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.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Breakup--Is There Hope for Claire and Gideon?

George Washington Museum where Claire & Gideon Meet
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.

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.

This excerpt indicates how close to hopeless seems their future.

Excerpt (PG): The Breakup
“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.”

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

The Tower

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Pre-Order Form for My Books--Preorder before Space Coast Book Lovers Event June 1-4

I've invited you to fill out a form:
M. S. Spencer Ebook & Paperback Pre-Order Form for Events & Signings
I am only able to bring a limited number of books to each event, so if you are attending one of the following and
want to be sure you get the book or books you want, please fill out the form below. You can pay in advance or
at the event.
(If paying in advance, I will invoice you via PayPal two week before the event. If your order is placed after the
two week mark, books might not be available and you would have to pay at the event.)

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Reality Imitates Art in Triptych--Intrigue, Mystery, Romance

Reality imitating art?  Triptych, my tale of legend, history and romance intertwining in a triptych of suspense, eerily foreshadows this intriguing news item.

Julian Radcliffe, chairman of the London-based Art Loss Register, calls it "the biggest cache of illegally stored art since the end of the [[second world] war." He's talking about the discovery in Munich, Germany of more than 1400 artworks, including previously unknown paintings by Matisse and Chagall. The paintings were found in the apartment of an 80-year-old man whose father had acted as an agent for the Nazis to collect art and sell it abroad. It's not yet clear whether the man was protecting the art or wanted it for himself. At any rate, his son kept the paintings, only selling one now and then to live on. One investigator described the collection as "professionally stored and in very good condition."

And in April of this year, treasure hunters claimed to have found Nazi treasure on a long-lost train.

You can read more about it here:
The only thing missing in this story is romance. That's where Triptych has the upper hand.

The sisters' house
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 first time Miranda sees Luc:

Excerpt (G): Luc Arrives
Miranda heard the pounding of excited feet on the stairs. She checked her hair and dress, and prepared herself not merely to meet the Chevalier du Bon Arnaque, but to dislike him intensely.
She called to Honor and stepped sedately down the long formal staircase to the central hall, where Sybil was taking the coat of a very tall, black-haired man. As she stood on the last step, he turned and glanced up at her. A long pause ensued. Did my heart just stop beating? The house, the hall, Sybil—everything but the man, faded into the background. She examined his face minutely, as though she had all the time in the world. Ringlets of thick, glossy black hair twined over his forehead, the light catching highlights of silver at the temples and deep in his ebony eyes. Tanned skin stretched tight over his high cheekbones, reminding her of the portrait of a Highland chieftain that hung in her study. She could just make out a tiny upturn at the end of his nose that lent a fanciful air to his appearance. Perhaps not a clan chief but an elvish prince?
Slowly she grew aware of Sybil’s chattering. “Monsieur le Chevalier—see how well I pronounced it, monsieur? I’ve been practicing. I promise to be your best student ever! Oh, and this is Miranda, my sister. Honor? Honor! Are you coming down?”
Miranda took the last step into a new world. She faltered before this man who turned her inside out with a single look, and words failed her. As she struggled with an unaccustomed shyness, he held out a friendly hand to her. She mustered up a firm shake from somewhere, noting the hard calluses that lined his palm. A work-hardened hand. Could it be he’s not a leisure-loving gigolo after all?
The chevalier seemed undismayed by the two sisters’ presence. “You are, I presume, Mademoiselle Miranda?” A Gallic accent tinged his words, lending an old-world aroma reminiscent of cognac and espresso to his voice.
She heard a voice that sounded like her own coming from some distance away. “It is Madame. How do you do?”

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Triptych is available in both eBook and Print-on-Demand.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

An Antique Train, a Mysterious Corpse, and a Frightened Girl--The Penhallow Train Incident

Want to read an intriguing excerpt from my mystery, The Penhallow Train Incident? Your wish is my command.

An antique train, a mysterious corpse, a bank robbery, a treasure map, and romantic rumblings make for passion and adventure in small town Maine.

