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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 5, Number 12 December 2006 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cowper's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf Kaveny's Bookshelf
Klausner's Bookshelf Laurel's Bookshelf Shelley's Bookshelf
Shirley's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf Vogel's Bookshelf

Cowper's Bookshelf

Edwards Mill Cookbook
Betty Watts
College of the Ozarks
PO Box 17, Point Lookout, MO 65726

Every recipe compiled in the spiral bound pages of the "Edwards Mill Cookbook" has been kitchen tested by Betty Watts and represents the best that the Ozark country of Missouri has to offer. From desserts, pastries, cookies and cakes, to main dishes, quick breads, yeast breads, and more, these recipes are as healthy and nutritious as they are palate pleasing and delicious. From Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies; Onion-Cheese Supper Bread; Cranberry-Pineapple Muffins; and Garlic Spoonbread; to Cornmeal Yeast Rolls; Sesame-Wheat Germ Crackers; and Blueberry Pinwheels, the "Edwards Mill Cookbook" is an enthusiastically recommended addition to the family cookbook shelf.

Wildlife Harvest Game Cookbook
John M. Mullin & Peggy Mullin Boehmer, editors
Wildlife Harvest Publications
PO Box 96, Goose Lake, IA 52750
No ISBN, $24.95 + $5.00 shipping,

Compiled and co-edited by John Mullin and his daughter, Peggy Boehmer, "Wildlife Harvest Game Cookbook" is an impressive, spiral bound collection of recipes drawn from North America's hunting resorts and game farms. Enhanced with a description of game farms and hunting resorts; a 'Meat Composition' guide of articular animals in terms of their fat, protein, calories, etc.; a 'Handy Guide to Herbs and Spices', plus an 'Emergency Substitutions' chart, the recipes comprising "Wildlife Harvest Game Cookbook" are arranged in chapters dedicated to Pheasant; Duck and Goose; Quail; Partridge; Venison; Fish; 'Mixed Bag'; Soups, Sauces and Salads; Breads and Stuffing; 'Miscellaneous', Cranberries; and Desserts. From Pheasant Pie; Quail Stuffed with Oysters; Bar-B-Que Venison; and Trout Marguery; to Fried Squirrel; Wild Duck Soup; Cinnamon Bread; and No Bake Cookies, "Wildlife Harvest Game Cookbook" is the perfect addition to the kitchen cookbook collection of families that hunt and fish the forests and streams of America.

Recipes Logged From The Woods Of North Idaho
Priest River Library Club
Friends of the West Bonner Library District
219 Main Street, Priest River, ID 83856

Spiral bound for easy kitchen use, "Recipes Logged From The Woods Of North Idaho" is a very special cookbook collection of recipes contributed by the members of the Priest River Library Club and is a fund-raiser for the groups support of their local library. Here are succinct recipes for everything from Appetizers, breads, cakes, and candies, to casseroles, frostings, salads, and relishes. There are special sections devoted to desserts, vegetarian dishes, and helpful kitchen hints. From French Oven Stew; Candied Fruit Nuggets; Anchovy Fritters; and Venison North Idaho; to Sour Cream Raisin Pie; Cinnamon Apples; Erdbeere Bowle Strawberry Punch; and Taco Soup, "Recipes Logged From The Woods Of North Idaho" offers and veritable cornucopia of dishes that would satisfy any appetite and please any palate.

Vera's Still Point
Ruth Perkinson
Spinsters Ink
PO Box 242, Midway, FL 32343
1883523737 $14.95

Vera's Still Point is a lesbian romance about rediscovering forgotten passions. Vera Curran, a forty-year-old Republican lesbian librarian, has lived alone in a comfortable, yet mind-numbingly boring routine for years, watching the world pass her by. She hasn't had sex in years and repressed the desire so thoroughly she has forgotten why she once desired it. When a brand new faculty member, Frankie Bourdon, dares to try to change the public school's curriculum by adding homosexual sex education, Vera begins to remember, and the two of them gradually forge a lasting bond. A powerful love story about both the connections that people forge, and the trauma and isolation that results when homophobic communities and family members exclude adults, teachers, and teenaged children who happen to be gay. Highly recommended.

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

You Won't Get Fooled Again
Conner O'Seanery & Steve Reed
The Finger Tip Press
931 Clent Street, Victoria, BC V9A 5P7
0973927704 $10.95

You Won't Get Fooled Again: More Then 101 Brilliant Ways to Bust and Bald-Faced Liar (Even if the Liar is Lying Beside You) features a side-splitting humorous twist to its very practical list of strategies to discern how to tell when someone is lying to you. From the importance of observing "baseline" behavior (how people normally act) in order to better pick up on any telltale variations, to common body language indications of dishonesty such as fidgeting, touching the nose, or closing hands/interlocking fingers, to sardonic tips for improving one's own lying skills (such as making as little contact as possible with the target so that he/she is unaware of your own baseline behavior), You Won't Get Fooled Again! is a hilariously welcome and useful guide to honing one's personal BS detector. Highly recommended.

Street Smart
Gabriel Roth
The Independent Institute
100 Swan Way, Oakland, CA 94621-1428
141280518X $29.95

Edited by Gabriel Roth, whose expertise includes twenty years of service as Transportation Economist for the World Bank, Street Smart: Competition, Entrepreneurship, and the Future of Roads is an anthology of essays by learned authors discussing both theory and practice for private, market-based alternatives for road services from licensing vehicles and drivers to management of government-owned road facilities to franchising, outright private ownership, and more. America's current road transportation system is beset with traffic congestion, unsafe conditions, high costs, political corruption, environmental degradation, pork barrel pet projects and much more. In an era of rising national debt, Street Smart is more needed than ever as a source of ideas for more economic and safer means to look after transportation infrastructure.

World War II: A Legacy of Letters
Clinton Frederick
Zonicom Press
7807 E. Oberlin Way, Scottsdale, AZ 85262
0977849309 $26.95 1-800-223-1244

World War II: A Legacy of Letters One Soldier's Journey presents the authentic World War II correspondence written by author Clinton Frederick's father, Captain George Frederick, to Clinton's mother, then a young woman. A personal viewpoint of unfolding history, World War II: A Legacy of Letters chronicles Captain George's answer to President Roosevelt's desperate call for pilots, his service in the South Pacific, and his battles in New Guinea with the 7th Australian Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division into the Admiralty Islands. A handful of black-and-white photographs illustrate this behind-the-scenes glimpse of life on and off battlefields in the sky and the ground.

Treasure River
Wildwood Dean
Global Authors Publications
PO Box 922, Crescent City, FL 32112
0977968022 $17.99

Written by a lifelong resident of Red River Valley who gathered tales during a 16-day, 400-mile canoe trip down Red River's length, Treasure River blends history and folklore into an intertwined narrative about the length and shores of the Red River, and the remarkable events that have surrounded it over the course of centuries. From President Jefferson's embarrassment over the 1806 Freeman-Custis Expedition's failure at the hands of the Spanish, to the river's usage as the only highway to transport goods through an untamed wilderness, to tales of birth and death along the river shores, Treasure River reveals the river's powerful effect on all who come near it. A wondrous glimpse into days of yore and the connections between man and nature.

Michael Dunford

Kaveny's Bookshelf

Madison in the late 1960's part III the sexual Revolution and music I was there.

I decided to present bibliographic and purchase information on the material I covered in this months Kaveny's Bookshelf as part of the introduction to my feature. All of the items are readily available on Amazon. The publications dates are for the editions available rather than the first editions which I mention in the body of the article. I also include one film which was personally very important to me and help me to develop the interpretive frame work for this article. I also am going to do just a little ax grinding against the academic world which I stand both on the inside and outside though lately I have been giving guest lectures, and thinking I would like to work in the field and get paid for it. My admonition is this, the material I cover in this article is interesting, the theories I cover relate to the world of my senses and experience, and in a sense help to both understand a world I lived through and a world that I will be living in. To say it another way social theory is not a bunch of word games, it is a subject which has an object and the object is our shared lived experience in our world constructed of our histories and livid social interactions. I am willing to write more about this if my readers ask.

Roland Barthes
Hill and Wang (January 1, 1972)
ISBN: 0374521506 $14.00 159 pages

Selections from the Prison Notebooks
Antonio Gramsci
International Publishers (June 1971)
ISBN: 071780397X $14.00 572 pages

The Birth of Tragedy, new unabridged edition
Dover Thrift Editions
Dover Publications (June 1, 1995)
ISBN: 0486285154 $2.50 96 pages

Gravity's Rainbow
Thomas Pynchon
Penguin Classics; Reprint edition First edition, (June 1, 1995)
ISBN: 0140188592 $18.00 768 pages

The Second World War
John Keegan
Penguin (Non-Classics); Reprint edition (May 3, 2005)
ISBN: 0143035738 $22.00 608 pages

Blackboard Jungle (1955)
Starring: Glenn Ford, Anne Francis Director: Richard Brooks
ASIN: B0007TKNHE $19.98

Madison in the late 1960's part III the sexual Revolution and music I was there.

"By the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong,"

As much I love these Joni Mitchell lyrics, I don't think they were exactly what got us there as a matter of fact we didn't get to Woodstock all. Not that I and my crew didn't to try make it to Woodstock. Seven of them both male and female took off in a van from Madison in early August 1969. This included my buddies Neil Hauser, Jeneal Quenelle, Bob McKiernan, Brigid Cook, Don Bushnell, Maureen Frazier, and a wrestler they picked out along the way as they set out for the Woodstock Music festival August 15th -18th 1969 in upstate New York. Well I could not make it because I had my first job since I dropped out of college that lasted more few weeks and I thought I better hang onto it even if it was only the daytime bartender at John Laugin's Bar & Grill at 1226 Regent street In Madison. Incidentally my buddies didn't make it either because the got stopped by the cops about three hundred miles from Woodstock in Western Pennsylvania and were forced to turn around in and head straight back to Madison. You might say that they got off easy since the Pennsylvania State Troopers gave them a get of out jail free card and a warning, instead of busting them.

I need to say a bit more about my why my job seemed so important to me. It broke down to this at the time I seemed to be virtually un employable, having failed at one hundred and three job interviews. I only got the job because my late brother John Kaveny (1939 -1993) sang at John Laugin's when he was off duty as a Madison Firefighter. I guess I will write just a little bit about my late brother here, because I don't think anybody else ever has, and I loved him and he is worth remembering. I also mention him because some of the changes taking place in America at the time made his act possible. First, he worked as a folk singer and then sadly he switched to country and western. I also think it is important that Madison was not just about college students. They called my brother "Big John" because he was about six feet four inches tall and looked the perfect image of what you would expect from an Irish signing fireman. James Joyce called it Stage Irish and Brother John certainly made the most of it. Women adored him, and men loved him. If he was a better singer, then he would have got out of the bar singer ghetto. But my brother john did the best he could with what he had. Also he had the ability to make every woman in the audience think he was singing just to them. John died of alcoholism after his second wife abandoned him when he lost his boyish charm and he retired in 1988. This is why those saints who work in the protective occupations, police and firefighters usually retire at fifty because they die early, and that's it. But, I want to add that it does not have to be that way. The one true and honest thing on just about every TV cop shop is the way that they present the possibility of being cop, or firefighter and recovering alcoholic as a reality

I have a special place in my heart for firefighters both male and female and they are the best we have in that they protect our property and save our lives. I would also add that I have not met anything but good cops in my lifetime some of whom really went out of their way to give me a break, especially before I quit drinking for my lifetime on Feb 2nd 1971, just in time. By the way my quitting entirely drinking thirty-five years ago will be a subject for a future article, if anyone finds thirty five years of total sobriety, and a second chance in life interesting.

This is the time when I am going to introduced former Madison Mayor into the picture, with the hope that some of the fine young men and women I worked with during the election will follow his example. Paul Soglin a former UW while a graduate student in the University of Wisconsin History Department was first elected to Madison's Common Council in 1968. He was re-elected in 1970, and 1972. The following year, he ran for mayor of Madison and was elected in 1973. Soglin while representing the Eighth Ward was twice arrested at the first infamous Mifflin Street Block Party. Soglin was arrested and found guilty for "Failing to Obey the Lawful Order of a Police Officer." As the references books say but what they don't say is that he was arrested by the cops and bailed out by the Madison Firefighters. These were my brother's fellow firefighters the same firefighters who bailed my brother out of jail for not paying his alimony after he told a judge" that he could not get blood turnip, "in 1966. I would add that while my brother John was doing the better part of a month for contempt of court he polished his skills and became a part time singer out of necessity to pay his alimony and keep out of jail. His big hit around the local bar circuit was "The Alimony Blues", or "The Screwing you get for The Screwing You got." As charming as my brother was he had a Neanderthals view of male female human relations.

On to the theoretical

Well if it was not the summer of love that got us there what was it? I think it was a generation of constraint and hegemonic oppression that did the trick. To say it another way we woke up from the American dream. In order to write this article it is essential that I resort to metaphor and social theory to evoke a vast and powerful signifier. I will also need to work in the dead German philosopher and classical Greek scholar Frederick Nietzsche (1844-1900).Among other things he wrote The Birth of Tragedy first published in German in 1872, for my purposes it includes a couple of highly relevant formulations, which will give this article a somewhat darker tone than I first expected and I promise to get to them in just a little while.

First the metaphor, if I visualize it l see a dark deep blue black tsunami hundreds of miles from shore, but gaining height and force and traveling at a speed of hundreds of miles an hour. I think of it as an embodied signifier of the postwar World War II transformations which have carried me across the span of my life. Thomas Pynchon said as much in his monumental and highly misunderstood (at least by English Professors) 1973 novel Gravity's Rainbow. Thomas Pynchon goes to the point of arguing that World II was essential to bring the world into the information age. Perhaps even more important he argues that in the second half of the 20th century at least in America technology and culture and information is same thing. Yesterday in my atheistic class in the philosophy department we came to the conclusion that culture was the only industry that had not move off shore. To say it another way in a classical economic sense we now live in an America that consumes everything, and produces nothing tangible its major industry now being its own cultural products, mostly in electronic format. America has come along way, in my lifetime, from being the "Arsenal of Democracy for your grandfathers and great grandmothers' greatest generation to the present. I must say that it is just yesterday that I finally have given up on my rust belt nostalgia for an America that will never be again.

Perhaps this embodied metaphor; is the same thing that made the second half of the 20th century, from 1945 on, American. It has carried me well into first decade of the 21st century and I hope a lot farther. The thing about tsunamis is that they are almost invisible in the open ocean until they reach a harbor, as a matter of fact the Japanese call tsunamis harbor waves even though they may start at the other side of the planet, or for my purposes across vast expanses of time, we all know when they hit a harbor, and grow to twenty meters high all hell to breaks lose, because, nothing human can contain them until their force is spent.

Next, let's turn the social theory to get an idea of what it is I envision that this tsunami was breaking against. Stay with me, as I introduce just a little of the discourse of cultural studies and say a tiny bit about Antonio Gramsci (I890 -1937) Gramsci died while he was imprisoned in Rome by Italian Fascist Dictator Benito Mussolini in 1937. Antonio Gramsci' had a lot to think about during the last twelve years of his life while he was imprisoned and tortured, and given massive doses of castor oil, which was a fascist cathartic, or laxative, and sometimes method of execution . Between seemingly endless trips to the crapper Antonio Gramsci wondered how that little low life Fascist bastard and Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini could stay in power without having a cop on every street corner, and another under every bed. In the process of thinking about this Antonio Gramsci filled many volumes of what were later published as "The Prison Notebooks."

That's where he came up with his theory of cultural hegemony, which argues that those elites who are in power in any capitalist industrial society maintain that power among those who they rule by using the fiction that these elite's values, tastes, morals, and goals are the same as those who they rule, Thus, they support the idea that they rule by consensus, whether or not it is a fiction. Thus these elites gain a kind tacit mandate to maintain their position of power and privilege. The thing that is most compelling about Antonio Gramsci analysis in absolute Marxist clarity he suggests that it is much more efficient if Fascist Dictator can put the cop inside of everybody's head because then they will police themselves and you will need a lot fewer cops on the street corners and jumping from under peoples beds, and any hint of funny stuff. Funny stuff is really counter-hegemonic and a threat to those who run things. Like the people that are say any thing but heterosexual married procreational only sex. Which I would note is still the position of several major religious denominations, and is sometimes known as the missionary position.

Here I want to make it absolutely clear that I do not think America is a fascist dictatorship, if nothing else the last the results of the last election speak other wise, but I do think that one way the power elites in America maintain themselves is by marketing the idea that maintaining their position of power, morals, privilege and tastes is what is good for everybody, and in fact speaks for everybody. Perhaps the best example of this is a statement made by Charles E. Wilson while president of the General Motors Corporation in the 1950's Wilson who later became Secretary of Defense, and became famous for saying

"What's good for the country is good for General Motors, and vice versa."

In my own life I found Antonio Gramsci's philosophy played out in a number of very interesting ways, even though I didn't hear about the guy until forty years later. But as I mentioned the last part of this article, you can experience something without having a name for it. I was brought into opposition to the values of American hegemonic elites. This broke to me on gut and then cultural level while I was still watching" The Mickey Mouse Club" in the mid 1950's, and sensed something was wrong.

What was wrong had do with one of my all time favorites movies Black Board Jungle staring Glenn Ford, Vic Morrow Anne Francis, Sidney Poitier, and Bill Haley, and his Comets. It was felt to be Un- American, perhaps even counter-hegemonic by the folks who ran the show, the ones whose job it was to keep us walking and living in The American Dream. In 1955 my father told me, that he had heard from his Republican circles that American Ambassador to Italy under the Eisenhower administration, Claire Boothe Luce, who was the wife of Republican publishing magnate Henry Luce had banned one of my favorite films Black Board Jungle from the Venice Italy Film Festival, I was outraged. She banned it because of ; its negative portrayals of American high schools and its sexy rock and roll theme song "Rock around the Clock," of Black Board Jungle did not properly represent American to the world. Incidentally song "Rock around the Clock" was really about the kind of dancing that you don't do on the dance floor and Bill Haley, and his Comets sold million copies of the 45 single, which lead them to become the first American Rock& Roll group to tour Europe.. Even as an eleven year old in 1955, with a well connected father, and a career trajectory that was supposed to lead me to the fields of power as a corporate attorney working for a major utility company, I did not exactly buy in to all of this. However a dozen years later, I did get as far as a conditional admission to UW Madison Law School in 1969, if I could prove myself contrite enough about my life, incidentally I failed to make a good act of contrition with the dean of the U.W. Madison law School, and I have never regretted it.

My own sensitivity to music has been on a kind of tectonic level. I see, and hear things happening in music like one sees the shot glass start to vibrate, and the stuff inside start to ripple just a few seconds before T Rex appears in Jurassic Park, any way that's how I was introduced to the Beatles in early 1964 right after I won a hundred to one odds bet by predicting that Cassius Clay, later to become Muhammad Ali would defeat Sonny Liston. Incidentally, I only had a dollar to bet at the time, and no, I did not, buy stock in the company that first brought out panty hose.

I was introduced to The Beatles in early 1964 when my friend who is now Dr. John Yost told us about then. He told Neil Hauser, Bob Caspersen, Bob McKiernan, Don Bushnell about them right after we finished puking after eating all fish we could stand and drinking beer we could chug at the Esquire Club's "all you can eat for a dollar Friday night Fish fry." I guess trying to play touch football right afterwards was not the best idea. John took us out to his family's fashionable house in Maple Bluff, then one of Madison's most exclusive suburbs, to hear this great group called the Beatles, However he added, the caution they only sang in German. Well of course, what John had was a recording made from one of their 1962 Hamburg concert, and of course at the time none of us knew who they were or that they were English, but that was the first ripple in the shot glass and the Beatles changed all of our lives. If was as if the world that we were living changed almost instantly from black and white to Technicolor, I thought about how I would present these cultural changes from a value neutral perspective but I don't know how in the hell I can do that.

More like Jim Morrison and the Doors than Joni Mitchell

Instead , I am going to turn to the dead German philosopher and classical Frederick Nietzsche , who though a very rigorous scholar, who really knew his Greek, I am told was not a really great fan of rationality In doing this I have reduced it to it's his work to the conflict between two distinct tendencies - the Apollonian and Dionysian. I would add that it is only as I have written this article that I have abandoned the position that in everything I did I was among the good guys. I will say that if you go back and look at my auto-biographical poem Carnival Pilgrims which appear a few issues ago in The Flipside, it is very clear that I was and am among the lucky. Reflecting a little bit more about Frederick Nietzsche I can't help but wonder if he was born a hundred years later in 1944, if now he would be among the saints in rock heaven.

First let me deal with what I would call a kind of historically constructed image of Apollonian, America, and the American Dream. It is ordered, individualistic, dream like, for example everybody believed in no dreams last forever: at some point the sleep wakes. The American Dream started I suppose with the end of the Second World War on September 2nd 1945, when General Macarthur sailed the battle Ship Missouri into Tokyo bay to accept the unconditional surrender of the Japanese empire, (the Third Reich had surrendered four Months earlier on May 7th in the ruins of Berlin while Radio Berlin played the Twilight of the Gods. American, rationality , know how, individuality, had turned us into the savior of the world, we had delivered the world from the evil Third Reich, Imperial Japan, and crushed that Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, before breakfast. And now we were off to build a brave new world in America's Image, or perhaps better in the Image of a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving painting Freedom from want. We even had our own ideology of American exceptionalism which dated back to 1837 and was coined by French Critic August de Tocqueville. It seemed to say America was the last best hope of the world, and we were going to make that world conform to and share our dream.

We seemed to have been proven in 1945. After the Second World War America was really the last man standing, in the blood soaked ring of international relations that we called World war II, among the great powers, I use the phrase "blood soaked with no reservations since World War II cost fifty Million human lives To give some sort of human scale I think of the American Military cemetery I visited and prayed at in Cambridge England where I saw thirty thousand white crosses and Stars of David commemorating Americans dead. The total American dead for World War Two was no small number three hundred thousand, enough to fill Camp Randal football Stadium in Madison nearly five times. But to commemorate all the dead civilians and military that perished in World War II you would need to fill a thousand stadiums with fifty or sixty million crosses and stars of David, or however the dead are commemorated.

According to perhaps the foremost military historian John Keegan who his monumental history of the Second World War points out the Americans produced half of the gross national product of the entire planet. So what this all mean is that at that historical moment when the Big Mo sailed into Tokyo Bay on Sept 2nd right up to the instant of Kennedy John F. Kennedy assassination November 22nd 1963 a lot of America's energy was eaten sustaining the dream and perhaps to some it seemed like that was making the country like an armed camp. This may seem extreme but ask anybody who lived through the Cold War, and what came to be known can tell you that one had to be very careful what and who one associated with.

"If you can remember the 1960's you weren't there"

R Crumb (But he can't remember where and when he said it.)

Some of the 1960's Icons would say that they are impossible to write about. For example, R Crumb who was the emblematic underground comic artist in late 1960's and famous for his work in Zap Comics and his character's Fritz Cat, Mr. Natural, The Furry Freak Brother's, and lives in a Villa in the south of France because he sold his comic portfolio for a million dollars after his New Museum of Fine Arts exhibition in the 1990's. Of course he was implying that you had Kentucky Fried all your brain cells with bad, or for matter good drugs. In way Crumb falls in with some of the worst critics of the period and gives one the feeling that it was a time of total self indulgence, hedonism and moral collapse. What was true however was the birth control pill had made its first appearance in 1962, and by 1967 among the educated classes and their children it was both readily available, and in general reliable, but it turned out to be not so safe because of side effects But, the biggest factor was that there were no AIDS to deal with so sex was not a life threatening act. Through there is some strong argument out there did and still wish that sex outside of marriage was life threatening, and you know who you are.

Next Time Part 4: Dionysian Hedonism and the counter Culture, and still more about music and the sexual revolution.

Philip Kaveny
Senior Reviewer

Klausner's Bookshelf

David Morrell
CDS Books
387b Park Avenue South, 12th floor, N,Y.C., N,Y., 10016.
1593153570 $7.99

Former Army Ranger Frank Balenger pretends to be a reporter as he joins the "Creepers," a group of urban explorers who enter abandoned edifices as if they are newly discovered caves. Though breaking and entering even forsaken property is against the law, the participants go out of their way to avoid any damage and to especially not steal anything. All they take are pictures Balenger joins a quartet, Professor Robert Conklin, high school teacher Vincent Vanelli and graduate students Rick and Cora Magill. The five members enter the forsaken creepy Paragon Hotel in Asbury Park, New Jersey. They anticipated plenty of decay as the turn of the century structure has not been maintained in years, but did not expect to run into dangerous avarice looters and someone even more deadly. CREEPERS is a fascinating urban thriller that readers will enjoy searching along side the explorers inside this abandoned "tomb" ; something that many New York City teens have done over the years for instance with abandoned subway stations. The story line is action-packed and a bit over the top with some of the incidents caused by the nasties looting the Paragon Hotel. Balenger is a terrific lead character and his teammates easy to distinguish their personalities as their trek inside the paragon Hotel turns dangerous.

The Adulteress
Leslie Margolin
Five Star
1594144818 $25.95

Alma met Francis "Rats" Rattenbury in Victoria in 1924 when he was a highly regarded, but married Canadian architect. He dumped his wife for her and soon they married, but society condemns both of them. Soon design jobs stop coming his way so he decides they should start over in England. Alma gives birth to Rats' son Felix, but when the kid was six years old, he is hospitalized due to injuries while she was driving. Rats refuses to allow her to drive, but becomes testy when she nags him to take her to see their son. Instead he hires seventeen years old Percy Stoner to chauffeur Alma. Soon she and Percy begin an affair as the chauffeur and the spouse taunt one another. Soon Alma realizes she is pregnant, which leads to murder of the heart. Based on the real 1922 Thompson-Bywaters murder, THE ADULTERESS is an insightful character study that looks closely at the relationships between three people that lead to murder. The story line mostly follows Alma as the audience understands her needs, but to a degree Leslie Margolin also enables readers to comprehend the motives of Rats and Percy. Fans who enjoy a powerful historical thriller will want to read this deep look at the disintegration of the triangular protagonists.

Envious Gods
Geoff Gillian
Five Star
1594144591 $25.95

In a world where the use of magic is considered normal, actor, playwright, and booking agent for Sambasso's Wandering Dramaturgicals, Nicholas Rakehell is a person who believes in taking shortcuts through life. When he gets into a fight with Vostak Archangel he uses trickery, sleight of hand and magic to escape her but the sorcerer follows Nicholas to Little Scratching where he is to meet up with his troupe. When Archangel confronts him again, Nicholas once again escapes and steals his coach where he finds a poster offering a reward for the stolen artifacts of the god Lordk Skymark in Skyhaven. With his troupe and his elemental Evangeline that turns into a sword Bloodthorn, Nicholas travels to Skyhaven to claim the reward for the stolen artifacts. He and his company walk into a middle of a war and the high priestess of the god wants Nicholas to find him and bring him back so that the enemy at their gates can be defeated. Using trickery, Rakehell convinces the enemy that Skymark is alive and well but an old adversary captures him and sends him into hell; he causes an insurrection and escapes. Once he is free, he must find Skymark and put an end to his old enemy or he will never know another moment's peace.The protagonist is a man who is out for himself and takes the shortest road to achieving his goal, not caring that his way might harm others. In spite all his faults he is elusive, witty, and when the chips are down loyal to his friends even when he knows it will make extra work for him; work is something he abhors more than Maynard Krebs. He is a likeable near do well who gets into and out of more trouble than any `hundred people. Geoff Gillian has written an entertaining fantasy filled with intrigue and action.

Secret Sister
Sharol Louise
Five Star
1594145326 $25.95

In 1794, London solicitor Bartlestaff informs an outraged Mrs. Pickett that her late spouse's will left her nothing with everything going in a trust fund to his first wife's offspring, Eleanor and Madeline. Mrs. Pickett says that Madeline died in the carriage accident that also killed her husband's first wife while she raised Eleanor. Eleanor's fiance Emerson persuades his cousin Jace Remington to investigate this previously unheard of Madeline. Jace reluctantly agrees because he assumes it will be easy to prove the woman is a fraud and would also end his cousin from no longer begging for money as Eleanor is wealthy. Jace arrives at the home of Madeline's ailing grandfather who raised her, but is shocked when the young woman thinks he is to escort her to London the meet her new family; she thinks he is her grandfather's hunting pal Duncan Albus and he fails to correct her mistake. He quickly believes she is the real thing as she explains about her joy in learning of a sister even as he fumbles his way through an outdoor adventure. When the real Duncan catches up to them, Jace is left unconscious without transportation as Madeline continues to London where she is met with a cold reception. Not long afterward, Jace, still holding her outdoor adventure list, catches up and tries to make amends as he is half way in love with Madeline. SECRET SISTER is an interesting late Georgian romance starring a courageous heroine who just wants to meet her family and a likable dupe who loves her so much he braves the outdoors for her to achieve her list. The support cast augments the insight into the lead couple while what happened to the heroine's parents is cleverly included when her grandfather "confesses". The historical romance crowd will welcome with accolades this new author (I think first published novel).

Before They Made You Run
James Patrick Hunt
Five Star
1594144273 $25.95

Thirty-five years old Paul Kessler is attracted to forty one years old Judge Carol Macy, who happens to be married to Police Chief Sam Clay. Circumstances soon lead to Paul and Carol having an affair. When Sam confronts Carol, she tosses in his face the knowledge of the young whores he visits complements of Police Lieutenant Greg Vannison. An angry Sam hits Carol who falls just as Greg arrived to witness the squabble; Carol is dead. Greg arranges for Carol's lover Paul to be considered the prime suspect. One of his goons, police officer Ray Miller, tries to kill Paul with the intent of making it look like suicide, but instead the rogue patrol officer is killed. Other incidents occur with Paul knowing that someone is trying to insure he take the fall for Carol's death without him having an opportunity to tell his side of the story. Though readers will empathize with Paul, the story line is owned by Vannison, an interesting protagonist who keeps one foot anchored inside the police precinct and another inside the criminal world. His actions whether allowing the mob to kill an informant or set up Paul for the fall while also being a family man makes him a unique character who brings freshness to a superb thriller.

Tabor's Trinket
Janet Lane
Five Star
1594145423 $26.95

In 1430 in the Coin Forest, Lord Hungerford attacks Tabor lands killing the lord and his wife while destroying much of the economy. Tabor's brother Richard barely escapes with his life, vowing vengeance. The new Baron is taken in by gypsies who give him time to somewhat heal from his wounds. There he meets the young Sharai, who saves his life when Rauf Hungerford tries to kill him. Five years later, Tabor still vows revenge even as he searches for Sharai whose courage and beauty haunts him. However, Tabor knows he must marry wealth and power if he is to defeat Hungerford and his knights as everyone knows of their feud including the King, but no one will condemn the atrocities of five years ago or assist Tabor; that is unless he marries into such support. When he sees Sharai he knows his heart conflicts with his brain.Though somewhat similar in tone to too many medieval romances, Sharai refreshes the tale with her courage and fortitude as she comes to the aid of her beloved several times keeping him safe from a backstabbing rival. The exciting story line focuses on the intrigue of an era filled with betrayals while Hungerford seems to have gotten away with the deadly assault though Tabor plots revenge. Fans will appreciate Tabor's dilemma as he believes he must choose between love and betraying a "death bed" vow.

A Minor Case of Murder
Jeff Markowitz
Five Star
1594144877 $25.95

In Doah, reporter Cassie O'Malley meets minor league baseball owner Andy MacTavish following the funeral of his great-great uncle octogenarian local historian Harrison T. Dicke. They talk over hot cocoa and he soon asks if he could call her for a date. The thirtyish widow says yes, which is a first since her spouse died a few years ago. Andy takes Cassie to watch his baseball team, the Sand Skeeters, play. She enjoys the game and the between innings fun especially the mascot Skeeter. Later she meets Skeeter without the costume, teenager Donna Carter, who is dating Andy's younger brother. At the last game of the season, Skeeter dies on the pitching mound; however, the victim is not Donna, but her pal Heather. Andy wonders if the Birders who opposed his ballpark are behind the homicide so he asks journalist Cassie to investigate even as he continues to date her. This fine sports whodunit pays homage to minor league baseball, which is so much fun (this reviewer born near Yankee Stadium and living a few miles from the Braves loved watching the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons play a game last year – if you have not done so try it; so much fun). The story line is a cozy that looks deep into the soul of the heroine as she begins to unravel the motive behind the murder of the mascot until she finally hits a walk off homerun. Sub-genre fans will want to watch all nine innings of this delightful hometown baseball mystery.

Leadville Lady
Leslee Breene
Five Star
1594145466 $26.95

In 1880, bookkeeper Sky Saunders leaves her Placerton home with scandal hanging over her head as her banker husband Thomas embezzled funds. She travels to Leadville, Colorado at the invitation of her cousin, Deputy Marshal Ned Saunders, who is away on his honeymoon. Ned's boss Marshal Cody Cassidy takes Sky into his home that he shares with his dad. While waiting for Ned to return home, Sky is determined not to depend on any man anymore. Following a tip from Saunders' housekeeper, she accepts a position with room and board as a bookkeeper at Bartram's Gaming House. Cody is concerned with her living and working in a gaming house as he believes strongly that is no place for a lady like her. However, he is also as concerned, if not more so, that she co-owns a silver mine as someone is killing or running off claimants to steal mines. Finally the most frightening thing about this obstinate woman in the marshal's musings is he wants her. Sky is an interesting protagonist who learned her lesson about male dependence form her crooked former husband. Thus, her need to take care of herself drives Ned up a wall as he feels he must protect her beyond just his law enforcement position. Their relationship makes for a fun western romance with some late suspense caused by a nasty too stereotypical villain.

Tropical Warnings
April Star
Five Star
1594144796 $25.95

Laura Madison runs Big Pine Key RV Resort campsite in the Florida Keys. Last year an unknown individual began sending her gifts and leaving her notes. Recently the individual has become increasingly graphic with clear threats to kill her family, employees, and family so they can be together on Valentine's Day. Urged by her friend, the only other person aware of "Slippery", Laura visits private investigator David Jennings, who feels he has met the woman he will marry. She does not like his humor or come-ons until he describes exactly her problem. He explains that an erotomaniac stalker distorts reality; he knows first hand as he was the victim of one, who eventually committed suicide. He tells her he will fight dirty to keep her safe, but that they must pretend to be a loving couple to get Slippery out of the shadows. His plans work almost too well when an apparently outraged Slippery angrily tries to burn his beloved and her lover to death. Thus the first salvo in the war has been fired. The cat and mouse fight takes a backseat to the frightening lucid description of an erotomaniac stalker; bluntly this is good to know, but scary as hell. The story line contains two strong protagonists with David's humorous inner thoughts serving as tension abating asides; however he is very serious when it comes to keeping the woman he loves at first sight safe from a psycho. The efforts to uncover and stop the stalker are action-packed, but once again TROPICAL WARNINGS is a cautionary romantic suspense thriller that pulls no punches when it comes to stalking.

Relative Danger
June Shaw
Five Star
1594145318 $25.95

When her beloved spouse died, Cealie Gunther decided she needed to find herself as she felt lost as a couple. She opened up a successful business Deluxe Copy Editors and soon met restaurateur Gil Thurman, owner of Cajun Delights, and they share a romance hotter than his hottest sauce until she decides to end it as she lacked his confidence. Cealie visits her widower son Roger and her granddaughter Kat in order to see the latter graduate from Skidmore High School. She sees Roger is still grieving the death of his wife Nancy and notices that something is bothering Kat, who is skipping classes. To help her granddaughter, Cealie accepts a substitute teaching position at the school and soon learns that custodian Mr. Labruzzo died from a fall with Kat's favorite teacher Marisa Hernandez as the prime suspect. Unable to resist she begins to investigate, which places her in danger from a killer, alienates Kat by butting in, and desires Gil, who opens up a Cajun Delights in town. RELATIVE DANGER is more a family drama than an amateur sleuth whodunit though the latter is cleverly designed to enhance the relationships between three generations of Gunthers. Cealie is a delightful protagonist whose asides (and too frequent laments) and bad run on cars make her a grandmotherly chick lit heroine as all she wants to do is help her angst-laden granddaughter. Readers will enjoy this fine academic mystery starring a feisty protagonist who out of love tries to uncover the identity of a killer.

Love, Death, and the Toyman
Robert S. Napier
Five Star
1594144907 $25.95

In 1983 Tacoma, Washington, veteran and former investigative reporter Jack Lorentz enjoys selling collectible toys to baby boomers though he only makes a modest living at the Olden Daze co-op. However, his mild contentment is shattered when his "Mandy" arrives at his place of business. Fifteen years ago, she was his fiancee, but she dumped him to marry wealthy Michael Howard. Mandy wants to hire Jack to help Michael with a bit of a problem. On property owned by Michael, remains of a late male teen have been found; this would be a minor irritant if Michael was not running for Congress. Initially refusing, Jack is forced to help when Howard Industry threatens to kick everyone out of the co-op building they own. Jack begins making inquiries into identifying the deceased, why he was buried there, and who killed him. Suspects are everywhere and worse he still wants Mandy. LOVE, DEATH, AND THE TOYMAN is a fun Reagan era whodunit starring a reluctant former investigative journalist who knows that when it comes to his client he thinks with the wrong head, but though she hurt him he remains obsessed. Jack knows Mandy is bad for him, but cannot help himself though he tries while a support character Beth adds depth to understanding the hero. Though Jack's muses can become wearying, readers will enjoy Jack's private investigation into who killed the teen and why bury the lad on Howard property.

Something Very Wicked
Mary Zelinsky
Five Star
1594145547 $26.95

Needing to get away and to take care of business, Ethan Galen decides New Orleans Times "fluff" reporter Cora Dearing is perfect to clean up his family's not so stellar reputation devastated by the antics of his siblings as much as by his own playboy reputation. He needs to persuade her to do a piece on his grandma who for decades has rolled up her sleeves and performed good deeds for those in need. Times editor Jim Matthews assigns Cora to write a series of articles on romance and intrigue though she objects to another feel good assignment as she wants to be considered a serious journalist. Through some clever manipulations, Ethan gets her to visit the Water Lilies while he is there under the name of Ethan Auxler. At Water Lilies, odious guest Mrs. Rothman vanishes and Cora suffers from food poisoning. As Ethan hangs around her, she begins to believe that Ethan might be a killer and a thief; she wonders if he murdered Mrs. Rothman and stole her heart. Readers will wonder alongside Cora about Ethan also as all evidence points to his being at a minimum involved in an abduction and perhaps a homicide. The story line is action-packed as Ethan makes Machiavelli look like an amateur with his ability to manipulate, but also fails to control his heart as he falls in love with the person he is "controlling". Though Mrs. Rothman is stereotyped as the ugly American so no one on tour or reading will miss her except perhaps her daughter, fans will enjoy this suspenseful investigative tale especially to learn the motive for her disappearance.

Why Casey Had to Die
L.C. Hayden
Five Star
1594144931 $25.95

Dallas Police Detective Harry Bronson was on the force for over three decades before being forced retired. When he looks back at his illustrious career, he knows his first case; the Casey Secrist murder was the most influential on how he conducted an investigation. He followed procedure and soon arrested her boyfriend, who was convicted of the crime. However, Harry had some doubts and vowed to never allow bureaucratic rules to interfere again with an inquiry. When the Slayers mystery group consultant for several years dies in a hit and run, Lee Chalmers hires Harry. He and his wife drive from Texas to Safford, Arizona where they are available to help participants solve a week long murder mystery. However, not only are they followed by an intrusive person who slashes the tires of the Bronson vehicle, the script is the Secrist homicide. Harry sees this as a second chance to atone for his biggest blunder, but had not anticipated his beloved Carol would be a pawn of an avenger. This is a superb police procedural tale that uses an annual event honoring Dorothy L. Sayers as the milieu to a murder mystery. Harry, though retired, uses his police force connections and his experience to investigate what is going on today and how it ties to the past. Readers will enjoy his efforts although the original motive to WHY CASEY HAD TO DIE seems a stretch.

A Family of Strangers
Five Star
1594145431 $25.95

In 1793 fifteen year old Kate O'Neal is convicted of stealing the silk hanky of her employer's wife. She is being transferred on the Merry Mersey to the Botany Bay penal colony for seven years. Kate knows the charge is unfair, but cannot do anything about this injustice just like when her dad sold her to the Rustands in the first place. However, she has some satisfaction having castrated Lord Oliver, the son of her employer, for molesting her. On the ship she begins to learn how to survive until she reaches her new home Australia. There the frightened teen becomes mistress to Lieutenant Kendrick, but his beating almost kills her. She soon becomes Captain Spencer's mistress, who is much nicer and kinder to her; he even helps her open up a store. As she dreams of marrying him, he leaves his convict behind for England. Merchant Bert Rowley helps Kate stay afloat even as they fall in love; but Kendrick is back claiming he owns her possessions while Spencer offers to make her his mistress in England. A FAMILY OF STRANGERS is a deep late eighteenth century historical tale starring a young woman trying to survive in a world in which she has no rights. Kate is terrific as she adapts to her situations starting with the vividly described ocean voyage and at the fully envisioned penal colony. In every case, she is forced to play by the rules of men who often lack scruples. Fans will root for this brave heroine as she proves survival of the fittest even when the rules are rigged for her to fail.

How to Marry a Ghost
Hope McIntyre
Mysterious Press
0892960140 $24.99

English ghostwriter Lee Bartholomew travels from London to the Hamptons in Long Island as the Maid of Honor at her mother's commitment ceremony to her partner American billionaire Philip "Phillionaire" Abernathy. Mom got the idea from the wedding section of the New York Times where gay couples, unable to legally marry because of sacred law sanctioning divorces between a man and a woman, announce their relationship. Of course mom is heterosexual but she still is married to Lee's dad (bigamy being another sacred anti-sanctioning law). Lee figures while helicopter flying amidst the rich and famous, she plans to interview secluded rock legend Shotgun Marriot; ghostwriting rival Bettina Pleshette plots to do so also. However, Marriot's son and soon afterward Pleshette are found dead, apparently murdered. The attendees at the ceremony of Hope's mother and those living at the Marriot estate are the prime suspects. Knowing she now needs to mind her business and work with a new odd client Miss Haverstram, Hope inadvertently finds herself investigating the case. Crossing the Atlantic HOW TO MARRY A GHOST, the sequel to the witty amateur sleuth, HOW TO SEDUCE A GHOST, is an amusing intelligent cozy that will hook readers even before the first corpse washes onto the beach. Lee is terrific with her ironic assessments of relationships and the law before she gets involved in the homicides and with Miss Haverstram's familiar sounding manuscript. Readers will enjoy Lee's antics as she tries to solve the murders whodunit murders and the manuscript mystery before returning across the pond.

Zoia's Gold
Philip Sington
Scribner Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
0743291107 $26.00 1-800-223-2336

In 2000 London, art dealer Marcus Elliot is hired to write the catalog on the sale of works by the Russian-born artist Madame Zoia. The "painter on gold" is considered the last known survivor of the Bolshevik Court who died one year earlier in Stockholm. Marcus studies her work and her papers as he learns that the Russian painter Zoia "Madame Zoia" Korvin-Krukovskyas was born in 1903 Russia into an aristocratic family. In 1917, the Bolsheviks incarcerated her as they did any of the aristocracy they captured during the Revolution. A communist admirer got her free with her fleeing to Sweden before going to Paris and ultimately returning to live the rest of her life in Sweden. This is an interesting biographical fiction work of Madame Zoia who proved you can go home when Yeltsin welcomed a show on her works in Moscow in 1993. The story line is at its best when it focuses on Madame Zoia's life in Paris, North Africa and Sweden whether it is through her letters of Marcus' musings filling gaps of knowledge. A subplot involving Marcus's family is well written, but feels intrusive from the prime theme of ZOIA'S GOLD that of an entertaining portrayal of a fascinating twentieth century artist, the last known living link to the Tsars.

Bad Blood
Linda Fairstein
Scribner Books
0743287487 $26.00

Manhattan prosecutor Alexandra Cooper knows proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that Brendan Quillian killed his wife Amanda will be difficult especially since the businessman has an out of town alibi, but she feels she has a strong case. Quillian is in trouble based on powerful circumstantial evidence. However, countering it is the testimony of Kate Meade, a friend of the accused since they were teens and a wife and mother; she is the ideal witness. Alexandra completes her questioning feeling rather good about where she ended. That is until Quillian's defense attorney Lemuel Howell affirms that Kate and Brendan were having an affair; the credibility of this important witness falls apart. Cooper is shook because the revelation was hidden from her by Kate. Cooper struggles to regain the upper hand in a trial that has fallen somewhat apart. However, an explosion rips the third water tunnel construction site that should have nothing to do with the Quillian murder trail, but does as Alex finds a link to Brendan. As she digs deeper into the Quillian connection to the water tunnel explosion, Copper places herself in jeopardy seeking conclusive proof that Brendan is a cold blooded killer. BAD BLOOD opens with a gripping courtroom scene and never slows down after that until the final confrontation in a dark tunnel. This legal thriller is as equally exciting during the trial scenes and the investigative scenarios. However, some like this reviewer do have problems with prosecutors playing the role of undercover "cops" rather than letting the pros do the job. That quibble aside, sub-genre fans will receive plenty of entertainment as Cooper struggles to save a case that unraveled over an affair.

The Guy Not Taken
Jennifer Weiner
Atria Books
1416535209 $24.95

This is a terrific eleven story chick lit collection that fans will appreciate and accentuates how great that sub-genre is in the shorter format (as opposed to novels). Interesting chick lit obviously was around before authors tried to keep up with Jones as six of the tales are from the 1990s with one as early as 1990; the rest are from the last two years. Each tales is well written as the audience will care what happens to each of the beleaguered heroines, as they wish to be a Phoenix rising out of the ashes of bad relationships to forge strong new families, but have doubts they are capable of achieving their aspirations. Adding to the fun is the cast from the novel Good in Bed return for a second round (see "Good Men"). Jennifer Weiner provides a delightful anthology that her fans and other chick lit readers will fully appreciate as these women provide strong convincing asides on life, love, and family.

The Budapest Connection
Dr. Henry C. Lee and Jerry Labriola, MD
Prometheus Books
59 John Glen dr., Amherst, N.Y. 14228-2197
159102465X $24.00

In spite of too many gruesome crime scenes, criminologist Dr. Henry Liu and the four other members of the Global Interactive Forensics Team (GIFT) are stunned by what they see winking back at them lying at the Brooklyn Marine Terminal. Three naked late teen female corpses each having one eye opened and one shut arranged to form an equilateral triangle. The women were executed by a shot to their heads. GIFT begins its investigation informing NYPD that it is too soon to jump to conclusions. However as they start to follow the clues Dr. Liu and his three males and one female teammate run into a dangerous adversary who want Gift eliminated before they uncover the head of an international gang into all sorts of insidious activity including a white slave sex ring that leads them to Budapest. The forensic science is terrific as the renowned Dr. Henry C. Lee and Dr. Jerry Labriola collaborate on an exciting global thriller. However, having the GIFT players also act as warriors seem over the top though it is fun to root for them as they kick butt. Still Dr. Liu and his squad provide readers with an interesting forensics investigation that takes the audience on a wonderful magical mystery tour from New York to THE BUDAPEST CONNECTION.

Alan Dean Foster
Prometheus Books
59 John Glen dr., Amherst, N.Y. 14228-2197
1591024889 $25.00

Sagramanda, India is a Megatropolis of 100 million residents; the city like all major urban areas run the gamut of the economic spectrum from affluent international CEOs to those so hopelessly poor one would classify them as being beneath the food chain's lowest rung of wretchedly poor existing in the ooze. Those of wealth would do nothing to hurt their status as all one has to do is look at the legions of poor as a reminder of how good life is for those with money and power. His family, especially his humiliated father, cannot believe that the heir scientist Taneer Buthlahee ran off for a forbidden love with his Untouchable beloved Depahli. Worse than that shame, he also stole research secrets he was working on; an insult his father plans to correct by having his son killed by company fixer Chal Schneemann before the information is sold on the black market. Taneer contacts street fixer Sanjay Ghosh to help his with the sale that will finance his escape with his beloved Depahli. Complicated as that family squabble may seem, a born again Hindu worshipper whose drug induced brain thinks she must sacrifice people to Kali believes that the two lovers would be a perfect send off while Sagramanda Police Chief Inspector Keshu Singh closes in on the sword slashing serial killer. This is a wild police procedural crime caper that occurs in a futuristic society in which the gap between haves and the have-nots are wider than the Grand Canyon and the number of the lower class is so great, substrata have been defined within the social group. The superb story line contains several other subplots besides those above, but all are developed and ultimately tie together in a final exhilarating confrontation. Readers will enjoy this strong tale of near future India.

