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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 11, Number 2 February 2012 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

Dead Ends to Somewhere
Richard L. Ward
Christopher Matthews Publishing
9780983316428, $16.95,

What may at first be an error may turn into a savior. "Dead Ends to Somewhere: The Story of a Vaccine to Save 500,000 Children Worldwide and the Reluctant Student Who Invented It" follows the discovery of an important vaccine and the man who discovered it. An inspiring story of how coming from a rough childhood and only with the spirit to succeed can turn nothing into something, "Dead Ends to Somewhere" is an inspiring and powerful read, not to be overlooked.

PHP and MongoDB
Rubayeet Islam
Packt Publishing
9781849513623, $44.99,

It's no longer enough to have a page with some text; one must brace the interactivity of the internet. "PHP and MongoDB Web Development" discusses how to use MongoDB and PHP to create a unique Web 2.0 styled experience for one's web site. From understanding the potential of PHP, Rubayeet Islam walks readers through what they need to know to use the language, as he attempts to make learning a dry subject considerably more intriguing, aimed at beginners who may not know how to make heads or tails of it all. "PHP and MongoDB Web Development" is a top pick for computer science and technology collections aimed at rookie programmers.

Daddy, Come & Get Me
Gil Michelini
Emiliani Publishing Company
9781463513269, $14.95,

Adoption is perhaps the toughest charity one can give. "Daddy, Come & Get Me: A Dad's Adventure Through a Guatemalan Adoption" is a spiritual memoir as Gil Michelini, already a father of three, made the choice to adopt from a Guatemalan child in need. Driven by a spiritual goal of reaching out by his faith, he made the move to adopt from a Latin American country. "Daddy, Come & Get Me" is a driven read of how one can make a difference in the world and the journey that comes with it.

Eat, Drink, and Be Married
Rebecca Bloom
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450295079, $14.95,

Weddings can make some ask questions of their own path in their life. "Eat, Drink, and Be Married" is a novel following old college friends as they attend the marriage of one of their own. The vacation they take is anything but relaxing, as they soon realize their own flaws and why they have yet to find their own marriages. Humorous, heartwarming with a lifelike cast of characters, "Eat, Drink, and Be Married" is a strongly recommended pick for any woman struggling with their own life's woes.

The Caucasian Menace
Clark Zlotchew
PO Box 151
Frederick, MD 21705-0151
9781448960156, $27.95,

With the lives of millions on the line, two agents are charged as the last hope. "The Caucasian Menace" tells the story of an Eastern European nature crumbling into the hands of a dictator with mad goals of profit for his new regime. Two American CIA agents, Baker and Gold, find it is up to them to bring justice, but their own desires for revenge may very well corrupt them. A thriller that will prove difficult to put down, "The Caucasian Menace" is a choice pick for those who love a good spy novel.

The Trade Deficit Illegal & Unconstitutional Effects Destroying America
Alec Feinbetg
Privately Published
9780615497488, $15.95 pbk. / $3.95 Kindle,

Trade is vital for any nation to succeed. "The Trade Deficit Illegal & Unconstitutional Effects Destroying America" is Dr. Alec Feinberg's call for a balancing of trade, stating that if America doesn't manage its trade, it leads to a major contributing factor to the national debt, as America cannot compete internationally with the standards it has set. From keeping jobs domestic and protecting national security and sovereignty, "The Trade Deficit Illegal & Unconstitutional Effects Destroying America" is an intriguing break down of America's financial woes and the worsening that continues.

Two Paths Crossing
John D. Swisher
Privately Published
9781456585563, $9.49 pbk. / $2.99 Kindle,

Through time, we may have struggles which are different, but share the same purposes. ""Two Paths Crossing: Then and Now" is a novel that connects an ancient Lydian slave to a modern traveler in the city of Delphi, Greece. Through both of their times, they make a connection through relics and knowledge, as author John D. Swisher creates an intriguing novel. "Two Paths Crossing" is a fine choice and very much recommended reading.

The Deltium
Richard B. DeFabio
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781453505786, $19.99,

Single people can change the world in many ways. "The Deltium" is a riveting novel from Richard B. DeFabio as he explores the future evolution of mankind and their stance against a new world order. With a spiritual tilt that places great thought on the power of human potential, "The Deltium" is a fascinating and original exploration of fiction and thought, very much recommended reading.

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

Promise Me Eternity
Ian Fox
9781458099846, $0.99 ASIN Amazon: B004KA9JDK

PROMISE ME ETERNITY opens with a dark, stormy night, a physician stumbling in the darkness with a syringe of insulin and a guilty conscience and murder on the mind, and a plan that moves from cheating on his wife to plotting a man's demise.

How did Dr. Patterson arrive at this literal junction in the road of his life? Chapters flash back to the events which led him from being a successful neurosurgeon to associating with a powerful mobster's wife: a relationship which immerses him deeply in the mobster's dangerous world.

Like layers of an onion, PROMISE ME ETERNITY peels back the events that influence Dr. Patterson's moves; from his personal research trying to develop an anti-aging vaccine to his growing alienation from a money-hungry wife whose own obsession with wealth eventually lands her in danger.

It's over 370 pages long, but there's not a chapter wasted nor dull: a fast progression of strong, believable protagonists keeps the plot and its events moving along quickly, with enough unexpected twists and turns to keep even seasoned mystery readers guessing about its possible outcomes and the relationships between and choices of all the protagonists.

There are even moments of humor in the midst of detailed descriptions, such as when Carlos the mob boss is breaking and entering: "He said to the other two, in an almost soundless whisper, "I hate it when people cook fish in the house. That's what restaurants are for.""

Solid dialogue, minute descriptions of setting and place, and detailed surveys of the backgrounds of all protagonists lead to a depth and complexity most mysteries simply don't offer, and will prove inviting to a more educated reader audience than most.

What at first seems a predictable progression of events in fact offers many satisfying twists towards an ending which is totally unexpected, making PROMISE ME ETERNITY a top recommendation for mystery readers who want close psychological inspection, detailed protagonist histories, and a plot that keeps readers guessing right up to the end. Bravo!

Only the Strongest Survive
Ian Fox
9781465896452, $0.99 ASIN Amazon: B006AO1QKS

Another intriguing opening marks Ian Fox's style, which is to grab the reader's attention from the first paragraph of description: "Emely Donnovan, the CEO of Donnovan Corporation, slipped out of her black Porsche

Carrera GT sports car and hurried to the entrance of the office building. "Here are the keys, Mr. Kruger," she said to the porter. "The usual space, please."

The day proves anything but usual for fast-paced CEO Emely, one of the wealthiest women in America, when she is kidnapped and buried alive; and the story that evolves will delight mystery and thriller readers who would initially predict quite a different outcome from the initial events.

As Emely and her kidnapper evolve some unusual bonds, a strange dilemma comes to unfold: what happens when terrorism and a plot for financial gain changes to unexpected romance which is experienced on both sides?

There has been much written about emotional connections between victims and captors that evolve as a response to a struggle for survival on the victim's part - but none hold the depth and dilemma of ONLY THE STRONGEST SURVIVE, where the captor himself is drawn to his victim.

At first the two are separated by their different objectives: hers to survive, his to reap financial gain: "When she lay on the bed or sat at the desk, she replayed the memory of what had happened to her. She thought about it so much that it gave her a headache. When she wasn't thinking she was crying, and when she wasn't crying, she was asleep.

John was not thinking of her. His thoughts revolved around the money that would soon be in his account. Every morning he rang his bank to check the balance. He knew that a transfer from abroad took at least three days, but still hoped that things would perhaps happen sooner."

Add to the budding romance other protagonists who have different interests in the changing situation plus swiftly changing motives and treachery and you have a story that follows no predictable path ... and herein lies its delight.

Ian Fox's writings will prove compelling to readers who seek complexity and difference in plots. ONLY THE STRONGEST SURVIVE is especially recommended for readers who, in the past, have read many thrillers with too few real surprises. Those who seek the thrill of the unexpected will find Ian Fox's works satisfying on many levels: filled with the depth, detail and turns that you just don't find in too many novels nowadays.

Fit to Be Dead
N. G. West
Southwest Publications
9780974770543 $5.99

FIT TO BE DEAD is the first in the author's Aggie Mundeen mystery series, and presents the character of Aggie, who is terrified of approaching middle age and determined to avoid decrepitude. Her latest Dear Aggie advice column 'Adventures in Staying Young' prompts her to sign up for a fitness program at the local health club.

From the first sentence, readers receive a satisfying sense of Nancy West's fun plays on words: "Shaping up at my age can be murder. My Wagoneer station wagon, Albatross, chugged toward Fit and Firm Health Club. Just thinking about trying to operate the machines packed inside that club made me shudder. I'm mechanically inept. My condition may be genetic."

From the start (and realistically, given the common health club experience) Aggie finds the club environment to be as expected: filled with daunting machines and cretins of hulky body and primal mind-set. What she doesn't expect to find is a murder attempt: she arrives just in time to save a club member from drowning in a pool where electricity has been added via a sunken tape player (that could have accidentally hit the water, despite safeguards against it).

Another playful observation adds humor to the scenario: "An electrical surge could have changed Fit and Firm to Fit but Dead. Not good advertising for a health club. I wasn't thrilled with getting older, but it beat being a corpse."

As Aggie continues both her column and her investigation she finds herself drawn into the club's underground world with resulting threats to her own safety. Her advice column becomes more specific, filled with real-world health and training insights ("Congratulations on being a fit, young grandmother. Unfortunately, you cannot train for heart fitness and skeletal muscle strength at the same time. Muscle mass peaks between ages thirty and thirty-five and then begins a slow decline. What do you care, right?") even as she struggles with a growing personal theat.

The ante is upped when Aggie uncovers evidence that someone may be poisoning health club members. As her investigations uncover unusual alliances and questionable actions she also uncovers the potential of romance which affects her approach to solving puzzles. Poison threatens her own life as Aggie moves ever closer to uncovering a plot and a danger that goes far beyond club memberships, interrelationships, or her advice column.

What makes FIT TO BE DEAD such a satisfying read is a number of factors: powerful characterization, twists of plot, and a feisty believable protagonist. But what adds real spice and zest to the entire production is a sense of humor and jest which appears at unexpected moments throughout the story.

Peppered with advice columns by Aggie and with descriptions of a blossoming romance, FIT TO BE DEAD stands out from the usual mystery by providing depth and subplots to keep readers guessing until its end - and looking forward, at that point, to more Aggie adventures.

Readers can get personal anti-aging advice from Aggie Mundeen at and learn about Aggie's next adventure, Dang Near Dead.

Diane C. Donovan
Senior Reviewer

Dunford's Bookshelf

ACK Attack
Dennie Doran
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463696078, $15.99,

Some people aren't meant to save the world. They may end up doing it anyway. "ACK Attack" is a humorous novel set in Nantucket following a group of women venturing into their elder ages and finding that a chemical attack is being plotted in their home town. Old ladies take to the charge and find that they may be the only ones to stop an attack on international dignitaries. "ACK Attack"" is an excellent and choice pick for fiction collections.

The World Finally Speaks at Karbala Tribunals
Hatem Abu Shahba
Privately Published
9781450765169, $16.95,

War brings out the worst of humanity. "The World Finally Speaks at Karbala Tribunals" is a novel in courtroom form, as Dr. Hatme Abu Shahba discusses the crimes against humanity during the famous battle of Karbala, in which the descendants of Muhammad faced massacre at the hands of their opponents. Offering a unique comprehensive view of the events with an original perspective, "The World Finally Speaks at Karbala Tribunals" is a fine pick for those who want to learn more about this important conflict in Islamic history.

Employed by God
Tracy S. Deitz
Privately Published
9781466370821, $10.99,

Rising to the call of God's call can sometimes mean many odd things. "Employed by God: Benefits Packaged with Faith" is a memoir of faith from Tracy S. Deitz as she discusses rising to God's call and traveling the world with good intentions. From aiding a remote village in Mongolia to teaching at a maximum security prison, she relays what she has learned and hopes others would rise to the call. ""Employed by God" is an enticing and much recommended pick for Christian studies collections.

In Manger Lowly
Elizabeth Anne Christensen
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781467024235, $49.99,

The practice of creche has become a major way to celebrate the nativity of Jesus of Nazareth. "IN Manger Lowly: The Worldwide Christmas Nativity in Crech Ar, Carols, and Poetry" is a blend of poetry and full color photography as Elizabeth Anne "Betsy" Christensen explores the art form that she loves dearly. A devoted collection that takes creche works from all around the Christian world, "in Manger Lowly" is a choice pick for Christians with a love for creche or seeking a unique coffee table art book.

The Quatrains and Selected Poems
V. Paul Hall
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
1412062519, $13.50,

Some poets choose to use the language as a paintbrush to paint a vivid image. "The Quatrains and Selected Poems of V. Paul Hall" is a straightforward yet riveting assortment of poetry from Hall, providing a down to earth brand of verse that can be taken in and enjoyed by novice and experienced poetry enthusiast alike. "The Quatrains and Selected Poems of V. Paul Hall" is an excellent and recommended pick for general poetry collections. "Success": Success is not an object to attain./It is a process, which we must sustain./Success is striving on toward some goal/With every bit of strength in our control.

The President's Ultimatum
John Cavi
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450297660, $25.95,

Bold moves have bold consequences. "The President's Ultimatum" is a thriller from John Cavi, who writes of a president who demands peace between Israel and Palestine with dire consequences. The declaration makes him a target, and makes the president a target. As the relations between Israel and America weaken and the good friendship between them may abruptly end, Cavi provides a riveting read with plenty of twists and turns, making "The President's Ultimatum" a riveting read that is very much worth considering.

The Furnace
Timothy S. Johnston
Privately Published
9781466276659, $14.99,

The cruelest murder is the one with no purpose. "The Furnace" is a science fiction novel blended with locked-room murder mystery following ace investigator Kyle Tanner as he seeks to find the murderer in SOLEX One, a station that hovers near the sun. Tracking a killer who leaves no clues to his motivations and purpose, what Kyle finds something that may be murder on a much grander scale. "The Furnace" is a riveting read that will prove hard to put down.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Recipes for Success
Mark Allen Waltrip
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466317642, $14.99,

Food should be another element of life that drives one forward. "Recipes for Success" is a cookbook with a positive force behind it, as Mark Allen Waltrip provides a wide array of wise recipes for many occasions and many cooking disciplines. They are spread between a bit of memoir about life and the events he has connected to the food. "Recipes for Success" is a strong pick for those looking for food to life the spirits, very much recommended.

A Wedding, Me, and the Family Tree
Faye Alison Gilbert, author, Leo Silva, illustrator
Privately Published
9781612250489, $9.99,

Marriage is a sacrament to many, but what is different from the Jewish practice? "A Wedding, Me, and the Family Tree" is a short story for young readers following curious Dana as she explores a wedding at the synagogue. With plenty to learn for young readers about tradition, "A Wedding, Me, and the Family Tree" is an excellent pick for any Judaic children's picturebook collection.

No More Heroes
Henry Biernacki
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781452089751, $12.95,

As we wander the world, we try to understand what it means to be human. "No More Heroes" is a novel of travel and seeing the many characters of the world, and gaining a unique view of humanity and what it ultimately all means. With unique humor and plenty of poignancy, "No More Heroes" is an excellent and highly recommended read, not to be overlooked.

Ryan Frawley
Privately Published
c/o Smith Publicity
1930 E. Marlton Pike
Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9780986901300, $14.95,

As the world collapses around you in your mind, you reach for anything to help you back up. "Scar" follows Dermot Fallon as he tries to face down his schizophrenia, something that seems to be quickly sending him to a personal oblivion. Setting his eyes on a cousin's fiancee, what he's reaching for seems completely unreachable and he may be crazy to even try. A poignant read of mental illness, "Scar" is a thoughtful read that presents a unique tale of what schizophrenics face.

Train from Thompsonville
D. C. Moses
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
141205334X, $32.50,

Already struggling, a war might mean an end to what was family. Train from Thompsonville" follows the struggling Ludaks family who are barely making ends meet at the end of the Great Depression. As America enters world war II, their home Thompsonville is hit hard and them with it. A coming of age story about the shaken family unit, "Train from Thompsonville" is a choice and recommended pick of stories of hardship.

A Family Institution
Howard Reiss
Privately Published
9780615570884, $14.99,

By understanding our family history we can understand our future. "A Family Institution" is a novel from Howard Reiss as he takes stories from his own life and reflects on mistreatment of a mentally ill aunt throughout the 1940s and 50s, and what he has learned since them. A frank novel of family and what binds us all through our troubles, "A Family Institution" is a choice pick for general fiction collections.

The Monetarists and the Evolving Crisis
William H. James
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432770990, $28.95,

Whatever America is doing now, it isn't working. "The Monetarists and the Evolving Crisis" is a political and economic discussion from Dr. William H. James, who states why much of the Western world is struggling as the nations of Asia boom. With many ideas on our current crisis, wars, and other financially driven problems, "The Monetarists and the Evolving Crisis" is a choice pick for those who want another perspective on America's current financial problems.

The Healers
Donna Labermeier
Privately Published
9780615516585, $10.99,

Charity and good will sadly gain opposition all too often. "The Healers" follows three exceptional young people across the world with their own unique talents of healing. As a cruel profiteer learns of their talents, they find themselves targeted and Donna Labermeier presents a story of the clash of good and evil starring young adults in the real world with a little psychic power peppered in. "The Healers" is an excellent and choice read, very much recommended.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Dedicated Lives
Ed Busch, Shirley Beckman, & Harry Schwarzweller
Privately Published
9781448678242, $17.00,

Faith is a guiding light through life, and should bring people together instead of driving them apart. "Dedicated Lives: 162 Years of Liberal Ministry and Its Ministers in Lansing, Michigan 1849-2011" discusses the long line of the First Universalist Church of Lansing, and those who have worked through the years as religious liberals. A thoughtful look at an American church and derived from well researched sources, "Dedicated Lives" is a fine work of study for Christians, historians, and Americana.

Eat Your Heart Out
Dayna Ingram
Lethe Press
118 Heritage Avenue
Maple Shade, NJ 08052-3018
9781590213339, $13.00,

Many readers of lesbian fiction are often wondering what is missing from their romance. Dayna Ingram suggests that perhaps it's zombies. "Eat Your Heart Out" is a humorous descent into the zombie apocalypse and romance, as the small town of Nowhere, Ohio suddenly finds zombies following a B-list movie star. Renni Ramirez finds that just because she slaughters them by the dozen on the big screen, it isn't the best for the real things. One daring amateur gunslinger may be looking out for her thought. "Eat Your Heart Out" is a fun and fast paced read for lesbian romance readers who want a bit of speculative fiction blended in with it.

A Patient's Guide to Liposuction
Jeffry B. Schafer
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432781477, $20.95,

Liposuction is not a health decision that should be taken lightly. "A Patient's Guide to Liposuction: How to Make an Informed Decision" is a guide for those considering liposuction to recapture a more fit appearance. Jeffry B. Schafer, a plastic surgeon by practice for nearly forty years, provides everything one needs to know to consider before choosing liposuction. "A Patient's Guide to Liposuction" is a strongly recommended pick for anyone who is considering this avenue.

The Box of Daughter
Katherine Mayfield
Privately Published
9781936447435, $17.95,

Even the most pristine of families can have darkness beneath it. "The Box of Daughter" is a memoir from Katherine Mayfield as she recalls her childhood under the roof of a family that strived for perfection and in the process made themselves anything but. Discussing dysfunction and emotional trauma that she endured, she chronicles her own journey to self-esteem and worth. "The Box of Daughter" is a fine pick for community library memoir collections focusing on the family.

The Tools You Need to Be Successful
Joshua McDonnell
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781453542002, $19.99,

Success in anything requires many common traits. "The Tools You Need to be Successful: Never Give Up, Never Back Down" is an advisory from Joshua McDonnell who helps advise readers to find their own inspiration and drive through life, taking on his own experiences a single father who must play the working man and Dad at the same time, a stressful experience which almost drove him over the top. With plenty to ponder, "The Tools You Need to be Successful" is well worth considering.

The Truth
Ardiana Cohn
Privately Published
9781463508609, $20.00,

Could what we've been seeking through the universe for so long be right within us? "The Truth: In Search of Antimatter" is a metaphysical read from Ardiana Cohn as she explores the nature of the physical soul, stating it's the very antimatter holding the world together, a state of matter such as solid and gas. With many metaphysical ideas worth considering for those who believe there is more to the human consciousness, "The Truth" is a fine pick and very much recommended reading.

David A. Koop
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432774486, $24.95,

A silver lining brings triumph to tragedy. "Cancer: It's a Good Thing I Got It"" tells the story of David Koop, who thought he had the good life until cancer appeared and ultimately made it better. Although it threatened his life, he learned what was really important, and gave him the strength to overcome and came out stronger than he would be without the ordeal. "Cancer" is a triumphant and recommended addition to any cancer memoir collection.

Love on Laird Ave
Cindy A. Christiansen
Privately Published
9781618850959, $12.50,

Love can blossom out of the strangest of things, such as home renovation. "Love on Laird Ave" tells of Tatum Stewart, who is making her own way in life in her own new home. But some things aren't going as well, as she calls in a renovation expert. They hit it off all too well, but greed and old owners come around after her and may make her cozy new home a little bit of hell. "Love on Laird Ave" is a fine and much recommended read, not to be missed.

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

Borrowed Heart
Linda Lamberson
P.O. Box. 235, New Buffalo, MI 49117
9780615498768, $8.99,

The psychic Madame Sasha tells Evie Sanders things about herself and her family very few people know. She also warns her that she has been marked with The Curse of Three, which will include two near death experiences and something worse. Evie awakens from a bad dream that seemed so real because she met Sasha two years ago.

After class, Quinn Harrison introduces himself to Evie and asks for her notes from a session he missed. He asks her to come to a party, but she is dating her Michigan boyfriend Ryan Walker though they are apart as she attends IU and he goes to Illinois. Still Evie is attracted to Quinn so she and her two BFFs (Lisa and Rachel) attend the party. However, due to a drunk, Evie dies in a car accident after seeing Ryan with another woman in Champagne. Five days later she awakens to a Peter informing her that this is no longer Bloomington and he will guide her in her transition into being a rare chosen Shepherd to help humans. As she learns the rigid Rules, Evie has one problem with obedience, Quinn.

Book One of the Evie Sanders series is a terrific romantic urban fantasy starring a fascinating heroine who at sixteen realized she had a gift and welcomed it rather than running from it. Evie holds the entertaining storyline focused with help from her mentor and her beloved. However, what makes this a strong opening act work is the unique Lamberson mythos that sub-genre fans will appreciate and want more.

A Ranger's Trail
Darlene Franklin
Moody Publishers
820 N. LaSalle Blvd., Chicago, IL 60610
9780802405876, $14.99,

In 1874 Mason County, Texas, German cattlemen accuse Anglo ranchers M.B. Thomas and Allen Roberts of stealing their herd. The court trial led to six cowhands being fined while Derrick Denning was freed due to insufficient evidence. The Anglo ranchers are outraged that they have to pay any remittance while their German counterparts, still irate over the secession thirteen years ago, feel an injustice occurred.

However, the Denning celebration ends when someone assassinates him. The Germans say good riddance to a thief and other dead alleged rustlers while the Anglos led by former Ranger Scott Cooley counterstrike against their adversaries. The Texas Rangers including Buck Morgan arrives in Mason County to end the viscous range war and find out who made Leta Derrick a widowed single mom. Buck sets up a trap but Leta's teenage brother Andy springs it. Shots leave Buck's cousin dead and Andy as the prime suspect. Buck prays for a miracle for the extended Denning family and to end the frontier justice range war that is devastating his home town.

The fourth Morgan Family saga book (see Lone Star Trail by Darlene Franklin; The Captive Trail by Susan Page Davis; and Long Trail Home by Vickie McDonough) is a great entry that uses the real deadly Mason County "Hoo Doo" range war to tell a vivid Texas Trail tale. Buck is a great protagonist who prays for a peaceful solution but knows none is coming as each side remains resolution their Godly righteousness. Using real Mason County range war persona, while fast-paced with the romance deftly kept in the background, fans will relish Darlene Franklin's second excellent entry in a powerful nineteenth century epic.

Out Of Palestine: The Making of Modern Israel
Hadara Lazar
Atlas Books
30 Amberwood Parkway
Ashland, OH 44805
9781935633280, $25.95,

In 1923 the League of Nations placed Palestine, no longer part of the defeated Ottoman Empire, as a Mandate under British control. The Southern part would become a "national home for the Jewish People" while the Arabs were expected to live side by side with their Jewish neighbors in peace. Both groups were euphoric with the Mandate. In 1948, Palestine was divided into two adversarial nations. Over the next six plus decades, there have been several wars and throughout the ultimate Cold War.

For the past twenty-five years Israeli journalist Hadara Lazar has conducted a series of interviews of those involved when The British Mandate ended in 1948. Fuad Shehadeh is an Arab whose family moved from Jerusalem to Ramallah in 1949. His description of Jerusalem in the last years of the Mandate sets the tone of a stunning series of memoirs as he recalls an upbeat community until the 1948 War that displaced many Arabs. James Livingstone of the British Consul remembers how much changed in 1946 from his previous assignments in Jerusalem as social life was limited to the British community. Meir Dreszner grew up in mixed Haifa while his wife Miriam in mixed Jerusalem. Under the Mandate Meir felt like a foreigner in an Arab restaurant; while Miriam says Jerusalem was a city of separate neighborhoods.

There are many more interesting anecdotal memoirs that provide readers the foundation of what has become entrenched enemies. Readers will appreciate the fascinating look back as Hadara Lazar interviews and obtains the thoughts and memories of numerous Jewish, Arab, and British people who lived in Palestine just after WWII as the Mandate was ending and the Jewish state formed.

Blue Moon Promise
Colleen Coble
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781595549150, $15.99,

1877 is a bad year for most residents of Indiana especially in the Chicago area, but the Marsh siblings are particularly in trouble. Their lecherous landlord informs the oldest Lucy that he has sold the place where they live and she and her two younger siblings (twelve years old Jed and three years old Eileen) will have to vacate within ten days. However, Lucy learns that their father's death was not the accident as reported; his second wife Catherine her stepmother abandoned the children. Older than her late father, Henry Stanton cites Abraham finding a bride for Isaac; he offers her a deal to marry his son Nate by proxy. To protect her brother and sister and to keep Jed out of further trouble, she accepts a marrying a total stranger.

Henry escorts the three Marsh siblings to the family ranch in Wichita Falls, Texas. Nate is stunned that his father returned home with a wife for him and two young in-laws. He assumes the city slicker will quickly run from ranch life. However, though insecure Lucy refuses to quit as she has a strong inner self-sacrifice that her husband respects but prays she learns to trust him with what disturbs her. When the Hoosier danger arrives at the Stanton spread, Nate risks his life and his ranch to keep his beloved new family safe.

The first Under Texas Stars is a terrific inspirational historical romance. The key to this engaging Americana is the cast as the lead couple are nice pairing of Isaac and Rebecca while the support characters add either intelligence and humor or the sale of their souls for shekels. Sub-genre readers will enjoy Colleen Coble's charmer.

The Accidental Bride
Denise Hunter
Thomas Nelson
9781595548023 $15.99

In Moose Creek, Montana, Shay Brandenberger knows men leave. Fourteen years ago her fiance Travis McCoy jilted her on the courthouse steps while she was wearing her wedding gown just before they were to exchange their vows; he married the rodeo instead of her. She did marry, but her late spouse left her before he died. Now Shay struggles as a single mom to twelve years old Olivia while hoping they do not lose their family ranch.

Travis has returned home praying for a second chance to make up for his teenage blunder when he left his beloved. Miss Lucy asks Travis to play the art of Joseph Adams at the Founder Day Ceremony. He agrees when he learns he will be part of a reenactment wedding with Shay as his bride Prudence. However, Miss Lucy feeling true love needs intervention so she arranges the marriage to be real. Travis is euphoric while Shay leaves him on the top of her most loathed list. He promises to prove he means to stay by working the ranch platonically until she agrees to allow him to share the conjugal bed. However, both know they must factor in her daughter that he will soon learn is his.

Although hiding the truth about Olivia's fatherhood from the biological dad is an old theme, Denise Hunter keeps her second chance at love plot fresh with inspired Miss Lucy pulling off the marriage ruse. Travis desperately wants a do-over while Shay believes men even caring ones like her former husband leave. Her daughter echoes that sentiment having had two dads leave. Fans will appreciate this warm Big Sky Romance as Miss Lucy once again matches two people in love (see A Cowboy's Touch).

Deep Sleep: If Your Secrets Don't Kill You, Your Dreams Will
DyAnna Durbin
P.L.U.M. Readers
9780615306339 $12.95

In 2006, architect Joel Lee Keys inherited 72 acres in Beaufort, South Carolina. He had no interest in the barrier island as his job and life kept him in Atlanta. However, a promotion to the firm's new Savannah office has Joel and his fiancee Holly moving into the Beaufort house.

After arriving on his ancestral island, they go skinny dipping; Holly feels welcomed while Joel feels rejection as if the water loathed him. That first night while Holly sleeps like a baby, Joel suffers from a horrific nightmare. Three days later Holly is comfortable while Joel is burning up and out of control. He curses and chokes her. In the mirror he sees James and Rosa Lee together in 1942 though Joel fails to comprehend who they are, the year or what he observes. With the help of her best friend Adrian, his girlfriend Carmen and Erin, Holly begins the war for her beloved against an unknown malevolence; as his true family inheritance is the curse brought upon the clan by their wickedness culminating with the trial for his soul.

This is an exciting creepy horror thriller with a gothic location even if the house is 1970s, an odd seventy-nine years old native son Ned "Silent Night" neighbor, and the wickedness of the WW II era. Joel is the target of revenge for what happened in the 1940s; courageous Holly and her brave dedicated loyal band risk their souls to save his. Readers will enjoy the taut trial of Joel Lee Keys as Shakespeare says in The Merchant of Venice: "The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children."

Another Woman
Penny Vincenzi
The Overlook Press
141 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10012
9781590203576, $27.95,

Near Oxford, England, Cressida Forrest and Dr. Oliver Bergin of New York are marrying tomorrow. Both seem extremely ecstatic while their wedding party families are euphoric over the match. Contented Cressida goes to bed, knowing she will spend the rest of her life as the wife of her beloved gynecologist starting tomorrow.

However, in the morning her parents Maggie and James realize she is not home. As the families panic when a search for the missing bride fails to find her, Cressida's sister Harriet assumes this is just another ruse by her "perfect" sibling especially when messages from her vanished sibling begin to arrive.

This is a great family drama as the mystery of Cressida grows with each minute she is away while the enigma masks of the rest of the wedding participants begin to crack under the strain. The key to this intelligent complex tale is Penny Vincenzi limits the clock to just two days. Containing numerous subplots starring various members of a strong ensemble cast, readers will enjoy this taut thriller of secrets revealed amidst two tense families wondering why the bride ran away.

Lost and Found
Ginny L. Yttrup
B&H Publishing Group
127 Ninth Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37234-0143
9781433671715, $14.99,

In San Francisco Brigitte Bouvier lives for wealth; she never has enough though she is one of the richest women on the planet. Her son Gerald always fears his manipulative mother but avoids her wrath by towing the line; and his wife Jenna did too though she remains a failure to her in-law for not birthing the heir. Recently ailing Jenna has been losing things like an heirloom diamond. She expects Brigitte to attack her for the missing jewel. However, she is unprepared when Brigitte accuses her of an affair with Matthew, her spiritual director. Brigitte threatens to destroy both their lives.

Andee Bell has come a long way since her youth as she has earned fame and fortune, but most important for her peace of mind, respect. She believes business is everything and pushes her boyfriend, Jenna's brother Jason, who insists there is more to life than just business though his dad owns the Azul firm. However, as the Lightseeker blog angers Brigitte, she maneuvers everyone in her circle, but failed to understand she cannot hurt those who walk with the Lord.

This is an entreating character driven inspirational Christian drama. The cast is solid as each has doubts made worse by the serpent queen of mean who plays off other's fears. Jenna is a fascinating protagonist who seems like a mouse but readers will learn she roars in her subtle way. Fans will enjoy this contemporary as those who embrace grace can survive anything the allegorical she-devil tosses at them.

Screwing Mother Nature For Profit
Elaine Smitha
Watkins Publishing
9781780280189, $19.95,

Screwing Mother Nature For Profit: How Corporations Betray Our Trust - And Why the New Biology Offers an Ethical and Sustainable Future comes out swinging from the onset with the opening chapter of a Planetary Crisis: Gambling Our Future as Elaine Smitha pulls no punches and never stops throwing hooks at the government industrial complex. The author uses powerful anecdotal examples like the BP spill to make her case that the world is being murdered by industry. Her first entry in New Guinea is a stunner while the insidious use of designer seeds to control the food supply is shocking. The destruction of the rain forests and wetlands under the guise of progress lead to man worsening horrific storms like Katrina; recent flooding in the Atlanta area shows what one county Clayton did with wetlands to lessen the impact. Ms. Smitha completes her treatise with an argument that going green to save the planet means also going bottom line black. The author's contends that businesses are a form of a living system (not the activist Supreme Court definition of corporations are people); as such Ms. Smitha claims the business model needs to change from Screwing Mother Nature For Profit to the New Biology Ethical and Sustainable Future concept. With a nod to Rachel Caron's still relevant The Silent Spring, Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth and James Cameron's Avatar, Ms. Smitha makes a case that we still have time to save the planet and create those green jobs. This is a well written cautionary yet hopeful commentary on changing the business model paradigm to the betterment of the world.

An Amish Family Reunion
Mary Ellis
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North
Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736944878, $13.99,

In Winesburg, Ohio, Phoebe Miller loves her family but wishes she had some moments of quiet respite to draw but even the Sabbath is nosy since her Uncle Simon, his wife Aunt Julia and their extended horde live next door to her family. Her rumschpringe voyage enables her to escape from the Ohio Amish community that she loves. She travels to Niagara Falls.

Amish Eli Riehl is a highly regarded storyteller. When Phoebe hears his tale, she draws pictures of what he said. They agree to collaborate on a children's book he will write and she will illustrate. However, their plans seem dead when his father suffers a heart attack as the solo son with five sisters goes home to run the family farm. Although his writing dream appears dead, Eli wants his beloved Phoebe to come with him as his wife.

This warm coming of age Amish romance stars two wonderful protagonists who belong together and a strong family support group. Ironically to achieve her two dreams of illustrating and finding a loving pious mate means Phoebe must accept Eli's nosy family as hers. Readers will appreciate Mary Ellis' tale as the Amish lifestyle makes for an engaging contemporary.

The Wings of Morning
Murray Pura
Harvest House
9780736948777 $13.99

In 1917 Jude Whetstone and Lyyndaya Kurtz are attracted to each other, but her Lapp Amish parents oppose a courtship between them. His stunt of flying a plane from Philadelphia to her Papa's field where the hay was just cut is not well received by her parents though Lyyndy and her siblings enjoy the spectacle.

However Jude and other Amish lads are able to fight but refuse as war objectors are taken away from their community. They are placed in an abusive camp to break these war objectors. Lyyndy fears for her beloved who accepts a devil's deal in order to keep his Amish brethren out of the draft. His self-sacrifice leaves him shunned by those he protected including her family. When Lyyndy learns he was shot down in France, she defies her family to work with Spanish flu victims in Philadelphia until beloved becomes her patient. However, the shunning remains in effect.

This excellent fresh WWI era Amish thriller provides wonderful unique perspective of the community at a time when aeroplanes and electricity are so new they have not been banned yet; even Bishop Zook demands a flight. The seemingly star-crossed romance between the shunned hero and the woman he cherishes enhances a great period piece that will have readers wanting more historical tales like this winner from Murray Pura.

To Love And To Cherish
Kelly Irvin
Harvest House
9780736943710 $13.99

In Bliss Creek, eighteen year old Catherine Shirack works at her family's stand when her Mudder waves from the buggy. Farmer Bob Cramer comes around the road as Catherine's Dad slows down to make a turn. The farmer's truck plows into the Shirack vehicle. Catherine watches in horror as her parents die.

The oldest son Luke the blacksmith, his wife Leah and their children return to the family farm. His sister twenty four year old Emma is unable to forgive Bob for the deaths of her parents unlike a forgiving Luke. Emma's former beau Carl Freiling who left her and their Amish community four years ago wants a second chance with her. Also interested in Emma is widower Thomas Brennaman, a single dad with a young child. Emma's nineteen year old sister Annie has been rejected by her beau Robert and their seventeen years old brother Josiah has a New Order Mennonite girlfriend in Wichita but now suffers with remorse. Catherine is depressed while teenager Mark handles increase responsibility well and the five year old twins (Lillie and Mary) struggle with taking orders from Leah instead of Mudder.

The first Bliss Creek Amish family drama is a terrific tale as each member of the Shirack extended clan comes across fully developed with different issues though Emma is the star. Whereas Luke adapts seemingly effortlessly to his new patriarch role by concealing his fears, Catherine suffers from severe depression and Emma from doubt as "His will be done!" does not answer her question of why good people. readers will appreciate this strong Amish family drama as the eight offspring grieve and cope differently the loss of their parents in a tragic accident.

Love Blooms In Winter
Lori Copeland
Harvest House
9780736930192 $12.99

In 1892 in Dwadlo, North Dakota, town postmistress Mae Wilkey worries about the mental health of her nonagenarian neighbor Pauline. Mae notices the increasing signs of dementia and wants to contact Pauline's family but the older woman cannot remember if she has any. However, Mae finds the name of Tom Curtis in a drawer. She sends the Chicago and North Railway executive a telegram which he ignores as he assumes a prank has occurred. When she wires him again, he decides to go to South Dakota to learn the truth though he doubts he has a relative there.

Tom and Mae are attracted to one another, but she is almost engaged to town lawyer Jake Mallory though they have not set a date after six years together. Mae likes the way Tom treats her fourteen years old younger brother mentally challenged Jeremy and Pauline with patience and respect. Love Blooms In Winter during the Dakota Boom; as Tom, Mae and the townsfolk deal with two train wrecks assisted by an elephant while knowing God is there for them.

This is a warm inspirational Americana romance starring two likable protagonists and a strong quirky support cast. Although Tom is too perfect, fans will enjoy this entertaining late nineteenth century tale as runaway trains, mentally challenged people, elephants and herring leads to the blooming of love in wintry North Dakota.

Cassidy's Cowboy
Karen Rose Smith
Amazon Digital Services
B006JGXLKA $2.99

When Cassidy Sullivan was five years old, her only known relative her mom dies. She goes through the swinging doors of the foster care system until she finally stole a car when she was seventeen. An accident got her in trouble with the law, but Tina Christopher, owner of the Twin Pines Ranch in Long Brush, Wyoming, took her in. Now with Tina dead, twenty-six year old Cassidy owns the ranch and has met her twin sister Lucy (see Always Her Cowboy) who she never knew existed until recently.

Cassie agrees to allow Vermont resident Ben O'Donnell, the nephew of Ranch foreman Loren, to stay at the spread for a couple of months with his troubled nine year old daughter Julie who suffers from the abandonment of her mom eighteen months ago. Cassie and Julie hit if off over horses while the rancher and Ben are attracted to one another. However, as psychic Gillian Moore (see Nathan's Vow) helps the twins search for their biological father, Cassie conceals the one secret that shames her from Ben while this father and daughter know women they love leave.

The sixth Search For Love drama (see Jake's Bride, Always Devoted and Heartfire) is a superb contemporary due to the fully developed cast. Readers will know the fears that cripple each of the lead trio in forging caring relationships. Whether it is electronic or paper, no one does poignant family dramas better than Karen Rose Smith consistently does.

Deep Sky
Patrick Lee
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061958793, $7.99,

President Garner is on TV giving a speech to the nation from the Oval office when the screens went black. A missile strike hit the White House killing POTUS and blowing the roof off the facility. Vice President Holt is given the oath of office while flying back from Los Angeles to DC. In the Wyoming desert at the most secure facility in the world, agents of ultra-Top Secret Tangent discuss who is responsible. One of the operatives mentions the Archer Air Force defense program of missiles hidden in civilian areas as a last deterrent against nuclear strikes. Agent Travis Chase realizes what is implied; the military assassinated their Commander-in-Chief.

Soon after the assassination of the president, enemy operatives mount a precision assault on Tangent. The target is to take control of the Breach pathway to and from another dimension. Both incidents required powerful backing. His lover Paige Campbell and technological expert Bethany Stewart are running out of time in spite of having all the time in the world to uncover who is behind the unmentionable that dates back to the Reagan administration yet the truth lies in the near future.

The third Chase thriller (see The Breach and Ghost Country) is a great twisting tale that grips the audience from the moment POTUS is killed and never let's go until after a climatic stunning finish. Faster than the show 24, Chase is a sort of Jack Bauer but in a science fiction universe. Readers will relish this exciting entry in a strong trilogy.

Need You Now
James Grippando
9780061840302 $25.99

How far Abe Cushman has fallen is the whispers on Wall St. He has been a major player on the Street for five decades and includes on his sterling resume a stint as the chair of NASDAQ. Now Abe who had billions of Money To Burn is scheduled to meet with the Feds on a $60,000,000,000 Ponzi scheme. Instead Abe commits suicide rather than spend the rest of his life behind bars.

However, the billions have vanished angering investors; some of whom want revenge and their money as those who understand the Street know Cushman could not have done this alone. The Manhattan branch of the International Bank of Switzerland assigns junior analyst Patrick Lloyd and his former girlfriend Lilly Scanlon to search for the lost loot. However, Lily has insider knowledge that leaves her and Patrick in jeopardy from those who will kill for the money.

Filled with twists and action, fans of financial thrillers will relish this strong tale that offers a terrific solution to the missing Madoff money. Fast-paced, the fun in the entertaining storyline is how James Grippando brilliantly delivers his Ponzi scheme spin.

