Hump Day Hook

Happy Wednesday, cherished readers! Welcome to another edition of the Hump Day Hook, a weekly blog hop where authors share a tidbit from their works in progress or published novels. Today I thought I’d share a snippet from my upcoming novel, Midnight Skye, Haven’s Realm 6, which I hope to have ready for submission to SCP at the end of the month.

Author Skye Renault has been dreaming of two vampires ever since she fell in the well at D’Arc Estate. When her dreams end, she returns to the mansion seeking answers, and finds the home troubled by spirit or poltergeist invasion. After entertaining several psychic investigators and turning away several more, she settles down for a nap that is interrupted by an unexpected visitor.

Skye found it more than difficult not to stare bug-eyed and agape. After all, it isn’t every day a man you’ve dreamed of and fantasized about more than half your life appears on your doorstep. She called on all her years of practice to control the emotional turmoil his presence inspired. Deep inside, where she hoped he couldn’t see, she was on the verge of collapse. But the man who’d just introduced himself as Christian Lafontaine was in no way related to the one in her mind. He can’t possibly be. “I was awake,” she fibbed. “How can I help you?”

humpdayhook

Thank you for visiting. Please return to the Hump Day Hook hub for more great snippets, and have a wonderful day!

Tamara Monteau

Hump Day Hook – Giveaway!

Happy Wednesday, cherished readers, and welcome to another snippet for the Hump Day Hook, a weekly blog hop where authors share a tidbit from their works in progress or published novels. Today I’ll focus on Haven’s King. One lucky commenter to this article will win a free e-copy of the fourth Haven’s Realm installment.

WINNER SELECTED: Congratulations for this drawing goes to Kerrianne Coombes. I’ll be contacting her separately. Keep watch here for more Hump Day Hooks!

In the following snippet, police agent Mirissa Wellston is on an undercover mission to solve a chain of rapes happening at one of the local high schools. She’s riding with her suspect, hoping to discover how the girls are being returned home with no memory of the event.

HavensKing_SMHe placed the order and pulled to the window. A red-haired young man with pimples on his cheeks handed over the food with a knowing and anticipatory gleam in his eyes. The alarms in her head wailed painfully. “Here you go,” he said, handing over a kid-sized cup and some fries.

“Thanks.” She nibbled the fries nervously while they headed out of town toward Fulcrum. She suddenly didn’t want the Coke. Something told her the drug was in it. But Jason was right when he doubted her ability to ‘fake it’. She had no idea how the drug would make her behave. She swallowed down half the soda along with her reluctance, and silently finished her fries. The road in front of her blurred. A stab of anxiety hit her, robbing her of air, so she downed the rest of the drink to soothe the ache. It was the last thing she remembered.

humpdayhookThank you for visiting. Please return to the Hump Day Hook hub for more great snippets, and have a wonderful day!

Tamara Monteau

Hump Day Hook – Giveaway

Good morning, cherished readers, and welcome to the return of the Hump Day Hook, a weekly event where authors share snippets of their works or work in progress. Today I’m giving away a copy of Secrets & Promises, Haven’s Realm 5, to one lucky commenter.

WINNER SELECTED: Kathy Heare Watts, you’ve won my drawing. I will be contacting you to award your prize. Congratulations!

My husband insisted upon the following snippet, which is, admittedly, a little longer than the usual single paragraph, but is only 200 words, so I hope you’ll forgive me. In this teaser, Vincent brings to light one of the many secrets surrounding Jason and the Council of Elders.

Secrets&Promises_SMWithout another word, Vincent led her down the stairs and to the library doors. He paused and motioned to the ornate carvings rendered in the ancient oak. “Look upon these images displayed before the place the Council meets. These figures represent the foundation of an idea born of one man’s vision. Look at them, Chari. Give me their names, if you can.”

She studied the figures arranged within the rectangle that was the double-door entrance while memories of her college European tour kicked in. “This maiden, holding a book and a stalk of flowers. I recognize it from a Roman Catholic cathedral I once visited. Isn’t that Chastity, one of the Christian Virtues?”

“Yes. She represents those gifts in Rudy.”

His voice was low, reverent. A strange glow dimly lit his eyes. She turned to the next figure, an old man pouring liquid from a bottle into a cup. A heavy sensation built in her chest. “Temperance?”