The Blood Debt
Sean Williams
PYR Books
1591024935 $25.00

In the distant future Earth is a vastly strange different place in which magic is the energy source of choice in isolated enclaves. With this energy source comes unwelcome byproducts; living humans uneasily share the area with ghosts, golems, and other paranormal creatures that run the gamut of myths including living statues. Separately friends Sal and Skender become concerned over their respective missing parents who apparently vanished due to some unexplained esoteric disorder. Each without consulting with the other decides on a quest to find and if need be rescue their parents from whatever void that traps them. However, neither is quite ready to learn about a dangerous homunculus pseudo human that apparently Sal's dad brought back from the Void Beneath which may lead to death and destruction of more than just their parents: a world is at risk. This tale somewhat suffers from the middle book syndrome even though plenty of action occurs, but for practical purposes nothing is resolved. As testimony to the spellbinding writing skills of Sean Williams, fantasy readers will still enjoy the latest Book of the Cataclysm as the lead duo Sal and Skender return (see THE CROOKED LETTER) to embark on a new quest. Readers will root for the pair whose adventures are exciting, dangerous, and fun to follow as they anchor the exhilarating story line of THE BLOOD DEBT.

The Wrekening
Jayel Gibson
19333538309 $14.95

Niece to the Dragon Queen Yavie and daughter of one of the Guardians, Cwen of Aaradan is estranged from her family as they condemn her as evil for having been captured and raped by their enemies. She, in turn, rejects anything related to her heritage even the magic she can employ as she leaves her home behind. However, her Aunt the Queen is worried with open hostilities already killing many. Yavie has learned that the enemy is plotting to gather the thirteen ancient crystal shards invented by the Wyrms that are scattered throughout their world. Though created by the ancient and long since vanished Wyrms to protect the world from evil; the plot calls for using the crystal to raise an invincible unit of underground stone soldiers. The Queen sends her niece and four companions (Talin, Caen, Brengven and Klaed) to prevent that from happening. On the surface , THE WREKENING will sound somewhat similar to the Tolkien tales (which in turn paid homage to Beowulf), but has a freshness of its own due to the heroine, who leads her band on the quest, while coming of age during the adventure. Cwen makes the tale as, in spite of loathing her mother Nall who condemns her as being weak and her people who assume she is tainted, she accepts her Aunt Yavie's mission to save their world. Her fellow travelers are fully developed and in subtler ways coming of age too especially her best friend Talin. Fantasy readers will appreciate this fine Ancient Mirrors saga.

Journey Out of Darkness
Jean Darby
1933538414 $14.95

Doreen Daniels gives birth to triplets. Sibyl was dead coming out of the womb strangled by her cord; Rita and Maureen survived. The soul of the dead one was given to Satan by her mom, a devil worshipper. The father vanished five minutes after lying with Doreen, never to be seen again. When the two survivors turn three, Doreen insists they call her Cassandra rather than mom. She feels that name fits a mighty sorcerer controlling demons as part of her satanic pact with the King of Hell. Her daughters are frightened of her so they cling to one another though their witch mother recognizes rebellion in the eyes of Rita and obedience in that of Maureen. Over the next few years, Cassandra keeps her two kids under total control, as she has plans for both of them. The schools do nothing for the two little girls. However, some contact with Jesus lovers leads to Rita talking to God even as she tries to keep the timid Maureen safe from their mother who would sacrifice either without a look back. This is not an easy novel to read as Cassandra's parenting is clearly abusive as her family values are vastly different than those of the Religious Right though ironically she is religious and to the right. However, once started, JOURNEY OUT OF DARKNESS is impossible to put down as the audience prays that Rita and Maureen find their way out of hell; no one in authority will help them except the Lord. Making no apologies for preaching the message that God is salvation (perhaps over done) even for those seemingly abandoned at birth, Jean Darby provides a character driven inspirational tale.

Missing Magic
Karen Whiddon
Love Spell
0505526425 $6.99

King Roark of Rune and Mort the Mage of Rune are worried. They summon Prince Cenrick to travel across the veil to the mortal world because several Fae have returned as husks having lost their souls and with that the use of magic. The monarch and the mage think Cenrick's cousin Talmick is the cause. Cenrick is to go to Rome where Talmick lives to uncover the truth, but must be cautious not to lose his soul as no cure, not even by the Oracle, has been found. South Worth Police Department Officer Dee Bishop is on suspension facing charges that she knows are false. She turns to her fiance Peter, but he dumps her. Dee seeks her best friend Mick Morsi, but he apparently has vanished without a trace. However, in his garage is Cenrick, who sounds loony as he explains he and Mick are Fae cousins. As the female human and the royal Fae search for Mick, they begin to fall in love, but first there is the missing magic that could ruin Rune. MISSING MAGIC is a wonderful romantic fantasy that sub-genre fans will cherish. The story line is fast-paced once Cenrick and Dee meet and never slows down as they fall in love, search for Talmick (Mick), and seek the truth behind the soulless Fae though each means facing the dark figuratively or literally. Fans of Karen Whiddon will immensely enjoy this fine tale starring a dedicated beleaguered cop and the brother of the star of LONE STAR MAGIC.

The Mannequin Man
Luca Di Fulvio
Bitter Lemon Press
37 Arundel Gardens, London W11 2LW, United Kingdom
1904738133 $14.95

In Italy, his passion is taxidermy. He accomplishes his craft in two clever steps. First he captures his prey and then he completes the conversion. Both stages provide his sadistic tendencies with euphoria as he appreciates the kill as much if not more so than the transformation. Still he remains ever diligent and careful not to make any mistakes especially since some of his subjects are human though he leaves behind mutilated corpses using taxidermist threads to complete his trophy. Chief Inspector Giacomo Amaldi knows he is dealing with a brilliant serial killer at a time when he already feels overwhelmed. The garbage strike has turned the city into a big dump, making all investigations smell worse than usual while a questionable fire at the nearby orphanage should be tying up his time. Instead he walks amongst the trash seeking clues to a deadly killer one stitch at a time. THE MANNEQUIN MAN is an excellent Italian serial killer thriller that uses satirical symbolism to delineate the human condition. Amaldi is a fascinating character as he wades through garbage in search of clues that will enable him to identify the killing taxidermist while his adversary is brilliant at both of his crafts. Police procedural fans will want to follow the Chief Inspector as he struggles to separate the trash from the clues.

Hallowed Ground
Lori G. Armstrong
Medallion Press
1932815740 $6.99

In Bear Butte County, South Dakota, Julie "Jules" Collins worries about her private investigator partner and mentor Kevin Wells as he is oo preoccupied with the imminent death from cancer of his beloved Lilly to train her at the moment. when Tony Martinez, owner of a couple of bars and other questionable dealings, wants to hire her for a sizable fee, Jules has to decide on her own. She thinks they could use the money so agrees to find the missing five years old niece Chloe Back Dog of Tony's friend and number one man Harvey. Jules assumes that Chloe's father Donovan kept the child instead of returning her to her mother, his ex-wife Rondelle Eagle Trail. She easily tracks down Donovan at a Brush Creek Construction Company site, which makes her wonder why Martinez could not have done this. Donovan and Jules talk at remote Bear Butte where her brother died years ago. He denies having kidnapped his daughter, telling her to talk to Rondelle and the Smart Start School just before someone shoots Donovan. As the truth begins to surface involving the Carlucci gang, Native American casinos, and the safety of a little girl, a killer targets Jules. This exciting private investigative tale stars a likable rookie struggling with a case that seemed simple but with each new revelation spins further out of control. Jules is a strong protagonist who holds the tale together whether it is a sleuthing subplot or her attraction to Martinez, who reciprocates as he wants "Blondie". Readers will enjoy this superb thriller in which the politics of casinos are right out of Abramoff headlines.

The Key
Jennifer Sturman
Red Dress Ink
0373896034 $13.95

In Manhattan, Rachel Benjamin feels her chances of making partner at Winslow Brown Investment Bank remains excellent in spite of her obnoxious demanding new boss from hell Glenn Gallagher. Under his difficult direction, she, Jake Channing and Mark Anders are working on a buy-out of Thunderbolt Industries that looks suspicious to her. She believes it is a bad deal. She also receives emails at home from the anonymous Man of the People insisting that Gallagher has done this questionable transaction before. When Gallagher dies from chewing on a poisoned pencil, suspicion falls on Rachel because she had described the modus operendi to her work-mates not long before the murder. Someone looking just like Rachel pushes office assistant Dahlia towards a train just after mentioning to Rachel she needed to tell her something important. With the help of her friends and her live in boyfriend Peter Forrest, Rachel investigates while hiding from the law and from clever killers. The third Rachel Benjamin Mystery (see THE JINX and THE PACT) is a wonderful amateur sleuth thriller in which the female buddies and Peter play the key roles in helping the heroine extract herself from being the prime suspect. Rachel is wonderful as she goes from sure shot partner to loathing her odious new supervisor to woman on the lam trying to prove her innocence and not get killed while doing so. Readers will appreciate this pleasing tale that also warns fans not to chew on their pencils.

Good Times, Bad Boys
Melanie Murray
Red Dress Ink
0373895941 $13.95

In New York Echo Brennan writes for the Brooklyn Art & Times while dreaming of covering the superstars of rock and roll for either Rolling Stone or Disc magazines. After failing to fly from BATS into the big time, Echo decides to take charge of her career and her life. She cons her way into the VIP secret room at the in crowd's Edge Bar to persuade Jack Mantis and the Butter Flies to let her interview them as her first step. She kicks her musician boyfriend Matt Hanley out of her aprtment having given up on his ever making the record that he is capable of doing as her biggest leap forward. Matt is hurt by her dumping him though in some ways it is because he has become complacent. He writes a single about the loathome woman who destroyed him. The song is a sensational hit and Matt is not considered a one hit wonder or even the next big thing; as he is the current big thing while Echo becomes the most hated person in music in two decrades. She is immortalzied along side of Donna the Prima Donna and Runaround Sue. This happened all because she wanted to start her life anew. Readers will appreciate this delightful lyrical chick lit tale starring a besieged woman who over night has become a legendary bad girl. The support cast, especially Matt, Echo's sister and best friend add depth to the fun tale. However, GOOD TIMES, BAD BOYS belongs to Echo, who is the star of this amusing show that looks closely at how heroes and villainesses are created.

1635: The Cannon Law
Eric Flint, Andrew Dennis
Baen Books
PO Box 1403, Riverdale, NY 10471
1416509380 1-800-223-2336

In 1634 the transplanted twentieth century Grandville, West Virginia diplomacy team led by Sharon Nichols seemed to be on friendly terms with Pope Urban VIII. His Holy See is very interested in future papacy rulings and has welcomed the Americans. However, by 1635, Pope Urban VIII has to watch his back as Spanish Cardinal Gaspar Borja y Velasco is outraged that he fails to condemn the foreigners for their heterodoxy as unholy beliefs. This Inquisitor wants these heretics burned at the stake. He also claims that the Pope's failure to do so proves that Urban must be removed from St. Peter's and for accepting sacrilege burned at the stake. Finally he plots to place himself on the Vatican throne with the most powerful country in the World, his homeland of Spain backing his Machiavellian manipulations. This is a terrific entry in the "1632" alternate history saga as Cardinal Borja with Spanish support plots to unseat Pope Urban using an insidious campaign to demonize the Grandville Americans and in turn paint the Holy See as being spiritually corrupt (sounds like a modern day political campaign). The story line is fast-paced, but contains a more serious tone than its predecessors (see THE GALILEO AFFAIR), but is just as good, as the quality by Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis pay homage to the late innovative publisher Jim Baen, who passed away this summer.

Hell's Gate
David Weber and Linda Evans
Baen Books
1416509399 $26.00

In parallel universes, two humanoid cultures share in common the belief that they are alone as neither the Sharona or and the Union of Arcana have encountered any other civilization as they expand through their universe. The Sharona combine technology with some psionic abilities while the citizens of the Union of Arcana use magic as an everyday energy source.
The Arcana have begun to enter portals that take them into the Sharona universe. When these two monolithic societies meet for the first time someone fires the shot heard around the multiverse. Arcanian expedition and military leader Hundred Jasak Olderhan is upset that his squad opened fire and hopes to prevent a war with the survivors of this other human species, but one of his soldiers Fifty Garlath kills an unarmed man. Soon the rest of the Sharonian party of all civilians is annihilated except for two that are taken prisoner, Shaylar and her husband, Jathmar. Now Magic and Science has collided with the first encounter being open hostility. This is a terrific opening of the Multiverse series that has two competing societies colliding with distrust and an inability to communicate. The story line is filled with action, but also provides the needed input for readers to understand and believe that Arcana and Sharona exist without choosing magic or science as being the more civilized. Fans of either author will appreciate this fine collaboration in which fantasy and science fiction blend delightfully into a strong out of space thriller.

Unto the Breach
John Ringo
Baen Books
1416509402 $26.00

The terrorists hold hostage the beloved daughter of Russian research biologist Dr. Tolegen Arensky. They demand that he provide them with weapons of mass destruction from his place of work, the Russian Institute for Agricultural and Biological Research, or else his offspring and others he cherishes will die. Meanwhile in Georgia, American expatriate Mike Harmon is the warlord of the Keldara Caucasus tribe. He enjoys his life in the former Soviet republic, but worries about the nearby Chechen war. Now his former associates from when Mike was a Seal operative and instructor ask him to rescue a Russian scientist and his daughter from terrorists who demand Arensky abet their efforts to obtain WMDs. Mike reluctantly agrees to enter Chechen with some of his best warriors, but soon realizes his so called friends failed to tell him the rest of the story. The fourth Mike Harmon thriller is John Ringo at his best. The story line is loaded with action especially a terrific battle scene climax yet it also deeply allows the reader to see inside Mike as he struggles with values he took for granted, but no longer can as he wonders just who the terrorist is. Readers of the series will want to read this latest entry, perhaps the best of a strong series while newcomers will enjoy this stand alone, but also seek the backlist (see GHOST, KILDAR and CHOOSERS OF THE SLAIN).

Sight Unseen
Robert Goddard
Delta Books
0440242800 $12.00

In the summer of 1981 near the Avebury Neolithic henge circle, a woman walks with three children; a nine or ten years old boy and a seven years old girl are slightly ahead of the adult and the third child is a toddler. Suddenly a man grabs the infant whose sister reacts instantly and gives chase while the nanny stares in revulsion. The kidnapper jumps into a van, runs over his seven years old pursuer, and flees with his catch. Historian David Umber witnessed the horror over twenty-five years ago in which Tamsin Hall was abducted and her older sister Miranda killed. David eventually married the stunned nanny but his wife never moved on from the shock that initially bound them until she finally committed suicide filled with guilt that she was negligent in her diligence. Retired Wiltshire Chief Inspector Sharp informs David he received an anonymous letter with clues to what happened on that fatal day in '81. The letter focuses on the true identity of an eighteenth century political meddler known as Junius, who happens to be the subject of Umber's Ph.D. research. David begins to reconsider his wife's suicide and wonders if someone murdered her to further bury the truth. The historian and the former cop team up to follow the new leads to hopefully uncover a murderous kidnapper. If not the best, Robert Goddard has to be one of the top five suspense writers today. With exhilarating works like BORROWED TIME, HAND IN GLOVE, and now SIGHT UNSEEN, Mr. Goddard consistently entertains with exciting tales that are plausible and gripping. His current thriller will hook the audience from the opening 1981 sequence and throughout until the final present day confrontation; thus another great thriller from a genre grandmaster.

The Shadowkiller
Matthew Scott Hansen
Simon & Schuster Books
0743294734 $25.00

In the Pacific Northwest people are vanishing with the only clue left behind being giant odd looking footsteps. Authorities are concerned as these disappearances are too many with the seemingly same modus operendi. Unknown to law enforcement is that a patriarchal Bigfoot came home to find his family dead from an inferno set by the uncaring humans; outraged he is on a mission of vengeance. Sheriff Office detective Mac Schneider found the initial evidence that these abductions were not by Homo sapiens, but that of a large intelligent and angry beast. Two other men seek the creature. Ty Greenwood sees the happenings as a chance to prove his claim to have sighted Bigfoot that led to ridicule and his ruin. Native American Chief Ben Eagleclaw has a spiritual link to the Bigfoot. These three humans with differing reasons to "hunt" the berserker Bigfoot compete more than they team up to capture, kill or free the creature depending on their perspectives. Fans who appreciate a vividly grisly Bigfoot thriller with little on the social, cultural or science of the species will appreciate this action-packed tale. The story line is fast-paced never pausing for a nanosecond as in graphic detail Bigfoot goes on a rampage that makes the Hulk look like a two year old. Clearly targeting the red meat crowd, readers who demand non-stop adventures will want to join the hunt for Bigfoot; those in the audience who want to know more of the Bigfoot culture should pass.

Measuring the World
Daniel Kehlman
Pantheon Books
0375424466 $23.00

In 1769 Alexander von Humboldt was born; in 1777 Carl Friedrich Gauss was born; both in Germany. Humboldt became a renowned naturalist visiting the globe to map unknown territories and find new flora and fauna; Gauss became a renowned mathematician, staying at home to map unknown mathematical relationships and write treatises. These two have nothing in common except their heritage. They meet in 1828 at a science convention with neither thinking much of how the other lives life. Somehow they become friends though they share nothing in common not even a vision as the outdoorsman sees joy in being a scientist today while the indoors-man sees how much his world is limited as he extrapolates what the future will hold. This is a superb work of biographical fiction that uses comparative analysis to look deep into the lives of two giants of the early nineteenth century. Humboldt and Gauss are very different in personality as the former needs to explore nature first hand while the latter needs to explore numbers in his room. Bringing alive Napoleonic and Post Napoleonic Germany as well to a lesser degree other locations visited by Humboldt, Daniel Kehlman provides a strong historical tale that measures up well with other genre entries.

Shadow's Destiny
Rachel Lee
0373802196 $6.99

Eons ago, the Firstborn Son of the Firstborn King Annuvil, was king of his own city, and loved the Iliduin (mage) Theriel. His brother Ardred loved her as well. The two brothers went to war. Annuvil created the race of the Anari, a peaceful, long-lived species whose magic is to hear voices in the stone which makes them builders. The gods were angry for it was given to them to create the races and as a result Annuvil was punished, an Immortal unable to be harmed forced to walk the world until the second battle with his brother commences. In the present, the time of prophecy is at hand. Tess Birdsong is the Weaver who the white wolves rally to her side. She has magic more powerful than any other Iliduin and she is determined to work with Annuvil to free the Anari who are slaves of the Bozanari. Fighting forces gather to fight the final battle. Rachel Lee brings to a grand conclusion her fantasy trilogy with SHADOW'S DESTINY a work that is full of sword and sorcery romance, epic battle scenes and political intrigue. The growing love between Tess and Archer is obvious to all around them but he is afraid to say the words for he fears she will die in the last battle. Tess overcomes her own demons and works to bring the warring races together. She is a strong powerful woman and readers will love how the tale ends.

Silver's Lure
Anne Kelleher
0373802374 $12.95

In the land of Brynhyvar, the High Queen Meeve is slowly dying from what she thinks is the same illness that took her mother. In reality she is slowly being poisoned by one of her inner circle and the Loquileans whose ambassador is on a state visit and whose mercenaries are spread around the countryside. The land knows something is wrong and it is not faring well. Blight is spreading across the land, goblins are on the rampage and Meeve's children answer her summons out of duty not love. The realm of Faerie is affected by events in the mortal world. The goblins kill much of the court including the king and queen, silver fromm the mortal world is making its way into faerie poisoning the land and the magic isn't grounded. Timias, who was sent to the human realm to learn druid magic in hopes of finding some way of learning to control the magic want to keep the borders between faerie and Shadow (the human world). Timias is an unnatural creature who can become Faerie, goblin and human depending on what realm he is in. Because of his desire to make Faerie safe for the Sidhe he becomes the catalyst to changes the way the mortal world is ordered. SILVER'S LURE is a very pleasant fantasy that focuses mainly on Meeve's children, all of whom are on a quest of some kind. In their own heroic way they are at the mercy of their feelings of duty and obligation to the land and to their mother. Readers may have a little trouble following all the subplots because they are linear and not sequential while the romantic sub-plot takes a back seat to the action oriented storyline.

Divine By Choice
P.C. Cast
037380251X $7.99

In the magical world of Partholon, where creatures of myth and legend exist, Shannon Parker, known as Lady Rhiannon, with the help of her allies has won the war with the demonic vampiric race the Famorians and killing their leader Nuada. Shannon was originally from Oklahoma but the real lady Rhiannon; High Priestess Incarnate and Beloved of the goddess Epona created a spell that had the two women change places. Shannon is happy in her new world and in love with her husband the centaur ClanFintan. She is pregnant with his child and is happy until another spell is cast and Shannon is returned to Oklahoma. The spell caster Clint was hoping to send the real Rhiannon back to her world but that part of it failed. He hates her perverted uses of sex, the murders she has committed, her need to be rich and powerful. Shannon wants to return to her home but she can't because in our world, Rhiannon has raised the spirit of Nuada who intends to kill all those she loves. She must find a way to banish him and she hopes with Clint's help, they can defeat the dark evil that that Rhiannon has called up. DIVINE BY CHOICE is a delightful continuation of the adventures of the former Oklahoma schoolteacher and her evil "twin" (see DIVINE BY MISTAKE). Readers curiosity about Rhiannon is totally satisfied and the love Shannon feels for her husband and Clint takes away from neither because it is blessed by Epona. P.C. Cast is a magical storyteller, a fantastic worldbuilder and a creative fantasist.

The Suspect
John Lescroart
Dutton Books
c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10014-3657
0525949984 $26.95 1-800-847-5515

When he returns to his San Francisco home following a weekend at Tamarack Lake, outdoor author Stuart Gorman finds his naked wife Dr. Caryn Dryden dead near their hot tub. San Francisco Police Department Inspector Sergeant Devin Juhle leads the official investigation. Stuart admits to the homicide detective that Caryn asked for a divorce, that their relationship was filled with domestic trouble and confesses that he hated her at least for this weekend though he also loved her; he has no alibi. More so he will receive a large life insurance settlement so his close friend, California State Assemblyman Jedd Conley recommends he obtain a lawyer because his arrest seems imminent. Jedd gets his pal the services of attorney Gina Roake, just back from sabbatical following personal tragedy. Though her ego is lifted by being chosen, Gina wonders why her when her client and senator could choose anyone in the city. Still she quickly sends investigator Wyatt Hunt to see if someone can affirm that Stuart was in the Sierra Nevada lake at the time of death and to look closely into Caryn's medical career to see if that had something to do with her homicide. The media accuses Stuart of drowning his wife, which sends the accused on the run; making the case that much more difficult to defend as the jury is already tainted before the trial has begun. This is an interesting legal thriller with a partner in Dismas Hardy's firm taking the lead on defending the client, convicted by a press frenzy before he even reaches the courtroom. The story line is fast-paced with interesting court scenes and a solid investigation into Caryn's professional connections. Though the ending seems implausible especially the post game twist and to dependent on an opening that Perry Mason would avoid, John Lescroart entertains his fans with this exciting tale.

The Perfect Fake
Barbara Parker
Dutton Books
c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10014-3657
0525949860 $25.95 1-800-847-5515

In Miami, realtor developer Stuart Barlowe lends a valuable five centuries old map to retired Judge Royce Herron before it was to be part of an exhibition and subsequently after that to be given as a present to a Russian mobster. However, someone assassinates the former judge whose blood seeps onto the rare map while the bullets also damage it. Barlowe is upset as he needs the Russian money to finance his latest deal but also fears how the mobster will react if told the truth. He offers a lot of money to graphic artist Tom Fairchild, who used to date his daughter Allison the lawyer, to develop a fake map. Though Tom's sister Rose begs him not to take the job, he takes the position and obtains advice from a professional forger who skipped the country and Rose to avoid jail. None of the Barlowe family trusts Tom. Stuart, his wife, his daughter and his stepson watches his every move while behind them the nasty Russian observes all of these throwaway pawns scurrying for safety. Except Rose, everyone else in this exciting thriller is at least bit amoral though the degrees vary amongst the players as Allison is much more ethical than her father or her former lover. The interplay between the members of the two families is fun as the audience wonders who will out-con who as trust is a dysfunctional verb. Fans of Barbara Parker will read THE PERFECT FAKE in one sitting to learn who is left standing.

Find Me
Carol O'Connell
Putnam Books
0399153950 $24.95

Historical Route 66 has become a death road with serial killer "Mack the Knife" having murdered over one hundred people. NYPD Detective Kathy Mallory is on vacation when she learns about the toll this killer has enacted. She vows to bring this sociopath to justice though her partner Riker and police psychologist Charles Butler reluctantly agree to assist her after failing to talk her out of leaving the killer to the local law enforcement agencies.Mallory acts as if she is the detective in charge running roughshod over the irate locals. Still she finds roadblocks not clues until Mack the Knife switches calling cards. The culprit leaves his victims on Route 66 with one hand chopped off and replaced by that of the previous prey. As she gets closer to the predator, Mallory risks her life to stop this efficient killing machine from murdering anyone else. In some ways Mallory is as obsessed as Mack the Knife is as she is fixated on stopping him while he is engrossed with killing especially since she spices up the kill in his warped mind. The action-packed story line is a classic case of cat and mouse with the locals wishing both contestants would take their mano a mano road show elsewhere. Machismo and testosterone (in spite Mallory being female) flows in this High Noon cop vs. serial killer journey on historical Route 66.

Jesse Kellerman
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0399154035 $24.95 1-800-847-5515

Following a shift as third year medical resident at St. Agatha's teaching hospital, Jonah Stem heeding to the unwritten guidance of the ghosts of students past of ODT (out the door or else be available) walks towards Time Square at two forty five in the morning. He needs to buy steady comfortable shoes as his Rockport Walkers died after two years on his feet. However, he follows up to a scream he hears; and intercedes between a knife wielding man and a pretty woman. The wannabe killer goes after Jonah, who instead kills the adversary. Jonah gains his fifteen minutes of fame, but quickly dives back into the medical student world. The woman he saved, Eve Gones, personally thanks him, which leads to a heated affair. However, her sado-masochistic needs scare Jonah who decides this it not right for him. He ends their relationship only to find himself being stalked by the dead assailant's family, the DA who questions the use of excess force and worst yet, Eve Gones ultimately leading to Stem understanding the motive of the man he killed. This is an excellent character study that digs deep into the mental deterioration of a nice Good Samaritan who goes from enjoying adulation to empathy towards the man he killed because of the relentless trouble caused by the woman he rescued. Readers who appreciate a deep powerful psychological thriller will want to Jesse Kellerman's second tale (see SUNSTROKE) that will be considered one of the sub-genre's top ten of the year.

Mike Maranhas
Pink Granite Press
0977780996 $14.95

They met in college, knew they were in love and got married. They had an idyllic union until Luke's brother died in a senseless accident. He withdraws from his wife Meesha, whose insecurities of abandonment turn her into a shrew. Meesha confronts him about a woman named Sandy at work when he comes home smelling of her scent. He goes off on Meesha, telling her the ugly things he feels about her. When he awakens in the middle of the night Meesha is not in the bed. He finds her in the cellar bleeding from self-inflicted wounds. They work to save their marriage and Meesha gets therapy and they get therapy as a couple as well. To cement their new beginning they fly to the Pacific island of Re'Enev with the blessing of their counselor. Luke persuades Meesha to explore the jungle with him only tragedy strikes on the isolated trail and she is badly injured. Luke tries to get help but he has difficulties of his own; without a miracle, both will die. Great characterizations, a fast paced plot, an exotic locale and a touch of intrigue make RE'ENEV a novel that will appeal to readers who like mainstream fiction, romance and suspense. The two protagonists are so realistic that readers know people like them. Luke makes some bad decisions and finding a way out of his dilemmas take all the courage and fortitude he possesses, which is plenty, but may not prove enough.

Vampire Apocalypse
Derek Gunn
Black Death
c/o KHP Industries
PO Box 588, Effort PA 18330
097679148X $14.99

With the depletion of fossil fuels, technology came to a grinding halt, the war in the mid-east making the oil reserves radioactive for years to come. The United States quickly developed into a new feudal society, with those with nuclear power plants charging enormous rates for limited power. Without communication, each community was left to survive or persist depending on their strength and supplies. It is then that the vampires came out of the night and began the enslavement of the human race. They were helped by thralls, humans bitten by vampires who were stronger and in league with their masters. The humans were penned up in walled cities to give blood once a week and take the serum that makes them zombies once a month so they have no will to fight or even think. However, there is hope because the resistance is alive and well and living on a military installation they call the Cave. On a raid to get medical supplies, another group simultaneously was sent for food and the third group was sent to kill the head vampire Nero. They didn't kill him, but they came back with the serum, a live sample of vampire blood and they have a scientist analyzing them to see what the serum does and if they can learn to make a weapon that will kill vampires at long range. They discover if they don't find a way to kill them and soon, the serum will destroy what is left of the human race. Horror fans especially those who love to read vampire thrillers are going to thoroughly enjoy this paranormal apocalypse tale. Although the humans are over powered by vampires, Derek Gunn's take on the mythos is fascinating, portraying them as sentient, long range planning beings who look upon humans as cattle. The audience will enjoy watching David take on Goliath.

Midnight Premiere
Edited by Tom Piccirilli
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit #7, Forest Hill, MD 21050
1587671468 $40.00

These eighteen horror stories pay homage to the genre's classic B movies with some of the contributors coming from the silver screen. The collection has a few excellent tales (mostly by veteran writers) such as Gary Braunbeck's scary "Onlookers", Thomas F. Montelone's "End of Story", Ray Garton's "Everything Must Go" and Ed Gorman's "Scream Queen", etc. However those written by the filmdom contributors even in tandem with a veteran author seem aimed more at zombies rather than horror fans. Still overall this is a fun compilation with the extra incentive of trying to pair the tale to a B, in some cases a D film.

Mad Dogs
Brian Hodge
Cemetery Dance
132-B Industry Lane, Unit #7, Forest Hill, MD 21050
1587671492 $40.00

B level (some will insist F level) Hollywood actor Jamey Sheppard is driving from California to marry his fiancee when he makes a pit stop at a Gulp 'n' Go in the Arizona desert. As he fills his vehicle with gas, a drunken deputy sheriff asks for ID and vehicle registration before smashing the actor's head against the car. The lawman pulls out his gun and accuses Jamey of being Duncan MacGregor, a role he played on TV's American Fugitive. The deputy fires the gun at Jamey head causing him to wet his pants, but no bullet was in the chamber. A second shot is fired, but this time the drunk kills himself accidentally. Jamey flees, but Arizona law enforcement, Duncan, and a few others believe he killed the deputy come after this "mad dog" for varying reasons. The lawman want to kill the punk who murdered one of them, Duncan wants to meet the dude who portrayed him and now joins him on the lam; others see large reward money for his apprehension, dead or alive. Finally Jamey's sister Melissa sees an opportunity to make money if he is dead as she would own her detestable sibling's films even as his notoriety as a national fugitive rises. She joins the manhunt to kill her dangerous brother. MAD DOGS is an insane thriller that satirizes reality TV especially reenactments of real crimes. The story line is fast-paced and at times is almost out of control like the beleaguered lead character that has done nothing wrong, but is the target of man hunts as if he is a rabid dog. Though the key motive why Melissa and Jamey loath one another is never explained, readers will appreciate this zany dark crime caper.

The Nativity Story
Angela Hunt
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
1414314620 $13.99 1-800-323-9400

This is the novelization based on Mike Rich's screenplay for the upcoming Nativity Story film. Angela Hunt for the most part tells THE NATIVITY STORY as most readers know it (no sense repeating the obvious). However, surprisingly, she makes her rendition fresh especially humanizing the Three Wise Men by intelligently yet humorously having them tease each other (sort of like locker room bantering) as a needed counterpoint to the cruel excesses of King Herod. Ancient Judea is vividly portrayed so much so that readers will feel they journeyed along side the travelers until they reach the stable while also avoiding Herod. This is a great rendition of the "greatest story ever told" that fans of Christian literature will fully appreciate as the holiday season is upon us.

Whispers of Winter
Tracie Peterson
Bethany House
5505 SW Illinois Street, Portland, OR 97221
0764227750 $12.99

In 1917 in the Alaskan Territory, with their ship sinking into the icy waters, Jacob Barringer, Jayce Kincaid and others are in trouble as they struggle to survive the freezing weather. They pray a rescue team will find them before each of them dies. At the same former Pinkerton Agent Helaina Beecham and Leah Kincaid pray for the safe return of their loved ones who have been away much longer than expected. Perhaps it is this common fear for their missing soul mates, but the close friendship between Helaina and Leah turns stronger as they turn to one another and to God for solace. Whereas Leah begins to doubt her Jayce will return to her, Helaina believes that Jacob will come home to Lost Chance, but not necessarily to her as he never told her he loved her; still all she prays for is the safe return of all the missing men. The final Alaskan Quest tale (see UNDER THE NORTHERN LIGHTS and SUMMER OF THE MIDNIGHT SUN) is a superb inspirational historical thriller that hooks the audience from the start as the women worry about the men stuck on some ice floe with little hope of rescue. Readers will appreciate the two subplots as the citizens of Lost Chance struggle with concern and with a debilitating epidemic while the men try to survive their ordeal (you will need a winter coat, gloves, a hat, and a scarf as the reader will feel the frozen temperatures). Tracie Peterson provides a terrific climax to an exciting early twentieth century inspirational saga.

Kristen Heitzmann
Bethany House
5505 SW Illinois Street, Portland, OR 97221
0764228293 $13.99

On the Hawaiian island of Kauai, a young woman lurches down the side of Hanalei Mountains. Monica Pierce finds the severely injured female who also suffers from amnesia. Unable to ignore the woman's plight Monica takes her in to care for her, but also wisely informs her twin, insurance investigator Cameron, who lives on the mainland. Though he is unable to figure out Jane Doe's con, Cameron thinks the "guest" is faking her memory loss. However, as the woman regains glimpses of her recent ordeal, she fears that the person who was with her may remain in danger though she cannot identity the person or even the gender. Cameron investigates the little that is known until he and the amnesiac locate the missing man, her uncle, who is also ailing. She is movie star Gentry Fox coming to Hawaii with her uncle to escape allegation of her committing indiscretions. Threats to her life while also feeling guilty for not believing her and sensing her vulnerability, Cameron risks his wellbeing to keep the woman he now loves safe. Readers will fully enjoy Karen Heitzmann's superb romantic suspense thriller with the emphasis on the suspense that keeps growing until the final altercation. The action-packed story line is so vivid the audience will believe they are in Hawaii worrying about who the mainlander is. When that is solved, the plot spins into a woman in peril as someone wants Gentry dead. The romance between the movie star and the insurance investigator remains mostly in the background serving a "required" but unneeded purpose as fans will appreciate this exciting thriller.

Tamera Alexander
Bethany House
5505 SW Illinois Street, Portland, OR 97221
0764201093 $12.99

In the late 1860s with the death of her spouse, pregnant Annabelle Grayson McCuthens feels alone as her life is filled with mistakes and regrets. She decides to leave Fountain Creek, Colorado to start fresh in a new home in Idaho in hopes of leaving behind her failures. She seeks to hire a guide to take her to her new beginning. Two men respond to her want ads. The younger one Matthew Taylor is running from his past just like Annabelle is. He applies for the position that he sees as a chance to start anew, but is stunned to learn if hired his employer is the Widow McCuthens, the woman he blames for his friend's death though he admits he helped cause the wrong that will haunt him for ever. The second Fountain Creek Chronicles (see REKINDLED) is an inspirational tale starring two souls with much remorse over errors they made that cost them and others plenty. The irony of this superb Americana is that Matthew scorns Annabelle though he holds himself in contempt too. Readers will be hooked early on to learn why as Tamara Alexander provides an interesting Reconstruction Era tale.

A Woman's Place
Lynn Austin
Bethany House
5505 SW Illinois Street, Portland, OR 97221
0764202650 $13.99

In Michigan during WW II, four women from different walks of life want to help the fight against the Nazis so they follow the ads of Rosie to accept jobs in factories. Ginny is a bored mousy housewife who assumes her spouse has cheated on her. Rosa fears nothing not even her new in-laws who demand she fit the mold of a nice Italian girl now that she is married to their son. Jean wants to leave the farm and her boyfriend Russ behind to attend college. Helen feels all alone since her parents death makes the spinster schoolteacher wealthy and depressed. These four females meet and forge a sisterly bond helping one another cope better with their problems and trepidations. Lynn Austin provides a deep historical look at A WOMAN'S PLACE during WWII when many of the gender stereotypes were broken. Each member of the quartet has problems with what society expects of them to include whether to obey is God's way. Inspirational fans and historical readers will enjoy the pivotal period in women's rights when proof became obvious that a female can do much more than housekeep and raising a family; we have come a long way baby.

Daylight Comes
Judith Miller
Bethany House
5505 SW Illinois Street, Portland, OR 97221
0764200003 $12.99

In 1882 Truth Wyman has remained in her hometown Nicodemus, Kansas while her husband Moses has served as the Graham County representative at the statewide Republican Convention for several months. He is the first black man to hold that honor and now is about to embark on another mark of distinction having been nominated by the party as the first black man to run for state auditor. A pregnant Truth is stunned as she does not wish to leave her family or her home to relocate, albeit temporarily, in Topeka. She struggles with her choices. After a European tour, Macia Boyle has returned home to Nicodemus' thriving twin prairie town Hill City thinking of the young men she left behind before she crossed the ocean. The blacksmith Jeb Malone wants to court her and she finds him quite handsome. The store owner's son Garrett Johnson is also a keeper. She struggles with her choices. The third book Freedom's Path historical novel (see FIRST DAWN and MORNING SKY) is a strong entry in a series that provides refreshing insight into the lives of African-American heritage on the Great Plains in the early 1880s. The story line focuses on the two females (and to a lesser degree a newcomer); each has tough decisions to make. Truth fails to live up to her name as she turns manipulative to get her husband to drop his run for state office while Macia must choose one and leave the other behind. Readers will enjoy this fine Americana tale in which choices are not often easy, but honesty rather than cruelty goes a long way to living with one's decisions afterward.

Beth Kendrick
Downtown Press
c/o Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
0743499603 $13.00 1-800-223-2336

Pastor Rick married the three couples (Stella and Mark, Erin and David, and Nick and Casey) in the past year, but failed to submit the appropriate documentation as required by law. In other words these three couples are not legally married. Now each has a second chance to reconsider whether they want to marry. All have doubts having had a first hand look at the baggage their mate's carry. The trio of females goes so far as meeting each other to compare notes and discuss their doubts. Will they choose I do or nevermore? Though the premise has been used quite often, Beth Kendrick provides a fun tale as the audience wonders if any or all of the couples will marry. Readers will understand the doubts and desires of the three females as they are reasonable developed. However, the men who might remain in their lives never come across beyond their fault lines so their doubts and desires never fully surface. Still this is a well written fine tale as each ponders to do or not to do for that is the question.

Eye of Heaven
Marjorie M. Liu
Leisure Books
0843957654 $6.99

Dirk & Steele operative Blue Perrineau is injured from an explosion and he knows he is fortunate to be alive. Needing to recover, he is taken off his current assignment and sent home to heal. Blue is unhappy with this turn, but understands he is unable to complete the mission. In the San Francisco airport, Blue learns of the death of the "great" man, his father Felix Perrineau, dead at seventy from a heart attack in his sleep. When his cell phone rings on the other end is a person speaking his mom's language Farsi and knowing too much about Blue and his parents. He meets the stranger who takes him to his "dead" father. Felix demands that Blue find his other son Daniel or his mom and his Dirk and Steele pals will pay the price. Though he loathes his sire, Blue believes the evil man and sets off to locate his half-brother. He easily fined Daniel working at a Vegas circus where Blue meets and is attracted to animal trainer Iris. When the shapeshifting woman is assaulted, the two siblings vow to keep her safe while both wonder if their dad is behind the attack while Blue finds himself in love. The latest Dirk & Steele thriller, as always, is a fast-paced, action-packed tale with the twist that the lead male is not on a work assignment, but instead this one is personal from the airport phone call through a complex lethal conspiracy until the final altercation. Blue and Iris are a fabulous pairing who as a team can handle almost anything, but supplemented by Daniel, they actually have a chance against overwhelming odds especially when the diabolically clever Felix is involved. Fans will enjoy perhaps the best novel in the series while newcomers will seek out the D&S backlist (see TIGER EYE, SHADOW TOUCH, and THE RED HEART OF JADE).

Stephen Laws
084395695X $7.99

After writer Cath Lane's husband was killed by a mugger in New York City, she moves with her daughter Rynne to a rural town in the Northumberland Moors. Although two years have passed, Cath still grieves and hasn't written a book since the mugging. Drew Hall, the owner of Fell Farm is their nearest neighbor and is also mourning for his wife who was killed when she fell into their shredder. They meet when Drew is in a near accident by Cath's home. Her housekeeper Faye assures Cath that Drew is a wonderful person. When they both give a talk at the meeting hall, Drew and Cath find they like each other. One day Drew calls her to come up to the farm because he wants to tell her something. There are Big Cats on his land, panther looking with a demonic face and he has spent the last two years hunting them because they have some unknown way of camouflaging themselves that makes them impossible to catch. They accidentally kill one of the creatures, capture another and put both in a cage but the dead one's mate is coming. While they are dealing with that problem, they are taken hostage by three killers who have stolen drugs from a businessman in town. The storm keeps them trapped in the house with a monster coming for them and it will be a miracle if any of them make it out alive. FEROCITY is part horror, part thriller and a totally entertaining work reminiscent of THE FLOCK by James Robert Smith. There is plenty of action on different fronts, the big cats, the kidnappers, and the storm but it is the characters who make this book a cut above the average horror thriller. The protagonists are likeable and will go to the wall for each other and Cath's daughter. Though over the top, this is definitely a one sitting reading experience.

Love in a Bottle
Zoe Archer
0843957387 $6.99

In 1763 England, botanist Sophie Andrews meets handsome rogue Ian Blackpool, who sells love potions. Attracted to him before his revelation, Sophie calls him a con artist and accepts his challenge to try his formula. Still she has no time to waste ogling the handsome man or the "effect" of his so-called love potion. She sets off on her own as she feels she must save her uncle kidnapped by Dark Dan McGannon and his deadly cohorts. To his chagrin Ian feels a need to keep Sophie safe so he joins her on her trek over her objections. As they trek together, he explains that love is a chemical reaction that can be bottled with his insistence his formula is the one elixir that can work. However Ian begins to wonder if he drank the potion as he keeps disproving his theory that love can be bottled one kiss at a time. This is an amusing Georgian romance with some suspense enhancing the wonderful tale of two individuals debating whether love can be bottled. Sophie, to her mom's chagrin, is a unique female blueblood botanist while Ian is the classic impish hero (Think Han Solo), who cannot stop himself from having to help her. Zoe Archer hits Cupid's bull's-eye with this fun historical.

The Mad, Bad Duke
Jennifer Ashley
0843956070 $6.99

Meagan Tavistock ridicules the notion of love potions or amulets and charms as just a way a con artist can take money from a fool. Still she is willing to try anything to woo the mad Duke Alexander into her bed; thus she assumes she is a fool in love and acquiesces to a friend's idea to buy a love token. With charm in place, Meagan and Alexander meet and the attraction is incredible as neither can resist the sexual lure. When they are caught in a compromising position, they are forced to marry. As she has doubts about whether her love is real or magically induced, she wonders what dark secret her mad duke hides from her. As she uncovers his ability to shift change, Meagan gets involved on a mission he must complete if they are to have a life together. Jennifer Ashley stays on land with this delightfully charming paranormal historical romance starring a courageous take that hill female and a fascinating dark brooding duke who gives the early story line a gothic feel until the audience learns his secret. Meagan takes charge of the plot as she decides that THE MAD, BAD DUKE is hers though she is a bit worried about what he ultimately unsuccessfully tries to hide from her. Readers will enjoy her amusing yet dangerous escapades that beings out the loving beast in Alexander.

Diane Groe
0843957891 $6.99

Without a thought for her own safety, Princess Brenna races to her sister Moira, who just shrieked, but to her elation her sibling is okay, but the muscular Normanni lying on the beach looks dead. However, this Northman proves to be alive when he grabs Moira's wrist. Outraged by his touching her sister, who was raped by one of his species, Brenna buries her staff into his thigh forcing him to let go of her sibling. To her surprise he understands her cursing him in Gaelic, but he cannot remember why or even who he is. He takes the name Keefe. Unable to let him die, Brenna helps him heal. As he recovers his health, Keefe displays a kind gentle nature instead of the berserker warrior stereotype raider she expected like those who assaulted her sister. As Brenna and Keefe fall in love and her father chooses him as her handfast husband, they learn who he is truly is when they travel to Dublin where the King of the Vikings rules. ERINSONG is an engaging medieval star-crossed romance as the Irish princess and the Viking warrior fall in love though their people detest and distrust one another. The story line is driven by Brenna's changing attitude towards Keefe; as he heals he proves not to be a raging marauder raping and plundering, but instead he shows kindness to everyone especially her sister. Though the action picks up in the latter half when the lead duo journeys to Dublin, historical romance readers will want to read Diane Groe's fine tale that brings to life early Eire at a time when the Vikings have already raided and conquered part of the country.

Darkness Wakes
Tim Waggoner
0843957948 $6.99

Aaron is a middle aged man, who lives in the small Ohio town of Ptolemy, and he is restless and unfulfilled. He feels like life is passing him by and although he loves his wife Kristen her low sex drive has him fantasizing about his neighbor Caroline. One night he drops off some CDs at the shopping center when he sees Caroline with a man not her husband and they go through a door that he never noticed before using a key in her possession. The next day she comes to his vet practice where they participate in sexual foreplay before she invites him into Penumbra, the place she entered the night before. He accepts thinking it is a sex club which it is, but it is also much more. Towards the end of the evening, the members take him into a dark locked room and tell him not to enter the circle embedded in the concrete. They have a rabbit enter the circle and the Overshadow grows eating the essence of the sacrifice. As a reward, the Overshadow touches each member giving it pleasure so intense that they become addicted to it. Aaron is in for a surprise because the Overshadow has special gift for him. Tim Waggoner is a magnificent horror writer who will be appreciated by readers who like Douglass Glegg and Bentley Little. DARKNESS WAKES is worthy of a Bram Stoker nomination because this is one creepy and scary horror thriller. The erotic sex scenes are a necessary prelude to the real intense pleasure given by the Overshadow. As in his fantasy books, Mr. Waggoner doesn't neglect character development so readers understand what motivates each person in the story.

Hired Gun
Bobbi Smith
0843956658 $6.99

In the Arizona Territory, Apache marauders kidnap a young girl. Although there is little hope to get the Ryan child back alive, the family hires the best, Trent Marshal, a loner with extraordinary hunting skills for two footed predators. However, before he can get on the trail, the victim's older sister Faith demands she accompany him on his quest. He tells her no, but she vows to follow him. Rather than waste time he agrees, but warns her to keep up or he will leave behind regardless of where they are. On the trail Trent finds the woman can keep up with him, but also is a distraction as he realizes he desires her. Still though he enjoys the taste of Faith's lips, he controls his passion because her sister comes first with the promise of rewards when they succeed in the rescue. However, as they continue to search for her sibling, he fears they have no future because he has so many enemies wanting him dead who are willing to kill anyone he cares about. This reconstruction western romance is an interesting tale starring a loner, who lives by his guns and the woman who has him doubting his lifestyle. Though the plot focuses on the rescue mission, the lead duo makes it fun as he goes from resentment to desire while she goes from scorn to desire. The story line is action-packed as Bobbi Smith once again brings home the danger of the 1870s in the Southwest.

Hawk's Prize
Elaine Barbieri
0843956380 $6.99

Drew Hawk assumes his two sisters died in an inferno at the orphanage. Heartbroken, the former Confederate solider comes to Galveston hoping to find his brother Whit though he must do so serendipitously because he is also a wanted man. Still suffering from a leg wound that he has not given it enough time to heal, Drew, suffering from a related fever, collapses at Madame Chantalle's bordello. As he recovers he sees an "angel" of mercy caring for him. When he fully regains his senses Drew finds he is attracted to his angel, Tricia Lee Shepherd, who reciprocates his deepest feelings. As they fall in love, Simon Gault, who wants the Hawk siblings dead, observes the goings-on between the two lovebirds with euphoria; he believes he has an expendable pawn to draw Drew out into the open; all he has to do is abduct Tricia. Fans of the Hawk's P tales (see PASSION by Elaine Barbieri, and PLEDGE and PURSUIT by Constance O'Banyon) will appreciate the final western romantic suspense as Drew is somewhat distracted from his quest by falling in love. The action-packed story line never slows down from the start until the final confrontation. However, what makes the quartet fun to read is how effortlessly the two authors insure their key cast remains consistent. HAWK PRIZE is a fine Reconstruction Era Texas thriller.

