My first mistake: Agreeing to conduct a private tour of Italy. Fourteen Italian-Americans from New Jersey? All family, for three weeks, with four teenagers? What was I thinking?
Fate responds to my engraved invitation by placing one of the family under surveillance as a suspect in an assassination plot, and who is assigned to the case? None other than my favorite drop-dead-gorgeous spy, Will Talbot.
My second mistake: Allowing Will to coax an invitation from the family matriarch to join the tour.
And that was just the beginning. The matriarch, searching for the unknown location of her mother's grave, and her quirky family members sweep through Italy leaving chaos, danger and destruction in their wake.
(90k) ISBN # TBA
Buy Links: Breathless Press Amazon All Romance Ebooks
Bookstrand 1 Place for Romance
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“Did you actually meet Gianni Barbera?”
That cooled me off a bit. Oh, boy. How much should I tell him? “Yes, he sat next to me at dinner.”
“What’s your opinion?”
“It’s my opinion that we have plenty of time to talk about this later.”
Oo-kay, let’s see if I’ve learned anything about acting. “He was charming, polished, and polite but distant, which I took to mean he didn’t suspect any threat. And in my humble opinion, he’s the primary decision maker.”
Will hesitated a beat. “Okay, that fits with what I know. Now, what aren’t you telling me?”
“What makes you think I’m not telling you everything?”
He kissed me again and let his hands rove, getting me all heated up on purpose. He knew how to break down my defenses. God, he’s good.
My resistance dwindled. “Oh, well, all right. I didn’t score high marks with the fly-on-the-wall thing.” No big surprise there. I told him about my confrontation with the tablecloth.
He groaned, but didn’t say anything or criticize. Maybe I would get off easy.
Jeez. I needed to brush up on my fibbing skills. “There’s nothing else…hmm, except that I guess I flirted with him a little. But only to get information for you.”
“And what?” Didn’t this guy ever give up? I added obnoxiously persistent to my mental list of his qualities.
“Out with it. You know you’re a rotten liar.” He didn’t sound angry, merely relentless in his pursuit of knowledge.
“We-ell…he sort of looked up my skirt.”
That reaction made me all defensive. I rolled out of his arms and sat up. “It’s not like it sounds. It wasn’t in private or anything. It happened in front of everybody.”
A long heavy silence ensued. “Shit!”
I punched him lightly on the shoulder. “Will, stop it. It’s nothing like you’re implying. Everyone in the room looked up my skirt. I was trying to get off the dining table.”
He heaved a resigned sigh. “You’re way off base if you think that’s going to help. What were you doing on the table?”
“Standing, of course. And nobody could really see anything except my pantyhose and thong.”
He flopped on his back and flung his forearm over his eyes. “Lord, give me strength.”
“Do you want to hear the rest of this or not?”
“Am I going to hate it?”
“You shouldn’t. And talking about this now was your bright idea.”
I blew out an exasperated breath and told him about the argument over the burial of the ashes in the family tomb, and how I’d stopped it.
“Harriet Ruby, you are something else.” He didn’t take his arm away from his face. “I’m glad I wasn’t there. I can’t take the stress.”
“We learned a lot more this way. This spy thing is actually kind of fun.”
The Pen and Muse
May 19, 2010 by Rebecca Lynn
The good thing is that Will, darling Will, is coming back for another round after this one is over (or at least that's what it appears will happen). And Harriet (his heroine) looks like she will be back, also. The suspense was interesting and exciting. Definitely not a plot I expected, when the book began. Full of surprises, and worth the read.
The adjectives "humorous" and "romantic" are intentionally adjectives, I think. The focus of the plot is definitely the suspense, and both the humor and the romance play supporting roles to that. Nothing wrong with it, just something I thought should be noted, given the fact that I mostly review romance. But this was a good book. I enjoyed it. And I liked Will so much that I'm considering reading the next book. Should be very exciting to see if Will and Harriet will finally get their happy ending... :-) You know me, I'm all about the happily ever after.
