Stella Kendrick is an all-American heiress who can’t be tamed. But when the lively aspiring equine trainer tangles with British aristocracy, she meets her match—and a murderer . . .
Spring, 1905: Free-spirited like the Thoroughbreds she rides across the Kentucky countryside, Stella takes adventure by the reins when she’s asked to attend a mysterious wedding in rural England. But once she arrives at the lush Morrington Hall estate, her cold and ambitious father confesses that he won’t only give away his best racehorses as gifts—he has also arranged to give away his daughter as bride to the Earl of Atherly’s financially strapped son . . .
Stella refuses to be sold off like a prized pony. Yet despite a rough start, there’s something intriguing about her groom-to-be, the roguish Viscount “Lyndy” Lyndhurst. The unlikely pair could actually be on the right track with each other . . . until they find the vicar who was to marry them dead in the library.
With culture clashes mounting between families, a scandalous murder case hangs over Morrington Hall. Now, Stella and Lyndy must go from future spouses to amateur sleuths as they team up to search for the truth—and prevent an unbridled criminal from destroying their new life together right out of the gate . . .
About the Author
Clara McKenna has a B.A. in Biology from Wells College and a M.L.I.S in Library and Information Studies from McGill University. She is the founding member of Sleuths in Time, a cooperative group of historical mystery writers who encourage and promote each other’s work. She is also a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.
Read an Excerpt
May 1905Hampshire, England
"Americans are different, Mother."
Lyndy pulled on the lapels of his morning coat and paced the room, studying the portraits lining the walls, as he had since childhood. The pale faces stared down at him with disapproval, or so he always thought. Some wore lace ruffs; others, long curly wigs; two were in full dress uniform; and one countess clutched a silver, pearl-encrusted cross. All his ancestors, God forbid, dour and boring to the last. Not unlike the many prospects his parents had paraded past him during the Season in London over the years. Was different too much to hope for?
"Not this one. I have your father's assurances."
Papa looked up from the map he'd spread out on the small satinwood inlaid table between the French windows, the vase of pink peonies he'd displaced near his feet on the floor. Lyndy glanced over his father's shoulder at the map, a partial sketch of a region in the American West called Wyoming.
"Yes, Frances. She's quite the young lady, or so I've been told." Lord of the manor he may be, but Papa was far too willing to give Mother her assurances.
"Perhaps Miss Kendrick will be one of these radical Americans we've all heard of," Lyndy said, peering out the window. A pair of ponies emerged from the woodland and drank from the grassy edge of the pond. "Maybe she'll drink Irish whiskey instead of coffee after dinner." That would be a bit much even for Lyndy, but Mother needn't know that.
Papa, bent over, studying his map again, laughed.
"I don't know how you can find any of this humorous, William. If it were not for your ... hobbies" — Mother waved an accusing finger at Papa's map — "we might not be in this predicament."
"The boy was only joking."
Mother raised her eyes, appealing to a higher power for forbearance.
What would be so wrong with a woman taking a sip of whiskey now and then? Like so many of society's rules, it seemed archaic. Like the one not allowing them to sell any land. It was their land, wasn't it? Or the one enabling his parents to determine his fate. It was his life, wasn't it?
"Lyndy, why must you always —" Mother began.
"My lord, the guests have arrived." Another quarrel averted. Fulton always did have impeccable timing.
* * *
"Move over," Daddy grumbled. "You're too far to the left."
Stella ignored him. She was having too much fun. Digging her heel in, she lifted as far out of her seat as she could. The chimneys of Morrington Hall, reflecting in the first rays of sun in days, jutted up in the distance, above the ancient trees, and she wanted to see more.
But Stella wasn't used to driving from the right side of the car. Feeling the wheels pull toward the middle of the road again, she steered sharply to the right, instead of the left. The vehicle swerved to the right, crossed the lane, and headed straight for the open heathland, a rolling patchwork of ferns, heather, bright green grazing lawns, and yellow flowering gorse bushes, before she corrected the wheel.
"For God's sake, sit down!"