No Story To Tell
K.J. Steele
Fiction Studio
PI Box 4613; Stanford, CT 06907
9781936558209, $16.95,

In Hinkley, twins were born, but the tiny feeble female was expected to die. However, instead her brother named Victor passed away while she survived against all odds. Later her parents name her Victoria. Her father loathes his surviving child as he wanted the boy not a girl. A year later her abusive father dies, but her mother is shocked that she slept for hours with a corpse; she joined him only a few months later when she realized he still bullied her from the grave. Victoria moves in with her Auntie May, but her newest guardian dies shortly afterward.

Her husband Bobby treats Victoria as a prized possession that he ridicules rather than a partner. All these people who have controlled her over the years deny her dream of dance. Only her solo friend Rose knows the real Victoria hiding inside the outer shell of a childlike persona. However, Elliot the artist recommends the once upon a time dreams of the inner Victoria the dancer and encourages to go after her most fulfilling dream.

This is a deep engaging psychological thriller that focuses on an abused woman who wants to soar free to dance, but is so used to being the scorned bird in a gilded cage she has no concept of idea how to fly. Victoria makes the insightful storyline work as the protagonist who metaphorically grows wings that changes the dynamics of her relationships. No Story To Tell tells a terrific story of a survivor finally taking a risk that will shake her world.

Elizabeth in the Garden
Trea Martyn
9781933346366 $22.95

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, two men competed for the favors of her Highness. Lord Treasurer William Cecil and Earl Robert Dudley used elaborate gardens to lure the monarch to spend time at their respective estates as both understood how much Elizabeth loved a garden. Each spent a fortune to create marvelous horticultural masterpieces. In 1575 the years old competition hits a new height when the Queen visits Cecil's incredible wonder Theobalds and from there to Dudley's Kenilworth where three years earlier excessive extravagance led to tragedy. Theobalds was amazing one of the wonders of the era, but Kenilworth became the highlight film of the Tudor reign. Having lost the garden combat, Cecil does what all politicians believe is their birthright to run a misinformation campaign to paint his adversary with scandalous behavior especially with Dudley's tryst with the Countess of Essex enabling the success of the Treasurer as Elizabeth never returned to Kenilworth.

Elizabeth in the Garden is great unbelievably fresh look at the queen through the two main males in her life (besides her late father). Each uses the monarch's love of gardens (when her sister sat on the throne, she enjoyed walking the Garden of the Tower where she also met Dudley) to their advantage; no one else in the queen's retinue came close. Readers learn much about Cecil the advisor and Dudley the lover whose competition to win the soul of Elizabeth I played out in a horticultural arena as their rivalry was the English fight of the century.

Blotto, Twinks and the Dead Dowager Duchess
Simon Brett
Felony & Mayhem
9781934609927, $14.95,

The Dowager Duchess of Tawcester informs her two offspring (better known as Blotto and Twinks than Honourable or Lady) that the trio will attend a weekend gala at the estate of the Dowager Duchess of Melmont. Blotto tries to avoid Laetitia Melmont who seems to find him with uncanny skill. However, the house party gaiety ends abruptly when someone uses a pitchfork to murder the hostess in her kitchen garden.

While the Dowager Duchess of Tawcester accuses her rival the dead Melmont of doing anything to gain a societal edge, Snitterings the butler sends for Constable Trumbull and Sergeant Knatchbull. Guest amateur sleuth Troubadour Bligh accuses the Tawcester chauffeur Corky Froggett of murdering the Dead Dowager Duchess. Blotto and Twinks know Corky is innocent so they investigate the homicide that leads them to evil League of the Crimson Hand

This is a fun P. G. Wodehouse-light satire of the 1920s manners mysteries in which idle wealthy aristocrats solve cases while simpering moronic constables provide comic relief. As a case against in-breeding Blotto turns into a detractor as he proves IQs can be negative numbers with his incessant need for a zillion explanations mostly from his patient brilliant sibling. Still overall the second Blotto, Twinks aristocratic amateur sleuth (see Blotto, Twinks and the Ex-King's Daughter) is an amusing parody as a name by any other name is still a name.

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats
Jan-Philipp Sendker
Other Press
2 Park Avenue, 24th Floor
New York, NY 10016
9781590514634, $14.95,

Four years ago in New York, Julia Win's Burmese-American father Tin informed her and her mom that he had a business trip in Boston. After he left, his Wall Street secretary Susan called to ask if he was ill. However, instead of Massachusetts, Tin apparently flew with stops in Los Angeles and Hong Kong to Bangkok where he vanished; although flight attendants on Thai Airways claimed to have seen him on flights to London, Paris and Phnom Penh respectively, but none of these clues led to him.

Four years later, Julia's mom gives her a package that belonged to her dad. Inside is a love letter written in 1955 addressed to a Mi Mi from Julia's dad. Needing the truth though she abhors confrontations, Julia decides to risk her career by flying to Burma in order to meet Mi Mi in a remote Burmese village, as she may have been the love of her dad's life even after he resided in America for five decades. When she tells her mom where she is going, the older woman says her husband never truly gave himself to her in thirty five years of marriage.

This is an incredible romance in which true love never dies in spite of fifty years and thousands of miles apart. Once Julia arrives in Burma, she meets U Ba who tells her (and readers) the love story of her father and Mi Mi. Readers will relish this strong historical as Tin proves you can come home while the audience will not walk away with dry eyes.

I've Got Your Number
Sophie Kinsella
Dial Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780385342063, $26.00,

Poppy Wyatt is euphoric as she is engaged to Dr. Magnus Tavish, Fellow at King's College London. She and seven of her friends celebrate her engagement at Marie Curie Champagne Tea. They are looking at her heirloom engagement ring that has been part of his family for three generations when sirens force them outside. However, no one claims to have Poppy's ring while his parents are flying to London from Chicago to meet her. Worse her cell phone is missing too.

Panic and anxiety attacks batter Poppy. When she finds a cell phone tossed in the grave, she uses it to give the hotel a number to reach her if they find the ring. However the phone's owner, Sam Roxton wants his cell back while she refuses. As she reads his fascinating text messages, Poppy meets her future in-laws while hiding her ring hand from them. Adding to her bewilderment is her feelings seem to be out of whack.

This is a zany contemporary romance starring a shocked young woman hoping for a miracle but when one arrives she may miss it. Over the top of King's College London School of Medicine, I've Got Your Number is a madcap frantic chick lit tale.

The Scent of Cherry Blossoms
Cindy Woodsmall
WaterBrook Press
c/o Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200
Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9780307446558, $14.99,

Feeling like an outsider within her mamm-run family in Seneca Falls, Old Order Mennonite nineteen year old Annie Martin moves into the home of her grandfather Daadi Moses in Apple Ridge. When bitter wheelchair bound Old Order Amish Ronan Zook goes to his uncle's farm to fix a broken machine, Annie agrees to help the understaffed family run their restaurant, co-owned by Daadi Moses.

Annie and Ronan's twin brother Aden, who stutters, are attracted to each other. They begin to meet at night, but her Daadi Moses threatens to pull out of the restaurant if they do not stop. The Zook family knows they need him to abide by Pennsylvania statute or lose their diner. At the same time Ronan likes Marian Lee but refuses to believe she would want a cripple.

This is an interesting Old Order romance in which the star-crossed in love protagonists are caught by the strict rules of the Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonite clans they belong to. Character driven by the lead pair but also containing strong unique individuals like mamm and Ronan, readers will appreciate the engaging path to love for the lead couple, his brother and Marian, and a flashback to Daadi Moses' unconventional courting. The Scent of Cherry Blossoms is a fresh fascinating tale as love may not be enough to bridge the differences between the Old Orders of Amish and Mennonites.

A Mosaic Heart - Reshaping the Shards of a Shattered Life
Terry Jones-Brady
Quartet Books
9780615517209, $17.95,

In 1966 in New York City, Terry and Tim met when she auditioned for a part in his production in Norfolk of A Shot In the Dark. They married and in 1969 had their first baby Heather who stayed longer than normal at the hospital due to weighing so little. Soon afterward the couple learns that Heather suffered from cystic fibrosis; at seventeen she was dead. Their second child Holly was also diagnosed with CF, but her condition was considered worse than her older sister. However, like Heather Holly had a strong will and attended college until the illness finally forced her to drop out. She soon joined her sister and grandma.

Terry Jones-Brady provides a poignant memoir focusing on the impact of the worst kind of mental suffering; watching helplessly your children dying while she and her husband also grow emotionally stronger from these tragedies. Both parents changed their dreams to accommodate the needs of their beloved children, and after their deaths to accept that their lives are shattered yet enriched by these brave little girls who fought to live. Terry and Tim accept the need to honor their children by "Reshaping the Shards of a Shattered Life" to help others somewhat heal from similar family losses.

Rapture Alley/Winter Girl/Strictly for the Boys
Harry Whittington
Stark House Press
4720 Herron Road, Eureka, CA 95503
9781933586366, $23.95,

"Rapture Alley." Lora lives with her wheelchair bound sister Chris and lecherous brother-in-law Ken hoping to be a movie star. Her luck has been all bad with her only escape being marijuana as whiskey no longer provides a dulling sensation until she meets Arty and then Boyd.

"Winter Girl." In Cottonseed County, wealthy snowbird Frank wants Fanny the dog, but owner Calder refuses to sell though the lad fears his dad will complete the deal. Frank's daughter Lu Ann arrives flirting with a besotted Calder. However though they drive away together, she sees him as a joyride to taunt her dad. Still there is Judge Stark's daughter Willi Ruth though she too is from a higher social and economic class.

"Strictly for the Boys". Amy met Burt when she was fourteen. Now three years later the married Amy lost her youthful energetic innocence replaced with bitterness due to Burt's jealousy for no cause leading to physical and emotion abuse. Desperate Amy flees back home to her mom Stella when Burt is drafted by the army and meets kind Terry. Burt returns to reclaim his property and her mom supports his position that she is his wife who he insists he will never leave him.

These engaging reprints of three Harry Whittington pulp fictions provide readers with a taste of a non-Happy Days 1950s. Each of the protagonists is fully developed with flaws that make them seem real. With an introduction "The Restoration of Harry" by David Laurence Wilson providing background depth to Mr. Whittington's literary history, fans of stark relationship dramas will want to read this powerful trio.

Not This Time
Vicki Hinze
Multnomah Books
12265 Oracle Blvd., Suite 200
Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781601422071, $13.99,

The second Talbot marriage between Dr. Harvey and FBI agent Roxy occurs at the Seagrove Village country club. Police Detective Jeff Myers arrives late only to find everyone unconscious. One person elderly Clyde Parker, village matriarch Nora's beloved, dies from the chemical terrorist attack. The villagers believe Nihilists in Anarchy (NINA) deployed to send them a warning message for interfering in their illegal unethical operations (see Forget me Not and Deadly Ties).

The endearing relationship between business partners BFF Sara Jones-Tayon and Beth Dawson has increasingly been estranged due to the latter's husband Robert. When Robert calls Beth frantically insisting he has been kidnapped, Jeff thinks Beth is behind the abduction while Beth thinks the "victim" is pulling another con job though she also believes her Joe is playing with her heart. Finally Karl Masson tries to rectify his one act of kindness in order to get back in the graces of NINA's Raven, who remains unidentified and deadly.

The final Crossroads Crisis Center romantic suspense is an exhilarating action-packed thriller from the moment Jeff finds everyone supine on a floor. The storyline ties the major threads up to the delight of fans. Although Raven's identity seems obvious early on in spite of a clever red herring, readers will relish Vicki Hinze's engaging finish to this taut series.

The Next One to Fall
Hilary Davidson
c/o Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765326980, $24.99,

Travel writer Lily Moore still grieves the death three months ago of her sister Claudia (see The Damage Done). Her best friend photographer Jesse Robb persuades Lily to leave New York with him and visit Peru.

At Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas, after hearing an argument, Jesse and Lily see a thirtyish woman dangling from a statue. The female tells them she is Trista and her boyfriend Len drugged her before pushing her off the ledge; they look on in horror as the woman falls to her death at the bottom of the ancient staircase. The police discount the two American's testimony as the forensic evidence fails to support their assertion; ergo the official position is a terrible accident. Lily vows Len will go to prison for his nefarious deed. She learns he is wealthy with a history of females' disappearing with no consequence to him.

This is a terrific amateur sleuth tale enhanced by the superb look into the Incan history of Peru and the vivid description of the Andes and the rest of Peru's geography. The story line is fast-paced and filled with surprising plausible twists as the travel writer plays cat and mouse with a psychopath.

The Rope
Nevada Barr
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312614577, $25.99,

With the death of her spouse, a grieving Anna Pigeon leaves New York as everywhere she goes she remembers her beloved. The thirtyish widow accepts a seasonal ranger position at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area overlooking Lake Powell. She quickly realizes she is not accepted by the other rangers as the mourning outsider. The only exception is her roommate Jenny.

When Anna vanishes, none of her teammates blink as they assume she quit and went back east instead of hiking as she did. She awakens naked at the bottom of a deep dry canyon with no memory of how she ended up trapped inside this "jar"; only her head aches as if she has a concussion and an arm is dislocated from the apparent fall. Disoriented Anna realizes the only way out is through a ladder. Drinking water from a canteen, she falls asleep; when she awakens she knows she was drugged and that her adversary carved "whore" into her leg. A desperate Anna must find a way to escape her hellish natural prison and then search for her adversary.

The Rope is a prequel to the Anna Pigeon's caseload that long time readers will enjoy but need to adapt to the heroine being a tyro ranger and an amateur sleuth battling her first national park psychopath (see Burn). The extremely dark storyline is fast-paced as Anna struggles with escaping her entombment before turning the situation into a cat and mouse war. The support cast especially her fellow rangers are a nasty lot with only Jenny possessing any redeeming qualities. Still series fans will relish this thriller, as out of her element Anna being Anna depends on one person in a survival of the fittest.

Restless in the Grave
Dana Stabenow
9780312559137 $25.99

Alaskan billionaire Finn Grant dies when his Piper crashes. Someone sabotaged the plane's engine, but the question is not who had the motive, but who did not have the motive as just about everyone in the western part of the state loathed Finn.

In Niniltna, Alaskan State Trooper Sergeant Liam Campbell asks his former teacher Sergeant Jim Chopin for help in the investigation of the murder of Grant since he cannot because he believes the prime suspect is his wife bush pilot Wyanet Chouinard. Jim introduces Liam to his beloved private investigator Kate Shugak. After Jim explains the situation, Kate agrees to go undercover at Bill's Bar and Grill to learn more about the victim's business practices. She soon learns Grant, hated by his own family, blackmailed anyone and embezzled from everyone as he committed fraud and other felonious activity. As Kate and her sidekick Mutt work the case she wonders what freight the deceased shipped since he bought the abandoned air force base as the headquarters of his myriad of businesses.

The first meeting between Shugak (see Though Not Dead) and Alaska state trooper Liam Campbell (see Better to Rest) is an entertaining Alaskan investigative thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the two Dana Stabenow's prime series stars meet and never slows down as Kate, the lead protagonist in Restless In The grave, goes from one ice box to another.

Dying in the Wool
Frances Brody
9780312622398 $24.99

Presumed a widow since her husband Royal Medical Corps captain Gerald vanished in 1918 near Villiers-Brettonneaux during heavy bombardment, ironically thirtyish Kate Shackleton has earned a deserved reputation for finding missing people but failed to find her husband. Thus when Tabitha Braithwaite offers her money to investigate the disappearance of her father Joshua in 1916, Kate reluctantly agrees to take on her first paying gig though the case is seven years cold.

Kate and her friend former police officer Jim Sykes make inquiries into what happened to Joshua. They learn the missing person was unfaithful to his wife though a stalwart of the church. His wife Evelyn revels in her independence as she makes it clear she remains euphoric that she does not have to deal with her bullying husband. However, it is Tabitha's fiance Hector who draws her interest as he obviously conceals something. When a mill murder occurs, Kate believes there is a link to her inquiry and sets out it prove her theory though that leaves her in peril.

With a nod to Carola Dunn's Daisy Dalyrmple, the second Shackleton 1920s investigation (see A Medal For Murder) is an entertaining historical mystery. Little things set the time and place; for instance the reaction of the locals to the protagonist driving a car and the instance of her mother to come home as young women do not live alone. A flashback to 1916 enhances the inquiry; while some improbable key scenarios involving major secondary characters detract. Still fans will enjoy this British cozy as Frances Brody provides a wonderful post WWI tale.

Apocalypse To Go
Katharine Kerr
DAW Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street. New York, NY 10014
9780756407094, $7.99,

Across the multiverse, there are infinite earths with many containing people who fight to keep Chaos off their respective plane. to stop worlds colliding. On our earth, the top secret Agency consists of psychics whose mission is to prevent the chaos from entering the orb.

Trans-word enforcement organization TWIXT wants to liaison with the Agency. They vigorously recruit Apocalypse Squad Israeli Interpol agent Ari Nathan. His lover Agency operative Nola O'Grady learns her father in jail on Earth 5, a horrible place but not as horrendous as earth 3, which was destroyed by radiation. Nola must go to 3 because her brothers (world-walker Michael and finder Sean), in a failed attempt to save their dad, are in prison in a grotesque San Fran; a place that is a dark, gritty and filled radiation. Accompanied by Nathan and Spare 14, she travels to 3 to rescue her siblings and with bit of luck her father.

The latest O'Grady dark urban fantasy (see License to Ensorcell and Water To Burn) is a terrific thriller placed within an urban fantasy. Psychic powers are prevalent on some of the many earths. Nola and her family are strong psis whose extrasensory skills along with others make the paranormal seem real. However, Earth 3 makes the tale work as a grim world in which a Capone like individual rules amidst the radioactive poison.

Throne of the Crescent Moon
Saladin Ahmed
9780756407117 $24.95

In Dhamsawaat in the Crescent Moon Kingdoms, Khalif and the Falcon Prince compete for political power. At the same time in this great city, sexagenarian Doctor Adoulla Makhslood is the last professional ghuls slayer. However after decades of hunting down these and other monsters, Adoulla knows it is passed time for him to retire. He feels his apprentice holy warrior Raseed bas Raseed is ready to take up the sword in the name of God.

However, Adoulla delays his retirement when he learns of the ghuls' slaughter of the Badawi clan as the entire extended group was horribly assassinated with one lone survivor, the tribal-shunned Zamia the Lion-Shape. She joins the ghul hunter and his apprentice as they search to kill the incredibly powerful unknown adversary who controls the ghuls as killer drones. The trio soon learns something even more horrible as this lethal insidious predator with ties to the Falcon Prince begins casting an ancient spell that will destroy the world.

With its Arab based mythology, Throne of the Crescent Moon is a fresh fantasy that fans will appreciate. Well written, the story line is 24 fast-paced as time is running out for Adoulla and his associates who uncover the inconvenient truth behind the magic murders. Readers will fully relish Saladin Ahmed's superb thriller and demand more entries in the Crescent Moon Kingdoms.

Dark Side of Valor
Alicia Singleton
c/o Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781593093853, $15.00,

Lelia Freeman was raised in neglect by an alcoholic single mom, who had a parade of men enter their dumpy apartment. When she turned sixteen, Lelia had enough and ran away from home to live on the mean streets of Los Angeles. Although not easy she kept herself clean of drugs and prostitution. Centenarian Ma Ella and her friends at her church take Lelia off the street providing the teen with sustenance for her body, mind and soul.

Lelia feels strongly the best way to pay homage to those who saved her life was to become a rescuer of runaways. Thus Lelia becomes the director of ChildSafe Shelters. Successful and prominent, Lelia joins a Washington task force looking into the orphans of war in the African nation of Sudania. However, this assignment proves dangerous when Sudania president Mawein Boll Deng makes her his prisoner. Mercenary Elijah Dune is the best bet to rescue the rescuer, but he carries the baggage of her one failed mission, his daughter.

This is an exciting romantic suspense starring two people connected by their love for his daughter and their guilt over their failure to protect his child. The story line is fast-paced with the East African war torn background vividly horrifying. Although there is too much stereotyping especially of the people of Sudania, fans will enjoy the Dark Side of Valor; wondering whether the angry lead male will risk his life to save the woman he holds culpable for what happened to his daughter.

Last Man Standing
Cindy Gerard
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9781451606829, $7.99,

Several years ago, the ambush left Black Ops, Inc. operative Bryan Tomkins dead in Sierra Leone. His comrade in arms Joe Green finds some enigmatic evidence that suggests the deadly assault was not as random as reported. At Fort Meade, Maryland Joe ends his relationship with a stunned heartbroken Stephanie for her safety; as he plans to go solo to Sierra Leone to learn the truth and if what he suspects is real take down his friend's killer.

Angry at her stubborn beloved, Stephanie is shook when she learns Joe has been arrested for murdering a priest In Freetown. His Black Ops, Inc. unit is communication shutdown as required by a deep undercover mission so she knows she must go solo to rescue Joe. However, someone in the shadows plans to keep the truth about Bryan interred even if that means killing the man's sister and her lover.

The latest Black Ops, Inc. thriller (see No Mercy, Take No Prisoners) is an exciting action-packed tale that brings much closure to the overarching theme of what really happened to Bryan Tomkins. The key to the fast-paced story line that provides insight into that fatal mission that haunts much of the agents of BOI is the identity of the prime suspect behind the bloody ambush as the romantic subplot takes a back seat to who killed Bryan Tomkins?

An Affair With Mr. Kennedy
Jillian Stone
Grand Central
9781451629002 $7.99

In 1887 London, Detective Zeno Kennedy works for the Special Irish Branch of Scotland Yard whose mission is to prevent anarchists like the Fenians from exploding bombs. He believes a ring of dynamiter aristocrats plan to terrorize the city with bombings in a bid for Irish freedom.

Zeno feels he got a big break on his investigation when he learns his new tenant, Cassandra St. Cloud knows his prime suspect. An artist with a feminist mom the doctor as a role model, Cassie is not afraid or shy to show her attraction to Zak; as he likewise does to her. They begin a tryst but as they fall in love, she learns what caused his original interest and no longer trusts Zak with her heart though she will have his back.

This is an entertaining late Victorian romantic police procedural that grips the audience from the moment we meet the lead couple. The Fenian movement anchors time and place, but it is the relentless diligent detective and his courageous modern day equal who make the first Gentlemen of Scotland Yard historical a heated affair.

Passing Lane
Jacqueline E. Luckett
Grand Central
9780446542999 $14.99

Since she was nine years old and found the bluebook, fifty-six years old Nicole-Marie Handy loves all things French though she has never visited France. Her dying best friend Tamara makes Nicole agree to a death bed pledge of going to Paris. While her married lover Clint asks her to wait; as he swears he will leave his wife Eleanor to marry her and then take her to Paris on their honeymoon.

Nicole ignores Clint and travels to Paris. There she locates a photo of her dad lovingly inscribed by him to RubyMae, a woman she never heard of. She begins to investigate what happened in Paris to her dad after WWII had ended.

Rotating perspective between Nicole's modern day saga and RubyMae's 1940s-1950s drama, Passing Lane is an interesting tale of two women coping with betrayal and failed love yet finding solace in Paris. Character driven by the lead female protagonists, readers will enjoy their similar stories linked by her father though six decades apart.

Julianna Baggott
Grand Central
9781455503063 $25.99

The Detonations ravaged the world. Most people who were normal Before became disfigured as bodies were physically merged. The few fortunate Pure who survived the Detonations with no bodily change moved inside the safety of the Dome; enabling them to remain isolated from those mutilated monsters left outside.

Inside the Dome, Partridge feels alienated and isolated from his Pure peers. His brother committed suicide; his mother is allegedly dead after his influential father abandoned her outside the Dome and abandoned him inside their haven. When he hears a hint that his mom lives Partridge flees his gilded cage to find her.

Outside the Dome, Pressia the teenager lives with her grandfather behind the rubble of what was a barbershop before the Detonations. Although she knows she is fortunate to have had a minor change of a doll head fused in her hand, she misses her former life of amusement parks, movies and especially her parents. Now society demands she like all sixteen years old changelings join the Operation Sacred Revolution militia either as soldiers or training targets. When bewildered Pressia meets Partridge, who rescues him from certain death, two realms detonate as they team up with Bradwell the conspiracy guru to learn the darkest truth about their world.

This is a great post-apocalyptic horror thriller in which Julianna Baggott paints a vivid dark world. The descriptions of the misfortunate changed are grim; for instance some people merged with other people or animals into one grotesque body. Thus the heroine's doll faced hand is minor in comparison. Brutally gruesome with dark humor, readers will appreciate walking in and out of the Dome with Pressia and Partridge as their guides in a trek on the wild side.

Agent 6
Tom Rob Smith
Grand Central
9780446550765 $25.99

In 1950, American singer Jesse Austin arrives in Moscow. A devout Communist, Jesse comes to perform. While Jesse sings on stage; intoxicated angry MGB agent Grigori heads towards the performer. Bitter over the official abduction of his beloved, Grigori causes an embarrassing incident.

In 1965 Moscow, former KGB operative Leo Demidov becomes suspicious when his wife Raisa and their daughters (Zoya and Elena) are added to a contingency heading on a peace mission to New York City to reduce Cold War tension; he is refused passage with his family. Tragedy strikes in America leaving helpless Leo irate and grieving back in Moscow. Fifteen years ago when his protege Grigori interrupted Austin's show, Leo vowed to protect Raisa. Thus he demands the right to find the perpetrator who destroyed his family and consequently his mind. The party leadership says no so Leo goes rogue, but his inquiry takes decades as he travels the world to try to locate Agent 6 who knows the truth of what happened in Manhattan in 1965.

The third Demidov Soviet Union thriller (see The Secret Speech and Child 44) is a great historical that deeply focuses on the impact of almost anyone even a former operative by a totalitarian state with a deadly secret police. Demidov's journey is grim as he understands that all governments protect the State not the individuals; only the Soviet regimes are much harsher in execution.

A Jerusalem Mystery
Frederick Ramsay
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9780967759050, $24.95,

In 28 CE, Jerusalem celebrates Feast of Tabernacles. King Herod Antipas celebrates the holiday with the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate joining the festivities, which are somewhat abated by the recent vicious murder of John the Baptizer.

However, a woman is stabbed to death in Herod's palace; the murder weapon belongs to the king's companion Menahem. Pilate wants to insure a proper investigation occurs this time as he distrusts the Hebrew ruler to do so with who the prime suspect is. He needs someone acceptable by the people who will seek the truth. The Prefect orders Rabban Gamaliel to investigate the palace homicide over the objection of the rabbi who believes he lacks the detective skill set. With assistance from loyal Loukas, the rabbi after a fumbling start begins to uncover the truth starting with who the dead Salome-like "servant" was.

The second biblical era Jerusalem thriller (see Judas the Gospel of Betrayal) is a great ancient historical investigative thriller that brilliantly combines a strong whodunit with the use real figures like Pilate; while also tying key Roman Empire era persona intriguingly to the New Testament. The inquiry by Gamaliel and Loukas is top rate, while Rabbi Jesus of Nazareth remains in the background as an irritant to High Priest Caiaphas.

Sticks and Stones
K.J. Larsen
Poisoned Pen
9781590589236 $24.95

Cleo Jones files for divorce from her cheating spouse Walter who was caught in a tryst with her sister Hotlip the Ho. She shot her husband in the butt with buckshot; while he took her Tibetan terrier Beau, her money and of course her sibling when he went aground.

After previously hiring Chicago-based Pants on Fire Detective Agency private investigator Caterina DeLuca to find who Walter cheated with, Cleo joins Cat to hunt down the cheater in order to regain her dog and what is left of her money. Cat and Cleo enter the suburban house where Walter has hidden. Instead of confronting the felonious blackmailing rat, they find him dead; his body warm. The police arrive at the scene in time to arrest Cleo for murdering her estranged husband. Cat investigates with the help of her FBI agent lover Chance Savino and some friends while concealing Cleo who is out on bail.

The latest DeLuca private investigative tale (see Liar, Liar) is a zany (not the Gingrich variety of zany) jocular thriller. The case against Cleo is a staple of the genre, but the eccentric cast brings an amusing freshness to the mix. Readers will enjoy DeLuca's second case as the Larsen sisterhood provides an amusing whodunit.

Desert Wind
Betty Webb
Poisoned Pen
9781590589816 $24.95

Pima Indian Jimmy Sisiwan, a private investigator, heads home to Walapai Flats, Arizona to be there for his adopted brother, Ted Olmstead, whose wife Kimama the activist founder of Victims of Uranium Mining was recently murdered. The local police hold Ted; they believe, in retaliation to his wife's murder, he killed public relations specialist Ike Donohue, who represented mining interests with the planned opening of the Black Basin Uranium Mine. Roger Tosches, owner of the mine, has a sordid history as he managed another uranium facility, which caused the cancerous deaths of many and poisoned the Navaho reservation where this mine was located.

The police arrest Jimmy as a material witness to the Donahue homicide. His partner in Desert Investigations Lena Jones arrives at the scene to help Jimmy and his extended family. She soon finds links to the 1954 Wayne film The Conqueror while learning the truth about an organization like the government (at all levels) protecting itself from the scandal of the impact of aboveground atomic bomb testing on Downwinders back in the 1950s.

This is an exciting timely Desert thriller (see Desert Lost).in which author Betty Webb provides insight into why officials prefer potential crimes that would embarrass the organization if surfaced to remain interred without justice. Whether it is Penn State or the Atomic Energy Commission and even with Wayne and much of the film crew dying from cancer yet hardly a blink from leaders. Jones is at her best with this inquiry that is fast-paced as the sleuth and readers learn a lot about whose rights are defended and whose are nuked away under the concept of sovereign immunity as the "king can do no wrong."

Everything Is Broken
John Shirley
Prime Books
9781607012924 $14.95

Freedom, California libertarian Mayor Lon Ferrara, owner of a bar and barbeque, privatizes all local government services including first responder emergencies. He also rejected any help from the county, state or feds as he believes in government being the size of a bathtub.

Twenty years old Russ Haver comes to the pristine coastal town to visit his dad Drew. In Freedom Russ meets Pendra, a young woman who fascinates him. A tsunami hammers the West Coast turning Freedom into a wasteland. After being trapped on a rooftop that he defends with his brother from others joining them, the mayor remains adamant no FEMA in spite of the townsfolk in dire straits as services collapse and shelter is limited; instead he makes a deal with a gang leader. Making matters worse is the violence by some of the survivors like predatory drug dealing gangbanger Dickie Rockwell, who sees the chaos and lack of leadership as an opportunity to impose his brutal vision of civilization on others.

Although improbable, this powerful environmental thriller extrapolates the dual premises of those who want to eliminate government providing services as a corollary to paying no taxes into what happens when disaster strikes leading to Everything Is Broken inside of Freedom. Action-packed form the moment the immense tidal wave attacks the town and never slows down as the only "proactive" response comes from the gang leader, fans will enjoy this strong condemnation of political leaders vowing pledges rather than performing governance.

Sophie Littlefield
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373803422, $14.95,

California remains a wasteland overrun by the Beaters whose cunning has exponentially increased since the zombie wave began (see Aftertime). Survivor Cass Dollar, who once was a Beater, and her daughter Ruthie reside in New Eden where life remains hard for the living. Cass has two men she cares about, comatose Smoke and Dor, who is married to another woman and has a daughter; the latter of whom Cass helped rescue (see Rebirth).

As New Eden suffers from Beaters' assaults and dwindling supplies, men on horseback arrive. Their leader Mathew claims there is a passage to a better Eden in the north. Cass and the others jump at the opportunity to relocate to a New Eden so begin a deadly sojourn led by Mayhew.

The third post-apocalyptic Aftertime urban horror fantasy is a fast-paced grim entry once Mayhew arrives to disrupt the order with a new dream. The dark Pacific landscape remains nightmarish as beaters are everywhere and civilization no where. While some like defrocked leader Dana wonders if Mayhew is the serpent leading them to their doom, others like Cass finds a renewal of hope in the newcomer's assertion. Although the storyline starts slow, readers will relish the latest Dollar adventures in the nightmarish Littlefield realm.

The Third Coincidence
David Bishop
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G
Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781608090341, $25.95,

The killer, calling himself Commander LW, assassinates Supreme Court Justices Adam Monroe with poison and Herbert Clarkson by slicing his throat; the predator has also arranged the "accidental" death of Federal Reserve Board governor J.T. Santee driving too fast in the Poconos. The FBI and other law enforcement make no progress in bringing the terrorist to justice. With the media in a feeding frenzy and the public demanding action, President Samuel Schroeder knows the label of incompetence is tearing down his Administration while more kills are expected from the leader of the of the American Militia to Restore Representative Government.

President Schroeder directs CIA agent Jack McCall to lead a multi-agency task force to locate these terrorists. The FBI assigns Special Agent Rachel Johnstone to the team. McCall and Johnstone share a personal history, but both insist they can work together as each understands the mission is to take down L.W. before this Commander takes down other government officials.

This is an exciting action-packed thriller that grips readers with the opening assassinations and never slows down until the final confrontation though there is a somewhat repetitiveness feel to the cat and mouse storyline. A romantic subplot seems a forced requirement, but fans will enjoy the heroics of Jack and Rachel as they play chess against a homegrown terrorist or more.

The Perfect Death
James Andrus
Pinnacle Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9780786027699, $7.99,

He calls himself Buddy and considers himself an artist whose milieu being glass so that his models live forever. He also does repairs to pay his bills and find his subjects. With his angelic looks and gentle demeanor, women hire him feeling safe with him. However, Buddy obsesses over completing his masterpiece. To do so he strangles selected females and captures their last grasp of breath inside a glass container customized for that chosen one.

Jacksonville police failed to realize they have a serial killer hunting their citizens. Detectives John Stallings and Patty Levine work the case of missing teenage Leah Tischler that reminds him of his daughter who vanished three years ago when she was sixteen years old Jeanie. When the corpse of a female strangled with Leah's belt is found at a construction site and another body is found in a children's playground, the JPD conclude a serial killer stalks the city. Obsessing Stallings is determined capture this psychopath ASAP, but knows that it will take a lot of luck to find this man who blends so well when in society.

The third Stallings Jacksonville serial killer thriller (see The Perfect Woman and The Perfect Prey) is a super serial killer investigation. Stallings knows time has run out for the next victim and though he feels helpless to prevent her death, he refuses to quit. He and his Jacksonville Sheriff's Department Missing Persons partner Levine are dedicated, diligent detectives who never give up once on a case though his hope to recover Jeanie ebbs and flows with his official workload. Faster than the speed of light, James Andrus provides an exciting tale as "art" steals life.

Shedding Light on Murder
Patricia Driscoll
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive
Waterville, ME 04901
9781432825539, $25.95,

Former probation officer Grace Tolliver owns Pearl's Antique Lamps and Shades in Barnstable Village on Cape Cod. Client Danielle Whitney calls asking Grace to pick up a lamp the picky socialite wants cleaned and rewired. Grace sends employee Duane Kerbey to complete the chore.

Soon afterward, the police arrest the Pinewood halfway house parolee Duane on a charge of murdering Whitney. Grace knows she must mind her business, but wonders what motive her employee had and besides she feels she owes Duane for sending him over to the Whitney home. With help from store employees (Michael Shipworth and Bella Benson), she investigates finding a motley crew who had motive and opportunity to kill the nasty victim. However Grace wonders whether Danielle's angry acrimonious brother Howard, Valerie the offender realtor, or Father Murrey caught searching for the deceased's diary murdered the obnoxious Danielle.

Readers will feel they are on the Cape during a series of blizzards "as the weather outside is frightful", but to the victim and the accused not very delightful. Grace knows she already has flak from villagers who resent her hiring Duane so she has another motive to uncover the truth. This is a strong wintry suspense amateur sleuth.

Ancient Spirits
Alice Duncan
Five Star
9781432825706 $25.95

In June of 1922 in Pasadena, unable to cope anymore with his physical and emotional combat related traumas, Billy Majesty commits suicide. His wife spiritualist Daisy Gumm Majesty is heartbroken though she increasingly expected her beloved to kill himself. Following Billy's funeral, Daisy's wealthy friend Harold Kinkaid suggests she join him on a tour of the Middle Eastern tour. Grieving, the depressed Daisy accepts as she feels she needs to get away from California.

Billy's best friend local police officer Sam Rotondo follows Daisy and Harold to Egypt. He tells himself he just wants to keep Billy's widow safe from thugs who assault naive tourists, but deep inside his gut he knows that is a rationalization to conceal how he feels about Daisy.

The latest spirited Daisy Gumm Majesty post WWI thriller (see Genteel Spirits and Hungry Spirits) is an engaging historical. Daisy mourns her loss, but also provides ironic social commentary on the colonial caste system. The inane villains detract from what otherwise is an insightful 1920s character study of a grieving widow leaving home for the first time with the support of two men who care deeply about her welfare.

Family Way
Michael Z. Lewin
Five Star
9781432825423 $25.95

In Bath, the residents of Walcot Street hoist their annual Nation Day festival in which the locals declare The Republic of Wolcott independent from Great Britain. Angelo Lunghi goes to meet a client wanting to hire his family detective agency. Angelo's Mama hopes her single spinster daughter Rosetta meets a keeper man while serving on the party's organizing committee. She also worries about her unmarried son Salvatore, who has opted out of the family. Angelo's teenage daughter Marie accompanied by her BFF Cassie secretly goes to meet Jason.

However, the festivities are interrupted by the finding of a corpse connected to new neighbor Azaria Daniels. Marie becomes a near victim of a predator and Rosetta has two men interested in her. Finally the mystery of Salvatore begins to clear up as the Lunghi family led by their septuagenarian matriarch and patriarch investigate.

The third entertaining Lunghi cozy (see Family Business and Family Planning) is a wonderful cozy. The ensemble cast is a delight, the food overwhelming and the myriad of subplots nicely juggled before deftly being tied together. Readers will want more tales from the family who detects together stays together though Salvatore and Rosetta seek independence.

Murder in a Basket
Amanda Flower
Five Star
9781432825676 $25.95

Martin College librarian India West regrets agreeing to running the Stripling Founders' Festival face-painting booth as no one says no to her sister Carmen (or their parents) when it came to volunteering. At least she hopes to sell some of her paintings; that is until an irate vendor Lynette accuses her of using her connection to her sibling. On the other hand Tess the vendor praises India's work.

Tess' adopted son Derek has a crush on India who tells him he must stop giving her unwanted gifts or calling her his special friend as this leaves a false impression and besides his uncle is the college provost Sam Lepcheck. After the gala ends, India takes the wrong cart so she goes back to retrieve hers to keep her paintings from being ruined by the evening moisture. She finds the corpse of Tess who inherited Zach the dog whose owner Tess' Uncle Victor left the canine with a million dollar trust fund. Detective Mains leads the police inquiry while India and Ina her elderly landlady investigate finding corpse number two and a suspect near the body.

The second India Hayes amateur sleuth (see Maid of Murder) is an engaging cozy starring a wonderful protagonist, several quirky supporting cast members (including Derek whose puppy love worship is a problem for the librarian) and a killer hiding in plain sight. Readers will enjoy this Buckeye State whodunit.

The Winslow Incident
Elizabeth Voss
Five Star
9781432825461 $25.95

In the summer of 2010 in Winslow, Washington, Pard Holloway's cattle begin acting weird and start dying for no apparent reason; he wonders if mad cow disease has struck the herd. Pard's seventeen year old niece Hazel Winslow is concerned and announces she will expose her uncle's tainted beef. Pard warns Hazel that if she should raise the alarm, he will likewise tell what really happened to the town's late baker Hawkin Rhone five years ago; a truth that would probably lock away her boyfriend Sean Adair.

Soon after their unfriendly confrontation, the crazy symptoms displayed by cattle spread to humans who act increasingly insane. As those humans still behaving normal dwindles rapidly, Hazel wonders what is going on in her hometown as she no longer believes mad cow disease has struck Winslow.

This is an entertaining small town supernatural thriller. The fun in the tale is following stunned Hazel as her family, friends and neighbors go insane leaving her as the last one standing. Although the horror element is not very suspenseful, readers will enjoy Elizabeth Voss' fun paranormal version of And Then There Was None.

Murder in Argeles
D-L Nelson
Five Star
9781432825515 $25.95

Thirtyish American expatriate technical writer Annie Young completes a business trip in Zurich. Afterward she returns to her apartment in Argeles-sur-mer, France. Following her coming home, Annie goes to see her friend Pere Yves to discuss the research he is doing in Rennes-le-Chateau, but instead she finds his dead body on his church floor.

Annie calls the police though that means dealing with her former boyfriend, Chief Roger Perrin. He accompanies Annie back to the church, but there is no body to be found. His staff believes she placed a false alarm to see Roger, but the police chief knows Annie would never do that as he wants her back not the other way around; and besides there is blood on a broken statue. Thus he assigns his staff to find the missing corpse.

The latest "Third Culture Kid" whodunit (see Murder in Caleb's Landing) is an engaging mystery starring a wonderful TCK heroine. The D-Lightful story line deftly merges the investigation with historical tidbits. Roger is a terrific cop who wants a second chance with Annie while his daughter encourages him. Readers will enjoy this exciting thriller starring an American in Argeles.

The Compassion of Father Dowling
Ralph McInerny
Five Star
9781432825102 $25.95

The latest Father Roger Dowling short story collection (see The Wisdom of Father Dowling) contains sixteen entertaining mysteries in Fox River, Illinois. Most of the contributions were previously printed in the Catholic Dossier; twelve of the entries were printed in the 1990s while the other four between 2000 and 2002. The anthology begins with "Occult Compensation" as someone leaves a suitcase filled with cash at Father Dowling's St. Hilary. Harriet and Leo are to marry at St. Hillary but is ready to convert to Catholicism or pay any cost as Earl wants her as his wife in "The Base of the Triangle". Harry the derelict works hard at the parish, but soon becomes embroiled in what happened to "The Missing Leonardo." This is a fine compilation as no one will think of Bingo in the same way while paying homage to the late Ralph McInerny who dies last January.

