Flotsam & Jetsam

What set Ellie off anyway? A thought intruded. No, couldn’t be. He checked her profile. Nah. But his mouth formed a hopeful smile, and he leaned back, humming his favorite tune. Flotsam & Jetsam

The dashing Frenchman or the handsome handyman? Who will she choose? For the Love of a Spy

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

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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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Mai Tais and Mayhem: Murder at Mote Marine

Today I’d like to talk about my murder mystery romance, 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.

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Griffin the Grump's at Dena Garson's Today

Drop by Dena Garson’s lovely site today for a taste of the Penhallow Train Incident, my Maine mystery romance. In it we meet the hero Griffin Tate, and, although he appears curmudgeonly, you’ll find he has a soft heart. Read about it here:

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Want to find out how a big old black bear can stir a human’s libido? In this new excerpt, Catherine gets up close and personal with a bear and Holden comforts her in my new romantic suspense, A Widow’s Walk: Catherine’s Dilemma, available at all fine online book stores in ebook and print-on-demand. Get your copy now!

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 and Catherine meet in the North Woods, where moose and bears are common.

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
Ebook: words; Print: 227 p.
Contemporary romantic suspense, M/F, 2 flames

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