Friday, January 29, 2016

Can Mr. Wrong Become Mr. Right? Choose your Favorite of Camilla's Unsuitable Suitors

The Camilla Mysteries feature perennially down-and-out former socialite Camilla Randall. I love writing about Camilla because she's so different from me. She’s an ultra-polite New York fashionista who’s a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong. (More about the real-life debutante who inspired her in my post "Why Camilla Randall?")

Me, I'm an old hippie who tends to use more four-letter words than I should. I live in a blue-collar small town on the coast of California. I'm partial to Crocs, sweatshirts, and stretchy jeans. My life is peacefully boring.

Camilla and I have one thing in common, though: we both make bad choices when it comes to romance. I won't say that the men in my life haven't taken me on excellent adventures, but I discovered some time ago that I'm happier living solo.

Camilla, on the other hand, is still looking for love in all the wrong places.

In the prequel to the series, The Best Revenge, we see Camilla as a teenaged New York debutante. While she's being interviewed in a trendy restaurant by the condescending reporter Jonathan Kahn, she sees her current boyfriend—a "Eurotrash" prince—with another woman, supermodel Regina (a cameo by the heroine of my comic thriller Food of Love.)

Camilla quickly gets over Prince Aldo, and proceeds to fall in love with the arrogant, but oh-so-sexy Jonathan Kahn.

But in Ghostwriters in the Sky, she's in the middle of a messy divorce from Jonathan and meets the charming L.A.P.D. captain, Maverick Jesus Zukowski, and they seem to be headed toward a happy ending.

But by the beginning of Sherwood, Ltd, Camilla's long-distance romance with Captain Zukowski has fizzled and Camilla falls for Peter Sherwood, the enigmatic, Robin-Hood-like figure who runs her UK publishing company. But she has to deal with the small problem that he may be trying to kill her.

In No Place Like Home, Camilla meets her most unlikely suitor, Mr. X, a.k.a. Ronzo (Ronson V. Zolek.) He's charming and brave, but he's a New Jersey boy and she's now living in California. 

Jonathan might look like '80s Jeff Goldblum
In So Much for Buckingham, Camilla reunites with two of her former suitors. (I'm not telling which ones: spoilers.)

I haven't decided who she will end up with in book #6, which has the working title The Queen of Staves. Maybe she'll have a whole new love interest.

Readers, if you have a favorite among Camilla's suitors, I'd love to hear from you in the comments. Vote for the one you'd like to see more of! 

Jonathan KahnThis is how Camilla describes Jonathan at their first meeting:  "He had a profile special-ordered from Mount Olympus, a tanned, muscular body, and quantities of unruly black hair that a stylist would die to tame."
Or maybe Jon Hamm? 

Jonathan was a dedicated newspaper reporter, but he fell from grace when his success as a Geraldo-Rivera-style TV muckraker went to his head. And, um, other parts. He got caught up in a hooker scandal, and established a serious relationship with Jack Daniels. His relationship with Marva, aka Mistress Nightshade almost got a lot of people killed.Last heard from, he was drinking his way through the dive bars of Southeast Asia. 

But what if he got sober? Could he and Camilla finally reconcile? He says he still loves her.

Jimmy Smits could play Rick
Captain Maverick Jesus "Rick" Zukowski—Rick is a tall, Mexican-Polish L.A. policeman. He also writes novels (not very good ones.) He has overcome a difficult childhood and a street-gang past. He never quite recovered from the death of his wife and has some anger management issues. 

On the other hand, he's honorable and kind, with a great sense of humor, a "scrumptious smile" and "warm brown eyes." Camilla says "He had a brotherly/boy next door manner that made me feel safe."

Rick and Camilla couldn't keep up a bi-coastal relationship, and eventually he leaves her for "a sweet vice detective named Lola". 

But what if it never worked out with Lola? Could Rick and Camilla click again, now that she lives in California, too?

Peter might look like Peter O'Toole
Peter Sherwood—Peter is a charming Englishman with a murky past and a less-than-reliable moral compass. He's wiry and "good-looking, in an unkempt, What-Not-To-Wear sort of way: Oxford don meets Pirate of the Caribbean." 

It's rumored he won his publishing company in a poker game. Some people think he has an aristocratic background, but it's more likely he grew up poor in the English Midlands. 

The staff at Sherwood, Ltd. are loyal to him, but they're also aware of his faults. He has a habit of disappearing for months—or years—at a time. 

But he saves Camilla's life more than once, and protects her when everything around her is chaos. Did he really die when his yacht went down off Jamaica? 

Ronzo's a Jersey Boy like Jon Bon Jovi

Ronson V. Zolek a.k.a. Ronzo—Ronzo's Croatian immigrant parents died when he was young. He was raised in a Newark slum by his grandmother. He's a jack of all trades and full of contradictions. 

He's a music blogger for Rolling Stone who also works as a detective for a law firm. He has a Tony Soprano accent, but his manners are impeccable. He's an easy-going rock and roll guy and also an Iraq War veteran. 

