Thursday teaser: Wildfire

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Read this mystery excerpt to find out how you could win a free e-copy of the acclaimed novel

By Scott Bury

Wildfire: Wine Country Mystery #1 by Scott Bury

Roberto and Tara returned to the group standing beside their trucks. “There’s no gas and not much to eat or places to stay here,” Roberto said. “And the old-timer at the gas station says the 101 is closed north of Santa Rosa. That explains why Alan’s not here—he got caught on the other side of the highway after it closed.”

“Then why isn’t he calling us to let us know?” Nicole demanded, panic in her voice. 

“Cell service is out,” said Greg, holding up his phone. “I have no bars.”

Nicole had her phone in her hand, and she hit the screen to try calling again. Tears cut through the ash and soot on her face as she paced, waiting for an answer. “Dammit,” she muttered when the error tone sounded. 

“Let’s find somewhere to clean up,” Toby suggested. “Maybe get some water, something to eat?”

“Alan told me he knows the owner of a hotel around here,” Roberto said. “Nicole, do you know it?” 

Nicole did not answer, just shook her head, staring at the phone in her hand. 

“The man at the gas station said there was a hotel across the river. There can’t be that many in this town,” Tara said. 

“Let’s check it out,” Roberto agreed. The two of them set off across the narrow steel bridge. Tara looked at the river flowing below. Water—that’s the key. I wonder if the river is much lower than normal. I can see a lot of rocks. Maybe it is. 

“That must be it there,” said Roberto, pointing to a brown wooden building with a big “Hotel” sign on top.

“Wasn’t that hard to find after all.”

The hotelier was a large man with a white beard and a slight German accent. Wide eyes looked at Roberto and Tara over his reading glasses. “Twenty-three? Well, sure, but you’ll have to share. We have a bunch of writers here already, but they’re pretty quiet.”

“Great,” said Roberto. “I’ll bring them. I have a business credit card—”

The hotelier held up a hand. “No charge for fire refugees.”

“Really? No, we can’t—”

“Really. I can’t take money for helping out in a disaster.”

Tara and Roberto returned to the group, who all looked unhappy and guilty. “Where’s Nicole?” Roberto demanded.

“She took off,” Rosa answered, looking down the road they had come. “She jumped in her car and went to find Alan.”

“What? Why didn’t you stop her?”

“We tried,” said Toby. “She wouldn’t listen. She kept phoning him and crying, and said she couldn’t stand waiting any longer. What could we do, tie her up?”

“Yes!” Roberto’s face was flushed, his nostrils flaring. “It’s way too dangerous to go back.” He ran toward the Ford, calling orders over his shoulder. “Go to the hotel—you’ll see it from the bridge. It’s all arranged.”

As he opened the truck door, Tara was at the passenger side. “I’m coming with you.” She opened the door and Charlie startled her by jumping in and moving to the back seat.

Roberto did not argue with either of them. 

When they had left Monte Rio behind, Tara asked, “If the highways are closed, how are you going to get back to the winery?”

“There’s more than one way there. I know a lot of backroads.”

“Does Nicole?”

“If she doesn’t, she’ll end up back at Monte Rio.”

“Does Alan know them?”

“Better than I do.”

“So he could be on his way there, now, and could miss Nicole.”

“Could be.” Roberto’s eyes remained focused on the winding road, his hands tight on the wheel.

“Do you really think he’s okay?”

Roberto did not answer.

About Wildfire

Wildfires swept across California wine country in 2017, destroying thousands of homes and businesses and killing dozens of people. Law school grad and single mother Tara Rezeck finds herself in the middle of the catastrophe. She has to evacuate with the rest of of the staff of Sonoma’s most award-winning winery. When she returns, she finds her employer’s body in the ashes.

The question that challenges her brains and her legal training is: was it an accident? Or was his body burned to hide evidence of murder?

Win a free copy of this acclaimed e-book, signed by the author. Leave your answer to the following question in the Comments section below.

What is the name of the winery where Tara and Roberto work?

Hint: Check the Look Inside feature on Amazon.

Scott Bury

can’t stay in one genre. After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction. “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s story, came out in 2011, with all the proceeds going to an autism charity. Next was a paranormal short story for grown-ups, “Dark Clouds.”

