Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Review: A Gilded Grave by Shelley Freydont and Giveaway

A Gilded Grave
AuthorShelley Freydont
Series:  A Newport Gilded Age Mystery 1
Publisher:  Berkley, August 4, 2015 
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages
List Price:  $16.00 (print); $9.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780425275849 (print); 9780698165687 (eBook)
Review Copy:  Provided by the publisher

First in a new series from the author of the Celebration Bay mysteries
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…

Jennifer's Review

A Gilded Grave is the first novel in Shelley Freydont’s Newport Gilded Age Mystery Series. This book follows eighteen year old Deanna Randolph as she embarks on the 1895 Newport summer season. Deanna’s first ball turns disastrous when she and her friends stumble upon the body of a young maid, lying on the cliffs. Deanna is drawn to the mystery and, amid the parties and outings of the rich, she feels compelled to investigate the murder, before the killer strikes again and someone dear to her is accused of the crime.

Deanna’s personality and desires clash with what her strict society mother, Jeanette, expects of her. Deanna is a bit of an unusual girl for her time and class; she loves reading dime store novels, especially those featuring lady detectives, and often ruminates on the disparities between the upper and lower classes. She longs for the days of her youth, when she could run in the sunshine and follow her beloved late brother, Bob, and his friends in their adventures, and has a passion for life and a craving to break the mold she has been placed in by her position in society. Deanna’s two best friends are her intelligent maid Elspeth and childhood playmate, Cassandra, who is lively and sometimes careless. She clashes with her lukewarm sister, Adelaide, who is far too placid for Deanna’s tastes, and is engaged to Cassie’s older brother, Charles. The engagement was arranged by their parents and seems to be more of a business transaction than a love match.

The Newport season begins with a ball at Cassandra’s home, celebrating the newly arrived Lord David Manchester and his sister Lady Madeline, who have been brought from Barbados to do a business deal with Deanna’s father, George, and his business partner, Cassie’s father, Francis. Lord David is a charming and handsome English aristocrat, who owns a sugar plantation, and his ethereal sister, Lady Madeline, is beautiful and enchanting. Deanna’s enjoyment of the ball is marred, when she is given the cut direct by her former fiancé, Joe Ballard, her brother’s childhood best friend. Joe has left polite society and his fortune to live and work in a lower class Newport neighborhood as an inventor. Deanna is still smarting from his jilting, even if it was arranged by their parents, and is confused regarding her current feelings for Joe. Joe is a brilliant and kind young man, who is still trying to find his niche in life and work through his own feelings.

Various other characters from both classes are introduced throughout the course of the story. Vlady Howe and Herbert Stanhope are respectable young gentlemen who are looking for good fun and have no cares. Cokey Featheringham is a contemporary of theirs who is not so wholesome in his fun and is very nasty and catty. Joe’s eccentric French grandmother, Gran Gwen, is my personal favorite. Gwen is direct and outspoken, with a lust for life. She is modern and lives in her own way, often flaunting her elderly lovers to society. Despite all of this, she is still a force to be reckoned with in her class, and is never snubbed. She has a soft spot for Joe and Deanna, clearly believing they would be wonderful as a couple. From the lower class, we meet Orrin, who is Elspeth’s brother and Joe’s apprentice, along with being the sweetheart of the murdered maid, Daisy, making him a perfect scapegoat to the upper classes. Will Hennessey is between classes. He was educated at Yale University along with Bob and Joe. Will studied forensics and is now a Sargent on the Newport Police force, able to easily cater to the upper classes, while not entirely being one of them. He is astute and observant and must be careful in his investigations due to his precarious position in both classes. Sargent Crum is the brutish lower class police officer who believes that violence is the key to being a good police officer. One other notable character is Swan, a native of Barbados and Lord David’s manservant. He has a tall and regal presence, with a silky deep voice and an air of mystery, speaking rarely and rumored to be a practitioner of voodoo.

The plot is multifaceted and seamlessly blended. There are several subplots running concurrently throughout the story which add to the depth and reality of the entire book. The side story of the relationship between Deanna and Joe is full of delicious tension and his highly enjoyable. The characters are very well done, each having their own quirks that make them stand out to the reader. The mystery is full of twists and confusing turns, keeping it fresh and leading to a surprising and exciting ending. This novel is a fabulous addition to the historical mystery genre and the series has the potential for many more exciting installments in the future.

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a copy of A Gilded Grave by Shelley Freydont from the publisher. US ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59PM US Eastern Time on August 12, 2015. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I looks great and thanks for the chance to win :)

  2. Looks like an interesting mystery. I'd really like to read it.

  3. This mystery is fascinating and intriguing. Thanks for this great feature and wonderful giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com