Trained as a medium by the elite Morpheus Society, Elinor Chalamet uses her skills to aid the police while she hunts for her father’s killer in the coastal city of Alenbonné.
A six part gaslamp fantasy ghost mystery series featuring a strong female character in a slow burn romance. These novellas are friendly to 18+ readers.
AUTHOR Q&A for MADAME CHALAMET GHOST MYSTERIES
What is the genre for this fantasy series?
The Madame Chalamet Ghost Mystery series best fits the genre of Gaslamp fantasy. It combines the historical elements found in the late Victorian and Edwardian (or the Belle Epoque era) time period in a fantasy world, and includes elements of a slow burn romance. It leans more toward the Gothic, where ghosts and the supernatural are a major part of the world.
How it differs from Steampunk is that the plot doesn’t use science and so doesn’t feature elements commonly found in those stories such as advancements in weaponry, transportation, travel, or scientific inquiry.
So there is a romance in this Gaslamp fantasy series?
Yes there is! But it is a slow-burn one that goes through the six novellas. Each novella will advance the relationship between Elinor and Archambeau. While I think it’s very romantic, Elinor also has to deal with the real consequences of having a relationship with someone higher on the social ladder and in a society that doesn’t approve of relationships without marriage.
The romance itself should be okay for readers of 18+, maybe younger depending on maturity.
What inspired you to write this series?
I’ve long held an interest in ghosts, ghost hunting, and have been intrigued by the Victorian obsession about death as well as spiritualism. Many famous people, including Arthur Conan Doyle, at the time were interested in trying to measure the supernatural under the same criteria as sciences of the day. Their logic was if we could understand the human body and how it worked, why couldn’t we examine ghosts?
Where do the stories take place?
To have more freedom to create, and to use a female heroine unrestricted from the real 1890 world, the setting is in a fictional world that is more of a combination of 1890-1900 France/Italy/Holland. I felt that the London and England landscape is over-used and wanted something more unique to play with.
Alenbonné is a harbor city, using a system of canals to manage the low land from flooding. It is in the country of Sarnesse, one of three featured in the series (the other two being Perino and Zulskaya).
Being a series about ghosts, is this a spooky series?
While mediumship and ghosts are featured throughout the stories, I wouldn’t call this a spooky series. The stories examine death, grief, and the complicated manner in which people deal with loss. On the other hand, while I’ve written that, the stories aren’t sad or depressing.
Overall, I wanted the series to be entertaining, examine life and death among a wide range of characters, and highlight an interesting heroine.
Tell us about Elinor Chalamet.
She’s the MC throughout the series. As a woman in her late twenties she is using her career as a Ghost Talker to discover information about her father’s murder (an event that happened in her late teens).
She’s been a joy to write as she is forthright, but also compassionate. Elinor is very confident and her curiosity sometimes gets her into trouble. In society, she’s of the rising middle class, a self-made woman, daughter of a jeweler, who manages her own career and wealth. She has immense common sense and is willing to help anyone in need, regardless if they are a nice person.
When she and Archambeau get involved the differences in their status presents a real problem.
So Archambeau is the romantic interest? What type of character is he?
Tristan Fontaine, Mysir de Archambeau (title address) or Duke de Chambaux (province address), is a damaged man. A widower, his wife has died under mysterious circumstances. He works for King Trygve Guénard, the monarch of Sarnesse.
Of the two characters, his arc from beginning to end will be the most complicated. While Elinor may think she has the most to lose, it is Tristan who will give up everything to be with her. Including his pride.
How does this series fit in with what other books you’ve written in terms of style?
While it does deal with supernatural elements you may find in A Spell of Rowans, Rowans is a much darker story about betrayal, and a wounded past. Rowans is also my most adult-themed book to date.
Madame Chalamet is more romantic then the College Fae series but is not geared towards the YA coming-of-age. However, elements of my style in writing about the supernatural can be seen between those books and this series.
In some ways, the Fantasy of Manners fairytales are the closest fit as Madame Chalamet has to maneuver through society expectations of what she is as a woman and what others think she should do (or not do). However, there will be more physical intimacy between Elinor and Archambeau then is found in those fade-to-black romances.
