Lily Price here, in London for the social season of 1899, with instructions from my mother to find a British lord and marry him. My sister, Frances accomplished this very feat nine years ago and became Countess of Harleigh, rather impressive, don’t you think? She’s a widow now, sadly, but I’m fortunate she’s here to take me under her wing as I didn’t realize quite how much guidance I’d require.
You see, our mother set Frances on quite a grueling “How to be a lady” course, that lasted most of her unmarried life. When my turn came, I was not as good a student as my sister. Or perhaps not as willing a student. Well, the truth is, I completely rebelled. All the rules of etiquette seemed so silly but now I’m finding the British aristocracy take those rules very seriously.
Titles are a particular area of concern. My sister is Lady Harleigh because she was born plain Frances Price. Her good friend, Fiona Nash is Lady Fiona because she’s the daughter of an earl and thus, born a lady. How is one to know that? When I asked, Frances handed me a tome as thick as the bible, entitled Debrett’s Peerage. I’ve been here less than a week! I couldn’t possibly memorize it in such a short time. Which makes me grateful for one of those many etiquette rules—A young lady should never speak to anyone unless they’ve been introduced. While I find it uncomfortable standing next to someone without uttering a word simply because there’s no one to introduce us, it does save me from making the mistake of addressing him as Mister when he might be a Sir or a Lord or some other such personage.
I’m afraid I haven’t mastered dining either. There are so many rules. Gloves come off and stay in one’s lap. Drinks are to one’s right, and the silver is used from the outside in. And by the way, the silver is always used. I’ve learned one is even to eat a banana with knife and fork. Not that I’ve ever eaten a banana at a grand dinner before, but it seems one is never alone and is always judged. And it’s pronounced bah-nah-nah over here. Pronouncing it the American way is likely to bring on titters from anyone listening—and someone is always listening.
Regardless of my struggles, my mother sent me here to find a noble husband and find one I shall. I’ve managed to acquire three suitors despite my manners, a good beginning I’d say. Unfortunately, we suspect one of them is a murderer, hard to believe, as I’m certain that must breech multiple rules of etiquette. We don’t know which one did the ghastly deed, but Frances is coming to my aid once again and is determined to flush out the villain. I do hope she’s quick about it as I have every intention of marrying one of the remaining two.
In this exciting historical mystery debut set in Victorian England, a wealthy young widow encounters the pleasures—and scandalous pitfalls—of a London social season . . .
Frances Wynn, the American-born Countess of Harleigh, enjoys more freedom as a widow than she did as a wife. After an obligatory year spent mourning her philandering husband, Reggie, she puts aside her drab black gowns, leaving the countryside and her money-grubbing in-laws behind. With her young daughter in tow, Frances rents a home in Belgravia and prepares to welcome her sister, Lily, arriving from New York—for her first London season.
No sooner has Frances begun her new life than the ghosts of her old one make an unwelcome appearance. The Metropolitan police receive an anonymous letter implicating Frances in her husband’s death. Frances assures Inspector Delaney of her innocence, but she’s also keen to keep him from learning the scandalous circumstances of Reggie’s demise. As fate would have it, her dashing new neighbor, George Hazelton, is one of only two other people aware of the full story.
While busy with social engagements on Lily’s behalf, and worrying if Reggie really was murdered, Frances learns of mysterious burglaries plaguing London’s elite. The investigation brings death to her doorstep, and Frances rallies her wits, a circle of gossips, and the ever-chivalrous Mr. Hazelton to uncover the truth. A killer is in their midst, perhaps even among her sister’s suitors. And Frances must unmask the villain before Lily’s season—and their lives—come to a most unseemly end . . .
Advance Praise For A Lady’s Guide To Etiquette And Murder
“A delightful tale of shenanigans among the British aristocracy. Lady Frances feels very real—not too smart and spunky but no shrinking violet either.” –Rhys Bowen, New York Times bestselling author of the Royal Spyness and Molly Murphy mysteries
“Lady Harleigh must rally the support of friends and an attractive neighbor to untangle her affairs in this engrossing tale of aristocratic intrigue. Freeman vividly portrays the opulence of late Victorian life among the British upper crust as Lady Harleigh takes us into the exclusive ballrooms and drawing rooms of London society in 1899. Deception and trickery abound and nothing is exactly as it seems.” –Rosemary Simpson, author of Lies That Comfort and Betray
“Dianne Freeman has penned a mystery that’s witty and fun, with just the right amount of danger and romance to keep you turning pages.” –Alyssa Maxwell, author of A Devious Death
“A fantastic blend of history, mystery and humor. I did not want to put it down. Perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer.” –Darcie Wilde, National bestselling author of A Useful Woman and A Purely Private Matter