USA Today Bestselling Author of Regency Historical Mysteries
A New Year—and New Book News!
Here’s the promo blurb:
A perplexing murder in a renowned library at Oxford University and a suspicious fire in the London research laboratory of a famous inventor set Wrexford and Charlotte on two separate investigations which put each of them —and everyone they hold dear—in harm’s way as past secrets entangle them in a dangerous web of lies and betrayals . . .
Responding to an urgent plea from a troubled family friend, the Earl of Wrexford journeys to Oxford only to find the reclusive university librarian has been murdered and a rare manuscript has gone missing. The only clue is that someone overheard an argument in which Wrexford’s name was mentioned.
At the same time, Charlotte—working under her pen name, A. J. Quill—must determine whether a laboratory fire was arson and if it’s connected to the race between competing consortiums to build a new type of ship—one that can cross the ocean powered by steam rather than sails—with the potential to revolutionize military power and world commerce. That the race involves new innovations in finance and entrepreneurship only adds to the high stakes—especially as their good friend Kit Sheffield may be an investor in one of the competitors.
As they delve deeper into the baffling clues, Wrexford and Charlotte begin to realize that things are not what they seem. An evil conspiracy is lurking in the shadows and threatens all they hold dear—unless they can tie the loose threads together before it’s too late . . . You can read an excerpt here.
A USA Today Bestseller!
My current Wrexford & Sloane Murder at the Serpentine Bridge, Book 6 in the series, released on September 27, 2022—and I’m thrilled to report that it hit the USA Today Bestseller List! (You can click here to order.)
Here’s the promo blurb:
Beyond the glittering ballrooms and salons of Regency London there are mysteries to untangle and murders to solve—and the newlywed duo of Lady Charlotte and the Earl of Wrexford once again find themselves matching wits with a cunning enemy . . .
Charlotte, now the Countess of Wrexford, would like nothing more than a summer of peace and quiet with her new husband and their unconventional family and friends. Still, some social obligations must be honored, especially with the grand Peace Celebrations unfolding throughout London to honor the victory over Napoleon.
But when Wrexford and their two young wards, Raven and Hawk, discover a body floating in Hyde Park’s famous lake, that newfound peace looks to be at risk. The late Jeremiah Willis was the engineering genius behind a new design for a top-secret weapon, and the prototype is missing from the Royal Armory’s laboratory. Wrexford is tasked with retrieving it before it falls into the wrong hands. But there are unsettling complications to the case—including a family connection.
Soon, old secrets are tangling with new betrayals, and as Charlotte and Wrexford spin through a web of international intrigue and sumptuous parties, they must race against time to save their loved ones from harm—and keep the weapon from igniting a new war . . .
An Inside Peek
Now, sometimes an author gets extraordinarily lucky, and history provides an amazing setting that proves the old adage: truth is stranger than fiction.
London threw an extravagant party to celebrate the end of the tumultuous wars against Napoleon that lasted over a decade. All the leaders of Europe came to party . . . and to jockey for power. Which makes it a perfect place in which set a diabolical mystery. You can read more about it and see wonderful images from the era here in the DIVERSIONS section of my website. (be sure to check out the other fun backstories to my books, along with the accompanying slideshows of vintage art.)
In Other Book News
I’m very excited to announce a new book project, one that takes me into a new genre—historical fiction! I’ve signed with Kensington Books to do a fictional biography of Lady Hester Stanhope, one of the most interesting and intriguing women of the Regency era. A firebrand who refused to be corseted by the conventions of Society, she was constantly challenging the rules that dictated what women could and couldn’t do. Her illustrious family—her uncle and her grandfather were legendary prime ministers of Britain, her father was a famous scientist and her cousin, Sir Sidney Smith was a swashbuckling war hero—put her in the epicenter of power, and she didn’t hesitate to flex her own intellectual muscle.
The more I research, the more I find fascinating facts and connections. Stay tuned for more updates!
