Regan Walker's Best of the Regency with Becca St. John

Regan here with the Best of the Regency. My guest today is Becca St. John, author of eight books including three Medievals. Her Regencies are romance mysteries with a touch of Gothic. She considered writing a tool, not a toy, until a stay in a haunted hotel and a bookcase full of dog-eared romances changed her mind. Hooked, Becca read old romances, new romances, both sexy and sweet, until her own tales begged to be written.

Living in Florida, Becca divides her time between dreaming up stories, diving deep into history, kayaking, and swimming. Her husband gives her the space she needs by fishing in the mangroves and waterways, or watching football (the English sort) with his British buddies. Becca and her hubby break the routine with adventure travel; though, at heart, Becca is a homebody believing there is no greater playground than inside the mind.

Today she shares with us how her characters took over. And she is offering a giveaway... her book Summerton, so comment and leave your email! 
Lost in the storytelling: How characters take charge
by Becca St. John

My dirty little secret? Lord Stephen’s Lady by Janette Radcliffe, also known as Janet Louise Roberts, turned me into a Regency junky. Yes, I know, all good Regency authors adore Jane Austin, and I do, but Lord Stephen was the first straight-out romance I ever read. Since that first reading, I have craved the wit, the intrigue and, of course, the intricacies of Regency society.

What I hadn’t expected was the similarity between getting lost in reading a Regency and writing one. As you read, you immerse yourself in another world, solely designed by the author. On the other side of that, one would expect the author dutifully sets about to flush out a story with characters behaving exactly as the author pre-determined in an outline.

Except, characters are dreadfully stubborn. The cheeky devils have wills of their own.
They lure authors down difficult, unanticipated, paths, until the storyteller is as lost in the story as any reader could be. Worse, the characters are always right! It’s humbling.

Lady Eleanor played me like the proverbial fiddle. Stately, imperturbable, she entered the first draft of my Regency romance, Summerton, as a very minor character. With succinct remarks and pithy barbs, she nudged the young couple beyond their differences. What luck! I’d unearthed an elderly aunt with a delightful penchant for matchmaking. She needed to stay in the story.

A quarter of the way into the book, the romance took another unexpected turn: Lady Summerton’s abigail is murdered in her lady’s stead.  Lord Summerton is determined to protect his wife. Lady Summerton is just as determined to defend him. As the take their stances, neither wholly trusting the other, Lady Eleanor unearths the killer.
Apparently, she’d been solving crimes for decades. Nobody bothered to tell me this when I set out to write the book.  Characters are sneaky like that. But Lady Eleanor made her point.  She transformed a minor character into a series. A simple Regency romance, Summerton, took on mystery overtones with a female sleuth and created  Summerton - Lady Eleanor Mysteries book 1.

If you haven’t met this formidable woman, think Jane Austen meets Agatha Christie in mid-nineteenth century England. At least, the first two books take place in England. After that the series changes course and … Oh, dear … another twist in the path.

It came about in a short scene in The Gatehouse, book 2 in the series. It’s after dinner in a grand home. The ladies have left the men to their port. French doors are open to the terrace outside. Chandeliers, crystals glittering, illuminate the table, aided by candles in ornate candelabras.
The atmosphere is casual, smoke curling in the air, men leaning back in their chairs having discussed, in this instance, murder.  One gentleman leans over to Lord Bentwood, and asks a question that sets the dominoes toppling.

“What were you speaking to Lady Eleanor about?”

It turns out Lord Bentwood, a character in The Gatehouse, had invited Lady Eleanor on a trip to the Far East. He’s just learned his sister is there and has gone missing. He hoped Lady Eleanor would help him find her. During the exchange we learn that Bentwood loves his wife but believes she has always loved another man. A man she would have married if Bentwood hadn’t interfered. 

In one short scene, without plan, which would pose a problem later, book 3 was born.
Knowing nothing of the “Far East” I headed there, for three months’ worth of research. Total immersion in a world of temples, dynasties and, better yet, historical intrigue. Lower wives murdering those of a higher order, concubines drawing danger by earning too much attention and the ever-faithful eunuchs willing to do anything for the women they protect.

Back home, with piles of notes and even more ideas, that problem mentioned above? It re-emerged. This is 1816. The telegraph hadn’t come into use, the telephone not yet imagined. There were no steamboats or railroads to quicken travel. The missive Lord Bentwood received about his missing sister would have taken a good six months to reach him. Double that time for this trio, Lady Eleanor and Lord and Lady Bentwood, to reach the Far East. The story is unbelievable. Or is it?

This is where the author takes charge, dictates and molds the story to make it work. But let’s not spoil the chance to get lost in the reading. The Journey – Lady Eleanor Mysteries book 3 will be released in the summer of 2018.  There you can find out why Lady Eleanor was willing, even eager, to take such a long arduous journey, how much danger lurks aboard a ship and what the trio will do to sort it out, and experience both the best, and the worst, of Lord and Lady Bentwood.  

From there, the series will carry on with love knotted in impossible tangles, more exotic ports, strange lands and intriguing customs. At some point, Lady Eleanor will find her new home, far from the early days in England.

In the meantime, get acquainted with Lady Eleanor in the first two books of the series; Summerton and The Gatehouse.

Ta for now. I’m off diving into another story, sailing the high seas amid murder, and unrequited love. No telling where this will lead … 

Becca has a question for you: 
The first Regency romance I read was Lord Stephen’s Lady by Janette Radcliffe. What was yours? Let me know for the chance to win a copy of Summerton.

He married for money, she wed by force. Neither considered love part of the bargain.

On the brink of losing everything, the Duke of Summerton marries heiress Caroline Howlett, but at what cost? She wants neither his crumbling estate nor his title, and what is he, as a man, without them? Before he can resolve this dilemma, something more dangerous than doubt threatens their marriage.

When Caroline said she’d rather be dead than married to the duke, she hadn’t meant it literally. Forced into marriage by her guardian, Caroline doesn’t give a fig for the idle life of the aristocracy. She wants to run her father’s enterprises, and she will, once dead bodies stop getting in the way.

Aided by Summerton's widowed aunt, amateur sleuth Lady Eleanor, the duke and his reluctant bride scramble to discover just who is trying to kill them.

Buy on Amazon.

Keep up with Becca on her Website, Facebook, Twitter.


  1. So much fun getting lost! Thanks for having me!

  2. Thank you for visiting us here at GLIAS . The book sounds so good. In fact if it is a print book it will sound wonderful! ptclayton2@aol.com

  3. can't remember

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  4. Hey Becca! I love to hear an author talk about the characters leading you or talking to you. I think that is amazing and such a gift. I cannot remember my first historical but I think it was Victoria Holt or Phyllis A Whitney. This story sounds good and would love to read. Thank you Jude and nice to meet you Becca!

  5. Congratulations to the three who commented... Becca has decided to give her book to all three of you!

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Sorry just realized this is closed already
    Shared on twitter before I noticed