I’m excited to share this novella series with you and I hope you enjoy this combination of Mysteries with Manners.
Ghost Talker #1
Elinor Chalamet’s talent to speak with the dead may have landed her in the soup.
Witty and clever, Elinor uses her mediumship skills to hunt for her father’s killer. So when a body in the canal brings her to the morgue, she’s happy to help until Tristan Fontaine, the Duke de Archambeau, takes over the case and places her under house arrest.
Between possessions and poltergeists, she’ll solve the case even if it means putting the duke in his place. Actually, that part of the investigation may be a pleasure!
Welcome to Alenbonné, a coastal city with picturesque promenades along the canals and where the ghosts never sleep. A country where spirits and murder are just a breath away.
CLICK TO READ A SAMPLE
Down the hall were angry voices, and entering the surgery, I gave Inspector Barbier standing at the doorway a nod of acknowledgment.
“Thanks for coming, Elinor. Welcome to the circus.”
Unlike his sergeant, he wore every-day clothes for the working man: a brown tweed coat, with matching trousers and a waistcoat with black buttons. Barbier’s long dour face was that of a mournful hound disappointed with his life: large brown eyes, flat hollow cheeks, and a long black mustache that brushed the corners of his mouth. With his chin tucked to his chest, he was slowly stroking the ends, a sign of deep concentration.
It was the surgeon, Doctor LaRue, who was arguing. She was at least twenty years older than my almost-thirty, rail thin, like a vine bean, with an oval face and a nose that would shame the beak of a water bird.
She wore dark blue trousers and a black vest, a daring choice for a woman. Her rolled-up shirtsleeves exposed strong sinewy forearms that were still red, evidence she had scrubbed them with the harsh bar soap used in the morgue, but her apron was still white, proving she hadn’t started the autopsy yet.
The doctor was a very skilled butcher of men, but not so excellent as a bedside healer; she was a blunt speaker and without a grain of sentimentality. I found her a good friend.
The only other occupant of the room was a woman I knew little about but recognized: Madame Nyght. She was a flashy bird among us plain crows, dressed in a bold black-and-white striped satin, with the smallest waist the best corset could make, and a stylish hat that dripped with jet fringe.
You might mistake Nyght for a rich man’s mistress. In truth, she was a huckster, a fraud who amused the rich. I wish I had her clientèle.
“I don’t care who told you to be here. This is my surgery and I am in charge here,” snapped Dr. LaRue.
“Do you think I wish to be here looking at your dead meat? Taken from my home and escorted here by a gendarme?” Seeing her wild gestures puncturing the air made me believe the rumor that she had once worked on the stage before becoming a Ghost Talker.
Madame Nyght pointed at me. “First you ask for my help, then you insult me by bringing this donkey here?”
“As I’ve been saying, I don’t want you here,” replied Dr. LaRue tersely.
“Is she calling me a donkey?” I asked, turning to Inspector Barbier.
“Don’t feel insulted. She called me a mule, and Dr. LaRue, a goat.”
“A fixation on barnyard animals, perhaps?”
“You’d have to take that up with a mind-doctor. I only catch them, not explain them.”
Madame Nyght made a dismissive hiss and waved her hand at us all. “Do I crawl into the gutters and look for dead bodies? No. I am Madame Nyght. I am genteel and talk with spirits in the drawing rooms of the best society.”
Behind me, a voice with the harshness of a northern accent said, “And tonight we will be grateful for whatever your talents can reveal to us about this mystery.”
The Duke de Archambeau had arrived.
Delicious Death #2
Thwarting an assassination wasn’t on the menu.
Elinor’s holiday is ruined when a poisoner targets a royal guest. What’s even more irritating? The duke thinks he can solve the case before she can.
In the southern town of Vouvant, Elinor’s goal was to eat rich food at the Winter Revels, but an attempt on the king’s life implicates her favorite chef. Between saving a young society lady and solving the problem of a widower who grieves too much, she has her hands full.
CLICK TO READ A SAMPLE
Surprised at seeing him, I forgot how to apply the brakes. There was a flash of a white face and startled eyes before Lady Valentina opted for the safety of the grass. Meanwhile, the duke took the collision of my bicycle with his back. Since boulders do not bounce, I sadly lost the day.
