Newport, Rhode Island, August 1895: She may be a less well-heeled relation, but as second cousin to millionaire patriarch Cornelius Vanderbilt, 21-year-old Emma Cross is on the guest list for a grand ball at the Breakers, the Vanderbilts' summer home. She also has a job to do - report on the event for the society page of the Newport Observer. But Emma observes much more than glitz and gaiety when she witnesses a murder.
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With the dawn of the 20th century on the horizon, the fortunes of the venerable Vanderbilt family still shine brightly in the glittering high society of Newport, Rhode Island. But when a potential scandal strikes, the Vanderbilts turn to cousin and society page reporter Emma Cross to solve a murder and a disappearance.
For Newport, Rhode Island’s high society, the summer of 1896 brings lawn parties, sailboat races... and murder. Having turned down the proposal of Derrick Andrews, Emma Cross has no imminent plans for matrimony - let alone motherhood. But when she discovers an infant left on her doorstep, she naturally takes the child into her care. Using her influence as a cousin to the Vanderbilts and a society page reporter for the Newport Observer, Emma launches a discreet search for the baby’s mother.
As the 19th century draws to a close, reporter Emma Cross is sent by the Newport Observer to cover an elite house party at Rough Point, a "cottage" owned by her distant cousin Frederick Vanderbilt that has been rented as an artist retreat. To her surprise, the illustrious guests include her estranged Bohemian parents - recently returned from Europe - as well as a variety of notable artists, including author Edith Wharton.