Whirlwind Romance

A rush of emotion dropped a veil over all but the tiny world of the two people in seats 11A and 11B, in a jet plane floating somewhere over the Atlantic, in a still moment in time.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Merry Christmas from Milo and Tristram!

Recently widowed Milo Everhart isn’t prepared for Tristram Brodie, who wants not only her beloved Torpedo Factory Art Center but her heart. Nor is she prepared to find a dead body that snowy December night.  Can she set aside her grief and fall in love before the murderer strikes again?



Hey good readers! I’m celebrating the holidays with an excerpt from Artful Dodging: the Torpedo Factory Murders—mystery, suspense, romance—we witness a difficult moment in the growing love between Milo and Tristram. Milo, heroine of Artful Dodging, lost her Marine pilot husband in a freak accident on an aircraft carrier a year earlier. She is not prepared to fall in love and worries that if she does, her memories of Michael, her dead husband, will evaporate. The guilt interferes with her growing attachment to Tristram. As she begins to fall, he confesses something that makes accepting new romance even harder.

Milo's street at Christmas


Artful Dodging: the Torpedo Factory Murders, takes place in Old Town Alexandria, an historic cobblestoned city on the Potomac River. It follows the adventures of several artists at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, an old munitions plant on the waterfront, which today it houses 82 studios, the Art League, the Friends of the Torpedo Factory, and an Archaeology center. Old Town is now a vibrant hub for restaurants and the arts. Galleries—including the Torpedo Factory—abound. Milo and Tristram meet by chance in one of the more frequented Irish pubs, O’Connell’s.

Wild Rose Press, 7/20/2016; Imprint Crimson Rose 
Theme(s): Mystery/Cozy Mystery
Contemporary romantic Suspense, M/F, 2 flames
Ebook, 66,830 words; Print 268 p. 


Blurb:
It’s just before Christmas, and Milo Everhart has two needlepoint stockings, a cross-stitch purse, and three canvases to finish for her clients. Waiting out the rain in a pub, she is captivated by the handsome man next to her, but blocking the road to romance are two mysterious corpses who turn up in the tower of her Torpedo Factory Art Center. As if that weren’t enough, a second crisis erupts—a proposal to gut her beloved Art Center. 

Tristram Brodie, hard-driving corporate lawyer and former Marine, is focused on his plan to convert the Torpedo Factory into a box store. He is drawn to the beautiful woman sitting next to him, but their mutual attraction will be frustrated by both the murders and his intentions. As they edge closer to love, they must find a way to overcome both their differences and the still-fresh memory of her late husband. 

Where Milo meets Tristram


Milo, heroine of Artful Dodging, lost her Marine pilot husband in a freak accident on an aircraft carrier a year earlier. She is not prepared to fall in love and worries that if she does, her memories of Michael, her dead husband, will evaporate. The guilt interferes with her growing attachment to Tristram. As she begins to fall, he confesses something that makes accepting new romance even harder.


