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American Due Process
Paul A. Jones
10940 S. Parker Road -515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432770044, $10.95, www.outskirtspress.com
Due process is a great legal invention to protect the innocent, but too often it is corrupted for nefarious purposes. "American Due Process" is a collection of writings from Paul A. Jones as he presents an argument for the refinement of due process to prevent the guilty from abusing due process to avoid justice. Arguing for greater use of public defenders, "American Due Process" is worth considering for those who want to repair our criminal justice system.
A Doctor's Journey
Frederic A. Mandelsohn
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432769277, $16.95, www.outskirtspress.com
When you're trying to save and improve lives, you can meet the oddest characters. "A Doctor's Journey" is a collection of memoirs from Frederic A. Mandelsohn who reflects on his long career through creative non-fiction, showing everything from trying to save lives, crushing guilt, trysts gone awry, and facing the pressure of a long medical career. A read of a dedicated man and his life, "A Doctor's Journey" is a touching and recommended read.
My Blood Runs Blue
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432769284, $13.95, www.outskirtspress.com
When you become a cop, you expect to see terrible things. She never expected this terrible. "My Blood Runs Blue" follows Kristin Greene, small town cop whose career takes a turn for the grisly when she finds someone's throat ripped out. As she tries to cope with this violent turn, she finds her romance dragging her apart, in a love triangle she doesn't truly understand. A blend of adventure and romance, "My Blood Runs Blue" is a fun and very recommended read, not to be missed.
Fire and Sword
Leland H. Gentry & Todd M. Compton
Greg Kofford Books
9781589581203, $36.95, www.koffordbooks.com
The early history of the Mormon faith is one of curiosity and darkness for many followers of the faith. "Fire and Sword: A History of the Latter-Day Saints in Northern Missouri, 1836-39" chronicles the travels of the Mormons through Missouri. Like in many other places, they were not welcomed, and violence soon followed. A time of conflict, Leland H. Gentry & Todd M. Compton chronicles this period in the history and what it meant in the greater picture of Mormon history. "Fire and Sword" is a must for any history collection focusing on the early history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781456719050, $15.95, www.authorhouse.com
The pressures of single motherhood is rough enough without having to face the paranormal. "Addressing Spirits" follows the story of Cheryl Taranas she copes with her life without time to rest. As she faces the paranormal investigation that seems to want to consume her life along with everything else. She faces the strange happenings face on, and with no idea of how it will change the course of her life. "Addressing Spirits" is an exciting story of how the paranormal can twist one's life, highly recommended.
Sex and Love
I. J. Miller
PO Box 95462, Seattle, WA 98145-2462
9781603814966, $16.95, www.fannypress.com
Lust and love often have nothing to do with each other. "Sex and Love" is a collection of short fiction based on these two contrasting yet lumped together topics as he crafts stories of people dissatisfied with life. From escaping away to the internet, to being tempted by what's 'wrong', to the curiosity of the other team, and much more, "Sex and Love" is an excellent collection, very much recommended reading for short fiction fans.
Power and Tender
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432763756, $31.95, www.outskirtspress.com
The seas of the world are all that some people really want. "Power and Tender" is a novel following young Ben Alton, a young Virginia man in 1920. Pursuing his career as a water pilot, he soon finds that political intrigue was rife within early twentieth century America as author Margret Russell ties them all together into a story of a story of social and political change. "Power and Tender" is a fine work of historical fiction, recommended.
The Real Family Camping Cookbook
Maggie da Silva
CAC Digital Arts, LLC, Publisher
Available for download from:
iTunes iBookstore for the iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch: http://bit.ly/iCdr4x
Years of experiments in cooking camp food for her family led to Maggie da Silva's development of original dishes and adaptations which are presented in The Real Family Camping Cookbook, a practical and humorous e-book filled with over 150 family-tested recipes accompanied by quotes and reflections from her family camping trips.
This ebook presentation offers several big advantages over print media which should make it a preferred 'plus': foremost is the ability to search the book via keyword or phrase: helpful in quickly locating recipes or making preparation plans by ingredient availability.
Recipes are also outlined in a table of contents, which lends to quick and easy browsing with details including whether the dishes are make-at-home or make-at-campsite.
Another plus is the focus on make-head meals and meal plans that can be finished with minimum attention to detail at the campfire. This means more time for family interactions and less prep time!
The author likes to car camp and cooking at campsite is the emphasis here, with dishes ranging from foil packets to stews and one-pot meals, soups, snacks and even breads. Many recipes are accompanied by ideas for variations and additions, along with fun food quotes. For foods prepared in stages, suggestions for keeping the dishes warm are another 'plus'.
Some dishes, such as Grilled Shrimp, cook very fast: recipe instructions account for cooking times and provide tips on what to do when one segment of the dish cooks quicker than the rest of the meal. This is key because a camper is typically only using one fire to cook everything, creating special serving challenges resolved in The Real Family Camping Cookbook's tested tips.
Hikers who tote in everything may find some recipes lend to backpacking; but the real audience for The Real Family Camping Cookbook is the family car camper who is less likely to haul the kids on an extended overnight backpacking trip. So families - an ever-increasing audience for the budget vacation camping experience - will find this an excellent planning guide, worthy of regular consultation and filled with family-friendly dishes that are quick and easy to reproduce at the campfire.
Plan camping meals in advance, then tote the ebook to campfire on a Kindle to refer to during cooking: it's that easy.
Diane C. Donovan
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432771270, $13.95, www.outskirtspress.com
Sometimes you do stupid things, and gain awesome stories from it. "Tires Optional" tells the story of Rick Reale and his friends as they took a '55 Buick for one legendary trip over three thousand miles in two and half days with not much over three hundred dollars. Running in with the law, being directionally challenged, and with fondness for the setting of the 1960s in the twilight of the behemoth car era. "Tires Optional" is a strongly recommended pick for anyone looking for a memoir of the good ole days.
Quest for the Kingdom
John M. Newman
7290 B Investment Drive
North Charleston, SC 29418
c/o Alexandra Kahler Public Relations (publicity)
378 Vista Lane, Shenandoah Junction, WV 25442
9781456317621, $24.99, www.createspace.com
There are many similarities in the emerging faiths and philosophies of two thousand years ago. "Quest for the Kingdom: The Secret Teachings of Jesus in the Light of Yogic Mysticism" is a study from John H. Newman as he presents his study on the original philosophy and teachings of Jesus Christ, connecting his teachings with early Daoism and the teachings of Yoga in far Eastern countries. Producing many an intriguing parallel, he presents many fascinating thoughts on the connections between this philosophies. "Quest for the Kingdom" is a must for any with an interest in the connections of these seemingly unrelated faiths.
Fires... Accidental or Arson?
Richard J. Keyworth
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432766887, $19.95, www.outskirtspress.com
When your evidence is the burned and charred remains of a building, finding the truth comes with a whole new challenge. "Fires... Accidental or Arson?: Fire Investigations" is a true crime memoir of Richard Keyworth, as he tells the story of his task of when there's a fire, his job is to determine whether stupidity or Malice is the source of the blaze. Telling the need for his profession and how it is done, "Fires... Accidental or Arson?" does well in explaining the need that the fire department has for expert investigators.
Hong Kong State of Mind
Jason Y. Ng
9789881900319, $13.95, www.blacksmithbooks.com
Hong Kong is truly an international enigma. "Hong Kong State of Mind: 37 Views of a City That Doesn't Blink" tells the story of the city from a well-traveled resident in Jason Y. Ng, who compares the city known for belonging to the United Kingdom until very recently being returned to China to the United States and Canada where he spent much of his time, and provides a very intriguing and critical dissection of the world as a whole. "Hong Kong State of Mind" is a fascinating study of a truly unique city, highly recommended.
In This Hospitable Land
PO Box 400818, Las Vegas, NV 89140
9781935597469, $13.95, www.amazon.com
Survival is the first order, no matter what the situation. "In This Hospitable Land" is a novel following Jewish intellectual Andre Sauverin, a Belgian who fears the worst when the Nazis strike his homeland in 1940. With his family in tow, he travels to France and in Huguenot country, finds survival and a way to fight back against oppression. A fast paced read of World War II and those who would defy the Nazi power, "In This Hospitable Land" is a very highly recommended read.
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452087665, $22.95, www.authorhouse.com
One random act can change everything about everyone. "Becoming" tells the story of six individuals whose lives spin off in different directions after an accident shatters their lives. From coping with the loss of love, facing injury, and trying to recover from the onset of madness and life, "Becoming" is a thoughtful exploration of life's fragile state and how one thing can turn you into a completely different person.
Check the Gs
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
The Barret Company (publicity)
12021 Wilshrie Blvd., Suite 600
Los Angeles, CA 90025
9781450298605, $20.95, www.iuniverse.com
Normalcy is a myth and anyone who tells you differently isn't very normal. "Check the Gs" is a memoir from Ray Shasho who tells of his own offbeat upbringing working in the family business art gallery, from a young age. Of Cuban and Syrian descent, he tells a very American story of coming from everything, seeing everything, walking the line of the law and much more. A fun and fast paced memoir, "Check the Gs" is a worthwhile addition to many a memoir collection.
My Pictures, My Words
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432772277, $24.95, www.outskirtspress.com
Art, photography, and poetry blend together beautifully. "My Pictures, My Words" is a blend of said three ideas from Mac Kenney. With a bit of spirituality and motivation blended in, Kenney urges people not to settle for a mundane existence and remember something greater. Presented in full color with plenty of awe-inspiring pictures, "My Pictures, My Words" is worth considering for those seeking a photography book that is quite different from the standard.
Roy A. Barry & Nazira K. Barry
10940 S. Parker Road -515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432765286, $18.95, www.outskirtspress.com
It's hard to get a relationship off the ground in such a complex world. "Mr. Ms. Right: An Endangered Species" is a relationship discussion guide from Roy A. Barry and Nazira K. Barry as he breaks down what causes relationships to disintegrate and that he hopes readers will take the wisdom and be smarter about their relationships on both ends of the relationship. From abuse to sexual issues to when marriage is right, "Mr./Ms. Right: An Endangered Species" is worth considering for those concerned about their relationships.
When I Was a Child
T. L. Needham
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432771362, $19.95, www.outskirtspress.com
Through the roughest of challenges, survival always seems to be toughest of them. "When I Was a Child: Based on a True Story of Love, Death, and Survival on the Kansas Prairie" is a memoir from T. L. Leedham as he recollects his challenges of life in the early twentieth century through life on a form through war, and being held captive. A story of facing some of the worst a young American can face, "When I Was a Child" is a touching and poignant read, highly recommended.
Never Give Up!
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781456771560, $10.58, www.authorhouse.com
When you give up, you accept your life has no more value. "Never Give Up!" is the memoir of Majid Shano, whose drive in life took him from Ethiopia to Germany to making him to a highly successful and respected physician for over thirty years. Hoping his story will inspire others and telling the virtues of never accepting defeat in life, "Never Give Up!" has a powerful message and a poignant story, very much recommended.
Unlearn Vanilla Marriage
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462007196, $17.95, www.iuniverse.com
Marriage just doesn't work for some people. "Unlearn Vanilla Marriage: A Different Approach to a Failing Institution." is a relationship guide from Richard Woods, as he uses humor and commentary to offer his own counterpoint to the often spouted virtues of marriage and monogamy and how society has put us in ways that will destroy our lives and leave us without much fun. "Unlearn Vanilla Marriage" has many tenets to consider for those hoping to look for their love and satisfaction outside the box.
c/o Maryglenn McCombs
2817 West End Avenue, Suite 126-274
Nashville, TN 37203
9781935254379, $15.95, www.maryglenn.com
There's always adventure to be had on the seas, no matter how much time has passed. "Seasoned: A Chef's Journey with Her Captain" is a memoir from Victoria Allman as she speaks on her journey with her husband on a yacht. In her journeys she meets many quirky people and finds that sailing the seas gets much more weird when your doing it with real people and all their flaws. As her trade as a chef, she shares some of her own recipes on top of it, making "Seasoned" a fun blend of memoir, cookbook, and the joy of sailing.
Out of Balance
Angela Lam Turpin
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450294386, $13.95, www.iuniverse.com
A woman of the home and a woman of the career often find themselves in quite the balancing act. "Out of Balance" is a novel following Beverly Mael as she purses her career, juggling her husbands luggage and the foolishness of her boss. When her husband introduces something that will change everything, Beverly is unsure whether to fear or embrace it. With a bit of faith, one overworked career woman and housewife has to save the world on top of everything else. "Out of Balance" is a fun read that will resonate well with many overworked women.
We Survived the Horrors of World War II
419 Park Ave., South, New York, NY 10016
9780533163694, $15.95, www.vantagepress.com
Cruelty hardens, and the long history of such in Europe allowed them to survive the incredible cruelty of World War II. "We Survived the Horrors of World War II" is a memoir of Polish-Ukranian woman Anna Gres as she recounts her own personal horrors of a young life in Eastern Europe where she faced abuse by her parents, her schoolteachers, only to be shoved out on the farm with backbreaking labor at a young age. Eventually finding something of joy in America, "We Survived the Horrors of World War II" is a poignant memoir of the many terrors of Eastern Europe.
Trebele Heart Books
9781936127375, $13.99, www.sandysemerad.com
When fiction is too close to fact, suspicion surges quickly. "Hurricane House" tells the story of Maeva Larson as she ponders the deaths of two women and the disappearance of two more after a nasty hurricane strikes Florida and leaves her suspecting foul play. As she finds a mystery writer whose stories run closely parallel with the case, her hopes may lie on a talented dog to give her the answers she needs. "Hurricane House" is an excellent pick for mystery fans, not to be overlooked.
Devote 40 Days
127 E Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064-4421
9781617390982, $13.99, www.tatepublishing.net
Finding your faith again takes dedication, but with that dedication, you may find your path through life once more. "Devote 40 Days" is a Christian spirituality book from Jane Jayroe, a former Miss America who advises readers that even as life pulls you off your path, with the right dedication and some time, you can divine God's ideas for you, and find your faith once more. "Devote 40 Days" is a must for anyone trying to piece back together their faith.
My Dreams, My Choices
Clementine Wamboye Girenge
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432771768, $13.95, www.outskirtspress.com
The drive for success is something that can't be denied." My Dreams, My Choices: Be Courageous, Do What You Have Never Been, and you will see the Change" is an inspirational memoir from Clementine Wamboye Girenge, telling her story of growing up as a young girl, in Nairobi, Kenya. Despite a society that isn't as open to female success as one would hope, she finds her own place in society, and makes "My Dreams, My Choices" worth considering for those looking for a highly inspirational memoir of female success in life in spite of it all.
By January 1716, the winter is so cold the Thames has frozen. As is the custom when the river freezes over, a Frost Fair is constructed. However, one early morning, a body garbed in a coronation suit is found against a wood booth. The frozen corpse is Sir Walter Tatham, who officials affirm was brutally murdered.
Lord Harrowby Hawkhurst had recently been visited by the deceased so he asks Hester Kean, who know the dead man and has solved homicides before (see The Spider's Touch and The Motive from the Deed) to make inquiries into the victim's recent dealings. Though she asks why he is interested, he offers no explanation even as he looks sickly panicked. Hester, in turn, asks her friend, Viscount St. Mars who also earns a living as the highwayman Blue Satan, to assist her. Although he already has a difficult mission to liberate a Jacobite from Newgate, he agrees to join her on the investigation.
Historical mystery fans will wear mittens and a woolen hat while reading this terrific early Georgian era whodunit as the worst winter in over a century makes it dangerous to be outside. The story line brings to life early eighteenth century London and nearby towns as well as the political enmity that has divided the country during the reign of the first Hanover opposed by supporters of the Stuart "Great Pretender". Since the Birth of the Blue Satan, this series has been a winner with each entry.
City of Ruin
Mark Charan Newton
At a time when the Jamur Empire needs to be united to combat an outside intrusion, the nation is divided. In Villhamur, Chancellor Urtica sits on the throne while Empress Rika is forced to flee the capital for Villiren; where she hopes to gain the support of the Night Guard though she is unsure whose side Commander Brynd Lathraea is on. The Empress is accompanied on her trek north by her sister Eir and their protector Randur.
Across from Villiren, the Okun have massacred the local populace on Tineag'l Island. These ruthless foes prepare to cross the strait to invade Villiren next even as the Jamur military led by Brynd prepare to defend the city knowing that defeats will mean the slaughter of every person. However Brynd has non military problems too from an extortion scheme while Inspector Rumex Jeryd does his duty regardless of the pending disaster by investigating the recent disappearances of dozens of locals.
The second Legends of the Red Sun dark fantasy (see Nights in Villjamur) is a terrific military, political and social epic that provides a deep look at a city anticipating with some deniers the encroachment of the enemy. The story line is action-packed and loaded with fully developed characters especially those inside the beleaguered city although there are too many subplots that cause the minor ones to effect the flow of the critical themes. Still City of Ruin is an engaging tale as the vicious Okrun come to Villiren with their scorched earth blitzkrieg war machine.
9781609361167 $14.99 www.summerside.com
On November 9, 1989 as Germans are shouting "we are one people" as the Berlin Wall comes tumbling down. At the same time in Elisabeth Hospital in Bonn, Linda from Rotterdam gives birth to Katarina as the father German Konrad is euphoric. In Zarzamora, California also at the same moment at a mountain hospital in Los Padres Forest, Janine gives birth to Michael's son Joshua.
As years pass, Josh becomes a talented skateboarder trying to find a purpose in life. His frustrations with failing to do so make him angry as he believes he is a failure. Kati loves looking at old stuff, but meanders without purpose. Her frustrations are fueled by feelings of never pleasing her mother or anyone else except her grandfather. In 2011 they meet off Huntington Beach in what Angelo would have said is a soul cleansing transformation.
This is an entreating inspirational allegorical epic over several decades follows two people linked by the birth of freedom when the Wall came down. Character driven to include Angelo with his Behind the story asides, fans will relish this strong parable as The Blackberry Bush snares those filled with crippling phobias, fears and remorse in which heroic good deeds is the only escape. David Householder provides a wonderful thought provoking story line encouraging readers to go for their freedom from our personal mental cages.
Bold Strokes Books
9781602825598 $13.95 www.boldstrokesbooks.com
In Santa Barbara, teenagers Jace, Morgan and Deborah break into the home of Michelle Zunger to steal her diamonds. However, a big orange cat, that the elderly woman denies exists, foils their attempts. Police officer Frank Dominick arrests Deb. Her parents get the Zungers to drop the charges on the condition that Deborah Reeno Dimond attends St. Joan, the "Bad Girls School" near Ojal. Her only remorse is not being there for her dying sister Haley, wasting away from an unknown disease.
Though placed in Remedial that she knows that is a euphemism for the prison wing, Reeno hooks up with other psychics at the school. She learns from her Ozone Ranger peers especially Carlos that her sister's disease is caused by an ancient Mayan curse. Their advisor A.B. (calls himself Alpha Beast) insists he knows ho save her sibling's life. Reeno would do anything for Haley even heeding the advice of an untrustworthy predatory Alpha Beast who considers her a worthless human novice by going back in time to steal an artifact from ancient Mayans.
This is a terrific young adult fantasy that grips the audience from the moment that darn cat gets in the way of the perfect teen heist and never slows down as Reeno gets into messes one after another though the timeline is not linear. Action-packed, readers will enjoy the Cursebusters as Julie Smith leaves New Orleans (see sleuths Talba Wallis and Skip Langdon) for a fabulous adventure in Mayan territory, past and present).
Charles Scott Adams
In the struggle between vampire groups over the ancient Book, Arthur and his team defeated their enemy and now possess the original manuscript (see Never Dream). However, he knows the real adversary who would turn human into cattle remains unknown as his side defeated foot soldiers.
Arthur and several allies take the arcane tome to Philadelphia where they nurture Iago the werewolf on his human side having been born and raised wolf. The vampire believes his student is the greatest weapon his team possesses to keep the Book from those who want to deploy it. Their human ally in the fight in Salamanca Terry has returned to her home in Boston unaware of the dangerous events she participated in and equally incognizant that Jennings the vampire watches her.
After a few years of training, Iago leaves to live with the humans. When Terry is hurt in a car accident, Jennings must choose between letting her die and converting her at the same time Arthur calls Iago home as the enemy vampires begin their assault.
The sequel to Never Dream is a super urban fantasy that can stand alone, but enhanced by reading the first thriller in order to know how far the prime players have come. The story line is action-packed as expected with vamps at war and a Rogue lone werewolf, but it is the details of instructing kick butt Iago on little things like getting dressed that makes the tale excellent; as he learns A Boy Should Know How to Tie a Tie (And Other Lessons for Succeeding in Life by Antwone Fisher). Charles Scott Adams provides fabulous thriller due to his cast of ferocious vamps and a werewolf with moral fortitude.
Brendan P. Myers
Light Unseen Media
9781935303190 $13.00 www.bylightunseenmedia.com
In Grantham, Massachusetts, Sergeant Lombard of the local police department controls the homicide scene until State Police Captain Jenkins arrives to take over the investigation. A teen taking a leak in the woods found the corpse of a young Caucasian male whose neck was ripped open, but little blood is in the vicinity.
Lombard knows the vicious attack denotes the return of the beast after a quarter of a century of dormancy. He contacts his high school friend Dugan to come home to the decaying Applewood neighborhood so they can once again fight the evil that came to town during the Civil War when the Grantham regiment fought in Georgia.
This is an engaging atmospheric horror thriller that hooks the reader with the opening corpse and never slows down until the final cemetery confrontation. Overall the story line is fast-paced though flashbacks to Dugan's early teen days and 1861 detract from the speed but enhance the sense of inevitable gloom and doom. Dugan is a unique protagonist who lost the ability to dream during his first encounter with evil while the malevolent one is a super vile beast. Readers will appreciate a trip to central Massachusetts as Brendan P. Myers provides an exhilarating deadly tour.
Hugh Farnham expected a nuclear war was coming. Thus he built a bomb shelter while people including his adult son ridiculed him for Farnham's folly. However, as the news begins reporting of the threats of war growing hotter, he persuades his alcoholic wife, their son and, daughter, a friend and Joseph the servant to enter his silo. The bombs are sent while Hugh and his retinue remain safe.
When they finally exit the bomb shelter, they have been somehow been forwarded centuries into the future with no other person around as if humanity has become extinct except for their small circle. The group struggles to survive when the descendants of survivors of the apocalypse find them. Except for Joseph, the rest of Farnham's party is held guilty by the color of their skin causing the pandemic holocaust. Hugh knows that for him and his family to survive, they must go back to prevent the bombs from causing the end of the world.
This reprint of an engaging 1950s futuristic science fiction tale makes a case against de jure and de facto racism. The story line is fast-paced once the bombs explode and never slows down as Farnham's family is held in contempt. Although the characters are one dimensional stereotypes, readers will enjoy Robert Heinlein's argument against racism.
John Milliken Thompson
2 Park Avenue, 24th Floor, New York, NY 10016
In 1885 Richmond, Virginia, the body of a pregnant white female is found in the city reservoir in what seems to be a suicide. However there is some counter evidence nearby so the police investigate beause there is pressure to solve the homicide of Lillian Madison.
Nearing retirement, Police Justice Daniel Cincinnatus Richardson heads the inquiry at the same time Detective Jack Wren coerces potential witnesses. Looking into Lillie's relationships leads the cop to the Cluverius brothers, Tommie the ambitious lawyer and Willie the steadfast farmer. Due to temperament Richardson believes Tommie the hothead killed his mistress in a fit of rage over the entangled triangle, but it is Willie who is caught in the trial's crosshairs.
Based on a true trial, this exciting historical thriller grips the audience once the players, time and place are established. The story line uses flashbacks to tell the tale of the triangle while also providing a strong inquiry and trial. John Milliken Thompson will have readers pondering the issue of love of family as the author deftly examines how far a person will go to protect a loved one.
Break the Skin
In Mt. Gilead, Illinois, police officers question skinny teenager Laney Volk who lives in a trailer with fellow Wal-Mart associate thirty-five-year-old Delilah Dade and Rose MacAdow. This is the second time they interrogate him over the course of a few months. While Delilah and Rose competed for the attention of singer Tweet, Laney liked band member Lester Stipp. When Tweet chooses Rose, Delilah rages.
In Denton, Texas, lonely tattoo artist Miss Baby hates men for using her but fantasizes that one day her prince will come. Although she knows better having been hurt frequently by strays, she takes in a stranger who says he suffers from amnesia. However, Lester could be lying about knowing his name as mendacity and lonely desperation link Texas and Illinois.
Break the Skin is a terrific tale that rotates between the women in Illinois and the woman in Texas; their bond is a deep Eleanor Rigby level of loneliness. Character driven by the four women whose catalyst for their respective behavior is the two band members, fans who relish an atmospheric thriller will want to read this dark ballad of human foibles.
The Return of Captain John Emmett
Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt
In 1920, Laurence Bartram still struggles though three years have passed since he saw combat on the continent. The war and a family tragedy have left the widower a shell of his former self. He hides in London not wanting to see anyone.
A former girlfriend Mary Emmett sends him a note informing him that her brother John who served as an officer committed suicide at a veteran's hospital. She wants to know why her sibling killed himself. Thinking of Mary and John, Laurence accompanied by his only friend Charles Carfax investigates the death of John. They quickly learn Emmett was involved in the execution of an officer who was court martialed for desertion. More clues follow as the daunting duet deduce what happened, but more regiment deaths follow.
This is a terrific post WWI thriller starring a hero who suffers from battle fatigue, but regains some equilibrium when he receives Mary's message. The deadly investigation forces Bartram to look inside at the demons from his combat experiences that haunt him. Although the inquiry depends on luck at key moments, fans will appreciate the two amateur sleuths seeking the truth as to whether Emmett was murdered or committed suicide.
The Good and the Ghastly
It took centuries but the world has somewhat recovered from the global nuclear war. Now the thirty-fourth century has caught up to life in the early twenty-first century though there are some differences; for instance history and science texts praise Sarah Palin for her theory of natural selection and deer is the pet of choice.
However, in spite of the heritage of mass destruction wars back in the twentieth and twenty-first, hate remains a viable option. While VISA owns the world now as it did then, Adoranso Horater pushes for the final solution as he blames the Jews for the nuclear holocaust. At the same time Alvarez rules the mobs with an iron fist, a victim's mother stalks and murders gangster and human sacrifices to the statue of the cat God Garfield is practiced. Soon the former Good and the forever Ghastly will confront one another.
The Good and the Ghastly is an engaging satire that rips into twenty first century values by extrapolating how the future will look at this era of phony hypocritical compassion. The story line is overall fun but the mocking of present day decisions by sound bites keeps the plot thin. Still readers who relish thought provoking lampooning will want to read the thirty-fourth century equivalent to Bill Mahler' "New Rules" interpretation of Palinism.
Faith Words (Hachette)
In Tulsa, Gabe and Mitzi Steiner have been married for six decades and enjoyed a wonderful singing pair during most of their time together. Recently Alzheimer's has struck Gabe so the jazz duet no longer performs together.
To fill her time so as to avoid the anguish of watching her beloved Gabe slowly vanish under the weight of his illness, Mitzi volunteers as a "Pink Lady" at Tulsa County Hospital. She becomes upset when paralegal Brooke Woodson arrives at the ER; as she recognizes the signs of domestic abuse from when she was a victim of her papa's rage as a child. Mitzi and Brooke form a sisterhood of sorts as each has suffered abuse with the younger woman the victim of the rages of fiance.
This is an engaging tale held together by a strong female protagonist who knows first hand the ups and downs of life. The story line is terrific when it looks at the past and present of the Steiner couple who loved each other for six decades but now struggle with crippling Alzheimer's. The plot loses some of its emotional potency when it turns to contemporary abuse as that segue feels forced, adds too much angst, and detracts from the super profound biography of Gabe and Mitzi as she understands the final curtain call is coming soon.
Joy for Beginners
In Seattle having won her battle with breast cancer, Kate tells her six friends that she plans to go whitewater rafting though she admits to figuratively needing rubber underwear. She challenges them to try something that they would not want to do; she assigns each of them a specific task. As each woman looks at achieving their respective daunting objective that forces them to look deep inside their fear zone, Kate believes they will gain much by overcoming their trepidations as she learned that life is persistently filled with challenges. Caroline, Daria, Marion, Sara, Hadley and Ava have great doubts about what their friend is demanding from them, but none wants to be the first to say no.
This is an entertaining inspirational tale in which purposely none of the seven women (and family members) including the catalyst Kate are developed beyond their particular quest and their relationship with others. This enables the message of conquering your fears by swinging the bat rather than not playing to remain the prime focus as the legitimate effort is in some ways more important than the achievement. Readers will enjoy this fine tale while pondering what demon we need to take on.
Scandal in Scotland
Renowned actress Marcail Beauchamp sacrificed her happiness by sending away her beloved sea captain William Hurst. She did so as she felt deeply that was best for both of their families. Marcail has never forgotten the only man she has ever loved.
A blackmailer forces Marcail to steal an onyx box from William or else watch her family ruined. Inside the box is an artifact that William needs to free his brother Egyptologist Michael held prisoner by an Egyptian sultan. William is shocked when Marcail meets him on his ship. Her plan is to seduce him, drug him and steal his box. She succeeds and he follows her, but when he catches her, the box is gone. Explaining his sibling's dire straits, they team up chasing after the person possessing the box.
The latest Hurst Amulet Regency romance (see Sleepless in Scotland, The Laird Who Love Me and One Night in Scotland) is an enjoyable second chance at love thriller although the story line feels somewhat like a middle book as the overarching theme moves forward very little. Still the lead couple is a wonderful pairing with this being the first male Hurst to star. Saga fans will enjoy the sea adventure of the actress and the captain.
In Edilean, Virginia, twenty-six years old Sara Shaw and Greg Anders are to marry in three weeks. After receiving a late night call Greg leaves without notifying his fiancee.
Two days after Greg vanished; worried about the safety of his sibling undercover Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Mike Newland enters a still reeling Sara's apartment. He explains he is the brother of her BFF Tess and is staying with her. He conceals that he is there to catch Greg's mother Mizelli Vandlo while the FBI wants to nab con artist Anders. As she helps them set up a sting to catch a thief, in his wildest imagination, Mike never expected to fall in love with his hostess while Sara wonders if she is fickle as she reciprocates his deepest regard.
The third Edilean romantic suspense (see Days of Gold and Lavender Morning) moves the town into the present with an engaging police procedural romance. Readers will root for Sara although wonder why an intelligent young woman rebounding from her fiance's desertion allows a stranger to bully her. Still Jude Deveraux fans will enjoy the commitment phobic Florida cop and the jilted Virginian falling in love.
The Darkest Heart
The inferno killed her heir Nicolai years ago leaving his mother Countess Lazlaric increasingly desperate to see her family heritage continue. Her remaining son Charles is a hedonistic wastrel, but he is all she has. The Countess believes luck has finally come her way when a missive from a distant relative Senna Landseth asks for help. The matriarch invites Senna to stay with her at Drom Manor hiding her plans for the biddable chit to wed Charles.
Unknown to her hostess, Senna is not her kin and she is pulling a con. However although welcomed by the Countess, the manor and the woman disturb Senna. For two decades Dominick Janau has impatiently waited to obtain revenge against the person who turned him into a vampire. However, he finds he wants Senna and vows to keep her safe as he also believes she might be the catalyst for his vendetta finally happening. Dominick rushes her to London to keep her safe even as Charles and his mother pursue them.
This entertaining gothic vampire romance engages the audience once the players are set. The complicated story line is fast-paced and the cast solid with a neat twist. However, it is the paranormal world that feels genuine, which sub-genre fans will relish as the heroine trapped in the center of an evil circumference learns that sometimes you get what you wish for.
Fallen angel Azazel mourns the death of his wife Sarah, a murder victim. Still in spite of his grief, he seeks Lilith the demon with plans to kill her to prevent the fulfilling of a prophecy that has them wedded.
When he finds her, she has no memory of being evil Lilith. Instead she insists she is Rachel Fitzpatrick who admits she has Grand Canyon size holes in her memory. He leaves allowing her to live for now. However, he comes back to Rachel-Lilith because the Fallen Angels like him need to find imprisoned Lucifer before Uriel does. If the latter gets to the former first, the Lord's archangel will judge mankind as sinners and release his wrath on humanity; which in his narrow perspective means the extinction of mankind.
The exciting second Fallen Angels urban fantasy (see Raziel) is character driven though loaded with non stop action as readers anticipate the archangel and the fallen angel confrontation. Rachel is the focus between them as her memory is the key to locating Lucifer. Readers will appreciate the tale of the Fallen: Demon seeking to save the world.
Dead on the Delta
After being a mosquito size harmless species that adults assumed were mythological, the fairies changed. They became human blood seekers biting mortals. The Fey toxin leaves 75% of the humans insane; 10% physically misshapen before dying; and another 10% instantly dead. The remaining populace contains immunity, but so far no one knows why.
Following Katrina, New Orleans has become a breeding ground for the fairies. This does not prevent Fairy Control and Containment evidence collector Annabelle Lee from riding her bike and doing her job at often horrific crime scenes. Annabelle is one of lucky ones who are immune to the fairies toxin. She works with police detective Cane Cooper on the murder of a six year old girl just outside the fairie levees surrounding her town of Donaldson. Also inexplicably on the case is her former boyfriend and FBI Agent who should not be involved.
This is a super urban fantasy police procedural that intelligently extracts from real life to make the case of a Fey infestation. For instance, the Louisiana Governor is running for reelection on his hard on Fey crime platform. Although readers never learn what caused the Fairie plague, the fast-paced story line is action-packed as Cooper and Lee supported by others investigate gruesome murder on the Bayou.
Brynna Malak the Fallen Angel wants to go home, which in her mind is Heaven. Thus, she goes out of her way to save mortals. However, her miraculous rescue efforts prove futile because everyone she saves is brutally murdered by Lucifer's minion who wants her to return to their side.
Brynna realizes she needs help so she turns to her human boyfriend Chicago police detective Eran Redmond though she has doubts about turning to him. She trusts no one except perhaps the Creator, but especially a male of any species; as men cannot control themselves when she, even in human garb, is near them. As Eran demonstrates restraint and a willingness to help her, they investigate who is murdering her saved ones.
The latest Dark Redemption urban fantasy (see High Born) is a terrific tale that contains much more than just Brynna's efforts for redemption though she is the focus of the Navarro mythos filled with angels, demons, nephilim and humans (some are Quislings). The whodunit is clever and the cast powerful as fans will relish a walk on the dark side of Chicago.
In Georgia elderly widow Miss Amelia feels trapped with her position as a local Brahmin and her age as her family and peers are dead; and her home is a fund draining mausoleum of the better financial times. She knows she must give up her home, but the only place she can move to is the abandoned home of the grandma of her current housemate Maybelline and Mamie in Jerusalem, Georgia.
Maybelline is a bit off her rocker though a good person who has direct communication with god. On the other hand, Amelia is an agnostic cynic who fears she is suffering from early dementia as she increasingly goes back to the summer when she found her heart and the Lord while living with a black family who worked for her mom.
This reprint of an engaging Southern drama provides the audience with an insightful look at segregated society in which a white minor is entitled to more legal and social protection and rights than black women. Although the allusions to the "Great Mystery" is overdone, the glimpse to Georgia's past makes for a fine Steel Magnolia tale as Miss Amelia realizes how much that year was the greatest summer of her life.
Over twenty years ago someone killed Gwyn Sander's abusive stepfather. The policed assumed the teen having had enough killed him, but whether it was a blue decision that justice was served there was no evidence to arrest let alone convict Gwyn or anyone for that matter.
For the last decade therapist Gwyn Sanders has run a spousal abusers group. However, she was unprepared for the savage murder by Alfred Croce of his wife who attended Gwyn's sessions. Not long afterward an avenger begins killing the male abusers whose wives belong to Gwyn's group. The culprit knows insider information as each murder is customized to mimic the victim's brutalization of women. The circumstantial evidence points to Gwyn with one theory being the Croce homicide triggered her dormant anger at violent men as she assumedly did to her stepfather.
This is a terrific amateur sleuth-police procedural as the beleaguered heroine refuses to be a victim again. Although the story line goes down the path anticipated, the key to making this a strong thriller is the diabolical villain who cleverly remains in plain sight and has the ability to change plans when needed. With an underlying plea to victims to get help, readers will relish Striking Back as Mark Nykanen provides a gripping whodunit.
Magazine Editor Laurel Imperiole and NYPD Identity Theft chief Aaron Gerrard are on vacation in Florence, Italy. At the Uffizi Museum, Laurel accidently bumps into a man she assumes is an Italian. As she apologizes in Italian and English, she realizes he is Jeff Sargasso who died in the Twin Towers on 9/11.
Although Aaron and the museum Dottore security chief thinks she lost her mind but Laurel knew Jeff for a decade and was with his grieving widow Monica when the authorities presumed her husband was dead. Laurel recalls that Sargasso, an art dealer, was working on a nine-digit dollar sale of a masterpiece lost during World War II between CEO Alfred Hammersmith who also died in the WTC terrorist attack and billionaire MMJapan Corporation CEO Miayamu Moto. Laurel meets and pairs up with private investigator Helen McCorkendale; as they follow leads back to New York while dealing with Mossad operative Lior Stern and unscrupulous collectors. Aaron warns her to back off, but Laurel and Helen continue the hunt for Sargasso and the painting.
This is an exhilarating art investigative thriller with several neat twists. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Jeff and laurel bump into each other and never slows down. Filled with action, but containing a strong cast, readers will want to know why Jeff decided to be dead while Laurel obsesses over the case to the point that trust becomes an issue. Readers will relish Cathi Stoler's taut tale of deception.
In 1850 Boston, twenty-six years old Brahmin Lucy Parker knew there was no place for her in the mansion of her widower father when he married Little Napoleon. When she and widower father Jacob Schneider meet at her younger sister Sarah's wedding, they are attracted to one another and marry three months later.
However, Lucy is unprepared when Jacob informs her that they, accompanied by his five years old son Noah and his brother Abner will head to California seeking gold. On the wagon train heading west, Jacob dies leaving behind a pregnant wife to raise her stepson and their unborn. Train leader Clint Palance, who met Lucy in Boston, protects her and her child while Abner is scornful of her and his nephew.
More a historical tale with a romantic subplot, readers will feel they are part of the harrowing wagon train heading west. Although a different trail the deep detailed descriptions reminded me of the Oregon Trail game. The trek is dangerous for a seasoned scot like Palance, but even more difficult for a pampered miss like Lucy. The audience will enjoy riding along Heartbreak Trail as gold fever strikes the country.
Gordon W. Dale
North Atlantic Books
9781556439728 $19.99 www.northatlanticbooks.com
Simon Wyley resides in a clinical white eight by eight cell. Like his customized externally imposed numbers to identify him with, Wylie knows his latest prison symbolizes his entire life with the lack of color. The room also lacks sound except when he talks to a white wall or white sheet as even the faucets lack the constant drumming of drips as no water comes from them.