A Haunted Twist of Fate
Stacey Coverstone
Five Star
9781432825416 $25.95

Fourteen months ago her dad died only six month after her mom passed away. On top of that men wanted her fortune not her. So needing to leave Illinois, Shay Brennan arrives in Hill City, South Dakota. On a whim she contacts Widower realtor Colt Morgan and buys the historic Buckhorn Saloon, built in 1885.

Her sleep in her first night inside her new home is interrupted by a female ghost begging for her to help her. Not long afterward Colt arrives at midnight to make sure she is okay as a caller woke him to say he saw water running out the front door and a woman entered through the unopened door. Since the ground is dry, Colt assumes the caller was intoxicated. As the realtor and his client begin to fall in love, Shay realizes she has a second paranormal presence in her new house, but unlike the woman, he is evil.

This is an enjoyable ghost romance starring a wonderful female and an equally delightful male. They fall in love while sleuthing the saloon spooks to learn why they haunt the place and what happened over a century ago. The romantic subplot supersedes the ghost story as A Haunted Twist of Fate leads to love.

Where She Belongs
Cindy Procter-King
Five Star
9781432825454 $25.95

Nearly a decade has passed sine the logging tragedy killed the father and high school sweetheart of Jess Morgan. Grieving her dual loss, Jess cannot turn to her mom who found solace with another man. Jess left her hometown of Destiny Falls, British Columbia vowing to never return to the sight of her greatest trauma and betrayal.

However, when her stepfather dies, Jess the shoe buyer returns to Destiny Falls to briefly be there in order to persuade her mom to live with her in Toronto as she hopes to mend their estrangement. Jess is stunned by how much her mother needs her and how much forester Adam Wright wants her. Adam pushes for a permanent relationship amidst their families in Destiny Falls but fearful of relationships as loved ones die Jess prepares to flee back to Ontario.

This is an entertaining family drama starring a young woman unable to move past the losses of her dad and her boyfriend. Jess makes the tale as she brings realism with her trauma. Her mom's inability to cope then and now enhance how alone Jess felt back then. Although Adam is a bull in a china shop when his beloved needs gentle support, fans will enjoy visiting Destiny Falls in picaresque British Columbia.

Defending Jacob
William Landay
Delacorte Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780385344227, $26.00,

For twenty-two years, Andy Barber worked in the Middlesex County, Massachusetts Office of the District Attorney. By 2007, he had become the first assistant district attorney reporting only to DA Lynn Canavan. However, in April 2007, CPAC State Police report the stabbing murder of Ben Rifkin, a Newton middle school classmate of Andy's son Jacob. Because a child is involved, which denotes media frenzy, Andy takes the lead as first prosecutor.

However, he soon finds himself in a conflict of interest when the local police arrest Jacob. Stunned by the accusation, Andy and his wife Laurie deny their child would commit a murder as each assumes some psychopathic child molester is the guilty party. Jacob swears he is innocent and both believe him though the evidence overwhelmingly makes it clear that their child killed a classmate. Andy and Laurie struggle between saving their offspring and accepting what appears to be the horrifying truth especially with other questionable deaths while his protege Neil Loguidice takes over the case.

This is taut legal thriller that grips the reader from the opening Grand Jury testimony to the stunning out of control climax. This is a fast-paced yet extremely cerebral tale with a profound look at the conflict between what happened and justice the American way. Readers will relish this tale as Andy, by Defending Jacob, learns that death may be a better option than the truth about himself and his loved ones.

Darker After Midnight
Lara Adrian
9780345530875 $24.00

The Ancients came to earth to rape, pillage and conquer; but their manifest destiny fails when their sons lead a rebellion that eliminated all of the invaders except for one survivor. Dragos the Breed megalomaniac believes his brethren should rule the earth with humans as their slaves. He forces the Ancient One to mate with the Breedmates in order to raise a super powerful army of first generation warriors under his command.

Disgraced enforcer Sterling Chase sacrifices himself to buy time for his Order vampire comrades to escape exposure. In a human prison, Sterling sees Tavia Fairchild, aid to US Senator Robert Clarence; she picks him up in a line-up after he tried to kill a guest at the Senator's party. Sterling thinks her employer, who is not what he seems, wants her dead, but also believes she is not human. When he realizes what species she is he is shocked. The Order takes both of them to a safe house but the same time the pair falls in love he struggles to control his bloodlust and must prepare for the civil war with Dragos and his soldiers. As Dragos brings a sea of red to the streets, the Order leader Lucan Thorne and his warriors including Sterling and Taviagear up for the last battle.

The final Midnight Breed urban fantasy is a great finish to a super saga. Sterling has a chance for redemption due to his mate while Tavia is much more than she first seems. With major threads tied up and the return of Breed Mates from previous entries (see Kiss of Midnight, Kiss of Crimson, Taken by Midnight, and Deeper than Midnight), fans will enjoy Midnight in the world of Adrian. A superb writer pens a fantastic tale

The Lord Of Illusion
Kathryne Kennedy
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139
Naperville, IL 60563
9781402236549, $7.99,

In 1774, hybrid Lord Drystan Hawkes wants to free England from the vicious Elven lords, which includes his despicable sire. To do this he must open the portal to Elfhame that will force these evil abominations from his country; and he believes he finally has the key.

In Elfhame, Camille Ashton the slave possesses the means to open the portal. Drystan also realizes she is his soul mate, which makes him wary of placing her in danger. Drystan goes to rescue his beloved and obtain the key. When they meet, she finds her attraction to him enhanced by her first encounter with a pure soul while he realizes somehow his magical skills are enhanced by his mate. As they fall in love while risking their lives, Camille and Drystan fight the malevolent elf lords.

The latest Elven Lord historical romantic fantasy (The Fire Lord's Lover) is a wonderful tale as the heroic protagonists are prepared to die for their noble cause while each is willing to sacrifice themselves for the other. The story line is fast-paced throughout as love exponentially amplifies the skills of the lead couple, but that may not be enough to overcome the wicked elf lords in an engaging good vs. evil battle.

King Of Darkness
Elisabeth Staab
9781402263156 $7.99

Isabel Anthony lacked any power so she was ridiculed by her vampire peers as a nonentity freak until she left. She masquerades as a human; becoming the last shift DJ at Club Insomniac in Orlando. As she takes a bite out of Venus, Thad Morgan and his bodyguard Lee arrive seeking the female who will help the former meet the prophecy that will save his periled race from extinction. He realizes she has the mark of his destined mate as described by the oracle, but neither Thad nor Lee expected her to be in to females. However, instead of welcoming her king, Isabel flees.

Thad catches Isabel and explains they are destined mates who share a common mark that when they mate will release powers to save their species from the insidious wizards. In combat, she becomes a believer when her latent skills surface. As Isabel ponders her changing situation, she vanishes, which has her beloved mate and his subjects panicked that the vicious wizards have taken their queen.

This is a complex superb romantic urban fantasy in which the first venture into the Staab mythological universe seems genuine due to anchoring places like Orlando and the fact that innocent humans are collateral damage in the cross-species war. Filled with action from the moment a stunned Thad enters the late night human bar and never slowing down, readers will enjoy the vampire king seeking his soul mate in order to save his species from the wrath of the wizards.

The Cat Star Chronicles: Stud
Cheryl Brooks
9781402251689 $7.99

Though the species is near extinction due to ethnic cleansing, throughout the galaxy, Zetithian males are renowned for their sexual prowess of giving pleasure to females of all races. The legendary king of sexual pleasure is Tarq Zulveidinoe; women cherish his special touch. Ironically he lacks esteem outside of sex; so his mission to save his race is to take care of females everywhere.

On Talus Five, Lucinda Force has lived a lifetime being told by her selfish family that no man will ever desire a plain looking woman like her. Working at her father's Mediterranean-style restaurant, Lucy wants romantic love, but expects to live and die alone. Tarq smells her before entering the restaurant. When she asks what he wants, he says a "full order of you." She recognizes him from his TV commercial of offering to service human females in order to repopulate his dying species. However, he knows he can no longer get his double joint up for other clients since he smelled his Lucy.

The latest Cat Star Chronicles Zetithian science fiction romance is an exhilarating entry that reads like a gender twisting of the previous tale Virgin. Since the overarching theme of the early chronicles involving who committed the atrocity of the pandemic destruction of a race and their planet was resolved in Hero, this Zetithian focuses on the relationship between a Stud who as the hero knows Colonel Sanders' secret formula and a Virgin who knows Greek and Italian cuisine. Series fans will enjoy the latest sexcapades in the Brooks galaxy.

Deliver Me From Darkness
Tes Hilaire
9781402236434 $7.99

After God created the earth, several angels volunteered to live and protect humans from the Fallen led Lucifer. However, over the millennia, the purebred Paladins have dwindled with no females left. Still there remains their offspring with humans fighting with less power to defeat the evil demons and vampires.

Nine decades ago, Roland the Paladin was changed into a vampire, which means execution. For ninety years he has struggled to retain his essence but each year has become increasingly difficult in spite his best friend and former partner Calhoun's help. In New York City when he meets a previously unknown female Paladin Karissa who is unaware what she is as she comes to his door, Roland feels God is punishing him as she is his soul mate but he is no longer worthy to have her as his. Meanwhile paladins, demons and vampires stalk Karissa with Roland vowing to die to keep this naive female he cherishes with what is left of his soul safe. She instinctively knows vampires are wicked, but only with Roland at her side does she feel safe.

The first Paladin Warrior romantic urban fantasy is a wonderful thriller in which the paranormal Hilaire world is firmly established so that readers understand who's on whose side of the war while believing that demons, vampires and paladins walk the streets of Manhattan. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy the star-crossed romance between the female paladin and her vampiric soul mate.

A Demon Does It Better
Linda Wisdom
9781402236723 $14.99

In Inderman, Dr. Lili Carter the witch takes a staff position at Crying Souls Hospital. She conceals from the hospital administration her real reason for returning to the asylum where she worked ages ago. Lili searches for her friend Sera who worked here before vanishing without a trace.

The physician is stunned by the poor conditions of the facility and the haphazard care of the staff. She is especially shocked by the mistreatment of Jared the demon Patient 1172. Dr. Mortimer incarcerated 1172 for what the patient thinks is forever. However, he may have found his miraculous cure with the new doctor as he and Lili are attracted to one another. They team up to learn the insidious truth of what is going down at Crying Souls Hospital.

This romantic fantasy is an exciting thriller due to a strong unique support cast from a feline complaining that Minneapolis is not Inderman to Dragon nurses to the return of the "Hellion Guard" (see Demons Are a Girl's Best Friend). The protagonists are an interesting forbidden (not for medical relationship reasons) pairing of a patient and a doctor while the villain is as vile as they come. Although the romantic subplot at times distracts from the taut suspense, fans will enjoy visiting the Wisdom magical realm.

Hold Me If You Can
Stephanie Rowe
9781402241970 $14.99

Nigel Aquarian prefers painting to swordplay. However, after a century and a half of imprisonment with his warrior in arms brothers (see Blaine Underhill in Kiss At Your Own Risk and Jarvis Swain in Touch If You Dare) by an evil witch, he remains vigil though he believes the stroke of the brush is mightier than the sword.

Nigel realizes a more lethal threat has arisen. He puts aside the brush and palette to confront the evil. However, he believes chocolatier Natalie Fleming, who he is attracted to, is the key as the vortex of this deadly danger due to a Faustian gift.

The third Warrior urban fantasy is an entertaining paranormal romance starring a reluctant unique hero and a caught in the crosshairs heroine. The story line is fast-paced and filled with tense action yet also has some amusing moments (a trademark of Stephanie Rowe). Readers will enjoy the adventures in love and danger between Nigel the artist and Natalie the Chocolatier.

The Lure of Song and Magic
Patricia Rice
9781402255748 $14.99

Children television producer Dylan "Oz" Ozwin has spent the past year in a futile search for his missing son Donal. Concerned friends and family tell him to accept the reality that his child is dead, but Oz refuses end his hunt.

Recently the enigmatic Librarian sends Oz an email suggesting he talk with former tweener singing sensation Syrene at the Little Angels Childcare center in El Padre, California where he asks to meet with Phillipa "Pippa" James, her real name. She vowed to never sing again while becoming a children's author. While sympathetic to his dire quest, she fears reentering the public domain as the magic of her voice has caused emotional problems; yet Oz seems immune to her power.

Bringing the Malcolm Magic series (see Must be Magic and Magic Man) to the present (Pippa is a Malcolm), fans of the saga will appreciate Patricia's Rice clever exhilarating romance. Part of the fun is Pippa's efforts to hide her magic in the instant digital age (think of the opening scenes in I Am Number Four). Fast-paced from the moment the desperate father follows any even remote lead takes him to the voice of power, fans will enjoy This Magic Moment as he is immune to the Lure of Song and Magic but not love.

Secrets: Would You Share Yours?
Freya North
9781402260148 $14.99

Joe loves his life as he has a great job building bridges around the world, lives in a wonderful house in Saltburn by the sea, and has no dangling relationships. However, being away a lot, Joe needs a house sitter to walk Wolf, but she must respect his quiet. He advertises in the Cleveland Gazette. London manicurist Tess applies for the position. She arrives for the interview with her eighteen month old daughter Em. Although he wants no noisy children and does not like the fact she never mentioned Em, Joe gives her the job temporarily mostly because she likes the garden.

Joe and Tess forge a tentative relationship, but he finds it odd that she fears beaches. As they begin to open up to one another, Joe learns Em's dad is Dick an irresponsible singer while Tess finds out why he relishes bridge building. As their threat of leaving abates, an attraction grows between them, but though he reaches out into the darkness with a need to be a Friend and Lover to her and a father to Em, her fears cripple her from crossing the bridge.

Although the reason for Tess' trauma seems a bit weak, fans will appreciate this contemporary romance starring a reclusive male and a neurotic female. The support cast to include Em and Tess' BFF Tamison and sister Claire are bridges to the story line as they anchor past and present. Readers will enjoy this engaging tale of a traumatized single mom finding love but contentment is much harder to achieve.

Rusty Fischer
Medallion Press, Inc.
1020 Cedar Lane, No. 2N
St. Charles, IL 60174
9781605424491, $9.95,

After being bitten by a vile vicious vampire, the good Savior vampires save Lily Fielding by preventing an infection from destroying her town. They enroll Lilly in the Afterlife Academy of Exceptionally Dark Arts. The lowest of the food chain as a Sister, Lily dreams of becoming a Savior.

Two decades later, the tyro graduates Is still a Sister. Her assignment along with her classmates Alice and Cara are to identify the Vamplayer and the female he plans to victimize in order to make friends with the latter before the former can take control of the target. The three Sisters covet becoming a Savior though this mission is not expected to bring them closer as this is a minor task in Raven Roost, North Carolina in which a blog entry sends them to the Nightshed Conservatory for exceptional Girls and Boys. Lily thinks the intended mark is Bianca and the Vamplayer is Tristan; her two Sisters hook up with the endangered student. However, routine proves a false assumption when the two Sisters are tempted by a super bad Vamplayer with plans to convert the school and villagers to be slaves, and Lily the Third Sister is occupied by her attraction to Zander.

Teenage fans of Rachel Caine and Rachel Caine will appreciate the fresh Fischer vampire mythos. Lily is courageous and foolish, which leads to readers wondering whether she can triumph over the evilest Vamplayer she has ever confronted and worse her heart. Vamplayer is a fun paranormal thriller.

Black Pawn
Michael Gerhardt
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough St., Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781257975686, $19.95,

In April 1980 Liberia Sister Marie Claude runs the St. Antony's Orphanage filled with many Bassa children. Sister Marie knows she has come a long way from her Brussels home, but feels she is doing God's work helping these displaced kids. Kru tribesmen arrive and open fire killing children and Sister Marie.

In 2013 at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Judge Klaus Pfand assigns the Investigator's Branch to look into the 1980 Liberian massacre seeking those who financed the bloody coup against the brutal Americo-Liberians regime. Chief Investigator Mauston knows this is a futile assignment, but has no choice as the judges choose the mission. Marstan heard Pfand's sister was raped and murdered while working at an orphanage in 1980; so he concludes this one is personal. Marstan selects Dominique Perdu as the World Court's special field investigator. Domi knows with Taylor having been tried no one in the international community will care about her probe, but she has a personal stake in what happened in 1980. In Monrovia and the tribal villages, Domi uncovers the causes behind the historical violence between tribes. However, she miscalculates that no one will care; as the vigililant CIA is on alert observing her progress; their mantra is the truth will set you dead.

Black pawn is refreshing unique tale that uses a thriller storyline to tell the tragic history of Liberia with a focus on the 1980s and 1990s. Fast-paced, readers except those non-apologist super-patriots quoting Stephen Decatur's "Our Country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but right or wrong, our country!" will appreciate Michael Gerhardt's exhilarating insightful thriller as Liberia is the prime character.

The Probability of Miracles
Wendy Wunder
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10014
9781595143686, $17.99,

Sixteen years old Cam Cooper knows she is dying from terminal cancer. She wants to enjoy her final countdown in Florida with her Flamingo List of things to do before dying rather than spend more time in hospitals as she has for the last seven years. However, her widow mom Alicia refuses to give up the battle while Cam begins her final checklist robbing a plastic flamingo.

When Cam's doctor tells her mom she needs to pray for a miracle, Alicia pursues the miracle rather than wait for heavenly intervention. She takes Cam and her tweener other child Perry to Promise, Maine; a place that can only be found through a Dunkin' Donuts shop. Cynical about the relocation to find a miracle, Cam is happy to see her cancer peer and BFF Lily though both know the second F in their friendship will be short. She meets and is attracted to enigmatic Asher, who gives the teenager preparing to die hope that perhaps Promise will provide the elusive miracle.

The powerful cast makes for a superb profound character study. Cam is terrific as she loathes but accepts the inevitable. The support characters enhance the deep tale as her mom refuses to surrender her endeavor to save her child and her sister is mature and stoic. Other players like her cancer comrade Lily and Asher support Cam's bid to die normal while helping her find hope. Avoiding melodrama with some jocularity, this is obviously not an easy read, The Probability of Miracles is an insightful teen tale as life may suck but it is our only life.

Almost Everything
Tate Hallaway
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10014
9780451235664, $9.99,

In humid hot St. Paul, hybrid witch-vampire Anastasija Parker's sort of boyfriend purebred vamp Elias Constantine lives in the basement of the home of her mom, queen of the witches. Though Ana's dad is the king of the St. Paul vampires, she knows vamps and witches are natural enemies. Yet her mom and Elias enjoy discussing 1970s nostalgia while treating Ana like a terrible two year old for calling that era ancient history.

Meanwhile her ex Nikolai Korov the Russian-Romany rock star wants a second round with Ana, but, he is the junior vampire slayer, which makes for a dysfunctional relationship when your GF is the vampire princess. She also is hounded by high school hockey star turned actor mundane Matthew Thompson. However, relationship dynamics fade when the Prince of the Southern Region vampires Luis David Montezuma arrives; demanding a replacement mate since Anna freed Khan from a marriage alliance between the two regions or war will occur. Ana mentions she has no one to offer except Elias; Montezuma accepts, but Ana explains her dad banished them. War between the regions seems likely unless Ana can find a way to prevent the hostilities.

The boys of summer in the city heat up St. Paul as the teen protagonist finds she misses her simpler geek days rather than deal poorly with witch and vampire politics along with men wanting her. The final Vampire Princess urban young teen fantasy (see Almost Final Curtain and Almost To Die For) is an engaging fast-paced thriller as the dhampir heroine learns life is convoluted when you are the potential heir to the region's witch and vampire thrones while seemingly every male besides Dr. Who wants her.

Dreaming Awake
Gwen Hayes
9780451235541 $9.99

Haden Black first entered teenage Theia Alderson's life in her dreams. They met in person at school in Serendipity Falls, California. She fell in love with Haden and proved her feelings when she gave up everything for him as she entered the Under realm to bargain for his life (see Falling Under).

Now she is back in Serendipity Falls a changed young woman having survived incarceration and much more in the Under. However, she has also come back with the same lethal craving that her beloved suffers with. She learns how strong her Haden is as, feeling like a heroine addict, control of the hunger is impossible yet he does it; so Theia knows she must do so. However, when students at their high school become ill from an unidentified disease, Theia fears Haden is the cause. While she struggles with her need and her fears that her beloved has Fallen Under, his past has arrived in Serendipity Falls with plans to destroy her mentally by destroying her loved ones.

The second Under early teen romantic fantasy continues the escapes of two intriguing individuals in love, but unsure whether they should remain together as each believes he is bad for her. The stalker enhances the dilemma facing Theia, as her choices are limited to be with him or not to be with him when her heart chooses the former and her brain says the latter to avoid horrific consequences to others. Although some of the support cast feels out of place, readers will enjoy the deadly triangle.

The Garden Intrigue
Lauren Willig
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10014
9780525952541, $25.95,

In 1804, secret agent Augustus Whittlesby, residing in France for over a decade, conceals his espionage missives to the English within inane dull poetry. The surveillance agents loathe Whittlesby's babble so they never look closely at his insufferable garbage he calls poetry.

New York expatriate Widow Emma Delagardie arrived in France years ago with her uncle the American envoy. She knows the Emperor's stepdaughter and was married to a deceased Frenchman. Emma hosts a weekly literary gathering at her salon, which includes insipid Augustus and Jane Wooliston (see The Secret History of the Pink Carnation). Whittlesby learns that Napoleon plans to reveal a secret weapon at a gala at Malmaison. He teams up with Emma to gain entrance as she has an invitation; along with Jane they find out what the weapon is. However, Emma has other plans for Napoleon's weapon of mass destruction as she plots to steal and sell the war machine.

The latest Pink Carnation espionage historical romance series (see The Orchid Affair and The Mischief of the Mistletoe) is an entertaining tale as readers will laugh at the terrible poetry of the protagonist. The storyline is fast-paced however the villain fails to match up against the hero so the suspense is not as taut as previous entries. Still series fans will enjoy the poem is mightier than the sword.

Catch Me
Lisa Gardner
9780525952763 $26.95

Two years ago on January 21 at 8:00 PM with no forced entry, someone strangles Randi in Providence. Her two BFFs from their New Hampshire childhoods Jackie and Charlene mourn their loss. One year ago on January 21 at 8:00 PM with no forced entry, someone murders Jackie in Atlanta. Both cases remain cold as of January 17 this year.

Boston Sergeant Detective D. D. Warren has just returned to work after ten weeks on maternity leave with the birth of Jack, who she believes inherited her insomnia. She is cranky not due to Jack but because her Florida parents are coming to see their grandson; Warren prefers they stay home. Charlie is at Warren's latest crime scene when the detective notices and confronts her. The woman explains that in four days she will be dead, but she refuses to die without a fight; if the predator succeeds she wants a top Boston homicide cop like Warren to investigate her homicide. While inquiring into the Charlie case, Warren also searches for an avenger killing pedophiles.

The latest Warren police procedural (see Love You More, Who Do You Love? and The Neighbor) is a great twisting psychological thriller. The protagonist has her hands filled with her newborn and two difficult convoluted cases while she is mentally struggling to regain her workaholic pit bull tendencies. Fans will immensely enjoy this taut strong suspense tale.

Believing the Lie
Elizabeth George
9780525952589 $28.95

The police look into the drowning death of Ian Cresswell and rule he died accidentally. Although not one iota of counter evidence exists to hint at foul play, Ian's affluent aristocrat Uncle Bernard Fairclough demands Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley serendipitously investigate the death of his nephew.

With his friends Simon and Deborah St. James and with some of his staff like Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, Lynley begins to find oddities in the death and with the extended family of the victim. The DI realizes Ian's ex wife and abandoned son remain angry at him even in death as he dumped them for a man. However, the prime suspect is Bernard's son recovering drug addict Nicholas, but the industrialist who recruited him also remains as a potential killer of his nephew.

The latest Lynley police procedural (see This Body of Death) is an exciting tale that looks deep into the souls of the investigators, the victim and the family members in a convoluted case involving addiction, gay marriage, and sexual psychopaths as image supersedes substance. Although readers will know the climax relatively early, Believing the Lie is an engaging mystery as even the family believes the lies they tell one another to rationalize aberrant behavior.

One For The Money
Janet Evanovich
St. Martin's Griffin
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312600730, $14.95,

In Trenton, New Jersey, times are tough for Stephanie Plum who lost her job as a lingerie buyer. She needs to bring in income and considers between using her sports bras and working for her cousin Vinnie. Since she has no furniture for entertaining clients, she asks Vinnie to hire her on as bond hunter though her cousin would insist she used blackmail to coax Vinnie into giving her a $10,000 murder suspect pick up, disgraced vice cop Joe Morelli. Now all Stephanie needs is a gun and a car.

Stephanie and Joe have a long time relationship that some would say is insane as she has driven her car over him and gave him her virginity as a teen. Stephanie knows this is the latest chapter when she catches and loses her mark. She interrogates boxer Benito Ramirez before borrowing Joe's car; he would say stole it. To insure Joe cannot repossess his vehicle before she collects her bounty, Stephanie installs a car alarm for she is coming to hogtie her money source.

This reprint of the first entertaining Plum guided tour of the mean streets of Trenton retains the freshness due to the tough humorous heroine. Fast-paced. the jocular Stephanie Joe chess match is fun to follow. With the movie due out shortly, fans will enjoy One For The Money as the raunchy first person asides of the kick butt protagonist hold up nicely.

How To Dance With A Duke
Manda Collins
St. Martin's
9780312549244 $7.99

Miss Cecily Hurston desperately needs admission to the Egyptian Club that her father belongs to. She knows the only way a female can join is as the wife of a member. Although she likes digs better than balls Cecily prefers to remain single but has no choice since her father scandalously has been accused of killing a member on an expedition; to prove his innocence means joining the Egyptian Club, which denotes marrying some boring elderly academic in order to uncover the identity of the real killer.

War hero Duke of Winterson, Lucas Dalton, also wants to know what happened to his brother who never returned from Hurston's last dig. He agrees to help her obtain a suitable husband so she can gain access to the club enabling them to investigate from the inside. As they fall in love, neither Lucas nor Cecily are prepared to what the danger they dig up.

This is an entertaining historical romantic mystery starring a heroic wallflower; who uses her brains and guts to figure out How To Dance With A Duke. The storyline is fast-paced from the onset and never slows down as outstanding lead couple teams up in love to investigate what happened to his sibling on that fatal expedition.

Darkest Highlander
Donna Grant
St. Martin's
9780312533496 $7.99

The Druids created Broc the warrior who has dedicated his heart to protecting his beloved Druidess Sonya' though he hides how he feels as he knows they can never be together. Thus Broc is stunned when the woman he loves flees Castle MacLeod.

He follows her only to catch up to her nearly dead. As Sonya heals, she explains to Broc that she no longer can perform magic. Broc is confused as he can feel she still has the power. When Deirdre's evil forces capture Broc, Sonya knows she must rescue the man she loves. He is chained to evil magic with no hope for escape for eternity. She helps Broc escape; with both of them ending up in an ancient tomb where they dig up an artifact hoping to prevent Deirdre from using it.

The latest Dark Sword historical romantic fantasy (see Shadow Highlander, Untamed Highlander, Dangerous Highlander and Wicked Highlander) is a great tale that deftly merges early seventeenth century Highlander lifestyle within the Grant Druid mythos. The lead protagonists propel the fast-paced The storyline as readers will wonder love can overcome malicious amoral malevolence.

Home Front
Kristin Hannah
St. Martin's
9780312577209 $27.99

Michael and Joleen Zarkades have been married for a dozen years. They have two small children who round what seems to be a perfect family. However, the two adults are discontented with their relationship and considering a divorce.

Jo jointed the National Guard before she married Michael. Her unit is activated and depleted to Iraq. Their separation widens the fractures of their marriage. As Michael worries about his side's safety while he remains on the Home Front caring for their kids, Jo looks back at her crumbling marriage trying to understand why as she knows she still lives her civilian spouse.

This is an excellent profound look at the impact of deployments on a marriage and a family. Michael and Jo have drifted apart and her mobilization provides a duality of reactions as her going overseas to the Iraqi theater of operation further widens their relational gap at the same worrying about her safety and the effect on the kids. Home front is a compassionate poignant character driven tale that reminds readers who truly sacrificed for the nation.

A Seductive Kiss
Francis Ray
St. Martin's
9780312536473 $7.99

Famous model Dianne Harrington is the "Face" of her family's House of Harrington fashion firm. Renowned for her beautiful face, lonely Dianne has low self-esteem fostered by her belief that her parents do not love her; they only used her to accomplish their ambitious goals.

Attorney Alex Stewart has always been there for Dianne since they were children. He loves her, but is cautious about pursuing her as he fears she will flee and end their friendship. Dianne has always been attracted to her brother's best friend, but fears making a move would drive away one of her few buddies. When Dianne is fired, she must take charge of herself, especially where she wants to go with her life. Alex vows to be there to help his beloved.

The latest Grayson Family Friends tale is a warm coming of age contemporary romance between Dr. Catherine Stewart-Grayson's (see Until There Was You) brother and his childhood buddy. Alex is a typical Francis Ray hunk, who cares about others as he has always been there for his Dianne. While the heroine brings freshness to the strong storyline with her deep rooted belief that if was not for her face she would be worthless. Readers will relish this entry as Dianne's self-assessment has kept her champion in her life with gentle hugs, but also kept them apart.

Third Grave Dead Ahead
Darynda Jones
St. Martin's
9781250001542 $23.99

Grim Reaper and private investigator Charley Davidson seeks a missing spouse whose husband acts uncaringly aloof and detached as if he has no stake in the case. However, Charley struggles to focus on her inquiry as her brain seems to contain one icon, Reyes Farrow, the hybrid son of Satan.

Reyes rages at Charley for failing to work his case as the half human supermodel stands accused of murdering his stepfather, which he denies he did. Others need Charley's distracted attention too while her caring family begs her to take an office job especially when her cases include a bike gang who demands she find a canine killer or face their grim grave retaliation for failing them.

The third delightfully droll Davidson grave romantic mystery (see First Grave on the Right and Second Grave on the Left) is a great entry in which the zany craziness brilliantly comes together into an amusing, exciting dark thriller. Fast-paced and loaded with action, Charley wonders who will betray her first from amongst her heart, her family or her insane clients.

One Moment, One Morning
Sarah Rayner
St. Martin's Griffin
9781250000194 $14.99

The morning rush hour from Brighton to London has passengers going about their business when a man pukes, clutches his chest, and collapses. The train stops and the man is rushed by ambulance to a hospital but pronounced dead. On that train amongst the commuters is the deceased's wife Karen, her BFF Anna in a different car, and a witness youth worker Lou who watched the change in the loving couple by the tragedy. Lou and Anna meet when each seeks and shares a taxi.

Karen grieves her shocking unexpected loss but also must be there for her two young children (Molly and Luke) who struggle with the death of their father Simon. Anna takes to heart that a person has only one life so she decides to end her relationship with abusive charming alcoholic Steve while needing to be there for her friend and her godchildren. Lou also is affected as she opens her heart to Sofia and family.

One Moment, One Morning is a discerning well written character study that looks deeply into the impact of a death on three women (and indirectly others in their immediate circle). The storyline focuses on death and rebirth as each feels like quitting on life following the Simon tragedy. However, the trio uses Simon's death as a springboard to new beginnings once each respectively moves past the original denial. Sarah Rayner provides a poignant tale as women proposes but God disposes so get it right the first (and only) time as there are no makeovers.

Stephen J. Cannell
St. Martin's
9780312646110 $25.99

Someone murders activist Lita Mendez. LAPD Detectives Shane Scully and Sumner Hitchens lead the inquiry. However their biggest fear is that one of their peers killed the police critic.

"Vigilante TV" reality show host Nixon Nash and his crew arrive at the murder scene. On his show, Nash solves homicides before the cops can. His plan is to do so with the highly visible Mendez case. He gives the two cops the choice of joining his inquiry or look like fools on TV. Scully knows his opponent has no scruples nor tied by the law and procedurals; he also believes Nash would have the two detectives murdered if they seem on the verge of solving the homicide before him.

The latest Scully police procedural (see The Prostitutes' Ball) is a tense thriller that grips readers from the onset and never lets the audience go until the final denouement. The story line is fast-paced and though the ending is anticipated early, fans will relish the exciting competing investigations. Stephen J. Cannell, who died last year pays homage to himself as a successful writer and TV producer with his mantra (that only he could affirm) that justice and the law mean nothing when the media especially TV are involved.

Crash Into You
Roni Loren
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10014
9780425245248, $15.00,

Considering her mother was murdered and she raped, Brynn LeBreck is mentally stable though she has muted her sexual cravings. Her work at a crisis center has been a life saver.

However, her haven ends when attorney Reid Jamison begins working at the crisis center. They have a history in which he broke her heart years ago when she gave him her love and broke it again when he defended the man accused of murdering her mom. However, Brynn becomes frantic when her sister vanishes. Fearing the worst happened to Jace, she assumes her sibling hides in the Ranch BDSM retreat from mobsters and cops. Brynn plans to go undercover as a sub at the retreat to rescue Jace, but has no invitation to get inside unless she allows Master Reid to escort her. As they fall in love at the raunchy Ranch, an adversary plans to obtain pleasure from murdering them.

This exciting erotic romantic suspense stars protagonists "Loving on the Edge." The lead couple is a delightful pairing as she hopes to escape from him with her heart intact; while he hopes for a second chance at love with her. The suspense enhances an engaging BDSM romance.

Tori St. Claire
9780425246771 $15.00

CIA Black Opals operative Natalya Trubachev works undercover as the fiancee of Russian Mafia boss Dmitri Gavrikov. Her mission is to take down this entire human trafficking ring. To do so means staying in cover by selling strippers as commodities into sexual slavery.

Las Vegas police Lieutenant Brandon Moretti is undercover as manager of the Fantasia strip club. He recruits Natalya to ostensibly watch over his "girls". However he knows she has ties to a killer he wants to take down, but is unaware that her next commodity works at the club. Her fraternal twin Kate, who dances at Fantasia, has been chosen for sale. As the undercover pair fall in love, both vows to keep Kate safe.

Stripped is a unique refreshing erotic romantic suspense due to the nature of the occupations of the lead couple. Readers will ask do the ends (shutting down the trafficking operation to keep many more females from the commodity exchange) justify the means (selling some women into sex slavery). Tori St. Clare provides a thought provoking thriller in which the undercover operations supersede the romance.

Defy The World Tomatoes
Phoebe Conn
Samhain Publishing
11821 Mason Montgomery Road
Cincinnati Ohio 45249
9781609282943, $16.00,

On the California coast, internationally renowned classical pianist Griffin Moore enters the Defy The World Tomatoes Nursery seeking to speak with the male landscape architect. Darcy MacLeod forgives his chauvinism as she needs the client. He explains he just purchased the old Hadley Place on exclusive Ridgecrest which winds around the mountainous slopes overlooking Monarch Bay. Griffin wants a Zen Garden overlooking the sea.

However, once she completes that task, Griffin creates jobs for Darcy to have her around. Darcy feels the same way as these seemingly opposites are attracted to one another. As Texas dirt and Georgia tuxedo fall in love, she has one qualm about him, his dangerous work for Interpol.

This is a terrific character driven romance between two fascinating obstinate protagonists. Although seemingly having nothing in common except their love, both are stubborn, hide feelings and are steadfast; ironically at times that resolve makes each unlikable for the moment but realistic. Darcy's partner Christy adds much Joy to the mix as a single parent raising her young daughter while fending off her odious affluent ex blackmail threats of a full custody suit. With some suspense from his other occupation, fans will enjoy touring the Monarch Bay area with Griffin and Darcy as our tour guides.

A Devil Named Desire
Terry Garey
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061986406, $7.99,

Gabriel the Lightbringer archangel asks his fallen brother Samael Divine if taking Eve was worth the cost. Sammy says yes but feels the Father was unfair to damn him but forgive the fools in the Garden. Gabriel asks him if he ever loved; Sammy responds no but believes his sibling needs a realistic view of humanity.

In Atlanta web designer Hope Henderson slashed her wrists after two years of anguish over her missing younger sister Charity. Sammy tells her Charity is alive, but Hope owes her life to him as she begged for the darkness when she tried to kill herself. He offers her a deal. She builds him a special web site by transcribing the Ars Goetia Key of Solomon that will enable his demons to cross over in exchange for her finding her sister.

Gabriel notices a woman with a bright halo and the darkness following her. He follows her, but when Hope sees Gabriel she ignores him, which shocks the archangel. He says he is a guardian and will protect her but unsure of from what. Gabriel is concerned with his feelings for Hope. Sammy tells him Hope belongs to him. Gabriel warns Sammy not to hurt Hope; as the archangel falls in love with this fallen human and he better understands why Sammy fell for temptation.

The story line focuses on the battle between Satan and Gabriel but contains several interesting twists including a deftly developed romance as Sammy knows there is a cost to comingling with the humans and a surprising offspring. Although the action is somewhat muted by a deep psychological look at the key characters, fans will appreciate this creative archangel romance.

A Secret In Her Kiss
Anna Randol
9780062025807 $7.99

In 1815 following Waterloo, British Major Bennett Prestwood looks forward to going home to extract his sister from her abusive husband. He did this once before, but apparently his sibling cannot stay away from the brute so he will keep the monster away from his sister anyway he can. However Army Intelligence general Caruthers shows Prestwood a message containing only a picture of a butterfly; except with a magnifying glass shows a message that the Ottoman Empire is building a fort. The artist is British naturalist Mari Sinclair, who has spied for her home country and helped the Greek independence cause. Although he resigned his commission Prestwood is blackmailed into going to Constantinople to help Sinclair complete her last mission.

Like Prestwood, Mari is blackmailed to continue her espionage work. She finds her protector too stiff as he believes in obeying the rules while she prefers bending and breaking them. However, when Bennett realizes the full threat to this remarkable woman, he vows no rule will keep him from insuring his beloved remains safe.

With an exotic location; a terrific lead pairing; and a strong support cast mostly of locals; readers will relish this engaging refreshing Regency romantic suspense. Filled with plenty of action and intrigue, Anna Randol transports her delighted audience to Constantinople just after Waterloo.

A Town Called Valentine
Emma Cane
9780062102270 $7.99

Following her divorce, Emily Murphy drives from San Francisco to her late mom's hometown Valentine, Colorado where she inherited her grandma's restaurant. She plans to sell the establishment. Stopping at Tony's Tavern after her car died, a tired Emily has too much to drink. She and cowboy Nate Thalburg play a game of pool for a kiss. He wins and kisses her and much more until she finally asks him to stop, which he does. Nate drives her to his grandma's Widows' Boarding House.

Emily meets the three widows who are kind to her. After breakfast Emily walks to the restaurant, which is a dump. Nate's brother Josh worries his sibling is spread out too thin doing too much, but he ignores his sibling's concern as he believes he must prove to his adopted dad that he loves their family ranch. He has not forgotten his biological dad abandoned him and his mom when she got MS.

Emily learns her late dad is not her biological father and wonders who is. Though she plans to sell the restaurant, Emily likes the townsfolk and is falling in love with Nate, but needs to know who her biological father is while he keeps a distance because he believes whenever he is nice to a woman she gets hurt.

This is an enjoyable character driven contemporary romance. The relationship between the lead couple changes in a logical deliberate manner while the prime support cast enhances the storyline. Although the "conflict" is weak, fans will enjoy A Town Called Valentine while looking forward to more visits.

Sable Grace
9780061964411 $7.99

Vampyre-Lychen hybrid Dark Breed Kyana Aslan saved the life of Haven when she turned her BFF into a vampire by giving her blood. However, Kyana learns where good intentions lead to when the rebellious raging spirit of Cronos possesses Haven. Cronos plans to use the recently transformed Haven as a vessel to overthrow the Olympus pantheon, but his host has a vendetta too as she needs to kill her once beloved "sister" for changing her into this monster.

Although her bodyguard Ryker the demigod has not mouthed one I told you so, looks tell Kyana that he knows she erred due to her love of a friend. Now she must rectify her passionate saving of Haven because in seven days her BFF replaces Kyana as the new Artemis Goddess of the Hunt and therefore Haven must die before this transformation to prevent her BFF from bringing hell on Earth.

The second enjoyable Dark Breed Greek mythos urban fantasy (see Ascension) is an exciting tale that looks deep into the soul of the heroine as she struggles between guilt over her friend whom she expects to kill, whining over her wardrobe, and lusting over the body of her bodyguard. Fast-paced from start to finish, however the clothing and Ryker issues at times supersede the intriguing hellish Haven horror subplot.

My Ruthless Prince
Gaelen Foley
9780062075918 $7.99

In 1816 the Order of St. Michael the Archangel knows Drake, Earl of Westwood has deserted their cause by joining their enemy the Promethean. In fact he heads the Promethean Guard.

His childhood friend, the gamekeeper's daughter Emily Hunter, rejects the notion that honorable Drake would betray his beliefs. She journeys to the Bavarian Alps in order to locate and bring Drake home to England. However, Emily's arrival leaves Drake's plans in disarray as much as her presence does likewise to his heart. He demands she go home, but she refuses; in spite of the evidence Emily believes in her Drake. His cards are called when she becomes a hostage pawn of an adversary he loathes.

The fourth Inferno Club Regency romantic suspense (see My Irresistible Earl, My Wicked Marquess and My Dangerous Duke) is an exciting espionage thriller. The fun storyline is filled with twists and spins although the climax ends as expected from the moment the intrepid heroine sets foot in the Alps. Fans of the series especially will relish this entry in which the reader learns about enigmatic traitorous Drake while we wonder whether Emily sees him through rose colored glasses.

Hot and Heavy
Sandra Hill
9780062019042 $7.99

Navy SEAL Lieutenant Ian MacLean leads his commando team on Operation Rodent; the objective is to eliminate terrorist leader Jamal ben Hassan in Northern Iraq. The SEALS safely land near their target with Ian entering an empty cave to use as the rendezvous point.

