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:


BestSelling Reads page  |   
Amazon Author page      |    Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

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An authors group for readers

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A quick look at any social media platform will find any number of groups of authors. Groups that purport to promote writers and their books, groups that focus on particular genres or styles. 

In a few minutes, you could subscribe to dozens of services that will email you announcements of new books and links to discounted and free books in almost any genre. 

BestSelling reads stands a little apart for one reason: we’re here for readers like you.

Yes, every member of BestSelling Reads is a bestselling author. All our members have won awards for our books. 

But our purpose here is to help the avid reader find excellent books. Books that you’ll get something out of. Books you’ll enjoy reading. 

A carefully vetted group

Unlike many promotional groups for authors, not just anyone can become a member of BestSelling Reads. Before they join, prospective members are nominated, evaluated and vetted by existing members. We choose only writers who commit to meeting, or exceeding the publishing standards of the leading commercial publishers.

All members ensure our titles are professionally edited, proofread and formatted. We have qualified, professional designers for our covers. We don’t cut corners. 

What this means for you

Writers are also readers, and we hate wasting time and money on a bad book. We don’t enjoy reading a book filled with typographical errors, inconsistencies in continuity or gaping plot holes. 

And we know you don’t enjoy them, either.

Choosing from our members’ titles ensures that you’ll get a title you’ll love, one that meets the standards you expect from a professionally published book, a book that is as easy to read as it is compelling. 

Our authors produce excellent work in a broad range of genres, from action-adventure to romance, from young adult and fantasy. 

Take a look at the genres or at the Author page of any one of our members. 

Make sure you don’t miss out on any news or new release—subscribe to get the BestSelling Reads newsletter in your email with advance notice and specials for members only. You’ll also get a free e-book. This month, it’s The Catalyst by DelSheree Gladden.

And leave a comment or a question for your favorite BestSelling Reads member author. We love to hear from readers!

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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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New books to look forward to in 2019

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Your favorite bestselling authors are a hard-working bunch, busy writing new books for you to enjoy. Here are a few of the new titles you can look forward to.

Non-fiction writing Barb Drozdowich is working on a book (or a workshop) around the topic, “Are you talking to an empty room?” “My experience is that authors don’t understand how to figure out what is the best use of their time—things that are hugely time consuming and get little in results.”

Horror author David C. Cassidy plans to publish two titles in 2019: Gateway and 1944, as well as two more short stories in the Dark Shapes, Dark Shadows series, which begins with HauGHnt.

Find out more about David and his books and series on his BestSelling Reads author page.

Mary Doyle is especially ambitious. She will release the second book in her urban fantasy Desert Goddess series, The Bonding Blade in the first half of the year. She will also rewrite and release at least two, perhaps three novellas that she will probably call the Archimedes Ford mysteries, a spinoff of the Master Sergeant Harper mysteries. She will continue as a fiction editor on The Wrath-Bearing Tree on-line magazine. “My goal is to also write more essays which I plan to submit to veteran and war-writing magazines and online outlets,” she says. “I will also be producing a podcast here and there.”

Alan McDermott will publish the third and final Eva Driscoll novel, Fight to Survive, in June. He is now working on something completely new. Watch this space for more news about Alan’s new directions.

Find out more about Alan’s existing series and books on his BestSelling Reads author page.

Scott Bury plans to release the revised and extended Dead Man Lying, the third in his Hawaiian Storm mystery series, and the whole Eastern Front trilogy as a single volume that will comprise the three true-story titles, Army of Worn Soles, Under the Nazi Heel and Walking Out of War.

Find out more about Scott’s books and the genres he writes in on his BestSelling Reads author page.

Raine Thomas plans to publish Beautiful Finale, Book 4 in the House of Archer rock-n-roll romance series, and For the Win, a baseball romance. “I also want to be more involved on social media if life allows it!” she says.

Find out more about Raine’s books and series on her BestSelling Reads author page.

Caleb Pirtle III will publish the sequel to Lovely Night to Die by the end of February and the sequel to Bad Side of a Wicked Moon sometime this summer. Then he plans to launch a new three-novella series and is presently torn between two ideas. “By autumn, I’ll have it figured out.”

Find out more about Caleb’s many books on his BestSelling Reads author page.

Samreen Ahsan plan to publish Once Upon A [Fallen] Time, Book 2 of [Stolen] Series, around February. It is the sequel to her groundbreaking time-travel fantasy romance, Once Upon A [Stolen] Time.

Find out more about her books and her series on her BestSelling Reads author page.

J.L. Oakley’s goals for the year is to have her post-World War II novel, The Quisling Factor, ready for publication in late fall. She also plans to publish her collection of cozy mysteries set in Hawaii in ebook format by the end of January, and in paperback by March.

She also has other literary plans: “I’m attending the Historical Novel Society in June as a panelist on two panels: Indie Publishing and Civil War Medicine. I’m hoping that contact with Jake Wynn, the director of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine for my panel, will lead to more research on CW Medicine for another work-in-progress.”

Stay tuned for news and announcements about every one of these titles. Better yet, subscribe using the link above to get news in your inbox, and get a free book.

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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:

BestSelling Reads author page   |   Amazon Author page   |   Website   |   blog   |    Facebook    |   Twitter

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Happy New Year from BestSelling Reads

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All the best to readers and writers for 2019.

Individually and collectively, we have an exciting year planned. So stay tuned, or better yet, subscribe to our mailing list (to the right) so that you don’t miss your opportunity for great new reads.

BestSelling Reads: great authors, great books.

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