The Specter (Waxwood Series: Book 1)

Amazon Barnes & Noble iTunes Kobo

When Vivian’s grandmother dies, she leaves behind a trail of family secrets and half-truths.

San Francisco, 1892: Vivian Alderdice has just made her debut in Nob Hill society. But she’s not your typical Gilded Age heiress. She’d rather read books and take long walks than indulge in flirtations or learn the Hesitation Waltz. 

In the midst of the endless parties and social events of her debutante life, her grandmother Penelope dies. Vivian replaces her taffeta and silk ballgowns for mourning clothes, putting husband-hunting on hold. The future Vivian thought was so clear is now clouded with uncertainty.

A woman not of the San Francisco elite shows up at the funeral, claiming to be an old friend of Penelope’s. She’s eager to tell Vivian about the woman she knew: Not Penelope Alderdice, the shipping tycoon’s wife and Nob Hill socialite, but Grace Carlyle, a spunky artist in search of adventure.  Now it’s not only the future that’s cloudy but the past as well.

Is the intruder a crank? Is she confused? Or is she telling the truth? 

Vivian won’t rest and neither will the specter of Penelope Alderdice until she finds out. Her journey takes her into the life of the woman she thought she knew, uncovering family truths the Alderdices have kept hidden for over forty years.

Will Vivian’s future be revealed in her grandmother’s past?

Follow Vivian’s path to truth and self-discovery in the first book of this family saga set during one of America’s most turbulent eras.


Get The Specter today and experience the life of a spirited Gilded Age belle who won’t let go of a family ghost.

What reviewers are saying:

May’s historical fiction picks apart the delicate facade of American gentility in upper-class, well-heeled families on the wild West Coast at the end of the nineteenth century. – Lisa Lickel, author and blogger, Living our Faith Out Loud


Gently told, and forms a good basis for the series to build upon. – Discovering Diamonds: Historical Fiction Reviews


Part gothic fiction, part psychological drama, “The Specter” was a deeply moving & introspective book about one of San Francisco’s powerful families set in 1892 – Amazon Vine Voice reader


An intriguing and beguiling story. – Amazon reader


A fantastic story that will definitely intrigue the reader and pull you into to the last page. – Amazon reader

Check out the entire series on Amazon here!

Other books in the series

All covers by Essi/100 Covers

Is the life of a Gilded Age debutante all parties and flirtations? Read “The Rose Debutante” to find out! It’s FREE! Plus, you’ll get to know about life in the past and about the resilient women the history books forgot. And how about fun historical facts, great deals on historical fiction books, and a cool monthly freebie thrown in just because?

Disclosure: Please note that I am a member of the Amazon Associates Program, which means that the Amazon link below is an affiliate link. That means that if you make a purchase using this link and proceed to make other purchases on Amazon, I will earn a commission. This in no way affects the cost of any product you buy on Amazon, and it helps me to keep giving readers quality books. I am an Amazon affiliate because I believe in Amazon’s ability to offer quality and variety in its products, not because of the commission I receive from your purchase(s). The decision is yours as to whether or not you decide to buy through the link provided.