Tag Archives: romantic suspense

Author Interview with Patricia McAlexander ~ The Student in Classroom 6 #RomanticSuspense

Please help me welcome today’s guest, Patricia McAlexander… 

 

Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?  

I grew up in Johnstown, New York, a town of about 11,000 in the foothills of the Adirondacks. I lived for a time in New York City and Madison, Wisconsin, attending graduate schools, and in Denver, Colorado, where I taught at an extension of the University of Colorado. I now live in Athens, Georgia, where I moved with my husband when he took a position in the University of Georgia’s English Department—and soon I taught there myself. Our grown-up son lives and works in Atlanta. I’ve had various much loved pets throughout my life—a turtle, a guinea pig, a cat. And there were the dogs. I grew up with a cocker spaniel named Rusty (one of my first words was ‘Russ,”) and later a beagle named George. Here in Athens there was Daisy, a poodle, and Peanut, a dachshund. Right now, however, I’m “between pets.”

Why did you choose this genre (is it something you’ve written in before)? 

The genre of The Student in Classroom 6, like that of my first two published novels,  is romantic suspense. I chose romance because love is something most of us need and hope for in our lives—look at the themes of songs, movies, literature.  Now, in these difficult times, we need such themes more than ever. Also, romance can involve personal growth, something I’m interested in as a teacher. In my fiction, I portray individuals further developing their own values and identities as they discover love. I included the suspense (in this novel, a murder mystery) to add extra drama to the romance. 

Was there anything unusual, any anecdote about this book, the characters, title, process, etc, you’d like to share? 

A specific event inspired this novel. I live on an historic street in Athens, Georgia, lined with old houses and huge, old trees. One night my husband and I came out of our house to find the road and sidewalk in front of it completely blocked by gigantic magnolia limbs. Part of the ancient tree across the street had split off and fallen. The city cleaned up the road, but a private tree service had to come and take down the dangerous remaining portion of the tree. From our porch we had a front row seat, watching the drama of the tree removal and the skilled men up in the bucket and at its base taking it down. That event inspired me to create one of the main characters in The Student in Classroom 6—Tyler McHenry, the young arborist taking Katherine Holiday’s continuing education course. 

What is the most difficult thing about writing a book? What was the most difficult thing about this one in particular?

Fort me, the most difficult thing about writing a book is accurately portraying situations and actions I’m not familiar with. I do a lot of research, a lot of Googling, to find answers to questions that arise. For example, for The Student in Classroom 6, I researched the arborist profession—I even read an instruction manual on operating bucket trucks—and interviewed the owner of a local business, New Urban Forestry, who answered my questions and let me come with his team to one of their work sites.

Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and do you like it? 

I’m now retired, but I taught literature and writing at the college level—first as an instructor at the University of Colorado, then as teaching assistant at the University of Wisconsin, and finally as a professor going through the tenure and promotion process at The University of Georgia. In all these places, one thing stayed the same: I loved working with students.

What was your first job?

In the nineteenth and much of the twentieth century, my hometown, Johnstown, New York, was a center of the glove-making industry.  I worked in a glove factory for two summers while I was a college undergraduate. Maybe someday I’ll write a novel  about those experiences. It would be an historical novel—according to some sources, these novels are about a time period at least 25 years before the book was written.”(It’s hard to believe, but novels set in 1987 would thus be considered historical.) The glove factories have all closed now. 

Have you written any other books that are not published? 

I’ve written Second Wives, an historical novel based on my ancestors who emigrated from Baden (now part of modern Germany) to New York in 1850. It is about my widowed great-great-grandfather, Martin Kornmeyer, who sold all his belongings and, with his seven children and a servant, Rosa, sailed from Rotterdam on the Jane E. Williams, arriving in the New York harbor on October 7. He married Rosa, bought land in Boonville, New York, and farmed, as did his oldest son. The novel goes on to describe the life of Martin’s granddaughter, my grandmother, who was twice married. I’ve visited the cemeteries where Martin and Rosa and my grandmother’s two husbands are buried and the farm where my grandmother grew up. I’ve just returned from a cruise on the Rhine—tracing the route the original family surely traveled by barge to reach Rotterdam. Second Wives has not yet been published. I say “not yet,” as I hope someday it will be, and in the meantime,  I continue to learn more about these ancestors and revise it.

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination? 

Many of the characters in my novels are at least in part based on real people. In The Student in Classroom 6, Tyler’s mother, a strong woman who home-schooled Tyler, is inspired by my own mother. Also woman with a strong personality, Mom was my high school Latin teacher, and before that she homeschooled a physically handicapped girl who at that time could not attend the high school in person. Just as Tyler’s mother was a contrast to his arborist father, my intellectual mother was a contrast to my more pragmatic father, a coach and teacher of what was then called “industrial arts.”  Of course, my English teacher protagonist, Katherine Holiday. is based in part on myself.

What do your friends and family think of your writing? 

They are some of my biggest fans, and I appreciate them greatly. 

How did you come up with the title? 

I thought the title “The Student in Classroom 6” reflected both the suspense and the romance of the novel. There has been a murder on the campus of The University of Georgia, and for all anyone knows, the murderer might be a student—even one of the students in protagonist Katherine Holiday’s continuing education class, which meets in Classroom 6. And in the back of that classroom there is that the sexy, intelligent young man to whom she is strongly attracted.

How much of the book is realistic?  

Much of The Student in Classroom 6 is grounded in reality, drawing on my experiences teaching at the University of Georgia and living in Athens. At the same time, of course, I tweaked that reality to advance my plot. For example, Katherine teaches adult continuing education classes, but by 2009, the year most of this novel takes place, such classes for UGA credit were no longer offered—and even when they had been, they were not part of faculty members’ regular assignments.  The campus murder takes place near an outside elevator with a glass through which the killer apparently saw his victim descending. An outside elevator does exist at UGA’s Psychology-Journalism building, but it has no window.

Blurb:

Although a faculty member has been killed on campus and the murderer is still at large, English instructor Katherine Holiday never suspects the criminal might be one of her students. In fact, there’s a man in her adult evening class she wishes she could know better.

Seeing no need for a college degree, Tyler McHenry, a partner in his father’s successful tree service, writes fiction for his own pleasure. No one at the University needs to know his personal reasons for enrolling in a first-year composition course. Still, he finds himself fascinated by the pretty teacher, who believes his writing should be published.

