Today I’d like to talk about my murder mystery romance from I Heart Publishing, Mai Tais and Mayhem: Murder at Mote Marine.
When Tessa Diamond rescued a baby pufferfish from a hungry gull, her good deed led her into a shady world of smuggling, Russian gangsters, and coded messages, confronting murder, attempted ravishment, parrots, sea turtles and big fish, only to encounter blossoming romances at every turn, including one of her own.
Tessa Diamond, the heroine of Mai Tais and Mayhem: Murder at Mote Marine, works with the annual sea turtle nesting survey along with a motley assortment of volunteers. There are in fact several volunteer groups that patrol the 770 miles of coastline during the nesting season. Five of the seven sea turtle species live in Florida waters: the loggerhead, the leatherback, the green, the Kemp’s ridley, and the hawksbill. This year Mote Marine logged a record number of nests on Longboat Key.
Tessa is checking on a leatherback named Fred who is being rehabilitated at Mote, when she makes a grisly discovery.
Excerpt (G): The Body
The alarm woke her at seven. Tessa threw on the Mote polo shirt and black golf skort she’d laid out the night before, grabbed the bagel and can of V8 she’d left on the counter, and shot down Gulf of Mexico Drive as the sun came up. The road for once was deserted, and she could revel in the breeze blowing her long hair over her shoulders and the scent of frangipani in the air. The soft gray sky held only a hint of the deep blue to come later, and the gulf lay becalmed by the evaporating night. She sang a country song as she drove. In her bones she knew this would be a glorious day, the first in a long time where she felt free of any guilt or sadness. If only she could whistle. If only I could carry a tune.
She parked in the aquarium lot and walked across to the Goldstein Center. Pulling out the key Pilchard had given her, she let herself in by the ticket booth. Pale, blurry light seeped in through the plastic sheeted tanks to her right. She went up the stairs and around the gift shop to the dolphin pool, rattling doors as she went. All was quiet and locked. A snort came from the pool. One of the dolphins raised his head and peered at her before diving back down.
Looks okay here. She checked her watch. Eight-twenty. The support staff should be arriving soon to open the gift shop and ticket counter. She walked back down the stairs. The turtle tanks lay to her right—two large shallow pools that at present held four sea turtles, one leatherback—Fred—two green turtles, and a loggerhead. She leaned over Fred’s tank. “Fred,” she called, “how are you? Feeling better?”
A black mass floated at the other end of the pool. Oh dear, I hope he’s not still sick. Worried, she skirted the other tank and ducked under the gate. The mass didn’t move. “Fred?” She reached out a hand to touch his shell and instead encountered something soft and mushy. “Fred?”
At that moment the overhead light flashed on. She swung around. From the hall came the voice of Henry Stillwater, the coordinator of the dolphin training program. “Who’s there?”
“It’s Tessa. Tessa Diamond. I’m the volunteer. I was checking on Fred, but something’s wrong.”
Tessa turned around to look into the pool again and screamed.
I Heart Publishing, 12/7/2015
Contemporary romantic suspense, M/F, 2 flames, Mystery
eBook 68,840 words; print 208 pp.
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mai-tais-and-mayhem-m-s-spencer/1114193303?ean=9781618856623