Friday, May 27, 2016


Today's your last chance to purchase THE GIRL MOST LIKELY for .99 cents! Here's the blurb and a short excerpt that I hope tempt you:

Cara McLeod, the girl most likely to have the perfect marriage, is now divorced and, in her own words, “fat, frumpy, and over forty.” The thought of facing former classmates—and the ex-husband who dumped her—at her high school reunion terrifies her. Cajoled into attending by her kids and her best friend, Cara enlists help at the gym to lose weight and look great for the reunion. Personal Trainer Finn Cooper is more than willing to help—but does he have to be so to-die-for gorgeous?
Finn thinks Cara is perfect just the way she is. She’s everything he wants in a woman, except for one thing—she can’t get past the fact that he's eight years younger. To Finn, age and weight are just numbers. But can he convince Cara the numbers she worries about add up to only one thing for him—love?

Cara woke to the delicious sensation of being cocooned warmly in Finn’s arms. The room was dark; the clock beside his bed read three a.m. She sighed and snuggled closer, breathing in his clean, masculine scent.

She could barely believe how she’d seduced Finn the previous evening. She’d never been so bold before, and just thinking about it made her face heat in a blush.

But she’d never felt so desired before. Finn made her feel powerful, sexy, unstoppable. With Finn, she could almost believe she was beautiful.

He stirred, and in the faint light, Cara saw his eyes flutter open and focus on her face. She smiled.


“Hi. What time is it?”

“About three a.m. Go back to sleep.”

She ran her fingers over his face, loving the feeling of his stubbled beard under her fingertips. Feelings of tenderness for him swamped her. Making love with Finn was supposed to be a bit of fun. She wasn’t supposed to feel such overwhelming joy at being in his arms. She wasn’t supposed to be thinking about forever.

“Hmmm, that feels good,” he said, opening his eyes once more. He kissed the end of her nose, and his hands began an exploration of her body. “What do you like, Cara?”

Her breath caught as he touched the underside of her breast with his thumb. “What do you mean?”

“How do you like to be touched? Where do you like to be kissed?”

Everywhere, if it’s by you.  “I don’t know.”

“Trust me, Cara. You can tell me anything.”

I hope you enjoyed the snippet! THE GIRL MOST LIKELY is available for .99 cents, but hurry! Today is the last day of the sale!

Amazon ~ The Wild Rose Press Barnes and Noble ~ Kobo ~ iBooks ~ Bookstrand ~ ARe

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Bonnie Phelps interviews her hero from "My Rodeo Man"

Author Bonnie Phelps is making a return visit to Journeys with Jana. This time she's here with a friend - her hero from her contemporary western romance MY RODEO MAN. Let's find out a little about Bonnie's cowboy.

Zachary Scott Kincaid – Zach for short – is one hot, hunk of a cowboy. Three-time World Champion Team Roper, he’s fast becoming a legend on the rodeo circuit. “My Rodeo Man” pits Zach against one unlucky in love but feisty Southern debutant, Ashley Drayton. The pair could not be farther apart in what they think they want out of life. She wants white picket fences and that ornery cowboy lives, eats and breathes the rodeo. Much to Ashley’s dismay, Zach is more tempting than her Great Aunt Hettie’s Punch Bowl Cake and with just as many layers – sexy as sin, ruggedly handsome, a grin that will melt your heart but a deep well of compassion for others, strong family values, honest, hard-working and a man you can count on in a pinch. Instead of me extoling his virtues, let’s let Zach answer some of our questions in his own words:

How old are you?
“30 – not a bad age. Old enough to have some life experience under my belt but still have lots of good years to look forward to.”

What is your relationship status?
He flashed me a grin that sent tingles clear down to my toes. “Single and never had a special someone.” His smile slipped away. “Haven’t been looking for love – to busy rodeoing and ranching. It’s not easy to be part of a long-term relationship when you’re on the road 9 months out of 12 but when love does finally slap me upside the head, I’m ready to settle down and end my bachelor ways.”

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
Zach rubbed his jaw. “It’s hard to judge yourself but the ladies seem to like what they see. I’m 6’ tall, have brown hair – my mom calls it Chestnut – that’s been streaked almost blond by the Texas sun and blue eyes. Ranch work keeps me fit but I also follow a regular exercise routine developed for me by a sports trainer. In this business, if you don’t stay in shape, you won’t stay on top. There’s always someone ready to take your spot. I think of myself as an all-American guy.”

What are peoples’ first impressions of you?
“People who don’t know the rodeo probably think I’m a risk-taker, a player, a guy without roots, a wanderer chasing the white line from rodeo to rodeo but that’s not who I am.” He crossed his arms against his Herculean chest. “Real rodeo folk are the salt of the earth and I’m proud to call myself a rodeo man.”

Name three of your favorite things.
“Easy – our ranch – The Rocking K, the rodeo and hosting a therapeutic riding program for disabled kids – though there is this special lady that’s making a run to take over one of the top three spots.”

Name three things that tick you off.
“People who say they’re going to do something and then don’t – a person has to stand by his word, got no use for bullies and finally, people who don’t treat their animals right. Those things are just wrong.”

What is your best memory to date?
Zach leaned his forearms on the table, angling himself toward me, mischief dancing in those sky-blue eyes. “Growing up in the Texas Hill Country on a ranch is one big blur of happy memories – riding the fences with my dad and soaking in his wisdom – that stays with me to this day, bellying up to some of my mom’s home cooking surrounded by the warmth and love of her kitchen, horsing around with my brothers and gazillion cousins. If I have to pick one that stands out, it would be the adrenalin rush of my first rodeo. Nothing like charging after that steer, the perfect throw, being so in-tune with my partner that you know you’ve nailed it, the roar of the crowd – I was hooked there and then.”

What are you most afraid of?
“All my life, it’s been rodeo – junior level, high school, college and now pro. I live, eat, breathe and sleep rodeo. It’s defined who I am and how people have known me for so long.” He leaned back in his chair, two-fingering his hat farther back on his head. “I know I can’t do this forever… reactions slow and the new kids take over… but am I at the top of my game yet? Is it time to step back from the thing I’ve loved most in the world for almost 26 years? I suppose what really scares me is who am I without the rodeo? Is there a ‘me’ beyond the rodeo? That’s the question I’m struggling with right now.”

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?
He scratched his head and crinkled his brows in thought. “This first part I saw on a tombstone and liked it. The second part is how I hope I’m remembered. ‘Say not in grief that he is no more but say in thankfulness that he was. His spirit lives in the deepness of his love, the generosity of his heart and the constancy of his faith.’”

Now on to something lighter, what is your favorite drink?
“You just can’t beat a beer on a hot day, unless it’s a beer on a cold day, or a beer with pizza, or a beer watching the game, or relaxing with the guys after a hard day herding cattle – basically anytime. I like Corona best but have been known to hoist a mug of Shiner or Lone Star.”

