Monday, September 5, 2022

A Lady's Guide to Death and Deception by Katherine Cowley blog tour - Author Interview an AustenProse tour

Welcome to my first stop on The Lady's Guide to Death and Deception blog tour. Today you'll enjoy an exclusive interview with the author about her series, her star and her reason for choosing Mary Bennett to star in her series.
Then stop back by on Friday for my thoughts on this novel.

ASIN: B0B62153D2
Publisher: Dreamscape Media LLC
Release Date: 9-06-2022
Length: 10 hours & 36 minutes
Source: Publisher/Author for review




What is a spy willing to do when both her heart and her country are at risk?

Life changes once again for British spy Miss Mary Bennet when Napoleon Bonaparte escapes from the Isle of Elba. Mary quickly departs England for Brussels, the city where the Allied forces prepare for war against the French. But shortly after her arrival, one of the Duke of Wellington's best officers is murdered, an event which threatens to break the delicate alliance between the Allies.

Investigating the murder forces Mary into precarious levels of espionage, role-playing, and deception with her new partner, Mr. Withrow-the nephew and heir of her prominent sponsor, and the spy with whom she's often at odds. Together, they court danger and discovery as they play dual roles gathering intelligence for the British. But soon Mary realizes that her growing feelings towards Mr. Withrow put her heart in as much danger as her life. And then there's another murder.

Mary will need to unmask the murderer before more people are killed, but can she do so and remain hidden in the background?

My Interview with Katherine Cowley:

Katherine, hi! Welcome to The Reading Frenzy.
Tell us a little about your new novel, The Lady’s Guide to Death and Deception.

The Lady’s Guide to Death and Deception is a story about Mary Bennet figuring out what she is willing to do for her country and for her family. Napoleon Bonaparte has recently escaped from the Isle of Elba, and suddenly all of Europe is in upheaval. Mary and other spies are sent to Brussels, where one of the Duke of Wellington’s most trusted officers is found dead in the canal.

It's Mary’s first time abroad, and suddenly she’s thrust into the middle of preparations for war. Her sister Lydia is also in Brussels—her husband Wickham has been stationed there—and so Mary and Lydia must attempt to navigate their new relationship. And perhaps my favorite part of the story is that Mary finally gets her own chance at romance. 

I will be reviewing the audio version, narrated by Alison Larkin. Did you have a hand in choosing her to narrate? Why will I love her telling the story?

I didn’t have any say in choosing an audiobook narrator, though I had lots of hopes and dreams. All of my dreams were surpassed when I found out that Dreamscape Publishing had managed to get Alison Larkin as a narrator. She is a British actress and comedian who has narrated the complete works of Jane Austen, and she perfectly captures the characters, their emotions and backgrounds, and the intensity of the story. Listening to her narrate my books has been one of the most rewarding parts of the publishing process. 

This is the third installation in this series starring Mary Bennet, often referred to the forgotten Bennet sister. Tell my readers a little about Mary Bennet and why you chose her as your series heroine.

When I was younger, I used to think that I was like the heroine of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet. Elizabeth is witty and always has a perfect comeback. She doesn’t let others push her around. She loves reading and playing the pianoforte. And she always manages to move past her difficulties and make the best of things. Her younger sister, Mary, is in many ways her opposite (despite a shared love of books and the pianoforte). She is often overlooked, she’s not as pretty, and she can find navigating social situations to be difficult. She can be overly judgmental, and she can rate her own abilities too highly, sometimes to her own detriment. As I grew older, I realized that I actually share a lot with Mary Bennet.

I was rewatching the 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice and I realized that if Mary’s life continued as everyone expected (old maid staying in Longbourn, forever caring for her parents), she would actually be rather miserable. I decided that she had a secret, and a few months later I realized what it was: she was a spy for the British government. Once I had that realization, I knew I had to write her story. 

