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

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Flotsam and Jetsam Available for Pre-Order!






Flotsam and Jetsam: the Amelia Island Affair, will be released by the fabulous Wild Rose Press on December 17. 



Who's littering the park with corpses?

Blurb:
State Park Rangers Simon Ribault and Ellie Ironstone are used to dealing with messy campers and ravaging raccoons, but when three bodies wash up on the beach, they mobilize all their powers of deduction. Who are they and how did they get to the shore of Amelia Island? Are they connected to the secretive League of the Green Cross? Or linked to a mysterious Jamaican drug ring?
Ellie, new to Amelia Island, must penetrate a close-knit community if she wants to find answers to the mystery, all while deciding between two rivals for her affection: Thad, the handsome local idol, and Simon, the clever, quirky bookworm.
Simon, for his part, will have to call on his not-so-well-honed romantic prowess to lure Ellie away from Thad and at the same time use his wide-ranging research skills to solve the case.



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HOWEVER: you can preorder your very own copy at these select sites NOW:






Thursday, October 25, 2018

Mai Tais & Mayhem: When Tessa Meets Cameron


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.

Tessa volunteers at Mote Marine, which is where she meets Cameron Mason and the adventure begins. Cameron has just been hired to help lobby for the Sturgeon Commercial Demonstration Program. He and Tessa visit the aquaculture facility run by Mote for breeding sturgeon, financed by the sale of caviar. 

She learns that sturgeon in North America date back sixty million years, and in Asia two hundred million years. During that time they have remained relatively unchanged, which is why they’re often called living fossils.  Sturgeon live in lakes and rivers, and can reach 1200 pounds and 12 feet long—the Asian species grow even larger.

Lake sturgeon


Blurb:
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.


Excerpt (G):  Cameron’s Eyes


“Excuse me, do you work here?”
Tessa jumped. “What the—”
A man stood next to her. His trim body and broad shoulders encased in a finely-made dark suit hinted at strength. He wore a nametag, but the writing was too small for her to decipher without getting up close and personal with his chest. Once her eyes traveled up to his face, though, she wanted to. Very badly. Talk about hot.
He reminded her of a dream she’d had a few weeks earlier, in which a stranger held her in his arms and crooned a love song. Here in the flesh was her stranger. Dark blond hair feathered with gold, the mysterious tawny eyes of a stalking tiger, gently tanned skin drawn taut over the arched cheekbones, a nose…well, the nose could use some work. It tilted at an odd angle, presumably due to a collision with a blunt instrument sometime in the past. Tessa found it endearing.
“I repeat, do you work here?”
“I…uh…no. I don’t.” She indicated the nametag. “Do you?”
“Technically yes, only not in this building. I’m hoping you can tell me which door I use to get out. I mean, now that the aquarium’s closed.”
“It is? Oh damn.” She checked her watch. Ten minutes after five. “I guess we’d both better leave.”
Together they made a circuit of the doors, finding them all locked. Finally, the door to the gift shop gave to the combined pressure of four hands. Feeling like mischievous children, they crept past the ancient man counting money from the cash register. At the main entrance, her companion grinned at her. “Shall we make a break for it?”
Tessa smiled back and legged it out to the parking lot. She was rooting around in her bag for her keys when he caught up with her. “Hey, I didn’t catch your name.”
“Well, catch your breath first.” She waited, thinking he didn’t seem in very good shape despite his physique. Good. Otherwise he might have been too perfect. She didn’t want any complications in her life right now.
“Sorry,” he puffed. “I guess I haven’t entirely recovered from that bout with pneumonia.”
Damn.
“So, are you going to tell me your name? After all, we’re partners in crime now.”
“Tessa Diamond. And you are?”
“Cameron Mason. At your service.”
“Nice meeting you.” Tessa turned to her car. He cupped her elbow with a big, warm hand.
“Say, Ms. Diamond, can I interest you in a drink?”
“I don’t think...”
“You see, I was supposed to meet with the Lab director at five and he called in sick. Since I live up in Bradenton I really don’t want to schlep all the way back during rush hour. It would be nice to while away some time.” His lips curled in a tentative smile and she knew she’d have to give in. “You’d be doing me a favor. How does Tommy Bahama sound?”
Tessa gazed deep into eyes in which greens and browns intermingled in a steamy rainforest of color. She woke up with a start when he touched her elbow again. “Miss Diamond?”
“Uh, sure. That would be fine.” Can you act any lamer, Tessa? But those eyes…
“My car or yours?”
“Er, why don’t I follow you?” She should at least make an attempt at keeping her distance. Anything to get away from that scent of his, a combination of dark rum and cinnamon. Very…tasty.
“Okay. I’m the tropical blue hybrid over there. The one sporting the I Love Caviar bumper sticker.”
“And I’m…” she stopped.
“The red Porsche. I know.”
Shut up, Tessa.