What is your favorite food?
“Until I had some of Ashley’s Black Bean Chili, I’d have to say my mama’s fried chicken, with mashed potatoes smothered in gravy, her fluffy buttermilk biscuits and a thick slice of apple pie.” He grimaced slightly and shrugged. “Sorry, mom, Ashley’s chili wins.”

What is your favorite song?
“‘How Country Feels’ by Randy Houser. Like the song says, country is a way of life and I believe it’s one that will make you happy. I love the land and what it represents. Good honest people who appreciate what we have.”

What was your first impression of Ashley?
“My first impression? All sassy, flirty, full of fun, with more curves than a twisty mountain road and God in his infinite wisdom put those curves in all the right places. Course, that was at a dance hall. Later I learned that in public she’s usually totally different – cool, sophisticated, the perfect Southern debutant. Personally, I like the sassy, flirty Ashley better. When I dug a little deeper though, I uncovered a charming, loyal, compassionate and vulnerable woman who has managed to get under my skin and win my heart.”

Follow Zack’s and Ashley’s story in “My Rodeo Man” available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBook and Kobo or visit my website, It’s In The Story.


Zach Kincaid was definitely not what Ashley Drayton was looking for – one more risk-taking, bad boy to add to that long list of narcissistic, jerks who kept breaking her heart. Well, she was fed up. From here on out, bad boys need not apply. So how in the world had this cocky, confident cowboy charmed his way into her affections? She sure wasn’t going to succumb without a fight.

Ashley Drayton looked like the typical, spoiled Southern Belle that made Zach turn tail and head for the hills. As a champion team roper on the rodeo circuit and ranch owner, he sure didn’t need the complications a feisty, prima donna would bring to his life. When he finally did settle down, he wanted a woman strong enough to stand beside him in the hard-knock world of ranching and rodeoing.

Can a rough and rugged cowboy live happily ever after with a sassy and sophisticated socialite?

Author Bio:

Rumor has it that Bonnie began telling stories at a very early age.  Photos exist of the author toddling around the corner of the house covered in mud babbling about magic rabbits leading her through the garden.  Her parents were amused – until they discovered she had also walked across the newly poured cement patio – which only added fuel to the fire of her passion for writing.  From then on, her active imagination continued to churn out plots and character sketches always wondering how different people would behave in similar situations.  People are endlessly fascinating and stories are everywhere.  She loves exploring, rearranging and weaving her narratives throughout her characters’ lives.

Bonnie used her writing skills throughout her professional life as a fundraiser and marketer for several nonprofits.  She enjoyed the chance to tell and share the story of worthy organizations.  In the late 1980s, Bonnie authored a syndicated column in several California newspapers in which she shared the experiences and misadventures of life as a wife and mother.  The jury is out on whether or not her children always appreciated her candor.  Because Bonnie has romance in her soul, she also worked as a Wedding Planner for several years.  Absolutely loved it!!  She craves anything sweet, revels in any chance to travel, is addicted to and sees a family saga novel somewhere in her future featuring her German immigrant great grandparents. A native Californian, she lives in Northern California with her husband.

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Girl Most Likely on Sale!

Don't forget that THE GIRL MOST LIKELY is on sale until May 27 for .99 cents! This romance features an older heroine, and a hero who's keeping some surprising secrets. Here's the blurb:

Cara McLeod, the girl most likely to have the perfect marriage, is now divorced and, in her own words, “fat, frumpy, and over forty.” The thought of facing former classmates—and the ex-husband who dumped her—at her high school reunion terrifies her. Cajoled into attending by her kids and her best friend, Cara enlists help at the gym to lose weight and look great for the reunion. Personal Trainer Finn Cooper is more than willing to help—but does he have to be so to-die-for gorgeous?

Finn thinks Cara is perfect just the way she is. She’s everything he wants in a woman, except for one thing—she can’t get past the fact that he's eight years younger. To Finn, age and weight are just numbers. But can he convince Cara the numbers she worries about add up to only one thing for him—love?

Here's another excerpt. I hope you enjoy it:

He remained playful for the rest of her workout. Cara floated into the ladies’ locker room on a wave of happiness.

She finished her shower and was drying off in her stall when she heard two women talking. Cara scarcely paid attention, until she heard, “Did you see the cow eyes she made at Finn?”

Who were they talking about?  She stopped drying and listened intently.

“As if he’d be interested in a woman who’s got to be ten years older.”

“Have you seen some of the outfits she wears? Where does she shop? The Salvation Army?”

They laughed uproariously. Shame and embarrassment welled up from the pit of Cara’s stomach, branching out to every cell in her body. They were right.  What could a gorgeous younger man like Finn possibly see in a frumpy, overweight, middle-aged woman like her? What a fool she’d been.

A stupid, middle-aged fool.

She waited until she heard the showers running to quickly dress and make her escape. Finn waved at her as she left the locker room.

“Cara, wait. Do you have a minute?”

She gave him a brilliant smile, her heart breaking. “Sorry, no. I’ve got to get home to my daughters.  Bye.”

Cara ran out of the gym to her car. She drove to a park near her home, and into a parking lot used only by maintenance staff.  She pulled her car to a stop between two city trucks, finally feeling alone.
The tears crashed down on her.  She slumped over the steering wheel as wave after wave of humiliation swept over her.  Had she been so starved for affection that she’d latched on to the belief that Finn felt something for her?  Maybe Peter had been right.  She was pathetic.

She cried until she simply didn’t have the energy to cry anymore.  Then she blew her nose and wiped her eyes in an attempt to repair the red and swollen eyes she saw in the rear view mirror.  She didn’t want the girls to know she’d been crying.

She thought about going to Nancy’s house.  But she couldn’t face the embarrassment of admitting she’d actually thought a younger man found her attractive.

Finally, she started her car, adjusted the rear view mirror, and wiped her eyes one last time before heading home.

It was a nice fantasy while it lasted.

If you'd like to read more, check out THE GIRL MOST LIKELY at your favorite e-retailer. But hurry. The .99 cent sale ends May 27th!

Amazon ~ The Wild Rose Press Barnes and Noble ~ Kobo ~ iBooks ~ Bookstrand ~ ARe

Friday, May 20, 2016

Interview with Mystery Writer Marilyn Levinson

My guest today is mystery and children's writer Marilyn Levinson. Marilyn and I are lucky enough to share a publisher, Uncial Press and I'm very happy to have the chance to interview her today. Here's Marilyn!

Where did you get the idea for your new novel, MURDER A LA CHRISTIE? 

I thought it would be fun to have my sleuth lead book club discussions about some of  Agatha Christie’s mysteries as she investigates the murders of various book club members.

Why did you choose this genre?

I love reading and writing mysteries. I adore secrets. They add intrigue and depth to a plot. All of my characters have secrets that rise to the surface as Lexie questions the members of the Golden Age of Mystery book club.

What was the most difficult thing about writing this book?

I had to spend time rereading many of Dame Agatha’s novels in order for me to create interesting discussions among the club members, discussions that often reveal aspects of their own lives, their values, and their reactions to the murders taking place in their wealthy community. Of course rereading the books wasn’t difficult, only time consuming.

