Monday 15 February 2021

Death in Highbury by Riana Everly - Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Book cover: Death in Highbury by Riana Everly
I’m happy to be welcoming Riana Everly back to the blog with her latest Miss Mary Investigates book, Death in Highbury. As the name suggests, Mary Bennet goes to pay Emma Woodhouse a visit. We have a guest post from Riana, and an excerpt of Death in Highbury. There’s a giveaway too! Read on for details.

Book Description

When political chaos in London forces Mary Bennet to take refuge in the picturesque town of Highbury, Surrey, she quickly finds herself safe among friends. Emma Woodhouse welcomes her as a guest at Hartfield, Jane Fairfax is delighted by her love of music, and Frank Churchill can’t stop flirting with her. But it is not long before Mary starts to suspect that beneath the charming surface, Highbury hides some dark secrets.

Alexander Lyons is sent to Surrey on an investigation, and at his friend Darcy’s request, heads to Highbury to make certain Mary is comfortable and safe. But no sooner does he arrive than one local man dies, and then another!

Soon Alexander and Mary are thrust into the middle of a baffling series of deaths. Are they accidents? Or is there a very clever murderer hiding in their midst? And can they put their personal differences aside in time to prevent yet another death in Highbury?

Guest Post from Riana Everly - Bouts-Rimés

Over the last year, a lot of us have had a crash course in Regency life. Long days and evenings in limited company, keeping a respectable distance from people not immediately related to us, foregoing the joys of the Season due to unforeseen circumstances. Think Elinor and Marianne Dashwood at Barton cottage, or the Bennet sisters stuck at Longbourn during a succession of rain, or Catherine Moreland, alone with only Eleanor and Henry Tilney for weeks on end at Northanger Abbey.

Regency Novel or Pandemic Life

This last year of Pandemic and Lockdown life have seen a plethora of memes to this effect, and more than a few articles, such as this one from The Guardian 

Social Distancing

So, what did people do? Especially in a time before electricity, the Internet, and Netflix, how did people pass the time? They might read aloud from a novel or book of poetry. Somebody might play the piano or harp, and if enough people were about there might be dancing. We see this in
Pride and Prejudice, where Mr. Darcy asks Elizabeth, “Do you not feel a great inclination, Miss Bennet, to seize such on opportunity of dancing a reel?” and in Persuasion when, after a dinner at the Musgroves at Uppercross, “the evening ended with dancing. On its being proposed, Anne offered her services, as usual…”

Another way to pass a long rainy afternoon or an endless evening was with parlour games.

Most of us have heard about the various popular card games and charades. In Emma, Mr. Woodhouse often amuses himself at cards with his friends, and Emma and Harriet Smith undertake a project of collecting charades and riddles. It was through these that Mr. Elton first made his intentions known to Emma, for all that she purposefully misunderstood them.

But there was another game that isn’t as well known, although it sounds like a lot of fun for the literary-minded. This game is Bouts-Rimés. 

Bouts-Rimés means “rhymed ends,” and it is essentially a word game where the participants create poems based on a set of pre-selected final words. These are the rhymed ends. So, for example, if you are given the words cat, bat, tall, ball, and fat, you might come up with:

There once was a very large cat

Who tried once to play with a bat,

But the bat was too tall

And he missed at the ball,

For the cat with the bat was too fat.

Okay, I have no future as a poet, but you get the idea. 

There is a fun history behind Bouts-Rimés. Around the year 1648, so the story goes, a minor French poet named Dulot complained that he had been robbed, and that three hundred sonnets had been taken. When people expressed surprise at him having so many completed sonnets sitting around, Dulot confessed that he had only written the rhymes at the end of each line. This became the new ‘in’ thing, and people began doing for fun what Dulot had started in all seriousness.

Shall we try a few? Here are three sets of rhymed ends. What can you come up with? At the same time, why not give us some rhymed ends as well. We all need something to get us through this latest lockdown, at least until spring arrives.

