A Day in the Life of Miss Eva Huntsford by Alyssa Maxwell

Murder Most MaliciousMy day begins with the rising of the sun. I have a quick cup of tea, with a scone and porridge brought to my room by one of the kitchen maids, wash, dress, and hurry belowstairs to finish up any work on my ladies’ wardrobes not completed the day before. I should mention that I attend not one but three young ladies, all granddaughters of the Earl of Wroxly. Poor dears, orphaned when their mother died in childbirth, and then a second time when their papa died in the Great War. There is Lady Julia, the eldest and most beautiful—but who shows the world an icy mask. I, of course, know better. Then the youngest, sweet houseAmelia, always concerned about the welfare of others and generous to a fault. There is also a brother, Viscount Foxwood, a youngster who enjoys taxing the patience of family and servants alike. But it is to the middle sister, Phoebe—plainer than her sisters but spirited, big-hearted, and clever, to whom I confess to feeling the most devotion.

As a lady’s maid, my days are filled with the minutest details of clothing, hairstyles, jewelry, shoes, costumeperfumes—in short, all that goes into my ladies presenting their very best and most fashionable selves to the world. I must at all times be ready to wield a needle and thread, an iron, hairpin, or merely an honest and well-informed opinion about a hemline, collar width, or the placement of a sash. In my spare time I study the latest fashion plates from Paris. I learn the names of the foremost designers, the finest cosmetics, the latest scents, and whether hair should be piled high or allowed to frame the face in curls.

I consider myself a proficient lady’s maid, yet few of those skills would serve me during the events that began on Boxing Day, 1918—our first Christmas following the end of the war. A happy time, one would think, a time of peace and contentment. But no, after discovering a grisly surprise in my Christmas Box, giftusually filled with small delights from the Renshaw family for myself and my parents, I was suddenly leaving heaps of fine linen un-ironed and boots unpolished in order to not only track down a murderer, but find the victim himself. How did we know he’d fallen prey to a most malicious crime? In the interest of delicacy, I will leave you to discover that in due course.

But I had little choice in what followed. With a footman accused and Lady Phoebe determined to prove the carpolice wrong, what else could I do but staunchly follow my mistress who admittedly possesses an impulsive nature and but a small sense of what is best for her? How could I not traipse through a snowy forest in the bitter cold because she had a hunch she knew where the body might be hidden? How could I not motor about with her in that little deathtrap she calls an automobile so we might ask questions in the village? How could I not snoop around belowstairs and break the servants’ code of ethics by asking leading questions of my fellow employees—knowing full well that in clearing one man’s name, I might incriminate another? How could I not conspire with Ladies Phoebe and Amelia to search the bedroom of a guest? Risky business all of it, and could easily have resulted in my towngetting the sack or worse—harm to my precious Lady Phoebe and myself. Ah, but here perhaps is the most important duty of a devoted lady’s maid, especially when one’s mistress is still quite young—to be her friend though I can never be her equal, shield her as much as possible from life’s unpleasantness, guard her against all risks to her sterling reputation, help guide her without seeming to, and advise her without speaking out of turn.

And did I mention that during all this intrigue, I was still expected to attend my three ladies, their wardrobes, and their bedrooms? And, because the war has left us shorthanded, as did our head footman’s being sent to jail, I added kitchen helper to my list of duties. My goodness, I’ll be happy once spring arrives. Mrs. Sanders, our housekeeper, has placed several ads in our local newspapers, and with luck the empty positions will be filled. Then life on our lovely country estate can return to its usual genteel pace . . .

Or will it?

You can read more about Miss Eva in Murder Most Malicious, the first book in the NEW “Lady and Lady’s Maid” mystery series, published by Kensington.

About Murder Most Malicious

December 1918: As a difficult year draws to a close, there is much to celebrate for nineteen-year-old Phoebe Renshaw and her three siblings at their beloved family estate of Foxwood Hall. The dreadful war is finally over; eldest daughter Julia’s engagement to their houseguest, the Marquis of Allerton, appears imminent; and all have gathered to enjoy peace on earth, good will toward men.

But the peace of Foxwood Hall is shattered on the morning of Boxing Day, when the Marquis goes missing. Not entirely missing, however, as macabre evidence of foul play turns up in gift boxes given to lady’s maid Eva Huntford and a handful of others. Having overheard her sister and the Marquis in a heated exchange the night before, Lady Phoebe takes a personal interest in solving the mystery.

As the local constable suspects a footman at Foxwood Hall, Phoebe and Eva follow the clues to a different conclusion. But both young women will need to think outside the box to wrap up this case—before a cornered killer lashes out with ill will toward them. . .

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What’s the oddest or happiest holiday surprise you’ve ever had? Comment below for a chance to win either a signed hardcover copy of MURDER MOST MALICIOUS (Continental U.S. Residents only), or an e-book edition (open to anyone from anywhere). The giveaway will end January 4 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

About the author
Alyssa Maxwell knew from an early age that she wanted to be a novelist. Growing up in New England and AlyssaMaxwelltraveling to Great Britain fueled a passion for history, while a love of puzzles of all kinds drew her to the mystery genre. She and her husband reside in Florida, where she loves to watch BBC productions, sip tea in the afternoons, and delve into the past. You can learn more about Alyssa and her books at www.alyssamaxwell.com, on Facebook: Guilded Newport and Facebook: Alyssa Maxwell.

36 responses to “A Day in the Life of Miss Eva Huntsford by Alyssa Maxwell

  1. This sounds like a delightful new series and I would love the chance to win a copy. Thanks

  2. Really like the setting or era of the book, thanks for the chance 🙂

  3. Kathy Gonzales

    This one is on my wish list ! My happiest surprise at Christmas was my first daughter being born , best present ever !