I love Agatha Christie's mysteries and I've read a ton of them, but not for several years. I'd have to reread them too! Do you have any unusual writing habits?

I write in the late afternoon. It seems I have to go through my emails, take care of other writer-ly business before I’m able to settle down and write.

What do you want readers to come away with after they read MURDER A LA CHRISTIE?

I hope they’ve been entertained, as I think that is fiction’s primary purpose. I also hope my book will encourage readers to read a few Agatha Christie novels.

What genre have you never written that you’d like to write?

Though I’ve included ghosts and witches in some of my novels,  I think a full-blown fantasy would be fun.

When were you first published and how did that happen? Was it a long or short journey?

My book, And Don’t Bring Jeremy, a novel for kids that would now be considered YA, was published back in 1986. I was thrilled because it was reviewed in Publishers Weekly and was a nominee for six state awards. This was the third novel I’d ever written.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I plot out my novels, meaning I know the direction in which the book is going. That said, I create as I go along. My characters provide conflicts, actions and reactions, which help further the plot. Having everything planned out would be boring. I think we writers require elements of surprise.

Tell us a bit about you. Where do you live, and how long have you been writing?

I live on Long Island, New York, where I’ve lived most of my life. I started writing in early elementary school, then allowed myself to be discouraged by a high school English teacher. I started writing seriously when my sons were very small. They’re now in their mid forties.

I think many of us allow ourselves to be discouraged by others, so you're not alone in that. Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it? Does it help you with your writing?

I was a Spanish teacher for several years. I can’t say that it helps with my writing.

How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing?

I think every fiction writer draws on his or her life experiences. Having been a wife, a mother, a teacher, and a friend; having traveled and lived in various countries provide me with many plot ideas and help me develop my characters and their relationships.

If you could get rid of something in your life that would give you more writing time, what would it be?

Email. So much of it now consists of messages from companies trying to get me to use them to help me sell more books, write faster, write better. I can’t resist checking them out until I come to their prices.

Do you have any pets? Are you cat person or a dog person? Or are you into totally different pets, like goldfish? What do you like best about your pet?

I love my red tabby Sammy, even though he had a tendency to bite at times. He’s a wonderful companion and is usually stretched out close by. I love dogs, but I LOVE cats. My Pinterest cat and kitten boards are filled with pictures of the furry felines.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

I read novels, have recently started to knit again, watch foreign films, and dine out elegantly with my significant other, I also love to see my grandkids on FaceTime.

What did you want to be (occupation-wise) when you were a child?

I wanted to be a writer or a ballet dancer.

Name two authors we might find you reading when taking a break from your own writing.

A mystery by Ann Cleeves or by Charles Todd.

What are two (or more) of your all-time favorite books in any genre?

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth and Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth.

What do you like best about your heroine in MURDER A LA CHRISTIE?

I love Lexie Driscoll. She’s smart and funny, but she makes terrible decisions when it comes to men. Her first husband left her when she was pregnant with their son. It irks her that now father and son are great pals, living in California near one another. Both are musicians. Lexie’s second husband, a fellow professor, proved to be as mad as the proverbial hatter. He burned down her house with himself inside it. In Murder a la Christie,  Lexie meets two eligible, sexy men, both of whom find her attractive. Will she pick the right one this time?

How do you choose the names and physical characteristics of your characters? Do you base them on real people?

I choose names that I feel suit the character. Most of my characters have nicknames. Lexie’s real name in Alexis; Gabbie’s is Gabriela. My characters are not based on real people. I get to know their personalities, strengths and weaknesses as the book develops.

Tell us a little about your current work in progress.

Not everyone is pleased when Carrie Singleton is named director of programs and events in her hometown library. Carrie’s first guest is a retired detective who promises to expose Laura Foster’s murderer, the case he couldn’t solve fifteen years earlier. He’s poisoned before he can share information with the audience. With too few clues,  Carrie and Laura’s younger son, Jared, set out to solve both murders.

If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?

I’d start with Giving Up the Ghost because it’s a fun mystery. Cameron Leeds, my ghost, is one of my favorite characters. In life he was a sexy, good-looking romeo and a wheeler dealer. You can imagine how being a conniver and a ladies’ man has made him several enemies. When Gabbie Meyerson rents the Leeds’ cottage, Cam badgers her until she agrees to find out who murdered him. She unearths many secrets and indiscretions before coming face-to-face with Cam’s killer.

How can readers reach you or find you online?

My website is: I’m also on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest. I’ve my own blog and I blog on Make Mine Mystery twice a month.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

In the Spotlight: Elaine Violette & The Diary of Narcissa Dunn

Historical author Elaine Violette is my guest today with her new release THE DIARY OF NARCISSA DUNN. Please join me in welcoming her!

Scandalous secrets discovered in an old diary could shatter Olivia's identity and destroy her family. Will it be its finder or a messenger from the grave who reveals its hidden truths?

Thank you for the kind invitation to tell your readers about my newest eBook, THE DIARY OF NARCISSA DUNN, to be released on May 1st and presently available for pre-order on Amazon and KOBO.  When I first began writing novels, they were strictly British romances, always my favorite to read. Perhaps because I love to travel, I sent my heroine in my third book, A KISS OF PROMISE, on a harrowing journey across the ocean to Boston. In THE DIARY OF NARCISSA DUNN, the setting is 1800s New England and deals with societal issues as two men vie for the same woman for different reasons.  My inspiration for THE DIARY OF NARCISSA DUNN came from a morning walk in a cemetery. After reading a compelling and captivating epitaph on an old gravestone, I knew I had to write a novel based on the message.  No spoilers!  I hope readers will be captivated as well.


THE DIARY OF NARCISSA DUNN is a ghostly love story that combines historical romance with paranormal elements. Set in New England, pre-Civil War, the story reveals the complex relationship between a father and daughter as he attempts to control her future. When Olivia’s father tries to force her into an unwanted marriage, mysterious events occur, leaving the family on edge.
Meanwhile, Benjamin Pratt, desperately in love with Olivia, discovers an old diary that exposes scandalous secrets. He becomes an unwilling messenger, torn between revealing truths that will shatter Olivia’s identity and destroy her family, or keep the secret and watch her marry another. Either way, he’s bound to lose her unless a mysterious woman intervenes.

Buy Links: 

The Diary of Narcissa Dunn for Kindle:




     “William believes it is God’s will we marry. He’s already talked to Father and received his blessing. What was I to say?  Do I even have a voice in the matter?”

     Lovena’s large bosom lifted and sagged as she exhaled a troubling sigh. “You been spending time with Mr. Tapley, goin’ for walks and carriage rides. Didn’t you plan to go with him to the spring dance the town been plannin’ after Easter?  In his mind, you and him were courtin’ in a respectful way.”

     “Most of the time he was conversing with Father.” Olivia’s shoulders slumped. Had she led him to believe she was expecting a proposal? “I admit I was flattered by his attentions at first, but I hadn’t considered our relationship went beyond friendship…until recently.”

