M. S. Spencer
In the aftermath of a hurricane, Lacey Delahaye finds herself marooned on an island on the Gulf Coast of Florida with a mysterious man. They are immediately drawn to each other, but before Armand can confess his identity, they are kidnapped and taken to a tiny island in the western Caribbean. With the help of her son Crispin and a cadre of loyal followers, she and Armand must face down pirates, power-mad ideologues, and palace intrigue, if they are to restore the once idyllic tropical island to its former glory.
Excerpt (PG): Tommy’s Tree House:
She climbed quietly, hand over hand. As she reached the last board, a soft, but menacing voice purred, “Well, my sweet, you’ve found me.”
Okay, here’s where we find out if he’s a bad guy. “Give me a hand up, will you?” Other than a slight intake of breath, he complied without a word.
Lacey’s head rose up over the floor to find a cubicle lit by a small pencil torch and cluttered with toy guns, candy bar wrappers, and crushed Dr Pepper cans. And Armand. Who took up most of the rest of the space. He still held her hand, but he had stopped pulling her. “Where did you plan to sit, on my lap?”
At least he’s toned down the threat level. “Or you could come down. I don’t think Tommy Forster allows uninvited guests in his palace.”
His jaw dropped. “Palace?” After a brief interval, he said, “Oh. I see. I can’t.”
“I…I…think I reinjured the ankle. I can’t put any weight on it.”
Lacey toyed with the idea of leaving him there for little Tommy, but his mother would have been appalled. “All right, just a minute.” She climbed down and went back to her house, grabbed a coil of rope from the shed and sprinted back up the street.
“At your service.”
“I’m bringing up a rope. I want you to tie it to something, then you can shimmy down without using your feet.”
“Um, what about when I get to the ground?”
How much did he say he weighed? Twelve stone? Lacey calculated swiftly. Must be over a hundred sixty pounds. “I’ll try to ease you down.” She threw the coil into the darkness and backed down the tree.
A few minutes later the rope tumbled down and Armand emerged. “For the record, this was my worst sporting event in public school.” He held on for dear life and inched down the rope. Five minutes later he’d descended a foot.
“Come on, Armand—hurry it up.”
“I’m doing my best.” By dint of a lot of swearing and some wild swinging, Armand made it into Lacey’s waiting arms. He sat on the ground, legs splayed out in front, panting. “Now what?”
Lacey hadn’t really thought that far. If he’s a fugitive, I can’t trust him. And I have no way of contacting the police. Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea. “Er, I guess we’d better get you back home. Then you can tell me what this is all about.” He didn’t argue, but when he tried to stand, he fell over. She considered the situation. “What we need is some kind of transport. Like…like…what was that thing the Indians used?” Lacey cast about for the word.
“That’s it—aren’t you clever. A sort of triangular thingy to carry a wounded man. Made of logs and deerskins.” She stopped, not—as one might assume— due to the lack of readily available logs and skins, but to savor the picture in her mind. An injured warrior, lying spread-eagled before her—bare-chested, sexy, bravely enduring the pain. Wow.
Armand didn’t seem to notice her heightened color and pointed at the carport across the street. “Could we use that little red wagon?”
She followed his gaze. Story of my life—instead of Geronimo I get Ralphie. “That’ll do. Wait here.”
“Yes, I think I shall.” Armand kept a straight face. Lacey brought the little wagon to him, and he lay down in it, arms and legs hanging over the sides.
“You’ll have to lift up your extremities if this is going to work.” And so, with Armand looking like an upside down turtle and Lacey with tears of laughter streaming down her face, they staggered along the road to her house.
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What can I say? It’s fun! A dashing prince in disguise, pirates, a lovely lady with a secret, and royal intrigue, all on a tiny, faraway Caribbean island. Romance at its most swashbuckling. An added bonus are the recipes provided at the beginning of the chapters for wild fruit jellies.
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Librarian, anthropologist, research assistant, Congressional aide, speechwriter, nonprofit director—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 fifteen 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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