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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Bestseller joins BestSelling Reads: Meet M.L. Doyle

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Bestselling and award-winning author M.L. Doyle has joined the ranks of BestSelling Reads.

Mary Doyle is the author of two memoirs, three mystery novels, a four-novella erotic romance series, and the first of a series of urban fantasy novels. Her first novel, The Peacekeeper’s Photograph, won the Carey McCray Memorial Literary Award for best unpublished novel from the South Carolina Writer’s Workshop. It has since been published and received consistent five-star reviews.

“When I published my first book in 2010, I thought writing was a solitary thing. It’s still up to me alone to put words on the page, but I’ve learned that working within a writing community means you can find the support you need when you need it,” she says. “I know and have worked with many of the authors in BestSelling Reads already and I am honored to be invited to join such a talented group.”

Mary Doyle’s first book was as the co-author of  I’m Still Standing: From Captive Soldier to free citizen—my journey home (2010, Touchstone) which chronicles the story of Spec. (Ret.) Shoshana Johnson, a member of the 507th Maintenance Company who was captured during an ambush and held prisoner in the early days of the Iraq War. The book was nominated for a 2011 NAACP Image Award in the literary category for best Autobiography/biography, a year in which the category included books about Nelson Mandela, Jay Z and Ray Charles.

Mary has also co-authored another military memoir. A Promise Fulfilled, My life as a Wife and Mother, Soldier and General Officer tells the compelling story of Brigadier General (retired) Julia Cleckley, the first African-American female general of the line in the U.S. Army National Guard. The book chronicles Cleckley’s journey from joining the Women’s Army Corps, to a position of power wearing the star of a military general. The story details her journey to success while facing the most devastating losses a woman can endure: the loss of a husband and of a child.

Originally from Minnesota, Mary Doyle served almost two decades in the Army Reserve. She was stationed in Germany, Korea and the U.S., and her career took her from Central America, the Middle East, and across western and eastern Europe.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcast communications from Metropolitan State University and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the University of Oklahoma.

The Peacekeeper’s Photograph was planned as the first in a trilogy that now includes The Sapper’s Plot and The General’s Ambition, both featuring Master Sergeant Lauren Harper. But experience has shown that Mary isn’t done with writing about Master Sergeant Harper and her British companion, Sergeant Major Harry Fogg. Mary has written companion short stories, The Ceremony and Canceled Plans. She is planning a fourth and perhaps a fifth book in the series.

Mary’s adult romance series is called Limited Partnerships. It comprises Part I – Charlie, Part II – Luke, Part III – Wolf and Part IV – Derek, are available as individual ebooks format and as the Limited Partnerships Omnibus in ebook and paperback.

Her current project is a second novel in her Desert Goddess urban fantasy series that began with The Bonding Spell (2015). “I’ve been working on The Bonding Blade for a couple of years and I can’t wait to release it to the world,” she says. “It’s the second book in the Desert Goddess series aand I think it moves the story in a whole new direction. Ever since I released The Bonding Spell, my readers have been clamoring for the next book. I’m so happy to be closer to delivering it and can now promise that I’ll announce a release date by very soon.”

Mary loves to hear from readers. Find out more about her and her books on her BestSelling Reads Author page; check her out on Facebook.com/mldoyleauthor, or Twitter @mldoyleauthor.

You can read excerpts of all of her work on her website, www.mldoyleauthor.com.

 

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Thursday teaser: Wired Courage

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This week’s Teaser is from the latest in the Paradise Crime series. Read on to see how you could win a free e-book

By Toby Neal

Discipline was beautiful, even when it hurt.

Pim Wat stood on the stone balcony of the temple overlooking the courtyard. Rows of acolytes, dressed identically in black cotton gi, practiced before their master. The crisp movements of the closely guarded martial arts routine were already embedded in her own muscle memory, and if she’d joined the young men and women in their tidy rows, she could have performed their routine perfectly, too.

Someone missed a movement, the mistake glaring in the crisp rows of conformity, and the master raised his baton.

All movement ceased. The rows of recruits froze into stillness. The master lowered the baton, and the recruits dropped to the ground to do push-ups.

They would do push-ups until he raised the baton again.

Armita appeared at Pim Wat’s elbow. “Your tea, mistress.”

Pim Wat took the hand thrown porcelain teacup without looking at her maid. She sniffed the jasmine-scented brew, then took a sip. Scalding hot, just as she preferred. “Acceptable.”

