A Novel Disguise, a Lady Librarian Mystery by Samantha Larsen
Character Guest Post + Book & Author Info + Giveaway
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A Novel Disguise, a Lady Librarian Mystery
When Miss Tiffany Woodall assumes the identity of her half-brother after his death, she realizes she isn’t the only one with a secret to hide in this historical series debut, perfect for fans of Deanna Raybourn and Sherry Thomas.
1784 London.Miss Tiffany Woodall didn’t murder her half-brother, but she did bury him in the back garden so that she could keep her cottage. Now, the confirmed spinster has to pretend to be Uriah and fulfill his duties as the Duke of Beaufort’s librarian while searching Astwell Palace for Uriah’s missing diamond pin, the only thing of value they own. Her ruse is almost up when she is discovered by Mr. Samir Lathrop, the local bookseller, who tries to save her from drowning while she’s actually just washing up in a lake after burying her brother.
Her plan is going by the book, until the rector proposes marriage and she starts to develop feelings for Mr. Lathrop. But when her childhood friend, Tess, comes to visit, Tiffany quickly realizes her secret isn’t the only one hidden within these walls. The body of a servant is found, along with a collection of stolen items, and someone else grows mysteriously ill. Can Tiffany solve these mysteries without her own disguise being discovered? If not, she’ll lose her cottage and possibly her life.
A Novel Disguise (A Lady Librarian Mystery)
Historical Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Imaginary English village, 1784
Crooked Lane Books (May 16, 2023)
Paperback : 320 pages
ISBN-10 : 1639103465
ISBN-13 : 978-1639103461
Digital ASIN : B0B9WJ8FFT
To purchase A Novel Disguise (A Lady Librarian Mystery) click on any of the following links: Amazon – B&N – Books A Million – Powells Books – IndieBound – Bookshop.org
Character Guest Post by Samantha Hastings — Being Black in 1784 England
October 30, 1784.
Miss Tiffany Woodall: Mr. Thomas Montague, you are the first person of African descent I have ever met. Can you tell me a little bit about how you came to live in England in 1784?
Mr. Thomas Montague: I was born in Jamaica. The Duchess of Beaufort purchased me from a slave captain as a small child and I don’t remember much before then. I grew up at Astwell Palace. In the eighteenth century, English aristocratic ladies liked to have Black pageboys so that their own skin appeared whiter. They would dress us up in colorful costumes and show us off to their friends. When the boys grew up, they were often sold back into slavery.
Miss Tiffany Woodall: How terrible it must be for a young boy to be taken away from his family and put on display. That is both awful and unconscionable. I am so sorry. But now that you are grown, what is your position of employment at Astwell Palace?
Mr. Thomas Montague: I am the first footman. I run errands for the duchess and I often accompany her to make calls. I assist the butler in serving dinner and I wind up the clocks every day. Because I am a footman, I am called by my given name: Thomas.
Miss Tiffany Woodall: Which I must mention that you are a wonderful footman. You are both tall and handsome. The best footman are at least six feet tall and you fit the bill, perfectly.
My next question is a bit delicate, so please know that I am only wishing to help my readers better understand what England was like in 1784: Are most Black people servants in England at this time?
Mr. Thomas Montague: You would be right in your assumption that most Black people are servants at this time in Georgian England; many were once slaves until slavery was outlawed in Britain in 1772. I was a child at the time. After that, Black servants in England began to receive a wage. However, you would be wrong to assume that ALL Black people were servants in the 18th century. Other occupations Black people held included: parish constable, parish priest, churchwarden, barrister, victualler, coal trader, cabinet maker, actress, drummer, gardener, groom, market gardener, member of the militia, sailor, seaman, soldier, teacher of sword-fighting, sheriff, and justice of the peace.
Miss Tiffany Woodall: I am glad to hear so many people of color thrived during this time. I would love to meet a teacher of sword-fighting.
England is predominately white in 1784; do you ever experience prejudice? Or racism?
Mr. Thomas Montague: Most English people have never seen a Black person before and are usually more curious than unkind. However, people in general tend to be suspicious of others whom are different than them. In A NOVEL DISGUISE, my word as a Black man does not mean as much as a white servant. The Black composer Sancho Ignatius took his daughters to Vauxhall Gardens one night. He wrote, “We went by water—had a coach home—were gazed at—followed, &c &c—but not much abused.”
Miss Tiffany Woodall: How awful for them. It breaks my heart that so many people are ignorant and narrow-minded.
Another sensitive question that I am sure my readers wish to know: Can Black and other people of color own property in Georgian England?
Mr. Thomas Montague: Yes, ma’am. Perhaps the most prominent would be Nathaniel Wells (1779-1852) who was the son of a white man and a Black slave. He was freed when his father died and he inherited his father’s plantations. He went to Britain for an education. There he bought Piercefield House near Chepstow. In 1803, he was appointed justice of the peace and in 1818, Wells became the deputy lieutenant of Monmouthshire.
Miss Tiffany Woodall: How wonderful for Mr. Wells. He sounds like a most estimable gentleman. You mentioned that he went to Britain for an education. Could men of color attend university in England? I know that ladies at this time in history could not.
Mr. Thomas Montague: Black and biracial men could receive a university degree. Reverend Brian Mackey (half white and half Black) received an Oxford education and was the parish priest of Coates in Gloucestershire.
Miss Tiffany Woodall: I am sure Reverend Mackey is an excellent addition to his parish.
On a more personal note, I hear that you are engaged to Miss Doddridge. My heartiest congratulations!
Mr. Thomas Montague: Thank you, Miss Woodall. I love her very much. My fiancé Sarah is white and a lady’s maid. Interracial marriages are acceptable in England in the eighteen century as long as both parties are of an equal rank.
Miss Tiffany Woodall: It is I, whom am most grateful for you time and your honest answers. I am lucky to call you my friend, Thomas.
And as a librarian, I can’t help but suggest to my readers a book about the true story of an incredible Black woman: Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice by Paula Byrne. New York: Harper Perennial, 2014.
Samantha Hastings met her husband in a turkey sandwich line. They live in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she spends most of her time reading, eating popcorn, having tea parties, and chasing her four kids. She has degrees from Brigham Young University, the University of North Texas, and the University of Reading (UK).
She’s the author of: The Last Word, The Invention of Sophie Carter, A Royal Christmas Quandary, The Girl with the Golden Eyes, Jane Austen Trivia, The Duchess Contract, Secret of the Sonnets, The Marquess and the Runaway Lady, and A Novel Disguise. She also writes cozy murder mysteries under Samantha Larsen.
To learn more about Samantha click on any of the following links: Website, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Library Thing & BookBub
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Visit all the stops on the tour!
May 9 – I’m Into Books – AUTHOR GUEST POST
May 9 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
May 10 – The Mystery of Writing – CHARACTER GUEST POST
May 10 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
May 11 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
May 11 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT
May 12 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
May 12 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
May 13 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR GUEST POST
May 13 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT
May 14 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
May 15 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
May 16 – Baroness Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT
May 16 – Carstairs Considers – REVIEW
May 17 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW
May 18 – Jane Reads – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
May 19 – Novels Alive – REVIEW
May 20 – Guatemala Paula Loves to Read – REVIEW
May 21 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT
May 22 – Christa Reads and Writes – SPOTLIGHT
Elena Taylor/Elena Hartwell
All We Buried, available now in print, e-book, and audio.
Silver Falchion Award Finalist, Best Investigator
Foreword INDIE Award Finalist, Best Mystery
The Foundation of Plot, a Wait, Wait, Don’t Query (Yet!) guidebook.