Welcome

Come on and join author Melissa Bradley as she sets off on her latest adventure...

WARNING

If you are not 18, please exit stage left. While there is normally nothing naughty here, I do write and review erotica so there are links to spicy stuff and the occasional heated excerpt.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

BOO!! It's All Hallow's Eve


At last, at last it's All Hallow's Eve, Halloween, Samhain for all my Celtic and Wiccan friends out there. Time for trick or treating, scary movies, haunted houses, ghost stories and fun with family and friends. So get your monster on and have a great time.

Samhain, pronounced 'sa uin, is the Celtic festival marking the end of the lighter half of the year and the beginning of the darker one. It also is a time to celebrate the dead, as certain Celtic traditions hold that the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest, allowing the dead to cross back into the living world they once inhabited. It is the custom in some areas of Ireland and Scotlnd to set a place for the dead at the Samhain feast.

Bonfires played an important part, with people and their livestock walking between two fires as a purification ritual. With the bonfires lit, in some villages all other fires were extinguished, to be re-lit from these communal fires.

Samhain is also the Celtic New Year and divination was considered a primary part of the celebration. Seasonal foods, apples and nuts, were used to determine one's future spouse, state of marriage, how many children and location of future home. An apple was peeled and the peel tossed over the shoulder to see if the first letter of one's future spouse could be determined. Unsure about your marriage? Nuts were roasted in the the heart and their movements watched.If they stayed together,then so would the couple. Egg whites were dropped in a glass of water and the shapes interpreted to see the number of children a couple would have.

Masks were worn to ward off evil spirits. Masks would hide the identity of the living and keep them safe from the evil spirits that had crossed over. In Scotland, young men wore veiled or blackened faces and dressed in white to impersonate the dead.

In celebration of my favorite night of the year, I'm giving away a free download of my latest story, an erotic menage tale called Maxie Briscoe: Werewolf. This is erotic, so if you're NOT 18, DO NOT ENTER. To enter, simply leave a comment. I'll post the winner here tomorrow. Here's a little excerpt...

Synopsis

The name's Maxie Briscoe and I am a werewolf…

That’s right, a real live, full moon-loving, Halloween icon. It’s hard out here for girl like me. To survive, I hide my true self and act the part of a normal human, all while discreetly indulging the Beast within. Talk about walking a narrow ledge. And that’s not even the worst part. Sex is. You see I can bench press a pick-up truck and that spells disaster in the bedroom. You can’t have any real fun knowing you might accidentally crush a lover while in the throes. Kind of kills the mood.

When a friend’s murder shatters the careful existence I’ve carved out, I come face to face with Damien and Noah, two of the hottest men I’ve ever laid eyes on. They are also the first werewolves I’ve run across since my conversion. The attraction is instant, but complicated, the sex… explosive.

Too bad there’s a killer out there with his sights on me …

Excerpt

Here's Maxie looking for a little fun at the club with her friend


I scan the crowd, checking for some possible action. Men are
like parts of a cow, really. First you have your obvious top
sirloin—men who are cut and fit, with lots of stamina, confidence
and great personality. Then you got your round steak—guys who
can keep up, but are a little too much on the beta side of things.
Rump roasts are your basic teddy bears…cute geeks and others
who’ll let you do whatever you want to them because they can’t
believe they’re going home with you. Finally, you got your ground
chuck. You know the type: total dorks, octopuses, Hoovers who
suck your face off when they kiss. These are guys you don’t even
want to think about until you’ve had four or five shots of tequila
and a Jagermeister chaser.

My eyes alight on two definite cuts of sirloin.

“Oh. My. Gawd. Would you look at the guns on that one?”

Tori’s high-pitched tones shock my ears like turning on the
radio after forgetting the volume is set on high. She is looking right
at one of my targets, damn her. A low, territorial growl rumbles in
my throat.

