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

Monday, October 23, 2017

Rachel is Swept Off Her Feet--Literally--in the Penhallow Train Incident

 How about a romantic excerpt from, The Penhallow Train Incident, my romantic suspense mystery set in Maine.

Griffin Tate, hero of my new mystery romance the Penhallow Train Incident,  is a retired Middle Eastern history professor and becomes ensnared in the search for a fictional map to the Queen of Sheba’s tomb. Now, it’s uncertain whether the Queen of Sheba ever existed, or where the land of Sheba was, but according to the Bible, the Ethiopian Book of Kings, and many legends throughout the Middle East, she came from a nation in the south to meet with King Solomon. She has always intrigued scholars and in Penhallow Train Incident, she draws  not only Tate, but the lovely Rachel Tinker and a slew of quirky characters into her mystery.

Rachel's House

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. 

Excerpt (PG): The First Time

Rachel tried not to scream. She took a big gulp of air and let the words rush out on the exhale. “It’s the woman. The woman with the deposit slip. She’s dead.”
“I’m coming over.” She heard a click and a buzz.
Fifteen minutes later the screen door slammed, and Griffin stalked in without bothering to knock. He went straight to the kitchen, filled two glasses with ice, and poured whiskey into both. Carrying them to the living room, he handed one to Rachel without a word. Without a word, she took the remnants of her old drink and poured them into the new one. She set it down. For a second she stared at it, then reached out to pick it up again, but Griffin gently moved the glass away and took her in his arms.
She’d thought she was fine until then.
The tears flowed, and she hiccupped and gurgled about life and death while he muttered unintelligible words into her hair. When what had been a mild need for a tissue grew too urgent to ignore, she left his shoulder. A couple of wipes and a swig of bourbon and she could look Griffin in the eye. He dabbed ineffectually at his soaked shirt with a dirty handkerchief. “Better?”
“Yes, thanks. It’s just…I feel so responsible.
His eyebrows rose. “Responsible? Why?”
“She came to me. She gave the purse to me. She wanted me to help her. And for that she was murdered.”
“We don’t know anything of the sort. What did they say on the news?”
“Only that her body was found in the Passagassawaukeag.”
“She could have fallen in. She could have committed suicide. From what you told me she was very upset.”
Rachel recalled the young woman’s face. “Not upset. Frightened.”
“But not of the man she was with?”
“N…no. I don’t know how to describe it. She seemed…hunted. But determined.” She took another sip of bourbon and settled back on the cushion. So what if Griffin’s arm happens to be resting on the back? “Griffin, we’ve got to find out who she—they—were.” She turned to find his face inches from hers. “And what she was afraid of.”
He gazed into her eyes, his own inscrutable, then faced the television. “No. You have to let the police handle it.”
Rachel, who had forgotten what they were talking about in the overwhelming desire to kiss the man next to her, couldn’t think of anything to say.
Finally, he mumbled, “Turn it up—it looks like they’re talking about her.”
She did as she was told.
A bold headline announcing Breaking News filled the screen before Sheriff Quimby’s face appeared. Someone pressed a microphone under his chin. “…found about five-thirty by Kenny Cross. He was fishing off the bridge and snagged a white object floating by.”
A reporter asked, “How long had she been dead?”
“The coroner is examining her now. We won’t have any answers until tomorrow.” He started to leave, trailed by shouted questions.
“Did she drown?”
“Was it suicide?”
“Who is she?”
He shook his head and waved before ducking into a squad car.
