Category Archives: Release Promotion

Guest Release–Cowboys, Cattle and Cutthroats By Gini Rifkin

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Ochessa is heartbroken when she finds her brother fatally wounded. His dying words are about a childhood puzzle box, missing legal documents, and a drifter named Nicodemus Breedlove. Ochessa vows to find Will’s murderer—and the man Will described.

No stranger to trouble, Nic’s only concerns are his Stetson, his mule Sadie, and a long-awaited chance at retribution. After gaining Ochessa’s trust, and taking the job she offers, life gets more complicated.

Weathering a stampede, a gully washer, and a pack of outlaws, they locate the killer. As Nic’s quest for justice, and Ochessa’s vendetta for Will play out, bullets fly…

Not everybody’s gonna make it out alive.

BUY LINKS

The Wild Rose Press

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EXCERPT

She wanted so badly to be loved and needed. And she wanted Nic to be the man to fulfill those emotions. What made him special she couldn’t—maybe shouldn’t—define. But like a half-remembered dream, an ethereal connection existed between the two of them and right now that seemed all that mattered.

When he halted to stand before her, his gaze turned hungry, and he eased the hat from her head and lowered his mouth to hers. Accepting the full depth of his kiss, she braced her hands against his chest, gripping his shirt with both fists—she never wanted him to leave.

He pulled away first. “Ochessa,” he whispered, in a husky voice. “I can’t go on wanting you without knowing if you feel the same.”

“I want you too. You know I do. But I’m scared, and I don’t even know what it is I’m scared of.”

“How about change. Or the future or the raw need I feel in you. Sometimes I’m scared too—and lonely.”

At his declaration, part of her fears melted.

“You don’t trust my intentions.” He spoke the words that always sat like a dark harbinger in the recesses of her mind.

“No, I do trust you. Really I do.” She was amazed at her own admission, but the decision felt right. “I just need time to sort out my life.”

“Well, time is about all I got.  And I can bear the wait as long as I know what it is I’m waiting for.”

If joy could be counted as a tangible commodity, she suddenly felt rich beyond compare.

Their gazes met and held until it seemed the writing on their souls told the same story, and what bound them emotionally could no longer be separated by Man or Destiny, but only by their failure to take a chance.

Gini Rifkin

Gini Rifkin’s characters are courageous and passionate, and when they meet sparks fly, while danger often threatens.  Her settings include the American West, Medieval and Victorian England, and contemporary fantasy. When not writing, she has the privilege of caring for her rescue animals including ducks, geese, goats, rabbits, donkeys, and cats.

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The inspiration behind A Christmas Cowboy to Keep–a contemporary western collection

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I posed the question “What is the inspiration for your story?” to the seven authors who contributed to this collection currently on pre-order for only 99 cents to release October 25th. Here are their answers:

Christmas, Liberty, and the Three Minute Man

Carra Copelin: The inspiration for my story came from my brother who has a much more colorful past than I do. He’s also a Country Western Gospel singer/songwriter, who writes some amazing songs. Last year he helped me with an idea for a book I was writing at the time and I asked him for some insight into a character he had helped me develop. I wanted to be sure I had the flavor of the personality right in the dialogue. He said, “Sis, I don’t know anything about writing books. I’m just a three minute man.” Well, I knew I had to write a book around that statement. That’s when I came up with the story about Liberty Hart and Daniel Layman. It’s a fun read about a sassy event planner from Nashville and a sexy cowboy songwriter from Texas. I think you’ll like it.

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A Christmas Carole

Andrea Downing:  You say, ‘Christmas book’ and the first one that pops into my mind is Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  So what could be more inspirational than that?  Of course, transferring ideas from the story into a contemporary western romance is another matter. The story wasn’t going to be paranormal so out went the visiting ghosts for a start.  And could someone actually be named Scrooge? I played around with the spelling and came up with Schrugge—if you google ‘pronouncing the name Schrugge’ Scrooge comes up. In other methods, the name comes out as pronounced both Shrug or Screw-gy.  Since I have a friend whose last name is pronounced three different ways by three branches of her family, I felt justified in choosing ‘Shrug.’ As for the rest of it, well, there are Staves instead of ‘Parts’ as per Dickens, a tiny Tim, and definitely a look at Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come.  I hope I’ve used just enough of Dickens to give a nod toward that most well-respected story.