In the sleepy coastal Maine town of Penhallow, a stranger dies on a train, drawing Historical Society Director, Rachel Tinker, and curmudgeonly retired professor, Griffin Tate, into a spider’s web of archaeological obsession and greed. With the help of the victim’s rival, they set out to locate the Queen of Sheba’s tomb. Their plans are stymied when a war erupts between the sheriff and a state police detective who want to arrest the same man for different crimes. It’s up to Rachel to solve a mystery that includes two more murders, if she wants to unlock the soft heart that beats under Griffin’s hard crust.

Maine train tracks

Maine, like many states,  is crisscrossed with old railroad beds. The Penhallow Train Incident refers to the fictional Penhallow and Moosehead Railroad. Much like other railways, its heyday came during the 19th century, when it ferried goods, mail, and passengers to many small towns in central Maine. As the story opens, several tourists are enjoying an excursion, complete with a reenactment of a train robbery, when the corpse of a mysterious foreign man is discovered.

Preoccupied with leads relating to the dead man’s presence in Penhallow, our heroine Rachel Tinker is confronted with a new clue. What she doesn’t know is whether it is connected to the victim or to some other mystery.
The Clue
Excerpt (PG): The Clue

            Feeling restless, Rachel decided to go back to work. She let herself into the historical society, turned the sign over to OPEN, and went to her office. Immersed in a treatise on the Scottish roots of Penhallow, she didn’t hear the entrance bell ring below. She looked up from her desk to find the woman from the photo standing in her door, her purse clutched to her bosom, staring at her. “Are you Rachel Tinker?”
“Yes. Can I help you?” Rachel thought frantically. How do I call Toby without spooking her?
“You’re the town historian?”
The front door dinged again. The woman glanced over her shoulder. Then, eyes wide with fear, she tossed the purse at Rachel and ran. Rachel picked it up and, without hesitating, hid it in the file cabinet. Then she went out to the hallway and walked down the spiral iron stairs to the ground floor. The woman stood near the door pretending to examine an exhibit on Main Street businesses. Beside her, the man from the photo whispered rapidly in her ear, his hands balled into fists at his side. She cringed a bit but stood her ground.
Something told Rachel not to mention the purse. “Hello there—can I help you two?”
The man turned. His face was no longer bland. In fact, the rage sluicing from him forced Rachel to take a step backward. He spat out, “Who are you?”
Excuse me? “I am the director of the Penhallow Historical Society. Who are you?”
This seemed to throw him. The woman touched his arm. “Dad, this lady simply showed me where the restroom is. There’s no need to be rude.”
Rachel made a quick calculation. “That’s right. No trouble finding it, I hope?”
“None at all. Thank you.” She took her father’s arm. “This looks like a very interesting museum. It’s too bad we don’t have time to look around right now. Thanks for your help.” She walked out, accompanied by a now rather subdued parent.
Rachel stood in the middle of the hall. What the hell was that all about? Finally she flipped the sign to CLOSED, locked the front door, and stumped back up the stairs to her office. She moved deliberately to the cabinet and pulled the purse out. For a short minute she considered taking it straight to Toby. Then she opened it.
In the main compartment, she found a packet of tissues, a pen, a ten-dollar bill, a comb, and a piece of yellowed paper, folded in half. She unfolded it. It was a deposit slip from the Penhallow Bank and Trust made out for $233.68, dated August 2, 2005.


The Wild Rose Press, 3/30/2016, Crimson Rose Line
Contemporary romantic suspense/Cozy Mystery; Sensual (PG-PG13)
Ebook 79,665 words, Print 334 p.

Buy Links:
Pre-order as of 2/6/2016; release date 3/30)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A Widow's Walk: Catherine's Dilemma--Maine Romance


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?

Holden's Family House

Widow’s Walk is set in real places with fictional names, and sometimes fictional communities. Catherine and her tour visit Rockwood (a real place) which is not actually inhabited by a majority of Canadian emigres, but how else could I have an annual fireworks display for Guy Fawkes Day?