Excerpt (G): Confession

A luxurious shower later, she dressed and followed the aroma of maple syrup and melted butter down the stairs. Tristram had coffee and juice ready and plopped two large pancakes on her plate. She savored a few quiet, cozy minutes before the silence grew slightly uncomfortable. Milo knew Tristram expected an explanation for her erratic behavior. She tried a couple of different openings in her head but nothing sounded right.
“Tristram?”
“Yes, love?”
“The other night when you left in a huff?”
“Y…es.” He opened his mouth and closed it. She knew he struggled with the desire to correct her and loved him for not indulging it.
“It had nothing to do with the box store or Doyle or the Factory. I…I let you think that.”
“I see.” He took a sip of coffee. “Then what is it?”
“I…um…I think I may have mentioned I’m a widow?”
Milo had never seen a jaw drop quite that dramatically. “A widow? No. In fact, you haven’t told me anything about your past.”
“I…guess it didn’t come up.” She gazed pleadingly at him. “Michael—my husband—died a year ago. He was a Marine…” Tristram blinked. “A Marine pilot. Assigned to an aircraft carrier. On a routine training flight, his…his plane flipped on landing. He…died instantly.”
Tristram said nothing but pulled a can of dog food out and began to fill a dish. Facing away from her he mumbled, “I’m sorry, Milo.”
She moved to him and put a hand on his arm. “It’s okay. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. It hasn’t been an easy year. It…it…seemed too soon for another relationship. I thought…my feelings were…wicked.” When he swung around, Milo saw with surprise that his eyes were wet with unspilled tears. “What is it?”
“You should have told me. I feel like a heel. I shouldn’t have pressed you. It’s just—”
“Just what?”
He pushed his plate aside, sat down, and put his head in his hands. His voice came low and muffled. “Milo, I wanted you from the first moment I saw you. You are the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen, and I couldn’t wait to make love to you. You were right, you know—I purposely didn’t mention my client because I knew you’d hate me for it. And I didn’t ask you any questions because I didn’t want to hear anything that would keep us from being together. If I could pretend you were unattached—implausible though it seemed for a woman as perfect as you—I could pursue you without guilt. I couldn’t bear the idea that you were unavailable. Not after I’d been alone so long.”
Most of his words filled her with comfort, as though she’d heard them before in a dream. He is my savior. But before she could draw him into her arms, his last sentence penetrated and she stopped.
“What do you mean, alone so long?”
He raised his eyes to hers, his face sheathed in sadness. “I lost my wife five years ago. We’d only been married three months. She was a Foreign Service specialist based in Saõ Paulo. I’d just been posted to the Marine Corps liaison office in the Senate, and she’d wangled a transfer to Washington, but had to return to Brazil for some final paperwork. Her plane crashed on the way there. A hundred and eighty-seven people died.”
The homey little kitchen scene collapsed like a flimsy stage set. She knew it was irrational, but instead of feeling sympathy for his pain, his story rekindled all her grief over Michael. Her eyes blurred as she went back in time to the day she’d kissed him goodbye for the last time. They’d laughed through the tears, promising each other special gifts and favors when he came back on leave. She’d waved him off wearing nothing but a crimson bow in her hair, Michael grinning in that lopsided, endearing way he had. When she went back upstairs, a Hershey kiss lay on the night table, a token of his love. She’d scarfed it down, thinking she had no reason to save it. He’ll give me many more. After Colonel Murray left that awful day, she had walked in a trance to the candy store on Fairfax Street, where she bought a five-pound box of Hershey kisses. She put them in a crystal bowl on his side of the four-poster, and there they lay still.
Too many deaths. Too many lost loves. She backed out into the living room, grabbed her purse and coat, and made a run for it. She heard him call but knew he wouldn’t come after her. We both need to sort this out. Alone.
She made it home without incident. The desk clerk called to her as she passed, but she waved him off. What I need is a long bath. And a hot cry.


Buy Links:
Bookstrand: http://www.bookstrand.com/artful-dodging-the-torpedo-factory-murders-0

Friday, December 16, 2016

Fireworks Above & Below: Catherine and Holden


 
Catherine Killean is a woman on a mission. When her new husband disappears, leaving a suicide note, she is determined to find out why. She follows his tracks first to the North Woods of Maine, then to Florida, and back again to Maine. Along the way, she meets the tall, dark, gruff Holden Taggart, a Maine guide.

In her doubt and loneliness she is drawn to Holden, leaving her confused and adrift. What will happen when her questions about Jonathan are finally answered? Will old loyalty or new love triumph?

I Heart Book Publishing, June 6, 2016
Ebook: words; Print: 227 p.
Contemporary romantic suspense, M/F, 2 flames