Stella plopped back down into the black leather seat of the brand-new 22 hp Daimler automobile and stole a glance at Daddy. He stared straight ahead, nose in the air, gray hairs protruding out of his ears. With his bottom waistcoat button undone to accommodate his considerable girth, he clutched his leather bag tighter to his chest. Too bad she wasn't leaving him at Morrington Hall instead of Tully. She sighed.
Pushing aside the pale pink motoring veil billowing around her face, she pictured the parade of wagons following her. Daddy had spared no expense in assuring the comfort and safety of his prize thoroughbreds: fresh air and fresh hay on the ship; a refitted first-class carriage on the train; the customized ambulance wagons for the trip from Southampton; and a groom, Roy, to tend to them personally. She'd enjoyed every minute of the ten-day trip from Bronson Ridge Farm, their home in Kentucky. It was her first trip to England. It was her first trip anywhere besides New York and Newport. But the adventure was bittersweet. Even now, with Morrington Hall within sight, she couldn't reconcile losing her best friend. When she returned home, she'd be leaving her horse behind.
"Watch out for that buggy up ahead," Daddy warned.
Orson, the stallion inside the lead wagon, snorted and stomped as the skittish bay mare pulled the buggy past. Stella waved, but the buggy's driver scowled at the strange conveyance.
"Tell me again why you're giving Orson, Tupper, and Tully to this viscount, Lord Lyndhurst?" Stella asked.
"If Cicero wins the Derby at Epsom this week, Orson, being his sire, will be the most valuable stud in England."
"Then why give him away? And why give up Tupper? You expected her to win the Belmont Stakes this year." Daddy might breed some of the best racehorses in the world, but even so, prospects like Tupper were rare.
"Because it suits me."
"But why Tully, Daddy?" He knew she was Stella's favorite.
Stella gripped the steering wheel as tightly as she could. The automobile glided down the wooded lane, its blue metallic fenders gleaming in the sunlight that filtered through the leaves. Gnarled oak, redwood, ancient beech, yew, and holly towered above them. Silence. Having lost all feeling in her fingers, Stella loosened her grip and inhaled. The air smelled fresh, earthy, and sweet after the morning's rain. How could she be upset on a day like this?
"Don't you want to ride Tully while you're here?" Daddy said.
"You know I do." Could Daddy have brought the horse to please her? "You're not giving Tully to the viscount?"
"Why would I do that?"
Truly? The kind gesture was so unlike him. But then, so was inviting her to accompany him on this trip. What brought about this change? Whatever it was, she couldn't be more grateful for it.
"I haven't thanked you for bringing me along on this trip, Daddy."
"No need. Just drive," Daddy said as Stella smiled at him. Daddy had never been one for any demonstration of affection.
"Like this?" Stella, biting her lip, pushed down on the accelerator. How fast could this car go?
Stella laughed as she caught a glimpse in her side-view mirror of Great- Aunt Rachel in the backseat. The old lady, wrinkles deep around her puckered mouth, clutched her hat, the plume of black ostrich feathers flapping in the breeze. Her squinting eyes — dark blue, like Stella's own — popped open.
"Whoa, girlie!" Aunt Rachel shouted.
Stella snapped her attention forward. A cluster of ponies, a mix of chestnut and bay, with powerful hindquarters, stood rooted to the middle of the road a few yards away. As one, they bolted, scattering in every direction. Stella yanked hard on the steering wheel and veered around the slowest of the bunch. The wheels bumped up over a small boulder, sending everyone bouncing out of their seats. The car plunked down, brush and twigs crunching beneath the tires.
Whack! Daddy yelled something inaudible as the side of the Daimler connected with a long, sharp branch of a tree. As Stella struggled to control the steering wheel and keep them from careening off the road, the ponies trotted out of harm's way. With a final swerve and swish of the back wheels, the car straightened in the lane again.
Stella laughed with relief.
"What the hell was that?" Daddy said.
"New Forest ponies," Roy said from the backseat. Leave it to the groom to know about every breed of horse and pony in the world.
Like a creature from a mythical land: unicorn, centaur, New Forest pony. Stella looked at the groom in the side-view mirror. He'd pushed his goggles onto his high forehead, exposing two clean rings around his eyes, where the dust hadn't settled. Although gripping the edge of his seat, he studied the ponies as they passed.
"The New Forest region is famous for them," he said.