“Easy, Max.” Drea touches my arm, the gesture helping me
rein in my baser urge to shove Tori into the nearest wall as I
assert the fact that I have first dibs. Did I mention my dominance
issues? I turn to glare at my friend, only to see her little sister move
forward out of the corner of my eye. The little bitch.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Favorite Horror Authors




I talked about my favorite scary movies,now I'm going to talk about my favorite horror writers. These guys paint chilling, vivid, blood-curdling images with their words. no f/x masters here, only a keyboard or pen and paper. I double dog dare any of you out there to read one of their stories and not be afraid of every noise you hear in the night.

Stephen King - What can I say about a man who is responsible for a lot of my nightmares? My werewolf fixation started with his "Cycle of the Werewolf". I kept looking twice at the grumpy priest in my church. Salem's Lot had me terrified of my dad's home town, but the worst for me was The Girl Who loved Tom Gordon. I do not like the woods and I had such a hard time getting through this book. I own it, but refuse to read it ever again. He is terrifying to me because he works on your mind, he takes normal people and breaks them down like a maniacal crew attacking stage sets.

Rick R. Reed - Oh my God, can we say hide under the covers and never come out? King breaks people, but Reed stomps them into quivering little bits under his crazed boot heels. Do not read Penance after dark, I'm warning you. It is horrifying because it has it's basis in the harsh realities of street life. Every page I wanted to stop, but couldn't. I was put through the wringer, at times scared, other times uncomfortable, sometimes angry. In the Blood is a twisted, heart-pounding vampire tale that makes you remember in these days of sparkly blood suckers that vamps are indeed monsters. His most recent, Blue Moon Cafe, ramps up the terror with werewolves. I read this in the daylight and you should, too. Rick Reed knows how to get into the minds of monsters both human and non.

Caitlin Kiernan - Holy hell can this chick bring on some serious monsters. After I read Silk, I was jumping at shadows. She subverts reality and twists it into unrecognizable images. The Red Tree left me with a creepy dread feeling for days after that I just couldn't shake. Man, did I have the nightmares.

Edgar Allen Poe - No one spins a nightmarish tale better than this man. His prose defines madness and suffering. "The Cask of Amontillado", "The Tell-Tale Heart", "The Fall of the House of Usher", all give me the shivers. I cannot read them at night.

Shirley Jackson - This woman reaches deep inside and knows what terrifies you the most. Best haunted house story of all time, The Haunting of Hill House. I had a hard time sleeping in my room after this one. Every sound echoed a thousand times louder. "The Lottery" made me want to avoid small towns forever.

Clive Barker - His novellas and short stories are insanely gruesome and demented. I had a tough time getting through the Books of Blood, both volumes. He creates such terrifying and twisted realms that you feel like you're going crazy right along with the protagonists.

These authors make my blood run cold and send me running to turn on every light. Who are some of your faves?

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Favorite Scary Movies


As the night of my annual Fright Fest approaches I thought I'd take some time to share my favorite scary movies with you. Some are genuinely scary to me, others are good for some jumps and looks under the bed, while still others are pure fun. Drum roll...

Halloween - There's nothing like the John Carpenter original. This was one of the first grown-up scary movies I saw and it still works on my inner ten year old who's scared of the boogie man.

30 Days of Night - I love this vampire flick because it makes me jump every time I watch it and I always get a bit creeped out by Danny Huston and those enormous teeth and nails.

The Exorcist -Demonic possession is one thing that squicks me and this one really got to me when I first saw it as a teen.

28 Days Later - Danny Boyle created a zombie masterpiece with this one.

The Strangers - There's something about killers with no rhyme or reason, just because they could.

Night of the Living Dead - This one is one my very favorites..."They're coming to get you, Barbara" Can't enough of those shuffling, ravenous zombies. I love you George Romero.

A Nightmare on Elm Street - Freddy Krueger rules. Sorry Jackie Earle, but I love my Robert Englund. Not to mention we have Johnny Depp disappearing in a bed of blood.

The Howling - This has to be one of the best werewolf movies, ever. It has my ultimate all time transformation scene, too. Robert Picardo is a bubbling, stretching mess.

