Downton Abbey Part Two

Can’t get enough of Downton Abbey fiction? Here’s a new lineup of contenders for your English upstairs-downstairs addiction.



Historical fiction fave Barbara Taylor Bradford enters the lists with CAVENDON HALL. An Edwardian epic set at the Yorkshire manor of the title, the novel follows the lives of the Inghams, the Earl of Mowbray and his family, and the Swanns, who have lived nearby and served the earls for centuries. The story begins just before World War I, as Charles Ingham, the sixth Earl, and his wife Felicity are about to present their daughter Lady Daphne at court. Their efforts are assisted by the earl’s valet, Walter Swann, and his wife Alice, dressmaker to the countess and her daughters. Devastating secrets, love, honor, loyalty and betrayal unleashed in this time of uncertainty will change the both families and their interactions forever.



Elizabeth Cooke offers a two-book tale, beginning with RUTHERFORD PARK.

In 1913, Lady Octavia Cavendish lives in the Yorkshire estate of the title’s name with her husband William and their children. Although all appears well on the surface, the attempted suicide of a housemaid will reveal secrets about her husband and her marriage that force Octavia to confront the truth of her life. The gathering storm of war brings hard choices to her son, who dreams of becoming a pilot, her daughter, who would like to escape family obligation and marry for love, and their servants, who now have alternatives to living their entire lives belowstairs at an aristocratic estate. In a world at change, nothing at Rutherford Park or the mills and villages that sustain it will remain the same.



Elizabeth Cooke returns to the world of Rutherford in THE WILD DARK FLOWERS: A NOVEL OF RUTHERFORD PARK. Picking up the story in May of 1915, we find William and Olivia still together in an alliance of duty, while their son shatters their expectations by joining the Royal Flying Corps. As war moves into their world, the relations between husbands, wives, lovers and children both upstairs and down are shaken and tested, forcing a way of life that changed little over the centuries to evolve in new directions.



Jennifer Robson’s SOMEWHERE IN FRANCE explores the Great War from a closer perspective.

Just before the outbreak of World War I, Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford meets her brother’s best friend, Scottish surgeon Robert Fraser. Different from the Society boys who pursue her, Robbie listens sympathetically to Lilly’s dream of becoming more than a debutante–of traveling, studying, and marrying for love. Determined to break up the budding affair, Lilly’s mother privately tells Robbie that Lilly is about to be engaged.

The war breaks out, sending Robbie, her brother Edward, and most of the young men Lilly knows abroad. Wanting to do something, she defies her parents, learns to drive, moves to London and eventually becomes an ambulance driver for the new Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. At a field hospital in France, Lilly meets Robbie again. With shells literally exploding all around them as Lilly drives her evacuees from the front to the hospital, Robbie tries to keep his distance and keep her safe. But in a war that changes everything, there is no safe haven; life–and love–will never be the same.



Jane Sanderson creates another novel of the clash–and cohesion–between upstairs and downstairs in NETHERWOOD.

It’s 1903 in Yorkshire. Lord Hoyland, Earl of Netherwood, channels the wealth earned from coal mines to maintain his splendid estate, his wife and daughters, and his irresponsible heir, Tobias. Eve Williams, wife of one of his miners, cleverly manages their small income and cares for the family. When striking miners are evicted, the local reverent asks Eve to take in the widowed Anna and her children.

Then tragedy strikes, making Eve a widow as well, and the two women band together to safeguard their children and their community. The gap between upstairs and downstairs begins to close in a clash of forbidden love as events both tragic and romantic bring the two worlds together in ways that will change them both forever.



Jane Sanderson’s story continues in RAVENSCLIFFE.

It’s 1904, and Russian émigré Anna Rabinovich wants to convince her good friend Eve Williams to move into a Victorian villa—Ravenscliffe—across the square from Netherfield Hall, the grand manor of the earl who owns the mines that employ most of the countryside. While the earl and his wife prepare for the visit of King Edward, Anna strikes up a friendship with Amos Sykes, who proposed to her friend Eve the year previous.

The arrival of Eve’s brother Silas further breaks down class boundaries in a world where a rising mercantile middle class and the emerging independence of women are eroding the ancient power and privilege of the aristocracy. With Lady Henrietta, daughter of the noble house, chafing at the conventions of expected behavior, Amos pursuing his union activities, and the earl’s heir Tobias creating problems, Sanderson vividly paints a picture of a world where the roles of noble and commoner continue to change in radical new directions.

To finish off our look at Downtonesque fiction, how about a title that bridges the old world and the new?