“Trey.”

The next was a warrior with a kind face and soft eyes, his sword and shield strapped to his back and an olive branch in his hand. “I think this one’s patience.”

“Christian,” he offered softly.

Following the warrior in the circle stood another holding his sword in one hand and an hour glass in the other. “Um, diligence…?”

“Bastian.”

A strong female figure dressed in a full and flowing gown holding her arms to all the others in either giving or supplication. “And humility.”

“Antonia.”

An old man with lines of care on his face, offering drink to an obviously needy child. “Kindness.”

“Devon, and now Ronan.”

She hesitated at the sound of the one name that gave her the most shame. Vincent sketched a picture she wasn’t sure she liked. She studied the last one carefully, though she didn’t need to. Only one virtue remained, and one Council member. A man with a beautiful face shrouded in determination hid two women behind his shield and wielded a broadsword.

“Charity.” His voice sounded unusually cold. “Me.”

She turned to study him. He might as well have been another carving, for all the emotion he showed. “Why the virtues? I don’t understand. And where does Jason fit in?”

He pushed open the doors and waved her inside. “This you will now learn.”

humpdayhookThank you for visiting. Please return to the Hump Day Hook hub for more great snippets, and have a wonderful day!

Tamara Monteau

Arguing With Myself – The Power of Dialog

Carrying the story through dialog is the best way to write a novel. All authors, at least those who produce well-written stories, know this to be one of the most important elements in leading readers along. But I’ve discovered hidden power in surrendering to dialog while solving problems. I call it arguing with myself.

I’ve often maintained that my characters do all the writing, that I sometimes feel my role is one of secretary, taking notes and putting their thoughts in logical order. I write, basically, by the seat of my pants, allowing my muse, and my carefully constructed characters, to take the lead. Whenever I have a problem that research and contemplation fails to resolve, I turn it over to my characters, close my eyes, and let the solution run its course.

A good example lies in a conversation near the end of Midnight Skye, the book I’m currently putting the finishing touches on. In this book, I introduce a new line of characters – the Sen Aesir, an evil vampire offshoot from ancient times, and Adept, wizards who work with elemental magick. Interaction I wrote early in the book that has since been withdrawn for later use (for reasons I’ll explain after Midnight Skye is released) revealed the fact that vampires cannot drink from Adept. Since the problem resurfaced in a meeting near the end, I had to come up with a reason why.

And so, I asked the question of my knowledgeable King and Council through my confused heroine, when she learns the Community are holding two Adept prisoner.

“I don’t understand,” Summer argued boldly. “Why can’t you just take control of them?”

“We cannot drink Adept blood, and blood is what helps us secure our connection,” Lucien explained.

“You can’t…why not?”

“They’re marked as paranormal beings, though not immortal, and are followers of nature,” Jason answered. “Vampires exist outside nature, our very presence a violation of her most basic rules. Drinking that contrary power would render us nullified for a time, which would cause both our bodies and spirits great distress, as well as make the task of forcing a servant bond impossible. It would also leave us more vulnerable to intrusion and mortal injury.”

The solution was so simple I should have understood from the beginning. But when my vampire expressed his confusion over why he couldn’t drink from the young woman standing before him (again for reasons I can’t reveal right now), his confusion stuck with me. It took me asking, through my newest and least experienced member, to find the answer. And the answer came, believe it or not, just as I finished typing the question, as if Jason had been waiting for just the right moment to speak up. Surrendering myself to my characters and letting them argue it out has since become an easy habit.

This probably isn’t true of all writers. Then again, maybe more than a few have had similar experiences. Our imagined friends, whether they stick with us through a series or only inhabit one story, very often have minds of their own, insisting on paths we’d prefer not to take. There have been times when I was the reluctant follower, and when I placed my faith in my inner vision, these altered paths led to more important consequences than I ever could have imagined all at once.

After all has been said and done (and written down), isn’t it more interesting to read a story where the characters are involved and emotionally interactive, instead of page after page of dry explanation? My characters come to life in the minds of my readers. This is the power of dialog!

~Tamara Monteau

SCP Back List Blog Hop – Haven’s Realm

Winners selected! Congratulations to Kathy Heare Watts and “smilesomebodylovesyou”! I will be contacting you individually. Thank you all for your participation and interest in Haven’s Realm!

