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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 5, Number 8 August 2006 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Kaveny's Bookshelf Klausner's Bookshelf Laurel's Bookshelf
Lorraine's Bookshelf Mary's Bookshelf Shelley's Bookshelf
Shirley's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf Vogel's Bookshelf

Kaveny's Bookshelf

In defense of The Enlightenment

I was going to take off another month off from Kaveny's Bookshelf and blame it on the general exhaustion that I suffered from our sixteen day whirlwind summer United Kingdom, and Continental European trip. However if I did that I would not able to write about our trip which really was a mixture of exhilaration, and death march as I and my wife and foot slogged on public transport( during a record heat wave) from Gatwick International Airport to Oxford, then London, and then by high speed train via Chunnel to Brussels Belgium, and finally to meet our friends in Michelin Belgium to send nearly week in that beautiful Medieval city (with several side trips) , before returning to London Via the Chunnel, and then finally to Eau Claire Wisconsin.

Those of you who know me know that I like to associate dates with places and try to weave them into the grand historical scheme of events. For example the house we bought here in Eau Claire Wisconsin during the 911 crisis in 2001 was built in 1876. This was the year that General George Armstrong Custer met his destiny at The Battle of Little Big Horn. Well the three-story house that we stayed in Michelin Belgium was built one year before the 30-year ended. That war which was the great conflict between Protestant and Catholic Europe came to an end in 1648 with the treaty Westphalia in which Europeans agree quite reasonably and rationally to stop killing each other over religion, and fight over more rationally about things like imperialism, international trade and, in very gentlemanly ways about dynastic successions. I also think that it became clear to the folks in charge that is all the peasants where killed off in combat then there would be nobody left to do the actual work but the gentry.

Not that there were not conflicts during the next one hundred and forty years but Europeans sort of agreed not to commit cultural suicide by allowing conflicts to be fueled by religious hatred. It was a period where the common folks were willing to fight for money rather than ideology, or religion, as a matter of fact a number of my Irish ancestors were mercenaries during this period, or wild geese as they came to be called later. Though this is not written down anyplace I have it from a very good source my Irish grandfather Raymond W. Dunn (1882-1976), that our families mottos were twofold. Get paid first, before the battle, and live to fight another day. Which I think is a quite reasonably attitude if one wishes to continue to experience wonderful things which are a part of this world.

My previous remarks are in a way a prelude to a defense of a world view which was dominant in most of Western Europe from the treaty Westphalia in 1648, until the onset of the French Revolution in 1789. Though my periodization differs slightly that of the editors of this wonderful and beautifully illustrated four volume set of books, and the sticker price makes it perhaps more suitable for library reference collections than the individual user it is my opinion as a public sphere scholar that and writer that belongs in not just academic library reference collections, but also in small medium and large school and public library collections.

The Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment
Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0195104307, $495.00, 1920 pages

I can say as a holder of a number of professional degrees (a MLS and a certificate of advanced studies) within the field of library and information studies that this encyclopedia is a joy to test drive. It is a wonderful supplement to my own scholarly enterprises, particularly because of its larger print and appropriately spaced columns, which is particularly important since I just turned sixty two and am on first set of bifocals

The 700 or so alphabetically arranged entries are about equally slip between topical and biographical items. And for myself who tends to look at all items like this from the perspective of critical theory this work is not simply a celebration of Eurocentric cultural, political and cultural hegemony. It includes material on a number of key 20th Century critics of The Enlightenment like Walter Benjamin) Jurgen Habermas. Who argue that in light of the Horrific events of the 20th Century particularly World War one, World war Two, The Holocaust, and later ethnic cleaning, that at best it was a chimera, and it was a mechanism of oppression. This is particularly true if when argues from a radical postmodern perspective that argues that all history is local, and no generalization can be made. That is except the last above mentioned. So where do I wade in all this and what is my opinion at a time when it is not fashionable to hold an opinion with the force of ones being. Well I find myself championing The Enlightenment and going back to the words of British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Gray at the onset of World War I:

"Lights are going out all over Europe. They will not come on again in Our lifetime"

Yet in some sense our they did come back on.

Yet after having said it seems to me that the most radical idea of The Enlightenment did not deal so much with the scientific or the material but with the spiritual. What I mean by this of course is toleration, and I suppose entitlement. Of course these words has come into a great deal of disfavor as of late as we seem to live in a world of zero tolerance, human rights are view as not being inalienable, but subject to caprice. Yet as I remember as week looked out the window of our non air-conditioned condition hotel room in 100 degree heats 98 percent humidity on a city of six million souls. I told my wife that just three hundred and thirty-year before London was first swept by the great fire and then the Black Plague, as The Thames was being blockaded by a Dutch fleet, that they made it. I mean the British made it, otherwise I guess we would all be speaking Dutch.

By the way did I mention that our Hotel room was less than two blocks from the British Museum and just about everything I saw on the history channel I was able to see real time. I also forgot to mention that there was an Internet center within a half block of our hotel where I could play in about twenty different international ongoing chess tournaments. Did I mention that I won several of them? Life is not so bad in the 21st Century

Philip Kaveny
Senior Reviewer

Klausner's Bookshelf

The Cobra Trilogy
Timothy Zahn
ISBN: 1416520678, $14.00

"Cobra". Early in the twenty-fifth century, the Troft militia easily conquers Earth's colonial worlds Adirondack and Silvern leading to Earth's leaders concluding that the Troft has space superiority. To keep from succumbing to the enemy's superior force, guerilla ground force Cobra with special technological implants is created to battle the adversary using whatever it takes. Jonny Moreau is Cobra to his core, but he will learn that even a dedicated hand picked band has traitors ready to sell out. "Cobra Strike". The Cobras ultimately won the war with the Trofts, but to Jonny's chagrin, the enemy is now a trading ally though he is not as forgiving having seen many gallant friends die in combat. However, his son Justin, a chip off the old block as a Cobra, joins a Troft led expedition against an unknown species launching an attack against the Troft with the human sector to follow. "Cobra Bargain". Aventine Governor Corwin Moreau knows his family rule has led to ill will towards them from the Cobra Worlds Council that negatively impacts his niece Jasmine desire to become the first female Cobra. To achieve her goal she must overcome the jealousy and antipathy towards her surname in order to be the first woman to attend the academy. A dangerous mission in whom she is the perfect operative might prove the avenue that is if she lives so long. Obviously the three 1980s Cobra novels have been put into one big volume. The tales are fun as they follow three generations of the First Family of Cobra into combat. Though this reviewer doubts the Trofts loss to Cobra (bigger upset than Douglas over Tyson), fans of military science fiction thrillers will enjoy this trio especially since the technology seems plausible and the lead protagonists in each entry a likable champion.

Second Perimeter
Mike Lawson
ISBN: 0385515324, $24.95

Though he has doubts as the allegation from his nephew Dave Whitfield is vague, Secretary of the Navy Frank Hathaway decides a quiet inquiry without official connections is worth doing. He arranges with The Speaker of the House John Mahoney to send his troubleshooting "fixer" Joe DeMarco to the navy base in Bremerton, Washington to ascertain whether fraud has occurred and perhaps worse espionage. Joe and his colleague retired DIA Agent Emma head to the Bremerton Naval Station to determine what is going on there. They soon find themselves stepping over dead bodies of apparent spies and tangling with lethal Chinese national, Li Mei, who seems to discard her agents once they complete their mission. Emma knows Li first hand from a Cold war fiasco, but that fails to help DeMarco and team as the enemy agent obtains top secret nuclear submarine technology and abducts one of Joe's agents in order to obtain more information and annihilate the person she blames for destroying her career, Emma. This action-packed fast paced espionage thriller is top rate because of the flawed hero. DeMarco is not sure of his next move as he has never dealt with spies before and worries that one mistake could cause someone's death even as he amusingly ridicules himself for not being James Bond light. Thus as he did in THE INSIDE RING, DeMarco takes the tale to lofty quality heights.

The Dressmaker
Elizabeth Birkelund Oberbeck
ISBN: 0805080333, $23.00

In Senlis, France old school middle-aged tailor Claude Reynaud lives a double life. For his Paris clients he fashions fancy gowns while for his hometown clients he mends tears, sews buttons, and adjusts hemlines of mundane off the shelf items. Captivating Parisian Valentine de Verlay hires Claude to make her a wedding dress, but to his shock for the first time in his life the tailor falls in love. Claude realizes that he never truly loved his wife, who abandoned him eight years ago though they remain married. Meanwhile Valentine holds her dressmaker in high regard too as she falls in love with Claude. However, she refuses to break off her engagement to Victor Couturier though he pales next to kindhearted Claude. To remain near his beloved, Claude throws away his essence symbolized by his shop in the suburbs to join a major Paris designer label though he has no idea how survive in this attention shark infested world let alone get his beloved Valentine. This is an interesting character study starring an artisan who throws away his values for love that though shared emotionally with his soulmate, a relationship seems impossible. The lead duet is a fine pairing as the audience can feel for Claude who is willing do almost anything for his beloved and for Valentine feeling she must do the honorable thing by her fiance. Though Victor is a caricature abusive brute, which takes way from the possibilities of this triangle, fans will enjoy Elizabeth Birkelund Overbeck's fine relationship drama.

The Prophet
Francine Rivers
ISBN: 0842382682, $14.99

The sacrifice demanded by the Priests required using only the best most perfect sheep; yet though a child he is confused and somewhat appalled to observe his family insures that a flawed animal is given to the Priest. He wonders why as his father and older brothers tell him to keep quiet; they state why give away a perfect animal for sacrifice when damaged goods will do the trick. Amos does not understand as during this period of plenty his family has prospered. He concludes his family and the priests have cheated God; soon he believes a day of reckoning will come for those who prosper from their ill gains. As he grows into adulthood, Amos sees more practices that disturb him. He detests the necessary trips to Jerusalem where he notices that even the Priests break the holiest of laws and only finds comfort tending his flock. God sends him to Bethel, a place he loathes more than Jerusalem. His mission to spread the message that these may be the good times thanks to the Lord, but they will end if the people continue to break the Torah. Amos does his Lord's bidding though he knows before he begins that the message will make him a pariah. The fourth Sons of Encouragement biblical biographical fiction (see THE PRINCE, THE WARRIOR and THE PRIEST) is a delightful look at the fascinating Amos, whose message is rejected by those he tries to reach. Labeled a "minor prophet", he talks of gloom and doom judgment day coming (an early democrat) to the Northern Kingdom of Samaria during a time when the ecomony was expanding by selling the torah's values under the label of growth (an early republican). Readers will appreciate his message that still holds true today.

The Copper Scroll
Joel C. Rosenberg
ISBN: 1414303467, $24.95, 404 pp.

When Russia attacked Israel, a supernatural firestorm destroyed the invaders most of Russia, the fundamentalist Arab nations and Germany and Austria. The world is still trying to bury the dead and clear the debris away while the only Arab nation to remain unscathed is Iraq led by Mustafa al-Hassani. Iran and Israel are the only two oil producing nations in the Mideast since the governments of all the other nations and the pipelines were destroyed. Al-Hassani intends to rebuild the Babylonian empire with him as the ultimate authority and he intends to destroy Israel but first he has to stop the Land of Zion from building the third temple on the Temple Mount now that the Dome Of The Rock and the al Aksa Mosque has been destroyed. The Jews have in their possession THE COPPER SCROLL listing where the treasure from the second temple is hidden. The people who are looking for the Key Scroll, a list of the treasure and where the Ark of the Covenant can be found are systemically being killed. Jon and Erin Bennet try to find the Key Scroll but terrorists are trying to stop them for if the treasure is found there is no doubt that Israeli Prime Minister Doron will build the third temple and fill it with the treasure from the second temple. Every book about international events that Joel C. Rosenberg has written has come true in the not so distant future. If his record holds up, Russia will attack Israel but will be destroyed; the treasure from the second temple will be found; and the new Iranian leader is making plans to absorb other nations into a new Arab empire. THE COPPER SCROLL is filled with action, political intrigue and great characterizations as Mr. Rosenberg has written a thriller that is so exciting and fast-paced that readers will feel they are along on the ride of a lifetime

Journey to Love
Charlotte Hubbard
ISBN: 084395566X, $6.99

In 1869 St. Louis sixteen year old Christine Bristol dreams of her mother returning to her and her brother Billy, but feels she must do something to make it happen. However, Christine has no idea where her mother went since she abandoned them. However, she feels she found the starting point when she finds a bundle of letters hidden away by her mother. To her ire, the love letters are signed by Tucker Trudeau, whom Christine has loved since she first met him three years ago. Still Christine now has a name to begin her quest. She pleads with Tucker to help her find her mother. Tucker and his mother agree to accompany Christine on a trek to follow the clues to the whereabouts of her missing mother. Neither understood how difficult it is to locate someone who might not want to be found as they trek across the country. This is an interesting historical romance that showcases how different society was just under a hundred fifty years ago as the sixteen years old heroine hopes to marry the man she loves. The story line though labeled an Angels of Mercy Inspirational seems to realistic in terms of profanity and sexual innuendos and comments for that intended audience. In spite of a lack of real motivation by Tucker and his mom and several leaps of faith spins Charlotte Hubbard provides readers with an interesting mid nineteenth century journey to womanhood.

Rumble on the Bayou
Jana DeLeon
ISBN: 0843957379, $6.99

Gator Bait, Louisiana is a small quiet town where neighbors help one another and the biggest crimes are drunk and disorderly conducts and domestics. When a resident calls Deputy Dorie Berrenger out to her home to get an alligator out of her pool, she sees he has a backpack in his mouth. When she gets the pack away from the alligator, she finds inside a finger, heroin and plenty of cash in it. Not long after she files her report, DEA Agent Richard Starke arrives in town. The fingerprint belongs to Shawn Roland, a deal maker for the Herbert family when it comes to hard drugs. Richard has been chasing him for eight years and this time he intends to arrest Roland. However he first has to learn the realities of small town bayou life where outsiders are considered alligator bait as someone local is working with the felon and trying to kill the Agent and the Deputy. The principal protagonists bristle like stray cats when they first meet, but it is not long after that they hit the sheets and soon fall in love. This romantic police procedural is fantastic due to the eccentric residents of Gator Bait who add depth to the tale of the local and the stressed out visitor struggling with a killer and worse a killer love.

Max Unlocks the Universe
Mark Bouton
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144885, $25.95

In a snow storm in the Midwest, Carl and Bones wait for the target to emerge from a house. When "Blue Jacket" does, Bones fires a dart that hits the victim in the neck. The young man collapses instantly as the two hit men drive away. Local Detective Bagley asks friend former FBI Agent turned private sleuth Max Austin to investigate the homicide of Kyle Mossler as his son David is the prime suspect having been the last person with the deceased. Max learns that David, Kyle and four other people work at Securegard, a computer security firm, and the coroner reported that the cause of death was curare poisoning. When two Securegard people die, one in Denver and the other in San Francisco, Max knows he needs help especially with the computer aspects of the case. He asks his former girlfriend Marisol Vegas to help him uncover the underlying reason why someone is killing the Securegard team. This is an entertaining private investigative tale in which the hero cannot find a lucid motive to what appears to be three killings though the one in San Francisco is officially considered a car accident. The story line is filled with unusual twists starting with the audience knowing the identities of the two hitmen. Max is the center of the universe as struggles to unlock the mystery. Readers will appreciate his efforts to solve the case and keep the remaining trio alive even as every clue complicates his inquiry and confuses Max.

The Flock
James Robert Smith
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143773, $25.95

Berg brothers Studio of Florida is responsible for making quality family films and amusement parks. They built Salutations, "the perfect American township", abutting over four hundred thousand acres of underdeveloped wilderness. The only neighbors are the ranch of retired Colonel Winston Grisham who uses the land to train militia, and the research center of billionaire Vance Holcomb. When Fish and Wildlife employee Ron Riggs is called to Salutations to see what is causing residents dogs and cats to vanish, he is clueless that he will soon be caught in a life and death struggle involving three adversarial groups pondering what to do about THE FLOCK. These creatures are saurian in form and thought long extinct.. They are intelligent and know how to hide from humans, but now are endangered because they have been discovered. Anyone who has read Jurassic Park will enjoy the FLOCK, an action-adventure thriller with pulp fiction elements. Although the main players are stereotyped as the poster children representing a specific group (mega business, tree huggers, and paramilitary), the fun is observing these "faces" interact or perhaps better put fight one another as each has an agenda when it comes to dealing with the flock. James Robert Smith provides a fine tale of survival of the fittest.

A Night in Hollywood Forever
Andrew J. Fenady
Five Star
ISBN: 159414379X, $25.95

Tired of being shot and heeding his mom's advice, Alex Night quits as a real private investigator to write a great novel. He even takes an office at the Writers and Artists Building in Beverly Hills. However, his former clients keep hiring him to sleuth so that the great American mystery has not progressed beyond the title, The Big Changeover. He vows no more sleuthing but cannot resist the lure of finding a missing Faberge Egg once given by Hearst to his lover Mandies, However, the prime reason is gumshoeing is his fiancee, prolific author Goldie Rose, has vanished with her office broken into and ransacked. Though Goldie keeps putting off their wedding date, Alex fears for her life so like Sam Spade begins investigating her disappearance; however, he will soon find himself over the edge of night as half of Hollywood and the former KGB crowd amongst others want him out of the way whether it is over an Egg or the writer. Fans of urban noirs will want to spend a night or three following the escapades of "retired" sleuth turned wannabe writer Alex. As with A NIGHT IN BEVERLY HILLS, the story line centers on Alex who once again uses asides to pay homage to classic pictures and actors. The investigation begins late in the tale, but the plot before, during, and after contains plenty of action. Andrew J. Fenady makes A NIGHT IN HOLLYWOOD worth reading.

A Killing on Church Grounds
Barbara Cummings
Five Star
ISBN: 1594145229, $25.95

At St. Catherine's in Providence, Rhode Island, Reverend Mother Mary Frances has doubts that Sister Mary Agnes has the deportment to make it as a nun. Sister Mary lives in trouble though her intentions are good and she promises God she will make up for all her sins. This morning she has cooking duty in spite of the fact she cannot boil water, but childhood friend Richard DelVecchio, driver to an alleged crime king, arrives with the food. Not long afterward, Sister Mary enters the cellar only to find the corpse of a girl wearing an old St. Catherine's blouse; one of Richard's knives is protruding from her chest. The police especially Sister Mary's cousin Josiah assume Richard killed the girl and so they arrest him. Richard's boss Vincent Gaetano Ricci tells her they are innocent. Encouraged by the crime boss and by Monsignor Robert Grace Sister Mary and her best friend Sister Winnie make inquires not realizing the danger they place themselves in from a killer willing to murder again. Mindful of the Rosalind Russell's "Angel" movies, but in an amateur sleuth setting, A KILLING ON CHURCH GROUNDS is a solid mystery that fans of Father Dowling will enjoy. Sister Mary lives in trouble even before she works a murder investigation that she knows upsets her Mother Superior, her cousin the cop, and her jailed friend. Readers will appreciate her efforts in this fun but light murder mystery.

The Murder Hole
Lillian Stewart Carl
Five Star
ISBN: 159414480X, $25.95

Her partner at great Scot magazine Miranda Capaldi sends American Jean Fairborn to the Loch Ness area to cover the latest effort to prove whether the monster exists or not. The head of the Water Horse expedition is controversial American scientist Roger Dempsey, who insists his modern technology will answer the question and someone the legends reporter knows from back in the states. Many locals oppose the intrusion. Some our of fear that Dr. Dempsey will prove no monster exists and hurt tourism, but environmental activist Iris Mackintosh has other concerns. Northern Constabulary Detective inspector Alasdair Cameron becomes involved when someone sends threatening letters warning Dempsey to stay away. He and Jean have a recent history (see THE SECRET PORTRAIT) so both have mixed feelings about their latest encounter. However, when a homicide tied to the ancient Pitclachic Stone disrupts the expedition, Alasdair makes sure Jean remains safe even as she dives into cold murky danger trying to solve several mysteries including a murder. The sequel to the delightful THE SECRET PORTRAIT is a fun contemporary police procedural investigative tale with the emphasis on the reporter's inquiries. The story line cleverly combines Nellie, an ancient historical stone with a twentieth century history, a bit of romance and murderous mayhem into a fine tale starring a likable heroine. Readers will appreciate THE MURDER HOLE as Nellie is under investigation until a homicide interrupts the scientific study.

A Race Against Death
Timothy Sheard
Five Star
ISBN: 159414463X, $25.95

At James Madison University Hospital, the air conditioning is not working so some departments are brutally hot. Union steward widower Lenny Moss has received plenty of complaints over the unhealthy working conditions and has pressured the administration to fix the mechanical problem to include some of the support staff not being in rooms like laundry in the heat of the day. He hopes to spend his nights in heat with housekeeping's Betty, a single mother, who he really likes. Meanwhile ICU Dr. Samir Singh and his team fail to save the life of Charyse Desic, who had just undergone a recent abortion. The staff's OBGYN Dr. Leslie Odom could not care less that some street loser patient of his died. However her boyfriend Tyrell Hardy does and he plans to kill the doctor who butchered his beloved. Lenny and fourth year medical student Kate Palmer are stunned by Odom's attitude and do some quiet investigating into the physician's past only to find a hellish track record and are unsure what to do especially since the hospital administration has obviously covered for this dangerous physician. It has been several years since Lenny starred in a novel (see SOME CUTS NEVER HEAL and THIS WON'T HURT A BIT), but the wait was worth it. A RACE AGAINST DEATH is an interesting amateur sleuth medical thriller starring a caring hero (perfect personality for a shop steward) who knows he is in over his head with his inquiries, but feels he must act before more tragedies occur. The support cast is top rate as they make the hospital seem genuine and Lenny's romance with Betty adds depth to the character. Timothy Sheard provides a delightful hospital investigative tale that grips readers from the moment that Dr. Singh and his team apply CPR, but fail.

Fire Island Summer
Julie Ellis
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144745, $25.95

Still grieving the deaths of her parents who died a few months ago in a car accident, Bronx Junior High School psychiatrist Anne Evans plans to use her summer vacation time to close up their home on Fire Island. However, before leaving she remains concerned with twelve years old Joey Devlin, a child she believes can be saved from a life of crime if he can be weaned away from his psychopath friends Luis Perez and Frank Smith. Former law student Mark Cameron is freed after spending six years in prison for rape, a crime he swears he did not commit. He and his former cellmate Chuck Ryan plan to make money and avenge his incarceration starting with moving into his mother's home on Fire Island with her living in Florida to escape his disgrace. When Mark and Anne meet they are attracted to one another. She mentions Joey who he believes is the perfect final pawn in his scheme. That is until he realizes Anne is his conscience and good luck charm as he finds proof to prove his innocence, but must risk his life to prevent the murder as Chuck is a sociopath who refuses to abort the plan. Mark makes the tale a fascinating character whose life has been ruined so he sets in motion a plan of revenge until he meets Anne, who gives him a reason to live again (along with the new evidence - though he originally saw her as an avenue to further his scheme. Chuck is too crazy making him more than just a stereotype, but ironically that also works well when he refuses to allow his partner to pull the plug on their caper. Readers will enjoy this fine romantic crime drama wondering whether love or revenge will win out.

Autumn Desire
Sharon Noble
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144869, $25.95

Paula met Sam Wincott when she was an eighteen years old college student at the University of Colorado and he was her chemistry professor. They married; she became pregnant and dropped out of school. They raised two children over the three decades they were together, but at sixty-eight Sam died. Fifty years old Paula decides to go back to school. However, she is unhappy to find her chemistry class taught by Boyd Mackenzie who her late spouse hated and accused of stealing his work. She holds him in contempt, but the Department Chair Dr. King forces them to work together to complete Sam's last project. As they fall in love, her daughter Emma objects while her son Morgan encourages her to fly free. This deep character study pays homage to Ibsen as Paula begins to come out of a cocoon starting with her return to college. She is clearly the star, but the support cast including her late spouse enable the audience to follow her progress from a secure caged bird to a fledgling (even though a grandma) learning to fly. The romance serves as a further catalyst that encourages Paula to leave Ghosts behind in A Doll's House. Sharon Noble provides her audience with a strong look at a woman seeking self-actualization.

Silver Butterfly
Janet Logan
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144915, $26.95

In junior high school in Brooklyn, Steve and Serena are sweethearts until his family moves to South Jersey. Though they vowed otherwise, the fourteen year olds lost contact. Steve opens up a five star restaurant with his wife Anne Marie and their two children. However, Anne Marie ultimately suffers from Alzheimer's before she succumbs to pneumonia. Serena marries Burt Epstein, but when their son dies in a DUI, he blames her; she divorces him and opens up a restaurant in Brooklyn eventually marrying her kindhearted widowed lawyer, Edward Franklin, whose angry daughter Phyllis wants her dead. When Edward dies she closes her restaurant and moves away o avoid the ire of Phyllis. Years have passed when Steve hires Serena to work at his restaurant; neither recognize the other as their last names have changed, but are attracted to one another. However, his daughter Lisa objects and the restaurant's hostess Juliette interferes. Serena decides not to break up another family so she vanishes even as Steve knows who she is, his soulmate. Though Serena does not do well with the other women in the lives of her beaus (overkill), fans will enjoy this middle age second chance at love. The story line contains two subplots that follow the overall lives of Steve and Serena respectively until they meet for the second time. Readers will root for this deserving widowed couple, who have had a kind loving mate each, to complete the circle of happiness together.

Chris Roberson
ISBN: 1591024447, $15.00

In the 1960s Soviet cosmonaut Akilena "Leena" Chirikova orbits the Earth in her Vostok 7 rocket ship when a hole suddenly opens up in her path. Her ship goes through the portal and when she exits on the other side she crashes on an orb she later learns is called Paragaea. Leena leaves the vessel, but rather quickly jaguar men attack and capture her. Before she can figure out how to escape, another jaguar man Balam and his human companion Heironymous "Hero" Bonaventure rescue her. Hero explains to Leena that he was a British naval lieutenant during the Napoleonic Wars before falling through an opening and ending up on Paragaea. He further explains that the planet includes several sentient species including humans and "metamankind" such as the jaguar-men called Sinaa. Balam is a royal who hopes to reclaim the Sinaa throne from his traitorous cousins Finally Hero explains no one knows how to return to earth because almost everyone believes earth is a myth. Still Leena wants to go home so Hero and Balam escort her on a quest to find the portal back to earth. Combining an old fashion series of cliffhangers within modern astrophysical theories, Chris Roberson fashions a terrific science fiction thriller that hooks readers from the moment Leena realizes this isn't earth anymore. The action-packed story line never slows down as the displaced heroine gets in and out of one predicament after another with the help of her two comrades and several additional members of a variety of sentient species that join her quest. With humor and a strong cast that make Paragaea and its residences seem real, thriller fans who appreciate the offbeat will want to join Leena's trek to find a way back home.

Joel Shepherd
ISBN: 1591024439, $15.00

Mankind has spread across the galaxies and is divided into two different groups. The League is where the visionaries, who are constantly on the cutting edge of science, live. The Federation which is more conservative went to war against the League over biotech laboratory work. The less populated League created GI androids to augment their human soldiers. Cassandra "Sandy" Kresnov is a new prototype android GI. Over time she becomes sentient in a world that refuses to recognize her rights after the hostilities end. She leaves the League to reside on the Federation world of Calley where Sandy tries to act human, but is caught and jailed for her actions. However, when she saves the president's life that act insures she becomes a citizen and a soldier in the planet's war against adversaries who wants her back as a deadly machine. CROSSOVER is an amazing tale that focuses on what is sentient intelligence and how does that make one human. Readers will ponder whether an essence that can create, think and feel but was manufactured not born can be classified as having a spirit. Readers will adore Sandy who seems more human than many purebreds as she takes nothing for granted. Joel Shepherd following in the footsteps of Phillip K. Dick provides a penetrating science fiction tale in which Johnny Five is alive in space.

Rusty Nail
J.A. Konrath
ISBN: 140130088X, $23.95

Chicago police lieutenant Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels receives an anonymous snuff video that appears to be the classic work of serial killer the Gingerbread Man, Charles Kork. The only problem with holding the Gingerbread Man culpable is that he is already a guest of the state. Jack assumes it is copy cat with insider information. Since her partner Herb Benedict is hospitalized, she decides to go it alone looking closely at Kork's relatives and friends. However, though she finds perversion, insanity, criminality and worse as the norm, Jack fails to get any closer to identifying and catching the killer. Instead the unknown murderer seems to target those related to the beleaguered cop who leaves taunting clues like toes in the cookie jar for Jack insisting he is back. Jack knows she must stop this brilliant but psychopath copy cat killer before he toasts the deaths of her loved ones because he seems to be fixated on her. The killer ironically is obvious to the reader early on while Jack remains clueless as the culprit outplays her at every turn in their cat and mouse encounter. As always with a Jack Daniels police procedural (see WHISKEY SOUR and BLOODY MARY) gore and humor are mixed together often in the same scene. Fans will laugh and groan as Jack battles against a diabolical lethal lunatic, who seems always one step, make that multiple steps, ahead of her.

Something That Lasts
James David Jordan
ISBN: 159145428X, $13.99

The Post-Dispatch named Reverend David Parst one of the fifty most influential leaders in the St. Louis area. David has a loving wife Sarah and a delightful twelve year old son Jack. His flock at the O'Fallon Bible Church thinks the world of him. He has everything going perfectly. At church on Sunday David asks his congregation whether there is anything anyone had to say; a minor gesture that always resulted in accolades or silence. Not this time. Ted Balik rises and claims that David is having an affair with his wife Erika before walking out of the edifice to shoot himself. David is stunned as his wife demands he leave, his son is devastated, and the congregation fires him. Seeking redemption, David becomes pastor to a small church in Elsa, Texas. A decade later David still needs forgiveness from his family and the Lord, but has no hopes as he keeps track of them albeit from a distance like serendipitously watching Jack play college baseball. Jack has become a corporate lawyer who abuses his wife Katie; she flees with their daughter Lynn to live with Sarah. Though a deep Christian character study that looks closely at the impact of a major sin, the protagonist could have starred any person, regardless of religion, abusing their position of power that includes trust in the individual. Thus James David Jordan makes a strong case that a transgression involving trust can prove to be SOMETHING THAT LASTS for a lifetime (and more) as the sins of the father reappear in the offspring. Repenting and even redemption does not always erase the sin as life is not an etch a sketch; this is superior morality fiction as the key players involved with the scandal seem genuine at the time of the adultery and years later.

The Enemy of God
Robert Daley
Harvest (Harcourt)
ISBN: 0156032287, $14.00

Gabe Driscoll, Andrew Troy, Frank Redmond, and Earl Finley met as fourteen year olds in the 1950s trying out for the Fordham Prep swim team in the Bronx. Over the next three decades as they each went into different professions their friendship remained strong. Gabe became a cop; Andrew a reporter; Frank a priest, and Earl an assistant district attorney. All are successful at their chosen vocation. Earl is the first of the quartet to die having been murdered. However, now fifty-three years old, Father Frank apparently leaps to his death from approximately four floors in Harem. The coroner Dr. Levin rules suicide as the evidence points to Frank jumping. The Catholic Church refuse to bury him as a Catholic since suicide is a sin to the chagrin of Gabe and Andy. They cannot believe their activist pal filled with enthusiasm to help the downtrodden would suddenly be so despondent that he would become a jumper. Though Gabe knows better as the chief of NYPD Internal Affairs, he and Andy begin investigating what happened to their friend. The deep look at changing group dynamics and the glimpse into church and police politics add depth to a fine investigative tale that is at its best when the surviving pair struggle to understand what happened and why. When the story line takes a dramatic spin (no giveaways) it loses some of the insightfulness as it turns more into a thriller; which in turn bleeds away what made the foursome especially Gabe and Andy full blooded characters as the two survivors morph into two dimensional superheroes. Still overall this is a solid relationship investigation that falls short of Robert Daley's YEAR OF THE DRAGON.

Tomorrow They Kiss
Eduardo Santiago
Back Bay
ISBN: 0316014125, $13.99

The three women grew up in Palamagria, Cuba, but by 1967 they live in New Jersey. Everyday they ride the bus together to work at a Union City toy factory. Graciela is a single mother of two separated from her spouse; she dreams of true love just like she sees at night on telenovelas. Her mates egotistical Caridad and acerbic Imperio tell Graciela that telenovelas are fantasies and what she once had in Cuba with the town hunk is long gone; even as they hide the fact that they share her dream of the telenovelas coming true for them. However, to everyone's amazement, the factory foreman, Mr. Barry O'Reilly seems to desire Graciela as he always looks at her and makes excuses to see her. Her bitter bus mates cannot believe the worst nightmare since Castro is about to happen to them. Graciela apparently will become Mrs. O'Reilly, which in capitalist America and communist Cuba denotes she is their boss. This is a terrific timely tale with the immigration issue historical look at three Cuban expatriates struggling to survive in an alien land. Much of the tale is related by Graciela though the audience also obtains some first person accounts from her two amigas and other doll factory workers. The working conditions will stun readers while the additional insight into new Cuban-American community that located in the northeast provides a humorous at times poignant but also somewhat slow paced character study.

Barbara Campbell
ISBN: 0756403553, $7.99, 320 pp.

Keirith is an apprentice shaman to the Tree-Father and he takes joy in joining his spirit with the eagles, seeing through their eyes and feeling the power of flight. He knows that this is forbidden ever since Morgath tried to cast out the spirit of a person. When the Tree Father catches Keirith performing the forbidden act he tells him he can no longer be his apprentice. When his father Darak finds out the two men get into an argument and the son uses his power to push his father away from him. Not long after that Keirith sees raiders and warns the tribe but he is kidnapped and transported to the Zherosi city way to the south. There he is singled out by the Pajhit (High Priest) Malaq who believes he might be the son of their long prophesized god. He is taken under the Pajhit's wing and treated like a son but he has an enemy the Zeherosi priest Xevhan who wants to learn to use Keirith's powers and become the new Pajhit. Darak is heading to the city where his son is held but getting both of them out of there will prove impossible unless the Trickster God that Darak's wife Griane made a bargain with keeps his word. Imagine The Crucible Trilogy by Sara Douglass crossed with the fantasy saga of Kate Elliott and the reader will have some idea what BLOODSTONE is all about. The main protagonist suffers and matures after being taken from his tribe and yet readers will feel he has done nothing wrong because his actions weren't evil but the law didn't recognize the different shades of gray concerning Keirith's power. Barbara Campbell proves she is no one shot wonder with the Second Trickster's novel which is ever better than HEARTWOOD.

Hags, Sirens, & Other Bad Girls of Fantasy
Edited by Denise Little
ISBN: 0756403693, $7.99

This twenty story anthology focuses on just what the title states: the bad females of fantasy and fairy tales. Normally stories containing Pandora or Isis, etc. they play the villainess secondary character; in this collection these notorious bad girls play the lead role so the audience sees how they perceive their persona, public image, and the encounters that make characters like Cinderella's stepmother become the connotation of parental abuse. Though for the most part well written, much of the bite of being the malevolent one is taken away as several of the ladies insist they are misunderstood. Still fantasy fans who enjoy their villains to be hardened women will find this compilation of all new stories fun and will follow the frolics of these fatal fatale females mostly of Greek mythos.

Not By Chance
Kathy Herman
ISBN: 159052490X, $12.99, 382 pp.

When Brandon Jones quits his job as regional vice president of Mavis and Stein, a manufacturer of women's clothing, he also loses his fiancee Kelsey who breaks their engagement. He leaves Raleigh and goes to his parents' home in Seaport off the Florida Coast but he doesn't get much sympathy from his father, a very successful lawyer who thinks his son is crazy to have left a job because he didn't find it significant. Brandon's inner turmoil is reflected in the torment Seaport is experiencing due to an escalating series of racial incidents that leads to seven deaths and rioting. As the police try to find the killers, Brandon takes a job as a camp counselor where he befriends the lonely biracial Caedman Nash. When a hurricane threatens the town most people evacuate but Caedman has gone missing and Brandon is determined to find him. NOT BY CHANCE is the fourth and last book in the fabulous Seaport saga. The next book talented Kathy Herman writes well be one of the Phantom Hollow series which focuses on Brandon and Kelsey. This book is filled with suspense and the racially motivated crimes with Brandon trying to find himself. Ms. Herman is a brilliant storyteller who readers can always count on for a good yarn.

Emerald Enigma
C.J. Westwick
Krell Press
ISBN: 0977600904, $26.95

Bernie Lustfield is very happy with the eighteen emeralds he bought in the Bombay shop on the French side of the island of St. Martin in the West Indies. He is relaxing on Antigua by the boat when the bartender serves him a drink and he immediately keels over and dies. The man goes to Bernie's room to retrieve the emeralds before disappearing. Multistate Insurance offers private detective Bret Lamplighter $250,000 to recover the gems. The local police are unhappy to see DEA Agent Lamplighter return to the island since his last visit resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians and cops. Upon his arrival his hotel room is blown up as well as much of the remainder of the two floors above and beneath his room. Bret is in his villa at the beach with men on a boat firing machine guns at him. Life is normal for him, but no one else as he uses his contacts to discover that the emeralds are part of a smuggling operation based in Columbia. Bret travels to Columbia, dodging a myriad of people wanting him dead, in search of the emeralds knowing each step closer to his objective is one step closer to death. Action and adventure in an Indian Jones type of way is the essence of the first Lamplighter caper. Bret enters a world where it is impossible to tell friend from foe so he assumes everyone is his enemy except French operative Abby Duchamps, sent to spy on his activities; is attracted to him as he is attracted to and she is determined to keep him alive. They are cute together which enhances the well developed lead character, making him more approachable, in C.J. Westwick's wild thriller.

Stones of Abraxas
K. Osborn Sullivan
ISBN: 1932815767, $13.95, 367 pp.

When humans started hunting and killing the magic races and those humans who had magical powers, a spell of separation was performed using five magical gems held together by a golden shield. The spell split one world into two: Terra where non magicals lived and Abraxas where centaurs, gargoyles, elves, frogs (yes frogs) and humans born with magic reside. The Stanhope family is transported from Terra to Abraxas using the magic ruby found in the attic of their home. Adrian the Deceiver, a magician who practices the black arts, has in his possession four of the five gems and would kill anyone who gets in his way while he gains control of the last one from the Stanhopes. With all five jewels, he would be able to conquer Abraxas and Terra and it is up the Stanhope children Amanda and David to stop him if they can. Young adults as well as older readers who appreciate a good fantasy will thoroughly enjoy the spellbinding tale of the STONES OF ABRAXAS. Although young and playful with a tendency to get into mischief, Amanda and David have a purity about them that allows them to fight the forces of evil. These characters are so easy to like that readers will root for them to defeat the villain, no matter how hopeless it seems. K. Osborn Sullivan has the magical touch when it comes to writing great young adult fantasy.

The Witch of Agnesi
Robert Spiller
ISBN: 1932815724, $9.99

In Colorado, East Plains middle school teacher Bonnie Pinkwater works with the intelligentsia, but for the first time in a decade, they failed to finish in the top three at the Knowledge Bowl competition. Just after their crushing loss, the team's thirteen years old star Peyton Newlin vanishes. Everyone presumes that the teen ran away than have to face his abusive martinet of a father Colonel Ralph. Peyton's parents blame the defeat and their son's cowardly reaction squarely on Bonnie. The next morning someone murders brilliant student Stephanie Templeton. Feeling already a bit culpable but not sure why, Bonnie with the help of science teacher Armen Callahan, who is falling in love with her, begin investigating the disappearance and the homicide, which they believe is linked by a scholarship competition, but how is unclear. Other students die including Peyton while Bonnie and Armen seek the truth leaning towards violent student bully Jesse Poole though a coven of witches remain a prime suspect. THE WITCH OF AGNESI is a terrific teenage amateur sleuth starring a likable pairing trying to uncover who is eliminating the geniuses one at a time. The story line is fast-paced yet contains a strong cast though clearly Bonnie is the star. The mystery is cleverly devised and filled with twists and red herrings as Robert Spiller keeps his audience alert at all times as he shrewdly spills clues with multiple possibilities. Young adult readers will enjoy this wonderful middle school mystery.

Phil Bowie
ISBN: 1932815597, $6.99

Off the North Carolina coast, Coast Guard Mate Ruben Dixon calls Sam Bass to ask him to search for the Osprey caught at sea by a storm. Though the weather is horrendous Sam flies into the storm and spots the ship giving the Coast Guard the coordinates. Ralph and Adele Stilley are rescued just before their vessel sinks. Raleigh Sentinel reporter Ira Cohn and TV news anchor Samantha Blackstone were sharing a tryst on the barrier island when they heard the story. They interview Sam, who becomes a national hero. However, instead of enjoying his fifteen minutes of fame, Sam finds his past has returned with a vengeance. Thugs arrive to kill "The Cowboy", but instead murder his beloved Valerie, a Cherokee widow and mother of a young boy. Vowing revenge, Sam travels to see Valerie's Cherokee grandfather to tell him what happened, but soon becomes a willing student to his mentor learning the old fashion Indian way of meting out justice. GUNS comes out of the gate on all cylinders as the mysterious Bass saves the lives of the Stilleys and keeps the fast pace going until the final avenging confrontation occurs even with sidebars involving aircraft, gun running and the Cherokee Nation. The cast is solid especially Sam, but when Phil Bowie dwells on his past, the story line loses some momentum though it also explains why he is a target. Still this is an interesting thriller starring a fascinating laconic protagonist who's obsessed with a bloodthirsty mission.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter
Kim Edwards
ISBN: 0143037145, $14.00

In 1964 Lexington, Kentucky the snowstorm made traveling impossible so orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Henry delivers his fraternal twins in his home when his beloved wife Norah goes into labor. The boy is healthy but his sister has Down syndrome. Unable to cope with her imperfection as a result of a poor West Virginia childhood in which his sister died from a heart condition as a preadolescent, David orders his nurse, Caroline Gill to take the infant to a home. He tells Norah who recovers from the anesthesia that Paul's twin died at birth. Caroline refuses to dump little Phoebe at the horribly looking shelter so she takes her to Pittsburgh. Over the next two decades plus, David wallows in guilt while Norah never recovered from her loss. They still mourn the deceased child. Paul struggles with growing up in a dysfunctional family and misses his sister in some deep rooted way that only twins can share. The three prime players realistically feel the loss of Phoebe even twenty-fives after David did his ignoble deed; that is the essence of a solid story line as the tale focuses on the broken relationships between the three Henrys, who all carry emotional baggage. This is an interesting family drama in which a pivotal decision to avoid pain leads to so much more heartache. Though the final confrontation seems shallow compared to the one just prior between David and a pregnant teen, and with the quarter of a century lie, readers will be fascinated by the Henry's struggle to find some harmony.