Stella smiled at the term the New Forest. On the ship, Roy had told her all about it and its mythical ponies. An odd name for a place created as a royal hunting ground by King William the Conqueror over eight hundred years ago.
"The Ancient Forest is more appropriate, don't you think?" Stella said.
"Wild ponies?" Daddy said. "Shouldn't they be rounded up? They look hardy enough to be good workhorses. Left to wander, they're a nuisance."
Stella waited for Roy to say more — to tell Daddy that New Forest ponies weren't wild at all and were rounded up on occasion, or to explain why the region was called "new" when it was ancient or "forest" when it was mostly heathland. Stella had even overheard the locals say 'on the forest' like they would say 'on the range' back home. But the groom had fallen silent again.
"Actually, Daddy," Stella began, "the ponies —"
"Finally," Daddy grumbled. Stella gazed up at the arch as she passed through the wrought-iron gates. "I thought we'd never get here."
"Me neither." Stella eagerly glanced around her.
As she drove the mile-long gravel drive, passing more ponies grazing out on the lawns, Morrington Hall came into full view. Stella was used to luxurious homes. The Kendricks had a townhome on Fifth Avenue in New York, a summer cottage in Newport, and a three-story white-pillared "farmhouse" in Kentucky. But nothing rivaled Morrington Hall, which was more reminiscent of Grand Central Station in New York City than any home Stella had ever seen, in opulence and grandeur. The large bricks of gray and yellow stone that made up the house, if one could call it that, spoke of its unquestionable permanency. With a half a dozen gables and four turrets, the building rose four stories, like a castle. Chimneys, haphazardly placed and too numerous to count, climbed at least a dozen feet more. Stella guessed it would take her several minutes, walking swiftly, to cross from one end of the house to the other. Surrounding the colossal home were sculptured gardens, a large pond, wooded parklands, rolling pastures, extensive grazing lawns, fenced paddocks, and heathland as far as she could see. The stables, tucked away on the edge of the woodland and made of the same stone as the house, were almost as large as her house in Kentucky. She couldn't wait to explore.
"Slow down," Daddy said.
Stella let the car coast as they approached the house. Waiting for them on the front steps and in the gravel drive were the Searlwyns, owners of this grand estate, and their household staff.
The Earl of Atherly, in contrast to Daddy, fit his morning coat impeccably, with his lean, athletic build. Only the silver threading through his dark brown hair attested to his being Daddy's peer. Beside him stood his wife. Lady Atherly's high-necked collar, the lace brushing the bottom of her chin, her curled hair mounded on the crown of her head, and her Roman nose tilted up created the impression that the countess nearly matched her husband in strength and height. Standing beside them, clutching the lapels of his morning coat, was a man in his midtwenties. With the addition of a dimpled chin and high cheekbones, he was a younger and more dashing version of Lord Atherly. Viscount Lyndhurst, no doubt. Unlike his father, who stood as erect as a rooted tree, Lord Lyndhurst exuded barely contained energy, like a cat ready to pounce. Beside Lord Lyndhurst stood a wisp of a girl a few years younger than Stella. With a sweet face and rounded shoulders, she withered in the shadow of the others around her. She had to be the viscount's fiancée. Stella didn't envy her.
Lined up in single file off to the side on the gravel drive were members of the household staff, or at least some of them — the butler, his nose rivaling his mistress's in heightened angle; the housekeeper, her eyes darting about, noticing everything; a lady's maid perhaps, with a tidy, stylish coiffure; a handsome footman in full livery; and two housemaids in black dresses and crisp white aprons. With a house this big, there had to be an army of servants out of sight.
Without exception, every face wore a stern or, at best, blank expression. Stella couldn't understand it. Wasn't there to be a wedding in a few days? Weren't they receiving two champion racehorses from Daddy as gifts? Not to mention the excitement of the upcoming Derby at Epsom Downs. She'd heard about the race all her life. Why weren't they all giddy with excitement?
As Stella untied the motoring veil from her chin, a slight breeze caught it, and it floated in front of her face. It turned the world — the clouds, the sky, the gravel drive, the close-cut lawn, the towering stone mansion, Lord Atherly and family, even Daddy — into a pale pink haze. How lovely it all was.
