The end of romance

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Romance Month, that is

It’s hard to believe we’ve already reached the end of February. It’s a short month that somehow manages to feel like the longest of the year, yet slip through our fingers like late afternoon sunlight through vertical blinds.

Much of the world seems to have been afflicted with stay-indoors weather this month. Snow, wind, freezing rain—it doesn’t look like anyone has escaped, no matter where they live.

On the other hand, it’s been a good month for cozying up, with a good friend or a good book, or even both at once. (Add in cheery fire and a glass or two of red wine and I’m there.)

Romance isn’t going anywhere

Whatever you may think about the romance genre, it’s big. In the U.S. alone in 2017, readers bought some 21.5 million romance books, a close second behind suspense-thrillers at 21.8 million. Year after year, romance account for a fifth of all adult fiction sales.

Romance Month 2019 was good to BestSelling Reads authors and readers. We’ve sampled some sweet and some spicy scenes from DelSheree Gladden and Gae-Lynn Woods, M.L. Doyle, Scott Bury, Raine Thomas and Samreen Ahsan.

Other member authors told us about how romance fits into their books, often in ways readers don’t expect—but that they delight in. Like Alan McDermott, Toby Neal, Caleb Pirtle III and Corinne O’Flynn.

Now it’s ending, but don’t worry—there’s still lots of great stuff to look forward to from your favorite BestSelling Reads authors.

April is going to be mystery-thriller month, and we’ll be featuring some writing that puts you on a roller coaster. In June and July, we’ll showcase our best beach and dockside reading for you. And the fall will bring—what else?—horror, science-fiction and fantasy. And we’re going to end the year with some reading you’ll be proud to give as gifts.

What’s your favorite reading genre?

Your answers will help us make sure we continue to bring you the kind of books you love, while surprising you with authors who know how to break the boundaries. Just click on the form in the right-hand column.

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Romance teaser: Kado notices Cass

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This week’s Teaser for Romance Month on BestSelling Reads features a sparking, smoking scene from

The Devil of Light

By Gae-Lynn Woods

Tom Kado drank in Detective Cass Elliot’s fluid movements as she wove between the desks to get to the squad room’s door, and wondered what was wrong with him. He crossed the empty room to the coffee bar and poured himself a cup.

She was gorgeous. Stunning, actually. And a bright intelligence brought light to those strangely colored eyes. They were such a deep blue they looked purple. When Cass had stood from her desk, he’d realized that they were almost the same height.

Kado shook his head and scolded himself as he strode toward the evidence room. God knew he was in no shape to handle a relationship and in reality, he didn’t even want one. Caroline had only been dead a year. Barely a year. Kado’s nostrils still flared at the phantom scent of death that had oozed from her pores as cancer had eaten her alive. He still saw her in crowds and had to stop himself from calling out to her, had to endure the rush of hope every time he spotted a petite woman with shiny, straight black hair. She was slowly leaving him, occupying his dreams less frequently these days. But he couldn’t stand the thought of losing her completely, of not loving her. Of violating her memory by noticing other women.

Unlocking the evidence room door, Kado tried to push Cass from his mind. Cass Elliot is a colleague, somebody you work with, pure and simple, he told himself as he settled behind his computer and typed in a password. Besides, a woman with those looks probably has men waiting in line. She’s out of your league and, he reminded himself, you’re not in the game anyway.

About The Devil of Light

A BIZARRE MURDER

When young Detective Cass Elliot responds to a 911 call at the home of a prominent businessman, she finds him violently murdered in the barnyard with his battered wife unconscious near the tool that killed him. Still raw from her own unsolved attack six years ago, Cass is stunned when confronted with graphic photographs scattered across their kitchen floor that lead to a shadowy sect called The Church of the True Believer.

A COVERT WEB OF LIES AND EXPLOITATION

Cass and her partner Mitch Stone delve into a cunning world of blackmail and violence – and find a cult concealed for nearly a century beneath the genteel, small town façade of Arcadia in East Texas. Their investigation triggers a brutal response from powerful men who will protect their identities at any cost. They unleash a ruthless killer whose actions create a media frenzy and destroy the fabric of trust within the police department.

A PERVASIVE EVIL

Cass and Mitch circle closer to the cult’s few members, following a slim lead into a night lit by fire. A night that begins with a blood ritual and ends with Cass holding a man’s life – or death – in her hands and struggling to walk the fine line between vengeance and justice.

