Please help me welcome today’s guest, M.S. Spencer with her new release:
Release day for Hidden Gem: the Secret of St. Augustine!! Let me introduce you to the heroine—Philo Brice, owner of Mind Over Matter, an antique book and map store, and the hero, Barnaby Swift, graduate student and famous cruciverbalist. In the excerpt, he takes her for the best chili in St. Augustine. Or so he thinks.
Barnaby and Philo’s story begins with very bad chili and a dead body.
Barnaby is in St. Augustine, Florida, to teach a college seminar, and plans to use The Secret—a treasure hunt book—as a framework for his class. He enlists Philo Brice, owner of an antique map store, to aid him in seeking clues in the historic sites of the ancient city.
Together they face murderers, thieves, thugs, and fanatics, heightening their already strong attraction to each other. Can they solve the puzzle and unearth the treasure before the villains do? Philo and Barnaby pursue several twisting paths and false leads before arriving at a startling conclusion.
Barnaby stopped to survey the street, took a tentative step, and halted again. He whirled around and trotted back the way they had come. “Ah, here we are. Thought for a minute I’d misplaced it.” He led Philo down an alley she’d never noticed before to a tiny restaurant—little more than a hole in the wall. A chalkboard hung in its grimy window. Scrawled on it were the words Welcome to Flora’s. “Let’s see what the specials are.” He read. “Well, how do you like that? Chili’s on the menu. Again.” He held the door for her.
The interior was painted a garish turquoise. Two wobbly Formica-topped tables took up the open space. Pink vinyl stools lined the counter. A woman supported herself on its scratched and stained surface, folds of fat cushioning her elbows. On the steel shelf behind her stood a large coffee urn and a cake stand piled with dusty-looking churros. How on earth did she wedge herself into that cramped space? She has to weigh four hundred pounds.
Barnaby strode up to the woman. “You must be Flora. Reservations for two at six, under Swift. I know we’re a trifle early, but could you squeeze us in?” Flora stared silently at him. He said heartily, “Well, then. Two bowls of your finest chili please, with all the fixings. You want a beer?” This last to Philo.
He walked over to a refrigerated display case and pulled two bottles out. “Dos Equis. Excellent.”
They sat at one of the tables, and Flora brought out two soup bowls filled with a dark red mess, along with a tray of grated cheese, and chopped onions and peppers. She plunked a basket of fresh tortilla chips in between the bowls. “Buen provecho.”
Barnaby pulled a small bottle from his pocket. “I always carry my own hot sauce. A blend of pineapple, serrano chilis, and chipotle, with a hint of chocolate.” He poured a generous amount over his chili.
Philo took a tentative bite of hers. Her eyes opened wide, and she almost spit it out.
Barnaby handed her a napkin, concern coloring his face. “Whatever’s the matter?”
She wiped her mouth and whispered, “This is vile.”
Barnes&Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hidden-gem-m-s-spencer/1140893266 /BIN ID: 2940161144589
Librarian, anthropologist, Congressional aide, speechwriter—M. S. Spencer has traveled the globe. She has published fifteen romantic suspense or murder mystery novels, with two more on the way. She has two fabulous grown children and an incredible granddaughter. She divides her time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.