Good morning, Ann and thanks for having me. We have a lot in common—a love of mysteries and a love of travel. With your Italian connection, you will surely enjoy my new book.
I'd like to talk about the genesis of my new romantic suspense/mystery, The Mason's Mark: Love and Death in the Tower. The book arose in part out of a true story. I had started with the idea that my heroine finds a dead body on top of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial, a towering landmark of Alexandria, Virginia. The GWM is not only a Masonic Lodge (Alexandria-Washington no. 22) but a memorial to George Washington and a national showcase for freemasonry. To ensure authenticity, I learned as much about freemasonry as I could. I began with basic sites on Masons, but my Google search soon led me into a strange world of global intrigue and crime. I followed one thread to a fake Masonic lodge called Propaganda Due, led by a notorious Italian named Licio Gelli.
Starting in the 1940s, Gelli embarked on a lifetime of bizarre scams and crimes. Alternately linked to rightists and leftists, he bilked or used people from Italian politicians, to the Nazis, the Communists, the CIA, even to Juan Perón, dictator of Argentina. His exploits cross the globe and spanned four decades. But it was his connection to a shadowy group called Operation Gladio—supposedly a team of black ops left in Europe after WWII to guard against Communist takeovers—that was too intriguing not to use. Thus was born The Mason's Mark: Love and Death in the Tower, a contemporary tale about old scandals. And a dynamite love story.
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 falls apart when she discovers a dead body. Together with Detective Ernest Angle, she's drawn into a dark world of black ops and Italian renegade masons. Also cloaked in mystery is her new love Gideon Bliss. A George Washington expert, he 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 Ernest, Claire must find answers to a complex web of intrigue, including which black ops agent to trust, whether our first president strayed, and if she and Gideon will ever be together.
Secret Cravings Publishing (released January 7, 2014)
79,000 words, Romantic suspense, M/F, 3 flames
Buy Links: http://store.secretcravingspublishing.com/index.php?main_page=book_info&cPath=4&products_id=800
In honor of the Super Bowl I thought I'd offer a football scene:
Excerpt (R): Vikings Win
“Yes, thanks. You’d better get back in here—the game’s about to start.”
Gideon sat down next to Claire and handed her a plate and a roll of paper towels. “Mother doesn’t think she can make it to my court appearance next Tuesday.”
“Is she upset with you?” Claire tore the last whisker of meat off the bone and chewed lustily. Gideon leaned toward her and gently wiped the sauce from her mouth. They took a minute to gaze happily into each other’s eyes.
“Well, a bit. After all, no Bliss has ever been accused of theft. Dueling, yes. Womanizing. Gambling. But not theft. I’m afraid she thinks I’m guilty.”
“How? I mean, why?”
“Maybe because I won’t confide in her. At this point only three other people know of the Washington letter—Allen Greystone, the conservator, you, and Frederick Nutley.”
“I thought you hadn’t told Professor Nutley?”
Gideon took a swallow of beer. “Fred came to see me after my arrest. I had to tell him.”
“So why hasn’t he shown up to support you?”
“I don’t know. I imagine he thinks he would only make it worse, considering his reputation.”
The first quarter started and the two were drawn into the inglorious battle between her favorite team and his. Claire leapt to her feet, scattering potato chips on the floor. “Did you see that catch? Jackson is amazing, isn’t he?” she crowed. “The Redskins might as well give up now and head for the locker room.”
Gideon sniffed. “We’ve got three more quarters to go. The Vikings are notorious for blowing it in the fourth.”
“Never. Vikings never give up. Why, when Fran Tarkenton—”
“Spare me, m’dear. That was thirty years ago. The Purple People Eaters have been on a slow slide to oblivion since then.”
He caught her arm in midair, turned her palm toward him, curled her fingers over it and kissed them. “Kiss a fist for peace.”
“I’ll show you a fist. I’ll—”
Her pummeling had no effect, at least on Gideon’s chest. When he pinioned her arms and held her close she could feel the erection grinding into her thigh. He let her arms go and circled her waist, pulling her to him. He groaned, “Claire.”
The noise of gridiron battle faded and she heard nothing but the steady thrumming of her vulva and the rhythmic thumping of his cock against her. “Gideon. Gideon? Remember what I said. Remember I…We shouldn’t…”
“You’re right, not here.” He lifted her, tossed her over his shoulder, and took the narrow steps to her bedroom two at a time.
After a short mental struggle, Claire accepted the inevitable. How to turn defeat into victory? “You just don’t want to watch your Redskins lose, do you?” When he didn’t answer, she took the opportunity to undo his belt and pull the zipper down. He fell backward on the bed, allowing her to free his cock and fasten her lips around it. She shifted around to face away from him and shimmied backward, bringing her pussy within reach of his lips. He took a mouthful of quivering red flesh and sucked. She gasped with pleasure, then bent to her task. A few moments later both backs arched and, mouths glued to genitals, they rolled off the bed. Ichabod screeched and bolted out from under them.
Claire waited for her breath to come back. “Vikings will win. Mark my words.”
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. Blessed with two fabulous grown children, she has published eight romantic suspense/mystery novels. In an excess of optimism, she has recently heaved the entire ho to Florida with a detour to Maine, leaving behind the cherry blossoms, the monuments, and the political hacks.
Secret Cravings Publishing: http://store.secretcravingspublishing.com/index.php?main_page=products_all&filter_author=56
Amazon Author Page:http://www.amazon.com/M.S.-Spencer/e/B002ZOEUC8/