The Dark Backward
Julia Buckley
Midnight Ink
ISBN: 0738708267, $13.95

While investigating the homicide of Emily Martin, police officer Emily Martin and her partner Danny Donovan are killed in the line of duty. While Danny stayed dead, Lily's death lasted seven and a half minutes before she returns to the living. While dead, she visualizes their killer, state Governor Robert ("Nob") Stevens. No one including her superior Tony Paluzzi believes her assertion as they cannot imagine the most powerful person in their state resorting to murder. Counseling fails the help her as her obsession remains that Nob killed Danny and almost her. Finally at thirty she is fired as incompetent. Lily's only hope for redemption lies with her husband Gray, but he too does not accept her contention; thus the mother of a small child feels all alone and is filing for divorce. Refusing to back down, Lily begins an inquiry into the motive and finding the evidence that proves the governor killed Danny. With a touch of the paranormal to enhance an intriguing psychological investigative tale, THE DARK BACKWARD is a fascinating well written novel that grips the audience from start to finish. The story line is fast-paced but clearly driven by the beleaguered heroine who is as alone as a person can be as she seeks the truth while everyone who knows her assumes she is crazy. Julia Buckley provides a riveting suspense thriller.

Janni Visman
ISBN: 0452287391, $13.00

Though having a decent client list of rich despondent middle-aged women, aromatherapist Stella never leaves her home as she is agoraphobic. She has established a routine out of her house so that she can live comfortably albeit restrained as she knows one step outside has her panicking. Since she has made herself a virtual prisoner with her being her own warden, she also now fears gas leaks, her latest phobia. She hires someone to remove anything that uses it and replaces it with safe electricity. While the repairman Ivan completes the job, Stella seduces the hunk. He moves in with the phobic woman that night though she establishes the rules of their arrangement. Stella finds her lifestyle immensely improved as he provides her easier access to the outsiders. However, when he returns to her home one day wearing a gold-plated ID bracelet given to him from his former girlfriend, Stella gets a bit further unhinged. She begins to seek other evidence that Ivan is stepping out on her and finds plenty of evidence in his belongings. She persuades Skye to trail Ivan when he leaves the house even as her routines unravel because she tries to emulate the photo she found amongst his possessions. YELLOW is a wonderful psychological thriller that takes place over five days in the same locale as the heroine's perfect routines that never deviates (think six sigma but to an infinite level) begin to unravel leading to doubts, accidents, and much more. The key to this finely plotted tale is whether Stella has lost her groove and her grip on reality or is Ivan perhaps abetted by Skye is driving her insane. Fans will read Janni Visman's powerful character driven novel in one stark sitting.

Salaam, Paris
Kavita Daswani
ISBN: 0452287464, $14.00

After seeing Audrey Hepburn star in the original Sabrina, Tanaya Shah yearns to visit Paris, which looked so enticing and exciting in the movie, but knows her Muslim family would never allow her to go especially unescorted to the decadent west. When her family arranges for her to marry Tariq Khan, who already lives in Paris, Tanaya agrees with one stipulation; they meet in Paris before they wed to see if they are reasonably compatible. He is her ticket to seeing Sabrina's world. However, Tanaya proves devious as she has no plans to marry her chosen mate. Instead she ditches him and the wedding plans to become part of the city. Shockingly, Tanaya becomes a highly regarded supermodel, but her behavior as she hobnobs with the decadent music and modeling industries lead to her family disowning it her. When she meets Tariq again, she has second thoughts about her blithe decision to dump him as she now wants to marry him and through him reconcile with her family, but fears he will not forgive her. SALAAM, PARIS is a well written character study that plays out on two levels; on the one hand it is a coming of age tale while on the other it is a clash between traditional values and outside values in a shrinking world. Though Tanaya seems a bit selfish with how she initially treats Tariq, readers will forgive her as they realize that she did not mean to hurt him or disobey her family,; all she wanted was to see Paris through the eyes of her heroine. Tanaya is right that if you have not seen the original Sabrina you are missing a great romance.

The Bullet Trick
Louise Welsh
841 Broadway, New York, N.Y.10003
ISBN: 1841957941, $23.00

Though he has never made it past being the opening act to strippers, fans who see William Wilson perform magic believe he is one of the best even if he seems outdated with his trite stunts like hacking the woman into pieces. He takes work where he can so his agent Rich Banks gets him a gig to conjure up a trick or two in a dumpy Soho club. It turns out that the bartender Sam Rosensweet is an old friend who asks the Conjurer to hold onto some documents for him. He later learns that Sam and an associate are dead. Wilson imagines a double homicide over the documents he possesses so is elated when Rich gets him work in Berlin, There he meets Sylvie the dancer who he finds quite attractive though she seems somewhat aloof on a personal level while helping him put together his new act. However, as he hides in Berlin, he knows London and Glasgow where he ditched the papers await his second act. Though there are too many minor subplots, overall this is a superb noir in which the not tough hero represents a deep cynicism about life as he overuses cheap tricks enhanced by pick-pocketing people to conjure up his seedy act. Clearly this is Wilson's tale as he is in over his head, but knows he has no choice but to play with the cards dealt him though they are marked and the game rigged with double crosses. Fans who appreciate an antiheroic whoosh mindful of Rollie Tyler of F/X will enjoy the amateur sleuth investigation by a two bit magician.

21 Steps to Happiness
E. G. Gerson
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895836, $13.95

Though she knows she earned the position in Paris on her own, Lynn realizes being the offspring of fashion world all time greats helped as she is now the public relations specialist for fashion designer Muriel B. However, Lynn quickly realizes that her client is fortunate to have talent because her antics would normally leave someone like her undergoing treatment at an asylum. Lynn adjusts to working for the mad woman of Paris, but detests that no one sees her skills as she remains Jodie's daughter. She also struggles with her out of control personal life in which she desires Nicholas the "Angel" and likes the "Hub" who thinks she is the one. To cope with her DNA, her boss, and her two potential lovers, Lynn turns to the self help reference book 21 STEPS TO HAPPINESS. Lynn saves the tale from being an ultra lighthearted chick lit story (has the sub-genre trimmings, lists and all) as she brings freshness to the mix with her need to be more than just "Jodie's daughter" but soon takes to heart step 1: "never be ashamed of who you are". Readers will root for her to find herself, the right man, and kick some fashionable butt on her quest of 21 STEPS TO HAPPINESS.

Me vs. Me
Sarah Mlynowski
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895887, $13.95

In Phoenix, Gabby Wolf has an opportunity of a lifetime as a TV news producer at TRSN in New York City. Just prior to her departure her boyfriend attorney Cam suddenly proposes with the assumption that she will accept and not have to move to the Big Apple. As they make love in the desert Gabby feels like is unfair making her choose between two things she wants with all her heart. The next day Gabby wakes up in her house unable to figure out she got home last night. She begins her last preparations before the move. Later she awakens again, but this time she is in the back of Cam's truck in the desert. As she finds herself living two lives, one in New York and the other in Arizona, neither life feels fulfilling as each lacks a key ingredient that her other self has. Confused she knows she must choose one life over the other, but which one as both has flaws. ME VS. ME is a fascinating thought provoking yet humorous chick lit science fiction tale in which the heroine rotates between two lifelines learning that neither is quite complete without the other. The story line is terrific as a bewildered Gabby gets her cake and eats it too, but learns that sometimes you better watch what you wish for as she finds the parts fail to equal the whole. Mindful of Piers Anthony' Apprentice Adept first trilogy, readers will enjoy this creative entertaining tale.

Letter Perfect
Cathy Marie Hake
Bethany House
ISBN: 0764201654, $13.99

In 1859 Ruth Caldwell has tried to live up to her mother's expectations that she become a refined lady, but all the klutzy woman has to show for her efforts is being thrown out of several finishing schools as a helpless cause. However, the return home to St. Louis is not filled with embarrassment over her latest failure; instead she finds her beloved mother dying of consumption. Being a lady no longer matters as she becomes a caretaker and companion until her mom passes away six months later. Her mom's last dying wish was for Ruth to see her biological father in California. Though she would rather not, Ruth adheres to her deathbed pledge only to find her dad dead too and she a part owner of the Broken P Ranch, along with her father's partner, the patriarch of the McCain brood. Josh McCain helped Ruth's father kick alcohol and to find the Lord. He wants Ruth to claim what is rightfully her, but someone thinks otherwise as she is the source of questionable accidents that he believes are deliberate; Josh plans to keep her safe. Cathy Marie Hake smoothly combines a fine whodunit with a warm romance inside an inspirational Americana tale. Ruth is a delightful protagonist trying to please others, but failing because she does not please herself; that changes when she meets Josh, who "introduces" her to the Lord, love, and her late father. The support cast is solid while the villain is in plain sight but easily overlooked. Readers will enjoy this fine historical cozy that paints a picture of faith on several levels in God, in one's self and in one's soulmate.

The Man She Thought She Knew
Shari Shattuck
ISBN: 1416516689, $13.00

Callaway "Cally" Wilde looks forward to exchanging I do with LAPD undercover Detective Evan Paley. However, she becomes upset when he hides a phone call from her. Still naked having come out of her shower, she hears gunshots downstairs. She investigates carrying Evan's gun only to find the corpse of a stranger in her kitchen and Evan missing. She notifies Evan's partner Curtis, who tells her nothing as to why her hunk has been abducted and $3 million seems quite a ransom price for a cop albeit even one she loves. When she begins receiving clues by email and phone to Evan's whereabouts, Cally decides she must rescue her boyfriend. She follows the clues even as Curtis tells her to stay out of it and let him handle it. Unable to abide by his advice, Cally becomes befuddled when Evan's former girlfriend seems the center of the maelstrom. As always the latest Cally escapade is LOADED with LETHAL fun as she personally tries to rescue her beloved partly out of guilt because of her thoughts about his secrecy just before he was kidnapped and partly because she cannot help herself. Getting actively involved is the norm for incautious courageous Cally. Shari Shattuck provides a lighthearted amateur sleuth frolic, as Cally takes on her lover, his police peers, thugs, corpses, and the city of Los Angeles in an effort to save THE MAN SHE THOUGHT SHE KNEW.

Emperor's Children
Claire Messud
ISBN: 030726419X, $25.00

They became friends at brown University and remain close almost a decade later. At college, each thought they would make it to the big time in the chosen endeavor before they turned thirty. However, they remain struggling and much of their youthful enthusiasm and confidence is replaced by despondency and fears of failure as thirty is just around the corner. Danielle Minkoff struggles to make it as a TV documentary maker; Julius Clarke is failing as a freelance critic; wannabe author Marina Thwaite resides with her parents while her work "The Emperor's Children Have No Clothes" remains somewhat bare. Still they have each other, which keep them from going to far over to the dark side. That is until the Australian Ludovic courts Marina as a means to destroy her father who he hates and Marina's cousin pseudo-intellect Frederick "Bootie" Tubb enters the group. Claire Messud brings Richard Sheridan's satirical play on manners The School for Scandal from late eighteenth century London to post 9-11 New York as the author skews the pretentiousness of locals that insist Manhattan is the center of the universe. The cast is a delightful ensemble, who live up to the title of Marina's non-book as each is literally stripped bare (think Carlisle's clothing theory of man). This is an intelligent amusing stripping away of the affectations used by society to hide flaws and blemishes.

The Devil's Feather
Minette Walters
ISBN: 0307264629, $24.00

In Baghdad in 2004, thirty six years old Reuters' war correspondent Connie Burns is stunned when she spots British mercenary Keith Mackenzie training Iraqi police. She recognizes the instructor from an assignment in Sierra Leone two years before where she thinks he raped and killed local women. Irate that she plans to expose him, out of control Mackenzie abducts, tortures, and rapes the journalist before freeing her with a warning that he will always be near to provide her a second lesson. Connie goes into shock unable to tell anyone what Mackenzie did to her. Needing to mentally heal, she returns to her home in rustic Dorset. She makes friends though it is really that her neighbors Dr. Peter Coleman and fellow recluse Jess Derbyshire refuse to allow her to wallow by herself. With their help she begins to regain her self-esteem and equilibrium, hoping to prepare for when Mackenzie using some other name as he has in the past will come to reeducate her. As always Minette Walters provides an intense psychological suspense thriller that grips readers from the opening moments as the villain takes away a sense of purpose and freedom from the reporter. The tale never slows down as Connie tries to recover mentally from his assault while knowing deep in her soul he is coming for her which keeps readers in a state of anticipation awaiting their showdown. THE DEVIL'S FEATHER is Ms. Walters at her tense writing best.

Another Green World
Richard Grant
ISBN: 0307263592, $24.95

In 1944, bureaucrat Martina Panich uncovers a document that affirms that the Nazis are methodically killing Jews as the Final Solution. Millions have died apparently and many more will follow if the Allies continue to do nothing. However, the Allied leadership rationalizing insists there is no undeniable proof that the Germans are mass murdering the Jews so they ignore the issue. Martina learns the hard proof is held by former Brooklynite turn Polish resistance fighter, Isaac "the Fox" Tadziewski. Coincidentally Martina and her friend DC restaurateur Ingo Miller met Isaac at a youth rally fifteen years ago in the Weimer Republic. Martina and Ingo enlist the help of everyday people dubbed the Varian Fry Brigade to find Isaac in enemy held territory in order to steal the document to bring to the attention of the reluctant allies, who like the Nazis wants this group of commandoes to fail. The fourth member of the 1929 youth meeting, embedded with the Red Army reporter Sammy Butler also seeks the document. When the tale follows the exploits of the fearsome foursome as they comer closer and closer to converging, ANOTHER GREEN WORLD is a superb WWII thriller. When the story line digresses with lengthy soliloquies on a variety of period piece subjects not directly related to the plot, it loses much of its bounce though the topics are fascinating sidebars. Still this is a deep thriller that is at its best when it stays on topic of making a moral plea through a historical perspective to not bury heads in the sand when Rwanda, Darfur or other genocides occur.

The Keep
Jennifer Egan
ISBN: 1400043921, $24.00

Wealthy retired bond trader thirty four years old Howie buys a castle in Austria, Germany or the Czech Republic, as he is not sure which country hosts his new (make that old) abode. He sends a plane ticket to his thirty-six years old party hardy cousin Danny to come over from New York to help renovate the dump into a luxurious hotel. Needing to leave town as he has alienated some mean dudes, Danny flies to Europe though he fears that Howie might still have lingering resentment from a prank he pulled over two decades ago when he deserted him in a cave where he almost died. At least that is what Ray insists happened while attending a prison writing workshop. Is Ray writing fiction or providing a real account of something that happened to him that led to his drug addiction? His prison writing teacher Holly needs to know. THE KEEP is a strange tale that has the audience wondering what is real as the narrative rotates between Danny's central European adventures and Ray's prison time. Real or not, the cast seems genuine whether they are a figment of Ray's imagination or his recall of true people perhaps himself; either way the audience believes that Ray, Danny, Howie, and Holly are three dimensional characters; ironically some of their escapades seem over the top. Readers who appreciate something entirely different will want to peruse Jennifer Egan's fine thriller that questions reality in a digital age.

Summer at Willow Lake
Susan Wiggs
ISBN: 0778323250, $7.99

Needing to get away from her mom and her third failed fiance Randall the user, designer Olivia Bellamy agrees to renovate the closed family owned Camp Kioga in Avalon, New York up in the Catskills to celebrate her grandparents' fiftieth anniversary. She hires successful local contractor Davis Contracting and Construction owned by Connor Davis to do much of the labor, but is hurt when "Easy Rider" fails to recognize that Olivia is "Lolly", the girl whose heart he broke a decade ago. He desires his employer until he realizes who she is. She would not listen to him when he needed her and concludes that is because she is socially above his level, as the local son of a drunk. Olivia knows he failed to show up at their tryst breaking her heart and making her fear commitment though she is no longer the fat girl he rejected. As they share a love-hate summer, neither is willing to open up to the other about how they feel and what they think went down over a decade ago, which means dejà vu as this relationship is doomed to fail again. The prime reason this is an excellent contemporary romance is that author Susan Wiggs keeps to her prime focus, a second chance at love, throughout the tale, avoiding the trapping of adding phony suspense for instance. The story line effortlessly switches between the present and 1977 so that the audience understands the "hate" side of the relationship between the lead characters as Olivia and Connor are a fine pairing as each interpret what happened their first time as budding teen lovers differently. Readers who appreciate a strong relationship drama will want to spend leisure time at Willow Lake.

Dead Silence
Brenda Novak
ISBN: 0778323285, $6.99

In Stillwater, being the daughter of white trash, Grace Montgomery knows she has no future here by the way everyone either scorns her or leers at her. She has decided the first chance she gets she will leave her hometown to forge a future somewhere else where no one knows about her DNA; thus she began her rise in a greasy spoon in Jackson, but soon won scholarships to Iowa and Georgetown law school. Grace succeeds, but now thirteen years later has returned home to resolve the event in her past that left her shrouded in mystery when the Reverend vanished eighteen years ago, humiliation and the tag that the acorn does not fall far from the tree occurred. However, she quickly learns that here unlike the outside she remains what she was when she left, white trash. Rising politician widower Kennedy Archer thinks otherwise as he is attracted to Grace and admires her spunk and ethics. However, he also knows by seeing her, his political career could die before it blossoms. Worse she knows that too. DEAD SILENCE is a fascinating family drama in which events that are almost two decades old still haunt those left behind by what happened. The story line creates the atmosphere of a laid back town while introducing the key players especially the lead couple. Though that enables the reader to get deep inside everyone's head, however, that twisting pace also leaves little room for action until the latter segment of the novel. Thus not for everyone, fans who enjoy an insightful character study will want to know what happened in Stillwater that some residents prefer to remain concealed.

Coldwater Revival
Nancy Jo Jenkins
River Oak
ISBN: 1589190610, $12.99

In 1933, three weeks before Emma Grace Falin is to marry Gavin O'Donnell, she heads home to Two Toe Creek to confront her past. She knows if she fails to reconcile with the death of her younger brother she cannot offer her full heart to the deserving Gavin. Five years may have passed since the incident that shaped her, but Emma still mourns the loss and feels guilty for causing it. She has even shunned God. Five years ago her family also devastated by the death, cannot cope with Emma, who wants to die. They send her to Galveston praying her grandmother will help her heal. There she meets Tate, who has suffered the loss of loved ones, but still believes snugly in the Lord and lives life to the fullest. Tate knows he loves Grace, but hides his feelings from her as he knows she is not ready for a relationship. Now she is engaged to someone else, but he trusts that God will show both of them the way. Besides a strong look at the healing process, this deep inspirational tale provides a powerful sense of time and locale as the audience obtains a taste of Texas during the Depression. Emma is a wonderful protagonist as she holds the historical drama together with her first person account of the past and present. The support cast, predominantly seen through their respective relationships with Emma, augments the audience's understanding that the lead character lacks confidence in her self, her family, and the Lord as she struggles to understand why bad things happen to good people.

Settling the Accounts: The Grapple
Harry Turtledove
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345457250, $26.95

When the Confederacy won the War Between the States, the country broke into the USA and the CSA. During the Great War, the USA defeated the CSA and occupied the land until it was disarmed. Over time and in secrecy, the Confederacy rebuilt its militia and humiliated by its defeat enabled Jake Featherston and his Freedom party to come into power by promising that the CSA would never suffer the debasement of defeat ever again to their enemy to the north. In 1941 President Featherston declares war on the USA; for two years his forces win victory after victory pushing deep into Ohio and Pennsylvania. However, by 1943, the USA armies begin to repel the invaders from occupied land and soon head into Kentucky and Tennessee. Negroes, who were ruthlessly placed in concentration camps hope the USA will free them. Fearing for the CSA, Featherston places his funding on a new weapon of mass destruction, a bomb like none ever seen before. SETTLING ACCOUNTS: THE GRAPPLE is Harry Turtledove at his best. Jake is a Hitleresque dictator with his Freedom party a Nazi replica and the Negroes treated like the Jews in Germany. The novel is loaded with action especially battle scenes shown from differing perspectives, which makes the cast seem purposely insignificant as individuals are part of a cast of zillions while death is a statistic of war. Thus the war is the main character in Mr. Turtledove's excellent alternative historical thriller.

The Blood Knight
Greg Keyes
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345440684, $25.95

King William Dare of Crotheny is dead, murdered by his kin Robert, who holds the monarch's widow Muriele prisoner. The late ruler's daughter Princess Anne flees from her undead Uncle Robert. The kingdom is now ruled by insanity and death as the darkest of magic spreads its lethal web across the beleaguered landscape. The demonic race is back to re-enslave the descendents of Virginia Dare and her lost colony of Roanoke followers. Princess Anne's attempts to remain free fail when monks catch her in her quest to start the counter revolt against her uncle. Her hope resides with her allies, but they too struggle with life and death confrontations. Sir Neil knows he leads his knights into certain death in battle, but that might be a boon compared to Leoffrey, Stephen and Aspar who separately face horrors never seen before like Robert's maniacal wrath, his even crazier allies, and the Waurm. This may be the bleakest moment for The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone in over two millennia, perhaps since Genia Dare led the successful revolt against the god-like Stasloi slavers. THE BLOOD KNIGHT is an excellent epic fantasy that will be on the short lists of sub-genre fans as one of the best novels of the year. The story line is action-packed (perhaps too much so as scenes shift quickly between the heroes and villains) from the first rejected rose through incredible intermediate subplots of magical and mundane duels and battles until the final confrontation between good and evil. There are many shockers in this high fantasy, including the deaths of a hero. This will keep the audience on alert status as Greg Keyes is in top form. Though somewhat a stand alone, newcomers would be better suited reading the first two tales (see THE BRIAR KING and THE CHARNEL PRINCE) to add to the tasty mix of a superb tale.

Honored Enemy
Raymond E. Feist & William R. Forstchen
ISBN: 0060792833, $13.95, 336 pp.

When the magical rift gate opened onto the world of Midkemia, the Tsurani army poured through the portal intent on conquest. They viewed the inhabitants as barbaric and sent healthy prisoners back to the homeworld as slaves. Their homeworld is metal poor so the rulers and their clan leaders need to possess and mine the land. On the day they passed through the gate, they destroyed the Keep of Vahinar killing the father, grandfather and wife of Dennis Hartraft. Nine years into the war, Hartraft hates all the invaders with a passion and his goal is to kill all who were involved in the deaths of his family. He and his patrol the Marauders are behind enemy lines, set to strike until they realize the Dark Brothers (elves) are stalking them and the Tsurani. The leader of the enemy force leader Asayaga reluctantly join forces to evade the large horde even though they are mortal enemies and warfare between the two groups threatens to breakout at any time. Only if the two camps can lay aside their differences is there a chance to come out of their situation alive. When enemies work together against a more dangerous foe, a bond develops in spite of themselves. Both Hartraft and Asayaga are truly heroic figures because they are able to put aside nine years of prejudice and war to defend themselves against the enemy from without and within. Readers learn how Asayaga really feels about the war and why he believes he is a puppet on a string dancing to the tune of his superiors who are snug and safe back home. There is a lot of action in this terrific and entertaining fantasy but it is the characters that make this book a winner.

Second Wave
Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
ISBN: 0060525401, $24.95, 309 pp.

Khorii is a member of the Linyaari race created from the DNA material of a unicorn sentient species rescued from Old Terra by the Ancestral Friends, a shapeshifting, time traveling space voyaging race. She, like all Linyaari, has a horn that heals her people and humans. Khorii follows in the footsteps of her famous Mother Acorna by discovering a new way to heal an entire planet from a plague that killed billions (see FIRST WARNING). Now the Linyaari are mopping up as the plague seems to have finally burned itself out; Khorii is in the thick of the operation as she is only one who can see the plague. On planets where the plague has been reported, strange phenomena occur. The ghosts of dead plague victims appear and inorganic objects abruptly implode. Khorii and her newfound twin, who traveled from far back in time to be reunited with her family who never knew she existed, must figure out what is going on before civilization comes to a halt in a very large inhabited sector of the galaxy. What makes this series special is the reader is thoroughly immersed in the Linyaari culture. SECOND WAVE picks up where FIRST WAVE left off and proves exciting and past-paced though newcomers should start with the previous tale first as references are frequent to the events in that thriller. The heroine, though young, is a feisty fighter willing to do what it takes to save worlds and those who live on them though this time a sense of foreboding that Khorii and readers feel climaxes into a shocking final revelation.

Karin Slaughter
ISBN: 0385339461, $25.00

Atlanta homicide detective Michael Ormewood knows he is bone weary and probably suffering from battle fatigue syndrome from working with the city's underclass in the city's poorest neighborhoods like Grady. His wife Gina, a nurse, and Michael raise a mentally impaired son Tim so though he loves both his relief from work is limited at home. Michael is investigating the brutal murder of a young prostitute in Grady. However, before he can get very far into his inquiries, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation claims control because the culprit sliced off the victim's tongue, linking it to a serial killer. GBI Investigator Will Trent believes the prime suspect is sex offender John Shelley, who just was paroled after a conviction for a violent crime when the tongue murders began. Moving away from Grant County for this stand alone inner city police procedural, Karin Slaughter provides her audience with an exciting tale that contains a major twist as well as a switch from the first person narration of Michael to that of John once the case changes lead. The story line is fast-paced and fun to follow especially the latter half as John follows clues. Though the ending seems obvious Ms. Slaughter's fans will appreciate her suspenseful trek into Atlanta.

Puccini's Ghosts
Morag Joss
ISBN: 038533978X, $22.00

When her father dies, retired opera chorister, Lila DuCann, returns to her hometown Burnhead, Scotland to attend his funeral. She has been away from the town for years and has not seen her dad in a long time. Thus when she grieves her loss she is taken aback as memories of 1960, the fateful "Turandot Summer" when she was fifteen years old, flow freely. Her lunatic thirtyish Uncle George Pettifer, a London music teacher, obstinately decides to direct a local production of Puccini's opera Turandot starring Lila's mom Florence "Fleur" Duncan as the title character and Lila in the support female role as slave girl Liu. Local amateur musicians and singers round out the cast. Thus only Fleur had any real experience and she never moved far up the singer's food chain. However Fleur felt she was just one song from being discovered and being treated like a pampered adored Prima Donna. To provide some quality, George brings his London friend Joe Foscari to serve as the male lead. Lila falls in love her first crush, but the failed presentation only highlighted the flop of her family leading to a tragedy and a teen in exile from her home. PUCCINI'S GHOSTS is a terrific drama that grips readers as they wonder what happened in the summer of 1960 that destroyed a family. As Lila tells the tale from her perspective looking back to when she was a teen, fans will soon wonder whether she can delineate reality from a fantasy created perhaps out of FEARFUL SYMMETRY of what is truth. Morag Joss provides a virtuoso performance (sans Sara Selkirk) with the attendees listening to FUNERAL MUSIC and knowing first hand about dreams of HALF BROKEN THINGS.

Simply Love
Mary Balogh
ISBN: 038533883X, $22.00

Twenty-nine-year-old Anne Jewell may be a pariah in some circles as an unwed mother to nine year old David, but she enjoys her independence and teaching at Miss Martin's School for Girls, a place with a well earned reputation of providing a fine academic education to girls from all social classes. Her only friend from a decade ago when she fled Wales, Marquess Joshua Moore and his wife wants to acknowledge David as their cousin. They invite Anne and David to spend the summer at the Bewcastle estate in Wales where she once was governess and home to David's father. Aristocrat Sydnam Butler wears a patch to cover the eye he lost in the Peninsula Wars, but has nothing to hide his missing right limb. He has become a recluse, but earns his bread as steward to the Duke of Bewcastle. Neither Sydnam or Anne are in the market for a spouse; however neither anticipated the kindhearted Bewcastle clan having enlisted David as one of them deciding that this mentally wounded pair make a perfect match. However, in spite of their efforts, it remains a question of whether Anne or Sydnam trust love nurtured in a style unlike what either once dreamed of. This is a terrific Regency romance starring two delightful protagonists who have suffered in life, but with the help of others may have found happiness if they can step outside the barriers that traumas have placed around their hearts. The delightful plot is a simple love story made complex by the insecurities and loneliness of Sydnam and Anne. Mary Balogh is at her Regency best with this strong SIMPLY LOVE tale.

Secret Society Girl
Diana Peterfreund
ISBN: 0385340021, $23.00

Literary magazine editor Amy Haskel is a junior attending the prestigious Ivy League school Eli University. Eli's literary society, Quill & Ink ask her to join, which the ambitious student knows is the perfect addition to her resume. However, instead of the Quill & Ink members showing up to escort Amy to an inductee ceremony cloaked men "kidnap" her. She does not panic and soon is given the opportunity to join the most exclusive "club" on campus, the Rose & Grave better known by its memberships as Diggers. She accepts though Quill & Ink would be better for her resume and future. However, some alumni and current Diggers object to females in their once exclusive male ranks. They will do anything to drive the new females out, but had not counted on the seemingly timid and shy Amy obstinately remaining a member. Though more of a teen coming of age tale rather than a thriller involving secret societies whose alumni run the country and much of the world, Diana Peterfreund's opening Ivy League tale is a fun lighthearted look at college. Amy initially seems to have her roadmap to success set up perfect until the abduction displays her anxiety and timidity, which seems real, but also takes away from the strength of the plot: being inducted into the secret society as she just does not appear ready for that step. Still this is a fine look at the goings on at school and hopefully by the next tale, the heroine wears rubber underwear and acts with poise and strength as she takes readers inside the secret society.

Crazy Love
Tara Janzen
ISBN: 0440242789, $6.99

Back in Denver at the Special Defense Forces (SDF) top secret facility, Dylan Hart wonders if he should have stayed overseas though he still is recovering from the captivity and drugging by Hamzah Negara. That assignment now seems like a church social because Dylan finds home has a bigger problem for him to evade; his desire for new member 5'8' sexy pink Skeeter Bang. Still he has no choice but to be home as his cohorts are tied up with dangerous missions though he wonders if his is more lethal as he has to cop with Skeeter who makes him hot just with one look. However, he needs her as his only available backup with Negara reportedly coming to the States to cause trouble and his assignment to steal and bury a top secret file; this fits into her plan to seduce the man she loves Dylan. He, in turn will not admit he needs her in his bed too except when he argues with himself over his desire for her. When all hell breaks loose placing both in danger, which it does at a DC reception, Dylan will be forced to face the truth about his inner passion. The latest Crazy tale is just that a crazy romantic suspense that never slows down from the first encounter until the final escapade (that is between Dylan and Skeeter). The action-packed story line moves forward rather quickly as Dylan tries to ignore his desire while Skeeter tries to embellish on his desire at the same time they deal with terrorist. Filled with action, adventure, and sex inside a well written thriller; what more can a reader ask for besides another Crazy tale.

The Side Effect
Bob Reiss
ISBN: 0440243084, $6.99, 480 pp.

When Chairman Dwyer of Lenox Pharmaceuticals apparently commits suicide leaving a note behind saying "I'm lonely", his security chief Mike Acela doesn't believe it. From the moment he sees the body, he senses that his mentor was murdered or forced to commit suicide. He finds a list and on it there is a note to give Mike a disk which Mikee never received. He turns the list over to the police and FBI agent Eisner believes he and Dwyer were traitors to the U.S. and intends to prove it. Meanwhile, Mike's private investigation team finds information on a drug HR 190 that the company is trying to synthesize. The new CEO of the company fired much on the old guard including Mike but he and a loyal cadre of friends keep digging to find a link between a series of resignations in Washington culminating in the president leaving office and the new drug. Their replacements are all ultra right wing. These are fundamentalist heavy hitters in office now who could change the face of world politics unless Mike can figure out what the drug does, how to destroy it and expose the conspirators without getting killed in the process. Conspiracy buffs will thoroughly enjoy, THE SIDE EFFECT, a thriller that shows just how ruthless some politicians and armed forces commanders can be to achieve their goals. The hero is caught in a whirlwind, traveling blindly down a road hoping to get answers that make sense. Mike is a patriot in the truest sense of the world who wants to destroy a cabal that threatens the very ideals America was founded on by its forefathers.

Ladies' Man
Suzanne Brockmann
ISBN: 0440243653, $6.99

Yale Professor Ellen Layne and her TV host Uncle Bob Osborne wait for her Great Aunt Alma to land in New York. Ellen goes to a bookstore where a handsome stranger suggests she read anything by T.S. Harrison before he asks for her number; realizing he is ten years younger than her and that she had two teenage children, Jamie and Lydia, she refuses. Not long afterward, the man meets Bob, who thinks he is Harrison. Unable to get a word in otherwise, NYPD Detective Sam Schaeffer is introduced to Alma as her favorite author. Ellen gives him a ride in her uncle's Limo where Sam explains that T.S. is his best friend who could not make it, but neither Bob nor Alma would let him speak. Unable to resist, they make love in the back seat of the limo, but afterward she refuses to give him her number as she feels he is too young for her. T.S. explains to Bob what happened at the airport; Bob still wants the writer to do his biography. Ellen mentions a security breach, death threat letters and obscene calls. T.S. asks Sam to assess the danger. Sam believes the threat is towards Ellen, whose commercial just aired on TV. Later Sam is stunned when he meets her two kids, but handles it gracefully as he becomes their escort while someone dangerous stalks her and her kids. The relationship between the lead characters is passionate and adding to the freshness is she is a decade older than he. The support cast is solid as the teens are adjusted and Bob and T.S. are caring souls. The climax though containing a delightful twist and a five degrees spin seems abrupt, but readers will still appreciate this fine romantic suspense.

The Faithful Spy
Alex Berenson
Random House
ISBN: 0345478991, $24.95

Former American college football player, CIA operative John Wells infiltrates al-Qaeda. He proves invaluable to the organization in Afghanistan and works his way through the concentric circles until he attains the most inner most circle enabling him to meet with Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri. However, a side effect on the undercover intelligence officer is that he has become a devoted Muslim. Now al-Qaeda leader Khadri sends him home to bring the war to the west by setting in motion the steps needed to explode a dirty bomb in New York. The CIA has doubts about the loyalty of their rogue agent; that is everyone except his prime handler Jennifer Exley. However, suspicion grows when two bombs kill three hundred in Los Angeles leaving the CIA leadership to wonder if he turned, seduced Exley to join him, and what is his real objective? This is one of the best post 9-11 espionage thrillers on the market today as Alex Berenson makes the "bad guys" understandable and intelligent instead of some boorish cartoon caricature; Muslim fundamentalists know the west and how to play their enemy. Wells is a fabulous central figure as everyone including the audience wonders whose side is he on. Readers will want to know so set aside some time for a superb the spy comes home from the cold.

The Limehouse Text
Will Thomas
ISBN: 0743273354, $24.00

In 1885 Inspector Nevil Bainbridge visits enquiry agent Cyrus Barker holding a pawn ticket found sewed in a robe owned by the late Quong, who was Barker's assistant before Thomas Llewelyn. Confused as Quong had no secrets, but assuming his former assistant was just learning about western ways with trips to out of the way shops, Cyrus, Nevil and Thomas visit the pawn shop in the Chinatown Limehouse section of London. They learn the pawn store owner recently fell down a set of stairs and died, and someone broke into the shop. They retrieve a Chinese book so they next go to see Chinese cuisine Chef Ho for an interpretation of what they possess. He cautions them that the book is a sacred "hidden text of a boxing school" that should never have found its way to Europe. They soon learn first hand why Ho gave a "death touch" warning when several people, some willing to kill as Cyrus believes happened to the pawn shop owner and Quong, want to possess the book. THE LIMEHOUSE TEXT is a terrific Victorian mystery that pays homage to Holmes and Watson as did the two previous enquiry thrillers (see SOME DANGER INVOLVED and TO KINGDOM COME). The whodunit is fun though the killer seems obvious early on while readers will appreciate Cyrus's tour of 1880s Limehouse section where many Chinese expatriates lived. Sort of like a cross between Derek Flint (see movies IN LIKE FLINT and OUR MAN FLINT) and Holmes, readers especially the Baker Street Irregulars will enjoy Cyrus' latest escapades.

A Garden of Vapers
Jack Kerley
ISBN: 0525949526, $24.95

In Mobile, Alabama, two homicide detective teams hear the report from dispatch, each claims the case as theirs. Pace Logan and Tyree Shuttles drag race Carson Ryder and Harry Nautilus to the scene as first come investigates. At the crime sight, a slight scuffle occurs, but in the end partners Ryder and Nautilus take the lead on investigating the slashing murder of journalist, Taneesha Franklin. The next morning Carson learns that his girlfriend, TV reporter Dani Danbury was mentoring Taneesha at the station and the two women becaame close friends. The few clues the two sleuths uncover lead them to the wealthy scions of great society the philanthropic Kincannon family run by a steel magnolia matriarch whose unhinged sons have no regard for anyone else. The case takes weird spins as others involved with Taneesha died and someone else seems resolved to solve the homicide at any price leading Ryder and Nautilus to wonder if the dinosaur Logan is setting a pace to disrupt theirs even as the veteran team finds they too are targets of a seeming psychopath. The third Ryder-Nautilus police procedural is a solid whodunit that fans of the sub-genre will enjoy though it doesn't achieve the level of its predecessors (see THE HUNDREDTH MAN and THE DEATH COLLECTORS). The teammates still work well together, which becomes obvious when they are forced into a temporary separation. However, this time around all roads lead to the same center, A GARDEN OF VAPERS filled with the Kincannon brood. Thus fans of the series will be slightly disappointed as the anticipated chilling spin never comes; Jack Kerley has spoiled his fans as this novel is still a strong investigative tale.

Jeff Abbott
ISBN: 0525949720, $24.95

In Miami Miles Kendrick worked for the Barrada mob, but turned against them leading to his best friend's death and the FBI hiding him inside the federal witness protection program. He lives, a loose euphemism for it because many things are denied him. For instance he no longer drives a car out of a fear of a bombing, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Miles sees psychiatrist Dr. Allison Vance, who is trying to help him cope with what she has diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which developed after he inadvertently killed his best friend while assisting the FBI. Surprising Kendrick, Dr. Vance asks for his help, but soon after she is killed by an explosion in her office. He assumes the Barrada mob killed her, but learns she was involved with a new miracle drug Frost touted as curing PTSD; he craves trying the drug. However former FBI Agent Dennis Groote turned hitman has other plans for Kendrick, other Vance patients and Frost. If Kendrick fails to control his fears, he will be dead when he and Groote confront one another. Though fans will need to accept some of the escapades, this is a superb action thriller that grips the audience from the onset and never slows down until the final altercation as the readers do not know how the antihero will react in the crisis due to the crippling fear he feels. Kendrick's desperation to try a potentially dangerous drug to control his fears serves as a metaphor for those with severe illnesses willing to try anything immediately and not wait for FDA approval (besides which their recent record is not to healthy). The story line is action, more action, and super more action as Jeff Abbott provides his fans with a one sitting on the edge of your seat thriller.

Tucker Malarkey
ISBN: 159448919X, $24.95

In 1947 London, Bernard Westerly visits nurse Gemma Bastian asking her if her internationally famous archeologist father Charles sent her any packages for "safekeeping". She says no. Two mornings later the telex arrives from Cairo informing her that her dad died and that money has been sent for her to come to Cairo to bury his ashes. In Cairo, she heads to the house of Professor David Lezar, a colleague of her father. However, though he and others try to divert her from her father's last work, Gemma needs to see what he was dong. Soon she begins to suspect he was murdered perhaps by his friends. Finally trusting no one even the sons of David whom she is attracted to, Gemma learns that Charles' last project was finding the lost Gnostic Gospel written by Mary Magdalene with an emphasis on her relationship with Jesus; something the Church wants interred at any cost. Giving credit to Elaine Pagels (see THE GNOSTIC GOSPELS) and embellishing on a real discovery just after WWII, Tucker Malarkey writes a terrific Christian thriller that will hook the Brownian crowd and others from start to finish. The action-packed story line focuses on the discovery of ancient texts that could shake the foundation of organized western religions especially Christianity as Gemma begins to believe that Mary Magdalene was the first gospel. Her need to know what happened to her father and what he found on his final project make for a thrilling read as fans will consider what if in the first century AD.

The Begotten: A Novel of the Gifted
Lisa T. Bergren
ISBN: 0425210162, $23.95

Satan thinks the time is ripe for his dominion on earth. Thus in 1339, he sends one of his most powerful followers the Sorcerer to reap havoc leading to global control. Dominican Father Piero realizes that the devil has begun what could be the first phase towards Armageddon. Though the Vatican would officially considers this heresy worth burning at the stake, the holy man searches for the rumored Gifted, named in a letter hidden for centuries allegedly written by Saint Paul, but never became part of the canon, in hope that they can prevent the Sorcerer and his minion from succeeding. He finds the Gifted Lady Daria D'Angelo when she saves the life of dying Church Knight Gianni de Capezzana who has brought many a sinner to their fiery death, but wonders how many of those he brought to godly justice were less saintly than he. In turn the Knight pleads his loyalty to Daria. Soon near Siena, Italy the latest war between heaven and hell on earth will begin. This is an exhilarating religious historical thriller that is a delightful fantasy rather than a Brownian clone. The story line is action-packed from the beginning as the forces of good and evil prepare for a confrontation that leaves the Vatican caught between a rock and a hard place since the Church hierarchy do not recognize the Gifted (or Saint Paul's letter) yet have no chance to stop the Sorcerer without them. Readers who appreciate a different spin will appreciate Lisa T. Bergren's superb religious medieval fantasy THE BEGOTTEN.