The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, came out in 2012. It was followed in 2013 with One Shade of Red, an erotic romance.

He has written in the Lei Crime (Torn Roots, Palm Trees & Snowflakes, Dead Man Lying), Jet (Jet: Stealth) and Sydney Rye (The Wife Line) Kindle Worlds.

His latest work is a military memoir trilogy: Army of Worn Soles, Under the Nazi Heel and Walking Out of War.

His articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, he grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He holds a BA from Carleton University’s School of Journalism. He has two mighty sons, two pesky cats and a loving wife who puts up with a lot.

He is a recipient of Maclean Hunter’s Top 6 Award and a member of a team that won a Neal Award for business reporting.

Scott can be found:


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Monday musings: Fiction is often more believable than truth

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Maybe Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was right. Maybe life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man can invent.

You might as well write fiction.

Nobody believes the truth.

Why?

The truth often reads more like fiction than fiction does.

Just listen to the words of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:


Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive of the things, which are really mere commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city gently remove the roofs, and peep in at all the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chain of events, it would make all fiction with the conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.

There are stories taking place in real life that are too strange and bizarre to be believed, yet they are part of the historical fabric that makes up the comings and goings of the world at large.

Take Edgar Allan Poe, for example. He wrote a novel that fulfills every tenet of the author’s literary connection with horror. He called it The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, and it told the odd tale of four shipwreck survivors who drifted on the open sea in a lifeboat for many days without food.

Desperate, they made a pact among themselves.

They would draw straws.

The loser would die.

The loser would make several meals.

A cabin boy drew the wrong straw.

His name in fiction was Richard Parker.

The tale was chilling.

Edgar Allan Poe always claimed that the novel was based on a true story.

He was right.

But there was one problem.

The true story had not taken place yet.

It was forty-six years later before the Mignonette went down in ocean waters.

Four men survived.

Four men and lifeboat.

The days passed, and they made a fateful decision.

They would draw straws.

The loser would die.

They would eat the loser.

The cabin boy drew the wrong straw.

His name, ironically enough in truth, was Richard Parker.

The stars do align strangely sometimes.

Try this coincidence on for size.

Wilmer lived the gentleman life of a farmer on the road between two major cities while the storm clouds of the Civil War were boiling overhead.

To the North lay Washington, D. C.

That was where the Yankees had their capital.

To the South, the road led to Richmond.

It was controlled by Johnny Reb.

And Wilmer?

All he wanted to do was farm.

Bull Run was the battle that triggered the war, and it erupted along the road that ran right past Wilmer’s farmstead. The Confederates even confiscated his home and turned it into their headquarters.

Wilmer tried to hang around.

But the shots of war were coming too fast, too deadly, and too often.

Bullets were slowly tearing his house apart.

So, being of sound mind and body, Wilmer packed up and headed farther back into Virginia where, once again, he could find peace and a measure of solitude.

The sounds of war faded, then stopped altogether. He was beyond their reach.

But four years later, the Yankees of Ulysses S. Grant and the Johnny Rebs commanded by Robert E. Lee once again came to Wilmer’s farm.

Wilmer McLean watched Lee surrender his sword.

He watched the Confederates lay down their rifles.

He watched them ride away from the McLean House on the edge of Appomattox.

He watched a terrible war come to an end.

And he later remarked, “The war began in my front yard and ended in my front parlor.”

Try making somebody believe that in a novel.

Too contrite they would say.

We don’t believe in such coincidences, they would say.

But none of us can escape them.

Maybe Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was right. Maybe life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man can invent.

The writers of fiction would never dare to put these stories on paper.

Fear is the reason.

Fear of ridicule and humiliation.

I believe all writing of fiction based on a few facts and a little truth.

You can see how Caleb Pirtle III uses this principle in his contemporary thriller, Lovely Night to Die, available on Amazon.

Caleb Pirtle III

Caleb Pirtle III is the author of more than seventy books, including three noir thrillers in the Ambrose Lincoln series: Secrets of the DeadConspiracy of Lies, and Night Side of DarkSecretsand Conspiracy are now audiobooks on audible.com. The fourth book in the series, Place of Skulls, was released in 2017. Pirtle’s most recent project is the Boomtown Saga, including Back Side of a Blue Moon and Bad Side of a Wicked Moon.

