The Secret of Dunhaven Castle
Cate Kensie Mysteries Book 1 by Nellie H. Steele Genre: Cozy Mystery
How in the world could she now own a castle?
Shy, introverted Dr. Cate Kensie never imagined that she would inherit a beautiful, and oddly quirky, castle nestled in the picturesque Scottish Highlands. Truthfully, she was sure that she didn’t have any family left after her parents died in a car accident several years before, but then she had gotten the phone call, and her entire world had turned upside down.
That was when she discovered that she had family in Scotland, and her distant family member, Gertrude MacKenzie, had passed away, leaving her Dunhaven Castle and a golden timepiece with the mysterious phone call: ALWAYS KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR TIME.
Soon after she leaves the only life she’s ever known in the US with her four-legged best friend, the adorable Riley, she quickly finds that owning this castle is not the fairytale she expected. Mysterious events occur that leave Cate wondering if her new home is haunted or if she’s losing her mind.
Will Cate be able to unravel the mysteries of Dunhaven Castle before it’s too late? Or will the secrets be too much for Cate to handle?
Find out if Cate can uncover the secrets her new home holds in The Secret of Dunhaven Castle!
Leaving the town behind, they drove on towards the castle. Cate could see it clearly, sitting stoically in the distance. It grew larger and larger as they approached. Cate also saw the rolling lawns with their perfect landscaping surrounding the castle.
As they pulled in the drive, Cate couldn’t believe this was her life. Mr. Smythe drove on toward the house as Cate gaped from the backseat. Riley, sensing Cate’s excitement, was darting from window to window to peer out, wagging his tail and eyeing Cate as if to confirm that his reaction was appropriate.
As they approached the castle, Cate could see a few people standing near the front entrance. “Ah, good,” Mr. Smythe said, eyeing them, “I asked the staff to meet us, they’ve timed it well.”
“Probably got the warning call from the village,” Gayle joked.
“Staff?” Cate mumbled to herself, her brow furrowing.
She said it a bit too loudly as Mr. Smythe overheard her and replied, “Yes, Charlie and Emily Fraser. Mr. Fraser oversees most of the handiwork, landscaping and the external landscaping company, Mrs. Fraser provides light cooking and house cleaning. A hired company does most of the other house cleaning. Finally, Jack Reid, the estate manager, a new addition who will also take over most of the handiwork and landscaping from Mr. Fraser soon. Lady MacKenzie hired him just before passing away.”
Cate was impressed. She hadn’t given much thought to the upkeep of the castle, it was good to know someone else had.
Mr. Smythe interrupted her thoughts. “Can I assume that you will keep the staff on?” he questioned.
“Ah, yes assuming they would like to stay on.”
“I think they very much would, Cate,” Gayle answered. “I think they may have been on edge that the new owner would do a clean sweep and bring in her own people. They will be relieved to find out that you are keeping them on.”
“Oh, yes, no, I mean to say, I’d never do that to anyone!”
As the conversation came to a close, Mr. Smythe eased the car parallel to the front entrance. The youngest of the three staff, Jack, approached the car to open doors and begin unloading luggage. Cate scooped Riley into her arms and stepped out of the car. Kissing him on the top of his head, she looked up at the castle and said, “We’re home, Riley, we’re home.”
Murder at Dunhaven Castle Cate Kensie Mysteries Book 2
If you could go back in time and clear your family’s name, would you?
Dr. Cate Kensie, now known as Lady Catherine Kensie, the mistress of Dunhaven Castle, still can’t believe her life. Somehow, moved to Scotland, inherited a castle that’s more than meets the eye, and is the proud--and sometimes reluctant-- owner of an amazing family heirloom. But there’s a secret Cate must protect about her new life, a secret that no one but Jack Reid, the estate manager, knows of.
As Cate learns more about her new home, she discovers that in 1856 there was a murder at Dunhaven and non-other than her own ancestor, Randolph MacKenzie, was accused and convicted of the crime. However, the more she learns about the murder at Dunhaven, the more confusing things become. All of the evidence is there, but the answers still don’t add up.
Will Cate have the courage to dive into a centuries-old murder to clear her family’s name? Or will she find out the hard way that sometimes it’s best to leave the past in the past where it can’t hurt you?