Wyley is a husband and father who has been gainfully employed for two decades yet now lingers in a pristine cell with the only interaction is with his interrogators who want him to confess to his crimes against the state. Ironically he thinks of the republic demanding rights overseas, but his was stripped away by some vague national security mumbo jumbo. None of the inquisitionist professionals have formally charged him with a crime nor allowed him any contact with his family or a lawyer; as he has vanished into their white box. However, this genus whimsically answers the questioners with satirical vagueness as he increasingly has no hope to ever leaving his cell alive.
The eerie background feels right for this stark timely political thriller (the Patriot Act quietly has been renewed once again). The story line echoes Benjamin Franklin's wise commentary that "He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither". Fool's Republic is a terrific look at how easily the government gives and takes away under the guise of national security. Simon and readers will learn that to officials there are worse treasonous acts than betraying the nation, the Constitution or the people.
The Valley of Shadows
9781933515946 $25.95 www.oceanview.com
US forces conduct a raid of an Al-Qaeda compound in Pakistan. The Special Forces unit captures laptops that contain plans for terrorist attacks using all types of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) on any or all of Washington, New York, Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles on Election Day.
Department of Homeland Security Special Terrorism Activity Response Team is assigned to find the terrorists, especially the cell leader art history Professor Miraj "Kalakar" Khan, and their WMDs. The mission is like finding a needle in a haystack, but also must be done in two days or else. The DSH Director adds his top field agent Derek Stillwater to the unit.
Besides the timeliness with the Bin Laden death, the fourth Derek Stillwater thriller (see The Fallen, The Devil's Pitchfork and The Serpent's Kiss) is an action-packed tale that has readers running alongside of Derek and his mates. The story line is fast-paced as the clock ticks away. Although with the exception of his on and off nuclear expert girlfriend Cassandra, the unit is somewhat shallow (then again this is Derek's story), fans of a thrill a paragraph will relish The Valley of Shadows.
As adults the four BFFs (Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget) have moved on to their separate ways around the globe though each misses the camaraderie (and traveling pants) they once had. From Australia the younger middle child Tibby sends airline tickets to her three pals to reunite in Greece at the family home of Lena, who resides in Rhode Island. Lena accepts as she ponders taking a second chance with Kostos who she left behind years ago. Like Tibby and Lena, New York City TV actress Carman stops planning her wedding to a frozen fiance in order to join her sisterhood and Bridget, who lives with Eric in San Francisco, heads solo to the Mediterranean.
However, the reunion turns tragic when Tibby drowns. Mourning, the other three read letters she left behind that imply her death was not an accident. As each reaches out to the other while grieving their loss, none of them are as confident about the future anymore especially their friendship. Still they owe Tibby to try perhaps starting with a pants ritual.
This is a super realistic stunner from the opening act as the four girlfriends are adults with new relationships; in fact much of the poignant story line emphasizes that even BFFs move on as geography in spite of social networking is a deal breaker. Series fans will grieve along side the three remaining traveling pants females as the death of a loved on, especially unexpected, is difficult to accept; as we expect our Tibby to show up. Although there are no miracles, readers will appreciate the well written aptly titled Sisterhood Everlasting.
Beg for Mercy
Seattle Police Detective Cole Williams investigates the rape and murder of twenty-one year old Evangeline Gordon. There was not much to do as the overwhelming evidence pointed to decorated war veteran Sean Flynn. The King County prosecutor Krista Slater wins a death sentence verdict against the convicted Sean. Only his sister Megan believes he is innocent and does all she can to save her sibling's life. As for Cole, the case cost him his beloved Megan.
A few years later, Sean has accepted his fate and wants no more appeals. Instead he demands the state set a date. Silently Megan rejects his decision, but knows time is running out for her brother. She finds homicide patterns that match the Gordon murder, but the politicians and the media are satisfied as neither group wants to be proven wrong especially by a mad woman. However, her court appointed case teenager Devany Sinclair changes the dynamics when she hysterically calls her advocate Megan re a bloody corpse. Cole arrives to investigate. He always regretted how he dealt with Megan three years ago and prays he has a second chance knowing his job or his woman were at stake. Cole is unaware that his woman's life is at also on the line.
This is an exhilarating investigative thriller that grips the audience from the moment Sean drops any future appeals once the state Supreme Court rejects his latest and never slows down as the reader feels the desperation that Megan has to save his life. Filled with action, but character driven by the heroine, sub-genre fans will appreciate this taut suspense that keeps the second chance at love in the background, and look forward to Slater's follow up case.
Lady of Seduction
In 1803 Lady Caroline Blacknall never expected to die off the coast of Ireland, but nasty weather left her shipwrecked and clinging for her life. Her goal was to obtain The Chronicle tome on the barrier island Muirin Inish, but now she prays she survives her ordeal at sea.
Sir Grant Dunmore saves Caroline from downing. However, he is also the man who put her life in peril. She believes there is a good soul inside his rakish exterior and obstinately decides to bring his goodness to the surface. As visitors begin to come to the island, Caroline is caught in the crosshairs of dangerous schemes in which her safety depends on believing her heart that Grant as the man she loves will protect her this time.
The final Daughters of Erin Regency romantic suspense (see Duchess of Sin and Countess of Scandal) is an exciting thriller starring a courageous heroine and a man seeking redemption even if it means his life. The story line is fast-paced as fans of the series will marvel at Laurel McKee's talent showcased by the metamorphosis of Grant. Sub-genre fans will enjoy the entire well written trilogy.
Make Mine a Bad Boy
After five futile years of failing to make it as an actress in Hollywood, Hope Scroggs returns home to Bramble, Texas. However, her plan is hammered on two fronts. First she arrives to meet a twin sister computer programmer Faith Aldridge she had not known existed; and second her high school sweetheart Slate Calhoun is in love with her sibling (see Going Cowboy Crazy).
A jealous Hope plans to put on an Academy Award performance at her sister's wedding. Coming from Los Angeles is Bramble's bad boy turned success story Colt Lomax. He crashes Faith's wedding as he heard Hope is marrying someone else. Although their desire is palatable, their battles seem even more powerful. Will the wild ones realize their attraction is love or will both return to live separate lives in Southern California?
The other twin's zany Deep in the Heart of Texas romance is an amusing tale due to the eccentric cast starting with the lead couple. Readers will laugh out loud at the antics of the battling Hollywood duet and the matchmaking antics of the townsfolk as Katie Lane provides a jocular contemporary.
Linda Lee Chaikin
In 1892 Hawaii, Rafe Easton has second thoughts about agreeing to postpone his wedding to his beloved Eden Derrington for a year (see The Spoils of Eden). He knows how much Eden wants to work with her father at his clinic at the Molokai leper's colony while he continues his efforts to abolish the monarchy ruled by Queen Liliuokalani, and have the United States annex the Hawaiian Islands.
Rafe learns Towsend Derrington, who's responsible for his father's death, is in San Francisco. He is deeply concerned as in Nob Hill residing at his partner Parker Judson's abode are his mom Celestine and his baby Kip who he rescued last year and recently received legislative permission to adopt. Fearing for their lives, Rafe revises his plans to take a steamer to California in order to hunt down his father's killer before the man harms Celestine and Kip. At the same time Eden is in peril too.
The second Dawn of Hawaii historical thriller brings to life the kingdom at a time of "crosswinds" changes sweeping the island though the impacts on two extended families (Easton and Derrington clans) and their friends. The story line is anchored in time and place by real persona and locations like the leper colony, and historical tidbits. Although it behooves fans to first read the Spoils of Eden to understand how the lead pair and others got to where they are at the start of Hawaiian Crosswinds, fans will enjoy Linda Lee Chaikin's epic drama.
Devil Without a Cause
In Atlanta, Georgia single mom Faith McFarland will do anything to save the life of her ailing preschooler child Nathan dying from brain cancer. She proves that when she makes a pact with the devil Sammy Divine who insists he can cure her son in exchange for her obtaining a ring that he wants.
Rock and roll superstar Finn Payne wears the ring that Sammy covets. Faith plans to seduce Finn, unaware that the rocker made his own Faustian deal symbolized by the ring. When the pair falls in love, that damnation ring remains between them.
Starting with Gabe's visit to Sammy, fans will enjoy this spin off from the Nicki Styx saga (see Silent Night, Haunted Night). The story line is fast-paced with the lead couple struggling between their respective devilish deals and the Great Deceiver learning some stunning personal truths while asking questions about why the One allowed this son of his without prior warning to taste the forbidden fruit. Sammy proves he can star rather than play second fiddle to his Nicki as he learns some fascinating truths while the rocker and the despondent mother fall in love but the devil remains in the details.
Blood of the Wicked
Holy Order warrior Silas Smith is a true believer in the cause of hunting down and killing witches before they turn what is left of civilization that they original destroyed even deeper into the cesspool of hell. Jess Leigh tries to remain below the grid as a person who has done nothing wrong except be a witch.
In New Seattle at the Pussycat Perch strip jaunt, the hunter and the hunted meet. They are attracted to each other, but she knows his kind burn her kind at the stake. As Jess conceals her witch heritage, Silas reenlists her help as he goes after his target Caleb, a witch who happens to be her brother.
The first visit to the Dark Mission alternate earth is an exciting dark romantic urban fantasy in which Karina Cooper deftly constructs her mythos inside of the fast-paced and action-packed story line. The lead couple is a terrific taboo pairing as he hunts and kills her kind as being the Blood of the Wicked who destroyed the world; now as he falls in love Silas targets her sibling in Operation Echo Location. This is a superb first act as hot romance and dangerous adventure delightfully merge in the Cooper world.
The Neon Graveyard
In Las Vegas, Zodiac Troop member Joanna Archer was the Kairos savior prophesized to win the war between the Light and Dark. Now she is a pregnant shell of herself lacking her paranormal powers and even her beloved Hunter Lorenzo, who sired her unborn; is one of many who she loved and trusted betrayed her.
Still she refuses to quit as she fears never seeing her beloved Hunter imprisoned in Midheaven by Solange the demented goddess.She has become a member of the Greys shadow warriors ready to take the battle to evil including her father the Tulpa who wants to control his grandchild when the kid is born. As Solange tortures Hunter for betraying her, the insane goddess schemes to destroy what is left of Joanna's soul perhaps through the former Kairos' child. In Vegas, Warren, the Light Troop Leader has determined that Joanna is evil and must die along with her allies, but he wants the child who he claims is the true Kairos; innocent lives dying is acceptable to him.
The Neon Graveyard is a great finish to the strong Signs of the Zodiac urban fantasy. The story line is loaded with action, but it is the vivid contrasting descriptions of Vegas and Midheaven that makes the thriller enticing as the audience will want to know how it ends for Joanna and the Greys as the eternal enemies Light and Dark have a common cause to extinct these upstarts. Newcomers will not get the full savor of this terrific tense ending as it behooves the readers to have followed the five signs of the Zodiac before perusing the "Final Sign".
The Sins of Viscount Sutherland
Viscount Grayson Sutherland mourns the death of his wife and child as he plans suicide by duel. Instead, he lives while his opponent lies dead. His remorse and guilt on top of his grief makes him a nasty drunk.
The sister of Sutherland's victim Claire Ashcroft is raging at Sutherland for the death of her brother. Seeking revenge she plans to break the womanizing sop. Thus, she comes to London pretending to be a widow though she has never been married. Her plan is to seduce Sutherland until he falls in love with her; and then leave. However, he seduces the virgin but she becomes pregnant and they agree to marry, which gives her a close look at the darkened soul of a man who can only redeem himself with love.
This engaging historical romance stars two fascinating beloved enemies whose matchmaker is the man Gray shot dead, her brother. The story line focuses on the relationship between the lead couple although the plot has a Bill Murray's movie Groundhog Day feel as the pair fight over nothings, make love, fight again and make love again, etc. as the deaths that haunt them fade into the background. Still fans will enjoy the redemption of Viscount Sutherland who believes he has so many sins he deserves hell not the heaven offered by Claire.
Lord Langley is Back In Town
For two years the Ton assumed traitor Ellis, Baron Langley was dead. Now, he is back with plans to uncover who accused him unjustly of treason and why as the widower wants to go home to spend time with his beloved daughters after twenty-five years of loyal service to the Crown.
As he climbs up a drainpipe of his house, the quintet of Nannies invade the same home occupied by Lady Minerva Sterling. While he enters her bedroom, she tosses out the army of ex's. He offers her a betrothal of convenience so she can avoid scandal and he can avoid women. She accepts but gives him three prim and proper rules that he acquiesces to. Still, as he investigates the accusations, he tries to seduce the ugly flannel off his fiancee; not realizing his adversaries give better opportunities to hold her than his seductive attempts.
The latest Standon Widows Regency romance (see Mad About the Duke and How I Met My Countess) is a great suspense thriller as the disgraced hero works diligently to clear his name and to make it with the prim and proper widow. The story line is fast-paced but it is the zany cast especially the Nannies who make for an entertaining, often amusing, but always dangerous to either the heart or the body tale.
The Reluctant Vampire
In spite of her objection against babysitting the new teen vampire Stephanie, Marguerite assigns protection of the tyro to rogue hunter Drina Argenis. Knowing her leader never does anything without a secret agenda, Drina wonders why her when she only does field cleansing.
Marguerite believes her niece Drina and Harper Stoyan are life mates, but knows the latter will be in denial as his life mate Jenny died under eighteen months ago when he tried to turn her. Drina has no problem with Harper being hers, but knows he cannot accept the concept of two life mates so shortly apart. However, the pair better focus on living because someone wants Stephanie dead and killing two other vampires is acceptable to this unknown renegade.
This is a terrific entry in the Argeneau saga (see Born to Bite) as Lynsay Sands deftly adds humor starting with Drina's descriptions of Tall, dark and doorstop, and includes self deprecating commentary mostly by Harper to a taut suspense thriller. The fast-paced story line hooks the audience from the moment the heroine lands in cold Canada for the first time and never slows down as Ms. Sands provides a fabulous tale that hooks us grateful throughout.
Too Wicked to Love
In 1876 affluent Lady Genevieve Wallington-Wallis distrusts males having been hurt by her deceiving former fiance, Midshipman Bradley Overton. However, Genny is upset with herself for being attracted to Admiral Samuel Breedlove's coachman John Ready especially after a shared kiss. Still she does not trust him for two reasons: he does not act like a coachman and more important he is a man.
John conceals from his employer that he is a duke seeking to prove his innocence before he is hung for a murder he did not commit; instead Raventhorpe killed his wife Elizabeth as he has others in the way of his sex trading business and framed John who fled to America, but is back. As he seeks evidence, he becomes the protector of Genny's friend Annabella Bailey who has drawn Raventhorpe's attention. Genny joins John on his quest to keep Annabella safe and find proof that Raventhorpe is a human trafficking killer.
This exciting Victorian amateur sleuth romantic suspense hooks the audience with the opening scene introduction to the evil snake Raventhorpe and never slows down as undercover John tries to protect two women and find proof to hang the malevolent enemy. Sub-genre fans will find it difficult to stop reading until the final confrontation occurs.
Guarding a Notorious Lady
Lady Rosalind Devine loves matchmaking, but she thinks she cleverly conceals her passion. Her brother (see At the Bride Hunt Ball) does not trust her to be left alone so as he goes off on his honeymoon, he asks his best friend Marquess Nicholas Kincaid to watch his meddlesome sister Rosalind.
He thinks he cleverly conceals keeping her safe, but struggles with his attraction to the obstinate Rosalind who fell in love with him seven long seasons ago when she was nineteen years old. Knowing her sibling, she is sure he appointed his best friend as her warden. She vows to herself to expose him as her protector by making him earn his keep even as she finds herself dreaming and considering how to change Nicholas's role into that of a passionate lover.
This amusing gender battle is a fun Regency romance starring two delightful lead protagonists. Rosalind is a courageous woman who not just accepts but prefers spinsterhood rather than settling while the only man that she loves fears what she does to his heart (and other body parts). Sub-genre fans will enjoy this warm jocular historical.
City of Ruins
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Having found that first Dignity vessel and its Stealth Tech (see Diving into the Wreck), Boss, no longer a hermit and her crew seek more similar ancient ships and technology. Currently she and her Nobody's Business team explore the ancient caverns of Vaycehn while remaining her stealth zeal as she knows the Empire leadership covets anything like Stealth Technology that would increase their power.
Boss struggles with not panicking in the eerie underworld environment as she is most comfortable in the vast openness of space. Adding to her consternation is technology seems to be failing inside these deadly widening holes where recently archeologists have died. The growing rips to the orb are tearing apart the planet at a time when the indigenous population wants the outsiders to leave.
This great futuristic science fiction thriller successfully deploys the underlying premise that to the victors goes the history books; the heroine and her team comprehend this generalization, but may not survive to tell anyone their lesson as they appear heading to become a forgotten loser. The story line is action-packed from the moment Boss comes to the planet as she and the readers find out more about Stealth Tech and the Dignity Vessels. City of Ruins is another intelligent action packed sojourn into the Rusch Diving universe.
The Falling Machine
Andrew P. Mayer
In 1880 New York as the bridge to Brooklyn is being built, members of the secret Paragon society are stunned with the murder of their chief, Sir Dennis Darby. However, even more frightening is his inventions have been stolen by the killer. Darby's prize creation Tom the AI automaton is considered excess junk by the Paragon who internally squabble over replacing their leader.
Aware of what he is and what happened to his inventor, Tom unites with Darby's top mentee twenty year old Sarah Stanton to investigate what led to the homicide and who killed Darby. They distrust the cabal that they belong to as those loyal argue over positions of authority and the use of Fortified Steam; while they fear evil adversaries have gained access to the inner sanctum of the Society of Steam.
The opening act of the Society of Steam historical amateur sleuth fantasy sets the New York world from the beginning at the Brooklyn side of the bridge construction when Sir Dennis asks Tom the Automaton whether he is bored. Thus readers will believe from the start and never feel otherwise that we are in a late Victorian age NYC. Although very few subplots are ended, readers will enjoy the teaming up of the beautiful intelligent Sarah and Tom the brilliant AI Automaton as they investigate the murder of their beloved mentor.
Powerful Magick Alek Chaikoveii is depressed so his friend Byron Andropov hopes to get him out of his funk. He asks Lilya Orensdaughter who has entered the Temple of Dreams to help. She agrees as she feels she owes Byron who saved her life following a vicious assault when she was eighteen by a madman.
Alek has wanted Lilya since he healed her from her injuries, but delayed showing his feelings. As he opens his heart to her, she feels fickle between loving Alek and Byron though her best friend Evangeline has two husbands (see Jeweled); while her personal predator who injured her stalks her as in his mind Lilya belongs to him, dead or alive.
The second Court of Edaeii menage a trois erotic fantasy romance is an engaging heated but dark thriller that has a medieval and modern day (outdoor cafe in the downtown drinking coffee) Eastern Europe feel to the plot. The lead trio has suffered traumas, but love heals all wounds in their respective cases; while the obsessed villain acts maniacal in his belief that Lilya belongs to him. Jaded is an exciting character driven tale as readers anticipate a showdown over who controls Lilya.
Addicted to You
Movie director Rill Pierce was born in Ireland to a single mom. He never learned who his father was. He attended UCLA and becomes a success in Hollywood. His life is perfect until his beloved Eden dies in a car accident. Unable to cope, he turns to alcohol while his career crashes. He ends up in Vulture's Canyon, Illinois with no future only a long forgotten past.
Beverly Hills attorney Katie Hughes has secretly loved Rill but hid her feelings due to their friendship. She worries about him and so she searches for him. When she finds him hammered drunk, he makes love to her. She cannot stop him as he fulfills her deepest wish. Stunned with what he did while intoxicated, he is further shocked when Katie becomes pregnant. Her carrying his child is the impetus for Rill to go home seeking his roots.
Addicted to You is an entertaining contemporary romance as fans will enjoy the heated relationship between the lead couple. The story line is character driven, but needed more of Rill's back story early on to gain reader empathy for him. Still fans will appreciate his return to sobriety thanks to his angel.
Three Sinful Wishes
"Sinful Desires". Roommates Dani and Liam are in love and heat, but she must confront her past and he must reveal what he conceals.
"Sinful Sensations". Inn manager Bailey knows logically making love with her employer Cameron is inappropriate, but she cannot stop her desires while he is a love them leave them type except this time it feels different.
"Sinful Pleasures". Psychic Kaya is attracted to roommates Jace and Nick; they reciprocate the need and pleasure.
These heated passionate romances star three BFFs and the men who bring lust and love into their respective lives after each makes a sinful wish.
Deeper Than Midnight
The vampire myth began when eight ancient outworlders came to earth and mated with those females who wore a Breed mark because they are capable of baring a Breed male offspring. In time, the sons turned against their evil and cruel sires, but one escaped their wrath and hid in hibernation.
In the present, Dragos imprisoned him and forced him to copulate with Breedmates. The Children of that union were Gen X warriors, who were more powerful than most of the breed. Dragos puts a slave collar on these children as he trains them to be amoral ruthless killers. Dragos' enemy The Order liberates one of his killers Hunter who vows to kill his vicious jailer and his psychopathic brothers. The Order raid a compound and free Corrine Bishop held prisoner by their evil adversary for decades. When she and Hunter meet, there is an instant attraction, but neither can accept the soft feelings; he never knew love only hate and she had love tortured out of her. While fleeing from Dragos' henchmen, Corrine resolutely wants to find her son Nathan, but conceals this from her escort until they make love. Hunter believes Corrine is setting herself up for heartbreak and perhaps death because like him her son is a trained ruthless killer. She persuades him they should try.
The ninth Midnight Breed romantic fantasy is a fantastic entry that is as great as its predecessors (see Taken by Midnight). The story is told from multiple viewpoints; readers will find especially refreshing and fascinating understanding how a breed feels when he enters the Bloodlust stage before he turns into a mindless Rogue who cares only about drinking human blood. The Adrian vampire mythos expands as series fans will appreciate the meaning of Home.
Death Before Bedtime
Gore Vidal writing as Edgar Box
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
Highly respected United States Senator Leander Rhodes asks Manhattan based public relations expert Peter Sargent to visit him at his home. He wants Peter to help him develop his PR plan for his run for the presidency and to stay on staff to work the media.
However, the night before Rhodes is to announce his candidacy, someone murders the senator in his bed. Out of work at least as a presidential candidate's publicist, Sargent investigates who killed the respected reactionary politician. He finds a wealth of suspects with motives and opportunity to include the victim's immediate family (of which he shared a sleeper car with the victim's daughter Ellen from New York to DC), an aide and an ambitious Governor who craved being a senator.
This reprint of a satirical 1950s amateur sleuth is a fun timely tale that lampoons the cynical pompousness of the DC insiders starting with "don't call him Dusty" Rhodes (obviously not a NY Giant fan) chairman of the Spoils and Patronage Committee (both political parties can apply). Peter is terrific as he works the case of the murder of his client, which in his mind means getting into the DC dirt. Death Before Bedtime is a terrific political whodunit.
The Violet Flash
David C. Cook
While their dad Reverend Cholmondeley lies in a coma, Chelsea the amateur sleuth tells her brother Chesterton that the excessive wind is being caused by a hole in the sky and not just Porter's Store where Sky Porter makes deliveries. Zac Smith arrives with the newspaper whose headline is a plane crashed caused by a missing second; at least that is what Dr. Stromway insists occurred; a phenomenon that happens every 1,400,000 years. Iris and Sky join the siblings Zac. When a tear occurs in the Blue Umbrella, a horrified Ches watches his pain in the butt sibling vanish inside the canopy.
Ches learns that the atomic clocks stopped beating for a second three days in a row. In those flash moments accidents have happened around the globe; some deadly. Ches wonders if his sister's disappearance and the missing seconds are related. On a quest to rescue Chelsea, he needs to better understand time so he visits Myron Stinchcombe the clockmaker and Sky the world's greatest authority on anything at least in Ches' opinion. However, instead of comfort from what he learns, Ches pieces together clues of a plot to destroy the world; to save the planet may cost him the return of his sibling.
Though Ches has recovered emotionally from Evil Dada stealing his years, he remains ignorant on so much taken for granted by his friends like Grand Central Station. That naivety he brings to the story line makes the sequel to the Blue Umbrella a terrific whimsical thriller as he tries to make up for lost time in a search for Chelsea. With a super support cast adding to the fun, young adult readers will enjoy The Violet Flash as the hero knows time is running out.
David C. Cook
Sixteen year old Chris Buckley remains an outsider having recently moved from Chicago suburb Libertyville, Illinois to live with his mom in her hometown of Solitary, North Carolina. They reside in the cabin of his missing Uncle Robert. He anticipated a major adjustment, but not what happened especially to Jocelyn who he wanted to make his girlfriend (see Solitary).
While his mom suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Chris continues to have canine attack problems even as he meets his cousin Jared who apparently rescues him from the latest dog assault. Jared wants to know where his father is while also insisting the town is shut down with the snowstorm making it easier to achieve this. However, as he barely keeps from soiling his pants as he is must choose between life and death over the edge of Marsh Falls, Chris trusts no one especially not his mentally battered mom, a cousin who says his aunt is unaware he exists; nor Pastor Jeremiah Marsh whose closets are filled with skeletons.
The atmosphere turns darker and gloomier as Chris struggles with good and evil as he continues his quest to learn the haunting secrets of Solitary. Although cognizant of the threat to his life that his mission causes, he is just beginning to understand the risk to his soul. Young adults and older readers will relish the second Buckley Solitary thriller as the hero struggles with comprehending what is going on in this small North Carolina town.
She Makes It Look Easy
David C. Cook
In Essex Falls Ariel Baxter is the mother of three rambunctious sons (eight year old Donovan, six year old Dylan, and four year old Duncan). She works hard at her family photography business while her husband's work schedule leaves them with little time between them. Her prime pet peeve is how cheap her spouse is as he saves for a monsoon.
The Miller family is the next door neighbor to the Baxter brood. To Ariel they are perfect. The matriarch Justine always dresses to perfection, the husband Mark insures the lawn is mowed and nice looking; the two daughters (Cameron and Caroline) are well behaved. Also neighbors are Betsy and Tom; he is Justine's former boyfriend. Ariel ignores single mom divorcee Erica as being impaired by not having a husband-father. Instead she emulates Justine the great organizer.
Intriguing, readers will relish this fine neighborhood tale as Ariel learns perfection is not quite easy to achieve especially usually at exorbitant personal costs. The ensemble cast is fully developed so that readers can compare their traits just as Ariel did when she concludes Justine makes it look easy. However, as she learns more about her perfect neighbor Ariel begins to appreciate the brown patchy grass seems greener in her yard. This is an entertaining look at images and role models as nobody's perfect.
Bridge to a Distant Star
David C. Cook
At night in the Tampa Bay area during a horrific storm, the Wilder Wanderer freighter crashes into the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Soon afterward drivers failing to see the break to the bridge, drive into the tumultuous bay below. Families like those below will be impacted at what happened in Tampa Bay on that fateful stormy night.
Maureen Roberts, mother of two daughters, struggles with her oldest teenage Colleen. She also has issues with her spouse Bill and her belief in God. Needing time away Maureen tells Bill she will take their nursery school aged daughter Aubrey with her while her spouse and Colleen spend time together.
Charles and Fran Thomason are proud of their child, Charlie although their attitudes differ when it comes to him. When Charlie's leg collapses during a soccer game, the trio struggles with what the Lord has brought to them.
While her parents are in Ethiopia, on a missionary visit, Michal McHenry attends biblical college. She is divided between keeping up the family missionary mission and doing something else. Michal visits her Aunt Sue in Florida seeking solace and advice after two incidents at school has shaken her foundation.
Based on the real "day the bridge fell" the author's late son's belief in God and with a nod to The Bridge of San Luis by Wilder, Bridge to a Distant Star is a poignant inspirational tale that focuses on three families struggling with what happened. Touching and tense even before the tragedy strikes, readers know what to expect yet are gripped by Carolyn Williford's intense character driven tale.
Lisa T. Bergren
David C. Cook
Sisters Gabi and Lia Betarrini have returned to the present after a stint in 1332 Italy (see Waterfall). Her recently widowed mom archeologist Dr. Adri Betarrini wonders where her two daughters found the centuries-old clothing in such good shape that they are wearing. Gabi fell in love in medieval times and wants to return to her Marcello. Lia agrees to help her. The siblings know the risk but try anyway and succeed.
The villagers of Siena welcome the heroines who were keys to their defeat of Florence. On the other hand the losers want to assassinate the outsiders who were instrumental in their losing the battle. Marcello shares Gabi's feelings of love, but knows she must decide between her twenty-first century and his fourteenth century.
The second River of Time travel thriller is a terrific tale mostly again due to the transplanted sisters as Gabi still has problems with being too tall to find female clothing that fits and both struggle with taken for granted necessities of modern day life. Filled with twists (especially a stunner at the end), fans will enjoy this fine story while wondering which century Gabi will choose.
Wish You Were Here
While holidaying in Corsica, eight years ago Beth Allen met and fell in love with Jack Thornfield. He apparently felt the same way as he proposed and she accepted. Only he vanished without a word. Heartbroken, Beth returned home to England's Lake District.
Beth obtains a position running the European Sector of Big Outdoors travel agency. She is euphoric as the job seems great and her family needs the income ever since her father was injured in an accident. However, her excitement collapses when she meets the CEO, Jack. Stunned Beth agrees to work there only if Jack agrees never to mention dumping her and their relationship is to remain strictly business only. Beth and Jack still have the deep feelings but he tries to adhere to her stipulations until she heads to Corsica. Jack accompanies her hoping the magic will give him a second chance.
This is an entertaining second chance contemporary romance starring a strong cast to include the lead antagonists, her family (her dad and sister Lou) and the office. Readers will want to know the reason he dumped her although the cause of Jack's vanishing without a regard to Beth's feeling as he owed her an explanation is weak for such a strong person. Still, fans will enjoy his attempts to regain the trust he nuked in vividly described Corsica.
Cat Star Chronicles: Virgin
On Luxaria Twelve, Captain Jack lectures starship pilot Daxtronian "Dax" Vandilorsk, a Zetithian like her spouse, for remaining "The Great Virgin". Dax understands the need to sire the next generation after the near extinction caused by the treacherous Nedwuts, but has found no one who entices him. That is until now. The waitress at the bar has Dax thinking erotic thoughts. However her abusive boyfriend Lars notices Sax staring at Avondia "Ava" Karon and warns the cat to stay away or else.
Sick of Lars who beat her and the dead end job on a backwater planet, Ava decides to go home to Acquerei where boring (Russ) supersedes vicious (Lars). She buys a one way ticket on Dax's vessel. The Zetithian is euphoric as he now has the opportunity to smell his passenger and determine if she is his one.
This entry focuses almost entirely on the relationship between the lead couple as he is sort of like the Forty Year Old Virgin and she has become relationship-phobic. There is a secondary plot involving the heroine's father, but that is minor in comparison to Dax's amusing clumsy courtship of Ava assisted by his sidekick womanizing Waroun and Kots the droid matchmaker. Series fans will enjoy this heated Cat Star Chronicles (see Fugitive and Hero).
Heart of the Highland Wolf
Julia MacPherson and her friend movie assistant director Maria Baquero are staying at Baird Cottage just a short walk from Argent Castle where a movie is being shot. Better known at least back in the States as Julia Wildthorn, author of Highland werewolf romances, she expects her trip to Scotland will end her writer's block and she hopes to find an ancient secret box her grandfather says the family hid there. The castle laird Ian MacNeill has been a pain in the butt but that is Maria's problem muses Julia.
However, starting with flight delays, the trip goes awry. A car accident leads to Ian carrying Julia into the castle. MacNeill realizes the American he holds is a wolf just like he is. Since she hid her heritage, he distrusts her but to his chagrin the wolf wants her. She wants to reveal the truth though she is unsure what that is to her mate, but fears he will kick her back across the ocean.
This is a fun werewolf romance starring two likable leads and a strong support cast; mostly his clan. The story line is fast-paced yet the refreshing scenes occur when Wildthorn goes into writer's mode. Fans will appreciate Terry Spear's entertaining tale even though the wolves are more in the background than usual, but the romance between the writer and the laird is an enjoyable contemporary.
Demons Prefer Blondes
Dominic Duvane of the Fore Demon Council informs senior demon Rafael Deleon that Hell's northern region Prince Belial's Infernati warriors attacked the guards protecting the chest. Belial captured Rafe's sister Coby, but she bravely sent the chest to earth to buy time in order to prevent the enemy from obtaining it. Dominic orders Rafe to retrieve the chest while he rescues Coby from their adversary's dungeon.
Cosmetologist Lucia Gregory has the chest; with her friend Serah Bear she attempts to open it; unaware that she would be freeing some nasty demons of the damned. Rafe arrives and realizes that Lucy is a succubus and that he wants her. Both are stunners to him as he never expected to meet a succubus or desire her. As a war begins, Rafe and Lucy fall in love. Each understands they must return the demons to their hell so he brings in his allies and she brings in her circle.
The opening Demons Unleashed romantic fantasy is a terrific often humorous thriller. The characterizations are superb and the Ayers universe deftly created inside an exhilarating story line. Sub-genre readers will appreciate the amusing romance between the demon and the succubus who also have a world to save.
Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard
In summer, the Bennet family goes on vacation to the English resort town Salcombe. The older daughters Jane and Lizzy love listening to their I-Pods, surfing, and seeing the latest fashion. The matriarch is ecstatic to learn that the house next door Netherpollock is owned by a rich single male Mr. Bingley who falls for Jane at first sight. Bingley is friends with William Darcy, owner of the luxurious yacht Pemberley.
Mr. Wickham tells Lizzy awful things about Mr. Darcy. She believes him because he speaks like a cultured gentleman while Darcy is surly and withdrawn, but is attracted to Lizzy. When he shows his feelings for her, she rejects him; Lizzy soon learns that Darcy is the gentleman and Wickham is the cad. Mrs. Bennet hopes Lizzy changes her mind because she wants the prestige of her daughters marrying wealth. When Darcy and Bingley leave, Jane and Lizzy are depressed believing they will never see their respective man again.
Although this is another of the zillion Jane Austen offspring, Pride and Prejudice in the twenty-first century is a whimsical amusing tale of misconceptions as the Bennet females learn to not judge a book by only its cover. The modern gizmos do not intrude on the classic theme of people concealing their feelings behind facades as the essence of the key cast remains consistent with the original intended characterization. Except for purists, Jane Austen fans will enjoy this contemporary rendition of timeless Pride and Prejudice.
Lori J. Schiel
Before Celia, High Priestess of the Laurel Tree Coven, met Jen the veterinarian, she was unaware of how many strays are out there. Thus she agrees to help Jen catch feral felines. Leaving behind her familiar Gordy the dog, Celia is in the woods trapping when she hears a terrifying noise. Panicking she flees but the growl gets louder and her car is no where in sight. Calming herself down, Celia knows she went the wrong way deeper into the woods while peacefully waiting for whatever the beast is to come for her, but as the assault comes she screams in horror.
As she continues to dream of death recently, Alex Grisham wonders what that means even as she ponders whether she should continue to live with controlling Glenn. Jen calls her asking if she heard from Celia as she could not go trapping with their High Priestess due to babysitting issues. Leaving her Berkley's Books, Alex goes to Celia's house to find Gordy alone. She takes Gordy with her. Alex with her familiar Rune the Abyssinian, her Wiccan Sisters and mysterious animal control officer "call me Dan" Danielson search for Celia. An unknown adversary attacks Alex, she believes one of the two men in her life wants her dead though she is unaware that the motive is evil which has begun a doomsday scheme.
The key to this superb investigative urban fantasy is the background of the Wiccan Sisters who are moms, veterinarians, bookstore owners, etc.; this anchors the paranormal in a normal environs. The story line is fast-paced as Alex and crew hunt for Celia while the heroine is torn between love and death. The first Wiccan Sisterhood paranormal thriller is am entertaining tale.
Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs: A True Story of Bad Breaks and Small Miracles
Anchorage Daily News columnist Heather Lende was riding her bike when a Chevy pickup ran over her with one of the tires rolling over her lap. She has slowly healed encouraged by a retinue of health practitioners, family, and friends. This memoir focuses on healing in her hometown of Haines, Alaska where the townsfolk encourage their favorite columnist to return from the near dead to the living; her late battling mom acting from the grave as her model. The residents are a hearty eccentric group with people like Wilma praying with her feet and others as charming in a frontier way just like her. Realizing the irony of when she was nearly fatally hurt, Ms. Lende muses about musing over her tour of If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name and wondering if she should re-label her tour Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs: A True Story of Bad Breaks and Small Miracles. This is a terrific inspirational biography due to the wonderful look at the residents of Haines.
You Belong to Me
Early in the morning while singing along with ZZ Top, Baltimore medical examiner Dr. Lucy Trask jogs. She stops when she notices sexagenarian Mr. Pugh sitting by himself at a chess table. She assumes he wandered out of his apartment so she goes over to help him home only to find the Alzheimer's ailing man dead with his face gone. She calls 911; Baltimore PD Detectives J.D. Fitzpatrick and Stevie Mazzetti lead the inquiry. The shoes are wrong leading Trask to realize the victim is not Mr. Pugh.
The victim is identified as Christopher Jones due to cheek implants, but the cops find Jones alive. Lucy realizes the deceased is cosmetic surgeon Dr. Russ Bennett, who she has a history with. Soon other tortured dead are found, some of which the M.E. knows. Lucy wonders if the psychopath is tied to the decades old incident that left her distrusting people.
This is a strong police procedural with a deep cast starting with the beleaguered heroine, the cop who she likes but avoids and the amoral killer. Fast-paced with superb twists, readers will relish this terrific tale of an insane predatory killing machine lacking any societal restraints.
John Shakespeare retired from field work to be with his wife Catherine and their four years old daughter Mary. He teaches at a small school and finds his two females superseding the excitement he had working for Queen Elizabeth.
Since he has been a family man since leaving the intelligencer field, John is surprised when the Earl of Essex asks him to investigate the disappearance of the Roanoke colonists who are rumored to be safe and sound in London. Essex's rival Queen Elizabeth's Privy Councilor spymaster Sir Robert Cecil does not trust the Earl who he thinks might have seditious schemes. As such, Sir Cecil orders Shakespeare to serve the Queen as he did five years ago (see Martyr).
Revenger is a great Elizabethan mystery as readers will feel they are in London during a tumultuous period in the Queen's reign with the Spanish war on-going, a plague devastating London, and intrigue inside her royal court. The mystery of Roanoke is handled deftly while Shakespeare proves worthy as he holds the plot together while not shocking to him finds strange even perverted bedfellows on both sides of the argument between Cecil and Essex.
In Sand Point, Oregon, eighteen year old Kelly James wonders why her relationship with Ben Santoni ended. Kelly is also worried about her single mom Shanna who falls in love all the time and expects them to marry her like this Nate guy she is seeing. When Shanna crashes the car killing herself, Kelly as the passenger expected Ben to rescue them, but another first responder Mitch Lawson arrived instead.
Fifteen years later, Ben is the police chief and widower Kelly Lawson is the city hall public relations specialist. She is also a mystery writer under another name whose novels have been donated by her publisher to the town library. However two men were recently murdered as described in her books. When he learns the identity of the author and that someone is conducting surveillance of her home, Ben tries to protect the woman he never stopped loving.
Although the heroine holds Ben in contempt for not being there for her during the tragic accident fifteen years ago seems over the top of Mt. Hood even factoring in shock and grief, fans will enjoy this second chance police procedural romance. The investigation is fun to read as fact follows fiction.
