The Everwell Society for the Benefit of Sorrowful Spinsters and Woeful Widows invites you to read Michelle Helliwell’s Scandalous Spinster series over tea while relaxing at Everwell Manor.

On July 20th, Nova Scotia author Michelle Helliwell will be launching her third book of five in her Scandalous Spinster historical romance series A Tantalizing Treasure. Set in Victorian Halifax in the 1870s, each novel in the series is about a different teacher at Everwell Manor. They do not need to be read in order but your enjoyment of the series may increase if you do so. With this in mind, this will be a series review.

Everwell Manor is a school for girls and a temporary haven for women who require an escape from dangerous domestic situations. The Everwell teachers, aka The Everwell Society for Scandalous Spinsters and Wayward Women, are strong, older women (for 1874), each with an extra skill set over and above that of teaching. With parallels to the Legend of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, they use those extra skills to help those who can’t always help themselves, sometimes even outside the bounds of the law.

Elouise isn’t simply Charming by name … Charming is the job.

In the first book, A Dangerous Diversion, we meet Elouise Charming. Elouise has many unique talents. She has a fondness for thievery and theatre and has mastered the art of swooning, but her specialty is being a diversion while her fellow Scandalous Spinsters try to crack a safe or free a group of girls from the clutches of people trying to do them harm. She meets Dominic Ashe after she picks his pocket for his tickets to a party at Government House. Forced to play husband and wife, it’s not long before real sparks begin to fly.

After reading just the first book, I wanted to become a member of the Everwell Society. I’d love to join this girl squad and sit with them in the parlor at Everwell, planning capers and having tea.

What happens when a thief gets her heart stolen?
… and what happens when it’s stolen by a gorgeous if straight-laced British colonel who’s unknowingly hired Everwell’s cat burglar as a governess for his daughter?

… and what happens when a man who gives orders for a living finds himself falling head over heels for a woman who seems incapable of following any?

In the second book, A Captivating Caper, we meet the youngest teacher at Everwell Manor. A former acrobat, Gemma Kurt, with her duel expertise of blending into the background and sleight of hand. She is the perfect Scandalous Spinster to apply for the governess position for Miss Ivy Webber at Hastings House. Her mission: to search the house undetected for a missing will.

I enjoyed reading about Gemma and her charge’s father — Colonel Jeremy Webber, Lieutenant Governor George Tupper’s handsome Secretary, a stickler for rules — tip-toeing around their attraction for one another.

In the third book, A Tantalizing Treasure we meet Madeline Murray, the librarian and gardener of Everwell Manor. Taller than most men, and well-practiced in martial arts and boxing, she is the group’s muscle. “Throwing knives and short sabres (are) her preferred tools when life and limb (are) on the line”. Beau, accused of killing his father and with a bounty on his head, needs to hide out while Ashe investigates. Maddy is hired to protect and keep an eye on Beau. With the goal of a new greenhouse for Everwell clear in her mind, she takes the train with Beau to his mother’s childhood home in Windsor to hide until Ashe clears Beau’s name. Will Maddy save the bounty hunters the trouble of taking Beau out? Or will Beau win over the ‘I’d rather be reading’ Maddy Murray?

Each installment in Michelle Helliwell’s series is romantic, uniquely fun, and ends with a swoon-worthy “happily ever after.” I am anticipating reading more about the capers and shenanigans of The Everwell Society for Scandalous Spinsters and Wayward Women in Michelle’s next book.

Prescott House Museum

On July 20th, Michelle is launching A Tantalizing Treasure at the Prescott House Museum in Starr’s Point, Nova Scotia. It is one of the best-preserved Georgian houses in Canada and the sole inspiration for Michelle’s Everwell Manor. Using her creative license, Michelle has taken Prescott House and its gardens from Starr’s Point, placed the entire estate in South End Halifax, and changed its name to Everwell Manor for her Scandalous Spinster series. Last fall, Michelle hosted an amazing and creative literary salon fundraiser for the Museum. Participants got a personal tour of Everwell Manor/Prescott House, including areas not open to the public. As we went from room to room, Michelle read passages and scenes from her books that she envisioned happening in each room. It was incredible to walk through the pages of her first two books.

Michelle Helliwell standing in front of Maddy’s desk, from A Tantalizing Treasure

The first room she brought us to was the parlor, a meeting room where lessons were taught, capers were planned and the Scandalous Spinsters gathered. Next was a visit to the dining room, followed by a trip upstairs to see where the teachers lived and the guest bedroom where Dominic Ash would have stayed. Then it was the much-anticipated Library complete with the very desk Maddie would have sat at organizing and cataloging her impressive collection of books. The tour concluded with a visit to the gardens to see the very Kissing Tree where Dominic and Elouise shared their first kiss. The literary tour was then followed by tea and cookies in the sunroom, where the students’ classes would have taken place. I can’t stress enough how wonderful and creative this literary event was.

Michelle Helliwell is a sucker for hopelessly romantic stories – the swish of heavy skirts, guys in linen shirts, and moody weather is her happy place. She lives with her husband and two sons in Nova Scotia, Canada, where moody weather and bagpipes are plentiful, but alas, guys in puffy shirts are too few.

Publisher: ‎Everwell Press (July 9th, 2024)
Paperback | 343 pages
ISBN: 9781738648702

Sue Slade has a Bachelor of Child Study from Mount St. Vincent University in Halifax. After working with children and adults with special needs, she now has her midlife dream job of working with books. Sue manages an independent, locally owned bookstore, Dartmouth Book Exchange. Through her charismatic sharing centred around books and community, Sue has created an engaging cornerstone for authors, customers, and book lovers of all ages. Sue is an avid reader and her reviews cross over many genres.

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