Guy Fawkes Day is a British holiday, commemorating the attempt by Guy Fawkes to blow up Parliament. Known as the Gunpowder Plot, a group of 13 disaffected Catholics planned to kill King James I and members of Parliament who vowed to continue Queen Elizabeth’s anti-Catholic policies. The plot was foiled, and Fawkes executed. Today, every November 5, happy Brits gather to burn the fellow in effigy with a great bonfire, and set off fireworks. I don’t know of any other culture that can get so much joy out of, not just a treasonous plot, but its spectacular failure.

In this excerpt Holden takes advantage of the situation.

Fireworks above and below

Excerpt (PG): Fireworks

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.

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

Monday, May 1, 2017

Slipping Briskly into Romance~Whirlwind Romance

I didn't mean to write this story. I meant to write a nice romantic interlude set on Longboat Key, a lovely barrier island on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Even before I'd reached Chapter Two, however, things had taken a geographical turn and veered off into the western Caribbean. Even now I'm not sure how it happened, but everything started to go awry when Lacey Delahaye, my heroine, finds a bedraggled castaway in her mangrove swamp. Fine. Not a problem. He's handsome, injured, and clearly has a secret. Could he be a lost tourist? A real estate agent caught up in a Florida land scam? An environmentalist who's discovered that whales have become man-eaters? No, sir. With his exotic, dark looks (flashing black eyes, shimmering ebony hair, etc.), he hardly seemed the real estate agent type. And he has an accent. Therefore he comes from elsewhere. He eventually confesses to Lacey that…well, I certainly won't divulge his secret. I will say that he and Lacey find themselves in a remote, tiny, tropical paradise, which would be very romantic, except for the vicious serpent lurking there.
The faraway island


In the aftermath of a hurricane, Lacey Delahaye finds herself marooned on an island on the Gulf coast of Florida with a mysterious man. They are immediately drawn to each other, but before Armand can confess his identity, they are kidnapped and taken to a tiny island in the western Caribbean. With the help of her son Crispin and a cadre of loyal followers, she and Armand must face down pirates, power-mad ideologues, and palace intrigue, if they are to restore the once idyllic tropical island to its former glory.

Mangroves where Lacey finds Armand

In this excerpt, Lacey feels the stirrings of something more than suspicion. I think we're looking at romance!

Excerpt (PG): Slipping Briskly
The full moon shone through the window, illuminating Lacey’s nodding head. Armand touched her cheek. “I think it’s your bedtime.”
Stung, she shot back, “I’m taking care of you, remember?”
He held up a hand. “Sorry! I’d forgotten.” After a moment, he asked, his tone diffident, “Can you help me up?”
Lacey put an arm around his back and together they limped to Crispin’s room. She took his pants and shirt off and folded them neatly. As she turned to leave, he touched her arm. “Stay a minute?”
How could she admit she had to get out of there quickly or she wouldn’t be able to go at all? His handsome face—the strong chin covered with stubble, the pearly teeth contrasting with his tan skin, not to mention the long, graceful fingers he held out to her—all conspired to lure her closer. Her heart led the way, propelling her to his side. She sat down. “What is it?”
Her body tensed as desire fought to get out, and she fought just as hard to keep it in. I have to go. I have to…go. “What?”
His words came out in a rush. “Lacey, the other day—the first night—when you rescued me. When we…we…”
Don’t say it. Don’t say it. Christ.
“I…uh…want you to know I don’t do that on a regular basis.”
His air of shy ambivalence gave her courage. “I see. You don’t have sex on a regular basis?”
“No, no, it’s not that.” He stopped, flustered. “Er, I mean… I don’t sleep with women indiscriminately.”
Should she let him off the hook? Nah. “But you do sleep with a lot of women?”
“No! Lacey, you’re being difficult on purpose. I meant, that I didn’t mean to…you know. It just happened. Forgive me?”
Armand interrupted her. “Not that it wasn’t enjoyable.” He seemed distracted, running a finger down her arm. “Wonderful. Fantastic. Too short.” He peered at her. “Lacey, you must know how beautiful you are. You have the most perfect cheekbones I’ve ever seen.”
“Cheekbones?” What the hell is he talking about?
“I’m an amateur photographer. Those cheekbones could belong to a supermodel. Perfectly sculpted. And your nose…” He tapped the tip. “A little pixie nose. It even turns up slightly. Your long, fine hair is the russet-gold of burnished copper pots I once saw piled high in a shop on Martinique. Your eyes…” He closed his. “Your eyes are the blue-green of a freshly mowed cricket field, of the emeralds that grow deep in the mountains, of the lagoon near my home on a blustery day.” He touched her hand. “Then there’s your body—as I remember it—a soft, comfortable, pillowy—”
“Hey!” Lacey shook her head to break the spell. “I think you’ve said enough. Get some sleep.”
She tried to rise, but he slipped his arms around her and drew her close. She wanted to struggle. She tried to struggle. It was no use. The long kiss filled her with a warmth that matched a fire on a cold night, a cup of cocoa, or a hot bath. When he lay back, the warmth turned to blazing passion. The power of it frightened her. I’ve got to go. She ran out of the room before he could stop her.