Twice the Chance
While jogging in Ashley Greens Park near Charleston, South Carolina, Jazz Lenox notices the redhead with the right shade of color. Although she has seen the tint a dozen times since moving here three years ago, this preadolescent is the first that is the approximate age of the twins she gave up for adoption eight years ago when she was behind bars convicted of armed robbery. She sees a boy who could be her other child and with them is a man she assumes is there father playing soccer with them. Because she was bleeding from a fall and the ball came to her, Uncle Matt Caminetti accompanied by Robbie and Brooke asks if she is okay.
Matt invites her to stop by every Sunday at the park. Jazz knows she should not, but she is attracted to him and wants to know more about her offspring. When Matt and Jazz begin going out, she knows she owes him the entire truth, but fears that will end their relationship as well as her time with the kids since he will never allow harm to his nephew and niece.
Although the initial coincidences are a bit of a stretch even with Jazz checking every redhead for three years and having a somewhat unique coloring, fans will enjoy this family drama as Jazz knows the twins have wonderful parents. The key to this engaging well written contemporary is the heroine, whose torment feels real and makes for a complex romance.
Married by June
As he struggles with writing his wedding vows political speech writer Cooper Murphy decides instead to end his engagement to wedding planner Jorie Burke. She is heartbroken at a time her business is tanking though she admits herself she would have learned to love him even if it was her late mom's initial doing.
His parents demand a seat in the US Senate, which his brother Bailey held from Pennsylvania. However, Bailey has a newborn out of wedlock, which make him poison to his constituents. "Saint Cooper" as Bailey calls his brother will replace as the senator for the remaining few months to the term; heir apparent cousin Theo will be thirty and run in the election. To hold the "family" seat, Cooper needs Jorie as his fiancee because word of his dumping her on top of his sibling's indiscretion would lose the governor's support. Jorie accepts a new engagement only if they work on their relationship.
This refreshing political romance works because the audience will believe in the emotions of the lead couple. Fans will accept the tenet that politics is a contact sport played by amoral opportunists (no wonder Congress has such a low rating). Character driven especially by a strong cast (his father, uncle and the state governor are something else while Bay's logic for the affair is a stunner) readers will enjoy a look behind the scenes of DC power brokering.
A Cowgirl's Secret
Laura Marie Altom
Harlequin American Romance
A decade ago, pregnant teenager Daisy Buckhorn fled Weed Gulch, Oklahoma leaving behind her heartbroken family and a despondent boyfriend Luke Montgomery. She settled in San Francisco as Julie Smith and went to school until now the single mom is a practicing attorney.
Luke finds her in San Francisco as she battles a fever. She wants to explain why she fled Buckhorn Ranch by still feels shame from when popular family friend Henry Pohl molested her. When her BFF Heidi arrives with Kolt, Luke is shocked and irate as he knows the ten years old is his son. He rips into her for being a coward by running away with her teen pregnancy. Kolt believes his father never loved him, but the truth makes him question his mom for the first time. Still in love with her while also detesting her, Luke wants the full truth even as he forces a reluctant Daisy accompanied by Kolt to return to Weed Gulch, site of her nightmare.
Besides a second chance romance, this contemporary family drama contains a powerful child/teen molestation subplot. The cast is fully developed including returning Buckhorn Ranch characters (see The Rancher's Twin Troubles and The Bull Rider's Christmas Baby). However, a late suspense subplot detracts from an otherwise deep tale.
Falling for the Nanny
Harlequin American Romance
Alec Denny fled Boston with his four years old daughter Fiona after her mom Sabrina endangered the child. He took her to his hometown Safe harbor, California where her maternal grandma can provide her loving stability.
His high school girlfriend Patty Hartman, a former cop, is in town too working as a private investigator. He knows he hurt her when he broke up but they were teens in love and his studies to become a doctor took precedent. When Sabrina threatens Fiona's safety, Dr. Alec, who vowed never again regardless of inane court rulings that jeopardized his little darling once before, hires Patty to keep his beloved child safe. However, the former sweethearts soon realize their heated attraction is much more.
This second chance at love romance is a wonderful contemporary starring a terrific lead couple and a string support cast. The Safe Harbor Medical story line (see Officer Daddy) is for the most part amusingly fast-paced, but fills with taut suspense when Sabrina surfaces. All though her scheme seems insanely over the Sierra Madres, fans will enjoy father and daughter Falling for the Nanny.
FBI agent Alaina Paulsen investigates serial killings. She suspects recluse bestselling horror author Trent Baines is the psychopath as he writes detailed books on homicides that are three decades old as if he was a witness to the murders.
Alaina and Agent Vonner meet with Trent to interrogate him and recognize they were once a married couple in a past life together. When an apparent copy cat begins killing, Alaina fears history repeating itself as she loved the killer and cop back then. However, her biggest consternation comes from her growing belief that the writer she loves today was the murderer then and is the psychopath now.
With a nod to Kenneth Branagh's movie Dead Again, Deja Vu is an exciting reincarnation romantic suspense. The fast-paced story line places the emphasis on the psychological tension that has Alaina wound tight; as she prays that her beloved Trent is not a serial killer although the evidence strongly affirms he is. The romantic subplot serves more to add to the Suspicion that Trent is the killer as Lisa Childs provides a taut paranormal police procedural thriller.
The Vampire Who Loved Me
After vampires converted her loved ones, Dr. Rebecca Chamberlin hated the vile creatures. She works diligently on a vaccination in order to cure what she believes is a disease. When she is changed into the beasts she detests, she increases her efforts to find a cure.
Vampire clan security commander Achilles Stefanos watches closely the scientist in order to keep his species safe. Her financial supporters inject Beck with her serum only to find it fails. Achilles knows he must complete her transformation or Beck will die. As the pair begins to fall in love, someone modifies her vaccine in order to change vampires to their actual chronological age; which means vampire like Achilles an Ancient Greek will turn to dust.
The pairing of an ancient Greek warrior vampire and a modern day scientist make for a great tale as neither wants to love the other, but each learns you can't always get what you want. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Achilles fears the newest fledgling is archenemy Dr. Chamberlain and never slows down as the heroine seeks the cure for vampirism.
In 1715 in the squalid Dundee inn, Gregor Ramsay enjoyed the cat fight between the Harlot and another wench due to the fine butt of the former. With all sorts of wagering going on, Gregor's favorite pins the other. Gregor learns that the winner Jessie Taskill is known as the wild Harlot of Dundee. The loser Eliza accuses Jesse of witchcraft. She is arrested and taken to the jail to be burned like her late mom at the stakes.
A minister enters her cell not to give her a chance to repent, but instead an opportunity to escape. Gregor believes she is the one with spirit and intelligence who can help him fulfill his decade long thirst for revenge against the man who destroyed his family. His plan is simple; she will seduce his enemy. She agrees to his plan but plots to seduce her business partner while concealing that Eliza's words of accusation are not false though she never used witchcraft to win the wrestling match.
This is an exciting, enticing eighteenth century romance with a touch of whimsical witchcraft. The lead couple is an ideal pairing of an obsessed avenger and a vigorous harlot who understands supply and demand as her body is the only commodity she can sell without being burned to death. Readers will appreciate Saskia Walker's bawdy historical with a bewitching nod to the Memoirs of A Woman of Pleasure.
A decade ago in Denver, teenagers Snake "Dez" Mendez and Reese Montana met and fell in love while defeating Cobra. However, their relationship ends when insane winikin Louis Keban, who Dez had run away from before he hooked up with Reese, caught up to the teen. Keban cut him with a cursed blade that changed Dez, turning him into a demonic possessed felon.
The Nightkeepers recruit Dez and remove the shadow from his brain. He diligently works at fighting evil in New Mexico as he believes he has an IOU for all problems he caused as a criminal. However, recently Dez vanishes without a trace. In Cancun, Nightkeeper leader Strike hires private investigator Reese to find Dez who she thought was dead in an incident three years ago. Reese locates Dez; he explains to her that he searches for Keban, who is fulfilling a prophecy that will bring Lord Vulture from the underworld; what he fails to tell his beloved is his role in bringing hell to earth.
The latest Nightkeepers urban fantasy built from the Mayan end times (see Demonkeepers and Blood Spells) is a .superb thriller due to Dez's convoluted and conflicting relationships with Reese and Keban. Fast-paced and character driven with perspectives changing, fans will relish this exhilarating tale as Dez is pulled in two directions which has an enthralled audience who will win his soul.
Savannah tattoo artist Riley Poe still recovers from her rescuing her younger brother Seth who released the strigoi vampires on a teen prank (see Afterlight). She owes guardian vampire Eli Dupre and his kin for their saving Seth and her from the vicious Strigoi Arcos siblings (Victorian and Valerian). The evil brothers injected her with their toxin. Although controlled somewhat by the intervention of Eli and his partners, Riley's senses has been exponentially embellished including her need for sex, which Eli is glad to accommodate as he loves her and needs her unique special blood.
One other byproduct of the assault is she is psychically connected to maniacal Valerian as she witnesses the terror in the minds of his victims. Starting to understand the obsessive craving, Riley still needs help from an Undead expert; she knows the vamp she loves is the man for her. However, there is also a supernatural cleansing needed so she joins Eli and his team.
The second The Dark Ink Chronicles urban fantasy is an exhilarating thriller as vampires needing their fix run wild in the coastal southeast. Although over the top of Hartwell Dam as sex dominates the story line, fans will enjoy the changes in the life of Riley who has become sympathetic with the blood addiction of vampires.
Fairview vampire sheriff Caravelli is on vacation; before leaving for his respite he hired Lore to patrol the streets insuring the vamps keep their fangs inside and the weres likewise with their claws. His hope for a quiet few days ends when he deals with a drunken hostile vampire.
Vampire Talia Rostova hides in plain sight in Fariview as she fears her lunatic sire King Belenos will find her. Talia lives in the condo of her human cousin Michelle who works as a hostess on the Queen Anne cruises. When someone murders Michelle, Talia feels remorse because she believes she brought death to her kind cousin; she knows Belenos and his and her family have found her. Lore investigates and captures Talia. He believes she is innocent and accepts her assertion that she was the intended victim though he fears the beast inside him may be clouding his judgment with Ravenous desire.
The latest Dark Forgotten urban fantasy (see Scorched and Unchained) is a terrific tale of forbidden love as vamps and weres do not mix. Talia's family wants her dead even before she and the temporary sheriff heat the sheets. Lore may be the Alpha but his pack objects to his trysting with the enemy. The town and its residents add a powerful backdrop to a double dog dare fabulous romantic paranormal police procedural.
Bad Girl by Night: A H. O. T. Cops
In Turnbridge, Michigan, Carly Winters is a highly respected single woman who owns Winterberry's Woodcrafts and Fine Furniture. She drives two hours to touristy Traverse City when she wants sex in the city; at the Lodge bar she masquerades as Desiree as she selects her partner for the night. This time she picks up Jake Lockart of Texas and his companion Colt for a one night menage a trois.
One month later while she muses over the best tryst of her night, she meets the new Turnbridge cop Jake. He is confused as Carly looks like his Desiree but acts like the sweet girl his mentor Frank claims she is. As they dance apart, Jake wants an amalgam of the two personalities displayed by the woman he cherishes, but also must deal with his demons from when he was seven years old.
This is an exciting erotic romantic suspense as the lead couple has flaws and issues. He must confront his child molestation demon that restricts his heart reaching out and she must choose between Desiree, Carly or a combo as the lives of a good girl by day and a Bad Girl by Night are no longer feasible. Although the police suspense subplot is over the top of the spans of the Mackinac Bridge, fans will relish this hated character driven erotica.
On duty in Afghanistan U.S. Army Ranger Quinn Colson returns home to Jericho, Mississippi to attend the funeral of his beloved role model Uncle Hampton Beckett. Quinn is stunned when he arrives home to learn his uncle the town's former sheriff committed suicide.
Long time friend Deputy Lillie Virgil rejects the notion that Hampton shot himself. She believes he was murdered. Knowing Lillie is not a person to pull punches, Quinn makes inquiries into his uncle's death only to find official and unofficial opposition. He learns that while he was serving his country, meth deals own Jericho. Though threatened with violence, Quinn with Lillie covering his back fights the drug dealers and corrupt officials closing their eyes on chemical cooking.
This is an exciting violent homecoming filled with non stop action as Quinn finds Mississippi burning as much as Afghanistan. Fast-paced though following the classic theme of a lone cowboy cleaning up a corrupt outlaw town (see Bronson's Mr. Majestyk and Ladd's Shane), the freshness comes from a subplot in which Quinn muses about what he would be if he never left Mississippi. Readers will not be able to put down Colson's return to Jericho.
My Name Is Memory
In 2004 in Hopewood, Virginia Lucy heard the rumors about new student Daniel, but assumes it is all are trash talk because the new guy on the block behaves differently than the boys at high school. At the Senior Ball they kiss. He calls her Sophia and explains that they have loved each other in many lives since the sixth century. Lucy flees.
Daniel thinks back to that first time when he burned down the wrong cottage and killed her. He muses how during each reincarnation he searches for her, but their relationship always ends tragically. He keeps hoping that in one lifetime they will come together. In WWI Constance the nurse hid a letter to a future Sophia about her and Daniel
In 2006 Lucy attends college in Charlottesville. A psychic mentions Daniel to her, shaking her to the core. Needing the truth, she searches the Net and undergoes past life hypnosis. When she locates the letter, Lucy becomes a believer; but fails to find Daniel. Meanwhile his brother Joaquin who she married in a long ago life seeks to kill one and take the other.
This is an engaging reincarnation romantic triangle in which much of the tale is about Daniel looking back at previous intersections with Sophia including when he rescued her from her husband his brother. Late in the story line, the plot veers towards a confrontation thriller, which is what seems to be a set up for a sequel. The past lives are entertaining segues that give My Name Is Memory a sort of anecdotal short story feel, but the suspense which comes late hangs out there for the next book. Still this is an enjoyable look at relationships over the centuries.
The Stronger Sex
Hans Werner Kettenbach
translated by Anthea Bell
Dying wheelchair bound septuagenarian industrialist Herbert Klofft fired his thirtyish assistant Katharina Fuchs though they had an affair for most of the eleven years she worked for him. Outraged because the engineer felt she was extremely loyal to the ruthless elderly Klofft, Fuchs sues for wrongful dismissal.
Seventy-seven years old Dr. Hockeppel orders employee Dr. Alexander Zabel to defend Klofft. The twenty nine years old attorney quickly realizes the case is a loser as his client is infamous as much for being a philander as he is for his unethical business practices. Worse Zabel is embarrassed that he is attracted to Klofft's elderly wife Cilly. His sexual desire makes him better understand his client as he sees similarities between them and between him and his boss, but the case remains hopeless.
This is an intriguing psychological thriller that is totally character driven by the three men in Frau Kloftt's life as she is a seemingly benign femme fatale. The story line is leisurely paced to enable the audience to feel they are in Germany whether riding the car driven by Karl or smelling Cilly's perfume. Not for everyone as the action is limited, The Stronger Sex is a deep look at relationships that cross the acceptable ethical barriers.
Prophecy: The Fulfillment
Deborah A Jaeger
In 2018 in the Nashville area, following the completion of her junior year at high school, seventeen year old Jillian Macomb and her boyfriend Jamie break up because he wants sex now and she vowed to wit until she married. Soon afterward, she learns from Dr. Richards that she is pregnant. Jillian insists she is a virgin but her parents and her doctor initially scoff at her assertion.
She begins to have dreams that she learns Stephen Jacobs, her father's mentee, is having too. Each believes the child is special. Soon medical miracles begin to occur whenever Jillian is near. Ambitious geneticist Dr. Mullins believes Jillian's unborn is the source of the impossible healings that occur starting with one of his assistants. The Catholic Church and the American government want control of Jillian as each wants the child.
This is a super Christian thriller as the Second Coming in our twenty-first century world is met with scorn, skepticism and manipulation as miracles occur leading to believers including those desperate for a miraculous savior and others like the CIA, the Church and Dr. Mullins demanding control of the virgin mother and child. Readers will relish the reactions to the Second Coming.
In Chicago, the Bugatti brothers need to insure the right judge controls a murder trial that they have a vested interest in the outcome. Thus the siblings send money to Judge Reese McKelvie who is running for a U.S. Senate seat. The current incumbent Senator Barker was forced to resign due to corruption as he had mob connections. Reese's opponent is Pastor Eric Snow, head of a mega-church.
Gina D'Orazio attends Pastor Snow's church. She believes living outside of wedlock is a sin so she moves out of the home of her boyfriend investigative reporter Garry Strider. Upset and cynical Strider investigates candidate Snow and his mega-church as he expects to find plenty of corruption to write about; he finds much more than he anticipated as his inquiry expands into the political arena.
The Ambition is an exhilarating political thriller that grips the audience who will wonder if government office denotes corruption as cynical Strider is like a modern day Diogenes only he finds dishonesty. The story line is fast-paced throughout setting up the convergence of the key players. Although the climax feels abrupt, fans of Lee Strobel's nonfiction bestsellers and legal thriller readers will enjoy The Ambition that supersedes ethics.
Promises to Keep
Charles de Lint
In 1972 on Halloween Eve, Jilly Coppercorn and Donna Birch run into each other on a Newford street. They were friends when both resided at the Tyson County Home for Wayward Girls. Excited Donna, who plays bass, invites Jilly to watch her band Big Earl and His Girls perform at Cool Hand Jukes.
Jilly's friend Geordie who plays music says there is no such place at the locale described by Donna. He cannot accompany her as he has a gig so Jilly goes to the biker club alone. There she finds the dead relive their lives the way they wished they had the first time. Having overcome addiction and position, Jilly considers staying in what seems like paradise, but has not thought of how she would want her do over especially since this is a one way gig for a person who chooses to cross over because there is no return ticket.
This is an excellent intelligent Newford tale as Jilly reflects back on her bittersweet salad days as J.C. at the Home, her current status, and her future goals. Thought provoking while character driven by Jilly and Donna, fans will ponder choices that people make or have made for them. Although exciting as a supernatural thriller, it is the philosophy of to be or not to be that is the musing.
The Uncertain Places
In 1971 while attending Berkeley, Ben Avery introduces his roommate sophomore Will Taylor to the Feierabend sisters (Maddie the actress, Livvy the chemistry major and Rose the family historian). While Ben dates Maddie, Will falls in love with Livvy. However, Will finds Livvy's affluent and seemingly fortunate family of all females odd. He especially does not understand the reactions of her two sisters and their mother Sylvia when Livvy falls into a coma like deep sleep as if they knew this was her destiny.
Will soon learns his beloved is under an enchantment spell that goes back generations to when the family made deal with the Beyond as written in a censored Grimm Brothers fairy tale The Bondsmaid. Desperate to awaken his sleeping beauty, Will searches for a way to circumvent the deal with no help from her family while the fairy perpetrators keep him off kilter though he vows to keep trying whether it takes two decades or his lifetime.
The key to this super fairy tale is the cast who make the legend of the Bondsmaid seem real. Will is a wonderful Prince Charming hero though his DNA would say otherwise and the three siblings are similar in the sense they all contain a special glamour but also are radically different in personality. The efforts of Will (with Ben as his sidekick) to awaken his Sleeping Beauty has so much occurring in the 1970s and 1980s that it could have been expanded into two romantic urban fantasies; as readers will relish as we root for the hero in his odyssey into The Uncertain Places of love.
Having watched her mother the fertility witch use sex as a power enhancer Roxy Banfield rejects deploying her heritage as she prefers to be a polar opposite of her mom. Her preference is to live a simple loving life as a mortal. To achieve her objective seems simple enough to Roxy; as all she has to do is avoid her personal generator; the man who would ignite her fertility bewitching sexual skills that most likely would kill her bed mate.
In the Illusions bar, her concept is devastated when she meets fantasy comic book writer Wing Slayer Hunter Kieran "Key" DeMicca, who drew her as a witch before this encounter. He carries a dormant essence of Dyfyr the dragon who is the star of his comic books. Both are aroused by the encounter, but he learns that Liam his evil half-brother seeks the Dragon Tear which can kill the Wing Slayer god while Dyfyr awakens. Key and Roxy team up as the powers of each flow to the point of potentially killing them if they do not channel it properly.
The newest Wing Slayer urban romantic fantasy (see Blood Magic, Night Magic and Soul Magic) is a fabulous dark thriller loaded with action and romance. The Key to this engaging tale is the relationship between the witch and the artist as she fears her sex drive will kill her beloved while he fears that he will not live up to her sex drive. With an evil brother, awakening the dragon, and love; fans of the magical world of Jennifer Lyon will appreciate this superb entry.
The Silent Girl
Forensic pathologist Dr. Maura Isles testifies against a police officer who is on trial for killing a suspect who allegedly murdered a cop. She broke the blue line and has made enemies of the Boston Police Department. Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli remains Maura's friend but even she wishes the pathologist held the line. Jane and her partner Frank cannot help her, but they are determined to solve an unusual case.
A man who shows the tourists a glimpse into all the haunted places in Chinatown is shocked when one of the children on his tour finds a severed hand. They find the rest of the body on top of a roof near the hand. Jane and Frank have no idea who the Jane Doe is, but the evidence points towards the victim being an assassin for hire. Their investigation leads to Iris Fang who owns the Dragon and Stars Academy of Martial Arts who was widowed nineteen years ago during the massacre at the Red Phoenix Restaurant.. A couple of years later, Iris's daughter disappeared as did the daughter of another victim. There are various people who prefer certain secrets to remain buried about the massacre and disappearances and they are willing to kill to insure this occurs.
Tess Gerritsen is one of the best thriller authors writing today as affirmed by her series going to TV. The action starts immediately on page one and never takes a respite until the finale. Maura plays a minor role as she has enough on her plate with the blue backlash and the emphasis on the police investigation. Readers get glimpses as to what is happening in Jane's personal life while much of the support cast adds complexity to the prime whodunit. The Silent Girl showcases the author at the top of her game with this certain bestseller.
The Devil in Disguise
In 1811 the Ton believes Lord William Randall is a notorious rake. However, the Duke uses his roguish reputation to conceal the fact that he belongs to the top secret Corinthians; an espionage cell working for the Crown.
Information from a reliable source claims that French assassin Antoine Garenne plans to kidnap England's wealthiest heiress Lady Lucinda Grey. The Corinthians assign "Iron Will" to keep Lucinda safe. Lucinda rejects his company until he offers her a deal; his racing horse King Solomon's Mines for a chance to court her. She accepts his terms. As she begins to see the brave caring man behind the facade and him her courage and elan, they begin a friendship that turns to love. However, an assault on her forces him to reveal his secret identity to protect her; this angers her as she no longer trusts what is in his heart.
The first Corinthian Rogues Regency is an engaging romantic suspense that grips the audience from the moment the lead couple meets and never slows down until the final confrontation with the villain and with each other. The story line is fast-paced and though similar to many nineteenth century undercover espionage thrillers (see Joanne Bourne's Spymaster series), the refreshing protagonists make for a wonderful historical.
Summer in the South
In 1931 at the Purdy Funeral Home in Tennessee, Josephine Woodburn identifies the corpse of her brother-in-law Charles Woodburn. Sheriff Gillespie declares it an accidental drowning due to alcohol though the body was excessively battered, but no one challenges the powerful Woodburn clan.
In 1998, Ava Dabrwoski mourns the death of her mother though they were estranged. Former college classmate Will Fraser invites Ava to spend time with his great aunts at Woodburn estate where she can write her novel. She accepts as Ava met Aunts Josephine and Fanny at the college graduation where she learned Will had broken off his engagement.
Josephine, Fanny, the latter's spouse Maitland and their neighbors Clara and Alice welcome Ava as they enjoy toddy time. Will kisses her, but she says to slow down as she has just come out of a bad relationship. Later she meets his cousin Fraser Baron. Over the next few weeks, Ava feels welcomed but has written nothing. Will remains patient but obviously wants Ava. They join Fanny and Mait at the cemetery where Ava leans that Fanny's first husband was Charles Woodbridge who died during the Depression. Ava begins to learn her hosts' family led a regional caste system and starts to novelize it.
The upper class world of the south during the Depression and in 1998 is fully described as seen through the eyes and ears of the outsider Ava the narrator. .The vividness of the two different eras at times slows down the tale though that sets the mood of a leisure Summer in the South. Although some elements seem to vanish; for instance a paranormal incident, readers will enjoy this engaging look at the south circa 1930s and over six decades later.
The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
In 1589, seventy year old Catherine de Medici looks back on her life as a king maker with sins to confess just like she insists everyone else. When she was ten years old she thought she was a witch as she has her first vision. When she was thirteen, the orphaned Catherine becomes engaged in an arranged marriage to Henri d'Orleans, brother of the ailing heir to the French crown. Although frightened about leaving her safe home in Florence, she journeys to France allegedly to meet her fiance. Catherine quickly strikes a deal with Henri's mistress Diane de Poitiers though she loathes the woman who occupies her spouse's bed more than she does and applies the poison she brought with her discreetly.
Although loathed by her subjects as an outsider, Catherine becomes the power behind the throne when her husband becomes king. After Henri's death, the widow insures three of her sons in succession sit on the throne. She continues to use her paranormal skills to abet her political acumen and her knowledge of poisons to keep her family on the throne.
Although the audience will have to leave their perceptions of the poison queen at the front cover, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici is an enjoyable work of biographical fiction. Catherine argues that she is no different than everyone else who casts stones at her. Instead she insists she is just a protective mother of her offspring and her country. Although it is difficult to feel empathy to such a ruthless individual especially with her use of poison and her part in the 1572 St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of the Huguenots, C.W. Gortner provides a unique perspective as he enables historical fiction readers to understand the viewpoint of Catherine de Medici.
Blacksmith Sarah Beauhall struggles with acceptance of what she has learned about the world since she reforged a sword that turned out to be magical. Denial will not work when dragons and other fantasy species are genuine instead of just the imagination of authors, filmmakers and the medieval reenactment community. Sarah knows her mission from those in charge is to cleanse the magic (see Black Blade Blues).
She observes Skella and Gletts watching her, which she hypothesizes has to do with her recent save the world task. Greedy dwarves hired the pair as they seek more power. Sarah and her BFF Katie attend a concert only the dwarves attempt to abduct the singer whose blood they need to amplify their magic. Her preference is to stay out of this scenario, but that is not an option as Sarah begins her latest save the world rescue mission that has her aligned with her enemies.
This entertaining Beauhall urban fantasy is a fast-paced thriller though it not quite as fresh as the first book Black Blade Blues. The key to the tale is the reluctant heroine who prefers her quests to remain in enactments and theater and not in the real world. The rest of the characters are underdeveloped even the dwarves (think of Time Bandits) as the roles of the rest of the cast is to force the protagonist into reaction mode. Fans will enjoy Sarah strong and hesitant as she copes poorly as she battles with otherworldly essences.
The First Days: As the World Dies
Texas housewife Jenni watches in shock as her abusive husband Lloyd eats their three years old child while their other child twelve year old Mikey is already turned into a zombie. As tiny fingers grab the bottom of the door to get Jenni, a driver shouts at the stunned woman to get into her car. Katie explains she was on her way to work when she was almost bitten. A zombie plague has humans reeling. As Katie hits and runs over the brainless beasts, both are elated to have a companion while driving through the horrific landscape and grieving for loved ones.
The two women rescue Jenni's stepson Jason who was at a sleep away camp while fighting zombies. The trio obtains shelter at Ashley Oaks, a human encampment in which high fortifications are being constructed. The zombies are increasingly becoming more intelligent with their attacks increasingly sophisticated and strategic, which frightens the nervous residents although their charismatic leader Travis tries to keep them safe.
Jenni and Katie make this urban horror fantasy fun to read as their bond is forged over the gruesome destruction of loved ones and their civilized world. Neither one is prepared to be alone. Although they differ in background, each proves to have the right stuff while covering each other's back. Filled with graveyard survivor humor, fans will enjoy this Z thriller that explores the implosion of Texas society mindful of On the Beach (by Nevil Shute), zombie style.
Game designer River Weston escaped the video prison of the Dark Lord along with another cell mate Chase "Hawk" Hawkins (see Game Over) but if she thought her troubles are over, she is wrong. Reality proves just as damning as virtual as she is wanted for the murders of her fellow game makers.
Hawk uses the dead body of River's ex Nick as the pair investigates what her parents wrought and how to liberate their souls incarcerated for three decades in a hellish lab. Having been locked away much longer than his companion and determined to be her Guardian, he trusts no one as he tries to persuade her to allow him to escort her to the realm of her Fae mother before Nick's soul reclaims the body.
Although this is a direct sequel so it behooves newcomers to read Game Over first, the focus is more on reality earth than in the virtual realm of the previous book. River made the first thriller work, but this time Hawk brings the freshness as he fights external demons and his adulation for his partner. That intense attraction is key as Hawk is unsure whether it is his heart or the remnants of the soul of the previous body owner. Loaded with excitement, fans will enjoy the game maker and her cell mate as they battle their deadly diabolical adversaries in an exciting amateur sleuth dark urban fantasy.
The Nebula Awards Showcase 2011
Kevin J. Anderson (Editor)
This Nebula Award Showcase takes a different focus than previous collections as the six short story and six novelette nominations for the 2009 ballot are included in their entirety; while only the winning novella and a brief paragraph on the winning novel are included. Also included are SFWA Author Emeritus Award fro Neal Barrett, Jr. (and a short "Getting dark"), a SFWA Damon Knight Grand Master to Joe Haldeman includes his short "A !Tangled Web") and Rhysling Awards to Amal El Mohtar ("Song for an Ancient City") and Geoffrey A. Landis ("Search" and Fireflies").
This reviewer appreciated reading all the short story and novelette finalists as voted on by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America; as this allowed me to decide whether I agreed with the winning selections of "Spar" by Kij Johnson (short story) and Eugie Foster's "Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast" (novelette). I also appreciated that the novel winner "The Windup Girl" by Paolo Bacigalupi only had a brief description rather than a chapter or two extract; on the other hand the other novel nominees deserved a short write-up too. Finally the novella winner is fitting homage to the late Kage Baker ("The Women of Nell Gwynne's"), but excluded the other nominees. There are also additional listings of lesser known award categories that round out a super collection especially for fans that may have missed the shorter writings.
Kitty's Big Trouble
Kitty Norville, alpha pack werewolf and radio show host of the talk show Midnight Hour, is curious as to what roles did the supernatural play in American History. At present she tries to prove that General William T. Sherman was a were, but all efforts to find answers seem blocked. She did learn from her vampire friend Rick that Wyatt Earp was a vampire.
She and her husband Ben go to Dodge City to see if they can verify the Earp claim, but encounter a vampire who dies in front of them. The deceased was wearing a Roman coin around his neck; which means he was controlled by the evil vampire Roman. Vampire Anastasia asks Kitty to visit her in San Francisco because Roman is there looking for the powerful artifact Dragon's Tear. She needs Kitty, Ben and his cousin Cormac to distract Roman while Anastasia obtains the relic. When Kitty shows Anastasia the coin worn by the dead vampire, the Bay area vamp shows her the exact coin. She says Roman is close to possessing Dragon's Tear, which will enable him to build an invincible army. Prevention is no longer an option; as they must risk their lives to take the artifact from the malevolent vampire.
Kitty's latest adventures starts off with en entertaining look at history from a paranormal perspective, but quickly turns into a deadly threat to their wellbeing. Gender bender role switches as Kitty is the alpha and Ben the submissive beta in their pack (and relationship); her confidence in her skills including leadership grows. Humans know that the others exist, but most keep their distance as the vampires and weres have their old alien cultures. Series fans will enjoy the latest urban fantasy entry (see Kitty Goes to War) as Kitty and cohorts battle evil.
The Quantum Thief
Mysterious Mieli breaks out master thief Jean le Flambeur from the infamous Dilemma Prison run by the Archons of the Sobernost collective of the Inner Solar System. Flambeur never thought he would escape from the eternal mind boggling incarceration in which he was deftly mentally tortured into participating in games against himself in which he either killed or was killed by Flambeur.
His liberator takes a grateful Flambeur on her sentient ship to the Martian moving city Oubliette where the commodity markets include the selling and buying of time. The Tzaddiks law enforcers send Detective Isidore Beautrelet to do grunt field work on Mars. Soon the thief and the cop intersect with neither any longer sure of their past or present as memory is sold along side of time on the exchange.
This is a great intelligent science fiction thriller that uses quantum physics theories fueled by the seven deadly sins to take a fabulous tale. The story line is convoluted and difficult initially to grasp as Flambeur competes in deadly games against himself; he even conceals his most significant secret from himself. This may be the best quantum spin which grasps the scientific theoretical complexities inside of an exhilarating thriller since Vanna Bonta's 1998 Flight or perhaps the 1980s Professor Q books of Trevor Hoyle.
9781434430465 $12.99 www.wildsidebooks.com
In 1979 in Tennessee, Brendan Fishback met Ashleigh Sizemore at a bar; they went off together, but the next morning she is lying dead next to him from angel dust; he is accused of killing her by supplying her with the drug. Brendan knows he has to deal with his upcoming homicide trial, but wants to do something nice by getting his twin sister Edna and his best friend Cobb Kuzawa to reconcile. The married couple has not talked to one another in months.
The three drive to Lake Charles in Brendan's truck, but outside of her gum, his sister is silent. At Lake Charles, Edna vanishes. Her desperate male companions search for her only to become entangled in an illegal drug feud in which the Feds are involved. Additionally Ashleigh's wealthy father comes to town seeking revenge against the man who murdered his little girl. Cobb's Korean War veteran dad Jerry joins the hunt for Edna and has the need to squash the "big bug" for attacking them.
This is an entertaining historical rural Tennessee thriller, as the locals do whatever to eke out a living in difficult often deadly environs. Ironically readers will admire and respect the natives, but none are likable except Jerry who's cynical kick butt nature steals the show as he will remind readers of Harrelson's Tallahassee in Zombieland. The noir story line is fast-paced once Brendan and Cobb realize Edna is missing and never slows down as the pair feels like they fell down the rabbit hole.
A Simple Act of Violence
In 2006 DC Police Detectives Robert Miller and Albert Roth arrive at the house of murder victim Catherine Sheridan; she was brutally battered and strangled by the Ribbon Killer who left behind his signature ribbon attached to a luggage tag. As with the previous three such victims of this predator in this affluent neighborhood, the psychopath insured the body would remain warm for the police.
Just back from administrative leave after an investigation into his killing a perpetrator, Miller and the department are confused as each of the deceased also share in common no past as if they showed up in DC as adults. Meanwhile a former CIA agent using the name John Robey reflects back to the Reagan Era as he knows what ties the homicides together while Miller and Roth struggle to find the deadly dot connector before a fifth body appears.
Except for those who insist President Reagan is the greatest ever occupant of the White House (which excludes GW), readers will relish this deep look at murder and a dark moment in American history. The story line is fast-paced with Miller providing a Noir feel to the investigation while his partner somewhat mellows his outlook. Robey provides the 1980s history that tie the dead females with no history together; as appreciative fans will ironically know before the cops the timely mantra "that the bigger the lie the more easily it will be believed."
Married for almost a quarter of a century to her husband Jackson, Jillian Galloway feels they are the epitome of a strong healthy Christian marriage and family with a healthy adult son. She has become a popular speaker on the subject of healthy marriages and has written a book as well. Jill prepares for a book tour when Jack informs her he is tired of their relationship and wants a divorce.
Jill is stunned and in denial as she cannot believe he is unhappy and leaving her. She considers canceling the tour and spends time with her parents and her married sister and brother-in-law. Both couples seem contented leading Jill to look inside at herself and her relationship with Jack.
Desert Gift is an enjoyable family drama starring two caring individuals. He is a kind physician and she is a nurturing expert on marriages until her own implodes. Character driven, fans will appreciate this fine story as Jill goes through the phases of grief until she finally wonders what she did and could have done differently to nurture her relationship with jack before they tumbled down.
Jamil was a jihadist until he met Jesus Christ (see Veiled Freedom). He turned from violence to peace lover. In Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, Jamil becomes a health worker trying to help those most impoverished. However, not all believe a former jihadist terrorist would turn into a caring healer.
New Hope relief worker Amy Mallory returns to Afghanistan after being home in the States for a while. She finds her organization has changed and not for the better. Amy fears for the dependents under her care as well as for her assistant Jamil.
In Kabul contractor security expert Steve Wilson tries to protect his assignment while also keep the peace inside the city as the upcoming elections divides and frightens the residents. Rioting and officialdom corruption has made the capital a dangerous place for a Special Forces soldier, but more so for an American female with little to no protection.
J.M. Windle continues her profound look at modern day Afghanistan as she follows the lives of three stars of Veiled Freedom. Character driven, readers observe life in a complex society. For instance Jamil rescues a child on fire only to flee for his life. Fast-paced and loaded with action, Ms. Windle catches the diverse essences of the Afghani people through her lead trio whose behavior while helping others in dangerous situations seem real.
In Ohio terminally ill Jack Armstrong prays to God that he lives to Christmas to be there for his wife and their three young children. However, his wife Lizzie dies in car accident on Christmas Eve picking up Jack's medicine.
Lizzie's mom Bonnie ships her three grandchildren to the separate homes of her adult children, sells her late daughter's house and directs Jack to enter a hospice. Jack somewhat recovers his health as his illness goes into remission and picks up his kids. He moves to South Carolina where years ago Lizzie's twin died; there he plans to raise his children as a single dad. Bonnie sues for custody.
This interesting family drama is insightful when the story line focuses on an ailing widower battling to keep his children with him. Bonnie is too much a villainous instead of a concerned grieving grandma worried about the well being of her late daughter's children; while a romantic interest detracts from the tale of battling relatives. Still fans will root for Jack and his three children to make it in a world in which they learn the twists of life and death.
Years ago Asad the Libyan "Lion" Kahil fooled the Americans into believing he was defecting only to begin a Jihad avenging vendetta for the 1983 deaths of his family by Reagan; he was somewhat stopped by then NYPD Detective John Corey and FBI Agent Kate Mayfield (see The Lion's Game), but escaped. A lot has happened in the ensuing years as 9/11 changed the security landscape, and Kate and John are married though she remains with the FBI and he is retired from NYPD. Both work for the Federal Antiterrorism task Force.
Khalil has returned to America using an Egyptian passport granted to a Hasheem. The outcome of his objective is either home or paradise as he begins round two of killing Americans in the United States for what they did to his family. In the Catskills, he attacks John and Kate while they were skydiving. Kate is severely hurt by a hard landing while John vows the family vendetta between Kahil and him has just been raised with one of them seeing their maker rather soon.
This exciting sequel hooks the audience starting with the skydiving incident and never releases us until the climax. Readers anticipate a final confrontation between two super heavyweights whose first match ended in a draw. Although the Corey wisecracking asides remains humorous, it feels out of place as the body count grows. Still fans will enjoy the rematch as Nelson DeMille writes an entertaining but very linear thriller that asks did the billions spent in security money make us safer.
After few years away, barbarian witch Moirin of the Maghuinn Dhonn accompanied by her husband Bao returns from the East (see Naamah's Curse) to Terre d'Ange. She is stunned with what she finds there. Her close friend Queen Jehanne died during childbirth and her spouse King Daniel is unfit to rule or raise his now three year old toddler since he is lost to his grief. His heir Prince Thierry (from his first marriage) is far away from the kingdom most likely dead in Terra Nova.