     “A man’s attentions to a pretty young woman ain’t never a desire for only friendship.”

     “I hadn’t meant to lead him into thinking I’d want to marry him.” She covered her face with her hands.

     Lovena pushed out a chair and sat beside her. “I think you been enjoyin’ Mr. Tapley’s attentions until the Pratt boy started showin’ up.”

     Olivia couldn’t deny it. At first she was flattered by William’s desire to spend time with her but deeper feelings hadn’t grown, despite the time they spent together. Even his kisses were forgettable. It was so different with Ben. Her heart leaped in her chest the minute she saw him arrive to begin his work. Her body tingled into the depth of her womb when they were together.

     Lovena wiped away a tear that rolled down Olivia’s cheek. “We can’t control those feelin’s inside, Livie, when the right boy stirs ‘em up.”

     “What am I to do?” she pleaded. “Father will understand, won’t he? He can’t expect me to marry a man I could never love.”

* * * * *
Author Bio:

Elaine writes British and American Historical Romances. Part of the fun of writing Historicals, she says, is doing research into the past and creating characters that live and love in those sometimes glorious and sometimes harrowing times. A veteran English teacher, Elaine holds a BS in English Education from the University of CT and an MS in Educational Leadership from Central CT State University. She presently teaches public speaking part time at a local community college. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and CT Romance Writers (CTRWA). Residing on the Connecticut shoreline with her golfing husband, Drew, she delights in being a wife, mother, and grandmother. Other favorite activities apart from reading and writing are nature walks, kayaking, and baking yummy desserts.

Author Links:
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We authors love to connect with our readers. I’m giving away a print copy of my Regency romance, REGAL REWARD, to one reader who comments on this blog and signs up for my newsletter on my website,

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Recipe Tuesday with Carol Preflatish

Carol Preflatish is here for Recipe Tuesday with a luscious looking dessert. I've always had a weakness for cheesecake! She'd like to let readers know that A KITCHEN AFFAIR will be on sale for .99 cents at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and iBooks from May 15 to 23, 2016.

I want to thank Jana for hosting me here today. When I found out that Tuesday's on her blog were for recipes, I knew my romantic suspense novel, "A Kitchen Affair" would be a perfect fit. I love to write and I love to cook, so what would be better than a book about a personal chef. 

   When culinary student Jenny Marshall struggles to pay her tuition, she decides to become a Personal Chef to make ends meet. The most eligible bachelor in town, Derek James, who happens to also be a millionaire, has a crisis. Two days before his Thanksgiving dinner party, his cook quit due to a family emergency. Desperate, he hires Jenny to cook for his party and there's chemistry from the start. He likes her, she likes him, but a manager at his company has set her sights on Derek and does everything she can to sabotage the relationship. Everyone thinks Colleen is the perfect match for Derek; everyone that is, except Derek. He desperately wants Jenny in his life. However, Colleen has other plans to keep that from happening. What lengths will she go to in order to keep Derek and Jenny apart?
   The book is filled with so many scrumptious dishes, but at the end of each chapter, you will find a recipe that Jenny prepared in that chapter. I've listed one of my favorite recipes from the book below.

Chocolate Rum Cheesecake

For the crust:
1 1/4 c. crushed chocolate wafers
1/4 c. cocoa
2 T. sugar
1/4 c. melted butter

For the filling:
2 – 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
5 – 12 oz. packages semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled
1/2 t. almond extract
1 t. vanilla
1/3 c. rum
2/3 c. sour cream

Preheat the oven to 300°f. Grease a springform pan and set aside.
To make the crust, combine the chocolate wafer crumbs, sugar, cocoa, and melted butter. Press into bottom of springform pan and chill.
To make the filling, beat the cream cheese until it’s smooth adding sugar gradually. Add in eggs one at a time and mix at low speed. Add cooled chocolate, vanilla, almond extract, rum, and sour cream. Beat at low speed until completed blended. Pour into the springform pan and bake for 1 hour. After the hour, turn off the oven, but leave the cake in for one hour longer. Cool at room temperature, and then chill for at least 24 hours before serving.

A Kitchen Affair excerpt:

   She didn't mind at all. The rest of the lunch was spent deciding on the menu for his dinner party.

   "I have an idea for something special for the dessert that night," she said.

   His mind wandered thinking that she was the only dessert he wanted and then realized he was getting excited. "What's your idea?"

   "With your approval, I thought I would make two Chocolate Rum Cheesecakes."

   "That sounds fantastic."

   "It's the one I told you about on the phone at Christmas. I think it would be the perfect for Valentine's Day."

   "I agree. Perfect idea." He watched as she made some notes on her pad. If he could have his way, he'd take her home to his bedroom right now. Instead, he would have to wait. He needed to win her back on her own terms, not his.

   "I'll get my contract typed up tonight and email it to you. All you need to do is sign the last page and send it back to me."

   "I have a better idea. I'll come home with you tonight and you can type it up while I wait."

   "No." She laughed. "I think you should probably take me back to my car now. I need to get home."

   "What's the hurry? How about we go to a movie? Two friends enjoying a movie together."

   She stood up, putting her coat on. "Nice try. This lunch was really great and I appreciate all the trouble and expense you went to."

   "I'd do it a hundred times over, if it would help us get together. Oh, you need the key to my house." He handed it to her.


   Derek drove her to the rear of the bakery where her car was parked. He turned off his car and grabbed her hand to keep her from getting out. "Jenny, I desperately want you in my life and I think you want the same thing. Just tell me what to do to make it happen."

   She looked away. "It's a matter of building up trust again. You said you cared for me, but you slept with Colleen. It's going to take some time."

   She started to open the door, but he squeezed her hand to stop her. "One more question."

   "What's that?"

   "I'd like for you to be my date for the dinner party."

   "I don't know. I had planned on preparing the food during the day and then leave. The servers I hired don't need me to direct them."

   "And, that's why you should be my companion for the night. I want everyone to meet you and I want you to get to know my friends."

   "I'll think about it." She pulled her hand away and got out of the car.

   Derek quickly jumped out too and ran over to her. He took her into his arms and kissed her. He captured her mouth with hungry urgency. She didn't resist, but instead welcomed him into her mouth. His tongue danced with hers until she finally pulled away.

   "Not yet, Derek. I can't." She got into her car and drove away leaving him standing there alone.

Buy Links:
A Kitchen Affair is on sale for .99 cents until May 23!

About the author:

Carol Preflatish has work in social services for over 30 years and is the author of five romantic suspense novels and two non-fiction books. She lives in southern Indiana and shares a log cabin with her husband and two cats in what seems like an enchanted forest with a menagerie of wildlife constantly visiting. Her interest in writing began in high school when she worked as a reporter, photographer, and Sport's Editor for the school newspaper.

Because of her interest in history, in 1993, she co-authored A Commemorative History of Crawford County, Indiana 1818 - 1993. More recently, her novel, Saved by the Sheriff placed second in the Best Mystery/Romance/Thriller category of the Love Romances Café Best of 2011 Awards.