Find out in the nail-biting second installment of the Cate Kensie Mysteries series, Murder at Dunhaven Castle!
Cate skirted the boxes, kneeling on the floor in front of the wardrobe. She peered underneath, not seeing much. The room’s light was not bright enough to pierce the darkness under the wardrobe. She cursed herself for not bringing her cell phone. She considered retrieving it, then decided she would make do without it. Steeling her nerves, she closed her eyes and reached a hand underneath, blindly feeling around.
After a moment, she pulled her hand back, too nervous to continue. Her mind ran through various scenarios in which her hand found something she’d rather it didn’t. She would return in the morning with a flashlight. Dusting off her hands, she placed them on her thighs to stand. A moment of impulsivity struck her, and she reached under the wardrobe one last time before leaving.
Her hand struck something. She instinctively pulled her hand back, afraid of what she might have touched. She pressed herself against the floor, squinting into the shadows but to no avail.
She stretched her arm under again, feeling for the object. Her hand found it again. She touched the object in several places. It was cold and felt metallic. She grasped it and pulled. It was wedged against the back leg. She tugged with all her strength. After some work, the object moved. She grabbed hold of it and pulled it out from under the wardrobe.
Cate stared at the unearthed object. A thick layer of dust obscured every surface of the object. Cate blew on it, sending a cloud of dust billowing into the surrounding air. After a few sneezes, she wiped more dust away and beheld the object she had recovered.
It was a brass globe atop a rectangular stand, she surmised it was a paperweight. It was heavy. Cate studied the object, turning it over in her hands. She turned the object over, exposing the bottom. The object nearly slipped from her hands as she viewed the bottom. A thick smear of rust-colored material covered the bottom. Cate’s heart skipped a beat. Was she holding the murder weapon from a centuries old murder in her hands?
Holiday Heist at Dunhaven Castle
Cate Kensie Mysteries Book 3
Cate knew she had seen those jewels before.
As her eyes scanned the newspaper article from 1925, she is shocked to read about the theft of two priceless necklaces from her family’s home. When Cate recognizes one of the stolen necklaces from when she traveled back in time to the year 1856 to solve a murder mystery, Cate knows there’s only one thing left for her to do. Despite the hectic holiday season approaching, complete with two grand holiday events, Cate must travel to 1925 and unravel the mystery surrounding the jewelry theft.
However, things take an unexpected turn when she arrives. As Cate discovers more unanswered questions, she starts to wonder if there’s a piece to the puzzle she has yet to uncover.
While Cate and estate manager, Jack, try to unravel the puzzle in the past, another mystery brews in the present for Cate. Strange and eerie nightmares centered around a bookcase in Dunhaven Castle’s library disrupt Cate’s sleep, rattling her mind even during her waking hours. She wonders if these are connected to the jewelry theft or if something darker lurks in Dunhaven’s halls.
Can Cate solve the mysterious theft of her family’s jewelry? Will the bookcase hold the secrets to the past? If it does, will Cate be able to decipher the clues on its shelves? Or is there something more sinister at work in Dunhaven Castle?
Find out if Cate has what it takes to solve the newest mysteries at Dunhaven Castle in Holiday Heist at Dunhaven Castle, book three of the riveting cozy mystery series Cate Kensie Mysteries.
“Good morning,” she said as he crawled from under one of the trees.
“Good morning, Lady Cate. Would you mind doing me a great favor, lassie?”
“Not at all,” Cate answered. “What do you need?”
“Tell me, does this tree grouping look acceptable? I don’t want any mistakes before the party czar shows up tomorrow.”
Cate giggled at his new name for Mrs. Campbell. She stepped back to inspect the tree placement from all angles. “It looks acceptable to me,” she answered.
Jack climbed from the floor. “No doubt, she’ll still find something wrong about it,” he lamented.
Cate chuckled. “Now that you’ve got your tree placement worked out, could I have a moment of your time?”
“Sure, lassie, what is it?” Jack questioned.
Cate held up a folder. Before she could speak, Jack said, “Oh, no. No, no. If this is about that bloody snow machine the party czar wants, the answer is no. I will not have a snow machine dragged onto these grounds…” he began.
Cate shook her head, waving her hands in the air to stop him. “No, no, it’s not. Although you may prefer it was,” she admitted.