John Carpenter's The Thing - Kurt Russell fights an alien that can be anybody or anything at a remote science station in the Antarctic. One by one they are consumed.

Scream - Man this one had me going. That opening kill sequence was scary good.

Army of Darkness - Bruce Campbell has no equal. This movie rocks.

Let the Right One In - The scariest kiddie vamp ever. The two kids blew me away.


The Descent - An all female cast rocks this Neil Marshall classic about flesh-eaters and dark, tiny places.


Mary Shelley's Frankenstein - Kenneth Branagh created a gloomy, horrifying vision that really captured the essence of the novel.

Dog Soldiers - A werewolf classic that provides some great humor and heart-pounding action.

Friday the 13th - The original one with the ultimate killer bitch, Mrs. Voorhees, plus Kevin Bacon getting sliced and diced.

The Haunting - An old school haunted house story that gives me the chills. Based on the incredible Shirley Jackson story.

Alien - I jumped about ten feet the first time I ever saw this movie. "In space, no one can hear you scream..."

Child's Play - For sheer laughs, nothing beats a murderous doll with a foul mouth.

Wicked Little Things - Kiddie zombies terrorize a creepy Pennsylvania town. Awesome!

These are only some of my faves, ones I've watched several times. They will make an awesome addition to any scary movie night. What are some of your faves? I'm always up for a movie.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Favorite Chicago Ghost Stories


Chicago is one hell of a haunted town, let me tell you. We've got ghosts, spirits, spooks and other lost souls wandering all over the place around here. I'm going to share with you some of my favorites.

Haunted Road

Archer Avenue is an old Indian trail and can be very otherworldly in some places. One of those is the stretch near Resurrection Cemetery. Here we have the ghost of a young woman who has come to be known the world over as Resurrection Mary. No one knows who she really was or if her name was even Mary, but the story is this...

In the 1930's motorists driving near the cemetery began reporting sightings of a young woman in a white dress who would appear along the roadside then vanish. Some even reported she attempted to jump on the running boards of their cars. Then accounts began to move further away from the graveyard toward the O'Henry Ballroom which is now the Willowbrook. People claimed to see her on the road there and even inside the ballroom where young men reportedly asked her dance, then would offer her a ride home. She would give directions for north along Archer Avenue, then vanish as the car reached the gates of the cemetery. More harrowing accounts are those of motorists who have claimed to "run over" a young woman in white as jumped out in front of their car. When they get out, she's gone. It's always the same description, a young woman, light blonde hair, blue eyes and in a white party dress.

No one knows for sure who Mary really was. Some say she was Mary Bregovy, a young woman killed in a car accident in 1934 and buried in Resurrection cemetery. But she does not resemble the specter and her accident took place on Wacker Drive, not Archer Avenue. Still others say she's Mary Miskowski, who was struck and killed in October 1930 on her way to a costume party. More recently, Ursula Bielski, has attributed Mary to Anna Marija Norkus, who died in a car accident in 1927 on her way home from the O Henry Ballroom.

We may never know who Mary really was, but sightings of her persist. I love her and hope to see her every time I drive along Archer Avenue. So far, nothing, but I'll keep you posted.

The Red Lion Pub

As a student at DePaul University, I had an occasion or two to visit the Red Lion pub on Lincoln Avenue. This is purportedly the most haunted tavern in Chicago. Some of odd happenings here include a sensation of dizziness when passing by the stained glass window over the stairway. This is followed by the sense of someone standing there with them. The strong scent of lavender is attributed to the spirit of a young retarded girl who died in the building. Other spirits include a strong presence in the ladies' restroom, a man in cowboy clothing, a man who walks upstairs from the downstairs bar, a bearded man in a black hat and a blond-haired man. I've been to this place a lot and one night I thought I smelled lavender, but it may have been the ale and the discussion working on my brain. I prefer to think that I did have my own haunting.

