on July 11th 2017
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In 1810, Atlas Catesby, a brilliant adventurer and youngest son of a baron, is anxious to resume his world travels after a carriage accident left him injured in London. But his plans are derailed when, passing through a country village, he discovers a helpless woman being auctioned off to the highest bidder--by her husband.
In order to save her from being violated by another potential buyer, Atlas purchases the lady, Lilliana, on the spot to set her free. But Lilliana, desperate to be with her young sons and knowing the laws of England give a father all parental rights, refuses to be rescued--until weeks later when her husband is murdered and Atlas is the only one who can help clear her name of the crime.
Fortunately, Atlas is a master at solving complicated puzzles, both with games and the intricacies of human motivation, and finds himself uniquely suited to the task, despite the personal peril it may put him in. But soon Altas learns the dead man had many secrets--and more than a few enemies willing to kill to keep them quiet--in Murder in Mayfair, the first in a new historical mystery series by D. M. Quincy.
Where does inspiration come from?
Once people learn I write novels, or after they read one of my books, one question I hear repeatedly is: how do you come up with ideas for your books?
I don’t know about other writers but I am deeply influenced by history, which I’ve learned is often more fascinating than fiction! Part of that comes from having been a journalist for many years.
I covered stories that often strained credibility or seemed outlandish, including the trial of a woman who cut off her husband’s penis after he allegedly raped her (she was found not guilty due to insanity), the assault trial of a nationally renowned sportscaster who liked to dress in female lingerie, or the fertility doctor who artificially inseminated dozens of women with his own sperm despite telling his patients it came from other donors.
The opening scene of Murder in Mayfair—in which amateur sleuth Atlas Catesby comes across a man selling his wife in an inn yard and buys the woman to protect her—is inspired by a true story that I found so fascinating, I knew I had to borrow it for a book.
In the real story, Henry Bridges, Duke of Chandos, was on his way to London when he stopped at an inn where a man was selling his wife. The duke was so impressed with Anne Wells’ beauty and patience, that he decided to buy her himself. The two eventually married and Anne became the Duchess of Chandos.
The union was believed to be a happy one. Anne and her duke had one daughter and were married for almost fifteen years before the duchess died in 1759. After her death, Henry praised his late duchess in the family register, writing that she “possessed of every good quality.”
In Murder in Mayfair, any romance between Atlas and Lilliana, the woman he purchases, is impeded by the fact that she still has a husband. Their problems only multiply when said husband is murdered and both Atlas and Lilliana are suspects.
Although Murder in Mayfair completely diverges from the Chandos’s true story after that opening scene, there are bits and pieces throughout the novel that are inspired by real experiences of other people because I’ve learned mixing a little fact with my fiction makes a story all the more intriguing!
This excerpt begins after amateur sleuth Atlas Catesby, accompanied by his friend, the Earl of Charlton, has just purchased Lilliana Warwick after coming across her being sold at an inn by her husband.
As he escorted her to a tavern table, Atlas could not help but notice they were the focus of extreme curiosity—he and this woman he knew nothing about.
People who had just moments ago treated him with the deference due a gentleman, now regarded him with open suspicion and even outright contempt. They no doubt thought she was at his mercy, but he—who saw how she wore her poise and dignity like armor—knew better.
Good lord. He had no idea what to do with her. He planned to be aboard his cousin George’s 32-gun frigate when it departed London in a matter of weeks. He was inclined to return this woman to her people before he sailed. But, in order to do so, he had to find out who she was. “Allow me to introduce myself—”
She leveled a frigid gaze at him. “If you even think to lay a hand on me, I will gut you in your sleep.” She spoke in precise, cut-glass tones. “You’ll never know another moment’s peace in this lifetime.”
Charlton burst out laughing and slammed a hand on the table. “By God, I like this woman.” Mirth still quivering on his lips, he said to her, “Rest assured madam, you could not find yourself in better hands. My friend here makes a habit of rescuing damsels in distress.”
She rose. “I would like to go and refresh myself.” As courtesy dictated, the men stood as well. She didn’t wait for permission. They watched her walk up to the publican’s wife and exchange a few words before a chambermaid led her out of the taproom.
Regaining his seat, Charlton’s gaze lingered after them. “What do you think the chances are of her climbing out the window and vanishing into the wilds of England?”
Atlas sipped his saccharine ale. “She’s too proud for that. If Artemis chooses to part company with us, I’d wager my mount that she’ll sail out the front door and vanquish anyone who steps in her path.”
“Artemis?” Charlton’s golden brows lifted. “Dare I ask which goddess she is?”
“The daughter of Zeus. Aloof, courageous and confident.” Atlas’s mouth quirked. “And so protective of her virginity that when a hunter threatened her purity, she turned him into a stag and set fifty dogs upon him.”
“That seems apt.” A devilish gleam shone in Charlton’s eyes. “She might not be a virgin, but I can definitely see Mrs. Warwick setting wild beasts upon you.”
One commenter will receive a copy of Diana Quincy’s Tempting Bella, which was also inspired by a true story involving two youngsters who were forced to marry to settle a gaming debt between their fathers.
(Winners outside the US will receive a digital book.)
Just answer this question….
Which real-life incident strikes you as something right out of a romance novel? Or would you like to see made into a romance novel?
~~Reviewed by Lisa~~
What a joy…a wonderful first book in a series. Ms. Quincy had me enthralled with in the first couple of paragraphs. The characters are deeply developed and I cared for them immediately. Atlas is a complex man due to his widely varied life experiences. He has traveled extensively outside of England, the loss of close family members and having been born outside of the fishbowl environment of the ton. The secondary characters are fabulous and they keep him on his toes. They include his best friend Gabriel Young, the Earl of Charlton; his sister Mrs. Thea Palmer and his newly acquired valet, Jamie. I see many possibilities for this series ad Atlas’s further adventures and I am excited for the future.
Mrs. Lilliana Warwick is a spectacular character. Her mysterious past, the way she carries herself, her pride without being haughty, and her devotion to her children make her instantly loveable. She is a wonderful companion for Atlas as she can see things from different angles and is independent, strong and trustworthy.
While there is an underlying current of attraction between Atlas and Lillianna it is more the mystery and danger that surround her that draws you along. Even though her husband was a total rotter and the list of his possible enemies seems endless, finding his killer is a wonderful journey. Atlas uncovers possibilities, secrets and, in the end, the killer with the story plodding along. Lilliana’s past, the danger to her and the culprit for those dangers was a plot twist I didn’t see coming, but it was built in so beautifully it left me sad but hopeful all at once.
Despite there not being a romantic HEA, the ending left options open. The murderer was unveiled and justice was served, Lilliana and her children were safe and Atlas is ready for his next adventure.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.