05/03/2010 by Ginger Simpson
If you are looking for one book that delivers a satisfying dose of romance, humor, intrigue, danger, and sexual attraction so intense you feel it, then All for a Fist Full of Ashes by R. Ann Siracusa is just what the doctor ordered.
Harriet Ruby, a tour director with the Adventure Seekers Travel Agency, takes you along when she guides a somewhat unique family through Italy as they search for their roots. Their first meeting occurs during a fracus at the custom’s desk, when one officer helps himself to a single Cuban cigar the Spinelli/Mazza family carries with them. It seems in order to save money, they’ve rolled Uncle Carmelo’s ashes inside the several boxes of stogies they’ve brought with the intent of leaving them at his mother’s grave in Sicily.
Handsome William (Will) Talbot) is an agent for Europol. He and Harriet have met formerly, and he seems to be extremely patient with her, despite all the predicaments she finds herself in. They’ve agreed to a no-strings attached, sexual relationship, but there’s no denying the feelings are far more than casual.
The cane wielding grandmother, Vita, plays a hilarious role as the family matriarch, but it seems everyone in the family has their own agenda when Granny isn’t around. She likes Will and isn’t the least bit upset when he decides to tag along on the trip. Something stinks, and it isn’t in Denmark. One of the family members is the object of Will’s secret investigation.
Harriet has her hands full with this group--green hair, bad attitudes, an escaping snake, and more to cause you to chuckle. I guarantee you’ll keep turning pages and enjoying every moment. Kudos to Ms. Siracusa for this awesome read.
Review by Coffee Time Romance and More (Rating: 4 cups)
12/06/09 by Maura Frankman
This story is outrageously funny and over the top in every way. I do not think that there is a more obnoxious family on the planet than the Spinella/Mazza clan. I loved Vita and her deadly accurate cane and the green-haired Eric, but the rest of the bunch has few redeeming qualities. The scene in the airport with the Italian officials smoking some of Uncle Carmelo’s remains is hilarious. Harriet and Will’s relationship is complicated, since he keeps everything about himself a secret, but their love scenes are pretty hot. Harriet manages to keep her head, if not her control, for most of the journey, and you will enjoy her efforts to keep the group from destroying the luxury hotels of Italy, to keep the teenagers out of jail, and to help Will keep someone from assassinating the Pope. All in a day’s work for a tour guide. Not!
Night Owl Romance Reviews (Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 - A Top Pick)
February 1, 2010 by Vee
When Harriet Ruby, a tour director, is assigned to show Italy to the Spinella family, fourteen Italian-Americans from New Jersey, little does she know some of them have more than sightseeing on their minds.
Full of colorful characters and hilarious situations, All For A Fist Full Of Ashes is fun. The humor is slapstickish, but clever. Vita’s character, an elderly woman with a fast cane and a sharp mind is only one. There were many colordul characters in the story including a phython named Fluffy. The author did a good job of making them come alive.
My only criticism is the terrorist subplot and its resolution felt threadbare. I had a hard time believing Interpol would have so little information to go on and would have to rely on Harriet. Or course, that problem created more tension. If you like Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels, you’ll like this series by R. Ann Siracusa. It’s spunky and well-told. Definitely kept me entertained.
Contemporary romance/fantasy short story
Book 3 in the Tour Director Extraordinaire Series
After knowing each other for nine months, young tour director Harriet Ruby and drop-dead gorgeous spy, Will Talbot, are looking forward to their first Christmas together.
Their plans for an entire uninterrupted week in each other's arms go awry when she’s assigned to conduct a tour for a group of children over the Christmas holiday.
Disappointed but determined to make the best of the situation, Harriet and Will soon discover the tour group is in Rome for more than just a holiday…and they are definitely not children.
Contemporary romance short story
Book 4 in the Tour Director Extraordinaire Series
Tired of celestial politics and wanting some fun, Fate brings together two young people who would have never met. A young tour director, Harriet Ruby, whose biggest problem is that she has no real problems, and Will Talbot, Europol spy with a dark and troubled past.
