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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 10, Number 8 August 2011 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cowper's Bookshelf Donovan's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf
Greenspan's Bookshelf Helen'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

Sid Thatte
Privately Published
9781453633984, $25.00,

Math can prove very much quite daunting. "GRE/GMAT Math" is a study guide for these difficult assessments and understanding the subject matter to the fullest. With a wide array of examples and practice questions, all explained to the fullest extent so it may be applied most effectively on an actual test, "GRE/GMAT Math" is very much strongly recommended to any who want to deal with the test to its fullest extent and come out with flying colors.

Color Creates Light
Tina Dickey
9780986651106, $49.95,

Art is interpreted in many different ways, shifted by those who dare make their own path. "Color Creates Light: Studies with Hans Hofmann" is a study of the man and who he has influenced over his lifetime with his work from student of the arts Tina Dickey. Hans Hoffman, a German emigrant who took up the art before the first world War and presented his own theory on the development of art in European modernism and the abstract. A detailed analysis with plenty of samples of work in full color, "Color Creates Light" works as both a coffee table offering and a scholarly discussion of art.

White Identity
Jared Taylor
New Century Books
9780965638395, $24.95,

Race will always remain an issue as long as race exists. "White Identity: Racial Consciousness in the 21st Century" discusses race in today's world and the myths and facts that are thrown about. Suggesting that even through integration, segregation lies on the table and all races try to focus on issues that affect them, "White Identity" attempts to be straight and honest with the subject of race and America and where White people play into this very touchy subject.

The H Factor
L. E. Indianer
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781456719739, $14.99,

The allure of money and power can challenge advancement. "The H Factor" tells of the advancement of technology that separates hydrogen from water for use in fuels, threatening the use of fossil fuels for America. But terror and other power mongers seem to threaten the ambitious college geniuses and to get their technology through and end dependence on foreign sources. "The H Factor" is a riveting thriller on the challenges of oil.

Searchial Marketing
Alan Glazier
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781456738921, $24.99,

The web is a huge place, so better searching is becoming more important than ever. "Searchial Marketing: How Social Media Drives Search Optimization in Web 3.0" is a guide to understanding marketing in the search-driven internet and how to make it work for one's business in the future using these methods. Worth considering for any business which relies on the internet to find success, "Searchial Marketing" is a fine pick, recommended.

Jeffery M. Anderson
Privately Published
9781453870815, $15.99,

Good and evil are rarely clear in the real world. "Ephemera" is the story of Nester Cab, a writer without a lot of success in the magazine industry. As he gets a lead that sets him out to find a missing soldier, he finds himself colliding with an anti-government organization and nothing entirely clear as to where his loyalties should lie. Facing an uncertain end to the madness, all Cab knows is that he will get a story out of it. "Ephemera" is a fine read with plenty of twists and turns, very highly recommended.

What is this Love Thing All About?
Corey J. Barnes
Privately Published
9780578029627, $14.99,

When all you ask for in life is a good woman, you will some times learn to be careful what you wish for. "What is this Love Thing All About?" is a novel from Corey J. Barnes as he tells the tale of Rick Jenkins, on the search for love without much luck until he meets Aphrodite Morrison. While there is something there, what she is not showing may just leave Barnes back on the hunt. "What is This Love Thing All About?" is a fine pick and very much recommended read for urban fiction collections.

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

A Window Bed
Virginia Burlingame
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9780557709779, $16.99

A WINDOW BED is an unusual novel in many ways: first, its theme is includes a nursing home experience: something often regulated to nonfiction. What also makes this an unusual choice is that the focus is on relationships and romance: again, topics not usually mixed with nursing homes.

Mother Margaret Mary and daughter Jean have spent most of their lives struggling to preserve their connections, with misunderstandings and complaints tinged by tolerance on both sides and all tied together with an undercurrent of love and family connection.

After a brief period living with her daughter, Margaret Mary's health requires a move to St. Anne's nursing home, prompting a degree of relief for both and a good amount of adjustment on all sides.

While a reader would think the living-together portion would have been the key to better understanding, in A WINDOW BED it's the nursing home experience that succeeds in drawing the two together during Margaret Mary's final year of life.

Another unusual point: the nursing home is not portrayed with the usual horrors, but is blended with realistic assessments of experiences to counter the bad feel of nursing homes in general. Yes, the move holds sorrow and pain; but St. Anne's also provides hope, relief, and further connection for mother and daughter alike.

So many novels on mother/daughter relationships offer pat answers: not so A WINDOW BED, which probes the realistic conflicts and joys of the end-of-life experience and the elements that create and can hamper mother/daughter connections. The focus on different perceptions and how they evolve to create barriers between the two is particularly notable.

One doesn't anticipate the feel of acceptance and understanding that the nursing home environment portrayed in A WINDOW BED provides: that's one of the pleasures of finding a novel that is involving, realistic, and candid.

Any collection strong in novels, aging issues or women's writings will find this a fine acquisition.

Eliza's Forever Trees
Stephanie Lisa Tara
Wee Words LLC
49 Bay Vista Drive, Mill Valley, CA 94941
9780615426440, $6.99

Readers may recognize Stephanie Lisa Tara's name from her prior acclaimed picture books but ELIZA'S FOREVER TREES is something different: a 136-page novel recommended for elementary grade readers with good reading skills or parents who can use this as a nightly Kindle read-aloud exploring positive relationships between mothers and their children and kids with their environment.

At the heart of the book and the delightful fantasy forest it creates is Eliza, a Northern California girl who lives with a grandfather in a house not filled with the love she felt in her mother's home. Poetic phrases and compelling images are one of Stephanie Lisa Tara's hallmarks: "For a house to become a home took a lot of love, and it was not as if the love in Mother's home could jump next door to Grandfather's house."

Eliza's problem is central: she's lost her mother and can't recall where she's gone. For answers, a journey is involved: a journey away from a librarian Grandfather who tends to endless stacks of dusty old books and into the books themselves, where Eliza's own book-loving mother once said she could be found (""This is where you can always find me, sweet Eliza," she'd said, holding them. "Right here in these stories.")

A talking butterfly, Eliza's rejection of the idea of her mother's death, and an ancient forest filled with adventures and dangers awaits her search for the truth about her mother's absence: a search that involves finding Great Mother Redwood.

Magic, talking animals, and discovery mark an dramatic story filled with notes of ecology, encouragement, mystery, nature, and vivid word and picture images alike.

Eliza eventually finds her mother in a changed form and in making the journey has also discovered connections to a very different, unexpected world.

What makes Eliza's Forever Trees a perfect parent-child read-aloud to share beyond the usual picturebook stage is its evocative sounds, descriptions and thought-provoking insights. This lovely story will prompt discussion and reflection as well as being a fine read.

Eliza's Forever Trees is a compelling and powerful account, very highly recommended for any young Kindle reader. It stands out as an exceptional tale of personal and world discoveries. Add Alex Walton's vivid drawings and you have beautiful creation of hope and color.

The Raie' Chaelia
Melissa Douthit
Lucky Bat Books
e-book: $2.99, print: $6.99,

The Raie'Chaelia is the first book in a projected trilogy: as such it opens with a bang: a dark, bleak moment in which a doomed chained man faces a traitor to his kingdom, fears for his wife and daughter, and realizes his choice of whom to trust has been misplaced and is punishable by death. A powerful stone completes the tragic scene: then fast forward to the world of Chalice, a young girl who flees her home village in the middle of the night to embark upon a larger journey that will bring her conflict, new friends and unexpected love.

The Raie'Chaelia is filled with expressive tension, poetic descriptions of atmosphere, and fine characterization that slowly build a tense, complex, involving plot. Chalice's coming of age and realization of her place in her world slowly leads to her realization of personal power and to the evolution of powers that will change her life and those of everyone in her kingdom. What may first appear complex in this fantasy story - from in-depth character descriptions and settings to unusual language or references - is intended to set the stage for an eventual twinning of three titles in the series.

Chalice's evolving abilities link her to other species and peoples during her journeys and her encounters with these other creatures provide opportunities for new alliances and connections. She faces new ideas and challenges at nearly every step of the way: from a land journey to a sea sojourn, discoveries of underlying politics and changes in different regions, and the legend of a queen who perishes to save her people from a dangerous and evil weapon.

Eventually it will all come down to a creature seemingly impossible to kill, a force which falls into the wrong hands, and a common girl whose evolving powers will challenge the evil in her world.

The Raie'Chaelia concludes with a cliff-hanger: it's time to unleash the real power of evil - with a mandate to kill Chalice.

Can't wait for the second in the trilogy!

The KidTellers Series Book #1:
Easy Beginner Tales
Vivian Dubrovin
Storycraft Publishing
Box 205, Masonville, CO 80541
Kindle Edition ASIN: B0056ULZ76 $3.95

Easy Beginner Tales is intended for kids 9-14 years old as well as parents and adults who want to home storytelling abilities, and provides the first e-booklet for teens who want to begin learning basic storytelling skills. It features 'TellerPaks' covering tabletop telling, mistakes, and using props for audience participation, and provides keys to basic storytelling methods.

'TellerPaks' are centered around a theme: each including a story and tips on how to tell it. For some seventeen years the quarterly publication Junior Storyteller provided such 'tellerpaks': upon their demise in 2010, young storytellers were left with a void here filled by Easy Beginner Tales.

With Easy Beginner Tales, teens are invited to learn how to tell - not just read - a story. Three 'tellerpaks' are included in this first book, gathering some of the best unpublished works of Junior Storyteller into a downloadable format both accessible and affordable.

Each telling is unique and features a different approach, not just a different story line. Each tale links a story to discussions of the craft of its telling, activities to enhance the oral presentation, and alternative options for creative exploration.

Black and white and color illustrations throughout discuss props and creative projects that can be used to enhance the storytelling experience.

From basic acting tips to insights on how to remember key components of the story, Easy Beginner Tales is quite simply a 'must' for any who would become a storyteller.

While it's directed to young adults ages 9-14, many an adult aspiring to become a storyteller will find this the perfect starting point to understanding the foundations of the art. With its step-by-step focus on reading the story, understanding its components, and providing a dramatic oral presentation, there is little left to wonder - and plenty of concrete, tested storytelling information to absorb.

Requiem for Humanity
Alan Hoshor
Kindle Edition
9780615470092, $2.99

Thanks to genetics and efforts of humans to re-design humanity the human race is heading for widespread and revolutionary changes in its very being: that's the premise of REQUIEM FOR HUMANITY, a collection of essays that review the humanity-changing topics that will prove hot and controversial subjects in modern times.

Chapters pose the idea that our children will have a more direct influence - and choice - in humanity's nature than any generation has ever before held, and Alan Hoshor

reviews the nature of these choices and their social and ethical impacts.

The sciences of genetics and artificial intelligence together will place new stresses on the planet's systems and will foster an actual new species blending human biology with nanotechnology and machine intelligence.

From ecological impacts of genetic manipulation on the planet's existing systems and evolutionary processes to the development of new kinds of biological weapons, new agricultural systems, and new blends of man and machine, chapters offer in-depth focus on the ultimate effects of genetic manipulation on the nature of humanity and its impact on the planet.

The inclusion of ethical considerations in the entire process adds a wider dimension to these hard-hitting articles, which seek a balanced view of the pros and cons of genetic manipulation. It's far more studied and logical than most, offering a reasoned consideration of humanity's evolution, changes, and its drive to control not just its environment, but its very genetic makeup.

Any collection strong in science, ethics, social issues and concerns about humanity's evolutionary progress will relish Alan Hoshor's powerful consideration of the forces that make us human - and that affect humanity itself.

Field of Dead Horses
Nick Allen Brown
Harrowood Books
3943 North Providence Road
Newtown Square, PA 19073
9780915180240, $16.99

FIELD OF DEAD HORSES is set in 1939 and tells of Elliott Chapel, who is riding his horse on his farm when he finds a beaten woman lying in a creek in a coma. Five decades later Elliott recalls the incident, and the events that would stem from his discovery and attempts to help Ellie - events which would change a small town forever.

FIELD OF DEAD HORSES is steeped in the horse-racing culture of Kentucky, and includes a fine cast of characters, from the protagonist and the woman he saves to a bullying small town sheriff and a wealthy industrialist who depends on horse-racing to make his fortune.

Politics, murder, and the deepening involvement of a man previously primarily involved in horses from quite a different angle blend with family interrelationships and complex scenarios to make FIELD OF DEAD HORSES a riveting story.

Add a mayor's questionable involvements and the potentials of an unusual, winning horse and you have a fine novel of secrecy, intrigue, and change that will especially delight readers interested in Kentucky backdrops and the underlying nature of the horse-racing world.

FIELD OF DEAD HORSES' strong characterizations make this a special winner, recommended for any fiction collection.

Diane C. Donovan
Senior Reviewer

Dunford's Bookshelf

Dead Spell
Belinda Frisch
Create Space
7290 Investment Dr, Suite B, North Charleston, SC 29418
9781461006633, $9.99,

When everything around you is out to destroy you and your life, your resolve against it cannot last forever. "Dead Spell" is the story of Harmony Wolcott, a woman trying to deal with the forces around her, her schizophrenic mother, and secrets she has been keeping to herself going into adulthood. As time moves on, she is forced to confront the forces around her or be consumed by them, and doom herself to life of drugs and promiscuity. "Dead Spell" is a story of facing the crisis that life has left for you as you enter adulthood.

Bright Light
Dee Wallace
O Books
B. Harlan Boll Public Relations (publicity)
2635 Page Dr., Altadena, CA 91001
9781846945984, $16.95,

Spirituality and good faith are contagious if you know how to spread it. "Bright Light: Spiritual Lessons from a Life in Acting" combines memoir with spirituality as she advises readers on how to push themselves to succeed and what acting has taught her in this path, and how it helps others as well as helping yourself. Poignant and uplifting reading, "Bright Light" is worth considering for any memoir collection with a focus on spirituality.

The Pillar of Light
Christiana Neely
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781456713973, $15.99,

As your world is on the brink of extinction, the call of salvation accepts anyone who takes it. "The Pillar of Light" is an entry into the Golden Staff Saga from Christiana Neely as she tells of Elena and her friends, as well as the fate of El-Tepora. El-Tepora needs the four gems to exist, and their recent theft leaves the world in limbo, sustained by the pillar of light for an indeterminate time. "The Pillar of Light" is a unique work of fantasy, recommended.

Kian Kaul
Privately Published
9781460949658, $15.99,

Honesty is not appreciated. "Stockholm" tells of creative advertiser Anakin Carver as he meets with Natasha von Ottmann, they become famous, and find life and love at the top of fame is disgusting and petty. As the world shifts, the choices between being a mega star and being a human being grow further apart. A fun read with a strong grounding in reality with a bit of humor blended in, "Stockholm" is a strongly recommended read, highly recommended.

The Most Important Question
H. Constance Hill
Diamond Clear Vision
9780982922569, $9.99,

Questions can be just as important as answers. "The Most Important Question" is a work of philosophy and thought aimed at younger readers as H. Constance Hill writes of a tale of young Alexandra Elizabeth and the question she poses to genius of the twentieth century Albert Einstein - what is the most important question? With plenty to ponder, "The Most Important Question" encourages philosophical thinking, recommended reading indeed.

Lost Love Found
Tim Gomes
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440148675, $15.95,

The grief visited by 9/11 did not fade easily. "Lost Love Found" tells the story of widow Dan Jagger, coping with the loss of his wife after the terrorist attacks. When he meets up with a high school sweetheart, he realizes that said sweetheart has a tattered past and he believes it will likely turn up bad for him. As tragedy visits his life once more, he must sort his love and find where his beliefs should go. "Lost Love Found" is a thoughtful read of sorting out life's crises.

Persistent Illusions
Joseph Devon
Privately Published
9781460957684, $13.99,

The nature of the universe throws responsibility in all of the wrong places. "Persistent Illusions" is the second Matthew and Epp Stories telling of a world of adventure and sentient zombies where the decision on if the world burns or not lies in the hands of drug addicts. With plenty of unusual characters and a unique brand of humor that will be hard to put down, "Persistent Illusions" is a fine and very much recommended read not to be overlooked.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Faces in the Fire
Donnita L. Rogers
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450271394, $17.95,

In the age of high adventure in ancient lore, the princess held the power of choice, something to be feared in itself. "Faces in the Fire: The Women of Beowulf" is set the land of sixth century land of mythology surrounding the legends of Hrothgar, Beowulf, and Grendel. Freawaru, a princess and daughter of Hrothgar finds the times of her choices coming quickly ahead, finding many people with their own ideas of how to oppose Grendel, but it may just ultimately lie on her. "Faces in the Fire" is an exciting novel spun from mythology and legend, very much recommended.

Vincent's Vengeance
Sheila DeLong
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781456758530, $11.70,

When there is an accusation of the unthinkable, sometimes very few will surely search for truth. "Vincent's Vengeance" tells the story of Nurse Sara Dautry, who is out to clear her Autistic brother's name after his is accused of murdering a Catholic priest. As she searches for truth, she finds it's more than a murder accusation, as it twists into the secrets of the FBI, CIA, and Vatican. "Vincent's Vengeance" is a unique religious thriller, worth considering reading.

Tracking Terra
J. K. Scott
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450269117, $18.95,

The fate of the earth must rely on the reunion of a friendship through centuries. "Tracking Terra" is a blend of science fiction and fantasy from J. K. Scott, telling of a multi-century crisis of alien influence on Earth. Sara was blessed with an exceedingly long life when rescued by an advanced species five hundred years ago, and now she must rescue a friend she met in those five hundred years in order to set the planet right and stop humanity's annihilation. "Tracking Terra" is a read well worth considering for science fiction fans.

The Spirit in the Desert
Brad Karelius
7290-B Investment Drive
Charleston, SC 29418
9781439217214, $18.99,

History holds many important events, both triumphant and tragic. Owens Valley played home to many of these events. "The Spirit in the Desert" discusses the valley and the many events that came through here, making it a bit of a sacred site all its own in the religion of Americana. From the terrors of internment camps and American Indians facing the losses of their homes, to inspiring much art, "The Spirit in the Desert" provides a wide picture of culture at its best and worst, very much recommended reading for those who want another angle of American history.

A Reluctant Assassin
C. E. Wilcox
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450257800, $16.95,

A good killer will never find themselves out of work. "A Reluctant Assassin" follows Oscar Wylton, established assassin for the marines. After surviving his last impossible job, he is dragged back for one last job he wants no part of, this time with a mafia boss in his sights. Working against the law and against the underworld, Oscar must think quick to survive and get the job done, while tiptoeing the lines of morality. "A Reluctant Assassin" is a choice work of fiction, recommended.

Six to Five Against
Bernard Ryan, Jr.
Privately Published
9781461109914, $17.95,

The odds are against you, but their not indomitable. "Six to Five Against; A Miscellany" is a collection of stories from all walks of life, compiled by Bernard Ryan as he recollects tales he has seen and heard about success and failure over life. A truly unique collection with a little bit of everything, "Six to Five Against" is a compilation that is very much worth considering.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Football Wife
Jan Thatcher Adams
Franklin Green Publishing
9781936487042, $16.95,

There is an ever growing library of memoirs and biographies of professional football players. What is far more infrequent is a candid memoir penned by the wife of a professional football player. "Football Wife: Coming of Age with the NFL as Mrs. Karl Kassulke" is an exceptional example of just such an autobiography. Jan Adams sometimes brutally candid memoir is a superbly written account by an extraordinary woman in her own right. Adams had a twenty-five year career as a physician who in the 1990s accompanied Dr. Patch Adams on a tour through Russian hospitals, orphanages, nursing homes, refugee camps, and more. Perhaps her crowning professional achievement was founding Maria's Children International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing art supports and funding to more than 600 Russian orphans, as well as similar projects in Mexico. But while her professional career was exemplary, her marriage to Viking NFL player Karl Kassulke (whom she met playing 'powderpuff' football) was not. "Football Wife" is a story that incorporates drug abuse, alcoholism, marital infidelity, the impact of the cult of personality. It is also a personal history of a series of medical problems that began when Adams suffered a head injury in a traffic accident in 1985; spinal problems and a paralyzed leg in 2002; an undiagnosed severe illness in Russia in 2007 only to be followed by a diagnosis of cancer later that same year; reconstructive foot surgery in 2010; and the necessity of a pacemaker installed in 2011. In "Football Wife" the reader is informed of the good times and the bad times, it is an remarkable account of struggle, failure, and ultimate redemption. A gripping read from beginning to end, "Football Wife" is deftly written, keenly insightful, occasionally inspiring, the singular life of a singular woman, and especially recommended reading for anyone struggling with familial issues complicated by medical traumas, and impacted by celebrity, success, and the siren call of hubris.

It's Time to Play Outside
Miska L. Rynsburger
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781456732042, $13.99,

The outdoors are vital for establishing good habits for long term health. "It's Time to Play Outside: 101 Ways for Your Young Child to Enjoy Independent Fun Under the Sun" is a parenting guide for parents who want to encourage good health and good practice instead of sitting in front of the TV all day. Stating that all you need for outside fun is a yard and some advice, "It's Time to Play Outside" is a strong pick for any parent who wants to encourage greater activity in their children.

The Spirit's Journey
Dave McKenzie
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450272216, $26.95,

As soon as flight became a reality, the dream to go to the sky for many youths proved very strong. "The Spirit's Journey" is a memoir of Dave McKenzie as he tells his own journey to the sky. At a young age he was fascinated by machines and small airplanes, and as he aged, he pursued his dreams of becoming a pilot even while having to be an automobile designer in the process. A story of pursuing one's dream, "The Spirit's Journey" proves inspirational and highly recommended.

One Side Leads to the Other
Tim Pompey
Privately Published
9781460912713, $12.95,

It can be hard to see the world changing as you live in it. "One Side Leads to the Other" is a collection of short stories from Tim Pompey as he presents stories of many different worlds and how they are similar, yet different, all in the eye of the beholder. "One Side Leads to the Other" is entertaining, thought-provoking and should prove very difficult to put down for many a reader. For short fiction collections, it shouldn't be overlooked.

I Want to Know My Future
Linda Dipman
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432773526, $16.95,

With nothing left, not even family, God may be the only thing left. "I Want to Know My Future" is a Christian memoir from Linda Dipman who ponders her rough journey when she was thrown in jail and forgotten by her church and family. When all seemed lost she relates how God was still there for her and she hopes her story will help other readers remember this important fact. "I Want to Know My Future" is a powerful and very much recommended read.

James Kirk Wall
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450287074, $20.95,

Why is faith regarded as a single choice only option? "Agnosticism: The Battle Against Shameless Ignorance" is James Kirk Wall's against the corruption of ignorance in our lives that many people fall into, ignoring any spirituality on the outsider. Stating he has an agnostic approach and encourages others to keep an open mind and consider many elements of the origin of our world, "Agnosticism" is a spirituality guide that encourages thought above all else in all of our searches for enlightenment.

John Austin Sletten
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road -515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432771683, $41.95,

Power corrupts, and the FBI has plenty of power to corrupt itself with. "Deceit: A Novel of Lies, Duplicity, & Fraud" is a novel that author John Austin Sletten claims is a true expose behind the FBI and how he turned from his bright eyed hopes and dreams to make a difference in the world and the stark corruption of the real FBI. Speaking on much of what he saw, "Deceit" tells a story of a corruption that grows stronger and that may be too powerful to be challenged.

The Sweet Gooey Memoirs of Caramel Butta Pecan
Liz Sanquiche
Privately Published
9781461102274, $17.95,

A burst of excitement is all some people need. "The Sweet Gooey Memoirs of Caramel Butta Pecan: Erotic Short Stories" is the erotic and exotic collection of short stories as author Liz Sanquiche spins a tale surrounding her unique heroine as she pursues fulfillment and adventure in finding the glee of those moments. For fans of short fiction on the naughty side, "The Sweet Gooey Memoirs of Caramel Butta Pecan" may be what they're looking for.

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

The Light of Epertase
Douglas R. Brown
P.O. Box 2912, Wenatchee, WA 98807
9781936850105, $15.99,

In Matthew 1012, Epertase warrior Rasi is filled with regret and sorrow for the atrocities he committed under the guise of war though he tries to rationalize he was only following orders of his commander Prince Elijah. Epertase desperately conceals from his pregnant wife his despair and guilt he feels from his combat experience.

Rasi joins a celebration honoring Prince Elijah as the Light of Epertase shines on him. When he feels he can properly leave the coronation, Rasi heads home. He intercedes in an attempted rape but the hooligans kill the women. Authorities blame Rasi for the homicide and cut out his tongue and dump him into a pit to fight the rashta; shockingly he kills the beast. However the tentacles from the rashta discharge into his back. Over the next seven years he hides in the shadows until five years ago a woman began traveling with him.

The Teks invade Epertase and Lithia to take the oil they need to run their machines. Their superior firepower leads to many massacres. Although few know it in beleaguered Epertase, Rasi is the only hope but that is contingent on Princess Alina replacing her corrupt father King Elijah on the throne. Others prefer sacrificing the royal daughter to the Light of Epertase.

This action-packed military fantasy is a strong tale that hooks the audience from the onset and never loosens that grip until the final confrontation. The Epertase world is established on solid footing in the first few chapters; once the foundation is anchored, the story line turns into an extremely fast-paced read. Though the plot goes down the path readers will expect Douglas R. Brown provides an entertaining gripping thriller that is difficult to put down.

The Herring In The Library
L. C. Tyler
Felony & Mayhem
9781934609767, $14.95,

In Findon, West Sussex, England third level list mystery writer (under two aliases) and romance author under another name) Ethelred Tressider runs into university pal Sir Rob "Shagger" Muntham. After a brief chat, Shagger invites Ethelred and his agent Elsie Thirkettle to a dinner party at Muntham Court. They agree to attend the gala.

As soon as they arrive, Elise makes it clear to her client that they are to sit near the exit so they can gracefully leave. From the moment they step inside Shagger's young wife tense Annabelle outrageously flirts with Ethelred in front of everyone. However before they can flee into the night, someone strangles Shagger inside the locked library. Annabelle demands Ethelred investigate. Being chivalrous, he agrees but Elsie refuses to leave alone with the not so grieving widow and the snooty crowd he investigates.

The latest ET to the second power amateur sleuth (see The Herring Seller's Apprentice and Ten Little Herrings) is a wonderful locked-room mystery that has a throwback feel to the Agatha Christie country house whodunits (see Endless Night, And Then There Was None and Peril at End House) though in a contemporary time. The fun is the interplay between the perfect English gentleman and his in your face agent who insists if he worked diligently and applied his talent he could attain a level two. Readers will enjoy the antics of this pair has they investigate the murder of Sir Shagger.

Andrea Cremer
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780399254833, $17.99,

Seventeen year old alpha girl-wolf Calla Tor struggles with her love for Shay, who she changed into a man-wolf (see Nightshade) and her need for her soul mate Ren. Calla worries about Ren as the Keepers who control the wolves were torturing him back in Vail. She concludes the Keepers will destroy her Colorado pack unless she can intervene somehow.

She knows she cannot save her pack alone so she makes a deal with her enemy the Searchers who agree to assist her destroy her former handlers. However, the Searchers have a price expected of her, Ren and the pack for her freedom.

The second Calla enjoyable high school age urban fantasy is a direct sequel to the first entry (see Nightshade) so it behooves the audience to read that tale to understand how the heroine got to this point of making a deal with her life long enemy. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with non stop action as the reader joins Ren and others on a raid that fails to deploy as planned. There are some heated sex and another cliffhanger that enhance the wonderful saga.

The Last Letter from Your Lover
Jojo Moyes
Viking Books
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780670022809, $26.95,

In 1960, following a car accident that hospitalized her in a comatose sate, twenty-seven years old Jennifer Stirling wakes up. However, her injury leaves her with amnesia; she does not recall the accident that left her in her current condition or anything else.

Her Husband visits her almost every night and Jennifer knows in her heart she does not love this wealthy man who has made a fortune exploiting mining operations in the war ravaged Congo. When she finds a passionate haunting love letter from a "B" Jennifer knows the unknown author is her beloved. Still, she also struggles with what is acceptable behavior amongst her English social class in London.

In 2003, English journalist Ellie Haworth researches a story in her newspaper's morgue when she finds a B letter to Jennifer. Feeling the love "B" had for his Jennifer, Ellie looks deep inside her heart to her grand passion as she tries to learn whether "B" and "J" had a happy ever after.

This is a charming relationship drama starring an incredible cast especially the two letter writers and the reporter who investigates their tale. Character driven, fans will relish this bittersweet romance as love proves not enough yet lasts forever in spite of time and place separation. Jojo Moyes provides a wonderful story that romanticists will relish.

The Traitor's Emblem
Juan Gomez-Jurado
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781439198780, $24.99,

In 1919 Munich, fifteen years old Alys Tannenbaum is the daughter of a wealthy Jewish businessman. Her parents keep a close watch over her. At a birthday party for insufferable aristocratic Jurgen von Schroeder, Alys meets Paul Reiner, the poor cousin of the guest of honor; Paul is working as a waiter at the gala. Repugnant Jurgen makes Alys dance with him, but when she asks him to let her go he refuses. Paul, who is Aly's age, rescues her.

Raging at the pauper's affront, Jurgen and several punks assault Paul. This brawl encourages Paul, who already wanted to know what happened to his naval captain father whose death is allegedly tied to Jurgen's family, to seek the truth. As Jurgen joins the Nazis, he remains steadfast with his obsession to break his relative while Paul remains obsessed with learning what happened to his dad even at the cost of losing his beloved Alys.

This is an enjoyable between the World Wars in Germany romantic thriller though the story line follows a seemingly inevitable path of destructions. The cousins loathe each other so much that nothing else matters; their perspective over the Brandenburg Gate obsessive compulsive disorder will have readers wondering about nature over nurture. Although the story line is very thin and obvious, fans will enjoy the epic look at an expanded family who during a time of relative peace in Europe are at war with each other.

The 34th Degree: A Thriller
Thomas Greanias
9781451612394, $24.00

In 1943 at the Monastery of the Taborian Light in Meteora, Greece, British and Nazi agents seek the Templar Globe, which contains the Maranatha text written by Paul, which predicts the return of Christ. The text apparently was used by the Byzantine Empire to develop the Greek Fire that ended the spread of Islam and centuries later when Constantinople fell, the Muslims looked everywhere for this scroll.

In the present Sam Deker struggles with civilian life in Los Angeles after being dishonorably discharged from the military (see The Promised War). He suffers from such severe nightmares that a sleep disorder clinic tests him. He learns the light wave torture he underwent as a prisoner changed him. Applying the Patriot Act, the Pentagon finds out about the condition of the disgraced former Ranger. They decide he is the only viable candidate to undergo the experimental the 34th Degree Neurosimulation of having brain cells implanted in his brain. In 1943 Chris Andros and Nazi General Ludwig von Berg competed in a deadly forum to gain the Maranatha text and the hand of beautiful Greek Aphrodite Vasilis. Now Deker is injected with tissues from long deceased von Berg and recently dead Andros; his mission, if he survives, is to discover what happened to the Maranatha text. The Alignment seeks the same text using the identical methodology.

This is an action-packed thriller that will remind readers of Trevor Hoyle's Professor Q novels (seek Seeking the Mythical Future). The cast is stereotyped, including the heroes of 1943 and 2011, between the good, the bad and the evil. Still faster than the speed of light and filled with lethal competition in both eras, fans will enjoy Thomas Greanias' exciting tale.

Jeffery M. Anderson
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781453870815, $15.99,

As the Memorial Weekend beckons, the employees at The Reviewers Review magazine scramble to leave. Thirty-eight years old writer Nester Cab is chosen as the designated lock up for the holiday driver. Nester feels like he belongs in a different as his life is filled with ennui at home and at work. He hides behind cynical facades as only those disenchanted with the sham of the American nightmare can; even his cuckoo clock does not chant. His boss Aida knows him as the city's biggest recluse while his excuse for not getting a drink outside the office with her is his review of Amblin's review.

Cab finds a note left behind by an intruder addressed to him including his serial number to locate AWOL Corporal Forsythe who "knows where they are." Although everyone except Aida and him are gone from the office, he assumes this is an inane prank. However, with nothing better to do after a few drinks, he begins a search for the missing soldier. His inquiry leads him to the violent Neo-Luddite Army whose leader Stillman holds Cab prisoner for indoctrination into the government-corporate conspiracies led by the real power in DC the Secretary of Commerce.

This extremely dark thriller is character driven by Cab's disillusionment. Ironically it is easier to understand Stillman in spite of his irrational moments than it is the numbed indifferent Cab. Though not fast-paced, Ephemera is a thought provoking tale as readers will see the outcome of the Reagan legacy is the Eisenhower warning to beware of the government industrial military complex. To conceal reality, politicians use the mantra of Ephemera to assume the brain numbed public will quickly forget the hypocrisy and lies.

Dead Dolls Don't Talk/Hunt the Killer/Too Hot to Hold
Day Keene
Stark House Press
4720 Herron Road, Eureka, CA 95503
9781933586335, $23.95,

Dead Dolls Don't Talk. In 1958 Harry and Bonnie meet in a bar on Sunset Strip for a New Year weekend of sex. She asks him if he thinks he can handle her wealthy husband John. As the months go by one murder leads to another; Police Inspector Kelly investigates while Hart is the fall guy.

Hunt the Killer. Fishing boat captain Charlie White is released from a Florida prison after serving four years. The Warden and lifer plus Swede warn him to make an adjustment from self pity by returning to the water. Zo welcomes Charlie back to civilian life while the latter's wife Beth does not. Zo and Charlie make love when someone attacks them; killing Zo and leaving White to die. However, White survives only to learn the cops hunt him for killing Zo.

Too Hot to Hold. Although taxi driver Mike Scaffidi was unaware of his pending death in two days, his demise begins with picking up Linda Lou Larson at Grand Central Station in 1958. The model from Chicago abruptly jumps from Mike's cab only to be hit by a truck. The accident report filed by the traffic cop leads to one less cabbie.

The three reprints of 1950s crime thrillers are entertaining tales that focus on an innocent person trapped in deadly webs not of their making; as one thing leads to another. Although contemporary when written, the five plus decades turn the entries into enjoyable character driven historical noir pulp fiction. In the introduction, David Laurence Wilson called the author one of the "Great Trio" (along with Whittington and Brewer) in 1950s crime fiction; this entry affirms Mr. Wilson assertion.

Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa
Melanie Dobson
Summerside Press
9781609361358, $12.99,

As the Civil War devastates the nation, the seven Amana Colonies villages constructed less than a decade ago in Iowa remain out of the deadly fray for the most part. Twenty-four year old hard working Amalie Wiese arrives from the Inspirationists' original Kolony, Ebenezer, New York at the Amana village to meet her betrothed Friedrich Vinzenz who has joined the Union Army after meeting an escaped slave.

Being a great cook; Mr. Faust believes the best ever on the trail; Amalie opens up a communal kitchen to keep her mind off her concerns over Friedrich's safety. While waiting and praying for his return, she turns to Friedrich's friends who she knew back in Ebenezer. However, her fiance's most trusted confidante Matthias is cold to her though she knows not why. He conceals behind his icy demeanor his love for his best friend's woman.

Melanie Dobson escorts her readers back to the Amana Colonies (see Love Finds You In Homestead, Iowa) with an engaging Civil War drama. The story line digs deep into the personal conflict facing conscientious objectors opposed to the war on religious grounds as being "unholy" yet the Union argument of eliminating the evil of slavery is powerful and surely supported by God. Amalie and Matthias are strong antagonists who fall in love while the man in each of their hearts risks his life at the front. Friedrich knew his commune would buy him from serving after he was conscripted by the Union Army draft, but he felt slavery is unholier than the war. He brings the moral conscience to a powerful romantic triangle as love and war finds you in Amana.

The Bells
Richard Harvell
Broadway Books
1745 Broadway, New York, NY, 10036
9780307590534, $14.00,

In the Uri Valley in the Swiss Alps, Moses Froben was born in the belfry of a church. His deaf mom Adelheid rang the three loud bells that she could not hear. He was raised in that belfry with love and learned to listen to people by the sounds they make. The heartbeat of his mute mom would rise when she was excited. Moses listens while he wandered the village but all thought he was as crazy, deaf and mute as his mom. When Moses saves a life but reveals he can hear, Father Karl Victor assaults him and tosses the child into the River Russ.

Monks Nicolai and Remus rescue Moses and take him to the Abbey of St. Gaul. The choirmaster Ulrich realizes the lad has extraordinary talents and nurtures the voice by castrating the lad. The castrato meets heiress Amalia Duft. They fall in love, but though she remains his life inspiration, they have little hope of being together. His two monk friends enable Moses to become the toast of Vienna and the rest of Europe as a musico soprano Lo Suizzero.

This is an engaging historical "biographical" fiction as told by Moses' "son" that life in late eighteenth century is a cruel place for the less fortunate. Though much darker the first act of the Bells reminds me of the modern day Oliver Twist movie August Rush; while the other two acts remain grim yet inspirational as Moses' magically makes music. Although at times especially in act one the story line seems an overly emoting melodrama, readers will ring accolades to Richard Harvell who captures the tone of the good, the bad and the ugly of Europe.

Sucker Punch
Jeremy Brown
Medallion Press, Inc.
1020 Cedar Lane, No. 2N
St. Charles, IL 60174
9781605422251, $14.95,

Warrior Incorporated President Banzai Eddie Takanori offers Aaron "Woodshed" Wallace a rematch on television against Junior Burbank, who he has defeated him once, his rival's only loss. Wallace accepts the offer to fight Burbank again in two days as this is his chance to make it to star status.

Wallace's trainer and mentor Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Gil Hobbes and Eddie warn the champ to take it easy as he trains with Jairo, one of the Arcoverde brothers, from Rio. However Wallace owes a friend Lance for saving his life so he agrees to do it as a favor. He goes with Lance to meet a loan shark, but all hell breaks lose as if a no-holds barred unsanctioned brawl occurred. Now Woodshed is fighting for his life with Jairo's Cousin Marcella having his back.

Round one is a super action-packed noir starring a charismatic MMA fighter and a strong retinue in his corner. Marcella is more than just a potential female throw in for Wallace; as she can fight with the skills of the better MMA warriors. Between the sanctioned fights, the training for the boys and the mob, readers will enjoy Wallace taking opponents to the woodshed.

Vintage Connor: The Blonde in the Lotus Elite
Robert Baty
R. J. Buckley
1451 E. Poncho Lane
San Tan Valley, AZ 85143
9780981965475, $19.00,

Connor was an Oakland cop for twenty years. Retired from the force, he enjoys locating rare classic cars and attending shows especially the big one in Monterey.

Evie, a former girl friend from his early days at Oakland PD, arrives at his hose one night. She left him when she could not cope with the concept of marriage to a cop. Pleading with Connor, Evie begs him to look into the officially determined suicide of her daughter Janey in a motel during the annual Monterey classic car weekend. Grieving Evie rejects the coroner's finding; instead she insists Janey was murdered. Connor and his former partner Vince Hendrix investigate what he assumes is denial. However, he begins to change his mind when evidence surfaces that makes Janey's death more likely a homicide, but also that the mourning mom hides something critical from him.

This first super Vintage Connor investigative thriller is a throwback classic Noir containing a touch sleuth, a dame, classic cars and a corpse. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Little Evie arrives to rev up Connor's "locomotion"; as once a cop always a cop. Action-packed, sub-genre fans will enjoy touring the vintage car world with Connor as our guide.

The Sauvignon Secret
Ellen Crosby
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781439163887, $24.00,

In Loudon County, Virginia wine importer and distributor Paul Noble hangs himself in the converted barn he owned. Vineyard owner Lucie Montgomery who just argued price with Noble over her Sauvignon Blanc and Cabaret Sauvignon is stunned to find Paul's body hanging from a beam as she thinks how often she along with others in the wine industry wanted him dead figuratively not literally. Lucie calls 911 and County Sheriff Deputy Mathis, who has worked cases involving Lucie, arrives at the scene.

Lucie's French grandfather Pepe arrives for a short visit before going on to Sonoma, California. Pepe's friend Charles Thiessman pleads with and persuades Lucie to go to California to investigate whether Noble's death was linked to his activities in the Bohemian Club during the Nixon Era. In Napa and Sonoma, Lucie joined by her former lover winemaker Quinn Santori make inquiries that lead to the Mandrake Society biochemists also from the Nixon period in which others like Noble have died; some four decades ago.

The latest wine country amateur sleuth mystery (see The Riesling Retribution and Viognier Vendetta) changes coastlines in a fresh Sauvignon story. Lucie and her support cast in Virginia and California are aged properly as they bring insight into winemaking and selling. The mystery is entertaining, but contains less suspense than usual. Still fans will toast Ellen Crosby for a fine tale.

Flash and Bones
Kathy Reichs
9781439102411, $26.99

The Charlotte Motor Speedway hosts a major NASCAR event, but a corpse found in a barrel of asphalt interrupts Race Week festivities. Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan is assigned to make a faster than the speed of light identification of the victim so the remains can be expeditiously removed from the race.

In 1998 Wayne Gamble's older sister Cindi and her boyfriend Cale Lovette disappeared. She dreamed of becoming a racing car driver while belonged to the Patriot Posse right wing extremists. Wayne believes the victim in the barrel is his sibling. As Brennan works the cold case, the FBI claims jurisdiction, which has Temperance stunned as the Feds had the case a dozen years ago and dropped it abruptly. Meanwhile Charlotte-Mecklenburg PD officer Erskine "Skinny" Slidell and Charlotte Motor Speedway security chief also fog up Brennan's inquiry.

This is a strong Brennan mystery as Kathy Reichs blends trademark forensics with racing in a fast-paced thriller. Besides law enforcement, CDC is also involved leaving the heroine to wonder if she is dealing with a massive cover-up. Readers will enjoy the latest Brennan tale as she bangs heads with law enforcement while performing what she believes is the proper duty of a county ME.

My Lunatic Life
Sharon Sala
Bell Bridge
P.O. Box 300921, Memphis, TN 38130
9781461087717, $TBA,

In their latest move, high school senior Tara Luna and her Uncle Pat move to Stillwater, Oklahoma. They are accompanied as always by two ghosts (Millicent and Henry) that she sees and talks with but her only living relative cannot. Although she would prefer settling in one place Tara loves her eccentric uncle who took her in before her first birthday when her parents died in an accident.

At school Tara is called the "Lunatic" by everyone but Flynn O'Mara who calls her "Moon Girl". They start dating. While in a classroom, Tara's psychic skills erupt as a boy is dying in the bathroom. She leads the teachers and coach to the spot where Corey Palmer suffers a seizure and dies. When Corey's spirit asks her if he is dead, she says yes, but tells him to return to his body if he desires, which he does. His GF Nikki makes Lunatic one of her BFFs. Someone abducts head cheerleader Bethany Fanning who was one of the trio that treated Tara with disdain. While a ghost buried in the backyard of their new home pleads with her to find her body and her killer, Tara and Flynn try to rescue Bethany.

OMG, Book one of the Lunatic Life young adult series is a fun teenage Ghost Whisper (and more psychic skills) amateur sleuth. Tara is a wonderful lead character who holds the entertaining story line together. The cast is solid (that is figuratively as there are two prime ghosts and other hauntings) although the cheerleaders trio and the jock are too stereotypical. My Lunatic Life is a delightful tale that combines the heroine's adjustment as the newbie at the high school with her investigating paranormal scenarios.

Hainted Love
Maureen Hardegree
Bell Bridge
9781611940145, $12.95

In suburban Atlanta fourteen year old Heather Tildy knows summer vacation will give her more time to help those who died but unable to move on to do so although she prefers her paranormal gift to go away as it is a burdensome curse. However, the teenage Ghost Handler has set several resolutions involving her family while school is out. Though her motive is for a smooth entry into high school Heather hopes to connect with her grumpy older sister Audrey in spite of her sibling's BFF nasty Karen. Second she wants to keep her younger sister Claire from turning into a clone of their nasty older sibling by spending time with her.

