When Hattie Davish's job takes her to Newport, Rhode Island, she welcomes the opportunity for a semi-vacation, and perhaps even a summer romance. But her hopes for relaxation are dashed when she learns that members of the local labor unions are at odds with Newport's gentry. Amidst flaring tensions, an explosion rocks the wharf. In the ensuing turmoil, Mr. Harland Whitwell, one of Newport's most eminent citizens, is found stabbed to death, his hands clutching a strike pamphlet. All signs point to a vengeful union member bent on taking down the aristocracy, but Hattie starts digging and finds a few skeletons in the closets of the impeccable Whitwell mansion. As she strikes down the whispers spilling out of Newport's rumor mill, she'll uncover a truth more scandalous than anyone imagined--and a killer with a rapacious sense of entitlement. . .
Praise For A Lack Of Temperance
"Delightful. . .cozy fans will eagerly await Hattie's next adventure." --Publishers Weekly
"This historical cozy debut showcases the author's superb research. Readers will be fascinated. . .this is a warm beginning." --Library Journal
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A Sense of Entitlement
By ANNA LOAN-WILSEY
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2014 Anna Loan-Wilsey
All rights reserved.
I was the only one on deck, or so I thought. Water dripped from the brim of my straw hat as rain splattered against my umbrella. My knuckles turned white as I clung desperately to the slippery railing. The boat lurched beneath my feet and I thanked Providence yet again that I'd forgone eating supper. Only someone as ill at ease as me would be out in this weather. As I glanced about me, the satin ribbon on my hat fluttered for a moment in the wind and then stuck to my damp cheek. I peeled it away as I took another peek beneath my umbrella. I saw no one.
"Un, deux, trois ..." I began counting in French to calm my nerves.
Why had I let Sir Arthur talk me into this?
Looking back I realized, as always, I hadn't had much of a choice. But I had erroneously thought that I would enjoy myself. Six weeks in Newport, the "Queen of Resorts" with a plethora of new plant species to collect, miles of hiking along seaside cliffs, and only some light typing duties. It would be like a vacation. At least that's what Sir Arthur said. He and his wife, Lady Phillippa, had rented a cottage in Newport for the summer Season, and having a few loose ends to finish up with his manuscript, Sir Arthur suggested that I accompany them. I grew up in the Middle West. To me an ocean was a static black and white image I saw through the lens of my mother's stereoscope. I leaped at the chance to witness the vast, churning blue sea for myself. But Sir Arthur never mentioned a boat ride.
I'd never been on a boat before and had never planned to be on one. People die on boats. At least that's what my mother told me over and over when I was a child. If I ever questioned her she would remind me that her brother burned to death on the Sultana and my father's uncle drowned after falling out of his fishing boat on Oneida Lake in New York. I grew to know she was right. One can rarely pick up a newspaper these days without finding some tragedy that is linked to the sinking or explosion of a ship. So why in heaven's name did I have to board this vessel? Sir Arthur, of course. When Sir Arthur insists on something, it's not my place to question him. In this case, I may have if a young woman in a white Gainsborough hat hadn't impatiently prodded me twice in the back of the knees with her baby carriage, thus propelling me into the crowd and toward the gangplank. Before I could voice any protest, I was aboard and following the steward to my room. My stomach churned, either from a slight case of seasickness or from swallowing the terror I felt but couldn't show, from the moment the ship pulled away from the dock. And the trip would take almost twelve hours!
Fresh air on deck didn't help. Staying belowdecks in my berth that I shared with Miss Kyler, Lady Phillippa's lady's maid, didn't help. Strolling the length of the ornate Grand Saloon, admiring the high gilded ceilings and intricate panel carvings, didn't help. Listening to the afternoon concert on the hurricane deck didn't help. I kept my seat through the march, the schottische, and the overture, but when the orchestra struck up Faust's waltz, "Golden Wedding," I felt my stomach lurch and spent the next twenty minutes clutching a water basin in the public washroom. I skipped attending the evening concert altogether. Entering the dining room for dinner, with its scents of freshly baked bread, smoked meat, and butter, certainly didn't help. I hadn't eaten since breakfast yesterday. Even listening to Miss Kyler's cheerful banter as she described past summers in Newport with Sir Arthur and Lady Phillippa in the Gallery Saloon sipping ginger ale didn't help. Regardless of the fact that to all ostensive purposes, the Providence was a floating palace for all to enjoy, nothing helped. And nothing would alleviate my fears and settle my stomach until I had my feet planted firmly on dry land.
