Rancor Bass...How did he get that name? Guest Blogger: M.S. Spencer #BlogMondays #MondayBlogs #GuestAuthor

Thank you so much for having Rancor, Charity, and me at your lovely site, J. C.! Today I’d like to talk about Rancor Bass, scion of the Bass family of Maine.  

Midcoast Maine is the setting for several of my books, including the Penhallow Train Incident. The Pit and the Passion: Murder at the Ghost Hotel, my new cozy mystery romance, is set on the Gulf Coast of Florida. But the hero--Rancor Bass—comes from Camden, Maine. Here he explains some of his family history to Charity, our heroine.
“The Basses go way back. The first Michael Bass settled in York in 1623, and several Basses fought in the French and Indian war. They were paid in pelts. One Ferdinand Bass opened a clothing store specializing in furs in 1746, and the family has lived there ever since.”
“Are you still in furs?”
“Oh no. By the turn of the century—that’s the eighteenth century—several ancestors had branched out into the hospitality industry. We kept taverns along the post road in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Then in the late 1870s, Old Robert—my great great grandfather—bought his first hotel from some guy named Biltmore. Today, we have boutique inns here in Florida, Seattle, and San Francisco.” He paused, his brow furrowed. “I think there’s one in Chicago too. But we’re still based in Maine.”

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. 

In this excerpt Rancor explains to Charity how he came by his rather peculiar name.

Excerpt (G): Family Ties
Charity continued to muse. “Of course, Rancor has to be a pen name. It’s much too outlandish to be real.”
He poured more wine. “Au contraire, ma petite. It is my real name.”
“Really? Rancor? Someone in the family detested you on sight? I guess that’s not so surprising.”
“Not exactly.”
She took the bottle from him and peered into his face. His eyes were clouded. Have I pinked an old wound? “Tell me.”
He glanced at her serious face and assumed a lighthearted air. “My father named me. You see, I was the sixth child in what was supposed to be a childless marriage.”
“On purpose?”
“Oh yes. My father had renounced offspring. His father had abandoned his wife and children when Dad was two. Ran off with a lady of the night, according to family lore. Never heard from him again. My grandmother died soon after he left, and my great grandparents took my father and his sister, my Aunt Gertrude, in. As a result, Dad swore he’d never reproduce.”
“And then he met your mother.”
“Clara Pendleton was the mayor’s daughter. She had auburn hair”—he reached out to touch Charity’s braid—“much like yours. Smart as a whip. She intended to go to New York to teach or, failing that, become a star of the stage.”
“Indeed. And lovely. He once wrote that her breasts were like moons, her eyes like stars, and her vagina like a lotus.”
“He didn’t.”
“He did. Where do you think I get my way with words?” He grinned.
“So, he…wait, what was his name?”
“Yup. Another gift from his splenetic dad. According to Auntie, Grandpa refused to pass on the family name of Robert.”
“So, Rupert fell in love with Clara. I take it she changed his mind about having progeny?”
“No, never. She just kept having them. Gave them all names beginning with R. Rupert Jr., then Rebecca, Rothschild—Mother thought the banking family exceedingly romantic—Rose, and Rory.”
“And Rancor.”
“That came later. Rory was five years my senior. My father thought himself well out of it. Then along came this squawling boy child with a shock of luxuriant hair the color of freshly turned Delta soil and a penis the size of Long Island.”
The unfortunate Donna appeared at the table as he pronounced these last words and dropped the water pitcher. She knelt to mop up the spill and managed to rise just as Rancor stood up, thus finding herself nose to nose with the aforementioned organ. Charity felt sorry for her. That blush must really hurt.
“Will there, will there be anything else…sir?”
“Thanks. She’ll take the check.” He waved at Charity. “I need to pee.”
The two women watched the tight jeans walk away, gulping in unison.
Charity didn’t have a chance to resume her interrogation until they returned to her apartment. When she dropped her sweater on the back of the couch, Rancor picked it up and took it to the closet before heading into the kitchen.
“You hadn’t finished about your birth…I mean childhood.” Moving on for now, if only for Donna’s sake.
He returned with two glasses. Handing one to her, he observed, “The last of the Glenlivet. You might want to pop into the liquor store tomorrow.”
Mind-boggling. “Your childhood?”
“Yes, well, Father was not amused by the arrival of said infant. He claimed it was Clara’s revenge for his negative attitude. Or was it for the fireworks he set off when Clara told him Rory would be the last?” His upper lip twisted. “According to Mother, he picked me up by the scruff of my neck, shook me, and declared me to be the spawn of her rancor. Hence the name. I am eternally grateful he didn’t name me ‘Spite.’ ”
Charity found herself at a loss for words. Rancor interpreted her silence as an invitation to take her in his arms, spilling both their drinks. “Rancor!”
“Damn. Now you’ll have to go out immediately for more whiskey. Do you want me to accompany you?” “No.” The man is utterly oblivious.
“All right. I’ll wait for you here.” He poured what was left of the whiskey into one of the glasses and knocked it off. When she made no move toward the door, he sighed. “I guess it can wait.” An unproductive pause later, he sighed again. “But enough about me. What about you? Did you finish the article?”
“I have a single column drafted on the discovery, with more to follow. I sure hope we hear from Captain Kelly tonight.”
He checked his watch. “It’s almost eight o’clock. Don’t expect anything today. Also, tomorrow is Sunday, and somehow I doubt the good professor works on the Sabbath.”
She said uncharitably, “Well, it’s a sure bet he doesn’t go to church.”
“However, I do. I noticed the Longboat Chapel has a service at ten. Care to join me?” Her jaw dropped.
“I’ll consider that a yes.” He stretched. “I’m going to take a shower.” His fingers grazed her breast. “Early to bed, you know.”
After a suitable interval, she followed him. The rest of the night went pretty much like the night before had.
Only upside down and backward.

The Wild Rose Press, January 22, 2018 (Crimson Rose)
Mystery, Humorous/Romantic Comedy
Rating: PG13
418 p.; 97370 words

Buy Links:

About the Author:
Although M. S. Spencer has lived or traveled in five of the seven continents, the last thirty years were spent mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, policy wonk, non-profit director, and parent. After many years in academia, she worked for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Department of the Interior, in several library systems, both public and academic, and at the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
Ms. Spencer has published eleven romantic suspense novels, and has two more in utero. She has two fabulous grown children and an incredible granddaughter. She divides her time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.



  1. Thanks so much for having Rancor, Charity and me on your beautiful site today. I hope your readers enjoy the excerpt!

    1. You’re welcome! Thanks for being my guest :-)

  2. I wondered about that name. And I love the character! Looking forward to reading this one!

  3. I can't resist a story set in the Florida Keys. And getting to know Rancor is a bonus. :)
    Wishing you all the best.

    1. Love Florida. The setting in The Pit & the Passion is of course a Gulf Coast key--Florida has keys on every coast--all beautiful. Thanks for reading!

    2. I’ve never been to Florida, so I love to read about it - makes me feel like I’m there, you know? Thanks for visiting!

  4. I love the name. Thanks for sharing with us.

  5. Rancor is an intriguing character. I enjoyed learning more about him. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I don't usually admit it in case my other heroes are listening, but I love Rancor! Thanks for reading.

    2. Very intriguing. I can already tell he’s a complex character :-)

  6. Sounds like an exciting story! Best of luck, M. S.

  7. Rancor is an interesting character! Sounds like a fun read! Best of luck!!

  8. Thank you everyone for stopping by and most of all for reading! M. S.


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