Tag Archives: A Death in Chelsea

Author HL Marsay Drops In to Discuss Dorothy Peto AND Today’s Release of “A DEATH IN CHELSEA”

This week sees the release of A Death in Chelsea, the second book in my Lady in Blue Mysteries series. These stories follow the fictional adventures of Dorothy Peto, who was one of the first women to become a police volunteer during the First World War, so I thought I would share a little more information about her and the other women who helped form the Women Police Volunteers (WPV).

Dorothy Peto

Dorothy Olivia Georgiana Peto was born in Hampshire in 1886. Her family was wealthy and well-connected and her father was a successful landscape artist. She was educated at home and had dreams of becoming a novelist until war broke out in 1914. Deciding to make herself useful, she joined the voluntary police patrols in Bristol and Bath (although in my stories she is based in London). Despite her work training other women volunteers, when the war ended, she struggled to find a position with the regular police. Eventually, she was made director of the ten female police officers in Liverpool. 

In 1930, she transferred to the Metropolitan Police and became the first attested female superintendent. She formed her own branch of women police officers and insisted they should interview any woman charged with indecency and take charge of cases covered by the Children and Young Persons Act of 1933, especially those involving child abuse. When she retired in 1946, the number of female police officers at the Met. had grown from fifty-five to two hundred. In her later years, she returned to Hampshire and died in 1974.

 Nina Boyle 

Constance Antonina Boyle, known as Nina, was born in Kent in 1865. When her two brothers went to fight in the Boer War, she followed them to South Africa and worked first as a nurse and then as a journalist. It was while she was in Johannesburg that she first became interested in women’s rights.

When she returned to England, she joined the Women’s Freedom League and continued working as a journalist. She often wrote about how women were unfairly treated by the courts. Her protests at the Marlborough Street Magistrates Court led to her being arrested several times. 

When war broke out, she campaigned for women to be allowed to join the police. Her request was refused, so she joined forces with Margaret Damer Dawson to form the WPV in 1914. However, she left the organization only a year later following disagreements about enforcing curfews on women. She spent the rest of the war working as a nurse in the Balkans.

After the war, she travelled to Russia but what she saw there turned her against communism and to the right politically. When she returned to England, she attempted to stand in the Keighley by-election (the first woman to do so). Although her name didn’t appear on the ballot paper, her efforts meant women were allowed to stand in the General Election in December 1918. She also worked with the Save the Children Fund and began writing mystery and adventure novels featuring strong female characters, with titles such as “Out of the Frying Pan” and “Good Old Potts!”. Nina died in London in 1943. The Nina Boyle Memorial Prize was established in her name and is offered by the Royal Holloway University to either a History or Social Policy Student.

Margaret Damer Dawson

Mary Damer Dawson was born into an affluent Sussex family in 1873. Her father died when she was a young woman, leaving her independently wealthy. She used her money to fund various charities especially those concerned with anti-vivisection and campaigned against animals performing in circuses and being killed for meat. She also created a home for foundlings and was a talented pianist.

In 1914, she founded the WPV with Nina Boyle. It was Margaret’s money that financed the patrols. She had a close personal and professional relationship with Mary Allen. The two women lived together and when Nina left the WPV, Mary became Margaret’s second-in- command. When Margaret died in 1920, aged just forty-seven, Mary was the main beneficiary named in her will. The house Mary and Margaret shared at 10 Cheyne Walk now has a blue plaque to commemorate her and a birdbath dedicated to her memory stands in the garden nearby.  It is inscribed with the following quote, “He prayeth best who lovest best all things great and small”.[9]

Mary Allen

Mary Sophia Allen was born into a large and wealthy family in 1878. Although she was close to her sisters, she argued with her father, who was very traditional and against the emancipation of women. Mary left home in 1908 and joined Mrs. Pankhurst’s WSPU. She was imprisoned three times for breaking windows. During her incarceration she went on hunger strike and was force fed twice. 

When war broke out in 1914, she joined the WPV and became close to Margaret Damer Dawson. She was seen as slightly eccentric as she preferred to be addressed as Robert or Sir.

Following the end of the war and Margaret’s death, Mary continued to wear her Women’s Police Service uniform. She was increasingly drawn to far-right politics. She met Hitler and Mussolini and joined the British Union of Fascists. The British government became concerned by her activities and when the Second World War broke out, she was banned from travelling more than five miles from her home in Cornwall and was not allowed to use a car, telephone or wireless. After the war, she continued to campaign for animal rights until she died in 1964.

