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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 8, Number 6 June 2009 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

Shattered Reality
Kimberly Cheryl
Privately Published
9781440404597, $11.95,

One of the most terrifying fears of a parent is for harm to come to their child. "Shattered Reality" is an inspirational guide for parents of sexually abused children who want to help their children heal from the trauma of these incidents and in doing so, help themselves heal. Encouraging parents not to blame themselves, "Shattered Reality" is a solid pick for those who are struggling to cope with these horrible tragedies.

I'm Gonna Tell
Lori Cardille
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
0595142036, $10.95,

Childhood sexual abuse is a tragedy, and its victims must find their own ways to cope. "I'm Gonna Tell: ...An Offbeat Tale of Survival" is a memoir by Lori Cardille, who she relates her own story, enforcing her own power over her past while respecting the seriousness of the issue and the grave problems facing the world today. "I'm Gonna Tell" is uplifting and motivating, and highly recommended.

Carta Marina
Ann Fisher-Wirth
627 E. Guenther, San Antonio, TX 78210
9780916727567, $16.00,

The format of the epic poem has fallen into disuse; Ann Fisher-Wirth revives the tradition with "Carta Marina". An epic poem divided into three parts, "Carta Marina" tells the story of a cartographer who finds an old Swedish map and is inspired by it. Blending narrative and verse, "Carta Marina" is a strong choice for any poetry lover looking for something with depth to seek their teeth into.

Small Wonders
Kendra Y. Bunch-Neal
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533158782, $7.95,

A debut can say a lot, and Kendra Y. Bunch-Neal makes quite a debut. "Small Wonders: A Collection of Poetry for Children" is a collection of fine, entertaining verse aimed at young children. Very appropriate in the subject matter, "Small Wonders" is a good choice for any teacher or parent who want to introduce their children to the world of poetry. "Little Boys": Busy, bouncing everywhere/without one worry, without one care/proud to pick up anything/like crickets, spiders, or pieces of string/never weary, restless ones/always sure to have some fun/cute and curious, with adventurous joys/lovable, laughable, little boys.

Bank on Yourself
Pamela Yellen
Vanguard Press
387 Park Avenue South, 12th Floor, New York City, NY 10016
9781593154967, $25.95,

Just because the market dooms itself doesn't mean it has to take you with it. "Bank on Yourself: The Life-Changing Secret to Growing and Protecting Your Financial Future" is a guide to financial security through sound planning and using various tips and tricks to establish one's own savings. Pamela Yellen writes that consistency and security should be valued over the gambling of the stock market, and that one can regain the money one pays for various expenditures if needed. "Bank on Yourself" is a wise and sound investment guide for those who value security above all else in today's tough times.

Travels to Mayan Sites
Barbara Jane Brehmer
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533158409, $11.95,

The Mayans have captivated those with an interest in Native American history for centuries. "Travels to the Mayan Sites: An Overview with Maps and Observations" is a guide to the Mayan ruins that one can find around the Yucatan peninsula regions that spread throughout many countries in Latin America. A fine guide to this mysterious and captivating culture, enhanced with maps and charts, "Travels to Mayan Sites" is a must for anyone planning a vacation to the area, or who is fascinated by the Mayans.

The Secret in the Forest
Sheila Adam McIntyre
Infinity Publishing
1094 New DeHaven Street, Suite 100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
0741447096, $9.95,

The Boy who cried Wolf is a charming fable to everyone except the boy himself. "The Secret in the Forest" follows two young teenagers saddled with solving a grisly crime that they discovered in the forest. The police won't believe them due to their past, and out of fear of being harshly disciplined, they are silent to their parents. With no one to turn to, justice lies in their hands and they must find a way to deliver it. "The Secret in the Forest" is a fine and highly recommended novel for younger preteen readers.

It's Spellementary
Pam Thomas
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533160228, $7.95,

Spelling is a key skill when writing, but it's so often tossed aside. "It's Spellementary: Some Basic Rules for Beginning Spellers" is a guide to giving young writers what they need to get a leg up on their spelling skills. It's better to embed spelling skills into young children so that they master it now when it's elementary, and not struggle with it when they're filling our college application. "It's Spellementary" is a fine choice for elementary school teachers or parents who want to teach their children the value of good spelling.

Discover Joy
Joy Bodzioch
Discipleship Publications International
c/o Atlas Books
30 Amberwood Parkway, Ashland, OH 44805
9781577822363, $14.00,

Joy is a feeling of happiness, which so often eludes so many. "Discover Joy: Well-Being, God's Way" is a guide to good mental health through spirituality and embracing God and Jesus, with the idea that the teachings of Christ are as psychological as they are words to live by. With tips on dealing with the common mental health issues people face, such as depression, "Discover Joy" does well in inspiring readers to look to the divine for a better life.

The College Selection Compass
Rebecca J. Callow & Susan P. Nichols
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595491926, $11.95,

College is the first chance for many young adults to leave home. Choose wisely. "The College Selection Compass: Helping Families Navigate a Difficult Course" is a guide aimed at families with a future college freshman among them. Choosing the right college is one of the most important decisions a young intellectual can make, and authors Callow and Nichols want to give families all the information they need to make that decision an informed one. "The College Selection Compass" is well worth considering for those undecided where they want to spend the next four years.

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

The Panama Club
Louis Joseph Barbier
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533159925, $22.95,

What lies beyond the atmosphere? "The Panama Club" tells the story of the Canal Zone after the relinquishing of the Panama Canal from the United States to Panama. Jock Mahoney has been lead to believe that extraterrestrial beings are visiting the canal zone and wreaking havoc with its citizens. Will the first face to face encounter bring peace, disaster, or something else entirely? A unique exploration of science fiction with some fresh ideas, "The Panama Club" is a fine read all the way through.

Mortgage Defaults
Tom Duncan
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781438938479, $14.99,

There are some ways to make an easy fortune, and others not so much. "Mortgage Defaults: Short Road to Riches" is the result of the real estate world experience of author Tom Duncan. Warning readers to shy away from advice gurus who promise millions after lessons that cost thousands, Duncan gives readers no-nonsense tips on how to profit off mortgage defaults. For anyone looking to get into the real estate game, "Mortgage Defaults" is well worth the consideration.

The Last Pope
John Oster
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439206607, $14.99,

As science advances more and more, where does this leave faith? "The Last Pope: Egression" is a science fiction novel taking an interesting approach to science fiction - what will become of the Catholic Church? The protagonist is John XXIV, the 271st pope who has come to power in the twenty-second century, an era filled with human computers, time travel, and cyborg technology. Where does a man of faith have to stand in a world where science has become life? "The Last Pope" is an innovative and good read.

It's Not Where You're Going, It's How You Get There
Charles W. Shirriff
1006 Crescent Road West, Portage la Prairie, MB R1N 0Z3
9781440114915, $17.95,

There are many ways to get through life, and each of them is more strange than the last. "It's Not Where You're Going, It's How You Get There" is a collection of memoirs by author Charles W. Shirriff reflecting on his life and the unique way he cut his own path through it all. Written by a man who has been all over North America, "It's Not Where You're Going, It's How You Get There" is intriguing in a profoundly human way. "It's Not Where You're Going, It's How You Get There" is of interest to anyone seeking a good old-fashioned memoir.

The Target, 2nd Edition
J.R. Hauptman
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113
9781436309349, $19.98,

Sometimes there are people so utterly despicable and hate-worthy that they just need killing. "The Target: Love, Death, and Airline Deregulation" is the story of Carlo Clemenza, the most despised man in the airline industry. Every who works under him comes to hate him with all their being, wishing death upon him. There is one pilot, however, who is willing to do more than just wish. "The Target" is an entertaining adventure of karma and men pushed to the edge, recommended.

You Can Develop Pure Awareness
Neil Crenshaw
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432732028, $15.95,

Many people go through life with their head in a cloud, but how does one become truly aware? "You Can Develop Pure Awareness" is a guide to finding this true and complete awareness in life by blending the ideas of many philosophies alongside logic and science. Written by a man of science, this isn't a typical spirituality book and will give readers a fresh blend rarely seen in new age books. "You Can Develop Pure Awareness" is a top pick for those who don't think spirituality and science are mutually exclusive concepts.

Devil's Island
Frank de Sales
Margins Press
9780620403627, $14.00,

Just when you come to a tropical island to get away, the ultimate battle between good and evil erupts. "Devil's Island" is a black comedy tale following two young lovebirds who want to keep their relationship strong by visiting a tropical paradise. Their love will be tested as the will of Satan has chosen their vacation destination for his latest expansionist efforts. "Devil's Island" is a unique approach to the battle of good and evil, and is highly recommended.

Standing on the Edge of Tomorrow
Robert C. K. Lee
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781438908182, $14.49,

The answer exists, but it's not always obvious. "Standing on the Edge of Tomorrow: You Can Make a Difference!" is an inspirational guide that calls for people to embrace philosophy - while hard work is a solid virtue, it is not the panacea to all of life's woes. Encouraging creative thought, faith, and helping others along the way, author Robert Lee gives readers small tips to aid them down the rough road of life. "Standing on the Edge of Tomorrow" is well worth the read for those who can't find the way out but know it's there.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Faithfully Yours
Baruch J. Cohon, editor
930 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07306
9781602800199, $29.50,

There are figures in every religion who, while not figures of the scripture, are invaluable to its development. "Faithfully Yours" is a collection of writings gathered from correspondence between various individuals and Rabbi Samuel S. Cohon, a man who was a forward thinker and representative of Judaism throughout the first half of the twentieth century. Revealing the wisdom of an intellectual who did much for his religion in speaking to the gentiles as well as tutoring his fellow Jews, "Faithfully Yours" is a fine read.

Jewish Meditation Practices for Everyday Life
Jeff Roth
Jewish Lights Publishing
PO Box 237, Sunset Farm Offices, RT. Woodstock, VT 05091
9781580233972, $18.99,

A little bit of meditation does you well, no matter what your faith. "Jewish Meditation Practices for Everyday Life: Awakening Your Heart, Connecting with God" blends the traditions of meditation from Buddhism with the western Abrahamic religious faith. There is a focus on Judaism, but Jewish Meditation Practices for Everyday life is meant to benefit readers of all faiths and backgrounds, be they Jew, non-Jew, or even non-religious. A guide to enlightening one's soul without abandoning one's traditions, "Jewish Meditation Practices for Everyday Life" is a strong choice.

Cane and Able
Stephen Cheek
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
9780557000203, $23.49,

The urge to embrace the road inevitably trumps nervousness and fear. "Cane and Able" follows young Justin Cane as he tries to gain his wheels in the late 1950s. His teacher is one of his father's farmhands, and through their travels, Justin Cane learns more than just how to maneuver a vehicle; he learns about life and the harsh side of reality. "Cane and Able" is a read that will leave readers thinking.

Street Art
Johannes Stahl
H.F. Ullmann
9780841603509 $16.99

Illustrated with full color photography on almost every page, Street Art is an extraordinary, inexpensive artbook that dares to tackle the phenomena of graffiti and street art - the artistic expression of painting on urban walls and the like (ideally with permission from the property owner, distinguishing art from vandalism). This type of art has long and storied history from the images and messages of Pompeii to the colorful and elaborate spray painting of the modern day. A surprising amount of beauty and wit lies within these distinctive street art creations, revealing a world of expression one cannot so easily find in a typical art gallery. Street Art is highly recommended as an addition to any artbook shelf, and its convenient small size make it ideal for art lovers to browse on the go (unlike most other artbooks)!

How and Where to Take Vacations!
Eric Whitman
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533160129, $7.95,

The daily grind wears away at one's will to go on, and a break from it all is sometimes needed. "How and Where to Take Vacations!" is Eric Whitman's guide to finding the vacation spots in the world that are best suited to the individual reader's tastes, desires and temperament. Just browsing the lovely options in this guide can help one feel like they are beginning to recharge their batteries in a beautiful paradise! "How and Where to Take Vacations!" is recommended for those who want to get away, but don't know where to start.

The New Moon Race
Morris Jones
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 NE 58th Ave. Suite 300, Portland, OR 97213-3786
9781877058820, $49.95,

America won the first moon race. But who says there can't be a rematch? "The New Moon Race" is a scholarly examination of the most recent developments in lunar exploration. China has emerged as a potential major player in the world of space exploration, and there are many parallels that can be drawn to the Cold War-fueled original space race of 1969. This time, America's victory seems much less likely. "The New Moon Race" also discusses why America has not done any manned lunar missions in decades. An utterly fascinating read for astronomy and science buffs.

The School Board Fieldbook
Mark Van Clay & Perry Soldwedel
555 North Morton Street, Bloomington, IN 47404
9781934009444, $24.95,

Education is a tough field to lead, with a lot of things to do and little money to fund it. "The School Board Fieldbook: Leading with Vision" is a guide to being a successful board leader that does much for one's district. Outlining the challenges these leaders face, from hiring other high level personnel to spotting warning signs and taking decisive action when needed, "The School Board Fieldbook" should be required reading for any entering a school board position.

Ready to Sail, second edition
Ed Mapes
Sheridan House
145 Palisade Street, Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
9781574092714, $29.95,

Sailing can be a fun and fulfilling activity - provide you prepare properly. "Ready to Sail: A Captain's Guide to Boat Inspection and Repairs - Preparations of Boat and Crew for Offshore Passagemaking" is a guide to preparing one's vessel for sailing and how to be fully braced for the worst while expecting the best. Covering each part of the ship and its required maintenance, "Ready to Sail" is a fine and complete reference, and an absolute "must-have" for any boat owner.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Shroud of Beckoning
Deb Woody
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781418484118, $14.50,

Evil is tenacious and never goes quietly into the night. "Shroud of Beckoning" is the first entry in the Ice Water Mansion series from Deb Woody. The story follows Carla, a girl possessed by a demon called Schatten, as she meets Officer Blanton, the one man who may be able to free her from her possession. A story of demons, guardian angels, and nothing being as it seems, "Shroud of Beckoning" is a fine choice for fantasy fiction.

Transformation in Prayer
M. Basil Pennington
New City Press
202 Cardinal Rd., Hyde Park, NY 12538
9781565483088, $14.95,

Wisdom doesn't need to long winded to be powerful. "Transformation in Prayer: 99 Sayings" is a collection of 99 simple messages to inspire thought and prayer in readers. Poignant and to the point, author M. Basil Pennington presents a powerful and direct message. "Transformation in Prayer" is an ideal giftbook for Christians.

Love Blooms
Eva Swain
Avalon Romance
160 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780803499331, $23.95,

Love is a powerful thing, and can overcome much in its way in order to bloom happily. "Love Blooms" is a romance novel following Marcie Conner, a divorced single mother. She thinks she may have found her new Mr. Right in Kyle Hughes, a local police officer, but Marcie's own children frown on her new love, Kyle's family makes trouble for Marcie, and nothing seems to go right. But love doesn't give up so easily. "Love Blooms" is an uplifting novel of how affection and acceptance of that affection are things that will come.

Culturally Speaking
Mary Coons
Beaver's Pond Press
7104 Ohms Lane, Suite 101, Edina, MN 55439
9781592982394, $20.00,

Ignorance is a powerful thing - it can lead otherwise rational people to believe falsehoods like 'all Muslims are terrorists', or 'Islam promotes holy war against the white devil'. "Culturally Speaking: Promoting Cross-Cultural Awareness in a Post 9-11 World" is a guide to better promoting understanding throughout the world, emphasizing that greater understanding between nations is necessary for a true resolution to the War on Terror. So many Americans don't understand the Arab world and will accept anything they hear out of ignorance, which author Mary Coons labels as the true enemy. "Culturally Speaking" is a must read for those who want to combat ignorance with rationality and informed critical thinking.

How to Talk to Anyone About Anything
Jill Spiegel
Privately Published
9780964332577, $12.00,

Small talk is meaningless, yet at the same time essential. "How to Talk to Anyone About Anything: The Secrets to Connecting" is a guide for those who are struggling to connect with the people they need to understand the most, be they family, romantic interest, or business interests. Confidence is a key focus, as well as choosing one's words wisely. "How to Talk to Anyone About Anything" is a choice pick for those who want to improve their people skills.

Your Best You
Bonnie Grove
Beacon Hill Press
PO Box 419527, Kansas City, MO 64141
9780834124394, $14.99,

How do you really find out what you're really good at? "Your Best You: Discovering and Developing the Strengths God Gave You" is a guide to finding these talents. Author Bonnie Grove hopes to help readers cut right to the chase and start to live life as they want to. A realistic manual that realizes not everyone can do everything, "Your Best You" is a faith-based approach to self-help, executed quite well.

Marilu Norden
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
Power Promotions (publicity)
24165 IH 10 West, #217-424, San Antonio, TX 78257
9781419695612, $15.99,

Divorce has never been easy. But Reno can make it easier. "Unbridled: A Tale of a Divorce Ranch" tells the story of a divorce ranch and the one couple staying there to make their severance more efficient. Lara, mother of two, is brought to one of these divorce ranches by her soon to be ex-husband. Depressed by the turn of events, she finds strength in the other women who face a similar situation. Drawing much from the author's own life experiences, "Unbridled" is a unique novel of a rarely heard about feature of Nevada.

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

The Bridge of the Golden Horn
Emine Sevgi Ozdamar
Serpent's Tail
3A Exmouth House
Pine Street, London, England, EC1R 0JH
c/o Meryl Zegarek Public Relations
255 West 108th St., Suite 901, NY, NY 10025
9781852429324, $15.95,

In 1966 sixteen years old, she lies about her age so no one can prevent her from being a "guest worker" while she studies the Berlin theatre. Her Turkish middle class upbringing is probably more of a handicap than her age as that has left her naive because she is used to protection. However, she begins to expand her experiences when she meets members of the Turkish Workers' Association and starts to read the works of German Prime Minister Nietzsche, Shakespeare, Gorky, Engels, and others. The young woman already overcame the typical Turkish education of dumping down females so that they remain obedient of their male family members or she would not live across from the theater. Yet the older women tell her to treasure her virginity while a friend insists that leaves her ignorant of men who control art.

When she returns to Istanbul, she is considered modern because she pays her way, but continues her study of movies under a drama teacher who wants art to imitate real life like street peddlers who work the Bridge of the Golden Horn. However, belonging to a Marxist group proves dangerous as they are beaten and his works tossed into the Sea of Marmara. With toilets stopped up with leftist literature, the woman vows to leave Turkey after being jailed for allegedly abetting Kurdish separatists.

This is a fabulous translation of a great autobiographical fiction novel that brings to life tumultuous Turkey in the late 1960s when being left meant being left out as well as the role women were allowed. The story line follows the escapades of the heroine who learns so much about life in Berlin, but realizes how much when she returns to Istanbul. Apparently THE BRIDGE OF THE GOLDEN HORN is the second of three autobiographical fictions; Emine Sevgi Ozdamar provides an entertaining profound historical novel.

The Last Llanelli Train
Robert Lewis
Serpent's Tail
9781852428907, $14.95

In Bristol, England as he becomes middle aged, private investigator Robin Llewellyn drinks at the nearby pub whose regulars are losers like him. Alcohol allows him to sit in the present and not muse sadly how far he has fallen not from his dreams but with the firm he inherited and hide from his lack of a future. He once planned to be a cop, but settled on debt collecting and now earns money mostly exposing errant spouses as professional expertise at divorces has become his specialty when he gets work that is.

Currently he owes an arm and a leg and a few thousand pounds to a vicious loan shark, who will soon demand remittance. Robin has a wealthy new client, Mrs. Dixon, who he plans to bilk for more than he is worth. She wants him to prove her businessman husband is cheating on her. Mrs. Dixon demands Robin do what he must to video her spouse with his latest floozy. He knows what he must do as he arranges a tryst between the husband and a hooker that he will film. The problem is to arrange and tape takes planning that denotes future; something Robin cannot do. Even he is aware that he is imploding, but cannot change anything even his clothing.

Llewellyn is an unlikable sordid soul who is so sleazy that he fails to gain any empathy from enthralled readers even with one foot on a banana peel and the other already in the cesspool. The story line is fast-paced but almost irrelevant as in some ways THE LAST LLANELLI TRAIN is a character study of someone on the brink of self destruction. Told by Robin who is fully aware of what he is doing to himself but unable to think ahead of the consequences of his behavior. Sobering and gritty yet filled with a dark humor, readers will appreciate Robert Lewis' discerning look at a man slowly subconsciously killing himself.

Murder Takes the Cake
Evelyn David
Echelon Press
9735 Country Meadows Lane 1D
Laurel, MD 20723
1590806182, $13.99,

One week before Thanksgiving DC private investigator Mac Sullivan, a loner except for Whiskey the dog, finds his world upside down since Sullivan and Company has "grown". First, his business is in trouble needing paying customers not just bartering clients. Second, his assistant twenty-two years old Juliana "JJ" Jarrett and his elderly ailing researcher Edger are driving him crazy. Finally there is divorcee single mom Rachel Brenner who works at a funeral home and whom he is attracted to and believes she reciprocates his feelings, but he has no idea how to act on a date.

Now his about to marry goddaughter, Boston reporter Bridget O'Herlihy, visits him asking for his help as she swears someone is trying to kill her. Although he doubts this is the case, he takes the threat seriously and sends his team out on assignments. Soon the corpses pile up while the groom and his family insist she is being a drama queen; at a time her dad Jeff wonders who stole caskets from his funeral home. Mac, JJ, Edger, Rachel and Whiskey keep digging looking for the ties that bound everyone involved.

The second Murder Takes (see MURDER OFF THE BOOKS) is an amusing cozy starring an ensemble cast of eccentrics. The story line is fast-paced while containing two mysteries tied to death (corpses and coffins are like peanut butter and jelly), a maybe romance, enemy canine-feline, an out of control wedding plan, and junk cars. The characters make for a fun lighthearted frolic as Evelyn David proves in deed MURDER TAKES THE CAKE.

Cry Mercy
Toni Andrews
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778326489, $7.99,

In the Balboa Peninsular of California hypnotherapist Mercy Hollings has the mental ability to "press" people into doing what she wants them to do using her mind to coax a person. She has always struggled to control her ability because she knows it is not ethical to intrude even when you want to. Her friend Sukey has been helping her look back on her life while moving near the ocean has provided her with some solace.

Mercy wants to know why her adoptive parents eventually abandoned her. At the same time she wants to help former gangbanger chief Tino who wants to become a realtor. Tino also needs Mercy to help get his younger brother out of the gang lifestyle, but not all the punks are normal members as some come from the dark places where souls dare not go.

CRY MERCY is as always with this saga a fun but odd paranormal Mercy Hollings thriller (see BEG FOR MERCY and ANGEL OF MERCY). The story line is fast-paced but owned by the heroine who rips skin with her sarcastic retorts. Fans will enjoy the latest antics of Mercy as Toni Andrews provides an amusing refreshing beach fantasy.

Deep Down
Karen Harper
9780778326458, $7.99

In the Appalachia side of Kentucky, Sheriff Drew Webb of Deep Down calls Jess Lockwood to tell that her mom Mariah has disappeared. Only for Mariah would Jess come home as does not want to remember how much she once loved Drew.

Apparently, as part of the job her daughter got her several years ago Mariah was searching for Sang, a ginseng that is on the endangered species list. In the midst of her work, she vanished. Although Drew has no proof that foul play occurred, he quickly finds suspects who might harm Mariah as he and Jess believe her mom's being missing is linked to Sang. As they investigate together, their previous feelings ignite, but first there is finding Mariah with neither suspecting how dangerous their inquiry will soon prove.

DEEP DOWN is an action-packed, fast-paced police procedural romantic suspense. The keys to the super story line are the fully developed lead couple as the audience will feel Mariah's dichotomy of emotions of love and fear, and the location that adds a gloomy sinister ambiance. Readers will appreciate this exciting thriller as the heroine learns you can go home perhaps to die.

Thriller 2: Stories You Just Can't Put Down
Clive Cussler (editor)
9780778327233, $24.95

The twenty three tales included in this collection are for the most part excellent and timely. The anthology opens with Jeffery Deaver's "The Weapon" focusing on torture while Lisa Jackson's "Vintage Death" contains several terrific thriller twists. "The Circle" by David Hewson will indirectly remind readers of the London bombings as a pregnant woman riding the tube hears a passenger mumbling "They will remember my name." Marcus Sakey's "The Desert Here and the Desert Far Away" examines how strong the bond the band of brothers forged in the battlefields of the Iraq War survives once everyone is stateside. Gary Braver's "Ghost Writer" was once a famous novelist, but now writes stories for other people to "author" as that pays better though leaves him depressed. Finally with Carla Neggers, Joan Johnston, Robert Ferrigno, Jon Land, R.L. Stine, and Lisa Jackson amongst others contributing, THRILLER 2 lives up to its subtitle of "stories you can't put down".

6 Killer Bodies
Stephanie Bond
9780778327073, $7.99

In Atlanta the police arrest body mover Cooper Craft accusing him of being The Charmed Killer. As women feel safer going outside, his friend Carlotta Wren thinks the cops made a big error as she feels her former working peer Michael Lane is the serial killer.

Police detective Jack Terry agrees with Carlotta's assessment that the wrong man is in custody, but has doubts about Lane being the killer. Carlotta investigates, which enables her to ignore the other two men in her life, her brother Wesley who seems to land in one dire strait after another and her former fiance, Peter Ashford, who wants a second chance though he dumped her when she was down and seemingly out for the count. Cooper is out on bail but required to wear a GPS ankle bracelet. He removes the tracking device and vanishes, which enforces the opinion he is the Charmed Killer.

The full focus on the sixth Body Movers' thriller is The Charmed Killer, which will keep readers focused on the story line; as the sidebar distractions of 4 and 5 are avoided. Instead, Stephanie Bond provides her fans with a terrific entry as increasingly with every discovery Carlotta makes, Cooper is guilty; his fleeing the coop just adds to the overwhelming proof. 6 KILLER BODIES is a strong entry in the Body Movers' saga.

Red Hot Lies
Laura Caldwell
9780778326502, $7.99

In Chicago, Pickett Enterprises top entertainment lawyer twenty-nine year old Isabel "Izzy" McNeil is doing great at the job due to her spunky optimistic approach and more so because client Forester Pickett likes her so he gives her his thriving business. However, unlike her professional life, normally energetic Izzy is losing it as her marriage to Sam Hollings is coming soon.

The same day that Pickett dies from a heart attack, Sam vanishes with thirty million dollars in stock in a Panamanian real estate venture. The police want to question Sam, as the last person to be known to have been with Pickett before he died. Her relationships with both men make Izzy a prime suspect in the missing bonds and in Pickett's death. As the FBI searches for Sam and they and the CPD stake out Izzy, she begins an investigation into her fiance's whereabouts scooting on her Vespa on the mean streets of Chicago.

Izzy tells much of the exciting story line as she bikes along the Windy City seeking clues to the whereabouts of her missing fiance and to solve who committed the murder. However as she "joy" rides through the city, enough law enforcement types to fill Wrigley and thugs to fill U.S. Cellular Field (or is that the New Comiskey Park) follow her. Fans will enjoy this entertaining amateur sleuth as somehow everything converges on Iz who could use a day of f; just not in jail.

Lust, Loathing and a Little Lip Gloss
Kyra Davis
9780778327363, $13.95

A decade has passed since mystery writer Sophie Katz saw her slimy former spouse Scott Colvin. However to her shock, she runs into him at an open house in the Marina District where a, $1.4-million fixer-upper is up for sale. Her initial reaction is someone spiked her frap. Her second thought comes when Scott offers his ex a sweetheart deal; which she knows means he is hiding something from her because Scott Colvin means trouble for anyone who ventures within a kilometer of his sphere.

The Victorian house is owned by Oscar Crammer, who insists his place is haunted and is willing to let it go for practically nothing. Scott takes Sophie to the mansion where they find the house haunted by the corpse of Oscar. The late owner's son Kane also believes the house is haunted and agrees to honor his father's price quote on the stipulation that Sophie join the San Francisco Specter Society to help him contact his father's ghost. Amateur sleuth Sophie and her private investigator boyfriend Anatoly Darinsky, hired by the victim's estranged wife to prove she did not kill him, think the house is haunted by humans and set out to prove the bumps in the night are mortal as is the killler

This is an amusing lighthearted investigative murder mystery that will hook the audience on two levels. First spunky Sophie is super as she takes San Francisco while providing her first person perspective which includes plenty of in your face comments. Second is the cleverly designed seance-homicide that turns out to be a locked room murder. Kyra Davis writes a terrific whodunit starring an amateur sleuth filled with lust for her boyfriend, loathing for her ex, and needing a little lip gloss for her boyfriend.

Harbor Lights
Sherryl Woods
9780778326410, $7.99

Over a year ago the military informed former army medic Kevin O'Neill that his wife Georgia also a medic was killed in Iraq. Devastated but knowing he became a single dad, the civilian paramedic and his two year old son Davy leave Arlington, Virginia to move back to his hometown, Chesapeake Shores, so his family especially his grandma can help him raise his child.

Recently divorced Shanna Carlyle also moves to Chesapeake Shores where she opens up a bookstore on Main Street. When they meet each is attracted to the other, but she still reels from her divorce from alcoholic Greg though more because of who she had to leave behind; and he from his wife's death. Still his family starting with the lethal combo of his grandma and son along with other townsfolk begin a matchmaking campaign to pair up the reluctant ones. However, as they fall in love, her secret abusive past surfaces with the loved one she left behind arriving in town and Kevin's trust leaving.

The third Chesapeake Shores romance (see THE INN AT EAGLE POINT and FLOWERS ON MAIN) is a deep tale starring two strong lead characters and a deep support cast. The story line is fast-paced but driven by Shanna and Kevin as neither is ready for a relationship as both have issues; he feels guilt for his attraction and she has not forgotten the cost of leaving her marriage. Fans will enjoy the latest visit to Chesapeake Shores.

Secrets She Left Behind
Diane Chamberlain
9780778326151, $13.95

In Topsail Island, North Carolina Sara Weston has vanished without a trace; she left behind her seventeen year old son Keith. Worried about his mom, Keith is still recovering from his near death due to an arson fire at the church. He is also scared and angry that his nineteen year old half-sister Maggie Lockwood is being released from prison after serving one year for her role in the events that led to the fire.

Maggie is filled with remorse for her role in what happened to her half-brother. She vows to take whatever rage Keith dishes at her, though her younger teenage brother Andy, who suffers from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder yet saved many lives from the blaze, threatens to intervene. As the three siblings struggle with life in general and with each other, they each wonder what happened to Sara.

This is more than just a direct sequel to BEFORE THE STORM as several of the major scenes are recreated with a different perspective; a technique used by Elizabeth George (see WITH NO ONE AS WITNESS and WHAT CAME BEFORE HE SHOT HER) and Jean Johnson (see THE CAT and THE STORM). The story line retains the fascination of the first book as readers see closely the sibling rivalries from rotating first person perspectives and Sara's journal. Readers will wonder if the SECRETS SHE LEFT BEHIND will lead to answers as to what happened to Sara.

Busy Woman Seeks Wife
Annie Sanders
5 Spot
c/o Grand Central Publishing
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446505444, $13.99,

Marketing executive Alex Hill is too busy to worry about her domestic fiascos as she spends seemingly 24/7 on creating an ad campaign to introduce a new sportswear product line. However, ignoring her home proves futile when her flighty mother Bean falls and needs caretaker help; the former sixties model moves in with Alex.

Alex seeks a "wife" to clean the house, cook meals, and care for mom. Her friend Saffron finds her Ella, who after one day leaves without notice as she has a better offer. Instead Ella, without informing Alex, pleads with her out work actor brother Frankie to take over her position so that someone is there for Bean. He agrees and enjoys cooking idolizes Bean whom was a paper thin role model, and performs the household drudgery. Saffron and Bean hide Frankie from Alex because each believes the exec would never accept a man doing this type of work well. That subterfuge fails when Alex finds Frankie at her home; she fires him and throws everyone including Bean out. However, not only is her house back to shambles and her eating fast food, the new product launch falls apart. Frankie and his posse of pushy females want to save Alex's butt if she lets them.

Though absolutely predictable in a Lucy- Ethel harebrained way, once all the players are introduced, BUSY WOMAN SEEKS WIFE is an amusing wacky contemporary that plays on gender bending and the role of superwomen in modern society. The key cast members are fully developed with each having several flaws hyperbolized to add to the zaniness of the plot. Ironically, each key character is also very caring of the others in their relationships, which leads to a strange ethics of protecting one another even if that means lying. Fans will enjoy this madcap screwball comedy.

Bernard Beckett
Harcourt Books
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780547225494, $20.00,

Anaximander "Anax" is a student studying the history of the twenty-first century in school. She learns that century was the period of human decline as the Last War proved to be an accurate title as much of the globe was devastated and led to plague, environmental collapse, terrorism, and the end of civilization on the continents.

She also knows that the only pocket of true governance left in the world is her homeland, the Republic, an island in the Southern hemisphere modeled after Plato's classic Republic. On the verge of taking the four hour exam that will determine her future as an elitist or a drone as the test decides whether she gains admittance to the elite Academy, Anax has also serendipitously studied the outlawed works of rebel with a cause Adam Forde. She likes his stand on human rights and dignity in a society run by a strict code of conduct that bans anything deemed deviant, but especially appreciates his stance as a soldier guarding the Great Sea Fence when he did not kill a young female on a boat breaching the barrier; but Amax knows she must hide her feelings from the panel of examiners.

This is Brave New World meets Plato in a devastated world with several fresh spins as Bernard Beckett provides an intriguing philosophical science fiction tale that Huxley would have enjoyed. Anax is a terrific student historian who holds the story line together, but does so by concealing her adulation of Adam from her examiners. Fans will enjoy GENESIS as Anax learns the origin of the end of the world.

D.B. Reynolds
ImaJinn Books
PO Box 545, Canon City, CO 81215-0545
9781933417479, $14.00,

Although the government and the people know that vampires exist, for the most part mortals prefer not to acknowledge the nocturnal species and the bloodsuckers concur keeping a low profile. There are eight vampire lords, each controlling a jurisdiction while respecting boundaries to avoid a lethal vampire war. Raphael is the most powerful of the octet with thousands of loyalists calling him Master throughout his domain, the Western states in America.

Two human traitors from within storm his Malibu estate in daylight while he is away; they kidnap Alexandria, a vamp he vowed to protect with his life. To deal with mortals, Raphael hires human private investigator Cynthia Leighton, who works vampire cases. From the moment the client and the sleuth meet they are attracted to one another, but Cyn learned early in life not to believe in love, passion, or trust as they will be used as a weapon of mental destruction. Still she is determined to help the vampire lord rescue his sister.

The first Vampires of America urban romantic fantasy, RAPHAEL, is a terrific tale that if it is an indication of the series, sub-genre fans are in for a treat. The protagonist is tough yet vulnerable as she uses psychological defense mechanisms to conceal her weaknesses behind a kick butt facade. The title hero is more aligned towards typical vampire behavior as an arrogant haughty alpha leader used to obedience until his dependant is abducted showing a rare weakness and then meeting the sleuth showing that rarity is a little more common than his minion thought. The investigation enhances the fine story line as star-crossed lovers try to mount the rescue.

Rose House
Tina Ann Forkner
WaterBrook Press
c/o Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200
Colorado Springs, CO 80921
1400073596, $13.99,

Four years ago, Lillian Diamon learns that her husband Robert and their twin daughters Sheyenne and Lee died in an automobile accident. Lillian believes her sister Geena was the cause as she was having an affair with Robert and vanished just after the accident. Five days after burying her family, Lillian traveled to Rose House in La Rosaleda, California. There she sees in an art gallery a painting of Rose House, dubbed Beauty and the Beast Within from an anonymous artist; in front of the stately mansion is Lillian in all her grief.

In the present Lillian takes time off from the restaurant she works at to travel to Rose House and to learn more about the picture. She has not spoken to Geena since the tragedy as her sister knows she hates her. In La Rosaleda, when she meets artist Truman, she wonders if he painted her picture while he thinks their encounter is a private personal moment like the one he inadvertently intruded on four years ago. Meanwhile Geena desperately tries to reach her to warn her

Much of the profound character study story line is a metaphor based on how an individual sees his or her life as a portrait painted by many other people until tragedy pulls away the various masks that hides the inner soul. A spin re the car accident adds excitement to the plot but detracts from the painting concept as if someone exploded bright red onto a soft pastel. Still Lillian is a diamond (with a d) as she is summed up with the family photos at the restaurant in which everyone else have loved ones on display while all she has is ROSE HOUSE.

Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart
Chuck Black
9781601421265, $8.99

In the Kingdom across the sea, Lucius and one third of the warriors loyal to him rebelled and were tossed out of their homes. These beings are Shadow Warriors, who tempt mortals away from the Prince and King. Lucius and his minion travel to Arrethtree to gain loyal followers while the Knights of Arrethtree counter by spreading the Word of the King and Prince.

Sir Dalton is a knight of Arrethtree in training, but lacks the heart and passion of his peers. When the Shadow Warrior Sir Prox captures Sir Dalton, he locks him away in a prison no one escapes from. He plans to break Sir Dalton into disavowing the Word, the Prince and the King and when he succeeds he will have another loyal member added to his shadowy minion. Sir Dalton does the impossible as he breaks out. He meets Master Sejus who explains to him about the Code, the King and the Prince until the young knight in training feels the passion in his heart and becomes one of their most loyal supporters. He knows he must challenge Sir Prox in order to liberate the prisoners as he now believes hecan win with the Prince in his soul.

This allegory of good vs. evil is a strong tale that young adult readers and many of us older in the audience will appreciate and understand the symbolic religious significance. Sir Dalton is a doubting Thomas until his escape from the demonic shadow warrior and encounter with a true believer. He finally accepts on faith the Word and is willing to test his belief in battle. Though somewhat similar in tone to the sagas of Sir Bentley and Sir Holbrook, fans will enjoy this engaging parable.

Jocelynn Drake
Eos Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022-5299
9780061542831, $7.99,

Fire master NIGHTWALKER Mira has always understood her role as a secret weapon deployed by the ruling Triad to keep the evil Naturi from returning, but now also she knows who she is after centuries of wondering why she is so different from her vampire peers. Mira has made a shaky truce with the vampire hunter Danaus, a human although both know they are natural enemies who probably will one day fight to the death.

The ruling Nightwalker coven orders Mira to come to Venice for a special assignment. She is wary, trusting no one, not even her former mentor. Mira, Danaus who is now part of the Triad, and other members prevent Naturi Rowe from opening the locked portal that prevents his species from crossing over. However, Mira knows it is not over and that some of the Nightwalkers are betraying their kind and the humans; with only the vampire slayer Danaus apparently on her side though she doubts she can depend on him to help her.

This excellent fast-paced urban fantasy is owned by Mira, Danaus, and Venice. The city makes a great location for a dark gritty world in which the protagonist trusts no one; not even the mentor the heroine has cherished. Mira is terrific as she still struggles with self-revelations that she learned of in the first Dark Days novel, and now betrayal of those who she should be able to depend on and a survival alliance with a natural enemy the human vampire hunter. The changing of the relationship between Danaus and Mira is the heart and soul of DAYHUNTER, as anything may be creeping out of the shadows thanks to treachery, but even her new partner conceals secrets re who he is and what his agenda is as fans wonder if another seditious act is occurring.