Pirtle is a graduate of The University of Texas in Austin and became the first student at the university to win the National William Randolph Hearst Award for feature writing. Several of his books and his magazine writing have received national and regional awards.

Pirtle has also written three teleplays. His narrative nonfiction, Gamble in the Devil’s Chalk, is a true-life book about the fights and feuds during the founding of the controversial Giddings oilfield and From the Dark Side of the Rainbow, the story of a woman’s escape from the Nazis in Poland during World War II. His coffee-table quality book, XIT: The American Cowboy, became the publishing industry’s third best selling art book of all time.

Pirtle was a newspaper reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and served ten years as travel editor for Southern Living Magazine. He was editorial director for a Dallas custom publisher for more than twenty-five years.

Get to know Caleb through his

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Thursday teaser: The Dark

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Read this week’s horror excerpt to find out how you could WIN a free copy of the award winning novel

By David C. Cassidy

Lost in the blackness of the mine, Harmon Wyatt choked off a scream.

Those words hadn’t come from his cherished daughter. It was the song of her sweet voice that tugged at his heart, but it wasn’t her. It was an abomination.

Skulls stirred in the death pit below. They shifted listlessly, as if detached from their spines. Yet this was but illusion, for they were glowing, somehow pulsing to the rhythm of hearts long lost—indeed, the frontal bones of their craniums appeared semi-transparent, brimming with the darkest blood. Were this not enough to send him screaming, the skeletons began to rise, rattling bone on bone. Shrill scratching sounds turned his heart cold as their wretched fingers clawed at the ladder.

The dead were coming.

Human skulls rose, one by one. Canine skulls began to stir; their jaws began to open. Something snatched Harmon’s leg and yanked it out from under him. He toppled onto his back. The ceiling rock took the color of blood as skeletons emerged from the shaft. A long-dead hand clenched about his boot and dragged him toward the bone pit, yet all he saw was a pulsating skull hovering above his legs. It stared with barren black sockets, and it might have been grinning.

Harmon groaned as the creature crawled onto him. The skull was ice, its proximity burning the skin on his face. Before he knew it, he felt the wrench of thin, hard fingers around his throat. A second skeleton clawed its way up and was on him, pinning his legs.

He reached for a shovel. A dead hand thwarted him, slapping it aside. The shovel slid along the wall rock, and he caught the handle just in time. He brought his arm up and swung hard, hearing a satisfying clunk as the blade caught the skull directly above him. A second blow crushed its temporal bone and half its frontal. Incredibly, blood seeped from the cracks in the bone.

The grip on his throat eased, enough for him to steal a breath. He swung the shovel again and knocked the skeleton off of him. It stayed down.

Harmon struck the one that was pinning him. He thrashed at it like a wild man, driving it back. It rocked against another that was climbing from the winze, sending that one back into the shaft. He drove a boot into it, and it fell into the winze.

Another had come—a child’s skeleton—and Harmon jabbed at it with his foot. Relentless, it moved up and tried to claw at his face. He pounded it with a flurry of fists and it slipped back.

Three more emerged from the shaft, two of them crawling over the child. One crept up beside him, but he managed to fight if off with crushing blows to its skull. Blood splattered him.

Harmon rolled over. He crawled forward and let out a small cry as something snared his boot. He whacked that bony hand until it released him.

Somehow, he scrambled away and shot a glance over his shoulder. Glowing skulls illuminated the rock, their muted light growing as the things closed on him. Some of them had risen and were stalking him in step, shoving the crawlers aside in their thirst.

He got to his feet just as a canine skull carried past the crest of the shaft. One of the human skeletons had lifted the dog and had set it loose. A second dog-thing followed, and now it was after him.

Harmon fled, screaming into the dark. The water slowed his escape as he made his way to the crosscut. He recalled the way being straight and wide, but in his blind panic he stumbled over tool and rock and his old failing legs. He was running in a nightmare.

He heard them coming. Some of them had lost their footwear, the bones of their feet grating on the ore beneath them. Others scraped the wall rock with their fingers as they worked their way along.

It struck him: They were sharpening them.

About The Dark

2015 National IPBA Award Winner in Horror Fiction

2015 Readers’ Favorite Award Winner in Horror Fiction

4-time Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Selection

Pure Heart meets Pure Evil.