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The Peppermint Tree

Kristy McCaffrey:  The main inspiration, initially, was the Christmas theme. I wanted a fun title that conveyed the holiday, so I came up with THE PEPPERMINT TREE first, not really knowing how I was going to work it into the story. I also decided early on that my heroine, Skye Mallory, would be a lawyer. This caused me no end of angst because I know nothing about lawyers LOL. Time to research. The rest was fleshed out during car rides with my husband. He’s not a writer, but he’s usually a good sport in helping me brainstorm. He gave me the idea for shifting property lines because true north moves ever so slightly over time, as well as insights into the types of vehicles the hero and heroine would drive. The steamy love scene in the country club bathroom facilities came about because I was recently visiting my in-laws in Florida and their club restrooms were so spacious—practically mini-apartments. Seemed like the perfect spot for a romantic encounter. I really had a good time writing this novella, and I sure hope readers will enjoy reading it.

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The Devil’s Christmas Kiss

Devon McKay: The inspiration for my story came from my 3 year old granddaughter. She was telling me of a boy who likes to pick on her during play dates. After a two hour long conversation, I summed up that Connor pulls her hair, especially when she wears pigtails, steals her baby, and likes to make her cry, all of which was accompanied by over-the-top dramatic sighs (she is seriously either going to be an actress or an author). When she finished her story, I suggested maybe taking her to another play date group. Her response was crocodile tears and a loud, “No! Connors my boyfriend and I’m going to marry him one day.”

For some reason, I thought this would make a perfect romance.

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Slay Bells

Hildie McQueen: The inspiration for my story came from my last visit to Wyoming and Montana and my marriage. I can definitely relate with Carmen, the heroine in that she would have never settled in Missoula or even considered it, if it wasn’t for falling in love.

As a young woman I would have nixed the idea of life in the small town where my husband grew up. He was raised on the border of Montana and Idaho and I lived in San Diego, CA.

Nowadays, if my husband were to ask me to move to Montana, I’d do it in a heartbeat!

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The Best Christmas

Hebby Roman: The inspiration for my story was a movie/documentary about rehab ranches that help handicapped and/or troubled teenagers. I wanted to show a heroic, counselor-type cowboy who ran a non-profit converted dude ranch near Bandera, TX, the self-proclaimed “Cowboy Capital of the World.” I wanted to depict a heroine, who was not married to the son’s father and is an immigrant, and the struggles she has gone through, keeping custody and contact with her son, once he becomes older and is being mentally and emotionally manipulated by his father, who is super wealthy and has a lot of clout.

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 Counting Down to Christmas

Patti Sherry-Crews: I was inspired by the Christmas spirit: family, traditions, and giving all tied up together. Is there another holiday that evokes as much nostalgia as Christmas? I put all the sights, scents, and details I associate with the holiday in my story.

There is no one who embodied that spirit more than my Grandma Alma did. I drew my inspiration from her. I also named a character after her.

Early in December, we’d help her bring down all the boxes of ornaments. After the tree was set up and decorated (always a seven foot Douglas Fir) there were dozens of cookies to be made. Making and decorating cookies was an all-family affair, where we’d sit around her large kitchen table and work together, using cookie cutters and recipes that had been in the family for generations.

My grandparents belonged to a small church in their neighborhood. I have memories of walking into the side door and heading up the dark stairway to the community room at the top of the stairs for the holiday bazaar. I have my heroine, Melody, walk up those same stairs, and Alma is the first person she sees.

Grandma Alma lived to be 96. Family does change. It got harder to get everyone together as people started their own families and moved away, so we had to find different ways to celebrate the holidays. I remember in later years debating whether to get a tree for Grandma or not. Were we forcing a Christmas tree on her for our benefit or hers? Still, every year until she was gone, we got down all the decorations and set up a 7-foot tree for her.