So Much for My Happy Ending
Kyra Davis
Mira Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
077832351X $13.95

While the stars twinkle above the Golden Gate Bridge, Tad Showers tells April Silverperson that he loves her and wants to marry her though they are only dating for three months. April reciprocates his feelings and has waited two decades to change her last name as no one should be called Silverperson, but to become April Showers is a cruel joke of fate. Still she accepts as she feels safe and protected when she is with Tad. Nothing goes right with the wedding that she thought would be a small personal affair without her mother attending for some enigmatic reason that only mom understands; instead half of the city shows up for the nuptials. At Dawson where she works, her boss insists that she needs no time off for a wedding, honeymoon, or the rainbow test. Worse, April finds she prefers spending time with musician Jeremiah Ramano than with Tad. Then there is mom messing up again. However, the final straw is Tad who lied about his childhood, has bipolar disorder that is controllable when he takes his medication, and has other sociopath issues that leave April frightened and worried instead of safe and contented. SO MUCH FOR MY HAPPY ENDING is a deep character study that is told from the perspective of a beleaguered April who struggles to cope with her bipolar disorder husband especially as his lies and his extreme behavior swings surface at a time she is attracted to someone else. The story line is driven by April, a wonderful protagonist, who provides a deep a look inside a person's soul. Kyra Davis provides her audience with a powerful insight into living with someone suffering with a mental disorder though Tad assists her in making her choice too easy at the end.

Gayle Wilson
Mira Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0778323617 $6.99

After her spouse John died, writer Blythe Wyndham, accompanied by her four years old daughter Maddie, returns to her hometown of Crenshaw, Alabama to be near her family, especially her grandma Miz Ruth. However, rather than impose on her beloved grandmother, Blythe rents a somewhat isolated small house. Soon Blythe begins hearing noises at night that frighten her while Maddie suffers from apparent nightmares, something that never happened to her before the move. Blythe begins to wonder if this home could be haunted by Rachel who was murdered there twenty-five years ago. Desperate to know the truth, Blythe asks Sheriff Cade Jackson to investigate while elderly Miz Ruth's long time companion psychic Delores Simmons insists she sees something from the beyond calling to her daughter. Cade agrees though he assumes both ladies are on edge because of the death of the paternal member of the household as much as from the homicide history of their rental. However, before he can dig deep, the house burns down. Though no one is hurt Cade believes a mortal person wanted the past left dead. BOGEYMAN is an excellent one sitting paranormal romantic suspense thriller in which readers will jump at every noise they hear during the night (and several subsequent evenings afterward). The gripping story line is fast-paced as the audience agrees with Cade that the two female Wyndhams are suffering from grief, but like the sheriff soon change their mind wondering if Delores is right or someone living wants the past buried. Gayle Wilson is at her best with this superior tale that should have cross genre appeal to suspense fans too.

The Secret Lives of Doctors' Wives
Ann Major
Mira Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0778323463 $6.99

In Austin, Texas, someone murders plastic surgeon Dr. Pierce Carver. Austin Homicide Detective Michael Nash leads the investigation into the slashing killing of the renowned physician whose hands were tied together with a black bra that the cop assumes belongs to nurse Rose Marie Castle, a woman both men knew intimately. Michael quickly learns that Rosie was the last person to have seen her late fiance alive with their parting being an argument and a broken engagement. She is a prime suspect having motive, means, and opportunity. However, so did Carver's former wives, his business associate, and just about anyone who met the arrogant but gifted plastic surgeon. Knowing she is a prime suspect and not trusting her former boyfriend to look elsewhere, Rosie begins her own investigation, quite amateurish. She gets in Michael's face and he is bothered because he still wants her. Combining an amateur sleuth thriller with an urban police procedural, Ann Major provides her audience with a strong romantic suspense tale. The story line is action-packed though some slapstick moments seem intrusive while lessening the tension. Still the suspense hooks the audience wanting to know what twist comes next and whether the lead couple will end up together handcuffed in or out of bed. THE SECRET WIVES OF DOCTORS' WIVES is a strong whodunit romance.

The Crystal Rose
Rebecca Brandewyne
0778322963 $6.99

In 1835 Delhi, India, Lord Thornleigh's haveli (home) is on fire. Young Rose Windermere watches the blaze from her window next door and worries that her best friend thirteen year old Hugo Drayton, Thornleigh's son, will die in the inferno. Rose and her family survive the conflagration while the Thornleigh brood including Hugo is assumed to be all dead. A sad Rose believes that her pal survived because she knows she would somehow feel a loss inside if he died. Her family returns to England soon after the fiery debacle while Hugo lives in hiding saved by his man-servant Mayur Singh though his parents were murdered in the fire as a cover-up. Years later in Covent Garden, a stranger slips a letter into the hand of Rose that says very little that makes sense to her. However, when she meets an Indian businessman, Rose feels she knows him from most likely her time in the subcontinent. She goes with her gut and soon encounters Hugo alive and well with a plan to expose his odious cousin as an avaricious murderer of his uncle and aunt in India over fifteen years ago and now is involved in a conspiracy against the throne. This is an exhilarating Victorian romantic suspense that grips the audience with the vivid opening sequence in which the reader sees the fire through the eyes of Rose. The story line contains several twists afterward though seems a bit over the edge with the unneeded threat to Queen Victoria, as Hugo has enough on his plate to prove his relative is a cold blooded killer and the show he loves his childhood sweetheart with an adult love. Historical romance readers will enjoy Rebecca Brandewyne's fine thriller.

Dearest Enemy
Nan Ryan
077832348X $6.99

In 1859, eighteen years old Suzanna LeGrande is happy living in Virginia with her widow mom and an older brother, Matthew, a West Point graduate. Her brother introduces her to a friend from his cadet days, Ty Bellinggrath. It is love at first sight as they begin seeing one another. One year later he proposes and she accepts. By April 1861, Virginia secedes from the Union and joins the Confederate States; her brother and her fiance join Lee. That summer as the Confederacy gains a great victory at nearby Manassas, the two men in her life die in battle. Suzanna vows vengeance on the damn Yankees. Over the next few years Suzanna pretends to be a social butterfly, but is obtaining valuable information for the South as she spies on her Northern guests. In 1864 Union Naval Rear Admiral Mitchell Longley falls in love with Suzanna, but stupidly leaves classified material lying around that she obtains. Suzanna loves Mitch, but her vow means more. She steals the information, which leads to many deaths. Mitch is shattered as he knows who betrayed him. He lives for one thing to destroy the Southern Belle who killed their love. Nan Ryan writes a terrific star-crossed Civil War romance that grips readers once Suzanna vows to see Yankee blood flow and never slows down until Mitch pledges to avenge the flow of Yankee blood caused by the betrayal. The lead characters are fully developed especially when anger takes over reasoning as each drives the exhilarating story line with the personal conflicts over loving a DEAREST ENEMY. This is a one sitter historical to learn how it plays out.

Jus Neuce
Aio Press
P.O. Box 30788 ,Charleston , SC 29417
1933083018 $14.00

Over a hundred and fifty years ago, earth sent ships to the stars seeking habitable planets. They found one in Nocturne, an orb circling a red dwarf star with only one side ever faceing its sun. Earth sends colonists there once, but never returns and over time three societies form, consumer-based Prime, blue collar factory Back, and agricultural Kaettegut. They are tied together by the same capital Jefferson and a dependency on trade. Terrorists blow up a Kaettegut hydroponics unit injuring several members of a visiting Prime inspection team headed by Jenning Crote. Kaettegut's highest ranking official Agricultural Administrator Chauncey Benner leads an investigation to uncover who is behind the attack and why. However, the Jefferson contingency do not trust her or anyone from Kaettegut so they refuse to cooperate. Some of the Kaettegut cabinet sees this as an opportunity to break away from the oppressive ties to Nocturne. In Jefferson, three political parties (Expansionists, Resourcists, and Status Quo) vie for power with different opinions on how to react to the terrorist act even as those in the Back sees this as a chance to demand better working conditions. Everyone agrees nothing will be the same as fears mount that open warfare is imminent. This is an interesting but very complex science fiction thriller that showcases the societal differences between the three prime groups that make up Nocturne that has led to decades of distrust. The story line is built around the official investigation, but in fact is more about how substrata populations especially those vying for power react to the explosion and the inquires as everyone has an agenda. This is not easy to read as no one truly carries the plot but fans of deep thought provoking sci fi will want to take the time as Jus Neuce writes an insightful look at societal pressures that run the gamut from total reform to total control to status quo.

Seven Touches of Music
Zoran Zivkovic
Aio Press
P.O. Box 30788 ,Charleston , SC 29417
1933083042 $23.95

"The Whisper". Dr. Martin had five learning disabilities students including autistic six years old Phillip. Dr. Martin brings in a recording of a Chopin Concerto that leads to Phillip providing a physics response involving the fine-structure constant. "The Fire". Lonely Mrs. Martha suddenly envisions the Library of Alexandria where somehow she obtains a lost book during the inferno. "The Cat". Mr. Oliver never visited second hand shops until after his wife, a frequenter of those establishments, died. That is where his late spouse bought Oscar the Cat who reluctantly trusts the old man to feed him. When Mr. Oliver brings home a music box that trust is tested as ghosts of his loved ones suddenly visit. "The Waiting Room". Miss Adele hates to travel, but plans to take the five hour train ride to see her ailing sister Mrs. Teresa. In the waiting room, an old man plays an organ grinder as she sees the apparition of her sister. "The Puzzle". After retiring from the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence project, Mr. Adams feels compelled to paint when he listens to music in the local park though he had no artistic inclination during his first sixty-five years of life. "The Violinist". The Professor knows he will die tonight. When he hears a violin playing, he goes back six decades to when he was a lad in Italy practicing on a violin. "The Violin-Maker". Inspector Muratori assumes violin-maker Mr. Tomasi committed suicide while his assistant Mr. Umbertini knows his employer had completed the perfect violin before dying, but defected as it was built incorrectly. These fascinating seven somewhat interrelated short stories are powerfully dark tales that focus on communication or lack of as universal secrets unfold. This reviewer read the contributions as separate entities though by the final tale the complex link will have cleverly completed its crescendo.

Talking to Trees
Kathryn Sullivan
Amber Quill Press
PO Box 50251, Bellevue, WA 98015
1592797601 $13.50

At the mall with her inane friends, teenager Jody Burns notices the oddly dressed girl with green hair pop out of the air. The strange girl comes over to Jody saying she is the one who her ailing Grandma, with assistance from the Keeper of the Gate, sent her to bring back to save their world. Jody's friends leave while she tries to expedite herself from this insane Twylgalitis. Her twin brother's friend Jeanne Tucker arrives followed by Billy. When Billy realizes Jody took his wristguard silver bracelet without his permission, he yells at her, but she being the taller twin is not afraid of him. The three earthlings assume that Twyl as they call her really needs Billy not Jody. Twyl and reluctantly Jody enter the portal followed by Jeanne, but Billy is blocked. As Jody and Twyl end up in the grove TALKING TO THE TREES, Jeanne heals Grandma and Billy is somewhere in the past. Soon the three humans and their new partner will meet up with wizards and other supernatural beings to confront an ancient evil one that is trying to escape from its imprisonment to destroy the Free Land. This is the sequel to the CRYSTAL THRONE, a terrific young adult fantasy that besides making the Free Lands and its inhabitants seem real brings an abject lesson of humility to Jody as she detests the way the female Trees treat her as being beneath them because of hair color, skin, and clothing. The story line is action-packed focusing more on Jody's adventures in a world without a mall that she is totally unprepared for and believes the wrong Burns is in the role of hero. Fans of all ages will enjoy her coming of age tale to stop an evil old one from turning the Free Lands into a dead zone.

Some Like It Hot
Lori Wilde
Harlequin Hotel Marchand
Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373389434 $4.99

At Chez Remy, the four-star restaurant inside of the French Quarter Hotel Marchand, the cooking war between Sous Chef Melanie Marchand and Executive Chef Robert LeSoeur is hot and spicy with neither willing to budge an inch except when it comes to the palate of the guests. Their gender battle hides the attraction each feels for the other as neither wants to explore their lustful thoughts as each assumes it is one sided and fears giving an edge to their adversary. However, Melanie reconsiders her strategy when she realizes that Robert actually wants her. She decides to try honey instead of vinegar; red hot pepper instead of cold cucumber. However, she wants only a one time fling as she vowed to never have any permanent commitment with a male since her first marriage as a teen was rotten and he has secrets that make him agree. So why do this pair keep wanting more dessert? Readers will like it hot with this delicious Hotel Marchand contemporary romance. Melanie and Robert are a fiery passionate pair who love preparing mouth watering meals almost as much as they love one another. Fans will enjoy this gender war in the kitchen that is resolved in the bedroom.

The Other Wife
Shirley Jump
Harlequin Next
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373881185 $5.50

Neither Penny nor Susan had the slightest inkling that they were married at the same time to the same man. That is neither knew until Dave Reynolds died. Both are shocked to learn about the other and Penny is further stunned to learn that Dave and Susan also had a dog, no less a Harvey the pianist terrier; as she and Dave lived as a dinka (double income, no kids/animals) lifestyle. They meet for the first time at Dave's funeral with neither blaming THE OTHER WOMAN. Unable to resist both women agree to see each other to discuss Dave. They agree they need to know why he did this to the two women as each wonders what they lacked in terms of Dave. Penny and Susan begin an odyssey learn the truth. THE OTHER WIFE is a fascinating character study as the two wives of Dave become friends while seeking the reasons he was a bigamist. Penny and Susan are interesting protagonists who grow emotionally as they make a "Dave" tour that is filled with humor, poignancy, and detours. Readers like this reviewer will jump to find other works (see RESCUED BY MR. RIGHT) by this fine author.

Confessions of a Not So Dead Libido
Peggy Webb
Harlequin Next
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373881169 $5.50

Louise Jernigan and Patsy Leslie became best friends when they were ten years old. Over the next four and a half decades they have been there for one another for the good times and the bad especially when each lost their spouse. Cementing their relationship was when their children Josh and Diana married and soon both will joyfully become grandmothers. However, in spite of being close to each other, both miss having a man in their life. However, no prospects are in sight until now. A hunk has just moved into town with Louise and Patsy determined to make him hers. Will a battle over a man end forty five years of friendship or will the two females cool off their libidos before they go too far? Making a case that people in their fifties have sexual needs, Peggy Webb provides a delightfully amusing look at friendship that has survived everything for over forty-five years, but now teeters due to loose libidos. Readers will enjoy the rotating perspectives of the same event seen differently by the mother in-laws. When a man enters the mix, havoc (and fun for readers) becomes the norm as the audience wonders whether the friendship will survive a male intrusion.

Motherhood without Parole
Tanya Michaels
Harlequin Next
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373881150 $5.50

In Richmond, Virginia, forty-two year old technical writer Kate married widower CEO Paul St. James though she has concerns about the reactions of his two children whom she has not met when they come home from boarding school. However, before the family can cement relationship, Paul is imprisoned for corporate fraud on Valentine's Day. Kate takes charge of someone else's offspring though she has no idea how to deal with children. Neither Neve nor PJ wants a replacement mom especially one as hopeless at domestic matters like Kate is. In fact her outraged teenage stepdaughter Neve openly displays her hostility. As she tries to adapt and help the kids, she finds her life vanishing underneath the demands of Paul's kids as soccer mom she is not and the comparisons to her caring sister-in-law Lily make her feel even worse. Kate is a fascinating protagonist who is not ready to raise children, but feels initially obligated to do so though her preference is to let her in-laws in Florida or Lily who lives nearby cope with her stepchildren. Her obligation more to Paul than his offspring begins to turn to mutual understanding and respect between the beleaguered stepmom and the kids and Lily, who in turn change from animosity to comprehension of Kate's sacrifice. Readers will appreciate this fine family drama starring a realistic cast.

The Gossip Queens
Kate Austen
Harlequin Next
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373881177 $5.50

Mercedes runs the Sand Dollar Motel on Canada's Sunshine Coast. Currently she is upset because her daughter Julie is marrying the town cop. She fears it will be similar to her ex-husband who fled with the family fortune just before his offspring was born. Rose and her spouse Sam own the Way-Inn where she works as the hostess and waitress. While Sam is the best cook for miles and loves the kitchen, Rose thinks they should adopt a child, which he opposes. Doris is sixty-eight years old and a widow. She is raising her grandchild Baby Emily since her daughter Tonika was severely injured in an accident. These three have been maternal angels for the townsfolk, but they are in need of solace as each has issues to face. THE GOSSIP QUEENS is a wonderful look at small town Canadian living through the eyes of three older women who have always been there for family and friends, but now have needs of their own and count on one another for support. Each of the lead trio seems like a genuine person who could be a neighbor or a relative. Fans of insightful character studies starring female buddies will enjoy this fine tale once the key players are introduced to the reader.

Court Me, Cowboy
Barbara White Daille
Harlequin American
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373751443 $5.50

Gabe Miller holds the gold band as a symbol of failure. The ring was given to him by his beloved Marissa, who's "Forever" turned out to be three weeks before she left him and ultimately divorced him. His life lessons are not to trust women and love. Several months later Marissa returns informing Gabe they remain married and that she is pregnant. She still wants to divorce him while Gabe prays that he persuades her to stay with him for he fears she will bolt, child and all. Marissa knows that she loves Gabe, but fears that love because things happened so fast. Gabe has his work cut out for him if he wants her and their unborn with him forever. This is a fine second chance at love romance though Marissa's issues seem too deep to end happily. She drives the tale with her seemingly schizoid personality as she loves Gabe and believes he loves her back, but does not trust in the staying power of these new feelings that sprung up upon first sight. Readers will feel for Gabe who knows what he did wrong in his desire for his beloved and what he must do differently. Barbara White Daille displays a fine skill at characterization with this charmer.

A Woman with Secrets
Inglath Cooper
Harlequin SuperRomance
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373713843 $5.50

When her former husband Karl steals Kate Winthrop's inherited wealth she angrily breaks into his affluent Richmond home to confront him and take back her money. He is not there, but her cash is. She succeeds, but decides to avoid the rat by going on a Caribbean cruise. Her esteem in the toilet, her plan is to stay by herself for the most part, browbeating herself for marrying such a louse as well hide from the parasite who she assumes will be searching for her. However many of the other passengers refuse to allow her to be a hermit. The worst is the kind hunk, Captain Cole Hunter who treats her with respect though he too has trust issue as his ex vanished with their daughter. Neither is ready to care deeply about one another, but love does not care what they think. Though the two ex's are seen as cruel and unfair caricatures through the respective prejudiced filters of the lead couple, this is a strong second chance at love tale. The story line focuses on this "I'm not in love" pair who each carries baggage from their previous relationship. Placing this likable duo on a cruise in the Caribbean as the setting leads to the audience enjoying a woman (and a man) with secrets.

Once Upon a Christmas
Brenda Novak, Melinda Curtis and Anna Adams
Harlequin SuperRomance
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373713800 $5.50

"Just Like the Ones We Used To Know" by Brenda Novak. Angela Forrester wants to give her beloved foster child Kayla the gift she desires for Christmas; in a school assignment Kayla wants to meet her biological father, Matthew Jackson in Virginia City, who is unaware that he sired a daughter. "The Night before Christmas" by Melinda Curtis. Instead of his usual limo driver who is off for the Christmas holiday with his family, Emma Roberts drives Simon Castle to a key business meeting involving union reps who think he is a rat. She teaches him more than just the meaning of the holiday season as he learns to humanize his heart. "All the Christmases to Come" by Anna Adams. Single father Andrew Durham and Rachel Ford love one another, but disagree over having children. He wants none and she wants some. They break up since they have no room for compromise until he learns his Rachel is carrying his second child. Now he must persuade her he wants her, his offspring, and his unborn to form a happy family with him.
These are three lighthearted warm second chance at love Yuletide tales.

Christmas in Hawthorn Bay
Kathleen O'Brien
Harlequin SuperRomance
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373713827 $5.50

Hawthorn Bay Mayor Nora Carson knows that the city council's plan to raze Killian mansion will bring home the last person she wants to see in the world, her high school sweetheart attorney Jack Killian. Her fear is not political or even progress vs. heritage debate; instead it has to do with her eleven years old son Colin, who has the eye and hair coloring of a Killian. When Jack meets Colin, he realizes this kid shares his DNA though he assumes Nora is the mother from when they made love when he was drunk. However, Nora has a second secret she kept from Jack in which he is half right about Colin's parents. He is the father, but her late best friend Maggie is the biological mother instead of her because of a "death bed" promise made when she was nineteen and Maggie died giving birth. She fears if he learns the truth, he will take her to court in a custody battle and win taking beloved son from her. As he begins his inquisition, Jack realizes he still wants Nora and believes she needs him too, but something is keeping her from admitting her love for him. This is a fine second chance at love contemporary romance that readers will enjoy though many will doubt that pediatrician Dr. Ethan Jacobs even out of his love for Maggie would allow what happened including especially his falsifying the birth record. If you can get past the opening scene in Maine, fans will enjoy a warm tale starring two people arguing yet still in love.

Dashing Through the Mall
Sherryl Woods, Darlene Gardner & Holly Jacobs
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
037383733X $5.99

"Santa, Baby" by Sherryl Woods. Following an ugly divorce, Amy Riley moved with her two children from Michigan to the Charlotte area. Today she is supposed to take her five years old son Josh and her infant Emma to the mall to see Santa; so in spite of a fever she does. However, Josh vanishes, panicking Amy, but with the help of the kind Santa, police officer Nicholas DiCaprio, they find her child and much more. "Assignment Humbug" by Darlene Gardner. TV reporter Merry Deluca's mother accuses her of being an un-American female as she suffers from shopahobia. However, to her chagrin her station sends her to the King Mall to cover a story. Worse her cameraman is former fiance Patrick MacFarland who wants a second chance to prove they belong together though he is concerned that going for the mistletoe might be over the top. "Deck the Halls" by Holly Jacobs. After hearing every imaginable musical version of White Christmas (Bing must be turning over), Joy O'Connell has had it with the Yuletide holiday. However, when you are a Harrington and Vine store manager at the mall, you better accept Christmas music to cheer up the customers. Making matters worse much of the employees have the flu just as Dr. Edward Hall and his three terrorist sons invade her sanctuary. These are three fun, cute lighthearted Christmas romance tales that start off with bah humbug, but soon turns to joy to the world.

The Christmas Twins
Tina Leonard
Harlequin American
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373751419 $4.99

In Tulip, Texas, Jessica Tomball Farnsworth and Zach Forrester meet and are instantly attracted to one another. Neither can resist what they feel for one another and soon they make love as if there will be no tomorrow. Several mornings after, Jessica learns she is pregnant and will give birth to twins in the spring. The Ladies of the Tulips Saloon see a chance to tie down the wild Zach as they feel Jessica and the unborn twins are good for him and for the town that needs the next generation if it is to survive. However, though he wants to give something back to the town like building a new school, he does not want it to be a family though he plans to do right by his offspring. Still with a horde of matchmakers on the prowl, Zach has no chance to escape unless an even more reluctant Jessica continues to object to marrying him. THE CHRISTMAS TWINS is an amusing contemporary romance starring a likable couple in which neither wants to get married although the attraction is strong and the unborn quite a catalyst. The eccentric townsfolk, including his father, play matchmaker tossing the lead pair together while her parents have cardiac arrest when they learn their daughter is pregnant. Tina Leonard writes a lighthearted Texas tale in which a band of wily matchmakers tiptoe through the Tulips of Texas.

The Quiet Child
Debra Salonen
Harlequin American
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373751435 $4.99

With Christmas approaching, Alex Radonovic, head of Dancing Hippo Day Care and Preschool, feels her loneliness as her three sisters (see "Sisters of the Silver Dollar" tales) have found their loved ones. She found hers several years ago, but her then fiance Mark Gaylord ended their relationship when he admitted to her that he cheated on her with his police force partner Tracey, who became pregnant. He married Tracey and Alex heartbroken moved on. Still she will get through this season as she did Mark. Shockingly a desperate and divorced Mark visits Alex at her preschool asking for her help. He wants her to work with his depressed son Braden, who he thinks might have been abused or neglected by Tracey. Alex prefers nothing to do with her betrayer who broke her heart with the proof of his infidelity. That is until she sees sad Braden and thinks the sins of the father should not be borne by the son. Mark knows immediately how much he lost when he lost the caring, loving Alex, but will do nothing towards a second chance because Braden must come first. Braden will steal readers' hearts as she does Alex and Mark. The audience will hope nurturing him with love will help this young lost soul. Alex is a fascinating character who though hurt badly by Mark not only successfully moved on with her life, reaches out to Braden; fans of the miniseries already know she has a heart of gold. Though Tracey is too over the edge with her emotional and physical woes including drug dependency, readers will enjoy this well written second chance at love with inadvertently a sad child serving as a matchmaker.

The Sheriff's Son
Barbara White Daille
Harlequin American
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373751354 $4.99

In Dillon, Texas Sarah Lindstrom and Tanner Jones were childhood friends, who became high school lovers until they graduated. He abruptly joined the military while she ran away carrying his child. After Kevin is born she returns home with no one the wiser as to the identity of the father though some townsfolk probably know but keep quiet. Eight years Tanner is back home as a temporary Deputy Sheriff who has captured her son for egging his official vehicle. He realizes that he still wants Sarah and believes she feels the same way; family and friends, especially her son, also see the obvious attraction between them and try to matchmake the former high school sweethearts with Kevin pulling stunts to get Tanner's attention. However, Sarah rejects the notion of a second chance at love because he hurt her once and she fears telling him the secret she has kept to herself for almost eight years. Though the theme of hiding a son from a parent even in open sight has been done before, Barbara White Daille provides a fresh scenario the with this fine small town second chance at love romance. The lead couple is a likable pair who want a relationship, but she dreads going for it as he hurt her once before when she most needed him and his reaction to being a dad. This small town Texas tale is a warm entertaining relationship drama.

The Untamed Heiress
Julia Justiss
Harlequin HQN
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373771134 $6.99

When his wife ran off with her lover, Lord Lambarth punished their daughter Helena keeping her a virtual prisoner at their castle for the past decade. Nine years ago she escaped, but the villagers simply returned the wee girl whose mind they assumed went over the edge when her mom vanished to her irate father. Only the recently deceased medicine hermit "Mad Sally" enabled Helena to survive her captivity. Now her dad is dead but instead of mourning her sire's demise, Helena rejoices as she is finally free and plans to find her mom. She goes to London though she has no idea how to behave amidst the Ton. Her mom's cousin Lady Lillian Darnell takes in Helena, who learns her mom died, but left behind loving letters for her. Helena meets Lillian's step son, Napoleonic war hero Adam and falls in love with him. However, he needs a wealthy spouse to fix the mess his late father left the family in, which means this wildcat living with Lillian is out of the question so why does his heart tell him to marry for love not money. This exciting regency focuses on abuse amidst the aristocracy in which everyone ignores the obvious signs so as to not have to deal with an unpleasant situation. (Sounds familiar?). Thus the story line is driven by Helena who struggles with adjusting to "normalcy" that includes cruelty after being a prisoner for so long. Though the ending is too inside the sub-genre's boundaries, readers will empathize with THE UNTAMED HEIRESS as she tries to join a society that blames her for the travesties of her parents.

Beyond the Limit
Lindsay McKenna
Harlequin HQN
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373771428 $5.99

Marine combat engineer Major Pete Trayhern is placed in charge of the construction project in Afghanistan where he will work closely with civilian construction companies. He expects the work to prove difficult as the Taliban wants the Americans to fail. However, after his mom lectures him about finding the right woman, Pete leaves the States to begin his project.
He is stunned when he meets his civilian counterpart, head of the Roland Construction project in Afghanistan Calandra Roland as he never expected to see a female civilian in this dangerous third world nation. As each ignores their attraction, danger mounts from what Pete thinks is a traitorous source. When Cali is injured Pete no longer can avoid his feelings for her. He loves her and she reciprocates, but first they must finish the project and uncover who is behind the destruction of their construction work. When someone abducts her it looks like the dirty work of the Taliban. Morgan's Mercenaries next generation (Pete is Morgan's son) is at its best when it depicts the struggles to build modern facilities in Afghanistan during a war in which the enemy will sabotage anything. Though the villain seems a stretch, readers will appreciate this fine romantic suspense in which headline news serves as the backdrop as the military-civilian complex tries to reconstruct the war-torn country under hostile conditions.

Lady at Last
Brenda Joyce
Harlequin HQN
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373771371 $6.99

In 1820 Kingston, privateer Cliff de Warenne, son of an English earl, understands the need to hang pirates. However Governor Thomas Woods using the pathetic Rodney Carre as an example will do nothing to stop the activity of his bolder ruthless Cuban rovers especially the notorious El Toreador. Cliff detests the circus that Woods has caused with the spectacle and wonders about Carre's daughter La Sauvage, who would do anything to free her father. After the hanging of her beloved dad, Amanda has no place to go so Cliff agrees to take her to her mother in England. On their trek across the Atlantic, Cliff begins teaching Amanda how a lady behaves in polite society where she will find a husband. However, she realizes loves Cliff and he loves her, but neither will take that critical first step and reveal what they hide from their beloved. The delightful tale of the youngest de Warenne son meeting his beloved is a warm Regency romance that effortlessly flows from Pirate of the Caribbean to the balls rooms of the Ton. The story line will remind readers of Pygmalion/My Fair Lady as Cliff falls in love with his creation, who returns his feelings, but doubts he could care for her inner wild soul. Fans of the series will immensely enjoy what may be the best of a strong series while newcomers will seek the backlist (see MASQUERADE and THE PRIZE, etc.).

Helen Kirkman
Harlequin HQN
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373771657 $13.95

In 876 Lady Aurinia lives by herself at Wytch House on the coast of England because her father disowned her. At first she tried to help the nearby villagers of Wareham with her healing powers, but her payment for her kindness was fear that she was a witch. She stopped visiting the village leaving her only human contact with those inside of Wytch House, mostly her steward Huda. The Vikings and King Alfred's troops fight nearby, but Aurinia fears nothing as no one will reach her isolated home whose only path is through wolves that protect her; that is if someone even finds the path. No one has until now as Lord Macsen has accomplished the impossible and not only found the path, but journeyed through the wolves to reach Wytch House as if he was guided by someone else. When Macsen sees Aurinia he is shocked as she is the beauty who has haunted his dreams for months. Though they just have met, both agree to marry right away even as each has doubts. He wonders if she has bewitched him with a love spell and she distrusts all men except Huda and the wolves. Their love will soon be tested when his enemy captures his beloved. The witch, the warrior, and the dark ages – what more could historical romance readers want. UNTAMED is a fine tale of love starring two heroic protagonists struggling to trust their hearts, even as treachery makes each question whether their feelings for the other masquerade a betrayal. Fans will enjoy this fun ninth century tale.

Dangerous Deception
Beverly Barton
Harlequin HQN
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373770677 $6.99

Lausanne Raney thinks men are lowlifes as she had nothing but trouble with males. When she was seventeen, she gave birth, but had to give up her daughter for adoption. In her early twenties she thought she found love, but instead of a lifetime together raising a family, she spent five years in prison as his accomplice on a crime she had nothing to do with. She has sworn off men, but vows to find her child just to insure her offspring is living a contented life filled with love. When Audrey Bedell Perkins goes missing her wealthy father, owner of Bedell, Inc. hires the firm of Dundee Private Security and Investigation Agency to find her; cost no object. Former SEAL Dom Shea is assigned the case with the evidence pointing towards a homicide as many people wanted the spoiled rich girl dead. He soon suspects Bedell, Inc employee Lausanne because she got involved with the missing heiress just before the wealthy woman vanished. However, to his chagrin he also is attracted to Lausanne and her to him though neither trusts the other for differing reasons; he because she may be a kidnapper-murderer and he because he is a male hunk. DANGEROUS DECEPTION is an interesting romantic suspense thriller starring a woman whose luck in men has been all bad until she meets the SEAL and a hunk who does not know whether to kiss her or have her arrested. The story line focuses ion their relationship as they seek the missing Audrey. Though Lausanne's constant lament can turn too whining, no one will have a dry eye with the final confrontation.

Deadly Gamble
Linda Lael Miller
Harlequin HQN
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
037377141X $13.95

When Mary Joseph "Mojo" Mayhugh was five years old, she witnessed a brutal attack on her parents that left her orphaned. With Mojo's half brother, Geoff, convicted of the crimes, family neighbor Lillian kidnapped the child and raised her as her own. However, a couple of decades later, Lillian lives in Sunset Villa nursing home, where she seems to be wasting away, while Mojo resides above Bad-Ass Bert's Biker Saloon in Cave Creek, Arizona, not remembering anything before the abduction. She is now twenty eight years old and her love life is either too hot or too cold and her employment record stinks. Now her late former husband Nick decides to haunt her and she is seeing ghosts; though some are still alive as her maternal Uncle Clive Larimer claims chance enabled him to find her after twenty three years and someone is stalking her. She is attracted to undercover cop Tucker Darroch, which irritates Nick. Finally, Lillian's stepdaughter Greer hires Mojo to learn if her husband is cheating. Mojo believes she has found her calling as she ponders what Nick and the other ghosts, her politician uncle, and convict Geoff want of her, what to do about her past as a Mayhugh and her future perhaps with Tucker, and finally what about that allegedly cheating spouse; all that while someone wants the truth to remain buried. DEADLY GAMBLE is a fun zany contemporary tale that has elements from several sub-genres that mix delightfully well together into a wonderful cohesive novel. Mojo keeps the story line focused as she finds her past and present crashing on her head making her future not look too bright while the support cast enhances understanding of the pressures that converge on the beleaguered, bewildered and benign heroine. The story line is action-packed, filled with Lind Lael Miller's trademark amusing asides and barbs. Fans of paranormal romantic suspense will want to read Ms. Miller's marvelous madcap mayhem.

A NASCAR Holiday
Kimberly Raye, Roxanne St. Clair and Debra Webb
Harlequin HQN
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373771568 $6.99

"Ladies, Start Your Engines" by Kimberly Raye. Widower Will Calloway shocks his daughter Savannah when he fires her from Calloway Motor Sports, a major participant in the Nextel Cup competition. Will is worried that Savannah has not settled down though she is twenty-eight. Savannah tells Jameson team driver Mackenzie Briggs that he needs her to become the top racer in the Fort Worth area as she plans to prove to her father no one knows engines better than her. He agrees, but it is more than cars they will work on. "Tis the Silly Season" by Roxanne St. Clair. Raleigh waitress Lisa Mahoney has no credit to buy a Mighty Motor Remote Control Stingray and a Mighty Flight Remote Control Viper as Christmas presents for her children. A woman tells NASCAR Busch Series Driver Clay Slater that she needs him only if he settles down. Clay explains to Lisa that he needs a family to prove to Kincaid Toys he is their perfect salesman. When Lisa loses her job due to a TKO, they make an agreement, but neither expected love would seal the deal. "Unbreakable" by Debra Webb. In Huntsville Rocket City team owner Buck Buchanan warns star driver Russell "Rush" Jackson that his career will end if he fails to watch his image as a photo surfaced that impugns his honor and affirms to those that racing is not a sport. Buck also tells Rush he has arranged for New England Institute for Independent Experts to study racing to ascertain whether this is a sport or not. Dr. Maxine "Max" Gray is sent to investigate. However, while the researcher and the driver fall in love, someone continues to smear Rush for no apparent reason. Contemporary readers will "Go for the Gold" when they ride with these delightful NASCAR romances.

Fools Rushed In
Kristan Higgins
Harlequin HQN
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373771096 $5.99

In Eastham, Massachusetts Millie Barnes fell in love with Joe Carpenter when she was fourteen years old. Looking back she knows she was a stalker as she worshipped every fact she gathered on her hunk, every "coincidental" encounter, and even drove past his house several times a day. Nothing truly came of her efforts to become Joe's girl. She went off to college and medical school, but now has returned to the Cape as a doctor with a plan to become Joe's woman. Unlike high school, Millie succeeds in becoming Joe's squeeze, but the fantasy is much better than the reality. At the same time she finds herself attracted to her former brother-in-law Sheriff Sam Nickerson, father to her nephew Danny. Things are different in this adult relationship as her sis and his ex-wife Trish is no longer in the mix. Soon Millie realizes that she is falling in love with good neighbor Sam, making Project Joe a lemon. FOOLS RUSHED IN is an entertaining lighthearted romantic romp starring a likable lead female and a strong realistic support cast. The story line is fun to follow as Millie begins to realize her teen dream is no longer supreme in her heart. Contemporary romance readers who enjoy an escape to the Cape will appreciate this easygoing frolic.

Shannon Drake
Harlequin HQN
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373771312 $7.99

The English monarchy is in jeopardy from a growing opposition to a kingdom. Even more horrific is that someone is targeting supporters of the crown, killing anyone who even tenuously seems to support the royals. One person this serial killer would like to assassinate is editorial writer A. Anonymous who apparently thinks the monarchy brings something special to England. Most people assume A. Anonymous is a male royal, but instead the author is truly an anonymous proper female author with dreams of becoming a great writer. Ally Grayson is engaged to prim and proper Mark with no hopes for adventures except in her writings. That is until a mysterious highwayman abducts her. Whether it is the Stockholm syndrome or not Ally falls in love with her kidnapper. Unbeknownst to her, her captor is also her fiance, who works secretly to keep their homeland safe from internal terrorists and his beloved from harm's way as the royal assassin has targeted A. Anonymous. This is a terrific historical romance starring a brave heroine and a courageous hero inside an action-packed fast-paced plot. Mark is delightful as he loves his fiancee but hides his identity from her; to his chagrin and jealousy Ally falls in love with his dashing alter ego. Fans will enjoy this delightful tale wondering how the lead couple will resolve their romantic entanglement as much as who is plotting to destroy the monarchy.

Jo Leigh
Harlequin Blaze
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
037379293X $4.75

United Nations forensic accountant Kate Rydell is following the money trail in Kosovo when she uncovers links to a mysteriously shrouded group Omicrom with nebulous ties to the CIA. As she digs deeper into this top secret organization, Kate finds strong evidence that Omicron has developed a dangerous weapon of mass destruction, banned under international law. She tries to expose the group, but makes little progress and t now this clandestine faction knows she is investigating them. Her audit returns her to Los Angeles where she goes undercover as a room service worker in the Meridian Hotel in her efforts to prevent a human-made tragedy. However, when she sees a homicide, Kate ponders getting involved or keeping her identity secret. Detective Vince Yarrow needs her help to bring in a killer, but she needs his to stop the goliath Omicron. Though over the top, no one will care as this is an exhilarating, adrenalin pumping romantic suspense thriller that starts off fast-paced and relentlessly keeps the action going until the final climax. Kate is a fabulous heroine who feels a deep need to prevent a tragedy while Vince is attracted to her from their first encounter with a deep need to prevent a tragedy from occurring to her. Fans will appreciate this thrill a page tale.

Tell Me Your Secrets
Cara Summers
Harlequin Blaze
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373792905 $4.75

The anonymous letter she received shakes soap opera writer Brooke Ashby to her core. The unsigned note claims she is adopted. Though wanting to write it off as a sick joke, she asks her friend, private investigator Pepper Rossi to make an inquiry. Pepper affirms the note is true and that she has a twin sister Cameron McKenzie living on a large horse ranch near San Diego, but her engaged sibling has been missing for about five weeks. Needing to meet her twin and praying that Cameron is all right, Brooke decides to pretend to be her sibling and claim amnesia. At the ranch she meets hunk Sloan Campbell, whom she finds quite attractive, but soon finds someone wants her dead as accidents occur to her that makes her believe Cameron is safe but in hiding. Brooke's biggest fear is that Sloan, whom she is falling love with, is the culprit. The latest "It was a dark and sexy night" romantic suspense thriller is a tale filled with several mysteries that brave Brooke needs to solve including whether to trust her heart and consequently Sloan. Readers will enjoy this tense tale filled with irony as the heroine thinks how much "real" life is stranger than fiction as her day job is writing for the soap Secrets and having a separated twins' scenario would be a normal event. Summing up, this is a winner for sub-genre readers.

Hidden Sanctuary
Sharron McClellan
Silhouette Bombshell
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
037351428X $4.99

Currently dowser Tru Palmer is using her talent searching for oil deposits though many of the locals want her and her team out of the area. Her personal bodyguard Griffin Sinclair is attracted to her and her to him, but she trusts no one having been betrayed once before and he takes his work seriously so he avoids dalliances with a client. However, when she meets native Efra, Tru feels a need to trust this woman who understands her gift as no one has ever done before. Efra explains to Tru that both of them are Marians, descendents from powerful earth priestesses. She further shows the visitor her tiles that she guards diligently because if they fall into the wrong hands, evil could manipulate the earth and harm those with the Marian power. Tru needs to depend on Griffin to prevent a cataclysmic tragedy, but her deep rooted feelings of mistrust makes it difficult for her to do so though she loves him. The latest Madonna Key thriller stars two likable independent protagonists falling in love even while they try to prevent a catastrophe of biblical proportions. The story line is fast-paced, but that keeps the audience from fully understanding Tru's gift of dowsing even after she (and we) learns the truth from the Nubian guardian of the Tiles. Though HIDDEN SANCTUARY can stand alone, romantic suspense with a touch of fantasy fans will be better suited reading the previous Madonna key tales as this is a complex series.

A Serpent in Turquoise
Peggy Nicholson
Silhouette Bombshell
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373514298 $4.99

Archeologist Professor Anson McCord sends an intriguing note to fossil hunter Raine Ashaway that he has made what could prove to be an extraordinary find if proven. He thinks a dinosaur may have served as the model for an Aztec god. Intrigued Raine stops what she is doing, revises her plans and heads to Mexico immediately to meet with Anson and follow up on his theory. Raine expects to meet an elderly man, but instead finds the Texan is quite the hunk. He also cannot believe how beautiful she is. As they work to find his Aztec city of the Feathered Serpent whose people apparently worshipped a species of triceratops whose remains has never been seen before, ruthless others have plans to loot the sight once the scientists inadvertently lead them to it while another group wants to prevent them from finding the lost city. The key to this excellent romantic suspense thriller is the depths of detail re the Aztec culture that are cleverly interwoven into an action packed story line. Raine is a modern day Indiana Jones-ette while Anson can almost match her stride for stride. Together they forge a formidable team, but their adversaries are jus as strong. Suspense fans will want to follow the escapades of Raine and Anson as they seek physical proof of his theory while trying to stay alive and elude love.

Stephanie Doyle
Silhouette Bombshell
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373514301 $4.99

Initially when Cassandra Allen offered her paranormal skills to help the Philadelphia area police solve murder cases, they laughed at her, writing her off as a lunatic. When she proved accurate, the police, especially Center City Philadelphia Detective Doug "don't call me Doggie" Brody, began to use her as a consultant. However, this time when the cops ask for her assistance on a serial murder investigation, she is stunned as the culprit does not seem from this earth, but from beyond. Malcolm McDonough has tried everything to insure this killer, who murdered his twenty years old sister faces justice, but neither the police nor he finds any clues. Instead the cops tell him to see if Cassandra will help him though he is skeptical that she can talk to the dead. He changes his mind about her gift when she tells him things about his sibling that no one but his sister knew. As she learns more about the serial killer, she realizes she is dealing with a monster like nothing she has ever encountered before. POSSESSED is a thrilling paranormal serial killer romance starring an interesting female protagonist and the skeptic who needs her skills to catch a murderer. Cass' chats with ghosts while Malcolm watches and thinks initially she is crazy until she quotes from his sis. These are fascinating to follow and in turn make the male lead pale in comparison as he seems so mundane next to someone who communicates with the dead. Readers will enjoy this blending of fantasy, mystery, some horror, and romance into a solid thriller.

Maureen Child
Silhouette Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373617518 $5.50

At the moment of his death in May of 1573 Kieran McIntyre was given a choice either to pass on to whatever comes next or become an immortal guardian pledged to fight evil. He chose the latter and the half a millennium Guardian is on the hunt for the demon who escaped after he captured him 1888 when he switched bodies so nobody knows what Jack the Ripper really looked like. Kieran is now on the demon's trail which leads him to the home of reporter Julia Carpenter who he refused to give an interview to when she asked for one. He warns her she is in danger but she ignores his warning and the next morning she finds one roommate dead and another one near death. Kieran who knows Julie is his Destined Mate takes her to his home because she will give him more power and strength and if they make love; he will be able to track the demon telepathically. Although he loves Julie and she loves him, he tells her she will be free once the demon is thrown back into the portal that leads to its hell. Julie, who has much to absorb knows she must make a decision whether to live an ordinary life or be the Mate of a guardian. Maureen Child has written a fantastic romantic fantasy starring interesting characters. At first Kieran doesn't want to be bound to any woman even though what he has with Julie is a wondrous gift. Julie has to decide if she is dealing with a crazy man or a man who stayed on this plane to fight evil, a true hero. ETERNALLY is a powerful love story and the magical elements make the tale totally original .

Cry of the Wolf
Karen Whiddon
Silhouette Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373617542 $5.25

Jewel Smith AKA Julie Licciardon is on the run from her husband Leo, a drug lord, who tortured her and gave her something that prevented her from turning into a wolf. Unless she can change she will die; if Leo escapes from prison or one of his minions finds her she will die regardless. When she tries and fails to change, Jewel collapses. Reporter Colton Reynolds finds her unconscious and revives her. When he realizes who she is he admires because she turned in Leo; his former wife killed their daughter because she was dealing drugs. Jewel and Colton are attracted to one another, but she fears revealing to him she is a werewolf while he needs to uncover the secret she hides from him. After two failed attempts to kill her, he vows to keep her safe even if he dies doing so.Karen Whiddon provides werewolf romance fans with an enthralling paranormal thriller that is filled with action and intrigue especially with enemies trying to eliminate the two protagonists. Readers will sympathize with Jewel for what she has put up with from a sadistic monster while hoping she can transform into a werewolf. The author cleverly handles spousal abuse inside an exhilarating tale.

Lisa Childs
Silhouette Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373617526 $5.25

In 1655Europe, a woman tells the villagers that a lightening strike will burn the buildings killing many. Her prophecy proves true and she is forced to flee because the men led by Eli McGregor want to kill her and her three daughters for using her magic to murder the innocents. The woman is burned at the stake but her daughter Elena is not found by the angry men. In Armaya, Michigan in 1985, Myra, the descendant of Elena has the curse as do her three children, Elena, Ariel and Irina. One their last night together Myra tells them about their heritage before Child's Services takes them away. In Barret, Michigan, Ariel can see the dead but she doesn't tell David, a Bill Gates type businessman about her past, the curse or her two sisters. She wears the charm around her wrist and when her mother appears before her she knows her mom is dead. David loves Ariel so much he is frustrated when she won't confide in him. When her aunt is murdered in the manner of a witch, she knows the vendetta is still going on. When another one is killed Ariel realizes she is in danger from a witch hunter. By this time David knows everything and still professes to love her but someone very close to her tells her David will be her killer and she begins to doubt him. This paranormal thriller is exciting and filled with so much action that readers won't have a chance to catch their breath. The heroine is looking for her sisters to warn them of their peril and a part of her doubts David's love for her because she has been disappointed so many times before. Readers will root for this duo to make it through the trials they must go through and come out the other side strong in their love for one another.

From the Dark
Michele Hauf
Silhouette Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
037361750X $5.25

Michael is a famous rock star, the lead singer of The Fallen, but he uses his career as a cover to hide his vampiric nature. He drinks human blood, but has never killed a mortal though he has come close too many times. His friend from the band Jesse Olson lends him his house as a place to regain his control of his thirst. Jane Renan goes to a client's home to create stained glass windows and to wait until the proper time to participate in the ritual that will allow her remain immortal as she is the offspring of a paternal vampire and a maternal witch. When Michael and Jan meet as they share the same abode, he is perturbed by his attraction to her. They begin a relationship, but it remains incomplete as a witch's blood is poison for a vampire, yet he needs to taste hers if they are to stay together. This is definitely a thrilling vampire love story starring believable characters that enable readers to accept the existence of vampires and witches at least in the Hauf universe. Although there is little action in FROM THE DARK, sub-genre fans will feel compelled to read this enthralling romance in one delightful bite, make that sitting.

Death Calls
Caridad Pineiro
Silhouette Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373617534 $5.25

After a two years relationship with the vampire Ryder, Diane has second thoughts because if she stays with him she will never have children. She also knows how lonely she was before she met him, but she also does not want him to see her grow old. She rejects the notion of becoming a vampire and spending eternity with her beloved. She asks him to leave, which he reluctantly does; now she must forget him and move on. While working on an FBI case investigating the ties between the Cuban Democratic Party and a drug cartel, Diane reunites with her first love Alex, who is undercover inside the CDP. Alex informs Diane that the CDP possess a weapon that they plan to use to either destroy the U.N. or the Cuban Mission. He also makes it clear he wants her; she knows that with him she can lead a normal life, but he does not bring out the passion that Ryder does. Caridad Pinero writes fascinating, innovative, and passionate vampire romances as few authors can. Ryder and Diane are star-crossed lovers fearing their respective dark side while rejoicing in the light of their humanity. Yet her doubts that include his vampirism, her humanity, and Alex make a relationship with Ryder improbable as she knows who is better for her and who brings out the inner fire in her. The investigation adds to an understanding of a heroine who knows time is against her in more ways than just preventing a tragedy. This is a superb supernatural romantic suspense thriller with the need of a sequel starring a two millennium old vampiress who has hardly a scratch of humanity left in her.

