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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 9, Number 8 August 2010 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cowper's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf Greenspan's Bookshelf
Helen's Bookshelf Kaveny's Bookshelf Klausner's Bookshelf
Lorraine's Bookshelf Micah's Bookshelf Shelley's Bookshelf
Shirley's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf Vogel's Bookshelf

Cowper's Bookshelf

Questions And Answers For Deep South Gardeners, second edition
Nellie Neal
B. B. Mackey Books
PO Box 475, Wayne, PA 19087
9781893443174, $14.95,

Now in an expanded second edition, "Questions And Answers For Deep South Gardeners" is a 130-page compendium of information, tips, tricks & techniques drawn by Nellie Neal from her gardening radio show listeners questions. The focus is specifically on gardening issues germane to horticulture in the southern states. The issues widely range from the problem of overgrown kudzu, to southern weather patterns, to garden chores, to plant selection, and more. Gardening issues arising from all four seasons are cogently and expert addressed with both wisdom and wit. The result is an invaluable, practical, and thoroughly 'user friendly' instructional reference that is highly recommended for personal, professional, academic, and community library Gardening & Horticultural Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Through My Sisters' Eyes
Bonita McNickles Buie
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533160488, $22.95,

What drives people to a grudge that calls for murder? "Through My Sister's Eyes" tells the story of a brother who tries to find out who poisoned her sister and put her in a coma. Going into her past, she finds her sister's history and finds that in life, a lot of people are wronged and crossed along the way. A uniquely human novel, "Through My Sister's Eyes" is a fine read not to be missed.

Never Yours
Connie Smith
Atlas Books / BookMasters Distribution Service
9780976503910 $11.95

A western novel loosely based on stories from author Connie Smith's family, Never Yours follows life on a sheep ranch from 1910 to 1926. The daily grind of hard work, the risk of natural disaster, disease, or banditry, and more made life harsh in those trying times - but the powerful values of love, honesty, and morals remained worth cherishing and passing along to the next generation. A story of learning to endure and persevere, and the strength within the ties of kinship, Never Yours is as emotionally moving as it is a vivid portrayal of daily life in the American west almost a century ago.

Encyclopedia Of Vampire Mythology
Theresa Bane
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
9780786444526, $75.00,

Every human culture known has some form of vampire legend, folk lore, myth, or believe. Knowledgeably compiled by vampire mythology expert Theresa Bane, "Encyclopedia Of Vampire Mythology" is a 207-page international compendium of alphabetically organized and presented vampire lore. Enhanced with an informative introduction, an extensive bibliography, and a comprehensive index, "Encyclopedia Of Vampire Mythology features succinct descriptions of almost 600 species and subspecies of vampire, with each entry provided with a phonic pronunciation guide, and supported by source references. An impressive work of impeccable scholarship, the "Encyclopedia Of Vampire Mythology" is a seminal and highly recommended addition to academic library reference collections and is an ideal resource for authors of vampire stories and students of vampire lore.

Looking For Jimmy Stewart
Jeane Daly
445 Gardner Street, Hingham, MA 02043
Wings ePress Inc.
9781597055970, $11.95,

"Looking For Jimmy Stewart" is the story of Andi Temperly, a woman who had everything she ever wanted, including the perfect job, a handsome fiancee, and loyal friends. Then one day everything she every wanted, job, fiancee, friends, were lost. Author Jeane Daly has a very special gift for writing in the demanding genre of contemporary romance. "Looking For Jimmy Stewart" is a deftly crafted, 248-page novel that is thoroughly engaging and a superbly entertaining read from beginning to end. "Looking For Jimmy Stewart" is also available as in an ebook edition from Wings ePress. (9781597054256, $7.50).

Cogslea Revisited
M. Juanita Taylor
Weary Dog Books
431 West Price Street, Philadelphia, PA 19144
9781449593261, $12.95,

A superbly crafted 272-page novel by M. Juanita Taylor, "Cogslea Revisited" features a three hundred year old mystery and a host of memorable characters that include an imaginative twelve year old named Toby; Maggie, a cleaning woman who talks to ghosts; Caitlin, an artist who is house-sitting when the mystery emerges compelling her to step through a portal of time for its solution and resolution. Oh yes, there's also Malindi, Caitlin's African wild dog who dreams in parables! "Cogslea Revisited" is imaginative, clever, memorable, unique, and wonderfully entertaining, and one of those books that grips the reader's total attention from beginning to end. A highly recommended addition to personal reading lists and community library collections.

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

Faces On The Clock
Larry Bauer-Scandin
Eagle Entertainment USA
130 Teton Lane, #2, Mankato, MN 56001
9780615375168, $17.49,

An interesting life, lived in interesting times. "Faces On The Clock" is the autobiography of Larry Bauer who began his life by being born in 1947, spent his childhood in Duluth Minnesota, and despite struggling against crippling health issues, graduated college and became a Juvenile Probation Officer in southern Minnesota. He went on to become a certified mental health professional and Adlerian therapist. "Faces On The Clock" is also the story of how he became a foster parent. Replete with accounts of memorable characters, "Faces On The Clock" is an impressive 278-page memoir and highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library American Biography collections.

Musings of a Depression-Era Southern Farm Boy
John W. Fuquay
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, 18th fl., NY, NY 10016
9780533162826 $12.95

Musings of a Depression-Era Southern Farm Boy is the memoir of author John W. Fuquay, who was born in 1933 and grew up amid a rural Quaker community. From his loving yet tangled relationships with friends and family during adolescence, to the enduring value of the work ethic he learned helping out the farm, to his reflections upon the ethical quandaries of life as both a scientist and a Christian, Musings of a Depression-Era Southern Farm Boy is a captivating read from cover to cover. Highly recommended.

Superior Tattoo Bible, Book Two
c/o Wolfgang Publications
PO Box 223, Stillwater, MN 55082
9781929133857 $27.95

Superior Tattoo Bible, Book Two is a dazzling, full-color artbook collecting some of the most striking images of art known to be emblazoned on human skin. Book Two is almost wholly devoted to the striking color imagery - there are not even any captions assigned to the impressive display. Over 500 images are proffered freely to be used as a stand-alone tool, or incorporated into a tattoo design of one's own choosing. Highly recommended for anyone curious enough to study high-quality tattoo art up close.

Play the Najdorf Sicilian
James Rizzitano
Gambit Publications Ltd.
9781906454166 $22.95

International chess master James Rizzitano presents Play the Najdorf Sicilian, an advanced chess strategy guide to the Najdorf Sicilian tactic for Black - an aggressive maneuver that is not easily countered, but that can be counterattacked to deadly effect. Black-and-white diagrams meticulously illustrate the sample games and demonstrations. Due to the extremely heavy focus on concrete gaming examples rather than theory, Play the Najdorf Sicilian lives up to its title, revealing how to best enact this extraordinary gambit under different conditions, and how to strike back against it. Highly recommended, especially for intermediate to advanced chess aficionados.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Arthritis, Inflammation, Gout, Crohn's, IBD and IBS
Emanuel Barling, Jr., Esq. & Ashley F. Brooks, R.N.
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432749859 $34.95

The authors of Arthritis, Inflammation, Gout, Crohn's, IBD and IBS: How to Eliminate Pain and Extend Your Life wish to stress that they are not doctors - Emanuel Barling is a lawyer with extensive experience as in-house counsel to HMOs, and Ashley F. Brooks is a registered nurse. Their collaboration is emphatically not intended to be used as a diagnostic tool nor as a substitute for a visit to a doctor. Instead, Arthritis, Inflammation, Gout, Crohn's, IBD and IBS is a solid resource for improving one's health and dietary habits in order to help prevent and manage chronic pain disorders, packed with invaluable information about nutrition, the body's defenses, and the strengths and weaknesses of readily available medicines. Chapters discuss pain management, specific drugs ranging from COX 2 Selective Enzymes Blockers to Uric Acid Blockers, how nutrition science has evolved our understanding of a balanced diet, and more. A user-friendly resource written for readers of all backgrounds, Arthritis, Inflammation, Gout, Crohn's, IBD and IBS is an excellent place to begin when looking to make positive, healthful changes in one's lifestyle.

An Illustrated and Illuminated Manuscript of The Gospel of Thomas
Carol W. Nichols, artist, calligrapher, and book designer
Marvin Meyer, translator and text consultant
1017 Abbey Ridge,
Culver-Stockton College, Canton, MO 62305-4779
9780615335216 $34.95

An Illustrated and Illuminated Manuscript of The Gospel of Thomas is an extraordinarily beautiful, artistic presentation of the "Gospel of Thomas" Coptic manuscript, which was virtually lost to the world until 1945. Calligrapher and painter Carol Nichols has rendered a version with easy-to-read yet beautifully flowing script, over 65 illustrations, and 45 gold illuminations. A brief introduction and foreword enhance this stunningly exquisite volume, smoothly translated from the Coptic by Dr. Marvin Meyer.

Instant Health: The Shaolin Qigong Workout for Longevity
Shifu Yan Lei
Small Press United (distribution)
c/o Cat Goscovitch
9780956310101 $24.95

Instant Health: The Shaolin Qigong Workout for Longevity is a step-by-step guide to the physical stretches, stances, self-massage, and exercises practiced by generations at the Shaolin Temple of Zen in China for 1500 years, as explained by author Shifu Yan Lei, a 34th generation fighting disciple of the Temple. People of all ages and backgrounds can benefit from the healthful practices described (not just expert martial artists!); the plain-terms text and easy-to-follow illustrations make Instant Health: The Shaolin Qigong Workout for Longevity the next best teaching resource short of actually seeking personal instruction from a Shaolin Qigong master. An excellent, inexpensive way to improve the health and quality of one's daily routine.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Heaven's Rage
Tiffany Craig Brown
27 Walshford PI, Sacramento, CA 95835
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432756956, $16.95,

All it takes is one man to ruin many lives. "Heaven's Rage" follows Detective Ian Buchanan, who is assigned to find out who is responsible for the murder of Richard Tate. But with such a personality as Dick's, Ian soon learns that the list of suspects is long and there are plenty of women scorned. A riveting tale of wronged love and the need for revenge and why it can be hard to hate a murderer, "Heaven's Rage" is a fascinating read well worth embracing.

Tearing Down the Wall
Sharon M. Katzman
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432755546, $12.95,

When some people lose it all, they still have themselves. Sharon M. Katzman didn't even have that. "Tearing Down the Wall" is a memoir of Sharon Katzman's remarkable journey to health and how she recovered through her own determination. Having to learn how to do the simplest tasks again once more, she drove herself to gain a master's degree and proves that anything can be recovered from. "Tearing Down the Wall" is a remarkable tale, and a very highly recommended one.

Peggy Simms Lyles
Outskirts Press
18306 Bubbling Spring Terrace- Boyds, MD 20841
9781432748494, $16.95,

When you have to set your own rules, life becomes more difficult. "Lila: A Journey of Life and Love" is the story of Lila Anderson, alone and unsure of who she is, having her place in life decided by others for so long. With a long road trip ahead of her, she soon finds that if you're not avoiding it, life will reveal itself to you very quickly. "Lila" is a remarkable read that many women will relate to.

I am Equus
Duaa Anwar
Outskirts Press
18306 Bubbling Spring Terrace, Boyds, MD 20841
9781432751494, $17.95,

Understanding your horse is the best way to get the relationship's bonds working well and strongly together. "I am Equus: Understanding the Horse's Potential through Everyday Encounters" is a guide to understanding the horse, and how to realize that it's more than just a stupid beast of burden, but a creature with emotions and desires all its own. Bonding with the horse is the main topic, and "I am Equus" discusses it and gives advice well.

Helen Dumont

Kaveny's Bookshelf

Sir Thomas Malory's Morte Darthur: A New Modern English Translation Based on the Winchester Manuscript
Dorsey Armstrong
Parlor Press
816 Robinson Street. West Lafayette IN 47906
9781602351035 $36.00

Dorsey Armstrong, an English professor at Purdue University and marketing director for the journal Arthuriana (The official journal of the International Arthuriana Society - North American Branch) has produced this wonderful volume. It's hard to believe that it is over seven years since I last mentioned her work, in June of 2003. I did a feature on her and her organization entitled "The Past is a near and Distant Thing" for Midwest Book Review and it is still accessible at It's also available through a number of other permanent archival services which Midwest Book Review supports.

Now the same thing can be said about my review now as the 2003 one. It is highly personal and deals with elements of my own past at UW-Madison in the late sixties. The same phase applies to her new, and the ground-breaking, work which is of interest to the broadest demographic, both the seasoned literary scholar and the somewhat resistant secondary-school student. In a way her present work has moved me towards something more interesting than my own past, that is to say the changing and expanding field of scholarly discourse.

For example her work supersedes the orthodox scholarly position of preeminent 20th- century Arthurian scholar Eugene Vinaver (1899-1979) in that she argues, based on the work of a number of contemporary scholars, that Sir Thomas Malory always intended to present Caxton, the first English printer, with a series of integrated stories which might be thought of as a literary and novelistic whole, rather than disparate stories crammed into a single book, even if there were some contradictory passages within the text.

Though of course I am not an Arthurian scholar, I do my work on J.R.R. Tolkien that has never stopped me from having an opinion on the matter once I ask the right person the right question. So, I showed Dr. Armstrong's work to one of my colleagues Richard West, who was one Eugene Vinaver's last students at UW-Madison, and who himself has done original work with Mallory' s sources. He read her introduction with fierce uninterrupted scholarly intensity for well over forty minutes then smiled and said: "she has done a brilliant translation." He did not comment on whether she based her work on sources which superseded Eugene Vinaver's work, however she certainly held his attention.

I would love to fictionalize the historical English Knight, Sir Thomas Malory (1405-1471), who spent the last few years of his life translating Morte Darthur from Middle French to Middle English (which I find nearly readable, perhaps because I am dyslexic and used to my own weird spelling), to be typeset by the first English printer, William Caxton (1422-1492) (note he died the year Columbus sailed to The Americas). My sources tell me that Sir Thomas Malory probably worked from manuscripts in a nearby monastic library.

As one imagines the situation, some delightful questions present themselves. Would Caxton have had to fetch the manuscripts or might they have given Sir Thomas Malory work-release privileges? One wonders if Sir Thomas Malory claimed writer's block if, Caxton might have reminded him that he had to write himself out of the slammer. Perhaps William Caxton would have said that, but only if Malory were unarmed and safely behind bars, and under lock and key. After all it is noted that by Dorsey that the historical Sir Thomas Malory was charged with ambushing his own liege lord. It would be nothing for him to run through a mere commoner like the publisher William Caxton. As matter of fact if the jury consisted of Mallory's peers that is to say, incarcerated noble writers, he would probably have gotten off scot free.

On of the most gripping and provocative things Dorsey says in her introduction is that Sir Thomas Malory longs for a better world than the one he lives in and better times than he is forced to face. Worse yet he remembers better times than those he lived in when a divided England was torn to pieces by the civil war called The War of The Roses, a war which ranged from the 1450's to 1485. Finally, it ended with the bloody battle of Bosworth Field (which I have visited and toured in one of our dozen or so trips to the UK.)

Yet Caxton's print, first-edition of Sir Thomas Malory's Morte Darthur came out in 1485, the year The War of The Roses ended. Perhaps we can say this was also the inception of a recognizable and modern England under the hundred an eighteen year reign of the Tudor Dynasty of Henry VIII and Elizabeth. Did Sir Thomas Malory and William Caxton shape the language that shaped the dynasty, which made England protestant and separate from the Catholic continent? Well there are historians of print culture who would argue they had a role, but of course that is a bigger question than this review can deal with.

I can say this Dorsey's work carries the sign of a great translation in that her diction, and general word choice, is economical almost like subtitles on a well done foreign film, or maybe the text in a graphic novel, in that it advances the story. What I mean is this: Sir Thomas Malory's Morte Darthur has had a kind of Iconographic presence for hundreds years. It has appeared in every imaginable format, from vacation water parks, to electronic games, to kids make-up games where little boys charge trees with poles that are make believe lances, not realizing that a lance should be stoutly secured on the shoulder rather than the crotch (with rather unpleasant results). Yet the text itself is more powerful and interesting than any of its multimedia iterations as it commands the reader's attention.

And the narration is also full of dramatic potential, in that there are places where Malory actually speaks to us in the text. For example, I was sitting at the breakfast table with my wife and I read Chapter 3, "How Mordred Was Born and Arthur Learned of his Parentage," and the whole corpus of the legend looks different as we find Arthur acting much like King Herod towards the Christ child as he orders all the babies conceived, because they might his child of incest, put to sea that they might drowned. Yet, like Christ, Mordred survives, to become a conflict-driving villain, well not. Saul kept trying to kill David to no avail.

There is something in the text for everyone from the seasoned scholar to the first time reader. I could easily see it as a core text in either an introduction to English literature, or the focal point of a graduate seminar. I also think it would be a great source for anybody wishing to successfully write in the high fantasy genre. A must for the public, academic, college, and secondary school library. It's got everything, romance passion, forbidden love, fair damsels, and some jousting scenes, which when I read them made me think of a World Wrestling Federation Battle Royal. That would be something little boys and their grandmothers could read to each other, and maybe reenact.

Philip Kaveny
Senior Reviewer

Klausner's Bookshelf

Mark Haskell Smith
Black Cat (Grove/Atlantic)
9780802170767 $14.00

In Los Angeles botanist Miro Basinas is shot. One month earlier, Miro competed in the international Cannabis Cup tournament in Amsterdam. Stunningly his Elephant Crush won the gold medal at the competition because of its wonderful flavoring that tastes like mango.

Miro thought by entering his prize specialty grown weed he would hit the big time especially after he won. Now in a hospital as he recovers from being shot he learns his seed has been stolen by predatory capitalists who plan to sell his cannabis. He vows revenge, but has no idea how one goes about becoming an avenger as this is comic books or a movie and he is a weed botanist; besides he has no idea who shot him and stole his seed as several predators, besides the usual suspects, surface.

This is a dark amusing crime caper starring a half baked capitalist botanist and a horde of eccentric characters who run the gamut of stereotypical free market idealists. Although the support cast can strain the story line with too much quirkiness, readers who enjoy something different will appreciate the battle of the capitalists who want to sell legally at medical marihuana "Starbucks" and illegally on the streets, Miro blend with or without his cooperation; as competition is cutthroat.

Ransome's Crossing
Kaye Dacus
Harvest House
9780736927543 $13.99

In 1814, her family is unaware that Charlotte Ransome has a secret fiance Henry Winchester in Jamaica. Although she knows she is acting rash, Charlotte dresses up as midshipman Charles Lott to sneak on board one of the vessels of a fleet captained by her brother Commander William Ransome.

However, her plan threatens to fall apart when she becomes ill. First Lieutenant Ned Cochran knows who Charles is having met briefly Charlotte in England before setting off for the Caribbean. He is already halfway in love with her from that brief meeting in Portsmouth and decides to conceal her true identity from his superior officer her brother the Commander. On the journey across the sea to find her fiance, Charlotte finds herself attracted to caring Ned; leaving her to ponder her fickleness as she falls in love with a second man.

The second Ransome historical romance (see Ransome's Honor for the turbulent romance between William and Julia) is a terrific early nineteenth century tale as readers will feel they are at sea crossing the Atlantic. The lead couple is a fabulous pairing as she feels capricious while he risks his career for his beloved. Although women disguised as men has been used many times in books and movies, Kaye Dacus makes it feel sea-breezing fresh with a strong entry that also sets up the next novel in the saga with a wonderful final twisting cliffhanger.

Do Unto Others
Michael Z. Williamston
9781439133835 $22.00

Minors Bryan Prescot and his family invented technology that enabled the mining of planets in the most inhospitable places. The invention made him and his kin the richest people in the universe. On the down side, many unscrupulous people see the Prescot brood as targets to be mined.

To keep his daughter Caron safe, Bryan hires the Ripple Creek Security firm whose guiding vision is protect the client at all costs. The magnificent six (Jason, Artemis, Alex, Bart, Shaman, and Elke) guard Caron with their lives; each vows to remain vigil as they pledge no harm will come to her. However, an unknown adversary has sent a horde to kill the girl and her protectors. She has the sextet who doesn't feel too concerned that they face an army that could take a planet but only need to take out one person. To the six keeping Caron safe is their business even if they have to nuke their way to keeping their client safe.

This is a wild outer space caper as the odds are overwhelming in favor of the thugs kidnapping Caron and killing all on her side. However, the magnificent six plus the miners defend her so don't bet against Caron and her protective cronies. Over the top with nothing new as Michael Z. Williamston takes the honorable mercenary Magnificent Seven from Mexico into Outer Space (with six) to fight amoral ruthless outlaws. Yet knowing this going in, readers will enjoy every page of the confrontation as Mr. Williamston will not need to beg forgiveness from his fans with this entertaining thriller.

Cast In Chaos
Michelle Sagara
9780373803194 $14.95

The City of Elantra's influential are stunned when the powerless charlatans on Elani Street suddenly possess magical skills. Alarm spreads even by some of the new practitioners. This trepidation turns to abject fear when rains of blood come down from the sky and abnormal births become the norm.

The Oracles are confused as the leaders at the Dragon Court declare a homeland security emergency. The leadership concludes that something from outside is trying to penetrate the barriers between worlds. They also believe their response to prevent this from happening rests with Hawk elite force Private Kaylin Neya whose mysterious skin markings is postured to have the answers. Unintentionally somehow Kaylin enters a void that has been opened between worlds; here she meets the dark trying to crash through to the light of Elantra.

The sixth Cast "police procedural" fantasy continues the growth as a person of Kaylin who has a come a long way since her early days as a prejudicial cop on the Shadow beat. Although the story line is character driven by the courageous heroine, her efforts (and the prime plot) is to simply save the world. Fans of Elantra will want to soar with the heroine as her latest case takes several twists and spins.

Zygmunt Miloszewski
Bitter Lemon
9781904738442 $14.95

In 2005 at a Warsaw monastery, a demanding group therapy session occurs hosted by Cezary Rudski. He tells a tale to the three of his four patents (Euzebiusz Kiam, Hanna Kwiatkowska and Barbara Jarczyk) who remain at the table; Henryk Talek is not there as the therapist assumes he left unable to cope with the intensity.

The next day Henryk is found dead; a roasting spit jammed into his eye. Warsaw prosecutor Teodor Szack leads the investigation, but has no energy for the case. He is bone wearily tired as he interviews the therapist and the three surviving patients. However, he soon finds his inquiry intriguing as he unco vers a link to a cold case homicide over two decades ago when the Communists ran roughshod. Adding to his renewed vigor is meeting enthusiastic reporter Monika Grzelka whose beauty and elan revitalizes him. However, Szack also wonders why the Secret Police are following his every move.

This is a fascinating Polish police procedural in which almost two decades since the fall of the Iron Curtain mysteries remain tied to the Communist era. The investigation is cleverly devised and the ennui Szarck feels at first is powerful as is his sudden zest for life after meeting the energetic journalist. However, the key to Zygmunt Miloszewski's engaging whodunit is Warsaw as the city comes across modern yet retains the scars of communism.

32 Candles
Ernessa T. Carter
Amistad (HarperCollins)
9780061957840 $24.99

African American Davidia Jones grows up on Glass, Mississippi with a mother who does nothing for her. By the time she is six she knows the smell of an alcoholic and the noise of sex. The only thing good about being especially dark skinned is that the bruises don't readily show. As a young teen, already a victim of neglect and abuse, Davie assumes she is ugly; enhanced by the cruel comments at school where she is called Monkey Night. Her unrequited attraction to the top jock James Farrell augments her feelings of the ugliest non in Mississippi.

In 1984, fifteen years old Davie sees Sixteen Candles in the only theater in town. She cries about the ending in which a loser wins and decides to leave Glass. Davie gets a ride out of town with a long haul truck driver. In Los Angeles, Davie obtains work as a 1940s chanteuse as she reinvents herself. All is great until James arrives at the club where she performs. He fails to recognize the thirtyish Davie, which hurts her, but he clearly wants her. Davie seeks revenge for her mistreatment in Glass so she hides who she was and plans to break his heart. She failed to calculate either falling in love again or Mississippi mud returning to destroy her chance for that Molly Ringwald ending.

This is an entertaining at times intense look at an abused bullied child as a thirty something adult. Davie is terrific holding the tale together with her prime desires fighting one another since James reentered her life; though in some ways for the first time as their high school spheres were as far apart as the sun (him) and relegated Pluto (her). Although the story line has no major twists, readers will enjoy 32 Candles rooting for Davie.

Brandilyn Collins
9780310276449 $14.99

Six years ago in Vonita, California, Linda Jackson dies. Her fiftyish best friend skip tracer Joanne Weeks believes the husband affluent church elder Baxter Jackson killed his wife. She makes efforts to prove her assertion, but fails as everyone who knows Jackson consider him a great man.

When his second wife Cherise dies in what the corner ruled was an unfortunate accident, Joanne's belief that Jackson is a spousal killer reasserts itself. This time she plans to find proof by seeking someone who might have information on what happened to Linda six years ago. However, Joanne feels someone is stalking her. Feeling her life is in danger already, she is further stunned when a stranger leaps in front of her car on a wet ro ad pleading with her to seek out the teenage foster child Melissa Harkoff who lived with the Jacksons when Linda vanished.

Few, if any writers combine inspirational messages with suspense as well as Brandilyn Collins consistently does (see Exposure). She proves this once again with Deceit. Her current tale is a superb thriller in which the heroine must peel away the deceitful masks everyone wraps themselves inside of to uncover the truth of what happened to Linda. Readers will consider what is acceptable in terms of societal deceit in terms of the family, the law and religion and what is not. However, Ms. Collins also takes her theme much deeper asking the audience to consider how will the Lord judge a person's deceits when he or she stands at the gates. The message is intertwined inside a powerful suspense thriller as the heroine peels away levels of deceit of others and the mythos she mentally spun as a psychological defense mechanism to get to the truth; if that is even truly attainable.

In Harm's Way
Ridley Pearson
9780399156540 $25.95

Fiona Kenshaw rescues a small child from drowning in the river. She asks one thing from the man she is interested in; keep her face out of the local paper, the Mountain Express. Sun Valley Sheriff Wall Fleming is also interested in Fiona, but was burned by his wife who was cheating on him with his deputy. The paper's editor ignores the pleas the sheriff by running the story with her photo. This leads to Fiona to withdraw deep into her shell.

When the corpse of former football player and ex convict Martel Gale is found, Sergeant Lou Boldt of Seattle thinks there is a link between the deceased, his former agent residing in Sun Valley Vince Wynn and a former sport team owner and entrepreneur Marty Boatwright and the dead courtesan Caroline Vetta. Boldt is working the Vetta case and Martel's death enables Boldt to question Wynn and Boatwright. After Lou and Walt interview the men, both conclude one of them is guilty of homicide, but lack proof. Walt seeks evidence, but discovers a tie to Fiona that leads him to wonder if she is involved with the murders.

The latest "Killer" Walt Fleming police procedural (see Killer Summer and Killer View) is an excellent thriller as he works effectively with Ridley Pearson's other top cop Lou Boldt (from the Boldt and Matthews series). Fiona's relationships with Walt (sweet and just beginning), and with her ward Kira (coping with a rape as the youngster knows the truth about the guardian) enhances the entertaining whodunit. There is plenty of action, but it is the interaction between the key cast members that makes this a superb mystery.

The News Where You Are
Catherine O'Flynn
9780805091809 $15.00

In England, middle aged popular news anchor Frank Allcroft overly reflects where his life has been and where he is going. He hates his job and knows how his peers scorn his talent or lack of as they would insist. He struggles with an eternally depressed mother since his father the architect who was never around anyway died. However, the recent death of his buddy Phil shakes Frank to his core as he ponders mortality ; that of his own.

Frank understands his broadcasting is inane with all the news unfit to air. He wanders the town seeing how many things change yet remains the same. A distraught Frank feels for the lonely people living and dead; visiting graves in which no one cares. He detests urban blight but loathes even more demolition as he is unable to move on unlike his mom who insists good and bad are always memories that need to be demolished so one can move away from the past and live in the present.

With a nod to the Beatles' Eleanor Rigby, this is a strong somewhat melancholy character study of someone who reflects on his life and concludes the world is terrible place to live especially when one feels alone as he does, but dying alone is the punctuation end. Yet in spite of his gloomy outlook on past, present and future, Frank never turns self-pitying as he is stoic believing that's life and death; which ironically leaves the reader with hope. Character study fans will enjoy the story of Frank, caught between a rock and hard place inside his mind yet never quite crushed. The News Where You Are is powerful storytelling

The Reapers Are the Angels
Alden Bell
9780805092431 $15.00

Fifteen years old Temple has learned one thing in her life; either one kills the zombies and other predators or they die. She can never remember a time before the Meatskins when the globe was relatively safe, but recalls the old man and her younger sibling before she was forced to begin her trek to nowhere.

At an alleged safe house, human Abraham Todd assaults her. Following her credo, she kills him but flees before his family or allies can come after her. Outraged by the teen's murder of his brother, Moses vows to find, torture and kill Temple. On her trek, Temple finds a dim witted mute Maury who starts tagging along with her. She cannot shake him and soon feels responsible for his safety; as he brings back memories she would prefer to forget. Meanwhile Moses stalks her and the meatskin zombies chase her and her companion.

The world of Alden Bell is a dark place, a terrible place to live but Temple refuses to die so circumstances of survival has made her one of the fittest and toughest. Temple makes the grim convergence of horror with science fiction work as she seeks redemption instead of the remorse that fills her soul. Her journey is deadly battling predators of all kind; some who would rape and then kill her; other who would eat her to death. The Reapers Are the Angeles is an exciting fast-paced thriller that grips readers from start to finish.

Nights Beneath the Nation
Denis Kehoe
Serpent's Tail
9781846686795 $14.95

Decades ago in the early 1950s Daniel Ryan was a teen from a poor family when he moved to Dublin. However, he was taken aback when he realized he preferred sleeping with men. He had grown up in a small town that proclaimed homosexuality is an asylum disease for the mentally insane perverts or a devil's sin. He fell in love, but his relationship ended poorly and he fled Ireland for New York.

In 1998, wealthy septuagenarian Daniel returns to Dublin for the first time since he fled in shame in 1951. Nothing seems the same to him and he feels no one his age has anything in common with the cosmopolitan man he has become after five decades in Manhattan. In his birth land, Daniel feels like a stranger in a strange land.

This is a complex, perhaps too complicated comparative look at a man in two stages of his life; as the story line rotates between young Daniel learning with energy and elan his sexual proclivity vs. the eldery acrimonious Daniel having lived a life alone in exile. Nights Beneath the Nation is a fascinating protrait of a young and old gay male struggling to accept his sexual preference.

Unwilling Warrior
Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar
9781599799858 $10.99

Although the War Between the States makes it unsafe to travel, following the death of her mother, Valerie Fontaine leaves her Virginia boarding school to come home to New Orleans. However, her father makes it clear she is unwelcome.

Her dad decides to marry Valerie off perhaps to neighbor James Ladden who she despises. She prefers his guest combat photographer Benjamin McCabe who is in town searching for his missing brother Luke who vanished during the Battle of Bull Run. He is nice to her and falls in love with her. When her dad is arrested, he sends her to his home promising he will follow her once he finds Luke. However, she finds his home unwelcoming while her beloved continues his search for his younger brother.

The first Season of Redemption, Unwilling Warriors is a strong inspirational with a message that God is there for those who are there for the Lord even at the darkest loneliest moments. The story line transports readers to the Civil War in which many people feel God abandoned them, but those who find their way back or who have never lost their way will find the Lord helping them with their grief, sorrow and remorse. With a strong cast especially the heroine and a wonderful sense of time and place, Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar provides an insightful opening tale as Valerie logically knows how untrue her feelings are yet still feels abandoned by her father, her beloved and even God.

Corduroy Mansions
Alexander McCall Smith
9780307379085 $24.95

In London, several eccentric people reside at Corduroy Mansions. Wine merchant and connoisseur William wants his twentyish year old son Eddie to move out, but a nuclear bomb is not going to budge his offspring. He gets Freddie the vegan canine whose prime mission is to propel Eddie to move in with people his age. Restaurateur Marcia wants Eddie out of the house also so then she can make a move on empty nester William.

Another occupant Dee works at a vitamin store where she tries to help a peer who she feels needs to cleans his system of excess salt. Her flat-mate Jenny earns a difficult living working for detestable MP Oedipus Snark, who treats his employee like a low form of dog excrement. Snark's mom Berthea is writing the definitive biography of her son while her agent Barbara wants to become Mrs. MP.

As the walls crumble around the quirky residents, their squabbles make for an enjoyable slice of London life. Low keyed and not for everyone, fans of the author will enjoy the jocularity of everyday people interrelating in a dysfunctional manner as Corduroy Mansions is sort of like an aging supercollider with the people living there as the subatomic particles being sliced and diced. More like Alexander McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street books, than his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, this is a fun look at the foibles of human interactions.

Under A Maui Moon
Robin Jones Gunn
9781416583394 $14.99

In Portland, Oregon, with the kids grown up and out of the house, Carissa and Richard Lathrop look forward to the empty nest together. However, she expected to spend most of her free time with her beloved husband. Instead, Carissa is fire d due to the economic downturn while Richard's counseling work as a psychologist keeps him away from home a lot while when he is at their nest he is mentally exhausted and finally his volatile clients are coming to their house.

Clarissa is disappointed with Richard as she feels he has turned to work to spend less time with her. Since he is avoiding her, she accepts a retreat on Maui where she plans to pray to God to help her with the direction her marriage is heading, but Kai distracts from her feelings of desertion by her spouse and the Lord.

This is an interesting inspirational character study as dedicated Dr. Lathrop and his wife Carissa seem to be drifting apart with different needs at a time when they should come together. Carissa is disappointed in her husband, but also fails to understand how important his need to help is. On the other hand, Richard is superb with his unstable clients, but fails to be there while his wife deals with losing her job after the kids left home. Under the Maui Moon is a profound contemporary; as Robin Jones Gunn deftly interweaves into the enjoyable plot that God holds your hand, but you still must reach out to the Lord and to your loved ones.

Shadow's Son
Jon Sprunk
9781616142018 $16.00

In holy Othir, Caim the assassin makes his living with his bow and arrow as his choice of weapon. Being a distant sniper is his preferred choice though a blade is okay if a close up action is required. Having no scruples or any dangerous dangling alliances, any assignment is acceptable as long as he completes the task unscathed.

His current client hires Caim to kill abusive torturer Duke Reinard of Ostergoth who is manhandling his guests at a whipping gala when the assassin's lover Kit alighted in his way. Somehow Caim misses the mark and hits guest Liram Kornfelsh of the Merchant Syndicate. All hell breaks loose as he shoots two more arrows at those now protecting the Duke before he flees for his life while guardian spirit Kit keeps a barrage of I told you so coming at him.

Things go from bad to much worse as soon Caim finds himself eluding the on the take law enforcement officials, other assassins, and something insidious from beyond the Other Side. He eludes crooked lawmen, rival killers, and sorcery from the Other Side. Betrayed by his agent, he is now known with his only chance to survive is claiming his heritage as the Shadow's Son. His only allies are Kit who no one else sees or hears and seventeen year old upper class Josephine as they unravel a plot that will shake the church's foundation if it leaves the shadows of a secret society.

This is an exciting quest fantasy starring a likable somewhat surprisingly naive antihero, a perhaps too mature debutante teen, and a know-it-all spirit. The story line is fast-paced from the opening missed shot until the final revelations. Readers who appreciate a complex fantasy thriller in a strange but well designed world will want to visit the escapades of the Shadow's Son in Sprunk's sphere.

The Fire Lord's Lover
Kathryne Kennedy
9781402236525 $7.99

In 1724, elven lords from Elfthane rule England with a cruel iron fist. Half-breed son of elven Fire Lord evil Mor'ded, Dominic Raikes conceals the full extent of his magical skills and more important his heart from his sire because he knows his father would view him as a threat for either and kill him.

Meanwhile the human Rebellion, who want to overturn the Elven malevolent reign of terror, raise seemingly innocent Lady Cassandra Bridges to appear prim and proper to disguise her other training as an assassin. She and Dominic wed in a marriage of convenience. However, to their shock, the newlyweds fall in love with one another. Unintended consequence is his human side of empathy and love supersedes his ruthless elven half, which leads to his worst nightmare that his dad becomes aware of what has occurred.

This is a superb Georgian romantic fantasy that effortlessly merges facts of early eighteenth century London with a mythical spin. With several great twists the story line is loaded with otherworldly action anchored by the realism of 1724 England as the Rebellion and the elves control the destiny of the newlyweds. Ironically even with others trying to pull their strings, the exciting plot is owned by the lead couple as she is a top rate assassin and he a half-breed coming into his power due to the love of the mortal he married; while Mor'ded tests his son.

Wolf's Cross
S.A. Swann
Spectra (Random House)
9780553807394 $15.00

In Anno Domini 1353 in Nurnberg, Prussia Brother Josef and other Wolfjager Teutonic warrior monks are stunned by the horrific massacre though they have seen plenty of hellish gore. The evidence is overwhelming that a werewolf caused the gruesome scene though the locals have blamed the Jews for their plight and blight; and burned them out of fear. However, the real monster attacks the Teutonic Knights with a vengeance. Although severely injured, Josef the knight probationer fires a silver coded arrow into the eye of the beast; the creature flees howling.

A servant Maria tends to the wounds of the severely hurt Josef. He is attracted to his healer and her to him; but she also has feelings for the stranger Darien, who has a scar on one of his eyes. Darien desires her to o and explains to his Maria that like him she is wolfbreed too; only the silver crucifix her father placed on her prevents her from changing into a berserker.

Although the story line is a typical paranormal triangle, the time and place (same period and general location as Wolfbreed) makes for a terrific medieval historical romantic fantasy. Filled with plenty of action from the opening assault, the strong cast makes for a powerfully gripping saga as readers will wonder which enemy combatant the "commoner" Maria will choose as her soulmate, the knight or the wolf.

The Hanging Tree
Bryan Gruley
9781416563648 $15.00

Pine County executive editor Gus Carpenter of the newspaper the Pilot reports to Philo Beach, an editor seven years younger than him. Philo's uncle, the News North CEO, directed his nephew to get the newspaper's finances in line. The latest big story is that Grace McBride committed suicide by hanging herself on the Hanging Tree. Grace went down state from her Michigan small town for a number of years before coming home.

The townsfolk are less interested in the hometown girl's death now that there is a new ice hockey rink coming to Starvation that Laird Haskell, who moved there with his wife and brilliant hockey goalie son, is funding. Gus hears rumors that contractors working on the skating rink are not being paid and Laird needs a $100,000 loan from the town until he can fix his finances. Determined to prove Grace did not kill herself, Gus investigates learning the woman was involved with some nasty folks from Detroit. He follows the trail as if Grace set it up for him to do so. Her clues lead full circle back to their hometown where Gus, his girlfriend Deputy Sheriff Darlene Esper and Philo team up and try to bring justice to a dead woman who never had any when she lived.

The return to Starvation Lake is an exhilarating whodunit as the investigative lead finds himself with a happy and a strange bedfellow. Gus is an unusual individual in that he does not allow whatever life tosses at him to get inside his stomach; readers can visualize him singing Matthew Strider's tune "Ain't Nothing Going to Break My Stride." Readers will join him and his two sleuthing partners in this entertaining Michigan murder mystery.

The Red Queen
Philippa Gregory
9781416563723 $25.99

As a child, Margaret Beaufort felt she was destiny's darling and planed to remain pious while pushing the cause of the red Rose of Lancaster. However, her mother rudely awakens her by informing her she is a worthless chip off the old block of England's military commander in France; and therefore will be sent to Wales to marry some lord older than her parents. She is quickly widowed at thirteen and forced to marry again. This time she has a son, whom she names Henry after the king. To keep him safe she sends him away but pledges him to the daughter of the White Rose rival York family. Widowed and married this time to Lord Thomas and knowing her son is ready to take the throne from the usurper, Margaret executes a coup.

This is a terrific historical biographical fiction as queen of the sub-genre Philippa Gregory provides her fans with another strong female royal (see The White Queen and The Other Boleyn Girl). Filled with intrigue, murder and betrayal while occurring for the most part in the second half of the fifteenth century, Ms. Gregory focuses this time on a female dynasty maker as Margaret Beaufort proves to be the matriarch of the Tudor line.

Bad Day's Work
Nora McFarland
9781439155486 $14.99

Lilly Hawkins is a shooter at KJAY TV in Bakersfield, California. At one she was the elite, but over the last six months her luck has been so bad the Blue Notes must have sang about her as she makes Murphy look fortunate. She is on call a t night when all reporters sleep in their beds so they can look refreshed on camera. One evening she is called to investigate the corpse of Val Boyle found in the field of Valley Farms.

Her boss asks if she can handle the assignment; if not her rival for the head shooter position will take it. If she cedes the mission, her competitor will be her boss; as it is his go get them personality may win the day anyway. She arrives at the police cordoned scene where the body was found. Lilly sneaks passed the barrier and takes video shots. Back at the office she is stunned when there are no pictures as she failed to check her equipment. The police arrive at her home demanding she hand over the video, but she flees into the night. The East Side Crew led b y a dangerous person goes after her too. With her career in the tank and two groups on opposite sides of the law in pursuit, Lilly is in trouble; everyone seems to be converging on her as she wonders how this became A Bad Day At Work and home.

One thing leads to another as Lilly Hawkins tries to avoid jail, death, and unemployment as she lands in once situation after another. Fans of Nancy Martin and Janet Evanovich will enjoy the beleaguered heroine trying to pull out a plum. Feeling like Spade in Dashiell Hammett's Maltese Falcon, Lilly finds seemingly everyone in Bakersfield wants a piece of her. Humorous yet taut, readers will enjoy Lilly's escapades as she has less tim e than Jack Bauer has.

Joan Brady
9780743270113 $26.99

Wealthy Springfield, Illinois resident physicist Helen Freyl owns a farm in Caton, Alabama. On her farm is a special honeybee hive that produces a type of honey, which can heal people; she is hiding there grieving the death of her lover.

The pharmaceutical industry upon hearing of the unique qualities of the honey claims the patent for the honeybee venom. Helen and her cantankerous grandmother battle the giants even as she joins a London based research team working on an antitoxin for radiation poisoning. However, Helen is stunned when she learns of scientific death testing research by Follation Medical Foundation in the Mogilev Region of Belarus near where the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl occurred almost twenty-five years ago. Grandma and granddaughter know their lives are unsafe so Helen turns to former con artist David Marion, who killed a hitman and set up his home to insure that everyone will assume he died in a house explosion.