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Amazon pre-order link for October 25th release of 99 cent collection

Guest promotion–One Red Shoe by Diane Burton

41126920 - driving on an empty asphalt road through the cultivated fields and single tree at idyllic sunny day.

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It Happened One Night meets Knight and Day

When elementary teacher Daria Mason left Iowa for a writers’ conference in New York City, she didn’t expect to come home with a wounded spy. Sam Jozwiak works for a shadow agency that gathers intel vital to U.S. security. From the moment he steals digital files from a Russian Mafia kingpin, Murphy’s Law takes over. No matter how he covers his tracks, the kingpin’s assassins find him. What’s worse than getting shot in the butt? Accepting help from an Iowa tourist. Thus, begins a road trip that takes Sam and Daria cross country with the assassins right behind them.

PRE-ORDER LINK for October 22, 2018 release (revision of previous title released by The Wild Rose Press)

EXCERPT

For the second time in her life, Daria Mason came face-to-face with a man pointing a weapon at her. A pervert, with unzipped jeans, wielded a green box knife. Because she’d raced into the restroom without checking out the situation, he now stood between her and the exit.

She was at the end of the proverbial rope. After walking in circles, she finally found a restroom and nobody was stopping her from using it. Especially not someone playing copycat with that guy in the movie who wore one red shoe.

“I am having a really bad day,” she declared in the don’t cross me voice she used on her brothers. As soon as her words echoed off the hideous pink and black tiled walls and floor, she lowered her voice. “You are in the wrong place, mister. Now zip up and get out.” She pointed straight-armed toward the door.

The man shook his head and set the flimsy knife on the counter. “Lady, you have more guts than sense. You are in the wrong place, at the wrong time.” His voice was even softer than hers. He eyed her with a look so dark and intense it paralyzed her like a hawk freezes its prey. She swallowed past the fear in her throat, certain it sounded like a gulp.

Diane Burton 2-for July 10

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides writing science fiction romance, she writes romantic suspense, and cozy mysteries. Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and five grandchildren.

For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website: http://www.dianeburton.com

 

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Sign up for Diane’s new release alert: http://eepurl.com/bdHtYf

Guest Release–By Reservation Only by Barbara Edwards

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New kitchen, new owner, new future–all rooted in three hundred years of history.

It’s the grand opening of The Deerbourne Inn! Award-winning Chef Nathan Harte has worked long and hard to restore this historic property in Willow Spring, Vermont. He’s ready to greet his guests with fine cuisine, comfortable rooms, and maybe even a ghost or two.

He’s escaping the rat-race of the city for a slower more rewarding life, but is he ready to deal with a broken arm, a quirky arsonist, and a long-ago mystery? And what might he find up in the 300-yr-old attics?

This  novella is the launch title in The Wild Rose Press’s latest multi-author series, Deerbourne Inn.

BUY LINKS

Amazon

The Wild Rose Press

EXCERPT

Since the inn was quiet, Emily pulled on a long t-shirt and opened the door. Her heart fluttered. She was disappointed Nate wasn’t waiting for her in the dark passage. She blew out a frustrated breath and opened one of the bedroom windows to let the fresh breeze blow in. A whip-poor-will called from the hill.

The comfortable bed beckoned her. Flowery potpourri scented the bedroom air. She lay on top of the handmade quilt and stared at the ceiling. Sleep eluded her. She lost count of the times she turned over, punched the pillow, yawned.

An owl hooted from the nearby woods. The call of the whip-poor-will sounded closer. The curtain flapped and the scent of smoke tainted the air. Her watch claimed it was only twelve thirty, not nearing dawn. She swore and rolled over again.

Someone knocked on Nate’s door and called his name. Emily pulled on her pants and sneakers before she opened her door.

“What’s happening?” Her pulse raced. Smoke, she smelled smoke.

BEdwards

I’m Barbara Edwards, a native New Englander, and a graduate of the University of Hartford with a Master’s degree in Public Administration. I write poetry for myself and novels when I need to tell a longer tale. I’m fascinated by the past so naturally turned to writing historical romance. The dark paranormal stories evolve from nightmares. The romance comes from my belief in people’s basic goodness and longing for love.

