Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Maxwell Bretherton of Love & Mayhem by Luanna Stewart @Luanna_Stewart #HistoricalRomance #Pirates #BritishGentry.

I'd like to welcome Maxwell Bretherton of Love & Mayhem by Luanna Stewart.  This will be the last post on this blog for the foreseeable future, as I am retiring.

RW:    What’s your story/back story? Why would someone come up with a story about YOU?
MB:    Good afternoon, allow me to introduce myself. Maxwell Bretherton, at your service. I believe I’ve led a somewhat exciting life to this point. It’s not every young man who sails from England to Canada to stake his claim only to be taken prisoner by a band of cutthroats and scoundrels and forced into a life of piracy on the high seas. Nor is every prisoner lucky enough to survive, purchase his freedom, and amass a small fortune.

RW:    What problems do you have to face and overcome in your life?
MB:    I just want to settle my parents’ meagre estate and return to my home on the island of Jamaica. I have no desire to remain in London longer than necessary—it’s too blasted cold, for one thing. I wish to be done with my past. My childhood was not the happiest. Oh, I was fed and clothed and sent to a good school, but I received little affection. My fondest memories are of the days spent with my friend, Oswald, and his family on their sheep farm. In fact, I’d been affianced to his young sister, Sybil, before I was kidnapped.

RW:    Do you expect your heroine to help or is she the problem?
MB:    Sybil is quickly becoming a thorn in my side. I’d thought her a pretty enough young lady when I last saw her and now she’s grown into quite a beauty. She’s also grown into a stubborn, headstrong, outspoken—woman—who seems to think she can get what she wants, regardless of society’s rules. This is 1883, not the time of the debauched Romans. A young lady cannot merely take a lover should the mood strike.
RW:    How are you coping with the conflict in your life?
MB:    I assure you I am coping quite well. I’ve explained to Sybil in no uncertain terms what I expect of the woman I’m to marry—and marry we will, regardless of her assertions to the contrary.

RW:    Cherries or Bananas? Leather or lace? Black or red?
MB:    I must say, those are bizarre questions. Bananas are rather puny and full of seeds. I’ve not eaten cherries in many years—perhaps I’ll see about importing some when I return to my home. Leather. I’ve not worn lace since infancy.

           Should you be asking my preference for a lady, then I’d say lace. Black or red what, exactly? If you are again speaking of attire, you can never go wrong with black. Though I do have a waistcoat embroidered with red flowers of some sort which has garnered several compliments.

RW:    When I’m alone, I (fill in the blank).
MB:    Ah, an easy answer. When I’m alone, I read. I have a sizable library at my home to which I’m constantly adding volumes. The climate can be a trial—damp is an enemy to books, as are insects. I most enjoy the biographies of men, and a few women, who have shaped the world. The great explorers and their feats of bravery hold me spellbound for hours at a time.

RW:    Those are all the questions we have for you. Thank you for speaking to us.
MB:    My pleasure. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a pirate to find.

Luanna Stewart

Luanna Stewart has been creating adventures for her imaginary friends since childhood. As soon as she discovered her grandmother's stash of romance novels, all plots had to lead to a happily-ever-after.

Luanna writes full time, concentrating on sexy romantic suspense, steamy paranormal romance, and spicy historical romance.

Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Luanna has recently returned to the land of her birth with her dear husband and two spoiled cats. When she's not torturing her heroes and heroines, she’s in her kitchen baking something delicious.

Under her previous pen name of Grace Hood she has two novellas published with The Wild Rose Press.

Love and Mayhem

The Plot:

Sybil is happily on the shelf, tending to her sheep. But she fears she’ll depart this life without experiencing physical love, which she suspects is rather enjoyable. When her long-lost fiancé returns from sea, she decides he’s the lucky man who’ll receive her virginity.

Max is eager to return to his sugar plantation and has no intention of remaining long in London. However, he didn’t bargain on a wilful, pretty, exasperating spinster determined to take him to her bed.

He insists on marriage but she wants only his body. Her heart is not part of the deal. Unfortunately, love doesn’t always follow the rules.