Excerpt (PG): Fireworks Above and Below

The sky was still that queerish gray of autumn in the high north, but they could see clouds racing across it, forming castles or pretending to be mountains, alternately obscuring and liberating the moon. At the pier they piled into a van and headed toward the noise.
Franz called from the front of the bus, “Rockwood is actually quite small. The population waxes and wanes with the seasons, but there are never more than a thousand people in residence now that the timber industry has bypassed us.”
Sarah craned her neck out the window. “It looks as though the entire village is outside tonight.”
Holden pointed at the British, Canadian, and American flags flying from every lamp post. “Guy Fawkes Day is Rockwood’s favorite holiday.”
Franz laughed. “Probably because three-quarters of its citizens hail from across the border.”
Ivy pointed at a fat man dressed as Uncle Sam. “They don’t seem too picky about historical consistency.”
Leo nodded. “At any rate, they sure go all out.”
As Franz let them off and went to park the van, a band marched past, playing Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever. The crowd cheered. Al hacked and spat tobacco juice. “Do they all have to be so…patriotic?” He managed to make it sound pornographic. No one answered him.
Nathan and Bunny began to dance to the music. “It must be wonderful to be so in love,” sighed Sarah.
Catherine didn’t think so. Of course, she’d only been in love once, and the romance hadn’t lasted much past their wedding day. A month or so after the honeymoon, Jonathan began to withdraw from her. Catherine had no idea why. Over time he became more and more aloof. His behavior made Catherine so nervous she found herself blurting out inappropriate comments just to get a reaction from him. To her distress, his responses fell just short of hostile. Catherine’s sister Jane speculated that he was insecure about his new job. Her father thought he must be preoccupied with his research. Her best friend Evangeline averred he was gay and wouldn’t admit it. Whatever the reason, as the months went by, Jonathan turned increasingly inward, shutting her out. Catherine was distraught, then angry, then sad. Then he disappeared.
The music stopped, and the fireworks began with a vengeance.
Franz appeared. “Sorry folks, we forgot to pack the folding chairs. You’ll have to stand.”
“That’s okay!” Sarah spread her legs and tilted her head back.
Leo and Ivy crossed the street. “We can lean against that wall.”
Nathan and Bunny sat down on the curb. Catherine joined them. Rocket after rocket boomed, battering them with sound and light. At last the grand finale began—shower after shower of red, purple, and silver tendrils. She stood up and craned her neck. As the brilliant fountains shot higher, she leaned a little farther back. All of a sudden she began to fall backward, but before she could hit the ground, two strong hands gripped her shoulders, steadying her. She turned and found herself in Holden’s arms. He gazed at her, the gold sparkles of the cascading fireworks reflected in his eyes. Quickly, he bent down and brushed her lips with his, and just as quickly released her.
Catherine stood gaping at him, her mouth tingling. What was that all about? At that instant, the sky went dark. With a collective sigh the crowd began to disperse. She stood alone as people pushed past her.
Holden’s deep voice cut through the hubbub. “Mount Kineo Resort, over here.” She roused herself into motion and followed him to the van. On the return trip, the only sounds were those of Nathan and Bunny surreptitiously spooning in the rear seat, and stifled yawns from everyone else. As they limped off to bed, Catherine heard the professor ask Holden about Seboomook. She strained to hear his reply, but missed it. Please God, let’s go tomorrow. She needed to refocus on what she was here for, not on two gold-flecked brown eyes and a pair of full, sensitive lips.

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More on M. S. Spencer’s books can be found here:



Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas is for Second Chance Love


Come by L. M. Gonzalez’ wonderful site for an excerpt from my sweet Christmas story, Che Gelida Manina.

https://lmgonzalez.wordpress.com/2016/12/15/che-gelida-manina/

Grace is devastated by the loss of her husband—the most romantic person she has ever known—and is determined to avoid any contact with the things they had loved. She refuses to walk her beloved beach, or light candles under the stars, or listen to his favorite opera, La Bohème.
When she meets Edward, she insists that he abide by her wishes. He does without argument, but as the weeks go by, she begins to wonder if she's made a mistake. Will she let the chance of an unexpected happiness slip through her fingers? Will Edward?

The story is included in the Exquisite Quills 2015 Christmas anthology, Exquisite Christmas.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Joys of the Season Blog Hop

Hello and welcome to the Joys of the Season blog hop! Loads of wonderful authors will offer their holiday memories and stories for your enjoyment…as well as prizes! Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter contest for a chance to win a copy  of my romantic suspense Whirlwind Romance and other gifts.



When I was young our Christmases were full of ritual, joy, food, and family. We lived in a Victorian house with fifteen-foot ceilings. The dining room had a bow window that looked out on the sour cherry trees that lined the drive to the old stable. Back then tall Christmas trees were affordable even on a small income, so we filled the alcove with trees reminiscent of the one that grows in the Nutcracker.




The Foreigner tells the story of a strange being who brings the joy back into a family’s jaded Christmas. It's based in part on my favorite Christmases as a child. I wrote it many years ago. Here is an excerpt.