Although lacking the consistent message of the previous Freyl-Marion teaming (see Bleedout) even with the obvious set up to do so, Venom in an exciting international thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the moment David visits the Judge who muses how freedom loving USA has more people in prison than dictatorial Communist China. Although heavy handed, fans will enjoy the connecting of the dots starting in Springfield through Caton to London and Chernobyl as David and Helen know that greed is the capitalist engine of choice with the unprotected as its fuel in a way that would make Mendele proud.

Mozart's Blood
Louise Marley
9780758242129 $15.00

Octavia Voss is euphoric as she will soon sing an aria at the Milan opera house; the same place she sang two centuries ago when she shared blood with the great composer. However, during rehearsal her personal assistant Ugo vanishes. She is worried for the welfare of her ancient friend as she knows he would not desert her and she fears she will have to bite for blood since he provided her nourishment.

Octavia thinks back to when they first met during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. She begins her quest to find her friend, but soon becomes the target of those who want her Mozart enhanced blood and by the Ancient Ones who will kill even centuries-old innocent vampires like her to prevent new ones from being promulgated.

This is a terrific vampire thriller with a refreshing interesting spin in which shared memories come with the drunken blood. The story line rotates between the frantic present day search by Octavia who is hunter and hunted, and several biting eras in her past. Fans of supernatural urban fantasy will want to drink from Louise Marley's marvelous Mozart's Blood.

The Unexpected Son
Shobhan Bantwal
9780758232038 $15.00

Middle-aged Vinita and Girish Patil enjoy their middle class lifestyle in suburban New Jersey. Married for almost a quarter of a century, the Indian-American couple has a daughter.

However, Vinita's perfect world shatters when she receives a shocking letter postmarked Mumbai. Inside is a letter informing her that the illegitimate son she birthed stillborn back home in Palgaum, India actually lives. Her brother Vishal admits he orchestrated the hoax for her sake and that of his nephew. Now her first born, Shivraj College chemistry Professor Rohit Barve is dying from leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant. Vinita remembers years back when she was pregnant and Rohit's biological father Som Kori refused to marry her as their respective people from differing cultures even languages were feuding. She finds out when she arrives to meet and hopefully help her son they still are.

This excellent contemporary provides strong insight into the Indian-American culture (a trademark of talented Shobhan Bantwal; see The Sari Shop Window), a mother's eternal love for her offspring, and a fascinating "border" war inside a small village in India. Character driven, The Unexpected Son is a super Indian-American tale.

Pepperoni Pizza Can be Murder
Chris Cavender
9780758229502 $22.00

In Timber Ridge, North Carolina is home to the delicious A Slice of Delight pizza parlor owned by young widow Eleanor Swift. Although Eleanor misses her late husband and firmly believes there will never be another man for her, she loves her restaurant and those people who work there, her sister Maddy and students Gregg Hatcher and the son of the police chief Josh Hurley.

Gregg is the only one having problems at the moment. His grandparents left their entire estate to him and his older brother Wade; the siblings never got on as the older one was spoiled rotten by their parents while the younger was an ignored accidental afterthought. Wade demands Gregg sign over a part of his portion of the inheritance, but he refuses. They argue and fight in public. Soon afterward, Eleanor finds Wade's body in the kitchen of the pizza parlor. Police Chief Kevin Hurley wants to talk with Gregg, but he goes underground hiding while trying to figure out who killed his brother. He pleads his innocence with his employer although the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming including his former girlfriend Kay coming between the battling brothers. Eleanor investigates and finds several other suspects with strong motives including Katy and an expert at flinging the dough and perhaps into A Slice of Murder.

Pepperoni Pizza Can be Murder is a saucy cozy in which A Slice of Delight comes across as another key character. The charming story line contains a fun whodunit thanks to the cast as a grateful Eleanor is protective of her crew. Although her inquiry is typical of the sub-genre in which the amateur sleuth follows clues like following a recipe (aside one is included), which enables her to uncover the killer while the expected cop with modern day support fails, fans will enjoy a slice with a topping of homicide.

Wolf Tales 10
Kate Douglas
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758242662 $14.00

In Montana, Eve Reynolds knows that when she was a human she was a doormat; but now as a Chanku she has become a strong female. Her soulmate Adam ells her he loves her though both are upset that she remains non-pregnant. Eve drives to town but loses track of the road and crashes. Her last thought was a cry to Adam. Anton informs Adam Eve died. Adam blames himself for not going with her.

Eve wakes up to see the Goddess Liana and asks why she failed her, but gets no response. There is room for one Goddess and the Mother has selected Eve. She visits Adam while he sleeps and tells she has a new purpose and he must move on. Adam tries to commit suicide but Eve and Liana save his life. Eve tells Adam to teach Liana how to live as a mortal. Liana knows the pack loath her; she regrets not looking out for the Chanku.

Adam rages at everyone even his best friends Mei and Oliver before attacking her only to be assaulted and raped by him. Liana knows she failed Eve and deserves Adam's hatred though she loves him. The Chandu begin to see Liana's failures in new light. All forgive her except Adam. However, they work together as healers to include helping Igmutaka the spirit guide cougar. When Liana and Adam have sex she realizes she cannot stay with the Chanku any longer even as an inferno bears down on the lodge.

The story line refreshes the entire saga as a prime star dies with a super twist. As always the ensemble cast comes across as always as different fully developed characters in and out of the sex scenes; of which there are plenty of diverse trysts. Although the suspense is somewhat limited for what is expected of the Wolf Pack Big Sky romantic fantasy, readers will enjoy the latest entry in a strong saga.

Need Me
Shelli Stevens
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758235299 $14.00

Her mission on Belton is to steal semen for use on her all female adopted planet. Being a lethal warrior, Nika vows to insure a successful endeavor as her people need it.

Lieutenant Brendon Marshall is a sentinel watching over the planet's most valuable asset, seeds. Nika first attempt at the theft fails due to Brendon's diligence. Her superior orders her to seduce him in order to obtain the semen. They make love with both hotter than a sun. However, he soon realizes she is the semen thief he seeks so holds her in sexual bondage unaware that a bounty hunter seeks his "guest".

This is a heated erotic science fiction that readers will enjoy but must suspend credibility due to the actions of the guardian and the bounty hunter. Nika is a strong lead character as she does what it takes to accomplish her mission. Fans will wonder why Brendon fails to turn her over to authorities even if he has just had the most mind blowing sex of his life; thinking with the wrong head can get the right head castrated. Still, Need Me is an entertaining sci fi erotica.

The Devil She Knows
Diane Whiteside
Kensington Brava
9780758225177 $14.00

In 1880 her father puts unbelievable pressure on Portia Townsend to marry into the British aristocracy. Although she loves her Uncle William Donovan's friend Gareth Lowell whom she met two years earlier in San Francisco following her mom's death, he apparently does not return her regard. She weds the earl, St. Arles.

Five years of marital abuse ends when St. Arles divorces her based on a false charge of infidelity that a joyful Portia does not challenge. She travels to Constantinople where St. Arles demands she abet him in his efforts to overthrow the Ottoman Empire Sultan if she wants her freedom. Failing her the last time they met, Gareth rescues Portia and insists they marry until he can insure her safety; then they will obtain an annulment. As Portia and Gareth try to prevent St. Arles' revolutionary scheme from happening, she realizes her beloved loves her, but for some reason carries guilt that makes him believe he is undeserving of her.

The latest nineteenth century Devilish romance (see Southern Devil, Irish Devil, and Northern Devil) is an exciting around the world in several years thriller. The story line is action-packed as Gareth meets his match in feisty Portia. Although St. Arles is so over the top as a villain caricature that even his servants recognize him as such, fans of Diane Whiteside's Devil historicals will want to travel with the lead couple on their adventures.

Elizabeth Amber
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758241283 $14.00

In 1880 Rome, the Council orders tracker Dane Satyr to marry a human immediately. He would prefer not to, but understands what the Sickness does to his kind. Thus he puts aside his mission to hunt down illegal demonic immigrants crossing the barrier from ElseWorld; in order to visit the marriage broker who has found human spouses for some of his seemingly happily married peers. Thus Dane plans to hire Eva Delacorte to find him a wife.

Dane and Eva are instantly attracted to one another. However, she has a secret that if revealed could cause death to both of them. As they fall in love while she seeks the ideal mortal for her beloved, he searches for a sex slave mob buying and selling in European high society while enemies plot to use his Achilles' weakness to destroy his heart and ultimately him.

The latest Lords of Satyr historical romantic fantasy (see Nicholas, Raine, Lyon) moves forward the era from Regency to late Victorian with a refreshing female satyr. Fast-paced as always, the love and passion between the fully developed satyrs may prove lethal to both. Elizabeth Amber provides a wonderful br isk entry that expands her ElseWorld mythos.

I'll Be Slaying You
Cynthia Eden
Kensington Brava
9780758234308 $14.00

In Baton Rouge, Night Watch vampire slayer Sandra "Dee" Daniels stalks the night wearing pointed heels while seeking the undead. She is sworn to protect humanity from these predators. She is quite good at what she does until she meets Simon Chase as he makes her desire him.

Dee has learned she will be converted to a genetically altered human who dies and returns as a vampire. Her current mission is to prevent a rogue "born" again Master who has vamps fleeing him. She wants to stop the villain from turning the bayou into a red sea. However, as dangerous as that is, she feels the most perilous person to her well being is Simon; he shares her intense passion and ire. As each planned to use the other, neither anticipated the feelings that develop for each other; but stalking Baton Rouge remains the Born Master Vampire.

I'll Be Slaying You is a heated Bayou romantic fantasy as two individuals find their respective souls when they fall in love. Both understand the grim mission, but each hides something critical from their lover as trust does not come easy to either of them. Readers will enjoy the star-crossed romance between the vampire and the vampire slayer.

The Pirate
Katherine Garbera
Kensington Brava
9780758232120 $14.00

Former U.S. Navy SEAL J.P. Lazarus is used to a life of danger and not just from his military service days. A member of the Savage Seven he is currently piloting the Maersk Angus oil tanker in the Indian Ocean off Somalia trying to lure pirates into attacking his vessel although he has some concern about the safety of his human cargo.

On board the tanker are Doctors Across Waters civilian medical volunteers on a humanitarian mission. However, Laz's plans meet some problems as the pirates target Dr. Daphne Barrett, former wife of a U.S. senator and mother of his two sons. Adding to her distress from her ugly divorce is she is attracted to Lazarus who reciprocates her desire; both understand dealing with the deadly pirates come first.

The latest Savage Seven romantic suspense thriller (see The Mercenary) is a fast-paced tale that grips the audience from the opening encounter between the doctor and the operative. Although the underlying economic root causes of why pirates sail the sea off Somalia are not explored beyond the humanitarian mission, readers will enjoy the romance between the Savage and the Divorcee.

Ruthless Heart
Emma Lang
Kensington Brava
9780758247506 $14.00

In 1872 reticent intellect Eliza Hunter worries about her sister Angeline as her Papa has accepted a marriage offer from twice married Josiah who is also older than their dad. Being members of the Latter Day Saints, Angeline must obey her Papa though her heart belongs to Jonathan who is on his mission. Heartbroken Eliza knows crossing the powerful Josiah is dangerous, but vows to do something though she is unaware what she can do as within her community and family she is considered an outsider and her foe is a very important leader.

Several months later a married Angeline runs away from her brutal spouse. Eliza knows she will do anything to insure Angeline is safe, but hired bounty hunter Grady Wolfe is a bit taken aback when she follows him in the Utah Territory wilderness while he searches f or her sibling. Grady is unhappy that Eliza is on his trail, but for her safety takes her with him. He has no idea the meaning of what she says verbally and her obsession with her books that she drags across the territory, but somehow their nonverbal communication starting with kisses tells him what he needs to know. However, Grady has a secret that he must tell the woman he loves but fears how she will react; ironically she concealed her relationship to his target and now fears how he will react.

This superb Americana romance stars two wonderful lead characters who are pariahs in their respective circles. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the intrepid bookworm totes her favorite books with her while trailing after Grady. Fast-paced but character driven, fans will relish the entertaining taming of the Wolfe historical romance.

A.R. Silverberry
Tree Tunnel Press
9780984103768 $21.95

Aerdem Princess Jenren hears the whispers in the wind that warn her something horrific is coming. Out of fear for the safety of her family and friends, the princess runs back home. Her brother Prince Dash and his fiancee her BFF Bit take the omen seriously because they the malevolent Queen Naryfel is back. Her father tells them don't worry, be happy. In fact to affirm his belief he insists they all attend Count Pompahro's gala honoring the debut of Lady Vieveeka and Dash's birthday. Disaster strikes when someone abducts the queen and princess, and the king and prince are magically incarcerated in an odd tangle of branches that no one else can enter, nor the royal pair exit.

Jen tries to escape, but struggles to do so because she refuses to leave her mom behind. At the same time, though she still feels unworthy of Dash's love, reticent Bit, with the help of Countess Pet, seeks the one person who might be able to rescue her beloved fiance and her future father-in-law who are unaware what she needs to hope to succeed on her quest. Meanwhile Naryfel continues to move forward on her diabolical scheming.

The story line rotates subplots as Bit stars in trying to rescue the men and Jen tries to escape taking her mom with her. Both are excellent as the heroic females, so different in personality with one an introvert and the other an extrovert; personalize their particular quest to try to rescue their loved ones before dealing with the bigger threat of saving the kingdom from the evil queen. Wyndano's Cloak is a superb young adult fantasy.

The Koala Of Death
Betty Webb
Poisoned Pen
9781590587560 $24.95

On the Central California coast, from her houseboat the Merilee, Gunn zookeeper Theodora "Teddy" Bentley goes to feed Maureen the Otter only to find the body of the new Gunn Zoo Koala keeper Kate "Koala Kate" Nido floating in the Gunn Landing Harbor. However, she is stunned to realize her peer was strangled to death. Her boyfriend San Sebastian Sheriff Joe Rejas asks her questions and pleads with Teddy to stay out of the investigation. She cannot though she knows she should heed his advice. Everything points to other Gunn Zoo employees like her former boyfriend Outback Bill the marsupial keeper and Robin Chase the big cat keeper. Teddy also finds "liveboarders", an animal psychic and her serial married mom acting weird, which says a lot as this is an eccentric crew.

Her embezzling father remains on the lam from law enforcement. Finally with her motor to her houseboat needing repair, Teddy appears on a weekly live television show focusing on misbehaving animals such as Wanchu the koala and Abim the wallaby. All hell breaks loose on the set, on the Merilee and at the zoo compounded by a killer targeting Teddy.

Once again as with The Anteater of Death, the animals at the zoo and in the harbor in many ways mirror the zany idiosyncrasies of people. That underlying philosophy makes this amateur sleuth a terrific thriller as Joe tries to get Teddy to stay out of the inquiry as he assumes she is a former wealthy spoiled peacock used to getting her way until he realizes how wrong his assessment is as he knows they are penguins. This is a winner unless you are the person cleaning the animal habitats.

Did Not Survive
Ann Littlewood
Poisoned Pen
9781590587454 $24.95

At the Finley Memorial Zoo in Vancouver, Washington pregnant Iris Oakley is reassigned from her Big Cat keeper job to the birds. Iris finds administrator Kevin Wallace lying in blood and unconscious in the elephant barn. Hovering near him is Damrey the elephant. Iris manages to rescue Wallace, but is bewildered that gentle elderly Damrey would attack him.

Everyone assumes Damrey assaulted Kevin except Sam the elephant head keeper although no one can explain why the victim would be inside that barn or what he did to ignite Damrey's fury. At the same time while the humans ponder the elephant walk, Clouded Leopard gives birth. However, the zoo turns macabre when an animal corpse is stolen and other animals kidnapped while the elephant herd seems to have drawn angry animal activists and the keepers are fighting with each other.

The second Finley memorial Zoo amateur sleuth (see Night Kill) is an enjoyable mystery with a nice twist of Iris' "innocent" inquiries confusing the official investigation. The sleuthing is fun to follow, but the prime pleasure with Did Not Survive is the leisurely vivid descriptions of what goes on behind the scenes at a zoo.

Zombie Moon
Lori Devoti
Silhouette Nocturne
9780373618385 $5.25

Samantha Wagner wants to save her best friend Allison from the evil doctor. The madman is changing people into zombies that he controls. She has little hope of succeeding and in fact fears she will instead become another converted lost soul, but will not give up the fight.

Samantha believes she has a break when she meets werewolf zombie hunter Caleb Locke who lost his beloved family to the voracious zombie horde. She fools him into leaving with her. However, Caleb quickly figures out Samantha's ruse and gets her to confess why. He agrees to try to rescue Allison and others about to be changed, but is unable to persuade Samantha he should go it alone. As they work together, they fall in love, but he fears her reaction to learning what kind of monster he is

Zombie Moon is an exhilarating urban fantasy romance that takes off from the opening gun when the lead couple meet while encountering zombies by a dumpster and never decelerates as the pair risks their lives to try to save Allison and his "monsters" from a lunatic. Samantha and Caleb are courageous soulmates dedicated to their respective cause. Fans of zombie romantic suspense thrillers will appreciate this terrific tale as Caleb knows his inner monster recognizes just who Samantha is to him, but also believes revealing what he is will kill him because she will leave horrified by his revelation.

The Vampire's Kiss
Vivi Anna
Silhouette Nocturne
9780373618392 $5.25

In Nouveau Monde, NMPD investigator Olena Petrovich is excited as this is her first time on a case as the lead. She and her team look into the crime scene at the Nouveau Monde National Bank where people were put inside the vault before the safety deposit boxes were exploded apart. Thus when Interpol inspector Cale Braxton arrives to take command from her in solving a vampire homicide, Olena is fuming as she knows how rare her boss Inspector Gabriel Bellemonte delegates the lead. To make her even angrier is her attraction to Cale.

Olena is a professional so she will not hamper the case. They team up and follow clues starting with victim's plan to sell a computer virus, but backed away from doing so. The two law enforcement officials believe the non sale led to the murder. Making the case more complicated is their need to keep the witch niece of the vampire safe from the killers who think she might have what they demand

From start to finish the latest Otherworld police procedural fantasy romance (see is a terrific tale that continues the escapades in Europe's Nouveau Monde (see The Vampire's Quest) after leaving the States' Necropolis (Blood Secrets and Dark Lies). The story line is fast-paced but made to feel real as the Otherworld paranormal species and humans interact as if that is normal. The whodunit and why are cleverly designed as once again time is running out to prevent ruthless killers from murdering more innocents in their quest for something that eludes the two law enforcement officials chasing the villains and each other.

Grave New Day
Lina Gardiner
9781933417561 $14.00

Remorseful NYPD secret vampire Police Captain Jess Vandermire knows she owes John "Britt" Brittain who saved her life, but died doing so. Even though his body has not been found, she plans on giving Britt the best funeral send off she can. Jess also relooks hiding her existence and even her police work as that no longer feels the same to her.

Because she has a partial soul thanks to Regent her brother, Jess has a partial soul and so feels regret and guilt over Britt's death. She knows that makes her unique as other bloodsuckers kill without a second thought. Jess buries Britt's empty casket. The only other attendee is a stranger to her, Zeke who insists he is Britt's friend and has plenty to tell her about choice between returning to human being or remaining a vampire to fight an ancient evil threatening all humans. However; her police instincts tell her not to trust this informant while fearing failure to heed Zeke's guidance could mean mankind's extinction; adhering to it might mean the end anyway.

The third Vandermire Vampire Hunter is a fast-paced urban fantasy that grips fans of the series from the beginning to the cliffhanging climax that ties up some threads, but adds new danglers. Action-packed, the Gardiner universe expands but newcomers will be lost as this super saga must be read from the Grave start to fully comprehend what is happening especially to the heroine.

Hell's Warrior
Jaye Roycraft
9781933417554 $14.00

Less than two decades ago Chicago was in a bloody war between the humans and the vampires. The city's top vampire Che "Cade" Kincade managed to end the hostilities, but knows how quickly the streets can turn combative. Cade got Mayor Deborah Dayton elected as she ran on a peace platform and so far the blood has stopped flowing.

However, when Her Honor the Mayor is assassinated, Cade, who was receiving a donation from Red the blood whore, is blamed for her murder. He goes into hiding, avoiding the vampires of the city and CPD detectives seeking to arrest him. His loyal energetic assistant Thorvald Sweet the vampire and Red the human witness who can vouch for his alibi are with Cade as he moves from one place to another while trying to determine who wanted the peace movement ended. Cade and Red meet with a vocal anti-vampire group, but as they leave, violence erupts. Trusting no one, Cade continues his mission to keep his city from falling into a bloody conflation in honor of the late woman he loved.

All hell has broken loose in Chicago as it seems a new war is about to occur, but this time the heroic pair who ended the last combat are not there to stop the civil war. Ironically, Dayton's policy of inclusiveness divided the city. Rotating between Cade's fifteenth-year along the Illinois River in 1697 when he was different from his peers with a thirst to learn from the Black Robe with tomorrow's struggles to prove his innocence without harming Red while trying to prevent another cross species inferno. Jaye Roycraft crafts a fangulous sequel to the fangtastic Half Past Hell.

Blood Curse
Crystal-Rain Love
9781933417059 $14.00

Vampire hunter Aria Michaels a mortal has dreamed of the same man for years. Lately her nocturnal fantasies have become so heated; they feel real to her leaving her wet with desire. He is Aria's hope in an ugly filled world in which demons devastate the realm and vampires struggle to prevent them from doing so.

Rialto Renaldi believes the prophecy of Hope is a child's inane fantasy. He rejects the Blood Revelation, which claims a vampire and his true mate will bring forth a child that will become a light to counter the growing darkness; in his mind the world is beyond saving. Rialto's mother knows in her heart that her son and Aria are the prophetic pair. However, they would be star-crossed lovers as she hunts his kind ever since a vampire killed her mother.

In spite of the author's upbeat name, the world of Crystal-Rain Love to quote Marmalade in Reflections of My Life: "The world is a bad place... A terrible place to live" as this realm is dark and evil even with the light of love flickering to life. Fast-paced throughout starting with the iconic search for Poe's cottage near Baltimore's Inner Harbor the audience will enjoy the pair denying their feelings as she plans to use the star of her nocturnal dreams to enable her to hunt down her mother's predator; and he wants to avoid the human his mom insists will fulfill the prophecy with him. This is an entertaining "Charm City" romantic urban fantasy as each will learn that there are much nastier things out there.

Under Her Spell
J. A. Ferguson
9781933417424 $14.00

In 1897 the Amazing Nightingales travel the circuit as Roland the magician performs with his sister Madeleine as his assistant. They go from small town to even smaller villages while Roland dreams of making it in London. Though she wants her sibling to be happy, she realistically knows he lacks their late father's prestidigitator skills.

At a performance in Kent, Madeleine's distraction makes Roland look more inept than usual, as she is sidetracked by attendee Christopher Sheffield. He is hosting a Faire at Sheffield Priory to extensively celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, but in fact to introduce his rustic mom to his London mistress Allegra to make his life easier. She learns that Gilbert Birmingham owner of London's Birmingham theater will attend the Sheffield Faire so she wants to attend hoping her brother will gain his dream. As Christopher forgets his mistress and even his mom, he wants Madeleine ever since he stole a kiss that has placed him Under Her Spell. She is attracted to him, but knows he will hurt her when he magically disappears from her life even as she magically heals his mom's aching joints, his niece-ward's aching loneliness and his forlorn heart yet ironically Roland and Allegra seem to connect.

This is a fun lighthearted late Victorian paranormal romance starring a woman with real magical healing skills concealed as the assistant to her untalented unaccountable brother in his magical act and an aristocrat who simply finds himself Under Her Spell. Fast-paced with a touch of irony fans will enjoy the lower class healer and the noble falling in love, but illusion comes naturally to her and he will soon bitterly learn other loved ones too.

Mourn the Living
Henry Perez
9780786020331 $6.99

Gilley did not like his mother's new boyfriend and his instincts were affirmed when he found his mom dead from a knife cut so deeply across her throat her head almost fell off. When Gilley becomes an adult he travels from city to city killing people he felt deserved death for harming others; especially children. Next to each body he leaves behind a stick figure drawn somewhere near the body

The serial killing avenger uses different names as the wanderer who somehow blends in whatever surroundings he enters. He arrives in Oakton, Illinois where his target is reporter Jim Chickowski who has connected the dots, but becomes the next victim. Chicago record reporter Alex Chapa follows up on Jim's story, which he realizes could be the story of the decade as an avenging serial killer has wandered the nation for years. However, the journalist remains unaware that his psychopathic target is targeting him through his loved ones.

Henry Perez writes a fascinating chilling serial killer thriller that is loaded with action, but fully develops the hero who spent more time working than with his daughter he has not seen in years. Chapa is dedicated but gives up much as he cares more for the story more than his loved ones. Ironically, the antagonist he chases teaches him a values lesson as the killer knows first hand what it does to the soul to lose a loved one to a brutal predator. The psychopath makes the story as a raging avenger accepting collateral kills of the innocent as a normal way of life.

Murder At Timber Bridge
KD Easley
NukeWorks Publishing
9780982529492 $9.99

In Alden while playing paint ball war with her brother, her teen lover, and her twin sons, Randi Black trips over the corpse of a female. Her brothers Steve and Chad and her teen lover AJ, cops on the Alden PD take charge of the crime scene.

Randi figures she has enough on her plate as she raises her teenage sons, works at her ex husband's bar, the neighbor's cat and AJ who wants a second chance. She still loves AJ but he left her over two decades ago without a look back. She helps the cops with their investigation, but insists they look into the odd bar customer with the cowboy hat and one of their own Jody the cop who is harassing her. Her siblings agree about the cowboy but believe their sister proves "Nothing Much Has Changed" since they were teens protecting her from the boys. Still as they, AJ and other testosterone hunks protect her and Wilson her bedmate canine, another homicide o ccurs in which she trips over the corpse while at the paint ball war.

Although Randi and the horde of men in her lives seem to all have their act together, readers will enjoy this terrific police procedural due to what happens to the heroine. Her brothers have a difficult time accepting Jody harassing her as he is a charming sociopath (though they could have done what Randi did by contacting a female police officer cousin who worked with this nasty person). The whodunit is great with a terrific twist and several delightful red herrings; as Randi (who is in Nine Kinds of Trouble) and readers will wonder whether the stranger-cowboy or Jody is the serial killer.

Night Myst
Yasmine Galenorn
9780515148145 $7.99

With the murder of Marta the witch whose throat was ripped apart and the death two years ago of her mother Krystal, Cicily Walters can come home as her reawakening wolf wants to. She inherits Marta's magic business. This would mean finally returning to her hometown New Forest, Washington after two decades on the road with mom. Reluctantly, she feels the time is right.

In New Forest, something strange is happening to the magic born. They are either dying or vanishing. The NFPD ignores what is going on to some of the citizens as does the vampire overlord. Worse, Cicily senses a different nefarious shadow lingering as fear owns the Cascades town. Cicily's friend, Fae prince Grieve tells her to leave if she is smart and her aunt has been abducted and allegedly has become a blood thrall to the vampires; if she still lives. Not heeding Grieve's advice, Cicily fights back but the fae-vampires are coming for her too.

The first Indigo Court urban fantasy is an entertaining tale that introduces the reader to a world filled with mythological species and magic. Cicily is a solid person who has doubts about coming home after her mom fled town with her as a child and replacing Marta. However, the rest of the cast feels overwhelmed by too much insight into the rules of magic and what each paranormal species can do. Still the opening supernatural war is fun to read. Myst has begun the end of days that will leave her ruling the world.

Stone's Fall
Iain Pears
Spiegel & Grau
9780385522854 $16.00

In 1909 London, wealthy businessman Baron John Stone falls from his mansion's study window to his death. His will names a daughter as receiving part of his legacy. His younger Widow Elizabeth is stunned because John never mentioned having any children. She hires reporter Matthew Braddock to find her stepdaughter.

In 1890 Paris, spy Henry Cort knows Elizabeth. He considers her the greatest performer of all times as she can get into any role and fool even espionage agents used to masquerades. As the reporter who has fallen in lo ve with his client and Stone who loved his wife, wonder as much as Cort who also loved the many faces of this siren, just who the real Elizabeth is.

Stone's Fall is a clever fascinating historical espionage twisting thriller that grips the audience with a need to know more about the convoluted Elizabeth just like the enthralled males in her complicated life that makes the DNA helix look elementary, my dear reader. Even with changes subtly in narration, the story line is fast-paced although it tends to decelerate during financial discussions. Fans will enjoy this convoluted espionage thriller as mass production of weapons of war are connected through the years by the charming Elizabeth and the men who want her.

Catching Hell
Greg Gifune, author
Jill Bauman, illustrator
Cemetery Dance
9781587671913 $30.00

In 1983 the summer stock season on Cape Cod is over. Three actors and a stagehand drive a 1967 Ford from the Cape to Maine; a six to seven hour drive as a respite before New York City theater or college. On a lonely stretch of I-95 in Maine heading to Banger, the quartet (Billy, Stefan, Alex, and Tory) are hammered by an odd violent storm that comes out of nowhere and seems to attack their Fairlane. Then a bird crashes into the windshield leaving behind blood, no corpse and Billy believing it is the harbinger of death.

They exit in Boxer Hills, population 108. None of the fearless foursome expected anything beyond a small rustic village. Instead they find what appears to be a ghost town stuck in the Truman-Eisenhower Era. They soon learn to escape from Boxer Hills means surviving until the sun rises. This village is where seventeenth century rituals wrought a malevolence that in the late twentieth century still welcomes guests permanently.

This is a terrific horror thriller that starts a bit slow ironically while driving on I-95, but once the quartet leave the Interstate for a rural stop, the pace accelerates into hyperspeed as the protagonists are not just Catching Hell, they seem in hell. Readers will feel they are caught in the middle of this tense horror thriller enhanced by the B&W drawings as Boxer Hills is a Maine version of the Hotel California; once you're inside, you never leave; the four friends learn the only out is death or survive until the sun rises following a night of evil.

The Secrets of Newberry
Victor McGlothin
Grand Central
9780446178136 $13.99

In 1955 in Newberry in St. Bernard Parrish, Louisiana, mulatto Ivory "Bones" Arcineaux and black Hampton Bynote meet in the antebellum Twin Cedars Casino, an illegal gambling house. They team up as cat burglars in the nearby French Quarter. Back in St. Bernard their occupation allows them the best of women as they can afford to indulge. That changes at the Funky Butt Dance Halls when Bynote meets and falls in love with Magnolia Holi day. However, their latest robbery goes bad leaving New Orleans Councilman Huey Boytte dead; killed by Bones. NOPD tries to prove the black partner did the homicide, but settle on a lesser felon that leaves Bones free and Hampton doing fourteen months.

In 1971, Hampton and Magnolia raise a family together as he has gone scared straight since being released from prison. He loves Magnolia and their two daughters. However, his quiet family world is threatened when his former cat burger partner arrives with a job for the two of the. With Bones also comes violent criminals and even nastier people who menace his loved ones.

The setting makes for a fabulous historical thriller that uses crime to enable the reader to compare two eras (near the beginning and near the end of the active Civil Rights movement). The audience sees how various subcultures perceive relationships in 1955 and in 1971 as Victor McGlothin purposely uses stereotypical beliefs to enhance the deep story line.

James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Grand Central
9780446561365 $14.99

He left LAPD to become a reporter and writer while also still performing limited inquiries. Currently LA Times reporter Ben Hawkins is in Hawaii investigating the disappearance of model Kim McDaniels. He meets with Kim's hysterical parents who offer very little in the way of leads.

The former police detective fears for Kim's life as he believes brutal serial killer Henri Benoit has captured her for whatever fiendish ritual he will perform. Returning unsuccessfully to Southern California, Ben is stunned when Henri offers him a deal he cannot refuse. Ben will write Henri's authorized biography in exchange for allowing the ex cop and his girlfriend to live.

Not their best collaboration (see the Women's Murder Club series for that), the fascination with this serial killer thriller lies totally with the psychopath as he relates his murderous escapades; in some ways the plot feels like an autobiography of I am killer. Hawkins and company come across feeble and frightened in a game of chess in which the brilliant madman checkmates the hero more often than Fischer did Spassky in Iceland. Although an over the top of the Sierras abrupt too neat climax occurs, readers who enjoy something different will appreciate Swimsuit.

The Capitol Game
Brian Haig
Grand Central
9780446195614 $25.99

At Caldron Security equity firm, no one has risen to the ranks of partner and senior vice president as fast as Jack Wiley has. The Wall Street guru thinks he has a great deal to set up as Arvan Chemicals is ripe for the taking. Jack approaches the Capitol Group with the opportunity to purchase Arvan to gain hold of their patent that enables the painting of polymer coating to make combat vehicles impenetrable.

The company legally owning the product will make billions as the Pentagon will save so much more by not having as much replacement buys. The Capitol Group takes over Arvan; however harvesting the return on investment in a short turnaround proves unmanageable as the Pentagon investigates in order to find a civilian to take the incoming hit.

The Capital Game will be short-listed as one of the best financial thrillers of the year. The key to this super tale is the deal as Brian Haig escorts the grateful reader through a critical path analysis leading to the project failure and the blame game as the top brass at the defense Department, Caldron Security and the Capitol Group need a fall guy to pin the tail onto the donkey. This is a winning suspense laden tale.

Death In Zooville
Carla Damron
BellaRosa Books
9781933523897 $14.95

In South Carolina, with the permission of his boss Dr. Matthew Ryker, Caleb Knowles performs volunteer social services at the understaffed Safe Harbor Center for the homeless. Besides the difficult clientele, Caleb fears the city leadership has plans to dislodge the homeless for an urban development project. Finally he misses his wife who is in Maine caring for her injured father and the family farm. He and Recovery Director Henry Rudd deal with a fire starter homeless schizophrenic W yman Carter in a potentially nasty incident.

When murders occur including Caleb's intern, the local officials have their excuse to destroy the homeless tent city Zooville and close Safe Harbor; as they blame the homeless for the killings. Police Detective Claudia Briscoe leads the investigation in which Caleb is a prime suspect. Caleb, his deaf brother Sam the renowned artist and Henry team up as an inferno engulfs them and the homeless.

Death in Zooville is a great whodunit that spotlights the homeless societal problem. The engrossing story line provides a profound look at a complex social issue that has been around for decades in places like the Bowery in NYC but exploded during the Reagan Era as displace the homeless is the typical solution. The murder mystery is super, but it is the insightful glimpse at the homeless that makes for a strong Caleb Knowles thriller (see Spider Blue and Keeping Silent).

The Viognier Vendetta
Ellen Crosby
9781439163863 $24.00

Twelve years have passed since vintner Lucie Montgomery heard from her former best friend at college Rebecca Natale. So she is understandably shocked when Rachel calls her and asks to meet her in Washington DC. She will put her up at a ni ce hotel that she can afford since she is the protege of billionaire investor Sir Thomas Asher.

Lucie arrives at the hotel, but is told to meet Rebecca at the Lincoln memorial. The Virginia vintner knows Rebecca wants something from her, but cannot fathom what that could be. Rebecca stuns Lucie further when al l she asks is for her friend to come to the showing of Asher donating his document collection to the Library of Congress. Lucie agrees to attend and Rebecca buys postcards before saying bye. Soon after their meeting, Rebecca vanishes with a valuables antique stolen during the ransacking of the White House in the War of 1812. Meanwhile whistle blower Ian Phillips, who insisted Asher's investments are a Ponzi scheme fraud, is found dead. Lucie believes Rebecca's disappearance is tied to the murder. Assuming that Rebecca is dead too, Lucie tries to decipher the messages her friend sent to her.

Readers will toast Ellen Crosby with her delightfully tasty wine country mystery (see The Riesling Retribution) that combines headlines with the DC historical. In spite of knowing that Phillips and probably Natale were murdered, intrepid Lucie investigates seeking to uncover clues her best friend at school left buried for her. The Viognier Vendetta is the valiant vintner at her best.

Family Ties
Danielle Steel
9780385343169 $28.00

Twenty-six year old architect Annie Ferguson looks forward to starting on her new job and living in Manhattan with her boyfriend Seth. As she is euphoric and confident about the changes in her life, she thought nothing about her vow to be the guardian of her two nieces and nephew she made to her sister Jane. That is until Jane and her husband Bill die in a plane crash, so Annie raises the three preadolescent children (Liz, Ted and Katie). Seth cannot deal with the change so ends their relationship.

Sixteen years later, Annie raised her wards with love while running a successful architectural firm. Ted attends law school, Katie is studying design at college; and Liz is a globetrotting Vogue editor. When Annie sprains her ankle, she goes to the emergency room where she meets TV news anchor Tom. Katie drops out of Pratt to work at a tattoo parlor while traveling to Teheran with her Iranian-American boyfriend Paul. Liz's French lover Jean-Louis seems back with his former lover Francoise, the mother of his child. Ted has a tryst with his older law professor, but when he tries to end their sexual relationship, Pattie stabs him in the hand.

This intriguing family drama is an enjoyable contemporary as the aunt of the three orphaned children proves she is A Good Woman when she takes over raising them with the deaths of their parents. The tale contains way too much angst keeping the four subplots from gelling into a cohesive story line, but instead competes for the lead. Still fans will enjoy Danielle Steel's latest as the strong cast makes the case that family is the ultimate proof of chaos theory.

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden
Helen Grant
9780385344173 $24.00

In December 1998 at the family Advent Dinner, the extended Kolvenbach clan is a happy group living in Bad Munstereifel, Germany. However, the idyllic life abruptly ends at that Advent when the paternal Oma (grandmother) Kristel Kolvenbach accidentally sets herself ablaze; dying from her burns.

Oma's granddaughter ten years old Pia becomes a pariah as rumors spread that her grandma exploded; Pia believes it was spontaneous combustion, but either way the impact on her is shunning. The only person at school willing to be seen with Pia the outcast is Stefen "StinkStefan" Brauer, who has no friends and welcomes an exile. They visit elderly Herr Schiller who regales them with ghost stories as the pair of tweeners investigates the disappearance of a number of girls over the years including the recent Vanishing of Katharina Linden.

This is an entertaining odd thriller starring two ostracized tweeners investigating the missing young girls of Bad Munstereifel. However, though the whodunit is clever, it is the small town superstitions that are defense mechanisms of parents protecting their children from the unknown that makes the tale super. This how Pia becomes shunned by people she has known and played with all her life. Helen Grant provides a deep psychological amateur sleuth suspense.

Courtesan's Kiss
Mary Blayney
9780553593136 $7.99

In 1819, the fickle Ton blames Mia Castellano for her broken engagement although her fiance is totally at fault; logic never intrudes on the gossip. Surprisingly, she finds being ostracized as liberating as being able to say no. Mia wants the freedom to choose her lovers and declaring no to those she does not desire. Her only way to achieve total freedom is as a courtesan.

His brother the Duke of Meryon (see Stranger's Kiss) has asked Lord David Pennistan to escort Mia to see his wife, her guardian, in Derbyshire. Along the journey, trouble is the norm for the pair, but the most troublesome is their growing attraction that neither wants. When they end up compromised he offers marriage, she rejects him. David must persuade Mia he loves her and marriage will free her even more than being a fallen woman.

The forth "Kiss" Pennistan Regency romance (see Traitor's Kiss and Lover's Kiss) is a terrific entry. The table is set early as Mia makes it clear to her escort what her future is. Although the theme of a woman struggling between love and independence is not new, Mary Blayney uses the courtesan role as a fresh liberator that focuses on how limited female choices were amidst the aristocracy.

Beautiful Malice
Rebecca James
9780553808056 $25.00

During lunch at a Sydney high school, popular Alice Parrie invites a stunned bookworm Katherine to attend her eighteenth birthday bash. Alice explains it was the way Katherine ripped the skin off Dan Johnson for being nasty and little when a nervous woman gave a talk about the future.

Four years plus since the party that changed her life and her surname, Katherine prays no one learns just who single mom Katherine Boydell raising Sarah was once. The tragedy of Alice is too mindful of the tragedies of Katherine's murdered sister Rachel and Sarah's father Mick; as the flamboyant teen drew out the dark secrets of her reticent new BFF. Thus then pregnant Katherine Boydell nee Patterson failed to attend Alice's funeral; she believes Aunt Philippa is at her side encouraging her to move passed the lingering grief she feels.

This is an odd exciting psychological thriller starting with the opening stunning hook "I didn't go to Alice's funeral. I was pregnant at the time, crazy and wild with grief". From that moment readers will want to know who Katherine is and what did happen to all those in her sphere who died. Rotating between the present and four years ago, readers who appreciate a character driven thriller with limited action will want to know what happened to Katherine four years ago.

Sweetwater Burning
Heather Sharfeddin
9780385341288 $15.00

In Sweetwater, Idaho, introspective fortyish sheep rancher Chas McPherson prefers being left alone caring for his blackbellies. However, when his dying father Franklin, a fiery brimstone preacher no longer can take care of himself due to advanced Parkinson, Chas places an ad for hom e care help. Nurse, Mattie Holden responds willing to arrive from Spokane in two days and even help with the cooking.

A petition circulates to change the Christmas gala at the public school to an inclusive holiday celebration. Soon afterward, the townsfolk accuse taciturn Chas, as a chip off his dad's burn in hell preaching, of arson because the victims, the Teleghanis, are the only Muslim family in Sweetwater. His refusal to acknowledge the accusations except with the sheriff add to fuel of those who believe he did the deed. Meanwhile, Mattie makes the ranch more humanly livable with small feminine mystiques; she struggles with addiction and her growing fear that her patient can look deep inside a person's soul to witness their sins. As the sheep rancher and the nur se find succor and perhaps love with one another, a reckoning is coming to Sweetwater.

This is a strong character driven psychological thriller with a slight flavoring pinch of the paranormal. The story line focuses on the remote locale with readers feeling a strong sense of being in Sweetwater especially at the ranch as Heather Sharfeddin gets inside the minds of the locals after the arson occurs. Although the loving affair between the rancher and the nurse is well written, it seems a forced requirement that subtracts from the lonely existence of ranching in Idaho. Still overall Sweetwater Burning is a powerful rural small town suspense thriller as the sins of the father are bestowed on the son.

Charlie St. Cloud
Ben Sherwood
9780553386936 $15.00

In 1991 in Marblehead, Massachusetts fifteen years old Charlie St. Cloud and his twelve years old brother Sam steal a neighbor's station wagon to go to the Red Sox game. They have a good time at the ball park, but on the way home while crossing the Saugus River, Charlie crashes the vehicle; both die, but the emergency crew revives the teen. Sam is buried in the Marblehead cemetery.