Wham! Bam! Sparks fly. Fate smiles. “They’ll never know what hit them.”
After teaming up in Morocco for outstanding sex and hilarious adventure, Will and Harriet agree to see if their relationship can develop beyond mutual lust. Now, they’re having their first real date. Things are heating up nicely when they learn the “getting to know you” process, while on-the-job, is fraught with interruptions, frustrations…and the promise of an unforgettable adventure.
Book 5 in The Tour Director Extraordinaire Series
I'm Harriet Ruby, Tour Director Extraordinaire. At last, one of my fondest wishes has come true! Will Talbot, my favorite Super Spy and the love of my life, wants to include me in his covert mission to recover a list of double agents for the U.S. government.
Wow! Usually, I want to know everything, and he can't tell me anything. Now, I'll be part of the action. I am so-o going to love this!
Not that I have a big role. I only have to act as if we're husband and wife when he accompanies me on my China tour. The tour group members are strangers we'll never see again, and we can spend three intimate weeks together.
I mean, how hard can that be?
Surprise, surprise! My parents show up on the tour as replacements for some cancellations. Now we have to pretend we're married to protect Will's cover.
And then, other problems erupt when someone tries to kill me, and terrorists kidnap me and my mother to lure Will into a trap. Not to mention the damage my assault rifle does to the Great Wall...
Oh, man. It isn't my fault. Really!
READ AN EXCERPT
“Get down!” Will yelled over his shoulder. He fired off a six-shot burst as he dropped prone into the tall grass and out of sight. There was no other cover here — nowhere else to go.
Oo-kay, Harriet Ruby, this is no time to lose it your cool. I dove onto my stomach after him, but not before I took a heavy painful blow to the chest.
“Aii!” My body slammed into the ground hard enough to knock the wind out of me. The soft wet earth sent splatters of mud across my goggles.
With all the air whooshed out of my lungs, I couldn’t breath and lay there gasping for oxygen. I couldn’t think.
Three projectiles whizzed past my head in rapid succession.
Ohmigod! Time to get out of here. Vision impaired, I scrambled in the direction I thought Will had gone. My elbows and knees dug into the ground, dragging my body on my stomach through the wet grass, my automatic weapon clutched in both hands in front of me.
This was no fun at all. Where was he?
My heart pounded against my ribcage. Sharp pain stabbed through me with each breath. My aching hands knotted around my rifle. Black dots cavorted in front of my eyes and everything had fuzzy edges. I sucked in a big gulp of air ― along with it a small bug.
“Aah-ugh!” I tried to spit it out but already the critter fluttered its wings in my throat.
Coughing, I buried my face against my arm to muffle the sound. Before I could stop hacking, a hand grasped my ankle and pulled me into a pit behind a bunker.
“Eek!” I smashed down on top of a warm body. A nice hard, well-muscled body. One I recognized by feel and scent. “You did that on purpose.”
“Shh.” Will waited long enough for both of us to relish our position, then rolled me off onto my rear end.
I pulled away and sat up, then collapsed with my back against the dirt wall of the ditch. He studied me for a long moment ― although I couldn’t see his expression through the protective gear ― then pulled some sort of spy instrument out of his backpack and fiddled.
Damn these grim-faced, efficient, military types. At least today he didn’t have a razor-sharp crease in his camos. Shaking my head, I reached up to wipe the grime off my face with my sleeve. “Ow!”
Will crouched behind the bunker, peering into the tool, which now looked like a small periscope. He whipped around.
“You’ve been hit.” His tight voice conveyed alarm.
Jeez, did he need to lighten up, or what?
I threw down my automatic Spyder MR2, pulled off my facemask and helmet, and sent them rattling to the ground beside the weapon.
“Right. And it hurts like the devil.” I stared down at the damp red stain on the front of my shirt.
09/18/2010 By Tami Vahalik
This is the fifth book overall, but the third in novel length for Harriet Ruby Tour Guide Extraordinaire. Once again we are off on an adventure with Harriet, her Super Spy Guy, Will and a few interesting twists to the cast of characters. Destruction of the Great Wall doesn’t disappoint on the adventure and tangles that Harriet once again finds herself in. Harriet’s own words best sum up the novel, “Oh, man. It isn’t my fault. Really!”