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Saturday, October 20, 2018

Quirky Secondary Characters in the Pit & the Passion


At midnight, in the darkness of a deserted hotel, comes a scream and a splash. Eighty-five years later, workmen uncover a skeleton in an old elevator shaft. Who is it, and how did it get there? To find out, Charity Snow, ace reporter for the Longboat Key Planet, teams up with Rancor Bass, best-selling author. A college ring they find at the dig site may prove to be their best clue.

Although his arrogance nearly exceeds his talent, Charity soon discovers a warm heart beating under Rancor’s handsome exterior. While dealing with a drop-dead gorgeous editor who may or may not be a villain, a publisher with a dark secret, and an irascible forensic specialist, Charity and Rancor unearth an unexpected link to the most famous circus family in the world.



I love bringing the secondary characters in my stories alive. In The Mason’s Mark: Love & Death in the Tower, I have two old ladies who the heroine calls the Marples for their sleuthing skills. In Artful Dodging: the Torpedo Factory Murders, the heroine’s best friend is a wild-haired Russian artist who sculpts enormous metal objects. In The Pit & the Passion, the hero’s Aunt Gertrude is the quintessential Mainer—a rock.

Rancor comes from an old Maine family, and as families go, this one is quite colorful. Gertrude, Rancor’s aunt, is a remarkable person—custodian of the family records, compiler of family foibles and accomplishments, and stickler for proper form. Rancor calls on her to help with their search for the owner of the ring they found in the pit, and she comes through.
Strong Maine Women



Excerpt (G) Aunt Gertrude

“Is that you, my boy? Where are you? I can’t hear you.”
“I’m here in Florida, Auntie.”
“Florida? I don’t want you staying in that godforsaken place, Rancor. That’s where your grandfather met that hussy and abandoned his wife and family. Come back here to Camden where you belong. You hear me?”
“Yes, Auntie. I will soon, Auntie. Now, were you able to answer my question?”
“Question? Oh, yes. Now where did I put that note…” A loud clunk sounded, then a lot of rattling. “Hello? Hello? Rancor? Are you still there?”
“Yes, Auntie. I asked you if any men with the initials RB went to the University of Maine.”
“Yes, yes. You don’t have to ask me twice. I’m not deaf. Or feeble-minded.”
“I know that, Auntie.”
“Well, all right then,” she huffed. “I checked with the chancellor, who is an old friend of the family’s, although considering the circumstances, I don’t know how we remained on cordial terms.”
Charity squinted at Rancor.
“Excuse me?”
Gertrude went on with her monologue as though there’d been no interruption. “He was most gracious and looked up the student rolls from the 1930s. He found Basses, which doesn’t come as a surprise to me. I mean—”
“So Basses went to the University of Maine?”
“Of course. In fact, your great-great-grandfather Robert graduated in the very first class of the Maine College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts in 1873. He was a handsome man. I have a picture of him here. He’s standing next to his sister, and—”
“Auntie? Any others?”
“Of course. Basses were among the most celebrated graduates of the university—possibly because we donated masses of money to the endowment fund. Until your grandfather, that is…”
“What happened?”
“Well, Robert’s son, Robert Junior, finished in 1903 and his son, Robert the Third, three decades later. They both managed to avoid serving in the Great War, which was a real comfort to the women of the family, I can tell you. The Bass men have been singularly lucky—why, the last Bass to carry a gun was Robert T. back in the French and Indian War. Of course, he shot himself in the foot. Come to think of it, most of the Basses were not accepted into the armed forces for one reason or another. Gerald Bass—my cousin—had flat feet, and Elmer…well, let’s just say he was rather a dim bulb. Then there was—”
“Aunt Gertrude? What happened to my grandfather?”
“Robert the Third? You know what happened to him. He ran off with that tramp. It’s not something we’re proud of, but I don’t hold with keeping secrets in a family, so I made sure you children all heard the story, if only as a cautionary tale. At the time, my grandfather, Robert Junior, blamed it on the intemperate social life at the university, and he cut the school out of his will. That’s why Rupert didn’t go.”
“So the last Bass to attend the University of Maine was my grandfather Robert?”
“Yes. Now, I’ve got a list here of Bass women— we all proudly attended Vassar of course…that is, until that awful man forced us to go co-ed. I can’t tell you—”
“Oh, but you have, Aunt Gertrude. Many times.” Rancor paused. “Do you know the year of Robert Three’s graduation? Would it be 1931?” He looked through the door at Charity.
Mmm, let me see…1931? No, it was 1932.”
His eyes widened, and so did Charity’s. “Thank you very much, Aunt Gertrude. You’re a doll. Give my love to Uncle Orville.” He hung up over her loud protests. “Well.”

