It’s my pleasure to welcome Michele Stegman back to my blog.
When I was a child, I loved going to my grandparents’ in the country. I said when I grew up I wanted to live in the country in an old house with level floors. A few years after we married, my husband, Ron, and I bought a piece of property and found an 1840’s log cabin that had been taken apart. The logs were numbered with a chart showing where each log went. It took us a year and a half to put that house back together, but it has level floors! We have furnished it with a lot of antiques, including our bed which is from 1800, some chairs from 1790, and a kitchen table from 1845. To add to the “old” look, my spinning wheel, which I use, sits by the fireplace, and my loom is in one corner.
About four years ago, the county closed our road just past our driveway. Now we are the last house on a country road. Our driveway is so long that our house cannot be seen from the road. I flew over our house once, and even from the air, our house is hard to spot. Talk about private! We have put up no hunting signs all around our property, and we see so much wildlife! A pair of red-tailed hawks is nesting in a tree in the front yard. I counted a dozen deer just beyond the clothesline and as many vultures coasting overhead. I’ve seen 30 turkeys at a time pecking around in the back yard with the males preening and spreading their tail feathers. We hear coyotes at night and see the occasional fox, possum, raccoon, or skunk.
Yes, this is a writer’s paradise! You might understand why I write historical romance. Just as I love living in an unusual home, I love to write unusual books. I try to put some kind of twist in them, or make them unique in some way. In Fortune’s Foe, I made my hero a Spaniard. Well, what’s so unusual about that? The book is set in 1740 during a war between England and Spain. So many books and movies set in the 1600’s and 1700’s make the Spanish the “bad guys.” But I thought, the Spanish fall in love, too. They had families and kids. So I decided on a Spanish hero. Humph! It wasn’t easy to work out. How do you get an Colonial American woman and a Spaniard together when they live an ocean apart and their countries are at war? Where do they end up living? I struggled with a plot and researched this book for, literally, years. I wrote other things in the meantime, but I kept coming back to this one. Finally, I made some decisions about the plot and suddenly it all began to fall into place. History co-operated and handed me the details I needed to round out the story, and Fortune’s Foe was born. And yes, it is part of a series. Each book stands alone, but if you enjoy one, you might want to read the others. There are four siblings in Fortune’s Foe and each one will have their own story.
This book was originally published by Asylett Press. When they went out of business, they gave me my rights back and I have now re-published the book with a new cover. It has just come out in paperback and I am so happy that it is available again. The next book, Fortune’s Pride is already available and will soon also be in paperback. Now I have to buckle down and write the next two!
War made them enemies…In the midst of a raging war, Mariette Fortune’s brother will die if she doesn’t rescue him–especially if the Spanish discover they hold captive the son of the infamous privateer, Sean Fortune. But she didn’t count on falling in love with their guard–a man whose life depends on keeping the English prisoners from escaping.
Alejandro de Silva knows there is more to the lovely Mestiza woman he has hired to keep his house…more than she will admit. Regardless, he cannot help falling in love with her. But he never dreams she is an English spy, whose presence in Spanish St. Augustine will put both their lives in deadly peril.
Now Mariette must choose between saving the life of her brother…or the enemy Spaniard she has come to love.
St. Augustine, Florida, 1740
Mariette grasped the seat of the skiff and looked across the choppy water of Matanzas Bay. Ships sailed into and out of St. Augustine and the gray stone walls of the Spanish fort, El Castillo, loomed over it all. “Matt is in there,” she said, “and he’ll die if we don’t get him out.”
“And we might die trying.”
Mariette turned to her younger brother, Nate, in disguise as she was, in old, faded clothing, a droopy brown felt tri-corn on his head. He, too, was looking grimly up at the enemy fort, his hands white knuckled on the tiller of the battered little skiff as they sailed by.
Up close, the fort was more forbidding than Mariette had imagined. There was no way to approach it undetected. Nothing grew near its walls and a moat surrounded the part of it not touched by the waters of the bay. Guards patrolled the top and the black snouts of cannon protruded from its sides.
“You’re the one who sulked for three days because Mama and Papa wouldn’t let you join Oglethorpe’s expedition,” she said. “Well, Little Brother, you’re in this war now.” And so am I, she thought, folding her hands in her lap and drawing her feet close under her as if she could make herself invisible to the danger she was about to face.
“Yeah,” Nate grumbled, “I get to sail in and out while you go into St. Augustine and face all the danger.” He smiled at her, but his eyes held concern and worry for her.
She could not help but let a fond smile play over her own face. “That’s because your sailing is a lot better than your Spanish.”
Nate’s chin came up. “I can speak Spanish.”
Mariette turned to the third passenger in the skiff. “Not well enough to pass for a Mestizo though, does he, Soledad?”
Soledad looked Nate up and down in her somewhat cynical fashion, her smooth red scarf a bright contrast to a face more black and wrinkled than a raisin. “Besides which, dem blue eyes of yours give you away pretty damn quick,” the skinny Black woman said to Nate, harumphing for emphasis. “Leastways your sister, she look the part of a half Spanish, half Indian with dat black hair and eyes. Long as dat pretty face don’t get too much attention, we be all right.”
Mariette laid a hand on Soledad’s arm, feeling the hard strength in that lean limb. “I want to thank you again for helping us, Soledad.”
Soledad harrumphed again and spat over the side, wiping her toothless mouth with the back of a hand that looked too large and work roughened for the rest of her skinny frame. “Damn fool notion thinkin’ we’s gonna get them two away from the Spanish dons.”
Mariette looked blank and Soledad continued. “You tol’ me your fiancé‚ is in there with your twin. I’m guessin’ we got to get him out, too.”
“Oh. Yes. Of course!” Mariette sat up straighter, determined to show a confidence that had slipped somewhat at the sight of the impregnable fort. “Somehow we’ll manage to rescue them both.”
“Damn fool notion if you ask me,” Soledad muttered, shaking her head. “Damn fool.”