Award-winning author David C. Cassidy draws you into a realm of terror, a world unlike any other. With the inspired flair of Clive Barker and the pulse-pounding beat of Stephen King, The Dark will leave you breathless, reminding us all that for all we desire there is always a price, the currency in suffering and sacrifice. Brimming with insidious evil and a nerve-wracking pace that never lets up, this story will grab hold of your most primitive fears and crank them up to Warp 10—and won’t let go. 

It knows what you want.

It knows what you need.

In denial over his father’s death in a horrific accident, Kelan Lisk has grown fearful and withdrawn. For this meek and bullied child, a burning desire to tame a deadly sledding hill consumes him, drawing him inside a wondrous place where anything is possible … including his father. But as this strange new realm spills into this one, twisting an innocent little boy into an agent of evil, the world is forever changed, devoured by an even greater evil—the Dark. 

“Move over Stephen King and Dean Koontz … The Dark is everything that horror fiction fans want—scary, unsettling, relentless and so creepy that you will not want to read it at night.” — Charity Tober for Readers’ Favorite

“I haven’t enjoyed a horror novel this much since the early days of Stephen King’s work.” — Miss Lyn, Amazon Reviewer

“You can’t read this in the dark because the author has made it too real … this is horror at some of its finest.” — Samantha Colville for Readers’ Favorite

“The Dark compares with works of King and Koontz and is tremendously difficult to put down.” — Melinda Hills for Readers’ Favorite

Win a free copy

Name the mining town where The Dark takes place.
(Hint: Check in the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon. ) Click on Leave a Comment above and write the answer. Your answer will not show up until it has been approved by BestSelling Reads.

David C. Cassidy

Award-winning author David C. Cassidy is the twisted mind behind several chilling books of horror and suspense. An author, photographer, and graphic designer—and a half-decent juggler—he spends his writing life creating tales of terror where Bad Things Happen To Good People. Raised by wolves, he grew up with a love of nature, music, science, and history, with thrillers and horror novels feeding the dark side of his seriously disturbed imagination. He talks to his characters, talks often, and most times they listen. But the real fun starts when they tell him to take a hike, and they Open That Door anyway. Idiots.

David lives and plays in Ontario, Canada. From Mozart to Vivaldi, classic jazz to classic rock, he feels naked without his iPod. Suffering from MAD—Multiple Activity Disorder—he divides his time between writing and workouts, photography and Photoshop, reading and rollerblading. An avid amateur astronomer, he loves the night sky, chasing the stars with his telescope. Sometimes he eats.

Website   |     Facebook     |     Google+     |     LinkedIn     |     Twitter     |     Instagram

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Monday musings: A new year means new words on the page

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By M.L. Doyle

It’s January and the start of a brand spanking new year. I’ve searched Roku for free fitness channels and loaded them up. I’ve packed my refrigerator with tons of leafy greens with the focused goal of not letting any of them go to waste. I have a couple of large garbage bags full of clothes and shoes I didn’t wear in the last 365 days, and I’ve tossed out all the old shampoos, conditioners, lotions, makeup and beautifying products I acquired over the last year thinking they would somehow improve my life.

I spent money on all that crap and now I’m getting rid of it. As regretful as I may be for having purchased things I shouldn’t have, it feels good to start a new year with a lighter load.

Just as we all make resolutions at the beginning of a new year, writer’s set goals for the words they will produce and this year, mine are a bit ambitious.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been working on the second book in my Desert Goddess Series. The Bonding Spell, released in 2015, was one of the most enjoyable books I’d ever written. Staff Sergeant Hester Trueblood picks up a shiny, gold coin while on duty in Iraq and her life is forever changed. As the new embodiment of the Mesopotamian goddess Inanna, Hester returns to her home in Minneapolis, and tries to come to terms with her changed circumstances and the bitchy goddess voice in her head.

It’s a wild, Jim Butcher-style, urban fantasy romp that is funny, sexy and filled with mystery. I couldn’t wait to dig into the sequel, but had no idea when I started it, just how much more story there was to tell. “The Bonding Blade” has opened my eyes to more of Hester and Inanna’s world, the warriors dedicated to fighting and sacrificing for them, and the demi-god, Gilgamesh who is devoted, by destiny, to love them, no matter what they do.