In 1013 Madrene Olgadotter is paraded naked and in chains by Steinolf the Vicious who has taken over her home Norstead. When she continues to display a vitriolic tongue, he sells her to a harem. Over the next three years she is sold nine times, but no one touches her as she curses her owners with a shriveled jewel. She escapes her last captivity in Northern Iraq and hides in a cave.

Madrene surprises Ian and hits him with a rock. She binds him, but he easily escapes. He believes the sharp tongued beauty is Jamal's girlfriend while she thinks he is a caliph's slave. As they become acquainted during the dangerous mission, they fall in love, but neither is sure how much time she has although she will soon find her parents and siblings living comfortably in twenty-first century California.

This is a fun reprint of a 2005 Viking time travel-SEAL romance starring two protagonists who belong together even if their birth dates are over a millennium apart. Madrene is terrific as she curses males with a shriveling ease until she meets Ian who thinks she is crazy but seems too enchanted by her with an opposite spell that leaves him in a permanent state of hardness due. Readers will enjoy Sandra Hill's latest romantic thriller starring this time a female Viking warrior and the SEAL she tames.

The Price of Temptation
Lecia Cornwall
9780062018946 $7.99

Lady Evelyn Renshaw is under a form of house arrest in which she can only venture outside at a time in which duelists, their seconds and French agents are the sole people roaming the streets. The Ton condemned her ever since her husband Lord Phillip vanished seven months ago when he was accused of treason by the Crown; ironically Napoleon has accused Phillip of theft. Her every move means surveillance and no escape from London as the Crown's operatives hope Phillip will visit his wife. In spite of receiving the Ton's claws, she knows nothing about whether her husband lives or his seditious activities; then again the fickle aristocracy does not care preferring her as the scandal of choice.

On his way to a duel, Captain Sinjon Rutherford intercedes when a Napoleonic operative assaults her claiming his emperor wants what her spouse stole from him. Sinjon's reward is to have the English secret service offering him a prison cell or spying on Evelyn. Thus he becomes Sam the footman in her household. He protects her from a persistent killer as they fall in love.

The second Crown Regency espionage romance (see Secrets of a Proper Countess) is a superb historical starring a beleaguered protagonist whose innocence does not matter to the Ton or the English government. For that matter the government treatment of Sinjon is similar to that of his beloved as both are expendable pawns in the war of intrigue with Napoleon and his agents. Readers will appreciate this terrific early nineteenth century novel, as everyone asks where in the world Phillip is.

Trouble At The Wedding
Laura Lee Guhrke
9780061963179 $7.99

In 1904 on board the Atlantic Ocean liner, nouveau riche American heiress Annabel Wheaton knows she still has Mississippi mud running through her veins as the New York Knickerbocker snobs reminded her, but will marry into respectability. Her wedding to impoverished womanizing Lord Bernard Rumsford will give her what she craves. Bernard with one dance in Saratoga after three years of ostracizing made the redneck relevant and now they will marry on the ship at sea.

A week earlier, her Uncle Arthur wanted the fortune-hunter Rumsford out of his niece's life as he wants better for her. He hired the Duke Christian Du Quesne to prevent the wedding. Christian succeeds in his task, but now covets being the groom to the affluent steel magnolia. However, a raging Annabelle rejects his proposal as the ducal rake, unsure why he feels the way he does, has fallen in love with the American from Goosebend.

Although the premise of competing rakes chasing after the money of an affluent country bumpkin is not new (see Bedtime Story), talented Laura Lee Guhrke provides a fresh exciting Edwardian Era romance. Filled with humor and heart, fans will root for the heroine who as a rebel with a cause fights for what she wants; though her choice seems between two Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Trouble At The Wedding is a delightful romantic comedic historical.

Getting Somewhere
Beth Neff
Viking Books
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
9780670012558, $17.99,

The four juvenile offenders (Sarah, Jenna, Lauren, and Cassie) were given a choice between detention in a prison or working on a farm to learn responsibility and accountability for themselves and others. Each joined the experimental program at an organic farm with no electronic devices allowed run by Grace and assisted by Ellie and Donna.

As the teens work on the farm and attend group and individual therapy sessions, each tells a similar tale of horror of neglect and abuse; none had a childhood beyond survival. Sarah, Jenna, and Cassie begin to heal by letting go of their anger as they become friends. However, Lauren's rage remains stratospheric and her need to destroy others like others destroyed her remains intense. She schemes to insure the experiment fails and her farmer overseers punished just like she has been.

The magnificent seven make for an insightful look at the psyche of the battered angry teens and the motivations of the adults. Rotating perspective, readers see the inner essence of each of the seven especially the negativity that their respective pasts haunting them; the child is the teen and adult. Although the climax seems melodramatically forced and obvious relatively early on, readers will appreciate this profound look at the souls of the battered who work hard at surviving.

Little Dog Lost
Monica Carneso
Nancy Paulsen Books
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
9780399256660, $15.99,

In winter, ice floats on the Vistula River towards the Baltic Sea. Children looking out at the sailing sheets of ice notice a little dog on one small piece. People on shore try to rescue the trapped canine, but fail. Two nights adrift for seventy miles, the dog is sailing the Baltic when the R/V Baltica rescue the canine. The dog becomes part of the crew and the mates name the canine after the final leg of a sea journey across much of Poland.

This is a great true story in which Monica Carnesi targets pre-schoolchildren with wonderful drawings accompanying a charming true life adventure. Little Dog Lost: The True Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic one day will be considered a children's classic.

While Mortals Sleep: Unpublished Short Fiction
Kurt Vonnegut
Dial Books
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
9780385343749, $16.00,

These sixteen extremely short stories were unpublished works by the late great Kurt Vonnegut written before his renowned novels. Although overall they display a tyro learning his craft, each shows the author's prime theme of ordinary people struggling to find a place in a cold cynical technological tundra. The title entry focuses on newspaper editor Fred Hackleman, who hates capitalistic Christmas who intrudes on big stories, but he is trapped into judging a holiday lights contest. In Kafkaesque Montezuma Forge and Foundry Company "Girl Pool" stenographer Amy Lou transcribes from her Dictaphone a dying killer's plea for help. George, the former researcher who is now a lonely traveling salesman at General Household Appliances Company, has converted a refrigerator into "Jenny" the robot with the face of his former wife. Earl the builder liked to have "His hand on the Throttle" of miniature trains until Ella causes a train wreck. Though not quite as polished, graveyard humorous or as dark as Cat's Cradle or Slaughterhouse Five, these entries are fun timely cynicisms of modern day life in which technology has made things easier (including war - as a POW Dresden was imprinted as an icon in Mr. Vonnegut's brain) yet devour the individuals who find the price of leisure being loneliness

Janet Lee Caret
Dial Books
9780803735040 $17.99

In 1192 Pendragon King Kadmi is dead, but the heir Prince Arden has not yet returned from a Crusade to Wilde Island to become ruler of the dragons, fairies and humans who reside there. Instead the regent Lord Sackmoore rules for now even as species civil war seems imminent.

When thieves stole the royal treasure from Pendragon Castle, a search led by Arden's younger brother Price Bion finds nothing. Blaming the hybrid abominations, Sackmoore sends the witch hunter to burn the evil ones at the stake. Abused by her dad the blacksmith, seventeen year old Tess is shocked when she is accused of being half-fae. Having gained experience with flight from her violent father, she flees with two also accused friends into the forbidden Dragonswood. There warden Garth Huntsman offers Tess sanctuary. When the fairies plead with her for help, Tess learns why her father loathed her and who her protector truly is.

This dark epic romantic fantasy is an exciting fast-paced sequel to Dragon's Keep. Fast-paced from the moment the heroine flees and never slowing down until the final altercation, the storyline on the surface seems similar to most quest fantasies. However, Tess brings freshness as a victim who remains optimistic about her future but unforgiving of those like her father who have harmed her and made her wary of males even caring Garth. With several super twists, and filled with gore, vivid beatings and on-page torture, readers with strong stomachs will appreciate this terrific tale that targets teens and up.

The Order of Scales
Stephen Deas
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
9780451464378, $25.95,

As the humans backstab one another in their endless avaricious grab for power, none notice the dragons are awakening from the control of the alchemy potion. While Prince Jehal the Speaker of the Realms and former Queen Zafir fight for the control of The Adamantine Palace, the dragons are soaring in the sky fully aware of what the humans did to them as they return to their natural predatory state since the elixir is just about gone.

In the mountains where the dragons are beginning to soar, Kemir observes Snow the dragon leading a horde of freed dragons as she begins avenging centuries of enslavement to the pathetic humans. Meanwhile Jehal desperately needs to save his beloved wife and child held captive by his enemy. He turns to the dragons of the north, offering them their freedom in exchange to flying him and his supporters against Zafir and her allies. Neither side reckons with the dragons in open revolt as their human bickering may prove the extinction of mankind.

This is a strong bloody finish to the Memory of Flames fantasy trilogy (see The King of the Crags) as this Dragon Realms thriller takes to the sky with brutal results. Ironically those who want to lead the Nine Kingdoms battle one another while ignoring the real threat from the fast and furious fireballs even as the alchemists fear the scarcity of the potion that kept the dragons docile. This is a super climax to an intriguing political-military saga in which war is deadly and maiming while the recently freed dragons add to the lethal chaotic mix by returning to their fiery roots.

Raven Cursed
Faith Hunter
9780451464330 $7.99

Rogue vamp hunter and Cherokee skinwalker with Beast the mountain lion spirit inside her, Jane Yellowrock is considered the best security expert around. Her current assignment is to secure Asheville and the surrounding Appalachian Mountains for a big parley between the envoy and heir Katie of Blood Master of New Orleans Leo Pellissier and local fanghead chief Lincoln Shaddock. For six decades Shaddock has petitioned Pellissier to allow him to establish an independent vamp clan in the area; currently his group owes allegiance to the New Orleans chief fanghead.

Instead of Katie arriving, Pellissier sends his number two Mithran vamp, Gregoire, who he wants to mate with Jane. However, on the cable news is a report of a vicious bloodbath of a couple in Cocke County. Leo calls Jane to tell her to kill the rogue and make it go away. Jane heads to the Pigeon River site of the massacre to begin her inquiry. Beast tells her the smell is not vamp or Pigeon, but that of the mythical Grindylow. Jane realizes werewolves killed the couple with the Grindylow as the were-enforcers in pursuit.

The latest Yellowrock urban fantasy (see Mercy Blade, Blood Cross and Skinwalker) is a super thriller as the kick butt heroine investigates the murders with the eyes of humans, vamps and werewolves upon her. The Grindylow believe in taking care of their own kind with lethal punishment, but objects to outside intrusion. Fast-paced, Raven Cursed is an exhilarating paranormal whodunit with several thriller spins as the heroine muses that vamps and guns suck but though make for a crappy life are energizing.

Kyle Chais
c/o Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781439187258, $15.00,

In the purgatorial Nameless realm, they are the Nameless Fallen who are interchangeable with one another as names and individual identities belong to the masters. These Nameless are neither saved nor destroyed as they just exist in excruciating tedium.

One Nameless watches humans in New York City. This Fallen becomes fascinated by the self-destructing behavior of a pathetic gambling alcoholic dying from cancer. When thugs are about to murder this drunk Aurick Pantera for failing to pay his gambling debt, his Nameless watcher possesses his body saving his worthless life. Once inside the human shell the Nameless refuses to leave as the five senses are nirvana. Over the next three years, the new improved Aurick becomes a rock star, continues the psychiatric practice of the body's predecessor, and wants to date a patient journalist Helena Way. Other bored Nameless observe Aurick and want the same. They are willing to go to war to activate the senses rather than remain in their eternal passive nonexistence prison. Nameless Aurick can join the others which will surely lead to the Null for celestial crimes against mankind or choose his beloved and the rest of humanity.

This is a fascinating cosmological urban fantasy that takes a deep look at the non-life of the "wicked" Fallen. Nameless Aurick is an intriguing protagonist who has found life and love inside the shell of a human loser. Although the Chais celestial mythos at times slows down the entertaining tale of Nameless Aurick, who defies heaven, hell and in between as Alfred Lord Tennyson (In Memoriam A.H.H.) states: "I hold it true, whate'er befall; I feel it, when I sorrow most; 'Tis better to have loved and lost Than never to have loved at all."

Death Drops
Chrystle Fielder
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
9781451643602, $15.00,

Los Angels based Naturopathic Dr. Willow McQuade has come home to Greenport, Long Island to spend time with her beloved sexagenarian Aunt Claire Hagan. The late twenties doctor helps her master herbalist aunt at the latter's Nature's Way Market and cafe. Willow is somewhat estranged with her mom Daisy who insists her practice is quackery and her sister is "the real doctor" Natasha who live nearby.

After walking in the nearby Nature Conservancy Preserve, Willow comes home to find Claire dead. She apparently took a poison placed inside her bottle of Mimulus. Claire's assistant Janice Dorian accuses Willow of murdering her aunt in front of the lead detectives Koren and Coyle. When she inherits her aunt's establishment, the cops suspect her even more so as she has motive. Willow thinks the homicide is related to her aunt's missing top secret natural anti aging Fresh Face formula. With former cop Jackson Spade, who is on disability due to a back injury, helping her investigate, Willow searches for the missing elixir while someone sabotages the business and a killer tries to murder her.

This is an engaging investigative thriller held together by the intriguing dedicated Willow. Each chapter begins with the N.D. providing homeopathic advice to clients; there are also other tips Willow gives woven into the storyline, but people too easily accept her natural medical guidance. Still this Natural Remedies mystery is an enjoyable whodunit as the star is Willow's health tips.

The Wild Girls Plus
Ursula Le Guin
PM Press
PO Box 23912, Oakland, CA 94623
9781604864038 $12.00

"The Wild Girls." Bidh informs the girls in their Allulu language that they no longer are part of the Crown City. Chergos' daughter and Dead Ayu's first daughter are now Dirt Girls who if smart will keep their cherry intact until they marry wealth and begat Gods with their Crown husbands. Renamed Vui and Modh, if they want to survive they must accept who they are now and not what they were at the bottom of the food chain.

"Staying Awake While We Read." Ms. Le Guin's condemnation essay makes a case that corporate publishing firms care nothing about the golden geese and the readers except as a sham; as all that matters is profit at any cost to the literature.

"Outspoken Author Interview." Terry Blissom interviews Ms. Le Guin who revels at being an octogenarian with a strong defense of being against the avarice power-mongers who destroy environments in someone else's neighborhood and send other people's children to fight their profitable wars whether it is 1960s and 1970s Vietnam or Bush 41 and 43 Iraq.

The Conversation of the Modest' is an essay that lives up its title as Ms. Le Guin espouses on what is modesty in a world in which fifteen minutes of fame on social media is sought and revered.

There is more to this interesting compilation. The novella is timely with its fascinating look at the tribes along the East River. While the rest of the strong collection also focuses on Ms. Le Guin's issues of concern for the past five decades which include the environment, women's rights in a capitalist cast system and war only good for the moguls.

Send My Love and a Molotov Cocktail!: Stories of Crime, Love and Rebellion
Edited by Gary Phillips and Andrea Gibbons
PM Press
9781604860962 $19.95

This eighteen story anthology pulls no punches or switchblades as the compilation focuses on rebellion by rebels with and without a cause. Fifteen of the entries are new while one of the reprints is actually a first time translation into English ("Bizco's Memories" by Paco Ignacio Talbo II starring soccer played under the underground convict rules of a prison). The other previously published contributions, "Gold Diggers of 1977" by Michael Moorcock is one of the Cornelius tales looking at the Sex Pistols mythos (may not survive the test of time), and "I Love Paree" by Cory Doctorow and Michael Skeet in which Old Paree is in trouble due to the foreign invasion. In "Nickels and Dimes" by John A Imani, riots come to UCLA in 1972 but not daring to disturb the Wooden NCAA run. Kim Stanley Robinson looks at a slave revolt on the moon in "The Lunatics." In "Murder ... Then and Now" by Penny Micklebury, he claims to be X at the Black Student Union. This is a gripping timely collection in which people past and present across the spectrum rebel against those they believe are their oppressors.

Nick Mamatas
PM Press
9781604863543 $14.95

Julia Hernandez leaves her husband City College Professor Raymond before murdering Peter Neads Fisherman and then vanishing. Since she left him, Raymond rationalizes her dumping him without warning as a "penis panic" attack on her part.

He spots Julia in public near where they lived in Lower Manhattan. The first time was at a grocer she never shopped in buying items she never ate when they were married. The second encounter is in Times Square in which Raymond chose flight rather than confront Julia with why. His running saves his life from an observer ready to push him into traffic. A distraught Raymond will soon learn why Julia committed murder and fled. He finds out about the insect eggs in her arm and the Simulacrum where anarchist wasps and a super genius spider hive that collectively is a "man" ready to shove the professor into traffic. These two insecticide species battle to steer or crash humanity.

Sensation is an entertaining modern day parable that looks at the accumulative stress of minor annoyances in a world in which the individual has no wiggle room alternative. Told by the spiders, Nick Mamatas looks at the Butterfly Effect of chaos in an absolute controlled environment that makes independent thought that breaks away from one's profile impossible. Although the two intelligent insect species are underdeveloped leaving readers with a void; fans will enjoy this allegorical look at New York, in which Seinfeld is right that as Queen sings in Bohemian Rhapsody "Nothing really matters, anyone can see nothing really matters ...."

The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow Plus
Cory Doctorow
PM Press
9781604864045 $12.00

"The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow." The world ended not with a bang but with a wumpus; as everyone wanted control of technological change leading to the Mecha Wars. In Detroit, Jimmy Yensid, his dad Robin and the pack reside in abandoned Comerica Park. Dad restored the classic Carousel of Progress; currently he recommends preservation of this last standing city as a heritage site. Being transhuman Jimmy ages slowly so though he has lived for decades he remains preadolescent. He spots a wumpus near a crumpled Ford factory. Riding his dad's mecha and accompanied by his canines packs piloting air drones, he attacks the wumpus. A gang riding eight smaller mechas attacks Jimmy. He fights back feeling like a murderer as life in abandoned Detroit is never dull.

"Creativity vs. Copyright." This fascinating essay/presentation focuses on proposed copyright laws in the electronic publication age. The impact on corporate profits has been discussed many times. Mr. Doctorow provides a fresh focus on the digital rights management (including monetary - how an author makes a living from Net sales is beyond my comprehension) of intellectual property in a world in which many users assume "information is free."

The thought provoking novella is a dark thriller that turns upside down the "future" as progress does not necessarily mean better. The exciting storyline looks deeply at change as everyone insists implementation of theirs; and customized technology may just lead to a wasteland. The well written essay/presentation provides the audience with insight into Mr. Doctorow's views especially on intellectual property ownership in an on demand digital world. Finally there is also included "Look for the Lake" Cory Doctorow Interviewed by Terry Bisson.

The Immortalists
Kyle Mills
Thomas & Mercer
Amazon Imprint
9781612182162, $24.95,

Although highly respected within his community, but poorly funded, microbiologist Dr. Richard Draman desperately seeks a cure for progeria, a genetic disorder that causes premature aging and early death; his daughter Susie suffers from this horrific disorder.

However, Richard and his wife Carly know time has just about run out on their now eight year old child Susie. His dream of discovering a miracle has faded until he obtains the data of suicide victim Dr. Annette Chevalier whose research into the "fundamental structures of life" has given Richard new hope that her work has given him the key to immortality and a cure for his daughter. However, as he performs follow-up work, Richard feels paranoid that someone powerful wants to shut him down as he believes this adversary did to Annette. With no one to turn to as this powerful enemy controls the societal strings as only the one billionth of one percent can do including getting Richard accused of intellectual theft, the Draman family flees seeking allies.

This is an exciting fast-paced medical thriller filled with action as affluent rivals groups vie for control of the research of Chevalier and Draman. Loaded with conspiratorial action, but lacking any insight into ethics or logistical impacts of immortality; fans who enjoy an action-packed tale will want to join the Draman family on the lam.

Deadtime Stories: Grave Secrets
Annette and Gina Cascone
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765330659, $14.99,

Amanda Peterson hits the walk off homer, but neither she or her friends (Laura Baxter, Kevin Stewart and Jarrad Clark) celebrate as the ball lands inside 704 Shadow Lane owned by the creepy old witch "Barnsey". Her mates tell her to forget the ball that landed right near the shred where Barnsey tosses rat heads by reminding her what the witch did to Luzard and French. Amanda retrieves the ball but bony fingers grab her wrist while the tweener hysterically shouts at her friend to not let Barnsey take her into the dungeon. Barnsey lets go, but a frightened Amanda panics as she lost her friendship bracelet. The four tweeners fear Barnsey will use the bracelet to cast a spell on Amanda.

The friends search in Amanda's yard, but find a dead squirrel. They decide to bury the deceased in Amanda's pet cemetery where Ralphie the hamster, Herman the goldfish, and Snitch the canary reside. Jarrod digs a hole when they hear mama. He uncovers a buried doll with no voice box. Amanda learns from her parents the pet cemetery was land that once belonged to Barnsey. The quartet uncovered a malevolence that makes little old lady-witches seem benign as they fear for themselves and Amanda's five year old naive sister Robin.

The first Deadtime Stories is a terrific tweener horror thriller starring four children whose imaginations run wild, but does not compare to the realism of what they face. While Amanda's parents insist Mrs. Barnsey is a nice neighbor, the buddies believe she is a witch although Jarrod is a skeptic. Fans will enjoy this entertaining tale from Team Cascone as the Youngers find out what evil truly is.

Nested Scrolls: The Autobiography of Rudolf von Bitter Rucker
Rudy Rucker
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765327529, $25.00,

The opening chapter of this fascinating memoir sets the tone as Rudolf von Bitter Rucker entered "Death's Door" in 2008 when a vein burst in his brain; this cerebral hemorrhage had the author-mathematician on the verge of the big dramatic exit but "no spiral tunnel, no white light, no welcome from the departed one. Maybe it's just that everything goes black." Mr. Rucker obviously recovered to write an intriguing interesting autobiography motivated by his near death experience of nothingness. The author discusses his life as a mathematician, science fiction author, punk rocker, and hacker. He grew up in Louisville. In the same year another Louisville native son was winning a boxing gold medal in Rome, fourteen years old Rudy was injured in a swing accident. He told his dad he hurt his spleen, which proved correct as his prolific reading came in handy. With Hegel genes, it is not surprising that he read Philip K. Dick's science fiction and the writings of the On The Road beatniks; adapting the latters' use of alcohol as a stimulator. This set the table for his life as a mathematician and a science fiction writer, but hindered his imagination rather than expanding it. Fans of one of the new light "cyberpunk" authors of the 1980s will want to read Nested Scrolls, but so will fans of nonfiction as The Autobiography of Rudolf von Bitter Rucker is a well written engaging memoir.

Shadows In Flight
Orson Scott Card
9780765332004 $21.99

Julian "Bean" Delphiki suffers from a genetic alteration, in which his brain is light-years beyond genius, but his body suffers from extreme gigantism; he will be dead soon though he is only in his twenties. He left behind his wife Petra and their normal offspring to leave earth in 2210; taking with him their three infant triplets suffering from the same Anton's Key disorder (see Shadow of the Giant). Over four centuries have passed on earth and his spouse and their kids dead; while on the vessel five years have passed. Fourteen feet tall Bean is unable to leave the cargo hold. Ender, named after his father's friend, is a biologist seeking the cure for their genetic illness. His sister Carlotta is the engineer who insures their ship Herodotus functions properly. Finally the third sibling Cincinnatus better known as Sergeant is a soldier prepared for combat.

The triplets find an anomaly of a Formic colony ship that revolves around a planet; inside the vessel they find the Hive Queen dead along with her soldiers. However, they also find living things even as their dying father whom they call Giant reveals his master dream for them.

The latest Ender universe tale is an interesting character driven space odyssey. Readers get inside the minds of the four weary travelers; as the three kids feel the hopelessness of their flight while the Giant hopes rest on a dream for them. Series fans will appreciate the parallels between the earthlings and the Formic survivors while learning how the Hive actually thought when they Formic-formed China. Although the action is extremely muted, Shadows In Flight is a fun tale filled with aphorisms like parents lie to their children for the latter's sake.

Melanie Rawn
9780765323620 $25.99

Cayden Silversun the mixed race wizard (part elf, fae and human) wants to become the most successful tregetour playwright ever. He and his best friends (Rafe the wizard who deploys magic to control the show and Jeska the performer who deploys glisker magic to enhance audience acceptance) tour together in a variety of milieu from seedy taverns to open fields to exclusive theaters. Cade also sees a future he loathes unless he changes his current life's path.

Mieka the elven glisker practitioner meets the three performers and joins their group. They call themselves Touchstone. Their dream is to be recognized as the greatest theatrical troupe of all times or die trying. However, Cade struggles with his new visions starring Mieka as they predict trouble.

The first Glass Thorns fantasy is a fabulous character driven thriller starring four fully developed protagonists performing within the vividly described Rawn world. The mythos is built around the dwindling of the various purebred species and the increasing prevalence of the interracial mixed species as a consequence of the recent war; ergo groups live in harmony except for overt hostility towards the elven for not joining the combat. Although nothing major gets resolved, readers will enjoy the refreshing concept of the Touchstone traveling troupe that uses magic while never knowing how well received they will be before, during and after performances.

Article 5
Kristen Simmons
9780765329585 $17.99

Following the latest war to end all wars, the Unites States revokes the outrageous Bill of Rights that interfered with law enforcement security and enabled deviant behavior; and replaced it with the strict Moral Statutes. The Bureau of Reformation enforces the laws in which soldiers brutally hunt down and arrest anyone who is in noncompliance of the strict Moral Statutes. Those rule breakers are taken away and never return.

Seventeen year old Ember Miller remembers that just a few years ago it was okay to read all sorts of books before the massive censorship and going out at night was acceptable before the curfew. Though Ember is intelligent and more important flexible in working her way around the new system, she will soon learn how naive she truly is. Her odyssey starts when soldiers arrive and arrest her mother for violation of Article 5 as "compliance is mandatory" with no alibis accepted. One of the arresting thugs is Chase Jennings, the young man Ember loved. Feeling betrayed, Ember vows to rescue her mom. Her journey is dangerous as the legal enforcers hunt violators and predators stalk the seemingly helpless like a female teen. With her on her quest is Chase

This dark dystopian thriller will remind readers of Big Brother in Huxley's 1984 and Firemen in Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. Ember is a courageous protagonist while Chase goes from villain to hero. Action-packed, young adults (and us elders) readers will appreciate this timely cautionary tale as the fascinating Simmons world extrapolates from deployment of the Patriot Act (affirmed by the Defense spending bill) and other First Amendment "exceptions" enabling legal censorship and much worse.

Dark Victory
Michele Lang
9780765330451 $25.99

On September 1, 1939 Hitler begins the blitzkrieg destruction of Poland. In Budapest, Gisi the Jewish seer saw the Nazis' deadly march over a month ago. Her sister Magda the Lazarus Witch tries to bind Asmodel the demon to her will while Gisi fears the repercussions. Magda's beloved fallen angel Raziel supports her efforts as he knows the allies will need magic on their side to counter the dark forces allied with Hitler in order to save the Polish Jews from the Final Solution incantation sacrifice.

Magda leads her small troupe into Poland. However, she finds her cause in dire straits as Nazi werewolves and demons attack her and anyone in their path. Worse, the camps concentrate more evil power into the hands of Hitler and his demonic master by channeling death and torture. Hitler supporter Vampirrat orders Magda's leader anti-Nazi Count Bathory the vampire to Berlin for a public staking. Magda may be too late to stop Hitler, but her hopes reside with finding the Book of Raziel arcane spells.

The sequel to super Lady Lazarus is an engaging urban alternate historical fantasy in which World War II is fought by mortals and paranormal. The story line is fast-paced with the various supernatural species (fighting on both sides) seemingly real and the combat with them and mortals vivid. As a master manipulator that Machiavelli would have admired, Asmodel somewhat steals the plot from the inexperienced heroine who logically works through her options to the best course only to impulsively act otherwise. Raziel and Bathory provide little to the mix except limited support and Gisi trembles in fear as WWII explodes on the continent.

Robert J. Sawyer
9780765329905 $14.99

In 2018 in Port Credit near Tornado, brewery owner Cliff Sullivan is rushed to the hospital. Dr. Thanh explains to his wife and son that Cliff suffers from Katerinsky Syndrome, which leaves him a vegetable until he dies. Since this is hereditary, he suggests Jake take an MRI.

Jake knew he was dying so he chose Immortex to make a Mindscan copy of his brain placed inside an android. He relocates to the moon where he expects to die in High Eden, a pleasant assisted living facility.

In 2045, Jake the robot on earth has faced rejection from all of the human Jake's loved ones. He is bored with nothing to do until he meets the mindscan Karen Bessarian. Her biological body had been that of an octogenarian children's book author; but this model is in her thirties as opposed to Jake in his forties. As the two mindscans fall in love, the original Karen dies. Her son sues for ownership of his late mom's estate insisting a mindscan has no rights; at the same time the original Jake finds a cure for his illness and demands his former life returned to him.

This discerning exciting look at future ethics questions asking what a human is and what rights does a mindscan have. The story line is fast-paced while the setting plays a key role as Americans flee their fundamentalist Christian kingdom homeland to reside in tolerant Canada; enhancing the rights argument. Readers will relish this profound extrapolation of current medical technology in which Robert J. Sawyer argues that medical advances are way ahead of legal advances.

A Bridge of Years
Robert Charles Wilson
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765327420, $16.99,

Following a divorce and a desperate need to start over, alcoholic Tom Winter leaves Seattle to return home to Belltower where he buys a three decade old house not occupied for over ten years, but maintained in pristine condition by an apparent phantom housekeeping service. The previous occupant Ben Collier lived there from 1964 until he vanished in 1980. Tom thinks his luck has changed as there is not one iota of dust anywhere and everything works.

However, he wonders if he is having the DTs when the "Tidiness Elves" clean his dishes. He soon meets his ghosts the cybernetic caretakers who plead with him to repair the abode as Tom learns the basement contains a tunnel that on the other end takes a traveler to Greenwich Village circa 1962. Ignoring the custodians' warning not to enter the tunnel, Tom lands in May 1962 where he meets Joyce Casella in Washington Square Park. They are attracted to one another, but she fears he lost his mind to LSD or something similar. However, a marauder Billy Gargullo who killed Ben targets Tom and Joyce.

This is a reprint of a 1991 classic time traveler relationship drama. The exciting story line is filled with action, a vague future filled with war and horrific climate change, and a purposely not fully developed bittersweet romance. Character driven, fans who appreciate a complex somewhat convoluted thriller will want to read Robert Charles Wilson's terrific time travel treatise as the protagonist struggles to cope psychologically (accentuated with the right on target climax) even more than the physical stalking by a killer.

Deborah Cooke
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451235473, $7.99,

His spectacular Trial by Fire show on the Vegas strip makes Lorenzo the illusionist into a star attraction. However, the Pyr and the slayers demand Lorenzo join their side, but he chooses to remain a solo act.

While on vacation in Las Vegas, paparazzi Cassie Redmond attends Lorenzo's show. She sits in the first row igniting a sparkling display between the photographer and the performer. The audience including Cassie assumes these sparks are part of Lorenzo's performance, but the magician knows otherwise. This woman lit up the firestorm of his dragon nature. However, Chen has begun gathering an army, but needs Lorenzo the dragon-shifter to join him; if not the mage's firestorm mate will die.

After six previous "Kiss" Dragonfire urban fantasies (see Whisper Kiss and Darkfire Kiss), the first entry sans a Kiss in the title is a fast-paced, character driven thriller. Lorenzo has a few rude awakenings starting with his mate and dragon mature surfacing as he is the mage of denial until he understands the threat to his Cassie. Fans of the saga will enjoy venturing into the heart of the Cooke mythos as her protagonist is a master illusionist who actually can perform the shapeshifting physics of magic.

On Lavender Lane
JoAnn Ross
9780451235435 $7.99

Former SEAL Lucas Chaffee left the Navy to join with his dad in a father and son business in Shelter Bay, Oregon. However, he learns the true meaning of the citation "man proposes but God disposes" when he arrives in time to bury his dad at sea. Lucas is in shock by his loss. The townsfolk rally around the stunned Lucas who knows he suffers from a grief-driven PTSD much worse than any of his SEAL mission.

Sofia De Luca, who was there for father and son when tragedy struck yearago is there for Lucas again. She asks him to redesign her farmhouse, Lavender Lane, into a restaurant. Lucas agrees though that brings back memories of her granddaughter Madeline; he broke two hearts back in high school.

Madeline has become a famous TV chef. She catches her husband Maxime with a bimbo on YouTube. Deciding to go home for a respite following his betrayal, Madeline returns to Shelter Bay to help Gram with her restaurant. However, on Lavender Lane, she realizes Lucas is the answer to the question How To Mend a Broken Heart (Bee Gees)?

The third Shelter Bay romance (see One Summer and The Homecoming) is an insightful second chance at love contemporary. The key to the storyline are the traumas impacting the lead couple to include death of a love one, returning military trying to adjust to civilian life, spousal abuse and PTSD as these conditions widen the understanding of the protagonists. Readers will enjoy dining in Shelter Bay with Chef Madeline and veteran Lucas.

Haunted Warrior
Allie Mackay
9780451235480 $7.99

The historical restoration group Scotland's Past hires Ghostcatchers International ghost whisperer Kendra Chase to assist with the troubled spirits disturbed by a dig in Pennard, Scotland. When she arrives from Edinburgh at the coastal fishing village, she sees mysterious seal expert Graeme MacGrath and his rowdy companion Jock the dog.

Kendra and Graeme want one another, but each for differing reasons is reluctant to see where their attraction leads. While Kendra tries to conceal her paranormal skill; Graeme tries to protecting the villagers from an evil threatening to break through barrier separating two realms. However, he concludes for him to keep the residents and their village safe, he needs Kendra's paranormal skills.

The lead protagonists (to include jocular Jock) bring energy to an engaging urban romantic fantasy as each of the lead couple is falling in love but know their respective mission comes first. Ironically, while hiding their particular cause, neither realizes their respective mission is the same. Sub-genre fans will appreciate Haunted Warrior as Allie Mackay makes the save the village and perhaps Scotland and the world come before the love though their feelings are always everywhere.

Catch of a Lifetime
LuAnn McLane
9780451235497 $7.99

Jessica Robinson was a kid having a kid when she moved to Cricket Creek, Kentucky to raise her daughter Madison as a single mom. To everyone's shock, Jessica became a famous Chicago chef. However, she is back in town to help insure the success of her beloved zany Aunt Myra's Wine and Dine Restaurant as the in place to eat.

Retired major leaguer baseball player Ty McKenna knows Jessica's Chicago cooking as he dined there every night with seemingly a different bimbo when the team was home. He now resides in the small Kentucky town managing the minor league Cricket Creek Cougars. Ty was attracted to the chef in Chicago but failed to swing the bat as he expect to strike out. With a second chance at the plate, he plans to swing for the fences as he tries to persuade the forty year old Jessica that belong together.

Catch of a Lifetime is an entertaining lighthearted sports-culinary romance starring a baseball manager and a renowned chef. The support cast brings zaniness especially her family and his players and fans. Although the plot follows a straight path, this amusing tale belongs to the "oh lordy" forty couple who run the bases of love with their walk off homerun.

Twice Fallen
Emma Wildes
9780451235282 $7.99

In 1816 London, Lady Lillian Bourne knows she must behave exemplary because the slightest hint of impropriety will leave her rusticating on the shelf. She owes a debt to the Dowager Duchess of Eddington who helped her return to society following her scandalous elopement attempt four years ago.

However, her prim and proper deployment is tested when she finds herself locked in a library with only former operative Lord Damien Northfield. He gets them back to the party through a secret passageway. Damien is assigned a final mission to uncover the identity of a blackmailer. One of the victims is Lily's former ex-fiance Lord Sebring who ruined her. Even as he wonders why her father failed to challenge the rogue, Damien recruits Lily to assist him on his task, but his secret agenda is to court her.

The latest Ladies in Waiting Regency romance (see One Whisper Away) is an intelligent undercover thriller starring two likable individuals whose amusing banter brings a fun element to an exciting tale. The storyline is fast-paced as Emma Wildes deftly blends love, danger and humor into a first rate historical.

Next Of Kin
Sharon Sala
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778313120, $7.99,

In the Los Angeles area, while staying at a friend's house Beth Venable witnesses a mob kill, but the murderer knows someone observed the homicide. The killer murders Beth's friend who he assumes is the person who saw him. The FBI places her in a safe house until she can give testimony at the trial, but a predator stalks her. Two more failed safe houses persuade Beth that the Feds are incompetent, traitorous or both. She flees them and her killer for the anonymity of her Kentucky family in the Appalachian.

Besides her clan rallying around the prodigal child's return, Beth's former sweetheart Ryal Walker welcomes her back with a need for a second chance. While Beth considers staying at her old Kentucky home with Ryal, her persistent predator comes to the obscure mountain ridge seeking to kill Beth and anyone in his way.

The theme of this Rebel Ridge romantic suspense has been used a lot, but talented Sharon Sala makes it feel like she is the first author to use a hit man coming after a witness-damsel in distress. The lead couple is a delightful second chance pairing while her kin bring to life the dirt roads and shacks of Appalachia compared to "L.A. is a great big freeway" (Do you know the way to San Jose?). What really makes the thriller work is brave bodacious Beth who refuses to fold just because a pro stalks her.

Edge of Midnight
Leslie Tentler
9780778313137 $7.99

FBI agent Eric Macfarlane unofficially hunts the Collector serial killer haunting Florida. His thirst to end this predator's killing spree is personal as the Collector murdered his wife.

On a Jacksonville Beach, a bloodied, confused female is found. Crime reporter Mia Hale is the first person to survive the Collector's lethal assault. However, she remembers nothing about the psychopath who drugged and tortured her before leaving her "dead" on the beach. Eric persuades his leadership to allow him to investigate and keep the witness safe. As the serial killer adds to his deadly count, he targets the survivor and taunts her protector with reminders how Eric failed to keep his spouse safe.

The latest FBI Chasing Evil romantic suspense is an exciting thriller starring a diabolically clever but deranged villain, an emotionally damaged Fed and a crime reporter who has become the story. Although the plot has been done before including in this series (see Midnight Fear and Midnight Caller), the killer brings the freshness as readers meet this maniac up front and in person. Fans will enjoy his chess game against Eric, as the hunted and the hunter vie for the queen.

The Legacy Of Eden
Nelle Davy
9780778329558 $15.95

Lavinia Hathaway's dream was to make her family the royalty of Iowa at any cost to relatives, friends and the peasants. She destroyed so many people so that her three thousand-acre estate Aurelia was the Taj Mahal farm of the Hawkeye State. Generations after Lavinia's seemingly success, decades later prove her outcome an abysmal failure. The last Hathaway, forty-five years old Caledon, still lives at the once glorious but now in debt estate dies form cirrhosis of the liver (a male family trait) alone; none of the extended family wants anything to do with Lavinia's curse.

In New York City, Meredith Pincetti receives a letter pleading with her to come home after seventeen years of blissful self-imposed exile using her mother's maiden name. Her gut says to ignore it, but her DNA tells her to go home. Her sister Ava tells her she told the lawyers no. However, Meredith and her other sibling Claudia return to Aurelia, the site of some much anguish as Lavinia's dream was everyone else's nightmare.

This is a fascinating epic of the impact of a ruthless matriarch has on her descendants; for instance the three mostly estranged sisters have limited if any contact with one another and the males turn to alcohol to ease their torment. Although the story line is straighter than the Bonneville Flats lacking any twists, fans will enjoy this entertaining family drama.

Secrets of the Lost Summer
Carla Neggers
9780778313113 $7.99

Boston based designer Olivia Frost returns to her rustic home in Knights Bridge New England with a dream. Her plan is to convert her property into a picturesque getaway. Though she has doubts she can succeed, the ramshackle dilapidated house next door will insure failure unless he can persuade the absentee owner to fix up the horror.

San Diego based Dylan McCaffrey learns he inherited a house in Knights Bridge that he never knew his late father owned. He goes to look at his inheritance only to find a falling apart dump and he cannot fathom why his dad owned especially since it has no heat during an ice storm. Dylan begins to realize this crapper contains generations old family treasure. Over the objection of her canine Buster, Dylan and Olivia seek the hidden loot, but he soon realizes the real treasure is her.

This is a great regional romance with a bit of a family history enhancing the wonderful plot. The protagonists are an engaging pair of West and East Coast while the support crew, consisting of his and her families and friends, strengthens the entertaining storyline. Fans will enjoy winter in Knights Bridge.

The Summer Garden
Sheryl Woods
9780778313090 $7.99

Luke O'Brien met "Maddening Moira" O'Malley when both were in Dublin a few months ago. He was and remains attracted to her though he expects nothing will happen between them. Instead he diligently focuses on opening up a pub in Chesapeake Shores, Maryland while his dalliance with Kristen Lewis fails to delete Maddening Moira from his mind.

Moira wonders if Luke the playboy will be like her father who abandoned her and the family when she was a child or a dedicated loving mate. She fears risking her heart while he tries to concentrate on the pub. His family does what the O'Brien clan always does; interfere as they want Luke and Moira together.

The latest Chesapeake Shores contemporary romance (see Beach Lane and Moonlight Cove) is a lighthearted romp starring an interesting pair as he is married to his pub and she is frozen with her phobia of men leaving. Although the storyline contains no surprises as the plot is very straightforward, fans will enjoy the return to Maryland for a visit with the O'Brien boisterous brood.