Heather makes progress on the sisters' mission until Jack the ghost arrives. He died a few weeks ago though no body was found. Jack insists he is comatose not dead and proves it to Heather with a soul searing kiss. At the same time Aunt Geneva believes Heather is the next generation Ghost Handler, her sibling's scheme has no ghost of a chance of succeeding as she is preoccupied.

Although the plot is similar to Hainted Misbehavin', the second Ghost Handlers middle school urban fantasy is a fun tale. Heather is a great character who remains abashed by her new paranormal skill as everyone who matters to her believes she is fruitcake except for her aunt who everyone knows is a fruitcake; ergo Heather a chip off the nutty block. Young adult readers will enjoy the second Ghost Handler thriller due to the heroine who remains in deep trouble with her parents, sisters and others, and has a crush on an apparent dead guy.

As The Crow Dies
Jason Starr
Bell Bridge
9781611940084, $14.95

He lost both legs in Vietnam and realized during his first visit home to Coyote Springs, Texas over the 1968 Memorial Day weekend, he would never be treated the same. His neighbors greet him with pity, guilt and avoidance except for his dad and his friend Zach Merchant. The doctors at the Air Force Medical Center in San Antonio decide Jason's stumps are too short to use prosthesis. His dad Theodore insists he can walk though starting as quarterback for the Cowboys is no longer a reality.

After completing therapy at "Willy", he clumsily walks on his newly fitted prostheses. Theodore's partner George Elspeth tells Jason his dad is dead. Police Detective Clyde Burker, who Jason played football with in high school, states his father committed suicide. Though kick butting is no longer an activity Jason can do, he knows his dad did not kill himself as Theodore was his biggest cheerleader and would not desert him at this time. Jason's religious mom and his sister Debbie struggle with the police ruling. Jason tells his twin Leon who ran from the draft; his brother rejects suicide based on a chat with their dad last week. As Jason looks into why his dad killed himself, a second death occurs.

Jason is a great character as his struggles to make it as a double amputee in a world built for the norm so it is filled with obstacles for him. The amateur sleuthing is clever as Jason does not suddenly become a superhero but instead a walking with a hitch hero adjusting while investigating. He and the support cast who pity and avoid him or truly marvel at his walking make for a powerful timely historical thriller.

H.W. "Buzz" Bernard
9781611940015, $14.95

Hurricane Janet is predicted to be a category one when it hits the Georgia coast and barrier islands like St. Simons Island over the Labor Day weekend. Still though St. Simons has not felt the fury of a major hurricane in ages, officials suggest people leave for the mainland though many remain on the island.

Trish and Alan Grant decide to leave when the weather begins to turn ugly. However, one of their two children fifteen years old Sandy is missing; apparently meeting a boy she met on the internet. With their eight years old son Lee they search for their daughter. At the same time Air Force Hurricane Hunters Major Arlen Walker and Captain Karlyn Hill send back data from the Eyewall of the storm while they and the rest of the crew feel like The Charge of the Light Brigade; the Hurricane Center believes Janet is a category one. However, the new information may be too late to prevent a Katrina like disaster.

With a nod to Karen Harper's Hurricane and 1992's Andrew, retired Weather Channel meteorologist H.W. "Buzz" Bernard provides a tense thriller as a Catastrophic storm assaults the Georgia coast. Hurricane Janet is seen though the eyes of the Grant family battered and trapped on a resort island though the daughter angle is a bit overly melodramatic and the air force crew caught inside the Eyewall. Exciting from the moment the cast realizes this is not the predicted Minimal Category 1, readers will root for the heroic men and women (and hiss at Walker's incredulous cartoonish spouse), but the story line is owned by Janet.

Goodie One Shoes
Roz Siegel
Hilliard and Harris
PO Box 275, Boonsboro, MD 21713-0275
9781591333111, $18.95,

Following the breakup of her "perfect" marriage to Larry the lawyer following his tryst with the Russian, Emily puts aside her Ph.D. to return to her roots sort of by opening an exclusive shoe store in Manhattan's 'elite Upper West Side; her dad had a shoe store for twenty-five years in Brooklyn. Emily's Place on 98th and Broadway becomes a hangout for shoe aficionados that run the social economic spectrum as the coffee is quality, the chats charming, and the merchandise spans the luxurious and the bargain.

However, someone kicks Emily's perfect world when her sweet assistant Kim Chang is murdered; the weapon is a Jimmy Choo stiletto whose matching pair is missing. NYPD suspects Emily as a potential killer as she had means and opportunity though a viable motive fails to surface. The lead police detective Paul Murphy worries that the footwear fetish fiend will target Emily next. Soon after the homicide, the culprit threatens Emily through snail and email. Finally the other Choo arrives followed by the murder of Emily's maid.

This is a fun Manhattan murder mystery starring a beleaguered woman who is under all sorts of pressure from the cops, family members, customers, a former fired employee and her late worker. The story line is lighthearted and fast-paced as Emily's still hippie sister and her still married spouse make demands of her. However, it is her demands of herself to find Kim's Choo killer that make for a lighthearted entertaining New York frolic.

Randy Alcorn
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781414358468, $14.99,

Nathan Hayes meets his two fellow police officers the day before he starts his job. When he returns from getting gas, he refuses to let the leader of the Gangster Nation steal his car. He uses heroic measures to defeat the gangster; not because the vehicle mattered but his son counts. Corporal Adam Mitchell and his partner Shane Fuller are impressed with the new member of the force. His partner is Deputy David Thompson who just completed his rookie year, but has much to learn from veteran Nathan.

Adam is drifting apart from his family especially his teenage son Dylan who does not share his dad's interests. Tragedy strikes when Adam's daughter Emily is hit by a car whose driver had cocaine and alcohol in his system. After talking to his partner, Adam starts to read the Word and realizes he has to get right with his son by setting an example just like Shane, David and Nathan need to as well. They sign a Resolution to be there for their children and despite near death experiences at the hands of criminals and the stress of their jobs, they become closer to their offspring by helping each other make better choices.

Religious faith is the bedrock of these four cops who become better people, husbands, fathers, and police officers by practicing what they preach. The camaraderie that arises between them is almost to strong to behold as they have each other's back on duty and off. Although it is predominantly a family religious spiritual drama not for everyone, the elements of a police procedural keeps the story line somewhat anchored to the ground.

Shadow's Lure
Jon Sprunk
59 John Glenn Drive
Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616143718, $16.00,

After insuring Josey became the Empress of Nimea (see Shadow's Son), top assassin Caim retired from the deadly vocation. While Empress Josey struggles to hold on to her throne from backstabbers, Caim leaves Holy Othir to journey to the foreboding Northlands to obtain information on his birth and his allegedly murdered parents who vanished. Though he knows he will miss his beloved Josey as he wants to be her spouse his obsession with the Northlands drives him away.

Caim enters a locale under the control of the Shadow, but continues his quest to know. However as the temptations from the Other Side blasts at his soul with alluring enticements, Caim keeps his heart focused on Josey while he also struggles to remain out of a war as his fighting days are over, or are they?

This exciting sword and sorcery thriller is an entertaining tale with the prime focus on Caim accompanied by the enigmatic Kit in the Northlands. This brings freshness to the story line as the action moves form Holy Othir and Empress Josey (who curses her beloved for choosing the Northlands over her) to a stranger land and his peculiar family tree. The enjoyable story line rotates somewhat between Caim, Josey, Kit and a few other participants, the assassin remains the prime player with his personal quest while the rest of the cast move forward the overarching theme although that can feel a bit intruding. Fans will enjoy the return to the Shadow's realm of Jon Sprunk.

Sword of Fire and Sea
Erin Hoffman
9781616143732, $16.00

Fifty years ago Captain Vidarian Rulorat's grandfather signed the Breakwater Agreement that the current High Temple of Kara'zul Fire Priestess Endera demands he adhere to as she needs a watery escort for a young novice at a time when the world magic is waning. Rulorat insists the ancestor's bargain escorting a Sharlin priestess on a ship is suicide, but when Endera insists and offers compensation of emeralds tied to his life, he agrees though honoring his late ancestor's commitment is why he accepts the dangerous task.

Traveling through perilous pirate controlled water, Vidarian transports fire priestess Ariadel to her new temple. In pursuit are the deadly telepathic magic practitioners the Vkortha who need to kill Ariadel to prevent her from telling anyone about the taboo rituals that she witnessed the sect perform. Rulorat has his issues too as a descendent of two magical bloodlines which means he will die young from the hybrid genetic illness that confronts all mixed race offspring and the Goddess of Chaos demanding and coveting he free her from her incarceration. The pair realizes they are the focus of much more nastier essences as ugly secrets about his biological family and her priestess family surface threatening to drown both of them.

Sword of Fire and Sea is a terrific seafaring fantasy starring two fascinating protagonists and a strong support cast; most of whom are adversaries to the lead pair. The story line is faster than the speed of life; partially because the Hoffman world is never fully developed except on the High Seas. However, no one will care much; as sub-genre fans will accompany Captain Rulorat and Priestess Ariadel as they head straight south through adventures that rival the Clash of Titans and make Odysseus seem like he was on vacation.

Allie Larkin
c/o Penguin - Putnam
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780525951711, $25.95,

Although she put on a happy face, Savannah "Van" Leone is heartbroken having watched as the maid of honor Peter Clarke who, she has loved for several years wed her best friend Janie. Van combines a Rin Tin Tin marathon with vodka. Drunk, she buys a German shepherd puppy on line.

However, her canine arrives but is not a cute little dog, but instead is a humongous Slovakian police dog; she calls her roommate Joe. Bigger than a gorilla, the neighbors fear Joe as does Van's devastated furniture. However owner and pet become best buddies as she tells him about her broken heart made worse when the couple come home from their honeymoon. Still Joe rejects her moping around; pushing his significant other towards a new romantic interest.

Van and Joe makes this warm contemporary romance fun to read as she struggles with unrequited love and a humongous canine demanding she move on. The support cast can be distracting as there seems to be enough to fill the Hartford Civic Center though each contains diverse personalities but especially eccentric Louis. Fans will enjoy Van finding her groove after believing she lost it forever.

Lure of the Wicked
Karina Cooper
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780062046901, $7.99,

In New Seattle Holy Order of St. Dominic witch hunter Naomi Ishikawa West reluctantly agrees to pretend to be an heiress at the luxurious Timeless spa. She hates her mission of surveillance of a man who murdered two church officials because to Naomi this assignment feels like the missionary prison the Church took her out of.

At Timeless, Naomi rushes from the elevator into spa owner Phinneas Clarke's arms; where she almost ruined his family jewels with a knee lift. He conceals his family secrets and his witch rescuing underground activity behind the respectability of Timeless. However, naive nice Naomi has him wondering if there is more to life under the church's tyranny.

The latest Dark Mission futuristic romantic urban fantasy (see Blood of the Wicked) is an exciting thriller with a strong cast anchored by the lead couple. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Naomi knees Phinneas and never slows down until the final confrontation. Although the post apocalyptic world of Cooper is not further enhanced from the setting of Blood of the Wicked even with a stop in Old Seattle, sub-genre fans will appreciate this exhilarating tale.

Loved by a Warrior
Donna Fletcher
9780061934728, $7.99

Four bandits trap the beautiful woman, but as Reeve MacAlpin observes from his concealment, none braved a step towards her as they feared her as the "death bride". They debated amongst themselves how to rob her and decided that to void the curse they must kill her. Reeve comes out of his hiding place to run them off.

Tara explains she is widow two times plus other loved ones have died as she knows she is cursed to kill those she loves. Her father has arranged for her third spouse, but this time she decides to vanish instead of having another corpse as a mate. They travel together, but many assailants stalk them. As the pair forges a relationship, he takes her to his family for her safety. He is in love, but she fears his death due to the curse that will kill him.

The second early eleventh century MacAlpin brothers' Scottish romance (see Bound to a Warrior) is an exhilarating refreshing medieval tale due predominately to what the curse does mentally to Tara and how Reeve reacts to it. Fast-paced but driven by the wonderful lead couple, readers will enjoy Donna Fletcher saga of "siblings" prophesied to raise the True King onto the Scottish throne.

Silk Is For Seduction
Loretta Chase
9780061632686, $7.99

Offspring of two notorious (infamous on both sides of the Channel) con artists, the sisters Noroit (Marcelline, Sophia and Leonie), own Maison Noroit. By 1835 their London dress shop is growing rapidly but the competition is nasty. Still the siblings think they need one major patron to turn their business into the must fashion stop of the English and French aristocracy.

Marcelline believes she has just the candidate when she learns the Duke of Clevedon is to marry. She travels to Paris to persuade the Duke in the family's seductive way to send his fiancee Lady Clara Fairfax to Maison Noroit for her wedding gown. Her scheme is perfect as she flirts with the Duke; however, Marcelline soon realizes it is too perfect as the Duke ignores Lady Clara for the dressmaker. As she finds herself falling in love, a cross Channel gender war ignites.

The keys to this offbeat wonderful tale is the eccentric cast as the Duke realizes his Marcelline does not have a pure dark heart of avarice, but instead has a need to help those she appears to con (just ask Clara) though she has to make nation exits rather quickly. She takes Paris by storm as a "Dreadful DeLucey" and a "Notorious Noroit" who seduces a duke to chase after her. Amusing and filled with wit, pre Victorian romance fans will look forward to a pair of other con artists to follow.

Waking Up With the Duke
Lorraine Heath
9780062022455, $7.99

In 1860 in Leicestershire, the Marquess of Walfort tells his friend the Duke of Ainsley he owes him. A few years ago when hey were in their twenties, the two cousins got drunk celebrating the pregnancy of Walfort's wife Jayne. Driving the carriage under the influence led to an accident that left Walfort a paraplegic unable to move his legs and, as he informs Ainsley, his penis. He demands Ainsley seduce Jayne and make her pregnant with his heir. Filled with guilt for destroying four lives, he acquiesces.

Jayne loathes the man she holds culpable for her husband's paralysis and the loss of her baby. However, she reluctantly agrees to spend a month with Ainsley, but under her rules. As passion ignites between them and Jayne sees a caring remorseful Duke, they begin to fall in love. However, neither wants to hurt Walfort and learn of Cousin Ralph's threats.

Although somewhat linear as the story line goes as expected, readers will appreciate this profound Victorian romance that digs deeply into extended family dynamics and the moving relationship between Lord and Lady Walfort. Character driven by the complexities of the one size fits all rules of the Ton on the triangle; readers will relish the tale of the third of London's Greatest Lovers (see Passions of a Wicked Earl and Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman).

The Tarnished Lady
Sandra Hill
9780062019134, $7.99

At one time Lady Eadyth was known as the Silver Jewel of Northumbria. That was before she had an illegitimate child in 946 AD that led to her being dubbed as the Tarnished Jewel. Eadyth needs a husband to protect her and her offspring from a nasty brute who plans to gain custody of her son.

Needing a bodacious plan, Eadyth marches into Ravenshire Castle to persuade that barbaric "loathsome lout" Lord to marry her. He is aghast by her hag looks and her sassy mouth. However, instead of rejecting his guest's strange proposal, he becomes interested when he learns who sired her son. Eirik plans to use Eadyth as a pawn to get to his adversary who is also her son's father. He will be further stunned when he learns what she really looks like but trouble is fomented by their common enemy and leaves them in peril.

This is a reprint of a 1990s award winning tenth century Viking romance starring two battling Vikings in love and a common vile enemy. The story line is fast-paced with a humorous Sandra Hill trademark romance although the adversary is stereotyped detracting from their jocular gender war.

A Matter of Scandal
Suzanne Enoch
9780380818501, $7.99

The Earl of Haverly, Dennis Hawthorne asks his nephew Greydon Brakenridge, the Duke of Wycliffe to come to his remote estate in Hampshire during the London season. Needing an excuse to flee the females of the Ton including his mother, Grey leaves for Haverly Manor. However, he fails to rid himself of all his troubles as an entourage accompanies him.

Grey's uncle has accumulated bad debts, but refuses to allow his nephew to pay it off. Instead he asks Grey to come up with a plan to help him with his financial crisis. Grey starts by raising the rents on the tenants including the Miss Grenville's Academy. The schoolmistress Emma Grenville argues with Grey that tripling her rent will shut down the school, but he believes that is no loss as these finishing schools are really marriage brokers. Still Grey cannot ignore how pretty Emma is when she makes a bet with him on whether she could persuade him that females deserve a formal education. When they placed the bet, neither one expected her at the center of a school for scandal debacle nor for love to grow between them.

Reprint of A MATTER OF SCANDAL is a refreshing Regency romance that completes Suzanne Enoch's gregarious "With This Ring" series. The story line centers on the war of the sexes as Grey and Emma clash over female education as much as their love for one another. Through her shrewd characters, Ms. Enoch provides a perceptive perusal of the options facing aristocratic women in the early nineteenth century England inside a strong romance that will delight sub-genre fans.

This Perfect Kiss
Melody Thomas
9780061898761, $7.99

In 1775 Saundra sprains her ankle leaving her bedridden and unable to attend a gala. Her cousin Christel Douglas borrows the gown and sneaks into the masked ball. Her slipper falls off her foot and Camden St. Giles picks it up. He kisses her. However, Camden marries Saundra while Christel leaves Scotland for America where she marries and becomes a widow.

It is almost a decade since the kiss that shook her core, but now Christel finally comes home to watch over her late cousin's child. Camden is not the man she remembers as he suffered injuries during the war with the colonies and cannot believe his side lost. She hears rumors about Saundra's death and he believes she killed those who murdered her husband. As they are wary of each other, the kiss remains burned in both of their souls.

This Perfect Kiss is an exciting Georgian romance filled with betrayal, twists and spins. The key support cast is fully developed but it is the lead couple who makes the tale entertaining as each has lost their mate in some ways to the recent colonial revolt, but has each other if they can trust their heart. Melody Thomas provides an engaging historical second chance at love.

The Wild Road
Marjorie M. Liu
9780062020185, $7.99

The hotel is on fire when she awakens. She is horrified more than scared when she sees three corpses near her and blood all over her. There is also a one word message: 'Run.' She quickly realizes she has no idea how she got there, who the dead are, who wrote her the warning note and even who she is.

Heeding the note, she goes to steal a car to start her run to she but she is not sure where. Gargoyle Lannes Hannelore sees the woman splattered with blood stealing his vehicle. He comes over to stop her, but though he must stay in the shadows and avoid involvement in her mess, he offers his help. Desperate she accepts even as he wonders if the set up was to use this woman in peril to lure him into activity by something not human

This is a reprint of a Dirk and Steele paranormal romantic suspense thriller that grips the audience with its eerie opening sequence as readers, Jane Doe and the gargoyle wonder what is going on. Set aside time as you are hooked into a fast-paced one sitting tale. Although it helps a bit to have read the previous entries in the saga as there are previous happenings retold with more insight, THE WILD ROAD is a fabulous story starring two fascinating protagonists that can stand alone

The Amish Nanny
Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North
Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736938617, $13.99,

Amish Ada Rupp must decide between joining the faithful and hopefully landing Widower Will Gundy as her mate or leaving. Both are viable options since she met for the first time her sister Lexie Jaeger who helped her understand her illness and is marrying James Nolan in Aurora, Oregon (see The Amish Midwife). However, a chance to travel to Switzerland as a companion to Will's daughter Christy enables Ada to learn about her ancestors especially her birth mother who gave her to the Amish.

Ada obtains help from Daniel Hart the Mennonite scholar who she likes, but Will occupies her heart and soul. However, it is grief stricken no longer caring about anything or anyone Christy who grabs her soul as The Amish nanny wants to help the tweener move on.

The second Women of Lancaster County tale (see The Amish Midwife) series focuses on suddenly confused Ada who knew her path until she met her sibling for the first time. Now she has an alternative and a quest. Readers will appreciate this engaging Amish romance as a second Mennonite romance of Ada's traveling companion Morgan and insight to the life (past and present of the Plain people make for a fine at times amusing novel.

Scott O'Connor
Tyrus Books
1213 N. Sherman Avenue #306
Madison, WI 53704
9781935562504, $15.95,

One year ago, Lucy Darby suddenly died. Her husband David who is used to working with death as crime cleanup technician cannot understand what happened to his healthy wife. Their school aged "Kid" Whitney also cannot comprehend what occurred to his mother.

Twelve months since the tragedy happened both still grieve. As he cannot move on, David has no idea how to help his son as he cannot help himself; thus the Kid remains mute since he lost his mother. Whitney only communicates through his notebooks. Meanwhile while David struggles with cleaning away violence, he is on the brink of a break down and perhaps insanity. The Kid, the target of bullies at school, believes when Y2K arrives, he will bring his still alive (in his mind) mother home soon.

Untouchable is a profound insightful tale of grief that asks what happens when a person fails to move through the Five Stages of Grief as defined by the Kubler-Ross Model but instead becomes locked deeper into one of the first steps. David seems Bipolar as he fluctuates between phases 2 Anger and 4 Depression but never moves into 5 Acceptance and for the most part skips 3 Bargaining. The Kid remains locked inside phase 1 Denial. Both are rapidly mentally and emotionally deteriorating. Not for everyone Scott O'Connor provides a powerful character study of a father and son failing to move on following the death of the loved one who was the family focus as grief is customized.

County Line
Bill Cameron
Tyrus Books
1213 N. Sherman Avenue #306
Madison, WI 53704
9781935562351, $24.95,

In 2008 in Oregon, former cop Skin Kadash returns from his month long retreat after his recent harrowing experiences (see Day One). He visits his beloved Ruby Jane Whittaker but she does not answer her phone nor is she at one of her Uncommon Cups shops. Skin learns from RJ's employee Marcy that Ruby Jane left a couple of weeks ago on personal matters. Her Portland apartment contains the corpse of Dale and soon after finding the dead body someone attacks Skin.

Skin drives to the San Francisco Bay Area to confront RJ's former lover Pete, but he knows nothing about her whereabouts and now is concerned too. They agree next stop her home town in Ohio. Although Skin remains ignorant, Ruby Jane is indeed in the Buckeye State, but has learned the hard way you can't go home especially to a dysfunctional family that she has spent years running away from.

Rotating between Skin's first person missing person's Noir and Ruby Jane's first person haunting high school age narration from two decades ago, County Line is a dark thriller filled with spins and twists as nothing is quite what the reader perceives it is. Although on the surface, the two subplots are extremely bleak, there is an underlying theme of belonging and connecting with someone who cares as being an essential need of people. Bill Cameron provides a grim character driven thriller yet there is also a glimmer of hope.

Liquid Smoke
Jeff Shelby
Tyrus Books
1213 N. Sherman Avenue #306
Madison, WI 53704
9781935562399, $24.95

In San Diego, private investigator surfer Noah Braddock feels pretty good about his life. His two relationships that matter to him are going well for a change. First he and Detective Liz Santangelo have moved pass their latest war though Noah expects future combat and he and his alcoholic mom Carolina seemed to have reached an accord though he expects that will pass as always.

Lawyer Darcy Gill demands Noah look into a San Quentin death row case, which the sleuth insists will interrupt his catching the waves and devastate his mellowness. Darcy informs the detective this is one case he does not want to let ride as the man convicted of killing two people is his biological father whom Noah never met nor wants to meet. Unable to remain neutral Noah surfs the streets of San Diego seeking to understand what happened while no longer mellow he alienates everyone in his path even his roomie Carter.

The key to this excellent suspense laden twisting thriller is Noah's bewildered shocked first person viewpoint. His stunning reactions to what is going on make for an engaging psychological mystery as Gill's revelation surfs away his mellow (see Killer Swell and Wicked Break).

Screams and Whispers
Randall Peffer
Tyrus Books
1213 N. Sherman Avenue #306
Madison, WI 53704
9781935562368, $24.95

Failed public defender and Cape Cod fisherman Michael Decastro receives an email from Tran that leads to the former getting drunk. Trans explain that his half sister, Michael's former client and ex lover, Tuki Aparecio is in trouble in Ho Chi Minh City. Tuki vanished from Michael's life over a year and a half ago.

Vicious Dragon Lady Wen-Ling demands the half-Vietnamese, half-African American hand her the valuable Heart of Warriors ruby or else. Michael decides to go to Viet Nam to rescue Tuki though he will be on the Dragon Lady's turf. His father Caesar, a Vietnam War veteran who speaks Vietnamese fluently, accompanies him to Saigon as the older man calls the city with plans to assist his son and make a side trip. Neither Decastro really knows what they are diving into as the souls of everyone they cherish including themselves isn peril.

Combining history especially the Nixon Era with a gritty urban noir in a Southeast Asian country refreshes the latest Cape Islands Mystery (see Provincetown Follies and Bangkok Blues). The story line is fast-paced from the moment the Decastro father and son arrive at Club Saigon and never slows down as several stunning twists accelerate the pace. Readers will never look at tea the same way as Randall Peffer provides an exhilarating thriller.

Redeeming Love
Francine Rivers
Multnomah Books
12265 Oracle Blvd., Suite 200
Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781590525135, $14.99,

In 1835 eight year old Sarah became an orphan when mama died; she was sold into sexual slavery to an affluent citizen the Big Man who preferred little girls. He changed her name to Angel, but by the time she could escape she only know how to use her body to make a living.

In 1850 the prostitute arrives in California where she joins the stable of the infamous Duchess. Each night she is auctioned to the highest bidder as the most popular Cyprian. Michael Hosea the farmer heeds God's words to redeem the whore. He spends his money to talk to Angel in hopes of persuading her to give up hooking. At first he fails on his mission, but Angel begins to slowly find self esteem and basks in God's unconditional love that has her believing she can be more than a hooker.

This is reprint of a groundbreaking inspirational historical romance that uses real issues of pedophile, other depravities and prostitution to tell the heroine's story of redemption. Angel makes the tale work as she is sold into prostitution but at the first opportunity becomes her own woman so she sets the foundation for her later belief in God and the love of Hosea. Although her repetitive running to and from Hosea makes sense for this doubting Thomasina soiled dove, these reiterations slow down the pace. Still, based on the Prophet Hosea's relationship with Gomer the prostitute who God had him marry and show unconditional love for her even if she sleeps with other men, Redeeming Love remains an entertaining tale of the healing power of the Lord encouraging love.

Shadows on the Sand
Gayle Roper
9781601420848, $13.99

In Seaside, New Kersey, Carrie and Lindsay Carter run Carrie's Cafe. The thirtyish Carrie is attracted to former cop and widower Greg Barnes, an early morning customer at the cafe, but he shows no indication he reciprocates. Both have had traumas in their life with she being a child abuse victim and his wife and children died three years ago in an explosion; so neither is capable of taking that first step. Greg is attacked, which awakens his cop instincts for the first since his family tragically died and much more when Carrie tends to his injuries.

Someone murders one of the dishwashers and a waitress vanishes. Greg's gut thinks someone from his past has come to haunt him and anyone remotely in his sphere. He and Carrie investigate allowing each to reveal to the other their desires and fears, but both ponder whether they can take their attraction to the next level.

The first Seaside mystery is an exciting thriller starring two wounded warriors attracted to one another as an external threat breaks down their barriers. Carrie and Greg are terrific characters as each has to come to grips with their respective pasts including their anger at God though more so Greg as Carrie has used distance from her mom to forgive her mom but Lindsay hugs their mom. With a strong mystery and a deep character study, fans will appreciate Gayle Ropers engaging return to Seaside, New Jersey; the setting of the Seaside Seasons series (see Spring Rain).

Restless In Carolina
Tamara Leigh
9781601421685, $14.99

Thirtyish widow Bridget Pickwick-Buchanan lost her husband Bart four years ago, but has failed to move past the depression phase of the Five Stages of Grief. Overhearing their parents discuss their sad Aunt Bridge, her five years old nephew Miles and niece Birdie want to be "weally happy" beyond just being a tree hugger. Bridget kind of agrees, but first needs to sell the family's luxurious North Carolina estate that contains an incredible mansion in the midst of hundreds of acres of forest as she and her relatives can no longer maintain the property.

She hopes to find someone who will leave the green in the forest, but has doubts she will achieve that sub-goal. Bridget targets Atlanta based green energy guru J. C. Dirk for purchasing her family acreage. However, he ignores her calls. Bridget visits him at his office, which angers Dirk until she tells him her family name. He drops everything in Georgia to go with her to the Tar Heel State. As the green developer and the green owner fall in love, J.C. knows he owes her the truth, but fears it will break both their hearts.

Restless In Carolina is a fascinating family drama as the grieving Bridget cannot even read the happily ever after of endings to fairy tales to her beloved nephew and niece. Her sister Bonnie makes a case that grief is customized but "contagious" since the depressed individual tends to make everyone in their circle depressed while being angry with God is okay but trusting in God is even more okay. Though the kids are too precocious, fans will relish Tamara Leigh's powerful tale summed up by Birdie when she understands her Aunt Bridge suffers from a "constipated heart".

John Lutz
Pinnacle Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9780786020270, $7.99,

Millie Graff comes home only to find a man inside. This psychopath tortured her for hours before killing her. New York City Police Commissioner Harley Renz takes Frank Quinn of Quinn and Associates to the crime scene. When Quinn sees the victim he becomes irate as he knows her. When Millie was eight she was trapped inside a car about to explode, but Quinn rescued her. Both the Commissioner and Quinn believe a serial killer has just started his gruesome obsession.

After three more murders with the same M.O. the media dubs the serial killer the Skinner because he peels off layers of epidermis from his victims while they are alive. The females have a male's name written in the bathroom. A good investigation discovers that the names match males who belong to an S&M club that closed years ago. That lead turns into a red herring when Quinn learns the victims testified against the men they thought raped them. DNA proved none were guilty and all were released from prison. The Skinner was accused of rape and intends to kill his accuser; his previous homicides are diabolically planned to hide a tree in the forest. Quinn learns the Skinner works alone except for one murder.

John Lutz provides a strong twisting investigative serial killer starring a brilliant twister predator and a determined hero trying to end the perpetrator's reign of terror. The villain tosses red herrings at his antagonist (and readers), which adds to the suspense. Fans anticipate a showdown between the evil Skinner who knows right from wrong yet acts as an evil demon who doe not care about collateral damage Quinn who has personalized the chase as an avenging angel.

Threat Warning
John Gilstrap
9780786024926, $7.99

Jonathan Grave owns a security firm whose mission is the rescue of hostages around the globe. In rush hour on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge two predators open fire killing many people on the bridge. Jonathan kills one of these mass murderers and is about to take down the second when an over zealous secret service agent arrests him. The FBI gets Jonathan released.

On that bridge Good Samaritan Christyne Nasbe, ignoring her son Ryan's advice, allows a woman into her car to help her get away from the violence. The woman abducts the pair taking them to the Army of God. They keep the mother and son as hostages and place on the ne pictures of them with Ryan injured. The victims are the wife and son of Jonathan's friend Boomer from when he served in the Unit. His former Commander asks him to rescue the family. Jon and his crew trace the terrorists to an isolated compound in West Virginia where the killers plan to execute their captives. The Grave team prevents the murders but is trapped by the cult members inside the compound. Jon also knows if they escape alive his mission is not over as he must stop an assassination of a prominent person.

John Gilstrap demonstrates why he is one of the best thriller writers with this action packed tale that soars from the opening bridge scene and never slows down to allow the hero a respite except overnight in a DC prison holding cell. Although Jonathan is on the surface a standard implausible thriller hero, readers will enjoy his actions as he rejects the law being in cement especially by those who conveniently flaunt it as killers or officials. With a late twist involving his partner setting up the next conflict, readers will relish Threat warning and look forward to more Digger Grave tales (see No Mercy and Hostage Zero).

Blood Secrets
Jeannie Holmes
Bantam Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780553592689, $7.99,

In Jefferson, Mississippi Federal Bureau of Preternatural Investigation (FBPI) field agent Alexandra Sabian is placed on suspension (See Blood Law) for her handling of a vampire murder investigation. While the Tribunal makes inquiries into the matter, her former lover FBPI Special Operations chief Varik Baudelaire returns her to active duty because he needs her expertise since gruesome evidence points to the return of the serial killing Dollmaker in his search for a missing college student.

Someone hates Varik who once belonged to this person. By extrapolation this individual also loathes Alex. Someone else is being blackmailed as the agency's probe into Alex's activity seems prejudiced. Neither FBPI operative realizes the Dollmaker's latest obsession is Alex.

This is a super dark police procedural urban fantasy starring a strong lead pair and a powerful support cast; several are adversarial to the sleuths. Alex continues her quest to learn what happened to her father in 1968 but runs into bureaucratic roadblocks as that is just one more thread going wrong in her life after she made the Blood Law decisions in the previous thriller. Jeannie Holmes provides a grim tale as the FBPI agents deal with a nasty serial killer and internal affairs and betrayals as well as their own attraction.

Taken by Fire
Sydney Croft
9780385342292, $15.00

Agency of Covert Operations (ARCO) operative Stryker Wills watched in helpless horror the ice-blooded fire-starter Phoebe Milan kill his friend Akbar. He vowed to avenge Akbar's murder by killing this cold ruthless pyro-kinetic psychopath.

Stryker catches up with the predator, but realizes something is wrong. The woman is not the evil flamethrower, but instead her sister Melanie the ice maker. To his chagrin the ARCO agent is attracted to Melanie. However, he soon learns due to genetic reengineering, the siblings share the same body, but control different brain parts with evil Phoebe as the dominant one mostly running the show until now. Passive Melanie takes charge as love battles hate for control of their host body while Stryker needs the sister who has his back instead of the one stabbing his back as they save the world.

This is an incredibly inventive finish to the ACRO science fiction saga as the multiple subplots will keep readers wondering what next. Fast-paced and loaded with action, the strange triangle makes for a powerful thriller. The hero wants to save one sibling while killing the other; and his superiors and peers demand he assassinate both to insure fire does not overwhelm ice as it has frequently done and argue besides inertia means guilt by tacit association. Sydney Croft writes a brilliant ending to one of the best series in recent years.

The Definition of Wind
Ellen Block
9780440245766, $15.00

The house fire in Boston left the lexicographer in intensive care while her husband and their four year old child died in the blaze. Thirtyish Abigail Harker relocated to North Carolina barrier island Chapel Isle where her late spouse spent many enjoyable summers growing up as the lighthouse caretaker (see The Language of Sand).

Eventually feeling welcomed by the islanders, Abby still struggles with her grief as summer and tourism arrive. Abby's landlord asks her to act as a go between with renters, which she reluctantly agrees to do. The widow soon finds herself searching for hidden sea treasure of goldsmith Paul Revere on the sunken Bishop's Mistress that delights the lexicographer and an arsonist setting fires who frightens her. Finally there is Nat who she distrusts yet is attracted to him even as she feels guilt.

This entertaining islander contemporary focuses on Abby and her relationships with locals, tourists and a treasure hunter. The story line is super when the concentration is on the wonderful fully developed cast. The treasure hunt cleverly brings out the avarice gold fever in those who normally are unselfish but a touch of the paranormal enhanced by the Tim drama detracts from an otherwise strong character study.

What's Yours Is Mine: A Novel About Sisters Who Share Just a Little Too Much
Tess Stimson
9780553386127, $15.00

Thanks to her sister Susannah's destructive behavior, Grace feared pregnancy. However, in her thirties, she suddenly hears her biological clock ticking away. She and her husband Tom decide to have a child. Fourteen months later and a cost of a ton of pounds, Dr. Janus informs Grace she can never conceive. Because of Tom's heart defect, adoption is also out. Strategic thinker Grace plots her next child campaign even as she almost abducts a baby.

In America, Homeland Security informs Susannah that she will be sent back to Great Britain. Between ex husbands, alcohol, drugs, and sex with anyone even when she was married, Susannah knows arguing is futile. When their mother Catherine suffers a debilitating stroke that leaves her comatose, Grace demands Susannah come home, which she does. In Oxfordshire, Susannah becomes a surrogate mother for her sister, but though pregnant she still drinks and sleeps with everyone. As she tries clean up, Grace and Tom head to divorce court with custody becoming an issue.

This is an interesting look at two sisters whose lifestyles are dramatically different yet in many ways the same as each tends towards obsessiveness bordering on destructive compulsion. Numerous medical crises become a gimmicky conflict resolution technique that severely detracts from the family drama as does a bit of whimsy involving their mom. Still fans will wonder how much is too much sharing between sisters.

Acceptable Loss
Anne Perry
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780345510600, $26.00,

After years as an inquiry agent, William Monk is once again a police officer in charge of the Thames River Police at Wapping on the London docks. At night, boats containing children as cargo sail the river to satisfy the perversion of the affluent. Unknown to the pedophiles is that they are being photographed so that their supplier can blackmail them.

Monk believes that the pimp of one of the boats that is found floating in the river was murdered due to a disagreement; as was another one a few months earlier. A nothing crook Mickey Parfitt was strangled to death by an expensive silk cravat used as a garrote. The scarf belongs to Polite Society member Rupert Cardew who denies murdering Parfitt even though he admits to participating in activities on the boat. The cop believes the man lacks the brains to run this operation. He follows clues that lead to an arrest of a highly regarded member of society. Monk's friend, attorney Oliver Rathbone, believes the suspect might be guilty though he defends him to the best of his ability.

Though the protagonist is back on the force, the latest Monk historical mystery once again affirms the Victorian Era class distinctions between the classes when it comes to crime and punishment; as the law is sold when it comes to the wealthy aristocracy and brutal to the middle class and the poor. Anne Perry uses strong characterizations to make her late nineteenth century argument that justice is for sale. However, this is Monk's case as he is a hound on the scent of the killer allowing nothing to intrude, not even his wife, until the case is closed.

The Angel In My Arms
Stefanie Sloane
9780345517401, $7.99

In 1811 the injured Earl Marcus MacInnes is unhappy with his current Young Corinthians assignment in rustic Dorset near his home as he knows the locals detest his family with good cause. He is to investigate smuggling activity, but not by locals; instead there is evidence that Napoleonic agents are at work.

Marcus meets Sarah Elizabeth Tisdale, a klutzy daughter of the baron. He thinks her family is in cahoots with the dangerous smugglers so he keeps an eye on her, which even in male garb he finds appealing. Soon his inquiry grows deadlier as he deals with homicides, a kidnapping and stolen emeralds as traitors are involved; but it is his heart that he has lost to Sarah that has him concerned.

The latest Regency Rogues Young Corinthian romantic suspense (see The Devil in Disguise) is a fun historical starring a fabulous lead couple and an engaging support cast. The investigation and romance are engaging mostly due to the improbable over the top of Lewesdon Hill Sarah; who brings compassion, courage and clumsiness as she climbs into one caper after another; Marcus will have his hands full with her if he survives the mission.

The Ghost of Greenwich Village
Lorna Graham
9780345526212, $15.00

Eve Weldon left Ohio with dreams of finding traces of her late mom Penelope who lived in the Village before leaving New York to marry Gin in the Buckeye State. The newcomer rents an apartment in which the owner failed to inform her about the current occupant. Donald the ghost was part of the beat generation just like Penelope; he like her died young, but the late writer remains in his apartment that he shares with Eve.

Eve is euphoric when she obtains a script writing job for Smell the Coffee morning show. She soon understands that her position is in the ooze underneath the hierarchal ladder. Still she charms legendary designer Matthias Klieg, a colleague of Donald, who fell in love with the same woman. Eve is unsure whey she conceals from her roommate her mentee relationship with Matthias. Donald persuades Eve to help him complete his experimental stories that he is dying to see published.

This is a charming coming of age paranormal drama. The story line is character driven by the Buckeye, the ghost, the elderly designer, and their woman. Although Eve appears too naive of a country bumpkin (in the age of social media) readers will enjoy her mentoring in the arts with nostalgia for New York circa 1950s-1960s.

Burnt Mountain
Anne Rivers Siddons
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446527897, $25.99,

In Atlanta, seventeen year old Thayer Wentworth is pregnant, but prenatal tests show that her unborn is severely malformed. Though she is heartbroken, she chooses an abortion. Thayer goes on to college where she meets and is attracted to extroverted storyteller Dr. Aengus O'Neill. They marry.

When Thayer's affluent grandmother dies, she inherits her incredible Atlanta home not far from Burnt Mountain's Camp Edgewood where her father died in a car accident. She and Aengus take up residence in the luxurious mansion. However, he begins to recall upsetting memories from his childhood in Ireland that disturbs Thayer who fears her husband is losing his mind. At the same time she looks into has past at her mom and her first love Nick Abrams who broke her heart at Camp Sherwood Forest in North Carolina.

Burnt Mountain is an entertaining southern drama that fans of the author will enjoy. Thayer is an intriguing individual facing relationship issues. The story line is at its best when the focus is entirely on the heroine's inner turmoil although too many subplots are left dangling. Still she has decisions to make even if happenchance assists her on the most critical. Although not Anne Rivers Siddons's best work, readers will still appreciate touring the North Carolina Mountains with Thayer as their guide.

Off The Chain
Candice Dow
Grand Central
9780446179539, $14.99

As an undergraduate at Georgetown, London Reed developed her theory of relationships that is based on men like petting and praise as much as dogs do. London planned to attend veterinary school after graduation, but that failed to happen. Instead she becomes a dog walker with a college debt rivaling the Feds. Her mother believing being a canine companion is beneath her daughter and arranges for London to obtain a position working for Quinn Forester Senior Investment Banker William Thorne.

However, her admin position at Quinn Forester ends due to budget cuts. Instead Thorne offers a chance to make real money in the high end call-girl service that he and his wife have run lucratively for a decade and a half. He trains her and she makes quite a bit of cash for two hours with her first client the "King". As London becomes a woman of choice, Thorne selects her to keep the business running when his spouse becomes deathly ill. Someone sells the sex story to a magazine that leads the FBI to the DC Madam London who has a choice tell all for five years of probation or plead client confidentiality and go to jail. Until her kennel burns, London is unaware of the second order effect of confession as an adversary wants her dead.

This is an entertaining look at the high priced DC call girl business. London is a terrific protagonist who along with her Johns keeps the story line focused on the activities of a woman of pleasure. Although a late happening feels contrite but thankfully dangling (like some of the protagonist's customers), readers will appreciate the dog walker servicing the affluent on and Off the Chain.

Money Can't Buy Love
Connie Briscoe
Grand Central
9780446534840, $24.99

Baltimore Scene magazine photographer Lenora Stone feels like a failure in her personal life especially when she takes pictures of the city's upper crust, which she wants to join. Instead she is living pay check to pay check pushing off bills due in a condo not much bigger than a closet. Her boyfriend Gerald refuses to move their relationship to a more intimate level and her boss Dawna is on her case to do more starting with her shoot of Ray the landscaper.

Although Lenora knows Dawna meant pictures, she wants to do more personally with the hunk. When Lenora wins $5 million in the Maryland lottery, she believes her luck has changed and she will be the one in the photos. Gerald asks her to marry her and Lenora has an affair with Ray. However, she runs through her winnings in rapid time as she buys a mansion and opens a studio as well as other high-priced luxurious items. While her long time friends worry about Lenora's changes, she kicks them to the curb seeking the rich and famous.

Although the plot is thin, readers will enjoy Connie Briscoe's morality tale of a woman who learns the hard way that money cannot buy happiness if one allows the glitter of gold to dump one's self worth values. Fans will dislike Lenora yet the talent of Ms. Briscoe is by the end, we will roots for the protagonist to discard her greed and regain her self worth. Mindful of pro athletes, fans will agree that Money Can't Buy Love, but also realize micro economics is a key factor in self esteem and long time relationships.

Jeff Abbott
Grand Central
9780446575171, $24.99

In London terrorists bomb the CIA headquarters; twenty people die in the attack. British and American authorities conclude that CIA operative seven months pregnant Lucy Capra was instrumental in aiding the terrorists with the deadly explosion. Her vanishing accentuates their assertion.