THE ASHFORD AFFAIR by Lauren Willig uses the favorite literary fiction trope of the member of the current generation uncovering a dark family secret that links her to a heroine of the past.

In this case, it’s hotshot New York lawyer Clementine Evans who, after a suddenly broken engagement, learns a secret at the ninety-ninth birthday of her grandmother Addie that leads her on a journey into the past.

The orphaned Addie was taken in by her aristocratic aunt and uncle, to be raised at Ashford Park with her cousin Bea. Becoming as close as sisters, the friendship between two endures through relationships, crises, and the war that changes life in Europe irrevocably, until their bond is tested by a love stronger than sisterhood. The clash of present and past plays out upon a vivid canvass that takes the reader from the concrete canyons of Manhattan to the hills of Kenya and back.

Sharon’s Cozy Corner | Roses and Cozies are Blooming in May

DEATH THREADSSharon’s Cozy Corner
All about the cozy mysteries: interviews, reviews, books

I guess it’s true what they say about April Showers bringing May Flowers! The roses in my garden are blooming like crazy, with some as big as my hand. My pergola garden calls to me with its comfy swing and sweet smelling blooms – so I heed the call and traipse out there with a cold glass of tea and a cozy mystery tucked under my arm. Nothing finer than springtime! Hope your spring is going well too!

And to celebrate the ongoing beautiful weather, here are a few new mysteries to keep the cozy mystery fan occupied for those sweet rare days!

Author Elizabeth Lynn Casey continues her stories of the lives and activities of the good folks of Sweet Briar, South Carolina in her second Southern Sewing Circle Mystery, DEATH THREADS.

Casey deftly crafts a thrilling mystery along with a charming story of friendship and small town life to create a fun, fast-paced novel that will keep cozy mystery lovers thoroughly entertained. Casey’s characters are unique and endearing – the shy but handsome schoolteacher Milo who is sweet on Tori, the feisty Leona Elkin, Tori’s self appointed Southern manners and charm teacher, Leona’s loveable sister Margaret Louise, and the sassy, bright Tori Sinclair herself – all folks you would want to meet and become close friends with.

Casey also includes helpful sewing tips and a pattern for a cute fabric gift bag project that is mentioned throughout the story.

I kinda jumped the gun mentioning MOON SPINNERS: A Seaside Knitting Mystery by Sally Goldenbaum last month, so I thought it deserved a second mention –

Lobsters, knitting and murder can be found among the pages of this delightful novel. The gals of the Seaside Knitters are taking a break from their stitching to help their friend Gracie open her new restaurant, The Lazy Lobster and Soup Café. But when Gracie’s rich aunt Sophie is killed in a freak car accident, and Gracie’s mother Julianne is arrested for her sister’s death, well you know the knitters are going to get involved in solving the mystery of who killed Sophie.

The third book in the Seaside Knitting Mystery series, MOON SPINNERS is as quirky and delightful as its characters. Goldenbaum includes a cute pattern for a knitted Fish Hat with her story.

Earlene Fowler brings back her popular character Benni Harper for a fourteenth appearance in her latest book, STATE FAIR: A Benni Harper Mystery.

Benni and her husband, Police Chief Gabe Ortiz, are attending the annual San Celina County Mid-State Fair when a valuable African-American quilt is stolen from an exhibit Benni’s folk art museum is sponsoring. At first the theft seems a part of the protest against the fair’s first black manager, Levi Clark. But when a body is discovered at another exhibit, Benni puts her skills as a pretty good sleuth to good use as she tries to figure out who was causing all the chaos at the fair.

Along with a great mystery, Fowler includes a bit of history of quilting and folklore, and a healthy dash of humor between Benni’s grandmother and grant-aunt, to make STATE FAIR another blue ribbon winner!

In FRENCH POLISHED MURDER: A Daring Finds Mystery by Elise Hyatt, furniture refinisher Candyce “Dyce” Dane is really excited about her latest project, restoring a beautiful antique piano. But when she finds an old letter inside from a woman who’s been missing for decades, Dyce knows that she won’t stop until she has figured out where the woman has disappeared to, much to the chagrin of her boyfriend, policeman Cas Wolfe. But when she stirs up a hornets nest of secrets, Dyce soon finds that she may be the one being worked over instead of the piano.

FRENCH POLISHED MURDER is Elise Hyatt’s second book in this series, and it is a smartly clever mystery that will keep readers guessing until the very last page. Hyatt also includes several tips for Do-It-Yourself French-polishing project.