BacklistBlogHopI’m excited to be a part of Secret Cravings Publishing’s All Genre Back List Blog Hop! Two lucky commenters will receive their choice from the Haven’s Realm lineup in their choice of electronic formats, so please remember to leave me a way to contact you. When your through, don’t forget to return to the Blog Hop hub (http://secretcravingspublishing.blogspot.com/) and visit our other participating authors.

CoverBanner1Follow the romances of Haven’s Realm vampires as they face the end of centuries of peace. Will the hunters, ancient gods and rival clans wipe them out or will the Vampire Community prevail? Can love survive this deadly war?

Learn more! http://www.Havens-Realm.com

Now available for FREE!

TDBannerAdTwilight Destiny, Haven’s Realm 1

Print Cover FrontCatherine “Katie” Mills has only one focus in life – to complete her education and lift her family out of poverty. She leads a simple life, ruled by order and practicality, until a mysterious, Scottish stranger with extraordinary good looks and a gentle spirit disrupts her plans. When she learns the man she loves is a vampire, fear rises to challenge her heart.

Mistakes made in his early past drive Joshua MacAaron to lead a solitary existence, avoiding mortal relationships, unable to trust without fear of reprisal. When his soul entangles with Catherine’s, he’s forced to accept the bond he cannot break. He guides her gently into his realm, teaching her, preparing for the inevitable discovery of his peers.

When a hunter strikes the Community, Joshua is called away to aid in Haven’s defense. Alone and uncertain, Catherine faces the judgment of the Council of Elders. She struggles for bravery as Joshua instructed, but how can she possibly withhold her terror and defend her destiny in the presence of so many powerful vampires?

Get your free copy today from -
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Twilight-Destiny-Havens-Realm-Book-ebook/dp/B005FG2HGE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1405083079&sr=8-1&keywords=Tamara+Monteau
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/twilight-destiny-tamara-monteau/1014700869?ean=2940046036862

TDPBannerAdThe Darker Path, Haven’s Realm 2

The Darker Path cover1Ki’ara, heir to the throne of her planet, faces her coronation with a sense of doom. The safe, brightly lit path her ancestors tread had led to the diminishing of the Royal Family until only she remains. Unwilling to select from the suitors her father selected, she chooses to allow a strange, dark force to carry her to a far-away land called New England. There, she meets Colton Graves, a man more powerful and dangerous than she ever imagined, and she finds herself inexplicably drawn to the off-worlder. When she learns his true heritage, she becomes more determined to understand his self-hatred and anger. In her search for answers, she stumbles upon Haven’s Realm and becomes acquainted with the Community. But better understanding only brings greater uncertainty, for how can she turn her back on the needs of her people for the sake of one troubled vampire?

Turned against his will by the same creature who murdered his brother, Colton is a man of hatred and anger, all of it turned inward. Unable to control or separate his passions, he leads a secluded existence, feeding only when driven, remorseful of each ended life. On the night he commands his servant to end his existence for good and all, an unusual storm appears, bursting into his sitting room with ethereal power, and leaving behind a most unusual golden-haired beauty. With the first touch, he knows he can never let her go, though he knows where it will lead. Fearing for her life, he determines to keep himself from drawing too near, but what is this irresistible force that drives them, time and again, into each others arms?

New lower price – only $2.99!
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Darker-Path-Havens-Realm-Book-ebook/dp/B005V55KCM/ref=sr_1_4_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1405083079&sr=8-4&keywords=Tamara+Monteau
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-darker-path-tamara-monteau/1017237514?ean=2940013268593&itm=1&usri=tamara+monteau

DLBannerAdDragon Lord, Haven’s Realm 3

Dragon Lord Cover_SMAs Homeland Security Agent Tyler Jenkins infiltrates Courleon’s Consortium in Nevada to retrieve stolen government data, she literally bumps into Ronan, and her life takes an abrupt and frightening turn. The epitome of movie-style international spy types everywhere, the man takes way too much humor in what could be a deadly situation. When they’re taken captive by Courleon’s men, she learns her cell mate is a vampire—and worse, a very hungry one. Tortured for knowledge her captors can’t know she doesn’t possess, her only hope is to surrender her fate into the hands of her irritating companion. After all, she always does what is most prudent and necessary to get the job done.

