Mary Jo Putney’s Silver Lady

Anne here, interviewing Mary Jo Putney about her latest book, SILVER LADY. It’s the first book in a new ‘Dangerous Gifts’ series, but it’s also a return to her Regency world with a touch of the paranormal, where some people are ‘gifted’ with extra sensory abilities, and where many others are prejudiced against them. (The Marriage Spell)

Cover of Silver Lady, By Mary Jo Putney

SILVER LADY has already received some glowing reviews. It’s the Editor’s Pick on Amazon for best romance.  Publishers Weekly called it the start of “an exciting new historical romance series set in 19th-century Cornwall” and recommended it “for readers who like some fantasy in their historical romance and appreciate stories with chosen family and strong women.“

Booklist Reviewer John Charles said it deftly blended “a superbly atmospheric Cornish setting, spot-on historical details, and a danger-riddled plot enhanced with just the right touch of the paranormal.”

Anne: Mary Jo, can you tell us a little more about this world where some people are ‘gifted’ and others hate them for it?

MJP: I’ve always loved reading fantasy because I like the idea that there might be something wonderful just outside the corner of one’s eye.  I’ve done full fledged magical fantasy books (my Guardian series and my Dark Mirror young adult series), but I wanted something subtler, more like the psychic abilities in Jayne Ann Krentz’s books.  Since humankind has a long and terrible history of despising anyone who is different, it was easy to believe that being gifted could arouse hostility. I thought that would make a solid framework for a new series. And indeed it does. <G>

Anne: This new series features a “found family” of people who had been rejected at a young age by their parents because of their ‘gifts’ — ie paranormal abilities.

MJP: I only heard the phrase ‘found family’ relatively recently, but it’s something I’ve done from my earliest books because I was always interested in the friends of my protagonist.  This interest became much more focused with my first long historical series, the Fallen Angels.  I love the idea of people who have had difficulty in their early years finding friends who become closer than blood kin, bonded by absolute trust and mutual caring.  These kinds of found families are the DNA of all my series. In this series, the “Tribe of Tremayne” was created by the gifted Lord and Lady Tremayne.  They have three biological children but they’ve rescued many gifted children who had been discarded by their families. Some children they placed with other gifted families, some they kept, like Bran.

Anne: Bran, the hero of SILVER LADY, was dumped by his noble birth father in a baby farm, where he’d been expected to die, but he and another gifted little boy escaped and found their way to London where they were taken in and adopted by Lord and Lady Tremayne.

Now an adult working for the British government, the adventure starts when Bran’s intuition draws him to investigate something disturbing happening in Cornwall. Tell us about Bran.

MJP:  Bran is reserved, even-tempered, and extraordinarily competent.  His politeness to his rude, angry birth father makes the old bully even angrier. <G>  Bran is a very gifted analyst, good at putting fragments of information together to form a larger picture.  Bran is also very intuitive and sees important matters as shimmering silver.  That leads him down to Cornwall.  He doesn’t know why, only that it’s vital that he go there. (The photo above is by Mark Markstein on Unsplash.)

Anne: The Cornish setting is wonderfully evocative. (Photo on the left is by Thomas Vogel on Unsplash)
Your heroine, the ‘Silver Lady’ of the title is unusual in that for the first part of the book she has no name except ‘Girl’ and can barely communicate. Tell us about her. Was she difficult to write?

MJP:  Not at all.  I’ve always been interested in stories of identity, and an amnesiac situation really emphasizes that.  Bran’s Silver Lady is gifted, and people who want to exploit her talents force a hypnotic amnesia on her.  I thought it was interesting to show her gradually regaining a sense of herself until she has the courage to make a break for freedom.  Once she comes under Bran’s protection, her recovery becomes much faster–and surprises everyone around her!

Anne: Apart from the London opening, the story is mostly set in Cornwall.  Bran is killing two birds with one stone; reconnecting with his estranged noble family, and as a government agent, investigating the disturbing feelings he’s getting from that part of the world – personal and political. It’s the latter that provides the adventure part that’s so often a feature of your books. What sort of research did you do for this?