Wild Rose Press, 8/17/2016, Champagne Rose imprint
Contemporary romance/Action Adventure; M/F; 2 flames
Ebook 89,905 words; Print: 358 p.

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Dear Philomena--Love, Lust and Murder on Chincoteague Island

Something crashed in the woods.  Was it a deer?  Or something more dangerous? Dagne didn’t care; she just kept running…

Today I’m talking about my murder mystery/romantic suspense, Dear Philomena: Love, Lust & Murder on Chincoteague Island.

Dagne Lonegan, aka Dear Philomena, advice columnist, hoped that spending a year on the Eastern Shore island of Chincoteague would extinguish any feelings she had left for Jack Andrews, erstwhile lover and long-time jerk.  It’s just her luck that in her first week on the island she’s entangled in a murder.  Only she doesn’t know it.  Unfortunately, the murderer doesn’t know she doesn’t know.  Strange and dangerous things begin happening to her, disrupting her new romance with Aidan Ellis, the handsome manager of the National Wildlife Refuge.  As if that weren’t enough, Jack arrives to take charge of the murder investigation.

Will Dagne stick with the tall, cool glass of a Ranger or risk falling back into the arms of the man who broke her heart?


Excerpt (G): The Sniper

 The afternoon sun beat down. Before long, perspiration dripped unpleasantly down her back and her neck began to burn. She reached a curve in the loop where a service road angled off. The cool shade of the evergreen alley beckoned, and she opened the gate and went through. Gravel popped beneath her sneakers and yellow-rumped warblers skipped from branch to branch, moving just ahead of her. She swung along, loving the feel of stretching her muscles, thinking of nothing.
At the end of the pines, the landscape opened out. Ponds choked with cordgrass lay on either side of the road, flanked by dunes on her right and scrub forest on her left. Ducks crowded the shallow water—mergansers, American wigeons, gadwalls. She stopped to watch a pair of diminutive black and white buffleheads putter around at the water’s edge. A cloud passed overhead, blotting out the sun. When it moved on, the light had changed to the desperate gold of a late afternoon teetering on the threshold of twilight. Time to go.
As she stood in the path, not yet willing to give up her afternoon off, she heard a loud crack. Woodpecker? Another bang rent the air, but this time the noise sounded much closer. Oh my God, that’s a rifle. Someone’s hunting out here! A surge of impractical outrage washed over Dagne. How dare they? This is a refuge for God’s sake! Nonetheless, prudence suggested she turn back.
She began with a walk, but some primitive instinct told her to accelerate. Directly over her head something zinged and a chunk of bark plopped at her feet. Her trot turned into a canter. Another shot hit the road, spraying pebbles into the air. They can’t be shooting at me. Can they? What should I do? Duck? Throw myself on the ground? Run into the trees? Instead, like some hapless cartoon character racing down the tracks ahead of the train, she ran straight down the road. By the time she reached the loop, her lungs were clawing for air. Stabbing pains scraped her chest and side. She’d heard no more shots, and after a few minutes’ rest, walked as fast as she could back to the parking lot, slowing every few steps to take a quick check of her surroundings.