The Drowning Man
Margaret Coel
ISBN: 0425211711, $23.95

On the Wind River Reservation, every Arapaho is stunned by the theft of THE DROWNING MAN. The ancient petroglyph is considered a sacred tribal heirloom of immense value as the spirits etched the image of the hunter drowning in water. The thieves send their ransom demand of a quarter of a million dollars to have the artifact returned or else watch it vanish on the black market. Father John O'Malley is outraged by this desecration and vows to investigate until he uncovers the identity of the thieves and returns the icon back to the tribe. Realizing the parallels to another stolen petroglyph seven years ago in which the item was never recovered and allegedly one of the felons Travis Birdsong killed his partner Raymond Trueblood, attorney Vicky Holden joins Father John on his inquiries because she believes that Travis was innocent of the robbery and the homicide. Neither is prepared to encounter a killer who will murder anyone who threatens him or his lucrative business. This is a terrific mystery as Margaret Coel showcases a major international issue involving illegal selling of stolen contraband in this case a priceless religious artifact from Native Americans. The investigation is excellent as the lead pair does a fabulous job following the clues while the culprit waits for the right moment to eliminate them. However, what makes this one of the best entries of a strong series is the tribal reaction to the horror of the theft as fans can feel their anguish. Ms. Coel is at her best with this sensitive whodunit.

Wreath of Deception
Mary Ellen Hughes
ISBN: 0425212246, $6.99

When the acetylene torch that Mike used in making his metal sculptures exploded killing him and destroying his loft, his wife Jo was totally bereft. Her best friend Carrie convinced her to leave New York and move to Abbotsville, Maryland. Jo leaped at the chance to start over and after months of planning opens up Jo's Craft Corner in the small town of Abbottsville. Her opening is a success except for the constant whining and complaints of Cuddles the Clown aka Kyle Sandborn who was hired by Jo to entertain the customers. After the store closes, Jo goes into the back room only to find Kyle on the floor covered with blood. The police inform her that he was murdered with her knitting needles as the weapon and that someone slipped a sedative into his drink. The officer in charges zeroes in on Jo as the only suspect as she had the means and opportunity though the motive remains elusive. Her customers in her craft classes convince her to investigate because the police will continue to ignore anyone but her. She acquiesces and almost becomes the killer's victim. This first Craft Corner mystery is a charming and colorful cozy due to the eccentric fully developed ensemble, the craft ladies, who encourage the spunky heroine to not only get on with her life, but to solve the murder mystery. Readers will admire and like Jo, who believes her new endeavors will bring her some happiness that has been lacking since the accident. Mary Ellen Hughes provides a refreshing writing style that produces a refreshingly original who-done-it that readers will enjoy.

Home Before Midnight
Virginia Kantra
ISBN: 0425211088, $7.99

Bailey Wells left her small hometown of Stokesville, North Carolina hoping to become a success in the literary world, but for the past two years she has served as the research and editorial assistant to renowned mystery author Paul Ellis. Now her boss is leaving New York City to relocate in the hometown of his wife Helen, also Stokesville. Half in love with her employer, Bailey agrees to accompany them when they move to the south. However, instead of a welcome homecoming, Bailey finds the murdered body of Helen floating in the pool of their new home. Local police detective, widower and single father of a preadolescent daughter Gabrielle, Steve Burke heads the investigation, but he immediately notices that Bailey is attracted to her employer as she tries to protect him. Though he wants Bailey, Steven remains professional as she is one of the two prime suspects, the spouse being the other, in what looks increasingly like a crime of passion. Unbeknownst to either of the pair someone wants the truth involving a 1987 homicide to remain buried and if more must die so be it. HOME BEFORE MIDNIGHT is an entertaining small town police procedural amateur sleuth tale though some might quiver that Bailey is a pro with her research into criminology. The story line is filled with action, but is driven by the triangular relationship between the author, the cop, and the researcher. The whodunit is cleverly developed to insure that Bailey and Paul are the prime suspects, which leads to Steve struggling to control his desire for the woman. Fans will enjoy Virginia Kantra's fine regional romantic mystery.

Seducing Sir Oliver
Nicole Byrd
ISBN: 0425210839, $6.99

The stranger informed Applegate that he failed at his responsibility towards him and another before he Lord Gabriel Sinclair leaves the small country house for London. Applegate tells his two oldest daughters that he had an indiscretion with a married woman that led to the birth of Gabriel and another tryst with her that led to another child. Gabriel grew up in a household where his "father" hated him and his mother was a prisoner. Applegate never acknowledged either Gabriel or his full sister Gemma. Now Gabriel demands taking one of his half-sisters Juliana, Madeline or the twins to London for a season. Though Maddie is the oldest, Juliana is sent ostensibly so that the influential Sinclair family can make her a suitable societal match as her sibling insists she will remain a spinster caring for their dad and the twins are inseparable. In London, instead of staying at the Sinclair home, Juliana is sent to Lady Margery Sealey's house as illness has quarantined Gabriel's house. At Lady Sealey's mansion, Juliana meets Gabriel's beloved Psyche and Margary's clumsy biologist Godson Sir Oliver Ramsey. Juliana sees past the brusque klutz into Oliver's gentle soul. As they fall in love in spite of his pratfalls, they become concerned that their hostess is receiving anonymous nasty letters claiming revenge is coming. They vow to keep Lady Seeley safe at all cost. This is a fun regency romance starring two likable fish out of water lead characters. The storyline is superb when Oliver trips over himself while Juliana's heart chooses him for her. When the intrigue takes center stage, the duo turn into courageous bumbling amateur sleuths. The returns of characters from previous tales like DEAR IMPOSTOR (the romance between Gabriel and Psyche) augment an amusing historical romantic suspense.

Somebody's Lover
Jasmine Haynes
ISBN: 0425209962, $14.00

"Somebody's Lover". Just outside of Willoughby, California, Jace Jackson is shocked to find his sister-in-law Taylor in a dive. A widow mother of two, Taylor wants the touch of a good man, something she misses since her beloved spouse Lou died. Though he has some doubts about the ethics Jace begins seeing Taylor. As they fall in love, they fear the reactions of her children and his family. "Somebody's Ex". Jace's brother David is upset with his sibling for stomping on the memory of Lou. However while driving his pickup he stops to help divorcee Randi Anderson and her "family" dog Royal. They begin seeing each other as he wants an affair, but she thinks she has found her soulmate this time around. "Somebody's Wife". Connie is worried that the third Jackson brother Mitch is having an affair so she decides to seduce him. However, her efforts fail to bring Mitch out of his funk as she does not realize he is obsessed with money and caring for her and their two children if he should die since she gave birth to their second child. The Jackson Brothers, their women, their children, and their parents provide the audience with three delightfully torrid romances within a nurturing family drama as each of the couples has different critical issues to confront.

Sasha White
ISBN: 0425212742, $14.00

In Chadwick everyone who knows Katie Long wants the good girl to find a happily ever after Prince Charming. The likable young woman agrees that she needs to find Mr. Right, but also romanticizes that her fantasy lover will bring much more than being a nice guy to the bedroom. She has dreams that would shock those who consider her the pure "Golden Girl"; dreams that BOUND her to her dark desires. Town newcomer casino security guard Joe Carson wants to be that man as he sees something passionate in Katie's eyes. They are BOUND to one another as they play sexual bondage games of master and slave lovemaking as he knows what she loves in the dark. However, both knows what they do in the bedroom heats up the sheets in answer to their most desirable fantasy, but outside the boudoir there must be more if they are the right pairing as their family, friends, and neighbors insist they are. BOUND starts off equatorial hot and then turns up the heat as fans of erotic romances will appreciate the torrid encounters between the Golden Girl and the security guard in the dark. The lead couple is compatible in bed as their S&M tastes blend quite well together. However, both are also wise to know that accompanied by love is not enough as they must prove companionable in the light. Not for everyone, sub-genre fans will appreciate this sheet burner.

Class Mothers
Katherine Stewart
ISBN: 0425207927, $14.00

In Manhattan Laura's daughter Anna attends the prestigious Metropolitan private school on a scholarship. However, Laura does not know the other class mothers until they are to work together on an auction. Most are so pampered they offer nothing to the endeavor, but three want to be the commander in chief giving orders to everyone else especially the scholarship mothers. On her second spouse Bronwyn seems happy with her wealthy husband and their perfect kids. Dominique knows her spouse adores her with a passion. Finally Kim is a successful financial advisor. The three women fight for supremacy until a disgusted Laura uncovers a threat to the school that the mothers better become a band of sisters if they want to thwart the attempt to shut the place. The mothers with their common relationship woes involving spouses, children and other relatives in spite of economic and social differences makes CLASS MOTHERS a fine look at Manhattan's elitist schooling. The tale is intelligent and amusing when it concentrates on the mothers of the students especially the comparisons between Laura, Bronwyn, and Kim. When the story line spins into a save the school against a conspiracy it loses a bit of its bite. Still as she did with THE YOGA MAMAS, Katherine Stewart provides a smart look at upper crust education.

Strip Search
Shelley Bradley
ISBN: 0425211096, $7.99

FBI Agent Norton asks his civilian friend Rafe Dawson for help requiring a CPA outsider. Norton believes an agent has gone rogue involving a Mafia money laundering scheme at the Las Vegas male strip joint Girls' Night Out. Rafe owes Norton for keeping his brother-in-law Mark Sullivan out of jail so he enlists Mark, who knows he really owes the debt though he detests that the tip came from his ex-wife Tiffany, who set him up in the first place that led to his legal troubles. Owner Nicola DeStefano hires Mark Gabriel as an exotic dancer. From the start (in his case even before they met from her picture), Mark and Nicki are attracted to one another. However, Mark wants to destroy Tiffany's former ally Blade Bocelli, sent by her Uncle Pietro to watch over Nicola and his 30 percent; however Mark will fail if he cannot keep his brain from having only one thought. He is disgusted with himself as he has fallen for another female whom he assumes is the current partner of Blade, the man who almost sent him to Leavenworth for a couple decades. The return of Mark, whose legal troubles led to the marriage between his sister Kerry and Rafe (see BOUND AND DETERMINED), will please readers of erotic romance suspense. The story line is fun to follow as the lead couple cannot keep their hands and some gadgetry off one another. The irony of the tale is Mark is sure his new love is in cahoots with his foe, but his other head does all his thinking. Thus his self reprobation after sleeping with the enemy make for a fine tale though some readers will question his libido leading to a one icon brain.

The Perfect Stranger
Anne Gracie
ISBN: 0425210529, $7.99

In 1818 romantic Faith Merridew still dreams of a love marriage just like that of her late parents, her older sister Pru (see THE PERFECT RAKE), and her twin Hope (see THE PERFECT WALTZ). She believes her fantasy has finally come true when she meets Hungarian violinist Felix Remavska. They seem like a love match and elope to Calais, France. However, she soon learns his image in public is radically different from the abusive man he is in private. Felix deserts her and now with no protection on a beach still in France, three hooligans chase her until a stranger Nicholas Blacklock comes to her aid. A war hero, Nicholas accompanied by two companions and Wulf the dog is running from his past as a nomad. Upon hearing her story of woe, as a gentleman he proposes a marriage of convenience in which Faith can return alone to live with his widow mother England while Nicholas continues his mission, which will take him to the battle site of Vittoria where his best friend died. However, Faith is half way in love with this honorable man, accepts his proposal, but refuses in name only or returning home alone. THE PERFECT STRANGER is a terrific Regency romance especially when the lead couple is front and center as both are wonderful well drawn protagonists who display moral strength without overly arrogance. The story line is top rate especially when Nicholas and Faith debate what is best for her. Although some secondary plots including a romance slow down the pace while actually forwarding the prime plot readers will agree that Anne Gracie proves that the sub-genre remains alive and hearty.

Here with Me
Holly Jacobs
ISBN: 0373198256, $4.25

Lee Singer loves living in Presque Isle, Pennsylvania when her worrisome mom calls at the same time a hunk enters her store, Singer's Treasures. She hangs up quickly; the customer offers to pay rent for a month to live in a cottage she owns. The next day, New York businessman Adam Benton and his toddler cousin that he is guardian of, move into the cottage. Adam reflects how his parents died when he was young; he went into fostering until Uncle Paul rescued him. Now Paul and his wife Cathie just died and though mourning his loss, he needs to decide what to do with their daughter Jessie. Adam remembers Lee as Mary Eileen Singer when they played together as children in Presque Isle. Lee recognizes that Adam Benton is her childhood pal Matty Benton. As the duo works together to raise a faster than a locomotive (not Amtrak) infant, they fall in love, but she is small town while he is urban. Even with her parents moving into the backyard and playing matchmaker, this pair seems destined to separate just as they did when they were children. HERE WITH ME is an amusing contemporary romance starring a likable cast. Lee and Adam are an amiable pair with flaws and desires that may prove love is not strong enough to survive their needs. The secondary characters add humorous trouble to the mix as her parents arrive in town to find her a husband and the baby acts like a one year old (thankfully avoiding the common error of a precocious wise matchmaker belying her age). Fans of warm romances will want to read HERE WITH ME hoping to see a family of three.

More Than a Mission
Caridad Pineiro
ISBN: 037327498X, $4.99

In Leonia, Aidan Spaulding seeks the assassin Sparrow who poisoned Prince Reginald, heir to the throne of Silvershire. Aidan knows he owes Sparrow for killing his Lazlo Group partner Mitchell Lama in Rome two years ago so bringing her in for justice will prove difficult as he wants to personally kill her. The Lazlo Group insists that restaurateur Elizabeth "Lizzy Bee" Moore is Sparrow. Though cook, chief and bottle washer and desperately in need of a bartender, she reluctantly hires Aidan. He realizes from her first blush that she is a lousy poker player and that her life is the restaurant. Aidan cannot believe Lizzie Bee is the assassin he seeks. Yet the evidence leads to Lizzy Bee. Her garden contains the right plants to make a poison and she uses a knife like no one he has ever seen before. He wonders how the person he is half way in love with could be a cold blooded assassin even as he thinks perhaps that is her way to charm the victim. Caridad Pinero is a sure shot when it comes to keeping a reader fully engaged for several hours of pleasure (see TEMPTATION CALLS and DARKNESS CALLS) and her latest tale MORE THAN A MISSION does so too as the audience will fully enjoy this one sitting thriller. The story line reads like a cat and mouse caper with the audience wondering just who the feline is and who the rodent is as Lizzy Bee and Aidan constantly skirmish. Fans need to know if she is the assassin as Ms. Pinero keeps the audience and the hero guessing. This reviewer has not read the four previous Capturing the Crown tales by different authors (impossible as that seems), but that does not take away from a terrific romantic suspense.

Dead Reckoning
Sandra R. Moore
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 037351414X, $4.99

Though she detested her late grandfather, Chris Hampton appreciates that he left her his luxurious yacht Obsession though that needed repair. She diligently works on the vessel, but is short cash until the DEA offers her a deal she cannot refuse. They will provide her with the capital needed to fix the boat, if she helps them catch her nasty brother-in-law, drug kingpin Jerome. Chris has a greater incentive to agree; this might be the opportunity to save her sister Natalie, who has just informed her that she is scared of her abusive husband. DEA Agent Connor McClellan is assigned to protect Chris. However, his being there does not prevent attacks on her by most likely the thugs of either Jerome or a business associate. She concludes that someone inside the DEA is working for the enemy and though she is half way in love with Connor, he is the most likely culprit as few besides him has the insider information that was handed over to the enemy. Courageous Chris, needing to rescue her sibling, has reached a point of DEAD RECKONING as she must choose whether to trust in love or no one when she confronts Jerome; she makes the fast-paced thriller work as she wonders if the man who has stolen her heart is just another Jerome clone, a hunk seducing a dumb broad. Romantic suspense fans will join Chris and Connor on the aptly named Obsession as they speed to a final confrontation of the heart and with a dangerous felon willing to kill his wife, his sister-in-law, and a DEA agent.

What Stella Wants
Nancy Bartholomew
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373514131, $4.99

Elizabeth "Bitsy" Margolies nee Blankenship, a high maintenance airhead from high school calls private investigator Stella Valocchi and her beloved business and bedroom partner Jake Carpenter, pleading for their help. Realizing nothing has changed with Bitsy since she last saw her years ago as the woman is near hysteria, Stella agrees, but before she and Jake can do anything; their newest client apparently dies in a car explosion. However, to their shock, Bitsy still lives and their case turns screwier. The CIA suspects that Bitsy is involved with chemical weapons and Eastern European spies believe that Stella and Jake know more than they say so plan to use deadly tactics to obtain the information. Stella believes she is the center of all espionage activity in the world as spies from everywhere converge on her in their quest to find Bitsy and from her the chemical weapons. When Stella gets in the groove almost at the onset, the reader requires wearing a seatbelt as the story line turns ultra fast-paced. Stella and Jake are terrific as the effort to help Bitsy starts out of control and then chaos ensues. Aunt Lucy adds some humor with her seemingly psychic abilities (at least according to an amazed Jake). Nancy Bartholomew has another winner in her Stella What readers want Ms. Bartholomew provides with this fine private investigator thriller.

Carla Cassidy
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373514123, $4.99

Athena Academy alumni Lynette White relocates to start over in Phoenix as a web page designer. However, the former thief is accosted by the Feds with an ultimatum. She either uses her genetically enhanced skills to locate a bomb placed inside a shipping container or face jail as they have proof of her criminal work for her "Uncle" Jonas. She knows what they want is like finding a needle in a haystack as there are so many containers, but she has a better chance of success than most people. Her only counter-demand is that FBI Agent Nick Barnes, her former lover, help her on the investigation. As Nick and Lynette work together to stop the terrorist plot before countless number of innocents are killed, their feelings for one another remain heated. When the danger mounts with both threatened with death, Nick and Lynette realize what they knew deep in their heart that they love one another. However is love enough for a thief and a Fed to form a lasting relationship if they survive the mission? This is an interesting romantic suspense in which the heroine is a sacrificial PAWN in the global war on terrorism until the Fed reassesses his values and knows he will forfeit his life if need be to keep her safe. The story line showcases a weakness in American antiterrorism security efforts with cargo shipments, but that key underlying base to the thriller is tied up relatively too easily. Still readers will enjoy Carla Cassidy's fast-paced thriller of the Feds blackmailing a pawn (as the administration insists anything is legal and ethical if it keeps America safe against terrorism) to assist them on a dangerous mission.

Lost Calling
Evelyn Vaughn
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373514115, $4.99

In Paris, the earthquake opened up a buried catacomb below the Musee Cluny. Curator Catrina Dauvergne explores only to find the remains of females probably guillotined during the French Revolution. She also finds some weird looking tiles and odd relics. However, her discovery also brings to light an apparent maniac who claims all items as his under some religious right. This obsessed person is willing to kill Catrina to obtain her finding. She turns to archeology student Rhys Pritchard to help her solve what the religious etching s on the tiles and the relics mean and how that ties to the late eighteenth century beheadings while a dangerous madman stands ready to murder anyone who stands in his way of possessing what the earthquake uncovered. LOST CALLING is a fast-paced action thriller that never slows down from the opening earthquake sequence until the final confrontation. Catrina is an interesting heroine who is thrust into her role due to events out of her control (though she ponders whether her grandma would blame her for the earthquake, the find underneath the Cluny, the maniac, and much more). The seemingly crazy religious fanatic with his demands that she hand over what she found and his apparent willingness to do what it takes to achieve his claim makes the tale work as readers wonder who he is. Though the climax seems more to set up a sequel, fans will appreciate this Parisian romantic suspense thriller. In Wyoming nurse Gwen Langworthy is stunned to find an abandoned newborn with a note stating her name is Amy at her back door. She insures the infant is okay before asking former FBI Agent Garrett Maxwell to uncover the identity of the baby's parents. Garrett would prefer to reject the case, leaving it to the police, but reluctantly agrees because he can see how much this means to Gwen; she does not hide from him that she was adopted. As he searches for the missing parents, Garrett fears that his beloved Gwen who he is falling in love with will dump him just like his wife once did; he fails to understand that she feels the same way since her Mark abandoned her just before they were to marry just like her biological parents did too. Still he will do anything for Gwen so he keeps digging along THE BABY TRAIL for Amy's parents. Gwen not only appreciates what her beloved is doing for her, she encourages him to return to the line of work he enjoys with her at his side (and some other nameless positions) at least when he is off work.

The Baby Trail
Karen Rose Smith
Silhouette Special Edition
ISBN: 0373247672, $4.99

In Wyoming nurse Gwen Langworthy is stunned to find an abandoned newborn with a note stating her name is Amy at her back door. She insures the infant is okay before asking former FBI Agent Garrett Maxwell to uncover the identity of the baby's parents. Garrett would prefer to reject the case, leaving it to the police, but reluctantly agrees because he can see how much this means to Gwen; she does not hide from him that she was adopted. As he searches for the missing parents, Garrett fears that his beloved Gwen who he is falling in love with will dump him just like his wife once did; he fails to understand that she feels the same way since her Mark abandoned her just before they were to marry just like her biological parents did too. Still he will do anything for Gwen so he keeps digging along THE BABY TRAIL for Amy's parents. Gwen not only appreciates what her beloved is doing for her, she encourages him to return to the line of work he enjoys with her at his side (and some other nameless positions) at least when he is off work. The second "Baby Bonds" tale (see CUSTODY FOR TWO) is a fun private investigative romance starring two nice protagonists who obviously care deeply about the infant dumped on her and soon for one another. Garrett's investigation is deftly interwoven with the nurturing of Amy and the romance between the lead characters. As always Karen Rose Smith provides an entertaining contemporary that her fans will enjoy as the abandoned infant heals the hearts of her caretakers.

Finding Dignity
J. Marie Darden
ISBN: 159309051X, $15.00

Dignity Jackson, the daughter of biracial parents, struggles with just who she is. Her father died before she was born and her mother deserted her when she was three years old. Her Aunt Lette and Uncle Sam raised Dignity in a strict home, but showered her with love as if she was their offspring. Now eighteen, Dignity accepts a scholarship to attend Morgan State University, but still struggles with her identity. Her feelings of inadequacy and not belonging anywhere or with anyone alienate her caring Italian boyfriend Sal and anger her best friends Stacy and Khalil. The trio intervenes demanding she get herself together; she agrees and begins a quest into the south to find her roots and ultimately accepting herself with pride and dignity. This is a terrific coming of age tale of a teen who in spite of love showered on her from her adopted parents and friends feels lost and unwanted. J. Marie Darden paints her portrait of her lead protagonist with a dignity even as the confused teen still hurts fifteen years later from the maternal abandonment. Dignity's quest for a sense of self-worth by seeking out her roots until she finds something much greater make for a fabulous character study of a person on a journey to find her soul.

Wolf Tales II
Kate Douglas
Kensington Aphrodisia
ISBN: 0758213875, $12.95

Young police officer Lucien Stone kills the rogue wolf preying on humans when he saw her next to a child Tia. Ulrich Mason is raging in anger and grief over the murder of his were-mate; he is ready to rip the throat open of the culprit until he looks into the eyes of his wife's killer and realizes Lucien is a Chanku like him, his late spouse and their daughter, but unlike Ulrich he is clueless about his heritage. Ulrich becomes Lucien's mentor as he brings him into the small pack he runs. As Lucien learns to control the beastly side of his persona, he also vows to his teacher that he will protect the pack especially Tia. She remains ignorant that she is part wolf though she has erotic dreams about her and Lucien carousing on four legs (well five on his part) as well as two (make that three on his part) while he dreads the day he must tell his beloved he killed her mother. Readers will agree that Lucien is a SEXY BEAST as he mentors his soulmate Tia on being a Chanku especially during the WILD NIGHTS. The support cast as always is the case in a Kate Douglas thriller is top rate and insures the audience believes in shapeshifters. Fans of erotic supernatural romances will appreciate this torrid sequel with the twist of their intertwined past.

Dollar Daze
Karin Gillespie
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743264290, $19.95

In Cayboo Creek, Georgia the widows of the Bottom Dollar Emporium are excited and in denial as love seem to have come around for a second time. Octogenarian Attalee Gaines finds love with a younger man seventy-eight years old and Dooley Prichard; they emit enough heat to solve the gas crisis while the even younger Mavis Loomis and Birdie Murdock shake their heads in disgust as their mating days are long gone. Septuagenarian Mrs. Tobias agrees with the latter duo especially when watching Attalee and Dooley hold hands. In spite of insisting no more men in their lives, long time best friends Mavis and Birdie each finds a hunk they like. The problem is simple their respective man is the same guy brewing trouble as he plays both for fools. Even high society Mrs. Tobias finds her peer group males tedious so looks at the working class for a real man. The latest Bottom Dollar Emporium tale is as sweet as southern tea as the elderly women begin to find new men in their lives. The lighthearted story line will please fans of this series though this entry has no real surprises. Karin Gillespie provides a lighthearted slice of life in small-town Georgia that will remind the audience of Mossy Creek.

When Someone Loves You
Susan Johnson
ISBN: 0758209398, $15.00

Before Waterloo "Duff" D'Abernon was a carefree Marquis who enjoyed life to the fullest as he appreciated the London social scene. After Waterloo, Duff became a brooding angry hermit who obtained some pleasure with his horses but never attended any galas. Thus everyone who once knew the lighthearted pre-war youth is pleased to see him about town again by 1816, but upset that his companion is disgraceful Annabelle Foster. She is a scandalized-making actress who has allegedly slept with half of Parliament and the Royals and had a child out of wedlock if you believe rumors before abruptly vanishing from the stage and the hypocritical criticism of the Ton. Annabelle offers Duff friendship and companionship, but not her heart, having been burned once before which led to her disgrace. Duff accepts as both feels loneliness. That summer of healing leads to heated passion and perhaps love, but neither trusts the other with their fragile hearts and then there is little Cricket to consider. This is an entertaining Regency romance starring two flawed societal outcasts, one discarded while the other self-exiled. The story line is fast-paced even the interludes as Duff and Annabelle fall in love, but their respective recent histories make a relationship between them seem impossible but a delightful historical possible. Fans will root for this couple to find a way.

Viva Las Bad Boys
HelenKay Dimon
ISBN: 0758214766, $14.00

"Jackpot". At the Berkley Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Jack McAllister hopes to score with the jilted bride sitting next to him at the slots. However, he hits the big time until up in his room, he observes Laine Monroe's private investigator's license. Instead of under the covers, she is undercover seeking to find proof Jack is womanizing. "Player's Club". The hotel's newly appointed Director of Human Resources Jenna Barrister's first major task is to fire playboy super-chef Zach Jacobs for carousing with the guests. However before she can complete the distasteful task a power outage leads to Zach teaching Jenna how to turn up the heat without cooking. "Two Of A Kind". Alex Mitchell feels strongly he earned the casino's assistant management position, but first he must outshine rival Caroline Rogers. She feels the same way relishing the all out competition to top her top challenger for the job she covets. Neither relishes the attraction between them as that leaves each feeling vulnerable and the blackout insures both learn the meaning of consensus. These three "Bad Boy" tales are as always fun lighthearted romps this time with women rolling the dice and taking a chance on love.

Family Baggage
Monica McInerney
ISBN: 0345490126, $13.95

In Merryn Bay, Australia, Turner Travel escorts local residents on themed trips out of country. However, the recent deaths of the family leaders, Neil and Penny Turner, within a couple of months of one another have left their adult children grieving and the business in jeopardy. Though still in mourning Harriet knows her mother would have wanted her to lead the tour of twelve clients on a trip through the Cornwall countryside. However, her adopted sister Lara fails to show up at the airport as expected so Harriet is on her own pondering the future and dwelling on the past. James avoids confrontation hiding behind the skirts of his overbearing spouse Melissa so refuses to think about what will happen to Turner Travel without his founding parents to guide it. Austin refuses to do anything but party as he has no concern about the future. Finally adopted Lara, taken in by their parents nearly twenty-five earlier, tries to help manage the firm effectively, but suddenly instead of helping Harriet on tour, has vanished as she has learned something about why she was adopted. This is a fascinating family drama though much of the story line centers on Harriet. Readers see how the four adult children react differently to the deaths of their parents as James and Austin hide from it in different ways as the former uses his strong wife as a shield and the latter uses hedonism as an escape; Harriet mourns her loss but grows as she is forced into new situations while Lara learns a shocking truth about herself that takes away from her chance to grieve. FAMILY BAGGAGE is an interesting character study that focuses on how the living cope with the deaths of loved ones though no one seems to just get on with their life.

In the Dark of the Night
John Saul
ISBN: 0345487018, $25.95

Seven years ago in Phantom Lake, Wisconsin Dr. Hector Darby vanished. His house remained empty all that time until now. Dan and Merrill Brewster decide that a summer outside of their home in Chicago would be great fun for them and their two children, Eric and Marci. They rent unseen the sprawling blackened Pinecrest, former home of Dr. Darby. At first sight, Merrill feels fear up and down her spine, but Dan and the kids persuade she is being silly. Not long afterward, Eric and his friends Kent and Tad uncover a bricked in hidden room in the nearby carriage house; inside it is eerie as the room is filled with surgical instruments, medical records, broken furniture, assorted other junk and textbooks as well as bizarre items collected by Dr. Darby related to his research into serial killers all catalogued in a ledger. As the boys hear weird voices and suffer nightmares, it is back after a seven year hiatus itching for a new encounter. What is most fascinating about John Saul's superb haunted house thriller is that the audience knows what terrifying event will happen next in the plot yet somehow the author manages to constantly frighten the reader. The support cast is solid whether they are family or local while the three male teens are at the center of the tale as they uncover the clues about the house in daylight, but learn the secrets of Pinecrest IN THE DARK OF THE NIGHT.

The Marriage Diaries
Rebecca Campbell
ISBN: 0345485882, $12.95

Sean the writer and Celeste the Fashionista seem to live a comfortable dull life raising terrible two years old Henry. However, Celeste becomes initially numb which quickly turns to outrage when she peeks into Sean's journal. He describes his growing friendship with seductive "yummy mummy" Uma as much more than just two colleagues discussing work; Celeste vows vengeance.. Uma tries to seduce Sean while Celeste goes man-hunting. In spite of their love for their offspring, Celeste and Sean continue down a destructive path that seems to symbolize the end of their relationship is coming soon. The question for this couple is simple. Does either of the partners truly care as this marriage seems to have gradually lost its adrenaline as "like the bathwater going slowly cold" seems time to pull the plug? THE MARRIAGE DIARIES is an interesting relationship drama starring a fascinating female protagonist who hooks readers who wonder whether her world ends with a bang or a whimper (apologies for butchering T.S. Eliot). The story line rotates between Celeste's obsession for vengeance and Sean's journals. Using British humor including Python style body puns, Rebecca Campbell provides a deep look at the impacts of several years of marriage and raising a child on a couple's relationship.

The Mephisto Club
Tess Gerritsen
ISBN: 0345476999, $24.95, 368 pp.

Called out on Christmas Eve to one of the bloodiest crime scenes they have ever seen are Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and Medical Examiner Maura Isles. It is also one of the most bizarre crime scenes because the victim's body is in one room, her hand is on a plate in the dining room and the head is in the middle of a pentagram with satanic symbols in it. The killer called 911 and Jane's enemy psychiatrist Joyce O'Donnell, who defense lawyers love. Days later a second victim is found in a gazebo with inverted crosses carved in the wood belonging to Mr. Sensone. Joyce and other members of the Mephisto club are meeting at his home and they all have in common the belief that Evil (capital E) isn't just an idea but a predator wearing a human face although he isn't human. They have a lot of clout in police circles worldwide and when a member of that group is killed they believe they are being targeted by this Evil. Jane and Maura don't buy into their beliefs but they intend to do all in their power to catch the killer and put him in a cage because now it is personal: he killed one of their own and has now gone after Maura. Tess Gerritsen has written the best book of her career and it is a sure bet THE MEPHISTO CLUB will land on all the bestseller lists. Readers will love the members of THE MEPHISTO CLUB and hope that in the future Ms. Gerritsen writes about some of their investigations. A fast paced plot, likeable and understandable protagonists, and an intriguing idea on what certain killers really are make this a one sitting reading experience.

Man Camp
Adrienne Brodeur
ISBN: 0812971906, $12.95

Thirtyish Columbia University biology professor Lucy Stone, author of Sexual Selection: What Humans Can Learn from Animals, and her best friend actress Martha McKenna conclude that the Manhattan male is a pathetic clueless creature who is lost when it comes to courting a woman. They hypothesize that civilianization has made them so un-male; they might as well be a woman. They base this on the men they know; the former's boyfriend and the latter's brother. Lucy is angry and frustrated with her loyal self-doubting boyfriend Adam as his timidity makes her ill. At the same time Martha opens up FirstDate, an agency dedicated to teach men that they can have a backbone and be a gentleman too at Man Camp set up on Lucy's college pal Cooper Tuckington's West Virginia farm. There men can learn to be men as they take lessons in being a real man. This is a fun look at the gender war though at times inane. Two frustrated females decide to experiment with behavioral science by training the men in their lives to be the men in their lives. The story line is fast-paced especially when the cast leave Manhattan for MAN CAMP and never slows down though there is monster twist late in the tale. Fans will enjoy this fine contemporary education of Lucy and Martha.

The Bad Mother's Handbook
Kate Long
ISBN: 0345479661, $13.95

In England though she recently broke up with her boyfriend, seventeen-year-old Charlotte feels good about herself and her future as she is doing well in school, lives in a relatively happy all female home, and seems adjusted. That is until she learns she is pregnant. Her mom Karen is a teacher's aide struggling with her mother Nan's mind slowly slipping away with the demands from that side already overwhelming. Her patience is over the edge when Charlotte informs her she is pregnant. Upset and unable to contain her anger, Karen cannot believe that history has repeated itself because when she was sixteen she gave birth to Karen. Though she loves her daughter all her dreams died with her birth. She did marry the father but thankfully divorced that loser soon afterward. As Nan drifts deeper into the past including insisting that she adopted Karen, the mentally exhausted sandwich generation is not sure what to do as Charlotte decides to give birth except to flee in search of her biological mother dreaming of a loving comforting welcome. This fascinating character study is at its best when the audience sees deep inside the three generations with deep understanding of being an unwed mother, a child having a child, the sandwich generation, and the creeping of dementia (as well as a late stroke). When the tale spins off into the biological mother twist it loses some of its depth until Karen returns to her "real" family. Somewhat a soap opera, THE BAD MOTHER'S HANDBOOK is a strong family drama that focuses on the demands and responsibilities on women without men.

Cover of Night
Linda Howard
ISBN: 0345486501, $25.95, 338 pp.

After being widowed, Cate Nightingale and her twin boys move to the isolated Idaho town of Trail Stop where cell phones don't work and there is only one road in and out of the place. She opens up a bed and breakfast which is moderately successful and for three years relies on the town handyman Calvin Harris to do the repairs that always arises at the worst times. She believes Cal is a shy man because he always blushes when he has to talk to her. Her opinion of him changes when thugs arrive at the B&B demanding the luggage of a guest who snuck out the widow and disappeared. Cal somehow sneaks up behind them and gets them out of the inn after giving them the guest's luggage. They are looking for a flash drive with files from a crime lord's computer but it isn't in the suitcase. They believe that it is still on the premises. They cut off the town trying to terrorize people into giving them what they want. Cal organizes the townsfolk so that they can survive the ordeal while Cate realizes that she has fallen for him and prays he doesn't try to be a hero and get himself killed. COVER OF NIGHT is Linda Howard at her very best. The storyline is filled with action, romance and family drama as a town bands together to fight the enemy. Ms. Howard has the magic touch when it comes to creating protagonists readers will care about. As the town plays matchmaker, the hero and heroine know what the other is feeling and respond in a manner that is so hot readers will feel the sparks flying.

Ghost Dancer
John Case
ISBN: 0345464737, $25.95

Nine years in the Allenwood Penitentiary has festered Jack Wilson's hatred of America. The published mathematical genius vows revenge against the country that was stolen from his Native Americana ancestors and recently stole his patent. Jack finds a terrorist group willing to fund the project of THE GHOST DANCER as he calls himself. He plans to replicate his hero renowned inventor Nikola Testa's alleged greatest invention, a harmonic resonance device that Jack feels changed over 1200 square miles of Siberian forest into the Tunguska crater in 1908 by altering the molecular infrastructure. Once he completes the gadget, unlike Testa who tested his device in isolated Siberia, Jack plans to experiment with Washington DC as his epicenter. Though aware of Jack's activities, the Feds argue over jurisdiction as if 9-11 and the Patriot Act never occurred; meanwhile Jack is on the brink of conducting the trial run. This mesmerizing thriller grabs readers' attention from the moment they know Jack and maintains the audience's interest throughout. The only hope to stop THE GHOST DANCER is a former cohort with a shady laundering past, Mike Burke as the Feds are tied up in knots over command and control. The fascinating use of Testa provides a grounding into reality in which the technology to create the harmonic resonance device seems plausible. Thriller fans will want to read this terrific tense tale.

Snow Blind
P.J. Tracy
ISBN: 039915339X, $29.95, 320 pp.

Minneapolis homicide detectives Leo Magozzi and Gina Rolseth are participating in a snow festival. They discover two of their brother officers shot to death inside two of the snowmen. A third Snowman with a murdered body inside is found in Dundas County with the victim is identified as Steve Doyle, a Minneapolis parole officer. His last appointment was with new client Kurt Weinbeck, a repeat violent offender who almost killed his wife. The address where his spouse lives is in Doyle's missing file and police feel Kurt has it and is heading there to kill her. Leo and Gino head up to Dundas County to see if there is any evidence linking Kurt to their two dead officers. They also want to offer Kurt's wife police protection but when they arrive at Bitteroot, a heavily fortified secured area that is home and workplace to four hundred women, she turns them down. Each woman living there is armed and all are willing to protect the other. When a fourth man is discovered in a snowman in Pittsburg, they believe they have a copycat killer. As Kurt is making his way to Bitteroot and the investigation by Leo and Gino stalls, the Monkeewrench gang is working their computer magic that sends the two cops back to Bitteroot. Leo and Gino are the stars of the latest Monkeewrench novel in which the computer hotshots play an important but background role. While DEAD RUN was more of an action thriller, SNOW BLIND is an exciting and cleverly constructed police procedural with the trademark P.J. Tracy humor. This mother-daughter writing team has written a tale that evokes the national conscience with a grim look at one of society's ills: spousal abuse.

The Knights of the Black and White: Book I of the Templar Trilogy, Vol. 1
Jack Whyte
ISBN: 0399153969, $25.95

Jewish families escaping the wrath of the Christian conquest of the Roman Empire create a secret society, the Order of the Rebirth of Sion, whose long term objective is to reveal the truth about the Church that they believe is built on lies and "an invalid creation". Over the centuries they hide, but prepare and wait patiently for the opportunity to destroy the myth. Late in the eleventh century, the chance arrives when Pope Urban calls for a Crusade to take back the Holy Land from the Infidels because the order believes that the proof is hidden under the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Joining the Christian army is sworn members of the Order of the Rebirth of Sion like Sir Hugh de Payens and Stephen St. Clair. During the effort to free Jerusalem from the Muslims, men like these two seek entry into the Temple Mount where they plan to excavate. The violent war is a cover for competing western groups who either want to prove a sham or destroy the evidence, if any exists while the Muslims block their path into one of the holiest shrines. Conceptually the first book of the latest Templar tales contains a terrific theme as various hostile sides converge on the temple Mount. However, the story line is slowed down by obloquies, soliloquies and colloquies that ironically provide a key feel for the conditions of the First Crusaders but also lacks action. Still the Knights Templar crowd will enjoy the newest entry that enthusiastically illuminates what has become an inundated topic.

The Messenger
Daniel Silva
ISBN: 0399153357, $25.95

Art restorer and Israel espionage agent Gabriel Allon retires from the spy game after his battle with Khaled al-Khalifa that exposed his undercover activities. He plans to concentrate on his other skill in which he is recognized by his peers as one of the top three or four restorers in the world. However, his retirement is brief thanks to the death in London of Islamic moderate Professor Ali Massoudi, whom Allon met when he used the alias Alex Delvecchio in Venice years ago. Israeli special advisor on security and terrorism Ari Shamron tells Gabriel that Massoudi worked for al-Qaeda and they got his laptop filled with information on the Vatican; Allon reassumes his role as Israel's defender, the PRINCE OF FIRE, prepared to deal with his country's enemies, but first finishes the Reuben. Not long afterward Monsignor Luigi Donati, private secretary to His Holiness Pope Paul VII, comes to Jerusalem to obtain Allon's help involving the death of a Swiss guard in St. Peter's Basilica. The official inquiry claims suicide, but the Monsignor thinks a murder occurred. He trusts Allon to quietly investigate whether the Pope His Holiness may be in peril. Allon reluctantly agrees, but soon unravels a conspiracy that traverses Europe and the Middle east with an end state objective of a Vatican assassination. The latest Allon thriller is an action-packed tale which also makes a strong case of follow the terrorist money trail that Daniel Silva insists leads back to Saudi Arabia. The story line is fast-paced as Allon struggles to prevent a calamity that could devastate the west and clearly harm Israel. Though with an obvious Israeli bias, readers of strong thrillers will appreciate Allon's latest caper as Israel's Angel of Death.