As the New Year begins, my greatest goal is to publish “The Bonding Blade” with as much perfection as I can bring to it. I’m aiming for a late June or early July publication date.

While “The Bonding Blade” is going through final edits, reviews and promotions, I’ll be rewriting a couple of stories that were originally published in Amazon Kindle Worlds. Kindle Worlds have gone away, so the rights to these novellas have returned to me and I’m going to make full use of them.

In the first novella, Archimedes Ford is an FBI agent who has slogged through life carrying a heavy secret. His latest case brings him face to face with someone who will make it impossible for him to keep hiding any longer. Major Corey Turner spent his entire career with secrets too, until the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy finally ended. Archie Ford has difficulty concentrating on solving his complicated case, but he soon learns he’s not just saving the life of a young girl, but also saving his own.

“Archimedes and the Soldier,” is the first of two Archimedes Ford novellas which will both become spinoffs of The Master Sergeant Harper three-book mystery series already in existence.

And if that’s not enough, I plan to at least outline a forth book in the Master Sergeant Harper series. All I know is that Harper will be going to the Sergeant Major’s academy in El Paso, Texas. It’s a huge leap in her career and one she’s been aiming for, ever since she put on an Army uniform. But the academy is a tough school. Not everyone passes and British Sergeant Major Harry Fogg isn’t making it any easier for her.

They say, if you make New Year’s resolutions you should write them down or tell others so you have some tangible proof of your goals and a need to hold yourself accountable. Well, I’ve done it now. I’ll check back this time next year to see how close I am to meeting them.

Win a copy of The Bonding Spell, either by commenting here. One winner will be selected by random draw.

M.L. Doyle

M.L. Doyle has served in the US Army at home and abroad for more than three decades as both a soldier and civilian. She calls on those experiences in her award-winning Master Sergeant Harper mystery series, her Desert Goddess urban fantasy series, erotic romance writing and coauthored memoirs which all feature women who wear combat boots.

Check her out on Facebook.com, or Twitter @mldoyleauthor, and you can read excerpts of all of her work on her website at www.mldoyleauthor.com.

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Thursday teaser: The Bonding Spell

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Read on to find out how you could win a free e-book and a signed paperback copy of this week’s paranormal suspense #except, from The Bonding Spell

by M. L. Doyle

Prologue

I’m strolling around, looking around while on a personal security detail. I’m carrying my M4 at port arms, but we’re all relaxed, no real fear of attack. I listen to the curator giving yet another tour of the pyramid—the Ziggurat—in the town of Ur. We bring all the distinguished visitors here. The Iraqi guide is telling the senator about the ancient towns throughout Iraq, how the war is destroying so much history.

The senator doesn’t give a shit. She’s so uncomfortable in the heat, her makeup is melting and her hair is damp and flat against her head. I can tell she’s annoyed and would rather go somewhere to cool off, but the reporter following us around forces her to stay on her good behavior, so she smiles and we continue to bake in the desert furnace.

I see something glinting in the sun, partially buried in the sand. They tell us over and over, if you didn’t drop it, don’t pick it up. It could be a bomb, a booby trap, something dangerous meant only to hurt you.

If you didn’t drop it, don’t pick it up.

The group has stopped while the curator keeps talking about the pyramid, the way the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers met here, making the town a thriving center of civilization and culture.

I stroll over to the shiny thing. Standing over it, it looks like something ancient, something important. My curiosity is so intense, it feels for a second like energy vibrating around me, a kind of humming in my ears.

If you didn’t drop it, don’t pick it up.

I pick it up. It’s a large gold coin, rough around the edges, the profile of a woman on one side, the other side decorated with an eight-pointed star. I turn to ask the curator about it, when I realize everything has stopped. The people around me are frozen in place. The senator is caught with a bandana hiding her face, as if she were in the process of wiping sweat from her eyes. The curator’s mouth is open, but nothing is coming out. The other soldiers are frozen too. Masterson stands as if in mid-stride, one foot in the air. If I pushed him, would he topple over? I gaze about, amazed, looking at how everything is at a halt but me.