Eventually Miss Kyler bid me good night. As sleep was out of the question, I thought I would try fresh air again. So despite the late hour and the rain, which started an hour into our journey, I sought solace out on deck. I didn't find it.
"... quatre, cinq, six, sept, huit, neuf, dix ..." I continued counting.
I jumped at the sound of the door and clenched even tighter to the railing. Before I could reproach myself for reacting so violently to the closing of the door, I heard it, over the sound of the rain spattering against the deck and the waves crashing against the sides of the boat—an audible scraping noise. I looked toward the sound to see a broad-shouldered man in a raincoat and round-crowned rubber hat, his back to me, pushing a steamer trunk along the deck. What was he doing? I wondered. Why would he have his travel trunk up on deck in the rain? Trunks were not rainproof and I visualized the effects that the rain was having on its contents: books ruined, shirts stained, hats limp and misshapen. He pushed his burden toward a gap in the railing and stopped. Why would anyone be so reckless? Surely he knew he could fall?
"Sir!" I yelled out. "Please take care!" He stepped closer to the edge. "Watch out!" I screamed to no avail. With the sound of the waves, the rain, and the distance between us, I don't think he heard me.
The boat lurched again beneath my feet. I wrapped the crook of my arm around the railing, securing myself even more as the man swayed slightly but didn't retreat from his post. Now all I could do was watch.
To my relief he gained his balance. He looked about him, as if to check for witnesses to his folly. He spotted me. We locked eyes for a moment and he scowled. Water dripped from the ends of his long, thin black mustache. A shiver went down my back that had nothing to do with the cold wind at my back. I turned my face away, appearing to gaze back out over the ocean, but watched him out of the corner of my eye. He shook his head and dismissed me with a wave of his hand as he turned back to the trunk. He crouched down and with one swift push shoved the trunk overboard. I leaned slightly over the railing, nearly losing my umbrella to the wind, and watched the trunk fall through the air and disappear into the darkness. I heard it land with a splash and imagined it bobbing up and down in the waves for a few moments before upending itself and sinking straight into the water.
What was in that trunk? I wondered. Why would anyone want to throw it overboard? My mind raced and the same thought came back to me again and again: a dead body. After finding one of my employers in one, I'd never been able to look at travel trunks the same way again. And now one was sinking down to the bottom of the ocean right below me. The fear of the boat, seasickness, and the anxiety from watching what might have been the disposal of yet another dead body were too much. I couldn't take it anymore. I retched over the side of the railing. With my stomach now empty, I wiped my mouth with a handkerchief, already damp from the rain, staggered back from the railing, and felt for the wall behind me. I inched along the wall. As I approached a door, it flung open, the light from within flooding the deck. A short, brawny man in his early fifties with a partially bald head, a graying dark brown mustache, deep-set eyes, and a dimpled chin stood in the hall. He was hatless yet otherwise impeccably dressed in formal evening attire and he looked vaguely familiar.
Where have I seen him before? I wondered. He recoiled as I dashed by him out of the rain.
"Excuse me," I said, but the gentleman was already preoccupied with the man from the deck, who had joined him from outside. I stepped around the corner. I stopped to catch my breath, not yet trusting my wobbly legs to carry me back to my room. Someone began to whistle Beethoven's "Ode to Joy."
"Who was that?" one of the men said, extremely vexed. I distinctly heard the sound of a hand brushing with the grain of a coat sleeve. "And stop doing that." The whistling stopped.
"Nobody, just some seasick lady who was out on deck," was the other's reply. "She's nothing to worry about."
"Nothing? The damn woman got me wet!" the first man said.
"Sorry, boss. I can find her for you." I held my breath. Little did they know how easily I was to be found. And what then? I wondered.
"Forget it." I let my breath out. "I want a report, man. Did you do it? Is it gone?"
"Yeah, it's gone. And trust me, no one will ever find it either."
"Good. Now let's hope that put an end to it."
"They won't be able to mistake the message, boss."
"Good, for I will not have my Season disrupted, Doubleday. Whatever it takes, do it."
"Yes, sir," the man called Doubleday said. "At least that little gnat won't be bothering you again." Little gnat? Were they talking about me or someone else?
