Cover Image: Murder at Keyhaven Castle

Murder at Keyhaven Castle

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Miss Stella Kendrick and Viscount “Lyndy” Lyndhurst are almost at the altar. From the get-go, their courtship has been beset with mayhem and murders. 

The couple met in Murder at Morrington Hall, Morrington Hall being Lyndy’s family estate. Stella is a motherless American from Kentucky. Elijah Kendrick, her bombastic, controlling father, is a very wealthy horse breeder. Unbeknownst to Stella, he negotiated an alliance for her in England. She’s an American Dollar Princess: Elijah’s dollars “bought” the title of an impoverished aristocratic family. Fortunately, Lyndy and Stella are horse mad. That served as a bridge as they gradually dismantled the stereotypes of their courtship.  

Lyndy’s grandfather was a renowned breeder in his day—it’s Lyndy’s father who has frittered away the family money on expensive archeological digs around the globe. Lyndy knows he must restore the family fortunes through marriage—he has as little choice in the matter as Stella—but he’s pleasantly surprised by the forthright and intelligent Miss Kendrick. Lyndy’s shock at Elijah Kendrick’s cruelty brings forth his innate protectiveness, and Stella is happy to be partnered with someone who touches her “without mal-intent.”

They become formally engaged in Murder at Blackwater Bend, while solving another murder. The local constabulary, led by Inspector Brown, respects their detective chops: “Besides, Brown had thrown away any semblance of standard protocol when these two aided him with his last murder case. They’d caught the killer, hadn’t they?” 

Stella’s wedding to Lyndy is just three days away. Attended by her seamstress, she can’t contain her excitement and her concerns.

The sweeping gown of white silk muslin overlaid with cascades of silky, delicate Chantilly lace caressed her figure like a glove. It was the most beautiful dress Stella had ever seen.

 

What a stark contrast to the man who spared no expense in acquiring it for her.

 

It wasn’t that Stella wasn’t grateful. She was, despite his lack of affection, his finding fault with all she did, his occasional burst of temper. Truly. He’d given her everything: this dress, a lovely home, a beloved horse, a vast fortune, and a secure future. He was her father, after all. She owed him her very existence. Yet as her wedding day approached, and with it a promise of a new start, Stella was counting the days her father went back to Kentucky.

 

Was it possible to love someone and still wish they would go away?

Elijah Kendrick is obsessed with Stella’s wedding presents, judging the worthiness of the giver by the cost of the gift. He carelessly opens a late-arriving present. There’s no card inside and he tosses it aside, saying, “If you ever think to give such a good-for-nothing wedding gift,” he advised the wide-eyed seamstress, “you should have the decency to own up to it.” After he leaves, Stella falls in love with the exquisite souvenir spoon: “its handle, of two interwoven vines, was topped by a carving of two connected hearts framing the likenesses of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.” A personal note is enclosed: “May this complete your collection. May you find love that completes you.” But how did the anonymous giver know “of her fondness for souvenir spoons” or that she has a huge “collection gathering dust back home in Kentucky?” How very mysterious. Murder at Keyhaven Castle explores Stella’s childhood and family in surprising ways. 

Stella’s father insists that she accompany him to nearby Southampton wharf because he wants to show off the future viscountess to the Swenson family, newly embarked from America. Stella soon sorts out their ulterior motive. 

The Swenson family weren’t here to oblige Stella’s father or to help her celebrate the joyous occasion.  With Stella able to make the necessary introductions at the wedding, they were hoping to find an aristocrat to marry Penny.

 

Good luck!

 

Though Penny’s inheritance was almost as much as Stella’s, Penny’s disposition would be the stumbling block. Stella pitied the unsuspecting nobleman Penny set her sights on.

Stella’s gaze is captured by an escaped dog, a commotion at “a colorful fruit market,” and an escaped “team of horses.” Adding to the confusion, a hansom cab enters the fray and tries frantically to avoid a collision: “Then suddenly, a man stumbled into their path.” Nothing could save him.  Inspector Brown is asked to join the investigation into the trampled man’s death. The man must be identified immediately. 