Popular husband and wife mystery writing team Jim and Joyce Lavene, authors of the “Peggy Lee Garden Mysteries,” the “Renaissance Faire Mysteries,” and the “Sharyn Howard Mysteries,” have a new mystery series that features Dae O’Donnell, a woman with a gift for locating lost things and attracting murder.

The debut book, A TIMELY VISION: A Missing Pieces Mystery,” finds Dae, the Mayor of Duck, North Carolina and owner of the thrift store, Missing Pieces, searching for a missing watch belonging to Miss Mildred, the town matriarch. But when their search leads to a murder, Dae must find the real killer before Miss Mildred is hauled off to jail! Maybe with the help of newcomer and retired FBI agent Kevin Brickman, Dae can piece the puzzle together in time.

Once again the Lavenes have crafted a well-written, lively mystery that is sure to join their other popular series as a sought-after title.

When cats, cats and more cats begin showing up on Jillian Hart’s farm, she becomes curious. When a milk cow is stolen from another farm, she begins to wonder if the two events are releated. And when she discovers a giant illegally run cat farm, as well as the body of Hubert Van Cleet, a local college professor, Jillian finds herself hip-deep into another murder investigation.

In Leann Sweeney’s second book of her “A Cat’s In Trouble Mysteries,” THE CAT, THE PROFESSOR AND THE POISON, she continues the story of Jillian Hart and her best friend Deputy Candace Carson as they work together to solve yet another murder in their sleepy little South Carolina town. Combining a love for quilting and a love for cats, Sweeney’s character of Jillian is feisty and full of down-to-earth sassiness. This is a cute story, and I look for this series to gain in popularity as the volumes keep coming!

You’ve heard of television spin-offs, well now there is a cozy mystery spin-off. Ann Purser, who is the author of the popular English-based “Lois Meade Mysteries” series, has created a new series featuring the beloved cantankerous character of Ivy Beasley.


THE HANGMAN’S ROW ENQUIRY: An Ivy Beasley Mystery, Ivy has moved into an assisted living facility and livens the joint up with her amateur sleuthing projects. She recruits her cousin Dierdre and fellow resident Gus to open an investigative agency, and their first case involves an elderly neighbor of Gus’ who had been stabbed with a bread knife. With Ivy and her team on the job, well, let’s just say, there is bound to be a few arguments and a lot of fun along the way.


In TRESSED TO KILL: A Southern Beauty Shop Mystery, debut author Lila Dare taps into the sassy and brassy attributes of the Southern belles of St. Elizabeth, and these gals don’t let a little thing like murder stop them from looking good.

Life in a small Southern town like St. Elizabeth, Georgia can be slow and lazy as a summer breeze, but it can also be as hot and exciting as a summer storm when a murderer is on the loose!

Grace Tenhune has returned home to work in her mother’s beauty shop, just when the town diva Constance Dubois is threatening to close Violetta’s down. All over a tiny little thing like bright orange highlights. But when Constance is found stabbed to death, the police seem to think Grace’s momma is the culprit.

Well, Grace ain’t having none of that, and with the help of her co-workers at the salon, and handsome Georgia Bureau of Investigation detective John Dillon, she soon begins to trim the list of suspects like a good shag haircut.

Lila Dare’s TRESSED TO KILL is a full of Southern charm and spunk, and will be a delight for cozy mystery fans to enjoy. I’ll be interviewing Lila on the 15th of this month, so be sure to stop back by to learn more about this fabulous new author!

Well, there you have it – my recommendations for the month of May. Have a grand time reading, and remember to stop and smell the roses along the way.

Until next month, cozy reading, ya’ll!

Sharon Chance has been a freelance entertainment journalist for the past fourteen years. As a regular contributor to the Wichita Falls Times Record News, she has written well over 1,600 articles covering everything from concert and movie reviews to museum openings to interviewing some of the top musicians performing today, including members of Bon Jovi and Guns and Roses.

But her true love lies in the world of books. A voracious reader from a young age, Sharon began reviewing books at the urging of her sister-in-law, who was a big fan of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club. What began as a simple fun attempt at sharing her views of books she enjoyed has developed into a work of passion for Sharon. In addition to being a senior book reviewer for the Times Record News, Sharon is also a regular guest contributor for the Las Vegas Review Journal’s Book Nook, as well as having written for several other publications.

A distant relative of the great Edgar Allan Poe, Sharon has a fondness for mysteries, especially those of the cozy kind. In her new column, Sharon’s Cozy Corner, Sharon hopes to bring news of the latest in the cozy mystery genre, as well as insightful interviews with the authors who write them.