The Pit and the Passion

She held her gaze steady, mainly so she could delve deep, deep into those chocolate eyes. Together with his sharp, angular nose and intense, almost predatory, expression, he reminded her of a peregrine falcon on the hunt.

The Pit & the Passion

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Prizes! Excerpts! Party Hats! At Secret Cravings Winter Wonderland Blog Event

Welcome to the Secret Cravings Winter Wonderland Blog Hop. Thirty wonderful Secret Cravings authors will be posting and offering prizes from January 15 to January 30. This is how it works: somewhere on my blog you will find one letter from the phrase SECRET CRAVINGS WINTER WONDERLAND. After reading and enjoying my blog, head out to the other authors listed here:  to find the rest of the letters. When you've collected all thirty websites and letters, email Dawne Prochilo at with your answers. Winners will be announced on February 4. 

Grand Prize  IPAD2
First Prize Kindle Fire HDX
Second Prize $50 gift certificate
Third Prize $25 gift certificate

But wait! There's more! If you comment here and leave your email address in the comment you have a chance to win a copy of The Mason's Mark!

My new romantic suspense The Mason's Mark: Love and Death in the Tower (an Old Town Romance), is based loosely on a true story.

It is amazing what a little Googling can lead to. Sometimes truth is truly stranger than fiction. For example, the intricate plot for the Mason’s Mark came about unexpectedly. I started with the idea that my heroine finds a dead body on top of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial. The GWM is not only a Masonic Lodge (Alexandria-Washington no. 22) but a memorial to George Washington and a national showcase for freemasonry. In order to ensure authenticity, I wanted to learn as much about freemasonry as I could.  I began with basic sites on Masons, but my Google search led me into a strange world of global intrigue and crime. I followed one thread to a fake Masonic lodge called Propaganda Due, led by a remarkable scam artist named Licio Gelli. He was associated with Nazis, Communists, terrorists, and the Mafia, to name a few. But his connection to a shadowy group called Operation Gladio—supposedly a team of black ops left in Europe after WWII to guard against Communist takeovers—was too intriguing not to use. Thus was born The Mason's Mark: Love and Death in the Tower, a contemporary tale about old scandals. And a dynamite love story.

Here's the story:
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 falls apart when she discovers a dead body. Together with Detective Ernest Angle, she's drawn into a dark world of black ops and Italian renegade masons. Also cloaked in mystery is her new love Gideon Bliss.  A George Washington expert, he 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 Ernest, Claire must find answers to a complex web of intrigue, including which black ops agent to trust,  whether our first president strayed, and if she and Gideon will ever be together.

The Mason's Mark: Love and Death in the Tower (an Old Town Romance)
Secret Cravings Publishing (released January 7, 2014)
79,000 words, Romantic suspense, M/F, 2 flames
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 evening.
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.

Make sure you keep a list of the websites and their letters for your chance to win the grand prize. When you've listed all the authors, mail to To win a copy of The Mason's Mark, please leave a comment here with your email address. Go forth and enjoy! You'll find the other authors at:


Kim cornwell said...

I love romantic suspense and love meeting new authors! Thanks or the chance!
zipstersclue at

Kim cornwell said...

sorry I messed up email
zipstersclue04 at

teena3940 said...

Wow this is a great way to meet all these new Authors for me. Thanks!!grandmatinaof2(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Deborah Close said...

Awesome giveaway and I love the Scavenger hunt

Deborah Close said...

Oops forgot my email address dcpooh55 (AT) cox (DOT) net

Natalie Townson said...

Thanks for the chance Natalie Townson

Amy Hart said...

Thanks for the chance

Jean MP said...

Enjoyed the excerpt, book sounds suspenseful, enjoy those type of stories.
skpetal at hotmail dot com

Flossie Benton Rogers said...

I just stopped by to say hello and thanks for hopping!

M. S. Spencer said...

Thanks to all my readers and visitors! And congratulations to SCP on 3 years of success! M. S.

Susan W. said...

The Mason's Mark sound very good! Thanks for being part of the hop!

Evil Tammy said...

Holy smokes...that was an awesome excerpt! Love these hops when I meet authors new to me! Thanks for being a part!

Madison Sevier said...

Fabulous post! Just stopping by to say HI :)

Peni Anne said...

Thank you for this opportunity to look you up. There is not much better than a good story. My favorites are contemporary romances.
Peni Anne

Shadow said...

What an excerpt! Sounds awesome!! I cant wait to read it! Thank you for being apart of this amazing hunt! Have a fantastic day!