Excerpt:

“You know, Ms. Holiday,” Tyler said as he walked with her back to her porch, “it was against regulations to bring you up in the bucket. Only accredited personnel are supposed to go up.” He paused. “Just like it’s probably against regulations for University instructors to get too friendly with students in their class.”

“It is,” she said, feeling somehow bold. “But if you can break a rule, I can. Would you like to come in for a beer?”

“That may not be so wise. I am an owner of this tree business and an owner of the bucket truck. I was not worried about breaking that rule tonight. I knew it was safe for you when I brought you up in the bucket. That is not the way it is with you and the University.  And you don’t know—” he hesitated.

“Know what?”

He smiled a little, as if joking. “Whether you’d be safe alone in your house with me.”

Buy links: 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Student-Classroom-6-Patricia-McAlexander-ebook/dp/B09THQ2FDT/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1648132789&sr=1-1

Barnes and Noble (includes Nook):  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-student-in-classroom-6-patricia-mcalexander/1141068087?ean=9781509241750

i-books: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/isbn9781509241767

About the Author: 

Patricia McAlexander is from upstate New York. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of New York at Albany, a master’s from Columbia University, and a doctorate from The University of Wisconsin, Madison, all in English She is now living in Athens, Georgia, with her Southerner husband, whom she met as a graduate student in Wisconsin. As a teenager, Pat wrote fiction for her friends, but she turned to academic writing with her career. Now retired from the University of Georgia, she has renewed her interests in photography, travel, and history—and in writing fiction.

Website: https://patriciamcalexander.weebly.com

Email: mcalexanderpatricia@gmail.com

Facebook: facebook.com/patriciamcalexanderwriter/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/PatMcAlexWriter

Instagram: www.instagram.com/patriciamcalexander/

 

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Filed under Author Blog Post, New Release

Spotlight On: M. S. Spencer ~ Hidden Gem: the Secret of St. Augustine / #CozyMystery #RomanticSuspense #WRPbks #Blog

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.

Blurb:

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.

 

Excerpt:

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.

“Thanks.”

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.”

 

 Buy link(s):

Books2Read: https://books2read.com/u/mZZ2Ry

https://books2read.com/Hidden-Gem-The-Secret-of-St-Augustine

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Gem-Secret-St-Augustine-ebook/dp/B09QJHCB4V

Barnes&Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hidden-gem-m-s-spencer/1140893266   /BIN ID: 2940161144589

ITunes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/hidden-gem-the-secret-of-st-augustine/id1605417704

 

About M.S.:

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.

Social media

Blog: https://msspencertalespinner.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/msspencermysteries

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/msspencerauthor

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/msspencer
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/msspencerauthor/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/m-s-spencer

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Filed under Author Blog Post, New Release

The Secret of Pendragon Island by Judge Bayton ~ #AHAgrp #Blog #GothicMystery #FREEonKU

I am beyond delighted to host my friend, Jude Bayton. She is talented, funny, lovely, and kind. And, she has an awesome British accent. 🙂 Oh yes, and her writing is fabulous. Check out my review of The Secret of Pendragon Island… (Which is FREE on Kindle Unlimited)

The Secret of Pendragon IslandThe Secret of Pendragon Island by Jude Bayton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Secret of Pendagron Island took me back to my days of devouring Gothic Mystery Romances by authors such as Barbara Michaels, Victoria Holt, Phyllis A. Whitney, and Daphne du Maurier. Miss Bayton has the perfect voice for the genre, and the setting and mood were delightfully atmospheric. I loved Poppy—a wonderful gothic heroine, strong but vulnerable, smart and brave. There was a nice little love triangle and I was rooting for Donovan the entire time. A compelling mystery with a few clever twists at the end, The Secret of Pendagron Island is a must read for gothic mystery lovers…or anyone who enjoys being swept away into a fabulous story.

View all my reviews

Welcome, Jude!

 Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?

 I was born in Germany into a British military family. I am from Kingston-Upon-Thames in Surrey, just outside of London. As a child, I lived in Yemen, Kenya, Wales, Scotland & Germany, until my father left the Army when I was 10.

I now live in Oklahoma with my husband John. Between us we have four sons and four grandchildren. We are empty nesters, except for our Blue Heeler. Her name is Scout.

 Tell us a little bit about how this book came about.

 This is the third book in what I call the Secret Set. I have always been fascinated with the Victorian era. Whenever I start to write, I automatically go to that time in history. As a reader, I love historical fiction, but I read contemporary also. I enjoy a thread of romance, but I always like getting my teeth into a good mystery.

The setting for this book is Cornwall, a beautiful place much beloved by us Brits. The inspiration for the title was from the old Arthurian tales of Uther Pendragon, a very well-known name in Cornwall, where the Arthurian legends run deep. It was fun coming up with a completely fictitious island! The main character, Poppy, is a lot like the younger me—curious, passionate, with a strong the desire to be a writer, always with her nose in a book. She compares people to the characters she reads about and has a strong sense of justice.

As with all my books, the main character and place drives the start of the process. Research colours in many things for me, especially with the stories being historical. To me, that can be the most difficult part. Historical accuracy is sticky. It’s horrid when you write about them being on a train, and then realise there wasn’t even a station where they are going! Keeping mysteries going without giving too much away is also hard work. The hardest part of this story was balancing more than one mystery at the same time.

What book have you read that you wish you had written?

Persuasion, by Jane Austen

Do you collect anything?

Books!

Would you rather have a bad review or no review?

A bad review can be helpful and point out real issues – If you point out a flaw though, explain why, or offer a solution.

What celebrity would you most like to be stranded on an island with?

Henry Cavill

Your most prized material possession? Why?

A locket my father bought my mother on their 60th wedding anniversary – now that my parents are no longer here.

Have you written any other books that are not published?

Yes. I have two more Gothics which will come out in 2022. I also write under the pen name DJ FitzSimons and plan to release a contemporary detective novel.

What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

The worst said that a mistake I made in one book was ‘lazy writing’ – Best said they couldn’t put the book down and wanted more.

What do your friends and family think of your writing?

They all know I’ve waited a long time to do this. They have been very encouraging, proud, and tell me to write more!

What character in your book are you least likely to get along with?

Mrs Malahide – she reminds me of my headmistress in boarding school.

How much of the book is realistic?

My work is fictional, and the situations can be far-fetched. But HOW the characters react to everything has to be realistic. It is the same in books I read. You can stretch a plot and a storyline, but people are always people, no matter what!