  4. The happiest holiday was when I was a young girl & received my first collared-button-down blouse……
    I felt like a big girl!!!!
    Thank you for the giveaway….

  5. Any holiday when I received books was a happy one.

  6. I always loved to read, I do recall from the constant encouragement from Mother and my third grade teacher, they are to blame for my avid reading habit of today. And I have always been fond of a good who-dun-it! Alyssa Maxwell is new to me so I think I will put her books on my to be read list for the coming new year definitely!

  7. Good morning, Dru! Thanks for having Eva and me as your guests today. And thank you, everyone, for stopping by, saying hi and sharing some memories!

  8. elainehroberson

    My happiest holidays were when I was young. I’ve always been a reader so books were always a part of my life. Thanks for a chance to win a signed hardcopy of your book. Looking forward to reading it soon.

  9. It wasn’t so much of a surprise, but one year we drove 6 hours to pick up our new puppy. Best Christmas present ever! Thanks for the giveaway.

  10. It wasn’t a surprise, but we had our daughter here for Christmas. It was the first time we saw her since she moved in August.

  11. My best Christmas surprise was a beautiful, hard-backed copy of Anne of Green Gables when I was 10. That started a love affair with books that continues 60 years later. I’ve really enjoyed Alyssa’s previous books and this sounds like a great new series. Thanks for the chance to win.

  12. Interesting time in history and sounds like a great new cozy to read, hope I win, ty

  13. I once had to travel on Christmas Day and was surprised by how few people were at the airport and what a good mood everybody was in even though they couldn’t be at home that day. It was one of the best flights I ever had. Thanks

  14. I’m looking forward to reading the book.

  15. What’s the oddest or happiest holiday surprise you’ve ever had? Growing up there were so many happy surprises left by Santa, but I really was happily surprised getting my engagement ring….odd? We were dressing for a holiday party, and I was still in my underwear. Great story to tell.

  16. What a wonderful sounding new series. I can’t wait to read this book!!

  17. I have two most happiest surprises. One came on Christmas day 30 years ago when my husband asked me to marry him and presented me with an engagement ring. The other came three days after Christmas 29 years ago. We were blessed with the birth of our daughter, Rachel. God couldn’t have given my any better surprises than these two. robeader53@yahoo.com

  18. My happiest memory was when our youngest son’s adoption was finalized 2 days before Christmas an our oldest child was born 2 weeks before Christmas. Such beautiful blessings.

    This new cozy series looks amazing and I can’t wait to read it.

  19. This is a most delightful feature and giveaway. Becoming engaged was a real surprise and then my son’s birth on my birthday was an extra giant surprise.

  20. When I was young we celebrated on Christmas Eve so we could visit grandparents on Christmas day. My dad said he needed cigarettes and took all us kids with him to get some. When we returned from the store, Mother was pointing at the sky, saying we just missed Santa and if we looked quick we could see him! I was almost sure I saw him.

  21. Nothing compares to the years when my children were young. Seeing the stars in their eyes as they gazed at the tree was wonderful!

  22. What a great idea for a new series. Excited to read what happens! I think my best Christmas surprise was getting snow on Christmas Day a few years ago. Not unusual for some people, but in our corner of the world it was an unusual and unexpected treat!

  23. Engagements, babies, special gifts, unexpected moments – thank you so far for sharing! What I’m seeing here is that no matter how commercialized the holidays might become, it’s the intimate, personal experiences that matter most to people. I’m so glad about that!

  24. Love the Gilded Newport mysteries – looking forward to reading the first in a new series.

  25. I’d love to win a signed hardcover copy! This is on my TBR list!

  26. I’ve seen the excerpt and the book sounds good. Hope the library will have it.

  27. Book sounds good. I’ve seen the excerpt. Hope the library has it. Didn’t get anything for Christmas this year.

  28. As a fan of all things British, I would love to win this book.

  29. I adore reading books set in this time period, and I’m so excited for this mystery!

  30. I think my biggest surprise was this last one. I received 2 tickets to Barry Manilow’s farewell tour for 2/1. My daughter is going to take me. I love
    Barry but no one else in our family does. This literally had me speechless for about 30 seconds. She is such a sweetheart. I’m looking forward to this book. I love the time period. Thanks so much for having this contest. I hope I win!

  31. Sounds delightful…I love historical mysteries …Please enter me.
    Happy New Year…Uh biggest surprise was when my Fiancee planned a mystery day for me. He said expect a surprise tomorrow on Christmas Day…Be ready…the knock on the door had me thinking it would be flowers. It was a taxi and I said,”Where are you taking me.” He said,”I can’t tell you. Long story short he drove me to the Holiday Inn and then nothing. I sat for two hours and fumed. Finally the Manager came running down the hall. I was supposed to have been shown into the Restaurant for Christmas Dinner and he had sent flowers.”

  32. Della Williamson

    A new author and series is always so exciting. And it looks so GOOOD!!! I can’t wait to read it. It is on my TBR. And I am hoping to an early start. The best Christmas surprise I remember? My folks were most proper. In public they, at most, would occasionally hold hands for just a few. At home. He would rarely give Mom more than a quick peck on the cheek if we were around. Us girls were in the dining room and they were in the front room by the Christmas tree when the song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa”. Dad said “I think we can take a hint, don’t you?” Us kids were so surprised and thrilled. I think that was the warmest Christmas we ever had.

  33. Contest is closed.