The Burning Edge
Rick Mofina
9780778313014 $7.99

Two years her husband Bobby died leaving Lisa Palmer a grieving single mom trying to help her children Ethan and Taylor with their loss. To pay the bills, she sold the cabin on Lake George that was part of his family since 1957 but believes Bobby would understand. Driving from Upstate New York to her home in Queens, Lisa makes a pit stop in the Ramapo exit of the New York State Freeway. An armored car arrives, but two gunmen kill the delivery men and an FBI agent who was next to her; she feels guilty over the Fed because she dropped his gun that he asked her to remove from his pocket, which led the murderous robbers to him.

Terminal cancer victim, FBI agent Frank Morrow leads the hunt for the killers. Under questioning as an eye-witness, Lisa provides a key clue to the identity of some of the murderers. Meanwhile, ambitious reporter Jack Gannon investigates at the same time Ivan Felk and his black ops crew plan to rob again in order to raise the rest of the money needed to pay the ransom of some of his team incarcerated in Afghanistan, but first he needs to assassinate the witness by targeting her kids.

The latest Gannon investigation (see The Panic Zone and In Desperation) is an exciting tense tale starring a frightened widow, a dying cop, an ambitious journalist and an obsessed villain who adheres to the credo of no man left behind. The pulse pumping story line is fast-paced with readers anticipating a collision of the four protagonists. Although the climax is over the edge of the top of the Empire State Building, fans will enjoy the fourth taut Gannon thriller.

Dead And Not So Buried
James L. Conway
Camel Press
c/o Coffee House Press
79 - 13th Avenue NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413-1073
9781603818667 $15.95

Someone steals the remains of 1960s Hollywood "It" icon Christine Cole from her gravesite at Westside Cemetery in Brentwood. The funeral director Alex Snyder asks to see former cop Gideon Kincaid. When the private investigator arrives he is greeted by a gun. Alex shows a bewildered Gideon the ransom note demanding $2 million in hundred dollar bills to be delivered by Gideon. The sleuth goes to the drop off site only to have the felon hijack his car with the money inside. The thief calls Gideon with the location of his car that contains bones inside the trunk that are not Cole.

A mystery writer, Gideon remembers a novel by TV producer Barry Winslow with the same plot. He visits Winslow who offers no information, but later asks Gideon to see him at his penthouse. He is just outside when Winslow falls from his balcony. Gideon runs upstairs just before two hardnosed cops, his ex wife Stacey Wilson and her partner Piccolo, arrive.

The killer, failed actor Roy Cooper, steals Jennifer the poodle from producer David Hunter. He once again leaves a ransom note but Wilson and Piccolo are involved. The Gravesnatcher, as the killer is called, succeeds due to the police bungling. With his assistant Hilary at his side more bodacious thefts and homicides occur; Gideon believes he and those close to him are on a killer's vengeance list.

The first Kincaid Hollywood thriller is an entertaining cat and mouse mystery. Gideon is an intriguing protagonist who brings a noir feel to the tale and a fascinating anti relationship with the police. Though some readers might not enjoy knowing the culprit early on, Dead And Not So Buried is a fast-paced, exciting story.

Elmore Leonard
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062119469, $26.99,

In Harlan County, Kentucky, the two cash crops are marijuana and organ harvesting. U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (see Pronto and Riding the Rap) investigates who removed the kidneys from drug dealer Angel Arenas. His inquiry leads to weed dealing brothers Dickie and Coover Crowe who expanded their operations into the lucrative harvesting of organs to sell back at 10K to the donor; the Fed knows this pair's combined IQ would remain in single digits so someone medically competent is the brains of the operation.

The Crowe family owns mountain land that a coal company covets. Executive Carol Conlon will kill anyone who gets in her firm's mountaintop removal operation. Givens follows a deadly feud to the Crowe clan and the mining company.

Raylan pursues stoned bank robbing strippers. The clues lead to Jackie Nevada who pays for her college tuition at Butler by playing poker.

More novellas and shorts (there is additional vignettes) than a novel, the tie between the tales is Raylan. The zany tales are over the top of Black Mountain as the madcap police procedurals are fun to read while satirizing American capitalism especially through the various legal and illegal industries and the caricature villains and villainesses. Fans will enjoy Elmore Leonard's latest madcap thriller.

What Happened to Hannah?
Mary Kay McComas
9780062084781 $14.99

Her abusive father Karl caught his seventeen years old Hannah Benson kissing Grady Steadman. He assaulted her, but she fled Clearfield, Virginia into the night, vowing to never return.

Two decades later, Sheriff Grady calls Hannah, who lived up to her vow to never come home to see her mom or sister. He feels guilty for not contacting her a few years ago when her sister Ruth died as her mom Ellen could have used help with raising her granddaughter Anna. With the death of Hannah's mom, she is guardian to fifteen year old Anna. Reluctantly Hannah returns to Clearfield while her high school sweetheart wants her to tell him the truth as to what happened on the night she left her family.

This is an intriguing look at what abuse does to a family as the three female Benson's feared the wrath of the odious patriarch who learned his abusive behavior from his father. The fascinating storyline follows the anticipated path with readers easily guessing who do what to whom on that night. Character driven, the audience will appreciate Hannah's version of You Can't Go Home Again (Thomas Wolfe) even when the truth can set you free.

The Confession
Charles Todd
9780062015662 $25.99

In 1920 at Scotland Yard, Wyatt Russell confesses to killing his cousin Justin Fowler. Inspector Ian Rutledge has some concerns with the confession as the alleged culprit refuses to provide him with a motive as to why he murdered his relative five years ago. To learn more Ian meets Wyatt, dying of cancer, for lunch, but the latter adds nothing of value to his insistence he committed a homicide in the remote Essex marches.

Following up on the limited leads Russell provided him, Rutledge travels from London to the alleged locale of the murder, but the insular locals refuse to speak with the outsider. Meanwhile Russell's body is found floating on the Thames; someone shot him in the back of the head, but the now hot case spins further into the illogical zone when Rutledge learns the dead confessor was not Wyatt Russell.

The latest Rutledge post WWI police procedural (see The Red Door and A Lonely Death) is a great investigation as the case keeps twisting out of control with every major find the inspector obtains. Rutledge remains shell shocked by his execution of Hamish MacLeod for refusing a direct order on the French battlefield; the latter "speaks" to the former accentuating Rutledge's fears especially of being caught by his superiors as mentally damaged. This is a great entry in a strong historical series.

No Mark Upon Her
Deborah Crombie
9780061990618 $25.99

Metropolitan Police detective chief inspector Rebecca Meredith trains for the Olympics in rowing. However, she drowns while training at night on the Thames in Henley. Although her police peers assume a horrible accident occurred, the circumstances require an official inquiry.

Newlyweds Scotland Yard Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and Detective Inspector Gemma James Kincaid lead the investigation. They quickly conclude Meredith's death was a homicide. The Kincaid pair looks into the activities of family, friends, and rowing and police associates. Their focus narrows down to the victim's former spouse, a K9 handler, her rowing coach, and a Deputy Assistant Commissioner; of whom the latter accused of raping her.

The latest Kincaid and James-Kincaid British police procedural (see Necessary as Blood and Kiss A Sad Goodbye) is a terrific entry that looks closely into an investigation in which a high ranking cop is a prime suspect. The storyline provides readers with a tour of London not seen by tourists. However, it is the contrast between the untidy contented marriage merger of two extended families, and the untidy discontented murder mystery that will remind readers of the final split scene in the Cagney version of Public Enemy.

More Than Words Can Say
Robert Barclay
9780062041197 $14.99

In 1999 in Syracuse, New York, Chelsea Enright inherits her late beloved grandmother Brooke's remote rustic cottage in the Adirondacks. Chelsea is unsure what she will do with the Lake Evergreen property that has not been occupied since 1942. She wonders why her grandma, who loved the cabin, left it and never returned.

When she arrives at her new property for a brief look around visit, Chelsea is shocked to find the place spotless and modernized. Mystified, Chelsea locates her grandmother's WWII diaries and begins to read shocking secrets of what happened in 1942. Dr. Brandon Yale and Chelsea meet and are attracted to one another. As she spends the summer with her doctor and learning the truth about her grandma that as far as she knows no one else in the family is aware of what happened while Brooke dined on a low income budget in WWII.

More Than Words Can Say is an engaging family drama that predominately occurs in 1999, but uses the journals to tell the tale of 1942. Chelsea holds the entreating storyline together with help from her doctor and her grandma (and someone else). Although the conflict in 1999 is tepid, the one in 1942 is bittersweet as Robert Barclay provides an engaging character driven tale.

The Royal Stuarts: A History of the Family That Shaped Britain
Allan Massie
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312581756, $26.99,

In the late eleventh century and early twelfth century, Breton descendants of Banquo (of Shakespearean Macbeth assassination fame) begin to rise in power culminating when the grandson becomes the High Steward of Scotland, a hereditary position, and changes the family name to Stewart. The name actually becomes Stuart when Queen Mary makes the modification. In 1371, Robert II becomes the first Stewart to be a monarch. Robert III and James I, II, and III follow but none succeed as monarchs for different reasons. In 1488 James IV becomes king and brings the renaissance to Scotland while his marriage to Margaret, daughter of English King Henry VII, leads to the merging of the two kingdoms and rivalry with the Tudors that culminates with Queen Elizabeth's execution of Queen Mary in 1587. Ironically though the Tudors appeared to have won, Mary's son James VI became James I upon Elizabeth's death. The Stuarts become the rulers of both kingdoms with religious wars costing them the throne which they also regain. Their rule continues with William and Mary II (daughter of James VII and II) and ends with her sister Anne as a failure though James VIII and Charles the Pretender try to reclaim the English throne.

Allan Massie provides a deep look at the Stewart-Stuart dynasty divided into the pre monarchy origins and sixteen kings. Well-written with an exciting look at "A History of the Family That Shaped Britain", readers including Tudor-philes will appreciate the insightful and engaging story of The Royal Stuarts who historians (and the Bard) have painted as Alydar to the Tudor's Affirmed.

Before She Dies
Mary Burton
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9781420110210, $7.99,

He baptizes the evil "witches" to rid them of sin before he drives a stake through their cleansed heart pinning his victims to the ground. His count of purifying the gender rises as it is unsafe for women to be alone.

Defense attorney Charlotte Wellington hides her scandalous past behind a veneer of cold Before She Dies
professionalism. She wants no one to know her sister was murdered and that she was raised in a traveling carnival. When her childhood troupe arrives in town, Charlotte's hidden past is revealed. However, Charlotte fails to comprehend that the purifying serial killer targets her in needs of sin removal cleansing. Her only hope for survival resides with Detective Daniel Rokov who distrusts this damsel in distress partly because of his attraction to her.

The latest Mary Burton serial killer thriller (see Senseless, Dead Ringer, Dying Scream and Merciless) is a great tale because of Charlotte who holds the exhilarating storyline together. Readers will wonder who she really is as her past surfaces with death after death. Before She Dies is an intense suspense that grips readers from start to finish.

Georgina Gentry
9781420121674 $6.99

When Hannah Brownley was fifteen, she ran away from her abusive stepfather. She met and married Luther who she thought would treat her kindly, but he proved abusive in a different way and her husband tried but failed to break her spirit. Three years later, Luther held the rifle watching for Comanche while Hannah and the children picked plums. When the Comanche arrive, her cowardly husband flees knocking over children. The raiding party leader punches Hannah in the face, something she expects from all males, before she and her son are taken captive. Once again Hannah believes these brutes may hurt her physically but will not break her spiritually.

In 1856, Second Lieutenant Colt Prescott and the Second Cavalry out of Camp Cooper rescue Hannah, but fail to free her son. Colt learns that her Indian name is Muakatu (Moonlight) and that she is the woman of vicious Puhu Retsi (Spider). The major's easterner daughter Miss Olivia Murphy takes charge of Hannah. While Doc and Colt understand Hannah, Olivia thinks the savage needs her Christian help while also deciding Colt will make a perfect mate for her. When Hannah goes for her child Travis, Colt decides to help her.

The third Texans romance (see Rio and Diablo) is a superb pre Civil War tale starring a strong title character and a brave woman who refuses to let men break her as she knows as a Texas girl the only male who could is Travis. The support cast is somewhat stereotypical, but that enhances the time and place as well as the relationship between the lead Texas couple. Georgina Gentry provides an engaging historical.

Summer of Secrets
Charlotte Hubbard
9781420121698, $6.99

Willow Ridge, Missouri is home to the Amish Old Ways. Childhood sweethearts carpenter Micah Breeneman and Rachel Lantz, who works at their two families' Sweet Seasons Bakery Cafe, look forward to their upcoming marriage.

Tiffany Oliveri, an Englisher looking like a Halloween party attendee with her ghoulish clothing, spiked hair and tattoos, arrives. She uses profanity as Rachael takes her order and thinks the girl is her twin sister Rhoda or her with a ton of make-up on her. Her mamma Miriam believes the newcomer is her lost third triplet Rebecca. Her marriage to the late Jesse never was the same from that terrible day. The girl says she just buried her mom when her dad Bib said he rescued her from a tree on the Missouri River in the flood of '93 when they were three. The dynamics have changed as relationships are altered forever.

The first Seasons of the Heart Amish is a terrific extended families' drama. The ensemble cast is fully developed so that the readers understand the impact of the return of the lost child on three caring families. Fans will relish this tender tale as the Englisher finds her roots as cultures collide while love blossoms in Missouri.

My Wicked Little Lies
Victoria Alexander
9781420117066, $7.99

After five years working for the Department of Domestic and International Affairs, Evelyn writes a note to her boss Sir informing him she is leaving to raise a family; her only regret is they never met in person. Sir begins a note back but stops.

Two years later, the new head of the department Sir Maxwell Osgood sends a note to Countess Evelyn Hadley-Attwater that he needs her help. Eve once worked there but is happily married to Adrian. Max trusts no one since a file with names was stolen on what looks like an insider job and a former agency head died though apparently from natural causes. He needs Eve who he trusts since Sir erased her name from the files.

Adrian knows something disturbs Eve. He fears she has a lover. The next day he follows her and her BFF Celeste. Later he asks them what they did; neither mentions the British Museum where Max's instructions send her to a bookstore where she finds out the suspect is Lord Dunnell. Eve convinces Adrian they need to attend Dunnell's bash. At the gala, she sneaks into a room and breaks into Dunnell's locked desk. She finds nothing, but Adrian arrives just before Lord Radington arrives for a tryst with a lady. Adrian thinks Eve and Radington are having an affair and sets out to prove it.

The heroine is a fresh protagonist as she is former spy who loves Sir and her husband. The support cast is solid especially the other two spies in love. Although Eve too easily learns the truth about Sir, readers will appreciate this amusing madcap historical as love makes even the top agents act inane.

Devil's Kiss
Zoe Archer
9781420122275, $7.99

In 1762 Earl of Whitney James Shelbourne is a blue blood Hellraiser as he, like his four friends, loves the thrill of a high stake risk in which the ante is him. Whit visits a Romany camp where he meets intriguing mysterious Zora Grey, an adept card player. Used to always winning even against insurmountable odds, Whit loses to his skilled opponent while being distracted by her hands working the cards rather than his fantasy.

Attracted to James, Zora knows she must help her beloved overcome the devil deal he and the other Hellraisers made in which they gave away their respective souls to obtain their heart's desire. As they fall in love, Whit realizes the paradox of Zora being his heart's desire but if they overcome the pact he fears she will no longer be his heart's desire; however he also knows if he fails to fight back, he loses her anyway and evil will be even further entrenched in the mortal plane.

The first Hellraisers Georgian romance is a terrific tale paradoxical Faustian thriller starring a bad boy hero who sold himself to the devil and the tough passionate female who prays she can rescue his soul though his heart. The storyline is fast-paced from the opening piquet game of cards to the final confrontation as love may not be enough even with a Friend and Lover to Reach Out Of The Darkness.

King of the Isles
Debbie Mazzuca
9781420110074, $6.99

In 1607, half-breed Highlander with no otherworldly power, Enchanted Isle King Lachlan MacLeod works hard to integrate his Fae and human subjects by improving their lives. He becomes irate when King Magnus pressures him into an alliance based on marriage.

Evangeline is the most powerful Fae mage in the isle. Her prowess and her caring for all people regardless of their ethnicity has estranged her from her father Morfessa who tells lies about his daughter and other Fae who consider her a traitor. She distrusts her hybrid monarch as his kind only care about the well being of mortals. However, as they argue, fuss and fight, they fall in love, but a kidnapping forces Lachlan and Evangeline on a rescue hunt.

The third Isles seventeenth century romantic fantasy (see Lord of the Isles and Warrior of the Isles) is an engaging fast-paced historical starring two fascinating individuals with Fae blood flowing inside them. The purebred and the hybrid fall in love though they frustrate each other. Although Morfessa is a poor villain as his plans are obvious, fans will enjoy a wee bit of Highlander Nordic magic.

Bound by Darkness
Alexandra Ivy
9781420111361, $7.99

The recent death of malevolent Morgana le Fey has freed the Sylvermyst from the evil one who enslaved and tortured them. However used to being liberated to make decisions, the clan reacts differently. Prince Ariyal will do anything to keep the Dark Lord from finding a new vessel to return to while Tearloch insanely obsesses over bring back their former master. He kidnaps a baby that will serve as the vessel for a mage to perform the rite of passage. Ariyal plans to kill the innocent infant so that the Dark Lord cannot return.

The Commission assigns vampire warrior Jaelyn to capture Ariyal to take to the Oracles and to protect the baby. However he stuns her when he takes her prisoner instead; he takes her to the Avalon. As an Oracle proclaims they must work together to prevent global destruction, he asks her to assist him in hunting down his rogue kin controlled by evil.

The latest Guardians of Eternity romantic fantasy (see Devoured by Darkness) is an excellent entry; starring two intrepid souls who are natural enemies though share the bond of love. The storyline is action-packed but driven by the lead couple who go from antagonists to protagonists as their respective missions intertwine on an increasingly deadlier wider scale. Bound by Darkness is a strong thriller.

Dead by Nightfall
Beverly Barton
9781420110364, $7.99

Psychopath Malcolm York held Griffin Powell, Damar Sanders and Yvette Meng prisoner in his Amara torture chamber where he performed all types of sexual depravities including murder. He especially enjoyed the human hunts he organized. However, the trio overcame the odds managing to kill the madman and destroying Amara.

However, Griff revises his belief that the nightmare who haunts him 24/7 is dead when his wife former FBI Special Agent Nicole is kidnapped and the taunting phone calls from that familiar voice he has not hear in over a decade begin. With his associates at the Powell Private Security and Investment Agency, Griff hunts a madman, who he knows wants to entrap him, in order to rescue his pregnant beloved.

The Third Dead By thriller (see Dead by Morning and Dead by Midnight) is an exciting suspense tale as time is running out on Nic. The storyline is fast-paced from the first phone call to the final confrontation. There is a deja vu feel to the plot as Nic was abducted with Griff in pursuit in The Murder Game while Pudge the serial killer of that novel is similar to Malcolm as both are surreal amoral evil gamester. Still this is an entertaining cat and mouse game that showcases the late Beverly Barton's suspenseful writing skills.

A Place Called Home
Jo Goodman
9780821774182, $7.99

Five years ago at the Christening of their newborn twins (Case and Grant), Gabe and Kathryn Reasoner asked their friends businesswoman Thea Wyndham and political cartoonist Mitchell Baker to be legal guardians to the babies and their oldest offspring (then six year old Emilie). Thea and Mitchell agree signing the document as neither expected to ever end in that role.

However, the horrible accident happens with both Reasoner parents dead. Thea insults Mitch by offering him money to go solo as parenting paralyzes her; he tells her where to place her money. Her fiance Joel and his fiancee Gina put pressure on each of them to dump the kids on the other. Having been in charge of them for a month while Thea remained incognito, Mitch demands she get involved in honor of Gabe who selected her. She soon realizes the children need her and Mitch, and both realize they need each other.

The theme of "unfit" guardians falling in love with each other and the children they raise has been used frequently (see A Kiss for Cade by Lori Copeland and The Redemption of Sarah Cain by Beverly Lewis). However, Jo Goodman makes her entry fresh with a deep yet amusing look at changing extended relationships in a modern somewhat upper class setting (the significant others are old money). The cast is terrific as the lead couple struggle with the demands of their hearts, the twins and their future mates; but none put on the pressure quite like Emilie who is summed up by Mitch as a victim of an adult body snatcher with her pod in the basement. Readers will enjoy this modern take on a newly forged in love family.

The Crown
Nancy Bilyeau
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781451626858, $24.99,

In 1537, Dominican novice Joanna Stafford learns her beloved cousin Lady Margaret Bulmer is to be burned at the stakes for treason against the Crown. Stunned Joanna violates convent rules of enclosure by leaving Dartford Priory; she rushes to London to stand by her relative while praying for divine intervention to save her Margaret from execution. Instead Joanna's father uses gunpowder to expedite his niece's death.

Father and daughter are arrested for violating the King's justice. They are taken to the Tower where the Stafford pair resides for the next several months. Bishop of Winchester Stephen Gardiner visits Joanna with a deal she cannot refuse if she wants to prevent him from torturing and murdering her father. She is to return to her priory accompanied by two monks in order to locate the crown worn by Saxon King Athelstan in 937 during the battle of Britain unification. However Dartford proves deadly, but clues lead Joanna and Brother Edmund to Malmesbury where much of English secret history is interred.

When this exciting Tudor era thriller focuses on Joanna, the storyline is fast-paced and intriguing; however subplots involving other characters at Dartford detract from the prime plot. Still, fans will enjoy the escapades of Joanna and Edmund as they try to do what is right under God and to save her father while their ruthless ambitious adversaries have no moral or religious limitations.

Diamond Life
Aliya S. King
9781451625547, $14.99

Entertainment journalist Alex Maxwell feels she's on top of the world with her marriage to Birdie the rapper and her work as a ghost writer although the latter caused her some tsuris when she did Cleopatra Wright's point the middle finger at memoir (see Platinum). As the couple leaves Brooklyn for a Mcmansion in Jersey and groupies chase after him, Alex learns when it comes to divas like Cleo it is never over.

Record company mogul Jake grieves the death of his beloved multiplatinum R&B artist singer Kipenzi. He turns to alcohol and secretive Lily the waitress to numb his pain though she rejects his fame.

Rapper Z knows his addiction to drugs and women have hurt his Beth. He tries to go clean to be there for his pregnant wife and their sons especially since his child Zander wants to enter the music world. However, Zander has issues too following a highly reported domestic violence incident with his girlfriend Bunny

Jamaican singer-producer Ras Bennett and his wife fashion designer Josephine love their newly adopted daughter Reina. However, Cleo being Cleo causes them despair.

This engaging sequel follows up on the lives of the key performers who went Platinum. Character driven, readers will believe the ensemble cast are real performers with stardom and trouble as keys in their scandalous lifestyles. Fans will enjoy this entertaining look at the flawed Diamond Life of performers, their families and retinue from A to Z.

Real Wifeys: Get Money
Meesha Mink
9781451640823, $14.99

In Newark Harriet "Luscious" Jordan learns her friend and mentor Kaeyla "Goldie" Dennis was sleeping with her man renowned rapper Makes$. Irate at both, she vows vengeance against Goldie and is no longer Make$ loyal wifey. When he goes to prison on a probation violation and abetting the cover-up of the rape of Goldie, his wifey ignores his pleas for help; instead she takes ten million from his safe leaving behind forty million before his mom Miss Peaches and his sisters Heaven and Earth get the money.

As Luscious becomes a successful party promoter, her efforts to get even with Goldie fail. Her lack of success to destroy Goldie just adds gas to her fiery rage, which also drives her two BFFs Michael and Eve from her side. When Luscious finally sets the trap that will devastate Goldie, she learns too late that her plan leaves both females in deadly danger from someone fighting dirtier than either woman to get money.

The second Real Wifeys street lit (see On The Grind) is an engaging morality tale as the protagonist learns perhaps too late that revenge is not just a dish served cold; it is a dish served deadly as Amanda Clarke of Revenge is also is learning. The cast of this urban thriller is solid with diverse personalities, but this is a tale of the former Real Wifey of Make$ who tells in the first person (with plenty of profanities) what is going on.

Living Violet
Jaime Reed
K Teen/Dafina
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9780758269249, $9.95,

Samara Marshall goes to school and works at Buncha Books. She likes working there, but cannot understand why women make fools of themselves over the music department assistant manager Caleb Baker, the man with the "intense violet eyes'" whom females have heart attacks over. Her weekend partner exchange student Nadine Petrovsky has the same effect on men.

Caleb is attracted to Samara who somehow resists his lure. At a seniors' party, Samara serves as referee to her BFF Mia and her boyfriend Dougie, and chaperone to her younger friend Alicia the sophomore who should not be at the party but came with Garrett. When Samara sees Garret on top of Alicia, she kicks him in the face. When he recovers he calls her a name and attacks Samara. Raging Caleb kills the serial rapist. Caleb admits that he is a Cambion, whose body possesses two souls; that of his own and an incubus who lures women to dine on their essence.

This is an engaging romantic urban fantasy with a strong cast especially at the bookstore, who affirms Virginia is for lovers. The story line starts off fast as the audience meets the cast; but slows down in the middle with the moral heroine taming the beast; before accelerating with a tense finish involving Samara's family. Although the first Cambion Chronicles at times especially in the middle section focuses too much on values that seem demeaning dumbed down, young teen readers will enjoy meeting the strange crew at Buncha Books.

Kiss Of Frost
Jennifer Estep
K Teen
9780758266941, $9.95

Gwen Frost the Gypsy possesses psychometric power. In her second year as a warrior in training at the Mythos Academy, she still feels like the proverbial outside newcomer who does not belong although Gwen has a few friends. However, she is attracted to Logan Quinn the Spartan, who ignores her entirely as if Gwen does not exist except in swordplay.

However, Gwen has a bigger than life problem other than an unrequited teen crush as Reapers and werewolves want her dead with two failed attempts including an invisible archer at the Library of Iniquities. A third try at the Winter Carnival also is thwarted as Gwen with Vic the sword realizes she needs to uncover the identity of the Reaper stalking her before the adversary finally succeeds.

With a nod to Greek mythology in a high school setting, the second Mythos Academy young teen fantasy (see Touch of Frost) is a charming tale filled with a strong cast especially Gwen's archenemy Savannah Wren the Amazon and her BFFs. The fast-paced twisting story line contains misdirection as to who wants the heroine dead while is also filled with comedic moments, but avoids exploring the darker side of Gypsies. Still readers will enjoy Gwen's non-academic adventures at school in which someone wants her as dead as her late mom.

Marni Bates
K Teen
9780758269379, $9.95

In Forest Grove, Oregon Mackenzie Wellesley is a freshman attending Smith High School. Mackenzie is intelligent and does well in class; on the other hand socially she is a nonentity with only her tutoring the Notables keeping her from being a total Invisible. Currently she tutors hockey team captain Logan Beckett, which makes her somewhat visible, a preference she hates ever since the ballet incident and dad's ditching her and the family.

When she knocks out a football player with her backpack, she tries CPR. Her efforts go viral on YouTube and she becomes the joke of the world as John Stewart features her geek in action on the daily Show. However, that video becomes the basis of a monster rock hit in which she joins the band on the stage and she also receives all sorts of designer clothing. Mackenzie goes from invisible to scorn to folk heroine welcomed at all parties. All she wants is to return to her cocoon with Logan joining her.

With a nod to Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter this is an amusing look at the social media fifteen minutes of fame. Mackenzie is a terrific high school student who feels Awkward when she becomes notoriously famous. Although improbable, teenage readers will enjoy Mackenzie's jocular navigating the fickle high school caste system.

Island Of Desire
Lorie O'Clare
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758261397, $14.00

Mark Tripp, Sr. orders his son Jr. to come home to their island retreat to assist him with his latest money making scheme that includes a male beauty pageant. To the delight of Jr. Sr. hires beautiful Andrea Denton to run the pageant.

Andrea informs Mark the son that she is interested in a no strings sex with him while she remains on the island. Once the gala is over so is their tryst. Mark is ecstatic agreeing to her terms. As they enjoy their erotic exotic encounters, someone seems to be sabotaging the pageant as a string of suspicious accidents occur. The pair investigates who is behind the increasingly dangerous incidents.

The story line is thin (except for Mark's lower head) in spite of the amateur sleuth subplot as that feels somewhat forced to add suspense to the engaging erotic romance. The lead pairing are likable protagonists who know what they (and readers) want and go out and perform. Sub-genre fans will enjoy Island of Desire as the sex is hot.

Simply Carnal
Kate Pearce
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758269454, $14.00

At Madame Helene's Pleasure House, son of the owner Christian Delornay manages the brothel. Being around trysts 24/7 for years, he feels sex is a pleasant interlude in which romantic love does not matter or exist. The cynic hires Mrs. Elizabeth Smith as his assistant. He fails to inform the widow that part of her job description is his mentoring her in simply sensual seductive surrender.

However, Mrs. Smith conceals her innermost desires from her employer. He refuses to accept her not surrendering to him with her carnal need. As he simply brings her pleasure that equals his temporary satiation, he needs more of her.

The latest House of Pleasure erotic regency romance (see Simply Forbidden, Simply Sexual, Simply Sinful, Simply Shameless, Simply Wicked and Simply Insatiable) is simply a delightful entertaining historical. Christian and Mrs. Smith are fully-developed (beyond just his lower head) intriguing protagonists especially her as she brings an aura of sad mystery to the mix. Although the storyline is somewhat thin, series fans will enjoy the owner's son and the widow making it as the pair brings sex and humor to a fun tale.

Emma Lang
Kensington Brava
9780758269041, $14.00

In 1836 in the Republic of Texas, twenty-five years old Matthew Graham, accompanied by six of his seven siblings, goes to town for supplies. On the way back to the six hundred acre family cattle ranch, he sees a fire. They arrive at their homestead to find their parents dead and their five year old youngest brother Benjy missing.

Two months later, Olivia tells Matt he needs to complete their dad's dream of claiming the four thousand acres the Republic is offering. Although afraid to do so, he agrees and heads to Houston to file, but needs a wife in thirty days to keep the new land as he lied on the application. Matt stays at a boardinghouse run by Hannah Foley and her Granny. He proposes and though they are strangers the plain Hannah accepts Matt's marriage of convenience. However, neither anticipated love between them nor the attacks on them and their families over land.

The first Circle Eight historical romance is an entertaining Texas tale starring a strong cast as the title character and his stranger wife fall in love. The villain is in plain sight, but deftly insures someone else is targeted as the culprit. Action-packed, sub-genre readers will enjoy the first Graham entry and look forward to apparently the Taming of the Shrew's story next.

His Dark Bond
Anne Marsh
Kensington Brava
9780758266798, $14.00

Three thousand years ago, the revolt in Heaven by the fiercest warriors the Dominion led to Michael the archangel tossing them down to earth with their wings removed. The only way back to Heaven is if they bond with their specific soul mate. In 2090 the first bonding occurs.

In M City, Zer the leader of the Fallen knows Michael's lieutenant Cuthah is raising an army of the Fallen who have turned rogue. They also learn he has killed their soul mates for centuries. Currently Zer's number two Nael has a list of four names of alleged soul mates. On it is university Professor Nessa St. James who is studying genetics. Zer insures her funding and lab are shut down even as she is coming to identifying a thirteenth tribe of Israel lost in history. She turns to the Genecore Foundation for support, but Zer grabs her; she tells him to F off. He kills two rogues and takes her to his club. She is upset he killed two rogues, but he insists they came to drink her dry. Zer says she is a bond mate who will be matched to one of the Fallen; any of them except him.

The second Bond futuristic urban romantic fantasy (see Bond With me) is a terrific thriller as the concept of a bond mate saving a fallen angel is cleverly developed making along with the genetic research the storyline feel plausible. The lead protagonists are a solid pairing of a leader and a scientist both in denial. Although the villain proves weak and futuristic dystopian Moscow underdeveloped, fans will enjoy Anne Marsh's second bonding tale.

Alyssa Goodnight
9780758267436, $15.00

In Austin engineer Nicola James loves anything Austen. While browsing in a quirky shop, Nic finds a blank antique journal amidst the Austen collection. She spills tea on the journal so under the you break it you bought it rule, she pays for the damaged item.

Nic begins writing entries starting with a co-worker's wedding that she will attend without an escort. When she opens her journal to write a new entry, she finds her wedding comment changed to only a few pearls of wisdom. Stunned Nic concludes her journal has magical skills to provide her with "Fairy Jane" relationship advice that implies she needs to throw out as garbage her life plan in order to take a chance on Sean who does not fit the Nic plan but is perfect in accordance with the Fairy Jane plan (and Nic's heart).

This is an entertaining fresh take on the ever expanding Austen mythos. Nic is a super protagonist who holds the amusing, profound storyline focused. Although the tale starts slow, once Fairy Jane gives Nic her marching orders, Austentatious goes into hyperspeed as Alyssa Goodnight provides an enjoyable contemporary Austen.

A Catered St. Patrick's Day
Isis Crawford
9780758247407, $24.00

In Longely, New York, sisters Bernie and Libby Simmons, owners of A Little Taste of Heaven catering business, prepare for the festive. Patrick's Day holiday. Their baking is interrupted when a frantic Brandon, Bernie's boyfriend, calls to beg them immediately come to RJ's bar, which he runs. The siblings drop what they are doing to race over to calm down a distraught Brandon.

At the bar, Brandon shows the sisters the corpse of Mike Sweeney floating dead in a keg of green beer. Mike and his Corned Beef and Cabbage Club comrades had met earlier at RJ's. Bar owner Mulroney insists an accident should not deter business on a busy holiday. Although it appears to be a tragic accident caused by intoxication, the police chief Lucas "Lucy" (detractors' nickname) Broadbent arrests Corned Beef and Cabbage Club member Duncan, nephew of realtor Bree Nottingham two weeks later. Bree knows that Bernie and Libby have solved murder cases (see A Catered Thanksgiving) so she asks the bakers to investigate.

The latest Mystery with recipes is a wonderful holiday culinary amateur sleuth (see A Catered Birthday Party and A Catered Halloween). The lead sisters and their dad Sean focus on the club membership but soon expand their inquiry. Fans will enjoy this family affair cozy that once again angers Lucy who is tired of the sleuth sisters solving homicides that leave him embarrassed.

Under Attack
Hannah Jayne
9780758258939, $7.99

Underworld Detection Agency executive assistant Sophie Lawson knows her beat the streets (and underground) of San Francisco is renowned for the "undead, the mostly dead and the back from the dead" clients. Sophie has no magic except she is a rare human immune to magic. Thus she is a top agent assisting the paranormal who live in the city though she knows new manager Dixon Andrade might fire the only human in the UDA San Francisco office.

After work and an impossible stain, Sophie goes home looking forward to a tub. However fallen angel Alex Grace arrives demanding her help. Sophie knows he was de-winged and thrown out of heaven for being a hemorrhoid bringer. He seeks the Vessel of Souls, which has the ability to return his wings to him. His fallen peers also search for the artifact while suddenly murders have gripped the city in a way that has even immortal demons and other dead so frightened of a second chance at death they shake like they are caught in the epicenter of an earthquake.

The second UDA Chronicles -SF urban fantasy (see Under Wraps) cleverly combines a strong magical whodunit with satirical insight into society. For instance Sophie considers a formal complaint if pink-slipped due to being an NT, and the Vampire Empowerment and Restoration Movement protests Hollywood inhumane and inaccurate portrayal. Fans will laugh at the bureaucracy and the bathroom humor while Sophie works with Alex, but distrusts the charmer who always has a ploy. Hannah Jayne makes demons, vampires, and other paranormal seem normal as Sophie is the abnormal.

A Summer in Europe
Marilyn Brant
9780758261519, $15.00

Her two younger brothers called respectively from Atlanta and Seattle to wish the old lady Gwendolyn Reese a happy thirtieth birthday. She expects at lunch, her boyfriend Richard to propose, but when he does not she is very disappointed. Later that day, she joins her aunt for dinner with Bea's S&M club. Bea gifts her niece with a month long vacation in Europe with her club to get her relative out of a rut. Gwen is unsure thirty days playing Sudoku and mah-jongg will be fun, but goes on the trip figuring she can delete from her to do list the great sites of London and the mainland.

Gwen meets the Edwards brothers, Thoreau and Emerson. The latter introduces her to the best of the continent, but though attracted to the charismatic sibling, Gwen has Richard back in Iowa overlooking the muddy Mississippi. However, Richard rushes to England with a plan to save his relationship.

The strong cast (including European locations) provides an engaging coming of age contemporary tale. Character driven, readers will feel they are on tour with the S&M club enjoying the sights and the antics of Thoreau and especially Emerson. With homage to Andrew Lloyd Webber, E. M. Forester, and physics; Marilyn Brant writes an engaging tale of a woman who starts off chronologically as thirty, intellectually middle aged and experimentally a young teen.

The Gilder
Kathryn Kay
9780758263223, $15.00

In 1977, Marina Nesmith goes to Florence, Italy to study the art of gilding. Egotistical American photographer Thomas and his wife Sarah befriend and mentor the twenty two year old American. Marina is especially close to beloved Sarah. However, one night sends Marina with remorse and guilt fleeing back to her hometown in upstate New York.

In 1993 highly respected art restorer Marina is invited back to Florence. She loved the city and would like to return, but her one indiscretion makes her wary. At the same time the gilder considers what she should do; her fifteen years old daughter Zoe pressures her with a need know and meet her father. Marina has spent a decade and a half concealing who he is with fabrications of who sired Zoe.

This is an engaging extremely complicated relationship drama that deftly uses mostly Marina's flashbacks to tell what happened in 1977. Marina is a fascinating protagonist who keeps the story line focused in both decades. A morality tale that argues people
are better off when we are honest with ourselves and those you love, fans will appreciate the profound story of the Gilder.

Blood of Eden
Tami Dane
9780758267092, $7.99

In Baltimore, twentyish FBI intern agent Sloan Skye is assigned to the newly formed Paranormal Behavioral Analysis Unit. She has no idea that the human Resources Division erred but PBAU chief Alice Peyton takes her on her scorned X-Files-like cell.

Peyton calls for a team meeting attended by Agents Jordan Thomas, Chad Fletcher and Brittany Hough, and Sloan. Baltimore PD asked for assistance with a murder in which the suspect appears to be a vampire. Although her late father the professor insisted vampires were real, Sloan does not believe even when her team assumes she is an expert due to being a chip off the paternal block. While she and her teammates work the case, Sloan, ignoring her mother's zillion calls to her cell, is attracted to Jordan.

This is an engaging police procedural paranormal starring a likable heroine. The fast-paced story line engages the reader although the investigation is more Noir than urban fantasy. Still with a touch of romance in the air and some comedic relief, fans will enjoy Tami Dane's Baltimore murder mystery.

No Limits
Jenna McCormick
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758272850, $14.00

In New York, Genevieve Luzon wants someone to love her. Yes she is the "owner of a lonely heart" and needs money to remain in the city having been let go at her job. Her roommate arranges for her to go out with a male escort at Illustra. She learns who manages the escort service and obtains a position as an undercover under the cover mystery shopper testing the male prostitutes.

Gen's first training session leads her to Rhys, an empath with a mission to save his people and those of earth from invaders, She soon finds two of her escorts in lust with each other and the third Marshall exciting but enigmatic. Gen learns why when Rhys, needing a body until he regains his own, takes control of that of Marshall an enemy advance operative. Finding love, Gen plans to be with her Rhys though she is sure his mission is most likely ending with their deaths.

No Limits is an enjoyable erotic science fiction romance as long as the audience puts aside the plausibility meter; Rhys especially is over the top of Olympus Mons. Fast-paced and loaded with sex, sex and sex throughout, fans who relish a fun odd thriller will want to read the erotic adventures of the empath and the human.

Sugar Rush
Donna Kauffman
Kensington Brava
9780758266347, $14.00

After over a decade of blood, sweat and tears Leilani Trusdale leaves New York City and chef Baxter "Hot Cakes" Dunne pastry shop to open a cupcake shop in her father's hometown of Sugarberry Island, Georgia. Baxter, who gave the running of his pastry shop to Lei while he became a popular TV chef, announces he will do a show on Sugarberry Island. Her BFF Charlotte warns her that his arrival on her turf will be The News.

Chef Hot Cakes arrives at the barrier island announcing on the air that he will do a show in her new shop. He conceals his secret recipe of winning the heart of his former student and assistant. Lei feels the tension of her former boss who she loves, but turns to advice from Charlotte and the sugar members of the Cupcake Club as the heat is in the kitchen.

The first Cupcake Club romance is much more complicated than a Sweet Stuff pastry as the cast is strong especially in the kitchen. The lead chefs are a nice pairing of a bantering couple in love with each other and with their vocation as their relationship matches types of pastry. With a nod to the movies Mostly Martha and No Reservations, fans will enjoy this engaging much more than a Sugar Rush contemporary culinary romance.

Yours, Unexpectedly
Susan Fox
Kensington Brava
9780758259318, $14.00

Merilee and Matt have been an entry since they were small children. In fact she was seven years old when she planned her wedding to reliable Matt. Everyone expects them to exchange I do shortly. However, Merilee has doubts as she watches her three Fallon sisters find passionate love (see Love, Unexpectedly; His, Unexpectedly; and Yours, Unexpectedly). She envies what her beloved siblings have found and wants the same; but believes her dependable long time boyfriend takes her for granted and ergo is incapable of romancing her.

Merilee ends their engagement. Matt refuses to give up on marrying the woman he has loved for years. He persuades her they should go on their honeymoon cruise not as a married couple but as buddies. His hidden agenda is to court the woman he believes still loves him as much as he loves her.

This is an engaging second chance romance with the premise of never take for granted critical relationships. The fascinating lead couple seems to have no issues until Merilee observes her sisters' heated love. Readers will enjoy this lighthearted frolic that sails the expected course of love.

The Danger of Desire
Elizabeth Essex
Kensington Brava
9780758251589, $14.00

In 1799 in London, the Admiralty assigns injured Captain Hugh McAlden to uncover the identity of a traitor. He observes a female adeptly pick pockets and wonders if she could be his undercover agent posing as a servant inside the home of the suspected traitor.