Thirteen years later, Charlie is the caretaker at the Waterside Cemetery where his sibling is buried. Every night the St. Cloud brothers play catch as Sam delays leaving for heaven. When Charlie and Tess Carroll meet at the cemetery they are attracted to one another. She plans to sail around the world solo, but soon after their terrific date, her vessel is lost at sea. Charlie realizes the rescue team has failed to save her as he watches her spirit fade away while wondering what he can do.

This is a reprint of an engaging character study that focuses on relationships after a loved one dies and how much the living is obligated to deceased loved ones; especially since the person left behind loses a bit of themselves, but more so when they are a catalyst in a tragedy. The first half is as terrific and insightful a tale as this reviewer has read this year. However, the plot takes a weird turn with a couple of unnecessary twists that add tension, but destroy Sherwoodian after life physics. Still this is a fabulous tale that focuses on the debt of those alive owe to those who have died as Charlie, Tess and Sam make a fascinating macabre triangle (even if the brothers are Red Sox fans as I am from the Bronx).

A Vintage Affair
Isabel Wolff
9780553807837 $25.00

In 1983 in London preadolescents Emma Kitts and Phoebe Swift meet at primary school in the Blackheath neighborhood. They become best friends. As adults they remained BFFs until Phoebe becomes engaged to the man Emma has fallen in love with. Not paying attention to Emma's needs, Phoebe is not there for her when her buddy dies. Feeling guilt and remorse, Phoebe ends her engagement and q uits her job at Sotheby and goes after her dream.

Phoebe loves vintage clothing so she opens up a boutique in Blackheath. Her shop is a success and she loses herself imagining the history of the garments she sells. Elderly Mrs. Bell commissions Phoebe to sell her entire wardrobe. Fascinated by what the elderly woman tells her about failing her best friend, a Jew, during the Nazi occupation of France, Phoebe begins to heal by forgiving herself for failing Emma. She even has two boyfriends; her first since dumping her fiance.

A Vintage Affair is an enjoyable British contemporary character study that focuses on history repeating it self at the individual level as Phoebe, Mrs. Bell and readers learn that betrayal, guilt, grief and self forgiveness are recurring human traits. The story line effortlessly moves back and forth in time as the theme is affirmed in each subplot. Although the key males come across as emaciated, readers will appreciate visiting Blackheath as redemption seems just around the corner of the person seeking solace.

When You Least Expect It
Whitney Gaskell
9780553386271 $15.00

In West Palm beach, Florida, India and Jeremy Halloway love each other. Each believes their life together is perfect except for the inability to have a baby. For two years they have tried fertility treatments that have only left them financially poorer. They have given up on the enhanced natural way and opt for adoption.

Homeless twentyish Lainey Walker is pregnant with no options for herself or the baby she carries as her boyfriend Trav kicked her to the street. She meets the Halloway couple and decides they are perfect to raise her child. They give her a place to stay and pay the medical bills. All is perfect until the chaos of birth.

This is a well written character study that rotates between the three prime players; each comes across genuine and ergo makes for a strong drama. Lainey especially is terrific as she knows she will never fill the hole in her heart, but sees few other options for her unborn to have a wonderful life. Readers will appreciate When You least Expect it as the cast provides a powerful poignant look at real choices people, especially women, have.

Shadow Bound
Erin Kellison
9780505528292 $7.99

In Appalachia, West Virginia, Adam Thorne is an obsessive dreamer wanting his Segue Institute to succeed. He has put up his vast inheritance to fund the foundation and backed that with time. His personal goal is to kill his brother Jacob a former CEO turned wraith; who he has incarcerated for six years with little success; while the institutes' mission is to study vampiric wraiths.

Adam believes he has found the solution in Talia O'Brien who suffered a near death experience. She has the uncanny paranormal ability to cloak herself in the darkness so that neither humans nor wraiths can detect her. However, she must learn to use her ability, but loathes applying it as she detests being different. Adam mentors Talia but conceals from her is motive with a caring nurturing veneer.

This is a fascinating urban romantic fantasy starring an obsessed lead male and the woman he plans to use as a tool to achieve his immediate objective of fratricide though he knows his sibling is no longer human. The story line is fast-paced, but the criticality that makes it fun to read is that wraiths and an enigmatic Shadowman seen genuine. Fans will relish this entertaining tale as Adam begins to fall in love with his latest weapon to kill his wraith sibling.

Sparrow Rock
Nate Kenyon
9780843963779 $7.99

Scott Myers bought Sparrow Rock, a barrier island where he built a bomb shelter. One day while a high school gang of teens smoked reefer and bitched about life, his granddaughter Big Sue mentioned she knew how to get inside. Jay enters first followed by Dan, Big Sue, Tessa, Jimmie and Pete.

While inside, they feel a slight tremor. The TV and cell phones fail and they soon realize nuclear Armageddon has occurred. They have food, water, a power source, and protection from the radioactive fall out. What they don't have is information re the surface or what joined them in their underground bunker. Those who crawl out of the bunker soon learn the surface is an ecological horror story.

This is an exciting post nuclear holocaust thriller that grips readers once Dan realizes what occurred and shuts the hatch. The story line is fast-paced especially as a diabolical sinister adversary leaves the teens distrustful of one another as they are not immune to death. Although the pack is stereotypical until a late twist spins two of them from the mold, fans will enjoy Nate Kenyon's taut teen thriller.

Dangerous Desires
Dee Davis
9780446542043 $6.99

Drake Flynn distrusts women. He wants nothing to do with females as all they do is betray men and, for that matter, women too. Thus he wants to refuse his assignment to rescue Madeline Reynard from a Columbian drug cartel, but he end up doing the mission.

Drake is stunned by his attraction to Madeline. Still she worked for a drug lord and her gender adds to his distrust of her. Madeline has spent much of her life trying to save her sister. This has meant going to San Mateo Prison in Colombia and working for an abusive crime lord. When her drug addicted sibling Jenny dies, Madeline wants out so she flees and ends up with D rake. She distrusts men as much as he distrusts women; still he is her only hope out, but she also knows he loathes wanting her. As they trek through the jungle to a rendezvous rescue point, Drake suspects she will betray him to her former employer to save her skin if circumstances warrant it.

The latest A-Tac "Dee-lightful" romantic suspense (see Dark Deception) is a fast-paced, exciting action-packed jungle adventure. The lead couple makes the thriller fun as each is a misanthrope trusting no one and expecting their associate on the run to betray them at the first opportunity. Filled with plenty of twists and spins, fans will want to join (as an armchair potato) Drake and Madeline as they flee for their loves.

Barely A Lady
Eileen Dreyer
9780446542081 $6.99

Olivia lost her standing in polite society following her divorce from the Duke of Gracechurch. The scandal left Grace with few options. Currently she is a stay out of the Ton's way companion with a young son.

She accompanies her employer Mrs. Bottomly and her three daughters to Brussels where much of the Ton has temporarily relocated from London as the war heats up in nearby Waterloo. Once the battle ends, Olivia tries to help the wounded when she finds her former husband Jack, lying unconscious wearing the enemy's uniform. Stunned that Jack would betray their country, she nurses him, but he has limited amnesia; unaware of what he or Olivia has done for the last five years; in fact he believes they remain married. She pretends to be his wife in order to learn if her ex is a traitor. As they fall back in love, someone lurks in the shadows ready to destroy both of them.

Barely a Lady is a thrilling Regency romance with an intriguing beginning as the Ton has relocated to be near the battlefield, but the galas continue even with blood flowing. In fairness some of the nobles die during the battle, others like Jack are inured and some of the ladies volunteer to help. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Olivia finds Jack and never slows down. Although amnesia is a frequently used matchmaking mechanism, Eileen Dreyer keeps her plot fresh with the underlying question of whether he is a traitor.

Tempting A Proper Lady
Debra Mullins
9780061882494 $7.99

In 1876 in London, Cilla Burke works for wealthy American Dolly Bailey as her personal assistant. She wants to do the best job possible for her employer. When Samuel Breedlove crashes the engagement party of Dolly's daughter Annabelle to the Duke of Raventhorpe, Cilla intervenes; demanding he leave.

Samuel is stunned as the duke left him marooned on an island and now is marrying his beloved. He will do what it takes to destroy the blackguard and get his woman back as Breedlove will not allow Hurricane Cilla from stopping him. As they battle and fuss, the pair falls in love; however what allies them is not the heart, but Cilla now believes Samuel's contention. She unites with her beloved enemy to rescue her employer's daughter from the monster she is to marry.

This is an amusing yet also tense Victorian romance starring a strong cast. The lead characters are a likable pair, but he no longer believes in love and she feels guilt over falling in love with Annabelle's sweetheart. While the vile villain has no redeeming qualities, historical fans will enjoy this jocular suspense thriller while wondering if Samuel will realize he can still love somebody in spite of his ordeal.

Tatiana and Alexander
Paullina Simons
9780061987465 $15.99

In 1941 eighteen year old Tatiana Metanova and Red Army Officer Alexander Belov met and fell in love (see The Bronze Horseman). She becomes pregnant while he goes off to fight Hitler's army. Tatiana believes her beloved died so as a single mom widow manages to get to Ellis Island via Scandinavia and the across the Atlantic. Tatiana changes her name to Jane Barrington and gets a position as a nurse on Ellis Island while also raising her son Anthony, but misses her beloved Alexander

Meanwhile Stalin's Secret Police arrests Alexander who is accused of being a traitor. He is sentenced to die. He looks back ironically to when his father, a communist believer, left a nice middle class existence in America to relocate the family in Stalin's impoverished Russia. However, those thoughts add to his pain. Only remembering his beloved Tatiana keeps him going through the torture and the expectation of death.

The sequel to The Bronze Horseman changes perspective from Tatiana's vivid descriptions of the horrors of war especially the Battle of Leningrad with her one light being Alexander; to his bleak tale of all's deadly on the German front especially his only stay of execution being the lead of a suicide mission with his one light being Tatiana. The terrific story line uses the atrocities of war as the backdrop to the human spirit when love can overcome so much. Tatiana and Alexander is a love story that tugs at the heartstrings.

A Family Affair
Caro Peacock
9780061447495 $13.99

In 1839 Conservative MP Benjamin Disraeli asks private sleuth Liberty Lane for some assistance. He wants to hire her to investigate the claims of Lady Sophia Brinkburn. The aristocratic lady's husband is dying while she insists the heir to the Brinkburn title Stephen is illegitimate so cannot claim the estate; if true the younger brother Miles will inherit all.

Lane goes undercover, renting a cottage near the Brinkburn estate. She meets Lady Brinkburn, but is stunned as the woman is amiable and obviously mentally competent. Thus the motive to destroy her family's reputation including her own with this scandal remains out of reach. However, the situation takes an odd twist when someone appears to have murdered the family retainer and Lady Brinkburn.

The latest Lane historical mystery (see A Foreign Affair and A Dangerous Affair) is an enjoyable brisk thriller that starts off with a jousting between the Brinkburn siblings and never slows down. Even with the fast pace and a delightful surprising twist, readers also obtain a deep look at the early Victorian era when mass transportation changes society. However, this strong nineteenth century thriller belongs to Ms. Lane who's in her top sleuthing form as her inquiry tu rns from legitimacy to homicide.

Rapture Untamed
Pamela Palmer
9780061794704 $7.99

The draden drain the life force of the Therians when they can. Feral Warriors risk their lives to protect the Therians from the draden. In 1433 the draden attacked a Therian stronghold in the Scottish Highlands as the protective spell fails due to the Mage stealing it. A young girl Olivia is the only survivor of the attack; no draden survived either due to her being changed by being draden-kissed. Olivia now can siphon off the life force energy of others just like the draden but not kill her source unlike the draden. Her dad warns her to conceal her change from everyone as the Therians and the draden will kill her.

Centuries later, Jag the shapeshifting Feral Warrior who works alone is teamed up with Olivia to hunt daemons stalking the mortals. Both are unhappy with the attraction between them. He because he wants no one and she because she fears being outed and what she can do to someone even a loved one as she learned when she almost killed her father five centuries ago. Jag learns the secret of his courageous partner, but as she fears what he will do she wonders whether he will expose, kill, or protect the woman he loves.

The fourth Feral Warriors "untamed" romantic urban fantasy (see Passion Untamed, Desire Untamed and Obsession Untamed) is a fast-paced and exciting entry filled with plenty of action and passion. As with the previous tale in which Feral Warrior Paenther's back-story was told, the audience obtains a bit of what happened to Olivia, her mom, other Therians and the dreaded Draden on that fateful lethal attack in the fifteenth century. Readers will, enjoy Jag's dilemma wondering what he will choose.

The Brazen Bride
Stephanie Laurens
9780061795176 $7.99

In 1822, Logan Monteith and three others fled Bombay using four different routes to reach England with information that will destroy a traitor to the Cr own. Only one of the four has the genuine proof, but the Black Cobra Cult must go after each one as they have no way of knowing who carries the real evidence.

Logan reaches Lisbon, a hot bed of Black Cobra Cult agents waiting for him. He manages to get on the Heloise Leger, a Portuguese merchant vessel bound for Portsmouth, but in the English Channel they run into trouble from the weather and from cult assassins.

On Guernsey, another shipwreck leaves many dead with one survivor. Linnet Trevission takes in the amnesiac and heals his other injuries. He admires her courage and skills, but as his memory returns he knows he must complete the mission. However having been seen with Linnet by the Black Cobra assassins, he takes her with him as he travels to the estate of the Duke of Wolvestone.

The late Regency romantic suspense story line is refreshed by having most of the adventure in England yet also contains constant exciting action as the tough yet seemingly inept Cult mount attack after attack. Fast-paced throughout, fans will enjoy this engaging Black Cobra entry as the lead couple is another delightful pairing of a brave man with a brazen woman.

I Kissed An Earl
Julie Anne Long
9780061885662 $7.99

At a gala, Violet Redmond and Captain Asher "Savage" Flint a new Earl meet; with him is his first mate Lord Lavay. The Crown has assigned the sea captain to end the reign of notorious pirate Le Chat whose vessel is called Olivia, the name of the woman who broke her brother's heart. Asher believes Violet's missing brother Lyon is Le Chat.

Recognizing what a gypsy foretold her and what she overheard between the earl and his first mate, Violet sneaks onto Flint's vessel as he heads to Cadiz. Flint finds his stowaway and is charmed by her sibling allegiance, but even as they fall in love he plans to insure that the pirate has no more cat lives.

The latest Pennyroyal Green historical (see Like No Other Lover) is a strong entry as love is tested and seems doomed to failure if Lyon proves to be le Chat as both lead characters believe. Fast-paced, this high seas romance is an entertaining tale as her brother whether he is the pirate or not stands between the Earl and the Lady as they are conflicted over her sibling.

The Duke's Captive
Adele Ashworth
9780061474842 $7.99

In 1856 young widow Viola Bennington-Jones was married for about eleven months when her spouse Baron Cheshire died several years ago. She has one objective in life; being the best momma to her four year old son John Henry though she loves to draw and is quite good at it.

However, her comfortable world as an aristocratic single mom raising a baron abruptly ends at a gala. There she sees Ian Wentworth who has returned to London as a wealthy Duke seeking revenge against those who drugged and held him captive, starting with Viola. He flirts with her while pretending he is unsure when they met and commissions her to paint his portrait. He plans to also go after her sisters who incarcerated him as well. Her biggest fear is he will remember what happened between them as she conceals a secret from him.

This is an entertaining refreshing Victorian romance in which his captivity five years earlier makes for a brisk read. Viola and Ian are an intriguing gem of a pairing as each cooks up a humble love pie but that delicacy may not be strong enough to overcome their previous encounter.

Claimed by a Scottish Lord
Melody Thomas
9780061898709 $7.99

Twenty years old Rose Lancaster has lived her life inside the cloistered Hope Abbey. She has also dreamed much of her life of escaping from her gilded cage to see the world outside the cloisters and to meet her father. She finds an ancient ring that brings her new hope.

Thus in 1755 towering Rose is in a Scottish village when she learns of the return of Ruark Kerr Lord Roxburghe, who was away for over a decade. The Black Dragon as he is known has come home to claim his rightful position and ransom his brother from the English Lord Hereford. He seeks an edge when he negotiates with the tough border warden and knows he needs a chip; Hereford's missing (for years) daughter, Lady Roselyn. Ruark meets Ros e because her height makes her stand out in a crowd. He believes she is Roselyn so abducts her to trade her for his brother. As they fall in love while he escorts her to Hereford, each will scrutinize their desire vs their family allegiance

This is a warm Georgian Era romance with a wee touch of Arthurian fantasy. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing of beloved enemies while her father is his and his clan's biggest adversary. Fast-paced throughout, fans will enjoy this straightforward by the book eighteenth century borders romance as the captor wonders just who is the captive.

Can't Get Enough Of You
Bette Ford
9780061728815 $7.99

When Jenna Gaines was five she was separated from her two siblings as each was placed in different foster homes. Her life goal has been to be reunited with her twin sister Lena and their older brother by one year Lincoln. Meanwhile over t he two decades and a half, she worked hard to obtain her Ph.D., succeeded on Wall St in a job she hated, and now at thirty one is returning to Detroit to teach economics at the University of Detroit-Mercy. Jenna also plans to hire a private investigator to locate her siblings.

Her former fiance Scott Hendricks is back in Detroit seeking a degree after a career with the NBA. He is going to attend the U D at Mercy. The pair meets up and realize though they went their separate ways, they remain in love with one another. Neither are quite comfortable with the idea, but he is there for her as her detective Mr. Collagen believes he found Linc in Cleveland, which renews her hopes for reconnecting with her sister too though her images remain in the distant past.

This is a fun second chance in two ways as the siblings reunite though not quite as Jenna expected and the former lovers also reunite though not quite what either expected. Although a rather straightforward no dunks tale, fans will enjoy Bette Ford's solid contemporary romance as a woman seeking her family and a former NBA star (see Can't Say No for Ms. Ford's previously retired professional basketball player) finding love for the second time with each other.

Our Red Hot Romance Is Leaving Me Blue
Dixie Cash
9780061434396 $13.99

Firefighter Justin Sadler is a bit taken aback when reformatory magnets seem to be leaving him a message from his wife, Rachel. The problem is his spouse died and apparently is communicating from the grave using magnets like she did when she lived.

Suspecting a hoax though he cannot fathom who or why, he asks the Salt Lick, Texas based Domestic Equalizers duo, Debbie Sue Overstreet and Edwina Perkins-Martin to investigate. Debbie Sue and her spouse Ed agree to determine if the house is haunted and if so is it by their client's late wife. At the same time the granddaughter of a late El Paso psychic school teacher Sophia Paredes, who supplements her income as a mentalist; also agrees to look into the haunting. All the investigators look for a mundane solution so lean towards Rachel's brother who wants the mineral rights to the Sadler property.

This is a jocular entry from Texas' zaniest crime busters, as the Domestic Equalizers and their spouses investigate the haunting. Wild and nutty, fans will appreciate the craziness that is so much over the top of even the Beyond fun to follow as once again the crew Curing the Blues with a New Pair of Shoes work the case of the apparent spirit speaking to her spouse to move on.

My Dangerous Duke
Gaelen Foley
9780061733970 $7.99

In 1816 Cornwell, the smugglers drug Kate Madsen so they can abduct her and hand her over to the Duke of Warrington, known as the Beast; in order to appease his wrath. Kate refuses to cooperate with either the kidnappers of the beast.

Believing he is cursed just like all his family males, Rohan Kilburn works for the Crown as an assassin. He conceals his activity by being a card carrying member of the Inferno Club, just like the other so called wastrels who belong. He returns to his family castle in Cornwall where he is known as the Beast and where allegedly the ghosts of the murdered wives of his cursed ancestors linger. His job is to end the smuggling, but even he is taken aback when the latest stolen merchandise is kissable Kate. She may end the curse and he may help her understand her heritage as they fall in love, but he fears he will have to kill his beloved as he thinks she may be an enemy agent instead of a "gift". However, neither is aware someone evil waits their entering a deadly maze.

The second Inferno Club Regency romance us enjoyable historical filled with action starting with the kidnapping of the heroine for several weeks and never slowing down especially once the smugglers present beauty to the beast. Fully engrossing with plenty of action, readers will enjoy the adventures of Rohan and Kate as he falls in love with his "gift" and his "gift" falls in love with him.

Her Abundant Joy
Lyn Cote
9780061373428 $12.99

In 1846 Galveston, Texas, German immigrants are stranded because all the freight wagons that work the docks are near the Rio Grande supplying the cavalry in anticipation of war with Mexico over Texas becoming an American territory. Texas Ranger Carson Quinn arrives in town to find chaos as the hundred Germans are clogging the streets with no place to go.

Carson arranges for them to stay one night in an empty warehouse. He offers to lead them with most on foot to the Hill Country land they purchased. Anything they cannot carry is stored in Galveston. Carson warns them of the danger of the trek insisting some will die. He directs anyone fourteen and over regardless of gender to vote. Herr Heller slaps his servant widow Mariel Wolffe informing her she like his wife will vote to go. On the journey Carson and Muriel fall in love, but neither trusts the other gender with their heart; as he was hurt by a woman he cherished and she fled Germany due to the shame of what her late husband did.

The grueling trek across Texas during the beginning of the Mexican War provides a powerful backdrop to the latest Star of Destiny historical romance (see The Desires of Her Heart and her Inheritance Forever). The lead couple is a nice pairing of two intrepid souls who because of their respective last relationship have misgivings about love and the other gender. The support cast, especially the German immigrants; and to a lesser degrees family like Sugar and adversaries such as a poisonous snake (readers will be squeamish with that vivid scene), Santa Ana's army and the Comanche augment a strong mid nineteenth century tale with a great late twist.

A Groom Of One's Own
Maya Rodale
9780061922985 $7.99

In 1822 at the church in Buckinghamshire, the man she is engaged to marry Matthew Fletcher breaks off their relationship saying marriage is a commitment. Stunned, Sophie Harlow writes off marriage. Thus it is ironic because one year after her disavowal of marital bliss and her fall from grace, she obtains a position as one of the four Writing Girls; her column is Miss Harlow's Marriage in High Life for the London Weekly.

For the Weekly, Sophie covers the wedding of the Duke of Hamilton Brandon to Lady Clarissa, daughter of the Duke of Richmond. She would like to beg off because she is very attracted to the groom, but must attend if she is to keep her job. To her amazement the Duke appears to want her and to both their shock, the bride seems more interested in a foreign prince. However, the quartet is all honorable people so no one will take that critical first step to disentangle the wrong pairings into the loving relationships.

The first Writing Girl's Regency romance is a screwball comedy of errors that feels like combing Sheridan's The School for Scandal with a 1930s madcap movie inside a regency romance. The story line is fast-paced throughout as the quartet dance to love but with the wrong partners. Maya Rodale provides a wonderfully zany historical with three other Writing Girls to go.

The Stepmothers' Support Group
Samantha Baker
9780061840357 $14.99

In London, Eve Owen and widower Ian Newsome meet over a magazine review she is doing on his book re his late wife. They fall in love, but she is totally unprepared to deal with his kids (twelve years old Hannah, eight years old Sophie and five years old Alfie).

Her best friend school teacher Claire Adams is a single mom of thirteen year old Louisa so she listens to Eve's woes of becoming a stepmother. Clare helps and soon the two BFFs forge the Stepmothers' Support Group. Clare's younger sister Lily joins them as she is dating a single dad with a toddler. Mandy becomes a member as she struggles to merge two families with teenagers in both into a cohesive unit. Finally Mel's boyfriend has a tweener.

This is an intriguing look at the not wicked stepmother as the club members want loving relationships with the offspring of their significant other. Clare and Eve are fully developed but the rest of the ensemble pale in comparison as there are too many characters with too many issues to keep score. Still readers who enjoy a well written family drama will appreciate The Stepmothers' Support Group as the women want to do their best but don't always succeed.

Fatal Circle
Linda Robertson
Juno (Pocket)
9781439156803 $7.99

Persephone Alcmedi, high priestess of a Cleveland coven, takes care of her grandmother and nine years old foster daughter Beverley. Her boyfriend Johnny the werewolf has groupies sniffing at him and his Lycanthropic band. However, all that seems like child play to Seph when compared with her destiny of uniting the paranormal witches, weres and vampires into a cohesive peace; considering the three groups have an ancient history of combat.

However, the Fairies demand Seph kills her magical bond mate, ancient vampire Menessos. She conceals her ties to the vamp because she knows her coven will react by banning her from using magic so she has few she can turn to for help. Johnny is aware of the tie, but loathes it as he detests her odd friendship with the vampire. The linked pair knows a showdown with the Fairies is imminent and believe to survive they need Johnny on their side against the fairies. However, even Johnny is unsure he can fight alongside a vamp, especially this particular undead.

The third urban fantasy Circle tale (see Vicious Circle and Hallowed Circle) finds the heroine overwhelmed, but not just by her destiny. Seph struggles with a complicated romance with her Were while bonded to her Vamp, a High Noon confrontation with the Fairies or killing her bonded Vamp, and the most difficult mission of all is what to do about Beverly's upcoming birthday while Granny hovers. Seph and the cast makes for a strong thriller as she and her sidekicks want to insure the monsters don't devour Cleveland as Maynard G Krebs would have said.

Black Dust Mambo
Adrian Phoenix
9781439167878 $7.99

Kallie Riviere enjoys her time at the New Orleans Hecatean Alliance's carnival where she and other Hoodoo practitioners and Voodoo witches have fun and share experiences. She enjoys even more sharing her bed with Gage the nomadic outlaw biker conjurer with Gypsy blood and a fine butt (and other body parts). However, her euphoria ends abruptly when she finds Gage dead and soulless in her bed; triggering the memory from almost a decade ago when Mama fired a bullet into Papa's head and tried to kill her too back in Bayou Cypres Noir.

In the present Kallie concludes she was the target of the killing soul sucker. With her best friend Belladonna accompanying her and covering her back, she fears for her childhood buddy Dallas, as she assumes he may be on the hit list too. The two BFFs search for Dallas while eluding a deadly malevolent being who wants to suck Kallie's soul from her; and has no compunctions about doing likewise to Bella while Gage's clan brother Layne seeks vengeance at a time when Lord Augustine is determined to possess Layne's body in order to avoid having to leave this plane. More frightening is the clues lead back to her Tante Gabrielle who took her in when she became an orphan and has mentored her and her cousin Jacks in Hoodoo.

This super opening gamut in the Riviere urban fantasy hooks readers from the opening scene of finding her lover in bed dead and never slows down as the heroine believing she was the intended target of the Black Dust Mambo magic begins her inquiry. The support cast is solid though this is clearly Kallie's star as Adrian Phoenix starts her new saga with a strong magical mambo murder mystery.

Chased by Moonlight
Nancy Gideon
9781439149645 $7.99

New Orleans Police Detective Charlotte "Cee Cee" Caissie struggles to balance her personal life with her work. Her lover, shapeshifter Max "Monster" Savoie replaced his late boss Jimmie Legere as the chief of the mob (see Nasked by Moonlight). However, at the same time, someone brutally murdered twenty-two year old Tulane student Sandra Cummings, the daughter of Max's rival Simon, which places him as a person of interest.

Cee Cee believes Max is innocent and vows to solve the homicide case while keeping his shapeshifting secret. She understands she walks a thin line between following her supervisor Alain Babineau's fidgety orders and protecting her Max. On the other hand Max wants her to leave in order to keep her safe. However, someone seems to know a lot more about Max than even he knows about himself. That unknown adversary schemes to use Max's unknown birthright that the Monster begs to know to annihilate him and his lover.

Chased by Moonlight is a complex romantic police procedural in which Cee Cee, once again, works a dangerous urban fantasy investigation. The story line is filled with action, but as with Masked by Moonlight is character driven as the star-crossed lovers continue to cross their respective barrier to each other even when the heroic Monster pushes her away from him for her sake. Nancy Gideon provides a taut paranormal whodunit that captures the full attention of sub-genre readers who will look forward to more investigations starring Beauty and the Beast.

And One Last Thing
Molly Harper
Gallery (Pocket)
9781439168776 $15.00

Intoxicated Singletree Florist Cheryl Glick delivers the flowers from accountant Mike Terwilliger to his wife Lacey only there is no occasion, which is the only time he sends anything, and the card says to "My Bumblebee signed "The Stinger. Lacey realizes BeeBee secretary to her spouse was supposed to receive the floral arrangement. Fuming she goes to the email only to find Mike changed the password; but she enters BeeBee and finds the lewd emails including non facial pictures. Raging, she sends the emails to their clients as the monthly newsletter.

A hurt Mike files for divorce; while he and BeeBee sue for defamation of character. Her lawyer Sam "the Shark" tells her to stay out of trouble as her email has gone viral and the media is rabid. Lacey leaves for her remote cabin Lighthouse Cove. Her only neighbor is grumpy novelist Lefty "Wolverine" Monroe. He has a phobia about divorcees and she about men. With a nude swim and rescue, a door to the nose, her mom's food, and writing with beer, they becomes friends and more while a fellow victim of male deceit Maya wants Lacey to partner with her on a Season 's Grating card business.

This is an amusing contemporary chick lit tale that satirizes the viral social networks in which one thing leads to another until there is no And One Last Thing. With a nod to Miss Manners who cautions people about placing relationships out there for the world to see, fans will enjoy the jocularity of a woman cuckold and then scorned finding solace in words and Wolverine who as her gay brother says looks him in the eye rather than everywhere else as Mike did.

Rushed To The Altar
Jane Feather
9781439145241 $7.99

In 1761 the three Sullivan siblings (Jasper St. John and his twin brothers Sebastian and Peregrine) learn the conditions of their inheriting from their still living reformed rakish uncle Viscount Bradley. His lawyer Alton explains that they must 'save" and marry a fallen woman in need of salvation before their uncle dies.

The oldest brother Jasper an Earl has no plans to meet the conditions of his uncle's will though he could use the money to pay off the mortgages on the estates he will inherit. However, fate intervenes when he meets Clarissa Astley in a seedier side of town. He assumes her being there unescorted means she is a prostitute; he scoffs at her being an innocent searching for her missing brother Francis abducted by their guardian Uncle Luke while also eluding his nefarious plans for her. He makes her his mistress. However as they fall in love, he knows she was not the hooker he thought she was and marrying her means he failed to meet the intent of the will, but marrying her he will.

The first Blackwater Georgian romance is a fun lustful historical starring two likable lead characters and a strong support cast. Clarissa makes the tale work as she tries to pretend to be what she is not while enlisting the aid of the rake and his two "musketeer" brothers. Fans will enjoy the opening act as the rake needs to wed a hooker, but never expected to be hooked by love.

The Way to a Man's Heart
Mary Ellis
Harvest House
9780736927345 $13.00

In County, Ohio, the Miller females feel their lives are going in the right direction. April the Mennonite hires eighteen year old Leah Miller to work at her new diner. Leah also has a nice man interested in courting her. She is as excited over Jonah Byler as he with her.

Leah's Aunt Hannah (see A Widow's Hope) and her sister Emma are smelly wool gathers while her mamm enjoys knitting on her good days that is. Hannah and Emma also recently married. Whereas Hannah's husband Seth is local Amish, Emma's is an outsider who gave up his lifestyle out of love for her. Both aunt and niece struggle to become part of the New Order Amish community but not as much as the latter's husband James.

The third Miller Family saga (see Never Far From Home) is a wonderful warm Amish contemporary tale. The storyline focuses on the Amish culture through the deep look at the Miller extended family as the women and their men, sheep and pies make for an enjoyable relationship drama. Each person is fully developed as they struggle with personal issues that include belonging to the community.

Getting Old Is Tres Dangereux
Rita Lakin
9780440245421 $7.99

In France, four men worry that bestselling whistle-blowing author Michelle DuBois will write an expose concerning their winery. One of the concerned males has a nonagenarian uncle who was an assassin before he retired to his yacht on the Riviera. He is willing to come out of retirement to kill Michelle as a favor to his nephew.

Across the ocean in the Lanai Gardens in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, septuagenarians Jack Langford and Gladdy Gold live together with plans to marry. Gladdy, Jack, her Gladiators, and a few yentas attend a local book conference. Jack meets Michelle; they had an affair eight years ago in Paris. To Gladdy's jaundiced vision, the writer is making a grab for her fiance, who also believes her Jack is too gentle and kind to Michelle. When they learn a French assassin has arrived to kill Michelle and obtain her latest manuscript, she persuades Jack to protect her. The Snake has no compunctions about killing anyone who interferes with his hit and injures Michelle's niece. However, whether it is his age and soft lifestyle intruding on his comeback, he has never had a tougher assignment.

With a tongue in cheek (literally spin), anyone who thinks septuagenarians cannot heat up the sheet obviously has not met Gladdy and Jack, or her sister Evie and Joe. Gladdy plays an active role in Jack's investigation as the "cop's pop" cannot keep his fiancee out of the case. With advice from a dear departed friend (and some bad tasting jokes from octogenarian Hy), readers will enjoy Gladdy's latest case filled with jealousy, the paranormal, and angst as the battling geriatrics take on a killing geriatric.

Blood Law
Jeannie Holmes
9780553592672 $7.99

Federal Bureau of Preternatural Investigations (FBPI) field enforcer Alexandra Sabian resides in Jefferson, Mississippi; a town in which half of the six thousand residents are vampires to include forty-something Alex. She relocated to the quiet town six years ago for some needed respite from her internal issues.

An unknown predator begins serial mutilating and killing vampires that remind Alex of her father's brutal homicide forty years ago, which haunts her. Nassau County Sheriff Harvey Manser makes it clear at the latest murder scene that his belief that the only good vampire is a truly dead vampire. The remains are horrific with fangs and heads removed amongst other vicious mutilations. The FBPI provides Alex with backup sending in retired agent Varik Baudelaire; her former fiance and mentor whom she detests for his betrayal.

This is an entertaining urban fantasy with a fascinating premise that does not always work. Four decades ago the vampires came out of the coffins demanding equal rights and legally received them within seven years of protesting, but de facto racism remains strong. The story line is at its best when the focus is on the taut dysfunctional relationship between the investigating FBPI agents. When the tale takes a moral species rights stand, it becomes too obvious a metaphor that pales compared to the realities of the Civil Rights Movement. Still readers will enjoy the opening gamut of the FBPI as Mississippi's Burning.

The Whisper
Carla Neggers
9780778328513 $24.95

The bomb in Ireland almost killed Boston detective Cyrus "Scoop" Wisdom. As he recuperates he meets archaeologist Sophie Malone, who had been left for dead in a cave filled with blood and lacking the ancient Celtic treasure, which brought her there. They are attracted to one another.

However, when he returns to Boston, Scoop searches for the bomber. When his prime suspect kills himself, he relooks at Sophie, who found the corpse hanging in a ritual suicide. She traced the missing treasure to Boston. Scoop looks deeper into the alleged suicide and begins to theorize the culprit faked a death while hoping his trust in Sophie proves right. With her help with interpreting the archaic clues, he begins anew his search for the bomber who tries to kill the woman he is falling in love with.

Following up with the explosive The Mist, The Whisper is a powerful romantic suspense thriller starring two delightful lead protagonists who fell in love at first sight in an ancient Irish ruin. The story line is fast-paced throughout as each uses their detecting skills to search for a diabolical serial killer using ancient rituals to either conceal avarice or for something sinisterly arcane. Readers will enjoy accompanying the lead couple, as they argue, fuss and kiss during their suspenseful investigation.

Torn Apart
Sharon Sala
9780778327929 $7.99

Their marriage apparently died several months ago due to his employment and her need to remain in her hometown of Bordelaise, Louisiana keeping them apart. However, Katie and oil troubleshooter J.R. Earle stay connected though separated because they both love and want to be involved with their preadolescent son Bobby.

While J.R. is on an offshore rig, a tornado hits the town causing several deaths and plenty of property damage. Bobby is reported as one of those who died though his body has not been found. However, Bobby's friend Holly Maxwell who suffered a broken hand, insists she saw a stranger take Bobby with him. Not willing to wait for either the law tied up with the tornado emergency or for J.R., Katie goes after her son.

The second Bayou Storm Front romantic suspense (see Blown Away) is a fast-paced thriller that provides long deep looks into the townsfolk struggling with the emergency including the deaths, and the fears of father, mother and son; especially harrowing is Bobby's viewpoint as a kidnapped victim. Although the profound character perspectives mute the suspense somewhat, readers will appreciate the lioness vowing to get her cub back from the monster as she refuses to wait for the cops, the Amber Alert or her estranged husband

Killing Me Softly
Maggie Shayne
9780778327936 $7.99

Shadow Falls, Vermont police officer Bryan Kendall was shot in the line of duty. Healed, a party is thrown welcoming him back to work. The next day Bryan awakens up on his bathroom floor. Confused, he enters his bedroom to see Bettina Wright lying dead in his bed.

The murder looks identical to the M.O. of the Nightcap Strangler; who was just executed by the state after fifteen years on death row. Learning what happened from her biological mother, Bryan's former girlfriend Dawn Jones decides to help him prove his innocence so she comes from the West Coast to New England. She hears voices in her head, but ignores them as she has for five years ever since she broke Bryan's heart by leaving. However, for Bryan's sake she heeds the voices when she realizes she is a dead ringer for the latest victim of apparently The Nightcap Strangler.

This is a superb paranormal murder mystery with a supporting second chance at love romantic subplot. The story line is fast-paced with a strong support cast especially the intriguing killer and a great unique witness to the homicide in Bryan's bedroom. Readers will relish Maggie Shayne's taut thriller as Bryan and Dawn (see Thicker Than Water and Darker Than Midnight for her previous appearances) work the case while rekindling their love.

Ghost Shadow
Heather Graham
9780778327912 $7.99

In Key West, photographer David Beckett takes the group on a tour of his family's wax museum. They reach the Count von Cosel exhibit however, in the bed near the Count is not waxy version Elena, but the corpse of David's former fiancee Tanya Barnard. Although everyone suspected David killed her, no evidence proved he did. Still he left town with a cloud hanging over him.

Ten years later, the Barnard homicide remains unsolved as David returns to Key West. With the death of David's octogenarian grandfather last year, businesswoman Katie O'Hara, a ghost whisperer, wants to buy the wax museum; David opposes the sale. He asks his friend Pete and his cousin Liam, both cops, to reopen the cold case. When a second murder occurs with the victim posed in a nearby museum, the Key West police and Katie wonder if the killer just came home from overseas after a decade away.

Ghost Shadow is an entertaining paranormal romantic suspense. The investigation is fun to follow, but remains in the background to the romance. The heroine in spite of communicating with ghosts (Bartholomew the spirit adds humor to the mix) has doubts about Beckett even as she falls in love with him. With a supernatural nod to Hitchcock's Suspicion, fans will enjoy Ghost Shadow.

A Summer in Sonoma
Robyn Carr
9780778328704 $7.99

Emergency room nurse Cassie goes on a date with Ken that turns ugly until Walt the mechanic rescues her. They become friends although he would like their relationship to be intimate; she prefers her man to be more than someone who dirties their hands.

Firefighter Billy and his wife Julie are in dire financial straits while she carries their fourth child. Firefighter Joe ignores his wife Marty, who is looking closely at her former boyfriend for attention. Doctor Beth struggles with the return of breast cancer while her oncologist Dr. Jerod wants to be with her during and after she receives treatment as he wants a non-medical relationship with her too.

Though the theme of an ensemble friends struggling with different relationship issues has been done many times before ion TV, movies and novels, the four fully developed BFFs and the hunks in their lives make for a warm engaging contemporary tale. Readers will enjoy spending A Summer in Sonoma with Robyn Carr's charming cast.

The Bikini Car Wash
Pamela Morsi
9780778327813 $13.95

After helping with the funeral of her mother, Andrea Wolkowicz leaves her job as a corporate contributions professional at a Fortune 500 firm in Chicago to return home to Plainview in order to help her elderly father Pop care for her mentally disabled sister, Jelly. After failing to find work (even Guthrie Foods rejected her) to bring in income, Andi reopens her father's car wash business, but with a twist; the employees are bikini clad women.

In spite of complaints about lewdness, the car wash proves a major success. She also finds her relationship with storeowner Pete Guthrie intensifying. However, even as she considers what she wants with Pete, Andi learns her parents' perfect marriage was not quite the paragon she believed it was.

The Bikini Car Wash is an intelligent amusing slice of small town life. The townsfolk enhance the close look at living in a small fishbowl once Andi reopens the car wash with her marketing spin as business booms in spite of complaints. Jelly, Pop, and Pete's mom are strong support characters especially the sister, who is the most complete individual in the tale. Still this warm contemporary belongs to the lead couple as Pete and Andi fall in love to the background of family entrepreneurship.

Fortunate Harbor
Emile Richards
9780778327707 $13.95

When her ex husband CJ went to prison for a white collar scam, thirty-five year old Tracy Deloche could no longer could no longer remain a Bel Air, air head trophy wife. Her only asset is a few rundown seaside cottages off the Gulf Coast of Florida. Still she prevailed due to the help of her tenants.

Her relationship with Marsh Egan is at best on life support as his ex wife Sylvia wants him back so is working her magic on him using their son as a tool. Making life more complex is the return of C.J. who is out on bond awaiting a new trial. He wants to reconcile with her.

The arranged marriage between Janya and Rishi Kapur appears ready to die as she fails to become pregnant. At the same time Wanda Gray loses her job so she opens up a pie shop with the reluctant support of her spouse Ken the cop. Finally who is newcomer Dana Turner, accompanied by her daughter Lizzie, and why does she seem interested in a secret that Pete Knight may be able to help her with.

As with the first Deloche drama (see Happiness Key), Fortunate Harbor is a warm contemporary BFFs tale in which the cottage crowd comes across as a family supporting one another. The story line digs deep into the ensemble cast to include those above and grandmother-granddaughter Alice Brook and Olivia Symington. Although the profound character driven story line reads at times like a series of interrelated vignettes, readers will enjoy the engaging second look at the residents of seaside cottage community (obviously written before the oil spill).

The Office of Shadow
Matt Sturges
9781616142025 $16.00

Womanizer Silverdun shocks anyone who knows him when he becomes a priest. However, being a man of the cloth proves tedious as all he hears is whining confessions. When the Seelie leadership asks him to serve as a lead espionage field agent of the newly approved (by Queen Tatiana) top secret department Office of Shadow who will perform functions that go against the kingdom's value system like using psyops techniques including blackmail, extortion, and abduction to cause unrest amongst the enemy or stealing Unseelie secrets; he agrees.

However, he is put off by his new employer's demand he receive training in combat skills; mundane and magical. Ennui settles in until he is teamed up with soldier-magic academic researcher Ironfoot, and deadly almost out of control Sela the empath on a dangerous impossible mission. Their mission is to learn the origin of Einswrath, the weapon of mass destruction that Queen Mab and her Unseelie forces apparently are deploying in what will lead to a second battle in the Seelie-Unseelie war (see Midwinter).