HAPPILY EVER AFTER REVIEWS (4 cups of tea)
10/02/2010 by Lynn Marie Hunter
This is a really fun book. It continues the story of Harriet Ruby, Tour Director Extraordinaire. If you haven’t read the other books in the series, I’m going to suggest that you go buy them because (a) they’re fun to read and (b) they help you understand what is going on in this book.
The writing is light weight and the hero and heroine continue on with their love affair, which is, as always, satisfying. Ms. Siracusa does a wonderful job of describing China—sometimes too good of a job, occasionally description slows down the plot—and I think you’ll enjoy the setting as really unique.
Will there come a point when I get enough of Harriet’s antics? Maybe. But I haven’t gotten there yet and I’m really enjoying the series. I think you will too. So go buy book 1 if you haven’t so you can read this book. You won’t be sorry you did.
Contemporary fantasy short story
Book 6 in the Tour Director Extraordinaire Series
Harriet Ruby: Tour Director Extraordinaire, has had some real winners when it came to tourists, but this group, wearing Halloween costumes on an all day tour of Rome, took the cake. Well, it was Halloween, but these folks were seriously…different.
When nine of them decide to explore on their own and take off down a restricted tunnel of the Roman catacombs, Harriet has to find them…for their safety and her reputation…and ends up involved in something she never expected.
NEW RELEASE COMING IN SEPTEMBER 2011
Humorous Romantic Suspense
Book 7 in the Tour Director Extraordinaire Series
Harriet Ruby, tour director extraordinaire, and her fiancé and favorite spy, Will Talbot, travel to St. Petersburg, Russia, undercover as tour directors for the US delegation to an international youth conference. Harriet tackles her first covert assignment for the Department of Homeland Security to investigate smuggled artwork while Will’s mission is to locate and destroy a group of terrorists recruiting young computer experts.
Their marriage plans hit a snag when Will locates a long-lost cousin with startling news about his heritage. When the artwork being smuggled has particular significance to one of the terrorist sympathizers, their missions entangle and begin to unravel, leaving Will at the mercy of terrorist kidnappers and Harriet holding the bag.
(101k) ISBN# 978-1-934657-72-0
BUY LINKS: Sapphire Blue Publishing
When Patricia Macintosh inherits her Scottish father’s ancestral estate near Loch Ness, she wants nothing to do with it. She and her father had been close until her parents divorced, more than twenty years before, but in her mind he had broken her heart and abandoned her. No man would ever do that to her again.
But after a bout with cancer and reconstructive surgery, she flees to Scotland on the pretense of selling the estate, but more to escape from having to make a commitment to the man who wants to marry her. There, an encounter with the impossible forces her to face a life-altering decision.
Deception, passion, and love battle in a world where nothing is as it seems.
Disdained by her father and facing an arranged marriage, young Angela Rosarno yearns to be loved for herself. She flees her home and travels to Sicily into the arms of Santino Camastro, a man she has come to love only through his letters, though never met.
Wooed and rushed into marriage, she learns—too late—that her husband is not the man who penned the letters. Determined to uncover the truth, Angela's actions set off a series of betrayals and murders. By the time she discovers that her husband's brother Antonio is the man she truly loves, she is hopelessly trapped in Santino's ruthless world of ambition and greed. When deception, passion, and a mother's love collide, Angela will have to risk everything she values, even the man she loves, to win freedom for herself and her children.
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53ZnnJzeR2s
Humorous Romantic Suspense
My name is Harriet Ruby, Tour Director Extraordinaire. At least I thought I was worthy of that title until one of my tourists, Archie Philpot, died in the middle of my first, solo European tour.
Teaming up with William Talbot, a seemingly kind stranger who turned out to be a spy in disguise, I tried to keep my tourists happy and unaware while smuggling poor old Archie's body out of Morocco. I never expected my newfound friend and helper to be the love of my life. It certainly didn’t hurt that he was such a hunk!