The Afghan
Frederick Forsyth
ISBN: 0399153942, $26.95

In Jul 2005, the four homegrown fanatical suicide bombers devastated the London commute. When the police thoroughly searched their Leeds homes for clues they found receipts for throwaway cellphones making them traceable. One phone became a gift working its way closer to the inner circle that surrounds the invisible Bin Laden. Over a year later, the cellphone was finally used by senior Al Qaeda operative Abdelahi talking to his brother. The American, British and Pakistani espionage agents track the call to its source and obtain the terrorist's computer. From that they learn of a new plot to make nine-eleven look like a minor incident, but lack key details. To thwart the scheme, the West comes up with a desperate gambit. Veteran British SAS operative Colonel Mike Martin, who was raised in Iraq, takes the identity of Taliban commander Izmat Khan incarcerated for five years at Guantomino Bay's Delta Camp when they release the "prisoner" to Afghan custody. Martin has doubts he can pull this off though he succeeded once before as an Afghan, but then he was a lowly gardener and now they want him to be an inner circle commander. Still he takes the assignment knowing he will die if exposed, but risks his life to obtain the needed answers to the 5Ws. THE AFGHAN is a fabulous espionage thriller that grips the audience from the very start with its brief description of the London transit attacks and never slows down until the final confrontation. The story line is action-packed mindful of the movie The Man Who Knew Too Much and Frederick Forsyth's novel THE DAY OF THE JACKAL. Though the exciting climax seems too simple, fans will agree that Mr. Forsyth remains a top thriller author with his strong post nine-eleven tale.

No Good Deeds
Laura Lippman
ISBN: 0060506733, $7.99

In Baltimore, Edgar "Crow" Ransome takes home fifteen year old Lloyd Jupiter who he met outside a soup kitchen when the homeless teen offered to change his flat tire for five bucks; Crow assumes the kid slashed his tire, but counteroffers with a warm bed and three square meals at the bungalow he shares with private investigator Tess Monaghan. Lloyd frightens Tess when it becomes apparent that the teen knows plenty about Assistant US Attorney Gregory Youssef, recently found murdered. Tess persuades the teenager to tell all he knows to Beacon-Light reporter Marcy Appleton. When one of Lloyd's pals is murdered, Crow takes the kid with him into hiding in Delaware as he believes anyone associated with the perverted side of Youssef is a target. Assistant US Attorney Gabe Dalesio, FBI Agent Barry Jenkins, and DEA operative Mike Collins demand Tess to name her source or else face the full impact of the law and the illegal contempt of other means they have at their disposal in this post nine-eleven world. As always in a Monaghan thriller (see BY A SPIDER'S THREAD), Baltimore is the star as readers see two cities side by side; one a depressing putrefying loser and the other an optimistic bright light. Monaghan is terrific as is the Feds who uses extreme pressure including threats to jail her loved ones (similar to the "threat" to take away Steele's adopted Romanian son during the Starr investigation into Clinton) to force the heroine to talk. Crow's interest in Lloyd seems off kilter until a too late revelation explains all; still fans will agree that in this case NO GOOD DEEDS rewards fans with a fine political mystery.

Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA
Ellen Meister
ISBN: 0060818638, $22.95

Suzanne Podobinski leads the Applewood, Long Island elementary school PTA drive to raise funds to build a small stadium with everything going smoothly as everyone is in agreement and gets on with one another. That changes when a Hollywood location scout visits Applewood to ascertain whether Appleton Elementary would make a good locale for a George Clooney movie. That information sends the PTA members squabbling into two camps that of President Suzanne and three opponents. The enemies of President Suzanne are divided except in opposition to her and not wanting to spend time doing the symbolic PTA gig. Lawyer Maddie Schein is more concerned that her husband desires his cousin not her so the PTA is not important. Songwriter Ruth Moss is tired mentally after three years as the sole caretaker of her partially paralyzed spouse and dreams of making love with Clooney but guiltily settles for a local school superintendent. Lisa Slotnick wife of a millionaire computer genius feels as if her past has destroyed her standing when her alcoholic mother visits her. Still each of these ladies has their own PTA concept and will use extortion and blackmail to achieve their objective; but if they team up watch out Suzanne, Clooney and anyone one else challenging the Applewood PTA insurgency. Tongue in cheek, this understated battle of the suburban PTA moms is an amusing deep tale that focuses on how important it is to have time for oneself but also must believe in oneself. The four female protagonists are fully developed characters with self anointed VIP Suzanne battling to insure her three opponents remain divided while her adversaries know they must overcome their personal agendas and unite if they want to win. The contest brings out the best and the worst in the Applewood PTA.

Hit Parade
Lawrence Block
ISBN: 0060840889, $24.95

The consummate professional HIT MAN John Keller always gets the job done though at times there is collateral damage. He ponders whether making a living by assassinating people makes him a sociopath lunatic, but assumes not because when an innocent gets killed or in some cases his target dies he feels remorse. Still he rationalizes his efforts by claiming to be a problem solver. His Westchester agent Dot assigns him his latest Hit List to include a womanizing veteran major league baseball star, a jockey fixing a horse race, a basketball player, a friend who gives him a present, and a neighbor's dog, etc. Keller is in top form in this loosely defined novel that feels more like an interconnected anthology especially when he and Dot discuss make a business killing in a purely Wall St. like way as the bottom line is based on meeting the dead line. The tales are fun as Lawrence Block uses dark dry humor to defuse the gory details and somehow ensures his audience will want Keller to succeed though in many case sympathy towards the victim (especially the canine) also occurs. HIT PARADE is a fine addition to the Keller legacy.

Public Enemy
Will Staeger
ISBN: 0060765879, $24.95

In the Virgin Islands almost retired CIA Agent W. Cooper investigates the smuggling of stolen Mayan gold artifacts that turned ugly leading to numerous deaths during a confrontation. At about the same in Fort Myers, Florida, delivery man Benjamin Achar explodes a bomb in his garage killing himself. Almost immediately over one hundred people in the vicinity of his ground zero die as the explosion releases a virus into the air; America has it first suicide bomber on its soil. CIA agent Julie Laramie is sent to Fort Myers to investigate the deadly Achar incident and to forge a team to see if he had associates or if any other sleeper cell remains in the area. Laramie asks her former lover Cooper to join her team. He hesitantly agrees though he has doubts about working with her and besides he is still on the stolen Mayan artifacts case. PUBLIC ENEMY is a strong investigative tale that uses police procedural elements to set up an action-packed antiterrorist thriller. The story line is action-packed from the opening scene and never slows down until the final escapade. However, what makes Will Staeger's tale worth reading is the somewhat dysfunctional relationship between Julie and Cooper, which embellishes the plot by enhancing the non-stop action. Readers will fully enjoy Cooper's second appearance (see PAINKILLER).

Tom Franklin
ISBN: 006084681X, $23.95

E.O. Smonk, the one-eyed dwarf has terrorized Old Texas, Alabama for years, but justice has come to town 1911 so Eugene Oregon Smonk stands trial for murder and rape. However, Smonk's drinking associates refuse to allow the irascible one to stand trial regardless of the law. They kill every male in town as they free Smonk. A former Smonk "ward" now a lawman Will McKissick chases after the escaped dwarf. As Smonk flees Old Texas, the Christian posse pursues dangerous if you fail to pay emaciated teenage prostitute Evavangeline for the murders of her Johns. They track her from the male corpses she leaves behind along the Alabama Gulf Coast, but though she can barely survive the daily chores of life, the posse seems one step behind her skinny butt. McKissick follows Smonk back to Old Texas where Evavangeline followed by posse member Phial Walton has also arrived at a time the town female survivors lay out their dead men and children. May the best man (or woman) be left standing. Obviously not aimed at the cozy crowd, this is an insane fast-paced historical crime thriller. Fans who enjoy gore will appreciate the trails of corpses that appear everywhere in this gruesome well written storyline. The cast is top rate from the crazy title character; the bewildered teen hooker; guilt-laden McKissick (once saved by Smonk from the deadly local orphanage); the eerie widows placing their dead on dining tables as if serving a gourmet meal; the mad preacher hosting dead children as if they attend services; the obsessed Christian "deputy" seeking to send the sinner to hell; and finally the aptly named rabid dog Lazarus the Redeemer. Tom Franklin's candid but violent send off of western thrillers makes Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch look like schoolchildren at play.

Saks and Violins
Mary Daheim
ISBN: 0060566515, $23.95

Hillside Manor Bed and Breakfast owner Judith McGonigle Flynn is frustrated with her new neighbor, violinist Rudi Wittener who plays or listen to his recording at any hour of the day; the musician is driving everyone including her, her staff and her guests crazy. Adding to the insanity cousin Serene "Renie" Jones arrives to announce they must sell items to pay off their Saks Fifth Avenue credit card tab during their recent escapade (see DEAD MAN DOCKING); Judith cannot help much as the B and B is in the off season. So with the need of funds, Judith agrees to host a reception for Rudi's visiting mentor Dolph Kluger at Hillside Manor. Renie provides "shoplifted" rhubarb to the party. The gala goes off smoothly, but later that same night, Dolph dies from rhubarb poisoning. Feeling guilty though she is innocent, Judith begins making inquiries into who had a motive to kill Dolph; she learns quickly many people hated the talented musician. Soon afterward as someone steals Renie's to the max credit cards, Rudi's expensive violin bow is purloined. Judith wonders if the three incidents are connected and if so when she finds the line through them will it take her to the killer? SAKS AND VIOLINS is a terrific B&B amateur sleuth tale that fans of the series will enjoy as the setting returns to Hillside (after the SF adventure). The story line is driven by the cousins who separately seem logical, but when they get together chaos is the norm. The whodunit is fun to follow, but as always Mary Daheim's latest B&B is served up by Renie and Judith proving that the whole is greater than the sum of the two parts.

Three Days to Never
Tim Powers
ISBN: 0380976536, $24.95

In 1987 Frank Marrity's grandma dies suddenly during the New Age Harmonic Convergence. The family comes to the deceased's home in Pasadena where Frank's twelve years old daughter Daphne takes a videotape to watch. The flick is a lost Chaplin classic, but it does not leave the preadolescent watching it laughing. Instead some subliminal compelling symbols awaken a dormant fire starter-kinetic skill inside of Daphne; to her trepidation her new talent leads to the burning of the tape. Not long afterward, Frank going through his grandmother's documents uncovers a shocking find that she was Albert Einstein's illegitimate daughter. Though he tries to keep this quiet until he can figure out what this means, two dangerous groups learn of his connection to the late great scientist. The Kabbalah cell of the Mossad and a Gnostic sect want Frank, Daphne and the documents; both sides will do whatever to take what they covet as each believes that Einstein discovered a weapon more powerful than the atom bomb, but so fearful of its potential pandemic devastation, he refused to give this weapon of ultra mass destruction to even President Roosevelt. THREE DAYS TO NEVER is a superb science fiction espionage thriller that proves that Tim Powers (apropos name for this novel) writes tales faster than the speed of light. The action-packed story line is fast-paced yet never loses focus of the two Einstein offspring being in jeopardy with no one but themselves to trust. Readers will root for the precocious Daphne and her dad to defeat their adversaries, but the odds are overwhelming as the enemy comes from two sides and each moment a new one seems to arise. If relativity is genuine, this one sitting tale will receive several award nominations as one of the year's best thrillers.

Full of Grace
Dorothea Benton Frank
ISBN: 0060892358, $24.95

In South Carolina, New Jersey expatriates Big Al and Connie Russo worry about their daughter Maria Graziella living in sin with scientist Dr. Michael. They want their daughter to marry and no matter how many Hail Mary's and rosary beads used, so far Grace as she prefers to be called now that they no longer live among the Neapolitan-Americans refuses to honor her mother and father by saying I do. Thirty-two years old Grace loves her parents but also enjoys her commitment free relationship with Michael. He reciprocates though he muses she has saved him a fortune on little things like unnecessary dry cleaning and when no one is around, he admits that he loves his Grace. Adding to her parents concern over her lifestyle is that Grace has also stopped going to church; they blame the "atheist" she shacks up with. A family crisis forces a generational confrontation between the Catholic old country Italian-American parents and their assimilated Americanized offspring. Though South Carolina is the location for this fine generational relationship war, unlike Dorothea Benton Frank's "Lowcountry tales, the geography is irrelevant for the most part except to take the family out of Jersey, but not the Jersey out of the family. The story line focuses on commitments as Grace avoids them to her family, her lover, and even the church as if the word means disease. The story line focuses on Grace's relationships with those she loves from the perspective of her lack of enthusiasm towards strengthening any of them. Though the tale lacks action, fans who appreciate an insightful look at the importance of committing one's heart and soul to those they love will want to read Dorothea Benton Frank's pleasant story.

Jump at the Sun
Kim McLarin
ISBN: 0060528494, $24.95

Ph.D. Grace Jefferson seems to be living the American dream. Her husband adores her and her two delightful daughters cherish her. They reside in a wonderfully large suburban home in the Boston area where her spouse is a highly regarded scientist and their kids attend the best schools. So Grace asks herself why she is unhappy. Perhaps it is in her DNA to want to flee family responsibility as her sharecropping Grandma Rae did in Mississippi and her mom Mattie did not. In fact she wonders if she fears she is sacrificing her life for her family just like Mattie did. Though guilt threatens to suffocate her thoughts, Grace knows she loves her husband and their two children though currently their nagging demands are driving her crazy as she considers leaving the nest like Rae did and Mattie did not; grandma seemed to have pursued happiness while mom sacrificed hers. JUMP AT THE SUN is a deep character study starring a fascinating woman who feels conflicting emotions that make any decisions difficult and somewhat unsatisfactory. Grace is a superb character as she is the epitome of Martin Luther King's I have a Dream with her education and her lifestyle but has doubts that is all there is as she is unhappy with her upper middle class existence. Though she openly detests de jure prejudice and proud of her state rejecting gay bashing laws like legally limiting marriages (Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the country) and de facto prejudice (racial and gender poverty), Grace struggles with a deeper personal disaffection in this excellent thought provoking drama.

The Odyssey Gene
Kfir Luzzatto
ISBN: 1590804732, $12.99

New Nations Organization programmer John Hektor is selected for a promotion that is his once he passes the mandatory DNA test. To his shock, John fails when he tests D-positive. This costs him more than just the promotion as his girlfriend Maya reacts by dumping him as soon as he tells her; his family disowns him; his friends drop him; and at work he has become overnight an undesirable. Stunned by becoming an outcast, John knows the D-gene only means you have immunity to a nasty plague. He begins socializing with his new peers at seedy "positive" bars before deciding to escape hell on Earth for New Australia where the Andania colony is rumored to be a heaven for Positives. On the space ship he meets and falls in love with Entertainment Officer Dana. Upon arrival, John is drafted into the Andanian army where he finds brutality and atrocities everywhere as the New Australian "Newists" want to keep their superior position of being first using abuse to keep the newcomers Andanians down; while Andanians leadership remains preoccupied with rank has its privileges. This exciting science fiction tale is a beleaguered man's journey for self actualization once he becomes a social pariah. John experiences first hand the impact of discrimination and the atrocities of war in which the heroes are leaders who never get bloody let alone feel discomfit while the losers are the countless pawns sacrificed for political expediency. Though the Newist perspective is lacking as readers only learn that John believes they are animals, mindful of Candide, Kfir Luzzatto uses outer space to paint allegories to contemporary situations on earth like sanctified marriage amendments, justified Iraqi preemption and righteous Israeli-Palestine indignation.

Lost and Found
Carolyn Parkhurst
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316156388, $23.95

Lost and Found reality TV show is down to its final twelve contestants consisting of six two players per team on a round-the-world scavenger hunt. The winning duo earns a million dollars. With cameras following each person, jet lagged bone weary contestants are over the edge as the punishing tests have taken their toll. Their so-called images established for the show have worn thin and exposed is more of the real inner person as this dirty dozen survived so far the great race that is nearing the finish line. Eighteen year old Cassie and her widowed mom Laura do not talk about the baby that the older member gave away for adoption or the father of the child. Former child proteges Juliet and Dallas squabble over who is the star of their team. Siblings Carl and Jeff debate each other whether their comedic routines are loved or hated by others especially their ex wives. Trying to recapture the past, former high school lovers Betsy and Jason instead realize they have moved past one another. superstars Trent and Riley struggle with everyday living so they hoped this adrenalin rush will return them to their glory days. Finally former homosexual turned born again Christians Justin and Abby conclude that their marriage has not ended their desires for sinful same sex. Manipulated and maneuvered the twelve reveal all to the candid camera. Rotating perspective of the ensemble cast leads to each of the twelve and the avaricious producer having differing personalities, which makes this satire of greed fun to read. The story line uses the zany global scramble as a cover for a character study; readers learn what motivates each of the baker's dozen (contestants and the producer) especially when everyone is exhausted and masks are easily torn asunder. Humorous and poignant, everyone seems more lost than found.

The Burning
Thomas Legendre
Little, Brown
ISBN: 031615380X, $24.95

His friends Deck and Prentis persuade economist Logan Smith to join them for some fun in Las Vegas. Needing to escape the world of academia having just completed his graduate degree, Logan agrees. At a casino, Logan meets blackjack dealer Dallas Cole. He falls for her while she needs male attention and protection. Logan becomes an economics professor at Arizona State University while his new wife Dallas feels out of place in the Tempe area especially in the academia setting. Meanwhile as their relationship turns shaky, Logan works on a neo-Marxist economic theory, which begins to look promising and could shake up the world order. However, he has problems; at home his spouse's clinging needs are driving him crazy; at the university his proposals including an advanced course are being rejected without a second thought; and finally there is this supportive female peer who turns on his body, mind and soul. This is a terrific character study that star protagonists, especially Logan, who seem as human as they wish and yearn for something they do not have; the grass even in the desert is greener on the other side. Interestingly the macro economic theories are obviously complex yet easy to understand as Thomas Legendre does not dumb down but instead brings up his audience. Fans of a powerful intelligent drama will enjoy THE BURNING for something more in life.

Paint It Black
Janet Fitch
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316182745, $24.99

Michael Faraday hated college so he left Harvard without a diploma to become an artist. He became a painter with growing accolades in Los Angeles. As his fame grew, his dark side also grew until by 1981 he committed suicide. Art model Josie Tyrell was falling in love with Michael, but could never get him to fully commit his heart and soul to her because of his deep ties to his famous mother, concert pianist Meredith Loewy. Each woman holds the other culpable for why Michael killed himself. Meredith blames the white trash Josie; on the other hand Josie blames the aloof affluent Michael. However, ironically each begins to find solace with one another as they mourn the loss of the cherished one they both loved. PAINT IT BLACK is a fascinating relationship drama as the two women compete for the affection of Michael until he kills himself and they turn to one another for solace. Janet Fitch gets inside the souls of her triangle as the audience sees what drives Michael to suicide, why his mother lives in a sterile cold existence and how Josie is obsessed to overcome her trashy roots. Fans of contemporary character studies will enjoy Ms. Fitch's strong look at how relationships change when a pivotal life event (in this case death) occurs.

Trinity on Tylos
Pamela J. Dodd
Whiskey Creek
ISBN: 1593744919, $13.95

On the Excalibur, Security Chief Major Venice Dylenski and her spouse Steve, Chief Executive Officer Lieutenant Commander, love one another and appreciate working together on a mission to bring colonists to a new planet. Both know the hazards of venturing into sectors where humanity has never been before. The Excalibur crew is unprepared for the Archeons, an alien race who seemingly comes out of nowhere. Mission Captain McPherson accepts the word of peace and friendship from Archeon Captain Azareel and agrees to exchange information over the objection of some of his officers. He should have as the Archeon prove cleverly duplicitous and take control of the Excalibur. They quickly return the ship back to the humans, but take two females of "breeding" age, Venice and Agriculture Technician 1st Class Alathea Duke to serve as revered Lady surrogate mothers to the next generation rugrats. The fact that a veteran senior officer who earlier warned Venice about safety violations would literally ignore security and hand over his data base is inane. However ignoring that key decision (if you can't skip the book), TRINITY ON TYLOS is a fascinating science fiction thriller starring a courageous heroine and a desperate race on the eve of extinction. The dilemma confronting Azareel grips the audience as he does deeds he hates, but considers for the greater good of his species supersedes his personal feelings; interestingly Venice is his ethical mirror as she struggles with what to do. This is a strong morality drama that requires one enormous light year leap of faith well worth the jump.

No Ordinary Love
Karen Wiesner
Whiskey Creek
ISBN: 1593746954, $13.95

Teenager Vincent Carson took in ten years old Kira Gunn, who does not remember anything about her life before she began her Manhattan odyssey. Now fifteen years later, Kira is considered a top fashion designer, but does not know her roots or how she feels about Vincent. She craves the truth, but fears that the overly protective Vincent might be the enemy though she admits that sounds paranoid as he has been her guardian angel. Vincent is obsessed with keeping Kira safe. He realizes she desperately seeks to know who she is and why she was alone until he saved her life. His fear is that if she insists on investigating her past, they will come to kill them. Not worried about his own life, Vincent must persuade Kira to give it up though that has become an issue, the first one to threaten their relationship. They still look for her and him as he disobeyed their order. His feelings ironically have matured from cherished older brother to beloved father to hopefully he dreams of loving mate, but deep in his gut he believes that will never happen as protecting her is his only allowance. NO ORDINARY LOVE, the first book of the Incognito series, is a superb romantic suspense thriller that has the audience wondering what is going on from the prologue in which an agent of an unnamed (at that point) group realizes what happened. The exhilarating story line never slows down until the final confrontation as Kira's thirst for her heritage leads her and her champion from relative safety into dangerous situations. The cast especially the lead duo and the agent searching for them seems genuine, which in turn makes the conspiratorial cover-up by a clandestine group feel real too. As always Karen Wiesner writes a must read for sub-genre fans.

Romancing Spain
Lamar Herrin
ISBN: 1932961224, $23.95

He looks back thirty years to when he first met the woman he married and thinks how romantic he was (and still is) as he informed her that she is his Sancho Panza. Aparo reminded Lamar that Panza was squat (she is not he swears) and dumber than Quixote for following his lead. Now three decades later, three offspring later he ponders whether he fell in love with the Spanish culture as epitomized by his beloved Aparo or by falling in love with Aparo he fell in love with the Spanish culture. He knows even now the clash between his in your face Kentucky Protestant upbringing and her a gentile Catholic Spaniard. Thus as a sort of second honeymoon, the pair retrace the roots of their love by traveling the countryside together while the author ponders whether he was ROMANCING SPAIN when he courted Aparo or romancing Aparo and found Spain; either way Lamar Herrin knows that three decades ago he found his soulmate. This terrific lyrical biography combines a beautiful declaration of love with a wonderful look at Spain from an American expatriate and the wife he still cherishes. Readers will appreciate the travelogue on three levels: a true love story and salute to his wife, a guide to Spain, and a deep philosophical debate. Mr. Herrin's thought provoking question as to whether it is Spain, which shaped his beloved, or Aparo is delicately and eloquently developed so that the audience will ponder what dynamics shaped the roots of those they cherish. ROMANCING SPAIN is an insightful romantic philosophical treasure.

Pressing the Bet
W.L. Ripley
ISBN: 0312274610, $23.95

In 1995 Vegas, Cole Springer stole gangster Red Cavanaugh's brand new Cadillac when the man reneged on paying off a ten thousand dollar sucker bet before "parking it in the fountains at Caesars". He did twenty hours community service and was warned by some thugs that Red did not want him back in town ever. In the present in a Denver hospital, Nate Robinson receives a call from Las Vegas police asking about his son and for him to come to identify a body they believe is Jesse. Unable to leave the hospital as he is in traction, Nate calls Cole in Aspen to go to Vegas to identify a corpse in the morgue who might be his thirty-seven years old son Jesse. Cole quickly determines the dead man looks like Jesse's twin, but is not Nate's son. After eluding thugs and LVPD Detective Tara St. John (well not so much her), he finds Jesse, who believes he was the intended target and that his "dibble" was an unfortunate victim in the wrong place at the wrong time. Cole keeps digging causing havoc for anyone in his path Trying to learn the truth before Red finds him. This is a zany insider look at Las Vegas with a loony support cast who bring out the worst in the lead protagonist, which in turns makes for a wild ride. The story line is all over the place, but no one will care as Cole keeps the plot somewhat anchored as the center of chaos in the Ripley universe. Not for everyone, fans of frenzied Elmore Leonard thrillers will want to read PRESSING THE BET as this Get Springer tale is entertaining insane fun.

Primary Storm
Brendan DuBois
ISBN: 0312327331, $23.95

The road to the White House starts in New Hampshire where Shoreline Magazine columnist Lewis Cole, former Department of Defense research analyst, resides. Two days ago Secret Service Agent Spenser Harris visited Cole in his Tyler Beach home to gauge a threat one day before front-running Senator Jackson Hale, who last week won the Iowa caucus, speaks at the Tyler Conference center. Lewis is on the list of interesting people because of his former classified work, his odd monthly government compensation, and his dating of Hale volunteer Annie Wynn. During Hale's speech, someone fires shots at him, but no one is hurt. The Secret Service believes that Cole is the wannabe assassin. Lewis decides not to sit idly by as his reputation is destroyed while someone wants him dead too. However, when he starts actively seeking the culprit, those he care about are endangered as a threat to force him to back down and take the hit or else risk death to those he cares about. His only ally who he trusts is Felix Tinios, known for being on the wrong side of the law but the right side of major issues. The latest Cole thriller is a fabulous story that grips readers from the moment the Secret service interrogates a reticent Lewis and never slows down until Felix takes the beleaguered hero to an airport so he can collect the only reward that matters. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action as the evidence mounts that Cole is the triggerman and he sets out to prove he is not even while his loved ones are threatened if he intercedes. Brendan DuBois uses the real primary mania as backdrop to a strong thriller that the audience will appreciate.

First Friends
Marcia Willett
ISBN: 0312306628, $12.95

In 1964 twelve year old Kate and Cass met at boarding school on the Somerset coast. They became friends sharing secrets, desires, and heartache over the years. Both wed British naval officers, but hate their unfulfilling marriages especially with their spouses at sea for long periods as life at home is dull and frequent affairs is the norm. Cass cherishes finding a new hunk while Kate remains faithful but unhappy. However, in 1981 Kate attends the funeral of Cass's fifteen years old daughter Charlotte that shakes both women to their core. Both feel guilty over the teen's death that may be the end of a seventeen year best friends' relationship as secrets are revealed about who slept with whom. FIRST FRIENDS is a fascinating look at British military spouses, who stay behind with the children while their mates are off on military ventures that are often dangerous. The story line is driven by the two best buddies whose husbands' careers force them to constantly relocate and leave them lonely. How they react to their similar situations makes for an insightful look at the sacrifice of military families. Though lacking in any major excitement even with the death of a teen hanging over the entire novel and readers wanting to know what happened to cause Charlotte's demise, Marcia Willett provides a strong character study that spotlights the military family.

Counter Play
Robert K. Tanenbaum
ISBN: 0743271130, $26.00, 448 pp.

Andrew Kane was a shoe-in to become the next mayor of New York City but New York District Attorney Roger "Butch" Karp exposed him for the master criminal he is. He has minions working for him within the police department, the Catholic Church, and the city government. Now he is on his way to be tested at a private psychiatric facility to see if he can get off on an insanity plea. The car stops by an overturned a school bus but it is a trap set by his allies to free Kane. Kane is working with al Qaeda agents to hit a target that will cause the world as much pain as 9/11 did. He is needed for his connections to make the incident happen and in return he has been promised a fortune and a place to live. Kane also has another goal: to kill the people Karp loves, including his wife, children, and friends before killing the district attorney. Many people die including young children making Butch determined to figure out what Kane is planning and stop it before more innocents are killed; an unusual band are working to help him including a homeless man who lives in the subway tunnels. Though a bit over the top, there is plenty of action in this exciting police procedural. The characters in COUNTER PLAY are well developed and readers will find it hard to figure out who are the villains masquerading as priests and law enforcement and who are the truly good men and women who will lay down their lives if necessary to stop Kane and the terrorists. Robert K. Tanenbaum keeps writing enthralling tales that are full of red herrings and unexpected curves.

Copper River
William Kent Krueger
ISBN: 0743278402, $24.00

They were professionals hired by a man who believes that former Sheriff Cork O'Connor killed his son. Cork's efforts to reason with this man and prove he is not the culprit land on deaf ears. Thee hit men actually shoot him in the leg, but he escapes barely. Cork knows he needs a place to hide away and heal, but he fears bringing these paid killers to the only possible safe house, his cousin's ranch in remote Bodine, Michigan overlooking the spot where the Edmund Fitzgerald went down in Lake Superior. Cork manages to reach Jewell DuBois' spread where the widow veterinarian and single mother of thirteen years old Renoir fixes his leg. While Cork is a poor patient worried what he may bring to his cousin and her son, his friends seek to prove his innocence. Meanwhile Ren, his best friend tomboy Charlie, and Stash see the corpse of a teenage girl floating in the Copper River. Unable to resist, Cork investigates what seems a homicide rather than an accident, but his efforts endanger those he cares about especially Ren. In his latest Upper Peninsular Michigan thriller, William Kent Krueger displays his love for the area with his vivid descriptions that enable the audience to feel they are actually looking out at Lake Superior. The story line is fast-paced though the hero is not due to his leg injury; however, the crime caper lacks some of the freshness, one of the prime strengths of the previous O'Connor Corkers (see MERCY FALLS) as the teens in trouble seems overkill with Cork already bringing peril with him as his companion. Still Mr. Kreuger provides a solid whodunit that showcases the stark beauty of Northern Michigan contrasted with the ugliness of a killer.

Twenty Questions
Alison Clement
ISBN: 0743272668, $23.00

When she saw the newspaper, Oregon elementary school cafeteria cook June Duvall knew instantly how fortunate she was. Yesterday her car broke down and Ronald Pruett offered her a ride; she considered accepting it as she hates saying no, but declined anyway. Pruett has been arrested for the strangulation murder of Vernay Hanks, a waitress at Darnay's Hamburgers, who obviously said yes to his ride offer. Though not sure why she cannot stay out of this tragedy, June, rationalizing it as survivor's guilt, befriends the victim's daughter, ten years old student Cindy, and her newly named guardian, her crotchety Uncle Harlan. Though she loves her spouse Bill as she always thinks of the Nyro-Fifth dimension tune, she finds herself spending more time with the grieving duo. This leads her to wonder what is lacking with her relationship with Bill, but soon a bigger puzzle surfaces when Cindy wears a bracelet that belongs to June's mother-in-law; other evidence surfaces linking Bill with Vernay as June, applying the kids' game TWENTY QUESTIONS, inadvertently begins to disentangle the circumstances that led to the woman's homicide. Though the anti-war stance seems out of place, this fine drama makes strong cases that justice is myopic when it comes to the unfair treatment of the disenfranchised poor and on a personal scale to be honest with yourself and others in relationships. June is a terrific protagonist struggling with deep feelings of guilt that ignite inside her when she realizes Cindy attends her school. She knows her lies to gain access is wrong though her intentions are honorable. The amateur sleuth elements augment a deep character study of personal and often overlooked societal responsibilities to one another.

Wishing Makes It So
Marilyn Meredith
Hard Shell Word Factory
ISBN: 0759937605, $10.95

Kenniwick County Social Services Department Social Worker Jocelyn Perigard explains to Alyse and Steven Chrestman that the four year girl they want to adopt has had behavioral problems in the foster homes that she resided in. However, the idealistic young couple, parents of three healthy children (Andrew, Holly and toddler Pammy), wants to do something good for someone else. They chose the troubled Belinda because they believe their successful parenting experience coupled with his background as a social worker and her PH.D and work with preschoolers provide them with the skills to succeed in bringing the child into a loving caring environment. However, in spite of their good intentions, Belinda proved more than just a handful. At times sweet and innocent, she more often is vindictive, sneaky, and nasty. She takes pleasure in hurting other children and vandalizing other people's property. However, she soon decides that she needs to be the only child in the Chrestman household and considers becoming the only female as she covets her daddy's attention. Mommy knows but daddy seems charmed by the child. WISHING MAKES IT SO is a deep character study that Dean Koontz would be proud to have written as the suspense grips readers from start to finish. The story line is fast-paced but filled with surprise spins as tension mounts from the moment Belinda enters the Chrestman home and never slows down until her final arrival at the house she called home for awhile. Readers who appreciate a strong tense thriller filled with real people will want to read Marilyn Meredith's superb shocker in which the roads to hell is paved with good intentions while your escort may be a beautiful little girl with a devil of a heart.

A Bite to Remember
Lynsay Sands
ISBN: 006077407X, $6.99

Vampire Vincent Argeneau knows he needs outside help to uncover the culprit sabotaging his film production company. Sight unseen he accepts his cousin Bastien's recommendation and hires expert private investigators Jackie Morrisey and Tiny McGraw to help him. Worse yet, Bastien's mom, Vincent's Aunt Marguerite has left Canada because she believes her nephew is lonely and needs her help. Finally Vincent has a heart attack (that is if vampires could have heart attacks) when he realizes that his sleuth is mortal. To his chagrin, Jackie knows him to well including the fact that he like his dad need live blood not bagged blood to survive. She also makes it clear that she believes all immortals belong in hell, but will do the job of protecting the vampire and uncovering the identity of the saboteur. Jackie hides from her client that she finds him sexy and desirable. Vincent finds Jackie as the first refreshing thing he has come across since just after he came across. He wonders if she is his life mate and will she accept joining him in the immortality of love. The latest Argeneau vampire romance (see LOVE BITES and SINGLE WHITE VAMPIRE) is a terrific entry that grips the audience from the moment that Vincent realizes that his cousin sent him a female mortal. This seemingly star-crossed match is great as the paring has some blood issues between them, which in turn keep readers wondering how these soulmates will come together. A BITE TO REMEMBER is a fabulous addition to the world's most dysfunctional vampire family as somber Jackie fits right in the mix.

Scandal in Spring
Lisa Kleypas
ISBN: 0060562536, $7.99

Daisy Bowman cannot believe that she is the only Wallflower without finding a spouse. Three Seasons without a catch has frustrated her father, Thomas who announces to her and his wife that since she will never score a spouse from the British peerage, he will choose a husband for her. He selects haughty American Matthew Swift. Of all the men her dad could select, Daisy cannot believe he chose a man she has detested for years. She is determined to find a suitor before the arrogant Yank arrives in town. She fails to meet her timeline, but is elated when she finds the hunk kind and sensual. As they fall in love, a SCANDAL IN SPRING threatens everything as hate begins to grow between them. The fourth and final seasonal Wallflower tale is a terrific entry starring the likable quartet leader Daisy and the man who hurt her several years ago. The lead couple is a delightful pairing because of their history, but also will remind series fans of the three previous romantic duets. The story line is fun as Daisy goes from horror to contempt to love and finally completing the circle back to horror and contempt in a smooth transition that makes for a fine interesting Victorian romance.

Never a Lady
Jacquie D'Alessandro
ISBN: 0060779411, $6.99

Every hostess amongst the Ton wants the great fortuneteller Alexandra "Madam" Larchmont to provide "entertainment" to their guests. However, at a particular gala she notices Viscount Colin Oliver and fears he will reveal who she really is. Four years ago, he caught her trying to pickpocket his watch. Colin knows who she is as he has not forgotten the beautiful thief who he is very attracted to. He says nothing about her past, but has her read his fortune. He is stunned and wary when she mentions that the cards say he is in danger as he expects to die soon. When they team up to save a friend from harm, they cannot resist their growing attraction to one another and quickly become lovers. However, Alexandra knows his cards and hers so tries to win what she can from her beloved because betrayal and hurt are in the cards. NEVER A LADY is an amusing paranormal historical romance that grips readers the moment that Madam Larchmont reading the fortune of Lady Miranda turns pale with the customer panicking that the fortuneteller has seen something bad. The story line never slows down as the audience knows its in the cards that this duo belongs together especially since Colin is a terrific counterpoint to the somewhat mischievous felonious Alexandra. Their amateur sleuthing augments a fabulous nineteenth century tale.

Tempting the Wolf
Lois Greiman
ISBN: 0060783982, $6.99

Over the centuries ever since he disobeyed the sorceress siren that made him pay the price of his refusal to murder a friend, O'Banyon has been a favorite of the ladies. Though he cherishes them as much as they do him, he hides from his horde of females and for that matter everyone because he was cursed and at times is more wolf than man. He has few delusions of ever escaping from his plight so he enjoys it with the ladies. However, in 1818 his feelings are about to change when "The Irish Hound" as he has been called for hundreds of years meets Antoinette "the woman in white" Desbonnet. For some reason he wants her in away that has never occurred to him before. He courts her even as she welcomes his lure though she knows she should flee. As they fall in love, he wonders if she is his salvation as she tames the beast in him, but soon becomes concerned for her as an old adversary decides to teach him a further lesson by destroying his beloved. TEMPTING THE WOLF is a wonderful Regency romantic fantasy. Readers will root for the two lead protagonists to find a way to overcome their deadly adversary. As the author did with TAMING THE BARBARIAN, Lois Greiman provides her fans with a delightful action-packed romantic fantasy.

Playing My Mother's Blues
Valerie Wilson Wesley
ISBN: 0060890053, $12.95

Impetuous Maria left her spouse Hilton Dells for Durell Alexander. However, when she walked out on Hilton and became Mariah, she also abandoned her daughters seven year old Dani Carter and seventeen year old Rose. However, several months after she deserted her family for a love affair, the hotheaded Mariah killed her lover. She spent time in jail for the homicide while Hilton's sister Lucille raised her nieces especially the "baby". Maria reads an obit that Hilton just died. Whereas Dani overcame the betrayal, but remains curious about the woman she remembers filled with elan; Rose has always acted as if their mom died years ago. Now the death of Hilton has brought to the surface the one guilt that Maria has tried to bury, abandoning her children. She wants to reconcile with them. Dani needs to understand her mom as she finds herself following her mother's path being marred with children, but having an affair. Rose, raging with rancor, wants nothing to do with the woman whose leaving devastated her. Lucille wants her former sister-in-law to stay away from her nieces. These four women meet ostensibly to bury Hilton but to exhume the past. The viewpoint constantly switches mostly between Mariah, Rose, and Dani, and to a much lesser degree Lucille so that the audience sees the same incident from dissimilar perspectives. For instance what seems like a molehill to Maria is Mt. Everest to Rose as each looks back to the late 1960s early 1970s differently. The fine character study enables the audience to understand how a pivotal event over two decades ago still fully impacts the players. Though at times the introspection can slow down the plot, fans will enjoy this family drama starring believable protagonists struggling to understand one another.

Reality TV Bites
Shane Bolks
ISBN: 0060773111, $12.95

In Chicago, beautiful Allison Holloway seems to have it all as she enjoy her interior designer job, makes good money, dates bulls, and loves reality TV though she would not mind a Prince Charming whisking her away to his magical castle. However, her boss Miranda informs Allison that she and her company Interiors by M will be on Kamikaze Makeover competing against a rival firm for three million dollars and their reputation. Allison struggles with the concept of participating in front of millions instead of being her usual couch potatoes spectator self. Her date Dave takes her to the Bulls games while Prince Nicolo wants to sleep with her and the activist media watches her every move to survive the war in which traitors, backstabbers, snipers and cheats will do anything to win even destroying a woman trying to play by the rules. This is lighthearted satirical romantic romp gently shreds reality TV, the media feeding frenzy, and fairy tales that encourage a woman to wait for her prince to arrive. The amusing chock lit story line focuses mostly on Allison as she struggles with the reality of invasion into her private life. The support cast especially the Prince, Dave, her long time friend Rory and mom add humor to a fun frolic.

Return of the Highlander
Sara Mackenzie
ISBN: 0060795409, $5.99

The Fiosaiche Gaelic sorceress awakens The Black Maclean, Chieftain of Fasail, from his two and a half plus century death sleep to give him a final chance to correct his arrogant deeds that led to so many dead. He last walked the earth in 1746, but now finds metal monsters moving at incredible speeds and his Highland Castle Drumaird in ruins. No one sees him, but he observes all and wonders how a ghost can correct the past. Arabella "Bella" Ryan and her boyfriend Brian reside in Drumaird Cottage while she researches the Black MacLean for a historical book she is writing. However, , her obsession over Maclean drives Brian away though she feels it was more her increasing assertiveness from scholarly mouse to roaring lioness that sent him off as she refused to listen to his criticism of her any longer However, she becomes concerned when she begins to see the Black MacLean in her dreams. As he tries to obtain her help, they begin to fall in love with her assuming he is her fantasy lover and he believing she is his salvation. Can a born again with passion ghost and a recently converted to self-assurance mortal find the path to happiness perhaps with the matchmaking seamstress skills of a Fiosaiche. The first Immortal Warriors tale, RETURN OF THE HIGHLANDER, is a terrific paranormal romance that uses elements normally seen in a time travel tale to tell the story of the redemption power of love. Bella and Maclean make a delightful star-crossed couple who fall in love, but both know that in spite of their haunting one another there is no future. Readers will treasure Sara Mackenzie's first-rate novel that makes believers out of us skeptics who scoff at the PASSIONS OF THE GHOST.

Once Upon a Wedding Night
Sophie Jordan
ISBN: 0061122203, $5.99

In 1835 healthy Lord Edward Brookshire suddenly dies at thirty-five years old leaving his widow Meredith legally with nothing. His solicitors inform Meredith and her Aunt Eleanor that there is no living heir so she will own everything. That changes when the solicitors doing the legal requirement find that Edward's half-brother Nicholas Caulfield lives and is coming to claim his title and the Oak Run estate. Meredith assumes that Nicholas sharing the same blood as Edward would prove uncharitable towards her increasingly unstable dad, her aunt, the few remaining loyal servants and herself. She and Eleanor decide to fake a pregnancy leading to an infant boy to claim as the heir which is ironic since Meredith remains a virgin after seven years of marriage to an absentee spouse. When Nick arrives, he immediately distrusts everyone especially the widow as he has returned home where he and his mother were once tossed out. As the enemy combatants skirmish they fall in love, but who will swallow their pride and take a chance with the truth that beats inside each heart? This delightful debut is a fine historical romance starring a desperate heroine and a not so likable male lead. Interestingly it is Nick whose arrogance and nastiness provides a freshness to an otherwise somewhat by the book tale as he has a reason to hate the villagers and distrust the widow. As he begins to admire Meredith for caring about others and soon falls in love with her, she feels like a traitor as she shares his deepest feelings especially when she observes a different side to him when it comes to the downtrodden and helpless. Sub-genre fans will look forward to more works by Sophie Jordan, who provides a strong opening act.