Blood Son
Erica Orloff
Silhouette Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373617569 $5.25

Elizabeth and David are much closer to one another than most twins are because they suffered from the same trauma of losing their father to suicide. When David emails his sister from Prague that he is in trouble, she drops everything to rush over there. In the Czech Republic she learns her brother was staying at the isolated Hawthorn Inn in the Karkonosze Mountains. When she arrives at the inn, the owners, Ann and Zoltan warn her that vampires come out at night to kill. Staying at a cottage on the grounds is Josef, a dhampire whose vampiric father killed his human mother. She sees him kill wolves with Hawthorn tipped arrows and is horrified to see them transform into vampires. She explains to Josef that she searches for her brother David, but believes the vampires have him and are keeping him alive. She bases her feelings on visions; Josef agrees to help her rescue David because he loves her, but knows he will have to kill his sire, chief of the vampire clan. Erica Orloff has written an exciting and bitingly delicious vampire romantic thriller in which the protagonists fall in love despite the danger they face that might mean there is no tomorrow for them. Josef, a dhampire suffering from an arthritic like condition, is a Byronic hero who expects to die fighting vampires. Elizabeth loves him, but also admires his courage as he refuses to succumb to the lure of the dark. There is plenty of neck biting action as well in this bloody good supernatural tale.

Beyond a Shadow
Alison Kent
Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758211147 $14.00

Ezra Moore sails into Comfort Bay, Oregon allegedly for a breather from traveling by sea from the Caribbean Island of San Torisco. He claims to be a teacher of disadvantaged children on sabbatical and accepts work as a handyman at the Maples Inn, but in fact is an undercover agent trying to bring down Spectra IT, a mob that sells illegal arms and prostitution. He knows first hand the destruction caused by Spectra IT and its "CEO" Cameron Bates who enslaves labor from his home island. His plan to sell illegal guns to Spectra IT but has a slight problem in divorced teacher Alexa Counsel, who does not trust the newcomer though she is attracted to him. She worries that he will harm her friend Molly owner of the B&B or perhaps her child Emmy Rose or Rose's spouse Danny. Alexa's plan is to stop him before he hurts any of the three Maples. Playing cat and mouse with one another, the SG-5 agent and the schoolteacher fall in love, but his mission leaves the two of them and the Maples in danger from the highly connected Bates who does not mind wasting a life or having his thugs abduct innocent pawns. The latest SG-5 tale is an exciting thriller starring two likable brave protagonists, who risk their lives to keep loved ones safe. The Comfort Bay residents especially Alexa's friends are loyal and caring while the Spectra IT thugs are somewhat stereotypical of the clever callous killer. Series readers and those who appreciate a strong romantic suspense will want to follow the escapades of Ezra and Alexa.

I Only Have Fangs for You
Kathy Love
Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
075821135X $14.00

Sebastian Young loves everything about being a vampire living in New York City, but especially enjoys the mortal females who flock to his nightclub Carfax Abbey. Other vampires frequent the in spot as they can let loose and not worry about exposing their kind. However, Sebastian seems a bit taken with his new vampiric cocktail waitress Wilhelmina Weiss. Unbeknownst to Sebastian, Wilhelmina is working undercover to close the club that she feels is immoral and brings harm to vampires everywhere. She also hopes to reform Sebastian of his biting ways. When she rejects his fangs, Sebastian takes that as a declaration of gender war not seen by the undead since his brother Rhys suffered amnesia (see FANGS FOR THE MEMORIES) or perhaps when his sister Jolee took on the reformer (FANGS BUT NO FANGS). The third fangs take Manhattan paranormal romance is a humorous tale that fans of the series will appreciate while newcomers will seek the backlist. The lighthearted story line is actually a battle between two opposite types as Wilhelmina believes that biting humans is wrong while Sebastian loves a nip or two until he meets the reformer whose only chance to reform him rests in his biting her. Kathy Love provides a fun Manhattan vampiric romp.

The Ultimate Romantic Challenge
Katherine Garbera
Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758212437 $14.00

A decade has past since her spouse Marcus died, but the only way that widow Alexandra Haughton has moved on is with her South Carolina resort. Her passion, her love, every positive feeling she can muster is given to make Haughton House the resort of choice. Her in-laws worry about her especially Marcus' mother Pricilla, who got her out of the house ten years ago by having her replace her deceased son on the board and now tells her she needs to move on personally. Sterling Powell wants to add Haughton House to his chain; Alexandra refuses as the resort is her life. He is attracted to the obstinate woman and though he knows never to mix business with pleasure, he finds her a challenge on both fronts. As he courts her, Alexandra's dormant heart begins to beat for the first time since Marcus passed away, but though she is falling in love, she vows to never betray her spouse's memory. Alexandra's introspective muses enable the audience to understand her fears that love hurts, but these asides also slow down her second chance at love story line. Readers will root for the weary heroine to move forward in her personal life as she has with the hotel business while Sterling seems too perfect as the patient man willing to help her. THE ULTIMATE ROMANTIC CHALLENGE is an interesting character study of a woman who is afraid to love again.

British Bad Boys
Nancy Warren
Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758210434 $14.00

"George and the Dragon Lady". The Earl of Ponsford, George Harley agrees to allow his somewhat run down historical home, Hart House be used for a documentary. However, he finds the Los Angeles film director Maxine Larraby quite a dragon lady who enflames his libido. "Nights Round Arthur's Table". Suffering from writer's block and desperate for inspiration American suspense author Meg Stanton goes to England seeking the perfect villain for her next novel. At a local pub she meets owner Arthur who fits the image of her bad boy at least in bed that is. "Union Jack". Chef Rachel Larraby journeys to England to salvage her career and to give her broken heart time to heal. However, cooking proves no problem but her heart recovers rather quickly when she meets Jack Flynt, who wants her as the dessert. Somewhat interrelated these three heated tales star nice British hunks and the iceberg American females they melt.

A Catered Valentine's Day
Isis Crawford
0758206895 $22.00

The Simmons sisters Bernie and Libby are not having a good day. They are mortified to find out they have gone into the wrong funeral service room and when they try to find the right one, they run into the funeral home's director Clyde Hanson. Clyde is the father of Libby's beau so when he tells them to go with him, they do. They do not realize he is taking them to the indigent section of the local cemetery. He opens up the coffin of a dug up grave and they find the body of Ted Gorman, who supposedly died in a fiery car crash; his widow Marne identified the body based on the ring he was wearing. The body of the person who was supposed to be there the reclusive Ms. McDougal is nowhere to be found. Both Clyde and Tom's widow Marne want the Simmons sister to find out what happened and why; Marne because she needs answers and Clyde because he doesn't want his business to be held culpable Iris Crawford's latest mystery is an exciting and enjoyable amateur sleuth tale though one always must wonder why not a professional. Bernie finds her boyfriend is cheating on her and breaks off their relationship but she finds herself attracted to an old and dear friend. The ladies' father, the former chief of police helps them on the case and the scenes when Libby's boyfriend is driving them are hilarious. The case ends up involving two murders and the identity of the killer(s) will shock the reader. A CATERED VALENTINE'S DAY is a scintillating who done it.

Barbara Colley
Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758207662 $22.00

In New Orleans the members of the Red Scarf Sorority are staying at the Garden District's Jazzy Hotel where the club's president Tessa Morgan is being pressured by her husband Frank to sign the divorce papers. Frank plans to marry his much younger lover Lisa as soon as Tessa puts her John Hancock on the legal document ending their marriage. However, so far Tessa refuses though Frank has sent emissaries like their daughter Belinda and his secretary Margaret Green. Not long after Frank's latest failed attempt to disband their marriage, Lisa, who is also at the Jazzy, is found dead with a red scarf wrapped around her neck. New Orleans Homicide Detectives Gavin Brown and Judith Monroe assume Tessa committed the crime as she had motive, means and opportunity. However, Judith's Aunt Charlotte LaRue, owner of Maid-for-a Day domestic cleaning service thinks otherwise as this seems too simplistic. The housekeeper, who happens to be working the Jazzy as a favor to a friend Carrie Rogers who works there, uncovers other suspects such as Lisa's stalking former boyfriend to the chagrin of her loving niece. The whodunit takes a back seat to the cleansing antics of the heroine and the vivid descriptions of post Katrina and Rita New Orleans. Charlotte is at her best whether she is cleaning, encountering a former beau turned suspect, or just sleuthing. Though the mystery is fun but light, series fans will appreciate the heroine's latest escapades as she scrubs for clues not accepting that the president of the Red Scarf Sorority would commit such a dumb crime even in passion without at least cleaning the crime scene

I'm Your Girl
J.J. Murray
0758213972 $15.00

African American librarian Dee-Dee Anderson enjoys living in Roanoke, Virginia, but bemoans the lack of a man in her life or for that matter any real tight friends. At night she reviews books using the name Nisi as she believes that next to a hunk a book is a girl's best friend. Writer Jack Browning returns books he borrowed from the library where Dee-Dee works and meets her. They are attracted to one another but both have problems to overcome if a relationship is to form. He still grieves the deaths of his wife and their son in a car accident while she still envisions her mother informing her to heed Henry Ford's advice when it comes to the color of her man; though nice, Jack is too pale to fit mama's parameter. I'M YOUR GIRL is a fabulous interracial romance starring two likable nice people who have issues even without dealing with how family, friends, and neighbors react to the race question. The story line rotates perspective between the two leads so that the audience obtain a full taste of how each sees the other and how those close to them either support (some reluctantly with lip service) or scorn their relationship. J.J. Murray provides a deep character driven drama filled with humor and pathos that holds the audience who want the couple to make it together.

Naughtier Bedtime Stories
Joan Elizabeth Lloyd
Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758214391 $15.00

These forty erotic tales run the gamut of genres to include fantasy and science fiction, but mostly are contemporaries. All are hot and may include profanities. The sexual encounters of the first kind include bondage, spankings, servitude, gender role changing, tape recordings, dildos and other adult toys, masturbation and of course plenty of sex. Joan Elizabeth Lloyd lets everything hang out and then some more. Not for everyone, these are heated tales that those who like their relationship dramas hard core will fully appreciate, but not as much as their significant other will.

Jami Alden
Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758215320 $12.95

Chef Reggie Caldwell hosts the extremely popular Simply Delicious with Reggie Caldwell show on the Cuisine Network and is working on a cookbook. However, though on top of the world, Reggie receives explicit letters and pictures of genitals. Her sister Natalie persuades her to take it seriously so they go to the nearest San Francisco Police Department station where Sergeant Mulvaney, though a fan, admits the SFPD can do nothing for her. Reggie hires a bodyguard, Gabe Bankovic, whom she shared a fabulous night of sex with in Hawaii that neither has forgotten. As they reacquaint themselves to one another's delicious body, they fall in love, but first there remains a stalker angered by her giving away her cherry pie to Gabe, who worries he may be to distracted with the main course to insure the adversary receives his just dessert. Jani Alden writes a torrid erotic romantic suspense that hooks the audience because fans will care what happens to Reggie (and by whom). Reggie is a wonderful brave protagonist who does her thing; for instance simply becoming a chef took courage as that vocation alienates her mother the Boston lawyer. Gabe is her perfect partner in and out of bed as he knows he is willing to risk his life to keep his beloved safe from her unknown stalker. The audience will root for this couple enjoying delicious dining at home.

Take Two
Evangeline Anderson
Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758215355 $12.95

IO Moon Times reporter Sadie Thomas masquerades as a cybernetic prostitute to expose the infamous intergalactic sex industry. Her mission seems successful so she activates her invisibility chip to escape before being sold on the black market. However, the cheap chip fails and she is purchased by two hunks, David Blakely and Christian Holtstein. Sadie does not realize that her owners are actually Earth based Detectives First Class following a lead on an investigation. The two cops share a psychic chip connection and soon sexually repressed Sadie joins in the fun. She is on the story of a lifetime as the trio follows clues all over the galaxy. The menage de trois between two hunks and a sexy woman brings extraordinary pleasure to this triad. Evangeline Anderson provides a creative entertaining erotic science fiction police procedural that takes readers on some of the more interesting pleasure domes in the Anderson galaxy. The action-packed story line is driven by the menage de trois as the three lead protagonists make love while working a potentially dangerous case though the investigation somewhat takes a back seat to the sexual trysts. Not for everyone, TAKE TWO is a solar heated thriller in and out of the boudoir.

Barbarian Prize
Deanna Ashford
Black Lace Press
0352340177 $7.99

In Britannia, Iceni Princess Sirona and her warrior lover Taranis led the failed revolt against the Romans. The royal barbarian and her mate are taken prisoner and brought to Rome to insure that no more trouble from her people occurs. They are separated and sold into slavery in Pompeii though they vow to find one another somehow. Taranis is owned by a wealthy female Roman lady, who plans to use the hunk as her sex slave; Sirona is purchased by agents of General Lucius Flavius, but brought to the home of his perverted stepfather who plans to abuse her before his relative returns to claim her. When Flavius comes home he takes Sirona with him; they become lovers though she thinks of Taranis except when Flavius makes love to her. Meanwhile Taranis is sent to fight as a gladiator while Sirona struggles with the erotic desires of the Dionysus cult. Mount Vesuvius is about to provide the final climax for those inside the city. BARBARIAN PRIZE is an interesting Ancient Roman erotic romance that takes place mostly just before the volcanic eruption. Sirona and Taranis are solid characters who survive tribulations with both having the goal that one day they will be together. It is fascinating that the charm of Flavius is perhaps the first real potential obstacle from their objective. Though some help from unlikely sources seem improbable, fans will agree that Deanna Ashford provides a fine deep look at a hedonistic Rome through the eyes (and bodies) of the two barbarians.

The Private Undoing of a Public Servant
Leoni Martell
Black Lace
0352340665 $7.99

At a bar at the Victorian Station, disillusioned fiftyish cabinet minister Simon Charlesworth meets thirty-eight years old Kirsten Caine. They talk and soon he informs his wife Lorna that he is unable to come home tonight because he is working. Simon and Kirsten heads to her nearby flat. She takes sexual charge immediately as she uses a dildo up his butt and other male humiliation bondage tricks, which to his shock he immensely enjoys. The next day he returns home to the realization that he needs more of Kirsten as his family and political lives feel even more shallow and hollow than ever. Kirsten demands even greater obedience from her submissive, which Simon blithely gives to his Mistress. However, he will soon learn the price of his infidelity as she and her mentor Ian Baum have selected him because he fit their profile so that could they blackmail him, but not for money. This seems like a simple case of a middle age male having an extra marital affair, but besides the utter total control by Kirsten in their erotic S&M relationship, the tale is much deeper and rings true considering the 1960s Profumo Affair. Readers obtain a deep look at the lead couple as Leoni Martell provides perspectives from that of the dominatrix and her submissive. This leads to the audience needing to know what will happen to both of them as everything labours towards a climax focused on Broxbourne Woods.

An Opened Grave
L. Frank James
Salt-works Press
PO Box 2152 Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts 02568.
193408000 $14.95

In 1908 Mrs. Hudson asks Dr. Watson to stay overnight in the room he once shared with the world's greatest detective Sherlock Holmes, as the woman insists she hears noises, but no one lives there. Watson, who misses those sleuthing days, agrees. That night a paranoid Holmes crawls through the window; Watson realizes his friend is controlled by the drugs he takes. With Watson's help and a peer taking over the doctor's medical practice, Holmes goes cold turkey. Several days later, he tells Watson about Miss Elizabeth Hackberry asking him eight months ago to find her missing father Rockford, a devout member of the Anglican Church and a Foreign Office Official Attache to Middle Eastern Arab Emirates. Holmes quickly locates Rockford, but bungles the rescue. Both are tied up and placed inside a sinking boat at sea with no hope for escape. Somehow a miracle occurred, freeing Holmes. Analyzing the situation and eliminating all possibilities except one, Holmes induces he is alive due to divine intervention caused by Miss Hackberry's prayers. He asks Watson to accompany him on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to uncover the mystery of the Christ. Every time Sherlock Holmes' fans think we have seen everything under the sun, an innovative twist to the games afoot surfaces; that is what happens with AN OPENED GRAVE. L. Frank James provides a fascinating look at Holmes and Watson, both retired from sleuthing. Though the opening sequence with Holmes being addicted rings true at first, it does seem off kilter later when he tells his tale to Watson that once he eliminated all the possibilities except one, a miracle saved his life. Using logic he begins a quest to uncover the real Jesus. Fans will appreciate this well written, entertaining and unique spin.

The Night Lawyer
Michelle Spring
Ballantine Books
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0345437462 $24.95 1-800-726-0600

Lawyer Ellie Porter honestly thought her married lover was going to dump his wife to be with her. However, his wife got pregnant and he broke it off with her causing her to have a nervous breakdown. She commits herself into a psychiatric hospital and when she comes out she has to start over in her career. The only job she can get is THE NIGHT LAWYER for a tabloid paper the Chronicle making sure the stories reporters write aren't libelous. Carl Hewitt who notices Ellie getting out of the lift starts watching her because she is like a breath of fresh air in the polluted political arena. Jonathan, a colleague from work, befriends her and an unknown co-worker Tristan Blacombe compliments her on her work. However, her personal life is in turmoil as she feels someone is stalking her. Ellie also has a threatening letter delivered to her and has a peeping tom watching her from behind some bushes on her lawn when she is semi-naked. Most frightening of all someone broke into her house and she was never aware of it. If she doesn't get some answers soon, she will have another nervous breakdown. Michelle Spring has written an extraordinary work of psychological suspense with a gothic foreboding atmosphere that sends a chill down the spines of the reader. The protagonist is trying to stay calm in the face of adversity but as she feels increasingly threatened, she is determined to find out who is doing this to her and why. THE NIGHT LAWYER will be appreciated by those readers who like the works of Joy Fielding and Jody Picoult.

Speak No Evil
Allison Brennan
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0345495020 $6.99 1-800-726-0600

Eighteen year old college student Angela Vance went with him because she thought he was safe but at his place he tied her to his bed, glued her mouth shut, tortured, raped and killed her. He dumped her body and when the police find her they have no evidence linking her to a killer except the man that reported her missing. Thirty-nine year old Steve Thomas who had sex with the young woman knew something was wrong when she didn't write in her online diary describing in graphic detail her sexcapade. Steve immediately calls his brother sheriff Nick Thomas of Bozeman, Montana asking him to come to San Diego to help him. He arrives and meets with the sexy lead detective Carina Kincaid who takes an immediate liking to him. When another college teen is killed in the same manner and evidence points away from Steve, Nick volunteers his services because he has been on the receiving end of a serial killer's actions. As the two law enforcement officials work together they find themselves falling in love but their relationship has to be put on the back burner because another college student is killed and shortly thereafter a fourth girl is kidnapped. The killer is calculating and if he isn't caught many more lives will be lost. This police procedural romance is full of action and gives the reader an interesting look at an ongoing investigation. Allison Brennan has a distinct voice that lends itself to creating characters that are dedicated people trying to do the best they can. The protagonists look at themselves as ordinary people trying to do a job but they are heroes because they risk their lives to save others. The fast paced story keeps readers immersed in the tale until the last page is turned.

Eternal Hunger
Cameron Dean
1540 Broadway,New York, NY 10036
0345492552 $6.99 1-800-726-0600

In Las Vegas Candace Steel works for securityin the Scheherazade Casino killing vampires who drink human blood and keeping them out of the casino so they don't tip the odds in their favor by using their powers on the humans who work there. Candice is imminently suited for the job because she can sense when a vampire is nearby and has the strength to complete the task. She also loves powerful vampire Ash though she can never see him because she doesn't want to be turned and spend eternity with him. When a strange vampire attacks her and leaves her for dead, Ash appears and gives her a chance to become a vampire otherwise she will die from her wounds. She chooses to become a vampire, moves in with Ash and learns how to be a vampire, but she drinks no blood other than his. Still she knows that soon she will have to make a choice because she can drink from him for only so long before she will need other blood. In the meantime, they are both in danger from the Board who seeks immortality through the three objects of the Egyptian god Thoth and are willing to use the couple in a blood sacrifice. Ash and Candace devise a trap which they hope could save the world from the rule of evil gods. Candace and Ash's love story spread out over three books culminates in ETERNAL HUNGER, a beautiful tale as the reluctant heroine realizes that she loves Ash with all her heart as he does her. This is one of the best poignant vampire romantic thrillers of the year and readers will become thoroughly ensorcelled by the magic of the storyline. Fans will have a craving for more Vegas vampiric romantic suspense thrillers by this talented author.

Dead and Dateless
Kimberly Raye
1540 Broadway,New York, NY 10036
034549217X $6.99 1-800-726-0600

Lil Marchette doesn't have the superiority complex, the arrogance or the aristocratic attitude of a born vampire. While her mother wishes she would find a born eternity mate and have babies, Lil is more interested in getting her business Dead End Dating up and running. She caters to vamps, born and made, shifters and other worldly beings that want to date. At present she is trying to find twenty-eight alpha males to mate with female weres who are only fertile during a lunar eclipse. She is also trying to figure out who would be a good candidate to date a female were Chihuahua. During the height of the busy season, the police arrive with an arrest warrant. Using her vamp powers she escapes their clutches and seeks help from made vampire Ty, a sexy bounty hunter. Through his contacts they find out Lil is accused of killing a male client and the cops have overwhelming proof including her DNA. Ty thinks someone who hates her is framing her but Lil doesn't think she has an enemy in the world. While he tries to find the real killer, Lil is fighting him to let her out of his sight so she can conduct business and get away from the sexual attraction that threatens her resolve to make it with a potential born eternity mate. Fans of MaryJanice Davidson and Erin McCarthy will definitely want to read this light hearted vampire paranormal tale that has elements from the romance and chick lit subgenres. Lil is a strong woman who doesn't take much seriously but what she does care about she gives it her full attention. Ty is a cipher wrapped up in an enigma meaning he is the typical alpha stud who communicates on a primitive level. Readers will thoroughly enjoy this second book in Kimberly Raye's trilogy

Seducing Harry
Judith Marks-White
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0345492382 $13.95 1-800-726-0600

On a blind date forty-five year old Coco Plotnick-Hollander Harding meets her future husband Parker. He is everything a woman could want in a man. He loves her to distraction, gives her all the freedom she needs and takes her to all the best places. His grown children adore her and when he asks her to marry him she says yes even though she has one little problem. They are not compatible sexually and she becomes sex starved. When she meets New York City's premier plastic surgeon Harry Troutman at a banquet it is lust at first sight for both of them. They begin an affair under their oblivious spouses' noses, going so far as making love when they are all in the same house at a party. Their idyllic relationship takes a dark turn when Coco, Parker, Harry, his wife Eclaire and others connected to them receive anonymous letters implying some people are having an affair but not with their spouses. Even though they are frightened, Coco and Harry continue their affair not knowing that their future is bleak. None of the characters in SEDUCING HARRY are very likable and the four leads are in fact immoral which makes this novel is seductively wicked. Readers will love hating the protagonists who believe morality is just an eight letter word. Coco writes a humorous column for the local paper and her articles are imbedded throughout the storyline adding lightheartedness to a tale that takes a serious tragic spin.

Sweet Home Carolina
Patricia Rice
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0345482617 $6.99 1-800-726-0600

After her husband left her for another woman, Amy Warren is trying to make a new life for hersef and her two children as she faces difficult choices. She knows she must sell her home and find a job, but the mill, which was the primary employer, went bankrupt a year ago. At Amy's urging, the town is trying to obtain a loan to buy the mill, but outsider urbane and sexy Jacques Saint-Etienne wants to purchase it too. He wants to buy the mill and find the early American pattern cards, which he will scan into his computer and reproduce into fabric designs. He informs Amy that once the cards are his, he will sell the equipment and leave. Although this issue divides them, both are attracted to one another, but Jacques runs from his demons and Amy distrusts males. Readers will thoroughly enjoy this contemporary romance set in a small Southern town. Both characters feel emotionally drawn to each other, but also fear love. They are honest so they know they must face their unwanted feelings, but a near tragedy ends their vacillation. Patricia Rice pulls readers into her fine story line.

Lion Eyes
Claire Berlinski
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
1400062950 $23.95 1-800-726-0600

After writing her first book, Loose Lips, author Claire Berlinski is contacted by an Iranian archeologist, Arsalan Sefani who lives in the Iranian town of Isfahan. He read the first chapter of her book on the Internet, but cannot obtain the book as no one even the on online sellers send to his town. He asks her to help him obtain a copy. She sends him a PDF file of the manuscript which leads to exchanges of email. Unlike some of these relationships, there is nothing romantic between Claire and Arsalan, but a friendship forges. He tells her about his work, the death of his mother, the need to prepare a special dinner for a big shot donor, and the care of his late mother's cat. She gives him advice and encouragement. When she fails to hear from him after awhile, she worries. When he finally reestablishes contact, Arsalan says he is going to Paris for a conference and would like to meet her. She agrees. Her CIA friend Sally also wants to meet him in an official capacity. After they meet, he and his belongings vanish from her flat leaving Claire to wonder what happened to her Iranian guest. This is a serio-comic novel loaded with humor due to a secondary cast of oddballs and eccentrics including a woman masquerading as a man who falls in love with a female and a psychiatrist on the three minute date diet seeking Ms. Right. These and others give the novel a sense of zaniness which leads amused readers to wonder about their "credentials" as they advise Claire re Arsalan. The protagonist like many find herself drowning in email relationships (some companies have email-less Fridays) even while Claire wonders how cyberspace compounded by a simple visit has left her life spinning out of control.

No Dominion
Charlie Huston
Del Rey
c/o Ballantine Books
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0345478258 $13.95

The Vyrus causes those exchanging bodily fluids to become Vampyre and for the most part they are divided into two groups: the Coalition and the Society. The Coalition wants to remain underground while the society wants come out in the hopes that human scientists can find a cure for the Vyrus. Joe Pitt belongs to neither group and is considered a Rogue, one who needs blood and money for the rent and to help his HIV girlfriend get the drugs she needs to stay alive because he won't turn her. At a bar, Joe sees a new Vampyres flip out and he ends up taking him out. Terry the leader of the society says that is happening more and more to newbies. He hires Joe to find the person supplying the drug and during Joe's investigation he learns someone has found a way to keep the virus alive in the blood outside a host for a short period of time. The newbies shoot up and get a tremendous high. The answers lie in the Coalition land not controlled by the Hood but they will do Joe no good unless he can stop the mastermind from carrying out a diabolical plan that is nothing more than a power play in vampire politics. Charlie Huston take on the vampire mythos is fascinating, original and believable because in his universe it is a blood disease. Joe Pitt loves Evie and he takes a job that almost kills him not only for his own needs but because he wants to get the medicines she needs so she can live. He hates being a Vampyre and wants nothing more than for someone to find a cure but he believes the Vampyre groups have their own interests that come before the needs of the individual. Joe Pitt is Phillip Marlow with a blood addiction.

The Tower of Shadows
Drew Bowling
Del Rey
c/o Ballantine Books
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0345486706 $19.95

In the town of Nautalia in the world of Ellynrie, Wren keeps his daughter on a very tight leash yet always goes at night to the tavern to drown away his sorrows. While there, the wizard Dale magically summons him, through the medallion he wears around his neck, to his home to call in an old debt. He wants Wren to guard Corin, the boy they saved years against his brother, who wants his blood to summon the demon Appolyon that killed their parents. In his quest for revenge, Cade has turned to the dark side and if he is successful in calling up the demon, it and his minions will destroy the world. Dale tells him that Adriel, his apprentice will also be watching over Corin. Cade's assassins kidnap Kayla in her own home to keep Wren in line but he kills them and is forced to take her on his journey. He and Adriel both search for Corin but by the time he finds him, Cade's assassins kill his best friend and Corin is making his way to his brother's home to deal with him. Kayla, Adriel and Wren follow him to head him off before the brothers meet in a confrontation that could mean death. THE TOWER OF SHADOWS is a good pure fantasy written by a college student whose debut novel is nothing short of magical. His characters are well developed, enabling readers to understand them and the author's world-building skills are nothing short of phenomenal. The author doesn't use any magical creatures in the storyline except for a minor dragon battle to invoke the fantasy elements but relies on sword and sorcery to create a magical tale.

Spears of God
Howard V. Hendrix
Del Rey
c/o Ballantine Books
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0345455983 $14.95

In South America scientists Dr. Michael Miskulin and biologist Professor Susan Yamada climb the Caacamuni by themselves in search of ruins two billion years old that they believe holds the key to evolution. When they reach their destination, they find a remote isolated tepui and a scene out of a horror movie. An entire tribe with the exception of four children has been eradicated by apparently a militia using modern weaponry on these primitive people. Michael and Susan takes the four survivors to Paul Larkin, whose sister Jacinta watched this same space-fungus worshipping tribe vanish through an apparent wormhole (see BETTER ANGELS). However the three young girls and lone boy appear to have enhanced mental powers including the ability to telepathically communicate. Different groups want the kids and the meteorite that contains the space-fungus that the devastated tribe worshipped. NSA Director Jim Brescoll, Susan and Michael try to keep the kids safe while trying to prevent religious, government and military groups from stealing the meteorite in a global arms cold war that could turn hot. At the same time Darla Pittman is shot several times in her lab as she studies the fungus; she lives because she touches the fungus. SPEARS OF GOD is a complex not easy to read science fiction thriller as Howard V. Hendrix goes into incredible depths in the science but at the cost at times of action; long stretches of the tale provide the scientific concepts as exposited mostly by Michael, Susan and Darla, but it not easy to grasp by us scientifically-impaired. Readers who prefer the cerebral rather than the action will want to follow the escapades of a small band of mostly scientists battle against several power-grabbing groups.

1824: The Arkansas War
Eric Flint
Del Rey
c/o Ballantine Books
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0345465695 $25.95

With Monroe's two terms coming to an end, the election of 1824 looks to be a battle between the son of a former president Secretary of State John Quincy Adams and war hero Andrew Jackson. However, a third candidate emerges, as Speaker of the House Henry Clay manipulates events from his powerful seat that threaten much of the freedoms the previous generation fought for and died to gain. Clay's actions succeed in putting him into the White House and forcing Jackson and Adams to forge a strange bedfellow partnership against him based on the one thing the two diverse men agree on: individual rights. To change what bothers the voting population from opposing him to supporting him, Clay invades the "Confederacy of the Arkansas", an independent nation that is flourishing due to human rights consensus and tolerance for all with shockingly Native Americans and African-Americans as free citizens. Southerners applaud the bold move while Northerners patriotically support the president, but have doubts as they know little about this nation. As he did with the first alternative history tale (see 1812: THE RIVERS OF WAR), Eric Flint raises several interesting points inside this exciting action-packed thriller. Readers will debate whether the Civil War could have been avoided if the three regional leaders (Adams, Clay, and Calhoun) stopped marginal compromising by punting the racial divide issue and instead confronted it. Second a President can manipulate events so that the only choice is to stay his course while the opposition looks anti-patriotic bordering on treason. Finally Mr. Flint lucidly affirms that racism or any form of prejudice will prove debilitating over the long run. 1824: THE ARKANSAS WAR may be the alternate history book of the year as the exhilarating story line will hook the audience throughout and leave fans debating "truisms" long afterward.

Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Del Rey
c/o Ballantine Books
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0345470044 $22.95

Twins Muriel and Ronan Shongili have the honor of living on the only known sentient planet in the universe Petaybee. Like their father Sean, the Shongili twins turn into seals when their bodies are immersed in water. Since anyone who lives on Petaybee past puberty can't leave the planet, Muriel and Ronan are going to perform an important mission that will save the people of Halau and their totem animals, sharks and sea turtle because the terraforming that was performed on their planet is falling apart. When they arrive aboard the luxurious spaceship that belong to a Powers That Be Marmian de Revers Algemeine, an ally of Petaybee and its people they find the planet being bombarded by meteors. They want to look for survivors but company man Colonel Cally wants to leave before more meteors hit them. Marmian and company are determined to rescue the survivors, even the sharks and bring them back to Petaybee. The Shongili twins discover alien beings living on the bottom of the ocean of Petaybee when they return, the first natives of Petaybee who can help them defeat the Powers That Be who want to take over the planet and arrest the people in power. The question is will the aliens help them. Two science fiction greats create a trilogy that focuses on the second generation of the Shongili family. This is space opera at its finest and the underwater scenes are so vividly described that readers can easily visualize them. Young adults and older will enjoy this action oriented character driven tale starring two preadolescents who get into the heart of the matter and develop a course of action that will keep their planet to safe for their parents and friends from the Powers That Be.

World War Z
Max Brooks
The Crown Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, #B1, New York, NY 10019-4305
0307346609 $24.95 1-800-726-0600

This tome serves two purposes as a cautionary book for humans in future encounters against the Zombie horde and to provide an "oral history" of the global war on terrorism in which the insurgent living dead came within a bite or two of winning. The CIA offers a slam dunk proof that the Zombie revival started in China as a result of the government campaign of "health and safety" sweeps. Other nations either built great wailing or "Berlin" walls to hide behind or were overwhelmed. Though London was overrun, intrepid Queen Elizabeth remained in the city as a rallying point insisting to bring it on from inside the safe green zone walls of Windsor Castle. In North America, the president used the Zombie invasion as proof that if you don't stop them over there, you will have to stop them here (impeccable logic as where else could you stop them). Keep in mind they are slow so look into their eyes, but not too close; for it they cannot blink due to desiccated or is that desecrated eyelids, then off with their heads. WORLD WAR Z is irreverent and satirizes the pompous stands of politicians as much as the Zombie movie moment. Fans of both will enjoy this fun oral history that lampoons anything and everything from "bird flu" denial to the Bush Effect (formerly known as the Pygmalion Effect) in which you make a claim, take action, and when your original assumption proves false insure the only option is to stay the course to prevent Zombies from ironically being the last living left standing.

Sliver of Truth
Lisa Unger
Shaye Areheart Books
c/o The Crown Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, #B1, New York, NY 10019-4305
0307338460 $23.00 1-800-726-0600

New York City reporter Ridley Jones thinks she resolved the identity of her biological father who was the now deceased Uncle Max Smiley, head of Project Rescue that saved abused children from nasty parents. Ridley was a rescued child placed in the home of Ben and Grace Jones, who adopted her. However, Ridley uncovers the fact that Project Rescue also abducted children from safe harmonious households to place them in the homes of clients. Now FBI Agent Dylan Grace takes some photos from Ridley that shows Max or a doppelganger in the background of the pictures. The Feds seek Max, who they believe is alive, for his alleged abductions of women that he sells as sex slaves and his baby vending business. Dylan believes Ridley is the link that will lead him to the recently vanished New York Times journalist, Myra Lyall, whom the special agent thinks Max kidnapped to sell to the highest bidder Everyone including Ridley, Dylan and her on and off boyfriend Jake seek to find Uncle Max, who is the apparent head of several nefarious rings. The sort line is action-packed from the moment that Ridley collects her photos in Manhattan and never slows down until the final confrontation. However, the motives of the key characters are difficult to fathom until late in the novel even for those who read Ridley's previous discoveries about her parentage (see BEAUTIFUL LIES). Still this is an engrossing thriller that has the audience soaring along side the heroine on both sides of the Atlantic as she tries to learn whether Uncle Max lives.

Country Wives
Rebecca Shaw
Three Rivers Press
c/o The Crown Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, #B1
New York, NY 10019-4305
1400098211 $12.95 1-800-726-0600

In Barleybridge, England Dr. Daniel Brown joins the staff of the local veterinary hospital as a temporary veterinarian. He is terrific with his patients, but he has no patience for their inane owners. In fact his lambasting of Lord Askew for mistreating a cow leads to this influential client angrily informing senior partner Dr. Price that he will go elsewhere. Price is irate over losing an affluent client and the office manager Joy wants Dan fired. However Price's wife Miriam thinks the new vet is a winner. So does receptionist Kate Howard, who dreams of becoming a vet one day though money is an issue. Dan takes Kate with him as he makes his rounds, which enables her to understand more of his past. She also wishes she could learn more about her biological mom whom she never met except inside the womb, as her mother abandoned her and the family when she Kate was born; however she will never act on her desire because she does not want to hurt her loving dad or stepmom. Sometimes you get what you wish for as a personal tragedy enables Kate to meet the woman who dumped her years ago, the person who offers her the money to go to school if she accepts the conditions imposed on her. This fine cozy enables readers to follow the goings on in a rustic English village where in some ways the center of life is the vet hospital that cares for farm animals as well as pets. The story line is character driven mostly by Daniel who refuses to back down when he sees animal abuse even by an aristocratic patron who could cost him his job and by Kate who has to decide between her loving stepmother and her deserting mother. Readers will enjoy returning to Barleybridge for A COUNTRY AFFAIR.

The Zombie Survival Guide
Max Brooks
Three Rivers
c/o The Crown Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, #B1,New York, NY 10019-4305
1400049628 1-800-726-0600

THE ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE is a terrific lampooning of the genre as Max Brooks (with illustrator Max Werner) warns people to take these attacks seriously or else within twenty-three hours be dead and reanimated as a slow limping creature (that is why they instinctively hunt in packs). Mr. Brooks provides a historical perspective over the millenniums of documented Zombie attacks and what to do and more important not to do when the real judgment day occurs as the dead rise to increase their ranks. Filled with tips on combat (if a choice flight rather than fight), key supplies (two pairs of socks), and how not to lose loved ones to a Zombie. Readers will find this an amusing satire on survival, horror movies and books, and George Romero as obviously Max squared have insider information that a zombie traitor must have leaked, but the humor holds up better by reading small bites over time.

The Black Sun
James Twining
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060762144 $24.95 1-800-242-7737

In London British MI6 operatives try to enlist the aid of former CIA Agent Tom Kirk in a nasty situation involving three brutal murder-robberies. Tom declines even as they describe the murders at a synagogue in Prague, at a hospital in London and a museum in Maryland. All were violent yet nothing of seeming value taken. What were stolen was a worthless 1940s painting, a Nazi camp survivor's arm, and a WW II Enigma machine. This doesn't make sense except for the war connection and the probable link to neo-Nazi supremacist group Kristall Blade. Tom agrees to help when he learns that his enemy from his espionage days, Harry Renwick, is involved. Tom, accompanied by two friends, begins following clues on two continents in order to stop the Neo-Nazis and their allies from achieving their objective, which he knows involves six decades old lost gold and other treasures. THE BLACK SUN is an exciting neo-Nazi thriller and sub-genre fans will enjoy following the exploits of introspective Tom and his cohorts. As with Kirk's first novel, THE DOUBLE EAGLE, the fast-paced story line blends historical tidbits into a modern day mystery. Readers will enjoy James Twining's tense tale though nothing neo arises under the Nazi sun.

Blue Christmas
Mary Kay Andrews
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060837349 $14.95 1-800-242-7737

With Christmas just around the corner, antiques dealer Weezie Foley has decorated her store to look like an eighteenth century Yuletide gala in order for her to win the Savannah historical district contest. However, something odd occurs every night as someone seems to sneak into her emporium to steal an item of little value from her decorations. She has no idea who her midnight marauder is or why they purloin one article, but plans to find out whom he or she is. Meanwhile Weezie also wants to share a joyful holiday with her boyfriend chef Daniel Stipanek, but he seems more a bah humbug than joy to the world type as he rejects her efforts. Weezie turns to her pal BeBe Loudermilk, her dog Jericho, and her certifiable family to help her learn what bugs Daniel about Christmas. Soon her two mysteries intertwine as Weezie needs a miraculous gift from the Magi if she is going to convert her beloved from being a Scrooge clone. The latest Weezie-BeBe thriller is a blithe holiday romp that will please fans of the two zany women (see SAVANNAH BREEZE and MISSY FIT). The story line is amusing as Weezie recruits her best friend and her family to help her with Daniel. The cast is delightful, but Weezie owns this cheerful (except for moody Daniel) Christmas caper.

Lullabies for Little Criminals
Heather O'Neill
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060875070 $13.95 1-800-242-7737

In Montreal, Baby is turning twelve shortly. Her mother has been with for quite a while her twenty-seven years old father who is a junkie. They move around a lot from dive hotels to run down apartments to abodes worse than either always in the red light district where Jules seeks easy marks to con. Jules is a schemer, but never succeeds in making money because he usually explodes in a berserker rage when the slightest thing does not go in accordance to his plan, which is often as his heroin dependency rules his logic. Baby hides as much as possible at the community center or in the apartments of other children especially when her father is raging. Foster care, school and juvenile detention are respites from the violence though none are safe. She knows that charismatic but dangerous pimp Alphonse and kindhearted student Xavier seem to want her though she knows first hand that sex means pain. Soon Baby's world will crash further leaving her to make adult decisions that a kid should never have to face. Though depressing to read about a child who never had any opportunity for youthful innocence, LULLABIES FOR LITTLE CRIMINALS is a powerful look at how the young adapt to their changing circumstances. Baby is a terrific protagonist, aptly named, as she endures in an ugly world made nastier by her father's needs fueled by heroin. The story line focuses on the little criminal, an offspring of a kid having a kid, doing what she must to endure. Heather O'Neill writes a compelling character study that showcases a young survivor.

Darcy's Story
Janet Aylmer
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0061148709 $13.95 1-800-242-7737

For those few born on another planet - In Longbourn, wealthy Charles Bingley rents Netherfield Park, which excites Mrs. Bennet, mother of five daughters whom she wants married to quality. At a gala Charles and the oldest Bennet sister, Jane hit it off. However, his wealthy friend Fitzwilliam Darcy acts pompous believing the next in line Elizabeth is beneath him; he alienates all the locals even Mrs. Bennet. When Jane becomes ill while visiting Charles, she is forced to stay at his leased manor house. Elizabeth continually walks over to tend to her sister, which brings her into contact with the prideful Fitzwilliam who soon finds he appreciates her honesty and intelligence while she sees through his prejudicial armor of superiority to his inner soul while Charles' arrogant sister disdains her as she feels superior and the equal of Fitzwilliam. Conceptually DARCY'S STORY is a terrific idea, however, the execution of bringing out Darcy's side of events like that first ball and how he compares Elizabeth with Miss Bingley, etc is interesting but flat. The problem is too much is lifted from the original Jane Austen classic leading to readers to want to put down this tale and go back to Pride and Prejudice. Lacking the originality of Janet Aylmer's AN ASSEMBLY SUCH AS THIS, DARCY'S STORY is for a select limited audience of Ms. Austen's fans.

Land of Mist and Snow
Debra Doyle & James D. MacDonald
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060819197 $7.99 1-800-242-7737

When his ship burned, Lieutenant John Nevis files papers for the War Department while waiting to get a new seagoing assignment. In 1863 he is ordered to take possession of Rodman guns and take them to his new posting as head of the gunnery department of the USS Nicodemus. He is taken to the Naval Experimental shipyard in Thule near the Artic Circle, a place shrouded in secrecy. When he spots the Nicodemus he sees no energy source to make the ship move; yet it goes faster, and with more agility then any ship in the union. The captain William M. R. Sharp has found a way to bind an air elemental to his will so that it is what causes the ship to move at great speed and shift momentum at a moment's notice. The only woman on board the ship, Miss Columbia Abrams, acts as a conduit giving Nicodemus commands in the captain's name. Their mission is to catch the blockade runners and commence traders who want to destroy the union blockade of the Confederacy. However, the confederacy now has a similar ship the Alecto fueled by blood sacrifices and it is determined to destroy the Nicodemus but even though Nicodemus hates the captain for the enslavement it hates Alecto more; with Columbia and John's help the elemental will do its best to defeat evil personified. Combining Horatio Alger and the alternate history works of Harry Turtledove, readers will have a good idea what LAND OF MIST AND SNOW is all about. Magical ships run by bound elementals make this an exciting work full of action on the high seas. Although the romance between Johnny and Columbia seems to be a contrived subplot device to move the storyline in the direction the authors want it to go, the audience will thoroughly enjoy this original and entertaining tale.

Lullabies for Little Criminals
Heather O'Neill
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060875070 $13.95 1-800-242-7737

In Montreal, Baby is turning twelve shortly. Her mother has been with for quite a while her twenty-seven years old father who is a junkie. They move around a lot from dive hotels to run down apartments to abodes worse than either always in the red light district where Jules seeks easy marks to con. Jules is a schemer, but never succeeds in making money because he usually explodes in a berserker rage when the slightest thing does not go in accordance to his plan, which is often as his heroin dependency rules his logic. Baby hides as much as possible at the community center or in the apartments of other children especially when her father is raging. Foster care, school and juvenile detention are respites from the violence though none are safe. She knows that charismatic but dangerous pimp Alphonse and kindhearted student Xavier seem to want her though she knows first hand that sex means pain. Soon Baby's world will crash further leaving her to make adult decisions that a kid should never have to face. Though depressing to read about a child who never had any opportunity for youthful innocence, LULLABIES FOR LITTLE CRIMINALS is a powerful look at how the young adapt to their changing circumstances. Baby is a terrific protagonist, aptly named, as she endures in an ugly world made nastier by her father's needs fueled by heroin. The story line focuses on the little criminal, an offspring of a kid having a kid, doing what she must to endure. Heather O'Neill writes a compelling character study that showcases a young survivor.

Conservatize Me
John Moe
Morrow Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street New York, NY 10022-5299
0060854014 $24.95 1-800-242-7737

A self proclaimed leftist, NPR talk-show host John Moe spent nine months limiting himself to known acceptable conservative groups for news such as the Washington Times, Fox News, Russ Limbaugh, Weekly Standard and National Review; country music stations only, and roving "Krystal Klear" milieus like rodeos and NASCAR. He visited the Reagan and Nixon Presidential Libraries (Nixon's contains his key scandal while Reagan's ignores his in spite of convictions and confessions with Bush senior pardons). Finally his objective was to better understand conservative thinking especially in America's Heartland. Though anecdotal and often amusing, Mr. Moe concludes there are two types of conservatives in this country. On the one hand he disdains those he met at a college conference who in his mind are offspring of Machiavelli and Lady MacBeth, as power is everything (consider that war reelects presidents) or ignore negatives re their "heroes". On the other side, Mr. Moe admires Mayor Shawn Larsen of Rexburg, Idaho who is a devoted logical person wanting to make government effective and efficient. He admits being from liberal Seattle making the trek through the Red states at times felt like Frodo seeking to rid himself of the ring as the conservative take on movies make for an overall delightfully funny expose on those who are right.

I Gave You My Heart, but You Sold It Online
Dixie Cash
Morrow Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street,New York, NY 10022-5299
0060829710 $21.95 1-800-242-7737

In Salt Lick, Texas former rodeo superstar Quint Matthews asks his ex girlfriend Debbie Sue Overstreet and her "Domestic Equalizers" partner Edwina Perkins-Martin to uncover the hideaway of the thief using his credit card. He informs the ladies that he was dating Veronica, but she vanished leaving his credit in shambles. Finally he insists they low key everything as he is in hiding after a highly publicized fiasco involving a Vegas transvestite. The beauty parlor owners agree to investigate the theft. Quint fails to inform the two sleuths that he also is in town to meet in person for the first time his new on line girlfriend Allison Barker, a single mother raising a twelve years old daughter. What Quint does not know is that it is not the mom agreeing to a date, but the daughter masquerading as her mother. As the Equalizers work the case, Quint and Allison go out on a date, but she likes his friend Tag Freeman much more. Besides which, Quint has new problems with a stalker and a murder with him as the only suspect. The third madcap Domestic Equalizers mystery (see MY HEART MAY BE BROKEN BUT MY HAIR STILL LOOKS GREAT and SINCE YOU'RE LEAVING ANYWAY, TAKE OUT THE TRASH) is a zany way out West teas tale filled with an eccentric cast (including the lead females). The wild enjoyable story line is character driven. Quint is quite a character as he jumps from the frying pan into the fire time after time. Edwina and Debbie Sue are as always stirring up trouble in between fixing hair as they try to locate Veronica until Quint gets in even deeper and they have to prove his innocence based on his being stupid not a killer. Dixie cash provides an amusing insane by fun thriller.

Jack's Widow
Eve Pollard
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060817038 $24.95 1-800-242-7737

With the assassination of her husband in Dallas in 1963, Jackie Kennedy knows she must make a new life for herself beyond that of the First Lady, a role she was just getting comfortable with. However, with Jack's death and the abrupt move out of the White House, Jackie has no time for grief with her needing to be there for her offspring and her anger over stories that her late spouse was a womanizer including recently dead Marilyn Monroe. Worse the Kennedy clan makes demands of her because they know best for Caroline, John, and the Widow; image is everything to them as Robert is next in line for the White House. The CIA believes they can use Jackie to gather information at dinner parties as no one would suspect the former First Lady to be a spy. They even extol her to court Aristotle Onassis to learn his plans and those who come into contact with him. Jackie agrees and becomes a CIA mole amidst the rich and famous. The first third or so of JACK'S WIDOW will fascinate the audience as Eve Pollard provides Jackie's perspective on Camelot, her husband's death, the sudden move out of the White House, the rumors of his cheating, and the Kennedy clan orders. When the novel turns into Jackie Kennedy, I spy agent the plot seems silly. This one was top gun as a biographical fiction, but crashes as an espionage thriller.