CIA agents grab Lucy's husband Sam, also an operative. They assume he abetted his wife as he left the building after a call from her and just prior to the explosion; making him the lone survivor of the mass murders. His colleagues torture him to force him to reveal the truth to them. Throughout his ordeal and in spite of the contrary damning evidence starting with Lucy's warning call, Sam believes she is innocent. He escapes his captors and begins the quest to find his wife and their son who he assumes has been born since his Lucy disappeared.

Although somewhat linear, this gripping thriller hooks the audience from the opening famous last words to the confrontation. Fast-paced and loaded with action without a respite, sub-genre fans will relish joining beleaguered obsessed hero Sam on his odyssey as he learns the hard way how deep the tentacles of the enemy is.

The Guilty Plea
Robert Rotenberg
Sarah Crichton
c/o Farrar, Straus & Giroux
18 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011
9780374278496, $26.00,

In Toronto, the murdered corpse of Terrance Wyler is found in his kitchen. The police suspect the victim's wife Samantha stabbed the Wyler Foods owner as they were contesting a public acrimonious divorce and she sent her spouse a threatening email just before he was killed. TPD homicide detective widower Ari Greene, father of two teens, leads the shocking investigation made more stunning when he finds the estranged couple's four years old child Simon asleep at the crime scene house.

While Samantha visits her defense attorney Ted DiPaulo, Greene questions the child who admits his mom visited him earlier in the evening to say goodbye to him as she would not see him for a while. Former Crown attorney Jennifer Raglan leads the prosecution, which means contact with her former lover Greene.

The second Ari Greene investigative-legal thriller (see Old City Hall) is an entertaining tale as the courtroom drama is filled with twists with seemingly everyone purging themselves. The story line is at its best when the focus is the case. However, the personal tsuris, a sub-genre requirement to humanize key cast, at times overwhelms the main theme of whether Samantha murdered her husband in a fit of passionate ire. Still readers will enjoy Greene's investigation and the legal battle between DiPaulo and Raglan.

Arne Dahl
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780375425356, $25.95,

Swedish Police Detective Paul Hjelm knows he would do nothing different as he expedited successfully a hostage situation that Internal Affairs is investigating. However, instead of being fired as he expects, Hjelm is reassigned to what is called the A Team, a new unit of the best of the best. Their mission is to find a serial killer who executes targeted businessmen in their respective homes with two bullets through the head before removing the shells from a wall while listening to Thelonius Monk's Misterioso.

With the psychopath on a two day cycle, the A Team needs to find this predator. They connect dots between the victims and start focusing in on secret societies that seem to be the link of those "The Power Killer" assassinates. Hjelm, whose family life is shaky even before he worked 24/7 on this case, admires his colleagues like Jorge Chavez and pretty Kerstin Holm.

This exciting Swedish police procedural is fun to follow starting with the IA interrogation over shooting the Albanian immigrant from Kosovo holding hostages to avoid deportation and never slows down as Hjelm joins the A Team to capture the Power Killer. Readers will be fascinated by the serial killer who plays Monk's Misterioso while committing the execution style homicides. Still Hjelm holds the story line together as a dedicated cop who has family so that readers find him realistic and appealing.

The Inspector and Silence
Hakan Nesser; Laurie Thompson (Translator)
9780375425233, $24.95

Between the Swedish summer heat, the workload, and his feeling he suffers from PTSD, Chief Inspector Van Veeteren considers strongly about retiring. He figures he deserves a vacation as he has kept putting it off and will decide when he comes back whether to submit his papers.

However, someone rapes and murders a young girl in the woods near the Pure Life sect encampment. Van Veeteren leads the investigation. When he and his team meet the charismatic leader of Pure Life, Oscar Yellinek; Van Veeteren thinks the man is pure evil and guilty but has no proof. The cops find the total silence of the members disturbing as no one utters a word and via passive resistance refuse to cooperate except an anonymous woman who keeps giving him tips while violent homicides occur.

The latest Swedish Inspector Van Veeteren police procedural (see Mind's Eye and Woman with a Birthmark) is an entertaining bleak murder investigation. The protagonist's fears he is over the edge when it comes to killers as he considers retirement. His doubts enhance the whodunit as Van Veeteren desperately wants to deliver swift justice instead of keeping predatory monsters safe until the courts to do their job. Although too much time is spent on Swedish food and other minor sidebars, fans of Scandinavian Noir will enjoy Van Veeteren's dark frustration with legal justice being at a snail's pace.

The Dog Who Came in from the Cold
Alexander McCall Smith
9780307379733, $24.95

In Pimlico, London wine merchant William French is shocked when an old acquaintance Angelica Brockelbank, whom he has not seen in years, arrives at his home Corduroy Mansions. She shocks him further when she explains she no longer manages a bookstore, but instead works for MI6. Her colleague needs a recruit to spy on the Russian spy ring. However, they just want French to escort his terrier, Freddie de la Hay to and from the job.

Other residents of Corduroy Mansions are dealing with issues too. New Age gurus believe that the estate of Terence Moongrove is the cosmological center. Literary agent Barbara Ragg is pushing publication of her book Autobiography of a Yeti that she insists was told to her by the title character.

The latest Corduroy Mansions satire is a lighthearted romp that lampoons the memoir/biography book publishing, skewers the homeland security espionage agents, and mocks the New Age crowd who has been around long enough to become the Old New Age crowd. While doing this through the foibles of the Corduroy Mansions' residents, Alexander McCall Smith turns Freddie into the hero as he lampoons the personification of animals without using an anthropomorphist trait. Although not as profound as The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, 44 Scotland Street or the Isabel Dalhousie series, nonetheless Mr. Smith provides an engaging slice of life in London.

A Kingdom Divided
Alex Rutherford
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312597016, $25.95,

In 1530 the Moghul Empire creator Emperor Babur dies. His twenty-three years old son Humayun is crowned the new Emperor. However, unlike his sire who was considered formidable by all, Humayun is considered weak by many in the inner circle because he is an opium addict and is a sex fiend with a vast harem though married to Hamida, and obsesses with an astrological dependency sated by his key advisor Sharaff the astrologer.

His three half-brothers (Kamrun, Askari and Hindal) unite to oppose him. Dishonoring his late father, Humayan and his army retreat from the wrath of the stronger forces of Bengal humble origin Sher Shah abetted by Kamrun the traitor. He remains in exile for years trying to regain his throne for himself and his heir Akbar until he realizes the Moghul Empire his father created for a thousand miles below Punjab is in peril.

The second Empire of the Moghul is an exciting historical thriller that continues the action from the first tale (see Raiders from the North). The story line is loaded with action especially the battle scenes and filled with a taste of life in the sixteenth century India subcontinent. Although one must wonder whether the opium warped his brain as Humayan meets the classic definition of insanity when he consistently forgives his siblings for their betrayal expecting their loyalty until the cycle repeats itself. Still fans of historical tales will enjoy team Alex Rutherford guiding readers through turbulent sixteenth century Asia.

Summer of Night
Dan Simmons
9780312550677, $15.99

In 1960 in Elm Haven, Illinois, school's out for summer, but five twelve year old boys (Duane, Mike, Dale, Kevin, Lawrence and Jim) are happy to be free though they also know there is nothing to do. When Tubby the fourth grader vanishes, the friends investigate.

Jim believes Tubby never left the Old Central School. The recently ended school year was the last at the nineteenth century edifice. He climbs a facade and peaks into a window only to see a teacher who died six months ago. Shocked Jim falls breaking his arm.

Brothers Dale and Lawrence feel something dark hides in their closet. Their scornful mom looks, but the closet is empty. The monster moved under a bed. Dale enters the flooded the cellar finding Tubby's corpse floating there.

Duane researches old newspapers and finds a story about a Borgia Bell brought from Italy that allegedly had supernatural properties; it was placed in the Old Central School six decades ago. In a cornfield, a truck tries to run over Duane. His Uncle Art was about to provide information to the boys only he dies in a car cash while driving over a 100 MPH. Ghosts and other creatures attack the boys and their ally Cordie; as they conclude only destroying the Old School will save their lives.

This is a reprint of a 1992 horror thriller in which the kids recognize the danger while the adults snooze through life ignoring the warnings as children being children. The cast is solid as the gang of five and their female peer know the Old Central School hosts strange teachers, staff and activities. Summer of Night is an enjoyable throwback bumps in the night (and day) tale.

The Magdalena Curse
F. G. Cottam
9780312643256, $25.99

Ten yearsold Adam Hunter suffers terrible nightmares and can speak in languages that he never heard or studied but only for short bursts. His worried father Mark takes Adam to Dr. Elizabeth Bancroft. She is amazed when her patient speaks Russian, but Mark explains he will forget the language in a few hours.

Mark explains that his son's illness was caused when he and his special operations team were in Bolivia on a mission. They ran into sorceress Mrs. Mallory, who killed the unit except for him but also cursed his offspring. Elizabeth believes Adam is possessed and will try to help the child. At the same Mark leaves his offspring with her, he heads from Scotland to South America believing the death of Mrs. Mallory is the only chance he has to save his child. Her patient's plight forces Elizabeth to accept her inherited sorcery skills that she purposely ignored.

This is a super supernatural horror thriller that grips readers from the beginning when they along with Elizabeth learn what ails the tweener. The story line is fast-paced, but character driven by the beleaguered son, the harried father, the dedicated doctor, and the evil sorceress. One of the most vile antagonists in years, malevolent Mrs. Mallory somewhat steals the show as the audience anticipates a confrontation between her and either or both (readers will keep changing who we expect to represent good) the parent and the shrink.

Autumn: Purification
David Moody
9780312569990, $14.99

It took under 24 hours for the germ or whatever it was to kill 99% of the world population. However, those who died did not stay dead but arose to move around aimlessly. The only time they stopped meandering was when they found human who were immune to the disease. People banded together in communities as a means of staying alive because isolation meant vicious death dealt by these undead. One pocket found an underground lab in a bunker in as their haven. Hiding is the only way to prevent these creatures from decimating what is left of mankind.

The British army keeps the living separated just in case any are contagion carriers like a Typhoid Mary. The undead are unable to reach humans in the facility until thousands arrive blocking the air ducts leading from the outside. Those trying to fix the problem fail as the corpses overrun the facility forcing the survivors to flee. They meet Richard, a helicopter pilot, who flies them to an airfield where they take shelter. On the isolated Island of Cormansey, the survivors kill the undead making the place habitable. The cadavers know people are in the airfield building and there is no way to fly to the island.

The undead are killers tearing apart live flesh, but are not cannibalistic zombies. Each character has a story to tell in the naked city that has become London, but the poignant tale is that of Michael and Emma who met and fell in love after the apocalypse destroyed civilization as we know it. The story line is fast-paced as the undead keep on coming while humans try to remain a step (make that a kilometer) ahead of them. Fans will enjoy David Moody's third the Autumn mankind horror thriller (see Autumn and Autumn the City) as those undead survivors are beginning to learn how to use their senses.

Heat Waves
Susan Lyons
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425241240, $15.00,

Liz and Peter can't think of a more fun place to get married than the Greek Islands, so they've rounded up a small group of family and friends and board the Aphrodite for an unforgettable wedding.

"Rock the Boat." Wedding planner Gwen Austin is working the wedding of Liz Tippett and Peter Kirk on the Aphrodite touring the Greek Isles. However, she is unhappy with learning the Aphrodite cruise director she expected to work with has been replaced by a stranger Santos Michaelides. He is attracted to her and tells her the truth that he is an undercover insurance fraud investigator trying to catch a wedding guest who stole $5 million. They begin a sea cruise tryst.

"Making Waves." Prosecutor Kendra Kirk has joined her family on the Aphrodite for the wedding. She is shocked to find information technology expert Flynn Kavanaugh on board as the authorities tried him for a $5 million theft but lost. Flynn insists to Kendra he is innocent and the thief is on board. They begin a sea cruise tryst until he obtains information that will dissolve Kendra's beliefs.

This anthology contains two interrelated novellas starring two lead couples and a Love Boat of support. The romances are top rate, but it is the stolen money that provides the spice to a strong romantic suspense with a terrific late unexpected twist.

Vampire Instinct
Joey W. Hill
9780425241264, $15.00

In 1954 Elisa loves Willis as both are volunteer blood sources for vampires until Victor killed the latter and bit the former. Elisa's mistress Lady Daniela directs her to escort the eight feral new vampires changed by the previous dead master but she finds them wildly out of control. Instead of an execution as normally done Elisa will escort them to Malachi who owes Lady Danny a favor. However one kills herself in a blood frenzy and Lady Danny kills another.

Native American vampire Malachi reluctantly mentors the remaining six wild cats who he believes should have been executed. He struggles to train the wild pups to control their urges but also helps Elisa heal from her attack. To his shock, she gets the mystic to open up his soul to her.

This is a great urban fantasy romance as the cast is fully developed and the poignant story line filled with plenty of action including erotic scenes that enhance the relationships. Readers will relish the trysts, but also wonder who if any of the six pups will survive the grueling transformation. Joey W. Hill writes a super angst-laden Vampire Queen thriller (see The Vampire Queen's Servant).

The Surrender of Lady Jane
Marissa Day
9780425241257, $15.00

Hundreds of years ago, the faery Queen Tatiana rescued injured sailor Thomas Lynne. She made him a knight in her court and occasional lover. Her magic keeps him young and alive so he does whatever she asks of him.

Tatiana orders him to seduce Jane, an innocent human attendant to the pregnant Duchess of Kent. His actions will enable her and the fae to enter Kensington Palace where Tatiana plans to kidnap the infant when she is born. That baby is prophesized to become the Queen of England who will lead the mortals in defeating the fae for eternity. Thomas looks forward to his assignment until he falls in love with Lady Jane. If he betrays his queen, he literally will die; if he betrays his beloved, he will die of a broken heart anyway.

The Surrender of Lady Jane is an engaging paranormal historical romantic fantasy starring a wonderful heroine and a divided lead male. The story line is anchored nicely in time and place with references to real persona, which in turn insures the fae become a real threat to the court of England. Although a deeper look into Thomas' past especially his ties to Tatiana would have explained his motives and doubts about where his loyalty lies, fans will enjoy this entertaining tale.

Heart of Evil
Heather Graham
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778329985, $7.99,

Civil War buffs love the Donegal Plantation in the Louisiana Bayou. Reenactments further enhance the site as a popular attraction. However, rumors abound that Donegal Planation is also home to ghosts, which increase the high regard by people wanting to come to the estate.

During an enactment, actor Charles Osgood goes missing. The search for him fails to find him so Plantation manager Ashley Donegal informs parish police officer Drew Montague who scorns her for her concern. The next day Ashley finds Charles' murdered body reenacting a Civil War scene. Upset with the death and fearing more to follow Ashley vows to prevent any more killings. Her late ancestor provides her with clues. Also helping her solve the case is her ex-lover, Jake Mallory and his paranormal forensics team including Jackson Crow as each wonders if the killer is living or otherwise.

The latest Krewe of Hunters (see Phantom Evil) is a dark haunting paranormal thriller that grips the audience once the large cast is set. The story line is atmospherically spooky as only Heather Graham consistently does in the Bayou. The war between the dead and their descendants grips the enthralled readers as Heart of Evil makes for a taut otherworldly investigative mystery with a secondary romantic subplot enhancing the superb supernatural suspense.

The Dark Enquiry
Deanna Raybourn
9780778312376, $14.95

After taking the Dark Road to Darjeeling, Nicholas Brisbane and Lady Julia Grey marry in London. Whereas she wants to be his detecting partner, he wants her safe. However, he knows he must walk carefully or his brave wife will hang up a detective shingle of her own.

Julia's prim and proper sibling Lord Bellmont hires his new brother-in-law to help him with a mess that he demands a pledge of silence from Nicholas. Julia knows her sibling is in trouble and will not sit on the sidelines. The inquiry leads to Madame Seraphine at the Ghost Club and from there into the newspapers. As the newlyweds argue over Lady Julia's role, the Brisbane pair and their client are in trouble as someone begins to kill to keep a dark secret hidden.

The latest Lady Grey now Brisbane late Victorian mystery (see Silent in the Sanctuary, Silent on the Moor) is a fascinating tale that breaks gender lines for that time and place. The story line starts a bit slow as the heroine pontificates, but once her brother seeks assistance, the plot accelerates into a fast-paced action-packed historical thriller as the case turns deadly. Readers will enjoy the merging of detecting properly as the two sleuths in love work on their dysfunctional professional relationship which impacts their personal relationship.

Guilty as Sin
Joseph Teller
9780778312338, $7.99

In the 1980s, starting as a teenager Alonzo Barnett was a repeat offender until he finally went straight. However, recently he was busted by the cops for allegedly selling drugs. Three lawyers defend him but each quits.

The court assigns attorney Harrison J. Walker as Barnett's latest public defender. Harrison J. Walker realizes quickly the evidence is overwhelming as his client is guilty. However, Jaywalker wonders why the District Attorney has pulled out the biggest guns on a relatively minor case. As Jaywalker digs deeper, he finds strange ties to the FBI and crimes much worse than a simple drug bust. However, he also uncovers the real ethical dilemma of the case which goes back to Barnett's time behind bars.

The fifth Jaywalker legal thriller (see Overkill, Bronx Justice and The Tenth Case) is as always an insightful exhilarating case as the heroic always in contempt lawyer takes on the sure loser hoping he is Buster Douglas. This time Jaywalker works on a defense for a kindhearted client who openly confesses he did the crime. Told mostly in flashbacks, fans will enjoy Jaywalker's courtroom antics as he uses the dysfunctional jurisprudence system's myopia to make a case for a not guilty verdict.

Anne Stuart
9780778312970, $7.99

In 1842 to Polite Society, Viscount Benedick Rohan is cold and cynical. However, he hides from the Ton how much the death of his two wives has impacted his soul. Benedick knows he needs another spouse to birth the heir and spare, but will choose one that cannot bring out his passionate need; he will go elsewhere to satiate his desires. Thus he seeks a "biddable bride".

Widow Lady Melisande "Charity" Carstairs helps soiled doves start over. When she learns Rohan's younger brother Brandon has resurrected the family's notorious Heavenly Host, she vehemently visits Benedick with demands. She insists he act as young women have recently vanished with her believing the Heavenly Host is abducting them. Benedick is shocked with how much he wants Monsoon Melisande and she is as stunned with her desire for the rakish Rohan. They team up to investigate who is behind the change to the Host from orgies to satanic rituals.

Victorian romance readers will enjoy visiting The House of Rohan (see The Wicked House of Rohan and Ruthless) as the family is known to be Shameless when it comes to seducing women. Benedick is no different except he soon finds his Charity seducing him. The entertaining story line is fast-paced as Benedict and Melisande argue, fuss and fight with her dive first into danger mentality. Still in spite of or perhaps due to the seduction war, they team up in love and their inquiry into the Heavenly Host out of concern for the innocent (Charity's motive) and his brother (Rohan's motive).

Sunset Bridge
Emilie Richards
9780778312383, $14.95

In Happiness Key, Tracy Deloche rents five seaside cottages to female tenants. Once affluent but now near broke, Tracy has never been happier as the leaser quintet has become her BFFs. She also has a hot relationship with lawyer Marsh Egan, a divorcee.

When she becomes pregnant, Tracy is shocked with her lover's reaction as he seems unable to commit to her at a moment when she needs him to do so. At the same time, her buddy Janya Kapur adopts two orphaned children whose parents were murdered. As Marsh finally realizes what is disturbing Tracy, a hurricane hammers the Keys.

The latest visit to Happiness Key (see Fortunate Harbor) is an engaging contemporary tale filled with jocularity and friendship as the sisterhood has each other's backs especially in the down times. Even Marsh recognizes the bond as he turns to the tenants to confirm his position and for backing too. Although the story line is somewhat slow-paced as Emile Richards drills deep into the psyche of her ensemble cast, fans of the saga will relish this warm relationship drama.

Brenda Novak
9780778329930, $7.99

Virgil Skinner spent fourteen years in California's Pelican Bay Maximum Security Prison for a murder he did not commit. While behind bars he joined the ruthless gang The Crew in order to survive. His former gang mates warn Skinner to watch his step outside as they will come after his family if he points a finger at them.

Meanwhile California Department of Corrections needs someone to go inside undercover to penetrate the Hell's Fury gang that runs Pelican Bay and has allegedly killed officials including a judge on the outside. The authorities select Virgil who knows how to act as a convict and has the scars to prove it. Only Deputy Warden Peyton Adams objects, but is overruled. Virgil acquiesces to returning to hell only if his sister and her kids are placed in the witness protection program. As they work together, Peyton and Virgil fall for one another but both understand the mission and the risk.

This Bulletproof suspense novel is an action-packed tale that grips readers throughout the exhilarating story line. The cast is solid especially the lead protagonists. However, the key to what makes this a superb thriller is that the romance is secondary to the undercover prison scenario. Although the concept of a tough guy going undercover in a prison is not new (see Steven Seagal in Half Past Dead), none are as strong as Virgil inside hell with seemingly only administration help.

Baby, Come Home
Stephanie Bond
9780778329947, $7.99

A tornado destroyed their small town in the Georgia Mountains (see Baby, I'm Yours). However, the three Armstrong brothers want to rebuild Sweetness. The only problem with their plan for greening Sweetness is the lack of women. Thus they advertised and the youngest sibling Porter has found a woman to love (see Baby, I'm Yours).

Middle brother Kendall was praying his first and only love his former fiancee Amy Bradshaw would come home; he even advertised in the newspaper of her current town Broadway, Michigan. Civil engineer Amy left Sweetness a dozen years ago vowing never to go back as she distrusts the commitment of small-town Southern men. However, Kendall's older brother Marcus offers her a job she cannot refuse. Now it is up to Kendall to finalize the deal if he can get her to cross the bridge that keeps them apart, but she comes with an unexpected bonus.

The second Southern Roads contemporary romance is a fun amusing tale with the underlying message that home is not a where but whom the heart is most confortable with. Kendall and Amy are likable antagonists as he desperately wants a second chance with her while she avoids small town Southern men as if they are a disease. Although the story line is somewhat linear, fans will enjoy driving the mountain roads of Georgia as Kendall tries to persuade Amy to make a home with him.

Spirit of Seduction
Olivia Quincy
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451233332, $15.99,

When she was a child, Zoe Bell spent two weeks each summer in the shadows of Chapin House on Chapin Point in Danmouth overlooking Cape Cod Bay. As an adult, due to her successful business ventures on Amazon Zoe can afford to buy Chapin House. Thinking the Cape Cod abode might be the impetus to drive her boyfriend Sam Stafford and her to the next level in their relationship and always dreaming of owning the place, Zoe impetuously buys it.

The purchase works the opposite of what Zoe intended as it becomes a pointed wedge issue between her and Sam who loathes the slow pace of the island compared with his Manhattan lifestyle where he still works while she remains on the Cape for the summer. Meanwhile Zoe becomes aware that Chapin House has a resident of sorts in Robert Chapin. When a homicide of her cantankerous fiftyish neighbor Curtis Nickerson occurs, State Police Detective Andrew DuBois suspects Zoe as much as the ex wife and other locals as the killer; even as she and Ethan, the nephew of the victim, fall in love.

This is an engaging paranormal mystery that is at its best when the focus is on the lead protagonist Zoe. The ensemble support cast includes unnecessary sexual coupling that detracts from prime twin subplots of who killed Nickerson and Zoe's troubling relationships with Sam, Robert and Ethan. Still, sub-genre readers will enjoy Zoe's summer of discontent when she learns the hard way that you can't go home.

Cold Touch
Leslie Parrish
9780451233004, $7.99

Twelve years ago, tweener Jack informs fifteen year old Olivia Wainwright the man was going to kill her after he receives the ransom from her parents. He drowns her, but, Jack who condemned her to die brought her back to life. Her return to the living gave her a unique skill of seeing and hearing the death of people she touches.

Following an arson burning down Fast Eddie's Savannah bar, bones are found in a wall. Now an eXtreme Investigator Olivia realizes this is the remains of the young Jack who saved her life from a psychopath who she believes kidnapped both of them. One touch and she will see the lunatic. Skeptical Homicide Detective Gabe Cooper wants the killer of the child found so he takes a chance on Olivia's alleged paranormal abilities. However, as he begins to fall in love with her and knows other kids are at risk, the cop fears for the psychic's life from this insane predator and from her emotional turmoil that is driving her over the edge.

The second Extrasensory Agents romantic suspense (see Cold Sight) is a great thriller that hooks the reader from the onset with the Olivia abduction and never slows down until the final confrontation. The romance is cleverly used to enhance the emotional turmoil of the lead couple while the super investigation remains the prime focus of the story line. With stunning twists, strong lead couple and a predatory psychopath, readers will enjoy Leslie Parrish's powerful paranormal police procedural.

Viper Moon
Lee Roland
9780451233769, $7.99

Residents of Duivel, Missouri know to avoid the dangerous Barrows District. That mostly barren area except for malevolent human and inhuman beasts serves as a magical prison created by the Earth Mother to contain the evil Darkness.

Huntress Cassandra Archer is a field agent of the Earth Mother. She rescues children from the evils that dwell in the caverns of the Barrows. Duivel Police Detective Flynn and mob boss Carlos Dacardi do not believe in magic, Earth mother, or the Darkness. However, the cop's thirteen year old sister Selene and the gangster's thirteen years old son Richard have been abducted from the Mall and take into the Barrows. Although each has plenty of firepower to raid the Barrows, only the Huntress can save their young relatives; she knows the stake is much greater as a sacrificial ritual under a Viper Moon could destroy Duivel.

The opening act of the Dark Huntress small town fantasy is a terrific dark thriller that establishes the Roland realm as a place to be for sub-genre fans. Even before the reader accompanies Cass into The Barrows, the story line sets the darkness of this zone as Tweeners are abducted by some nasty not all human monsters. The story line is action-packed from the moment Flynn and then Carlos plead with the Huntress to rescue their kin although her mission proves even more significant than saving two youngsters. With a touch of romance kept mostly in the background, Viper Moon is a winner.

The Devilish Montague
Patricia Rice
9780451234056, $7.99

Still recovering from war injuries suffered on the Peninsular, Lord Blake Montague applies for a position as a cryptologist in the War Office, but is rejected. Instead War Secretary Lord Castlereagh advises Blake to marry wealth as his family cannot afford to waste money on the spare to buy his colors; only a moneyed bride could as the stunned Blake sarcastically states: "I should marry to save England?"

Blake meets Miss Jocelyn Byrd-Carrington and the prince of profanity Percy the Parrot who she just bird-napped from the Duke of Fortham. She explains to Blake Percy belongs to her brother Richard so she is justified in rescuing the foul mouthed fowl. Meanwhile, Blake finds life with Jocelyn, her family and the animal kingdom invigorating though life changing. However, a series of accidents has Blake conclude someone has tried to kill him. With Richard, French cursing Percy and the parrot's soul mate assisting him, Blake breaks a secret code in which he realizes his country is in peril from inside and out.

The second Rebellious Sons Regency romance (see The Wicked Wyckerly) is an amusing marriage of convenience twisted tale. The jocular story line is fun as the extended Bird-Carrington brood (pets are included) is a Regency version of You can't take it With You as Blake and his fowl comrades brilliantly break the French code but he struggles to break the code of betting on love.

One Summer
JoAnn Ross
9780451234001, $7.99

Former Marine Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist Gabriel St. James arrives in Shelter Bay as a favor to a Semper Fi besotted battle buddy Cole Douchett (see The Homecoming). When he and Harborview Veterinary Clinic veterinarian Charity Tiernan meet at the nuptials he works a mission, they are attracted to one another. However, she considers a short fling with the visiting veteran as she has no time for anything permanent while running her "no-kill" shelter.

A rolling stone, he shocks himself as he wants much more from the animal doctor than a week-night stand though he agrees to a tryst to buy time in order to campaign for more. Although Gabe completed his mission that brought him to town and his head orders him to retreat, his rebellious heart delays his leaving hoping to persuade Charity they belong together. However as kids and a dog enter their lives he lacks the courage to move to the next level while she bravely embraces the change in their relationship.

The newest Shelter Bay contemporary romance (see On Lavender Lane) is an engaging tale that hooks the audience from the time the lead couple meets as the relationships matures over the course of the well written story line. Although there is some suspense brought by the kids but for the most part the plot is character driven straighter than the Bonneville Flats yet the talent of JoAnn Ross shines as readers will enjoy visiting Shelter Bay.

Saved by her Embrace
Wayne Jordan
Harlequin Kimani Romance
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373862191, $6.25,

Sandra Walters distrusts men after she learns her boyfriend cheated on her. She dumped the rat and vowed never again to be romantically involved especially with a doctor.

In Barbados, Sandra attends the wedding of her BFF (see One Gentle Knight) and is attracted to another guest Dr. Troy Whitehall, but has vowed off physicians especially those like her ex and her father. The surgeon wants her. They share a night of lovemaking that neither will forget. He tries to persuade her to join him in round two, but she rejects another tryst. Her opinion on medical professionals remains intact that they cannot commit to anyone except their work. Troy has to find the cure to her heart, but first must break a physician rule of do not practice on yourself if he is to succeed.

This engaging Barbados romance (see Embracing the Moonlight) stars two likable lead protagonists who are attracted to one another but each has reasons that repel them from coming together. Troy likes the single life while Sandra has obsessive issues with white coats that symbolize men who don't commit. Although Sandra's anti doctor soliloquy is too frequent a refrain, fans will enjoy Troy breaking down her barriers (and his own) with love and impatience.

The Husband Lesson
Jeanie London
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717163, $5.50

In the Catskills Karan Kowalski Steinberg-Reece is unfairly convicted of a DUI by Judge "Wannabe Jenny" who loathes her due to her cheerleading in high school. Karan had one glass of Champagne but her low sugar caused her to fail the sobriety test. Rather than spend fifteen days in jail for her first offense, she does community service at New Hope of Bluestone Mountain domestic violence shelter.

Karan's former husband Dr. Charles Steinberg is irate and appalled to learn his ex wife will be doing 360 hours of court ordered community service at the shelter as he thinks she is worthless. His diligent partner Dr. Rhonda Camden agreed when approached by Police Chief Jack Sloan who in high school was dating Karan. Though unfair for a first offender, Karan knows she must let go of her ire if she is to avoid jail time. However as the former spouses battle but realizes they remain in love, Karan shocks everyone including herself when she proves a major asset to the women and children at the shelter.

The key to this entertaining second chance at love is the baggage of the lead characters. He is angry at her for dumping him while she is angry at the Judge for her unfair retaliatory (from high school) sentencing. Readers and eventually Charles will realize that Karan's flippant attitude hides her insecurities that she is only a pretty heiress with no redeeming qualities. Enhanced by a strong look at the problems of a shelter, The Husband Lesson is a wonderful contemporary.

Beyond Ordinary
Mary Sullivan
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717170, $5.50

After her friend Neil died in a biking accident, grieving Angel Donovan drops out of college to return home to Ordinary, Montana. The motorcycle she was riding ran out of gas so she was going to ignite it in honor of Neil, but the Ordinary Citizen Newspaper owner Timm Franck intercedes before she causes a wildfire in the dry heated land.

Timm wants Angel as he always has, but sees her as shallow and unable to look past his horrific burn scars to the inner man. He affirms his belief she is a loser when he learns her role in her friend Neil's death. However, he revises his opinion as he and Angel begin to see one another because like he accused her, he previously failed to get passed the shallow wild siren to the inner caring woman.

Beyond Ordinary is an engaging Big Sky romance starring two indivduals with baggage. The story line is character driven as she struggles with survivor guilt and grief and he with being a loner since the burns. Readers will enjoy the scarred reporter and the wild dropout falling in love.

Invitation to Italian
Tracy Kelleher
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717217, $5.50

University Hospital of Grantham obstetrician Dr. Julie Antonelli and the CEO cardiologist Dr. Sebastiano Fonterra disagree on care as he understands the bottom line while she focuses exclusively on the patient. Though the hospital has foreign language assistants; Julie enrolls in an adult class Italian Conversation. However, she is taken aback when the instructor is Sebastiano.

She becomes the teacher's pet as he teachers her about the importance of family and love. As they fall in love, both contain baggage that keeps them from committing. She feels survivor guilt due to a driving incident that killed her friend and he feels desertion guilt for leaving his wife after their child died. If both fail to move on, what could be a lifetime of love will never happen.

Ignoring Julie's sudden impulsive enrollment in an adult education class, Invitation to Italian is a terrific contemporary medical romance due to the strong lead couple. Each has remorse holding them back. Character driven, readers will enjoy Julie and Sebastiano trying to move on to each other while struggling to let go of the past.

The Bull Rider's Secret
Marin Thomas
Harlequin American
9780373753680, $5.25

Brody Murphy rides into Bandera, Texas as part of his escaping the tragedy of his past as a cowhand in Montana. Since his five year old girl Angel died two years ago, he roams from town to town as a wanderer who is stinky at his vocation, bull riding. He decides to enter the Hog Explosion but needs a partner for the hog-catching contest; so Brody enlists thirteen year old Ricky Sovo though neither has any experience. They succeed though the teen gets a split lip when they collide.

As they wait to learn if they are the solo winners Ricky tells Brody his single mom Katarina is a farrier and he rarely sees his dad Dwayne. After splitting their share of the winnings, Brody gives Ricky a ride to the Wild Rose Ranch where his mom is in charge of the wild horses. Unable to stay out of a dispute she was having with two cowhands (Roger and Clyde), Brody intercedes. They leave threatening Kat and Brody. She persuades him to stay and help her, but as they fall in love he wonders how long before he wanders

Brody is a refreshing individual who knows he stinks at bull riding but as Kat tells him how good does not matter as he on a suicide mission since he blames his Angel's death on his selfishness. Kat has issues as single mom who had her child as a teen and Ricky has emotional problems with knowing his dad rejected him. These three forge a family if Brody can end his rolling stone death wish.

Her Cowboy Daddy
Cathy Gillen Thacker
Harlequin American
9780373753673, $5.25

In Laramie, Texas thirty-four years old Jeb McCabe earned his notoriety when he jilted his fiancee Avalynne at the altar ten years ago. He is in Houston visiting his long time friend Cady Keilor who mysteriously asked him to see her. She informs her buddy who she has hidden her love for him for years that the Stork Agency believes they have a baby for her. Jeb agrees to accompany Cady to meet the teen mom Tina.

Her sister Suki and her brother-in-law Herman are going to Australia on a film project. Cady will watch her three nephews all under five years old for two weeks. He has doubts she can do it and she ends up betting him he could not last a week with them. As Dalton, Finn and Micah run wild with only Jeb able to keep them in line, the cowboy realizes he loves Cady.

This is a warm Texas romance with a strong support cast (especially three rambunctious boys) and two wonderful lead characters. The story line is fun as Jeb realizes he is in love, but needs to reveal the truth about what really happened a decade ago. Readers will appreciate this fine drama as good intentions may have paved the way to hell.

Embraced by Blood
Laurie London
9780373775866, $7.99

Former undercover Guardian Alfonso Serrano the vampire went undercover to help the agency prevent the deadly Darkbloods from trafficking in human Sweetbloods. However, the Enforcer and his brother Alfonso killed the Darkblood overlord Pavlos (see Bonded by Blood).

Alfonso is now trying to regain his life that he placed on hold. An assassin wants him and anyone he cares about dead. While he is unaware of his stalker, Alfonso wants a second chance with the love of his life Tracker Lily DeGraff. She, on the other hand, is concerned with what his return means to heart as he previously broke hers; additionally something is not right with her abilities. Meanwhile the Darkbloods announce their intent when they abduct one of Lily's students.

The second Sweetblood urban fantasy is an entertaining thriller as the various subplots contain suspense, intrigue and romance in the dark London world where two known Vampire factions are at war over the humans. The story line is fast-paced when the Guardian and Tracker are in the field; the novel slows down somewhat when the subplot focuses on Alfonso's second chance quest too frequently rejected by fearful Lily. Still readers will enjoy this overall fun tale as Bellingham in the Pacific Northwest has become a hotbed of biting vampiric activity.

Seduction and Scandal
Charlotte Featherstone
9780373775873, $7.99

Born in scandal, illegitimate Isabella Fairmont plans on a prim and proper marriage. She wants her life to be serene even if it means passionless to her British Museum Curator of Medieval Studies Mr. Knighton who prefers dirt to her.

Her fantasies are the opposite as she dreams of being the heroine in the gothic novel that she serendipitously is writing. Death is the protagonist of her tale as a dark, sexy hunk. However, Isabella is stunned when she meets her "death" in the Earl of Black who never steps out of his "mausoleum". Their waltz shatters her marital thoughts However Black hides his reason for dancing with her. He investigates her fiance who appears to have found information on his family's ancient, secret organization. Although he conceals the truth from her, a betrayal has Black risking his life to keep Isabella safe.

The first Brethren Guardians thriller is a terrific exciting Victorian romantic suspense as Black is pulled in two directions by his heart as his duty must come before his love. Isabella is a brave protagonist caught between her obsession to avoid scandal even at the cost of her happiness and her growing attraction to the enigmatic Black. Loaded with twists, Seduction and Scandal is fabulous opening act with Isabella' best friend Lucy stepping to the plate in the next Brethren Guardians historical.

Vacation with a Vampire ... And Other Immortals
Maggie Shayne and Maureen Child
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373618620, $5.50

"Vampires in Paradise" by Maggie Shayne. Vampire Diego del Torres rescues Anna Seville from drowning and afterward knowing she is one of the Chosen from her pending death by the Belladonna Antigen blood disease.

"Immortal" by Maureen Child. Immortal Guardian Bain Sinclair rescues Emma Madison from a demon, but learns afterward her ancestors betrayed him.

The Maggie Shayne short novel and the Maureen Child novella are fast-paced paranormal romances whose characters make vampires and other immortals and the humans who love them seem genuine.

Connie Hall
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373618637, $5.50

U.S. Bureau of Supernatural Phenomena Striker Dark is a vampire tracking down a rogue agent. Private investigator Takala Rainwater has searched for the mother who abandoned her and her sisters as children. Striker and Takala meet when both believe they seek the same woman.

Takala quickly learns her white magic does not work against Striker and worse her vaunted control fails too. He realizes for the first time in centuries, he craves her blood as he is attracted to the potential daughter of a woman he is assigned to kill. They team up hunting the traitor who may be her mother and the evil who has employed her as a double agent.

This is an exciting romantic urban fantasy that grips the audience from the opening encounter and keeps reader attention until the final climax. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action as the tale plays out on two fronts: the attraction between the lead pair which neither desires; and the hunt for the rogue who in a fascinating twist may be the heroine's mother.

Wicked Pleasures
Tori Carrington
Harlequin Blaze
9780373796274, $5.25

Lazarus Security Lincoln Williams is tracking down Billy "the Bank Robber" Johnson. He knows his best bet to capturing the escaped convict is through Billy's former girlfriend, Regina Dodson. However though he understands duty being a former marine and ex FBI agent, Linc wants Regina.

He rationalizes that he can watch her much closer if he sleeps with her. After a chili powder shower, Linc realizes he will never have enough of this woman even after the surveillance is done and Billy is caught but fears how she will react when he confesses to her.

The lead couple heat up the sheets and a full other hot spots in this engaging romantic suspense as both find Undeniable Pleasures (see Reckless Pleasures) with each other. Although at times the sexual encounters supersede the Billy subplot in which kidnapping and breaking and entering occur. Sub-genre fans will enjoy the match-up of Linc and Regina though he breaks the rule of surveillance (mindful of the Dreyfuss character in the movie Stakeout) while also wondering can their relationship survive Billy and after chili what next?

Cara Summers
Harlequin Blaze
9780373796267, $5.25

Nash Fortune of the Denver Fortune five hundred is teaching flying at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. However, he has been bored except when he flies. His grandmother Maggie believes Nash's problem is he let go of the right woman, his high school girlfriend though the elderly woman knows they were too young for anything permanent.

Thus she hires the former sweetheart nonfiction author Bianca Quinn to write the definitive Fortune family saga. Her objective is to see whether the sparks still could light up the Mile High city. Bianca also is writing a true crime story about a cold case involving a missing cadet in which Nash is a prime source of information. While grandmother's theory proves right, someone else wants the inquiry dropped and will kill to assure this happens.

This exhilarating second chance romantic suspense is a gripping frantic tale as the Quinn inquiry proves dangerous to her life while her interlude with Fortune proves dangerous to her heart. Although the two subplots never quite determine which is the main theme, readers will enjoy the hectic thriller as matchmaking Maggie knows best.

Deadly Silence
Lindsay McKenna
9780373775842, $7.99

Casey Cantrell never recovered mentally from a brutal beating while at Colorado State University. Upon graduating she becomes a forest ranger to conceal her fears. Her first assignment is giving a lecture on raptors to second graders.

Firefighter Lieutenant Matthew Sinclaire's wife died in an arson-set blaze. Their eight years old daughter Megan called 911 but could not save her mommy as she and Tickle Me Elmo escape the inferno. Suffering from survivor guilt as she feels she failed her mommy, Megan has a deep rooted child form of post traumatic stress disorder, which has left her mute.

At the lecture Casey is kind to Megan who becomes very attached to the ranger. Matt sees the connection between a woman he is attracted to and his daughter. Casey feels for the child and likes the father, but has own issues. However irate Senator Carter Peyton loathes Matt who he holds culpable for his first wife and two children dying in a blaze near Jackson Hole; he will destroy anyone the firefighter cherishes such as Casey.

Deadly Silence is a character driven suspense thriller Matt and Carter grieve their respective losses but react differently to the deaths of their loved ones. Although Peyton's lunatic "eye for an eye" logic can be arguably caused by grief turning him insane, he remains in my mind as way over the top of the Grand Tetons. With a strong romantic subplot between two cautious adults to enhance the taut thriller, fans will appreciate the warmth of loving nurturing helping a little child regain her zest for life.

The Creed Legacy
Linda Lael Miller
9780373776009, $7.99

Rodeo performer Brody Creed returns to his hometown of Lonesome Bend, Colorado for the first time in years after seeing his younger twin Connor (see Creed's Honor). No one expects the rolling stone to remain home for long as he always had itchy feet.

However, Brody plans to stay in town permanently if he can persuade Carolyn Simmons, who he dumped eight years ago to give him a second chance. Carolyn wants nothing to do with the cowboy who broke her heart. However, she cannot totally avoid him as she and his sister-in-law Tricia are business partners. Though she still loves him, she does not trust him to stay.

The latest entry in the Creed saga (see A Creed in Stone Creek) is a warm second chance at love romance. The lead couple is a nice pairing as she distrusts his staying power. In some ways animals steal the show reminding readers of W.C. Field's wry commentary "Never work with children or animals" as Linda Lael Miller displays her high regard for the Humane Society of the United States. Fans of the ever growing Creed universe will enjoy the return of the prodigal wanderer.

Savor the Danger
Lori Foster
9780373775828, $7.99

Mercenary Jackson Savor has wanted sex with Alani Rivers since he first met her. However, when he wakes up feeling ill and finds her naked in his bed, he is stunned as he has no recall of what should be his greatest memory. Bewildered especially when she wakes up and acts like they are lovers, he knows he has been drugged. Alani becomes angry with his distance, but soon also realizes Jackson has been drugged.

They each wonder who did this to him and what the motive is. When they are run off the road by someone who seems to want them dead, Jackson considers Alani's recent abduction as the likely source. He vows to keep her safe from those threatening them.

Readers will appreciate the exciting finish to the Rivers trilogy (see Trace of Fever and When You Dare) as the anticipated from the opening act romance between Alani and Jackson is something to savor even if the final matchmaking device is drugs that took away the hero's control. Fast-paced and loaded with action, fans will relish this taut romantic suspense while anticipating another "Storm" to follow.