The camera trained on a reporter. Short and stumpy, he tugged at his wrinkled polo before attempting to smooth his waning hair. “That was Sheriff Quimby of the Penhallow police, Andrew. It looks like we won’t get any more information tonight, but he’s scheduled a press conference for tomorrow at noon.”
“Is he going to discuss the first murder—the train incident, Lou?”
“Hopefully, although he didn’t mention it tonight.”
“Did anyone ask if the two deaths are related?”
“The sheriff only said that, so far, there’s no indication of either foul play, or of a connection between the two deaths.”
The anchor turned to his partner. “So, Bambi—”
Griffin jerked upright. “Bambi?”
“—are we looking at a rash of thrill crimes down there in the hitherto bucolic town of Penhallow?”
Bambi shook out her hair and touched her ruby lips before facing the camera. “I certainly hope not, Andrew. My grammy lives in Penhallow.”
Andrew stared at her for a long moment before turning to the camera. “Thank you, Lou. Keep us posted.”
Rachel muted the volume. “What should I do?”
Griffin patted her shoulder. “There’s nothing we can do tonight. Toby knows about your encounter with the woman, right?”
“So he’ll probably want to see you tomorrow.”
“Yes, I suppose so.” She put a hand to her mouth. “I forgot—Lieutenant Blanchard will be there.”
“The state police detective. He’s the one who showed me the photo.”
“Why what?”
“Why will he be there?”
“Toby told him about me and the deposit slip. He said he was coming out from Augusta tomorrow.”
“So he doesn’t know his quarry is kaput yet?”
Rachel shook her head. “This is no time to be facetious. I’m sure it’s been reported by now. And Toby surely would have called him.”
Griffin sipped his drink. “Why did this Blanchard bloke go back to Augusta? Isn’t he investigating the corpse on the train?”
“I don’t know. I assumed he was, but now I think of it, except for his questions about the passengers, he didn’t seem all that interested in it.”
Griffin shrugged. “Who knows? Maybe he isn’t. Maybe he’s pursuing a cold case and this was just a fishing expedition.”
“Maybe. I wish we could have found something on the bank. It’s very frustrating.”
Her companion bent forward and pinched her chin between his thumb and forefinger. “There’s…nothing…we…can…do…tonight.”
For answer he let go of her face, drew her into his arms and kissed her. The kiss was tentative. She kissed him back, tentatively. “I…”
“Shut up.” This time they didn’t come up for air for a while. When they did, they stared at each other as if seeing one another for the first time. He said, “I…uh…didn’t mean to do that. I…”
She rose. “Oh, I see.” She picked up Spot and nuzzled him, hoping Griffin couldn’t see her tears well up. “I guess you’d better go then.”
He stood. “Okay. But…um, actually…what I meant to say is…I’ve been meaning to do that for a while. But I wasn’t sure...I didn’t know…I didn’t think…” He trailed off.
The bewildered look in his cerulean eyes as he shifted his weight from foot to foot reminded her of a kindly giant bobbling a baby bunny. She went up on tiptoe and touched her lips to his cheek.
The response was immediate. Griffin swept her up off the floor and charged through the kitchen door. Confronted with the refrigerator, he stopped, turned, and plunged in the opposite direction. Ending up where they’d started, he bellowed, “Where the hell’s your bedroom?”
She pointed at the ceiling. “Upstairs.”
Without another word he leapt up the steps, only banging her head once on the banisters, and dropped her on the bed. Then he stood, legs set wide like a latter-day Paul Bunyan, and folded his arms.
She lay where he’d dropped her, panting. “Now what?”
“You tell me.”
Oh, for heaven’s sake. “Come here, you great gob of indecision.”
Those seemed to be the words he was looking for, since for the rest of the evening he proved to her just how decisive he could be.