Bachelor Grove Cemetery

This is undeniably the most haunted place in the Chicago area and probably the Midwest. This little abandoned graveyard off the Midlothian Turnpike, is the sight of glowing balls, a young boy's spirit, a woman who walks in the moonlight carrying her baby, a farmer with a horse and plow, a vanishing farmhouse and phantom cars along the road leading to the cemetery.

This poor little graveyard has been the sight of wanton destruction that includes toppling over grave markers and digging up bodies. Bones were sometimes seen strewn around the cemetery. Signs of occult activity in this place includes carvings on the trees, painted symbols on the graves themselves and on the ground. Deep gouges and other evidence of digging can be seen on the graves as well.

People have attempted to film here as recently as 2007 when Troy Taylor and the crew from the show "Cringe" visited. Their digital footage was inexplicably distorted. No one can get a good reception in here. I've been to this area once and could not make myself go past the "No Trespassing" sign that blocks the way a half mile from the cemetery. One day I am determined to go inside, though.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Halloween Treats

Looking for scare-ific treats to serve for your Halloween party? Here's some things I love to serve at my annual Fright Fest. They're fun, look interesting and are pretty healthy as I am a diabetic.



Apple Bites from Family Fun Magazine

Ingredients: Apples (I like to use Granny Smith, Rome and Pink Lady), slivered almonds

1. Quarter and core apples

2. Cut a wedge from the skin side of each quarter

3. Stick in slivered almonds for teeth




Melon Brain from Family Fun Magazine

Ingredients: 1 small seedless watermelon

You'll Need: Vegetable peeler, paring knife, wooden skewer

1. Peel the green outer rind exposing the inner white rind

2. Slice off a piece from the bottom so you have flat surface to balance the melon

3. Using the skewer, score the melon in half, for 2 sides of the brain

4. Then trace squiggly lines and furrows to look like folds of the brain

5. Using the paring knife, carve channels along the traced furrows to expose the pink

Hope you enjoy these tasty, healthy and horrifically-good treats.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Get Your Monster On: Zombies


Today I want to talk about zombies. Zombies have been woven into our popular culture, inhabiting books, films, video games, etc. We know them best as re-animated, brain-eating corpses, but did you also know that they are human beings controlled by another through the use of magic? It's time to get your monster on and discover what you may or may not know about these creatures as well as where they come from.

Stories of zombies originated in western culture through the West African spiritual tradition of voodoo. A dead person may be revived by a bokor or sorcerer and they remain under the bokor's control because they have no will of their own. These re-animated beings are used as laborers, carrying out the sorcerer's commands.

The bokor captures the zombi astral, a part of the human soul. He or she uses this to enhance their power.The zombi astral is kept inside a bottle and the bokor may sell this to a client for luck, business success and healing. Eventually, God does take the soul back so the zombi is only temporary.

Feeding salt to a zombie will make it return to the grave.

Zombi is also another name for the Vodou snake Iwa Damballah Wedo.

In 1937 Zora Neale Hurston was researching Haitian folklore when she encountered the case of Felicia Felix-Mentor, a woman who had died in 1907. She mysteriously re-appeared in her village.

In 1985 Wade Davis, a Harvard ethnobotanist, wrote The Serpent and the Rainbow, one of two books presenting his case for a pharmacological reason behind zombies. In 1982 he traveled to Haiti and as a result of his research, claimed that a living person could be turned into a zombie using two powders delivered directly into the blood stream. The first is a neurotoxin, tetrodotoxin (TTX), found in the flesh of the pufferfish. The second powder consists of a dissociative drug like datura. These powders together supposedly produce a death-like state leaving the person under the total control of the bokor. Davis encountered a man named Clairvius Narcisse, who claims to have survived such a state. Though this theory was dismissed in the scientific community, it spawned a 1988 Wes Craven film titled The Serpent and the Rainbow.

These magic, drug-induced zombies populated books like 1929's The Magic Island by W.B. Seabrook. Time magazine credits this novel with introducing zombie into the American lexicon.

Bela Lugosi starred in 1932's White Zombie, a film directed by Victor Halperin which features Lugosi as an evil magician with an army of zombie henchmen.This is considered the first legitimate zombie flick.