Related image
Camden Maine
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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Julie Howard Visits with Crime Times Two


Please welcome Julie Howard, Wild Rose author, and her new release Crime Times Two. This is the second book in her Wild Crime series. Tell us about about your series, Julie.



I’d be happy to, and thank you for having me at Tale Spinner.

When I first moved from California to Idaho, I was struck by the remote places people chose to live. The story for my Wild Crime series came immediately upon moving there: what would happen if a woman didn’t want to move to such a isolated location? What if her husband didn’t want her around anymore? What if she believed her only escape plan was to kill him?

The first book, Crime and Paradise, just about wrote itself, except for one major detail: the identity of the murderer. My first version was pretty different and it didn’t feel right. I rewrote the book with a completely different murderer. This version, the final version, made so much more sense.

Crime and Paradise is on sale today only for 99 cents.




I’m excited to have the second book in the series, Crime Times Two, released this month.

I know what you mean about finding the version that makes sense. In my last book, the Pit and the Passion, I only realized who the real culprit was when I was almost at galley stage!  So tell us the story of Crime Times Two.


 
Long Valley

When divorce is out of the question, can murder be forgiven?


Blurb
Meredith knows three things: First, the man in the library begged her to help him. Second, he was afraid of his wife. Third, now he’s dead.

While the evidence first points to a natural death, Meredith is certain there’s more to discover. People are tight-lipped in this small mountain village, and the man’s wife isn't talking either. Then a second death occurs, with remarkable similarities. It’s time to talk about murder. 

As a slow-burning relationship heats up in her own life, Meredith struggles with concepts of love and hate, belief and suspicion, and absolution and guilt. Nothing is clear cut…
She must decide: Is guilt, like evil, something you can choose to believe in?

The Wild Rose Press, Inc. (October 8, 2018)
296 pages
Mystery/Romance

  
Excerpt (G): Say What?

Jowls quivered under the man’s weak chin, and Meredith noted the stained and frayed shirt of someone who spent a lot of time alone in dark rooms, sending out a better version of himself into the virtual world. His eyes were anxious and beseeching at her as though she should have a clear understanding of him and his life.
Somehow, over the past hour and a half they’d been sitting next to each other – him playing video games and sharing his life story and her ignoring him the best she could – she had become his confessor and friend.
Meredith gave him what she hoped was an impartial-though-quasi-friendly smile. She reached for her purse and papers and rose from her chair. “Well. Nice talking with you.”
The man was lost in his own train of thought and seemed only slightly aware that Meredith was leaving.
He shook his head, morose.
“To make a long story short,” he summed up, “I think my wife is trying to kill me.”

Buy Links:

 
Julie Howard

About the Author:
Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime series. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild, editor of the Potato Soup Journal, and founder of the Boise chapter of Shut Up & Write. Learn more at http://juliemhoward.com.

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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Mount Vernon Bliss--Milo & Tristram Under the Lights--Excerpt from Artful Dodging



Murders,  mistrust, misfits, and miscreants—needlepoint artist Milo Everhart has her hands full. Can Tristram Brodie prove to her that love conquers all?


Blurb:
Brooding on both the death of her husband and the four needlepoint stockings she has to finish,  not to mention two mysterious murders, Milo Everhart is distracted by the handsome man standing in the pub doorway.

Tristram Brodie, hard-driving lawyer and former Marine, is focused on his plan to convert the Torpedo Factory Art Center into a box store. He is drawn to the beautiful woman watching him, but blocking the road to romance is his proposal to gut her beloved studio. 

As Milo and Tristram edge closer to love, they must find a way to overcome not only their differences but also the still painful memory of her loss.


Gideon's house on Windmill Hill


A Bit About the Scene:
Just south of Old Town Alexandria is Mount Vernon and the Arlington Cemetery, where Milo and Tristram go to see the Christmas decorations. Mount Vernon was, of course, George Washington’s home, a delightful colonial plantation house overlooking the Potomac River. Built in 1735, Washington expanded it over the years to twenty-one rooms. An interesting fact is that it is actually made of wood that was beveled and painted with a mix of paint and sand to look like sandstone.