I lived in Florida for several years and am past president of the Central Florida Romance Writers and a member of Romance Writers of America.

When I returned to Connecticut, I founded the Charter Oak Romance Writers, a Chapter of Romance Writers of America, along with several close friends.

My husband is a retired Police Sergeant. We share an interest Civil War re-enacting and travel the Eastern states to participate in events. I love visiting museums, galleries and battle sites, gathering information for my stories.

I taught Romance Writing at Manchester Community college for three years.

I’m fond of gardening and growing antique roses with limited success.

Most of my exercise is when my Belgian Shepherd, Keeno, demands a walk.

Please follow, friend or like me. I love to hear from my readers.

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New Release–Chasing Adventure

 

 

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I’m thrilled to announce my next story in the “Entertainers of the West” series is now available. Set in the Montana Sky world established by Debra Holland’s award-winning books, Chasing Adventure takes place in the fall of 1887 in Sweetwater Springs and Morgan’s Crossing.

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Dime novelist, Thora Alviss, seeks out an ex-US Marshal, Harte Renwyck, for an interview, but he wants no more publicity about his past life. Determined to make her stories better, city-bred Thora rushes into exploring the frontier life. Thora’s thirst for a good story is stronger than her ability to get herself out of danger and Harte comes to the rescue time and again. Will she give up and return east, or will she learn the survival skills she’s been writing about?

Ex-US Marshal, Harte Renwyck, has left his past behind and looks for no more acclaim, but a pesky author wants to interview him about his former profession. While Harte can’t deny a growing respect for her efforts to make her stories stronger, he’s been wronged by the press in the past and fights to keep his distance. Can he look past his prior grudge and see the adventurous woman close at hand?

Free in KU and for purchase at AMAZON

EXCERPT

“No hotel?” Wide-eyed, she stumbled and grabbed for the rail. “How will I ever find him?”

At her words, Harte narrowed his gaze. She sought a man but hadn’t made arrangements for said man to meet her? Strange. The woman’s face paled, and Harte edged close, fearing she might faint. If ever a woman was out of her element, that person was Miss Alviss.

“I’ll help the lady, Jack.” Before thinking through the situation and realizing what he obliged himself to, he’d opened his mouth and made the offer. Why not? He had to walk in the same direction to return to the office and could carry a bag or two. A stroll through town with a pretty lady on his arm could prove a pleasant diversion. He thought back to the last time he’d walked out with a woman. A casual activity he hadn’t enjoyed in too many months to count. Or could even be years.

Miss Alviss flashed a smile, creasing a dimple at the left corner of her mouth. “What a truly chivalrous and gentlemanly offer, deputy. I do admit to being a bit travel weary and the assistance is much appreciated. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.” Giving a nod in his direction, she continued up the steps.

Lofty praise for lending a neighborly hand. When was the last time he’d had such pretty words aimed in his direction? Moving with the speed of Mercury, Harte vaulted the steps to the platform and rounded the corner of the depot office. A small mountain of luggage comprised of a portmanteau, two valises, two carpetbags, and a satchel squatted beside a wooden bench. His boots skidded to a stop. Looked like he’d be the one making multiple trips.

“Oh, dear.” She let out a sigh. “In New York City, the porter used a push cart, and the quantity of my bags didn’t pose such a problem.” She dashed forward and grabbed the satchel, lifting the long strap over her head so it rested on her opposite hip. Then she leaned over and reached for a carpetbag.

Knew she was from a really big city. Not wanting her to strain anything, Harte moved to her side. “I offered, although I didn’t know you had so many pieces. But I’ll manage. Somehow.” For a man accustomed to traveling light, he couldn’t imagine what she packed inside all these cases.

Cheeks blushing, she straightened and turned her head, her neck stiff. “Deputy, I am a healthy woman perfectly capable of assisting with the transport of my own belongings.”