Touch If You Dare
Stephanie Rowe
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139
Naperville, IL 60563
9781402241963, $6.99,

The Guardian of Hate Jarvis Swain fears for his brother who wants Death to take him after his woman rejected him with a stake to the heart. Although he thinks Rocco is insane as Jarvis spent an undesirable tortuous century and a half incarcerated at Angelica's Den of Womanly Pursuits, he is obsessed with saving his sibling's life.

After eight years of failed prevention, D-Day has arrived for Death's Assistant Reina Fleming who remains obsessed with saving the life of her sister. However, she has no earthly idea how to do so until she meets Jarvis. She believes he possesses the skills she needed to rescue her sibling. His agenda to beat Death fits hers. They team up to try to save their siblings while falling in love, but though she soothes the savage beast she has doubts he is the right person for her even as Death has an appointment at Fenway Park.

The latest Soulfire jocular romantic urban fantasy (see Kiss at Your Own Risk) is an over top of the Green Monster satire that continues the lampooning of the sub-genre. Jarvis and Reina are fascinating characters while the support cast (to include their siblings, Nigel, Napoleon, Death and a horde of other odd paranormal like Reap) enhance the romance between Hate and the Reaper in training. Fast-paced from start to finish, readers will enjoy the affirmation of basic algebra in which two negatives make a positive

In the Heat of the Bite
Lydia Dare
9781402245107, $6.99

In 1817 the vampiric Earl of Blodswell Matthew Halket takes a stroll near Hyde Park when he meets Rhiannon Sinclair during a thunderstorm that appeared out of nowhere. Though centuries since he was a chivalrous knight he offers her assistance until he realizes that she is the source of the storm.

Weather witch Rhiannon wants Matthew to leave her alone as she wants nothing to do with vampires. She is also abashed that he caught her causing the storm. When they next meet her weather control abilities go haywire and his supernatural skills act crazy. To make matters worse, they are falling love with each other.

This amusing paranormal Regency romance is a fun lighthearted frolic between two star-crossed lovers whose powers go awry when they are in close proximity to one another. The fascinating theme grips readers as the vampire and the witch may have to choose between love and their respective powers; both are used to having these skills so if they could survive giving them up (that is if they can) would that prove enough for them to become soulmates? Leaving the world of werewolves, Lydia Dare provides a warm romantic historical urban fantasy.

What A Goddess Wants
Stephanie Julian
9781402251474, $14.99

Charun was given no choice except to guard the Underworld. He must never leave his post but over two thousand years of ennui has left him deranged with an obsessed need to free himself from his eternal yoke. To break his chains of duty that bind him to Aitas he needs incredible power with the only easy source being the ignored Forgotten Goddesses.

Charun orders his demons to bring him Thesan the Etruscan Goddess of the Dawn of the Golden Light. Ignored by almost everyone, Tessa flees for Reading, Pennsylvania where she asks her Etruscan friend with the New York accent Salvatorus for help after telling him she believes Charun consumed the missing Mlukukh. He sends her to mercenary Cimmerian warrior Caligo to protect her. She breaks his wards and falls asleep waiting for him. When he arrives he thinks she is Goldilocks who became dinner in the real story. He also distrusts Goddesses since Venus conned him into challenging Vulcan. Unable to resist Sleeping Beauty, he wakes her with his sexual touches. They make love. As she brings warmth to the frozen tundra mercury and brings her a sense of safety, they fall in love while Charun's demons keep coming for her.

The freshness to this exciting erotic romantic urban fantasy is the intermingling of various pantheons with an emphasis obviously on the Etruscan into a cohesive Julian universe. The lead couple is a terrific combo of an Etruscan Goddess and an immortal unfeeling Cimmerian warrior who loathes that SOB fame seeker Homer the muckraker for outing his race. Tongue in cheek, readers will enjoy What A Goddess Wants, a Goddess gets and she wants Cal.

Pillow Talk
Freya North
9781402254468, $14.99

In London, jewelry designer Petra Flint hears a song on the radio written by Arlo Savidge. At the same time Arlo the music teacher hears the song that reminds him of Petra. Both dream of what was between them when they were teens in love seventeen years ago.

When they meet, their attraction remains as strong as when they were in love. They begin seeing each other, but conceal secrets from one another. She has a poor excuse of a boyfriend and struggles with sleepwalking caused by her past that is still haunting her, and he gave up playing music and his heart when tragedy hit. Concealing their weaknesses will doom their second chance, but revealing them could prove abasing and heart-breaking if rejected.

Pillow Talk is a warm passionate contemporary romance starring two flawed people who as teens were in love and now as adults remain in love. Although the story line starts a bit slow as Freya North establishes the present lifestyles and respective emotional baggage of the lead pair, fans will enjoy reading whether the second chance at love will succeed knowing that it only can if Petra and Arlo explain to each other their flaws.

Cover Me
Catherine Mann
9781402244957, $6.99

A mountain climber is stranded on Mt. Redoubt in the Aleutian Islands. Air Force Tech Sergeant Wade "Brick" Rocha Tech parachutes onto the frozen mountain to rescue Sunny Foster. However, she wants him to leave her alone as she insists she has great survival skills as a survival guide and does not need any saving especially from the military as she belongs to a secret community who hide from authorities.

As someone tries to kill Sunny, she, her dog Chewie and Wade discover bodies in the ice. With a blizzard coming, the trio must find better shelter than her cave, but a predator wants them dead. They battle their attraction and the increasingly nasty weather, as the Tech Sergeant the survival guide and the canine named after Star Wars team up to hunt a predator.

Similar in tone to Catherine Mann's Dark ops saga (see Renegade), the first Elite Force romantic suspense is an exciting romantic suspense thriller starring a "brick headed" Air Force Pararescue tech and a rock hard survivalist with a cause. Fans will enjoy this fun thriller although what is happening in the Aleutians seems over the top of Mt. McKinley, as Wade quickly learns Sunny and Chewie can take care of themselves; but he insists on keeping his woman and their canine safe from whoever wants her dead.

Mark Billingham
Mulholland Books/Little Brown
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316126663, $24.99,

In Whittington Hospital, police Detective Inspector Tom Thorne struggles with his girlfriend Detective Inspector Louise Porter's miscarriage. Thus when his superior DCI Brigstocke informs him of a homicide, he welcomes a new case to take his mind off the tragedy.

In her home in Finchley, someone battered Emily Walker before suffocating her with plastic. Thorne looks at the murder scene, which is clearly that of domestic violence. However, he learns that a twenty-something nurse was murdered in the same manner three weeks ago in Leicester City. Further inquiry into the pasts of two dead females links them when both their mothers and five other women were murdered fifteen years ago by the late serial killer Raymond Garvey. As more offspring of Garvey's victims are murdered, a copycat psychopath is on the loose.

The latest Thorne British police procedural (see Death Message) is an engaging suspense filled investigation. The protagonist does not cope well with the miscarriage and though he relishes the case to keep his mind off dark personal thoughts, he also feels a bit guilty for his euphoria over corpses appearing in London. Although the nibbles from the soul of the psychopath never feel adequate as with the Lay's commercial a few chips is not enough (either more or none is needed). Still sub-genre readers will want to join the DI as he investigates the copy cat serial killings.

Till Death Do Us Bark
Judi McCoy
Obsidian Mystery
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451234353, $7.99,

After deciding she needed a dog, Ellie Engleman goes to the pound. There she met Rudy the Yorkiepoo who is the reincarnation of her beloved canine companion who died ten years ago. Rudy speaks to her and Ellie understands him as well as all canines. Needless to say she adopts Rudy and they become a great crime solving team (See Begging for Trouble and Death In Show) though her job is that of a professional dog walker.

After not taking a vacation in about a decade, her best friend Vivian convinces Ellie to take Rudy and accompany her and her Terrier Twink to the Hamptons where her sister Arlene has a home and is also getting married in twenty-four hours. The groom fails to show up and later is found dead in his office on his estate. Ellie keeps reminding herself not to investigate. However, when the housekeeper's son Tomas is arrested, seemingly everyone she knows including Rudy and Twink pressure her to make inquiries; so she acquiesces. With Rudy sniffing out clues, Ellie follows his lead one clue at a time.

The fun in this amusing amateur sleuth is the charming chats and camaraderie between politically correct human Ellie and irreverent canine Rudy; for instance she calls her boyfriend Sam and he dubs him "Detective Demento". The action is limited, but Ellie who is always there for friends and family and Rudy make a dynamite detecting duo whose chatter brings humor and crime solving to the story line. Thus the great characterizations starting with the lead pair but also including Viv and her dysfunctional family make for a fabulous anthropomorphist whodunit.

Pleating for Mercy
Melissa Bourbon
9780451234360, $6.99

According to the Cassidy family legend, Butch Cassidy made a wish in an Argentine fountain tossing a gold coin into it. He wished for good things for his descendants and his offspring have been blessed with a magic charm especially Meemaw Harlow's great grandmother who gets everything she wishes for; her grandmother is a goat whisperer and her mother has the touch with flowers and greenery.

When Meemaw dies, Harlow Jean Cassidy leaves her job as a Manhattan fashion designer and returns to her hometown of Bliss, Texas where she opens up Buttons and Bows a dressmaking boutique in the turn-of-the-century farmhouse she inherited at birth. Her first customer is Josie who is marrying Nate Kincaid son of the town's leading family who made a fortune in oil. Josie hires Harlow to design dresses for her and her bridesmaid. Tragedy strikes when one of the bridesmaids' Nell is murdered in Harlow's yard after she hears the woman and another person yelling. Meemaw has come back home to Harlow although she cannot see her but makes it plain she wants her great granddaughter to investigate the homicide without placing herself in danger. Harlow sleuths and learns secrets that, with the help of her late relative. she begins to put together the portrait of a killer.

This opening act in the new paranormal amateur sleuth A Dressmaker's Mystery is enchanting as the magic of the Cassidy women is a two edged sword of both a blessing and a curse. Sub-genre fans will adore Harlow who believes the magic passed her by until her relative's spirit helps her discover the gift. The support cast is made up of normal people making it difficult to determine who amongst them the killer is and what the motive is as Pleating for Mercy is a spirited whodunit.

Gregory Murphy
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, NY, NY 10014
9781101516560, $15.00,

In 1911 Manhattan, wealthy widow Lydia Billings hires affluent lawyer William Dysart to purchase five acres that abut her large estate on Long Island. He drives across the Queensboro but is delayed by a horse-car accident. When he arrives at his destination, William expects to see a farmer's elderly widow but meets beautiful enigmatic Sybil Curtis. She informs him she will never sell.

Attracted to Sybil, William also admires her stand though wonders why his client and pressured non seller seem to loathe each other especially in light of his law firm ready to use political connection trickery and the ignorant press to further the cause of the bereaved widow of the infamous Henry Billings. As he investigates what happened to cause this animosity, his marriage to social climbing beauty Arabella unravels. He wants to make it on his salary while she prefers upper class status as offered with strings by his martinet father.

Incognito is a timely entertaining pre-WWI drama that focuses on the upper class manipulating the corrupt political, legal and financial institutions to better their lives at the cost to others. William as the only seemingly ethical person in his elite circle until he meets Sybil struggles with the expectations of others like the law firm partners, his father and his wife. Gregory Murphy fascinatingly implies with parallels from a century ago that the recent excesses of America's elite may in the twenty-second century be labeled the neo Gilded Age.

A Sheetcake Named Desire
Jacklyn Brady
9780425242742, $7.99

Two years have passed since pastry chef Rita Lucero and chef Phillipe Renier legally separated. Now Rita demands Phillipe sign the divorce papers. Instead he ignores her requests not returning her attempts at contacting him nor that of her lawyer. Exasperated that her appeals to him failed, Rita travels to New Orleans to confront Phillipe.

At Phillipe's place of business, a cake is sabotaged and he is killed with a chef's knife protruding from his back. Rita learns someone has tried to destroy his shop over the past four months. After talking with the police, Rita fixes the cake. Afterward she goes with a detective to inform her mother-in-law Miss Frankie that her son is dead. Grief stricken Miss Frankie asks Rita run Zydeco in order to find the killer. Rita is the sole beneficiary since she was still married to Phillipe who had no will. Miss Frankie hopes her widowed daughter-in-law remains in New Orleans as she has a house and a high end cake business. However, as she deals with running Zydeco loking for a killer and a saboteur, her husband's killer watches Rita's activity.

A Sheetcake Named Desire is a combination amateur sleuth tale inside of a family drama. Rita's sleuthing is fun to follow though it is standard sub-genre fare including the title; but the relationships the heroine has (and had) bring freshness to the entertaining whodunit. Readers will learn who Phillipe was by comparing the relative filtered opinion of those who knew him like his mom, employees, and widow. Readers will relish Jacklyn Brady who bakes an engaging first entry starring a heroine who takes the cake.

Murder by Mocha
Cleo Coyle
9780425241431, $25.95

In the Village is the popular Village Blend coffeehouse managed by Clare Cosi and owned by her mother-in-law Madame DuBois. It was Madame's idea to go into business with her friend Alicia Bower to sell the drink for Aphrodite's Village Online. They market a new java, Mocha Magic Coffee, using the Blend's coffee beans, Voss' chocolate, and an herbal aphrodisiac. When Madame and Clare meet with Alicia at the hotel, Claire has a feeling trouble is brewing.

The man Alicia was seeing is found dead in their bed, blood everywhere and a knife protruding from his chest. When the police arrive, there is no body and Clare realizes fake blood was used to scare Alicia. When the drink is introduced at a special gala, Clare finds the corpse of Patrice Stone who demanded a share of the profits of the new drink and worked for Aphrodite's Village. As other members of the popular online business is killed or arrested, Clare searches in the shadows for the perpetrator orchestrating these events.

Every Coffeehouse amateur sleuth (see Roast Mortem) is a specially blended mystery with the latest entry affirming that opinion as the key characters are fully developed inside of an action-packed series. Single mom Clare holds the percolating story line together as she courageously and foolishly searches for the murderous culprit. Series fans learn a bit more about the people in her life like her daughter Joy, her lover Mike, her former husband, his mom Madame, and the battling baristas. Filled with twists, used coffee beans and false leads, readers will wonder who the killer is (over mocha).

Night Veil
Yasmine Galenorn
9780425242049, $7.99

Wind witch Cecily Waters returns home where she learns she has the skill of shapeshifting just like the Fae do. However, she has little time to practice her new talent as the Indigo Court Fae Queen Myst has incarcerated her soul mate Fae Prince Grieve.

To rescue her beloved, Cecily needs a mentor to teach her how to maximize her new found abilities. Fae Lannan Altos offers to train her in shapeshifting for an exorbitant biting fee that Cecily accepts. As she begins her rescue attempt, Geoffry the Fae confronts Queen Myst.

The latest Night at the Indigo Court fantasy (see Night Myst) is an engaging thriller as Yasmine Galenorn affirms she is one of the best at Otherworld environs. The story line is fast-paced from the first nibble to the climatic last bite. Although none of the characters are likable including the lead wind witch as everyone has an avaricious agenda and they mostly obsess how to obtain the juicy nectar of life; even courageous Cecily fixates on whatever it takes to rescue her mate. Still fans will relish a trip to Indigo Court as Ms. Galenorn continues lifting the Night Veil.

Temptress in Training
Susan Gee Heino
9780425242117, $7.99

In 1812 Sophie Darshaw's father vanished. Four years later, although she has not given up on finding her father, Sophie Knows she was fortunate to obtain work as a seamstress in Madame Eudora's upper class brothel when the Madame abruptly sends a stunned Sophie to the estate of Lord Fitzgelder, a rake known for his wild orgies. Sophie is unsure why.

The Earl of Lindley seeks those traitors who killed his family. He feels Fitzgelder is his best source for information so he is at the pervert's estate. There he meets and rescues Sophie from Fitzgelder. She goes to a nearby inn with him right behind her. Both seduce the other expecting to obtain information, but instead find love. However, neither has time to understand their feelings as they are almost killed by rogues; and soon after she encounters her amoral father. Yet it is a locket she wears that may provide Lindley with the lead he seeks to locating his family's killers.

The latest Fitzgelder Regency romance is an exciting amateur sleuth espionage thriller starring an Earl on a mission of revenge and a seamstress who was a support character in the previous historical tales (see Damsel in Disguise and Mistress by Mistake). The story line initially feels convoluted as so much happens so fast, readers need a flowchart to follow. However, all converge into a terrific romantic suspense as love and danger collide.

Michelle Rowen
9780425242131, $7.99

A non-believer just two weeks ago, Jill Conrad was injected with an anti-vampire toxin by mistake. She became irresistible to the vampires, but also deadly to the Undead species. As a weapon to manipulate by the various bloodsucker factions, she killed the vampire king (see Nightshade).

Jill wants to go back being her former self, but knows that is impossible. Instead she is the prey hunted by vampires. She seeks a serum to make her non poisonous and wants to save her protector tormented half-vampire Declan Reese from himself. Due to her blood Declan is bipolar as a killer one moment and in heat the next. Meanwhile a secret vampire cabal plans to abduct the king's baby daughter, which Jill vows not to allow if necessary over her dead body.

The second Nightshade urban fantasy is an exciting thriller that sets the dark deadly tone from the opening scene in the aptly titled North Hollywood bar Ravenous where thirsty vampires gather and never slows down until the final chill. Incredibly fast-paced with an intrepid heroine who keeps the story line moving forward and focused, sub-genre readers will believe after a trek into the perilous Rowen realm that Southern California contains nasty vampiric predators.

Darkness At Dawn
Elizabeth Jennings
9780425242124, $7.99

When Lucy Merritt was fourteen years old, her CIA operative parents died on a mission in the Himalayan kingdom of Nhala. She watched both of them get killed and chose a quieter and safer lifestyle, that of a book restorer.

However, the monarch is under attack by terrorists. As her father the king is dying, Princess Paso asks America for help specifically requesting her friend Lucy. The CIA recruits Dr. Lucy Merritt who would do almost anything for her friend although she has gigantic doubts about this request. The Feds sweeten the pot by enabling her to look at an ancient document when in the Himalayas. Accompanying her on her 'pilgrimage" to where her parents died in the line of duty is her fake fiance U.S. Army Captain Mike Shafer; whose mission is to keep Lucy safe and obtain a flash drive allegedly containing information on the terrorist scheme that threatens millions. However, her courage under fire forces him to reassess his partner as she takes one for the cause.

This is an exhilarating romantic suspense in which readers will feel they are at the top of the world. The lead couple are a wonderful pairing as each is brave, intelligent, caring and knows frozen tundra (he is 10th Mountain); their attraction does not overwhelm the mission. Although the changing viewpoints provide a 360 story line that is two edged as readers understand what is going on from the perspective of the key players but also makes a choppy flow to the action-packed story line. Still fans will feel the biting cold while trekking mountainous Nhala alongside Mike and Lucy.

Can't Hurry Love
Christie Ridgway
9780425242100, $7.99

Almost a year ago the three Baci sisters said they will diligently work for the next twelve months to save the family century old Napa Valley vineyard that was failing. A lot has happened since the trio inherited Baci from their late dad. Two of the sisters have since found love and marriage (see Then He Kissed Me and Can't Hurry Love). They are committed to stay and work at the vine yard.

The oldest sibling Guiliana remains adamant that she will leave once the year is up in one month even as her apartment has been burned down and her car destroyed. Jules is forced to move to the neighboring vineyard owned by Liam Bennett though they are uncivil with each other as they have been for a long time. However, with a gala planned to celebrate the Golden Anniversary of the vineyard, the couple agree to a one month truce, which will end when she leaves. Their attraction remains hotter than the inferno that destroyed her apartment, but someone stalks Jules with bad intent.

The final Three Kisses contemporary vineyard romance is an engaging tale starring two enemies in love. Although the story line is somewhat typical of the sub-genre and the villain over the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, fans will relish this fun frothy frolic as the lighthearted heated banter between the oldest Baci and her childhood friend and nemesis former lover make for a wonderful read.

Undead and Undermined
MaryJanice Davidson
9780425241271, $25.00

After spending less than an hour in frozen July 3015 and a side trip to Hell and a visit with mother dearest Lucifer, Betsy Taylor and her half-sister Laura the Antichrist return to present day St. Paul where they agree they must somehow fix the time line to prevent what they witnessed in the future. Nutso vampire Marc-Thing follows the siblings back from the thirty-first century. Betsy knows she needs to read the Book of the Dead without going insane; thankfully she has a deal with Satan allowing her to peruse the Book in exchange for watching Satanist movies with Laura.

However, her shoes lead her to even crazier scenarios. The strangest being awake in a Chicago morgue as plastic bagged Jane Doe 291. Back at the mansion in St. Paul, Betsy compares notes with Eric and others to understand what is going on as no one is quite like they were before her time traveling ended on a slab. That is until she realizes someone in the future wants Betsy Taylor dead before she can become the powerful Queen of the Vampires.

The magnificent muddled middle book in the time altering miniseries (see Undead and Unfinished for the opening act) is a zany frolic that contains the consistent restraint of self indulged yet caring in her insane way Betsy. The excessive superego with a muted edge as she has seen in her future Betsy has gone too far with her selfishness. Over the top of the Metrodome, fans will relish the second thriller in the changing Taylor landscape as the jocular story line is a fun urban fantasy at the usual lunatic pace expected from MaryJanice Davidson.

Skin Dive
Ava Gray
9780425242148, $7.99

Ten months ago at the Exeter Facility in Virginia, Taye introduced himself to Gillie. He explains he is an experiment of Dr. Rowan like she is and has little memory of his past. He begins seeing her every day promising to get both of them out of their incarceration soon. Gillie worries about Taye's safety as she knows his visits are dangerous for him as she had no one see her for a dozen years except Rowan.

Finally one month after they met, Taye gets them out of the lab prison into the big world outside. He knows the Foundation will send their best hunters to retrieve them as she is an incredible healer and he controls electricity. They meet Mockingbird when he warns them of a Foundation team's trap. He wants them working for him, but the pair agrees to trust no one not even their respective hearts.

Though it pays to read the previous three tales (especially the first two) in this super urban fantasy (see Skin Game, Skin Tight and Skin Heat), the final thriller is a great finish to a strong saga. Fast-paced throughout, readers anticipate the confrontation between Dr. Rowan, Mockingbird and the lead couple as Ava Gray wraps up the prime overarching theme with a strong climax.

Heartbreak Creek
Kaki Warner
9780425241226, $15.00

In 1870 in war ravaged Louisiana, Edwina Ladoux signs over Rose Hill Planation to the bank in order for the land to be auctioned to pay back taxes. Answering a mail order bride ad, she and her half-sister Prudence Lincoln leave the South taking the train to Heartbreak Creek, Colorado where she is to marry widower Declan Brodie and help raise his four children.

After meeting Maddie and Lucinda, Ed gets Declan to agree to a three month courtship as she fears she is not cut out for life on the frontier since she can't even cook and he knows his first wife ran away before being killed. As she and the Brodie quintet fall in love, his dead first spouse Sally comes home. Also arriving is Lone Tree seeking vengeance against the rancher from when Brodie was a sheriff.

The fabulous first Runaway Brides western romance contains a strong cast and a vivid description that establishes time and place. Edwina initially seems like a fish out of water, but Ed wins over everyone she meets with her energy and elan. Although a late unhealthy contrivance abates some of the conflict, sub-genre readers will welcome this strong post Civil War romance.

Burning Down the Spouse
Dakota Cassidy
9780425241080, $15.00

In Riverbend, New Jersey, when Frankie Bennett learns her spouse of eighteen years TV Chef Mitch of Mitch in the Kitchen is cheating on her she explodes on national TV. He divorces her leaving her with a broken down car and Kiki the dog due to the pre-nuptial agreement that gives her nada. Suffering from depression she remains in bed in her Aunt Gail's retirement apartment when Maxine Barker arrives, insisting Frankie not let a SOB like Mitch ruin her life.

Maxine takes Frankie to the Greek Meets Eat Diner where owner Nikos Antonakus interviews her. He insists he has no idea who she is or who Mitch is. He hires her even if she cannot boil water. His brother Cosmos lectures him for lying to Frankie, but he says he owes Maxine and likes Gail. Nikos actually cheered for Frankie when she ripped Mitch's head off on TV. Mitch calls the diner to speak to Frankie. Nikos' mama Voula mentions Bad Mitch to Frankie who refuses to speak to Mitch. As Nikos and Frankie fall in love, someone helps Bad Mitch steal Voula' secret meat loaf recipe; Nikos blames Frankie.

The second Ex-Trophy Wives contemporary romance (see You Dropped a Blonde on Me) is an enjoyable story line that remains almost exclusively focused on the prime plot of the lead female returning to life after a major depression. The ensemble cast is solid with diverse personalities and even includes a secondary romance. Although unethical behavior and poor hurtful judgments are forgiven too easily, readers will enjoy Frankie finds her groove.

Harrowing Hats
Joyce and Jim Lavene
9780425242773, $7.99

It is the time of the year when University of South Carolina Assistant Professor Jessie Morton takes her vacation to work at the Renaissance Faire Village and Market Place in Myrtle Beach. She is studying crafts for her dissertation "The Proliferation of Medieval Crafts in Modern Times". This year she is apprenticing under the tutelage of Andre Hariot, a hat-maker. Her one true love Chase Manhattan works as the bailiff.

At the beginning of her stay, Chase takes Jessie to the Three Chocolatiers Shoppe. They find the oldest sibling Cesar dead in a vat of chocolate with a hat pin in his eye and a hat on his face. Myrtle Beach Police Detective Almond believes the killer is Andre, who was under suspicion for the murder of his wife years ago; in both cases the victim had a hat pin in their respective eye. Jessie believes Andre is innocent in both homicides and sets out to prove her assertion, but finds most of the villagers want him to be the killer. She also has to tame the second in command of the Knight Templar who are disturbing the village and making life miserable for the players and vendors.

The Renaissance Faire mysteries (see Deadly Daggers and Ghastly Glass) are always an enjoyable read because besides being a thrilling whodunit fans get a glimpse of the village when the crowds are not walking around as beyond the glitter are real people working hard while also dealing with real problems. Joyce and Jim Lavene provide a complex exciting murder mystery that amateur sleuth fans will appreciate.

Flowers for Her Grave
Judy Clemens
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590589205, $14.95,

Casey Maldonado struggles with the deaths of her husband and son but has no time to grieve as she fled Ohio where her family died to avoid a murder charge. She is back on lam with her companion L'Ankou the Grim Reaper as they flee Kansas by box car after a fight left her with injuries.

She changes her identity to Daisy Gray, fitness trainer in Raceda, Florida. However a change in name and location fails to keep Casey out of trouble. She finds a woman, who was obviously assaulted and bleeding to death in the locker area. Casey tries to save the woman's life but fails. Death tells her is time to flee, but feeling guilt for being too slow, Casey as Daisy decides to investigate; ignoring L'Ankou's warning to run before the cops look into who she is.

The third Grim Reaper thriller (see Embrace the Grim Reaper and The Grim Reaper's Dance) is a whimsical whodunit as readers will agree with death that is time to get out of Dodge, but Casey knows there are moments when you cannot run away from your problems. Filled with humor mostly due to the relationship between Death and Casey as most people think she is a lunatic arguing with herself since they cannot see or hear the grim Reaper. Series fans will enjoy Flowers for Her Grave as Judy Clemens showcases human travesties as seen through the eyes of Death.

Frederick Ramsay
Poisoned Pen
9781590589021, $24.95

In DC, a car crash leaves college president and Ile's fiancee, Ruth Harris in a coma. At the same time in Picketsville, Virginia, Ruth's fiance Sheriff Ike Schwartz expects a strong opponent in the upcoming reelection because the town mayor wants him out of office.

When Ike learns of the accident he has issues with the facts. Ignoring his election, he decides to make inquiries into the cause of the crash that he thinks was deliberately set. A former CIA operative, he, accompanied by another ex agent Charlie Garland, investigates though he knows the incident is outside his jurisdiction and will cause him trouble with law enforcement and with his election back home.

The latest Ike Schwartz mystery is more introspective than usual as the hero struggles with what has happened to his beloved. Although much less action than in Ike's previous thrillers (see Secrets and Buffalo Mountain), fans of the series will enjoy his angst-laden need for the truth even while doubting that the locals will assist him as much as they did. Perhaps Ike's least action oriented but still exciting entry, Rogue is an enjoyable tale as readers see the protagonist from a different poignant perspective.

English Lessons
J.M. Hayes
Poisoned Pen
9781590589151, $24.95

On Christmas day on the Sewa Reservation in Arizona, Tribal Police Officer Heather English patrols a remote area when she finds the skin of State governor-elect Joe Hyde nailed to a wooden wall. Attached to the cured corpse is a note stating she and her family will be executed implying that the gruesome murder is related to a drug war involving her half-Cheyenne uncle, Mad Dog; someone sends the shaman a holiday gift of a human hand.

At the same time in Benteen, Kansas, her dad Sheriff English breaks up a melee caused by fender benders in a church parking lot. A right wing militia becomes irate with his interference. Someone vandalizes the town's largest holiday yard display. The owner plans to kill those he holds culpable. His family gives his guns to Sheriff English to keep him out of trouble. However, the locals are upset with English for violating the Second Amendment.

The latest Mad Dog & Englishman mystery (see Server Down) is a powerful tale as the English family struggles with illogic and insanity in two states. The story line is takes no prisoners as J.M. Hayes skewers those in charge who pretend to take the moral high ground with no accountability or responsibility for their actions or words including Second Amendment support to sell guns to drug cartels on the border; the author further condemns lemmings who rejoice in the sound bites. All this biting satire is inside a strong suspense thriller as the law enforcement family learns their English Lessons.

But Remember Their Names
Hillary Bell Locke
Poisoned Pen
9781590589120, $24.95

In 2008, Cynthia Jakubek graduated from Harvard Law School and anticipated a prestigious position at a Manhattan firm. However, the financial Great Recession delays the start of her career as most law firms are cutting experienced staff and not hiring new employees. Thus, she returns home to Pittsburgh where she accepts a job as an intern for defense attorney Luis Mendoza and lives with her widowed father.

At the Pittsburgh Museum of American History Museum, the body of sexagenarian philanthropist T. Colfax Bradshaw is found amidst a life-sized diorama of the Revolutionary War Battle of Lexington. The victim's teenage daughter Caitlin hires Cynthia to represent her in a strange case that involves the 1995 theft of a painting valued at $500 million from the Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston.

This is an exciting legal thriller that looks deeply into the impact on the law by money, social class, race and religion as Hillary Bell Locke makes a powerful argument that justice is not blind only myopic. The two Cs (Cynthia and Caitlin) are wonderful characters who each bring youthful freshness to the lawyer-client relationship. With a terrific twist and a debate over whether the Pirates will reach .500%, readers will want more fast-paced thrillers starring the Pittsburgh lawyer.

A Spark of Death
Bernadette Pajer
Poisoned Pen
9781590589052, $24.95

In 1901 in Seattle, University of Washington Electrical Engineering Professor Benjamin Bradshaw discovered the corpse of a peer Professor Wesley Oglethorpe inside the Electric Machine's Faraday Cage as the Tesla Coil electrocuted the victim. Because Benjamin and Wesley were angry rivals who publically loathed each other and the former knew how to operate the killing gizmo, the police immediately suspect Bradshaw killed his colleague.

Bradshaw knows he must find the real culprit as he worries about his son Justin if he is arrested. He also agrees with police detective O'Brien that a homicide occurred even though the crime scene looks like an accident happened. He begins sleuthing while wondering if electoral engineering student anarchists did the deed as precursor to President McKinley's upcoming visit to the U of W. The only other persons with motive and means are the victim's pregnant wife Marion and Bradshaw's best friend Henry Pratt who fled for Alaska. Ben knows he is onto something though unsure what as the killer tries to murder him even as he welcomes his friend (and suspect) Henry's niece Missouri Fremont who excites him with her suffragette views.

This first historical amateur sleuth mystery stars a delightful hero who uses logic to try to prove his innocence and solve the case. The key to this engaging tale is turn of the twentieth century Seattle as the introduction of the new technology electricity has frightened many locals who believe it is unsafe. Ben is a terrific hero while the support cast adds depth to a strong opening period piece whodunit.

Transformers: Dark Of The Moon
Peter David
Del Rey
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780345529152, $7.99,

The global civil war on Cybertron hits a pivotal moment when Deception Air Commander Starscream shoots down a key Autobot vessel with Optimus Prime inside that was carrying a special weapon that would tilt the fight to their side Optimus Prime knows his side just lost while the ship begins drifting through space.

In the 1960s, the Soviet Union and the United States engage in a race to the moon. Most earthlings assume it is a macho Cold War competition, but in fact it is a retrieval mission to bring back the Ark artifact space vessel found on the dark side of the moon. None of the astronauts are aware inside is a dormant sentient Autobot.

In DC, Sam seeks employment but having saved the world twice, he seeks meaningful work in a city of mirrors. His live-in girlfriend Carly works for art and car collector Dylan Gould. Also residing with the couple are Wheelie and Brains. However, the human will soon learn to watch out for what you wish for as the Decepticons though weakened after two encounters with Prime and Sam plot their next assault.

Although there is plenty of action and humor (a Peter David trademark) to follow, the movie that this novelization is tied to has not been released. The story line is fast-paced from the onset, but also uses a clever tie to the moon landings. Well written, Peter David who has successfully written novelizations of movie adaptations of comic book heroes like Spiderman (as well as other stuff like the Hulk comic book) provides an entertaining Transformer thriller that fans of the saga will appreciate.

The War That Came Early: The Big Switch
Harry Turtledove
Del Rey
9780345491862, $27.00

In 1938 Great Britain Prime Minster Neville Chamberlain rejects Fuhrer Adolf Hitler's claim to annexing more land. Irate, the raging Hitler sends his troops west vowing Paris will burn before the year ends. By 1941 Germany and their ally Poland pound the Soviet Union from the west and Japan from the east. On the western front trench warfare reminiscent of WWI but nastier is devastating the French countryside. Spain is engulfed in a nasty civil war with the American Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the fight against the Fascists.

Americans are divided over entering the war though support they the allies. However, people like Peggy Druce try to get her country to fight the Nazis over there as she insists they will one day cross the Atlantic to fight us here. At the same time as Hitler works on his Final Solution and survives a coup, pacifists in France and Britain make their voices heard. Japan and the Soviet Union sign an armistice while the former attacks American Pacific territories following up on their brutal success in China. Winston Churchill suddenly dies bringing despair to his side and euphoria to the Nazis.

The latest in The War That Came Early WWII alternate history (see Hitler's War and West and East) has another pivotal event occur with the death of the rallying cry for Britain. The death of the face of the allies has devastated the morale more so than Hitler's war machine as France and Great Britain wonder if the cost is worth the fight while the Axis has issues too. Although with so much to cover around the globe, the deep story line at times slows down; Harry Turtledove continues his path of altering key events in his insightful revision of the Great War.

Rule 34
Charles Stross
Ace Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780441020348, $25.95,

In 2023, the police conduct 24/7 surveillance of the Internet as a crime prevention method in order to capture illegal porn peddlers. Edinburgh PD Detective Investigator Liz Kavanaugh heads the Rule 34 Crime Investigation Unit that monitors the Net for illegal activity usually extreme porn although she loathes her position.

Three similar homicides occur around the world. Because each is tied to BDSM and drugs, Kavanaugh leads the inquiry into the Scottish murder of dealer Michael Blair. To the DI, this is the case that will revise her dying career. However, her investigation seems to get increasingly murkier as she and her team discovers strange seemingly unrelated clues to the murder that ties to the felonious Toymaker and others with official protection as well as her former lover.

A few years have passed since the events of the Halting State, but if anything the Stross world has grown darker with a deeper nod to Huxley's 1984. Vividly bleak while extrapolating the philosophy of those who want small government with a Big Brother "patriotic" morality oversight, the story line focuses on society monitoring and censoring the internet. The second case viewpoint adds to that sense of detachment and grimness but the key to this exciting unique police procedural is the enforcement of Rule 34 makes or breaks careers.

Heaven's Shadow
David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt
9780441020331, $25.95

Three years ago, the hundred miles wide object was spotted in the Solar System on a course to the sun. As the planetoid comes closer to its journey's end, America and a combine of Russia, India and Brazil send a rival manned spacecraft to land on the projectile.

Instead of a rock or gases as expected, the object is an ancient space ship. As the astronauts search the vessel, their entrance turns on machines that have been dormant for eons. Even more eerie is the dead come to life as the earthlings struggle to survive increasingly lethal environs while trying to learn the purpose of the ship and its sentient passengers. On earth NASA officials stay in touch with the crew but grandstanding politicians do what they always do when it comes to effective governing by agencies; they interfere for personal gain.

Heaven's Shadow is a faster than the speed of light science fiction that targets readers who prefer action to the nth degree. None of the cast is fully developed, but fans who relish an outer space potentially disaster thriller along the lines of movies like Armageddon will appreciate this exciting tale of first contact.

Pampered to Death
Laura Levine
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9780758238474, $22.00,

To thank his next door neighbor for proving he did not commit a murder (see Death of a Trophy Wife), Lance Venerable pays for copywriter Jaine Austen and her cat Prozac to stay at the luxurious The Haven spa north of Los Angeles. However, the description of fancy does not quire fit as it is much smaller than Jaine expected and the towels showcase a bit of wear. The worst is a 900 calories a day starvation diet rigidly adhered to by spa owner Nazi Olga though Jaine bribes Delphine the maid into bringing her a pastrami.

The other guests include loquacious Cathy Kane who horded chump change for years to come here; spoiled B-level film star Mallory Francis who drives everyone including the storm-trooper and her staff crazy with her demands; and her unhappy retinue (Mallory's sister Kendra, her hairstylist Harvey, her former costar Clint, and her acrimonious Pekingese Armani) who want to return to civilization. Mango Mallory's perpetual orders end when someone strangles her with seaweed. However, the homicide police quarantines everyone at the Haven. Going broke at thirty bucks a sandwich and tired of the so-called pampering (not), Jaine who has solved cases (see Killing Bridezilla) investigates before she dies of malnutrition.

The tenth Jaine Austen amateur sleuth is an engaging tongue in cheek (no food in the way) whodunit in which the clues to the homicide are spread like a buffer throughout the story line. The characters are entertainingly eccentric (that is to the armchair reader, but not to starving despondent Jaine). Although the inquisition lacks the subtly of previous cases with it's in your face technique, fans will enjoy Pampered to Death.

Never Cry Wolf
Cynthia Eden
9780758242150, $14.00

A charmer reads the thoughts of animals, Sarah King flees vicious werewolf Rafe Santiago. She was undercover for the Feds as Rafe's lover but he uncovered her identity.

Knowing Rafe and his pack seek her out and distrusting her agency the FBI as she does not know who she can rely on, Sarah turns to the man who killed her ex-lover's father, the Alpha of the Los Angeles werewolf pack Lucas Simone, for safety though he lingers in jail on murder charges. Her theory is her enemy's enemy is her friend. She gets him out of jail on bail, but Lucas distrusts her motives as he believes she has an agenda beyond just asking for his protection though to his chagrin he is attracted to her. Rafe has waited a long time to avenge his father's death and with a betrayal inside his adversary's pack, the time is now to kill Lucas and maybe Sarah.

The latest Cynthia Eden romantic urban fantasy is an exhilarating thriller filled with lust, lies, and traitors. Readers will understand why the lead triangle trusts no one as perfidy is the norm, leading to a wonderful twisting plot as fans will ponder whose side Sarah is on?

Mistress of the Storm
Terri Brisbin
Kensington Brava
9780758235206, $14.00

In Scotland, Sigurd covets power; there is nothing this avaricouse individual would not do to gain more affluence. He even sells his stepdaughter Isabel to lairds or with connections willing to buy. She acquiesces to Sigurd's pimping her in return keeping her sister Thora safe from this abomination and his family business.

Sigurd's latest mark is Duncan a healer with ties to the king. Isabel stuns Duncan with her touch as he can feel it, which goes contrary to his otherworldly skills that always have diminished his senses. Duncan takes the whore to his holding to learn about the woman. She fears his kindness as men are nice when they want something. Watching him tenderly heal and seeing the aftermath of how much is taken out of her host, Isabel feels trapped as she is falling in love but must protect Thora even at the cost of her heart.

The fourth Storm paranormal medieval romance (see A Storm of Pleasure) is a terrific tale of good and evil; yet the key is the impact on innocent pawns. Action-packed in and out of the boudoir, fans will enjoy the war for Isabel's heart soul between the kind healer who she loves and the malevolent stepfather who she loathes as her sibling is the bait.

Bodyguards in Bed
Jamie Denton, Lucy Monroe, Elisabeth Naughton
Kensington Brava
9780758210333, $14.00

"Who's Been Sleeping in My Brother's Bed?" by Lucy Monroe. After finding her apartment broken into, Ph.D. candidate Danusia decides to stay in her brother's empty place only to find black-ops agent Maxwell staying there.

"Hot Mess" by Jamie Denton. Alyssa goes to the airport to pick up whistle-blower Charles, but is unaware that FBI special agent Noah pretends to be her client.

"Acapulco Heat" by Elisabeth Naughton. On a photo shoot, former army ranger Finn is the bodyguard to supermodel Lauren when all hell breaks loose and they flee from the tropical beach into the rain forest.

With a nod to the movie Bodyguard (starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston), these three passionate heated romances are fun to read though the suspense is limited by the format.

Changeling Dream
Dani Harper
Kensington Brava
9780758265166, $14.00

In 1981 a lunatic killed his pregnant wife Evelyn and severely injured shapeshifter James Macleod. Though he healed physically, James has never shifted back into human form since the assault.

A white wolf saved Veterinarian Jillian Descharme from a near deadly attack. When she told people about her hero, everyone ridicules her tale. Three decades ago, she accepted a job in Dunvegan, Alberta. Whether she resides in Canada or the States; Jillian still dreams of her rescuer.

The crazy person who killed his family sends his adult son to complete the job only half done. At the same time James recognizes the smell of Jillian who he saved years ago nearby. As the white wolf and the human hiker connect, he begins the first step in regaining the humanity that was lost by the attack.

The second Changeling werewolf romance (see Changeling Moon) is a super thriller due to the strong lead couple, the obsessed dying yet predatory father and his indoctrinated son, and the Northern Albertan location. James' duality is brilliantly depicted as the wolf has dominated the human essence for thirty years; while his defense mechanism of avoiding commitment in order to keep people he cares about safe enhances the drama. He makes the tale fresh.

So Sensitive
Anne Rainey
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758239006, $14.00

Gracie Baron has ignored the flattering emails from an unknown person whose closing salutation is "Your Admirer". That changes when someone purposely forces her off the road, severely injuring her. She admits an unknown dangerous person stalks her.

For several months, private investigator Wade Harrison has been asking his friend's assistant Gracie on a date, but she always says no. When Wade learns of the accident, he refuses to take no for an answer as he moves in with her to keep her safe. When the attacks increase, Wade concludes the predator knows Gracie personally as her adversary seems aware of too much info for a stranger to possess. Wade eventually persuades Gracie to accept him as her loving Dom and she is his cherished Sub, but first comes her safety.

So Sensitive is a fabulous erotic romantic suspense as Wade and Gracie make a wonderful couple while the unknown stalker adds tension to the entertaining story line. Even with the BDSM encounters preoccupying his lower head, Wade leaves some blood in his upper head as he never loses sight of his missions to win Sarah's heart (he has her vagina) and to end a predator's terrorizing of his beloved Sub.

Embrace the Night
Crystal Jordan
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758238313, $14.00

Biochemists Chloe Standish the witch and Damien Raines the vampire work together on a research project to help werewolves in their transformation. They had a short fling but she found him flinging with someone else. He is married and his wife is pregnant.