Meet the author

mystery author Gae-Lynn Woods

Gae-Lynn Woods is a Texan mystery writer who has traveled the world, lived overseas, and come back home. She and her husband, British jazz guitarist Martyn Popey, share a ranch in East Texas with a herd of Black Angus cattle, one very cranky donkey, and The Dude, a rescue kitty with attitude.

Visit Gae-Lynn’s

BestSelling Reads page   |   Amazon author page   |   Facebook   |   Twitter   |   Google+   |   Goodreads   |   LinkedIn   |    Website   |    Blog

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Thursday teaser: The Crazy Girl’s Handbook

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This week’s crazy romance teaser is from the funny first volume of the Handbook romance series

By DelSheree Gladden

Pain blossomed in more than one spot as my elbows and palms hit the cement and my head whacked into the decorative stone edging that lined the grass. Thor yelped as my dead weight kept him from getting any farther, then doubled back to see what was wrong and stomped all over me at least three times before settling on my head. By the time my senses cleared, I was so tangled in leash and puppy I couldn’t even figure out where to start. My head and arms throbbing didn’t help at all.

“Thor, get off,” a firm voice said.

I thought I wanted to die when I got gum in my hair, or soda ice down my shirt, or an ice cream pedicure. Those were nothing compared to having to be rescued from an over-enthusiastic puppy by Roman Carpenter while covered in dirt, grass, and blood. It was a miracle I didn’t give up right then and just start crying. I loved my nephews, but I was never going to be able to show my face in this neighborhood again.

The heavy weight of the squirming—and rather large—puppy was finally removed from my face. I heard Roman ask one of the boys to hold the leash, but I kept my eyes closed out of pure shame. Not until a pair of hands pressed against my face did I even dare to breathe. Even then, it was a gasp at the urgency behind the touch.

“Greenly, are you okay?” Roman demanded.

The hint of worry in his voice forced me to peel my eyelids apart. I peeked up at him through half-opened eyes and was startled not to find him laughing at me again. There was real, honest fear in his expression and it left me speechless.

“Are you okay?” he repeated.

Breathe, Greenly. “Yeah, uh huh. Yep.”

He stared at me for a moment. Probably because I sounded ridiculous. “Are you sure?” he asked.

I tried to sit up in order to prove I was just fine. The sting of putting my hands on the ground made me hiss and I felt a little woozy when I tried to move.

“Whoa, whoa,” Roman said, which made me feel a little like a horse. “Don’t move. Let me help you.”

Great, just great. I tried again to sit up on my own. “Really, I’m fine.”

“No, you’re not,” Roman said as his arms slid beneath my arms and legs.

I experienced an irrational moment of panic, not because the idea of Roman carrying me off somewhere was frightening, but because being this close to him would expose everything about me I hadn’t already managed to bare. He lifted me easily and my breath caught as he adjusted his arms and I felt momentarily unsupported. Then his grip rolled me against his chest, to a place of absolute security. I don’t think I took a single breath as he walked up to the house.

About The Crazy Girl’s Handbook

Watching her two nephews and a puppy named Thor for the weekend was supposed to be fun for Greenly Kendrick. Sweating to death at a never-ending baseball game while getting gum in her hair, soda down her shirt, and an ice cream pedicure wasn’t part of the deal. Neither is finding out the best blind date she’s ever stood up is there to witness it all.

Longest. Weekend. Ever.

Except it doesn’t stop at one crazy weekend. Embarrassment turns into mortification, a head wound, and being patch up by her amused knight in shining armor.

Roman Carpenter can’t help laughing at Greenly’s mishaps, but for some reason, he sticks with her through it all. At least, until his ex-wife shows up and starts causing trouble. What started off as a strange, yet promising relationship, might be able to survive spiteful exes, but adding in a stalker that puts everyone on edge and pulls the police into the mix, might push everyone past their breaking point.

Get it on:

DelSheree Gladden

was one of those shy, quiet kids who spent more time reading than talking. Literally. She didn’t speak a single word for the first three months of preschool, but she had already taught herself to read.

Her fascination with reading led to many hours spent in the library and bookstores, and eventually to writing. She wrote her first novel when she was sixteen years old, but spent ten years rewriting and perfecting it before having it published.

Native to New Mexico, DelSheree and her husband spent several years in Colorado for college and work before moving back home to be near family again. Their two children love having their seventeen cousins close by.

When not writing, you can find DelSheree reading, painting, sewing and trying not to get bitten by small children in her work as a dental hygienist.Check out her latest books, get updates and sneak peeks of new projects at

And find her on social media

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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

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



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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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