In the pulsing silence, I hear laughter that sounds like the beauty of a waterfall. I turn to see her. She shimmers in front of me, close enough to touch. Her brown skin glows in the sunlight. Her wide, almond-shaped eyes are outlined in kohl. Her full lips are stretched in a smile that makes me want to smile back—warm, friendly, familiar. Her long, ebony, tightly curled hair floats in the non-existent wind and she wears a golden crown laced with jewels with one large ruby sitting in the middle of her forehead.

I think her splendor could stop the earth from spinning and I don’t even swing that way.

Her golden plate armor over a white, silken dress makes her look like a warrior. She carries a shield with the eight-pointed star on the front, and the hilt of a sword sticks up at an angle over her right shoulder from where it hangs on her back. She speaks to me in a language I shouldn’t understand, but somehow do.

“Hello, Hester. I have waited long and forever for you. I am Inanna, and you are my vessel now.”

I open my mouth to ask her how she knows my name, a question minuscule in the scope of things I should be asking, but can’t get the words out before I am blinded by an explosion of white so intense my eyelids provide no barrier from the assault. My body stiffens, as if from an electrical charge, my arms and legs spread wide and I am inches from the ground, lifted up and up. I’m shuddering in ecstasy, hearing myself scream, not in pain, but in pleasure so overwhelming I think I’ll die from it. An icy cold feeling shoots out of my fingers and toes and latches me to the earth. Another jolt of frenzy shoots through me as I feel a sudden connection with the universe, the sun and the fine grains of sand beneath my feet. Everything. I can feel and see and be all.

When I open my eyes, I am breathless and confused, and the curator is still talking. Everyone is acting as if nothing has happened, but I know that everything has changed. Then I hear a voice in my head.

“You and I will do great things together, my vessel.”

About The Bonding Spell

Hester Trueblood can’t deny having an ancient, Sumerian goddess in her
head has its perks.

She enjoys her new strength and fighting abilities, things that would have
been useful when she was a soldier. And the two handsome men dedicated to serving and protecting her are a nice bonus too.

On the other hand, there are drawbacks.

Having Inanna’s voice inside her head 24/7 can be annoying, and the constant threat of demons and monsters is a dangerous nuisance. The bitchy goddess and the evil hordes are problems Hester can handle, but the adoration of a demigod has Hester off balance.

None of that matters when an old secret threatens to destroy Hester’s family. To battle the goddess of witchcraft, Hester will need all of Inanna’s powers along with the help of her devoted soldiers–and even a love-struck demigod–if she wants to survive.

What readers have said about The Bonding Spell 

“A blending of Iraq war vet meets demigods, goddesses and witches…a delicious read. Like a captivating lover, it will leave you satisfied, but wanting more.”
—Susanne Aspley, McKnight Award winning author of Ladyboy and the Volunteer.

“M.L. Doyle delivers a captivating, well-paced tale of urban fantasy that will intrigue you and leave you wanting  more … it will keep you entertained from the first chapter to the last.” 
—Amazon reader, Jill

Find it on Amazon.

The sequel, The Bonding Blade, will be available on Amazon this summer.

Subscribe to BestSelling Reads to make sure you don’t miss the announcement of this awaited book.

Win a signed copy and a paperback signed by the author.

M.L. Doyle will choose two winners from the correct answers to the following question:

Why didn’t Hester leave Iraq after she was wounded?

Answer this question in the Comments below.

M.L. Doyle

aimed to prove her brother wrong when she joined the Army on his dare. Almost two decades later, she not only confirmed that she could, contrary to his warning, make it through basic training, her combat boots took her to the butt-end of nowhere and back countless times and she lived to tell about it … or write about it as it turned out.

A native Minnesotan, Mary lives in Baltimore where her evil cats force her to feed and care for them including cleaning up their poo. To escape from her torture, Mary loves to hear from readers. Check her out on Facebook.com, or Twitter @mldoyleauthor, and you can read excerpts of all of her work on her website at www.mldoyleauthor.com.

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Thursday teaser: Run and Hide

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The new year’s first teaser is from the first Eva Driscoll thriller

By Alan McDermott

The weather couldn’t have been more accommodating. After more than three weeks of glorious sunshine, the thunderstorm was welcomed by both farmers and trained assassins alike.