She seated herself on one of two chunks of amethyst that had been beveled into stools. A large tiger’s-eye plinth, glowing with bronze iridescence, served as a table. Armita faded back into the building after leaving a lacquered tray holding a pot and another teacup.

Perhaps the master would join her, but he didn’t always. Pim Wat willed him to, craving the drug of his presence.

The recruits were still doing push-ups. At last, the master raised his baton, and they leapt to their feet in one accord. He barked out an order, and the routine began again. He tapped a student on the end of one of the rows with the baton, handing it over. The black-clad young man took the carved ivory cane reverently, and stepped into the leader’s place in front.

The master strode toward Pim Wat, and she smiled with satisfaction as he glanced up at her.

Moments later he seated himself on the other chunk of amethyst and picked up his teacup. He closed his eyes to savor the tea, some of the most expensive and exquisite in the world, as Pim Wat feasted her hungry gaze on the man that she loved with an unseemly and obsessive passion.

The master looked no more than thirty, though he was at least Pim Wat’s age. His long black hair was braided and decorated with carved jade. The smooth fans of his eyelashes rested against golden-skinned, high cheekbones, contrasting with straight black brows. He opened dark purple eyes that must be the result of some multi-racial encounter of ancestors. “When is she coming to us?”

Pim Wat tightened her mouth in annoyance and hid her expression behind the delicate, hand thrown cup. “My daughter is stubborn. I’ve told you this.”

“The Yām Khûmkạn requires her.”

“And I’ve told you that she cannot be persuaded. Especially now that she’s pregnant.” Pim Wat’s cup rattled as she set it on the tray. She was going to be a grandmother. What a reminder that time was passing. Despite all her efforts, she was getting old. “I have tried everything to get her to come, even threatening her lover. She has refused.”

“Does she suspect anything about what we really want?”

“No. How could she? But she does not trust me.” Pim Wat made a fist. “I cannot command her like I used to.”

“You must manage your emotions, Beautiful One,” the master said. He leaned toward her, but instead of a kiss, drew a line down her profile with a finger and tipped up her chin. He teased her, rolling the ball of his thumb across her lower lip. Pim Wat’s eyes fluttered shut in anticipation and her body trembled. “Take her, if there is no other way. Do what you must do.”

His touch disappeared.

Pim Wat kept her eyes closed for a long moment, still hoping, but when she opened them, he was gone.

“Manage my emotions, by Quan Yin’s left tit,” she snarled. “Armita! My tea is cold!”

Armita came out onto the balcony and whisked away the tea. Pim Wat looked down at the practice area, but it no longer entertained her. She followed her maid into the main chamber of her apartment.

Thick, luxurious carpets and rich silk drapes softened the harsh stone walls and floors of the ancient room. “We must prepare a plan to get Sophie Malee,” Pim Wat said.

Armita’s eyes flashed, just a tiny flare of defiance. “Are you sure that’s a good idea, mistress? She is well protected.”

“The master wants her, and thus she will come. Once she’s here, they won’t be able to take her back. The stronghold of the Yām Khûmkạn is too remote and fortified.” Pim Wat turned toward a tall, exotic wood armoire. “Back to Hawaii I must go. Such a long, tiresome flight.” Pim Wat pinched the back of Armita’s arm viciously as the maid reached out to open the armoire. “And that’s for questioning me.”

About Wired Courage

Paradise is stalked by a relentless evil.

What would you do if your family was threatened?

Sophie just wants to settle down with her unusual family—but a powerful presence sweeps in to steal her joy. At her most vulnerable physically and emotionally, Sophie must rise up to hunt down those who would take what’s most precious to her. The boundaries of love and friendship are tested as the men in her life grapple with their roles, each trying to help—but in the end, it’s Sophie who must face the darkness from her past and vanquish it.

Now available from all major e-tailers

Win a free e-copy of the first book in the Paradise Crime series, Wired In

Author Toby Neal will give away a free e-copy to one person who answers this question in the Comments, below:

Tell us your favorite thing about Hawai’i.

USA TODAY Bestselling Author Toby Neal

grew up on the island of Kaua`i in Hawaii. A mental health therapist, Toby’s career that has informed the depth and complexity of the characters in her mystery, thriller and romance books.

She writes fast-paced, character-driven stories set in wonderful places. “No one can read just one!” exclaims one fan.