Size 14 Is Not Fat Either
Meg Cabot
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060525126 $13.95

Heather Wells has adjusted from being a teen music sensation to an out of the spotlight student-life assistant dorm director at New York College. Keeping students in line in Manhattan has proven much more difficult than she expected especially with the female corpse in the elevator shaft at Heather's residence hall (see SIZE 12 IS NOT FAT). Just as she adjusted from the end of her singing career due to getting too big to be a star and her mom running to South America with her savings, Heather hopes that homicide is the last major problem she faces at the school. However, the head of popular cheerleader Lindsay Combs is found boiled to a prune inside a cafeteria's cooking pot. Though she knows to leave it to the cops, Heather remembers they wrote off the elevator death as a suicide, so in spite of it being obvious that murder occured, she does not trust the police or the administration to solve the case. Heather investigates by learning what she can about the victim; Miss Bubbles slept with several drug-selling frat students. Interrupting her inquiries is her dad, just released from prison after two decades, who needs a place to crash. This is a fun cozy due to the enthusiasm of the heroine who takes hits but keeps on moving in a positive manner. Heather is delightful as she copes with the end of her music career quite nicely, investigates the latest murder at the college, and struggles with her dad's desire to relate after all these years. She has good reasons not to trust her parents. The number of suspects seems small as this is a college in New York, but no one will care due to the appealing Heather.

Passions of the Ghost
Sara Mackenzie
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060795824 $5.99

The Sorceress decides her next second chance hero will be thirteenth century Welsh legend Reynold de Mortimer, better known seven centuries ago as the "Ghost". He was tough but honest and kept his land and people safe from marauding English and Welsh. However, he failed to plan for the deluge after he died in 1299 so his people suffered from war. Thus he can atone for his arrogance and ultimate failure. In the present, Amy Fairweather is a guest at Reynold's castle, a tourist attraction hosting a Medieval Long Weekend. Though she prefers not to be here she owes her brother big time so she is here acting nice to the odious Prince Nicco as her sibling directed to do. She is to distract the Prince while her sibling steals the Star of Russia from him. However, when Nicco tries to get his way with his "Aimee", Rey intercedes. Already stunned not so much from his reawakening, but to learn that his castle is a hotel, he feels even more confused by his attraction to Amy. As they fall in love, she comes to believe his tale of being the thirteenth century owner of this castle especially when a dormant fuming dragon awakens. The third Sorceress romantic fantasy (see RETURN OF THE HIGHLANDER and SECRETS OF THE HIGHWAYMAN) is an over top absolute fun tale starring two likable protagonists. Rey is perfect as he struggles to understand the modern world where initially everything he held sacrosanct seems defaced yet he quickly understands real values like honor and love remain the same and men still abuse positions of authority. Amy is his perfect guide to the twenty first century as they battle arrogant royals and lethal dragons while falling in love.

For the Love of a Pirate
Edith Layton
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060757868 $5.99

Lord Constantine Wylde proposes marriage to Miss. Winchester, who accepts as her father investigated her beau to insure his reputation as a perfect sober gentleman does not hide scandal or abuse. A few nights later, Captain Bigod visits Con pointing pistols at the calm aristocrat. Bigod angrily shows the article in the Times of Wylde to marry the daughter of Baron Pierce as the sea pirate claims that Con is already engaged to wed his granddaughter as arranged by Wylde's father Roger and Bigod's son Jack, highwaymen partners. Unable to ignore the strange turn of events, Con travels to Bigod's home where he meets his "fiancee Lisabeth. He finds her delightful and marvels how she makes him feel contented. Neither can keep their hands off the other until she seduces him into making love. He proposes, but she says no as she loves him but prefers her independence. Now the proper gentleman begins a campaign to prove he can be a pirate, a highwayman, or some other rogue as long as Lisabeth is with him. FOR THE LOVE OF A PIRATE is an amusing historical romance in which opposites attract. Wylde is ironically misnamed as he is always prim and proper until he meets Lisabeth; she on the other hand enjoys life to the fullest. The support cast adds to the fun as the pirate and a governess provide insight into the strange relationship between the lead couple. Edith Layton writes a fun tale that her fans will appreciate.

Pleasure for Pleasure
Eloisa James
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060781920 $6.99

When the Essex sisters came to London the four were unmarried; now in 1818 there is only one, Josephine as her siblings have found their mates. However, her chances are slim, a most misfortunate word as her nickname amidst the Ton is the "Scottish Sausage", which she was dubbed because of a corset and a friend of a rejected suitor. While her sisters and her guardian are distracted by love and are off on honeymoons, Josie discards the corset, which in turn frees her beautiful body from its imprisonment. Though his engagement is falling apart as his fiancee Sylvie does not seem to want to marry him, Lord Garret Langham gets involved with protecting his family friend, the not so little Josie, from an angry attacker. When she rejects the failed assaulter Thurman's forced proposal, Garret offers marriage too. She accepts his as she knows she loves him. However, as she learns what love is, Josie knows she must free her beloved Garret so he can be with his Sylvie. The fourth Essex sister Regency romance is a delightful tale of love and hate amongst the Ton. The love is not obvious to comprehend as readers will agree with Josie that Garret wants Sylvie not her; the hate is easier to spot as Thurman blames his failures as a witty name caller on Josie. Readers will obtain plenty of pleasure from Eloisa James' final Essex saga.

Must Love Mistletoe
Christie Ridgeway
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0061140201 $6.99

She knows why she rooted for Scrooge before he converted as Bailey Sullivan hates Christmas because her family store in Coronado, California, The Perfect Christmas, depends on the Yuletide season to make a profit. She left her hometown to escape the good cheer, holidays and the store, moving to Los Angeles. Now her family needs her so she comes home to help save the store from going bankrupt. To her shock, Bailey finds her parents arguing; her mother Tracey refuses to even step inside the store that meant so much to her while her stepdad Dan rejects any compromise. Worse is seeing her teenage sweetheart Finn Jacobson; he is home, on sick leave recovering from an on the job injury that left a peer dead and he with a patch on his eye when they did their Secret Service mission stopping an assassin. He does not want to see Bailey even with one eye as she broke his heart over ten years ago and whom he never forgot, but is polite to her when they meet even as he acknowledges she is the only one who asks how he truly is and nada about the eye. Readers must love Christine Ridegway as she provides an excellent lighthearted Christmas romp starring likable lead characters and a fabulous support cast especially the relatives of Bailey and Finn. The relationships make for a fine time as everyone seems to be in a bah humbug mood but the magic of the season enhanced by love overcomes the nasty disposition. This romance is a winner, but it is critical is for the audience to keep some mistletoe handy (the reason pockets were invented).

The Prince Kidnaps a Bride
Christina Dodd
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060561181 $7.99

When they were royal children, their parents arranged a betrothal between Prince Rainger and Princess Sorcha. However, a revolution in Beaumontagne sent Sorcha and her sisters fleeing for safety while Prince Rainger was locked away in a dungeon. By 1810 most people assume Rainger is dead including Sorcha who lives a quiet life in a Scottish convent where she feels she must take her vows, as she sees nothing else in her future. However, her hopes to stay safe ends when Arnou the fisherman arrives informing her she must leave for the safety of the other convent as assassins have come to kill her and anyone else in their way. Sorcha takes a chance on him and flees, but her acquiescence worries her rescuer as Rainger, disguised as the fisherman, sees other indications that his princess bride is naive, trusting everyone while he trusts no one not even her. Yet he also marvels how she seems charmed as she gets out of dangerous predicaments at times without his help. He loves his princess and she loves her fisherman, but first there is a kingdom to regain. THE PRINCE KIDNAPS A BRIDE is a terrific ending to the Lost Princesses historical romance miniseries (see BAREFOOT PRINCESS AND SOME ENCHANTED EVENING). The story line is filled with action, but it is the lead couple that makes for a superior tale. He is hard with no passion as a result of his years in captivity while she is naive as a result of her years in "captivity". Fans will root for the last lost princess and her prince to overcome their adversaries, who some might say include themselves.

Confessions of a Viscount
Shirley Karr
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060834129 $5.99

In 1816 Charlotte Parnell wants to become an undercover agent working for the crown just like her older brother Steven is. She knows about their ender bias so the courageous Charlotte must prove her worth by solving the latest case her sibling and his cohorts are working on resolving, the theft of a snuffbox with a letter inside it that could cause damage to England. Her efforts lead her to Alistair Viscount Montcreiffe at a ball and a rooftop fall. However, he feels honor bound to propose marriage to Charlotte for "catching" her; she accepts, but plans to use her engagement as a masquerade to solve the case. Afterward she will end their betrothal though that thought makes her depressed. Soon her plan goes further awry as adversaries want them stooped while love openly blossoms between the pair. Charlotte with her sleuthing makes this a fun Regency romantic suspense as Alistair is hard put to keep up with his slippery beloved though he seems to be there when she falls down. The story line is filled with action, perhaps capers is a better word, as Charlotte leads Alistair into one misadventure after another. Readers will appreciate this fun amateur sleuth historical romance starring a congenial daring duo.

Pleasure Control
Cathryn Fox
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060898569 $13.95

Lab partners Laura Manning and Jay Cutler are concerned that their funding might be cut especially if their grant request is rejected. Jay says he will serve as the guinea pig to see if their serum will suppress male libidos as their work must remain top secret so no one else would do. Laura says if this works on "Little Jay" it would on everyone as he has a different woman seemingly every weekend. He insists that she be his accompaniment this time to insure he is okay and to keep their work out of the hands of corporate spies. As they spend the weekend together, Little Jay seems to prove their elixir fails as it has a mind of its own when it comes to Laura. She begins to believe her dreams of loving him forever may come true while he wonders if perhaps he is not the cold-hearted SOB that his mom insisted he is as he now knows his feelings that he hid from with a plethora of females mean love. However both have doubts as this is a chemical experiment. PLEASURE CONTROL feels like a modern day but much hotter version of the Grant-Rogers film Monkey Business. The lead couple is a delightful pairing of two scientists with doubts about relationships outside the Bunsen burner world. The story line hooks the audience from the start and keeps readers throughout in a one sitting pleasurable read.

Knight of Darkness
Kinley MacGregor
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060796626 $6.99

In Avalon, Aquila Merlin tells Varian du Frey that one of them is a traitor. She shows him an image of Grail Knight Tarynice lying in blood obviously dead, he had been captured and tortured by their enemy led by Morgen of Camelot. Someone informed Morgen how to identify a Grail Knight by the tattoo on the arm. Merlin wants Varian to bring home the corpse and learn if he gave away any secrets especially involving the other five remaining knights, who all have one clue each to the whereabouts of the sacred Grail. Varian goes to the third city pulled into the Fey universe, the cesspool Glastonbury Abbey. Among those stuck in the city is Princess Merewyn who made a deal with the evil Narishka that has left her as a deformed hag for eternity. In a bar Varian learns that the demon Bracken killed Tarynice before going home with the body. Varian travels to Camelot to learn what Bracken found out from Tarynice. However, Varian's mother Narishka placed a magic restricting bracelet on him so he cannot use his skills. He is locked in the dungeon where he is tortured. Merewyn is sent to show him kindness because his mother believes pity is his weakness. They escape; while trekking the dangerous path home accompanied by a dragon and triplets, Merewyn and Varian fall in love. The latest Lords of Avalon tale (see THE SWORD OF DARKNESS) is a fresh, unique and at times amusing look at what happened to Camelot and Avalon. The lead couple consists of brave ethical individuals, who believe they are not good enough for the other while their comrade Blaise the Dragon adds depth to the fantasy species. Arthurian fans will want to read this terrific romantic fantasy.

It's Never Too Late to Look Hot
Heather Estay
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060836911 $12.95

Her adult children, her loyal former members of the Save Angie Crisis Intervention Team (Jessica, Gwen, and Marie), and boyfriend Tim host a fiftieth birthday bash for Angie. She enjoys the outpouring of love, but also wants her relationship with Tim turns a bit more serious than the somewhat casual it is at the moment. Worse her ex-husband Bob who wasted their savings and dumped her for the Neighborhood watch captain Queen King (see IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO GET A LIFE) is always around though Angie has told him to go wrestle his female Winnebago. Finally, she learns she is truly getting old when she learns she will soon become a grandma. At work, a new boss with the personality of a Hussein on a bad hair day and a need to micromanage to the point of dotting all "I"s drives Angie over the edge even further than the ex does. She decides to she must fix this tin dictator before he makes work unbearable. Her ploy is to use her womanly wiles to charm him into trusting her to do the right thing. How could something so simple go so wrong? This is fun addition to the It's never too Late … series as Angie's life continues to serve as the basis for chaos theory. As she turns fifty she has doubts about her abilities to turn on a man because of her age and her becoming a grandma. However, she proves she still can be a seductress. Readers will enjoy her latest exploits.

Karen Marie Moning
Delacorte Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0385339151 $20.00 1-800-726-0600

MacKayla Lane is stunned when she is informed that her sister Alina was murdered in Ireland. When Mac concludes that the Dublin police seem uninterested or incapable of solving the homicide, she flies from Ashford, Georgia to Ireland. Her plan is to light a fire under the cops or if that fails investigate on her own. However, Mac is further stunned when Alina leaves her with a odd cell phone message on top of her sudden ability to see creatures that do not exist outside of mythology, fantasy or horror tales. Jericho Barrons insists Mac is a sidhe seer who has the uncanny skill to see fairy and other supernatural species. He needs her to find the stolen Sinsar Dubh, a tome that can be used to open the gates between dimensions. Mac agrees on the condition he helps her find out who killed her sibling and why. DARKFEVER is an excellent twenty-first century fantasy that brings to life paranormal species and elements in a modern day context. The story line starts off as a seemingly straightforward mystery, but quickly turns into a romp on the wild side as Mac and her mysterious Jericho partner try to locate the dark tome and uncover who killed her sister. Karen Marie Moning provides a terrific thriller starring an intrepid heroine who already could see the Fae, but has to adapt to much more good and evil in a vast universe filled strange and wonderous things.

Danielle Steel
Delacorte Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0385338295 $27.00 1-800-726-0600

Following graduation from the University of California at Berkley, Princess Christianna returns to her home the European monarchy of Liechtenstein because her father Prince Hans Josef asked her. She loves her dad and would do almost anything he asked of her, but after four years in California meeting people, Christianna feels alone except for her sire, her dog, and the servants. She has no friends who can see beyond the Serene Highness the way they had in America where no one heard of her country. On the news, she sees terrorist incidents in Russia and the plight of children in Africa. She persuades her dad she needs to go to help though not necessarily in an official state capacity. He reluctantly agrees to let his beloved offspring join the Red Cross at an East African refugee camp. There she hides her HRH status and makes friends. Christianna begins to fall in love with Doctors Without Borders physician Parker Williams who reciprocates, but she fears telling him the truth. However, a tragedy back in her hometown of Vaduz forces her to return home to confront her royalty. A modern update of Roman Holiday is a well written royal romance starring two sincere caring individuals falling in love though her station in life makes it seemingly impossible for anything permanent. The lead pair are wonderful people dedicated to helping others so they serve as role models. However, neither seems to have a deep flaw let alone a selfish bone (or even a cuticle) so only the crown keeps them apart. Still Danielle Steel's fans will enjoy this regal contemporary romance.

Cursor's Fury
Jim Butcher
Ace Books
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0441014348 $24.95 1-800-847-5515

In the realm of Alera where people can bind elemental furies and use their powers, Tavi is one of the fair who has no magical abilities. He is trusted by First Lord Gaius and was once his page. Now he is a Cursor, gathering intelligence to protect the realm from its enemies. However, not everyone is satisfied with the First Lord's rule; High Lord Kalare wants the position and he makes a devil's bargain with the monstrous looking, magic wielding Canim. The battleground where the Canim will make their first stand is Cerus and Tavi through a series of deaths Tavi is now the captain and the leader of the First Alera legion. He is a natural leader and even though the Canim have fifty thousand troops camped to a few thousand Aleran soldiers, Tavi is determined to hold the line until other legions arrive to aid him. What he doesn't know that Kalare has imprisoned the spouses of Lords Atticus and Placida and neither man will make a move until their loved ones is freed. Tavi knows if he doesn't find a way to stop the coming horde, they will overrun all of Alera. Jim Butcher, author of the Dresden Files writes high fantasy in the tradition of Tolkien. The author is a fantastic worldbuilder who has created a society with its own culture, politics and values and it seems so real, the reader will believe such places actually exist. This is a unique hero who thinks he is losing because he has no fury crafting but doesn't understand one doesn't need magic to be a leader and inspire loyalty. There is much intrigue and political maneuvering in CURSOR'S FURY but the battle scenes are fantastic because they are easily visualized. Mr. Butcher deserves a Hugo nomination for this fine book.

Childe Morgan
Katherine Kurtz
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0441012825 $24.95 1-800-847-5515

In the kingdom of Gwynedd, King Donal Haldane grieves the loss of his out of wedlock offspring Kelson, whom he thought would make a suitable companion to his heir, fourteen years old Prince Brion. Still the monarch feels good that four years old half-breed Deryni Alaric Morgan has been pledged by his parents to use his magic like they do to keep the rulers safe though the vow must be kept secret even as the king keeps the Deryni safe from fanatical religious tyranny. King Donal knows he walks a dangerous line as he protects the Deryni because his Bishops especially Bishop Oliver de Nore, whose brother was executed by order of the king for having Kelson killed, would excommunicate him without a second thought. Besides the troubles with the religious leaders, neighboring nation Torenth threatens to invade. However, though feeling his age and his concerns, Donal receives good news that gives him hope for the future; he learns that Torenth Prince Nimur is dead and his younger brother Torval is insane because they played with dangerous taboo magic. Still Prince Hogan has his mage Zachris Pomeroy preparing to cause havoc as he wants the throne with Alaric being the key to preventing a hostile takeover. This is an interesting Deryni tale though the action is somewhat limited as much of what occurs is off screen mostly from an introspective King Donal. The monarch is a fascinating character as he struggles with the Bishops, his neighbors, and betrayals to insure his son inherits the throne and has the Deryni protection to keep him safe yet is feeling weary and worn out. This is more of a character study of a tired medieval ruler than a fantasy but fans of the series still will appreciate his plight but more so when the Deryni use their magic.

The Becoming
Jeanne A Stein
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0441014569 $7.99 1-800-847-5515

Anna Strong and her partner David are bail enforcement agents or bounty hunters as they are better known. One night David goes into a bar to find John Donaldson who skipped out on his bail bond. Donaldson is charged with embezzlement and there is no history that he is violent yet David is taking much too long to long to bring him to the car where Anna is waiting. Donaldson walks out of the bar and proceeds to attack Anna leaving her unconsciousness; she awakens in the hospital cared for by Dr. Avery. He tells her that Donaldson is a vampire and because they exchanged blood, she is becoming one too. Although she doesn't want to believe it, her fading reflection in the mirror, her telepathic abilities and her increased night vision convince her that she is indeed a vampire. In a short period of time she begins a liaison with Avery, searching for a kidnapped David and is almost killed by vampire hunters, The Revengers. Avery wants her to use mortals as food and turn her back on David, but she is determined to find him even if it means putting her unlife on the line. More serious in tone than Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series and much less exotic than Anita Blake's tales by Laurel K. Hamilton yet readers will love this good vampire thriller that has so many surprise twists and plenty of action. There is some humor in THE BECOMING because an unknown being she dubs Casper communicates with Anna and helps her in dangerous situations. He is a great morale booster and readers will want to read more novels just to find out who her guardian angel is.

Secrets of a South Beach Princess
Mary Kennedy
Berkley Books Jam
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425211967 $9.99 1-800-847-5515

On the surface teenager Amber Fielding is the golden girl who has everything going for her. Her father owns the Fielding Hotel in South Beach, Florida and they live in the Penthouse. She is a part-time model with a publicity agent who is getting endorsements for her and she recently had a two page spread in a magazine where she was dubbed the new "It Girl". She is not snobby and has a good work ethic, helping her father insure the hotel runs smoothly. By the pool she meets Nick, a handsome sturdy young man who is staying with his mother, the reclusive retired movie star Ellen Crawford, at the Fielding Hotel. They immediately click but he keeps sending her mixed signals, talking flirtatiously to her friend and sending her other friend who he doesn't even know an expensive bouquet to cheer her up when she is hospitalized. When Amber learns that Nick betrayed her, she wants nothing more to do with him but he isn't willing to let their relationship die before it begins. Mary Kennedy writes entertaining novels around the teen-age audience. Beyond telling a good story, she explores teen angst, the pressure teens feel and the mistakes they make by giving in to the pressure. The protagonist may be fooled by people pretending to be nice but she is nobody's fool and she quickly learns from her mistakes. Readers would be proud to call her their daughter.

Star of the Morning
Lynn Kurland
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425212122 $14.00

Ever since the last battle with Lothar the evil black mage, spells by the archmage Miach and the two magical swords keep the Kingdom of Nieroche safe for now. However, Miach's brother King Adhemar panics when he realizes his tie to the magic especially one of the swords has abruptly ended as if a spell occurred to sever this link. Miach worries that a new war with Lothar is coming with the kingdom in peril. The royal siblings seek out someone who can use the Sword of Angesand as they know the only way to prevent Lothar from overwhelming Nieroche is with the two magical swords. Lord Nicholas sends his trained mercenary Morgan to deliver a dagger to the king. To their royal surprise the king and the archmage may have found the Sword of Angesand wielder, but the mercenary warrior is a she, who rejects magic as skill and training is the way of combat for Morgan. Still she is the one as Miach and Glides, one of her traveling companions, are falling in love with the female warrior, but first they must save the kingdom. STAR OF THE MORNING is a terrific opening return to the Nine Kingdoms as Lynn Kurland provides fantasy readers with a delightful quest tale starring likable heroes. Morgan is fascinating as the focus of the story line (and the men in her life) because she is so guileless yet strong, brave and feisty. Her courage makes for a magical beginning to what looks like will be a superb romantic fantasy trilogy.

Rough and Ready
Sandra Hill
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425213021 $7.99 1-800-847-5515

His brilliant sister UCLA professor Kirstin, an expert on ancient studies especially Vikings, asks Navy SEAL Lieutenant Torolf Magnusson what he would change if he could go back in time to an event lost in the annals of history; a little documented event say in 1020 like Steinolf claiming to be king of the Norselands after a ten year reign of terror. Torolf is happy in America, but would want to stop the madness of Steinolf. Torolf and his SEAL teammates ride a Viking long ship in Norway when they are transported back to the early eleventh century. There he seeks the help of his childhood friend, Brunhilda "Hilda" Berdottir, a "Dark Ages feminist". He and his men find her and other strong women living in Sanctuary. As his men think it is a big ruse, Torolf begins his quest to end Steinolf's tyranny even as he and Hilda fall in love. If he succeeds on his mission, Torolf wonders about the future with Hilda, here, the twenty-first century, or will they be the ultimate star-crossed lovers. The latest amusing Viking time travel romance sends Torolf to the past with his squad in which misunderstanding becomes the norm and the lack of coffee makes the men suffer caffeine withdrawal. The plot takes many more twists than the previous tales, which doubles the humorous fun as further time induced confusion occur. ROUGH AND READY is a jocular tale that Ms Hill's fans will laugh about with the antics of displaced people while going over the hill and back.

The Scot, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Annette Blair
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425213463 $6.99 1-800-847-5515

In Salem, Massachusetts, Victoria Cartwright encouraged by her two recently married best friends finally opens the wardrobe that has been locked since before she was born when the family ancestor witch Lily Lockhart shut it. Allegedly, if she opens it, she will find her destiny inside. Victoria does and pulls out a beautifully carved unicorn, which makes her think of the man she dreamed she was kissing near a unicorn. In Caperglen, Scotland Rory the "hermit" Mackenzie watches TV in a pub. His family and the town have been cursed ever since his ancestor Drummond broke off his engagement with the witch Lily Lockhart. Legend has it when the unicorn returns to join the rest of the Immortal Classic zodiac carousel, prosperity will return to the town. To his shock, the woman he dreams of making love to is on Roadside Antiques showing off a unicorn that could be the missing one. Rory arrives and tells Victoria he carves wood figurines like her unicorn that he saw on TV and would like to see hers. He knows he must find a secret compartment to prove this was carved by Drummond. That night they erotically dream of one another. They discuss their dreams, which lead to them making love. However, as he falls in love, his mission is the unicorn not the witch. The paranormal elements are interwoven into this wonderful whimsical romance starring a delightful charming pair whose sexual innuendos add amusement to a fine tale. Her newly discovered stepsisters, the bewitching triplets, are a trip which just adds to the fun. Though Victoria is in too much denial over her witch powers, her weight, and love, readers will cherish this terrific romantic fantasy.

Awaiting the Night
Donna Lea Simpson
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425212858 $6.99 1-800-847-5515

Frightened Melisande Daviodvich hid behind the walls of Wolfram Castle, a virtual prisoner of her fears. For two years she found sanctuary there, but now the howling has begun. Melisande knows this is an omen that her safety will soon be no more. Count Kazimir Vasilov and Count Gavril Sevasjan arrive insisting her father the thief stole a legendary chalice that contains the elixir to cure an enigmatic illness. They demand she hand it over to her, but she believes her father when he insists he never took this priceless artifact. At least initially she accepts her dad's word, but as she finds herself attracted to the strange Kazimir and him to her, Melisande begins to doubt her relative as she starts to look deeper into Wolfram werewolf rumors. The danger towards her suddenly mounts, but she wonders by whom. AWAITING THE NIGHT, the sequel to AWAITING THE MOON, uses paranormal elements to add a unique delightful flavor to a fabulous gothic romance. The action-packed story line is fast-paced, but the relationship between Kazimir and Melisande makes the tale as she is not sure whether he wants her dead or in his bed. Donna Lea Simmons provides her growing fandom with a wonderful historical that is a one sitting read.

Becoming Americana
Lara Rios
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425211916 $14.00 1-800-847-5515

In Southern California, Lupe Perez has her feet in two worlds. She attends UCLA with aspirations of achieving the American dream; however, at night she returns home to impoverish East L.A. She hides her background including her incident with the cops. However, when she "rescues" Tracey, she suddenly has a new friend, who tells a reporter on the UCLA Bruin newspaper. Now everyone knows that Lupe has totally turned her life from a bad girl heading for trouble to a caring person who volunteers time to the community, works at a food court and attends college. Lupe wants her celebrity status to end faster than Warhol's allotted time for fame. However, Dr. Reyes wants Lupe to embrace her effort by writing a book size thesis on the Americanization of Mexican immigrants. Reluctantly she agrees though she is not sure what that means to her. Using the thesis as the prime device to tell Lupe's story of how she went from becoming the American nightmare to the dream, BECOMING AMERICANA is an interesting chick lit look at assimilation. Adding to the reality of Lupe's observation and tribulations is that at times she is not a nice person though for the most part she is. Though some of her actions seem out of kilter with her personality, Lara Rios provides a fascinating look at immigration from a perspective ignored by the beltway sound biters.

Fangs 4 Freaks
Serena Robar
Berkley Jam
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0424211959 $9.99 1-800-847-5515

Colby is a half vampire who has to use metal incisors made by her dentist-father to drink blood because her own teeth were harmed when she wore braces. Normally half-bloods are not allowed to live, but Colby persuaded the Vampire Tribunal that they deserved equal rights like full-bloods have and she will act as their Protector. At a PSU, sorority house run by Colby, half bloods taste freedom for the first time in their eternal lives. The teens under her watch are an interesting mix. For instance one is a Romany Princess; another wants to go back to being a vegan in spite of needing blood to survive. Colby's full blooded boyfriend Thomas, a vampiric investigator is too overprotective. when trouble occurs, she does not turn to him for help even when full bloods try to make a meal out of her wards. Colby fights them off; when she knows a mole is amidst them, Colby seeks to uncover the spy without alienating a doubting Thomas. Serena Rebar's vampire thrillers target teens, but adults will enjoy reading them too as they are simply fun tales. Colby is a fascinating protagonist who is cocky, loyal true to her beliefs, and yet can also prove vulnerable as she has concerns that she is not up to the task of being the protector of the half-bloods. FANGS 4 FREAKS is filled with action, romance, vampiric politics (that satirizes American sound bite issues) and teens; what more can one ask from a toothy thriller.

A Charmed Death
Madelyn Alt
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
042521317X $6.99 1-800-847-5515

The time Maggie O'Neill entered the store Enchantments and met the owner Felcity Dow, her worldview changed drastically. Felicity is a psychic and a witch and Maggie learns she is one too. That explains her hunches, feelings of empathy and the ability to see ghosts; her powers are growing stronger and more refined because Felicity is teaching her how to use them. She now works in Enhancements and one day she witnesses a fight between popular high school student Amanda Roberson and Tara Murphy, one of the most unliked teens at school. Amanda disappears that night; she is found in the river with a subsequent autopsy proving she was murdered. Maggie starts nosing around and finds that the secret blog that talks about the sexual exploits of a teen and her lovers were written by Maggie. She discovers pictures that Amanda hid in a gift that she bought at Enhancements and her mother returns to Maggie. When Maggie sees the picture, she figures out who the killer is but the murderer grabs her before she can go to the police and almost kills her. It will take the conscious use of her magic (which she never tried before) to get out of this situation alive. A CHARMED DEATH is a magical spellbinding mystery that enchants readers with its adorable heroine who has trouble coming to terms with the fact that she is psychic and can perform magic. Her asides are a breath of fresh air that relieves the tension when it threatens to overwhelm the audience. There is also a message in this tale that parents should watch over there teens to make sure they stay out of trouble and especially watch the warning signs.

Let There Be Suspects
Emilie Richards
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425213072 $6.99 1-800-847-5515

She is not the typical minister's wife as she was raised by a bohemian mother who kept her and her sisters moving from one show or Renaissance Fair to another. As a result of her childhood, Aggie Sloan-Wilcox and her two sisters are very tight with one another. With Christmas approaching, Aggie's siblings and their mother Janice are coming to the parsonage for the holidays. Everyone is shocked when Janice brings Ginger, the foster sister the others hate for her spitefulness when they were growing up together. The animosity is strong by the time Sid tosses Ginger into a punch bowl because as always Ginger makes a play for Sid's boyfriend kissing him. On Christmas Eve, Ginger's murdered body is found near the Nativity scene and Sid is the prime suspect. Aggie knows no one except Ginger's husband Cliff mourns her death. Using that assumption as a starting point, Aggie investigates the homicide because she believes Sid is innocent and plans to prove it by catching the culprit, who is willing to kill again. Emilie Richards, well known for her romance and women's fiction novels writes a fantastic amateur sleuth tale that excels in realistic characterizations. There are plenty of humorous scenes especially when the heroine's family arrives to disrupt domestic tranquility. The victim was so universally disliked everyone wanted her dead, but with an overabundance of possibilities Aggie has no problem with LET THERE BE SUSPECTS; only with who went so far as to commit homicide.

Bit the Jackpot
Erin McCarthy
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425212130 $14.00 1-800-847-5515

In Las Vegas where vampires and other paranormal species reside, the rarest species is Cara Kim, a virgin stripper. Over three centuries old Seamus Fox is the campaign manager for the reelection of Ethan Carrick as president of the Vampire Nation, but an ugly incident has brought Cara to his attention. Ethan's opponent Roberto Donatelli caused a fracas that left Cara's life in danger as he does not care what happens to the inferior mortals and she is collateral damage. Seamus converts Cara to save her life. However, he is shocked how attractive he is to her, but assumes she heats his blood because he has abstained from sex for two hundred years. On the other hand, Cara struggles with this alpha hunk ordering her and her five pets around though she would not mind taking a bite or two from him. As they fall in love, Roberto raises the stakes planning to use the new born conversion as a pawn to eliminate Seamus. Vampire romance readers will feel they BIT THE JACKPOT with this fun contemporary tale. The background contains a biting "political" campaign in which one side uses bloody tricks that would have sent Lee Atwater roving for a different job. Throw in Vegas and a likable pairing of an abstemious vampire and a newbie and that leads to a delightful read.

Prince of Ice
Emma Holly
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425212599 $7.99 1-800-847-5515

In Midarri, Xishu Huon is a quarter-breed, which means she is considered inferior by the Yama as that 25 percent is the lowly human. She was Prince Corum's friend when he was a young boy, but exiled to an orphanage once her tainted blood became known and her skill to somehow caused Corum to feel emotions, a taboo amongst the Yama. Years later Corum has not yet met his soulmate as his eyes remain non black; when the eyes turn, the Yama knows they have found their beloved. His royal parents worry for him so they encourage their offspring to accept a woman for his sexual pleasure and education. Corum has become known as the PRINCE OF ICE for obvious reasons, but he melts when he sees Xishu. As it becomes apparent that they are soulmates, adversaries continue Machiavellian plots to destroy the royals with Xishu their expendable pawn. PRINCE OF ICE is a fabulous erotic Demon World tale (humans call the Yama demons) that grips readers once Xishi and Corum meet as young adults and never slows down (even for sexual encounters). Readers will enjoy this paranormal gender changing Roman Holiday with strong intrigue undercurrent as the Prince and the tainted commoner fall in love.

Bad Girls Don't
Cathie Linz
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
042521284X $7.00 1-800-847-5515

In Rock Creek Skye Wright detests authority figures so when Sheriff Nathan "Studley Do-Right" Thornton stops her for speeding she acts nasty towards him. He takes her in when she fails to produce the proper paperwork. The belly dancer takes this as an affront and that Nathan flaunted his authority. In her mind he initiated an act of hostility towards her that she plans to insure he will regret, which he does even before they reach the station as protestors wanting the belly dancing mommy go arrive too. Nathan is attracted to the wild woman though he does not want to care as he never moved past a personal tragedy involving his Annie. Adding to his discomfit is that he likes her four year old daughter although she is an apprentice bad girl too. Between the two Wright females, Nathan wonders what is right about his life if he lets them go. Skye, to her shock, feels the same way about the straightest person she ever met, but she believes her Studley still has Annie exclusively inside his heart. One thing is for sure Cathie Linz makes a case that opposites attract with this lighthearted contemporary romance starring two likable individuals who see life 180 degrees apart. The lead couple is a fun pairing though their conflict is minimal while the return of the eccentrics from GOOD GIRLS DO adds to the overall humor of the tale.

Julia Ross
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425211975 $14.00 1-800-847-5515

In 1829 England, Sarah Calloway worries that a rejected suitor has abducted her cousin Rachel. She has no one to turn to for help except perhaps Guy Devoran, a man her cousin mentioned in a letter to her as a kind caring person. Desperate and worried, Sarah clandestinely observes Guy at various galas before finally asking him to find and rescue Rachel. Guy cannot fathom why the young widow selected him, but admires her courage and loyalty. He agrees to investigate what happened to Sarah though he thinks she hides something from him. He knows he has not told her the entire truth of why he acquiesces to make inquiries. As they journey through the world of the Ton and the underworld of smugglers, they fall in love, but both must reveal their deepest darkest secrets if they want to make a permanent match and save Sarah. This is a terrific Regency romantic suspense thriller as the rescuers fall in love while not totally trusting their beloved as each believes the other hides something critical from them. The action-packed story line moves rather quickly yet the prime players are fully developed. Julia Ross proves the sub-genre is alive and well.

Texas Rain
Jodie Thomas
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425212793 $7.99 1-800-847-5515

In 1854, needing R&R, Texas Ranger Travis McMurray comes home to the family owned Whispering Mountain Ranch in the Hill Country. At a barn dance, a woman brazenly kisses Travis before stealing his horse. Rainey Adams feels guilty for taking the hunk's steed, but felt she had no choice. She needed to escape her father's plans to marry her to any rogue with some money so his horse was her freedom. She writes letters to Travis apologizing for her action. When he is severely hurt in an ambush and suffering from a fever, he turns to her letters for solace as he heals. When he realizes the woman of the letters that he now loves is in danger, he goes to her rescue though not he is not fully recuperated as he needs his "angel" as his bride; but it is his past that returns with a vengeance that endangers both of them. Jodie "Texas" Thomas writes another strong Lone Star western romance due to a wonderful Ranger and a courageous heroine who risks all for her freedom and then her beloved. The story line is driven by these two protagonists though his brothers and sister, the bad guys, and the rugged Hill country ably supplement the daring duo. No one writes nineteenth century Texas tales better than Ms. Thomas does (see the McClain saga).

Lady of the Light
Donna Gillespie
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425212688 $15.00 1-800-847-5515

By 105 CE, years have passed since Germanic Chattian tribe "princess" Auriane was taken prisoner by the Romans and survived as a gladiator, before meeting and marrying Marcus Arrius Julianus (see THE LIGHT BEARER). They live a comfortable life with their two offspring Avenahar and Arria Juliana in the Germania Superior province. However over the years together, Auriane has funded the Chattian resistance movement by stealing from her wealthy husband. Now her tribesmen plead with her to return home to lead them in war against another Germanic tribe, the Cheruscans. She wants to, but decides not to; however, her seditious activity is uncovered and Auriane goes on trial and is convicted for acts of treason at the same time her teenage daughter Avenahar, who learns she is not of Marcus' seed, joins the Chattian resistance and a political adversary abducts their other daughter. This is an exciting historical fiction that continues the saga of Auriane and sets up the next warrior woman generation Avenahar for a future tale. The tale is filled with action while also bringing to light life on a frontier province of the Roman Empire. However, the LADY OF THE LIGHT predominantly is owned by the larger than life heroine who must choose between the love and loyalty to her family especially her spouse or her heritage.

Sleeping with Fishes
MaryJanice Davidson
Jove Books
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0515142220 $7.99 1-800-847-5515

Twenty-nine year old marine biologist Dr. Fredrika "Fred" Bell knows her dad is not her biological father as she is a mermaid and her dad cannot swim; her mom says a mer-man bonked her. At work at the New England Aquarium, Fred's boss Dr. Barbara Robinson introduces her to the new water man, Dr. Thomas Pearson, who shocks her when he notices her hair is green as most people say it is blue. Of course Fred has not dated in six years so finding true love seems impossible. Fred mentions the water man to her friend Jonas, the only human besides her parents who knows she is a mermaid; he insists she is in love. Thomas tells Dr. Barb and Fred that there is a high level of toxin in the ocean, which he traces back to Boston Harbor. Not long afterward High Prince Artur tells Fred his father, the king of the sea-folks, needs her help with the poison in the ocean. Artur has the hots for Fred and steals a kiss. Thomas sees Fred in a fish tank where the water brings out her tail. He knows she is a mermaid and kisses her as she leaves the water. From no lovers, Fred has two wannabe lovers while Jonas has the hots for Barb. However, first they must deal with the poisoned ocean. SLEEPING WITH FISHES is a zany amusing fantasy as MaryJanice Davidson provides her trademark wacky fun tale of the tail. The story line focuses on Fred with a strong support cast bringing out the best and worst in her while making the "undersea-folks" seem genuine. Readers will enjoy this delightful whimsical story as readers will wonder whether the human or the sea-prince will get Fred as the trio tries to resolve the question of that dirty water, Boston is her hometown.

Conspiracy Game
Christine Feehan
Jove Books
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0515142166 $7.99 1-800-847-5515

Twins Jack and Ken Norton share a psychic skill that enables each to protect the other especially since they work for the military. When Ken is captured by the enemy, Jack keeps in contact with his sibling and leads the recovery effort. However, he is caught too, but manages to escape his incarceration, but still must find a way out of Kinshasa in the middle of the Republic of Congo. Jack senses another GhostWalker nearby, but is shocked that this person is a female. Briony Jenkins sense Jack too as she travels with her four adopted brothers in their family circus. Her emphatic skills have always led to her suffering from the pain of others, but when she meets Jack she feels something different for the first time. She helps him escape, but not before they make love; leaving her pregnant and vulnerable to an evil foe who wants top control mother and unborn. The fourth "Game" thriller is an exhilarating tale that showcases why Christine Feehan is one of the best authors writing paranormal romances in the twenty-first century. The lead couple struggle to survive both falling in love and a malevolent adversary with powerful connections. Neither trusts anyone beyond their respective siblings, but to endure they must have faith in the other though meeting a GhostWalker of the opposite sex is a shocker. Ms. Feehan has Game with her latest winner.

Rain Village
Carolyn Turgeon
Unbridled Books
2000 Wadsworth Boulevard, #195, Lakewood, CO 80214
1932961240 $24.95 1-888-732-3822

In Oakley, Kansas, tiny twelve years old Tessa Riley is so small she is unable to help her parents or her three normal siblings with the farm. In fact her mother insists that Tessa do one job, stretching exercises so that she would grow to a normal size and no longer be a freak. Tessa feels all alone as everyone in the community and her family following the leads of her abusive father and bible quoting mother treat her like a pathetic sideshow reject. The new librarian Mary Finn has all the townsfolk hopping as she enchantsthe men with her beauty and the women with envy. Mary especially takes a liking to diminutive Tessa telling her tales from her days as the flying Marionetta with the Velasquez Circus. She teaches the child to read and tells her enchanting tales about the residents of Rain Village. Tessa uses the stories to hide her hurt from the scorn of all (except Mary who encourages her) and the sexual assaults of her father. When Mary apparently commits suicide, a distraught now sixteen years old Tessa flees to Kansas City where she joins the circus and marries flyer Mauro Ramirez until her late mentor's nephew Costas arrives and tells her he is going to Rain Village. Though the ending is unwisely rushed, RAIN VILLAGE has a Brigadoon like feel to the wonderful historical tale. Tessa may be short, but she holds the coming of age tale together as she is a fully developed character whether she is preadolescent, teenager, or adult. Mary is more mystical in nature (like her village and the circus) adding to the overall enchantment. Carolyn Turgeon provides a fine early twentieth century character study that brings out a more isolated era.

Echo Park
Michael Connelly
Little, Brown Books
0316734950 $26.99

When Harry Bosch retired from LAPD, one cold case haunted him. In 1993, twenty-two years old equestrian, Marie Gesto vanished; the assumption being she was kidnapped; ten days after her disappearance, her car containing clean folded clothing inside was found in an apartment building garage with no trace of her; the case went cold. Harry has returned to LAPD having joined the Open-Unsolved Unit that brings back on duty former cops to work cold cases. Harry remains preoccupied with the Gesto disappearance and still believes that Anthony Garland, the son of an influential oilman, killed the young woman though he could never prove it. When the cops bust window cleaner Raynard Waits driving a vehicle carrying the body parts of two people he killed, he confesses to other murders including that of Gesto. Homicide Detective Freddy Olivas and prosecutor Rick O'Shea buy the confession as Waits knows things only the killer could know about the Gesto homicide; Harry feels otherwise that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts especially one odd entry in the case log from thirteen years ago that he swears was not there until a few days ago. Michael Connelly is at his best with this exhilarating Bosh thriller that grips the audience from the moment that Waits confesses and never slows down until the final not obvious twist. The story line is action-packed and loaded with in fighting as Bosh does not trust the ethics of Olivas or O'Shea. Fans will appreciate this superior police procedural, one of the best of the year.

Blue Taxi
N.S. Keonings
Little, Brown
0316010618 $23.95

In Vunjamguu East Africa, a drunk driver hits a young boy. Raised in a mission hospital, Belgium expatriate Sarie Turner tries to stop the child's bleeding with a tourniquet while her daughter Agatha holds the lad's severed leg. Everyone in the small town is shocked by the tragedy, but especially stunned is Sarie, who feels like an outsider with the locals and especially with her British husband Gilbert and his social climbing peers. Sarie feels a need to visit the injured child Tahir recuperating in the hospital. So in spite of Gilbert demanding she should not, she and Agatha visit the lad. There Sarie meets his distressed father, the widower Majid Jeevanjee. Though he is a Muslim, Majid and Sarie find a kindred spirit in one another and she soon seduces him while Gilbert panics that his "sponsor" Uncle James will abandon him without a pound so he tries to persuade Majid to forge a business partnership. THE BLUE TAXI is a historical look back to the 1970s when many African nations were struggling between an affluent decadent colonial upper class and the vast impoverished natives. The story line cleverly uses its characters to represent differing, often in conflict, groups. Though more a cerebral tale with little action, fans who enjoy a fascinating historical with a deep symbolic cast will want to read THE BLUE TAXI.

The Crimson Portrait
Jody Shields
Little, Brown
0316785288 $23.99

In 1915, though grieving the death of her spouse Charles in the combat on the continent, widow Catherine completed his dream by converting their massive estate just outside London into a military hospital that specializes in facial injuries, a discipline with little known knowledge. However, Catherine keeps to herself unable to meet with the doctors, the staff, or the patients. In spite of the friendliness of the person in charge Dr. McCleary and other staffers, Catherine avoids everyone. That is until a patient wearing a mask Julian begins to force her to move past her grief. She begins to see Julian a mapmaker and decides he is perfect for her especially if Dr. McCleary can reconstruct Julian's visage to look like Charles' face. THE CRIMSON PORTRAIT is a fascinating historical fiction novel that brings to life post combat medicine and its link to portrait painting especially facial reconstructive surgery during its early days. The characters drive this superb tale especially of a doctor, a reclusive female patron, and a patient as each seems real bringing to life the horrors of war in 1915 England. Reactions to Julian by other people add to the feel of a terrific war drama in which the fighting is elsewhere, but the results are summed up in this country home.

Heat Signature
Lisa Teasley
Bloomberg Press
731 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10022
1596911018 $14.95

Over a decade has past since thirty one years old half Native American Sam Brown's African-American mother July was raped, tortured, and murdered. He never fully recovered from the trauma though his stepfather pipe fitter Joe Braxton has tried to help him move on as they share a home in Twenty-Nine Palms, California. Sam becomes upset to learn that July's killer is being paroled. Taking leave from his nursing job at the nearby marine base, Sam begins a trek up the Pacific coast where he finds women for short affairs but even he is not sure what he seeks. As he continues towards Oregon, he thinks back to that horrid day when his mom was murdered and his beginning to know the darkness will never fully leave him, but that with good people especially a caring woman one can move on just like Joe hopes and prays for him. This is a psychological drama starring an individual who years after his mother's tragic death remains traumatized by the atrocity. Sam is human, as his worst nightmare becomes real again when his mom's rapist-killer is freed. His journey up the coast is one of personal searching and solace; women he meets help him to understand that you never forget nor you never stop loving, but you must keep on living; that is the best way to honor one's deceased loved ones. Lisa Teasley provides a deep insightful character study.

The Accomplice
Elizabeth Ironside
Felony & Mayhem
156 Waverly Place, New York, NY 10023 USA
1933397500 $24.00

In Broad Woodham, England under the roses of Asshe House, as elderly Jean Loftus after four plus decades living there moves out so her stepson and his family can move in, the bony remains of a child are found by workers. Detective Superintendent Stevens assumes the bones belong to a young boy who vanished without a trace three decades ago. Jean wonders if the connection goes further east to her homeland Soviet Russia where she was born Yevgenia Konstantinovna Chornorouskya, but decides to do nothing except move on. However, a Russian teenager Xenia has brought back other unpleasant memories of her fatherland that Yevgenia would prefer to forget. Her best friend, attorney Zita Daunsey tries to help Jean cope though not understanding of what, but also decides to investigate what happened to the dead child as well as her pal's mysterious past; that is she makes inquiries in between attending tea parties and caring for her disabled son Tom with the help of "nurse" Lynne. This is as much a garden tea party as a mystery. THE ACCOMPLICE is an odd somewhat fascinating English cozy that draws readers into the storyline. The more appealing character is Zita, whose life is tediously filled with responsibility as all revolves around Tom so a wee mystery adds spice though she seems to know more than she lets on. Readers will skip the tea segues, but want to learn more about just who Jean is, why she hid her identity four decades ago and how does the deceased child tie back to her in this English modern manners mystery.

Note from a Spinning Planet – Ireland
Melody Carlson
WaterBrook Press
c/o Random House Trade Group Publicity
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
1400071445 $12.99 1-800-726-0600

Madison Chase spent her first nineteen years of life on a farm so she is naive about the world. Thus when her Aunt Sid, a reporter investigating Catholic-Protestant peace camps, invites her to tour Ireland with her, she accepts with trepidation that her lack of sophistication will show especially to her worship exciting relative. On the trek, the godson of her aunt Ryan McIntire accompanies them. Melody is attracted to him from the start especially romanticizing his family's deep involvement with the IRA. However, as Madison places her aunt and Ryan on a pedestal, she begins to see cracks in their armor though her adulation could prove dangerous for one and all when she follows in Sid's footsteps by investigating what happened four years ago when a bomb killed Ryan's dad because someone wants the truth to remain buried. Fans will believe that they are accompanying Aunt Sid on her trek through Ireland as Melody Carson paints a vivid background that has the senses activated. The story targets a young adult audience, but all readers will appreciate this coming of age story as the young heroine begins to see the flaws in her aunt and Ryan, but humanizing them makes her love for them so much more. The intrigue involving the death of Ryan's dad augments a novel from a spinning planet – Ireland.