View from Rachel's Porch
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.

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Coming soon from The Wild Rose Press:

The Pit and the Passion: Murder at the Ghost Hotel

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Mai Tais and Mayhem: Wedding Bloopers

So many romances, so many crooks: can Tessa Diamond, turtle protector and amateur sleuth, keep them straight and still find true love?

I’d like to talk about my romantic suspense/murder mystery set on the Gulf coast of Florida, 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.

I Heart Publishing, 12/7/2015
Contemporary romantic suspense, M/F, 2 flames, Mystery
eBook 68,840 words; print 208 pp.

Tessa’s best friend Esther Williams is the unlikely namesake of the great Olympic swimmer and star of many beautiful synchronized swimming movie scenes. She is also not a person one would expect to find love and romance, but she does. This scene takes place at her wedding and the dramatic finish comes as no surprise to Tessa.

Excerpt (G): Synchronized Swimming

“You look absolutely stunning, Esther.”
The bride fluffed a nonexistent train and did a little skip. “You were right—the scoop neck is perfect. It really sets off the pearls that Noah’s mother gave me.”
Tessa smiled affectionately and took a covert glance at her own reflection in the full-length mirror. The brilliant green silk sheath and the peacock feather in her gleaming black chignon gave her an exotic look. Tessa worried only slightly that she would outshine the bride, but gave her hand an imaginary slap anyway. This is Esther’s day, remember that.
Molly opened the door. “The guests are here and the music has started. Where’s your escort, Miss Williams?”
“I’m right here.” Peter Plaice peeked in behind Molly, his hands on her shoulders. He scooted around her. “May I have the honor?” He crooked his arm. Esther took it, her blush adding a spot of rose to her pale face. He gestured at Tessa, who took a deep breath and stepped through the door.
A walkway between two banks of folding chairs led to a small, bougainvillea-covered cupola. Noah stood there, nervously twisting his hands. To his left hovered five beefy cops in full uniform, trying not to stamp their feet. Tessa had a fleeting vision of them rampaging through the crowd, slapping handcuffs on wayward guests. As the strains of Pachelbel’s Canon started, she began her slow march.
The sun blazed, resplendent in a cloudless sky. A slight breeze ruffled the ladies’ hats and lace collars. Beyond the pool, a great blue heron watched sedately from the edge of the marsh, while an anhinga spread his wings and basked in the late afternoon warmth.
As she passed down the aisle, she recognized Elver Johnson with his wife and Leslie Pilchard. She noted with surprise that Semele, perched demurely at Pilchard’s right, had cleaned up reasonably well in a long granny skirt and peasant top. Behind them sat Henry Stillwater next to a young girl, whose fine blonde hair and skittish expression betrayed a close genetic bond to the dolphin director. On the bride’s side Greg, Phil, and Sue Conger sat next to Molly. Josiah sat alone, a few chairs away. Angus took up a back row with a group she didn’t recognize, including a tiny white-haired lady in shades of mauve. Must be his mother. She gave Tessa an impish grin and waved a satin-gloved hand. Tessa wondered if Angus had told her about Fiona. Or about Molly.
Cameron was nowhere in sight. She took a deep, sad breath and kept walking.
The ceremony went smoothly. Tessa kept her eyes fastened on the happy couple, refusing to check the congregation for a head of golden hair. When Esther and Noah broke apart from an embarrassed kiss, Tommy took over. He supervised a bevy of waiters as they passed among the crowd bearing large trays and flutes filled with champagne.
“Oh, my dear, what a beautiful wedding. I can’t believe how young Esther looks!”
“And not too thin! She used to be such a stick.”
This, thought Tessa uncharitably, coming from one woman whose blonde wig barely hid the wispy blue hair and another whose bulk had taken up two wobbly chairs. “Yes, happiness will do that.” She smiled and moved on.
The photographer had insisted that the formal wedding party pictures be taken poolside, so Tessa, Esther and Noah, together with five gargantuan policemen, crowded together on the narrow coping. As the sun began to set, the tree swallows came out to feed, swooping acrobatically around and over their heads. The sight of all those brawny men ducking and cursing as the tiny aviators dive-bombed their heads set Tessa off. A minute later she was no longer amused, as the water closed over her head. She rose, spluttering, to see Esther, her little tiara askew, surface next to her. Noah, with his men behind him making encouraging noises, leaned as far out as he could to catch his bride’s hand. Suddenly, like a scene from Keystone Kops, the entire brigade toppled domino style into the pool.
The cops scrambled out, mumbling curses, but it took Noah three tries to propel Esther up the pool ladder. The minister helped Tessa to a lounge chair, where she sat, wringing out her sopping dress. She swung around at a noise behind her. Cameron stood there, his mouth working. “I should have known Esther would insist on a synchronized swimming event at her wedding.”
Esther burst out laughing. She turned to her new husband. “And here I expected that marrying a Noah would protect me from deep water!”

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Old Love, New Love: Lapses of Memory

The night was young, the guns were asleep, and they decided to take a stroll along the bits of sidewalk still left in the famous district known as the Hamra.

