Pirates, Puritans, propaganda, and princes—pieces of the puzzle in the whirlwind romance between a beautiful jelly maker and a mysterious castaway.
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 growing my own food. We planted apple, plum, peach, fig, hazelnut, and cherry trees; gooseberries, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries; all kinds of vegetables, including an ill-fated attempt to grow artichokes; and finally, lots and lots of herbs. I built a formal herb garden and planted thyme, lovage, rosemary, chives, tarragon, sage, and lemon balm. 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, I had to do something or it would take over the entire acre.
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 whole summers working up recipes for herb jellies. It was great fun. Despite the fact that I’m not really fond of jelly, they made excellent Christmas gifts.
When I started writing Whirlwind Romance, I thought about what my heroine, Lacey Delahaye, would do for a living. She lives alone in Florida, her one grown son. What could she do? I thought of the innumerable ecosystems in Florida, from pine uplands, to coastal plains, to palm hammocks—all of which are host to many wild fruits, most of which can be made into jelly. Ah hah! She’d be a jelly maker.
For fun, I added the recipes to each chapter. I hope you enjoy them as much as you do Lacey and Armand’s love story.
In the aftermath of a hurricane, Lacey Delahaye finds herself marooned on an island off the Florida coast with a mysterious man. Before he can confess his identity, they are kidnapped and taken to a tiny island in the western Caribbean. In a story laced with adventure and romance, Lacey encounters pirates, power-mad ideologues, and palace intrigue, not to mention the advances of three men, only one of whom she loves.
One of Lacey’s Recipes: Passionfruit Jelly
Passionfruit is a woody vine with strange, yet beautiful flowers. It grows in humid tropical lowlands. Ripening in the fall, the round fruit about the size of a plum is either golden or dark purple.
5 lbs passionfruit for 2 cups juice
2 oz. water
Halve the fruits and scoop out filling. In a blender, quick pulse for a couple of seconds. Strain the juice. Repeat procedure 2-3 times, thinning with water if necessary, until juice is clear.
2 cups juice
1 ¾ cups water
7 ½ cups sugar
6 oz. (2 packets) liquid pectin
Combine juice, water and sugar in a large pot. Bring to a full, rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Add liquid pectin. Remove from the heat, skim off any foam and pour into hot, sterilized jars leaving 1/4 inch space between the jelly and rim of the jar. Upend jars and leave 5 minutes, then turn right side up and tighten lids.
Makes 4 pints.
Excerpt from Whirlwind Romance: Slipping Briskly
The full moon shone through the window, illuminating Lacey’s nodding head. Armand touched her cheek. “I think it’s your bedtime.”
Stung, she shot back, “I’m taking care of you, remember?”
He held up a hand. “Sorry! I’d forgotten.” After a moment, he asked, his tone diffident, “Can you help me up?”
Lacey put an arm around his back and together they limped to Crispin’s room. She took his pants and shirt off and folded them neatly. As she turned to leave, he touched her arm. “Stay a minute?”
How could she admit she had to get out of there quickly or she wouldn’t be able to go at all? His handsome face—the strong chin covered with stubble, the pearly teeth contrasting with his tan skin, not to mention the long, graceful fingers he held out to her—all conspired to lure her closer. Her heart led the way, propelling her to his side. She sat down. “What is it?”
Her body tensed as desire fought to get out, and she fought just as hard to keep it in. I have to go. I have to…go. “What?”
His words came out in a rush. “Lacey, the other day—the first night—when you rescued me. When we…we…”
Don’t say it. Don’t say it. Christ.
“I…uh…want you to know I don’t do that on a regular basis.”
His air of shy ambivalence gave her courage. “I see. You don’t have sex on a regular basis?”
“No, no, it’s not that.” He stopped, flustered. “Er, I mean… I don’t sleep with women indiscriminately.”
Should she let him off the hook? Nah. “But you do sleep with a lot of women?”
“No! Lacey, you’re being difficult on purpose. I meant, that I didn’t mean to…you know. It just happened. Forgive me?”
Armand interrupted her. “Not that it wasn’t enjoyable.” He seemed distracted, running a finger down her arm. “Wonderful. Fantastic. Too short.” He peered at her. “Lacey, you must know how beautiful you are. You have the most perfect cheekbones I’ve ever seen.”
“Cheekbones?” What the hell is he talking about?
“I’m an amateur photographer. Those cheekbones could belong to a supermodel. Perfectly sculpted. And your nose…” He tapped the tip. “A little pixie nose. It even turns up slightly. Your long, fine hair is the russet-gold of burnished copper pots I once saw piled high in a shop on Martinique. Your eyes…” He closed his. “Your eyes are the blue-green of a freshly mowed cricket field, of the emeralds that grow deep in the mountains, of the lagoon near my home on a blustery day.” He touched her hand. “Then there’s your body—as I remember it—a soft, comfortable, pillowy—”
“Hey!” Lacey shook her head to break the spell. “I think you’ve said enough. Get some sleep.”
She tried to rise, but he slipped his arms around her and drew her close. She wanted to struggle. She tried to struggle. It was no use. The long kiss filled her with a warmth that matched a fire on a cold night, a cup of cocoa, or a hot bath. When he lay back, the warmth turned to blazing passion. The power of it frightened her. I’ve got to go. She ran out of the room before he could stop her.
About the Author
Librarian, anthropologist, Congressional aide, speechwriter—M. S. Spencer has traveled the globe. She has published fourteen romantic suspense or murder mystery novels, with two more on the way. 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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