“Madame Chalamet, may I assist you?” The duke’s voice was politely detached, as if he was asking a poor relation to partner him at a dance held at an inferior establishment.
As I gripped the duke’s hand to stand up, I heard a ripping sound. The chain held my skirt! So much for the safety guard; the manufacturer would get a strongly worded letter and a bill for damages tomorrow.
“Stop moving. You’re making it worse,” commanded the duke. He bent down to untangle the hem of my skirt. “You’re free now, but I fear your machine isn’t in good shape.”
Sadly, I looked down to find the front wheel crooked and bent. How would I get it back to the Crown?
“Tristan!” said Lady Valentina, who was being helped to her feet by a passing stranger.
He ignored her, asking me, “Are you hurt? That was quite a tumble.”
“No, I’m fine.”
This meeting threw me into confusion and I felt myself blushing. The last time we had seen each other was two months ago after solving the mystery of the king’s tiara, and this wasn’t the meeting I had fabricated in my mind. It was supposed to take place with me wearing an elegant evening dress and greeting him with a smooth laugh. Instead I looked an absolute fright, with grass and grease stains on my skirt and my hair trailing down my back.
As usual, he was impeccable in his turnout. Walking coat, frock coat, trousers, and vest, all tailored to perfection. His snow-white cravat was tied in the square knot style known as The Intellectual.
Lady Valentina came to his side and possessively put her arm within his own. “Since Madame Chalamet says she is fine, can we continue our way through the park? Or does she want to knock us down again?”
Archambeau absentmindedly patted her arm before dropping it.
“I think I must help a lady in distress, Valentina. I doubt she can get this thing home in the condition it is now.” Stepping to the curb, he hailed a passing quick-cab. As it pulled up, the duke asked me, “Are you still at the Crown Hotel, Madame Chalamet?”
“Yes. Yes, I am.”
One royal coin, joined with a few others, exchanged hands. “Would you take Madame Chalamet’s damaged vehicle to the Crown Hotel?”
“Eh?” said the man. Archambeau pointed to the Lady’s Safety Edition bicycle, now sadly crumpled, and, at the emergence of more coins, he speedily complied. In a moment, the two men had the bicycle on the back of the quick-cab.
I moved to leave with it, but the duke stopped me.
“Even a brave Ghost Talker must feel rattled after taking such a tumble. Come and sit with us before you return home. You can entertain us with tales about your latest haunts.”
Perhaps I would have said no, but the anger on Lady Valentina’s face at her brother’s words made me agree. Taking my arm with one of his own, and using the other for his sister, we left the park, crossing the road to the other side, where cafés bordered the canal.
He stopped at one and found us a table. Within seconds of us being seated, a waiter promptly appeared. Perhaps he recognized the duke, or maybe it was the expensive tailoring which gained us such exceptional service. Regardless of the reason, our table soon boasted hot tea and coffee.
“Put some sugar in that, Chalamet,” the duke ordered, and before I could comply, he dropped a cube into my cup and gave it a swirl with one of his own spoons. Normally I would have protested Archambeau’s high-handedness, but with a hot drink in front of me, I realized that sitting down felt good. The accident had shaken me more than I’d realized.
Some thin lemon biscuits appeared, as well as toasted bread points and a soft creamy cheese flavored with fresh herbs. It all was delicious, but this spread of hospitality did not appease Lady Valentina. She refused to sit down, even as more plates, knives, cups, and food continued to appear.
“I shall make my way home alone, then,” she said loftily.
Scraping a generous portion of cheese across a piece of toasted bread, the duke replied calmly, “That would probably be best. I shall see to Madame Chalamet.”
“I will let Mother know what delayed you.”
“Do whatever you think best, Valentina.”
The woman left, her back as flat as a brick, and I couldn’t stop myself from saying when she was out of earshot, “I hope I didn’t make your quarrel worse with my appearance.”
“I see your powers of observation remain as keen as ever, Chalamet, though perhaps not powerful enough to avoid hitting people walking a public footpath.”