And then Daddy smiled. Nothing good ever came when Daddy smiled.
* * *
Reverend John Bullmore came to a decision. He set his empty teacup on the square oak inlaid side table and stuffed the last lemon biscuit in his mouth.
It will be awkward once the Americans have arrived, but needs must.
He pulled out his pocket watch; he still had a few minutes. He snapped it closed and approached the glass-paneled mahogany display case set against the one wall of the library not lined with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. He'd been staring at the birds in the display case while he sipped his tea, while he considered what to do next. Each bird specimen had a label. Each had been collected on or near the grounds of Morrington Hall by the current Earl of Atherly and his father: honey buzzard, sparrow hawk, curlew, lapwing, hawfinch, stonechat, even a tiny, rare Dartford warbler. Unable to decide which was more reminiscent of himself, the scrawny purple heron or the gray-feathered shrike, Reverend Bullmore bent over to look at the magpie in the case. Its glass eyes stared back. He'd always been fascinated by the black-and-white bird. A crick in his back forced him upright.
If only life were black and white.
The vicar hobbled to the fire. Warming the spasms out of his back, he licked the glistening butter off his fingers, the scent of lamb and roast chicken mingling with the tea on his breath. It would be sinful to let even a taste of such a lovely meal go to waste. He appreciatively patted his slightly bulging stomach. A rare treat indeed.
When was the last time he'd committed the sin of gluttony? He couldn't remember. He couldn't remember the last opportunity. Three years at Everton Abbey had seen to that. Had it been worth it? After yesterday, he had his doubts. Either way, he hadn't been this satiated or this comfortable in years, thanks be to God.
And thanks be to Lord Atherly for allowing him to officiate at his son's approaching nuptials. Reverend Bullmore eagerly anticipated the invitations to many more sumptuous meals. He'd been unpacking down at the vicarage when he received his first summons here. Was he worthy of such a sacred task? Lady Atherly had asked as he bit into an exquisite slice of Victoria sponge. He'd faltered a moment. Did she know about the trouble? No, if she did, the bishop would've been sipping Lord Atherly's port last night, and not he. Yes, Lord and Lady Atherly would be remembered in his prayers this night.
Sufficiently warmed by the fire, he settled into a well-worn leather club chair to wait. Shunning the thousands of books surrounding him, he picked up the crumpled copy of the Sporting Life, left behind on the table. The Derby was two days away, and he was woefully uninformed. He flipped through the pages but saw nothing. Had he made the right decision? He still had time to change his mind.
Reverend Bullmore raised his head when the door creaked open. Who could that be? Surely, it wasn't time to meet with the marrying couple. The Americans hadn't even arrived yet. Sucking the last of his lunch from his thumb, he set down his racing paper to greet the new arrival. With a smile and butter on his lips, he never saw the blow coming.CHAPTER 2
"Is that a woman driving?" Lyndy said, a hint of amusement in his voice.
His Majesty the King rode in a Daimler like that at the Newmarket races a few weeks ago. Lyndy was envious. Several of his friends were driving about London in the new conveyances. Due to the financial straits his family found themselves in, he hadn't been allowed to get a motorcar, yet.
"Don't be ridiculous, Lyndy," Mother said. Without looking at him, she added, "Calm yourself and stand still. Don't act so nervous."
Lyndy stopped shifting his weight from one foot to the other. His mother was wrong, though. He wasn't nervous. He was thrilled, the wedding notwithstanding. The champion thoroughbreds in those wagons were soon to be his, all his. A childhood dream come true.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Murder at Morrington Hall"
Copyright © 2019 Anna Loan-Wilsey.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Clara McKenna left me guessing to the end! The story and characters were wonderfully written. Lyndy and Stella work so well together and I am very excited to go on more adventures with them.
A great start to a new series! I enjoyed everything about this story (except Stella's Dad - what an odious man!). I can't wait to see what future books bring!
This was a really fun read for me. It was a bit slow in the beginning and a tiny bit overly descriptive but that quickly faded away as the plot picked up pace. The main character, Stella, was very well done and I found that I liked her immensely. She has a very strong personality and it worked well with the story line. I could also relate to her love of horses as I have 4 of my own. Overall, I enjoyed the book and am looking forward to book two!