Someone viciously murders the Raines' couple. The police suspect his research partner in a jealous rage committed the homicide. Chief investigator Merek Kingston expects Chloe did the crime although he prays not as their one night stand a few months ago remains etched in his two heads. Although both carry baggage and know logically he is the cop and she the person of interest, they have sex as neither can resist a second encounter. She wins him over to her theory that the werewolf elixir is the reason Damien and his wife were murdered.

This heated romantic urban fantasy is a terrific investigative tale with plenty of hot sex. The key to this engaging whodunit is the lead couple makes love but never lose sight of the objective of proving her innocent. Fast-paced, fans will believe in witches, vampires, werewolves and Normals who are unaware of the paranormal (a common sub-genre element) while enjoying this arousing thriller.

Feel the Heat
Lorie O'Clare, P.J. Mellor and Lydia Parks
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758238146, $14.00

"Fight Fire with Fire" by Lorie O'Clare. Since they were childhood friends, Mary Hamilton secretly has loved Nate Armstrong, but he has never shown any signs that he wants more than being her buddy. However, when a mutual friend dies in a suspicious fire, they turn to each other for solace and more.

"Heat Wave" by P.J. Mellor. Firefighter Thorne Paxton saves the life of Summer Wadsworth when her house burns down. She finds him hotter than the inferno that destroyed her house, but ever time they seem ready to heat the sheets, duty calls.

"Smoldering Lust" by Lydia Parks. Hannah Hayward works in the mayor's office managing the budget. However, the new Fire Chief Lee Evans wants more than the bottom line from her. She wants to go over the numbers on the sheets with the return of the town's bad boy after he was over a decade away.

Although the novella format limits character development, these firefighters and the women who enflame them with desire and lust will blaze readers with their escapade and sexcapades.

Feast: Harvest of Dreams
Merrie Destefano
Harper Voyager
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061990823, $7.99,

Highly regarded horror-fantasy author magical "Mad Mac" Madeline MacFaddin suffers from a severe case of writer's block. Needing to regenerate her brain cells, she and her nine year old son Tucker travel to Ticonderoga Falls based on her memories of a good time when she and her parents rented a cabin there.

However, Maddie has forgotten the dark side of that childhood adventure in which the enigmatic Ash saved her life. Ticonderoga Falls celebrates the Harvest on Halloween night. However, it is not the humans who host the gala as the Others feast on the Harvest of Dreams of these foolish mortals. New and returned blood excite the Darkling as Maddie begins to grasp the connotation of the dreams she had as a child, but may be too late to save Tucker without a sacrifice; her only hope once again is with Ash the fallen bringer of the town's curse.

Feast is an engaging romantic urban fantasy that grips the audience from the moment Ash welcomes back Maddie and never releases its' hold until the final confrontation. The story line is loaded with action, but several concepts are not developed, which hopefully will occur in future Harvest of Dreams thrillers. Maddie is a wonderful human in peril while Ash remains somewhat mysterious though he feels an obsessive need to keep Maddie and Tucker safe. Readers will Feast on this fine harvest but expect more insight into the Destefano realm.

The Sixes
Kate White
9780061576621, $24.99

After being accused of plagiarism and subsequently dumped by her long time lover, Phoebe Hall leaves Manhattan to go to the sleepy town of Lyle, Pennsylvania. Her best friend Glenda Johns heads the private college and hired Phoebe to teach a couple of classes.

The campus is in an uproar when the body of student Lily Marks is recovered from a nearby river. Several months ago the deceased's boyfriend disappeared and was never heard from since. Wesley, a student at the school, was at a bar; the next thing he knew he was swimming for his life. Glenda tries to control negative publicity, but asks Phoebe to look into the rumors of a deadly secret society called the Sixes. Something Lily said to her before she died makes Phoebe believe the late student belonged to the Sixes. She also believes the group targets her by breaking into her home and leaving behind six spoons on the table and another time putting blood in her the dishwasher while she sleeps; blood and soap pours out of the appliance. They top that mischief with six dead rats in her freezer. Refusing to be a victim or a runaway, Phoebe investigates who killed the students and the college security chief.

Putting aside the premise that Lily would her life to help her best friend when at least one homicide occurred rather than hiring a professional, this amateur sleuth tale contains two equal suspenseful subplots: the students' murders and finding out if the Sixes exist and if so who the members are. The people at the college she speaks to may be part of the Sixes so Phoebe risks her life to uncover the truth as some of those refusing to talk may be lethal while others afraid. Kate White provides a chilling disturbing thriller.

The Woodcutter
Reginald Hill
9780062060747, $25.99

The Cumbrian woodcutter's son Wolf Hadda married his childhood sweetheart Imo though she is of noble blood. He became a successful businessman as he, his wife and their daughter live in affluence.

However, their idyllic perfect life ends when police arrest him for financial fraud and child porn. He is sent to a maximum security prison while his spouse divorces him and marries his lawyer. However, the straw that broke the stoic Hadda is the death of his teenage child. Hadda becomes mute refusing to speak with anyone. Several years into his enforced silence and insistence of innocence, prison psychiatrist Dr. Alva Ozigbo finally reaches past his The Man In The Iron Mask facade. Remorseful he admits his guilt, which leads to his parole. Hadda returns to Cumbria seeking solace and answers to what happened several years ago just prior to that knock on his door by the cops.

This is a superb psychological suspense that provides Hadda's present and back story in smooth transitions. Hadda and to a lesser degree Alva holds the intriguing plot together as the audience will wonder about the fall from grace of the businessman that turned him stoically silent. With a major twist providing the why, fans will relish The Woodcutter as one of the year's best character driven thrillers.

My Dear I Wanted to Tell You
Louisa Young
9780061997143, $25.99

Upper class Peter and Julia Locke have an ideal marriage. However, WWI has Peter becoming a commanding officer fighting on the continent. Working class Riley Purefoy is taken in by the affluent upper middle class Waverly family. He dreams of marriage to their daughter Nadine, but WWI has him on the continent in Locke's unit. Combat at the front changes both of them.
On the home front, Julia struggles without a man around telling her what to do. Her cousin Rose thrives with her volunteer work at the VA hospital. Nadine finds the war freeing her of the yoke of class imprisonment as she becomes a nurse. When the men come home, pre war relationships cannot be reconstructed.

This engaging historical tale focuses on the impact of WWI on class status and boundaries in Great Britain. The four lead characters are fully developed so that the reader understands the transition from before to during and after the war. Although the deep look at times leads to a slow pace, readers will appreciate Louisa Young's belief that one outcome of the war to end all wars is the breaking down of progenitor class barriers.

Burn the Night
Jocelynn Drake
Harper Voyager
9780062087980, $7.99

The Naturi have broken free of eons of incarceration to walk the earth again. Their insane Queen Aurora plans a suicide mission to avenge their race by starting a two front war with the other paranormal species and with the humans. Her sisters Nyx and Cynnia know the cost will be extinction of their race so they agree a coup d'etat is needed. The rebellious princesses need the support of Aurora's exiled consort Rowe to cement their precarious position amongst their people.

Mira the Fire Starter and her lover Danaus the vampire slayer prepare for the final battle of the great Awakening even as the mortals remain ignorant of the horror that is beginning. The winged shapeshifters flood the skies while Mira's focus remains divided since her father the God of Chaos wants to use her and Jabari her former mentor plans to kill her. Their only hope resides with Naturi traitors who swear they want peace though Mir does not trust Nyx who has tried to kill her.

The climax to the super Dark Days saga series (see Pray for Dawn and Wait for Dusk) is a great ending. The action-packed story line rotates viewpoint between Mira and Nyx as an emphasis that situations make strange bedfellows. Readers will relish this series due to a strong cast in which necessity is the mother of alliances and adversaries (mindful of American relationships with Hussein).

The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities: Exhibits, Oddities, Images, and Stories from Top Authors and Artists
Edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer
Harper Voyager
9780062109927, $22.99

Thackery T. Lambshead explained to his friends he was not a collector or pack rat of any sort. In fact, he felt he was the opposite trying to properly dispose of things though somehow items had a tendency over his century plus of life to find him. Still with his death in 2003, he left behind an incredible cabinet of curiosities in Brook, England. The Broadmore Exhibits include Tesla's "The Electric Nuerheographiton (by Minister Faust) and Dacey's Patent Automatic nanny (by Ted Chiang). The Cabinet has also has noted authors wiring about aspects like China Mieville's "Pulvadmonitor: The Dust's Warning" and Naomi Novik's thesis on Lord Dunsany's Teapot". Then of course there are Dr. Lambshead's astounding journals in which he holds the west culpable for many transgressions.

The second Dr. Lambshead's anthology (see The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases) is incredible with stories and pictures that make Thackery T. Lambshead's Cabinet of Curiosities seem real rather than a steampunk fantasy collection. Loaded with plenty of fun, well written entries, and fabulous designs and photos, readers, especially young adults, will spend several weeks appreciating this engaging compilation. Each relic reminds this reviewer of the ending to the TV show the Naked City: "There are eight million stories" in Dr. Lambshead's Cabinet and each one is worth reading and seeing.

Long Gone
Alafair Burke
9780061999185, $24.99

In Manhattan, Drew Campbell hires thirty something Alice Humphrey to manage his new Highline Gallery. Unemployed for months Alice loves her job. However, a few weeks after starting Alice arrives at the gallery to find it empty except for Campbell's corpse. NYPD suspects she murdered her lover and has proof of a picture of them together in a very friendly pose. Furthermore they think she used the gallery that is in her name to her shock to distribute child porn.

A stunned Alice seeks information on Drew and the gallery, neither seems to have existed. At the same time a PTSD FBI agent unofficially investigates the death of his sister while a teenager in Upstate New York vanished without a trace. Alice, the fed and a small town cop will cross paths as each investigate seemingly unrelated crimes.

The three prime subplots are at times overwhelming; the Alice in the rabbit hole can definitely stand alone while the other two cannot. However each is an intense psychological suspense as someone struggles with what is going on whether it is Alice, the Fed or the teen's mom. Alice owns the tale as she learns identity is not as simple as it may seem.

The Protector
Shelley Shepard Gray
9780062020628, $12.99

At school very tall Ella Hostetler dreamed that one day cute Loyal Weaver would court her though he never looked twice at the girl with glasses. When Ella's father died, she took over running the farm as her mom was too ill to do so. None of the neighbors offered to help the mother and daughter and they never asked anyone. When her mom died, Ella decided to rid herself of her other beloved burden though she loved her mom and their farm.

Her friend Dorothy obtains a library position for Ella while Loyal buys her family farm. Loyal invites Ella to visit the farm to see what he has been doing to it. She wonders if he might be interested in her the Amish gangly wallflower who spent her youth helping her parents, which increases her self esteem even as Dorothy offers counter arguments.

The second Family of Honor tale is an engaging Amish community novel that Ella keeps focused as a unique intriguing protagonist who struggles with a lack of confidence when it comes to relationships and social interactions. The support cast is three dimensional especially the leads of The Caregiver return (with the health issue), Loyal supported by his extended family, and fascinating Dorothy; the latter is some ways steals the show (no giveaways). Readers will enjoy Ella finds her groove, maybe.

Birth of the Kingdom
Jan Guillow
9780061688638, $25.99

Two decades ago Arn was exiled from his beloved Western Gotaland (see the Road to Jerusalem). For the twenty years he was away, Arn became a proud fierce Knight Templar who fought against his friend Saladin in a losing war (see The Templar Knight).

In 1192 with a plan to rebuild his Folkung Clan, affluent Arn returns home accompanied by Holy Land Christian and Muslim knights, doctors and artisans. He also hopes to find his lost love Cecilia and their daughter Alde. However, he finds his country devastated by clan combat. When he locates his Cecelia at a monastery, Arn wants to marry her, but this further divides his clan who already has doubts with the retinue he brought home with him.

The final chapter of the Crusades trilogy reads more like a historical tale that discerningly showcases life in incredible depth mostly in late twelfth century Sweden, but also deftly compares local customs to that of those in Arn's Holy Land retinue. The action is muted as the detailed history rules the story line. Not for everyone even some fans who read the first two books in the epic; readers who prefer a profound sense of time and place will relish the slow paced Birth of the Kingdom.

Thirteen Reasons Why
Jay Asher
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, NY, NY 10014
9781595141880, $10.99,

The box outside his family home was addressed to Clay Jensen. Inside are seven audiotapes with numbers on them. Nothing else is inside. He plays the first tape in which Hannah Baker starts musing about herself. Hannah Baker committed suicide and on the tapes she recorded the Thirteen Reasons Why. Each of the "Baker's dozen" on her list is to listen to the tapes before sending it on to the next culprit. If someone fails to meet her terms, Hannah has a public backup plan to embarrass those who led her to kill herself. Clay wonders why him as he was nice to her and she rejected him. Still he listens trying to learn why him before he forwards the tapes to Jennifer.

This is not an easy read for obvious reasons, but is handled deftly by Jay Asher. The story line rotates between Hannah's telling her story and Clay's attempts to figure out why she added him in the mix with the others who were nasty to her. Character driven, Thirteen Reasons Why makes a strong case for people to become involved especially with those who are down and need a friend; even if they reject your overtures try again and again for it takes a caring community to prevent the taking of one's life.

Last Dog on the Hill: The Extraordinary Life of Lou
Steve Duno
St. Martin's Griffin
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312600495, $24.99,

In 1989 in Mendocino County, California, Steve Duno and Nancy Banks saw the wild Rottweiler puppies who were obviously the offspring of marijuana farm guard dogs. Out of the pack of feral canines came one dog who decided to change his life. Steve was prepared to leave the pup at the side of the road, but Nancy interceded. They took Lou as they named him with them. However, on that day in 1989 Steve was unprepared for how much Lou changed his life and that of so many others, dogs and humans alike. Starting with the Alzheimer's elderly woman and next the yarn of the thread, Lou quickly won over the senior citizens. For sixteen years Steve and Lou were BFFs. With a nod to John Grogan's Marley and Me, Last Dog on the Hill: The Extraordinary Life of Lou is a fascinating memoir that explores the special bond between a dog and their owner. Well written and filled with pathos and humor, as Steve understands he was Indian Jones' sidekick; who leaves animal lovers musing that Lou's writing his memoir First Human Chosen: The Extraordinary Life of My Pet Steve.

Dragon's Oath
P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast
St. Martin's Griffin
9781250000231, $12.99

Dragon Lankford is the Sword Master of the Oklahoma House of Night in St. Louis. He is also a vampire wrapped up in enigmas and aloofness, but he was not always that way. In 1830 England, he was called Bryan, the third son of the Earl of Lankford. Tired of his misbehaving and bailing Bryan out of trouble, his father exiled his teenage son to America. Before he went on the shop a vampire Marked him. He has to go to school for four years and if the fledgling survives the Change he will be a full fledged vampire.

Dragon attends the school at the Tower Grove House of Night where several of his student peers have crushes on him. In 1833 twenty-two years old Professor of Spells and Rituals Anastasia casts a spell to enable those fledglings who are attracted to the nobleman to see him as he really is. He is interested in her and surprises her when he helps her with the spell focused on him. They fall in love, but the human Sheriff Biddle and a dark magical creature want to destroy him and they believe killing Anastasia will do that. He comes at his enemies with vengeance though he promised an oath of mercy to his perfect love Anastasia the former Quaker who was and still is his soul mate.

The fencing master in the young adult House of Night series, Dragon has always been a riddle to readers and fledglings. This is the beginning of his "biography" mostly in St. Louis during the Jacksonian Era. The paranormal historical story line is exciting as the unlikely pair of Dragon the sword master (even as a student) and Anastasia the pacifist Quaker of spells fall in love, but are Destined for trouble. This is as enthralling and as spellbinding as the main series.

Sizzle and Burn
Alexis Grant
St. Martin's
175 Fifth Avenue,New York, NY 10010
9780312943035, $7.99,

A decade ago, Ryan Mason attended West Point while Mia Santiago went to Vassar. They met and fell in love, but each remained focus on their respective careers as they felt they were too young for anything serious.

Rising in esteem from her colleagues, seismologist Dr. Mia Santiago encounters Special Forces Captain Grant Mason at a scientific symposium. Terrorists want her to use her work in their deadly schemes. His job is to go undercover as an academic in order to protect scientists studying plate tectonics. He wants to tell her the truth that he is a soldier not a researcher because he loathes lying to his beloved, but her safety supersedes his needs.

This Men of Delta romantic suspense is an exciting thriller though the prime subplots don't converge together until very late in the action. When the story line focuses on tectonic disasters or the second chance at love, Sizzle and Burn is great; when the terrorists take the stage the plot feels off kilter. Still with a deep look at a minority female from Spanish Harlem making it in the science world and the hero who wants to be at her side celebrating her triumphs with her, fans will enjoy Alexis Grant's engaging tale.

Heiress in Love
Christina Brooke
St. Martin's
9780312534127, $7.99

In 1814 Lord Fredrick Roxdale died leaving behind his grieving widow Lady Jane and her husband's six years old nephew Luke. Jane inherited much of the wealth while Fredrick's cousin Constantine "blackest of the Black" the title and the estate. However, what bothers Jane is he instead of her was named Luke's guardian.

Jane obeyed the Ministry of Marriage's order she marry Fredrick but though she cared for her late husband she vows not to marry again. Ironically Constantine has made the same pledge to never marry. However he arrives at the estate to offer her a marriage of convenience deal in which she gets to stay and raise her nephew while he obtains funds. Reluctantly she agrees, but he soon wants more emotionally from her.. As they fall in love, Jane and Constantine dream separately of a real marriage but fear trusting their heart with the other.

The first Ministry of Marriage Regency romance is a wonderful gender war as the lead couple fight, fuss and fall in love. Luke is a matchmaker in this marriage of convenience historical while Ministry marvelously muddles the muck with their intrusions. Readers will enjoy the battling Roxdale duet as they argue, lust and love.

Jenna Black
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312575953, $9.99

Seelie Court devious Prince Henry arrives in the city between realms of Avalon to extend an invitation to Faeriewalker Dana from Queen Titania to her royal court. Dana consults with her father who agrees with her assessment that the Fae monarch wants her dead as no ruler trusts the half-human who is the only known Faeriewalker. Though Dana would prefer to decline, she and her dad know she has no choice but to go to the Seelie Court where he was Titania's lover displacing Henry's sire.

Accompanied by her dad, Keane, Kimber and Ethan as well as a royal escort on the short trek from Avalon to the Seelie Court affirms her fears as there are several assassination attempts. Finn and the Erlking along with her friends protect Dana, but she deploys her powers to keep her allies and herself safe. Upon arrival at the Seelie Court, a bomb explodes when Tatiana's granddaughter Princes Elaine touches her throne. As the Princess lies on the floor probably dead, Dana's dad rushes her from the court before she is executed. The Faeriewalker struggles to survive as a stranger on a strange world.

The third Faeriewalker teen fantasy (see Shadowspell and Glimmerglass) continues the coming of age adventures of the hybrid who begins to understand passivity is no longer an option as that denotes death for her and others, but has other lessons to learn about yielding power. The determined young heroine still has trust issues though she tries to connect with her alcoholic mom and her fae father. Although the romantic subplots feel out of place, readers will appreciate the exhilarating escapades of the Faeriewalker as she knows she is not in Kansas.

Zombies Sold Separately
Cheyenne McCray
St. Martin's
9780312946432, $7.99

In Manhattan Nyx the hybrid Drow-human Night Tracker suffers from nightmares that seem real. Meanwhile as her team has two new recruits replacing those who died in combat (see Vampires Not Invited), she and her unit visit a horrific mass murder site. Something ripped apart body parts thrown everywhere and that unknown beast masticated leaving teeth marks as if dining on the flesh. Nyx knows what the monsters are, having met them when she was five years old and they killed her older brother.

As more brutally murdered bodies appear, Nyx finally meets the gruesome enemy, Zombies. However, she never moved passed her childhood trauma and is unable to fight. Her superior and former lover Rodan wants to remove her from team leadership, but she angrily accuses him of dissing her. She goes to discuss zombies with her father King of the Otherworld Drow who gives her insight to repel the undead invasion though she may be too late to end the infestation at a time when a supreme sorcerer threatens Earth.

The latest Night Tracker urban fantasy is an exhilarating thriller as the heroine struggles with two major adversaries and her personal childhood bogeymen being one of them. When the story line focuses on either the Zombie invasion or the Otherworld Sorcerer power surge, the tale is superb. When the story line focuses on Nyx's romantic interludes with NYPD Detective Adam Boyd and new team member Colin the dragon, the novel decelerates as these subplots feel intrusive when time is running out on the Big Apple. Still sub-genre fans will enjoy Nyx takes Manhattan.

Courtesan's Guide to Getting Your Man
Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan
St. Martin's
9780312532567, $7.99

Boston Museum Culture and Society curator Piper Chase-Pierpont knows she is a shy mouse especially when it comes to her colleague Mick Malloy who she secretly loves. She becomes excited when she obtains the nineteenth century memoir of an English courtesan Blackbird.
Piper reads the journal and learns why Ophelia fought to free everyone after being locked in Newgate and trapped by a scandalous trial. The modern day curator applies Ophelia's advice to win the heart of Mick by doing a total makeover from mouse to lioness.

A bit over the top of the Green Monster and Big Ben as neither subplot seems likely; the Courtesan's Guide to Getting Your Man is a whimsical romance in which a nineteenth century woman's memoir works for a twenty-first centrum social media savvy professional female. Rotating perspectives between the past and present, readers will root for both women to achieve their respective objective. Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan team up to provide readers with an entertaining charmer.

The Secret Desires of a Governess
Tiffany Clare
St. Martin's
9780312381844, $7.99

In 1848, Abby Hallaway arrives at the castle in Northumbria to start her new position as governess to the eight year old son of the Earl of Brendall Widower Elliot Wright. Abby needs the job so she internally vows to behave herself while taking care of young Jacob. However, she loses her good intentions of prime and proper deportment at their first meeting when in the rain she had to walk fifteen miles because he failed to arrange for a carriage to transport her to his abode. He thinks the wet female wants a tryst until she informs Elliot she is the governess.
Elliot is attracted to the intelligent, diligent and feisty governess. Abby is attracted to the intelligent, brooding and enigmatic Earl. As they begin to fall in love, she hears stories about Elliot's mom and wife, but needs to know what caused the dark emotional chains he carries that has him in knots. However, Abby is unaware that someone watches them; which places her in danger.

This is an entertaining throwback to the Virginia Holt legendary Gothic tales as Tiffany Clare employs all the elements from the innocent female, to the foreboding castle to the brooding hero inside a romantic suspense thriller. Abby and Elliot are terrific lead characters while the support cast especially his son, the villagers, and her family make for a wonderful Victorian Gothic romance.

You're Next
Gregg Hurwitz
St. Martin's
9780312534912, $24.99

After being abandoned as a pre-school aged child and growing up in foster care, Mike Wingate has worked his way up from the ooze below the ladder of success to the top. He lives with his wife Annabel and their eight years old daughter Kat in Lost Hills near Los Angeles and runs a profitable contracting business.

The Boss Man sends two of his thugs William and Dodge to Lost Hills and threatens the Wingate family. They steal Kat's toys go the child's school to cause mischief, harass Mike and assault Annabel. The police ignore the two punks instead blaming Mike for something he must have done in his past. Mike turns to his only friend from foster care Shep the dangerous criminal. They take the fight to the two predators and their boss.

Although at first the assaults seem over the top of the Sierras (even to Mike), once he and Shep learn why the Boss Man sent his thugs, readers and Mike will know this super thriller is grounded. Fast-paved from the first attack to the final confrontation as Mike learns what lies and avarice can do to am unsuspecting person and his loved ones.

Iris Johansen
St. Martin's
9780312651213, $27.99

Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan stays with her lover FBI Agent Joe Quinn as he struggles to survive stab wounds in the intensive care unit of the hospital following a confrontation with killer Paul Black who remains on the loose (see Eve). While Eve holds Joe's hands, she reflects back to when they first met years ago on a child killer case in which her seven years old daughter Bonnie was abducted and assumed dead by all except her. Obsessed over bringing Bonnie home dead or alive, she risked her life then and has many times since.

Eve's adoptive now adult child Jane flies in from London; Catherine Ling meets her at the Milwaukee Airport where she explains how her search for her son began the events that have Joe in ICU. Black insisted that Bonnie's biological dad John Gallo killed his offspring; which Gallo never denied as he is unsure though he wants to believe he would not harm his child. Gallo remains free seeking proof in the Bayou that he did not murder Bonnie while Catherine Ling pursues him.

The second exciting Duncan personal suspense thriller rotates the related but not quite linked exhilarating subplots as if the well written book contained novellas since much remains nebulous with the audience anticipating the upcoming Bonnie tale to tie the saga together. Fast-paced even when sitting in a hospital room, fans will relish the middle novel as the key players converge in what so far is a great saga.

Slim to None
Timothy Sheard
Hard Ball Press
9780981451831, $15.00

In Philadelphia, union steward widower Lenny Moss works as a custodian at James Madison University Hospital. His is co-worker and friend Carlton knows Lenny has solved murder cases (see A Race Against Death). So when Carlton, hunting deer with a bow and arrow, notices a man dumping the body of a girl in Fairmont Park at one in the morning, he desperately calls and wakes up Lenny as he knows the trouble he could be in if he calls the cops especially with the meat he carves up in his garage from the animals he kills. Lenny tells him to dial 911 from a pay phone.

The next day the cops question Carlton as they traced him by his buying food at an establishment next to the payphone. Lenny investigates the dead girl who turns out to be hospital nurse Briana Lenny needs to prove his friend's innocence as Carleton is the prime suspect. However, as he finds clues the evidence he fears points to a lifelong friend. In A Race Against Death, the sly killer observes Lenny's sleuthing as he plans to eliminate Moss and Carlton since when it comes to homicide friendship means nothing.

The latest Lenny Moss medical amateur sleuth tale (see Some Cuts Never heal) is a super whodunit as the inquiry is enhanced by what happens in a hospital including administrative decisions that make no sense to the staff (ask Moose to explain). The story line is fast-paced and filled with dark hospital humor as Lenny and crew go about their job while he also works the investigation. With a strong mystery, readers will enjoy stopping at James Madison University Hospital as this series is one of the best.

Love Dies
Timothy Sheard
Hard Ball Press
9780981451855, $15.00

Rejected wannabe author Alex Germaine is an ambulance chaser of sorts. Alex hangs around divorce courts seeking special angry amoral clients; of which he seems to have plenty of choices. He offers those he deems wealthy and worthy of his services a chance to eliminate their odious mate via an "accident" for a fee of cash "collected" at slot machines in Atlantic City casinos so there will be no money trail to follow.

Since 9/11, Doctor Nicholas Andreas has studied death. Obsessed he diligently reads the obituary column every day; a section ne never looked at before the collapse of the Towers. However, Nicholas begins noticing an odd trend of accidental deaths to many wealthy people obtaining a divorce. Nicholas discusses it with his friend Stanley, a former Brooklyn cop on disability retirement with respiratory problems since he volunteered to work the residue of the Twin Towers collapse.

This is an exciting thriller starring an intriguing doctor, an ailing first responder and a for hire mercenary killer. Each in his way is different but all are obsessed over something. Action-packed as the streets of New York serve as the backdrop, fans will enjoy this entertaining mystery with an amusing lampooning of the book publishing industry to lighten the dark story line of what happens when literally Love Dies.

We All Fall Down
Michael Harvey
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780307272515, $24.95,

Two scientists inform the Chicago Mayor Wilson and Homeland Security agent Danielson that the "Canary" bio-warning device in a subway tunnel has detected a pathogen. Danielson uses the death of FBI Agent Lawson to force private investigator Michael Kelly to cooperate. He is blackmailed into serving as security by accompanying biologists Dr. Ellen Brazile and Dr. Molly Carrolton to the locale of the alarm to test and hopefully prove a false positive reading occurred.
Kelly has issues why HSD especially the FBI is not in the tunnels instead of a mercenary. However, they prove to late when a pathogen is released from a light bulb into the subway city leaving the potential to turn Chicago into a gigantic wasteland morgue. People begin to die while the Feds, state and city officials argue over what to do beyond quarantining Chicago. On his own initiative Kelly investigates which leads him to gangs and top secret labs where superbugs are created.

This is a great complex yet action-packed thriller with an incredibly dynamic last twist that never slows down as time is running out on the city. The story line grips the reader who appreciatively (from an armchair) accompanies Michael as he heroically tries to prevent a disaster from turning pandemic. The least Kelly investigation (see The Third Rail, The Chicago Way and The Fifth Floor) is a great tale.

Esmeralda Santiago
9780307268327, $27.50

In Spain, Ana Cubillas dreams of living in Puerto Rico after reading the diaries of her sixteenth century ancestor who accompanied de Leon in the New World. Ana finds a means to cross the Atlantic when she meets twins Ramón and Inocente who inherit jointly a sugar plantation in Puerto Rico. The brothers fall in love with her, but she marries Ramon in 1844. Soon afterward, she persuades the siblings the good life is at their Hacienda Los Gemelos plantation.

However, the island is not the tropical paradise of her dreams. As the American ideological divide heats up and threatens to boil into the Caribbean, she finds the oppressive heat unbearable and the feral land just outside the hacienda dangerously unwelcoming. Finally Ana is disturbed by the slave labor employed on her Hacienda. Still a romantic at heart, she sacrifices everything for her first and only love Hacienda Los Gemelos.

The underlying theme of this super mainstream story is similar to Esmeralda Santiago's autobiography When I Was Puerto Rican, which focused on having a foot on the island and one in NYC; this enjoyable tale likewise has a foot in real Puerto Rico and whimsically in Ana's romanticized Puerto Rico. Well written and very insightful, readers will relish this engaging mid ninetieth century look at Puerto Rico (and initially Spain).

The Gap Year
Sarah Bird
9780307592798, $24.95

Lactation consultant single mother Cam Lightsey earns a living by assisting moms with their first days of motherhood. Cam feels strongly her relationship with her seventeen year old daughter Aubrey is rock solid. However, the first erosion to the rock occurs when clarinetist high school senior Aubrey quits the school's marching band to spend time with her hero quarterback Tyler Moldenhauer. Tyler rescued Aubrey when she struggled with heatstroke.

Two days before Aubrey leaves for college, she vanishes. Frantic Cam panics over the safety of her offspring. She also faces the truth that her dreams for her daughter were her dreams. Unbeknownst to Cam, Aubrey, seeking freedom to be herself, has contacted her biological father who had joined a cult fifteen years ago.

Rotating viewpoint between mother and daughter, The Gap Year is an insightful tale as mom thinks how perfect her relationship with her teenage daughter is while the offspring thinks how caged she is. Both characters are fully developed as the reader obtains how each perceives their relationship. With a nod to the muses of Kahill Gibran's The Prophet as the parent is the bow that must free the teenage child-arrow, readers will enjoy this cautionary family drama.

J. Courtney Sullivan
9780307595126, $25.95

In 1945, former Navy officer Daniel Kelleher won a bet with a former shipmate Ned. To pay his debt Ned gives Daniel land in Cape Neddick on coastal Maine. Daniel and his pregnant wife Alice raise a family and over time the Maine estate becomes their summer home.

In the present, Alice the widower has become a drunk who holds court as she has since the Great War on the Maine estate as her family arrives for the summer. She internally rages over Daniel's death turning him into a martyr while their sexagenarian daughter Kathleen blames her for all their woes. Kathleen's sister-in-law Ann-Marie is an inane harmless doll belonging inside one of those dollhouses she collects. Finally there is the thirty something peacemaker, Alice's pregnant single daughter Maggie whose mom wants her to come to grips over what a baby means.

The cast is powerful as each of the four women seem real and different though they possesses a guilt streak longer than the East Coast as if it is part of their DNA. Daniel comes alive through how the quartet perceived him. Although the plot is somewhat thin, readers will enjoy three generations of females coming together as each seeks solace and redemption, but with Daniel dead none know how to commence achieving their respective salvation.

The Oregon Experiment
Keith Scribner
9780307594785, $26.95

Scanlon and Naomi Pratt changes coasts when they leave big city New York for small town Douglas, Oregon as he has a position as a professional mass movements especially radicalism. She had been a professional "nose" helping create perfumes until a car accident destroyed her gifted olfactory sense.

Three things occur after arriving in the Pacific Northwest that shakes up the Scanlon adjustment equilibrium. Naomi gives birth to their first child. Second she wakes up to the smell of mint as her nose is back. Finally Scanlon meets two radical locals at the Pacific Northwest Secessionist Movement, Clay and Sequoia. The former will turn the Pratt family life into a nightmare with his desires; while the latter will have Scanlon wanting her.

This is a great character driven profound look at idealism when a person confronts difficult to accept compromises that impact one's values yet are pragmatic and for the larger populace fair as Keith Scribner turns Ayn Rand upside down and the Tea Party into coffee drinkers. The Oregon Experiment is a thought provoking tale as readers will ponder when concessions for the better good are acceptable.

Daughters of the Revolution
Carolyn Cooke
9780307594730, $24.95

In 1968 in Cape Wilde, New England, The Goode School welcomes only male offspring of affluent families. As racial and gender barriers are under assault, headmaster Goddard "God" Byrd refuses to allow the other weaker sex entrance to his school.

However, a double shocker occurs through a typo when fifteen years old Negro female Carole Faust receives a scholarship. The school faculty, alumni, family members and students are divided over the brilliant radical girl while God is in a 24/7 rage. At the same time, Goode alumnus Heck Hellman drowns leaving behind his wife Lil and their little girl Ev who no longer meet the school's economic criteria.

This is a superb historical novel that focuses on the social unrest of the late 1960s with timely comparisons to the present. The cast is powerful as Carolyn Cooke insures the diverse opinions are handled with respect even that of God who may be an anachronism today but not then; as the author avoids caricatures. Satirically mocking the boomers whose good intentions reform has led to an outcome of the greatest economic division ever between the upper class and the rest in this country, Daughters of the Revolution reflects that the social reform movements of a past remain very relevant today.

Water to Burn
Katherine Kerr
DAW Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756406912, $7.99,

In San Francisco psychic Nola O'Grady works for a top secret government agency so secret the CIA never heard of them. She runs the Apocalypse squad whose mission is to support Harmony in the combat with Chaos across the multi-earths. Her staff consists of two stringers and a bodyguard spying for the Israelis. Having been successful in her last endeavor against the Chaos Masters (see License to Ensorcell), Nola and her bodyguard Israeli and Interpol agent Ari Nathan understand that was just one battle in a great war that crosses dimensions.

She is proven right starting with a strange wave coming out of nowhere that drowns a tweener child. The Prophet Reb Ezekiel, who ran the Kibbutz where Nola grew up, has been seen stalking the city; the problem with the sightings is Reb Zeke is supposed to be dead. On top of this on the personal front someone seems to be blackmailing Nola's brother-in-law. To Nola none of these events connect until she finds the core is the enigmatic Peacock Angel cult.

With a nod to DC comics Infinite Earths (before the "Crisis" and subsequent reinventions) Water to Burn is a terrific urban science fiction with fantasy and police procedural elements. The story line is loaded with action as Nola and Ari investigate strange phenomena in a world where other worlds collide and cultural anthology is the most important socials science (wonder what personality type some of these others would turn up under Myers-Briggs). Nola is a great protagonist holding the story line focused. However, the key is the Katherine Kerr universe that readers will enjoy exploring as long as the heroine and her bodyguard provide protection.

Citadels of the Lost
Tracy Hickman
9780756406721, $24.95

The Rhonas Elven Empire kept expanding using Aether magic to win battles and conquer countries and destroy the humans. They made slaves of mortals, manticores, goblins and other species using torture and other indignities while using magic to keep control of the slaves who love in a dream world. When the Aether Well in the Western Provinces fell at the House of Timuran the slave Drakis and others were free to remember. The people want to believe Drakis is the man from the prophecy who will gather an army and crush the disdainful Elven oppressors.

To prove his companions wrong, he takes them to a place where the dragons are to come, but Drakis knows that is a myth. He is shocked when a thousand dragons arrive and the group is forced to go through a portal. Drakis's companion Ethis shuts the portal and they figure out that they are hundreds of miles from where they were months ago. The journey back is filled with action, betrayal and warfare with the dragons playing a significant role. The Rhonas Emperor wants Drakis returned to him as he is the rallying point for 60,000 people who want freedom from the Elven odious yoke.

The latest The Annals of Drakis avoids second book syndrome as the story line stands on its own yet expands on the action and social cultures established in the first entry (see Song of the Dragon). Readers will be enthralled by the story line as the Rhonas Empire is similar to the Roman Empire with client states though there are differences especially involving how slaves are treated and other once free sentient species. Drakis may be the man of the prophecy but even if he is not he is bodacious as a leader seeking freedom for all. Citadels of the Lost is what epic fantasy is all about.

The Snow Queen's Shadow
Jim C. Hines
9780756406745, $7.99

Snow knows the risk she takes with a potentially dangerous spell, but obsessively feels the enchantment is worth trying in order to save her queen. However, instead of achieving her objective, her mom's magic mirror shatters. Worse a trapped demon escapes when the barrier containing the beast splintered into a seemingly zillion pieces.

Snow quickly learns why the nasty demon was incarcerated as the evil one releases hate amidst the people who begin loathing one another. As hostilities grows and to make matters viler and complex, each piece of glass has become a lethal magical weapon while Snow is fractured too. Talia and Danielle team up to try to find a way to trap the demon, save Snow and prevent a magical calamity.

The final Princess fairy tale saga (see The Stepsister Scheme, The Mermaid's Madness and Red Hood's Revenge) is a terrific ending to a strong turn of the Brothers Grimm even grimmer and somehow more charming series. The key to the ending is that Jim C. Hines ties up the overarching theme but does so inside an exciting story line as his three lead princesses have come a long way since discussing virginal sleeping beauties finding their Prince Charming at some inane ball.

Grave Dance
Kalayna Price
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451464095, $7.99,

Since her fight to the death with the sorcerer, Alex Craft the Grave Witch has taken a month of R&R. Part of her respite is to better understand and improve the use of powers as she has learned she contains Fae DNA. However, she is disappointed that her main lover Fae Investigation Bureau agent Falin Andrews is away; besides which the Fairy Winter Queen owns him as a loyal knight.

Back on the job, Alex investigates the remains of left feet, which is not enough for her to interrogate shades. She also is attacked by strange essences apparently put together by magic; she applies her skill to take the parts apart. Her other lover Death AKA the Reaper is out of circulation too. Though exhausted from her two efforts, Alex has no time to rest as something wants her dead and the Winter Queen demands a meeting.

This engaging romantic urban fantasy continues the maturation of the heroine on two fronts: her paranormal powers and her love triangle while both elements bring her to the attention of the Winter Queen. Fast-paced the story line is more a sub-genre coming of age set up book. Still fans will enjoy the Grace Dance as Alex misses the Fae and the Reaper in her life while investigating left feet and fearing her meeting with the Winter Queen who owns the loyalty of one of her lovers.

Dead Iron
Devon Monk
9780451463968, $15.00

The residents of previously dying Hallelujah, Oregon are euphoric that railroad tycoon Shard Lefel is bringing his train to the town. However, Shard wonders how many residents would shower accolades on him if they knew he is a nonhuman Strange.

The townsfolk are unsure why though they allude to his eyes, but most feel uneasy when near hunter Cedar Hunt. Perhaps the only residents who feel okay around Hunt are the mining lunatic Madder brothers, who have a penchant for finding silver even when intoxicated, which is most of the time. While Hunt is overwhelmed with guilt over his brother's death, Rose the foundling was raised like an indentured servant senses Hunt and the siblings are different than the rest of the town, but she is unsure how. When Hunt learns his sibling is alive, he wants to find him as he sees a chance for redemption; to do so he must locate the Holder possessed by a Strange exiled to Earth.

The first Age of Steam is a super old western fantasy as the good, the bad and the dead collide in Oregon in a town in which the human locals are ignorant to what walks amongst them. The Monk realm avoids the steampunk trap of too much scientific babble to create the world; instead the author makes the world feel real even with the dead reanimated, magical thingamajig nightmares, witches, the cursed, and the dead. They provide a stirring time for sub-genre fans in Hallelujah.

House Divided
Mike Lawson
Atlantic Monthly
c/o Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003-4793
9780802119780, $23.00,

Speaker of the House John Mahoney is in the hospital. However that does not mean his staffers enjoy a respite from their hard working, hard drinking and hard womanizing boss. For instance Mahoney's top troubleshooter John DeMarco wants to play golf while the boss is out, but instead learns someone shot and killed his hospice nurse cousin, Paul Russo near the Iwo Jima Memorial.

Paul's death is a shocker as he had no enemies as far as Demarco knew though he and his cousin were not very close. However, a second civilian is also assassinated. The national Security Agency thinks a rogue Pentagon cell is behind the murders. The NSA uses legal and other means to expedite the truth. Demarco soon finds himself targeted by the intelligence alpha soup groups from NSA to CIA to DSA to FBI and is caught in a security nightmare because he happens to be Russo's cousin who works for the Speaker.

The super sixth DeMarco political thriller (see House Justice) is a fast-paced entry as the troubleshooter is in trouble from legalized shooters as someone must take the fall. Once DeMarco concludes the espionage alpha soup crowd has placed a scarlet letter on his chest, the story line soars and never takes a respite. Readers will relish this terrific entry as Mahoney is sidelined while DeMarco is marked.

Happy Birthday
Danielle Steel
Delacorte Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780385340304, $28.00,

Valerie Wyatt is the leader of home decoration. She has a popular television show and several bestselling books. Everyone in the media wants her as a guest or interviewee.

Her daughter April works as diligently as her mom. April is a master chef and owner of a popular trendy Manhattan restaurant. She is pregnant carrying Mike Steinman's child, but is unsure whether to tell her lover or not. Besides the successful pair working extremely hard, they share in common the encroachment of an undesirable milestone birthday.

Jack Adams is a former NFL quarterback but retired a dozen years ago to become a diligent successful TV sports analyst. Women still want him, but as he turns fifty he feels his age after a night like none before leaves him in pain as if blindsided by a middle linebacker. He and Valerie meet and are attracted to one another.

Happy Birthday is an entertaining contemporary romance that fans of Danielle Steele will enjoy due to the two couples who garner reader empathy especially aging boomers. Although the story line is thin, readers will relish the birthday presents as two pairs of relationships are forged, but surviving intact for the next milestone birthday remains to be seen as each person's idiosyncrasies places some doubts on this occurring.

The Secret Mistress
Mary Balogh
9780385343312, $24.00

Sister to the Duke of Tresham Jocelyn, Lady Angeline Dudley wants a prim and proper gentleman as her husband after being surrounded by rakes. As she waits impatiently for Jocelyn to arrive, fiendish rake Lord Windrow assaults her; Earl Edward Ailsbury rescues her. His family thinks Lady Angeline is the perfect match for him; she agrees with their assessment.

No one asked Edward for his opinion. If they did he would reveal his secret love for Eunice Goddard. However Hurricane Angeline refuses to back away from her choice although she hides her doubts. He proposes but she demands passion and feels once she jumps his bones he will not be able to resist. As Angeline brings out the love and beast in her man, Edward brings out the need and desire in his woman.

The latest marvelous Mistress Regency romance (see A Secret Affair) is an amusing coupling of a rationalist with a romanticist. Edward cannot understand why logic fails to work in his dealings with emotional women while ardent Angeline cannot understand why her beloved remains prim with her. His behavior amplifies her insecurities. Fans will enjoy this comedy of errors as the proper noble and the spirited lady fall in love.

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb
Melanie Benjamin
9780385344159, $25.00

Her family encouraged dwarf Mercy Lavinia "Vinnie" Bump to stay out of the public's eye so as to avoid the stares and other rude behavior. Unlike her beloved also dwarf sister Minnie who preferred to a reclusive life, Vinnie decided to prove an adult woman in a body under three feet tall could thrive.