Over her objection Moirin King Daniel declares her as the protector of his offspring the next ruler toddler Desiree who is an infant version of her late mom. When Moirin has a vision in which Jehanne insists that Thierry lives, she sets forth to travel half way around the globe to find and bring home the Prince to his kingdom that desperately needs him. Joining the quest is her former lover Raphael de Mereliot who she distrusts as he selfishly caused her to misuse her gifts years ago.
The finish to the third Kushiel trilogy (see Naamah's Kiss) is an exciting tale that accelerates once the heroine and her retinue begin the quest. The story line introduces readers to the "Terra Nova" cultures though the indigenous people are underdeveloped and interchangeably oversimplified as seemingly from one mold. Their "new" gods and locals include some real Aztecan that anchor time and place. Fans will enjoy Moirin's latest escapades.
If He's Dangerous
In 1790 England, Lorelei Sundun blinks several times to find a naked man gaping at her in her father's garden. She remains calm but appreciative as he introduces himself as Sir Argus Wherlocke; and further explains he does not want to be a duke's rose garden. However, their fascinating discussion ends in the blink of an eye when her nude guest vanishes.
While Lorelei ponders what happened including why she feels she fell in love at first naked sight, Angus wonders how his mental projection ended up in the Sunden estate rather than his clan who he needs help from as government agents plan to use his otherworldly skills for their benefit. When they meet again in person, as she and her cousins rescue him from incarceration, Lorelei affirms what she knew that they are life mates. However, though he wants her, Angus hesitates as the model for marriage is his parents' failed one so he tries to use his skills to control her feelings but love proves stronger than his potent paranormal power.
The third Wherlocke Regency fantasy (see If He's Wicked and If He's Wild) is a terrific paranormal historical romance from the opening scene when the duke's daughter and the naked lord meet and never slows down until the final "confrontation" with her father. Fans will relish this charmer as another eccentric Wherlocke finds love.
Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush
At Ocean Park Hospital in Oregon, Laura Adderley works as a floor nurse while her ex husband Dr. Byron Adderley is an orthopedic surgeon at the facility. She had not wanted to move from Portland as Laura knows that brings her too close to Deception Bay, but he insisted. She divorced him when he was caught groping a nurse. Laura also belongs to the Colony of psychic sisters who reside at Siren Song. Pregnant with Byron's baby, Laura learns to her horror that serial killer Justice Turnbull has escaped from Halo Valley Security Hospital after a two year stint.
As he did before his incarceration Turnbull stalks the Colony as he believes his mission from God is to send these she demons back to the hell that spawned them. Fearing for her unborn, Laura pleads with investigative reporter Harrison Frost, who is covering Turnbull's escape and his deadly ties to the enigmatic Colony for help. Unaware that the woman he is attracted to belongs to the Colony, Frost feels a need to keep Laura and her baby safe.
This sequel to Wicked Game (and other Colony tales) is an exciting romantic suspense thriller that grips the audience the moment the beleaguered heroine (and readers) learns of Turnbull's escape. Laura holds the plot together while defrosting Harrison from cynic to defender. However, the tale belongs to the obsessed insane villain whose belief that he has God on his side will remind readers of other fanatic killers who murder in the Lord's name with some manipulated by others. This is a terrific taut thriller.
The Little Women Letters
The Atwater sisters (Emma, Lulu, and Sophie) are descendants of Jo March (whose siblings are Beth and Amy). The trio believes they are radically different in personality. Emma the oldest is marrying soon while sassy Lulu feels lost and Sophie the youngest hopes to be an actress. Sophie moves in with Lulu and her roommate Charlie, who the siblings consider the forth sister.
In the family attic, Lulu finds Jo's letters. She reads them and is stunned how similar in attitudes and relationships she and her two siblings are to their great-great grandmother Jo and her two sisters. Lulu always thought she and her siblings were so different in outlook yet over a century and a half between the generations there is sameness in attitude between each of the two sets of sisters, as each one is feisty, independent and desiring love.
This is an entertaining contemporary rendition of Little Women as Gabrielle Donelly contends that modern female siblings are similar in outlook to the March sisters in spite of social networking and other advances in communication. The story line is extremely well done in the present and past although the transitions back and forth feel abrupt and bumpy. Even with six diverse personalities that can be difficult to keep track of who's who, it is definitely worth the time reading The Little Women Letters as the Atwater sisters have much in common with their March ancestors.
Deed to Death
When her mother walked out on her husband and their young child, Toni Matthews walled up her emotions. Over the next two decades plus, she had boyfriends and friends, but no one melted the tundra that surrounded her heart. That changes when Toni, a twenty-nine years old successful Nashville realtor meets affluent architect Scott Chadwick. He dissolved her ice berg heart and they become engaged.
Seventy-two hours before their wedding ceremony, Toni needs a file she left in Scott's car. She goes to Scott's office only to learn her fiance is dead. The police decide that his fall at one of his construction sites was a suicide. Toni buries her beloved fiance on their wedding day. She rejects the official cause of death as she knew him too well to accept he killed himself. Instead Toni believes Scott died in a tragic accident until she finds his pen in the construction elevator, she now thinks someone pushed him to his death. When Scott's estranged brother Brian contests the will, Toni knows she found the motive; now she needs proof, as someone watches her to insure if she gets too close to the truth she joins her dead fiance.
This novel is part amateur sleuth mystery and part women's fiction as the heroine deals with the death of a loved who she believes was murdered; readers will empathize for her and pray she does not relapse behind a glacier. Filled with angst, Deed to Death is a fantastic thriller due entirely to terrific Toni whose dysfunctional detached emotions make for a deep tale.
In Seattle, thirteen months ago attorney David Sloane's wife was murdered. Now he makes his first speaking engagement since she died at the Rainier Club to promote legal aid services. Afterward as he starts to sneak out he literally runs into lawyer Barclay Reid who he opposed in court last year. She also grieves a close loss, the death of her daughter Carly from a heroin overdose. Reid wants to hire Sloane as her lawyer in a wrongful death suit against Russian expatriate car dealership owner Filyp Vasiliev, who recently beat a drug rap when a judge tossed out as inadmissible key evidence. Barclay insists the monster makes his money selling heroin including the amount that killed her daughter.
Soon after their meeting, someone kills Vasiliev in his luxurious mansion. The police suspect Reid who has the motive. Instead of a wrongful death suit, Sloane defends his client against a murder charge in which the evidence seems heavily to affirm she killed Vasiliev. Private investigator Charles Jenkins seeks contrary information to support Reid's contention of innocence.
The fourth Sloane legal thriller is a strong entry as he works the jurisprudence system while his partner works the Seattle streets. Fast-paced, this time the hero is not being shot at, as he battles in court. Readers will enjoy Sloane's return to the living in this fine legal thriller with an anticipated but enjoyable final twist.
A Stranger Like You
Gladiator Films producer Hedda Chase rejects the script of The Adjuster that her late predecessor approved. The scriptwriter New Jersey insurance underwriter Hugh Waters rages. His violence against women script contains no hint of a redeeming quality. Leaving his wife behind, a fuming, in spite of being paid for his script, Hugh goes to Hollywood to confront Hedda.
In her driveway, he demands she explain why she said no. He ignoring her response as nothing she says will appease him. Instead Hugh drugs Hedda and dumps her in the trunk of her BMW. He drives her car to A Los Angeles Airport parking lot and leaves. He next meets and becomes friends with Hedda's married boyfriend documentary filmmaker Tom Foster. Hugh begins a reinvented life in California while Hedda struggles to survive as her car is stolen by war veteran Denny and Daisy a runaway heading to Vegas.
This is an exciting psychological thriller that deftly follows the thoughts and escapades of the lead trio (Hugh, Hedda, and Denny) though the viewpoints applied differ as for instance the producer is from a second person POV and almost seems like a camera perspective; the others are more first and third person. Entertaining, fans will enjoy this fine tale in which Hollywood considers going Abu Dhabi.
After almost two decades of marriage having met in high school, Chicago TV producer Kate Conway and her artist husband Frank are obtaining a divorce. His lover Vera Bingham calls Kate to inform her that Frank, after playing basketball, collapsed and was rushed to St. Anthony's Hospital. The wife and the soon to be wife meet at St. Anthony where Frank died from a heart attack.
An autopsy of Frank shows he had extreme excessive amounts of digitalis in his body. The two women in his life are the prime suspects especially the wife who has a strong motive. As Vera wants to be her friend, Kate learns about their affair. To not focus on Frank's death and her grief, Kate concentrates on her show Missing Persons as she investigates the disappearance of well liked community volunteer twentyish Theresa Monetti. However, the Monetti vanishing and Frank's death co-mingle with Kate fearing she will star on her show as the third victim.
Missing Persons is a superb amateur sleuth mystery starring a wonderful protagonist who keeps the story line focused. Kate's musing over the years with Frank add to the strong introspection while her Missing Persons gig helps distract her a bit though Vera seems to have the knack of bringing her back to Frank. Readers will enjoy the TV producer's investigation that to her chagrin and soon fear leads from Monetti to Frank with Kate in the crosshairs as the connector.
Keys to the Kingdom
In 2008 though he knows the danger of releasing his beliefs, U.S. Senator (retired) John Billington publishes an op-ed in the New York Times. In his article the former Congressman insists that Saudi Arabia's role in 9/11 was covered-up by two American Administrations and ignored by Congress. From that assertion, he further asks whether the Kingdom will support future terrorist acts and implies that Saudi Arabia is probably developing a nuclear weapon. His contention causes consternation in DC, Tel Aviv and Riyadh and he receives death threats.
Not one to hide, Billington asks State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research Tony Ramos to look into his theory. Soon after his request Billington dies in a suspicious hit-and-run near his house in Florida. Feeling compelled to dig while also feeling remorse for ignoring the late senator who said he would be killed for his statements, Ramos, Billington's daughter Laura and his team investigate her late father's claims; and soon conclude al-Qaeda has plans for a monstrous terrorist assault with Saudi Arabia supporting the deadly terrorists.
Putting aside the inane romantic requirement that feels forced, Keys to the Kingdom is an exciting thriller as former Senator Bob Graham makes a case that Saudi Arabia whether by intention or omission enabled 9/11 and history has a tendency to repeat itself. The premise overall is carried out cleverly though at times Ramos seems more like Superman as he and the others do the Asian tour to prevent a terror-nuke attack on America. Fans will enjoy Senator Graham's suspenseful tale as an even deadlier 9/11 seems imminent.
The Night Circus
Five years old Celia is an untrained psychokinetic. Her father Hector Bowen who performs for Le Cirque des Reves as Prospero the Entertainer is unaware of her existence until his daughter is dropped off. He realizes his daughter has incredible innate magical skill and decides to deploy her ability in a death match against an adversary: Alexander's tyro magician Marco. The loser will die.
Celia and Marco are unaware that the outcome of their contest is death. However, their respective handlers failed to anticipate the two young mages as they grow up will fall in love. All bets are off as to how this power game will end as the puppeteers struggle to get their marionettes to perform the death duet not the love tango.
This excellent gripping historical thriller is a character driven tale with a paranormal element. The four participants in The Night Circus forge a fighting rectangle that turns into a perilous perfect square as the avaricious handlers want power and domination while the mentees want love. Fans will enjoy a night at the Erin Morgenstern's circus wondering whether years of negative nurturing overcome tender naturing.
Thirty two years old Emily Aulenbach seems to be living a good life in New York. She loves her husband James deeply and is employed as a lawyer at a prestigious firm where she is highly regarded and her spouse will soon be a partner in his firm. Emily constantly reminds herself she is fortunate. Still as she keeps saying how lucky she is, she goes home and packs. Emily drives away not stopping until she reaches Bell Harbor, New Hampshire.
A decade ago while at college, she spends a wonderful summer there and became close friends with her Vicki Bell and her brother Jude whom she had a torrid relationship with until he cheated on her. Emily left; severing all ties with the Bell siblings. Now she tries to heal the wounds she caused Vickie. She is staying at Vicki's bed and breakfast while deciding about the rest of her life. She knows what she no longer wants to do, which is returning to the sterile, risk free and friendless life she had in NYC. However, James remains adamant about becoming a partner; a position he toiled to achieve for years. Their marriage appears doomed.
As with all of Barbara Delinsky tales, the characters are the heart and soul of the novel. Escape is no different as gutsy Emily holds the tale together with her desperate flight from Manhattan though she loves and adores James. Fans will root for the couple to find a way to stay together, but it looks doubtful as neither side has room for compromise. Although the climax is simple and realistic, this is a poignant look at lifestyles.
Mary Kay Andrews
The three BFFs for over two decades rent a summer house in Nags Head on the North Carolina Outer Banks. Now in their thirties each has major decisions to make that they need their two buddies to be there for them. Ellis Sullivan drives down from Philadelphia where she just lost her job at BancAtlantic that meant her life to her. Maryn Shackleford flees her abusive spouse Don in New Jersey before he finally buries her; deciding to hide in Nag's Head where her parents once took her seemingly a lifetime ago. Ty Bazemore owns the Ebbtide beach house he has rented to the thirty-something trio under his alter ego Mr. Culpepper; his first encounter with Ellis is a disaster at a time he is distracted about losing the house. The other BFFs Julia and Dorie arrive; Julia the model was living with Booker the photographer, but he took a DC job and wants more from their relationship. Dorie hides in shock that her beloved husband Stephen betrayed her. All five converge in a summer month of change at Ebbtide.
This is an entertaining character study of three females each at a major fork in their respective lives. Although Maryn brings suspense to the mix as an abused wife on the run from her husband, she changes the relational dynamics of the other trio too much. Filled with pathos, humor and romance, fans will enjoy the three musketeers seeking their groove in the Outer Banks.
St. Martin's Griffin
Ever and Damen have one mission left before they can spend eternity as immortals in love. To save Ever's life; Damon changed her into an Immortal and contains lingering poison in his body. Thus they cannot touch one another as has an allergic reaction to his beloved.
Their quest is to find the cure to the toxin. They also have to resolve a difference on location. Ever wants to complete her destiny and unravel the remaining secrets including why something seems to want to keep her and her beloved apart. To do this they must enter the darkest region of Summerland; while Damen prefers to continue his current lifestyle that her trek would end.
Everlasting is a strong finish to the Immortals saga (see Shadowland and Dark Flame) after a slight letdown with Night Star's earth shattering secret. The story line combines a wonderful story line re the heroine's destiny with the continuation of the relationship issues between her and Damen. Series fans will enjoy the end to the Ever tales as Alyson Noel soars with this one.
The Borgia Betrayal
St. Martin's Griffin
In 1493 Alexander VI has sat on Saint Peter's chair for a year though there are plenty of adversaries and rivals who want him removed preferably dispatched to hell. His employee Francesca the Poisoner continues her vigil to keep the formerly named Rodrigo Borgia alive as the Pope. Francesca owes it to her late murdered father.
However, her killing rivals have left her suffering nightmares and visits from ghoulish phantoms of those she has murdered. Her only solace is her affair with her boss' son Cesare. Alexander's other son Juan protects the priest who Francesca owes a death debt to.
The sequel to Poison continues the deadly fascinating escapades of Francesca at the beginning of the Renaissance as her life is totally intertwined with the Borgia family. Although attempts to use fifteenth century dialect adds a sense of time and place, the speech patterns feels forced and slows down the pace. Still fascinatingly feisty Francesca is a great character as she poisons the enemies of her employer, her lover and herself though she waits impatiently to provide her form of justice to the priest and perhaps to his host.
The Daughter of Siena
St. Martin's Griffin
In 1723 Siena, Owlet Contrada leader Salvatore Tolomei informs his beautiful nineteen year old daughter Pia she will wed Vicenzo Caprimogo, son of the leader of the Eagle Contrada. Pia is mortified partly because she thought she would wed one of her own kind though few are eligible; and mostly because Vicenza and his father Faustino are vicious and abusive.
Pia pleads with her sire arguing a previous fiancee Benedetto did not fare well and besides an owl and an eagle do not mate. He refuses to budge on his decision. Stunned, Pia tries to understand why. She soon realizes her father and her betrothed's father are part of "The Nine" contrada leaders conspiring to take over the city-state from the Governess Duchess Violante Beatrix de'Medici during the running of the second Palio of the summer.
The Daughter of Siena is a fast-paced historical thriller that brings to life the ward caste system that divided and ran the city, as well as the famous still running horse race. The story line is driven by the cast especially the two women who both know what is going on, feel they must act, and approach what they can do differently. Although some key premises are over the top of the Cathedral of Santa Maria, fans will enjoy this exciting early eighteenth century Italian tale as Marina Fiorato once again has escorted armchair readers to historical Italy (see The Glassblower's Daughter).
Black Magic Woman
Daphanie Carter has mixed feelings about the Prince Charming who her sister Niecie loves (see Prince Charming Doesn't Live Here). On the one hand he seems nice and genuinely cares for her sibling, but on the other he is not quite human. Though she was raised in a mixed race home, Daphanie may have some tolerance, but still she wants to know a lot more about the Others before embracing her new brother-in-law Mac.
Quigley the imp under the table at her sibling's wedding reception invites Daph to a nightclub frequented by the Others. At the joint, root beer soaks Charles Antoine D'Abo the witch doctor who blames Daph for his damping. She apologizes but also faults him for rushing in the bar and refuses to back down when he demands she grovel. As his job is to protect humans from the Others, Guardian Asher Grayson intervenes. When she becomes the target of magic, Asher gets involved trying to keep the mortal safe while wondering if she bewitched him.
The latest Others romantic urban fantasy is a jocular tale as the tough human female and the bewildered guardian fall in love. Although the story line is somewhat thin, fans of the series will enjoy this entertaining thriller as Asher's refrain is "I'm Not In Love (10 CC) while trying to protect Daph that from a magical assault.
From Barcelona With Love
Pop singer Bibi Fortunata faces charges of murdering her lover and his mistress. However, a jury in Los Angeles acquits her of both murders. She sends her nine years old daughter Paloma Ravel to live with relatives in Spain before coming over to join them. Bibi never makes it to her family as she vanishes.
At the beach just outside his home in Malibu, TV private eye Mac Reilly and his dog Pirate save Paloma from drowning. The child explains to Mac and his lover Sunny Alvarez the cook that she was looking for him because she wants him to find her missing mother Bibi. Paloma's step-grandmother Lorenza worries about the child; the kid's avaricious stepfather wants control of Paloma's money. She calls her former lover Mac who travels to Barcelona to search for Bibi. Sunny follows him to Europe.
This is an enjoyable Reilly-Alvarez investigation as the California pair takes Barcelona by storm. The breezy story line is fast-paced with terrific settings and a strong support cast although the missing person's case is thin. Series fans will appreciate the Malibu mates return to Europe (see It All Began in Monte Carlo and There's Something about St. Tropez).
My Life as a White Trash Zombie
In the Bayous of Louisiana, living in a dumpy old trailer with a drunk of a father, teenage dropout Angel Crawford knows she is a poster child for poor white trash. She is a pill and alcohol addict and a felon having bought and drove a stolen car even if she convinces herself the deal was legit. Angel wakes up one day in the hospital and learns she almost died from an overdose, but she has flashbacks that she was in a car with blood all over her. The delinquent assumes she hallucinated from drying out.
Her life careens further out of control when the nurse brings her clothes that she never owned and a cooler saying she could drink one bottle ever other day and if it goes on to say she has a job at the morgue as a van driver and a morgue tech. She takes the position because if she fails to do so the person who got her hired will inform her probation officer she has drugs in her system. At the morgue she has an overwhelming hunger to eat brains even as she works on dead people in the morgue. She smells of decay and realizes her body is rotting. She realizes she is a zombie and that a rogue zombie is indiscriminately killing people. Angel investigates though she could be permanently dead if she trusts the wrong person.
This is not the George Romero Z horror thriller as Diana Rowland has her zombies capable of performing cognitive thinking, abnormal strength and incredible speed; which enables the dead species to easily blend in with the general human populace. Alive, Angel was a lost soul; ironically as a dead head she has become a productive member of society who is removing the shakes of her past. This breezy read never takes itself seriously but the audience will enjoy this tongue in cheek zombie thriller.
Following the death of his beloved wife Rebecca in childbirth, Elemental Earth Master Sir Richard Whitestone vows to never see his newborn daughter. He becomes a hermit while servants raise his offspring Susanne.
Two decades later, Sir Richard comes to London for the first time since the death of his beloved because the Master of the Council Lord Alderscroft urged him to do so. There he sees his daughter for the first time ever. He is stunned as she is the twin image of his late spouse. The Earth Master now wants Susanne in his life, but not as his daughter. His plan is to use her body to host the spirit of his late wife. Susanne realizes why her father suddenly wants her in his life. To avoid being the vessel for her mother's spirit, she flees from her father and his ominous plan. Susanne obtains a position as a servant in the household of Charles Kerridge. When Lord Peter Almsley visits Kerridge, he and Susanne meet; neither they nor others in their circle will be the same as her insane father is arranging the Second Coming of his wife.
The sixth Elemental Masters urban fantasy is an engaging tale as this time the trademark homage spin is to Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey (see Reserved for the Cat; respect to Puss N Boots). Though a bit over the top of Big Ben, the story is fast-paced from the moment an acrimonious Richard meets the offspring he holds culpable for his beloved's death. Series fans will enjoy this father and child reunion as he has finally found a use for his adult daughter who he ignored except in his loathing of her.
Now in her twenties, Dusty Carrick remains wary and reticent with an obsession for safety after battling childhood leukemia. She believes she survived her ordeal due to her best friend Thistle Down the Pixie who no one else ever saw.
The Pixie exile Thistle Down is in the mortal realm in human form. She needs help to survive so she seeks the girl who she comforted when she was an ailing child. Thistle brings her chaotic charm with her though it lacks her magic as she nukes Dusty's safe world. She hopes to get the young adult to embrace not run from life. A bullying developer threatens Thistle's home and Dusty's museum so the Carrick family and friends fight back though they need money to succeed.
This enjoyable romantic urban fantasy is an entertaining tale mostly because of the havoc caused by Thistle as she and her Pixies are experts on disrupting human life. Her adjustment issues and antics in mortal form make the tale fun to read. Although the ending lacks closure as there are too many major subplots going forward into apparent sequels and scene changes too abruptly, readers will root for the two BFFs.
The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck
In 1887 London, American Charlotte Beck informs her Uncle Edwin she was accosted as astronomer Lord Alex Hambly arrives with her battered fan. Edwin does not wait for explanations when he punches Alex in the eye. Thus Charlotte and Alex have cause to detest one another.
Her father Daniel wants her married while Charlotte prefers going to college and join his company after graduating. Daniel offers a deal to his daughter and the aristocratic astronomer. They marry and he will fund Alex's passion to save the Hambly family from financial scandal, and his offspring's education. Charlotte and Alex agree to Daniel's terms; but make a secret arrangement between them to annul their marriage first chance they get. All goes accordingly until Alex refuses to end their inconvenient marriage.
This amusing late Victorian romance will have readers loudly laughing at the gender war between two strong willed individuals. Charlotte is a terrific protagonist who is used to having her way; while Alex proves her equal as he has the guts to say no to her. Fans will enjoy this delightful twist to the marriage of convenience as Kathleen Y'Barbo provides another delightful historical.
Breath of Angel
Melaia the chantress welcomes the exhausted young man who enters the temple's courtyard. Suddenly he looks up into the sky just as a gigantic hawk flies directly towards him with large unsheathed claws pointing directly at him. The bird of prey sinks its talon into his chest. A stunned Melaia pleads with the man to fight back as he carries a knife, but he does not. She hits the predator with a stick knocking it away from the victim. The bird soars into sky while the man with a bloody wing appears dead.
Melaia learns that the fight was the latest incarnation of a war between two immortal siblings who destroyed the stairway to heaven. Their fight has marooned angels who are forced to take refuge amidst the mortals while trying to repair the path home, but they know their work is futile as only remittance of an ancient debt can mend the broken highway to heaven. Melaia is now caught in the crosshairs due to her intervention and the belief that she is part of the payment past due.
The key to the exhilarating first Angeleon Circle teen fantasy is the heroine who seems like a sheltered courageous young adult who behaves as expected from a person with her background and experiences especially when she learns the truisms behind the myths. Although there are too many twists with most easy to anticipate, Breath of Angel is a wonderful fast-paced story from the first "deadly" encounter and never slows down as readers accompany Melaia when she journeys outside the temple's walls in this entertaining parable.
The Canary List
In Santa Monica, twelve years old Jamie Piper is a serial foster care child who has been in and out of many homes. She senses being stalked by "evil" and not the homeless who seem to follow her; but the frightened child has few people to turn to so goes to the only authority figure currently in her life that she somewhat trusts, her teacher Mr. (Crockett) Grey who is getting drunk on the anniversary of his beloved daughter Ashley's death. Instead of offering the tweener solace, he is accused of child molestation and arrested.
A psychiatrist Dr. Mackenzie takes her away with him and sends her DNA for testing. Meanwhile Crocket struggles to uncover what has happened to him and where did Jamie go. As the mess gets darker and nastier, Crocket finds the Vatican watching him though he cannot fathom why, but believes he knows the next stop in his odyssey to regain his lost life.
This is an exciting Vatican intrigue with a possession twist (and late nod) to the Brownian thriller. Containing a different tone from Simon Brouwer's morality tales (see Broken Angel); The Canary List is much more action oriented. Although Crockett, already emotionally broken with his daughter's death from cancer, seems to adjust to the molestation charges too easily, this incredibly fast-paced storyline hooks fans especially when the demon fighters appear.
Her father trained her to be more than a duchess. When he died Eleanor knew how fragile her possession of the Duchy of Aquitaine is due to her gender and her youth. She needs a powerful husband who she can manipulate. However, her arranged marriage by her father before he died, to French king Louis VII proves frustrating as he turns out to be too week to disobey the church. Her brazen attitude sits well in Aquitaine, but not amongst the royal priests, family and retinue. When she meets Henry Plantagenet, she decides to dump her French spouse for an English husband.
Although the story of Eleanor has been told a zillion times (see The Captive Queen by Alison Weir), Anne O'Brien provides a fresh perspective. Eleanor is intrepid as she challenges the church leaders who control her husband. Her request for an annulment is granted mostly to get this thorny rose out of a position of power and influence only she crossed the Channel and married into an even more powerful position due to her strong spouse. This is an engaging biographical fiction.
The Beach Trees
Not long after obtaining possession of a Katrina (don't mention that name in the Gulf) ravaged beach house in Biloxi, Julie Holt leaves New York for the Gulf coast. Her late best friend Monica Guidry who died from congested heart failure gave custody of her five year old son Beau to Julie as she trusted her buddy to take care of her child.
Julie never learned why Monica fled her family but hopes they will welcome Beau. Elderly Ray Von Williams gives her a sealed box sent by Monica to her to give to Julie and tells her to go to New Orleans to Beau's maternal great grandmother Aimee so they have a place to stay. Inside the box is a portrait by renowned Abe Holt, Julie's great-grandfather. Aimee and his Uncle Trey welcome the New Yorker and her ward. Julie begins to learn what drove Monica from Biloxi though what she learns remains confusing. However, what she finds out reminds her of what happened to her family when she was twelve and her sister Chelsea was kidnapped.
The story line contains two subplots respectively told by the prime two females; Aimee in the 1950s and Julie in the present. The comparison between the Gulf through the eyes of the native in the 1950s and that of the Massachusetts born Yankee five years after Katrina will fascinate the audience. The mystery of why Monica cut off her family who Julie believes she cherished based on the stories she shared with her lacks suspense so it is not as interesting as the tour of the Gulf past and present from Biloxi to New Orleans.
Pie Town, New Mexico is a small melting pot in which resides three races intermingling as if everyone is family; this is especially so in support of wheelchair bound young Alex who suffers from spina bifida while his grandparents raise him.
One thing the locals detest is change as tradition means a lot to the residents. Thus the townsfolk do not greet their new parish priest Father George Morris with friendship; especially since he brought a hitchhiking female Trina with him. However when Alex openly welcomes them, the townsfolk consider him a barometer of people do like wise. The welcome mat is removed when tragedy strikes that even an angel could not prevent; as the townsfolk hold Trina culpable.
This is an engaging look at the three predominant subcultures that make New Mexico the Land of Enchantment. The lead triangle plus Alex's grandfather the sheriff are solid protagonists but the plot is thin and the direction straighter than the Bonneville Salt Flats. Still fans will enjoy Lynn Hinton's whimsical slice of life in the Southwest.
The Sweetness of Tears
The family of high school student Jo March is Evangelical Christian. However, she has doubts. Adding to her concerns is that she only recently found out who her biological father is. Her dad Sadiq is a Pakistani who met Jo's mother Angela when she went on a soul searching trip years ago.
Now Jo seeks the truth and she hopes inner solace. Following in her mother's footsteps by leaving home, she begins a sojourn to find her roots. This soon means also traveling to the Middle East for her paternal heritage.
The Sweetness of Tears is a complicated family drama that focuses on the convergence of religion, not all in a positive way as clashes and conflict occur in the name of God. The multifaceted story line is diverse as Nafisa Haji looks at the Iraqi War from various strife viewpoints. Yet Jo keeps the multiple plots focused in her quest to learn who she really is as she is the metaphor of peace between religions, cultures, genders and people of all types of backgrounds.
Trader of Secrets
Assassin Muerte "the Mexicutioner" Liquida seeks vengeance against San Diego, California lawyer Paul Madriani and his friends for interfering with his deadly business (see Guardian of Lies and The Rule of Nine). He has already left Paul's investigative friend Herman Diggs critically wounded and mounts a violent attack against Paul though his daughter Sarah.
Madriani's partner Harry Hinds and his girlfriend Joselyn Cole persuade him they need to go after the killer before he murders them. They follow his lethal path to Thailand and from there to Paris. However, they soon find themselves in the middle of stolen NASA technology that in the wrong hands uses nature to release destructive energy exponentially stronger than a nuclear bomb.
Not sure how the law firm stays afloat, as the Mexicutioner saga is predominantly an international thriller that fans who have read at least the previous two books will enjoy. Although over the top of Doi Inthanon and the Eifel Tower, readers who ignore plausibility (he previously dealt with a nuke in this arc) will appreciate Madriani and company globetrotting to catch their adversary and prevent the deployment of another weapon of mass destruction.
Rebekkah Barrow returns home to Claysville to attend the funeral of her beloved grandmother, Maylene who was murdered just like Beks' stepsister Ella. However, Beks is unaware that she has been chosen to replace her grandma who attended all funerals and told the dead to "sleep well and stay where I put you" as the town Graveminder. The function requires the person to provide food to the deceased so they remain in the Land of the Dead and not that of the living.
At the same time her former lover Byron Montgomery has become the Undertaker replacing his father William. The Undertaker works closely with the Graveminder as they have for centuries. As the pair diligently hunt for Daisha the teen who may have been murdered and has joined the Hungry Dead because they will assault the living of Claysville.
With a great spin to the zombie mythos, this haunting dark thriller hooks the reader once Beks comes home from San Diego as the new Graveminder accompanied by the new Undertaker Byron struggle in their new unwanted positions. Two rookies with limited mentoring available must make everything right before the Hungry Dead begin to leave town in this exhilarating horror fantasy.
Kathleen Gilles Seidel
Fifty-eight year old Widow Gwen Wells (mother of two) and widower Hal Legend (father of three) meet at a community dinner and begin dating. Both are lonely as each was married for a long time to a spouse who died. Thus the two lonely souls soon marry.
However, their adult children have doubts about this merger. The two families gather at a lakeside cottage with plans to meet and mingle. No television is in this remote place in order to force the brood to comingle. Fighting and fussing, the kids are disappointed with their respective parent. Gwen's thirty year old single lawyer daughter Holly has doubts. Hal's daughter Phoebe (mother of four) and his son Ian (father of three) have a difficult time accepting a replacement for their beloved mother while Gwen's other offspring Jack is attracted to the third Olympic gold medal ice skater Amy.
This reprint of an engaging 1999 tale focuses on the mixing of two families due to the respective maternal and paternal leaders marrying. The ensemble cast (to include his grandchildren) comes together in a terrific summer of squabbling and bonding. Each person is different with flaws that make them seem real. Although there is no earth shattering tension, contemporary fans will enjoy Kathleen Gilles Seidel's deep look at relationships when two families become one by Summer's End.
The Vampire Narcise
Lucifer supplicant Cezar Moldavi knows his strongest weapon in his war against other Dracule elements is his seductive sister Narcise who he once gave to his Master. Cezar takes pleasure watching her out-duel men in sword play while keeping her imprisoned. Only one male meant anything to Narcise, but a decade ago mercenary Giordan Cale betrayed her by selling out to her odious sibling rather then keep his promise to free her.
In 1803 in Paris, vampire hunter Chas Woodmore helps Narcise escape from her brother's house of torture. He takes her to London where she encounters Giordan, who owns a club. Giordan never forgot the woman he cherishes and surrendered all to her brother to take her with him, but received nothing except a broken heart. They still want each other, but she never forgets so she uses the enthralled vampire hunter as her tool to get at her only beloved. At the same time an outraged Cezar and his horde invade London.
The third Regency Draculia romantic fantasy (See The Vampire Voss and The Vampire Dmitri) is a terrific thriller in which betrayal is the key element as once burned by something worse than the sun leaves no one trusting anyone else. Fast-paced, fans anticipate the war of the Dracule as blood may be thicker than water, but will hatred prove stronger than love.
In Montana, the three Shade sisters bury their rancher dad Andrew. Their late dad's lawyer Coleman Rice gives them a video to watch. Andrew explains that he loved his three daughters but that none of the trio is his offspring and they are not sisters by blood.
Savannah loved her life with her parents and siblings on the family ranch, but is stunned to learn she has lived a lie. She finds out that her biological mother Chloe gave her to traveling preacher Andrew to keep her safe when she learned she was dying. Her birth mom feared for her infant's life having been threatened to meet the same fate of Savannah's biological father Gerald Stoss who was murdered in what looked like a car accident. Needing closure and uninterested in the Stoss Industries billions, Savannah leaves her beloved Judd Holyfield to go to Miami to prove her dad was murdered; not comprehending that her paternal side are classic Darwinists who know how to insure they remain the fittest.
The second Searchers romantic suspense (see Blood Stains for Maria's heritage) is an engaging thriller as Savannah meets her odious paternal side and like readers learn first hand why Chloe pleaded with Andrew to take her baby with him. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the heroine encounters her kin and never slows down until the final legal denouement. Although most of the Stoss are stereotypes with no redeeming qualities, fans will enjoy Montana comes to Miami.
Baby Drive South
Ten years ago an F-5 tornado devastated Sweetness, Georgia. The Armstrong brothers (Marcus, Kendall and Porter) and other men decide to rebuild their ravaged mountain town. Porter points out that there is a minor problem with their plan: no females. He advertises for women to come and meet the men of Sweetness with matrimony in mind (and hopefully body).
An army of single females including heartbroken Dr. Nikki Salinger invade Sweetness. She sets Porter's broken leg, but also believes she made an error coming here. When the town's Southern boys ridicule her, Nikki decides to leave. Porter has other ideas for his little doc so he incapacitates her car to give him the time he believes he needs to win her heart. His plan works thanks in part to animals until her ex Darren and truths arrive.
The first Southern Roads romance is a fun but straighter than the Bonneville Flats tale. Readers will appreciate the diverse personalities of the Armstrong siblings with middle brother Kendall still referring the battles between the oldest Marcus and the youngest Porter. Entertaining, fans will enjoy how Porter found his groove and some broken body parts when he fell in love with his little doc.
In Chesapeake Shores, Maryland Mack Franklin and Susie O'Brien are BFFs. Although everyone laughs at their contention they are not dating, the pair do everything together as they have for the past three years. Recently, their relationship has become sweeter and hotter as their friendship blossoms into love.
Mack plans to propose to Susie, but a week before Thanksgiving, he loses his sports reporting job at a Baltimore newspaper' so he delays his asking her to marry him until he obtains new work. Susie is frustrated with Mack for not telling her he was canned, but soon has her own worries as she may have ovarian cancer at the same his former lover Kristen Lewis arrives in town
The seventh Chesapeake Shores contemporary (see Moonlight Cove and Driftwood Cottage) is a warm tale of love as the latest O'Brien struggles with her relationship with her beloved. The lead couple is a delightful pairing as Mack knows he should tell Susie he was fired but cannot bring himself to do so even knowing she will find out soon enough. Susie's health issue is made even more realistic by her just learning that her mom had cancer, but hid the history from her children until now as the deadly big C is not something that generation overtly discussed. Sherryl Woods provides a strong angst-laden summer romance as love don't come easy for this couple.
The Summer We Came to Life
The four friends spent many exotic summer vacations together since becoming BFFS as children. However, this year is different as Mina died after battling cancer. Shocked though expecting her buddy's demise, Samantha retreats to Honduras; followed by her remaining friends Isabel and Kendra, and their parents to help her grieve.
Mina's journal fails to bring solace to any of the trio though the entries highlight their attempts at saving her via astrophysics. When Samantha suffers a near-death experience, she meets Mina's ghost who tries to comfort her. In a different universe, Samantha learns the relativity of perception as the eyes see what the mind allows. Bewildered, Samantha knows she must battle with her ghosts; just like her friends and their parents must do whether it is grief for the death of a loved one or survival of the Iranian revolution.
This is not an easy read as Deborah Cloyed encourages her audience to never give up the fight for life regardless whether the reader is religious or science bent. The story line feels somewhat like a scattergram, but Samantha's journey of awareness keeps the tale focused on life after death.
The Girl Who Disappeared Twice
In Westchester County, New York over three decades ago, when Hope Willis was a little girl her twin Felicity was kidnapped from their shared bedroom. She overcame her grief to become a family court judge in White Plains and married workaholic Edward the defense lawyer, and together in Armonk they raise their five year old daughter Krissy although he rarely sees his wife or daughter.
However, Hope's perfect world collapses when someone kidnaps Krissy. Being an insider in the jurisprudence system, Hope knows how critical the early hours in an abduction are as well as the limitations that handicap the law. Although her husband objects, Hope hires Forensic Instincts, a private group consisting of profiler Casey Woods, ex SEAL Marc Deveraux and strategic technologist Ryan McKay.
Although the reader will know who the kidnapper is from the moment that Hope receives the call that her daughter is missing, fans will enjoy the first escapades of Forensic Instincts as the team with a few additions along the way work an exciting rescue mission after beating information out of a psychopath. Fast-paced with sharp tongued skin ripping interplay, fans will enjoy this taut thriller as the team, the FBI and the mom know the clock is ticking.
Bet Your Bones
In Hawaii, Claude Ann Kemper and Alexander "Xander" Garst are marrying after only six weeks together; both have been married before. Aspiring anthropologist Dinah Pelerin arrives to attend her BFF's wedding as they have been best buddies since growing up in Needmore, Georgia overlooking the Okefenokee Swamp. Dinah loves the beautiful natural setting especially the nearby volcano.
