Diamonds, Death, and Devonshire tea… in a magical Regency England
Miss Elinor Avely's proper upbringing cannot prepare her for the tiny, spinster vampire who crashes into her sitting room and demands to be fed with a sheep.
Elinor already has enough troubles without having to catch ruminants. First, her secret gift for divining jewels has landed her in scandal, exiling her from London society. Second, a nobleman of dubious repute wants her to find a cache of smuggled jewels, hidden somewhere along the Devon coastline. Last – and worst – she is invited to cream tea at the local manor. And while the autocratic and magnificent Earl of Beresford might be there (and perhaps the jewels themselves too), Beresford is the last person Elinor wants to meet over cream tea.
When a dead body is discovered along the cliffs, of course, such delicate considerations become secondary. Fortunately, Elinor now has a small vampiric chaperone – even if said spinster has a habit of appearing stark naked – and together they are ready to risk the hard questions.
Where are the jewels hidden? Who killed the smuggler? And just when is the cream tea being served?
The Lady Jewel Diviner is the first book in the Lady Diviner series, set in Regency England with generous servings of magic, manners, and romance.
"We loved this whimsical take on the Regency historical in the style of Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate!"– Plot Trysts Podcast
"… a wonderful book with a rich plot and great world-building. If you don't fall in love with her characters, you will fall in love with her writing."– Reedsy Discovery Book Blog
"Who wouldn't adore a Regency cosy mystery fantasy romance? … pure escapism. Enthusiastically recommended."– Her Grace’s Library Book Blog
A tiny, white face lay against the wood, partially obscured by an upflung arm and a swirl of black hair. Elinor drew a breath. The creature was a girl, or woman, no larger than Elinor's hand. Furthermore, the woman was completely naked. Elinor shivered. The evening was cool, so she hastily pulled out a linen handkerchief to throw over the little person. As Elinor did so, the creature's eyes fluttered open.
"Arrggh. Cursed owls." She blinked at Elinor with deep blue eyes and tried to sit up. "Good evening."
"Good evening." Elinor was glad to hear her own voice was firm.
"I apologise for this irregular visit." The creature glanced down and pulled the linen closer around herself. "And for my lack of accoutrement."
Elinor gathered herself, though her heart was beating rapidly. At least this was a distraction from jewel divining. "Do you require some help?"
"I am a little indisposed," admitted the miniature lady. Her accent was odd, with a faint trace of French, but it spoke of noble breeding. "I will recover if I rest a while."
"Would you like to come inside? It will be warmer."
The lady spotted the iron key in Elinor's hand and her expression suddenly sharpened. "What is that? Do you mistake me for the fae?"
Embarrassed, Elinor hastily hid the key in the folds of her skirt.
"I tell you I am no such thing," snapped the lady.
"I apologise. I was not sure what kind of – er – personage was – er – calling upon me, and I thought it best to be cautious." Elinor paused, hoping the creature would enlighten her.
"Well, I am not fae. If you don't believe me, put that key against me. I won't shriek and die."
"I am sure that is not necessary," said Elinor, though she hesitated. Everyone knew the fae were notoriously given to trickery. That is, if they even existed.
The linen handkerchief rustled in indignation. "It is necessary, because you think I am trying to fool you."
Elinor narrowed her eyes. "If putting the key upon you will calm your nerves, I will do it." She held the iron up and moved it towards the little woman, who glared at her but showed no other signs of distress. Reluctantly, Elinor placed the key against her tiny hand.
The woman raised her brows and pursed her lips.
"Very well," said Elinor. "I am satisfied you are not fae. However, I might as well tell you – I don't believe in the fae."
"Oh, is that so? Lucky you. They are nasty creatures, rude and ill-bred."
"Will you tell me your name?"
"I am Miss Aldreda Zooth. I do apologise for the lack of proper introduction. Normally I would obtain one via my queen, but she is in France. I hope." A frown crossed the pale face.
"I am Miss Elinor Avely."
They stared at each other in the twilight. Eventually Miss Zooth smiled. "You seem singularly calm for someone who does not believe in the fae."
"You have just assured me that you are not fae."
"No, but I am a vampiri."
"I am afraid I do not know what that is."
Miss Zooth looked cross again. "Hmph. We are magical and useful. And polite, even if my current state of dress indicates otherwise."
Elinor cleared her throat. "Please do come in, Miss Zooth. May I assist you?"
The miniature lady tried to stand, clutching the handkerchief around her, but her legs were too weak. She collapsed in a heap again. "Perhaps if you carry me? I promise not to bite."
The little face turned away, eyes closed. Elinor felt a stab of pity. "Shall I gather you up?"
Miss Zooth nodded, and Elinor carefully scooped her up. She was light as a bird and seemed oddly frail. Elinor bore her into the house and placed her on a settee, pulling the primrose coloured shawl from her shoulders to tuck around her visitor. Miss Zooth tried to sit but struggled to hold herself up.
"Can I fetch you some tea? Some food?"
Elinor strode quickly to the kitchen, where she fetched the teapot and cups herself rather than disturb the servants – who would be doubly disturbed if they saw the impossible Miss Zooth. She snatched up a bread roll and a chunk of cheese. What cup would serve? After a moment's thought she detoured to her sewing basket to obtain a thimble.
Miss Zooth accepted it gratefully, though it was more like a large mug in her hands. She took dainty sips and eyed the bread and cheese.
"I don't suppose you have any meat?" she asked. "I know it is rude to request it, but when I am this weak it is the best thing for me."