One of Carol's favorite hobbies is photography and she has had many of her photos published in her local newspaper, as well as in the July 1997 issue of Golf Journal, the official publication of the United States Golf Association.

Carol enjoys writing romantic suspense and is currently working on a mystery police procedural series. She is a member of the Sisters in Crime organization.

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Girl Most Likely on Sale!

My contemporary romance, THE GIRL MOST LIKELY, is on sale for .99 cents from May 13 to May 27, 2016. I'm happy to offer Cara and Finn's story for such a great price. Here's the blurb:

Cara McLeod, the girl most likely to have the perfect marriage, is now divorced and, in her own words, “fat, frumpy, and over forty.” The thought of facing former classmates—and the ex-husband who dumped her—at her high school reunion terrifies her. Cajoled into attending by her kids and her best friend, Cara enlists help at the gym to lose weight and look great for the reunion. Personal Trainer Finn Cooper is more than willing to help—but does he have to be so to-die-for gorgeous?
Finn thinks Cara is perfect just the way she is. She’s everything he wants in a woman, except for one thing—she can’t get past the fact that he's eight years younger. To Finn, age and weight are just numbers. But can he convince Cara the numbers she worries about add up to only one thing for him—love?
Here's a short excerpt from the opening of THE GIRL MOST LIKELY:

You are cordially invited to the 25th reunion of Summerville High School Class of ‘85.
Hard to believe it's been 25 years since we last walked the halls of Summerville High. Wouldn't you like to know what's going on with former classmates?

 Not really.

Cara McLeod shook her head. High school felt like a lifetime ago. Best it remained in the past with the rest of the things she’d left behind, like her marriage. And her waistline.

The Reunion Committee has worked hard to plan a fabulous, fun-filled three day celebration on the last weekend in June at the historic Summerville Inn.

Bring your spouse or come stag. You won't believe the surprises waiting for you!

Surprises? Cara scowled at the embossed invitation. The plugged toilet and her car’s dead battery had been all the surprises she could handle this week, thank you very much. She stuffed the invitation into the pocket of her hoodie and turned her attention back to her job.

She consulted her clip board; the personal trainer was first up. As a junior assistant, her job on the live local events show at KBST Television was to make sure guests of the show were present and accounted for, provided with coffee and snacks, and escorted onto the sound stage at the appropriate time.

Even though the guests were adults, in age anyway, the job was a lot like her previous work experience – motherhood. Keep an eagle eye on her charges at all times, feed and water when necessary, and lead them by the hand to wherever they needed to go.

She headed to the green room to retrieve the personal trainer. Would her ex-husband attend this fancy shindig for their 25th high school reunion?

Cara tried to pushed thoughts of Peter from her mind, but they stuck like stubborn carpet stains. What did she care if he flaunted his latest young, skinny girlfriend in front of all their old friends? She wasn’t going anyway. She didn’t need a reunion to remind her that few of her high school dreams had come to fruition. She should have left the stupid invitation in the mailbox this morning. Why was she torturing herself?

If you'd like to read more, go to one of the following online e-retailers and download THE GIRL MOST LIKELY in your favorite format:

Amazon ~ The Wild Rose Press ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Kobo ~ iBooks ~ Bookstrand ~ ARe

Friday, May 13, 2016

Jill Jaynes and Knightless in Seattle

Author Jill Jaynes is with me today to talk about the present day knights who inspired KNIGHTLESS IN SEATTLE. Take it away, Jill!

Guys with Swords, sign me up!
When I started writing Knightless in Seattle, I wanted my character to meet a Knight in Shining Armor in present-day Seattle. I didn’t have far to look far to see how that could actually happen.
I have a daughter who regularly participates in LARP- Live Action Role Play. Among the people she has met are guys who like their swords. Real swords, that is. I met one of them, a perfectly normal guy you’d pass on the street and never guess spends some serious time taking  Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) classes in fencing, and is quite good at it, by the way.

Let’s face it- guys (and some of us girls) love their weapons- the bigger, the badder the better! Even though there isn’t a lot of call these days for wielding a broadsword, a mace or a pole-axe, plenty of people spend their free time learning to wield these badass weapons.

Medieval Martial Arts isn’t for sissies, and it’s not for people looking to ‘look cool’ in movies or plays. It’s serious business, and the people who teach it are dedicated to keeping alive the traditions and methods of medieval combat.

If you have always wanted to learn how to use a longsword, spear, short staff, dagger, sickle, messer (dare I ask?) or rapier, you can go sign up for classes at your local neighborhood HEMA academy, or join a club, because lucky for you, there was a huge revival of interest in this whole thing in the early 1990s. There are associations and organizations and resources available, and the internet makes it easier than ever to find them and plug in.

I did a quick search on the internet and turned up a large Southern California presence- but there are schools all over the country. And they like to hold tournaments and competitions (a big one is held in Las Vegas). Awesome!

In Los Angeles, The Academy of Arms instructors, like many self-respecting HEMA academies, teach a curriculum drawn directly from historical texts of the 14th and 16th centuries.  You should check them out, they have some great videos:

Their stated goal is “to revive these lost arts by increasing awareness and inspiring a passion for this rich period of history.” They offer both Recreational and Historical track levels of classes where you can learn to use all the badass medieval weapons you could dream of.

So if you thought (like me) that Knights didn’t exist in this day and age, then let my book, Knightless in Seattle, and HEMA prove you wrong!


Jackie thinks she is on her way to work one Saturday morning to fulfill yet another of her boss’s outrageous demands, but the love magic she doesn’t know is woven into the gloves made by her best friend sends her instead on an unexpected detour to true love.

Too bad there aren’t any knights-in-shining armor around when a girl needs one; or any other time for that matter. But maybe the one wearing chain mail will do just fine, as Lance Masters, European Martial Arts Master extraordinaire, appears out of the misty Seattle rain to push Jackie’s car into a nearby gas station after she runs out of gas. The zap of chemistry between them makes her wonder if she has met the man of her dreams, but her hopes are just as quickly dashed upon learning that her knight is only in town to attend a huge local Live Action Role Play (LARP) event taking place that weekend.

Lance Masters has made a career of building up and selling a chain of European Martial Arts studios on the east coast. When he meets Jackie, wet, bedraggled and pushing her dead-as-a-doornail car in the rain, he knows he must see her again. He’ll start with inviting her to cheer him on the next day in the multi-state European Martial Arts tournament being hosted by the LARP. But he suspects that won’t be nearly enough.


For the previous hour, Lance had put her through a strenuous workout until she mastered the self-defense move she had asked him to teach her. Now they were doing what he called "a little blade work."

As much as she appreciated the lessons, every passing minute she spent with the man only increased her attraction to him. It wasn't just his amazing body, or the impressive strength and controlled power of his movements while he had been teaching her.

It was the hunger burning in his eyes that made every glance feel like a touch, every touch tingle like a zap of electricity. Her nerve endings were sparking like loose power lines in a high wind. Her whole body hummed with the steadily building tension. She wanted him.