However, paradise is lost as Xander's two adult children (Jonathan and Lyssa) are angry with their father. The groom is also involved in a development project that has major local opposition including by his sister-in-law because the locals believe this is a violation of sacred ground. Additionally, Claude Ann's ex is causing trouble and earthquakes have shaken the area. Still Dinah tries to stay out of family dynamics while enjoying the geography until someone falls into molten lava.
The key to this somewhat over the top of Mauna Loa amateur sleuth mystery is due to the enormous suspect horde is the Hawaiian setting and mythos. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Dinah comes to paradise only to find the groom a magnet for trouble including seemingly from nature or perhaps an angry deity. Readers will enjoy Dinah's latest perils as she and Claude Ann are in trouble from a stalking killer (see Bones of Contention).
In 1904 Appleton, Wisconsin, someone murders pregnant teenager Frana Lempke. The townsfolk are stunned by the homicide. Just graduated from high school, reporter Edna Ferber investigates the death of a girl she knew at school, but gets nowhere in how a locked room murder could have occurred.
Edna is especially frustrated and irate with the pompous sexist males who interfere with her serious inquiry that they consider amusing. Meanwhile Harry Houdini is in town visiting friends and agrees to perform. Edna asks Harry to explain the dynamics behind a locked room crime and he taking her seriously and provides a demonstration on how to make an illusion of such an incident.
The second Ferber historical amateur sleuth occurs five decades before Lone Star as the heroine this time is trying to make it as a teen with ambitions and doubts in a man's world rather than an elderly successful writer. Thus this Ferber has the same fire in the belly as the septuagenarian but is unsure of her abilities and her opportunities. Houdini proves the master magician mentoring her to ignore male illusions of superiority and instead do her thing. The case is a fabulous locked room murder mystery but it is Ferber encouraged by Houdini who makes the tale as she begins to break out of the societal glass cage holding her back.
The Rock Hole
Reavis Z. Wortham
In 1964 ten year old Top moves to Center Springs, Texas to live on the farm of his grandparents Ned and Becky Parker. A part-time Lamar County constable Ned works minor crimes and family disputes. Thus, he is taken aback with the vicious torture and murders of animals starting with the bird dog of Top's Uncle Cody.
Ned consults with his friend deputy sheriff John Washington, a black cop who works the black community beat. However, Ned is unaware that his grandchildren Top and his tomboy cousin, Pepper overhear the discussion. The already horrific case turns even more gruesome when the killer murders Ned's cousin Joseph as a psychopath is stalking the Parker kin.
This is a great historical mystery that will remind readers of Dylan's song The Times They Are a-Changin' as the Civil Rights Era has begun with for instance Washington being the first black law enforcement officer in the county. The Vietnam War has started to heat up and also impacts residents. The mystery is fun as the professional adults and amateur sleuth tweeners compete. The strong deep cast makes the time and place come alive as Reavis Z. Wortham provides a strong whodunit.
Watch Me Die
In New Orleans, Mira Gallier loves her caring husband and her vocation as a stained-glass restoration artist. However Katrina changed everything for the woman with a seemingly perfect life when her spouse was washed away and much of her work ruined.
It has been several years of grief since The Hurricane destroyed her life but finally Mira begins to move on emotionally. However, she is shocked when someone breaks the church windows she has restored. That is terrible but the vandalism does not compare with the murder of a priest near one of her restoration projects; the culprit left behind a graffiti message from the bible sprayed on the window. More homicides with biblical references left behind and seemingly tied to Mira and her work occurs. NOPD homicide detective Spencer Malone leads the investigation in which the prime suspect is Mira.
With a nod to Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, readers will feel Mira's angst and fears as she has only recently recovered from Katrina turning her into a widow and now those close to her are being slaughtered by a maniacal believer. She is so distraught she fears for her mind. With post Katrina New Orleans as the backdrop, Erica Spindler provides a taut psychological suspense.
East on Sunset
Fired from LAPD ironically due to drug use as he was a narcotics detective, Will Magowan has turned his life around in the past few months. He has reconciled with his beloved wife Laurie and they are expecting a baby. He has obtained employment as a security guard for the L.A. Dodgers, which is great for a baseball fan like Will.
Erik Crandall was arrested and convicted on a drug charge; he spent five years in prison but is free. He believes Will stole the stash during the bust and plans to collect for the drugs with interest. Crandall demands Magowan give him his fair share, but Will insists he never stole the drugs. However, the raging ruthless ex convict increases the pressure, which Magowan counters in order to keep his pregnant spouse out of harm's way.
Magowan's latest thriller (see Slow Fire) is a terrific tense suspense as the audience anticipates a final confrontation. Crandall is obsessed over the stolen drugs but only focuses on the ex cop; Magowan is as obsessed but his focus is on keeping Laurie and their unborn safe. Readers will enjoy High Noon East on Sunset as Will's unsavory past has returned to haunt him and his beloved.
Those in Peril
Adam Tipoo Tip and his grandfather Sheik Mohammed Khan Tipoo Tip set in motion a diabolical scheme to obtain blood money. Off of Africa, they send Somali pirates to kidnap nineteen year old Cayla Bannock who is leisurely sailing on her yacht. When her mother Bannock Oil CEO Hazel learns of her daughter's abduction, though powerful she fails to motivate world leaders to intervene.
The Tipoo Tip pair torture Cayla so that the world can see even as they demand ransom for her release. Hazel sends her private security chief Hector Cross to rescue her daughter. The Tipoo Tips expected this move as part two of their plan is to abduct Hazel and demand billions and will torture her to get at Cross as they owe him in a long running family blood feud.
This is an exhilarating fast-paced thriller that is over the top of Mt. Shimbiris with the insane decisions made by the Tipoo Tip duo, the Bannock pair and Cross as logic is a nasty L word. Still the action is non-stop and the locale ideal for a confrontation as fans expect High Noon in Africa.
Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan Police Chief Roy Maven visits retired Detroit cop Alex McKnight at the Glasgow Inn. Maven bites his tongue as he asks private investigator McKnight to help a friend, U.S. Marshal Charles "Raz" Razniewski. Raz is the father of a "suicide" victim who took his life two months ago at Misery Bay overlooking Lake Superior. Apparently two other college students killed themselves at that same location too.
McKnight agrees to investigate although he does not hide his feelings that the dad sadly seeking a different closure explanation cannot accept his son hung himself. He changes his mind when Raz is murdered and soon afterward so are the fathers of the other "suicides". McKnight and Maven team up on the inquiry accompanied by FBI field agent Janet Long.
The latest Alex McKnight Michigan investigative thriller (see A Stolen Season) is a great tale with the twist from previous cases being the professional rivals forge a strong cooperative team. With a ruthless killer on the loose reminding McKnight of the bullet lodged near his heart in a frozen pristine Paradise, fans will relish the M&M (and Long) whodunit.
The Real Macaw
Four months ago Meg Langslow gave birth to twin boys. Her sons are on different sleep cycles so she feels sleep deprived. Thus during a graveyard feeding, she assumes she is hallucinating when she hears assorted animal noises downstairs. She looks only to find a horde in her home. She asks her father, grandfather and other animal lovers what is going on; they explain the formerly no kill shelter they rescued the animals from was going to murderer them due to a lack of funds.
They were brought to Meg's living room because the transporter Parker Blair failed to show up. Police Chief Burke arrives at Meg's home to find out why her zoologist grandfather kept calling Parker who he explains was murdered. Meg promises to stay out of the investigation though she has a history of involvement (see Stork Raving Mad). She becomes upset when Mayor Pruitt wants to seize her house and other homes under eminent domain to sell to a developer in order to pay off the finance company that upgrades the Pruitt section of town. He used county buildings as collateral and the firm is ready to take possession. Someone attacks Meg's grandfather and a blue macaw is replaced by another macaw. Meg assumes the assaults are linked to the Parker homicide. She begins to ask questions while helping the county by letting them using her barn to house the library, but almost gets killed for her efforts.
Donna Andrews has written another laugh out loud cozy. The heroine deals with the twins and her husband who remains in the background with relative but sleepy ease; she handles the animal kingdom guests with calm. However, her dad and granddad are over the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains with their caring lunacy encouraged by the eccentric Caerphilly townsfolk. The whodunit is fun to follow as Meg investigates, but it is the jocularity that makes the Langslow amateur sleuths super.
Foul Play at the PTA
In Rynwood, Wisconsin, single mother of two Beth Kennedy owns Children's Bookshelf and is Tarver Elementary PTA secretary, a position she accepted in order to give back to the community. The PTA normally meets on a Wednesday night, but this week they get together on Thursday because Beth has a proposal that she could not present on Wednesday as her employee refused to work late at her bookstore.
Beth and her BFF Marina walk towards their car, but are surprised to see Sam Helmstetter's vehicle parked nearby as he left before them. They go over Sam's car to see if he needs help, only they find him apparently strangled to death; his scarf around his neck seemingly the murder weapon. Having solved one murder already (see Murder at the PTA), Beth and Marina agree to let the police solve this one. Bethe hires a woman who spent time in prison on a homicide conviction; DNA proved her innocence, but the townsfolk, thinking he is the killer, protest by picketing and boycotting her store. As she faces bankruptcy and to provide closure for Sam's widow, Beth accompanied by her sidekick tries to figure out who the killer is without hopefully the culprit becoming aware of their inquiry.
Readers with elementary school children can relate to the heroine for obvious reasons and so will the rest of the amateur sleuth audience because Beth is an every woman trying to keep her business afloat. The single mom and her buddy resonate with fans as they search for clues and interview suspects, but try to do so without drawing suspicion from the culprit as to their investigation. Laura Alden writes a fun filled regional cozy filled with eccentric cheese head Packers.
A Taste of the Nightlife
In a world much different than this one; humans know vampires, weres, witches and warlocks exist. However, the paranormal species do not have the same rights as humans as they must register, but share most all the other liberties. Although vampires can drink human blood, it must be freely given and not sold as a commodity. There exists special clubs and restaurants that cater to the nocturnal creature crowd where vamps can drink and meet friends while mundane food is also served.
One such restaurant is Nightlife, an up and coming in place that serves "Noir Cuisine". Chef Charlotte Caine and her vampire brother Chet own the place. One evening a drunken warlock Dylan Maddox causes trouble with spells and almost burns down the joint; shortly afterward Dylan is found murdered in Nightlife's foyer. Charlotte later finds a vial of human blood and fears her brother is involved. She does not turn the vial over to the police. Instead the dead man's brother Brendan a security expert and Antole the restaurant critic join Chef Charlotte in investigating what happened though that means walking the thin red line of were-vamp politics.
Fantasy author Sarah Zettel provides readers with a delightful riveting urban fantasy amateur sleuth tale. The whodunit is complex while the cast range from quirky to dangerous and to charming (except in Caine's kitchen). The twisting story line is fast-paced while containing plenty of biting action and humorous interludes. Readers will want to stop for a bloody drink and A Taste of the Nightlife if only in their thoughts.
No two people have the same aura as psychic Abby Cooper realizes since she has been reading them for much of her life. As a civilian profiler for the FBI, Abby is asked to go on a dangerous mission with her fiance Assistant Special Agent in Charge Dutch Rivers as her paranormal skills are needed.
A scientist developed Intuit, a software program that reads the aura of a person or their video so that a weapon consisting of three deadly toxins attached to a drone can kill a targeted individual. Terrorists and rogue governments want the weapon. Someone stole the drone loaded with the software and toxins. The GPS indicates it is in Toronto. The plan is for Dutch to masquerade as weapons leader Richard Des Vries and Abby as his business partner. They are to contact arms dealer Viktor Kozahkov; he will introduce them to Boklovich who is hosting an auction to sell the stolen weapon to the highest bidder. In Tornto, someone attacks and almost kills Abby while arms dealer Maks Grinkovbatters Dutch. Abby and Mako (who supposedly works for the enemy as an arms dealer) are attracted to one another. Mission impossible moves to an island owned by Boklovich in which humanity's most despicable gather to bid.
Making her hardcover debut, Victoria Laurie provides an enthralling thriller in which readers will understand the meaning of mission impossible when they try to put the novel down as the heroine has made believers of a reluctant government. She makes choices partly based on facts and somewhat on intuition as she sees A Glimpse of Evil aura. Her love for Dutch is strong in spite of her attraction to Grinkov. Fans will relish this mesmerizing paranormal espionage thriller.
A Parfait Murder
Wendy Lyn Watson
At the Lantana County Fair in Dalliance, Texas, Bree spots her former spouse Sonny Anders, who she has not seen since he abandoned her and their daughter Alice for Pole Cat exotic dancer Spumanti over seventeen years ago. Sonny acts and looks like he is wealthy and discussing a major investment while a beautiful woman stands nearby. His lawyer Kristen Ver Steeg informs Bree that her client is not the father of seventeen year old Alice and she should stop whining over child support that she files for with back payments.
A raging Bree runs into the attorney at a funhouse ride. Soon afterward someone shoots Ver Steeg leaving her dead. The police suspect Bree who had motive and opportunity but she tells Detective Cal McCormack and her cousin Tally Jones that though she wanted her ex and the lawyer dead she did not kill anyone. With help from Dalliance News-Letter reporter Finn Harper, Tally investigates the homicide even after Cal tells her to stay out of it.
This amusing Texas cozy is a fun tale from the opening pepper praline ice cream to the final ice cream recipes. The story line effortlessly blends quirky small town life inside of an enjoyable amateur sleuth as Wendy Lyn Watson serves up A Parfait Murder mystery a la mode (see Scoop to Kill).
Louisa and the Missing Heiress
Although they are as poor as can be, they live in an exclusive section of Boston so Louisa May Alcott and her family mingle with people of high society. Her father doesn't earn much money and the family's work with the Abolitionists and the underground which puts the Alcotts in danger yet they are a close group bound by love. In her early twenties Louisa May wants to be a writer.
She is excited about seeing her friend Dot Wortham, who is finally home after a year-long honeymoon in Europe. Dot is noticeably upset and asks Louisa May to meet with her tomorrow at a tea party. The next day Louisa May learns that her friend's body was found floating in the Charles River. Bruises around her throat and injuries to her head lead the police to believe she was murdered by her husband who society thinks married Dot for her money. Louisa is more attuned to the behavioral nuances of the families of Dot and her husband and thinks the killer is still at large. Wanting justice to be served, she starts her own investigation and almost ends up as the killer's next victim.
LOUISA AND THE MISSING HEIRESS is a reprint of a charming amateur sleuth novel that will appeal to fans of historical cozies. Anna Maclean brings the 1850s in Boston to life and readers see how even in the North the social issue of slavery permeates the culture. The heroine is charming, intelligent and independent, a woman who knows what she wants and will work to obtain it. This first installment is a delightful new mystery series starring a totally wonderful protagonist.
Eric Van Lustbader
Alli Carson's father President Edward Carson died when the vehicle he rode in skidded on a Moscow road. His wife First lady Lyn lied in a coma for ten months after the accident but finally passed away. Allie continues her training at the Fearington Institute with her goal to become an FBI Agent.
However, she becomes the prime suspect when someone tortures before murdering her boyfriend Billy Warren because they had a public fight two days ago and he was seeing a mutual acquaintance Arjeta Kraja. At the same time her ruthless billionaire lobbyist Uncle Henry Carson has plans for his niece that takes care of his interests at the cost of hers. As the FBI and the Metro police detectives investigate the homicide, Alli believes her hero Jack McClure, who rescued her a few years ago, is the only person who can help her.
The third McClure-Carson suspense thriller (see First Daughter and Last Snow) is loaded with action starting with the opening sequence when Fearington is in lock down due to the homicide and never slows down even with a zillion twists until the final confrontation. The obvious villain Uncle Henry comes across as a caricature who apparently wants to control his niece as he does everything else including the sex slave trafficking importation and questionable banking. The whodunit is fun to follow as the clues lead to her Uncle, the terrorist Syrian and an Albanian mob leader in this enjoyable over the top of the Washington Monument thriller.
Strong at the Break
Malcolm Arno has become head of a powerful militia movement. His goal is to outdo his late father Reverend Maxwell who died in a shootout with Texas Ranger Jim Strong in Midland, Texas in 1990. To achieve his objective, Malcolm plans on a second civil war with guns across the nation that will cause chaos and death.
Jim's daughter Caitlin was thirteen when she saw her father kill Maxwell. Her current caseload is overwhelming as she seeks a veteran who believes Americans want him dead and she is worried about her friend former outlaw Cort Wesley Masters who is to be extradited to Mexico to face a murder charge. When Cort's teenage son Dylan is kidnapped Caitlin leads the inquiry that takes her to Arno's compound.
From Quebec to Texas and with flashbacks to two decades ago, the latest Strong Texas Ranger thriller (see Strong Justice and Strong Enough to Die) is an action-packed tale with a plenty of angst. Cait is terrific as she works on a task force with the Canadian Mounties as well as a case in Texas and assisting her friend with rescuing his son. Readers will learn how to be in two places at almost the same time using the sleep deprivation theory as fans and the heroine will get little rest during this strong caper.
The Glass Demon
After feeling unfairly shunted aside for the position of medieval studies professor due, in his opinion, to jealousy and nepotism, Dr. Fox decides to implement his dreams of becoming the media's darling of anything erotically medieval. As such he knows the perfect solution to instant Indiana Jones like fame. He leaves London for Germany in search of the legendary missing for two centuries Allerheiligen church stained glass windows allegedly cursed by Bonschariant the Glass Demon; supposedly having caused the deaths of previous seekers of the valuable glass worth millions.
With his wife Tuesday, his two daughters (Polly and Lin) and his infant son Reuben with him, Fox journeys to remote Germany where they stay at a run down castle. Lin finds the corpse of an elderly farmer, which her father says to ignore; and she soon becomes friends with her new neighbor, Michel Reinartz. However, as Polly watches Ru, and Tuesday fixes her hair, Lin realizes the local want her family to go back to England out of fear of what Fox will bring to those who abet his search. Soon another mysterious death occurs making the seventeen year old Lin wonder if Bonschariant is not just real but stalking them.
This is a great horror thriller that uses the real Allerheiligen church stained glass windows as an anchor for a fast-paced tale that shows the grimmer side to fairy tales. Lin narrates what happens to her family and associates as she must overcome her fears to try to save her loved ones by solving the mystery of the glass. Readers will appreciate this terrific story as Lin gets closer to the truth of whether Bonschariant exists; incidents have already made her a curse believer.
Georgia Bureau of Investigations Special Agent Faith Mitchell calls her mom Evelyn, a retired narcotics police officer, who is not answering her phone. Faith sees her mom's door is open with blood on the knob and notices her baby is safely hidden in a nearby shed. Without regard to protocol or her own safety, Mitchell charges into the house where a hostage scenario turns ugly as one person is dead and another individual has a gun pointed at a third party; but mom is not there.
Faith and her partner Will Trent search for the former's apparently kidnapped mom who allegedly was a dirty cop who may have been a cop killer. Both (more so Will) also spend time with widow Dr. Sara Linton who has seen first hand plenty of horror in Grant County as the former coroner and wife of the late police chief (see Broken and Undone). Meanwhile Faith has become the prime suspect in the shootout at her mom's residence while some other police retirees come to the assistance of Mitchell and Trent.
The latest Georgia police procedural is the usual gritty, gory and somewhat complicated thriller expected from Karin Slaughter. The story line is action-packed with the underlying theme being family secrets can harm relationships. With a convoluted degree of seemingly no separation between key players, readers will still enjoy Fallen while wondering who's done what to whom.
In Boston, someone murders a Bastai cat shapeshifter. Leading the investigation is the city's magical investigator chief Marissa Holloway the Fury and her BPD mortal partner Trinity LaRue. Riss struggles with why the victim who has nine lives fails to come back from the dead. The corpse of the Bastai as other such victims share in common three things: they are Bastai with lives to spare; yet they are dead and not resurrecting; and each was a former boyfriend of cat shifter FBI agent Harper Cruz, who has announced her engagement to Hound shifter Penn Banoub.
Riss and Trinity know a serial killer is on the loose. They fear the next victim could be Riss' lover warhound shifter Scott Murphy who is a Harper's one night stand past conquest. While she struggles with Fury politics, a deadly game that makes DC look like kindergarten kids at play, someone tries to kill her and her family.
Following up Red-Hot Fury in which Riss prevented war between the paranormal, her second police procedural urban fantasy is more personal but just as mega nasty. Besides a superb investigation into who is murderously Green-Eyed Envy, she must uncover the identity of the betrayer amongst the Fury or her family. This is a great tour of Boston's paranormal underground (and not the Green Line).
In the land of Vermillion, the beings of the Otherworld are separated from the mortal realm by a barrier; the Order of Deacons insure the two groups remain apart. They are tasked with sending the geists back to the Otherworld, and Deacons Sorcha Faris and Merrick Chambers are investigating rumors of malevolent ghosts after the dangers they faced in their last mission as a punishment to not work independently of the Order. When the pair are given the chance to escort the Chioman delegation home to discuss the Emperor's marital negotiations they eagely accept the chance to get away from make work.
Sorcha is ecstatic to reach the Hive city of Orithal because that is where her lover the Young Pretender Raed resides. He carries within him a geistlord so much of the time he is in the water where the parasite is relatively helpless. The people of Orithel are afraid due to a series of ghastly deaths. They need the talents of Sorcha, Merrick and Raed to investigate and catch the killer. The trio finds themselves in the middle of a war between the geistlord and the Goddess Hatipi who the Emperor's sister Zofiya summoned. However to catch a killer means dealing with the Otherworld and a Goddess.
The opening act in Philippa Ballantine's Book of the Order (see Geist) is a great fantasy, but the second tale is even better. The three protagonists have bonded; this link embellishes their powers and enables them to deal with (and hopefully survive) the geists and Otherworld. Raed is the most sympathetic of the trio because he fears 24/7 that the geistmaster inside of him will overcome his sense of being and identity. Spectyr is a fantastic fantasy due to the unique relationships between individuals, species and worlds.
The Coyote Federation belongs to the Talus interstellar association. The other species has been friendly to the humans over the years; that is except for the Danui. These arachnid super intelligent engineering species keep for the most part to their own kind. Thus the Danui are not hostile to humans just inaccessible.
When the Danui asks for a trade arrangement with the Coyote, the humans are stunned. Even more shocking is the hermit like Danui offers the use of a planet in their system. The Federation leaders accept the deal. Starship Captain Andromeda Carson leads her Carlos Montero CFSS crew and members of the Corps of Exploration including her estranged son Sean to the coordinates. Instead of a hospitable orb, they find an incredible engineering feat. The Danui built a sphere using billions of interlocking hexagons to enclose their system. The Coyote mission goes astray so Carson and crew struggle to survive while wondering what the enigmatic Danui really want from the humans.
The latest twenty fourth century Coyote science fiction (see Coyote Horizon and Coyote Destiny) is a super outer space thriller. The action-packed story line grips series fans from the moment that the Carolos Montero crew and passengers see the incredible Hex and never slows down until the final denouement. However, the key to this terrific entry is the attitudes of the visiting Coyote humans whose suspicions are enflamed by the unknown and embellished by rumors filling the information gaps about the Danui. They also wonder what the purpose is for the construction of one of the great wonders of the universe and they need to know what the real reason is for their invitation. This is a winner as humanity hates a vacuum so they will fill the void with "death squads".
Still reeling from her deadly insane Aunt Erra's destruction that included her Atlanta apartment, Kate Daniels left the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid. She has become the Mate (some say lady or Alpha) of Curran the Beast Lord. . Now the Mate of the Beast Lord Curran, she opens up Cutting Edge Investigations.
However, clients are few as the Order spreads nasty commentary about her and many fear hiring her as they do not want to alienate her mate. Ghastek the Master of the Dead navigator, who works for the People cult-corporation, asks for help as he hunts down a loose vampire; she chains the deadly predator, but all hell breaks loose with the Atlanta Police Department PAD unit firing at everyone. Kate's BFF Andrea Nash the Beaskin Order of Knights comes to her rescue and joins the firm. Soon after that debacle, The Red Guard asks her to find missing engineer Adam Kamen, a brilliant applied magic theorist, and the device he was working on. They promise Rene of the Guard it will be done subtly, but nothing goes right especially when they learn the capability of Kamen's gizmo.
This is a superb urban fantasy that grips the reader from the moment all hell breaks loose on the street outside of and in Kate's office, and never slows down as her BFF joins her with the missing person's search and much more. Kate is terrific and the return of Andrea will be appreciated by fans of the magical series. This fresh entry is also a nice place for newcomers to take the dive.
In Bon Temps, Louisiana, Sookie Stackhouse helps her cousin Claude the Fairy and Great-Uncle Dermot clean out the attic cluttered with generations of junk. Sookie becomes excited with finding a letter from her grandmother to her accompanied by a buried treasure.
Someone tosses a Molotov cocktail into Merlotte's when the place is filled with customers. The police believe the motive is to get at the owner Sam Merlotte who has recently come out as a two-natured person. Sookie thinks the cops are wrong with their looking at the anti-shifter fanatics, but she has no idea who or what the motive is. At the same time Victor the vampire is causing problems for Sookie's lover Eric Northman and his "child" Pam as the evil one's antic is leading to business loss at Fangtasia. Eric and Pam plan to kill their master while Sookie joins them to keep them safe.
This a terrific transition thriller as several subplots are closed and new ones seem started. Super Sookie the sleuth has come a long way trusting in her abilities, but still is unable to read what makes others tick especially her lover the vampire who her instincts screams is about to embark on a dangerous quest. Fans of the series will relish this True Blood entry as Charlaine Harris provides another strong Cajun fantasy.
The Darkest Sin
Rowena Woolcott suffers from partial memory loss and horrific nightmares of her brutal imprisonment and being rescued from a near drowning. Not one to sit and wait for her unknown adversary to attack her and her family again, Rowena decides to find the culprit and confront him.
She knows she lacks the skills and experience to investigate, so she decides to ask the assistance of Lord James Rushford, who has solved at least a homicide case. He refuses until she forces his hand. Using her ploy, he demands that she pretend to be his mistress as he needs her to uncover the identity of the perpetrator and the motive. Soon as the threats to Rowena's well being rises, the play acting between the pretend mistress and her benefactor turns intensely real.
The latest Woolcott Sin Victorian romantic suspense (see The Deadliest Sin) is a taut investigative thriller in which the lead couple makes inquires into who haunts the heroine and her family. The secondary characters anchor time, place, and a sense of pending doom. Sub-genre fans will enjoy Caroline Richards' taut thriller as Lord James and Lady Rowena work the case and keep her safe while falling in love.
Psychic Zoey Tyler moves to freezing Northern Canada when she accepts the position of editor of the Dunvegan Herald Weekly. Besides struggling to adapt to the icy weather and avoiding her otherworldly skills, Zoey has a new issue. Rogue werewolf Bernie Gervais attacks her.
However, his assault is part of diabolical master plan to destroy the local Changeling pack; besides which he wants control of the newcomer's psychic power. The town's veterinarian and pack member Connor Macleod rescues her, but must prevent her transformation at the next full moon or else Gervais' scheme may happen. The only hole in Gervais' logic is the loving bond between his enemy and the psychic whose blood he craves.
This engaging Canadian romantic fantasy is a great thriller due to the readers believing in the Harper paranormal realm. Zoey is terrific as she holds the plot focused while the two males make her the focus of their attention; this lead triangle makes for an exciting time as the audience anticipates the confrontation. The story line is fast-paced, but it is the strong cast in a believable realm that makes for a powerful opening act.
In Paris, Police Judicaire Commissaire Capucine LeTellier is diligently working with a team trying to catch the criminal La Belle. She allows herself, after feigning illness, to go to her rescuer's house and steals some valuables while there. No one knows what she looks like or have a clue how to find her, which leads to the media wanting Capucine's tete. Capucine's Uncle Aymerie invites her to his Chateau Maulevrier in Normandy ending a two year estrangement. She and her overweight food critic spouse Alexandre accept.
At a dinner party, Monsieur Vienneau talks about the shooting two weeks ago of a cattle ranch manger. When a man is found dead after a steak house is demolished, Capucine's instincts are engaged. During another hunt a third person is killed. The Commissaire investigates the string of deadly accidents while also working the La Belle case in Paris.
Armchair travelers get a taste of Paris and a small town in Normandy as Alexander Campion paints a picturesque background. The author creates quirky characters with flaws that make them seem real. The two subplots are cleverly devised and the flow back and forth between them is smooth as the cop goes after the killer and the thief in a super French police procedural.
English Tea Murder
Winchester College Professor George Temple sponsors a tour of England. Tinker's Cove, Maine newspaper reporter and surprisingly good sleuth Lucy Stone and her three close friends excitedly join his group. However, while still in the air crossing the ocean, George dies from anaphylactic shock. Another member of the tour Dr. Cope tries to save Temple, but fails.
Lucy is sad by the professor's death, but did not know him so she, her BFFs and the rest of the group tour the country. After a while, Lucy notices an odd vibe amongst the group excluding her pals. There is a lack of passion towards the deceased and in fact she thinks there is general sigh of relief. Then there are the strange dangerous accidents including a student falling off Brighton Pier and someone tried to push Lucy's friend Pam into oncoming traffic. Lucy has a theory to what is happening, but Metropolitan Police easily explain an alternative to her concerns.
Leslie Meier writes a complex cozy in which life imitates art. Fans of the long running series will enjoy the first book outside of Maine, as armchair travelers will appreciate the tour that provides timely insight into British history. The characters are believable as American tourists who have to get used to a new culture very different than in the United States. The whodunit is clever as Lucy Stone amateur sleuth investigates once again.
Remember Ben Clayton
Ben Clayton died in France during WW I. His grieving father, Texas rancher Lamar wants to honor his beloved late child so he decides to hire a sculptor to create a statue paying homage to Ben. Lamar hires New York renowned artist Gil Gilheaney.
Gil arrives at the Clayton ranch near San Antonio accompanied by his assistant his daughter Maureen. He researches the lives of father and son as he believes his masterpiece will come from understanding the Clayton family. To his surprise and joy, Gil learns the Comanche kidnapped and raised Lamar and his sister while Indians also massacred the housekeeper. At the same time Maureen feels stifled by her father as she wants to do her own projects.
This dark historical thriller focuses on death and violence more so than the making of a bronze statue; though both sides add up to a great tale. The war to end wars may be over, but the mental and physical aftermath haunt the survivors like the father whose son died and the disfigured soldier who would have preferred to have died along side of his late comrade in arms Ben. Gruesome (warning not to eat just prior to the calf scene), Stephen Harrigan argues that by our despairing need to remember our Ben Clayton, we honor our hopelessness that everyone faces a final act.
The Last Werewolf
Two centuries old Jake Marlowe is depressed in spite of the fact his physical health is good, he gets all the sex he craves and his high red meat diet is perfect for his metabolism as human fresh flesh is a delight. His despondency is caused by learning from his only friend Harley, who hacked into the World Organization for the Control of Occult Phenomena (WOCOP) database that the other remaining werewolf was just killed.
Jake considers suicide though that would make his species extinct. Meanwhile the vampires hunt him for a purpose that only a bloodsucker would comprehend; while a high ranking WOCOP official stalks him seeking vengeance for Jake dining on his father. Being hunted is not new to The Last Werewolf, but when backed to a cage wall the predator takes over as Jake hunts the hunters.
Jake is a fantastic intelligent and witty protagonist obsessed with the duo needs of sex and eat as he rarely psychologically moves above the Physiological lowest level of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs; except when his life is at stake he climbs to the next level of personal Safety. The biographical fiction story line is driven by the title character who turns beastly when he hungers for sex or food; preferably together.
On leave from the FBI, Special Agent Ana Grey and her lover private security expert Sterling McCord are in London when her handler Mike Donnato calls from Los Angeles asking her to visit the Embassy. The FBI Legat in London Sheila Kuser asks her go to Siena, Italy to meet her half-sister Cecilia Maria Nicosa nee Sanchez of El Salvatore, who Ana had not known existed until the Fed call. The FBI wants Ana to meet Cecilia in order to investigate her wealthy coffee importer spouse Nicoli whose mistress vanished allegedly due to a White Shotgun murder.
Meanwhile Siena prepares for the Palio gala culminating with the legendary horse race between the city's wards. Someone stabs Nicosa's son Giovanni and Cecilia vanishes. Ana and Sterling trust no one local as they prepare to locate and rescue Cecilia before she becomes a White Shotgun victim.
The latest Agent Grey FBI thriller (see Good Morning Killer and Judas Horse) is an exciting European caper starting with a mass shooting in London and continuing on the continent. The complex story line is fast-paced and filled with suspense as the paternal siblings meet while family war breaks out in Italy. Though connecting the dots seem a bit convoluted, readers will appreciate Ana's European vacation.
Blood of the Reich
In 1938 Berlin, Reichfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler sends Kurt Raeder to Tibet to investigate rumors of a secret force that allegedly brings eternal life. At the same time Museum of Natural History zoologist Benjamin Hood, and pilot Beth Colloway need to prevent the Nazis from obtaining the substance.
In present day Seattle, a journalist saves software peddler Romminy Pickett from certain death when her car explodes. He explains he is writing an article on Tibet and that her heritage may save the world from evil. Sam Mackenzie and Romminy team up starting with investigating her birth and following up with what happened in Berlin, New York and ultimately the Himalayas just before WWII exploded as neo-Nazis try to capture them for nefarious malevolent reasons.
This is a great gripping thriller that will be on the year's short lists for action packed adventure tales. The two subplots rotate with each exciting yet nicely paired before converging into a super climax mindful of Indiana Jones that Spielberg should consider filming. Fans will appreciate the globetrotting escapades in 1938 and today as they meet at the top of the world.
This is an entertaining insightful nine story anthology that focuses on gay second or third generation Indian-Americans coping with being a sexual preference minority that is amplified by their respective family's elders clinging to the old country's culture. Each entry is well written and as a collection thought provoking but few attain profundity in part due to the format. In "Quarantine", a grandson takes his male lover to meet the family patriarch though he fears the older man will not accept his being gay as his parents are at best tepid towards his significant other. The lovers travel to India where they hide their hurt from a general disdain towards gay lovers as being an inane westernization. An octogenarian grandma wants to become an American "Citizen"; so her grandson trains her for the test, but she fails anyway. His parents consider his brother "The Better Person" because he married; while he is in a gay relationship in which his family refuses to recognize his significant other whether it is the sibling wedding or a trip to India. The remaining five entries also explore family acceptance or rejection of an offspring's gay relationship.
In 1911 Jerusalem, the Kaminsky family like their ancestors for generations is Haredi Jews who believe in a strict interpretation of the Torah. The Haredi adhere to a divided by gender lifestyle with males studying and enforcing Torah while females stayed at home to raise children and praying one will be the Messiah or sit behind curtains. Esther Kaminsky wants to break the restrictions as she desperately wants to pursue art in France; of which she has shown a propensity. However, her family expects her to marry a good Haradi man and bear children with him as they will raise their offspring in the same way she was raised. When her mother dies, her hope to escape her expected life dies too. Obeying her father as she feels guilty that God punished her family due to her dreams and her forbidden activities, Esther marries a modern Jaffa Jew, sending her away from the city she loves.
In 1924 circumstances and a miraculous opportunity enable Esther to travel to Paris. She muses about God working in mysterious ways as affirmed by her roundabout way to come to the city she dreamed of studying art in until her mom died.
This is a delightful historical tale of the life of a Jewish woman raised in Jerusalem during the last days of the Ottoman Empire as Jews "bloom the desert". Esther is a terrific individual who believes her dreams and other actions led directly to the family tragedy as God punished her for failing to follow scripture. Although the ending seems weak compared to the travels of Esther to get there, fans will relish this deep spotlight on being Jewish in the early twentieth century Holy Land.
Ten Thousand Saints
In Vermont, Les grows pot and his significant other Harriet creates paraphernalia. The pair adopts Jude who shows signs of fetal-alcohol effects. When Jude is nine years old, Harriet catches Les cheating on her and kicks him out of their home. He vanishes.
In Vermont, Teddy's white mother insisted his Indian father is dead. Now she deserts Teddy too. Teddy and Jude are best friends who enjoy skateboarding while high. On December 31, 1987, the two teens crash a party with fifteen year old coke head Eliza. They share cocaine and Teddy has sex with her. Afterward the two males try Freon, but Teddy dies from it. Meanwhile Eliza is pregnant. Jude moves to run down Alphabet City in Manhattan where Les arrives to take his adopted son with him. Teddy's 18-year-old brother Johnny though gay offers to marry Eliza so that the baby can remain with her mom and not discarded for adoption as demanded by the maternal grandmother of the unborn.
This is an engaging look at the late 1980s mostly from the perspective of the teens, but deftly avoids a nostalgia return through the amused adults who are awed, horrified and stunned by the beginnings of rapid change that will take the country into the virtual world. The characters are fully developed and different as the young come of age with Teddy's death and Eliza's pregnancy, and their parents struggle with what is right for their offspring who learn how fragile living is whether it's in Vermont or Manhattan.
The Inheritance: And Other Stories
Robin Hobb and Megan Lindholm
This ten story collection showcases how talented Margaret Lindholm is as both her pseudonyms have published super shots and novels. The introduction will fascinate fans of "both" writers as to how the two names and their distinct styles came into being. Part I focuses on the Lindholm persona with seven modern day profound science fiction and fantasy tales that place people in subtly extraordinary situations; five of them previously published between 1989 and 1993 all worth making the "Cut". These also include two award finalists ("A Touch of Lavender" and "Silver Lady and the Fortyish Man") and two new shorts ("Finis" and "Drum Machine"). Part II provides three Robin Hobb medieval-like fantasies with two previously published (the novella "Homecoming" and the title tale "The Inheritance" both in the Realm of the Elderlings). The final contribution "Cat's Meat" is a new story.
All ten entries are well written and affirm why Margaret Lindholm as Megan Lindholm and as Robin Hobbs is critically acclaimed. Part of the fun is to compare the writing styles to see if the reader can draw the conclusion that Duane Wilkins did. Though I still fail to see what he saw except that in each contribution regardless of size the star(s) are fully developed and that in either persona this winning anthology affirms the talent of Ms. Lindholm.
The Eyes of Willie McGee : A Tragedy of Race, Sex, and Secrets in the Jim Crow South
In 1945 black man Willie McGee is sentenced to death for raping Willette Hawkins a white woman in Mississippi. Six years later even with noted celebrities like Faulkner and Einstein and the Communist Party speaking in defense of "Free Willie McGee", the state executed him. Alex Heard provides a deep look at the case and the Jim Crow environment that made the outcome inevitable. First Mr. Heard makes a case that both sides in the debate played at best loose with the truth and most likely fabricated it. The prosecution appears to have forced a confession, used the racist card to sell their side and forced the defense attorneys to flee to avoid a lynching. On the other hand Mr. Heard also believes that McGee's contention of an affair is doubtful and a woman was hired probably by the Communist Party to act as his wife. Using FBI records, newspapers and interviews of family members, Mr. Heard paints a powerful look at Jim Crow as regardless of the evidence, Willie McGee would have been executed. Finally with photos including from the picnic atmosphere of the execution and references To Kill a Mockingbird, this is a deep look back at a nasty period in our history.
Before I Go to Sleep
At twenty-nine year of age Christine Lucas survived the car crash, but her ability to store short term memories was shattered. She can only recall 24 hours and no more. Dr. Nash recommends Chrissie keep a journal so she can scan what has recently happened, which she diligently maintains.