MJP:  I chose an interesting period in 1803 when the Peace of Amiens is about to be broken, which will send Britain and France into war again.  Since I wanted Cornwall to be the setting, I did some general reading and discovered the Royal Naval Dockyard on the border between Cornwall and Devon. It was vitally important in the ongoing wars with France, and more reading brought me to a disaster several years earlier.  The explosion of the frigate Amphion was an inspiration for what might happen in my story. (That’s a frigate above.)  I’ve found that poking around with research invariably produces possibilities.  In fact, that just happened yesterday with the book I’m working on now.

Anne: Will you give us a short snippet of SILVER LADY please?

MJP: This is from the opening. Rhys and Gwyn Tremayne have been at the theater, but as they’re about to get into their carriage, Gwyn senses something down a dark alley.

“Something, or someone.”  Gwyn drew her cloak more closely around her as she purposefully started threading her way through the mass of waiting carriages and playgoers who were happily discussing the show they’d just seen.

Two turns took them from Covent Garden into a narrow lane.  Halfway down, Gwyn paused, then turned left into a dark alley barely lit by capricious moonlight.  It dead ended at a wall where a pile of rubble had accumulated against the dingy brick. Heedless of her expensive cloak, she knelt on the frozen ground by the rubble and said softly, “You can come out now, my lad.  You’re safe.”

There was a rustling sound but no one appeared. “How does warm food and a fire and a bath sound?” she said in her most persuasive voice.

A child’s voice snarled, “Don’t want no bath!”

“Then we’ll start with the food and the fire,” she said peaceably.  “Will you show yourself?  We won’t hurt you.”

Rhys stood silently behind her, knowing a frightened child would fear a rather large grown man more than a soft-voiced woman.  The rubble shifted and a small, filthy face became visible. A boy child perhaps five or six years old.

Gwyn brushed back a lock of fair hair, then peeled the kidskin glove from her right hand and offered it to the little boy.  He hesitantly took it.  As she clasped his freezing fingers with her warm hand, his eyes widened and he sighed with relief.

“You can tell I’m safe, can’t you?” Gwyn said.

The boy frowned up at Rhys. “You may be, but not sure about him!”

“I’m safe, too,” Rhys said in his most reassuring voice.  “I’m very good at protecting others.”

Unconvinced, the boy narrowed his eyes warily.  As Rhys stood very still, Gwyn said soothingly, “I’m Gwyn Tremayne.  What’s your name?”

The boy hesitated, as if his name was too precious to share.  After a long moment, he said, “Caden.”

“Caden.  That’s a good Cornish or Welsh name.  My husband and I come from Cornish families.”  Knowing there was more to find, her gaze moved back to the rubble pile.  “Your friend can come out, too.”

Caden gasped and jerked away from her.  For a moment she feared he’d try to bolt, but a thin, childish voice emerged from the rubble.  “It’s all right, Cade.  These are the people we came to find.”

An even smaller boy emerged from the rubble, his ragged garments almost indistinguishable from the trash around him.  His gaze on Gwyn, he said, “I’m Bran.”

“For Branok?” Again Gwyn offered her hand and Bran took it without hesitation.  His small fingers felt as if they were carved from ice.  In the darkness it was hard to see the boys clearly.  Though both were dark haired, there was little other resemblance.  Bran’s eyes were light, Caden’s were dark, but the color wasn’t visible in shadows. “Are you brothers?”

The boys exchanged a glance.  “We are now!” Caden said fiercely, challenging anyone who might deny that.

Anne: I love the way those lost little boys claimed each other so fiercely — the essence of “found family.”  (Photo of on the left is by Jonny Gios, on Unsplash.)
What’s next for MJP and the ‘Dangerous Gifts’ series?

MJP:  I’m close to finishing book 2, Golden Lord.  The hero is Caden, Bran’s foster brother who helped them escape from Cornwall to London when they were very small boys.  They’re very close.  Bran is more the strategist, Cade is in charge of cracking heads. <G>

Anne: I can’t wait.
Question for readers: Do you enjoy stories with a touch of paranormal in them? Do you like “found family” stories?
Mary Jo will be giving away a copy of SILVR LADY to someone who leaves a comment. (US only, alas.)