Done Academy 7
Anne Osterlund
c/o Penguin Readers Group
345 Hudson St, 15th fl, NY, NY 10014
0142414379, $8.99,

Aerin Renning is a loner with no future; Dane Madousin is the son of one of the Alliance's most influential people and thus has a perfect future. They both attend Academy 7, the most exclusive school in the universe. For Dane it is a divine right; for Aerin it is a shocker.

The pair contends with one another for the top students at school. They share in common dark secrets in which neither reveals much about themselves to others and a competitive streak as they vie for the top student slot. Dane slaughters her in debate, but Aerin kicks his butt in sparring. When Dane breaks a rule, he inadvertently got Aerin in trouble. During their joint retention, they become friends as each slowly trusts the other with their secrets especially special talent. They fear others especially Dr. Livinski will exploit them even as an unknown adversary sets a deathtrap to destroy them and the school.

The author of the young adult romantic mystery AURELIA, Anne Osterlund provides an entertaining young teen science fiction thriller with a touch of romance in the galaxy. The battling lead couple makes for a fun duet as each sings the refrain: "anything you can do, I can do better" until they get into trouble. Readers will enjoy the somewhat gender bending escapades of Dane and Aerin as they are on the brink of being expelled from school in spite of being the top two students at the same time a nefarious deathtrap tries to keep them apart while also thinking kiss her already.

The Reluctant Heiress
Eva Ibottson
9780142412770, $9.99

In 1922, Princess Theresa-Maria of Pfaffenstein may be an heiress, but she will not inherit much more than a rundown castle. Most aristocrats would be appalled, but Tessa is euphoric, because her financial state allows her to do what she wants. Thus she works for the Viennese opera company as a wardrobe mistress hiding her royal connection from her peers.

First generation nouvelle riche English orphan millionaire Guy Farne comes to the opera house seeking a means to entertain his high society guests and his snobby fiancee. When he and Tessa meet they are attracted to one another and quickly fall in love. However, she is unsuited for him as he wants an aristocrat not a working girl as a wife. Meanwhile impoverished Prince Max loves Tessa and wants to marry her.

Though a young teen historical romance, THE RELUCTANT HEIRESS provides much more. The underlying premise throughout the complex story line is how much WWI shook up the world order; similar in tone to the excellent PBS series The people's Century especially how The Great War reshaped the rest of the twentieth century. Readers will need a bit of time to fully understand how the prime four characters feel about the new world order because Eva Ibottson has cleverly left clues about what would have been expected of each if WWI had not occurred. This is a great young adult early 1920s tale at a time when the enthusiasm of a new hope for world peace was waning into a great depression.

Nothing but Trouble
Susan May Warren
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Dr., Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781414313122, $13.99,

A decade has passed since PJ Sugar crawled like crab legs out of her hometown of Kellogg, Minnesota filled with remorse and guilt. Over the next few years, PJ found no purpose in life drifting from job to job and from trouble to trouble. She is finally coming home for the first time in ten years to attend her sister the attorney Connie's wedding to tae kwon do coach Sergei as mom broke her ankle playing tennis. She is still wearing the mantle of shame. PJ will watch Connie's four year old son Davy while she is on her honeymoon.

PJ plans to be on her best behavior while keeping her stay short. However, her intentions implode when her former teacher, Hoffman, is murdered. Police Officer Boone Buckham arrests her best friend Trudi's husband Jack Wilkes because he assaulted the history teacher. PJ investigates though she knows that will put her at odds with the lead cop her former high school boyfriend (and rabble-rouser).

This is an interesting Christian amateur sleuth starring a sort of female Uncle Buck that for the most part avoids over preaching. PJ is a fascinating protagonist who comes home to watch a nephew she never met, care for a mom in a wheelchair due to the busted ankle, work closely with her non English speaking in-laws, and solve a murder mystery while eluding her attraction to Boone with her rep as nickname NBT (NOTHING BUT TROUBLE) to live down. Readers will enjoy the misadventures of PJ Sugar who knows for sure that the person who said you can't go home came from Kellogg, Minnesota.

Veiled Freedom
J.M. Windle
9781414314754, $13.99

New Hope relief worker Amy Mallory has looked forward to being assigned to Kabul since she first began her vocation as she believes she can help the impoverish populace. However, her fantasy and reality are not even close; as a woman, even a western female, and a Christian are so restricted she can do very little. Amy hires Jamil as her interpreter as she tries to help women released from prison start over.

Condor Security's Steve Wilson heads personal security for the country's Minister of the Interior Khalid Sayef though he vowed never to return to the war scarred nation where his worst nightmare occurred. Amy and Steve meet because his employer is the one Afghan leader willing to risk his life pushing a reform agenda.

This is an exciting relevant character study that through the three prime players enables the audience to have a better understanding of Afghanistan. The most intriguing aspect of the tale is the profound look at the teachings of Jesus and Muhammad. Although "government speak" acronyms abound (ironically starting with the author's name) slowing the pace as the reader will stop to figure them out, VEILED FREEDOM is a timely insightful look into a nation devastated by three decades of war.

The Moment Between
Nicole Baart
9781414323220, $13.99

Thirtyish accountant Abigail Bennett enjoys working at Johnson, McNally & Bennett in Rosa Beach, Florida although tax season can be hectic. However, her life explodes when tragedy strikes her younger sister, Hailey. Unable to cope, an obsessed Abigail seeks closure so she quits her partnership and travels to British Columbia to confront Hailey's boyfriend Tyler Kamp.

In the Canadian winery where Tyler works, Abigail meets him. She begins to make friends with him and others employed there and surprisingly she finds she likes Tyler. Abigail also finds he cannot give her closure; only by turning to God might she find what she seeks.

The story line contains two rotating subplots: the present with Abigail in Canada and the past as she and her family relations unfold. Filled with passion, Abigail keeps the overall plot focused with her first person viewpoint and her actions in the third person perspective. Although the support cast outside of the two sisters are never lucid enough especially Tyler to understand who they are beyond how they relate to the siblings, Nicole Baart provides a deep poignant look at how mental illness takes a toll on anyone in that person's circle especially family.

Glen David Gold
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th fl, NY, NY 10019
9780307270689, $26.95,

In 1916, while Europe is overwhelmed with the devastating war, Hollywood silent movie star Charlie Chaplin is seen in over eight-hundred different locations at the approximate same time. Chaplin struggles with making Sunnyside, a picture he believes worthy of his skills but the studios prefer to repeat the same success until they drain every bloody cent from the public. He also has issues with the war as he wants America to stay out of the hostilities across the Atlantic. Finally he has his usual female problems with lovers and the most daunting woman of all, his demanding mom.

As Chaplin is spotted everywhere, Leland Wheeler goes to California with dreams of being a movie star although he calls himself Leland Duncan; instead of Hollywood he is soon heading to the western front as his status as the son of the last Wild West star offers him no solace from the German armies even though the Kaiser enjoyed the Buffalo Bill shows. Finally aristocratic Hugo Black volunteers to leave Detroit to fight under General Edmund Ironside who leads an expeditionary force into Russia just after Lenin takes power. Soon all will converge.

Packed with many real persona from the War that ends all wars era, SUNNYSIDE is a complex historical fiction that sub-genre fans will need plenty of time to read. The story line contains seemingly a cast that only Cecil Demille and Glen David Gold could keep track of as there are a multitude of subplots even more than the three prime themes above. The profound kaleidoscope ultimately comes together as Hollywood goes to war with a celebrity cast; who for the most part never ventures outside Southern California, but are true patriots; as Chaplin, Wheeler and Black know first hand.

Censoring an Iranian Love Story
Shahriar Mandipout
9780307269782, $25.00

As Shahriar turns fifty, he is tired of his futile attempts at writing a strong novel only to have the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance censor the guts of each one. It is so bad he knows exactly what Pofiry Petrovich, as he calls his official hound, will find objectionable, which usually guts the story line.

Shahriar decides to try an upbeat optimistic tale, a love story set in modern day Iran. He begins writing how Sara and Dara meet at the library and fell in love. However, Iranian Campaign Against Social Corruption forbids this couple being alone; their parents object to their being alone; and other family and friends also oppose their being alone. Still they defy the government, the religious leaders, and their parents by serendipitously meeting wherever they can. However, as he writes his classic, Shahriar realizes how much trouble he could be in; he begins censoring passages, ripping out the heart of his novel. Yet he still tries to sneak some scenes of the couple together without chaperones into the plot (the theme of his novel) by having his lead couple suffer remorse and ruin at the end hopefully making it morally acceptable by the Iranian literary cop.

This translation will be considered one of the top satires of the year as Shahriar Mandipout uses censorship to tell a story of romance in modern day Iran, but could be in almost any place as for instance the political corporate media complex assaults those with an opposing view. The story line is super as Shahriar the fictional author edits his work by crossing out what he expects deleted, which guts his writing. Fans will relish this excellent use of romance to lampoon censorship.

The Wildwater Walking Club
Claire Cook
c/o Hyperion Books
77 West 66th St., New York, NY 10023-6298
9781401340896, $24.99,

In Massachusetts, Balancing Act Shoes is downsizing and decides that fortyish Noreen Kelly is redundant. They offer her eighteen months of salary and career counseling, which she accepts. On her first day of work freedom, Noreen tries to call and email her lover Michael, whose company conducted the reduction at her firm, but he fails to answer her; she knows silence denotes she has been dumped. She finds daytime TV boring so she goes to her former place of work and using her employee discount for no reason she can fathom buys enough walking shoes to fill Imelda Marcos' closet.

Noreen begins walking and soon meets her neighbor Tess the teacher who is lonely as her teenage daughter is not speaking to her. They begin walking together and meet Rosie, who owns the big house at the top of the hill. She joins them as they form the Wildwater Walking Club with over 10,000 strides every morning on the nearby beach walk. They talk about their woes everyday. Tess hopes to reconcile with her daughter before she goes off to college; Rosie feels overwhelmed with too much responsibility and Noreen feels under whelmed with no responsibility. They become friends with one another and others like a cancer victim in New Orleans and unemployed Rick who especially likes Noreen.

The WILDWATER WALKING CLUB is an engaging look at the importance of friendship as each of the three women finds walking as a catharsis because they have someone listening to their personal concerns, fears, and gripes. There are several other subplots involving other people, but those detract from the main theme of a friend in need sometimes only need simple acts like listening. Readers who enjoy a celebration of friendship will want to walk the beach along side the Wildwater trio.

Wit's End
Karen Joy Fowler
c/o Penguin Group, USA
375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014
0452290066, $15.00,

In Santa Cruz, California, twenty-nine years old Rima Lanisell visits her godmother mystery writer Addison Early at the latter's oceanfront house Wit's End. Addison is extremely popular for her Maxwell Lane mysteries, but is somewhat a recluse. Her former boyfriend Bim is a recurring character in her novels even as she mourns his recent death; as does his daughter Rima although the latter grieves her brother much more although he died four years ago.

For every one of her mysteries Addison creates a dollhouse display of the prime murder scene. However, as her deadline comes closer, she has not started her prototype. Meanwhile Rima has gone through years old correspondence especially fascinated by those involving Constance Wellington of the Holy City cult stronghold, and the dedicated online discussion boards to learn the truth behind the Maxwell Lane novels; she is shocked that even she is a subject of fan discussion. The more she learns about her godmother, her father, and others; the less she understands.

The storyline focuses on how much change has occurred in communications due to the Internet as once an author and a fan might relate one to one, but now a fan can communicate with many other fans instantly. Addison is a terrific character who brings a sense of ironic humor to the mix while her fab fans dissect every comma in her seeking nuances of universal truisms. Rima is not as likable as her godmother, as she wears her grief as armor, but she is the catalyst with her slight probing into the past. WIT'S END is an engaging profound tale with a wry wit that makes the case fame is no longer fifteen minutes since the Internet makes celebrity status seemingly eternal even when the hits stop coming.

Strange Angels
Lili St. Crow
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th fl, NY, NY 10014
9781595142511, $9.99,

Sixteen years old Dru Anderson is used to traveling around; never staying in any place for more that a couple of months. Her father trained her as his sidekick killing deadly supernatural creatures and once the mission is accomplished the pair would pack up and move to the next monster nest; some of these otherworldly beasts have no English word. Her Granmama taught her mostly in dreams and occasional rare visits how to be spiritually psychically stout. As for her mom, there are the curls.

Everything changed for Dru in the Dakotas the night her Granmama died. Dad acts strange as he goes out on the mission alone. When he fails to come back alive, Dru has to confront realities. The only two people in her life are dead within twenty-four hours of each other; and though she thought she was a pro at hunting, she realizes she knows nothing about what they hunted beyond her extrasensory gift of the "Touch" and even less about surviving in the mundane world. First she must live through the night as she knows mortal teen boys and creatures from beyond have caught her scent; she is not sure which is more dangerous to her existence, but then again there is her dad's killer stalking her too.

The key to this terrific young adult fantasy is the supernatural creatures seem genuine with the representatives of a variety of species possessing differing personalities beyond just their basic "natural" needs. Dru is fabulous holding the story line together in a first person viewpoint as she is a typical teen with a special skill and a radically different childhood than the norm. Fans will admire Dru and her two new associates Christophe and Graves who risk all in a battle against deadly foes who should not exist in the wintry Dakotas.

Travis Thrasher
Faith Words
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, NY, NY 10017-0010
9780446505581, $13.99,

Horror writer Dennis Shore is extremely popular with his novels always making the bestseller lists. However, since his wife Lucy died several months ago, he has struggled with making coffee let alone writing. After driving his daughter Audrey across the country to her college in California, Dennis has come home to a lonely empty nest overlooking the Fox River.

He is desperate as a deadline is coming soon, but he has nothing. That is nothing except a manuscript sent by a fan. Dennis sends in the work as his; it becomes published with incredible critical acclaim. The author Cillian Reed is irate that his hero stole his work. Cillian wants what he deserves and harasses Dennis who feels his life is in jeopardy as much as his reputation, but what to do to remove the horror that threatens his existence is met with the same paralysis he suffered with writer's block.

This is an exciting tale starring an intriguing lead character whose morale anchor died when his wife passed away. Dennis is a terrific protagonist who knows he is doing wrong but cannot stop himself from passing Reed's manuscript off as his. The story line for the most part is fast-paced even though the jumping back to the relationship between Dennis and his then alive wife can be confusing and detracting. Still Travis Thrasher hooks the audience with this fine tale somewhat mindful but much more psychological suspense than the movie A Murder of Crows.

Salty Like Blood
Harry Kraus
Howard Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
1416577890, $13.99,

David and Joanne Connors accompanied by their seven year old daughter Rachel travel to Tippins, Virginia to visit his ailing father. However, during the visit Rachel vanishes. The local police investigate and with no evidence of foul play conclude the child most likely drowned in the nearby Chesapeake River; When David asked what happened to her corpse, the cops proclaim the river took the body out to sea. Joanne accepts the verdict of a tragic accident as she needs closure anyway she can get it; David rejects the ruling.

As David persists in his belief that his daughter lives, his marriage already weak even before the accident collapses. His medical practice also begins to fall apart as David obsesses on finding his child who he believes was abducted. He soon uncovers an identical case, which fuels his obsessive drive to rescue his child and punish her kidnapper.

This is an exciting thriller based on a parent's worst nightmare, the disappearance and probable death of their child. The parents are super characters as David changes from fun loving caring dad to an aloof person keeping his distance from everyone (even readers) with only his Somali neighbor Amina able to somewhat reach him; and Joanne hides her feelings of vulnerability with a cold armor of "realism". Although there are too many spins including a couple of cul de sacs, fans will appreciate this strong family drama especially David's final paranoid over the top theory (or is it as sometimes the paranoid are right) on what happened to Rachel.

Yesterday's Embers
Deborah Raney
Howard Books
1416593098, $13.99

On Thanksgiving Day, Kaye DeVore and her five years old daughter Rachel died from monoxide poisoning. The grieving widower Doug understands the irony of their deaths as an EMT he has warned about the hidden dangers of monoxide poisoning. However, he has no time to mourn as he must raise five children with the oldest Kayeleigh being only twelve.

Mickey Valdez knows the DeVore kids and their late mom as she runs a day care center that include the family's youngest Harley. As Doug struggles to make enough money to support them, he relies heavily on Kayeleigh to take charge of her siblings while also is always late for picking up his kid from the daycare center. Mickey takes Harley home and Doug invites her to join his family with their take-out meal. Harley, Sarah, Sadie and Landon are thrilled to have Mickey eat with them, but Kayeleigh resents her. When the two adults meet at a wedding that Doug wanted to skip but Kayeleigh insisted on attending, the townsfolk sense a spark and begin matchmaking though Kaye is only gone less than three months and the tweener resents the intrusion.

This is an interesting family drama in which six people struggle with a sudden death of two loved ones when the patriarch begins courting another woman. The story line is character driven as the kids react differently to Mickey entering their lives and she and Doug have major doubts as each knows it is to soon for him and his children. Though somewhat similar in tone to REMEMBER TO FORGET, the poignant reactions of the children refresh this deep inspirational Clayburn, Kansas novel (see LEAVING NOVEMBER).

Gold of Kings
Davis Bunn
Howard Books
9781416556312, $24.00

In Palm Beach Sean Syrrell owner of Syrrell's Galleries knows that killers are after him; this is why he suddenly fires his beloved granddaughter Storm. He proves right the hard way when someone snuck into his basement of Steinway's and sprayed him with a toxin that killed him. Shortly after his death, events he anticipated and planned for resulted in the release from a Barbados prison of treasure hunter Harry Bennett. His instructions include protecting Storm, who has found some interesting odd items in her grandfather's safe deposit box. Combined with what Harry knows, they conclude Sean has sent them treasure clues from the grave.

When ancient Jewish historian Josephus' Copper Scroll of Qumron is found in Israel; it includes a list of Temple treasures not previously seen on Titus' Roman arch. They are joined by US Treasury agent and INTERPOL agent Emma Webb on a quest to find the GOLD OF KINGS even as governments, religious groups, and others try to prevent their success any way they can including assassination if need be.

GOLD OF KINGS is a seat of your pants thriller mindful of Indiana Jones; filled with false leads and non stop action, readers will enjoy the escapades of the lead trio as survival is not enough any longer with each having a touch of biblical gold fever. Since the threesome quickly learns friends prove false, they trust no one except the "guiding" spirit of Sean who each feels is with them somehow as everyone else has an agenda. That agenda is a key ingredient to the plot with some wanting to claim the treasure and others wanting it destroyed before it becomes publicly known. Fans will enjoy joining the global treasure hunt for the Temple's gold.

Seattle Noir
Edited by Curt Colbert
Akashic Books
PO Box 1456, New York, NY 10009
9781933354804, $15.95,

These fourteen Noir entries that focus on Seattle are all well written with most being super. The stories can be divided between historical and recent/current as the city has dramatically changed from a kick butt blue collar port city to a white collar ethnic diverse urban center which is home to giant corporations. For instance, before coffee was king, rum was king. The comparison between the fourteen contributions clearly captures that seemingly radical turn around, but in fact the short stories show the slower pace of change starting with Boeing in the 1950s. Mr. Colbert breaks the book into four segments. "Gone South" contains four tales that look deep into ethnicity. "What Comes Around" includes three entries that focus on modern day moral issues? "Love Is a Four Letter Word" has three tales pf how love can go wrong even in a perfect setting. Finally the last chapter includes four shorts that take the audience "To the Limits" that not everything is kosher. My favorites are the historical entries such as "Paper Son" by Brian Thornton who looks deep at late nineteenth century corruption and the retribution tales of the last section as we all at times want to see someone else get what is coming to them. All of the tales are fun as the city proves a perfect location as the "Center of the Universe" (by Robert Lopresti) for a Noir collection as affirmed by these consistently strong but differing contributions.

The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie
Alan Bradley
Delacorte Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780385342308, $23.00,

In 1950 in a remote English village, eleven years old Flavia de Luce the chemist plots revenge against her pain in the butt snobby older sisters, Ophelia and Daphne. However, her considerations of various poisons while she should be sleeping are interrupted when an angry volatile redheaded stranger confronts her widower father Colonel de Luce in the cucumber patch. Wanting to know more, the expert keyhole listener pays careful attention and learns that the newcomer accuses her father of stealing a valuable stamp, which led to a schoolmaster committing suicide. Though she knows her dad is an avid collector, Flavia has a problem with him being a thief; her sisters perhaps but not dad.

Soon after the accusation, the stranger dies in bed. Inspector Hewitt arrests the Colonel for murder. Flavia insists to Hewitt that she witnessed the spat, but he ignores her as a child of the culprit. With the help of battle fatigue victim Dogger the gardener, Flavia investigates that is when she is not lacing poison in Ophelia's lipstick or hiding Daphne's book.

THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE is a superb young adult historical investigative tale starring a brilliant sleuth who apparently proves to be a chip off the old block; her late mom that is. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the great chemist concocts plans to poison Ophelia's lipstick and never slows down as fearless Flavia investigates the stamp theft and its related two homicides. Her asides are worth the admission price as Alan Bradley introduces readers to a wonderful anti-heroine tweener.

Whispers of the Dead
Simon Beckett
9780385340069, $26.00

Forensic anthropologist Dr. David Hunter still recovering mentally from his near death experience (see WRITTEN IN BONE) decides to leave his London home to spend time at Tennessee's renowned Body Farm where his mentor Tom Lieberman is the director. Tom asks David to assist him on a particularly diabolical murder in a nearby cabin in the Smoky Mountains. David hesitates as he has doubts about his skills in reading the CHEMISTRY OF DEATH following his recent Scottish fiasco, but reluctantly agrees.

The fascination in this gruesome murder is the culprit's understanding of forensics; the killer made sure the entire crime scene left nothing that the death readers could interpret. The investigation turns personal when team profiler Alex Irving is abducted most likely by the same predator. David concludes a brilliant serial killer is targeting the investigative team with booby trapped corpses, body exchanges, and redoing the homicide scenes to give wrong data. Now this lethal forensic expert chooses to hunt Hunter.

This is a terrific forensic investigative thriller starring a hero who struggles with confidence as his last case still haunts his psyche and a cold blooded killer who seems to know forensic science as well as the police experts do. Throughout the fast-paced story line, the culprit provides small insights to the schemes to kill and fool the investigators. Thus when Hunter becomes the focus, the super plot spins into a cat and mouse game in which Vegas will place the killer as the prohibited favorite. Filled with suspense, WHISPERS OF THE DEAD is a fabulous entry as David gets a rude welcoming to America.

Tim Maleeny
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590585740, $24.95,

After going out on an early retirement former San Francisco homicide detective widower Sam McGowan looks forward to rest and relaxation. When his odious landlord Ed Lowry takes a swan dive from a twentieth story window at the Golden Towers Apartment, Sam plans to remain out of it. The brass pressure Sam's former partner Danny Rodriguez to declare it officially a suicide, but he has doubts.

Danny asks Sam on his first day of retirement to conduct some informal inquiries with his twentieth floor neighbors. Reluctantly Sam does and learns everyone seemed to want Lowry dead; no one is mourning his loss. However who amongst the sandwich shop owning Siegel brothers whose store sells drugs; elderly widow Gail; Shayla and Tamara who are paying for grad schools through illicit webcam activities, and a few other players would actually kill the nasty punk.

Readers looking for a wacky San Francisco whodunit will want to JUMP into this amusing mystery. None of the suspects hide their disdain for "dead Ed", which is a bit of a surprise for Sam as usually people avoid making nasty comments about the departed. The cast is zany bringing alive the eccentric charm of San Francisco as Tim Maleeny provides an amusing whodunit.

Frederick Ramsay
Poisoned Pen Press
9781590586358, $24.95

Picketsville, Virginia Sheriff Ike Schwartz is relaxing at the Delaware shore on a vacation when a former associate at the CIA Charlie Garland asks for his help. Charlie wants Ike to investigate the disappearance of his niece's fiance, Nick Reynolds. Charlie agrees to make inquiries though he wonders why Charlie did not go to official channels

A former US Navy pilot, Nick left a strange voice mail message just before he disappeared over Chesapeake Bay. Ike begins to find frightening information that makes the sheriff wonder if the missing aviator observed a threat to national security that required his being eliminated or going underground.

CHOKER is an exciting investigative thriller that freshens up the Schwartz police procedurals (see STRANGER ROOM) with the CIA connection. The story line is superb as Ike delicately balances espionage agents, military brass, and cantankerous civilians. However, when the tale returns to Picketsville where Frank Sutherlin is acting sheriff, the plot loses steam as his inquiry into high school students conducting satanic rites subtracts from the prime investigation. Still with great characterizations and a fascinating main plot, Frederick Ramsay provides readers with an entertaining Ike Schwartz mystery.

A Little Learning
Jane Tesh
Poisoned Pen Press
9781590586501, $24.95

In Celosia, North Carolina private investigator Madeline Maclin is excited over opening her new private investigative office. However, she is also under immense pressure to accomplice two divergent deeds. First she has one week to resolve a riddle left in a will for a client, Nathan Fenton who, if Madeline succeeds, will receive a major inheritance. Second she needs to paint a picture also within a week so that it can be exhibited at a gallery.

Already overwhelmed with work, Madeline accepts an opportunity to teach art at the local elementary school. However, to her surprise Amelia Lever, an elementary school teacher detested by faculty, administration, parents and students, is murdered. Madeline's inheritance case and the teacher's homicide are tied together by of all things collectible cards. When her new spouse con man turned bookstore employee Jerry Fairweather is attacked over those collectible cards, Madeline struggles to learn what is going on and by whom?

The third Madeline Maclin cozy (see A HARD BARGAIN and A CASE OF IMAGINATION) is a fun lighthearted Tarheel romp starring an eccentric cast. The story line is over the top of the Great Smokey Mountains, but no one will care as the inexpedienced Madeline connects the dots while Jerry tries to behave in the small town. Filled with zany characters, fans of the series will enjoy assisting Madeline as she tries to solve Uncle Elijah's riddle, Amelia's homicide, and the collectible cards assault that seem tied together yet with no link.

The Last Queen
C.W. Gortner
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780345501851, $14.00,

In 1492 with the conquering of Granada, King Fernando and Queen Isabel have united Spain and kicked out the Moors. Their thirteen year old daughter Princess Juana is proud of their achievement. However, to strengthen their control of Spain the royal couple begins to marry their children to other regal offspring to forge alliances via political marriages. Thus Juana's older sister Princess Catalina becomes wife of England's Henry VIII.

She waits her turn, but when it comes she is upset and asks her parents to reconsider as she has never met the Hapsburg Empire heir, Philip of Flanders. It does not matter how she feels as she is sent from her homeland. To her shock, Juana and Phillip are attracted to one another from the start and fall in love. Years later with heirs and spares, Juana shockingly becomes heir to the Spanish throne; she must act cautiously in order to avoid upsetting her spouse or her parents while both sides tug on her allegiance; others understanding her situation try to take advantage by manipulating the two sides to gain royal favors at her expense.

THE LAST QUEEN is a terrific biographical fiction novel bringing to life the sister-in-law of Henry VIII; via his first wife. Juana is caught in the maelstrom of political intrigue that leaves few survivors; her troubles are compounded by lies and betrayals. C.W. Gortner captures the era in which even a princess cannot avoid swimming in a cesspool filled with woman-eating sharks.

The Late, Lamented Molly Marx
Sally Koslow
9780345506207, $25.00

Thirty-five year old upper class mom of a precocious preschool daughter Annabel, Molly Marx led a divine life until her battered corpse is found next to her bike near the Hudson. She arrives at Duration holding station in limbo unaware of what happened to her. As she awaits her afterlife fate, Molly watches the investigation by NYPD into her death.

Though it could have been a horrific accident or even suicide, the Manhattan detective Hiawatha Hicks believes murder occurred and look closely at everyone associated with Molly. The prime suspects range from her cheating spouse plastic surgeon Barry; her demanding catty mother-in-law Kitty; the victim's lover Luke; her twin Lucy; her best friend Brie; and a chorus line of Barry lovers particularly his latest Stephanie who all want to be wife number two even before Molly is buried. Escorted by Bob the spiritual guide, Molly returns to Manhattan to insure her loved ones especially her child are okay and to learn why someone wanted her dead even as she recognizes her faults.

THE LATE, LAMENTED MOLLY MARX is a terrific paranormal police procedural seen mostly through the eyes of the dead victim. Molly is fabulous as she holds the earthy and after life plots together. Readers meet the suspects through Molly's lens; for instance her twin comes across grieving and deranged, her child misses her mommy, her spouse deserves the Wilt Chamberlain award for scoring; and Brie and Hiawatha seem attracted to one another. Although the ending is not quite as powerful as the visits to the celestial and Upper West Side neighborhoods, Sally Koslow provides a deep character driven crime thriller.

Return to Me
Christy Reece
9780345505439, $6.99

Last Chance Rescue (LCR) Enterprises founder Noah McCall "owns" Samara Lyons as he dominates her dreams although they live in separate states and she has no hope of really making it with him as his demons going back to childhood have left him heartless. When he arrives in her hometown in Alabama, she is stunned as the real person is even better than her memorable fantasies. Noah pleads with Samara to assist him in his efforts to rescue kidnapped girls snatched by online predators. Samara agrees to be the bait and goes undercover to identity the culprits.

Nothing goes as planned. Instead of capturing the criminals, they kidnap Samara. They torture her as Noah's past threatens the woman he always loved; he is willing to die to free his Samara.

The second LCR thriller (see RESCUE ME) is an exhilarating romantic suspense starring two kick butt champions in love, but his childhood leaves him unable to form a relationship. Fans will root for this couple as they play chess with nasty villains who have no compunctions about killing innocent civilians as the sex slave market is a lucrative recession-proof part of the global economy. Although their escapades are not new, fans will relish their dysfunctional relationship and look forward to the next thriller in the LCR saga, RUN TO ME.

Beach Trip
Cathy Bolton
9780345505996, $25.00

In the 1980s, Mel, Sara, Annie and Lola met at Bedford University in Mount Clemmons, North Carolina. They became friends, but after graduating from the liberal arts school went their separate ways. Mel became a mystery novelist living in New York; Sara is a part-time Atlanta attorney; Annie has become a Nashville businesswoman; and Lola married rich. Each is forty-five years old and they are meeting for the first time in over two decades on Whale Head Island in North Carolina's Outer Banks at the exclusive Wild Dunes resort, owned by Lola's husband.

As they enter middle age, each of the women has pressing relationship issues that weigh heavily on them. Lola depends on drugs to cope with her manipulative spouse. Annie recognizes how terrific and caring her husband is and their kids are, but still obsesses over a tryst with a married professor at Mount Clemmons. Sara worries about her ailing son while detesting her marriage and envying Mel's Manhattan lifestyle. Mel is a bit jealous of the others being still married as she has tried and failed twice yet also understands herself as the truism of her last novel "I'll Sleep When You're Dead" describes her husbands in her mind.

Although midlife crisis group encounters have been the theme of many novels including one by Cathy Holton (see REVENGE OF THE KUDZU DEBUTANTES), Mel with her Manhattan kick butt armor brings freshness to the mix. As the week passes, the four friends change from sipping tea to drinking tequila as they share their angst, guilt, and failures leading to a subtle strengthening bond. Fans will enjoy this engaging character study of middle age women in crisis who at the end of their BEACH TRIP learn they can do more than endure and survive, they can thrive.

The City & The City
China Mieville
9780345497512, $26.00

The corpse was found near a skating rink ramp in somewhat seedy Beszell. All the curious spectators knew she was murdered just by looking at the award angles of her body. Extreme Crime Inspector Tyador Borlu leads the investigation that he assumes is a simple homicide.

He soon learns the victim is Mahalia Geary, which makes him reconsider the simplicity of her murder. She was the leading proponent of a theory that a third unseen city she called Orciny co-exists in the same physical space as that of Beszell and affluent Ul-Oomaof. Her belief and that of her supporters was this other locale filled the vacant blind spots between the co-located "twin" cities. As Geary's cohorts mysteriously begin to vanish, Borlu reexamines Geary's theory because increasingly the evidence points towards a third party conspiracy cleverly manipulating the biases of the two known urban centers.

THE CITY AND THE CITY is a fantastic police procedural parable as brilliant fantasist China Mieville makes a strong case as to how far groups will go to keep the comfort zone of their social order. The story line is fast-paced with the audience accepting the existence of two "cities" intermingled but separate; sort of like the Bronx in the 1970s where a bus line would go from the burned out slums of the south to the affluent estates of the north. .Readers will appreciate this hyperbole as maintaining the illusion of belonging is more critical than economic and social realities. A tale of two cities and perhaps a third too, this is a great whodunit that will have readers pondering what psychological devices we employ to "protect" our places in society.

What Would Jane Austen Do?
Laurie Brown
Sourcebooks Casablanca
c/o Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Rd, #139, Naperville, IL 60563
9781402218316, $6.99,

Recently dumped by her cheating fiance, Eleanor Pottinger is an expert on Regency aristocratic fashion. She is currently working as a designer for a Jane Austen festival during Regency Week. However, she is bit taken aback to find her room at the old inn is preoccupied.

Nonplussed Eleanor meets the ghosts of sisters Mina and Deirdre Cracklebury. The trio negotiates a deal in which Eleanor will go back to 1814 to prevent a deadly duel between their brother Teddy and Lord Shermont in exchange to them introducing her to Jane Austen. As she and Shermont flirt outrageously with one another, Eleanor must decide between sense and sensibility; she needs to choose either the active sex of a lifetime or a passive meeting with a writer even as she considers WHAT WOULD JANE AUSTEN DO?.

Though Jane is a minor player, Eleanor and Shermont are wonderful leads and the ghostly sisters great support as Laurie Brown provides a whimsical time travel romance. The story line is fast-paced and filled with twists. This is Eleanor's tale as she tries to make the right choices considers her mantra: WHAT WOULD JANE AUSTEN DO? In this situation.

The Price of Sanctuary
Gaylon Greer
Medallion Press, Inc.
1020 Cedar Lane, No. 2N, St. Charles, IL 60174
9781605420585, $24.95,

History professor Shelby Le Cervoisier is forced to get involved in a mission for the U.S. Caribbean Basin Task Force in Haiti. However, the task falls apart and she is raped before she manages apparently to kill her assailants, complete her mission, and escape. Shelby accompanied by her younger sister Carmen flees for the states.

Her contact with the U.S. Caribbean Basin Task Force cannot allow a loose end that could point back to a rogue operation so two assassins are sent to kill Shelby and anyone else as collateral damage is authorized. Vlad the Impaler heads to Arizona while Hank Perkins travels to Arkansas, the two likely spots Shelby would run back to. Hank catches up to her and decides she is an innocent who should not die. He takes her to a farm in Colorado knowing Vlad is coming for her and will gladly kill Hank too.

Fast-paced from the moment the plane from Haiti lands in Homeland, Florida and never slowing down, thriller fans will enjoy THE PRICE OF SANCTUARY. The two assassins are yin and yang as the sisters are fortunate who first finds them. Ironically Hank actually describes the major detractor when he (and readers) wonders how an upper class academia could do what she did in Haiti (not explained) especially compounded by what happened to her when she is captured at the onset of the mission. Still fans will enjoy the High Noon battle between two federally paid hitmen.

Dangerous Lies
Anna Louise Lucia
Medallion Press
9781934755082, $7.95

Following the death of her father grieving twenty-four year old Englishwoman Marianne "Mari" Forster vacations in Rabat, Morocco so she can visit her paternal roots as her grandfather lived in the city. Nearby in the Sahara, thirtyish Alan Waring removes a smart card from a laptop held securely by a corpse. When worldly Alan and naively Mari meet, the attraction could light up the entire Atlantic coast of the country. After they make love, he leaves for home to deliver the smart card; only he grabs her bag instead of his.

Soon after he is in the air realizing his blunder, terrorists kidnap Mari. They rendition her taking her to Algeria as they seek the smart card. Meanwhile Alan has returned to North Africa seeking Mari and the card.

This engaging desert romantic suspense is a fun tale especially when the lead couple heat up Northern Africa. The story line is fast-paced when Mari and Alan couple, but slows down when they are apart even when she is held hostage. Thus fans who enjoy a fun contemporary romance with elements of intrigue will enjoy DANGEROUS LIES, but also need to understand the thriller elements never take charge nor anchor the plot, and in some ways feel more a detractor. Still the lead pair make for a fine African romance.

The Promise
TJ Bennett
Medallion Press
9781933836966, $7.95

In 1525 near Pavia in the Lombardy region, mercenary Gunter Behaim has made one friend, Martin who, before he dies from a battlefield wound he took for his brother in arms, asks him to marry his betrothed. Reluctantly Gunter makes the death bed pledge while musing about fate as he never had pals distrusting everyone due to a life of betrayals until Martin befriended him.

Alonsa Garcia de Aranjuez is attracted to Gunter who proposes marriage in place of Martin. She rejects his kind offer as she was cursed by a former lover, the gypsy Miguel ten years ago in Spain. However, as danger mounts, Gunter and Alonsa begin to fall in love while he tries to at least keep her safe and persuade her to let him complete Martin's death bed wish.

This fast-paced sixteenth century romance is a terrific tale due to the "conflict: between the fully developed lead characters. Whereas she fears love, he loathes love. His vow and her curse are like the immovable object meeting the irresistible force. Loaded with action and adventure, readers will enjoy THE PROMISE wondering throughout if love will prove strong enough.

A.W. Hill
Counterpoint Press
2117 Fourth St., Suite D, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781582434988, $25.00,

Just outside Los Angeles, three suits abduct twenty year old Katy Endicott, a member of a Jehovah Witness' Church. Her father Church Elder Silas hires private investigator Stephan Raszer to rescue his daughter.

A cult expert and shaman, Raszer finds evidence the seemingly pious and pure young woman has become a sex slave to a group with Middle East connections that recruits over the Internet via a role playing game. Using modern technology and his extrasensory perception skills Raszer tracks Katy from California to New Mexico to a point where Turkey, Iran and Iraq connect. There awaits him on the mortal plane an impregnable ancient fortress run by someone the locals fear as the "Old Man"; who also awaits him on the spirit plane.

Although the religious dogma detracts from the Raszer investigation that turns into a rescue mission built on a prayer, NOWHERE LAND is a tense odd thriller due to the New Age elements. Stephen is a fabulous hero as he follows clues that lead to a tri-focus where occult power is strong; perhaps greater than his shaman knowledge can deal with, but a young woman is in trouble. The blending of role playing over the Internet to an occult sex slave market adds an interesting twist that anchors the tale somewhat in the mortal plane. Fans of role playing games, who burrow so deep they ignore plausibility, will enjoy the aptly titled NOWHERE LAND as Raszer excitingly confronts the Old Man.

