A Day in the Life of Elspeth O’Laren by Shelley Freydont

A Gilded GraveMy name’s Elspeth O’Laren and I’m lady’s maid to Miss Deanna Randolph. I’m not your typical lady’s maid, because I’m not refined, but I’m smart and I learn fast and I was conveniently at hand when her mother decided Miss Deanna needed a maid. Some of us were surprised she even noticed. She pays most of her attention to Miss Deanna’s older sister, Adelaide. She says Adelaide was made for society. I say Miss Deanna is made for anything she sets her mind on.

We already had “the season” in New York City and now we’ve come to Newport for the summer season. The Newport season only lasts about six weeks and I wish it was longer, because my family lives in the Fifth Ward here.

The Fifth Ward is where the working people live. And some that don’t work so much. I was born and raised here, but my ma came over on the boat from Ireland. My brother Orrin works for Mr. Joseph Ballard. He’s really rich and until last year he lived in his family cottage on the cliffs. They call all the big houses here cottages but they look more like castles to me. Or at least my idea of castles, I’ve never actually seen one myself.

We all thought he and Miss Deanna would get married. They were even almost engaged, but something went off, and now he lives in the Fifth and works on his inventions. She just made her debut, and her mother’s been trying to marry her off to every eligible rich man that comes along.

I spend everyday helping her to dress and to undress and keeping her clothes mended and in order. These ladies change clothes sometimes eight times a day. They go on morning visits, then to luncheon, sometimes at a cottage, or a yacht, sometimes “al fresco” which means eating outside. Ugh. Then there’s tennis, and sea bathing, and driving up and down Bellevue Avenue just to see the same people everyday, and ones they’ll probably see that night at some ball or soiree or other. And everything they do has to have a different dress.

But at night when all the folderol is over and the last dress is hung up and I’m brushing out her hair, she reads our favorite stories out loud. She keeps a stash of Dime Novels under her bed so’s no one can find them. They’re not proper reading material, says Mrs. Randolph, especially the detective stories, which we like best. Miss Deanna’s favorite lady detective is Kate Goelet, who’s young and beautiful and really smart. Sort of like Miss Deanna. I prefer Cad Metti, she’s street smart, dresses in disguises, and can fight with her fists. She’s not afraid of anybody.

I guess all our reading has rubbed off on us, because we actually had to help solve a murder just a few weeks ago. Frankly, it’s safer to read about detecting than actually doing it. We had to engage in some pretty unladylike things—dangerous things. And we were in constant anxiety that Mrs. Randolph would find out and give me the sack and send Miss Deanna to her Aunt Harriett.

But in the end justice rained. Yes, I know it’s really “reigned.” I went to school—all the way to eighth grade. But I like to think of justice coming down in big wet drops over the whole world. Because we could really use some justice, especially in the Fifth Ward. Ma says it’s always been like that since the beginning of time. Those that have and want more—and the rest of us.

Miss Deanna says the world is changing and she wants to be a part of it. That won’t be easy, because her mother doesn’t like change at all. For me? I’m true blue to Miss Deanna and if she’s determined to become one of those “modern” women, I want to be one too.


You can read more about Elspeth in A Gilded Grave, the first book in the NEW “Newport Gilded Age” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime.

About A Gilded Grave

In 1895, the height of the Gilded Age, the social elite spend their summers in Newport, Rhode Island. Within the walls of their fabulous “cottages,” competition for superiority is ruthless . . . and so are the players.

During her first Newport season, Deanna Randolph attends a ball given in honor of Lord David Manchester, a Barbadian sugar magnate, and his sister, Madeline. The Manchesters are an immediate success—along with their exotic manservant and his fortune-telling talents.

But on the nearby cliffs, a young maid lies dead—and suspicion falls on Joseph Ballard, a member of one of the town’s most prestigious families.

Joe humiliated Deanna when he rebuffed an engagement to her, but while he may be a cad, she knows he isn’t a killer. Now the reluctant allies must navigate a world of parties, tennis matches, and séances to find the real murderer. But a misstep among the glittering upper classes could leave them exposed to something far more dangerous than malicious gossip. . .

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GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on August 11 for the chance to win a print copy of A Gilded Grave. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. 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.

About the author
Shelley Freydont is the author of the Liv Montgomery Celebration Bay Mysteries, and the Newport Gilded ShelleyFreydontAge Mysteries, beginning with A Gilded Grave.