Blurb:

‘This secret might be the death of her…’

Working for the wealthy Nightingale family in a Cornish castle, is just the adventure budding novelist and librarian Poppy Livingstone is ready to undertake. The orphaned daughter of a convicted criminal, she is anxious to leave London and strike out on her own. But upon arriving at Pendragon Castle to a discourteous welcome, Poppy finds herself embroiled in a murder investigation, and on the trail of a woman whose mysterious disappearance twenty years earlier has captured her imagination.

Discovering evidence of an embezzler who has infiltrated the Nightingale family’s mining empire, Poppy becomes privy to their identity. Sworn to secrecy by Pendragon’s handsome heir, Clive, she inadvertently becomes a target – and the killer is watching.

When a series of catastrophes jeopardizes the family’s financial future, all evidence points to foul play. Who seeks to ruin Lord Nightingale’s family, and why? The death of another victim tempts Poppy to run for her life. But stubbornly she stands her ground, delves deeper, and boldly confronts an unknown enemy. But a lifetime reading literature is insufficient training as a sleuth. When at last she forces the killer’s hand, Poppy is unprepared for a shocking revelation and her own role in dark secrets of the past. Though the villain will finally be unmasked, ultimately Poppy will question if her entire existence has been a lie.

Excerpt:

Adjacent to the castle was the kitchen garden—a generous rectangular affair. Though summer was yet to arrive, the herbs and plants were coming along a treat. I walked the length of the garden, admiring the healthy vines and leaves of different vegetables growing from the rich brown soil. The following plot I encountered was most likely a cutting garden. I recognised Daffodils, red and yellow Tulips, Lily of the Valley and one of my favourite’s, Iris. The heady scent of freesia hung in the air, and I momentarily paused to enjoy it while I ate my toast.

“It is a wonderful morning to dine alfresco, is it not?”

I whirled around so quickly that tea splashed from my mug. I had company. A tall, dark-haired man stood several feet away from me, leaning against a tree trunk while inhaling on a cheroot. Smoke spiralled above his head and clung to the dewy morning air.

“I beg your pardon,” I stammered. “I was unaware of your presence.” I began to move back towards the castle.

He took a step towards me. “Please, do not let me scare you away. I did not mean to startle you. I was just enjoying the fresh air and trying to wake up.”

I stared at him. He was well-built and muscular. His face of hard angles was softened by a pronounced dimple in his right cheek and a generous mouth that now smiled at me. He was black-headed, with eyes the colour of coal. Yet, there was something in his expression which smoothed the rugged masculinity of his appearance.

“Thank you, sir. We must have thought alike. I too sought to escape the warmth of the castle.” Who was this man? I had not seen him before. Could he be one of the groundsmen? I glanced at his clothing. Nothing to tell there. He was dressed neither as gentleman nor labourer, but something in between.

“Are you employed by the Nightingale’s,” he asked, one thick eyebrow arched.

“Yes, well, for the moment anyway.” I chewed my lower lip, and his eyes moved to my mouth. “I am cataloguing the Pendragon library. This is my third day here.”

“Ah,” he gave an easy grin. “A mainlander.”

I nodded, and then as I opened my mouth to speak, I heard footsteps approaching. It was Mrs Malahide. She carried a flower basket and cutting shears as she strode towards where I stood, clutching my tea and half-eaten toast. Inwardly I groaned.

“Miss Livingstone?” Her frown conveyed what thoughts were in her mind at the sight of me speaking to a man without a chaperone.

“Good morning, Mrs Malahide,” I said politely.

She took a breath, but the man interrupted quickly. “Morning, Malahide.” He threw down the stub of his tobacco and ground the ember out with his boot. “Ladies, if you would please excuse me.” He strode away, and as he passed, winked at me. I was shocked. But before I could react, the burn of Mrs Malahide’s disapproving glare landed upon me once again.

“I must get to work,” I blurted, and moved away as fast as I could without running. 

Buy link:

https://smile.amazon.com/Secret-Pendragon-Island-Jude-Bayton/dp/1955441022/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=jude+bayton&qid=1642438528&sr=8-1

Bio:

I am a Londoner, but currently call the wilds of Tulsa, Oklahoma home. I grew up devouring Victoria Holt novels, loved Kathleen Woodiwiss, and adore the Victorian era. My stories are generally set in Europe, in places I have either lived or visited. I currently have three books published in the historical suspense genre, and one ready to publish this spring. I have two contemporary novels to publish in 2022 under a different pen name.

I write a monthly blog at judebayton.com – a satirical look at my life in Oklahoma.

Website https://www.judebayton.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/JudeBayton

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/judebaytonauthor/?ref=bookmarks

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/judebayton/

Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/deb-bayton-fitzsimons-b044129/

 

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Author Brooke Taylor: Valentine’s Challenge with hero- Nikolas Steele & New Release: Twist My Heart #AHAgrp #Blog

I am extremely pleased to welcome today’s guest. Brooke Taylor and I have been friends for years and I adore her. She stopped writing for a while but myself and others continued to encourage her and she was once more bitten by the writing bug. Her manuscript released this week and it’s fantastic!! She’s visiting today with an interview with her hero. Enjoy…

Valentine’s Challenge with hero- Nikolas Steele

Here’s our story: Nikolas Steele & Thea Gale 

How’d you guys meet? We met at a gas station, but she’d say we met when she was under a gas station. There was a tornado. It was kind of a thing. 

First Date? Was it a date? Still not sure it was a “date” but we had pizza up in the mountains above Estes Park, Colorado. 

How long have you been together? 4 days, but feels like much longer 

Married? Not yet 

Age difference? 7 years 

Who was interested first? Me, she was kind of busy running for her life 

Who is taller? Me, by at least a foot  

Who said I love you first? Me 

Most impatient? Her dog Titan 

Most sensitive? Titan 

Loudest? Titan 

Most stubborn? Titan  

Falls asleep first? Thea. I rarely fall asleep. 

Cooks better? Look, my dad’s survival soup was all I had to work with. 

Better morning person? Me- being in the Military will do that to you. 

Better driver? Me, but I haven’t seen Thea drive yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if she were a better tactical driver when she remembers how. 

Most competitive? Thea 

Funniest? Titan 

Where do you eat out most as a couple? So far, we’ve hit an all-night diner, hard, and “Bone Me” night for bone-in ribeyes. 

Who is more social? Me, she’s a fugitive, so she can’t really socialize. 

Who is the neat freak? Me 

Where was your first kiss? On my couch, but I had to get out of there- fast. 