She jumped into the car, locked the doors, and roared out onto the park road. At the Chamber of Commerce circle she slowed down, which gave her time to notice that the gas gauge read empty. She pulled into Ivan’s service station, Ivan II. She’d met the owner—a Belarusan native who had defected in the fifties—when he fixed a flat tire for her some years before. Despite his penchant for naming every store he owned after himself, she knew him to be a warm and generous man. He stopped polishing his vintage Morgan and came over. “Dagne, you’re shaking like a leaf! What’s wrong?”
It came pouring out. “Ivan, someone shot at me!”
Instead of reacting with shock, he chuckled, and wiped his hands on a towel. “Well, Milaya—I mean—my dear. It is hunting season. What were you doing—flitting around, doe-like?”
“No! I was on the wildlife loop!”
Hmm. Last I checked hunting is illegal on the refuge. Now poaching…”
“It’s not funny, Ivan. I heard three—no, four—shots! Someone was trying to kill me.”
“Now, now, Dagne, calm down. Tell me, where on the loop did this happen?”
She took a deep breath. “Well, I’d actually gone up the service road—as far as the Farm Fields impoundment. You know, beyond the pine woods?”
He nodded. “That explains it.” He removed the gasoline cap and inserted the nozzle. “I think they allow hunting up there on certain days. Did you see a sign?”
“Well, check at the visitor’s center. If it’s not an authorized hunting day, you most likely ran into a poacher. The ranger should be informed.”
Dagne wasn’t about to go back to the refuge alone, but another idea had insinuated itself while Ivan talked. She paid, headed down to Main Street, and parked next to Lance’s car behind the decoy shop. As she passed it, the sun glinted on something in the rear seat. She peered in. A rifle. The back door opened. “Dagne? What are you doing here?”

I Heart Book Publishing, October 12, 2015
EBook, 72,000 words, Print 209 pp
Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romantic Suspense, Mystery Romance
M/F, 3 flames

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Friday, April 28, 2017

Tale Spinner Winner of Highway Cafe Spring Tour


Hi everyone, thanks SO much for reading and commenting and enjoying our Highway Cafe Spring Tour. I hope you all remembered to go back to the main page and comment as well.

I offered to one reader picked at random a copy of my latest romantic suspense Lapses of Memory.


C. B. Please contact me at msspencerauthor@gmail.com and I will send you the book in the format of your choice. Thanks again for reading. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Welcome to the Highway Cafe Spring Tour!

Welcome to the Highway Café Spring Tour!

Authors galore are participating in the Great 2017 Highway Café Spring Tour April 24 to 26! There will be blogs, giveaways and an Easter egg hunt.
While you read the post, don’t forget to look for the lost eggs (they’re somewhere on my blog) and leave a comment as to where you found them. Then go to

You can find the list of bloggers, and comment to enter the running for the grand prize, our Spring ‘Tastic basket of ebooks. Comment here and enter to win my latest romantic suspense Lapses of Memory!

Winners will be announced April 28.

Spring Memories
I have to be honest: growing up, fall was my favorite season. I loved going to school, loved the crisp, clean air and the warm cinnamon colors. But spring had its virtues, so I thought I’d describe what it was like in some of the places I’ve lived.
April in Paris can be idyllic or it can be damp and gray. Either way, I agree with Cole Porter:
I love Paris in the springtime/
I love Paris in the fall/
I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles/
I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles.