As Shelley Noble, she is the NY Times Best selling author of women’s fiction, most recently, Whisper Beach. A former professional dancer and choreographer, Shelley lives at the Jersey shore and loves puzzles, light houses and antique carousels. She also loves to hear from readers.

Visit Shelley at www.shelleyfreydont.com or www.shelleynoble.com

42 responses to “A Day in the Life of Elspeth O’Laren by Shelley Freydont

  1. This new book looks like a great historical mystery. I can’t wait to read it.

  2. I haven’t read any books by Shelley Freydont, but A Gilded Grave sounds like a winner. I will add it to my TBR list. Thank you for the chance to win a copy of the book.
    myrifraf(at)gmail(dot)com

  3. This new series sounds like a great new start to a historical mystery series. Thanks for the giveaway.

  4. Debbie Carnes

    Sounds good, on my TRL

  5. The cover looks lovely and I enjoy historical mysteries, so I am looking forward to this new series. Thanks for the giveaway.

  6. I can’t pass up a chance to win a book whose heroine is named Deanna!

  7. I’ve never read this author, but I like historical mysteries. Thanks for the opportunity to win.

  8. Love historical mysteries, thanks for the chance to win 🙂

  9. The cover looks lovely … I enjoy historical mysteries. Thanks for the giveaway.

  10. I can never get enough of Historical mysteries:) Looking forward to this one:) Thank you Dru

  11. For those of you who have never picked up book by Shelley I suggest you do. I’ve enjoyed her mysteries as well as her women’s fiction.
    Shelley I can’t wait to start this new series the buzz and reviews are outstanding. All the best!

  12. Brian Frauenknecht

    I love her Celebration Bay mysteries, and have been wanting to read this one. I would love to win this. Thanks Dru

  13. This sounds fascinating, and I can’t wait to meet these two unconventional young ladies! Really hope I win!

  14. Hey Dru, I’ve actually visited many of those “Cottages” while on vacation. We even done the cliff walk. That is a trail running along the cliffs on the water side of the “Cottages”.

    We visited there about 7 years ago. We even stopped at the Newport Temple where an ancestor of mine was the Rabbi (Rabbi Seixas). .

    I’d love to win this book to add to my home library.

  15. elainehroberson

    Always like to try new (to me) authors. Thanks for the chance.

  16. What a marvelous setting and time for a mystery. I want this one!

  17. This is a new author and series for me. The setting is an era I find interesting so I am sure I would find it enjoyable. robeader53@yahoo.com

  18. Celia Fowler

    Wow, this book sounds really intriguing. Thanks for the giveaway!

  19. Thanks for this great historical mystery which sounds intriguing and unique.

  20. I’m into things Irish currently, so this fits the bill. Please count me in. Thanks.

  21. Elspeth and Miss Deanna sound like quite a pair. I’d love to know where their story goes from here. Thanks

  22. Sounds like an interesting story about a different way of life and a spunky lady’s maid. Thanks for the giveaway.

  23. Patricia Pinkston

    A Gilded Grave sounds terrific! Would love to win a copy. Thanks for the giveaway.

  24. This sounds incredible! Another promising series from Shelley Freydont!

  25. I LOVE this cover!! & I LOVE first books in a new series!!!
    Thank you for the giveaway….

  26. nice cover

  27. I read her Celebration Bay series and would love to start this series..

  28. I really enjoy the Celebration Bay series so I am looking forword to this new series. Congrats

  29. I haven’t read anything by Shelley Freydont yet, but this book does look good and will be added to my TBR list. Also, love that cover. 🙂

  30. Exciting read. Love the title.

  31. Christi King

    Sounds good!

  32. I love reading about strong women. The point of view from the maid and friend is unique. This book can only entertain.

  33. Love the name of the character. So pretty. Thank you for the chance.

  34. Another new series and an interesting historical time period. Thanks for the chance to win!

  35. I really enjoy historical mysteries so this is right up my alley. Thank you so much for chance to win.

  36. I enjoy historical novels. This looks like a good one!

  37. I do like historical mysteries and this sounds good.

  38. I’ve been into the culinary-themed cozies, but this book causes me to expand my interests. Thank you for a great review.

  39. I love historical mysteries.

  40. Historical fiction and especially mysteries are my favorite genre

  41. the cover reminded me of Victoria Holt books – i love the time period of this novel. does Deanna and Elspeth work together to solve this mystery?

  42. Contest is closed.