From London with Love
Jenna Petersen
ISBN: 0060798610, $5.99

Recruited in 1808, four years later widow Meredith Sinclair is one of Lady M's best agents as she always accomplishes the mission. Her current assignment concerns her as she owes the target a debt since he, Marquis Tristan Archer, saved her life. Lady M's Lieutenant Charles Isley explains that a painting at the Genevieve Art House was tampered with and later stolen allegedly by Tristan; the belief is that it was used to pass a seditious message against the country. Though she wants to refuse as doesn't want to deal Trevor, Meredith knows the importance of this undertaking that requires her skills to seduce the truth out of anyone even the rogue whose caresses made her tingle. As she begins her deadly game of seduction, she finds Tristan a willing partner. As they fall in love, Meredith feels her heart cannot be wrong that he would never act treasonous towards England. However, if not him, who as everything she finds out screams out that he is a traitor. Could her heart also be a traitor? Fans of historical romantic espionage thrillers will want to read Jenna Peterson first tale in a n exciting trilogy. The lead couple is a delightful duo dueling one another as they try to seduce each other while hiding their real agenda; each suspects the other of wrong doing, but believe their respective heart is the traitor. Paraphrasing Avon editor Mary Chen whose description is so on the mark, FROM LONDON WITH LOVE is a clever rendition of Charlie's Angels in Regency England.

Just Short of Crazy
Nina Foxx
ISBN: 0060847999, $12.99

At the same time that her cousin is preparing for her wedding, attorney Alexis Montague Pearson struggles with the disintegration of her relationship to her now former fiance. Her boss assumes she needs cheering up and offers to be the cheerleader, but his inappropriate action angers Alexis, who quits and files a sexual harassment suit. To release her rage against males, Alexis decides to attend her Tae Kwon Do class though she feels bad that the last time she was there she out-sparred businessman Remedy Brown, accidentally breaking his elbow during their battle. Remedy likes Alexis and plans to use the broken arm incident as an avenue to get to know her. However, he has a slight problem, his ex-wife Ayzah, encouraged by her man, tries to extort money out of Remedy using their son as a pawn. Nina Foxx's romantic suspense thriller is actually the comparative tale of two women as the audience along with Remedy contrast Alexis and Ayzah, who rotate first person perspective. The story line is driven by these females as Ayzah is a loose cannon, who uses the "Hood" as a protective mechanism while Alexis is a professional, who learned dirty fighting at a different type of bar than her adversary. Fans of a deep character study will want to read Ms. Foxx's strong comparative analysis of two diverse females whose only link is Remedy.

Mad About Max
Lisa Plumley
ISBN: 0821776975, $6.50

In Phoenix Max Nolan believes not to tempt luck; if a suit brings you a break that becomes your lucky suit to wear when you need good luck. However, the superstitious pet boutique owner Max angers his girlfriend of six months Sarabeth over a trip to Aruba with her vs. a pet boutique business venture with his partner Oliver Pickett. In a fit of pique she gives away his clothing including his lucky suit to Successfully Dressed Donations, a charity shop. Desperate to at least get his winning suit back, Max dressed as "Mr. Tighty-Whities" pleads with manager Lucy Logan to cut him some slack and return his suit to him; he even offers to pay. Lucy needing volunteers to work the store blackmails Max into helping out. Max and Lucy think the other is gorgeous, but neither wants an involvement with the other sex at this time. Meanwhile Max finds he enjoys working at the store especially meeting and helping people. He makes new friends including pals of Lucy, who believe they are a perfect match and plan to see that the newcomer and the manager come tougher romantically. The relationships between the lead couple (opposites do attract) and another between zany support characters make for a fine lighthearted romantic romp. Max and Lucy cannot resist one another though he insists to himself he is using her charity shop to gain clients from her wealthy donors. Their spats and kisses make for a fine tale that contemporary fans will enjoy (and be reminded to donate those items in the closet not being used – at least give away his that is).

One Forbidden Evening
Jo Goodman
ISBN: 0821777769, $6.99

In 1817 the masquerade ball hosted by rakish Earl Christopher Hollins is boring. However, the tedium ends abruptly when he notices a woman dressed as Boudica. She has his full attention as he neglects his guests when his warrior queen seduces him. However, before he can learn her identity, Boudica vanishes into the night leaving hr spear in his bedroom. Unable to forget her, Christopher snoops and soon learns his sex goddess is recently widowed Cybelline Caldwell, a mother of a small child. Cybelline stepped out of character for the ball needing an escape from her grief and her impoverished state and of trying to bring to life her neglected estate. During a blizzard, Christopher rescues Cybelline; he hopes that wins the way into her heart, but he soon finds an adversary stalking her as she has secrets involving her spouse Nicholas' death that if revealed could ruin someone. The opening sexual encounter, perhaps a bit overly drawn out, is a sixth of the book with the heat generated making global warming seem frigid. The Regency story line is driven by the lead couple as he wants his Boudica in spite of her baggage of a child, a late spouse, and her deceased husband's secrets. She desires him, but fears any relationship. Fans of the Regencies will enjoy Boudica warrior woman get her man.

On a Highland Shore
Kathleen Givens
ISBN: 1416509909, $14.00

In 1263 in Somerstrath, Scotland, Margaret MacDonald, the daughter of the Laird, looks forward to her upcoming wedding to Lachlan Ross in a few weeks. However, her euphoria is crushed when she catches Lachlan with her sister Fiona. Their fathers insist Lachlan and Margaret wills still marry and her future spouse swears this was an aberration and he will be a faithful husband Not long after that her newly formed doubts turn to rage and sorrow when marauding Norsemen attack her family's keep, killing everyone except her and her younger brother taken prisoner by the invaders. Not long after the massacre, Gannon MacMagnus comes across the shocked Margaret and provides her with aid. Needing any help she can get if she is complete her quest to rescue her sibling, she accepts his help though the kind stranger is obviously of Viking blood. Though Gannon doubts her brother can be rescued by them, he agrees to help her try even as they fall in love one step at a time. ON A HIGHLAND SHORE is a fine medieval romance that runs on two subplots for the first third of the novel before the separate strings of Margaret and Gannon tie together. The story line emphasizes the Norsemen impact on Scotland, but not just the typical invades that kills, rapes and plunders. Instead the audience also sees the positive impact on society especially through Gannon and his kin. Kathleen Givens gives her readers a delightful thirteenth century romance starring two likable characters in love who must overcome their respective heritages especially the recent massacre if they are to forge a permanent relationship.

A Hard Man to Love
Kathleen Lawless
ISBN: 1416507523, $14.00

Widow Montana "Monty" Blackstone plans to convert part of her Black Hills Ranch into the Black Creek Resort, a spa for people to escape from their daily lives. Her mother-in-law Helen hires Steele "Midas" Hardt, a former professional gambler, to run the ranch which has seen some neglect. Monty fires Midas within seconds of meeting him, but he convinces her to retain him before he kisses her. To their shock that kiss leads to them making love in the not opened spa. As Monty and Midas work together to make her dream come true, he hides his real agenda from her. Soon he finds himself in love and believes Monty reciprocates, but as he ironically tells his brother Sloan he will need all the luck in the world to pull off this deal without losing his girl. Steele definitely has the Midas touch as he goes from fired to sex in minutes. The story line is a lighthearted contemporary romp starring an independent woman who follows her dream and the man who can help her make it happen if she gives up some of her obsessive need for autonomy. Fans will enjoy the lead couple's differing dilemmas as they fall in love but she fears the loss of her freedom and he worries about what will occur once she learns the truth. A HARD MAN TO LOVE is a fine ranch resort romance.

Thrill Me to Death
Roxanne St. Claire
ISBN: 1416521852, $6.99

Twenty-eight years old widow Corinne "Cori" Cooper Peyton inherited billions when her elderly spouse William died. Though she misses her late husband as she loved him dearly, she enjoys her work as the administrator of The Peyton Foundation, a philanthropic wing of powerful Peyton Enterprises. The Foundation provides financial and legal assistance to surviving family member of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. When someone tries to kill Cori, she turns to her friend Lucy Sharpe, owner of Bullet Catchers, a firm that provides bodyguards and personnel security experts. Lucy assigns Max Roper to keep Cori safe and ascertain whether someone murdered William, who officially died of a heart attack. Five years ago Max and Cori were lovers before her father died and she dumped him to marry William. Both Cori and Max wonder if resentment will curtail his effectiveness as her unknown adversary still wants her dead. The second Bullet Catcher tale (see KILL ME TWICE), THRILL ME TO DEATH, is a fast-paced romantic suspense thriller that once it accelerates (about a fifth of the way in), the plot never slows down until the final thrilling confrontation. Readers will enjoy this woman in peril story line because of the changing relationship between the lead characters as the initial professional-client interaction becomes a loving keep her safe at all cost connection while the support cast adds tension and drama as the audience wonders who wants Cori dead.

Wuthering High
Cara Lockwood
ISBN: 1416524754, $9.99, 286 pp.

After maxing out her hated step-mother's credit card and stealing and crashing her father's BMW, both her mother and dad decide to send her to a school that deals with behavior problems. Bard Academy, located on Nowheresville Island off Maine is a dark and foreboding place, gothic architecture with gargoyles on every buildings give it a creepy atmosphere. Miranda knows she is going to hate it when she meets her roommate who has pictures of Satan on her wall and believes in vampires. Strange things happen in Bard Academy starting with the light turning on in her closet with her and her roommate in their beds. A boy name Heathcliffe is fixated on her and calls her Cathy and rescue hers whenever a fire breaks out which happens when she hears a cackling laugh. Her school counselor is always wearing wet clothes and drips water wherever she goes. When Miranda learns the truth about what is happening at the school, she and her friends find themselves in danger. Miranda is angry at her father for abandoning her mother and marrying a bimbo nine years older than she is. Her misbehavior is a way to gain attention from her father who ignores her. The lessons at Bard Academy helps her accept her life as it is not as she would like it to be. She also learns that the only person she can change is herself. Cara Lockwood has written a charming fantasy that sends important messages to teens who will understand them because Miranda, using asides, explains them to herself. This reviewer would love to see a sequel to WUTHERING HIGH.

Adios to My Old Life
Caridad Ferrer
ISBN: 1416524738, $9.95

Seventeen years old Ali Montero has dreamed of being a superstar Latina performer for years. She is good as evident by how often friends and family ask her to sing and play the guitar. However, without parental permission as she assumes her strict dad would say no, Ali enters the Oye Mi Canto talent search seeking the "Next Latin Superstar". Shocking herself, Ali makes it to the semifinals of the competition. However, her world has become overwhelming between school, family commands, hiding her secret, and the contest's side demands including interviews and responding to internet fans. Her rivals are nasty competitors who believe in winning at all costs. Ali feels engulfed by it all and begins to reconsider her dream that feels more like a nightmare everyday though she still wants to become a singer but refuses to give up her ethics just to win. ADIOS TO MY OLD LIFE is an interesting teen character study starring a courageous girl who refuses to compromise on her values to win the competition. This puts her at odds with her opponents who adopt the dictum of Jesse Ventura (the "Body" wrestler persona not the Minnesota governor) that it is not how well you play the game, but how well you cheat. Though the tale takes a bit too long to establish the cast, it is worth the wait as young readers will enjoy this fine contemporary tale that focuses on the price of fame.

Oh My Goth
Gena Showalter
ISBN: 1416529748, $9.95

In high school, the students dress up as "Barbies" with four exceptions whose garb is "Goth". The quartet is treated as freaks by the norms. Jade Leigh believes in expressing her individuality as a Goth; she does not care that her peers revile her and talk disparagingly about her behind her back; especially Mercedes, the most popular student in the class as she loathes Jade with a passion. Most of the teachers detest Jade too. The Principal takes Jade and Mercedes to a building in an out of the way place. There a doctor sedates them and places them in a virtual reality experiment where most of the pupils are Goths while the few Barbie clones are Jade's few friends in the real world, but hate her in this realm. Only by working together can Jade and Mercedes find a way out of their bizarre new world. Both Mercedes and Jade learn life lessons about tolerance and acceptance of another person's lifestyle and interests. Teens will enjoy OH MY GOTH as they will relate to the school scene especially since the lead duo seems three dimensional in the real world and in the virtual realm. This is a fine values driven tale.

The Sex Quotient
Jamie Sobrato
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373792700, $4.75

In San Francisco Macy Thomaston competes with Griffin Reed for the position of creative director at Bronson and Wade the ad agency they both work at though he has seniority and greater experience than her. Her friend Lauren Parish quoting an article in the Journal of American Medicine informs Macy of a research study that proves sexual pleasure reduces an individuals IQ temporarily so she concocts a scheme to insure her rival loses brain power and makes dumb errors. She sets her plan in motion to seduce Griffin while expecting not to enjoy any sensual pleasure so that she lucidly thinks about her actions while he fuddle-brained screws up on his counter maneuvers. The only flaw in her plot is that when she blows his head, she leaves herself senseless too. THE SEX QUOTIENT is an amiable romantic romp that will provide plenty of amusing fun for readers sort of mindful of a heated version of a hotter Hudson-Day tale. The solid secondary cast keeps the tale from going to light as they bring some zaniness but mostly help anchor the shenanigans of the lead female protagonist. Still it is Macy's sexual escapades that make Jamie Sobrato's contemporary a pleasant blithe read.

Never Happened
Debra Webb
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 0373880995, $5.50

Alexis "Alex" Jackson runs NEVER HAPPENED, a cleaning service that expunges signs of death (natural, suicidal or homicidal) from a home. Her business is a success as the market is booming with no indication that it will slow down. However, while her work has enabled her to remain independent, the forty years old woman is lonely though she has dated a cop or two and has her recovering alcoholic mom to take care of. Used to the dead, even Alex is shook when she reads in the Miami Tribune that Miami Beach Detective Rich Henson was dead. She had a drink with him last night and slept with him three months ago. CIA operative Austin Blake enters her life wanting to know more about her relationship with the dead cop and one of her clean-ups. Some of his inquiries seems a bit personal to Alex, but he is the CIA and they spy on everyone or is that NSA. Still the cleanup woman and the spy are attracted to one another, but first the gizmo she found during one of her jobs may be the key to explain the cop, the CIA, and the cleanup woman. NEVER HAPPENED is a fascinating espionage romance with the emphasis on the relationship between Austin and Alex. The fascination comes with Alex's business as she cleans up the messes that death leaves behind. The story line is an amusing suspense thriller that at times feels more like a middle age chick lit tale due to Alex's asides than a spy tale. Fans who appreciate a lighthearted romp will enjoy the escapades of the spy who came in from the cold seeking warmth from the cleanup woman.

Mood Swing
Jane Graves
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 0373881010, $5.50

The three women meet at an eight-week anger management seminar at Henderson Community College hosted by arrogant know it all psychologist Dr. Hugh Danforth. Emergency room nurse Susan Roth feels h pressure from her job that leaves her wound tight and ready to snap and from raising children following her divorce last year. Dennis who is proof alien abductions must be real insists they are dating just because she was too polite to say no to his joining her for lunch. He insures she loses her cool, which she does when she threatens to rip off his testicles. Brassy hairstylist Tonya Rutherford is outraged when she finds her spouse cheating on her. She literally gives him the big boot emphatically so the judge sent her to this eight week class. Classy former executive Assistant Monica Saltzman has used her looks and sexual favors to charm her boss. She becomes irate when he dumps her for a younger siren so she feels justified for putting a flowerpot through the windshield of his hummer while he was in the driver's seat. The trio becomes buddies as their antipathy towards their obnoxious instructor grows as he uses vernacular and a holier than thou attitude. That is until the ladies decide to test his cool under pressure. MOOD SWING is an intriguing somewhat superficial look at anger that does not go deep enough inside the heads of "Ms. Class", "Ms. Brass", and Ms. Nurse except to a degree through the challenges by their insufferable instructor. The trio bonds as each suffers from a raging incident that is not their norm, but soon believe pressure caused them to explode and are ready to do so to Dr. Pest. Fans who appreciate the need to get even will root for these three females.

Jennifer Greene
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 0373881002, $5.50

When Maude Rose dies, most of her Righteous neighbors assume she was an unrighteous sinner. However, lawyer Cal Asher informs two women she left a legacy in valuable jewelry to them. Neither understands why, but Maude Rose felt she owed three people for being kind to her; one was dead so her will was set to say thanks to Georgina Loretta "Poppy" Thompson and Bren Price for being nice to her when everyone else scorned her as a old drunk. Neither Poppy nor Bren know why them as Poppy is better with animals as friends than people, and Bren is the perfect Minster's wife helping people except her spouse Charles resents her kindness towards others even his flock at the Church of Peace. Though opposites in outlook, they soon become friends to one another and start using the jewels to help one another and others over the objections of family and friends who feel do-gooders are naive. The premise is simple: two nice caring individuals receive rewards from a lonely woman who they treated with respect and kindness. The inspirational story line focuses on how the beneficiaries use their windfall especially with pressure from those who "know" better like Charles. Readers will appreciate the strength that friendship gives both these women as they gain confidence to continue overtly what they believe is right in spite of the nay sayers.

The Setup
Marie Ferrarella
Harlequin Special Release
ISBN: 0373389396, $4.99

His wife died eight years ago leaving corporate lawyer Jefferson Lambert to raise his preadolescent daughter Emily by himself though her Uncle Blake helps. Now the Boston based attorney has rejected the notion of going to his alma mater Tulane University for the reunion. Emily wants him to go as he never has time for himself since he became mother and father to her. Emily and her uncle manage to persuade stubborn Jefferson to attend the gala. They even arranged for him to have a computer based blind date. However, upon meeting free spirited artist Sylvie Marchand, Jefferson feels his little teenage matchmaker blew his profile, but does not know why. However, as he begins to fall in love with Sylvie, someone steals two valuable paintings from the Marchand family gallery at the elegant Marchand Hotel so the lovebirds team up in search of the stolen goods. The second Hotel Marchand romance (see IN THE DARK by Judith Arnold) is a wonderful contemporary romance starring two nice people loaded down with personal baggage that make neither a candidate for a lasting relationship especially with the New Englander-Louisiana disconnection. The story line predominately focuses on the relationship between the opposites as both their families find this a suitable match, but the participants have doubts even after falling in love. The late mystery adds suspense and serves as a final catalyst to bring prim and proper Jefferson and bohemian Sylvie tether, but that seems unnecessary gimmicky to a fine romance.

The Boys Are Back in Town
Jane Graves, Dorien Kelly, and Tanya Michaels
ISBN: 0373837135, $5.99

"Falling for You" by Jane Graves. Stuntman Kirk McKenzie left Prescott, Texas fifteen years ago vowing to never return. Now he is back home wondering if he made a mistake when he decided not to give Amanda the diamond when they graduated high school as he had no future and she planned on being a doctor. Dr. Amanda Stevens plans to make sure the one who got away understands what love is all about with the second chance she has dreamed of since he left without a word. "Forward Pass" by Dorien Kelly. Prescott High School star quarterback Matt O'Connell freaked out when her friend Jamie Delisle made a sexual play, with condoms, for him. All these tears and he regrets how he behaved, but when she returns to town fifteen years later, he wants a second chance to use condoms with her, but does she want to kiss him back or revenge his rejection and subsequent stunt to her ailing dad's junkyard. "Ready and Willing" by Tanya Michaels. In Dallas Noah Tanner feels self pity as he is alone on Thanksgiving. He decides to visit the home of his late grandmother in Prescott to see what needs fixing. In Prescott, he meets Realtor Bree McCormick, who is a suspect in recent break and enter incidents due to her record, which leaves her with trust issues even as they fall in love. The three interrelated Prescott contemporary romances are fun well written tales with the first two being second chance at love dramas and the latter a delightful first time. Each novella contains likable characters who prove the cliche that home is where the heart is it.

Crystal Green
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373792654, $4.75

In San Francisco Tamara Clarkson is looking for a good time with a hunk, who will understand that she just wants a short fling not a lifetime of commitment as she fears deep relationships. At the Sister of the Booty, she finds an interesting display in which a glass boot contains the business cards of male rejects. She randomly selects a name, Kyle Sullivan, a carefree good time person who she arranges to meet on a blind date. However, on the night of the date irascible Kyle finds he has something else he would rather do than be a less than perfect fox so he stands up Tamara. Appalled by his insensitivity, his cousin Murphy shows up to take out Tamara. Though he tries to pretend to be carefree, his serious conscientious demeanor keeps breaking through; to her shock Tamara finds she is attracted to this dependable person. The Murphy-Tamara team is a wonderful match up as he takes life seriously while she is a carefree soul; at least that is what appears on the surface. As they begin seeing one another, both absorb some of the qualities of the other making them a more rounded person. Though the rationalization provided by Tamara as to why she avoids deep relationships seems hokey at least to this armchair psychologist, readers will enjoy Murphy's efforts to show her differently.

The Boys Are Back in Town
Jane Graves, Dorien Kelly, and Tanya Michaels
ISBN: 0373837135, $5.99

"Falling for You" by Jane Graves. Stuntman Kirk McKenzie left Prescott, Texas fifteen years ago vowing to never return. Now he is back home wondering if he made a mistake when he decided not to give Amanda the diamond when they graduated high school as he had no future and she planned on being a doctor. Dr. Amanda Stevens plans to make sure the one who got away understands what love is all about with the second chance she has dreamed of since he left without a word. "Forward Pass" by Dorien Kelly. Prescott High School star quarterback Matt O'Connell freaked out when the friend Jamie Delisle made a sexual play with condoms for him. All these tears and he regrets how he behaved, but when she returns to town fifteen years later, he wants a second chance to use condoms with her, but does she want to kiss him back or revenge his rejection and subsequent stunt to her ailing dad's junkyard. "Ready and Willing" by Tanya Michaels. Not available for review. The two Prescott second chance at love tales that this reviewer read are fun well written romances starring likable characters who prove you can go home if the heart is in it.

Blaze of Glory
Catherine Mann
ISBN: 0373771185, $5.99

Police profiler Lieutenant Dr. Grace Marie Lanier asks by name for Air Force Captain Bobby "Postal" Ruznick to help her on her current imperative assignment in spite of the two having a heated history together. However, though she knows how volatile he can be, the prim Grace feels he is the best and she needs the best on this quest to save her father in the Asiatic jungle surrounding the Cantou Nuclear retreat. Bobby feels the same way about Grace as she does about him. Though he has not forgotten how she dumped him nine months ago on a bus in Baghdad, he knows they are opposites who can set an inferno with their looks of desire, but cannot live together without also wanting to kill one another. Still he appreciates and admires her tucking away her ego and asking for him that shows she trusts him with her life and that of her father. The lead couple makes for a terrific romantic suspense that never slows down once Prim and Postal see one another for the time since Iraq though both deny it to themselves even as they salivate. The action-packed story line centers on the rescue mission as much as the witty verbal battles from the onset when Grace insists she accompany Bobby and his team while he demands she stay home safe. Fans will wonder if they survive the mission will they survive the rumble in the jungle intimacy.

Your Planet Or Mine?
Susan Grant
ISBN: 0373771061, $5.99

Mute nine year old Jana Jasper saved the life of a boy she called Peter (after Peter Pan). Afterward he grants her three wishes; the first being able to speak surprisingly occurs; the second kissing Peter also happens; the third is that one day he will marry her when they grow up. However, just after that Peter vanishes without a trace, she wonders if a lonely girl hallucinated up a friend as her sister, grandfather, and parents insist. Several years later she next sees her Peter in a grocery wearing odd grab that would be more suited for a romantic fantasy novel. This time Peter does not disappear. Instead he explains to great orator Senator Jana Jasper that he is Cavin Far Star from a planet far way. He has come to earth to warn the natives that his people are coming to invade with a powerful armada on the way. However, someone else from his planet has arrived with the mission to kill Cavin and any allies he has made especially the earthling he loves. YOUR PLANET OR MINE? Is a terrific romantic science fiction tale that is filled with action from the moment that Jana sees the odd boy in the tree outside her window and never slows down as they try to save the earth with a dose of self-deprecating humor. The literally star-crossed lovers are a likable pair that enable the audience to believe in Cavin's world and the magic so eloquently explain by grandpa in everyday life.

Diana Palmer
ISBN: 0373771215, $19.95

In Africa on a mission, CIA operative Colby Lane too drunk to establish needed precautions, barely makes it out alive, but loses an arm while escaping. His prosthesis arm is state of the art, but his covert days are over. Needing a new line of work, Colby accepts the position of Chief of Security at Houston branch of Ritter Oil, replacing his friend Phillip Hunter who plans to return to Arizona. Working on a special project at the Houston office is Colby's ex-wife Sarina Carrington, who normally works at the Tucson branch. They were married for one night of bliss, which resulted in a child Bernadette and years of scorn since he remarried soon after the annulment, but was divorced again. As their feelings reignite, drug lord Manuel Lopez plans to eliminate anyone interfering with his operation starting with Colby; if that means using his daughter Bernadette as an expendable pawn so bit. OUTSIDER is a delightful second chance at love romantic suspense thriller. The lead couple is an amiable pair that will leave the audience wondering why they were not already together though Diana Palmer provides a plausible rationale. Their daughter is an intelligent delightful child with a special extrasensory gift. The exhilarating story line never slows down once Colby and Sarina meet at Ritter Oil for the first in years and never slows down until the final confrontation with a villain who will kill anyone in his way without blinking.

Susan Mallery
ISBN: 0373771177, $6.99

Former marine Walker Buchanan pledged to deliver the letter for his brother in arms who died in combat. However, he knows little about the recipient other than her first name. He temporarily leases a place that introduces him to male-distrusting independent Elissa Towers and her precious five years old daughter Zoe. They meet when he changes Elissa's thread bare tire for her before buying her a new one. They are attracted from that first turn of the wheel nut, but neither welcomes the feeling. Elissa still classifies all men as clones of her ex and he wants no responsibility as he converts to being a civilian. Adding to their woes is that her daughter plays matchmaker while his grandmother is the child's matchbreaker trying to keep her grandson from this woman while demanding he join the family restaurant business. The second Buchanan tale (see DELICIOUS) will prove IRRESISTIBLE to readers as both the Buchanan and Tower broods seem interchangeable (don't tell either side that) as no one seems able to get on with anyone else except for the lead couple in between disagreements that is. The support cast is superb but the fine story line belongs to the marine and the mom who both claim "I'm not in love" and each tries to prove it while being pulled by their respective families in a myriad of directions that yanks the reader into a fun contemporary romance.

Cross My Heart
Carly Phillips
ISBN: 0373771266, $19.95

Her uncle took in teenage Lilly Dumont when her parents died and showered her with love until she refused to fund his hedonism. The wolf merged as he turned abusive and acrimonious before dumping her onto the foster care system as a delinquent. There she makes two close friends; Tyler Benson, and Daniel Hunter. They call themselves the Three Musketeers. When her uncle decided he needs her trust fund, he makes a bid to regain guardianship. Refusing to go back, the seventeen year old arranges for the other two musketeers to kill Lilly Dumont. Thus Lacey Kinkaid is "born" out of the death of Lilly. A decade later, Ty arrives to encourage Lacey, owner of Odd Jobs, to claim her inheritance so that her odious uncle does not get it and use it to marry a nice woman who has not seen the wolf. Ty loved Lilly as a teen and realizes he still does; Lilly loved Ty as a teen and realizes she still does. However, neither will make that critical first move though Ty would willingly give up his life let alone his heart to insure Lilly remains safe while she gains what she deserves. This is a strong second chance at love romance though some readers might say that the fledgling relationship between lead couple should not count. The story line is fast paced and a secondary romance augments the tale. Though uncle is so bad he is a caricature, CROSS MY HEART this is a well written fun tale starring two likable protagonists who never stopped loving one another.

Helen Kirkman
ISBN: 0373771193, $13.95

In 875 AD, the Viking invaders overwhelm East Anglia. The villagers turn to Princess Judith for their defense, but she knows she is not the right person as she lacks military strategy skills. She and her people need a hero to lead their side. She flees to the court of King Alfred seeking a champion. At the court she finds the perfect man, the courageous Einhard of Frisia, owner of a fleet, but more pirate than sea captain; she concludes she will need her intelligence to seduce the man into helping her people defend themselves. Judith obtains an opportunity when she saves Einhard from an assassin. He owes her, buts is on an undercover mission so assumes he will make remittance in the future. Instead the obstinate warrior woman demands full payment in kind now. As he wonders if his life and his mission are worth losing while leading serfs against the deadly Vikings, Einhard is stunned by his attraction to the Princess, which she reciprocates over the objection of her retinue. Dark Ages romance readers will appreciate this fine historical tale starring two intrepid warriors. Judith will do anything for her people's safety while Einhard wonders why he can't say no to her seduction. The exhilarating story line brings alive how deep the Vikings invasion went as no one is safe in East Anglia. Fans will enjoy Judith's antics as she offers all she has to bring home a hero for her people and a champion for her.

Her Secret Life
Gwynne Forster
ISBN: 1583147713, $5.99

In Manhattan, Jacqueline Parkton lives two lives. During the day, she is editor of an African American Woman magazine; at night she works as Jackie Parks at Allegory, Inc gentleman's club. She initially took the moonlighting job to help her father pay off her mom's enormous medical bills, but continues to work there to pay off her beloved dad's huge medical bills. The problem with her secret night life is club member Warren Holcomb. Jackie is attracted to him and he reciprocates. However, she avoids his advances fearing if he learns about her day job, he will expose her. As he continues to try to make them an entry, they fall in love, but she wonders if she should trust in such a volatile emotion. Once again, Gwynne Forster provides her readers with a delightful contemporary romance starring two likable protagonists who meet at the wrong place to foster a permanent relationship. The audience will admire Jacqueline-Jackie as she takes responsibility giving up much of what she wants out of life to pay exorbitant medical bills. Her efforts cleverly shine a light on the issue of medical costs owed by a hard working caring person (the type ignored during political debates over health care and bankruptcy even with a doctor running the senate). Warren is a nice person, but the audience will wonder whether he can see the full Ms. Parkton and not just the moonlighter he desires.

The Blonde Geisha
Jina Bacarr
ISBN: 0373605101, $13.95

In 1892 Kioto, Japan, a powerful enemy threatens the life of fifteen years old Kathlene Mallory's father, which in turn places her in peril. To keep her safe her dad yanks her out of her Tokio girls school run by missionaries and personally escorts her to live at the Tea House of the Look-Back Tree, a place where geishas are trained. Kathlene becomes a willing and able student as she learns the art of pleasuring men and receiving physical rewards in kind. Now she is at the final step in her years of training before she can receive her diploma as a full blooded geisha. Men want to join her in that last phase when she sells her virginity. Baron Tonga pays for the privilege, but that disappoints Kathlene, who has a secret desire for Reed Callen to buy her favor. Still she must do more than just please the influential Baron, who can destroy her and the Tea House of the Look-Back Tree if he is unsatisfied; she must take him to heights of heaven like has never tasted before. This is an insightful look at late nineteenth century Japan especially from the perspective of geishas. The erotic story line focuses on the life of a geisha especially a trainee learning to give pleasure. Though some western readers will be appalled at a teen being trained like young Kathlene is and the climax (pun intended) is too neatly wrapped up, Jina Bacarr provides a powerful historical tale that titillates, educates and stimulates the audience.

Dark Roots and Cowboy Boots
LuAnn McLane
ISBN: 0451218922, $6.99

In Hootertown, Kentucky, Jamie Lee owns Cut & Curl; her best friend Macy McCoy works there so when the place is empty they share their dreams. Both are stunned when Hollywood producer Parker Carrington arrives to check the town out as a potential locale for a horror film. Parker and Jamie enjoy lunch until Griff Sheldon arrives. He is angry to see Jamie with another man, but he treats her like his kid sister. Jamie has never forgotten how she threw herself at him when she was seventeen, but he rejected her. Later Jamie and Parker cruise around the town while enjoying each other's company. After a game of softball, Parker and Jamie arrive at her house and begin to make love, but she has no protection so they reluctantly stop. He leaves, but a drunken Griff arrives at Jamie's house. They start to make love until he falls asleep. She is irate that he reminded her how much she loves him, but he remains unattainable. After another hot and bothered incident Jamie vows that Griff's boots will be under her bed tonight. Griff offers to make love with her so she can get him out of her system. She tells him she loves him, but no more will she throw herself at him. The use of down home humor especially in potentially erotic situations adds fun to a fine regional romance starring an amiable lead couple and a strong support cast though Griff's behavior becomes boorish after a while. Readers who enjoy an amusing semi-erotic tale with plenty of slapstick in your pants humor will enjoy Jamie's plight. Hopefully LuAnn McLane will follow up with Macy's so far unrequited efforts to gain the love of Jamie's brother Luke.

Killer Insight
Victoria Laurie
ISBN: 0451219333, $6.99, 304 pp.

Abby Cooper is a private eye with an edge that others in her profession would like to have. She is a psychic who has five spirit guides that help her in her cases and at critical times her clairvoyance and precognition kick in. When she has a flaming row with FBI agent Dutch Rivers, she thinks they are over so when her friend Ellie calls her from Denver asking her to be a bridesmaid, she quickly and gladly accepts. When she arrives, she learns that the person who she is replacing stepped out of town without personally informing Ellie. When Abby looks at a picture of the absentee bridesmaid, she knows she is dead and with the help of her guides draws a picture where the body is. When the corpse is found, the wallet of Ellie's fiance Eddie is on her; adding to the stress Ellie is undergoing a second bridesmaid has gone missing and then a third. Ellie's sexy brother Sheriff Duffy uses Abby in his investigation because he cares about Ellie and doesn't want her to be the killer's next victim. Readers who like Charlaine Harris's newest private eye series will absolutely adore the latest "A Psychic Eye Mystery." The heroine is so in tune with her powers that she uses them as a tool in her job and personal life. People accept her because scientific evidence to the contrary, they believe in her. Victoria Laurie writes a dazzling amateur sleuth tale with a nice romantic sub-plot, giving KILLER INSIGHT cross-genre appeal.

Trouble In High Heels
Christina Dodd
ISBN: 0451219120, $7.99, 400 pp.

Lawyer Brandi Michaels moves all the way to Chicago to be with her fiancee, a doctor who meets all the requirements of her perfect mate. When he calls to tell her he's married to his girlfriend because he got her pregnant, Brandi is so furious she pawns her engagement ring and uses it to transform herself into a femme fatale. She plans to pick up a sexy man at her company's party and have her way with him for one night. When Count Roberto Bartolini walks in the room she knows she found her man and he definitely wants to spend the night with the sexy, beautiful, and bright Brandi. One night turns into a weekend and when she reports to work on Monday she is horrified to learn that he is a client of the firm and she is representing him for the theft of a jewel. Per the judge's order, Roberto is remanded into her custody and despite her better judgment and the belief that he is a jewel thief, Brandi falls in love with him not knowing that he plans to steal the Romanov Blaze and give it to his family's enemy in exchange for what he really wants. Christina Dodd, known for her well written and creative historical novel, has written her first romantic suspense and readers well realize that she is the latest star in the sub-genre which includes such greats like Iris Johansen, Kay Harper, and Linda Howard. Brandi proves that beauty and brains can co-exist in a person and she never loses her delightful sense of humor as she bounces from one dangerous situation to the next. Roberto is a sexy brilliant entrepreneur on his own quest who finds the woman of his dreams in the middle of a dangerous operation but refuses to let her leave him for fear he will lose her forever when she learns the truth about his criminal activities.

Home by Starlight
Jerri Corgiat
ISBN: 0451218981, $6.99

In Cordelia, Missouri when widow Patsy Lee O'Malley breaks her ankle, her family and friends offers tons of help especially with her four children, make that three in the nest as one is off to college. However, family friend bass guitarist Zeke Townley just returned to the town last night and already moved in with Patsy Lee and the kids as he needs a place to stay. With three human and a myriad of animal chaperones and her in need of assistance everyone agrees this is an ideal arrangement; everyone that is except Patsy Lee who does not want this unwanted guest in her dilapidated farmhouse. The problem for Zeke and Patsy Lee is their attraction to one another. The widow does not want to feel like that as she still mourns the loss of her spouse and the former country musician needs time to acclimate to his new lifestyle as a civilian with no glitter or roadshows. Everyone else including her four kids knows these two are perfect for one another as their love is so obvious except to the targeted pair. Readers will enjoy this fun small-town contemporary romance starring two likable protagonists in denial. The irony is that the audience and the townsfolk all know otherwise. With a solid matchmaking support cast, fans will enjoy Jerri Corgiat's fine tale of love overcoming secrets that led to heartbreak.

So This Is Love
Gilbert Reid
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312349858, $23.95

This nine story collection provides a wide look at love, but not from a romance novel's perspective. Each tale is interesting, but the best are those involving love that comes out of the ashes of hatred and misery like the haunting first story "Pavilion 24", which the audience will read twice and stop for the night because it is haunting. War plays a matchmaking role in several of the contributions as Gilbert Reid makes the case that out of the seeds of dissension and strife love can still blossom (think Romeo and Juliet), but loss can also follow. A couple of the tales turn too literary for this compilation; this makes them seem like they do not belong as the sense of a wretched place is lacking though ironically they are well written. However, for the most part readers will peruse several times these fascinating tales of love out of the ruins of hate and despair even when there is no happily ever after.

A Good Day to Die
Simon Kernick
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312349955, $24.95

In London Detective Sergeant Dennis Milne was known to straddle the legal line when it comes to the sleaze of the city. However, he crosses totally over when he kills a thug; however, besides taking justice in his own hands, the victim turns out to not have been involved with the crime that led Dennis to him. In other words he used excessive force to kill an innocent person. Knowing he would be convicted of the murder, Dennis flees his home country for Asia finally taking residence in the Philippines. Three years later, Dennis Milne no longer exists; instead Mick Kane earns a living as a vigilante bounty hunter for hire in Sabang Bay. His targets are nasty killers who beat the system. His current assignment is personal as he seeks revenge by killing a Londoner whose actions back home led to the homicide of a friend from his copper days, Detective Asif Malik. To complete his mission means sneaking back into London and hunting down the others. Milne is a fascinating anti-hero whose ethics propels him to risk his freedom and perhaps his life to avenge his friend while readers will wonder whether he is a champion or a brute. The story line is so action-packed, fans will read it in one sitting, but the adversaries remain somewhat caricatures. Still readers will devour Simon Kendrick's fine thriller in one good reading day.

The Shadow Catchers
Thomas Lakeman
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312347995, $23.95

His last case involved a kidnapped child that turned out so catastrophic that FBI Special Agent Mike Yeager is on administrative leave and self imposed exile in nowhere, Nevada, a long way from his Philadelphia base and three hours outside of Vegas where he "profiles for food". Mike disagrees with his superiors who were going to exonerate him over the Tonio Madrigal tragedy but he caused the debacle back east so he left town before they could. In San Cristobal, he intervenes in an incident with an ex-marine Dale, the man's nephew and the sheriff; only to have his car impounded for the weekend. That night, Dale Dupree calls Mike hysterically claiming his beloved daughter Cassie is missing; he fears for her and asks Mike that if he (Dale) goes away, will Mike find and protect her. The next morning Detective Tippet and deputy Sheriff Clyde take Mike in on the suspicion of murdering Dale, but cannot hold him as they lack evidence. He feels he owes Dale for not taking the man's night call seriously so Mike begins investigating worried about Cassie especially with her dad killed by someone who knew him and another child recently buried perhaps also murdered. Mike turns this exciting police procedural into a great read that grips the audience from the start and never lets them go until the final confrontation. The story line is fast-paced and the support cast top rate. However, this is Mike's mystery from the moment he pulls profiling sleight of the hand tricks in the diner until his last ditch effort to save Cassie's life. Thomas Lakeman provides a terrific thriller.

Still as Death
Sarah Stewart Taylor
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312337426, $24.95

Professor Sweeney St. George is putting together an exhibit at the university's Hapner Museum of Art, "Still as Death: The Art of the End of Life". However, the Harvard University art history professor realizes as she catalogues the display that a priceless Egyptian funerary jewelry collar is missing. Making inquiries she learns that the last person known to have had the artifact was back in 1979, student intern Karen Philips who apparently committed suicide soon afterward. Sweeney continues preparation for the show, but also digs deeper into the Philips affair. She finds out that Karen was working at the Hapner the night it was robbed in 1979 and other tidbits that fail to add up. However, her fascination with a mystery over twenty-five years old changes to a modern murder mystery when someone kills Olga, working on the exhibit. Cambridge Police Department Detective Tim Quinn looks at the Art Department for a suspect while Sweeney begins to tie the current homicide back to the 1979 tragedy. STILL AS DEATH is an enjoyable entry to a fine series in which the heroine in between getting the exhibit ready investigates the 1979 events for about half the story line before the plot takes a left turn into a modern day murder in which Tim joins Sweeney on center stage. Sweeny is as always irreverent when it comes to death while her colleagues are a bit more stunned especially when Tim looks at them for the culprit. Fans of the series and newcomers (see JUDGMENT OF THE GRAVE, MANSIONS OF THE DEAD and O'ARTFUL DEATH) will enjoy everyone's favorite gravestone expert as she adapts to solving a modern day art of death homicide.

