After several days of holiday sloth, I have finally gotten up off the couch where I sat eating peppermint brownies and watching my new Mamma Mia! DVD for days. I turned in my latest book, and put away the Christmas decorations. And now I’m celebrating the release of High Seas Stowaway, the third in my “Renaissance Heroes Trilogy,” by sitting down with my heroine Bianca Simonetti in her island tavern for a mojito and a chat…

“Smell the salt spray, feel the deck beneath your feet, and hoist the Jolly Roger as McCabe takes you on an entertaining, romantic ride!” — RomanticTimes Book Reviews

Amanda: Hola, Bianca! It’s so nice to see you again. It’s been a while! How have you been?

Bianca: Quite well, no thanks to you! I’m fortunate to be here at all after everything you put me through. Tavern brawls, duels on desert islands, shipwrecks, pirates, sex in tiny ship’s cabins…

A: Now, that can’t have been all that bad! The lack of space surely meant more–innovation.

B: Well, aye, maybe that part wasn’t so bad. There are certainly some interesting positions to try in a berth. And it’s amusing to watch my shirtless amor Balthazar climb the rigging!

A: Exactly. The reviewer at RT says you jumped into bed with Balthazar too fast to be plausible.

B: What calumny!

A: Hey, I didn’t say it! What do you think about that?

B: Ha! Have you seen Balthazar?

A: Of course! I invented him, remember? And I do see your point.

B: I was in love with him for years before we met again here in Hispaniola. Every girl in Venice was!

A: You didn’t part well, though, did you? Way back then?

B: That was yet another trial you put me through! Making me fall in love with him, then parting us so cruelly and making me think I hated him. It was his father who was the villain, after all, not him. Want another mojito?

A: Thanks! It’s very yummy, considering they won’t be invented for a few more centuries.

B: I only have the best Santo Domingo rum here in my tavern. It’s why I made such a success of it.

A: So, you came here to open a tavern after you ran away from Venice.

B: After a few detours. I traveled, married, worked, was widowed…

A: But you never forgot Balthazar. Hey, that is not an easy name to say after a mojito!

B: Here, have some more. Nay, I never forgot Balthazar. But you know that, having invented him and everything. He must be your dream man, too.

A: Sure. A lot of Orlando, a little Johnny Depp, a dash of Hugh Jackman. A difficult youth he had to overcome, intelligence, strength, a fiercely protective instinct toward his true love…

B: Plus a great fleet of ships, and his own tropical island! And he certainly knows how to handle that, er, astrolabe.

A: (giggling) Okay, what’s in this drink anyway?

B: Our good Santo Domingo rum, sugar from our mills, lime juice, mint–and this odd bubbling concoction you brought with you.

A: Club soda!

B: It’s wondrous stuff. Want another?

A: Why not? It’s not every day I get to sit down with my own character! I like your velvet gown, by the way.

B: Thank you–we’re doing quite well now that Balthazar has finally settled down!

A: Lucky you!

B: Thanks to you and these HEAs. Where did you find the idea for my tale, anyway?

A: Well, when I first met Balthazar in Marc and Julietta’s story, A Notorious Woman, I knew I wanted to know more about him! He was very young and very angry for a man so handsome and so priviliged. That’s when I found out how much he hated his father’s evil-ness, and how much he wanted to explore the world and make his own fortune. I just didn’t know what kind of woman he needed…

B: Until you met me!

A: Exactly! He needed a woman who would stand up to him, and not melt at his feet like every other lady in the world. A woman he could build a life with. I knew that would be you, despite your, er, rocky beginning with him. Plus I’ve always been fascinated by the early European New World. I wanted to find out more about it, and it seemed the perfect place for Balthazar.

B: And did you visit any island taverns like this one when you were discovering our tale?

A: Sadly, no. No beaches or tiki bars or anything fun like that. But I did visit Jamestown with my friend Diane Gaston, where we toured ships of almost the same design of Balthazar’s Calypso, and so I was able to create the love scenes accurately…

B: Well, I am most grateful for that! Another mojito?

A: I don’t mind if I do! Will you join me?

B: Happily! Salut, signorina. And good fortune for our book!

(That’s not the end of our launch weekend! Join us tomorrow when I share more research tidbits and favorite sources for High Seas Stowaway. I’ll give away a signed copy to one commenter this weekend! HSS is on shelves now, or available at Next week I will be at eharlequin with a Talk Like A Pirate-style chat week, be sure and join me there! Or join me January 15–my birthday!–at History Hoydens and Unusual Historicals. Excerpts and research info can be found at my own website, too…)