Excerpt: Christmas Past

The dream was filmy, like a sequence from Balanchine’s version of the Nutcracker.  I floated a few feet above the action, watching as the perfect Christmas unfolded.  In the kitchen my grandmother directed the basting of the turkey.  Hannah, the cook stirred the corn pudding in the open fireplace of my grandparents’ Colonial-era house, while my mother chopped cranberries in the Cuisinart (nobody ever said dreams couldn’t be anachronistic). The Vienna Boys Choir sang softly outside the window.  Their open upturned mouths spluttered now and then when snowflakes lodged in their throats.
My father was there, and Uncle Ed—both fresh from tennis and cheerfully shouting for hot buttered rum.  In his study my grandfather sat at his desk (as he does in all my pictures), but I noticed from my vantage point that he was sneaking Christmas candy from a bottom drawer.
I floated from the kitchen (an amalgam of my grandmother’s colonial open hearth and the Victorian one of my youth) to the living room, where the remains from Christmas stockings were scattered about—tangerines under chairs, a squished chocolate reindeer, a broken candy cane. I could hear scurrying around upstairs and children calling down, asking whether they could come yet or not.  At last came the booming voice of Uncle Ed.  “Christmas is served!”
I floated up out of the way just in time. My son Oliver sand my brother Tad shoved each other down the staircase. Oliver, being taller and thinner, squeezed past my brother. It seemed perfectly natural that they be the same age. Then came my sister Jane, pulling my daughter Rosie (dressed as usual in black), down the stairs.  I joined them in the living room, brought up short by a commanding hand.  My father looked us over, pronounced us adequate, and dramatically rolled open the French doors in the dining room.
Everyone stood frozen as I downloaded memories into the dream. Of course, there was no question which Christmas I would use. I had been about ten, and when the doors opened there was the desk on which I wanted to write so desperately.  Behind it leaned the bike I so desperately wanted to ride. And millions and millions of presents for everybody.  Oh, but in this dream, I also saw the red rocking horse behind the fifteen-foot tree, the one I’d sneaked down to see at age three…but that had been in a different house, longer ago—hadn’t it? And wasn’t that the electric train Tad had asked for when he was seven? He would go on to build a 200-square-foot country for it. And Jane’s record player—the first in the family. Rosie started toward the presents but Daddy shooed her away. He would dole out the presents one by one, in order of age. I thought in passing that this might be more difficult than usual considering the mixed generations, but decided not to worry about it.
Rosie came first, then Tad. As the presents were handed round, I watched comfortably. I had begun to understand the dream and was happily living out the mishmash of perfect Christmases, when the scene changed.

We are giving away prizes to two randomly selected winners: 1) an ebook bundle, including books in various genres by various authors participating in the hop (see the list of books at the bottom of this page); or 2) a $50 Amazon gift card. Please visit the main hop page here to see a list of books included in the bundle.

Enter now for your chance to win!




Participating Authors

  1. Anna Durand Spunk & Hunks
  2. Kayden Claremont
  3. Tricia Schneider
  4. Patricia Kiyono's blog
  5. KyAnn Waters Blog
  6. Beth Caudill Blog

  1. Tena Stetler
  2. DeeDee Lane
  3. Connie's Blog
  4. Mary Morgan's Blog
  5. Casi's Christmas Magic
  6. M.S. Spencer

Friday, December 2, 2016

Heads up for Christmas Blogs


Hi all you holiday gleemongers--a heads up about two wonderful blog hops I'm participating in.


December 4-17 I'm in the Joys of Christmas, brought to you by Spunks and Hunks. Lots of holiday stories and memories. You can read an excerpt from an unpublished story of mine called The Foreigner, in which a strange little man brings the joy back into a family's jaded Christmas. It's about all the favorite Christmases you remember from your childhood.








December 5-7 the lovely authors of the Highway Cafe have gotten together for an elf safari. Each author is an elf with a special job at the North Pole. My name is Puddle. Come find out what I do, and enter to win all kinds of prizes. See you here!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Wild Rose Holiday Cookbook Available NOW for FREE

Boys and girls, cats and kittens, and all of you who are old enough to wield a pot in the kitchen, head to The Wild Rose Press TODAY to get a FREE copy of the 2016 Holiday Garden Gourmet cookbook brought to you by the authors of the Wild Rose Press. This year we are featuring COMFORT FOODS for those long, warm nights before the fire, a mug in your hand and a hand in your other hand. This fantastic cookbook features two of my family recipes--Swedish Coffeebread (from my Swedish mother-in-law), a warm, cardamom-scented, buttery, braided bread, which my children insist on me making every Christmas--although last year my daughter decided to make it herself. We all had a good laugh. It's not as hard to make as the detailed instructions may appear!

The second recipe is for Zucchini 15th Street, a delicious concoction of zucchini and feta cheese that goes well with absolutely anything.

Download yours now here:
http://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/4819-2016-comfort-foods-holiday-garden-gourmet.html


Friday, November 18, 2016

Sex on the Stones-Triptych is at Dawn's Reading Nook Today

Do drop by Dawn’s Reading Nook today for a spicy excerpt from my romantic suspense Triptych
Sex on the Stones

. Three women, three men, three spirits guarding a dangerous river. Legend, history and romance intertwine in a triptych of suspense.










Friday, November 11, 2016

The Breakup: Is There Hope for Claire and Gideon?


Who to trust? The policeman, the handsome Senator, or the secret agent? Claire must decide and soon, before the murderer strikes again.

