The Pit and the Passion: Murder at the Ghost Hotel
The Wild Rose Press, January 22, 2018 (Crimson Rose)
Mystery, Humorous/Romantic Comedy
At midnight, in the darkness of a deserted hotel, comes a scream and a splash. Eighty-five years later, workmen uncover a skeleton in an old elevator shaft. Who is it, and how did it get there? To find out, Charity Snow, ace reporter for the Longboat Key Planet, teams up with Rancor Bass, best-selling author. A college ring they find at the dig site may prove to be their best clue.
Although his arrogance nearly exceeds his talent, Charity soon discovers a warm heart beating under Rancor’s handsome exterior. While dealing with a drop-dead gorgeous editor who may or may not be a villain, a publisher with a dark secret, and an irascible forensic specialist, Charity and Rancor unearth an unexpected link to the most famous circus family in the world.
In light of the upcoming holiday, I thought a romantic Valentine’s Day excerpt would be in order.
Excerpt (G): The Frog Prince
As she trudged up the stairs, rain began to fall, sparking a chorus of cheeps from the tiny native treefrogs. It seemed to grow louder and louder. When she reached her door, she found out why. A huge green bullfrog sat in a small wooden cage on the mat. A tag attached to it said, “Kiss Me.” When she picked up the cage, a guttural voice croaked, “If you don’t kiss me, you won’t get your present.” She looked around but couldn’t see anyone. The voice came again. “Down here.”
The frog regarded her solemnly, its large eyes unblinking. She spoke to the air. “I am not going to kiss a frog.”
“Ah, but I’m a special frog. A prince of a frog. Kiss me.”
She had to admit she was tempted. “If I let you out, you’ll hop away.”
Why the hell am I talking to an amphibian?
“Then you’d better kiss me quick.”
She shrugged. The rain turned into a downpour, and she moved under the shelter of the overhang. With hesitant fingers, she opened the little door. The frog hopped out. Quick as a flash, she bent down and touched her lips to its back. Surprisingly, it was neither slimy nor wet. She resisted the urge to wipe her mouth. The frog croaked once but remained crouched on its haunches, gazing at her. She shook her head.
“No sense in asking. I’m only doing it once.”
“Wait for what?” “Wait for it…” There was a flash of purple smoke. When it cleared, the frog was gone, and Rancor sat on the step. “Your prince. As ordered.”
“How did you do that?”
“A magician never divulges his secrets.” He opened his palms to reveal a bouquet of gardenias. “For you. Will you be my valentine?”
She held the flowers and inhaled deeply. “They’re my favorite—how did you know?”
“I made inquiries. Jane is delightful by the way. Didn’t care much for Darryl.”
“Find out why he only sees her once a month, and she’ll be your slave for life.”
“That would make a refreshing change.”
“More than you deserve. Coming in?”
“Yes. I have to watch you change into something more suitable for Michael’s on East.”
“Rancor! I can’t afford that.”
“You don’t have to—I have secured a source of funding.”
“I don’t want to know.”
“No. You don’t.” He closed the door behind him. “Now, you haven’t answered my question.”
Busy with the flowers, Charity didn’t reply. He took the vase from her and set it down. Then he took her in his arms. “Will you be my valentine?”
About the Author:
Although M. S. Spencer has lived or traveled in five of the seven continents, the last thirty years were spent mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, policy wonk, non-profit director, and parent. After many years in academia, she worked for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Department of the Interior, in several library systems, both public and academic, and at the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
Ms. Spencer has published eleven romantic suspense novels, and has two more in utero. She has two fabulous grown children and an incredible granddaughter. She divides her time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.
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