“Why the rush?”

 

“Because before he died, multiple witnesses overheard our victim threatening to kill someone, and we have but one clue to this man’s identity. Here, Inspector, is where you come in.”

 

“How’s that?”

 

Clark held out a creased, soiled newspaper clipping that had been torn out by hand. Brown took the fragment and read it. He hesitated a moment before passing it to his constable to read. Constable Waterman whistled his surprise.

Don’t keep us in suspense. Inspector Brown interviews Lyndy and Stella—can they explain the tattered clipping?

It was the announcement of their wedding that had run in the Courier-Journal in Louisville. The same one Uncle Jed had mentioned. “We found it on the trampled man.” 

“So, the man has a copy of our wedding announcement,” Lyndy said, handing it back to the inspector.

A copy from a Kentucky newspaper? That and a “packet of matches” were the only items found on the dead man’s body. There are too many occurrences, like the arrival of the anonymous souvenir spoon, and strange coincidences—a dead man with knowledge of their pending wedding—to be ignored.  There is another murder, this time someone close to the couple. Stella and Lyndy race to discover who is trying to prevent their wedding. Nothing is going to stand in the way of their long-anticipated union, combining the best of the old and new worlds.
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Murder at Keyhaven Castle, the third book in the Stella and Lyndy Mystery series, is another winning novel by Clara McKenna.  The anticipation of a wedding coupled with the suspense of a murder make this a cozy mystery that will keep you reading all night long.

The day is fast approaching for the wedding of American heiress Stella Kendrick and Viscount “Lyndy” Lyndhurst, and Stella’s friends and family from America are arriving in England for the festivities.  In the course of collecting a group of these friends, Stella and her father witness an “accident” which results in the death of a jockey under what turn out to be suspicious circumstances.  Because of her father’s connections with the horseracing community, and because the jockey is carrying her wedding announcement, Stella is immediately interested in the case.  When murder strikes closer to home, Stella finds herself immersed in a situation that is as horrifying as it is dangerous.

Clara McKenna is masterful at world building.  From the docks of Southampton to the splendor of Morrington Hall, the attention to detail, the rich description, the sights and the sounds, all propel you into the story.  The characters, too, are vivid and distinct.  Stella is a force to be reckoned with – intelligent, headstrong, and clearly in love.  Lyndy is often the voice of reason, the calm to her storm.  As couples go, they are a nearly perfect match.  Stella’s father borders on the obnoxious, while Lady Atherly is decidedly pretentious.   The mystery itself is intriguing, filled with several plot twists and red herrings and a large cast of suspects.  And the second murder is, in my opinion, is wholly unexpected, ratcheting up the suspense until the perpetrator is finally revealed. 

Murder at Keyhaven Castle is one of those cozy British historical mysteries that makes you want to curl up with a cup of tea.   I am looking forward to settling in with the next book in this charming series.

Note: I received an ARC of Murder at Keyhaven Castle from NetGalley and Kensington Books. The above is my honest review.
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Murder at Keyhaven Castle by Clara McKenna, is the third novel in the Stella and Lyndy Mystery Series. It’s the early 1900s, and the beginning of Edwardian England, where the elite are the very wealthy. Stella has sailed to England and has agreed (or is being forced by her father) to marry Viscount “Lyndy” Lyndhurst due to an agreement with his parents in which his money will bail them out of financial trouble and he will purchase a title. The upside is that Stella and Lyndy are truly in love, and the wedding is just days away; guests are arriving from America. Stella’s father is here from his home in Kentucky, and since he is rude, overbearing, controlling, and difficult, he makes lots of enemies, even in the short time he is to be in England. While in Southampton, Elijah Kendrick, Stella’s father, meets his friends who have come for the wedding, and while picking them up, a jockey is pushed and trampled to death by a horse. Horseracing is what Stella’s father is most interested in, and he is surprised that the murdered jockey is found with a copy of Stella’s wedding announcement in his pocket. There is another murder, and Stella investigates with the help of Lyndy as well as the police. Unfortunately, Stella puts herself in danger, and the suspense builds throughout the novel.

