Wednesday 30 March 2022

Death of a Dandy: A Mansfield Park Mystery by Riana Everly - Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Today I’m happy to be welcoming Riana Everly back to the blog for a guest post, a chance to enjoy an exerpt of her new book, Death of a Dandy: A Mansfield Park Mystery, and a chance to win an ebook of it too!

This is the latest in the Miss Mary Investigates series, which sees Pride & Prejudice’s Mary Bennet solving mysteries. Let’s look at the blurb, and then I’ll hand over to Riana for her guest post, excerpt from Death of a Dandy and giveaway.

Book Cover: Death of a Dandy: A Mansfield Park Mystery by Riana Everly
Book Description

The worlds of Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park meet when Mary Bennet lands in the middle of her third adventure with handsome investigator Alexander Lyons.

The two friends are travelling back to Mary’s home after a visit to the Darcy family at Pemberley when their journey is interrupted by the news that Tom Bertram, the heir to Mansfield Park, has disappeared. Alexander is asked to take the case, and he and Mary find themselves as guests at the estate. The house is abuzz with activity as plans go ahead for a fox hunt and the performance of a play, and Mary sees intrigue in every interaction between the beautiful residents of Mansfield Park and their sophisticated guests.

When the hunt ends in tragedy with the discovery of a body, Alexander’s involvement grows even deeper, but every clue leads to even more questions. The more Alexander digs, the more it seems this death might involve people much higher up than he can reach. And the biggest question of all is who, exactly, was the intended victim of what is surely murder most foul?

Mary and Alexander find themselves hard at work to unravel a web of secrets and dark goings-on that enshroud the elegant estate of Mansfield Park. But Alexander is hiding a secret of his own, one which he knows will forever doom any possible future for him and Mary.

Will they solve the mystery before somebody else dies? And will any hearts remain unbroken if they succeed?

Guest Post from Riana Everly: Down the Rabbit Hole: Canals in Britain

Thank you so much for having me here today as part of my blog tour for my newest novel in the Miss Mary Investigates series, Death of a Dandy: A Mansfield Park Mystery. It’s always a pleasure to join your group of readers and read the comments.

As happens so often, I got completely caught up in my research for Death of a Dandy, and found myself going down unexpected paths… or in this case, canals. All I needed for the story was a way to get a character from point A to point B, but the rabbit hole beckoned, and down I jumped. Here is just a tiny bit of what I found.

The earliest canals in Britain were built by Roman engineers around 2000 years ago. The Fossdyke connected Lincoln to the River Trent, and the Caer Dyke extended about 40 miles to the south of Lincolnshire. These were primarily intended for irrigation and to drain swampland, but they were also used to transport heavy goods. From about the year 1500, there was an effort to expand the canal system in England, but it was not until the dawn of the industrial age that the great age of canal building began.

From the middle of the eighteenth century, roads were being improved across England, but the coal and steel needed for the new mills and factories were too heavy for wagons. But if these good were placed on barges, a single horse could pull 50 tons of cargo. The smooth motion of the barges also meant that fragile goods like pottery could be transported without the threat of damage.

But rivers did not necessarily go where the goods were needed, and canals proved to be the answer. In 1759, Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, commissioned James Brindley to build a canal between his coal mines and the big market of Manchester. The canal was only about six miles long and it took two years to complete. Bridgewater nonetheless still had to borrow £25,000, an exorbitant amount at the time. The gamble paid off, and the canal soon made back that money and a great deal more.

Canals quickly became a focus of investment in the UK, and a great deal of money was made—and lost—in these ventures. A good plan could make a man his fortune, but shady characters selling shares in non-existent canal systems could rob a man blind as well.

By 1840, there were about 4500 miles of interconnected canals crossing the country, but the great age of canals was effectively at an end. With the development of steam locomotives and the construction of a network of railways, there was little more need for canals as a tool of industry.

This map shows the extent of the British canal system to the year 1800. The image is from the Canal Museum’s website.

Extent of Canals in Britain in 1800


The UK’s canals are still in use, however, mostly for pleasure boaters who enjoy a leisurely tour through the countryside on their barges and riverboats.

Here are a few photographs of such canals. Can you imagine a holiday along these waterways? I certainly can! Thanks to freyafotos for the images.

These are the Devizes locks (Caen Hill Locks) on the Kennet and Avon. They are the longest continuous flight of locks in the UK.

Devizes Locks - photo by Freyafotos

Here is the Peak Forest Canal, which runs for about 15 miles from greater Manchester towards the Peak District National Park. Isn’t it lovely?

