Murder at the Mansion by Sheila Connolly

Murder at the Mansion (Victorian Village Mysteries, #1)Murder at the Mansion by Sheila Connolly

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Victorian Village Mysteries #1
Publication Date: 6/26/18

Great beginning for a new series. I read Connolly’s County Cork series (set in Ireland) and thoroughly every one of those, so when a new book for a new series popped up, I wanted to read it as well. This one is set in the financially troubled town of Asheford, Maryland. This small town is headed in the same direction as many other small towns today. All of the younger folks are moving to the cities because of the jobs and amenities offered by big cities. Asheford is struggling because the tax base is shrinking and jobs are leaving.

Katherine (Katie/Kate) Hamilton manages a small, very upscale, boutique hotel, the Oriole, in Baltimore. Although it only takes about an hour to get to her hometown of Asheford, she hasn’t been back there in years. She left after high school and has never looked back – especially after her parents moved to Florida. So, Kate was really surprised when her very best friend, Lisbeth, from high school, called and asked to see her.

Lisbeth explains to Kate that Asheford is in serious financial straits and that the town council would appreciate it if Kate would come to Asheford and give any recommendations she might have for using the grand old Victorian mansion that the town now owns. They would love to make it a centerpiece of the town but don’t know if it is feasible or how they could make it work. Kate agrees to take a look. When she sees the old mansion she is enthralled – then, as she looks around the town an idea begins to form. When she learns that her high school nemesis, Cordelia (Cordy), is living in town, Kate is a bit disconcerted, but she’s really ready to deal with her and put those past run-ins to rest. But, then, Cordy is found, by Kate, murdered on the stops of the lovely old Victorian – Barton Mansion.

We are introduced to Joshua (Josh) Wainwright, who is a divorced history professor at nearby Johns Hopkins University. Josh is on sabbatical from the university and is acting as caretaker for the Barton Mansion in return for free rooms while he does some historical research. We are also introduced to Lisbeth who was Kate’s best friend in high school. Lisbeth is now happily married to a successful man and is a stay-at-home mom to two children. I am assuming that these two characters will be fleshed out a little more as the series goes on and that we’ll learn more about them.

Josh and Kate work hard to solve the mysteries – yes, there are two mysteries. Are they related or are they totally separate with two separate perpetrators? As Josh and Kate work to solve the murder, they draw closer and closer. Will they end up in a relationship in future books in the series? I can surely see it because they both seem to have an insatiable curiosity, respect, and reverence for historical research. So, I think the two of them will work together to uncover all of the missing information on Henry Barton, his plant, his house and his wife as well as the rest of the history of the town and how it all relates to the civil war.

Another character we are introduced to is Kate’s high school boyfriend – and Cordy’s ex-husband, Ryan. I assume we’ll see him in future books because he still owns the building that housed Cordy’s B&B. I liked him okay and was glad to see that he apologized to Kate for what happened in high school.

I haven’t said much about Kate because I’m not sure how I feel about her. At this point, I don’t love her. She seems very condescending much of the time – like she is better than those around her. I hope that changes. For instance – here are a few of Kate’s thoughts/quotes:

  • “Was I too smart for the men I met? Too successful?”
  • “. . her crises and mine were so very different. She worried about misplaced baseball gloves, while at the hotel I had to track down international shipments of high-priority documents and make sure they reached the right people.” [This was thought about her best friend]
  • “She really has nowhere else to be. Sad, isn’t it?”

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and look forward to the next one in the series. It will be fun to see what direction the series and the romance moves in. It will also be fun to see what shops they end up bringing into the Victorian Village because some of the ones that Kate mentioned just wouldn’t work – given the population of the town and the fact that the town will depend on tourists. Kate has already moved most of those out, but it will still be interesting to see where they go with that AND what all of the research turns up.

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“I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

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Avid reader/reviewer of historical romance and historical mysteries.

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