All four of these amazing women were awarded the OBE (Order of the British Empire). None of them ever married or had children.

I hope you enjoy reading “A Death in Chelsea” to learn more about these inspirational women.

About the Author.

H L Marsay grew up binge-reading detective stories and promised herself that some day, she would write one too. A Long Shadow was the first book in her Chief Inspector Shadow series set in York. Luckily, living in a city so full of history, dark corners and hidden snickelways, she is never short of inspiration. She has also written The Secrets of Hartwell Trilogy and The Lady in Blue Mysteries. The Chief Inspector Shadow Mysteries have recently been optioned for television.

When she isn’t coming up with new ways to bump people off, she enjoys drinking red wine, eating dark chocolate and reading Agatha Christie – preferably at the same time!

February Releases to Check Out! (Plus a GIVEAWAY!)

Read more about our new releases for February!

GIVEAWAY: We will pick ONE winner to receive a digital book of their choice from the February releases. Comment down below saying which book you’re looking most forward to reading! Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY. The winner will be randomly selected at the end of the month.

The Cowboy’s Prize by Jamie K. Schmidt
Release Date: Feb 1, 2024

She vowed she’d never date a cowboy…

LeAnn “Killer” Keller is determined to be the first woman in the WPRCA to win a buckle in bull riding. She’s sworn off the distraction of rodeo cowboys, until her sister hires veteran bull rider Dylan Porter, not knowing that LeAnn and he indulged in a steamy one-night stand last season. LeAnn intends to keep their night together a secret, but Dylan’s kind, sweet and oh so tempting.

Dylan Porter was eager to reconnect with the woman who rocked his world last season, but he never imagined he’d be training her to ride bulls. She wants to keep their hook up a secret from her overly protective family, which is disappointing because Dylan felt like she could be the one. He’d like to walk away, but he needs the money.

When a male rider is killed by a bull gone wild, Dylan tries to keep LeAnn from competing. He knows she’ll never forgive him if she misses her shot, but he’d rather have her safe, even if he loses her forever.

The Accidental Crush by Mia Heintzelman
Release Date: Feb. 6, 2024

Dante Fortemani’s family never takes his ideas seriously during business meetings, so he zones out. That is, until the agenda includes selling his late grandfather’s struggling vineyard. Desperate, he appeals to his mother and siblings, and buys himself two months to protect their legacy.

Business consultant Morgan Forster is constantly connected to anything with a digital pulse. Her friends believe she’s a stressed-out workaholic in need of an intervention: a Galentine’s Day getaway in wine country, an electronic detox, and hopefully, Mr. Right feeding her grapes.

The Fortemani Vineyard Galentine’s brunch is a smashing success for Dante. Except for the woman hiding in a corner with her phone…who’s convinced he’s an escort hired by her helpful Sister Circle. Soon, laughter, undeniable chemistry, and an unforgettable night, lead Dante to hire Morgan to help save the vineyard. She accepts under one condition: it’s strictly business.

As they tread through an inconvenient attraction to create a proposal before the next meeting, though, their focus yields to blossoming feelings. Is it a mistake for them to mix business with pleasure? Or is a chance at love worth the risk?

The Rancher’s Lost Bride by Roxanne Snopek
Release Date: Feb. 13, 2024

Leila Monahan is creating her dream family, but when her fiancé gets cold feet, she sends him packing. A sperm bank would be easier but first, she’ll take a DNA test. She doesn’t care about finding her birth parents, but her future children might. The surprising results are nothing to the shock of seeing her first true love back in town, with an eight-year-old daughter.

Sawyer Lafferty loved Leila, but her desire to get married—at nineteen!—sent him running. Before settling down, he wanted an education and opportunities. But those, and any future with Leila, vanished with the unexpected arrival of his baby girl. Now a single dad with full custody, he’s come home to manage Grand’s new therapeutic riding stable and rebuild his life.

Leila is gutted to learn that Sawyer wanted a family after all—just not with her. But little Piper quickly captures her heart, and when Sawyer shares the circumstances of his marriage, the spark they once had flares back to life, but is it enough to sustain them? Or will the secrets and lies surrounding them douse it forever?

