The Pit and the Passion: Murder at the Ghost Hotel is my new mystery romance, set in Sarasota on the Gulf Coast of Florida. As John Ringling saw when he first arrived at the turn of the 20th century, it is a paradise.
“A beam of red light shot through her window. Sunset already? She got up, fixed herself a drink, and took it to the balcony. She watched as the sun sank into the gulf, long, needle-like pincers of light stretching out as though it wanted to hook the horizon and hang on for dear life. Like Kilroy, whatever was pulling it from below won the battle and the sun dipped, leaving its signature green spot as a token of affection for the world.”
This is what it’s like to live on the Gulf Coast of Florida. By day the sky is the deep blue of Paul Newman’s eyes; at close of day it’s flooded with a full palette of reds, oranges, pinks and purples. I have a lot of pictures of my granddaughter—I have even more pictures of sunsets in Sarasota!
Here’s the story of The Pit & the Passion:
At midnight, in the darkness of a deserted hotel, comes a scream and a splash. Eighty-five years later, workmen uncover a skeleton in an old elevator shaft. Who is it, and how did it get there? To find out, Charity Snow, ace reporter for the Longboat Key Planet, teams up with Rancor Bass, best-selling author. A college ring they find at the dig site may prove to be their best clue.
Although his arrogance nearly exceeds his talent, Charity soon discovers a warm heart beating under Rancor’s handsome exterior. While dealing with a drop-dead gorgeous editor who may or may not be a villain, a publisher with a dark secret, and an irascible forensic specialist, Charity and Rancor unearth an unexpected link to the most famous circus family in the world.
The Pit and the Passion: Murder at the Ghost Hotel
The Wild Rose Press, January 22, 2018 (Crimson Rose)
Mystery, Humorous/Romantic Comedy
418 p.; 97370 words
Excerpt (PG): The Man on the Beach
The Milky Way spread a swath of cream overhead. One small cloud trundled across the sky. Behind it peeped a gibbous moon. The beach was wide here, sweeping south in a twelve-mile-long arc but ending only a few yards north of her at a severely eroded cliff.
Not a soul stirred on the sand, except for a couple of willets picking their way along the edge of the water. She turned and headed toward the cliff.
Someone had left a beach chair out. She sat and watched the waves, listening to the chittering of the sandpipers and the putt-putt of a trawler far out. She assumed the rustle behind her was a ghost crab and kept quiet, hoping to catch a glimpse of it. She loved the way they would stop, half in and half out of their holes, their eyestalks waving. They’re so sure they’re invisible.
She jumped straight up, knocking the chair backward.
“What th—?” Her heart pounding, she turned. At that moment, the cloud shrouded the moon, and in the sudden darkness she could only make out a form.
“It’s me. Rancor. Rancor Bass.”
She held out a hand and encountered a broad chest, lightly furred. She pulled it back quickly. “Are you…are you…”
He snickered. “Naked? As a matter of fact, yes.”
She backed up. A splash told her that her brand-new sandals were likely ruined. She vaulted out of the water and landed between two bare arms.
“Easy there, Charity. I hardly know you.”
“Stop it, Mr. Bass. And let me go. If I were you I’d drop that conceited tone. I wouldn’t be caught dead in your arms.”
His voice came low, laughter licking at its edges. “You don’t feel dead to me. In fact”—she tensed at the touch of a finger on the inside of her elbow—“you feel very much alive. And quite…fresh. Call me Rancor.”
“Rancor Bass, you leave me alone.” She tried to walk around the shadow, but an arm snaked out and caught her. She opened her mouth to scream and found two lips smothering hers. She stood quite still, fear and…something else…oh my God, desire?…taking over her senses.
He let her go. “Couldn’t resist. Wanted to see if those defensive walls could be breached.” He sat down in the chair. The moon came out from behind the cloud and cast a pale glow on his hair. “You’re a tough cookie, Charity.”
She wanted to deny it, to tell him how vulnerable she could be, but knew that would be very stupid. She wanted to kiss him again but knew that would be even more stupid. So she settled for a grunt and walked away.
He didn’t follow, and as she reached the dunes, she felt an unexpected twinge of disappointment. Could this man be the one? Nah. Still, preoccupied by this novel notion, she decided to skip the police station and go straight home. As she turned into her condominium parking lot, the obvious question finally occurred to her. What the hell is Rancor Bass doing naked on the beach in the middle of the night?
Wild Rose Press: https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/5533-the-pit-and-the-passion-murder-at-the-ghost-hotel.html
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-pit-and-the-passion-m-s-spencer/1127750685?ean=2940158925351
About the Author
Although M. S. Spencer has lived or traveled in five of the seven continents, the last thirty years were spent mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, policy wonk, non-profit director, and parent. After many years in academia, she worked for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Department of the Interior, in several library systems, both public and academic, and at the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
Ms. Spencer has published eleven romantic suspense novels, and has two more in utero. She has two fabulous grown children and an incredible granddaughter. She divides her time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.
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