What do pirates, princes, Puritans, and propaganda have in common? Lacey Delahaye, forager and jelly maker, finds out in this romantic suspense set in the western Caribbean.
Secret Cravings Publishing, 9/2/2014
89,000 words; M/F; 3 flames; Adventure/Romance
Up until my thirties, I traveled a great deal, living in many countries with amenities that many would consider below standard. So it wasn't until I married and settled down in an old farmhouse with an acre of land that I could indulge my fantasy of living off the land. I built a formal herb garden and planted all kinds of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. The one thing I couldn't get to grow was mint. Yes, the gardeners among you will scoff, but it took me years to get a plot to flourish. When it did, it threatened to take over the entire acre. I had to do something.
So I called upon my sister-in-law, to whom Whirlwind Romance is dedicated. She directed me to an old recipe for mint jelly. Once the mint invasion was under control and I'd mastered the technique, I spent my summers working up recipes for herb jellies—tarragon, lemon balm, rosemary and more. It might have been helpful if I actually liked jellies, but they made lovely Christmas gifts.
Florida—my new home—contains myriad ecosystems that produce exotic and interesting wild fruits, most of whom can be made into jelly. It was an easy step to make my newly arrived heroine into a jelly maker. I hope you enjoy the recipes as much as you do Lacey and Armand's love story.
In the aftermath of a hurricane, Lacey Delahaye finds herself marooned 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 far from civilization to a tiny, remarkable island in the western Caribbean. With the help of her son Crispin, a small, but proud young boy named Inigo, and a cadre of extraordinary characters, Lacey and Armand must confront pirates, power-mad ideologues, and palace intrigue if they are to restore the once idyllic tropical paradise to its former serenity and find lasting happiness.
Excerpt (R): Makeup Sex
A light tapping woke her. She lifted her head as the mantel clock chimed once. One a.m. “Who is it?”
“It’s me. Armand. Can I come in?”
No! “What do you want?”
“We have to talk.”
“Do I have a choice?”
“I mean, you’ve locked me in. I’m hardly in a position to refuse.”
The doorknob rattled. “Damn it, you’re right—those two blockheads must have ordered it. Hang on.” She listened to some scratching and bumping and the door yielded. Armand stumbled in.” He held up a small pin with a grin. “Once again the superiority of my education is affirmed.”
“That’s nice. Look, I need some sleep. I’m getting out of your hair tomorrow morning, so you don’t need to threaten me. I apologize for being such a fool.”
He took a step toward her, and she drew her knees up to her chin. “May I sit down?”
“Be my guest.”
He gazed at her a minute. “It’s…it’s good to see you.”
She was too busy clenching her jaw to say anything.
He tried again. “I missed you.”
“I…uh…look, Lacey, you have no right to take that attitude. After all, you were the one who left me.” He stood and paced.
He swung on her, his face pinched, his voice brittle. “Why did you do that? Why did you go?”
“I had to, Armand. I was in the way. You had a family crisis—a national crisis—on your hands. My presence just made things worse.”
“No…no. That’s not true. I wanted…needed you. Lacey—” He bent toward her, his beseeching eyes filled with shade upon shade of black and mahogany and gold.
They reminded her of Maitea’s eyes. “Really?” She tossed her head. “I see you wasted no time getting engaged.”
He lifted his chin. “What else could I do? I’d lost the only woman I’ve ever loved. All I have left is my honor. And honor dictates that the second son of the grand duke marry his second cousin.”
Lacey remembered that awful night in the castle, with Edrigu and Crispin and Inigo, and…Armand—the night when all her options were so cruelly eliminated, leaving her with the one, the inevitable choice. “You didn’t lose me, Armand. You let me go.”
His stricken face shot shards of pain, piercing her heart. Defenses crumbling, she held out her arms. He fell into them.
A long kiss, followed by a rambling conversation in which the words “love” and “forever,” figured prominently, went on for a few minutes. Armand’s hands roamed over Lacey like a blind man memorizing her body, finally reaching the hem of her nightgown. He lifted it up and over her head, pausing to kiss each nipple. She unbuttoned his shirt, planting kisses on his chest. He wiggled out of his jeans and returned to her.
She pressed closer, squashing her breasts against him, wrapping her thighs around his hips. They held still, savoring the moment, savoring the knowledge of what was to come. He inched down her stomach, pausing to lick her belly button, then on to her waiting pussy. His tongue explored the soft flesh, flicking at the lips. “Hurry, hurry,” she panted. Instead, he lingered on her inner thighs, trailing his lips down the bare flesh. She writhed on the bed, aching for her climax, begging him to unleash the passion building in her.
At last, he came to her toes. He peered up at her, and she caught a mischievous gleam in his eye. Lacey, who a minute before had been consumed by impatience, wanting her orgasm, wanting to come with him immediately if not sooner, settled down to watch. He took each toe gently between his lips and kissed the tips, then ran a finger along her instep. One hand cupped her heel while the other gently stroked the back of her calf. The kneading calmed her. This must be the way a cat feels when she’s petted—all warm and cozy and loved. Her restlessness muzzled, she lay quietly, rejoicing in his caresses.
Armand whispered, “Lacey, I’ve waited for this moment for six weeks. Every night I’d fall asleep thinking of you and every dawn I dreamed you were lying here next to me. I’d wake happy, until the real world crashed in. And here you are, as beautiful and desirable as you were the moment I first set eyes on you.”
“Come to me, Armand.”
The world stood by as two lovers met and enfolded. A roll of thunder and crash of lightning from beyond the window echoed the thrumming of flesh on flesh. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think. His scent filled her nostrils and she let go.
Fingers intertwined, lips touching, they rested. The storm faded into the night.
As dawn peeked in through the open window, a knowing smile on her cream-colored face, Lacey pulled Armand close and reminded him again of what he’d missed. Almost sated, they slept again.
Although she has lived or traveled in every continent except Antarctica and Australia (bucket list), M. S. Spencer has spent the last thirty years mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, kayaker, policy wonk, non-profit director and parent. She has two fabulous grown children, and currently divides her time between the Gulf coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.
Ms. Spencer has published nine romance novels. The first two, Lost in His Arms and Lost and Found, were published by Red Rose Publishing. The other six--Losers Keepers, Triptych, Artful Dodging: The Torpedo Factory Murders, Mai Tais and Mayhem: Murder at Mote Marine (a Sarasota Romance, Lapses of Memory, and the Mason's Mark —were published by Secret Cravings. Whirlwind Romance, her ninth, was released September 2014.
Blog: http://msspencertalespinner.blogspot.com OR