Today, I’m continuing my series of character spotlights as we near the release of my historical romance novel, Wrong Line, Right Connection. This second installment introduces the love story’s gentle yet persistent hero, Roy Stentz.
Like Mabel, Roy was a dear family friend and Mabel’s real-life other half—but don’t ask them who was the better one! In reality, the couple met through the Lonely Hearts section in the newspaper and became pen pals, with her in Louisville, Kentucky and him in Wakeman, Ohio. They married in May 1959 at Niagara Falls.
Roy was pretty quiet and allowed his wife to do most of the talking. During my mom’s time of cleaning at their house, though, she observed his witty side and how he could hold his own with dynamic Mabel. On one occasion, Mabel found her old swimsuit and decided, in her words, “to give Roy a thrill.” In her seventies at the time, she sauntered out and modeled it for her husband, who looked up at her and dryly remarked, “What do you want me to do? Go out and set the hose on you?”
While Mabel was “Grandma Mabel” to my sister, Anna and me, he was our “Grampy Roy.” We didn’t get to have much of a relationship with either of our biological grandfathers, so Grampy Roy filled that void, especially for Anna. He’d hold her on his lap while Mom worked, and being a musician, he played the Mary Poppins soundtrack for her as he twirled his hand like a conductor.
Sadly, he died when I was just shy of two, before he and I could make many memories, and it hurts me that I don’t have vivid recollection of him at all. He’s always been kept alive, however, by memories of my family. I’m told he called me his “Little Sweetie Pie,” a nickname I cherish. I was also privileged to have a collection of his love letters he sent Mabel in the weeks leading up to their wedding, which helped me to sculpt his character.
To give you a feel for the Roy of Wrong Line, Right Connection, here’s a letter from him to his son, Gregory, which does not appear in the novel.
Character Spotlight: Mabel Jennings
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