Another interesting tidbit about zombies comes from South Africa. In some communities there, people believe that a dead person can be turned into a zombie by a small child. The spell is so powerful that it can only be broken by a very strong sangoma or shaman.

So how about our beloved brain-eaters?

Well, they make their first appearance in the 1950's in EC Comics' Tales from the Crypt in stories such as H.P. Lovecraft's "Herbert West-Reanimator". One of the most seminal works is Richard Matheson's 1954 novel I Am Legend about a futuristic Los Angeles overrun with undead. Although this is technically a vampire story, it heavily influenced the zombie genre by way of George A. Romero. The vampires in the story are the result of a worldwide contagion, a theme that dominates zombie films and literature.

Other zombie theories put forth around this time include alien technology (Plan 9 from Outer Space-1958) and mad science (Creature with the Atom Brain-1955). Invisible Invaders (1959) shows zombies being the result of alien possession.

It was not until a little film called Night of the Living Dead (1968) that we get our first look at the flesh-eating, brain-chomping zombies we know and love. This film broke all taboos and really frightened people. Though it offers little in the way of actual explanation for the rise of the zombies, it is one of the most influential works on the concept of zombies. This Romerian blend of zombie and vampire results in a monster that breaks down society and signals the end of life as we know it. And yet, they are not referred to as zombies, the news reports in the film call them ghouls. Romero doesn't call them zombies until his script for 1978's Dawn of the Dead.

Romero's zombies are slow-moving, shuffling creatures that overwhelm with numbers like a swarm. To destroy them, you have to shoot them in the head, then burn the corpses. Pretty simple when you're armed to the teeth and deal with them one on one.

In 1981, Hell of the Living Dead is the first film to portray a zombie apocalypse as the result of a mutagenic gas.

The concept of zombies craving brains comes from 1985's Return of the Living Dead, a horror comedy, where the zombies utter the word "brains" and proceed to chomp on people's skulls.

Zombies undergo a radical shift in the new millennium with films like Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later (2002), Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead (2004)remake and Zombieland, we see the zombie break out of the shuffling, listless undead mode and into highly mobile killing machines. These newer, faster zombies are still killed in the traditional way, bullet to the brain. Only now you need to be more heavily armed and in much better physical shape if you're going to survive.

In 1989, with the publication of the anthology, Book of the Dead, zombies officially became their own subgenre of literature. These stories are all united by the premise first seen Romero's films about zombies being the result of a worldwide infestation. These stories are the various reactions to that outbreak. The stories are authored by the likes of Stephen King, Richard Laymon and Chan Varney. Three years later, Still Dead: Book of the Dead II came out. 2003's The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks details ways for the average, ordinary citizen to survive zombie uprisings including chapter entitled Weapons and Combat Techniques, On the Run and Living in an Undead World.

Video games have also given rise to some truly terrifying zombies. House of the Dead by Sega and the Resident Evil series from Capcom all feature a fight to survive against hordes of undead that are fast and strong with huge appetites.Both spawned film versions with Evil becoming a successful franchise while House is generally panned.

Zombies are the hottest monster going right now and don't appear to be stopping. I suggest we all stock up on rifles, ammo, gasoline and non-perishables. It's going to be a hell of a ride.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Countdown Begins...


"It's the most wonderful time of the year..."

12 more days til Halloween, kids so let's get this party started. I plan on having an awesome time over the next couple of weeks. Stop by and see what I have cooking every day in celebration of this most awesome of days.There will be monsters, haunted houses, ghosts, serial killers, a regular fright fest leading up to the Big Day.

Here's a little bit of history about my favorite holiday...

Halloween or All Hallows Eve is an ancient holiday. It is linked to the Celtic Festival of Samhain, meaning summer's end. It is a harvest festival marking the end of the lighter half of the year and the start of the darker half. The Celts believed the veil between this world and the next was at its thinnest, allowing spirits, both benign and evil to pass through. The good spirits, usually one's ancestors, were honored, while the evil ones were to be warded off. Hence, the use of masks and costumes.