Claire Wilding is a newly minted docent for the George Washington National Masonic Memorial and a recent widow. On her first day she meets the handsome, if mysterious Gideon Bliss, newly minted U. S. Senator. They do not hit it off.

Thrown together due to the unexpected appearance of a corpse in the Memorial, any possibility of romance is thwarted by assorted villains and intrusive friends and relatives.

The Mason's Mark: Love and Death in the Tower (an Old Town Romance)
Wild Rose Press, May 6,2016 (Crimson Rose imprint)
Mystery/Cozy Mystery, Romantic suspense
ebook 79,000 words; print 322 pp.
M/F;  3 flames

Blurb:
In both the best and worst first day at work ever, docent Claire Wilding meets the man of her dreams, but her carefully rehearsed guided tour of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial collapses when she discovers a body and is drawn into a dark world of black ops and Italian renegade masons, of secret cabals and hidden treasure. Also cloaked in mystery is handsome Gideon Bliss, a George Washington expert who haunts the Memorial, his manner evasive. What is his secret? Claire fears she'll fall in love with him only to learn he's a thief or even a murderer. Juggling two eccentric mothers, an inquisitive sister, and an increasingly smitten detective, Claire must find answers to a complex web of intrigue, including who to trust and who to love.

Gideon's car, a McLaren

This excerpt indicates how close to hopeless seems their future.

Excerpt (PG): The Breakup
She heard not a peep from Gideon for the next three days, a welcome respite because it gave her time to think. The meddling of the mothers aside, the issue lay between Dorcas and Gideon. It didn’t matter that Dorcas had left Gideon—Claire still felt like the other woman, and it didn’t sit well with her Southern upbringing. Another skirmish with Wonder Woman would be the death of her. By the time Gideon called, she’d made up her mind. “Hi, sorry I haven’t been in touch. I—”
“I understand. You’re dealing with…family matters.”
“No,” he said slowly. “Actually, the Senate will be back from recess this week. They had a pro forma session Friday and being the lowest life form on the seniority pole, I had to preside.” He paused. “I sent the papers to Dorcas. She hasn’t responded.”
Claire didn’t want to get sucked into the soap opera. Bite the bullet. Take the bull by the horns. The horns of a dilemma? No, that’s not right. Take my medicine—take his medicine. Oh dear, I wish I were better at these idioms. “Gideon, I…I think you should clear this matter up before we see each other again.”
The phone went dead. Hmm, he took that surprisingly well. She resisted the urge to cry and went into the kitchen. When she came out carrying a glass filled with ice and a bottle of vodka, she found Gideon sitting on the packing crate. His eyebrows bristled. Claire didn’t think she’d ever seen eyebrows actually bristle. It made him look like an angry centipede.
“Claire, you can’t dump me over the phone. I forbid it.”
She poured a large tot into her glass. “I see.”
He stood and paced, not an easy thing to do in a room the size of a refrigerator box. Watching him, it occurred to Claire that she should decorate her house in the Shaker style—have all the furniture hang on pegs, up and out of the way of large trampling feet. She forced herself to focus on the words spilling out of the side of his mouth. “I never hid my predicament from you. It’s unfair to let me fall head over heels for you and then suddenly go all ethical on me.” He stopped and peered down at her. His face drooped. “Claire, I need you to help me through this.”
Her heart tried to claw its way out of her body and rush to him. She deliberately folded her arms across her chest. To muster her resolve, she pictured herself burning at the stake, the crowd chanting, “The other woman must die.” When she finally spoke, her tone was hard. “You’re a grown man, Gideon Bliss. You have to clean up your own messes. I begin to wonder if your mother may have spoiled you just a teensy bit.”
His cheekbones went rigid and his eyes narrowed, firing bullets of angry red light at her. “That was unnecessary, Claire. And unjust. But you’re right—this is my mess.” And with that he twirled, bumped his shin hard on the hall stool, and charged out the front door, leaving it open. That went even better than the phone call. This time she did not resist the urge, and burst into tears.
 
Claire's house
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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Love Lost and Found in the Wilds of Maine



Deep in the North Woods a woman sits before a fire, dreaming of her lost husband and determined to find him. Behind her stands a man, tall, dark, and gruff, who loves her. Which man will win her?

Catherine Killean is a woman on a mission. When her new husband disappears, leaving a suicide note, she is determined to find out why. She follows his tracks first to the North Woods of Maine, then to Florida, and back again to Maine. Along the way, she meets the tall, dark, gruff Holden Taggart, a Maine guide.

In her doubt and loneliness she is drawn to Holden, leaving her confused and adrift. What will happen when her questions about Jonathan are finally answered? Will old loyalty or new love triumph?

