In celebration of our first-year anniversary of N. N. Light’s Book Heaven, we invited the first author who appeared on our website to return for an author spotlight. We’ve known M. S. Spencer and her books for years and with each one she publishes, we love her even more. So, please give a warm welcome to M. S. Spencer. Take it away:
I’ve lived or traveled in five continents, and spent way too many years at way too many academic institutions. I’ve worked as a librarian, Congressional assistant, speechwriter, and non-profit director. I have two fabulous grown children and a perfect granddaughter, and currently divide my time between the Gulf coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.
I have published twelve murder mystery or romantic suspense novels. They are all stand-alone stories and all have a little bit of my experiences embedded in them. The settings are close to my heart.
Many of my stories are set in Florida, where I live most of the year:
The Pit and the Passion: Murder at the Ghost Hotel: A drop-dead gorgeous editor who may or may not be a villain, a publisher with a dark secret, and a mysterious ring help a famous writer & ace reporter unearth an unexpected link to the most famous circus family in the world.
Whirlwind Romance: Pirates, Puritans, propaganda, and princes—pieces of the puzzle in the whirlwind romance between a beautiful jelly maker and a mysterious castaway.
Flotsam and Jetsam: the Amelia Island Affair: Who is responsible for the three corpses found on the sand on Amelia Island? Two State Park rangers look for answers and find both romance and murder.
Mai Tais and Mayhem: Murder at Mote Marine is set on the Florida Gulf coast and follows the adventures of Tessa Diamond as she deals with new love, old love, murder, sea turtles, smugglers, and the Russian mob, not necessarily in that order.
Some are set in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, where I spent some of my youth, and much of my adulthood:
In Artful Dodging: The Torpedo Factory Murders, Milo Everhart, artist, meets her match in lawyer Tristram Brodie on the battleground of the old munitions factory turned art center called the Torpedo Factory.
The Mason's Mark: Love and Death in the Tower, is a tale of renegade Masons and black ops, long-lost papers of George Washington, and smack dab in the middle a grand love story.
In Triptych three women, three men, three spirits guard a dangerous river. It is a tale of lost artworks, jealousy, sex, larceny and genius set high above the mighty Potomac.
And in my latest release, For the Love of a Spy: the Scrivener and the Handyman, Maris Graystone writes the Scrivener, a political column, and Michael Kinder is a handyman with a secret. They meet on a hot day in Washington DC in 1991, an era electric with possibility and peril. Empires are falling, peace is being negotiated, and their love affair is caught up in the whirlwind of events.
Living in DC, we escaped at least twice a year to Chincoteague, a fantastic wildlife refuge on the eastern bird migration route, with an equally fantastic beach, and the best oysters in the world.
Dear Philomena: Love and Lust on Chincoteague Island is a tale of love, lust and treachery set on the island of Chincoteague.
Some are set in Maine, which I loved from the second I set foot in it. Even though I spend three-quarters of the year in Florida, this is home.
In A Widow’s Walk: Catherine’s Dilemma, we follow a desperate wife searching the wilds of Maine for the husband who disappeared.
The Penhallow Train Incident is set in the fictional town of Penhallow halfway up the coast. A corpse on a train, hidden treasure, and the search for the Queen of Sheba’s tomb make for romance and adventure on Penobscot Bay.
Finally, many of my adventures are embedded in some stories, which I love to share with readers—only as fiction!
The most autobiographical of my books is Lapses of Memory. Sydney Bellek first meets Elian Davies in the 1950s on a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser when she is five and he is seven. They run into each other every few years after that, but while he knows from the start that she is his true love, she does not. Later, as rival journalists, they vie for scoops on international crises from the Iranian revolution to the Lebanese civil war. The handsome and intrepid Elian beats her out at every turn, even while keeping his love for her secret.
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Title: The Pit and the Passion: Murder at the Ghost Hotel
Author: M. S. Spencer
Genre: Mystery, Humorous/Romantic Comedy
SubGenre(s): Contemporary, Suspense
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
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.