Black and orange are the colors associated with Halloween. Orange for the color of the bonfires and black for darkness and death.

Trick or treating is related to the medieval practice of souling, when poor folks would go door-to-door begging food on Hallowmas (Nov. 1) receiving food in exchange for prayers for the dead on All Soul's Day (Nov. 2. It's believed to have originated in Britain and Ireland, though there were similar practices found as far south as Italy. Trick-or-treating did not become widespread in the US until the 1930's.

That bright grinning Jack O'Lantern originated in Ireland when people would carve out turnips and put candles inside to ward off the spirits and ghosts.Pumpkins are easier to carve, though, wouldn't you say? A turnip seems a bit small. Jack O'Lantern comes from a tale about a man name Jack who tricked the Devil.Unable to enter Heaven or Hell after his death, he was doomed to wander the earth and to keep evil spirits from finding him he placed a piece of coal in carved out turnip and used it as a lantern.

Did you know that Halloween is the second most commercially successful holiday after Christmas? We're coming for you, Claus.

Halloween candy sales average about 2 billion dollars annually in the US. 2 billion?! That's a lot of candy corn.

Snickers bars are the number 1 candy bar for trick-or-treating. Darn, I thought it was those scrumptious little Kit Kats.

Well, that's all for now, but I'll be back tomorrow with more scary good fun.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Maxie Briscoe: Werewolf Gets Awesome Review



Hello and Happy Monday!!

I received some stupendously fantastic news. My book, Maxie Briscoe:Werewolf garnered high praise from Miranda at Joyfully Reviewed. To read her excellent review please go here.

I also wanted to tell you that it is 13 days until my national holiday, Halloween, and I am preparing a fantastic fun time for you all here at The Imaginarium. Monsters, ghosts, demons, serial killers, etc will all be making an appearance here. I'm going to share my traditions, Halloween fun facts and have a contest or two. I'm looking forward to celebrating the most wonderful time of the year.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I'm At Romance Junkies Today


Happy Friday!!! I'm really excited because I am guest blogging over at Romance Junkies today. Come on over and find out some details you may or may not have known about me. I'm also sharing an excerpt from Maxie Briscoe: Werewolf. Here's the link

http://www.romancejunkies.com/rjblog/

Looking forward to seeing you there.

Monday, October 11, 2010

100 Whores by Mykola Dementiuk...A Review


I approached this with a bit of trepidation, knowing that Dementiuk’s writing can be unflinching, his subject matter tending toward the underside of human life that no one likes to talk about. No one would ever accuse him of soft-coating anything. The prose here is brutally honest and lean. Descriptions are visual and economic. Demetiuk does not waste his words and his style evokes Hemingway in some passages. Some of these vignettes made me cringe, some made my jaw drop, yet others had me laughing rather uncomfortably. Still, I had to keep reading. There is almost a compulsive spell that is cast on the first page and I found myself along for the entire strange, uneasy, yet thoroughly engaging ride.

100 Whores is part memoir, part anthology and wholly in-your-face. It features one hundred vignettes covering one man’s sexual adventures in New York’s East Village during the 1960’s and 70’s. These little tales document his search for pleasure and the multitude of characters he meets on this quest.

Whores also contains five original short stories about strange, opportunistic sexual encounters. In The Dildo, we delve into the mind of a young hooker plying her trade as she baits an older man, then leads him into a sex shop. The Trouble with Girls features a man in an encounter with two transvestites. Cry Baby is kind of a Serlingesque tale about a guy who gets involved in a weird sex game when he’s approached by a woman claiming to need “help” from a boyfriend who’s stalking her. In Girlfriends, two teens sneak into a porn theater and have an unexpected sexual encounter with a man who has peculiar fetishes. The Girl on the Cardboard is dark short that tells of a man who encounters two lesbians in the park, in which one partner pimps out the other.