Every morning she awakens as if her brain was an etch-o-sketch. She has no idea who the man living with her is or if she has children. When she looks in a mirror she sees a middle aged face not the youthful one her mind says. Her journal and pictures on the mirror enable her to know the man is Ben her husband and that she is published novelist. However, she wonders why Ben conceals truths from her and what Nash wants from her.
Although there is an obvious connection to 50 First Dates, Before I Go To Sleep takes a much darker with no humor look at the loss of short term memory; making the story line more aligned with Memento but in a domestic setting. Chrissie holds the plot together from her opening awakening in bed with a married man she fails to recognize and never slows down as she begins to question those who allegedly care about her. Filled with twists, readers along with the beleaguered heroine will wonder why her loving husband hides truths from her.
In Los Angeles, Boston Brahmin Mercy Allcutt works as a secretary for former police officer turned private investigator Ernest Templeton. Mercy's duties are supposed to be strictly office, but she sometimes gets involved in field work.
Currently she searches for her boss who has been hired by Persephone Chalmers to recover stolen jewelry. The secretary enters the Chalmers' residence only to find the client dead. Searching for her employer, Mercy locates him tied up and gagged. She frees him, but the cops believe Mercy is covering for Ernie who is the only murder suspect. Mercy investigates by following the money trail as Ernie always suggests; this includes donations by the victim to the Adelaide Burkhard Emmanuel School of Religion.
Readers will enjoy Mercy's latest 1920s Los Angeles mystery (see Angel's Flight) as the fascinating heroine is a sheltered courageous young female who works the investigation. Besides the deep time and place that readers will feel they are visiting inside a fun whodunit; it is the comparison between the gentle aristocratic Mercy and the kick butt street wise Ernie that makes the tale. She is cozy and he is nor.
Do You Remember Me Now?
Karen Hanson Stuyk
"The Six" were the bullies at high school in Houston fifteen years ago. Nobody crossed them as the retaliation was always extreme.
In the present in Chicago, married Todd, one of the Six, picks up a woman at a bar. The next day he is found dead in his hotel room.
At the same time, divorced Chicago plastic surgeon Dr. Kate Dalton attended the same school where the sextet treated her nastily as "Plain Jane". In fact Todd date raped her, left her pregnant, but her baby died at birth and she had to have her uterus removed. She moved past them, lost weight, had her face fixed, and kept her married name. Kate is back in Houston to tend to her critically ill mother suffering from Leukemia. At the time her former school is hosting the fifteenth anniversary gala that she does not plan to attend. However, someone else has a different idea for fun; which focuses on killing the Six and since she was a victim who was in Chicago when number one died, police detective Sam Wolfe suspects Kate, but is also attracted to her.
Karen Hanson Stuyk makes a strong case that teen bullying not dealt with at the time lingers with those who were the victims. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Todd meets his fate and never slows down as other members of the Six are killed too. With the exception of the former quarterback, the rest of the Six come across as stereotypes of high school icons who never changed as adults and the killer seems obvious relatively early. Still this is an entertaining romantic police procedural that cautions readers to be aware of and deal with bullying.
Twentyish Rita Del Vecchio lives in suburban New Jersey. She works as a waitress making nothing. At a mall, a psychic tells her she is destined for great things and will fall in love and marry a man in uniform, but must risk leaving her comfort zone.
Deciding to take a chance on life, Rita applies for a position as a New York City police officer. To her euphoria, she is hired. She undergoes grueling training at the academy as instructor Sergeant Gary Hill takes no mercy on Twinkle Toes until she is at the end of her rope. Still she survives the rigorous training. Rita joins the city's transit police patrolling the trains. She begins dating cop Billy Quinn who she assumes is her secret admirer. However, as Internal Affairs investigates dirty cops, she becomes caught in the middle with only her secret admirer having her back.
New York, especially the Lexington Avenue line, makes this an enjoyable police procedural with a romantic subplot enhancing the insightful look at the tour of duty of a transit cop and an internal investigation into a dirty cop ring. Although the plot contains a bit too many spins, as Rita makes the tale entertaining with her courage and determination.
Dance in the Dark
In 1969, Hollywood Security is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. The firm's top operative Scott Elliott is worried about his son Elliot who is missing in action in Vietnam and his wife Ella cracking under the strain of knowing nothing. Their daughter Gabrielle has been a life saver in Elliot's mind as his spouse is falling apart.
Elliot agrees to find the runaway teenage daughter Miranda of a has-been star Forrest Combs. Her trail takes him to the growing XXX hard-core pornography film industry. Producer Ted LeRoy insists he sent her packing as being underage. Meanwhile Elliot is hired to look into drug smuggling by a B filmmaking crew. All roads soon lead to an outdoor rock concert where Elliot is undercover as security.
This exhilarating historical noir uses the Vietnam War's impact on the home front as a back story to a fascinating Hollywood mystery. While his beloved spouse is on the brink of a nervous breakdown and his daughter is mature for her years, Scott works a couple of cases including one that turns into murder. Readers will enjoy following Elliot's escapades (see Kill me Again for a previous Elliot security thriller) as he uses his sleuthing to conceal his fears that the anticipated dreaded call from Fort Ord will either be MIA or deceased.
The Sloth's Eye
At the Zoo, the most popular event is the annual elephant pumpkin smashing walk on Halloween. However, this year the gala turns ugly when Victor is found with his head smashed to bits the morning after. The victim was the latest boyfriend of the zoo's director serial lover Allison.
Meanwhile Allison decides the zoo needs a new exhibit to get the media and public away from the homicide. She approves small mammal zookeeper Hannah's request to buy a wombat. At the same time someone kidnaps the sloth from the small mammal wing. Hannah is attracted to her boss Chris who loathes Allison. They also knows whoever took the sloth had to work for the zoo.
The Sloth's Eye is an engaging look at what happens behind the scenes at a zoo as the murder and sloth mysteries stay in the background for the most part. Hannah is precocious as she is not a superhero amateur sleuth, but instead a clean the muck and drippings left behind by her beloved mammals. Readers who appreciate a glimpse of what it is like working at a zoo supported somewhat by the mysteries will enjoy visiting Hannah's Small Mammal House.
The Fairie Hills
In 1373 on Colonsay, eight years old Niall vanishes without a trace while searching for the mythical fairy gold. Colonsay Laird Gillespic leads a desperate search for the lad he fostered, who is the grandson of the Lord of the Isles. Desperate, Gillespic sends for his nephew Muirteach MacPhee, who solved A MASS FOR THE DEAD case to investigate.
Muirteach leaves for Colonsay immediately. He interrogates the villagers who mostly believe the Fairie took Niall. His inquiry leads to the finding of an infant's bones in a cave, but is no closer to learning what happened to the child as he fears each passing day makes it more likely the lad has been murdered. He sends for Mariota Beaton who helped him with A MASS FOR THE DEAD inquiry.
This is a terrific late fourteenth century Hebrides amateur sleuth mystery with a touch of romance in the windswept damp air. The key to the investigation is that most of the islanders believe in their heart that the Fairie abducted the child, which in turn anchors time and place. The few who think otherwise are mostly reticent when interrogated by the hero. Medieval mystery fans will want more collaborative whodunits between the M&M sleuths.
James Patrick Hunt
Affluent New York City antiques dealer Max Glendenning offers his Chicago based peer Evan Maitland with a deal the latter cannot refuse. Glendenning explains that he was working a deal to purchase a matching chair to one he owns worth a million each. Knowing Maitland was a former cop and bounty hunter as well as an antique expert, he wants Evan to travel to London to track down the chair stolen just before the deal was completed.
The vicious gangster brothers Ian and Ken Shivers believe Maitland is in town to pull a stunt on a deal they made with Windy City mobsters to sell million in stolen bearer bonds. The siblings frame Maitland for murder, which has the mob and the cops searching for him. On his own he must prove his innocence and turn the table on the ruthless brothers who bring shivers to anyone who knows of them even the police.
Tropospheric over the top of Big Ben, this is a fun mistaken identity caper as the hero and the adversarial siblings come across as satirical noir. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the readers meet the Shivers brothers who believe the Chicago visitor is scamming them so send their minion to get him; Maitland's Reply is to fight back. Their confrontation makes for an exciting entertaining but improbable thriller.
Following the death of her mother, Lainie Johnson travels from California to meet her maternal grandfather on his Lone Tree Ranch in West Texas. Miles was estranged for over a quarter of a century from his late daughter so is unaware that he has a granddaughter until she arrives.
Unsure she wants to face Miles until they build a rapport or not, Lainie conceals their kinship from him, but obtains a position on his ranch as his personal secretary. Ranch foreman Reed Smith knows from the first time he sees Lainie's face that she is his life mate. As her deadline to leave approaches, Lainie falls in love with Reed and Miles, but fears both will reject her when she admits to them who she is.
This is an engaging family drama as the death of the sandwich generation brings her father and her together though each has quite a chasm to overcome as both seek a blood connection. The story line is character driven as the emotions run high although Lainie at times seems too shrill with indignation considering she concealed her identity. Still fans will appreciate this enjoyable Texas Two-Step ranch romance.
A Shot in the Dark
There are two kinds of demon hunters. The Catholic Church sanctions the Order of Saint Silvis and the others work for Grapevine. Jesse James Dawson is a champion though he has not one iota of magic; instead he relies on strength and cunning when battling a demon over a human's soul. Needing a respite, he heads to the Colorado Mountains with his brother Cole who once sold his soul to a demon; Will the paramedic, Marty the Armorer, and Cameron the seminary school dropout.
Jesse almost changes his mind when powerful Axel the demon who craves his soul tells him he is glad to see the hunter on vacation. When the party arrives at the cabin, deformed hominoid creatures attack them; one bites the cabin owner's son Zane who wears the mark of someone who sold his soul to a demon. Zane is dying but they cannot leave the cabin as they are surrounded by a horde of creatures. Jesse freaks when he realizes they are trapped by the Yeti who he has defeated before. The yeti demon bargains with Jesse for Zane's soul. Axel arrives and seems on the side of Jesse and his friends; but the hunter knows how devious demons are when it comes to human soul harvesting.
K.A. Stewart's second Jesse James Dawson thriller is an outstanding urban fantasy. The steadfast hero continues to remain duty diligent to protect the unsuspecting human race from demons that collect their souls. The protagonist knows never make a deal with a demon as it is like reading the fine print of a credit card contract in which A Devil in the Details will haunt the individual. The trapped vacationers will either male bond with trusting one another to protect their respective backs or become demon fodder in this super paranormal.
For Heaven's Eyes Only
Simon R. Green
Eddie "Shaman Bond" Drood, his lover Molly Metcalf the witch and his family defend humanity against evil paranormal monsters. Eddie and Molly learn of a horrific Satanist plot from beyond when his spirit was a prisoner in Limbo and she came to take him home to Drood Hall. Needing help, Eddie enlists his Uncles the Armourer and the Librarian and Molly's sister Isabella.
The team finds further evidence of the Great Sacrifice project that has been deployed in Little Stoke. A confused Eddie and Molly obtain assistance from Ammonia vom Acht the telepath to enable the Librarian to fully function. As they dig deeper, neither Eddie, Molly or the rest of team anticipated the betrayal that leaves their side tottering towards hell since the armor fails while earth is being turned into a supernatural battlefield with a paranormal weapons commodity market thriving in the Himalayas.
The latest Secret Histories urban (and mountain) fantasy (see From Hell with Love) is a superb thriller that has the Drood brood trying to save the world. The story line is fast-paced and satirically over the top of the Himalayas as Eddie's zoo crew is certifiable, but then again who would not be if they were fighting supernatural monsters. With a lampooning nod to James Bond in an urban fantasy earth, fans will relish For Heavens Eyes Only and await the direct sequel Live and Let Drood.
In Minhorne, the Curse insures the Darkborn shun the light and the Lightborn shun the dark so they never mix; at least that was the belief until the twins were born (see Darkborn). Thus Darkborn married mages Lady Telmaine Hearne and Dr. Balthasar end up with the twins, which leads to learning of a third group the Shadowborn manipulating the hostilities between the light and the dark (see Lightborn).
Another "truism" the Darkborn accepts as gospel is that when a mage dies, his or her magic dies too. Thus Darkborn Lady Telmaine Hearne has been sentenced to death for her dabbling with sorcery. She flees for the Borders where war is imminent, but the alliance between the Lightborn and Darkborn is shaky at best as they prepare to fight the Shadowborn. Balthasar mentally struggles with the knowledge of his connection to the insidious diabolical enemy. Lightborn assassin Floria White Hand is at the Borders trying to protect her people's young Prince. At the same time Ishmael di Studier, who has spent a lifetime restraining the Curse, which includes battling the Shadowborn, is unprepared foe what awaits at the Borders.
The third "born" fantasy wraps up the major threads as all the key players converge at the Borders where war is imminent. Extremely complicated yet fast-paced, readers will relish the paths to the final battle as heroes from the previous tales struggle to survive and a terrific spin re the Curse makes for a delightful finish. Although newcomers should read the first two books that set the table for this scrumptious repast, fans will enjoy the latest entry in the Sinclair mythos.
A Marcelli Wedding
"The Marcelli Bride". The four kidnappers wearing Halloween masks abduct the president's daughter Darcy Jensen. When they reach their van, their leader looks at Darcy in disgust and informs his thugs they snatched the wrong one as no one cares what happens to this loser. They unceremoniously leave her behind in the parking lot as they plan to grab Darcy's glamorous sister Lauren. The two siblings are sent to separate safe houses. After a harrowing overseas ops scenario, Lieutenant Commander Joe Larson and his men are happy to be back in the States. Joe is assigned to protect Darcy at the Marcelli Vineyards. He only recently learned that he is a Marcelli. Amidst the vineyards, Joe and Darcy fall in love, but first he must keep her safe.
"The Marcelli Princess". In California Mia Marcelli is used to sleeping alone ever since Diego died several years ago. When she awakens to find a man in her bed she threatens to harm him while her two grandmothers charge into the room. The intruder explains he is Rafael, Crown Prince of Calandria. He faked his death but hides the reason for his reappearance; as he has come to take home their offspring four year old Danny, second in line to the throne. He even pretends not knowing he sired a son with her when she was in Calandria. If he gets the kid back to his kingdom, Mia has no legal rights.
These reprints of two of the Marcelli saga combine humor with suspense. Both entries are filled with action from the onset and strong characters though Rafael will not be liked. This omnibus contains two fine romantic thrillers.
Starcraft II: Devils' Due
In 2488, farmboy Jim Raynor leaves backwater Shiloh to join the Confederacy Marine Corps where he meets Tychus Findley. Their unit became knows as the Heaven Devils (by William C. Dietz) for their courageous taking the fight to the enemy Kel-Morian Combine. Near the end of the Guild Wars, the two friends go AWOL after challenging the brutal abusive authority of their Commander. They become outlaws as their other option is to accept the Confederacy resocialization program that would strip away their respective essences.
In 2494 the pair eludes the interstellar marshals as they have since they deserted living a hedonistic life by stealing Confederacy credits. However, while robbing a train in the Badlands New Sydney all changes for the pair and not because they take Lady Jukebox. George Woodley of the Confederacy Bureau of Protection of Monies and Values man refuses to allow them to open a safe as Marshal Wilkes Butler is coming. As they celebrate their latest robbery, neither is aware of a killer on Tarsonis, but soon after business with the Skulls the two felons leave New Sydney to crime ridden Koprulu where their respective destinies lie.
This is an exciting science fiction thriller based on the game. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with non-stop action starting with the train robbery and never slows down until a final confrontation with Butler. Although Findley never seems more than a pale amoral Han Solo, Raynor is fully developed with a conscience. Butler and the villains are two dimensional, but fans especially gamers will enjoy Christie Golden's Starcraft entry.
A. J. Tata
On the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, Special Forces Colonel Zach Garrett and his commando unit attack an enemy camp. In the combat, their helicopter is destroyed and all assumed dead. In Spartanburg, South Carolina the Casualty Assistance Officer and Chaplain visit the next of kin, Zach's teenage daughter Amanda, who loathes her father for never being there for her or her mother Melanie; she is indifferent to her dad's death until she learns of his $500,000 life insurance policy. While her mother and maternal grandma Nina celebrate, there is a stipulation before she can collect, she must visit psychiatrist Dr. Riley Dwyer.
In Loudoun County, Virginia, a Casualty Assistance Officer informs CIA operative Matt Garrett of his brother's death. Matt travels to Afghanistan to bring home Zachary's remains. However, he decides on one unsanctioned avenging raid on those who killed his sibling, but begins to find interesting information. Back in South Carolina Zach's ex wife and former mother-in-law begin the purge of his existence.
The third Garrett "threat" thriller (see Rogue Threat and Sudden Threat) is an exciting military operative tale that rotates between the theater and the home-front. The story line is fast-paced in theater while poignant at home. Beyond what they do to brainwash their daughter, the unbelievable additional activity by Nina and Melanie are over the top of Sassafras Mountain. Still fans will enjoy this solid entry as the field escapades are entertaining and the spotlight on a stay at home parent's destructive influence towards her offspring make for a powerful storyline as Melanie and Nina make Cruella DeVille look like Mother Teresa when it comes to brainwashing Amanda.
Hunt the Moon
Cassandra Palmer abetted by Pritkin the Mage killed her maker Apollo (see Curse the Dawn) when the god caused trouble in his efforts to return to this realm. Cassie looks forward to R&R as she is mentally and physically exhausted from the war with her creator.
Her time with Master vampire Senator Mircea Basarab ends abruptly when supernatural Spartnoi assassins try to kill her. Cassie assumes the attacks are to prevent her from being crowned the Pythia as the world's chief clairvoyant. However, a master mage hypothesizes that Apollo's death has triggered the Ragnarok war of the gods. Either way, someone or thing rejects the concept of Cassie being crowned.
The latest Cassandra Palmer fantasy (see Embrace the Night) is an exciting entry as the heroine needs a breather, but her enemies keep the pressure on her. The story line is fast-paced but held together by the beleaguered heroine who battles against supernatural assassins and a fear that the first order effect of her and Pritkin killing Apollo is Ragnarok has begun. Readers will relish this thriller that uses ancient mythology as a strong foundation.
Should've Been A Cowboy
Vicki Lewis Thompson
Tyler Connelli has achieved her dream position as she is being trained as a cruise ship director. Euphoric she goes home to see her sister Morgan married to Gabe Chance (see Claimed), one of the three sibling owners of the Last Chance Ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
However, she is taken aback to find Alex Keller whose sister married Jack Chance (see Ambushed), working as the ranch's marketing director. They had a one nighter in a hayloft when she attended the marriage of Morgan and Gabe, and he was the DJ at the reception. Tyler is attracted to him and offers her party planning skills to assist Alex with his upcoming open house; her altruistic motive allows her to spend time with him although she knows that will be short as next week she ships out. Besides he has trust issues after Crystal left him in Chicago.
It's clearly an extended family affair in the latest Last Chance Ranch romance (see Wanted for Nick Chance's romance). The lead couple is a charming match as love may not be enough since she is leaving and he thinks he knows best for both of them. Sub-genre fans will enjoy another visit to Jackson Hole.
Former Marine Megan McGowan understands being away from home on deployment. Now a private security expert, Megan misses her boyfriend and firm's partner, Marine Darius Folsom as he is overseas when his reserve unit was mobilized and deployed
Megan and another partner Dari's best friend Jason Savage work on a kidnapping case together. Their proximity heats up their attraction and soon the pair makes love together several times. When Dari returns home early, Megan must choose between her two lovers; that is if her returning marine allows her a choice. First the trio along with their other partners Lazarus and Lincoln Williams work to rescue a kidnapped Finley.
The first Pleasure Seekers romantic suspense is a taut thriller that moves out on two subplots: the personal triangle and the abduction. The romantic segue is deftly developed as Tori Carington puts a powerful spotlight on the human cost of deployments as Dari feels betrayed by his beloved and his BFF while he was in theater. The kidnapping provides tension and twists including a brilliant spin that fans will relish while waiting for the Wicked Pleasures of Linc's tale.
In Hope's Crossing, Colorado, single mom of two kids (Macy and Owen), a dog (Chester) and a pain in the butt mom (Ruth), Claire Bradford owns struggling String Fever beads shop. She loves her town with the only blight being her ex Jeff with his new wife Holly. Someone broke in to her shop in a robbery and also vandalized it by knocking the beads all over the floor and destroying the daughter of the mayor's customized wedding dress. The police dispatcher Donna tells her she is the fourth victim.
New Police Chief Riley McKnight arrives at Claire's shop. When he was in high school he had a crush on her that has continued with years of Claire fantasies, but she was and still is BFF to one of his older sisters; besides which back then he was a troubled teen after his dad walked out. He still wants her, but knows he better ignore his desire. All the robberies were shops protected by TopFlight Security, but the system failed. Claire is hurt in an accident while the anonymous enigmatic "Angel of Hope" inspires people to be all they can be. Still this benefactor and love may not be enough for Riley and Claire.
This is an engaging police procedural romance due to the super strong townsfolk; as the key support cast contains diverse personalities, but behave like a town in financial difficulty. The whodunit takes a backseat to the romance with Riley and Claire knowing the zillions con reasons to not become involved and the one pro reason arguing for involvement.
Trace of Fever
Although his friend Dare rescues his sister Alani from the human traffickers (see When You Dare), Trace Rivers remains in an obsessive rage. He lives to destroy these predatory beasts that prey on females. His targets are those above the law untouchables like affluent influential businessman Murray Coburn.
Trace obtains a position as a bodyguard to Murray as the first step in destroying this monster. Step two is put on hold when Priscilla "Priss" Patterson brazenly marches into Murray's office insisting he is her father. She plans to get close enough to her sire to destroy him. As the undercover bodyguard and the newly discovered offspring share plans, they fall in love; but first there is malevolent monstrous Murray to eliminate.
The latest Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor romantic suspense once again focuses on the evil prevalent human trafficking as predators like Murray buy and sell people as commodities. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action, but it is the human marketing that grips the audience with horror over what people do to people. As the pair fall in love, fans will wonder whether Murray is toying with them before selling them at auction to the highest bidder.
Vanish in Plain Sight
In Springville, Pennsylvania, Afghan war veteran Link Morgan takes a sledge hammer to a shoddy panel inside the farmhouse he inherited form his late Uncle Allen. To his shock, inside the wall he finds an old battered suitcase containing women's clothing including an Amish apron and a photo of a mother and little child. He calls the Spring Township cops who identify the photo as scandalous Barbara Angelo.
Marisa Angelo has spent her life wondering why her beloved mom walked out on her dad and her when she was five years old. Now she learns her mother's suitcase has been found buried inside a house in Lancaster County. Hoping to find answers and closure, Marisa leaves Baltimore to head to her hometown in Pennsylvania. While Link plans to move to California and wants no part in the investigation of why there is a suitcase of Marisa's mom hidden in his uncle's home, he admires obsessed Marisa's determination to learn the truth regardless of what that may be. As he falls in love with the resolute Marisa, he remains steadfast in his need to insure she remains safe.
The second "... In Plain Sight" Amish romantic suspense is a great thriller that enhances and expands as well as builds on the opening entry (see Murder in Plain Sight). The gripping story line is fast-paced with the sleuthing subplot serving as the lead while the romance supports the investigation. Readers will enjoy this taut tale as the Amish lifestyle that Marisa's mom was raised in and thought processes were imprinted by is critical to what happened to her years ago.
Linda Lael Miller
Tricia McCall left Seattle to settle her late father's affairs in Lonesome Bend, Colorado. While working on selling her dad's financially failed campgrounds for RVs, she stays with her great-grandmother Natty and a sardine smelling cat.
Conner Creed works hard paying homage to his beloved uncle who raised him by insuring his late relative's ranch remains a success. His wild estranged twin brother Brody returns to town accompanied by Connor's former girlfriend Joleen. As Connor and Tricia fall in love, he tries to ignore his feelings for the Washingtonian as she is big city technology and he is ranch soil dirtolgy. However he will learn he does not have a chance to avoid his heart since Natty, a tweener, a dog, a cat and a twin refuse to accept anything short of marriage for this pair in love.
The second Creed Cowboys romance (see A Creed in Stone Creek) is an entertaining tale starring a warm lead couple and a powerful support cast. Ironically the focus of the story line is relationships with family members as the twins struggle to mend fences and the heroine wants to know her Natty better and her goddaughter as well; the lead couple's love angle stays somewhat in the back until the rest of the gang give it CPR. Fans of the ever expanding saga will enjoy stopping in Colorado as Connor finds his groove in Tricia.
The Wedding of the Century & Other Stories
Mary Jo Putney, Kristin James, Charlotte Featherstone
The Wedding of the Century by Mary Jo Putney. In 1885, beautiful and affluent Sarah "Sunny" Vangelder of the New York upper crust has come to London to follow in the footsteps of her godmother who rode like a Comanche in Hyde Park and not wanting to wed just for a title. Justin Aubrey needs income to save his dukedom. First came marriage, and then came love.
Jesse's Wife by Kristin James. Amy McCallister knows she is a plain wallflower who cannot compare to her vivacious beautiful younger sister, but dreams of Charles Whitaker courting her. She was walking on her father's ranch with Charles, but Jesse Tyler spots them. Her reputation is ruined when Charles insists he loves her and begins to kiss her over her objection. Jesse rescues her and offers to marry her as he seeks acceptance. First came marriage, and then came love.
Seduced by Starlight by Charlotte Featherstone. In 1874 England, rake Jase Markham loves Blossom, who is his brother Samuel's fiancee. They were engaged since they were children. Samuel informs Blossom he loves someone else so she ends their engagement as he races with his love to Gretna Green. Euphoric Jase is in the game for the first time as he plans to court and marry his angelic succubus Blossom. For her first came marriage, and then came love; for him first came love and then came marriage.
These are three wonderful historical romances though Kristin James' feels a bit out of place with the two Victorian English aristocratic tales and also is a reprint of a 1994 tale.
After losing much of his leg in a combat incident that left his best friend who was his then fiancee's sibling Freddie dead in Iraq, Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Bruce Calhoun ended his engagement to Navy Chief Petty Officer Mitzi Zahn. They needed each other while grieving, but he shut her out.
To his chagrin, he and Mitzi work in the same Navy/Marine Corps recruiting station. He still loves her, but she has not forgiven him for dumping her over a year ago when she needed his comfort and felt deeply he needed hers too. Worse, his Mitzi is seeing Army First sergeant Daniel Estrada who is a nice guy.
This In Uniform contemporary romance is a great insightful look at severely injured military failing to adjust to physical and emotional changes as they "recover" at home. The emotional plight of Gunny Bruce is brilliantly rendered as he has three strikes (his loss of his BFF, his loss of his leg, and his loss of his woman); while Mitzi also struggles with multiple losses. Readers will relish this engaging profound tale of a wounded warrior's mental struggles to regain his self sense of worth as with his leg went his esteem.
A Father's Quest
While Jonas Galloway served in Afghanistan, Cheryl took their seven year old daughter Birdie from their Memphis apartment and vanished inside the shrinking GoodFriends cult that travels the delta circuit. Cheryl explained to her confused child that brother Thom is the second coming. Birdie thinks "Mommy" is wrong about Brother Thom who plans to dump Cheryl and perhaps sell the redheaded child he considers a ghost with her sneaking around. Birdie wants her daddy.
Back in the States, Jonas wants to find his beloved child buried inside the cult somewhere in Louisiana. He believes his best hope to retrieves his offspring resides with his psychic former girlfriend Remy Bouchard, who used her talent to find him when he went missing as a child. He is still hurting from when he ended their relationship based on her mom's stunning revelation that left him believing his beloved is his half-sister. Jonas pleads with her to help him even as he realizes he loves her as a mate and not a sister. Remy offers to use her skill but also wants them DNA tested as she still loves her Jonas.
The latest Spotlight on Sentinel Pass is an enjoyable second chance romance starring two strong protagonists and a delightful but frightened child. The support cast enhances the tale especially her twin Jessie and her mate Cade (see Return to the Black Hills); even as hyperbole makes Mommy seem more unhinged and Brother Thom more villainous than needed. Readers will appreciate this fun tale while wondering when Maury will appear with "The DNA says you are..."
Secrets In A Small Town
Kimberly Van Meter
The Dayton Tribune rips Big Trees Logging company owner Owen Garrett for his irresponsibility. Three times reporter Piper Morning Dew Sunday tears into the "big bad logger" running a reputation that he has worked diligently to fix after the scandal by his father Ty twenty-five years ago. Worse the hippie offspring wants to interview him while he wants to strangle her.
He threatens to sue her and the paper if they do not retract her slanderous commentary. However, Piper gets his attention when she insists she wants to look at the incident that shaped him because she believes his father was innocent when he and others died at a racist compound. Stunned Owen agrees to work with Piper to uncover the truth of what really happened a quarter of a century ago.
The key to the latest Mama Jo's Boys tale (see A Chance in the Night) is the realistic changing relationship between the reporter and the logger especially as they begin to uncover buried truths about the massacre that occurred. The romantic suspense story line is fast-paced and filled with tension as readers will relish this terrific entry.
The Girl in the Steel Corset
In 1897 London, the Machinist has taken control of humanoid robotic servants and turned them from obedient help into dangerous maniacs. At the same time Finley Jayne knock out an odious aristocrat sexually assaulting her. Knowing she would be in trouble with the law, she flees. Teenage ducal orphan Griffin King and Sam Morgan the hybrid robot find her bleeding and unconscious. Griffin sees the darkness inside of the sixteen year old girl and takes her with him. When she awakens he offers her an opportunity to join his team of magical misfits.
However, Griffin's other strays disagree with his bringing Finley into the fold. Sam, Emily O'Brien and Jasper Renn the expatriate American cowboy fail to see the magical thing inside of Finley that Griffin knows exists as his new recruit has a soft outside but when riled turns into a titan. He believes she will help in the investigation into the Machinist who plots to destroy the young group making inquiries into his robotic odyssey. Complicating the unit's cohesiveness as they prepare to hunt down the Machinists is internal attractions detract from a team of one
This is an engaging late Victorian steampunk fantasy with a strong romantic undercurrent that at times turns into a tidal wave. The story line is fast-paced except at times when the focus is on science and technology not quite interwoven into the otherwise entertaining plot. Readers, including DC comic book fans, will enjoy the Harlequin Teen Titans as Kady Cross provides a terrific thriller.
A Rancher's Pride
Barbara White Daille
In Flagman's Folly, New Mexico Ronnie Ward dumps her daughter on her ex husband Sam Robertson and his mother Sharleen informing the latter she is starting over with a new man. He is stunned as he never knew he had a child. Still reeling Sam vows to be the best daddy in the world to four year old Becky.
He learns his pride and joy is deaf, but he does not care one iota. However, his former sister-in-law Kayla Ward arrives from Illinois vowing to obtain custody of her niece from the absentee father. A sign language teacher, Kayla hates Sam based on what Ronnie told her about her abusive spouse. Sharleen gets hurt in a fall; Sam goes with her to the ER though he distrusts Kayla not to flee with her niece. However, thinking what is best for the child and realizing the aunt and father wants that too, Judge Lloyd Baylor orders the pair to provide a stable environment for Becky for six weeks of joint custody before returning to court.
This is a fabulous family drama as the aunt and the dad fight for custody over his child who turns into the matchmaker. The characters are fully developed with flaws like obstinacy as each learns how irresponsible Ronnie is. Though the solution is obvious as this is a romance, fans will enjoy the trip getting their as a precocious little girl turns Flagman's Folly into the land of Enchantment.
The Marriage Solution
In Howard, Missouri Dylan Ross meets Tara Montgomery at his mom's daycare center where she works. She recognizes him as a love 'em and leave 'em hunk; having met one before; Jay dumped her when she got pregnant four years ago. Now she raises her Jimmy as a single mom, but her child's paternal grandparents are suing for custody insisting she is unfit though they only know her from her bad girl Jay days.
Violet Durant calls Dylan asking if he will attend her daughter's funeral and what he plans to do about four year old Lily who he did not know existed until now. The computer guru and the day care provider share a common problem to which he offers a solution. She accepts his marriage of convenience proposal, as long as he understands her child comes first in her eyes.
Although the theme is not new, the characters turn this into a warm family drama filled with love as each has to overcome a misconception about the other. Neither adult can help but fall in love with the other's child and subsequently each other. Contemporary fans will enjoy the Marriage Solution as neither parents anticipated the love.
With This Ring I Thee Bed
Alison Tyler, editor
This twenty-five short story collection focuses on sex (and humor) in marriage whether it is the honeymoon, the wedding day, the make up encounter or The Seven Year Itch (sans Marilyn) by Kristina Lloyd. Each entry is well written as the authors seemed to have had a good time writing about various aspects but with a strong sexual spin of marriage in under twenty-five pages. The opening act occurs with two empty first class seats as Now or Forever by Nikki Magennis moves the boudoir into the kitchen. Sommer Marsden's bats second with a bride caught "Racing to the Altar," by a cop who knows how to pat down a speeder. Fans will enjoy the Anniversary Waltz by Portia Da Costa and the male perspective with contributions by Thomas S. Roche ("A Lucky Wedding") and Michael Hemington ("The Wedding Stoppers). All the tales are quickies as summed up with the aptly titled "Strippers and Cigars" by N.T. Morley and even the "Mother of the Bride" by Cheyenne Blue finds her groove. With This Ring I Thee Bed is an amusing heated look at sex and marriage, which goes together in this fun collection.
Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey
On the planet Pern, plague was killing the dragons just as the deadly Thread began falling from the red orb. Lorana found a cure at the cost her beloved queen dragon, but the toll is devastating as the surviving dragons cannot even fill up a weyr. Since all the dragons and their riders of Telgar Weyr were lost in between, Fiona and T'mar become the new Weyr leaders. Understaffed and under-skilled, each time they go out to fight thread, more die or are crippled. Unless they come up with a solution soon, human and dragon life on Pern will be extinct.
Although pregnant and without her dragon, Lorana borrows the Bendon weyr dragon to go to the future to plead for help. The Brendan Weyrwoman provides her with coordinates as to where she should land. When she arrives at the location she meets Trader Tenniz who is dying. She remains at his side until he passes, but now knows she must figure out what he hinted at. Lorana returns to Fiona two times from her location and she brings F'Jan to be with Terin in her hour of need butt F'Jian does not explain how or why since he was killed fighting Thread. As they put together the clues, they begin a plan to save the planet by hopefully cheating time
In this final of the latest Pern miniseries (see Dragon Blood, Dragonheart and Dragongirl the threads (no pun intended) come together to create a stirring exciting sci-fi thriller. Readers will admire the characters especially Fiona, a natural leader lacking experience and firepower at a time of dire straits yet gets riders to follow her in spite of what appears is a suicide mission. McCaffrey mother and son team up smoothly wit the latest entry in a classic epic saga.
Star Wars: Choice of One
Months have passed since Luke Skywalker blew up the death Star (see A New Hope), but he diligently practices to become stronger in the force. The war between the Empire and the Alliance continues with the former seeking to strike back at the rebels who desperately need allies, equipment and supplies. Empire Officer Thrawn warns Emperor Palatine that they are threatened by more than just the rebels. Nusoesva, a powerful warlord in the Unknown Region is conquering worlds in Wild Space and looks like he will soon make incursion into the Imperial sector. Palatine ignores the concern because the warlord is just an alien.
The rebels are offered a base on Poln Minor in the Outer Rim. Since the Empire won't help them fight Nusoesva, the leaders of the planet turn to the Alliance asking for protection. The Emperor learns of two possible treasonous acts and deploys his Hand Mara Jade to determine the truth; if affirmed she is to kill the Governor of the Candoras sector, Bider Ferrouz and his accomplices. Han, Leia, and Luke head to Poln Major to find out if the governor's offer is authentic or a trap. Also on the planet are the disgruntled Hand of Judgment storm troopers who work to root out evil in the Empire. All will converge with betrayal and death the common denominators
It is amazing to see caring good people like Mara and the storm troopers Hand of Judgment believe that the Emperor is a kind person who cares for his subjects. That soul searching element enhances an action-paced space opera. Readers will praise Timothy Zahn as he captures the original essence of the Lucas pantheon; not an easy mission to achieve since this would make a fine movie number 4.5 (in between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back).
Raising Stony Mayhall
In 1968, a zombie plague exploded with the victims in a raged fever frenzy biting humans when they could find them. The Feds worked to kill the zombies by burning their bodies and thus preventing a pandemic. Once the fever ended forty-eight hours later the survivors became rational thinking non violent feeling people who formed an underground to help their own kind. Stony Mayhall was found as a baby by Wanda Mayhall, the latter raised him along with her three daughters. He never knew there were others like him as he grew up in isolation on a remote farm. His only friend was Kwang Cho.
One night Stony and Kwang went out but the former is recognized for what he is. The Diggers almost catch Stony, but an underground Zombie leader Delia takes him to a safe house. For years he lived in the underground safe house until a group of zombies prepare to give the Big Bite to the human race. Stony calls the Diggers on them, but is captured too and sent under extraordinary rendition to Deadtown Federal Medical Prison where experiments on zombies occur. He becomes a favorite of the director and the other prisoners as he gives them hope. Stony escapes but knows his life's work has begun to save the zombies from the Government who wants to see them all destroyed.
This zombie thriller contains the twist that the species in many ways is better than many humans are as for instance the first commandment is not to bite a breather. Daryl Gregory has his zombies behave like Frankenstein as misunderstood beasts forced to reside in separate unequal government facilities. The Feds know of the forty-eight hour rule, but prefer keeping that classified as top secret. Readers will relish this zombie portrayal as fans will empathize with Stony and his brethren and adopted human family while hissing at cruel humans who claim security as their rationale.
Over two millennia old Atticus O'Sullivan hid in Tempe, Arizona behind soccer and the Third Eye Books and Herbs store as he knew Celtic God Aenghus Og wanted him dead; However instead the Druid did the impossible, killing two Tuatha De Danann and survived his battle with the God Aenghus Og though Atticus needs time to heal (see Hounded) and train his new mentee Granuaile. Instead he is in demand by a horde of people who want him to kill a God or two, or sell him life insurance.
Making matters more complicated is the arrival of Nazi witches and their demons he knew from his WWII in Europe days. They come to kick his butt while his pact with the local coven is in trouble. Finally there is the matter of the Fallen Angel dining on the locals and the Celtic Goddess wanting to dine on Atticus.
The second Iron Druid urban fantasy is a tongue in cheek fast-paced frolic as the hero wonders what happened to his nice safe world. His asides are amusing as he watches all the paranormal activity that suddenly has surfaced in Tempe. Fans of satirical wise ass heroes will want to join Atticus as he feels Hexed with the brewing battle against the horde of illegal aliens.
The River of Shadows
Robert V.S. Redick
The ancient ship Chathrand has finally crossed the Ruling Sea and reached the southern tip of Bali Adro where they hope to form an alliance with the humans. The trek was dangerous for the crew as many died mostly due to attacks of dark magic and supply shortages. However, the rebel alliance led by Pazel "the Tarboy" Pathkendle and the admiral's daughter Thasha Isiq feel combat ready for anything.