Who initiated your first kiss? Thea- but I had already gone much further in my head 

How long did it take to get serious? Two seconds 

Who picks where you go to dinner? So far me 

Who is the first one to admit when they’re wrong? The bad guys 

Who wears the pants in the relationship? We both do, but we both are pretty good at getting the other one out of their pants, too. 

Who has more tattoos? Me  

Who sings better? Too soon to tell, probably her 

Hogs the remote? Haven’t had a chance to find out 

Spends the most? Thea. Unless it is a store with weapons, then me. 

Did you go to the same school? Nope 

Who drives when you are going somewhere together? Me  

Where is the farthest you two have traveled together? Kansas to Estes Park, Colorado. But we’re embarking on more adventures. 

#ValentinesDayChallenge

Blurb :

FROM EXCITING ROMANCE AUTHOR BROOKE TAYLOR 

Book one in the Wicked Games series 

After a tornado drops a feisty fugitive into the arms of a steel-hearted warrior, she must convince him to help her and her not-so-little dog evade a wicked enemy. 

When a tornado drops Thea Gale and her not-so-little dog Titan into the arms of a steel-hearted warrior, she has no idea the trouble she is in. Lucky for her, the battle-scarred Navy SEAL who comes to her rescue knows a few things about evading wicked enemies. 

Nickolas Steele is certain the right thing to do is to turn the filterless fugitive and her overprotective canine in to the authorities. But is the captivating amnesiac really a threat or is she the one whose life is in grave danger? 

Nik can’t shake the feeling Thea’s past has come back to claim her, and discovering who she really is might be more deadly than either of them is prepared for. In order to enlist Nik’s help, Thea must not only confront the trauma of her former life but also penetrate the carefully forged armor protecting what’s left of Nik’s heart. 

Wicked Games Series Info:

Seeking to heal wounds from their past, three couples must risk everything, including true love, as they journey to an oasis where adrenaline and adventure abound but danger and deception rule in this modern, realistic spin to the Wizard of Oz! 

Buy link(s):

https://books2read.com/u/4DRRyO

Bio:

Brooke Taylor lives and writes from her country home in Oklahoma where her pets are a constant, but happy, distraction. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys horseback riding, going to the lake, and traveling.

Brooke has worked extensively in the travel industry, from dude ranches to ski resorts to cruise lines. Her many overseas adventures include sky diving in New Zealand, scuba diving with sharks, sailing through hurricanes, and having her tent attacked by wild animals in the Mara game reserve in Kenya. Due to current health insurance rates, Brooke is letting her characters do most of the risk-taking from now on. 

Website:  TheBrookeTaylor.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brooketaylorbooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/brooketaylorboo

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brooketaylorbooks/

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20448962.Brooke_Taylor

Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/Brooke-Taylor/e/B08WPK3C6Q/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

 

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Filed under Author Blog Post, New Release

Love and Murder with Author Brenda Whiteside

Please help me welcome today’s guest and one of my author friends, Brenda Whiteside…

How do you feel about series books? I don’t read series exclusively, but when I find one I like, it’s like hitting the lottery. I want each book to be a story in itself, but I love steeping myself in a setting or a family or a culture. I love getting involved with characters who will appear in subsequent books, even if in minor roles.

Born and raised in Arizona, the setting was a natural choice for my Love and Murder Series. My cast of characters for the first three books came to me like they’d been hanging around, waiting for me to notice them. I committed for five books to my publisher…and that’s the contract I got. Yikes! Set in stone. With only three storylines in my head, I dug in and tried not to worry about books four and five.

Luckily, someone emailed me after reading book one and commented that they hoped Penny (nick-named the Black Fairy for her Goth style) would have her own book. Book four took shape. I had no idea when she did her walk-on part in book one what a past she’d had—thirteen years hiding from a murderous FBI agent hired by a presidential candidate. And they come after her in book four, The Power of Love and Murder.

Unfortunately, no one came forward with a comment to get my muse inspired for book five. As is the usual way I work, the two main characters stepped forward, but their stories were hard to squeeze out of them. As it turns out, the blood, sweat, and tears of wringing out a story for book five proved worth it. The Deep Well of Love and Murder is one of my most complicated plots to date, and I managed to bring in all the main characters from the first four books.

****************************************

I agree, Brenda. I love series. And yours is a great one. I have read most of the books in the series and plan to read the ones I haven’t. Thanks so much for joining me!

If you haven’t read the Love and Murder Series, now is the time. Books 1 and 5 are on sale for $.99 and books 2, 3, and 4 are on sale for $1.99:

The Art of Love and Murder

When the past and present collide, Lacy discovers her future mired in secrets, threats and murder.

Southwest of Love and Murder

Writing murder mysteries is all in a day’s work until an obsessed fan brings Phoebe’s stories to life.

A Legacy of Love and Murder

Inheriting an Austrian Castle is an Alpine fairytale for August, until someone begins killing the heirs.

The Power of Love and Murder

Penny’s secrets can ruin a presidential contender, got her family murdered…and mark her as the next hit.

The Deep Well of Love and Murder

A vengeful ex-husband isn’t the only obstacle to happiness for Laura Katz and Randy Silva…a high stake, bloody fight for his land puts them at risk.

BOOKS ON SALE AT AMAZON

BOOKS ON SALE AT BARNES & NOBLE

BOOKS ON SALE AT iTUNES (APPLE)

Brenda Whiteside is the author of suspenseful, action-adventure stories with a touch of romance. Mostly. She and her husband are gypsies at heart having lived in six states and two countries. For now they’ve settled in Central Arizona, but won’t discount the possibility of another move in their future. They share their home with a rescue dog named Amigo. While FDW is fishing, Brenda writes.

Visit Brenda at https://www.brendawhiteside.com

Or on FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/BrendaWhitesideAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/brendawhitesid2

She blogs and has guests: https://brendawhiteside.blogspot.com/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003V15WF8

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3972045.Brenda_Whiteside

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/brenda-whiteside

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brendawhitesideauthor/

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Filed under Author Blog Post, Ebook Deal, For Writers, New Release

Mrs. Spinney’s Secret by M. S. Spencer

Please help me welcome today’s guest, author M. S. Spencer….