"Let's hope no one bothers me again," the gentleman said. "Understand?"
"Let's hope so. Now get out of here. I don't want anyone seeing us together." The whistling started again.
That was my cue. Before the men turned the corner to find me eavesdropping, I tucked my umbrella under one arm, put my handkerchief to my mouth just in case I got queasy again, picked up my skirts, and ran.CHAPTER 2
"Bloody hell!" Sir Arthur said, handing the telegram to his wife, Lady Phillippa. She pursed her lips and pouted. "Apologies for my language, dear." Only Lady Phillippa could solicit an apology from Sir Arthur. She nodded her head in response and then turned her attention to the telegram. She scanned the contents.
I had met up with them and their other staff as soon as the boat docked in the Newport harbor. I hadn't slept at all and was still feeling shaky and nauseous, whether it was from the boat crossing the water or the shock I'd received from witnessing a man throw a trunk overboard I didn't know. I'd spent the last leg of the journey curled up against the wall in my berth. I regretted missing the sunrise that Miss Kyler assured me had been spectacular, but having dry land beneath my feet again made up for my disappointment. I was thrilled to be off the boat. Our entourage had just disembarked when a telegraph operator came through the crowd shouting, "Sir Arthur Windom-Greene! Urgent telegram for passenger, Sir Arthur Windom-Greene!"
"Oh, Arthur, this is terrible," Lady Phillippa said, handing back the telegram. "When will you have to leave?"
"Are you saying you're simply going to turn around and go back to New York?" "It's unavoidable, I'm afraid. Though I plan to take the express to Boston, not New York. I may be able to get a boat to Southampton tomorrow morning."
"But Arthur, we just got here!" If Lady Phillippa had been a child, she would've stomped her foot. "As it is, you'll be gone for two or three months. Can't you wait a few days?"
"The Viscount is ill, Phillippa. I have to go now. You could come with me?" Sir Arthur said, knowing full well what his wife's response would be.
"And miss the Season? Now you're being ridiculous. Besides, your father has a constitution like a warhorse."
"You're lucky you even got the telegram," a voice from nearby said. We all turned to see a lanky middle-aged man wearing the latest style of stiff-crowned hat the color of his brown hair and a well-tailored single-breasted square-cut suit. His clothes were incongruous with his unkempt, shaggy hair, untrimmed mustache, and purplish bruise on his left cheek.
"Excuse me?" Sir Arthur said, not even trying to hide his annoyance at being eavesdropped on. The man was oblivious to Sir Arthur's tone.
"Mark my words, the telegraph operators are going on strike this morning at eight o'clock sharp. You're lucky you arrived when you did or you wouldn't have gotten it in the first place."
"Strike?" Lady Phillippa said. "You must be mistaken, sir. This is July in Newport. There are no strikes in Newport and certainly not during the Season." The man simply shrugged.
"I guess even workers in Newport want better pay and fewer hours. Something to think about, eh, lady?" the man said, tipping his hat. As he stepped into the crowd, an elderly man in a top hat purposely tripped him with a cane, sending him stumbling into several passersby.
Why would someone do that? I wondered as the man with the cane disappeared into the crowd.
"Hey, watch where you're going," one passerby said.
"Pardon me," the shaggy-haired man said before he too mixed in with the crowd.
"Well, I never," Lady Phillippa said, completely flustered and oblivious to the intentional tripping.
"Don't worry, dear. The locals know better than to do anything to disturb the Season. Well," Sir Arthur said, gesturing to his valet to retrieve his trunks from the wagon the poor man had loaded only moments ago, "I'm off."
His wife presented a cheek, which he duly pecked with the slightest of kisses. "Say hello to your papa for me." And that was it for good-byes. Sir Arthur motioned to his valet and started to walk away.
"Sir?" I said, flabbergasted by this sudden turn in events. If Sir Arthur was to be gone for two or three months, what was to become of me? He wasn't even going to say good-bye.
"Ah, Hattie! Blast it! I'd forgotten all about you," Sir Arthur said.
Lady Phillippa eyed me. "Isn't she going with you?" his wife said.
A sudden horror struck me. My heart started pounding and I broke out in a cold sweat at the thought of accompanying Sir Arthur. If I had had trouble crossing from New York City to Newport, I couldn't imagine how I'd manage an ocean voyage.