“Duly noted, miss.” His words came out more clipped than he intended. Years of dealing with criminals had stolen his ability for idle talk. Setting his jaw, Harte hoisted the portmanteau to balance on his left shoulder then stooped to grab the handles of the matching carpetbags. “If you lift the valise, I can stretch my fingers around the handle.” Barely, but for his pride’s sake, he needed to make the offer.

Bending over, she lifted both valises. “I’ve got them. Now, if you’ll indicate the direction, we’ll be on our way.”

The corner of the leather case dug into his shoulder, and his right hand already ached from the weight. “Head toward the brick building down a ways on the opposite side of the street. The boardinghouse is past the mercantile.” He trudged down the steps, each move jolting his shoulder muscles. The lady’s rigid posture and swishing bustle informed him she still resented his thoughtless remark. Not exactly how he envisioned his morning walk through Sweetwater Springs. Chivalry, my backside.

Release Day for Love’s Target, a Montana Sky Kindle Worlds novella

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I’m pleased to announce the release of Love’s Target, my 7th story in the Montana Sky world created by Debra Holland.

Blurb:

When a casino owner demands her hand in marriage to cancel her father’s outstanding debt, Vanora Deverell and her father go on the run. No matter what Vanora does, she’ll never do it as well as her late brother, even though she’s stepped in as her father’s apprentice. Having to dress as a boy to enter shooting contest grates on her nerves, but her shooting skill is their best chance to get out of debt.

Rancher Trent Melbyrne strives for recognition as a horse breeder in his own right. In a Bozeman shooting contest, he’s chagrined when his accomplishments are bested by a boy…until he learns a secret about his opponent. By revealing the shooter’s secret, he sets off a string of events that lead to a showdown on his ranch in Morgan’s Crossing, Montana Territory. Can he atone for the danger he’s caused?

Only $1.99 on Amazon or free in Kindle Unlimited

Also new to the Montana Sky world are stories by three other authors.

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A May Bride by Kari Trumbo

Jasper’s Wish by Linda Hubalek

Why the Heart Loves by Judy Pennell

NEW Release–Tending Troubles, book 6 of Lockets & Lace series

Lockets & Lace is a multi-author series of sweet historical romance set from the 1850s to the 1910s. Each author, contributor to the Sweet Americana Sweethearts blog, wrote in a favorite time period and some tied their contribution to an existing series.

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TENDING TROUBLES is also book 7 in my Dorado, Texas series.

Traveling west to become a mail-order bride is the most adventurous act Bostonian Imogene Franklin ever did. Unfortunately, the groom chose another so she must tables in the Dorado café.

Guilt hangs heavy over Reggie Othmann, who thinks his childhood illness caused both his parents’ lives. His goal of becoming a doctor is met, but he’s unsure of his abilities with patients. When illness descends on the town, Reggie and Imogene tend the townspeople, but is their emotional tie born of the closeness of the ordeal or perhaps something more?

BUY LINK through the January 29th release day only 99cents (rising to regular price of $2.99 on Tuesday)

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Launch graphic

Also, join the fun at the Facebook event announcing the launch. Prizes include a book locket, a lace handkerchief and a $40 Amazon gift card.

https://www.facebook.com/events/191493228098735/

Facebook Party for Lockets and Lace series

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To celebrate the upcoming releases of this multi-author sweet historical series, a Facebook party hosted by five of the authors is being held Thursday, January 18th, from 4 to 6:30 CST. Stop by and chat with Zina Abbott, Sandra E. Sinclair, Angela Raines, Sophie Dawson and me for a chance to meet the authors, learn about their stories, and win prizes. My time slot is 4:30-5PM. A $20 Amazon gift card will be awarded in a random draw to a lucky attendee who leaves a comment.

To join this Facebook event, click here  https://www.facebook.com/events/1616879025098920

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My novel in the series is titled Tending Troubles (also book 7 in my “Dorado, Texas” series) and releases January 29th. Preorder price and through the day of release is 99 cents ($2.99 thereafter)

BLURB:  Newly graduated from medical college, earnest Reggie Othmann is headed back to his hometown to open a doctor’s office. After two weeks pass and not a single patient appears in to his office, he doubts his choice in professions. Then an unknown illness sweeps through the town, and he panics as he’s thrown back to the original disaster that sparks his wish to become a doctor.