But before our romance even got properly started, we were chased by terrorists, smugglers and murderers. Since my role model had always been Tour Guide Barbie, I was out of my league and had to rely on Will to get us to safety.
Little did I know that getting out of Morocco was just the beginning...
(70k) ISBN #978-1-77101-792-3
Buy Links: Breathless Press Amazon All Romance Ebooks
Bookstrand 1Place for Romance
READ AN EXCERPT
Looking back on it, I could see everything would have worked out fine if Archie Philpot hadn't chosen that particular time and place to die.
Not that he did it maliciously, mind you, nor did he exactly choose. But I'm sure if he'd thought about the welfare of the many—our tour group, to be specific—as opposed to the convenience of the one, he might have staved off the event for another ten or twelve hours. Then there would have been no problem.
Well, not exactly no problem.
But perhaps I should start when everything began to fall apart.
My name is Harriet Ruby, Tour Director Extraordinaire. Or so I'd thought. I had just begun to believe my first solo stint in Europe was a roaring success when we got lost in the medina—the ancient walled city—in Tangier.
"Let's stop here for a moment," I called to my tour group.
While they assembled, I glanced around at the souk, the market place within the city walls. It was a maze of tiny shops, tents, and winding passageways crowded with Moroccans.
"I'm never going to find my way out of here." I pulled out my cell phone and punched in my driver's number. Mario knew the route and spoke Arabic, but he had gone to fix a flat tire on our bus while I herded our fourteen tourists around the medina. That was two hours ago.
Harriet, this does not bode well for your goal of a long and successful career in the tour business.
With the back of my hand, I swiped at the perspiration popping out on my brow. "Please stay right here and don't go anywhere. I'll be right back."
All of them smiled and nodded. Grimacing, I hurried to one of the tea shops we had passed to look for someone who spoke English. No luck. I was only gone for two or three minutes, I swear—well, maybe it was five or six—but when I returned to the place where I had left my tourists, they were gone.
This was not starting out to be a good day.
"Mez Harri Boobies!" The shrill cry sliced through the confusion of sweating bodies crowding the market. An arm shot out of nowhere, and a brown hand clamped my wrist. I swallowed my shriek of surprise. Tangier was rife with hands that grabbed at foreigners.
"Mez Harri Boobies, you come queek," the man whispered in my ear. "Mezter Pillpot no good, yes? You come."
"It's R-u-b-y, not Boobie." I repeated my name for Mr. Takamura, one of the three almost-English-speaking Japanese tourists in the small group I was directing through Spain and Morocco. While my name was not destined to be in lights on Hollywood marquees, for the past twenty-four years, it had served me well enough. I had a sentimental attachment to it.
Without a reply, he released my arm. Insinuating his slight body into the crush of street peddlers, dirty children, and veiled ladies, he moved quickly out of sight. With a deep sigh, I tucked my Adventure Seekers sign under my arm and followed him, devastated by the foreboding that I would be nicknamed "Hairy Boobies" for the rest of my career as a tour director, which might not be very long after this little incident.
He penetrated farther into the ancient market through twisted, narrow passageways filled with malodorous bodies and a myriad of colors rippling in the heat—red, blue, amber, purple of clothing, goods for sale, food, tents. In pursuit, I skirted white-robed Moroccans bartering for goods, men sipping mint tea, and women painting the hands of girls with rich sienna-colored henna. The humid air, replete with an exotic mixture of scents—ginger, curry, rare perfumes, cigarette smoke, donkey dung—stirred my senses. The crowd babbled in many languages, counterpoint to the lilting melody of the seruani pipes.
"Wait!" How in the world had they gone this far in such a short time?
He hesitated for an instant, turned, and waved. Then he disappeared again. Finally, Mr. Takamura stopped in a small plaza with a colorful tiled fountain in the center, a calm refuge in the midst of chaos. In stray beams of sunlight, tiny motes of dust danced in the thick atmosphere. The Japanese gentleman waited for me to catch up, then smiled and bowed.