Set One








Set Two







(It will be interesting to see how different accents interpret these words and how they are pronounced!)


Set Three









Excerpt from Death in Highbury by Riana Everly

Here is an excerpt from Death in Highbury, where Mary Bennet is sitting with Emma Woodhouse and Harriet Smith on a long afternoon.


Book Cover: Death in Highbury by Riana Everly
Having completed her assigned tasks, she looked around for something to occupy her day. The Bateses and Miss Fairfax were not at home, and Mary could not quite look upon a visit to Mrs. Elton with anything resembling pleasure. Taking tea alone at the tea room seemed quite melancholy, and she had no other acquaintances in town. She stopped in at Ford’s shop to look after some small gifts for Mama and Kitty, and then spent a rather longer time at the bookshop at the corner, where she spent a good amount of the remainder of Mr. Darcy’s money. She did feel, perhaps, a moment’s guilt over this, but soon smothered those thoughts when faced with a new imprint of a novel she had been longing to read.


When she returned to Hartfield, therefore, it was with a small parcel of three books in her hands, and upon greeting Emma and Mr. Woodhouse, she took herself to a sunny spot in the parlour, there to read. She took tea with her hosts at the appropriate time and then sat with Emma and Harriet Smith, who arrived later in the afternoon to help devise entertainments for a gathering the following week.

“Do you often read, Miss Bennet?” Harriet asked as Mary set aside her novel in favour of helping the others find ideas for Bouts-Rimés. It was an amusing diversion of poetry and rhyme, and Mary could not dislike it.

“I suppose I do, Miss Smith,” she replied. “I often find myself alone and without company, but I am never lonely if I have something diverting to read.”

“How sad that you want for companionship! At Mrs. Goddard’s, there are always younger girls needing my assistance or wishing for my attention, and I do declare that I should go quite mad if I had to spend all day with only myself for company! I quite crave being around people.”

“As do I!” Emma asserted. “Before Mrs. Weston married, she was my constant companion. How pleased I was to meet Harriet, for she has become quite indispensable to me!”

Harriet beamed with pride, and Emma cast upon her a look that was more suited for a proud owner looking upon a prized puppy.

“Do you read, Miss Woodhouse? Surely Miss Smith is often needed at Mrs. Goddard’s school, leaving you with little occupation.”

Emma gave a small pout. “I do read! That is, I try. I have been meaning to read more since I was twelve years old. I have set myself a list of books to read, and I do mean to read regularly, but there is always something more entertaining to do, for reading requires industry and patience, areas in which I must admit I am somewhat lacking.”

“But together, we may read,” Harriet volunteered. “Perhaps if we establish a routine, where we meet every week to read for an hour in silence, we may then reward ourselves with tea and cakes! Would that do at all, Miss Woodhouse?” Her eyes were eager and desperate for approval, much like the puppy Mary had envisioned, seeking a reward for sitting up or rolling over. Once more she was struck by how very young Harriet seemed, despite her years being so very nearly Mary’s own.

Mary suppressed a chortle. “That may be an excellent idea for you.” She hoped she sounded pleased and not as judgmental as she felt. “For me, reading is its own reward.”

* * *

Author Bio

Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!

Contact Links - Facebook / Website / Email: / Amazon 

Book Cover: Death in Highbury by Riana Everly
Buy Links

Death In Highbury is available to buy now in Kindle - Universal Link / Amazon Link / Add to Goodreads shelf.

The previous books in the Miss Mary Investigates Series are also available:

The Mystery of the Missing Heiress - Miss Mary Investigates Book 0 - prequel to Death of a Clergyman, available free on kindle - Amazon UK / Amazon US / Amazon CA

Death of a Clergyman - Miss Mary Investigates Book 1 - available in both paperback and Kindle - Amazon UK / Amazon US / Amazon CA


Giveaway Time!


Riana is giving away five eBooks worldwide over the course of this blog tour, chosen randomly from people who enter. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter.