David Hagberg
c/o Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765317957, $24.95,

When their Russian business deal appears to be falling part, Americans Patti and David Monroe fly to Moscow to resolve the dispute. They are greeted by their Russian partners with a gun fired point blank into David's head and Patti is abducted; they calmly inform her to cooperate or join her spouse.

The Russians take her outside Moscow demanding, $20 million for her release; failure to deliver will result in her execution. As the FBI works closely with the Russian MVD, they begin to uncover an even more insidious scheme as the kidnappers-murderers plan to use the money to buy nukes for their Al Qaeda associates to bring a worse 9/11 to America.

The back cover explains BURNED is "inspired by the true story of Yvonne Bornstein" who along with her husband were kidnapped in Russia in the 1992 for "Eleven Days in Hell". The story line is fast-paced from the moment their hosts murder David and never slows down. Although the metamorphosis of Patti from middle class businesswoman to super warrior seems unlikely, fans will relish this stirring thriller as the Russians are known for hunting down kidnappers at the cost of the life of the abducted.

No Warriors, No Glory
Harold Coyle
0765318970, $25.95

US Army Captain Nathan Dixon is still limping from his war injuries and suffering nightmares as he does a tour at the pentagon. Colonel Kaplan reminds him that the army runs on Vince Lombardi Standard time, which means "if you're on time, you're late" before Dixon meets with the Chief of Staff General Stevens, who adds him on to his staff at a time when the army struggles with two brutal wars and radical transformation.

Nathan is assigned to review a friendly fire incident. Having been in combat, he understands the harrowing chaotic fog of war leads to mistakes in spite of the military emphasis to eliminate these deadly errors; he also knows his probe is not to pin accountability in order to punish someone, but to determine the cause, ascertain if it is systemic, and come up with CALL lessons learned to remove any future errors. The incident was caused by an unmanned ground combat vehicle (UGV) during a test; a type of war machine he does not know anything about. He obtains an education on vested interests as the C.O. knows his career is teetering; the manufacturer contractor does not want production on hold as he will be unemployed; and the victim's peers prefer to conceal the truth mostly Dixon assumes out of fear of retaliatory ends to their careers. Dixon understands his mission is to uncover the truth, but no one cooperates.

This is a terrific timely look at the modern army through the eyes of a career officer still suffering from PTSD whose current assignment is more difficult in many ways than combat because his brothers and sisters in arms do not want to talk. Fans will make comparisons to the Pat Tillman tragedy that raised awareness of friendly fire incidents, but Dixon's case is different as this inquiry is into a training event involving drones. This super military investigative thriller provides a powerful glimpse at the modern military in which increasingly means NO WARRIORS, NO GLORY or salutes to Congressional Medal of Honor recipients.

Frozen Fire
Bill Evans and Marianna Jameson
9780765320087, $24.95

Just off the Caribbean island of Taino, under the sea bed is a gigantic amount of the only known truly clean fuel methane hydrate. The owner of Taino, affluent businessman Dennis Cavendish has plans to sell the crystalline methane hydrate though the upfront capital investment is tremendous and the danger not just to the workers but to the planet is extremely high.

The endeavor begins with the construction of Atlantis, an undersea complex from where Cavendish will begin tapping into the methane hydrate bed. Early signs look promising but ecoterrorists led by save the earth activist Garner Blaylock kill the scientists and crew, and release into the ocean the poisonous methane killing thousands instantly. Blaylock knows what he and his female team is doing as his goal is to rid the earth of pollutants, which in his brilliant but mad mind means human extinction. If the leak is not capped ASAP, he will get his wish. Scientist Dr. Sam Briscoe, security expert Victoria Clark, and some Feds struggle to close the hole in the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.

The follow up to the exhilarating Category 7 is a fast-paced action thriller that seems timely with energy and environmental issues in the forefront of global lifestyles. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and never slows down as the insane genius Blaylock believes strongly that humanity must die to cleanse the planet while Sam, Victoria and others desperately try to save the world. Eco-thriller fans will relish the latest from Bill Evans and Marianna Jameson.

Twilight of Avalon
Anna Elliot
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781416589891, $16.00,

Morgan LeFay's granddaughter Queen Isolde struggles with the powers she inherited from her infamous ancestor and her father Mordred. With the murder of her spouse, the king of England, she knows his loyal men will suspect her of sorcery due to her roots. She also knows there will be an ugly power struggle to initially determine who leads the army and subsequently fill the throne. She feels ill because she will see the bloody fights twice; before and during. Her advisors urge her to marry so she can be protected, but she abhors the idea especially since she still grieves her loss of three days.

The apparently most powerful of the warriors fighting for the crown is Cornwall King Marche, who plans to marry the queen to solidify his hold though he is also attracted to her. Isolde tries to end his courtship, but Marche refuses to listen. When the beleaguered queen meets mercenary prisoner Trystan, she learns she is unsafe from Marche, who forces her to marry him. However, Isolde and Trystan flee the castle with Marche in pursuit.

This is a fascinating Arthurian tale that retells the often retold story of Isolde and Trystan. The emphasis is on political intrigue though there are paranormal moments. Part of the intrigue is caused by Trystan who throughout remains an enigmatic shadowy champion; perhaps antihero might be more descriptive. However, Isolde comes across as either incompetent or a moron as she remains dense and oblivious that something is wrong in her inner circle while her loyal supporters keep getting assassinated. Still this is an interesting fantasy told from her perspective, which ironically affirms her enemies are right that someone else needs to be on the throne for the sake of the kingdom.

The French Gardener
Santa Montefiore
9781416543749, $15.00

Freelance journalist Miranda and her spouse David accompanied by their children move from London to Gloucestershire in Dorset although he still works in the big city; she dreams of writing a novel without the city distractions. As David spends increasingly more time in London and away from their home Hartington House, Miranda and the kids struggle to adjust to rustic life; she misses all the glamour and glitter of London while the kids have no earthly idea how to play outdoors when they are used to monitors.

Frenchman Jean-Paul arrives searching for his lost love Ava Lightly whose family once resided in the home that David and Miranda bought. He brings with him a simpler lifestyle especially his love of gardens as he tells them how his Ava loved the feel of rich earth; his cheery optimism is infectious as the kids and Miranda enjoy their time with him as if he a kindhearted Pied Piper.

This is a well written profound tale in which the garden serves as a metaphor of life. The story line is divided into the four seasons with the garden different each time as is a person through the years. This story is poignant due to the wise aging title character who flashes back to the spring of his life so that the audience learns what happened to him and his Ava. Fans will appreciate Jean Paul's wisdom as it is never too late to hug a loved one even if the person you cherish has passed; the good memories provide strong mental hugs.

Roadside Crosses
Jeffrey Deaver
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781416549994, $26.95,

The Chilton Report blog, owned and operated by Jim Chilton, opens up a discussion thread dubbed Roadside Crosses, which questions why an accident occurred on the spot where two roadsides intersect. The teens were going home after a graduation party; but two died, one was hospitalized and driver Travis Brigham hardly had a scratch. On the blog, everyone attacks Travis holding him responsible for vehicular homicide.

He becomes the victim of a cyber war in which each part is uglier than the previously horrific segue as people accuse him of all sorts of crimes. Tammy Parker was kidnapped and thrown into the trunk if her car, which he drove into the ocean at high tide; she was fortunate to be rescued. She said Travis did it Another female almost died from poisonous fumes; she tells the cops Travis did it.

California Bureau of Investigation agent Kathryn Dance investigates Travis, but when she tries to see him a second time, he is gone. As more people on the blog claim Travis attacked them, Kathryn applies her kinesics expertise to separate the lies from the truth in hopes of catching Travis before he kills again; he knows if he is caught he has no prayer as the evidence is extraordinarily overwhelming.

Jeffrey Deaver, author of the great Lincoln Rhymes mysteries, has another hit series with the Kathryn Dance police procedurals (see THE SLEEPING DOLL). The protagonist seems genuine because she makes mistakes even with her being the department's expert on reading body language. As she follows clues that seem to inch her closer to the perpetrator, she must deal with her mom being arrested for a mercy killing while also coping with the Blog attacks coaxing politicians to pressure her and other cops to catch Travis. There are plenty of red herrings and misdetections as Mr. Deaver provides an intriguing high tech thriller; that besides an exhilarating cat and mouse murder investigation looks deep into the influence of blogs.

Paper Butterfly
Diane Wei Liang
Simon & Schuster
1416549579, $24.00

No longer working for the Ministry of Public Security, Wang Mei knows from experience how slippery a slope she walks as an "information consultant"; private investigators are prohibited in China. Guanghua Record Company CEO Peng Datong hires Mei as a "consultant" researching the disappearance of his pop superstar Kaili. She vanished following a highly regarded performance at Beijing's Capital Gymnasium.

Mei finds Kaili's dressing table filled with cigarettes and pills, but it is the letters and a PAPER BUTTERFLY the sleuth finds that interest her. Apparently, Kaili has a long distant sweetheart. As the migrants leave Beijing to work in the provinces, Mei follows Kaili to Dashanzi where the workers live in abandoned factories while in the city. Meanwhile pressure rises on Mei to drop her investigation with only Police Detective Zhao helping her. At the same time, Mei feels guilty when a former student Lin returns to Beijing after her release from remote East Wind Lao Gai Camp where he was educated and purged of his inflammatory role at the Tiananmen Square demonstrations.

Though readers will know instantly which side of the Tiananmen Square human rights debate that Diane Wei Liang is on, fans will enjoy this modern day China private investigative thriller. Fascinatingly Wang being an information consultant is mindful of Mosley's Easy Rawlins who also could not be a professional sleuth in 1960s Los Angeles; adding depth to her fall from grace is her former peers and her family scorns her for quitting her prestigious job to go capitalist. The story line focuses intensely on China for instance the drop in acceptance of migratory workers to second class with the professionals like Datong taking over the city. The story line is somewhat leisurely flowed as the emphasis is on the culture and human rights.

Back to the Coast
Saskia Noort
Bitter Lemon Press
37 Arundel Gardens
London, W11 2LW, United Kingdom
9781904738374, $14.95,

Single mom Maria struggles to make enough money to take care of her children while trying to make it as a singer. Her boyfriend is not helping her as his depression only adds to her stress especially since she is pregnant with his kid. Reluctantly Maria chooses abortion as she cannot afford another mouth to feed.

Not long afterward, she is kicked out of her house and begins receiving anonymous ugly letters accusing her of being a whore and a baby killer. The police offer no help. Accompanied by her children she flees back to coast to the family home where her sister and brother-in-law were residing only he left his wife; a place with memories of her mom's insanity and he dad's aloofness. To her chagrin, her stalker follows and is not easing up on a campaign of terror.

Mindful of the Fontaine role in Hitchcock's Suspicion, fans will enjoy this deep family drama that focuses on "loving" ties that smother and destroy. The story line starts off a bit slow as Saskia Noort introduces the reader to Maria and her feelings of being trapped and overwhelmed by her responsibilities. The tone dramatically changes after the abortion as does the beleaguered heroine who has regrets and guilt but soon fights for her sanity as much as her physical safety. Fans will enjoy this suspenseful dark look at choking relationships that never allow one to breathe.

Name to a Face
Robert Goddard
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780385342179, $15.99,

Eight years ago, landscaper Tim Harding moved to Monte Carlo following the death of his wife. His best client is Barney Tozer, who has given him investment advice. When Barney's Uncle Gabriel dies, he asks Tim to do him a favor that he will be greatly compensated for. He wants Tim to go Cornwall where his uncle died and has placed his estate in auction. There he wants Tim to bid on a ring that he swears Gabriel stole from his father. Tim reluctantly agrees as he feels guilty over having an affair with Carol, the wife of his benefactor.

Tim tries to do his assignment only, but is stunned with the drowning death of journalist Kerry Foxton who looks like Hayley Winter whom he met at the Tozer family home. He also learns the ring is gone; someone stole it before he could bid on it. As he begins to dig deeper, Tim begins to learn the tragic lethal centuries of history of the ring.

Filled with the usual Robert Goddard zillion twists and spins that never let the reader or Harding settle back into a comfort zone, NAME TO A FACE is an exhilarating suspense thriller. The story line in some ways feels like a seven day tour with Sunday being Monte Carlo, Monday in Cornwall, Tuesday in the Scilly Isles, etc. Although Harding is not an engaging "hero", fans will be hooked just like he is wondering what is going on and whether what has happened remains plausible. This is another terrific tale as Mr. Goddard keeps the tension high throughout.

Taming The Fire
Sydney Croft
9780385342278, $13.00

Agency for Covert Rare Operatives (ACRO) assigns Special Agent Trance to bring in Mistress Ulrika "Rik" Jaegar because they want to use her shapeshifting power and to prevent her former employer Itor Corp from capturing her. He understands she distrusts anyone ever since she was snatched as a child from her tribe of therianthropes who believe they are beasts in human flesh and changed by those who abused her. He also knows the importance of his mission as she is a danger to herself and others.

In London Trance visits an underground club notorious for extreme sex. However, he never expected to fall in love with her while seeing her vulnerability that she hides behind a wall of hostility. As they battle for domination, one must become submissive, but both have savage beasts raging inside while Itor is coming to retake what they insist is theirs.

The exciting "stormy' adventures of the ACRO agents continue as Trance and Rik battle for sexual supremacy in an exhilarating entry. Filled with BDSM, the story line focuses on the changing relationship between Trance and Rik while their common enemies stalk them. Although the plot references past tales and includes leads from them that will be difficult for new readers to follow, fans of the ACRO saga will enjoy TAMING THE FIRE as it burns you.

Windless Summer
Heather Sharfeddin
9780385341875, $14.00

The townsfolk of Rocket, Washington depend on summer when the windsurfers and tourists invade to make a living. However, the WINDLESS SUMMER has kept many of the visitors away and has driven off residents and shut down business. The Jemmet Motel overlooking the Columbia has been empty and the owner widower Tom Jemmet fears he may have to close.

Tom's soul is filled with ghosts that haunt him starting with his late wife and with the living especially his twelve year old autistic daughter Sienna. Others hide damaging secrets too such as Charlene the kind mail clerk who helps with Sienna and the vet Dr. Lauren who conceals her love for father and daughter. However each shares the same abysmal no hope for the future.

That changes starting with the man from Idaho staying in room six. In that room strange happenings begin. Some will call it fate visiting; other the supernatural; while some proclaim divine or devilish intervention. Whatever, the truth is it starts with the weird accident in room six that makes the local news only to be picked up nationally. Soon the town and its motel are flooded with people wanting to stay in room six arousing the darkest fears and secrets of the townsfolk starting with what happened to Tom's late wife.

This exciting small town suspense thriller effortlessly blends psychological and supernatural elements into a fast-paced character driven tale. The audience will appreciate the switching points of view especially that of Tom, Lauren, the reporter, and to a lesser degree that of Sienna and Charlene. The outside horde that invades the town is treated initially as welcome bags of money, but soon considered unwelcome detriments. Fans will enjoy this intriguing story wondering what happened to Tom's wife and why he behaves guiltily as if his punishment for what is mostly unknown (but guessed) is penance for life.

Burning Wild
Christine Feehan
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th fl., NY, NY 10014
9780515146233, $7.99,

Leopard shapeshifter Jake Bannaconni's memories of his parents are that of unloving cold and abusive; only his great-grandfather showered him with genuine affection as the lad can smell a lie. He learned early on they would never love him as he knows why they had him, but Cathy and Ryann underestimated how much power their offspring has compared to them.

Jake's pregnant former girlfriend Shaina Trent is in a tragic car accident with another vehicle containing a new bride Emma Reynolds. Everyone dies except Emma; the fetus she carries, and the fetus Shaina carries. The paramedics at the scene deliver healthy Kyle, Jake's son. Perhaps it is the tragedy, but Jake and Emma share a connection so he persuades her to move into his place where she nurtures his offspring Kyle. However, she may not be safe as his odious parents have plans for their grandson.

The opening sequence in which readers see first hand how his parents treat Jake sets the tone of a strong urban fantasy romance as the abused neglected child becomes the adult. Emma is terrific as she displays patience with Jake and showers Kyle with love as if he is her child; in fact as Jake observes she treats both their kids as her own. Fans will appreciate this deep shapeshifting tale as Christine Feehan is at the top of her game with Jake's saga.

Till There Was You
Lynn Kurland
9780515146240, $7.99

In present day London, Zachary Smith is bone weary tired of unreasonable clients like Viscount Franbury who he would like to shove down the man's throat the architectural drawings, but fears the designs might be ruined. He also is weary of women like the client's cunning nasty sister Lady Beatrice Smythe-Gordon. Finally he is weary of the paranormal especially those matchmaking ghosts who haunt him. Zach plans to call his "former" boss to tell him what is coming his way and quits.

Zach walks through a door at Artane and finds himself sharing a dungeon with Mary de Piaget, a thirteenth century relative of one of his modern day ghosts. Zach having performed in reenactments has no major adjustment to the era, but has problems with his vow of no women as he is instantly attracted to the cross dressing Mary; whose father has arranged for her to marry as he can no longer delay the inevitable. Being a student of history, Zach understands he must be extremely careful not to change anything, but when someone tries to kill Mary using poison, he brings his beloved into his time; not knowing that the past never goes away.

This is an amusing time travel romance starring a terrific fully developed hero whose good intentions present and past are devastated by love. Mary is a strong person who takes to the role of liberated woman with ease as she was a forerunner prototype back in 1258. Fans will enjoy their fast-paced adventures as he learns finally how not to get out of the rain but to enjoy the rain from his beloved teacher Mary who lives life to the fullest.

Captive Of The Beast
Lisa Renee Jones
Silhouette Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373618101, $5.25,

On an island off the coast of Texas, Dr. Laura Johnson creates a vaccine to help young people control their special skills; something she understands first hand as her parents trained her to hide her extrasensory mental abilities to read, sense danger, and do telekinetic things. However, she is worried that the new boss Captain Walch is malevolent with plans to exploit the kids. Her reward is incarceration on her island as her skills prove right that he is a minion of the evil Darkland Beast demons.

Knights of White William Rinehart and his team arrive to rescue the research scientist and the kids. A demon warrior Rinehart finds himself with a new struggle beyond controlling the beast inside him; he is attracted to Dr. Laura, who he has sworn to keep safe yet wants to release the inner beast. However, the situation escalates for him when he realizes she has paranormal abilities and wants him too.

Though similar in tone to previous Knights of the White romantic fantasy (see BEAST OF DARKNESS, BEAST OF DESIRE and BEAST WITHIN), this is a terrific thriller due to the lead couple. She is a courageous dedicated heroine and he is a brave lost soul who knows his future is so bleak he cannot proclaim her as his. The story line is fast-paced, but the paranormal subplot takes a back seat to the relationship between the knight and his medical research scientist lifemate who shares his desire.

From The Mists Of Wolf Creek
Rebecca Brandewyne
Silhouette Nocturne
9780373618125, $5.25

Hallie Muldoon decides to return to Wolf Creek after her late grandma bequeathes her the family farmhouse where Hallie remembers having spent great times growing up whenever she stayed there. However, still grieving her loss since only a month has passed since her grandma died, she ignores a Starry Night that van Gogh would appreciate. However as she drives on the two lane road in her sporty red Mini Cooper S, she sees a large black wolf.

Aunt Gwen greets her at the farm. Gwen has hired Trace Coltrane to repair the farm. However, soon inexplicable things begin to occur to include a stalker; with each incident the large black wolf appears ready to keep Hallie safe. Hallie begins to wonder if the strange occurrences including the wolf might be tied to her mom's death several years ago.

This is an intriguing romantic suspense thriller in which the audience will wonder if the threat is psychological or paranormal as hints of both surface throughout the fine story line. Hallie and Trace are a wonderful pairing as she wonders just who he is. Although the ending is too fast and abrupt, fans will enjoy learning the secrets FROM THE MISTS OF WOLF CREEK.

Back To Life
Linda O. Johnston
Silhouette Nocturne
9780373618132, $5.25

During an assault with four other Angeles Beach SWAT officers, Trevor Owens is shot in the neck. The murder suspect Jerome Marinaro somehow escapes seemingly vanishing in thin air. K9 officer Skye Rydell saves his life by using her Valkyrie powers on Trevor because she senses he must complete something still on earth.

Skye knows she is also attracted to the SWAT officer, but avoids him because she fears he suspects his life was saved by paranormal means; something she keeps secret. However, Trevor has not forgotten his angel nor her dog (Bella) whom he knows saved his life somehow. He also believes he has things left to do on earth starting with following up on his attraction to that mysterious female.

Fans of paranormal romantic suspense thrillers will enjoy this engaging police procedural due to the actions and reluctant reactions of the lead couple towards one another. In fact Skye's mixed feelings of wanting Trevor and avoiding him make the tale fun to read as she comes across so human in spite of her Valkyrie powers. BACK TO LIFE is a well written romantic thriller.

Jaguar Night
Doranna Durgin
Silhouette Nocturne
9780373618118, $5.25

Agents of the Atrum Core arrive near Meghan Lawrence's ranch seeking the evil tome the Liber Nex. Sentinel Jaguar shapeshifter Dolan Trevino also arrives at her ranch to protect Meghan and to insure the evil Atrium Core does not find and take the ancient book.

However, Meghan rejects Dolan's offer of protection, as she holds his group culpable for the death of her mother, a Sentinel, two decades ago. In spite of her refusal to accept his safeguard offer, he remains diligent. As they fall in love, she keeps reminding herself her mom a Sentinel died protecting that book while the group failed to keep her safe as they promised.

Although the plot feels a bit thin, JAGUAR NIGHT is a terrific urban fantasy romance due to Meghan, who rejects anything Sentinel as her memory is they failed her mother. The story line is totally driven by the lead couple from the moment Dolan comes to Megan's ranch to keep her safe and she tells him to leave. Fans will enjoy his efforts to keep the woman he loves safe and her efforts to keep the man she loves out of her life.

The Midwife's Glass Slipper
Karen Rose Smith
Silhouette Special Edition
9780373654543, $4.99

She left Corpus Christi where her life fell apart as her marriage ended in divorce and her work as a nurse ended with a lawsuit. Emily Diaz obtains work as an obstetrical nurse practitioner at the Family Tree Health Center in Lubbock, a practice run by single dad Dr. Jared Madison. The pair feels an attraction from the onset, but neither moves on it sharing doubts about relationships at this time.

However, as she begins to help him care for his three year old twin daughters Amy and Courtney, each reconsiders their feelings for the other. However, her past surfaces in Lubbock leaving her to wonder if it is time to move on again though this time her heart will break as she loves the Madison trio.

THE MIDWIFE'S GLASS SLIPPER is a fabulous medical contemporary romance starring a courageous female whose past keeps making her future look grim and a single father who understands his kids come before his needs. The relationship between this couple changes over the course of the well written story line as Karen Rose Smith provides a deep and enjoyable tale. Fans will enjoy reading this special edition.

Ashes of Midnight
Lara Adrian
Dell Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780440244509, $6.99,

Millenia ago a craft containing bloodthirsty savage aliens landed on earth; the newcomers were able to mate with the native women who had a special Breed mark somewhere on their body. Their offspring, always male, became the first vampires. The deadly Ancients endangered humanity forcing their sons to kill them. The Order recently learned that one of the Ancients survived and his grandson Dragos is using him to make more Gen-X vampires that he can control.

Andreas Reichen is on a mission of revenge ever since the corrupt Enforcement Agency killed his brethren. He kill the Enforcement Agency involved until there is only one left behind their leader Wilhelm Roth, blood bonded to Andreas' former lover Claire Roth. Though Andreas knows she is the only woman he ever loved, his feelings for her will not prevent him from enacting vengeance even if that means he dies. Claire, who thought her Andreas was dead, refuses to help him commit suicide, but is determined to assist Andreas and the Order take down her Blood Bond. Unable to control his fire skills, Andreas saw his death through the eyes of a child. Claire knows the only way they can be together is if she follows him into hell.

The sixth Midnight Breed tale is a fantastic urban fantasy that moves the overarching story line forward while containing a strong internal plot. The protagonists are star-crossed lovers who each believe they have no chance for a happy ending. Filled with action and romance, fans of the series will relish this keeper, placing it along side the other five tales.

Seducing an Angel
Mary Balogh
9780385341059, $23.00

Widow Cassandra Belmont needs a wealthy lover with a high peerage as a protector immediately if she is to survive the accusations that she murdered her spouse; she also vows that marriage is out of the question as once was enough. Watching how kind he is to his sisters, she chooses Lord Stephen Huxtable, who is rich, nice and a hunk.

Cassandra plans to seduce the top catch of the season. Stephen is excited when he first sees the siren, but refuses to bow to her terms of engagement as he has his own. The two argue over the rules until they share the greatest night in either of their lives. Cassandra fears her heart is owned by Stephen, but she can never have him permanently as scandal is her name. Stephen is reconsidering what he wants as he no longer is thinking mistress, but instead wants her as his wife though he fears she will never trust again especially since he investigates what happened to her and her spouse.

The fourth Huxtable Regency romance is a fast-paced tale of an independent widow going after what she desires while her choice reciprocates unaware of why she rejects marriage. Mary Balogh digs deep into the effect of alcoholism and spousal violence on the victim who also contends emotionally with a miscarriage. The lead characters especially the profound brave heroine and their evolving relationship make for an intriguing finish to the saga though the ending feels rushed. Still the Huxtable family saga has been an entertaining Regency series.

At Last Comes Love
Mary Balogh
9780440244240, $6.00

Five years ago, Lord Duncan Pennethorne caused the scandal of the decade when he jilted his fiance to run away with her sister-in-law. He stayed away from London until now. His grandfather has written him to find a wife in fifteen days or he will inherit nothing but a name. Desperate not for himself but for four years old Toby, Duncan moves into the home of his mom and stepfather as he has a fortnight to marry a proper spouse.

At a ball, almost thirty and obviously on the shelf, Margaret Huxtable flees an unwanted suitor only to crash into Duncan. He quickly realizes she is perfect to satisfy his grandfather, but she proves to be a stubborn spinster. As he courts her and she rejects him, they become friends and soon fall in love. As each reveals their past secrets, they find hope in each other's arms until his scandal re-explodes. With her extended family in their court the lead couple believes love will bring justice to those who unfairly were punished and those who should have but were not.

The third Huxtable Regency romance (see FIRST COMES MARRIAGE and THEN COMES SEDUCTION) is simply great as the story line takes a deep look at values that were powerful in the early nineteenth century and remain so today. The lead couple is a delightful pairing of two intelligent caring souls who try to always do the right thing even when the cost is their reputation. Fans will enjoy this superb entry while awaiting the last single Huxtable tale to be told.

First Family
David Baldacci
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446539753, $27.99,

In DC First Lady Jane Cox hires former secret service agents turned private investigators Michelle Maxwell and Sean King to rescue her abducted twelve year old year niece Willa, who daringly was kidnapped following a birthday party at Camp David; her mom, sister-in-law to President Cox was killed in the assault. Jane chose the pair because she knows they get results as King saved her husband's life when he was a senator.

The evidence makes no sense to the sleuths as it points to a lone cowboy, an Alabama sexagenarian. They cannot see how Sam Quarry swiped a First relative from under the noses of the Secret Service. Everything they learn about him points to his being so obsessed, Sean and Michele believe he is willing to die; but they remain ignorant why he is so fixated on the First extended family. Meanwhile, Michele still shaky from the near death experience in SIMPLE GENIUS, is reeling with the death of her mom and so Sean fears she will be no use when he makes his concerted effort to save the First tweener.

Though the plot seems unlikely, David Baldacci makes it feel plausible as he hooks the audience from the onset and never loosens his grip until the climax. The story line is fast-paced form the moment the attack occurs and never takes a breath even when the focus is on Michele's personal issues and doubts. Thriller fans will fully relish FIRST FAMILY as the action keeps on coming and the tension growing.

The Secret Speech
Tom Rob Smith
Grand Central Publishing
9780446402408, $24.99

In 1956 at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Khrushchev claims Stalin was too paranoid leading to unnecessary fears throughout the country. He wants to loosen the controls so people can breathe without fear of being sent to a Gulag. However, THE SECRET SPEECH gets out and soon angry people retaliate against those who harmed family; mostly security officers.

One of those who know he deserves assaults from those harmed is former MGB security officer Leo Demidov. He hopes his work as a homicide detective will give him some redemption, but he also believes he cannot ever make up for the atrocities he committed or allowed. Still using the success of catching a serial killer (see CHILD 44), he obtains official blessing to form a homicide police unit. As his peers from the Stalin days of torture commit suicide rather than face vigilante justice, Fraera the wife of a priest Leo sent to Siberia, abducts his daughter Zoya as a hostage and informs the cop release her spouse from the gulag or have his child returned dead.

Based on a real event that Gorbachev acknowledged in 2007 was the first courageous step away from Stalin's brutal totalitarian reign, THE SECRET SPEECH is a great Soviet historical police procedural. The cast is strong especially the remorseful hero whose beloved daughter has become a pawn in a dangerous game and his and outraged enemy. As with the CHILD 44 case, Tom Rob Smith provides a deep Cold War era mystery in which 1950s Soviet Russia is the star; as readers will travel on frozen solid prison ships and underground Moscow to see a side of the nation the Communists hid.

B As In Beauty
Alberto Ferraras
Grand Central Publishing
9780446697897, $13.99

Cuban-American Beauty Marie Zavala is tired of the world judging her by her waistline just because she is forty pounds over the so called norm. She has tried everything to lose the excess, but fads come and go, diets and exercise come and go, but her weight remains the same. B is ashamed of her body.

She really tanks when she overhears her boss at the Manhattan ad company commenting negatively about her size; even worse her waistline apparently will prevent her from receiving a well deserved promotion. B has had enough with the put downs. Her best friend Lillian the petit suggests she do a remake of the entire B. Russian-American Tax accountant Natasha Sokolov offers her work to show off her voluptuous body to men who will pay for a big woman. B accepts the deal of spending time with big body worshipping males only her first client is disappointed when he sees her as he insists she is too small to be anything but a fashion model.

B AS IN BEAUTY is an entertaining contemporary tale starring a woman who fans will root for as she begins to not accept her size, she learns to accentuate her assets. B is the star, but the kindhearted madam-mentor somewhat steals the show with her tutelage. The irony that B is too small adds humor to a profound tale in which the heroine learns beauty is only skin deep.

Naamah's Kiss
Jacqueline Carey
Grand Central Publishing
9780446198035, $26.99

From the time she was a young girl in Alba, Moirin of the Maghuin Dhonn, an isolated clan of the Brown Bear worshippers, Moirin heard the voices and saw the faces of other deities. Although she did not know it, other Gods were worshipped in Terre d'Ange. She conducts a quiet inquiry and learns her unknown father was a D'Angeline priest serving Naamah, the goddess of desire. As a mage with power, Moirin also begins to explore and upon maturity travels into the spirit world where she will either be fully accepted or totally rejected by the Maghuin Dhonn

She accepts her and the divine spark, the diadh-anam stays in her essence. Moirin learns she has a destiny to fulfill. She goes to Terre d'Ange to meet her father, but is run over by Raphael de Mereliot whose lover is Jerhanne, the queen of the city of Eula. Moirin learns she has the power to heal people even from death though that drains her. Jehanne and Morin become lovers as the newcomer is the first person the queen has trusted in years; she would like to stay with her lover, but Moirin is asked by her mentor Lord Bo to return home with him to Ch'in because the emperor's daughter and heir is demon possessed. In Ch'in, Moirin realizes what the problem is and asks Snow Tiger, the emperor's heir to trust her. Neither was prepared for a coup d'etat by an evil sorcerere.

NAAMAH'S KISS takes place in the same world as the Kushiel saga only decades later. Once again Jacqueline Cary shows her skill at world-building in this super cerebral yet action-packed fantasy. The cast is solid especially the mages and the characters with supernatural powersl, but anchored in time and place by everyday people and political leaders. In many ways a coming of age thriller as the heroine learns of her illustrious roots (not just dad), the story line belongs to the vivid descriptions especially of the dark sides of Ch'in and Terre d'Ange as Morin explores both with energy and love.

Cemetery Dance
Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
Grand Central Publishing
9780446580298, $26.99

In Manhattan, New York Times William Smithback and his wife Museum of Natural History anthropologist Nora Kelly arrive home after celebrating their first anniversary with plans to do more rejoicing. Instead they are attacked in their apartment building by a neighbor, out of work British actor Colin Fearing. To the horror of Kelly; her beloved spouse is killed during the assault while his crazed killer leaves.

NYPD obtains testimony from Nora and others who saw Fearing murder Smithback and the building's surveillance tape captures Fearing leaving dripping blood everywhere. The case is solved except for one problem as FBI Agent Aloysius Pendergast and New York Police Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta learn; Fearing died two weeks ago having been found in the Hudson River.

Fans will be stunned with the opening sequence when long time secondary character Smithback is killed. That just sets the table for a great tense police thriller as Agent Pendergast investigates how could a dead man commit murder? The above paragraphs are the beginning of a great taut tale that fans will appreciate and newcomers will look for Aloysius' back cases (see THE WHEEL OF DARKNESS).

The Purple Culture
Stephen Boehrer
Oceanview Publishing
61 Paradise Road, Ipswich, MA 01938
9781933515243, $24.95,

The three Bishops Robert Courteer, Vincent Barieno and Wilbur Sandes stand trial in Federal Court for concealing the pedophile activities of the priests by constantly relocating them before the trouble can surface. The eyes of the world are upon this trial especially victims and their families who want justice in what looks like a sure shot for the prosecution.

The lead attorneys from both sides know how the evidence stacks up and who is looking over each of their shoulders. Prosecutor William Goulding has all the proof on his side so will stick to the facts though he plans to make some of the truth melodramatic and emotional. On the other side defense attorney James Kobs knows he must punch holes in the facts that overwhelming goes against his clients as he must find a way to persuade the jury to acquit though everything affirms they are guilty.

Although a profound legal thriller that extrapolates from the headlines, THE PURPLE CULTURE is much more. Stephen Boehrer enables his readers to look deep at the motives that drove the three Bishops to conceal the sexual predatory nature of some of their priests towards their flock. The author also provides a glimpse of how the victims have fared as well as their families. However, it is the intense scrutiny that lays bare the souls of the three Bishops that make this a brilliant tale that answers why the cover-up.

B Is For Beer
Tom Robbins
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022-5299
9780061687273, $17.95,

Six years old Gracie Perkel looks forward to spending time with her Uncle Moe as her parents are never there for her while he tries to give her time; especially after he has had a six pack. Moe is the king of beer drinkers. However, this time Moe fails Gracie, leaving her depressed with a need to drink away her loneliness just like adults do.

When she goes for a drink, the Beer Fairy visits her and offers to teach about life especially the importance of beer. So begins Gracie swim in the suds realm.

Written like a children's fairy tale, B IS FOR BEER is an odd, often humorous look at beer through the eyes of an elementary school kid. The irreverent story is set from the beginning when Gracie asks her mom what is that stuff that looks like pee-pee that her dad drinks especially while watching sports. This book is for you readers, who enjoy an ultra lighthearted fantasy filled with amusing factoids, will toast Tom Robbins with a six pack.

Griffin's Shadow
Leslie Ann Moore
Avari Press
P.O. Box 285, Smoketown, PA 17576
9781933770048, $14.95,

Jelena nee Preseren is elated to have married Ashinji Sakehera as she loves the son of Lord Kerala and feels great about carrying his offspring. However, she is stunned to learn she is the daughter of Elf King Keizo Onjara of Alasiri. However, her new discovery about her roots puts her in the crosshairs as an ever expanding human empire starts invading Alasiri.

While Jelena struggles with her pregnancy and her new role, her Ashinji is sent into slavery as a gladiator. She is unable to mount a rescue as the Elves face assaults from humans and a sorcerer setting the stage for the Nameless One to conquer all.

The sequel to GRIFFIN'S DAUGHTER is an excellent epic fantasy, which takes a plausible terrific spin that makes the second entry fresh and brisk. Jelena has come a long way since her coming of age adventures in a realm filled with de jure and de facto racism against a half elf like her; however in this tale she must go further into the role of full leadership of many of those who once scorned her. GRIFFIN'S SHADOW is superb tale that will have the audience wanting more from Ms. Moore.

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie
Jennifer Ashley
Leisure Books
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780843960433, $7.99,

In 1881 England, anyone who knows Ian Mackenzie assumes he is mad. Even he believes there is something wrong with himself as thinks and reacts differently than his siblings and people in general. Ian has problems with understanding "normal" feelings; as he always is honest, which gets him in trouble.

When wealthy widow Elizabeth Ackerley is to marry a rascal, Ian honest as ever makes it clear he thinks she is foolish to wed such a degenerate and that he feels nothing. Beth rejects his declaration; she begins to look closer at Ian and his family. Beth soon admires Ian and that turns into love; Ian rejects the notion he can love, but does not understand why he feels mushy when she is near. However, as their respect and admiration grows, several young women have been murdered with Ian because of his odd behavior as the prime suspect. Beth vows to prove her beloved is innocent and that he now knows what love is.

This is an intriguing Victorian romance that looks deep into what back then was labeled madness, but today would be on the high functioning side of the Pervasive Developmental Disorders spectrum as probably either Asperger's Syndrome or a non specified disorder. Thus the audience has a unique lead character who thinks differently than the acceptable "norm". Beth, by just accepting him as he, proves she is a fabulous person. The murder accusation fits as Ian's madness makes him the obvious suspect. Jennifer Ashley has provided a terrific insightful thriller.

The Bone Factory
Nate Kenyon
0843962879, $7.99

Worried for the future especially their daughter Jessie, David and Helen Pierce are reaching the bottom of their savings. He is currently trying to get work having quit his last job when his superior stole his ideas without giving him any credit; his supervisor's boss sided against David so he left. In retaliation they blacklisted him as a malcontent in the industry; no one will hire him due to the lies.

Hydro Development is building a hydroplant in an isolated area of Quebec. Michael Olmsted interviews and hires David for the position of completing the plan and overseeing the development of the reservoir in tiny Jackson. David and his family relocate to Jackson in the winter so can do little on the project. Jessie is clairvoyant, but her parents are in denial unable to accept the paranormal especially with their child. They soon learn the house they currently reside in, once had a little girl who just vanished without a trace; as did one of the searchers. Jessie and David see a shadow being, but both assume it is their active imagination while Helen fears she is being watched by a stalker though she sees no one. None of them understands the danger they face while a local deputy sheriff has stumbled onto a horrific site in the nearby woods that unless a miracle occurs could be the next stop for the Pierce trio.

There is a growing sense of foreboding as animals and fish look strange and a psychotic person disappears. Jessie's visions increase that feeling as the reader senses like she does something is coming for her. As the Pierces put together the puzzle pieces, their chances of survival decreases; their only hope to get out alive is if David can find the missing links that relate the incidents to the project. Fans will enjoy Nate Kenyon's creepy horror thriller as the next stop for the Pierce family appears to be a one way ticket to hell.