Peak Forest Canal - photo by Freyafotos

These are two pictures of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in North Wales, near Wrexham. This is a marvel of engineering, as the Llangollen Canal is carried on a bridge across the River Dee. My fear of heights might have to take second place to the coolness of this structure, because I’d love to walk (or sail) across it. I’ll just need someone to hold my hand. Perhaps Mr. Darcy will be available…

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct - photo by Freyafotos

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct - photo by Freyafotos

This is the inside of a typical lock. You can see how narrow these canals are!

Inside a Lock - photo by Freyafotos


* * *

Here is an excerpt from my new novel, which has nothing to do with canals, but which I hope you’ll enjoy anyway.

From Death of a Dandy: A Mansfield Park Mystery:

* * *

Book Cover: Death of a Dandy: A Mansfield Park Mystery by Riana Everly
Edmund Bertram’s carriage rolled down the long tree-lined drive and came to a stop before the imposing portico that guarded the massive front doors to the great country house of Mansfield Park. From the direction of the lane, which ran as straight as any Roman road, and through the curtained windows of the carriage, Mary had enjoyed little view of where they were going. The distance of eight or nine miles had been completed in about an hour, with Mansfield’s team of fine horses pulling them along apace, and the scenery that had been available to Mary’s eyes was lovely, even in the browning days of mid-October. But of the house itself, she had mere glimpses until the horses ceased their toil and the carriage door was flung open. Edmund murmured a word to them, then leapt from the conveyance and bounded down the stairs to command a servant to alert the housekeeper about his guests, leaving Alexander to hand Mary down from the coach. She allowed her hand to rest in his for a moment after she achieved the ground, taking confidence from his reassuring touch.

At last, she allowed her eyes to take in the grandeur that was Mansfield Park. She had thought Pemberley grand, and in many ways it was a more impressive building than was the building before her. But where Pemberley nestled into its environs, a natural outgrowth of the surrounding topography and as much an organic part of the landscape as the very trees that clung to the rocky hills, Mansfield Park seemed imposed upon the ground on which it sat. It spoke not so much of belonging to the land, as of the land belonging to it.

When, at last, her eyes had completed their survey of the yellow stone house and found the grand doors once more, it was to notice a young woman standing in the entry. As Edmund led them up the stairs, her features became clearer and clearer to Mary’s eyes.

The young woman seemed to be about eighteen years of age—three years or so younger than Mary herself, perhaps Lydia’s age, or a little older, but with none of her sister’s girlish exuberance. She looked too well-dressed to be a servant, not grand enough to be one of the Bertram sisters, and far too young to be the housekeeper. Even at the distance, her face held every promise of gentle beauty, though held at bay by a need to stay hidden. This was a look Mary recognised.

As the small group reached the portico, the young lady dropped to a deep curtsy and spoke.

“My aunt bid me come and welcome you to Mansfield Park.” Her voice was sweet and soft, almost inaudible. Mary wondered if the girl had become so accustomed to not being heard that she had adopted such tones. Indeed, her entire demeanour, her shrinking posture, timorous expression, and simple clothing all bespoke a young woman more accustomed to being ignored than being seen.

Much like…

Mary blinked away the thought. She had enough of her own experiences of being passed over; only in the last year or two, since her older sisters married, had she found her voice and her place in society. She vowed to give all attention to this young woman.

“You must be Miss Price.”

 * * * 

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!

Riana’s novels have received several awards and citations as favourite reads of the year, including two Jane Austen Awards and a Discovering Diamonds review.

You can follow Riana's blog, and join her on Facebook and Twitter (@RianaEverly). She loves meeting readers!

Also, check out her website and Amazon Author Page to learn more. 


Buy Links 

Death of a Dandy is available to buy now in various ebook formats. 

Buy Link • Add to Goodreads shelf


Giveaway Time!

Riana is delighted to be giving away five eBooks internationally of Death of a Dandy: A Mansfield Park Mystery. She has set up a Rafflecopter draw, but for anybody who cannot use the link, please email Riana your name and preferred email address to and she will add you manually to the list for the draw.


Good luck!

Note about comments:  If you would like to comment on this post and have any problems adding your comment please contact me and I will add your comment for you :)

* * * 

Thanks so much to Riana for this interesting post about canals. Coincidentally, the day before Riana sent me this guest post I met up with a friend who I hadn't seen for a long time and she told me that she had been away on a narrow boat and they had been to Devizes, which is one of the places Riana has mentioned in her post. My friend was telling me about the Caen Hill Locks Riana mentioned, which are basically a series of nearly 30 locks to allow you to travel uphill. It is something else! Check out the Wikipedia page if you would like to learn more! 

The picture of the lock makes me feel quite claustrophobic. The boats that travel by canal are often of a type called a narrow boat, and you can see why that needs to be the case. There are some people who actually live on narrow boats, especially in the south east of the UK where property prices are particularly high. You see them featured on TV sometimes, and some of them are just beautiful and look very comfortable. 