An arranged marriage between an unknown American daughter, Stella Kendrick, whose father, Elijah Kendrick, an American multi-millionaire, whose made his fortune in horse racing and breeding to the English aristocratic family of the Earl of Anthony, whose son, William Lyndhurst. Elijah brings the American money, which is vitally needed by the Earl of Anthony, who is cash poor, but land rich. A common occurrence in the early part of the 20th Century. Each family wants to impress one another and gains one's acceptance in high society. One small setback occurs, when Stella and Lyndy find the vicar dead. Later they find out he was carrying upon himself a money belt, which is gone. Is theft the motive? Why would a vicar be caring a money belt? Is the the arranged marriage doomed? And to make matters worse, Orson the prized stud horse, who is part of Stella's dowry has been stolen. The author sets the tone by establishing the staunch differences in etiquette, manners and cordial respect between the brash, wild and free thinking Americans and the strict English aristocratic protocols and behavior. Their clashes at times can be funny, awkward, rude and embarrassing. An essential element of the story. Stella and Lyndy slowly come together, as they try to understand and respect one another's character. They jointly investigate the murder of the vicar, brings them closer together, as the barrier of their differences, slowly dissolve. I was entertained by this mystery and the author's main contrast of the respective families is a delight to read, as we become more familiar with each family and as the families attempts to overcome their differences, as difficult as they are. The supporting characters are an integral part to the story and they are exceptionally appealing and add some humor to the story. This is my first, in what I hope to be many more mysteries involving Stella and Lyndy. Clara McKenna has a creative and clever approach to murder mysteries and she was able to keep the motivated and intrigued, throughout the story. She has a gift for flair of nice, cozy mysteries we all like to read and I hope she is able to establish herself as an exceptional author, as she continues to write.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review. I thoroughly enjoyed this historical mystery. If I recall correctly, this is the first in a planned series. I will definitely watch out for the others in the series. The hero and heroine were entertaining and I thought all of the characters were well fleshed out. I did figure out who the murderer was, but not until the last quarter of the book.
I thought this was a fun cozy mystery that kept me guessing who the murderer was until the end. I liked the main characters of Lyndy and Stella, and thought they made a good couple. I had great sympathy for Stella and the unexpected dilemma she was facing due to the cruelty and uncaring of her father. It took me a little bit longer to warm up to Lyndy, but by the end of the book I had decided he would make a good husband for Stella. For some reason, I had problems smoothly shifting back and forth from the point of view of Lyndy or Stella. I also got tired of Stella’s dad being so obnoxious, but it did serve its purpose in the storyline. These are just minor things, and I’m looking forward to reading more of their story in the next book in the series. I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
a smashing start to a new series MURDER AT MORRINGTON HALL by Clara McKenna The First Stella and Lyndy Mystery American heiress Stella Kendrick is happy to accompany her father to bring some of their thoroughbred racehorses to England and attend the wedding of Viscount “Lyndy” Lyndhurst. What Stella doesn’t know is that she is the intended bride! Angry, embarrassed, and hurt, Stella vows she will not wed a man she doesn’t even know. Although forced to marry Stella to save the family home Lyndy is pleasantly surprised when he meets the forthright American. While giving his intended bride a tour of Morrington Hall the pair discover the vicar dead in the library. The startling discovery brings the two closer together as they team up to help solve the murder. Could they truly make a match, or will a murderer put an end to it all? With racehorses, romance, dastardly characters, and a murder set in a sublime English country setting this Edwardian mystery ticks all the right boxes. Stella is charming while being an intelligent free spirit. You can't help but sympathize with this fish out of water as she faces the scorn of her hostess while managing the abuses her father places on her. While Lyndy could be seen as a bit of a wastrel, we see his goodness and strength of character as he becomes enchanted with Stella whilst becoming disillusioned by his best friend. Written in the third person, there is a changing point of view as well. It can be a bit disconcerting viewing things from Stella's perspective and then switching to Lyndy's. I did, however, really enjoy seeing both of their reactions and thoughts which created a more well rounded story. MURDER AT MORRINGTON HALL is a smashing start to a new series. I was intrigued by the mystery, enthralled by the growing relationship between Stella and Lyndy, and impressed with Stella's fortitude. I look forward to watching their romance, as well as their investigative skills, blossom. FTC Disclosure – The publisher sent me a copy of this book in the hopes I would review it.