Hugh offers Meggs a deal of amnesty and money; which she accepts as this will enable her to attain her dream of returning to the countryside with her brother. She completes the mission obtaining the evidence though one seditious operative escapes. Meggs falls in love with her handler while his mother teachers her how to be a lady; likewise Hugh falls in love with his thief. At a Christmas gala, Meggs' abandonment explodes into the open just before the remaining free traitor abducts her. Hugh risks his life to rescue his beloved Meggs.

This is an engaging Georgian romance (see The Pursuit of Pleasure) between two unlikely protagonists. Fast-paced from the early point when Hugh admires Meggs' felonious skills until his final rescue attempts, although the climax feels abrupt. Still fans will enjoy this exciting historical with its loose nod to George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion.

Scrapbooks of Secrets
Mollie Cox Bryan
9780758266316 $7.99

Her very active sons, Ben and Sam, led to Annie Chemovitz quitting her job as an investigative reporter at a Washington paper with the support of her husband Mike. The Chemovitz quartet relocates to Cumberland Creek, Virginia where she becomes a stay-at-home mom. The town's southern friendly residents make Annie feel good about their choices although she misses the excitement of her previous occupation. She especially likes spending time with a group of scrapbookers.

The rustic tranquility of the town is shattered with the death of Maggie Rae Dasher, a mother of four small children and a closet scrapbooker in what looks like a suicide, but the evidence affirms a homicide occurred. That same day at the supermarket, someone puts a knife into the neck of the mother of scrapbooker Vera; the woman does not even feel the blade, but is rushed to the hospital where a doctor removes the protruding weapon. Annie and her crop circle scrapbookers find pictures and other mementos belonging to Maggie Rae dumped outside the victim's home, they take their find with them. The group realizes Maggie Rae was into S&M with secret lovers. One of them is likely the killer so Annie dusting off her previous investigative skills looks into the murder of the mother.

Cozy fans are going to love this fast-paced Cumberland Creek Mystery due to strong characterizations that bring a sense of place to the entertaining storyline. Although the cops' failure to find the Maggie Rae mother lode seems off, rotating third person perspective between three scrappy scrapsters, Mollie Cox Bryan provides an engaging regional whodunit. This new series look to be spectacular.

The Map And The Territory
Michel Houellebecq
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307701558, $26.95,

Jed Martin started off as a photographer of industrial artifacts. He turned to taking pictures of Michelin Road maps that became successful as his detached from nature mantra is "The map is more interesting than the territory;" this show brings him Olga in Paris.

The photographer switches to portrait painting focusing on a variety of occupations. He paints his elderly father the retired architect, a bar owner, a duality of Gates and Jobs, and a French author Houellebecq. However as Martin gains fame and fortune, his work is well received as an aloof artist focusing on the captains of capitalism. Over the decades Martin grows increasingly isolated from the world he draws.

With a nod to Voltaire's Candide, this amusing but dark allegorical biographical fiction satirizes the belief that capitalism is a superior culture in which the market insures "everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds." Timely on several philosophical levels, readers will relish Martin's sojourn as an artist in a capitalistic culture that encourages the individual to seek unconnected betterment at the cost of other members of society; as Martin's dad says about capitalist morality, the creator is a hell of a good best-selling author.

Death Comes to Pemberley
P. D. James
9780307959850, $25.95

In 1803, Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet remain happily married after six years at Pemberley. They have two young sons (Fitzwilliam and Charles); her only unmarried sister Georgiana resides with them though her marital prospects look promising. The couple hosts their annual gala with his family, her father and another Bennet sibling Jane with her husband attending as well as other guests. Only the youngest sister Lydia, married to that rogue Wickham, is unwelcome and uninvited as she remains estranged from the extended Bennet family who want nothing to do with her rascal husband.

As the host family and their guests settle for the night, Lydia arrives at Pemberley hysterically screaming that someone shot and killed Wickham in the woods on the Bennet estate. Almost everyone at Pemberley think the same thought that Wickham in death is the same despicable person he was in life as each feels an affinity to the unknown shooter. Still because it occurred on the Bennet estate even if the victim was trespassing, Darcy, Elizabeth and others consider their options to diminish the scandal including investigating the deserved murder of wicked Wickham though none feel prepared to do so.

This is an interesting sequel to the Jane Austen classic as mystery great P.D. James puts her spin on what has happened since Pride and Prejudice ended. The story line focuses on two themes that never quite fully merges Sheridan's A School For Scandal manners theme with a murder mystery inside the Austen Regency world. Still this is a fun entertaining Regency whodunit in which Janeites will enjoy Ms. James' where are they now as she captures the original essences of the cast with a six year maturation.

The Leopard
Jo Nesbo
9780307595874, $26.95

Following the harrowing serial killer case of The Snowman, Oslo Police Inspector Harry Hole fled to Hong Kong suffering from PTSD made worse by his debt. However, back home in Norway, two women are found dead with no apparent connection except each received multiple needle wounds inside their mouths and eyes reaching the brain. Oslo Homicide Detective Kaja Solness travels to Hong Kong to bring home the serial killer expert Hole who has the notorious reputation for thinking like a sadistic psychopath thanks to his success. He has a second reason to return to Norway as his father has been hospitalized.

Although preferring to breath in the smog form China and smoke opium to dull his brain, reluctantly Hole goes back to Oslo to visit his dad and investigate the murders. The case officially goes serial when a politician is killed though that death initially looked like a suicide. Not remotely recovered from the Snowman, Hole finds clues to odious trafficking in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The latest Hole police procedural has the damaged cop working another mentally debilitation serial killer case. As always in a Hole homicide, Jo Nesbo deftly incorporates within the framework of the mystery scathing look at acceptable societal values. However what makes the Hole thrillers one of the best of the Scandinavian noir is that hooked readers believe the bad guy might win the deadly chess match.

Tribulations of the Short Cut Man
P.G. Sturges
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781439194218, $24.00,

Thirtyish pole dancer Pussy Grace wonders why her boyfriend, wealthy septuagenarian Art Lewis cut her off without telling her; he refuses to accept her attempts to communicate with him. Pussy asks her former boyfriend Dick Henry to help her. Although he prefers to stay out of a domestic dispute as he works a similar case for a paying client, former Judge Harry Glidden turned TV celebrity commissioned a forged painting to give to his Honor's acrimonious ex-wife.

Dick agrees to help her with her quest. He believes in taking the shortest route to a goal even though his paths often are illegal. This time The Shortcut Man and Puss dress up as gas company employees allegedly investigating a leak. This gains them entry to Lewis' mansion, but they flee the scene when they find the murdered corpse of Art. Dick expects the LAPD cops to arrest him and Puss, but instead the news broadcasts that Art Lewis married and is on his honeymoon. Realizing Glidden and his girlfriend are pulling a scam to steal Lewis' millions, Dick decides to intervene.

The super second Shortcut Man noir is a wild jocular ride into the sleaziest sections of Los Angeles; not all of the neighborhoods are in the Hood. Putting aside plausibility, P.G. Sturges provides a wonderful madcap thriller starring a hard boiled individual who plays all the angles including breaking the law (what's a misdemeanor amongst friends) as he understands the shortest distance between two points is not necessarily a straight line as linearity can be deadly. Dick makes the tale work with his un-Sullivan like travels through the meanest streets of L.A.

Anne Holt
9781451634716, $25.00

In 2007, the train was traveling from Oslo to Bergen in Northern Norway when a meteorological phenomenon caused a derailment 1222 meters above sea level. Of the 269 people on board, only the driver died. Among the survivors is retired police detective Hanne Wilhelmsen wearing only a T-shirt and holding someone else's baby. Hanne is wheelchair bound thanks to a bullet in her spine since 2002 and now has a ski pole sticking through her leg though she has bled a lot she feels no pain there. She and others are brought to the almost empty Finse Hotel awaiting further rescue.

Taking charge Geir Rugholmen learns from Dr. Magnus Streng that Hanne was a cop for two decades. Geir asks cantankerous Hanne to investigate the shooting murder of Father Cato hammer, the football priest. As the blizzard worsens, Hanne, with the help of an equally cantankerous teen, investigates the locked hotel homicide with 194 suspects not counting herself staying at the mountain resort; her case soon turns serial with more murders.

1222 is a super locked room whodunit with a fabulous late spin. Hanne turns the mystery into an entertaining Norwegian Noir with her acerbic personality and her fascinating use of statistics. Readers will appreciate this taut thriller as panic has become the norm amongst those trapped in the Finse.

Vengeance Born
Kylie Griffin
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10014
9780425245261, $15.00,

Tormented Annika the Na'Chi hybrid daughter of the Na'Reish demon chief loathes her sire and his minions as her brutish father constantly with glee reminds her she is a Vengeance Born product of revenge. A healer, she dreams of escaping her torturous life but none of the human blood slaves have ever escaped from the demon realm and lived to tell the story.

The Na'Reish Horde has increased their invasions and abductions in the human realm. Kalan the Lady's Chosen leader of the Light Blade defends humankind against the demons; he fears his side is losing a war of attrition as his warriors are shrinking in numbers and those still at combat aging. He argues with the Council that radical changes must be implemented now or the demons will soon overwhelm the human realm. When the enemy captures him, a despondent Kalan despairs the massacre is imminent. However, new hope arises when Annika, who he distrusts, offers to free him if he takes her into his realm. Distrusting her new ally but with no turning back as Annika knows her sire branded her for death.

The first Light Blade romantic fantasy is a terrific thriller as the endless war between demon and humans is reaching a critical survival stage for the latter. The lead couple is a strong pairing while the support cast, especially the Na'Chi, the warriors and the Council, enhance the internal squabble in the human realm. With an insightful look at racial intolerance in a time of long-term constant combat and security alert, fans will enjoy Vengeance Born.

Not Wicked Enough
Carolyn Jewel
9780425246603, $7.99

In 1816 in Bittersweet, England intelligent and affluent Lily Wellstone comes to Mountjoy to comfort her best friend Ginny whose husband just died. On her journey, a Gypsy gives her a medallion claiming this will lead her to romance with a stranger. Arriving late at night in the rain, she meets Ginny's brother the Duke of Mountjoy who toiled as a farmer all his life until recently he inherited the title and estate following a string of deaths.

Mountjoy takes his new position extremely serious. So his attraction to the perky playful visitor shocks him especially with her flirting. However, instead of writing her off as an aristocratic fluff, Mountjoy observes his guest is kind towards Ginny and loves the library, her favorite room. As they begin to fall in love, each wonders whether it is real or Gypsy medallion magic.

This Reforming the Scoundrels historical is an engaging Regency romance though neither protagonist could be labeled "scoundrel". The character driven somewhat thin storyline is fast-paced, filled with passion and a touch of the whimsical as the lead couple each wonders what true love is.

Buried In A Book
Lucy Arlington
9780425246191, $7.99

After twenty years as a Features reporter at the Dunstan Herald, forty-five year old Lila Wilkins is pink slipped due to budget cuts. In a near panic state, the single mom worries about paying for her son Trey entering UNC Wilmington as a freshman. Desperate she answers an ad for an intern at A Novel Idea Literary Agency. Following a five minute telephone interview, Ms. Bentley Burlington-Duke hires Lila who thinks her new job will prove perfect as being paid to read sounds like nirvana.

Reality of an office setting is not quite like Lila expected as her peers are an eccentric zany group and the tons of query letters requiring responses appears to be more than Santa receives for Christmas. She classifies her first two queries, but is taken aback by a threatening letter demanding the return of a manuscript. However, all that proves to be minor distractions compared to the visit of homeless wannabe writer Marlette who gives her wild flowers; because a few minutes after he introduces himself to her she meets him again in the coffee area dead. With Trey and her mom having her back, Lila and Sean the sexy cop investigate Marlette's murder and the threatening letters.

This is a terrific Novel Idea Mystery with its contemporary literary crowd mingling with residents of a small North Carolina town. The charming protagonist keeps the madcap plot focused while the quirky support cast enhances the regional cozy. Readers will enjoy being Buried In A Book in which Lila stars as Lucy Arlington provides an entertaining thriller.

The Walled Flower
Lorraine Bartlett
9780425246160, $7.99

Near Rochester, New York in McKinlay Mill, without discussing it with his wife Katie, Chad Bonner bought ownership of the Artisans Alley craft fare. Soon afterward he died in a car crash leaving her stuck with a money guzzler and the death of her dream to renovate the Webster mansion into a B&B (see A Crafty Killing).

Katie visits Toby and Janice Ryan, who now own "her" mansion, which they are converting into a B&B. She asks if she can use their sledgehammer to smash a wall, which the couple agree to let her do. When Katie opens up a wall, they find female remains. Detective Ray Davenport leads the investigation into who buried Heather Winston inside that wall twenty-two years ago. However, Heather's only living relative, septuagenarian Rose Nash pleads with Katie to help her solve the truth as both ladies know cantankerous Davenport will do nothing. Moving in ten days with no place to go to yet, seeing her boyfriend Andy Rust the pizza king sporadically and trying to be supportive matron of honor to bridezilla, Katie agrees to investigate.

This is an entertaining regional cozy as Katie and Rose work a cold case (Davenport led the missing person's inquiry over two decades ago) that turns contemporary deadly with the murder of Heather's childhood BFF Barbie. Although there is too much going on from the Artisans Alley disputes and friendships to the bride's demands to the interesting romance and finally to the homicide with links to Hollywood, fans will still take pleasure with the second Victoria Square mystery as agreeable Katie who never says no never sleeps.

File M for Murder
Miranda James
9780425246184, $7.99

Renowned playwright Connor Lawton returns home to Athena, Mississippi to teach for two semesters as a writer in residence at Athena College. He is an acerbic individual whose boorish behavior angers school archivist and rare book cataloguer widower Charlie Harris. However, Connor helped bring home Charlie's daughter Laura, a Hollywood actress, who teaches drama while the professor is on maternity leave.

Connor makes it clear he wants his former fiancee Laura back in his life while another female Damitra Vane makes it clear she wants him back in her life. After alienating everyone including Diesel the Maine coon cat, someone murders Connor. Athena County's Sheriff Department Chief Deputy Berry investigates the homicide. Laura is a prime suspect as she found the corpse and stole a thumb drive from the crime scene. With her brother Sean, her father and the cat trying to protect her from an adversary's dangerous assaults, the clues to the author's murder lies on the thumb drive, if the Harris family can figure what they mean.

The latest A Cat In The Stacks mystery (see Murder Past Due) is an engaging regional cozy in which the murder occurs off page about a quarter of the way into the whodunit. The leisurely paced storyline is fun to follow as someone wants to insure that the secret that Connor uncovered remains interred with him. Mindful of Alexander McCall Smith's Corduroy Mansions though a different setting, fans will enjoy this tale of the Harris family that sleuths together stays together.

Dust of the Damned
Peter Brandvold
9780425245170, $15.00

To preserve the Union, President Abraham Lincoln recruits European werewolves and vampires to fight against the Confederacy. His plan was to rip out the hearts of the rebels at Gettysburg and then send the paranormal back to East European homes. However, the paranormal unit achieves step one tearing the guts out of the Rebel army as Lee chooses a silver bullet rather than conversion and Lincoln after seeing what he wrought followed suit; the illegal immigrants ignore part two of the late president's plan.

Instead of re-crossing the Atlantic, the Hell's Angels werewolf brigade escape from Hellsgarde Penitentiary heeding Greely and head west young beast. Alpha shape-changer Charlie Hondo leads the howling pack partnering with dragon-riding Ravenna the witch as they search for the key to the eternal fountain of youth and world domination. Bounty ghoul hunter Uriah Zane and deputy marshal Angel Coffin lead the opposition.

This paranormal alternate historical thriller is a gory action-packed tale summed up nicely by Jesse James when he insists Zane is a trouble magnet. Although the story line never veers from its straight-lined bloody but fast-paced course from the first massacre to the final confrontation. Fans will enjoy the heroes in combat against deadly werewolves, vampires and witches, Oh! My! as the Dust of the Damned seek manifest destiny.

Old Haunts
E.J. Cooperman
9780425246207, $7.99

Following her divorce from her husband Steven Randall, who she called the "Swine", Alison Kerby and their ten year old daughter Melissa move to 123 Seafront Avenue. Rumors abound that this Jersey Shore place is haunted but Alison ignores them until after she and her offspring occupy the house.

Confined to her new residence are two sad ghosts, Maxie and Paul. The former wants to know who murdered her ex husband; and the latter misses his beloved. The two living females and Melissa's grandmother can see the spirits as they are ghost whisperers. Paul asks Alison to learn how the woman he was about to propose to when he died is doing; Maxie pleads with her to find out who murdered her husband of four days Robert. His bones are uncovered at Seaside Heights after being interred for years. Meanwhile the Swine arrives to visit his daughter; Alison knows the pig has an ulterior motive so expects crap. Meanwhile the police arrest Maxie's mother for the murder of Robert; the grieving ghost asks Alison to uncover the real killer.

The third Haunted Guesthouse paranormal mystery (see An Uninvited Ghost and Night of the Living Deed) is an entertaining and spellbinding tale in which the ghosts come across as real as each brings melancholy and humor. Alison is overwhelmed with so many in need of her help; she tries to her best though at the moment in her personal life she would prefer peace, which ironically the living Swine is the one to nuke it. Readers will enjoy Old Haunts as the supermom relocates, raises her daughter and handles the requests of her ghostly tenants while wishing a live-buster would lock the swine in a pen on the West Coast.

Plan Bee
Hannah Reed
9780425246214, $7.99

Residents of Moraine, Wisconsin's enjoy the annual Harmony Festival. Meanwhile Wild Glover grocer Story Fischer would do too but she receives another lecture from her mom re her beehives. Her sister Holly says the bees have turned her into talking in text language; Story thinks this is the usual Fischer family blame lame game until her sibling says JK.

"Pity Party" Patti and Dinky the dog lead Story to the Church Cemetery. There she finds a corpse. Story calls the police; Johnny Jay arrives but the corpse is gone as if it got up and walked away. Patti and Story search for the body. The former notices activity inside the home of Story's ex-husband Clay. They meet a weekend renter. Soon afterward they find him stuffed in the chimney; the dead victim is the estranged brother of Tom Stocke, the boyfriend of Story's mom.

The latest Queen Bee Mystery (see Mind Your Own Beeswax and Buzz Off) is an entertaining amateur sleuth mystery starring a fascinating protagonist whose amusing asides about family and friends make for a jocular small-town tale. The breezy story line follows the adventures of Patti and Story, who investigate the homicide as neither trusts incompetent JJ with a bee up his butt. Although an amateur sleuth tripping over a body is a sub-genre overused staple, fans will enjoy the dynamic duo work Plan Bee in the case of the murdered sibling.

Breach of Trust
David Ellis
9780425245866, $9.99

The night of infamy in 2007 left former Chicago prosecutor Jason Kolarich no better than a living corpse. Working for his client State Senator Hector Alundo charged with killing Adalbert Wozniak; Shaker, Riley and Flemming firm attorney Kolarich had been with private investor Joel Lightner that night. They were meeting with informant Ernesto Ramirez when his wife Talia and their newborn daughter Emily died in a car accident in which he failed to be there for them. Ironically, Ramirez also died that night; though he was a murder victim.

Feeling guilt for choosing his client over his family, Kolarich decides to investigate the homicide of the informant. As he digs deeper into the muddy case that ties state politicians with gangbangers, the FBI recruits him to help them investigate the governor as ironically he is now the informant.

The super second Jason Kolarich political thriller (see The Hidden Man) is a terrific timely tale with the recent sentencing of Blagojevich bringing the authenticity to the mix. Fast-paced in and out of the courtroom, Kolarich makes the taut storyline work as he swims in political toxic waste.

The Departed
Shiloh Walker
9780425245217, $15.00

For fifteen years, psychopath Keaton Weiss preyed on lonely females who he kidnapped and then sadistically tortured them in his house of horrors before murdering his victims. That changed when Tawny Lawrence a mother incarcerated for seven years by the maniac escaped. Obsessed FBI Special Agent In Charge of a unique unit Taylor Jones arrests Weiss before escorting his psychic Desiree "Dez" Lincoln in to the torture chamber. She takes him to a field of horror in Iowa.

In Virginia, Taylor, thanks to Dez, traps young girl rapist and murderer Edward Mitchell, but the predator fires a shot that hits the psychic. As she is rushed to the hospital, Taylor realizes how much he cares for his employee. After she heals, they make love, but he believes this was an inappropriate mistake. Hurt by his attitude, Dez heads to French Lick, Indiana alone to help a dismayed spirit; Taylor follows her to his hometown where his then six years old kid sister Anna vanished so long ago, but still drives him to help the unprotected.

The Departed is an entertaining romantic urban fantasy police procedural. The storyline is fast-paced, but as Shiloh Walker admits in the forward requires acceptability of the special FBI cell. The cases are fun to follow but accelerate even faster once the lead couple enters Larry Bird territory. Readers will enjoy this exciting paranormal FBI romance.

A Promise of Safekeeping
Lisa Dale
9780425245149, $15.00

Almost a decade ago in Albany, New York, Lauren Matthews prosecuted the successful conviction of Arlen Fieldstone on a murder rap. For the next nine years Arlen insisted he was innocent, but no one believed him except perhaps his closest loyal friend Will Farris the antiques collector.

Now Arlen has been exonerated and freed. In Richmond, Will worries about his buddy who is not the same person who was unjustly incarcerated; he fears his friend is now capable of homicide which he felt a decade ago he was not. Additionally, Arlen's Eula remains in the house they bought together wanting nothing to do with him. Lauren arrives in Richmond to apologize to Arlen and asks him to forgive her for taking away nine years of his life. However, to get to Arlen who lives above Will's store in the Carytown section, she must get through his protector Farris, who refuses to allow neighbors who believe he is the "Infamous Innocent" killer or the vicious female he saw in court harm his fragile friend.

A Promise of Safekeeping is a well written character driven tale of four troubled people seeking different forms of redemption and each wondering what truth is this concept is relative to the individual's thought processes. Although the attraction between Will and Lauren adds tension, this subplot feels unnecessary as the effect on the quartet of the nine years behind bars is what makes this an insightful thriller. Filled with angst and body language reading lessons, fans will enjoy this engaging tale of four people requiring diverse needs to close the past and begin to move on.

Pamela Clare
9780425245811, $7.99

In 1757 Frenchwoman Amalie Chauvenet becomes an orphan due to a daring raid by the notorious British militia MacKinnon's Rangers near Fort Ticonderoga. However, the legendary Morgan MacKinnon is injured in the battle and captured by his enemy, the French and their Indian allies the Abenaki.

Amalie who loathes MacKinnon, sight unseen, is shocked when she is assigned to nurse him back to health especially since Brigadier de Bourlamaque plans to allow his Abenaki friends to torture Morgan. Even more stunning to the gentle Frenchwoman is he is far from the brutal berserker she expected; instead he is grateful for her care and remorseful for killing her kin. Morgan is attracted to Amalie, but pretends to switch allegiance from the English to the French. When Amalie realizes he lied, she wants nothing to do with him; instead she is married to him. Before they can figure out what to do next, Morgan and Amalie are on the run with the French, the English, the Indians and his two brothers in pursuit.

This reprint of the second Mackinnon French and Indian war romance (see SURRENDER) is a great tale due to the interweaving of historical tidbits into the story line including the fact that some of the colonists already resented the English military almost two decades before the Revolution. The story line is action-paced but owned by the fleeing lead couple and the historical backdrop that makes this clearly must reading for Colonial America romance fans.

Tempted Again
Cathie Linz
9780425244548, $7.99

Over a decade ago Marissa Bennett left Hopeful, Ohio to attend Ohio State rather than the hometown Midwest College where her dad is a history professor. Following a nasty divorce and the loss of her job, Marissa heeds her manta to find shelter when things go wrong. Shelter has always been Hopeful so in need of R&R, she returns home as the librarian.

However, she receives quite a home greeting when she drives her rusty VW Bug in the Founders Day Parade. Former Chicago cop and current town Sheriff Connor Doyle-walks up to her vehicle and turns off her car. She recognizes the man who took her virginity when they were teens, but he fails to realize who the New York license identifies as Marissa Johnson is until her mom lectures him. Her hope for a bit of home haven is shattered as she is Tempted Again to make it with the bad boy but she fears her broken heart will never mend; he knows he wants a second time with her too.

This is a lighthearted second chance at love Buckeye romance. The townsfolk enhance the warm thin storyline by bringing alive Hopeful. However, this engaging frolic belongs to the lead couple as both are Tempted Again, but he must convince her that he has matured since they worked side by side at the pizza parlor.

Colorado Dawn
Kaki Warner
9780425245224, $15.00

In 1868 after six-years of a non-existing marriage to Scottish Cavalry Officer Angus Wallace in which she seen him once for a short visit and only three paltry and none recent letters, Madeline decides enough moping. She accepts a position as a photographer for the Illustrated London News. Editor Mr. Chesterfield assigns her to take pictures of the American West as he believes his readers will enjoy the distaff perspective.

After months of recovering from war injuries and becoming an earl as his family was decimated by illness, Angus returns home looking forward to being with his Maddie. However, he is shocked when he arrives to learn she is on the other side of the pond. Angus follows his wife's tail until he encounters her Heartbreak Creek Colorado. She orders her mate to go home as she refuses to accompany him. As he courts his spouse whom he neglected but loves, Angus also must keep her safe from deadly outlaws and amoral upright citizens with avarice agendas.

The latest Runaway Brides historical romance (see Heartbreak Creek) is a wonderful second chance at love Americana tale. The two Scottish aristocrats come across somewhat as fresh fish swimming in the ocean. Their loving antics in the forefront of a vivid post Civil War Colorado Territory tale turns into an exciting action-packed western romance.

Under The Same Sky
Genevieve Graham
9780425245231, $15.00

In 1746 Maggie Johnson and family struggles to eke out a living on the frontier of the Carolina Colony. Maggie has the ability of "the sight" ever since she was a child. Her visions predominately focus on the Wolf as she dubs the lad she has seen grows from a child to a ferocious warrior. She believes he is her destiny.

In his dreams, Andrew MacDonald has always seen and talked with a female who has grown from a young girl into a beautiful woman as he matured. He pledged as a child to find his dream. He believes she is his destiny.

Whereas Andrew fights on the side of Jacobite uprising, slavers capture Maggie and her family is killed. Indians rescue her and taker her to their camp to heal. Meanwhile having lost in Scotland, Andrew crosses the ocean in search of his beloved destiny.

Rotating perspective between Scotland and the Colonies, Under the Same Sky is an exciting eighteenth century paranormal romance starring two people who shares a dream of love though having never met outside of the nocturnal plane. The storyline is character driven with first hand accounts enabling the audience to see the visions while the third person viewpoints add action;
though the switching can be disruptive. Readers will relish the quest for true love.

All That Bleeds
Kimberly Frost
9780425245804, $7.99

The demonic slaughter occurs at the Arts & Innovation Benefit held at the House of North. Body guard Mr. Clark takes his charge, Alissa the last heiress muse to a safe location, but she insists they return to rescue the human hostages. He refuses saying unless the Etherlin Council president Dimitri Xanakis orders him to do so she will remain safe. Mr. Clark reminds her that the damned cannot resist the smell of the blood of a muse like she is. Furthermore he blames the ventala hybrid vampires for failing to kill the demon in Varden. Merrick the ventala arrives and easily kills Corthus the demon, who had slaughtered many. Over Mr. Clark's objection, Alissa thanks Merrick.

Five years later, Alissa and Merrick remain attracted to one another, but each knows that is taboo. However, everything changes when someone abducts the muse and removes her from the safety of the House. Merrick vows to use every tool in heaven, hell and earth to rescue the forbidden female he has loved since she bravely shook his hand after he killed Corthus.

The first Etherlin romantic fantasy is a terrific ultra dark (due to constant violence that lives up to the title as even demons bleed) thriller. The vivid story line is action-packed but it is the forbidden relationship between the muse and the ventala that is at the heart of Kimberley Frost's turn from the lighthearted frolics of the Southern Witch saga to this dark tale.

Gift of Magic
Lynn Kurland
9780425245200, $15.00

Not wanting to follow in the footsteps of his evil sire Gair, Ruithneadh of Ceangail hesitates becoming a mage. However, he has no choice but to undo what his notorious father wrought. Thus Ruith and dreamweaver Sarah of Doire, who uncannily can see the deadly spells on a map of sorts, follow the spell trail to destroy them though she believes someone purposely set this up to bring the pair to whoever this individual is.

As the pair find and destroy spells, other Nine Kingdom mages want control of Gair's legacy and will kill anyone, even innocent civilians, to obtain the enormous but dangerous power. Sarah and Ruith know failure is not an option as that would plunge the world into eternal darkness as each wonders what awaits them at the end of the enchanted trail.

The final tale in the latest Nine Kingdoms quest fantasy (see A Tapestry of Spells and Spellweaver) is a great finish to a strong trilogy. The exciting story line is fast-paced from the onset until the final confrontation against evil. Although readers will know who awaits the lead heroes at the end of the spell trail, it does not matter as Lynn Kurland spins another fabulous fantasy.

Bride by Mistake
Anne Gracie
9780425245798, $7.99

Nineteen years old espionage agent Luke Ripon is undercover in Spain. However, he is diverted from his assignment to rescue thirteen year old Isabella from an assault by a deserter. Luke escorts her to her cousin, but realizes he is no protector of the young teen as the odious relative "sold" her into a marriage. Instead, honor has Luke marrying Isabella and placing her inside a convent. When she turns twenty-one, Luke will annul their marriage on the grounds of abandonment so that the virgin can wed someone else.

Eight years later, Luke arrives to take his spouse to England where he plans to end their marriage while taking care of Isabella financially. However, she is no longer docile as she demonstrates she can use weapons and ride a horse. Isabella insists she will not leave Spain until her half-sister is safe. Winning the debate, the pair journey to her home on a trek of discovery of each other and love, but for him to remain married he must face his haunting past; she is willing to help her beloved.

Although mistitled as the hero had an honorable motive to marry Isabella, fans will enjoy their renewed relationship. The female protagonist has matured into an independent person and Luke suffers from PTSD. The lead characters with a solid support cast propel the fast-paced Regency romance as love blooms during their second encounter but first real chance together.

Carly Phillips
9780425245743, $7.99

In Serendipity, New York, Nash Barron attends the wedding of his older brother Ethan to Faith (see Serendipity). He knows he remains angry with his sibling for dumping him and their younger brother Dare into the foster care system ten years ago. Dare the cop forgave Ethan but Nash has not. He is also upset with Kelly Moss who brought her teenage half-sister Tess to Serendipity to live with the youngster's older half-brothers. Part of his ire with Kelly is his attraction to her, which she ignores and he must ignore for Tess' sake. Finally Nash cannot comprehend why his wife left him as he muses why loved ones leave him.

Kelly wants Nash, frown and all, but refuses to act on her feelings as Tess's needs come first. Still she would not mind some fun with the perpetual frowner though she also fears her scandal will see the light of day leading to his loathing her.

The second Serendipity contemporary romance is an engaging tale starring a fully developed lead pair and a strong support cast mostly the extended family. The straight-lined plot follows the expected course, but the hot-blooded relationship between the two degrees of separation is a fun tale as Nash and Kelly feel like Destiny's darlings (not).

Whisperers In the Dark
Maya Banks
9780425246108, $7.99

Although telepath Shea Peterson knows the risk she takes she cannot stop herself from whispering to torture victim US Army soldier Nathan Kelly incarcerated in an airless box. Although Nathan thought he mentally broke down, the voice in his head enables him to escape. Shea knows by her telepathically calling to him, she and gifted sister Grace must flee.

Nathan tries to explain his escape to his family and the Kelly Group International paramilitary, but none of it makes sense to him or them. He also admits he admires his not fragile sister-in-law Rachel who survived a greater and longer ordeal than his (see Hidden Away) and misses the whisperer's gentle voice. Several months later, the voice returns but sounds desperate. Shea never lost her telepathic link to Nathan and pleads with him to rescue her and her sibling from kidnappers who plan to exploit their paranormal skills.

The latest KGI romantic suspense (see No Place to Run) is a superb fresh thriller with the spin into telepathy. That extrasensory element works as readers believe in the bond of heart and mind between the lead pair. Fans will enjoy the Whisperers In the Dark while looking forward to learning more what the Peterson sisters can do.

A Warrior's Desire
Pamela Palmer
Harlequin Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373618774, $5.50,

Due to a coup that removed the Queen of Esria from the throne, the Esri breach the wall into the human plane where one touch by the outsiders leads to the enslaving of the natives. Former military operative Charlie Rand is assigned to cross into Esria to free the deposed ruler, who had banned travel into the human realm and mortal slavery, and learn how to close the portal from her.

He crosses over and meets up with his guide Tarrys a former slave. Charlie fears his attraction to his escort distracts him from the mission while Tarrys fears her wanting the outsider will interfere with the successful completion of the objective. However, as they trek across a nightmarish landscape, he is quickly grateful to his companion as Tarrys saves his life several times.

This action-packed romantic fantasy is a fabulous thriller due to the gender bending rescuing of a man in peril by the intrepid heroine. She shows guts under fire; while the lead human is not that different from typical military males on a mission until the heroine saves his life. With a tour of the deadly nightmarish Esria landscape, readers will relish Pamela Palmer's vivid taut tale as a former warrior and a former slave fall in love while trying to save humanity from the touch of the Esri.

Claimed by a Vampire
Rachel Lee
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373618767, $5.50

Writer Yvonne Dupuis moves into her new apartment, but feels uncomfortable as she believes a demon stalks her. Fearful she hires Messenger Investigations, Inc. private investigator Jude Messenger to protect her. Jude assigns investigator Creed Preston the vampire to keep the client safe.

Creed wonders who will keep Yvonne safe from him as his olfactory senses send his brain messages of desire from her elixir. Still he knows deep in his gut he would die to keep this mortal he wants safe from harm including from him. However, Creed and Jude miscalculate the totality of the threat wrought by the target's odious former boyfriend, as the demon who claimed the writer has allies as evil as he is.

The latest Messenger Investigations, Inc. romantic urban fantasy (see Claim the Night) is a wonderful thriller starring two strong lead characters supported by Jude who seems never afraid. Yvonne is great as a bewildered frightened human while Creed is a terrific tormented vampire. The evil and his malevolent horde enhance a delightful paranormal romantic suspense as Yvonne
learns the meaning of Claimed by a Vampire.

His Duty To Protect
Lindsay McKenna
Harlequin Romantic Suspense
9780373277612, $5.25

Five years ago at the Apache flight school Army instructor Captain Tyler Hamilton led his sexist attitude get in the way of training Rachel Trayhern. He tried to fail her, but the determined woman refused to quit. Looking back, he regrets his behavior towards one of his better students, but is not totally cognizant that his bias comes from his childhood.

In Afghanistan, Rachel is assigned to Tyler's unit. He owes her an apology, but she keeps everything strictly by the book and in the present. However, a mission turns potentially fatal as Tyler and Rachel are isolated from their team inside of the fluid enemy territory. To survive their harrowing trek they must trust and rely on one another.

This is a superb military romance with much of the focus on theatre operations starting with the Taliban grenade attack leaving the heroine mentally disoriented (and enabling flashbacks). The story line is loaded with action as readers will believe they are part of Tyler's unit on patrol; on Afghanistan. Readers will enjoy the latest Black Jaguar Squadron thriller (see Operation: Forbidden and His Woman In Command) as the metamorphosis of Tyler from anti female in combat roles to firm believer in the capability of trained female soldiers occurs while they walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

Sex, Lies and Valentines
Tawny Weber
Harlequin Blaze
9780373796700, $5.25

Of the three offspring of notorious Tobias Black, the leader of Black Oak, California, Gabriel is the chip off the felonious block. Like father like son Gave is a con artist. However, his latest scam is busted by FBI Agent Danita Cruz. She gives him a choice between prison and an undercover sting in his hometown.

Gabe and Danita posing as his girlfriend arrive in Black Oak. Their undercover mission is to break up a drugs and guns trafficking mob that has taken root in the town. As they con his family who feel the heat between the pair and fool themselves into believing it's the mission, each is in lust with the other, but the operation comes first or does it.

The final heated Sex, Lies and ... romantic suspense (see Sex, Lies and Mistletoe, and Sex, Lies and Midnight) is an engaging thriller starring a sexy kick butt agent and the smooth king of lies operative. Although the fast-paced storyline ends suddenly, readers will enjoy the gender war between the Fed and the felon.

Once Upon a Valentine
Stephanie Bond, Leslie Kelly and Michelle Rowen
Harlequin Blaze
9780373796670, $5.25

"All Tangled Up" by Stephanie Bond. Forever Summer Tomlinson wanted Andrew Macmillan. They became business partners and share a bed, but she wonders if following Rapunzel's lead will lead her beloved to a happily ever after with her.

"Sleeping With a Beauty" by Leslie Kelly. Historian Ashlynn Scott searches for Sleeping Beauty's castle. He never expected to be the kisser of legend, but the fairy tale never mentioned the happily ever after in the sheets.

"Catch Me" by Michelle Rowen. Ginger Redman makes a wish on a magic cookie, which leads to her best friend Stephen Fox wanting her in his or her bed happily ever after.

These are entertaining lighthearted Bedtime Stories that are fun to read as readers obtain a modern take on the rest of the story of happily ever after.

The Detective's Accidental Baby
Jacqueline Diamond
Harlequin American
9780373753963, $5.25

Safe Harbor fertility clinic nurse Erica Benford has no plans to become pregnant. However, a one night stand with private investigator Sherlock Vaughn proves that the plans of mice, men and Erica go astray when she learns she is carrying. Erica knows she does not want to raise a child especially as a single mom, but tells the father what she is doing. He refuses to sign away his paternal rights as a foster child alumni he distrusts parents so will learn to do it right as a single father.

Over the next few months, Erica bonds with her unborn and soon wants to raise the child with Lock. However, though he wants both in his life permanently, his ugly past has returned endangering his beloved Erica and their unborn.

The return to Safe Harbor will elate fans as heroes like Dr. Owen (see the Surgeon's Surprise Twins) return in key support roles. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing of two people not ready to be an entry and especially not prepared to raise a child. Medical romance fans will appreciate Jacqueline Diamond's warm baby makes three tale.

The Rodeo Man's Daughter
Barbara White Daille
Harlequin American
9780373753956, $5.25

As an impoverish teenager Caleb Cantrell left Flagman's Folly, New Mexico over a decade ago to join the rodeo. His only regret is leaving behind his sweetheart Tess LaSalle, but he rationalized she could do much better than a poor non bitter person like him.

A recent near fatal injury has all but ended Caleb's sterling career, He returns home wealthy but the acrimony he thought he left behind remains in his gut. Caleb comes back with a chip on his shoulder. However, his plan to for a second chance with Tess goes nowhere as the single mom refuses to have anything to do with him. When he learns her daughter is his, he rages at Tess for never telling him though he knew he never gave her a chance. Finally calming down, Caleb wants to be part of the lives of his two beloved females, but Tess doubts his staying power fearing he will hurt her and their child.

This is an engaging second chance at love tale starring two wounded warriors carrying tons of emotionally crippling baggage. Although the theme has been used frequently, fans will enjoy Caleb's return to Flagman's Folly (see A Rancher's Pride) as he works his toughest contest ever, winning back the trust of the woman who was a pregnant teen though unaware of her condition
when he abandoned her.

Just Desserts
Jeannie Watt
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717613, $5.50

Schoolteacher Layla Taylor learns her boyfriend is cheating with a colleague of hers. Stunned by their betrayal, she ends her relationship. Feeling self-pity as she was faithful to the rat, Layla has too much to drink as a blizzard hits. Her high school enemy, catering business owner and pastry chef Justin Tremont with snow tires on his vehicle takes her home to comfort her (and him).

However, parents obtain a damaging picture of normally prim and proper Layla intoxicated and ill in public. The school fires her for reprehensible conduct. Rule breaker Justin comforts the depressed Layla. As their attraction grows from lust to love, each has major doubts whether opposites can stay together without killing one another.

This is a fun lighthearted romance starring two likable polar opposites in love; as he cannot even follow his own recipes while she cannot even bend a rule. Although the storyline is thin, fans will enjoy the lead couple's changing relationship as first came hate, than came lust and finally came love.

On Common Ground
Tracy Kelleher
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717620, $5.50

Although she vowed to never go back, Grantham University graduate Lilah Evans returns to her alma mater to receive the Distinguished Alumni award at the ten year reunion. At the event Lilah and Justin Bigelow, her college boyfriend's roommate, meet. They chat over old times and what each has done since graduating. He especially shocks her with his passion about being a kindergarten teacher as her memory of him is that of an egotistical BMOC player.

Lilah is further stunned when she learns Justin nominated her for the award. Far from being the self-indulged big man on campus jock, he is a caring person. As she revises her opinion of him, Lilah falls in love while Justin has been in love for over ten years.

This is a tender second chance relationship drama as Lilah realizes how wrong her misconceptions about this jock are as he proves to be a tender caring person who loves his work (I admire elementary school teachers especially the younger grades as it take a special person as those who can teach). Readers will enjoy their changing dynamics as this pair makes a wonderful warm couple.

Between Love And Duty
Janice Kay Johnson
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717583, $5.50

The court assigns advocate Jane Brooks to protect the interests of teenager Tito Ortiz. His father is leaving prison and demands custody of his child. Police captain Duncan MacLachlan has acted as a big brother to the troubled teen as he knows first-hand what it is like to be not raised properly by terrible parents. He wants the right thing for Tito.

Duncan and Jane argue over what is right for Tito. He sees a world of good and bad with no straddling or gray area; she sees people acting at times good and bad. Attracted to one another, they disagree as to what is best for this at risk teen. However, when Jane's life becomes threatened, Duncan knows he would risk his to keep her safe as he loves his adversarial advocate.