McKenna has obviously done her research, and created a setting for the novel that rings true as to historical facts. Even though the characters are fictional, they are well-developed and their actions seem to fit the times. The story flows and will keep the interest of the readers. Although readers may guess who the murderer is – there are several good suspects - it is not actually revealed until the dénouement at the end of the novel. 

Anyone who enjoys a British setting and a good mystery will want to read this novel; although it can be read as a standalone, readers who haven’t read the previous novels in the series will want to pick them up. This excellent mystery is clean, has no violence, sex, or language and is suitable for all ages. 

Special thanks to NetGalley for supplying a review copy of this book.
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Murder at Keyhaven Castle continues the Stella and Lyndy mysteries by Clara McKenna.  Stella in engaged to marry Lord Lyndhurst and the wedding party has gathered at his home.  A disreputable jockey is murdered in town and links to those present at the wedding pop up.  Then Stella's father is murdered at Keyhaven Castle. Whodunit?  Some of Stella's relatives are linked to racing scandals.  Atmospheric mystery in Edwardian England.
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I enjoyed reading this historical cozy mystery.  Lyndy and Stella are getting ready to get married and everyone is gathering for the wedding.  On a picnic outing one of the guests killed. Stella and Lyndy set out to find the killer so the wedding can take place.  The author does a wonderful job with the historical setting and details.  I really enjoyed the country estate setting and the characters.  The mystery was good with lots of suspects and twists and turns and the solution made sense.  I look for word to reading the next book in this series esp since they are now married.  Enjoy
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Murder at Keyhaven Castle was another pleasant stroll through the English countryside marred by an unfortunate murder.  Stella Kendrick is all set to marry Viscount Lyndhurst and start a new chapter of her life when misfortune rears its ugly head and two murders interrupt the course of events.  Clara McKenna creates her scenes so well one can imagine sitting in the room with Stella as a storm rages or the smells and sounds and the surge of the crowd on the docks at Southampton.  Ms. McKenna’s adds just enough of the romance between Stella and Lyndy to keep the reader drawn into this story line while not taking away from the mystery.  Added to the normal cast of characters are Stella’s friends and family from Kentucky, including her zany uncle and a mystery guest.   All this wraps up into a very enjoyable, fast and fun mystery filled with great scenery and witty dialogue.
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I'm really enjoying this series. English aristocracy, American heiress, horses and a mystery (usually more than one). Once again the mystery kept me guessing (although I did figure out 1 thing).. Already looking forward to the next in the series.

Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for my eARC in exchange for on honest review.
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It's 1905 and finally the wedding bells are ringing for Stella and Lyndy. Her wedding dress is getting the last fitting, the wedding gifts are piled up on groaning tables and soon she will be married to the Viscount Lyndhurst. When we first met Stella she was being used by her very overbearing and obnoxious father to make a marriage of convenience to Viscount Lyndhurst - title rich but cash poor. Stella's father wants to buy his daughter that coveted title. Now, after having gotten to know Lyndy and solving a couple of murders, they are a happy couple. Well, as they say, the best laid plans, etc. and all does not go as planned. From uninvited wedding guests to unexpected murder, Stella and Lyndy add catching a killer to their to do list.
i enjoy historical mysteries and this series is on my favorites list, one not to be missed. Stella is a woman who knows what she wants and is able to speak her mind. She and her betrothed, Lyndy, make a great sleuthing pair. The regular cast of characters, both good and not so good, are well developed and ring true to the period. The setting is lovely and the mystery is sure to keep the reader guessing to the final reveal. I have enjoyed all three books in the series and I'm looking forward to finding out what the future has in store for Stella and Lyndy. It certainly won't be boring.
My thanks to the publisher Kensington and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
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It's nearly wedding time for Stella and Lyndy, but many obstacles suddenly appear in their way. First some of Stella's long-lost relatives turn up for the wedding, then several unexpected guests from the United States appear and more dramatically someone is murdered at Keyhaven Castle. Stella is determined to discover the murderer before going through with the wedding. But when she almost loses her life, she calls on all her reserves to find the killer. Another fascinating look at the British aristocracy and their prejudices against everyone and an excellent mystery as well..
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Another fun and light cozy mystery in the Stella and Lyndy mystery series. I cannot decide if my favorite aspect of this book and series is the historical setting of 1905 England, or Stella and Lyndy themselves. Stella is a strong, independent character who has great people reading skills and does not let many red-herrings get in her way of finding answers. Lyndy is a great partner for her in life and in sleuthing because he trusts her and treats her as an equal, which is saying a lot for 1905. This story was so easy to read and light even for a cozy, which makes it such a good series to come back to. Even with devastating murder, nothing can keep these two down or stop their love from truly growing and thier characters from continuously developing. I found the mystery easy to follow and though it seemed straight forward to me, I had the best time following the sleuthing of both Stella and Lyndy and the police officer (who is one of the few cozy police that is not written to be a buffon or overly aggressive). This series is a delight and I cannot wait to continue.
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This is the third book in the Stella and Lyndy mystery series, although it was way to read as a standalone novel.

Stella Kendrick is a modern (for 1905) American young woman, only child of ambitious billionaire Elijah Kendrick who has arranged for Stella to marry the impoverished Lord Lyndhurst. After the events of the two previous books I understand that Stella has actually fallen in love with Lyndy, although she still resents her father for forcing her to marry a complete stranger.

As the wedding day approaches family and friends descend upon Morrington Hall in the New Forest, including Stella's aunts, her father's business rival/friend Theo Swanson, his wife and their daughter Penny. Unexpectedly, Elijah's ne'er do well brother Jed and his two children have also arrived, uninvited, to join the party.

As the Hendricks go to the Southampton docks to collect the Swensons they witness a terrible accident, a runaway cart and horses run over and kill a young man. However, it appears that the young man has a connection to Morrington Hall. Then a murder far closer to home throws everything into turmoil, but with everyone a suspect can Stella and Lyndy uncover the murderer and finally get married?

I have to admit I struggled with the start of this book. The appearance of an American cowboy in Southampton docks and the rather offensive way Lyndy's friends spoke were a little off putting. However, I wasn't going to throw in the towel at only 7% so, after a bit of a delay, I started again.

This was a cracking romp, lots of suspects in a fairly isolated country house. Scandals, cheats, blackmail, secret correspondents, and horse race fixing all swirled into a fun mix. I guessed the murderer's identity quite early on, I specifically noted it at 55% through the book although I had thought so for some time, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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Thank you to NetGalley for sending me this in return for my honest feedback. 
I did not realize that this was a third in a series, and because of this, I felt a bit lost at first. From what I have read, I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style and story. A murder mystery set in the early 19oo's is right up my alley. I will have to read the other ones first to better give my feedback for this book.
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1905 British WhoDunit
This book is the third in a series, but it can be read alone. The story involves old castles, racehorses, and American heiresses being married by aristocrats for their money. The background story of the murder has many twists that complicate the mystery. Plenty of witnesses are lying to protect themselves and their secrets. While are truly enjoyed the horses, it was more fun watching the Americans shock the stuffy Brits by being open and honest. I received this ARC book for free from Net Galley and this is my honest review.
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Something about this book didn’t sit quite right with me. The characters felt off, possibly because I read it so quickly after the first one (which I adored). Will stick with it!
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Murder at Keyhaven Castle
By Clara McKenna
Kensington Books, 29 June 2021

From the publisher:

With her wedding to Viscount Lyndy Lyndhurst just days away, strong-willed American ex-pat Stella Kendrick is the talk of Edwardian society--and the focus of a deadly mystery--in Clara McKenna's third historical mystery set in England's New Forest region at the turn of the 20th century.