3.5 stars This promising debut novel introduces American heiress Stella Kendrick. Her father, wealthy but uncouth, has taken her to England and arranged (without Stella's knowledge) for her to wed a British aristocrat who needs an infusion of cash. Stella and Lord Lyndy get off to a rough start. Lyndy is a smug, entitled rich boy who smirks a lot and Stella is put off. Then a murder occurs, some jewels are stolen and an expensive racehorse goes missing. Stella and her fiance are thrown together as they try to figure out who the murderer is. Stella does not get a warm welcome. British society is aghast at her forthright unconventional manners. Lyndy however begins to be captivated and realizes he genuinely cares for his bride to be, Stella can't figure out what course she wants to pursue or what her true feelings are. Stella is an original and appealing character. Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
An American heiress “fish-out-of-water” in England, romance, horses, the Edwardian era, and murder – all of these elements caught my eye and come together to make a marvelous first book in the Stella and Lyndy Mystery series by Clara McKenna. Stella, daughter of a self made Kentucky horseman, finds herself on the auctioning block when she and her odious father travel to England under the guise of selling some prize horses to Lord Atherly. Stella is stunned to find out that she is part of the bargain, betrothed to the Atherly’s son Lyndy. When the local vicar, who was supposed to perform the wedding, is found murdered, the prize stallion stolen, and a houseguest attacked, Stella and Lyndy combine forces to get to the bottom of it all…and they might fall in love along the way. I really like no-nonsense Stella. She is smart, independent (especially given the era), and spunky, all qualities that make her a wonderful amateur sleuth. At first, I did not like Lyndy much, but he grew on me, morphing from a stuck up, entitled heir to worthy fiancé. The pair has good chemistry from the start, and I look forward to seeing how they progress in future installments, both romantically and as investigative partners. The supporting characters are varied and interesting, if unlikable at times, and I enjoyed getting to know them all. I do hope that Lady Atherly eases up on Stella. The mystery is complex with enough red herrings to keep me guessing until the very end. I truthfully did not know the killer’s identity. The pace of the tale is nice and steady, and there is plenty of period detail to ring true. MURDER AT MORRINGTON HALL is thoughtful and entertaining. Highly recommended. Thanks to Kensington Publishers’ generosity, I received an ARC of this title through NetGalley and voluntarily shared my thoughts here.
I am always on the lookout for a great new series to read, and Murder at Morrington Hall is a great first book that will leave you wanting to read the next one right away. The book is set in pre WWI England, in a period when many American heiresses were wed to land rich/money poor British Aristocracy. Our heroine Stella has been brought to Morrington Hall by her father under false pretenses. She thinks they are selling one of her favorite horses to Lord Lyndhurst. What she doesn’t know is that it is she who has been “sold” in that her father has arranged her marriage to the Lord. This premise could be very dark, in the wrong hands, but the author treats Stella's situation with a deft hand, addressing all her fears and misgivings, as well as issues from having a father like this (!) in compelling fashion. The tension between American and British attitudes and manners feels very authentic. And the mystery itself is very satisfying, as is the relationship between Stella and Lyndy, as they work to solve it. If you are a fan of Downton Abbey, you will certainly enjoy the ins and outs of this story with characters from all the various classes represented. If you aren’t familiar with Downton, but enjoy compelling historical mysteries, this book will definitely fit the bill.