Thirty years ago my family drove up for the first time to a small village in Maine for a week’s vacation. Thirty years later, we own a house in that village, and consider it home. That first year, however, was unique. We were met by the rental agent, who apologized for the chaos—Mel Gibson was making a movie in the village. We thought (and said), “Cool!” Turned out the apology was indeed in order. All activity had to stop while the cameras filmed, and parts of the tiny hamlet were off-limits to the lay folks. To this day my kids will stop a conversation by saying, “Cut!”

The movie, The Man Without a Face, premiered in 1993.

My second novel set in the village of Amity Landing takes its inspiration from that event.

Lights! Camera! Action! Hollywood comes to Amity Landing, trailing corpses

Blurb

What do you do when Hollywood takes over your tiny Maine village to make a movie?

Cassidy Beauvoir, chair of the board of overseers of Amity Landing, is ready to throw the bums out; that is, until she meets Jasper MacEwan, the director of American Waterloo: the Rout of the Penobscot Expedition. It’s instant attraction until a series of deadly incidents threatens their budding romance. Are the attacks directed at the movie crew or the townspeople?

As the two search for answers, the trail leads them to long-held secrets of the worst naval defeat of the American Revolution—including betrayal, murder, and a lost hoard of English gold.

Excerpt: Cassidy Meets the Toff

Cassidy decided she could safely ignore the sarcasm. “I think I just encountered the Toff.”

“You think? The man gives ‘demigod’ a whole new definition.”

“Okay. Greek hero with Samson’s locks and Julius Caesar’s nose?”

“That’s the chap. I’ve been ordered to introduce him to the Spinney house. Want to come along?”

She checked her watch. She didn’t have to open up the store for another couple of hours. “Sure.”

“Hop in.” They proceeded at a more sober pace past the row of tiny houses perched on the cliff above the bay and pulled in next to the green-shuttered Spinney house behind the McLaren. They walked down the steps and entered the kitchen. It looked the same as when Cassidy showed it to Sally, but the rest of the house had been transformed into Prospero’s cave. Black curtains covered all the windows—even the great bay ones looking out to sea. Equipment and captain’s chairs were strewn about, the original furniture pushed against the walls. Cassidy sucked in a breath. “Why did you need a real house if you were going to turn it into a studio?”

“Oh, we’ll move stuff around as needed. There’s Digby.” He led her over to the current heartthrob of dozens of middle-aged women. The actor was standing in the middle of the room, eyes shut, with a hand over his heart.

“Digby?”

He started. “Who disturbs me in my cogitation?” His round BBC tones resonated in the room. He opened his eyes. “Oh, it’s you, MacEwan. What do you want?”

“I would like you to meet Miss Cassidy Beauvoir.” He made it sound as if he were doing Toff-Smythe a favor of the highest order. “Cassidy? This is Digby Toff-Smythe, star of our little project.”

“Little? My dear boy, this will be the toast of Sundance, of Cannes, of Venice. It has all the makings of my best effort yet.” He smiled graciously at Cassidy. “Are you with the crew, Miss Beauvoir?”

Jasper jumped in. “No, she’s the president—”

“Chairman.”

“Chairman of the board of overseers of this town.”

“I see.” He shook her hand. “It’s always gratifying to connect with the local establishment. Are you here to present me with the keys to your municipality?”

This question met with astonished silence. Finally, Jasper—his voice rather desperate—added, “And she owns Mindful Books. It’s a bookstore in Penhallow. I am pumping her for recommendations for nearby watering holes. I know you prefer to avoid the canteen—all those fawning stagehands.”

Buy Links:

Books2Read

Amazon  ITunes   Barnes&Noble   Walmart  

KOBO   Google Play   Thalia  

Goodreads   BookBub

It will also be available on Overdrive, Indigo, and other online stores.

About the Author

Librarian, anthropologist, research assistant, Congressional aide, speechwriter, nonprofit director—M. S. Spencer has lived or traveled in five of the seven continents. She holds a BA from Vassar College, a diploma in Arabic Studies from the American University in Cairo, and Masters in Anthropology and in Library Science from the University of Chicago. All of this tends to insinuate itself into her works.

Ms. Spencer has published fourteen romantic suspense and mystery novels. She has two fabulous grown children and an exuberant granddaughter and currently divides her time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.

Social Media Links

Blog  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  Pinterest 

Linked In GoodReads  Bookbub

 

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Writing About Labor – A Guest Post by Chrys Fey

Writing About Labor – A Guest Post by Chrys Fey

I’ve never been through labor, and what I knew about it from my sister wasn’t enough to write about it convincingly in Frozen Crimes. The closest experience I had was from an episode with endometriosis and an ovarian cyst that made me believe the pain I felt was close to a contraction. I had to lay down on my side on the couch, because it was too painful to sit, and I seethed between my teeth as tears flowed, but even that wasn’t all I needed to know, so I did what any good writer would do…I Googled it.

I researched what contractions feel like, what happens to the uterus during contractions, and the stages of labor. I learned a lot and put all of that in my story, from reddish-brown discharge at the beginning of the process to even a mention of what is called “the bloody show,” which I don’t actually write about.

Still, I needed to know the facts. I had to know what Beth would be experiencing (in the middle of a blizzard!) and the time limit Donovan would be contending with before the baby came.

While writing Beth’s labor in Frozen Crimes I researched these questions:

–      Can you hear your water break? (You can…it’s a popping sound.)

–      When does a woman go to the hospital when she’s in labor? (Usually when contractions are 2-3 minutes apart.)

–      How long and frequent are contractions in the beginning? (About 65 seconds long and ten minutes apart. Gradually, they become longer and more frequent.)

–      How long after 10 centimeters dilated is the baby born? (Two or more hours.)

–      How do nurses and doctors measure the cervix? (With the width of their fingers.)

–      What items would you need for a home birth?

EXCERPT:

Her eyelids grew heavy and lowered. Sleep pulled her back under. A few hours later, though, the same jab of pain returned. She inhaled sharply and held her breath. Her uterus felt as though it had transformed into a balled fist. Throbbing pain dominated her entire abdomen and back, and a tremendous pressure radiated along her pelvis. She seethed between her teeth. Her heart beat erratically, and sweat dampened her scalp.

No, no, no. Panic rushed through her, flooding her body. This can’t be happeningI can’t be going into laborIt’s a month too soon.

She knew very well that early labor was an unwanted possibility and that false alarms happened all the time. Please let it be a false alarm. Please. I can’t have this baby now. Not now.

It took her a long time to fall back asleep, and when she finally did, another contraction pried her awake. She couldn’t deny it anymore; she was in full-blown labor.