This is a typical espionage thriller and a typical quest fantasy, but brilliantly combined into an atypical enthralling espionage fantasy. The Office of Shadow has selected the right person to lead the charge while his teammates bring diverse but needed skills to the table. Fast-paced and filled with plenty of action, yet clearly character driven by the band of three and their cohorts, readers will relish the second Seelie-Unseelie dispute as both sides approve anything goes tactics.

Book of Shadows
Alexandra Sokoloff
St. Martin's
9780312384715 $25.99

Even without the teenage corpse looking out of place like a broken doll, the landfill where eighteen year old Erin Carmody's mutilated body laid looked like hell. BPD Homicide detectives Adam Garrett and Carl Landauer lead the investigation into the murder of the daughter of a prominent Boston businessman. The etching on the corpse most likely means this was a ritual satanic killing.

The two police partners interview suspect Erin's college friend Jason Moncrief. His response to any question is chanting Choronzon, an alleged demon when he suddenly attacks Carl. Although the evidence piles up making Moncrief guilty beyond a shadow of doubt, Tanith Cabarrus a self proclaimed witch insists he is innocent, more homicides have and will occur, and the supernatural is the culprit. Although pressure mounts from the brass, the media, and the fa mily to hang Moncrief, Jason follows up on what Tanith says even as he wonders if she cast an attraction spell on him and whether she might be the mortal perpetrator.

The key to this terrific police procedural is readers are kept off balance by Alexandra Sokoloff wondering whether the killer is a paranormal from beyond or a deranged human. Fast-paced with strong characterizations, fans will enjoy this superb thriller, as Adam and the audience wonder whether The Unseen could be the killer.

Murder at Mansfield Park
Lynn Shepherd
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312638344 $14.99

At Mansfield Park, usually upbeat Mary Crawford hates, like everyone else, seemingly once meek and insipid Fanny Price the former charity case who has turned nasty ever since she became an heiress; Fanny tossed away her humble pie facade of modesty since gaining wealth. Still, though Mary loathes Fanny, she would not want anything horrific to happen to her tormentor, for the most part. Thus when Fanny's body is found in a nearby fairgrounds Mary wonders who else the supposed inconspicuous Fanny tortured enough to have the motive to kill her.

Mary decides to investigate who killed the mean queen of complacency. Ever the optimist, she begins to follow the clues while joined by a thief not realizing how dangerous sleuthing at Mansfield Park can be.

Murder at Mansfield Park is an entertaining spin on the original Jane Austen classic as Lynn Shepherd modifies traits (in some cases dramatically) key Crawford-Price extended family players in her fun historical whodunit. The story line is a fast-paced amateur sleuth that Austen aficionados will appreciate, but so will mystery fans of nineteenth century English investigations. This is a fun refreshing Miss Austen spin.

The Temptress
Paul Spicer
St. Martin's
9780312379704 $25.99

In 1899 Alice Silverthorne was born in Buffalo. Her father was a self made lumber baron and her mother a Chicago socialite. In 1913 the family imploded as law suits are filed to include custody of Alice. In 1920 Alice and her guardian Aunt Tattie go to Paris where she meets Count Frederic de Jantze. They marry and she gives birth to her first child in 1922. The family spends much of their time in Kenya. In 1927 Alice fails to kill herself and her lover Lord Raymund de Trafford when he dumped her. Five years later he becomes her second spouse. Meanwhile from almost her arrival in Kenya she has an affair for years with Joss Hay (Lord Erroll). In 1941 Joss is shot to death; soon after Alice commits suicide.

The cold case murder was international news in 1941 and made into a book by James Fox and movie White Mischief. Using family documents and photos as Paul Spicer's mom was a friend of Alice; the author makes a strong argument that the apparently passionate delusional Alice killed Joss and then herself. Historical fans and biographical readers will fully enjoy "The Scandalous Life of Alice de Jantze and the Mysterious Death of Lord Erroll" as Mr. Spicer provides a deep nonfiction account in which he defends his assertion that Alice killed Erroll in her quest to be loved.

Dark Flame
Alyson Noel
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312590970 $17.99

With the new power of being an Immortal, Haven behaves like a child with a new toy. Her conversion places Haven and her friend Ever in strife as the former wants to irresponsibly show off her nouveau skills while the latter wants her to conceal them for fear of what exposure will cause to the Immortals.

Ever also tries to liberate Damen from her enemy Roman's control. She attempts a very dark magical spell to free her eternal beloved from the curse. However, instead of unbinding Damen from Roman, her incantation binds her to her adversary. As Ever struggles to keep free from what she wrought onto herself, she pleads with Jude to help her as she risks all she cherishes; on the other hand Roman gleefully turns on the heat to bring the enervated female Evermore under his thumb.

The fourth Immortals young adult fantasy is a strong entry in a powerful series (see Shadowland and Blue Moon) although the heroine is not quite as feisty as she has been; part of that is psychological as she knows she erred. Fans of the saga will enjoy Ever's latest adventure as she struggles to avoid surrendering her Immortal soul to the Dark Flame of her most loathed foe for ever more.

The Year's best Science Fiction Twenty-Seventh Annual Collection
Gardner Dozois, editor
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312608989 $21.99

This anthology always lives up to its hyped title as the "best" as Gardner Dozois does his usual yeoman's job of selecting from print and the net a strong collection; this time thirty-two short stories (631 pages of contributions). The Summation of 2009 is the usual profound absorbing essay that focuses on the good with overall strong creative writings especially in book anthologies and on the Internet; and the bad with the continual collapse especially early in the year of print magazines and the panic amongst publishing firms as Mr. Dozois says reminiscent of the 1929 Wall St. collapse though as I say no one jumped. In his article he recommends going to the Internet as the anthology golden age is ebbing but the year also turned to hard c opy retrospective anthologies of famous authors.

Most of the selected shorts in this year's collection are from known authors like Ian McDonald, Robert Chares Wilson and Nancy Kress while the Honorable Mention listing does likewise to include a Bear, a Beagle and a Baxter amongst an A-Z who's who. This reviewer especially enjoyed those entries I never read before especially from the electronic publications; as an aging Boomer I need the hard copy. The selections are excellent as readers will enjoy the compilation with tales like "Useless Things" by Maureen G. McHugh, "Things Undone" by John Barnes's and Karl Bunker's "Under the Shouting Sky" affirming Mr. Dozois' claim of the "Best" in breed as the collection runs the science fiction universe.

The Bodyguard
Cherry Adair, Gena Showalter, and Lorie O'Clare
St. Martin's
9780312943233 $7.99

"Temptation on Ice" by Cherry Adair. T-FLAC operative Sebastian Tremayne can turn seemingly invisible when he wants. His current assignment takes him and his partner Anatoly Cohen to a Russian Decommissioned Sub Base in the Arctic Circle where he is to keep the woman he loves and met five times before but never alone, nuclear physicist Dr. Michaela Giese safe.

"Temptation in Shadows" by Gena Showalter. Secret Agent Sean Walker controls the shadows between the living and the living. His current assignment is to rescue and keep the woman he loves Gabrielle Huit safe.

"Hunting Temptation" by Lorie O'Clare. Human Seth Gere is a bounty hunter in search of serial killing Tray Long while falling in love with the sister of his prime informant Jeremy Drury. Unaware that the siblings are werewolves, Seth vows to keep the woman he loves Jenna Drury safe from the monster he stalks.

These are three fun urban fantasy romantic suspense tales that fans of the authors will enjoy, but none of the paranormal thrillers contain the depth to maintain high levels of tension.

The Scarlet Contessa
Jeanne Kalogridis
St. Martin's
9780312369538 $25.99

Daughter of the Duke of Milan, Caterina Sforza marries the illegitimate son of Pope Sixtus. He is a pathetic paranoid while though she grew up spoiled she proves energetic, ambitious, and intelligent. She befriends the rich and influential while he makes no efforts to improve the family.

Caterina depends only on her loyal lady-in-waiting Dea as her advisor. Dea uses her skill at reading Triumph (Tarot) cards to assist her lady even as her loved ones are murdered. In 1499 Cesare Borgia lays siege to the Fortress of Ravaldino while Caterina struggles to survive his advances even when he abducts and tortures Dea. Caterina wonders if the Mendican preachers are right that the end of the world is just a few weeks away; at least on her orb.

Interestingly the story is told through Dea's filter, but though she is devoted and brave, the courage of The Scarlet Contessa grips fans of biographical fiction. Jeanne Kalogridis is at her best with this strong historical that brings alive late fifteenth century Italy; as once again the author entertains readers with an insightful look at Renaissance Italy (see The Borgia Bride and I, Mona Lisa).

It All Began in Monte Carlo
Elizabeth Adler
St. Martin's
9780312385156 $25.99

Outraged when IV star and private investigator Mac Reilly delays their wedding for another case, Sunny Alvarez leaves behind her engagement ring. She flies first class from Los Angeles to Paris with Tesoro as her companion. On the plane, Sunny meets "Prince Charming" Aka Eddie and heads to Monte Carlo.

The crew arrives to help Sunny deal with what and who she wants in her life. Movie star Allie Ray, makeover Pru Holster, and Kitty the sociopath are joined by Eddie in offering assistance to Sunny. Mac follows his beloved Sunny to Monte Carlo hoping to save his relationship with the woman he loves.

Although the plot is thin, the return to Europe (see One of Those Malibu Nights and There's Something About St. Tropez), fans will enjoy the latest relationship spin between Mac of Malibu Mysteries and Sunny. He begs for another chance in between solving a few cases and saving her l ife. Elizabeth Adler provides her fans with a charming lighthearted frolic as It All Began in Malibu before moving to Monte Caro.

13 To Life
Shannon Delaney
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312609146 $9.99

Jessica Gillmansen has still not recovered form the death of her mother; killed by a teenager who was her age and part of the in-crowd, but did not have the right to drive that car. She cannot wait to get out of her small town of Junction and make something of herself once she graduates.

Her morning at high school is uneventful until she meets new student Pietr Rusakova. She does not want the burden of helping him acclimate to his new school as directed by the guidance counselor. The new dude is a hunk, but Jessica in interested in super jock Derek who is seeing her enemy Jenny the cheerleader. Jessica pushes Pietr at Sarah who was a in a coma for a week and suffered brain damage although she is recovering and is intrigued by the first generation Russian-American. He has an odd edginess to him that most assume is because of his roots, which will prove right but not in the way anyone believes. Pietr brings Jessica into his dark secret world, but by doing so he places her in danger from his family and others.

This is a dark atmospheric young adult fantasy mindful of Twilight complete with odd behavior and strange animals appearing in weird places. Shannon Delaney draws her readers into the storyline even before the late twist of Pietr drawing Jessica into his world. Jessie holds the fine plot together as a vulnerable teen still unable to move passed her mom's death. She is compassionate, independent and brave, but even she is not quite prepared for his world.

Opal Carew
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312580148 $13.99

Sex columnist Kara Spencer believes that making love is a normal physical activity just like going to the bathroom. She is flying to Indianapolis via a stop in Cleveland, but her flight is delayed. Also waiting for th e same flights is Tantra master J.M. whose triangular relationship with Hannah and Grey just ended as he went from teacher to third wheel (see Blush). Hannah's sister Grace is to join him at the Indianapolis sex conference where he is to speak, but she will not be able to fly out until tomorrow. However, when J.M. and Kara notice one another, she feels a deep need for him and he knows she is perfect for him. They share what she assumes will be a one-night stand.

The next day, Kara is stunned to find out her last night's lover is a keynote speaker at the conference and the person her editor wanted her to interview re Tantra sex. J.M. teaches her Tantra sexuality while hoping she will realize they are a prime pairing of bodies and souls even as he expands her horizon to a much wider range of sexual encounters.

Bliss is a heated erotic romance that returns the Tantra master who trained Hannah and Grey with his prime woman whom he mentors with the full palate of physical and energy orgasms derived from role playing fantasy, triangular encounters and bondage. The story line more than just sex, sex, and more sex (though that seems like 75%) as Kara does not believe love exists ever since her dad left when she was young. Opal Carew has written an enjoyable erotica with just enough of a plot outside of the sexual encounters of the first kind to grip the reader's libido and more.

Pray For Dawn
Jocelyn Drake
9780061851803 $7.99

Daneus the millennium old vampire Hunter struggles with his feelings for the seven century old Nightwalker vampire Mira. Logically and instinctively she is his natural enemy yet his soul feels taken by her as neither can go for the final kill as she feels the same internal war.

Having returned from Spain to investigate the murder of a girl in Mira's turn, Savannah, Daneus is confronted by three werewolves led by Nicolai. The Naturi has returned with the same mission as before to annihilate all races on the earth. The vampires and lycan must unite against a strong common enemy who just killed that girl as a calling card. As Mira is losing her grip on sanity and Daneus fears the Bori who possess half his soul and want the rest as a portal to this plane, the beleaguered pair teams up to try to save the planet without allowing the humans to know they exist or are in peril.

The fourth Dark Days urban fantasy (see Dawnbreaker, Dayhunter and Nightwalker) is a fabulous entry as all hell is breaking out in Georgia and elsewhere. Fast-paced throughout, readers will enjoy the switch from Mira's viewpoint in the previous entries to Daneus' perspective as the action never slows down and sets up the next book in Drake's dramatic darkening, Wait For Dusk.

Jordan Gray
9780373837519 $7.99

The small seaside English village of Blackpool attracts tourists as the prime source of revenue, but the long time residents conceal dark secrets from the visitors by keeping their distance behind a veneer of privacy. Beneath the cozy pristine surface setting lies darkness. Husband and wife team Brit Michael and Yank Molly like real curious puzzles. Molly stumbles on a conspiracy when she announces a project that stirs the passion of the locals as she and her husband are undesirable outsiders.

She informs the townsfolk that she hired director Simon Winegrath to make a documentary Operation Pied Piper. In 1940, a train carrying women, children and gold was coming to Blackpool to escape the London bombings when it wrecked. Valuable paintings and a child vanished. Several local families are concerned with the filming; especially the Sterling brood whose child was the one who vanished. Also interested is the Crowe family as their patriarch was in charge of safekeeping the treasures and so he was accused of theft when much of the valuables vanished. Then are other people who prefer no filming of what happen ed in 1940. For those involved with the documentary, danger mounts as murder is a tool of someone who wants what happened seven decades ago to remain silent.

Fans of British village cozies will find Stolen stimulating as leads to what happened in 1940 seem to dead end. M and M are a loving pair whose warm relationship adds positive spice to the dark seaside town. However the key to this well constructed historiographic whodunit is the natives of Blackpool as the audience struggles like Molly to get passed the metaphysical trench to figure out who the villains are now and then.

Playing With Fire
Amy Knupp
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716463 $5.50

Macey Locke leaves the Peace Corps after two years and heads to San Amaro Island, Texas, home of her best friend Derek Severson. She loves Derek, but knows he does not return her deepest feelings. However, her mission is to help her BFF move passed the tragic death of his girlfriend Julie in a fire last year.

As a firefighter Derek feels guilty that in spite of his occupation he failed to save Julie's life. Worse, he finds his attraction to Macey makes him think he is betraying Julie's memory. However, as he realizes he loves Macey, he also concludes kind-hearted Julie would want him to go on with his life. Now to persuade Macey they can be friends and lovers.

This is a terrific contemporary tale with a romantic subplot that enhances the relationship drama between the lead couple. The key to the well-written novel is Derek as the audience will feel his grief and commiserate with him; feelings from others he does not want. His guilt for failing Julie and for falling in love with his BFF make for a strong emotional story line though the premise of a second chance at love with a best buddy is not new. Amy Knupp provides a powerful novel as this Texas Firefighter learns what happens to one's heat when Playing With Fire of the woman who loves him.

Charlotte's Homecoming
Janice Kay Johnson
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716449 $5.50

After their widower father is hospitalized from a tractor accident injury and having lost her Bay Area job due to downsizing, Charlotte Russell returns to the family farm to help her twin sister divorced kindergarten teacher Faith run the place and care for their dad. Faith informs her sibling that her abusive former husband Rory Hardesty is trying to reconcile with her but only scares her with his temper further fueled by alcohol.

Charlotte and town mayor Gray Van Dusen, an architect, meet and are attracted to one another. Whereas Gray wants to pursue their feelings, Charlotte wants to ignore them. She left the farm years ago so she could be her own person and not the other half of a twin. As he points out he likes her sibling but loves her, Gray tries to persuade her that her loved ones including him know she is her own person and not a mirror image.

The cast makes for a strong family drama with the prime story line being the romance between the mayor and the prodigal sister. In some ways, the other twin's subplot regarding an abusive ex spouse is the more poignant entry. However, Charlotte's Homecoming is a family affair that readers of contemporary tales will appreciate while knowing the rest of the other Russell twin's story is to follow.

The Family Plan
Susan Gable
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716456 $5.50

Her daughter Jordan is dying from cancer. The only thing that can save her life is the umbilical cord blood from a newborn sister. Her single mom Dr. Amelia Young finds the anonymous donor whose sperm she used thirteen years ago to birth her daughter.

Chef Finn Hawkins is stunned that he was tracked down. However, he agrees to donate again so that a full-blood sibling can be born to save Jordan's life. Amelia accepts his donation, but vanishes. However, eight months later, Jordan searches for her biological father at a time when Amelia's baby doctor wants her resting.

Mindful of the true story of a sister born to save her sister from leukemia, this is an engaging contemporary as The Family Plan never included a father, but Finn persuades Amelia that Jordan and their unborn need him as much as she does and he needs them. Character driven, this is a warm tale of love that comes in many ways and in various relationships.

Alaska Bride on the Run
Kate Bridges
9780373295999 $5.99

In 1899 in Eagle's Cliff, District of Alaska, Harrison Rowlan prepares to open a neighborhood tavern in which locals can drop by for a pint and a bite. He does not want a bar where patrons drop to the floor either from too much to drink or a brawl. He places an ad for a bartender in the window of his new establishment. Willa Banks wearing a torn wedding gown applies for the position. She persuades Harrison a la dy will bring in the type of customer he desires. He hires her on a temporary basis that quickly turns permanent.

An orphan Willa thinks back to her uncle and cousins who took for granted her hard work on the ranch and ignored her plea for some land. She read of opportunity for even women in Alaska and left. In Skagway, she mad e friends with Keenan Crawford the butcher, but fled when her groom tried to rape her; she muses he can stuff his sausage elsewhere. As Willa and Harrison fall in love, cattle rustlers and Crawford intrude.

This is a strong late nineteenth century Alaska Territory romance that enables the audience to feel they are in the Panhandle region (think of Call of the Wild by London). The lead couple is a caring pair, but it is the towns that have sprung up since the Gold Rush that make for a vivid, atmospheric historical. Nobody does 1880s and 1890s Alaska-Canada better than Kate Bridges consistently does as affirmed by returning lead characters (see Alaska Renegade and Wanted in a Alaska)

The Darkest Lie
Gena Showalter
9780373774616 $7.99

Like the other Lords of the Underworld who released Pandora's Box, Gideon hosts a demon as his punishment. He is the keeper of Lies, which denotes unbelievable agony if he tells the truth. The Lord of Lies also has the ability to detect when someone else fabricates.

At their Budapest fortress, Scarlet Keeper of Nightmares arrives claiming she is Gideon's wife. He is stunned because not only can he not remember her, he cannot tell if she is lying. His demon Lies is ecstatic with the saucy sassy sexy siren; Gideon wants her too but is much more cautious as he knows he must speak lies or feel the crippling pain. Hunters close in again while his teammates fear how Gideon behaves with Scarlet as a woman scorned is deadly so they want her dead but the Gods interfere with his truth seduction scheme.

Gideon is one of the more fascinating of the Underworld warriors as he talks in lies so needs a special woman who can translate what he is saying. He hopes Scarlet proves that she is that extraordinary female who knows when her beloved says hate he means love, but fears she will believe hate means hate. The story line is fast-paced but it is the characters who make it work as the audience receives an insider look at the Showalter pantheon with Gods like Cronos intruding. Fans of the saga will appreciate the tale of team Gidlet wondering if they will kill each other as The Darkest Lie is a strong entry in a deep darkening romantic urban fantasy series.

McKettricks Of Texas: Austin
Linda Lael Miller
9780373774463 $7.99

Depressingly yet euphoric, Paige knows she is torn as the last Remington sister left standing single. She will be the bridesmaid at a double ceremony of her siblings Julie (to Garrett McKettrick) and Libby (to Tate McKettrick). Making matters worse she is not at home since her house is undergoing renovation.

Unemployed, she is even unhappier when the man who broke her heart, Austin McKettrick returns home after overcoming his doubts and defeating Buzzsaw the bull that almost killed him. When he is shot, Garrett and Tate hire Paige to take care of him. Austin realizes he still loves Paige and has a new life goal to make her happy, if he can persuade her to take a second chance on him for the rest of their lives.

The third McKettrick-Remington sibling romance is an entertaining by the book tale with a similar plot to the previous entries. The lead couple is a likable pairing of two nice people, but he hurt her before (just like Tate did to Libby) so has his work cut out to persuade his Remington that he is her McKettrick. Fans of the saga will enjoy the merging of the families.

Shadow of the Vampire
Meagan Hatfield
9780373775002 $7.99

The vampires butchered his parents leaving Declan as the new dragon lord of his shapeshifter clan. Like his late mom and dad, Declan makes a desperate attempt to obtain the Crystal of the Draco his brood needs to survive and avenge the death of his parents. The new king fails and is captured by his enemy.

Locked away until the heir to the vampire throne can torture him like she did his parents, Declan fears the worst for his people. However instead of harming him, the century plus old vampiress Alexia offers to help him if he helps her. She fears her mother's lover Lotharus has somehow gained control of her mom the queen, who is slowly dying and to save her, Alexia turns to Declan. He feeds from her and finds he obsesses over having more from her. Both remain unaware that Lotharus has plans for the heir once he completes his destruction of the current queen.

This is a wonderful romantic fantasy due to the relationship between the lead couple lovers. Declan is confused as he falls in love with the female he believes tortured and killed his parents. Alexia knows he is her fist chance to overcome the deadly control of Lotharus, but he distrusts her more then she does him. Dragons and vampires do not mate let alone sleep with the enemy. Although the fantasy elements at times are overwhelmed by the star-crossed "mile high" romance, sub-genre readers will believe we are soaring with dragonshifters.

Marilyn J. Clay
Five Stars
9781594148781 $25.95

When Catherine Fielding was twelve, her mom died; she was sent to London to live with her guardians, Lord and Lady Montcrief as her dad was in the New World. Six years later, having failed to ever please her guardians, Catherine dreams of joining her father, brother and Noah in the New World wilderness. However, her need to escape from the Montcrief household becomes critical when her guardian "sells" her in marriage to Mr. Windmere who is older than her father in order to pay off his debts and insure the best dowry for their sixteen years old daughter Lucinda. Catherine manages to escape to The White Swann Inn where Princess Pocahontas, her spouse John Rolfe, and her retinue are staying to take her to the New World. Pocahontas offers her a home if her male relatives are not there, but Catherine soon learns her new friend is dead.

She sails on the Inverness to the Virginia Colony of Jamestown where her brother Adam and his wife welcome them. However, she is stunned to learn her beloved Noah has married someone else. Sadly, Catherine begins to make a life for herself, but when she has a second chance with Noah, he tells her he cannot marry her if he is to remain working on the Benson Plantation

Although there is a romantic subplot, Deceptions is a strong historical tale that brings to life the Virginia Colony mostly through the eyes of the intrepid obstinate heroine. The story line contains some action, but the prime focus is how the first English colonists struggle to survive in Jamestown. Readers will relish this in depth look at Jamestown circa 1617-1619.

Hemlock Lake
Carolyn J. Rose
Five Star
9781594148842 $25.95

In the Catskill Mountains is isolated Hemlock Lake. The locals keep developers out, but recently a long time resident took the money. Now a developer and the natives are at war with vandalism occurring.

Sheriff North sends Police Sergeant Dan Stone to Hemlock Lake to investigate the crimes as he is from the area and has a better chance of obtaining information from the closed-mouth natives. He has doubts as he has been away since the tragedy of his wife Susanna drowning, his brother Nat committing suicide and his father mentally collapsing from the tragedies. As the vandal turns to arson and murder, Stone is pulled between the past and the future as he begins to believe someone he has known for years is behind the deadly felonies.

Aptly titled Hemlock Lake is a strong regional police procedural. Because he was away, Stone is considered a traitorous outsider by the locals. He does not disagree as he never wanted to come home but his wife persuaded him that his family needed them; after she died he never wanted to come home, but his boss persuaded him that the department needed him. Duty bound but filled with guilt, Dan increasingly believes he will bring in a friend once he solves the case. Though his flashbacks become intrusive and repetitive with too much detail, Carolyn J. Rose provides an entertaining character driven thriller.

Deb on Arrival Live at Five
Laurie Moore
Five Star
9781594148774 $25.95

Debutante and college student Dainty Prescott has circumstantial evidence that her boyfriend Drex Truett is cheating with Paislee Pfeiffer, their boss Gordon's' wife. Being a debutante, Dainty knows better than to make a public war, but she knows to discreetly end their relationship. She does have a problem as no Drex means she has no escort at this time to take her to her sister's coming-out ball.

Gordon believes his spouse is cheating on him. He wants Dainty to investigate. Dainty wants to say no as she does not want to get involved knowing what she knows; but her boss makes an offer she cannot refuse. Gordon promises her a full-time externship if she finds him information on Paislee's philandering. Police Officer Jim Butt Man" Buckman almost arrests her while giving her a hard time as he outrageously flirts with her for her traffic tickets, running a red light, and overall sass.

This is a wild Texas two step as the deb and the detective make for a fun frantic frolic. The fun comes from the jocular relationship between the lead pair as the Dallas Debutante Detective Agency handles its first case while Dainty's personal life implodes for the better. Although the plot is very thin fans will enjoy the escapades of Dainty debutante and the butt man cop who pursues her.

Hemlock Lake
Carolyn J. Rose
Five Star
9781594148842 $25.95

In the Catskill Mountains is isolated Hemlock Lake. The locals keep developers out, but recently a long time resident took the money. Now a developer and the natives are at war with vandalism occurring.

Sheriff North sends Police Sergeant Dan Stone to Hemlock Lake to investigate the crimes as he is from the area and has a better chance of obtaining information from the closed-mouth natives. He has doubts as he has been away since the tragedy of his wife Susanna drowning, his brother Nat committing suicide and his father mentally collapsing from the tragedies. As the vandal turns to arson and murder, Stone is pulled between the past and the future as he begins to believe someone he has known for years is behind the deadly felonies.

Aptly titled Hemlock Lake is a strong regional police procedural. Because he was away, Stone is considered a traitorous outsider by the locals. He does not disagree as he never wanted to come home but his wife persuaded him that his family needed them; after she died he never wanted to come home, but his boss persuaded him that the department needed him. Duty bound but filled with guilt, Dan increasingly believes he will bring in a friend once he solves the case. Though his flashbacks become intrusive and repetitive with too much detail, Carolyn J. Rose provides an entertaining character driven thriller.

Thicker Than Water
Janet Majerus
Five Star
9781594148699 $25.95

In Riverport, after what happened to her recently, best-selling children's author Jessie Schroeder knows better than to get involved in another homicide investigation. However, The Best Laid Plans of mice and Jessie often go astray.

When elderly Fred Kroner dies, his house burned to the ground by arson and a charred corpse found amidst the ashes, Jessica is stunned and fears she knows who the corpse is. Her cranky late neighbor's recently discovered niece Johanna has been missing making Jessie believe she is the woman pulled out of the rubble. Although she tries to talk herself out of making any inquiries and her boyfriend Sheriff Gil Keller insists she stay out of his case, Jessie needs to know. She especially feels motivated when she is bequeathed money to buy lilacs; a reminder of a kindness cantankerous Fred gave to her when she was a child.

The key to this warm Midwest cozy is the cast who bring to life what it is like to live in small village. Readers will enjoy the latest Emily Says entry as Jessie tests her plot with her young niece and nephew. However, it is the investigation as the amateur sleuth uses her plot investigative skills to make inquiries that place her in danger from a cold blooded predator willing to kill again.

Fifty-Seven Traveling
Lonnie Cruse
Five Star
9781594148804 $25.95

In Tennessee, the Metropolis Cruisers Car Club crew drives their respective vehicles to the Pigeon Forge show. Attending the antiques car event is members Jack and Kitty Bloodworth who drive his 57 Chevy Sadie. However, as they arrive at the small town, they discuss the chances of finding Kitty's dream car, a thirties Chrysler.

On their first night in town, the Bloodworth pair stops to eat at a diner where Moses and Medina Beadle play the fiddle. The two couples chat about mutual interests when the Beadles proclaim they have a '37 Chrysler on their farm. Their son Charles sets an exorbitant price, but a stunned Jack cannot say no to his Kitty so he agrees. Soon after he gives Charlie his check, their cabin they share with Leo and Deb Evans is vandalized and Charlie is murdered. Police Chief Wilburn brings Jack in for questioning; while Kitty's digital camera vanishes. When Charles' grandma Sassy Bentley insists they attend his funeral, Kitty wonders if moonshine has fried everyone's brain.

The sequel to Fifty-Seven Heaven is a fun regional amateur sleuth mystery as finding the car of her dreams seems to mean finding his nightmare. Except for the antique vehicle nothing goes right for the Bloodworth duet. Readers will enjoy this comical car Cruising cozy.

Winter Harvest
Coralie Hughes Jensen
Five Stars
9781594148897 $25.95

In 1838 Marcus Hammond informs his five children while his wife silently watches that they must move to Western Ohio to start over. He will leave behind his youngest daughter eight year old Lucy with the United Society of Believers in their Shaker community at Hancock and hopes to place temporarily his two other daughters. He promises to reunite the family as soon as he can.

Over the next five years Lucy diligently tries to fit in with the religious order. However, everything changes when thirteen years old heiress Sarah Bishop is indentured to the order when her father died. Sister Sarah is a free spirit who brings out the rebellious nature of Sister Lucy as the newcomer says she has her inheritance waiting for her and not the Shakers. Over, the next few years as Sister Lucy shows gardening and math skills, Sister Sarah teaches her how naive she has been with the holiness of those who claim adherence to the scripture of Mother Ann.

Although there is a late mystery and romance that add suspense and enables closure of a sort, Winter Harvest is more a historical fiction novel that looks deep into the culture and community world of the Shakers two decades before the Civil War. The fascinating story line focuses predominately on the teen girls who through them the reader sees how the adults at Hancock behaved (and not) and somewhat on the boys; especially those the girls are interested in like Brother Seth. Coralie Hughes Jensen provides a wonderful early nineteenth century Americana.

Captive Queen
Alison Weir
9780345511874 $26.00

An octogenarian Eleanor of Aquitaine is ready to die. The wife of two monarchs and the mother of several kings, Eleanor is tired as most of her eleven children are dead with only John her youngest and her namesake still alive. She looks back to her years as the unhappy wife of pious King Louis VII of France when she gave him two daughters and an annulment. She was euphoric to meet younger Henry II, but though they had nine children together her happiness died when he began to ignore her astute mind and ultimately her body to look elsewhere for advice and pleasure. Turning to her children, she supports their claims to the throne against their father who was once her passionate lover with nine children in thirteen years. By 1202 with John on the throne, Eleanor wants to move on.

This is an exciting biographical fiction work of the often told story of kingmaker Eleanor whose ambition to be a royal equal to the kings she married and to those she sired make her a fascinating subject who Alison Weir brings to life in five chronological parts. Whereas her first husband was to busy being pious (in ways she could not conceive) for the sexually active queen while her second spouse thought no man or woman even those he married or sired were his equal. Even her children like The Young King Henry and John never saw their mom as their equal; perhaps only Richard of those who sat on the throne came closest. Readers will appreciate the complex Lioness who roared (but not quite as loud as could have been if told by her) for equality willing to break the rules like an annulment, marrying a much younger man, and being the face of rebellion. This is a winning historical fiction tale using facts to tell the story of the Captive Queen who refused to bow down to anyone.

An Ideal Wife
Gemma Townley
9780345499844 $14.00

Jessica Wild and husband Max Wainwright diligently work at keeping his ad agency afloat during the hard economic times that have reduced corporate customers and revenue. Max fears his firm will soon file for bankruptcy unless a huge account surfaces. He targets the boyfriend of Jessica's mom, banker Chester Rydall, as his best chance for a new client. Chester also seeks new customers so making a case that some bankers are ethical, he conducts an ethics audit of his staff; Max hoping to gain favor with Chester does likewise with his firm.

After being caught in an undesirable kiss when drunk, Jess decides to become An Ideal Wife to her Max so if he learns of her indiscretion from the blackguard trying to blackmail her, he will forgive her and stay. She does everything perfectly as the ideal wife, but nothing works in accordance to the plan. Instead Max is hospitalized with a broken leg due to one of her spousal loving efforts and worse he has an ideal nurse for a hunk like him. Sending Jess even wilder is a former opponent plans to use a secret she discovered to steal her Max.

With another humorous yet earnest nod to Oscar Wilde (see The Importance of Being Married), the third Wild Affair is another zany jocular tale that is fun to read. A madcap comedic series of misunderstandings lead Jess to go over the top of Big Ben in order to keep Max with her. Although the plot is thin and ideal is not what one would describe Jess as, fans will enjoy her latest wildly insane exploits.

Midnight Angels
Lorenzo Carcaterra
9780345483904 $26.00

Professor Richard Dylan Edwards is a highly regarded Michelangelo expert. He is also the leader of the secretive Vittoria Society that recovers stolen art treasures to return them to their rightful owner. His group seeks three missing Michelangelo statues, the Midnight Angels that most art historians believe never existed beyond legend. Also searching for the statues are the as secretive Immortals whose leader Raven wants them for his latest nefarious clever scheme.

Dr. Edward's top student, his ward Kate Westcott, heads to Italy to study first hand Michelangelo. In Florence, she and her art student boyfriend Marco Scudarti search the museums and galleries that seem everywhere in the fabled city. When they find the Midnight Angels, they become targets of the deadly ruthless Immortals who have no remorse killing innocent bystanders to obtain the three statues; only Captain Rumore seems on their side when he is not pondering arresting them.

This is an action packed thriller that grips the audience from the moment the American student and her Italian boyfriend begin exploring the streets of Florence and never slows down as readers will join them on their perilous tour. Fast-paced and filled with action, fans relish this exhilarating art world thriller as the two secretive societies and the Rome Art Squad, all with different intentions, converge on Kate and Marco.

Delta Girls
Gayle Brandies
9780345492623 $15.00

All third grader Quinn can remember is that she and her mom Izzy have always been on the move. Nine years old, her mom works the California farms as a migrant fruit picker. In the Sacramento River Delta, Mr. Viera offers Izzy a chance to stay permanently. Quinn especially wants that as the entire Viera family especially Ben is very kind to mom and daughter. In fact so much so Izzy forgets she is on the run from her past; an incident that haunts her. That is until whales get trapped nearby putting a spotlight on the Delta and those volunteers like Izzy for the world to see.

Karen is a teenage star figure skater. Her latest partner Nathan is a hunk who takes her to new heights. However, her mother Deena is a demanding coach who wants the gold at any price. Apparently as Karen and Nathan are on the brink of achieving this, their passion ignites too.

The Delta Girls is a delightful compelling character study that rotates subplots between Izzy and Karen as the tale looks deeply at mother-daughter relationships. The story line meanders a bit slow as the players are established, but also drills inside the souls of Izzy and Karen and to a degree the support cast. With a great twist that brings the two sagas together, fans who appreciate a discerning look at motherhood will enjoy this thoughtful tale.

Inside Out
Barry Eisler
9780345505101 $25.00

In 2005 at Arlington, CIA Deputy Director Clemens, National Clandestine Service Director Killman, and Counterterrorism Center Director Alkire inform the Vice president's Chief of Staff Ulrich that approximately ninety-two tapes are missing. Clemens nervously explains the tapes are vivid showings of torture without the in their pocket main stream media sanitizing the picture for the public. Ulrich informs the frightened trio to find the tapes at any cost.

At a bar in Manila, three Australians and Ben Treven get into an altercation. Ben breaks the finger of the middle guy; hammers another in the head with a bar stool and batters the third Aussie. Two are in spasms while the other is dead. The Filipino police arrest Ben.

His enemy and former boss Hort arrives with a deal to free him if he takes on a mission or to let him keep puking up the prison food. Treven has five days to retrieved ninety-two damaging torture tapes from another paid killer he personally knows, Daniel Larson, who demands millions in diamonds or be prepared to watch the show on You Tube. Treven and FBI Agent Paula Lanier seek Larson as does other Feds and their contracted cronies.

This is an action-packed fast-paced espionage thriller with stratospheric levels of testosterone that even the beautiful women seem to have an overly abundance of the hormone. Based on the reported destroyed torture tapes, Inside Out is an exciting tale as blood flows wherever either Treven (see Fault Line) or Larson happens to be; ironically as each kills without blinking both loathes torture. Although pre Abu Ghraib would have put this over the top of Everest, the audience will wonder how much is possible and how much is truly implausible.

Twice Tempted By A Rogue
Tessa Dare
9780345518873 $7.99

After years at war with a death wish never granted, battered combat vet Lord Rhys St. Maur comes home to Devonshire. He enters the Three Hounds Inn in Buckleigh-in-the-Moor where a fight has broken out. Before he can intercede a beautiful woman ends the dispute. He learns she is no barmaid but Mrs. Meredith Maddox, the widowed wife of the old owner.

Meredith loved Rhys before he left for the service. She fears she still does. He is attracted to her but believes he does not deserve love. As she encourages him to work hard at overcoming his demons, they investigate the murder of his friend and nasty treacherous smugglers while the locals distrust Rhys.

This is a terrific Stud Club Regency romance (see One Dance with a Duke) starring a feisty kick butt female and a PTSD veteran who had memorial issues before he ran off to die at war. Readers will enjoy their escapades as the townsfolk trust the double-dealing smugglers more than the returning lord; which speaks volumes of the class warfare. Starting with Meredith stopping a fight in the inn by ripping skin off the combatants, Twice Tempted By A Rogue is a strong Stud Club entry.

Nancy Thayer
9780345518286 $25.00

In Nantucket Lily Fox sends urgent emails to her globetrotting older sister Abbie to come home as the family is in crisis. Their widower father is in financial trouble and is seeing a sexy woman Marina Warren whose husband dumped her for her friend. Their middle sister Emma has come home from Boston hysterical having lost her job and fiance Duncan. Lily insists depressed Emma is emaciated lying in bed all day crying.

Abbie comes home to be there for her family during the crisis as they all had been years ago when their mom died. Sibling rivalry remains heated, but each seeks some contentment. The oldest opens a jobs finding service; the middle sister struggles to find equilibrium; while the youngest is a society reporter. Even Marina seeks proof she remains in middle age a worthy female.

The four women take turn narrating the warm family drama. Each of the females brings baggage as they have issues with one another while musing on their pasts. Although there is some redundancy as expected by the sibling narrations, the four feisty females find their respective summer groove as Nantucket Beachcombers.

Murder Inside The Beltway
Margaret Truman
9780345498892 $7.99

In Washington DC high priced escort Rosalie Curzon is murdered in her exclusive Adams-Morgan apartment. The culprit viciously battered the call girl who apparently did not go quietly into the night as the murder scene implies she fought for her life. WPD homicide detective Walter Hatcher leads the investigation; assisted by rookies, Matt Jackson and Mary Hall

The cops find video equipment hidden on a bookcase that leads the trio to believe Ms. Curzon taped her sexual encounters. The case has national implications as President Pyle runs for reelection against Robert Colgate; the married challenger is rumored to have illicit affairs and may have been a client of the dead Ms. Curzon. All the president's men and women want the tape released without White House implication. The investigation takes a seemingly odd spin when a kidnapping occurs that should have no link to the case but does.

The latest Capital Crimes police procedural is an enjoyable investigative whodunit that provides insight into presidential campaigns in which surrogates follow the election end justifies the anything dirty goes means. The three DC detectives are stereotyped as Hatcher is sexist-racist who scorns both rookies for being a biracial male and by being a female. Jackson must have come from a Utopian commune as he is stunned that some of the force is on the dole. Finally Hall and Jackson are secretly having a tryst. In spite of the personality isms of the lead threesome, the case with its ties to election campaigns make for a solid entry by a terrific mystery maestro who passed away in 2008. As her children state in their dedication to their late mom Ms. Truman "... she liked nothing better than... murdering people in Washington, D.C., one at a time".

Carnal Sin
Allison Brennan
9780345511683 $7.99

For seven years Moira O'Donnell trained for one thing as she moved from place to place to stay safe. Her goal is to prevent her evil mother, the queen of the underworld Fiona and the woman's vile lover Matthew Walker from bringing demons across through his Good Shepherd Church in which they created a portal enabling the malevolent to walk this world. With allies like Rafe Cooper and demonologist Anthony Zacarddi, she faced down the first deadly sin Envy left trapped in a vault in Santa Louisa, California at a cost to the team (see Original Sin).

As Fiona has doubts that Santa Louisa is the "beacon for evil", a report of an odd case in Los Angeles reaches them. A nice forty years old Kent Galion attacked a blonde before being subdued by Detective Grant Nelson; Galion died. Moira saw the vision of a demon possessing a man. She and her posse rush to L.A. as Lust is loose at the Velocity nightclub; men marked by the demon are dying for hard sex.

The second deadly sin urban fantasy is a strong suspense thriller that grips the audience with the opening assault at Velocity and never slows down as the beleaguered hero team face off against a powerful demon and a coven protecting the evil. The cast, especially the good gals and guys are fully developed so that the reader knows their desires, flaws, and other distractions and detractors as much as their strengths. For instance, Moira fears she will hurt a teammate when she goes into her visionary trance and fears falling in love again; having lost a beloved soul before. Carnal Sin is a superb urban fantasy thriller as Allison Brennan is two for two.

Beth Williamson
9780425236147 $15.00

With the death of her beloved David who as a sexagenarian was twice her age, Alex Finley knows it is time to go home. David's family wants her to leave anyway as they assume she is a gold-digger even though ironically she only took the car he gave her with her. Alex leaves California heading to her family ranch in Wyoming; a place she left a decade ago following the death of her beloved mother and her anger at her cheating late father who left his cancer stricken wife and daughter.

She learns you can never go home as the spread she remembers is now a dude ranch run by Connor Matthews and her father has been dead for two years. He expects the returning prodigal daughter to challenge her deceased father's will; as she loathes her stepmother and tolerates her stepbrother Daniel; neither of whom she never knew existed before now. However, as she and Connor fall in lust and love, he fears she will sell her interest in the Finley Ranch before fleeing Wyoming a gain.