They quickly realize how wrong they are when the meet those from the empire. The final battle between the rebel alliance and the ancient sorcerer Arunis for control of the powerful Nilstone relic has begun. Even if one possesses the arcane stone, it does not mean victory as failing to deploy properly leads to a horrific death. As Arunis gets closer to success, Pazel and Thasha unite with their enemies in a desperate ploy to prevent the sorcerer from winning. However, a crewmember flirts with Thasha dividing her from Pazel and enabling Arunis to close in on the ultimate victory.
This epic fantasy continues the exhilarating adventures of the crew of the Chathrand Voyage (see The Red Wolf Conspiracy and The Ruling Sea) and like its predecessors does not allow readers a respite as the action keeps on coming. All that seafaring escapades and land battles are two edged swords as the excitement is immense, but the cast is so numerous few come across beyond what was previously developed. Still fans will relish the third Voyage of the Chathrand while newcomers need to read the previous entries to understand what motivates the prime players to act as they do.
Star Wars Fate of the Jedi #7: Conviction
Over forty years after A New Hope, on Coruscant the ruthless regime of the Galactic Alliance Chief of State Natasi Daala ends; the Jedi Knights and their allies take charge (see Fate of the Jedi #6 Vortex by Troy Denning). While the Jedi leadership including grandparents Han and Leila Solo put together a new government, Daala supporters begin a counterinsurgency. They demand the execution of former Jedi and Sith Tahiri Veila convicted of killing Galactic Alliance officer Gilad Pellaeon; at Armand Isard Maximum Correctional Facility she fights the other convicts like the Hutt and the Wookie.
Near Almania, traveling on the Jade Shadow, Luke and Ben Skywalker accompanied by Sith apprentice Vestara Khai pursue Abeloth. At Meliflar Station they witness first hand the dark power of Abeloth who is stronger and much darker than the Sith. The pursuit continues until the two Jedi and the Sith trap their adversary on Nam Chorios. As they deploy their final assault against this monster, a Sith death squadron attacks the Skywalkers at the same Abeloth begins her countermeasure.
Aaron Allston returns to the Fate of the Jedi (see Outcast and Backlash) as the two prime subplots of this saga continues. On Coruscant, the Jedi and their allies try to bring back the "new hope" they fostered four decades ago but Daala has loyal backers who prefer her iron fisted regime over the Force. At the same time the Skywalker team faces peril from the Sith while lurking for them is the vile Abeloth. Although an action-packed transition book to the final arc of this series as a new alliance forms, Star War fans who have read the previous Fate of the Jedi entries will relish this tale while Ascension and Apocalypse awaits readers.
In 2032 Georgia Mason became infected with the zombie Kellis-Amberlee virus (see Feed) that has run wild for decades. Humans have survived by following specific safety guidelines like extremely tiny windows in which a gnat would not find easy egress. However with all they did, the co-blogger of Postcards from the Wall caught the disease due to CDC infecting her and is now dead. Though almost a decade later, her blogging bother Shaun believes he might as well be too though what keeps him alive is talking inside his head to his dead sister; which he knows makes him certifiable even in a land filled with zombies.
CDC Dr. Kelly Connolly visits Mason. He muses the last time they met was when she delivered his sister's ashes to him and the time before that was when the siblings were accused of amplification. George tells him to ignore history and talk with her. Kelly wants his blogging crew to investigate a new development in the Kellis-Amberlee; research as scientists are dying at an alarming rate. She faked her death to get to him and his news crew. As George orders him to lead the inquiry, Mason thinks his sister is unfair as he just wants the cause of death for CDC being Shaun Mason.
The second futuristic Newsflash Mason Zombie thriller is a fabulous suspense tale that grips the audience even before the prime story line begins. Aptly titled, Deadline contains a super twisting plot and a strong cast including the late Georgia. Readers will enjoy this dark biting thriller as readers wonder what the truth is when the media and the agencies charged with protecting the public manipulate, omit and often lie.
James S.A. Corey
Inter-solar system relations between Earth, Mars, and the "Belter" colonies are colder than the temperatures of Neptune. In that hostile environment ice transporter Jim Holden and his employees work the run between Saturn and the asteroid belt. However, when his vessel receives an SOS from the Scopuli, a derelict Belter vessel, he and his crew investigate as there is evidence that he Martian military attacked the ship.
At the same time that Jim and his team make inquiries, Ceres Station detective Joe Miller suffers from stress. Burned out, he still finds it odd that there is a sudden dramatic decline in mob violence. However, he is more fascinated with the reported missing daughter of wealthy earth parents. As he investigates, his efforts interact with that of Jim. As the alleged terrorist Outer Planets Alliance and the biochemistry company Protogen are in the middle of the mess, civil war seems imminent.
This is an excellent futuristic outer space thriller as the Cold War between humans on Earth, Mars, several Moons, the Asteroid Belt and planets beyond is heating up. Jim is a terrific hero who is the sun that keeps the story line focused while the support cast starting with Julie on the Scopuli adds a sense of readers feeling we traverse the solar system. Filled with action, Leviathan Wakes is a fabulous science fiction thriller.
Centuries have passed since Lyralia freed itself from the yoke of the Sachakan Empire. However, even with the passage of hundreds of years there remains a wary alliance between the two lands as both have long memories fostering distrust.
Inside the main Kyralia city, a pleasure drug is being illegally sold. This substance depletes the user's energy. The Kyralia leaders fear Sachakan magicians are behind the insidious drug as these mages take the strengths of people to enhance their prowess. If not these magicians, the Kyralia still fears the Empire sensing weakness and will invade. Meanwhile Lorkin of the Empire tries to learn the magic of Kyralia from the rebellious reticent Traitors while Sonea hunts for Cery the rogue who she believes is behind the enervating drug.
The second Traitor Spy fantasy is an enjoyable tale that fans of the Black Magician realm will enjoy if they read The Ambassador's Mission. The entertaining story line continues the previous book's main threads, but lacks any major subplot completion as it mostly sets up the next book. Still, the cast is powerful and fully developed; while the politics and machinations between the two nations brilliantly convoluted. Readers will look forward to the final confrontation.
Chasing the Moon
A. Lee Martinez
Diana is apartment hunting when she believes she has found the ideal place for the amount of money she can afford. However, her landlord forgot to mention her roommate in Apartment 5. Inside the closet resides ancient Vom the Hungering monster ready to be served his next meal, Diana is on the menu in case she forgets to feed the vociferous beast.
She soon meets all types of new bizarre friends and learns of at least two groups exist. First there are the monsters who dine on humans like her roommate and then there are the monsters who dine on galaxies. However, her new lifestyle becomes imperiled when Calvin the Moon monster plans to make earth into a new asteroid belt.
No writer does humorous horror better than A. Lee Martinez consistently does as the author this time satirizes the haunted apartment and apocalypse now themes through a collection of weirdoes. The story line is fast-paced in spite of seemingly being all over the place. In many ways the plot is a coming of age tale as Diana grows into her new role of the monsters' zookeeper and protector. Fans of off the wall urban fantasy will appreciate Diana's new apartment.
The Deadliest Bite
Jaz Parks knows she is in the end game for who owns her soul and body. She hopes to keep the former though the Great Taker salivates over having her; and shares the latter with Brude the demon. Her only way to rid herself of Brude is extracting him from her head, which can only occur in hell where the Great Taker covets her return.
Meanwhile Jaz's lover and teammate Vayl is under attack. Roldan the werewolf sent the reincarnation of one of Vayl's sons to assassinate him. To survive, the pair and the rest of the crew (Raoul, Cole, Bergman, Cassandra, Dave, Jack and robokitty) head to Romania, first stop on the way to hell and hopefully back.
This is a fitting tribute to one of the better urban fantasy writers on the market as Jennifer Rardin passed away in September after finishing her eighth and final Jaz Parks thriller. The story line, like the entire series (see Bite Marks and Bitten In Two) is a fabulous fast-paced tale as the two and half century old vampire and his avhar assassin along with the rest of the gang work the two issues confronting them. Fans of the saga will agree that Ms. Parks pays fitting homage to herself with this strong final entry.
Theories of Flight
In post-nuked St. Petersburg, Samuil Petrovitch learned to survive on the mean streets. Besides his ability to sense when to fight and when to flight, Samuil is also a great mathematician. His math skills saved London's Metrozone from the Long Night (see Equations of Life) though he keeps the sentient computer behind the assault hidden under his control.
Now governments want Samuil as he is too dangerous to be allowed freedom and none want their rivals to control him. The Outzone denizen envy what the Metrozone residents have. As war seems imminent, Samuil theorizes that someone wants him dead and if it means collateral damage to an entire city so be it; the proof is what is happening to London.
The second Petrovitch post-apocalyptic thriller (see Equations of Life) is an exciting fast-paced tale as seemingly many the planetary survivors want Samuil either working for them or dead. Action-packed, fans will relish this thriller, but need to ignore their plausibility beliefs as Petrovitch suffers from a series of disabling even several life threatening batterings but like the Energizer Bunny he takes a licking but keeps on ticking.
A few months ago, music producer Tyler Harrison turned thirty-nine. However, recently he has suffered from frightening visions, which he assumes is a byproduct of all work and no play. . Thus he ignores the hallucinations until he attends a three-day concert at the Lollapalooza in Chicago.
An older person introduces himself to Tyler as Matthew the angel and insists that the lad will die on his fortieth birthday; less than nine months away. Tyler initially thinks he has met a druggy lunatic until Matthew provides him powerful proof otherwise. He goes through the stages of grief leading to rage at God and hostile behavior towards friends and family. Renowned D.J. Ellis becomes Tyler's friend, leading him to the urban wilderness. Finally filled with regrets for his failures and remorse for not being there for loved ones, he turns to Pastor Will to help him atone with people and God, and hopefully find peace with himself.
This insightful character study uses the premise of someone knowing when they will die to look deeply at how that condemned person spends their remaining aptly nine months on earth. Tyler goes through the stages of grief with his early anger targets being the Lord and the surviving flock until he finally begins to accept. Profound, readers who appreciate a powerful emotional tale with little action will appreciate Travis Thrasher's taut tale of Tyler's end of days as he slowly adapts to his last refrain.
The Mistress's Revenge
Free Press (Simon and Schuster)
For five years Sally Islip and Clive Gooding had an affair until he broke it off. Upset, she begins to keep a journal addressed to Clive. To his chagrin she publishes her musings anonymously though all know who the overweight egomaniac male is.
As Clive is frustrated with his ex, he takes another blow to his portly gut when Sally becomes friends to his wife and adult children. Over the top Clive vows revenge. Meanwhile despondent Sally seems even gloomier each day while someone hacks into her email and sends ugly notes to her employers. Though it costs her a living, her dark depression keeps her fueled in her assault on Clive.
This is a very dark relationship drama that makes Fatal Attraction seem tame as obsessive compulsive disorder turns the loving obsession into the loathing obsession. Sally cannot stop herself while Clive has been hooked with a need to avenge what she has done to him. However, the cost to their respective extended families will soon come home to roost. Not for everyone, readers will wonder what the boundaries of revenge are.
I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl
Free Press (Simon and Schuster)
When Kellie was fifteen years old, she discovered the social intimacy of alcohol. Her life for several years afterward revolved around the next drink instead of school as she becomes an alcoholic who often went comatose in bars. At nineteen she gives birth to Tommy. However, her Uncle Mark and Aunt Julia take Tommy to live with him in Massachusetts as her parents insist she cannot take care of herself let alone a newborn. Fourteen moments later Tommy dies from leukemia, but his biological mother is kept in the dark as she struggles to sober up. Instead she is raped and turns to drink for solace. By 1984, Kellie dries out as she drops her drinking buddies. She finds employment and makes new supporting friends. Kellie graduates from college and obtains a position involving art. However, except for fleeting moments in her son's first days of existence and what her family has shared, she missed her child's brief life. Thus, she hopes this memoir will provide her some solace though she knows she can never fully gain that early wonder.
This profound memoir deftly rotates between the past and present as Ms. Groom shares how far into the abyss she fell and how difficult it was to climb out. Readers will empathize with the author as her grief, remorse and hope deeply surface when she muses about Tommy. Pulling no punches about the cost to her soul (and to her family) of her alcoholic years, Ms. Groom writes a heart felt biography as she searches for her Tommy who she regretfully missed when he was alive.
Simon & Schuster
Sacramento reporter Aaron Mikelson calls his friend and former peer at the Las Piernas News Express Irene Kelly with the news that her worst nightmare serial killer Nick Parrish (see Bones) is walking after recovering from a spinal cord trauma. She is upset as it took her loving husband and a shrink to help her heal after her confrontation with Parrish and his original Moth groupie, both locked away in maximum security prisons. Kelly tries to warn her friend forensic anthropologist Ben Sheridan who lost part of a leg to Parrish. Ben and his roommate Ethan Shire arrive with their dogs.
Meanwhile, Kelly becomes the center again thanks to Parrish of a media feeding frenzy while the serial killer's Moths threaten her bodily harm for what she did to their "god" and their increasing belief that his resurrection will be soon. The Moths expect to assist Parrish when he returns to confront Kelly. When the corpse of woman painted with moths all over her body is found in Kelly's car, the reporter knows that even with her ruthless foe still incarcerated, she is back in hell as one of his disciples has begun the war.
This is an engaging thriller though the journalist does not have to do much investigating as the ruthless enemy brings the fight directly to her. Readers know early who Parrish's most devoted and dangerous allies are which detracts from the tension. Still, with insight into the plight of printed newspapers and the stunning number of previously secret psychos like the Moths who have surfaced via the Internet, fans of the series will enjoy round two anticipating the face to face confrontation.
Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels
Mindy Starns Clark
Widow Callie Webber investigates not for profit organizations to determine whether the J.O.S.H.U.A. foundation should grant money to the group. At her church in the Chesapeake Bay area near DC, she also helps battered women.
Callie, after providing a grant to include a vehicle to a veterans group, is excited that she will finally meet her enigmatic boss Tom in person at Reagan National Airport. However, Shayna Greer, who Callie has helped with work related issues, calls her hysterically that her abusive boyfriend Eddie Ray walked out on her. Meanwhile Janine MacDowell tells Callie that her Tom had to change plans and is on a plane flying to New Orleans. Disappointed not to meet her boss and to learn he apparently has a history with his assistant, Callie meets with Shayna at Advancing Attire. Soon afterward, Eddie's corpse is found in the trunk of Shayna's car; the police consider her as the only suspect. Callie investigates the homicide as she believes Shayna did not kill her boyfriend. She soon believes the murder revolves around Eddie who had gotten into something that proved his life was not worth a wooden nickel to his killer.
The Ray murder amateur sleuth is a terrific prime story line while the Tom subplot is deftly handled as he seems to avoid his employee, which frustrates Callie the trooper. Readers will enjoy this entertaining Christian thriller as Callie's faith helps her when confronted with personal loneliness and with peril as she knows "It's a Wonderful World" for those who trust the Lord.
In 1965 Florida, realtor Adam Newman dreams of one thing, a person he once had as his wife Evelyn but no more. He muses about how happier he was when he and Evelyn managed legendary Paradise Dogs roadside hotdog diner. He is successful but knows that is nothing without Evelyn.
Ironically only Adam would want a second chance with one woman while engaged to another. He tries to help his son Addison compete for a coed against his older half brother while also searching for $250,000 in diamonds not belonging to him that he misplaced. However before he assists his offspring, finds the diamonds, delivers a newborn, works a land deal, loses his Evelyn again (though he never actually had her for the second time),and more involving the Russians are coming; he needs a drink.
Paradise Dogs is a fun Florida tale although there is too much frenzied humor that overwhelms at times the thin plot. With a nod to It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, fans who enjoy an out of control nostalgic thriller will enjoy Adam's strange sense of second chances as he recalls his happiest moment was selling dirty dogs but ignores the grease burns.
In the Twin Cities, former cop, affluence Rushmore McKenzie has doubts about helping the ex husband Jason Truhler of his current lover Nina. However, he cannot say no to Nina's eighteen years old daughter Erica so he agrees to see what he can do.
Jason attended the Thunder Bay Blues Festival in Ontario. He met a girl on the way, but woke up the next day in a dumpy motel on Highway 61 with the corpse of his new companion on the floor. He quietly left without notifying the authorities. Truhler insists he has no memory after picking up the female until he awakened to the horror, but someone obviously does as he is being blackmailed with photos. McKenzie begins to unravel a clever scheme, but soon learns his client has not been honest as he finds himself in the crosshairs of nasty individuals like Big and Little Joe, and Backdraft and Bug, as well as the Twin Cities' most influential.
In his latest favor (see The Taking of Libbie, SD), Rushmore McKenzie is at his best as he muses over the outcome of good intentions in a caper that is too close to home. The story line is fast-paced as the hero figures out the motel game, but unprepared for the truth about Truhler. Instead of case closed, McKenzie finds deadly felons with ugly intent and even more lethal powerhouses with uglier intent targeting him. Readers will think twice before venturing on Highway 61.
Robin Jones Gunn
"Now Boarding at Gate 10". Having just graduated high school, Christy Miller is sad as her relationship with Todd ended. She, her parents and her thirteen year old brother travel to Brightwater, Wisconsin to celebrate her grandparents' golden wedding anniversary. There she hooks up with her junior high school buddy (and her first crush) Matthew Kingsley who wants more than just a friendship with Christy.
"In the Event of a Water Landing". Jana's parents went to the cabin near Glacier National Park, Montana a week ago. Now Jana, her older brother Gregg, his friend Tim and her pal fifteen-year-old Sierra Jensen are to join her parents but an airline strike has hampered their plans. After struggling to arrive at their destination, Jana goes boy hunting while Sierra just wants to hang with the guys in a tomboyish way.
These two novellas focus on a few weeks in the teen years of Christy Miller (see A Time to Cherish, Sweet Dreams and A Promise is Forever) and Sierra Jensen (see Without a Doubt; With This Ring; Open Your Heart and Time Will Tell). Both are fun inspirational tales with a Minnesota airport connection that fans of either series will enjoy; especially the Miller crew who will recognize this particular Fourth of July referenced frequently.
Vampire in Atlantis
Eleven millennia ago when Atlantis sunk beneath the sea, Daniel's life figuratively ended with the death of his beloved Serai. Now the vampiric Night Guild mage is mentally wary and can no longer continue his existence after centuries of fighting his own kind and other evils on the side of the Warriors of Poseidon. He plans to die.
However, he is unaware that the leaders lied to him all those thousands of years ago. Instead to save the race, Serai and other chosen maidens were placed in voluntary stasis controlled by the Emperor jewel. The powerful gem was stolen and malevolent beings are deploying it. The jewel's power awakens Serai who encounters her Daniel. Together, they must delay their reunion to recover the Emperor and save the other maidens.
The eighth Warriors of Poseidon romantic fantasy (see Atlantis Betrayed, Atlantis Redeemed and Atlantis Unmasked) is a fabulous entry that focuses as much on recapturing the jewel and freeing the maidens as it does the second chance at love between Daniel and Serai. The fast-paced story line contains a strong support cast and is loaded with action, but the tale belongs to the lead couple as they have thousands of years of separation that almost led to a Romeo and Juliet tragedy yet still somewhat delay their bedding for camping as they do what is best for their people.
Five centuries ago, Nessa the immortal witch held her lover Elias in her arms as he told her he would return to her just before he died. She became a member of the Hunters, whose mission is to control non-humans from attacking mortals. However, she has become wary of fighting and her beloved has not returned to her.
In Idaho Nessa suffers amnesia after a blow to the head during a brawl. Elias has returned as Dominic Ralston the vampire- hunter. He believes he is certifiable as he has spent a lifetime dreaming of the woman he loves but has not met. Now he knows his beloved is in trouble, if she is real, he would willingly die for to keep her safe. However, he must first find the woman who stars in his wet dreams even though he is unsure she exists.
The fifth Hunters romantic urban fantasy (see Hunter's Need and Hunter's Salvation) is a terrific character driven thriller as Nessa and Dominic are psychically linked even before they meet at Excelsior for the first time in five hundred years. The story line is somewhat thin as the evil enemy wants both dead before they accept their intertwined fate; yet series fans will appreciate the well written second chance at love saga.
Though unfair, former KGB agent but now the Ostrov submarine Captain Nikolai Romanoff finds his secretive past coming back to haunt him. He knows he has sunk very far from when he loyally served Russia.
American Julie Severin loathes the Russians as she holds them accountable for the death of her father during the Cold War. She is on board a Russian sub under the Arctic ice pretending to be a reporter but instead spying on her hosts. Nikolai has been assigned to extract information from the American visitor. However, each detests the attraction they have for the other that started the evening before when they first met ashore. As their seemingly polar opposite objectives merge, they fall in love while facing deadly danger together in an isolated scenario.
The first Men In Uniform romantic suspense is a taut thriller in which the Red Heat generated by the lead couple melts the polar ice faster than global warming. The freshness in this exhilarating tale are the location and the heroic Russian who is a wonderful unique protagonist especially in a romance. Readers will relish this tense story as love puts an exclamation point end to the remnants of the Cold War.
In a high speed chase Sheriff Nash Jones pursues Janet Begay. However his SUV and her motorcycle fall through a suddenly humongous sinkhole filled with magic and ghosts. With no storms nearby that she can tap into and with Nash apparently unconscious, she tries to mentally call out to her lover Mick Burns the dragon Firewalker and her Crossroads Hotel manager Cassandra the Wiccan for rescue.
Mick frees the trapped pair. Ted Wingate the new Hopi County safety inspector insists the historical hotel is unsafe. Hybrid Apache-hell goddess Gabrielle covets Janet's Stormwalker power so she starts with an assault of the hotel. At the same time a Shadow Walker seeks her and Mick who apparently has become enthralled as a slave to an evil witch. Janet knows all the tsuris she and her friends suddenly face is caused by the Shadow Walker.
This is a great Stormwalker romantic urban fantasy though the emphasis is dramatically on the life and death struggles. Fast-paced yet very twisty, the story line bewitches the audience even more than the Shadow Walker does Mick. Set aside time as Allyson James provides sub-genre fans with one of the best entries of the year.
Yasmine Galenorn, Allyson James, Jeanne C. Stein, Ilona Andrews
"Magic Dreams" by Ilona Andrews. When evil threatens her unrequited love Jim the alpha of the Felidae cat clan, reticent nearsighted tigress Dali confronts the malevolence and her heart.
"Ice Shards" by Yasmine Galenorn. In the Otherworlds, sprite Iris accompanied by her friends (Camille, Smoky and Rozurial) travels to the Northlands to end a curse that prevents her from being with her true love.
"Double Hexed" by Allyson James. A lethal curse traps Janet the Stormwalker and her boyfriend Mick the dragon inside an Arizona hotel.
"Blood Debt" by Jeanne C. Stein. The witches ask Anna the vampire to rectify a wrong by killing a dangerous witch, but she fails to consider second and third order affects that may prove deadlier than the crone.
Placed in the fantasy realm of each of the contributing authors, sub-genre fans especially of these fantasists will appreciate this strong collection.
Books Can Be Deceiving
After catching her fiance with his graduate student, Lindsey Norris ends the engagement and moves to Briar Creek to become the director of the town library. The relocation also has the benefit of her being closer to her graduate school roommate Beth Stanley who heads the children's section of the library. Beth has been dating famous children book writer and illustrator Rick Eckman for five years. When she has a chance to show her book she authored to a visiting editor, Rick says she is not good enough so should avoid embarrassing herself.
His painful comments cause Beth to break up with Rick. She shows her work to the editor who says she has talent but also says her idea has been used before. After Beth leaves, the editor informs Lindsey that her friend plagiarized the book from Rick. Knowing that is not true, Lindsey and Beth travel to Gull Island to confront Rick. Beth enters his home alone to make it clear to Rick he will pay. Instead she screams. Rick is dead from a knife wound to his chest. Chief Daniels believes Beth killed him in a fit of rage. Lindsey knows otherwise and plans to prove her friend's innocence; starting with learning why Rick pretended to be a recluse with a different name.
This charming cozy shows that a good mystery does not need blood and gore (Rick's is off page) to keep reader's attention. In many ways this is a cerebral whodunit as the fabulous lead librarian thinks before she acts. Fans will want to know who the perpetrator is and whether the homicide's motive involves writing. As Jenn McKinlay has done with her Cupcake Bakery mysteries, her first Library Lover's Mystery is a tasty read.
Murder on Sisters' Row
In Manhattan Mrs. Walker asks affluent midwife Sarah Brandt to help a pregnant woman about to give birth. Sarah rushes over to assist frightened Amy Cunningham give birth to a boy. Afterward the still scared new mom asks Sarah to help her leave the brothel as she is fearful of her madam, Rowena Walker.
Sarah turns to Mrs. Vivian Van Orner of the charity organization Rahab's Daughters that helps the mother and her newborn; as she and her group assist fallen women. However, soon after Rahab's Daughters' involvement in the Cunningham mother and baby assistance, someone murders Van Orner. Sarah's lover NYPD Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy investigates as does Brandt. They soon move from the brothel to the charity as inconvenient truths begin to arise.
This is an engaging Gaslight Mystery (see Murder on Waverly Place and Murder on Lexington Avenue) that transports armchair travelers to late nineteenth century Manhattan. The story line initially focuses on the Cunningham duo, but accelerates into a fast-paced investigation once Van Orner's body is found. As is the case with this terrific historical, the cast and the New York setting make for a wonderful read.
Sentenced to Death
Stoneham, New Hampshire celebrates the Founder's Day weekend. Happy Domestic owner Deborah Black provides the welcoming speech. However, as she talks a small plane accidentally crashes in the gazebo where Deborah is giving her presentation. Deborah is killed.
The victim's husband David immediately sells the store and refuses to see his toddler Davey. Grieving for the death of her friend, Tricia Miles, owner of the Haven't Got a Clue mystery bookstore, is stunned by the behavior of David and her mother Elizabeth Crane. Additionally someone is trashing the Happy Domestic. So unable to remain on the sidelines, Tricia investigates.
Sentenced to Death is an entertaining regional amateur sleuth (see Chapter and Hearse) as Deborah's death seems like a horrific accident as no motive appears for anything otherwise. In fact the heroine investigates the odd reactive behavior of her late friend's family rather than a death. With Angelica the sib and romantic hints besides Russ the stalking reporter, sub-genre fans will enjoy this fine New Hampshire mystery.
The Promise of Love
Kate Douglas, Jamie Denton, Erin McCarthy, Kathy Love, Sylvia Day, Lori Foster
"Shelter From the Storm" by Lori Foster. Roy and his parents rescue abused child Sabrina; years later she no longer wants Roy as a big brother.
"Take Me Home" by Erin McCarthy. Pregnant Sara returns to her BFF Travis for comfort.
"Razor's Edge" by Sylvia Day. Deputy marshal Jack takes care of his late best friend's widow Rachel and her eight year old son though she wants intimacy with him and he cannot stop the blood flow to his lower head.
"Midnight Rendezvous" by Jamie Denton. Leaving New York for New Orleans playwright Burnett suffers from writer's block until his landlady Maya takes a naked midnight swim.
The "Dime Store Cowboy" by Kate Douglas. New York editor Mark quits his position to accept a job on a Colorado dude ranch where he meets Betsy Mae.
"Life in the Past Lane" by Kathy Love. His editor sends Rocco to cover his high school reunion in Beals Point, a town he vowed to never go back to, but soon re-meets Franny.
Although there is little room for deep character development, the authors do a marvelous job of contributing six fun short novellas.
Elderberry Bay, known as Threadville, is a small Pennsylvania town renowned for its textile arts boutiques. Kaylee found the place and her three moms followed with Batty About Quilts, Tell A Yarn, and Buttons and Bows. Willow Vanderling thought the locale was perfect for her new embroidery store In Stitches.
Although the townsfolk appreciate the revenue generated by the themed stores and considers the owners as part of the community, Zoning Commissioner Mike Krawbach detests the shops; at least apparently Willow's. He rejects Willow's request to renovate the Blueberry Cottage behind her store. She hoped to use the cottage as a means to earn extra money while he wants to replace it with an ATV track and public restrooms. When someone deliberately opens her gate and lets her dogs out, Willow concludes Mike did it as part of his harassment campaign to make her leave. She angrily shouts "I'll kill him". Soon afterward, Mike is found dead on her property. Already the sheriff's prime suspect, evidence keeps popping up to further hang Willow. Concerned, Willow accompanied by Kaylee and the three other storeowners, begins an investigation that soon finds a myriad of people rejoicing that Mike is dead.
This is a charming cozy starring a likable lead protagonists supported by her storekeeping "sisters" and a vile villain who uses blackmail to get others to perform illegal acts for him. Kaylee and Willow are friends who have each other's back while the three Moms allow her inside their close knit circle. Although the theme of an amateur sleuth investigating a crime in which she is the prime suspect is not new, sub-genre fans will enjoy this entertaining Threadville mystery.
In the middle of the twenty-first century, the first power grid failed in Eastern Europe; soon others followed as the east coast of America went dark while the wave continued to cross the broken country. Some claimed the End of Days Rapture had begun; while others insisted nuclear meltdowns and WMDs as the causes.
Her late dad predicted the end of days as the demise of technology followed by the Change, but Jenna Barclay thought her father was a survivalist lunatic. In Oregon the grid still works, but for how much longer? Former Marine John Mason owes a life debt to Jenna's late father and pays the first installment by kidnapping his deceased guru's daughter to take her to safety in the remote wild just before the magical change begins. Jenna thinks her abductor is as crazy as her dad was until mutant dogs attack them followed by meeting three adults and two children fleeing violent inhuman predators. Neither Jenna nor John is prepared for the Change that comes to them.
The first Dark Age Dawning thriller starts off as a science fiction collapse of civilization but deftly switches into a post-apocalyptic survivor fantasy reminiscent of Sterling E. Lanier's Hiero's Journey. The story line is fast-paced from the moment John takes Jenna to the cabin her father prepared for her. Aptly titled as Nightfall has fallen putting out the lights of civilization though pockets of packs change yet retain the essence of what is human in the new lethal world.
How to Moon a Cat
Rebecca M. Hale
Since her Uncle Oscar passed away, his niece Rebecca took over his antique store The Green Vase and his apartment in San Francisco. Very few people shop at the Green Vase so the niece depends on Rupert the cat finding hidden packs of money that Oscar hid all over his abode. Rupert's latest find is not money but a toy bear holding a sign saying Nevada City. That is where Tour of California starts and hopefully a clue to a hidden Oscar treasure.
Hoping to avoid Frank Lapis who pressured her and almost killed her trying to ger uncle's secrets; Rebecca, her two cats (Rupert and Isabella) and Monty the nosy neighbor head to Nevada City where she finds another bear with a sign that says Sutter Fort. They head there next while meeting two men in disguise who follow the niece to see what treasure she finds. One of the villains plans to steal the treasure and kill her; the other has a different shocker for Oscar's niece.
This exciting road trip goes from danger to humor and back as the adorable cats are brilliant tacticians who amusingly but cleverly maneuver the niece somewhat for treats but often to keep her safe. Fast-paced, cozy readers who enjoy something different will relish the charming Cats and Curios Mysteries (see Nine Lives Last Forever and How to Wash a Cat) as Oscar's niece continues her dangerous adventures into the weird whimsical world of her late Uncle.
A Pug's Tale
Painting restorer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Hope McNeill loves her work and Max the pug who technically belongs to Ben the Lawyers without Borders boyfriend currently in Africa. She is euphoric when MOMA announces a Pug Night gala in honor of a substantial donation from philanthropist Daphne Markham, a pug lover especially her Madeline. Hope escorts Max to the shindig
The event turns into a canine free for all as the unleashed pugs attack the food; but Max also goes after Madeline and in the process soaks Daphne in the Temple of Dendur Hall. As MOMA's host Gil Turner rages and Daphne dries off, Hope takes Max to her cubicle in the Conservation Studio. She realizes shock number two when Max "shows" her that a valuable Henri Fantin Latour painting was inappropriately taken to the area. Hope reports to her superior Elliot Death what she found and soon realizes the painting was a fake; he decides not to bring in NYPD at this time. However, she also knows she is the prime suspect so with Max at her side, Hope investigates only to obtain allies as a professional sleuth, a shih tzu owner and Daphne join her inquiry.
This is a fun lighthearted amateur sleuth for canine caper fans as Max's ability to delineate a fake from a real painting is catchy. The entertaining story line is leisurely paced as pugs need pit stops. Still dog lovers will especially enjoy the return to Pug Hill as Hope and her significant other Max the dog accompanied by other strays investigate the stolen painting.
The Darling Dahlias and the Naked Ladies
Susan Wittig Albert
In 1930, the country remains in a deep depression that hammers even small towns like Darling, Alabama; destitution is around every corner. One of the women who lost everything to the stock market collapse is the mother of Lizzy, the president of the Darling Dahlias club. Lizzy's biggest problem is to keep mom from moving into her house.
This becomes a secondary concern when Miss Nona Jean Jamison and her friend Miss Lake come to town from Chicago to take care of her invalid aunt Miss Hamer. The Darling Dahlias' treasurer Verna Tidewell recognizes Miss Jamison as Lorelei La Mate who performed nearly naked in the burlesque show the Ziegfeld Frolic. Her companion Miss Lake stars in her own show and is never seen without a veil covering her face. Mr. Gold arrives in Darling looking for the two women. Miss Jamison learns of the male outsider but denies she is the one he seeks to Lizzy. Mademoiselle President decides to learn who the two Chicago females are really up to and why they came to her sweet home Alabama when each is a city gal. By doing so this Darling Dahlia finds she is also trying to prevent a hired gun from killing the visitors.
This Depression Era regional thriller is a fun amusing satirical tale as the Chicago culture of gangsters and strippers invade a small town. As always in any Susan Wittig Albert's series including this one (see The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree), the reader feels transplanted in time and place as the meticulous interwoven tidbits bring to life late 1930. Dizzy Lizzy and her eccentric Darlings want to insure that the Day Chicago Dies in not in Sweet Home Alabama
The Square Root of Murder
At Henley College in Massachusetts, Professor Sophie Knowles is a student favorite as she makes math easy to understand. She also, under a pseudonym, publishes puzzles and brain teasers in various publications. In her microscopic spare time, she does craftwork in the form of beading at her friend Ariana's store. The one description she never thought would apply to her is amateur sleuth, but that is what happens when the college's most unpopular professor, who is disliked by students and teachers alike, is murdered.
The police are looking at Sophie's assistant Rachel as their prime suspect. Keith Appleton was giving Rachel a hard time with her thesis and she was heard saying terrible things about him. The cops find a report on yellow paper that Rachel wrote all marked in red saying sarcastic things about her research. Sophie believes Rachel is innocent so she sets out to prove her assertion. However, she soon realizes that Rachel and three other students lied about what they knew about the crime scene. Sophie keeps digging, but almost digs her own grave.
Although an amateur sleuth placing herself in peril being a sub-genre recurring scenario, and a puzzle solver lead has been done by Parnell Hall (see The Puzzle Lady series); Ada Madison provides a fresh entertaining whodunit due to the college setting and the fortyish mathematician. Sophie is an intelligent person who works her investigation using the same skills she applies to math problems and puzzle making. The heroine lives a full life with her significant other, has good friends and a job she loves; and though her days are jammed, she makes time to search for the killer in this enjoyable new academic mystery series.
To Sketch a Thief
When she inherited her current house from her late Uncle Mac, Rory McCain found Federal Marshal Ezekiel "Zeke" Drummond living there; which is odd because in 1878 he was murdered in Huntington, New York. A Suffolk County police sketch artist and private investigator, Rory knows first hand that ghosts do not make good roommates or business partners. Still her agreement with the ghostly lawman is she solves his cold case murder and he assists her on her caseload. Rory has doubts, but admits to herself (since his ego is already in the exosphere) that Zeke was instrumental in solving the double murder case (see Sketch Me If You Can).
Rory finds a canine in her yard. She checks his tag and takes Hobo back to his owner only to find the woman dead with a knife in her chest. While waiting for the cops to arrive, Rory learns the victim is Brenda Hartley and her dog's vet is Stanley Holbrook and she uses Boomer's Groomers. Brenda's friend Marti Sugarman arrives and asks Rory where Tootsie the Maltese is. Detective Cirello takes over the crime scene and he is nasty and sarcastic towards the two women. As Cirello works the homicide; Rory, Zeke and Hobo work what appears to be a dognapping caper.
The second Portrait of a Crime investigative tale is an enjoyable thriller as the ghost and the artist argue, fuss and fight in a friendly spirited way while working the case. Their pairing along with Hobo make for a fun whodunit though the dog-napping as the motive for the homicide is initially difficult to accept. Still fans will enjoy the present day case and the subplot into what happened to Zeke in 1878.
Kiss of Snow
Sienna Lauren and her family escaped from PsyNet several years ago. They asked and received refuge amongst the SnowDancer wolf pack. Since joining the pack, X-Psy Sienna and alpha wolf Hawke have been at war with one another. Both respectively know in their gut, their gender battle has become a means to conceal their attraction to one another. Hawke's mate died when he was a child so he fears taking the next step in the relationship with Sienna. She refuses to step out and risk her heart too as she expects her cold fire skill that she struggles to control will kill her before she turns twenty-five.
Meanwhile the Psy Council deploys plans to destroy the SnowDancer and DarkRiver packs. That is the opening gamut to destroy the opposition to the Council. Although this will speed up her death, Sienna vows to use her power to save her clan while Hawke pledges to keep his beloved safe though he is unsure how to stop her from deploying the rare cold fire.
Psy/Changeling fans will love this great entry that contrasts the long anticipated heated relationship against the backdrop of a heated war. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action on the battle front and romantic fronts (there are actually two loving relationships in Kiss of Snow). Nalini Singh provides what may be the romantic fantasy of the year.
Fallen Angel Lara Rho is a nephilim who seeks out to help other Children of Air. Her efforts as a tyro Seeker lead to Justin Miller a sailor who she knows is not human yet not exactly nephilim.
When he is injured saving her from an assault, she takes him back to her school for nephilim. Her colleagues fear the unknown Jason and his power so they incarcerate him to Lara's chagrin. She helps him escape and he begins to recover his memory he lost seven years when he was injured during a shipwreck. Jason realizes he is a lestyn selkie. Lara vows to return him to the Children of the Sea while her Children of Air mentors and the Children of Fire seek them out.
The fifth Children of the Sea romantic fantasy (see Immortal Sea) is a wonderful tale of forbidden love. The Air female and the Sea male are a delightful pairing of soul mates whose taboo love has them doing rash dangerous things that make them endearing to the reader. Besides a strong thriller, Forgotten Sea moves forward the overarching theme as Virginia Kantra provides an intense tale of air and sea bonding in love.
In the middle of a freezing winter U.S. Secret Service agent Maria "Goose" di Guzman is sent to Mishkawa Island to investigate Park Ranger Rush Guthrie. Her assignment is to uncover Rush's ties to a group allegedly smuggling counterfeit money using the island as a key locale.
In fact, he is an ex SEAL trying to emotionally heal from what he saw and did. Two years on the remote island his family calls home helped, but not as much as when he first meets Goose when she arrives; his gut and another body part inform him immediately he wants her. Goose feels the same way but refuses to come out from behind her shell of indifference. Just like she cracked his veneer, he begins to crumble hers. As they begin to fall in love, someone is smuggling counterfeit money on the island; the suspects share Rush's DNA so he understands her insistence to show her the Money, Honey.