This was their worst nightmare come true. She peeked at Donovan on the other side of the couch, but she didn’t want to wake him. Maybe she could fend off the labor long enough for them to get freed. Some women could be in labor for days, and hers had only begun. There was no reason for her to raise the alarm so soon, especially when they had no way of getting to the hospital. So, she’d grit her teeth and bear it. For as long as she could. 

When disasters strike around every corner, is it possible to have a happily-ever-after?

 

BLURB: Beth and Donovan are expecting their first child. Life couldn’t get any better…until a stalker makes his presence known. This person sends disturbing messages and unsettling items, but it isn’t long before his menacing goes too far.

Hoping for a peaceful Christmas, Donovan takes Beth to Michigan. Days into their trip, a winter storm named Nemesis moves in with the goal of burying the state. Snowdrifts surround their house, and the temperature drops below freezing.

Except, the storm isn’t the only nemesis they must face. Everyone’s lives are at stake—especially that of their unborn child. Will they survive, or will they become a frozen crime?

BUY LINKS: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iTunes

 

***HUGE DISASTER CRIMES GIVEAWAY*** 

 

Prizes: 4 eBooks (Disaster Crimes 1-4: Hurricane Crimes, Seismic Crimes, Tsunami Crimes, Flaming Crimes) + Girl Boss Magnets (4), Inflatable Cup Holder (1), Adventure Fuel To-Go Cups (2), Anchor Fashion Scarf (1), Mermaid Nail Clippers (2), Citrus and Sea Salt Scented Candle (1), Snowflake Handmade Bookmark (1), Insulated Cooler Bag (1)

 

Eligibility: International

Number of Winners: One

Giveaway Ends: October 30, 2020 12:00am Eastern Standard Time

LINK: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/76132e0221/?

 

***FREE EXCLUSIVE EBOOK***

 

 

To get the exclusive prequel to the Disaster Crimes series, sign up for Chrys’ newsletter. By signing up, you agree to receive Chrys Fey’s newsletter. After you confirm subscription, you will receive an email (so check your inbox and spam folder) with directions on where to snag your eBook copy of THE CRIME BEFORE THE STORM.

Click here to sign up and get The Crime Before the Storm FREE!

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Chrys Fey is author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept that blends disasters, crimes, and romance. She runs the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Book Club on Goodreads and edits for Dancing Lemur Press. https://www.chrysfey.com

Author Links:

Website / Blog / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Amazon

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Filed under Author Blog Post, giveaway

#HobbyCareerPassion: “A Passion for Life” ~ Author Brenda Whiteside ~ #AHAgrp

Welcome to my weekly feature where authors share about the hobbies, careers, or passions of their characters.

I’m pleased to introduce today’s guest,  Brenda Whiteside…

 

A PASSION FOR LIFE

by Brenda Whiteside

Google Dictionary defines passion as a strong and barely controllable emotion; also as an intense desire or enthusiasm for something. My goal is for all of my characters to possess some passion.

Most of the characters in my stories in some way resemble people in my life. They could grow from a single personality trait of someone I know or have met into a full-blown hero or heroine, or my character might have much in common with the real-life person. In all cases, they have a passion that drives them forward to discover more about themselves.

Then there is Phoebe Anderson—my alter ego. Phoebe is the heroine in Southwest of Love and Murder, the second book in the five-book series. She’s a successful murder/mystery writer who lives in southern Arizona and loves coffee. My main writing genre is Romantic Suspense, but that’s close. I was born and raised in Phoenix. And I do LOVE my coffee.

Phoebe’s passion for writing started when she murdered her first husband on paper seventeen years ago. That book launched her career. She spends her mornings at the Lacy Latte consuming caramel lattes and creating villains we love to hate.

For Phoebe’s career passion, I didn’t have to do much research. Writing has long driven my days and leaked into my nighttime fantasies. As far as her preferred location to create her stories, I’m jealous of her. There isn’t a fancy latte café within two hours of me. But if I could, I would, so Phoebe gets to combine her two passions, writing and coffee, and I can live vicariously through her.

Mason, the hero in Southwest of Love and Murder, likens Phoebe’s style to a gypsy. She’s all gauzy skirts, filmy blouses, lots of jewelry, and long blonde hair with a few streaks of gray. Her passions go beyond her writing. Mason can attest to her boundless passion in at least one area. Her passion for life runs deep. In fact, anything Phoebe does is with passion.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BLURB

Mystery writer, Phoebe Anderson, owes her success to killing her first husband on paper seventeen years earlier. Now, someone has actually done it. When she decides to take a few days away on the ranch of her best friend’s brother-in-law, she doesn’t expect romance to find her…or murder to follow her.

Mason Meadowlark is happy with his wild cowboy ways, avoiding love since the death of his baby and the end of his marriage twenty years ago. When Phoebe shows up, he fights to control his emotions, but soon wonders if she just might be worth the risk of opening his heart again.

With an obsessed fan close on her heels, Phoebe is thrown into her own murder mystery…and the next target on his list is Mason.

EXCERPT

Phoebe shuddered and stilled.

Like the aftershocks of an earthquake, trembling overtook her body. Her knees wobbled, but Mason caught her before she collapsed.

“What’s wrong?” He hugged her briefly then brought his face even with hers. “Phoebe, tell me. Why are you shaking? What’s happened?”

“Oh my God, Mason.” She spread her hands on his chest and glanced back at the bathroom. “Tell someone to call an ambulance. Hurry!”

He took a step toward the ladies’ room, but she grabbed his shirtfront. “No!” She peered around him and shouted. “Someone call nine one one.”

Mason touched his pocket. “My cell’s in the truck.” He grabbed the shoulder of a male customer, the closest person to them. “You got a cell on you?”

The man nodded and pulled a phone from his pocket.

“Call nine one one right now. There’s been…” His face questioned her.

“Someone’s badly hurt in the bathroom. Oh hell, hurry!” She thumped her palms against his chest.

The man pulled out his cell as he raced into the ladies’ room.

Phoebe wrapped her arms around Mason, tipped her chin upward, and found the words. “It’s that
waitress, Mason. Carla.”

His expression went blank, from concern for her to no comprehension.