I bit my lip, unsure whether he was teasing or chastising me. He had not reached out to me since the Giles Monet affair, and naturally, I had not inquired about him. An unattached lady did not correspond with a man unless it was her brother, so I had found news of him only in the papers. That was only the mention of parties he had attended. Nothing substantial or interesting.
Spirit Guide #3
Young ladies are disappearing.
When a nobleman’s daughter goes missing, Elinor’s investigation discovers dangerous secrets others want buried.
Brought into the case by the duke de Archambeau, Elinor must confront her past with the Morpheus Society who trained her as a medium.
Answers can only be found in the Beyond, a place where ghosts walk and where mediums who overstay their welcome are driven insane.
Available now for preorder, releases Feb 21, 2023
CLICK TO READ A SAMPLE
From the recesses of the carriage, Mysir de Archambeau said, “I see Anne-Marie was correct about where we might find you.”
I gave a start of surprise, for I had not seen the duke de Archambeau since the Winter Revels. That surprise was followed by irritation; the man had a habit of disappearing and popping up like a rabbit in a conjuring act. It seemed we had entered the duke’s own coach, but the one without his coat of arms, and thus anonymous. Next to him sat a man I did not know.
“Your Grace, whatever are you doing here?” I asked, settling in the seat next to Twyla, opposite the two men.
He rapped the hilt of his cane on the roof, and the carriage started off. “Baron Losendahl, meet Madame Elinor Chalamet, Ghost Talker. The girl with the mouth hanging open is her apprentice, Mys Twyla Andricksson.”
“Pleased to make your acquaintance,” said the blond giant gruffly.
With his eyes gleaming, the duke said, “Why don’t you tell us why we are here? Why we have sought you out, Madame Chalamet?”
Analytically, I examined Baron Losendahl. From his appearance, I discerned several things. He was a newcomer to the city and was native to Zulskaya, that mountainous, snowy country to the northeast of my own Sarnesse. The baron was as broad as a barn, his shoulders a thick beam, his head and neck making one solid bullet shape. His nose had been broken once in the past, and he wore thick mutton chops.
“Did you leave your mountains to come to consult me? No. That alone would not entice a man of your station and wealth. You would have sent for me to come to you. That’s what the rich do. It is another who brings you here to our fair city. A wife? No, daughter— yes, a daughter who is in trouble in Alenbonné, and you requested your old friend, the Duke de Archambeau, to recommend someone to help you in this sensitive matter.”
“Madame! How do you know this?” said the baron in astonishment.
The duke leaned back, smiling, as I explained.
“Your accent tells me you are from Zulskaya, though your cravat pin has the emblem of a well-known Alenbonné sporting club for aristos who enjoy boxing and fencing. I have seen such an insignia at the duke’s private residence, a cup engraved with a win of over twelve years ago. Hence the long friendship. Also indicative that you are not the type of man who would entrust your secrets to just any casual acquaintance.
“It is a sport you continue to enjoy, for the skin of your knuckles is reddened from bare-knuckle fighting, probably as recent as last night. But your face remains unbruised, so it was a match and not a street fight. Probably an exercise to work out some great frustration.”
The baron looked at Archambeau, who only remained silent in his corner. He turned back to me and confided, “You are correct, madame. But what about my recent arrival? How did you come by that?”
“You took off your hat during our introductions. That showed not only manners but also the inside of the band, which has the name of the maker— a decent shop for men’s general attire located in Needle Street, but not the best. It specializes in the ready-made, so this was bought when you arrived here. It is too small for your head, as I can tell by the mark across your forehead. A head your size would need a custom-made chapeau.”
Archambeau’s smile had become a smirk as I continued.
“Meanwhile, your tailored and expensive coat is made of kalukoo wool, which is native to the mountains of Zulskaya. It is not often seen in Sarnesse because of the high import tax, yet the garment fits your shoulders like a glove. The wear marks at the cuff and lapels show you have owned it for at least two seasons.”
“No! I do not believe this. Someone has told you about my daughter and her plight. How else would you know?”
“If it were a matter of government, the duke would not need me. If it was a public matter, you would consult Inspector Marcellus Barbier, who is a very fine gendarme detective known to the duke. No, His Grace brings you here instead of waiting for me to return to the Crown, as it is an urgent matter or one that requires discretion. Hence a family matter.”