Outside of work and writing, Toby volunteers in a nonprofit for children and enjoys life through beach walking, body boarding, scuba diving, photography, and hiking.

 Visit her on her:

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New bestseller out: Back Side of a Wicked Moon

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Love, Law and Justice comes to Boom Town Texas

By Caleb Pirtle III

Now available from Amazon

The discovery of oil has broken the stranglehold the Great Depression had on a dying East Texas town. Strangers are pouring into Ashland. Where there is oil, there are jobs, as well as con artists, thieves, scalawags, and at least one murderer.

One stranger drives a hearse. But who is he, and why is he found hanging from the crown block of an oil derrick.

The Sheriff might solve the mystery. It’s his job. But he’s discovered shot to death on his own drilling rig.

No one in town is above suspicion. But who has a deadly motive?

Eudora Durant is the most beautiful widow in town. She’s also the richest. With the charming con man Doc Bannister at her side, she risks everything to bring law and justice to a struggling boom town even if she has to personally keep an innocent man from being sentenced to the electric chair.

As one reviewer said about book one of the Boom Town saga series, Back Side of Blue Moon:

This story set in a small town in East Texas in the Great Depression should go down as a classic in American literature.”

Get it today from Amazon.

Caleb Pirtle III

is the author of more than seventy books, including the Ambrose Lincoln series.

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 written three teleplays, and wrote two novels for Berkeley based on the Gambler series: Dead Man’s Hand and Jokers Are Wild.

Pirtle’s 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.

Learn more about Caleb on his:

And follow him on Twitter @CalebPirtle.

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New book announcement: Wired Courage

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The 9th book in the bestselling Paradise Crime series launches today.

By Toby Neal

Paradise is stalked by a relentless evil.

What would you do if your family was threatened?

Sophie just wants to settle down with her unusual family—but a powerful presence sweeps in to steal her joy. At her most vulnerable physically and emotionally, Sophie must rise up to hunt down those who would take what’s most precious to her. The boundaries of love and friendship are tested as the men in her life grapple with their roles, each trying to help—but in the end, it’s Sophie who must face the darkness from her past and vanquish it.

Now available from all major e-tailers

USA TODAY Bestselling Author Toby Neal

grew up on the island of Kaua`i in Hawaii. A mental health therapist, Toby’s career that has informed the depth and complexity of the characters in her mystery, thriller and romance books.

She writes fast-paced, character-driven stories set in wonderful places. “No one can read just one!” exclaims one fan.

Outside of work and writing, Toby volunteers in a nonprofit for children and enjoys life through beach walking, body boarding, scuba diving, photography, and hiking.

 Visit her on her:

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Thursday teaser: Mist-chi-mas: A Novel of Captivity

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This week’s excerpt is from the historical mystery-romance

By J.L. Oakley

At six o’clock a sergeant came over to escort the women to Captain George Pickett’s quarters next door where Pickett personally greeted Jeannie and the Jenkins women at the door. For the second time that day she mused that she was the same height as the captain. With dark shoulder length hair, mustache and a long unruly goatee, Pickett was only a little over five and a half feet tall. What he lacked in height, however, she had already learned he made up in audacity, charm and a strong scent of Jamaican rum cologne. He offered her his arm and led her into the candlelit dining room.

Gathered around the table was a collection of men and women from the area. Pickett gave immediate introductions. “May I present Mr. and Mrs. Lyle Marshall of Port Townsend, my second lieutenant, James W. Forsyth, two British naval officers from the HMS Satellite, Lieutenant Fuller—Mrs. Jenkins’ brother visiting from Fort Steilacoom, and Andrew Pierce from the settlement of Seattle.”

The men rose as the women were escorted to their seats at the table. The Jenkins women were treated with courtesy, but from Lucy’s pout not enough. When Pickett pulled out her chair, Jeannie thanked him for his hospitality and sat down.

“Now, Mrs. Naughton,” Captain Pickett said as he sat down. “Do tell us all about your time in Kanaka Town. It has concerned us all, considerin’ someone has left his earthly bounds.” He put his napkin in his lap and sipped water from the crystal glass at his place.

Jeannie glanced around. The table was set just as fine as the officer’s table at the Royal Marine Camp with a linen cloth, several candlesticks spread out down the middle, and a large hurricane lamp set in the center. The candles cast soft yellow light on all the diners. Captain Pickett winked at her, but she pretended she did not notice. “An act of bravery, I might add,” Pickett went on. “Do tell.”