Today we find Catherine and Holden in their first embrace following a close encounter with a bear.

Black bears are the most common bear in North America. They are quite small, averaging four to five feet long and about 250 pounds. They usually subsist on berries, roots, grasses, and insects, with an occasional fish. They are not normally aggressive, although when harassed by a human female such as Catherine and kept from their favorite dish—ripe raspberries—they can become quite grumpy.

Good thing Holden was nearby to console Catherine after her fright.


Excerpt (R): Panic Turns to Desire

Another wave of panic washed over her. Holden started to rise but she held him closer. “Not yet. Don’t go yet. Just give me a minute.”
Holden clucked his tongue. “You’ll be fine. I promise.”
Catherine tried unsuccessfully to loosen her grip. Holden got one arm free but used it to stroke her hair. “Really, you’re perfectly safe now.” He brushed his lips against her forehead. Then he lifted her chin. He looked at her, concerned. Suddenly, he bent and kissed her lightly. “Are you okay?”
She raised her face to his. Her heart constricted. He really is handsome, isn’t he? Especially when that bad-tempered scowl softens. Before she could say anything, he kissed her again, this time a little harder. In her shaky state, it felt comforting. She kissed him back. An instant later, their arms were wrapped around each other and Holden’s tongue had slipped between her teeth to explore the inside of her mouth. She dropped back onto the bed. He followed her, bracing himself above her, his kisses now passionate. When they broke apart, they were both panting. A split second of decision, then his fingers went to the hem of her nightgown and lifted. Catherine gazed into his eyes, willing him to continue.
He fumbled at the buttons on the nightgown. Finally, in frustration, he took hold of the collar, tore it in two and threw the pieces on the floor. She lay back on the blanket, her long hair spread out on the pillow, drained of all rational thought, watching and waiting. The moon bathed her body with a misty light. Holden unzipped his jeans and let them drop. He was naked underneath and she thought fleetingly that he must have thrown them on when she screamed. That means he sleeps in the nude. She smiled at the thought, but he gave her no more time for reflection.
He fell on her, the length of his body pressed to hers, his arousal obvious. He kissed her hungrily, and then brushed his lips down her neck, continuing down to the right breast. She arched her back to bring her nipple closer. Her chest heaved beneath his mouth. He moved to the left breast and began to suckle. She gasped, the sensation too pleasurable for words. He lifted his head, as though praying that the sound didn’t mean she wanted him to stop. Instead, her arms went round his neck and her legs around his back, pulling him closer. He had no choice but to enter her. He didn’t hesitate. She was wet and ready for him. It didn’t take much, she thought. Then she stopped thinking.
Like an escalator—one which changed direction every few seconds—they went up, up, up, then down and down. They began to move faster and faster. Now they were both steaming uphill, but instead of flying off at the top of the stair, they met and came together. Catherine let out a mewling sound like a baby eagle and went rigid in midair. Holden held her up, ignoring the laws of gravity for just long enough to reach the moment of pure ecstasy. Then they plummeted. Quiet. Peace. Comfort.
It could not last.
Catherine’s eyes flew open. “What did we just do?” she whispered.
If Holden was wondering the same thing, he didn’t let on. “Do?”
“I mean…I mean…” She trailed off.
Holden gave her one more deep kiss before pushing himself off. He shook his head. “I don’t know, Mrs. Killean. It just happened. Sometimes it does. You were scared, you needed comfort. That’s all. Forget about it.” He looked out the window. She looked over his shoulder at the sky. The moon had gone down. It must be near dawn. He turned to her. “The bear is gone. I’ll take my leave as well.”
Catherine was so thunderstruck she couldn’t think of anything to say. Lost in wonder at what had just happened, she didn’t even hear him pull on his pants and leave, closing the door softly behind him. Just before she fell asleep, she whispered into the night, “Catherine…call me Catherine.”

A Widow’s Walk: Catherine’s Dilemma
I Heart Book Publishing, June 6, 2016
Contemporary romantic suspense, M/F, 2 flames
Ebook: words; Print: 227 p.


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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Tristram and Milo Meet--Artful Dodging: the Torpedo Factory Murders

Murders,  mistrust, misfits, and miscreants—needlepoint artist Milo Everhart has her hands full. Can Tristram Brodie prove to her that love conquers all?

It’s just before Christmas, and Milo Everhart has two needlepoint stockings, a cross-stitch purse, and three canvases to finish for her clients. Waiting out the rain in a pub, she is captivated by the handsome man next to her, but blocking the road to romance are two mysterious corpses who turn up in the tower of her Torpedo Factory Art Center. As if that weren’t enough, a second crisis erupts—a proposal to gut her beloved Art Center. 

