Title: Mystery on Spirit Mountain (The MacKenzie Chronicles Book 2)
Author: Brenda Whiteside
Genre: Romantic Suspense
The past never sleeps.
The truth never dies.
Only Harlan MacKenzie can sense the troubled history of the Big Purple House. When he’s hired to restore the historical mansion, he doesn’t foresee the secrets—secrets that entangle his family in deceit and murder.
Phaedra is selling the house that has been in her family for decades. As her friends-to-lovers relationship with Harlan escalates, she puts her values on the line and chances losing him.
After a stranger comes to town, weaving her web of deception, hell-bent on correcting an old grievance connected to the house, dark revelations of the past implode the present. Harlan and Phaedra are thrown on a dangerous path, not only risking love but possibly their lives.
“Why all this sudden interest in the family tree?” Magpie asked.
“When I went to the Historical Society to do some research on the Big Purple House, the name Lambert came up.”
“Research? What kind of research?”
“I wanted to know more about the history of the house.” An engine raced on the street outside. Harlan gazed out the window. “To help me get a feel for the renovations.”
“Do you always do that?”
“Why now?” She cocked her head, inquisitive as ever. His sister always had a million questions about everything. The pesky bird whose name she bore fit her.
“It’s hard to explain.” He’d made a giant leap confessing to his dad about the clear feelings he absorbed from inanimate objects and houses. He’d never been able to confide in Magpie. Her self-assuredness battered his.
“I’m not real inspired.” And I’ll leave it at that. “Dad thought it would help if I knew more history on the house. I found out Lilac Hersey’s maiden name was Lambert.”
“Yeah, I thought so too. Dad might know something, but I wasn’t sure I should ask him about Mom’s relatives. Wanda volunteered to do some more digging for me. Said to check back with her.”
“She’s great with historical research. But ask Dad.”
“You think?” The bell on the door jangled, and he glanced over his shoulder to see Phaedra enter the shop.
“Hey, looks like the gang’s all here.” She strolled closer.
He took in a heady whiff of her rose oil. “You following me? Checking up on my progress?”
“You’re so suspicious.” She bumped him with her hip. “Actually, I did see your truck and decided to stop. Maybe I should start paying you by the hour.”
“Oh man. Another stab. You’re full of them.” He returned her bump, squatting to make it hip to hip. Her blue eyes twinkled like crystals. A strand of white hair hung along her cheek, threatening to stick to her glossy pink lips. He caught it with a finger, trailing his knuckle along her cheek. And he was lost in her gaze.
Until Magpie cleared her throat.
Phaedra blinked, and a noise somewhere between a gasp and a sigh parted her lips. “Oh, uh, Mags, I wanted to see if I could get the blue jacket for the store in Copperdale. I’ll replace it next week.” She sidestepped, then riffled through the rack of her clothes.
“Sure.” Magpie answered her friend, but her scrutiny, cocked brow, and half smile, addressed him.
With Phaedra’s back to them, he frowned and narrowed his eyes at his sister with a keep-your-questions-to-yourself expression. She hadn’t missed whatever just happened and smirked.
“I better get back to work.” Mags made him uncomfortable and the physical effect their friend had on him caused reactions he didn’t want his nosy sister to notice. “I’ll call you later, Phae, with a progress report.”
She whirled around, blue jacket in hand, clanking against the rack of clothes. “Oh. Okay. Or why don’t you come to dinner tonight? I’ve got two steaks in the freezer I need to cook. You could fill me in while you grill the steaks and I make salad.”
“Invite me to dinner and make me work for the meal?”
“Got to get some kind of work out of you.”
He smothered a laugh and feigned a frown. “It really isn’t wise to antagonize the contractor. But I’ll be there with a full report. I missed lunch, so how about an early dinner. Five-ish?”
On the sidewalk, he strode to his truck, feeling far more anticipation for the evening than a conference with a homeowner and old friend should bring. He breathed deep. A light scent of rose oil lingered in his head. The puffs of clouds on the northern horizon billowed higher in the late afternoon sun. He leaned against his truck fender. The sun-heated metal penetrated his jeans as he dug his cell out of a pocket and checked the time. After three. Not enough time to get anything done at the house. He called his crews for updates then slid onto the truck seat. A stop for a good bottle of cabernet he knew she’d like with steak and then a slow shower was all he could wrap his mind around right now anyway. A steak, a glass of wine, and an evening in The Ravine with an old friend who happened to be the sexiest lady in Joshua had his engine revved higher than his truck.
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What’s your favorite thing about the fall season:
Because I live in Central Arizona, saying goodbye to summer is a welcome relief. We see a few fall colors. I miss the vibrant fall colors of the Midwest. But even in Arizona, the foliage seems to take a breath as if they’re tired of the unrelenting heat also. Plus, I love the holidays of October, November, and December. Fall marks the fun to come.
What inspired you to write this story:
This is book two in The MacKenzie Chronicles. Joshua, Arizona is the setting and inspired by the real-life town of Jerome, Arizona, a turn of the century mining town, turned ghost town, turned hippie haven, turned tourist destination. Harlan MacKenzie is a construction company owner who uses more than talent when he renovates the old homes of Joshua. His understanding of the history and past lives of the people who lived in the houses is more of a sixth sense. I grew up in a construction family. My dad’s talents were so good, maybe he had a sixth sense too.
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Brenda Whiteside is the author of suspenseful, action-adventure stories with a touch of romance. Mostly. She and her husband are gypsies at heart having lived in six states and two countries. For now, they’ve settled in Central Arizona, but won’t discount the possibility of another move in their future. They share their home with a rescue dog named Amigo. While FDW is fishing, Brenda writes.
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