When Ronan agrees to keep an eye on his HSA contact’s agent while he investigates the disappearance of vampire servants, he doesn’t count on her being a woman, and worse—the most intriguing creature he’d laid eyes on for thousands of years. If he isn’t careful, he could fall in love with her, and risk releasing the dark power he’s held at bay since practically the beginning of time. While doing his best to discourage the feelings growing between them, he helps her escape, and together they seek help from the one group he’d avoided the most, the vampires of the Community. Time and again, he’s forced to save her life, and each event is more desperate than the last, while the beast he holds stirs in anxious delight.

New lower price – only $2.99!
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Lord-Havens-Realm-Book-ebook/dp/B006C7LFAO/ref=sr_1_6_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1405083079&sr=8-6&keywords=Tamara+Monteau
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dragon-lord-tamara-monteau/1100372543?ean=2940013505193&itm=1&usri=tamara+monteau

HKBannerAdHaven’s King, Haven’s Realm 4

HavensKing_SMMirissa Wellston wants to make a difference in a world filled with predators. When the state chooses Carrington for a pilot special victims program, she and her partner, Max, sign up. But on her first under cover assignment, a presuming man steps in to protect her, spoiling what might be an important bust. When he shows up at the precinct a week later, introducing himself as Dr. Jason Thessalydis, an expert in criminal behavior, her instincts, and alarms, kick into high gear. Only her partner understands her unsettling feeling that Jason is there for her.

The moment Cupid’s arrow strikes, Jason recognizes the golden sting. After all, he’s felt it several times in the last three eons. But when his interest in the young police officer attracts the attention of ancient and powerful enemies, he places Carrington, and all of Haven’s Realm, in extreme danger. As the situation degrades and the cost rises, he realizes that this time it will take more than a Golden Fleece to set things right.

Purchase your copy today, now only $3.99!
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Havens-King-Realm-Book-ebook/dp/B0070XG6JO/ref=sr_1_5_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1405083079&sr=8-5&keywords=Tamara+Monteau
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/havens-king-tamara-monteau/1107918239?ean=2940013698543&itm=1&usri=tamara+monteau

Thank you all for visiting today, and don’t forget to comment for your chance to win, and return to the SCP blogspot for more articles and prizes!

~Tamara Monteau

Forever Kind of Cowboy Release Day Party!

ForeverKindOfCowboy

Come join Sandy Lee Sullivan and several other authors to celebrate the release of her new book, Forever Kind of Cowboy, on Saturday, June 28, 2014! Register for your chance to win a $50 gift card, and watch for author giveaways! I’ll be giving away a copy of Secrets & Promises, Haven’s Realm 5 during my hour on stage. The author schedule for this event, in Central Daylight Time, is…

9a-10a – Manda Jane Ward
10a-11a – Tricia Andersen
11a-12n – Becky McGraw
12n-1p – Jean Joachim
1p-2p – Tamara Faye Rudkin Monteau
2p-3p – Molly Daniels
3p-4p – Sidda Lee Rain
4p-5p – Kathleen Tighe Ball
5p-6p – Donna Michaels
6p-7p – Morgan Wyatt
7p-8p – Sylvia McDaniel
8p-9p – Laurie White

We’re looking forward to having a great time. See you there!

Tamara Monteau

 

 

May Release Event Party – May 31, 2014

10390089_828443833852300_5697606018744777209_nDrop by the May Release Event Party (https://www.facebook.com/events/1470854413151440/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming&source=1) on Facebook May 31st, chat with SCP Authors, and enter for chances to win prizes! I will be available for chat from 1:00pm to 1:30pm, and giving away four copies of the new box set, Paranormal Cravings, and one e-copy of my latest release, Secrets & Promises, Haven’s Realm 5. I look forward to seeing you there!

~Tamara Monteau

NEW! Paranormal Cravings Box Set

Secret Cravings Publishing has just released their first Paranormal Cravings Box set. The price? Only $.99! That’s right, for under a dollar you can own four complete novels – a sampling of some of the best paranormal romance offered by SCP.

ParanormalCravings adBorn to be Wild – Cynthia Arsuaga

e548bc19542b6deab564fe251a1d4d54.image.250x400Alexandra Carlton, Alex to her friends, the only girl born into a family of vampire hunters with strict rules. She lives and hunts by the Code. Despite insecurities and self-esteem issues about her appearance, she eagerly tracks a rogue vamp carrying a contagious virus, deadly to vampires and humans alike, to prove her worth, to her family and herself.