He scratched his neck. “You are no fun at all.”
She smiled with satisfaction. “Good.”
“Because you see, while you with such easy indifference relegate Tommy T to a mundane accident and the benighted Biddlesworth to a watery grave, you haven’t answered the question of my grandfather’s disappearance.”
“Am I supposed to?”
He stopped. An uncertain look passed over his face, catching Charity off guard. “I…I thought we were in this together?”
A feeling she couldn’t name rushed through her, one that filled every pore with a heavy sort of heat. It weighed her down, made her sluggish. Time slowed. She watched with vague interest as her knees buckled, and the floor rushed toward her. Just before she smacked into it, two strong arms caught her, lifted her up, and held her in a crushing grip. “Charity? Are you all right?”
“Yes. Yes. Oh, Rancor.” After that she couldn’t talk because her lips were smashed against his and her chest against his and she couldn’t breathe at all but she didn’t really need to because he was breathing for the both of them.
A while later, they sat down on the couch. Rancor traced her cheek with his finger, his eyes wondering. Charity felt at peace. She had recognized the hot, heavy feeling and accepted it. Now to explain it to Rancor.
The phone rang.
Title: The Mason’s Mark: Love and Death in the Tower
Author: M. S. Spencer
Genre: Mystery, Cozy Mystery, Romantic Suspense
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
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.
“Gideon, I…I think you should clear this matter up before we see each other again.”
The phone went dead. Hmm, he took that surprisingly well. She resisted the urge to cry and went into the kitchen. When she came out carrying a glass filled with ice and a bottle of vodka, she found Gideon sitting on the packing crate. His eyebrows bristled. Claire didn’t think she’d ever seen eyebrows actually bristle. It made him look like an angry centipede.
“Claire, you can’t dump me over the phone. I forbid it.”
She poured a large tot into her glass. “I see.”
He stood and paced, not an easy thing to do in a room the size of a refrigerator box. Watching him, it occurred to Claire that she should decorate her house in the Shaker style—have all the furniture hang on pegs, up and out of the way of large trampling feet. She forced herself to focus on the words spilling out of the side of his mouth. “I never hid my predicament from you. It’s unfair to let me fall head over heels for you and then suddenly go all ethical on me.” He stopped and peered down at her. His face drooped. “Claire, I need you to help me through this.”
Author: M. S. Spencer
Genre: Romantic Suspense; Action/Adventure
Publisher: I Heart Book Publishing
Take lost masterpieces, brilliant inventors, and stolen prototypes. Add the Three Sisters, Indian spirits who guard the Potomac River. Stir in three sisters and their lovers. Result? Jealousy, sex, genius, larceny and love. Who will end up with whom, and will the Three Sisters take another life as the legend demands?
Miranda heard the pounding of excited feet on the stairs. She checked her hair and dress and prepared herself not merely to meet the Chevalier du Bon Arnaque, but to dislike him intensely.
She called to Honor and stepped sedately down the long formal staircase to the central hall where Sybil was taking the coat of a very tall, black-haired gentleman. As she stood on the last step, he turned and glanced up at her. A long pause ensued. Did my heart just stop beating? The house, the hall, Sybil, everything but the man faded into the background. She examined his face minutely, as though she had all the time in the world. Ringlets of thick, glossy black hair twined over his forehead, the light catching highlights of silver at the temples and deep in his ebony eyes. Tanned skin stretched tight over his high cheekbones, reminding her of the portrait of a Highland chieftain that hung in her study. She could just make out a tiny upturn at the end of his nose that lent a fanciful air to his appearance. Perhaps not a clan chief but an elvish prince?
Although M. S. Spencer has traveled in five continents, she spent the last thirty years in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional assistant, speechwriter, and non-profit director. She has two grown children and a perfect granddaughter. Ms. Spencer has published twelve mystery/romantic suspense novels, and currently divides her time between Florida and Maine.
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