Brash Bostonian Imogene Franklin traveled west to Dorado, thinking she’d found her mail-order match. A gross misunderstanding left her on her own for the first time and forced her into the only job she could find as a waitress. After raising her six siblings, she vowed never again to cater to someone else’s needs. But when the handsome doctor is overwhelmed by sick patients, she wrestles with breaking that vow.

Preorder link  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078SLPGHZ

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Also, for the month of January, Laced by Love, Book 1 in my Entertainers of the West series is on sale for 99 cents.  (free in KU) This Montana Sky Kindle World novel poses the question,

Will vaudeville performer Cinnia find the home she’s always wanted in the shop next door to a leather craftsman in tiny Morgan’s Crossing, Montana Territory?

BUY LINK

 

My Titles related to Halloween

My stories featuring bits and pieces of Halloween are varied. From most recently published to a bit more seasoned, they are:

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Wandering Home, Book 1 of “Dorado, Texas” series (a 19,000 word historical novella)

Widow Vevina Bernhard sees mysterious lights at night and believes her Texas ranch Shady Oaks is haunted. She needs protection for herself and her 4-year old son but the town’s sheriff offers no help. On hiatus from his Texas Ranger duties, Kell Hawksen hires on as a farrier at the ranch while keeping an eye out for clues to a stagecoach robber in hopes of collecting the bounty. On Samhain, fire erupts and Vevina and Kell battle both the danger and the depth of their feelings.

http://amzn.com/B0190RNROY

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Unlocked Treasure, a 15,000 word contemporary novella

Aleen MacRae blames the lure of the sea for breaking apart first her family then her engagement. When her interest is caught by a man she sees both in person and in a dream, she resists—afraid to believe in her aunt’s prediction that her future is tied to the sea.

Braden Williams is on the hunt for treasure buried centuries earlier by Rhode Island pirates. His search brings him to the property where Aleen lives. Collaboration on genealogy research draws them closer, and Braden steers her toward his true passion–sailing.

Attending a party with Braden’s family lets her glimpse what she’s been missing. An unexpected discovery before her date with Braden at the Halloween Midnight Organ Recital forces a decision. Will Aleen play things safe or accept what this free-spirited man offers?

http://amzn.com/B00O0EQ754

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Unlocked Treasure also appears verbatim in Hauntings In The Garden, Vol 2, a 4-author anthology of mixed genre Halloween-related stories.

http://amzn.com/B015AOHAD0

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Bewitching Gypsy (a 7,700 word historical story) in Spooktacular Seductions, an 8-author anthology

Fiona Mikolas is an outcast—branded by her fiery red hair and a purple birth mark—forced to live a solitary life, traveling a circuit of southern states in America and selling healing potions. Until the night of All Hallow’s Eve, when her lonely life is changed by the arrival of two strangers in her camp.

Beaten and robbed, rancher Hagan Fletcher tracks his stolen stallion and stumbles toward a campfire in south Texas. He awakens, suffering from amnesia and is intrigued by the mysterious beauty to look beneath the surface to who she really is.

http://amzn.com/B00OWJJ09C

Guest Release Promotion of The Mason’s Mark by M.S. Spencer

Thank you so much for having me at Musings about the Writing Life, Linda. Several of my romantic suspense/murder mystery books are set in Alexandria, Virginia, a colonial town on the Potomac River across from Washington, DC, where I lived for many years. The Mason’s Mark: Love and Death in the Tower, is one of those novels.

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Most of The Mason’s Mark, is set at the George Washington National Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia. The 330-foot-tall building has three sections—the ground level, the main floor, and the tower. The tower holds six progressively smaller rooms. The top level opens to an observation deck, from which visitors can see all of Alexandria and Washington, DC—or, if you’re my heroine, find a dead body.