Alex meets Stefan Marin, a brooding 500 year old vampire. He helps her not only on her quest but tames her wildest passions and discovers the true beauty within her, the beauty he can’t help but fall in love with.

Together, Alex and Stefan break all the rules uncovering more than a virus—hot sex, an uptight FBI Special Agent, spanking, hot sex, a nosy, meddling brother, more hot sex, bondage and submission, murder, and bad vampires.Will their love survive the wild side they were born to live?

Lustful Cravings, The Seven Sin Sisters – Paloma Beck

a6ec759fa09114462d252883cf5a2950.image.266x400Seven sisters are entwined in a legacy bigger than anyone ever expected. One by one, they will find their mates from the immortal Valendite breeds and secure their place in history. Each sister embodies one of the seven deadly sins only to be cast aside once claimed. But claiming comes at the price of separation, causing a weakening of their combined powers, which none want to happen… until Layla, holding the sin of lust within her body, locks eyes with Madden.

Madden is one of the strongest of the Valendite Breed, a group of near-immortal men originating from the Italian Wars in the 1500s. Today, the Valendite Breed serve as the Terrorist Elimination Unit (TEU), their only weakness being their body’s need for a mate to carry on the Breed.  So now that Madden has found Layla, he will never let her go.

With forces mounting up against the Breed, Madden and Layla will need to rely on their powers combined to get them to their Pronouncement.

Twilight Destiny, Haven’s Realm 1 – Tamara Monteau

Print Cover FrontCatherine “Katie” Mills has only one focus in life – to complete her education so she can lift her family out of poverty. She leads a simple life, ruled by order and practicality, until a mysterious, Scottish stranger with extraordinary good looks and a gentle spirit disrupts her plans. When she learns the man she loves is a vampire, fear rises to challenge her heart.

 

Mistakes made in his early past drive Joshua MacAaron to lead a solitary existence, avoiding mortal relationships, unable to trust without fear of reprisal. When his soul entangles with Catherine’s, he’s forced to accept the bond he cannot break. He guides her gently into his realm, teaching her, preparing for the inevitable discovery of his peers.

 

When a hunter strikes the Community, Joshua is called away to aid in Haven’s defense. Alone and uncertain, Catherine faces the judgment of the Council of Elders. She struggles for bravery as Joshua instructed, but how can she possibly withhold her terror and defend her destiny in the presence of so many powerful vampires?

Witch’s Brew, Winslow Witches of Salem – Tabitha Shay

0e54fc5d4edaedd30f52e400936482d1.image.266x400Saylym Winslow but is determined to ignore her awakening magical powers. She can’t be a witch; magic brings nothing but trouble. But when Prince Talon, assassin of witches is assigned to terminate her by stealing her soul, she discovers being a real, spell-casting witch is only the beginning of her problems. Talon is enchanted by Saylym’s beauty and charm and refuses to do his duty. He is given a choice by the powerful Waken Guild: Handfast with the trouble making witch to keep her in line or they will send Drayke, the most ruthless waken assassin, to hunt her down. 

Buy your copy today and enjoy this journey into dark and forbidden love!

Amazon  ~|~  Barnes & Noble

~Tamara Monteau

Reinventing the Vampire Genre – Sunlight and Silver

What’s it like to be a vampire? It all depends, I suppose, on the kind of vampire you’re looking at, and who developed his culture. After exploring a variety of opinions, myths and so forth, I considered each element and pondered its logic. There’s so much to consider, I’m afraid, that I’ll have to break it down into segments and call upon my friends for their help. Today I’ll ponder the effects of sunlight and silver, and correct a misconception concerning the properties of light.

Sunlight is the most common enemy of the vampire. Stars radiate a vast number of elements – radiation, heat, light. It is the UVA and UVB rays that cause human skin to burn and will, over time and exposure, lead to deeper damage. Therefore, it must be this radiation that more strongly affects the more vulnerable vampire. Like open flame, the sun causes severe and instant burning. As Joshua explained in Twilight Destiny

Print Cover Front“Although I must avoid contact with the sun, I do not have to sleep when the sun rises. Most of us prefer to, because the nighttime suits us and it is more convenient. Older vampires are said to have the ability to resist the powers of the sun for short periods…

“Even momentary exposure to the sun causes severe burns. I’m extremely susceptible to the heat and radiation. Within minutes, I can become burned beyond the ability to protect myself. ‘Tis, as I understand it, a very painful death, lingering in the soul long after the body ceases to exist.”