This heated ranch romance is filled with angst and lust though the past is too underdeveloped to appreciate what fully led to the estrangement in which a teenage girl was able to fall off the grid. Ergo, the audience only obtains Alex's perspective until the very end, which detracts from what otherwise could have been a powerful character driven tale. Still the cast is solid and the sex hot as Beth Williamson proves you can go home if the heart is willing.

Lauren Dane
9780425235263 $15.00

Her father Ciro Fardelle, the Verses Imperial Supreme Commander arranges for his daughter Carina to marry one of his as evil monsters. Her mother Esta is willing to die to see her beloved daughter not pawned to any of these malevolent thugs as she had been when she was fourteen. She grabs some information chips to give to her daughter and abets Carina's escape.

The Federation learns that the daughter of their enemy is looking for asylum and has information they can use to perhaps prevent what looks inevitable a nasty war. Phantom Corps covert leader Daniel Haws mounts the rescue knowing that the Supreme Commander will be coming after them with a vengeance. However, neither he nor his natural enemy Carina expected to fall in love while on the run.

Although in the Federation universe with ties to Daniel's Relentless sister Abbie, Insatiable widens the Dane realm by focusing on the Phantom Corps. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action as the irresistible force meets the unmovable object when two enemies from different life stations fall into heated love with her father fuming in pursuit. This is quite a sizzler.

Dark Embers
Tessa Adams
9780451230584 $14.00

The Dragonstar clan of dragon shapeshifters is dying. Their last hope before extinction wipes them out is their King Dylan MacLeod, but he has searched for his soul mate unsuccessfully for five centuries; she is the only one h can truly mate and sire a child with.

His people need help now so Dylan leaves his realm to enter the vile human sector seeking a cure to the deadly plague eradicating his clan. He turns to research biochemist Phoebe Quillum, whose Ivy league grant was canceled, agrees to investigate the conflagrant and its cure in exchange for three million dollars that she will use in her search for a cure to an extreme form of Lupus that killed her mother and sister. However, neither the purebred dragon-shifter nor the purebred human expected to fall in love. As she diligently seeking the elixir, the clan's enemies continue their pandemic assault.

The first Dragon's Heat romantic fantasy is a wonderful shapeshifter tale starring a beleaguered hero and the equally forlorn woman he cherishes who is his last hope for his clan and his heart. Although too many subplots intrude, Dark Embers is an entertaining novel that fans will enjoy soaring with dragons.

Murder Past Due
Miranda James
9780425236031 $7.99

College librarian architect Charlie Harris and his Maine coon cat Diesel live in Athena, Mississippi. Charlie walks the larger than normal sized cat on a leash as the feline is his friend and books are his only companions since his aunt died. However, recently Charlie has found he cares for his boarder Julian Wardlaw, a student at the school.

A former classmate of Charlie arrives at his house. Charlie never liked arrogant Godfrey Priest, Athena's favorite son as a noted author of gore. Julie Wardlaw informs Godfrey that Julian is his son and the man who raised him is dying. Godfrey gets into a fight with Ezra who thinks of Julian as his son. Soon after their tussle that sent Ezra to the hospital, someone kills Godfrey. Charlie realizes everyone in town seemed to hate haughty Godfrey with several having strong motives, but he ponders who had the opportunity and the ultimate desire as he and Diesel try to help the police who want no help from him or his cat.

Eighteen year old Justin finds the key that opens up Charlie's heart, which makes him feel again as they empathize with one another encouraged by Diesel. Great characterizations make for a fine regional amateur sleuth whodunit; as Charlie fears the cops are going after the wrong person in this entertaining small southern college town murder mystery.

The Gift of Love
Lori Foster, Jules Bennett, Heidi Betts, Ann Christopher, Lisa Cooke, Paige Cuccaro, Gia Dawn and HelenKay Dimon
9780425234280 $15.00

"For the Love of Wendy" by Foster. Widower Jack raises his beloved learning disability child Wendy with help from caretaker Briana who he also loves.

"Ava's Haven" by Bennett. In Alabama teen Carly calls Olivia of Ava's Haven shelter to help her; Livie rushes over to the police station to find Detective Colin, who broke her heart, there.

"Skin Deep" by Betts. Manhattan model Sophie arrives in Pennsylvania to persuade Mac the photographer to develop a comeback portfolio for both of them; she from a fire that burned 20% of her body and he from addiction.

"Atticus Gets a Mommy"" by Christopher. Wheelchair bound architect Keenan loves Diana but believes she deserves a whole man; while she believes he is a coward as he is her whole man.

"The Redemption of Brodie Grant" by Cooke. In 1886 Texas, Brodie comes home for his sister's wedding to the man he loathes Leo, but falls in love with Sara, sister of the groom.

"The Wolf Watcher's Diet" by Cuccaro. A distracted, Ella crashes when she avoids a big dog only to have a man grab her; the dog rescues her but accidentally bites her. Luke explains he is not a dog but a werewolf and she is his soulmate.

"A Fairy Precious Love" by Dawn. Honeysuckle lost her wings to the blight that cost her the love of her life Wolf-moss the king who had no choice but to perform duty over love. Now his niece has the blight so the monarch and protector of the wingless meet and know they remain in love.

"Second Time Around" by Dimon. Single dad Heath loves his son's teacher Serena, but he hurt her years ago when he was a star athlete who rejected her offer to be her first.

Besides containing an octet of enjoyable romances that provide a wide span of loving relationships, all author proceeds go to The Conductive Learning Center of Cincinnati.

Bonds Of Justice
Nalini Singh
9780425235447 $7.99

In New York, Councilor Nikita Duncan finds too coincidental the deaths of several of her closest advisors and employees in the Bay area. She sends enforcer Max Shannon to San Francisco to investigate the recent deaths in order to ascertain if they were murdered as she suspects has occurred. Nikita trusts Max's sleuthing skills and as important his ability to thwart Psy mental influences even though he is human.

Psy Justice operative Sophia Russo volunteers to assist Max although she knows that each new memory extraction may mean her death. She fully understands her mind is fracturing due to her hazardous work that also dramatically reduces life spans. This is due to the consequences of telepathic shields being lowered dangerously so the J agent can take down the barrier of the prey they extract their information from. Still she refuses to quit as she works closely with Max on his inquiry.

This is a great police procedural romantic urban fantasy entry in a terrific series that seems heading to a pandemic cataclysm. Max is terrific as he understands the glass ceiling for primitive humans in law enforcement, but has unique skills that make him perfect for this investigation. The star-crossed romance enhances a terrific mystery as the world of Nalini Singh is deeply explored through the primitive cop and the Psy Justice.

Demon Blood
Meljean Brook
9780425235478 $7.99

Three hundred years ago in Florence, demons persuaded Rosalia's father and brother to join their side. Her once beloved family turned tainted and tried to kill her. She survived and chose to defend humanity against demons and their horde by becoming a Guardian

Deacon the Vampire lost everything dear to him to a demon and wants revenge. He thirsts for vengeance so much that he has betrayed the Guardians. Rosalia asks for his help, but he refuses. She ignores his denial as Rosalia loves Deacon. However, besides feeling undeserving of her love, his contempt for himself leads him to believe Rosalia wants to use him to complete her mission and then dump him.

This is an excellent Guardian thriller that stars two delightful heroes. Deacon is excellent as a vampire seeking vengeance while Rosalia the Guardian understands him and wants to save him. Each believes their love is a privilege they must earn. His blood thirst has lined up strange bedfellows ready to destroy him and any allies assisting him. Readers will wonder whether he will learn in time that vengeance is tundra cold while love heats the heart as she is there for him as he struggles to be there for her, which he cannot if he continues his quest. Set aside time to read this wonderful tale in one sitting because, Meljean Brook has her fans hooked from the Bedtime Story summary of the past to the powerful finish.

Daring A Duke
Claudia Dain
9780425235461 $7.99

In 1802 American Jane Elliot leaves New York for the London upper crust swinging adventure scene. Her problems are her two sea captain brothers and her aristocratic British cousins are a flock of hawks watching her every move; one day in town and already she feels like a prisoner in a gilded cage. They want her to get married, but Jane came to England for fun not a husband.

She is attracted to the Duke of Edenham and he apparently reciprocates her regard. Courtesan matchmaker Sophia Dalby notices the Yank who is the daughter of a former friend and the Duke seems perfect for each other and obviously wants each other. Yet they dance apart especially after the visitor makes it clear she has no plans to get married while enjoying her first season. Sophia likes the challenge posed by the reluctant American but also stays alert as the Duke of Ruan is sniffing around her.

Though somewhat similar in tone, the latest Courtesan Chronicles (see The Courtesan's Wager, The Courtesan's Daughter and The Courtesan's Secret) once again, though a secondary player, Dalby steals the show in this well written amusing Regency romance. Fast-paced from the moment a desperate Jane tries to elude her handlers and never slowing down, fans will appreciate the shameless Dalby as she matches the lead couple up while also handling a personal matter.

My Way To Hell
Dakota Cassidy
9780425234433 $15.00

Raging Lucifer punishes demon Marcella Acosta for defying orders and saving the soul of her BFF (OF is more accurate as only friend) Delaney Markham (see Kiss and Hell). Her punishment is the loss of her demonic status and exile into some sort of purgatory between heaven and hell, but not earth as no malls or coffeehouses are in sight.

As a ghost she fails to make contact with mortals until she decides to go after the human she most wanted as a demon, Delaney's brother Kellen. He has psychic issues that he feels are psycho as seemingly beings from beyond contact him; the most persistent being his sister's friend Marcella who he hid his attraction for her from everyone. As he realizes a child is in danger from a stalking demon and knows he must act, his nocturnal desires for Marcella brings her back to his side.

This amusing urban fantasy romance brings together a lead pair that fans of the saga will appreciate especially after the Kiss and Hell escapades (and rejection). Fast-paced albeit a bit thin in plotting, fans will enjoy that Marcella is back burning tamales and peanut butter as only a retired sexagenarian former demon could when she becomes a not so average woman in love.

Roast Mortem
Cleo Coyle
9780425234594 $24.95

Although she is love with NYPD Detective Mike Quinn and long divorced from Matt Allegro, Clare Cosi remains manager and barista of the historic Village Blend Coffeehouse. When the owner, her former mother-in-law, dies, she and Matt will inherit half shares of the cafe. Claire and Madame (her former mother-in-law) visit her friend Enzo Testa at his Queens Caffe Lucia. Claire leaves Madame and Enzo in the basement to let her barrister Dante Silva into the closed cafe.

An explosion in front of the cafe sends the building into an inferno. Clare manages to get Dante out of the blaze. Ladder Company 199 rescues Madame and Enzo who were trapped inside by a fire door. When two more coffeehouses are torched and the Village Blend threatened, Clare investigates with the unofficial approval of the Fire Marshal. She considers several suspects, but while sleuthing meets Fire Captain Mike Quinn, cousin to her Mike Quinn who are bitter enemies. She tries to avoid him because he keeps telling lies about her love and keeps mailing passes at her. In an ironic twist, he is her best source for information.

This high octane amateur sleuth is an explosive whodunit. Clare is a dedicated loyal person whose inquiry places her in deadly scenarios. Besides the strong arsonist investigation, there is also a romantic subplot, but Cleo Coyle serves her latest specialty blend (see Holiday Grind) around the mystery.

Chapter and Hearse
Lorna Barnett
9780425236017 $7.99

Bob Kelly might not be the nicest person in New England, but he was instrumental in saving his hometown of Stoneham, New Hampshire from financial bankruptcy. He somehow got several booksellers to open up stores in the town; this proved so successful the village is famous as Booktown.

One of the new proprietors Tricia Mills, owner of Haven't Got a Clue, is hosting a book signing for her sister who just published a cookbook. Angelica owns the Cookery and the Booked for Lunch. When Angelica's boyfriend Bob fails to show up, Tricia looks for him and notices he is talking with Jim Roth of History Repeats Itself. When she returns to her store, an explosion occurs, which destroys History Repeats Itself, kills Jim and injures Bob. Once Angelica knows her boyfriend is okay, she goes on her book tour. Meanwhile the police conclude Jim was murdered and have three suspects with strong motives including the victim's mother. Other people wanted him dead too. Tricia places herself in danger searching for a killer who will do anything to remain anonymous.

Chapter and Hearse is filled with action, but is character driven by the visitors and small town eccentrics who turn the cozy wonderfully and amusingly convoluted. The protagonist is strong willed and independent who believes in doing the right thing (a too frequently used trait of the amateur sleuth) even when the police and others tell her to butt out of their inquiry. Lorna Barnett has written a delightful amateur sleuth filled with red herrings and false leads that keep reader interest from the explosion till the explosive climax.

Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage
Jennifer Ashley
9780425235454 $7.99

In 1875 when she was eighteen, Lady Isabella Scranton and Lord Mackenzie eloped; his family delighted in their marriage while hers disowned her Three years later, Isabella walked out of her marriage to the shock of her spouse and the condemnation for her scandalous behavior by the Ton.

Her estranged husband is a talented painter and three years since she left him, Isabella discovered someone is forging Mac's work. She goes to see him, but he is more concerned over winning a wager that he can paint an erotic portrait. He wants his wife to pose as the subject; she prefers to catch the forger. As they work on the painting the felonies, they recall why they fell in love and married; however neither is prepared for the forger whose obsession turns to having Isabella live and on canvas.

Jennifer Ashley follows up on the magnificent Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie with a sibling's strong Victorian second chance at love romance and a solid supporting mystery. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing of a debauched rake knowing he is not good enough for the goodness of his wife and a not so innocent "debutante". Readers will relish this terrific historical wondering why did the wife who obviously loves her husband leave him.

Home Is Where the Bark Is
Kandy Shepherd
9780425234297 $15.00

In San Francisco Nick Whalen brings his Yorkie Bessie to the Paws-A-While doggie day care managed and owned by former model Serena Oakley. She has a difficult time seeing the pair together. After bewildering him with doggy blogs, social networking and doggy-kids, she knows he is doggy clueless especially about pampered pooches. Her assertion is affirmed when she learns the canine's human pet is Nick's great-Aunt Alice of Sausalito

A private investigator, he actually is using the pooch to get insider information on Serena as part of an investigation he is conduction on identity theft in which the evidence points to the day care owner. Still Nick is attracted to his only suspect and soon gets involved with a doggy abandonment case that brings them even closer together.

Following up on Love Is a Four-Legged Word, Kandy Shepherd provides another warm investigative doggy romance in which Nick and Serena learn the same lesson that the previous leads learned that WC Field's was right to never co-star with animals; they always steal the show. Fans will relish this jocular romantic suspense as the undercover P.I. and the doggy day care entrepreneur fall in love one bark at a time.

Undead and Unfinished
MaryJanice Davidson
9780425234358 $24.95

Learning just who the mom of her half-sister is (see Undead and Unwelcome) still shakes the soul of vampire Queen Betsy Taylor; that is if vampires keep their souls once converted; if not at least shakes the soles of her new shoes. The last person she wants to deal with is her half-sister former Sunday School teacher the Antichrist Laura.

Laura pleads with her sibling to accompany her as she needs to take a trip to Hell to meet her mommy dearest Lucifer. Betsy agrees that she has nothing better to do than go to Hell, but while visiting the devil's playground; she negotiates a Faustian deal with Lucifer that allows her to read the Book of the Dead without going insane; or at least crazier than she is. In payment Lucifer simply expects the siblings to have a good time using her hellfire sword that slices through time and place. However, the two sisters soon have a bigger quandary to confront than finding designer shoes as somehow their night on the universe is devastating the future; although the sisters are having problems calcula ting what future.

To Hell and back to hell as Betsy and Laura just wanna have fun, but soon finds Lucifer crafted a diabolical deal. Humorous as always due to Betsy's sarcastic in your face (especially her beloved, her sister, some supernaturals, shoe sellers, and Lucifer) as well as scornful asides to the reader. Yet with the acerbic comedic commentary, fans of the saga will enjoy the latest "Un and Un" fantasy as Undead and Unfinished continues the grimmer trend started with the previous Taylor thriller.

Sketch Me If You Can
Sharon Pape
9780425236048 $7.99

Nobody is more distressed and heartbroken than Rory McCain is when her favorite Uncle Mac died from what apparently was a massive coronary. Mac leaves his entire estate that includes a Victorian home, his private eye business and his luxurious car to his beloved niece. As a police sketch artist, Rory is not allowed to moonlight so she begins to close down his business starting with informing Jeremy Logan whom she cannot reach when he walks in asking for Mac.

When he learns Mac is dead, he hires Rory to look into the death of his sister Gail. It was ruled an accident but he believes it was murder. To get around the police ban on moonlighting, Rory refuses to charge him a fee. She moves into her new home where she meets permanent resident the ghost Federal Marshall Ezekiel "Zeke" Drummond, who was killed in the 1870s while hunting a serial killer who murdered little girls. He explains he helped Mac and offers a similar partnership with Rory; her consideration being to investigate his cold case of whom murdered him. Although she explains to the ghost his case is Arctic frozen, he understands and she agrees to their teaming. They soon learn Gail had several enemies with motives and opportunities, but someone stalks Rory in case she gets too close to naming the culprit.

This entertaining paranormal cozy stars a feisty heroine who copes with the death of a loved one, a ghost in residence when she thought spirits were something either in wine or a Ghostbuster movie, and a case with too many suspects. The fun in this lighthearted frolic is figuring out who the killer is before the heroine and her poltergeist partner do. Readers will admire and adore the intrepid heroine as she risks her life to uncover the identity of Gail's killer.

Money, Honey
Susan Sey
9780425235485 $7.99

Patrick O'Conner blames two feisty females over the end of his previous felonious career as a successful jewel thief. He surrendered six years ago to FBI Agent Elizabeth Brynn to keep his sister Mara out of jail. They cut a deal and he assisted the Fed on her cases for the next three years. Ironically she is also the only woman he has wanted but failed at making their relationship personal.

Patrick, who is now a published author, leaves Palm Springs for Grief Creek, Minnesota because Mara, whom he has not spoken to in three years, says she and her Brightwater's Casino and Restaurant are in trouble due to counterfeiters. Liz says she has the case under control and he should go back to Los Angeles after she reads the riot act to Mara. Looking forward to the cat fight between the women who turned his life upside down, Patrick accompanies Liz to Mara's place. As the reformed felon and the Fed work the case together; their desire for one another turns to love. However, she has childhood issues that make commitment impossible and he knows the FBI is her first love.

This is an amusing romantic police procedural starring two likable lead characters who belong together if the heroine can see passed her childhood demon biases. The investigation is fun due to the squabbling between Liz and Patrick; as each knows the other places them on constant edgy tension by just being near each other. With some late suspense to round out the fun Minnesota thriller, fans will want to read this entertaining investigative romance.

Lord of the Changing Winds
Rachel Neumeier
9780316072786 $7.99

In the land of Feierabiand in the woods by the small remote village of Minas Ford, teen Kes the healer gathers herbs, but stops to watch the beauty of the visiting griffins soaring through the sky before completing her chore. She rushes home to her worried sister farmer Tesme and their helper Jos as a horse River is about to give birth. With Kes' aid, the siblings celebrate the birth of the foal when a stranger asks Kes for help.

Kes senses the man is different and somehow has ties to the griffins. Bering a healer who uses herbs she goes with him to attend to healing the griffins. As she assists them without herbs and communicates telepathically; a mage and diplomat escorted by soldiers arrive to investigate tales of griffins coming across the mountains from Casmantium.

The insight into the griffin culture owns the opening tale of the aptly titled The Griffin Mage saga; the humans even the heroic lead healer pale in comparison. The story line is an entertaining fantasy; however in spite of a map, the deployments of large forces including the griffins flying across the mountain range were difficult to envision what it took these various groups to accomplish their respective missions; that is a key reason exiting Iraq in an orderly manner takes time. Still this is the tale of the griffins soaring through the skies over Feierabiand and their healer learning their ways and more to help them to fly with the winds they brought with them.

The Black Prism
Brent Weeks
9780316075558 $25.99

He had been the Prism who controlled the magic of the Chromeria. However that seems like eternity as he lost the civil war to his brother Gavin, the current Prism. Everyday since Gavin incarcerated him in a dungeon beneath heir home, Jacen sees a world of dispiritingly gray; he lives hoping to regain the colors he lost to his sibling.

Gavin may be an intelligent High priest-Emperor who controls the Prism since he defeated his sibling by using guile, but he knows what happened to his brother could occur to him as Prisms have relatively short life cycle usage. Once his prism dies, he will die too. Gavin knows his prism has five years of life left; five years for him to accomplish five unattainable quests or his world will lose all color and consequently all life.

Gavin is stunned to learn he sired a son. Kip will have the power of the Prism, untrained. The lad could be the opponent in the next war of power. At the same the son learns who his dad and uncle are and begins to find out about the sibling splintering, but is unsure what he should do as increasingly he fears the world is going to implode if the colors run out.

The opening tale in the Black prism fantasy is an exhilarating thriller that uses the colors of a prism as the source of magic. The story line focuses on the three male leads while cleverly interweaving the Weeks' "physics" of magic into the plot. Fast-paced and character driven, fans will enjoy the first act as the Prime Prism practitioner begins a quest knowing he must remain vigilant watching for his son and his insane brother; failure will mean death or worse a lunacy to parallel that of colorless Gavin who once tasted the power of the colors.

Death Most Definite
Trent Jamieson
9780316078009 $7.99

Following his divorce, Steven de Selby becomes a Psychopomp at his family firm Mortmax Industries. His job as a Pomp requires him to send the souls of the dead to their final resting place.

At the mall for lunch, a female ghost who should not be there warns Steven to run, saving his life, but before he can pomp her she is gone. An unknown entity attacks the employees at the company's offices in Sydney and Melbourne; everyone is killed. The ghost of a former peer warns Steven that he and the other Pomps at the Brisbane office are targeted next. Just an average guy, Steven dodges an apparent supernatural killing machine giving him no time to mourn for the loss of his family as he is a target. He also struggles with an impossible backlog of souls since the organization was downsized by the enemy. Then there are the Stirrers wearing the bodies of his loved ones: Steven knows being a Pomp is an unsafe occupation at the moment.

This is a fun tongue in cheek Australian urban fantasy whose underlying premise is soul departing has been privatized by "Mr. D". The story line is fast-paced and filled with straightforward action as the reader will not be surprised by events, but will enjoy each soul raising escapade that Steven seems to get caught up in. Fans will appreciate his adventures to avoid pomping himself with few others around to do so as death becomes him.

The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World's Most Perplexing Cold Cases
Michael Capuzzo
Gotham (Dutton)
9781592401420 $26.00

This is a terrific look at the mysterious (pun intended) Vidocq Society pledged to solve the tundra of cold cases. Established by internet expert William Fleisher, profiling guru Richard Walter and forensic sculptor Frank Bender, the group is named after Napoleonic era Parisian detective Eugene Vidocq. They meet to brainstorm, discuss processes and solve cases as cold as five decades old and more.

The over fifty cases are fascinating in a macabre way as Michael Capuzzo graphically describes the crimes such as Marie Noe convicted as a septuagenarian in 1999 for killing eight of her kids in 1949 or John List who murdered his family to keep them religiously pure but afterward vanished for two decades before being sculptured. Well written, it is the human element accentuated by the victims such as Widow Marilyn Flax who negotiated with her husband's kidnapper-killer that grips the audience; her story will leave readers eyes watering. Throughout the 56 entries is the underlying competitive camaraderie between the trio, bickering to the amusement of observers like us readers over glasses. Graphic (one killer cut off the visage of those murdered) yet heartfelt (all will cheer when the caught priest mutters "God damn", The Murder Room is a true crime winner.

Waking the Witch
Kelley Armstrong
9780525951780 $25.95

The three homicides in Columbus, Washington imply that a supernatural serial killer is on the loose. Portland, Oregon twenty-something witch Savannah Levine of Cortez-Winterbourne Investigations (one bolt would change the name to Levine Investigations) and hybrid human-demon investigator Jesse Aanes make inquiries.

Savannah wants to prove that she has the mental and physical toughness to go it alone. She believes her witch powers will enable her to obtain the information needed to determine who the culprit is. However, to her chagrin when she casts a spell, her powers fail her. Meanwhile their unknown adversary continues the killing spree with no end in sight unless Savannah and Jesse find the serial killer.

This is an entertaining twist to Savannah's saga as her traits as the tough sassy child of Stolen remain in the adult though more under control. Making matters difficult for her is when she most needs her bewitching skills they seem to vanish. Filled with wonderful spins and a horde of corpses, Waking the Witch is a wonderful Otherworld urban fantasy mystery as unlike her heroine Kelly Armstrong's bewitching ability to entertain remains as strong as ever.

The Liar's Lullaby
Meg Gardiner
9780525951728, $24.95

Country singer Tasia McFarland wants a return to the top of the charts, but even with a former pedigree connection her chances are zero. Tasia is the ex wife of the current President of the United States Robert McFarland. Combining her two failures singing and marriage into an explosive political song, Tasia makes a strong comeback to the top of the country charts.

On tour, Tasia flies by helicopter to the outdoor stage; as she is lowered, a shot is fired and the singer is dead. SFPD Lieutenant Amy Tang and a friend of the victim, knows Tasia used a Colt 45, the murder weapon. She wonders if her friend committed suicide or was assassinated. She asks forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett to conduct a psychological autopsy. At the same time, radical Tom Paine on his internet site the Tree of Liberty accuses President McFarland and his supporters of murder to shut up a popular critic who knew POTUS intimately.

Over the top of the Coit Tower, The Liar's Lullaby is an exciting police procedural with national implications. The story line is fast-paced as Amy and Jo investigate while Paine proves a pain to their inquiry with his conspiracy demands that the government leaders be arrested, convicted and executed. Fans will enjoy Meg Gardiner's fun taut thriller just leave the plausibility meter in the Bay.

Red Rain
Bruce Murkoff
9780307272072 $26.95

In 1864 after spending the last decade as part of the cavalry in California fighting against Indians, Dr. William Harp returns home to his Rondout, New York farm depressed over the atrocities he witnessed. Although the Hudson Valley is far from the battlefields, William quickly realizes his neighbors are impacted by the men at war. Dr. Harp is very concerned with the well-being of those left behind.

Thirteen years old Coley Hinds is becoming a drunkard. Jane Blessing fears for the life of her spouse Frank Quinn, missing in action and presumed dead. Her brother Mickey Blessing retired from shipping, but increasingly turns violent as an enforcer for businessman Harry Grieves; Mickey mentors Coley on how to enforce a business deal. Finally a local woman has been murdered, but no one wants to talk about it as Will begins to find a mastodon's skeletal remains one bone at a time.

This is a deep historical tale that looks closely on the impact of war on those far from the front, but affected either by loved ones in uniform or the economic shock. The ensemble cast is fully developed to that each brings to life what the Civil War and the Indians War mean and do to them. Readers will relish this terrific saga as all's not quit on the Hudson Valley front even with no military battles for hundred of miles.

Layover in Dubai
Dan Fesperman
9780307268389 $25.95

Road weary American auditor Sam Keller is in his twentieth nation as an employee of Pfluger Klaxon. He and his business companion Charlie Hatcher are in Dubai when the latter is murdered. Although Sam vomits twice at the sight of the blown away Charlie, the cops believe he is the killer so he flees rather than take his chances on Middle East justice even if Dubai is a very westernized center.

He soon finds the Russian Mafia and his own pharmaceutical company want him dead. Dubai police officer Anwar Sharaf believes the American is innocent as the alleged motive fails to hold up under minor scrutiny. However, his investigation leads to him on run from his corrupt peers, the Russians and the hired guns of Sam's firm.

This is an exciting over the top of the Burj Khalifa as the audience gets a close up look at perhaps the most capitalist center in the world conflicted between money and religious beliefs. Fast-paced, Sharaf makes the tale work as he rejects the mainstream bias news, jealous peers and deadly others who threaten his loved ones to insure the right people are arrested. Sam pales in comparison to him during his Layover in Dubai.

Laurence Gonzales
9780307272607 $24.95

With the death of her associate in the Congo, primate anthropologist Jenny Lowe rescues her crony's daughter Lucy as the civil war continues to go unabated and ugly. Jenny and Lucy go to the anthropologist's home in Chicago where the girl act s weird, but not shocking as she lived in the jungle.

Jenny begins to reconsider the child's skills displaying abnormal strength and superhuman agility. However, it is Lucy's seemingly instinctive preference to stay in trees rather than the ground that leads Jenny to realize that her tweener is a hybrid mix of half human and half pygmy chimpanzee. DNA testing confirms what the two females sort of knew. The kid insists she is a humanzee who reads the classics and can speak in several tongues, but has incredible senses well beyond the human range. Scientists make a bid to study her and HSD declares she doesn't have any rights because she is not human and could be a terrorist

This deep look at what is human will have readers pondering the definition while wondering with a nod to Frankenstein although Lucy is charming how far science should go. The story line is fast-paced while introducing readers to a myriad of complex social, scientific and religious problematic convergences. Although the ending feels overly neat after how complicated the questions of Lucy's human rights as a hybrid, fans will relish this thought provoking powerhouse.

Mr. Peanut
Adam Ross
9780307270702 $25.95

Alice Pepin dies with a peanut stuck in her throat. Her distraught computer game developer husband of thirteen years David claims she knew she was allergic to peanuts which caused an anaphylactic shock reaction and believes the depression sufferer committed suicide.

Detectives Sheppard and Hastroll agree the husband is guilty of murder. They plan to prove it starting with a good cop bad cop interrogation of David; his first words to them are he did not kill her. However, what hits home to Ward and Sam, the cops on the case, is how much David's relationship with his late wife parallels their respective relationships with their still living wives.

This is a strange well written disturbing police procedural that uses death to look clearly at three "loving" couples through mostly the lenses of the males frustrated with their partners. Character driven, readers will wonder whether David killed Alice and whether the cops sympathized with him sort of like the courtroom scene in How To Murder Your Wife in which viewers wonder whether the juror will press the imaginary button or not. Fans who relish something refreshingly different in their suspense reading will appreciate the unique Mr. Peanut.

Dead Line
Stella Rimington
9780307272546 $25.95

M16 Agent Templeton in Cyprus reports that a contact Abboud insists Syrian deputy director of dreaded Idarat al-Mukhabarat Tibshirani believes that a London based Lebanese expatriate Sami Veshara and Chris Marcham intend to devastate the upcoming Middle East peace conference being held in Scotland. Disrupting efforts is expected by most counterterrorist groups, but what makes this allegation different is that the credit (and consequently the blame) will be given to Syria. With the leaders from the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iran participating, MI5 officer Liz Carlyle is assigned to investigate the plausibility and if affirmed who they belong to.

As she follows leads, Liz fears time is running out. Clues either go nowhere or lead to more questions. She begins to revise her theory from these two nonentities to hypothesize whether the original source is using a ploy to cause some other unknown havoc although why remains out of reach. Liz knows a major incident could lead to devastating chaos in the Middle East and the end of peace negotiations for years to come.

This is a great espionage thriller that readers will fully appreciate. Thirtyish Liz is at her best in her latest tale (see At Risk, Illegal Action and Secret Asset) trying to connect dots that not only do not link but add more points to the increasingly convoluted equation. Readers will join Liz as she races to prevent a disaster but by whom and why remain just outside her analysis.

Lisa T. Bergen
David C. Cook
9781434767066 $14.99

Several years ago, his father left Dominc St. Clair to watch over his sisters as they traveled from Philadelphia to Colorado Springs while also setting up the family publishing business in the growing city. His beautiful sister Moira was sent west to get her away from her myriad of suitors while his other sibling Odessa came to stay at a sanatorium for consumption victims. Odessa married rancher Bryce (see Breathe) and Moira began a professional stage career (see Sing) so Nic left to see the world as he always dreamed of doing.

Though several years have passed and feeling guilty, Nic returns to Colorado to see how his sisters are doing. Moira left Paris after suffering a burn to her neck, ear and scalp and being burned by the men in her life. She never forgot Daniel whom she met in Colorado Springs before she left to sing to the world; now she knows who she wants to sing to for the rest of her life if he will take her back. Nic arrives in nearby Gunnison where he meets Peter and the miner's son. They work a mine together that begins to help him heal with the world that broke his dreams. However, he meets and falls in love with Sabine the schoolteacher who makes him feel life is worth living.

The third Homeward Bound tale is an excellent end to the super historical saga that blends romance history, and inspiration into a powerful trilogy. Each of the three St. Clair sibling learn that life is filled with remorseful qualms yet lost opportunities must never prevent a person from living to the fullest; the fullest defined as sharing your soul with loves ones. Lisa T. Bergren is three for three with one of the best historical trilogies in recent years.

Tom Davis
David C. Cook
9781589191037 $14.99

Photojournalist Stuart Daniels found purpose and faith when he helped an African orphan (see Scared). Now he heads to Russia on his latest project. There his friend Katya asks him to say yes when someone calls him at his hotel room offering him a girl; she also says she will explain further.

However, Stuart soon learns that the orphan child he met on his last stay in Russia is in trouble. Human traffickers are selling Marina Smolchenko to the highest bidder in a sex slave auction. His efforts to rescue Marina lead him to freedom fighter Katya who risks her life to liberate the sex slaves. His faith in the Lord is reduced with his observation of humanity's cruelty and he wonders how God can allow this to happen to the innocent.

Like Stuart on his latest journey, readers will be stunned with what happens to people sold like commodities by human traffickers (Mr. Davis states 27 million with 1 million under eighteen years of age). The lead protagonist and the audience will ask why God allows such atrocities to occur while readers will also wonder if Stuart will rescue Marina and the others, and regain his faith. Thought provoking yet fast-paced and loaded with action, Priceless is not an easy read as this is Marina's profound shocking tale and the story of her "sisters" sold as sex slaves to wealthy clients around the globe (including Americans).

The Mailbox
Marybeth Whalen
David C. Cook
9780781403696 $14.99

In 1985, teenager Lindsey Adams left her first letter at the Kindred Spirit mailbox in Sunset Beach, North Carolina. Every year afterward, she would write a letter about what happened to her and loved ones and drop it off at the mailbox.

In 2004, following her husband Grant divorcing her, Lindsey and their two kids (eleven years old Anna and eight years old Jake) return to Sunset Beach to stay in her uncle's home. She assumes she will be writing her saddest letter since her first love with Campbell Forrester ended heartbrokenly without the long term commitment she desired. However, in Sunset beach, Lindsey and an also divorced Campbell meet and are still attracted to one another and want a second chance at love.

This is a terrific whimsical contemporary romance that uses the real Kindred Spirits mailbox as a focus into the past and present lives of the lead characters. Readers will enjoy the fine tale and take guilty pleasure in reading someone else's personal letters. The Mailbox is a wonderful quirky tale.

Denis Robert
Serpents Tail
9781852429591 $14.95

He is a thirty nine years old writer with a wife and three children. She is a reader of his work with a much older husband and his adult son. They meet and are instantly attracted to one another. Since he writes in hotel rooms because they are quiet and her spouse is totally preoccupied with his work, they easily begin a tryst. Both somewhat conceal their real everyday lives from one another while enjoying their fantasy trysts that enable them to escape reality though sexual encounters.

Using the odd numbered pages to tell his side and even numbered pages to tell her side, Happiness is a strange he said, she said look at an affair as each of the leads tell their side on events. None of their trysts last more than a page and a few are left blank. Thus the audience knows almost nothing about the "real" lives of the fantasy lovers. This lack of knowledge reduces the impact as the pair lacks depth beyond their hedonistic encounters. Still different and gimmicky, fans who enjoy an intimate passionate relationship that ironically never truly becomes intimate and compassionate beyond sex will want to read the intriguing look at Happiness.

The Corpse King
Tim Curran
Cemetery Dance
9781587671968 $30.00

Long after the mourners leave the graveyard, Samuel Clow and Mickey Kierney arrive to dig up the body. They make a living selling corpses to those in need of cadavers. They never lack for customers or supply as skeletal remains in high demand.

During a bloody downpour, the pair works until Kierney's shovel hits a wooden object. He scrapes mud off of it and hits it again. He tells his ghoulish partner he is uncomfortable with what might be inside this wood; Clow figures his partner found the devil's work so he hooks the wood to life it out of the grave. They find a woman with perfect teeth that a dentist would buy covered by a shroud. They stop at the Sign of the Boar where dead drunk for two pennies is a way of life for all patrons. However, this time they will learn of a more experienced competitor who is a grave robber too, but this defiler of the dead does not sell the merchandise; instead harvests the dead for personal use as The Corpse King who has plans to use the pair of miscreants.

The atmosphere is dark, grim, and creepy; and that describes the non cemetery scenes. The nocturnal trips to the cemetery are even darker, grimmer and creepier. Readers who relish a throwback horror thriller with a Poe like gloomy environs and slimy lead characters including the rapaciously hungry title protagonist will enjoy the Corpse King.

Edited by Lou Anders
Gallery (Simon and Schuster)
9781439168820 $15.00

This fifteen short story collection pays homage to superheroes and supervillains, as each needs the other (like Ali and Frazier) to anchor their super status. None of the entries are horrific though a couple are only okay. Most are entertainingly super as the authors captured the essence of the comic book sub-genre. The creators of the great Jack of Fables, Matthew Sturges and Bill Willingham respectively open and close the anthology with fascinating solo entries: "Cleansed and Set In Gold" by Sturges focuses on heroes struggling with the death of a seemingly invincible member while "A to Z in the Ultimate Big Company Superhero Universe (Villains Too)" by Willingham is an odd but interesting encyclopedic look at flawed super-humans. In "Message from the Bubble Gum Factory" by Daryl Gregory, an envious sidekick finally understands what sacrifices a superhero must endure. Marjorie M. Liu's "Call Her Savage" stars a classic heroine whose legend for destruction forces her to live up to the myth as her fan following would expect nothing less. Also excellent is Stephen Baxter's science fiction "Vacuum Lad." as the first star child grows up in a seemingly vacuum, but was born over two decades ago in 1557 in Saudi Arabia (2136 by the Christian calendar user). Strange but superb is "Tonight We Fly" by Ian McDonald as Chester gets no peace from the next door kids while Belfast has no heroes or villains yet Captain Miracle flies far away from his adversary Dr. Nightingshade. Masked is a strong collection that catches the essence of the modern golden age of superheroes and their super opponents.

Shadow of the Swords
Kamran Pasha
Washington Square (Simon and Schuster)
9781416579953 $16.00

Late in the twelfth century, Richard the Lionhearted commands his Christian army on the Third Crusade to take back the Holy Land from the Infidels. His wily adversary is Saladin whose Muslim military tries to repel the European invaders from Palestine.

Richard the Christian and Saladin the Muslim share so many traits as strong skillful military and political leaders but also an attraction of the Jewish niece of Maimonides: the scholar, philosopher and physician. Each wants Miriam, but she has her own agenda to use the sly adversaries' desires to save her people.

Shadow of the Swords is an excellent fully rounded medieval thriller that provides the audience an astute look at the strategic thinking of the two great leaders and that of the Jews caught in the middle of the latest crusades. Fascinatingly neither Richard nor Saladin expects to outright win, but religious loyalty means they fight in God's name. Historical fiction fans, having read the Christian perspective many times before, will fully appreciate the fresh observations of Saladin, Maimonides and Miriam as the latest bloody war in the name of God is fought.

Don Winslow
Simon and Schuster
9781439183366 $25.00

In affluent Laguna Beach, California, Ben and Chon manage a profitable marijuana business. However, the Baja Cartel wants to expand into the Laguna Bea ch theater of operations and two punk Americans will not prevent them.

Ben agrees with the Mexicans' assessment as he wants no trouble. However, former SEAL Chon, as Ophelia describes, has a "baditude" who does not mind a fight though he would also prefer a peaceful solution. The partners reject the foreign demands, but ignore the cartel until the Baja banditos go too far when they snatch O. They plan to take the war to the cartel as late night second half buffs Letterman and Leno in order to rescue O.

Don Winslow savages the American war on drugs (and immigration) with this wild bloody thriller. In between the flowing of red and profanity, celebrities and politicians are lampooned as capitalism at its oligopoly best. Mr. Winslow makes a case for more of the trade insanity of Second Amendment selling of weapons to the Mexican Cartels who sell drugs to the Americans and buy more weapons. Don't read on a full stomach, Savages takes no prisoners.

Of Bees and Mist
Erick Setiawan
Simon and Schuster
9781416596257 $15.00

Meridia's home contains all types of magical spells and demons; not all kind. She thinks she will escape her hell of her dysfunctional battling parents when she falls in love with her knight in shining armor. She knows Daniel will rescue her.

However, Meridia had not counted on his family especially his mother making her parents look harmonious. Eva is abusive to everyone but especially her new daughter in law. She uses bees as spies and weapons of mass destruction. Her treatment of others including Meridia has her finally fighting back as Daniel fails to intercede between the two women in his life.

This is an interesting adult fairy tale parable that exaggerates Meridia's overall purity and the evilness of her parents and mother-in-law; the spouse is a wuss who chooses neither side in the extended family war of good and evil. Ghosts and killer bees add excitement to the mix, but Meridia as victim in her parents' home and Meridia as victim in her husband's home is too frequent with little respite as Erick Setiawan argues that adhering to the Golden Rule does not mean others will likewise. Still sub-genre readers will enjoy the war between the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law while the man who links them stays docilely neutral.

Tough Customer
Sandra Brown
Simon & Schuster
9781416563105 $26.99

Dodge Henley is an investigator for a defense attorney. He and real estate manager Caroline King had a child together, but Dodge betrayed her so she turned her back on him. The last time he saw his daughter was when she was born thirty years ago. Dodge never expected to see either of them again.

One night Caroline calls him to come home because Berry desperately needs him as she is being stalked by Oren Starks. The psychopath entered her house while she was in the shower and aimed a gun at her. Her co-worker ran inside when he heard her scream; but Oren shoots him and yells at Berry he will return to kill her. While in hiding Oren kills an elderly man and a young woman so the pressure is on the sheriff to apprehend him before someone else dies at the hands of this lunatic. Dodge knows he still loves Caroline and adores his daughter. He teams up with Merritt County Sheriff's Deputy Ski Nylander to go after the maniac as each vows to never quit until they either die, or Oren is stopped and captured alive or dead.

The lead in Smash Cuts, Dodge returns, but remains a loner who is unable to allow any woman get close to her since he never moved passed his love for Caroline who in spite of the decades still rocks his world while the scars of their break-up haunts him today. Even with that emotional hang-up, this is a fantastic non stop action thriller with an underlying second chance romance as Sandra Brown will rock the reader's world.

