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.)

Farewell Blues

Farewell-Blues-350x525Farewell Blues: An Interview with Maggie Robinson

By Mary Jo

MJP: I'm delighted to welcome Maggie Robinson here today.  She started out in historical romance and is now writing historical mysteries.  She's here to discuss her recent release, Farewell Blues, fourth and last of her historical mystery Lady Adelaide series. 

Maggie, I've been enthralled by this series ever since you first told me the premise for book one, Nobody's Sweetheart Now.  Will you explain the setup of the series?  And tell us about the men in Addie's life!

MR:  I’m delighted to be here! Ah, the set up. It sounds…a little crazy. But I’m reminded of this description of The Wizard of Oz: “Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she meets, then teams up with three strangers to kill again.”

Boiled down to its basics, there’s a widowed marquess’s daughter, the ghost of her philandering yet fatally charming husband, and a handsome Anglo-Indian detective. They team up not to kill but find killers through four light-hearted cozy mysteries.  (Nobody's Sweetheart Now, Whose Sorry Now, Just Make Believe, and Farewell Blues.)

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The Scoundrel’s Daughter: an interview with Anne Gracie

Mary Jo here. Today I'm delighted to interview my sister Word Wench, Anne Gracie  about her new book, The Scoundrel's Daughter, the first in her new series, The Brides of Bellaire Gardens.

ScoundrelsDaughter1Med

Reviews so far have been very positive. On Book Page it was called "an excellent new romance" and concludes "Within these two love stories, Gracie paints a beautiful portrait of two women becoming fuller, happier versions of themselves." The blog Flippin' Pages gave it 5 stars and said: "This delightfully romantic and entertaining book has it ALL!  Wonderful characters, wit, laugh-worthy humor, a despicable, shrewish harpy who definitely gets her comeuppance, TWO swoon-worthy romances, three adorable little girls, and it is all set a very realistic and well-described Regency London." 

MJP: Anne, your cover is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen and it reflects the setting of the book.  Romance series most often are built around family members or groups of friends, yet you've chosen a physical setting, Bellaire Gardens, a place so charming that we Word Wenches chose it for the setting of this year's Anniversary Blog, part 1 and part 2.

Anne: Thanks, Mary Jo — I feel very blessed to get that beautiful cover. The Berkley Art Dept. has done a wonderful job. I sent them the photo below of a wisteria arch and they clearly liked it.

As for the setting, I wanted something a little bit different to connect the various characters and, since I've always loved gardens, I chose a large private garden, surrounded by houses and only accessible through each house's back gate. Each of the women in the series live on Bellaire Gardens, and of course, they each will become brides.

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Alissa Baxter’s Linfield Ladies

An interview with Alissa Baxter:

By Mary Jo

TheEarlandtheLadyGeologist FINAL.2.12.21750x1125 (1)I'm delighted to have as my guest today my friend Alissa Baxter, a South African romance writer who has written a trilogy of sweet Regency romances with heroines who have unconventional interests. The first, The Earl's Lady Geologist, has just been released. 

Kirkus Reviews called it, "A playful and poignant historical romance that’s certain to please fans of the genre."

Bestselling author Mimi Mathews said, “A gentle Regency romance, full of sweetness and intelligence. Alissa Baxter’s writing is period perfect.”

An Amazon reviewer said, "At times touching, at others humorous with snappy dialogue between the main characters, this was an entertaining and satisfying read from beginning to end."

There's also a fun video for the book. 

 

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Just Make Believe! An interview with Maggie Robinson

Just Make Believeby Mary Jo

I'm happy to welcome Maggie Robinson back to the Word Wenches!  Today's blog is not a suggested mental exercise, but the title of her new book, Just Make Believe, third in her delightful Lady Adelaide historical mystery series.  I've been hooked since she mentioned the first Lady Adelaide story to me: Nobody's Sweetheart Now.

Set in the 1920s, the series features Lady Adelaide, the wealthy widow of a philandering war hero, a handsome Detective Inspector who is a half Indian–and Rupert, ghost of Addie's late husband who is trying to work his way into heaven by doing good deeds. He has an annoying tendency to drift into her bedchamber while she's dressing and criticize her choices of costume. <G>

MJP: Maggie, can you tell us more about the series and what you had in mind when you created it?

 

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