In fact, Jason, being the oldest vampire in the Community, at least at the beginning of Haven’s Realm, can tolerate moderate sunlight exposure, as he reminded Mirissa in Haven’s King

HavensKing_SM“You’ve only seen me in the early hours of morning. You noticed how I kept to the shadows inside Gale’s home. The older I become, the more sunlight I can tolerate.”

As I understand it, Bram Stoker agreed with this age v. tolerance issue, and I recall Mick St. John in Moonlight getting by with shadows and shields to avoid burns, although in one episode he was debilitated through prolonged exposure and needed an ice bath, and some blood, to recover.

Since we’re also talking about the element of light here, I’ll also address in this segment the problem of mirrors and cameras. I suppose it all springs from the core problem regarding the use of sliver. Since silver is supposed to be poisonous to vampires, it is probably assumed the element would resist all things vampire. Well, that’s just plain silly, isn’t it? I mean, how can silver possess the cognitive awareness necessary to recognize and reject the light bouncing off a vampire? My apologies and respects to those who’ve written before me, but I just can’t see it. What I can see, or could if he were present, is the light reflecting off the solid being that would be a vampire. If I can see this light directly, it only follows I’d see it bouncing off of any reflective surface, mirrors included. Since film, and now digital cameras, record only light wavelengths, well, there you go.

So what about silver? It’s a natural element, used as a catalyst for chemical reactions and in electrical contacts and conductors. It also has antimicrobial and disinfectant applications, which makes me wonder at the biology of the vampire. This fact does contain the possibility of chemical reaction to the negative elements present in a paranormal body. In Moonlight, silver bullets were used to incapacitate a vampire, while in Vampire Diaries, wooden bullets do the same trick. Since silver is more commonly associated with werewolves, probably because of their bondage to the moon and the cultural connection between the metal and our satellite, I decided to exclude this magic from my work.

Here, Cherished Readers, I’ll rest and allow you time to ponder. In my next article, I’ll take a closer look at vampire abilities and address the myth surrounding religious symbolism. Have a great weekend!

~Tamara Monteau

M. S. Spencer Visits Haven’s Realm

Good morning, cherished readers! Today I have the honor of hosting M. S. Spencer, who is here to share with us her new book, The Mason’s Mark.

* * * * *

TheMasonsMark_MEDMost of my new novel The Mason’s Mark is set at the George Washington National Masonic Memorial, in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. Three hundred and thirty-three feet tall, it sits atop Shuter’s Hill overlooking the colonial city of Alexandria. The building has three sections—the ground level, the main floor, and the tower. The tower holds six progressively smaller rooms, each of which has a special theme. The fourth floor contains a museum of artifacts and documents related to George Washington, the Charter Master of the first Alexandria lodge. And since our heroine and hero meet there, it follows that the story would involve long lost papers, distant family scandals, and academic intrigue concerning our first President.

Here’s the story:

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 falls apart when she discovers a dead body. Together with Detective Ernest Angle, she’s drawn into a dark world of black ops and Italian renegade masons. Also cloaked in mystery is her new love Gideon Bliss.  A George Washington expert, he 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 Ernest, Claire must find answers to a complex web of intrigue, including which black ops agent to trust,  whether our first president strayed, and if she and Gideon will ever be together.

The Mason’s Mark: Love and Death in the Tower (an Old Town Romance)

Secret Cravings Publishing (released January 7, 2014)

eBook (79,000 words), Romantic suspense, M/F, 3 flames

Buy Link: http://store.secretcravingspublishing.com/index.php?main_page=book_info&cPath=4&products_id=800

Amazon: Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Masons-Mark-Love-Death-Tower-ebook/dp/B00HUCFYH0/

Excerpt (PG) Dorcas Enters the Picture

Gideon finished his scotch and savagely ripped a piece of bread in half, scattering bits all over the table. Before he could answer, a disembodied voice spoke from the shadows. “Steak and kidney pie?”