Sirens Secret
Trish Albright
9780843960877, $6.99

In 1791 though everyone who knows her believes Lady Olivia Yates is brilliant, she hides some of her skills from society. Thus when she learns of a mistranslated Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic artifact at the British Museum, she decides to correct the error though knowing no one would believe a female could do this; ignoring her archeologist dad mentored her.

However, someone does not want the truth known and tries to kill Olivia. American shipping Captain Samuel Stafford rescues her and finds he is attracted to her though he estimates he knows the meaning of perhaps fifty percent of the vocabulary she uttered on their first meeting. He vows to keep her safe; not knowing what that implies until Olivia informs him she seeks a legendary treasure on the other side of the world. He seeks treasure too, but has found it in Olivia even if that means fighting pirates off the Barbary Coast and exposing vile villains trying to steal her work.

SIREN'S SECRET is an exciting Georgian romantic adventure starring two likable lead characters. Similar in tone to the pirate romance SIREN'S SONG yet different, this late eighteenth century action-packed tale is a bit over the top of the seven Seas. However, no one will care because of the heroine who sets the tone with her courage and need to know; which proves infectious to her beloved captain and the admiring audience who will want to accompany them on their journey because we need to know also.

Eternal Craving
Nina Bangs
9780843957938, $7.99

Fin created the Eleven to counteract humanity's enemy Zero whose plan is the destruction of mankind to coincide with the Mayan calendar prediction of the end at 12-21-12. Fin's fighters use human bodies just like Zero's minion.

Tabloid reporter Jenna Maloy wonders just who is her enigmatic new brother-in-law Ty (see ETERNAL PLEASURE) so she comes to Philadelphia to investigate him. What she learns about her sister's spouse shakes her to her bone marrow. However, her inquiry also leads to Ty's associate Al, who has been in a non-stop rage since he ended up cloaked as a pitiful human instead of a fierce "Hunter". When he meets Jenna, who is the Key to beating the enemy, his heart does crazy things; making Fin wonder if he is too volatile to trust with keeping the "Key" safe.

The Eternal Gods of the Night saga is romantic urban fantasy at its best as antiheroes fall in love with feisty humans while battling an evil that is growing in strength as the malevolence begin the countdown to December 21 2012. The world is a gritty dark place as seen by Al (and for that matter Ty) except for Jenna who confuses him because a Hunter does not fall in love especially with a lesser being even if her tabloid experience enables her to accept the improbable. With a supernatural smorgasbord to round out a terrific fast-paced tale, fans will want to read about the big bang universe starting the big crunch to Zero time.

The Naked Baron
Sally Mackenzie
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, NY, NY 10022-6222
9781420102536, $6.99,

At twenty five years of age, Lady Grace Belmont is elated not to be at Blandon where her father is obsessed with marrying her off, but is unhappy to be on display during her first London season as the men stare at her bosom. She knows she is too old, too tall and a bit too plump to have anyone truly interested in her. Grace is especially grateful to her widowed Aunt Kate who is sponsoring and chaperoning her, which keeps Grace away from her father who has been arranging for her a marriage after providing no seasons for his daughter.

However David Wilton, Baron Dawson, observes Grace in a garden and thinks she is the loveliest woman he has ever seen. He tries to steal a kiss from her and plans to court her as he wants her like no one ever before. At the same his Uncle Alex Wilton sees his beloved Kate. Years ago when they were younger than Grace is now, he proposed to her but her martinet father gave her to someone else. Alex plans to try again to win Kate's heart, unaware he always owned it. He also wants to insure history does not repeat itself with his nephew and her niece starring in their former roles.

With two heated Regency romances, Sally Mackenzie provides her readers with a fun, often amusing, but always entertaining novel. The story line is brisk from the onset as the older couple seeks a second chance at love while hoping to steer their younger relatives to an easy landing in a field of love; only their efforts lead to scandal. Readers will appreciate THE NAKED BARON as humor and heat combine for an engaging historical.

My Lady Captor
Hannah Howell
0821774301, $6.99

In 1388, while the border war between England and Scotland is nasty, Lady Sorcha Hay learns her brother has been captured by English soldiers demanding a ransom. She and her clan cannot afford the price so Sorcha decides to emulate her sibling's capture by taking a soldier from the battlefield and hold him for ransom so that she can then remit the ransom for her brother.

To his chagrin wounded warrior, Ruari Kerr has never been more humiliated in his life; he has been abducted from the battlefield by a beautiful woman who explains she holds him for ransom. He is furious with himself more than with her because he finds he wants her in his bed. Meanwhile Sorcha is attracted to her prisoner and encouraged by a ghost to take Ruari to her bed. The matchmaking ghost also prevents Ruari from escaping. As his people ransom him, they fall in love, but he feels strongly she betrayed their love. Besides, his pride remains battered by a woman besting him. He tries to kidnap Sorcha, but between her ghost and her clan he fails even as the treacherous Simon Treacher manipulates both of them and their respective allies for his gain.

Written as Anna Jennet in the mid 1990s, MY LADY CAPTOR is an entertaining fourteenth century border war romance. The lead couple is a delightful pairing as a desperate Sorcha humiliates macho warrior Ruari as he cannot accept a beautiful woman defeated him even if he was wounded when she caught him. Worse in his mind is while her prisoner he wanted her and liberated still does. Ruari learns the hard way (no pun intended) "Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall" (King James Bible). Readers will appreciate this amusing well written tale of medieval love.

Moonlight Warrior
Janet Chapman
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781416594871, $7.50,

In Midnight Bay, Maine former immortal warrior Kenzie Gregor is looking forward to starting life anew now that he has broken out of his panther curse. The druid Daar and William the still cursed dragon stay at his side as Kenzie buys them a place to live.

However Kenzie feels guilty that the local bank sold to him an estate without the consent of its brain addled owner Widow Mabel Bishop and her recently divorced daughter Eve Anderson. Though not legally obligated he invites the mother and daughter to remain on the property. William is attracted to Eve, but the witch who cursed William visits the estate using her evil magic to place Kenzie, his friends and the Anderson females in peril.

MOONLIGHT WARRIOR is a terrific urban fantasy romance starring a strong lead couple and an incredible support cast. The story line engages the reader due to the five occupants of what was the widow's home. Fans especially will feel for Eve as she watches helplessly as her beloved mom loses her mind; her stress levels between the divorce, her mom's declining mental health, accepting the seemingly impossible outside of fantasy tales, and falling in love must be astronomic. Janet Chapman provides a poignant tale filled with pathos, action, and love.

Whispered Lies
Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love
Pocket Books
9781416597421, $15.00

Mirage sends email to the Bureau of American Defense (BAD) informing them where they can find the kidnapped diplomat's daughter; abducted by the dangerous Fratelli de il Sovrano. BAD operatives succeed in the rescue, but are curious about who this Mirage is, how she knew so much about the kidnapping and other crime activities, and why Interpol wants her arrested.

Following the rescue, BAD operative Carlos Delgado begins an inquiry into Mirage. He identifies her as French heiress Gabrielle Tynte Saxe, who hides in Atlanta from her former husband and the mobster who killed her mother by blowing up a bus of innocents. Carlos brings Gabrielle into BAD protection with him as her bodyguard. She proves to have a wealth of information on the South American drug cartel run by the Anguis mob, the family responsible for her mother's death. When the Fratelli discovers where she is, they come for her; only Carlos, falling in love with her, vows to keep Gabrielle safe or die trying.

The second BAD romantic suspense thriller (see PHANTOM IN THE NIGHT) is an exhilarating action-packed tale as Gabrielle and Carlos team up in love to strop the Fratelli gang from succeeding in their newest diabolical scheme. The premise is over the top of the High Museum, but fun to follow as the action never slows down except for heated sexual interludes. Fans will enjoy macho Carlos falling in love with a courageous nerd while seemingly half the globe is after her.

Robert K. Tanenbaum
Pocket Books
1439148600, $26.00

Broadway musical producer F. Lloyd Maplethorpe is counting on his reputation to keep him going as his last few shows have been flops. He hopes his latest venture will prove successful as he is arranging Putin: the Musical for the live theatre. One night he calls the concierge to come up to his apartment; Harry arrives only to see the body of a dead woman who had a part in the show. Lloyd tells Harry "I think I killed her". At his trial, Maplethorpe changes his tune stating she committed suicide; as happens frequently at celebrity trials, the jury is split. New York District Attorney Roger "Butch" Karp intends to prosecute the retrial. His private security specialist wife, Marlene Ciampi finds a frightened witness who she protects.

Meanwhile the Sons of Man, a group with members in all levels of authority, are using the Muslims to create an incident that will surpass 9/11 in horror and death. They plan to make it seem Iran did the dastardly deed so that they can seize total power in a coup. The daughter of Ciampi and Karp, an agent for a top secret government group, Lucy is captured by the group's leader as she had begun to get to close to uncovering their devious scheme. Karp and Ciampi have to change direction as New York City is under internal Armageddon.

Part legal thriller and part ant-terrorist conspiracy thriller, CAPTIVE is an exhilarating fast-paced, but over the top of the Empire State Building tale. Both subplots are fully developed so fans of the series will find each fun to follow. Butch is his usual confident self as he seeks justice in a courtroom while Maplethorpe lines up some powerful defenders. He is also a worried father as his daughter is snatched by his enemy and his wife in support roles has begun to help uncover a conspiracy that if achieved would sink the boroughs under the sea along with the government. Though way out and wild, fans will relish the latest Robert K. Tanenbaum's tense thriller.

Bride of the Wolf
Jennifer St. Giles
Pocket Books
9781416563419, $6.99

SINCO Oil heiress Marissa Vasquez fled Belize and her evil Tio Luis ending up in Twilight, Tennessee. However, only when she sleeps does she feel safe as she dreams of a black wolf that seems to protect her while they run together under the moon. An injured man arrives at the camp she hides in; she recognizes his eyes as that of the dream wolf-man. Though Navarre the Shadowman is blind, he knows who she is.

Vladarian vampire Herrera captures the pair as he plans to take control of her shares of SINCO. She knows about his reputation having heard he was the most vicious of her uncle's minion. As Navarre slowly heals with Marissa's help, their spirits fall in love. While the vampires seem on the verge of species civil war, they must find a way to escape. He knows only if he calls the wolf spirit side of his essence do they have a chance. However, he also understands the possible cost as he wonders whether a purebred wealthy human and a hybrid werewolf find happiness together as love may not be enough.

This direct follow up to KISS OF DARKNESS is a superb paranormal romantic thriller starring two wonderful protagonists who need one another to survive the ordeal. Navarre owns the tale as he knows what he must do for his lifemate, but fears her reaction when he does. With a spin that will shake fans with delight, Jennifer St. Giles continues to make The Shadowmen saga one of the best urban romantic fantasy series on the market today.

The Brothers Boswell
Philip Baruth
Soho Press
853 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
9781569475591, $24.00,

In 1763 London, John Boswell hates his older brother James who has become friends with renowned lexicographer Samuel Johnson; by default John also loathes Johnson due to the company he keeps. Obsessed with his sibling, John stalks both men and pays Thames River boatmen for information on what the pair discussed when they ferry them.

John recalls when Johnson was his friend before his sibling usurped his relationship. Increasingly he considers fratricide as a means to right the wrong he believes James has done to him. He ponders whether to kill both men to ease the rage vibrating in his gut that seems to grow with every thought about the pair.

THE BROTHERS BOSWELL is an intriguing biographical suspense thriller that stars real Georgian Era writers. The triangle comes to life as each of the key three players seem genuine especially their interrelationships. Though the ending is obvious for anyone familiar with the classic biography Life of Johnson;, fans will feel the tension throughout as increasingly John is losing control of his mind fogged by his hatred, envy, and deep conviction that he has been wronged by his sibling and his former friend.

Blood Moon
Gary Disher
9781569475638, $24.00

In Waterloo, Queensland, Australia, someone attacked Lachlan Roe, chaplain to the exclusive Landseer private school. The victim was left in a coma and has connections to the highest levels of government. Detective Inspector Hal Challis knows that political ties mean interference to expedite results at all costs to the investigation he will lead with the help of his lover, Sergeant Ellen Destry and the rest of the team. Political big shot Ollie Hindmarsh has already made a TV appearance. Lachlan's brother Dirk manages to compromise the crime scene to Challis' consternation.

Adding to the already visible assault case is two incidents. One of Challis' team Scobie Sutton who breached official policy when he allowed Dirk into his sibling's home, has received hate racist email at his police address. At a time when Challis considers benching Scobie, a murder of a public official enforcing land use rules during schoolie week adds workload pressure.

The latest Challis Australian police procedural is a super investigative tale mostly because of the interaction of the Waterloo team. The story line is fast-paced with both cases engaging the reader from the onset. However, it is the byplay between the cops especially Hal and Ellen and Hal and Scobie who make this a fun read.

Death of A Pilgrim
David Dickinson
9781569475409, $25.00

In 1905, wealthy American "Robber Baron" Michael Delaney demands his extended family go on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain; no one dares refuse. However, near mountainous Le Puy-en-Velay, France, his English relative John Delaney falls to his death.

Semi-retired private investigator Lord Francis Powerscourt leads the inquiry and rules it a homicide instead of an accident though Michael pressures him otherwise. Soon other family members are murdered leading to Powerscourt knowing someone seeks vengeance against the Delaney brood. However, though many people detest Michael, why kill the others who are just minor pawns remains elusive as does the identity of the culprit.

The latest Powerscourt historical investigative thriller (see DEATH ON THE HOLY MOUNTAIN) transports readers to the early twentieth century on the continent as fans have come to expect from this series. The story line is fast-paced from the moment John takes his dive off the mountainside and never slows down as the Delaney corpses pile up. Although the ending seems too simplistic for a family dramatization of And Then There Were None, historical whodunit readers will enjoy David Dickinson's latest mystery.

The Lord of Death
Eliot Pattison
Soho Press
9781569475799, $24.00

In China former Beijing investigator Shan Tao Yun learned the hard way about being too diligent pursuing corruption in the highest levels of the government as he was not only fired he was exiled to a Tibetan gulag. An elderly wise-woman orders him to take a corpse across the state's highest peak Chomolungma because the Gods selected him. As he treks with a mule carrying the body, Shan comes across an overturned bus filled with outlawed Buddhist monks that was knocked over by an avalanche. Within moments, he hears gunfire. Two people in a car are killed; one is China's minister of tourism and the other blond American Megan Ross.

Shan is arrested, but convinces the investigator of his innocence. Soon afterward Colonel Tan is arrested. Shan was hoping Tan would intervene to rescue his enslaved son, Shan Ko from a "yeti factory" where workers die rather quickly that is if they remain sane long enough to die. Shan must find the killer to free his offspring, but the officials insist Ross is alive though she died in Shan's arms.

The latest Shan Chinese mystery (see PRAYER OF THE DRAGON and BONE MOUNTAIN) is a superb investigative thriller because the strong insistence by officials and witnesses hamper the lead protagonist's inquiry. Ironically he is the last witness to see the woman alive, but his testimony is ignored because he is in official exile and to insure that Beijing is pleased with the results. Fans will enjoy Shan's desperate probe as he knows his son's mind at a minimum and more likely his life is at stake as no one leaves the factory the same way they entered; this indirect condemnation of Chinese manufacturing using enslaved labor to punish as well as undercut global competition enhances a great investigative tale.

Strange Nervous Laughter
Bridget McNulty
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312544348, $23.95,

The city of Durban like all of South Africa is suffering from the blistering heat with temperatures breaking records almost every day; there appears no break in the sweltering record setting summer. Tempers already are frayed when a robbery occurs at a small mom and pop grocery. No one is hurt as cashier Beth and two customers Mdu and Meryl cooperate with the robber. Afterward the somewhat traumatized trio feels good to be alive

Each moves on past the incident. Beth floats when she is euphoric and currently rises high as she is elated with dating undertaker Pravesh in spite of his toe nail fetish; helping him in his occupation is he knows when the Grim Reaper is coming by a tingling sensation behind his knees and heat burning up his inner ears. Mdu, who communicates with whales, meets Aisha, who ignores reality as an unnecessary intruder while somewhat living inside her dreams. Guinness World Records sends assistant Meryl to obtain information on Harry, who seems on the verge of breaking the record for dining green.

STRANGE NERVOUS LAUGHTER is a profound yet whimsical character study that takes a deep look at what is love and how we behave when we believe we are in love. Each of the key characters are fully developed so that the reader accepts their musings and misbehavior due to their conviction they are in love; they act out of character when they feel that way. Thus the audience obtains a powerful analysis of love inside an amusing tale as the cast members tend to delude themselves that this is the one and act eccentric and quirky while under love's magical spell. Bridget McNulty provides an excellent contemporary tale that brings South Africa to life while insisting love's behavior is universal.

Lisa T. Bergren
David C Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9781434767080, $14.99,

In 1883, their father sends three of his offspring from their Philadelphia home to Colorado Springs; each has a different mission. Dominc St. Clair is to watch over his two sisters while setting up the family publishing business in the growing city. His beautiful sister Moira was sent west to get her away from her myriad of suitors. Finally his other sibling Odessa has come to Colorado to stay at a sanatorium for consumption victims run by Dr. Morton. Neither Moira nor Dominic wants to be there as the former wants to sing professionally and the latter wants to see the world.

Odessa barely has a breath left when she makes it to her destination. There she meets two other patients, elderly Sam O'Toole and rancher Bryce McAllan. Hearing a noise at night, Odessa investigates only to fall down unconscious. When she awakens she learns Sam died, but is convinced someone murdered him. Attracted to Bryce who reciprocates, which shocks her as all men fall for Moira, Odessa learns she and the rancher received cryptic poems from Sam that hint at a treasure. As they fall in love, the people who killed Sam want the messages he left behind and are willing to murder two consumption victims to obtain them.

Aptly titled, this is a superb historical medical thriller that brings to life victims of consumption (Tuberculosis) as they struggle to BREATHE. The cast is solid inside the sanatorium and in Colorado Springs. Although Sam's death and the subsequent attempts to steal his messages add suspense, Lisa T. Bergren's tale is at its best when readers are inside the sanatorium observing late nineteenth century medical practices dealing with a deadly crippling disease.

Faery Moon
P.R. Frost
DAW Books, Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756405564, $24.95,

After contacting and surviving imp fever at the Citadel, Tess Noncoire becomes a Celestial Blade Warrior, bonded to her imp Scrap. Instead of staying at the Citadel with its restrictions, she and Scrap become Rogues; individuals working outside the system to stop demons from coming into our realm. The pair plus her grieving mother who just lost her demon husband are in Las Vegas where Tess attends a writer's conference while her depressed mom wants to see the show the Fairy Moon.

They find the show enchanting especially the winged dancers flying without any apparent wires. When Scrap enters the Interdimensional Chat Room, he sees the portal to Faery leaking out energy; which upsets the balance of the realms. They learn the flying dancers are real faeries trapped as performers against their will by Lord Graham. He, with the help of a vampire and other cohorts, has created an incarceration net that does not allow the faeries to leave the building. Tess, her archivist Golum, Damien the half demon, Lucia the vampire pretending to be a demon or is that a demon pretending to be a vamp, and their cab driver Mickey work together to liberate the faeries, send them home, and close the leak.

The protagonist is an amazon fighter who has an imp that turns into a magical Celestial Blade when she is in battle. Tess is brave and resourceful as she copes with the traumas life his tossed at her. P.R. Frost has written a fabulous urban fantasy filled with danger, intrigue and heartache as Tess and Scrap bond into a powerful unit who symbiotically need one another to survive. Readers will stay up late enjoying this engaging magical tale because it enchants the reader.

Terribly Twisted Tales
Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg, editors
9780756405540, $7.99

These eighteen entries will remind readers of Rocky and Bullwinkle's Fractured Fairy Tales as the authors take an irrelevant spin on famous stories. Almost all the contributions are excellent with a couple, though well written, disappointingly changing the personalities of the key players without explanation. Fans will enjoy what happens to Snow White after she owns the Prince and the Mirror in Chris Pierson's superb "Once They Were Seven", the witch chasing after violent Hansel and Gretel in "Waifs" by Dennis L. McKiernan and the scary science fiction twister "Jack and the Genetic Beanstalk by Robert E. Vardeman. Overall this is a great collection that pays homage to the brilliant zany minds of Jay Ward and Bill Scott.

The Enchantment Emporium
Tanya Huff
9780756405557, $24.95

The Gale brood can be called witches, but actually are something much more. Their magic spells come in the form of charms and are so powerful they can change future events. The Aunties run the family, but the Cousins allow them their belief but not the control.

After Alysha Gale loses her research grant, she is at loose ends while wishing to escape from her Aunties who demand control of her life. When her Gran writes her informing her she is dead and that she bequeathed her junk store The Enchantment Emporium, Alysha travels to Calgary to look at the shop. The first person she meets in the store is Joe the Leprechaun. She soon is stalked by an assassin who is blood bonded to a sorcerer (evil witch). Alysha concludes the shop services the local fey community. When Alysha learns just how much trouble is brewing in Calgary, even calling in the family to help may not be enough to save the day. Graham the assassin is assigned to keep Alysha out of his master's business, but his feelings for her are that of man towards the woman he cherishes. She feels the same way about her him. However he has a task to kill whatever crosses through the portal and Aly stops him from completing his mission. She must deal with the sorcerer while he must deal with what his love for Aly will do to him.

Tanya Huff has writeen a fantastic urban fantasy reminiscent of her Keeper's Chronicles. The support cast is great; one of the best in recent memory, as they are quirky yet deadly and determined to save the world. There are plenty of surprising spins in THE ENCHANTMENT EMPORIUM that explain why witches and sorceresses fight to the death when they meet. The lead couple holds all this together as they struggle with a forbidden love at a time of pandemic crisis. Ms. Huff is at the top of her game with this thrilling winner.

So Still the Night
Kim Lenox
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10014-3658
9780451226785, $6.99,

Though it cost him what her cherished most in life, Marcus Helios sacrificed himself to protect his peers, the Shadow Guardians. By doing what he did he acted unselfishly and heroically but is no longer a Shadow Guardian and subject to assassination.

His only hope to save himself resides with an enigmatic ancient missive found amidst ancient scrolls owned by Willomina Limpett. However, upon meeting Mina, Mark concludes others less ethical about collateral damage will kill her to steal the scrolls. He vows to keep Mina safe especially from her diabolically insane lover Jack the Ripper, who once jilted her and now has the dark power to destroy the world.

The sequel to the exciting NIGHT FALLS DARKLY, SO STILL THE NIGHT is a superb Victorian romantic urban fantasy that hooks the audience from the first moment that fallen Shadow Guardian Marcus meets Ripper's jilted fiancee Mina. The story line is filled with plenty of action and the right amount of romance. Once again time and place in a supernatural Victorian England seems plausible as the Shadow Guard saga continues with its overarching refreshing effort to stop Jack.

Crouching Vampire, Hidden Fang
Katie MacAlister
9780451226723, $7.99

How quickly her world changed without her consent while she was in Europe. Pia Thomason is now the magical Zorya of the Brotherhood whose reason for living is killing Dark Ones and married to her beloved Kristoff the grumpy Dark One though they reside on separate continents with her in Seattle and him in Europe; she knows her spouse distrusts her as she works for his enemy.

The Moravian Council accuses the couple of murder, embezzlement, and being behind the disappearance and probably homicide of Dark One Alec Darwin. Before she met Kristoff, Pia thought she loved Alec; which only angers her grump of a spouse. As they team up to search for the missing Alec and learn who framed them, Pia plans to enjoy her time with Kristoff while he cannot resist her lure.

As with the first Dark Ones saga (see ZEN AND THE ART OF DRAGONS), nothing goes right for the heroes as not only is the honeymoon over before it began, their lives may be over too. The story line is fast-paced, filled with humor and action as Katie MacAlister balances the two nicely. Fans will enjoy this enjoyable investigative urban romantic fantasy thanks to the antics of Pia.

Over My Dead Body
Michele Bardsley
9780451226778, $6.99

In the center of paranormal activity, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, tyro vampire Simone Sweet feels she has enough on her plate besides learning how to live as an undead especially after killing Braddock Hayes. By herself she is raising a child who refuses to speak since her daddy Jacob tried to kill her mommy, but died during the attempt.

Before killing Braddock by drinking his essence, Simone and former PRIS operative human Braddock "Brady" Hayes are in demand by the townsfolk; both supernatural and normal. Attracted to one another they begin seeing each other though she knows she cannot absorb a relationship at this time. Still as they fall in love, a homicide shakes up the town and threatens their shaky relationship as someone wants all paranormals gone.

Combining humor with romance and a serial killer mystery, the return to the center of vampire activity, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma is a fun lighthearted tale. The story line is fast-paced from the opening denouement until the final climax as chaos seems to reign throughout the story line. A glossary, the Consortium Guidelines, and a Brief History of the Consortium will help newcomers adjust while fans will enjoy the antics of the heroine. Although the series might be losing a fang due to the impact of the Malthusian Growth Model Theory applied to Broken Arrow, OVER MY DEAD BODY is an entertaining thriller.

Bound by Honor
Colette Gale
9780451226839, $15.00

Knowing Lady Marian of Morlaix comes from the Nottingham area, Eleanor of Aquitaine sends her to spy on her son Prince John at his notorious depraved Court of Pleasure. Although she has distastes for her surveillance mission, Marian looks forward to seeing some long time friends. To her shock two of them Robin of Loxley and Sir William of Wendeval are adversaries on opposite sides of the law; the former is an outlaw and the latter the sheriff assigned to catch him.

Meanwhile John wants Marian in his bed. Whereas Will protects her from the Prince, Robin steals kisses though he admits he loves someone else. As Will and Marian fall in love, she wonders how to avoid John's depravity while accomplishing what Eleanor sent her to do.

Putting a couple of ingenious twists to the Robin Hood Legend yet maintaining the core tale, Colette Gale provides an enjoyable medieval erotic romance. The cast is terrific as John is a lecher, Robin a heroic highwayman, Will a cold sheriff, and Marian who touches each of these men competing for her affection. Fans will enjoy the sexual heating of Robin Hood.

Under Fire
Jo Davis
9780451226792, $6.99

Firefighter Zack Knight accidentally runs his car into the SUV owned by Corrine Shannon. He is all apologetic; so much so the nursing school student and exotic dancer Cori thinks he is cute and sweet.

The second time Zack and Corrine meet, he has not run into her tail. Instead he finds her SUV half teetering over the edge of a bridge. He rescues her and they are attracted to one another. However, they have no chance together as each has impossible encumbrances weighting them down. Even when he moves in with her, he has doubts they can make especially after he learns of how they are linked.

The latest Firefighters of Station Five (see TRIAL BY FIRE) is an exhilarating romantic mystery starring an intriguing lead couple who are a 200 proof heat duet even when she thinks he is cute in a virginal way. The story line is filled with action as a nasty villain keeps heroic Zack busy almost as much as Cori does. Zack brings freshness to the role of firefighter lead hunk and champion as Jo Davis provides a strong entry with UNDER FIRE, a terrific action-packed thriller.

Once A Rebel
Debbi Rawlins
Harlequin Blaze
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373794713, $4.99,

Due to an injury Cord Braddock could no longer perform the physically demanding work of a stuntman. He becomes a Los Angeles private investigator. Though he prefers to take on a bounty hunter role and go after Mad Dog Manson, he accepts the inquiry into what happened to the daughters Reese (see ONCE AN OUTLAW) and Ellie (see ONCE A GAMBLER) of Hollywood powerhouse couple, actors Brad and Linnea Winslow.

He knows the FBI and a private detective on retainer have failed to find any clues re the Winslow sisters, who have vanished for over a year without anyone demanding a ransom. Cord enters the Winslow luxurious house, but when he gets to the attic, he learns what happened to the siblings by inadvertently following their trail back in time to 1877. He meets Maggie Dawson, whose father recently died, but she conceals his death from everyone because she would be forced to vacate the cabin they shared. Cord learns the truth and vows to keep Maggie safe while he seeks out the missing sisters.

The third Stolen From Time travel romance is a fun tale starring a likable lead couple though Cord adjusts too easily to Reconstruction Era America. From the first encounter when she asks if he is Pinkerton as they do not hire anyone with the slightest Indian blood as he has a little until the final denouement, fans will enjoy their encounters and escapades.

Weddings In The Family
Tessa McDermid
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373715657, $5.50

As their daughter is about to get married, Caroline Eddington thinks it is time to end her marriage to Nick. She believes only their child has kept them together in recent years and she is moving out. However, she also knows she will miss Nick who she still loves.

At the wedding reception, Caroline screws up her courage to inform her husband she will not share an empty nest with him. However, she remains doubtful because she looks back and knows he was always there for her and their daughter, but the love he once had for her she thinks is gone. Finally feeling it is time, she begins her difficult rehearsed speech only to have Nick inform her he loves her.

This is an intriguing middle age second chance at love story as Caroline wonders what is left in her relationship with Nick now that the "link" is gone while Nick believes they will now have more time for one another. The underlying theme is simple: marriage does not typically destroy a lifestyle, but children nuke it. Although flashbacks enable the audience to view the premise that serves as a double edged sword as this technique slows down the basic plot to leave or not to leave that is the question.

Summer At The Lake
Linda Barrett
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373715602, $5.50

Police hostage negotiator Rick Cooper takes a needed leave of absence after his last case turned ugly; the father killed his family in spite of Rick's efforts. He knows he did his best even as he constantly looks over what he might have done differently. However, he also knows he will have to find a new line of work as he no longer believes he can be effective.

Accompanied by his dog Quincy, he heads to his family's lake house in Upstate New York to get away and to decide about his future. He quietly sits playing his saxophone, which provides solace to his eleven year old neighbor Ashley McCarthy, a rape victim. Ashley and her mom Kristin go over to meet the musician, but the older McCarthy distrusts cops for good reason. Still Rick and Quincy help Ashley regain her zeal for life while the tweener reminds him that he has a skill people need.

SUMMER AT THE LAKE is all about the resilience of people to love and live even after a horrific trauma. Rick is a terrific caring person who personalizes the failed hostage negotiations as likewise does Kristin with the rape of her daughter; yet WC Fields is right about never perform with kids and animals as the dog and the child steal the show. Starting with the sax, friendships blossom and love thrives as Linda Barrett provides a deep second chance at life tale of three wounded souls finding love and solace with one another, enhanced by a caring canine.

He Calls Her Doc
Mary Brady
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373715619, $5.50

Dr. Maude DeVane returned home to St. Adlebert, Montana to help her townsfolk receive proper medical care. Soon after her return, her late friend's brother Dr. Guy Daley arrives in town to run his sibling's executive training consulting business. Maude detests the arrogant Guy for labeling her a gold digger when she was just a friend to his brother and now fears he will destroy her medical practice at least in this tiny mountainous town as the locals will go to him if not for sexist reasons; he has more experience.

Maude is irate with herself because she never forgot the kiss Guy stole from her five years ago and aches for him to do it again. Meanwhile, as he raises his teenage niece, the former emergency room doctor finds he is attracted to a medical peer who he knows distrusts and dislikes him over what he called her several years ago.

The keys to this warm medical romance are the vivid Big Sky Country and the changing relationship between a doubting Maude lacks confidence in her skills and her attraction and Guy loaded with guilt and remorse over his brother's death. Readers will enjoy this fine contemporary as Mary prescribes love as the cure for these two doctors.

Her Very Own Family
Trish Milburn:
Harlequin American Romance
9780373752645, $4.99

Audrey York hopes to start over in remote mountain town Willow Glen, Tennessee. Her first friend is elderly widower Nelson Witt, whose wife just passed away. He helps her renovate a dilapidated mill into a cafe.

Nelson's son Brady is worried about his grieving father being alone and scammed by this woman his age. He plans to know the truth about this newcomer especially why she would relocate in Willow Glen. However, as the carpenter and the wannabe cafe owner fall in love, her past surfaces; leading Brady to distrust Audrey even more than he did before he learned why she came to town.

HER VERY OWN FAMILY is an entertaining contemporary romance starring two fascinating protagonists with no reason to trust one another. Brady is concerned that his widower dad is being taken in by a gold-digger with a past; while that past has taught Audrey to distrust everyone as people have agendas. The hero is Nelson who has the trust of both lead protagonists with his kindness. Fans will enjoy Trish Millburn's fine tale of starting over which is not easy when love and your history intrude.

Once A Hero
Lisa Childs
Harlequin American Romance
9780373752621, $4.99

Lakewood Chronicle reporter Erin Powell is irate that the community believes police Sergeant Kent Terlecki is a hero because he took a bullet to protect someone else while on duty. She believes he is a rogue cop who planted evidence that led to her half-brother Mitchell going to jail. Erin decides to investigate Kent who is teaching a course at the Citizens Police Academy while he heals.

Kent is unhappy to find Erin in his class. She has roasted him in the Chronicle as unfit to be a community liaison let alone an instructor. Making matters worse they are attracted to one another though both conceal their feelings behind a facade of anger and outrage. She struggles with betraying her nephew and he distrusts her motives after she has publicly ripped his skin.

This is an intriguing contemporary romance starring two enemy combatants as her convicted brother stands between them. Erin is a fabulous individual as every time she sees her nephew she is reminded of what Kent did to her family. However, that is the strength and weakness of the story line because she becomes convinced Kent is a hero too quickly for someone who scorned him as a fake. Still fans will enjoy Lisa Child's ONCE A HERO as Erin turns from never to always while struggling with how to tell her brother and especially her nephew.

Death's Door
Meryl Sawyer
9780373773749, $7.99

In Miami her former husband Aiden Larson shook the foundation of Madison Connelly with their divorce, his relationship with Chloe even before the ink was dry on their papers, and what he plans to do. He insists on line gambling will save their business TotalTrivia. However that seems mild to the earthquake of finding the murdered corpse of her best friend Erin. Miami Police Detective Paul Tanner hears her scream and helps her stay somewhat calm.

On medical leave from MPD, Paul has assisted his father Mike owner of Tanner Personnel Security by searching for people connected to billionaire Wyatt Holbrook such as Madison. However she rejects meeting Holbrook and wants nothing further to do with Tanner as he reminds her of Erin's death. When someone tries to kill her, only Tanner stands in the way of a diabolical killer targeting Madison.

This is a tense investigative romantic suspense that never slows down from the moment Aiden and Paul "meet" at Erin's house. Aiden is a courageous heroine who tries to maintain a normal life though a killer is stalking her and her attraction to Paul bothers her. Paul is a wounded warrior who vows to keep the brave Aiden safe from whomever; that includes her toad ex as well as a killer. Then there is iron Mike to assist his son in keeping her safe too. Fans will enjoy Meryl Sawyer's terrific tale of a man trying to keep the woman he loves from falling through DEATH'S DOOR.

Edge of Desire
Rhyannon Byrd
9780373774234, $7.99

Sheriff Riley Buchanan left his home in Henning, Colorado to come the Pacific as he fears what he is becoming due to the Merrick blood flowing through him. In Purity, Washington, he knows his gut insists he needs a woman, any female; but his heart and head only wants Hope Summer whom he lost years ago. Ironically what he needs is on her land.

Watchman Kellen Scott has accompanied Riley to the Northwest to ostensibly keep an eye on the sheriff who is losing control. They believe the third marker is interred on Hope's property. Riley had wanted to come and go without intruding on Hope, but he has failed as she will know about his darkening nature and loathe him. However, Hope is also concealing her inner nature and hiding from her ruthless former spouse obsessed with destroying his ex wife and her kind.

The third Primal Instinct tale (see EDGE OF DANGER and EDGE OF HUNGER) ends the current trilogy with an excellent urban fantasy second chance romantic suspense. The story line is action-packed from the opening moment when Riley reaches Purity and never slows down while the overall theme takes a few wonderful spins. However, as in the previous two entries, the edgy characters make for a great finish and perhaps set up some more Primal Instinct Edge of novels.

The Confessions of a Duchess
Nicola Cornick
9780373773770, $7.99

In 1809 in the village of Fortune's Folly, Sir Montague Fortune is outraged when former housemaid Miss Alice Lister rejected him as the rumored wealthy heiress realized her suitor groom is an unprincipled person. Irate by the affront of an aristocrat like him by a working class nothing, Sir Montague decides to punish all unmarried females when he applies the medieval Dames Tax; either a woman is married or she pays half her fortune to the squire; in this case him.

The outraged single females decide to take counteraction with this sexist stance led by the Dowager Duchess Laura Cole as the village is flooded by impoverish wastrels who see the village as a marriage mart. Meanwhile the Home Secretary sends Dexter Anstruther to Fortune's Folly to investigate a homicide and for him to find a wealthy wife. However, Dexter is stunned to find Laura resides there; the greatest night of his life was with her four years ago but she dumped him in the morning after. As they fall in love and become lovers, she again rejects his proposal fearing her secret will send her beloved away; though he struggles on his personal front, he follows murder clues while she leads a Lysistrata like insurgency.

THE CONFESSIONS OF A DUCHESS is an intelligent Regency romance starring a strong secondary cast and two likable lead protagonists. The story line is fast-paced and amusing as the women revolt against their penuriousness (with his money) spendthrift (with their money) squire. Although the Regency era is not fully anchored, fans of historical romance will relish the Lysistrata insurgents dealing with an invasion of slimy piss poor males.

Lip Service
Susan Mallory
9780373773725, $7.99

She obeyed her tyrannical father once and married his choice of a mate instead of her beloved Mitch Cassidy who left town joining the Navy SEALs. Skye Titan regretted her decision. When her spouse died, she vowed never again as she raises their daughter. Yet her father Jed demands she marry again for business purposes TJ Boone who is more interested in her sister Izzy.

A veteran with war related injuries Mitch has come home. He still loves Skye, but has not forgotten her betrayal when she acquiesced to her dad. Jed is pressuring her again, but she holds him off hoping for a second chance with Mitch even as she worries about how he and her daughter will relate. Finally, there is another new man in her life, an angry half-brother who wants to destroy the Titan clan.

The second Titan family romance (see UNDER HER SKIN) is an engaging second chance at love romance, but first Skye must find courage to accept her failure to stand up to her father and Mitch must find his lost heart to learn to forgive. Neither seems to have that particular trait in their arsenal as Mitch remains angry while Skye struggles with disobedience especially with her beloved family in trouble. Fans will enjoy Susan Mallory's engaging character driven contemporary.

Freudian Slip
Erica Orloff
9780373774227, $7.99

Hot and steamy New York has book editor Katie Darby taking a taxi instead of the subway. She and her cabby discuss God's sense of humor even as his radio is blasting the raunchy show of Julian Shaw. When she arrives at her boyfriend's apartment she finds him with her best friend. Crying she leaves in the same cab that brought her over only to find someone busted in and robbed her apartment and her dog is missing. All this occurs right before the anniversary of her father's death and now she is hearing voices in her head demanding she do things she never would even think of doing.

Julian Shaw loves being a "pervert" and enjoys making a living from a life of depravity and decadence. However, he has made numerous enemies especially from the moral right and from family members of his "guests"; one of these zealots shoots him. Julian falls into a coma, but in his comatose state, voices demand he assist Katie find a better life; the stakes are his soul. He figures how hard this can be until he tries and falls in love with her; now if it means his eternal soul so be it because kissable Katie is his for the rest of his albeit seemingly short life.