She joined P. T. Barnum's freak show and married her dwarf peer General Tom Thumb in the wedding of the nineteenth century so covered that the Civil War took a back seat to the gala. This enable both to leave the troupe as the celebrity power couple toured the world meeting monarchs and presidents and other leaders. However, the cost of her being extroverted is the impact on her introverted sister.

This is an enjoyable biographical fiction tale that focuses on the "perfect woman in miniature" who becomes a superstar while belonging to the elite of New York high society. The best aspects of the tale are the triangle relationships between the General, Vinnie and Barnum although that limits insight into the title character's global escapades and ignores her last four decades of life even with Vinnie's superego being stratospheric. Still Vinnie's lust for life makes for an engaging historical story as she tells her story with the world as her oyster.

Among the Missing
Morag Joss
9780385342742, $25.00

Near Inverness, Scotland, the bridge collapsed. Cars fell into the icy water leaving many dead. However, not all who died in the tragedy are actually dead.

Ron went to prison for vehicular manslaughter that left a pregnant teacher and several students dead. He obtains work with the salvage operation. On her honeymoon Annabel left her new husband Colin when he told her he wants no kids after she explained she is carrying his. She sold her rental to Stefan who was on the bridge with his daughter when it collapsed. Feeling survivor guilt Annabelle goes out of her way to meet Stefan's wife Silva who is unaware her husband and child were among the missing and assumed dead. Ron soon befriends the two women.

Although the survivor connection between the lead players seems doubtful especially the ties of the females, readers will relish this terrific character study. Each anxiously waits judgment day as the months drift by knowing that their secrets will surface. Ergo the anxiety in their stomach begins internally terrorizing them. This is a strong psychological thriller as the terror comes from within.

Killer Move
Michael Marshall
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022-5299
9780061434426, $24.99,

Bill Moore has a successful realty business selling condos in South Florida. He has a great marriage with a wonderful wife Steph who he loves. They live in a beautiful house in Sarasota.

However, Bill is more ambitious than Lady Macbeth and is upset that he is behind on achieving his BHAGs. He begins taking shortcuts. One morning Bill arrives at his office to find an odd black-colored card on his desk. On the card's surface is printed in white lettering: "modified." His perfect life begins to unravel slowly at first but picking up momentum as purchases he never made arrive against his credit card and an e-mail sent from his address though not by him leads to major trouble with his wife as the filed Modified contain pictures he never took. While Bill tries to find a way to fight back against the unknown Modified, John Hunter is paroled after spending time for a homicide. He seeks vengeance.

This is a gripping suspense thriller as the American dream turns into a nightmare for Bill. The story line is fast-paced from the opening scene in which the reader learns convicted murderer John did not do the crime and never slows down as his life is destroyed and Bill's is subtly going down the cesspool too. With innuendoes of the Straw Men involved (see The Straw Men, The Upright Man, and Blood of Angels) and with Bill's nuked life spinning out of control just like John's did, Michael Marshall writes a taut tale.

Betrayal of Trust
J. A. Jance
9780061731150, $25.99

Married couple J.P. "Beau" Beaumont and Mel Soames work for the for the Washington State Attorney General's Special Homicide Investigation Team in the burbs of Seattle. A video stars a smiling teen girl with a scarf around her neck; however, her smile is gone when the clip shows two males pulling the scarf strangulating her. S.H.I.T gets the investigation because the snuff film was found on a cell phone belonging to the fifteen years old Josh Deeson, grandson of Governor Marsha Longmire's husband Gerald Willis who has custody of the lad. Beau gets the lead because he went to high school with Governor "Old Mother Hubbard".

The two cops know Deeson has a troubled past with his mom dead from an OD and his father an addict. The teen denies knowledge of the snuff film, but the murder weapon is found under his mattress in his "Prisoner of Zenda" room in the Governor's mansions. Like his comments re the film, he denies knowing how the scarf ended in his school locker where he insists he found it. Beau and Mel as good cop bad cop put the pressure on him to tell them who the three other people besides the victim are. Deeson remains the prime suspect.

This is a terrific Beaumont whodunit (see Fire and Ice) that contains a strong police procedural while also focusing on troubled teen bullying, and related adult excuses and platitudes. Long time fans will relish the subplot involving Hank and Hannah (no giveaways as to who they are). However, it is the trademark homage to cops who try their best risking their lives to protect us that makes this a fabulous entry in a great series.

Meg Cabot
9780061735103, $22.99

Soap opera star Meena Harper had not believed in vampires until she was caught in the crosshairs of an Undead civil war (see Insatiable). Since she proved to have a special otherworldly skill to predict how someone will die the Vatican's Palatine Guard, whose mission is to eliminate demons, hire her. Her home station is Manhattan.

Meena believes that soulless vampires can love humans, but her vampiric boyfriend Lucien Antonescu died in an inferno. Her partner demon hunter Alaric Wulf disagrees with the redemption of vampires. However, the nasty Lamir vampire clan is taking a bit out of the Big Apple. Meena and Alaric hunt for the predators. Also with the teammates is charismatic priest Father "Padre Caliente" Henrique, who nether Meena or Alaric trust.

This is an engaging amusing urban fantasy starring a solid cast. Meena is the star as she has a tendency to see the good in everyone which can be a weakness when fighting evil demons or the Lamir clan. Alaric is a strong partner who believes in staking first and asking questions later as he sees the ugliness in everyone. With plenty of action intermingled with jocularity, sub-genre fans who enjoy a lighthearted frolic will want to trek Manhattan with Meena and Alaric as the guides.

All The Pretty Hearses
Mary Daheim
9780061351587, $23.99

The owner of Hillside Manor Judith McMonigle Flynn is upset and angry when her mother tells her that her husband Joe was arrested and taken away in handcuffs. Joe, a retired police detective turned private investigator was watching a man on a houseboat to see if the person was confined to a wheelchair or committing fraud. The insurance case closed when someone killed the target with a Smith and Wesson.

Joe's gun is the murder weapon, which obviously means he is the prime suspect. Judith knows something else is going on because Joe fails to ask for a lawyer and the police refuse to respond to her questions. To take her mind off Joe's problems, she works diligently to get her B&B ready for the Paine family gathering hosted by Judith who donated the weekend at the school auction bought by the matriarch of the clan. The various members don't get along and Zachery gets ill; his wife takes him home. In a strange twist, the body of the shooting victim turns out to be Zachery, which makes Judith wonder who the man at her house was. She starts sleuthing and learns secrets about Joe's predicament, the Paine activities and the ulterior motives of two families staying at the B&B. Teaming up with her cousin Rennie, Judith finds out why Joe is in police custody, which fails to explain why her B&B guests contain plenty of criminals who have tentacles into the state government.

As usual, Mary Daheim writes a great cozy filled with red herrings and false leads. A number of people at the B&B are using the place for reasons they keep secret, but Judith figures out who an innocent guest is and who has agendas. All The Pretty Hearses is a super amateur sleuth with great characterizations and a delightful mystery filled with red herrings and unexpected twists.

The Devil Colony
James Rollins
9780061784781, $27.99

In Utah, teenagers Charlie Reed and Trent Wilder explore a cavern filled with desiccated mummified humans. Amongst the horrid sight, the boys also find a gold-coated skull of a saber-toothed tiger. They report their findings. While Native Americans and scientists argue over the findings, archeologists remove the prehistoric artifact. However, instead of a simple excavation, the removal causes an explosion that leads to the release of a substance that erodes rock on contact.

During the blast, an archeologist is murdered; the police suspect Kai Quicheets a teen leader of the Native American protest group at the dig site who tossed the charges that caused the initial explosion. She turns to her Uncle Painter Crowe, leader of the Sigma Special Forces unit. His team uncovers a conspiracy that goes to the roots of the United States.

This is a great action-packed Sigma Force thriller (see The Doomsday Key) in which James Rollins ties together Jefferson, Mormonism and Native American lore into a save the world scenario. Fast-paced, Painter has to deal with the ooze released by explosion, his contrite niece and the "war" between the scientists and the Native Americans. Devil Colony is difficult to put down especially when the players converge.

Eyes Wide Open
Andrew Gross
9780061655968, $25.99

In Morro Bay, California, twenty-one year old Evan Erlich leaps off a rock to his death in what was an apparent suicide. Evan's father Charlie calls his younger brother Jay with the news. Though the siblings are estranged, Jay leaves his medical practice to go across the country to Grover Beach to be there for his sibling and his sister-in-law Gabriella.

Charlie tells Jay he had troubled Evan committed out of fear his son would kill himself, but does not believe the lad took his life. However the state released Evan just before he killed himself. Being a doctor, Jay believes the institution has negligence liability based on their releasing a potential suicidal person. Jay investigates his nephew's death and soon uncovers murky links to other questionable deaths and Charlie's 1970s relationship with cultist murderer Russell Houvnanian while the local cops starting with dedicated Detective Sherwood tell him to go home.

With an obvious link to the Manson murders, this exciting thriller starts off as a slow paced family drama as parents and an uncle deal with the suicide of the next generation. However, once Jay begins his resolute obstinate inquiry, the plot accelerates as he begins to find a horrific murderers' row which targets the Erlich trio.

Folly Beach
Dorothea Benton Frank
9780061961274, $25.99

On the surface Cate Cooper seems to be living the American dream. She lives in a luxurious house, drives expensive cars and wears designer clothing. Since her two adult children left the nest, she has time to ponder her situation in which she has no one except her sister to share her feelings of isolation with; not her husband or her alleged friends who are her spouse's clients.
Cate wishes for a different life. That is until her desire comes true when her husband dies. She is stunned to lose the house, the car and her friends. She learns he cheated his clients and cheated on her with a second family. Despondent and angry she visits her Aunt Daisy on Folly Beach, South Carolina where she hopes to figure out what happened to Cate Cooper, but never expected to connect to a dead woman who came here for solace back in the 1920s and 1930s.

Mindful of Karen White's On Folly Beach, which also rotates between two eras, but Dorothea Benton Frank's visit to South Carolina has its own uniqueness to the plot. The two subplots focuses on the lead women decades apart seeking to find themselves on a barrier island at a pivotal moment in their respective lives. Readers will enjoy this solid character study as Cate muses about what happened to her and her dreams while the one woman play starring Dorothy within the story line makes for a whimsical visit to South Carolina.

The Summer Garden
Paullina Simons
9780061988226, $16.99

Having survived the 1941 Nazi siege of Leningrad and Stalin's brutal response, Tatiana and Alexander were kept apart but with WWII over they fled the Soviet Union. They reunite in the United States becoming Americans. Accompanied by their son Anthony the duo decided to stay in Arizona.

The couple struggles to overcome the reality of being strangers in many respects to one another. Still they believe they belong together. As they learn who each other is, Anthony joins the army to fight for his country in Vietnam. When Tatiana and Alexander learn Anthony is missing in action, the former Soviet officer travels to Nam to find his son and bring him home to his mother.

This is a fabulous finish to the strong romantic trilogy of the two Russian expatriates. Their post WWII drama in the States differs from the harrowing danger of surviving hostilities including from their homeland as now the tsuris is personal. As the couple deals with battle fatigue, matrimonial problems caused by their separation, and their son's MIA status, readers will appreciate the end of their ballad as the Cold War becomes frequently heated. Using flashbacks, Paulina Simons provides an epic twentieth century saga (see The Bronze Horseman, and Tatiana and Alexander).

Inspector Singh Investigates: Bali Conspiracy Most Foul
Shamini Flint
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312596989, $25.99,

A bomb explodes in Bali. Singapore police supervisors see this as an opportunity to get Inspector Singh a Sikh out of their hair as they did with A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder case; though he has a strong record of solving cases. This time they ship him to Bali to assist the locals with their antiterrorism efforts.

Though he wonders if it is because he is a Sikh, Singh is confused by his being assigned to antiterrorism as his expertise is homicide. Richard Crouch's corpse with a bullet is found amongst the ruins. Singh and Australian Detective Bronwyn Taylor, also being stonewalled by her superiors, team up on the case in which he brings his homicide investigation skills and she her Indonesian language and cultural awareness expertise.

Although conceptually similar to Inspector Singh Investigates: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder, as the detective is "exiled" to another country, the freshness comes with the new set of cultural clashes. The protagonist, the Australian sidekick cop, the locals and the expatriates bring diverse backgrounds that Shamini Flint explores without fingering any as inferior. The whodunit is entertaining with a stunning climax and coda as Singh takes Bali just like he did Malaysia.

Brian M Wiprud
9780312601898, $26.99

In La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico Father Gomez Entropica shows wealthy womanizer Morty Martinez the finger of his ancestor de Salvaterra who lost it in defense of the monastery; the finger and a ring on it were saved, but the jewelry was stolen. The Father, seeing a picture in Forbes magazine of the ring, asks a favor that he believes the former Brooklyn resident can achieve. He wants Morty to visit sexagenarian Robert Tyson Grant in New York City to ask the billionaire to return a holy gold ring he wears to its rightful owner an orphanage in La Paz.

In New York, Martinez learns a lesson that he already knew that no good deed goes unpunished for a Good Samaritan. He muses about how he is one night from execution in Mexico after being caught in the crosshairs of several wannabe killers wanting Grant dead.

This is a zany jocular thriller over the top of Picacho del Diablo as told by the antihero while he waits execution in a Mexican prison. The support cast is certifiably loco as nothing goes right with Morty's quest. Part of the amusement is when Morty muses on irrelevant topics as his time counts down. This sequel to Feelers continues the misadventures of Morty the modern day Conquistador who is on the verge of losing more than a ring finger.

Killed at the Whim of a Hat
Colin Cotterill
9780312564537, $24.99

Thirtyish Jimm Juree feels euphoric that the Chiang Mai Daily Mail is about to make her the second female senior crime reporter in Thailand. However, her mother destroys her professional dreams when she sells the family home and business without warning. The matriarch moves the extended family which includes Jimm's retired cop Granddad, her body builder younger brother and her transgendered beauty pageant queen former older brother from the north to the south to Chumphon Province none of them has heard of. The journalist fears her mom might be going senile.

All is not lost when two skeletons of hippies are found buried inside an interred Volkswagen van. Soon after the farmer Mel Phumihan found the gruesome remains, someone brutally kills a Buddhist abbot with a monk and a nun the only viable suspects. Granddad mentors Jimm on investigations as she learns to dig beyond the surface layer of dirt.

Though he switches generations and locale from Laotian coroner Dr. Siri Paiboun (one could argue Granddad is the equivalent to Paiboun) to thirtyish Juree in Thailand, Colin Cotterill provides an engaging investigative tale that shines an intelligent spotlight on the country. Jimm and Granddad are a wonderful team as he teaches her how to conduct a proper inquiry. Readers will enjoy Mr. Cotterill's exciting investigation that is a family affair.

Death and the Maiden
Gerald Elias
9780312678340, $25.99

Due to inner bickering and a potentially devastating law suit filed by fired second violinist Crispin Short, the internationally acclaimed New Magini String Quartet seems on the brink of disbanding. Although the group has become dysfunctional outside the stage, they still perform well together while new second violinist Yumi Shinagawa has blended in nicely in performances.
The Quartet is booked to perform Schubert's Death and the Maiden at Carnegie Hall once they return from vacation. However, first violinist Aaron Kortovsky fails to return from vacation and the others learn that if Short wins they are liable to him for millions with their reputations shattered; Short demands reinstatement in three days so he can perform the Shubert concert. Blind teacher Daniel Jacobus investigates but becomes concerned when he realizes his former student Yumi is the slated maiden Death targets.

The third Jacobus amateur sleuth (see The Devil's Trill and Danse Macabre) is an entertaining whodunit with a surprising final coda. The inquiry is intriguing, but the story line is at its best when the focus is on the classical music scene. Although at times the plot slows down even with time running out in terms of the lawsuit, fans will enjoy wondering who plays first and second violin in the Death and the Maiden.

A Murder in Tuscany
Christobel Kent
9780312621025, $24.99

The body of the Director of the Orfeo Trust's Creative Arts Program retreat Leona Meadows-Mascarello is found near her wrecked car in a ravine. Apparently her car went off an icy road near Florence in what is obviously a horrible accident.

Private investigator Sandro Cellini recalls doing a background check on the ruthless Leona. Although struggling to make a living and having marital problems since his wife's slow recovery from breast cancer, Sandro sees discrepancies in what he knows. Over the objections of the program's board, the Orfeo family, employees, and current residents at the castle where the retreat is hosted, he investigates. His wife asks why he is looking into this.

The second Sandro Cellini Italian mystery (see The Drowning River) is a fabulous whodunit in which the sleuth finds a zillion suspects residing in or near the Creative Arts Program castle as just about everyone had the means, the motive and the opportunity. At the same time his personal life appears broken as his marriage nears collapse with neither Cellini knowing how to prevent what looks inevitable. Both subplots converge on the beleaguered Colombo like sleuth in this engaging investigative thriller.

The Brink of Fame
Irene Fleming
9780312575441, $25.99

In 1914, Adam and Emily Daggett Weiss own Melpomene Moving Picture Studios in the film capital of the world Fort Lee, New Jersey. Adam is on location in Flagstaff, Arizona filming a desert extravaganza while his wife rides the rails a week after he left to join him.

However instead of a hug and kiss to greet her, Emily arrives in Flagstaff to learn Adam lost Melpomene to their bitter nasty rival Howie Kazanow. Additionally rather than face the beating Emily would have given to her husband, he vanished with actress Agnes Gelert. Emily meets private detective Howie Kazanow, who obtains a job for her with movie businessman Carl Laemmle in Hollywood. He offers Emily a director's gig if she find missing star Ross McHenry. When she does, she is thankful Mr. Laemmle never mentioned alive.

The second pioneering film-making Emily Daggett Weiss amateur sleuth mystery (see The Edge of Ruin) is an engaging historical mystery. The story line is at its best when the focus is on pre- WWI Hollywood and its Eastern bigger counterpart Fort Lee. The whodunit is entertaining though the massive cast of suspects never allow any of the cast to move beyond the stereotypical Peter Lorre's spinster characterizations. Still fans of early Hollywood will enjoy Emily finds her groove on the other coast.

Chihuahua of the Baskervilles
Esri Allbritten
9780312569150, $24.99

In Manitou Springs, Colorado, Charlotte Baskerville owns the successful dapper dog attire catalogue business, Petey's Closet. Charlotte is stunned when she sees the late Petey her beloved Chihuahua. Needing confirmation that she is not going mad, Charlotte contacts failing Tripping Magazine who write about the paranormal.

Hoping to save the periodical that is nearing bankruptcy, the three person team arrives in Manitou Springs, home of a macabre coffin race, to allegedly investigate the ghost of Petey. Angus MacGregor the chief warns his two new hires, photographer Suki Oota and writer Michael Abernathy that regardless they are covering a "real" ghost story. However, none of the somewhat skeptical trio anticipates paw warning as they see Petey too. They also begin to find proof that someone wants Charlotte dead. While encouraging keeping their potentially paying "patron" alive, Angus reminds his team not to lose sight of the money, which is Petey's ghost real or not is irrelevant.

With a nod to Scooby Doo Mystery, Inc. this amusing Colorado canine cozy caper is a fun frolic. The cast including the residents of Manitou Springs are an eccentric group whose antics add amusement and at times over the top of Pikes Peak to the story line. Readers who appreciate a dog-gone jocular mystery will enjoy the first Tripper Magazine investigation.

One Dog Night
David Rosenfelt
9780312647995, $24.99

For six years, three months and twenty-one days, Noah Galloway waited in anguish for this moment. The FBI arrests Galloway for an arson fire that killed twenty-six people. He will miss his beloved Becky and their nursery school child Adam, but in some ways is glad the end is in sight.

A recovered drug addict, Noah asks Patterson, New Jersey defense attorney Andy Carpenter to defend him. Andy says no as he does not take many cases on and besides Noah attempted to break into his home sometime before the deadly inferno. However Noah uses the Tara card to retain Andy as his lawyer; before the attorney rescued his golden retriever Tara, Noah had saved the dog and arranged for Andy to adopt the canine. Although Noah believes he is guilty of the arson mass homicides, he insists he remembers nothing about the blaze due to his drug haze. As Andy plays the court to buy time for his client, his 'team" investigates what happened over six years ago.

This is a great legal thriller starring New Jersey's least enthused lawyer and his team of likable eccentrics who are crazier than usual. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the arrest is announced and never slows down until the final unlikely but endearing header. Series fans will relish one degree of Tara as the Retriever's first rescuer is legally defended by the canine's second rescuer.

Deadly Cove
Brendan DuBois
9780312566340, $24.99

Following on the heels of the Kursk nuclear power plant in East Europe, the owners of Falconer nuclear power station on coastal New Hampshire announce they will begin construction on unit 2. Thousands of anti nuclear energy protesters gather near the Falconer nuclear power station. Covering the demonstrations are various media including Shoreline reporter Lewis Cole who used to work as a research analyst for the Department of Defense. Someone shoots and kills the "face" of the demonstrators, local activist Bronson Toles.

Having learned the truth about his employment as a monthly columnist by the new bottom line editor affirming his distrust of government officials, Cole assumes a cover-up will occur. He investigates starting with a look into the life of Curt Chesuk who heads both the Nuclear Freedom Front and the pro-nuclear New England Trade Union Council. Cole also takes a deep look at the victim's family and other famous anti nuke protestors. As the demonstrations intensify in honor of Toles, Cole meets with Chesuk; unaware of the danger he places himself and his best friend Police Detective Sergeant Diane Woods in.

This is a great timely Cole investigative tale that grips readers from the moment Toles is assassinated and never slows with a cliffhanger that has excited readers waiting for round two wondering how Brendan DuBois will sustain the quality level. The story line is fast-paced but belongs to the hero who is pulled in two directions by a killer threatening the people he cares about if he fails to end his inquiry. Mr. DuBois is at his best, which says a lot as the Lewis Cole mysteries (see Primary Storm and Twilight) are consistently excellent.

Steal the Show
Thomas Kaufman
9780312546328, $24.99

Rush Gemelli asks D.C private investigator Willis Gidney to break into a warehouse in Alexandria. Gidney refuses, but changes his mind as business has been poor lately and he needs money to adopt the two-year-old abandoned girl Sarah he rescued from a fire. Gemelli believes Gidney will find film piracy inside the warehouse.

Just as he was told, Gidney finds an operation burning DVDs. Two Asian gunmen see him, but Gidney escapes. Gemelli blackmails the sleuth to assist his father Chuck, a former White House aide who is the Motion Picture Alliance Council chief lobbyist. Already feeling like a sucker, things turn worse for Gidney when Chuck's former partner is murdered with him as the fall guy while gangs want him dead.

This terrific private investigative tale uses Sarah to lighten Gidney's edge yet also makes the case that a hard-boiled single sleuth is not quite what social worker Walters has in mind for the toddler. Fans will enjoy Gidney's efforts to extract himself from the mess he has nose dived into (with talc all over him) as Thomas Kaufman provides an engaging DC noir (see Drink the Tea).

The Wild Hog Murders
Bill Crider
9780312641498, $24.99

The state of Texas struggles to control a regional form of swine flu as wild hogs run rampart destroying farms and much more. Mother and son Janice and Andy Chandler open up an animal shelter in Blacklin County where they welcome even hogs, which upsets their neighbors; one so much so the person leaves behind a slaughtered animal "Babe" on their steps.

Someone fails to pay for gas at a convenience store. Blacklin County Sheriff Dan Rhodes and Deputy Ruth Grady search in the woods for the culprit, but instead find a corpse. As the sheriff investigates the body, talk-show host Milton Munday wants Rhodes skinned alive, the anti hog vigilante mob wants his hide and bounty hunter Hoss Rapinski follows his every step. Meanwhile county commissioners blames the stoic sheriff for the hog problem while his wife puts him on a green diet and the most incompetent performing gang (Rapper and Nellie) has come back to cause trouble.

The latest Blacklin County police procedural (see Murder in the Air) is an excellent tale as Rhodes is at his clam witty best. The investigation is superb while the politicians play loose with the facts. Fast-paced with satire, slapstick and subtle humor throughout, fans will enjoy this jocular intelligent murder mystery as Texans are going wild over being hogtied.

Paul Doiron
9780312558475, $24.99

In Maine, Game Warden Mike Bowditch receives a call about a deer-auto accident on an isolated road. By the time Bowditch arrives at the scene, he finds blood on the road and the car nearby, but the woman and the deer are gone. Soon afterward the corpse of the female is found elsewhere.

Her case reminds Bowditch of one from several years ago when a jury convicted lobsterman Erland Jefferts of the rape and murder of a wealthy college student and sentenced him to life in prison. As Bowditch makes inquiries, State officials warn him to mind his business. However, his life is already in shambles as he has little hope to regain his lost relationship with his girlfriend Sarah so he does not care what happens to him or his in the tank career. However, what he failed to factor in is his below the radar investigation places Sarah in peril.

The second Bowditch police procedural (see The Poacher's Son) is an excellent Maine "mud season" whodunit. As Mike tries to regain his muddied personal equilibrium, he works a murky case that his superiors tell him to back away from for his own good. With a strong support cast and a troubled but dedicated lead, fans will appreciate this exhilarating tense regional mystery.

A Bad Night's Sleep
Michael Wiley
9780312552244, $24.99

In Chicago the Southshore Corporation Vice President Jen Horlache hires detective Joe Kozmarski to stake out their construction site where thefts of materials and equipment has been costly in terms of time and money. Kozmarski notices a gang loading spools of copper wire when a police cruiser stops. Two cops in blue join the loading line.

Kozmarski calls 911 and police quickly arrive. A gunfight erupts and the private detective kills one of the thieves, who like his burglar companions, turns out to be a cop. CPD Lieutenant Bill Gubman enlists his former police officer who was kicked off the force to go undercover and join the gang. However, Kozmarski soon finds the thieves and the honest cops distrust him, but not all of them want him dead; only some do.

The latest Chicago private investigative Kozmarski Noir (see The Last Striptease and The Bad Kitty Lounge) is a terrific gritty thriller that grips the audience with the opening shootout and never takes a respite as the beleaguered hero struggles to survive on the mean streets. Kozmarski trusts no one as cops and robbers have placed the Scarlet Letter of D for dead on his head. Readers will have A Bad Night's Sleep as this exciting tale is difficult to put down.

Death Toll
Jim Kelly
9780312573522, $25.99

Rookie West Norfolk Defective Inspector Peter Shaw and his experienced partner Detective Sergeant George Valentine, who worked with the former's late father, are assigned two cold cases. Almost three decades ago a, mixed race male vanished without a trace. The moving of a graveyard at Flensing Meadow Cemetery finds his remains on top of the coffin of homicide victim Nora Tilden a pub owner. The victim died from a trauma to his head.

The two cops also seek a ruthless killer in which Peter's father and Valentine failed to solve the case years ago when they investigated the homicides; in fact they fumbled the inquiry costing a potential conviction. That failed inquiry still haunts Valentine and Shaw's dad took it to retirement and soon afterward the grave regretting his biggest professional error. As the neighbors offer no useful information, more homicides occur.

This strong Shaw-Valentine atmospheric police procedural (see Death Watch) is a terrific character driven thriller as the two British detectives work a pair of murder cold cases in which the haunting one has heated up with new homicides. Fast-paced and vividly described, readers will feel the cutting cold of the West Norfolk coast although the investigations are difficult to follow. Readers will enjoy the second chance at redemptions for two good diligent cops although one is through his surrogate son.

A Bad Day for Scandal
Sophie Littlefield
9780312648374, $24.99

Kansas City based businesswoman Priss Porter returns home to Prosper, Missouri, aware of Stella Hardesty's reputation for dealing with spousal abuser; Priss demands Stella dispose of a murdered corpse lying inside her car trunk. Stella refuses. Without blinking, Priss shows Stella incriminating photos that could end her new fragile relationship with Sheriff Goat Jones and worse spend time in prison.

When Priss, her brother Liman, the dead guy and the flash drive containing the photos disappear; Stella knows she will soon be the prime suspect. Stella and her assistant Chrissy Shaw try to retrieve the damaging pictures, but run into a judicial problem and a Kansas City male escort service that may need their infiltration.

The eccentric cast makes for a wonderful amateur sleuth tale as Stella knows that any day is A Bad Day for Scandal. The story line is fast-paced from the opening pie and rolls sequence to the final denouement. Readers will relish this super regional thriller and seek Stella's previous Bad day capers (see A Bad Day for Sorry and A Bad Day for Pretty) as she and her assistant try to clean up the mess that Priss the tornado brought to town.

Canary Island Song
Robin Jones Gunn
Howard Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781416583417, $14.99,

Her husband Jeff died seven years ago, but Carolyn remains in the early phases of grief even as she has taken care of her sister and her nieces. Now with her aunt married and worried about her mom, twentyish Tikki lectures Carolyn to take care of her gracious self. Heeding her daughter's advice, Carolyn decides to leave San Francisco to surprise her mother Abuela Teresa on her seventieth birthday with a visit to see her in the Canary Islands.

It has been years since Carolyn has set foot in the Canary Islands. Once there after a warm welcome by her mom, she meets her one time summer fling from high school Brian Spencer. Still attracted to him, she wonders if he ever outgrew his beach bum lifestyle and at her age she also ponders if not whether that is such a bad thing anyway.

This entertaining islands romance (see Maui Moon) is owned by Carolyn who comes home to rejuvenate her life. The support cast including the Canary Islands enhance the theme of grief may be customized to the individual, but loved ones must be there to help the anguished one remember never wait for tomorrow what you can do today. Although the story line is thin following an expected route, readers will enjoy visiting the Canary Islands guided by Carolyn, Brian and Abuela.

The Second Messiah
Glenn Meade
9781451611847, $22.50

In a cave in Qumran near Jerusalem, archaeologist Jack Cane finds a significant Dead Sea scroll that mentions Jesus Christ by name. Jack is almost certain this parchment was written when Jesus walked the earth as it references his travel from Caesarea to Dora where he performed a miracle before being crucified there. Obvious to Jack this man was a false prophet as the two-millennium old document implies there were two messiahs.

Musing over the find he returns from a walk to learn someone murdered the dig director using Jack's knife; the scroll is missing. Determined to recover the parchment, Jack applies archeological investigative skills. Clues lead first to Syria and then the Vatican where a new charismatic American has been elected Pope. His Holiness plans to open up the archives to let people see the secrets hidden over centuries. While some groups want Jack dead assassinating anyone who assists him on his quest, Israeli police inspector Lela Raul tries to help him recover the scroll. Hidden in the shadows, a puppet master is using them to get the world to know the word of the Second Messiah.

The theme of this interesting thriller is when religion and politics converge; the effect is carnage in the name of the Lord. Jack is a sort of modern day crusader trying to bring the truth out into open; although veracity will shatter Jewish and Christian belief systems. The Pope believes the truth will strengthen the faith of the flock who are divided between radical fundamentalists and agnostics as the Church is left behind. Loaded with action, this fast-paced thriller takes reader on a fascinating journey from the opening discovery to the climatic discovery.

Lie for Me
Karen Young
9781416587644, $14.99

Martin Houseman and Tucker Kane are the co-owners of H&K Contractors. They were also related at one time when the latter was married to the former's daughter Margot. Tucker and Lauren Holloway are madly in love and making plans to marry when their lives change dramatically forever. Tucker entered the home where the mahogany wood he took down in an abandoned house to use in his business is at; he found the body of Margot but the wood and his hammer are gone. Detective Sherman suspects Tucker killed his former wife.

Tucker returns to the murder scene where he finds his bloody hammer. The Sheriff catches him holding the tool and arrests him. A desperate Tucker is out on bail and pleads with his fiancee to give him an alibi, but a heartbroken disillusioned Lauren refuses to lie. Almost immediately afterward he vanishes leaving behind Lauren, his daughter and his business. Months later Lauren runs into Tucker while flea marketing and when she sees him at his former partner's ranch, she begins to think Tucker is innocent especially when someone starts shooting at them. Tucker refuses to run any longer as the killer threatens the two females who he cherishes more than his own life. He and Lauren begin sleuthing.

Karen Young has written an exciting thriller with the second chance romantic subplot enhancing the suspense. Readers will root for the embattled lead protagonists caught in the crosshairs of a ruthless diabolical killer who framed Tucker and plans to murder Lauren. Lie For Me is a gripping one sitting read.

The Butterfly Cabinet
Bernie McCall
The Free Press
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781451611595, $22.99,

In 1968 nonagenarian Maddie McGlade is a resident of the Oranmore Nursing Home in Portstewart, Northern Ireland. A decade ago she promised to tell her last charge Anna a story of when Maddie was a young housemaid at the Oranmore Castle in 1892. Now pregnant Anna wants to know what happened to the girl who was her Aunt Charlotte though long dead before she was born. She asks Nanny Madd, the last living person who was a witness to what led to the death of her aunt and the incarceration for much of a year of her pregnant grandma (carrying Anna's mom).

Seven decades of concealing what happened led to the death of four years old Charlotte Ormond in 1892. Charlotte's rigid mother Harriet the butterfly collector was accused and convicted of murdering her daughter. The nasty woman insisted it was an accident, but no one believed her as she was a strict disciplinarian of her child though like her daughter pinned inside a glass prison just like her butterflies.

Based on a true event, this super historical thriller rotates perspective from Maddie telling her side of what occurred and the prison diaries written by Harriet but kept by Maddie. The former nanny explains her fears including of falling back into abject poverty while arrogant Harriet explains her frustrations of going from one prison to another and if freed from jail back to her family prison. Readers will appreciate this wry intelligent suspense summed up nicely at the end by Maddie when she muses that the Russians and Americans are in space while the Irish cannot travel from Belfast to Derry without killing someone.

Carte Blanche
Jeffery Deaver
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451620696, $26.99,

9/11 changed the world as international terrorist groups focused on civilian targets. The Bush Doctrine based on the premise of taking the global war on terrorism to the enemy led to the Afghanistan war in which agents like thirtyish 007 James Bond operated. However, Great Britain understood the Cold War agencies like M15, M16 and MOD remain critical, but not set up to deal with non-nation terrorism. Thus a new agency Overseas Development Group was created to take the war to the enemy using any technique necessary.

Government Communications Headquarters cryptographers decode electronic messages that affirm a major attack planned for sometime this week with thousands expected dead. M16 feels the center of the threat is in Afghanistan. A Night Alert assigns Agent 007 Carte Blanche to save lives. Bond knows the key immediate enemy needing rendition or death is the brilliant operational expert The Irishman, but stopping him will only delay the assault. As time runs out, 007 focuses on the Irishman, but also knows he needs to capture the money behind the pending attack. However, Severan Hydt has numerous refuse layers to protect him as he seeks international decay.

Avoiding the Fleming lite of recent Bond novels, Jeffery Deaver reinvents 007 in a contemporary world in which the Cold War is history. However, though Bond is modernized, trademark elements that denote the character and the espionage thrillers he starred on remain. Mr. Deaver includes the Bond girls with inane names (though the hero is more sensitive to their needs), the wheels, the drink, but he gave up smoking, the over the top of Big Ben villains, and Carte Blanch license to kill. However, as with the originals, it is the countdown suspense that makes Mr. Deaver's Bond a wonderful heir apparent to Mr. Fleming's Bond (except for purist Boomers who will say no to any doctoring).

A Young Wife
Pam Lewis
Simon and Schuster
9781451612721, $25.00

In 1912 wealthy businessman Sander DeVries arrives in Enkhuzen, Netherlands and hires the younger of two sisters, fifteen years old Minke van Aisma over the angry objection of her sibling Fenna, to nurse his wife Elisabeth as she is dying. Sander selected her because he believed she had the quiet toughness Elisabeth will need. He escorts Minke to Amsterdam.

A few hours after Elisabeth dies, Sander stuns Minke by proposing; he wants her to become his spouse and live with him in oil city Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina. Although frightened, she accepts. They travel across the Atlantic as Minke grows mentally stronger and becomes buddies with her husband's friend Cassian and Pieps a ship steerage boy. In Comodoro Rivadavia, Minke gives birth to a son Zef. However, her idyllic life is dangerous as her son is abducted while she carries her second offspring. Zef forces them to flee to New York, leaving behind her kidnapped child. He underestimates the will of a mother when it comes to her cub.

Based on the life of Pam Lewis' grandmother, A Young Wife is a superb early twentieth century thriller. Minke holds the story line together with her courage and caring. She and readers will be stunned once the truth is known as this vivid historical tale is a winning look at three continents in the first two decades of the previous century.

Carol Cassella
Simon and Schuster
9781416556145, $15.00

Medical doctor Claire and biochemist Addison met, fell in love and marry. Claire becomes pregnant but has complications. Addison invents a blood test to detect ovarian cancer and makes a fortune.

Thanks to his success the Boehning family moves to a posh Seattle neighborhood. Claire becomes a stay at home wife and mom to their daughter Jory while Addison continues his cancer research with plenty of backers. However, his latest cancer fighting drug fails during tests and funding goes with it. Claire and her teenage daughter move to a rundown ranch in Hallum while Addison seeks new investors and Claire looks for a medical position. With few opportunities having been out of medicine for fourteen years, Claire scores a job at a not for profit clinic where she meets Nicaraguan Miguela Ruiz. Soon all hell comes to the Boehning trio.

This intriguing medical family drama takes a profound look at the broken health care system in which money to a great degree buys care. Character driven mostly by Claire but to a strong degree by Addison and Miguela, Healer is a thought provoking thriller that will leave readers pondering the definition of the title.

Dreams of the Dead
Perri O'Shaughnessy
Simon and Schuster
9781416549734, $25.00

Lake Tahoe attorney Nina Reilly and Philip Strong share a tragedy. Two years ago, his son Jim killed his adulterous wife Heidi and allegedly murdered his younger brother Alex. Soon after the homicides, Jim vanished and was assumed dead (see Acts of Malice).

Philip informs Nina that he was finalizing the selling of his Lake Tahoe resort ski lodge but the sale was blocked in court allegedly by Jim who is apparently living in Brazil. Philip believes the affidavit is a fraud filed by someone trying to obtain his son's share of the receipts. Nina fears Jim lives and remains a threat to her family and friends especially when females associated with casinos are suddenly murdered.

The unexpected but realistic twists to this Nina Reilly thriller make for a powerful tale as Nina recalls what her then boyfriend prosecutor said when she defended Jim that. He believed the man was a psychopath who will go after her and her family if he is convicted. She believes he is back in Tahoe while her "protector" Paul von Wagoner knows someone stalks his former lover. Dreams of the Dead is a super thrilling twister.

Dick Francis's Gamble
Felix Francis
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399157479, $26.95,

After breaking his neck when he was a jockey, Nicholas "Foxy" Foxton became a financial advisor at Lyall & Black, a small but profitable investment firm. Also employed by the company is Herb Novak. The pair attends the Grand National when someone shoots Novak while Foxton stands next to him. Foxton does not know what the killer looks because he looked at the gun when the murder occurred.

Foxy is shocked to learn Novak named him estate executor and a beneficiary. He realizes Herb had a scam going on with internal gambling using his British credit cards to enable people in the United States to go on line to place bets. Pondering what he should do, Foxy decides he needs to identify the gamblers to end the betting scheme and locate the money Herb hid so he can pay off the estate's debts.

A client informs Nicholas that an investment brought to the attention by one of the Lyall & Black advisors is bogus as the so called bulb factory in Bulgaria is nonexistent. Foxy investigates the legitimacy of the claim, but someone tries to kill him. Running for his life though unaware why Herb's assassin wants to kill him, Foxy's lover Claudia has been diagnosed with cancer.

Talk about a chip off the old block, Felix Francis provides a winning thriller that his late father will be proud of. Filled with action and tense twists and red herrings, Nicholas holds the story line together as he is there for his lover and when danger stalks him, he goes to extraordinary lengths to keep his beloved Claudia safe as he does the unexpected.

Split Second
Catherine Coulter
9780399157431, $26.95

The FBI is stunned when the DNA of the Black Beret serial killer breaks the profile norm. First the psychopath is female and statistically very few serial killers are women. Second she is related to Ted Bundy.

FBI agents Dillon Savich, Lacey Sherlock, Lucy Carlisle and Cooper McKnight lead the hunt for apparently Bundy's biological daughter. At the same time Lucy's father just before dying informs her that her grandfather did not abandon the family; instead her grandmother murdered her spouse. Needing to learn what happened decades ago, Lucy moves into her grandmother's mansion in Chevy Chase, Maryland. As she begins to unravel the past and finds a strange ring, a trap fails ending up with Sherlock hospitalized and Dillon believing the female-predator they stalk is hunting him.

Although S to the second power in their sixteenth appearance have dealt with seemingly quadrillion serial killers, Ted Bundy's daughter brings over the top freshness by being a chip off the old murderous block as Catherine Coulter makes a case for naturing. The story line is fast-paced especially once the Feds realize who they are dealing with and never slows down as the audience anticipates a showdown between the offspring and Savich.

Very Bad Men
Harry Dolan
9780399157493, $25.95

In Ann Arbor, Michigan David Loogan is the editor of Gray Streets mystery magazine. He lives with Police Detective Elizabeth Waishkey and her daughter Sarah. Someone leaves a manuscript outside the Gray Streets mystery magazine office. The story line focuses on two previous homicides; that of Henry Kormoran of Ann Arbor, and Terry Dawtrey who he killed when he got him temporarily released from prison to attend his father's funeral after Lark murdered the old man. Those already actually occurred and a third is about to happen, that of Sutton Bell of Ann Arbor.

Elizabeth and David realize the link between this trio and author Anthony Lark is a Sault Sainte Marie bank robbery seventeen years ago. As Loogan investigates the disappearance of a reporter associated with the case and Waishkey tracks the serial killer, the raging paranoid Lark adds the editor, the cop and the daughter to his list of those needing his murderous attention.

The two L's Lark and Loogan makes this Michigan amateur sleuth mystery fun to read as the former is an intelligent but violent avenging killer and the latter works the manuscript as Bad Things Happen to Very Bad Men but he hopes not to a very diligent editor. Witty and filled with twists, Elizabeth sums up the investigations when she tells Loogan he knows how to charm people; readers will know so does Lark with a tire iron.

How to Seduce a Scoundrel
Vicky Dreiling
Forever Romance
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780446565387, $7.99,

In 1817 a rake of the first order the Earl of Hawkfield is shocked when his best friend the Duke of Shelbourne Tristan Gatewick asks a favor of him. Marc Darcett would do almost anything for Tristan, but he feels put out when requested to serve as guardian to the Duke's sister for the season. Tristan explains that his mother will be with him while caring for his bed-ridden pregnant wife Tessa (see How to Marry a Duke) and the females in Marc's family are with his Grandmamma who suffers from heart palpitations.

Lady Julianne Gatewick is attracted to Hawk, but assumes her regard is unrequited until he dances a waltz with her during the opening ball of the season. However, he busted her bubble when he simply walked away from her; making her the target of the whisperers. Julianne abetted by bodacious Lady Hester writes the outrageous A Lady's Guide to Enticing Unrepentant Rakes. She heeds her own advice to trap Hawk who arrogantly tells the rookies to stay away from her. As her temporary guardian he escorts her around town and sets the rules for her season's behavior, but she laughs at him except when he kisses her. SAs hawk falls in love but one dark secret keeps him from handing in his guardian hat to replace it with adoring husband hat.

This is a fun How To ... Regency romance as a scoundrel's code of conduct is broken once he dances a waltz with his friend's sister. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Shelbourne asks Hawk for a favor and never looks back. A subplot involving a young lad adds poignancy to an entertaining historical.

Dark Awakening
Kendra Leigh Castle
9781609418373, $7.99

A war between the immortals would devastate all sides yet combat seems imminent between the known bloodlines clans in the United States. Ptolemy Queen Arsinoe needs a human female seer who can lift the enemies curse and insure victory for her side. She assigns outcast Vampire cat-shifting Tynan MacGillivray to not return without the seer.

