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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Thursday teaser: Here the Truth Lies

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Read on to see how you could WIN an autographed copy of the bestselling Here the Truth Lies, the subject of this week’s psychological thriller teaser

Here the Truth Lies: psychological thriller by Seb KirbyBy Seb Kirby

At home that night, I look long and hard at the bottle of scotch. I shouldn’t be drinking. Too much is happening. I need to keep a clear head to see my way through it.

I took care to change my pattern on the journey back from Bankside, taking a later train. There was no sign of the man in the black coat.

The golden glow of the liquid in the bottle is so appealing. I pour myself a small one, add water and take a first sip. Warmth and composure run through me. As if I need any reminder that whisky is so irresistible.

The events of the day come closer into focus.

Bill McLeish and his continuing demands.

Margaret Hyslop’s arrogance.

Alec Waring with his self-loathing.

But emerging now are the thoughts I’ve struggled to hide all that time.

Jenny’s words burn in my mind.

I know who you are.

You’re not Emma.

I’m still shocked at how much this poses a threat to whatever sense of well-being I’ve managed to manufacture around myself. A shiver of guilt runs down my spine. When I look down at my hands, they’re trembling. What makes me feel this way?

I try to recall my parents, John and Mary Chamberlain. Nothing comes. Just distant, ill-formed memories of people I should know intimately but who are like strangers.

Is this what Jenny meant?

Or is this one more sign of pressure?

McLeish’s complaints.

The tall dark man following me.

BACK OFF BEFORE ITS TOO LATE written in child’s crayon.

The fact that, if I’m being honest with myself, I’m drinking too much.

Are these things playing with my mind, making me believe I can’t do something as simple as recalling my own parents?

I rifle through the dressing table drawers in the bedroom. I’m not the type to have any interest in displaying photographs in frames around the house nor on my desk at work. But somewhere here, there’s a small stack of photos in a cellophane packet that I keep but seldom look at. Something to reassure me in this moment of doubt.

As I find them and begin searching through them, my first thoughts are, is this all? How old am I now? Twenty-eight. These ten photographs paint a paltry record of my life. Yet, I tell myself this is how I want it. People with children have every incentive to manufacture the thousands of images of themselves and their kids and offer them as trophies of their success on social media before printing and framing their favorites as more tangible tokens of the permanence of their lives. I’m not in this position, though I would in all certainty behave in much the same way if my life were different.

I pause to take another long sip of the scotch. The warmth in my stomach brings with it more intense perception, I’m sure.

Here is the photo of my parents, John and Mary. The only one.

They look respectable enough. Endearing as they stand together with their winning smiles.

But the longer I look, the more I convince myself I don’t recognize them. Maybe I’ve never known them. They are as much a mystery to me as any photo of any married couple taken years ago that I might have seen on TV or in a magazine.

I leaf through the remaining photographs. None of me as a child. No images of me at play on holiday, no pictures of me as a schoolgirl.

About Here the Truth Lies

Emma Chamberlain has a consuming ambition—to prove the innocence of a convicted murderer sentenced to life. But the more she digs into the evidence, the more she is forced to confront threatening secrets about her own past that lead her to the ultimate question—who is Emma Chamberlain?

To discover the truth, Emma must expose those responsible for a dark conspiracy that has ruined the lives of many and now threatens her own.

Win a signed copy of Here the Truth Lies

Author Seb Kirby will send you an autographed copy of his latest book to one personwho correctly names the city that Here the Truth Lies  is set in. Leave your answer in the Comments below.

Seb Kirby

BestSelling author Seb Kirbywas literally raised with books: his grandfather ran a mobile library in Birmingham, UK and his parents inherited a random selection of the books. Once he discovered a trove of well-used titles from Zane Gray’s Riders of the Purple Sage, HG Wells’ The Invisible Man and Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities to more obscure stuff, he was hooked.

He’s been an avid reader ever since.

He is author of the James Blake thriller series, Take No More, Regret No More and Forgive No More; the science-fiction thriller, Double BindEach Day I Wake; and Sugar for Sugar. His latest book is another psychological thriller, Here the Truth Lies.