In the novella, The Christmas Whore, a man fights with his girlfriend and finds himself back on the streets very early on Christmas morning. At a twenty-four cafĂ© he encounters a woman named Sunny. After a quick fling in a cheap hotel, he takes her back to the apartment he shares with his girlfriend. When she comes home and walks in on the two of them, it’s an O’Henry-like ending that is unbelievably twisted.

This is definitely not for readers who prefer their love and sex with happily ever afters or even warm cozy houses and apartments. Many would be turned off by the title alone. However, if you are interested in catching a glimpse of the seedy side of people, to walk in a world that hardly ever sees the light of day, then I urge you read 100 Whores. It is a powerful and unforgettable reading experience.

Mykola Dementiuk is a Lambda award-winning author. If you would like to know more about him and his thought-provoking works, please visit his website.

For more information and to purchase 100 Whores, please go here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Lost In His Arms by M S Spencer...A Review


Red Rose Publishing
Mainstream Contemporary Action Adventure M/F

61,150 words e-book
ISBN 978-1-60435-357-0

In the chaotic world of the early 1990's, political writer Chloe Gray is going through a creative crisis as she struggles with her column and her book. Enter Michael Keller, a CIA operative. He walks into her life under the most mundane of circumstance and the sparks fly between them, awakening Chloe to new possibilities. Every encounter is hotter than the last, leaving her weak and longing for more, yet Michael's work keeps him away from her for longer and longer periods. When he disappears while working in Vietnam, she meets Emile, a French diplomat.

Emile is debonair and sophisticated, attentive to her needs. He can give Chloe everything she's ever wanted, especially the security she's always craved. When he proposes, she finds herself at a crossroads. Postponing things with Emile, Chloe embarks on a search to find Michael, to confront him about their relationship. Her search plunges her smack into his world, in the middle of a cat and mouse game between two Mid-East powers where both their lives hang in the balance.

Spencer deftly weaves together the genres of romance and political thriller, setting it all against the backdrop of pre-Clinton DC. She takes the reader behind the scenes of political journalism, giving them a glimpse into the press corp and the back door dealings. Bush the First's Washington is realized in vivid detail as Chloe navigates the stories of the day; the Middle East, Vietnam's re-emergence and the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

Chloe is by turns interesting and irritating, but she is always genuine, a hallmark of Spencer's heroines. She comes to life on the pages under this author's skillful hands. Her flaws make her very relatable and I found myself rooting for her as she tried to put her life back together after each encounter with Michael. She is in love with a phantom, someone who disappears and reappears at random moments in her life. I felt for her, trying to hold on to essentially a dream. Chloe is spirited and intelligent, unafraid to go after what she wants.

With nothing in Michael's point of view, we are left to relate to him only through the brief times he drops in on Chloe's life. He talks about duty, but there is no insight into what drove him to espionage. Which frustrated me more than a few times and I wanted him to go away. On the other hand, I do love the way he treats Chloe when he's with her. In these scenes he is clearly head -over-heels and it's at these moments where I cave, and want things to all work out. By contrast, Emile is almost an open book. His relationship with his parents, his career, his affections for Chloe all provide clear motivation for all his actions. I understand Chloe's torture when she has to ultimately choose between them.

The relationship between Michael and Chloe is electric. The moments they are together are magical little vignettes out of time. I wanted them to go on. However,they spend the majority of the book apart, which lends little credence to them developing a working relationship beyond the physical.

Ms. Spencer's descriptions are lush and paint a picture in the mind's eye. We are right there with her characters, roasting in the DC heat, we can smell the bar in Spain, hear the traffic in Paris. Her love of food and wine shines through as well. There are several dishes here that I would love to try.

This book has a solid, original storyline that is a bit more mainstream than romance in my opinion, but its romance elements are hot. I got caught up with Chloe and Michael. Fans of political thrillers should thoroughly enjoy this. There's exceptional dialogue and a cast of wonderful secondary characters that will leave readers wanting more.

To buy Lost In His Arms, click here.

For more information about M S Spencer and her works, please visit her website www.meredithellsworth.com.