The Nightwalkers: Jacob
Jacquelyn Frank
Zebra Books
0821780654 $6.99

Demons exist in the world, but they look like humans though they have their own culture, values and laws. They to do no harm to humans but when the moon madness strike them Jacob, the millennia old Enforcer, will punish them. When a demon is summoned by a necromancer he is transformed into a monster, forced to do its master's bidding. Jacob's job also entails finding the transformed demon and killing it. After hundreds of years, a demon has been summoned and Jacob is tracking him. While performing his job he saves the life of Isabella who accidentally falls out of the window. She smells sulfur and is on the trail of the demon who was transformed. When they get to the warehouse, Jacob battles the necromancer while Isabella fights and kills the transformed demon; a feat no mortal should be able to do. He takes her to the demon king's house and Jacob realizes he wants Isabella as she does him but it is against the laws he was sworn to protect. As time passes Isabelle manifests more powers and through research it is learned that when she came in contact with Jacob she started to change into something other than mortal, a being who can help and save the demon race. Jacquelyn Frank has written a fascinating work of urban fantasy. She does for demons what Laurell K. Hamilton did for vampires. Demons are not hell spawn but are an intelligent, beautiful society that wishes no harm to humans. Jacob, alone and feared all his life, is fated to love what Isabelle has become. Demon society will never be the same with the admission of Isabelle into their ranks. This author will quickly become a fan favorite.

Sugar and Spice
Fern Michaels, Beverly Barton, Joanne Fluke & Shirley Jump
0821780476 $7.99

"The Christmas Stocking" by Fern Michaels. His dad, disappointed that Gus preferred building houses in Los Angeles than work with him on the family Christmas tree farm, has retired. Now Gus is feeling sad and wants to make amends because he knows he could have come up every year to help for a few weeks. He needs to save the farm while in Philadelphia businesswoman Amy wants to raise money for a senior citizen's center decides to sell Christmas trees. These two collide and learn the meaning of Christmas. "The Ghost of Christmas Past" by Beverly Barton. On the snowy mountain road past Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Katie loses control of the Mustang and crashes. She is okay but stranded until Mack happens to see her. He takes her to his cabin where their feelings on marriage surface even as they begin to fall in love. "The Twelve Desserts of Christmas" by Joanne Fluke. Julie and Matt spend the holiday season at a Minnesota boarding school where they supervise six children not going home for Christmas as neither is married so has limited if any Yuletide obligations. As amateur sleuth bakery owner Hannah Swenssen provides baked goods, the duo supervises the three girls and three boys even as they fall in love. "Twelve Days" by Shirley Jump. Shy account manager Natalie loves her boss Jake, who sees her only as a valuable employee. When she draws his name in the office Secret Santa event, she decides to go serendipitously spicy just not in person. Jake needs to know who, but when he does will he fire or kiss Natalie. More sugar than spice, these are four fun Christmas romances.

A Thief in a Kilt
Sandy Blair
0821779966 $5.99

In 1411 tutor Kate Templeton remains loyal to her former student Scottish King James I incarcerated in the Tower of London. She wants to help the monarch gain his freedom, but wonders why his lords have made no effort to get him released from his five year imprisonment. Able to foresee, Kate decides to go undercover as the widow of a late Scottish laird to learn what she can in London and then in Scotland. Kate heads to Stirling Castle in Scotland to obtain information, but she quickly learns to avoid the "Thief of Hearts," Ian MacKay, agent of the Regent Albany, who wants James to remain locked away so that he can continue to use his regal power and influence. When Ian and Kate meet, they are attracted strongly to one another, but mistrust each other as they assume their beloved works for the enemy; neither realizes that both are undercover trying to restore James to the throne. The third "Kilt" Scottish historical romantic intrigue (see A MAN IN KILT and A ROGUE IN KILT) is an exciting romance starring two likable characters whose covert activity makes them suspicious so that each thinks the other is a beloved enemy. The story line is fast-paced, filled with a deep sense of time and place due to the Scottish vernacular and historical depth though the brogue can become irritating. Still this is a superb fifteenth century political romantic thriller that sub-genre fans will enjoy once the lead couple set off sparks of love and suspicions.

Elizabeth Bump
Treble Heart Books
1284 Overlook Dr., Sierra Vista, AZ 85635
1931742693 $7.75

Michelle Anderson just graduated from college and accepted a position at Carlisle Bookkeeping in Chicago. Before she starts, Michelle receives an odd phone call warning her to mind her business. At the office, no one leaves their cubicle to say hello nor is she introduced to anyone except her immediate supervisor Mr. Jacobs. Adding to her shock is that no one seems to leave their cubicle for lunch. She receives a note from a woman two cubicles in front of her, who offers to meet her after work at a nearby coffees hop. There Sandy Torrey introduces herself, but warns Michelle to make no friends at the office as one woman Joanne Marley vanished after opening her mouth. They agree to meet again in a few days, but not to the point of anyone becoming suspicious of their behavior. While shopping for brooms, Michelle meets Randy who she sees again at a church class. They begin to see one another while Michelle receives strange papers involving the missing Joanne that she takes to Chicago Police Department Sergeant Lansky. However, someone knows Michelle talked to the police and that person plans to take care of the nosy busybody. This suspense thriller feels like a Twilight Zone tale as the audience wonder if Carlisle Bookkeeping employs the Stepford Wives in a sweat shop environs. As Michelle falls in love with Randy, she becomes the target of someone trusting she will have the courage to expose her firm and in turn an individual who will do anything including kill to keep secrets buried. Though why there is not a mass quitting due to the working conditions is never explained, Elizabeth Bump keeps her audience guessing as the suspense grows in this exhilarating one sitting read.

The Cure for the Curse
Patrick Vaughn
Treble Heart
1932695419 $11.50

In the middle of the night the Dennisons abruptly move from Washington State to Bascomville, a desert community in Arizona, because her mom was "seen" by the bad people when she could not resist the blood that flowed from a bad car accident. Their high school age daughter Warrenna rotates between outrage and shock as she cannot grasp without warning or even a goodbye to her friends the uprooting of her life. However, they explain to their stunned offspring that the three of them are vampires who have never hunted for human prey, but instead hunt their own kind who see Homo sapiens as a food source. Teenage Thomas Gelbaugh attends the same high school in Arizona as the new kid, the aloof Renna. He is drawn to her though he is not sure why especially since she makes him sad and cry. Renna warns Thomas to stay away from her, but he cannot help himself until he figures out she is a vampire. Not only is he okay with that, Thomas wants to keep her safe from hunters who group all vampires as abominations from hell who must die. Though obviously a vampire thriller, A CURE FOR THE CURSE is also a delightful teen tale as Warrenna worries about making new friends and other teenage angst while also worrying about being a vampiric offspring. Whereas Thomas is too easily accepting of Renna's delicate condition, young adult readers will appreciate his courage and loyalty as he stands by his friend against some monstrous vampires and nasty human hunters. This is a creative entertaining "coming of age" tale with a biting twist.

Surrogate Evil
David and Aimee Thurlo
Forge Books
0765316153 $24.95

One of the advantages of being a half-vampire working for the New Mexico State Police is that Lee Nez's powers make it easier for him to work a case. Lee and his sometimes partner FBI special agent Diana Lopez are able to solve a case quicker with less danger to civilians. After busting men on various charges that are connected to a senator, Lee and Diane are advised to get out of the area for a while. They are assigned to take down Newton Glover a man who has intimidated the East Mountain area and is suspected of various crimes. It is believed he has authorities in various agencies working for him so Lee and Diana move into the trailer across the way from his pretending to be tough criminals. When Lee sees him watching them through surveillance, he breaks the man's windshield in the hope that Newton will try to get even and they will have something to arrest him on. They are also investigating the disappearances of ten year old Tim Klein who Grover might have kidnapped. When Newton tries to kill Lee, with Diane as a witness, Newton knows he will have to murder both of them before they can get obtain evidence to put him away. The Latest Lee Nez combination horror mystery police procedural is a reading experience on the wild side with so many adrenaline inducing scenes that readers will feel thoroughly spoiled. The Thurlos have a take on the vampire mythos based on Navaho legends and myths and Lee is so unlike Bram Stoker's Dracula that the two characters don't resemble each other in the slightest. Lee is one hero who makes his life and his to keep the area he patrols safe. Diana, who knows what Lee is, loves him because he is a good man who works for the good of society.

Karna Small Bodman
0765315424 $24.95

At Bandaq Technologies, Cameron "Cammy" Talbot leads a team of brilliant technocrats in developing the ultimate missile defense program. She and her crew ignore the Star Wars initiative of shooting the projectile out of the sky. Instead they concentrate on a program that takes control of an incoming missile's guidance system in order to reverse it; hitting the initiator. Due to unsavory lobbying her program is in jeopardy as Congress considers moving funding to a rival firm supporting the Star Wars initiative. Still as Cammy and cohorts make major progress, Muslims steal three Pakistani cruise missiles, firing one at India. This terrorist group intends to take over Kashmir as they expect India to reciprocate leading to an all out war with nukes between India and Pakistan. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Hunt Daniels meets Cammy when someone tries to kill her. They each feel a strong attraction to one another while someone wants her new technology stopped before completion with her dead before it can be used to prevent a deadly nuclear war. The premise of this tale is superb, but Karna Small Bodman is unable to decide between a romantic suspense and a nuclear countdown thriller; the reader gets some of both, but the sum of the parts does not quite make a cohesive whole. Still the story line is fun to follow as Cammy races against time to prove her concept works even as she ponders whether Hunt is the hunk who makes her feel complete. Congress seems realistic as money speaks in spite of the cost to the world. Overall this is a fine novel that will please fans of final countdowns to pending disaster with a romantic subplot weaved into the last digits.

The Last Secret
Lynn Sholes & Joe Moore
Midnight Ink
2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN, 55125-2989 551255-2989
073870931X $14.95

The Fallen Ones, the angels who sided with Lucifer are called Nephilim and they were ordered to walk the earth with men and never again know Paradise. One of the fallen repented of his sins and was made human. God gave him two daughters, one who take his place in heaven and one to do God's work on Earth. Her name is Cotten Stone and until three years ago the reporter knew nothing about her heritage. The Nephilim have done much to discredit her so it is hard for her to get a job. In Peru, an out of the way ancient city is found by a team of archeologists. A crystal tablet is found there warning of the cleansing of the earth by water and how to make the Ark. The second half of the tablet describes the second cleansing, the end of days and how it will be led by the daughter of an angel. A horde of demons take the tablet away because the Nephilim want the end of days to come and mankind destroyed. An earthquake in New Mexico leads the Nephilim to another tablet, beating out Cotten and her ally who want to decipher what her role is to be in the end times. The Nephilim know about Cotten and that she is the one person who can threaten their plans. They do all in their power to stop her from finding the last tablet, short of killing her because the Nephilin are forbidden to do that. Lynn Sholes and Joe Moore write some of the best apocalyptical thrillers on the market today. Cotten Stone is a heroine who though she would rather be ordinary accepts her role in the world. The forces of malevolence that surround her are evil with a capital E, Satan's followers who look and pass for human. There is a lot of action in this superb thriller but it is the protagonist and the antagonist who make this a work to remember. This is a work that definitely is going on this reviewer's keeper shelf.

Jane and the Barque of Frailty
Stephanie Barron
Bantam Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0553802267 $24.60 1-800-726-0600

In 1811, Jane Austen is staying with her brother and his wife Eliza because her sibling is helping her get her first book published Sense and Sensibility. They are at the theatre when Jane notices the Russian Princess Evgenia Tshoikova staring at Lord Castlereagh throughout the show. The next day she reads in the newspaper that the princess was found murdered, her throat cut, on Lord Castlereagh's steps. Eliza's friend the Comtesse d'Entraigues whose husband is divorcing her to marry a Cyprian asks her to sell her jewels. Eliza convinces Jane to pretend to pretend to own the jewels to fool jewelry buyey Mr. Rundell, so the Comtesse will not be embarrassed. Rundell keep the jewels to appraise the and the next thing they know, Jane and Eliza are accused of stealing the Russian Princess's jewels, who they really belong to, and killed her to get them. Jane convinces the Bow Street Runners to free them so they can find the killer so that justice will be served and the real murderer will be imprisoned. Stephanie Barron has written an exciting Regency historical mystery that gives the reader a glimpse of the dark side of the ton. From nobles to politicians, people will obfuscate the truth to hide their own peccadilloes. Jane dives into the investigation to prove her innocence and to spare her sister in law and brother any trauma. Historical mystery readers will love this tale.

Iris Johansen
Bantam Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
055380345X $26.00 1-800-726-0600

Forensic Sculptor Eve Duncan takes the skeleton and though science and intuition puts a face to it giving the authorities the possibility of identifying who it is. At present she is working on the sculptor of an eight year old boy but Luis Montalvo calls her from his compound in Columbia wanting her to do a reconstruction on a skull that will be in his possession. She refuses because he is an arms dealer but he offers her a devil's bargain she is unable to resist. He will identify the skull of the child she is working on and find his killer but he will also help find her daughter Bonnie's remains and also aid her in locating Bonnie's killer. Unable to refuse a chance to find and bury her daughter, she flies to Columbia. Montalvo tells her he must dig up the skull buried near the compound of the man who killed her. Diaz, a drug lord who pretends to support the rebels and their leader General Armandariz who is the father of Montalvo's wife, wants to stop them before the general finds out the truth. The General believes she is living the good life in Australia thanks to Diaz's lies but Montalvo wants to prove that Diaz killed the general's daughter so they can work together to take their enemy out. However Eve's lover Joe is injured kidnapped and in danger of getting killed unless she follows Diaz's instructions. The latest Eve Duncan thriller is the best work in this enthralling long running action packed series. The author finds some interesting ways to keep the storyline fresh and a few of them will shock the reader. Although Montalvo is the antagonist, he is a sympathetic character, a weapons dealer with a soul who uses minimum violence to achieve his ends. The audience will be shocked to find they like him and they will hope he finds the peace that has eluded him ever since his wife died.

Brother Odd
Dean Koontz
Bantam Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0553804804 $27.00 1-800-726-0600

There are those who see spirits but Odd Thomas does more than just look at them; without speaking they communicate with him with some demanding justice while others simply seek companionship and comfort. This is a heavy burden for a twenty-one year old man who has been through so many traumas in his life. He retreats to St. Bartholomew's Abbey for some needed rest. He relaxes for a few months until a bodach, a dark creature anticipating large scale deaths arrives. This disturbs Odd because there are many mentally and physically challenged children who reside there. He informs the Abbott and Mother Superior what he sees and they believe him because people from his home town whose lives he has touched vouch for his trustworthiness. Odd originally came to the abbey because there was only one ghost there, a monk who supposedly committed suicide. Now a monk disappears, but Odd sees the body before Death claims it. There are creatures made of bones and joints causing chaos at the abbey while more bodach appears; biblical catastrophe apparently is coming to St. Bartholomew's Abbey. Odd is one of the best characters that Dean Koontz has created in his illustrious writing career, He is vulnerable, innocent, and accepting of the supernatural as being natural; though he fears much of what he encounters, he courageously never flees from anyone (living or dead) in trouble. There is plenty of action as the support cast from both sides of the aisle makes the tale work as readers ponder just who the monster is. Mr. Koontz latest odd job showcases his extraordinary talent to provide strong suspense with a thought provoking plot.

Trap Door
Sarah Graves
Bantam Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway,New York, NY 10036
0553804294 $22.00 1-800-726-0600

In Eastport, Maine, former mob money manager Jacobia "Jake" Tiptree renovates her early nineteenth century fixer upper even as her late ex-husband Victor haunts her home and her. However, the ghost, the house, and her son Sam are the least of Jake's problems. Instead her concern deals with her friend Jemmy Wechsler. Apparently, professional hit men, including local killer Walter Henderson, want him dead. The lad dating Walter's teenage daughter Jen has vanished without a trace. Jake and her friend Ellie White visit the home of the hired gun's home where they find a gruesome corpse in Walter's barn. Though the clues target Walter, Jake knows the guy is a pro and would never leave evidence lying around; she plans to obtain the truth while pleading with the paid assassin not to kill Jemmy. This is a terrific "A Home Repair Is Homicide Mystery" that will elate long time fans of Jake and bring in new rooters seeking her backlist. Jake is in top form getting into trouble while unable to mind her business because is some ways Ellie discourages her to stay out of things, which encourages her to get involved and bring her friend with her. Victor is simply Victor, as long time fans will understand. Readers will enjoy this fun paranormal New England cozy.

Testing Kate
Whitney Gaskell
Bantam Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0553383140 $12.00 1-800-726-0600

When she was attending college, Kate Bennett became an orphan. To survive her grief, she accepts a job and a boyfriend, neither of which truly turn her on. A few years later as she nears thirty, Kate decides it is time to take a three meter dive into life. She quits her job, ends her relationship with nice Graham, and treks from Ithaca, New York to attend law school at Tulane University. On the travel south, she has a problem that makes her miss orientation and is totally unprepared for martinet Professor Hoffman's criminal law class, who tears into her shaky psyche. Kate joins a study group consisting of beautiful brilliant Lexi; kind hearted Jen; inane Addison; teen Dana; and hunk Nick. However Hoffman continues to terrorize her making her first semester more difficult than necessary. The nasty Prof also gets his brand of ugliness aimed at her and her friends with a second semester class. Meanwhile as Kate copes with Professor maliciousness and finds Nick attractive, she tries to help her friends like Dana who attempts suicide and Jen whose secret keeps her from sharing how much she loves Addison. TESTING KATE is an intriguing coming of age tale starring a young woman trying to finally finding herself at law school. Kate and her group are fine characters struggling at law school and with life as the audience will want to know what happens to them. Though Hoffman is a caricature of the ugly professor as he is too extreme even for a despotic professor, readers will enjoy the inevitable confrontation between him and Kate in this fine pre-Katrina contemporary.

This Forsaken Earth
Paul Kearney
Bantam Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0553383639 $12.00 1-800-726-0600

Half human and rumored half-deity Rol Cortishane finds a home at sea on his black kassic man of war vessel the Revenant. There the privateer ruthlessly patrols the waters by the pirate cove, Ganesh Ka of Umer. Any Bionari Empire ships that venture in the vicinity is destroyed and their treasures become the booty of him and his crew. However, his harmonious sea life ends when an adversary from his salad days, the King of Thieves Canker, visits Rol with news and a request. Rol prefers either to ignore or feed Canker to the fish, but he knows he cannot as his past that he prefers buried has surfaced. The woman he lusted after, the assassin Rowen, sent her strange bedfellow ally to obtain Rol's support as she militarily backs her claim of Empress of the Bionari Empire. Feeling marked by fate, Rol leaves his beloved sea to go inland to assist Rowen. Few fantasy writers since Gulliver's fourth journey (to the land of Houyhnhnms) can depict the insanity of choosing war as the best option as well as Paul Kearney does in his Sea Beggers' tales (see THE MARK OF RAN). The action-packed story line grips readers even before Canker's request sends Rol on a landlubber adventure and never slows down while Rol and Rowen stir up the empire until the final climax. The battles at sea are incredible (on land they well written but not as magnificent) Readers will appreciate this sword and sorcery thriller and look forward to more tales of yore from Mr. Kearney.

Elizabeth Bear
Bantam Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0553589040 $6.99,1-800-726-0600

Their last diplomatic assignment together ended disastrously so their superiors split up the lovers. However, the Old Earth Colonial Coalition has run into a unique problem as they negotiate with the planet New Amazonia. On Old Earth, women perform menial tasks and are subservient to men; no female has ever served as an ambassador. On New Amazonia, women run everything with men working as drones or staying home breeding. To succeed the Old Earth leaders decide they need to send a low count of testosterone of gentle souls so they choose the former lovers, Vincent Katherinessen and Michelangelo Kusanagi-Jones to open negotiations with the Amazons; no one else is remotely acceptable To enable them to start off on the right foot, Vincent and Michelangelo bring with them art stolen from the planet. However, their mission is not to broker a peace and trade agreement, but to steal the secrets behind the source of the powerful energy that runs New Amazonia. While CARNIVAL provides a festive time on the planet, neither the Amazons or the earthlings can comprehend that though Vincent and Michelangelo appear as gentle lovers, they are not afraid to initiate their own agenda. This is an excellent science fiction that uses sexual preference stereotypes as a means to polarize two societies in which neither are capable of understanding the courage and competency of the two "gentle" albeit gay men. Both worlds seem genuine even with the patriarchal vs. matriarchal differences. The two heroes take advantage of the bias on their homeworld and on Amazon. Elizabeth Bear provides an exciting outer space thriller with a deep message that extreme isms mean lose-lose for the victims and the perpetrators.

Willow Field
William Kitteredge
Knopf Books
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
1400040973 $5.95 1-800-726-0600

In the 1930s, fifteen year old Rossie Benasco, son of the pit boss at the Riverside Casino in Reno, obtains work as a "wrango boy" at the Neversweat Ranch owned by retired rodeo star Slivers Flynn. He and his employer's daughter Mattie are attracted to one another so Slivers offers Rossie a choice. He can herd several hundred horses through Idaho and Montana to Calgary or he can marry Mattie and raise a horde of kids. Not ready for children, Rossie agrees to hit the trail. At the end of the thousand mile journey, Rossie meets and falls in love with pregnant Scottish Eliza Stevenson. Her dad gives Rossie his Montana farm as a wedding present and soon she gives birth to a son that he adopts as his. The years go by, Rossie runs the farm and he and Eliza adopt a daughter. In December 1941 he enlists in the Marines, but is shot at home station and becomes a supply clerk. The years move on and so have their children William Kitteredge is at his best with this homage to a bygone Americana rugged outdoors era. Readers will follow deeply Rossie's life from the 1930s as a teen through WWII on into the McCarthy period all the way up to 1991 when a "family" reunion with Mattie occurs. THE WILLOW FIELD is a superb slice of twentieth century Americana.

The Lay of the Land
Richard Ford
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
0679454683 $26.95 1-800-726-0600

It is Thanksgiving 2000 in Haddam, New Jersey and fifty-five realtor Frank Bascombe has more issues than the presidential contest that might get resolved by the '04 election (the presidency that is), but definitely before his do. Frank mulls over the irony of life. His second wife the widow Sally Caldwell left him for her very much alive first husband. Frank's first wife Ann Dykstra is now a widow and looking to go back to him. Franks has other bigger issues than a second chance with his first wife becoming his third spouse; bigger than the issues of his twenty something year old offspring Paul and Clarissa (from his first marriage) whose complexities are better off ignored by him. As he sells homes and beach cottages with his partner a Tibetan Buddhist expatriate Mike Mahoney, Frank learns he has prostate cancer. This brings him no sympathy from his family as they make him as usual the stuffing for the long Turkey weekend. Every decade or so, Richard Ford treats readers with the latest happenings in the life of Frank Bascombe (see THE SPORTSWRITER and INDEPENDENCE DAY). Frank has learned relationships no matter how long they are do not last as sh*t happens. This time he takes a beating over the extended holiday weekend, but as he always has whether he was covering sports, selling real estate, or watching marriages dissolve he placidly ignores the jabs. Instead he is more concerned about the end of the Clinton era with the country either going to be gored or just bushed. Still he looks back seeking answers whether he should have settled for comfort or taken the risk for pleasure as life is short. As always with Frank, readers obtain a deep humorous yet serious character study.

Christopher Paolini
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
037582670X $24.00 1-800-726-0600

Following the battle at Farthen Dur (see ERAGON) the young rider now called Eragon the Shadeslayer due to his heroism and his dragon Saphira continue their journey to Ellesmera where he hopes to complete his training as a rider and better understand the magic. In the elven city Eragon meets Oromis the rider and his dragon Glaedr, who agree to mentor the lad and his dragon though that might expose them as they have hidden since Galbatorix's coup slaughtered the Riders. While the lad is training under Oromis' tutelage, Galbatorix's inhumans assault the village Carvahall intending to abduct Eragon's cousin Roran. Though these monsters overwhelm the village and abduct Roran's fiancee Katrina, many escape. Roran leads the survivors as they join the Varden counterinsurgency to overthrow Galbatorix. The second Inheritance tale is a solid coming of age fantasy though it lacks some of the shock and awe of the first novel as too much descriptive detail is given on Eragon's specific training though ironically that depth makes Paolini's world seem genuine but can be tedious to read ( this reviewer skipped some of those passages). Still the adventures of Roran and his villagers are exhilarating and when Eragon is outside the classroom the escapades of him and his dragon are also exciting especially with fans expecting the two heroes to unite. Overall this is a fine fantasy targeting young teens.

Secondhand World
Katherine Min
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
0307263444 $23.00 1-800-726-0600

In 1976, just a few months from graduating high school eighteen years old Isadora "Isa" Myung Hee Sohn spends ninety-five days in the pediatric burn unit at Tri-State Medical Center in Albany, New York. The fire that burned thirty per cent of her body killed her Korean born parents. As she slowly healed mostly in isolation, the lone survivor of the ordeal tries to make sense out of the illogical. Isa reflects back on the family interrelationships to ascertain why one of her parents set the blaze; she assumes that her unemotional father did the deed out of outrage of being cuckolded. Isa considers that the final spin downward started when she overtly revolted against her father's dictatorial rule as is the custom in Korea, but not as authoritarian in America. She befriended Rachel, admiring the chaos of her pal's family and agreed to run away with Hero, but was caught. Out of ire, she informed her dad that she caught mom kissing a professor; ergo that is why she assumes her father lit the deadly fire. Now she has his journal, which should verify what she believes. SECONDHAND WORLD is a deep look at individual and cultural values as a first generation hyphenated American sees things quite differently than their born in the United States offspring. The melting pot is assimilation that causes generational conflict between the old and new ways. Isa is a fascinating protagonist as she learns to survive the pain, the loneliness, and the ordeal as much as she adapted to being Americanized while her parents especially her father is Korean. It is interesting that her parents are never fully developed on their own, as they only are seen through the filter of how Isa perceives them. Katherine Min provides a deep family drama that focuses on the customs of immigrants compared with the Americanization of their children.

Jamaican Me Crazy
Debbie DiGiovanni
Revell Books
0800731077 $12.99

In Minnesota, Jennifer started the mommy revolt as she overdoses on Christmas before the holiday even has begun. Jumping on Jennifer's discontented theme, Becky, who won on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire thanks to her pals, offers to take Peggy, Martha, Claire, Dawn, and Lillian to Jamaica; all accept except Martha who finds it offensive to leave family during the holiday season. The spouses agree with Martha as their wives traipse off for sun and fun. Still the quintet leaves for Jamaica with hopes of getting rid of stress. However, little goes right as baggage is lost and roommates argue over everything including who is stealing things from them. Still each begins to look at what has caused their cynical attitude from a new viewpoint; that of "No Problem, Mon". This is a deep holiday chick lit tale with the five amigas being fully developed. The story line is at its best when it focuses on how each of the four married females relook what disturbs them trying to wear the moccasins of their spouses, children, and others. Though Becky as the lone single has a romance that seems more required than needed; the overriding key to JAMAICAN ME CRAZY is a humorous look at five women working through realistic problems; besides there is also Felix the wonderful cat.

The Wildfire Season
Andrew Pyper
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312354541 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

Miles McEwan moved to literally the end of the road when he relocated to Ross River in the Yukon to become the tiny hamlet's fire chief as he hides from his past though he cannot elude the fiery burn scars that mark and mock his face. Though he drinks a lot to somewhat bury his mental anguish that haunts him, Miles is also aware that he must remain somewhat sober as this is the area's inferno season when forest fires tend to go out of control. However, this particular season is going be even more chaotic than any Miles can remember. His angry bitter former lover Alex and their five-year-old daughter Rachel have arrived in town; he does not want to see them because they would see him and what has become of him. There is also a bear hunting expedition that is foolish at a time when several fires nearby are blazing. When these separate conflagrations consolidate, the town is endangered. While Miles is distracted by his ex and the inferno, someone sees an opportunity to use the grizzly hunters and the fires to commit murder. THE WILDFIRE SEASON is a terrific descriptive look at the dangers of the wilderness used as great background to a fine thriller. The fire scenes are superbly described so that the audience will feel the heat and peril facing heroes. Miles is a solid protagonist who wants no human contact except for his bartender serving him drinks, his firefighting team only in an official capacity, and rescues. The murder subplot augments a tense graphic tale that hooks readers from start to finish.

Night Falls on Damascus
Frederick Highland
Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312337892 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

In 1930s French controlled Syria, Chief of the Damascus Prefecture Police Inspector Nikolai Faroun investigates the gruesome murder of modern westernized woman Vera Tamiri. Nikolai always tries to do a thorough job, but this time the pressure is higher than normal as the victim comes from an affluent powerful local family. Nikolai assumes like most of the brass that an angry jealous lover killed Vera for dumping him though who remains an issue. However, being a professional he begins to also look elsewhere amongst her friends, family, and business associates; especially the latter as Vera was deeply involved in many philanthropic projects demanding social changes to grant rights to the abused and oppressed women and children, who in the her mind were treated as being less than slaves. NIGHT FALLS ON DAMASCUS is actually a complex somewhat convoluted historical mystery that brings to life Syria during the 1930s French occupation. Readers will follow the exploits of Faroun as he investigates the murder, but also learn how angry the locals are with the European neo-colonial occupation. Though two decades later, Frederick Highland's fine mystery will remind the audience of the Mamur Zapt tales by Michael Pearce. Sub-genre fans will appreciate this whodunit and want more appearances from Police Inspector Faroun.

The Sidewalk Artist
Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312358032 $22.95 1-888-330-8477

New York based writer Tulia Rose seeks a subject for her next novel so she travels to Europe for inspiration. In Paris she is amazed by a perfect sidewalk rendition of Renaissance great Raphael's heavenly angels. The street painter insists his name is also Raphael though Tulia calls him Raffaello. They share a picnic in which THE SIDEWALK ARTIST talks about art history especially the Renaissance with knowledge and passion She is tempted to date him but has a boyfriend back home. Besides filled with doubt as her feelings for this stranger scares her, Tulia leaves Raffaello for Italy, but somehow inexplicable he keeps showing up wherever she is as if he knows where she is going before she does. Tulia begins a novel starring the mysterious muse Beloved, who influenced Raphael's work but never appears in any of it. Tulia wonders about her muse. This is an interesting complex (in terms of structure) romance that rotates leads between the personal stories of Tulia and Raffaello, their times together and her draft historical novel. The stunning vivid look at Venice (then and now) is incredible as if Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk are landscape artists rather than novelists. Readers seeking something different in their romantic novels will enjoy reading about two loves between artists and their muses.

Bloody Harvests
Richard Kunzmann
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312360339 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

In South Africa, even in the most modern of cities, practitioners of magic hold sway over the population. The ones who work for the benefit of their client are revered but there are some like the Albino that use the dark powers of the spirits to achieve their own ends. The Albino has built up an empire based on heroin and human smuggling and he performs mudi (organ) murders so he can harvest human organs for his spellcraft. When a black child's body is found in a ditch, it is easy to see it is a mudi murder because the heart is missing. Detectives Harry Morgan and Jacob Tshabalala are assigned the case. While Harry uses tried and true police methods, Jacob believes in the magic of his people. A major heroin bust disrupts the Albino's empire, causing him to commit crime against those that betrayed him. The Albino's empire is linked to the little girl's murder so it is inevitable that he will cross paths with Harry and the police many times. The case is broken wide open by a British reporter who identifies the top guns in the criminal empire. Harry begins to realize there is more to the world of spirits than he ever knew. The exotic locale and the supernatural beliefs of many people living in South Africa will give armchair travelers a thrill. It is fascinating to watch the metamorphosis of Harry from non-believer to believer. Both Harry and Jacob are well developed characters with demons they have to exorcise if they want to live normal lives. Richard Kunzmann's debut novel is a smash hit.

The Sorcerer's Circle
Michael Silvering
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312361920 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

His mother is the owner of the Midnight Investigation Agency in which Jason is an operative. One day as he is ready to go home, a man appears telling him the River City police sent him there because they couldn't help him. He insists someone is trying to kill him. Jason concludes the man is a flake and gets rid of him. Jason later learns that the potential client died while performing a magical ritual with four other people in attendance. One of the participants is Anna Addison, a client's daughter and owner of the knife that killed Elijah Messenger. She ran from the scene so her father hires the Midnight Investigation Agency to clear her name as she is the police's prime suspect. While investigating the "mystic", Jason discovers the man is a scam artist, bilking people out of their life savings. Each member of the inner circle had reasons to kill him, but Jason needs to figure out who did the deed. The more Jason questions people close to the deceased, the more it seems that Anne is guilty; yet he and his mother believe the evidence is too perfect and tidy. The relationship between mother and son is quirky and humorous and it is beautiful to see how close they are to one another, which adds to an entertaining well written crime caper.

Pink Ice
Susanna Carr
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451219554 $14.00 1-800-847-5515

Prologue. In Seattle at the Lia Dash auction, the three Graham sisters (Lindsay, Sabrina, and Nicole) all want to buy the pink diamond earrings, but not one of them can afford to bid. They make a quick deal to pool their resources and share the gems. "Pink Champagne". Middle sister Sabrina wears the earrings when she crashes a party when security bodyguard Ian West notices her. He wants her, but thinks she is a thief especially with the diamond earrings she wears as someone has stolen jewelry from guests and wants Sabrina's jewels next. "Touch of Pink". Oldest sibling Lindsay takes the earrings with her when she goes on vacation in Hawaii. Dominic Stark wants the diamonds and her, but knows he cannot have both. "Pink Positive". The youngest sibling Nicole has the earrings on when she meets Alex Rafferty, supervising a tour of royal jewels that is currently at a local museum. She wants to join the expedition while he wants to join with her. "In the Pink". Jewel thief Mercer Whitely-Cooke plans to steal the earrings when she attends a party hosted by Lindsay and Dominic. Detective Tony Jackson is working the gala to insure no felonies occur. However, when he and Mercer meet, he feels she stole his heart though he soon realizes he must prevent her from taking the earrings. These are four superb interrelated erotic romantic suspense novellas starring likable protagonists and the diamond earrings mindful of the movie the Yellow Rolls Royce but much hotter and more exciting with thieving and no inhibitions being the themes.

Without a Sound
Carla Cassidy
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
04512200021 $6.99 1-800-847-5515

Pleasant Hill, Missouri Police Detective Owen Tolliver calls Haley Lambert to inform her that her widowed sister Maggie Ridge has been murdered in her home. Haley immediately quits her job in Las Vegas to fly home to care for her eight years old niece Molly. Owen and his partner Frank Marcelli, next door neighbor of her late sibling, tell her that evidence strongly suggests Maggie probably knew the culprit. They also state that Molly was there at the time of the homicide but will not or cannot speak. They suggest she make an appointment with psychologist Dr. Grey Barnes, but though he empathizes he does not work with patients. Molly knows everyone wants her to speak, but before dying her mom warned "don't make a sound". Haley worries about what to do with Molly as she has never been the responsible one. She also fears her attraction to Grey who reciprocates her feelings. Though Molly is seeing Dr. Tredwell, Grey is there for the child and her aunt. As they fall in love, neither realizes someone else is there for Molly, but that person plans to kill the child before the little girl can identify her mom's killer. WITHOUT A SOUND is a tense romantic suspense thriller in which clues are provided as to who the killer is, but are cleverly disguised by Carla Cassidy to keep the audience guessing and reading. The lead couple is a fine pair with both having trepidation over adult love for one another, but not so towards Molly even if Haley fears she will fail at providing stability for her niece. The killer's motives seem weak and overly used in fiction, but no one will care as this is an exhilarating tale.

Light My Fire
Katie MacAlister
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451219821 $6.99 1-800-847-5515

Angry with her Wyvern Green Dragon mate Drake for betraying her again, Demon Lord Guardian Aisling Grey moves to London so that her mentor Nora Charles can train her as much as to get away from her estranged spouse. Her demon familiar Jim the Newfoundlander canine is disgusted with Aisling and Drake as their on and off relationship is making him ill. However Drake follows her as they are pledged to one another. Meanwhile the imp populace screams for vengeance against her because Jim snacked on their ruler. They try assassination, but when that fails they declare war, which brings a protective Drake back in her life. Aisling reflects that having a hunk like Drake to make love with proves more satisfactory than reading the guardian handbooks and technical manuals. Besides she must deal with the imps and try not to remove any more toes from Jim. Once gain Aisling Grey will fire up readers with her amusing asides that reflect on life amongst the paranormal. The story line is fast-paced as the heroine seems to figuratively boil an ocean to make a hot drink while everyone seems to want to either slay her or protect her. Fans will appreciate the war with the imps that hide a deeper more dangerous assault on Aisling and those she cares about. Once again Katie MacAlister provides a humorous fantasy.

Highlander in Her Bed
Allie Mackay
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451219813 $6.99 1-800-847-5515

London tour guide Mara McDougall sees the delightfully looking bed at an antique shop and ponders how she can afford to buy it before she realizes someone is in it or at least the ghost of someone; no one else seems to notice the occupant. Sir Alexander Douglas lived in fourteenth century Scotland until he was betrayed by a member of the MacDougall clan, who killed him and stole his intended. All their descendents are his enemy. Mara and Sir Alex meet up again in an ancient castle. He wants to hate her, but finds instead he desires her; worse he likes her sass. She, in turn, wants him, but also hopes to end the curse so he can go onto the next plane though that will leave her with mixed feelings; she sees no avenue for their love to bring them together as universal rules of time and space say otherwise. This is a superb paranormal romance in which the actions and reactions of the lead couple insures that readers will believe in ghosts (and a few other things). The changing relationship between Alex and Mara make for a fine story line. He initially wants to destroy all MacDougalls and she prefers he just haunt someone else; over time their interactions change and soon love blossoms. Fans will enjoy the HIGHLANDER IN HER BED though the best moments are out of her bed.

The Christmas Letters
Bret Nicholaus
Center Street
c/o Warner Books, Inc.
1271 Avenue of the Americas, Room 913, New York, NY 10020
1931722951 $14.00 1-800-759-0190

As the family has done for years, they all come together to share Christmas with Grandpa. Four generations invade the patriarch's home to shower each other with love. However, this year turns out slightly differently as Grandpa announced to his wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchild that "This may be the last Christmas I get to spend with each of you". He gives his beloved relatives nine sealed individualized notes using the letters in the word Christmas to symbolize the recipient. The loving notes explain how each brought joy and happiness into his well filled contented life as well providing them with a life parable. Christmas is coming soon, but Grandpa proved accurate as he died in the summer. Yet everyone gathers at Grandpa's house because they all believe he is there for them through his letters and in spirit to celebrate Christmas with his loved ones. This novella is a terrific tale as each of the family members receive a precious memento from a person held in high regard and cherished by all. Readers will appreciate the gift from Grandpa as Bret Nicholaus provides touching short vignettes of what Grandpa as says in his letters to each person. THE CHRISTMAS LETTERS is an uplifting holiday tale that reminds the audience what really is blessed about life is giving and receiving love.

No Regrets
Shannon K. Butcher
1271 Avenue of the Americas, Room 913, New York, NY 10020
0446618659 $6.99 1-800-759-0190

Because she won't accept a grant from the military, her college is going to dismiss her as they have no money to fund her offbeat subject. Noelle Blanche is the most brilliant cryptologist in the United States but she knows if she accepts the grant, the military could use her research as a weapon. When she leaves for home, she is attacked by terrorists from Swarm who want to kidnap her for her ability to decipher code so she can find the location where some nuclear warheads are. David Wolfe, a former Delta Force operative, is brought back in from the cold to protect Noelle and bring her to a safe place. He also wants to hunt down the Swarm members because they tortured and killed his wife two years ago. When they get to a safe house, an attack occurs which proves there is a mole in the organization. David and Noelle go on the run until they reach another safe place where she can work on breaking the code. During their stay in the cabin, their feelings for each other grow but David doesn't feel he is worthy of a second chance at love and there is a Swarm member lurking nearby waiting to snatch Noelle. Shannon K Butcher is a new star on the romantic suspense galaxy as this work is comparable to such greats as Kay Hooper, Dee Henderson and Taylor Smith. She also has a unique voice with an uncanny ability to create characters that are interesting and refreshingly different. The romance between the two heroes is inevitable as both have something the other needs to make them complete. Readers will look forward to reading Ms. Butcher's next novel.

A Kiss in Winter
Susan Crandall
1271 Avenue of the Americas, Room 913, New York, NY 10020
0446616400 $6.99 1-800-759-0190

Caroline Rogers gave up her dreams to raise her brother and sister after her adopted parents died within days of each other. She sold the family farm and got a job photographing special occasions and freelance work like a state calendar. When she sees someone move into the Rogers' farm Caroline wants to know who it is and if he will keep the spread in good condition because some of her happiest memories happened there. Dr. Mick Larsen, a psychiatrist turned farmer, informs Caroline that he is going to work the land. He is running from his past because he realized he never wanted to be a doctor and only did so to please his father. A tragedy convinced him he was not a good doctor. Mick and Caroline feel an immediate chemistry between them but she wants to travel for national Geographic when her sister goes to college and he wants a partner who will love him and give him children, something Caroline is afraid to do. They are drawn closer together when they realize Caroline has a stalker who is escalating in violence and his targets are tied to the pictures on the calendar she photographed. Yet a relationship for these two star-crossed lovers seems impossible. This is a fetching and moving romantic family drama that is well written and focuses on characters that are very realistic and likeable. The heroine is afraid to love after she has seen what it did to her biological mother and the hero needs love of which he never got from his father. Susan Crandall is so talented that readers will want to read her backlist because A KISS IN WINTER is everything a contemporary romance reader wants in a book.

Tempted In the Night
Robin T. Popp
1271 Avenue of the Americas, Room 913, New York, NY 10020
0446617849 $6.99 1-800-759-0190

The Winslow family has been vampire slayers for centuries and knows how vampires are created. When a human is bitten by the legendary Chupacabra, the venom from the bite kills the victim and brings him back to life as a vampire. When there is not enough venom in the animal's bite the human becomes a half vampire or changeling with all the advantages of a vampire and very few of the disadvantages. When Jessica Winslow is chasing a vampire in the park she is stopped by Detective John Boehler who thinks she is crazy carrying a sword and intending to use it. He locks her up but before he can get some information from her, Simon Brody, who walked away a free man from a murder trial, is found killed in the park with John's badge near him. Because of the threats he made against Simon, John is suspended. He frees Jessica and takes her to his cousin's home where he admits that he knows the rash of killings of criminals is the work of the vampire. He wants to help them in their fight but first they must stake Simon before he turns; and kills indiscriminately just like he did in life. They fail and he develops an obsession for Jessica, a notion that fills John with fear because he cares deeply for her. When she goes to New Orleans to investigate a house filled with chupacabra, John follows her as does Simon. Robin T. Popp has written an exciting paranormal romance that is full of romance, action, and adventure. The way vampires are created adds another dimension to the vampiric legend and gives readers something new to sink their teeth into. The heroine is stubborn as is the hero and together they make a great pair as they fight evil.

On Tall Pine Lake
Dorothy Garlock
1271 Avenue of the Americas, Room 913, New York, NY 10020
0446695327 $12.99 1-800-759-0190

Home, Arkansas is the new home of Nona Conrad, her teen-age sister Maggie and their adopted Aunt Mabel. She moved from Little Rock because she needs a job and the owner of the fishing camp hired her to look after things and take care of the finances. Her half brother Harold, who she knows is a thief and a liar, sent her a package begging her not to open it but she is so busy with the new job and her next door neighbor Simon Wright that she forgets all about it. Simon drives her crazy with his over protectiveness but she begins to understand why when he explains that Harold stole a lot of money and jewels from one of the vaults in the bank that belongs to his grandfather. Two men from the mob are in the area looking for the treasure and the jewels and they kidnap Maggie hoping she knows something that will lead them to Harold. A Good Samaritan frees Maggie, takes her to his parents home where they spend the night before returning home. The danger is far from over because the men want the money and they will do whatever is necessary to get it. Between kidnapping, chases, and injuries, Nona and Simon find time to fall in love. This is Dorothy Garlock's fiftieth book and it is one of her best to date. Taking place in a tiny backwater rural town, readers soak up the atmosphere of small town living. The way the protagonists bicker the audience knows they're starting to fall in love; surprisingly, the person who is one of the stars is Maggie, a young girl who keeps her head during dangerous situations. It would be great to have Maggie's story when she grows up.

The Frost Haired Vixen
John Zakour
Daw Books
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0756403979 $7.99 1-800-847-5515

The only private detective in existence in the year 2061 is Zachary Nixon Johnson and whenever he is on a case, which are few and far between, mayhem and destruction follow. His latest client is the mutant Santana Clausa who works in the North Pole with a few thousand cloned elves who make three presents for each person for the winter holiday, an event that removes all religious connotations from what used to be Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanza. Her problem is that someone killed two of her elves which everyone thought was impossible because the North Pole is the happiest place in the world. Zach accepts the assignment but before he goes to the North Pole he is attacked by killer bots. When he arrives at the North Pole, a bot tries to smother him with a pillow and other attempts are made on his life. With the help of his AI supercomputer HARV, he narrows the suspects down to the people who are visiting the North Pole but doesn't rule out an insider reprogramming the bots to kill. John Zakour has written a serio-comic tale with the emphasis on comic futuristic thriller. There is so much humor in the tale that reader will find themselves instantly laughing out loud. Although the tone of THE FROST-HAIRED VIXEN is light, there is a serious undertone to the story. The protagonist is a man out of time, better suited to the twentieth century where he could be a Phillip Marlow then an almost extinct operative who relies on easy getting information and mid twenty first century technology.

In The Light of the Passing
K.C. Berg
Infinity Press
c/o Buy Books On The Web
1094 New Dehaven Street, #100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
0741427990 $20.95

In Sarzan, Commander Vallance has had it with the disobedience of his offspring Nadeena, who wanders the dells over his objections. She asks him what does a daughter of a commander do; he replies he ahs not found any usefulness for her. However his wife Diona decides Nadeena can be useful by marrying her off in a political deal that will strengthen Vallance's control. Nadeena learns of her parents' plan and decides to leave. She already has problems with her sire's iron fisted control of her people so a forced marriage is the final straw that sends her into hiding nearby just outside the city. There she meets miners led by Rotek loyal to Commander Doff of nearby planet Scrovell, who take her to their secret underground city where they plot a revolt against her abusive father. She also meets Commander Shance of another nearby planet Grahba who believes all his people are dead. As they plan to destroy her father, a cruel dictator who has killed many on all three orbs, the two males fall in love with Nadeena. Though Vallance and Diona have no redeeming qualities, readers will appreciate this strong outer space science fiction thriller in which the key element is that the tri-worlds especially Sarzan seem real. The story line is action-packed and the romantic heroic trio is full blooded individuals with needs and desires that often internally conflict. Fans will enjoy this fine fast-paced tale of freedom fighters struggling on a planet in a faraway galaxy.

A Lady's Pleasure
Renee Bernard
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
1416524207 $6.99 1-800-223-2336

Merriam Everett decides that the mysterious "Deadly Duke" of Sussex would be perfect for a one night stand. However, how to meet him to set up the tryst she desires is going to prove difficult as Drake Sotherton has become a recluse who never ventures out into society since his wife died. Most of the aristocracy believes he killed his spouse, but he believes Lord Julian Clay did the foul deed. Drake attends a masquerade ball where he meets the sensual seductive "Cat". She teases him into a taste of her like no feline has ever done before. Drake goes after her with an ardor that stuns Merriam with the passion she feels. Meanwhile he assumes she is connected to Clay. As he plots vengeance he persuades Merriam to be his mistress though in his mind she is a mouse in his scheme to catch a rat; a throwaway that he falls in love with as she sends him to levels of euphoria that makes him forget his previous desires. A LADY'S PLEASURE is an exciting erotic Victorian romantic suspense starring the mouse that roared and the man who goes from using her to loving her. Merriam is a fascinating female as she has plenty to prove while Drake has even more to prove. Their gender battles make for a fine tale with a late suspense spin involving Clay. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this fine historical.

Broken Flower
V.C. Andrews
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
0743493885 $7.99 1-800-223-2336

Seven years old Jordan March and her thirteen years old brother Ian are being raised by a loving nurturing mother, Carol, and Christopher, a useless cheating father whose only love is alcohol. Carol is always there for her offspring while Christopher has nothing to do with either of them. When Carol notices Jordan has tiny breasts and pubic hairs, she panics and tells her daughter not to say a word to anyone and to never let Grandma Emma see her naked. Carol also checks her daughter's dirty laundry only to find evidence that the little girl menstruated. Brilliant science minded Ian is fascinated by it and decides he must study what is happening to his sister. Due to his drinking and driving Carol and Christopher are severely injured in a car accident that leaves both incapable of caring for themselves let alone two children. Grandma Emma who detests her son takes over caring for her two grandchildren though much of the daily chores are left to the hired help, strict disciplinarian Miss Harper. Emma does not hide the fact that she cherishes Jordan, but seems at best to be indifferent to Ian, perhaps loathing him whereas Miss Harper thinks the seemingly sweet girl hides an evil soul. This is the summer that will make or break young Jordan especially after she and Ian meet Flora, who reveals secrets involving the March brood. As always with any of the "Flower" novels, the villain is never quite who you think he or she is. The story line focuses on Jordan whom readers will empathize with while also feeling horrified that a second grader is beginning to turn into a woman. Fans hope she comes out of this okay as it seems those who should love and nurture her want to use her. Even though the author died, fans of the series will appreciate a fine entry that easily could have been written by V.C. Andrews' ghost.