This is an exciting amusing romantic police procedural starring two wary individuals who find love stronger than their respective guards around their heart. The mystery is somewhat in the background to the changing relationship between the lead couple; yet the fast-paced plot also reminds readers that the Secret Service does more than protect the First Family. Susan Sey scribes an outstanding second story.
Nearly a Lady
Emotionally suffering from his combat time, ex soldier Lord Gideon Haverston learns that for years his stepmother Rose cheated his brother's ward Winnefred "Freddie" Blythe out of her allowance set aside by their late fathers. The Marquess sends his sibling to deliver money directly to Freddie who upon arrival Gideon finds living in poverty in Enscrum, Scotland with her governess Lilly Ilestone; that is after he recovers from their assault.
Freddie loathes Gideon who reminds her of the hypocrisy of the Ton while Lilly demands he host the pair of them for a season in London. Out of his element as he finds liberating smugglers a lot easier to do he agrees reluctantly. Freddie displays even less enthusiasm for the idea but acquiesces out of her love for Lilly. However, as Gideon and Freddie fall in love, neither realizes who Lilly's secret love is.
This amusing gender war regency is an intelligent historical starring two battling protagonists and a charming support cast. The story line is fast-paced as the confident heroine no longer needs a male protector while the veteran needs a woman to help him overcome his battle fatigue demons. Readers will appreciate this warm historical.
Simple Choices: Book 3 of the Harmony Series
Barbour Publishing Inc.
P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville OH, 44683
In this final book of The Harmony Series, Gracie Temple's hopes and dreams are coming true as she plans her wedding to Sam Goodrich. But the path to matrimony is strewn with rocks and road blocks.
Gracie has spent six weeks in Wichita playing chaperone to her young friend, Hannah Mueller, while she attends an art workshop. Hannah is the daughter of Harmony's Mennonite pastor. The first sign of trouble comes when Hannah doesn't want to return home. She likes the big city, the distinctly non-Mennonite way of life and dress, the freedom to wear makeup and bling. Gracie has to literally force Hannah to return home to Harmony. She's barely had a chance to unpack her car when an angry Pastor Mueller pounds on her door making accusations. Hannah has disappeared and he blames Gracie. The sheriff believes Hannah is a runaway, but several girls in the region have disappeared and Gracie feels the crimes are connected.
Complicating Gracie's concern about Hannah's disappearance is the arrival of her parents and Grandpa Joe. Her parents left Harmony decades ago amidst troubling circumstances, and Grandpa Joe has Alzheimer's. Gracie's father treats Sam coldly, and Grandpa Joe warns Gracie about an "evil" he can't explain. Is the evil real or imaginary? Will Gracie's Dad forbid her to marry Sam? And will Hannah turn up alive, or dead?
Ms. Mehl provides the usual delicious twists and turns of plot to keep her readers engaged. The familiar characters return from earlier books in the series, and we meet new characters who are equally fascinating. The writer ties all the plot lines and relationships together nicely before book's climax and does it so effectively that I hated to see this series end. The people of Harmony seem like dear friends to me, as real as the friends I have in real life. This series is endearing, exceptional, well written, and highly recommended.
Coffee Stain Critters, You Can't Un-ring the Bell
Karla Lepard, author
Vuthy Kuon & Manuel Gomez, illustrators
Coffee Stain Critters Publishing
9780977603806 $16.95 Karlagran2@yahoo.com
"Coffee Stain Critters" is a delightful creative story about some transformed doodles, starting from coffee spills on napkins, that become the characters of a very special fable. A beagle named Buster and several friends decide to run a race to the top of the mountain where the winner gets to ring the bell. Buster charges ahead to win the race, not stopping to help when a Missy, a fellow coffee critter, falls over a slow snake and twists her foot. Arlo stays to help Missy and sends Lonesome Blues and the others on their way. Missy is surprised that Arlo stays to help her because she is not a rich or fancy Coffee Critter, but just a nobody from the other side of the mountain. Arlo tells her, "It's not about what you wear or eat,/ Not fancy collars nor the choicest meat./ A friend won't care if he's ahead or behind/ It's about helping each other to the finish line." In the end, even though Buster wins and gets to ring the bell, he learns a valuable lesson: "When hurtful things are said and done, you can't take them back because what's done is done." Children will love the story and the almost velvety textured pictures of "Coffee Stain Critter." "Coffee Stain Critters" is based on the adorable doodlings of Ruth Lepard, an artist who found creatures in the coffee stains on her napkins when she was elderly and receiving care. Because the author and several members of her immediate family, plus a student, have battled with cancer, a portion of the proceeds for "Coffee Stain Critters" will be given to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.
Modern School for Mallet-Keyboard Instruments
Jim Sewrey, Ben Hans, and Tom Schneller
7777 W. Bluemound Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53213
9780793519385 $14.99 www.halleonard.com
"Modern School for Mallet-Keyboard Instruments: Includes Technical and Melodic Studies, Selected Excerpts from Standard Orchestral Repertoire, and Solos for Marimba, and Xylophone, Vibraphone, Bells and Chimes" is a comprehensive manual for intermediate students of marimba, xylophone, vibraphone, bells and chimes. It is divided into 4 main sections of skill development and reading, musical line and phrasing, four-mallet studies, and excerpts, etudes, melodic studies and solos, all of which can be taught separately or simultaneously. The conception of the authors, all of whom are teachers, is to educate mallet performers at the high school and college or adult learner level to become more musically literate as well as technically proficient in mallet keyboard performance. A planned growth and development grid helps students track and record their practice, mastery, and growth. The music excerpts included are excellent, containing standard classical and modern mallet repertoire, including a number of classic Morris Goldenberg etudes. Material is presented on scalular work, including all scales and excerpts from famous examples, as well as reading, single stroke roll development and other performance techniques. "Modern School for Mallet-Keyboard Instruments" is sure to become the standard for mallet educational manuals and repertoire samplings.
A Feast for All Seasons
Andrew George Jr. and Robert Gairns
Arsenal Pulp Press
c/o Consortium Perseus Distribution
#101-211 East Georgia Street
Vancouver, BC Canada V6A 1V6
9781551523682 $21.95 www.arsenalpulp.com
"A Feast For All Seasons: Traditional Native Peoples' Cuisine" is a collection of 120 Native American recipes from traditional aboriginal cuisine of the Wet'suwet'en Nation in Canada. Featuring entrees from foods of waters, earth, land, and sky, "A Feast for All Seasons" emphasizes the enduring traditions of respect for the bounty of nature and the environment, plus a reverence for the spiritual sustenance that healthy foods, respectfully even prayerfully harvested, can provide. This is a second release of an earlier edition first published in 1997, with more stories, background, and delicious recipes. Andrew George Jr. was recently head chef at the Four Host First nations pavilion at the 2010 Winter Olympics, the first games in which Indigenous peoples participated as official host partners.
"A Feast For All Seasons" includes background information on the Wet'suwet'en, their feasting traditions, and favored foods including wild salmon, bannock, and wild rice, or Man-o-min, plus menus for the four seasons (organized by season), and specific recipes for ingredients from the waters, earth, land and skies. A suggested menu for a sinter feast includes wild duck and winter vegetable soup, Aboriginal mixed grill, boiled cabbage and root vegetables, wild rice and mushrooms, fresh baked yeast rolls and fresh squeezed huckleberries. Recipes for all but the last two menu items are included in the book. There many creative recipes for traditional foods, including such delicacies as wild flower salad, clam fritters, haba-sta (fry bread), Venison Consomme, gourmet moose roast, Taas guz (cold huckleberry soup), and baked sweet potato with roasted hazelnuts. The aspiring chef desiring to explore the bounties of genuine North American Aboriginal cuisine will find many treasures in "A Feast For All Seasons," which features food for the edification of the soul and mind as well as for the physical appetite and the strength and health of the body.
Legends of American Indian Resistance
Edward J. Rielly
c/o ABC-CLIO collections
130 Cremona Drive, Santa Barbara, CA
9780313352096 $85.00 www.abc-clio.com
"Legends of American Indian Resistance" is an ambitious scholarly work that profiles 12 individual Native Americans who helped spearhead resistance to European takeover of lands formerly inhabited by American Indians. A Timeline of Events in the History of Native American- U.S. Relations covers history of American Indian resistance from 1585 - 2004. Presenting a revealing and compelling overview of Western efforts to dominate/displace Native Americans and take possession of there treasured lands and resources, "Legends of American Indian Resistance" investigates many questionable and racist practices and assumptions influencing major government policy over hundreds of years into the present era. Representative of this history, special chapters are presented focusing on Philip, Pontiac, Tecumseh, Black Hawk, Osceola, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Chief Joseph, Geronimo, Dennis James Banks, Russell Charles Means, and Mary Brave Bird. Background information on each figure is scrupulously gathered and summarized along with accountings of famous events and trends featuring the hero/heroine. In addition, a number of brief, gray highlighted sidebar presentations of biographical sketches of other American Indians famed for resistance activities are presented. These last include Wilma Mankiller, Lozen, Smoholla, Red Cloud, Buffalo Calf Road Woman, and more. period black and white photos are presented of different figures when available. In addition, there are notes and recommended reading at the end of each chapter, plus an extensive bibliography listing both in print and non -print resources. "Legends of American Indian Resistance" is an excellent documented resource for Native American Studies and Americans who desire to become more completely informed about their history.
Potty Training Little Ones
20266 Vista Court, Cupertino, CA 95014
9780981494425 $14.99 www.gallopingminds.com
"Potty Training Little Ones" is an equal opportunity, comprehensive potty training manual for little children and their parents. Complete with color illustrations, black and white illustrations for the child to color, and potty training success charts, "Potty Training Little Ones" is user-friendly to its intended audience. An encouraging, positive attitude is emphasized, plus there is a list of helpful signs that show when a child is ready to be potty trained. The child's active involvement in promoted and encouraged at every step of the potty training process, from picking out the potty to calling Mommy when done using the potty and washing hands afterwards. The rewards chart for potty training successes is studded with blank stars that the child is allowed to color after successful toileting. "Potty Training Little Ones" is a helpful tool to parents and toddlers facing this important step of transition from infancy to early childhood.
c/o International Publishers Marketing
P.O. Box 605, Herndon, VA 20172
9781859640494 $26.95 www.amazon.com
"Mezze: Delicious Middle Eastern, Turkish and Greek Recipes" is a fabulous cook's collection of superbly presented culinary recipes for beloved Middle Eastern delicacies with Western (metric and traditional) measurements quoted for each recipe. In addition to delicious recipes and beautiful color photo illustrations of the food, there are wonderful stories, personal anecdotes, and memories of the experiences of the author tasting the foods, as well as inspiring quotations of rapturous musings about epicurean delights by famous Middle Eastern writers and wise men. "Mezze" is divided into 12 main chapters on nibbles, dips & sauces, stuffed pastries and leaves, fish, eggs, meat, chicken & poultry, vegetables, salads, rice and pulses, breads, drinks, and a glossary plus an introductory note about quantities and cooking times. "Mezze" is a timeless cookbook in many senses. Its recipes transcend years, cultures, continents, and histories; but also in order to fully experience the many styles of Middle Eastern cooking represented by the many recipes, the cook must approach time and cooking and preparation times in a somewhat flexible and different way. The author states early in the first chapter, "The one aspect common to all Middle Eastern recipes is their vagueness (p. 11)." This leads to new explorations by the creative and inventive cook. Incredible taste treats await the adventurous chef, from Stuffed Vine Leaves (hot), Greek Spinach and Cheese Pies, to Meatballs with Pine Nuts and Tomatoes, to Potato and Tomato Egg Pie, or Yogurt Cheese in Oil, or Broad Bean Patties (described as almost the national dish of Egypt), and of course, Rice with Lentils, Chick Peas with Spinach, Olive and Cheese Bread, and Chicken with Prunes, Honey, and Almonds. There is even a recipe for Grilled Quail, Stuffed Aubergines, Cucumber and Yogurt Salad, and Turkish Coffee. Recipes are presented in paragraph format, with ingredients and measurements listed first. A helpful Glossary of spices and staples makes many exotic ingredients clearer and more accessible. "Mezze" is a salute to the cuisines of the major Middle Eastern cultures, Turkish, Greek, Arabic, Egyptian, and more, paying homage to the author's love of foods she enjoyed while growing up in the Middle East as the child of a diplomat. "Mezze" is thus both a tribute and a legacy of sharing of the inviting cuisines of many Middle Eastern countries and cultures.
Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart, authors
Rick McKee, photographer
P.O. Box 667, Layton, Utah 84041
9781423621768 $21.99 www.gibbs-smith.com
"Southern Biscuits" is a scrumptious collection of authentic, updated recipes for that greatest of all highly prized delicacy, the southern biscuit. Who knew there were so many wonderful ways to eat heavenly biscuits? There are recipes for easy biscuits, traditional biscuits, embellished biscuits, biscuit relatives (including the delectable blue cornmeal biscuits), tomorrow's biscuits, gilding the lily (special biscuit accompaniments such as lemon curd, hot pepper jelly, or fig jam filling), and desserts. All recipes list ingredients first, then follow with carefully written instructions. Sidebars include special biscuit related stories or lore, and beautiful color photographs of biscuits abound. Biscuits really are worth taking some time to perfect, and "Southern Biscuits" will help any cook, regardless of geographical origin, to attain perfection in biscuit creation. Warning: no observable diet biscuit recipes were detected!
Sewing Home Decor, the Basics & Beyond
Landauer Publishing, LLC
3100 101st St., Suite A, Urbandale, IA 50322
9780982558621 $27.95 www.landauercorp.com
"Sewing Home Decor" is a complete instruction manual in the Basics & Beyond series that teaches home sewers techniques such as quilting, trims, hemmiong, closures, and construction and stitching to help create an assortment of bright, creative home decorating touches, including curtains, cushion covers, seat covers, table coverings, bed and duvet covers and more. Each project lists techniques, materials, cutting instructions, and general instructions in a step by step format. Color photographs illustrate the finished product and details along the way. There are many ways to complete a home decorating theme, and "Sewing Home Decor" is full of vivid, imaginative suggestions for fabrics and projects and detailed approaches and techniques. Even the novice sewer will be able to follow these easy instructions and explanations. Projects such as a breakfast cart slipcover, vintage apron, and reversible patchwork place mats and napkins are presented. For convenience, there are yardage and cutting charts for each project listed in the back by project, and there is also a list of additional resources. "Sewing Home Decor" is an excellent resource for the home sewer and decorator who wishes to achieve a fabulous look for a budget finish.
Christina Ferrare's Big Bowl of Love
c/o Sterling Publishing Co.
387 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016
9781402786440 $30.00 www.sterlingpublishing.com
"Christina Ferrare's Big Bowl of Love: Delight Family and Friends with More than 150 Simple, Fabulous Recipes" is a fabulous gourmet collection of beloved recipes featuring simple, fresh, healthy ingredients and fabulous food results. As seen on Oprah Winfrey Network, Christina Ferrare is famed for always choosing to "make every meal a celebration of family, friends, and food!" You cannot read these recipes without indulging in very specific "I'm about to be spoiled within an inch of my life!" fantasies. Recipes are divided into sections on appetizers, salads, soups, pasta and risotto, chicken, beef and lamb, fish, vegetables, desserts, dressings, sauces and salsas, and pantry and staple items. Beautiful color photographs of the recipes and the cook fill the pages. How about trying Grilled Polenta Cakes, from the appetizer section, or Chicken Tostada Salad from the salad chapter? Then there is Orrecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sweet Italian Sausage, or Osso Buco, or even Rack of Lamb. One that appeals to this reader is Escarole with Olive Oil, Garlic, and Sweet Raisins. and Spaghetti Squash with Meatballs, not to mention Warm Pear Streusel Pie with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. If you love food, or cooking, or know someone who does, purchase "Christina Ferrare's Big Bowl of Love" for them. You'll be happy, even ecstatic, with the results.
What Is the Role of Teens In Your Church?
African American Images
9781934155493, $15.95, www.africanamericanimages.com
A teenager needs to be mentally stimulated, they cannot be simply talked down to. "What is the Role of Teens In Your Church?" is a guide for church leaders in understanding why teenagers are so quick to leave the faith, especially after they leave high school. Stating that churches need to reach out to teens to retain them and help them maintain their faith into adulthood, "What is the Role of Teens in Your Church?" is a must read for any church reader who wants to restore the people in the ages between youth and middle age, highly recommended.
Poems of Deliverance
419 Park Ave., South, New York, NY 10016
9780533161126, $7.95, www.vantagepress.com
Faith drives people very clearly towards their chosen goals. "Poems of Deliverance" is a collection of faith-charged poetry from Kimberly Lewis as she offers her own perspectives on life divinely inspired to reach out to all of us. "Poems of Deliverance" is a choice pick for any Christian poetry lover. "A Father's Love": A father's love is sweet and warm/It protects from all hurt and harm.//He models his love after Christ/Passing it on his family's life.//A father's love teaches right from wrong/And his words of wisdom guide us along.//The love he has, he has it to spare/Where father is; love is there.//During those dark nights when you can't sleep/A father's love can give you peace.//So love your father and love him today/And let us all allow love to come and stay.
The Story of Moses
Jennifer Talbot Ross
5966 Feather Wind Way, Fort Worth, TX 76135
9781432764920, $16.95, www.outskirtspress.com
Too often dogs face a loveless life and a death where no one cares. "The Story of Moses" is a telling of how one dog came into the lives of people and changed the lives of both his new family and himself for the better. But Moses is a dog who faces a blight that many humans have learned to fear as well - cancer. A story of compassion and triumph that pet lovers will adore, "The Story of Moses" is a choice pick.
A Spectrum of Poems
419 Park Ave., South, New York, NY 10016
9780533163236, $8.95, www.vantagepress.com
As you enter twilight, you have gained many perspectives and ideas about the world. "A Spectrum of Poems" is a collection of poems on many things from Rudolph Bainbridge as he offers his own brand of thought and life, reflecting on what has been lost over the course of his lifetime, for him and for the world. "The Mystery of Music and Poetry": When twilight slips across the West,/And stars awake from their rest;/Far beyond the cosmic glow/Mysterious harmony does flow/In the music of the Spheres./There the God Apollo shares/His abode with Sweet Euterpe,/The ancient Muse of lyric poetry./Neither would deign refuse/To inspire those who choose/Composing music or even verse,/The arts that crown the universe./Composers all like those in History/Have indeed resolved this mystery.
That Certain Summer
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452047447, $14.49, www.authorhouse.com
As you write a biography, you try to find the truth about one's life... but it's hard to do so when the truth is so hidden. "That Certain Summer" follows Sally Grimes as she tries to piece together the Hollywood story of Diane Fenwick, famous celebrity. What she finds is a life covered with lies and deception, as she searches for the truth, searches for love, and tries to make sense out of her own life while making sense of Diane's. "That Certain Summer" is a fun read of personal intrigue, highly recommended.
9781460943144, $13.95, www.suzannetyrpak.com
A woman with power was truly an enigma in times of antiquity. "Vestal Virgin" is a novel from Suzanne Tyrpak who has taken an interest in these women of ancient Rome, who as priestesses of Vesta surrendered their sexuality for knowledge and power. Creating a unique novel of the era focusing on these figures on which the history books are not completely clear on, Tyrpak uses her imagination to fill in the gaps where needed and makes for a fascinating and intriguing work of historical fiction. "Vestal Virgin" is a must for any such reader with their romance surrounding ancient Rome.
Called and Chosen for Destiny
Joan E. Murray
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781606964637, $14.99, www.tatepublishing.com
God's plan is all inclusive, although it may not be obvious what your role is. "Called and Chosen for Destiny: Knowing & Fulfilling Your Destiny In God" is an inspirational work of faith from Joan E. Murray as she advises readers in how to use their faith to divine God's plan for them, and gain that bit of greatness that God intends for all of his children. Thoughtful and inspirational, "Called and Chosen for Destiny" is a strong pick for Christian readers looking to find the answers of their life.
A Wise New Yorker
419 Park Ave., South, New York, NY 10016
9780533163670, $16.95, www.vantagepress.com
A wise man realizes where they have failed. "A Wise New Yorker" is a memoir from Jack O'Rourke as he touches on his life as a man of New York. Through time in the Marines and the more challenging career a s a family man and running his own company. Thoughtful and poignant, "A Wise New Yorker" is a fine read for anyone looking for a New York based memoir on the life of former military people, recommended.
Death by Drowning
Worker Bee Press
P.O. Box 485, Nicholasville, KY 40340
Abigail Keam is a beekeeper of the first magnitude, having won sixteen honey awards at the Kentucky State Fair. When not tending to her bees, she writes mysteries. DEATH BY DROWNING is her second effort.
Josiah Reynolds is an interesting mix of beekeeper, academic, and amateur sleuth. Apparently she was forced into the later when the arch villain, O'nan, a cop turned murderer, and she shared a nasty fall off of a forty foot cliff. That was after O'nan shot her dog, tried to kill her friends, and basically turned Josiah's life into a living nightmare. Where is O'nan now? No one knows, but the helpful people around Josiah, including a hunky bodyguard named Jake, have dedicated themselves to Josiah's healing and protection. For her part, Josiah just wants to manage the pain and spend time with Baby, her huge, injured mastiff:
"'I think I've died and gone to heaven,' I murmured to Baby. 'Oh, Baby, look. You have your own bed.' A large dog bed lined with fake mink was placed next to mine. 'We're living at the Ritz now,' I kidded, patting his massive head. Baby swallowed a substantial amount of drool and looked at me with his eyebrows arched. He sniffed the dog bed as though knowing it was meant for him. 'How much did this cost and who paid for it?' I whispered to myself."
Naturally the bad guy is still around; bills have to be paid; pain pills have got to be weaned; and a new life beckons. In the meantime, a young man has drowned and his mother would like Josiah to investigate. Until someone attacks again...is it O'nan?
Abigail Keam writes with vision and understanding. Her tale is fresh and original...after all...what could beekeeping and murder have in common? Readers will have no trouble being drawn into this charming mystery. Keam leaves the reader yearning for more. DEATH BY DROWNING is an excellent second effort by Ms. Keam. Characters and action are well wrought, and the plot sizzles.
Miles Away Worlds Apart
Legacy Series Press,LLC
1111Kane Concourse, Suite 401F
Bay Harbor Islands, Florida 33154
We all know there is corruption in our world. We see it everyday from small things to large. It is not something that most of us approve of, yet how many times we turn our heads and do not want to get involved. We leave it to another person to deal with. Sad but true.
Inside this book I met a very strong man, a moral man, a man who truly lives his convictions and his beliefs. Our author, Alan Sakowitz, discovered an evil, one that had tentacles that stretched in many places, and touched many lives. To blow the whistle on this could be very dangerous, yet that is what is done. I was amazed.
Mr. Sakowitz, a lawyer, takes us back into his life and the beginning of a very dangerous journey for him as he meets, Scott Rothstein, who proposes a business arrangement. One that is stepped in lies and deceit. One that cannot be allowed to prosper. It is an amazing true story, played out in the state of, Florida. It took you on a journey of deception and greed and the quest of one man who changed the outcome that could have been devastating for many.
This work will encourage you that there are truly people in this world that will stand up and fight back. It is quick paced, yet detailed. The story flows well and keeps your attention and of course the ending makes you want to stand up and applaud. Knowing that it is a true story only makes it more interesting and gives it depth. Very well done.
I also enjoyed the tales that our author told of the many caring people that he has contact with. His community is one of love and respect for the fellow man. That is something that is not often found. I enjoyed hearing of the many times and ways that they helped each other. Their kindness and love is unmatchable in my opinion.
Basically this book definitely tells the story of corruption, but to me that is not the main message. The main message is that each man or woman must stand up for what is right, despite the consequences. The message that I have taken away from this book is that right is right and wrong is wrong. Kindness and love, caring and doing for your neighbors, the hurting, the needy is paramount in life. Reaching out a helping hand without any idea of having a return is what life is all about.
Morals, ethics, love, kindness all go hand in hand on a journey in this life. That is the final message of this book and one I will treasure in my heart for the rest of my life. Well done, a great true story, a wrong righted and a reminder of our responsibilities one to another.
Seamus the Sheltie to the Rescue
Illustrations by Anita Miles
370 S Lowe Avenue, Suite A-122
Absolutely adorable, that is how I feel about this book. Inside we meet Seamus the Sheltie, a dog with the personality that shines through in every adventure he has. Our author, James Beverly, takes us on one adventure to another with Seamus and his neighborhood friends as they face challenges in their part of the world.
Using the animal world our author brings front and center issues such as fear, being different, befriending bullies, and a touching story of Christmas, just to name a few. Every story hits upon an issue in life that not only children must deal with but adults as well. Seamus is so likeable and his wisdom carries each story to a perfect conclusion. The tales bring forth a myriad of emotions that young and old can relate to, as many experiences they have lived through are played out, or experiences they will taste in this life one time or another.
At first I had a little trouble reading our loveable four legged dogs language, but in time I breezed along with it. I think it is one of the perks that sets this book apart from others. You can turn to the back for a glossary of his words if you need help understanding them. There is also a discussion section and photos of the real Seamus and friends. I liked the illustrations as well, my favorite was Seamus and the mice, precious.
All in all I feel this is a great learning book for young and old. The stories always end with a positive note and bring satisfaction to the reader. It's fun to join in a story and see the interaction of the animals, their behavior in different situations, and the outcome. I recommend this book, it's a good one.
Journal of the Big Mouth Bass
Debbie Sue Bass Williamson
8042 Hunters Meadow Circle, Sandy, UT 84093
In this delightful work we meet, Debbie. Debbie has just had a birthday and received a gift that has opened a whole new world to her, a journal. Debbie is now 9 years old and she is starting to see many things in a new light. She is excited about her journal and decides to write down her feelings and all that is happening in her life. To me, the special part was that she writes everything to God, because although Debbie has trouble keeping secrets, she is sure God does not. How sweet is that?
As we travel along in this book we share Debbie's life and her growing up. She is not hesitant to pour out her heart to God, releasing both joy and sadness. She writes of special people she meets, achievements she accomplishes, disappointments she encounters, friends and foes, and unfortunately death of someone she truly loved, basically life itself in the good and in the bad.
I feel this is a wonderful book that both the young and the old would enjoy. It will show children that they are not the only ones who at times have trouble fitting in, dislike the way they look, and definitely do not understand everything that happens in life. Written in a simple way it is quite profound as Debbie's writing touches on the heart of life itself, as tasted by a nine year old, and lays it bare before the reader's eyes. Very well done. Recommended.
A New Name for Worthless
A Hero is Born
Crescent Renewal Resource
PO Box 23, Tipton PA 16684
I would like to comment first on the cover of this book. It immediately caught my eye with three animals, a dog, a fox, and a sea otter looking at me with their beautiful eyes. Very well done.
Now onto the story. Inside this book we meet a very sad dog, one whose owner named, Worthless. He was named that because he slept throw a break-in of his masters house. Worthless is chained outside and must suffer through all kinds of weather. He is very sad, very lonely and very bored. However, he has two friends, Sly Fox and Otto who help him escape. Together they travel away from the sad life that Worthless lives in and find a new challenge for Worthless. One that will show his true worth and will change his life forever.
Oh my goodness what a book. It is one that will grab your heart and not let go. The illustrations are bright, bold and definitely help to bring the story to life. It is a tale that unfortunately is true all over the world. One where so many dogs spend their entire lives chained, alone and sad. This story brings that out clearly and allows the reader to feel the emotions of the animal. I think we all either know of an owner who does this, or have passed by them many times and done nothing. How sad is that?
The story shows the importance of allowing any dog an opportunity to be part of a family, an opportunity to show their love and protection. It bring front and forward a very serious problem within the world.
This book is written to bring attention to this issue, as Worthless was a real dog, with a real story. Because of him,' Dogs Deserve Better' was started. This book brings a message to all of us and a plea to open our hearts, our eyes, and our mouths to help the abuse of such loving and giving creatures. Highly recommended to all, from young to old.
Don't Let Your Mechanic Pick Your Pocket
9781456319557, $12.95, www.createspace.com
I was excited when this book was presented to me for review. I cannot tell you how many times over the years when I was driving along I heard a strange sound in my car. What is that noise? was a question asked over and over again. And of course after waiting a while I ended up going somewhere to have it checked out wondering if they really knew what that noise was either. Sometimes the same sound reappeared after a short period of time and back I would go, only to find myself trying desperately to explain that the sound was back. As I'm sure some of you know that in itself makes you want to scream. But rejoice! There is now help for you, and for me.
Inside this insightful book our author, George A. Moyer opens up a door of wisdom for the all of us mechanic challenged people. A mechanic himself for many years, Mr. Moyer takes us on a journey and opens up the hood of our cars to help us find what that noise maybe. In doing so, when we visit our mechanic, we are armed with some knowledge of what the problem may be, therefore being able to give a better idea of what we are hearing.
The book is written in a clear, concise way, very easy to understand. It is detailed where it needs to be and quick where it doesn't. There is advise about finding an honest mechanic and some dos an don'ts when you do. We have a Glossary of different parts in the car and what they do, and diagrams. Included as well is a Top Ten List that gives 'Most Important Repairs,' 'Least Important Repairs,' 'Most Expensive Repairs,' and 'Easiest Repairs To Get Ripped Off With,' (thank you, Sir). Wow, nothing is left out of this little gem of a book.
I am very pleased to recommend this for every car owner. The knowledge and understanding you will achieve from just thumbing through it is well worth the cost of the book. If you actually take the time to sit down and read it you will be amazed at what you will learn. This book should be in every car owners glove box. It will help you ward off trouble and recognize a small problem before it becomes a big one. Get this book, you will not be sorry. Thank you, Mr. Moyer for taking the time to enlighten us in so many ways.
Death by Midnight
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY
Pat Merridew is dead and Annie Darling, the owner of Death on Demand bookstore does not think it is suicide.
Of course she can't seem to convince the local Sheriff of that fact, but yet the doubt stays with her. Suddenly, Glenn Jamison is found shot to death. He is a wealthy lawyer and the solving of his murder becomes paramount. Soon more bodies turn up and Annie is sure that Pat's murder is connected with all that is happening, after Annie persists to all that it does. Annie and her husband, Max, join forces to help dig out the truth and Annie eventually plans a trap for the killer.
I enjoyed this book. Annie and Max are very likeable characters and the author defines them so well that you feel you have known them all your life. Max is very supportive to Annie and their relationship within the book is very uplifting. The writing is great and pulls you right into the story from the start. Characters are all well defined and that certainly was not an easy job as there were so many within the story. It ran along smoothly, dropping clues here and there, yet adding twists to take you off the path and make you wonder just what is going on. I always try to figure out who the murder is and again I was wrong with this book. I guess I'm not that good at reading clues.
All in all this was a great book delivering all that is expected in a mystery and giving just a little bit more. Very well done.
What Every Small Group Leader Should Know
9780830753277, $12.95, www.regalbooks.com
I was very interested to read this book as my husband and I have been involved with House Ministries for nearly thirty years. After that much time I feel we have learned a lot of the ins and outs but I also knew that God gives each person wisdom to share with the rest in the Body of Christ. That is what I found inside this exceptional book.
Pastor Kreider shares many nuggets of experience in this read that you will find very useful as a leader of a House Ministry and also anyone who is involved with the same. He breaks it down into twelve topics beginning at: My Story - Learning To Lead A Small Group, and finishing with: Step Out In Faith.
Our author helps you with problems like, dealing with difficult people, what are each ones responsibilities, what are your responsibilities as a leader. His writing is open and honest and I feel led by the Spirit of The Lord. Even after many years of being a leader and also one of the group of Home Ministries, I found this book very helpful. The words written brought me peace, encouragement and wisdom. I recommend this read for anyone that the Lord is calling into a Home Ministry Group, whether you are a leader or a member. Very well written and well worth your time.
Callie the Cat
Marguerite Rochelle Zangrillo
Illustrated by Louise Scutiero
I want to say right off that I really loved this book. Since I am an animal lover and protector my heart immediately went out to our star character, Calli. Calli is a beautiful cat who has no home and is so alone. Our author tells of the woes of Calli as he desperately tries to protect himself from a terrible storm and rest his tired body. Poor thing.
The illustrations by, Louise Scutiero, truly brought our little character to life. The expressions on his face were priceless, from sadness, to fear, to joy. Great job! And the best part is the happy ending that I could only wish every animal would have in their lives. This is a wonderful book, and I mean that. Great illustrations, tender, compassionate story, and a perfect ending. I highly recommend it for all children. It brings to light the plight of so many helpless animals and perhaps will plant a seed in the heart of children to be kind. A truly wonderful book.
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452079158, $17.99, www.authorhouse.com
As your perceptions screw with you, it's hard to decide what's right and what's wrong. "Hoosier Hysteria, Sons, and Other Stories" is a collection of short fiction from Larry Moran who provides a collection of stories of people taking unusual paths through life. From horror movie situations and impossible choices, to going too far to win the hearts and minds of others, disasters impossible to avert, and much more. "Hoosier Hysteria, Sons, and Other Stories" is a thoughtful and captivating read, very highly recommended.
419 Park Ave., South, New York, NY 10016
9780533163397, $12.95, www.vantagepress.com
The supernatural play a major element in the Bible, yet it has become so distant in the modern day. "Theological Graffiti: Writings on the Wall of Belief" is a collection of thought and opinion from A. Deacon, who writes of his own thoughts and opinions on the direction and challenges of modern faith and what challenges it. Speaking on many subjects with the idea of how it affects modern Christians and Jews, "Theological Graffiti" is a pick for anyone looking for intriguing thought on the place of modern Christianity.
Games without Frontiers
9780615447490, $14.99, www.mattturney.com
Legends often forget to mention the dark truth that comes with it. "Games Without Frontiers" is a story of two individuals on a crash course that neither of them are truly prepared for. A story of fame and what it can do to people and trying to resist what the world wants you to become, "Games Without Frontiers" is a unique and adventurous read that should prove hard to put down.
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432744700, $31.95, www.outskirtspress.com
Life has many twists and turns, with plenty of peril and challenges along the way. "My Odyssey: Short Stories from the Life of Paul Straub" is a collection of memoirs from Paul Straub as he shares many events in his life, sharing his own walk down life's roads as a pilot and as a surgeon, sharing the adventures of his life and seeing the world with his own eyes. Ranging from the serious to the offbeat, "My Odyssey" is worth considering for fans of memoirs.
James Mitchel Denard Jr.
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533163540, $19.95, www.vantagepress.com
Airplanes were a wonder in themselves. Jet fighters add even greater wonder with their sheer speed. "Tally Ho!: Firend or Foe, There's Something About a Fighter Pilot" is a memoir from James Mitchel Denard, career pilot for the United States Air Force with 149 combat missions to his credit. Speaking on his own wonder and the camaraderie he felt with his crew and fellow fighters, "Tally Ho!" is a moving memoir about what it takes to fly these speedsters and warriors of the sky.
Gog & Magog
Shechinah Third Temple
11583 Pamplona Blvd., Boynton Beach, FL 33437
978972386616, $14.95, www.innervisiondesign.net
The battles between Good and evil can often take place in America's governmental buildings, but it may turn a bit more literal soon enough. "Gog & Magog: The Devil's Descendants" is a Biblical fantasy and thriller as Jerry Pollock tells of Satan's plots to bring about Armageddon through manipulating the world into a war of the means that has not been seen before. The crisis grows so fast that it seems the death of the world is inevitable, with many of the faithful waiting for God to step in. "Gog & Magog" is a nonstop and fascinating thriller, not to be overlooked.
9781461024545, $10.99, www.cindyborgne.com
When humanity comes to Mars, corruption follows it through. "Vallar " is a science fiction tale set on Mars, following Ian Connors, a supernatural psychic who finds himself plunged into the intrigue of Marscorp, Ian chooses to pursue romance and sees his only chance for surviving his rebellion against Marscorp in a newly forming alliance in Vallar. "Vallar" is set in a dystopia where man comes to Mars and brings all their baggage with them.
The Sunwright Chronicles
Kevin M. Villegas
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432772888, $16.95, www.outskirtspress.com
As an Empire trembles into potential collapse, hope comes in the strangest of places. "The Sunwright Chronicles" is the story of the Empire of Kirmar and the challenge it faces from barbarians and those who work against it. As a collection of children are left without their parents, they find that the fate of the empire lies in their hands in this epic fantasy. "The Sunwright Chronicles" is a fine pick for fans of the genre.
A Body on Pine
Joseph R. G. DeMarco
118 Heritage Ave., Maple Shade, NJ 08052
9781590213452, $18.00, www.lethepressbooks.com
When what matters to you is pushed out of the limelight, it can be in your own hands to get it done. "A Body on the Pine" is a mystery following Marco Fontana, a gay detective, as he discovers that is masseur friend has turned up dead. When a reporter takes the sensationalism and the police focus off of his death, Marco takes it into his own power, and Marco finds that Brad, the masseur in question, has plenty of things that may just have been the death of him. "A Body on the Pine" is an intriguing mystery and thriller for gay fiction readers, highly recommended.
Hiding the Stranger
Joan L. Kelly
9780984486489, $9.99, www.bezalelbooks.com
To help a stranger is a noble act that is hard to find elsewhere in our world. "Hiding the Stranger: The Trilogy" is a collection of three novellas from Joan L. Kelly telling of a saga of Katie Rivers and the stranger Sam, who she tries to help against a gang of kidnappers who are out to kidnap the teenaged Sam. A story of sacrifice, friendship, and reaching out to help those in need, "Hiding the Stranger" is an exciting and thoughtful read, highly recommended.
The Perplexing Problem of the Porcelain Bandits
9780578057736, $13.99, www.perplexingproblem.com
Life can come with a lot of strange twists and turns through it all. "The Perplexing Problem of the Porcelain Bandits" is a mystery from Dan Johnson as he follows his chosen hero of Alex Baker, your every day San Francisco gentleman who is surrounded by plenty of unusual strangeness and lots to deal with, most of which is not what it seems. Centering around the strange nature of San Francisco, "The Perplexing Problem of the Porcelain Bandits" is a read that has plenty to consider for mystery and thriller readers.
9781449559465, $14.99, www.clubdoconline.com
Trying to control your own destiny was not always viewed with the highest praise. "Finding Grace" is a novel from Sarah Pawley, telling of 1927 seventeen-year-old Grace, whose own stubborness and drive has left her unmarried. As her parents try to rush her marriage, she spurns their attempts and flees, trying to forge her own path. But 1927 Virginia isn't the most open to determined self-made women. "Finding Grace" is a moving story of driven individuals, highly recommended.
Richard S. Lucas
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432773045, $14.95, www.outskirtspress.com
Knowledge is something sought, knowledge is also power. Sometimes you have to prevent knowledge from falling into the wrong hands. "Ice Queen" is an archeological adventure as Philip and Helen Franklin search of the legend of the Ice Queen. Also pursuing said legend is Justin Smythe, one driven by profit and power. The race is on against the two camps, and the Franklins understand that Smythe cannot be allowed to win, even if it means they lose. "Ice Queen" is a fun work of adventure, very much recommended reading.
Paul T. Vogel
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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