Jeannie wasn’t sure what account to give or whether it was a proper subject for the dinner table, but they seemed anxious to know about her time with the people of Kanaka Town, so she told them of her days there. When she was done, Pickett directed the dinner guests to a discussion of health in general. He sat at his place at the head of the table, his long hair curling at his jacket’s collar, like a country gentleman hosting guests at his estate. Jeannie could understand why Mr. Breed said he was popular with both military camps and civilians.

It soon became apparent that the women were not taken with her account. Mrs. Jenkins’ lips seemed to get acutely puckered as Jeannie went on. Mrs. Marshall, the merchant’s wife, burst out that the whole affair was unseemly.

“Don’t you think, Mrs. Jenkins, a woman should be more particular in what she chooses to undertake?” Mrs. Marshall’s rag curls banged against her neck.

“I do indeed. Don’t you, Mr. Pierce?”

Andrew Pierce was mid-bite on an appetizer of oysters. He looked startled, then blushed at Jeannie sitting next to him. “You caught me off-guard, ma’am. I’ll have to think on it.”

“I don’t believe that there is anything to think on,” said the captain of the HMS Satellite. “Women served valiantly in our hospitals in the late Crimean War. Miss Nightingale for one. An extraordinary woman. Saved many a soldier’s life.”

Mrs. Jenkins and the other ladies shrank back when the military men agreed. The matter of Jeannie’s incautious adventure was settled and to her relief, in her favor. The men agreed that containing the smallpox was imperative. It touched her deeply when they gave tender acknowledgment to her loss and the irony she could not help her son.

Dinner was served in the French style with all the dishes on the table and the serving plates assisted around. Pickett continued playing host, leading the conversation and letting topics flow from local politics to news of the social season. Occasionally, he’d interject, “Sir, ah believe that is the most interesting thing ah heard” or something to that effect. Jeannie found his accent hard to understand.

During the second hour, the conversation turned to more national subjects, though Jeannie noticed that by some unspoken agreement, they did not speak of the growing discord and talk of secession back in the States she had heard during conversations in Victoria. Instead,

the conversation settled on Pickett’s exploits in the Mexican war. The British officers were interested in the tactics of General Winfield Scott. Pickett obliged them with an arrangement of salt cellars and candlesticks on the table.

As he laid out the battlefield, Jeannie was amused to see that he had brought Mrs. Jenkins and the other women to a complete stop. Their fan-covered faces and asides were muffled. The officers leaned over and the battle began. When Pickett was done, salt had been spilled and a candlestick dripped its beeswax onto the linen cloth. To that, everyone clapped. The officers raised their glasses as Pickett returned to his seat in good cheer.

About Mist-Chi-Mas

In Mist-chi-mas, everyone is bound to something.

Jeannie Naughton never intended to run away from her troubles, but in 1860, a woman’s reputation is everything. A scandal not of her own making forces her to flee England for an island in the Pacific Northwest, a territory jointly occupied by British and American military forces. At English Camp, Jeannie meets American Jonas Breed. Breed was once a captive and slave — a mistchimas — of the Haida, and still retains close ties to the Coast Salish Indians.

But the inhabitants of the island mistrust Breed for his friendship with the tribes. When one of Breed’s friends is murdered, he is quickly accused of a gruesome retaliation. Jeannie knows he’s innocent, and plans to go away with him, legitimizing their passionate affair with a marriage. But when she receives word that Breed has been killed in a fight, Jeannie’s world falls apart. Although she carries Jonas Breed’s child, she feels she has no choice but to accept a proposal from another man.

Twenty years later, Jeannie finds reason to believe that Breed may still be alive. She must embark on a journey to uncover the truth, unaware that she is stirring up an old and dangerous struggle for power and revenge…

Find it on Amazon.

J.L. Oakley

writes award-winning historical fiction that spans the mid-19th century to WW II. Her books have been recognized with a 2013 Bellingham Mayor’s Arts Award, the 2013 Chanticleer Grand Prize, the 2014 First Place Chaucer Award, 2015 WILLA Silver Award and the 2016 Goethe Grand Prise.

In addition to historical fiction, J.L. has also written the Hilo Bay series of four mystery novellas set in the Hawaiian Islands. Her most recent historical novel, Mist-chi-mas: A Novel Of Captivity, launched in September 2017.

 Get to know more about Janet on her:

And follow her on Twitter @JlOakley13.

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