“I see all sorts of advantages to the married state.” He brought her hand to his mouth, kissing each knuckle in turn before kissing her palm. Then he flicked his tongue over the inside of her wrist. She bit back a moan. Who knew the wrist was such a sensitive spot?

She forced her mind back to the task at hand. Which, when you came to think of it, served the other task as well. Namely, getting him to flick his tongue on other sensitive parts of her body. She took a deep breath. “Some enjoy those advantages without the bother of a marriage ceremony.”

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Monday, October 22, 2018

M. S. Spencer, @msspencerauthor, #Pit&thePassion, #MSSpencerbooks, #Floridafiction

I’d like to welcome M. S. Spencer, author of The Pit and the Passion: Murder at the Ghost Hotel, to my blog today.

RW:    How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?

MSS:  A lot! As you can see from my biography, I’ve led a rather eclectic life full of travel & adventure. While every novel I write is fiction, bits of experiences do crop up in them. Lapses of Memory is particularly rife with actual experiences. I figure, this way I don’t have to write my autobiography.

RW:    Tell us about your latest book. What motivated the story? Where did the idea come from? What genre is it? Does it cross over to other genres? If so, what are they?

MSS:  Flotsam & Jetsam: the Amelia Island Affair, is a murder mystery/romantic suspense novel set on Amelia Island, southernmost of the Sea Islands on the Atlantic coast. I went to a book signing event there a couple of years ago and fell in love with the island’s quirky history. It’s been conquered and reconquered by not just countries, but pirates and mercenaries. I wanted to write a contemporary story, but one that draws on that history.

Here’s the blurb:

Who’s littering the park with corpses?

State Park Rangers Simon Ribault and Ellie Ironstone are used to dealing with messy campers and ravaging raccoons, but when three bodies wash up on the beach, they mobilize all their powers of deduction. Who are they and how did they get to the shore of Amelia Island? Are they connected to the secretive League of the Green Cross? Or linked to a mysterious Jamaican drug ring?

Ellie, new to Amelia Island, must penetrate a close-knit community if she wants to find answers to the mystery, all while deciding between two rivals for her affection: Thad, the handsome local idol, and Simon, the clever, quirky bookworm.

Simon, for his part, will have to call on his not-so-well-honed romantic prowess to lure Ellie away from Thad and at the same time use his wide-ranging research skills to solve the case.

RW:    How many books have you written, and how many have been published?

MSS:  Flotsam & Jetsam: the Amelia Island Affair will be released this year. It marks my twelfth published book, all romantic suspense or murder mystery. I wrote one other full manuscript—a murder mystery set in Williamsburg, Virginia—that sat in a drawer for a couple of years until my husband inadvertently (Or not? The jury’s out.) threw it out.

RW:    What book for you has been the easiest to write? The hardest? The most fun?

MSS:  The easiest was probably The Pit & the Passion, released in January. The characters practically wrote themselves and the setting (a grand hotel in ruins that circus man John Ringling built in the 20s) so much fun. I even managed to set a scene or two in my beloved Paris.

The hardest was definitely Flotsam & Jetsam: the Amelia Island Affair, which is due out before the end of this year. That’s the first time I’ve tried a male POV. I had to worry that I was feminizing him too much—plus there are surprising gimmicks I had to ditch—like how to describe the characters. Men usually tell women they have beautiful hair/eyes, etc., thus providing a description for the reader with little effort. But women don’t do that—so how to provide an image of the hero to the reader? We’ll see if it worked.

RW:    Which comes first, the story, the characters, or the setting?

MSS:  I usually like to set a story where I’m setting 😊 but sometimes I get an idea while fiddling around on the internet. I’ll follow research leads until something jumps out. I was reading about John Ringling’s Ghost Hotel—a Ritz-Carlton he started in 1926 and left unfinished for decades when it struck me—what do you find at a ghost hotel? Anyone? The Mason’s Mark: Love & Death in the Tower, is set at the Masonic Memorial and has lots of Masonic intrigue. It came to me when I was reading about a real life renegade Mason with an incredibly flamboyant (& wicked) history.