This superb romantic fantasy is filled with whimsical love as matchmaking seems to come from beyond. Katie and Julian are opposites and in fact she makes it clear to her taxi driver what she thinks of the city's top rated pervert. Fans who relish something refreshingly different will enjoy the aptly titled FREUDIAN SLIP as the antihero finds his soul and heart when he decides to become the champion of love instead of depravity.

Diana Palmer
9780373773787, $24.95

When she was a teen Gracie March was attracted to her older stepbrother Jason Pendleton, but she hid her feelings though not her hero worship of him. Jason also was somewhat attracted to her, but felt it was inappropriate so he blocked his feelings. He ultimately left with plans to make it on his own. However, when her mom died, he arranged for Gracie to be cared for.

Jason comes home for the first time in years as he owns Comanche Wells Ranch. He and Grace share a passionate kiss and he realizes he loves her. However, she rejects him as she fears her secret shame will drive the only man she ever loved away so thinking convoluted she leaves first. Jason becomes engaged on the rebound; unaware his fiancee plans to rid his hanger-on family members starting with Gracie who is thinking of leaving Comanche Wells anyway. A couple of abductions led by the "General" leave Gracie and Jason reconsidering the past, present, and mostly the future.

The latest Texas contemporary romance (see FEARLESS) is an engaging tale starring a lead female used to being care for by family and an older experienced champion used to getting his way. His plan is to take care of his stepsister and ignore their attraction, but that proves futile. As Gracie becomes independent, Jason knows he must give her the chance to fail though his gut is killing him. Although the suspense seems more a detractor even if it forces Gracie to act, readers will enjoy the omega female trying to become at least a beta as Diana Palmer provides an entertaining ranch romance.

Lucky Streak
Carly Phillips
9780373773756, $7.99

In Las Vegas Amber Rose has lived the life of a con-artist and card counter in high-stakes poker games as a way to bring in necessary income to pay for the care of her Alzheimer's-stricken father. Now she plans to go straight though she fears her partner Marshall Banks will go ballistic, but does not care as she wants out.

When Banks turns nasty, Boston cop Mike Corwin, in town for a wedding, rescues Amber. She joins him and his party, giving them a special tour of Sin City from an insider's perspective. The day ends in ecstasy when Mike wins the, $100,000 jackpot and marries Amber. In the morning, he finds his wife and his money missing. Sad but wiser, Mike returns home. Amber returns to his hotel to explain why, but he has left town. Amber follows love to Boston, but Mike rejects her pleading as he sees cons as thieves as the end never justifies the means. However, when Marsha ll and some cohorts come after Amber, Mike begins to reconsider what life was like before he met Amber and what it will be like if he kicks her to the curb.

The second Corwin contemporary curse romance (see LUCKY CHARM) stars two fabulous lead protagonists whose recent work places them on opposite sides of the law. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Mike and Amber meet and never slows down in Vegas or Boston. Although the ancient curse plays a lesser role in Mike's saga, fans will appreciate Amber opening Mike's eyes as she colors his world with love if he accepts her as his heart's artist.

Edge of Danger
Rhyannon Byrd
0373773994, $7.99

Unlike her skeptical brothers, anthropologist Saige Buchanan strongly believes in the enigmatic Markers. She also accepts her heritage that her siblings deny as true; risking her life to fight the evil Casus.

In Brazil after finding her second Marker, Saige knows a Casus is stalking her while a shapeshifting Watchman Michael Quinn shadows her. He has been assigned by his group to escort Saige to the Watchman's Colorado encampment. However, Saige refuse to accompany him as she trusts no one; not even someone she is attracted to as she is to him; ironically he feels the same way about the attraction and trust. However, trust is what they need to survive a deadly stalker trying to prevent Saige from succeeding.

EDGE OF DANGER, the second Primal Instinct urban fantasy romance (see EDGE OF HUNGER) will grip the audience from the moment Saige in Brazil knows the enemy is stalking her and never slows down as she distrusts th e Watchman who has come to take her to his camp. As the overarching plot moves forward, readers will enjoy the middle thriller starring a woman who trusts no one and a man who knows he must trust no one.

What Happens in Vegas ... After Dark
Jodi Lynn Copeland, Lauren Dane, Kit Tunstall & Anya Bast
Harlequin Spice
0373695315, $13.95

"Hot for Revenge" by Jodi Lynn Copeland. Vegas firefighter Ryan needs a new roommate to help pay the bills. Deitre the succubus offers to room with him; hiding her agenda to avenge the death of her friend due to Ryan's actions.

"Sensual Magic" by Lauren Dane. Nell searches for Leah the thieving witch, but her trail takes her to Vegas and her prey's ex William. Though she does not want a man in her life, he is persistent and attractive.

"Divine Desires" by Kit Tunstall. Makiel the warlock returns to Vegas when his brother frantically begs him to come. Mal meets and wants tattoo artist Devi for two reasons. One he is attracted to her; and two she is a suppressed vampire whose power if ignited can save his dying father.

"The Promise" by Anya Bast. Damian has doubts about marrying Cassidy in one hour at the White Wishes Chapel in Vegas. However, as he steps outside with the best man Tom to go to his wedding, two big thugs grab him and somehow make Tom forget the incident. They take him to Princess Elena of the Fae who insists he is one of them. Though he believes she is "bat-sh*t crazy" he is attracted to her and her to him. However, her father has arranged for her to wed someone else.

This sequel to WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS contains four delightful urban fantasy romances. Each novella stars two fully developed lead protagonists and a support cast who enhance the respective plots. Fans will enjoy a visit "after dark" to Vegas with this quartet of authors as tour guides.

Under Her Skin
Susan Mallery
9780373773473, $7.99

In Texas the clock is ticking away on Lexi Titan who needs two million dollars in one month or her spa will go bankrupt. Affluent self made businessman Cruz Rodriguez offers the money to Lexi under the condition that she, coming from old money, pretend to be his fiance for the next six months and escort him inside the highest levels of society; the other stipulation is that they live together sharing a bed. She is so desperate she agrees to his terms having not forgotten their sexual encounter a decade ago. He also throws in the caveat of helping unmask who is demanding payment of her, $2 million dollar loan.

As they begin the 180 day countdown, both expected an attraction, but neither anticipated how powerful the pull between them is. As the days go by initially too slow and then too fast, they fall in love. However, neither recognizes the feelings as she was raised by efficient cold nannies and he witnessed the abusive war between his parents.

This is an intriguing contemporary tale starring an old money female and a nouveau riche male who have nothing in common except the strong belief that love is a fake as each witnessed a form of parental neglect. Fans will be pulled into the story line early as we will feel for both protagonists who believe "love is only found in fairy tales" (Monkees). With two Titan sisters to go, Susan Mallery opens up with a strong first act.

Going Down Hard
Tawny Weber
Harlequin Blaze
9780373794720, $4.99

In Southern California, Sierra Donovan is stunned by the photos she just received of her naked except for chocolate syrup and twelve tongues licking her. She knows this is a fake, but someone professionally makes her look perverted, which is not good for a special events company co-owner. The person who created the fraud is blackmailing her at a time when she and her partner Belle Forsham (see COMING ON STRONG) are trying to win the lucrative contract of a very conservative family values company.

Sierra wants to forget the issue as she has a dark secret that she prefers to remain buried. However, Belle believes whoever is behind this extortion went a long way to put this together and will not just quit. Belle hires security expert Reece Carter to keep Sierra safe. Reese and Sierra have shared several one night stands and he wants more, but she has doubts as her past has come back to haunt her.

This is an entertaining well written romantic suspense with the mysteries of who is bribing Sierra and what she is hiding from Reese make for a fabulous read. The story line is fast-paced from the opening photo until the climax as Reese refuses to back down one iota in his quest to keep Sierra safe and to know what she conceals. Tawny Weber provides a wonderful whodunit romance.

Show Me the Sky
Nicholas Hogg
Canongate U.S.
c/o Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003-4793
9781847671899, $15.00,

One year has past since rock and roll superstar Billy K vanished while walking and reading along a Cornish cliff. London Detective Inspector James Dent has led the frustrating investigation that is gong nowhere. Rather than cold case the inquiry, he takes a fresh look based on the clue that Billy K was reading the 1834 journal Show Me the Sky by London based missionary Nelson Babbage nee Naqarase Baba of Fiji. The cop follows Nelson's travels to Australia with plans of going on to Kenya and Fiji but he vanishes in the Outback.

Also disappearing in the Outback is English biker Cal Smith, who vanishes after crashing his motorcycle. Dent seeks Smith, who he thinks might be Billy K or at least know where he is. If that fails he will continue following Nelson's trail.

The concept is exciting, but the execution is difficult to follow as men simply vanish with revelations late explaining the common why. The story line is at its best with the nineteenth century journal extracts especially when Nelson goes home as a missionary. The key male characters are developed so that the audience can understand their universal anguish. Although somewhat convoluted, SHOW ME THE SKY is an intriguing character study.

Dial Emmy for Murder
Eileen Davidson
Obsidian Mystery
c/o The Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451228253, $6.99,

After most of the cast believed she killed the writer who was trying to drive her off the show The Yearning Tide, soap opera star Alexis Peterson leaves that show and joins the Bare and the Brazen after she was exonerated (see DEATH IN DAYTIME). She loves her new job playing two roles, the good and bad twins. Her personal life is filled with upheaval since her former spouse Randy is back in town; a few years ago he walked out on her and their daughter taking all the money with him. He demands to see his offspring.

While she wonders what to do about Randy the rat, she is one of the presenters at the Daytime Emmy Awards. She and Jackson Masters are hosting the Outstanding Supporting Actor Award. On the day of the show, Jackson fails to show up so Alexis does the presentation alone. However, he eventually shows up by falling off the catamounts dead with blood everywhere. The murder brings Detective Frank Jakes back into her life. He asks Alex to help him since she knows the business and the people. This becomes more important with the discovery of four men murdered in the same way; all trying out for a role in the soaps. When Alex becomes too deeply involved, the killer targets her next.

Talk about art imitating life, Eileen Davidson is an Emmy winner who starred on the Young and the Restless, Days of Our Lives, and Bold and the Beautiful. She brings her soap experiences into this chilling whodunit. Soap fans will know the author uses anecdotes from each show she performed on. Although a cop asking a civilian to work a murder mystery seems something for amateur sleuth novels and soaps, DIAL EMMY FOR MURDER is an entertaining tale.

The Language of Bees
Laurie R. King
Bantam Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780553804546, $25.00,

Even her lover Sherlock Holmes is as taken back as Mary Russell is when his estranged son from his first wife, Damien Adler, visits them as he never comes to see them. An illustrator Damien needs his father's help as his wife Yolanda and their daughter have vanished without a trace. Holmes agrees to investigate the disappearance of his grandchild and daughter-in-law.

Meanwhile Holmes also is disturbed over the disappearance of one of his beehive colonies and plans to learn why so he can avoid a repetition. At the same time he works both cases, Mary investigates Damien, which leads her to his London flat and a druid cult the Children of Light whose troubling tome Testimony was illustrated by Damien.

Since Mary and Sherlock investigate separately, readers do not obtain that much of a look at the married couple. Still the story line is fast-paced from the moment Damien arrives and never slows down enabling fans will enjoy learning just who Holmes' son is as elementary reader he is not quite a chip off the old logical block. As with the BEEKEEPER'S APPRENTICE, Laurie R. King provides an exciting excellent suspense thriller that the Baker Street irregulars will appreciate even as the plot launches missiles at the mythos.

Walking Dead
Greg Rucka
9780553804744, $25.00

In Kobuleti, Republic of Georgia lives former bodyguard Atticus Kodika and his lover retired assassin Alena Cizkova. The couple use aliases to hide their identity from the outside world. However, even in this remote village violence explodes. Someone assaults and violently kills their neighbor Bakhar Lagidze, his wife and his eight year old son; they kidnap his fourteen years old daughter, Tiasa. The local cops quickly rule murder-suicide; outraged Atticus pledges to rescue the teen though that means breaking his vow to not get involved after the massive manhunt directed by top government officials (see POLITICAL GAMES).

Following her trail, he learns she was abducted to sell as merchandise to pay off her late father's debts. Keeping to his vow though he detests having to even make inquiries inside the sordid human trafficking slave market, he pursues clues that lead to the Middle East, back to Europe, and eventually to Nevada. However those he seeks to pay for their murders and kidnapping know he is on their tail and go after Alena. No "Drama queen", she flees for her life with the help of Atticus' former lover New York based private investigator Bridgett Logan.

The action is non-stop, brutal, and bloody even before Atticus begins his rescue quest. Obstinate and brave Atticus is like a bull dog refusing to give up the mission though the odds are overwhelmingly against him. However, what makes this electrifying thriller super is the ease in which Greg Rucka interweaves without preaching or slowing down the plot a political commentary on human trafficking in which governments pretend the slave market does not exist.

Black and White
Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittridge
9780553386318, $15.00

The extrahumans attend the Academy where they obtain intensive training learning how to control their super powers before going out amongst civilians to stop crime. Five years after graduating from the Academy, Joannie "Jet" Greene tries to catch her former school roommate Callie "Iridium" Bradford for dealing with unsanctioned (by the ruling Corps) criminals. The pair was once best friends, but their differences over brainwashing by the Academy and the Corps abuse of extrahumans led to a dispute. Jet believed what she was told while Iri saw a dark commercial purpose behind the institutions. This acrimonious split might be a legacy of their fathers with Jet's dead and Iri's jailed or more to the point could be their powers as Jet uses shadows and Iri the light.

The former BFFs separately begin to uncover a dangerous conspiracy in New Chicago. Meanwhile Jet meets and teams up with normal human Bruce Hunter who brings a metaphoric light to her heart while she thinks Iri is part of the treachery. Iri meets and teams up with vigilante Taser who brings a bit of the dark into her heart while she deems Jet is part of the treachery. Soon these two BFFs and their new sidekicks will learn that neither is all light or all dark as the universe has an abundance of colors and shades; that is they will learn if they stop fighting one another and live long enough.

Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittridge provide a fun super friends fantasy that blends elements of romance, thriller, and science fiction into an exciting BFF (in this case BFF was best friend forever but has become best enemy forever) superhero tale. The cast is solid as Jet and Iri begin to understand that the whole is greater than either part. Although fast than a speeding bullet story line lacks depth, graphic comic book fans will enjoy the action-packed quarrel between two former super friends.

The Neighbor
Lisa Gardner
9780553807233, $25.00

Boston Dailey reporter Jason Jones comes home one night to find his beautiful wife Sandra is missing and their preschool daughter Ree is alone. He searches the house for her until he realizes she was no where to be found. He waited three hours more before calling the cops. Sergeant Detective D.D. Warren questions Jason, but comes away uneasy as the man holds his daughter while refusing to cooperate with the authorities; Jason denies Warren access to the computer or his car.

D.D. immediately assumes Jason is a person of interest, but there is also another man in the neighborhood who could be connected with Sandra's disappearance; Aidan Brewster is a registered sex offender. Although there is no physical evidence to tie Aidan or Jason to the missing Sandra, the cop believes the woman is dead and one of these two men killed her. Her father, a judge, who has not spoken to her in years, arrives with the intention of gaining custody of his granddaughter. Sandra once warned Jason to never allow her father alone near Ree. Jason is doing his best to keep the police from arresting him for his daughter's sake, but fears his secrets will destroy his efforts if discovered.

Lisa Gardner gives her audience a chilling terrifying glimpse of what goes on behind closed doors. The neighbors thought the Jones were the perfect family, but deadly secrets if known would have ended that illusion. This thriller is a one sitting read; filled with characters who have broken laws to prevent an even bigger tragedy from happening. There is plenty of action and misdirection that keeps readers spinning as to what is going on especially with Sandra and Jason. Lisa Gardner is at her best with THE NEIGHBOR.

Bad Things
Michael Marshall
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd St., NY, NY 10022-5299
9780061434402, $24.95,

After falling into a lake in Black Ridge, Washington, four years old Scott Henderson dies though he was rescued in time; no cause for the child's death is found. His despondent parents John and Carol are unable to cope or help one another with their grief. They divorce and both leave the town with neither planning to ever return.

Three years later, John receives a cryptic frightening note from someone claiming they know how Scott died. Though he thinks the woman who sent it is probably a nutcase, John goes back to Black Ridge hoping otherwise as he has not obtained closure. He is unaware that his return to the scene of his greatest personal tragedy will cause inexplicable deadly incidents to occur.

This is a thrilling horror tale that uses the setting of a seemingly placid rustic town to enhance the tension of what is going on. Readers will feel a sense of impending doom throughout the exciting story line. Although some plausibility is lacking, no one will care as Michael Marshall provides a strong scary tale with a psychological edge to make what is happening in Black Ridge even more frightening.

My Soul to Take
Yrsa Sigurdardottir
0061143383, $24.99

Jonas Juliusson buys a health spa in Snaefellsnes on Iceland's west coast with the help of his attorney single mother of two Thora Gudmundsdottir. However, he fears the property is haunted so he invites Thora to stay and investigate, which she agrees though feeling he is being silly heeding local myths.

Upon arriving at the spa, Thora is greeted with the mutilated corpse of architect Birna Halldorsdottir who designed the new building. Jonas is the prime suspect since he sent the victim a text message to meet him at the place she was found dead. A second body also battered is soon found. Thora quickly changes her inquiry from ghost hunting to homicide hunting.

MY SOUL TO TAKE is an exciting Icelandic amateur sleuth mystery starring a wonderful attorney who begins to slowly find clues that lead to several suspects with motives. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the single mom finds the first corpse and never slows down as the brave lawyer makes her inquiries while another body surfaces. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this fine mystery while seeking Thora's last case (see LAST RITUALS).

Enemies and Allies
Kevin J. Anderson
9780061662553, $26.99

In the 1950s, the Red Menace could be defined two ways: Communists or Martians. In that Cold War environs that could turn hot in a nanosecond, Clark Kent works as a reporter for the Daily Planet while patrolling the skies as his alter-ego Superman. He meets wealthy playboy Bruce Wayne when he interviews Gotham's finest for a feature article; Bruce uses a James Bond like image to hide his identity of crime fighting Caped Crusader Batman.

Soon after meeting one another as civilians, Superman encounters Batman when both are working on the same threat from within the country. Brilliant sociopath scientist Lex Luther has collaborated with Soviet General Anatoly Ceridov to take over the world by setting up a nuclear confrontation followed by his firm selling the counter defense, which will enable him to do what Ike would one day fear, control the military-industrial complex.

This is an over the top of Wayne Manor and the Daily Planet tale that is fun as Kevin J. Anderson cleverly brings 1950s symbols together including silver age superheroes struggling with a schizoid culture of post war optimism and cold war pessimism. The support cast is comic book thin even the icons like Alfred and Miss Lane while the two heroes travel the world to prevent Luther's scheme from succeeding. Silver Age fans especially will enjoy the seemingly zillionth "first" team up of Superman and Batman as they seem one step behind diabolically brilliant supervillain Lex.

The Strain
Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
9780061558238, $26.99

The jumbo jet from Berlin has landed at JFK and is taxiing to the gate when abruptly something weird and horrific happens as it suddenly goes pitch dark with no sounds whatsoever; every electric and electronic device is silent. As emergency crews stand by waiting to enter, a door opens for no apparent reason. CDC NYC epidemiologist Dr. Ephraim Goodweather enters the dark plane only to find a mass graveyard. Every passenger and crew, except for four shocked bewildered survivors, was drained of their blood.

Although Ephraim strongly pushed quarantining the survivors, he is overruled due to their rights. They leave and soon afterward the corpses vanish. Desperate as nothing goes according to standard procedures, Eph begins to heed the advice of an elderly Manhattan Holocaust survivor pawnbroker Abraham Setrakian who insists a master vampire has come to America as a total lunar eclipse is coming.

With homage to Stoker from the modernizing the classic ship scene to Abraham and the Count, Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan provide a super vampire thriller in a current day setting. Ironically this is a throwback to the days when vampires were simply evil predators dining on human blood. THE STRAIN is fast-paced from the moment the plane suddenly stops moving and goes entirely dark as this thriller will be hard to put down apparently a master vampire invades America just before a total lunar eclipse, the first of this kind in four centuries.

Dead Man's Dust
Matt Hilton
9780061717147, $24.99

Former Special Forces operative and ex-cop Joe Hunter is an expert on life and death hand-to-hand combat. Since leaving the military and the police, Joe has become a security consultant who resolves the impossible tasks for his wealthy clients.

However, Joe's sister in-law, Jennifer holds him culpable for her spouse, his younger brother, John vanishing; leaving her and their kids in trouble. She assumes he played tough love and refused to help his sibling who was in trouble with street thugs for not paying off his IOUs on time. Joe insists otherwise as he gave John the money to pay off his markers, but his wastrel brother gambled it away instead of settling his debt. However, blood is blood so hard ass Joe follows John's trail across the ocean and back until finally to California where the idiot is in deeper trouble as a serial killer dubbed the Harvestman for reaping organs from over twenty victims is coming for him.

Gory, bloody, and exciting, DEAD MAN'S DUST stars an interesting allegedly cold blooded hero who in spite of wanting to let his brother sink into the morass he created, tries to help him. The story line is fun to follow, but offers nothing new as the reader expects Joe and Harvestman to vividly bleed in the climax. Not for the squeamish or anyone who just ate, as some of the scenes are gruesomely descriptive, readers who enjoy literally excess blood and guts will want to read Joe's rescue attempt.

Running From The Devil
Jamie Freveletti
9780061684227, $24.99

British Airways flight from Miami to Bogota crashes in the Colombian jungle. Thirty years old year-old American chemist survives the crash as does several other people. However, Emma observes men in fatigues carrying weapons coming out of the jungle. Instead of offering help, they take the survivors prisoners. Her assumption is bandits demanding ransom as Columbia has a reputation for that type of crime. She flees into the cover of the jungle.

Emma manages to use her cell phone to alert American officials to the plight of her and others. As she eludes the kidnappers with the help of a fellow passenger, federal agent Cameron Sumner, she waits for her government to send military troops or perhaps even mercenary contractors from Darkview Inc who guards the nearby oil pipeline.

Emma is a sort of female MacGyver as she does all sorts of miraculous stunts with limited resources while Cameron is her "required" romantic counterpart. Readers will root for Emma to not just survive, but to defeat the bandits. Though somewhat standard fare as the plot has been seen many times in movies and books, the story line is fast-paced and fun to follow especially Emma's adventures in the jungle.

My Life as a Man
Frederic Lindsay
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312376390, $24.95,

In Glasgow, working at a factory job for a week, eighteen year old Harry Glass is fired. That occurs after he is tossed out of the house by the hairy ex boyfriend of his runaway mother. Without giving it a second thought, Harry takes the car keys of his ex-boss Bernard Morton and drives away in the man's car. However, he is not alone as the boss' wife Eileen is also in the vehicle.

Eileen and Harry begin an affair though she is almost two decades older than him. As they drive to Edinburgh and Aberdeen, violent men chase after them though neither Harry nor Eileen know why. The thugs believe a valise containing a small fortune is hidden in the boot. The pair of runaways makes it to a farm owned by menacing August and Beate. A frightened Harry sneaks away returning to Glasgow to enlist the aid of Morton and his brother.

Though tension is high especially with thugs chasing the lead couple, the entertaining MY LIFE AS A MAN is more a coming of age character study than a straight thriller due to the opening chapter occurring in the future and Harry's first person point of view. The story line grips readers from the moment Harry has had it and takes the keys and the wife on a joy ride. This tale is driven by Harry who learns life is filled with errors and sometimes redemption and second chances, but not always. Fans will enjoy his first escapades as a man.

Sworn To Silence
Linda Castillo
Minotaur Books
9780312374976, $24.95

Painters Mill, Ohio is a quiet serene small-town until a serial killer begins carving Roman numbers into each victim's abdomen. The case is identical to what drove the current Police Chief Kate Burkholder from her Amish background as a teen; four people died sixteen years ago in an identical ritual.

Kate knows why the homicides abruptly ended back then and that the current copy cat killer cannot be the same psychopath. Meanwhile the politicians are nervous that they will be punished by the public for being soft on crime due to the lack of progress by the cops as more victims die. They set up a multi-jurisdictional task force to allegedly assist Kate, but consisting of mostly sycophant moles who report to the politicos and not the chief; she in turn finds them a nuisance examining her every move rather than that of the killer.

Although there are enough serial killers in literature to wipe out Ohio, readers will enjoy SWORN TO SILENCE; a strong police procedural refreshed by the Amish connection that enables the audience to compare how the two prime groups react to the murders then and now. Kate is a wonderful protagonist struggling emotionally with deja vu homicides, politicians who ironically some object to Darwinism yet are the classic example of survival, and walking the thin blood line between her Amish childhood and her English job. Fans will enjoy Linda Castillo's brisk take on how two distinct groups behave with a deadly predator in their midst.

S.J. Bolton
Minotaur Books
9780312381141, $25.95

In an isolated part of Dorset, England veterinarian Clara Benning treats injured wildlife at the Little Order of St. Francis. The remote locale is a perfect fit for the withdrawn Clara who emotionally never recovered from facial scars she received from a childhood accident.

Her panic stricken mother demands Clara come home immediately to remove a venomous snake from her baby's crib. Soon after handling that dangerous situation, the house of a neighbor is turned into a deadly snake haven to include the extremely poisonous Australian Taipan. An autopsy of one human death from snake bite proves the victim had way too much venom than a single snake could have secreted; Assistant Chief Constable Matt Hoare assumes a homicide occurred. He is in charge of the official inquiry into the snake manifestation that has already claimed a second person, but he knows he is out of his element. With Clara and eccentric TV star herpetologist Sean North, Matt investigates who is behind the snake attack and why; nobody understand the connection to a five decade old tragedy.

The story line is at its exciting best when snakes in the village star; when the subplot involves Clara's past and somewhat that of her family, AWAKENING loses some of its poisonous bite as that feels unnecessarily intruding. Still this is a terrific tale mindful of Snakes on a Plane and Arachnophobia as the zillion different types even the non-poisonous will have readers checking inside cabinets, mail boxes, dryers and water heater corners before reaching out with a hand in a look before you touch scenario.

Enchanting the Beast
Kathryne Kennedy
Love Spell
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, NY, NY 10022-6222
9780505527646, $6.99,

In 1861 London, Lady Philomena Radcliffe hosts a seance when Baronet Nicodemus Wulfson barges in. Although he is skeptical about her ghost whispering skills, he will try anything to save his brother, dying from an unknown ailment. He demands she help him by her interrogating the ghosts who reside in his family castle.

Phil realizes Nico is a shapeshifter and agrees to accompany him back to Grimspell. Almost as soon as she enters accompanied by her otherworld contact Tup she meets a spirit in battle armor whom she follows as he walks down to the dungeon. There she finds a locked door and a crypt; once she opens the door she heeds the voices whispering her as she walks a tunnel underneath the castle. She also sees the ghosts of a courtesan and her customers. As she gets closer to naming the person responsible for the condition of Nico's sibling, she falls in love with her host; not heeding Tup's warnings that a mortal wanting to hide his or her identity wants her dead.

The third Relics of Merlin alternate history saga (see DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT and ENCHANTING THE LADY) is a fabulous romantic whodunit fantasy. The electrifying story line stars an intriguing descendent of the Camelot wizard and a brooding werewolf who with the foreboding castle brings a gothic feel to the tale. Fast-paced from the moment Nico crashes Philo's seance and never slows until the final goodbye, fans will enjoy this fun Victorian.

The Sword and the Pen
Elysa Hendricks
Love Spell
9780505528179, $6.99

Author Brandon Davis knew he was out of ideas for his popular sword and sorcery saga Warrior Woman after ten novels. His plan is to kill off his heroine Serilda D'Lar; thus ending the series. Beyond that he has no idea what next except taking time off from writing so he can live life again.

However, as he nears finishing the end, standing in a skimpy fantasist's unreal outfit is a Serilda look alike; as he envisioned her in his imagination. She claims to be Serilda and he is the wizard who summoned her from her world to complete a quest. Brandon assumes either he or she is crazy, but Brandon refuses to let her leave as she has awakened his life. When she manages to go home, Brandon vows to follow her to bring his beloved home.

Though the concept of a fictional character coming to life has been done before and recently cleverly twisted in the Thompson-Ferrell movie Stranger than Life, Elysa Hendricks refreshes it with her lead pairing. Serilda understands what is going on by simply believing writer Brandon is a powerful wizard; Brandon believes that one or both is crazy. Told mostly in a first person viewpoint from the lead couple, fans will enjoy this super romantic fantasy as the heroine knows the pen is mightier than the sword but the hero believes the heart is mightier than THE SWORD AND THE PEN.

The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers
Angie Fox
Love Spell
9780505527707, $7.99

Though she has become a bit more at ease with her magical DNA heritage (see THE ACCIDENTAL DEMON SLAYER), Lizzie still has problems adjusting to what is expected of her from her odd blood relative mentor as no one tells her anything. Just before turning thirty she was a Happy Hands Preschool teacher; at thirty she turned into a genetic demon slaying witch.

When Uncle Phil angers a succubus, her witch tattooed grandmother Gertie and her Red Skulls biker coven decide they must go to Las Vegas to rescue Phil; Lizzie has no choice as she is ordered to join the cavalry. Upon reaching Vegas, the Department of Intramagical Matters refuses to allow Lizzie to enter the city as she has no license to practice magic. To obtain a license, she must pass a test, but she has little experience and no training. On the bright side her shapeshifting griffin boyfriend Dimitri is accompanying Lizzie and Red Skulls; she might reconsider her joy if she understood that succubae love shapeshifters and there are a dirty dozen living in Vegas

With a nod to The Greatest American Hero, the second hilarious Exalted Demon Slayer of Dalea urban fantasy is an amusing tale starring an unlikely demons slayer and a horde of eccentric characters either driving her crazy or trying to kill her. Lizzie is almost clueless re her talent, but courageously does her best as fighting deadly demons is safer than riding a Honda with her grandma. Filled with humor, fans will enjoy Angie Fox's lighthearted frolic as the Atlanta teacher takes Vegas; that is once she gets past the immigration rules for magical practitioners.

To Beguile a Beast
Elizabeth Hoyt
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue , NY, NY 10017-0010
9780446406932, $6.99,

In 1765 needing escape from the Ton and her overly protective guardian, Widow Helen Fitzwilliam accompanied by her two children nine year old Abigail and five year old Jamie flee London to dilapidated Castle Greaves in Scotland. Hiding behind the falling down walls is Sir Alistair Munroe, who has not recovered emotionally from his physical and mental ordeals as a soldier fighting in the colonies. His scarred face and sunken pit instead of a left eye serves as a reminder. The recluse learns Lady Vale, wife to brother in arms Jasper Renshaw (see TO SEDUCE A SINNER), hired Helen Halifax, the name she gives him, as his new housekeeper.

Alistair may be damaged but he can see clearly that Helen is remarkably beautiful. However, it is her caring for her kids and him that begins to bring him out of his shell. As they fall in love and he likewise also with her children, her "protector" is coming to demand she return with him to London.

The third Legend of the Four Soldiers (see TO TASTE TEMPTATION) Georgian romance continues the saga of the few survivors of a Regiment who were slaughtered at the battle of Spinner's Falls by the Wyandot tribe due to an apparent betrayal. Although the overarching theme of finding out who the traitor is does not go forward much, Elizabeth Hoyt is three for three with a beguiling tale starting with Abigail's scream upon seeing Alistair's face and never misses a beat until the final confrontation.

Bound to Please
Lilli Feisty
9780446541923, $6.99

Thirty-seven-year-old event planner Ruby Scott lives a prim and proper lifestyle except for her deepest sexual fantasies that she has never acted on with anyone else. That is until she meets twentyish musician Mark St. Crow. They go back to her place where he indulges her submissive dreams.

However, being a decade older than her dominant paramour, Ruby has plenty of doubts about their relationship especially the belief her hunk will call it quits once he finds his next conquest; most likely a woman his age. Thus instead of waiting for him to leave, she ends it. Mark refuses to accept her decision and makes a plea that they fit perfect together in dominant-submissive partnership.

This is a terrific older woman-younger man contemporary romance starring a likable heroine who still has it and the stud who still flaunts it. Though she is ten years older, he teaches her new tricks when he introduces her to the world of BDSM and she shows him the feistiness of the older woman. Fans of realistic erotica will enjoy BOUND TO PLEASE because of the fully developed loving relationship between Ruby and Mark that makes the story line believable.

One Deadly Sin
Annie Solomon
9780446178440, $6.99

Twenty years after her father allegedly committed suicide rather than face prison time for embezzlement and her family including her were run out of town, Edie Swann returns to her hometown of Redbud with an agenda. First she wants the truth about her dad as she refuses to believe he killed himself or he would steal money. Second she wants revenge on those townsfolk who caused her father's death.

No one recognizes her so to stir the pot, Edie sends black angels that are identical to her father's grave marker. The first target dies of a heart attack and a second death follows as if her list is cursed especially with black angels left behind as a trademark of the killer. As Edie and Sheriff Holt Drennen fall in love, he remains suspicious that his "angel" might be a serial killer.

This action-packed yet lead character driven romantic suspense thriller grips the reader from the first step Edie takes in Redbud since she and her family were run out of town two decades ago. Needing closure and justice, her efforts awaken fear and anger in the town and a killer salivating to see her blood flow as well as internal friction between the man she loves and his family. Though somewhat over the top of the Adirondacks with the serial killer spin, no one will truly care as the romantic subplot deftly enhances the tension of Anne Solomon's exciting winner.

The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire
C.M. Mayo
Unbridled Books
2000 Wadsworth Boulevard, #195
Lakewood, CO 80214
9781932961645, $26.95,

In 1864 with the Monroe Doctrine in limbo due to the American Civil War, French Emperor Louis Napoleon installs Maximilian von Hapsburg as the emperor of Mexico. However, Maximilian obsesses over having no heir as he and his wife remain childless. He persuades a couple to give him their two years old son Agustin in exchange for money.

When Maximilian decides to adopt Agustin and name him his heir to the Mexican throne, the infant's American mother Madame Alice de Iturbide objects. Outraged by the affront to his power, he deports Alice back to the States. Her being separated from her son leads to an international squabble especially as the war to the north is ending over the rights of babies and their biological mothers. With his country collapsing and his wife Carlota becoming mentally unhinged, Maximilian has too much on his plate in order to maintain his rule so he lets the child join his mom.

Based on a true story, this is an engaging, though at times verbose with too much detail, historical biographical thriller that brings alive an intriguing point in the country's history. The key characters come alive with Maximilian as the most fascinating as he struggles with the economy, his wife and his subjects on the brink while also battling to keep his adopted heir. C.M. Mayo provides a well written interesting look at THE LAST PRINCE OF THE MEXICAN EMPIRE.

Phillip Margolin
HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022-5299
9780061236235, $26.99,

In 1997, con man Charlie Marsh is a few weeks from being released from prison when his best friend Crazy Eddie holds three visiting female librarians and the penitentiary warden as hostages. He saves a guard's life getting accidentally stabbed in the process and that of the other hostages. Eddie blows himself up. Charlie is a hero and hooks up with agent Mickey Keys as they claim "The Light Within You" guided him. However, on tour in Oregon, Charlie has a tryst with local host Sally Pope, wife of a Congressman. When the spouse Arnold Pope Jr. attacks Charlie, all hell breaks out and Arnold is killed. Charlie flees for Africa while Sally stands trial for abetting a murder; attorney Frank Jaffe gets her acquitted after some shenanigans from her father-in-law Arnold, Sr.

However after a dozen years in Batanga under the ruthless rule of Jean Claude Baptiste, Charlie needs to escape as the cruel dictator knows he had an affair with his favorite wife the tortured and now dead Bernadette. Charlie arranges for World News to fund his return to the States where death row is safer than Batanga. Frank's daughter Amanda heads the defense while Baptiste sends killer Nelson Tuazama to kill Charlie but not before he retrieves diamonds the expatriate snuck out of the country.

This thriller is clearly over the top especially the last third current day trial, but no one will care as the reader is hooked from the opening sequence in Batanga, through what happened a dozen years ago, and finally the present day legal thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and the cast solid especially the title character and his lawyer. With a terrific full circle spin, fans will appreciate Phillip Margolin's exhilarating thriller.

The Plague of Doves
Louise Erdrich
9780060515133, $14.99

The massacre occurs on a farm near Pluto, North Dakota. Only an infant daughter survives. The white community is outraged and in a fevered pitch, a posse acting more like a mob search for Ojibwe Indians whom they blame for the horrific incident. When the posse finds several Indians, they hold them responsible without evidence and hang them; one of them Seraph "Mooshum" Milk survives.

Over the next few decades, the families involved in the lynching incident intermingle. Mooshum's granddaughter Evelina Harp is raised on a nearby reservation in the1 960s and 1970s. As a teen she falls for bad-boy Corwin Peace and is friendly with a nun, who unbeknownst to her is a descendant of the lynch mob; in fact she is too as part of her family come from that vigilante mob. Evelina attends college and work at a mental asylum Corwin becomes a felon.

In some ways this excellent story is a series of vignettes that are told in a non-linear manner; a technique that adds depth to what happened in 1911 and how by the 1970s the descendants of those involved in the two murderous incidents have intertwining lives. The complex story line is made even more complex by the many fully developed and important characters although Evelina as the narrator keeps the plot sort of focused. This is a winner as fans learn through a lot of seemingly irrelevant and apparently unrelated clues the truth of that tragic year once the big picture becomes complete. Louise Erdrich is at the top of her game with this terrific tale.

Julia And The Master Of Morancourt
Janet Aylmer
0061672955, $14.99

In rustic Derbyshire, Julia Maitland would be the first to admit she had a near perfect childhood along with her younger sisters and her brother. Perhaps the only down part is her brother is fighting for the British against Napoleon and though she supports the cause she fears for her sibling. Still she looks forward to her first season in society where she hopes to make a match with a handsome caring gentleman who finds her attractive.

However, Julia's lifestyle and season collapses when her father's investments fails followed by the news that her brother David died in combat. While the family grieves and adjusts to poverty, the patriarch suffers from depression and a weak heart leading to his wife's desperation to make a suitable match for her oldest daughter as options are limited by society. Thus Julia ends up in London and Bath. That is followed by a trek to Dorsett with her Aunt Lucy where the previously docile country miss joins Kit chasing after smugglers, French agents, traitors, and love.

This Regency romp focuses on the accepted restrictions that the females of a family of quality are allowed and what duty must be done within these limitations. For instance although Julia's mom would prefer to grieve her loss of her son; compounded by her husband's health, having three daughters to marry, and the financial depression she heroically does what she believes is good for the family. The story line is fast-paced as Julia gets into one misadventure after another. With her sisters, wild Sophie and gentle Harriet, to go, Regency readers will look forward to future exploits by the Maitland siblings.