The key to this powerful contemporary romance is Duncan as his black and white philosophy about humans is deftly developed from a troubled childhood in which some people like his parents were bad and some like his mentor were good. Jane struggles with understanding his polar absolute belief as she sees the grays in everyone. Although the suspense is handled nicely, it is unnecessary as readers will relish this strong tale of two individuals in love but the adult is the child and each carries tons of childhood baggage.

Shadow's Stand
Sarah McCarty
9780373777051, $7.99

In 1859 West Texas Territory, Fei Yen Tseng revoked her father Jiang's heritage when he sold her cousin Lin to pay a debt. Now, Fei invokes a rarely used law to claim Shadow Ochoa as her husband before the sheriff and a mob can string him up as a horse thief. The vigilantes are angry at her but need Jiang, a dynamite expert, to help them with a tunnel through the nearby mountain. Fei leaves with her groom chained to her buckboard as he is only a front to her business empire.

However, Shadow is not a Hell's Eight Texas Ranger for nothing. He challenges his owner who fears her passion for her incarcerated spouse will cost her independence. Meanwhile he finds himself falling in love with his captor who he distrusts with his life. Before they can figure out their feelings, bounty hunters plan to collect on his hide and her father does not sit well with his daughter's insult.

The fifth Hell's Eight western romance (see Sam's Creed and Tucker's Claim) is an exciting tale due to the unique Chinese heroine. Although the male protagonist is somewhat interchangeable with his brothers in arms like Tracker and Caine, Fei brings freshness with her need for independence and her skill at running a business empire from the shadows. Adding in her Chinese nationality, she makes for a strong pre Civil War entry.

Brenda Joyce
9780373776559, $7.99

In 1793 near Brest, France, someone tries to assassinate Dominic Paget. Lucas Greystone concludes the assassin knew Dominic was a spy. His brother Captain Jack Greystone, knowing the spy will be dead before reaching London, takes the severely wounded Earl across the Channel to his family estate in Penzance, Cornwall.

At her family estate, Julianne Greystone helps Dominic heal from his near fatal wounds. She believes the French Revolution is a great thing for the masses. Julianne also thinks her patient is the heroic freedom fighter Charles Maurice. Dominic seduces his hostess though he knows he should not treat her as he does. As they fall in love, Juliana learns of his duplicity and tells him to leave. However, she is arrested for treason and brought to the Tower to await punishment. Only Dominic, risking his life, can save her.

This is a superb look at the divided opinions on the French Revolution as pragmatic Dominic feels the nightmare is dangerous for all classes while romantic Julianne relishes Lady Liberty. The romance is a sort of star-crossed affair as their political views divide them. Readers will enjoy this terrific late Georgian historical as love may not be enough to overcome monumental events sweeping both sides of the Channel.

A Soldier's Secret
Linda Style
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717576, $5.50

In 2003 in Iraq, helicopter pilot Natalia Sokoloff is on a rescue mission when she spots a baby and a terrorist. She kills the terrorist before he can murder the infant. However, she is shocked when she realizes he was just a tweener. An explosion leaves Natalie unconscious.

Nine years later in Arizona, Natalie is a helicopter rescue pilot who works with her BFF paramedic David "Mac" MacAllister. She suffers from PTSD that has worsened to the point she has panic attacks. Mac informs her he needs a wife so he can bring home his half Iraqi child that until recently he never knew he fostered six years ago. He assumes the mother was killed by zealots while the grandma who raised the child just died. Mac and a maternal aunt compete for custody. Natalie agrees to marry Mac. His son Joey joins them but as Natalie battles with her syndrome, she also falls in love with her BFF and his son.

Aptly titled A Soldier's Secret, this engaging contemporary romance somewhat looks into the impact of combat induced PTSD and deeper into trysts between Americans on tour and Iraqis. Although the PTSD is not fully explored beyond short cripplers, readers will enjoy the coming together of two BFFs in love and their child.

A Hero In The Making
Kay Stockham
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717521, $5.50

Fifteen years ago her mom uprooted her from New York to Montana. Now Skylar Mathews-Adams repeats that pilgrimage by bringing her seven year old son Cody to the Second Chance Ranch in Montana so that both can move past the grief that has crippled Cody and frightened his mom with fear he will commit suicide; his therapist recommends drugs. Cody has not been able to cope with the death of the man he considered his father.

On the ranch, Skylar expects to meet Marcus Whitefeather. Years ago they were lovers in love until a football injury left him wheelchair bound unable to use his legs. He drove pregnant Skylar away; a decision he has always regretted. With her and Cody at the ranch, Marcus wants a second chance to prove his love for Skylar and a first chance with his son Cody who rejects him except for Cassie the canine as unsuitable for his mom.

This is a superb family drama as the three prime players act realistically. Marcus and Skylar remain in love and want a do over, but each understands Cody comes first; as he is an at risk child capable of doing something stupidly irreversible. Readers will appreciate this powerful character driven tale as Cody's troubles make for an insightful plot.

His Brother's Keeper
Dawn Atkins
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717538, $5.50

In a bad section of Phoenix, in honor to his late younger brother Robert and their deceased father, Gabe Cassidy wants his STRIKE program to keeps at risk kids from joining gangs like the El Doble 22nd Street or the Baseline Kings. However, he fears his martial arts program will be shut down since Principal Charlie Hopkins, who sanctioned the activity at the high school, was fired due to political B.S.

Robert's high school girlfriend Felicity Spencer becomes the school principal. Gabe remains angry with her for deserting his sibling when Robert needed her most. He becomes irate when Felicity chooses to shut his program as she wants to use the gym for a different after school activity. However, making him rage is his attraction to the woman he considers the enemy.

This engaging modern day urban romance focuses strongly on the problems families in gang controlled areas and dedicated people face trying to make a difference. The romance takes a back seat to the Blackboard Jungle (by Evan Hunter) social drama. Timely with recent presidential candidate commentary, Dawn Atkins makes a case that influential outsiders with no real knowledge believe the business model of poor neighborhoods is illegal activity, fans will enjoy this discerning tale of diverse types of inner city love.

Wolf Whisperer
Karen Whiddon
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373618750, $5.50

Pack protector Mac Lamonda is grieving and raging as his wife Maggie recently died in a car crash and her birth clan claimed and abducted his twin children while he mourned his loss. He wants his kids back so he has come to Wyoming to abduct a distant cousin Kelly McKenzie of his late spouse to force an exchange with this Tearlach clan that vanished years ago except for his target as she runs a canine rescue mission.

He arrives just after she learns her sister Bonnie has been abducted. They are attacked, but thwart the adversaries as her Tearlach skills save his life. Each distrusts the other as her clan took his kids and his Protectors failed to investigate who murdered her father and now her sibling is missing. Failure to combines forces proves not an option as a clever diabolical manipulator is putting the pair and their loved ones in jeopardy.

The latest Wolf Pack urban romantic fantasy (see Lone Wolf) is an exhilarating thriller due to the strong lead couple who loath the other's clan and the expansion to the already powerful Whiddon mythos with the Tearlach talents. Mac and Kelly complement one another especially in a fight and at love. Readers will relish this entertaining tale as united the protagonists may save their loved ones; divided their loved ones will die.

Claim The Night
Rachel Lee
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373618743, $5.50

Messenger Investigations, Inc. private investigator Jude Messenger saves the life of medical examiner Terri Black from a gang rape. Jude is stunned to find himself attracted to Terri and the smell of her blood. However, the private investigator knows he has no time for a female even if her blood has him stirred; since he must focus on ending the spread of a demon infestation. Thus he escorts her to his office and his assistant Chloe Crandall.

Teri is as shocked as her savior with her desire for Jude who tries to drive her away just like he did the four punks who he mentally sent home. She assumes her wanting him is a form of hero worship. However, she reconsiders her first inclination of adulation when she remains attracted to Jude even after learning that he is a demon hunting vampire. She insists on helping him with his mission as he realizes why her blood makes his boil; and to keep her safe from a demonic stalker he accepts her offer.

This Claiming urban romantic fantasy is an action-packed thriller that never decelerates from the moment that Jude and Chloe meet until a final confrontation with a nasty demon. Fast-paced, readers will relish Claim the Night as the dedicated demon hunter learns one taste of her blood will never be enough while M.E. never blinks re his race and his occupation; love will do that and more.

The SEAL's Promise
Rebecca Winters
Harlequin American Romance
9780373753918, $5.25

In Salt Lake City, former Navy SEAL widower Chaz Roylance works as a private investigator at the Lufka P.I. firm (see Undercover Husband for the boss Roman Lufka's tale). He believes in no permanent relationships since his parents are dead and recently his wife succumbed to cancer.

His current assignment is to protect radio personality widow Lacey Pomeroy and her three year old daughter Abby from a vicious life threatening stalker; the notes are vividly bloody. She left Long Beach when the first note was placed on her car while she was burying her Coast Guard husband Ted who died at sea. The bodyguard and the client are attracted to one another, but both are wary of a relationship. Besides which keeping mother and daughter safe while uncovering the identity of the culprit by pretending a relationship to draw the psychopath out comes before their desire.

The key to this engaging romantic suspense is that the mystery supersedes the romantic subplot as protection comes before love. Although the romance seems abrupt, fans will enjoy this fast-paced, taut thriller in which the culprit stalks in plain sight.

The Cowboy's Secret Son
Trish Milburn
Harlequin American Romance
9780373753901, $5.25

Her recent cancer bout frightened interior designer Grace Cameron, but not for herself. The single mom worried what would happen to her six year old son Evan if she should die. Deciding to leave her home for the past seven years in Arkansas, she and Evan drive to the Vista Hills Guest Ranch in Blue Falls, Texas where her son will attend the cowboy camp and meet his father Nathan Teague for the first time.

As Evan goes to meet the horses, a sickly looking Grace blurts out to Nathan that her son is his. Irate he asks why she failed to tell him; she responds that her ashamed parents dragged her away while he wanted nothing to do with her after that night. He challenges his paternity but she implies there has been no one else. He stalks out while one of her BFFs Laney Stuart offers her solace and French Toast.

The first Teagues of Texas (Nathan's siblings to follow) is a thrilling second chance at love tale. The premise of concealing a child from a father is not new (see Special Assignment: Baby by Debra Webb), but Trish Milburn refreshes the theme with Grace's trauma forcing her to relook her priorities though her close friends Laney and Emily Stringer would have been there for Evan. With a strong lead couple and a fully developed secondary cast (including the horses), readers will enjoy this tender ranch family drama.

Promise Me This
Cathy Gohlke
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781414353074, $13.99,

Fifteen year old Michael Dunnagan came to the dock to celebrate his abusive Uncle Tom leaving as a stoker on the Titanic. The teenager is awe struck by the great ship, which has completed the trials and is getting ready to begin the maiden voyage. A stevedore hires Michael to help load supplies.

However, instead of leaving, he becomes a stowaway. Passenger Owen Allen heading to join the family firm in New Jersey, finds and befriends the lad. When the impossible occurs, Owen makes Michael give him a death bed promise that he will take care of his younger sister Annie in England. Michael sends Annie many letters from America but she resents his living while her sibling died. However, over time the grieving Annie begins to heal and welcomes Michael's letters. It is believable that the two pen pals fall in love so he finally accumulates the funds needed to bring his Annie to America. Before she can come, WWI ignites ending their correspondence. He resolutely crossed the ocean once before when he had no money and sets off to do so again to find his beloved.

This is a great historical that brings to life the fatal voyage and its aftermath through the reactions of a terrific support cast; not all on board. The couple is a wonderful pairing, but it is the victims and not just those who died at sea, but the survivors like Michael filled with guilt, grief and respect as well as the mourning loved ones. Readers will relish this powerful rendition of the Titanic.

The Search Committee
Tim Owens
9781414364452, $12.99

After seven years of preaching to the flock, the reverend accepted the Big Job in Atlanta. Reverend John Haynesworth became their interim minister while The Search Committee is formed to interview the applicants and observe them preaching at other churches.

The magnificent seven represent a vast cross section of the congregation with seemingly nothing except their church ties to connect them. Travis Booth, the youngest, is a supermarket assistant manager married to Jenny with no kids; she wants children while he remains uncommitted. Retired Bill Duncan has a heart condition that has increased his worries over who will care for his weak minded wife when he is gone. Retired septuagenarian Frankie Fulford just wants everyone to get along with one another. Thirtyish low esteem Matt Fischer is an unemployed PH.D who lives with his dad and is attracted to Julia the waitress. Fiftyish Dot Spivey is an opinioned gossip who frightens the younger men with her sharp tongue. Sexagenarian widow Joyce Lambertson relocated from Rochester, New York, but feels like an outsider. Finally there is pretty thirty-something divorcee Susie Mayfield, who as a single mom raises a troubled teen. This diverse group must come together to select the next minister.

Though not for everyone as the pace is what one would expect driving on the back roads of the Southeast, fans who appreciate a deep engaging character study will want to ride in the late 1970s Econoline. The seven act distinctly different from one another as each goes through the teaming phases (Tuckman model - forming, storming, norming, and performing). The secondary cast enhances the understanding of the septet. Readers will enjoy The Search Committee as a church group eventually comes together to find the next minister.

Not in the Heart
Chris Fabry
9781414348612, $13.99

Unemployed reporter Truman Wiley used to cover the world; now he cannot cover his family. Whereas he wanted a car, his estranged wife Ellen wanted Jesus. Now he is on Sanibel Island alone while she is in Tallahassee with their two children (Abigail and Aiden who soon will die without a heart transplant) and the Lord. Truman cannot deal with seeing his son so ill in a hospital; while he turned away Ellen turned to Jesus praying for a miracle.

Ellen offers Truman a chance to reconcile with his family. Death row inmate Terrelle Conley has offered his heart to Aiden. However, he also wants Truman to tell his story. With Abigail working with him, Truman feels pretty good about the future until an inconvenient truth arises that places him in the crosshairs of a moral dilemma.

Although readers will guess relatively early what is about to happen, this is a great thriller starring a morally bankrupt individual who has lost confidence in himself and that of his loved ones while having given up on Jesus as a waste of his time. Filled with plenty of action and several entertaining twists, yet character driven, readers will relish this sensational soul searching suspense.

The Shadow of Your Smile
Susan May Warren
9781414334837, $13.99

In Deep Haven, Minnesota, forty-six years old Noelle Hueston drives home from Duluth while wintry weather slams the lake Superior area. Her spouse of twenty-five years Eli recently retired from the police force, but each feel their relationship died when their child Kelsey died. She stops for coffee, but two men with guns hold up the place; as Noelle flees she slips on the ice smacking her head and falling into unconsciousness.

When Noelle regains consciousness, she cannot remember anything that happened to her in the last quarter of a century. She does not recognize her sons or her husband and fails to recall Kelsey's death. Eli realizing what he almost lost prays for her full recovery and a second chance.

The return to Deep Haven (see My Foolish Heart, Perfect Match and Tying the Knot) is a fabulous second chance family drama. The wonderful storyline showcases how talented Susan May Warren is as the theme has been used many times (see Random Harvest by James Hilton and the subsequent Coleman-Garson movie); yet this great author spins a fresh relationship tale. Readers will appreciate how a tragedy and the related grief and guilt can destroy a loving relationship while a second trauma may restore paradise lost.

Robert Crais
Putnam, Jan 24 2012, $26.95
G. P. Putnam's Sons
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399158278, $26.95,

Jack Bermon and Krista Morales are in California's Anza-Borrego Desert enjoying each other's company when people arrive. One of them points his shotgun at Jack.

Soon afterward, Krista's mom Nita receives a call demanding ransom money for the safe return of her daughter. The affluent Nita believes her offspring is pulling a ploy to obtain money to finance her running off with "that boy". She hires Elvis Cole to bring her normally intelligent daughter home. Elvis and his partner Joe Pike begin the search, but soon realize mom is deadly wrong re her assertion as they find blood and bullets in the desert. The investigators know that, if either of the pair still lives, lethal Bajadores have gangsters have taken Krista and Jack prisoner; payment not met means death in the desert. Cole goes undercover to infiltrate the kidnappers, but he vanishes leaving Pike to find his partner before he is either sold or killed.

This heart pumping thriller starts off at hyperspeed and never slows down until the final confrontation. The heroes to include Jack are heroic trying to insure Krista's safety; while the villains are vile as they murder and kidnap people. Cole and Pike are terrific as always (see The First Rule) in this strong suspense thriller.

Celebrity In Death
J.D. Robb
9780399158308, $27.95

Although NYPD Lieutenant Eve Dallas closed the Icove case (see Origin In Death), the public remains fascinated with it. TV journalist Nadine Furst helped foster the interest with her reports on the high profile murder case and in 2050 Hollywood director Mason Roundtree begins a film The Icove Agenda based on the case and Nadine's book.

Eve and her partner Detective Peabody are uneasy guests of honor at a celebrity dinner celebrating the movie. Neither cop likes K.T. Harris the actress playing Peabody's role. Harris insults almost everyone at the gala before going up on the roof for a smoke of an herbal. Marlo Dunn, who plays Eve in the film (and looks like the lieutenant's twin) and her lover Mathew Zank who plays Detective McNab find Harris floating in the rooftop swimming pool. Each has reasons to want the victim dead as did just about everyone associated with the movie. Dallas and Peabody investigate who is the evasive murderer before someone else dies.

The latest Dallas futuristic police procedural (see Dallas to New York) is a terrific exciting whodunit. The investigation is entertaining as the new homicide inquiry is under the spotlight of the media as Furst plays a major role. Fast-paced and with Roarke assisting (naturally), readers will relish this thriller.

Shadow Ops: Control Point
Myke Cole
Ace Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10014
9781937007249, $7.99,

Supernatural Operations Corps Army Lieutenant Oscar Britton knows his unit's mission is to remove magical threats preferably using less lethal means, but killing a Probe or a practitioner posing harm to his team is acceptable rules of engagement. However, the latest case involving a teenage Probe female and her first timers bothers him when they capture the girl only to have Harlequin murder the teen under the guise of standard operating procedure.

Whether it was the excessive force that disturbed him and potentially triggered his latent superpowers, Britton knows his manifestation is a death sentence. Knowing he cannot win in a fight against the powerful SOC, he chooses flight as his former command declares him a criminal wanted dead. However, instead of execution when he is caught, Britton is subjected to the military-industrial complex as an enslaved drone. Increasingly he believes throwing out the existing intolerant leadership via a coup is the only means of saving the First Amendment rights of everyone.

This is refreshing futuristic urban fantasy that contains a strong cautionary message that as Ben Franklin stated: "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety". Myke Cole makes it lucid that regardless of the threat or rationalization, torture and long term incarceration without a legitimate trial are unacceptable practices. Fast-paced and filled with action, Britton holds the exciting tale together in a sort of coming of age awareness plot when he concludes those he previously obeyed without a second thought are morally bankrupt with self importance power their cause.

The Mortal Bone
Marjorie M. Liu
9781937007188, $7.99

Like her bloodline going back ten millennia, demon hunter Maxine Kiss carries her five "boys" as tattoos on her body, which serves as prison for these Reaper Kings who if freed would devour the world. She and her soulmate Grant the Lightbringer escort Bryon the teenage to a "safe house" once belonging to Maxine's mom in Texas.

However, a possessed woman arrives giving Maxine a plastic bowling bag of which the visitor says someone in her dream told her to deliver it. Inside is a crystal skull that has the demon within the woman and the five on Maxine's skin clamoring to go to it. The connection between her boys and her is severed; they are totally free to bring hell on earth unless Maxine can somehow reconnect with them.

The fourth Hunter Kiss urban fantasy (see A Wild Light, The Iron Hunt and Darkness Calls) is a great thriller that is action-packed but driven by the aftereffect of the broken link as Marjorie M. Liu gets deep into the psyche of the heroine. Maxine has mixed emotions of being liberated but in some ways misses the bond that has been part of her for a long time. She also feels guilt and responsibility to prevent her boys from returning to their Reaper King days; as nothing short of the end of the world is at stake.

Joe Haldeman
9780441020959, $24.95

After earthling Carmen Dula made contact with Martians (see Marsbound), a third mysterious race, the "Others" destroy the moon and the planet's space fleet. Splintered into several billion pieces, the rocks that were once earth's lunar serve as a barrier to keep humans Earthbound.

Carmen returns to earth to find five decades passed while she was in space trying to meet with the Others. She finds two groups argue over their vision of the planet. Meanwhile mankind has always tested limits and does so again when they send a rocket to determine whether the obstruction can be by-passed. The Others act with impunity at this affronting test by devastating the world when they shut down all power causing many deaths. Carmen and her allies including a stranded Martian try to fight back using pre-Edison technology.

The latest Marsbound science fiction thriller (see Starbound) is a great finish to a strong saga. The story line starts off with a Rapture-like scenario as the Others retaliate to the affront of the humans testing their mettle by pulling the plug on power and never slows down. Carmen has come a long way from the angst-laden teen whose family are first wave colonists on Mars as she takes responsibility to save her race. Readers will enjoy the exploits of the heroine and others as they try to take the fight to

Kiss of the Vampire
Cynthia Garner
Forever Romance
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780446585118, $27.99,

The Moore-Creasy-Devon Comet passes the earth every seventy-three years; causing a temporary opening in the rift between the human realm and that of the paranormal, allowing parasites to cross over to the earth. These alien entities enter human hosts becoming various supernaturally creatures who have gained legal rights though the natives resent them.

Violent murders of vampires increase the tension between races. The Council of Preternaturals assign special agent Tobias Caine the vampire to lead the investigation. Half-human/half-demon Nix de la Fuente is part of his team. They had a heated history but he abruptly ended it and has no plans to renew it until he sees her for the first time in several years. Their desire distracts each of them from their inquiry and leaves them at risk from a diabolical serial killer.

The first Warriors of the Rift romantic urban fantasy is a refreshing look at the origin of vampires, werewolves and other myths. Fast-paced, the romantic and police procedural subplots deftly balance a strong storyline that starts off with an Arizona newspaper editorial condoning the killing of a vampire and never slows down as Cynthia Garner provides a fascinating take on the supernatural.

Kristen Callihan
9781455508594, $5.99

In 1878 London, Lord Benjamin Archer comes to collect a debt from Hector Ellis whose pirates cost him salvation when they plundered his ship stealing the cure he needs. When he meets Hector's daughter Miranda while she holds a knife on him, Archer finds himself attracted to her. She is the reason he allows Hector to live, but negotiates a new deal.

Three years later, Hector informs Miranda she will wed Lord Benjamin Archer to save her family from ruin as he blames her fiery gift for the family's impoverished state. Wearing a mask to conceal his disfigurement, Archer finds his brave wife demands he give his soul to her like she offers to him. However, he cannot oblige her though he desperately wants to. Miranda wonders about his older companions especially when the members of the West Moon Club are viciously murdered. As Miranda wonders if she wed a killer, she investigates her husband; learning her gift may be the only thing that can save his soul.

With a nod to Beauty and the Beast though somewhat altered by the paranormal gift of Beauty, Firelight is a superb Victorian romantic fantasy. The story line is fast-paced from the first encounter to the last; while the protagonists are a fascinating pairing of a passionate soul with a dark soulless. Readers will appreciate Kristen Callihan's entertaining paranormal historical thriller as London is rarely darker.

Midnight Reckoning
Kendra Leigh Castle
9781609418380, $7.99

In Tipton, Massachusetts werewolf Lyra Black is the heir apparent to her sire as the alpha leader of the Thorn pack. That is if she lives long enough as rivals to the number two slot is everywhere. Mark the Neanderthal accosts her with the choice of mating nicely in a room or roughly in an alley. Mark assaults Lyra until vampiric-cat shifter Jaden Harrison intercedes.

As he gives her back her mom's necklace that he found, her father Dorien sends his best fighter Simon to tear open Jaden's throat for accosting his daughter. Jaden easily defeats Simon. Dorien who loathes the Cait-Sith asks Jaden to train his offspring to fight in the Proving that will name his Second. As Lyra and Jaden fall in love, she remains focused to become one day the Alpha while he as a member of the Reborn Lilim clan remains diligently alert observing the vampire Ptolemy clan that had enslaved his people until recently.

The second Dark Dynasties urban romantic fantasy (see Dark Awakening) is a super star-crossed tale starring two interesting individuals living and loving in a deadly divided United States. The story line is action-packed from the onset and never slows down as the clan hierarchies battle each other and within for supremacy over one another with seditious acts part of the norm. Kendra Leigh Castle provides an intriguing tour of Massachusetts where vampires and werewolves don't mix even in love.

Sanctuary Cove
Rochelle Alers
9781455501403, $5.99

In Charleston, South Carolina, schoolteacher Louis Robinson is accused of improper behavior with a student. He is suspended pending an investigation. He claims innocence as he was comforting a distraught girl; the media, the board and the townsfolk condemn him. He soon dies in an accident prior to his exoneration.

His seething wife of eighteen years rejects the phony condolence of those feeling guilt for hanging her mate. Instead Deborah leaves the city of pain accompanied by her teenagers (Whitney and Crystal) to move into the home she inherited from her grandparents on nearby Cavanaugh Island. Deborah also relocates her bookstore there.

Widower Dr. Asa Monroe is a snowbird newcomer to the island. He grieves the deaths of his wife and son. To escape, he has come to Cavanaugh while he waits for an assignment from Doctors Without Borders. He's just waiting for his assignment.

Both adults are grieving but find a spark when they meet. As they fall in love, her priority has to be her children mourning the death of their dad; while his has been being a physician in a needy place.

The first Cavanaugh Island romance is a wonderful barrier island second chance at love. The support cast is superb especially the teens and islanders. However, this is the tale of two grieving people who find hope with one another. Although the warm story line is predicable, readers will enjoy visiting the Lowcountry with Rochelle Alers as their guide.

All I Want is You
Sherrill Bodine
9780446584357, $7.99

In Chicago, Bridget Clayworth asks Pandora's Box owner Venus Smith to look over the antiques she might be able to sell at the latter's store; anything left over will go to charity. Venus begins her inventory when Bridget's nephew Conner Clayworth O'Flynn and her lover Tony Panzarella arrive. Venus has been avoiding Connor ever since he fired her father Alastair in disgrace from his position as treasurer at John Clayworth and Company eight months ago.

One of the items is an antique mermaid brooch that looks identical to the famous one stolen years ago from the Clayworth family. Bridget gives it to Venus as a gift but says Tony gave her the brooch when she turned twenty-five. Later Venus is on TV wearing the brooch, which upsets Tony but neither he nor Bridget will tell Connor why. Meanwhile someone breaks into Venus' store. As Connor tries to learn the truth about the broach, Venus wants to know the truth why he fired her loyal father. Although deeply loathing one another, they team up trying to learn the history of the brooch and who broke into the store, which lead them to love and danger.

The latest Smith sister contemporary romance (see A Black Tie Affair) is an engaging tale of enemies falling in love. The amateur sleuthing is enjoyable due to the strong cast in which two families collide in Chicago. Although the transformation from despicable adversary to cherished love seems faster than the Chicago Transit Blue Line goes from O'Hare to the Loop, fans will enjoy this romantic mystery.

If You See Her
Shiloh Walker
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor
New York, NY 10019
9780345517548, $7.99,

in Ash, Kentucky, District Attorney Remington Jennings speaks to the former husband of Hope Carson, police detective Joseph Carson about helping Hope who is in the hospital after a suicide attempt and is the prime suspect in an assault against Law Reilly. Joseph says she is a violent person suffering from a borderline personality disorder that makes her a manipulative chameleon.

Hope distrusts anyone even remotely associated with law enforcement as she barely survived spousal abuse and her ex's clever painting of her as the lunatic while he was the nurturing cop from a powerful family. She remains fearful of any person offering to help her; especially a DA who thinks she tried to kill Law. However, someone stalks her and she thinks that hunter is Joseph Carson. Remy knows he is in love, but she needs help although he offers the wrong kind as he fails to believe her paranoia until it may be too late.

The second Ash romantic suspense (see If You Hear Her) is an exciting tense thriller starring an endangered woman written off by cops and the DA as a nutcase. Fast-paced, If You See Her moves forward the overarching theme but leaves the prime villain in the nebulous shadows. Hope is an intriguing protagonist while Remy assumes he fell in love with a certifiable maniac who he knows he should convict for murder and assault. However, this tale belongs to the "golden boy" Joseph though his masquerading as a saint with a bad seed persona has been used before.

Princess Charming
Nicole Jordan
9780345525277, $7.99

In 1816, Maura Collyer grieves the death of her father while her loathing her wicked stepmother grows since the latter sold her horse without her permission to pay a gambling debt to an evil aristocrat. Maura plans to retrieve what is hers though she knows how difficult achieving her goal will prove.

At midnight at a gala, Marquis Ashton Wilde observes his sister Katherine's closest friend twenty-four years old Maura Collyer fleeing from a tryst with Lord Deerfield. Fascinated, he learns the truth of her mission including her meeting with Deerfield; and offers his assistance to her in retrieving her steed. As his romantic sibling insists that he is Prince Charming to Maura's Cinderella, the reluctant pair fall in love but their quest proves dangerous.

The first Legendary Lovers Wilde Regency romance is a delightful twist on the Cinderella-Charming tale. The key cast mirrors the fairy tale (including a self-proclaimed fairy godmother) with the exception of the heroine who rejects a prince, a stubborn marquis or any man wanting her forever. Readers will enjoy Nicole Jordan's fun historical spin as ever after cannot happen if the heroine rejects her Cinderella present.

The Demon Lover
Juliet Dark
9780345510082, $15.00

Dr. Cailleach "Callie" McFay feels her lifelong love of gothic literature and folklore has come together with her recently published "The Sex Lives of the Demon Lovers" and her accepting an instructor's position at Fairwick College. She was hesitant about accepting the job of teaching folklore until she saw Honeysuckle House. The Victorian seemed to whisper her name so she bought the home and took the position.

The house once belonged to historical romance writer Dahlia LaMotte. Her notes, journals and unpublished books can be read by Callie, but must never leave the premises. Each night Callie dreams of a shadowy male having sex with her; each morning she wakes up sexually satiated. Though she knows something is not right with these nocturnal fantasies and LaMotte's writings affirm her belief, she begins to accept that she has a Demon Lover; of whom she obsesses over in spite of this incubus draining her life essence.

Demon Lover is a strong urban romantic fantasy starring an intrepid heroine who uses her intelligence to fight for her life. The storyline is fast-paced yet ensures that the witches and other paranormal residents of the town of Fairwick seem real. Readers will relish the entertaining tale of the professor and the incubus.

MWF Seeking BFF
Rachel Bertsche
9780345524942, $15.00

Rachel Bertsche left New York for Chicago to live with her boyfriend. After they marry, Ms. Bertsche felt a void in her life. Back in in New York and other cities she has lived in, she always had a BFF or two. In Chicago she had none to share girl talk with. Thus the twenty-something Bertsche comes up with a plan to expedite meeting a new BFF rather than wait for fate to intervene. She goes on a "date" a week for fifty-two weeks.

This is a warm at times amusing memoir in which Ms. Bertsche showcases how difficult it is to make friends as an adult. The dates are fun, but it is the premise that it is more than okay to have friends especially a trusted BFF while also having a loving relationship with your significant other. Having been a stranger in a strange city several times, I understand the need though was uncomfortable with some of the encounters. Still MWF Seeking BFF is a well written year in the life of a city newcomer trying to "Reach out in the darkness and you may find a friend" (Friend and Lover).

The Four Ms. Bradwells
Meg White Clayton
9780345517098, $15.00

Three decades ago Mia, Laney, Betts, and Ginger were roommates at law school. A professor who enjoyed their uplifting camaraderie dubbed the quartet the Four Ms. Bradwells after a famous female pioneer trying to obtain admittance to the bar just after the Civil War. The nickname has stuck as they have remained BFFs over the years even as their status changed.

Mia, Laney and Ginger come to DC in honor of Betts's nomination to the Supreme Court. However during the Senate confirmation hearings, a long buried dark secret surfaces. As the women flee to the summer home of Ginger's mother on Chesapeake Bay, the media goes into frenzy red meat mode when questions arise about the death of a man at a party they attended years ago.

This loose sequel to The Wednesday Sisters (Betts is the link) focuses on the lives of The Four Ms. Bradwells much more than what happened at that fatal party decades ago. Ergo the story line though well written loses some impact by mostly scoping the marriages, divorces, and relationships within family over a deeper look at that death. Still this is a fascinating tale of four BFFs managing their professional and personal lives inside a rotating past and present (sometimes disjointedly) entertaining tale.

Sweet Reward
Christy Reece
9780345524096, $7.99

In Agar, France, Last Chance Rescue operative Jared Livingston saves a little girl from a predator. However before his boss Noah McCall can rip his head for breaking protocol again, Jared's ex wife Lara calls hysterically from Paris that someone kidnapped her baby. She and her second husband Carter Denison are heartbroken.

In Chicago, Sandi Winston explains to Mia Ryker of Ryker Rescue that two weeks ago she gave her newborn away to men who insisted they would find a better home for her baby. She said two days afterward she reconsidered and called the police. Now she turns to Mia, but reluctantly admits they paid her two thousand for the child. Drawing pictures from what Sandi described, Mia tells her "client" she must clean up her act as a baby needs a nurturing mom. Two weeks later, LCR teams up Jared in his search for Lara's baby with Mia's search for Sandi's baby. Jared thinks the midget is incapable of field work while she wonders if he ever smiles. As they fall in love, they need to have each other's back if they are to complete the mission, which takes them into the heart of a deadly baby trafficking ring.

The third Last Chance Rescue trilogy (see Sweet Justice and Sweet Revenge) is a fabulous romantic suspense thriller starring two opposites as he is tight and withdrawn while she is open and uplifting. Action-packed from even before their first meeting, readers will appreciate this taut thriller in which the mission of saving the babies from a ruthless ring for the most comes before the attraction; when the romantic subplot takes center stage it feels like a required intrusion into an otherwise tense tale.

Lovers Leap
Emily March
9780345528773, $7.99

Angel's Rest sends single mom Sarah Reese and her Texas A&M University sophomore daughter Lori on an all expense paid Australia vacation. Adventures in Paradise Tours driver sixteen year old Devin picks up the two Colorado natives to take them to the catamarans that they will ride to go to the Great Barrier Reef. At the marina, Devin's dad Cameron Murphy and Sarah see one another and freeze. Two decades ago they were in love until he left town handcuffed inside a sheriff's car never to return to her or to see his daughter. Lori realizes who he is and pleads with her mom to leave. They flee home to Eternity Springs, Colorado.

As Sarah wonders if Celeste of Angel's Rest set her up, Cam and Devin arrive in Eternity Springs. Cam wants time with his daughter who is in Virginia for the summer, but neither Sarah nor Lori want time with him. Sarah reminds him of the "Mistake" he called her pregnancy. She admits to having told Lori that he was her dad before they went to Australia. Filled with regret, Cam wants a second chance with Sarah and a first chance with Lori, but mom may still love him yet rejects his efforts.

The fourth Eternity Springs whimsical romance (see Hummingbird Lake and Heartache Falls) is a charming second chance at love tale. The lead couple is a fine pairing in which he must overcome her distrust that if she gives into her heart he will leave. His daughter's reaction is perfect and her mom's Alzheimer's enhances the character driven story line. Although Devin is too poised amidst the emotional tsunami, the return of the posse is an additional Blessing to a wonderful novel.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch
59 John Glenn Drive
Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616145439, $16.00,

Lost Souls Corporation owner Boss has come a long way from her hermit days when she was searching for artifacts amidst rubble and dust by herself. Instead she now runs a corporation with several employees ever since Boss located that first Dignity vessel and its Stealth Tech (see Diving into the Wreck and City of Ruins). Boss and her crew found the Ivoire, an ancient vessel powered by Stealth tech that was propelled forward five millennia with its mates surviving the time change. Lost Souls and the Ivoire search for clues as to what happened to the rest of the fleet and why this ship and crew ended up five thousand years into the future. They find clues to an ancient battle that might contain the information Boss and company seek.

Meanwhile, the Enterran Empire continues its lethal research into Stealth Tech. As the scientists die from the experiments, one of their former colleagues Squishy destroys the prime Enterran Empire's research lab, but fails to escape due to a distraction of meeting her former mate. Her only hope to escape empire justice resides with her friend Boss.

The third Boss futuristic science fiction is a fast-paced, action-packed space thriller starring a courageous heroine whose fight switch has her "diving" into some nasty scenarios. The entertaining storyline continues the theme that to the victors go the history books, but that generalization is enhanced by a close look into how the past impacts the present. Although there is some repetition, fans will appreciate this strong intelligent dive into the Rusch universe.

Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon
Mark Hodder
9781616145354, $16.99

In 1863 British Empire Prime Minister Lord Palmerston wants to prevent the seemingly inevitable world war that will devastate western civilization. He possesses two of the three Eyes of Naga black diamonds and seeks the last one because he believes the gems will give him the power to stop the war from occurring. He assigns King's Agent Sir Richard Francis Burton to retrieve the third gem; rumored to be buried in the Mountains of the Moon.

Burton relishes the assignment as he remains upset and angry over his failed mission last year to find the source of the Nile which is somewhere in the Mountains of the Moon due to the betrayal of his partner John Hanning Speke. While Burton and his sidekick poet Algernon Swinburne begin their exploration, the Kaiser sends Speke to obtain the third Naga diamond.

With a nod to Jules Verne's Five Weeks in a Balloon but in an alternative historical Victorian era, Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon is an exciting cross the African continent race. The fast-paced story line focuses mostly on the quirky British pair though the audience does obtain some insight into Speke. Readers will enjoy the convergence of time-stream dissonance with steampunk innovation as Burton and Swinburne conduct the amazing race in their latest expedition (see The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man and The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack).

Ian McDonald
9781616145415, $16.95

Fourteen year old Everett Singh belongs to the forum where children swap tales of embarrassing dad stories. Knowing his dad is different after all he named him after a dead scientist, on a rainy cold December night in London Everett follows his quantum physicist father Tejendra with both riding their bikes. The teen notices a black car following his dad with no attempt to pass him. Suddenly three men get out and abduct Tejendra to the shock and fear of Everett. He tells his mom, the police and his dad's boss at the lab, but no one seems disturbed by the kidnapping except the victim's son.

Not long after his father was snatched, Everett, a math prodigy, receives a complex digital map, the Infundibulum, which enables him to plot an infinite number of alternate worlds. He realizes his dad was kidnapped because the leaders of Ten Known Worlds alliance and others want the Infundibulum. The lad flees to an electro-punk Britain where Sen, the adopted daughter of Captain Anastasia Sixsmyth of the Everness dirigible, tries to steal the infinity map, but fails. Soon these two people from different worlds become friends and allies as enemy agents hunt for Everett and the Infundibulum.

The first Everness young adult science fiction thriller is a terrific tale starring a brave, intelligent teenage Planesrunner who adapts too easily to whatever he goes up against. The storyline is fast-paced from the opening abduction and never slows down. With a nod to Time Bandits, filled with plenty of action, a vivid alternate realm, plenty of humor, and a precocious teen hero, fans will want to join Everett and the crew of the Everness in their rescue attempt.

The Doctor and the Kid
Mike Resnick
9781616145378, $16.00

The March 25, 1882 edition of the Leadville Gazette noted the arrival of celebrities starting with renowned Susan B. Anthony, notorious gunslinger Dr. John H "Doc" Holliday and his companion Kathryn Elder, and notorious British wit and author Oscar Wilde. Already in town is Thomas Edison who the government in DC has paid to figure out to counter Geronimo's magic that has stopped manifest destiny from reaching the Pacific. Holliday and Wilde meet when the latter says that the former is the only known gunslinger who may have read his books. Geronimo sends a warrior to remind Doc they had a deal. He warns Edison and tells him to caution Ned Buntline.

At the Monarch Saloon, which Doc co-owns, he loses the money that he planned to use to die in luxury at a consumption asylum. Needing cash, Doc decides the fastest way to amass loot is to collect the bounty on the Kid; though he also knows how deadly Billy is so he asks Edison to provide science and technology and Geronimo to provide magic.

The second Weird West Tale (see Buntline Special) is a fast-paced steampunk western thriller starring an antihero with witty acerbic commentary. The support cast especially those from history like those above and Pat Garrett is strong while the vivid Resnick alternate Colorado seems genuine. Readers will enjoy The Doctor and the Kid.

Echoes of Betrayal: Paladin's Legacy
Elizabeth Moon
Del Rey
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345508768, $26.00,

King Kieri of Lyonya and hybrid elf Arian prepare to marry. However, his dead ancestors caution him to trust no one as treachery follows him and he needs to watch his beloved; but especially his elven grandma queen of the Ladysforest clan. Although he plans to still wed Arian, he wonders if his grandma's elf clan who have mostly stayed away or humans are planning to assassinate him; as each race detests him.

King Mikeli of Tsaia angers his nobles when he gives the dukedom of Verrakai to former Lyonya Captain Dorrin who helped him survive the seditious dangerous acts of treason by the former Verrakai magelord. His aristocracy rejects the outsider due to her gender, her combat experience for another kingdom and her forbidden magic skills. Loyalists to the traitorous magelord former duke attack Dorrin's squires and threaten Mikeli's rule.

Although Kings Kieri and Mikeli face betrayal, they have a greater threat to their respective kingdoms. Feral young dragons are killing humans, elven and gnomes. War between dragonkind, humans, elves, and gnomes seem imminent.

The third Paladin's Legacy fantasy (see Oath of Fealty and Kings of the North) is a great military-political complex thriller as readers will understand that the Paladins are agents of chaos whose interventions gave long term consequences. The storyline is fast-paced as Elizabeth Moon's relativity-inertia premise that for every positive action there is a negative reaction (on someone) makes for a strong entry in the superb Eight Kingdoms mythos.

Switchblade Goddess
Lucy A. Snyder
Del Rey
9780345512116, $7.99

Miko the Switchblade Goddess takes immense pleasure in trapping and sexually torturing the innocent souls. Jessie Shimmer the mage, who went to hell to rescue her beloved Cooper Marron (see Spellbent), liberates the townsfolk of Cuchillo from Miko.