Babylon Nights
Daniel Depp
Simon and Schuster
9781439101469 $24.00

Vincent Perec stalks former A-list actress Anna Mayhew. Although she is nearly forty and out of the limelight for over a decade with no parts in years, Perec is fascinated by her, dedicating a room in her honor. His mother is a critical observer of her son's obsession; so he kills her. He writes what he did to his mom and what he plans to do to his infatuation

Anna's sister Pam hires investigator and bodyguard David Spandau to keep her sibling safe especially when they attend Cannes. Anna is a judge at the renowned film festival. David and Anna are attracted to one another, but he fears acting on his desire because he knows what happens to women he loves (see Loser's Town). Perec arrives with plans that involve several crimes. Soon the parties wi ll collide in a confrontation that makes real life more perilous than the movies.

This is a gritty thriller as much of the cast seems shallow and selfish yet seems more like Mother Theresa compared with Perec. Anna is a has-been in her mind with hopes that Cannes reignites her dead career before she does something harsh to herself to regain the limelight. Spandau is not afraid of a duel with Perec but fears telling Anna how he feels about her. Perec is a stereotypical psychopath, but makes the tale work as he comes to the French Riviera not to attend the film festival but to attend to his woman.

The Whisperers
John Connolly
9781439165195 $26.00

In Baghdad, looters steal the treasures from the Museum of Antiquities. Only a locked box is left behind. American soldiers are among those ransacking the country's valuables bringing them home when their tour ends.

In 2009 in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, highly decorated soldier Damien Patchett rushes outside his home with his dog Sandy. He struggles with control and forces his loyal canine to flee before pulling the trigger of the gun he holds. His distraught father hires private detective Charlie Parker to learn why his son and two other returning vets from his unit recently committed suicide. The case turns eerie even for a man who lives partially in the paranormal. Charlie learns of the illegal cargo and of a sinister smuggling operation run between the Great North Woods that straddle Canada and the United States. Knowing he will need help, he enlists his two buddies Louis and Angel to assist him as he deals with a dying Herod, a malevolent shadowy Captain and disenchanted veterans back from the desert.

This is a great Charlie Parker thriller; perhaps the best in several years as John Connolly cleverly blends the ancient with the modern. Fast-paced, the exhilarating story line focuses on evil from ancient Sumerian times and the previous Administration's ignoring the needs of returning soldiers many of who suffer with untreated PTSD. The suicide rate of soldiers and marines are very high in spite of some super efforts by the military to prevent this from happening. The Whisperers is Mr. Connolly in top form as he condemns chicken hawks that demand war but refuse to pay for it inside a strong action-packed tale.

Blood Men
Paul Cleave
9781439189610 $16.00

When Edward Hunter was nine years old his life radically changed. First a voice in his head directed him to put nails inside a steak that he fed to a dog, who died a painful death. In that same year his father dubbed Jack the Hunter was arrested and convicted of killing at least eleven prostitutes; his older sister died from an overdose; and finally Edward's mom committed suicide unable to cope with what Jack did.

Shocked into behaving, Edward becomes an accountant and affectionately loving towards his wife Jodie and their six-year-old daughter Sam. During Christmas week Jodie and Edward are at a bank in Christchurch, New Zealand when six armed robbers assault the place. Edward goes into face them, but his confrontation leads to Jodie's death. The dormant voice is back ordering him to kill. Shook by his wife's death and the voice, Edward visits his father for the first since Jack was locked away. Jack says he heard the voice too and suggests to his son to follow its call and avenge the murder of his beloved wife.

This is a fascinating character study that looks deeply at what motivates anti society activities. The story line is at its best when the focus is inside the head of Edward who thinks he may just be a chip off the old block. However, the story line also contains too many subplots in which none fully take charge though ultimately the myriad converge in a final clash. Still fans of twisting psychological thrillers with a red sea of blood will want to read Edward's lament (perhaps too much lamenting by him) as he fears his DNA imprint is serial killer not family patriarch.

Blood Men
Paul Cleave
9781439189610 $16.00

When Edward Hunter was nine years old his life radically changed. First a voice in his head directed him to put nails inside a steak that he fed to a dog, who died a painful death. In that same year his father dubbed Jack the Hunter was arrested and convicted of killing at least eleven prostitutes; his older sister died from an overdose; and finally Edward's mom committed suicide unable to cope with what Jack did.

Shocked into behaving, Edward becomes an accountant and affectionately loving towards his wife Jodie and their six-year-old daughter Sam. During Christmas week Jodie and Edward are at a bank in Christchurch, New Zealand when six armed robbers assault the place. Edward goes into face them, but his confrontation leads to Jodie's death. The dormant voice is back ordering him to kill. Shook by his wife's death and the voice, Edward visits his father for the first since Jack was locked away. Jack says he heard the voice too and suggests to his son to follow its call and avenge the murder of his beloved wife.

This is a fascinating character study that looks deeply at what motivates anti society activities. The story line is at its best when the focus is inside the head of Edward who thinks he may just be a chip off the old block. However, the story line also contains too many subplots in which none fully take charge though ultimately the myriad converge in a final clash. Still fans of twisting psychological thrillers with a red sea of blood will want to read Edward's lament (perhaps too much lamenting by him) as he fears his DNA imprint is serial killer not family patriarch.

A Hidden Affair
Pam Jenoff
9781416590712 $22.99

At Cambridge University Jared Short and Jordan Weiss were lovers until he accidentally drowned. At least that is what Jordan thought. When the U.S. Foreign Service diplomat learns the truth that her grief for years was for a sham, she needs to know why he faked his death. She leaves the State department to pursue the truth while someone wants her to be silenced on this matter.

Jordon follows leads that take her to Nicole Short who apparently knows Jared and where to find him, but conceals everything. She follows Nicole, which takes her to widower Ari Bruck, whom Jordon believes is an undercover Mossad field operative also interested in Jared though not revealing why. Distrusting each other in spite of their attraction, they agree to team up in search of the elusive Jared as clues taken them all over France from the Riviera to the wine country and onto the rest of the continent.

A Hidden Affair is an intriguing romantic espionage starring a brave female who seeks the truth about the only man she thought she loved until her attraction with Ari. The pair shares in common grief; hers is for her college lover who allegedly drowned in the Cam and his for his late wife and daughter. Filled with twists, fans will want to know what happened to Jared. With a tie to vanished rare wine lost in WWII that enhances the exciting story line, A Hidden Affair is a super thriller.

Final Cut
Kay Finch
Top Publications
9781929976683 $14.95

In Houston, private investigator Corie McKenna waits outside the house where she tracked down Jack Litchfield who is in hiding. After a week of searching for him she patiently waits for Jack to appear so she can serve him with divorce papers. Jack's estranged wife Nora, owner of the exclusive spa Serenity in the City, calls Corie asking if he was served; Corie stays polite though the woman irks her; Nora's lawyer, the investigator's friend Wade, owes her the world for her putting up with this obnoxious client of his. She serves the papers, but a raging Jack drops them yelling at a retreating Corie.

She next goes to the home of Carmen Messina who cuts hair at the spa to serve her papers notifying her to be at the Litchfield divorce hearing next week. Instead she finds Carmen drowned in the swimming pool. HPD Detective Belton is cynical as he interviews Corie. Soon afterward, Jack vanishes taking more than his share of the community property with him. Other murders occur as Corie finds herself caught in the crosshairs all because of delivering subpoenas in a deadly divorce case.

The second McKenna Houston private investigation thriller (see Final Degree) is an entertaining whodunit as the heroine learns how nasty divorce can be while serving papers. The case hooks the audience as an unknown avaricious adversary is serving death with Corie seemingly one step behind the killer. Readers will relish this terrific Texas two-step of served and dead.

Love Finds You in Lahaina, Hawaii
Bodie Thoene
9781935416784 $12.99

UCLA American History graduate student Sandi Smith goes to bed every night for the past four and a half years wondering whether her husband John is dead or a guest of the Viet Cong. The military list John as an MIA and though she prays for him, Sandi knows he probably will never come home and she will never know his fate. As part of the university sponsored history project she flies to Maui to meet with the oldest person on the island Auntie Hannah to discuss with the elderly woman what she recalls about the Kingdom of Hawaii royal family in the late nineteenth century.

Auntie Hannah provides more than just a verbal response to the visiting Californian: she provides insight as she attended school with Princess Kauliana in London; whimsicality remarking her last great cup of tea was in 1897. She gives Sandi journals that focus on the 1890s when her best friend and companion Crown Princess "barbarian princess" Kauliana of the Kingdom of Hawaii tried diligently to return the nation back to a monarchy. As rebellion stirs to become part of the United States, Scottish missionary Andrew arrives on Lahaina leaving the Princess with difficult choices to make; just like Sandi must do on a lesser scale now that she has met Ar chie.

This is a great historical romance with a strong historiographic spin and a terrific Royal Flush twist. With a strong sense of place and eras (the 1890s and 1973), this character driven by the lead females in the two periods provide the audience with an excellent entry in the Love Finds You series.

The Gathering Storm
Brodie and Brock Thoene
Summerside Press
9781609360337 $14.99

In years, Lorelei is a youngster, but with Hitler's rise to power, she is forced to grow up fast. She is an American citizen living in Berlin; born to a Texas mother and Austrian Protestant missionary. Her mom die d a few years ago, but she and her dad reside in Germany when they are forced to see by the mysterious Ebon Golah that a shadow will soon lay across the world. She marries German Jew Varrick Kepler so can he can obtain papers to escape Germany.

Having lived through Kristallnacht, Lora and her family move to Brussels where she is reunited with her husband. Hitler doesn't give them very much time together as his troops blitzkrieg across Belgium. Varrick dies on the front line forcing Lora, her father and her sister to flee to England. They stop at Tyne Cott where they meet Captain Judah Blood who along with other soldiers tries to get them across the Channel. Judith helps them get to England where she works with Jewish and other refugees from the continent and reunites with Eben who obviously conceals a secret that the war widow plans to uncover.

The first book in the new B&B Thoene Zion Diaries series brings readers deep into the heart of Nazi Germany as Hitler fashions the expanding nation in his image. Readers will admire the courageous heroine who grows up rather fast as she does her best to help others escape the Hitler's insane wrath. With homage to Anne Frank and a touch of metaphysics and romance enhancing the war epic, The Gathering Storm is a terrific opening act as the Thoene tandem transports fans back to a period of horrific crimes against humanity with brave souls trying to rescue the unfortunate.

Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico
Lena Nelson Dooley
9781935416746 $12.99

In 1890 Golden, New Mexico, elderly and ailing former miner Philip Smith explains to his best friend Jeremiah Dennison why he plans to place an ad in the Boston Globe for a mail-order bride. He has money without family and figures someone can nurse him until he dies or recovers while he would be helping a Lady in desperate straits to take such a position. Jerry tries to talk the man he considers his father out of doing this, but fails.

In Boston, Maddy Mercer grieves the death of her father when his former business partner Horace Johnstone informs her they will marry just like her dad wanted. With a responsibility for a newborn while also loathing the avaricious Horace and knowing she and her baby needed to escape a life of hell if married to him; kind hearted Maddy decides on the unknown. She responds to an ad for a mail-order bride placed in the Globe.

Unable to talk Philip out of doing the insanity, Jeremiah plans to persuade the bride to go home. Then he meets Maddy accompanied by baby Pearl and her devoted servants Frank and Sarah Sneed who nurture a dying Philip like he was their father; not understanding her Massachusetts secret toddles between them.

This is a pure golden historical romance starring a courageous caring woman, a wonderful old man, and the male hunk who loves both of them (and Pearl too). The strong lead cast and solid support characters bring alive the mining town in 1890, but it is the relationships that make for a strong Americana tale. Lena Nelson Dooley writes a warm wonderful winner.

Susan Hasler
9780312576035 $24.99

All that matters in the global war on terrorism is for the Administration to win the upcoming election. With that in mind the politicians only are concerned with victories that they can trumpet through the media to the frightened masses who devour the keeping your loved ones safe pabulum. In other words 9/11 is a political tool to get reelected or diaper your butt.

Counterterrorism expert Madeline James and her motley crew believe a 9/11 like attack is coming. As they struggle to prove their assertion by mining through warehouses of slag, the agency's brass rejects the notion; scorning the "alchemists" trying to make gold from lead. Instead her leaders demand Maddie and her cell turn to what is important, which is to make the cherry picking case for war with Iran as directed by the Administration whose political wing be lieves a war president denotes reelection.

This intelligent one sitting thriller may be the espionage tale of the year as Susan Hasler uses recent history to paint a picture of political opportunism superseding honest assessments (think of Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz dunking of Shinseki). All the president's men and women must only support his reelection. With a strong underlying warning to watch out for the politicos in charge willingly sacrificing those brave individuals who actually try to place the safety of Americans above the media-political-business complex. This environment is what the heroine and her alchemists face as they try to separate the chafe by connecting the dots of too much intel.

The Chill of the Night
James Hayman
9780312532710 $24.99

In Maine at the Portland Fish Exchange, an abandoned car contains a naked corpse. Portland PD Detectives Michael McCabe and Maggie Savage lead the investigation into the homicide of young attorney Lanie Goff. A piece of paper stating: "Amos. 9:10" is left with the frozen body; Michael knows that means sinners must be punished.

On nearby Harts Island paranoid schizophrenic Abby Quinn hears voices in her head; her psychiatrist prescribes medicine to help her. She works at the Legion bar, which she closed early. That is how she saw the naked man use a blade to puncture a nude woman's neck. Stunned she runs to the local Portland PD station where she wakes up Bowman the cop on duty. He assumes she was having one of her hallucinations so he offers to take her to the hospital instead. Now four days later, McCabe heads to Harts Island to interview a witness that the local cop did not believe so a jury would be even less likely to do so. McCabe knows that if he fails to find the culprit Death will occur again as the killer believes the Lord has sanctioned his or her quest.

This is an entertaining wintry Maine police procedural with a strong likable lead cop whose personal issues somewhat intrude on his investigation as little things he cannot help doing like comparing the victim to his ex-wife. That family intrusion and his "probable cause" to open the car trunk enhance the inquiry with realism. McCabe (see The Cutting) and the unique refreshing witness Abby make for a fine whodunit in a frozen locale only detracted by an avenging serial killer who is stereotypical of the subgenre.

The Good Thief's Guide To Vegas
Chris Ewan
9780312580827 $24.99

British author Charlie Howard makes more money as a sophisticated thief. He and his writing agent Victoria visit Las Vegas. There they meet magician Josh Masters, who is performing as the star attraction at the Fifty-Fifty casino on the Strip and apparently attracted to Victoria.

Charlie decides the obnoxious magician needs a lesson for his designs on Victoria so he plans to rob $60,000 in chips from his intended victim's hotel safe. Everything goes according to the good thief's plan until he sees a corpse in Masters' bathtub. During a performance, Masters performs a perfect disappearing act while the casino owners demand Charlie fork over the chips.

The latest Good Thief Guide thriller (see Paris and Amsterdam) is a delightful crime caper in which everything goes Murphy (wrong) for the urbane title character. Charlie is a combo antiheroic hero whose latest escapades have as always led to him into trouble from all sides of the trapezoidal law. Fans will enjoy Charlie's humorous lighthearted misadventures on the Strip as he muses that last week (previous tale) he saw the Eiffel Tower in Paris and this week he sees the Eiffel Tower in Vegas; both visits having in common someone wanting to roll a snake eyes of him from the top.

A Brush with Death
Elizabeth J. Duncan
9780312622824 $24.99

Canadian Expatriate Penny Brannigan inherited her Welsh cottage in Llanelen, Wales from schoolteacher Emma Teasdale. A reasonably successful manicure shop owner, Penny cleans up her cottage when she finds letters describing Emma's affair with Liverpool artist Alys Jones. The painter, preparing for a gallery showing in Liverpool, died in a hit-and-run driver shortly after leaving in 1970.

Penny's plate is overflowing, but she is obsessed with Alys's death. She persuades her boyfriend DI Gareth Davies and police Sergeant Bethan Morgan to assist her as she investigates the cold case hit and run. Villagers are also interested in the Jones' case as most of her paintings vanished with only two canvasses recovered.

The second Brannigan investigative case (see The Cold Light of Mourning) is a wonderful Welsh whodunit as the amateur sleuth assisted by professional cops and the long time residents of Llanelen look into a cold case accident that soon looks like vehicular homicide. Fast-paced, readers will want to joy the intrepid Penny who is in for more than just a pound as she follows the clues, one cup of tea at a time.

A Spider on the Stairs
Cassandra Chan
9780312369408 $25.99

Amateur sleuth Phillip Betancourt knows being the family black sheep makes spending Christmas in Yorkshire at his parent's home as gloomy as the torrent of rain outside. Adding to his family's torrential interrogation of him is questions about his personal life as he no longer is seeing Marla Tate. When cheerful Scotland Yard Detective Sergeant Jack Gibbons calls about a murder in nearby York, Phillip sees an opportunity to escape the torture by joining his friend on the investigation.

The corpse of Deborah Seldon, found in Accessorize in Davygate Shop, might be the work of notorious serial killer Ashdon. When Jack concludes the victim was killed most likely by Ashdon, he notifies the Yard's serial killer Detective Superintendent Brumby; though the case has anomalies. Soon afterward, the proprietor of Mittlesdon's bookshop finds the body of his former employee Jody Farraday inside on Christmas Day. Gibbons and Betancourt investigate only to find too many people had access to the store.

The latest Betancourt-Gibbons collaborative investigation (see Village Affairs, Young Widow and Trick of the Mind) is a superb Yuletide whodunit. The story line is character driven more so by the seemingly hedonistic Betancourt though his buddy the cop holds his own as each is euphoric with having the case. Ironically, a contemporary mystery, fans of the classic British "historical" social class mystery like Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey and Carola Dunn's Lady Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher tales will want to read Cassandra Chan's fun tale.

Shadow Play
Rajorshi Chakraborti
9780312642341 $24.99

Internationally acclaimed author Raj Chakraborti vanishes at a time when the police want to question him in the murder of a journalist. His sudden disappearance turns Raj from a person of interest to a prime suspect.

He sends a package to his editor in which he explains his latest fiction starring a serial killer hired by the government as an assassin and his fear that reality is stranger than fiction as Raj believes a serial killer turned assassin stalks him. He believes this hired murderer waits for the right moment to kill him. Raj wonders if his past in India in the 1970s has come back to destroy him.

Not for everyone this is a strange Kafka like thriller that grips the reader who will wonder whether the character Raj Chakraborti has gone insane or is being hunted down. Rotating perspective between an "autobiography" and a suspense mystery, fans who relish a well written, but odd tale that appears to break the barrier between fiction and non fiction (or has it) will appreciate this convoluted twisting yet entertaining conspiracy tale of the author on the run from who he believes is a sanctioned government killer.

Nevada Barr
9780312614560 $25.99

Leaving her spouse behind at home working, National Park Ranger Anna Pigeon is visiting a friend Geneva in New Orleans. Anna is taken aback when someone places a hex on her using a dead pigeon with arcane etchings on it. She assumes Geneva's tenant Jordan is behind the dark magic attempt, but though he is a peculiar unfriendly sort, she has done nothing to him to warrant such a spell.

Not one to lay back having solved many homicides and other crime mysteries at the parks around the country, Anna investigates who tried to hex her and why, and to learn more about Jordon. As she navigates the dark mumbo jumbo urban jungle of the Big Easy, Anna refuses to be anyone's pigeon though she was not expecting a mundane murder to occur rather than mumbo jumbo mojo magic.

Taking Anna out of the National Park scenes of homicides in every park adds a freshness to her investigations as she is a fish out of water, especially having her hexed in New Orleans. Fast-paced as always, fans will enjoy Anna working the urban jungle rather than the parks as her inqury spins out of control. Neveda Barr is at her sparkling best with this enthralling whodunit.

The Wolves of Fairmount Park
Dennis Tafoya
9780312531164 $25.95

In Philadelphia, a drive-by shooting at a dope house leads two teens rushed to an emergency room; one dies while the other is critically injured. The fathers of the victims are psychologically wounded too. Police Officer Brendan Donovan whose son Michael was severely wounded and local entrepreneur George Parkman Sr. whose son Jr. died in the incident wonder why.

Both dads believe that Brendan's half-brother, Michael's Uncle Orlando a drug addict was the cause of the attack. PPD detectives Danny Martinez and Asa Carmody investigate the shooting that seems increasingly to affirm the theory of the fathers that Orlando was the motive for the deadly drive-by.

This is a gloom and doom deep look at the aftermath of a tragic event as seen mostly through the rotating viewpoints amongst the four males not physically hurt by the incident; though other perspectives by family members, girlfriends and the female detective enhance the dark urban Noir. The fathers are the most fascinating as the cop prays for God to save his beloved son while the tycoon who ignored his offspring when he was alive insists on vengeance. Fans who appreciate a realistic walk on the wild side of the streets will want to read The Wolves of Fairmount Park.

The Dream Queen
Betsy Thornton
9780312602055 $25.99

In Topanga Canyon, California, Chloe Newcombe sat with her brother James as he was dying from AIDS. James' lover Hal also performed the same vigil. Once James passed on, Chloe moves from Topanga Canyon to Manhattan to start over. In New York, she begins seeing a cop while working for a private investigator; but her new boyfriend has a bad alcoholic dependency problem that proved too much for Chloe to cope with so she left the Big Apple for Arizona where her other sibling lives.

Her other brother Danny meets her at the airport. He has a tendency to help troubled people. Thus his current companion is a beautiful lunatic Kristi. The trio travels to his home in Dudley, but make a stop for car repairs. The two females wait nearby, but Danny vanishes. The local cops are indifferent to their plight and that of Danny. The women reach Dudley and move into the home Hal has there that he offered them to use. Soon after they settle down, Kristi disappears. Chloe investigates only to find betrayal seems to be the ticket everyone she knows uses against her.

Chloe in her return to the desert town of Dudley (see A Song for You and Dead for the Winter) is superb as she tries to keep calm while her world seems to be imploding from duplicity. As she tries to learn the truth behind the disappearances, she uncovers homicides and dishonesty from those she trusts. Although the story line is very thin, Chloe's reactions to her discoveries of male perfidy makes for an enjoyable character driven (by the beleaguered heroine) desert mystery.

The Bone Fire
Christine Barber
9780312593506 $24.99

In New Mexico at the Fiesta de Santa Fe gala, the annual Zozobra bonfire is lit in front of happy revelers. The next morning after the four-story high puppet burned to the ground, a human baby's skull is found amidst the Zozobra ashes.

Santa Fe Detective Sergeant Gilbert Montoya leads the inquiry. He fears the victim is Brianna Rodriguez, who vanished a year ago. However the already gruesome murder takes an even more horrific twist when infant body parts including extremities, teeth and bones are creepily left at various area churches. Montoya prays the ghastly remains all belong to Brianna as horrid as that thought is; he knows if not all belonging to Brianna than a deadly serial pedophile is stalking the no longer Land of Enchantment. Also investigating between exercising her elbow (at bars) is reporter Lucy Newroe as the case seems to only lead back to where it began when a toddl er disappeared from her family's barbecue.

This is an exhilarating New Mexico police procedural with some journalistic investigative elements starring two intriguing lead investigators though Montoya is the significant player (see The Replacement Child for his previous case). The plot ironically brings alive the charm, in spite of the horrendous nature of the case, of the Santa Fe area The story line is fast-paced from the moment the skull is found and never slows down as Christine Barber looks deeply at the impa ct of a lost baby in an incestuous family. Although the reason for scattering the bones seems over the top of the Santa Fe Mountains, The Bone Fire is a gripping whodunit.

The Past Is A Foreign Country
Gianrico Carofiglio
9780312383961 $24.99

In the Apulia boot region of Italy, a serial rapist rocks the city of Bari. No woman feels safe as the police led by Lieutenant Chiti struggle to apprehend the culprit. Making no progress disturbs Chiti who cannot eat or sleep properly.

Hard studying diligent law student Giorgio Cipriani meets gust for life philosophy student Francesco Carducci. They become friends; albeit a seemingly odd couple. However, rather quickly Giorgio ignores his studies joining his new buddy in cheating other players out of large sums of money playing poker. They also share drugs and alcohol, and have one night stands that are often violent with a myriad of women. The duo leaves Bari for Spain; while Chiti continues to lose sleep over the serial rapes.

This is a tense psychological suspense that focuses on three people. Chiti feels like a failure unable to prevent the serial rapist from finding victims; Giorgio wonders how he fell so far from grace as he gave up and betrayed all his friends for the hedonistic zest for life that charismatic Francesco displays. However, Francesco is the fascinating one as a sort of Peter Pan with a destructive vent. The Past Is A Foreign Country is a taut tale that grips the audience from the moment the two students meet and go on their frenzy.

Inspector Singh Investigates: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder
Shamini Flint
9780312596972 $24.99

The Singapore Police Brass assigns Inspector Singh to travel to Kuala Lumpur to oversee a homicide inquiry involving a citizen of his country. Former Singaporean model Chelsea Liew has been accused of murdering her affluent abusive Malaysian husband Alan Lee. Singh is not to interfere, but insure his compatriot receives fair treatment.

Singh knows he must work fast before Liew is given local justice, execution style. He investigates the murder of the timber mogul as youthful local Police Sergeant Shukor accompanies him. Corpulent Singh knows his handsome escort is with him to insure he learns nothing to change the obvious outcome. Chelsea sued for divorce from Alan and wanted custody of their children. When her spouse used a religious ploy by proclaiming he was converting to Islam and their sons will also in order to move the marriage dissolution from civil court where she will win to religious court where he will win; she threatened to kill him just before someone did. Thus she had motive and opportunity.

This is a great Malaysian investigative thriller with a terrific legal twist involving religious vs. secular courts as the case takes several other spins. Action-packed, readers will relish Shamini Flint's insightful whodunit with courageous cops. The visiting Singapore inspector must discretely conduct his inquiry with covert assistance from Shukor; while Malaysian Inspector Mohammad watches both of them but also conducts his discrete inquiry. The discerning look at Malaysian system of justice makes for a great tale.

The Templar
P.C. Doherty
9780312576837 $24.99

In November 1095, the Holy Father Pope Urban II declares that it is God's will to liberate Jerusalem from the Turks. Across the Frankish realm, everyone prepares for war to remove the infidels from the Holy Land. In 1096 sixty year old Count Raymond of Toulouse leads the Provencal southern French Crusaders while other units come from Normandy (led by William's son), Italy and Germany. They take different routes across Europe as they march towards Syria and ultimately Jerusalem. Knights like Hugh de Payens and Godefroi of St. Omer are among the contingent. In 1098, the battle of Antioch is successful with the discovery of the Holy Lance and one year later the battle of Jerusalem occurs.

Known for his Ancient Egypt and Chaucer mysteries, P.C. Doherty provides a strong historical tale that focuses on the First Crusade as seen mostly through the eyes of the faithful; especially the French perspective. None of the key cast members feel fully developed as the deep look at events overwhelm the players though ironically the least in historical terms (no mention even in the cast listing) Eleanor is probably the most developed with the horrors she witnesses that make her doubt that this is God's intentions and what she believes drives her sibling to bring God's intentions to the chaos of war. Mr. Doherty makes a strong case that war is hell even when you claim God on your side as Hugh and Godefroi believe when they later form the Templars.

The Extinction Event
David Black
9780765322616 $25.99

Lawyer Frank Milhet picks up hooker Jean Gaynor in the Dutch Village Motel Bar jut north of Niverville, New York. While they have sex and crack, his law firm partner at Milhet & Alvarez Jack Slidell receives a strange call in which his response is he is on the way. He goes to the dive where Milhet and Gaynor were having sex and sniffing only to find Frank dead and Jean out cold. Two cops arrive soon after Jack entered the room and arrest Slidell based on his being at the murder scene, but let him go as they do not have enough to hold him for long.

Apparently someone laced the cocaine with cyanide; the cops still suspect Jack. Meanwhile he is fired, but though depressed he refuses to give up. Encouraged by beautiful legal newcomer with Manhattan connections Caroline Wonder, Jack investigates the homicide; applying skills he developed years ago before law school while at the NY Daily News. His efforts assisted by Caroline lead to the mob and the Feds chasing after them Others soon die too, but in spite of several beatings and a knifing (and twelve-speed sex) Jack and Caroline cannot quite connect the grid.

This is an action-packed noir that readers will enjoy even though the story line is sub-genre centric in every nourished way. Readers will root for Jack who wonders if he fell through Alice's hole, to end up at the Mad Hatter's tea party. Filled with eccentrics, Noir fans will enjoy The Extinction Event wondering like the lead duo on the run (except for interludes) what the motive for the serial killings starting with Milhet could be.

The Lucifer Code
Charles Brokaw
9780765320933 $25.99

Linguistics expert Dr. Thomas Lourds flies from London to Istanbul University to study artifacts that westerners have not seen. At the airport, he meets a beautiful "fan girl" Kristine Webber whom he offers to show her the sights of the city. Kristine grabs his arm in a painful hold and informs the professor he will accompany her; any resistance will lead to his limb broken. When a man offers to help her with her ailing "father", Kristine places a taser in Thomas' hand and forces him to shoot the good Samaritan. Bullets soon fly and many lie dead and wounded at Ataturk International Airport. The CIA is stunned as this was a simple pickup not a frontal assault.

Lourds goes from danger to hell when he is ordered to interpret coded scrolls that the group believes will lead to the greatest revelation ever written; a lost scroll authored by John who authored the Book of Revelation. The scroll contains writings that some fear will mark the beginning of the end of the world while others pray this is true. He becomes the target of several groups who want to control the scroll. On the other hand, his only ally is his former girlfriend deadly Dr. Olympia Adnan who invited him to Istanbul in the first place.

This is an over the top of Mount Ararat Byzantium thriller that grips the audience from the moment Kristine strongholds the professor and never slows down as the hero goes from one lethal scenario to another leading to the translation of the Lucifer Code. Readers who suspend credibility will fully relish Lourds' latest exhilarating roller adventures (see The Atlantis Code) as he learns his mom was right to never talk to strangers; even beautiful ones.

A Dog's Purpose
W. Bruce Cameron
9780765326263 $22.99

Toby is born in the wild with three siblings. However, he and his family are captured by humans. Whereas his mother wants freedom from their guards, Toby comprehends human speak and likes the kindhearted woman running the shelter for stray dogs like him. However, Toby is hurt when a new vicious canine attacks him. The woman puts him down in act of euthanasia.

He returns to life as Bailey the golden retriever pet of young Ethan. They live during the school year with his parents, but in the summer the lad and his dog live with his grandparents on their farm; both are attracted to Hannah. When Ethan is a teenager, a schoolmate burns down Ethan's house; injuring him. He and Bailey recuperate at the farm even as the boy's parents separate. Bailey comforts Ethan before dying of old age.

"He" comes back as a female Ellie the K-9 police dog until she loses her sense of smell. She remembers her bond as Bailey with Ethan. When he returns for the fourth time as Buddy he searches for his Ethan, a lonely elderly person living alone on the family farm.

This is an exhilarating and poignant parable that showcases a canine's love for his human companion as Toby and his three latter reincarnations never forgets his bond of love with Ethan. Well written, readers will enjoy this fine tale as a cat may have nine lives, but a dog with purpose has at least four lives.

The Word for World Is Forest
Ursula K. Le Guin
9780765324641 $11.99

In the far future on the pristine world of New Tahiti is a wilderness Eden that Captain Davidson and other earthlings want to exploit for profit. He has already begun cutting down the trees. If it means the primitives die so be it as collateral damage often occurs when yumans conquer Mother Nature.

The native Athsheans are horrified over being massacred and enslaved. However, the vilest crime by the off-worlders is destroying the forest as their Word for World is Forest. Fearful of this new powerful God who is brutal on their former forest deity and on them, the Athsheans know there is little they can do but obey as violence is not in their make-up although Selver tries to lead an insurgency, which only further threatens his people's way of life.

This book was published over thirty years ago; long before Avatar. The story line is fast-paced while using a science fiction base to make a case that the "White Man's Burden" left Africa ruined and places like Tahiti devastated. Still relevant after all these decades, readers will appreciate Ursula Le Guin's classic novella of bloodthirsty avaricious outsiders destroying a peaceful Eden for profit.

First Thrills
Lee Child, editor
9780765326485 $25.99

This twenty-five suspense thriller collection is an interesting way for readers to meet new writers while established authors have an opportunity to thank the audience and the publishing companies by providing entries to First Thrills. "The Dead Club" by Daniel James Palmer and Michael Palmer is the best bet as wagering on death mirrors real life gambling pools. Other strong entries include "The Thief" by Greg Hurwitz and Ken Bruen's "Wednesday's Child". None of the entries from the veterans or the rookies are bad, but few are excellent. Still fans will enjoy dining with Rip Gerber, Sean Michael Bailey and other newcomers and vets like Stephen Coonts, John Lescroart, Karin Slaughter and Heather Graham as each provides readers with plenty of chills and thrills.

Cat in an Ultramarine Scheme
Carole Nelson Douglas
9780765318633 $24.99

Public relations specialist Temple Barr is setting up a campaign for the Fontana family to take advantage of Las Vegas' mob roots. The "Chunnel of Crime" is a monorail within a museum connecting two hotels. During a promotional event, an underground vault is opened for the first time in years. Temple and her clients hope to find buried gangster loot instead of what was found in Capone's vault. Instead, they find something worse to accentuate the gangster past. Inside is the corpse of former magician Cosimo Sparks. Someone stabbed him and buried him. Temple accompanied by her pet owner Midnight Louie investigates; as does the Fontana fa mily and the police.

At the same time, Temple and Louie make inquiries, her fiance radio star Matt Devine is in Chicago. Her "dead" ex, magician/counterterrorist Max Kinsella, is in Ireland suffering from amnesia but cared for by Garry "Gandolph the Great" Randolph as he seeks information on the late orphan Kathleen "Kitty the Cutter" O'Connor.

In his twenty-second starring appearance (see Cat in a Topaz Tango), Midnight Louie remains fresh and amusing as if he was working with his human pet on their first case (see 1993's Catnap). The twisting story line is fast-paced as Temple relies on Midnight Louie's posse the Vegas Strip Irregulars to solve the homicides. This is a terrific entry as fans of the series will believe rascally lovable Louie has several lives left.

The Lovers
Vendela Vida
Ecco (Harper)
9780060828394 $23.99

Well over two decades ago Yvonne and Peter married and honeymooned in Datca, Turkey. They lived in Burlington, Vermont and had twins, Matthew and Aurelia.

With Peter recently buried, Yvonne decides to fly to Turkey to see if she can recapture the happiness she once shared with her late spouse before their alcoholic offspring Aurelia destroyed their relationship. As she returns to the peninsula where East meets West, she finds nothing the same. Even the clothing she wore to not stick out leaves her sticking out as the women wear jeans and t-shorts while she wears a long blouse and skirt. Still as Yvonne begins to enjoy the role of an American widow, some locals including her landlord Mr. Celik wonder why the single female tourist travels by herself. Lonely, she meets and befriends a Turkish boy about ten years old selling seashells. However, the natives do not appreciate an American adult acting friendly to a native child.

Although the emotional poignancy and epitomes overwhelm the story line at times as there is a constant barrage, readers who appreciate a profound look at a person seeking to regain paradise lost by returning to a memory of an Eden will relish Vendela Vida's deep character study. The story line is purposely slow as the audience gets inside the head of the grieving widow who is filled with remorse, regret and guilt. Turkey serves as a terrific locale for the lead character as like the country is divided between to EU or not to EU; just like Yvonne is split between going home to lonely New England or remain on the peninsular seeking something she lost over the years.

Song of the Dragon
Tracy Hickman
9780756406073 $24.95

The elves of the Rhonas Empire are a sadistic warmongering race who practically made humanity almost extinct and subjugated all other sentient species like the Manticore, Chimerians and the Goblins. The Rhonas attack and defeat the Dwarves. Drakis the human and the rest of his warriors are slaves, controlled by Aether magic, are now fighting the dwarfs. Drakis finds and takes as booty the dwarf Jugar; his magical artifact the Heart of Aer and his treasure for their master. Jugar takes the Heart of Aer and throws it at the House Aether Well causing the slaves to recall what their masters did to them re torture and degradation.

Drakis, two Manticores, two dwarves, and a Chimerian escape. Jugar preaches to anyone in contact with Drakis that he is the savior of prophecy. He believes the human is the one who will come again when he is needed most. He is gathering a following, but one of those who escaped with Drakis is a traitor while others are being killed by the Iblii (Inquisition) who have been in touch with Drakis and heard the message. Drakis is unsure whether he is the one from the prophecy, but will go to the Northlands where he should find either answers or death.

Readers learn about the various races through representatives who bring their respective culture alive without slowing down the plot. Drakis, freed from the enslaving Aether magic, keeps his sanity while others freed lose theirs when memories return to swamp their minds. He is a doubting Thomas but after the elves try to kill him, he vows to learn whether he is the Drakis of prophecy or just a namesake trying to rally the various enslaved races against the oppressors. Epic fantasy fans will enjoy the enthralling opening Annals of Drakis saga.

Omnitopia Dawn
Diane Duane
9780756406233 $24.95

By 2015, anyone who knows their name participates in multi-player on line games. The most popular of the interactive internet games is Dev Logan's Omnitopia. There are so many players; the game has surpassed TV and movies as the number one entertainment outlet in the world. Millions not just play, but prefer the reality of Omnitopia to their "real" existence.

Dev and his crew begin a major upgrade to his game system. However, while working on the expansion, he is stunned to learn his creation is alive. Whereas he has always dueled with unscrupulous hackers, elected officials with false morals, and unprincipled industrial espionage operatives, he never lost sight that it was only a game. Now it is more than a game as he tries to keep the ruthless immoral thugs from murdering or kidnapping his "offspring".

This is a terrific techno-thriller that uses the enthusiasm of game players to extract a near future in which on-line interactivity is the in thing. Although AI tales have starred frequently in books (Asimov) and movies (Spielberg), Omnitopia Dawn provides a fresh perspective due to a rotating 360 degree viewpoint. Fans will enjoy likable Dev's efforts to protect his child while also seeing how players, the expansion crew, and the devious look at Omnitopia.

Running Dark
Jamie Freveletti
9780061684241 $24.99

Running the South African Comrades Ultramarathon, thirtyish chemist Emma Caldridge passes the fifty-eighth kilometer of the eighty-nine kilometer mile race when a nearby car bomb detonates. The explosion throws her ten feet in the air and out of her running shoes. A runner with a silver necklace shaped like an antelope stops to jab her with a needle before he races away. Emma looks around to see other dazed runners, notices the bad gash on her leg, but feeling a need to move that she assumes is partially caused by the drug injected into her, paranoid she puts on her sneakers and takes off at a pace way beyond anything she ever did before.

At the finish line, Emma asks Karen of Price Pharmaceutical to test her blood while also calling her friend Edward Banner, head of the American security firm Darkview, to advise her. He is in the Gulf of Aden working a Somali pirate abduction of the Kaiser Franz cruise ship filled with wealthy patrons and allegedly a new chemical weapon. Banner asks Emma to join him in order for them to sneak on board and identify this chemical weapon. She already reluctantly agrees when she learns she has a personal incentive as Cameron Sumner whom she worked with Running From The Devil is a hostage.

Over the top of the Drakensberg Mountains, Running Dark is an entertaining thriller that requires the reader to leave plausibility at the beginning of the ultramarathon. The story line is exciting and almost as fast as Emma runs the last thirty-one kilometers of th e Comrades. Jamie Freveletti writes an action-packed African thriller as the Somali pirates and pharmaceutical misdeeds keep Emma and the reader hopping.

I'd Know You Anywhere
Laura Lippman
9780061706554 $25.95

In the summer of 1985 Walter Bowman abducts fifteen years old Eliza Lerner. For the next six weeks he held her in captivity. Frightened and expecting to die as she believes he is already a serial killer, the unpredictable Walter frees her. Later he is caught and convicted of rape, murder and kidnapping after murdering another victim; he is sentenced to be executed by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Years later, thirty eight years old Eliza is married to Peter Benedict and raising her two children, thirteen year old Iso and eight year old Albie when he contacts her. She assumes he wants her to forgive him for her six weeks in his hell, but prefers to ignore Walter. However, she also knows how crazy he is and fears even with him on death row and out of appeals he will find a way to harm her offspring. Eliza also is curious why he freed her when he killed the others.

Character driven to include the Billboard top 100 during her captivity in 1985, I'd Know You Anywhere looks deep into the souls of a serial killer and the sole survivor as the victim remains haunted two plus decades later. The support cast is powerful especially her spouse and older child and Barbara (read to learn who she is). However, this thriller belongs to the lead couple, a killing kidnapper and the only one he let live as readers will wonder whether Eliza will ever leave open a window at night so that would mean she finally closed the book on that chapter of her life.

Queen of the Night
J.A. Jance
9780061239243 $25.99

In 1959, ASU coed June Lennox travels with Sully from the Tempe, Arizona campus to Southern California for spring break. She never returns to school as she is left dead in the desert.

In 2009 in Tucson, retired Pima County homicide detective Brandon Walker visits his dying pal former Pinal County detective "Geet" Farrell at the hospice; they worked a serial killer case together back in 1975. Geet got Brandon a job with TLC (The Last Chance) entity that works cold cases. Hs current case is the homicide of June Lennox.

At the same time, Brandon's wife Diana Ladd Walker still struggles with "visits" from the dead in her nightmarish past. They are Andrew Carlisle who tried to rape her, her late odious first husband Garrison Ladd III who set her up to be raped, and serial killer Mitch Johnson who kidnapped her adopted daughter Lani. At the same time, Pima County Homicide Detective Brian Fellows and Border Patrol agent Dan Pardee track a killer on the land of the desert people, the Tohono O'odham.

The latest extended Walker Family mystery (see Hour of the Hunter and Kiss of the Dead) is a great entry as J.A. Jance deftly balances her myriad of leads, their cases, the present day culture of the People and the geography. The multiple plots connect by the Walkers and company who diligently work at what they do best. Ms. Jance is at her best with this terrific mystery that blends past and present Tucson, Southern California and the Tohono O'odham Nation into a powerful thriller.

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives
Lola Shoneyin
9780061946370 $23.99

In Nigeria in 1984, Ishola "Baba Segi" Alao married his first wife Iya Segi and had two children with her. Five years after that he wedded number two Iya Tope and sired three kids with her. In 1994 Iya Femi became spouse number three and two more offspring. Finally as is his marital trend he married Bolanle in 1999, but no progeny has come from that union.

The patriarch's superego is affirmed by having the four wives including his last possessing a university degree and seven children from his unions. Baba is concerned that Bolanle has provided him with no offspring. Segi will do anything to maintain her positions as first wife as that means more money, her personal god. Tope is fearful of doing anything that would alienate the household. Femi has deep passion for life and a thirst for vengeance; both of which novitiate her. Finally Baba's only chosen one Bolanle joined the household to hide, but having a diploma amidst a sea of people who cannot read makes her stand out. The other wives are angrily jealous of her standing as the proud patriarch pays attention to her in the hope he will sire his next child on her.