The waiter hovered, balancing large crockery plates in each hand. As he bent down, the fire lit his face with a devilish glow.

“Here, thanks, and I’ll take a pint of Guinness. Claire? Another drink?”

Claire considered her order, a rather wilted Caesar salad. O’Connells apparently didn’t approve of vegetables that weren’t boiled to death. Or any dish that didn’t include potatoes. “A glass of the South African dry Riesling, please.”

At least the ambience fit their mood. They sat at a high oak table by an unnecessary fire, overshadowed by pendent dark wood choir stalls stolen from an Irish monastery and next to a heavily varnished organ façade stolen from an Irish church. A tea light made a heroic effort to pierce the obscurity. It all served to heighten the sense of approaching doom.

“You were saying?” she prompted.

“Why is Dorcas here? Simple. She wants to make my life miserable. According to Mother, the man she left me for dumped her unceremoniously. I imagine her plan is to take it out on me.”

“Was the man with her in Paris?”

“Yes, but Dorcas told Mother he went back to Argentina. That’s where she originally met him. When she arrived here she learned that he left Buenos Aires for the States a month ago and is somewhere in the District. She claims if she finds him she’ll give me my freedom.”

“That sounds promising.”

“Not if he doesn’t want to be found. This could go on forever.” He touched her hand. “I hate putting you through this.”

“Me?” Claire ignored the throbbing of a quickened pulse and did her best to assume an indifferent air. “What does it have to do with me?”

His emerald eyes bored into her blue ones. “I shouldn’t have to spell it out, should I?”

Claire blinked and took a large swallow of wine, coughing only some of it up. “I told you—I have renounced disporting with both jailbirds and married men.”

“Disport? Will you gambol with me then? Cavort?”

“The answer to any synonym you come up with is still no.”

The waiter skipped up and set a second Guinness down before Gideon with a flourish. “Compliments of the lady.” He gestured toward the long mahogany bar, sparkling with polished brass and crystal glasses.

Gideon followed the waiter’s pointing finger, and Claire followed his gaze. A woman sat alone facing away from them. She wore a burgundy Donna Karan suit and three-inch stiletto heels. The matching broad-brimmed hat hid her hair and most of her face. Claire checked the mirror behind the bar and dropped her fork when she saw what she would later describe to her sister as Audrey Hepburn’s doppelganger. A few tendrils of glistening black hair curled out from under the hat. High, aristocratic cheekbones flanked a flawlessly proportioned nose over ruby-kissed lips. The woman swiveled on her stool to face them and Claire nearly fell off her own. Dorcas—for it could only be Dorcas—would indeed easily pass as the twin of the late exquisite actress. Her huge, liquid, brown eyes locked on Claire.

If Gideon hadn’t stood up and stepped between them, Claire wouldn’t have been able to break the spell. She slumped, breathing heavily. “I feel like a trapped mouse.”

“Dorcas does that to people.” Gideon tossed the words over his shoulder. After a tense minute’s staring match he swung around to Claire. “Come on, let’s go.” She didn’t argue. He dropped some bills on the table and stalked after her.

She had reached the door when she realized Gideon was no longer behind her. She turned to see him nose to nose with Dorcas, their lips moving rapidly, showing off very white teeth. Claire could have sworn Dorcas’s canines were unusually long and sharp. She waited.

A minute later Gideon swept past her out the door. He didn’t speak as he drove Claire home, unless one counts foam bubbling from his mouth and an occasional snort. He left her at the door. She trudged up the steps. As she fit the key in the lock, she heard ringing. That’s the landline. Who would use that? She ran in and picked up the receiver. “Hello?”

“Claire? This is Ernest. I have news.”

****

Biography

M.S.Spencer Author 200x300Although 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 eight romantic suspense/mystery novels. In an excess of optimism, she has recently heaved the entire ho to Florida with a detour to Maine, leaving behind the cherry blossoms, the monuments, and the political hacks.

CONTACTS:

Blog: http://msspencertalespinner.blogspot.com

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

Facebook: www.facebook.com/M.S.SpencerAuthor

AUTHOR PAGES:

Secret Cravings Publishing: http://store.secretcravingspublishing.com/index.php?main_page=products_all&filter_author=56

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

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/msspencer