Seb can be found:

BestSelling Reads author page  |   Amazon Author page  |   Facebook   |   Twitter   |    Goodreads   |   LinkedIn   |    Website & blog 

 

 

 

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Mystery Thursday: A Case of Sour Grapes

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Win a copy of this week’s mystery and Cass Elliot companion novel

A Case of Sour Grapes - mystery by Gae-Lynn WoodsBy Gae-Lynn Woods

THE SEEDIER SIDE OF LIFE

BEING WOMEN OF SOUND mind, Cass and I did what any solid sleuths would do before diving into the skank that is Whiskey Bend: we cruised the strip checking for Bret Ivey’s Corvette. I’ve driven this stretch of road just over the state line and into Louisiana numerous times. It’s the kind of crammed together place that always makes me slow down and check for drivers who can’t stay between the lines. During the day, it’s dirty and downright sad. At night, however, it sparkles with twinkling neon signs that distract from the grime and despair.

We drove the half mile stretch of Whiskey Bend at a sedate pace, glancing in the crowded parking lots as we went, searching for a bright yellow Corvette with the license plate WINE-O. We didn’t see it, so we agreed to take a closer look at the seedier side of life.

Have you ever been in a bar for bikers? This was my first time, and despite my show of bravado with Cass, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Dim lights, sticky floors, inebriated rednecks, scantily clad women with vacant stares. You, too? Well, The Golden O was a surprise. I’d talked it over with Cass, and we decided to work methodically down one side of Whiskey Bend to the last bar, then turn around and work our way along the other side.

Back to The Golden O. It wasn’t the kind of place you’d take your mother, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. The parking lot was packed with motorcycles and muscle cars. A flashing neon sign featured the outline of a curvy blonde, lips pursed in a sexy ‘O’. A bouncer greeted us with a glance up and down, then motioned us inside. I discreetly flipped on my hidden camera. The lights were low, but the floor wasn’t sticky. The foyer had a diner-like counter along one wall, fronting a grill where a big man flipped burgers and steaks for five guys perched on chrome stools. The food smelled surprisingly good. Music flowed from deeper inside the establishment and we stepped through a velvet curtain into a wide room with a stage at its center. A busty blonde with mounds of frothy curls who could’ve been the model for the neon sign stalked along a runway. She was wearing a beautiful black mask and a full-length gown exposing a strip of magnificent cleavage. She peeled off long gloves, one finger at a time, bumping and grinding all the while. The bikers alongside the stage were utterly entranced.

Cass watched the men as they watched the woman. “What gives, Maxine? I thought the whole reason men came to these places was for the skin.”

“It’s burlesque,” I answered quietly. “It’s as much about the tease as the nudity.” The stripper unrolled a glove and draped it across one patron’s shoulder before whipping it away and slapping him in the face with it. A charged growl went up from the crowd.

“How do you know that?” Cass asked.

“My ex-husband Neil took me to see burlesque shows.”

“That didn’t bother you?”

“Not until I realized they were men in drag.”

Cass cocked an eyebrow.

I focused on the faces around the stage. “It was the beginning of the end for us. If they’d been women, maybe I could’ve coped.”

I felt her gaze and wondered if she would ask more. My best friend and I lost contact while I was married, and other than having been maid of honor in my wedding, she knew very little about my married life. In true Cass style, she knew when to hold her questions. She turned back to the men. “I don’t see Bret, do you?”

The dancer tossed her second glove our way and a scrum erupted over the strip of cloth. Amid the chaos, I caught the stripper’s glare. I recognized the smoky green eyes behind the mask and blood drained from my face.

“Oh no,” I whispered to Cass. “We’re so busted.”

“Why?”

“The woman on stage? The dancer?”

Cass glanced up. “What about her?”

“That’s Aunt Babby.”

What is the mystery about A Case of Sour Grapes?

Wine, women, and song. What could possibly go wrong?

Meet Maxine Leverman, lover of expensive shoes, beautiful handbags, and her lingerie wearing ex-husband’s hush money. When she pleads her way into a job at family run Lost and Found Investigations, Maxine’s only goal is to gain the concealed carry license and PI skills she needs to find the man who attacked her, and then kill him. (Or maybe just put him in jail, that decision can wait.)

But when she secretly takes a missing husband case on her first day at the agency, she stumbles into a high-stakes game of blackmail and murder. Maxine must unravel the links between a forgotten folk punk band, an international drug cartel, and the tangled history of the missing husband to keep the women in his life alive.

Fans of the early Stephanie Plum novels and Stuart Woods’ Holly Barker series will love Maxine’s tenacity, grit, and lust for life.

Find this bestselling mystery on Amazon in the Mystery, Thriller and Suspense and Private Investigators categories.

Win a free e-copy of this compelling mystery

The author will give away a free e-copy to anyone who correctly answers this question:

What’s the name of the most famous cabaret in Paris?”

This you know the answer? Leave it in the Comments.

Meet the author

mystery author Gae-Lynn WoodsGae-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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