Lapses of Memory follow the exploits of two journalists, Sydney Bellek and Elian Davies, as they travel the globe reporting on various world catastrophes. The first time they meet as adults, Elian is about to infiltrate a fictional Greek revolutionary group, and Sydney is off to Cairo to study Arabic. The next time they are both covering the initial stages of the revolution in Iran and only barely escape. Again a few years later we find them rivals in the search for a scoop on the Lebanese Civil War. With all the absences and crises and competition, it doesn't seem that a happy ending can ever happen, but then this is a romance.

Since I lived through these same events, I wanted to convey both the excitement and the trepidation associated with being in the midst of a world-shattering crisis. As reporters Sydney and Elian sensed that something important was going on, but couldn’t know the extent or the consequences of it. To add that dimension, Sydney tells the story of her life to her daughter. I hope you find it as romantic as I do.

Wild Rose Press, 3/15/2017, Imprint: Champagne Rose
Contemporary romantic suspense/Action Adventure; M/F; 2 flames
Ebook (70,560); Print: 296 pp.

Sydney Bellek first meets Elian Davies in the 1950s on a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser when she is five and he is seven. They run into each other every few years after that, but while he knows from the start that she is his true love, she does not. Later, as rival journalists, they vie for scoops on international crises from the Iranian revolution to the Lebanese civil war. The handsome and intrepid Elian beats her out at every turn, even while keeping his love for her secret.

Only after years of separation does she finally realize they are meant to be together, but this time, in a twist of fate, it is Elian whose memory of her is gone. Will he remember her before she loses heart or will their new love be enough to replace the old one?

This excerpt takes place in Old Town Alexandria, where Elian and Sydney are trying to get reacquainted after a long separation.

Excerpt (PG): Old & New Love

They left Landini Brothers and wandered down past the Torpedo Factory to the pier. The late spring weather had brought out both the ducks and the humans. Other people’s laughter and conversations filled the silence that lay between them. A man set up a table with wine glasses and began to run his finger around the rims, creating an eerie, silvery tintinnabulation. Sydney, lost in her thoughts, tossed bits of the roll she’d brought from the restaurant into the water. A wedge of American coots scooted over, their white bills pumping back and forth as if they believed the movement would help them go faster. Elian hung over the railing.
“Sydney? Can I ask you something?”
“Uh huh.”
“Would you have picked me up that day at the Smithsonian if you didn’t think I was this Elian of yours?”
She started to say something flippant but noticed his eyes glimmering in the feeble yellow light. “I…”
He continued to stare at the water. “Sydney, these last two weeks have been…special. I never thought…I mean, I know it’s strange. And me with no real background—nothing to offer you, no…me as it were. I—”
She stopped his meandering with her lips. His arms went tentatively around her. For a minute, they floated in a cocoon of mist, the voices and music fading into the background. She drowned in a mixture of new feelings and old memories, of hope and despair, of the past and the possibility, hitherto unanticipated, of a future. He stepped back, holding her at arm’s length. His voice steady, he whispered, “The moment. Let’s live for that tonight.”
Resolved to accept his wish, at least for now, she followed him.

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Jennifer Lowery is Here Today with a Great Deal

Please welcome Jennifer Lowery and the second book in her Wolff Securities series, Not Without Risk.

Hello fans and readers! How is everyone today? I’m great. Fall is my favorite season and in honor of that I am offering the second book in my Wolff Securities Series, Not Without Risk, for .99 cents on Amazon, September 30-October 4! Yay! Of course, Kindle Unlimited subscribers always read for free. Keep reading for buy links!

If you haven’t read the first book, Maximum Risk, no worries. These are stand-alone books as well as part of a series. You don’t have to read them in order, but I recommend it. Simply because you will get a fuller character experience by reading them in order.

As a bonus for your continued support and generosity I have including one of my favorite fall recipes. I make these muffins every year and they never last long, lol. Please enjoy the recipe and the .99 cent book!

Not Without Risk Blurb:
He always keeps his promises…

Private security specialist, Nate Wolff promised to rescue humanitarian aid worker, Macy Gibbs, not harbor a fugitive. Determined to keep his promise and not make the same mistakes his brother made, he risks his life to protect her from the terrorist group hunting her.