Stone Butterfly
James D. Doss
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312340540, $24.95

On the Southern Ute Reservation in Colorado, tribal Ute shaman Daisy Perika is concerned with what this nightmare has shown her as she feels she has seen a vision of the future, but cannot tie her dream to a date and time and the place is vague. Still she is worried about the young female waif whose hands are dripping blood while a man lies dying nearby. She informs her nephew, tribal investigator and rancher Charlie Moon, on his weekly visit what she envisioned. Charlie knows how accurate his beloved Aunt Daisy is, but does not have enough information to do anything. Raymond Oates introduces himself to Sarah Frank as a half brother of a friend before giving her a book as a present. Not long afterward Sheriff Popper sees Sarah holding a Louisville Slugger with blood on her hands as psychic Ben Silver lies nearby dying. Before Popper can act, someone else hits him with a bat. Charlie and FBI Special Agent Lila Mae McTeague investigate, but Sarah has vanished with someone else besides the cops trying to find her for the book she carries is a valuable heirloom. The intriguing investigation in the latest Charlie Moon mystery starts a bit later than usual as James D. Doss sets in motion the key players and the significant (to this tale) Ute mysticism before Ben is killed. At that venture, the story line switches into more of a rescue Sarah saga than a murder investigation though the two scenarios are linked and converge in a delightful climax. Though lacking the humor of SHADOW MAN, fans of the series will enjoy Charlie's' current caper as Aunt Daisy avoids I told you so, but makes it clear he is to rescue Sarah or face her wrath.

Out Cold
William G. Tapply
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312337469, $24.95

On a freezing morning in Boston's Back Bay, attorney Brady Coyne wakes up thinking about how he misses his "virtual spouse" Evie as he lets Henry their Brittany spaniel companion out the back door into four inches of snow. However, instead of taking care of business and getting back inside to warmth and breakfast, Henry growls and paws at the snow. Frustrated because Henry ignores his commands, Brady goes out side in the cold to retrieve his canine only to learn why the dog refused to come home. A teenage girl lies probably dead as EMT arrives to try to and save her. His secretary tells him the girl was rushed to Suffolk County Medical Center, but learns what really happened to her when Boston homicide cop Saundra Mendoza visits to question him. She tells him the girl was most likely dead before he found her from hypothermia and a loss of blood from a miscarriage, which Brady thinks means in this case amateur abortion. Brady needs to know who teenage Jane Doe was and why she crawled into his backyard to die. As he digs someone watches him just in case. Brady Coyne's latest investigation is a terrific cautionary story that is at its best when the lawyer is obsessed to learn the truth about the girl who died in his backyard because he feels some guilt though he logically knows he did everything he could for her. The story line loses some of its deepest meaning though retains the exhilaration when it veers into the culprit trying to insure he never learns the truth. OUT COLD is a fabulous mystery in which William G. Tapply warns that abolishing legal abortion will drive it into the back allies for the poor (and overseas for the middle and upper classes).

Love, Lies and Liquor
M.C. Beaton
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312349106, $24.95

In Carsely, James Lacey invites his former spouse Agatha Raisin to attend a barbecue hosted by his friends, David and Jill Hewitt in nearby Ancombe. Agatha, hoping to reconcile with James, readily agrees so she drives them to their nearby destination. The barbeque is a disaster so Agatha leaves without a word, vowing never again to get involved with James. Agatha completely cuts James off who becomes concerned when she fails to come around as she always does and his rival Charles Fraith arrives at her cottage. To make up for the dreadful barbecue James invites Agatha on a seaside vacation, which she accepts dreaming of the Riviera or Mediterranean, etc. He drives them to Smoth-on-Sea in Sussex where they stop at the dilapidated Palace Hotel, which he fondly remembers as luxurious. However, a mix-up occurs in booking which leads them to drive towards Dover until Smoth-on-Sea CID DI Barret pulls them over to bring Agatha in for questioning as the prime suspect in the murder of Geraldine Jankers, a woman she got into a public argument with in the hotel's restaurant and threatened to kill. Agatha knows she better meddle in this investigation because the police are looking only in one direction, hers. As impossible as this might seem, Agatha Raisin seems crustier, more bristly, and much more aggressively impatient with others than ever before starting with the barbeque where she smokes a cigarette even after her host asked her not to in "a smoked-free zone" and continues during Barret's interrogation and her investigation. The story line is obviously vintage Agatha though this time her meddling is personal as she assumes the locals will gladly throw away the key once they incarcerate her. The whodunit is fun to follow and the epilogue leaves the audience like an addict wanting more.

Midnight Moon
Lori Handeland
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312938497, $6.99

Cassandra lived in Southern California happily married to her soulmate and raising their five year old daughter Sarah who loved ballet. That was then and this is now as she has become Priestess Cassandra, a voodoo practitioner in the French Quarter of New Orleans though she has not reconciled the religion's theory that all deaths have a purpose with her daughter's murder. She blames her drug dealing ex-spouse for that and testified against him before vanishing into the Witness Protection Program. However, her objective for turning to Voodoo may be at hand as she is in Haiti hoping to find Master Jacques Mezareau, who it is rumored, resurrects the dead. Cassandra will pay him any price if he can resurrects her daughter unaware that he is an outlawed Egbo, a punisher and controller of slaves. She hires Devon Murphy to guide her to Mezareau's remote village. However, , Cassandra soon learns first hand how and why Mezareau raises the dead, but is unable to control this new power she has obtained, which if unchecked will destroy her loved ones, Devon and Sarah, once the MIDNIGHT MOON reaches its acme. The latest Lori Handeland's lunar romantic fantasy (see CRESCENT MOON, DARK MOON, HUNTER'S MOON, and BLUE MOON) is a terrific entry in a strong series. The story line is action-packed but it is the fixated Cassandra, who needs to bring back her beloved Sarah just to begin living again, who makes the thriller work. Readers will feel her loss that's he still grieves and her quest that has taken her to the realm of voodoo in New Orleans and Haiti. With fabulous twists that impact the mental balance of the heroine, Ms. Handeland provides another enchanting novel that will send her elated readers howling at the MIDNIGHT MOON.

Hide-and-Seek with Angels: A Life of J. M. Barrie
Lisa Chaney
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312357796, $27.95

By providing a deep look at J. M. Barrie, Lisa Chaney also presents a keen glimpse into the creating of Peter Pan in this fine insightful biography. Ms. Chaney provides the childhood background of the renowned author who was the ninth child of Scottish parents during the industrial revolution. He left for London to become a journalist and soon became friends with writers George Meredith and Thomas Hardy even as he began his career (yes he wrote other works besides Pan). In his late thirties Barrie befriends Arthur and Sylvia Davies; he especially enjoyed the times with their offspring as his only marriage ended in divorce and no children. That time spent with the Davies family led to his play Peter Pan in 1904 as he saw his friends as the loving Darlings. When they died he felt alone though his play made him rich and famous yet perhaps as Peter Barrie he never wanted to grow up. Well written and entreating this is a solid bio but feels lacking as a historiographic perspective of critics analyzing the author and his works hinted at with references would have rounded out the insight. Still this is a fascinating look at one of the leaders of the golden age of English writers of children tales; in this case a man who seemingly preferred fantasy so as to never grow up.

White Sister
Stephen J. Cannell
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312347316, $24.95

LAPD detective Shane Scully and his wife Alexa plan to meet in one hour. However, while he arrives at their rendezvous spot, she never makes it. Concerned as she would have told him if something came up, Shane is called to the crime scene of an executed African-American gangbanger found dead in Alexa's car with her gun nearby. Alexa is soon also found shot in the head, barely alive. Regardless of law and police procedures including vested interest, Scully needs action while he prays for his beloved spouse. He investigates the homicide and her shooting, which leads to rap music. He quickly realizes that gangsta rap is fairy tales for children compared to the executive wars especially Lou and Stacy Maluga. She, known as "the white sister", can destroy a person legally through the law and media or illegally through a hit. If Scully gets to close she will use all her lethal weapons as blood on her hands make her even more ambitiously and deadly; Shane needs to bring her down using her methods, at least the illegal ones. Scully is not just over the top in this exciting crime thriller, he is over Mount Everest as he is a bit (make that humongous) unhinged by what happened to Alexa. The story line is speed of light action that never decelerates until the final climax. Fans will put on their seat belts and crash helmets as they ride alongside an avenging Scully, who adds humor when he turns occasionally sensitive and mellow. Stephen J. Cannell writes a fun out of control High Noon tale.

One Man and His Bomb
H.R.F Keating
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312349882, $24.95, 256 pp.

At home while talking to her husband, Detective Superintendent Harriet Martens feels a tinge of foreboding when thunder sounds unexpectedly. The phone rings a moment later and Superintendent Charles Robertson tells her that a bomb exploded killing her son, Police Constable Graham Piddock and seriously injuring his twin brother Police Constable Malcolm. Indian terrorists claim responsibility, saying they are at war with western imperialism. Harriet's superior knows she needs something to concentrate on other than her grief and puts her on a case where another form of terrorism is involved. The Heronsgate, a government agricultural lab was ordered to destroy CA 534, but the director held on to a sample that could be used to destroy crops. Harriet interviews a variety of people from a retired German professor on the National Watch List, to the assistant the director fired to the WAGI (Women against Interference) but finds no one who stands out of the crowd as the thief. H.R.F Keating shows how the British police cope with the war on terror and how the protagonist copes with her grief that a terrorist bomb killed one son and maimed another. Readers see much more of the heroine's personal life and her interactions with her husband and surviving offspring. Those reflections soften her image and make her seem more like a real person instead of a stereotypical police officer who is hard on crime. The who-done-it is cleverly crafted and complex, leaving the reader clueless about the identity of the thief.

Knights of the Cross
Tom Harper
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312338708, $24.95

In 1098, former warring enemies have become allies in an attempt to win back the Holy Land from the Turks. The combined might of armies from the Byzantium Empire and western kingdoms seem invincible as victories pile up while crossing Asia Minor until Antioch, Syria. There the first major resistance occurs, leaving the allies at each other's throats as their recent hostilities remain fresh in everyone's mind. Greek scribe to General Takitos, Demetrios Askiates and his friend Sigurd the Varangla of England are walking back from a skirmish when they come across a lad Simon acting hysterical as he shouts his master is dead. Demetrios looks at the corpse of the Norman Drogo, whose throat was sliced. Not long afterward, Norman leader Lord Bohemond asks Demetrios to investigate the murder fearing his men will retaliate against the Byzantine allies, leading to disaster. As he makes inquires while the Normans sneer, Demetrios learns that Drogo was seeing a camp follower Sarah while his tent mate threatens to kill the Greek sleuth. KNIGHTS OF THE CROSS is a terrific Crusader Era whodunit starring a likable protagonist and his irascible but loyal friend. The story line in some ways is more historical than mystery though the sleuthing is top rate and fun to follow while it also enhances the deep look at the First Crusade. Fans of historical mysteries will want to read this strong thriller and Demetrios' previous starring in THE MOSAIC OF SHADOWS.

Dirty Little Secrets
Joy King
St. Martin's
ISBN: 031235407X, $14.95

Their mother took her two daughters Ella and Tyler with her when she dumped her spouse to move in with a more affluent man in Atlanta. When Tyler was six her teenage stepbrother assaulted her while the new man in the house constantly abused her mother in front of the girls. Over the next decade the three Blake women are victims of the two men in their lives. Things do not change for Tyler in high school when her first boyfriend rapes her and her second commits suicide. After strike three to include an abortion, Tyler vows no more relationships except when she is able to use men and to start over New York City where she attends college and becomes an actress. She lives up to her motto to use and discard men until she meets Detroit Piston superstar Ian and music producer T-Roc at the same time; that ends violently. Next she meets music producer: Brian, who she thinks she loves, but ends badly after she gives birth to his child. Now twenty-six, Tyler pledges no men at all as she is unable to relate with anyone decent, a lesson learned from childhood. This inspirational tale focuses on the long term impact of childhood abuse on the person even as an adult. While Tyler seeks love, she believes only by being a victim can she receive it. Joy King's deep interwoven message is simple: respect yourself. DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS is a strong character study that focuses on the baggage we bring from childhood into adulthood as the adult remains that child.

No Nest for the Wicket
Donna Andrews
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312329407, $23.95, 288 pp.

During one particular weekend in Caerphilly blacksmith Meg Langslow and her fiance Marley college drama professor Michael share a weekend that would drive a saint to sin. In addition to living in a stall while their house is undergoing major renovations, her land is being used as the playing field for eXtreme croquet. Meg is participating in the tournament where the field contains difficult obstacles including bogs, quicksand, briar patches, and poison ivy to name a few. When she falls down the gully while looking for a ball, Meg finds the body of a woman. After the police circulate a picture of the deceased, no one comes forth admitting they knew her. That is until Michael identifies the victim as Lindsay Tyler, a teacher at the nearby college. A host of suspects surface amongst the historical society, the college faculty, and even college students from out of town. Meg makes her inquiries as she now realizes the murdered woman misrepresented herself to gain access to historical documents. There are no words to adequately describe how amusing this novel is. Meg's interactions with people including her quirky relatives and the situations she ends up in will leave the audience laughing in delight. Her ability to juggle several crises while sleuthing will have readers admire her spirit and determination. Donna Andrews is one of the best authors at providing a humorous whodunit.

Bless Your Heart, Tramp: And Other Southern Endearments
Celia Rivenbark
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312343426, $16.95

This amusing essay collection focuses on the southern perspective and home life. The book is broken into three categories: "At Home", "The South", "And Everywhere Else". The contributions are lighthearted amusing and fun to read as a variety of subjects from mama tips to spiked NASA Tang to Wrestlemania are shredded and diced like slaw at a fad diet explosion. Nothing is sacred though nothing is totally gored not even Al. From family recipes to the Rock and his wife Dr. Ms. Rock on to Adam West, Celia Rivenbark provides the below the Mason-Dixon demarcation line but above the Mickey Mouse border look at life. If you have to ask who Adam West is, you're probably too young for this sassy slice of Southern sympathy served with ice tea but no grits.

The Prudence of Flesh
Ralph McInerny
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312351445, $24.95

NPR host of End Notes Gregory Barrett visits his former seminary classmate Father Dowling for the first time in years seeking his help. Apparently, a woman he swears he never met Madeline Murphy has just been led to remember that he sexually abused her when he still was a priest and claims he is the father of her child. Dowling thinks that is quite a memory gap as Gregory left the priesthood twenty-five years ago. Madeline is suing Gregory and the archdiocese. Dowling has doubts that Barrett sired Murphy's child, but agrees to look into the matter as he knows that most people today prefer to believe the priest is guilty of being a sexual predator. Also looking into the accusations is wannabe author Ned Bunting, who is working on a tell-all exposure book about the church sexual scandals. Not long after meeting with Barrett, Father Dowling learns that Bunting was murdered and fears his friend might be the culprit; but if not Barrett, most likely another priest fearing exposure. Although the topic is interesting and clearly current, twisting the story line from the relevancy to a murder mystery adds suspense but leaves the key players (besides Dowling), Barrett, Murphy, and Bunting, underdeveloped. Thus Father Dowling works his magic, but concentrates more so on the homicide than on whether a priest acted as a sexual predator. Well written as always, THE PRUDENCE OF FLESH is one of those could have been great, but instead is a fine whodunit for series fans only.

Evanly Bodies
Rhys Bowen
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312349424, $23.95

In Llanfair, Wales Detective Constable Evan Evans heads home at night when he sees the light in a corner store. He investigates and meets the new owner of a grocery store, Pakistani Azeem Khan and his hostile son Rashid, a college student. As he greets them, Evan notices that the younger one's accent is more Yorkshire than Asian. Not everyone welcomes the "heathens"; Rashid assumes because they are Muslins, but Evan knows that any stranger would be glared at including the English. Not long afterward, Evan learns that Azeem has arranged a marriage for his sixteen year old daughter Jamilla. Detective Inspector Bragg leads an investigation into the shooting death of History professor Martin Rogers while he ate breakfast. Bragg informs Major Incident Team member Evans that he is to be a junior officer on the case and no more. Meanwhile Bragg believes that the wife Madeleine known as "Missy" killed her husband, but Evans doubts that the egg shell of this case has been broken yet. He is proven right when two more homicides occur while Missy resides in jail on a murder charge at the same time that Jamilla has run away from home. In his seventh police procedural Evan is at his best as he works for the aptly named Bragg who wants all the glory so knowing the constable's reputation for success tries to limit his role to that of a gopher. The whodunit is cleverly devised and filled with twists as the locals suspect the foreign newcomers while Bragg somewhat agrees though he still thinks Missy killed her husband; only Evan and his wife Bronwyn feel the serial killer is someone else. Fans will appreciate the final stunning heart-wrenching spin in what may be the preeminent novel in one of the sub-genre's consistently best series.

Ken Bruen
St. Martin's
ISBN: 031234144X, $12.95

Londoners are frightened by the serial killing "Manners Killer" who provides reinforced negative lessons in proper public behavior by murdering those individuals who displayed rude conduct. He has murdered a store clerk, a parking lot attendant and even a parent. The common threat is vulgar public behavior. Southeast London Police Squad Inspector Brant leads the investigation though he agrees with the culprit that boorish manners deserve harsh retaliation. Still it is his job to stop the killer, but unlike his peers, Brant does not allow morality or official procedure to interfere with the investigation. As sociopathic as his prey, Brant is coming to teach the Manners Killer that killing is antisocial behavior; that is when he is not preoccupied writing (make that lifting from peer Porter Nash) a novel he calls CALIBRE. Shamus Award winner Ken Bruen is at the top of his game with this superb police procedural serial killer that pays pulp homage to Jim "The Killer Inside Me" Thompson and satirical reverence to cops turned author like Joseph Wambaugh. The charm of the tale lies with the way the readers can compare the thought processes of the killer and the inspector with the latter seeming more unhinged than the murderer. Noir readers will appreciate this wild cop and killer thriller while showing deference to Mr. Bruen by seeking Brant's backlist (see VIXEN).

Killer Deal
Sheryl J. Anderson
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312350058, $23.95

In New York, Zeitgeist magazine advice columnist Molly Forrester yearns to become an investigative crime reporter, but has had little opportunity to show her worthiness though she has solved two homicides recently (see KILLER COCKTAIL and KILLER HEELS). However, she has a slight opening when editor Eileen Fitzsimmons assigns Molly to interview Gwen Lincoln the ex-wife of the recently murdered "advertising rock star" Garth Henderson; she is the prime suspect. Encouraged by her two best friends, attorney Cassady Lynch and events planner Tricia Vincent, who want to see their "sister" writing for the New York Times, Molly investigates the case. Discouraged by her current boyfriend NYPD homicide detective Kyle Edwards, who fears for her safety, Molly still investigates the case. However, as Molly finds several suspects with motives involving a merger of Henderson's firm with another, a killer is willing to murder again with the reporter and her two pals at the top of the list. KILLER DEAL is a fun lighthearted Manhattan romp that has the readers running along side the heroine who sets a fast-pace as she makes inquiries that lead to endangering her and her friends. Molly once again competes with her unethical ex-boyfriend NYT crime beat writer Peter Mulcahey and her current squeeze Kyle in trying to solve the Henderson murder. Fans of this killer of a series will root for the unsinkable Molly Forrester.

Sailing to Capri
Elizabeth Adler
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312339658, $24.95

In Lower Sneadley, England, thirty-nine years old American expatriate Daisy Keene attends the funeral of her employer of the last five years, Sir Robert Waldo Hardwick. However, though she and Sir Robert became friends his former personal assistant is a bit surprised to learn that before he died he hired his friend American private investigator Harry Montana to investigate his homicide. Sir Robert named six likely suspects and prepared a Mediterranean cruise on board the Blue Boat for them, Harry, and Daisy. The invitees are ex-wife Lady Diane Hardwick, ex- mistress Filomena Algardi, ex-friend Charles Clement, ex-business partner Davis Farrell, ex-business friend Marius Dopplemann, and first true love Rosalia Alonzo Ybarra. Let the fun begin as each expects to inherit a fortune once the sea trip ends. Kind of like a cross between Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians and Murder on the Orient Express, SAILING TO CAPRI is a terrific investigative romantic suspense. The story line paints a powerful portrait of Sir Robert through the eyes of the eight non crew members on board his vessel. Readers also obtain the motives that made everyone of the six suspects an ex with a reason to want Sir Robert dead. The romance between the two Americans is welcome but also unnecessary as they and the audience try to solve who killed Sir Robert Waldo Hardwick as the last twist provides a delightful climax to an intelligent mystery.

Nerds Like It Hot
Vicki Lewis Thompson
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312939086, $6.99

Hollywood makeup artist Gillian McCormick is working on preparing actor Theo Patterson for his role as musician Joe/Josephine, the Tony Curtis role in a remake of Some Like It Hot. She detests the abusive Theo who is nasty to everyone. He treats people as if they belong in the ooze below the food chain. So she is not shocked to hear shouting as she approaches his room between the obnoxious actor and Neil Rucker, stepson of shadowy Phil Adamo. Neil leaves with a huff; Gillian enters only to see the star dead killed by the medal heel of a Jimmy Choo shoe and that Neil, allegedly in the Barbados murdered him. Gillian turns to her best friend Cora, who previously suggested going on a Geek cruise. Cora remakes Gillian into the Marilyn Monroe Sugar Kane Kowalczyk look and persuades another friend private investigator Lex Manchester to keep her safe on the cruise from the mob. However, no one informed Lex how to keep Gillian safe from the man who guards and wants her while willing to die to protect his beloved from a gangster on the cruise seeking to eliminate the witness. The fifth "Nerd" romance is a wonderful suspense thriller staring two individuals who find their normal existence blown away by the scenario. Gillian has turned from working class stiff into a bombshell and the once sophisticated Lex has become a classic drooling nerd whenever he sees her. Though readers will wonder why not the police, fans of the series and the classic movie that this novel pays loving homage to will appreciate this fine Nerdy entry cactus and all.

The Kept Woman
Susan Donovan
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312939507, $6.99

Three years ago Mitchell abandoned his wife and three children leaving Samantha Monroe to raise their kids by herself on her hair styling salary. The latest torment comes from the Wee Ones Academy that threatens to expel her son from the school because he has some toilet issues. Thus at the monthly Drinks and Depression Nights with her friends, two margaritas and a zillion frustrations lead to Sam saying she is ready to become a kept woman if that will help her kids. Sam's rant gives political handler and D&D card carrier Kara DeMarinis an out of the universe idea to help her playboy client Jack Tolliver overcome his hedonistic image while running for Senator from the red state Indiana. Jack will become engaged to Sam, who surprises everyone including herself by agreeing to perform as she obtains security for her kids. As Sam and Jack pretend to be in love, they fall in love while offensive TV reporter Christy Schoen seeks to expose their relationship as a ruse. THE KEPT WOMAN is a lighthearted contemporary romantic romp that pokes fun at the marriage of convenience theme and even deeper jabs at the serious sound bites and crisis image management spins that are the cornerstones of the American political system. Combining the two, fans obtain a facetious glimpse at how far image making has gone (sort of a romantic version of Eric Dezenhall's JACKIE DISASTER).

Dangerous Tides
Christine Feehan
ISBN: 0515141542, $7.99

Dr. Libby Drake uses her healing gift to restore to health injured biochemist Ty Derrick, suffering from a head trauma, but for the first time a reaction occurs and she almost dies. When Ty recovers he rejects outright that Libby and her sisters can perform magic. Both are attracted to one another in spite of his scorning her skill and though he is short and abrasive towards everyone including her, she senses a caring heart. When an unknown assailant tries to kill the couple, they wonder who the intended victim is, she or him. The Drake siblings feel strongly that something evil is coming their way so conclude that they, including Libby, are the target, but she wonders if Ty due to his work might be the real object of a malevolent killer growing stronger. DANGEROUS TIDES is an excellent Drake sisters' tale due to the fascinating relationship between the witch and the scientist; however, interestingly the passion between them at times places the action on the back burner. Still Christine Feehan provides a strong story line that moves rather quickly forward as the lead couple "battle" one another before the real battle begins. Newcomers will want to read the previous Drake thrillers (see OCEANS OF FIRE and MAGIC IN THE WIND).

Second Genesis
Jeffrey Anderson, MD
ISBN: 0515141984, $7.99

Field biologist Jamie Kendrick is in Amazonia, Brazil in the middle of the rain forest conducting research when one of her colleagues informs her that a fenced compound is nearby. Curious, she visits the site and manages to get inside where she sees a chimp wearing a collar staring back until he writes on the ground "Who am I"? Excited and startled, she guesses that Lula DaSilva Wildlife Preservation and Brainstem Therapeutic Research Lab has done some stem cell engineering using human DNA in chimps. The project director Dr. Nakamura hires Jamie. She conducts tests that reveal the chimp's brain resembles that of a human; though it cannot speak it can communicate and proves it is at least as smart as a human is. The chimp understands what anesthesia and a biopsy are after overhearing the scientists discuss it about him. The chimp goes bananas killing three of its creators and fleeing into the jungle. Jamie and a few others try to track down the runaway using radio identification technology, but remain ignorant to the true threat of the brilliant beast. Dr. Jeffrey Anderson digs into the ethical "Dr. Frankenstein" question of how far scientists should go in this case with stem cell research before they cross the line. There is plenty of action in this exciting yet chilling thriller especially the incredible vivid chase scenes in the jungle. Whereas Dr. Anderson raises the morality spectrum, he cleverly leaves it to the audience to decide right from wrong in a strong science fiction tale that sounds more like tomorrow's science.

Freedom's Sisters
Naomi Kritzer
ISBN: 0553586750, $6.99, 416 pp.

Wanting to please her father Kyros, a very highly placed power in the Penelopeia Empire, Lauria catches runaway slaves. She was sent to spy on the Alashi on the steppes outside the empire because they took in runaway slaves. They also have a surplus of karentitee which the rulers of the empire, the Sisterhood of Weavers, use to bind jinn, and that stock is desperately needed because Penelopeia is running out. When Lauria tries to free the last slave she helped capture, the slave turns her in and her father takes her to Penelopeia to be judged because she also committed the crime of freeing a bound jinn; the only known person who can do so because she has a special gate in her heart which lets her return them to their home. Her blood-sister Tamar and two others are sent out to sow discord between the Sisterhood of the Weavers, the Young sisters and a rouge element of the army to divert attention from the Alashai who the empire wants to conquer in order to take possession of karentite. When Lauria gains her freedom through her series of adventures by hersef, with Tamar and her other allies, she believes she has a way of saving the empire. What began in FREEDOM'S GAME and continues in FREEDOM'S APPRENTICE comes to a glorious conclusion in FREEDOM'S SISTERS. In a world where women hold the power Lauria and Tamar stand out as the brave people who try to overthrow their conditioning and fight the empire on their terms. Readers will be enthralled by the adventures Tamer and Lauria undergo, separately and together as they struggle to accomplish their goal. Naomi Kritzer is a master storyteller who creates characters the audience comes to love.

The Privilege of the Sword
Ellen Kushner
ISBN: 0553382683, $14.00

Mad Duke of Tremontaine, David Alexander "Alec" Tielman Campion still hosts wild orgies in his two prime residences, Tremontaine House and his Riverside house. That is when the duke of debauchery is not stirring up trouble for his family, neighbors, and rivals as someone has to fund his hedonism. In other words nothing has changed in the past two decades in terms of this depraved soul. His latest ploy is to make his enemy widower Lord Ferris bow to him. Alec blackmails his sister into handing over her daughter. Alec has plans for his niece Katherine who looks forward to a season of galas in beautiful gowns only to learn she will dress like a male and learn to fence as she will become his bodyguard. Though she detests most of what her hideous uncle does to her, Katherine enjoys dueling and become quiet proficient with swords, and makes friends with Lady Artemisia Fitz-Levi, engaged to Lord Ferris. The Duke takes Katherine to the infamous Rogues' Ball where Artemisia pleads with Katherine to help her escape her engagement at the same time that her uncle enacts his scheme to destroy Ferris. THE PRIVILEGE OF THE SWORD is a fantastic sword and society thriller that uses no magic to portray a medieval like realm in which SWORDSPOINT wielders become critical defenders of relationships teaching "manners" to their foes. The plot is character driven to a degree by the rivalry between the Mad Duke Lord Ferris, but belongs to Katherine as she becomes as adept with a sword as any of the male bodyguards; no one will rape this lock. Ellen Kushner provides a superb intelligent gender bending medieval manners motif that grips the audience from the moment the Duke deems it will prove amusing to make his niece a swordswoman.

Tony Ballantyne
ISBN: 0553589288, $6.99

In the year 2210 in direct violation of the Environmental Agency dictates, Herb used the self replicating Von Newman Machines (VNM) to create a city on an uncharted world without doing the mandatory pre-testing. When he returns to his creation he expected to see a realm designed for colonization, but instead he finds the VNMs have gone amuck, self replicating without stopping and transforming the surface to their needs destroying life forms. E.A. Agent Robert Johnston informs Ralph that he will be punished for his transgressions but can mitigate his sentence if he helps him stop the AI of the Enemy Dominions from using VNMs to destroy worlds in their quest to conquer earth. Ralph acquiesces and assists Robert in detecting the enemy. The people don't realize that the war became inevitable two centuries ago when social misfits gave AIs the power to employ VNMs. RECURSION is an incredible scene fiction work that showcases the advancement of humanity in three different areas that lead to the pivotal point of war with AIs. Each era has a main character who in some astonishing way is connected to Ralph. There is plenty of action but Tony Ballantyne deftly balances the escapades with deep character interactions especially of the dysfunctional kind. Readers will ponder the message that can technology go so far as to create AIs that are detached from humanity.

Stephen Spignesi
ISBN: 0553587587, $12.00

In the Waterbridge Animal Shelter, Friday is Euthanasia Day. However, on this Friday someone "gases" six people; no obvious motive seems to exist though the police have arrested the prime suspect, who worked with the victims at shelter as a certified animal euthanasia technician, Victoria "Tory" Troy. When one meets her she comes across as gentle and caring, and loves her patients; so why would she kill six peers. Currently she is confined to a Connecticut psychiatric hospital under close guard for fear she might be suicidal. Psychologist Dr. Baraku Bexley is assigned to determine whether Tory is mentally competent to understand right from wrong and subsequently stand trial. He interviews her and realizes she has some odd viewpoints on life and especially is self righteous when it comes to the animals at the shelter. Her friends and family depict a nurturing intelligent person who loves animals and could not hurt a fly though her lawyer and her mother inform Dr. Bexley they cannot comprehend why she killed anyone. Still Dr. Bexley keeps digging hoping to separate the kind soul from the evil that cold bloodedly killed six people. Readers know from the opening line that this is not going to be a normal Euthanasia day at the shelter and are hooked right from the onset to learn why Tory kills six of her compatriots. She is a fascinating protagonist who chills the reader and Dr. Bexley with her simple moral explanations to his inquiry. This strong suspense filled character study leaves the audience looking deeply at morality issues as Stephan Spignesi provides powerful DIALOGUES (no sound bite here) on values.

One Last Breath
Stephen Booth
ISBN: 0385339054, $25.00

In 1990 Castleton, Derbyshire, a drunken Mansell Quinn comes home from the pub only to hear the woman's last breath as she dies. He confesses and is arrested him for the brutal murder of his lover. However, he recants his declaration of guilt, but is still convicted and goes to prison. Now over thirteen years later, Quinn is released from prison. Already known as a violent man before the homicide, he is a raging violent man with a grudge against those who sent him away. He almost immediately violates the conditions of his release, but the Peak District police cannot find him to pick him up. Instead the first person connected to Quinn, Rebecca Lowe, is murdered. While the police assume Quinn has begun avenging his "affront", Detective Constable Ben Cooper wonders if someone framed Quinn. Ben begins to look back at the case that his father solved thirteen years ago when he arrested Quinn and wonders if perhaps the culprit could be someone else then and now. As he obstinately digs for clues and tries to persuade Detective Sergeant Diane Fry that he is right and their superior DI Paul Hitchens is wrong, Ben comes to the attention of someone who wants him out of the way while Quinn hides in the caves near the tourist attractions. The latest Peak District police procedural (see BLIND TO THE BONES) is a solid tale that starts off with a deep look at the potential antagonist and establishes who the key police participants are. The story line slows down a bit in the middle even though more die and the delightful English Peak District is vividly described, but then takes off again for an exhilarating climax. Throughout readers will wonder if Ben is right as the evidence points heavily towards Quinn in Stephen Booth's fine whodunit.

Single in Suburbia
Wendy Wax
ISBN: 0553588974, $6.99

In Atlanta Amanda Sheridan is stunned when her spouse of almost two decades Rob traded up by simply leaving her and their two children to be with his younger beautiful girlfriend with nothing to take care of his family. Her plan beyond sticking a dipstick up his butt is nonexistent as Amanda has been a stay at home mom for over fifteen years and has no marketable skills except housekeeping, but she refuses to quit. She makes friends with ignored trophy wife Brooke and trice divorced Candace as the trio open up Maid for You. Amanda utilizes her only skill to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. However in suburbia a person like Amanda cannot be seen cleaning homes as that is unacceptable at least in her former circle. She masquerades as Solange de Papillion and along with her two buddies begins to learn that SINGLE IN SUBURBIA means fun if one is willing to ignore the disdain of people once considered friends. The three women make this a fine contemporary fiction as their camaraderie helps each to cope with male loss, male indifference, and male nothingness. The story line focuses on Amanda's efforts to take care of her children without revealing to the burbanites that they are in trouble. That leads to I Love Lucy zaniness that is amusing but also takes away from the strength of the tale, a liable protagonist surviving as a single mother in suburbia.

The Red Heart of Jade
Marjorie M. Liu
Love Spell
ISBN: 050552631X, $6.99

In Taipei, Dirk and Steele Detective Agency psychic agent Dean Campbell does not look forward to the job of stopping a serial killer who murders using fire as his M.O. When Dean suffers a horrible nightmare in which he is on fire, he realizes the adversary is a shape shifter who can become a dragon. He also begins to find a pattern to the madness, which leads to archeologist Dr. Mirabelle Lee. Dean goes to meet Mirabelle, whom he pledges to protect, but is shocked as he knows her. Two decades ago, they were teens who were attracted to one another, but both thought the other died. Now someone is pulling strings using dark magic to bring them together for what purpose neither knows, but the dragon is obviously part of the machinations. This Dirk and Steele paranormal romantic mystery, THE RED HEART OF JADE, is a fabulous thriller that readers will devour in one euphoric sitting. The fast-paced story line is loaded with action as the hero realizes his deadly adversary knows him and his skills quite intimately. Dean and Mirabelle are a dynamic duo trying to bring to ground a lethal murdering machine. As with SHADOW TOUCH, Marjorie M. Liu writes a gripping supernatural thriller.

The Grail King
Joy Nash
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526832, $6.99

In 130 AD Britannia, someone is bringing a veil of darkness over the island. Few, if any, have the skills to prevent this unknown sorcerer from succeeding; of those who might succeed, none seem willing to try. Owein remains trapped inside a self exiled wall of griefe caused by guilt over his wife's death. He welcomes the darkness with the only light he allows in being a vision of a Roman woman whom he desires. When that female Clara appears in person, Owein battles himself over wanting her and wanting her to leave. She pleads with him to help her dying father by regaining the Holy Grail so that her dad can sip its healing liquid. Though hesitant to leave his shelter, the hermit agrees to fulfill her request, not realizing that if the Druid Celts and the legions of Rome fail to unite, the darkness will engulf them both. THE GRAIL KING is a fantastic Ancient Druid Britannia romantic fantasy from the moment that a bewildered Owein's vision turns from all blood to the siren and never slows down until the final altercation. Owein is a champion who struggles with the demands placed on him including that of love while Clara proves she has a spine of steel. Readers will follow their escapades wondering whether Kernunnos the Horned God, some other deity, a druid or another enemy has invaded his isolated bleak mountains as the lead couple finds strength in their love for one another. Readers will sing joy to the world for this superior tale.

Eternal Nights
Patti O'Shea
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526522, $6.99

On Jarved Nine, Captain Kendall "Bug" Thomas has uncovered a smuggling ring that is stealing artifacts from the ancient alien pyramid in the middle of the Old City. However, she lacks hard evidence as required by her superior Lieutenant Colonel Alex Sullivan so she plans to risk her life to obtain the hard proof. Peer Captain Wyatt "Marsh" Montgomery decides that the time is right for him to pursue Kendall, the woman he loves as he has in at least one past life that he knows of which also bugs the hell out of him by her obstinate denial. Kendall tries to avoid Marsh, but he refuses to go away. Instead once he realizes that she is on a dangerous case that lacks official sanctioning, he joins her rejecting her insistence that he stay away. As they work together to prevent the looting of priceless artifacts, Bug soon knows why she has avoided Marsh as she now realizes she loves him. However, they must put their feelings aside because the case must come first. She will then figure out what to do about the swamp man that bugs her. This sequel to RAVYN'S FLIGHT is an excellent science fiction romantic detective tale that stands alone though some of the key players from the first novel provide critical support to ETERNAL NIGHTS. The story line insures the audience believes that the planet and its ancient alien presence seem genuine and the previous life scenario plausible though that it somewhat subtracts from the sci fi focus. The pairing is a pleasure as the heroine fails in her efforts to elude the man who desires her but insists on protecting her though she is tough and capable on her own account. Readers will appreciate this strong outer space thriller.

The Phantom of the Bathtub
Eugenia Riley
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526522, $6.99

In 1896 Savannah, Viveca Stanhope moves into her new home, Hangman's House, an old mansion with a reputation of being haunted by its first owner Alex Fremont. Viveca meets the ghost, but wonders if he might be a pervert as he seems to only appear when she is taking a bath and insisting on joining her in the tub. More troublesome to the new owner then her ghost is the staff that came with the mansion; their performance leaves Viveca to wonder if she should fire all of them. However, the perverted ghost and her incompetent staff are nothing compared to her arrogant neighbor Maxwell Bleecher. He drives her into a temper on the one hand and worse compels her into wanting his kisses. She is not sure if she hates him or loves him or both. However, she must concentrate on one thing at a time starting with helping Alex and his beloved Loreli make it to the next stage, then improving the performance of her servants, and finally confronting her heart about Maxwell. Readers obtain two romances for the price of one book as Eugenia Riley primarily focuses on the relationship between the new battling neighbors Viveca and Maxwell, but ably supplemented by the ghostly pairing of Alex and Loreli. These four and an eccentric support cast predominantly the inept servants make for a humorous story line. However, the key to this fun historical is that Ms. Riley insures her audience not believes in ghosts, but also trusts that love is eternal.

Calamity Jane Rides Again
Kathleen Bacus
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526697, $6.99

Local author and store clerk Tressa Jayne Turner is concerned with all the things going wrong at her family's ice cream booth at the Iowa State Fair. First her cousin who was to dish out ice cream has gone missing. Second the food concession has come under assault from a horde of invading cockroaches and angry patrons ready to switch loyalty to the soft competitor. Tressa knows someone is sabotaging her Uncle Frank's concession stand, but who and why is not readily available nor why her cousin seems to have vanished. Determined as ever, Tressa assumes the ice cream sales business has turned cutthroat so she begins sleuthing looking critically at her Uncle's rivals. Meanwhile her nemesis "Ranger Rick Townsend seems more interested this time with her sister than interfering (her thoughts) than helping (his thoughts) as they did in her recent escapade (see CALAMITY JANE). Of course state trooper P.D. Dawkins tells Tressa to not make any inquiries, but what's a girl to do when she finds the cop a hunk, her cousin, and the business melting away; simple investigate Calamity Jane style. This is a fun lighthearted mystery starring an amiable heroine who finds ways to dive head first into trouble and make problems that much worse as she adds chaos to a chaotic situation. The story line is fast-paced as Tressa comes to the rescue of Uncle Frank, who pleads with his calamitous niece to not get involved as he ahs enough problems. The relationship with Ranger Rick takes another spin as the twenty-three year old Jayne seems to have a new love interest and so does he. Fans of humorous romps will enjoy CALAMITY JANE RIDES AGAIN.

Kushiel's Scion
Jacqueline Carey
ISBN: 044650002X, $26.95

When prince of the blood Imriel no Montreve de la Courcel was a child in Terre d'Ange, his parents abandoned him. Pirates abduct him; they sexually abuse the lad in ways that are unmentionable. Life is bleak for the boy until the anguisette Phedre no Delauney and her lover warrior-priest Joscelin adopt Imriel. Imriel begins to learn to enjoy life, but still suffers nightmares from parental abandonment and the sexual actions of the pirates. However, his mother, demonic Melisande, though confined to a temple or die, has plans for her offspring. She will use him to seize the throne, something she has failed to achieve in the past. When she vanishes those at court assume that her son helped her escape with a plot to take control. Only the letters his mother wrote him that he has not read might offer a clue to where Melisande hides and what she plans to do next. Though he assumes he has no allies except perhaps Phedre and Joscelin and everyone he sees is an enemy, Imriel resolves to protect Queen Ysandre's daughter Sidonie, who he desires. The first tale in a new trilogy will excite fans as the adventures move to the next generation. The action-packed story line is fast-paced from the moment Melisande escapes as Imriel has to watch his back at all times. He takes over the prime role from Phedre so smoothly long time Kushiel readers will appreciate Jacqueline Carey's conversion while newcomers will not need the previous trilogy to follow Imriel's escapades though they will want to read about Phedre's adventures.

Abiding Darkness
John Aubrey Anderson
ISBN: 0446579491, $19.99, 337 pp.