And for fans of my Lady Arianna Regency Mystery series, I’ve also published a new book, the seventh in the series, and it’s now available for download on all major e-retail platforms. Look for the audiobook early in 2023.
A Swirl of Shadows takes Lady Arianna and Saybrook to
St. Petersburg . . . Here’s the promo blurb:
A traumatic personal crisis has left Lady Arianna bedeviled by guilt and questioning whether she has lost her nerve. Saybrook and her circle of friends can’t seem to help rekindle her fire. Even a challenge from Lord Grentham, Britain’s shadowy head spymaster, to undertake a vital mission to Russia in aid of her old friend, Tsar Alexander, fails to spark any interest . . . Until Grentham mentions that Arianna’s half-brother has gone in her place and may be in mortal danger.
Arianna is furious. She only recently discovered that she had a sibling when her father’s illegitimate son was recruited to play a small role in their previous mission. Resentful of the minister’s attempt to manipulate her emotions, she still refuses to be drawn back into the fray.
But when the murder of a mysterious Russian baroness in London entangles her friend Sophia in the byzantine intrigue surrounding a stolen Imperial medallion and a legendary curse that may topple the Tsar from his throne if it’s not recovered, Arianna finds she can’t turn her back on family and friends—especially as the tensions within her closeknit circle are threatening to fray the bonds of all she holds dear.
And so Arianna and Saybrook—along with Sophia—head off to St. Petersburg, where dangerous deceptions and duplicity swirl beneath the sumptuous splendor of the Imperial Court. An American adventuress, an old nemesis, a possible traitor within their own allies . . . Suspects abound—treachery is everywhere, and when her brother goes missing, Arianna knows that for her and Saybrook to have any hope catching the cunning conspirators, she’ll have to learn to trust herself again. But the clock is ticking . . .
I recently joined with the fabulous fellow historical mystery authors Anna Lee Huber and Alyssa Maxwell to dish on our new books and the craft of writing, You can see the video interview here on YouTube!
And Team Penrose is happy to report on other news
The series as a whole has been garnering kudos throughout the book world, including this wonderful review from The New York Public Library: “[Penrose] mixes well-thought out mysteries, early forensic science, great details of the era and a slow burning attraction creating a compulsive read.”
I’m also delighted to announce that it has been included in the New York Public Library’s list of mystery series to get you through any crisis!
Secondly, for all those of you who have been writing and asking about future books in the series, I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve just signed a new contract to continue the adventures of Wrexford and Charlotte (and the Weasels, of course!) They—along with their family of friends—will be solving mysteries for three more books! So stay tuned!
And p.s.— if you’re looking for more reading entertainment to download, all of my Lady Arianna Regency mysteries are priced less than a Starbucks latte—and tickle your taste buds for far longer than 15 minutes! (Hint: there is chocolate involved in the stories!)
You can check them out here and read sample chapters. There are now seven novels and one novella in the series, which take you throughout England and Scotland, as well Vienna and Paris—and Russia!
And more adventures will be coming!
As we’re all spending a LOT of time at home, I thought I’d share a little peek at what I’m up to these days. Here’s my writing room . . . it’s much neater than usual as I can’t whine about not having time to organize my research books and scribbled notes.
And during my daily plotting walks, I’ve been working out the final twists for the next book in the series!
From My Weekly Plotting . . .
I’ll occasionally feature a photo here from my daily plotting walks (I have an MFA in Graphic Design, so I always have my camera with me, looking to capture a snippet of natural beauty or bit of history. Many turn out to be inspiration for my scenes!)
You can also follow me and my plotting walks on Instagram
I’ll also be posting a snippet each week from current WIPs, so be sure to check in often and take a peek!
Snippet from the daily plotting walk
It was incredibly exciting to do my first foreign traveling since before the pandemic. Look for Lady Arianna and friends to be visiting Istanbul and the isle of Rhodes in their next adventure!
