TEA & VALENTINES by Guest Blogger Marilyn Clay

My newest Regency-set mystery novel, titled Murder In Mayfair: A Juliette Abbott Regency Mystery, takes place in London in February 1821. The book features my young Regency sleuth Miss Juliette Abbott, who, as you may recall from Murder At Morland Manor, successfully exposed who killed the Morland heir. Now, Juliette is back in London and she and her friend, Miss Cathleen Haworth are preparing to try their hand at selling some of the late Lady Carstairs’ priceless artifacts to a London curiosity dealer . . . but before they can even begin, the likeable gentleman suddenly, and shockingly, turns up dead!

With no funds to hire a Bow Street detective to investigate the crime, Juliette takes on the daunting task of uncovering who killed the handsome man herself. However, even as Juliette searches for clues, she still goes on living. When February 14, Valentine’s Day arrives, she and another young lady friend set off to Gunter’s for tea and a cherry tart to mark the occasion. (I confess I did not know it was accepted practice for young ladies to frequent Gunter’s in one another’s company, meaning it was not necessary they be accompanied by a gentleman; but research bore that out, so off my two female characters went to Gunter’s). The following is a short excerpt from MURDER IN MAYFAIRin which Juliette’s young friend Marianne Chalmers attempts to educate Juliette regarding a few little-known, Valentine’s Day customs:
Marianne soon came tripping down the stairs, a smile on her pretty face. Approaching me in the foyer, she began nattering on about ancient Valentine’s customs she knew of.
“I hope to see a goldfinch today,” she said as we headed toward the carriage at the curb.
“Whatever for?” I inquired, a trifle amused.
“Because it will mean I am to marry a rich man! Were I to see a robin today, it would mean I will marry a sailor.”
I glanced up at the sky as Mr. Gant handed Marianne into the carriage. Upon climbing in after her, I said, “I believe I spotted a sparrow on the wing just now.”
“Oh, I don’t want to look!”
“Why ever not?” I smiled. “What does seeing a sparrow on Valentine’s day mean?”
“That you will marry a poor man. But, of course, it also means you will be very happily wed to your poor man.”
I laughed aloud. “Well, since poor men are in great supply in England, I daresay happy wives must also be quite plentiful.”
“Nonetheless, I would never marry a poor man,” she declared. “That alone would make me quite unhappy.”
I did not reply, but Marianne’s remark told me she knew herself far better than I thought.
As an author, I truly love doing research for my Regency-set novels almost as much as I enjoy writing them. For this new mystery, Murder In Mayfair, I researched Curiosity shops in the early 19th Century, as well as the history of Bow Street Runners, those famous red-vested detectives who rushed to a crime scene in hopes of apprehending the criminal and hauling him (or her) before the magistrate at the Bow Street office to be questioned and perhaps, brought up on charges. Believe me, I learned plenty about Bow Street I did not know before!
Thing is, I usually don’t know until I get deeply into my story, exactly what all I will need to know for the story I’m writing. I try to do my research ahead of time so I will not be drawn away from my story for long periods while I search out the answers to questions that arise as I’m writing, but unexpected things invariably come up, for instance, at the outset, I did not know Juliette’s gentleman friend Mr. Talbot, whom you might recall she met in her previous adventure at Morland Manor, would call and want to take her to tea at a public tea room, so I needed to make sure there actually werepublic tea rooms in the 1820s. Off I went to check it out and did, indeed, learn some fascinating facts. 

The first public tea room in London was located at #216 Strand in 1706 and was opened by Thomas Twining, a popular name even today in the tea industry. In 1787 the Twining Tea Company created what is thought to be the world’s oldest commercial logo and it has been in continuous use ever since. I also learned that when Twining celebrated its 300thanniversary, they introduced a special blend of tea and offered commemorative tea caddies. In addition, Twining is a Royal Warrant  holder, appointed by Her Majesty The Queen. I did not know that.
I do hope you will want to follow Miss Juliette Abbott’s latest sleuthing efforts in Murder In Mayfair. Juliette is off to Margate next. Who can say what fascinating new facts I’ll learn about that seacoast city. Until next time . . . I hope you enjoy Murder In Mayfair.
I LOVED it! It’s a mystery, not a romance! Juliette is intriguing, endearing, interesting and all around captivating. As a reader, you can’t help but want to take the journey with her as she uncovers clues and solves the mystery. Author Marilyn Clay has penned a refreshing read from a different perspective. Marilyn Clay’s Regency-set mysteries breathe new life into the genre! Well done!!!” -A. L. Hall, Mystery Reviewer.
You’ll find Murder In Mayfair at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Apple itunes, KOBO, and in Trade paperback.
Best-selling author Marilyn Clay has written numerous novels set during the English Regency period. For sixteen years, she published The Regency Plume, an international newsletter focused on the English Regency. She has also written several historical suspense novels, two set in Colonial American Jamestown in the 1600s; another set in Philadelphia in 1776, and a contemporary murder mystery set in Dallas, Texas. Her latest novels include the first two books of her new Juliette Abbott Regency-set Mystery Series, Murder At Morland Manor and Murder In Mayfair, released in January 2017.  A full-time writer, Marilyn is currently at work on Murder In Margate, #3 in the Juliette Abbott Regency Mystery Series, scheduled for release in August, 2017. You can read more about Marilyn Clay’s novels at Marilyn Clay Author or her Amazon Author Central page.

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