No Rest for the Wicked
Kresley Cole
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
1416509887 $6.99 1-800-223-2336

In Castle Gorny, Russia, Valkyrie Kaderin "the Cold Hearted" continues her quest to avenge the deaths of her sisters, but to her chagrin and shock she hesitates to kill this particular vampire in spite of her personal vow to never linger when the kill is there. This is only the second time in her life as a slayer that she pauses; the first time ended in tragedy. Sebastian Wroth realizes instantly who Kaderin is besides the Valkyrie ready to kill him. She is his soul mate whose arrival has given him reason to rejoice in "living" for the first time in perhaps two centuries. She shares his deepest feelings, but he is a member of her enemy species. He intends to make her his bride, but to win her; Sebastian enters the "Hie" ultimate paranormal fighting competition that she has won several times. Let the games begin. Kresley Cole consistently provides the best paranormal romantic thrillers on the market today (see A HUNGER LIKE NO OTHER). Her latest is a fantastic star-crossed tale starring two adversaries in a forbidden love that besides battling one another in the Hie can only lead in Kaderin's mind, to her choosing between her beloved supportive family and her soul-mate vampire. Sub-genre readers will want to follow the exploits of this Valkyrie and her beloved enemy who has heated her cold heart.

Lanterns and Lace
DiAnn Mills
Barbour Books
810 Barbour Drive, Uhrichsville, OH 44683
1597893560 $9.97

In 1895 in Cleveland Jenny Martin learns that her fallen dove sister Jessica passed away leaving behind a two years old daughter, Rebecca. She travels to Kahlerville, Texas to bring her niece home with her. The trek on the Union Pacific is stifling and difficult with Jenny obtaining no sleep and little to eat. In the small Texas train station, Jenny faints; hitting her head as she is ill. Fellow passenger Aubrey Turner who knows all about her and her sibling sends for Dr. Grant Andrews who arrives to help Jenny. Jenny soon learns that Grant has adopted Rebecca and with the help of his housekeeper Mimi is raising the child with love. Ready to contest custody, Jenny realizes that her niece is contented living with Grant and Mimi. Still though she reluctantly accepts that Rebecca needs to remain with Grant, she still wants to be there as a loving aunt; besides which she likes the town and its residents. As Jenny and Grant begin to fall in love, their differences over the role of God in their lives keeps them apart; whereas he has found the Lord, she was raised to believe solely in science. Meanwhile Aubrey insists he and Jessica were an entry and that she died hiding a treasure of his that he demands Jenny find or else people she cares about will die. This superb western romance is a terrific inspirational tale that interweaves its message of have faith in the Lord whether things are going good or bad into the exciting plot so that sub-genre fans first and foremost obtain a strong late nineteenth century Texas tale. Jenny and Grant debate faith vs. Darwinism until she eventually finds religion in the "foxhole". Readers will enjoy this action-packed story line, which brings to life this bygone "Wild West" era.

Promise Me Always
Christine Lynxwiler
810 Barbour Drive, Uhrichsville, OH 44683
1597893552 $12.99

In Shady Grove, Arkansas, thirty-five years old widow Allie Richards loses her job as an office manager at Cobler's Plant Nursery when the local firm was sold to a larger company. She knows she must be sensible as she must feed her daughters, twelve years old Miranda and ten years old Kate. However, the most relevant known social order in the small town, the Pinky Promise Sisterhood, of which she is one of four members along with her friends Lark, Victoria and Rachel, insist she take a risk. She agrees to go for a Hail Mary dream of running her own landscaping business. The bank rejects her for a loan so she knows her only chance is to win a landscaping competition with her crew being her younger brother who would rather do his trimming on line and the Pinkies who never cut anything but a cuticle. With local TV watching the event but divided about her as the snotty reporter tries to humiliate her while his cameraman goes out of his way to make her look good, Shady Grove is rooting for the widowed mother of two. The Pinkies add humor, pathos, and plenty of support to a fine character cozy starring a woman with a dream battling a reality of feeding her preadolescents. Though some readers will doubt Allie has the experience to perform the full landscaping work, no one will doubt her sincerity and effort. The other Pinkies are quite the support group as they encourage her and amateurishly assist her as money exchange is a Sisterhood taboo. Fans will appreciate a fine follow your dream drama.

The Wicked
L.A. Banks
St. Martin's Press Griffin
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312352360 $14.95 1-888-330-8477

Damali and Carlos are finally married and spending the last day of their honeymoon making love. Both are Neterus, beings who work for the Light fighting the minions of darkness whenever they cross paths. There job will never be over until they are called upon to play their destined role in Armageddon. Eve's son Cain, locked away in the land of Nod, discovers that his beautiful Damali married Carlos, a vampire Neteru like him. Cain breaks out of Nod and assumes the Chairmanship of the Vampire Council in the sixth level of hell, a job that suits him perfectly since he is Lucifer's grandson. He intends to gather up an army and kill the guardians that surround Damali and Carlos so that he can destroy Carlos and mate with Damali. Cain knows that she is the descendent of an angel and she has wings that come out whenever she uses her healing powers. Cain is linked to Damali and through her to Carlos because during a time when carlos and Damali's relationship was on the rocks, she let him bite her. He shows his link to Damali to Carlos hoping to draw a wedge between them before the two sides meet in battle. The eighth installment in the vampire huntress series is filled with romance, action and adventure. This storyline leads up to the battle between the forces of light and darkness and until the dust settles nobody will know who the winner is. The love that exists between the two protagonists is wondrous and gives them the strength to keep fighting when all they want to do is get some peace. L.A. Banks is a talented world builder who writes a great vampire thriller.

A Deeper Sleep
Dana Stabenow
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312343221 $24.95 1-888-330-8477

Private detective Kate Shugak is an Alaskan Aleut who homesteads in the Park and was groomed by her grandmother to become the leader of the tribe and head of the Niniltna Native Association. Solitary by nature, Kate ignores the pleas of the "Aunties" and devotes her own time to raising her dead lover's son Johnny and luring state trooper Jim into a relationship with her. They both go to see the verdict on Park resident Louis Dean for murder. The jury acquits him in the death of his wife even though Louis has a habit of killing his wives and assaulting and raping females. Yet he has never been convicted. A few weeks later a woman and her child are murdered and their gold nugget collection stolen. Kate's ward Johnny identifies Louis as the killer. The DA refuses to prosecute so he walks once more leaving the residents of the park angry enough to murder him themselves. There are a lot of fun scenes in which Jim feels that he is going down for the count and Kate is getting ready to rope him in. These scenes are needed as counterpoint to the odious actions of a sexual predator and killer who has his henchmen try to kill Johnny and end up injuring Kate's beloved mutt. This Alaskan tale is part mystery, part police procedural and part action thriller.

Murder Among the Owls
Bill Crider
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312348096 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

Sheriff Dan Rhodes opens the screen door to his house only to watch a DHC (domestic house cat) with a red collar and aluminum tag walk inside after rubbing his leg. Dan, allergic to cats, sneezes. His Pomeranian Yancey sees the feline and goes a bit berserk. His noise leads to Dan's wife Ivy coming into the kitchen to ask why her husband is acting mean to Yancey. Dan claims innocence blaming the visitor, but Ivy recognizes Sam the cat who is an in-door pet belonging to neighbor Widow Helen Harris. At Ivy's insistence, Dan goes to check up on Helen only to find her lying dead on her kitchen floor. A quick look around indicates no foul play, probably a tragic accident but his wife's words haunt Dan. How did the cat get out? Deciding to follow up by looking into Helen's recent activities, Dan starts with her membership as one of the OWLS (Older Women's Literary Society) who would dig for buried artifacts nearby. That seems to go nowhere but he is a bit surprised to learn she was seeing some men making him wonder if one of them committed a homicide. Though going to nowhere on either path, Dan keeps thinking about the cat who "told" him that his owner was dead. The latest Dan Rhodes police procedural is a terrific entry due to a strong realistic and eccentric cast. The story line is fast-paced starting with the amusing banter between Yancey and Sam and Dan and Ivy. The investigation is cleverly handled by the sheriff who sees to potential ways to seek a killer when he doubts that a homicide occurred. Dan learns one must never co-star with animals as Ivy names Sam the hero in this amusing maybe whodunit.

The Blade Itself
Marcus Sakey
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312360312 $22.95 1-888-330-8477

In the Irish Bridgeport section of Chicago Danny Carter and Evan McGann became friends as kids and teamed up over the years starting with shoplifting before turning to robberies. However, on their last pawnshop job, Evan is caught by the cops while Danny manages to escape. Evan goes to prison for seven years but is finally freed on parole. Evan returns to Chicago looking to reestablish his partnership in crime with Danny. However, the near incident scared Danny straight into being a "soccer mom". He works construction and lives with his girlfriend Karen, who runs a nightclub. Evan insists Danny owes him and expects him to help him with a crime caper or else. Danny sees his options as limited between returning to the life of crime by assisting his former best friend, ignoring Evan only to have him come after him or worse Karen, or turn him in to the cops which goes against the neighborhood code of ethics. This exciting gritty street thriller starts off at an incredible pace with the failed pawn shop robbery and never slows down as the two former partners go their separate ways until the convicted one comes home with demands. The characters, especially the mean streets of Chicago, which is so alive it feels like protagonists, make the story line exciting and fresh though Evan's planned caper is nothing new. Urban crime readers will appreciate this debut work that in some ways is reminiscent of Cagney's Public Enemy.

I, Mona Lisa
Jeanne Kalogridis
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312341393 $14.95 1-888-330-8477

In Florence her mother suffers from epilepsy while her father earns a living as a wool merchant. When Lisa di Antonio Gherardini was thirteen, the priests determined her mother was possessed and killed her. Not long after that she meets Lorenzo de Medici, who arranges for artist Leonardo Da Vinci to paint her portrait. She also meets Lorenzo's son, Guiliano, who courts her even after his father dies. Lisa and Guiliano fall in love and are happy together until a plot to overthrow the de Medici stranglehold on the city occurs forcing him to flee to Rome leaving behind his pregnant beloved. She thinks he died so she grieves her loss. However, to save the life of her beloved father, she is forced to wed his latest "patron" Francesco del Giocondo, but she still does not forget her beloved Guiliano. She proves her loyalty by providing insider secrets about her second spouse, his associates and his family when she visits artist Leonardo Da Vinci, allegedly to complete that portrait Lorenzo commissioned. Though more a historical romance than a biographical fiction; I, MONA LISA is an excellent fifteenth century portrait of a woman in love. The story line focuses on Mona Lisa as she struggles to survive in a changing world in which her in-laws are losing power. As she did with THE BORGIA BRIDE, Jeanne Kalogridis provides a strong spotlight on fifteenth century Italy through a deep look at the woman whose portrait is considered a masterpiece.

Probable Cause
Theresa Schwegel
St. Martin's
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312343167 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

In Chicago rookie patrolman Ray Weiss joins the 20th District. He feels great as he always dreamed of becoming a cop. However, his aspiration turns bitter when Field Training Officer Jack Fiore demands he complete his OJT by fulfilling the ritual that will make him a true member of the force. He must rob Rytoi Jewelry on Argyle Avenue so Jack can give his wife a present and Ray can become one of the guys. Reluctantly Ray breaks into the store with Jack following him inside where they find the murdered corpse of the Lithuanian owner Petras Ipolitas. Knowing they are in trouble as Homicide Detective Sloane Pearson wonders why they were there, Fiore sets in motion a plot to hide their activity. He tracks down an illegal Lithuanian immigrant Jurgis Ambrozas, who is found with a trunk filled with firearms who is to take the fall. Ray worries about his future and how his dad a dedicated ethical police officer, proud of his son's joining the force, will react. Unable to stay on the sidelines Ray digs on his own and with Sloane, which upsets his district peers especially his "mentor". Readers initially will have mixed feelings towards Ray for his part in the robbery, but his attitude especially towards females will lose him some of the audience's empathy until he redeems himself with his efforts to do the right thing. His metamorphous makes this a superb police procedural though the story line has been used before. As with OFFICER DOWN, Theresa Schwegel writes a deep character study of a beleaguered cop struggling as his world spins out of control starting with that first mistake.

The Angel and the Jabberwocky Murders
Mignon F. Ballad
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312354193 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

In the small South Carolina town of Stone's Throw where the university is located, Guardian Angel Augusta Goodnight, who once worked the Strawberry Fields in Heaven, has lived with Lucy Nan Pilgrim for over a year. The quiet hamlet knows sudden fear when a student D. C .Hunter disappears. At first nobody is worried thinking she just extended her vacation but Lucy and her colleague Joy Ellen hear the screams of two of the students coming from an old shed; inside is the body of D.C. Hunter. In her dorm room is a Jabberwocky verse from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass. The letter was never mailed but put inside her mailbox. Four years ago almost to the month another girl was found in the lake, knocked unconscious by a blow to her head. She had received a Jabberwocky verse. Five years before that Carla Martinez fell from the Tree House. The authorities say it was an accident but Lucy Nan and Augusta think all three murders are linked and the campus handyman wants to talk to her. Before he gets a chance, Lucy Ann finds him hanging from the Tree House, a murder made to look like a suicide. Lucy wants to find the killer but the answers are found three decades in the past and she must be careful in the present because the culprit kills anyone who gets too close to uncovering the truth. An Augusta Goodnight mystery is always a special treat. She adds a touch of whimsy to Mignon F. Ballard's cozies and in THE ANGEL AND THE JABBERWOCKY MURDERS a little is needed because the town is caught in the fear that the killer will strike again. Ms. Ballard proves that a book doesn't need violence to be a good who-done-it. In fact, it is the lack of explicit violent scenes that adds to the overwhelming fear that the readers feel for the characters who are old familiar and dear friends.

The Letter Killeth
Ralph McInerny
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312351437 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

Notre Dame has to change with the times or it will never survive in the cutthroat competitive world of academia. Students, teachers and workers don't like the direction the school is taking, more secular and less religious oriented. Professor Raul Izquierdo is an atheist who talks to his classes about his beliefs which upsets the pious Catholics who believe that what he is doing is wrong. Henry, a security officer is a brilliant man whose whole life was geared to going to Notre Dame but despite high grades and SAT scores he was rejected. Professor Wack who has an office next door to Raul despises the atheist and in a fit of ire sets fire to his trash can. Threatening letters are sent to the Provost, the Dean of Arts and Letters, the football coach and Professor Wack. The school is concerned so they hire private investigator Phillip Knight and his brother, a Catholic Studies professor, who also is a private investigator to investigate. While they inquire about the letters, Raul's car is blown up and he is later found by a professor in his office strangled to death. There are many suspects but Roger perseveres because he thinks the police have arrested the wrong man. Fans of Academia mysteries will enjoy THE LETTER KILLETH that gives a writer's view of Notre Dame and the political in-fighting that goes on in academia. This is a well thought out mystery with three suspects who all have good motives to want to see the victim dead making the cast of secondary characters most interesting. Roger, an extraordinarily obese man, is comfortable with himself as a brilliant private detective with a mind that never rests until he sacks the criminal.

The Boss
Stan Pottinger
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
031227677X $24.95 1-888-330-8477

In Houston, not even forty years old, Jack "Spin" Patterson has worked his way up the ladder of success leaving behind many a corpse as he reaches the acme of Gulf-Tex Oil, the company he inherited from his late father-in-law. This expert at exploiting others is affluent with money, power, and women. Spin also has a past that now that he is part of the Texas in crowd her prefers hidden. However, his empire teeters when his wife Audrey has had it with his neglect at his best or scorn as his norm; she not only plans to divorce him, but threatens his seat as THE BOSS. Oil runs in Max McLennon's veins though he knows the down side as his father died by a rig and his brother is disfigured. He worships his hero Spin until he begins to observe the dark side that would allow Gulf-Tex Oil employees and stockholders to lose everything just because his former idol has become too big for his britches as he refuses to negotiate with Audrey. Max decides to spin a different ending for the amoral Patterson because now he knows Jack. Readers will see the obvious connections to the TV show Dallas as THE BOSS is a spicy Texas thriller that in some ways satires the Hageman drama by lampooning the "bigness" belief of elite natives. Spin steals the show with his supersize ego that enables him not only to step on people including his wife and to a lesser degree his mistress Tacoma Reed, but also allows him to believe he never makes mistakes as he is above human frailty. Max becomes his adversary as the statue falls from pedestal. Stanley Pottinger provides a fascinating look at the biggest of the big Texans.

The Rogue's Bride
Leslie LaFoy
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312347715 $6.99 1-888-330-8477

He never expected to become the Duke of Steadman, but with the sudden deaths of his father and his brother the heir, in 1886 the spare Tristen Townsend inherits the title. The shipping magnate heads to England from his American base of operations as soon as he can, stunned by the news. He quickly hears rumors that both deaths are suspicious so he decides to learn whether his relatives were murdered and if yes why. Former street urchin Lady Simone Turnbridge is unable to follow the correct behavior expected by the Ton, and more important she could not less what others say. However, she feels for her reticent friend Emmaline Townsend and agrees to help her with high society especially the girl's martinet mother. Already attracted to Simone, Tristen admires her courage as she bravely helps with a rescue during a fire. As they fall love, his need to uncover the truth about his late relatives' deaths lead both Simone and Tristen into danger. The unparalleled Simone makes this late Victorian romance a terrific refreshing tale (just watch out for that's second hand smoke). Tristen recognizes how delightfully brave and unique Simone is while she finds the American shipping magnate fascinating to the point of relooking her declaration to never marry. The suspense comes late, but no one will care as this couple enchantingly carries this superb historical with their love for one another.

Case of Two Cities
Qiu Xiaolong
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312359853 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

The anonymous call to the Fujian Police Bureau sent Sergeant Lou Xiangdong to the Inebriating Money and Intoxicating Gold karaoke center that serves as a sexual service locale for the corrupt officials and businessmen. There he is shocked by who he finds murdered, Fujian Special Squad Police Detective Hua Ting. Though he wants to believe that one of his mentors when he started was clean, Hua postulates whether the highly regarded dead cop was on the take? Retired Comrade Secretary Zhao Yan of the Central party Chinese Discipline Committee assigns a major business corruption case to Shanghai Police Bureau Chief Inspector Chen Cao, explaining that the top gun Xing Xing already fled to the States. Comrade Zhao wants Xing's gang still flourishing at the cost of the country to be stopped. As Chen investigates, he ties the Hua homicide to the corruption scandal as the late sleuth had found ties between officials of the party and the self-exiled business mogul. Soon, Chen realizes he was selected not to solve the case, but because the party VIPs thought his reputation for honesty would give credibility to an investigation intended to fail.In his fourth appearance (see WHEN RED IS BLACK and DEATH OF A RED HEROINE) Inspector Chen remains an honest, diligent and dedicated cop trying to insure justice is served while doing so under an oppressive government in which the truth is only what the Communist Party claims it to be. The story line is action-packed as Chen knows the so-called blank check Zhao gives him to weed out corruption at the highest levels of the government is a sham, but that does not stop him from following all the key threads to wherever they lead including America. THE CASE OF TWO CITIES is a superior police procedural.

The Assassins of Isis
P.C. Doherty
St. Martin's Press,
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312359608 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

In 1478 BC Egypt's XVIII Dynasty, Pharaoh Queen Hatusu assigns the Hall of Two Truths Chief Judge Lord Amerotke to investigate the stealing of artifacts from the "Houses of a Million Years" in the Valley of the Nobles. The intruders obviously have insider information as they knew precisely where to go and much about the guards. This makes it easy to kill the patrol and plunder the tombs. Lord Amerotke, his wife Norfret, their two sons (Ahmase and Curfayhas), and his servant Shufoy capture most of the thieves, members of the Sebaus sect; but the leader remains hidden amidst the shadows of the affluent just out of sight. Mercenaries try to assassinate Amerotke, but he survives their attempt to kill him. Instead he switches inquires from finding the Sebaus leader to investigating the murder of retired General Suten, killed by horned vipers. Evidence points towards the macho military man having releasedthe snakes to prove his courage, but Amerotke finds flaws with that logic and wonders if the victim's wife Lupherna, his scribe Menna and or his valet Heby killed him. Amerotke has another case to investigate involving four young women who have vanished from the Temple of Isis. He finds the connection tying the three cases together but if he is not extremely careful his efforts will lead to a fourth inquiry, headed by someone else, to solve who killed the Chief Judge. THE ASSASSINS OF ISIS is a fantastic entry in the Ancient Egypt mystery series. The fast-paced story line grips readers from the onset of the Sebaus sect members begin their looting and never slows down until the final twist. The cast is strong especially the hero, but the novel as with the predecessors (see THE MASK OF RA, HORUS KILLING and THE SLAYERS OF SETH), belongs to the background. P.C. Doherty paints a powerful vivid look at Ancient Egypt within a strong police procedural.

Jar City
Arnaldur Indridason
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312426380 $14.00 1-888-330-8477

In an apartment in Reykjavik, Iceland, Detective Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson looks at the corpse of a seventy years old man whose head suffered quite a blow when his partner Sigurdur Oli and a female officer Elinborg arrive at the scene. The murder object is a large ashtray and the killer left behind the note "I am HIM" adding to the sleuth's thought that a crime of passion occurred. When the victim turns out to be a loner Holberg, who allegedly raped and killed many young females, Erlendur believes passion was actually vengeance. The three cops quickly learn of a documented alleged Holberg rape case thirty years ago in which the victim reported the crime, but the cop in charge let the accused go while blaming the woman. Meanwhile as the police dig through mountains of records to find more information on Holberg's horrific past, Erlendur struggles with his thirty years old pregnant daughter Eva Lind, who uses drugs in spite of the impact on her unborn; he also worries about his other offspring Sindri Snaer who is barely doing better than her sibling. Two new cases involving an assault of elderly twin sisters and the disappearance of a bride just after she married somewhat pulls Erlendur off the homicide. Still he believes the past holds the key to solving the murder mystery so unhappy Sigurdur and less enthusiastic Elinborg dig through mountains of files seeking names linked to Holberg who Erlendur hopes are available for questioning. This is a terrific Icelandic police procedural starring a dedicated detective whose personal problems with his daughters lifestyles distracts him somewhat, but not enough from trying to solve the three cases. Readers will appreciate the realism of Sigurdur and Elinborg as they do the menial but critical tasks of going through old files. The vanished bride case contains a fun twist that adds to a wonderful mystery novel.

She's No Faerie Princess
Christine Warren
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312347766 $6.99 1-888-330-8477

Queen Mab of the Seelie has banned all travel to the human realm; however that does not prevent her most rebellious relative, her niece Princess Fiona from going on vacation in New York to party at punk clubs of the Village. However, upon arriving in Central park, Fiona is attacked by a demon, who should not be there. Patrolling the streets to avert any incidents between the Others (vampires and werewolves who have come out of the closet and in to the night) and humans while rights negotiations are going on, Tobias Walker, beta werewolf of the Silverback clan saves Fiona's life. For some unknown magical reason, Fiona cannot return home through the portal she came from. Tobias keeps her safe while further assaults on her from demons occur. As the werewolf and the Seelie realize they are soul mates, they also think a malevolent Armageddon type devastation is coming amidst all the realms with no hope to thwart the evil except perhaps the most powerful magic of them all, love. SHE'S NO FAERIE PRINCESS is a delightful charming romantic fantasy with a touch of chick lit that will make believers out of skeptics that there are more sentient species in this universe than humans. Fiona is a fabulous rebel without a cause who suddenly has several causes. Tobias is bone weary tired but now has a new complication especially if her Aunt Mab learns that her niece is in Manhattan fighting demons and sleeping in a werewolf's home; that is before he realizes he and his beloved must save the multiverse. This is a spellbinding paranormal romance.

Night Vision
Ellen Hart
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312349440 $24.95 1-888-330-8477

Academy Award and Global Award winning actress Joanna Kasimir fled Hollywood for the safety of the remote Idaho Panhandle to escape the stalking of her former husband Gordon, who served time for his persecuting her Now several years later she is flying to her hometown Minneapolis to perform of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Allen Grimby Repertory Theatre in St. Paul at the request of her close friend Cordelia Thorn, but fears that Gordon is back with a vengeance. Joanna asks another friend restaurateur Jane Lawless to trail Gordon, which she agrees to do so. Jane's friend, Joanna's brother David Carson is hiding something from her, his sister, and his lover Diego Veras that worries the trio as that is out of character for him especially when Gordon is found dead with David appearing as the prime suspect. Jane investigates while the cops concentrate on pinning the homicide on the ex brother-in-law. This is a fine Twin Cities amateur sleuth tale in which the stalking and subsequent murder investigation takes center stage. The fast-paced story line is cleverly devised so that readers will consider either David or a crazed fan committed the homicide. Though long time fans will be heart-broken that Jane's long-distance lover Kenzie makes almost no appearances, NIGHT VISION is an entertaining whodunit.

Death at Victoria Dock
Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
1590582381 $24.95 1-800-421-3976

In 1928 Australia, The Honourable Phyrne Fisher is driving her Hispano-Suiza vehicle when a shot shatters her windshield covering her with glass. Phyrne remains calm and rationale as she observes three men running from the scene. Almost immediately afterward, she observes a seventeen years old male shot; she holds him as he lays dying. He mentions a place in Latvia. Phyrne is determined the shooters will pay for her windshield, her bloody ruined clothing and for the murder of this teen. Gathering information from associates, she realizes she is dealing with anarchists, who seek a means to finance a revolution back home in Latvia. They figure that Phyrne knows too much so they plan to abduct her. Instead they kidnap her associate Dot. Phyrne plans to rescue her pal, avoid their kidnapping efforts, and stop their plan before someone else will die in Melbourne, this time from machine gun fire. DEATH AT A VICTORIA DOCK, the latest Phyrne Fisher novel, is a jewel of a historical mystery. Phyrne is her usual confident, obstinate and fearless self as she plans to take down the murderous anarchists. She believes in equal rights for women and minorities and is not afraid to pursue her desires, taking her pleasures with whom she wants. Readers will appreciate Kerry Greenwood's emancipated female who solves mysteries in vividly described late 1920s Australia.

Soarer's Choice
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building,175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765316471 $27.95 1-888-330-8477

Every few thousand or so years, the Alector must move to a fresh planet having exploited and ultimately devastated the resources of the orb they have resided on. This has happened to their home world Ifryn, left as ruined husk. Now it is time to leave Corus after farming the planet to such a waste that sustaining life is nearly impossible. However, who is left behind besides the crops of species raised to feed the vast vampiric Alector populace becomes the issue. High Alector Dainyl is a Marshal trying to keep a civil war from breaking out as various groups argue over who stays to die on this exhausted orb. However, instead of the Undesirables, losers left behind, neither Dainyl nor others in the government abandoning Corus anticipated on the Ancient winged native Soarers to suddenly intercede on behalf of their planet. No one before truly challenged the Alectors. The end of the second Corean Chronicles trilogy is one of the best science fiction tales of the year and perhaps the best in a powerful series that reminds readers (at least older ones) of the Zager and Evans song 2525: "He's taken everything this old earth can give, And he ain't put back nothing". The story line is filled with action whether it is battle scenes, government intrigue or social dysfunctional interaction. Readers will choose to soar with L.E. Modesitt, Jr. as he takes his fans on quite a ride.

Watchers in the Night
Jenna Black
1403 Flatiron Building,175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765354519 $6.99 1-888-330-8477

Three years ago just prior to their wedding Gray James vanished without a trace. His fiancee Carolyn Mathers, a private investigator and former cop, searched for him, but found no clues. She gave up the helpless investigation assuming he was either dead or went deep aground to avoid their marriage. In Philadelphia, a street thug threatens Carolyn when out of nowhere Gray intercedes. Stunned, but also outraged, she asks him where he has been, but he refuses to respond to her inquiry. Instead he wants to flee because he no longer deserves the human he loves and cherishes above life since he has become a vampire. Meanwhile the Guardians of the Night, vampires who protect humans, suspect Gray is a rogue serial killer preying on mortals. Carolyn believes otherwise as she thinks his heart and soul are the same whether he is human or vampire and plans to sleuth until she uncovers the truth. WATCHERS IN THE NIGHT is a superb paranormal romantic suspense that grips readers from the moment the petit Carolyn slowly removes her coat under the orders of the street punk that she plans to stop once she opens the last button and never slows down until she confronts the killer and her beloved. The story line is action-packed with vampires flying in and out making Jenna Black's realm seem real. However, the novel is owned by the courageous heroine who takes on punks, thugs, good and evil vampires and Gray as she affirms love conquers everyone.

Dragon Avenger
E.E. Knight
Roc Books
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451461096 $14.00 1-800-847-5515

Wistala is a dragonet who with her two brothers and sister survived their hatching and is happy to live in their cave with their mother and father cocooned in their love. The copper dragon stays away from his family; the gray dragon Auron is scale-less; Jizara is shy and clings to her mother; while Wistala is strong and independent. There idyllic life is destroyed when slave traders of the Wheel of Fire kill Tala's mother and Jizara. Unable to fly yet Auron diverts the hunters so Wistala can have a chance to grow up free. Tala finds her injured father Aurel who is near death and tries to save him but he prefers to die fighting the dwarves. Tala flies away and is joined on her journey by the elf Rainfall who takes her into his home and shows her nothing but love. For years the two live together in peace until Thane Hammar wants Rainfall's beautiful estate. The elf makes Tala his heir and to avoid Hammar's ire he encourages her to travel with his friends where she sees much of the land of Hypatia. While on her journey she devises a way to take vengeance for her family's long ago destruction even though she risks her own death because she will be in the heart of the enemy. The second book of the Age of Fire concentrates on Auron's sister and how she copes with being alone in a somewhat hostile world. E.E. Knight is a great worldbuilder who populates his story with humans, elves, dwarves, and dragons. This is a charming and enchanting fantasy with magic though it is not much in evidence. The characters who befriend Wistala love her for her mature view that homids are for the most part not evil. Told from the point of view of Tala, readers will be enamored by this beautiful specimen of dragonhood.

The Great Betrayal
Millenia Black
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451219534 $13.95 1-800-847-5515

In West Palm, Florida Leslie Cavanaugh lives a great life. Her husband Luke, an award winning architect loves her and she loves him. Their daughter Kathryn is a delight whom both her parents cherish (and spoil). Leslie's career is booming. Nothing could go wrong for her or her family. That is until her past in 1985 Clearwater surfaces. Back then she married Jeff Phillips who suddenly died when she was eight months pregnant. Grace was born in Memphis, but Leslie was unable to cope so she fled. Now her secret that she never told her second spouse or second offspring has come home to roost at a time when she believes Luke is cheating on her and Kathryn is chasing after bad men. However, she has her own troubles to deal with starting in a cemetery she has avoided for two decades, but never really moved on from there. THE GREAT BETRAYAL is a powerful family drama that grips readers from the moment of full clarity as to why Leslie feels her world imploded and never slows down until the final twist. Leslie is one of the best protagonists of the year as she is fully developed to the point that readers know her and understand her motives, past and present. Fans of deep psychological character studies will want to read Millenia Black's strong tale.

Falling into the World
Karen Brichoux
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451218434 $12.95 1-800-847-5515

Her dreams ended six years ago with the car accident that killed her mom and turned her dad into a paraplegic. Six years ago Augustina Fletcher was planning to go to an out of state graduate school; those dreams are dead along with her mother whom she loved and still misses. However, someone had to stay home in Missouri to care for her father and raise her younger sister Saphi. Though a teen at the time of the tragedy, Augustina did her best, but Saphi ran away anyway. In her twenties, Augustina feels old and tired as responsibility cripples her. Her salvation is routines and the nearby Mississippi River, which enables her to fantasize about floating away from her world. Now Saphi is back, but Augustina resents her fleeing while dumping all the work on her. She wonders if marriage to Colton is the right thing for her especially since she cannot stand his bossy mom and is not sure she loves him. Augustina considers just leaving town and let Saphi deal with responsibility not yet aware that her sister is a widow still in mourning. This is an insightful character study of a young woman who feels the weight of responsibly has caused her essence to vanish and to get it back she feels she must leave in order to find her own world, but that is no option for those left behind. Augustina is as a deep character as any recent novel has produced because the audience knows her as well as they know themselves. Her feelings of trapped hopelessness and despair with no future let alone present though only in her twenties make for a deep somewhat maudlin tale that will have readers compare their life situations to that of Augustina.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Picking Up the Pieces
Tammy L. Boulds
Whiskey Creek Press
P.O. Box 51052, Casper WY 82605
1593746121 $12.95

Love, friendship, trust, and gathering up the pieces of shattered lives are integral to Ms. Boulds' third book, a mystery romance. The setting is a small town in Illinois at the present time. Jena Madison, her husband Dean, and Luke Collins were inseparable friends through High School. Luke was Dean's best man when they married, and left to start a new life in Chicago soon after the wedding. Luke has always loved Jena in secret, and cannot bear to watch her happiness with Dean first hand. He becomes a policeman in Chicago and after several years attains the rank of Homicide Detective. Luke's life is lonely, except for his work. His love for Jena will not allow him to marry because every woman comes out second best in his heart.

Ten years after their wedding, Jena and Dean remain soulmates and have a happy marriage despite her inability to have children. Dean is solid and reliable, never late coming home from work and predictable as clockwork. When he's several hours late arriving home one night, Jena expects the worst. The arrival of a sheriff's deputy at the door confirms her fears. Dean has been killed in an accident. The love of her life is gone. Jena struggles to pick up the pieces and is just beginning to heal when she receives an anonymous letter saying Dean's death was not an accident. Local law enforcement ignores her request for investigation. With nowhere else to turn, she calls Luke Collins to assist in the investigation.

Luke is determined to help Jena in any way he can, but fears his emotions will get in the way. He knows from bitter experience that a broken heart can heal once, but can it heal twice? As he investigates the details of Dean's death, two things are obvious: Dean did not die accidentally, and he loves Jena as much as always, if not more. Her wounded vulnerability drives him wild as he fights to keep his feelings hidden. Jena is drawn to her old friend, but feels unfaithful to Dean's memory when desire for Luke surfaces.Luke and Jena are appealing characters and the sexual tension between them crackles. Enhancing the love story are several unexpected twists and turns of plot as the mystery surrounding Dean's death unfolds. If you enjoy a spicy love story with mystery thrown in, give Picking Up the Pieces a read.

Some Hero of the Past
Greg Kosmicki
Word Press
P.O. Box 541106, Cincinnati OH 45254-1106
1933456337 $17.00

Greg Kosmicki has been around as a poet since the seventies. He's written about everything from marital passion, to being a UPS truck driver, to watching his children grow, to the natural wonders of Nebraska. With every book, Kosmicki's humor and humanity shine through like a friendly beacon on a foggy night. Even topics of anger and depression leave a warm impression of the man sitting in his kitchen late at night, crafting words while listening to cars passing and crickets chirping or wind blowing. When Kosmicki crafts a poem, even dead bugs can be perceived as a gift. In "Tearing Down a Building," Kosmicki translates the loss of an old building into the losses of every man:

…loss, losing things, that pain, destruction,
tearing down instead of building up,
throwing out instead of re-using,
the sorrow you feel when you see someone throw out
an old coat, a washing machine, a pair of shoes.
Maybe that building coming down reminded me
of my death somehow, ugly as it was, even
though I knew something more beautiful
was going to rise in its place."

A Swiss Cheese Poem" is Kosmicki's tongue-in-cheek humor at its best. He does admit that his theories could be full of holes:

….So if the State of Nebraska wants the value of
this poem when I become famous for having written it, then the
State may have it. Since as a poem it's completely worthless
anyway, as we all know…..

Although written simply and clearly so every reader can understand his poems, Kosmicki often thinks in deeply philosophical ways about his world. In "June Day" for example, he asks this question:

can the rain really bring us home
from the wild fields we tarnished?

This poet praises and considers small blessings. These excerpts from "OK," tell us much about the man who wrote them:

I woke up this morning having slept in late and no one
I know has been killed or sniped at or blown to bits.

Cold comes and the wind blows and we still go on
we're hardy descendents of people who stayed here some of us
European, some of us African, some of us from Asia some from
right here who have never left.

Because these are things to praise let us praise them.

Greg Kosmicki gets his wish in this book. His words truly are as "strong and purposeful as a handmade tool." His humor often moves me to tears, and his anger sometimes makes me laugh. Finally, this book is worth every penny for one poem I did not quote -- "Silver Tooth" – which epitomizes the wonder of Kosmicki's poetry. His work is highly recommended.

Crossing Nebraska
James Hobbs
Bellowing Ark Press
P.O. Box 55564 Shoreline WA 98155
9780944920541 $12.00

James Hobbs is a native of York, Nebraska, now living and working in Colorado. His writings are inspired by Frost, Stuart, Ginsberg, Steinbeck, and of course, Willa Cather. Like Cather before him, Hobbs understands that humans are "a part of something bigger…" To him, that something bigger is Nebraska, a place of open spaces where "...the land seems to stretch and breathe," a land Hobbs reveres in heart and spirit. That reverence for Nebraska is gloriously memorialized through poetry and prose in his debut book. Nebraska weather has often been the butt of jokes from folks in other places. Hobbs sees changing seasons in the Great Plains with loving eyes. In "A Son of the Great Plains," for example, he shares the fall season as it has been in the plains for millennia:

I am from quiet October, Indian summer and
the blood-red harvest moon.

With humor typical of native plains dwellers, he remembers Nebraska winds in "Crossing Nebraska Summer 2004:

" wife remarked that the wind was bending
some tree tops almost to the ground, and I told
her about the old folktale about how "the wind
stopped blowing in Nebraska one day, and all
the chickens fell over..."

Yes, the wind blows through every season in Nebraska, carrying with it the ghosts of ancestors, native people, and bird migrations that have not changed for thousands of years. "March Across Nebraska 2002" is best read and contemplated in its entirety. I quote one excerpt here:

There is always the fearsome wind blowing
the russet prairie dust, like flecks of blood,
to grind into your cold, draping clothes
as you stand under March skies filled with the
overhead cries of cranes circling, getting ready
to land as they have done for centuries and centuries
coming home for a stay along the Platte River…
and if you drop your gaze from under these early
Spring, snow skies, you can follow the slanted
sunset light against the river bank, the water blue
in the channel and the river bushes burning gold…

In ancient times, Nebraska was an inland sea. Seas of waving grasses replaced broad waters, but memories of primordial tides linger in the earth. This excerpt from "Merciful Lord of Poetry" is a stunning reminder of Nebraska's cumulative past and present:

I feel these sounds, the rhythms, the recurring breakers of the sea,
the waving fields of wheat, the pull of emotions, and I believe this
is what vibrates in me as I bend to the sounds that come to me –
whether they hallow or haunt me, they elevate my soul, just like
the wind of a thunderstorm beats down a tree, then releases it like
a tuning fork with a shudder of flying pellets of fierce rain…

Nebraska is a land of river highways, carrying native tribes, early European explorers, and finally settlers in search of freedom. What stories the Platte River could tell as it meanders slowly and peacefully across this land of flat waters. Hobbs memorializes the Platte in "Another River Bend:"

......When you've seen it, you can
taste the Platte – you know that river, its mark and
look...and it's a recurring picture of that ox-bow
in winter, shallow snow and ice-clog heap, and
you know that river in spring, the water rushing
lush green in the channels and the chestnut
sandbars shining like loaves of fresh baked bread –
and you know that river that is ever there...

James Hobbs' writing here is personal, powerful, and profound. Crossing Nebraska is a stunning paean to home, family, friends, love, loss, and a state outsiders imagine being flat and featureless. Hobbs' intimate recollections of his home state are beautiful, and highly recommended.

Vibrant Source
Theresa L.S. Krenz
Shadows Ink Publications
1209 Milwaukee Street, Excelsior Springs MO 64024
1932447636 $6.95

Theresa Krenz is a certified biofeedback therapist who takes a holistic view of life. Through her gift of writing prose and poetry, that holistic view delivers healing, compassion, and hope. "My Daughter Will Remember Your Daughter" is a touching poem about two flight attendants, one who died on 9/11 and her gold flight attendant wings were found in the wreckage. The poem is a poignant paean to courage and memories that sustain us beyond death. I quote the last verse here:

Yes, these wings carry on the mission at hand,
Giving us a legacy to understand
When sorrow is mixed with grace.
There is an anchor we can trace
To the value of a daughter's face.

"The Horse" is a tribute to this beautiful animal that man tames for his own use. Still, somewhere in distant memory, the horse remembers being free, as in this excerpt:

The horse,
Majestic within my aura,
Communicated with a language
Ancient as the stars of Pleiades.

The human passage through life is often dangerous and frightening. This excerpt from "Beware" encourages us to be strong and walk with hope:

Yes, all it takes is a reach up,
A seeing when no one else can,
A vision felt,
A faint beam from the lighthouse.
History can be changed
When dark clouds shutter the path
Of the favorable fork in the road….

"Patrick" tells the story of a young boy, victim of a hard life and the unkind games children sometimes play. This brief excerpt from Ms. Krenz' fine poem about an unfortunate boy reveals her heart:

The outside world thinks the face tells the whole picture,
but there are wrinkles under the folds that cover
cords across our hearts that blend in unseen.

In addition to poetry Ms. Krenz offers two exceptional short stories. "The Juggler" is a parable that reminds us to shine where we are planted. In "Lilies of the Field" we learn that one heart can create a haven that carries on in another's memory. Theresa Krenz is a healer who believes in a Vibrant Source and shares that power through poetry and prose. Her readers reap the harvest of this writer's creativity, compassion and strength.

Challenging the Muse
Andrea Dietrich
Shadows Ink Publications
1209 Milwaukee Street, Excelsior Springs MO 64024
1932447725 $6.95

Andrea Dietrich is a prize-winning poet who welcomes and embraces poetic challenges. As Ms. Dietrich expands her knowledge of poetry styles, she is also generous in her support and advice to fellow poets. Included in this chapbook are examples of kyrielle, etheree, villanelle, quatrain, pantoum, rondeau, sonnet, and madrigal, all forms she crafts with precise attention to detail. Appropriately, Ms. Dietrich begins with a poem titled "The Power of Words," from which I chose this excerpt:

So whether they be dull or cast a spell,
we learn and grow if we digest them well.
And whether they be heard or signed or read,
it's by the power of words mankind is led.

I particularly enjoyed "What My Dark Knight Wrought." The poet's knight is rakish and cocksure, an alluring temptation his lady can barely resist. I quote the final verse here:

Could passion that he breathed have been my cure?
Unlikely….but I reveled in the ache.
My love for him I'd finally abjure,
But what my dark knight wrought will long endure.

"She's Breakable" is an exceptional poem comparing two women in love with the same man. This is the sort of poem that must be read and contemplated in its entirety but I chose one excerpt in example:

A willow frail, she cries too easily.
She's sapping you; she'll never let you be.
She's fragile glass that you must not let fall.
Yet here I stand, prepared to give you all!
I'm durable; you cannot shatter me.
She's breakable.

"Talking to You" is a touching tribute to a woman as beautiful in old age as she was in youth:

When I talk to you….I'm talking to the air.
It smells of antiseptics, and today your room
is stifling. I push you in your wheelchair to
the garden, where breath of spring awaits us.
I talk to you, but we do not converse. I look
into your eyes grown pale. Their empty stare
seems fixed upon the roses. I gently pluck
one up – a crimson rose in bloom – and
place it in your thinning snow white hair.

"Characters of Narratives: Life 101" is an accurate study of the people we meet in life. All are distinct in personality and presentation. I chose one excerpt from this poem by a wisely observant poet:

A few, by fate and nature not so blessed, court insanity,
or at the very least, create confusion
with crises that seem to come unceasingly
yet never seem to have a resolution.

Classic styles of poetry seem to have lost favor with modern poets, possibly because creating stories in effective rhyme and cadence is difficult. Andrea Dietrich is a modern poet who celebrates the classic styles, and does it very well.

Dream With Me
Emily Romano
Shadows Ink Publications
1209 Milwaukee Street, Excelsior Springs MO 64024
1932447806 $6.95

Emily Romano is a prolific poet and artist whose abilities are considerable. Illustrations enhancing her poetry range from whimsical to delightful, with a "folk art" impression over all. Whatever form it takes, her poetry is pleasing and uplifting. These are words of a dreamer, an eternal optimist who's lived many decades and still sees life as wonderful and beautiful.This excerpt from "Embryonic Dreams" is a perfect example of Romano's use of sound, rhyme, and cadence in the crafting of poetry:

An embryonic dream
Born of intuition
Or imagination,
Soon a declaration
of intent, it flowers.

"Peculiar Dream" is pure whimsy. I laughed like a child while reading it and will quote the entire poem so readers of this review can enjoy it too:

I had a dream of llamas
All wearing silk pajamas,
Except for one….quite shocking….
Who wore a pale green stocking, AND NOTHING ELSE!

I wore a coat, well fitted,
Which I myself had knitted,
In shades of blue quite stunning
And really quite becoming,
With many belts.

We went aboard a ferry
And soon were all quite merry
While drinking pints of sherry,
And eating smelts.

The ferry started rocking,
The llama tore his stocking,
But what was still more shocking,
I awoke with welts!

Nothing expresses Romano's philosophy better than "A True Believer." This poet and artist melds childlike wonder, joy, hope, and exuberance in amazing ways. I'll end the review with a poem:

I'm proud to say it….
I believe in dreams;
A dream can be a lifeboat
On the sea of imagination;
It can carry you to safety,
Or to the outmost realm of stars.
It is your choice,
You dream the dream.

Firsthand Stories A Collection of Flash Stories
Emily Romano
Shadows Ink Publications
1209 Milwaukee Street, Excelsior Springs MO 64024
1932447652 $6.95

Emily Romano is a writer and poet who's seen decades of life first hand. This collection of 33 entertaining stories reflects her compassion, empathy, and humor. The stories are as varied in topic as Ms. Romano's imagination. Due to space limitations I can't discuss each story separately so picked several at random for review.

Two main characters connect "Wolf," "Second Meeting," and "Confrontation." Curly seeks shelter from the weather in a cave and wakes up to discover a lonely wolf has shared his campfire. An unspoken kinship develops over time between two mate-less creatures.

"Lazarus" is the absolutely stunning tale of an old cat. Arthritic, rheumy-eyed, with a mangled ear from some youthful confrontation, Lazarus has escaped the grim reaper more than once. He's earned a bit of peace resting in the sun, dreaming of mice and sparrows.

"The Colors of Love" focuses in unusual ways on how humans express caring. Hertha's hands are red from hot dishwater. Mabel supports her family by picking oranges. Henry brightens a dreary world by painting office walls yellow. A grocer arranges pears that are green-skinned and blemish-less to please his customers. This story was short but incredibly sweet.

"The Garden" is a cautionary tale of a stingy woman who does not pay a tramp fairly for his labors. She reaps what she's sown, but does she really understand the lesson?

In addition to wild flowers and butterflies, a young woman discovers a "Meadow Surprise" and her lonely life is transformed. This is an uplifting, happy story, well written.

Arthur wears an old hat to a costume party. He feels transformed by "The Tricky Hat" and transported to another era. But what do his fellow partygoers think of his costume?

Writing flash fiction can be difficult but Emily Romano makes the task seem simple. Her stories have a beginning, middle, and end, plus unexpected twists and life lessons. Whether poignant or happy, these stories are well worth reading.

Hidden in Plain Sight
Terri Verrette
Shadows Ink Publications
1209 Milwaukee Street, Excelsior Springs MO 64024
1932447717 $6.95

The word that comes to mind when describing this lovely chapbook is "graceful." From the esthetically pleasing cover art to the poetry inside, the experience is one of soothing grace. Ms. Verrette communicates simply, with carefully chosen words. "Learning to Walk (in heels)" is a poignant retrospective of life's lessons, the good and the bad. Maturity comes at a price:

I have walked in defeat
from the threshing floor when
the laughter and tears of my darkness
found no hope of release.

"High Country" is a beautifully rendered metaphor – a location and an emotional condition whereby the poet assimilates the locale and vice versa:

The wind here breathes hot or
cold but always dry.
Feel yourself evaporate to a
small tight shadow.
Shifting light across the rocky scape
calls your eye to sharp contrast, and you think of the
pain that flows from loving.

When a marriage dies, and something sacred shatters, how can a human describe that fracture? Ms. Verrette captures the loss in this haunting excerpt from the poem, "Marking the Moment:"

It comes as a slap of betrayal,
sharp sting of bitter words,
and occupation by hostile emotions
carting away our treasures in the night.
Hearts cling to the hope of life.
But no one can span the gulf of unseen death
when bone of bone is shattered.

Devoted lovers communicate through their senses and words. For those who love deeply, the rush of emotions can be overwhelming. Consider this excerpt from "Skin Talk" for example:

I want to tell you something so true
it will break, something so real
it will burn, something so holy
that sacrifice will cease.