Bad enough that she was willing to settle for what she could get with him, even if it was only one night. She was pretty sure he wanted her, too. When was he going to kiss her, for God's sake?

Outside, rain drifted through the darkened Seattle streets, its faint patter on the windows setting a cozy music to the evening and making the room into a warm safe cocoon for the two of them.
Heat radiated from Lance's body, and the scent of clean, warm, and intently focused man enveloped Jackie, bringing a definite wobble to her knees that had nothing to do with the previous workout.
She swallowed hard, and closed her eyes to try to gather her wandering attention. "Okay, fine, Mr. Ninja Knight. Show me what I'm supposed to do."

She felt him shift his weight from foot to foot behind her, as his fingers tightened over hers on the dagger's handle.

"Slide your hand up a bit so your fingers are snug on the underside of the guard. It protects you from your opponent's weapon and keeps you from cutting yourself on your own blade."

Jackie let him adjust her hold until her fingers bumped the underside of the little dome-like shield-thing that circled the base of the blade.

"Kind of like a little safety feature," she said, while eyeing the dagger uneasily. "I get that." It still looked plenty dangerous. She didn't know how much good a narrow hand guard was going do when she was handling what looked like a machete to her.

"You're doing great," he murmured into her hair. His voice slid like silk over her senses and made her want to throw the stupid knife into the wall, grab him and have her way with him right now.

She sighed. "Okay, so let's do this. I'm about as ready as I'm gonna be." Plus, the sooner they were done with the martial arts lesson, the sooner they could get on to other, more interesting, activities.

He put his mouth against the back of her neck. "Planning on using it against me?" His voice vibrated against her skin, followed by the feel of his firm, moist lips as he trailed a line of kisses along the side of her neck. Tingles exploded all the way down to her toes.

Jackie shivered and swallowed hard, fighting for control as a haze of need swamped her vision. "Should I?" Her voice sounded husky in her own ears.

"Oh, definitely." Lance deftly took the blade from her fingers and tossed it onto a pile of clothes beside his suitcase. "Or something like this could happen." Before she knew it, he'd twirled her to face him, and was taking her mouth in a searing kiss.

Huzzah! Jackie wrapped her arms around him.

Buy Links:

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ iBooks ~ Kobo

Jill Jaynes' Social Media links:

Website URL:
Twitter: @jill_jaynes

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Secondary Characters with Colleen Donnelly

I usually feature stories about secondary characters on Mondays, but I'm changing it up a little this week. Colleen Donnelly joins me for a fascinating look at one of her secondary characters. Please join me in welcoming Colleen Donnelly!

Secondary Characters – The Substance of Life

This is my tribute to secondary characters who for one fleeting moment became heroes in my life: To Tommy Duncan, a junior high classmate who shocked me with how soft boys’ lips were when he kissed me on the cheek. To Corky the Rat Terrier, a joyful little white streak in my yard who came and went far too quickly. To the elderly businessman who in passing at a meeting warned the younger single me, “Never settle, always select.”

As an author, if I write what I know, my favorite fictional secondary character is an amalgamation of heroes I at some point encountered and admired deeply. Magdalena Paine is that character – a heroine in her moment, a background my story couldn’t have been told without.

Magdalena lets us know who she is in her opening in “Asked For” by saying, “My name is Magdalena. When I was growing up I was Magdalena Paine, but now I’m Magdalena something different. I’ve been several something differents since I was a girl, but none of them matter. What matters is the time I was Magdalena Paine…”

In those few lines I see a girl who grew up rejected, suffered at least one broken heart, and used those broken hearts to overcome.

Magdalena also introduces her mother, Lana Paine, in her opening – “Mama had six children after she had me, five of them one right after the other, mostly because Pop couldn’t leave her alone. It wasn’t that he was in love with her; he just loved hard the same way he worked hard. …Mama never complained, no matter what Pop did, and my brothers and sisters didn’t either. They were too afraid.”

Magdalena is the woman every family needs. Instead of accepting her father’s rejection, she owns who she is – turning herself into the mirror he refuses to look in. She wears makeup and smokes in the face of his claims that only hags and whores behave in such ways. Magdalena wasn’t just rebellious, she suffered her father’s heat to deflect it from her mother, her siblings, and most of all from James…That Boy…the one their father said wasn’t his.

If you haven’t been, then you’ve known, a girl who searched for acceptance in “several something differents” – a string of various last names, a series of relationships that came and went. And she did it to live instead of die, and she did it so her family would live also.

Magdalena is hard to read, and rejection is hard to live, but Magdalena did it so very, very well.

Blurb for Asked For:

Cletus asked for Lana when she was barely more than a child. He told her grandmother wanted a wife, not a bride, someone to keep his house the way he wanted it and to give him sons. He got more daughters than sons, and he also got James, “That boy,” the one Cletus claimed wasn’t his.

Jim Dillon wanted Lana — he always had. He just hadn’t expected her to be taken away and married to someone else so soon. Glen Morgan recognized the beauty underlying Lana’s worn features and he stepped in where Cletus hadn’t, offering help to her and her children.

Lana grew up under Cletus’ demands, fulfilling what was expected of her — until his accusations that she’d done the unexpected and been unfaithful. Lana no longer looked at what might have been or what could be,. She discovered what was most important, and she found it inside of herself.


She wore her auburn hair longer now because Cletus liked it that way, but it was pulled back out of Magdalena’s and Betsy’s reaches. And no makeup. She’d come plain, the way she always was, plain and tired.

“I probably am a sight.” Lana felt her face flush, but tried to ignore it. She wasn’t here to be told how good she looked. She was here to see Grandma, see herself and her new life against her old one and the person who’d told her how this new one was supposed to be lived.

“You look just fine, actually.” A tall shadow filled the shed’s doorway behind Grandma. “If anything, you’re a sight for sore eyes.”


Jim Dillon stepped from the shed’s dark interior. He’d changed. She was shocked at what he’d become. He’d grown in three years, muscles where scrawny arms used to be, tanned skin and chiseled features where softness used to be. There was still the boy in his eyes, though, the boy who’d helped her with chores before she left to get married. The boy Grandma had said really wasn’t there to help Lana but was there because he needed the pay. A bucket half full of milk dangled from one of Jim’s hands. Grandma was right again. He was here not because Lana was but because he needed the pay.

Jim didn’t stare at her daughters, or the bulge of her stomach, or the worn dress that covered it. He just looked at her face, his eyes scanning every feature as if relearning, even admiring, who she’d become.

