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

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Welcome to the Final Day of the Summer Romance Blog Hop

Welcome Summer! Welcome Summer Romance! We are hopping blog to blog to jam about summer from May 24 to 30 with lots of prizes, including a Grand Prize of a $100 Amazon GC!

Anyone who has spent time in a sauna will understand what it's like in Washington, DC in August. Spend five minutes outdoors and you begin to feel like a sieve—you pour water down your throat and it immediately dribbles out all over your body. This is why Congress takes its major break in August, which leaves more room for the hordes of tourists that descend on the glistening white marble city in the summer. In fact, at noon on a typical day, it's hard to distinguish between the glistening marble and the glistening people.

My latest novel, The Mason's Mark, is set in Washington in August. Did I choose the setting to torture my heroine? No, of course not. I chose it because otherwise my hero, Senator Gideon Bliss, would be too busy with legislative work to fall in love, find long-lost papers, and help solve a murder. And because most people in Washington in August are too damned hot to pay much attention to any mysterious corpses that show up unexpectedly.

Secret Cravings Publishing (2014)
78,400 words, Romantic suspense, Murder mystery, M/F, 3 flames

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.

From a reviewer: "Tip-toeing somewhere along the fine line between modern, easy-to-read fiction and a language style of her own that reminds me of crime novels of the past, the author delivers a powerful read that has made me a fan forever." Devika Fernando, 5 stars.

Buy Links (Ebook and Print)

Excerpt (PG): Black ops and Renegade Masons...and the Other Woman
The heat smacked into them as they walked out of the police station into an empty parking lot. Washington had finally clawed its way out of August, but September looked to be more of the same—hot enough to grip your diaphragm and shake it, and humid enough to forestall dehydration. Claire wiped a drop of perspiration from the tip of her nose. “I feel like I’m slogging through a bathtub full of water.”
Ernest pointed to a high-rise office building in the distance. “Since they built the new station on landfill nobody wanted, we’ll have to hike a few blocks to get to the commercial district.” They strolled up Eisenhower Avenue, trying not to breathe in the aromas of melting deodorant and sunscreen from passing bodies, until they came to a coffee shop. “Let’s get something cold to drink.”
Claire’s mouth watered at the prospect of iced tea. Ernest found a table for two by the picture window and went to the counter while Claire watched a Lincoln Navigator and a Mini Cooper duke it out for the last parking spot.
When he returned with two large glasses, he carefully surveyed the restaurant. The place was empty except for a booth on the other side of the room. He sat down and said in a low voice, “Have you ever heard of Operation Gladio?”
Claire dipped the napkin in the tea and dabbed at the back of her neck. “No.”
“According to military historians—and a lot of conspiracy theorists—the CIA and NATO set up a secret organization at the end of World War II to disrupt any attempts to establish Communist governments in western Europe.”
“Oh, yes, I did read about that—black something…”
“Black ops—short for operations. Until yesterday I would have shaken my head in regretful disbelief at the idea. We’ve got one guy at the station who does nothing but monitor wacko websites. You wouldn’t believe—”
“You’re saying it exists?” The coffee, a pint of water, and now iced tea, were taking their toll on Claire’s bladder. She thought she could manage another ten minutes of literary foreplay, but that was it.
“Yes. I have a contact at the Pentagon—he sometimes feeds me information through non-official channels. He told me Operation Gladio is still very much alive, and they were the ones who told the Italians to back off. My man told me Truffatore had been linked to Operation Gladio after World War II and he thinks they’re on Scordato’s trail. One agent has been after him for over ten years.”
“Do you suppose he’s looking for the lost treasure?”
“Lost treasure? Oh, Truffatore’s stash? Nah—these are government types, not treasure hunters. It must have something to do with P2 and its dealings with the KGB. Or the Mafia. Or the Perónists. Or…” He took a long pull on his iced tea. “At any rate, a couple of months ago, the Gladio agent intercepted a message from Truffatore’s daughter to Scordato. Whatever it said, it sent Scordato into a tizzy.”
“What do you mean, ‘whatever it said’? If the black ops guy intercepted it, why couldn’t he read it?”
“According to my source, it was in code—a new one. When he couldn’t decipher it he got the wind up. The last his superiors heard from him he had hopped a plane to Washington, in hot pursuit of Scordato.”
“Has he turned up?”
“Not that we know of. But then we wouldn’t. My friend said all communication from the Gladio people abruptly shut off a month ago. He has no clue what’s going on.”
Her body indicating in no uncertain terms that she would embarrass herself if she didn’t find a ladies’ room immediately, Claire stood. Ernest rose, an anxious smile on his face. “Was it something I said?”
“No, no, I’ll be right back.” As she wended her way through the empty tables toward the restrooms, she approached the one occupied booth. A hat of indigo straw bobbed just above the tall seat back. She heard furious whispering. As she passed the booth she slowed and a woman looked up and straight at Claire. Dorcas. She turned hastily away, but not before Claire had seen a reddened nose and flushed cheeks that clashed harshly with huge chocolate eyes filled with tears.

Tell me your favorite spot to spend a summer and have a chance to win a copy of Mai Tais and Mayhem: Murder at Mote Marine (a Sarasota romance), another romantic suspense set in the hot Gulf Coast summer. Click on the Rafflecopter link and be entered in the running for the grand prize--A $100 Amazon gift certificate. Be sure to leave your email address in the comment.

Then click below to go to the other fabulous authors on the hop or click on individual authors. Have fun!


morgan said...

Great post :)

Kathy Osborn said...

Love to spend it on the beach or go camping. Thanks for the hop and giveaway. koala571 at msn dot com

Beverly Ovalle said...

I love to spend it lying in the sun - any where - with a good book and something good to drink.

Cathy Lee said...

I went to graduate school in Tampa and spent a good amount of time in Sarasota, but I hate FL in the summer. I live near the beach now, so I prefer cool mountain getaways in the summer--Maine, Rhode Island, Asheville, etc.
capefearlibn at gmail dot com

Booklover Sue said...

We generally don't go anywhere in summer though as the kids start getting older, we will hopefully be vacationing for longer than 2 days (we do that now) and further than 2 hours away. We live in NY so weather is nice in winter and there are a variety of places to visit for a weekend.

susanmplatt AT Hotmail DOT com

M. S. Spencer said...

Cathy Lee--I'm with you on FL summers (pretty similar to DC but with a breeze) and on Maine! M. S.

Heare2Watts said...

My favorite place is mini trip for a few days with hubby and going antiquing, especially small little towns. We really enjoy Decatur-Hartsel, AL area.

bn100 said...

Nice excerpt
the beach

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Sherry said...

I don't like to sweat so I like to stay in or go shopping in the summer.
sstrode at scrtc dot com

Quilt Lady said...

Its the same way here in Aug. Your book looks good.

Quilt Lady said...

Forgot my email

quiltlady110 AT gmail DOT com

Chynarey said...

No place in particular nowadays...
As long as it's quiet and i can read a couple of hrs, and any other time is spent with my lil man having fun doing whatever he wants and likes...
L_Laws38 at yahoo dot com