My gaze followed his nod. "Ohmigod!"
Archibald Philpot of London, the eldest and most distinguished of my tourists, knelt doubled over the lip of the fountain, hurling his guts. Oh, boy.
My tourists—three American and two Swedish couples and the other two Japanese—watched with helpless concern on their faces while a growing knot of Moroccans glared at us, mayhem glinting in their dark eyes.
The disbelief and thin-lipped anger on their faces indicated they were not pleased about the desecration of what was probably their water supply. I couldn't blame them. This could get dicey. A drop of sweat dribbled into my eye.
Edith Johnson, a ditzy fiftyish blonde trying to look thirty, was the first to see me. She clapped her hand to her bosom and cried, "Thank goodness you're here, Harriet. Do something."
I dropped down beside Archie. His complexion was grayish-green, his rheumy eyes were glazed over, and by the stench, I guessed the poor man might have a case of diarrhea. My stomach heaved. Swallowing hard, I managed to maintain my tour director decorum. This was definitely not in my job description.
Between The Lines (Rating: Memorable/Good)
07/18/09 By Lisa Mitchell for Writers and Readers of Distinctive Fiction
All for a Dead Man’s Leg is a comical romantic mystery. Harriet is a likeable heroine who good-naturedly endures the griping, whining, complaining tourists, some of whom can’t even say her name correctly. It is her kind nature that endeared her to me as I read. She’s doing her best to keep things going after the death of a tourist turns out to be more than just “a death.” Will Talbot, her hero, is a true romance hero—to quote Bonnie Tyler, ‘big, strong, and larger than life.” And it is Harriet who uncovers that sensitive side that he tries so hard to hide.
R. Ann Siracusa has done a great job weaving this tale. For those who enjoyed Romancing the Stone, this is reminiscent of the film. While the plots are very different, the story was in the same tone. All For a Dead Man’s Leg is a good rainy day—or any day read.
Night Time Romance Reviews (Rating: 5 Stars)
06/21/09 By Estefanie Larranaga for Night Time Romance Reviews
R. Ann Siracusa managed to keep me smiling throughout "All For A Dead Man's Leg," and had me from the beginning with this line: "Mez Harri Boobies." I just couldn't love Harriet and Will more because no matter the danger they were in, both managed to do some major banter and flirting.
This is a genuine gem. It kept me in awe with each new chapter. From the middle to the end there's plenty of action packed scenes. Harriet is determined to save a friend of Will's whether he helps her or not. Here's to Harriet and Will for rescuing the good and catching the bad guys. I definitely enjoyed the talks between Will and Harriet. Cute nickname Will has for Harriet.
"All For A Dead Man's Leg" is an amazing romantic comedy with well written action scenes mixed in, well written characters and storyline that is well thought out. It's hard to find great humor novel. Ms. Siracusa sure knew how to work this into an A+ charming tale. I definitely recommend this top choice of the week! I don't know how much more I can say, but that I love "All For A Dead Man's Leg" and give it a rating of 5 stars!
Romantic Crush Junkies (Rating: 4 Stars)
06/19/09 By C.S. Morehouse for Romantic Crush Junkies
All Harriet Ruby wants to do is get her little tourist troop through Morocco without incident. This being her first guided tour since graduating college she would like to get every one through and out of the country without a hitch. One problem, one of her tourist Archie Philpot keels over making a once easy job now a very huge complication. Enter undercover bad boy agent William Talbot, he’s on a mission of his own when the sultry Tour Director falls into his arms. With one dead man, a group of errant tourist and assassin s chasing their every step how is a girl to have a real relationship?
Oh. My. Gosh. Reader get your self a hanky because “All for A Dead Man’s Leg” is this years go-to romantic comedy is sure to have you shedding tears. Tears of joy. Tears of laughter. Ms. Siracusa has masterfully created long lasting and endearing characters that had this reader laughing through one escapade to the next. Get ready to split a stitch and shed a few tears because reader this story is too funny to not pass it on.