Getting to Know Ellen Scott from "Dance for a Dead Princess" @DeborahHawk3 #Romance #MustRead

Our guest post for today comes from author Deborah Hawkins, author of Dance for A Dead Princess, who is interviewing Ellen Scott, housekeeper at Burnham Abbey and close friend of Nicholas Carey, the Eighteenth Duke of Burnham.
Deborah: “Thank you for stepping out of the pages of Dance For A Dead Princess to talk to us.   What is it like to be a modern-day housekeeper at an English stately home that dates back to Henry VIII’s time?”
Ellen:  “Well, obviously I love my job.  I oversee the household staff and ensure  the kitchen is running properly.  Above all, I’m responsible for the happiness of our resident chef.  Nicholas insists on having a top-rated chef at all times, and he takes it very hard when one of them leaves.   Since Downtown Abbey became popular,  people I meet are a lot more interested in what I do than they used to be.  They think I am like Mrs. Hughes, but our staff at the Abbey is much, much smaller than the staff at Downtown.”
Deborah: “Does the new attention make you uncomfortable?”
Ellen: “Not at all. The attention isn’t new really.  My job has always kept me in the spotlight because of my connection to Nicholas.   He is the second richest man in England.  The press hounds are  always pursing me for gossip about the women in his life.  Of course, I tell them nothing.”
Deborah: “How did you come to be the housekeeper at Burnham Abbey?”
Ellen: “I grew up on the estate. My father was a tenant on one of the Burnham Trust farms. I went to university to be a teacher, and I taught for a while at the school in the village after I got married. My husband Pete also grew up on one of the estate farms.  He oversees all the Trust’s agricultural holdings now.
“I agreed to be Nicholas’ housekeeper after Nicholas inherited the title and wanted to live at the Abbey and take care of the land in the traditional way of the old dukes.  He was going through a bad patch in his marriage to Deborah just then, and I couldn’t say no. The job stuck, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Deborah: “Is it true Nicholas became close to Princess Diana because of his wife?”
Ellen: “Yes.  Deborah and Diana were great friends at West Heath when they were girls.   Nicholas loved Deborah beyond anything I’ve ever seen, and he turned to Diana for advice when his marriage was in trouble.  And she, likewise, sought his advice over the whole Charles-Camilla thing.”
Deborah: “Did you ever meet the Princess of Wales?”
Ellen:  “Oh, yes.  Many times.  She was a lovely, lovely warm woman.  I still cry at times when I think about her being gone.  I’m always half-expecting to hear her car in the drive and her voice calling out for Nicholas.  He always took her part in everything.  There were so many men in her life who should have loved her, but who didn’t. More fool them.   She was just the most beautiful, thoughtful woman in the world. And she loved her boys.”
Deborah: “What did you think of Taylor Collins when you met her?”
Ellen: “She didn’t look like a lawyer.  She was this tiny little thing with dark curly hair and deep violet eyes.  But there was something about her that set her apart from the other women Nicholas brings around.  She had this fierce, determined attitude that made her seem a little off-putting at first.  But I saw the way Nicholas looked at her, and I was so afraid he was going to get his heart broken again.  Losing Deborah was a blow he refused to get over, and now I thought he was headed for another heartache. Taylor Collins was the only woman in the world who hadn’t any interest in being the Duchess of Burnham.”
Deborah: “Did you know Nicholas was looking for the video tape that Diana made, naming her killer?”
Ellen: “Oh, yes.  He was discouraged for so many years because he had no information about what happened to it.  I begged him to let it go because looking for it put his life in danger.  But he wouldn’t listen.  After Deborah died, I think he had a death wish.  That is, until he met, Taylor.”
Deborah:   “I understand you knew Nicholas’ ward Lucy very well?”
Ellen:   “I don’t think any of us knew Lucy well.  Sixteen-year-olds are unpredictable, and Lucy was particularly hard to understand.  I just know she broke Nicholas’ heart too many times to count.  He blamed himself for her, and I didn’t think that was right.  Drug addiction tears a family apart.”
Deborah: “I understand Taylor Collins found a manuscript in the Abbey library that Thomas Carey, the first duke wrote, about the love of his life, Elizabeth Howell.  Have you read it?”
Ellen:  “I have.  Nicholas always insisted the family was founded on the murder of Thomas’ first wife to clear the way for him to marry Elizabeth, the heiress.  Taylor, who had read the manuscript, said that wasn’t true; and I wanted to know how the Careys came to be one of England’s most powerful and wealthy families.”
Deborah: “And did you find out?”
Ellen: “Indeed, I did.  Thomas’ contemporaneous portrait of Henry VIII is fascinating.  You feel as if you’re standing right there in front of him with Thomas.  But I haven’t time  to tell you that story now.  We’re serving tea in the Long Gallery in a half hour to a group of American tourists. Tourists are a substantial part of the Abbey’s income, and they spend a lot of money with the villagers in Burnham during their summer visits,  so Nicholas insists we make them feel fully welcome to show our gratitude.   But I would love to have you join us for tea.”
Deborah: “Thank you.  I would be delighted.”
In January 1997, Princess Diana received a phone call telling her she would be assassinated. She recorded the information on a secret video tape, naming her killer and gave it to a trusted friend in America for safekeeping. It has never been found.
Diana's close friend, Nicholas Carey, the 18th Duke of Burnham and second richest man in England, has vowed to find the tape and expose her killer. After years of searching, he discovers Diana gave the tape to British socialite Mari Cuniff, who died in New York under mysterious circumstances. He believes Wall Street attorney Taylor Collins, the executor of Mari's estate, has possession of it. He lures Taylor to England by promising to sell his ancestral home in Kent, Burnham Abbey, to one of her clients, a boarding school for American girls. Nicholas has dated actresses and models since the death of his wife, ten years earlier, and has no interest in falling in love again. But he is immediately and unexpectedly overwhelmed with feelings for Taylor at their first meeting.
Taylor, unaware that Diana's tape is in her long-time friend and client's estate and nursing her hurt over her broken engagement to a fellow attorney in her firm, brands Nicholas supremely spoiled and selfish. She is in a hurry to finish the sale of the Abbey and return to New York. But while working in the Abbey's library, Taylor uncovers the diary of Thomas Carey, a knight at the court of Henry VIII and the first Duke of Burnham.
As she reads Thomas' agonizing struggle to save the love of his life and the mother of his child from being forced to become Henry's mistress, she begins to see Nicholas in a new light as he battles to save his sixteen-year-old ward Lucy, who is desperately unhappy and addicted to cocaine. But just as Taylor's feelings for Nicholas become clear and at the moment she realizes she is in possession of Diana's voice from the grave, she learns that Nicholas may be Lucy's father and responsible for his wife's death at the Abbey at the time of Lucy's birth. When Nicholas is arrested for Lucy's murder and taken to Wandsworth Prison, Taylor sets out to learn the truth about Nicholas, his late wife, and the death of the Princess of Wales.
Dance for A Dead Princess is a the story of two great loves that created and preserved a family that has lasted for five hundred years.
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Genre – Contemporary Romance, Mystery
Rating – G
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