Snippet from the current WIP
“Here I go out for a quiet evening of scholarly discussion over port and brandy, and . . .” Expelling a martyred sigh, the Earl of Wrexford cast a baleful look Charlotte, who despite having changed into more conventional attire still had a streak of soot on her face and ashes in her hair.
“And all hell breaks loose,” he finished as Kit Sheffield entered the earl’s workroom.
Tactfully ignoring her husband’s grumbling, Charlotte hurried to help their friend out of his sodden overcoat. She gave it a quick shake, sending up an acrid fug of burnt wool and stale smoke, and then draped it over one of the work stools.
“Shall I pour you a whisky or a brandy?” she asked, offering Sheffield a wet cloth soaked in lavender-scented hot water.
He took it and flashed a grateful grimace before wiping the filth from his face. “I’m happy to quaff anything as long as it’s liquid,” he mumbled through cracked lips. The bright lamplight showed that his face was raw and red from the heat of the fire.
As their friend brushed a tangle of hair off his brow, Wrexford saw it was singed in several spots.
“Sit down, Kit,” said the earl, reaching out to steady Sheffield’s stumble. After settling him in one of the armchairs by the hearth, he added, “You look like bloody hell.”
Charlotte hurried to bring Sheffield a glass.
A good choice, noted Wrexford. Scottish malt was stronger than French brandy . . .
—Murder at the Merton Library, coming in September 2023
The Inspiration Behind the
Wrexford & Sloane Series
I confess, given that my academic expertise in science ended in 9th grade biology class (you know, the one with formaldehyde, dead frogs and very sharp knives!) it might strike you as rather strange that science plays a big role in the plots of my Wrexford & Sloane mystery series.
I have an art background, which may seem like the polar opposite of the world of laboratories, microscopes and bubbling chemicals. I thought the same thing until I read a marvelous book called the Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes. In it, he talks about how during the Regency era, the artists and scientists all thought of themselves as kindred souls. Exploration and discovery required imagination and creative thinking—painters, poets, chemists, astronomers—they all pushed themselves to think outside the box.
Hmmm, I thought . . . these are just the same qualities required to unravel diabolical mysteries. So it suddenly struck me that having a scientist and an artist could be a really fun combination. In the Earl of Wrexford and Charlotte Sloane, I’ve sought to create two lead characters who embody the intellectual curiosity—and gritty courage—of the times. They are opposites: a brooding aristocrat whose extraordinary mind runs on the rational new principles of scientific inquiry, paired with a struggling artist whose innate cleverness and intuition are the keys to her survival. Forced to work together, Wrexford and Charlotte find they make a formidable team, despite their differences. (Ah, but as science tells us, opposites often attract!)
Okay, now I have a second confession to make—I may not be a science expert, but I’m a total Regency history geek. So it was great fun researching science during the era. Like in our own times, new discoveries and new technology were changing society. The top scientists were the hot celebrities. All the trendy people flocked to hear the public lectures at the Royal Institution, the leading scientific society in London. And yes, there were science groupies! The charismatic Humphry Davy (he’s pretty dishy, isn’t he?), the most famous chemist of the day, routinely had love letters and invitations for private hanky-panky—often wrapped in frilly undergarments—delivered backstage! (There are several scenes in my book set at the Royal Institution—I hope they will forgive me for creating intrigue and skullduggery within their hallowed halls!) You can read more about some of the real-life scientists of the Regency in the “Diversions” section. Just click here.
Now, on to more Regency goodies …
I also hope you’ll enjoy doing more exploring in the Diversions section here, which features some fun background on the Regency
and some of the people and places who appear in my books.
Just a few other things on logistics: The BLOG button in the social media icons will connect you to The Word Wenches, where Mary Jo Putney, Christina Courtenay, Patricia Rice, Anne Gracie, Nicola Cornick, Susan Fraser King and I blog about books, history, the craft of writing, and just about anything else you can think of!
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