At Christmas, when Milo and Tristram visit Mount Vernon, the house is beautifully decorated and there is a fireworks show. Also in attendance is Aladdin the Camel. Washington paid to bring a camel to the house the Christmas of 1787, and the event has been reenacted every year since 2008.
In this excerpt we find Milo & Tristram enjoying the holiday lights of Mount Vernon before heading home to light up the bedroom.



Excerpt (R): Mt. Vernon Bliss

“Magical.”
“Exactly what I was thinking.”
On the other side of the river the lights of Fort Washington dotted the water with pinpricks of phosphorescence. Behind the couple on the bench the strings of silver bulbs outlining George Washington’s home shone brightly, casting long black shadows across the lawn. Two heads nestled together. Milo purred.
“Are you cold?”
“A little.”
“You want to go in?”
“Not yet. I’m too content to move.”
She heard the chuckle in his voice. “It’s been a…nice day, hasn’t it?”
She snuggled closer under his arm. “Very.”
He kissed the top of her head tentatively. “Do you mind?”
“Uh uh.”
He pulled her chin toward him and softly kissed her lips. She was too relaxed, too happy to argue. Tristram peered at her. “I can’t see your face. Are you smiling?”
For an answer, she reached up and pulled him to her. A few minutes later he placed a gentle hand on her breast and tickled the nipple through the layers of fabric, making her heart spin.
“Let’s go home.”
The familiar words brought her back to reality. “What about Ursula?”
“Ursula? What about her?”
“Don’t you live together?”
He paused. “No.” The unspoken words were clear. No more questions.
On the drive back, her tranquil state gave way to anticipation. Tristram whipped his Jaguar in and out of the sleepy parkway traffic, never overly reckless, but enough to get her heart beating faster. He didn’t speak. For some reason, his silence aroused her even more. What is he thinking? Is he going to make love to me or drop me off like so much used tissue?
They pulled up in front of Tristram’s townhouse on Lee Street. The last time they’d been together, the surroundings had paled before other, more pressing needs. Now, as he handed her out, Milo paused to survey the park that lay between them and the river. The sky opened up here, a change from the tall, impendent row houses and narrow streets of Old Town. Stars flashed in the Milky Way, and the moon grinned at her as she shivered in the chill breeze.
Tristram took her arm. “Do you think we’ll have a white Christmas this year?”
The question first hit her as so unromantic, she worried her little dream would dissipate into the night, but then the words took on a cozy kind of comfort, like the chitchat of an old established couple. “I don’t know.”
He sniffed the air. “Smells like snow. Come on, Milo.”
She followed him, stifling both the disappointment and her desire. He’s going to offer me a drink and send me home. And that’s okay. I’ll be fine. Oh, but look at that butt and those shoulders. Is he sexier in Armani or L.L. Bean?
He closed the door behind her, ran his arms around her middle, and kissed the back of her neck. The little hairs rose to meet him. Electricity shot through her like a high-tension power line. He touched the top of her head and slowly spun her around to face him. His eyes burned into hers, and her mouth went dry.
“Milo?”
“Yes, Tristram?”
“Do you know where you are?”
“Um…your house?”
He grinned. “Just checking. You didn’t remember much about our last…encounter, and I want to make sure you are conscious during every single minute you spend here.”
Yeah, right. Forget the small talk and take me to bed, you big gorgeous lug.
“Okay.”
Oh my God, I said that out loud! Shit.


Old Town Alexandria at Christmas


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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Melissa Keir & Her Brand New Romance Only This Tuesday Visits


Please welcome Melissa Keir and her brand new romance Only This Tuesday. Can you tell us a little about the inspiration for the story?


A couple of months ago, D’Ann Lindun and I were talking about the demise of Kindle Worlds and thought about how much we enjoyed the aspect of a shared world. We created Copper Mills in less than hour and set about to find other authors who would like to write in our new venture.

As a guest (substitute) teacher, I work with a variety of students from a special needs preschool to sixth grade. I love working with the students. They inspire me in so many ways. One day over the summer, I worked in a special needs school with developmentally handicapped young adults. They were being taught basic skills like sorting. The secondary character of Gil was born. I knew he needed life skills and set about to tell his story through my main characters, Tuesday Benson, who is a strong supporter of helping the disabled and the mayor, Blake Rogers, who wins her heart. Toss in a jealous ex-fiancée and the conflict was born.

Only This Tuesday: A Copper Mills Novella

Blurb:

Only This Tuesday...

Tuesday Benson sets out to escape her past. A thieving boyfriend. A bankrupt restaurant. Memories of her brother. She's started over in Copper Mills with a taco truck more popular than most of the local eateries. But when Tuesday hires a local boy to help, will she stir up something more than a tasty treat?