The Replacement by Melinda Di Lorenzo
Release Date: Feb. 15, 2024

Ari Strange thought she’d survived the worst after the sudden death of her husband. She couldn’t have been more mistaken…

Nearly two years have passed since Ari’s husband died in a shocking hit-and-run, and she’s finally beginning to feel normal. She has a job. An apartment. She’s fully focused on her miracle–her 13-month-old daughter, Lucy-Kate. And she never dreamed it could all go sideways again in an instant…

On a freezing winter night, Ari wakes to find a blood-covered woman taking Lucy-Kate from her crib. In minutes, she goes from frantic parent to being accused of kidnapping her own daughter. The police don’t believe her story. They don’t even believe that Ari is Ari. Rather, they’ve taken the side of the woman who claims—with proof—to be her. The only person who gives Ari the benefit of the doubt is her unfriendly neighbor. But his behavior is sketchy, his motives unclear.

As evidence mounts against Ari, the time to save Lucy-Kate is running out. Can she uncover the truth before she loses everything all over again?

The Cowboy Charm by Sinclair Jayne
Release Date: Feb. 20, 2024

All work and no play is not how this cowboy intends to spend his day…

Former special forces soldier Ryder Lea has dedicated his life to serving others. Now honorably discharged, he’s looking to return to his cowboy roots to work as a rodeo stock contractor and travel the country he’s spent years protecting. But first, he has an obligation in Marietta, Montana to his fallen commanding officer. Surely completing a few hours of community service won’t be that challenging?

Physical therapist Edison Martin is short-staffed and underwhelmed when the tall, broad-shouldered cowboy with the ‘awe shucks’ smile swaggers into her clinic as her latest community-service volunteer. She needs trained help, not eye-candy. And Ryder reminds Edi of everything she’s lost and every man who’s done her wrong.

Bound by duty and compassionate by nature, Ryder dives into his temporary role with humor and enthusiasm. His motto: make a difference. But what will it take to get statuesque, super serious Edi to smile and remember that each day is a gift?

Texas Cowboy Sweetheart by Rebecca Crowley
Release: Feb. 22, 2024

The land they love might tear them apart…

Josie Star knew one day she’d step into her father’s boots and take over the Lone Star Ranch, but she hadn’t expected it to happen so soon. When her father collapses, she trades her corporate desk for a dusty tractor to shoulder the legacy of generations of Jewish Texans. She’s ready to take her place in the Lone Star’s history – with a little help from Easton McKinney. The ranch foreman is her lifelong best friend – and a man for whom her feelings once ran much deeper.

The Lone Star gave Easton the stable home his upbringing lacked, but when Josie returns, the dirt beneath his boots crumbles. She broke his heart when she left – and now she’s his boss. He’ll help her find her feet, but he won’t abandon his dream of running his own ranch. Maybe her homecoming is the kickstart he needs to finally move on from the Lone Star – and from her.

When Josie uncovers troubling family secrets, she needs Easton more than ever. But can he stay knowing she’s forever out of reach?

A Death in Chelsea by HL Marsay
Release: Feb. 27, 2024

Inspired by the remarkable life of Dorothy Peto, the Metropolitan Police’s first female superintendent.

During war, death isn’t only found on the battlefield…

It’s 1915 and war continues to rage across Europe, but at home in England, the members of the Women Police Volunteers are more accepted and their numbers continue to grow. However, founding member, Dorothy Peto is frustrated at being consigned to office duties and training recruits. Then, early one morning, her friend Margaret finds a dead body in the garden next door.

When they discover the wealthy victim’s will is missing, the list of possible suspects grows. Once again, Dorothy finds herself working alongside the inscrutable Inspector Derwent. Determined to prove herself a worthy investigator even as she battles personal loss and feuding friends, Dorothy gains the trust of witnesses, and pits her wits against a killer who may not stop if threatened.

Dark Irish Demon by Leigh Ann Edwards
Release: Feb. 29, 2024

Tall, dark and devilishly handsome Lorcan Wright can spot evil better than anyone. As a half-demon, he knows it well, and numbs his own urges with alcohol and the many women eager to share his bed. Now, however, he’s determined to use his supernatural abilities for good. His job locating and assessing magical beings at the LAMB agency seems perfect… until he disagrees with them on which evil beings should be destroyed.

Lovely Fiona Maguire is a strong, independent woman who’s been around long enough to trust her instincts. She’s also a powerful witch employed at LAMB and has no patience for Lorcan’s immature antics. About the only opinion they share is the stupidity of LAMB’s rules. Why let someone die when, with a wave of her hand, she could send them to a safer time or place, right?

Rogue agents aren’t popular at LAMB, so when disturbing events occur that could change the course of human history, Lorcan and Fiona are forced into a partnership. Their assignment: gather a team of other gifted creatures from the past, uncover the mystery, stop the evil and save the current world.

To do that, they must first learn to trust each other.

Saving the world might be easier.