Congratulations on the 2022 nomination for the Mary Higgins Clark Award for first novel in the series, The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet. Did you know from the get go that this would be a series? How many books are planned?

From the start I knew that it would be a series, and I envisioned three novels to tell the core of Mary’s story. I intentionally crafted each story so that they can be read individually, though you definitely see Mary’s progression as a character if you read all three. The Lady’s Guide is the third book in the series and wraps up the initial arcs I had envisioned for her character.

Many of my favorite mystery series give the main character continuing adventures, and I feel like there is a lot more that Mary and her fellow spies can do. But at this point, I haven’t decided whether to continue the story or stop at the end of the third book. 

Katherine you’re also a writing teacher. What came first Katherine the teacher or Katherine the author?

I’ve always loved writing. When I was five years old, I decided I was going to be a writer, and I wrote short stories throughout my childhood years. When I was in college, I was a teaching assistant for a film class, and I taught my own lab section. I realized that I loved teaching, and so I went on to do a Masters in English with an emphasis in Rhetoric and Composition (the teaching of writing). It was only after I graduated from college that I started taking my fiction writing seriously. 

We all know you’re an Austen fan. What drew you to Austen and what keeps you there?

I actually can’t remember my first experience with Jane Austen—I first read Pride and Prejudice when I was ten years old, and then I reread it a number of times, so it’s hard to distinguish my first impressions from my subsequent readings. But in my early years of Jane Austen, I think it was the characters that drew me, the way they see the world, their conflicts and the way that their relationships have so much meaning. I also loved the humor and the narrator’s commentary on life on society.

I keep coming back to Austen because there’s always more that she has to say. There’s always another layer, another character or interaction that will speak to me, another beautifully crafted line that will stop me and leave me in wonder.

Why do you think Austen is still such a big draw for readers more than 200 years after her death?

While her setting is Regency England, there’s so much about Jane Austen’s stories that are universal, that speak to our current struggles and give us hope and belief as we strive to move forward. Her works have become part of our mythology—they have become foundational stories, just like fairytales and Greek mythology. Shakespeare was extremely popular in Austen’s day, and he is still popular, 200 years later. I think if we could look 200 years into the future, we’d find that readers are still reading Austen and that her stories continue to speak to the human condition.

Katherine thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, I can’t wait to start your novel.

Advanced Praise:

“Cowley manages to turn a little-liked, ignored, and stilted girl into one of my favorites of Austen's characters...This third novel of the series is her best. I laughed and I cried and cheered for Mary to succeed in her endeavors and hopefully find love at last.”— Carol Pratt Bradley, author of The Light of the Candle

“5 STARS. Just a delight!”— Wren, The Zebra Reader

“I really enjoyed this book. It is a great addition to the series. I loved that Mary is finding love in a logical way that fits her character…Highly recommend.”— Mariana, Goodreads

“I absolutely love Katherine Cowley's Mary Bennet series, and I think [The Lady’s Guide to Death and Deception] may be the best book in the series.”— Madison, Goodreads

About the author:
Katherine Cowley read Pride and Prejudice for the first time when she was ten years old, which started a lifelong obsession with Jane Austen. Her debut novel, The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet, was nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. Her Mary Bennet spy series continues with the novels The True Confessions of a London Spy and The Lady’s Guide to Death and Deception. Katherine loves history, chocolate, traveling, and playing the piano, and she has taught writing classes at Western Michigan University. She lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan with her husband and three daughters.



  1. Thanks for the interview. This sounds like it would be a good book.

  2. I am interested. Going to look up the first book and see if its at the library or if not see if this one is available on audio to me. I love alternative stories for the lesser characters in Jane Austen. They are fun.

  3. I can't wait to get to this one, but I still need to read/listen to book two. :)

    1. I'm thinking of listening to book 2 chirp has it on sale

  4. Wonderful interview! It is always interesting to me how the author has so little say over the audiobook.

    1. thanks and yes usually but some authors do, mostly indie authors