Friday, 12 October 2018

The Secrets Of Chateau Swansea by R.C. Matthews

Title: The Secrets Of Chateau Swansea
Author: R.C. Matthews
Genre: Gothic Romance
Publication Date: October 1, 2018

A grisly murder leaves a haunted estate without an heir, and a powerful medium scrambles to find answers from beyond the grave.

Determined to escape the nightmarish memories of her childhood, heiress and psychic Maribeth Sommerset pursues the adventurous life of a psychic investigator, beginning with a murder and the spirits who hover behind at the haunted Chateau Swansea

Meanwhile, devoted steward of the chateau Arthur Dunn plays a dangerous game of deception to shield his employer's good name, landing himself at the top of Maribeth's suspect list.

Amid scandalous secrets and destructive lies, will Maribeth uncover the secrets of Chateau Swansea before the killer strikes again?

Don't miss out on this thrilling Victorian gothic romance!

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The Orange Blossom Room

         Arthur had assigned her to a child’s bedroom? Strolling farther inside, she picked up a book from the bedside table. Flipping to the first page, she read a few lines aloud. “The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat. They took some honey, and plenty of money, wrapped up in a five-pound note.”
         Peals of laughter rang in her ears and warmth spread throughout her body. She closed her eyes, savoring the sense of happiness reverberating through her. The young girl who owned this book had cherished every word.
         Hello, little girl, are you here? Come speak with me. We can be friends, if you like.
         “A silly story, if ever there was one,” Arthur said, disturbing the quiet moment.
         Maribeth grinned as she stroked her hand over the colorful illustration. “This was one of my favorites as a child, especially when a brooding pirate read it to me. Before meeting Eveline, my guardian—”
         The steward’s brow shot up and she snapped her mouth shut, tossing the book onto the bed. She shouldn’t share such stories with a stranger. Better she get on with her purpose for being here. She turned her attention to unbuttoning her coat.
         “Go on,” he said. “You had a fascinating childhood. I would love to hear more.”
         Arthur leaned his shoulder against the wall, folding his arms over his chest while scrutinizing her. Why did he study her so intently with that enigmatic turn of his lips? Men never watched her every move with interest or engaged her in more than small talk. Her fingers trembled, and she looked away. Speaking about her childhood was out of the question.
         “I’m told the daughter of Madame Brown favored that book as well,” he finally said.
         “The child who slept here?” she asked.
         The gleam in his eyes was inscrutable. “No one else has stayed overnight in this room since the child disappeared many years ago.”
         Her chest tightened, and she swallowed past the bile rising in her throat. Something terrible had happened to the girl, every fiber of Maribeth’s being confirmed the truth of the matter.
         “I thought perhaps…” The steward pressed his lips together as if thinking better of voicing his thoughts aloud, but the cat was out of the bag.
         “You thought my sleeping in this room might nettle the ghost of her mother into seeking me out?”
         He rubbed his jaw with a small measure of contrition reflected in his eyes. “Rather coldhearted of me, I suppose. Would you prefer accommodations in the servants’ quarters?”
         “Certainly not.” As her gaze swept through the bedroom, a tingling foreboding grew in her belly. “Your intuition was spot on.”
         “Does anything scare you, Maribeth?”
         He sauntered behind her and peeled the coat off her shoulders. His left hand brushed hers as he tugged on one of the fitted sleeves. She held her breath, attuned in every way to his presence; his heady scent, the sound of his soft breathing, his body heat radiating on her back. She wanted…
         She truly could not say. Her experiences with men outside her family circle were limited. But she had witnessed Edith with her husband in unguarded moments when they thought no one was looking. Did she wish Arthur would press his lips on her nape or steal a kiss?
         “I have nothing to fear from the ghost of Madame Brown,” she said, turning to gaze up at him. But his nearness and the way he purred her name in that seductive baritone was more than a little unsettling. Ghosts rarely gave cause to be feared. But a handsome man who consumed her with every look…
         He folded her coat and placed it on the end of the bed.
         “I’ll settle in here later,” she said, clearing her throat. “What was the little girl’s name?”
         “Ah, ah, ah.” He shook his head. “I’m afraid you must discover that on your own.”
         Her eyes narrowed. “A test of my skills? I could simply inquire with Mrs. Hawkins.”
         “But you won’t. I sense your pride doesn’t permit you to travel the easy route.” He smirked.
         Bastard. Of course his observation was dead on. She dearly loved a challenge.

