A Bride’s Guide to Marriage and Murder

Frances Wynn, Countess of Harleigh, formerly Frances Price, American heiress is visiting Ascroft, eh? today to tell us about A Bride’s Guide to Marriage and Murder, the latest novel in the Countess of Harleigh mystery series.

Welcome, Frances. Let’s get started, shall we?

Tell us about the novel that you live inside. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.

Thank you for chatting with me today. The Countess of Harleigh mystery series follows, well, me. I’m Frances Wynn, Countess of Harleigh, formerly Frances Price, American heiress. My mother brought me to London to buy—I mean find—a titled husband. The series begins ten years after my wedding and one year after my late husband’s death. I’d been a dutiful daughter, wife, and mother, and once my period of mourning ended, I decided it was high time I took my life into my own hands, before my mother found me a new husband or my in-laws spent all my money.

It was exciting to make a new life for my daughter and myself. And daunting. Then my aunt and sister arrived for my sister’s London season. Having them near gave me more confidence, enough to investigate the murder that took place in my garden. George Hazelton, my next-door neighbor, was a great help with that. Time passed. I introduced more young ladies to London society, investigated more murders, and became very close to George. In fact, we’re were just married. We’d be on our honeymoon now if our neighbor hadn’t been murdered in his office next door to the reception. Well, that might not have stopped us either, except that my brother, Alonzo, was found at the crime scene, holding the murder weapon. If we want to prove him innocent, we’ll have to find the real killer.

Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?

I like to think of it as a collaboration. I allow Ms. Freeman to use me to tell the story, but it is my life after all. If she wants me to take a risk, or dissemble, or just be sneaky, that’s all part of the fun, isn’t it? But once in a while she’ll call upon me to do something that is so out of character, I have no choice but to shut down the entire operation until she sees the error of her ways and corrects it. I refuse to cooperate with something that essentially goes against the grain, and it’s rather amusing to see her so frustrated.

How did you evolve as the main character?

An excellent question! I was just minding my own business, trying to make a home for myself and my daughter, wondering if I’d be able to pay the servants, when a detective inspector stopped in and insinuated that I murdered my husband—said he had an anonymous letter pointing him in my direction. How absurd! If I had intended to murder Reggie, I’d never have waited nine years to do so. He’d be lucky to have made it through the first week of our marriage.

Well, I had to do some investigating to prove my innocence and it turned out, I’m rather good at it, which surprised me. I also managed to stand up for myself, which also surprised me. I’ve found myself in a cycle of the more investigating I do, the more confidence I gain, and the more I believe I can do. It’s really quite rewarding. I suppose that’s my evolution story.

Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?

Oh, yes. We have a rather large cast of characters here. I’ll limit the introductions to those who assist me in my investigations. There’s Henrietta Chesney, my aunt Hetty. She came to London with my younger sister for Lily’s first social season and remained with me after Lily married. Aunt Hetty is a financial genius and is very helpful when finding the culprit means following the money.

Lady Fiona Nash has been my closest friend since our social debut ten years ago. She’s likely to become bored long before the culprit is found, but there isn’t a speck of gossip or rumor circulating in this city that gets past her. She’s invaluable when I need to know more about a suspect.

There are one or two others who have helped me here and there, but the person I rely on most is George Hazelton, my new husband. He’s the third son of an earl, which means he can expect no money from the family. Always the adventurous type, George earns his living doing something secretive for the government and his sleuthing skills come in quite handy—I am still learning, after all. Fortunately, George is happy to help.

What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?

I live in Belgravia, which is a small, posh neighborhood in London. Belgravia is made up of quiet streets, large homes, small gardens, and very wealthy people—for the most part. Grosvenor Place marks our Eastern boundary and just across that street is Buckingham Palace and its grounds. To the North of the palace is the neighborhood of Mayfair, where the more established monied elite lives. The inhabitants of these two neighborhoods pretty much make up our social circle. It’s very much a small town within a big city. 

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book?

Well, I’d like to thank them for reading about me. I hope you’ll enjoy my wedding. For those of you who have been following my story, you had to know that George and I could never have a normal wedding, but I do hope it’s entertaining.

Thank you for answering my questions, Frances, and good luck to you and your author, Dianne Freeman, with A Bride’s Guide to Marriage and Murder, the latest book in the Countess of Harleigh mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Frances and her author, Dianne Freeman by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads, and Instagram pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon – B & N

About Dianne Freeman: Dianne is the acclaimed author of the Countess of Harleigh Mystery series. She is an Agatha Award and Lefty Award winner, as well as a finalist for the prestigious Mary Higgins Clark Award from Mystery Writers of America. After thirty years of working in corporate accounting and finance, she now writes full-time. Born and raised in Michigan, she and her husband split their time between Michigan and Arizona. 

About Dianne Ascroft

I'm a Canadian writer and author, living in Britain. My first novel, 'Hitler and Mars Bars' was released in March 2008. More information abo
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