“Oh, no. Worse than the snow machine?”
Cate crinkled her nose. “Not to me but…”
“The only thing worse than dragging a snow machine through the gardens of Dunhaven Castle is time travel.”
“You’re such a stick in the mud,” Cate complained. “Just take a peek at these articles.”
He waved his hands at her, dismissing her comment, but accepted the folder. He flipped it open, glancing through the articles. He snapped it shut, handing it back to her. She raised an eyebrow at him. “Well?” she asked.
“Well, it appears due to a very unfortunate turn of events, some of your inheritance was stolen, Lady Cate. I dare say you’ll do all right without it. I’ve seen the estate’s financials. You should be able to get by.” He winked at her.
She rolled her eyes at him, sighing. “You know very well my interest in this has little to do with recovering my lost inheritance.”
“Yes, yes,” Jack replied. “Righting wrongs and experiencing the past by living in it and all that, I know.”
“Oh, come on, you had to have noticed the interesting bit about the missing items at least.”
Jack raised his eyebrows at her. “Interesting bit?”
“Yes, they describe the missing pieces of jewelry in the first article. And the third article has a picture of the items. Notice anything?” Cate asked, calling his attention to both articles.
“They’re very pretty, Lady Cate.”
“No, not that. Look closer!” Cate shoved the picture to his face.
“I’m still not getting it,” Jack said, staring at it.
Cate frowned at him. “Jack, that’s the necklace I wore to the Halloween Ball Randolph and Victoria held when we investigated the murder!”
“Ohhhhh,” Jack responded. “Oh, yes, I remember it. It was quite a necklace.”
Cate nodded. “Yes, it was. I recognized it right away when I saw it. It was Victoria’s. It appears the other stolen piece was also hers. It’s the necklace she wore that night.”
“Whoever stole those made off with a fortune,” Jack admitted.
“Yes, and it would have broken Victoria’s heart to realize someone stole her jewelry,” Cate answered.
“Yes, it would have,” Jack agreed. “It’s a terrible shame.”
“You know this year is one of the ones we can travel to. Well, the year when they discovered the jewelry was missing. It appears to have been stolen on New Year’s Day. While everyone was sleeping after ringing in the New Year, someone else was busy helping themselves to the family jewels. I wonder…”
“Nay, Lady Cate,” Jack interrupted her. “I don’t like when you wonder. Your wondering gets us in trouble most times.”
Cate shook her head at him. “That’s not true.”
“It is! The last time you wondered, we went back to 1856, we became embroiled in a murder investigation, we were almost killed and…”
“And solved a murder and saved my ancestor’s life and reputation. Along with the life of a young woman!” Cate finished.
Jack scowled at her. “That’s not exactly where I was going with that.”
“But it’s true,” Cate added. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to solve another mystery? Stop a theft, help the family again?”
Nellie H. Steele lives in the South Hills of Pittsburgh with her family and her many fur-babies. When she isn't writing, she enjoys teaching Statistics at a local university or watching her dogs and cats play in the yard.
Nellie is the author of the Cate Kensie Mystery Series, a cozy mystery series following the adventures of Dr. Catherine Kensie, a history professor turned Scottish Countess, and her beloved dog, Riley, as they navigate their new lives in their quirky Scottish highlands castle, solving mysteries along the way! She is the creator of the Shadow Slayers series, a suspenseful series with a supernatural twist! Follow the Shadow Slayers through time as they fight to banish darkness from the world. Nellie also writes an adventure series, Maggie Edwards Adventures. Follow Maggie Edwards as she travels the world solving mysteries and finding unique treasures!
I have always wanted to write a book. In middle school, I toyed with the idea of writing as a career. I didn’t write my first book until my late thirties though! Life got in the way. In college, I bounced around majors, finally settling in Mathematics which were my favorite classes. I moved on to a master’s degree in Computational Mathematics and finally, a Ph.D. in Statistics after realizing I loved teaching (I taught my first class in graduate school and loved it!).