Buy Link:


Author Bio:

Colleen L. Donnelly resides in the Midwestern United States. Born and raised in this central part of the country, she eventually broadened her horizons by exploring and experiencing other areas and cultures until she returned to her home ground to settle for good. Colleen always knew, or was told, she could/should write, but there was never enough time until education, family, and career were well established. Now she loves creating character driven tales, telling her stories with a literary style that flows at a gentle and smooth pace. Besides writing, Colleen enjoys the outdoors, theater, treasure hunting through antique malls and flea markets, and rubbing shoulders with other creative people. Colleen always has her eyes and ears open for that one statement or unexpected incident that sprouts like a tiny seed into her next new novel.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

Secondary Mondays with Mary Patterson Thornburg

I love posts about secondary characters, and Mary Patterson Thornburg has a good one for us today. Mary and I both publish with Uncial Press, and I'm very happy to host her today. Please welcome Mary Patterson Thornburg!

Main characters in fiction, especially romantic fiction, are usually bound to certain rules. They may have faults – in fact, they'd better have some faults or we'd find them boring! – but for the most part they have to be people we like and can identify with. They have to be comfortable to be around, or we won't want to read about them.

Secondary characters have a little more freedom. All they have to be is interesting.

One of my own favorite characters, from my romantic adventure novel The Kura, is Lady Vinh Ke Saar, the kura of the nomadic village where my heroine Alyssha goes to live when she leaves our world and travels to the country of Bandor in the alternate world of Aerte.

A kura is a combination healer, teacher, and spiritual advisor, a traditional role in this society. Lady Vinh is unusual in this role – unlike some village kurau (the plural of kura), she's a formally educated and licensed physician and surgeon and also a well-known scholar and writer. Unlike any other of Bandor's kurau, she was born a member of the old ruling class/race, who rejected her wealthy family when she was twenty and was adopted into a native clan. She's very old – no one really knows how old – and very wise.

She's also demanding, arrogant, sharp-witted and sharp tongued. If she's ever had a warm and fuzzy impulse, she's kept it well hidden. To say she's respected is an understatement – most people are in awe of her, and some are frankly scared. She has a network of informants all over the country and beyond. She knows what's happening here, there, and everywhere, often before anyone else gets the news.

Some people think she employs magic – or witchcraft.

One of the things I love about secondary characters is how they can influence and bring out qualities in the other, more central characters. Alyssha met Lady Vinh when she was twelve, and the old woman was impressed with the girl's courage and her heart. She invited her to study with her, to learn to be a kura herself. So, when Alyssha returns at age eighteen, they continue with a relationship that's necessarily close. Little by little, it reveals – and changes – both of them. Alyssha learns from the old kura not only by following her orders and completing her assignments, but also by watching her closely and noticing things that others don't see. And Lady Vinh, despite herself, can't resist feeling Alyssha's influence.

Here's an excerpt from The Kura that shows something of that relationship, early in Alyssha's studies. The third character mentioned here, Shan, is Alyssha's fiancé, a young Stone Village man who's now a medical student in the city of Bandor Gan:

Vinh Ke Saar kept her almost every morning from sunrise until noon. They talked sometimes about subjects that seemed far removed from what Alyssha had been reading, although she soon began to see connections on many levels. Frequently these conversations and duties were interrupted by visits from villagers who sought Vinh Ke Saar's help or advice, and Alyssha stayed to observe and sometimes assist in small ways. In the afternoons she often went with Lady Vinh's assistant, Kla Manya, to visit patients or to gather herbs from plantings and wild areas surrounding the village.
On two occasions that summer the kura sent for surgeons, once to Bandor Gan and once to Salin Tor, a small city on the northwest coast, to deal with cases that couldn't be transported. She herself had not practiced surgery for several years, except in extreme emergencies. One of these occasions was a case of acute appendicitis, the patient being the ten-year-old son of a Bandor Gan woman visiting her sister with Stone Village. The other was a sel inso birth, what Alyssha would have termed a caesarian section, performed on a young woman too advanced in pregnancy to travel by the time Vinh Ke Saar realized that a normal birth would be impossible.
Both times Alyssha was allowed to observe, and she found the procedures fascinating. In the boy's case the outcome was a success. The surgeon, with Manya's aid, opened the abdomen, removed the inflamed organ, and closed the incision in minutes. The woman, too, survived without ill effect, but her babies turned out to be conjoined twins so unequally developed that one died within minutes of their birth and the other a few hours later, despite the surgeon's having separated them immediately after the death of the first.
Alyssha stayed all night beside the young mother, until her second baby girl died. The woman, whose husband was in Bandor Gan trading, was weakened by the surgery. She seemed without protection at all, for she refused more of the elu tea that had made her unconscious, and Vinh Ke Saar didn't press it on her. Until dawn Alyssha lay beside her, weeping with her, holding her and the dead babies in her arms.
"This is what I saw in you," said Vinh Ke Saar when Alyssha came to her, exhausted, an hour later. The kura was at her desk, her pen poised over a manuscript page. She seemed paler than usual, her white face in stark contrast with the elaborately dressed and improbably bright red hair, which Alyssha knew was a wig. "You've given her some of your heart. Now go and rest, my dear." She dipped the pen in ink and resumed writing.
Alyssha started to leave, then turned. "Will there be funerals for the babies?"
"Yes, of course, when the father returns. Two ceremonies. They were two human beings, after all, although they were not human for very long, and they were so nearly only one." The old woman blotted her page. "God tries out the spirit in strange ways, sometimes," she remarked dryly.
Back in her own bed, drifting in the oddly lucid space that sometimes preceded sleep when she was especially tired, Alyssha remembered that last remark.
Shan, she knew, hated death – any death, the very idea of death. Only extreme suffering with no remedy could resign him to it. His reaction to eleven-year-old Tenra's death, when he was fifteen, had been not so much grief for Tenra herself as anger at the village kura who hadn't recognized her symptoms in time.
On the other hand, Lady Vinh seemed to accept death, even in the very young, if not cheerfully, then at least without resentment. Almost heartlessly, Alyssha felt. To die was as integral a part of existence as to be born. She would fight to preserve life in her patients. Alyssha had seen her do it. But she seemed to view the frequent loss of such fights, as long as they were hard-fought, as inevitable. "We play this game with God," she'd said once. "God has given us the ability to win it for a while, but in the end God will always win."
Perhaps it was the wisdom of old age speaking. Maybe she'd come to such wisdom herself, in time. But for now she could much more readily share Shan's stubborn refusal to give in to death, and his bitter resentment when he met defeat.

When she was twelve, chased by strangers bent on violence, Alyssha Dodson hid in an eerie room under a bridge in her small Indiana city. Stunningly and suddenly, she found herself far from home – in Bandor, a country in an alternate universe, where Earth was Aerte, steam power had been in use for only a couple of decades, and a revolution was brewing – to be fought with swords and spears. Here Alyssha discovered the brother who'd disappeared from her life when she was seven, a homeland where she felt she truly belonged, and a young man she knew she'd hold in her heart forever.

She'd had to return to her own world, and for six years she's been torn between her longing for Bandor and her loyalty and love for her widowed father. But now, when a hit-and-run victim found dying on a Granville street says her name and gives a policeman a coin from that other place, Alyssha has no choice but to go back.

When she gets there, she finds that a lot has changed…

The Kura is a novel of political intrigue, love, and especially a young woman's journey toward self-discovery.