Interview with a Fictional Hero

Christina here. Next week sees the publication of the fifth book in my Vikings Runes series, PROMISES OF THE RUNES, and today I thought I would interview the fictional hero, Ivar Thoresson, in order to introduce him to readers. He has quite an interesting story to tell! As long as you believe in magic, that is …

Promises of the Runes BlogHe arrives to the interview dressed in black jeans and biker boots, but with a Viking tunic instead of a t-shirt. It’s pale blue and trimmed with beautiful handwoven bands and he tells me a special someone made it for him. All manner of things hang off his leather belt – a pouch, a knife and what looks like a real battle axe. Intimidating if I didn’t know that he’s only brought it to show me. His dark blond hair is long, but pulled back into a manbun, and he has a closely cropped beard. Basically, he has the look of a very modern Viking.

Christina: Ivar, thank you for joining us today. I know you’re a busy man, basically living a double life. Can you tell us a bit about how it all started?

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Celebration Time!

Circular_Temple_-_panoramio Mark A Coleman  CC BY 3.0 httpscreativecommons.orglicensesby3.0  via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Mark A Coleman

Christina here and I'm delighted to tell you that this week it's THE WORD WENCHES’ 16th ANNIVERSARY! In order to celebrate properly, we decided to hold a picnic and you’re all invited!

We're each bringing our favourite historical food to a lovely park somewhere in the UK – the precise location is a secret as it’s by invitation only, but you can reach it via this lovely temple folly which acts as a time portal.

The setting – hills, woodland and parkland – is beautiful, with wildflowers, ancient trees and herds of deer that can be glimpsed roaming in the distance.

Andrea Vauxhall (2)Birds fill the air with song and a couple of peacocks are strutting nearby showing off their shimmering plumage. There’s a boating lake too, where we can paddle in the water if we like, or just drift peacefully while someone else does the rowing. For our comfort, we have brought rugs and silk cushions to recline upon, and we would advise you to bring a parasol or a hat as the sun can be very hot! It's going to be a wonderful day and here’s what else the Wenches will be bringing:-

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Quiz—Marry In Secret

Anne here, and here is a #giveaway and a fun little quiz on a book not yet out — MARRY IN SECRET — which will be published on 30 July. All your answers, therefore, must be guesses. Keep note of your answers, and at the bottom of this post there's a link to the answers. Check your results, then come back here and let us know how you went.
I'll choose one commenter to win a copy of MARRY IN SECRET.
I hope you enjoy it. MarryInSecret307

1) The story opens with Rose about to make a convenient marriage with a handsome duke. Why a convenient (ie. loveless arranged) marriage?
a)  Because she doesn't want to be the last Rutherford girl to get married.
b)  Because she's about to turn 21 and is worried she'll be on the shelf.
c)  Because she's secretly in love with him. 
d)  Because she believes that love is too painful.

2) When Rose fails to marry the duke, Aunt Agatha is:—
a)  delighted. 
b)  thrilled. 
c)  ecstatic. 
d)  none of the above.

3) When Thomas turns up at the church, who says “Throw the dirty beggar out!”
a)  Aunt Agatha
b)  Rose
c)  Cal, Lord Ashendon
d)  The duke

4) When Rose's secret husband turns up how does Rose react?
a)  She slaps him.
b)  She faints.
c)  She  yells at him.
d)  She bursts into tears.

5)  What word best describes the duke's reaction to Rose's long-lost husband turning up?
a)  Irritated.
b)  Jealous.
c)  Relieved.
d)  Furious.

6) Why did Rose get married In secret?
a)  It was an act of defiance against her strict father. 
b)  Because she was worried she might be pregnant.
c)  Because she was young and wild and in love.
d)  To get away from boarding school.

7) Who did she marry?
a)  A soldier.
b)  A sailor.
c)  A gambler.
d)  A spy.

8) Why did Rose's husband disappear in the first place?
a)  He was on the run from the law.
b)  He was already married.
c)  He was shipwrecked.
d)  He was imprisoned by the French.

9) What was Rose's husband doing in the years he was away?
a)  Writing letters. 
b)  Fighting.
c)  A variety of jobs.
d)  Being a pirate.

10) Why has Rose's husband returned?
a)  To revenge himself on Rose for her infidelity.
b)  To get control of Rose's fortune.
c)   Because he loves her.
d)   Because he never breaks a promise.

Now, pop over to this site and check your answers, then come back and let us know how you did. Did any answers surprise you?  I always enjoy these quizzes — coming up with the various possibilities makes me so aware of the different stories I could have written, but didn't. I hope you had fun, too. Thanks for playing.