Keeping this one will be the hardest thing he’s ever had to do…

With a bounty on her head for the murder of a man who bought her in an illegal human trafficking ring, Macy Gibbs puts both her life, and the life of the tall, handsome stranger who’s vowed to rescue her, in danger. Emotionally scarred from her ordeal, she trusts no one. But, can the biggest danger she’s about to face be the impact this former SEAL has on her heart?

Not Without Risk Excerpt:

Nate put a hand on Macy’s shoulder. She didn’t stir. Unable to resist, he caressed her cheek. Warm. Not as hot. A good sign. Beneath his hand her skin felt soft as silk. He gently ran his thumb across the fading bruise on her jawline. Anger and the urge to protect and defend surged through him. Except, it felt more personal. Not just a bodyguard protecting his charge. More…
Nope. Not going there. The reasons stuck like a knife in his heart.
He dropped his hand to his side, sobered, and put his thoughts in proper order. First things first. Get Macy dressed, then grab her and go. They may not have confiscated his weapons, but that could be a ruse to keep him off guard.
His supply of clothing for Macy was running low. Only two shirts and one pair of pants left. Foregoing the undergarments, he grasped the edge of the blanket, prepared to dress her and make a run for it.
The murmured question came from Macy. He froze, his gaze flying to her face to find her eyes open. Glazed, confused.
Letting go of the blanket, he leaned over her. “Hey. I’m here.”
Her beautiful blue eyes that reminded him so much of Bleu Lake back home, met his, radiating with pain. “Don’t leave me. Please.”
The impact of those words went straight through his chest. At that moment, he knew they couldn’t go. Not until she was healthy enough to go. They’d pushed hard already and look where it got them.
Bending, he pressed a kiss to her forehead. “I’m not going anywhere. Go back to sleep. You’re safe.”
That seemed to work because the tension went out of her muscles and her eyes drifted closed. Seconds later her breathing evened out, indicating she slept peacefully.
Nate straightened and scrubbed a hand down his face. He returned the clothes to his pack, dragged the crude chair in front of the bed and dropped down on it. His Glock now rested across his thigh, finger near the trigger as he settled in.
Whomever, or whatever, came through that door they would have to go through him first in order to get to Macy. And he’d die before he let another person hurt her.

Buy the Book:

And now for the recipe!! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

15 ounce can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

8 ounce cream cheese, softened
1 egg yolk
5 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla

1.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.   Mix pumpkin, vegetable oil and sugar on low speed with electric mixer (I use my Kitchen Aid stand mixer).
3.   Add in eggs, one at a time, combining thoroughly after each addition.
4.   Add vanilla
5.   In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices. Slowly add to liquids, scraping sides of bowl to combine.
6.   Make Filling: Mix filling ingredients until combined.
7.   Fill 12 muffin cups with cupcake liners.
8.  Fill each with pumpkin mixture.
9.   Spoon cream cheese mixture on top and swirl with a skewer or toothpick.
10. Bake until done.

Meet Jennifer :
New York Times & USA Today bestselling author, Jennifer Lowery grew up reading romance novels in the back of her math book and on the bus to school, and never wanted to be anything but a writer.  Her summers were spent sitting at the kitchen table with her sisters spinning tales of romance and intrigue and always with a tall glass of ice tea at their side.

Today, Jennifer is living that dream and she couldn’t be happier to share her passion with her readers.  She loves everything there is about romance.  Her stories feature alpha heroes who meet their match with strong, independent heroines.  She believes that happily ever after is only the beginning of her stories. And the road to that happy ending is paved with action, adventure, and romance. As her characters find out when they face danger, overcome fears, and are forced to look deep within themselves to discover love.

Jennifer lives in Michigan with her husband and charming rescued tomcat named Shamrock. Their son lives near them and is in the Army National Guard as well as a student at a local university. Their daughter is married and lives with her amazing husband who is stationed at Fort Bragg.

When she isn’t writing she enjoys reading and spending time with her family.

Connect with Jennifer:
Read more about her books on her website: https://jenniferloweryauthor.com/
Please "like" her Facebook author page! https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJenniferLowery/
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Join Jennifer’s Street Team: https://jenniferloweryauthor.com/

Thank you so much for spending a few minutes with me today! I appreciate it more than you can know!

Happy Fall,