Buy Links:

Mary Patterson Thornberg can reached through her Facebook Page or on Twitter at @MaryPThornburg.

Friday, May 6, 2016

#NewRelease from M.S. Spencer!

My guest today is M.S. Spencer, whose romantic suspense, THE MASON'S MARK: LOVE AND DEATH IN THE TOWER, releases today. Here she is to tell us where the idea for her newest release came from.

The Mason's Mark: Love and Death in the Tower, arose in part out of a true story. Starting in the 1940s an Italian named Licio Gelli embarked on a lifetime of bizarre scams and crimes. Alternately linked to rightists and leftists, he bilked or used people from Italian politicians, to the Nazis, the Communists, the CIA, even to Juan Peron, dictator of Argentina. His exploits cross the globe and spanned four decades. At last check, he was still alive, in his nineties and writing poetry from prison. In 1996 he was even nominated for the Nobel prize in literature.

Gelli is most famous for founding a Masonic lodge called Propaganda Due, a renegade group that was first dissolved, then reinstated, then erased by the Grand Orient de Italia. He had ensnared many prominent Italians into P2, which ultimately led to several huge scandals.  He is the model for the shadowy puppetmaster in my new romantic suspense novel The Mason's Mark: Love and Death in the Tower (an Old Town Romance). Here's a summary:

In both the best and worst first day at work ever, docent Claire Wilding meets the man of her dreams, but her carefully rehearsed guided tour of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial collapses when she discovers a body and is drawn into a dark world of black ops and Italian renegade masons, of secret cabals and hidden treasure. Also cloaked in mystery is handsome Gideon Bliss, a George Washington expert who haunts the Memorial, his manner evasive. What is his secret? Claire fears she'll fall in love with him only to learn he's a thief or even a murderer. Juggling two eccentric mothers, an inquisitive sister, and an increasingly smitten detective, Claire must find answers to a complex web of intrigue, including who to trust and who to love.

The Mason's Mark: Love and Death in the Tower (an Old Town Romance)
Wild Rose Press, May 6, 2016 (Crimson Rose imprint)
Mystery/Cozy Mystery, Romantic suspense
ebook 79,000 words; print 322 pp.
M/F;  3 flames

Buy Links:

TWRP ~ iBooks ~ Barnes and Noble ~ All Romance Ebooks ~ Amazon ~ Bookstrand ~ Kobo

Excerpt (PG):  First Meeting

“Next we’ll be visiting a museum devoted to George Washington. The Masonic Memorial houses an impressive collection of artifacts, some of which were donated by the Washington family and some rescued from the fire in 1871 that destroyed the first lodge. Please be sure to check out Dr. Elisha Cullen Dick’s pocket watch. He was George Washington’s close friend and presided over his death bed.”

As they filed out on the fourth floor and automatically turned right as all human flocks do, Claire surveyed the room. The black and white parquet floor sparkled. Around three sides ran a balcony, filled with small alcoves and paintings. The light from a porthole window flooded the room. As she headed toward a bust of George Washington, a shadow moved behind a column. She took a step toward it, but Mrs. Malloy’s voice stopped her. “Frank, Luther—you be good, hear? I’m gonna sit down for a bit.”

Claire watched, horror-struck, as the woman plunked down on the Chippendale chair Washington had used as Worshipful Master of the Lodge. The yellow tape meant to prevent access to it lay in tatters on the floor. She had lunged forward, one hand stretched out to grab the transgressor, when the shadow flitted across her vision again. Feeling like a spectator at a tennis match, she spun around. There. Shaking a finger at the woman and barking “No!” in her most imperious voice, she rounded a pillar. Sure enough, a man stood there by a small bookcase built into the wall.

During Claire’s training, Mr. Quinn had ground into her the absolute prohibition against unauthorized individuals wandering around in the Tower. Oh God, I hope I don’t have to call for backup. “Sir? Can I help you?”

The man jumped and turned to her, his eyes wide, giving Claire the opportunity to admire two very large orbs tinted a luminous tourmaline green. His mobile face sported a Roman nose of reasonable proportion, a strong chin only slightly marred by a salt-and-pepper stubble, and the high cheekbones of an Aztec chief. His tan was not so deep as to seem artificial. Claire had raised her eyes to behold a head of wavy, chocolate brown hair when he began to speak. His sonorous baritone—a cross between Dean Martin and Elvis Presley—captivated her and she found herself humming “That’s Amore” under her breath.

“No, thank you…er…” He peered at her chest. Her hand went protectively to the bosom that drew most eligible bachelors’ attention until she realized he was trying to read her name badge.

“Um…Claire. Claire Wilding. I’m the docent here.” She indicated her troops, at least two of whom were attempting to wreak irreparable damage on each other with a wooden staff carved in the likeness of John the Baptist. “Who are you?”

He smiled suddenly, revealing brilliant white teeth. His whole face lit up, and Claire swallowed hard.
“I’m Gideon Bliss. And in case you’re wondering whether I’m here lawfully, the answer is yes.” He stuck out a large hand, calluses prominent on his trigger finger. They reminded Claire of her father’s hands. “David—Mr. Comfrey—gave me permission to visit the museum.” His eyes glinted with little flecks of gold and humor.

Claire found herself at a loss for words and not just because he’d invoked the name of the Worshipful Master of the Alexandria-Washington Masonic Lodge. She sank into the depths of his verdant eyes, while the mellifluous voice rolled over her. Just before she nodded off, he stopped speaking. She shook herself. “Oh, I see. Well, I’ll leave you to it.” Sheesh, Claire, are you shooting for the most pitiful female in Washington award?

Bliss hadn’t moved. “You say you’re the docent here? Could you help me find something?”

Claire dropped her eyes and mumbled, “Uh…”

“I’m sorry, what did you say?”

“Um…this is my first day. I…I doubt if I can help you.”

He chuckled. “So you didn’t actually mean anything by your first question.”

“My first…Oh, well, you know, that was sort of…rhetorical. I mean, no one is supposed to be here. Other than me. And of course them.” She waved at the group, who had now begun to congregate by the elevator doors. All except for the two boys, who were nowhere to be seen, and their mother, who continued to sprawl blithely on the President’s priceless antique chair.

Her abrupt answer seemed to annoy Bliss. “I see.” He turned back to the bookcase and pulled a large, dusty leather tome off the shelf. Claire spent a painful second staring at his rigid back and finally tore herself away, visions of emerald eyes filled with admiration at her beauty quickly evaporating.

If readers like the Mason's Mark, they might also want to check out The Penhallow Train Incident, also from the Wild Rose Press.

About the Author

Although she has lived or traveled in every continent except Antarctica and Australia (bucket list), M. S. Spencer has spent the last thirty years mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, kayaker, policy wonk, non-profit director and parent. Blessed with two fabulous grown children, she has published ten romantic suspense/mystery novels. She now divides her time between the Florida Gulf coast and a tiny hamlet in Maine.


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Author Pages:

Romance Books 4 Us ~ Amazon Author Page ~ Goodreads