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Monday 6 September 2021

MONDAY MYSTERIES: M. C. Bunn and Where Your Treasure Is

my Coffee Pot Book Club Guest...
Where I start the week 
with a bit of a mystery

Mysteries, thrillers, crime novels, who-dun-its,
cosy mysteries
 ... real mysteries, historical mysteries...
it's all a mystery to me!

Love and the affairs of the heart - maybe the greatest mystery of all?

First, thank you so much for hosting me and my debut novel on your blog.
[Helen: my pleasure!] It’s set in the early to mid-1890s, the Sherlock Holmes era, which I adore, but there isn’t a mystery per se in Where Your Treasure Is, unless it’s the age-old mystery of the workings of the human heart. There are, however, several characters who have secrets on which the plot turns.

One of Treasure’s major characters is George Broughton-Caruthers. He’s not the heroine, Winifred de la Coeur’s primary love interest. That’s the story’s hero, Court Furor. Yet George is pivotal as Winifred’s long-time Norfolk neighbor and friend, and they share a deep mutual attraction to one another. They also share many memories of country life and her growing up years. Since his own youth, George has reveled in his reputation as the local bad boy. Everybody likes him; no one trusts him—especially with their daughters—and he thoroughly enjoys playing the scamp. 

When the story opens, however, both he and Winifred feel some pressure to take a step in their relationship that, heretofore, neither would have seriously considered and definitely not with each other. He’s not inclined to be tied down, but he’s feeling a severe pinch in his pocketbook. She can’t stand the men who court her for her money, but she’s smarting at the realization that she’s a spinster. They’re both a bit desperate about the future but try to hide it from one another by resorting to their habitual, prickly flirtation. Their friendship and sexual compatibility complicate matters. They see one another in a new light without seeing each other clearly.

Though Winifred correctly suspects the nature of some of George’s past follies, she is na├»ve about how they might affect the life of any woman who marries him. In one of George’s first scenes, he hesitates between a brothel and a block of flats. As he considers the building he might enter, he flips a coin, apparently leaving his next move to chance. He’s a man with a past whose secret he can’t leave behind, and others dog him throughout the story, forming the backdrop of one of its major subplots. 

Where Your Treasure Is does have a MacGuffin. As the book’s title implies, the plot abounds with precious things. It depends on the character what (or who) constitutes their treasure. For George, it seems to be Winifred’s fabulous Indian necklace. Even as he considers marrying her, he fixates on her jewels as a way to freedom. George being George, however, he can’t quite decide what he’ll do if he does get hold of the gems. It’s the way he feels about Winifred, though he can’t quite admit that either. It’s how he feels about a lot of issues and people in his life. He’s good at keeping secrets not only from others but from himself.

What happens to Winifred’s necklace, and ultimately to her and George, has everything to do with the story’s conclusion and helps illustrate what is perhaps one of life’s greatest mysteries—love. It certainly is a mystery to George. Pascal’s quote says it best: “The heart has its reasons, which reason can not know.”  
Where Your Treasure Is was reviewed on 
Discovering Diamonds on 3rd September: 

Feisty, independent heiress Winifred de la Coeur has never wanted to live according to someone else’s rules—but even she didn’t plan on falling in love with a bank robber.
Winifred is a wealthy, nontraditional beauty who bridles against the strict rules and conventions of Victorian London society. When she gets caught up in the chaos of a bungled bank robbery, she is thrust unwillingly into an encounter with Court Furor, a reluctant getaway driver and prizefighter.  In the bitter cold of a bleak London winter, sparks fly.
Winifred and Court are two misfits in their own circumscribed worlds—the fashionable beau monde with its rigorously upheld rules, and the gritty demimonde, where survival often means life-or-death choices.

Despite their conflicting backgrounds, they fall desperately in love while acknowledging the impossibility of remaining together. Returning to their own worlds, they try to make peace with their lives until a moment of unrestrained honesty and defiance threatens to topple the deceptions that they have carefully constructed to protect each other.