He seems to have a lot of compassion for the homeless and loves small animals...or does he? He's famous for his butt tattoo of a Stratocaster guitar. Camilla finds him irresistible, and thinks he looks like Jon Bon Jovi. But is he a good guy or a bad guy? 

People tell Plant he looks like Leslie Howard
Plantagenet Smith—Through all the stories, Camilla's one constant is her best friend, the bisexual playwright, Plant Smith. Early in their friendship, they have a romantic relationship, but it doesn't last long. 

Plant was an orphan raised in poverty, but he earned a scholarship to Princeton and re-invented himself as a blue-blood by changing his name from John Smith and befriending Camilla's wealthy debutante set. He becomes an Oscar-winning screenwriter, but he seems to be as unlucky in love as Camilla, until he meets California businessman Silas Ryder. They marry, in a big wedding planned by Camilla, but the relationship is rocky.

In So Much for Buckingham, Plant finally gets his own voice and tells the story himself in chapters that alternate with Camilla's narration. He also gets accused of murder when he discovers the body of a young historical reenactor playing the Duke of Buckingham in the Old Hall at "Swynsby-on-Trent".

So readers, which one of Camilla's unsuitable suitors do you like best? Do you want to see any of them reappear? What kind of man do you think Camilla could find happiness with? 

News: I'm currently recording the audiobook of So Much for Buckingham with narrator C.S. Perryess reading Plantagenet Smith's chapters.

THE BEST REVENGE: The prequel (Camilla Mystery #3)

When Camilla Randall, a 1980s New York debutante, is assaulted by her mother’s fiancĂ©, smeared in the newspapers by a sexy muckraking journalist, then loses all her money in the Savings and Loan Scandal, she seeks refuge with her gay best friend in California. But her friend has developed heterosexual tendencies and an inconvenient girlfriend, so Camilla has to move in with wild-partying friends. When a TV star ends up dead after one of their parties, Camilla is arrested for his murder. She must turn to a friendly sanitation worker, a dotty octogenarian neighbor and the muckraking journalist who ridiculed her--who also happens to be her boss. 

The Best Revenge is 99c until February 1st at all the Amazons. It's also available at SmashwordsKoboGoogle Play AppleNOOK, and  Page Foundry (Inktera)

"…while laugh-out-loud funny, [The Best Revenge] carries a message about how we view ourselves and how others' views of us may conflict, yet make us grow."...composer Richard Alan Corson


  1. I think it's great you can troll the real-world idols to come up with faces for characters. We've all wanted to cast the movie of our tales, I guess... personally I cannot see Goldblum as Kahn, he clearly has too much nice in his face- needs a squarer jaw like Smits and the ability to drop all humanity off his mug. I guess I could see Plantagenet as Leslie Howard, but for the voice I keep hearing the wonderful fellow who plays Jarvis in Iron Man and now on Agent Carter (he's way too thin to play him though).
    But stop ducking- what does Camilla look like? Don't you have any thoughts on that!

  2. Will--Thanks for weighing in. I always pictures Jonathan looking like Jeff Goldblum when I wrote him in The Best Revenge. I wrote Ghostwriters later. Maybe in that one he'd look more like John Hamm on a bender. :-) I'll have to look at the guy from Agent Carter again. Hmmm.

    I've said Camilla looks like Gwyneth Paltrow, but I first envisioned her being played by an actress named Bess Armstrong, who had a couple of short-lived series in the 1980s, and happens to be my cousin. I'll have to see if there's a photo of her I can use.

    1. That's supposed to be "pictured" of course, not "pictures". I'm spoiled now because I can edit comments at Wordpress, but not here.

  3. I gotta go with Jimmy Smits. Because, well, it's Jimmy Smits! And I like Rick as a character. One of Camilla's better choices, in my humble, married to the same man for 35 years, opinion! Ha!

    1. Christine--Thanks for voting for Captain Rick. I think he might be the most honorable of Camilla's bad boyfriends. I've been wondering if she might bump into him again!

  4. I'm with Christine on Smits being a great call for Rick. Funny - though the ethnicity doesn't fly, I always saw Jonathan played by Gerlado Rivera -- the bad mojo matches well.

    1. Charlie--Jonathan's personality matches Geraldo, all right. But he's half Jewish, which I guess is why I always saw him as looking like Goldblum. But Will says he needs a squarer jaw, so Jon Hamm might be a better choice.

  5. I like Jeff Goldblum as Jonathon. And Camilla's love interests sound a lot like mine. Here's a little something to throw at Camilla in the next book-- what about a YOUNGER man. She's had all these crazy lovers, how about a younger one? That would keep her crazy.

    1. Anne--Thanks for stopping by! You see I'm breaking my own rule about multiple blogs. :-) I'm glad you like Jeff Goldblum. He's a hero in The Best Revenge. It's only later that he loses his "nice guy" side.

      Ronzo IS younger. And Ronzo will definitely be back, even if he's not Mr. Right. He's in his mid-30s and Camilla is turning the big 4-0 in book six. So I'm glad you approve!