Terri Verrette gives her readers "poems of stone….solid as Stonehenge." Through her skillful use of words, we experience love and loss, humor and whimsy. This is an exceptional collection of poems and highly recommended.

Random Elements
Susan Sanchez-Barnett
Shadows Ink Publications
1209 Milwaukee Street, Excelsior Springs MO 64024
1932447784 6.95

Poetry in America is not dead. Shadows Ink proves that poetry is very much alive and thriving with every distinctive chapbook they publish. Personally, each new book of poetry I review teaches me something about myself and life. In Random Elements, for example, the poet introduced two forms of poetry unfamiliar to me -- rictameter and lanturne chain – but she's equally adept creating haiku, etheree, acrostic, and free form."Meditation of a Meadow" is haiku, simple and evocative:

tasseled tufts murmur
a farewell to the golden
embrace of the sun

"The Sidewalk" is an entertaining, imaginative metaphorical poem written from the sidewalk's perspective. I quote one verse in excerpt:

Countless lives tread upon my being daily,
With no thought what holds them upright.
Made from the restless eons of rock,
Ground up and poured out of their might.

This excerpt from "Dance of the Dolphins" communicates the joyous exuberance these creatures of the deep find in their simple existence:

They race together, through the cerulean course
Bouncing patterns of buoyant poise
Spinning down spirals of endless seas
Each dolphin transformed into an ocean flyer.

In this chapbook celebrating the random elements of earth, air, fire, water, and love, Ms. Sanchez-Barnett takes her readers to those undiscovered vistas vibrating within the human spirit. Colorful cover art by CarrieAnn Thunell pleases the reader's eye and captures beautifully the contents of this fine chapbook.

Reflection: Poems of Faith
Larry Vern Newman
Shadows Ink Publications
1209 Milwaukee Street, Excelsior Springs MO 64024
1932447644 $6.95

Larry Vern Newman is a man raised in faith from birth and a retired minister whose poetry praises and honors God, the giver of all life. He writes in a variety of poetic styles as he reflects on the world, his faith, and his Lord. "Balances, Expenses, Profit, & Loss" is one of my favorites because of the poem's structure and sentiment. I quote one verse here:

The balance, expenses, the profit & loss
Look different, redundant, when viewed through the cross.
For Jesus accounting is not just a game,
He's cancelled all debts and what others would claim.
I'm sorry, he said, when I asked about mine,
You have none, but with you I'm sure that is fine.
We have only one that is open you see, And that's for my Father, my Father and me.

"Forgiving" is a tender demonstration of how God wants humans to behave towards each other. I chose one brief excerpt from this fine poem in example:

Friend, don't you see forgetting is part
Of releasing the soul and freeing the heart.
Without the forgetting forgiving can't start.

"Son of Man" is a delightful word picture of Jesus the man, lest we forget He was fully human:

Worker of wood, this Mary's son,
Is he creator, the holy one?
Sent by the Father, with us to stand,
Calling us brother, taking our hand?

"Words" is a stark but humorous commentary on rhetoric – words – spewed by talking heads, news anchors, and politicians. Consider this excerpt:

Anchors, once used to hold against a rising tide
now wax eloquent with fluent verbiage as meaningless
as their miscued name, are now the tide themselves
inundating with a flood of inane and hollow prattle.

Christian believers live in the real world and must work, breathe, and make sense of what they see around them every day, just like their fellow humans. Newman's sensible and compassionate poetry is a gift from his heart to yours.

Shari O'Brien
Shadows Ink Publications
1209 Milwaukee Street, Excelsior Springs MO 64024
1932447660 $6.95

Ms. O'Brien is an award-winning poet whose work has appeared in numerous journals. This chapbook is a compilation of her early poems in which she lets her mind wander through seasons of a poet's spirit. She's equally adept poetically, whether sharing humor or pain. The poetic Muse can be a brutal taskmaster. Sometimes she hides, refusing to cooperate. Other times she prods the poet as would a familiar friend. Consider this excerpt:

If something's on her little mind,
she will not wait to talk,
But rudely rushes in on me,
Regardless of the clock.

She jealously pursues my thoughts
With two brainstorms in hand,
Relentlessly confronting me
With selfish new demands.

"Insomnia" is a tasty metaphorical broth, describing exactly the curse of not sleeping:

Wakefulness is a beast of the Badlands,
A predator in feverish pursuit,
A reptile who by dawn will devour me,
Gulping me down and spitting out my bones
To dry in the light of day.

"Late Afternoon in Sedona" is a fitting paean to Nature's wonder. Faced with such a glorious landscape, "a poet cowers… impotent:"

What architect built these mighty towers?
Whose brush could paint so grand a landscape?
In the shadow of the artisan,
Humanity's greatest genius quails.

"The Four Seasons" is a beautiful, poignant poem memorializing a lost loved one. This poem is best read in its entirety, but I chose one verse in excerpt as an example of this fine work:

Or that, when winter relaxed its brutal,
Frostbitten stranglehold from the earth's blue,
Raw, ice-jammed throat, then I would catch my breath,
As if I could breathe somehow without you.

Shari O'Brien makes magic out of the everyday happenings of life. To paraphrase two lines from "The Garden in the Ghetto," she cultivates circumstance and makes a garden with what she has.

Moon, Trumpet and Guitar
Kathleen Adcock
Shadows Ink Publications
1209 Milwaukee Str., Excelsior Springs MO 64024
no ISBN $6.95

The poetry of Kathleen Adcock has been featured in numerous journals and five previous books of poetry. Her work in this book is rich with emotion – love, loss, sorrow, joy – and delightful musings on the human existence. For example, in "First Visits" Adcock remembers her first year with the man she loves. We meet family, share concerns and triumphs, and the poet leaves us with this:

A year from those visits
you lost your mother, and I my father.
Soon we wove our own hearth.
Two embers slipped from the tea-cozy fires,
tongs and splintered wood.

Adcock's love for her husband is a strong thread woven throughout this book. I quote one excerpt from "Setting the Scene:"

from one palette
you stretch pieces
of the day like film
wound on a reel,
paint a smile as big
as yours, while I nuzzle
your sandy cheek,
savor the bristles' hint
of mint and musk.

In "Tiny Sister Doll" the poet memorializes the death of her sister. The occurrence is sad but the poem's tone triumphant:

Face of a child with close-shorn hair
tossing side-to-side, hand scratching at skin,
pushing away the cool, wet cloth.
We let you go, a Friday, sun
straining through the shutters.

Adcock is a poet inspired by people, places, and the ordinary blessings of every day. From childhood to the present day, she shares pieces of her life in beautiful ways. To quote the final lines of "Talking With the Mouth Full:"

Some bones
stay buried.
Some rise Phoenix-like.

Thank you for sharing these wonderful bones, Ms. Adcock.

Death Settled Well
S. Thomas Summers
Shadows Ink Publications
1209 Milwaukee Street, Excelsior Springs MO 64024
1932447768 $6.95

Shadows Ink consistently publishes high quality chapbooks with visually stunning full color covers. Both cover and content of Death Settled Well are exquisite. Summers' use of language is imaginative and his metaphors often powerful. Critics have called him a poet with range, focus, and brutal honesty. Poetry editors must agree with that assessment because his work has appeared in many journals."Poets" introduces readers to Summers' poetry and serves as fitting harbinger for what will follow. I quote an excerpt here:

These are the gods
who prick their fingers
on rusty nails and show

me how to bleed, who
dance with the ghosts
of dead fathers as grief

falls from the rafters,
dusts the air….

This excerpt from "Scavenger Lost" paints an unusual picture for readers through metaphor:

How strange to see this buzzard
scratching its talons across
the green-shingled roof that overlooks

the pond, wings hunched like arthritic
shoulders, hands buried deep
in dark pockets. His face, a twisted

radish, gazes up through the blue….

"Methuselah Knew" brings that Old Testament patriarch to life. This excerpt shows him to be a man at ease with himself and the ghosts of a long life:

Methuselah avoided stepping on ants,
understood the worth of a thick beard. His memory pocketed friends
like specks of jasper and gypsum.
He polished them at twilight
recalling the strength of their handshakes,
the slant of their smiles.

"Intimations on Mortality by Linus Van Pelt" is an imaginative memorial to an aging Snoopy. What if our intrepid canine hero should die? Will we remember his playful past, the pretend wars he fought?

His war will end soon.
We'll bury him at dusk
besides his splintered red
house. Schroeder will bring
his piano, play Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.
Charlie, Lucy, and Sally will wait
for me to say something comforting and wise.

From the unanticipated death of a frog and the loss of a comic strip dog, to the dying leaves of fall and Methuselah contemplating the ghosts of dead sons and friends, Summers writes of death and loss. That he does it with humor and clear-eyed compassion is a tribute to his skill as poet. This chapbook is exceptional and highly recommended.

Hazy Expressions
Katrina Guarascio
Powerscore Press
no mailing address – internet only
No ISBN $5.00 chapbook

Katrina Guarascio is a teacher, student, poet and editor whose work has appeared in online and hard copy journals. Hazy Expressions is her first chapbook publication. This poet writes with clarity about her past, present, and the world she sees around her. Readers see through her eyes, feel with her senses. This excerpt from "Campfire" is the perfect example of that statement:

blue night creeps
over lake water
smoke eats away at my eyes
and across the dim
I see you

In "Late Summer Rain" the poet shares with readers a thunderstorm in all its power and beauty. I quote a brief excerpt here:

Lightning comes on summer afternoons,
the quiet violence of a forgotten lord.

She watches the sky cloud
and counts the seconds until the thunder comes.

Consider the first few lines of "These Flowers." The words are simple but share a breathtaking truth with readers:

These flowers are not so blue
that they drain the radiance from
your smile.

"Billy's" is one of my favorites in this chapbook because it tells a story with biting wit and sly vision. At Billy's we can escape for awhile:

This is your neighborhood bar.
It is not your life,
these people are not friends,
and a celery stick and lime
do not constitute dinner.
This is the hole in the wall
of the hole in the wall.
It is the place where you hide from
the two o'clock sunshine,
the a**holes at work, and
the fresh scent of pine.

"VanGogh's Amsterdam" is an imaginative ekphrastic piece, written from the poet's sensual appreciation of the master's art. I chose one excerpt to clarify my point:

Show me the ripples in shivering water,
gripping the boats
under the Langlois bridge.
Show me purple irises painted in pieces,
then smeared, melted, and relaxed into each

I enjoy poetry that tells an appealing story and shares pieces of the poet's life with me. Katrina Guarascio excels at both. This first chapbook makes a fine beginning and I look forward to reading future work.

Miss Understanding
Stephanie Lessing
Avon Trade Division
HarperCollins Publishers Inc.
10 East 53rd Street, New York NY 10022
0061133884 $12.95

Since this is my first experience reviewing Stephanie Lessing's work, I had no preconceived ideas of what to expect. From page one, this book was a delightful read. Ms. Lessing combines dark realities with enchanting humor effortlessly. Her main character, Zoe Rose, is one of the most effective female protagonists I've met lately. Look around you. Zoe could be you, your friends, or any other woman you know who does not look like a walking advertisement for stick-thin models or movie stars.

Zoe Rose has no desire to decorate her apartment with pricey accouterments and no need for a yuppie wardrobe. At 4'11, with bright red out-of-control hair and a big bosom, she doesn't exactly blend in, no matter what she wears. To Zoe's way of thinking, that she's living with a Republican makes her the biggest hypocrite she knows. She tends to be opinionated, a shade neurotic and obsessive about her health, but has her priorities in order. She loves her fiance Michael and enjoys a close relationship with her sister Chloe. Since childhood, she's wondered what makes females tick. Why are they so cruel to their less popular, less stylish counterparts? Zoe gets the opportunity to explore those questions when the editor of Issues magazine contracts with her to change the focus of his publication from make up, expensive clothes and beauty to the serious issues faced by women every day.

Zoe's editorial plans are sabotaged from the beginning by an office full of women who operate more like a terrorist network. She's hit full force by the exact underhanded female tactics she hopes to change. On her side are sister Chloe, now married to Dan Princely, editor-in-chief of Issues magazine; Princely himself; and an old friend from the past who handles publicity for Issues. Everyone else in the office undermines Zoe, ridicules her clothes and looks, and blatantly refuses to cooperate with Princely's plans to change his magazine.

Miss Understanding is a fine blending of uproarious humor and serious human issues. The characters seem familiar because we've known women just like them in the workplace. Lessing strikes an effective psychological balance in her writing and zeroes in on topics we've all experienced first hand. I understand now why her books are so popular.

The Mermaids Singing
Joyce S. Anderson
P.O. Box 151, Frederick MD 21705
1424156238 $19.95

As she did in her previous three books, Ms. Anderson entertains and enlightens readers through the lives of intelligent, capable women. Her richly developed, multi-layered protagonists live, love, laugh and suffer as they raise their children, struggle with marital problems, and strive to excel in the work place. All Ms. Anderson's novels made interesting reading, but this one may just be her best book yet. Marie Langan is a doctor of bio-ethics who loves her work. This stylish, intelligent woman, born with a fearless streak, excels at her position. Her husband Ted Sandow is a charming, respected oncologist. Life might be perfect, if not for Ted's predictable pattern of infidelity. Marie adores Ted and shrugs off his dalliances, until he zeroes in on an old college chum.

Susan Cummings Baker is a successful writer. Susan is beautiful and passionate about everything in life, especially her handsome trophy husband David, also a writer. Both work at home and enjoy such togetherness. Susan is happy in her second marriage, until she meets the charming, charismatic husband of her old classmate Marie Langan. Gloria Simon is a lonely widow whose life has been devoted to raising three children, maintaining a pleasant home, and tending her flower gardens. Her job as volunteer at the local library fills empty hours, but is less than satisfying. Gloria needs a challenge. With the support and encouragement of Marie and Susan, she applies for and gets a position with Evan Stark, of Stark Educational Research.

This book is about women who know their strengths, but sometimes need a catalyst to veer them from familiar paths. Some changes are traumatic; others enrich their lives, as Marie, Susan, and Gloria transform the debits in their world into credits. I enjoyed this book from start to finish as Ms. Anderson shines a revelatory light on the female psyche. All females everywhere will find encouragement in The Mermaids Singing, regardless of their lot in life. The ultimate message is that anything is possible when a woman puts mind, heart, and energy into her goals.

Drag Lines
Patrick Hicks
Lone Willow Press
P.O. Box 31647, Omaha NE 68313-0647
no ISBN $7.95

Like the delicate draglines connecting spiderlings to their nest, Patrick Hicks connects us all to his thoughts. We have no control over the directions he leads us, but his words – these fragile draglines -- make sense of past and present chaos. Tenderly, inexorably, he reveals the world through his eyes and words. In "Lipstick Traces" he imagines the ancestors that made his existence possible:

But when I go back further,
beyond the dating of my grandparents,
and I salmon-swim through the current
of centuries, I see a school of unknown
relatives that had to love and lust,
without deviation, for me to exist as I do.

"Silence" is a poignant contemplation of the death camp Bergen-Belsen. I chose one verse in excerpt:

Locked beneath my feet
is a deep puzzle of skeletons –
their eyes are vacant and angry.
The clouds above, those same swirls
that cradled the crematory smoke,
let fall their memory of rain.
It moistens the drowsy earth,
mists a foggy fragrance.

"History Lessons" is a powerful commentary on war, written in four parts. The history of war haunts us, a hungry spectre:

while poppies bloomed,
and telegrams whispered to mothers,
the sun baked away the shadows,
already preparing for the next generation.

"Untitled" skillfully presents the poet's thoughts on 9/11. An eloquent poem records Hicks' anguish as he tries to capture the "mangled silence" of that awful day. In the end, strike throughs eliminate the poem and Hicks leaves us with this:

This is the only poem I have written
which captures that day in September:

"Against Hibernation" reflects perfectly the poetic process and how this poet creates:

As I dream these spirits into words,
I know only the rising moon,
the ticking of a windowsill clock,
and I wonder about our memories,
the ones that have scurried away
to hibernate in the dark.

I like the delicate touch evident in Hicks' poems. Regardless of topic, Hicks demonstrates the innate compassion present in the human spirit. Drag Lines addresses human concerns and sorrows, but leaves the reader oddly comforted in the process. Very well done.

The Violinist and Other Selected Poems
Ed Galing
The Poetry Collection
3435 Mill Road, Hatboro PA 19040
No ISBN $5.00

At near-ninety years of age, Ed Galing is a Pushcart nominee and the official Poet Laureate of Hatboro PA. He's authored numerous chapbooks and his poetry has been featured in just about any poetry journal you can name. His work is a virtual monument to America as it is and was. In fact, because of their content and appearance, his chapbooks could be described as folk art. Galing bypasses amenities and goes straight for the heart in his work.

In this latest chapbook, readers will find paeans to the phenomenal Gene Krupa and Fats Waller as seen through Galing's eyes in their glory days. And as always, the poet memorializes sweet years of his youth, memories of his parents, his father's violin music. One of my favorites in this chapbook is "Marathon," a long poem about a dance marathon during the Depression years. This poem is almost like being there on the dance floor. Galing has seen it all during his long life and documents his experiences with clear eyes. For example, in this excerpt from "The Heyday" he remembers burlesque and makes a valid social commentary:

burlesque died a
gasping breath

when the floodgates

and civil liberty
took a different turn.

This excerpt from "Retrenchment" tells a too-familiar story of workers in America. It was true when Galing was young and struggling, and doubly true today:

that's what you get from
those in power,
controlling workers' lives
hour by hour.

and when they're finished,
they spit you out,
and that's what democracy
is all about.

Whether social or personal, Galing shows life like it is based on eighty-plus years of experience.

Rooftops A Poetry Collection
Ed Galing
The Poetry Collection
3435 Mill Road, Hatboro PA 19040
no ISBN $5.00

I've been reviewing Ed Galing's chapbooks for a year now and have one bit of advice for readers: Galing is nearing ninety years old and still going strong so discover him while you can. His chapbooks aren't pretty or polished, but good things often come in unassuming packages.

Galing grew up poor, the son of immigrants who lived in a three room, fifth floor apartment on New York's lower east side. Rooftops, fire escapes, and the crowded streets of Delancey were his playground. His memories of New York City in those years are priceless. Through poetry, his memories of riding the elevated train and the sights and smells of the Fulton Fish Market are recorded for history. From delectable food smells at the neighborhood Jewish deli, to riding a death train into Germany as a G.I. in World War Two, to the horrifying reality of 9/11, Galing saw it all and shares those memories with readers. And he's not one bit bashful about sharing his opinions on social problems now or 80 years ago. One of my favorites in this collection is "The Poor Among Us" which I quote in its entirety here:

someone had told
an untruth

to put it bluntly

for in this land of

there was no money
lying on the

like the old fairy
tale had said

and all of the people
who had come over on
steerage suddenly

found that hard work
didn't necessarily mean

you weren't poor,

and there were so many
impoverished people of
all nationalities lying
in gutters, and begging
on corners

that it soon became
clear that nothing
was promised

in the promised land.

Galing's work can be found in many poetry journals, but he's still a relative unknown to poetry lovers. It's high time he was discovered.

A Horse of a Different Color
James M. Bellarosa
Rockford Writers' Guild Press
P.O. Box 858, Rockford IL 61105
0977903508 $12.95

Mr. Bellarosa is a Pushcart nominee whose short stories have appeared in many literary journals. He is a master of the fine and lethal art of conversation and uses irony as effectively as most writers use punctuation. In these fifteen stories, the author easily adapts the persona of his individual characters, enhancing my enjoyment of each scenario. I've chosen a random representation of the stories for review, but all are equally appealing.

In the Pushcart-nominated title story, a disarming sneak thief meets his match in a fledgling farmer who out thinks, out talks, and outwits him in the end. The dialog here is priceless. "Seduction" is the sly tale of a married man determined to stray, and the gullible object of his affection who falls for his sneaky tactics. When a marriage is on the rocks, pretenses eventually fail. "The Last Supper" picks up where "Seduction" leaves off, with the straying husband sparring with a wife who isn't as dumb or artless as he thought. "Monday" turns out to be the ultimate day from hell for a woman who richly deserves her troubles. Some people create their own fate."The Harvester" has a gift. He makes impressive pocket money betting on Death. Will he win or lose in the end? When an elderly man discovers his obituary in the morning paper, no one sympathizes with his outrage. But life has its own "Momentum" and Bellarosa gives this story a deliciously macabre twist. A worldly woman sets out to take advantage of a young man's "Innocence" and reaps a bitter harvest in return. Sometimes innocent intentions act as their own protective shield.

Provocative dialog is Mr. Bellarosa's forte. He brings his stories to memorable life through strong characters and witty, sly, well-crafted interactions between people. A Horse of a Different Color is exactly that, a standout in a crowded field.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

See Jane Run
Liz Brady
Second Story Press
20 Maud St., Suite 401, Toronto, ON CANADA M5V 2M5
1896764916 $15.95 CAN/$12.95 USA

Canadian writers are particularly good at mysteries...must be those Siberian winters they have to endure. Liz Brady ranks right at the top of mystery writers, having won the Crime Writers of Canada's annual Arthur Ellis award for her premier mystery, SUDDEN BLOW. Her second novel, BLIND DATE, carries on the Jane Yates saga to delighted audiences. Liz Brady is a feminist, Harley-riding Toronto resident who has been profiled on the mystery show "Mystery Ink" and who also attends motorcycle shows. Jane Yates loves her brand new Harley, named Maeve, hard drinking, and the memory of her perfect man, Peter Findley, who was found brutally murdered in a co-worker's apartment. Jane is jolted out of her six year destructive alcohol binge when her friend Sam Brewer, retired crime journalist, informs her that William Shortt was not responsible for one of the six murders connected to her boyfriend's case. That meant the probable murderer was still living a normal life in society, and that propels Jane into action. She dries up, works out, trades in her old bike for Maeve, and prepares to hunt down Pete's murderer with thoughts of retribution in mind:

"I was three days into boot camp. Every morning I exercised so rigorously that my body made short work of the organic produce I packed into it. My kidneys were even more efficient at processing the water I was drinking in place of beer. My liver must have been doing cartwheels. Temperance made it easier to limit myself to ten cigarettes a day, twenty less than my habitual intake. Keep my body and mind busy was essential to staying with the program."

SEE JANE RUN! is a delightful mix of diverse characters. There is Jane herself, who is a successful crime writer living off of royalties even as she dons the Harley attire to race after the destroyer of her life. Her mother, Etta, is the proprietress of a gritty bar, whose fierce love of her daughter manifests itself in Irish mythology. Jane's best friend is a large Canadian-Indian who lives large and is a successful lawyer. The action is non-stop; Jane's angst is as real as it comes; and the plot is superb. SEE JANE RUN! would be a welcome addition to any mystery lover's library. Liz Brady really knows how to spin a great yarn.

No Such Thing as a Good Blind Date
Shelly Fredman
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
1425953514 $15.95

Shelly Fredman is a former Philadelphian, now living in Canoga Park, California. Her first AuthorHouse mystery is entitled NO SUCH THING AS A SECRET. Fredman is a junior high teacher, as well as a mystery writer, and is building a reputation with her Brandy Alexander character. Brandy Alexander returns as the hapless detective in the newest installment of Fredman's NO SUCH THING series. Brandy has left her vacuous job as a fluff television reporter in California to return to her roots, buying her ancestral home and trying not to pine for her former love, Bobby DiCarlo, the cop. When her old friend and recent parolee, Toodie Ventura, moves in with her in exchange for plumbing duties, a refrigerator appears in the basement with a dismembered body. Toodie exits stage left, and it is up to Brandy to step up. Suddenly Brandy finds herself trying to prove Toodie's innocence, even as she is stalked by Bobby's crazy wife, Marie. Brandy can't even go on a blind date without getting herself into trouble, and life seems dire until the re-emergence of the fascinating Nick Santiago:

"'Don't worry, angel. I took care of it for you.' WHEW. 'I told him you were my woman.' OH MY GOD! This man is so unabashedly sexy he could recite names out of the Kama Sutra. Hearing him call me his 'woman' nearly sent me into orgasmic overdrive."

Fredman expands Brandy's collection of entertaining, exotic, and eccentric friends in this installment of the Brandy Alexander series, even as she ratchets up the action. Brandy is ever-independent, which invariably gets her into situations where she needs rescuing. But in the end, Brandy shows herself to be resourceful, heroic, and yes...a little on the angelic side. NO SUCH THING AS A GOOD BLIND DATE is a rip-roaring good time. This reviewer can't wait for the next installment of this most excellently written and plotted tale. The reader can't go wrong on this series, and just Fredman's descriptions of Brandy's men begs a website with pictures so that we can all swoon. Brandy is great fun. Keep up the great work!

A Prayer for Gershon Levin
M.K. Moulton
Rabid Press, Inc.
PO Box 4706, Horseshoe Bay, Texas 78657
097430395X $14.95

Muriel Moulton has had a distinguished career teaching at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, the Francis W. Parker School, and the University of Illinois-Chicago campus. She also taught in Israel at the University of Haifa. She has had experience working as a journalist and as a volunteer for Magen David Adom and the Citizens' Guard. Her work has appeared in scholarly journals such as THE HARVARD REVIEW, and in many mystery magazines, such as ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE. Someone murdered Gershon Levin, a holocaust survivor, with a cyanide pill, but the police and even his rabbi think he committed suicide...the most grievous sin for a Jew. Only Uri Levin, brother in arms from the concentration camp he and Gershon survived, knows better. He descends on Gershon's neighbor, Armand Holly, pulling him into a world of American Nazi activity that defies every decent ideal held by citizens of our country:

"It was precisely what Dorf had said it was. Page after page of memoranda and letters on Nazi Party stationery. The sheet with 'The Project. Trial Run. O.K.' scrawled across it, was there. And clippings. Neatly mounted, labeled and dated in Hallek's writing. Not a definitive collection. A selection, as Dorf had said. Among the clippings were six brief obituaries, four or five lines each. All six mounted together on a single sheet of paper. Labeled and dated in a handwriting they didn't recognize. There didn't seem to be any reason for them to be there."

Muriel Moulton is a teacher, an activist, and a heroine herself in the fight to keep the memory of the concentration camps alive. Never let them forget! She writes this dark tale in a brisk, no nonsense, understated style that glues the reader to the story. Her mixture of Nazism, then and now, paints a bleak picture of people with unreasonable and cruel beliefs who will never give up. The realism in this story can only be borne of experience, and Moulton's gift to us, besides a riveting tale, is the history of the holocaust. Plot, characters, action all follow upon the precept of disbelief. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Let us never forget, and let us revere those like Ms. Moulton who provide the gritty details of a time we would deny.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Nom De Plume
Toni LoTempio
Chippewa Publishing LLC
PO Box 662 Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin 54729
1933400579 $6.00

Casey Catherine Farraday has a dream that will soon become a reality in this quick paced down-to-earth enjoyable book by author Toni LoTempio. Casey may be a secretary by day but her heart is that of an author and our story begin when the famous McCarron Publishing company decides they want her new novel, Steam Heat.

However there is a problem that may well be the end of Casey's dreams instead of the beginning. June, Casey's agent, insisted that Casey use her initials instead of her full name and now editor Celia Dayton is pushing the novel thinking the author is a man and fully intending to exploit an author she apparently has taken an extreme interest in, just from the read. Now Casey and her agent must come up with a plan or face the possible rejection of her novel. To complicate the matter the owner of the publishing house has just passed and left everything to her playboy son Preston Frawley who is trying to turn his life around and make his mother's publishing house shine. Preston feels the story of this book is too close to the truth of his own life and his instincts tell him something isn't right with the author, but he doesn't know what it is. As fate would have it Preston and Casey meet neither knowing who the other is. What a monkey wrench this throws into the story as we travel along to the final showdown when Preston and Casey approach each other with the truth. Wow, what a mix of emotions.

Author Toni LoTempio has taken the age-old story of man meets woman and injected her own twist to bring a lively, fresh and absolutely enjoyable tale to life. She has colorful, interesting characters ,romance and mystery ,woes of deceit and even throws in the love of animals which I thought was a great add. This is a heartwarming story of a blooming love that leaves you with a smile on your face and the joy of believing dreams truly can come true despite some unnerving obstacles. Well done Ms. LoTempio!

Check Your Pride at the Door
Darryl D. Helems, Ph.D.
Infinity Publishing
1094 New Dehaven St., Suite 100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428
0741435039 $11.95

When I was asked to review this work I was quite interested as I have several friends who are dealing with the medical problem that this book addresses, IBD-inflammatory bowel disease. Our author Darryl Helems takes you on the journey of his life bringing you to the point when he felt his first symptoms of this disorder to the present, and his battle with the same.

I have to tell you; I never realized how serious this condition could become, nor the torment that those suffering from it experience. Not only with the disease itself but often with the treatment. Our author does an outstanding job in touching the emotional side along with the medical of this condition allowing you to realize the life of an IBD person. I will tell you this; I definitely will have more compassion on those who are suffering from IBD and understand the courage it takes for them to face and live each day with an often embarrassing misunderstood condition.

If you, or someone you love is suffering with IBD this book will be a jewel for you; and for those of you who are fortunate enough to never have had this touch your lives you would do well to read this work to understand just how fortunate you are. Hats off to Darryl D. Helems, who had the courage to discuss some hard phases of this disease and also offers some great tips to help you along the way. Good job!

The Dirt-Brown Derby
Ed Lynskey
Mundania Press
6470A Glenway Avenue #109, Cincinnatti, Ohio 45211-5222
1594262322 $12.00

Our main character, PI Frank Johnson, in this quick-witted fast paced mystery read is a no-nonsense, often coarse speaking man who says what he has to say and does what he has to do. Definitely the kind of man you may not want to bring home to meet the family but you would want on your side in any investigation.

PI Johnson is somewhat down on his luck financially so when he is hired by Mary Taliaferro, a very wealthy owner of a horse estate who forks over a hefty sum for his services, he simply cannot walk away although a murder investigation is not something he particularly wants to get into. Ms. Taliaferro's teenage daughter Emily has died, killed by her horse it is said. The police call it a horrible accident, Mary calls it murder and PI Johnson at first figures this will be a cut and dry case, but he is sadly mistaken. He quickly learns not all the characters in this town are what they appear to be, including Emily who PI Johnson learns was having an affair with her horse trainer who becomes a the prime suspect in PI Johnson's mind, that is until he turns up dead as well. All leads seem to come to a halt but Johnson will not give up even though the local Sheriff wants him out of town and he must deal with other local riff-raft who only complicate his life.

The plot and heat of this murder gets hotter by the page and the reader wonders just what did happen to Emily. The plot is twisted, as only a good mystery read would be, leading you here there and everywhere but to the truth; I don't think you'll guess the ending of this one.Frank is determined to find out the answer and in doing so putting his own life in grave danger. Quite a roller coaster read and one that will keep you glued to the pages from beginning to end.Mr. Lynskey does a great job in defining his characters and bringing them to life.From PI Johnson to the local Sheriff and townspeople, right down to Mary, Emily's mother, they are brought alive in your minds eye; and along with his descriptive clarity of the local you are able to bring the entire story to life visually which is always a plus in any read. Our author certainly is proving to be one top-notch writer in the mystery realm and has kept this reviewer satisfied with each work I have reviewed. Another good job Mr. Lynskey!

Itty & Bitty Friends on the Farm
Nancy Carpenter Czerw
McWitty Press
110 Riverside Dr.; 1A, New York, New York 10024
0975561839 $15.95

I have to say this is one delightful book that will warm the heart of child and adult. In this fun-filled read we meet Itty and Bitty, two miniature horses and we are taken along as they gallope through their day with their friends at Steele Away Farm. I giggled away as I turned the pages and saw the illustrations of these adorable guys playing hide and seek, sitting at the table having their dinner, and working-out. How cute is that? The illustrations in this book are definitely top of the line. Vivid in color and brimming with imagination that just screams out at you from the pages; and the storyline flows along with ease as the two team up to bring you an out of the box reading experience. I very highly recommend you purchase this book for the child you love and for the child in you. Exceptional!

Inside the Space Race
Dr. Lawrence E. Lamb
Synergy Books
2100 Kramer Lane, Suite 300, Austin, TX 78758
1933538392 $20.95

Our author, Dr. Lawrence E. Lamb is certainly one who has all the qualifications to write a book on this subject and leave you assured the information is correct and informative. A former national syndicated columnist, Dr. Lamb was a key scientist for our nation's man-in-space program and he also developed the medical examinations used to select the astronauts and others going to the moon. Quite a responsibility and one well done. As with all threads of history, there are always interesting behind the scene stories in given situations and this one is gripping as we learn how our government dealt with the Soviets' surprise launching of Sputnik and the following years of the space race. You will read of President Kennedy and the role he played however what I found most interesting was the 'up to the plate and hitting a home run' attitude and perseverance that Lyndon Johnson had in this entire race. I never realized the important role he played and I enjoyed the human side portrayed of him.

Inside the Space Race is an up-front look into a pinnacle time of history in our country, its people and events written in an informative, captivating way. As you close the cover you will realize you have gained a far greater understanding of the importance the space race is to our national security and you will be thankful for the strides forward we are continuing to make. You will appreciate the key players, the roles they took and the sacrifices they made. A very well written, informative read awaits you in this work by Dr. Lamb. Recommended.

Not on The Level
Michael Maddaloni
Authorhouse Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
1425908616 $14.49

Our main character Joe was born and raised in Philadelphia and we are swept into his entertaining and action packed life in this outstanding read by author Michael Maddaloni. Joe's dad died in WWII and Joe grew up in his grandparents home with his mom and sister and his two uncles Tony and Sal. We are taken through the life of Joe, his school years, military and Secret Service days and on to corporate business and I must admit the stories that he tells keep you fascinated and are quite interesting. We learn of greed, deceit, back-biting, corruption, and all that goes on in every aspect of life but I feel that the author was showing how these practices definitely mold people's characters and future depending on how they deal with it.

Through it all, to me, the stealers of the book were Uncle Tony and Uncle Sal who both had such an impact on Joe's life. Perhaps it is because I too had an Uncle Tony and an Uncle Sal who to this day I remember fondly. Not on the Level is a well written book that definitely holds your interest and stirs up many myriads of emotions. I believe you would do well to get your own copy for a very enjoyable read.

Scares of Silence
Mary Ann Worsham
Bridgeway Books
2100 Kramer Lane, Ste. 300, Austin, Texas 78758
1933538627 $16.95

In this work by author Mary Ann Worsham we find a typical American girl who, like most of us, believes in her heart for the fairy-tale marriage and life, but this woman would have to face unimaginable events that should only be found in a horror movie and never be in a real person's life. As her story unfolds our author takes us through her life and the many abuses that she endured through the hands of those who violated her rights as a person and took advantage of her soul; and the worse kind of abuses from those she loved and trusted. Mary Ann does not call herself a victim but a survivor and indeed she is. Overcoming workplace sexual harassment, physical abuse, accidents, acts of nature and attempted murder on her person, this woman has emerged as a strong beacon for those who are suffering some of the same to follow. A sobering read, but one I am sure that will help those that unfortunately follow in Mary Ann's footsteps as they too try to overcome the darkness that has shadowed their doors. I applaud our author and pray this book gets into the hands of those who need her strength and encouragement to help them also overcome and stand as yet another survivor.

Climbing the Ladder in Stilettos
Lynette Lewis
W Publishing Group
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 3724
100849901863 $21.99

Have you ever felt that you were running around in circles, getting nowhere in your job? Do advancements seem to go to others and frustration becomes your mind frame? Do you hate to get up in the morning and face a job that seems to be going nowhere? Women in the professional working world often face challenges that can zap the life out of them and leave them feeling discouraged and unfulfilled. They cringe as others work their way up the ladder of success while they battle for daily existence. Does this sound like you? If it does this book is for you. In this new work by author Lynette Lewis you will find strategies to help you succeed in the work force while allowing you to actually enjoy your work; isn't that a plus?

Our author tells stories from her own experiences and other women who have made it to the top of the ladder without compromising or demeaning themselves in anyway. Strategies that do not use unethical practices or ways that one day may come back and cause more harm than they ever did good. She breaks down her information into ten primary points that seem to be every working women's nightmare. Here you will find sound advice, practical and easy to implement flowing from the author to you in a down-to-earth matter leaving you feeling as though you just got up from having a cup of coffee with a good friend whose advise you will gladly receive. Climbing the Ladder in Stilettos is a book that will inspire and encourage you; filled with stories of success, overcoming adversities and challenges and brimming with practical proven answers that truly will make a difference in the world you live.

The Curse of Davy Jones
Disney Press
114 Fifth Avenue, New York New York
1423100263 $3.50

This is a short little book based on Disney's movie, "Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man's Chest." In this movie Captain Jack Sparrow made a deal with Davy Jones that if he gave him his soul he could be the captain of his own ship. Now Davy wants Jack to pay up on his end of the deal but Jack Sparrow has other ideas. This book is very colorful, chock full of great pictures from the movie and portraying a scene leaving you intent on knowing what will happen. It is a great bedtime story read. Very enjoyable for young and old.

Promises To Keep
DL Larson
Helm Publishing Co.
3923 Seward Avenue, Rockford, IL 61108
0977820564 $16.95

It is true that life never gives us the fairy tale existence that we so long for, but somewhere inside of us is a knowing, a strength to overcome the challenges that life places before us and to walk in what we know our destiny is. Such is what you will find in this outstanding novel by author DL Larson as we are taken into the lives of Annie Douglas and Christine Douglas Frailey.

Annie Douglas loves her husband but his life of gambling has taken its toll on her and she slips into the arms of another man who has waited all his life to claim Annie as his own. Annie's husband Joe knows the heartache that he has caused Annie and decides her life and his children's would be far better without him. Annie struggles to honor Joe's decision but despite her efforts she is unable to let go of the deep love and commitment she has for him. As she begins her journey to restore their marriage she faces an angry suitor, kidnappers and the worse obstacle of all, Joe's determination to free her of his curse. Christine loves Francis, her husband, but his strange behavior with her and his outward actions towards their son leaves her angry and frustrated. When she discovers he has a mistress she leaves but is drawn back and finds out a deep dark secret that has haunted her husband's life. To overcome the tragedy of this event will take all the courage and love Christine has within her as she literally puts her life on the line for her family.

In this outstanding novel DL Larson has skillfully woven the tale of a family, their struggles and their challenges. In her descriptive words she crafts a story that lays bare deep hidden secrets, desires and fears; in doing so she weaves within your heart the emotions and commitment that true love brings forth ,despite hideous obstacles that would make the pale run and never look back. You are joined with each member as the families bravely face these obstacles head-on, battle to overcome them and reach the victory they so long for. Promises To Keep is the story of life, good and bad; it's challenges and the hope of new beginnings. Excellent read!

The Journeyers
Neil Crawford
Helm Publishing
3923 Seward Avenue, Rockford, IL 61108
0977820548 $12.95

Andy Clay was the youngest of the Clay boys born to Marybelle and Thomas. His life was good in his Alabama home; fishing by the creek, courting a young girl and being part of a loving family was his lot until that faithful day when it would change forever. While traveling home from fishing Andy came upon Ben Reckeifus, a spoiled mean-spirited boy beating his slave Jonas almost to death. Andy, one who could not stand by and watch harm to an innocent person, tried to intervene which led to a terrible fight between himself and Ben. Ben ends up dead and his Ben's father, Caleb, swears to take the life of Andy in return. Andy's family learning of his plan sends their son on a trip to a relative in Memphis fleeing for his very life.

While on the way a killer, Ephraim Walker, whom Caleb Reckeifus has hired, tracks him down and just at the point of ending Andy's life Ephraim falls over dead, shot by a young girl named Cloris. Andy soon learns that 14-year old Cloris has also run away from a very sexually abusive father and is living alone in the woods. They become fast friends and Cloris joins Andy on his trip to Memphis. After reaching Memphis Andy and Cloris rescue a boy named George who has been taken captive by a very evil man Rango, and his two partners. These men had killed George's parents and his sister and took George on their ship committing horrible deeds with the young boy. George feels he owes Andy and Cloris his life and they all quickly bond into a deep friendship.

They soon decide to go to California and try their fate at finding gold. Once in California they pan for gold for a while, George finds a new talent to make considerable money and Andy almost loses his life before they decide to settle down and become farmers. All seems to go well until Rango and his men show-up and almost kill Cloris and George, and Andy receives his first letter from home. What a story.

I could go into detail on the many adventures of these three, the wonderful and scary people they meet along their travels and the bitter-sweet outcome of this outstanding novel, but believe me I would ruin an incredible treat of a read for you if I did. This is a book that has such outstanding main characters that you totally immerse yourself in them, feel their emotions and roll along with the story in a very personal way. The author's craft at bringing forth their inward hearts and binding them with yours is incredible and the way he blends the players along the way of their journey is top-notch. The locals are very descriptive which lends the reader's mind to full scale pictures that heighten the reading pleasure. Put it all together - descriptive characters, both those you love and those you hate, vivid mind pictures of local and one great story all make up for a book that is a real winner. This work absolutely has my highest recommendation. I loved it!

Fatal Laws
Jim M. Hansen
Dark Sky Publishing, Inc.
121 Bradley Street, Golden, Co. 80401
0976924366 $13.95

I wondered with great anticipation what I would find between the covers of Jim Hansen's new work, "Fatal Law." I have come to love detective Bryson Coventry, a Denver homicide detective who is one of the main players in each of our author's great works. Detective Coventry is soon faced with bodies turning up in shallow graves each killed in a different manner. Coventry, certainly faced with a dilemma, must find out if there is more than one killer running around or did just one killer like to change his murderous ways with each new victim. The hunt is on. It also seems our detective has become quite involved with a very wealthy, beautiful, mysterious lady who herself ,to his dismay, is under suspicion. You can't help but wonder if our detective is falling under her spell and just how good a thing that maybe! Could this woman be our detective's downfall? We'll have to wait and see on that one.

The investigation proceeds and we meet a man, Degan, whose soul is black, whose conscience is empty and whose lust is for money. His part in the many murders is only that ,a part, as he gathers up humans as one would pick dust off the floor. Once chosen by him their life is over and one is left to wonder who is behind this sinister work and why? It is very difficult to tell you the story of this book without revealing the plot so I will go no further in my story summary other than to tell you it is a murderous mystery of the deadliest kind. True to form, our author has once again penned a mystery that will keep your heart racing and your mind struggling to figure out the evil behind the hideous deaths. As usual, and what I have come to expect from his work, he has paid careful consideration insuring every element that makes up a mystery of depth is covered, played upon, exciting your senses and making you hunger for more.

One thing I must mention, this work is somewhat graphic sexually and there maybe those who would be uncomfortable with some of the detailed sexual activity and some of the words used. However, I do believe Mr. Hansen has written this as so to show the mindset of the characters in this work, and believe me these characters are anything but honorable and pure. The description of each character is defined, their physical form noted, their mental attitude given, bringing them vividly to life in your mind's eye.

Ending this review I'd like to say that this is a top-notch mystery read, but more than that, it is a story of a hideous crime that I believe may actually take place in our society and lie hidden under the protection of evil. A page turner, shivering read that will chill you to the bone and one you will silently pray is indeed fiction.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Reclaiming Science From Darwinism
Kenneth Poppe
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402-9173
0736918337 $14.99

Written by biology instructor Kenneth Poppe, Reclaiming Science From Darwinism: A Clear Understanding of Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design is a scientifically-minded deconstruction of flaws and weaknesses in the Darwinian theory of evolution. From noticeably broad gaps in the fossil record (which Darwin himself commented on) to questions of extreme improbability with regard to genetic mutations (nearly all mutations are harmful, and most others are useless - a strike against the idea that drastic evolutionary changes could be brought about by mutations), Reclaiming Science From Darwinism dares to present the case against macroevolution on purely scientific grounds, not theological or spiritual grounds. A refreshingly logical and methodical counterargument to the scientific community's prevailing theories.

Beyond Mysticism
Max Cohen
PO Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705-0151
1424141974, $19.95

"Beyond Mysticism: The Rise Of Homo Sapiens" by independent scholar Max Cohen is a fascinating and iconoclastic study of how the mystical thinking originated out of humankind's neolithic past when knowledge of the world and the forces that comprise it were thought to be revealed by supernatural sources to a chosen few for the management of humans in their family, tribal, clan, and eventually cosmopolitan lives. The hallmarks of mystical knowledge based belief systems include specifically organized institutions supervised by a priestly class, sacred prayer, ritual and sacrifice as means of manipulating the attitude and behavior of the gods, and reinforcement of a public attitude of subservience to the will of the gods as expressed by the pronouncements of the priests. With the coming of science with its role of explaining phenomena in natural terms, humanities' dependence upon ancient mystic ideas and revelatory explanations was compromised and diminished. A highly recommended and deftly written treatise,"Beyond Mysticism" is an informed and informative read which is both thoughtful and thought-provoking, making it an especially welcome addition to personal, community and academic library Philosophy collections.

The Christian Olympics
S. E. Gregg
Xulon Press
380 Crown Oak Center Drive, Longwood, FL 32750
PO Box 407, Wynnewood, PA 19096 (author)
1597815306, $12.99

S. E. Gregg has been a marathon runner in the Christian Olympics for several decades and is the founder of Sound Doctrine Christian Ministries. He draws upon this body of experience and expertise in "The Christian Olympics: Going For The Gold Crown" to examine many of the Apostle Paul's metaphors in the New Testament to illustrate the concept of Christians as athletes who pursue the Christian life, a pursuit (like Olympic training and performances) requires endurance, longevity and persistence to finish the race and win the prize – which is eternal life in the Kingdom of God. "The Christian Olympics" is laid out into seven distinctive chapters: The Opening Ceremony; The Players in the Competition; The Training and Discipline; Planning Strategies; The Competitions; The Suffering; The Workout; The Closing and Rewards Ceremonies. Gregg then concludes with 'The Competition that Made the Judge Stand Up'. As imaginative and engaging as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "The Christian Olympics" is enthusiastically recommended as inspirational reading for all practicing Christians regardless of their denominational affiliation.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

Corporate Intelligence Awareness
Rodger Nevill Harding
Multi-Media Publications
R.R. #4B, Lakefield, Ontario, Canada K0L 2H0
1895186420 $43.95

Former South African government career diplomat Rodger Harding, who earned the Star of South Africa for his work in intelligence and strategy development, presents Corporate Intelligence Awareness, a no-nonsense guide for business managers to gathering, developing, analyzing and protecting confidential information. Real-life examples and anecdotes illustrate Harding's tested tips, tricks, and techniques for improving one's people-reading skills, maintaining strict ethics and absolute adherence to the law while keeping close tabs on one's business interests, and how to ensure that ever-changing competitive intelligence can be skillfully delivered to the right people at the right time in the chain of command. An excellent and invaluable manager's supplementary resource especially in the increasingly information-dependent twenty-first century.

Change Your Life Through Travel
Jillian Robinson
Footsteps Media
#621, 6929 N. Hayden Rd. Ste. C4, Scottsdale, AZ 85250
c/o Burchfield & Wolin (publicity)
14206 S. 12th Place, Phoenix, AZ 85048
0977016803 $14.95

Award-winning travel documentary filmmaker Jillian Robinson presents Change Your Life Through Travel, a guide to achieving personal growth through integrating the life lessons of famous explorers and writers, and learning more about oneself and the world through experiencing wonders abroad. Interspersed with beautiful color photographs, Change Your Life Through Travel does not offer specific travel plans or routes, but rather is packed with ideas for taking charge of the pleasurable, spiritual, and life-enriching aspects of travel. From learning how to slow down and live in the moment, to daring to defy convention and celebrating individuality, to bolstering self-esteem by stepping out of one's rut, Change Your Life Through Travel is an enthusiastically positive guide, and an excellent supplement for vacationers looking to get the most emotional and spiritual value out of their miles spent far from home.

Survival Of The Slickest
Gene Louis
Citizen Control Publications
957 Rt. 33, #196, Hamilton, NJ 08690
0977399400, $22.95

American lawyers operate the same way prostitutes and gunslingers worked in the Old West – their services are bought for money regardless of any other consideration concerning their clients. And when business is slow, they go out and do their best to drum some up regardless of concerns for the common welfare of the communities in which they reside. Their national trade group called The American Association Of Trial Lawyers fell into such national disrepute that it had to change its name to The American Association For Justice because the term 'lawyer' had become so denigrated in the eyes and minds of most Americans. Out of his frustrations upon encountering the legal system in 1999, Gene Louis determined to showcase what is wrong with the American legal profession and has published "Survival of The Slickest: Everyone's Risk Of Being Terrorized By Lawyers". Only if enough of us come to understand what happens behind closed doors in law practices and courtrooms can we do something to reform the practice of law in this country and establish a legal system that produces genuine justice and not just a quagmire of political games that makes 'justice' a prize to who ever can afford the best legal manipulation of the laws and the court system. We live in a time where fairness and justice and held captive to corruption and injustice, where lawyers first loyalty is to their paying clients and not to the protection of the community. Simply stated, "Survival Of The Slickest" deserves as wide a readership as possible and should be on the shelves of every community library and a part of ever law school collection in the country.

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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