Between ornate bridal gown fittings and meetings with Lyndy's distant relatives, Stella finally feels less like an out-of-place American and more like a respected aristocrat. Everything changes as the arrival of an anonymous gift and return of her overbearing father cast a dark shadow over the festivities, conjuring difficult memories and new fears...

Tensions intensify when a daytrip to Southampton ends with a suspicious stranger getting trampled by a horse-drawn cab. Before anyone can explain why the victim possessed a newspaper clipping about the upcoming ceremony at Morrington Hall, tragedy strikes again, this time resulting in a murder that turns Stella's world completely upside down while implicating one of Lyndy's well-regarded family members...

Facing loss, postponed nuptials, and uncertain threats, Stella and Lyndy rush to connect two very different crimes and identify the guilty culprit hiding among elite wedding guests. But as the couple blows the lid off of scandalous secrets, they realize that catching this killer--and living to tell the tale--may prove as impossible as closing the class divide.

My thoughts:

This book has a lovely cover that reflects what is inside - a pleasant, romantic, and cozy murder mystery. When I started reading this book, I didn’t realize it was one in a series of three. Fortunatley, there was just enough back story included that I could enjoy the book without reading the previous two.

Lyndy and Stella were about to get married when along comes the black sheep uncle who picks a fight with Stella’s father. And what about that mysterious, yet hauntingly familiar woman that Stella notices? Meanwhile, an outing at a derelict castle ends in murder. The murder threatens to postpone the wedding and now Stella’s life is in danger. Can her and Lyndy solve the crime before someone else gets hurt? 

I’ll admit, there were no surprises in this book. It was quite predictable, but I don’t hold that against it. Stella and Lyndy are entertaining characters and their romance is adorable. Of course, anytime a castle or even castle ruins are part of the story, I’m all in. This is a well-written story that does exactly what it sets out to do – it entertains. If you’re in the mood for a cozy mystery with a little romance, I definitely recommend this series by author Clara McKenna.

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for the free ARC.
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This was a really interesting and entertaining series. I was so involved in the story and could not put it down for very long. I love all the different characters and the way they interacted with each other. I hope there is going to be more to this series!! Will definitely love to read more by this new to me author!
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Excitement is brewing as the eagerly anticipated wedding between American born heiress Stella Kendrick and Viscount Lyndy Lyndhurst is to take place in a matter of days.  The couple, while originally a match of convenience, have since fallen deeply in love however not everyone shares in their excitement.  Stella's father is just as odious and overbearing as usual and demands Stella's assistance as he travels to Southhampton to meet up with friends and family coming overseas for the wedding.  While awaiting the arrival of the guests however they witness a tragic and grisly accident that results in the death of a young man.  In an effort to lighten the mood, Stella plans an outing at Keyhaven Castle however another tragedy takes place, this one hitting a bit closer to home for Stella in particular.  Stella and Lyndy once again join forces in an effort to solve not one, but two murders that may or may not be linked.  Their wedding and future hangs in the balance and hinges greatly on the success and outcome of their investigation.  The stakes become even greater when an attempt is made on Stella's life as well.  
Murder at Keyhaven Castle is the third in the masterful historical mystery series that takes place at the turn on the century in the New Forest region of Hampshire England.  The series follows the romance of American heiress Stella Kendrick and Viscount Lyndhurst.  While the pair have been engaged since the first novel, it is not until the third installment that their marriage is set to take place.  However before they can get to the alter to exchange vows, they must first solve not one, but two murders.  With family and friends arriving from the states for the upcoming nuptials, there are plenty of new characters woven into the plot.  Some we are meant to love and some to hate, but each with has their own unique personality and part to play in the overall narrative.   The story takes us back to the Edwardian Era where horses were still the prominent mode of transportation and telegraphs were the primary method of communicating news quickly.  The mystery takes center stage and is full of surprising secrets, scandals, and murder right up until the end.  I highly recommend Murder at Keyhaven Castle as well as the first two books in the series for readers looking for a new historical mystery to add to their summer reading list.
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Murder At Keyhaven Castle is the third book in the Stella and Lyndy series by Clara McKenna.