About R.C. Matthews:

R.C. Matthews is the author of contemporary and historical romances featuring bold, sassy heroines and magnetic alpha heroes. Warning! The chemistry between her characters is off the charts hot, so read at your own risk. She resides in the Midwest and is surrounded by men: her husband and three sons. During her free time you'll find her watching The Walking Dead, reading a fabulous book or hanging out with her family.

Guest Post by R.C. Matthews:

The Secrets of Chateau Swansea combines my love of gothic romance with a cozy mystery. My research of the Victorian era was so much fun. After I learned so much about how spiritualism reigned during that period from the 1840’s to the early 1900’s, I absolutely had to write books that involved mediums. Mediums, clairvoyants, séances, psychics, talking boards, ghost hunting, and more were explored to the fullest. So much so that in 1882, the Society for Psychical Research was founded and their website states they are “the first organization established to examine allegedly paranormal phenomena using scientific principles.”

So the question remains: Is anyone truly capable of communicating with ghosts?

I don’t know, but it sure is fun to write about. If you love stories with mediums and the supernatural, check out The Secrets of Chateau Swansea as well as my Tortured Souls series.

Here are some fun facts I learned while researching for this book.

Fun Fact #1 – Ouija board was originally known as ‘talking’ or ‘spirit’ board.

The Ouija board was patented on July 1, 1890 by Elijah Bond, however, psychics had been using ‘talking boards’ or ‘spirit boards’ for a long time before the Ouija board became a household board game.

As part of the spiritualist movement that began in the 1840’s, mediums started wide-spread use of talking boards as a means of communicating with the dead. Some Christian denominations warned that using talking boards could result in demonic possession. But that did not keep the general public from falling in love with the idea of communicating with the dead through use of the Ouija board, which became a household brand. Ouija is to talking boards as Kleenex is to facial tissue.

Fun Fact #2 – Séances were held at the White House

The Victorian era was the height of spiritualism and séances in both the United Kingdom and the United States. There were many famous mediums from the Victorian era.

According to the article “Odd Details About Victorian Era Spiritualism” written by Amanda Sedlak-Hevener, two séances were held at the White House in order to contact the dead.

One was arranged by Abraham Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, after the death of her son Willie. Mary was well-known for her spiritualist beliefs. The President himself was reputedly present during at least one of the many séances that Mary arranged for, which were conducted by famous mediums like Cranston Laurie.

The second was arranged by Jane Pierce, wife of President Franklin Pierce. She invited the Fox sisters, Margaret and Kate, to come to the White House to hold a séance to communicate with their son died who in train accident shortly before President Pierce took office in 1853.

Fun Fact #3 – Death Photography was a ‘thing’

Morbid, but true. Taking pictures of the dead was quite common in the 19th and early 20th century when people died at home so death was a normal part of everyday life. People wanted to preserve their loved ones through a picture which would be taken shortly after death. With this such a common practice, it lead the way to ‘spirit photography’. William H. Mumler is one of the 19th century photographers credited with starting the trend of spirit photography. His double exposure of a photo looked like a ghost lurking behind his subjects. He started doctoring his photos for grief-stricken families during the U.S. Civil War.

Fun Fact #4 – Ghost hunting became highly popular in the Victorian era

Ghost hunting was huge in the Victorian era and one could regularly find reports of ghost sightings in newspapers across the country. This is no wonder considering this was also the time that spiritualism exploded.

The term ‘ghost-hunter’ can be traced back to at least 1833 when Michael Banim published his fictional novel titled, The Ghost-Hunter and His Family. But they didn’t have all the fancy tools back then that we do today. They relied on mediums, cold spots, eerie sounds and strange movements.

These days you can buy a ghost hunting kit for upwards of $800!

Tour Schedule: 

Follow the book tour from October 1 - 14, 2018.

Visit each tour stop daily and discover more features, excerpts, reviews, interviews, fun facts and more!

To check the latest tour schedule, visit The Secrets of Chateau Swansea Book Page at Book Unleashed.

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