Tristram Brodie, hard-driving corporate lawyer and former Marine, is focused on his plan to convert the Torpedo Factory into a box store. He is drawn to the beautiful woman sitting next to him, but their mutual attraction will be frustrated by both the murders and his intentions. As they edge closer to love, they must find a way to overcome both their differences and the still-fresh memory of her late husband. 

Wild Rose Press, 7/20/2016; Imprint Crimson Rose 
Theme(s): Mystery/Cozy Mystery
Contemporary romantic Suspense, M/F, 2 flames
Ebook, 66,830 words; Print 268 p.
 
Old Town Alexandria
My latest release takes place in Old Town Alexandria, an historic cobblestoned city on the Potomac River. It follows the adventures of several artists at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, a hulking warehouse of a place on the waterfront. An old munitions factory, it lay abandoned after World War II until the 1970s, when an intrepid band of biddies got the City of Alexandria to lease it to them for an art center. Today it houses 82 studios, the Art League, the Friends of the Torpedo Factory, and an Archaeology center.

Old Town is now a vibrant hub for restaurants and the arts. Galleries—including the Torpedo Factory—abound. Milo and Tristram meet by chance in one of the more frequented Irish pubs, O’Connell’s.


Excerpt (PG) First Meeting

The bartender backed out past the man, who made no move to get out of his way. Milo frowned. The fellow appeared oblivious to the fact that his position inconvenienced everyone. At first she had assumed he was waiting out the rain, but his body language spelled expectant. Every minute or so, he would poke his head out and look up and down King Street. For lack of anything more exciting to do, she fell to observing him. The top of his head brushed the doorjamb, making him about six feet three inches. His bulk didn’t jibe with his height, though. She guessed him to weigh in at maybe one hundred seventy-five pounds stripped. He was undeniably her type—lean, trim, tall, clean-shaven—none of that painted-on, five-o’clock shadow male celebrities sported nowadays. And old enough, for once. Maybe forty? She could only see his profile at the moment, which revealed thick black hair curling over his ears, slices of silver gray relieving the dark waves at the temple, a straight nose, moderately rosy—from drink or the cold?and a forceful chin. Without warning he pivoted, and Milo caught the full impact of a deeply masculine face right in the kisser. Whew. Even with the Armani suit, definitely not gay.
He tapped the toe of a highly polished Gucci loafer with impatience and pulled out a pocket watch. By this time, Milo had dropped all pretence and openly scrutinized the man. He thrust the watch back in his pocket with a scowl and spun around toward the bar, almost colliding with Tony. He took Milo’s glass from the startled bartender. “Thanks, just what the doctor ordered.”
Milo lifted a finger in protest. Tony looked at her, and the man followed his gaze. Eyebrows raised in surprise, he held up the whiskey. “Er, I take it this isn’t for me?”
She tried to come up with a flip response, but his rich baritone rattled her.
Tony stepped between them. “Yes, sir, that drink belongs to the lady. May I get you something?”
The man didn’t answer. He stared at Milo more or less the way she was staring at him. Flustered, she plopped back down on the narrow bench, barely avoiding an embarrassing slide to the floor. He continued to stare. She resisted the impulse to pat her short fawn-colored ringlets, which always appeared tousled no matter what she did, and blinked. He blinked back.
Finally she blurted out, “Would you care to join me?”
He shook his head as though to clear his mind. “Forgive me—I’ve never seen such lovely eyes…I mean, eyes that color…I mean…sorry. What would you call them? Mahogany? Bronze?” His admiring gaze did wonders for Milo’s mood, which took a decided uptick.
“I just call them brown. But thank you.”
“I’m sorry about purloining your drink. May I buy you a freshener in restitution?”
“I guess so. Er…did you want to sit down?”
“I’d better not. I’m waiting for someone.”
“Oh.” His plight, though not unexpected, depressed her. Of course Armani man had a date. He probably always has a date, even during Lent.
Tony brought another glass. The man paid him, then hesitated as though reconsidering. “You know, she is awfully late. Since you’re right in the window seat with a commanding view of the entrance, may I be allowed to change my mind and sit here until she arrives?”
Ulp. “Not at all.” Good—got that out without stuttering.
“Thanks.” He pulled a low barrel stool next to the bench and clinked her glass. “Cheers.”
They sipped their whiskies in companionable silence while the rain pummeled both the sidewalk and the pedestrians with barely concealed antagonism.
After a few minutes, Milo decided her heart had settled down sufficiently to ensure a quaver-free sentence. “I’m Milo Everhart.” And I’m Gorgeous George. You don’t mind if I seduce you, do you? No, wait—he didn’t say that. I did. Hopefully in my head. “Um, I didn’t catch your name?”
“Tristram Brodie. Pleased to meet you.”
Torpedo Factory Art Center

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Sunday, October 30, 2016

What is True Love? Miranda Wonders

In my romantic suspense novel, Triptych, my heroine Miranda wrestles with the question of true love. She also wrestles with recalcitrant sisters, mysterious machines and art thieves.