In the summer of 1945 in the small Mississippi town of Mares Point seven year old Missy Parker, her twelve year old brother Bobby, and their black friend "Junior" Washington were inseparable. They built a boat and sailed on Cat Lake not knowing that demons were residing on the bottom of the water waiting for the right time to kill Missy. They inhabit the body of snakes and attack while Missy is alone on the boat. Junior, who came to Christ recently, saves her but before he dies from the venom, he asks his father Moses to help Missy find the Lord. She grows up a Christian and in collage dated Hull Dillworth, the leader of a Christian youth group. His outward purity hides his evil nature, making it easy for the demons to possess him. He tries to rape Missy but seminary student David Patterson stops him with the help of his guardian angel. David makes Missy promise to teach the Word to his unbeliever older brother Pat but his heart on the subject of God is closed mind. Pat wants her but resents the religion that he believes keeps them apart and only a miracle will change his mind. Readers who love the works of Frank Peretti will want to read ABIDING DARKNESS, Book One of The Black or White chronicles as the storyline is fast paced and exciting. The unseen supernatural angels and demons who work through humans add a mythical perspective to the plot. Missy is bright, beautiful, and unyielding in her religious convictions which make her the perfect counterpoint to Pat the unbeliever. John Aubrey Anderson is a talented storyteller who has written a fine inspirational saga.

Between, Georgia
Joshilyn Jackson
ISBN: 0446524425, $22.99

The family feud has simmered on the back burner of BETWEEN, GEORGIA heating up at times over the past three decades plus since it started with the birth of Nonny Jane, who has Crabtree DNA but was raised by Fretts. Recently the squabble has not been overtly hostile though the grudge remained just below the surface until Ona Crabtree's ferocious Doberman attacks Genny Frett. Now once again the ninety residents must take sides as the anarchic Crabtree and affluent Frett kin prepare for war with only Nonny Jane, who has a foot in each armed camp, seeking peace. Nonny learns about the dog incident so she races to her nearby hometown to try to prevent hostilities from escalating. When she arrives in Between, Nonny Jane is yanked by her biological family who loathes that one of them abandoned her to her adopted family who detests that she has the wrong blood inside her. However, this time the feud seems even more acrimonious than ever as the already crazy matriarchs on both sides act like vampires needing to feed. Nonny tries her best, but she also has a flash temper and her record of harmonious relationships stand at zero. Is she adding fuel or water to the fire? This is a pleasant regional contemporary tale starring a heroine who feels that she is tied to two mules pulling her in opposite directions. Nonny Jane knows that her two families share so much more in common as she realizes her temper and skill at holding onto a grudge comes from both sides; professionals especially at keeping a rancor warm and welcome. The cast is eccentric with several seemingly playing solitaire with a deck of fifty-one marked cards as Joshilyn Jackson writes an impudent witty southern drama.

Like Dandelion Dust
Karen Kingsbury
Center Street (Warner)
ISBN: 1931722854, $12.95

Jack and Molly Campbell adopt newborn Joey whose biological mother Wendy Porter, fearing for the infant's life, forged her abusive husband's signature while he did prison time for beating her up. For the next four years Jack, Molly and Joey live a delightful loving life together in Palm Beach that includes her sister Beth, her brother-in-law Bill and their son Jonah, who is Joey's best friend. Feeling guilt Wendy informs Rip after his release from prison what she did. He persuades her he has changed and they demand custody of Joey claiming fraud. Social worker Allyson Bower agrees with the Porters and a court rules they have custody. Joey is removed from the nurturing of the Campbells to the Ohio home of the Porters where Wendy sees first hand her mistake as Rip remains an angry raging person. Joey though in fear prays to God just like his cousin taught him and finds comfort with the Lord's presence even in the violent Porter home. Using complex social issues involving parental rights, Karen Kingsbury provides a deep inspirational family drama with a strong cast of characters whose moral dilemmas seem very real. Readers will appreciate little Joey as he comforts his adopted mom, his biological mom, and even his aunt with his youthful belief that God will take care of him and them. Rip is abusive and violent and obviously bad for his son but despite this angry man, fans who appreciate a well written exciting inspirational tale based on realistic social values and issues will want to read LIKE DANDELION DUST, a sort of religious take on Taking Isaiah.

To Thine Own Self Be True
Judy Clemens
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590582985, $24.95

Deciding to treat herself for the holidays, Pennsylvania dairy farmer Stella Crown drives to Wolf Ink to have artist Wolf etch her a new tattoo. While Wolf lectures Stella to stop moving, his wife Mandy tells her droll stories that keep her laughing. Mandy leaves for the back room, but soon asks Wolf to join her for a minute; Stella dozes for twenty minutes. When she awakens from her catnap, she finds herself alone with only half the tattoo finished and the weather turning ugly. She goes home though the ride takes over twice as long as normal due to the falling snow. Soon afterward Lansdale Police Detective Shisler and Officer Beane arrive to question Stella about when she last seen Scott (Wolf) and Mandy Moore. After answering specific questions from the two cops, Shisler informs Stella that just outside the tattoo parlor Mrs. Moore froze to death after being hit on the head; Wolf vanished. Feeling guilty because Mandy may have died while she left in a tizzy, Stella investigates an angry client and illegal tattooists working the under sixteen trade in back allies while never changing needles. The third Stella Crown amateur sleuth mystery is an entreating and educational tale that will have the audience appreciating the heroine's efforts as well as reconsidering the stereotyping of bikers and tattoo artists. The story line is driven by the Harley riding tattooed Stella who feels a sense of responsibly for Mandy's death though she knows she did not cause the tragedy. Her inquiry enables the audience to understand the damage caused by the back alley criminal tattooists (sounds like abortion before Roe vs. Wade) and the holier than thou legislators who condemn an entire industry due to these few miscreants.

Donis Casey
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590583094, $24.95

In 1913 Boynton, Oklahoma mother of eleven Alafair Tucker finds she is very concerned about Alice, one of her adult children. Alice wants barber widower Walter Kelley, a handsome man whom the woman adore. Alafair mistrusts the man because she believes he would not remain faithful to one woman as he seems to enjoy the female adulation. However Alice refuses to change her mind insisting that the love of a good woman, her, will keep Walter from straying. To keep her mind off of Alice's obsession, Alafair investigates the cold case homicide of Walter's wife, Louise. Her body was found floating in a creek near the Tucker farm eight months ago. HORNSWOGGLED is a fabulous early twentieth century Okalahoma historical amateur sleuth story that grips the audience from the start with its insight into time and place. The dialect used by the Tucker brood and their neighbors augments the strength of the plot by adding depth to the cast and the feel for the era. The whodunit investigation is fun, but the tale is more a period piece than a mystery as the investigation augments the period and locale. Fans will appreciate going down home to an Oklahoma less than a decade as a state escorted by delightful tour guide Alafair Tucker.

Cattery Row
Clea Simon
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 159058306X, $24.95

Freelance journalist Theda Krakow is having a rough time of it lately. The reporter, who has had many of her articles published by the Boston Morning Mail, had a major blow up with her editor Tim and walks out in a tiff, which leads to her current financial crisis. She wonders whether her relationship with Bill, a Boston homicide detective, should go to the next level; finally she is further confused when her former ex-boyfriend comes back to Boston wanting to see her. Her friends aren't doing much better. Her cattery pal Rose is being blackmailed for $20,000 which she insists she does not have but must pay otherwise they will kill her cats. Another pal Violet has had some sick cats stolen from her shelter. When Theda goes to interview Rose for a story she finds the woman murdered and believes the blackmailer committed the crime while the police think she was killed because of her involvement in stealing purebred cats. Theda investigates not realizing she may need as many lives as the cats possess. CATTERY ROW is much more than just a great mystery; it is a story of a woman's life. Through her eyes the audience will adore the quirky and culturally rich Cambridge protagonist who deals with failure responsibly while also enjoying her relationships with her lover and her friends, all with distinct differing and distinct personalities. The whodunit is fantastic as Clea Simon brings her heart and soul into CATTERY ROW.

Winter's Child
Margaret Maron
ISBN: 0892968109, $24.95

In Colleton County, North Carolina someone shoots and kills J.D. Rouse in his pick-up truck. The official homicide investigation includes Chief Deputy Dwight Bryant who recently married highly regarded Judge Deborah Knott; he hopes to keep his wife out of the inquiry because he fears for her safety, but Deborah is "Knott" a person to stand around waiting for justice. In the middle of the night Dwight's eight-year-old son Cal calls sounding upset as his mother Jonna failed to come home. Dwight takes time off from work and the murder investigation to drive to Shaysville, Virginia where he finds his ex-wife is okay though her excuses seem to him as lies. Wondering who she is protecting Dwight is soon stunned when Jonna and cal suddenly vanish. Deborah arrives in Shaysville to help her spouse find his missing son and ex-wife even as more murders occur back in Colleton County where a frantic Dwight knows he is needed but Cal comes first. Proving dozen is perfect, Margaret Maron's latest Judge Knott whodunit is a fantastic mystery in which the two subplots are tremendous and when the impossible plausibly connect become even that much better. The Judge is fabulous as she must provide solace to her concerned mate while placing herself in harm's way in trying to recover his son safely. Dwight is right in this tale as he is frantic with worry over Cal and to a degree Jonna while also feeling guilt over not being there when his county needs him. However, with all that going for it, the killers in Virginia and Carolina make this one of the year's best suspense tales.

Captive Moon
C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp
ISBN: 0765354012, $6.99

Sazi cat chieftain Antoine Monier has terrific illusionary skills and an ability to see the future. He is proud of the former, but hides the latter since he learned as a child a seer talent is taboo for a Sazi. In Germany, local police show Antoine the slaughter of several tigers apparently captured by poachers. He knows he cannot do anything for them, but hears that these illegal hunters hold a female tiger prisoner; he plans to rescue her. American Tahira Kuric of the Hayalet Kabile Ghost Tribe came to Germany to rescue her brother, Rabi, a kidnap victim, but instead was captured by poachers. Antoine rescues Tahira, but she does not trust him as her people learn from childhood that the Sazi are cunning and deceitful. However, she has no choice but to plead with him to help her locate Rabi. However, instead of uncovering Rabi's whereabouts, the duo realizes a cross species war is imminent unless they can perform a miracle to prevent it. Even Were-snake Councilman Ahmad al-Narmer challenges Antoine for the leadership and for Tahira's affection. Neither is aware that she contains a power that if she fails to control means the death of any shifter who is in her vicinity. The latest Sazi romantic fantasy (see MOON'S WEB) is a marvelous tale that grips fans with its fascinating star-crossed yet needing one another on several layers story line. The lead couple keeps the plot moving as they run from one fiery episode into another lethal incident; Ahmad augments the novel as he competes for Tahira and for the leadership; thus he adds to the romance and provides a delightful look at the Sazi politics and community. Filled with surprising twists, C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp insure readers are captivated by this enthralling thriller.

Daniel Kalla
ISBN: 076535439X, $7.99

In Seattle Dr. Catalina "Lina" Lopez works for the Pacific Northwest Epidemiological Intelligence Service, a branch of CDC. She joined the agency dreaming that she would heroically stop an outbreak of avian flu or some other epidemic. Instead she sits in public forums fielding tedious questions from pseudo-intellects still fantasizing that her disease prevention escapade will soon come along with her hopes of getting assigned to the headquarters one day. However, Lina will soon learn that you better watch what out for what you wish for as reports from Vancouver and Portland claim a new "superbug" that is deadly and totally immune to antibiotics has arrived. Soon hospitals throughout the region claim this superbug spreads faster than anything they ever seen and nothing seems to prevent it from moving on. Lina realizes that this is not just a health crisis; this could be a pandemic worse than 1918. People are dying in bunches including health providers. Soon many in the health fields fear going to work and stop showing up, exacerbating the crisis. In Vancouver, Dr. Graham Kilburn, who has seen the impact from the onset, joins Lina in a desperate battle to develop a RESISTANCE to this PANDEMIC disaster while some unknown adversaries want to prevent the doctors from finding the elixir. This is a timely exhilarating medical thriller that is at its best when the story line focuses on the impacts of the superbug and the efforts to find a means of prevention. When the plot spins into an action-packed conspiracy thriller it gains excitement but also loses the essence of what makes the tale so good. Still this is a thrilling tale that will remind sub-genre readers of Dustin Hoffman's Outbreak.

The Ghosts of Blood and Innocence
Storm Constantine
ISBN: 0765303485, $27.95

Darquiel was raised amidst the Olopade tribe, but though he has no idea who his parents are he believes he is the offspring of humiliated, dead or both Wraeththu of renown. As he grows up he realizes he is different from his tribesmen as he has magical prowess that no other seems to have. He experiments trying to "incept" his best friend, the human Amelza, but that fails tragically; Thiede the powerful detects Darq's magical effort especially his psychic plea to help his friend and realizes how different this har is from his tribesmen. Loki, the son of the mighty Tigron, has a well earned reputation in the use of magic and diplomacy. However, Geburael and his half-brother Diablo, believing that the hold on society by their grandfather Tigron must end must kidnap Loki, whose attempts to escape fail. As Darq learns how to control his magic and who his parents are, his path will intersect with Geburael, Diablo, and Loki. Though action saga fantasy fans will want to pass as the story line moves at a moderate pace, readers who appreciate a deep look at a future evolved species of humanity will fully relish this Wraeththu entry. Darq is the fascinating character though he shares top billing with the more accomplished Loki as the former's coming of age in the realm of magic brings deep insight into the abilities of his race. Storm Constantine provides a fine tale that shines a powerful light on the Wraeththu.

Secret Story
Ramsey Campbell
ISBN: 0765316161, $25.95

Civil servant Dudley Smith writes a short story based on a true crime murder that occurred on an underground train. He entered his work in a Mersey Mouth magazine contest and won. However, the parents of a real victim of an identical homicide threaten to sue Mersey Mouth and Dudley. Instead of being upset editor Patricia Martingale is euphoric that they found a local talent and encourages Dudley to write more such tales starring "Mr. Killogram". A movie director is also interested. However, unbeknownst to Patricia or her cohorts at Mersey Mouth or perhaps they are just not interested since the bottom line is all that counts, Dudley can only write what he has performed; thus when the movie director asks for script revisions, Dudley needs real life victims to rewrite; when Patricia asks for a magazine article, Dudley needs real victims to write about. At the rate Dudley is going he might win an Oscar for screenwriting and an Agatha in the same year; that is if he is not caught for his realism. This is a terrific crime thriller that showcases in cleverly restrained ways how Ramsey Campbell believes what the author's obligation is to his reader, his cast especially the lead character and to him or herself. Dudley keeps the tale together as a psychopath willing to exploit the avarice of the film and publications industries while symbiotically, the film director and the magazine editor are willing to exploit Dudley as they do not want to know the truth. The shock to SECRET STORY is the seemingly mundane mutual exploitation of the lead characters that leads to a great behind the scenes thriller.

Mick Farren
ISBN: 0765313634, $27.95

The fearsome "Four" teens (Cordelia, Jesamine, Argo and Raphael) function as one when they must psychically battle the Dark Things in the Other Place in their quest to contain the evil Mosul Empire and its malevolent enchantress Queen Jeakqual-Ahrach. Their current assignment is to drive the Asian horde out of the once free Commonwealth of Virginia. However, the quartet realizes that their powers as a group and as individuals are growing rapidly, but none of them comprehend that a by-product of their rising skills is an increasing dependency on alcohol and sex at first. Each soon recognizes what is happening as they covet sex to the point that it engulfs their every moment, but none apparently can stop the desire for more. Each turns to some form of gratification with Jesamine making it with Prime Minster Jack Kennedy, a bull who can keep it up. However, the heroes must return to form soon as the enemy enchantress has created twins to destroy to quartet and Jesamine has been abducted into enemy held territory across the channel near what is left of Paris. Together they are nearly invincible, but their individual needs and desires keep them divided. CONFLAGRATION, the sequel to KINDLING, is an interesting erotic alternate historical fantasy. The story line spends quite a bit of time in the first segment showcasing the wide sexual appetites of the Four, but once an assassination and the abduction occur, the plot goes hyperspeed thriller though the passion cravings grow too. Though a bit muddled, fans who appreciate a different type of alternate historical fantasy, will want to read this tale and its predecessor as Mick Farren brings out all the chains, whips, and assorted XXX paraphernalia in this rousing tale.

Proof Positive
Phillip Margolin
ISBN: 006089797X, $25.95

Oregon state crime lab forensic expert Bernie Cashman is the recognized expert, a magician who seems to conjure up the impossible PROOF POSITIVE that sends many suspects to jail. He is the best at insuring a conviction. However, there is one slight drawback to Bernie's methodology. He has no moral compunction to faking the evidence that sends those he believes are guilty to prison. No one realizes that Bernie has become judge and jury as his results has made him the centerfold for those tough on crime. However, his lesser colleague Mary Clark stumbles on Bernie's rigging the proof. Used to being adulated as a God, an irate Bernie knows he must rid the world of this do-gooder, but also needs a culprit, whom he finds in unhinged Jacob Cohen, to take the fall. Oregon defense attorney Amanda Jaffe takes on homeless Jacob as her client. His case though not related in any sense to another still seems familiar with the link being Bernie. Amanda investigates not realizing that this CSI is willing to kill anyone who tries to kick him off his pantheon perch on the top of Mount Olympus. In many ways Bernie stars in this crime thriller as his fascinating in a macabre way actions and rationalizations are the focus of the tale even more so than Amanda is. Amanda remains an intriguing protagonist (see TIES THAT BIND and WILD JUSTICE) as her personal problems simmer (thank goodness) in the background. Using a macabre twist on the CSI adulation theme, Phillip Margolin provides a Hitchcockian thriller that readers will relish.

Oksana Robski
ISBN: 0060892641, $24.95, 280 pp.

She, Serge and their nine years old daughter lived the good life of the Russian nouveau riche in the upscale Rublyovka section of Moscow until her spouse was gunned down just outside their luxurious apartment. Stunned and grieving with no satisfaction from the police, who initially suspect her, the wealthy young widow is determined to maintain their high standard of living while also avenging the murder of her loved one. As she plans to keep the business running smoothly, she turns to Oleg, who can navigate places that the police would fear entering. She wants to hire him to find her husband's killer, whose composite picture she has seen at the police station and has previously met at the restaurant. However, she will soon learn more than she wants to know about how Moscow's ruthless business world operates; her late spouse's real trade; and especially Serge's darkest secrets. This is an intriguing look at Russia's nouveau riche especially those of high society who live in the exclusive Rublyovka neighborhood like Yeltsin. The story line is driven mostly by the lead female, but supported by her contacts with the upper class elite and the lower class minion as she works both sides of the street. Fans of deep dramas in which the locale is the star will enjoy this solid character study starring an affluent Russian woman with two divergent goals.

The Swarm
Frank Schatzing
ISBN: 0060813261, $24.95

In the first week of March off Trondheim, Norway research scientist Dr. Sigur Johanson notices that polychaetes have been found in a methane environment particularly harsh for that species; these bristleworms should never have survived let alone multiply into a colony of millions in Norwegian continental shelf. By the twelfth of March, marine biologist Dr. Leon Anawak wonders why the whales he has watched for years are two weeks late on their annual migration along Vancouver Island. Not long afterward, Leon learns that four different species of whales attacked with military precision a cargo ship and two tugboats towing it. Leon scoffs at the report as these whales do not cohabitate. Other sea related incidents occur as crabs poison Long Island's water supply and in Paris lobsters explode like suicidal bombers while deadly bacteria enters the drinking water. World leaders become concerned that the worms will disturb oil deposits on the North Sea Shelf. Scientists struggle to understand why and how the seven seas seem to be taking back the world. When the North Sea Shelf collapses from the burrowing worms, thousands of Europeans die leading to an international panic. Scientists discover the intelligent Yrr are enacting revenge for the environmental abuse that humanity has wrecked upon their ecological system deep in inner earth. War is now with the losing species cleansed from this orb. Reminiscent of the 1950s environmental horror movies and the works of HG Wells, THE SWARM is a terrific science fiction thriller. The action-packed story line contains insightful interwoven scientific explanation that is easy to comprehend leading to a powerful cautionary tale that brings Rachel Carson's warnings of The Silent Spring into the twenty first century. Though the intelligent design crowd will scream bush level fiction, readers will appreciate this deep tale wondering What's Going On?

The Last Anniversary
Liane Moriarty
ISBN: 0060890681, $14.95

In 1932 Scribbly Gum Island, Australians Alice and Jack Munro vanish without a trace leaving behind their infant daughter found by Connie and Rose Doughty. The case became internationally known as "The Baby Munro Mystery" and soon led to the tiny island becoming a tourist spot especially due to the efforts of the sisters. Over the next seven decades the Doughty family has made a fortune off the Enigma of the Baby Munro Mystery. However, now the matriarch Connie dies ending her iron control of the purse strings. The family members quickly war with one another ending the fragile peace that Connie fostered on everyone. Rose may still be alive, but is too much the romantic dreamer to enforce a code of ethics on the family. Though she only met Aunt Connie a few times, Sophie Honeywell, who ended her relationship with Scribbly Gum native Thomas Gordon, inherits her home. Sophie moves to escape Sydney though she fears that seeing Thomas will remind her that she let go of her probable soulmate, but instead deals with five generations of eccentric acrimonious kin. Though Liane Moriarty endows her vast cast with varying personalities and physical traits readers will need a scorecard to keep track of who's who, which can become overwhelming. Still this is a rich complex tale containing numerous well written subplots involving aging, financial dictatorship, postpartum depression, hetero and homo sexual relationships, amidst many others as each player has a major issue. The tie that brings everyone and all the subplots together remains the Enigma baby abandonment that will have the audience hooked wondering what happened in 1932 that still impacts everyone today.

Dead Cat Bounce
Norm Green
ISBN: 0060851694, $13.95

New York tough guy and conman Stoney has mixed feelings when his teenage daughter Marisa calls him to ask if she can see him in Manhattan. He readily agrees as he misses his former wife Donna who tossed him out as a worthless drunk and their children Marisa and Dennis. Marisa asks Stoney to check into Donna's new boyfriend Charles David Prior of affluent Alpine, New Jersey, who leers at her while mom has her head buried up his butt. She wants him not to beat up the connected to cops and politicians Prior, but to find something that she can use to drive the creep away from them. He turns to his con mate Fat Tommy, who can get info on anyone, but fails to find anything not even a prior history on Prior. Another street pal Tuco joins them as the trio sets in motion a con to prove that Prior is nasty goods who will hurt their daughter while they also get some easy money. However, Marisa is right that the connected Creeper is dangerous when he wins and worse when he thinks he is losing so Stoney, Fat Tommy and Tuco know they must be extra careful when they pull off their sting. Though Norman Green leaves the mean streets of Brooklyn (see SHOOTING DR. JACK) by moving Stoney and company to the mean streets of lower Manhattan and even meaner New Jersey, fans of the author will agree that DEAD CAT BOUNCE is a terrific urban Noir. Marisa sets the tone early when she tells her dad that he is the only person mean and tough enough to take on Prior. The action-packed story line is character driven especially by the three conmen as they go about taking apart a man they believe plans to exploit Donna and do something much worse to Marisa before he succeeds.

Drenched in Light
Lisa Wingate
ISBN: 0451218485, $13.95

Ballet dancer Julia Costell had a promising career but collapsed under the incredible pressure after suffering an eating disorder caused by a retort from her ballet instructor. She managed to land in Kansas City as a guidance counselor at Harrington Arts Academy, a magnet school for talented middle year students in the performing arts. Julia knows first hand that those with wealth have a monster edge in the admittance program as they can afforded the best private tutors, which leads her to wonder how thirteen years old Dell Jordan, daughter of a dead addict, made the cut. Counseling Dell, who struggles with the academic classes, Julia recognizes a talented but frightened young lady with no support system; in other words she sees her as a young teen with potential to go far as a ballerina but had no support system. They forge a relationship in which Julia helps Dell cope and improve her grades while Dell introduces Julia to an after-school program for underprivileged kids. In spite of her dedication, Julia is in trouble of losing her job when her supervisor demands she apologize for trying to help a student using drugs as the truth need not apply when money is involved. Though too many of life lessons come together at the same time overwhelming the reader and Julia, the lead character learns through the school of hard knocks what is important and what is not. Dell proves to be her catalyst that turns her introspective so that she can see inside herself how others perceive her. Fans of a deep character study will want to read DRENCHED IN LIGHT as Lisa Wingate writes about the downside caused by internal and external pressure of performing.

You Could Do Better
Stephanie Lehmann
ISBN: 045121854X, $12.95

Schoolteacher Charles tried to speak with his fiancee Daphne Wells about buying his grandmother's house as she is moving to Florida. However, he cannot compete with the TV show Supermodels so she only half hears him. When it registers she thinks New Rochelle home of the Petries. With her penchant for TV, Daphne has the perfect job as a curator at the Museum of Television and Radio in New York City. Daphne realizes she has ignored her upcoming wedding so she needs to start planning as the commercials do not lend itself to set up a nuptial gala though they seem the ideal amount of time for sex with Charles. She asks her older sister, international model Billie, to help her. However, as the event comes closer she begins to think of it as a day of infamy rather than happiness. Adding to her doubts is her meeting television producer Jonathan, who brings passion outside the boob tube into her life especially during a weekend romp in the Hamptons. Daphne decides Jonathan is the man as he can get her away from the small screen for more than a minute or two. YOU COULD DO BETTER is a fine lighthearted romantic romp that is fun to follow though Daphne is shallower than George in Seinfeld. The story line is filled with amusing asides and entertaining TV trivia footnotes interwoven into the plot. Fans of a blithe pleasant tale will enjoy this light summer read.

Around the Next Corner
Elizabeth Wrenn
ISBN: 0451218426, $12.95

She wonders what ever happened to intelligent enthusiastic Deena Munger. One day she had a future now middle age and all she shows is a disrespected unappreciated housewife and mother. In her mind there is no Deena; only mother to indifferent children and housewife to an uncaring mate though she admits she loves her family. Deena decides it is time for a change from her mundane existence. She chooses to help society by raising a puppy for K-9 Eyes for the Blind. However, Deena begins to ponder whether the grass was greener when she was a common housewife as her new dog Helouise is a lunatic on four legs who has nuked the lifestyle of the Mungers. Deena realizes that Helouise will either prove the family savior or the straw that broke the marriage. Elizabeth Wrenn provides a deep insightful look at a mom and wife who loves her family, but wonders when her unique identity vanished. Deena is a fabulous protagonist wondering is that all there is as she lives life through her family until she brings Helouise into the household. Ironically and realistically, she does not revert back to a previous Deena as her new role is through the canine as the teacher. Still Helouise changes the group dynamics so indirectly the heroine begins to reassert herself as more than just mom, wife, and teacher. AROUND THE NEXT CORNER will hit home to baby boomers who like this literary soul mate will wonder when I morphed from that idealistic dreamer into an aging pragmatist.

You Made Me Love You
Joanna Goodman
ISBN: 0451218531, $13.95

Estelle Zarr dreams of making it in Hollywood as a highly regarded movie director and to find her soulmate, but so far has failed on both fronts. Having never left their hometown of Toronto, her sister Jessie worries about everything involving her two children Levi and Ilana as her marriage fails. The third sibling Erica lives in New York where she dreams of becoming writer, but instead lives her aspirations through her live-in lover, novelist Paul. Their parents also living in Toronto, Lilly and former songwriter Milton, struggle with the ennui of their golden years that seem tarnished lately. When Milton's former partner Gladys dies, he feels his mortality. His two daughters living in the States join the third sister in Toronto to attend the funeral of a person who was like an aunt to them and to offer their condolences especially to their father. Each of the sisters looks at how green the grass is under the feet of their siblings, how jealous of the attention their mom showers on the other two, and makes decisions about their future. Estelle decides her film career needs her attention not finding a husband; Jessie seeks warmth in an affair that further deteriorates her marriage; Erica and Paul break up as both need breathing room. This is a terrific family drama as Joanna Goodman manages to keep the five Zarrs and their lovers and offspring unique and totally different from one another. Each of the three siblings and their parents face a personal crisis filled with doubts as to the best course of action. YOU MADE ME LOVE YOU is a strong character study that rotates first person perspective so that the audience gets deep inside of the cast to understand what motivates them. Ms. Goodman has provided a fascinating contemporary tale.

A Dangerous Dress
Julia Holden
ISBN: 0451218647, $14.00

Jane Stuart always dreamed of making it in the big city where she feels fame awaits her. However, for now she remains a small town girl with only dreams of leaving Kirland, Indiana for the bright lights of the big time fashion world in New York or Paris. Jane's grandma dies. Amongst the inheritance is a beautiful in excellent condition 1920s Persian dress that totally fascinates her. She decides to investigate the origin of the dress and her grandmother's life for a school paper. To her surprise the paper is published and comes to the attention of French movie director Gerard Duclos. He invites Jane to come to Paris, which she accepts as the first step on her journey to fame; not yet understanding that fame is not everything, love and to live is. A DANGEROUS DRESS is a complex tale with a relatively simple story line; that is the beauty of the novel and the amazing talent of author Julia Holden. Whereas the theme is a coming of age plot, Jane learns several lessons about fame, love, and responsibility. Fans who appreciate a deep but straightforward well written character study, must read the intelligent A DANGEROUS DRESS.

Shadowed by Wings
Janine Cross
ISBN: 0451460898, $14.00

Seventeen years old Zarq believes it is her destiny as the Skykeeper's Daughter to become a dragonmaster. However, the Keepers of the Dragon Temple reject her request; insisting no woman has ever been or shall be a dragonmaster. She is warned to drop her pursuit or face dire consequences though she endures an abusive apprenticeship including rape and mutilation by the Dragonmaster of Clutch Re headed by Overlord Waikar Re Kratt. While her peers treat her with contempt, Zarq searches for allegedly lost ancient documents that will prove a woman could be a Dragonmaster. If she succeeds in finding the document she would still face certain death of heresy or worse cold turkey withdrawal from dragon venom that's she is addicted to while they lock her away. Adding to her pressure is her late mother's dragon demands she search for her missing sister, Waivia, instead of completing an apprenticeship that will at the end still not achieve her dream of becoming one with the dragons. This is not for everyone as Janine Cross is vividly descriptive with the trials and tribulations that assault the young heroine as she bucks the enforced order of the Taliban like Dragon Temple. Definitely not for a weak stomach with scenes of rape, genital and other bodily mutilations, and sexual slavery that make Zarq's dragon venom addiction, forced prostitution and even bestiality, seem mild. Well written, SHADOWED FOR WINGS is a violent XXX fantasy saga that provides a radically different look at a dragon based society than the heroic thread eaters of Pern.

Princess at Sea
Dawn Cook
ISBN: 0441014240, $7.99, 352 pp.

Tess, third in line to the throne at Constenopolie, is also apprentice to a player. Players are the real powers behind the throne, using the royals as chess pieces in what they consider a game of power. The magic they possess comes from venom of a Punta cat, a poison that they are able to tolerate, some better than others; darts are the players' weapon of choice against one another. Now Tess is doing nothing but acting as a mediator on the nuptial cruise of her sister the queen and her new husband. When pirates take over the ship, Tess manages to kill three before they seize her and the royals. The pirates intend to ransom the rulers but they want vengeance for the three deaths Tess caused. They throw her into a pit with a punta cat that bites her before she escapes. In a stupor she links minds with Jeck, the captain of the king's guard, and he is able to magically heal her. When she awakens, her powers are stronger but more unpredictable and her body is producing the venom on her own so that anyone hitting her with a venom dart would probably kill her. After escaping from the pirates, she now must find a way to rescue her sister and her husband. Dawn Cook is one of the most creative fantasists writing today. Her characters are all fully developed and totally believable, hero and villain alike. Her real talent lies in her ability to create an imaginary world with its own cultures and make the audience feel as if the place and people are real. There is enough action, adventure and romance in PRINCESS AT SEA to appeal to even the most discerning fantasy lover.

Kelly McCullough
ISBN: 0441014259, $6.99

In the twenty-first century, magic has gone digital with spells being coded on the Mweb and familiars being computers that turn into trolls and goblins. Instead of using the more dangerous chaos energy to cast a spell, powerful sorcerers program their magic leaving it to hackers like Ravirn to find and remove the bugs so that they work properly. Ravirn is a college student who is studying to refine his skills for his family's use. His kin is descended from the Three Fates and he is a demideity who never ages. When his Great-Aunt Atropos asks for his help on a spell that would replace the chaos of free will with order he refuses. She puts a spell on him that insures no one believes anything he says when he talks about his aunt's endeavor; still he plans to stop the powerful Atropos with his only allies being his cousin with an nth degree of separation Cerice, his familiar Melchior the beautiful computer webgoblin and a didcarded webtroll. Ravirn and company have no chance against his relative, one of the Three Fates but he will die trying because free will means that much to him. Fans who enjoy the fantasy The Warlock In Spite of Himself and its myriad spin-offs will thoroughly appreciate the madcap and whimsical WEBMAGE. The combination of computer technology with magic spells makes for a whimsical tale of action, adventure, and romance. Ravirn is a charming hero; an idealist fighting for what he believes is worth battling for inside a comedic quirky fantasy. Kelly McCullough shows great promise as a fantasy writer and the audience will hope there is a sequel for this spellbinding book.

A Separate War and Other Stories
Joe Haldeman
ISBN: 0441014070, $24.95

This fifteen story collection showcases award winning Joe Haldeman, for the most part, at his best. Especially of note for fans of THE FOREVER WAR is the title tale, A Separate War; this time he tells the climax from the viewpoint of Marygay instead of from William as he did in the original novel. This reviewer reread the novel except substituting instead Marygay's finish for the William ending and found it still as strong. Most of the other fourteen tales can be found in recent (since 2000) publications while two entries, "Out of Phase" and "Power Complex", are over thirty years old, displaying a relative newcomer getting his legs underneath him (the plots were better used later in CAMOUFLAGE). Many of the other excellent tales portray a bleak future. A SEPARATE WAR AND OTHER STORIES is a strong compilation of one of the best science fiction writers of the past few decades.

Sorcerer's Moon
Julian May
ISBN: 044101383X, $24.95

High Blenholme Island contains four separate kingdoms, vassal states to the sovereignty of King Conrig Ironcrown, who also rules over Cothra. When he united the island monarchies, he also dreamed of conquering the mainland, but the reality is that he is besieged on all sides leaving his present control precarious especially with the sentient amphibious Salka wanting to reclaim the island that was once belonged to them before the humans came and pushed them into a small backwater area of Moss. His son and heir Orrion appeals to the sky beings to get him out of a political marriage so that he can wed the woman he loves. The incorporeal beings of the sky grant him his wish, but the law removes him as heir and his twin Prince Corodon replaces him as first in royal succession though he is unfit to rule; Orrion knows that. Conrig's first wife, long thought dead, proves to be alive and desperate to speak to her son Dyfrig to inform him he is the rightful ruler as neither of the twins are eligible since they are offspring of another woman who they inherited magical skills from. The Salkas are invading and the royals are divided with Conrig the only apparent person capable of bring everyone together, but he is losing his grip on reality as he thinks more of his own personal demons and his desire to conquer the mainland invasion than defending the island. SORCERER'S MOON is the third and final book in the Boreal Moon trilogy and it ties up loose ends that were left dangling from the previous tales. Humans obtain help from the powerful skybeings especially the one condemned to live beneath the ice because he lost a civil war that has exiled many while the beaconfolk try to enslave humanity in their sick twisted game. Even with this powerful ally that may not be enough in the war with the Salka as mankind is unable to come together and another dangerous foe lurks. Julian May creates a world filled with wonder, magic and battlles that seems plausible, which makes this fantasy a winner.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

The Iceland Connection
D. Edward Bradley
Tarbutton Press
1017 7th St., Three Rivers MI 49093
ISBN: 1933094087, $16.95, 410 pp.

This final book of Mr. Bradley's trilogy, like the prequels, can easily stand alone but I don't recommend reading only one of this series. I enjoyed all three books so much that reading only one of them is unthinkable from my viewpoint.

This final book spans four years, from 1950 to 1954. Life is far from idyllic for our lads in the post war years. The four friends are scattered throughout the UK and rarely spend time together. The free world contends with the threat of Communism. Nazis are still on the loose and pop up in the oddest places. As the story begins, old schoolmate Pansy – Richard Bloombury – has disappeared in Iceland. Why he went to Iceland in the first place is a mystery none of his chums can figure out.

Beastly – John Barnett – is still alone, but not for long. Pansy's sister Petra is a charming, quicksilver girl who needs John's help locating her brother. Their attraction for each other grows while chasing leads to Pansy's whereabouts through Iceland. Captain – Martin Bulman – is now married to the operative he met while imprisoned behind the Iron Curtain. He's still in service as an Intelligence agent, settled down in domestic bliss with Kristy.

And Harry Lockwood, always the strong and reliable one of the lot, has discovered he has feet of clay. His betrayal of wife Jenny with a seductive, manipulative student shatters their relationship. Harry is a lecturer at Perth University. He agrees to accompany a field trip to Iceland so students can study flora and fauna on site, and hopes the isolation will help stabilize his life. What Harry experiences in this land of desolate beauty is an unexpected lesson in love and loss when he meets, loves, and loses Esmie Strange.

From England to Sweden to Iceland to Morocco, Bradley puts the lads through their paces. Mystery, danger, and intrigue complicate the Icelandic expedition. The four friends and their women are charismatic characters, and the plot is exciting, with enough twists to keep readers guessing. But in this last book. the highlight for me is Bradley's stunning portrait of a strong man's gradual descent into suicidal depression.

Will Pansy ever resurface? Where has he been, and why? Who is the mysterious stranger living in the Moroccan enclave? And what will become of Marion, that unfortunate woman who is hopelessly in love with Harry? I'm craving answers, Mr. Bradley, and more stories of these four friends I've watched grow from boys to men.

Field Notes
Robert King
Bellowing Ark Press
P.O. Box 55564, Shoreline WA 98155
ISBN: 0944920535, $12.00, 91 pp.

Occasionally, I find a poetry book difficult to review because so much of the poet's heart and spirit is revealed. At such times, I read and re-read, backtrack and skip ahead in search of truths found in one word, line, or verse. Mr. King "sits at truth's edge" observing and recording what he calls "the ever-grinding hum of our universe." Readers visit the natural world through King's eyes, walk beside him as he seeks the essence of his mistakes, and share the triumphs and losses. These eight narrative poems about places, family relationships, friendship, regrets, nature, and the world are exceptionally rich with details of life as he lived it.

In "New Shoes," a young boy ruins his leather shoes traipsing through soggy ground in search of a tree frog. This brief excerpt demonstrates the curiosity and delight found throughout the poem:

….He'd grown certain the frog was calling out to him, the boy stomping
So vibrantly across the ground. Why else would a frog sing so late
In the season and, of all places, in the middle of town? Reawakened
From his musing by the song's clarity, he rustled ahead through dried
And toppled grasses. Opening arcing branches like a curtain of beads,
He stepped into a canopy of dank smells and darkness.

Two teenage friends exploring nature on a summer day is the subject of "Logos:"

We aimed for a rocky draw creased between hillsides
Rising from the valley where the wash of fertile soil
And a concentration of moisture favored a grove
Of mixed brush and trees that would provide a spot
Of shade, and more importantly, as thirsty as we felt,
We knew a voluntary cherry tree hung with its last
Fruit. Black-billed Magpies strutted, pecked and jeered
>From the rocky ground and from branches all around.
Golden Mantled Squirrels caused a considerable snit.
Gnats hovered overhead. Yellow jackets zoomed
In the aromatic air. Flies, sticky with nectar,
Swarmed from every branch we shook to loosen
The sweet fruit….

"Remembering Argentina" is a lyrical reminiscence of time spent observing a fascinating country and its people:

As the sun sets, bright and gleaming hummingbirds hover,
Buzz, and zip away. A sulfur-bellied fly catcher dives
For a snack. The gardener, raking at the edge of shade,
Tends grape, mimosa, anise, calla lilies and jasmine
While, in the cool of dusk, squash and tomato vines
Compost in a heap. As though he'd gulped tannin
Wine that few would pronounce drinkable, he swallows
Hard. Tilling the minutes of a chilly season into furrows,
He'll work until it becomes the time to take the shape
Ground gives, that day he'll move in pace with the soil,
Though not before leaving his image, hung like a gargoyle,
In thoughts I've dreamed, mulled, enjoyed and escaped.

"Birds and Fish" is King's longest narrative poem, the detailed recollection of a year spent with his Zoophysiologist father studying the flora and fauna in Argentina. This poem is 24 pages long, an enticing tale of discovery, adventure, and enlightenment that lives in the poet's mind today:

…The wide eye of memory stares until I blink. Both domesticated
And wild imagery shimmer in my thoughts, winging like birds in the sky
Everywhere, anywhere, yet to land…..

There is no doubt that man has disrupted Nature's order, and yet King offers hope. His poetry is a rich blending of our world's natural wonders and simple beauties, simmered with human frailties, joys, and despairs into a fine, satisfying broth. This book is highly recommended.

The Hawk's Frequency
Teresa Noelle Roberts
Bellowing Ark Press
P.O. Box 55564, Shoreline WA 98155
ISBN: 0944920527, $12.00, 71 pp.

In quiet times I often wonder why more female poets don't receive international recognition. Teresa Noelle Roberts is a prime example of my solitary questioning. Her poetry has a primal simplicity, with human thoughts and longings blended so inextricably with earth, sky, place, and season that they become one and the same. Consider, for example, her visit to Greece in "Unraveling in Arcadia:"

I'd always imagined Arcadia as lush,
With grapes, spreading trees, shaded pools.
The truth was less pretty and more awesome –
Wild land with its bare bones showing,
Fitting habitation for a horned god. Light on rock
And the distant Gulf of Corinth fishscaled silver –
That which endures even when we forget
The myths, the names of ancient deities.