The fourth floor contains a museum dedicated to George Washington. Washington served as the Charter (first) Master of the Alexandria lodge, and many of his letters and memorabilia are housed here, including the Washington family Bible. Since our heroine and hero meet in the museum, it follows that the Mason’s Mark would involve long-lost papers, distant family scandals, and academic intrigue concerning our first President. Delicious mystery and even more delicious romance ensue.

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In the worst first day at work ever, newly minted docent Claire Wilding’s carefully memorized spiel is interrupted by the discovery of a dead body. As she deals with a smitten police detective, a hunky Senator, shadowy black ops agents, and two eccentric mothers, she learns more than she ever expected to about jewels and pennies, renegade Italian Masons, and our first President’s family secrets. Along the way she discovers that first love is not always the right love.

BUY LINKS

The Wild Rose Press

iTunes

KOBO

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Bookstrand

EXCERPT

When they reached Prince Street, Gideon found a parking spot directly in front of her house, no small feat. Just one more way he’s special, thought Claire glumly. He walked her to her door. She unlocked it and turned to thank him, but he was already on his way to his car.

Ichabod greeted her with a snarl.

“I know. I forgot to feed you. Come on, Icky.” She found a can of cat food and emptied it into his bowl. Then she poured herself a large glass of water and took it to the living room to conduct an analysis of the soiree.

So at any point did I come across as even semi-coherent? She tried to hack through the warm, fuzzy blanket of the evening. Gideon had been the perfect gentleman, ordering foie gras and champagne, pointing out the constellations with obvious expertise, helping her in and out of the car. It all seemed so…unreal. Like he was acting a part. Too perfect. And he’d sucked her in like soda through a straw. She slapped her forehead, forgetting that she still held the glass. Water sluiced across her face and ran down her front. She mopped it up with some tissues and vowed to hit the antique stores that weekend. I’ve got to get a coffee table. Preferably one with cup holders.

The doorbell rang. With the disintegrating tissue pressed to her face, she stood on tiptoe to check the peephole and looked straight into an unblinking sea-green ocean. Gideon. After a minute she remembered to open the door.

He stared at her with concern. “Are you all right?”

Claire pulled the tissue away and noticed black streaks on it. Her mascara must have run. Oh no, I bet he thinks I’ve been crying. She rubbed her eyes, hoping that wasn’t making it worse. “Fine. I spilled a glass of water, that’s all.”

“Oh.” He stood, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. “Um, could I come in for a minute?”

She pointed at the living room and backed away, then turned and leapt up the steps. A quick look in the mirror confirmed her suspicions. I look like something Ichabod’s been playing with. She fixed her face, wrung out her blouse, and returned with renewed aplomb.

Gideon filled the small space. Claire sidled around him and sat on a packing crate. He looked around the room. “So…er, have you just moved in?”

“Yes.” It struck her that he was more uncomfortable than she and drew strength from that. “About a week ago. Sorry about the mess. Won’t you have a seat?”

He dropped down on the loveseat but immediately sprang back up. He patted his rear, flummoxed. “Why am I wet?”

Claire put a hand to her mouth to suppress the giggle. “Ooh, I’m sorry. I forgot. That’s where I spilled the water. Here, let me.”

She retrieved a towel from the kitchen and began to dab at the dark blotch on his khakis. He stood it for a minute, then put a hand under her chin and lifted her up. “You’d better stop doing that. This is hard enough for me.” He blinked. “Do you…do you know how beautiful you are?”

The question threw her. How to respond? Yes? No? Tell me more? She decided to let him talk.

“Your eyes are the color of the deepest part of the Caribbean Sea on a cloudless day. I could sink into them and drown.” He touched her brow. “And these little cinnabar ringlets framing that soft, creamy face…” He wrapped one around his finger. “Wind one up tight and it could strangle me.” He took her hand. “Your fingers—so slim and delicate, like little stilettos. Sharp enough to gouge an eye out.”

Claire stepped away from him, bewildered. “You make me sound like a vicious animal. Why?”

His hands dropped to his sides. “Because I sense how dangerous you are.”

“Dangerous?”

“To me. Claire…I—” He gazed at her helplessly.

Someone had better take charge.

M. S. Spencer Author (2)

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 and an adorable grandchild, 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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