What is true love? Can unrequited love be true love? Must true love be reciprocal? Can true love be bad for you?  Can unrequited love be good for you? If loving someone makes you sad all the time, is it still love? If someone loves you and you don’t love them as much, is it still true love? Does true love have to last forever?  Can you find true love more than once?  What exactly does “true” mean?  Honest? Everlasting? Exclusive?

In my romantic suspense, Triptych, Miranda Cabot finds out.

Triptych, by M. S. Spencer
Ebook 67,300 words; Print 213 pp.
Romantic suspense/Adventure
M/F, 2 flames

Blurb:
Take lost masterpieces, brilliant inventors, and stolen prototypes. Add the Three Sisters, Indian spirits who guard the Potomac River. Stir in three sisters and their lovers. Result? Jealousy, sex, genius, larceny and love. Who will end up with whom, and will the Three Sisters take another life as the legend demands?



The Cabot House

Excerpt (G): We meet the Sisters
Sybil dropped a pebble and listened to its clicks and clacks as it hit every crag and spur on the way down to the water. It took a long time, for she stood very high above the river. She waited, hand to ear, to catch the tinny, far-away splash, then gently tossed another pebble over the cliff.
“Sybil! Where are you?”
The girl turned swiftly, her simple white shift catching on the bark of an ancient elm tree. She pulled at it impatiently, tearing a bit of the delicate lace from the sleeve. “Here I am, Miranda! By the sun house!” She flew up the path.
A woman of about thirty-five, beautiful but stone-faced, waited on a flagstone patio wreathed in a thickly branched wisteria. To her right a large flower garden ambled down to a grassy verge. Behind her loomed a vast, Queen Anne-style mansion complete with tower. She crooked a finger at the girl. “Sybil, Honor needs you. She has to measure the hem.”
“I’m coming. It’s almost finished then?”
The woman began to smile, but then her thin lips tightened as though she’d caught herself just in time. The glow of the afternoon sun backlit a rivulet of well-worn grief seeping from the closed face. “Of course it is, Sybil. You need it for the tea dance tomorrow, don’t you? Honor has been working on it day and night.” A soft chestnut curl escaped from her severe French twist to graze the heart-shaped mouth. She raised a thin, ring-less hand and plucked the strands from her lips. “Do hurry in and help her.” As Sybil ran eagerly past her, she blinked a tear away.
Miranda gazed out over the cliff and down to the river. Directly below her, three small rock formations, known as the Three Sisters, reared out of the water like iceberg babies. When she was young, she loved to observe the intercourse of river and rocks from high atop her hill. In the spring the Potomac River, heavy with silt, rushed headlong past, shooting plumes of whitecaps up and over them. In the summer, the calm water filled with boats—canoes, punts, motorboats. A few months later, when the oaks and hickories turned the cliffs into a mass of scarlet and gold, the water would thin to a gentle trickle, and people forgot how strong the currents could surge, and grow unwary.
She shaded her eyes and looked north, where the steep canyons of Great Falls split the folded metagraywacke rock, the river slicing through it as easily as if it were paper. The Three Sisters marked the upper limit of the Potomac’s navigable waters. There, at a dangerous part of a dangerous river, Miranda and her sisters had helplessly watched many a hiker or kayaker flounder in the treacherous channels between Great Falls National Park and Teddy Roosevelt Island.
She no longer came out to watch the boaters, not after seeing Edward die when he crashed his Donzi 38 ZR on the rocks. He and the woman he left her for. The nightmare still haunted her though. In the dream she waited, hidden in the summer house on the edge of the cliff, as the sleek, sexy, Italian-made speed boat slammed into the half-submerged Sisters in the middle of the river. Alone in the dark she relived the sight of the flames as they shot up almost high enough to singe her bare toes. She heard again Wanda’s Banshee shriek as she died in agony. Her husband never appeared in the dream. True to form, Edward had disintegrated in the maelstrom, leaving nothing behind to remember or bury, not even a belt buckle.
The Three Sisters

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