Jennifer Johnson Is Sick of Being Single
Heather Mcelhatton
9780061461361, $13.99

In Minnesota, though she dreams of being a real writer, thirty years old Jennifer Johnson works as a copywriter toiling in the marketing department of Keller's department store. She is currently going through some difficult personal times with the least being a fire in her cherished apartment. Jennifer struggles with her younger sister getting married though she is happy for her Bridezilla sibling; she even loathes more her ex who is also getting married though she does not want the Groomzilla rat back. Both are marrying others on Valentine Day's; a holiday that has betrayed her. Finally she seems to have lost the battle of the bulge accepting size 12 for the first time though she is freaking out.

Dating especially on-line has proven one disaster after another so much so she wonders if this is divine punishment. Her co-worker Ted loves Jenifer, but she ignores his kindness as being weak. Meanwhile, the store's heir Brad Keller asks her out to her shock as she cannot think of one reason why her. As they go out a lot, she changes her goals to meet what she perceives he wants; soon he proposes and she accepts, but though her new objective is not being single she has nagging doubts every time she thinks beyond her immediate goal.

Unlikable as the lead is in many ways especially with her opinionated decor attitude on life, fans will enjoy this fine chick lit tale ironically due to Jennifer, who paints an honest, often amusing and not always kind self portrait. The story line overuses acceptable chick lit devices, but overcomes the expected standard with the sarcastic at times contemptuous look at relationships. This fun frolic will surprise readers with a wonderful final spin as Jennifer understands the realism of what her Prince Charming is.

Tide, Feather, Snow
Miranda Weiss
0061710253, $24.99

This is an engaging memoir of Miranda Weiss's first year living in Alaska after residing in Oregon where she taught straight fifth-grade science. She describes vividly the adjustment she and her boyfriend John made when they accepted teaching positions in the small village Homer. They travel all over the area leaning its history with landmarks. However, the deepest most interesting part of this excellent year in the life of is the profound look at how the Old Believers live while the pair struggles to become more like the locals; self sufficient. For instance they catch salmon in the Kenai River to freeze for the long winter, etc. However, the long periods with just one another led to deep musing by the pair and the end of their relationship; though that segue is the weakest piece due to being overly dramatic. This is a terrific insightful look at the cost to a "Forty Eighter" trying to become Alaska-acclimatized in the final American frontier.

The House on Fortune Street
Margot Livesey
9780061451546, $13.99

Thirtyish Abigail Taylor and Dara MacLeod met while attending St. Andrews University. They became friends and years later remain BFFs. Abigail became an actress while Dara became a social counselor. They disagree on love and how to pursue it until each suddenly finds true love; Abigail with academic Sean and Dara with violinist Edward.

Soon after they meet the men in their lives, Dara moves into Abigail's house renting the downstairs apartment. Abigail receives an anonymous letter addressed to Sean insisting she is cheating; Dara reconciles with her father, who abandoned the family when she was ten. The letter and the father impact each relationship including that of the BFFs.

This is an intriguing character study as four people rotate with each telling their back story and their perspective of what is going on. The key to the story line is how each person's past long before they met one another and forged ties impacts on how each of them interpret the various relationships. Although the action is limited, readers who relish a 360 degree look at four relationships especially the same baggage an individual brings to each will want to read THE HOUSE ON FORTUNE STREET.

The Scenic Route
Binnie Kirshenbaum
9780060784744, $13.99

Forty-two year old divorced Manhattanite Sylvia Landsman loses her job so she decides to go on a vacation before she walks the pavement looking for work. Sylvia knows she is being foolish as she needs to find a job, but goes off to Italy anyway. In Florence, she meets married American expatriate Henry Stafford in a cafe; he explains that his wealthy wife is in some remote spot in India visiting her guru.

Henry and Sylvia travel Europe together in his Peugeot that his wife bought him. A classic New York cynical Jew, Sylvia and Henry pass the drives with her telling him amusing tales about her family as well as her shortfalls including the betrayal of her best friend Ruby that ended their friendship. Sylvia secretly hopes Henry will prove her relationship guru, as she lacks the courage to pursue more than they have right now.

THE SCENIC ROUTE is an engaging character study that initially appears to be a series of vignettes, but soon ties into a profound quirky glimpse at two people falling in love, but will either have the courage to take the risky next step. Sylvia is a fascinating protagonist as she explains her failures and that of her family while internally praying Henry will proclaim she is the one; Henry proves a good listener who materialistically has everything but emotionally has little as he prays Sylvia will proclaim he is her one. Fans will appreciate this spin on romance as Binnie Kirshenbaum makes a strong case that it takes a brave soul to open one's heart and as one gets older the courage wanes.

The Sky isn't Visible From Here
Felicia C. Sullivan
0061765325, $13.99

This is not an easy to read autobiography though extremely well written and poignant, as Felicia C. Sullivan bares her soul in a cautionary memoir. She lived poor in Brooklyn with her mom Rosina working in a series of diners while always being fired for stealing and through one boyfriend after another as Rosina stole to pay for her cocaine habit and changed boyfriends when they tired of her. Felicia did not fit in any of the zillion neighborhoods mom moved them to as her skin was to white. She escaped to Fordham University and just before she graduated mom vanished. However, the child is not far from the parent as Felicia fell into similar patterns with drink and cocaine even while succeeding in finance behind the facade of a fake history; that is until her behavior led to her firing. This is an excellent autobiography in which the author peels away the masks to reveal her most inner essence for audiences to see how far she has come from her nuclear bomb roots and how "habitually" easy it is for a person to fall back into self destructive behavior.

Honor Thy Father
Gay Talese
9780061665363, $14.99

Released in 1971, this is a reprint of the classic Bonanno New York Mafia family biography with a new Afterward updating what happened to the prime extended family members. Still insightful as it was back in the 1970s, readers get an insider look at the rise and fall of the Bonannos via the interviews by NY Times reporter lease and Bill Bonanno after they met in 1965 in a courtroom. The book is broken into four overarching periods starting with the infamous disappearance of the boss Joseph Bonanno in 1964 just after dining with his lawyer and while carrying no weapons and with no bodyguards; this snatch led to the "Banana War" between his mob and three other New York area gangs.

Insightful even with the account being more a historical, the audience will enjoy the side tidbits like the gangsters hiding in the boroughs (with dogs) or New Hampshire while laughing at the Untouchables. Though at times the action wanes leading to boring sections; readers should remember the goal was an honest account of Mafia life in the 1960s and 1970s. For the most part this is achieved, but the tone also feels as if Mr. Talese somewhat crosses the thin line with his subject as he appears to like Bill as a person. This remains a fascinating look at the Mafia from the inside in which silent loyalty is everything so why did Bill agree to five years of interviews and how did that impact his relationship with his dad; the son understood the Mafia mantra of HONOR THY FATHER, but how can revealing insider information live up to that tenet?

The Road To Jerusalem
Jan Guillou
9780061688539, $25.99

In 1150 Sweden Arn Magnusson is born; the second son of an aristocratic Swedish family. While still a child, he is air lifted by a rock, which when he lands below the castle should have killed him. Instead he returns from the dead leading his parents to believe he is special especially with the hair covering his forehead from the day he was born. His parents send Arn to a monastery where the monks teach him to read and write. However former knight, Brother Guilbert becomes his mentor teaching him archery and swordplay as well as guiding him into understanding the metaphysical spiritual realm.

Arn is attracted Cecilia; especially loving her voice when she sings. However Cecilia's jealous sister Katarina seduces Arn and subsequently confesses her sin. Excommunicated for his transgressions Arn is sentenced to serve his penitence as a Knight Templar for two decades in the Holy Land.

The aptly named THE ROAD TO JERUSALEM (Arn is still in Europe by book's end) is a fabulous historical thriller that provides a refreshing perspective on twelfth century religion and society in Sweden. Arn is a terrific lead character who holds the vivid story line together; the support cast enhances the deep look into Swedish medieval society while also propelling the plot forward. Crusades historical readers will appreciate this opening gamut and anxiously await the hero's return hopefully in Jerusalem.

Pop Apocalypse
Lee Konstaninou
9780061715372, $13.99

In the near future the mediasphere has replaced the Internet, enabling users to follow the lives of people to the minutest detail. In fact reputable names have become a commodity item traded on the Reputations Exchange.

Eliot Vanderthorpe, Sr. is the CEO of the firm that runs the mediasphere. Unlike his successful dad, Eliot, Jr. is a wastrel failure. Frustrated with his no chip off the block offspring Sr. places the name of Jr. on the Reputations Exchange. Eliot the son learns of another Eliot living in the banned off-limits Occupied Zone of Northern California where anti capitalists once held sway. Junior decides to meet his other self only to find a conspiracy spinning in many directions like an octopus' tentacles.

This future tale is a fast-paced lampooning of celebrity fame, pop culture, and media attention span as to what is important. The story line is fast-paced throughout as capitalist society is satirized on seemingly every page; even the Middle East has become one caliphate run by a pop idol. Fans who enjoy an irreverent look at modern culture will want to read Lee Kostaninou's amusing take no prisoners' tale.

The Man Who Loved China
Simon Winchester
9780060884611, $15.99

This is a fascinating biography of Cambridge University biochemist Joseph Needham. Although married to a scientific peer Dorothy, he fell in love with a student Lu Gwei-djen in the 1930s. She taught him her language and her love for her culture. Needham began exploring the country even as the war with Japan in the late 1930s and 1940s made it unsafe for anyone especially a British professor. Still he continued his travels and soon began to uncover the incredible historical intellect of China, investing new technologies and learning scientific secrets centuries before the west. His efforts led to McCarthy naming him a Communist and banning him from America. That did not stop him as he searched for why an anomaly occurred; while the Renaissance reawakened scientific curiosity in the West, in China suddenly scientific discovery ended. Known as the "Needham Question", this remains unresolved as China explodes into the modern world at am exponential pace that mirrors what it once did during the Middle Kingdom. This is a terrific biography.

Shadows Still Remain
Peter de Jonge
9780061373541, $25.99

Thirty-four years old NYPD Detective Darlene O'Hara leads the search for missing NYU student Francesca Pena. However, the day after the Thanksgiving weekend, the hunt ends when the teen's battered body is found in East River Park.

The police led by veteran Detective Cooney hone in on Pena's former boyfriend David McLain as the violence implies a crime of passion. O'Hara differs as something is not quite right. She focuses on Pena's life especially after she came to NYU on a full scholarship. O'Hara soon finds evidence that the perfect student worked at an escort service and strip club. Following up on a tattoo the killer carved on the victim, O'Hara finds another student with the same telltale mark.

Although not unique as the premise of the story line has been used a lot in mysteries, fans will enjoy SHADOWS STILL REMAIN, an entertaining New York City police procedural. O'Hara is an intriguing lead character as she defies her more experienced peers seeking a solution elsewhere even though none at first surface; that is until she begins to uncover the truth behind the facade of the perfect student. Fans will enjoy her investigation even if we know early one what to expect.

The Awakening
Kelly Armstrong
9780061662768, $17.99

Ever since the Edison Group genetically reengineered her (see THE SUMMONING), teen Chloe Saunders her life is out of control. First there is the out of control "dark powers" of being able to raise the dead without trying. Being a necromancer causes havoc with one's social life. Second there are ghosts who are everywhere further devastating her social life.

Having escaped for now and having been betrayed by those she trusted, Chloe is not sure who is friend from foe especially amidst the living. With help from beyond and from the paranormal, Chloe learns more about the Edison group operatives and scientists who are coming for her, dead or alive. At the same time her dad has announced a, $500,000 reward for her safe return, which brings out the whackos. Her only hope for survival is her special friends Tori, Derek, and Simon, but that places them in danger.

The second Darkest Powers teen urban fantasy is a terrific tale as the heroine has learned the hard way from her previous escapades trust no one, but to survive the Edison Group Chloe will have to rely on her friends. The story line is fast-paced as supernatural events continual to occur. There is also a hint of romance, but who Chloe chooses between the brothers Derek and Simon remains up in the air as safety is the first requirement. Although it would help to first read THE SUMMONING to better understand how far Chloe has come and how far she must go to survive and not necessarily win, readers will enjoy the paranormal action of THE AWAKENING.

Black Water Rising
Attica Locke
9780061735868, $25.99

In 1981 Houston, black attorney Jay Porter has a lot of information on a recent homicide, but has several reasons not to share his knowledge with the cops. Besides not trusting the police, an offshoot of growing up in the city's slums, Porter knows if he speaks up he goes under the spotlight, and he has a lot to hide. Back when he was nineteen in 1970 he was on trial for inciting a riot and for conspiracy to commit murder of a federal agent; he knows he was fortunate that there was a juror who lived near his future father-in-law's church. He didn't even know Bernie who is now his wife or her dad Reverend Boykins at that time, but they and his flock were there for him. He wants his felonious history to remain concealed and a tryst with Mayor Cynthia Maddox to stay secret as he is beginning to make it in the middle class and wants the best for his wife and their new child.

On the other hand, Porter also realizes by his silence, an innocent man is being condemned. Although his conscience bothers him, he weighs being the Good Samaritan against the impact on his family and his career.

This is a terrific historical legal thriller that brings to life Houston in 1981 as the civil rights movement remains strong but not quite as effective as it had been. Jay is a fabulous lead character as he decides to let the innocent dupe take the fall rather than challenge the city's powerful, but each time he shaves his conscience bothers him. Although too many subplots that help anchor time and place take away from the main theme, sub-genre fans will enjoy this strong character driven tale as Jay has nothing to lose materially with silence, but everything to lose with speaking out.

Lake Overturn
Vestal McIntyre
9780061671166, $24.99

One night in 1986 in the Cameroon in the area adjacent to Lake Nyos, every bug, animal, and 1700 humans mysteriously died. In Eula, Idaho, two seventh grade friends Enrique a closet homo sexual and high functioning autistic Gene agree to write a paper on the unexplained phenomena for their science fair project.

However, Gene obsesses over what happened in Africa, which leads to the end of his friendship with Enrique. At the same time, Enrique's house cleaning mother begins an affair with a married client; while Gene's pious religious mother, steadfast faithful to a husband who abandoned her ages ago feels she is cheating in her heart as she is attracted to someone besides her missing spouse.

The tale feels more like a series of vignettes rather than a novel as LAKE OVERTURN digs deep into the lives of lonely people in Eula in 1986; not just the pair described above. The various characters seem genuine especially in their loneliness and desperate need to connect with someone else. Mindful of the Beatles' Eleanor Rigby, Vestal McIntyre provides a profound look at how far a lonely person will go for companionship.

Soldier for Love
Brenda Gayle
The Wild Rose Press
PO Box708 Adams Basin, N.Y. 14410
1601544014, $11.99,

Major Julie Collins has worked hard to have a successful military career and she feels the fruits of her labor are finally paying off with her first command. Making this position even better is that she is overseas in Bejou Island in the Caribbean so far away from the tentacles of her military family. Not one for one night stands, she celebrates with a stranger whom she felt an attraction with after meeting him.

The next day, Julie is outraged when her bed partner turns out to be a soldier in her unit. Making her even angrier is Lieutenant Matt Wolf knew who she was when he slept with her. Julie makes it clear she wants nothing to do with Matt, but he wants more than just a memory. When she is abducted, Matt tries to rescue the woman he loves from local rebels.

This is an exhilarating military romantic suspense in which the brass would frown on fraternization between the commanding officer and one of her junior officers. The story line is filled with action yet also has the feel of an overseas post, which anchors the location. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing, as fans will wonder whether Julie will be able keep her career that she loves and the man that she loves. Brenda Gayle provides readers with a strong contemporary thriller.

Contact With Chaos
Michael Z. Williamson
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781416591542, $24.00,

The United Nations and Freehold fought war over the latter's sovereignty. In spite of overwhelming superiority and winning the battles, the United Nations left Freehold and the Granne system as an independent nation.

The Freehold survey ship Hound Dog finds a sentient species the Ithkuil; the first alien encounter by humans. Freehold sends Captain Betang of the armed starship Healy to escort selected envoy Mark Ballenger to negotiate with the aliens. The UN sends Nurin Russ as its representative. Scientists begin probing the planet while big corporations salivate over a new customer especially Damon Egan of Halo Materials Group, who was on the Hound Dog when it made its startling find. The outsiders quickly conclude the aliens have little technology as surface metals are scarce yet in contradiction they have large metropolitan areas. Hiding their metal from the aliens so as not to cause disruption, the humans land to begin negotiations of a sort with a surprisingly advanced civilization that has non-metal based technology.

The latest Freehold science fiction is the best in the series (see FREEHOLD and THE WEAPON) as the United Nations and Freehold government agents try to control the capitalists who are biting at the bit to buy and sell with a new customer. The story line is profound as Ballanger finds it extremely difficult to keep the frenzied business interests from overwhelming his mission and the Ithkuil; as he learns hiding metal fails when moguls want to sell it as a high end product. Fans of the series or anyone who appreciates a well written first contact thriller will fully relish Michael Z. Williamson's realistic spin on economics 101 in outer space as the buck stops when the customer forks it over.

Overthrowing Heaven
Mark L. Van Name
Baen Books
1439132674, $25.00

Of all people, nanotechnology enhanced soldier Jon Moore should have known first hand by now that good intentions lead to hell especially if a beautiful damsel in distress is involved (see ONE JUMP AHEAD and Slanted Jack). Still, he started off with just trying to get the femme fatale away from her abusive spouse over the objection of his only friend in the universe, Lobo, his artificially intelligent Predator-Class Assault Vehicle.

One thing leads to another manipulation of Jon while Lobo shakes his engine in disgust as his good deed definitely gets him punished. The Central Coalition, whom Jon knows to avoid having a bad history of "cooperation" with them, has him searching for renegade scientist Jorge Wei, who allegedly is conducting banned nano research on children. Jon and Lobo head to Heaven where Wei is allegedly performing his illegal tests cocooned inside a very popular humongous tourist spot, Wonder Island, a place impossible to enter without permission;. Super soldier Jon and super assault vehicle Lobo no such boundaries, but what awaits them is the results of bioengineering.

The third Jon-Lobo outer space odyssey is identical in tone to the previous novels as the story line is faster than the speed of light, the action never stops, and some of the key characters are two dimensional from the same cookie cutter. Anyone who appreciates space opera at an incredible acceleration will enjoy the latest escapades of the universe's greatest soldier and his sidekick.

Fires of Freedom
Jerry Pournelle
Baen Books
9781416591610, $14.00

"Birth of Fire". Earth teenager Garrett Pittson was convicted of a homicide he did not commit but his violent past did not help the delinquent. He is given a choice of a life sentence on earth without parole or deportation as a convicted slave at the penal colony on Mars; Garrett chooses Mars. On the fourth planet from the sun, Garrett meets angry workers used as expendable slaves in horrific mining conditions by the earth-based ruling multinational corporations. He thrives in the hostile environs and soon is in the forefront of revolt.

"King David's Spaceship". The civil war on Haven ended with the monarchy ruling as the outside Imperial Navy destroyed the resistance. Rebel leader Colonel Nathan MacKinnie knows the cost of the defeat first hand as his beloved, his friends, and his soldiers are dead. The victor King David asks Nathan to perform a mission; he wants to refuse but acquiesces as he knows the resistance is over. MacKinnie leads a small contingency to the backward planet Makassar where an ancient First Empire Library exists, but no outsider may enter as this is a holy shrine. He must find books on space travel before the Imperial Empire determines his home needs outside rule as the key for full self-rule membership is space travel.

These are reprints of two terrific action-packed science fiction thrillers with similar themes of freedom fighters trying to keep a much more powerful and technological advanced superpower from dominating them. BIRTH OF FIRE is an entertaining coming of age tale. KING DAVID'S SPACESHIP (with some references to THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE) is an intriguing comparative look at civilizations with the Imperial Empire at a twenty-second century or later level of technology; Haven is at late nineteenth-early twentieth century technology; and Makassar is near the bottom with a medieval technology. Both books are exciting as the pursuit of basic rights is the universal connector.

Diamond Star
Catherine Asaro
Baen Books
9781416591603, $23.00

The Allied Worlds of Earth, The Eubian Concord Trader Empire, and Skolian Imperialate make up the human empires in the distant future. The Skolian Imperialate and the Trader Empire went to war, but neither won. Hostilities remain with another flare up possible. Earth provided sanctuary to some of the Skolian Imperialate Ruby Dynasty. When the war ended with the Trader Empire, the Skolians brought home everyone except Prince Del- Kurj who was separated from his off-world people.

Del is frustrated and outraged as earth politicians are making it difficult for him to go home even with immense pressure from the Skolians. Mac Tyler takes him to a studio where he is seen and heard by producer Ricki Varento. He receives a recording contract, which he hopes will prove successful as he knows his family thinks he is worthless. Dal is a powerful empath, but is surprised when the crowds adore him and admire his talent as they love his music. Within a year, he is number one. However when a friend is abducted and tortured by an Aristo Trader, he sings a song that brings three civilizations to the brink of all out war.

DIAMOND STAR is a fresh excellent addition to the Skolian Empire saga due to mostly Del, a prince who prefers to be a music star. All of the action occurs on earth where an innocent man must adapt to a new challenge. Readers see the world through his Skolian eyes. There are several major subplots tied together by Del as fans will understand how his producers, band members, fans, and even the Aristo Trader see the expatriate Skolian royal. Somewhat tongue in cheek, Catherine Asaro provides a thoughtful tale of a star is born as the prince believes the magic is in the music instead of the purple reign.

A. Lee Martinez
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, NY, NY 10017-0010
9780316041263, $19.99,

Monster runs a specialized pest control agency that advertises he catches pesty yeti; what he catches is placed in special in cryptobiological containment facilities as these are not rodents. One night Monster stops at the Food Plus Mart where Judy eats Rocky Road ice cream while working the late shift. He saves her life from a runaway yeti who was running wild in the frozen foods aisle.

Soon after that evening incident, Monster has to remove an infestation of trolls in Judy's apartment. As with the yeti, Judy almost immediately forgets the paranormal events, which proves she must be a person whose mind cannot accept the existence of magic so she dumps those encounters as not being real. However, Monster does not accept coincidence as Judy seems to be the foci in the rise of deadly cryptobiological activity. Not long after her denial, Lotus, who possesses a stone linked to Judy, abducts her. Used to battling dragons, trolls and ogres, Monster follows her to save her life, but quickly realizes he is in deep trouble even more when he fights with his girlfriend who is literally from hell.

This humorous satire lampoons those street corner philosophers agonizing over how the universe began when people are malnourished, un-sheltered, and receiving no health care. The story line is fast-paced from the opening yeti assault and never slows down as Judy seems to have become the center of zany paranormal activity. Readers who believe in boiling the ocean to see what lives on ground below will pass, but the rest of the universe will enjoy Lee Martinez's biting thriller that amusingly mocks social cosmologists who fail to see a tree in the forest.

Orcs: Bad Blood
Stan Nicholls
0316033693, $14.99

On the planet Maras-Dantia, the Wolverine band of Orc soldiers unwillingly served the cruel evil Queen Jennesta; she demanded they find five instrumentalities. When they are put together, they form a portal that opens up into other worlds. The orcs use it to go to their homeworld Ceragan, a clean place populated by Orcs only. The leader of the wolverine band Stryke and others are weary of the constant deadly battles and see this realm as a haven.

They choose to remain here and stop fighting in order to live out the remainder of their lives rusticating in harmony and peace. Seraphim the human arrives informing them of a depressing tale of atrocities as orcs are in decline and humans are hunting them like they are dumb beasts on Acurial. The wolverines learn that Jennesta still lives and is coming after them to take the instrumentalities that will make her queen of all worlds. Stryke and the wolverines know they must go to Acurial to end the genocide and prevent the queen from achieving her objective. Jennesta remains in a position of power so has much to toss at her former minions whom she calls traitors. Still Stryke and the Wolverines are willing to fight to the death to prevent her from making an already horrific situation worse.

ORCS: BAD BLOOD makes a case that the species is not evil brutal thugs but are intelligent rational beings who battle to the extreme rather than surrender (think of the Highlander warriors in pre Culloden Scotland). They do not believe in slaughter, massacres or genocide, but will bravely fight against overwhelming odds. In fact they look forward to a quiet life and death in bed on their new world, but feel duty calls so they travel Acurial world to free the orcs though they assume a trap awaits them. There is plenty of action though little is settled even as Stryke and his wolverines prove the orcs are so different than the prejudicial Tolkien standard.

The Edge of the World
Kevin J. Anderson
9780316004183, $14.99

The war between the followers of the two Gods, Aiden and Urec, the sons of the creator, has been going on forever. Both nations have suffered from the constant battles and need for vigil. An inferno devastates the city of Ishalem that sits on the isthmus separating the two kingdoms. Each side blames the other for the disaster and back and forth reprisals heats up the hostilities over the next thirteen years.

Hope to end the conflict seems unlikely as massacres especially of civilians are the acceptable norm. Yet each nation decides victory is theirs if they are the first to find a legendary land on THE EDGE OF THE WORLD that hints of divine truths, which also means a dangerous sea race venturing into the treacherous sea beyond the isthmus.

The first Terra Incognita tale showcases Kevin J. Anderson's skills as he leaves outer space (see the Saga of Seven Suns) for an apparent fantasy saga. However, although there are hints of otherworldly elements, none surface so that the hostilities make the story line seem more like a historical military novel. Still the tale is engaging as Mr. Anderson begins to explore the causes of the conflict; hopefully in future entries he will go core deep into how the constant war impacts societies; as the fight rules these two nations.

The Pretender's Crown
C.E. Murphy
Del Rey
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th fl., NY, NY 10019
9780345494658, $14.00,

In 1588 Belinda Primrose, THE QUEEN'S BASTARD daughter of the Virgin Queen of Aulun Lorraine Walter, inherited her witchfire magical prowess from her father Robert Drake. She uses her mage skills as the best royal espionage agent and assassin.

However, the Echon continent seems poised for war when Queen Sandalila of Esandia is killed by poison. Belinda wonders if her mother created the tension that grips the continent in a ploy to gain power over the neighbor across the channel Gallin or a diabolical ruse by the alien Heseth to divide the continent in a bloody hostility. As armies prepare to mobilize, Belinda struggles with what to do next as she decides whether or not to break from her mom. Since she has sampled the dark magical lure of Dmitri, Belinda also reflects about her shaky relationship with Prince Javier de Castille of Essandia and Gallin, whose mom's assassination makes him the uncrowned king of Essandia.

The second Inheritors' Cycle alternate historical fantasy is a fabulous tale anchored by a realistic portrayal of the lead character, as Belinda is no angel. A map makes it clear these countries are part of Western Europe; which enhances the deep look at backstabbing machinations that make up Elizabethan era political intrigue. With plenty of magic, sex, and debates over who the heirs are and who the pretenders to the thrones are, fans will relish C.E. Murphy's fine late sixteenth century saga as lurking behind the scenes remain the Heseth; perhaps too easily stalking their prey.

The Patriot Witch
CC Finley
Del Rey
9780345503909, $7.99

In 1775 Boston Proctor Brown joins the minuteman though he knows the woman he loves is a loyalist, which means her father will reject his courting her. However, Proctor has other issues more pressing as he finds himself possessing the ability to use witchcraft; a trait he was unaware of until recently. He inherited them from his mom, who was hoping to hide him from the skill. Though hesitant to use witchcraft, he hopes his ability will further the rebel cause.

Thus he is shocked when he realizes both sides of the conflict have practitioners. Proctor learns firsthand what that means when invincible British Officer Major Pitcairn bullies him and others without any retaliation because of a special protective medallion he wears. As Proctor tries to learn how to use his paranormal gift, the hostilities increase and he realizes he is the only one who might prevent Pitcairn from destroying the local Minutemen without anyone knowing he is a user. Then there is the British Master Witch to contend with that as a rookie he has no prayer to uncover the identity of let alone defeat.

This is an engaging Revolutionary War historical urban fantasy that includes witchcraft as part of battles at Lexington and Concord, and Bunker Hill. The story line is crisp from the moment Proctor joins the rebellion and never slows down as he is an interesting character struggling with what his mom hid from him and what his joining the revolt does to his love life. Fans will enjoy the "secret" Revolutionary War fought alongside the more famous conventional war as readers will wonder what else CC Finley will "find" in the archives.

The Scarecrow
Michael Connelly
Little, Brown & Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316166300, $27.99,

The L.A. Times pinked reporter Jack McEvoy giving him two weeks notice instead of the usual instant RIF that he is being axed if he agrees to train his replacement Angela Cook. Jack decides to remind his editor what he will lose when he is gone by chasing after a final headline news story.

Jack investigates the arrest of sixteen year old drug dealer Alonzo Winslow, who confessed to the rape and murder of an exotic dancer. However, to his shock, Jack begins to uncover proof that the nasty teen could not have committed either crime. Meanwhile Angela does a search that leads to a place in Arizona called the "Farm". Those at the farm realize someone has discovered them so they must be eliminated; they send assassins to kill Jack and Angela. Jack turns to FBI agent Rachel Walling whom he met on the POET case years ago to help him with the gangbanger inquiry and with the killers coming for him.

Moving back and forth between first and third person voice, Michael Connelly provides an exhilarating journalistic investigative thriller. The story line is action-packed and fast-paced from the moment that Jack decides to go out with a big bang and never decelerates. Jack is terrific as he mentors his replacement while working the Farm inquiry that places him and Angela in lethal danger. Mr. Connelly will have his fans up late with THE SCARECROW.

Doc Wilde and the Frogs of Doom
Tim Byrd
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399247835, $15.99,

Grandpa Pat informs her son Dr. Spartacus Wilde his nonagenarian father vanished after giving a talk at a forum at Harvard. The widower accompanied by his twelve year old son Brian, his ten year old daughter, associate Phineas Bartlett and driver Declan mac Coul plan to search for the missing Wilde. However, before they can begin, they are attacked by mutant frogs in their family abode in the Empire State Building.

Next stop for the intrepid warriors is Harvard, which soon leads them to Hidalgo in South America. From there they enter the jungle heading to a remote region with mutant frogs of all sorts attacking them until they reach a cave whose opening is shaped like the mouth of a giant frog. Inside they continue the quest learning that the dark God Frogon, who destroyed his universe, is seeking entrance to this one to destroy it too. As Mac is turned into a Man-frog, the Wildes battle saber-tooth frogs and other species of mutated frog while Frogon begins the ritual to enter the Wilde universe.

DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM is a fun pulp adventure that pays homage to Doc Savage while targeting the tweener crowd. The story line is fast and lighthearted as the heroes battle mutant fogs. With literary quotes ranging from Seuss to Lovecraft and beyond, Tim Byrd avoids dumbing down his novel. Young readers will relish the escapades of the Wilde family and friends as they struggle to save the world one croak at a time.

Below Zero
C.J. Box
9780399155758, $24.95

April Kelley supposedly died six years ago when the FBI opened fire on the Sovereign Cult (see WINTERKILL); who were fanatical survivalists. It comes as a shock when a resident in their old home tells Sheridan Pickett that April called and he gave the caller her cell number. Her mother Marybeth thinks it is a fake until April shares information with Sheridan about the Picketts that only the family would know.

Game Warden Joe comes home and after hearing the cell phone information contacts the FBI who becomes interested because April is traveling with Chicago mobster Stenko and his born again rabid environmentalist son Robert. The Feds track them through April's cell phone when she calls Sheridan who is with her dad Joe seeking her. Stenko and son go on a murder spree while Joe tries to extract his April from the killers and before the FBI open fire again.

Although six years have passed, the Pickets are euphoric that April somehow is alive although they wonder why she never contacted them before. The family is what makes C.J. Box's thrillers as exciting as they always are by bringing believable reactions and plausibility to the always exhilarating plot. This time it is extremely personal as readers are hooked with the non stop action and like the Pickett brood hope April not only comes out of it alive, but is innocent and returns to the family. Joe being the only cynic is still elated to learn she lives and risks his life to see she stays alive.

Knock Out
Catherine Coulter
9780399155840, $26.95

FBI agent Dillon Savich is on line in a bank when robbers enter with guns blazing. They have done this before killing guards and customers. This time Savich kills three of the robbers. As Lissy escapes, with the help of the getaway driver, she vows to kill Savich for killing her mom. However, she is caught and taken to a hospital for her injuries. Victor using an FBI badge frees her.

Savich and his FBI partner wife Lacey Sherlock try to help Titusville Sheriff Ethan Merriweather protect Joanne Backman and seven-year-old Autumn, who is a strong telepath from her odious Uncle Blessed who can control minds when he looks into a person's eyes. Autumn contacted Savich telepathically. The Feds capture Blessed, but he escapes. He plans to abduct his niece to take her to place where her psychic skills can grow to the point where the cult hr founded can use her. Meanwhile Savich and Sherlock return to DC where Lissy and Victor have surfaced. As soon as they leave, Blessed grabs Joanne and Autumn. Only a miracle might save the pair from being Blessed.

All of Catherine Coulter's thrillers are excellent, but this one is special as the heroes are caught with conflicting cases. Both subplots are fully developed so that the audience understands the internal strife Savich especially feels as he and Sherlock want to capture the deadly bank robbers as well as Blessed; the laws of physics make achieving both impossible. Autumn will win the hearts of the audience from the moment she mentally contacts Savich after seeing his heroics on TV. Whereas the Lisa-Victor story line is typical of an FBI thriller, Autumn is refreshing as an ESP element augments the entry. Readers will enjoy S&S and want Autumn to return to assist them on a future case; if she survives her uncle.

Simply Shameless
Kate Pearce
Kensington Aphrodisia
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, NY, NY 10022-6222
9780758232205, $13.95,

In 1801 Helene Delornay is a sex toy for the Bastille guards, but hates her job. Desperate to get away from these brutes, she flees Paris hoping to reach Dover and start anew. She makes it to England where she meets Englishman Philip Ross, who in spite of his youthfulness mentors her in the passionate art of erotica before leaving her.

Almost two decades later, she is the proprietor of the most popular brothel amongst the Ton while he is a cold widower. When they meet, he becomes her business partner and her exclusive bedroom partner. However Helene fears her attraction to Philip will end with her suffering a broken heart as she never forgot his first sexual lessons.

SIMPLY SHAMELESS is simply an exciting Regency erotic romance. Though the lead couple has an eighteen year gap, both periods are filled with equatorial heat that could keep London warm in the winter. Fans will enjoy the escapades of the business partners in and out of the boudoir as well as some other encounters of a variety of sexual kinds.

Fight Fire with Fire
Amy J. Fetzer
Kensington Brava
9780758231376, $15.00

Deep undercover CIA Agent Safia Troy and marine Riley Donovan first met in war torn Serbia when he disobeyed orders about bringing a brother in arms out of danger and she saved his life. The attraction between them left both shaken; however, each knew the time was wrong so they went on with their respective work serving their country in dangerous situations although Riley left the marines to become a Dragon One operative.

Several years pass with each still remembering with fondness the brief encounter. They meet again in Singapore as he is on a retrieval mission that she inadvertently intruded upon because her superiors failed to inform her of his assignment. They team up knowing they must stop a psychopath from using a new weapon of mass destruction while each still wants the other with a fierceness that burns.

The latest Dragon-One romantic suspense thriller (see COME AS YOU ARE) is a fast-paced exhilarating tale from the moment the two undercover agents meet and desire each other while on an under cover assignment. The spies stay heated together while out in the cold. The action never stops whether it is battling a devious enemy or a sexual interlude. Amy J. Fetzer provides her fans with an engaging tale of a male and female spy falling in love while also saving the world.

Bloody Good
Georgia Evans
9780758234810, $6.99

During WWII in rural England, country doctor Alice Doyle meets a severely injured stranger, but he heals miraculously almost instantly, and simply vanishes. Soon after that puzzling encounter, Alice is called to look at the corpse of a farmer; he has no blood left inside him.

Stunned Alice wonders what in hell is going on in her hamlet especially as more bodies sucked dry are found. Meanwhile conscientious objector Peter Watson tries to persuade Alice that he is not a coward as he wants to court her; he explains he opposes war. However, he will soon have to take sides as Alice begins to uncover proof that Nazis have infiltrated the area led by lethal Gerhardt Eiche. However, he is not just another vile stormtrooper or saboteur trying to cause havoc from within. He is a vampire trying to conquer England from within. With Peter and her grandma who insists she is a pixie, Alice tries to drive a stake through the Nazi vampire and his flying minion who are having a BLOODY GOOD time devouring Devonshire.

This is a superb opening supernatural World War II thriller starring a strong English cast in which some are not purebred human and Nazi vampire invaders. The story line is filled with action and strong characterizations that anchor this alternate England. However, what makes this historical rural fantasy work is the interwoven tidbits such as the sociology of the paranormal and classic fairy tales are documented historical events. Georgia Evans opens are saga of "Others" with a bloody great tale.

No Limits
Alison Kent
Kensington Brava
9780758217578, $14.00

Simon Baptiste was given a choice between jail and the army. Reluctantly he joined the military with plans to leave Bayou Allain, Louisiana and his enemies behind for now. However after a successful career, his last mission went badly. So after spending a few weeks looking at the Ferrer fragrance model on a billboard in Manhattan, he returns to his hometown to heal; although he knows he will not receive a hero's welcome.

What he did not expect inside his home was naked Michelina "Micky" Ferrer, the model he was lusting for while healing in New York. She explains she came to town to see her college friend Lisa Landry who has disappeared. Her questions angered someone who wants her dead. Simon agrees to not just keep Micky safe, but to learn what happened to Lisa and who is trying to kill the model; he hides his other vow from her that he never thought he would ever fall in love with a Micky.

Although the meeting between Micky and Simon is a Mount Everest level happenstance, fans will relish the latest SG-5 romantic thriller. The bayou is a fabulous place for secrets and intrigue as Micky learns the hard way while alos a delightful locale for eccentric characters. The story line is fast-paced once Simon goes home and never slows down as the pair investigates the disappearance; ironically readers know the villains much earlier than the heroes. Fans of the saga will enjoy this exciting tale while newcomers will find this a solid entry into the exhilarating world of Alison Kent.

Demon Can't Help It
Kathy Love
Kensington Brava
9780758231932, $14.00

Josephine Burke denies the paranormal exists and if they did she thought they should be dispatched to hell. Instead she prefers her two feet on solid ground not in some silly supernatural urban fantasy. However, lately she has some problems sleeping as her nocturnal dreams involve her new co-worker Maksim Kostova giving a hickey or something similar to a seemingly dead girl.

The newcomer is irate with himself over his attraction to the prejudicial mortal. Maksim wants to ignore her, but cannot. However, he believes if she ever learned what species he is, she would walk away in disgust. Still he has a flicker of hope when she tells him about seeing a dead woman; unwilling to reveal her fantasy starring Maksim.

DEMON CAN'T HELP IT is an amusing paranormal romance with wet dreams that keep Jo (and readers) awake at night. In daylight she denies her nocturnal desires by insisting she just needs a man; that is a mortal man. Maksim's self-flogging muses make the tale so much fun as he wonders how in hell (at least the eighth circle which he called home for eternity) could he fall in love with a denying biased b**ch. Readers will love this "fangtastic" author's latest urban fantasy romance (see I WANT YOU TO WANT ME) in which devil's food cake is a house specialty.

