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The Wishing Tree: Love, Lies, and Spies on Chincoteague Island by M.S. Spencer is a Best Books '23 pick #regency #mystery #romanticsuspense #bestbooks #giveaway


The Wishing Tree: Love, Lies, and Spies on Chincoteague Island



M. S. Spencer



Mystery/Romantic suspense


Book Blurb:


Will the wind whip her token from the Wishing Tree and make her wish come true?


Addison Steele dreams of the day her husband—lost at sea—returns to her. Instead, she meets Nick Savage, whose every word may be a lie. She is soon embroiled in mystery, all related to the top secret science station at Wallops Island, Virginia.


After a Belarusian scientist at Wallops is murdered, the questions multiply. Was it because he caught the person stealing classified documents or because he wanted to defect? Is Nick the spy—or is it his brother? How can she trust the man who is slowly claiming her heart when his story keeps shifting?






Addison circled the oak. Sure enough, the small strip of canvas still fluttered in the cold wind. She touched it, then drew her hand back and walked down to the water. Her eyes danced with the waves, searching, imagining what it would feel like to see Seth’s head pop up and watch his long arms battling the current to get to the shore. And to her.


“Surely Hurricane Thomas would have taken it.”


She jumped and whirled around. A man leaned against the wind-washed trunk. He was tall and thin, his hair a glossy espresso, his eyes the inky blue of a stormy ocean. He reminded her of the portrait of her great-great-grandfather which hung in her family’s Chincoteague house. “Taken what?”


“Whatever you left on the tree.” He peered at her. “Isn’t that what you wished for? To have your token carried off by the wind? Or is my guidebook wrong?”


She shook her head slowly. “No, it’s not wrong. I mean, the legend of the wishing tree says that if your offering blows away, you will find your true love. Or…he’ll come back to you.” She thought of little Starlyn. “Some folks think it just means your greatest wish will be granted.”


He took a step toward her. In the waning light, his eyes took on an even darker hue. His mobile face showed distress. “Which one are you hoping for: a new love…or that your lover will return to you?”


“What? No. I mean…Yes…I—”


He waited, his lean body bent slightly forward, his eyes attentive. She found herself wanting to tell him everything—about the boat and Seth and the accident. She opened her mouth, but he spoke before she could get a word out.


“Forgive me. I’m being impertinent. You just looked so lost that I had to try to cheer you up, and suddenly that seemed stupid and then it got all awkward and here I am apologizing before I’ve even asked your name.”


Addison shot a quick glance to see if he were laughing at her, but his expression was unreadable. Embarrassed? Indifferent? “It’s all right. You just startled me. I’m Addison Steele.” She removed a mitten and stuck out her hand. He took it in a very large one of his own. She could feel the calluses on his palm. A carpenter? Maybe a sailor?


“Nick. Nick Savage.”


“Nick?” Oh dear. Maybe the resemblance to great-great-grandfather Nicholas isn’t so far-fetched. “Is it…is it short for Nicholas?”


His face twisted with chagrin. “No. My given name is Nicodemus.”


Whew. Nicholas was a name that had been saddled on at least one Steele boy in every generation. According to the family narrative, it was meant to serve as a cautionary reminder of an ancestor’s scandalous fling with a Greek sea captain. Her mother, on the other hand, insisted that everybody just liked the name, and once it was established in the family tree it became a tradition. Addison preferred the more romantic version.


She took stock of Nick’s chiseled features. With his coppery skin, straight nose, and wavy hair—not to mention those striking blue eyes—he could certainly pass as Alexander the Great’s brother. A thought came unbidden to her mind. Since his name isn’t Nicholas, at least I don’t have to worry about any kinship issues. She gulped. Addison! How could you? I’m ashamed of you. “Um, so…Nicodemus. Is it a family name?”


“No. My father was a populist.”




Nick chuckled. “ ‘Nico’ means ‘victory’ and ‘demos’ means ‘of the people.’ ”


Now Addison was totally confused. “I’m sorry?”


“Oops, my bad. That was a pun, and a poor one at that. Actually, my parents were devout Christians and named all their kids after obscure Biblical characters. Nicodemus was a Pharisee who came secretly to Jesus just before his arrest and asked him if he was truly the Messiah.”




He fiddled with a razor clam shell stuck in a crook of the tree. Addison recognized the one little Starlyn had put there. A piece broke off in his hand. “Oh dear, have I destroyed some damsel’s dream?”


She took the piece and slid it behind the shell. “Don’t worry, she’s young. She’ll have more and better dreams.”


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What makes your featured book a must-read?


Although I came up with The Wishing Tree’s plot more than a year ago, it is fun to read today, what with current events involving Russia and Belarus. Those who love spy thrillers, the Eastern shore, space science, or romance—or all of the above—will definitely enjoy The Wishing Tree.


Giveaway –


Enter to win a $45 Amazon gift card:



Open Internationally.


Runs December 18 – December 31, 2023.


Winner will be drawn on January 2, 2024.


Author Biography:


Librarian, anthropologist, research assistant, Congressional aide, speechwriter, nonprofit director—award-winning, multi-published author M. S. Spencer has lived or traveled in five of the seven continents and holds degrees in Anthropology, Middle East Studies, and Library Science. She has published sixteen romantic suspense and mystery novels. She has two children, an exuberant granddaughter, and currently divides her time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.


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Thank you, M.S., for sharing your book in our Best Books of '23 Bookish Event!

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