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January 1, 2024

Death in a Gilded Frame by Cecelia Tichi ~ a Review

by MK French

Western silver heiress Val Mackle DeVere plans to sit for a portrait for her beloved husband. Instead of the artist, she finds a bloody body in the art gallery. The dead Newport gallery manager is clutching at a gilt frame pulled down over his head and shoulders. When Val touches the murder weapon, she is suspected to be the killer. Society is only too eager to see her shamed and isolates her as she seeks the true killer.

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book cover of historical romance novel Death in a Gilded Frame by Cecelia Tichi
January 2024; Indie; 979-8985121681
ebook, print (320 pages); historical romance

While there's a series of Val and Roddy DeVere novels taking place in the Gilded Age, this can be read as a standalone. (The series titles all have Gilded in the title.) This can be read without the others because Val is narrating, and in the manner of Gilded Age novels, proceeds to explain everything about herself immediately. Newport, Rhode Island is full of the monied elite, and Val wasn't born into money. The people here consider twenty-room homes a cottage, and teams of people are at the ready to satisfy their every whim. Roddy wants a portrait of Val for his New York City office, setting the stage for finding the body. The gallery sequence itself is full of tiny jabs to show how important the families and gallery owner are.

The sharp eyed reader will catch people behaving oddly more than Val will, but we know the kind of book we're reading. The police question people regarding the murder and the gallery contents as Newport residents belittle and ostracize Val at every opportunity because she's from the West and isn't East Coast old money. I was angry on her behalf, and how oblivious Roddy seemed to it at times. With the conversation he had with Val on a few occasions, I was just as angry with him as I was with the elites poking fun at Val without recourse. The portrait artist is another self-important man who refuses to consider others or their opinions. 

Cecelia Tichi has extensive knowledge of this time period, and it shows. There's such lavish details throughout the novel. You can't read this book without seeing the extravagance in dress, food, drinks, and buildings of the time period. It's incredibly well done and grafted to this story is a mystery that will keep you interested until the very end.

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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