Anya Howard
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758228802, $12.95

Gillian Nordstram has agreed to become a pleasure giving submissive Disciple. She leaves behind her lover Bruce Wolff to receive training at Nemi in the art of sexual submission.

Sethlucius visits Bruce and offers him the job of a lifetime involving his Gilliam. Bruce initially assumes that Gillian's fantasies have entered his mind, but agrees anyway. As she fears but submits to winged beasts, he follows her with plans to be her only dominant.

This is an interesting erotic fantasy that star two intriguing lead human characters and a horde of paranormals. The sex scenes run the gamut and are very vivid while Gillian and Bruce are fully developed especially his initial self pity and her fears. However, the plot never fully seems developed so that this alternate reality never comes across except in the BDSM scenes. Still fans who relish something way different in their erotica will appreciate the sexcapades of Gillian and Bruce in another realm.

Mutual Desire
Donna Grant
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758232076, $12.95

"Spellbound". In 1592 Scotland, twice widowed Kate is married off to Ewan MacDonald, who is outraged that she is not her sister until they make love.

"Enthralled" Leaving the Aldvale Kingdom, Linarra spies on their enemy in the Kellian Jungle; however after meeting Falcor, she shares ecstasy sleeping with the enemy.

"Enchanted". In 1864 Princess Arian of Tulso travels to the Amazon only to be adducted ending up in the bed of Jensen D'Argent.

These three erotic novellas are fun tales for quick reads due to the likable lead characters, but would have been better served as novels as time and place are never anchored.

On the Prowl
Crystal Jordan
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758229007, $13.95

"Claim Me". Antonio Cruz is the new chief of his Panther shapeshifting pride, His lover Solana wants him to name her his forever mate, but she is not a shapeshifter.

"Take Me". Antonio's older sister Andrea has never found love, but when she meets Miguel she thinks at long last her mate has found her.

"Need Me". Antonio's twin brothers Diego and Ricardo are inseparable until Isabel joins the pride; each wants her as his mate and she wants both twins as hers.

These super interrelated erotic romantic urban fantasies are well written and quite engaging as the world of Jordan makes for a fun heated read.

A Talent for Murder
R.T. Jordan
0758229372, $22.00

Polly Pepper was a Hollywood icon to baby boomers with her own musical-comedy variety show reminiscent of Carol Burnett. That was then. Now she lives at her luxurious Bel Air estate Pepper Plantation with her son Timmy and her maid Placenta. She yearns to get back in the spotlight so she accepts a job as the nice judge on the new reality show I'll Do Anything to Become Famous. The premise is that six contestants will perform, lie, scheme and plant dirty tricks on one another to win the grand prize.

The nasty judge is Thane Cornwall who on the opening show rips each contestant apart, making them feel worthless; some cry while others seethe with rage inside. Thane fails to arrive for the second show so the producer sends his assistant Lisa to find him. Inside his home, his maid sees Lisa holding a knife while standing over Thane's bloody body. She calls the police who arrest Lisa. Polly visits Lisa in jail and concludes the assistant is innocent in spite of the overwhelming incriminating evidence. A second corpse, this time a contestant, is found in Polly's estate. She links the two homicides though not knowing why beyond the show, but a pit bull stubborn Polly investigates following a scent that could lead to her being the next victim.

Polly Pepper is an eccentric corker who readers will adore due to her cute habit of dropping the names of Hollywood stars along with her bubbly spunky outlook. The contests prove they would do anything even kill to win so Polly immediately suspects one of that group to be the murderer. Timmy and Placenta add comedic relief as Polly is no Hollywood mom when it comes to raising her son and is a friend with her maid. R.T. Jordan provides an entertaining amateur sleuth.

Mr. and Miss Anonymous
Fern Michaels
9780758212726, $24.00

In 1986 needing money while attending college, Lily Madison and Peter Aaron Kelly donated at a fertility clinic where they met. Both are attracted to one another but neither is comfortable pursuing it since each hides what they are doing at the clinic.

Two decades later at an airport, clothing designer Lily and software CEO of PAK Industries Peter run into each other. They chat but are shocked when a newscast discusses a mass murder at the California Academy of Higher Learning with the lone survivor Josh, who looks like a younger Peter. They agree to team up to learn what happened and just who Josh is.

Although over the top of the Sierras with the human experiments fans will enjoy this exhilarating romantic suspense thriller that never slows down for an instant. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Peter and Lily see each other for the first time in twenty years; both remember each other as they always wondered whether different circumstance might have made it perfect. Readers will cherish the lead couple as they fall in love while trying to survive their amateur sleuth investigation.

Entertaining Angels
Judy Duarte
9780758220165, $12.95

In San Diego suburb Fairbrook, while attending high school, Kristy Smith worked extra hard on her class work because she wanted to attend college and knew to do so she had to earn a scholarship. However, she lost her dream when she became pregnant and needed to work to support her son Jason and ironically her grandmother too. Kristy remains upbeat refusing to wallow in what could have been.

While attending school Craig Houston dreamed of becoming a pastor in an impoverished country. Instead he accepts the pastor position in Fairbrook. Though he feels he is needed more overseas, he changes his mind when he gets to know his middle class flock; encouraged by wise Jesse. He tries to help those in crisis like pregnant teen Renee Delaney, but it is Kristy even after unfairly accusing Renee of theft, whose optimism is pervasive and has him believe everyone needs support even a broken dreamed pastor if they are to obtain redemption.

ENTERTAINING ANGELS is an entertaining inspirational tale that will give readers a mental boost with its optimistic isms (perhaps too many) encouraging the audience to seek God rather than wait for God to come around. The story line is driven by the strong cast; not just those above as others like Kristy's best friend play major roles. Fans will root for the people of Fairbrook to find salvation, but especially want Kristy to obtain her dream of going to college.

Scream My Name
Kimberly Kate Terry
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758228758, $12.95

"Leila". In San Antonio Developer Brandan Walters has a plan for the neighborhood that is coming close to fruition. Only Aunt Sadie's Cafe stands in the way of him and his partners beginning the renovation. However, obstinate Leila James refuses to sell her dive. Brandon mounts a campaign with Leila's neighbors to pressure her to sell her cafe. Her stress goes to the stratosphere, but she knows part of her tension is her seditious hormones that find her enemy attractive. Brandon understands how she feels as he wants to throttle and kiss Leila.

"Danita". Six months later in San Antonio, Psychologist Danita Adams has a social life that's the definition of boring. She would like to meet someone even for a short fling even as she knows she wallows in self pity. That is until she meets Jarred "Hawk" Wikvaya at Aunt Sadie's Cafe where he was their waiter filling in for his friend Leila.

These are two interesting erotic romances center around a development project in which Aunt Sadie's Cafe is the only remaining stumbling block. Danita's tale references Leila's entry adding to the overall interconnectivity between the characters as the second story is a direct sequel to the first. Kimberly Kate Terry heats up the River Walk with these enjoyable novellas.

Dead If I Do
Tate Hallaway
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425227534, $14.00,

In Madison, Wisconsin, Mercury Crossing bookstore manager Witch Garnet Lacey and her vampire fiance Sebastian are making wedding plans when his dhampir son Matyas manages to wake up his mother, Tereza, who has been in a coma for centuries. Tereza is irate to learn her husband considers her his ex-wife. Her plan is to kill Garnet and Sebastian; as a special combo zombie, vampire and witch paranormal she might be able to achieve her objective.

In the meantime Tereza curses the engaged couple. This proves instantly successful as wedding plans collapse when everything is abruptly canceled. Losing her cools, Garnet is ready to tackle the ex as her inner Goddess Lilith is fuming for vengeance, but the bride also has new people problems to harass her with the arrival of her clueless mortal parents.

The latest Garnet Lacey urban romantic fantasy (see DEAD SEXY and TALL, DARK & DEADLY) is a lot more amusing than the previous tale (see ROMANCING THE DEAD), as Madison's favorite witch learns a basic truism that Murphy was an optimist; nothing goes right. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Tereza curses the happy couple. Filled with angst yet amusing, DEAD IF IT DO is a terrific bewitching tale.

Skin Trade
Laurell K. Hamilton
9780425227725, $26.95

Amongst the vampire and shifter communities vampire executioner Anita Blake is notorious for her dead count; no one in the profession comes remotely close. However, recently she has had a catharsis of sorts as those she assumed are evil monsters may be the victims of a zealous bias by human society who has fears of the paranormal. Part of her mental revision is who she socializes with, which has led to the Federal Marshal Service no longer trusting her in spite of her record.

However, Anita has no doubts that the serial killing vampire Vittorio who recently left St. Louis deserves death. He has begun taunting her sending her a victim's head via the post office. She takes up his gauntlet heading to Las Vegas where the package came from to confront him. In town are Federal Marshal Edward and serial killer Olaf; both want Anita. In Sin City, the sheriff wants Anita to leave while others like Crispin the were-tiger and Marmee Noir the creator of the vampire lines have uses for Anita; all hell is converging on Anita.; other supernatural entities have a use for her as well.

SKIN TRADE is the best Blake urban fantasy in several years as the story line is a throwback to the earlier supernatural detective thrillers. Sex is limited instead of dominating and what there is enhances the storyline instead of owning the plot. Fascinatingly except for Edward there is no direct appearance of any other recurring support character as Anita using her brain more than her brawn and struggles with being the foci of the Vegas paranormal community.

Murder on Waverly Place
Victoria Thompson
9780425227756, $24.95

At the turn of the twentieth century, Mr. and Mrs. Decker are one of the wealthiest couples in high society New York City, but their daughter Sarah Brandt chose to work as a midwife in the rundown tenement neighborhoods. Sarah's mother asks her to accompany her to a medium's house on Waverly Place because she is desperate to contact the spirit of her dead older daughter Maggie; she wants to ask forgiveness for what she and her spouse did to Maggie and her husband.

Sarah understands though she believes contacting spirits is a hoax; she goes with her mother to Madame Serafina's seance. While the room is totally dark, the customers hold hands in a circle around a table; the medium speaks. A baby cries and Mrs. Decker believes it is her dead granddaughter. They leave, but Mrs. Decker returns several times praying Maggie will forgive her. At another seance, someone kills client Mrs. Gittings. Mrs. Decker calls Sarah's "special friend" Police Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy. He and Sarah catch Serafina's lover trying to sneak away. Frank assumes he is the killer, but Sarah and the medium think otherwise. The two feisty females need to figure out who amongst the guests is the killer; the problem is everyone universally detested the victim.

Victoria Thompson's latest "Gaslight mystery" brings back a bygone era so vividly readers will believe they attended seances during the first decade of the twentieth century. Fans of the series will relish knowing why Sarah became a midwife and more about why her parents' didn't disown her for her work amidst the city poor. Newcomers as well as readers of the previous murders on Manhattan streets novels will enjoy this well constructed mystery with plenty of viable suspects who have motives and opportunity. Sarah is her usual independent resolute self as she scrutinizes the people in the room where the homicide occurred. MURDER ON WAVERLY PLACE is another fabulous historical whodunit.

Bunco Babes Tell All
Maria Geraci
9780425227589, $14.00

In Whispering Bay, as she turns thirty-five, Florida realtor Kitty Burke does what she does on Thursday night, play the dice game bunco while drinking margaritas with her friends. However, this week Kitty feels a tad lonely as she is the last woman standing single; all the other bunco players are married.

Kitty is attracted to trice married handyman Steve when he fixes her toilet. He stays the night and they both enjoy the tryst. However, neither is in the market for more than an occasional fling if they can keep it secret from their neighbors. Soon as her mom is considering selling their dilapidated home which Kitty hopes to buy, she wonders if she should take a chance and play bunco with Steve as her desire for him has grown to what might make this three time loser her Mr. Right.

Inane title aside, BUNCO BABES TELL ALL is a solid look at the importance of relationships; whether it is just playing bunco with friends once a week, humans need contact. None of the characters are very deep especially since their flaws are no developed yet the premise shines through that people need caring people. Fans will want to roll the dice with Maria Geraci's bunco babes as we can't lose reading how Kitty and Steve both win at Bunco if they play together.

Last Vampire Standing
Nancy Haddock
9780425227541, $14.00

Over two centuries old, vampire Francesca Marinelli feels undead life is great since she regained her freedom due to her new friend Maggie digging her out of the ground while renovating her house. She loves living in St, Augustine where she was born in 1780 and now is considered royalty by the local press and has a boyfriend paranormal crime investigator Deke Saber. Cesca likes having friends who are loyal because of their relationship not her rank and working as a tour guide of St. Augustine's Old Ghost Town. However, on the down side is her recent battle with the French Bride Killer (see LA VIDA VAMPIRE) has given her unwanted publicity amidst vampire circles who detest the Vampire Princess as the media calls her.

The PR proves ominous when Jo-Jo of the Atlanta vampire nest begs Cesca for sanctuary from a vamp who wants to stake the stand-up comic for certain jokes he told. Finally her shapeshifting childhood friend Triton keeps sending her telepathic warnings that she is in trouble while an insane vampire comes to Florida seeking to kill Jo-Jo and anyone protecting him.

The second humorous Vampire Princess urban fantasy is an enjoyable lighthearted thriller filled with tension somewhat abated by the amusing observations of modern life by the heroine, who was buried in 1803 so has the late seventeenth century as her reference points. The story line is fast-paced as trouble from Georgia comes to the Sunshine State. Nancy Haddock provides a jocular tale even with a paranormal psychopath coming to kill anyone harboring Jo-Jo ergo Cesca.

Angela Knight
9780425224502, $7.99

Sixteen years ago in 1993 New York, half-breed Nick Wyatt's mother left him with a powerful stone before the alien Xeron warriors killed her. He survived dedicating his life to saving humanity from the invaders.

In 2009 Nick saves the life of teenage temporal enforcer Riane Arvid from a Xeron assault. To her shock she is stranded in Nick's time with traitor Ivar Terje and Xeron warrior Victor trying to kill her. Nick saves her life again, but when she realizes he is half-Xeron, she instinctively distrusts him. With the Victor wanting to assassinate both of them sending his "toy" Ivar after them, they flee for their lives, but in spite of their lack of trust, their attraction is explosive.

The latest Time Hunter romantic science fiction thriller is a superb tale that provides a strong story line that pushes forward the overarching plot with war seemingly imminent yet contains a full tale focused on the escapdes of Riane and Nick. Fast-paced and filled with plenty of action, readers will enjoy the gender battles between these beloved enemies as neither trusts one another and for that matter anyone else in 2009. Together they make quite a team as fans of the saga will find out.

Lauren Dane
042522760X, $15.00

Since the Fifteen Families left Earth to settle in the Known Universe, they have ruled over the Federated Universe. In that pyramidal hierarchy, the orb Ravena and its ruler the patriarch of the House of Lyons is the elite of the elite.

Barrister Abbie Haws, Unranked, wants the system changed dramatically to provide equal rights to everyone. When she meets Ravena's ruler Roman Lyons, she is shocked as she is attracted to her enemy. Even more stunning perhaps, the elitist Roman feels the same way. As they agree to show each other their respective worlds, they turn up the heat with a solar affair; someone wants Abbie dead either because of the tryst or her activism

This terrific science fiction erotic romance is fast-paced and filled with action in and out of the bedroom. However, what makes the tale spin is the plausibility of the society built by Lauren Dane that serves as the conflict between the two lovers. Though the climax is obvious, with a strong lead cast and a powerful support cast (especially his family), fans will enjoy the antics of the lead couple as Abbie rides Roman's rocket yet continues to argue for her cause.

Shiloh Walker
0425227863, $15.00

"Renee". Fifteen years ago in Madison, Ohio, Renee Lincoln was the homecoming queen with what looked like a perfect life though she knew better as her mom did not love her. Now she is coming home, but has not forgotten that night in her senior year when her boyfriend JD tried to rape her. At the hotel bar she meets Deacon who is also wondering why he came back to town.

"Lacey". Fifteen years ago in Madison, Ohio, everyone in the senior class thought Lacey with her scholarship choices would make it in the big city. She did not want to go to the party thrown by the mayor's son JD, but did because her best friend Missy asked her to come with her. Her boyfriend Deacon was angry because she was going to Tulane instead of Kentucky where he was going. However she witnessed Renee slamming a lamp on the head of JD. In the present she rescues Renee when someone tries to run her over. Seth marvels over Dame Galahad as he calls her, but also realizes someone wants Renee dead and perhaps Lacey too; he vows to protect Lacey.

"Sherra". Fifteen years ago in Madison, Ohio Sherra was the other female involved in that horrid night with JD and his pals. She has come home from the reunion just like Renee and Lacey. Dalton vows to keep her safe if that maniac who has tried to kill Renee goes after Sherra.

Though some chapter labeling inside the three interrelated tales would have made it easier on the reader, fans will appreciate this exciting erotic romantic suspense starring three couples in which all six players are fully developed then and now. The suspense is top rate as readers anticipate a confrontation with the villain while the sexual interludes are hot and seem apropos in spite of the tension. Fans will enjoy this ultra heated suspense.

By Hook or By Crook
Betty Hechtman
9780425228388, $6.99

A widow in her forties following the sudden unexpected death of her husband, Molly Pink has made a new life for herself. She is the events coordinator and community relations specialist for Shedd & Royal Books. Molly is also one of the Tarzana Hookers, a group of crochet advocates who give their work to the less fortunate. Finally Molly has been an amateur sleuth who has solved homicide cases (see DEAD MEN DON'T CROCHET).

Molly is unaware that when she finds a paper bag on the table used by the Tarzana Hookers to sell their products in order to raise money for charity, that she will be involved in solving another murder. Inside the bag is a letter of regret and guilt, and a ctochet panel with pictures that Molly assumes is a message from the crochet creator. The note implies the author made a terrible mistake years ago and desperately needs to set things right. After some inquiries, Molly concludes that socialite Mary Beth Wilson made the crochet panel piece. When she goes to see the woman, she finds her corpse instead lying in her bed with a box of apple maripan on the night stand. Molly believes Mary Beth was poisoned; the autopsy confirms her theory. She continues her investigation seeking to set right what Mary Beth tried to do before she was murdered. Someone is warning her to quit her investigation; that person sends her warnings and "gifts" which mean back off or she will be next.

Molly is a feisty obstinate person who, when she makes up her mind to do something, no one, not even a killer, can get her to stop until she achieves her objective. There is plenty of action in this entertaining amateur sleuth due to the fully developed cast, especially the heroine and her Tarzana Hookers. Readers will understand what it is like to suffer from grief and not know what to do in terms of male relationships . Fans will admire Molly as she affirms that though you mourn your loss and miss your mate, there remains a fulfilling life if you go for it.

Angel's Advocate
Mary Stanton
9780425228753, $7.99

She had no idea what she let herself in for when she agreed to take over the legal practice of her late uncle's Beaufort & Company. The practice located at 66 Angelus St in Savannah cannot be found by mortals; only angels and sprits can enter; except for Brianna Winston-Beaufort as she is the firm's only lawyer and sole mortal. Her clients are spirits appealing their sentencing in Celestial Court as unfair. She has an angel dog Sasha as her companion and guard.

Her latest case starts in the mortal realm which gives her hope she might bring in some real money. Seventeen year old Lindsay Chandler stole, $165 from an eight year old selling Girl Scout cookies. Bree goes out to the Chandler estate to meet her client. A few months ago Lindsay's father died in a car accident, but when Bree sits in his chair, he claims he was murdered and wants her to represent him in Celestial Court. Bree has a hunch that the father and daughters cases are related to the robberies of pseudophedrine occurring in Chandler's warehouse. She soon finds herself protected by angelic guard dogs as the powers that be believe the lawyer to the afterlife is in mortal danger.

Once again DEFENDING ANGELS, Bree stars in an exciting paranormal legal thriller anchored by a strong investigation and by things that go bump in the night that are really there; the audience will need to sleep with a light on. The whodunit is clever so that readers cannot easily connect the dots as Mary Stanton provides an off-beat quirky mystery filled with eccentric characters; on earth and beyond.

Sea Lord
Virginia Kantra
9780425226360, $7.99

Because she is the only family member without magical skills, Lucy is never included in any Worlds End demon hunting debates. Instead she is expected to remain a good girl teaching school and cleaning after her seemingly always drunken dad.

Her world radically changes when half-Selkie Prince Conn abducts her as she is the vision of his dreams that he prays will keep his people safe from a threat. Soon afterward a demon lord tries to kill her dog. Outraged Lucy decides no one will harm her or her loved ones; that is when the real odd events occur starting with the improbability of a Selkie lord falling in love with a mortal.

The third Selkie-human "Children of the Sea" romance (see SEA WITCH and SEA FEVER) is a fantastic romantic fantasy as Virginia Kantra enables the readers to look deep into the souls of a lonely single human and a Selkie. The story line is similar to the previous entries as the plot enables the reader to look deep into the hearts of the lead couple and believe in the existence of Selkie and half-breed Selkie. However, Virginia Kantra refreshes her saga by escorting her grateful fans into the realm of the Selkie.

Black Eagle
Gen Bailey
9780425228180, $7.99

In 1755 Iroquois Confederacy Indian Black Eagle is hired as a scout and guide to a small group near Lake George during the French and Indian War. He is attracted to one of the party Marissa Jameson who heads to a friend's home for shelter. She finds her guide's tenderness quite refreshing as she has not seen the same from her race. Both know their desire is taboo, but neither can prevent it from growing.

On their trek north Marissa is the victim of a series of accidents that Black Eagle believes is deliberate by someone wanting her dead. He realizes his constant vigil is not enough to keep her safe and he persuades her to run away with him. As they run to the safety of his tribe, her avaricious uncle who is also her guardian will not stop at achieving his goal.

BLACK EAGLE is an engaging Warriors of the Iroquois romance that fans of Cassie Edwards will enjoy though Gen Bailey's novel contains much more historical information than the "Savage" tales. The lead couple is an interesting pairing of forbidden love, but the focus of the story line is the Iroquois Confederacy struggling to survive as an independent nation while the French and English war over who controls Upstate New York, New England and Canada.

Her Ladyship's Companion
Evangeline Collins
9780425228203, $14.00

In 1811 her brother Philip catches Lady Isabella with her lover and informs her she will marry odious Lord Stirling in a loveless match. She feels guilty and hopes to regain her place as Philip's sister and acquiesces to his demands. Her abusive spouse dumps Lady Bella Stirling on his most isolated Scottish estate Bowhill Park to live by herself soon after their vows.

For five years now her life is that of a hermit though she enjoys working her rose garden and the visits from her cousin Esme Marceau. Worried that Bella is alone with no companionship, Esme sends her male prostitute Mr. Gideon Rosedale, who is renowned for bringing satisfaction to his wealthy female clients. Bella quickly digs past the surface hunk to the intelligent gentleman he hides from his customers. Gideon digs past the prim and proper aristocrat to the seductress she hides from society. As he mentors his customer on lovemaking, Bella falls in love with Gideon, but his time with her is coming to a climax.

This is an exhilarating heated regency romance starring two obvious opposites as she is an aristocrat and he is a working class male prostitute whose customers are wealthy ladies of leisure. Their love has no chance for several reasons yet it blossoms like her roses. Sub-genre fans will relish the relationship between the lady and her companion as a refreshing historical with a torrid seductive edge.

Catherine Mann
9780425228333, $7.99

After a rough childhood, Shay Bassett made it through hard work. In Cleveland she has become a spokesperson for troubled teens. The advocate is heading to DC to speak to Congress about her city's increase in gang activity.

However someone wants her silence before she can make her testimony. Her teen past returns when Major Vince Deluca, as a favor to his mentor, agrees to protect Shay. He still wants her as he did as an out of control teen and worries about her when they first meet; she is in the face of a youngster who threatens to slice off her head with a machete. However, first keep her safe; second find out who the assassin is; and third control his libido, but he forgot to factor in feisty Shay.

Different from DEFENDER as this time the military converts to the civilian world, HOTSHOT is an exciting Darks Ops romantic thriller that hooks the audience from the opening suspense scene and never loosens the tension until the end. The story line is action-packed and stars two brave powerful lead characters who refuse to allow gangs to intimidate them though they recognize the danger. Fans who relish an exciting military romantic thriller in a civilian environment will want to read Catherine Mann's powerful tale.

With a Twist
Deidre Martin
9780425228036, $7.99

Having been raised in Paris and deciding that waitressing in Bensonhurst at her half-sister's bistro Vivi's is too provincial and keeping her from her dream to manage a top quality Manhattan restaurant, Natalie Bocuse quits her job. However, she finds it nearly impossible to obtain new work so with the help of her most persistent flirty customer Quinn O'Brien she accepts a waitress job at their Midtown family pub.

New York reporter Quinn has wanted Natalie since he first flirted with her in Brooklyn, but she showed no reciprocity as she sees him as an uncouth hunk. However, as Natalie dates his boss, Quinn needs to prove to her he is a man about the town even if he will earn an Oscar taking her to ballet or opera.

Deirdre Martin provides a fun contemporary restaurant romance that through the secondary characters is a direct tie to the wonderful JUST A TASTE. The story line is lighthearted and amusing as Natalie, unlike Vivi who gave up her taste of Paris for Brooklyn, feels in exile amidst the barbarians. Fans will enjoy Quinn's efforts with the support of both their families to win the heart of the sophisticated snob he loves.

Hard and Fast
Erin McCarthy
9780425228470, $6.99

Imogen Wilson grew up in New York where she attended the best schools the city offered. Ty McCordle suffers from dyslexia so school meant nothing to him as he always fell behind in his class work. Whereas she enjoys studying, he enjoys driving race cars.

In Charlotte, North Carolina they meet when Imogen's friend Professor Tamara Briggs-Monroe (see FLAT OUT SEXY) escorts her to the racing track. Yet in spite of their obvious differences they are attracted to one another. Her feelings for him and noticing a woman at the track whose only goal is to marry one of drivers gives Imogen an idea for her graduate thesis: the courting rituals of stock car racing drivers. However, her hands on field research cause all sorts of problems and sticky situations especially between her and Ty.

This is an amusing contemporary romance starring two seemingly opposites who have more in common than either realizes. The cast makes the tale fun as their reactions to Imogen's field research are priceless. Fans will enjoy riding the track with Ty as he drives HARD AND FAST to win the love of the grad student driving him crazy.

Daring Time
Beth Kerry
9780425227961, $15.00

Chicago Police Detective Ryan Daire inherits an old house from family friend. When he arrives to look at the property with his police partner Ramiro Menandez, he notices a beautiful woman in a mirror that his buddy never sees; she is oddly dressed reminding him of movies taking place early in the twentieth century. Though he considers selling the house, he moves in. When he sleeps he dreams of making love with her; his fantasy seems much more than a wet dream as if they share the same bed.

Ryan researches who the woman haunting him is. He learns her name is Hope Stillwater, she lived in this mansion, and she died violently in 1906. He vows to find a way back to her time to save the life of the woman he loves and find a way for them to live together either in her present or his even as a case he works on endangers his Hope for the future.

DARING TIME is a invigorating fast-paced romantic time travel police procedural. The story line grips the audience with a fabulous "cold case" whodunit, a present day investigation, and plenty of sexual encounters across the century. Beth Kery provides a powerful WICKED BURN of a tale that will readers believing in time travel.

Dropped Dead Stitch
Maggie Sefton
9780425227749, $24.95

Kelly Flynn left a big DC based CPA corporation to move to Fort Connor, Colorado where the pace is slower. She lives with her boyfriend Steve and visits House of Lambspun where she has made good friends with knitters and crocheters. When one of her knitting pals Jennifer Stowe calls her at two twenty in the morning begging her to come over because she was attacked, Kelly wastes no time to get over there.

Jennifer was at a bar talking to a fellow customer when she leaves to go home. The customer rings her bell and informs her she left something behind. She opens her door only he pushes her back in, beats her up and rapes her. She receives professional help. She and the knitters go to a retreat run by her psychologist for assault victims. However, the ranch owner is Jennifer's rapist. Soon after their arrival, Jennifer's attacker is found dead, a homicide victim. Lacking an alibi and having a motive, Jennifer is the prime suspect; Kelly plans to prove otherwise.

Kelly is a one person dynamo and when she sets her mind to something like knitting or sleuthing, nothing can prevent her from achieving her objective. She interrogates people whom she believes know something useful and has a tendency to come close to being killed. Yet she also is a friend who keeps Jennifer's moral up. Her inquiry is terrific because she feels for the culprit whoever that is as they are probably a victim of the ranch owner too. Maggie Sefton provides an engaging amateur sleuth starring a warm caring person struggling along with readers to figure out who the killer is.

The Virgin's Secret
Victoria Alexander
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061449475, $7.99,

In 1885 Gabriella Montini grieves the death of her disgraced brother Enrico while also plotting revenge against the Harrington siblings who she believes stole the proof of his work. Enrico claimed an ancient seal proved the existence of the lost city of Ambropia. However, the seal was stolen, his reputation tattered and before he could prove otherwise he was dead. Gabriella plans to substantiate that Nathaniel and Quinton Harrington stole the seal.

During a gala to honor a Harrington sister, Nate catches Gabriella in their library searching for something. He confronts her and swears they are innocent. Nate also vows to assist on her mission though she distrusts anything Harrington. As they begin to fall in love, her endeavor turns dangerous from someone who will kill to keep the truth buried with Enrico.

This is a terrific Victorian romance starring an intrepid heroine with a death bed request and a daring adventurer joining her quest. The story line is witty especially when the lead couple exchanges barbs and is fast-paced as the action never ends. Fans will enjoy the dangerous late nineteenth century antiquities profession in which peril comes from rivals.

Of Men and their Mothers
Maeve Medwed
9780060831226, $13.99

Her former boyfriend Jack of Somerville Legal Services asks Maisie Grey for a few favors that will help his pro bono client Darlene Lattanzio; whose mother-in-law is suing her for custody of her grandson baby Anthony. Having once had the mother-in-law from hell, Mrs. (that is always and forever) Mrs. Pollock, whom she still wars with over the raising of her sixteen years old son Tommy, Maisie agrees. She hires Darlene at her Boston-based organizing firm, Factotum and even hides the young mother's breast milk in her freezer.

Maisie is also unhappy with Tommy's choice of a girlfriend, September Silva, who was kicked out of her home and now lives with them. At a hospital she runs into former momma's boy Gabe who finally escaped his mom's domination when she died. Maisie and Gabe start dating though she fears he is only looking for a substitute mom and she has two teens living with her. In fact she reads the riot act to Stephanie starting with attending school. September is ecstatic in having a "mom" giving her direction and agrees.

This is an amusing look at the triangle relationships between mothers, their sons and their daughters-in-law. The story line is filled with humor starting with frozen breast milk next to frozen pot pies, but also fails to dig deep into why the ties between mom and son sometimes overwhelms the son's bond with his wife; thus a fun tale could have been a profound contemporary relationship drama, but is not. Although supermom Maisie saves the day for seemingly everyone (except for granny Lattanzio) too easily, fans who enjoy a lighthearted funny romp will want to read OF MEN AND THEIR MOTHERS.

Forbidden Nights With A Vampire
Kerrelyn Sparks
9780061667848, $7.99

Manhattan nightclub owner Vanda Barkowski is forty-five minutes late for her appearance at the East Coast Regional Coven Meeting in White Plains that she was served a summons to appear. Also there is an irate Corky Courrant, hostess of the Digital Vampire Network's show Live with the Undead; Corky warns Vanda it is not over as she has not forgotten the assault. East Coast Coven Master Roman Draganesti informs Vanda she is to attend anger management training for her attack on vamp performer Max the Mega Member with a stiletto as well as two other fired employees.

Phil Jones agrees to mentor Vanda while she undergoes the classes. He knows she is his soulmate, but hides his attraction because he knows she loathes werewolves and he is a wolf shapeshifter. Vanda objects to the class insisting she has no problem and to Phil as her sponsor. She is attracted to this "mortal". Meanwhile the Malcontents continue their rebellion making Vanda a top target; even more than most Romatech employees. Phil vows to keep the love of his life safe.

The seventh Love at Stake urban fantasy romance is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action, but belongs to the biting wit of the heroine. The story line is fun to follow though fans of the series will recognize the theme's similarity to previous tales (see SECRET LIFE OF A VAMPIRE). Still with a sharp tongue lead like Vanda and an alpha like Phil nipping at each other, the audience will have bloody grand time.

A Scotsman in Love
Karen Ranney
9780061252433, $6.99

In 1852, portrait painter Margaret Dalrousie fled St. Petersburg, Russia where she had been a Tsarist favorite to hide from people in remote Glengarrow, Scotland. She is unable to paint with her only relief from the demons that eat at her gut being long solitary walks.

Grieving his wife and daughter, Lord Robert McDermott comes home to Glengarrow to escape the well meaning for the most part but trite sympathy of the Ton. When he sees the artist on her constitution, he blithely informs her to find a new location to haunt as she treks on his property. Robert wants to be left alone as much as Margaret does. Her continual trespassing and her constant firing weapons irritate him. However not as much as his attraction to her which makes the Earl feels guilty; he especially wants to know why a beautiful woman hides in this God forsaken spot. They share grief, desire and the beginning of love, but are those enough to overcome the ghosts of the past that occupy much of their respective minds.

This terrific Victorian romance focus on two despondent people filled with guilt and remorse, who have run away from society. The plot is passionate and poignant because the lead couple fear love and are obsessed with avoiding any relationship especially caring for someone else as that leaves a person crippled with mental anguish and self-reproach. Karen Ranney provides a profound character driven mid nineteenth century tale of love trying to heal two battered souls running away from life.

Jess Michaels
9780061657719, $13.99

Cassandra Willows was to secretly meet Lord Nathan Manning for a tryst that both looked forward to. However, she failed to show up disappointing the aristocrat. Hurt to his core, soon afterward he left for India without knowing why she rejected him after seeming so agreeable.

Years later, the Earl has returned home to England while Cass has become in among the wealthy for her sexy scintillating garments that the aristocrats buy for their mistresses. Meanwhile Nathan seeks a wife and subsequently an heir, but it is Cassandra he wants and Cass he will have. Whatever reason she had for denying them then, he will overcome using every trick in the book and a TABOO or two that are outside the lovers' tome.

This erotic historical romance is an engaging tale due to the lead protagonists. Nathan knows he must marry a suitable lady to sire and heir and a spare, but he only desires Cass. She has found a way to economically survive without a male protector, but never forgot the one that got away. Interestingly the prodigal son seems cold and aloof upon his return, but Cass heats his blood rather quickly as each wants SOMETHING RECKLESS tasting EVERYTHING FORBIDDEN in their love for one another.

Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress
Elizabeth Boyle
9780061373244, $6.99

Lady Philippa "Pippin" Knolles knows she loves American privateer Captain Thomas Dashwell and has for several years since he kissed her on the smuggler's beach way back in 1810 or so; but this was no happy ending as the fickle fingers of life such as war, marriage, and children kept them apart.

In 1837, a widow of two years Pippin welcomes her naval son home. While the Admiral boringly speaks, Pippin glances around to another ship the HMS Regina where she sees a ghost of her past on board. She faints as the young sailor looked like her dashing Dash albeit over two decades ago that is. Unable to resist she goes to find her Dash, but learns you can't go home as he is no longer the daring hero; instead he is a drunk who lives on his past glory. Hoping to save her beloved like she did just before the second war with colonials, she turns to the scandalous red dress she wore to win his love the first time; hopefully this time forever.

Lady Philippa and Captain Thomas Dashwell have been important characters throughout the Bachelor Chronicles (see CONFESSIONS OF A LITTLE BLACK GOWN, LOVE LETTERS FROM A DUKE, THIS RAKE OF MINE and TEMPTED BY THE NIGHT). Thus fans of the saga will especially appreciate this strong entry as the lead couple has changed especially Dash, but their love remains a constant. This is a superb historical that uses "flashbacks" to the Regency era, but the remarkable feat of this book and the other novels in the series is each story line is fresh and organized differently though the cast is somewhat a constant. Readers will have wonderful memoirs of Elizabeth Boyle's outstanding Chronicles for years to come.

True Love And Other Disasters
Rachel Gibson
9780061579066, $7.99

"Bunny" beautiful Faith Duffy married a much older wealthy man, Virgil who took care of his trophy wife in life and in death. However, people disrespect Faith for everyone assumes she married a guy five decades older than her for his money. Though more like a grandfather-granddaughter relationship instead of a married couple, the stripper and the banker loved one another; she grieves his death as she is back all alone.

Besides money, Faith inherited the Seattle Chinooks hockey team; Captain Ty Savage is outraged that a brain dead model is taking over the team as he assumes she is unaware of the surface they play on and probably believes a crossbar is something to dance on. She disdains him as much as he does her because she thinks his disrespectful attitude towards her sucks and should land him a season's worth of misconduct penalties. However, as they become better acquainted their attraction could melt the ice in the Chinooks' rink.

This lighthearted contemporary frolic is an amusing entertaining sports romance in which two seemingly polar opposite worlds body check one another. The story line is ice speed-skating fast but filled with plenty of hip check humor. Though the plot is ice thin, fans will enjoy Rachel Gibson's fun tale of love between a couple, who brings differing meanings to a hat trick.

The Angel and the Highlander
Donna Fletcher
9780061712982, $6.99

Lord Bunnock sends Lachlan Sinclare to escort his runaway daughter Lady Alyce home. To avoid marriage to a dolt selected by her father, Alyce fled to Everagis Abbey. At the convent, Lachlan is informed that Alyce died and that the sisters are in peril from outlaws. Lachlan vows to help the nuns, but is preoccupied with beautiful Sister Terese, who acts so different than the other occupants.

To hide from her sire, Alyce took the identity of a dead nun. She fears her attraction to Lachlan will prove her undoing. Alyce also believes she and the nuns are quite capable of protecting themselves from the bandits. As they fall in what he assumes is taboo love, she must soon decide between her independence and temptation.

The newest late sixteenth century Sinclare Brothers Scottish romance (see RETURN OF THE ROGUE) is a wonderfully amusing tale as the hero struggles between desire and sin while the sassy sexy "sister: struggles between desire and independence. The story line is fast-paced and very humorous as Alyce's web of deceit implodes by her falling in love. Fans will enjoy the latest Sinclare entry due to the lead duo.

Always a Scoundrel
Suzanne Enoch
9780061456756, $7.99

In 1815 Lady Rosamund Davies has no choice except to agree to marry Lord Cosgrove even though she detests him. He is the only person who can save her family from ruin so she is selling herself in unholy matrimony.

Notorious for gambling and womanizing, Lord Bramwell Johns overhears the sale of Rosamund as his alterego the thieving "Black Cat," who robs the rich. Feeling out of sorts since his best friends have recently married (see BEFORE THE SCANDAL and AFTER THE KISS), knowing her younger brother, and feeling sorry for her being sold as cattle, he decides to mentor Rose in the art of passion. However, both are unprepared for that first incredible kiss; now he wants to marry Rose, but to achieve his new objective he must prevent Cosgrove from doing so without causing a scandal.