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives is an intelligent profound look at polygamy through mostly the wives and somewhat Baba who is a monarch with eleven subjects. Rotating viewpoint, the women loathe each other and react different towards one another. Segi is nastily superior; Tope is a reticent abuse victim; Femi is deceitful; and Bolanle is stoically detached. Readers will understand why each woman agreed to marry Baba and why the patriarch believes multiple wives and children symbolize his wealth. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives is an insightful family drama.

Beneath The Sands Of Egypt
Donald P. Ryan, PH.D
9780061732829 $26.99

American archaeologist Dr. Ryan provides a deep memoir focusing mostly on field work as he hopes to inspire future archeologists and others to learn more about humanity's heritage. Dr. Ryan discusses his efforts in Egypt's Valley of the Kings as he pays homage to Howard Carter and praises associates. He provides some insight to his student days, but it is his vivid description of field work that makes the biography worth reading as the armchair archeologist will feel they are welcomed by villagers, diligently cleaning a brick, or doing need grunt labor at an excavation site. Readers will be fascinated by a tomb "rediscovered" in 1989 with a small mummy later determined by when Egyptian archeologist Dr. Zahi Hawass to be the female pharaoh. B&W pictures enhance the tour, but what makes Beneath the Sands of Egypt compelling is the author's enthusiasm for his subject as Dr. Ryan candidly provides why he cherishes his work whether he studies at the British museum or in the sands of the Valley of the Kings.

A Knight's Enchantment
Lindsay Townsend
9781420106978 $5.99

In 1210 England, Bishop Thomas holds the father of Joanna of Glastonbury prisoner. If Joanna the alchemist wants to see her dad live, she will create an eternal life elixir. Insulted as a puffer by the Bishop's cruel men Joanna pans for gold, a necessary ingredient in the elixir she is brewing.

Sir Hugh Manahill learns the Bishop has captured his brother David. He attempts to ransom his sibling, but is not only insulted by the Bishop, he demands relics he accuses David of stealing. The Bishop orders his men to incarcerate Sir Hugh. He flees but hauls Joanna with him hoping she is an exchange chip to free his brother. Instead the pair realizes a mutual loathing of the Bishop who has their respective loved ones held in captivity and a strong attraction to one another. They team up with resolve to free her father and his brother, and send odious Bishop Thomas to the eternal life in hell he deserves.

This superb medieval romance is a very invigorating brisk thriller due to the strong background as the church and state interweave like a DNA helix to the chagrin of those unfortunates caught at the nodal points of abused power. Brother Thomas is as vile a villain one will encounter in a thirteenth century historical like Chaucer's Pardoner but nastier, he would sell souls if he could. His opposite is the lead couple who are courageous and fortified by their love for each other as they risk their freedom to rescue their confined loved ones.

Game Over
Fern Michaels
9781420106879 $7.99

Knowing they are "duds", Myra and Charles cut off their honeymoon to return to the Sisterhood when they learn that her friend and advisor Lizzie Fox is being considered for an appointment to the Supreme Court. The Sisterhood fears that the deserving White House Legal Counsel will be put through an unfair meat grinder to gain political points due mostly to Lizzie's association with them.

Although not quite as worried, as they are about Lizzie, the members are afraid their presidential pardon will vanish as politics as usual will prevail. However, as they monitor events as only the Sisterhood could, they begin to uncover a conspiracy to use Fox and the Sisterhood to destroy the Administration.

Although over the top of the Cayman Islands, Big Pine Mountain and the Washington Monument, the seventeenth Sisterhood thriller is an exciting entry that sums up the values of the members of "one for all and all for one" (Dumas). The group risks all their hard work to be pardoned to insure their loyal "affiliate" gets a fair shake. Fans of the saga will appreciate their latest intervention as protecting Lizzie soon turns into protecting the Administration.

Give Me A Texas Ranger
Jodi Thomas, Linda Broday, Phyliss Miranda and DeWanna Pace
9781420111743 $6.99

"The Ranger's Angel" by Jodi Thomas. In 1870, former Army nurse Annaline Barkley comes from DC to assist her brother the physician with his practice. However she and three men are trapped inside a stagecoach station surrounded by Randolph Thorn and his gang. She persuades Ranger Wynn McCord to take her with him as he flees into the night seeking to find help. Superb storytelling.

"Undertaking Texas" by Linda Broday. In 1883 Ranger Stoney Burke arrives in Devils Creek where his best friend's widow Texanna Wilder raises her six years old son while struggling with the demands of her odious late husband's half brother Marcus LaRoach. Marcus demands Texanna marry him so she will give him the undertaker/barber shop business she runs. Stoney intercedes on her behalf out of his respect for the late Sam. A gret romance

"One Woman One Ranger" by Phyliss Miranda. In 1881 suspended Ranger Hayden McGrew arrives in Buffalo Springs seeking a new copy of his orders that he will pick up at Molly Louis Tavern. When a lynch mob goes after Ella Patience Stevenson, Hayden intercedes insisting she is his wife. Justice of the Peace Scott makes them sign as married in the register as required by the law; which means they are married. Soon he gets involved with stopping a bootlegging operation that endangers his wife. Exciting!

"The Perfect Match" by DeWanna Pace. In 1896 El Paso, like all the Rangers, Thomas Longbow is assigned to prevent the boxing match between Pete Maher and Bob Fitzsimmons. Thomas notices Pete sneak into town stopping at the leather wares shop. Pete orders from owner Laney O'Grady customized boxing gloves as his trainer lost his. Thomas believes Laney knows where the fight is going to take pl ace so he tries to coax it out of her. Refreshing and enjoyable short story

As with the previous Give Me A Texan anthology, these are four enjoyable post Civil War nineteenth century Texas romances starring strong lead characters and solid settings.

The Irish Warrior
Kris Kennedy
9781420106534 $5.99

In 1295 in Northern Ireland, the O'Fail King sent his chief advisor warrior Finian O'Melaghlin to meet with the English Lord Rardove to learn what treachery the evil one plots. The fear is that Rardove schemes to use the legendary Wishme dye. Showing his true colors, Rardove imprisons Finian, has him tortured and threatens to kill his men if he fails to provide the dye making m anual.

Rardove's betrothed English merchant Senna de Valery arrives as directed by her future husband. Hoping to escape the bonds of her evil fiance, she poisons him and frees Finian. They flee together knowing they need one another to survive the wrath of their mutual enemy. As they fall in love, he vows to keep his rescuer safe, but is unaware just who she is and why so many stalk Senna.

The lead couple makes for an exciting action-packed medieval romance in which the Wishme dye formula brings an economic fresh spin to the plot. Fast-paced from the moment the aptly named Senna arrives at Rardove's encampment, readers will enjoy this exhilarating late thirteenth century historical wondering why men seek to own the heroine.

The Lace Makers of Glenmara
Heather Barbieri
9780061772467 $14.99

Twenty-six year old Kate Robinson lived in Seattle her entire life until it recently shattered. Her forever man Ethan chose her best friend Ella over her. Adding to the betrayal is that Ella modeled Kate's failed designs. Finally her mom succumbed to cancer just before mother and daughter were to tour Ireland together. Kate decides to visit the land of her ancestors on her own starting in Dublin to begin a new thread and end old useless patterns. Heartbroken Kate ends up in Glenmara.

The village lace makers welcome the American. Still grieving for her recently deceased spouse Bernie feels a special bond with the mourning Kate. Other female survivors like Aileen separated from her husband and daughter and known for ripping skin from even loved ones; her daughter Moira involved with an abuser; Oona a breast cancer survivor with scars mental and physical; and Colleen whose husband is lost at sea also adopt the American. When she persuades her new friends to add lace to their undergarments, Father Byrne warns them they will wear their lingerie in hell.

This is an upbeat inspirational tale that focuses on the belief of Pangloss (from Candide) that this is the most perfect of worlds with the caveat that one takes the time to find the magic. Ironically the traumas and tragedies that each of the key women and Kate's male interest Sullivan (Ella is right that there is always a Sullivan in a Gaelic tale) that make each of the stars seem genuine although none of their tsuris are deeply elucidated. Still fans will enjoy the overall charm of The Lace Makers of Glenmara.

Heart of Lies
M.L. Malcolm
9780061962189 $13.99

Hungarian Leo Hoffman has an innate ability to grasp languages rather quickly. He plans to use his skills, but his dreams of a better life ends temporarily he hopes as WWI flames across Europe with his homeland, the Austro-Hungarian Empire lined up on the side of Germany.

By 1925 with the combat over for several years, Leo tries to start anew using his uncanny skills. However, bad luck shadows him when he gets unintentionally entangled in an international counterfeiting scheme. Before he can expedite himself from that mess, he becomes wanted across the continent for a myriad of other felons including murder. He flees with his beloved Martha, whom he fell in love with at first sight in Paris. Leo hopes they can escape Europe for Shanghai where he prays he can sell valuable stolen treasure, but even in the Chinese city, he finds people who want him dead.

This is an exciting historical thriller starring a series of victims of people turning criminal to survive in the post war depression in East Europe. The story line is fast-paced as the linguistics expert lacks common sense. Although the key support cast is one dimensional never moving passed a singularity, readers will enjoy the twisting Heart of Lies as mid 1920s economically depressed Europe and to a lesser degree New York and Shanghai come vividly to life.

Emily Gray Tedrowe
9780061859472 $13.99

Septuagenarians Winnie McClelland and Jerry Trevis fall in love. Their respective families are not happy with this development, but his goes viral when he leaves his affluent Chicago home to move in with his love in Hartfield in Upstate New York.

His daughter Annette fears Winnie and her crew will inherit her father's fortune so she sues to take control of his vast assets. Her daughter Rachel pleads with her new wealthy stepfather to pay off the enormous loan she took out to cover her ailing spouse's health-care costs that threaten to bankrupt them. His grandson Chef Avery, a recovering drug addict, asks his grandfather to fund a new restaurant he wants to open. Meanwhile in their grandiose mansion, the newlyweds anger the townsfolk when Winnie considers removing a historical tree to make way for a swimming pool; money will not buy temporary loyalty this time.

This is excellent family drama as the younger generations see the geriatric pair as money and not a human couple. Ironically, Winnie and Jerry add to that belief by their approach to the locals in which money has always bought Trevis loyalty. The various members of the McClelland and Trevis families rotate narration so that the audience understands what each perceives are threats when the elderly duet marry; changing what has been the status quo dynamics for quite awhile. Except for the sex scenes between the newlyweds that fail to flow freely but instead come across as a forced attempt to make a point, readers will enjoy the discerning Commuters.

The More You Ignore Me
Jo Brand
9780061973581 $13.99

In Herfordshire, England, Alice wonders what a normal family is. Her maternal grandparents prefer intoxication rather than sobering sobriety. Her mother Gina is either in a pharmaceutical induced stupor or a schizophrenic miasma. Her dad Keith tries to maintain a modicum of normalcy, but living in a cottage with two drunks and a lunatic who prefers to run the streets naked is asking a lot of any person; so the lass created five personas like an actress and not like split personalities as she knows her roles she uses to deal with her family and the neighbors.

When Gina is taken away to the psychiatric hospital for posing nude on the roof after the meteorologist declined her kind offer of a tryst, Keith tries to help his daughter. Gina has fears that she is a chip off the maternal block as her grandparents are considered drunken terrorists by the neighbors and her mom when not confined runs nude in the streets of Herfordshire. Adding to her concerns regarding her own mental state is her obsession with the singer Morrissey of Smith and Mark while her father struggles with caring for his two females and his attraction to Marie Henty.

Rotating perspective over a couple of decades, this is an intriguing family drama as readers see deeply how Keith and Alice cope with Gina and the grandparents. The story line is summed up with a strong climatic revelatory Dunk that will open the readers' eyes as it does the morose "This Charming Man" Keith. Although the troubles caused by the grandparents detract from an otherwise profound family drama by adding too much tsuris to the mix. Still readers will relish The More You Ignore Me (The Closer I Get) as "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" regardless of what happens to loved ones.

Bad Marie
Marcy Dermansky
9780061914713 $13.99

Marie spent six years in a medium security prison for abetting her boyfriend; she was convicted on the charges of accessory to murder and bank robbery. Upon release from the pen, Marie's high school friend turned enemy (over a boy, naturally) Ellen the Manhattan executive hires her to be the live-in nanny of her two year old daughter Caitlin; the only job an ex con with no skills can obtain.

Ellen's husband French author, Benoit Doniel is very attracted to the tall thin Marie and her to him having read his book while doing time. Starting with a bathtub, they begin a heated steamy affair that culminates with the pair fleeing to Paris accompanied by Caitlin. However, even before they reach France, Benoit proves to be a rat leaving a distraught frightened Marie in the city with the toddler; knowing full well she can never go home.

Although over the top of the Empire State Building and th e Eiffel Tower with several unnecessary coincidental spins, Bad Marie is an engaging look at an ex convict. Marie finds prison life with no decisions to make easier on the mind but being a fugitive single mom in a foreign country easier on the soul. Readers will enjoy Bad Marie while wondering whether the anti-heroine will prove heroic when it comes to the wellbeing o f the toddler.

The Last Operative
Jerry B. Jenkins
9781414309200 $14.99

For the past two decades, Jordan Kettering has worked as an NSA field analyst. His job made him a stranger to his wife, daughter and son. To make up for his neglect when the kids were growing up, Jordan arranges to meet his spouse at Heathrow Airport for a European vacation. Before Jordon goes to the airport, he meets with author Stanley Stewart, who insists there are MIGs in a Quonset hut brought there by al Qaeda to use them to attack the United States after missiles are smuggled into the country.

At Heathrow, a sniper opens fires on Jordan wife and the man she is talking to killing many bystanders. While being debriefed in DC, Jordan meets with his former handler Chuck Wallington. He learns that Stanley was murdered too. Irate and grieving Jordon hides at his Uncle Denton's house. Wallington conceives a plan to stop the missiles from being loaded on a ship in Ecuador, but the enemy is one step ahead of the American counteragents. Kettering ponders whether NSA has a mole working for the enemy as time is running out to prevent the worst attack on American soil since 9/11.

The Last Operative is a rewriting of Jerry B. Jenkins' first stand-alone The Operative written two decades ago and freshened with a revision of the political situations since the original publication. The story line is a pulse pumping thriller starring a fascinating patriot who goes about his dangerous mission with no time to stop to mourn his loss; yet consequently he remains in the early stages of grief compounded by remorse and regret as he for the first time questions the personal cost. Nathan Hale stated that his only regret was he could only give one life for his country, but that was comparatively easy as Hale bravely gave his own. Loaded with action, this is a character driven taut thriller as the hero faces personal demons he puts on hold while he confronts those killers who claim God on their side while murdering his children.

Fatal Convictions
Randy Singer
9781414333205 $13.99

The case is controversial as affirmed by no lawyer in Virginia Beach wanting to defend Khalid Mobasser, the Muslim Imam for the Norfolk Islamic Learning Center. He is accused of encouraging and causing honor killings especially when a Muslim male killed his wife for converting to Christianity. Personal injury attorney Pastor Alexander Madison is wary to take on such a charged defense in which the media prefers to hang anyone who wants to insure the Imam receives a fair trial. Making his decision more difficult is criminal law is not his expertise.

However, upon meeting the accused and reviewing the evidence, Alexander believes the Imam is innocent. He begins his unpopular defense believing he knows the full cost to himself; but is unaware until it may be too late to know the personal price of doing so.

This is an excellent legal thriller that grips the audience from the onset when the seemingly sleazy ambulance chaser Reverend Madison offers his legal skill to Imam Mobasser at the hospital where the latter's wife is recovering from a severe car accident. The story line is fast-paced with a strong legal base that will have readers questioning the law; for instance if an Imam declares honor killing is acceptable does that makes him an accessory and does a person encouraging abortion killing make that individual an accessory. Readers will relish this thought provoking look at the legal system asking whether there are no limits to religious freedom considering recent SCOTUS Second Amendment activist decisions overcoming decades of local law.

After America
John Birmingham
Del Rey
9780345502919 $26.00

Several years have passed since the catastrophic wave of energy destroyed the United States in 2003 that came like a tsunami Without Warning. Scientists remained baffled with what caused it, why it abruptly vanished a year later and how to prevent a return. In the meantime the White House moved to Seattle where American President James Kipper is frustrated with no answers and as is the case with the traumatized people struggling to endure, he fears what will happen if another such wave assaults the continent. Still he pushes forward with the greatest reconstruction project in the history of the world.

President Kipper visits the Declared Security Zone of New York where militia and pirates rule the city and the burbs, but is greeted by an assassination attempt. At the same time in the breakaway republic of Texas, farmer Miguel Pieraro follows the path to citizenship in the New America until an ethnic cleansing campaign led by a rogue army officer destroys his family. In England, American army officer Caitlin Monroe struggles to survive an assault on her life. Finally, in the wasteland of the Middle East comes a major threat to what is left of the world. Between lawlessness on the eastern seaboard and what is occurring overseas and in Texas, Kipper, a builder by heart, needs to find his warrior fortitude as he is reluctant to confront anyone with America still reeling; but ignoring the threats to local security will destroy the United States permanently.

The sequel to Without Warning is a terrific exhilarating thriller that grips the audience from start to finish. Heroes are everywhere from every walk of life whether they are city engineers turned POTUS, a Mexican-American farmer, an overseas officer and others risking their lives against ruthless lethal fully armed adversaries. Readers will enjoy this exhilarating post-apocalyptic tale that stands alone, but enhanced by reading what the wave caused first.

Unholy Magic
Stacia Kane
Del Rey
9780345515582 $7.99

A serial killer is targeting prostitutes. Rumors spread that a deadly ghost is behind the homicides. The Church of Real Truth field debunker and ghost dispatcher Chess Putnam is assigned to ferret out the truth. She expe cts the killer to be human concealing his or her identity with ghostly whispers. That she knows is the norm when she investigates a reported haunting as some mortal hides one or more of the seven deadly sin transgressions however some supernatural essences are killers.

Chess makes inquiries in which everyone she interviews insists a ghost is at large and other evidence supports the claim of something from beyond. As she digs deeper into the case, she realizes a lunatic is combining murder with sex to dabble in the paranormal. To bring this maniac out into the open means risking her soul.

Unholy Magic is a terrific urban fantasy whodunit starring a street tough investigator. Chess is fabulous as her experience as an operative means eliminate the obvious and the rumored leads to almost always find a deranged or scamming human. However, the occasional outlier is what makes Chess' job dangerous. Readers will appreciate her investigation into what in her mind is a mortal serial killer whose become a paranormal myth; as with her previous case Unholy Ghost the line of demarcation is especially emaciated.

The War That Came Early: West and East
Harry Turtledove
Del Rey
9780345491848 $27.00

Following Chamberlain's rejection of appeasement, Hitler's War continues on three fronts. He attacks France planning to take Paris soonest. His troops head east towards Soviet Russia and the oil fields. Finally his military machine heads north to Scandinavia starting with Denmark.

However, the three German fronts don't go as well as planned. In Czechoslovakia, the tank blitzkrieg runs into some opposition from freedom fighter using antitank rifles. In France, his forces are behind schedule in his demand that Paris is burning. Finally only in the northern front are things going somewhat smoothly. In the Pacific, the Japanese are rolling all over Asia uncontested.

The second entry in the alternative history of The War That Came Early series continues to extrapolate events based on Chamberlain taking a stand in 1938. The story line is exciting and fast-paced but is at its best when Harry Turtledove takes his audience to the real fronts where those who will never make it into the history texts star. When the plot seeks the big picture of a world at war it loses some of its in depth and the personal horrors of what happens in war even at the home front away from the battlefield. Fans will root for the everyday person on both sides of the conflict as Mr. Turtledove takes his readers to the Atlantic and Pacific, to Singapore, Japan, Siberia and all over Europe as even the maniac Hitler shows some soul when he enables an American to escape Germany.

Todd McCaffrey
Del Rey
9780345491169 $26.00

On the planet Pern, junior Weyrwoman Fiona of Fort Weyr returns after going back in time and spending three years away in Igen Weyr healing the wounded men and dragons as well as the newly impressed dragon riders so they will be able to fight Thread when they return to their present. When she returns, she realizes she is no longer capable of being the junior Weyrwoman at Fort. A lethal plague strikes; which leaves many dragons and their riders dead.

When all the dragon riders of Telgar go between because they are mortally wounded from fighting Thread, Fiona moves to Telgar as senior Weyrwoman along with dragons and their riders from Fort and other weyrs. Fiona takes charge, but at first no one trusts a young outsider who happens to be their new Weyrwoman at a time when an unknown plague is killing the dragons and their riders. Fiona, her gold queen Talenth and all the Weyrs riders and their dragons try their best as Thread falls, but the Weyrs lack enough dragons to prevent tragedy from occurring. With each Fall, more dragons and their riders die and time is running out of for the people of Pern.

Pern continues to be a wonderful science fiction saga as Todd McCaffrey in his latest solo flight (see Dragonsblood and Dragonsheart) has picked up the thread started by his semi-retired mom. Dragongirl is a poignant action tale driven by key characters of who the audience roots for as they display sacrifice and courage. There is an enjoyable romantic subplot between the heroine and her beloved Kindan the Harper and Tegar's Weyrleader T'mar, but this tale is owned by the lethal Thread made more dangerous by the decimation of the dragons and their riders due to the plague even with the riders and their dragons who spent time in the past to help save the present.

The Quick and the Thread
Amanda Lee
9780451230966 $6.99

After her fiance dumped her just prior to their wedding and bored with her accounting job in San Francisco, Marcy Singer accompanied by Angus the Irish Wolfhound move to Tallulah, Falls, Oregon. Her college roommate Sadie Mackenzie and her husband Blake own the store Mackenzie Mocha. Marcy plans to open up an embroidery store The Seven-Year Stitch.

At the open house, the person who previously rented the space Tim Enright tries to talk to Marcy, but he creeps her out as she believes he is intoxicated. When Sadie, Blake and Marcy close the store for the evening, they hear a thump in the storage room, but they are so tired they ignore it. The next morning, Marcy finds Tim inside her store dead with writing on the wall for square fifth which she learns refers to a real estate fraud that wrecked the small town. She talks to her landlord Mr. Trelawney about what Tim wrote and he is visibly upset. Soon afterward he is shot. After visiting one of the people in prison over the fraud, Mar cy finds out the leader of the scam is still free. She sleuths, which puts Marcy in the crosshairs of a killer with no mercy.

This intriguing amateur sleuth has evil hiding in a small town which seems serene on the surface. The heroine gets drawn into the investigation because the police chief refuses to believe the two murders are linked to each other and the fraud. So the two friends for life determinedly search for the killer to take back their town. The cast is solid especially the dynamic detectives, but what makes The Quick and the Thread riveting is their inquiry comes across as reasonable and plausible.

How To Crash a Killer Bash
Penny Warner
9780451230973 $6.99

Event planner Presley Parker is preparing for next big gig at Murder Mystery Party at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park San Francisco. Tempers are running high between de Young's chief fundraiser Mary Lee Miller who can bring in millions with her reputation and Delicia Jackson, an actress in the murder play. Mary Lee wants the performer to stop dating her son Corbin; calling the woman a gold-digger. Carbin uses the actress to annoy his overbearing mother.

On the night of the event, Delicia goes to find the "murdered body" of Mary Lee; only she reappears drenched in blood. Mary Lee is dead and after the witnesses tells the police the public fight between the women in Corbin's life and Delicia saying she was going to kill Corbin's mother, the police arrest Delicia. Presley vows to find the real killer so her friend can get out of jail, but the culprit provides terrorist pressure to get her to back off on her investigation.

Penny Warner has created a wonderful heroine in perilous Presley Parker, reminiscent of the Perils of Pauline plus Peter Parker. The protagonist leaps from one calamity onto another disaster and another; defying Einstein's definition of insanity. Two cars she drove need repair work due to her proclivity for driving head first into trouble. Someone has killed three people at work and her mother tends to get lost suffering from rhe early stages of Alzheimer's. She remains resolute and determined, but most critical believable as an amateur sleuth. With plenty of action on her investigation and several poignant moments, readers will enjoy the perils of Presley Parker.

Sharon Ashwood
9780451230737 $7.99

Captain Reynard works as a guard at the supernatural prison known as the Castle. However, though he has a few more liberties than the inmates, he is as locked away as those he watches over. Centuries ago, his choices were taken away from him when he was forced to place his soul in an urn.

When the urn is stolen, Reynard will die. He actually considers giving up on immortality as an escape from the Castle. Widow Ashe Carver was a monster slayer. She understood her profession would cost her custody of her ten year old daughter Eden so she retires and becomes a librarian. Her retirement ends when her brother-on-law the vampire asks her to clean out the monster stalking the bathroom at Fairview Botanical Gardens. Reynard was expecting her to clean the bathroom of the monster so when she arrives he asks for her assistance; reluctantly Ashe, surprised he could leave the Castle, agrees to help him find his soul. At the same time the Castle is undergoing a radical adjustment that has the supernatural world wondering how it will all turn out.

The third Dark Forgotten urban fantasy (see Ravenous and Scorched) is a terrific action-adventure thriller that steps away from the mysterious Castle and into the world at large. The lead couple makes for a strong entry as the stressed beyond the max Castle guard is running out of immortality time and the heroine who, though it could cost her the one person that matters, takes on the "client" and his quest to catch a thief. As their attraction grows she knows he would make a perfect centerfold as the "Hot historical hero" of the century and he believes her as lovely as ever. However, beyond the search and rescue, and their entwined hearts, in the background lurks a major supernatural shift. This is an enthralling magical great work by Sharon Ashwood.

Cold Sight
Leslie Parrish
9780451230744 $7.99

Investigating a string of suspicious runaways, Granville Daily Sun reporter Lexie Nolan considers someone malevolent and sinister is behind the disappearances. As she digs deeper, her boss tells her to drop the story; stunning her as this has never happened before to the investigative journalist.

When another young girl Vonnie vanishes, Lexie knows she cannot live with herself if she quits. Instead she asks former Extrasensory Agent Aidan McConnell to help her find the latest missing person. Aidan informs Lexie he no longer searches for people after his last mission ended disastrously. However reluctantly he agrees to help as he finds himself unable to deny her anything. He has feelings he never allowed himself to have before he met sexy Lexie. They connect as they follow clues to Savannah.

This is an entertaining paranormal whodunit starring an intrepid reporter and a man with telemetric extrasensory psychometric abilities. The changing relationship between the pair is fun to follow as they investigate the abductions and murder. Although the villain is inane, fans will appreciate the first Extrasensory Agent urban fantasy romantic suspense due to the lead characters and Vonnie.

Chains Of Ice
Christina Dodd
9780451412911 $7.99

After a horrific life, John Powell feels he has finally found a place where he belongs. He likes working for the Gypsy Travel Agency especially on Gary White's team as an operative seeking the lost Chosen. However, In Indonesia his idyllic world with Sun Hee implodes; leaving John once again feeling alone. Despondent, he flees into self exile in the Ural Mountains where he has remained hidden for five years.

Almost a decade ago, Kevin Valente was fired from the Gypsy Travel Agency barely avoiding prison. His family life was destroyed. Now his daughter Genny graduates from grad school and he gives her a present with a stipulation. If she would like to join Koslov's study team in the Russian Urals to study a rare lynx, Genny must find John the recluse and get him to come in from the cold. She is unaware what she has signed onto when it comes to John which includes peril and her heart.

The third Chosen Ones saga (see Storm of Visions and Storm of Shadows) is an exciting mountain romantic fantasy that grips readers once the heroine heads to Europe. Fast-paced, readers anticipate a triangulation in the Urals as the Others, John and Genny converge with fans wondering who will return to New York City.

Cupid Cats
Katie MacAlister, Vicki Lewis Thompson and Connie Brockway
9780451230720 $7.99

"Unleashed" by Katie MacAlister. Fish and Wildlife Officer Jacintha "kitty whisperer" Ferreira arrives at the Cupid Cats shelter to investigate a Moravian jaguar inside with a hangover. Instead of just a large feline she finds voices in her head courtesy of vampire Avery Scott.

"Cat Scratch Fever" by Connie Brockway. In Chicago, Widower Jim Curran takes his five years old Chloe to the nearby animal shelter so she can pick a kitten as her pet. However, the little girl insists that an elderly cat is her late mother's long-missing Pixie. While her father and shelter director Dr. Edith Handelman know that is impossible, no one bothered to tell the cat.

"A Cat's Game" by Vicki Lewis Thompson. While her sister is on vacation, Kate Archer manages her sibling's bed and breakfast in Bisbee, Arizona. Her first arrival is her high school sweetheart Jon Ramsey. It is the newly adopted cat who plays matchmaker.

These are three fun lightheaded feline romances as a cat stars in Kate MacAlister's urban fantasy and plays matchmaker in the other two tales.

My Lady's Pleasure
Olivia Quincy
9780451230072 $14.00

In 1895, free spirited modern thinking Lady Georgiana Vernon and Lord Jeremy Staunton are politely friendly in society; but at night with no prying eyes, they are wild lovers. Both enjoy their sexual escapades.

As the elite gather at Penfield for Lord Laughlin's annual rustic masquerade bal, Lady Georgiana Vernon the sexually liberated daughter of an Earl meets the estate's landscape architect Barnes. They are attracted to each other from the first moment they set eyes on each other and begin a heated tryst. However, over the next few days their lovemaking soon leads to Barnes angrily accusing her of cavalierly trifling with his feelings especially when their affair becomes known. However, he never expected that his lover will become the victim of threats and accidents from an unknown adversary.

This heated late Victorian romance is a great historical as the heroine learns a lot about herself and the feelings of others during her week at Penfield. Georgiana makes the tale as her attitude changes during the stay from a hedonistic selfish person to a woman considering the feelings of others. With a bit of suspense enhancing the strong story line, readers will enjoy My Lady's Pleasure due to Georgiana's rapid maturing.

The Homecoming
JoAnn Ross
9780451230676 $7.99

Former Navy SEAL Sax Douchett survived being wounded and alone presumed dead by his mates as the Taliban assassins went after him in the Hindu Kush region. He survived, but even more harrowing was his few weeks of "incarceration" at Bethesda Naval Hospital. Finally he is allowed to return home to Shelter Bay, physically healed but mentally questionable as he still suffers flashbacks.

While walking with his dog Velcro, the Irish Wolfhound mutt deposits a human bone at his feet. As he thinks of the fickle finger of fate, Widow Sheriff Kara Conway receives the dispatcher's excited call re his dog finding the bone. Kara is upset as she left the Oceanside PD to raise her eight years old son Trey in a safe environs following the death of his dad her beloved Jared in the line of duty as a cop handling a domestic dispute. As she works the case, someone wants the inquiry ended. At the same time Kara and Sax fall in love; he knows he loved her as a teen and never stopped while she has a list of reasons not to get involved with the middle Douchette sibling starting wit h Trey though Sax is so good with her son.

The Shelter Bay police procedural romantic suspense stars two likable lead characters and a strong support cast which obviously including Kara's son; but also SEALs, the memory of Jared, and the townsfolk. The investigative story line is character driven by Kara an d Sax who have a myriad of reasons for not getting involved. Perhaps the taut tale can best be summarized by the reason the SEALs are visiting Shelter Bay: they never leave a mate behind as Sax still is partially in Hindu Kush.

Driftwood Lane
Denise Hunter
Thomas Nelson
9781595548009 $14.99

In St. Louis, as Meredith Ward inspects a restaurant, attorney Edward Thomas calls her to inform her that her dad T.J. and his second wife Eva died in a boating accident off Nantucket a couple of weeks ago. Estranged from her dad for years, Meredith is stunned to learn the couple named her guardian of their three children. She never even knew she had step-siblings and the onl y other person capable of caring for them, Eva's brother Uncle J remains out of contact.

Meredith immediately drops everything to go to the Summer Place Bed and Breakfast on Nantucket to care for her siblings. Her angry thirteen year old sister Noelle wants her to leave. Her brother ten year old Max supports Noelle while seven years old Ben is a bit more welcoming of a big sister whom none of them ever met before, but the trio prefers Uncle J.

Jake Walker finally finds a computer in the Georgia wilderness. He reads his niece's frantic emails informing him of the deaths and claiming Meredith is control freak crazy; he fears she may have inherited her mom's illness. He heads to Nantucket where he conceals who he is from Meredith as he plans to prove she is incompetent while posing as a handyman she hires as the B&B needs repair. As they fall in love, his masquerade and her desire for whoever is best for the kids appear to be family breakers.

The fourth Nantucket Love Story (see The Convenient Groom, Surrender Bay and The Seaside Letters) is a strong drama as the quintet struggle to forge a new family dynamic. Each of the five principle players are fully drawn as the adults and kids have different issues and fears. Although the ending feels sweetly abrupt, fans of the series will enjoy this fine family drama as Denise Hunter provides a warm tale.

Alex Kava
9780385531993 $24.95

Hurricane Isaac has not reached the Florida peninsular yet, but impacts the waves in the Gulf. Off of Pensacola, Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Wilson orders AST 3 Liz Bailey to investigate what looks like a floating fisherman's cooler. Although she is allowed to decline the dive as her mission is to rescue people not artifacts, she dives into the rough water. She completes the dangerous mission; inside the large container is a human foot.

FBI profiler Maggie O'Dell is sent to the Gulf to investigate the foot; Department of Homeland Security deputy director Charlie Wurth joins her while a forensics team matches the limb to missing Vince Coffland, who disappeared from Port St. Lucie during a hurricane. At the same time O'Dell works the foot case, her boyfriend, Colonel Benjamin Platt is also in Florida investigating a deadly bacteria killing soldiers in hospitals. The cases collide at the funeral parlor owned by O'Dell's brother-in-law Scott Larsen whom Joe Black pays to preserve harvested body parts.

This is a terrific law enforcement thriller in which the scenes of the sea rescues occurs while a hurricane is bearing down (mindful if Irwin Allen TV movies) on the coast supersedes the actions of the heroine and her two investigative hunks. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Bailey dives into the water and never slows down, as she and her teammates steal the show. Readers will enjoy this exhilarating confrontation with Hurricane Isaac and a body parts harvester as the entreating thriller ends with a strong stunning twist.

Stuff of Legends
Ian Gibson
9780441019304 $7.99

In a world where magic exists, the leading form of entertainment comes from the traveling bards who sing about the adventures of heroes; courtesy of Central Casting. The most cherished champion throughout civilization is the incredible Jordan the Red who remains the best of the best even though he vanished two decades ago. Although no one seems to know where he is, people still love hearing his tales of daring do.

Jordon hopes to remain is hiding as he retired years ago. Unfortunately Eliot obsessively wants to meet his hero in order to join him on an adventure. His former Elfish babysitter Kess gives him a braid with strings of wishes. Jordan's former agent sends the bard Cyral to chronicle Jordan's comeback escapade. They all converge on Jordan who insists he is retired with no plans of a farewell tour. When an enemy of the reluctant retired hero abducts Elliot Jordan sighs because he knows he must intercede. From there his life goes catastrophic as all the enemies he defeated in his first heroic run have formed a gauntlet to kill Jordan. If he survives the horde, he next faces the dragon he once fought.

Stuff of Legends is a refreshing amusing fantasy in which the star is told to follow the script while his foes ignore the plot. However, the adventures are real so the hero can die (like John Wayne at the Alamo). Jordon was the best and has no desire to prove he still is until his agent lures him out of retirement the sleazy way. Although some of the jocularity fails to feel funny, fans of Robert Aspirin's Myth-adventures and early Xanth will enjoy the lampooning of quest fantasies as with Bonnie Tyler's Holding Out For A Hero comes to mind, but what happens after hours.

A Wild Light
Marjorie M. Liu
9780441019014 $7.99

Every year, demon hunter Maxine Kiss kills a zombie on her birthday; the anniversary day of her mom's murder. In Seattle, this year Maxine wakes up in bed next to Grandfather Jack Meddle's bloody corpse. She recalls nothing about the previous evening, not even Jack wishing her happy birthday. Maxine soon finds other gaps in her memory as she has no idea who her soul mate, the Lightbringer Grant is. Adding to her trepidations, her five demons residing as tattoos on her epidermis are mute. Her worst fear is that she gone dark and killed her beloved grandpa.

Still Maxine needs to fill the holes in her head and get the "boys" communicating. She begins making inquiries and uncovers a potential calamity if not resolved yesterday; as the inner ring containing the demon horde inside is crumbling with Reaper Kings prepared to glean the harvest of souls.

The third Hunter Kiss urban fantasy (see The Iron Hunt and Darkness Calls) is a terrific entry that contains a powerful story line while also moving forward on the overarching theme. Readers will learn much about the heroine's heritage as she investigates what happened to her and Jack. With a late great twist, fans will enjoy Marjorie M. Liu's dark A Wild Light.

Death's Excellent Vacation
Edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner
9780441018680 $24.95

This is a fun thirteen fantasy collection in which the paranormal go on vacations and have holidays that make the Griswold family and Monsieur Hulot seem tame. "Two Blondes" (by Charlaine Harris) Pam and Sookie go to a not so gentleman's club in Mississippi for the weekend. Jim the demon (see Aisling Gray) heads to Paris for a good time but runs into "The Perils of Effrijim" by Katie MacAlister. The eight immortals get together as "The Boys Go Fishing" by Sarah Smith, but conclude drinking tea is easier. In "One for the Money" by Jeaniene Frost, hitmen Cat and Bones find their vacation interrupted protecting an heiress when the former's mom arrives. You can't go home if you want time out as affirmed by Toni L.P. Kelner in "Pirate Dave's Haunted Amusement Park", "The Demon in the Dunes" by Chris Grabenstein and "Home From America" by Sharan Newman. Readers will enjoy the amusing vacations of the supernatural as whether it is Bermuda (Lilith Saintcrow's "The Heart Is Always Right") or Port Arthur ("Seeing is Believing" by L.A. Banks), fans will want to accompany the paranormal when they go on Death's Excellent Vacation tours.

Total Eclipse
Rachel Caine
9780451463456 $7.99

Weather warden Joanne Baldwin and her husband Djinn David defeated their enemy former weather warden Bad Bob (see Cape Storm), but at a price that she knows was too high. Besides her friends like Lewis becoming ill, she and David are stripped of their power, Djinn are dead in mass numbers, and the Black Corner of the planet no longer contains earth's natural pulse. Their victory at all costs has come with an even greater price as Mother Nature is waking up from a long nap; outraged by the pollution that has destroyed much of the planet's magic.

With the Djinn gone, no one can intercede to persuade Mother Nature to give mankind one more chance; her inclination is extinction of humanity and all other living essences. Leaving "Gilligan's Island" (as she has no gowns anyway) to save the world, Joanne accompanied by her man David, her BFF Cherise and Cherise's soul mate Kevin set out on a quest to prevent the end of times though they have no power beyond that of humans.

The ninth tale in the Weather Warden urban fantasy saga is a great finish that showcases why Rachel Caine is a master wizard. The story line is simple: save the world from a rightfully righteous fuming Mother Nature without any otherworldly powers. Fans of the long running series will relish the climax as Joanne and company find themselves in dire straits with no hope of success; however as she understands to hit a home run one must swing the bat and risk striking out; as not trying means out anyway.

Kat Richardson
9780451463364 $24.95

In Seattle, paranormal private investigator Harper Blaine seeks a way to liberate her father's ghost from the Grey maze while concerned with the street violence caused by the vampires but which the cops suspect her. She has no time for cops and undead as she seeks the person who killed her. Also unbeknownst to Harper the Greywalker is that the ancient Egyptian god-king of the asteme Pharaohn-ankh-astet leaves London to pursue her in Washington.

While Harper struggles with her dad's predicament and her own homicide case, vampire chief Edward Kammerling has vanished. His rival as undead boss Carlos Pires Ataide is dying unless Harper can remove a soul sucking knife from his body. Her under siege boyfriend Quinton and Chaos the ferret have her back; perhaps good intentions is a bit more accurate as truthfully she has their backs.

Harper continues her metamorphosis into a grave paranormal entity in this delightfully evolving urban fantasy. The story line is action-packed as the Greywalker gets further baptism under fire from the ancient one, being in the middle of a vampire surge and seemingly civil war, having cops watch you breathe, and her dad's predicament. She ponders when she will find time for finding her own murderer. With the apt title, this is a complicated superb entry in an evolving series growing stronger and deeper.

Lumby On The Air
Gail Fraser
9780451230041 $15.00

In Lumby, residents Pam and Mark Walker run the Montis Inn. At the same time the town hosts the Chatham County Fair, the couple is celebrating their silver wedding anniversary with a week long gala at the inn with family and friends; highlighting the get together with a vow renewal. Ironically, the person who made up the invitation changes his name from Mark to Fark, an omen of what is about to occur or perhaps a purposeful use of a descriptor "noun".

Mark's estranged sister Lynn arrives with her companion Coco the cat. He is elated to see her as they split apart when Lynn's ex husband cheated him out of money. However, his canines sniffing a cat meal chase pregnant show champion Coco up on the inn's roof where she refuses to come down. Pam's mother Kay and her friend arrive, but her companion is not who her daughter expected to see. Next, Mark's other sibling Nancy and her husband radio talk show host Carter and their son Corey join the festivity; as the radio celebrity continues his show badmouthing small town living and pushing an anti rustic Rockies resort to the ire of the Lumby community. Finally his brother Patrick and his wife Elaine and their sixteen year old daughter Jessica show up with the teen bringing her all night social networking equipment with her.

This is an amusing Lumby entry with serious undertones providing a strong story line as for instance economic development vs. rustic living and teen internet savvy vs. parental ignorance. Enhanced by wonderful Art Poulin drawings, the tale is fun to follow as Pam and Fark wonder what whether they should have eloped as the horde is driving them crazy (think of the movie Madhouse).

Twice Bitten
Chloe Neill
9780451230645 $15.00

Humans have recently learned that vampires live among mortals. Shapeshifters fear they will be next and debate how to handle what they anticipate will occur shortly.

In that regard to plan on the inevitable, Gabriel Keene, Apex of the North American Central shifters, has convened a conference of the packs to determine their best course of action. He also invites Cadogan House Sentinel Merit and master vampire Ethan Sullivan to attend as security as evidence is strong that an assassin is coming for him and terrorists plan on disrupting the convention. Though only a couple months since she was turned involuntarily, Merit takes her security work seriously, but has trouble focusing with arrogant Ethan nearby.

