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Friday, January 12th, 2018
Murder at The Breakers by Alyssa Maxwell #mystery #review

Murder at The BreakersMURDER AT THE BREAKERS by Alyssa Maxwell
Guilded Newport Mysteries 1

Newport, Rhode Island, August 1895: She may be a less well-heeled relation, but as second cousin to millionaire patriarch Cornelius Vanderbilt, twenty-one-year-old Emma Cross is on the guest list for a grand ball at the Breakers, the Vanderbilts’ summer home. She also has a job to do—report on the event for the society page of the Newport Observer.

But Emma observes much more than glitz and gaiety when she witnesses a murder. The victim is Cornelius Vanderbilt’s financial secretary, who plunges off a balcony faster than falling stock prices. Emma’s black sheep brother Brady is found in Cornelius’s bedroom passed out next to a bottle of bourbon and stolen plans for a new railroad line. Brady has barely come to before the police have arrested him for the murder. But Emma is sure someone is trying to railroad her brother and resolves to find the real killer at any cost…
 
 

The Breakers

View of The Breakers from the cliff path

 
Why?

I picked Murder at the Breakers to read after visiting The Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island. They were selling the book in the gift shop, and I decided I had to read it since I enjoyed my visit so much.

Quick highlights: This is a historical mystery set in Newport during the heyday of the Vanderbilts and it contains a slight romantic element. There are lots of suspects and the main character does a wonderful job of ferreting out clues. I enjoyed it, especially since I’d visited the property.

The Story: Cornelius Vanderbilt’s secretary is murdered during a ball at The Breakers, and Emma’s brother Brady is blamed for the death. Everyone believes the murderer is now in jail, but Emma is determined to clear her brother’s name.

The Characters: Emma is the main sleuth. She is a poor cousin of the Vanderbilts and must scrimp and save to survive. Her parents are overseas, and Brady is her only other family. She’s determined, resourceful and clever. To some readers, her actions might tip into the TSTL category, but I enjoyed this facet of her character.

The Vanderbilts feature too—her uncle, aunt and cousins. The police and several family friends, members of the 400 (the top echelon of society) and servants also form part of the mystery.

The Writing: I enjoyed this story, although I found the start a little slow. The setting is strong and places the reader right in the period. The romantic element totally worked for me. Obviously, we’ll see more development of this in the later stories in the series. I wasn’t certain who the murderer was until the end.

Conclusion: This mystery is the perfect souvenir of a visit to The Breakers. It’s a trip back to the time of the Vanderbilts and the wealth of the period. I recommend this first book in the Gilded Newport series.

Rating: 4 stars

Amazon | Goodreads

Friday, January 5th, 2018
The Breakers, Newport, Rhode Island #travel

The Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island was the “summer cottage” of Cornelius Vanderbilt II. Fire destroyed the original cottage, and Cornelius ordered the existing mansion built on the same site in 1893. It took several years, and Cornelius didn’t spend much time in his new mansion before he died in 1899.

The mansion overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and it takes it name from the waves pounding the cliff below—The Breakers.
In a word—it’s impressive. It’s full of marble, beautiful wallpapers and furnishings. The marble bath tubs are something to be seen (evidently, the servants had to fill the tub to warm the marble, then refill it for their master’s use). The butler’s pantry and the kitchens were the best I’ve ever seen. My photos don’t do them justice.

My husband wasn’t keen when I dragged him off for his daily dose of culture, but he enjoyed The Breakers and later thanked me. Of course, it didn’t hurt that we visited the White Horse Inn for drinks and a snack—reputably America’s oldest inn since it opened in 1673.

I highly recommend a visit to The Breakers and the White Horse Inn, should you ever find yourself in Newport.

Me at The Breakers

This is me at the front of The Breakers.

The Grand Staircase

This photo is taken in the ballroom, looking toward the grand staircase. It’s said that it was a tradition for the Vanderbilts and their guests to slide down the bannisters on trays.

Interior

One of the many decadently decorated rooms.

Interior

Another room interior.

Mr Vanderbilt's Room

Mr. Vanderbilt’s room.

Mr Vanderbilt's Bathroom

The amazing marble bath that required filling twice so that the marble heated and didn’t freeze a backside!

The kitchen

The kitchen was amazing and full of all sorts of mod-cons for the time.

View from Side

A view of The Breakers from the side.

The White Horse Inn

Hubby at the White Horse Inn. Our last bit of “culture” for the day and a welcome break with local beer and a bowl of clam chowder.

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018
Celebrate the NEW YEAR with the Janauary Freebie Frenzy and Giveaway

Welcome to the

January FREEBIE Frenzy & Giveaway Event January 1-5!

Click to download these romance reads.

Thank you for being loyal readers! To show their appreciation, your favorite authors have come together to offer a book for FREE. Download one or all. Maybe you’ll find your next favorite author.

Please note: all sales are limited time offers.

Don’t have a Kindle? Don’t worry. Read with the FREE Kindle App.

**Please note: these books may not be free on other Amazon sites and many of these books are free for a limited time only.**

Enter here: http://lovekissedbookbargains.com/2017/12/29/january-freebie-frenzy-giveaway/

Monday, January 1st, 2018
☆҉➹☆NEW YEAR FREE AND 99 CENT PROMO! ☆҉➹☆҉

New Year Free and 99c Promo

Over a dozen authors are sharing the ultimate collection of paranormal, urban fantasy and sci-fi reads! Stop by and pick up a new favorite book!

