Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Aloha to Alyssa Maxwell and MURDER AT THE BREAKERS


MURDER AT THE BREAKERS is a step back in time to the Gilded Age:

Newport, Rhode Island, August 1895: She may be a less well-heeled relation, but as second cousin to millionaire patriarch Cornelius Vanderbilt, twenty-one-year-old Emma Cross is on the guest list for a grand ball at the Breakers, the Vanderbilts’ summer home. She also has a job to do—report on the event for the society page of the Newport Observer.

But Emma observes much more than glitz and gaiety when she witnesses a murder. The victim is Cornelius Vanderbilt’s financial secretary, who plunges off a balcony faster than falling stock prices. Emma’s black sheep brother Brady is found in Cornelius’s bedroom passed out next to a bottle of bourbon and stolen plans for a new railroad line. Brady has barely come to before the police have arrested him for the murder. But Emma is sure someone is trying to railroad her brother and resolves to find the real killer at any cost…

File:The Breakers Newport.jpg
The Breakers
Image by Matt Wade (link)
Creative Commons Share Attribution (link)

One hundred years after the declaration that all men are created equal, there began to gather in Newport a colony of the rich, determined to show that some Americans were conspicuously more equal than others. - Alistair Cooke

Maxwell brings Newport alive with historical figures mixed with fictional characters in this cozy mystery.   The story unfolds from the first person perspective of Emma Cross - a second cousin to the reigning Vanderbilt family.  Yet she lives on the edge of social acceptability with her independent spirit. Emma also lives on the edge of genteel poverty, buoying her finances as a reporter for the society pages.  She accepts with resignation that society (and her relations) expect her to write about garden parties, not criminal activity.

But a murder at the Breakers, the Vanderbilt's summer cottage, gives Emma the opportunity to use her investigative skills (and her family connections) to clear her brother's name. Maxwell drew me into the mystique of America's 400 - the number of people who can fit in Mrs. Astor's ballroom (reminding me of my favorite genre, the Regency romance, with glittering ballrooms).   At times, Maxwell overburdened the story with street descriptions; I would rather she further develop the characters on both sides of the tracks.  Still, this was an engaging who done it that kept my attention to the final reveal.   Once I finished MURDER AT THE BREAKERS, I spent an hour on Google, researching the Vanderbilt family.  I look forward to the next book, MURDER AT MARBLE HOUSE

Recommended read for fans of cozy mysteries and historical fiction.  I received an ARC from Kensington for an honest review.

I am giving away a special "society" prize to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Have you visited any historical house like the Breakers?

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, April 19, 10 pm in Baltimore. 

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, April 20.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City 

To learn more about Alyssa and her books, check out her website at



  1. No, I haven't, but there are a few in England I would like to visit like Spencer House.

  2. I have visited a few historical homes in my time, but nothing like this.

  3. I've never visited a historical house of any kind.

  4. I've visited the Frick House in Pittsburgh. It was very small compared to this one!

  5. I did visit the oldest plantation house in Florida a long time ago.

  6. I love historical homes. I've visited many, many plantation homes in the South. George Washington's home in Virginia, Mt. Vernon, is wonderful. I've also visited the White House; Beauvoir, home of Jefferson Davis; and Arlington Ho use, which was Robert E. Lee's family home before the homestead was turned into the National Cemetery. I hope to visit Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello, in the next few years.

  7. I visited the amazing Biltmore Estate in NC.

  8. I've visited Hearst Castle in CA a few different times. The tours are very interesting and the views are fantastic.

  9. Pittsburgh has some wonderful homes from the makers and breakers - Carnegie and Mellon to name just two.

  10. Thank you, Kim, for this post and that lovely review! And to everyone who has commented, I truly appreciate your interest! Good luck to all, and I'm very curious to find out what the "society" prize is! :-)

  11. I remember visiting a big house when I was a kid on a field trip, but I can't remember much about it! I think there was a big staircase. Other than that, the only one I can think of that I visited is the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg, Virginia.


  12. I've visited a couple of them. One of my favorites was Mount Vernon, the home of George and Martha Washington.

  13. The only place that comes to mind is The Paul Revere House in Boston and that was many, many years ago.

  14. We've visited the Biltmore in North Caroline. It was also built by the Vanderbilt's.
    alicia (at) earthlink (dot) net

  15. does Buckingham Palace count??? I toured it back in 2008...magnificent!!
    need to go back & see it again!!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com