In "Banshee Sight," Roberts assumes the persona of a 19th century woman who sees ghosts in living faces. Era, hope, and resignation are palpable as a light-hearted suitor asks her hand in marriage, despite her precognition of his death:

I tried to explain, that day, how it is with me,
How I have a banshee in me who sees death everywhere,
How I can scarcely speak sometimes for seeing
Someone's mortal hour written so plain on their living face.
He laughed, of course, and said I was a goose…

This poet's contemplations on love and desire raised goose bumps as I read. In "Atoms," desire is a universal force that never dies:

Our charged atoms will travel space, seeking
A place where we can re-form together –
As roses, as starlings, as odd,
Many-colored creatures, lovers
That Earth never dreamed.

And in these two excerpts from "Credo" the poet explains her philosophy of living in this plane of existence:

I ask for little from the divine
Except light and shade, the flickering
Of breath and fire, heat
And confusion of lust, cycles of seasons…

I tell you this: If someone proved conclusively
That there were no Goddess, no God, no order to the universe,
I would go on singing just as loudly,
Adding my voice to the chorus of blood-music and bird-song.

This book is aptly named because Ms. Roberts rides the thermals of life on a hawk's frequency, soaring and singing into the winds. The wild energy of her words reminds us that we "share the earth…with predators and ancient spirits." She's made her indelible mark by poetically "blazing vermillion" as hardwood trees have in season for countless aeons. As she says in "Pagan:"

I will do my part to add
In any way possible
To the world's tough splendor.

That goal has been accomplished beautifully; each poem in this book is a standout. Teresa Noelle Roberts' work is highly recommended.

Catch a Butterfly
Herbert Mandel
Shadow Ink Publications
1209 Milwaukee Street, Excelsior Springs MO 64024
ISBN: 1932447601, $8.95, 35 page chapbook

Herbert Mandel is a wordsmith and visual artist. He calls the full color art in this chapbook "Spiroleander Illustrations." These colorful creations are a mosaic of everyday moments that enhance his poetry, words and color that work together to alternately soothe and excite. Mandel's work in both mediums embraces movement. For example, in "The Apprentice" the reader's appreciation of the poem is enhanced by the accompanying illustration titled "The Welder:"

I watched the metal-burning apprentice
in leather gauntlets and protective sleeves.

Amber sparkles spattered against his
blue-gray shield.
Molten metal flowed in a blue-white bead
joining steel to steel
A carpet of golden embers sprayed to
my feet.

He raised his hood and studied the seam
chipped at the slag with a rhythmic clang
then brushed the weld to a silvery sheen,
he caught my eye
and grinned.

This excerpt from "Looking-Glass Pond" clearly demonstrates how Mandel creates. Words become colors, colors become visions, both given life on paper:

I gazed into a looking-glass pond
mirroring shadowy remnants of Nature's
autumn blossom,
an umber spectrum of her fading blooms
in the soft liquid ripple of warm ochre
and slate blue.

"Catch a Butterfly" is the title poem. This excerpt communicates the breathless wonder of one small moment typical of Mandel's sensitivity as poet and artist:

Catch a butterfly by its wings
feel the fearful tremor it brings
the agony it transmits
through fingertips.

In my experience, this work by Herbert Mandel, beautifully reproduced by the publisher, is unique among chapbooks. Mandel pulls from his subconscious these exceptional fragments of life and joyously shares them with readers. His modernistic Spiroleander Illustrations enhance his poetry, and both are pleasing to the eye and spirit.

Messenger of Truth: A Maisie Dobbs Novel
Jacqueline Winspear
Henry Holt & Company
175 5th Avenue, New York NY 10010
ISBN: 0805078983, $24.00, 336 pp.

Like the preceding Maisie Dobbs novels, Jacqueline Winspear has a winner in Messenger of Truth. Maisie is an intelligent and charismatic heroine, as is the prose that gives her life.

England is between wars as this latest novel begins. Maisie has recuperated from the traumas of World War One and a subsequent breakdown. Rumors and rumblings coming out of Europe are troubling, but England has more pressing problems to consider than that upstart Hitler. Classism is crumbling. Adequate housing, food, and health care is still out of reach for low-income families. Maisie witnesses such struggles first hand as her assistant Billy Beale labors to feed, clothe, and shelter his extended family. Billy is her solid and reliable right hand in their investigations so Maisie is troubled by his cynical attitude when Georgina Bassington-Hope seeks their services.

Georgina is a renowned journalist who gained recognition during the war, the youngest daughter of a privileged family. She does not believe her twin brother Nick was killed accidentally in a fall from scaffolding while preparing for his latest art show at Mayfair Gallery. She believes he was murdered for reasons she hopes Maisie can uncover. But who would want the brave war hero and accomplished artist dead?

Step by step, Maisie and Billy investigate each small clue. Nick's war buddies and fellow artists have been distancing themselves from him for some time, or vice versa. The Mayfair Gallery owner has not been totally forthcoming about the night of Nick's death. A wealthy American art patron is not what he seems on his charming surface. A visit to the family mansion reveals strained family relationships and an odd household. Older sister Nolly Bassington-Hope is the businesslike widow of a man killed in the war. Youngest brother Harry is a musician who gambles and has fallen in with a dangerous crowd. Even Georgina withholds important information vital to the investigation. But Maisie's dogged determination and well-honed perceptions serve her well. The solution to Nick's death, when the answer comes, is shocking and unexpected. It's up to Maisie Dobbs to deliver the truth.

Any book Ms. Winspear writes is more than a mystery. Readers are blessed with well-written prose, fascinating characters, and a plot constructed so effectively as to lend reality to each story. We also experience the society and times in which Maisie lives and works. The author takes her readers to post-World War One England, allows us to walk in Maisie's shoes and see with her eyes. Winspear has a gift and deserves whatever awards and acclaim she receives.

Sinner's Song
Nancy Mehl
Treble Heart Books
1284 Overlook Drive, Sierra Vista AZ 85635-5512
ISBN: 1932695354, $13.50, 270 pp.

The release of a new Nancy Mehl mystery-suspense novel is always a time of delicious anticipation for me because I know those shivers and raised-hairs-on-the-back-of-my- neck reading experiences are in store. Ms. Mehl writes about her hometown – Wichita KS – creating memorable characters and plots by utilizing an amalgam of real people and locations. Her books are suspenseful, yes, and sometimes downright scary, but the milk of human kindness runs throughout each novel. Sinner's Song is no exception.

Memrie Austin is a shy administrative assistant employed by Andrew's House in Wichita, founded by Anson and Emma Harper in their dead son's name. Like every Social Services organization, Andrew's House struggles financially to keep its doors open and to assist the endless stream of unfortunate homeless people needing their help. In the midst of funding difficulties, the staff of Andrew's House faces a troubling complication. Someone is murdering their homeless clients. Readers meet this unknown killer early on, a self-appointed "deliverer" of street people. Before each "deliverance," one question is asked: "If you died tonight, do you know where you'd go?"

Memrie is a woman of great compassion and a soft heart. Despite warnings from co- workers, she takes in an abused street urchin named Micki. Reese Duncan, Memrie's supervisor, and Ben Robinson, Financial Director of Andrew's House, admire the shy redhead from a distance. She's oblivious to male admirers, and wary of men in general. Even the rugged manager of the Downtown Rescue Mission, Jake Coltrain, sets her nerves on edge despite his tireless, selfless humanitarian efforts. Jake feeds one hot meal a day to Wichita's homeless. He ends his sermon before each meal by saying, "If you died tonight, do you know where you'd go?"

Who is the killer? Memrie suspects Jake, or some other Social Services insider. First Micki is attacked, then both their lives are threatened. Who would want them dead, and why? I won't give away any more of the plot. You'll have to read Sinner's Song to find out who the killer is. If you like mystery-suspense chillers, Nancy Mehl is an author you need to discover. Her books are highly recommended.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

In the Shadow of the Bear Lodge
An Anthology by Bearlodge Writers
Many Kites Press
3907 Minnekahta Dr., Rapid City, SD 57702
0972900284 $15.00 197 pages 1-800-486-8940

"In the Shadow of the Bear Lodge: Writings from the Black Hills" is a wonderful collection of samplings of literature created by the writers of the Bearlodge, in the Black Hills. this regional anthology offers a collection of essays, poetry, nonfiction and fiction by such writers as Amanda and Maureen Helms Blake, James and Jytte Bowers, Renee Carrier, Elizabeth Canfield, Gene Gade, Page Lambert, Merle Lossing, Carol Panerio, Shelly Ritthaler, David E. Wagner and Mary Jean Wilson and others. The ranks of the Bearlodge writers embrace both the known and the unknown. All share an experience of living in the shadow of the Devils Tower and the Bear Lodge Mountains. It is a unique and scenic area, full of holy significance to many traditions and cultures. In some of the fragments of poems and stories are reflected or embedded essences of the potentially healing awareness of the area. Sifting through its many fine offerings, a poem entitled 'Thoughts in the Visitor Center of Devils Tower National Monument' by Trent Redfield impacts the reader's awareness with bell-like clarity:

I long to dwell again in the places of my imagination,
to scale the creative heights
of this monumental wonder.
I want the thrill and awe of Devils Tower
to flow through my pen,
to score paper with ballpoint
leave marks as distinct as the grizzly bear's claws
made on the rock. (p. 162)

More readings from "In the Shadow of the Bear Lodge" will help transport the reader to a still, renewing, and deeply personal inner space.

A Brave New Quest: 100 Modern Turkish Poems
Talat S. Halman, Editor and Translator
Jayne L. Warner, Associate Editor
Syracuse University Press
1600 Jamesville Avenue, Syracuse, NY 13210
0815608403 $19.95 112 pages 1-800-365-8929

"A Brave New Quest: 100 Modern Turkish Poems" is a beautiful, rare jewel. Illuminate by a sapphire blue with white, flame and peacock cover photographed detail from Iznik tile in the Rutwem Pasha Mosque, in Istanbul, this is the only anthology of modern Turkish poetry translated into English. Coming from a nation where virtually everyone is a poet, the anthology contains a vibrant, varied and sophisticated sampling of modern Turkish poetry. Here you will find poems about fear, death, love, nature, change, bewilderment of the senses, transfiguration, cruelty and social injustice, pain, hope, laughter, tears, joy and despair, and above all passionate longing. Poets whose work are included in this translation include Nazim Hikmet, Fazil Husnu Daglarca,Orhan Veli Kanik, Behdet Necatigil, Attila Ilhan, Melih Cevdet Anday, Edip Cansever, Ece Ayhan, Kemal Ozer, Ulku Tamer, and so many more. Each poetic work is selected and translated with loving care for the fine imagery, the lyrical syllables even in English. Editor Talat S. Halman has many starry credentials to explain the fine workmanship in "A Brave New Quest." Besides being a leading translator of Turkish literature and many books about modern Turkish playwrights and poets, he is an award winning avatar for Turkish culture and literature. Besides translating major works of English into Turkish and vice versa, he is an accomplished playwright, poet, and writer. Awards he has received include Columbia University's Thornton Wilder Translation Prize, the 1999 Service Award from the Turkish Academy of Sciences for enhancing the recognition of Turkish literature, and the Distinguished Service Award from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2000. His offering in "A Brave New Quest" seems equivalent to a prism that allows the rainbow of beauty and complexity of modern Turkish poetry to sing, quietly, to an English speaking audience. It is very difficult to select a quotation from such a fine collection, but here is one choice from a poem called (untitled) by Nazim Hikmet:

Let us give the world to the children at least for one day
Let them play with it as if it's a spangled balloon
Let them sing and dance among the stars

Let us give the world to the children
Like a huge apple or a warm loaf of bread
at least for one day
so that they'll have enough to eat

Let us give the world to the children
so that even if it's for one day
it will learn what friendship is

The children will take the world
out of our hands
and they will plant immortal trees. (p. 20)

Here is yet another fragment, the sixth definition of poetry from fifteen in a from a poem entitled "Responses for Poetry" by Ulku Tamer:
Poetry is the drinking bucket's fountain
the well's traveler.

It is the guard at the source (p. 160).

"A Brave New Quest: 100 Modern Turkish Poems" will enthrall, entice, and enlighten its lucky readers. May its copies fly off the shelves into the hands of those who truly appreciate what poetry has to offer.

A Boy From Lawrence: The Collected Writings of Eugene F. Connolly
Sally A. Connolly, editor
TypeStyles Desktop Publishing Services
c/o Edwards Brothers Inc.
PO Box 1007, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106-1007 (978) 774-8158
0977265315 $19.95 205 pages

"A Boy From Lawrence" is a labor of love, containing the collected personal writings of former Professor Eugene Connolly, edited by his wife, Sally Connolly. "A Boy From Lawrence" is more than a collection of inspirational writings, poems , and quotations, it is the story of a soul's journey to God, in very humble language. The gentle narrative illumines the life and ways of a most remarkable man, of tangible goodness. Acceptance of loss, with a surety of grace, the theme of many pages is perhaps the ever present goodness of God. One of the most moving chapters is part of a section called "Let Evening Come," named after a poem by Jane Kenyon, who also died of cancer, like Eugene Connolly. Because it speaks to the heart, and because it was evidently important to Connolly, here is a part of it:

Let the light of late afternoon
shine though chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to aid in the lung,
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don't
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come. (page 113)

"A Boy From Lawrence" is filled with such treasures. It is a very uplifting meditation book, recommended for those in need of comfort, illumination, redirection, grace, or prayer.

Don't Forget the Details
Linda Bairstow
Verity Publishing
PO Box 1975, Tijeras, NM 87059
0977698203 $17.95 149 pages

"Don't Forget the Details: Poetry & Poetic Essays" is a reflective, deeply personal collection of poems and thought-filled essays, some of them presenting quite personal portraits. The poems are lovely, the poetic essays are sometimes vivid and painful, but the bonus selection, 'Celestial Faire, A Multi Media Extravaganza Featuring Welkin Dancers, Musicians, the Poet, Airaina, Animal Shindigs, and the Master of the Universe,' definitely, totally takes the cake. Each voice part is presented in a differing character-descriptive type. A fascinating dialogue between the Poet and the Master of the Universe is interrupted by Airaina, a dancing fairy-like being who suffers from maternal rejection and a displaced reality awareness. A great Debate and Debacle ensue, ending with tinkles of fairy dust, perhaps a hint of laughter. It is absolutely priceless. It is safe to conclude that no poet around Ms. Bairstow dare take him or herself too seriously. One poem, titled 'Ephemerality,' has been chosen to perhaps illustrate a bit of the Emily-Dickinson like charm that flashes now and then through Ms. Bairstow's poems:

One day you're here. One day you're gone.
Glory clear
That lingers on.

Glory clear
That's passing on.
The end.

There is much more to "Don't Forget the Details" than meets the mind's eye. What meets the reader is breathtakingly charming and engagingly beautiful. This is a literary volume of poetry and prose to be read , savored, and enjoyed.

What You Hear in the Dark
Sonia Gernes
University of Notre Dame Press
310 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556 USA (574) 631-6346
0268029687 $20.00 176 pages

"What You Hear in the Dark: New and Selected Poems" includes selections of the best of three previously published books of poetry by Sonia Gernes, including her book, "A Breeze Called the Fremantle Doctor: Poems/Tales," published in 1997. There are three sections of new poems in addition to reprised selected poems from 'Brief Lives' and 'Women at Forty' and selections from 'A Breeze Called the Fremantle Doctor.' Gernes is inimitable in her art which has been called "The telling of tales with grace and wit" through poetry. Her poetry helps the reader experience the eternal and the universal by delving into the personal, minutiae reconsidered leading to an experience of the divine. Deeply searching, fresh and shot through with light and images, here are poems to light your soul's unquiet journey. A quotation has been selected from 10. Pipestone:

Indian Joe in his quarry hut /told me this. He carves/ paperweights, arrowheads,/ the little pipe I'm sending you./ Pipestone is part of our flesh,/ he said, red men a part of this stone/ Then, why do you sell it? I said,/ looking off toward the quarry shelf./ This is a place of peace, he said,/ war clubs are buried, angers gone./ The seventh direction is self,/ he said. When you white men pray,/ does it come from breath -/ does it come from bone?

"What You Hear in the Dark" is a masterful collection of songs, of singing words, of pictures, of ideas, of poetry. It will lead you to wondrous places.

Light Filling My Bones: Poems
Dorothy B. Anderson
cut-paper illustrations by Donna Bruhl
Hobblebush Books
17-A Old Milford Road, Brookline, New Hampshire 03033 (603) 672-4317
0976089645 $17.00 96 pages

"Light Filling My Bones" is a beautiful collection of poems telling of author Dorothy Anderson's childhood experiences in China and her eventual journey to the United States in 1948. Each of the five sections of "Light Billing My Bones" in enhanced by a lovely , full color, cut paper art work by Donna Bruhl. The somber but bright illustrations somehow capture the atmosphere of mystical joy, sadness, and overall acceptance of the duality of life that is so prevalent in the poems. They are also further illuminated by the Notes on the Illustrations given so kindly at the end (page 79). To capture the graceful essence of an experience is at the heart of these, and perhaps all poems. A few lines from "Mechanic Arts High School 1950" are a demonstration:

Our English teacher, in front of the class,
book in one hand,
waved the other as she
recited Shakespeare in a deep voice.
Humid August, jammed desks,
as my fellow classmates stretched, yawned,
she strode and turned full face -
a teacher actor -
Words like jewels fell out of a velvet sack
onto the classroom floor....

I don't remember her name -
but she set a torch to dry words,
painted speaking in iridescent blues,
greens, reds and gold. (p.8)

"Light Filling My Bones " is a beautiful tribute to a complex life that deserves to be remembered and shared, lovingly.

Nancy Lorraine

Mary's Bookshelf

From Battle Scars To Beauty Marks
Ellie Lofaro
Life Journey
c/o Cook Communications Ministries
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
0781441692 $12.99 1-800-323-7543

Author and evangelical Christian Ellie Lofaro employs her skills and expertise as a Bible teacher to instruct women how they can eventually triumph over even the most heart-wrenching of circumstances in "From Battle Scars To Beauty Marks: Portraits Of Women Who Turned Trials Into Triumphs". This compendium of inspired and inspiring real life stories of women who turned their vicissitudes into victories with the help of God and their faith wonderfully illustrate how all things work for the good of them that love God, and through God's help, even the most tragic of circumstances can produce grace and beauty into our lives. Also very highly recommended reading for Christian women are two other titles from Cook Communication Ministries: Leslie Montgomery's "Engaging The Enemy: A Woman's Guide To Spiritual Warfare" (Victor Books, 0830735186,$12.99) and Cheryl Kirking's "Crayon's In The Dryer: Misadventures And Unexpected Blessings Of Motherhood" (Life Journey, 0781441765, $12.99).

Making Sense Of The Bible
H. H. Drake Williams III
Kregel Publications
PO Box 2607, Grand Rapids, MI 49501
0825441072 $13.99 1-800-733-2607

Making Sense Of The Bible: A Study Of 10 Key Themes Traced Through The Scriptures by H. H. Drake Williams III (Assistant Professor of Greek Studies -- First and Second Centuries A.D. -- and Related topics, Tyndale Theological Seminary, Amsterdam, The Netherlands) is an informed and informative bible-based study of ten key themes traced through the scriptures: Creation, Covenant, Idolatry, The Messiah, Law, Salvation, Kingdom, The Holy Spirit, The People of God, and Prophecy and Fulfillment. Written in language accessible to lay readers, Making Sense Of The Bible describes at length the context of sacred verses and psalms, and their modern relevance. Extensive endnotes and a handful of black-and-white photographs round out this excellent introduction to biblical studies for committed Christians.

Mary Cowper

Shelley's Bookshelf

The Maltese Murders
Jerry Labriola
Welcome Rain Publishers
532 LaGuardia Place, Suite 473, New York, NY 10012
ISBN: 1566492971, $24.95

Dr. Jerry Labriola brings extensive medical experience to his writing, having practiced medicine for over 30 years. He was also an Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut Medical School and was Chief of Staff at Waterbury General. He has coauthored a crime book and is involved in several mystery writers' groups. He lectures and conducts workshops on forensic science and true crime.

There is, apparently, no rest for Dr. David Brooks. David can't seem to even take a vacation with his fiancé, Detective Kathy Dupre, without finding a dead body and being chased by the bad guys. But this time the action begins with the kidnaping of a baby, who happens to be related to Kater Weld, scientist and Associate Director of Brent Institute of Technology. Kater is the next victim, although the baby is returned. Threatening notes and more murders ensue, all connected to the planned Interpol-sponsored summit in Malta, where a revolutionary inhaler touted as the next anti-terror tool, is supposed to be introduced. Each scientist involved with the formula is killed, and Dr. David's job is to uncover the plot and the culprits:

"At his computer, David continued the review he'd begun on the drive home: the puzzle of criminal elements seeking him out on a vacation in Venice. Was his life an open book to some people? The validity of Hendley's remarks. The necessity for another series of interrogations. Whom to include? Whom to leave out? Should he try to find Saltanban? Shades? But, as in the case of his most recent investigations, he return to a dominant theme, one with its own set of queries: Would his personal mettle be up to the test again?"

Labriola casts Dr. David Brooks as sort of a medical Sam Spade. Brooks is a big guy with a rare intellect; the savvy of a street fighter; and just the right amount of sensitivity to be a ladies man with his love, the delectable Detective Dupre. For her part, Detective Dupre is both hard-boiled and soft in all the right places, making their romance flashy and warm. David also has a sidekick, Musco the cabby, and Musco's devotion to David is only topped by David's high regard for Musco's talents and his self-deprecating insight that he is Musco's role model. All in all, Dr. Labriola writes with a high plot, attention to detail, and insight into criminality.

Mysterious Valley
J. McGrath
P.O. Box 2141, Davis, CA 95617
ISBN: 0971607230, $9.95

John McGrath is a self-styled writer and publisher, and MYSTERIOUS VALLEY is his second Maggie Goss mystery. MURDER AT SUNSET was published in 2001, and so far Mr. McGrath has interested some major reviewers in his works.

Maggie Goss is coming off of a major trauma in Belhaven, Maggie Goss and her dear friend, Helen Washington, decide to relocate in the more reasonably priced Davis, California. Maggie has taken up flying lessons, and when she performs a simulated "engine-out emergency" at her instructor's request, she notices a powerful green beam of light coming from an old airfield called "Mysterious Valley." Maggie has an insatiable curiosity, and she enlists the aid of Dr. Charles Hoppmann in the Cyberkinetics lab in the Physics department at UC-Davis. Hoppmann builds Maggie a detector, and almost immediately a group of Asian terrorists begin taking an uncanny interest in their activities:

"After Chuck and Helen went into the restaurant, a man with Asian features, wearing dark glasses and a leather sport coat got out of a vehicle from a parking place across and behind where Chuck's SUV was parked. There was no one in the parking lot. He walked purposefully up to the driver's side door of the SUV and tried the door latch. To his surprise it opened. He pushed the long door-latch jimmying tool back into his inside coat pocket; closed the door, and proceeded to the tailgate."

J. McGrath is knowledgeable about all kinds of subjects, whether it is flying aircraft; the military; guns; and the Napa Valley. McGrath does a great job of enlarging the character of Maggie Goss, who has become more confident, skilled, and assertive in this story. Maggie has friends in high places, and what she discovers places her at the highest echelon of government as an F.B.I. operative. McGrath places Maggie in the middle of a nasty coup attempt and gives her no slack. She has to prove herself and does just that with distinction. McGrath's plot is jammed packed; his characters are well wrought; and the backdrop is stunning. MYSTERIOUS VALLEY is a fun and riveting read that is just right for the beach!

Duty Free Murder
Lori Sandys Lapierre
ISBN: 1597815098, $19.99

Lori Sandys Lapierre is a young, earnest Christian author from Columbus Ohio who incorporates her religious beliefs into everything she does. She has a degree from the University of Toledo in Public Relations and is happily married with four cats.

Elsa Michaels Mercy and her husband, Ran, are on their first cruise. It doesn't take long for Elsa to be recognized as a new best-selling author, even as they are forced into eating at a table with the most unpleasant dining companions imaginable. There is definitely something strange going on with the cruise line; and when Elsa and Ron are invited to a captain's party, they find that the ship's security team is requesting their help. Elsa tries to demur, but she is repeatedly attacked as the plot thickens:

"He ignored me. 'So what's the real reason you didn't sit with us last night?' he demanded. I believed he was trying to sound menacing, but his words came out in a rather whiny tone. However, he took a step closer to me, which I didn't care for. I inched back, not pleased to have him in my face. My back was now against the wall."

Lapierre's love of travel is apparent in this thorough travelogue/murder mystery. Lori lovingly describes every step of a cruise to the Caribbean, as well as the food and spirit of "spoiling the passengers rotten" that abound on cruise ships. Her characters and descriptions are vivid and entertaining, although Lapierre vigorously voices her preferences in traits she considers pleasing. The murder doesn't actually take place until later in the book, as Lapierre takes her time setting the pace and the background for the first corpse to appear. But if the reader is patient, she more than makes up for her style in an exciting climax and denouement that does not disappoint. DUTY FREE MURDER is an entertaining glimpse at the high life, and anyone who has taken this cruise will not look at Dunns River Falls in Jamaica quite the same way. An excellent beach read or just a lazy good time for a rainy day!

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Master Plan
Trina Leigh
Rosedog Books
701 Smithfield Street, Third floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
ISBN: 0805995056, $15.00, 121 pp.

It is a sad truth that many harbor hidden secrets of traumatic occurrences in their hearts; secrets that challenge their ability to lead a productive and fruitful life, so what is the answer, is there any hope? In this work by author Trina Leigh we are led through her own struggles, hurts, betrayals and the deep seeded pain from her life experiences and her journey of healing. Her words are honest, heart-felt and touch a core within the reader that will long be remember, but she does not stop there. Ms. Leigh shares her walk of redemption as she finds solace, forgiveness and hope in God. I am certain that many will relate to her story and will find encouragement in her triumph as she shares her story of overcoming immense hurdles and emerging victorious.

Old Money
David Walks-As-Bear
The Wildland Press
PO Box 691, Na'alehu, HI 96772
ISBN: 978-1411681729, $14.95, 405 pp.

I wonder how I can begin to describe this outstanding novel by David-Walks-As-Bear. Inside the covers of this book you will find Tribal Officer Ely Stone, a man with a heart of gold and a life of mystery and adventure, one that is about to embark on another spiritual journey to right the wrongs of the past. Ely is on another case and you can be sure despite his regrets his ancestors are making known to him by dreams and visions that something must be corrected. We find Ely's true love Nettie still at arms length and are introduced to some new found women friends who add just the right amount of spice to this work.

What does old money have to do with anything? Mark Twain seems to have left a famous writing which may well hold the secret to a fortune and lives will be lost and changed forever as the race is on to make sense of the mystery. Traveling with Ely in his mind we are privy to information that is revealed to him in dreams and vision as Ely struggles to make sense of the picture show that plays within him. We are taken from the past to the present, introduced to men of old who played a pivoted part in the present day affairs and we are favored to meet new characters with interesting personalities and see again those from previous works whom we have come to enjoy. Let me say this, as with all of David's books this one is no slacker.

It is full of history, mystery, mysticism, adventure, romance and has a just plain down-right great storyline that keeps you glued to the pages from chapter to chapter. This book is well worth your time, a top-of-the-notch read that will entertain you in every area a good book should. Highly recommended.

Why Am I?
Victor James Owner
H.J. Grimes, illustrator
Synergy Books
2100 Kramer Ln. Suite 300, Austin, TX 78758
ISBN: 0976498189, $14.95, 35 pages

Little Star has a question that he asks his friend Mr. Breeze, "Why Am I?" but his friend did not know and Little Star is very, very upset. Can anyone help him to find out his purpose? In this delightful tale author Victor Owner takes the reader on a journey from frustration of not knowing one's purpose to joy of finally understanding their place on earth. This work will help children to realize everything on earth has a place and a purpose. The storyline is creative and the illustrations are light, colorful and attention grabbing bringing the story to life in a whimsical way. This is a great read, one with a valuable lesson that is wrapped in a bubble of childhood fantasy. Recommended.

Slow Dancing at Death's Door
Amy C. Baker
Cook Communications Ministries
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
ISBN: 0781442621, $13.99, 253 pp.

Author Amy C. Baker has touched upon a cord in her new work, "Slow Dancing At Death's Door." This work is in a way a journal of her experience in dealing with the life and death of her parents. Now wait, yes it is an emotional read, but one that is done with such honesty and heart-felt compassion and understanding that all of us who are facing the same dilemma will breath a sigh of relief as we devour each morsel of this writing. Our author shares some of her parents lives with us, their personality,their good and some of their bad traits and her relationship with them. She takes us on some rides down memory lane and brings us to the point of their departure into eternity.

In this work we learn about such things as, "Living Wills," "Medical Power of Attorney," and "Hospice," to name a few. Listen, if you have aging parents you are either going to deal with these issues now or later, and later is not a good idea. I know for those of us who have aging parents this is an issue we would much rather sweep under the rug, but guess what? It's going to come seeping out and there isn't a thing in this world you can do to stop it.

I loved this book because the writing was honest and held invaluable information that is needed, yet it was laced with strong faith in a God who will strengthen us and be with us. A realization that in life there is death in death there is eternity and it is a road we are all traveling. This work will help you to help those who are passing through the door to have a much happier departure and you to have a much less stressful goodbye. I cannot recommend this highly enough for all those who have aging parents. the encouragement, advice and strength you will obtain from this book is irreplaceable. A must have!

Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?
Harold Bloom
Riverhead Trade
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY
ISBN:1594481385, $15.00, 320 pp.

I am just a simple person. I read and review works by many authors; some are poets, some mystery writers, horror or adventure, and yes even some that probe my intellect. When I am confronted with a book such as Mr.Blooms at times perhaps it is overwhelming to me. I am not sure what he hoped the reader would take away after this read. He definitely is a man with an opinion, has great intelligence and writes with passion. In this work, sharing where wisdom maybe found, our author quotes many noble men, written works, even the Word of God. I cannot say I agree with his words, for to me wisdom is found in God,and only God, but then again I am not a Scholar, just a simple reader. I believe those who are looking for deep reading, and a thought provoking work this one is for you. It will definitely challenge you and stimulate your thought process.

Norman Messenger
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Avenue, MA 021400
ISBN: 0763627577, $17.99, 32 pp.

"Imagine," is one of the most outstanding children's books I have had the privilege to review this year. Inside the covers of this book, children will be able to interact as they imagine many different scenario's, for example; what different animals would look like with other animal heads or bottoms, and they will giggle up a storm as they give it a try.That is just the beginning of the fun as this read explodes into countless imagining for your child. The illustrations are priceless and add flare to a book that is already top of the notch. Parents, do not miss this one. Your children will be absolutely delighted with this book and it will give them hours of entertainment as their imagination is let loose. I give it my highest recommendation.

Ammey McKeaf
Jane Shoup
Lethal Publishing Corporation
PO Box 1057, Kalkaska, MI 49646
ISBN:1597870064, $5.99, 313 pp.

In this outstanding read we are taken to a land of beauty, yet cloaked in terror. We meet a beautiful young woman named Ammey McKeaf, daughter of a respected family, a brave yet tenderhearted young woman. Life was good until the evil Marko Corin of Bellux-Abry decides to control the country and uses a pack of evil men to do it. These men, known as wolf packs, travel the country bringing death in every hideous form. They are feared by all but must be stopped.

When Ammey's best friend is raped and killed her family fears for her safety and sends her off for protection, but she never makes it to her sanctuary, but instead enters into her destiny. The author tells the story in this first segment of this chronicle through the life of Ammey McKeaf, those she touches and her influence on the future of her homeland. This work is full of passion, adventure, romance, greed, hate, supernatural characters and every element that will stir your inner-man to sit up and take notice. Those you at first hated you all at once feel compassion for, your emotions tumble and roll and your heart races at the elements thrown at you. The author connects you to the characters, the land, the essence of life they have and will have and you lose yourself in their world, hungry to know which way it will twist and where it will land. Good job! I have to say I'm hooked and will simply have to have each segment as it is available; I must know what becomes of the people and the land, Azulland. What will you endure and where are you now? Top notch job; highly recommended.

William T. Hathaway
Lobster Press, Ltd.
1620 Sherbrooke Street West
Suites C & D, Montreal, QC H3H 1C9 Canada
ISBN: 1897073291, $8.95, 144 pp.

In this outstanding work by author William T. Hathaway we meet a young man named Gabriel Estrada. Gabriel has more than his share of problems, growing up for him is beyond difficult. He hates high school, where he lives and is deeply depressed when he has to appear at his part-time job. However Gabriel ,if nothing else, loves his family and remembers the promise he gave his father to watch after them just before he died, but Gabriel is not sure how proud his father would be of him now.

The one joy Gabriel has is his band, Rip chord, but when the entire future of it is threatened because of lack of money Gabriel is thrust into a get rich scheme that will endanger not only his life but the lives of the few people that he truly holds dear. As Gabriel realizes that quick money does not come without a price; he finds out what true friendship is, what honesty means, and what is truly important in life.And perhaps what matters the most is that Gabriel finally realizes what he himself is made of and that alone will make a difference in him for the rest of his life. CD-Ring will draw you in from the first page and hold you captive until the last. Fast paced, page turning read, active and descriptive characters, bold and thought provoking storyline, with a knock-out conclusion, this work has it all. Very highly recommended.

The Mentoring Mom
Jackie Kendall
New Hope Publishing
PO Box 2065, Birmingham, AL 35202
ISBN 1596690054, $12.99, 271 pp.

In this work by author Jackie Kendall we are gently guided to improve the most important job of our lives, being a mom. The author encourages all mothers to open their hearts to be mentored by God who in turn will give to them inward wisdom to help them mentor their young, and I believe it works. Ms. Kendall gives us 11 principals to guide us, and as the author explains, as we use these principals we are 'stamping healthy imprints' on our children as they grow. Her words are, "children learn best by examples." Certainly a truth we all need to remember. Her principals are Scriptural and wise.

A few examples of her 11 principals are: The Stamp of Teachability; The Stamp of Passion in our Daily Lives, and my favorite, The Stamp of Perseverance." Carefully she takes her time to explain the meaning of each, their importance in you and your children's lives and how you may implement them to help you and your child. In her explanation of these we find wonderful stories, examples and Scripture. If you hunger to make a positive impression on your children, leave them a lasting legacy they will carry with them all their lives; this work is for you. Well written, informative and enjoyable.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

'This Holy Man'
Gillian Crow
St. Vladimir's Seminary Press
575 Scarsdale Road, Crestwood, NY 10707-1699
0881413038 $17.95 1-800-204-2665

'This Holy Man': Impressions Of Metropolitan Anthony by Gillian Crow (an Orthodox writer and the Diocesan Secretary the Russian Patriarchal Diocese of Sourozh, Great Britain) is the true story of churchman, spiritual writer, and leader of the Russian Orthodox Church in Britain, Metropolitan Anthony (1916-2003). From his early childhood, to conversion, to his life's work and dedication in spreading his religious message, This Holy Man follows Anthony's experience through war, reconstruction, and dramatically changing times. This Holy Man balances its portrayal of Anthony's charisma, faith, and kindness with a sober look at his own personal demons of shyness, insecurity, and depression. A handful of inset black-and-white photographs illustrate this respectful biography of a true believer.

Good Hearts
Suellen Hoy
University of Illinois Press
1325 S. Oak Street, Champaing, IL 61820
0252073010 $22.00

Good Hearts: Catholic Sisters In Chicago's Past by Suellen Hoy (Guest Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame) is an introduction to the history of influential women in the Chicago's Catholic community. Ably compiling a concise biographically anthology as the basis for an in-depth study of meticulous scholarship, Good Hearts offers readers the wisdom of the nuns spanning a time period from the mid-1800's through the twentieth century, and with a particularly focus on the era surrounding the social and cultural issues of the 1960's and the activism contributed by Catholic women. Also available in a hardcover edition (0252030575, $50.00) Good Hearts is informative and recommended reading for non-specialist general readers with an interest in Chicago history, Women's Studies, the American Catholic church, and the historical influence of Catholic women in American social reforms.

No Popery!
Herbert Thurston, S.J.
Roman Catholic Books
PO Box 2286, Fort Collins, CO 80522-2286
0912141832 $22.95 1-970-490-2735

The Roman Catholic Papacy has been the target of accusation, slander, caricature, politics and rebuke from its beginnings in the first century of the Christian Church down to the present day. No Popery!: Anti-Papal Prejudice is a fascinating historical survey with informative chapters devoted to "Bad Popes"; "The Campaign Against Pius IX"; "Some Other Modern Slanders and Slanderers"; "The Pope Who was a Freemason"; Why Pope Clement XII Condemned Freemasonry"; "On Some Medieval Fables"; "Hildebrand and Matilda of Tuscany"; "Papal Forgeries"; "The Forgeries of Cardinal Vaughan"; "The Popes and the Bible"; "The Extermination of Heretics"; "Groveling to the Pope"; "Papal Rapacity and the Ecclesia Anglicana"; "The Popes in Protestant Tradition"; "Darkening the Shadows"; and "What Prejudice Ignores". No Popery! is fascinating, informative, and thoughtful reading which is strongly recommended for anyone with an interest in the history and development of the Roman Catholic Papacy.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

Prayer of the HeART
Kelly Schneider Conkling
Morehouse Publishing
445 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016
0819221686 $14.95 128 pages 1-800-877-0012

Kelly Schneider Conkling is an Episcopal priest in the diocese of West Texas and a frequent leader of retreats and workshops on prayer with art. In "Prayer of the HeART", she draws upon her experience and expertise to create a devotional guide to a very special prayer method that employs exercises of visual imaging to aid in communication with God. Techniques of visual prayer and journaling are described and taught through simple exercises. Chapters are developed around themes taken from the work of a fifth century monk named Macarius. Illustrations show what different individuals have experienced in their exercises and prayers. "Prayer of the HeART" is a new interpretation of an ancient idea or discipline. The reader is invited to create art as a result of experience of God, through visual imaging. Thus they become familiar with the concept of heart spirituality. "Prayer of the HeART" is especially commended for those engaged in Christian dialogue, meditation, prayer and reflection.

An Everyday God
James Taylor
The Pilgrim Press
700 Prospect Avenue East, Cleveland, OH 44115
1551455196 $19.95 192 pages (800) 537-3394

The first volume of an "Everyday" trilogy by James Taylor, "An Everyday God: Insights From the Ordinary " offers an articulate and inspirational series of personal meditations that will encourage the growth of faith in the life of the Christian reader. "An Everyday God" prepares the reader for experiencing the divine through meditating on different chosen scriptures and incorporating the mundane experiences of living into one's meditation and life. "An Everyday God" encourages Christians of all denominational backgrounds or affiliations to look beyond the obvious, to practice empathy, and above all to find or recognize the presence of God in their everyday lives.

Church Growth From An African American Perspective
Donald Hilliard Jr.; foreword by Henry H. Mitchell
Judson Press
PO Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851
0817014950 $15.00 147 pages (800) 458-3766

"Church Growth From An African American Perspective" is Pastor Donald Hilliard's charge to active church groups to adopt and integrate a healthy Christian/biblical model for congregation growth and development. Senior pastor of Cathedral International in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, Pastor Hilliard posits the value of the three basic L's for growth: love, lift, and liberate. The power of the church to love, lift and liberate people through the truth of the gospel will sustain and propel them to become what God intends them to be. Pastor Hilliard differentiates between healthy and unhealthy growth in a church. He advocates purposeful prayer and preaching the whole word of God, not just favorite Scriptures. He believes that people matter more than programs, and that programs exist only to meet people's needs. At the end of each chapter of explanation there are a series of action steps that will lead to a full and healthy development of the practical dimensions of a powerful African American church. "Church Growth From and African American Perspective" has many sound principles to recommend it to all congregations.

Walking Towards Hope
Paul M. Beckingham
Castle Quay Books of Canada
c/o Augsburg Fortress Publishers
P.O. Box 59304, Minneapolis, MN 55459-0304
1894860241 $16.99 285 pages 1-800-328-4648

"Walking Towards Hope: Experiencing Grace in a Time of Brokenness " is an amazing narrative by Paul M. Beckingham, a Baptist minister and survivor of a terrible brain injury compounded with many other severe injuries incurred while driving in Kenya with his wife and son. Subsequent to his terrible accident, a series of incredible events finally allow Paul to begin to build his life again, but not before he has been through great pain, travail, desolation of spirit, and confusion. He experiences a loss of a concept of 'normalcy' in his life. The incredible stages he is still progressing through include a place called "I Don't Know," which is what he says to people who sometimes request of him to explain what his plans are now that he is improved. The answer is often painful and uncertain, but it has its own gift of faith and grace in a time of brokenness. Dr. Beckingham is a remarkable human being to share such a painful, personal journal of his life and faith experiences. "Walking Towards Hope" may not be a comfortable book to read, but it is a book that tells what comfort Christians can experience within their faith when in severe need.

Wonderously Sheltered
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Augsburg Fortress Publishers
PO Box 59304, Minneapolis, MN 55459
0806652810 $9.99

Wondrously Sheltered by Dietrich Bonhoeffer is an inspiring collection of thoughtful and thought-provoking quotes taken from the Bonhoeffer's writings and which are quite nicely illustrated with photographs of intimate and vivid lands and natures. Imaging and exploring the beauties of Earth's most favorable natural environments and plants, Wondrously Sheltered provides readers with a Zen-like feeling as their emotional reasoning responds to the lyrical texts. Wondrously Sheltered is very highly recommended for readers searching for an very special gift book, a relaxing and soothing table-book, or a momentary surcease from life's daily stresses. Happiness: This is one of those moments in which one has so much to say that, really, one can only remain silent. One's heart is so full of good, peaceful, grateful thoughts and feels so sheltered from all danger and temptation that it simply would like to offer some of what it itself has so undeservedly received. -- Excerpted from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's letter to his fiancee, Christmas Eve, 1943.

Paul T. Vogel

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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