"No," Sir Arthur said, to my utmost relief. "As much as your skills would be most helpful, Hattie, this is a private family matter. I'll have to attend to the details myself."
"Yes, I can see that is most appropriate, Arthur," his wife said, tending to speak in my presence as if I weren't there. "But what of the girl, then?"
I first met Lady Phillippa briefly two days after I'd been in Sir Arthur's employ. She had accompanied him to Kansas City, the first and only time she had joined him on one of his research trips. She had been civil when Sir Arthur introduced me but little else. In the intervening years since then, I had worked many times for Sir Arthur at his home in Virginia, including this spring as I helped him finish his latest manuscript, and had interacted with Lady Phillippa on several occasions. As when we first met, she was always civil but withdrawn. She was a loving mother and a renowned hostess, but unlike her husband, who treated me like a trusted confidante, I was nothing but a "typewriter" to her. Hence she was more than a little surprised when Sir Arthur insisted I accompany them to Newport and, "as we were almost finished with the work," have a well-earned holiday. I had always admired Sir Arthur's generosity, but this sounded too good to be true. As I'd never seen the sea before and only heard rumors of the glorious "Queen of Resorts," I jumped at the chance. Lady Phillippa was not thrilled, but as I stayed out of her way and gave no cause for her to regret my presence, she did nothing to prevent me from going. Of course, what Sir Arthur wants, Sir Arthur gets....
"You still have the manuscript to finish typing," Sir Arthur said to me in response to his wife's question. "That will take a week or two." I nodded. "And I trust you can submit it to my publisher and make any copy edits on my behalf without having to consult me?"
"Of course," I said.
"You can wire any major changes I may need to consider."
"So that gives you about three weeks of work."
"But that only puts her into August, Arthur," Lady Phillippa said.
"We'll call it an even month then. I'll have your wages arranged to be wired when I get to New York. And of course you can stay at the cottage during that time."
"What shall I do for the last week or so, sir?" I asked.
"Take that holiday I mentioned."
"Arthur," Lady Phillippa said. "Isn't that being a bit too generous?"
Sir Arthur ignored his wife. "And after that time has expired, I grant you permission to write your own recommendation letter and sign my name."
"Arthur!" Lady Phillippa objected. "That's absurd. I know she's been helpful to you, but you can't trust—"
"Phillippa," Sir Arthur said sternly. His wife blushed at the rebuke. I'd only heard Sir Arthur speak to his wife that way once. I was mortified to be the cause of his sharp tone again. "Hattie can be trusted. You'd be wise to remember that while I'm gone." Lady Phillippa glanced at me, but I couldn't read her expression.
Excerpted from A Sense of Entitlement by ANNA LOAN-WILSEY. Copyright © 2014 Anna Loan-Wilsey. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The traveling secretary and detective Hattie Davish (Hattie Davish Mystery #3) comes this time, for six glorious weeks to a small wealthy New England town of Newport, Rhode Island for her latest, A SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT. (#2 Galena, Illinois) and (# 1 Eureka Springs, AR). Everyone knows Newport best for the Mansions. These sprawling summer “cottages” were once the home to the great American industrialist and captains of industry. Hattie is not sure how she let Sir Arthur talk her into this trip; however, she thought she would enjoy herself for six weeks in Newport, the Queen of Resorts, with new plant species to collect, miles of hiking along the seaside cliffs, , and some light typing duties- you know, a vacation. (at least that’s what Sir Arthur said). He and his wife, Lady Phillippa had rented a cottage in Newport for the summer season, with his manuscript to finish, she agreed to accompany them. Twelve hours on a bloody bloat! Why would Mr. Mayhew want a trunk thrown overboard? Before she has time to think of relaxation in this small quaint town and possibly a summer romance, she learns members of the local labor unions are at odds with Newport’s gentry. How could workers be on strike in July in Newport, in season? All sort of complications happen upon arrival leaving Hattie to work with the high society families, which of course are full of secrets and lies. Charlotte Mayhew was the wife of one of the wealthiest men in American. Along with Mrs. Astor and Mrs. Vanderbilt, she was purported to be one Newport’s society’s grande dames, with her husband, one of the most influential men in the country. (social standing among other things was vitally important to this wealthy class). A mystery begins when Mr. Harland Whitwell, one of Newport's most eminent citizens, is found stabbed to death, his hands clutching a strike pamphlet. Of course there is more to investigate with a few secrets and skeletons in the closets of the Whitwell mansion and more prejudices and demands of the rich and wealthy—those who think they are above the law, of course Hattie makes her list of eight people who may want the labor man dead. They range from Nicholas, Doubleday, Mayhew, Crankshaw, James, Charlotte, Jane or Eugenine, or someone else? She does enjoy her two older lady friends somewhat and then there is Dr. Walter Grice, (love interest)? from an earlier book and his mother Julia is staying with her friends—more drama there. A smart detective, begins to uncover more scandals and she dives into the lives of the wealthy in the late 19th century. She struggles between her loyalty to her employer and the guilty parties. For those readers who enjoy historical crime mysteries with detailed research about these areas, Anna Loan-Wilsey's novels journey through areas of the world of the latter nineteenth century with great adventure. As you step back in history, Hattie becomes the heroine and an integral part in solving the mysteries. Readers will be transported to the time, and will enjoy the cozy mystery of who did it!