It’s September 1905, and Stella and Lyndy’s wedding is just days away.  Preparations are moving along nicely, and guests are starting to arrive in Hampshire.  Stella would rather stay home and take care of any last-minute wedding preparations. Still, her father orders her to accompany him to Southampton to welcome the Swenson’s, friends or the Kendrick family, and a fellow horse breeder.  As Miranda and her father are waiting for the Swenson’s to disembark, Stella watches as a young man is run over by what appears to be a runaway wagon and will die from the injuries caused by being run over.  Miranda will later learn that the young man had a newspaper article announcing the upcoming wedding.  When Miranda arrives home, she is surprised that her uncle and his two young children have come for the wedding.  It will soon become evident that there is a lot of hostility between her father and his father.  Stella will suggest an outing to the nearby Keyhaven Castle, thereby hoping to keep everyone at ease.  Everyone has gone off to explore different castle areas when a terrifying scream sets everyone on edge.  She finds a dead body that will affect her life.

Stella and Lyndy will determine if the two deaths are related and how they might be.  They soon find no shortage of suspects that will include a nearby racehorse owner, close friends of Lyndy, and even Stella’s uncle.
I really like this series. The author has done an excellent job of developing two characters from very different backgrounds into a couple on the verge of marrying.  The story is well-written and plotted, and there were enough red herrings that I was kept guessing until the end as to who the killer was.  The characters are all believable and well-developed.  

I am eagerly awaiting the next book in this exciting series.
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Another delightful installment in this series. Highly recommend.

Stella and Lyndy's wedding is imminent and guests and presents are beginning to arrive. While their engagement was an exchange of American money for an English title, the couple has fallen in love and are eager to begin their married life. Unfortunately events conspire to throw that into question.

Stella and her father go into town to retrieve guests-her father's friend and neighbor from Kentucky and his wife and daughter. While there, they witness a tragic accident where a man is trampled by a runaway wagon. There is no identification on the victim but it turns out he has a connection to Morrington Hall because of a ragged newspaper article that mentions their wedding and he was overheard threatening to kill someone.

Lyndy is able to recognize the victim as a disgraced American jockey but having never met him, he has no idea of why he was threatened.

Then another suspicious death occurs and this hits closer to home. Stella is determined to help the Inspector discover who the murderer is, even if it could be someone close to her.

There are plenty of potential suspects, another person involved in the same scandal as the jockey, a relative hoping to inherit, suspicious activity and conversations between the victim and others.

Good, well plotted mystery with some bittersweet moments for Stella.
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Murder at Keyhaven Castle is the third in the Stella and Lyndy mystery series.  I have thoroughly enjoyed each book and this installment definitely didn't disappoint.  One of the things I love about this series is that you never know what is going to happen and who the victim might be in the new book.  No one seems to be safe.  This time round, it's only a few days from Stella and Lyndy's wedding when friends and family start to arrive for the wedding.  Unfortunately, disaster arrives right on their heels.

I love how close Stella and Lyndy have become after being forced into an arranged marriage by their parents.  They suit each other so well and it's been fun getting to meet more of their family, too.  I highly recommend this series.  It's filled with a fun cast of characters, intriguing mysteries, and lots of red herrings.  You could read this as a standalone without any issues, but I do recommend reading the whole series.  It's fun to see the characters' relationships grow throughout the books.

Thanks so much to Kensington and Netgalley for the arc!
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