Mayor Blake Rodgers enjoys the simple things in life. An early morning jog. Down-home cooking. The camaraderie of the small-town residents. With his help, Copper Mills has become a trendy tourist destination. But when Blake falls for the controversial food-truck owner, will he lose the town's backing?

Toss in bigotry and gossip as well as the mayor's former fiancée, and you have a recipe for disaster.


Come Visit Copper Mills, Arizona--a small town with a heart as big as the wide-open spaces and a long history of making dreams come true.


Available in ebook and print

Excerpt:
Crash…

Tuesday rammed into another cart, jostling her and pitching her toward the floor. She closed her eyes and prepared for pain, but muscular arms wrapped around her waist and steadied her.

“Are you okay?” A deep masculine voice resonated near her ear, warm breath brushing across her cheek. “Did you bump your head?”

A zip of energy from where he held her slid across her skin and sent tendrils of heat throughout her limbs. Feeling buzzed, Tuesday unwrapped herself from his body and pushed herself to stand on her own. She rubbed her fingers along the side of her face from her hairline down to her cheek, to clear her brain.

Slowly she inhaled and exhaled, feeling more like herself. Raising her gaze, she met the bluest eyes she’d ever seen. They were the light-sky blue of a summer morning. She took him in from the determined chin, which could have been chiseled from granite, to the strong Roman nose softened by full kissable lips underneath it. His dark-brown hair reminded her of dark chocolate and was styled in an Ivy League cut with shorter, tapered sides. While not traditionally handsome, the different aspects of the man’s face came together, creating a boyish yet sinful appearance.

“Thank you.” Her words came out breathy and deeper than normal.

“Are you okay?” He leaned in, bringing his face closer as he gazed into her eyes.

“I’m fine. No concussion. I didn’t hit my head. Thanks to you. Just a crazy accident.” She ran her tongue over her top lip and shoved her hand out. “I’m Tuesday Benson. Sorry about the crash, and thank you, once again.”

Zips of electricity flew through her skin when he grasped her hand. “I’m Blake Rogers. It’s nice to meet you.”

Tuesday caught herself staring at his teeth—shiny white teeth. “Do you use a whitening toothpaste?” Quickly, she clasped her hand over her mouth. “I’m sorry. Sometimes I talk before I think. You have a nice smile.”

His laughter lightened her mood. “I do use a special toothpaste my dentist recommended. While much of the work is my dentist’s skill, the real credit goes to my mom. She still has a beautiful grin at eighty-three.” He ran his hand over his chin, where a hint of a five o’clock shadow showed. “You’re honestly charming. I don’t think I’ve met anyone like you before. Would you like to stop for a coffee before you continue your shopping?”

“Sure. It’s the least I could do since you kept me on my feet. There’s a Starbucks at the front of the store.” She wiggled her brows. “Wanna race?”

He chuckled. “You’re on!”

Tuesday grasped her cart and sped off.

About the Author:

Melissa doesn’t believe in down time. She’s always keeping busy. Melissa is a wife and mother, an elementary school teacher, a movie reviewer with WHMI (a local radio station), owner of a publishing company as well as an author. Her home blends two families and is a lot like the Brady Bunch, without Alice- a large grocery bill, tons of dirty dishes and a mound of laundry. She loves to write stories that feature happy endings and is often seen plotting her next story.



She’d love to hear from you!



Other Books by Melissa Keir
Wilder Sisters Series:
Forever Love
Beach Desires
A Christmas Accident
Coming Home
Home is Where the Heart Is (combine print of Wilder Sisters’ Books)
**
The Cowboys of Whisper, Colorado
The Heartsong Cowboy
The Heartbroken Cowboy
Claiming the Cowboy’s Heart
A Pigskin Cowboy
Broken Dreams
Broken Vows
Redeeming Dreams
Bidding for the Cowboy’s Heart
**
Charming Chances:
Charming Chances (print of combined ebooks)
Second Time’s a Charm
Three’s a Crowd
**
Pigg Detective Agency:
Protecting His Wolfe
Protecting Her Pigg
Protecting His Red
Tempting Danger Box Set (Coming Soon)
**
Magical Matchmaker
Chalkboard Romance
One Night in Laguna
One Night Behind Bars
**
Crash and Burn
Redeeming Love
The House that Built Me
Wildly Drawn to Him
Rescue Love
**
Love, Bake, Write (recipe book)
The Way to the Heart (recipe book)
We’d Rather Be Writing (recipe book)
Musings of a Madcap Mind (memoirs)