A story of the overlapping entanglements of Victorian London’s social classes, the strength of family bonds and true friendship, and the power of love to heal a broken spirit.
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About the Author
M. C. Bunn

M. C. Bunn grew up in a house full of books, history, and music. “Daddy was a master storyteller. The past was another world, but one that seemed familiar because of him. He read aloud at the table, classics or whatever historical subject interested him. His idea of bedtime stories were passages from Dickens, Twain, and Stevenson. Mama told me I could write whatever I wanted. She put a dictionary in my hands and let me use her typewriter, or watch I, Claudius and Shoulder to Shoulder when they first aired on Masterpiece Theatre. She was the realist. He was the romantic. They were a great team.”

Where Your Treasure Is, a novel set in late-Victorian London and Norfolk, came together after the sudden death of the author’s father. “I’d been teaching high school English for over a decade and had spent the summer cleaning my parents’ house and their offices. It was August, time for classes to begin. The characters emerged out of nowhere, sort of like they knew I needed them. They took over.” 

She had worked on a novella as part of her master’s degree in English years before but set it aside, along with many other stories. “I was also writing songs for the band I’m in and had done a libretto for a sacred piece. All of that was completely different from Where Your Treasure Is. Before her health declined, my mother heard Treasure’s first draft and encouraged me to return to prose. The novel is a nod to all the wonderful books my father read to us, the old movies we stayed up to watch, a thank you to my parents, especially Mama for reminding me that nothing is wasted. Dreams don’t have to die. Neither does love.”  
When M. C. Bunn is not writing, she’s researching or reading. Her idea of a well-appointed room includes multiple bookshelves, a full pot of coffee, and a place to lie down with a big, old book. To further feed her soul, she and her husband take long walks with their dog, Emeril in North Carolina’s woods, or she makes music with friends. 

“I try to remember to look up at the sky and take some time each day to be thankful.” 

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Twitter Handle: @MCBunn3 @maryanneyarde
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Helen's Latest Releases

A new edition with new additional scenes

When the only choice is to run, where do you run to?
When the only sound is the song of the sea, do you listen?
Or do you drown in the embrace of a mermaid?
Throughout childhood, Jesamiah Mereno has suffered the bullying of his elder half-brother. Then, not quite fifteen years old, and on the day they bury their father, Jesamiah hits back. In consequence, he flees his Virginia home, changes his name to Jesamiah Acorne, and joins the crew of his father’s seafaring friend, Captain Malachias Taylor, aboard the privateer, Mermaid. He makes enemies, sees the ghost of his father, wonders who is the Cornish girl he hears in his mind – and tries to avoid the beguiling lure of a sensuous mermaid... An early coming-of-age tale of the young Jesamiah Acorne, set in the years before he becomes a pirate and Captain of the Sea Witch.

“I really enjoyed the insight offered into Jesamiah's backstory, and found the depiction of our teenage hero very moving.” Anna Belfrage, author

*** ***
Helen's cosy mystery set in 1970s north London 

The first in a new series of quick-read,
cosy mysteries set in the 1970s.
A Mirror Murde

Eighteen-year-old library assistant Jan Christopher’s life is to change on a rainy Friday evening in July 1971, when her legal guardian and uncle, DCI Toby Christopher, gives her a lift home after work. Driving the car, is her uncle’s new Detective Constable, Laurie Walker – and it is love at first sight for the young couple. But romance is soon to take a back seat when a baby boy is taken from his pram,  a naked man is scaring young ladies in nearby Epping Forest, and an elderly lady is found, brutally murdered... Are the events related? How will they affect the staff and public of the local library where Jan works – and will a blossoming romance survive a police investigation into  murder?

Lots of nostalgic, well-researched, detail about life in the 1970s, which readers of a certain age will lap up; plus some wonderful, and occasionally hilarious, ‘behind the counter’ scenes of working in a public library, which any previous or present-day library assistant will recognise!” Reader Review

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