Another wonderful mystery with Hattie Davish serving as secretary/typewriter to the "entitled" upper crust of American society - this time in Newport, Rhode Island. Hattie once again is thrown into murder investigation at the request/demand of her "privileged" employer. Poor Hattie is pushed into the employ of Mrs. Mayhew when Sir Arthur is called away and his wife has no need for Hattie's services. You definitely get a real taste of upstairs/downstairs in this particular book. I got quite indignant at the way the rich treated their servants throughout the book. You got a real sense of what it must be like to be one of the servants and at the beck and call of the whims/demands of the rich employers. I loved how some of the secondary cast of characters were able to make an appearance in this book as well. Book #3 in the series was another fun addition to the Hattie series. I'll definitely be reading the next book.
A Sense of Entitlement by Anna Loan-Wilsey is the third in the Hattie Davish Mystery series. It is an amazing insight into the lives of the fabulously wealthy and their servants near the end of the Gilded Age (late 1800’s) in Newport, Rhode Island during the summer “Season.” The setting portrays the grandeur of palatial homes along with sweeping vistas of land and sea. The excesses of the wealthy, in their food, dress, and accoutrements are described in delightful detail, all the while eliciting disgust at the disparity between the classes. The characters are clearly described and defined within the separation between the entitled and the working class. One might see a parallel between the Robber Barons of the Gilded Age versus the laborers and similar issues of today. There is a clear difference in attitudes, actions and speech between the classes. It is hard to feel much sympathy towards those who think of the people working for them as less than human and not worthy of their kindness. And the plot! A delicious blending of a tricky murder (or two?) with a riveting account of the early days of labor protests. I certainly didn’t anticipate the solutions to the puzzles. The pacing was fast enough to keep me reading until the middle of the night, but still left time for insightful descriptions of all facets of this fascinating era of American history. And here’s the best part: For those of you who have read the first two books in this series, you will be thrilled at what happens at the end. (No spoilers!) If you love a good cozy mystery mixed up with an historical romance, this series will become one of your favorites. I can’t wait for the next one!
Murder is in this Season While it isn't quite what she expected when she arrived in Newport, Rhode Island, for the summer, Hattie Davish has landed a job as the social secretary for Mrs. Mayhew. A confirmed social climber, Mrs. Mayhew throws lots of parties in hopes of making it into the upper, upper crust of society. However, not everything is blissfully peaceful this season. Not too long after Hattie arrives, she learns that the telegram workers are going on strike. In fact, there is a labor organizer trying to talk the household staffs at the various "cottages" (read mansions) into striking as well. After an explosion and a murder, Mrs. Mayhew decides that having the inside scoop on what is happening will increase her social standing, so she adds investigation to Hattie's duties. But can Hattie uncover the truth? While this is the third in the series, it was my first visit to the 1890's with Hattie. I enjoyed this look into a different time in our country's history, and I found the labor issues that were addressed interesting. Hattie was a wonderful main character, and I felt the rest of the cast came to life as well. The only issue was the pacing, which was off a couple of times. Still, by the end I was turning pages to find out who done it. I don't always hear about historical mysteries, so I'm glad I took the chance to read this one. If you are looking to travel back in time via the page, be sure to check this series out. NOTE: I received an ARC in exchange for my honest review.