I took a position as a faculty member with a local college and after a decade of work there, I sat down and began my first book. It started as a birthday gift for my mom and a way to pass the time and settle my nerves while I waited for the results of a year-long promotion process. One creative writing certificate and 90k words later, I presented the gift to her. On her birthday, I hid the first draft of my first book and sent her on a scavenger hunt, collecting clues all over her house. When she found all the clues, they led her to a black binder with a puzzle on the front. The puzzle was a poem, informing her that I’d written my first novel and hoped she’d enjoy it!
After that, the stories kept flowing and I found that I enjoyed writing and wanted to continue!
A fun, quirky fact about me: I have twelve (yes, you read right, twelve) pets! Eight cats and four dogs, all rescues and some special needs. I can’t say no to a furry face! Our latest addition, Lily, is a four-year-old Yorkie who was a “mill mama” used only for breeding for the first four years of her life. She’d experienced no life outside of a cage and very little human interaction. In one short year, it’s amazing to see the change in her! She is very interactive with people now and curious about her world.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
My vivid imagination fantasizes about any and all of my novels becoming movies! I’d love to see the Cate Kensie series on the big or small screen (Hallmark Channel, I’m looking at you!)! I think that series would be visually stunning with the scenery in Scotland and the castle and its grounds. And the history aspect of the series makes it interesting!
And I can’t write the Shadow Slayers series without considering how epic this series might be in movie form! The rich cast of characters and the fast pace of the series would do well in a movie format.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I think Alexandra Daddario has a great look for Cate Kensie! I could imagine her playing Cate in a series of movies.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’ve got several exciting things on the way! In addition to Book 4 in the Cate Kensie series and Book 3 in the Shadow Slayers series (which really ramps up the suspense!), the new Maggie Edwards Adventure series is now available! Book 1, Cleopatra’s Tomb, is an exciting globe-trotting adventure. I’m also working on a fourth series in historical fiction. A new series with all new characters, the book was inspired by a book cover created for another series that didn’t get used. The cover did not fit the book it was proposed for, but I loved the cover so much, I created a character and story around it.
I’m really excited about the new series coming out! And, of course, I can’t wait for readers to continue reading the current series and keep learning about the characters they love!
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
FOR THE SECRET OF DUNHAVEN CASTLE: My favorite moment in the book is the moment Cate steps out of the car and looks up at the castle for the first time. She feels an overwhelming sense of home. The first thing she says to her dog, Riley, is that they are home. It’s a heartwarming moment and I love those first looks she takes at the castle!
FOR MURDER AT DUNHAVEN CASTLE: My favorite moment in this book is when Cate dances with Randolph. The enormity of the moment given her connection to Randolph along with the experience of life in another time period creates a wonderful mix of fun and excitement.
FOR HOLIDAY HEIST AT DUNHAVEN CASTLE: My favorite moment in this book is the ice-skating scene with Cate, Jack, Amelia and Lucas. There is something profound about being able to experience something so simple with your ancestors!
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
I am a pantser, not a plotter, so my characters can definitely hijack the story. I start out with a general sense of direction but as the characters come to life, they can alter the direction, sometimes even completely change the book and its outcome.
I have intended to remove characters from the story (through leaving town or killing them off) and had them stay long after I intended them to because they had their own ideas about how they fit into the book! As the character takes shape, they are often quite different from what I originally intended when I roughly planned them.
It makes for an interesting ride for me when writing!
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I can do either and it depends on the scene or how much thinking I need to do to move forward with the plot. In general, though, I usually write with noise. When I first started writing, I kept it a secret (my first novel was a surprise birthday present for my mom!). I got used to writing “on the sly” so no one knew what I was doing and therefore, could not ruin the surprise by letting the secret slip out. As a result, I got pretty used to writing with the TV on in the background or some other form of noise. I continue to write in the evenings quite a bit, so I usually have some old TV show playing in the background while I’m working.
Fun Facts about Books
The character, Catherine “Cate” Kensie, is named after my late grandmother, Catherine HuWalt.
Riley, Cate’s beloved dog, is a carbon copy of my own dog, Kylo. His buddy, Bailey, who joins Cate at the castle in Book 2, is written after Kylo’s brother, Finn! You can see an interview of me with “Riley” at our website: www.anovelideapublishing.com/authors
Shadows of the Past, while a fitting title for the book, contains the word Shadows as a tribute to my inspiration for the series, the television show, Dark Shadows. This supernatural soap had a big impact on my imagination for this series!
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