“That’s cracking!” cried my protégé, clasping her hands together in excitement. “Why don’t you teach me how to do that?”
“Because it requires you to use logic and deductive reasoning, Twyla. Something you seem to lack!”
The baron tried to find a flaw in my logic. “My quest could have been for a son, not a daughter.”
“It could have been. But a son you would wait to return, tail between his legs, begging for forgiveness after a debauchery. A daughter? She requires immediate rescue.”
“I told you she was good,” murmured the duke from his corner, giving me a little clap of appreciation with hands in dove-gray gloves. “Now, will you take the case?”
“Even if it is against your own kind?” growled the baron.
“I help all. Without prejudice,” I replied calmly to his outburst.
Glancing sideways at my apprentice, the duke expounded upon the baron’s remark. “It involves the Morpheus Society.”
“Well, of course I’m still a member in good standing, but I have served my years as a journeyman and my time is now my own.”
“But what of your loyalty?” demanded the baron.
“My loyalty is to my client, as long as you are not asking me to do anything illegal or unethical. Now, Mys Andricksson is an apprentice, and she is still bound closely to the Society’s rules. Let us not speak of this further until we return her to her accommodations.”
“Elinor!” cried Twyla. “But I want to know.”
“And children want to know what they will get for their birthday present, my girl. That doesn’t mean their parents relent.” I had already been embarrassed by Twyla in front of a washerwoman; I didn’t wish to repeat another gaffe in front of nobility, and certainly not in front of Archambeau who would probably never let me live it down.
“Where do we take the girl?”
After I’d told the duke her address, he called up to his driver, and as we changed direction, my apprentice crossed her arms, fuming.
Ignoring her, I asked Archambeau, “How is your mother, and Lady Fontaine? Doing well, I hope.”
The duke gave his small smile. “Valentina and Mother are off to the south beaches. It’s watercolor season.”
“By chance, did Lady Baudelaire go with them?”
At the mention of the woman who had commanded a Ghost Hunt in his house at the first dinner party I had attended there, the duke’s eyes grew sardonic.
“She did. She and her husband like to play the casinos, which open on the first day of spring. So my house is my own for a few weeks. We saw Jacques Moreau hail you a cab, but told the driver we would give you a ride instead.”
“Yes, I invited him to the séance. Did Anne-Marie not tell you?”
“No, she did not. Only the address and that you were working.”
The carriage stopped and, without further ado, I bade Twyla goodnight. “When I see you tomorrow, I want you to be able to do the dismiss sequence for a spirit backward and forward. And no reading up on demons, young lady.”
With the dark glance that all mothers of teenagers know so well, the girl left the carriage, the hard corner of her valise hitting my knee. It was probably on purpose, but with Twyla’s awkwardness it could have been simply an accident. Hard to tell.
As the coach rolled away, putting distance between us and my pouting protégé, I bent forward and, rubbing my hands with excitement, asked, “Now what trouble has your daughter got herself into, Baron Losendahl?”
Gray Lady #4
When the ghostly Gray Lady walks, someone dies. Can Elinor stop destiny?
The young Coralie Floquet desires to marry but the spectral appearance of a Gray Lady portends that her end might be soon. Called in to help by Tristan Fontain, the Duke de Archambeau, Elinor plans to chase spirits and rumors at a country estate in a seaside town.
But as soon as she arrives, ill-will seems to swirl around her, along with tittle-tattle about her relationship with Tristan that has gossips talking. Though Elinor doesn’t care much about stolen government documents, her heart might be lost when the duke finally reveals the truth about his past.
Available now for preorder, releases April 24, 2023
CLICK TO READ A SAMPLE
The footman, Ruben greeted me with a grin, quickly suppressed.
“I believe His Grace is expecting me?”
“He certainly is,” he said. Stepping back he ushered me inside and while I stripped off my gloves, I asked in a low tone. “He’s not with his lady mother is he?”
“No, Madame Chalamet. Only Lady Valentina is in town at this time.”
I got the sense we were both relieved.
Ruben took me to the room where I had once been lectured by the duchesse and, opening the door, announced me to its occupants.