In Lapses of Memory, Sydney spends precious time in Paris. Here she arrives with a heavy heart.
Sydney looked out over the rows of heads as they circled the city and headed north to Charles De Gaulle Airport. Feeble sunlight pinged off the mud-colored Seine. A Bateau Mouche chugged past the Île de la Cité in the shadow of Notre Dame, tourists hanging off the railings. On the riverbank, booksellers would soon be opening their kiosks and setting out the leather-bound products of a disappearing industry. Shopkeepers would be pulling up their metal accordion doors and dragging out carts filled with spring vegetables. Asparagus, artichokes, baby greens, endive. Young boys in aprons would be sweeping the sidewalks and bakers rising up to the street from their basement ovens like latter-day Vulcans, loaded down with warm baguettes. She could almost hear the squeals of schoolgirls chasing each other through the convent gates while the church bells pealed for Mass.

Cambridge in spring
In Boston spring means yellow snow. And black snow. And gray snow. That’s it. Yet, there is always hope, as Catherine sees in this passage from A Widow’s Walk: Catherine’s Dilemma
“She walked out into a beautiful, balmy day for the middle of winter. The sky was the royal blue of promise and melting ice pinged onto her head from the eaves of the old brick buildings. Looking up, she glimpsed the tentative light green of buds clinging to the tree branches. Only a few sad leftovers of yellow snow hung on by the curbs. She found herself skipping as she neared the Fogg Art Museum.”

Cranes in Istanbul 1980
I lived in Istanbul for a year, part of the time in a big old faculty house on a hill in the suburb of Bebek surrounded by tall walnut trees. It had been a cold, snowy winter and spring seemed far away. Then one early morning I awoke to a sound like a huge wind. I walked out to see a blanket of cranes covering the roof. Masses teetered in the trees, making them bend and sway. It was the annual migration of the Eurasian cranes. These birds were flying the eastern route, which starts in the Horn of Africa and ends in Russia. One stop on the route —usually at the end of February—is Istanbul.


I don’t remember a spring in Chicago. There was snow, and then it was hot.

Rush Hour
I’ve been living on a barrier island in Florida for four years and while it is in fact paradise, the season has become a little too much. This is from my upcoming release, the Pit and the Passion: Murder at the Ghost Hotel. It captures the frustration of the locals at the hordes of tourists yearning for sun.

“I see the welcome-back parties filled the entire second section this week.” She looked over her shoulder. On the road behind them, cars crept along bumper to bumper, swerving like over-cautious slugs around the idling tractor trailers racked with the town cars and SUVs of returning snowbirds. Elderly drivers clutched their steering wheels with hands that trembled in fear whenever the speedometer registered more than twenty miles per hour. Which—happily for their hearts—happened rarely, what with the minivans teeming with large Ohio families slowing down every few feet to crane their necks at the sabal palms and herds of grazing ibis. She sighed. The season on Longboat Key had become one long nightmare of traffic and crowds. She prayed that soon it would reach a tipping point, and all those armies of lily-white Teutons from Toronto and Chicago would decide to go elsewhere and she could have her beautiful barrier island back.”

Khamseen in Cairo
The seasons don’t change much in Egypt—always warm and dry (except for the Thanksgiving in 1972 when it rained all day and people thought it was the end of the world, but that’s another story). Spring is particularly harsh when the khamseen arrives—usually in March. It is a hot, fierce wind that carries the sands of the western desert into every single nook, cranny, and orifice. It even scrapes the sand off the sandstone buildings and adds it to the wind. Interesting fact—they have the same thing in Arizona in the spring, and oddly enough it’s called the Haboob.

I spent a large part of my life in the Washington DC area—home to the Cherry Blossom festival. The trees were a gift from Japan and each year they bloom in profusion around the famous tidal basin. Spring in DC is absolute perfection—the azaleas, the cherry trees, the tulips. In this passage from Lapses of Memory, Sydney and her daughter drive through the streets of Old Town Alexandria in early spring:
Cherry trees Washington

“The earliest Piedmont azaleas were in bloom, their delicate lavender spikes blending with the cheery yellow forsythia. Limning the bushes, gold-kissed daffodils peeked through their stockade of leaves. The cobblestone streets swarmed with delivery vans and construction trucks off-loading materials.”