“There’s so much blood.” She stifled a gag, the sweet, copper penny reek still heavy in her nostrils. “Her throat.” A shudder rippled the length of her body. “I think she’s dead.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For a limited time, Southwest of Love and Murder is on sale for $.99 at the following sites:

BUY LINKS

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Southwest-Love-Murder-Book-ebook/dp/B00QQPMIMQ

Apple iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/southwest-of-love-and-murder/id965678707?mt=11

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/southwest-of-love-and-murder-brenda-whiteside/1121003952?ean=2940149945269

If you enjoy audio books, Southwest of Love and Murder is available in the form also:

AUDIO BUY LINKS

Audible US: https://www.audible.com/pd/Southwest-of-Love-and-Murder-Audiobook/B07MGZ1GMM

Audible UK: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Southwest-of-Love-and-Murder-Audiobook/B07M623KW2?

iTunes Audiobooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/audiobook/southwest-love-murder-love-murder-series-book-2-unabridged/id1448484811

Brenda Whiteside is the author of suspenseful, action-adventure romance. Mostly. After living in six states and two countries—so far—she and her husband have decided they are gypsies at heart, splitting their time between Northern Arizona and the RV life. They share their home with a rescue dog named Amigo. While FDW is fishing, Brenda writes stories of discovery and love entangled with suspense.

Visit Brenda at https://www.brendawhiteside.com

Or on FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/BrendaWhitesideAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/brendawhitesid2

She blogs and has guests: https://brendawhiteside.blogspot.com/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003V15WF8

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3972045.Brenda_Whiteside

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/brenda-whiteside

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brendawhitesideauthor/

 

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Filed under Author Blog Post, Hobbies...Careers...Passions

#HobbyCareerPassion: Crab Fishing with Jack Devereaux ~ Author Constance Bretes

Welcome to my weekly feature where authors share about the hobbies, careers, or passions of their characters.

I’m pleased to introduce today’s guest, Jax Devereaux…

 

Constance:  What exactly do you do as a crab fisherman?

Jax:  I take a crew of 7 or 8 people, and we go out to the Bering Sea. I have 800 crate shaped open cylinders we call pots. When we get to the destination where we want to get crabs, We use a pulley and grab a pot, bring it to the deck, bait it with raw fish, attach a buoy to it and toss it in the sea. I mark the spot on my radar and GPS as well as write it on a pad of paper. We strong the pots along a line until all are dumped into the sea.

Constance:  What do you do after you string all your pots?

Jax:  We circle around and go back to the beginning. Sometimes it is 24 to 48 hours before we reach for the rope with the pulley, and pull the buoy and the pot up to the surface. When it reaches the surface, we lay it on a slab, open the pot, and dump the crabs in a chute, sorting them as we go. We are only allowed to keep male crabs that are a certain size. All others will be toss back into the sea. The chute takes them down to the holding tank.

Constance:  Where do you take the crabs you’ve caught?

Jax:  When we reach max weight, we head back to the harbor and offload at the warehouse where they process the crabs for distribution to the customers.

Constance:  What kind of crabs do you fish for?

Jax:  King crabs, Opillo crabs and Biardi crabs. Each has their own seasons.

Constance:  How often are you out at sea?

Jax:  Crab season starts in September and ends in the Spring. We are gone almost the whole season.

Constance:  How did you get into this profession?

Jax:  I’ve been a crab fisherman all my life except for the time I served in the US Coast Guard. My father and grandfather both were crab fishermen.

Constance:  Do you get to go home for holidays?

Jax:  No. We miss all the holidays, including Christmas, except for July 4th.

Constance:  What are the biggest concerns you have as far as deep sea fishing is concern?

Jax: Rove waves, severe weather, motion sickness and safety. Safety is my number one priority.

Constance:  How well do the crew perform in this condition?

Jax:   Everyone does a good job and pull their weight, that is, except one. My brother, Rudy. I have to light a fire under him to get him to perform at max potential.

Constance:  What made you famous?

Jax:  An author wrote a book called Midnight Escape where I’m the hero. It’s how I met Suzanne, the heroine. I snuck her on to my boat and took her crab fishing in an effort to shield her from the mafia who had a hit on her and was after her.

Constance:  I bet that was a ride of the lifetime.

Jax:  It was a hell of a trip. Poor girl, I had no idea Suzanne was deathly afraid of water.

 

On the run from the mob, Suzanne discovers that hunky Jax is just the man she needs.

Suzanne Pacheco is on the run from the mob after witnessing a murder and helping to put the killer in prison. Her trip across the country brings her to a small town in Alaska. But once again the mob’s hitman has tracked her down. She’s disheartened at the thought of leaving the town she’s developed a real fondness for, but there’s nothing else she can do. Until she finds help in the unlikeliest of places and embarks on an adventure like never before.

Commercial fisherman Jax Devereaux has his hands full fishing for crabs in the formidable Bering Sea, but when Suzanne needs his help, he adds yet another thing to his list of responsibilities. He takes her with him to the one place he thinks she might be safe—the middle of the sea. But there’s danger everywhere. Can he keep Suzanne safe, and will he lose his heart in the process?

Author Bio:

Constance Bretes is an author of contemporary romances.

When she’s not writing book boyfriends and strong heroines, she enjoys basket weaving, reading, making jewelry, and playing the piano as well as spending time with her husband and their two furball children, Tigger and Sunny. Constance is married to Jim, and they live in a small town in Alabama.

You can sign up for her newsletter here:  https://constancebretes.com

Email: bretesc@gmail.com

Website: https://constancebretes.com

Blog: https://www.constancebretes.com/connies-blog

NL Link:  https://www.constancebretes.com/news–things.html

Amazon Author URL: https://www.amazon.com/Constance-Bretes/e/B00IKSKRES/

Bookbub Author URL: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/constance-bretes

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/conniebretes/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7737457.Constance_Bretes

Instagram: constancebretesauthor

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/cbretes/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ConstanceBretes,

 

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Filed under Author Blog Post, Hobbies...Careers...Passions

#HobbyCareerPassion: The Mint Invasion: Out Of Chaos Comes Jelly…And Romance by M.S. Spencer

Welcome to my weekly feature where authors share about the hobbies, careers, or passions of their characters.

I’m pleased to introduce today’s guest, M.S. Spencer…

 

The Mint Invasion: Out Of Chaos Comes Jelly…And Romance

Up until my thirties, I traveled a great deal, living in many countries with amenities that many would consider below standard. So it wasn’t until I married and settled down in an old farmhouse with an acre of land that I could indulge my fantasy of growing my own food. We planted apple, plum, peach, fig, hazelnut, and cherry trees; gooseberries, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries; all kinds of vegetables, including an ill-fated attempt to grow artichokes; and finally, lots and lots of herbs. I built a formal herb garden and planted thyme, lovage, rosemary, chives, tarragon, sage, and lemon balm. The one thing I couldn’t get to grow was mint. Yes, the gardeners among you will scoff, but it took me years to get a plot to flourish. Be careful what you wish for. When it finally got going, I had to do something before it took over the entire acre.