Eight futile months later, In Tipton, Massachusetts Ty meets finds Lily Quinn a psychic of sorts who assumed vampires were in books and movies only. Ty figures he will easily charm the mortal to accompany him, but changes plans when someone tries to assassinate her. He knows he brought the adversary to her. However, he has no time for guilt or for her refusal to go with him. As they flee, he realizes he is attracted to her and would give up his Immortal life to keep his Lily safe even as he notices she possesses the mark of a vampire unlike any of the clans.

The first romantic urban fantasy Dark Dynasties thriller is a superb fast-paced tale that grips the audience from the moment the lead couple meets in New England and never slows down until the final confrontation. Kendra Leigh Castle cleverly transports the Highlander historical clan disputes into a modern age vampire clan disputes. Lily is stunned with a sudden awakening while Ty is even more bewildered as he learns that love and desire are eternally more powerful than blood.

Tamed by a Highlander
Paula Quinn
9780446552363, $7.99

In 1678 Connor Grant left the Highlands to join the forces of English King Charles II. He pledged to his beloved Mairi MacGregor that he will return to her. While he is away, Mairi learns swordplay.

In 1685 Mairi is undercover at the English King's court. Her mission is to determine who has betrayed the Highlanders as families and whole villages have been murdered and destroyed based on religious persecution. She thinks Connor is one of the traitors especially after they meet at court. Still in love, he tries to persuade Mairi he has not betrayed his people. Meanwhile in the shadows the traitor watches both of them preparing to pounce if need be.

The latest MacGregor seventeenth century romance (see Seduced by a Highlander and Ravished by a Highlander) is an engaging tale that emphasizes the complexity of the Scottish-English relationships even with the Stuart dynasty sitting on the thrones of the entire British Isles. The story line is fast-paced as courageous Mairi banned by her father from coming home to fight goes undercover while believing her beloved betrayed his people and their love. This Highlander historical is terrific due to the battling lead couple struggling to identify a traitor in dangerous times.

Black Ties and Lullabies
Jane Graves
9780446568470, $7.99

After violating her personal pledge as a bodyguard with a one night stand with her client, Bernadette Hogan quits her position protecting Jeremy Bridges CEO of Sybersense Systems. He asks to return to her job, but she refuses as she believes he is heartless womanizer, which Jeremy knows is true. Besides she has no time for the immature lady's man as she cares for her mom Eleanor suffering with the early stages of Alzheimer's.

As he waits for her to come begging like all females do with him, Bernie learns she is pregnant. He adamantly tells her he will be involved raising their child. Jeremy's childhood was not a role model so he swears he will be a good father to his offspring as he needs to have his offspring know he is the dad. As they argue over what his role is to become, Jeremy wants the mom in his life too, but must overcome first impressions.

This is an entertaining at times amusing gender war as ultra responsible Bernie and the fun loving Jeremy argue over their unborn as she insists 1 and 1 equal a single mom while he claims 1 and 1 and 1 make a family. Eleanor brings the serious tone to the otherwise somewhat lighthearted tale with her slowly crippling disease in which she still knows what is happening to her but cannot prevent it. Although having his baby as a matchmaker has been used a googol number of times (see Karen Rose Smith's Baby by Surprise) contemporary romance fans will enjoy the battles between the bodyguard and her CEO client.

Degrees of Freedom
Simon Morden
Orbit Books
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780316125178, $7.99,

In Freezone his best friend AI Michael is trapped under the ruins of Oshicora Tower. Thus, though he has severe injuries all over his body that may never heal right, Samuil Petrovitch knows he must save his buddy. Samuil's biggest fear is not more harm to his battered body but instead the mental sate of Michael.

Meanwhile the world remains in peril from the CIA plan to save America at the cost of the rest of the planet. Also Samuil learns the New Machine Jihad that he killed apparently somehow still lives. Finally the killing Armageddonists who already devastated the planet allegedly have a nuke to further their objective to blow up Earth. To Samuil all that is business as usual as his biggest issues deal with his relationships with Maddy and Sonja.

The third Petrovitch futuristic science fiction thriller (see Theories of Flight and Equations of Life) is an exciting climax as the (should be exhausted by now) hero understands how many Degrees of Freedom he must go through to achieve his objective to live free or die. The story line is frantically paced as everyone converges on Petrovich except for interred Michael. Although Sonya's actions are so improbable, she subtracts several Degrees if Freedom from the Petrovitch Equations of Life, fans will enjoy this faster than the speed of light finish.

What Distant Deeps
David Drake
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781439134450, $7.99,

As the hostilities between the Alliance of Free Stars and Republic of Cinnebar have ended due to the great victory at Cacique, RCN Captain Daniel Leary throws a party to celebrate the opening of the Jared Hogg Community Hall. Attending the gala besides the neighbors are Signal Officer Adele Mundy and the Sissies who are the crew of the Princess Cecile. Cinnabar Intelligence Chief Bernis Sand is at the celebration. She informs Adele of a new mission for her, Leary and crew. Adele is to obtain information from Posthuma "Posy" Belisande, the younger sister of the Founder of Zenobia while on escort duty.

Soon after the party, Daniel transports Commissioner Brown, whose wife and daughter accompany him, to his assignment as the Cinnabar Commissioner on Zenobia. Daniels vessel is the Princess Cecile. An easy trip turns potentially ugly especially on a yacht and not a warship when third party barbarians want the war to heat up again.

This is an intriguing Leary science fiction tale as the hero of the triumph at Cacique has a new diplomatic role until late in the plot. Although much of the first third of the well written story line is slow-paced especially for a David Drake drama as What Distant deeps is more a social-political tale rather than the military in space action of previous entries. Still fans will enjoy this discerning novel while readers (except bullet catchers and their families) accept peace lacks the excitement of combat.

Jacqueline West
Dial Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780803734418, $16.99,

A few weeks ago eleven year old Olive Dunwoody and her absent minded mathematician parents moved into the creepy Victorian mansion of the late McMartin. Soon afterward, Olive managed to break the magic eyeglass frames of Aldous McMartin and bury the evil painting of Annabelle McMartin.

However, she has yet to rescue her friend Morton from his being a painting instead of a person. The tweener has not given up so accompanied by the three cats (Harvey, Horatio and Leopold) she diligently seeks clue to liberate Morton. Also joining Olive and her felines is the neighbor's boy Rutherford Dewey as she searches for the McMartin Book of Spells.

The second Books of Elsewhere is a tense thriller in which evil waits in The Shadows to pounce on the innocent. Olive is a great tweener as she holds the haunted mansion story line together with the capable assistance of the three feisty felines. Middle school readers will enjoy accompanying Olive and her retinue as they search for the tome that will free her friend while the malevolent mysterious McMartin brood try to prevent her.

Karen Robards
c/o Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781439183700, $25.00,

Attorney Allison Howard agrees to marry her lover Greg Sullivan. They race to her house so she packs a suitcase and has something to wear as they go to Vegas to tie the knot. Unknown to both of them, two runaways from juvenile institution Shelter House are hiding under the bed when Greg snaps Allison's neck. The youngsters flee from the house, but Greg sees them.
Jessica Ford is in court working a high profile rape case in which the accused is a senator's son.

While questioning the victim Tiffany Higgs, she suddenly admits to lying; saying she had consensual sex with Rob Phillips. The lawyers are so pleased with Jessica's win that she is transferred to the sixth floor working on a high profile layer's team. Secret Service Agent Mark Ryan returns into Jessica's life because one of the men who knew the First Lady's death was murder has been killed. Mark fears someone is tying up loose ends with Jess and him the remaining witnesses. He plans to keep her safe and hopes she gives him a second chance as several attempts on her life occur.

This legal thriller is filled with action yet readers get to know and understand the myriad of emotions of the prime protagonists. The key to exhilarating tale is that the readers senses the romance in the air everywhere the pair appears, but it is cleverly kept in the background of the suspense as a deadly assassin is coming for Jessica and Rob. With several other strong subplots that blend into the prime story line, Karen Robards provides a superlative thriller.

Jennifer Hillier
9781451625844, $23.00

Puget Sound University's Professor of Psychology Sheila Tao and her teaching assistant Ethan Wolfe are having an affair although she is to soon marry Texas financier Morris Gardener. Sheila needs to end the tryst immediately, but struggles to do so not because of some love for her TA. Instead she belongs to Sex Addicts Anonymous; something her fiance and her lover fail to know.

Ethan manipulates the human behavior expert by playing on her lust when they are alone and on her guilt when they not. The pair has been together for three months, but time has run out for Sheila. She abruptly vanishes without a trace and her suspicious fiance fails to gain any help from the Seattle police even though he fears foul play occurred. The affluent Texan hires a private eye whose investigation uncovers the ugly side of Sheila who finds she cannot let go of Ethan by just saying goodbye.

Creep is a fascinating yet terrifying psychological thriller mindful of the movie Fatal Attraction. Ironically none of the lead triangle comes across as nice though readers will empathize with the professor's addiction, which is deftly handled to provide insight to the condition while being the enabler to set the dysfunctional relationships. Although too much happenstance occurs, sub-genre fans will appreciate the taut tale wondering who amongst the Professor, the Financier and the Creep will be left standing.

Mystical Warrior
Janet Chapman
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781439159903, $6.99,

In eleventh century Scotland, Fiona Gregor was raped and died. For the next millennia she was a hawk helping her siblings heal fractured souls.

In the twenty-first century Maximilian "Mac" Oceanus the wizard returns Fiona to her former female human form. However, all those centuries she never lost the horrific memory of the brutal assault. Her brothers fear that Fiona not only has never moved on passed the attack but will be unable to cope with twenty-first century life. Still they feel they need to leave her alone to do so; like tossing a child into a pool to learn to swim. They arrange for her to stay in am apartment owned by a friend, former Afghan veteran now a New England lobsterman Trace Huntsman. When demons attack Mac, Fiona and Trace are caught in the crossfire.

The latest Midnight Bay Warrior romantic urban fantasy (see Moonlight Warrior and Dragon Warrior) showcases Janet Chapman incredible talent as she combines humor with suspense and romance starring two wounded warriors. The story line is character driven as Trace and Fiona find love but both understands she needs to find her land and sea legs after soaring for centuries. Their leisurely relationship pace is abruptly ended with the Big Mac attack. Mystical Warrior is a superb entry in one of the best urban fantasy series on today's market.

A Wedding Wager
Jane Feather
9781439145258, $7.99

In 1762 to inherit his late uncle's estate, Sebastian Sullivan like his two brothers must marry a fallen woman. Apparently his sibling Jasper has succeeded (see Rushed to the Altar). However, Sebastian frets that he has only one choice as he knows only a single fallen female Lady Serena Grantley, who he loathes for betraying him by leaving for the continent with her guardian her stepfather General George Heyward.

When Serena's mother died, Heyward wasted his stepdaughter's inheritance on gambling and women, and used her to seduce inane males to the tables. Now she and the General are back in London but nothing has changed including Sebastian wanting to marry her though his reason is different. However, the general has sold her to pay off his debts with only Sebastian able to save her

The second Blackwater Brides Georgian romance is a warm second chance at love tale starring a desperate sibling and a soiled dove. The subplot involving the devious amoral general adds suspenseful depth to what would otherwise be a thin plot; but also never explains why Serena left with her wicked stepfather rather than stay with her beloved Sebastian. Still the middle Sullivan story is a fun historical.

The Killing Song
P.J. Parrish
9781439189368, $7.99

Thirtyish Pulitzer Prize nominee Miami Herald investigative reporter Matt Owens feels disconnected from everyone because he rebuffed anyone who tried to get close to him. The only person he feels a tie to is his younger sister Mandy who is visiting him. On her last night in town, he takes her to a club, tragedy strikes when she disappears from the dance floor and her body found shortly afterward.

After Mandy's funeral, Matt listens to his sister's BlackBerry when he realizes one of the downloads is by the killer. The song is a clue to a previous homicide of an American woman in Paris. Matt goes to France but gains no information. When another American is murdered, Inspector Eve Bellamont joins forces with Matt as she has hunted this serial killer since she worked the first known case five years ago. Clues take them to London and Scotland where they learn of more murders. They travel back to Paris where they remain determined to end the killing spree even if that alienates local authorities.

A combo investigative thriller and police procedural, The Killing Song focuses on a creepy serial killer who will fascinate readers in a macabre way. Eve and Matt play off each other's strengths including turning their weaknesses into strengths as both share the obsession, which enables them to become friends rather quickly; though one must wonder what will happen to their friendship if the link is removed. Filled with action and a strong cast, fans of P.J. Parrish's Louis Kincaid mysteries will relish the new guy on the block.

Lord of Shadows
Alix Rickloff
9781439170373, $7.99

In 1815 in Ireland, Lady Sabrina Douglas leaves her feuding clan following the murder of her father to live at a cloister where the otherworldly Danu sisterhood has hidden the hybrid fae-human for seven years. Sabrina has become Sister of High Danu, studying the underworld, protecting and hiding the Others and also working as a healer.

A severely scarred male washes ashore in a near death state. She heals the body of man who suffers from amnesia, but feels a need to help him recover his memory and heal his soul. The Abbess names him Daigh MacLir who begins to recover his memories; as he does he feels an incredible out of control rage and has superhuman skills. Sabrina and her patient share past life memories as they fall in love, but fear they have done so futilely before. Yet Daigh risks all even his relationship with his beloved to defeat the evil that owns his soul because his Sabrina deserves no less from him

The second Heirs of Kilronan paranormal Regency romance (see Earl of Darkness) is an engaging tale with a mystery involving the haunting of Daigh. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the healer and the scarred male meet and never slows down as evil must be confronted. Although the use throughout the novel of a series of fragmented phrases enhance the foreboding dark atmosphere, this technique also makes the sentence structure feel off kilter; for instance the description of the rectory as seen by the lead male. Still fans will enjoy Alix Rickloff's latest entertaining Douglas clan saga.

A Lady's Lesson In Scandal
Meredith Duran
9781451606935, $7.99

Her dying mother stuns her poverty-stricken daughter Nell Whitby who works in a factory when she says go visit the Earl of Rushdon. When she does the new Earl Simon St. Maur is stunned at first sight and shows her why. She looks at a portrait of the missing heiress, Lady Katherine, daughter of the previous late Earl of Rushdon.

Simon offers Nell a deal. He will mentor her on proper behavior if she becomes his wife in a marriage of convenience so he can share in the wealth she would inherit. Ironically in spite of her looking identical to the lost heiress, Simon believes he is fostering a fake on Polite Society. However, he struggles to change her from pistol carrying slum dweller into an aristocratic lady. Worse he has fallen in love with his student who begins to question her first impression that her teacher is a scoundrel.

With a nod to Shaw's Pygmalion, Anastasia and Dickens, this great Victorian romance looks deeply at factory conditions, medical care for poor women and children, and shelter in the slums inside a warm gender battle. Brave Nell is more than arrogant Simon's match. With a terrific twist (no Dickens' pun intended), readers will enjoy the mystery of whether Nell is the lost heir or not.

The Vintage Vendetta
Ellen Crosby
9781451612790, $7.99

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 nice hotel that she can afford since she is the protegee 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 all 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 Vintage Vendetta is the valiant vintner at her best.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: The Burning Season
Jeff Mariotte
9781439160879, $7.99

On Mt. Charleston where McMansions abut the forest, a fire blazes. The Engine 42 crew tries to put out the flames, but a sudden change in the wind sends the inferno at the first responders killing all of them. In another part of Las Vegas, a dog brings home a human hand and starts chewing on it. Driving home from a fund raiser medic mogul Dennis Daniels, potential political candidate, is hurt by a roadside bomb. The three cases have in common CSI trying to determine who the respective responsible people for each incident are.

In the arson incident, CSI uses forensic evidence to track down the killer; they are surprised by the identity and why he did it. DNA leads to the person missing a hand. As for the injuries Dennis incurred, good old fashion police work solves that case. The death of the police officer at the hands of an unknown person without any motive or reason remains a mystery until CSI gets trace evidence that leads them to the cop killers who hide behind a radical fringe group at odds with another strange organization.

Like Lee Goldberg and Donald Bain, Jeff Mariotte writes exciting mysteries based on TV shows. The author understands the essence of CSI and the cast, which enables series fans to believe the inquiries are performed by genuine people working real cases. Especially well done is the smooth transition from one crime to another smoothly, which insures readers will not be jarred from the entertaining story line.

Under Fire
Margaret McLean
c/o Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765328144, $24.99,

Boston firefighters Jack and Andy charge through the black smoke as flames engulf the Senegalese market. They manage to get the owner, Amina and her fifteen years old son Diallo out of the inferno. However, someone shoots Jack.

The Boston Police Department arrest Amina as an arson-murderer. The detectives claim her motive was to collect insurance money since she was unable to make her mortgages. She shot and killed the first responder Jack to cover her torching of her store. Defense attorney Buddy Clancy convinces his niece, Sarah Lynch, who quit as a prosecutor after the fatal shooting of her lover, to defend Amina. Sarah has not been inside a courtroom in the four years since she left the prosecutor's office. The media and the politicians including the governor hang Amina, which leads to mobs wanting to lynch her. However, as the uncle and niece team begin to find counter evidence, someone needs to insure a conviction even if that means assaulting witnesses for the defense.

This is an exciting legal thriller in which racism plays a significant role in the story line; in fact the jury is purposely hyperbole so that from the left and right are accentuated; perhaps too much. Although implausible incidents occur too frequently detracting from the tale, readers will enjoy Under Fire as justice is not blind or black and white, it is gray as agendas, prejudices and baggage play key roles.

Cat in a Vegas Gold Vendetta
Carole Nelson Douglas
9780765327468, $24.99

Las Vegas Public relations guru Temple Barr receives the shock of her life when she gets a call from overseas. Her former fiance Max Kinsella lost his memory when he was injured by killers while looking for the evil Synth organization. Temple believed he died though he was actually an MIA. She picks him up at the airport and helps him settle in town. The next day Temple picks up her current fiance Matt Devine; he feels insecure with Max back from the dead.

To get her mind focused on something besides the two men in her life, Temple accepts commercial actress Savannah Ashleigh's commission to investigate who killed her dying aunt's handyman. While she works the case, Captain Molina is interested in finding the Barbie Doll killer dubbed that ever he left next to his victims. The room of Molina's daughter had one in it though she doesn't play with them. Temple finds a link between the two cases which puts her life in danger from a psychopath while her leading man Midnight Louie has her back.

This Midnight Louie feline sleuth is a terrific meticulously complex whodunit with several suspects keeping things interesting for an already emotionally overloaded Temple. Ironically Max insists Temple is not his type though when he had his memory he was madly in love with her. Temple wants Max healed but believes her life is with doubting Matt. As her personal life turns even more convoluted if possible since Cat in an Ultramarine Scheme by the three M males, the murder case in which she becomes a target seems mentally safer.

David Hagberg
9780765324108, $24.99

NOAA scientist Dr. Eve Larsen and her multinational team are conducting experiments to harness currents off the Florida coast in the Gulf Stream as a means to create a new cheap energy source. She believes she has developed the technology to reduce the reliance on oil, end global warming and eliminate monstrous storms; the world supports her research with trillions.

Contract killer Brian DeCamp enters the Hutchinson Island Nuclear Power Station with plans to cause a meltdown exponentially worse than Chernobyl. Former CIA director Kirk McGarvey, still grieving over the recent deaths of his son, wife and daughter (see Cabal), prevents the disaster from occurring. However, Big Oil has turned to the Gulf Stream experiment to insure that ocean current power fails.

McGarvey still grieves the deaths of his loved ones, but keeping Eve and her technology safe gives the dedicated retired agent a reason to return to the living as once a field operative always a filed operative. Action-packed from the onset and overall fast-paced though some stretches of the story line seem decelerated, readers will enjoy the return of psychologically damaged McGarvey as the Caribbean assignment allows him to move on a little though he will take to his grave the pain of the deaths of his wife and adult children.

Bill Pronzini
9780765325648, $24.99

Businessman David Varden hires San Francisco private investigators Jake Runyon and his nameless partner to find the first of his three former wives. Varden needs her to accept papers annulling their relationship so he can move on with his current fiancee.

Nameless finds the first ex wife, but she refuses to accept the papers and tells the sleuth to tell his client to go to hell and leave her alone. He delivers the message, which angers Varden, who stops payment of his fee and that the woman Nameless located is not his former spouse. Soon afterward Varden vanishes and his present woman hires Nameless to find him. At the same time, Runyon fears Bobby, the nine years old young son of his girlfriend Bryn, is being abused by the boy's father as indicated by a broken arm at the same time a nasty divorce between the Darby duet occur.

Rotating lead between Nameless and Runyon (as done in the Betrayers) provides fans of the long running series with two interesting dark story lines. Although both well written subplots seem over the top of Nob Hill with insuring the villains lack any redeeming qualities, readers will appreciate the efforts of the sleuthing partners to resolve matters their way.

Family Skeletons
Bobbie O'Keefe
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive
Waterville, ME 04901
9781432824990, $25.95,

Laurel "Sunny" Corday lives in San Francisco with her BFF Ryan who is starting a relationship with Marcus. She inherited a Victorian mansion to the north in Chester Beach from her late estranged father Franklin. However, Jonathan Corday, a cousin so distant she can't count the degrees of separation, also was named as a beneficiary. They meet when their cars collide on a narrow road and later at the mansion, but she conceals who she is from him because of a nasty crack he made to Sunny about Laurel being a twit with two ex husbands and tabloid star status.

Several assaults on Sunny occur that worries Jonathan and Ryan. They become further concerned when a baseball bat with dried body is found and the remains of a once buried skeleton surfaces. As the police investigate and the distant cousins fall in love, Sunny knows her late father's womanizing is the link, but is unsure how.

This entertaining thriller is a fun fast-paced tale as Corday Family Skeletons figuratively and literally appear. The support cast is solid while the lead protagonists are a nice pairing of starch and spice. Although Sunny's attitude after being shot at and pushed down a cliff seems to blase, fans will enjoy this exiting romantic suspense as the late Franklin's past haunts his daughter.

Killer in Control
Dorothy Francis
Five Star
9781432825027, $25.95

Marshalltown, Iowa Police Sergeant Kitt Morgan and her partner Hank Burdock were working a pet shot robbery in progress when one of the perpetrators pulled out what looked like a gun. Kitt fired in self-defense. However, with any shooting, an inquiry is conducted so she is placed on paid administrative leave. Rather than sit around waiting for the Civilian Review Board verdict and considering her late father's pride of never firing his gun while over three decades on the force, she takes up her sister Janell's offer to stay with her and her husband Rex at their Poinsettia B&B in Key West.

Janell asks Kitt to investigate the death of a guest Abra Barrie who washed ashore on the beach. The Key West Police Detectives believe someone associated with the Poinsettia killed the woman perhaps over her link to wind turbines. Kitt wonders whether the retiree, the gardener, or one of the music trio players is the killer. However, the only person caught lying about his alibi is her brother-in-law. When Kitt realizes Hella the retiree is a psychic, she asks her to help name the murderer only she is killed by the predator.

This an engaging Key West whodunit in which the Conch Republic owns the story line (see The Conch Shell Murder). The cast is solid especially with bringing to life Key West as does the siblings' inquiry into the Barrie homicide. Although Janell acts more like the experienced cop than her sister who behaves like a scared skittish kitten than a veteran police officer, fans will enjoy vacationing on Key West.

Thunder Moon
Richard Helms
Five Star
9781432825331, $25.95

Realtor and Prosperity‚ North Carolina Mayor Kent Kramer introduces highly regarded NFL draft pick Steve Samples at a party attended by the town's Police Chief Judd Wheeler and his girlfriend schoolteacher Donna Asher. Kent has rented a house to Samples and Pooler Pythons wide receiver Jermaine Coltes. Also new to the town is convicted sex offender Carl Sussman.

Not long after the gala, Jermaine calls 911 to report a murder. Someone viciously hacked Samples to death in what appears a crime of passion. With the help of the County Sheriff Webb, Judd investigates the shocking homicide. He finds two suspects, but both have vanished. First there is Ricky Chasen who hacked his father to death years ago and has been seen traveling with Reverend Alvin Cross; then there is the victim's missing twin brother Rusty. However to Wheeler's chagrin, the case will soon snake into a wider deadlier scenario:

This is an exciting police procedural that contains several supporting law enforcement subplots besides the prime homicide investigation. The story line is fast-paced from the opening eviction to the final immaculate interception. Wheeler is the focus who holds the plot together. Although fans might question why he did not seek help from other law enforcement with an experienced homicide detective, readers will not care as he methodically recreates the crime scenes as a diligent, intelligent and caring cop.

The Solitaire Ghost
Sylvia Kelso
Five Star
9781432825324, $25.95

In Australia, barrister Dorian Wild enters the elevator to go to her office at Lewis and Cotton when she sees the ghost coming through the floor. She drops the lunch bags she holds when the spirit places a miner's panning dish on her head as if she is a post. The ghost vanishes while the junior partner receives solace and doubts from her friends at a nearby bar.

Soon after her first paranormal encounter, Dorian's boyfriend Chris the geologist with a mathematical formula to expedite the location of mining sites dies in a questionable car accident. She inherits his model and learns of a hostile takeover of the company. Not one to sit idly by, Dorian investigates the ties between the Solitaire mine and late nineteenth century reporter Jimmy Keenighan, who covered the gold rush as he somehow travels to her time where they meet and are attracted to one another.

Book One of the Blackston Gold paranormal romantic suspense saga is a delightful tale that introduces a fully developed cast especially the heroine who holds the plot together. The story line is fun to follow as the life portrait of Dorian Wild that she laid out turns upside down. Although The Solitaire Ghost spends a lot of time setting the tone especially the golden link between the 1880s and 2011, which limits the plot even the time traveling romance, fans will enjoy this opening suspenseful act.

Take My Breath Away
Martin Edwards
Five Star
9781432825317, $25.95

Legal headhunter Dylan Rees asks his friend former lawyer-turned one time published author Nic Gabriel to meet him at a Westminster gala in which he will tell him about strange deaths. At the party, Nic sees a dead woman Ella Vinton seemingly searching for Dylan. A bit intoxicated Nic tries to prevent the tragedy, but is too late. When she finds a startled Dylan, Ella kills him and commits suicide.

Nic thinks back to about five years ago when womanizing Dylan dumped Ella who committed suicide soon afterward; he attended her funeral. Still in shock, Nic follows up on Dylan's comment about questionable deaths. At the same time changing her name from Cassandra and her hair color, Roxanne Wake, joins the highly regarded Creed human rights law firm as a paralegal only to find some of their practices ethically stunning. Soon Roxanne and Nic will find their paths converge in a deadly scenario.

With the Lake District police taking a breather, Martin Edwards provides a powerful psychological thriller that will stun readers with the two subplots and even more so when they merge. Character driven, the British legal profession comes across as amoral in which a life is irrelevant when it comes to taking care of the client as Roxanne learns with the Haycraft fiasco. Filled with twists, readers will be hooked when a woman from the grave commits a murder suicide.

Couple Gunned Down--News at Ten
Laurie Moore
Five Star
9781432825287, $25.95

In the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, the start of her new job as anchor at WBFD-TV is delayed as Aspen Wicklow needs to make bail for shooting a coyote attacking her pug. When she is released, her boss assigns Aspen the investigation of allegedly haunted Kirk House after a SWAT incident involving her. Intern Dainty Prescott (see Deb on Arrival--Live at Five) accompanies Aspen.

At the burned out house, the reporters meet Paper Cut a young female Goth. Paper Cut explains she is an undercover cop investigating the murder of a pregnant Goth girl and took the infant from the mother's body. At the same time, Aspen's boyfriend Sheriff Spike Granger begins his re-election campaign. His biggest mission is to insure no one escapes custody.

The entertaining News at Ten journalistic investigative tale (see Woman Strangled--News at Ten) is a fantastic twisting whodunit. Fast-paced on the anchor, inquiry and romantic fronts, Aspen makes the story line work as the twenty something reporter combines grit, fortitude and spunk. Having the star of Live at Five play sidekick intern enhances a delightful often amusing thriller. The plot grips the audience from the moment her boss accuses the heroine of being busted for indecency and being a dominatrix while proclaiming Dainty did a great job on TV due to being half naked. Readers will relish following the jocular News at Ten as Aspen works the mean streets of Dallas-Fort Worth.

The Truth Sleuth
Jacqueline Seewald
Five Star
9781594149634, $25.95

In Webster's Township, New Jersey, Kim Reynolds has lost her librarian job at the university due to cutbacks though it may have been her solving a homicide case at the school (see The Inferno Collection) as she wryly notes what happens to whistleblowers. Her boyfriend police officer fiance single dad Mike Gardner obtains for her a teaching position at Lake Shore Regional High School.

However her job at the school proves challenging as the acting principal, Henry Anderson, believes she does not have the fortitude to perform with her challenging students. The pupils are nasty while her peers are divided with some like Will and Shandra helpful, encouraging and cynical, and others like Morgana wildly nasty. Then the first murder occurs that she sees in a vision; as Mike's wife who deserted him and their daughter arrives seeking reconciliation and proclaiming she never filed the divorce.

This is an engaging paranormal amateur sleuth with one romance going on hiatus and another beginning while Kim changes jobs. More a character study than a mystery as the whodunit somewhat takes a back seat to the tsuris that piles on the heroine whose gift is not used enough compared with The Drowning Pool. Still readers will enjoy the Truth Seeker as Kim is forced to find herself with new employment and new relationships.

Hunter's World
Fred Lichtenberg
Five Star
9781594149603, $25.95

In Eastpoint, Long island, former Manhattan based psychologist turned syndicated romance columnist John Hunter is found dead. The initial verdict is suicide due to an overdose of pills. Looking around inside Hunter's house, Police Chief Hank Reed finds a hidden room containing sexually explicit portraits of local women including his wife Susan with the deceased and the dead man's journal. However, the Suffolk County Medical Examiner Gloria Wollinksy informs Reed his friend Hunter was murdered.

The cop fears his wife may be the killer and already somewhat estranged though living together, after a spat he leaves. Also in several of the paintings is married waitress Sheryl Murphy. As he continues his inquiries, the townsfolk demand he stop his investigation as most believe Hunter got what he deserved.

This super police procedural focuses more on Reed's lament as he fears his spouse or a friend is the killer of the town's most infamous personality who was his buddy who he care for once but loathes the man now and even in death. The story line is character driven by the hero who also finds much of the townsfolk do not care who killed Hunter, which leave the police chief alienated with those he serves. Hunter's World is a well written tale as omissions lead to misunderstandings and in this case homicide.

Where Danger Hides
Terry Odell
Five Star
9781432825126, $25.95

Following an overseas operation, in Columbia, Blackthorne director Horace "Blackie" Blackthorne informs field operative Dalton he will stay stateside for now to cool down. He assigns the hot shot attending a gala to obtain information. While there a woman picks his pocket. Later Blackie informs Dalton that Miri Chambers, manager of Galloway House shelter, lifted his ID at the party and she needs help as some of her charges are missing.

Dalton wants to return to the field, but agrees to assist Miri though he doubts there is any issue except people leaving. He changes his mind when they learn two of her missing clients are dead. Furthermore his gala case and her missing people suddenly interconnect with her sister and brother-in-law caught in the crosshairs.

The latest Blackthorne thriller (see When Dangers Calls) is an action-packed over the top of the Sierras tale as illegal immigration and illegal drugs converge. The lead couple is a great pairing as each has a history they prefer hidden. Loaded with action, marvelous Miri and "just" Dalton make for a fun taut suspense thriller.

The Ideal Man
Julie Garwood
c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor
New York, NY 10014-3657
9780525952251, $26.95,

In St. Louis, trauma surgeon Dr. Ellie Sullivan works at St. Vincent's ER while also training residents; however, she leaves the hospital in a few days though the administration would agree to anything for her to stay. She begins her run in Cambridge Park thinking about her facing the ordeal of going home to Winston Falls, South Carolina to attend her sister's wedding to Ellie's former fiance and the possibility that Evan the maniac will be in town. Shots are fired and FBI Agent Sean Goodman is hit. Ellie stops the bleeding so the victim can be rushed to St. Vincent ER to finish saving his life. Agents Tom Bradley and Max Daniels thank her and question her, Ellie and Max are attracted to one another from the moment he learned she was the trauma expert and not a high school soccer player and she when she realized he had a self-deprecating sense of humor.

Cal and Erika Landry are the gun dealers who escaped the Feds; they try to kill Ellie as she saw their faces while Evan the psycho stalker is free from prison planning a return engagement with Ellie. Max arrives at the Magnolia State wedding to protect witness Ellie so she can testify against the recently captured Landry duet, known for killing or frightening away anyone who fingers them.

Although the suspense is over the top of Sassafras Mountain with two stalkings, readers will enjoy this entertaining contemporary romance due to the sassy observant Ellie. The fast-paced story line grips the audience with Ellie's trauma life saving work while also appreciating Max's dedication to duty and his smile. This is a wonderful tale of two delightful heroes in love.

The Nightmare Thief
Meg Gardiner
9780525952213, $25.95

In San Francisco reporter Evan Delaney (see Kill Chain) investigates the death of attorney Phelps Wylie as he finds some odd phenomena starting with the corpse found in the Sierras,. Needing help, Evan contacts forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett (see The Dirty Secrets Club) for help. Jo Informs Evan she will perform a psychological autopsy. She begins her analysis and she and her boyfriend Gabe Quintana visit the mine for further information.

In San Francisco, twenty-one years old Autumn Reiniger's father gives her a birthday present of playing an Edge Adventures urban reality game. However, a different group abducts Autumn and her friends, demanding her father CEO of Reiniger Capital hedge fund pay twenty-million in ransom money for their safe return. Gabe and Jo collide with the kidnappers and their six spoiled offspring of wealth.

The first collaboration between the leads of Meg Gardiner's two series is a terrific thriller though neither Delaney nor Beckett is the prime players. Instead spoiled overly indulged Autumn with her need to connect anyway she can with her distant dad is the star. Readers will enjoy this strong rescue mission attempt as even the affluent have emotional issues though it is difficult to feel much sympathy towards the six as money may not buy happiness but it eliminates the economic detractors that the impoverish face; which make happiness that much harder to obtain.

The Paradise Prophecy
Robert Browne
9780525952237, $25.95

At Trinity Baptist College in Harrison, Louisiana, Professor Sebastian "Batty" LaLaurie teaches Religious Studies and Rhetoric, but is on administrative leave due to a lecture that condemns God. A widower, he suffers from nightmares and has turned to alcohol to abate the pain of his wife Rebecca's death while acknowledging his beliefs were shattered when she died.
The State Department Section unit sends agent Bernadette Callahan to Sao Paulo, Brazil to investigate the burning death of Christian singer Gabriela Zuada. The locals swear the devil murdered Gabriela, but the American thinks a serial killer added her to the list of the dead. Needing expertise into the occult and Milton, Bernadette contacts Batty whose nightmares come from surviving a trek beyond. She shows him Gabriela's picture and he reacts stunned as she stars in his dark dreams with her death mirroring that of his late wife. The professor and the agent follow the homicides to Istanbul, but the potential Armageddon is in Los Angeles where Michael the Archangel walks the earth hunting down rogue angels harming the offspring of Adam and Eve, and Beliel and her three Fallen teammates meet.

With nods to Milton's Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, and to the Walken Prophecy movies, The Paradise Prophecy is a superb rendition of good and evil as the agents of God and Satan battle for the souls of mankind. Action-packed from the onset, Batty the "fallen" Milton scholar and Bernadette the pragmatic doubter make a delightful pairing as they argue over the clues starting with the toasted corpses that he insists come from agents of Hell and she insists the one doing the killing is a psychopath. Fans will appreciate Robert Browne's excellent thriller.

City of Ice
Laurence Yep
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765319258, $17.99,

In 1941 after their dangerous encounter on the Hawaiian Islands (see City of Fire) Scirye and her friends (Leech the orphan. Koko the badger and Bayang the dragon) chase after their deadly adversaries, evil sorcerer Mr. Roland and Badik the dragon. They know if Mr. Roland obtains the Emperor Yu's lost magical treasure, he will be nearly invincible; he already is very powerful as he seeks the second artifact.

In the Waste of the Arctic Circle where none leave, Prince Tarkhun and his daughter Roxanna join the companions on their quest. As their situation turns dire, Scirye asks for the spirit of the North to help them. When a giant polar bear arrives from nowhere, the companions hope the beast is on their side.

The second Scirye alternate history fantasy continues the non-stop adventures of the heroine and her friends as they go from the heat of Hawaii to frozen Waste of the Arctic. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and never slows down as the team with additional volunteers tries to prevent Mr. Roland from obtaining the second relic. Although adults will wish their were less of the teasing banter that seems to be a sub-genre requirement of a young adult fantasy, middle school children will want to join Scirye and her team as they traverse the iced tundra on their save the world quest.

Original Sin
Lisa Desrochers
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765328090, $9.99,

Luc Cain came from hell to collect Frannie Cavanaugh's soul while Gabe came from heaven to do likewise. Neither expected Frannie to have her own guardian angel Matt who was her twin brother before dying in childhood; or that Luc would fall in love with Frannie and shockingly give up brimstone for shaving cuts when her Magical Sway had him obsessed with being become human (see Personnel Demons).

As Gabe returns to heaven to avoid Frannie's temptation, raging King Lucifer exhales fire over the traitor Luc. He sends a demon horde to bring him the betrayer on a platter. More important to the ruler of Hell is to capture the essence that turned his former loyal follower into a mortal. While Matt has lost concentration because of his attraction to Luc's sexy next door neighbor Lili, the demons attack Frannie and her friends.

Rotating perspectives between the wins and the former demon, Original Sin is a delightful teen paranormal romantic suspense. Frannie is a terrific character whose magical sway has Heaven and Hell wondering what is going on. However Luc steals the show as he struggles with adjusting to human hygiene. Fans will enjoy encounters of the first kind between mortals and heavenly and hellish guests and hosts.

Chicks Kick Butt
Kerrie Hughes and Rachel Caine (Editors)
9780765325778, $14.99

With a nod to the Chicks Ahoy anthologies (edited by Esther Frieisner), Chicks Kick Butt is a fun urban fantasy collection starring strong feisty females. Many of the thirteen entries occur in the respective author's universe. Rachel Caine's "Shiny" stars a Weather Warden, her Djinn lover and a rookie fighting terrorists. Karen Chance's "In Vino Veritas" concentrates on the dhampir fighting Chinese gangsters. Rachel Vincent's "Hunt" focuses on rookie werecat battling predators. Lilith Saintcrow's vampire searches for "Monsters" but rescues a werewolf. In 1937 P.N. Elrod insists "Vampires Prefer Blondes" as a vamp and his nightclub dancing best gal battle an ancient bloodsucker. Morgan Kingsley knows what happens when the wrong type visit in "Nine Tenths of the Law" by Jenna Black. Cheyenne McCray's "Double Dead" is a Night Tracker contribution. Delilah Street investigates the "Monster Mash" in Carole Nelson Douglas' tale while L.A. Banks provides a vampire war in Wanted: Dead or Alive. Also Jeanne C. Stein provides an Anna Strong "Superman" short. Susan Krinard, Nancy Holder and Elizabeth A. Vaughan introduce their fans to new realms.

Fans of the various series that populate most of the compilation will enjoy the latest actions of these Chicks Kick Butt though the format size and the limiting serious theme does not allow much plot development or satirical skewering. Still these are fun light frolics as the gender bending females kick the butt of their opponents including males.

The Plain Man
Steve Englehart
9780765324993, $25.99

Many people thought Cheney ran the country during the Bush 43 presidency. However, that would be far from the truth. Instead the FRC cabal was in charge as Bush and Cheney were their puppets. With the election of Obama, the FRC had a few months to keep their power in place by strategically planting operatives in key federal positions. Seemingly as of June 2009 the right wing cabal succeeded.

Their only opposition comes from alchemists like timeless mortal Max August and Pam Blackwell. Max obtains reliable information from his computer hacking guru Dave that two of the nine heads of FRC (Michael Sainan and Diana Herring) are attending the Wickr festival in Arizona for a forbidden tryst. His plan is for him and Blackwell to use honey to get one of the leaders to betray the others. However, the FRC has a different scheme to force obedience as they understand domestic terrorism being behind much of it. They plan to blow up a nearby nuclear waste facility as a warning to those in the new Administration and concealed alchemists to obey; if millions will die so be it.

The latest August political science fiction thriller with fantasy elements (see The Point Man and The Long Man) is an entertaining thriller that will remind readers of Steve Englehart's comic book work on Doc Savage. The story line is faster than a speeding Superman as time is running out on mortal Max and his sidekick. Although the villains seem interchangeable, fans will enjoy the battles in Arizona and on a mystical plain, and the references to the Matrix of modern America.

Dry Ice
Bill Evans and Marianna Jameson
9780765324726, $24.95

Central east Antarctica is the location for TESLA (Terrestrial Evers Southern Land Array). Scientists work on cutting edge projects. Flint Argo Chemical established the facility for benign purposed and future profits. Narcissist sociopathic genius Greg Simpson, who designed TESLA, runs the place. Flint knows how to control weather, which he can customize to the client's request to help grow crops.

TESLA is his baby and his ego insists he is the only who can run the installation. When Flint executives realize Simpson has gone rogue and is responsible for horrific weather over the past few years, they replace him with Tess Beauchamp. He hates her because she refused to accept his abuse when she was his intern; instead she walked out on him. Before Simpson leaves the facility, he changes TELSA's computer programming so that an earthquake devastates Mexico City, killing millions and tsunamis to murder millions more. Neither Tess nor the other scientists can break into the system to prevent more calamities from occurring while the President plans to bomb the facility into oblivion.

This is an exciting thriller filled with so much action that readers will have no time to catcher our breaths. Ironically, the most fascinating character is insane Simpson, whose lack of remorse is mindful of Vader from the New Hope movie. Other players are solid like the first Hispanic female POTUS who has few options when it comes to TESLA and Tess risking her life to save millions. Bill Evans and Marianna Jameson write an enthralling thriller that grips audience who will not complain about the weather anymore.

The Knowledge of Good and Evil
Glenn Kleier
9780765323774, $24.99

Survivor guilt though he was only a child when his parents' died in a tragic plane crash years ago, Ian Baringer has spent the next couple of decades trying to contact them. Currently the former priest skeptically believes in the afterlife though his hope is weakening with years of failure to achieve his obsession. He works on the talk show Probing the Paranormal as an investigator while his lover agnostic psychiatrist Dr. Angela Weber is the show's host.

Finally reaching a breaking point where he needs to know either way, the OCD Ian decides to prove the soul survives the body dying by experiencing a near death incident. A shocked Angela who loves the troubled Ian pleads with him to no avail. Determined, he will prove the theory either way, but soon finds the secretive Ordo Arma Christi brothers want him dead before he conducts the experiment as this Order believe they must prevent Ian from biting the apple.

This thought provoking exhilarating thriller asks many questions about religious dogma, but is not limited to the afterlife as Glenn Kleier questions contradictions for instance between free will and forbidden fruits of knowledge. Ian is the key to the plot, as he suffers from survivor induced obsessive compulsive behavior that has worsened in reaction to his beliefs shrinking. Angelia is a loyal wonderful person who refuses to give up on the man she loves although she fears he is losing his mind to his obsession. The story line is fast-paced as the lead pair abruptly finds themselves being hunted by a cell who rejects the concept that man has the right to know anything about the afterlife.

Hot, Shot and Bothered
Nora McFarland
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781439155561, $14.99,

In Bakersfield, KJAY TV news shooter (photographer) Lilly Hawkins is known for her independence as she does not always heed her boss' orders. Currently, she covers the out of control deadly wildfire in the Sierra Madre Mountains. When the divers bring a drowned corpse out of the water, Lily ignores that as she is focused on capturing the inferno.