RW:    Are you in control of your characters or do they control you?

MSS:  Oh, they definitely control me—even to their names. My hero/heroine are literally called “/name/” up until about the third chapter, when they are fully formed little beasts who insist on going their own way. Sometimes they even bring in relatives I didn’t know they had! In Dear Philomena, my Chincoteague mystery romance, Dagne drags her no-good father right onto the page and made me write him in.

RW:    A biography has been written about you. What do you think the title would be in six words or less?

MSS:  Been there, done that.

RW:    If you were stranded on a tropical island, who would it be with? You can choose any living, deceased or mythical figure.

MSS:  Samuel Johnson, definitely. He had an opinion about everything and was the greatest wordsmith ever. I could listen to him for hours. He didn’t mind a dram or two either.

RW:    What’s your most embarrassing moment?

MSS: Hard to choose among so many! But one time—I had my family with me (husband & two young children). We were heading into DC for a victory parade and the subways were packed. Finally, I went full Nike (goddess of Victory, not the shoe) and pushed my way onto the car proclaiming that “I had children with me” as though I expected them to make way for the royal family. I managed to squeeze us in, turned around, and had a full-blown panic attack. In the same stentorian tone I announced that we had to get off RIGHT NOW. I grabbed one child and plowed through the quickly parting sea of people. Once out, I absolutely, positively died of embarrassment. Especially once I realized we were six miles from home. And that I’d left my husband and son on the subway.

RW:    I love pizza with (fill in the blank).

MSS:  Anchovies, bacon, and pickled jalapenos. Don’t argue with me 😊

RW:    Those are all the questions I have for you. Thank you for speaking to me.


The Plot

At midnight, in the darkness of a deserted hotel, comes a scream and a splash. Eighty-five years later, workmen uncover a skeleton in an old elevator shaft. Who is it, and how did it get there? To find out, Charity Snow, ace reporter for the Longboat Key Planet, teams up with Rancor Bass, best-selling author. A college ring they find at the dig site may prove to be their best clue.

Although his arrogance nearly exceeds his talent, Charity soon discovers a warm heart beating under Rancor’s handsome exterior. While dealing with a drop-dead gorgeous editor who may or may not be a villain, a publisher with a dark secret, and an irascible forensic specialist, Charity and Rancor unearth an unexpected link to the most famous circus family in the world.

An Excerpt:

That Hot Heavy Feeling

He scratched his neck. “You are no fun at all.”

She smiled with satisfaction. “Good.”

“Because you see, while you with such easy indifference relegate Tommy T to a mundane accident and the benighted Biddlesworth to a watery grave, you haven’t answered the question of my grandfather’s disappearance.”

“Am I supposed to?”

He stopped. An uncertain look passed over his face, catching Charity off guard. “I…I thought we were in this together?”

A feeling she couldn’t name rushed through her, one that filled every pore with a heavy sort of heat. It weighed her down, made her sluggish. Time slowed. She watched with vague interest as her knees buckled, and the floor rushed toward her. Just before she smacked into it, two strong arms caught her, lifted her up, and held her in a crushing grip. “Charity? Are you alright?”

“Yes. Yes. Oh, Rancor.” After that she couldn’t talk because her lips were smashed against his and her chest against his and she couldn’t breathe at all, but she didn’t really need to because he was breathing for the both of them.

A while later, they sat down on the couch. Rancor traced her cheek with his finger, his eyes wondering. Charity felt at peace. She had recognized the hot, heavy feeling and accepted it. Now to explain it to Rancor.

“Rancor? I—”

The phone rang.

M. S. Spencer


Although M. S. Spencer has lived or traveled in five continents, the last thirty years were spent mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, policy wonk, non-profit director and parent. She has two fabulous grown children and a perfect granddaughter. Ms. Spencer has published twelve romantic suspense/murder mystery novels, and currently divides her time between the Gulf coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.

Book Links:

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Author Pages

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