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

First Date--The Mason's Mark: Love and Death in the Tower

The Mason's Mark, my romantic suspense/murder mystery,  is set in Old Town Alexandria and involve long lost papers, distant family scandals, and academic intrigue concerning our first President. Delicious mystery and even more delicious romance ensue. Today I’m offering an excerpt of the our hero and heroine’s first date.

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.

Claire's house

On her first day as a newly minted docent for the George Washington National Masonic Memorial, Claire Wilding meets the handsome, if mysterious Gideon Bliss, himself a newly minted U. S. Senator. They do not hit it off. Or so Claire thinks. Gideon, however, has other ideas.

Excerpt (PG): Gideon Comes Back
When they reached Prince Street, Gideon found a parking spot directly in front of her house, no small feat. Just one more way he’s special, thought Claire glumly. He walked her to her door. She unlocked it and turned to thank him, but he was already on his way to his car.
Ichabod greeted her with a snarl.
“I know. I forgot to feed you. Come on, Icky.” She found a can of cat food and emptied it into his bowl. Then she poured herself a large glass of water and took it to the living room to conduct an analysis of the soiree.
So at any point did I come across as even semi-coherent? She tried to hack through the warm, fuzzy blanket of the evening. Gideon had been the perfect gentleman, ordering foie gras and champagne, pointing out the constellations with obvious expertise, helping her in and out of the car. It all seemed so…unreal. Like he was acting a part. Too perfect. And he’d sucked her in like soda through a straw. She slapped her forehead, forgetting that she still held the glass. Water sluiced across her face and ran down her front. She mopped it up with some tissues and vowed to hit the antique stores that weekend. I’ve got to get a coffee table. Preferably one with cup holders.
The doorbell rang. With the disintegrating tissue pressed to her face, she stood on tiptoe to check the peephole and looked straight into an unblinking sea-green ocean. Gideon. After a minute she remembered to open the door.
He stared at her with concern. “Are you all right?”
Claire pulled the tissue away and noticed black streaks on it. Her mascara must have run. Oh no, I bet he thinks I’ve been crying. She rubbed her eyes, hoping that wasn’t making it worse. “Fine. I spilled a glass of water, that’s all.”
“Oh.” He stood, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. “Um, could I come in for a minute?”
She pointed at the living room and backed away, then turned and leapt up the steps. A quick look in the mirror confirmed her suspicions. I look like something Ichabod’s been playing with. She fixed her face, wrung out her blouse, and returned with renewed aplomb.
Gideon filled the small space. Claire sidled around him and sat on a packing crate. He looked around the room. “So…er, have you just moved in?”
“Yes.” It struck her that he was more uncomfortable than she and drew strength from that. “About a week ago. Sorry about the mess. Won’t you have a seat?”
He dropped down on the loveseat but immediately sprang back up. He patted his rear, flummoxed. “Why am I wet?”
Claire put a hand to her mouth to suppress the giggle. “Ooh, I’m sorry. I forgot. That’s where I spilled the water. Here, let me.”
She retrieved a towel from the kitchen and began to dab at the dark blotch on his khakis. He stood it for a minute, then put a hand under her chin and lifted her up. “You’d better stop doing that. This is hard enough for me.” He blinked. “Do you…do you know how beautiful you are?”
The question threw her. How to respond? Yes? No? Tell me more? She decided to let him talk.
“Your eyes are the color of the deepest part of the Caribbean Sea on a cloudless day. I could sink into them and drown.” He touched her brow. “And these little cinnabar ringlets framing that soft, creamy face…” He wrapped one around his finger. “Wind one up tight and it could strangle me.” He took her hand. “Your fingers—so slim and delicate, like little stilettos. Sharp enough to gouge an eye out.”
Claire stepped away from him, bewildered. “You make me sound like a vicious animal. Why?”
His hands dropped to his sides. “Because I sense how dangerous you are.”
“To me. Claire…I—” He gazed at her helplessly.
Someone had better take charge.

George Washington National Masonic Memorial

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

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