s wife anyway, but she’ll do so with a good deal more misery than if she willingly walks down the aisle. Aunt Alva is nothing if not determined and with that legendary temper of hers, no one, but no one, will stand up to her. Even her husband, my uncle Willie K., has fled the matrimonial battlefield by retreating to his yacht on Narragansett Bay.
I ask you then, reader, what would you do in my position? Any suggestions left below will be greatly appreciated; indeed, one lucky adviser will win a copy of my dossier, Murder at Marble House, which will enable you to judge whether, in the end, I did wrongly or rightly. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end October 1, 2014.
MURDER AT MARBLE HOUSE, Coming September 30, 2014
Responding to a frantic call on her newfangled telephone from her eighteen-year-old cousin, Consuelo Vanderbilt, Emma Cross arrives at the Marble House mansion and learns the cause of her distress–Consuelo’s mother, Alva, is forcing her into marriage with the Duke of Marlborough. Her mother has even called in a fortune teller to assure Consuelo of a happy future.
But the future is short-lived for the fortune teller, who is found dead by her crystal ball, strangled with a silk scarf. Standing above her is one of the Vanderbilts’ maids, who is promptly taken into police custody. After the frenzy has died down, Consuelo is nowhere to be found. At Alva’s request, Emma must employ her sleuthing skills to determine if the vanishing Vanderbilt has eloped with the beau of her choice–or if her disappearance may be directly connected to the murder. . .
Meet the Author
Alyssa Maxwell, author of The Gilded Newport Mysteries, began a love affair with the city of Newport while visiting friends there back in her high school days. Time and again the harbor side, gas lit neighborhoods drew her to return, and on one of those later visits she met the man who would become her husband.
Today, she and her husband reside beneath the palms and bright skies of Florida, but part of her heart remains firmly in that small New England city of great historical significance. The first in the Gilded Newport Mysteries, Murder at the Breakers, was released in March 2014, to be followed by MURDER AT MARBLE HOUSE in September of this year. For more about Alyssa and her books, please visit her at www.alyssamaxwell.com.