So I called upon my sister-in-law, to whom Whirlwind Romance is dedicated. She directed me to an old recipe for mint jelly. Once I’d mastered it, I went on to work up jelly recipes for all my herbs. Good thing we had a basement.

In Whirlwind Romance, my heroine, Lacey Delahaye, moves to an island in Florida and wants to reestablish the herb store she’d owned up North. Florida boasts innumerable ecosystems, from pine uplands, to coastal plains, to palm hammocks—all of which are host to many wild fruits, most of which can be made into jelly. Whirlwind Romance opens as she returns from a foraging trip, unaware that a hurricane had swept through, leaving an unexpected visitor in her mangrove swamp.

Woven throughout the story are descriptions of the wild fruits of Florida and the western Caribbean. For fun, I added recipes to each chapter. Here’s one for a common tropical wild fruit:

 Cocoplum Jelly

The cocoplum is native to South Florida and occurs naturally in cypress hammocks and wetland areas. Evergreen, it forms a dense, clumping bush. Fruit is a dark purple drupe one to two inches in diameter, and ripens May through August. The nut is also edible.

200 cocoplums to make 2 cups juice

2 cinnamon sticks

4 cups brown sugar

1 box (1.75 oz.) powdered pectin

Place peeled plums and cinnamon sticks in water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 1 ½ hours, or until liquid is dark purple. Remove from heat and strain, reserving the nuts. Add water if necessary to make 2 cups of liquid.

Shell the nuts and chop. In a jelly pan add the juice, nuts, and pectin and bring to a rolling boil. Pour in sugar all at once and bring back to a rolling boil. Boil exactly one minute. Remove from heat, skim off any foam, and ladle into hot, sterilized jelly jars to within ¼ inch of the top. Wipe rims and place the two-piece canning lids on the jars but do not tighten completely. Turn the jars over and leave upside down for five minutes on a padded rack. Turn upright and tighten the lids completely.

Alternative method: Process filled, tightly closed jars in boiling water for 15 minutes.

Cool.

Makes about 4 pints.

I give other jelly recipes in the book for Sea grapes, Kei apples, Beautyberries, Passionfruit, Roselle, and Shining Sumac.

Pirates, Puritans, propaganda, and princes—pieces of the puzzle in the whirlwind romance between a beautiful jelly maker and a mysterious castaway:

Whirlwind Romance by M. S. Spencer

Blurb:

In the aftermath of a hurricane,  jelly-maker Lacey Delahaye discovers a man washed ashore in her mangrove swamp, and tumbles into a sea of troubles. Kidnapped along with her shipwrecked sailor, she is taken to a tiny island in the western Caribbean. There, the two must escape from pirates, defeat a power-made ideologue, deflect a jealous ex-husband, and prove her companion’s birthright.

Excerpt (PG): Slipping Briskly

As she turned to leave, he touched her arm. “Stay a minute?”

How could she admit she had to get out of there quickly or she wouldn’t be able to go at all? His handsome face—the strong chin covered with stubble, the pearly teeth contrasting with his tan skin, not to mention the long, graceful fingers he held out to her—all conspired to lure her closer. Her heart led the way, propelling her to his side. She sat down. “What is it?”

“Lacey…um.”

Her body tensed as desire fought to get out, and she fought just as hard to keep it in. I have to go. I have to…go. “What?”

His words came out in a rush. “Lacey, the other day—the first night—when you rescued me. When we…we…”

Don’t say it. Don’t say it. Christ.

“I…uh…want you to know I don’t do that on a regular basis.”

His air of shy ambivalence gave her courage. “I see. You don’t have sex on a regular basis?”

“No, no, it’s not that.” He stopped, flustered. “Er, I mean… I don’t sleep with women indiscriminately.”

Should she let him off the hook? Nah. “But you do sleep with a lot of women?”

“No! Lacey, you’re being difficult on purpose. I meant, that I didn’t mean to…you know. It just happened. Forgive me?”

“I—”

Armand interrupted her. “Not that it wasn’t enjoyable.” He seemed distracted, running a finger down her arm. “Wonderful. Fantastic. Too short.” He peered at her. “Lacey, you must know how beautiful you are. You have the most perfect cheekbones I’ve ever seen.”

“Cheekbones?” What the hell is he talking about?

“I’m an amateur photographer. Those cheekbones could belong to a supermodel. Perfectly sculpted. And your nose…” He tapped the tip. “A little pixie nose. It even turns up slightly. Your long, fine hair is the russet-gold of burnished copper pots I once saw piled high in a shop on Martinique. Your eyes…” He closed his. “Your eyes are the blue-green of a freshly mowed cricket field, of the emeralds that grow deep in the mountains, of the lagoon near my home on a blustery day.” He touched her hand. “Then there’s your body—as I remember it—a soft, comfortable, pillowy—”

“Hey!” Lacey shook her head to break the spell. “I think you’ve said enough. Get some sleep.”

She tried to rise, but he slipped his arms around her and drew her close. She wanted to struggle. She tried to struggle. It was no use. The long kiss filled her with a warmth that matched a fire on a cold night, a cup of cocoa, or a hot bath. When he lay back, the warmth turned to blazing passion. The power of it frightened her. I’ve got to go. She ran out of the room before he could stop her.

Whirlwind Romance

Wild Rose Press (2016)

Contemporary romance/Action Adventure
Rating: Hot (R)
358 p.

Buy links:

Wild Rose Press 

Amazon

Bookstrand

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Google

ITunes

Walmart

Indigo

About the Author

Librarian, anthropologist, Congressional aide, speechwriter—M. S. Spencer has traveled the globe. She holds a BA from Vassar College, a diploma in Arabic Studies from the American University in Cairo, and Masters in Anthropology and in Library Science from the University of Chicago.  All of this tends to insinuate itself into her works.

Ms. Spencer has published thirteen 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.

Blog: https://msspencertalespinner.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/msspencermysteries

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/msspencerauthor

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/msspencer
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/msspencerauthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/msspencerauthor/

Linked in: www.linkedin.com/in/msspencerauthor

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/m-s-spencer

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/M.S.-Spencer/e/B002ZOEUC8/

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