The third Chicagoland Vampires romantic urban fantasy) is an action-packed thriller that never slows down from its opening quick synopsis of the previous two biters (see Friday Night Bites and Some Girls Bite until the biting climax. The rookie vampire and her mentor (she would say tormentor) try to protect a leader of the other prominent paranormal species as many want to prevent an outing. Fans of the saga will fully relish Merit's actions as she continues to adjust to her new life as an undead.

Summer of the Geek
Piper Banks
9780451229847 $9.99

In Orange Cove, Florida having just completed her sophomore year at Notting Hill Independent School for Gifted Children, better known as Geek High, genius Miranda Bloom is learning to drive; her lacrosse-playing boyfriend lifeguard Dex McConnell is teaching her though he prays she does not kill his ancient Honda or anyone on the sidewalk. Mrs. Elise Fisher hires Miranda to spend the summer with her ten year old daughter Amelia, who prefers playing classical music over playing with friends, of which the prodigy has none; her mom hopes an older genius can mentor her younger genius.

What she thought would prove to be the greatest summer of her life turns into a disaster. Her driving skills simply stink; so much so Miranda fears this will be the first test she ever failed. Dex is concealing something that Miranda fears is that he will return his beautiful former girlfriend Wendy "Wends" Erikson. Her stepmom Peyton remains covertly hostile only caring about her fashion-model daughter Hannah while overtly fighting with her husband, Miranda's dad. Finally, her don't call me mom Sadie the steamy romance writer living in London wants her to join her for the summer; which means leaving Dex and Geek High behind although she is unsure whe ther Dex already has left her behind.

The third Geek High teen tale (see Geek High and Geek Abroad; neither read by me) is an enjoyable intelligent entry as Miranda struggles with social and family issues not easily resolved without honest communication. Young adult readers will appreciate Miranda's success and failures as miscommunication makes matters worse for her. She wonders if living on the other side of the great pond will extract from her relationship problems or just running away from them only to confront a new set of the same troubles; wisely she knows spending Christmas with Sadie is not the same as living with mom.

The Web of Titan
Dom Testa
9780765360786 $8.99

The tail of the comet Bhaktul flew inside the Earth's atmosphere. This quickly proved not a close miss though contact did not occur; the tail left a virus behind that killed anyone over eighteen and killed anyone who turned eighteen in the future. The human species is heading to extinction. To save the human species, a ship was constructed to take two hundred and fifty-one of the planet's top teens less than sixteen to colonize a planet in a distant solar system. Two years later the Galahad leaves with a sabotaging stowaway on board (see The Comet's Curse).

When the Galahad reaches the Saturn moon of Titan, they pick up a metal pod. The teen crew has no idea what it is or why it was so important that they pick it up. They retrieve the pod, which contains two chambers; the adult compartment is empty while the smaller one holds a cat. At the same they pick up the object, several crew members become extremely ill and the ion drive suddenly accelerates to a point that if it does not stop, the Galahad will explode. Desperate ship commander Triana directs the crew to focus on the two emergencies.

The second Galahad young adult science fiction thriller is action-packed but also contains a strong cast, who make the voyage and the current crises seem genuine. Readers will relish the frantic efforts to survive that are mindful of Scotty's save the Enterprise of original Star Trek. Triana is the charismatic leader who encourages the crew not to quit though solutions are not working in spite of incredible efforts to save themselves as they are humanity's last hope.

A Mighty Fortress
David Weber
9780765315052 $27.99

Not yet thirty years old, many believe that Cayleb Ahrmahk is the greatest naval officer in history. His victories are legendary as he defeated handily the combined forces of five princedoms. On a personal level, his success at sea enabled him to meet, court, and marry Queen Sharleyan of Chisholm. On Safehold, the pair forge the Charisian Empire built on his naval prowess.

However, their most powerful adversary on Safehold, Church of God Awaiting, has declared the regime's rulers heretics and must be destroyed. Their first endeavor failed as the Church faithful failed to use the technology of the Charisian Empire. The second assault is an armada unlike anything in the history of Safehold. However, their foes do not have warrior-monk named Merlin Athrawes on their side. Merlin is the cybernetic avatar of a long dead female Nimue Alban, who died while watching the Terran Federation on numerous planets destroyed; Safehold is the last human stronghold and inadvertently the Church is leading the final extinction.

The latest Safehold science fiction thriller (see By Heresies Distressed) is a great continuation of the struggle for First Amendment type rights and freedoms from a church controlling society. The world of Safehold is incredibly developed as readers obtain a deep look at a culture run by a religious dominated caste system that compares unfavorably to the freedom of the relatively small Charisian Empire. With a strong cast (though the hero feels like a Harrington clone) fans will relish David Weber's powerful condemnation of church equals state; or for that matter any oligopoly controlling all aspects of society by oppressing freedom.

Bob Fingerman
9780765326270 $14.99

Around the world in eighty seconds is what the zombie pandemic seemed like to those not bitten. It occurred so fast, zombie became the dominant species on the planet. Humans were food and forced to hide behind barriers. New York City, for instance, contains eight million of these reanimated dead and little pockets of hiding mortals.

In an apartment building in Manhattan, a few souls remain concealed, but are running out of water and food. From windows they can see the supermarket, but zombies hang out on the streets seeking fresh flesh. The besieged group see hope when a female teenage human walks freely while the zombies avoid her. Mona brings food and drinks as she moves in with the adults at 1620 York Avenue, but the danger remains constant.

This is an exciting fast-paced zombie horror tale that grips the audience early and never let's up as it will remind readers of I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (and to a lesser degree the Will Smith movie). The vivid opening in which zombies walk the streets while humans are locked behind barriers is riveting with an implied social spin as to who owns the neighborhoods. Additionally with civilization collapsed, the humans trapped inside an apartment with no electricity prove horror comes in many shapes and forms as Bob Fingerman provides a taut thriller.

Prospero in Hell
L. Jagi Lamplighter
9780765319302 $25.99

The immortal sorcerer Prospero remains missing (see Prospero Lost) ever since one of his plans backfired. He is lost in hell. He would be surprised and proud of his adult children as they have come together after years of estrangement.

However, even with this sudden sibling camaraderie, Prospero's offspring must cope with the constant threat from the Three Shadowed Ones. These devious predators seek the magical artifacts held by Prospero's offspring. The oldest Miranda tries to keep her brothers and sisters united, but they remain fractious while they grapple with a series of stunning shockers. Still she investigates what happened to her sire and learns somewhat of his life since the events of five centuries ago immortalized by that hack.

Following up on Prospero Lost, Miranda leads the title character's offspring as they struggle to team up even as their immortal world seems to be heading to hell in a broken hand basket. Fast-paced throughout, fans will enjoy the sibling rivalry while wondering if Prospero will remain lost in hell forever. His centuries' old children acting like battling little kids fail to get their act together; although Miranda is kicking butt for them to shape up now. L. Jagi Lamplighter provides another strong Tempest thriller.

The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer And The Undead
Mark Twain and Don Borchert
9780765327291 $13.99

The plague turned people into zombies who could only be stopped by beheading them or shooting them in the head. People like young Tom Sawyer and his Aunt Polly adapted to the Zum as southerners called the zombies with some safety adjustments to normal living like sharpening the top of wooden fences. Tom ever the imp causing Polly and the townsfolk despair was punished for a misdeed by being forced to perform zombie antiterrorist fence sharpening, but conned the other lads into doing his work.

Tom, Huck and their friend play pirate on a nearby island. They stay for days and rumors spread amongst the townsfolk they were dead until they miraculously return home. Another time Tom and Huck get lost in a cave with Becky Thatcher and the Zum serial killer Injun' Joe.

This is amusing historical fantasy uses the prime cast and story line from the Mark Twain classic, but adds Zum fever to the tale. The cast is solid, but the plot is clearly owned by the mischievous title character and his prime adversary the Undead Injun' Joe serial killing Zum. Readers who enjoyed zombie invasion of the classics like the respective tales by Seth Grahame-Smith and Steve Hockensmith starring Jane Austen or W. Bill Czolgosz's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim will want to read Tom's undead farce with Injun' Joe.

The Last Page
Anthony Huso
9780765325167 $25.99

Twenty-three years old Caliph Howl is the heir to ruling the Duchy of Stonehold. He is proud of his work at school as he is set to graduate with honors; however, his perfect life plan is devastated when he meets upperclassman Sena. She is filled with magic and enthusiasm, but conceals her legacy that she does not quite comprehend. Abruptly she ends their relationship.

In the Seventh House coven, her Shradnae sisters prepare her for what they know is her rightful place in Stonehold as well as theirs. Her assignment is to spy on the new High King who is attracted to her. Obsessed with power, Sena is unaware of what she and her coven wrought when civil war ignites and the ancient Cisrym Ta text surfaces with implications that the mathematics of life and death will change existence. At the same time in the capital of Isca, inexperienced Caliph becomes the High King when the leader is forced to make deadly decisions that will harm the innocent; unaware of the return of Sena. He needs his blood to open the arcane tome.

The world constructed by Anthony Huso is a wonderful imaginary numerically design that readers will admire. The beauty if the Huso realm is fully appreciated when the math formulas of life and dead appear to be changing. Although at times the language seems purposely and to this reader illogically shocking, taking away from the overall fine fantasy, readers will enjoy Mr. Huso strong saga from the start to the Last Page as the logic of math applies to this world's equation suddenly becomes an out of balance inequality.

The Homecoming
JoAnn Ross
9780451230676 $7.99

Former Navy SEAL Sax Douchett survived being wounded and alone presumed dead by his mates as the Taliban assassins went after him in the Hindu Kush region. He survived, but even more harrowing was his few weeks of "incarceration" at Bethesda Naval Hospital. Finally he is allowed to return home to Shelter Bay, physically healed but mentally questionable as he still suffers flashbacks.

While walking with his dog Velcro, the Irish Wolfhound mutt deposits a human bone at his feet. As he thinks of the fickle finger of fate, Widow Sheriff Kara Conway receives the dispatcher's excited call re his dog finding the bone. Kara is upset as she left the Oceanside PD to raise her eight years old son Trey in a safe environs following the death of his dad her beloved Jared in the line of duty as a cop handling a domestic dispute. As she works the case, someone wants the inquiry ended. At the same time Kara and Sax fall in love; he knows he loved her as a teen and never stopped while she has a list of reasons not to get involved with the middle Douchette sibling starting wit h Trey though Sax is so good with her son.

The Shelter Bay police procedural romantic suspense stars two likable lead characters and a strong support cast which obviously including Kara's son; but also SEALs, the memory of Jared, and the townsfolk. The investigative story line is character driven by Kara an d Sax who have a myriad of reasons for not getting involved. This novel is JoAnn at her very best!

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Clair de Lune, arranged for alto sax and piano
Claude Debussy, arranged by Jonathan Robbins
P.O. Box 60, Danvers, MA 01923
TS318, $8.95

"Clair de Lune," arranged for alto sax (and all Eb instruments) and piano is a faithful re imagining of the famous Impressionistic piano piece by Claude Debussy in the last movement of the Suite Bergamasque. This popular theme can now be performed and enjoyed by jazz sax players in true classical style. This edition comes complete with the translation of the poem of the same title by Paul Verlaine, plus background notes on composer Claude Debussy and notes on the history of Clair de Lune. Also recommended in this series is Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, arranged for flute or violin & piano, also arranged by Jonathan Robbins (TS352, $8.95).

Martin Simpson: Just A Closer Walk With Thee
Mel Bay Publications
#4 Industrial Drive, Pacific, MO 63069
9780786601349, $12.95

The latest addition to Mel Bay Publications' Instrumental Arrangements of American Gospel songs in Notation and Tablature series, "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" is a collection of 20 American Gospel beloved songs arranged in notation and tablature for guitar by Martin Simpson. Suitable for campfire sings, guitar church services, or other communal gatherings celebrated with Gospel song, "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" will serve as an excellent resource for the lead performer. Although song lyrics are not included in arrangements, verses to most arrangements are included in the beginning. There are also free audio downloads available of these arrangements at, useful to both musicians and congregations.

The Picasso Book
Neil Cox
Tate Publishing,
c/o Abrams
115 West 18th Street, New York, NY
9781854378439, $29.95

"The Picasso Book" is an overview of the vast artistic output of Pablo Ruiz Picasso (1881-1973), "the most prolific artist in the history of Western art." Using a thematic approach, six chapters and countless color reproductions of paintings and artworks present illuminations on Picasso and poetry, Picasso and war, Picasso and "disfigurement," Picasso and play, and Picasso's thoughts on the role of the artist. In addition to the many discussions of Picasso's vast portfolio of works of art, separate chapter sections contain literary extracts including poetry by Picasso and also critical commentary over the decades. In addition a Chronology of the main events of the life and works of Picasso is presented in pages 187-195. "The Picasso Book" is both a scholarly work and an accessible guidebook to the less informed art aficionado. It is a tribute and a memorial, compacting a glimpse into the entwined enigmas of the man and the myth that is Picasso.

Meisner For Teens: A Life of True Acting
Larry Silverberg
Smith & Kraus Publishers
PO Box 127, Lyme NH 03768
9781575256160, $16.95

"Meisner for Teens: A Life of True Acting" is a text guidebook for young actors. Ideal for high school drama teaching, "Meisner for Teens" contains clear, easy to understand instruction and worksheets to direct budding actors towards authentic, passionate, alive techniques of true acting. "Meisner for Teens" is both a workbook and a journal, encouraging students to search out their own acting goals and desires, learning to live in the moment, paying careful heed to their own and others responses. Working with increased sensitivity develops true acting abilities and skills. Inspirational quotes and exercises to refine skills and awareness are all part of this sophisticated but practical approach. "Meisner for Teens" is a boon to teachers and budding actors everywhere.

Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush
Luis Alberto Urrea, author
Christopher Cardinale, artist
Cinco Puntos Press
701 Texas Avenue, El Paso, Texas 79901
9781933693231, $17.95

"Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush" is an illustrated adult comic book version of the life of Rosario, Mexico's "king of graffiti," who wrote "Deflate your pomp or float away!" in paints on the body of an unexpectedly exhumed monk. "Mr Mendoza's Paintbrush" is a stunningly illustrated life story that absolutely transcends into great art myth at the end. The humor and originality of the artist are showcased in this amazing graphic biography. Collectors of woodblock style art such as that done by Christopher Cardinale will want to add this latest work to their treasures. It is an evolving experience of the macabre and the sacred intertwined, evocative and haunting in its tone. Adult themes and jokes make this a choice more suitable for mature young adults and of course fun-loving mature adults as well.

Love One Another, The Wedding Collection Songbook
World Library Publications
3708 River Road, Suite 400, Franklin Park, IL 60131
9781584594963, $19.95

'Love One Another, The Wedding Collection Songbook" is a contemporary collection of 36 piano/vocal wedding songs with Christian text/themes, written by a number of composers including E. Bolduc, Rubalcava, and others. Arrangements are accessible to church musician standards and there is a convenient collections of refrains at the end to use for group printings. There is also a handy key at the end titled Suggested Use that lists songs in eight categories including Prelude, Processional/Recessional, Responsorial Psalm, Lighting of the Unity Candle, Communion Procession, Blessing of the Bride and Groom, Devotion to Mary, and Anniversary. The songs vocal ranges are generally accessible, and the keyboard arrangements of the accompaniments are quite lovely. "Love One Another" is a perfect boon to the bride and groom (and selected musicians) who need simple, clear choices available to put together appropriate music for their special day.

At Our Table, Favorite Recipes to Share with the People You Love
Roxie Kelley, author
Shelley Reeves Smith, illustrator
Andrews McMeel Publishing
1130 Walnut Street, Kansas City, MO 64106
9780740783463, $24.99

"At Our Table" is a delectable, warm collection of best-loved recipes shared by Roxie Kelley with her family and readers. Filled with practical, homey, comfort food recipes that you will want to make again and again, "At Our Table" is a cookbook that contains recipes for savoring life in all its goodness. Divided into Appetizers, Main Dishes, Side Dishes and Salads, Breads, Muffins, & Spreads, Desserts, and This and That, "At Our Table" presents more than 95 different recipes guaranteed to increase family and friends' enjoyment in shared mealtimes. "At Our Table" is spectacularly enhanced with the delicate artwork of Shelley Reeves Smith, bringing handpainted color and warmth to every page, every recipe, every warm thought. "At Our Table" is more than a collection of favorite recipes; it glows with the certainty of lovingly prepared food as shared joy and a blessing to all.

The Exile of Aeneas
Ed Dehoratius, author
Brian Delandro Hardison, illustrator
Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers Inc.
1570 Baskin Road, Mundelein, IL 60060
9780865167094, $ tba

"The Exile of Aeneas" is a "Follow Your Fates" series rewrite of the choices facing Aeneas in 2,000 year old Greek epic literature. The object is for the reader to face the choices originally faced and made by Aeneas, and in making original decisions, learn to compare and contrast values and cultures between modern and ancient times. In addition to learning Classical history and literature through this re-imagining of "The Exile of Aeneas," the reader will achieve another goal effortlessly: entertainment. Third in the series by the author, "The Exile of Aeneas" follows "The Wrath of Achilles" and "The Journey of Odysseus," other Follow Your Fates titles. The prose story of "The Exile of Aeneas" places the reader directly in the action of the "Aeneid," its original source, but based on reader choices, there are 32 possible different endings to the story. Five black and white illustrations by award winning comic book artist Brian Delandro Hardison add to the impact and appeal of "The Exile of Aeneas." Written by a famous teacher of Latin and the classics, "The Exile of Aeneas" is sure to bring an ancient epic to fresh young adult (and older)audiences and new awareness and fame.

The Native Americans
Elizabeth Glenn & Stewart Rafert
Indiana Historical Society Press
Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center
450 West Ohio St., Indianapolis, Indiana 46202
9780871952806, $13.95

"The Native Americans" is a book of 112 pages (paperback) that contains both a summary and an expansion of an earlier essay by the same authors about the history of the varied Native American populations of Indiana. Not a relocations destination for Native Americans from reservations like many other cities and states, Indiana, and Indianapolis has been described as "a laid back place" and a relaxed place laden with employment opportunities and reduced racial prejudice/stereotyping for Native Americans. Whatever the reasons, the 200 federal census shows a strong rise in Native American population for the state of Indiana. Many nations of Native Americans are currently represented in Indiana, including Miami, Cherokee, Potowatomi, Latin American Indians, and members of over 250 other tribes as well as non-specified or double or mixed Native American heritage. Historically Indiana has been known as the crossroads of America; it may also have been the Indian crossroads of America as far back as the 1600's. "The Native Americans" presents an overview of Native American history and presence in Indiana from 9500 BC to the present day (2009). History is divided into 8 chapters: Original Ethnic Groups of Indiana: 9500 BC-1670 AD, France, England and the Fur Trade: 1670-1783, The Early American Period: 1783-1812, Statehood to Indian Removal: 1812-1840, After Indian Removal: 1840-1870, Tribalism Endangered: 1870-1900, Preserving Indian Ethnicity and Tribal Identity: 1900-1945, and The Rise of Modern Tribalism and American Indian Ethnicity: 1945-present. Throughout the history of Indiana, the Miami have retained a strong presence. The authors acknowledged and appreciated the contributions of Miami Vice Chief John Dunnagan, tribal council member Marilyn Rumsey, and Scott Shoemaker, artist and leader of Miami language camps for Miami children to "The Native Americans." Many native American and European influences have swept and permeated the history and culture of the state known as Indiana from prehistoric times to the present day. From fur trading and Indian Wars to relocation, WW II Native military volunteers, and present day gaming casinos (likened to the old buffalo as a major source of support to Native Americans), "The Native Americans" presents a complex picture of tides of change and cultural evolution that have resulted in the present day Native American population enrichment of the state of Indiana. Treaty battles remain to be resolved, but Native voices reaffirm (that we will always be here (p.112)."

Medicine Seeker
Ha-Gue-A-Dees-Sas (Stan Hughes)
2721 Tulip Tree Road, Nashville, IN 47448
9781935254232, $15.95

"Medicine Seeker: A Beginner's Walk on the pathway to Native American Spirituality" by author and illustrator Ha-Gue-A-Dees-Sas (Stan Hughes) has been described as a journey, or first-hand experience for the reader, as opposed to facts and findings presented about Native American spirituality practices. Along with Native American spirituality practice information and descriptions, author Ha-Gue-A-Dees-Sas (whose Seneca name means man in Search of His People) writes poems, quotes songs and chants, and creates amazing pictures of totem animal guides that may be experienced during a prayer, sweat lodge, vision quest or power quest. The meaning of shamanism, the sacred Circle, the sacred pipes, totems and sacred animals, rituals and prayers for death, healing, the warrior, traditional Native American stories and legends, and the power of crystals or rocks, all are included in terse, gentle hypnotic prose that echoes a storyteller's talents. Particularly intriguing to the reader is a systematic survey to help the reader discover his/her totem animal, with beautiful black and white drawings of the animals, also available as prints or notecards. More about "Medicine Seeker" can be learned at "Medicine Seeker" is a fine contribution to literature for those who search for enlightenment along the ways of Native American spirituality.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

Being Like Water
Charlie Fox
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
9780956499707, $6.95,

To move with the flow of life is an admirable quality. "Being Like Water" is a collection of simple musings on life and God from Charlie Fox, who hopes his simply stated wisdom and thoughts will help readers gain a greater grasp of their lives and come to understandings. "Being Like Water" is a fine pick those looking for a bit of knowledge.

His Own Blood!
Richard Crombleholme
AuthorHouse UK
c/o AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781438979106, $14.49,

A bond of blood is something truly unique. "His Own Blood!: This Time for the Son He Never Knew" is an action and adventure novel from Richard Crombleholme, as he tells the story of soldier John Raven who finds a long lost son in the military service. Drawn back into service, he may have to protect a son he didn't know he had, and gain vengeance for what could have been. "His Own Blood!' is a fun read, sure to entertain for hours. Also recommended is the sequel, "America in Conflict: His Own Blood 2" (9781438978918, $14.49), following the continuing conflict of John Raven and the world at war.

The Reckoning Room
Randall Smith
Privately Published
9781449559601, $10.99

What we really are is not always plainly advertised. "The Reckoning Room" is a collection of short stories about people who are not always what they seem and when the truth comes out, they face a strange collection of facts in the process. "The Reckoning Room" is an enticing and highly entertaining collection that'll please many a short fiction reader.

Letters from Wheatfield
Patrick Shannon
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432757052, $14.95,

Being stuck in the middle of nowhere isn't the worst thing in the world. "Letters from Wheatfield" is the tale of two big city individuals who find themselves liking the small town and find much hope and humor in the vast differences of two American cities. A fun read of small town life and its amusements, "Letters from Wheatfield" is a choice pick.

The Nominal Theory of Good Art
William McCauley
Privately Published
9780578054650, $15.95

Art is a way of life for many, and understanding it doesn't come easily. "The Nominal Theory of Good Art" is the tale of failed artist and dedicated to the craft Charles, who finds his world colliding with everyman Wally. When Wally finds art as his new fad, Charles world and his wife's gallery seem due to be turned upside down. A comedy for those whose passion is the world of art, "The Nominal Theory of Good Art" is sure to get laughs.

Overcoming Complications of Lasik and Other Eye Surgeries
Ismail A. Shalaby & Dean A. Haycock
Sunrise River press
39966 Grand Avenue, North Branch, MN 55056
9781934716021, $14.95,

Eye surgery is a great way to free one's life from glasses and contacts, but there lies great risk with them as well. "Overcoming Complications of Lasik and Other Eye Surgeries" is a guide to the challenges following eye surgeries and the side effects that often come. Millions of Americans face this surgery and not all are equipped to deal with possible side effects. For anyone planning on or has had eye surgery, "Overcoming Complications" is a fine reference to have on hand.

Trip to Paradise
L. E. Fallon
Publish America
PO Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705-0151
9781448974375, $29.95,

A new world is a frightening thing. "Trip to Paradise" tells the story of Trisha McCord and how she is flung into another world instead of the simple Alaskan Cruise that she expected. Meeting with another individual whisked into this new world, together they face it together. A read of adventure, discovery, and love, "Trip to Paradise" is well worth considering.

Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male
Philip Nork
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781438967448, $6.95,

Having feelings doesn't make you gay. "Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male" delves into sensitivity and how to embrace it. Encouraging men to open up their hearts and stop playing games with themselves and the women they pursue, Philip Nork feels that relationships would be much stronger with this facade broken down. "Sensitivity 101" is a top and recommended pick, not to be missed.

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

At Witt's End
Beth Solheim
Echelon Press
9055 G Thamesmeade Rd., Laurel, MD 20723
9781590806623 $13.99

Beth Solheim is a Walter Mitty type. By day she works as a hospital administrator, and at night she indulges her imagination by penning mysteries. She was born and raised in Northern Minnesota, and her various characters and plots occupy the same territory. Her characters are known for their quirkiness, which somehow fits in to the Northern Minnesota culture. One could imagine Garrison Keilor wandering through her stories.

Sadie and her twin sister, Jane, run a resort in Northern Minnesota called Witt's End. It's a bucolic spot, and business is quite good. Sadie is quite a character, wearing what she considers to be "the latest in style," which consists of clothes meant for 20 year olds. Her hair is spiky; her color schemes garish; and she has one more talent. She is a death coach. All of which drives her conservative sister to distraction. How does she find the dead, or rather, how do they find her? They occupy Cabin #14 in the resort:

"'This isn't a bad dream. You died recently and made your way to my cabin.' Sadie gazed up into his eyes to make sure he was listening. 'I'm your death coach. You're a crosser and that's why you ended up in Cabin 14."

Sadie watched Theo's throat bob as he swallowed with difficulty. 'I hope you look at your stay with us as an honor rather than a horror. You have the opportunity to make a major death decision. Most people don't have that luxury.'"

Naturally there is a murder that must be solved in Ms. Solheim's mystery. Suffice to say that the plot is clear; characters are well defined and extremely entertaining; and the setting is gorgeous. Witt's End represents a crossing that all of us will have to make, and Ms. Solheim's ideas of that transitory experience, or the Twilight Zone, between life and death is comforting, humorous, and wise.

AT WITT'S END is a murder mystery with a twist. Sadie's character as lead heroine and ghost whisperer leaves the reader laughing as she tries to explain her gift to the outside world. But the newly dead rely on her to help them enter the next dimension of their existence, and for all her bluster, Sadie is great at what she does. An enjoyable summer read. The backdrop of Northern Minnesota only makes the story more believable.

Murder in the Abstract
Susan C. Shea
Thomas Bouregy & Co., Inc.
160 Madison Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10016
9780803477681 $23.95

Susan C. Shea worked for non-profit organizations for twenty-five years, before becoming a full-time writer. She garnered awards for her work in communications, public relations, marketing, and fundraising. She currently resides in Marin County, California.

Danielle O'Rourke oversees the opening of an art gala for the Devor Museum in the opening scene of MURDER IN THE ABSTRACT. Her job is to bring in contributions, in the form of monetary bequests or art works themselves, to the Museum. The party is fabulous... until someone falls (or has been pushed) from the window of Dani's office. That person turns out to be Clint Maslow, up and coming artist, and an ex-boyfriend of Dani's. The location of the murder; her past relationship with the victim; and the distinct lack of clues put Dani in the center of suspicion. A handsome green-eyed detective also has Dani's heart fluttering each time he interviews her. Then there is her ultra-rich ex-husband, Dickie, who can't stop trying to bring in the cavalry:

"A car horn beeped, and I looked around. Dickie stepped out of a silver Porsche. Nice. I'd never seen it before. In one hand he held one of those ubiquitous white plastic bags, knotted at the top. Take out food.

'Hey, kiddo,' he said, coming up to my car. 'Thought this might be a good idea.'

He opened the bag and held it out to me. My nostrils quivered. Shrimp dumplings? Barbeque sauce? Without saying anything, I took the bag and peeked."

Susan C. Shea serves up a mystery which is well worth the read. Not only does she instruct regarding the oh so glamorous world the art, but she shows us the underbelly of stolen art; fraud; murder; and general mayhem. Dani O'Rourke is a somewhat hapless heroine, but she gets the job done in the end. Does she take back her errant husband, or does she start a new relationship with Mr. Green Eyes? I'll never tell. All in all, MURDER IN THE ABSTRACT is a highly enjoyable read.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

The Spider's Web
Adrian Tilley
Young Haven
Hong Kong
9881809452 $11.95

Just what is happening that is changing so many lives from dreams to nightmares? A disease is spreading through out Hong Kong, the year is 2056. Hong Kong is blocked off from the rest of the world. Is it for their good? Is it for the world's good? Times are hard, food is scarce, and the people are scared. The government is taking over more and more each day, their controlling figure is seen in every avenue of life and the people begin to wonder, just what is really happening in their country. What is the truth and what is a lie?

However, there is a doctor and his wife, members of a group who are fighting to expose the truth, and a journalist and her family that will change the course of all events. Their two teenage children, Jeff and Kathy, are thrust into a world of danger as their parents are taken away from them, prisoners of the state, and they are given the task of sounding the truth, and finishing what their parents had started. Strangers before, now they join forces, will they come out of this alive? As they journey they encounter horrible situations, fight for their lives and become knitted together in their battle to complete the mission set before them and for their very survival. They meet a young boy, Hung, will he be their saving grace? How can one so young be of any help? What a ride.

I'm telling you this is an outstanding read. It kept me glued to the pages until I finished the book. The characters and what they were experiencing in their battles was vivid and alive. You simply have to keep reading to find out what happens to them. It is fast paced, exciting and you find yourselves attached to the young people, cheering them on to victory in a hostel world. I believe young and old will find this book a winner and I am happy to recommend it. Very well done.

Empress Blaze Moon
Karmel Schreyer, Illustrated by: Adeline Ko
Haven Books
12D Kimley Commercial Bldg, 142-146 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong
9789881809483 $10.95 852 2545 9006

The little girl in this tale loves the moon, why there is just nothing as wonderful as it. She loves the way it would make different shapes and remind her of so much, like the D in Daddy or Grandma's silver platter. Why the moon was such a fun object to observe, but one day it was gone. What could have happened to it?

Our story truly begins as our little girl searches for her favorite thing, the moon. She is determined to find it and will not give up until she does.

This is an adorable tale, full of the wonderment that only a child could achieve and share with others. It is warm and drawing, the illustrations definitely help to tell the story as our little girl never gives up until her search is complete. Very well done, leaving you with a smile. Nice book.

Body Parts
Janet Cameron Hoult
Outskirts Press
1041 Parker Road, Parker, Co.
978143275598 $10.95

I always love when someone takes a subject that can make us a little downcast and turns it around, giving it a kick of humor. To my delight that is what I found in this book of poetry by, Janet Cameron Hoult. She has taken many subjects that we deal with as we age, put them in verse and allowed us to giggle and even in certain ones feel a sense of tenderness. Well done.

My favorites were: Hair Today - Gone Tomorrow, Leaky Pipes (I giggled all day over that one), Tired of Being Tired, and Body Works. I have often referred to people as cars as they age. We go in to get one part fixed and another one messes up. She touched this subject very well. Actually she hit just about every subject we are experiencing and did it with class.

There is no way to end the aging we all must face, unless we die young, and none of us want to take that alternate route. This book lets you know there are others facing the same things you are, it's not a personal attack, although at times it feels as if it is. Our author tells it like it is in a light manner yet she breaths into each poem a bit of heart and soul. Very nicely done. Enjoy!

Jifu's Twist of Luck
Mio Debrnam
Geoff And The Ride of His Life
Louise Renwick
Chiru's Lucky Seven
Karmel Schreyer
Esmelda Goes For Gold
Susan Sprengeler

Panda Goes To The Olympics
Judith Simanovszky, author
Adeline Ko, illustrator
Haven Books
12D Kimley Commercial Bldg, 142-146 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong
9789889881900 $23.00 852 2545 9006

I was quite in awe when I received this set of five storybooks neatly placed inside a sturdy colorful holder; I could not wait to begin my read. Inside I found five children's books. They are: Jifu's Twist of Luck, Geoff And The Ride Of His Life, Chiru's Lucky Seven, Esmelda Goes For Gold, and Panda Goes To The Olympics. What are these stories about? Why young animals deciding they wanted a chance at the Olympic games. What a twist for a story, but a real winner.

Each story took a certain animal, such as a Panda, Monkey, Tiger, Antelope, and Ostrich and told of their desire to be in the Olympics and their journey to make this a reality. Sound strange that they are animals, perhaps at first, but the books are so well written and the illustrations so life-like that you are soon caught up in their quest and cheering them on to victory.

The authors were very wise in what they did with this work. They took animals that would catch every child's attention, after all what child is not drawn to an animal story, and brought to life a desire to achieve a goal. These animals had to work through many obstacles, some won, some did not, but they all learned a life lesson and they all tried. They were all winners no matter what the outcome was and you walk away knowing that.

These are truly wonderful books, they were a joy to read, a joy to look out, and left a great feeling inside. Highly recommended.

I Can't Wait To Meet You
Claudia Santorelli-Bates, author
Caleb Sawyer, illustrator
So No Wonder Publishing
533 21st Place, Santa Monica, CA
9780615319353 $15.99

Inside this book we meet, Grace and her husband, Charlie. They want to have a baby but try as they might it just is not happening for them. They travel to the doctor where they undergo Vito fertilization and are very happy when they find out they are going to have a baby.

Author, Claudia Santorelli-Bates writes this book from her own experience of having a child through the help of IVF. This is a hardcover book, very well made, with exceptional illustrations. Our author takes the reader through the process of what happens when someone is trying to conceive using IVF.

The story is told in a very tasteful, joyous, colorful way, and it has a beautiful ending. However, I don't feel it is a book that just any mother would pick up to read to her child. It would depend on when a family wishes to share with their child how a baby is made. They would need to be ready and open for a discussion of this, so that should be considered. However for parents of an IVF child it will definitely show them how deeply they were wanted and greatly loved even before they entered this world. That knowledge alone is a true gem for any child to know and cling to all of their lives.

Please do not misunderstand me, I liked this book. I think it is beautifully written, creatively illustrated and definitely has something to say, and that is the point. It is not a read me a story before I go to sleep book. It is a story with a mission of love that may not be for everyone, but will definitely touch the hearts of those it is set forth to reach.

The Case of The Great Granny
Thomas Emmon Pisano
T.E. Pisano Publishing
9781449979805 $14.95

Murder and romance grace the pages of this mystery read, and they grace them well. Set in Los Angeles, we meet Bradley Daggers, a detective who is now faced with solving a murder whose tentacles run in many directions. Besides solving the murder, he must learn to work with a partner, a woman at that, and he begins a relationship with the beautiful granddaughter of the murdered granny. Perhaps not the best move he could have made. Daggers is a likeable character, his personality is well played out in this read and it actually feels as if you are solving the murder right along with him. Good job on the author's part. Actually all the characters were well played out in this read,it was quick moving and kept my attention. There were a lot of twists and turns which kept up a nice mysterious pace throughout. All in all just what you are looking for in a suspense, mystery read. Nice job.

Secrets of Communion
Eli F. Pagan, Jr.
97814511527131 $9.99

I have been in the ministry for over thirty years, my entire life and work are rooted in a strong belief in Jesus Christ. I have studied the Word of God daily, but I am wise enough to know that God is always revealing to His people, His truths. With that knowledge, I am always open to listen and discern revelation given to a fellow brother or sister in the Lord. His Word is living and as such His revelations come forth as we seek them. I wanted to hear what this brother had to say.

I was please to find in this work a new revelation on Communion. Our author, a man who has given his life to the Savior, has opened my eyes to this revelation. He sought and he found the hidden treasures that most of us have overlooked in this gift that the Lord has left for us. Through his studies and his seeking of knowledge from the Lord, he shows us the depth behind Communion. As he Compared Communion to the Ancient Jewish Wedding, I read in awe as the pages lit up with meaning and understanding that truly entered my spirit and awakened a fresh desire to run, not walk to the Communion table.

I am one who takes Communion often. I love to share the unity it brings to me with my Lord. I am delighted to now have more meaning behind this wonderful gift. This is a great book, chock full of revelation, but more than that it is laced with the heart felt cry from a true follower of our Savior to the reader, to partake of an overflowing blessing of love. Very well done and one I give my highest recommendation.

Drive Time
Hank Phillippi Ryan
Mira Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mill Road, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9
9780778327974 $7.99

Extremely likeable, Charlotte McNally, or "Charlie" as she is called, works at Boston's Channel 3 news as an investigative reporter. She is feisty and smart, putting everything into her work for it has been her life, until now. She is about to get married to a teacher at Bexter Academy and will become a new step-mom to Penny. Life is about to be complicated for our Charlie as murders began to happen at Baxter and Charlie is pulled into the investigation. Not only that but her own assignment for TV news is heating up a she and her partner workers are above their head in a auto theft ring that takes it to the limit, also causing murder. What a place to be for poor Charlie. The plot of her life wraps around like a snake almost causing her to run, but our lady is tough and soon brings to the front what is important bringing a bitter-sweet conclusion.

Add to that the solving of several murders and you can see this story has a lot swirling around and characters that are questionable throughout until the very end.

I enjoyed this book for several reasons. First, I always love to cuddle up with a good mystery and this had several paced into one read. I also liked the way our author added so much warmth and true human interaction within the storyline. Charlie, Josh and Penny gave just the right pinch of that. Her writing skills definitely shine as she pulls all of this together, keeping characters fresh and live in the readers mind, intertwining all of this and keeping it flowing was quite an achievement, but our author did it. Final analysis, this is an excellent mystery read and also a great story of commitment and love. Well done and recommended.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

The Ark of Adams
Jack Kane
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9780557256532 $19.95

The Ark of Adams is a riveting, original science fiction novel about a world forever changed by technology - Dr. Timothy Adams' Virtual Reality immersion and life extension technologies have brought about a seeming paradise, even in the wake of a New Ice Age and the dissolution of global economic markets. But the secretive government agency that funneled Adams funds for his research has an insidious plan in store. Caught in the midst of ruthless forces is Nikki Allen, Arcadia Citizen 472, who becomes a fugitive among the hacker underground after her identity is stolen. What is the rumored Genesis Code Exploit, and what is its role in the burgeoning war that threatens to erupt and consume the would-be perfect world? A gripping saga of technological transformation and the corruption of human nature unfolds.

Blonde Lotus
Cecilie Gamst Berg
c/o PR By the Book
9789889881924, $15.00,

Going half way across the world can be what's needed to find one's place in life. "Blonde Lotus" tells the story of a Norwegian girl who flees her country for China, trying to understand who she is. In a whirlwind of fantasy and sex, she believes she is living her dream, and finds that life has its way of teaching its lessons, no matter where you are. "Blonde Lotus" is a thoughtful and exciting read, and not to be passed up.

Verses of a Young Man
John Loehlin
Privately Published
9781453601839, $10.00

A look back into one's past thoughts can grant immense insight into the world. "Verses of a Young Man" is a collection of poetry from John Loehlin written over fifty years ago, granting a look into the thoughts of a man of the 1940s and 50s. A thoughtful compendium of poetry, "Verses of a Young Man" is a unique experience. "Twilight": The ashes smolder,/the fire dies,/We nurse our lies/As the world grows colder.

The Eighth Scroll
Laurence B. Brown
Privately Published
9781419673238, $15.99,

Truth is something that is battled for everyday. "The Eighth Scroll" tells the story of archeologist Frank Tones and his pursuit of the lost scroll of the famed Dead Sea Scrolls. But when bodies begin to turn up and people are silenced, the good of history seems to be no match for corruption and lust for power. "The Eighth Scroll" is a fascinating and fun read for those who love religious thrillers.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

The Missing Element
John L. Betcher
Privately Published
9781451512717, $15.95

When you're in the CIA, nothing is ever as simple as it seems. "The Missing Elements" follows James Becker as he's tasked with finding those responsible for Katherine Whitson's kidnapping. Having to cut through her deep and scandalous past as well the red tape of the CIA, Beck is faced with a complex world of technology and intrigue. "The Missing Elements" is a fun thriller, very highly recommended.

Seeds of Hope
Edward Golden Williams
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
9780557019519, $15.66,

Poetry doesn't have to be an art form of the elite, it can be down to earth as anything else. "Seeds of Hope" is a collection of simple and entertaining poetry with a message from Edward Golden Williams, who gives readers a treat of heartfelt work. A choice pick for those who want simple yet powerful messages, "Seeds of Hope" is a worthwhile pick. "Unexpected": Tornadoes stalk souls ravaged by woes,/My mind ponders where no one knows./Cocaine destroys the membrane,/Too many tragedies can turn a person insane/Hot coals fuel the engine of a freight train./Sweeping floods carry houses away,/While atheists sicken to death pray./It is strange things happen this way,/Unexpected tragedies lurk every day.

A Steep Climb
Hoyt Clark Harris
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533162673, $23.95,

Hard work is a value that is lost to many people today. "A Steep Climb" tells of Dr. Hoyt Harris, as he recollects his life growing on a farm, spending everyday working his hands to the bone, to becoming an accomplished physician and surgeon, and the many challenges and tragedies he faced along the way. A simple man who does many not so simple things, "A Steep Climb" is a memoir with a strong message. Highly recommended.

Revealing Eschatology II
Henry Gagne
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432729844, $29.95,

The constant wonder in the world is when it's all going to end. "Revealing Eschatology II: Expanded Edition from Genesis to Revelation" discusses the end times as Henry Gagne brings his own biblical studies to the table and discusses how he feels the End times are drawing closer and brings his own scripture studies and the huge biblical narrative as a whole. "Revealing Eschatology II" is a top pick for any student of the Bible, highly recommended.

Steven R. Feldman
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781441526328, $19.99,

Perception is not an objective thing. "Compartments: How the Brightest, Best Trained, and Most Caring People Can Make Judgments That are Completely & Utterly Wrong" discusses perception and how the perceptions of one person can prove to be complete wrong, why the actions of a person might be both generous and cruel. Thoughtful and thought provoking, "Compartments" brings much to the discussion and makes for a very interesting read.

Small Town/Big Town
Ira Jay Winn
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450209441, $16.95,

Small town America is quickly becoming big city America. "Small Town/Big Town: Growing Pains on California's Central Coast" discusses urbanization, and how one small town in California is quickly becoming no different than the behemoth of Los Angeles near by. People tend to embrace the qualities of a city, but this growing impact of cities may have environmental impact in the long run. "Small Town/Big Town" is a fascinating look at the changing landscape of the American community.

In a Cluttered Closet with Jesus
Ron Anderson
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533162284, $8.95,

Theology is something that can have countless takes on it. "In a Cluttered Closet with Jesus" is the musing on Christianity and the Bible from Ron Anderson. Tackling the Bible and the figures of Biblical history, he provides much to think about and plenty to ponder on for readers. "In a Cluttered Closet with Jesus" is a thoughtful read for those who ponder on all things biblical.

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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