Clara McKenna's debut novel, Murder at Morrington Hall, is the first in a promising new mystery series. Stella Kendrick is an American heiress from Kentucky, who is under the impression that she is accompanying her father for business to deliver some of their racehorses to be presented as a wedding gift. She is horrified to discover after her arrival, that she is part of the buisness deal as well. Her father has arranged a marriage for her to a member of the British arisotcracy and the racehorses are being offered to sweeten the deal. Stella discovers the deception the very day of her arrival and is determined that she will not be managed by her father, won't be married off to this stranger. Her intended groom is the Viscount Lyndhurst, or Lyndy, only son and heir to the Earl of Atherly. The estate is failing and so saving it rests on thier ability to marry their son to a young woman from a wealthy family, while thowing in a few race horses for good measure. The book starts of being about this marriage arrangement and Stella and Lyndy's feelings about the arrangement, but it soon takes a turn towards mystery as the pair stumble across a dead body in the library. The murder is only the start of strange things happening around the estate. Stella and Lyndy learn to work together as they seek to find the responsible party. A lovely little cozy mystery and a quick read, it's engaging and entertaining. There are red herrings and plot twists to that keep the story going and the mystery fresh, well worth the read. There were several subplots, which would normally weigh down a mystery and detract from the story, but the author balanced them all so perfectly. I'm very excited about this author and will be looking forward to reading the next in the series to see how things develop between Stella and Lyndy and to jump into a new mystery! I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a new author and is a fan of the cozy or historical mystery genres. I received a copy of this book from Kensington Books via NetGalley. This is my honest review.
After traveling to England for what she thinks will be a holiday, American heiress Stella quickly discovers she will not return to America but instead is to be married to the viscount of Morrington Hall, Lord Lyndy. Much to her surprise she is also embroiled in a murder, assault, and theft. Even an old scandal that rocked the aristocrats years ago is brought back to life. The novel was a wonderful, light read for those evenings when you need to take your mind of the day to day 21st century life. I enjoyed the various points of view but also found it a bit confusing when chapters abruptly went from what the inspector was doing, to Stella to Lord Lyndy. I felt connected to the characters and enjoyed Stella's American personality and how the English aristocrats reacted to her actions and words. I found this a great first novel in what I hope will be a series. I'd love to check in on Lyndy and Stella in the future to see if the wedding goes off without a hitch or if another murder will postpone the day.
Clara McKenna's Murder at Morrington Hall is a lovely English cozy mystery with the addition of a little romance between the two main characters, Stella and Lyndy. Set in Hampshire in 1905, Stella has traveled from Kentucky with her father and, unbeknownst to her, it's been arranged that she wed Lyndy (Viscount Lyndhurst), As if the initial shock of her impending nuptials wasn't enough, Stella stumbles across the murdered body of the vicar who was to marry the couple which sets this spunky American heiress on the path to discovering who had it in for the man of the cloth, and why! Nice start to a new series by author Clara McKenna, and I quite enjoyed it!
Murder at Morrington Hall, is such a delightful new Edwardian mystery! American heiress Stella Kendrick is being unknowingly bartered in marriage to Viscount (Lyndy) Lyndhurst by her cold, selfish father. An English title in return for thoroughbred horses. The spirited Stella’s initial rejection is complicated when she and Lyndy discover the body of the vicar who was to marry them. Everyone becomes a suspect. When Orson, a valuable thoroughbred brought from America as part of the marriage bargain, is stolen the stakes are raised. Stella and Lyndy work together to solve the mystery, resulting in a partnership and tentative relationship. I really enjoyed Stella from the very beginning. She is feisty, yet warm and kind, trying to be true to herself while coming to grips with her situation. Lyndy evolved from mildly shallow aristocrat to an appealing, warm character with depth. The historical period is well researched, and I enjoyed the introduction to American “dollar princesses” and their impact on the British aristocracy. The mystery was well plotted, and I found myself unsure of the outcome…almost until the end. This was a very enjoyable and fun read. I’m really looking forward to the next in this series, and more adventures with Stella and Lyndy! Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington for the advance reader copy made available for my review.
This was an incredibly delightful historical mystery.....the first in what I hope will be a long series involving Stella Kendrick. This takes place in 1905 England when women were still sold off to the highest bidder as a wife among the wealthy and titled of the era. But Stella will not be bartered like this...or will she? She and her possibly future spouse join forces to solve a very well crafted mystery. It's a lot of fun and is full of interesting tidbits of life during this pre-war era. Thank you NetGalley for the advanced reader copy for review.
Murder at Morrington Hall by Clara McKenna is the first in a new historical cozy mystery. I found the pace of the plot to be slow at first; but after the introductions of the characters and the detailed description of Morrington Hall and the surrounding English countryside, the pace picked up quickly. Stella is a lovely American heiress who has a strong and distinctive personality. Being raised by an abusive and arrogant father she finds she prefers horses over people for the most part. Once Stella and Lord Lyndhurst decide to work together to resolve the murder, the story flew as the red herrings, plot twists and viable suspects became more the center of attention. It was an enjoyable afternoon read and a good beginning for this new series. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book from Kensington via NetGalley. All of the above opinions are my own.