Link to Rafflecopter

If you don’t like Rafflecopter, you can still enter. Just send Riana an email at saying so, and Riana will add your name to the list for the draw. The giveaway will close at 12am EST on February 27, 2021.

Note about comments: If you have any problems adding your comment please contact me and I will add your comment for you :)

Blog Tour Schedule

Please check out the other stops on Riana's blog tour!

Blog Tour Schedule - Death in Highbury by Riana Everly

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  1. I love the concept of Mary as a sleuth! And what a perfect representation of Emma and Harriet. :-) Thanks for this excerpt, and congrats on the new release!

    1. Thank you. She is such a fun character to work with. Did you try the rhymes? What did you think?

    2. Glad you enjoyed the excerpt

  2. The comparison of Regency life to pandemic lockdown and social distancing was a pretty good comparison. I'm glad our social evening doesn't depend on me coming up with good poetry lines for the game. I won't even share what I came up with. LOL

    Yay for another Mary mystery!

    1. Can you imagine if every work-related Zoom call started with impromptu poetry? LOL
      I hope you enjoy this story. It was lots of fun to write.

    2. I tried it too, Sophia, and my poetry is not good!

  3. OK, I love this series and look forward to reading this book. I think I hurt my brain with your game but I was willing to give it a try. No laughing please. I am no poet but this was fun.

    Set One:
    The weather is a wintery mix today
    With snow and ice that’s such a pest
    Our neighbor’s plow cleared the way
    Finally releasing our trapped guest
    To continue their vacation of fun
    With a southern journey seeking the sun

    Set two:
    Although I’ve never ridden a camel
    It would certainly be a fun jaunt
    I’ll write my request with a delicate font
    As I heat water in a pot of fine enamel
    Without electricity brings me to daunt
    A hot cup of tea is really all I want

    Set three:
    I was born under the sign of the flower
    As a mystic it holds much power
    To give its bearer the gift to glower
    And the ability to obscure
    From those simple of mind
    They should be conjoined and twined
    And influenced and thus inclined
    To adore and fall for the allure

    1. Those are amazing! Bravo, kudos, and woohooo!

    2. Oh my days, Jeanne, these are awesome! I know the winners are down to the rafflecopter but I hope you are one of them because you deserve it!

  4. We did something similar when I was younger. Instead of poems, songs. One sings and stops. The next one will continue with a different song but the first word of this new song will be the last wolrd of theprevious one.and so on

    I tried to do the first one but I am no poet either.

    1. That's a fun game. It might be something to try on car trips, if we are ever able to travel again. Thanks for the great idea.

  5. Replies
    1. I'm always amazed at the things people created to fill the empty hours. Thanks for commenting.

  6. The story sounds intriguing. It is bedtime so I am ignoring the poem challenge. Thanks for sharing here.

    1. I tried my own challenge and discovered I am a really, really awful poet! LOL
      Hope you enjoy the story.

  7. Loved the excerpt, but this time I think I will enjoy your three sets more. Again, thank you for sharing that piece of the book and that bit of Regency history.

    1. I enjoy reading poetry but have no ear for it myself. I wouldn't do very well in a Regency drawing room. I can't embroider, I can't play these word games, and I don't paint. I'll just sit at the piano and pick out pieces to entertain the others. :-)

  8. Life is much constrained as of today
    We all endeavor to avoid the pest
    ilence lest it should closely pass our way
    and prove itself an uninvited guest!
    By doggerel-writing I construct some fun
    Since here there's snow and ice instead of sun.

  9. I think I am more like Mary, for reading is its own reward. Looking forward to Mary's sleuthing in Highbury and the furthering of her relationship with Alexander!

    1. I was the kid who thought reading WAS the reward. My favourite part of school was the silent reading at the start of every day. Ahhhhh...

  10. I love Emma, so a mystery in Highbury sounds great!

    1. I hope you enjoy this one. It was fun throwing Mary into the mix in Highbury.


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