Her interest changes when she learns the drowning victim is Jessica Egan who Lily knew years ago as dedicated environmentalist. Now everyone who knew Jessica thought she was a party girl with a different man every night. Her brother calls Jessica a whore. Lily thinks Jessica was murdered because she could not have dived due to an injured shoulder. Told by her superior to concentrate on the blaze heading to the town of Elizabeth Lake, Lily investigates Jessica's life, but soon finds a link to the blaze and people who will kill again to protect their secrets.

This journalistic investigative tale is sharp and scintillating due to intrepid Lily. Her instincts and skills allow her to uncover the truth based on the assumption that the victim was not a loose bimbo. The support cast including the raging wildfire is enablers who turn Lily into a hero or perhaps the second corpse of a bimbo if the culprits have their way.

No Rest for the Dead
Edited by Andrew F. Gulli and Lamia J. Gulli
9781451607376, $24.99

The badly decayed corpse of San Francisco's McFall Art Museum curator Christopher Thomas is found in an iron maiden in the German Historical Museum of Berlin. All the evidence found by Police Detective Jon Nunn points at his wife Rosemary, whose fingerprints for instance were on the iron maiden. Convicted during a political election year, in 2000 Rosemary is executed by the state of California.

Over the next decade, Jon became convinced the wrong person was executed for the homicide. He began to find betrayal and lies amidst the Thomas circle in which others could have easily killed the ruthless Christopher. Feeling guilt for his role in the State sanctioned murder of Rosemary, Jon and one of the real victim's two friends Belle McGuire team up trying to prove an innocent woman was executed though politicians, the media and those in the Thomas inner sanction a decade ago want the pair stopped.

No Rest for the Dead is a super collaborative investigative thriller in which twenty-five authors contribute entries to this strong novel. The story line is fast-paced with a great late stunning twist as obsessed ex cop Jon and still loyal Belle investigate who murdered Christopher Thomas.

Blind Fury
Lynda La Plante
9781439139301, $15.00

An unknown female corpse is found at a gas station off the M1. The victim was raped before being murdered. Detective Inspector Anna Travis and her unit lead the investigation that appears to have been committed by the same predator that raped and murdered another unidentified woman and prostitute Margaret Potts.

Vile killer Cameron Welsh, who Anna put away years ago, sends her a note insisting he can help her solve the apparent serial killer case. She doubts he has anything useful to offer and prefers not to visit this odious beast; but Anna decides to see what the imprisoned predator has to offer as the investigation is going nowhere including the inability to identify the dead. Meanwhile her former lover Detective Chief Superintendent James Langton takes charge of the complex inquiry.

The latest Anna Travis British police procedural (see Silent Scream and Deadly Intent) is an excellent investigative tale, but not for readers who prefer story lines faster than the speed of light. Instead Blind Fury provides an incredibly detailed and profound methodical whodunit. Travis holds the investigation together as the prime focus of the plot; fans will recognize she has matured professionally to the point where she leads, but her personal life remains shaky at best as she makes poor choices.

The Vault
Boyd Morrison
9781439181829, $24.99

Gordian Engineering Special Operations Chief Dr. Tyler Locke was ten minutes into his commute on a ferry from Seattle to Bremerton when his cell phone receives a text message from an unknown caller whose words are answer his phone or die in twenty eight minutes. Locke responds to the person's next call when he says he planted binary explosives on the ferry and wants Locke to defuse it as a test to prove whether he can handle a special job; failure means death for him and the rest on board. He heads to a truck where he finds waiting for him is Chasing the Past TV host and classical languages expert Stacy Benedict who interprets the Greek instructions so he can defuse the bomb that he created from Archimedes' geolabe for Jordan Orr and save her kidnapped sister Carol and those on the ferry.

Solving the puzzle with seconds to spare, they learn this pretest is to prove they have a reasonable chance to find King Midas's lost treasure. To do so the pair will need to interpret the arcane Antikythera Mechanism's cryptic clues; another puzzling deadly device created by Archimedes over two millennia ago. Failure to find the loot in five days will result in loved ones like Carol being brutally murdered; success will save Carol, but cause mass destruction to others.

The above is just the opening act of an exhilarating action-packed thriller that hooks the audience from the first text message to the confrontations in New York and elsewhere. Readers will never look at the Hudson sediment in the same way as Boyd Morrison provides a taut thriller that never allows the heroes or fans to take a respite.

Hotel Bosphorus
Esmahan Aykol
Bitter Lemon Press
37 Arundel Gardens
London, W11 2LW, United Kingdom
9781904738688, $14.95,

Forty three year old German expatriate Kati Hirschel was actually born in Istanbul, but moved away with her parents when she was seven years old. However, Turkey felt like home for the single woman so she returned thirteen years ago and remained there since as the owner of a crime bookshop.

Kati's friend from university Petra Vogel the movie star is in town as the star of a film. They have not seen each other in about fifteen years but look forward to the reunion. When they meet once the Ministry approves the project, both are excited. However, someone murders the film director Kurt Muller. The police suspect Petra killed him as this homicide was allegedly the end of a romantic tango. Petra denies being the victim's lover or killer. Kati has doubts about her friend's innocence but investigates the murder at the hotel.

This is an engaging Turkish amateur sleuth in which the local culture and the city on two continents own the story line. Readers will need a leap of acceptance wider than the Bosphorus Strait that Kati makes inquiries and more so that the local cop shares his information with her. With the clues to the murder back in Germany, fans will appreciate Kati's witty tour of Istanbul to include her mental male stripping as she works the case.

The Samaritan
Stephen Besecker
Bancroft Press
PO Box 65360, Baltimore, MD 21209
9781610880091, $25.00,

When half Seneca Kevin "Hatch" Easter was nine years old, his parents died. He moved into the home of his shaman grandfather on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation. Hatch never felt at home until as an adult he met and married Karen. Hatch took a position with the Central Intelligence Agency and became a highly regarded Tracker.

He died figuratively when his wife and her sister Patricia Durante were murdered in a mob collection hit at Rudy's Tavern in the Bronx. Boss Tony D knows the stupidity of murdering two innocent sisters and a paying customer over 15 K, but worse his nephew collector Cercone left fingerprints on the throat of Easter. To satisfy the media and NYPD, he assigns Cercone to kill his triggerman Taliaferro to close the case. However, someone refuses to accept case closed. That individual like a ghost hunts down anyone remotely associated with the murders in the Bronx as this stalker feels an infinite degree of connection for those who must die. The police detectives Montroy and Philips worry about being killed; New York Post reporter Butera gleefully sees homicide as his path to superstardom; while the CIA fears one of their own has gone vigilante.

This is a terrific New York thriller that grips the audience from the moment the mob enters the tavern and never slows down as the corpses including collateral damage pile around the city. Although at times the action seems implausible, the suspenseful story line is fast-paced with a nod to the movie Die Hard, but also contains strong twists. Readers will appreciate this entertaining murderers' row.

The Naperville White House:
Jerome Bartels
Bancroft Press
PO Box 65360, Baltimore, MD 21209
9781890862916, $14.95,

In 2019 former White House press secretary Jerome Bartels seeks the truth as to what happened last year as too many anomalies have surfaced. The part time Radio Shack employee looks back to what occurred last year to set the record straight though he fears his manuscript will be censored.

In Naperville, Illinois insurance adjustor Jay Weise works during the day for NetHealth. At night and weekends Jay is POTUS. He and people around the world belong to The International Organization of Fantasy Governments with Jay being the President of the United States. Chief of counterintelligence John Sykes informs his boss that someone in his cabinet is a terrorist with plans for abducting other members. Weise worries that Sykes is mixing reality with gaming so he fires him, but everything his counter intelligence chief said turns out to be real as Al Qaeda terrorists hold hostage several Americans. They demand information on an alleged anti-terrorist biological weapon. Weise may have been roll playing but the enemy is not. While the other White House and Congress act impotently, Weise takes charge he and his cabinet try to stop the terrorists.

"The Naperville White House: How One Man's Fantasy Changed Government s Reality" is a whimsical political parody and an engaging thriller that will grip the audience once we readers adjust to the format and the concept. The role playing cast to include Weise and his middle class working cabinet seem like real gamers who adjust their role playing from virtual Nationizing to real rescue the hostages. Mr. Bartels' journalist account is a complicated tale that condemns DC power brokers as the role players pretending or divergent action (think of Contract with American - one passed and that was unconstitutional) rather than real solutions.

Deceived by Others
Jess Haines
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9781420111897, $6.99,

New York based private investigator Shiarra Waynest and her boyfriend Chaz the werewolf are vacationing in the Catskills. She was especially looking for 24/7 sex in their remote cabin. However, she knows his pack will spend the full moon howling with them as he hopes his clan accepts her though he fears most of his brood will be irate with Shiarra's professional association with vampires.

However, their alone time is disrupted when someone breaks into their cabin and trashes it. The culprit left behind several nasty notes filled with rage especially at Shiarra but also at Chaz for carousing with the enemy. Soon after a pack member assaults Shiarra and she learns her boyfriend has another female. Knowing it is time to go home, she leaves.

The third H&W Investigations (see Hunted by the Others and Taken by the Others) is an entertaining tale but feels like a transition set up novel as no major subplot is resolved. Still series fans will enjoy the fast-paced thriller that establishes several threads for future entities, which includes the lead couple having to deal with cross-species issues.

Give Me A Texas Outlaw
Jodi Thomas, Linda Broday, Phyllis Miranda, DeWanna Pace
9781420111736, $6.99

"The Outlaw" by Jodi Thomas. In 1852 Cozette Camanez's dying father gives control of the family ranch to his brother unless his daughter marries. She explains she has a fiance, but made him up. Due to his bumbling uncles, outlaw Michael Hughes is trapped at her ranch, but agrees to marry her so she can own the spread and he can keep his uncles from jail.

"Trouble in Petticoats" by Linda Broday. In 1878, Larissa Patrick's father hires gunman Johnny Bravo to rescue his youngest daughter kidnapped by outlaws. He goes out alone, but the victim's older sister Larissa follows him until he is forced to allow her to accompany him.

"Texas Flame" by Phyllis Miranda. In 1889 Ranger Ethan Kimble catches debutante bank robber Savannah Parker. Before he takes her to jail, she explains to him what led her to become a bank robber.

"Most Wanted" by DeWanna Pace. In 1888 Shadow Rivers owes a personal debt he pays off by keeping Odessa Kilmore safe from those who want her dead.

The latest "Give Me A Texas ..." western romance collection contains four fine diverse tales. Although the story lines are thin except for Phyllis Miranda's complicated "Texas Flame" sub-genre fans will enjoy traveling the Lone Star State with these outlaws and the women in peril who tame them.

The Naked King
Sally Mackenzie
9781420102550, $6.99

When Lady Anne Marston was seventeen years old, odious Lord Brentwood raped her. She concealed her humiliation and rusticated for the next decade. She only came to London for her sister's first season before a full retreat back to the countryside.

When Anne and Stephen "King of Hearts" Parker-Roth meet they are attracted to one another. A chat leads to a stunning kiss which is caught by the gossips so Stephen knows he must marry the glasses wearing beauty. He considers vanishing back into his pre King of Hearts lifestyle, but is conflicted as he is falling in love. When Brentwood threatens to expose Anne's secret, Stephen defends her, but it is Anne who must confront the malevolent beast if the she and Parker are to find happiness.

Although the characters especially the caricature of a vile villain Brentwood are somewhat stereotyped, readers will enjoy Sally Mackenzie's latest for the most part jocular and "Naked" regency romance. The story line is an amusing comedy of errors and love except when Brentwood the beast appears. Fans will enjoy the triangle with Lady Anne who is no longer just a defenseless abashed teen when Brentwood accosts her for the second time as she is emboldened to fight back by love.

One Night Scandal
Christie Kelley
9781420108781, $6.99

In 1818 England Sophie Reynard feels good about finding husbands for her four best friends (see Something Scandalous, Every Night I'm Yours, Every Time We Kiss and Scandal of the Season) due in part to her ability to see the future. However, the gifted matchmaker wonders about someone for her as she envisions no one.

Needing a change of scenery, Sophie travels to Venice. Someone accidentally knocks Sophie into a canal and Marquess Nicholas Tenbury rescues her. They are attracted to one another, but she goes back to London with plans to avoid him as she feels his future title needs someone more acceptable than an illegitimate like her. So when he proposes, she says no. With the help of her happily married friends, Nicholas begins a campaign to win over his beloved.

The latest paranormal Regency romance is a fun tale as stubborn scandalous Sophie and persuasive, passionate Nicholas make this an engaging historical romance as he convinces her friends to join his campaign to win her mind as he owns her heart. Readers will enjoy Nicholas and the returning lead characters as they play matchmaker to the woman who meant so much to their happiness. Though sub-genre fans will want to lecture Sophie to go for it, One Night Scandal is a warm entertaining romance.

Rapture Becomes Her
Shirlee Busbee
9781420118421, $14.00

American Viscount Barnaby Joslyn has no idea how he ended up in the Channel. Sea Captain Jeb finds Barnaby and brings him to the Crown tavern owned by Widow Mrs. Gilbert. Dressed as a man, very tall Emily Townsend knows the guest interrupted their smuggling that keeps her beloved great Aunt Cornelia and Widow stepmother Anne safe from their cousin Squire Jeffery Townsend. Jeffery wants the three women out of his house with his plan to wed pliable Anne to his odious business partner Ainsworth who needs a wife immediately or lose a fortune as his inheritance has a stipulation.

Barnaby knows something is not right with the tall boy near his bed while Emily realizes he is the American. Jeffery arrives raging so Emily escapes through a closet as the five Gilbert daughters delay him before he rushes into the room occupied by Barnaby. The patient gives Jeffery a hard time. Barnaby knows they are smugglers but he owes all of them his life. He will find a way to pay then back though Mrs. Gilbert demands his silence as the only remittance. Meanwhile he wonders who wants him dead besides Mathew and considers his other cousins Thomas and Simon. Barnaby finds Emily and Anne in distress having been run off the road. Barnaby protects the three females while attempts on his life occur even as he and Emily fall in love.

The lead couple is atypical of the sub-genre while the ensemble cast enhances a strong story line. The story line is loaded with action but though there are a couple of other possible suspects, the villain seems obvious relatively early. Still, historical romance readers will enjoy Shirlee Busbee's exciting thriller.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Whispers of the Ancients
Tamarack Song, storyteller
Moses (Amik) Beaver, artist
University of Michigan Press
839 Greene Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104-3209
9780472051069, $35.00 paperback,

"Whispers of the Ancients: Native Tales for Teaching & Healing in Our Time" is a triple award-winning, illuminated collection of many Native American wisdom-laden stories, some or most from the traditions of the Lake Superior Ojibwe traditions, also the indigenous culture of accomplished artist Moses (Amik) Beaver. In addition to the magnificent retelling of the collection of stories, "Whispers of the Ancients" contains many special keys and lodestones, guides to the full use and understanding of Native storytelling traditions; many of these are sacred and must be respectfully presented, conveyed, and honored. Thus we have introductory chapters on the Power of stories, the role of stories, the soul of a story, and body of a story, where stories come from, the role of a storyteller, and learning through stories. Much learning about the tradition of storytelling among indigenous peoples is presented by author Tamarack Song in all of these chapters of Part I of "Whispers of the Ancients." Part I is described by the author as "a celebration of the magic of story and the mystique of the storyteller. It brings you back to the time when listening to stories was considered a spiritual experience (p. xxvii)." Then part II of "Whispers of the Ancients" is described as "a feast of some of the world's most evocative and soul-touching stories (p. xxvii)."

The ensuing stories and commentary are indeed a stunning feast for the spirit and the mind, with spectacular visual interpretations by a master Ojibwe artist. Some of the stories originate from other indigenous traditions, but the are interpreted in light of the knowledge that all stories are one story, or originate from a common source. The stories in Part Ii are divided into 6 chapters, titled The Gifting Way, Self-Discovery, Winter Stories, The Guardian-Warrior Path, Seeing Through Different Eyes, and The Journey Called Life. Each story teaches more about a single concept, such as humility, in How Winter Came to Be Five Moons, or self-discovery, in Raccoon Helps Fox Find His Hunger. The skilled voicings of the narrative of each story is a particular joy of the storyteller's art that has to be experienced to be appreciated fully. In addition to the many levels and layers of sacred or special significance, traditions of listening, respecting the honored teller of stories, and other symbolic or real experiences in these pages, the reader will find a special source of light glowing at the heart of "Whispers of the Ancients." It is the preservation of an ageless, holy wonder, an awareness of the interconnectedness of all beings. May all readers of these tales find, like Fox, the true source of their hunger or emptiness, so that they may begin with proper respect, to replenish the spirit and the soul.

"Whispers of the Ancients" is an anthology of wonder, destined to become a classic for Native American studies, and to be beloved by children and adults of all origins who hunger for the truth. A helpful glossary of terms in English and also a glossary of Ojibwe terms is included at the end of the book for further clarification, in addition to endnotes on each chapter and suggestions for further reading.

Arranging for the Small Jazz Ensemble
Robert Larson
Armfield Academic Press
c/o Shenandoah University, Winchester, Virginia
9780979505140, $27.95,

Accompanied by downloadable MP3 recordings of musical examples at,, "Arranging for the Small Jazz Ensemble: A Step-By-Step Guide with Practical Exercises and Recorded Examples" is the practical director's guide to creating song arrangements for small jazz bands. Four original jazz tunes are examples used throughout the four-part, 18-chapter book to illustrate chord voicing concepts, use of instrumentation, and common song forms in jazz arranging. These include examples of swing, Latin, ballad, and blues styles of songs. The song examples are presented first as a written melody, then written with chord and harmonic progression analysis. Examples can be played on the downloaded music previously described. Chapters and sections evolve based on questions asked and answered within the context of the 4 examples. The four tunes, composed by the author for the purpose of teaching jazz ensemble arranging, are "Why Not Now," (swing example tune), "Sabrosa," (Latin example tune), "December Serenade," (ballad example tune), and "Finding the Groove," a blues tune introduced in chapter 17 to illustrate specific problems with arranging. Chapters are written in clear and concise language and examples of assignments are given. Although "Arranging for Small Jazz Ensembles" is a practical manual for songwriters and jazz arrangers, the emphasis is on the end result: "Getting your music played." The thrill of the chase in fine jazz arranging is alive and well and books like "Arranging for the Small Jazz Ensemble" are a welcome spark to aid new composers and musicians in getting started.

Manon: A Performance Guide
Mary Dibbern
Pendragon Press
PO Box 190, Hillsdale, NY 12529
9781576471661, $36.00,

"Manon: A Performance Guide" (from the Series Vox Musicae: The Voice, Vocal Pedagogy, and Song No. 7) is described as a "word-by-word translation into English, transcription into the International Phonetic Alphabet, and annotated guide to the Dialogue and Recitative versions of Massenet's Manon". In addition, "Manon: A Performance Guide" contains a list of plates (10 black and white illustrations/photos), a consecutive list of Arias and Duets listed by act number, a list of Melodrames (again consecutive by Act), a Foreword with an interview of Nathalie Paulin, a Canadian soprano who performed the role of Manon for Opera de Quebec and other opera companies, a pithy introduction to Massenet, an 'innovative collaborator,' a chapter listing features of the book and suggestions for its use, and a French Diction Concepts chapter. "Manon, A Performance Guide" is heavily footnoted and also features a Chronology and a Select Bibliography. As part of its complex history and evolution as a performance masterpiece of French opera, the translated libretto of "Manon" is presented complete with 24 pages of inserts presented consecutively, by Act and Scene. "Manon, A Performance Guide" is meant to be used as a helpful guide to both pronunciation and translation of the libretto in putting together a production of the opera. As such, it is an invaluable resource to singers, conductors, coaches, stage directors, and opera producers, as well as opera students and teachers. No. 7 in the Vox Musicae Series on The Voice, Vocal Pedagogy, and Song Series, "Manon, A Performance Guide" reflects a master's care with details of vocal production, pronunciation, history of the French opera art form, and more.

Introduction to Gospel-Style Piano
Thomas W. Jefferson
World Library Publications
c/o J. S. Paluch Company, Inc.
3708 N. River Rd., Suite 400, Franklin Park, IL 60131
9781584595151, $5.00,

"Introduction to Gospel-Style Piano" is a helpful workbook for the professional or accomplished amateur pianist/accompanist who desires proficiency in Gospel Style piano performance. Brief, succinct chapters are presented on Keyboard Styles, Chords and Inversions, the Gospel Beat, Changing the Meter, Syncopation, Chord Progressions and Harmonic Color, and Altered Chords. Each chapter features partial musical examples of first the original hymn or song and the gospel-inflected re-imagining of it. The pianist is expected to continue to improvise in Gospel style based on repeated specific musical examples. In conclusion, the author advises aspiring gospel pianists to listen to as much gospel piano as possible in both recordings and live performances, possibly in such church denominations as Baptist, African Methodist, Episcopal, and Pentecostal, where gospel music is commonly played as part of the service. The author adds specific performer's tips, including suspended chords, altered dominants, and swinging the eighths. "Introduction to Gospel-Style Piano" is sure to inspire new performers to stretch their musical repertoires as well as their musical genre flexibility with plenty of new, fresh, creative approaches to performance of gospel style piano music.

Mennonite Girls Can Cook
Lovella Schellenberg et .al.
Mennonite Publishing Network
616 Walnut Avenue, Scottsdale, PA 15683
9780836195538, $24.99,

"Mennonite Girls Can Cook" is a special cookbook collection by 10 authors of treasured, shred family recipes prepared by Mennonite girl cooks and bakers. Chapters are divided into categories of Breakfast and Coffee Break, Soups, Salads and Sides, Suppers, Breads, and Desserts and Sweets. A special page on Gluten-Free Cooking and a Glossary of Terms end the book, with a final note from each of the 10 authors. A stunning group endeavor, "Mennonite Girls Can Cook" contains recipes for such home classic favorites as Arme Ritter (or French Toast), Blueberry Scones, Eggs Benedict, German Pancakes, and Rhubarb Orange Sticky Muffins. Recipes are illustrated with color photos, and there is the occasional inspirational poem and meditational guide to add spiritual nourishment for the cook. Additional recipes include Chicken Enchiladas, Noodles, Meatballs, Tacos, Cottage Cheese Pockets and more. Recipes are simple and clearly presented, with ingredients listed first and measurements in both standard and metric equivalents. Though recipes are easily understandable, "Mennonite Girls Can Cook" is more of a cookbook for adults or older teens than for youngsters and novice cooks. Many cherished family recipes are carefully presented in a reader-friendly format that encourages experimentation and delicious results. Many special desserts are very tempting to try, as well.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

When the Scales Fall Off
B. E. Stafford
Tate Publishing
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781617774102, $12.99,

What does God want us to do to be worthy of his kingdom? "When the Scales Fall Off: Discovering the Truth of God's Word" discusses the reach for Heaven and the search for Biblical truth in our lives. With plenty of thought and much study of scripture, B. E. Stafford offers his perspectives on this critical question for many Christians. "When the Scales Fall Off" is a fine read with plenty to consider, highly recommended.

Banking on Conundrums
A.L. Hatley
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd -515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432767945, $14.95,

One's past never truly goes away. "Banking on Conundrums" is a novel following Paul Byrnes as he tries to right his path through life after spending an early part of it in crime. As he becomes a security guy for a bank, a heist occurs and he finds himself on the other side of the law years later, facing what he may have left behind. With plenty of twists and turns, "Banking on Conundrums" is a fine novel, very much recommended.

Two Chai Day
Irene McGoldrick
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450240383, $19.95,

When cancer makes you a widow, you have to find your own way through. "Two Chai Day: One Widow's Story About Living Beyond Grief" is Irene McGoldrick's story of facing life without her husband who has taken from her by cancer when she was only thirty six. Drawing on what he left behind to remember him by and the pressures of single motherhood, "Two Chai Day" will speak to many women who have lost their husbands and now must do it on their own.

It Is All Good and God is At the End
Ardie Cesario
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd, Parker, CO 80134
9781432766214, $14.95,

What lies beyond is not a question just for religious people. "It is All Good and God is At the End: Preparing For a Happy Landing" is a memoir of non-specific faith from Ardie Cesario as she discusses how she brushed shoulders with many in trying to understand death and dying, looking to the elderly who are closest to it for their own bit of wisdom as they draw near death. "It is All Good and God is At the End" is a fascinating read on the many perspectives we have on death.

Crooked Little Birdhouse
Patrick Caneday
Privately Published
9781453719084, $15.00,

Humans are creatures of unusual habit. "Crooked Little Birdhouse" is a memoir about anything and everything from Patrick Caneday as he offers his thoughts on the many unusual things we do throughout our life and what it means for us and our future. With plenty of stories and a good dose of humor sprinkled throughout, "Crooked Little Birdhouse" is worth considering for those seeking a bit of meaning woven into their irreverence.

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

Wined and Dined
Cricket McRae
Midnight Ink
Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.
2143 Wooddale Dr., Woodbury, MN 55125-2989
9780738723341, $14.95,

Cricket McRae showcases her mysteries around home crafts. Set in the Pacific Northwest, McRae combines her interests in soap production, canning, gardening, and a simple lifestyle to produce her Sophie Mae series. WINED AND DINED is the fifth, and Sophie Mae is firmly ensconced in Cadyville and is newly married to Barr, a homicide detective.

Cadyville features a wine making enterprise, and when Sophie Mae stumbles upon a set of audiotapes recorded by a now deceased counselor involving the wine making family, her nose for murder starts to itch. Husband Barr is not so enthralled with the teeny thread of evidence, but grudgingly accept Sophie's help. Sophie Mae takes the initiative, and quickly finds ways to introduce herself to members of the family. She also discovers that the therapist in question died in her thirties from an apparent heart attack. Something is definitely off in Cadyville:

"I really had a bad feeling about that last now. Because in Elizabeth's closet I had seen two very interesting things.

The first was shelves and shelves spilling over with balls and hanks, and skeins of yarn. That told me she had been a knitter, weaver, or hooker - some kind of fiber artist. That would be the 'collection' her cranky neighbor had mentioned. I knew exactly who would be interested in that stash, though. My friend and spinning mentor, Ruth Black. And it was quite likely Ruth could tell me more about Elizabeth as well. Knitters tend to socialize with each other.

The second thing I'd seen before being rudely interrupted was slightly more ominous. Tucked onto one of the fiber stash shelves were two bottles. Both had labels with the stylized Grendel design on them..."

McRae does a nice job on her little cozy mysteries. There is a real culture growing up around murder mysteries that feature food, wine, and, in this case, soap.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Nightmare At Camp Forrestwood
Kelli Sue Landon
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432770860, $12.95,

As we begin this read we meet, Holly Jenson. Holly's world has been turned upside down as her mother has moved them out of the town Holly grew up in. Now, miles away from her friends, Holly must face a new school and trying to fit in. That is not an easy task for anyone and unfortunately there are some in her new school that it make it that much harder. Holly soon finds out that the senior class is having a camping trip that her mother feels would help Holly to make friends if she goes. Holly agrees and leaves with the attitude that she will have fun, but what happens is far from that truth. As Holly and the group settle in mysterious things begin to happen. The phones stop working, the adults and some of the classmates begin to disappear and soon dead bodies begin to turn up. Not exactly your friendly camping trip by any stretch of the imagination. Now Holly and several of her classmates are taking on the fight for their lives. Who will survive?

I liked the charcter of Holly in this read. She was a level-headed young lady who seemed to have her act together. The author also did a great job with other characters by bringing in the usual clown, troublemaker, snobs, and loose classmate that we all have encountered in our growing-up years. It was a well rounded group. The story was pretty fast moving. I wasn't real thrilled with the sex act between one of the counselors and student, but I do know these things happen all the time. The mystery was pretty good and I liked the way the author ended it and who actually ended up helping the kids. All in all a good read that delivers.

Emergency Laughter - Hilarious True Life Medical Stories
Mike Cyra
Kindle edition

I love to laugh and when author, Mike Cyra, approached me for a review of his work I was glad. Mike has worked for over 20 years in emergency medicine and surgery. You may wonder how could someone who works in this field write a humor book. I say, how could he not! He feels laughter can help heal the mind and body and I definitely agree. Anyone who works in such a stressful job certainly needs to find the lighter side as much as possible. His book opens up this hidden world to the reader in ways that will keep you glued to the pages and bring you up front and centered to the action going on. What a ride!

I have often thought of what these men and woman must endure to 'save so many lives.' Sometimes it is not pretty and other times it can be downright hilarious. Written in a light breezy manner, Mike Cyra does an excellent job in bringing you right into the action, be it a time where a little girl must expel all her stomach contents or when an off the chart lady decides to use Mike as a punching bag. Ouch! I laughed myself silly and at times cringed, thankful that I was not the one responsible for getting them the needed medical help. I'm not sure I could have done it.

This is true, down to life stuff folks. Sometimes our author uses what some would feel are crude words, but considering the situations he is put in I think we can certainly overlook that fact. I believe my favorite story is the lady who had problems with her vines. Oh my God, how can this be true? But I know it is. Unbelievable! I laughed so hard at just imagining the look on both our author's face and the doctor. The way Mr. Cyra told the story was a kicker and really brought the visual to the mind's eye. Not real sure that was a good thing for this tale, but oh the laughs and the 'yuck' it brought to mind was top notch writing. I will surely never forget it.

All in all this is a great read. Mr. Cyra's line of work is certainly a serious one, and this book in no way diminishes that fact. However, thank God he is able to find the humor that helps relieve the enormous stress this job surely gives, and I am thankful he is sharing that with us. You will love this book and I promise you will definitely walk away with a smile. Very good job! Highly recommended.

The Evolution of Charlie Darwin
Beth Duman
Earth Voices Publishing
2512 Due Drive, Howell, Michigan 48855
9781461153894, $24.95,

I know several dog trainers and breeders, and being an animal lover their ways have always made me cringe. I never understood why you would have to train a dog the way they are training them. It seems cruel and not something I would ever put my beloved animals through. I was very interested to read what author, Beth Duman, had to throw into the plate on this issue.

I was very impressed to read about Ms. Duman and was very happy to see that she believes in positive training of animals. I sat down and read about the different challenges she had with certain dogs and how she overcame them. None of the training that she used was cruel but everyone worked. I was impressed. Many of the things I was told to do to 'break' one of my dogs from hurtful behavior was totally wrong. They never worked anyway and only caused tension between the animal and myself. I stopped after the first try.

There is so much information in this book and it is laid out in a way that is easy to read and return to at any given time. The topics are many but include such as: Your Dog's Brain (love that one), Treats, Foods & Other Yummies (I found this very helpful, chock full of information that I really needed to know), The Basics of Positive Training, and To tug Or Not To Tug? There are many more each one written in an easy to understand and follow way, full of information that you will use over and over again.

I love this book and plan to give a copy to every dog trainer that I know. They need this information for the dogs and their owners sake. Who wants a dog that only listens out of fear? I highly and I mean highly recommend this book to everyone who has a dog and has some issues with them that needs correction. Or just a new puppy that you want to get moving along the right path. This is a book written by a woman who has knowledge beyond anyone you probably know in this area. It will be especially useful if you have or are about to have a new puppy....but young or old your dog and you will benefit from this book. It is a MUST have for all dog lovers and trainers as well.

Thank you Ms. Duman for opening the eyes of many and blessing the lives of dogs everywhere.

Quasimodo On Skis
D. Eric Williams
PO Box 1037 Lewiston, ID 83501
9781460931974, $14.95,

I wondered what I would find in this book, the cover certainly caught my attention in a scary way. Great job! I love humor so I was ready to spend a few hours giggling and I was not disappointed. Our author, D. Eric Williams definitely delivered.

On the pages of this book you will find short stories of mishaps and adventures in life. You will be taken on a ski trip that was surprising in its own way, a new twist on staying fit at forty, and how about the road trip where everyone has to go potty at different times. You just gotta love it! The illustrations placed here and there really helped bring a visual to what you were reading and an added giggle or two.

I like to laugh, love stories about life that can turned around to bring joy, and this book delivers it all. A great book to relax, whittle some time away

When Lightening Strikes
Kay and Bobby Brunson
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781450555722, $14.95,

I don't think I have ever passed up a review request where I will receive a peak of Heaven. I was excited to receive this book and share with the author his Heavenly encounter.

I was not disappointed. Mr. Brunson had the adventure of a lifetime when he died. for 28 minutes due to a lightening strike, went to Heaven, and came back to share his experience. The story begins with out authors sharing some of their life, their family and their faith in God. It quickly proceeds to the event on that faithful day and continues with the Heavenly encounter and the struggle to survive for all the family once Mr. Brunson returns to our world. It is quite an adventure and certainly quite a challenge.

This is a wonderful book in so many ways. First, of course I loved to hear about my Eternal home. Although Mr. Brunson did not feel he could describe what he saw in Heaven to its fullest, what he does give us is the hope of a place where sorrow is forever gone, and peace takes its place. That in itself is worth the read. However, the message that Jesus wanted him to bring to the world was Heavenly salve to my Spirit and brought with it an unspeakable joy. All of us have those we love now living in their Eternity, knowing they are in total peace and happiness definitely quiets the souls of those whose time has not come. What an exciting feeling it is to know the wonder that awaits us on the other side. Well done!

I also enjoyed sharing with the family the struggles they all had to work through during Mr. Brunson's recovery. When something like this happens it touches everyone in one way or another.

None will ever be the same. The way Mrs. Brunson opened her heart to the reader with raw and truthful emotions was refreshing. I cannot imagine the burdens that were upon her. Truly God held her hand through all of this and strengthened her. She is a hero in so many way.

Mr. Brunson's honesty is to be admired as he tells us of his anger at returning to the world we live in. I understood his heart cry. Truly this is a work that every Christian will embrace, and for those who do not know the Savior, perhaps the words of this book will help you to discover the One who died for you.

Thank you to our authors for sharing their experience and encouraging a hurting world.

The Bunny With the Polka Dot Nose
Marguerite Rochelle Zangrillo
Illustrated by Louise Scutiero
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781436389662, $15.99,

There are many times when children do not understand why adults tell them they have had enough of a food they simply love. After all, they think, why should I stop now, it's just so yummy! Inside the pages of this warm and charming book, we meet, Buddy Bunny. Our little guy loves jelly beans, maybe a little too much. What do you think happens when Buddy finds a big jar in the cupboard? And just what are those 'things' that look like spots on his nose? And, on no! Why is Buddy sick? Will mom be able to help? Let's hope so.

This is a very sweet book with a story that every mother and child will experience. Our author, Marguerite Rochelle Zangrillo, gently unfolds the tale in a very loving way, that eating too much of something can hurt. As usual illustrator, Louise Scutiero, brings the story to life with her colorful illustrations. A very nice book with a lesson learned with love and understanding. Recommended

The Mouse that Turned Blue
Marguerite Rochelle Zangrillo
Illustrated by Louise Scutiero
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781450048385, $15.99,

In this delightful tale we meet a little mouse named, Maury, as he and his friends scamper through the house looking for food. Maury watched as his friends enjoyed different foods such as cheese and crackers, but he wanted something more. Suddenly, there it was before his eyes, a big blueberry pie! Unfortunately Maury ate like a little pig and what happened to him caused his friends to no longer want him around. Maury was all alone and sad. He didn't understand why his friends turned on him and didn't like him anymore. What was he to do?

This is a wonderful book as our author brings forth an important lesson. Children will learn that it does not matter what we look like or if something happens to change us in some way, we are still the same inside. They will see through the eyes of a little mouse, the hurt that rejection can bring, and the joy of acceptance. The illustrations are bold and colorful, following along well with the storyline, and they will definitely draw a child's attention into the story. A great book with a great lesson. Recommended!

The Amazing Adventures of Thomas and Erin with Grandad Market Day
John Vasey
Create Space
7290 Investment Drive Suite B, North Charleston, SC 29418
9781456411275, $12.95,

In this little book we meet Thomas, Erin and Granddad. Granddad wants to take the boys to town for Market Day, Unfortunately when they arrive Granddad remembers it is not Market Day. However, he turns the day around into fun as the three of them visit a bookstore and a flower shop.

This is what I call a 'tiny tale.' A short story that shows the love of a Grandfather for his grandchildren. The illustrations are simple, yet bring forth the story quite well. The story is not any great adventure, just the pleasure of being together as a family and sharing some simple things in life. Isn't that what life is all about?

The Day the Fortune Teller Died
Marianna Heusler
Mainly Murder Press
PO Box 290586, Wethersfield, CT 06129-0586
9780982795262, $13.95,

Isabella and her friends like adventure, there is no two ways about that. The three teenagers, Isabella, Vicki and Lauren seem to always get themselves involved in some strange circumstances. Now a new girl at school, Eva, is asking for their help. It seems a fortune teller named, Stella, has predicted that she may die before the end of the month if she does not leave town. Creepy. The girls decide they have to help Eva, after all, if they don't who will? And so their adventure begins, starting at an old building crawling with roaches....Yuck - and within a few days finding a dead body. Double Yuck! The girls get themselves into some strange and dangerous situations as they try to figure out who killed who and why. Also why would Eva be in danger, who would want to harm her, and just what did her dad have to do with all of this? Why was he upset that Eva had sold some old postcards, and just what were those strange drawings on those cards? What did they mean? Could the information found on them help solve the mystery? Exciting..

This was a really fun read, even for a grandma like me. The characters were very likeable, even humorous at times. I liked the way the author brought the girls familes into the storyline, giving the story more depth with some day to day activity. In doing this you got to know the characters better, like their personalities. Good job. The mystery was good as it had several levels that you had to unravel as the story progressed, and the author really did build up the mystery right to the end. I liked this book, it held my attention, had fun characters. adventure and mystery, and a great ending. It doesn't get much better than that!! Highly recommended. Nice job!

The Desperate Dad's Guide To Getting Some
Jackie Papandrew
Kindle eBook
No ISBN, $TBA 144 pages

I knew as soon as I began this read that I was going to love it. You see, I like authors that are not afraid to show life how it is, write about it, giggle about it and just plain live it. On the pages of this outstanding read that is what I found.

Author, Jackie Papandrew, takes everyday living, situations, and circumstances, and brings them to light that we, the reader, may pause and remember our own times with these situations, and than giggle away. How you ask me? Take the story of "It's Over." Okay, if you are married, or even if you know a man and yes, sometimes a woman, you know at a certain age those nose hairs are growing out. There is just no stopping them. Our author shares her husband's horror over his growing nose hairs, and time moving on. I laughed myself silly as I did in everyone of her stories, as she turns the upside downs in life into a mile of smiles.

Listen, life is not easy, every day we have choices concerning what is coming our way. We can laugh or we can cry. This work will help you to look on the lighter side and know you are not alone. Don't miss out on a read that will fill your heart with joy. whether it be growing older or just life in general, Jackie Papandrew has it covered. I recommend this book, a nibble a day will definitely keep the blues away. Very well done! Thank you Ms. Papandrew for bringing some sunshine into my life.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

The Healings
Privately Published
9780984615483, $16.99,

A man in his cat have much to learn from the world. "The Healings" is a blend of humor and philosophy from Oana, who presents a story of a man and his cat visiting many healers of the world and what they learn throughout their journeys. Thoughtful and hard to put down, "The Healings" is very much worth considering.

Fat Kid's Wolfy Revenge
Kristian J. Hanson
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd -515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432773151, $14.95,

A wolfman wouldn't be angst incarnate. It'd be quite nasty. "Fat Kid's Wolfy Revenge" is a horror filled with a bit of black humor as Kristian J. Hanson writes of a high school kid whose encounter with a werewolf turns friendly, but not in the way one thinks. Chronicling his new werewolf friend's rampage, he find the popularity that so long eluded him, in a particularly nasty and no-holds barred read. "Fat Kid's Wolfy Revenge" is a fine read that is very much recommended for teenaged readers who haven't exactly embraced the woe is me werewolf.

A Bullet for Two
Robert Strzalko
Privately Published
9781439276372, $6.95,

The pursuit of justice rings truer than any law. "A Bullet for Two" follows a union soldier who in an act of heroism finds himself a villain instead of a hero. With a new love, they are on the run towards Mexico, but the law may catch up to them, no matter how wrong it may be. "A Bullet for Two" is an exciting blend of adventure and romance, highly recommended.

Memory Lake
Nancy S. Kyme
Vantage Point
419 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10016
9781936467051, $15.95,

A good friendship is something that simply cannot be beat. "Memory Lake: The Forever Friendships of Summer" is Nancy S. Kyme's recollections of her own lessons learned as she delved into her times at a summer camp at Lake Michigan. A story of friendship and what remains for a lifetime, aimed at those who want to reflect on their own good times or want to gain an idea of what it's like, "Memory Lake" is a fine memoir, very much recommended.

Warrior from Adelaide
Richard Starrett
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781617772405, $21.99,

When you appreciate your health, you'll take it to its limit. "Warrior from Adelaide" is the memoir of Richard Starrett as he recalls facing a bed ridden child hood and when he reached adulthood with health, he embarked on a world wide adventure. Facing a radical medical procedure, he travels the world before finding love back home. "Warrior from Adelaide" is a fast paced and inspirational memoir, highly recommended.

Unlocking Potential
Hilderbrand Pelzer III
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd, Parker, CO 80134
9781432770273, $15.95,

Crime and Education come together more often than one would think. "Unlocking Potential: Organizing a School Inside a Prison" is a guide to prison based education to help those youths who are incarcerated not to lose their way from education and to help them turn around their ways for the future. "Unlocking Potential" is strongly recommended for those in charge of education of imprisoned youths.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

Wendie Blue
Robert D. Tribble
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave, South, New York, NY 10016
9780533149841, $7.95,

God is there, for the youngest and the oldest of us. "Wendie Blue" is a children's story and picture book from Reverend Robert D. Tribble as he writes of young Wendie Blue, who hears God's words in order to overcome her young loneliness and meets many intriguing characters and black and white illustrations.. For young Christian readers, "Wendie Blue" is a solid and very highly recommended read.

Jahaz Chronicles II
James Templar
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave., South, New York, NY 10016
9780533156542, $14.95,

Civilizations on the brink of destruction, it may be on one explorer to find the truth behind it all. "Jahaz Chronicles II" is the second science fiction novel from James Templar as he reveals the second chapter about Tag and Jahaz, or what we know as Earth and Venus. An explorer on both planets, Tagast is searching for civilization and may find that Jahaz, or Venus as it's known, is destined for destruction and their may be nothing he can do to stop it. "Jahaz Chronicles II" is worth considering for fans of science fiction.

Modern Disciples
Ian Anderson
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432772703, $15.95,

In every faith there is truth. "Modern Disciples" is a fantasy series set on modern Earth as Ryan Hunter soon learns the Greek Mythology he cherished was very much true. But so is the legends and mythology that everyone else follows, and a war between the god of the world and the Titans themselves may not end well for the mortal world. "Modern Disciples" comes with plenty of original ideas, very much worth considering for fiction fans.

The Scrolls
James W. Mercer
Privately Published
9780557973286, $24.00,

What science has the Bible left behind? "The Scrolls: The Missing Eighteen Years" is the story of Geologist Mark Malloy who is studying the traces of Biblical history in the Dead Sea region. As he finds evidence which may explain the lost eighteen years of the life of Jesus Christ. As those who want to keep these years a secret, he finds his work of geology suddenly gets a lot more dangerous. "The Scrolls" is an exciting novel of Biblical intrigue, highly recommended.

Ten Guardian Angels and a Tin Tub
Adalbert Krei
Tate Publishing
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781617399220, $14.99,

A childhood lost to the war machine. "Ten Guardian Angels and a Tin Tub" is a memoir from Adalbert Krei as he discusses his life where he wanted the wonderful things he dreamed of in the early days of his life from his tin tub and where his life led him as Germany enters World War II and he joins the army at the age of 15. "Ten Guardian Angels and a Tin Tub" is a moving memoir from Adalbert Krei, with a certain devotion in his writing that is genuine.

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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