Murder At Morrington Hall is the first book in the A Stella And Lyndy Mystery series. The Earl of Atherly bank account is in a severe problem due to financing his birding expeditions and to help his finances, he has been in touch with Elijah Kendrick, a millionaire horse breeder from Kentucky. It’s 1905 and arranged marriages among the elite is still practiced and he has arranged a marriage between his son, Viscount Lyndhurst(Lyndy) and Kendrick’s daughter Stella. Kendrick has also agreed to give the Earl three valuable racehorses. One of the horses is the sire to the favored horse at the upcoming Epsom Downs race and if it should win, the Earl’s money problems will be solved. Lyndy is handsome enough, but Stella is upset that this arrangement has been made without her consent and is ready to back out. Later, the body of Reverend Bullmore, the vicar that is to perform the marriage is found dead in the library. It is soon learned that the victim had a large sum of money on his person, which is now gone. Even though neither is looking forward to marriage, they do agree to search out the killer of the Reverend Bullmore. This new series has the potential to become a very interesting series. This book is well-written and plotted. The characters are well developed and quite interesting. I found the two families and their interactions with each other particularly interesting. Lady Atherly is a bit of snob and tends to look down on the “hayseeds” from the states and Stella finds them standoffish and overbearing. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series to see if there is a chance that Stella and Lyndy will be able to set aside their difference and find romance. Also looking forward to what new adventures they will find.
This debut installment in a new mystery series by Clara McKenna will engage the reader right away and keep the reader guessing until the murder is solved. Author Clara McKenna uses her extensive historical research to excellent advantage in drawing the reader into the story, the characters, and the setting. The author describes the early twentieth century horse-racing culture in the United States and England, weaves in intriguing descriptions of the history and scenery of the New Forest region in southern England, and captures the societal stresses of an arranged marriage between the daughter of a wealthy Kentucky horse breeder and the son of an English aristocracy who is land rich but cash poor. You will find yourself liking the resourceful and independent-minded Stella Kendrick from the moment you meet her as she brashly drives her father’s hired car through the English countryside and peers ahead toward Morrington Hall. Soon after her arrival and her horrified realization that the wedding she is to attend is her own, a murder throws the host aristocrats, their guests, their servants, and members of the local constabulary into great distress and confusion. Stella and her fiancé, Viscount Lyndhurst, known as “Lyndy”, find themselves working together to puzzle through clues and enjoying each other’s company more and more. The action moves through the stately manor house and its stables, across its grounds, and into the mythical and mysterious New Forest. Detours to the neighboring village of Rosehurst and to Epsom Downs Racecourse for the running of the Derby provide more opportunities to learn about Stella and Lyndy and to encounter possible suspects and motives. The murder is solved at last, Stella agrees to a real engagement to Lyndy, and we readers are left to anticipate the next installment in this series. I found this to be a well-researched and well-written story and a satisfyingly complex mystery with interesting characters and an appealing setting. Readers who like historical mysteries will enjoy this debut volume, and indeed it should interest readers of all types of mysteries. Note that I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my opinion about the book and I did not read other reviews prior to writing my own.
A fun start to a new series! Set in 1905 England, it features two people- Stella and Viscount Lyndhurst (Lyndy) who find themselves investigating the murder of the vicar who was supposed to marry them. That marriage, btw, was a surprise to Stella. Her rotten father set up the marriage without her knowledge. There's a fair amount of cross cultural stuff (American country woman versus UK upper classes), some of which is chuckle worthy and other bits of which are cringe worthy. Once you get past the idea that women were married off in this fashion (they really were) and get into the mystery, this one takes off. It's well plotted and the characters are fun-good banter. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. For fans of light historical mysteries.
A good historical mystery that I truly enjoyed and found both engaging and entertaining. I liked the well researched historical background, the well written and likable characters, and the mystery that kept me guessing till the end. I look forward to reading other books in this series. Recommended! Many thanks to Kensington Books and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.