I deliberately avoided looking first at Tristan, so noticed Lady Valentina was dressed in a manner that outshone my simpler walking dress. She wore something I’m sure Anne-Marie would have declared the latest fashion. The material of her dress was a pattern of alternating stripes of two shades of blue with white edgings of lace at her throat and cuff. The skirt had bows made from dark blue satin ribbons, and the same was at her short sleeves and at her neckline. She might look at bit overdressed for an afternoon tea but it was an expensive outfit and, I reluctantly had to admit, one that she wore well.
Sitting across from her was an older woman and a young girl, both unknown to me. With the similarity of facial features, I took them to be relatives. The older had brown hair starting to fade, dark brown eyes, and a mouth that had lost its youth to sourness. Her burgundy outfit was of good material but rather a dark color for a summer outfit. The matronly style seemed to say she disdained youth’s frivolities.
The young girl seemed to be barely out of the schoolroom. She wore a dress in off-white, appropriate for her years, although the color washed out her naturally pale complexion and her white-blond hair. Her round face, small lips, a mouth with a slight overbite, and a weak chin gave her a child-like impression that in her mother’s face looked overipe.
The duke stood and did the introductions.
“Madame Rochelle Floquet and her daughter, Coralie, this is Madame Elinor Chalamet.”
Madame Floquet’s handshake was polite enough, but it was a bare touching of fingertips, quickly dropped while her daughter’s was a bit more intense.
Tristan indicated a seat for me to take that was the most comfortable in the room. Through my lashes, I saw he was wearing city dress, with an impeccably tailored morning suit of a blue with a black pinstripe line. His cravat was blindingly white and styled with its usual knot, the Intellectual. His shoes were highly polished and his hands were devoid of rings. I wondered if he still smelled of basil and orange? But now was not the time to lean over and take a deep sniff.
“Tea, Madame Chalamet?” asked his sister. I agreed and told her lemon only.
The mood in the room was strange, almost as if I had walked into a conversation stopped upon my entrance, so I waited patiently for enlightenment. Surely there was to be a new case, for I did not see Tristan inviting me to his house filled with strangers for just a social call. Besides, the girl was in a high state of excitement and the older woman was holding down some intense emotion that I guessed to be anger.
You could always trust Tristan to get quickly to the point. It was one of the things we had in common. “Madame Floquet’s daughter is engaged to be married.”
Surely the girl was too young! I squelched my surprise.
“Best wishes,” I said, taking the delicate cup that Lady Valentina passed to me.
The girl glanced towards her mother as if anticipating the woman would say something at my words, but the woman only pursed her lips tighter. Stirring her own tea gently, Lady Valentina said archly, “It’s a love match to Sir Corbin Montaine.”
This caused Madame Floquet to finally speak. “Love match, indeed! A love for her money!”
“Maman!” protested her daughter. Her voice was high, and it reaffirmed to me her youthfulness. Was the girl even sixteen!?
“There is no need to ‘oh, maman’ me. Sir Corbin may whisper sweet words in your ear, but I know why his parents have accepted the match and it is not because of your pretty face.”
Lady Valentina responded in a voice that was decidedly lofty, as if she had taken Madame Floquet’s words as a personal insult. “The Montaine family is one of the original three-hundred, whose founding lines trace directly to His Majesty’s family. It would be quite a coup for your merchant family to be linked to one of such noble blood.”
I murmured into my teacup, “If only we had Count Westergaard to give us the full genealogical background.”
“Unfortunately, he’s still at the madhouse,” replied Tristan before biting into a piece of buttered bread.
“Perhaps you met him there recently? I hear you are quite familiar with the place,” said Lady Valentina waspishly.
Pausing reflectively to examine the muffin I held, I replied, “Don’t we all have a passing knowledge of madness?”
Untimely Grave #5
Someone has learned how to re-animate the dead. The problem is how to kill them (again)? Trapped, Elinor and Archambeau might have to discuss their feelings before they save the country.
Releases June 23, 2023
Ghastly Mistake #6
Betrayed, Elinor must try to save the king, while not worrying about the danger the infuriating man she loves faces.
Releases August 23, 2023
Enjoy the Ghost Mystery Spotify Playlist (all instrumental selections) to enhance your reading enjoyment.