Check out the paranormal romance sale.

Sunday, December 31st, 2017
Join the New Year Hop and Giveaway

New Year Hop

Win an e-book from my back list. Check out the Facebook Hop to have a chance of winning one of my e-books or one of the many other prizes on offer.

Visit the hop here.

Monday, December 25th, 2017
My Feline Protector FREE Today Only #paranormal #romance #free

My Feline Protector

My Feline Protector is free today. One day only so don’t delay!

Get it at Amazon

Friday, December 1st, 2017
The Perfect Holiday Treat for a Booklover #giveaway #IARTG

How much do we love our readers? We’d like to show you!

 

Enter to win a collection of over 80 romance ebooks and a Kindle!

 

One simple entry will subscribe you to all participating Romance Authors’ Newsletters. Plus, gain additional entries through bonus sign ups!

Unsubscribe any time, but please don’t label us as spam. Better still, stick around and get to know us.

 

Participating Authors:

A.M. Myers | Abbie Roads | Alexa Padgett | Alexandra Haughton | Alexandria Bishop | Aliyah Burke | Amanda Heartley | Amy Knupp | Amy L Gale | Anna Celeste Burke | Annie Anderson | Arizona Tape | Ashlee Price | Bea Paige | Belinda Boring | Bernadette Marie | Bethany Lopez | Blythe Reid | C.E. Wilson | Colleen Charles | Connie Davé | Debbie White | dee palmer | Demelza Carlton | Di Jones | Dianne Ascroft | DJ Bryce | emily bishop | Emma Nichols | Emma Tharp | Eva Winters | Gisele St. Claire | Heather C. Myers | Holly Cortelyou | Jackson Kane | Jane Anthony | Jennie Marts | Jennifer Millikin | Joely Sue Burkhart | juliana conners | Kamery Solomon | Kari Trumbo | Kay McKenna | Khardine Gray | kira blakely | Laura Greenwood | Leigh Anderson | Lexi C. Foss | Lisa Lang Blakeney | Lisa Shelby | Liz Isaacson | Maggie Fox | Mary Bernsen | Mary Hughes | McKenna Jeffries | Melinda Dozier | Melissa Stevens | Morgan & Jennifer Locklear | Natalie Rios | Olivia Howe | Phoebe Alexander | Pippa Grant | Priscilla Oliveras | R.R. Banks | Sammi Starlight | Shannon Nemechek | Shelique Lize | Shelley Munro | Simone Leigh | Sky Corgan | Skylar Hill | Stephanie Witter | Susan Sheehey | Susan Ward | Taige Crenshaw | Talina Perkins | Tara Wyatt | Teagan Kade | Tracey Pedersen | Traci Douglass | Tracy Ellen | Tracy Lorraine | Vivian Wood | Weston Parker | Zoe Reid

 

Enter here: http://lovekissedbookbargains.com/2017/11/17/happy-holiday-giveaway/

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017
Shortbread #recipe

Scotland immediately comes to mind when I think of shortbread, and my next thought is always Christmas. It’s said that shortbread developed from a medieval recipe, with the modernized recipe attributed to Mary, Queen of Scots. Over time the ingredients changed, with butter replacing the yeast. Butter was an expensive ingredient, which meant shortbread was only baked on special occasions. Butter has become very expensive down here in New Zealand, so nothing has changed in that respect!

I tend to bake shortbread at Christmas. It’s one of my favorite biscuits to eat, a trait I fear I inherited from my father because it’s his firm favorite too.

The recipe I use comes from Jo Seagar’s Easy-Peasy Summer Entertaining recipe book.

Shortbread

Shortbread

250 grams softened butter (1.1 cup American)
3/4 cup icing sugar/confectioners sugar
1/2 cornflour/cornstarch
1 1/2 cups flour

Beat the butter and icing sugar until creamy. Mix in the cornflour and flour. Roll into teaspoon size balls with your hands. Place on a tray lined with baking paper. Flatten and press with damp shortbread mold. Bake at 150C for 25-30 minutes until the shortbread is pale but crisp. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

Shelley’s notes:

1. The original recipe says to roll out the dough and cut out star shapes. I’ve always found the dough too soft to do this–maybe because I tend to make this recipe during the heat of a New Zealand summer–and after experimenting I’ve found teaspoon size balls work best for me.

2. If I feel in the mood for a variation with bite I add 1 tablespoon of cocoa and 1 teaspoon of chili powder just before I add the flour and cornflour. Sometimes I’ll also add chocolate chips-the small kind.

3. If you don’t have a shortbread mold, press down with a fork. Dip the fork in a cup of cold water after flattening each biscuit to avoid sticking.

Chocolate Chilli Shortbread

Here’s a photo of the Chili Chocolate Shortbread.

Are you a shortbread fan?

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017
A Whale of a Tail #cute #animals #travel

Humpback Whale

This photo of a breaching humpback whale was taken in Alaska a few years ago. The humpback whales are amazing creatures and can be very curious, coming right up to the boat and doing lots of spyhopping to see what the strange humans are doing. I’ve been lucky enough to see them in the Southern hemisphere as well, and highly recommend the experience should you ever get a chance to go whale watching.

Saturday, September 30th, 2017
Devil Dog #cute #animals

We saw this dog while we were walking in Vava’u, Tonga. He craned his neck to see us and seemed to be guarding this partially built house. He looked a bit like a devil dog with his glowing eyes.

Devil Dog, Tonga