The pounding rain helped drown out the sound of Eva’s approach to the house, an expensive and expansive replica of a Mexican hacienda. It was all terracotta tiles and archways, and she could see the two guards taking cover from the storm. They were patrolling the first floor, letting the second-floor balcony protect them from the downpour.

Eva had been watching them for a couple of hours, and their drill remained constant: one covering the east side and the rear of the building, the other watching the front and west. It took each of them two minutes to cover their half of the house, then another two to walk back and meet up on the corner. She noticed that they never spoke, only acknowledged that the other was still alive and doing his job before the patrolling started once more.

Eva had no idea when the shifts would change, but guessed it would be at the top of the hour. She decided to strike at 2:20 a.m. That would give them fifteen minutes to make their way through the trees that surrounded Alexander Mumford’s villa and get to the back of the house, where she would make her entry. She’d scouted it out already and identified a way in through the door at the rear: it was the perfect place to launch the attack.

She was a hundred yards from the house, ten yards inside the tree line, so Eva wasn’t worried about being seen by the guards. If there were any motion sensors or CCTV cameras in the woods, they would have known about it by now. She had the rest of the team in place with three minutes to spare, only Farooq sitting this one out.

The guard reached the corner of the house and met his companion, then turned and slowly retraced his steps, his eyes always on the trees. Eva waited until he turned the corner then broke cover and ran across the manicured lawn. It took twenty seconds to reach the back wall, and she leaned against it for a few seconds as she brought her breathing under control. The guard would reach the corner again in around a minute.

Eva crouched as she crept past a window, then straightened as she reached the end of the wall. She heard the approaching footsteps just as the guard’s shadow came into view, and tightened her grip on the rubber-handled knife. Her pulse raced as adrenaline surged through her body, every sinew poised to strike. The guard appeared, but not where Eva expected him to be. He was half a yard farther away than she’d anticipated, and she had to adjust her feet as she lunged at him. The knife was inches from the man’s throat when he twisted sideways, bringing his rifle up in the same movement. Eva missed his neck by millimeters, but followed through with her elbow and felt the satisfying crunch of cartilage as the guard’s nose imploded.

He staggered backward and tried to bring his weapon up again, but Eva was too quick for him. The top of her boot connected with his groin and, as he doubled over, she reversed the knife and plunged it into the base of his skull. Spinal cord severed, the man went limp and collapsed to the ground, his rifle clattering onto the tiles. Eva pulled the knife free and ran as silently as she could to the far corner of the house to intercept the other guard. She’d lost precious seconds in the skirmish, and it was about to prove costly.

Eva was still five yards from the corner when the other guard appeared. His rifle rose to his shoulder in an instant and the sharp crack of a round reached her ears. The fact she heard it meant she was still alive, which was more than could be said for the guard. His head jerked sideways as a bullet slammed into his temple, and he dropped like a sack of rocks.

Much as Eva was relieved to still be breathing, the noise was a disaster. Police or other reinforcements would soon be on their way, so her plan to interrogate Alexander Mumford was blown.

She could still make a statement though.

About Run and Hide

There’s only so long you can run for your life.

Eva Driscoll is used to chasing down bad guys, but now the bad guys are chasing her. She knows they won’t stop until she’s dead.

After her brother is killed in a faked suicide, Driscoll teams up with ex-soldier Rees Colback, the one person who can help her find answers. Together they’re determined to uncover why members of his Special Forces squad are dying in mysterious circumstances.

But with every agency in the country in hot pursuit, their only choice is to flee.

The clock is ticking. They can’t run forever. It’s time to make a choice: kill or be killed …

Find it on Amazon.

Alan McDermott

is a husband, father to beautiful twin girls, and a full-time author. Alan lives in the south of England, and in 2014 he swapped writing critical application for the NHS to penning thrillers that have gone on to sell close to a million copies. His debut novel, Gray Justice, was well received and earned him membership of Independent Authors International. That book launched in July 2011, and by the time he’d written the follow-ups, Gray Resurrection and Gray Redemption, it had attracted the attention of a major publisher. Alan signed with Thomas & Mercer in 2013 and has now written six novels in the Tom Gray series and a spinoff called Trojan. Alan’s eighth novel introduces a new female lead, Eva Driscoll, and a new thriller series.

Alan can be found:

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