I awoke the other day to an eerie keening of the wind and believed the ocean had delivered a storm to our shores here on Aquidneck Island. Although the sudden nature of the storm puzzled me—there hadn’t been the slightest indication the previous night—I turned over and tried to go back to sleep. But the winds had other ideas and kept sending up cries to echo beneath the eaves of my house, yanking me from sleep each time my eyes fell closed.
I padded my way downstairs to discover the other inhabitants of Gull Manor, my seaside home, awake as well. These included Nanny, my housekeeper and surrogate grandmother; Katie, our maid-of-all work who came to Gull Manor after deplorable circumstances led to her dismissal from employment at The Breakers a year ago; and a temporary guest, Stella, bruised and demoralized the night she turned up on my doorstep, but determined to forge a better life for herself away from the sailors, dockhands, and, yes, wealthy men of lewd tastes who mistreated her. We had all been roused from our beds by the same noisy squall—and yet were baffled by the blue skies that greeted us when we opened our curtains. Were we all hearing things? Dreaming the same dream?
But there was little time to ponder. We had the day’s food to prepare and laundry to wash. Barney, my aging roan hack, needed tending. And I had articles to write, for though I’m part Vanderbilt by heritage, none of the family fortune has trickled down to me. I have my home and a modest annuity left to me by my great aunt Sadie—a Newporter through and through and something of a suffragette—and I have my independence, which I treasure. But remaining independent means, much to my Vanderbilt relatives’ chagrin, that I must work, and so I write articles for the Newport Observer, being one of few women in a man’s profession, even if my employer believes female reporters should concentrate on balls, fashions, and other society news. Humph. I have proved him wrong a time or two.
But I would write no articles that morning. I was on my way from the morning room to the front door to see if the morning paper had come when the elusive storm once more kicked up with a mournful wail that crawled inside me until I trembled. Determined to get to the bottom of whatever strange weather phenomenon this was, I hurried to the front door and tossed it open, ready for the blustery onslaught…only to fall to my knees in shock.
Here was no storm, no oddity of nature, but a baby, swaddled, tucked into a basket, and left, red faced with crying, on my doorstep.
Who is he? Who left him? And most pressing of all, is there a connection between this poor mite and the man I later discovered was found dead—shot—not two miles from my house? If so, is the child himself in danger?
These are the questions I must answer, dear readers, and I ask you for your help. Accompany me during my search, which will take me to Mrs. Astor’s Beechwood estate for a Season opening gala; to the New York Yacht Club, the hospital, the Point section of Newport, a lonely railroad track, and a grand steamer anchored in the harbor. Together we’ll ask questions, we’ll poke about, and we will prevail. We must. A tiny, precious individual is depending on us.
You can read more about Emma in Murder at Beechwood, the third book in the “Gilded Newport” mystery series, published by Kensington. The first two books in the series are Murder at the Breakers and Murder at Marble House.
About Murder At Beechwood
For Newport, Rhode Island’s high society, the summer of 1896 brings lawn parties, sailboat races. . .and murder.
Having turned down the proposal of Derrick Andrews, Emma Cross has no imminent plans for matrimony—let alone motherhood. But when she discovers an infant left on her doorstep, she naturally takes the child into her care. Using her influence as a cousin to the Vanderbilts and a society page reporter for the Newport Observer, Emma launches a discreet search for the baby’s mother.
One of her first stops is a lawn party at Mrs. Caroline Astor’s Beechwood estate. But an idyllic summer’s day is soon clouded by tragedy. During a sailboat race, textile magnate Virgil Monroe falls overboard. There are prompt accusations of foul play—and even Derrick Andrews falls under suspicion. Deepening the intrigue, a telltale slip of lace may link the abandoned child to the drowned man. But as Emma navigates dark undercurrents of scandalous indiscretions and violent passions, she’ll need to watch her step to ensure that no one lowers the boom on her. . .
Giveaway: Tell me, what is the oddest, most unexpected thing that has ever happened to you? Was it a positive experience, or not so much? Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on June 1 to be entered in a drawing to win either a signed print copy (U.S. only) or an Audible edition (open to all) of my previous book, Murder At Marble House. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your SPAM folder.
About the Author
Alyssa Maxwell is the author of the Gilded Newport Mysteries and, beginning January 2016, A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mysteries, beginning with Murder Most Malicious set in England in 1918. She lives in South Florida in the current year, but confesses to spending most of her time in the Victorian, Edwardian, and post WWI eras. In addition to fantasizing about wearing Worth gowns and strolling manor house gardens, she loves to watch BBC and other period productions and sip tea in the afternoons. she positively loves writing historical mysteries, and is currently working on the fourth Gilded Newport Mystery, Murder At Rough Point. You can learn more about Alyssa and her books at www.alyssamaxwell.com, and friend her on Facebook.