However, the deranged demigoddess still holds captive the souls of this town. Jessie knows she must confront the psychopath, but her familiar Palimpst of the eight legs is acting monstrous so does not appear to have her back. She also is not up to her top game suffering from PTSD as she is mentally exhausted. Even more difficult is she must face Miko alone as Cooper and his brother Wizard are tied in knots.

The latest Spellbent urban fantasy (see Shotgun Sorceress) is an extremely dark psychological thriller in which Miko is a master of torturing the soul, the mind and the body as the ultimate dominatrix who gets people to beg her to harm them. Jessie knows she is emotionally bone weary but feels obligated to confront the lunatic. Fans will look forward to their High Noon to the death battle as the book opens with Jessie and Cooper prisoners of the switchblade queen.

Objects of Our Affection
Lisa Tracy
Bantam Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780553807264, $25.00,

Following the death of their mom, sisters Lisa and Jeanne had to make decisions about the estate. There are seemingly tons of heirlooms dating back to the Revolution, as the Tracey family has a long military tradition. The pair decides to sell some items, but need to determine pricing of objects with alleged major ties to prominent figures like pistols supposedly used by Aaron Burr. As they look into their ancestors, Lisa and Jeanne learn the history behind these possessions. Following the auction, both felt depressed and remorseful as if they sold their DNA.

"Objects of Our Affection: Uncovering My Family's Past, One Chair, Pistol, and Pickle Fork at a Time" is an entertaining look at the genealogy of several generations of a family through the prized items they accumulated over centuries with the military. Not for everyone, as not everyone will find "Affection" for a Pickle Fork; however, those who enjoy tidbits of American history through the affectionate look at the background of objects amassed from military campaigns will relish Ms. Tracy's homage to her family tree.

The Winter Palace
Eva Stachniak
9780553808124, $26.00

Escorted by her mother to Moscow, fourteen years old Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst meets Empress Elizabeth. Sophie wants to be the wife of the next emperor, Elizabeth's nephew Peter as the first step to her BHAG of becoming the ruler instead of just the spouse of the ruler. Assessing the situation at court, she concludes her mother and the heir are minor participants for achieving her objective; only the Empress matters.

Chancellor Count Bestuzhev trains Empress Elizabeth's newest retinue teenage Varvara to work as a master spy. She becomes his eyes and ears when ambitious Sophie arrives at court. However the charming Sophie needs an ally so she recruits Varvara as her partner. Following her achieving her marital goal Sophie's popularity rises; which angers her mother-in-law, while her husband detests her. She and Varvara remain allies even when the latter is forced to leave the Winter Palace to marry. Sophie, baptized as Catherine, completes her plot to replace her husband on the Russian throne when he forges an unpopular alliance with Prussia.

The Tsarist mid eighteenth century intrigue plays a strong backdrop to the historical biography of two women trusting one another; a major commodity in a court where betrayal is the norm as liaisons frequently implode. The storyline focuses on the lives of the women as Varvara has Sophie's back while Sophie gives back loyalty. However, the historical stage remains in the background so those readers interested in deep biographies should turn to Robert K. Massie's works on the Russian rulers (see Catherine the Great, Peter the Great, Nicholas and Alexandra, and The Romanovs). Fans will enjoy Sophie's rise to power culminating in a coup that has her on the Russian throne as Empress Catherine II.

Wrong Side of Dead
Kelly Meding
9780345525796, $7.99

His goal at any cost is to eradicate all vampires, mad scientist Walter Thackery tortured monster hunter Evangeline Stone. He nearly broke her before she finally escaped (see Another Kind of Dead).

She knows she needs time to mentally heal from her ordeal at the hands of the psychopath, but Dreg City cannot allow her the luxury as her Triad allies are battered to the point of possible extinction. The half-Blood vampires attack Evy and her associates using logical tactics as these bloody hybrids retained their cognitive thinking processes. On top of that assault, the beleaguered Triads must confront the return of the once thought extinct Halfies. Even on the personal front an attack leaves the heroine teetering when her beloved Wyatt Truman is brutally victimized by agents of Thackery. However, a betrayal inside the Triads leaves an already despondent Evy ready to give up the fight.

The latest Stone dead urban fantasy (see As Lie the Dead and Three Days to Dead) is an exhilarating thriller that turns the already very dark saga many degrees darker. The heroine feels her world imploding from within and exploding from without as she feels bone marrow weary and helpless with the waves of assaults. Thackery may be a stereotype in a generic sense, but is a credible villain whose vile activities make the tale with his end justifies the means credo in which his ethnic cleansing of vampires supersedes anything including the possible mass destruction of Dreg City. Kate Meding has written a terrific entry that is filled with action yet also contains psychological suspense; as Evy may be a PTSD sufferer at a moment when she cannot afford to be off her top game.

Tuesday Night Miracles
Kris Radish
9780553384765, $15.00

In Ellington County Psychologist Dr. Olivia Bayer, as she nears retirement, facilitates a court mandated anger management class. Blue Dot Grace Collins the fiftyish single overworked mom of two daughters explodes with rage at the boyfriend of one of her children by driving her car into his. Red Dot fortyish realtor Jane Castoria struggles with the recession until she uses her stiletto on a peer John who let her down on a deal. Green Dot fiftyish Kit Ferranti mourns and rejoices with the death of her mom, but drunken brother Mark accuses her of letting their mother die before shoving her violently until she grabbed a broken piece of glass and attacked back. Leah joins the group after hitting her children and being hospitalized after being abused.

Assisted by Phyllis the cocker spaniel, Dr. Bayer uses unconventional means that would give a heart attack to her superior if her supervisor knew. Painting birdhouses, bowling, shooting as well as individual soirees, the five females go through the stages of group formation as they bond and heal.

This is a strong look into what drives five women; four who have used violence in response to relationships and in two cases received abuse. Thus each woman comes across as incredibly developed as individuals with issues that surface over the course of the quintet going through the group formation stages. The Olivia anger management methodology lacks depth hinting at customizing to the individualized complex negative motivations of each of her four students with a sort of one for all and all for one seems naivety. Still this is a super concept with a strong cast who will keep readers enthralled.

A Lady Awakened
Cecilia Grant
9780553593839, $7.99

Recently widowed Martha Russell learns that her late husband of ten months left her in a financial mess. Russell spent 90% of the ten thousand she brought into their marriage. Her brother-n-law demands she leave his estate that goes to him since she has failed to produce the heir. Martha has two choices either to live with her brother Andrew and his wife or come up with the next generation Russell.

She decides to obtain the services of a man in order to become pregnant soonest. Determined to go all the way, Martha selects her rakish neighbor Theophilus Mirkwood who has been exiled to rusticate due his recent behavior. Theo accepts her offer of brief tryst. Soon the experienced lover and his passionate widow fall in love, but that was not part of the monthly deal.

Though the theme has been used in historical tales before, Cecilia Grant keeps her plot fresh by interweaving a rousing Regency rustication romantic story line. The changing relationship comes across pliable and passionate as polar opposites fall in love. Sub-genre readers will relish the engaging A Lady Awakened by the love of a rake.

Into The Free
Julie Cantrell
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9780781404242, $12.99,

In 1936 in Mississippi, Millie Reynolds wants to escape the shame of her dysfunctional family. Her father is an angry serial abuser and her mother is a pathetic" nothing mama". She wants to find a home she feels accepted, respected and safe, but believes that God and people abandoned her so she knows her dream is a fantasy for now.

Gypsies tour the region coming to Millie's town every spring. She turns to them hoping to find solace. The wanderers help Millie locate a box containing generations of shocking family secrets. Stull unable to break her family chains, Millie feels lost until a tragedy coaxes her to take a chance on life, love and God.

Millie makes this superb Depression Era tale work as she struggles to survive a nightmarish family life. She knows to expect no help from heaven or earth so depends on no one. Readers will relish Millie's sojourn to escape the vicious mad cycle of family abuse though that means taking a risk by jumping Into The Free life of leaving behind her parents. Julie Cantrell provides a deep inspirational historical.

The Mulligans of Mt. Jefferson
Don Reid
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9781434764942, $14.99,

In the 1930s the fifth graders Cal Vaxter and Harlan Stone were BFFs who were losing a fight to sixth graders. Buddy Briggs intervened. They became the Three Musketeers.

By 1959, Cal the Methodist Preacher was separated from his beloved Elle and their children; Harlan, married to Darcy with twin teenagers, ran the family store Stone Jewelers; Buddy the police lieutenant is married to Amanda with their teenage daughter married and pregnant. A masked intruder invades Harlan's home and shoots the owner in front of Darcy while the twins are away at Boy Scouts Camp. Harlan is rushed to Mt. Jefferson while Buddy investigates the shooting and Cal tries to provide comfort to his severely wounded friend and his wife.

Returning to Mt. Jefferson (see O Little Town), Don Reid provides an insightful look at family and friendship inside of an engaging historical police procedural. The story line is leisurely paced to enable the readers to obtain a deep look at the three BFFs in 1959 small-town Virginia. The Mulligans (as Mr. Vic calls the lead trio) are sort of Venn diagrams with various people inside the mostly overlapping circles. With an intriguing twisting climax, fans will enjoy a glimpse back in time in which Mr. Reid showcases friendship without social media while Buddy works the case and Cal the soul.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

The Adit
C.H. Foertmeyer
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468940555, $8.95,

I'm always excited to read a new tale by Foertmeyer because his work is imaginative, his characters fascinating, and his plots loaded with thrilling possibilities. The Adit has all that and more!

Most of his life, Stu Morgan has been dreaming of finding the lost Glory Hole Mine. His business partner and friend, Ed Jones, is less hopeful than Stu but goes along with the search for gold despite his doubts. Both friends are retired from a lucrative business. Their Sasquatch Expeditions covered every acre of the mountains and forests around Horse Tooth Mountain in northeast Oregon. They know this area, every cave and crevasse, but so far the access shaft -- the adit -- of the Glory Hole Mine has eluded them.

When Stu and Ed finally stumble upon the adit, life as they know it changes in frightening ways. Time, space, life and death are skewed as they enter another dimension. They discover a land with two suns and a perpetually full moon, an alternate universe populated by giants, where every reality is in question. Both men wonder if they'll survive the experience.

The Adit presents readers with more than just a thrilling plot with eerie twists and turns. You will also experience the joy of adventure coupled with crisp mountain air and sweet forest scents. The great locations Foertmeyer chooses for his stories add depth and substance to every work of fiction. If you enjoy tales of the unusual and impossible, this latest work by Foertmeyer is a standout.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Glee - Easy Piano CD Play-Along, Volume 30
Hal Leonard
7777 W. Bluemound Rd.
P.O. Box 13819, Milwaukee, WI 53213
9781458408396, $14.99,

"Glee Easy Piano CD Play Along: Volume 30" is a collection of 10 popular songs with easy piano vocal arrangements plus a CD of orchestrated accompaniment with "You as the soloist." Song list stars are "Defying Gravity;" "Don't Stop Believin'," "Just The Way You Are," "Landslide," "Total Eclipse of the Heart," "Poker Face," and more. Piano arrangements are easy to perform, and can be played as piano solos or as accompaniment. The CD can be used with the piano or vocal soloist, and can be adjusted to any tempo without changing the pitch by PAC and PC users. The "Glee Easy Piano CD Play Along Volume 3" is excellent solo material for the pop vocalist/pianist combo or soloist, young adult or adult.

First Lessons Voice
Michaela Nelller
Mel Bay Publications
PO Box 66, Pacific, MO 63069
97880786683697, $9.99,

"First Lessons Voice" is a practical guide for beginning vocalists, addressed to singers age 15 and up. Complete with a CD containing 10 excellent vocal exercises, good for warmup, correct vowel production, extending range, and increasing breath support. The text covers fundamentals of music briefly, including notation, rests, time signatures, and chords, triads, scales and arpeggios. There are fundamental guidelines to vocal health, including a handy initial checklist for singers to note all healthy relaxed positions conducive to proper singing technique, extremely valuable to use every time you sing. In addition to over 10 pages of vocal exercises plus recorded vocal exercises on the CD, "First Lessons Voice" includes music for four songs, with accompanying CD tracks for instrumental accompaniments. Songs listed include Amazing Grace, Wildwood Flower, Wayfaring Stranger, Willow Tree, and more. In addition to traditional folk songs and hymns, some songs are written by the author. "First Lessons Voice" is a compressed vocalist's guide to the art and practice of singing, with all the basics covered, including a brief reference to the use of piano to aid in vocalizing. "First Lessons Voice" is highly recommended as a beginning vocal self training manual for adults over age 16.

Jeff Klepper Anthology of Shabbat Evening Music
Jayson Rodovdky and Michael Boxer, editors
Joshua Wiczer, typesetter
Transcontinental Music Publications
c/o URJ Books and Music
633 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780807408087, $24.95,

The "Jeff Klepper Anthology of Shabbat Evening Music" is a collection of 26 piano-vocal arrangements of contemporary American Jewish songs that are suitable for Shabbat worship. Lyrics are written in English alphabet Hebrew, with translations in English and Hebrew at the end of each song. Songs are lilting, rhythmic, contemporary, and joyous or sad or both. Song titles include Opening Nigun, Shabbat Hamalkah, Open Up Our Eyes, Sh'ma Yisraeli, Chatzi Kaddish, Shalom Rav, Aleinu, Adonai Oz, and many more. These songs beg to be sung and taught, and their performance is sure to enhance Shabbat worship liturgy. Cantor Jeff Klepper has been aptly titled a pioneer of contemporary American Jewish music.

Go the F**k to Sleep
Adam Mansbach, author
Ricardo Cortes, illustrator
Akashic Books
P.O. Box 1456, New York, NY 10009
9781617750250, $14.95,

"Go the F**k To Sleep" is a grownup bedtime story. It may be controversial, but it certainly is popular among parents in the real world. An adult interpretation of a classic bedtime storybook, "Go the F**k To Sleep" will have anyone who has ever persuaded a reluctant child to sleep in stitches. Strikingly illustrated with children cuddling up sleepily to tigers and other slightly dark bedtime portrait interpretations, "Go the F**k To Sleep" is therapeutic for parents. Because the job of child rearing, nurturing, caring and persuading and cajoling is ginormous. It is exhausting. Only a parent who has done the drill understands completely what it means. "Go the F**k To Sleep" challenges stereotypes, opens up prototypes, and acknowledges that shared sense of failure that comes to all parents who weary of ever getting their darling(s) to sleep and briefly resuming the illusion of a life of their own. "Go the F** to Sleep" is not a bedtime story for children. It is a comfort story for the adults who love them.

Seeing Trees
Nancy Ross Hugo, author
Robert Llewellyn, photographer
Timber Press
133 S.W. Second Avenue, Suite 450
Portland OR 97204-3527
9781604692198, $29.95,

"Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees" is a beautiful collection of four stunning notecards and envelopes with color photos of parts of trees. Southern magnolia cones, immature red maple fruits, river birch, persimmon, and eastern red cedar bark, and the golden ethereal southern magnolia stigmas are featured in exquisitely delicate cover photos. Shading, color, texture, composition, and delicate living detail make these beautiful portraits of trees. The ability to isolate and present each feature is stunningly exemplified in these photo renditions. "Seeing Trees" is an exercise in Zen, in visual meditation through nature. This collection accompanies the book of the same name.

101 Popular Songs Easy Piano
Arranged by J. Latulippe
Santorella Publications
P.O. Box 60, Danvers, MA 01923
TS105, $19.95,

"101 Popular Songs for Easy Piano" is a piano/vocal collection of well-known favorites including ragtime, jazz, blues, Christmas carols, folk songs, patriotic songs, traditional spirituals and hymns, polkas, beloved classics and more. Arrangements are easy to play and read, but complete and fun for the intermediate pianist as well. Song title examples include La Donna E Mobile, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Greensleeves, Beer Barrel Polka, Jolly Old St. Nicholas, My Wild Irish Rose, and more. "101 Popular Songs" will offer many hours of musical entertainment for both vocalists and pianists, with these refreshing arrangements of well-known songs and themes.

Essential Standards Complete
Jonathon Robbins, arranger
Santorella Publications
P.O. Box 60, Danvers, MA 01923
TS140, $19.95 (with CD), $16.95 (without CD)

"Essential Standards Complete" is a piano/vocal/guitar collection of 40 songs from the three categories of Broadway & dance, jazz, and popular standards. Including a performance CD of all 40 classic songs, "Essential Standards Complete" Arrangements are written in the original keys in most cases. Arrangements are accessible to the intermediate piano performer. Some of the titles include Alexander's Ragtime Band, Fascination, I Love You Truly, and more. This collection is traditional rather than current, and provides a quick sampler of standard classics in all three categories. Hours of performing fun await the musician with access to "Essential Standards Complete." The accompanying CD is also helpful as a self teaching guide.

The Contemporary Singer
Anne Peckham
Berklee Press
1140 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02215
9780876391075, $24.99,

"The Contemporary Singer: Elements of Vocal Technique" is a masterful collection of vocal studies and information pertaining to popular music vocalists' specific needs and questions. Accompanied by a CD of 87 tracks that presents warm-ups for all voices, level 1 and advanced workouts for high and low voices, and specific exercise demo tracks, "The Contemporary Singer" presents a full array of valuable training tools and techniques that will help the contemporary singer build his/her vocal repertoire. Ten chapters are presented focusing on vocal study, breath management, the larynx, enhancing tone quality, vocal registers and blending, diction, skill mastery, practicing, maintaining vocal health, beyond the basics, and performing. In addition to all the above information, four appendices cover auditioning, practice songs (three audition songs presented), diction guide, workouts, and a glossary of terms. The author is a singer, professor, and voice teacher at Berklee College of Music, specializing in building vocal skills in jazz, pop, and rock styles of music. "The Contemporary Singer" works very efficiently as a pop vocal instruction guide, and the accompanying CD provides essential audio models for practice and training in vocal performance techniques.

Sweat, Tears, and Jazz Hands
Mike Weaver and Colleen Hart
Hal Leonard Books
7777 West Bluemound Road, Milwaukee, WI 53213
9781557837721, $22.99,

Sure to capitalize on the show choir hype generated by "Glee" and other like specials, "Sweat, Tears, and Jazz Hands: The Official History of Show Choir from Vaudeville to Glee" is a glossy definition handbook of show choir history and present performance. Studded with famous directors, choreographers, singers, dancers, actors and show choir performers, the show choir history handbook is dazzling both in color photos of action shots of performers and in content.

History coverage begins with Vaudeville and show choir tryouts, then television, rehearsal, competitions, copycats, showstoppers, or the industry of show business, the nitty gritty of budgets and tuition costs of production, the branding of chow choir, and faces of show choir today. Final chapters cover finales, "Glee" and mature productions, and the encore, or life after show choir, following successful musicians and actors careers after show choir. "Sweat, Tears, and Jazz Hands" ends with a glossary of show choir lingo, acknowledgments, show choirs of the U.S.A., regional influences, directory and index of show choirs, and a bibliography.

Both text and visual effects in brilliant photos are quite effective in this show choir definition handbook, but it also uses innovations such as a list of addresses to view noted performances in Chapter 9, All In the Name, The Branding of A Show Choir, page 111. "Sweat, Tears, and Jazz Hands" takes the prize as a definitive up -to -the -moment show choir history handbook in a highly competitive performance arena.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

The Progression Tree
Wanda McGuire
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432765460, $19.95,

For our vices, there may be no bigger enabler than our own family. "The Progression Tree: Codependency: A Family Disease" discusses addiction and its tendency to remain strong through families and generations, and how families can often enable these behaviors through typical dysfunctional styles. "The Progression Tree" presents an intriguing angle to a family history of addiction and how one can move to help break it for themselves and others.

A is for Alaska
Naomi Gaede-Penner
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 East Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064
9781617777561, $21.99,

Life is a different sort of challenge in Alaska. "A is for Alaska: Teacher to the Territory" discusses the journeys of Naomi Gaede-Penner who discusses choosing to teach in Alaska, and what she has learned in a blend of cultures and a much different landscape than her native Kansas. Thoughtful and driven reading of the divides of culture, "A is for Alaska" is a fine pick for educational memoir collections with a nod to travel and culture.

Brood of Bones
A. E. Marling
Privately Published
9780984022311, $9.95,

A blessing can easily be a curse. "Brood of Bones" is a fantasy as Enchantress Hiresha, who desires to become a mother finds that everyone in her city is getting that chance besides her, and that is unnatural. Hiresha must use her techniques to find the source of this corruption on their town and protect the women of the town from the predations that will come when their unexpected children are born. "Brood of Bones" is an excellent read of fantasy and magical intrigue, much recommended.

No Work and All Play
Roger Wagner
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432777241, $21.95,

In the seedy business of casinos, one never truly knows what to expect. "No Work and All Play: Audacious Chronicles of a Casino Boss" is a chronicle of Roger Wagner and his long history in the hotel casino industry, where he worked closely with all sorts, from the clean cut business men to the seedy Mob types. Offering a unique perspective into the goliath of the gambling business, "No Work and All Play" is a remarkable and recommended read, not to be missed.

How to be Gay in the 21st Century
David Leddick
Privately Published
9780615393544, $14.95,

Being gay doesn't mean lots of feathers and oil. "How to be Gay in the 21st Century" is a humor driven yet practical advice guide for David Leddick, Offering advice to gay men of any age, he reminds readers that they are not a label, but human beings in search of worthy love, and worthy goals with their life. With full color photos throughout of Leddick and his unique brand of humor, "How to be Gay in the 21st Century" is a strong pick for the recently uncloseted.

Navigating the Lipstick Jungle
Jane Hight McMurry
Privately Published
9780970304186, $15.95,

Confidence is sexy and makes people pay attention. "Navigating the Lipstick Jungle: Go from Plain Jane to Getting What You Want, Need, & Deserve" discusses how to push oneself forward with a powerful personality that makes connections and gets the jobs and promotions we all often seek. Encouraging brevity and intellect, "Navigating the Lipstick Jungle" is a to the point inspirational read, highly recommended.

The Cross Dresser's Wife
Dee A. Levy
Privately Published
c/o The Barrett Company (publicity)
12021 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 600
Los Angeles, CA 90025
978145678513, $16.99,

We all have our quirks, and sometimes we keep them deeply personal. "The Cross Dresser's Wife: Our Secret Lives" discusses the struggles that many women face when they learn of this particular quirk in their husbands, kept secret well into the marriage. Although by definition a sexual fetish, it is one often kept deeply secret, and Dee A. Levey offers writings on how to handle this betrayal of confidence. An intriguing look at cross dressing and why it is often kept secret, "The Cross Dresser's Wife" is an excellent pick for anyone who is struggling what to do with such a secret.

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

Desperate Housedogs
Sparkle Abbey
Bell Bridge Books
PO Box 300921, Memphis, TN 38130
9781611940503, $12.95,

Sparkle Abbey is an amalgamation of the two authors, Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter). The name is taken from combining the names of two of their rescue pets, Sparkle the cat and Abbey the dog. The authors hail from Iowa, are the epitome of their "pampered pets" series, and wish they could be writing in Laguna Beach, the setting for DESPERATE HOUSEDOGS.

In the world of murder, one has to be careful whom one talks to...especially if one is the last person to see someone alive. Caro Lamont, former psychologist who turned pet therapist after she discovered her partner and husband had been intimate with his patients, now lives happily in Laguna Beach, California. Caro makes house calls for the pampered pets in the area, many of them living in mansions with their rich owners. Caro is unlucky enough to stop at a mansion where the owner turns up dead by taser shortly after she leaves. Enter handsome and crusty Detective Judd Malone:

"Judd Malone smacked of attitude. He wore black jeans, a black leather jacket and a chip on his shoulder. He scanned the room, his baby blues taking in my overstuffed couch, easy chairs and crowded bookshelves. Thelma and Louise, perched on the windowsill, replete with tuna, opened an eye and then, unimpressed, went back to their beauty sleep. Dogbert climbed from his doggie bed, trotted over for a sniff, but then also dismissed Malone and went back to his nap."

Woods and Carter, aka Sparkle Abbey, manage to infuse this mystery with lots of Hollywood dirt, excellent advice on how to deal with recalcitrant puppies and kitties, sexual tension between the newly independent Caro and a couple of male hunks who enter her life. But the crux of the tale is that Caro is the numero uno suspect and must snoop into dangerous places to prove her innocence. A sassy and fun mystery!

Icon Feel Your Power
Bill Stackhouse
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781257897797, $16.95,

Bill Stackhouse is a writer and playwright who began his career as a scriptwriter for a multimedia production firm until his retirement. After earning a BA degree in Industrial Engineering and a MA from Wayne State, Bill worked at Ford Motor Company developing instruction manuals and training films. He went on to create training films and promotional videos for NASA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He branched out by writing seven stage plays, produce for community theater, formed the Road Show with the Vagabond Players, and then finally moved on to mystery writing. He has written the Ed McAvoy Mysteries, and the Caitlin O'Rourke mysteries.

ICON FEEL YOUR POWER features Caitlin (Kate) O'Rourke, six-one in height, raven-haired, eagle-nosed Irish lass who is a former MVP setter/middle blocker for the Pro Italian Volleyball circuit. Retired because of a blown-out knee, Kate has decided she would rather stay in Nashville. She owns the Kehough's Irish Pub, where she has an upstairs flat. She goes undercover to assist a helpless rich woman who thinks she is losing her mind because art objects are disappearing and reappearing in her house. Kate's brother Pat stops by, worried because this job involves a mob family:

"'There's nothing to talk about,' I told him. 'It's quite simple. I either help poor Allison here in Nashville or I coach V-ball for Rissa in Wisconsin.' Tapping the wristwatch on my receiver hand with the index finger of my right hand, I hummed the theme from JEOPARDY.

'Okay, okay,' he relented. 'But you keep me informed with daily reports on your findings or suspicions. And you accept my advice on how to proceed. Deal?'"

Thus Kate O'Rourke steps into a bizarre mystery that leads to power struggles between members of a mob family. Stackhouse entices readers with this excellent mystery.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Lifting the Wheel of Karma
Paul H. Magid
Point Dume Press
c/o The Overlook Press
141 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10012
9780984016068, $15.00,

In the beginning of this read we are introduced to, Joseph, our main character. We find him as a child battling the supernatural. Joseph is different, unusual, as we soon learn. We are immediately shown Joseph dealing with intense dreams, dangerous dreams that left him shaken and afraid. He had no answers but soon turned to martial arts, in an attempt to find some control and protection.

He was good at what he did, but one night he lost a fight for the first time. He was devastated, and on his way home he is involved in an accident that leaves him unable to walk. His search for healing begins and takes him to the Himalayas seeking a wise man who may have an answer. After many Spiritual journey's, soul searching, encounters of the Spiritual kind, and many years, Joseph finds his Dharma and his peace.

This story takes you into different aspects of the Spirit Realm. Although I feel some will not agree on what Joseph did, where he went, or how he handled his life, there is one thing I am sure all will agree on and that is the outcome. Joseph found forgiveness, for himself, for others, and encountered the meaning of pure love, of giving and of receiving. In his quest, he found the meaning of his life and his purpose. Although his road may not be the one I would take, or you would take, it led him to his destiny. A story of one man's journey to his Spiritual awakening. Very well written with a heartwarming conclusion.

The Invisible Ones
Stef Penney
G.P Putnam and Sons
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780388157714, $25.95,

Years ago we were stationed in Germany and it was there that I had my true first encounter with Gypsies. I remember answering a knock on the door and when opened there stood the biggest man I had ever seen, dressed in cloths I had never seen. I had not been told that there were traveling Gypsies selling their wares and this is what he was doing. I thought they were fascinating. I added that to my review to let you know I was quite interested in the way the author presented the British Gypsies, their lifestyle, their talk and their family life, but perhaps I am getting ahead of myself.

As the book begins we meet a man in the hospital who is about as confused as the reader is at this point, but soon he begins to tell his story, one that indeed weaves many ways, and draws you into a mysterious tale. You see, this man is a Private Detective, named, Ray Lovell, and one who is also part Gypsy. It seems there is a woman missing, Rose, and her father hired Ray to help find her. Being as Ray is part Gypsy, it is hoped that he will get more answers than other investigators. Ray's private life is no picnic, he is dealing with his own sorrows over a broken marriage and the author weaves this into the story giving you some insight into Ray's personal emotions.

The story continues and as it does you learn many things about the Gypsies, their lifestyle, their ways and that is really interesting and the mystery itself is not lost in that but rather it gives the story depth and realism . The characters are very well described and I found the different personalities stirred the pot of the story, adding a little of this, a little of that and coming up with quite an interesting dish. This was not the normal thriller/mystery I am use to reading, it was fresh, interesting and captivating in so many ways. Very well done, recommended

The Owners Guide to the Teenage Brain
Derek Pugh
Book Pal
4/28 Boyland Ave, Coopers Plains QLD 4108
PO Box 3422, Sunnybank South, QLD 4109
9781742840802, $14.95,

I have to say first off that the cover of this book is a drawing feature. I loved the boy and girl and definitely think it will spike some interest in this outstanding book. I wasn't sure what awaited me in this read, but having raised several children and now the grandmother of two teens I was definitely interested. I also have been reading other books concerning the workings of our brain so that helped to peek my interest. Onto the review.

I could tell immediately that author, Derek Pugh, knew what he was talking about. He did not just throw something together but his knowledge was exceptional and he backed everything up that he shared in this work. His understanding on the workings of the brain were quite evident and I felt he explained the facts in an understandable manner. Knowing what the brain needed for growth and to be healthy was very interesting. Really, have you ever thought that the brain needed water, sleep and exercise to function properly? We know the body does, but to think specifically of the needs of the brain, and just the brain, maybe not as much. .Our author also explains how our thoughts are formed and remembered. I found that fascinating.

I truly enjoyed and got many giggles over the drawings that he included. These definitely helped to bring the knowledge that was given a more realistic feel and one that a person could relate to. I could almost hear a teenager yelled to another, "Hey Joe, look you're in this picture." Our author not only wanted to reach the Teenager but felt it was important to bring the teacher and parent into the picture, good move. The tips will definitely be helpful, and the teenager will see the author is reaching out in other important ways. I noticed that he had a wonderful way of speaking to teenagers and teachers and parents. You could tell that he understood where each one was coming from and had a great interest in where they were going. He wanted them to have understanding so they could work through this process together and come out a winner. I recommend this book. Great insight awaits you in this read. Recommended.

The Meerkat Wars
H.S. Toshack
PakaMdogo Press
c/o York Publishing Services
64 Hailfield Road
Layothorpe, York 4031 72Q, United Kingdom
9780956323620, $14.95,

In this adorable tale we meet, Sheena, an ordinary house cat, or is she? Her family is taking a trip to The Dry Highlands, Baragandiri, and Sheena was not about to be left behind. After all, she had always found a way to travel with her family and this time it certainly would not be any different. Of course, a story would not have a story if something didn't go awry and adventure begins. So it is in this tail as Sheena becomes separated from her 'human' family and is thrust into a world she did not know existed., the world of the Meerkats

Sheena helps a young meerkat who has been poisoned by a scorpion and much to her surprise she is introduced to an entire tribe of the Duwara, a Meerkat tribe. Sheena soon learns much about the Meerkat and how they live. I found this information so interesting and I learned in such an entertaining way. She also learns that they are at war with the Utongo Meerkat tribe. Why? Because they each believe it lives under The One True Sun. Sheena's life becomes very interesting as she continues to learn about her new friends and must find a way to help them understand that their war is not one that should be fought. Now, several questions are hanging, does she succeed in helping the Meerkats join as one and will she be reunited with her human family?

I enjoyed this book. I did not know a thing about Meerkats and I found that I learned while enjoying a wonderful tale. The author brought the little Meerkats to life, giving them names and personalities, and showing their different jobs in the tribe. He also brought into play other animals, some friends, some foes into the tale, and showed how they were either important to the Meerkat or a danger. I loved the way our author showed how thinking and coming up with a plan, and joining forces to implement it can offset an outcome that otherwise would be disastrous. I smiled as foes became friends, evil was overcome, fences were mended as life continued in one little inch of our world. A wonderful story that is packed full of knowledge, moral lessons, and pure reading enjoyment. I give it my highest recommendation and know young and old will delight in this read.

Sometimes God Has a Kid's Face
Sister Mary Rose McGeady
Covenant House
B005H9X92A $TBA

Many times great things are wrapped in small packages, this is what you will find in this small book. It is not one story, but many stories, each the same, each different. Inside this book Sister Mary Rose McGeady shares with the reader the street life of young people in our country. How do these young people end up living on the streets? What has happened to them? Their stories are one and the same, crushing their very souls.

It is hard to imagine a mother turning out her son or daughter, or a young person beaten so often they feel they must leave their home to survive. How about the sexual abuse that takes place behind closed doors, day after day, until the child cannot take one more abuse and runs. But where do they run, unfortunately into the hands of unsavory people, waiting to prey upon the helpless for their own material gain. These stories are honest and raw, heartbreaking and unnerving, but they needed to be told, shouted from the mountain tops, and this book does just that. Thank God that these young people now have a voice.

This book is a true eye-opener and I recommend it for everyone to read. Sister McGeady runs a safe place for young people to go called, The Covenant House. Please visit their website and consider helping Sister in her quest of love. Great book! Great cause!

Craig Inglis
Illustrated by Richrd Kinsey
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463777562 $14.95

In this tender tale by author, Craig Inglis, we meet a very special dog named, Lucky. This little guy was chosen by a kind man because he wanted someone to share his life with. Lucky certainly was, lucky, as his friend taught him many tricks and they explored many places together. They grew very close and loved one another dearly. One day Lucky was hit by a car and loses one of his legs, but fear not, Lucky learns that life can still go on, just as wonderful as it did.

This is a very great story. Right from the start you fall in love with, Lucky, he indeed captures your heart. You will giggle as you see him learn to fetch, roll over and beg. The illustrations are great and really bring the little fellow to life, they captures the closeness between Lucky and his friend. Now when tragedy strikes and Lucky is hit by the car you do feel sad, but his master doesn't give up on him, or consider him useless, not in this story. Instead children will learn that if an obstacle confronts them in life, there may be ways to still come out a winner, with a little hard work and love. A very nice story with a great ending.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

The How & Why of Jewish Prayer
Israel Rubin
Arba Kanfot Press
9789659161805, $39.95,

What is the value of prayer to the Jew? "The How & Why of Jewish Prayer" is a guide to faith for Jewish men and women, as Israel Rubin seeks to bring greater light on the purpose of prayer to many Jews, the tradition and ritual behind it, and how to better capture that passion that is often lost in the synagogue routine. Complete and comprehensive in helping answering the questions that many may ask, holidays, and much more, "The How & Why of Jewish Prayer" is a strongly recommended addition to any Judaic studies collection.

Defying Mental Illness
Paul Komarek & Andrea Schroer
Privately Published
9781466382091, $15.99,

Mental illness can shatter relationships, and it may be hard to rise up and strike against it. "Defying Mental Illness" is a discussion from Paul Komarek & Andrea Schroer as they move through the challenges that are faced by friends and families of those with mental illness, that encourage doing what one can to answer illness and help those who struggle find the strength to live their lives. "Defying Mental Illness" is an useful reference and much recommended reading for health and spirituality collections.

Sally Shirley
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432779504, $11.95,

As we understand emotions we get to understand our lives. "Touchpoints" is a collection of poetry from Sally Shirley who discusses the rhythm of our lives and how we push forward and try to put our lives together. With a frankness of the world, ""Touchpoints" is a fine read with plenty to consider, very much recommended. "Good Friends": "If you weren't such a good friend/I'd proposition you myself!"//Well - //Don't ever proposition me,/Because I might say yes!//(After all, what are friends for?)

Peter Dash
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462048793, $21.95,

With billions of dollars and ill intent, there's no limits on the evil that can be done. ""Zurabia" is an action thriller from Peter Dash as he presents the struggles of Professor Adrian Sands as he finds himself with the knowledge to counteract a combined force of Islamic extremists and Neo-Nazi bankers aiming at important targets throughout the western world. Using science and thought, Sands finds time runs short and action may be needed. "Zurabia" is a fine pick for those seeking a thriller of espionage and war.

The Future
R. S. Amblee
Gloture Books
9780983157403, $9.95,

Although humanity evolves slowly, our technology is not restrained by biology. "The Future: The Five Principles of Technological Evolution" discusses technological evolution in our ever-expanding world. With plenty to ponder and think about, R. S. Amblee provides a both optimistic and realistic view of our future and the crisis that lie ahead for us all. "The Future" is a riveting read with plenty of ideas to consider.

Moon Warrior's Dream
Jesus Velazquez
Privately Published
9780615553399, $7.00,

For the honor of one's people, one may do stupid, heroic things. "Moon Warrior's Dream" is a short story set in a stylized pre-European America, following young Natayo as he has visions of terrible things. As a neighboring barbarian tribe attacks, Natayo sees his fate to rescue those taken and gain a measure of vengeance. "Moon Warrior's Dream" is a fine and unique read, much recommended.

The Saga of the U.S. Synthetic Fuels
Ralph L. Bayrer
Privately Published
9780983689935, $28.00,

As our oil supply grows more expensive and dangerous, alternative solutions must be found. "The Saga of the U. S. Synthetic Fuels Corporation: A Cautionary Tale"" discusses this company of the 1970s and their attempts to allow the United States to compete with the Middle East in oil production. Ralph L. Bayrer, veteran, and Vice President of the Synthetic Fuels Corporation throughout its existence, offers his own perspective on the organization and what it accomplished. ""The Saga of the U. S. Synthetic Fuels Corporation" is an excellent and recommended pick for those who want another perspective on the alternative fuels debate.

Fractured Persona
Harry James Krebs
Privately Published
9781461149576, $16.99,

Reality is easy to question when everything makes sense and no sense at the same time. ""Fractured Persona" follows Richard Fornek, or Daniel Curtis. Fornek believes he is an engineer, and a coma has placed him into the body of warehouse worker Curtis. Confused of what has happened, having the memories that he hold true, he tries to adapt to his new body and role to avoid being sent to an insane asylum, but soon finds Curtis was is not who he wants to be. A psychological thriller with plenty of twists and turns, "Fractured Persona" is a solid and recommended pick for general fiction collections.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

Harish Singhal
Privately Published
9780983690306, $14,85,

When one has power, the fruits of corruption seem too hard to resist. "Asoka"" is a novel of ancient India, as King Asoka converts to Buddhism, and in the process, brings the philosophy and faith to his people. A novel of the time, Harish Singhal brings a narrative touch to history and the values that he preached, and the curses he came from. "Asoka" is a fine novelization of an important bit of history that is often an afterthought to modern western readers.

Facing Demons
Ashley Sanders
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781426948015, $17.99,

As we enter deeper into our lives, the things to rip us off our path seem so numerous. ""Facing Demons" is a novel following Blake Solomon, a man who meets many people in dire need of help to pull themselves out of their lives of crime, their abused and exploited ways, their own struggles to adjust, or simply those on the road to self-destruction. "Facing Demons" is a fine novel of what destroys us and how human kindness can pull us out.

Me and My Manny
M. A. MacAfee
Privately Published
9781461139744, $9.99,

A move of loneliness proves to be a unique twist. "Me and My Manny" follows Judy Mason as she orders a mannequin of her husband as he's far away. As the mannequin arrives, it becomes the talk of the town, to the suspicions of the home bound husbands of Seattle. With a dose of humor and sex that makes for quite the entertainment, "Me and My Manny" is a fine and recommended read.

Faith, Stirred Not Shaken
Robert De Filippis
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432775278, $24.95,

Science and Religion have been opponents for many years. "Faith, Stirred Not Shaken: Exploring the Miracle Between Science and Religion" explores the philosophy between these ancient concepts that both try to define our world, as author Robert De Filippis tries to find a bridge between the two and states as times change, science and religion may find common ground once more. "Faith, Stirred Not Shaken" is an intriguing discussion of the value of faith, very much recommended.

Raymond Bial
Privately Published
9781934894385, $14.00,

Change brings the unknown, and the unknown can be frightening. "Chigger" is a novel set in the late 1950s as young girl who wants to be called Eddie comes into her town and finds a town suspicious of her. In her quest to blend in, Eddie faces many challenges and drives herself to succeed, in this heartwarming tale that is honest and not so honest about the fond memories of the 1950s. "Chigger" is an excellent and choice read, highly recommended.

On Tripoli Circle
Pat Cunningham Devoto
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466201194, $19.95,

Even in victory, there are scars that can run so very deep. "On Tripoli Circle" is a novel from Pat Cunningham Devoto as Aggie, whose father is scarred by what happened during the second world war. True to her neighborhood, she weaves a story of the shadows behind an otherwise idealized period of American history, as Aggie learns to face the truth of life when all other in Tripoli Circle want choose to be oblivious. "On Tripoli Circle" is an excellent and much recommended pick for general fiction collections.

Sun of Apollo
Darab Lawyer & Clinton Libbey
Abny Media Group
c/o Lissy Peace & Associates LTD (publicity)
97809847168077, $16.95,

Could the world changing events of 2012 be not from the Mayans, but instead the mysteries of Stonehenge. "Sun of Apollo" is a novel from Darab Lawyer & Clinton Libbey as they follow a stockbroker by the name of Darius Prince who sees clues of a prophecy that could change all they know about the world, and may meant he rise of a new empire over the world. "Sun of Apollo" is a new age thriller, very much recommended for followers of the 2012 phenomena.

Joe Dokes and The Old People of the Ridge
Paul Duey
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466272620, $14.95,

To protect the young from injustice is easier said than done. "Joe Dokes and the Old People of the Ridge" follows Joe Dokes, as he finds the daughter of a lost couple who herself had been lost for years. Sensing sinister intent that had taken her parents closing in on her, he reaches out and tries to rise up to her protection once more. "Joe Dokes and the Old People of the Ridge"" is an excellent pick for fans of modern western adventures, much recommended.

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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