I also enjoyed the excerpt Riana brought us. I think that Mary Bennet would have some fellow-feeling towards Fanny Price; they both know how it feels to be overlooked within their families. 

All the very best with this book, Riana, I look forward to reading this series!

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  1. Really enjoyed the story - just waiting for the paperback copy to come out, so that I can buy that as well, to add to my Mary Bennet collection

    1. Thanks! I am busy going over the proof copy of the paperback now, hoping to expunge any remaining problems, and expect to have the paperback available within a couple of days. I'm just so thrilled you're enjoying this series.

    2. I would think this series is right up your street, Vesper, as I know you love both Mary Bennet stories and mysteries.

  2. Riana, I have not read the previous books; I'm saving them to read all at once. So, perhaps this has been addressed already, and I just don't know it. I have been wondering what Mary's family think she is doing during all of these events. How is she allowed to be traveling all around, at this time?

    1. My previous reply vanished, so please forgive me if I repeat myself.

      In this book, Mary is on her way back to Longbourn after visiting Lizzy and Darcy, and Alexander is escorting her (with her maid there, of course). Alexander is Darcy's friend, and Darcy trusts him completely. They are breaking their journey at the home of Alexander's friend and his wife in Northampton when they get called into this case.

      In the previous book, Mary is on her way home from Brighton when the assassination of the PM forces her to break her journey in Highbury. Darcy sends Alexander to make sure she's OK.

      Don't worry - propriety is observed at all times. We can't have her just gallivanting about England, can we? ;-)

    2. Thanks for the great question, Ginna, and thanks to Riana for replying to it!

  3. Oh, I absolutely MUST read thic book! And find the others in the series as well, I do love a good mystery!

    1. Thanks! I am really enjoying writing about Mary and Alexander, and yes, I love a good mystery as well. I've wanted to write mysteries for ages, and when I started thinking about Mary Bennet, I realised what a fabulous sleuth she would be.
      I really hope you enjoy this one.

    2. I do too, love to get my poor little brain whirring trying to work it out! But hopefully not whirring too hard :)

  4. Ditto to the above. I do love mysteries. Also loved the photos of the canals. While a young girl my family took a vacation to Canada and viewed some locks that connected to the Great Lakes. I don't know if they are still used but I do remember them.

    1. Yes, there are lots of canals and locks around here, although most aren't as picturesque as the ones above. The Rideau Canal links Ottawa to Kingston on Lake Ontario, and there are some lovely walks and paths along its banks. There are also larger shipping canals, some still used commercially, but others just for recreation. I love watching boats come through the locks.

    2. I am so glad you enjoyed the post about the canals. In my town there is a scheme underway to uncover the historic canals, which would have been used for transporting coal from the Welsh valleys to the docks and were built over with the advent of the railway to transport goods.

  5. I was just admiring an English canal/bridge scene when watching the second to last episode of All Creatures Great and Small. I would love to holiday on a houseboat along a canal.

    Oh, now this latest mystery does sound fab. I need to get caught up on the series after reading the prequel.

    1. Wouldn't one of those canal trips be fun?
      We have friends with a cottage on a lake that's part of a canal system, and whenever we visit I see the houseboats floating along. Our canals aren't quite as picturesque as the English ones, but they still look like a lot of fun.

    2. I would like to go on a houseboat but I am also a bit nervous as generally when you go on holiday you can't crash or sink your accommodation! Some of the houseboats are really luxurious.

  6. I hadn't known about the canals in Britain previously, so thanks!

    1. I loved researching these. I knew nothing at all before.

    2. So glad you enjoyed Riana's post. I always learn something new from her!

  7. I am a huge fan of Mansfield Park and P&P, so this crossover sounds most interesting! Thank you for sharing that fascinating info on canals and the excerpt.

    1. I came to like MP more and more as I reread it for writing this book. I wanted to get to know Fanny very well, because I wondered how she and Mary would get along. They are similar in so many ways, but also different

    2. So glad you enjoyed the guest post and excerpt, Jen. I agree with Riana that there are similarities between Mary and Fanny. I think Mary would have compassion for her.

  8. I learned so much in this post!
    It is great to see more works on Mansfield Park too.

    1. I really enjoyed this line of research. it's funny how one little question can lead to a whole world of information. I had no idea I'd find canals so fascinating. :-)
      I hope you enjoy this story. I'm certainly considering writing more about MP now that I've had a chance to revisit the story in some depth

    2. So glad you enjoyed the post; I always learn something new from Riana!

      I agree with you re. how nice it is to see more MP works :)


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