The third Notorious Gentlemen tale is an excellent Regency romantic suspense starring two fully developed protagonists and her fiance who has his own agenda. In a battle of wits between Bram and Rosamund vs. Cosgrove, the jury is out as the latter has all the advantages starting with his being the intended. As always Suzanne Enoch provides a wonderful historical starring likable lead characters and a vile villain.

Strangle a Loaf of Italian Bread
Denise Dietz
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive
Waterville, ME 04901
9781594147609, $25.95,

In Colorado Springs, Weight Winners diet club leader fortyish Ellie Bernstein is dog-sitting while a member Rachel Lester visits her ailing sister in Houston. Ellie is with her boyfriend Homicide Detective Lieutenant Peter Miller when he receives a call that someone has strangled Sara Lee using a Daffy Duck necktie.

Pete warns Ellie to stay out of it, but she vows to learn who killed the Barbra Streisand voice alike and tossed her corpse in the dumpster behind Uncle Vinnie's Gourmet Italian Restaurant. The obvious suspect her volatile husband former NFL player Trent Zachariah has an alibi. Soon afterward someone kills Rachel's martinet husband Matthew. Ellie tries to reach Rachel in Houston, but learns she is not there as the sister is healthy. As she interviews people at the strip mall where the restaurant is located, Ellie finds a link to her brother and the community theatre auditioning for Hello Dolly.

Although the story line never quite gels into a full meal because the subplots never merge until the final denouement, readers will enjoy this amateur sleuth mystery with a smidgen of a police procedural due to the eccentric cast starting with the heroine who has never found a mystery she can ignore. Ellie loves to sleuth almost as much as she used to love to nosh. The secondary characters are an entertaining group with differing personalities who make Ellie's investigation fun to follow as she analyzes the mean and opportunity considering even a very tall thin female potentially possessing the strength to choke out small Sara and even lift a dead man.

Woman Strangled - News at Ten
Laurie Moore
Five Star
9781594147623, $25.95

Aspen Wicklow graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in journalism and a belief she would soon own the media world. Alas, she is down to double digits in cash and one in prospects. Shocking herself, Aspen obtains a highly regarded job on the Fort Worth TV show Public Defender.

However her first time on the WBFD-TV show, she meets fellow reporter Tig Welder, who warns "Investigative Reporter Barbie" to never scoop or trump him; if she tries she is toast. Station manager J. Gordon Pfeiffer tells her if she wants to stay employed to avoid being the story. Aspen soon meets Johnson County Sheriff Spike Granger when he complains vociferously about overcrowded prisons. She also investigates missing person Candy Drummond, who pledged at the same University of North Texas sorority as she did. Not long afterward her strangled corpse is found and Aspen finds she has broken TV show rules one and two by trumping Tig and becoming part of the story when her inquiries take a life and death of their own.

Laura Moore proves she is not jinxed as she starts a new series starring a fabulous heroine who struggles to adhere to the "rules" while remaining true to herself. The whodunit is fast-paced yet quite amusing and filled with plausible enjoyable twists (a trademark of this author) as Spike and Aspen invesitgate separately and somewhat togetehr (especially when he is checking her out). Fans will enjoy the opening act of a strong journalist mystery.

The Drowning River
Kim Byrne
Five Star
9781594147692, $25.95

Elise Moloney attends graduate school as an English major at Whitman on the Cape on a full scholarship. A student in her first class stares at her and afterward introduces himself as Parker Reilly before blurting out he thought she was dead. Later he shows her a picture from last year's undergraduate yearbook of a deceased student Hannah McPhee who looks like Elise's twin. She learns Hannah died when she fell off a bridge while drunk into the Drowning River

Accompanied by her sex is everything roommate Kat Herrerra, Elise returns home to nearby Hingham to ask her parents if she had a sister that they failed to adopt like they did her. They are stunned saying no, but her mom says if they knew they would have wanted both siblings. Elise investigates what happened to her sibling as Parker's roomie Robbie DeLuca insists Heather was pushed. Meanwhile her attraction to Parker grows even as she knows she owes her former fiance Nick Carrano more than just the letter she sent him ending their relationship. As she digs deeper, someone warns Elise that if she does not back off her parents will die. Being a coward, she wants to quit but even the cowardly lion finds courage to continue the trek.

Although a bit slow at first, this is a fun amateur sleuth cozy starring a likeable heroine who is in shell shock for most of the tale as she leaves her comfort zone to investigate her dead twin, her biological background, and love. While the cast is solid, Elise is fabulous as she accepts she is a coward yet does what she feels she must do. She reacts perfectly to revelations about a previously unknown twin and her avaricious biological mom. Although the killer will be quite a shocker, the culprit makes sense providing complete closure to the story line. Fans will enjoy this entertaining Massachusetts cozy.

Man Corn Murders
Lou Allin
Five Star
9781594147500, $25.95

Ohio residents, reporter Terry Hart and her Aunt Judith are exploring the Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument in Utah by RV. They travel a dangerous Mormon road, but driver Terry panics that they were in the middle of nowhere and turns around to the chagrin of her feisty aunt. To mollify her aunt she takes a side road only to find the mummified body of college student Melanie Briggs, who vanished from a nearby university dig led by Professor Nick Bradshaw. The Sheriff determines it is a tragic accident caused by a vehicle break down and the wind, but the two Ohioans have doubts.

Aunt Judith tries to visit her friend Deborah Winters from her college teaching days who moved to a senior citizen home in Utah, but is told she moved to Seattle. This disturbs Judith as Deborah would have said something. As Terry feels attracted to Nick and aviator Chris Robbins, who took them on an aerial tour, she and Judith investigate the death of the student, what happened to the aunt's colleague, and some suspicious graves.

Leaving Canada (Belle Palmer Northern Ontario mysteries - NORTHERN WINTERS ARE MURDER and British Columbia Royal Canadian Mounted Police Corporal Holly Martin - AND ON THE SURFACE DIE), Lou Allin shows geography is no problem with this fine Utah amateur sleuth. In may ways the vivid description of the Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument steals the show from the solid cast and the investigations. Still the inquiry is fun with a few engaging twists and romance in the air, but it is Utah that owns this enjoyable whodunit.

It's Never Too Late
Donna MacQuigg
Five Star
9781594147784, $25.95

Attorney Kathryne Sheldon is the senior partner in their high powered firm. However, after tolerating her spouse Doug's cheating for over two decades, she has had enough and divorces him. Kathryne also needs a break so as she turns forty-four; she decides to visit her estranged father Hank Sheldon, who left her the law firm when he abruptly moved to Taos, New Mexico.

On the Internet she learns of property for sale next to her dad's luxurious Silver Creek Lodge. John Hawkins needs money to pay his second mortgage that he took out to pay his late wife's medical bills or he will lose his entire ranch; he puts up a parcel for sale as encouraged by his brother-in-law Norman. When he and his buyer meet they are attracted to one another, but neither are aware her ex is putting the unethical and perhaps illegal squeeze on Hawkins as he has a buyer waiting in the wings.

This is an enjoyable contemporary romance between two previously married forty something individuals with radically different lifestyles. The story line is fast-paced, but everyone except Doug is extremely nice; too much so leading to the difficultly to accept the long estrangement between Kathryne and her dad. Still IT'S NEVER TOO LATE lives up to its apropos title as this is true when it comes to relationships.

Secret Keepers
Mindy Friddle
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312537029, $24.95,

In Palmetto, South Carolina, septuagenarian Emma Hanley plans to see the world. However, she has to put on hold her tour when her spouse Harold suddenly dies while having coffee with his female admirers. Emma has no time to consider her loss as her adult children need her and make demands on her.

She is the sole caretaker of Bobby whose illness left him mentally incapable of caring for himself. Dora has turned to religion, compulsive shopping and a martinet spouse. Even Will, who died decades ago in Vietnam, seems to haunt his mom. Dora's former lover from her hippie days Jake Cary comes home to mend a broken heart and fix gardens like that on the neglected estate of Emma's late grandfather Amaranth and indirectly people too so they flourish.

On the surface, SECRET KEEPERS seems like the zillionth southern dynasty saga, but is actually much more as Mindy Friddle looks at how the present turns the past into a family mythos in which facts are irrelevant. Each of the key players in the hamlet extended family including the late patriarch, grandfather and Will seem like real persons with each one possessing a personalized definition of what heaven on earth would be to them; however that denotation is always out of reach. Filled with pathos and eccentricity, readers will enjoy the misadventures of the SECRET KEEPERS.

Doomsday Can Wait
Lori Handeland
St. Martin's Press
9780312947163, $7.99

Elizabeth Phoenix used use her psychic skills with the Milwaukee police, but soon learns what her horrific visions mean when monsters murder her foster mother Ruthie and left her unconscious; now she can see the monsters (see ANY GIVEN DOOMSDAY). Because of her skills, she has become a federation leader fighting the dark. She actually wins her first battle though many of her soldiers die in the confrontation as she learns the difficult responsibility of a general as she deploys people she knows she is sending to die even though success delays Doomsday for now.

Liz has numerous enemies now including the Navaho witch woman of smoke Naye'I, mother of her skinwalking ally Sawyer. She is unsure she can trust her former lover Jimmy Sanducci; as she and he recently learned he is a dhampire who feels he is losing his restrain to not turn to his sire's enticing malice. To defeat Naye'i, Liz knows she needs two allies, Sawyer and Jimmy, but one is the son of her adversary and the other has walked the dark side next to his purebred malevolent father.

The second Phoenix Chronicles urban fantasy has the world even darker and grittier in spite of insuring DOOMSDAY CAN WAIT for a future engagement. Liz is terrific as the story line focuses on her inner doubts re sending people to certain death and trusting Sawyer and Jimmy while trying to understand the enormous visions that shake her core as all she sees is bleakness. The apocalypse is here as Lori Handeland provides a powerful gloomy world with little hope for humanity's survival as the sinister minions of wickedness march forward seeking a second battle. The constant war of attrition is on the side of evil.

The Chosen One
Carol Lynch Williams
St. Martin's Press
9780312555115, $16.95

In the Chosen Ones compound, the leader Prophet Childs, accompanied by three apostles, visits the trailer home of the extended Carlson family to provide them with a treasured gift. He informs the patriarch, his three wives and twenty-one children that thirteen year old Kyra will become the seventh wife of her Uncle Hyrum; her father's brother who is sixty years old.

Her father and biological mother are stunned by the "good" news. They understand why the oldest offspring is unacceptable for an important apostle like his sibling, but cannot fathom an elderly uncle making his teen niece pregnant. Kyra is even more horrified as she has been reading banned books from the library on wheels that have made her question the polygamist Commandments of the Chosen Ones. As their enforcers the God Squad goons insure everyone behaves through excess force, abuse and murder, Kyra wonders how she can escape this atrocity that feels like a rape of her soul and soon her body without causing her family repercussive atrocities.

This is an exciting young adult drama as Kyra's fears (for herself and her family) feel real and propel the story line. Character driven, readers will obtain a deep look at a sect whose dogma controls every aspect of life for the flock. Although somewhat over-killed to the extreme, as the elders ignore "Thou shall not kill by murdering parishioners, fans will enjoy this timely read as Carole Lynch Williams defines what it means to bestowed with the honor of being THE CHOSEN ONE while given no other choices.

Marine One
James W. Huston
St. Martin's Press
9780312364311, $24.95

During a nasty storm, Marine One carrying President James Adams leaves for a top secret meeting at Camp David. Not far from the White House, the helicopter begins to rip apart before crashing to the ground; no one including PROTUS survived the crash.

A stunned despondent country encouraged by politicians and the media, blame the manufacturer of Marine One, a French based company, WorldCopter. Criminal neglect charges are considered against the CEO and other key officials. WorldCoptor hires Annapolis attorney Mike Nolan to defend it against the charges. Based on a cursory investigation, Mike quickly finds other parties who could be held liable for the tragedy. However, as he tries to obtain information as to whom Adams was scheduled to meet, unknown adversaries try to kill him and the Feds warn him to back off or else.

MARINE ONE is a fast-paced, action packed legal thriller that soars with the opening sequence and never takes a pause throughout. Told with a sarcastic jocularity especially by the hero who takes in stride being demonized by the media as he understands he is a lawyer, attacked by assassins as he understands he is a lawyer and threatened by the federal alphabet soup as he understands he is a lawyer. Exciting yet amusing, James W. Huston provides a wild entertaining tale.

The Cold Light Of Mourning
Elizabeth J. Duncan
St. Martin's Press
9780312558536, $24.95

Two and a half decades ago, manicurist Penny Brannigan left Canada to relocate in Llanelen, Wales where she opened a reasonable successful manicure shop. However, the usually calm Penny is a bit disturbed to learn Meg Wynne Thompson vanished just before she was to say I do to the squire's son. Her disappearance would mean nothing to Penny except the last known place she was seen was her manicure shop.

Though it may be a case of a runaway bride filled with trepidation, Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Davies does not rule out foul play and considers the wedding guests as potential suspects. Penny informs Gareth about the strange client whom she now believes was not Meg but someone pretending to be the missing woman. As the police arrest the fiance whose father suddenly dies Meg and her buddy Victoria Hopkird begin asking questions that bring them to the attention of someone who prefers the case to stay the way the police see it; especially since Davies pays heed to Penny's tips.

THE COLD LIGHT OF MOURNING is an interesting Welsh village police procedural with an amateur sleuth subplot. In some ways the star of the story line is Llanelen as Elizbath J. Duncan provides a vivid look at a seemingly remote sleepy rustic hamlet; this gives the mystery a cozy feel until the dramatic ending. Well written and the winner of the Minotaur/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel award, fans of Welsh village mysteries will enjoy this tale and want more whodunits starring the hamlet, the two amateurs and the DCI.

Dope Thief
Dennis Tafoya
St. Martin's Press
9780312531157, $24.95

Ray and Manny met as tweeners at a juvenile detention center. They became pals and remain so two decades later in spite of both spending time in prison. Each has a long rap sheet that is loaded with burglaries.

The pair managed to come up with DEA badges and DEA windbreakers. For the past year in Philadelphia they have raided two bit illegal drug operations pretending to be Federal agents; they especially like hitting meth labs. Their scheme is brilliant as those they rob from cannot call the cops or afford to hunt them down. However, they make a big error when they accidentally steal from someone holding a few hundred grand. They know he and his cohorts are coming after them as Ray concludes their crime spree is over and wants out if he survives, but doubts Manny or the mark chasing them will allow him to just leave alive.

In many ways this character study focuses on the nurturing vs. naturing debate as Ray's father insists he cannot overcome generations of criminal activity that flows in his blood while a woman he likes insists he can if he truly wants to. The story line is packed with plenty of action, but is more a character study than a crime tale as the audience sees deeply what makes Ray tick especially while he looks back at his past and considers his future while in the hospital. Dennis Tafoya provides a fascinating glimpse at a young man whose life has been criminal and whose future looks short.

Death and Honesty
Cynthia Riggs
St. Martin's Press
9780312567057, $23.95

Nonagenarian Martha Vineyard deputy police officer Victoria Trumbull finds the corpse of widow Lucy Pease in the home of assessor Ellen Meadows, who is away. Victoria also finds property cards containing tax information that should never have been removed from city hall.

She makes a few inquiries and soon begins to find circumstantial evidence that the three town assessors and their clerk are pulling a scam to skim money from property tax payments by placing a "personal surcharge" on many owners. She also learns that the clerk Oliver Ashpine is planning to extort money through a usury property tax from TV star Delilah Sampson, who owns island property and has a scandalous past long buried. Two more corpses are found as Victoria with the help of Emery Meyer continues her investigation.

The latest Martha's Vineyard police procedural mystery (see SHOOTING STAR) is a strong entry that combines the solid investigative wok of ninety-two year old Victoria with a wonderful look at the islanders. Victoria is at her best as she begins to unravel a tax fraud that has led to murder. Series fans will enjoy DEATH AND HONESTY as the feisty heroine follows the clues while escorting the awed audience around Martha's Vineyard.

Choral Society
Prue Leith
St. Martin's Press
9780312560782, $25.95

The fifty something women meet in a choral class and become friends at a time each suffers from a midlife crisis. Lucy the food columnist has recently lost her husband and apparently now her column. Single mom Rebecca has always been single going through men like M&Ms though the constant meeting, dating and breaking up has made her wary. Venture capitalist Joanna is bored with her life as she is comfortable with bottom lines not men.

The choral director Nelson and Rebecca begin a tryst. Joanna falls in love for the first time but learns a sad lesson about mixing work with pleasure. Rebecca helps Lucy with a complete makeover that gives her confidence to try to obtain a teaching position and perhaps even a new man.

This is an engaging character study of three middle age women struggling with issues and men, or lack of the latter. Each of the three BFFs is unique as they each approach life from different foundations. Although they all would like a loving relationship with a male, each of the trio understands "I will survive" (Gloria Gaynor) without one; as they are strong and strengthened by their friendships so that they believe they can do anything because "I am woman" (Helen Reddy).

Life Without Summer
Lynne Griffin
St. Martin's Press
9780312383886, $23.95

In a Boston suburb, life had been perfect for Ethan, Tessa and their four years old daughter Abby; until in a second, their child was killed by a hit and run driver near the Bright Futures Preschool she attended. Apparently, there are no witnesses to the vehicular death. After meeting cold aloof homicide detective Caulfield, Tessa concludes the cop will not do any inquiry beyond asking the preschool if anyone witnessed the deadly incident.

Ethan grieves but Tessa is shattered even sleeping in Abby's bed. Her husband, worried about his wife, persuades her to visit grief therapist Celia, who seems more than just sympathetic; as if they share a commonality. Tessa finds some minor solace using her journalistic skills to investigate her daughter's murder. She draws up a list of potential suspects.

Celia has married history professor Alden, after her first marriage to Harry fell apart when they discovered a shocker on their sailboat. She moved on, but Harry became a drunk and increasingly depressed teenage son Ian has chosen to live with him. On Tessa's list near the top is Harry.

This is an intriguing character study that looks deep into the grieving process and the difficulty to obtain personal redemption. The story line uses the investigation as a means for Tessa to try to move on. Journals kept by both women enable the audience to understand what disturbs each of them, making each seem real; although Lynne Griffin conceals critical information from readers that should have appeared in earlier journal entries seems unfair, yet doing this also allows the tension to mount exponentially. Fans will enjoy Celia's efforts to learn who did it.

Trust No One
Gregg Hurwitz
St. Martin's Press
9780312534899, $24.95

In 1991 when Nick Horrgian was just two days from his eighteenth birthday, he snuck out of his house to have sex with an older woman. Leaving the house unsecured, he comes home to a horrific sight; someone killed his stepfather Secret Service Agent Frank Durant. The police claim a robbery gone badly, but Nick believes otherwise. When he begins investigating, suits warn him to disappear or his mom will be next and he will be locked away for murdering Frank. Without saying goodbye to his grieving mom, Nick is placed on a plane and flies to Alaska. Nine years pass before he sees his mother again, but she remains in denial as she did when Frank died.

Seventeen years have past since Frank died and Nick keeps a low profile while living in California. That is until two Secret service Agents Joe Wydell and Reid Sever knock down his apartment door. They claim a terrorist with a nuclear bomb is threatening to blow up San Onofre nuclear reactor if they fail to bring Nick to him. Nick talks with Charlie who has no bomb, but gives him a key and tells him they are coming for him. Nick gives Charlie a cell phone the agents gave him, which explodes killing the man and hurting Nick. Soon afterward POTUS and his opponent running for the Oval office talk with Nick, who is in the highest level political crosshairs, but has no idea why. However, he vows no more running as he heeds what Frank told him years ago: "TRUST NO ONE".

From the opening sequence, this is a gripping thriller that captures the audience when the Secret Service come for Nick and never releases the reader until the final confrontation. The story line is fast-paced while Nick and fans learn how clever the Feds are at spinning a scenario. Nick's greatest lesson is Frank's mantra to TRUST NO ONE; as everyone has a personal agenda.

Lover Avenged
J.R. Ward
NAL (New American Library)
c/o Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451225856, $24.95,

In Caldwell, New York, drug dealer Rehvenge is happy for his sister Bella to be married to one of the vampire King Wrath's Black Dagger Brotherhood vampires, but he tries to remain above the fray between them and their enemies the Lessers because he fears the secret he conceals could harm his sibling and his mom. However, his dark secret is known by at least one person who uses it to extort emotional and sexual Rehvenge.

His only light in his personal storm is Havers Clinic vampire nurse Ehlena who has cared for his injuries but rejects his efforts to court her. Instead her focus remains on earning money to care for her ailing father. Responsible for her ailing father, nurse Ehlena struggles to make ends meet. However his latest visit to the clinic makes Ehlena, who hides her attraction to Rehvenge, concerned about his health as he is a victim of someone extremely nasty.

The latest Brotherhood vampire romantic suspense is an excellent entry in one of the great sagas on the market today. The story line moves forward on several overarching plots while also telling the tale of love between an antihero and an angelic vampire. Fans of the series will recognize LOVER AVENGED as one of the better stories in several books, which is saying a lot, while newcomers will be somewhat lost in the complex multifaceted thriller.

Carpe Corpus
Rachel Caine
9780451227195, $6.99

Morganville is not your typical college town because vampires make the rules that paranormal and humans must obey. For instance mortals are required to contribute to the blood bank. It is difficult to leave Morganville because you need vampire permission. Amelie was the head vampire, who ran the town with compassion for all, but her father Bishop led a coup d'etat and with the help of spells and insider information has taken over.

Amelie and her followers reside in the shadows waiting for the moment to take back their town from the lethal lock of her sire. Some people, who really know the brilliant teen, Claire Danvers, believe she is the only hope to save the town. However, even Claire must heed Bishop's call since he marked her. Her boyfriend Shane and her father await execution, but Claire convinces Amelie to free him. Claire her friend Michael the vampire, a vampire scientist and goth girl Eve are also waiting to bring down Bishop and use his blood as an antidote to end the disease killing vampires.

Rachel Caine has carved out a unique niche in the urban fantasy sub-genre with her super young adult Morganville Vampires. Her mythos is wonderful as she makes the town seem genuine with humans and vampires living in a shaky peaceful coexistence; reminiscent of the early Gorbachev-Reagan era Cold War; that is before Bishop took over and brought overt hostility (sort of a return to Stalin) into the insecure relationships. The latest thriller contains plenty of action, but as always in this saga, CARPE CORPSE is character driven by the good, the bad, and the evil.

Phaedra Weldon
Ace Books
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780441017164, $15.00,

Zoe Martinique is a Wraith; a being who can travel in spirit form to the Abysmal and Ethereal planes. It has taken her a while to get used to having this new skill, which can occur spontaneously without warning. She is not sure if she is an Irin, the child of an angel and a human. However just when she needs her power to rescue her mother who is trapped on the Abysmal Plane, it vanishes without explanation and she has no earthly idea how to get it back.

The Archer aka T.C is a being from the Abysmal Plane who is linked to Zoe, and if she dies so does she so it is in his best interests to keep her alive. The Phantasm wants to use Zoe to enter the mortal realm where he intends to take control of the planet. TC believes the Phantasm is blocking Zoe's power so they come up with a plan to get them freed. It is dangerous as the price of victory is extremely high; defeat means most likely death.

PHANTASM contains an exhilarating serpentine story line with so many puzzles to solve; readers will wonder how the paranormal can protect the newcomer. Zoe is a kick butt heroine who has finally accepted her heritage as the audience learns through flashbacks re her childhood. She proves formidable as she believes she can defeat the Phantasm though she understands little about her skills. Character driven though action-packed, Phaedra Weldon's third Zoe urban fantasy (see WRAITH and SPECTRE) is fantastic.

House of Suns
Alastair Reynolds
9780441017171, $26.95

Six million years ago, Abigail Gentian formed her clan the House of Flowers by cloning herself into a thousand male and female shatterlings. She assigns her "children" to travel separately across the galaxy as observers of sentient life-forms. Every two hundred thousand years they are to come home to report on what they watched. The Gentian House has become the wealthiest in the known universe as each child performs their mission diligently.

However, this time something has gone wrong after so many successful spins of the galaxy wheel. The gathering has not occurred on time as someone is killing Abigail's clones. Worse than death, two shatterlings, Campion and Purslane, have broken the forbidden taboos; not only have they failed to report being five decades late, they have traveled together and fallen in love. Each understands that if their mother learns of their transgression, they will die. However, even before they decide about Mother, the pair realizes that an adversary is murdering their sisters and brothers as they journey home, but death rides with them.

Most of the tale focuses on the dangerous journey home by Campion and Purslane as they have broken other rules especially with a failure to deliver to the family information super library Vigilance and the effort to rescue siblings. This pair finding companionship and love turn Abigail's inhuman clones into humans as the need to belong and the willingness to sacrifice are traits the shatterlings never had before. Alternating first person between Campion and Purslane (and at times Abigail) seems unnecessary as they are together and their viewpoints almost identical. Still although some fans will miss the vastness of space and time author trademarks that are only hinted at in HOUSE OF SUNS, readers will enjoy this intriguing science fiction thriller as the lead couple goes where no shatterling (or Alastair Reynolds) has gone before with the help of Hesperus the robot they journey to the heart of the galaxy.

A Flash of Hex
Jes Battis
9780441017232, $7.99

On an alternate earth, materia (magic) is very common) and those who possess it are brought into CORE (the Conservatory of Mage and Others); there job is to police the supernatural community; especially demons, half-demons, necromancers, and other practitioners of dark magic. Tess Corday is an Occult Special Investigator, who, with her gay partner Derrick make a great investigative team. Mia, Tess's ward, has the VB-positive (vampire retrovirus) and is taking medicine to keep from turning. She knows her family investigates supernatural crimes, but their current one is perhaps the most gruesome yet.

Tess and Derrick go to an apartment where they find the body of a teen floating upside down from the ceiling. He bled out from his carotid artery dripping into a cauldron. The victim is the son of Devorah Kynan, a very powerful mage, who pressures the OCI to find her son's killer. Four other teenage offspring of mages were killed in the last few weeks in a similar fashion. It looks like a magical entity is carrying out a serial killing ritual and needs to be stooped before it completes its task. Tess has to deal with Mr.Corvid, a pureblood demon raised in another realm. He tells her the answers are in her mind if she would only look inside; to do this she would need to take the highly addicted hallucinogenic drug Hex. She gets some answers from her childhood past when she signed up for CORE and now she needs to put the pieces together and find the entity before it kills again

Urban fantasy is obviously in and perhaps satiating the market, but sub-genre fans will relish A FLASH OF HEX, an exciting police procedural with deep fascinating characters who make the world of Battis seem genuine. The tale is loaded with suspense even when Tess learns more about herself than she ever wanted to know. The support cast is filled with flawed characters that enhance the realm, but the bottom line remains this is Tess' tale as she and Derrick go after a supernatural serial killer.

Night of Knives
Ian C. Esslemont
Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010,
0765323699, $25.95 (HC) 0765323710, $14.95 (PB)

Every generation the isle of Malaz suffers from the convergence of the Shadow Moon when the real world becomes a shadow to other realities and these other realities come as shadows to Malaz. Rumors fly that this time will include the unique returns of Malazan Emperor Kellanved and his master assassin Dancer; neither has been seen in ages. Surly the Mistress of the Imperial Assassin the Claw ruled over the empire and is not taking any chances of losing her power so has traveled to the island to insure Kellanved and Dancer do not return.

As the moon rises, islanders stay in doors hoping to remain safe from the evil invaders, demon-hounds, walking dead and even more dreaded others things. Wanting to leave Malaz, Kiska feels joining the Imperial Forces is her only exit; battle tested veteran Temper hides from his past with a new identity on Malaz. Neither believed in the myths, but soon both become embroiled in the encroaching malevolence when a corpse asks Kiska to deliver a message as the ancient power of the Shadow Moon has arisen.

Ian C. Esslemont collaborated with Steven Erikson to create the multiple cultures of the Malazan World (see Mr. Erikson's Book of the Fallen saga). In NIGHT OF KNIVES, he extrapolates on the prologue to Mr. Erikson's the Gardens of the Moon to create a rich history that in the Book of the Fallen becomes mythical history. Fans of Malazan will be stunned with this super dark fantasy as Mr. Esslemont stays true to the essence of the latter years' saga while providing a terrific tale.

Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America
Robert Charles Wilson
9780765319715, $25.95

It is 2172 and America is a radically different place since the oil was depleted. Transportation and communication are gone; people indenture their lives and that of their children to the Aristos who own vast Estates in return for food, clothing and shelter. The term for a president is thirty years as civilization has reverted back to no better than the early nineteenth century. In fact the goal of the present is a new "Manifest destiny" to encompass the entire continent.

President Deklan Comstock had his brother hung for the crime of becoming too popular; Julian Bryce's son now lives in the backwater town of Williams Ford. Julian the president's nephew, his mentor Sam and their friend Adam escape the local enlistment only to be impressed into the army. Julian becomes a hero known as young Captain Commongold throughout the Republic. Deklan is irate as history seems to repeat itself with his nephew replacing his bold and charismatic brother. To prevent further mishap to his presidency, Deklan sends Julian and friends to the front with few supplies and the worst troops; he figures if the enemy fails to kill the usurper, his subordinates will when they rebel.

Extrapolating current day economic, extremism and environmental trends, Robert Charles Wilson paints a bleak future for the sixty stars and thirteen stripes as the Bush legacy. One disaster after another has devastated America until the president becomes a tyrant and the country is divided between the less than 1% ultra wealthy Dominion And Aristos and the impoverished rest. The Christian Churches, the property owners, and the president determine what can be read by the masses and what is dumbed down taught in schools. Julian is an interesting person who is seen through the eyes of the narrator (Adam) as a champion who never wanted to be a hero, but was destined to be one. Though fascinating as he is, it is Mr. Wilson's America tha t grimly owns this futuristic thriller.

Brandon Sanderson
9780765320308, $27.95

Though he is loathed to do so, King Dedelin of Idris must adhere to the treaty signed ages ago in which he is required to send his daughter to marry the God King of Hallandren; as he cannot renege since Susebron's kingdom is so much more powerful than his. However, the agreement is not specific as to which daughter he sends so he decides to go with his younger one, seventeen year old tomboy Siri rather than the apple of his eye, lovely Vivenna.

Upon arrival at her new home, Siri is shocked by the intrigue and backstabbing of her fiance's retinue; especially those allegedly loyal to the monarch. Spies are everywhere. Meanwhile, Vivenna runs away from home to save her sister from a fate she believes is worse than death. She joins a band of Idrian travelers and begins to learn to control her magical skills. At the same time back from the dead hero Lightsong wonders what the Returned Gods commanding Hallandren's army of zombies want from King Susebron.

Known for his Mistborn saga, Brandon Sanderson provides a superb stand alone character driven fantasy. The story line is action packed from the moment the courageous Vivenna sets out to save her younger sister Siri and never decelerates. Yet with that fast pace, several great twists, and plenty of adventures, the cast makes the tale super as monarchs, reanimated dead, returning Gods all learn to never judge a book solely by its cover; because if so Vivenna would have stayed girly girl inside her daddy's castle. Hopefully Mr. Sanderson provides more tales in this interesting realm.

Jay Lake
9780765321855, $26.95

The stranger who bought her from her father the farmer named her Emerald. The child does not know her birth name or recall anything about her mom; she only remembers her father selling her and the stranger taking her from the family farm to the home of the immortal Duke of the Pomegranate Tree where he has ruled over the city of Copper Downs and the Storm Sea for centuries. At the court, she will be trained as a consort and an assassin.

Over time, Emerald as she becomes an adolescent insists stubbornly Green is her name. She becomes the best assassin but decides she deserves much more than to be a courtesan killer for an evil duke. She rebels; which turns the city violent as even the meddling Gods intervene. As the world order changes, Green tenaciously clings to her childhood dream since being sold; to go back to the farm to learn her roots.

GREEN is an exciting somewhat simplistic action-packed fantasy. The uncomplicated story line will still fascinate readers due to the resoluteness of the title heroine as she fearlessly sets forth on adventures that change a world though all she wants is to leave as she knows what she wants and risks all to achieve it. Fans will root for the courageous yet obdurate Green, as she mulishly fights to go home even though that means turning a city upside down.

The Revolution Business
Charles Stross
9780765316721, $24.95

The Clan Corporate believes they are invincible in spite of growing evidence that rebel activity from within their feudal system is growing rapidly. They base their logic on their magical ability to cross into parallel worlds like that of an advanced earth; as with the internal threat, the Clan fails to understand that the scientific based world knows of their cross dimensional ventures and have labeled the Clan a terrorist group by the USA.

At the same time the Clan fails to read the facts, Boston reporter Miriam Beckstein has been freed from jail, but is pregnant and remains at the crosshairs of political rivals on two worlds who either want her dead or incarcerated. She becomes front and center on the American terrorist list when apparently world crossers steal nuclear weapons from the United States at the same time American engineering and science is close to finding a way to cross over to the Clan dominated world.

The latest Merchant Princes fantasy-science fiction (see THE MERCHANTS' WAR) is exciting and action-packed as political intrigue on two worlds makes for an interesting read filled with twists and betrayals. Miriam is terrific as she goes from the frying pan to the nuclear fire while somewhat serving as the closest character to a lead protagonist; with people moving in and people moving out, the temptation is to assume no star exists with the story line to some extent overwhelmed by the masses. Still this is an entertaining entry that sets the table for what appears to be coming: when worlds collide.

The Immortality Factor
Ben Bova
9780765305251, $25.95

Grenford Laboratory Director Arthur Marshak discovers a method for human organ regeneration that enables the host body to replace ailing parts. The announcement causes a tsunami of support and criticism. Some called him God's agent on earth while others claimed he was a blasphemer.

Arthur agrees to appear before a Congressional "science court" in Washington, D.C. so that his project is not destroyed by politicians pandering their political base as he believes strongly that his achievement is a great gift to mankind. On the science court board is Arthur's estranged brother, Jesse, a winner of humanitarian awards for his work with the poor in the Bronx. Jesse opposes the technique claiming another example of money buying health as only the wealthy would be able to afford it. He has personal reasons to be against it too as he and Arthur fell in love with Julia, but he married her and then there is their late mother to split them further.

This is an insightful exciting medical thriller that makes a strong case to keep politics out of scientific research. The story line is at its best during the tribunal hearings as all sorts of irrelevant headline grabbing sound bites is tossed continually including by the "judges". The relationship triangle feels stiff and out of place as means to add sibling conflict. On the other hand a hostile business takeover attempt though not as explored like the politics intervening in science is interesting as the other firm has agenda to squash certain unacceptable research. Fans will enjoy Ben Bova's latest tale as he argues politics and science research are a bad combination.

The Other Side of Magic
Eve of Darkness
S.J. Day
9780765360410, $6.99

In California, interior designer Evangeline Hollis meets a hunk on a stairwell and cannot resist his lure. After heating up Orange County, he leaves and she notices a triangle etched into her arm. Soon after her encounter, her decade ago lover Alec Cain arrives to inform her ironically that she a true nonbeliever is now marked as a killer for God.

Eve is irate with Cain for deserting her ten years ago without a look back and the man in the stairwell, who turns out to be his brother Reed Abel for putting the Mark of Cain on her. Her new unwanted vocation is to destroy the evil Infernals while staying alive as demons have marked her for hell.

The first "Marked" romantic urban fantasy is a superb gritty tale starring a fabulous creative triangle. Eve holds the exciting dark story line together as the agnostic suddenly has a new belief system; hell she was just an Orange County interior designer and now she is Marked as a bounty hunter of Infernals heating the earth. Worse she has to deal with Cain and Abel as each fills her with desire that will ban her from attending Angels' baseball games. Sub-genre fans will enjoy the EVE OF DARKNESS and look forward to more gritty destruction as chaos has become the heroine's norm.

L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
9780765323026, $24.95

In the twenty-fifth century, there is a new world order as the Chinese dominated Federation rules over earth and colonized planets. War and other events led to the collapse of America and there are parts of the world including the USA that are uninhabitable due to radiation.

Federation agent Major Keir Roget is sent to the world Haze named for the deep covering that makes the orb impossible to see what is on it from space and unable to ascertain whether any civilization inhabits the planet. When he lands planet-side, he is met by
Lyvia, a guide selected to establish contact with outworlders. On the surface Haze seems to be a thriving planet with cities connected by an incredible transpiration system. However, beneath the outer facade there is technology way beyond that of the Federation. Circling Haze are warships that the Government of Dubriety know are there. Roget fears what he has learned, but must find a way to get his information to his superiors and pray they believe him as what he finds is eerily familiar to another mission that left him almost insane.

L.E. Modesitt, Jr. takes his fans on a grand tour of a planet so vividly described that readers will picture Haze. The culture is humanoid, at least that is what Roget believes though he believes he has not seem much beyond what the hosts want him to see. Hooked to learn what is beneath the hazy surface, the audience will appreciate Mr. Modesitt, Jr. at his best.

The Human Disguise
James O'Neal
9780765320148, $15.95

In just a few decades from now, the world is teetering on the brink of annihilation. The United States has become Fortress America closing its borders to keep out people who are carriers of the bio-plague, a man made disease that has killed millions across the globe. Carriers already inside the country are placed on reservations or dumped inside the quarantine zone that has become what was once Miami; NYC is a nuclear wasteland. Iran has been nuked back to the Stone Age and Germany is marching towards Poland.

Unified Police Officer Tom Wilner is spying on his soon to be ex-wife Svala and her lover Tiget Nadonich when he observes guns being fired. A man is injured and not expected to survive; evidence is taken to the station. The man recovers and walks out of the hospital the next day and the evidence vanishes. Tom ends up with it, but to extended family groups, the Hallecks and the Simolits want what he has for radically differing reasons. Tom distrusts both families who seem more than human to him. Each has an agenda with the Simolits wanting to expand the Miami Quarantine zone so that his people can roam free of persecution. Tiget kidnaps Tom's children to force him to hand over the evidence. Now it is personal as Tom must stop both sides while rescuing his kids.

James O'Neal describes a near future that is bleak and civil rights have become extinct except in fairy tales. Central government is weak and corrupt while convicts are sent to labor camps or front line military fodder. The world is excited about the coming of the Uralian aliens who have made contact and are coming to earth. The premise is riveting and the story line lives up to that theme with a deep mystery, plenty of intrigue, and action starring a former hero beaten down by the human collapse but not out as proven by his reactions. THE HUMAN DISGUISE is on a par with the works of Whitney Strieber.

Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones
c/o Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765359834, $4.99,

Natalie struggles to adjust to having Buttercup a nervous rat as her link to the other world; while the other two rookie keyholders, Penny and Luke are pleased with their links respectively Kirin the unicorn and Dracula the dragon. However after being chased by three goblins, their mentor Mr. Leery decides to begin their training. Only Natalie succeeds in finding holes ripped open by agents of evil Queen of the Boggarts in the threads between Morgantown and the supernatural realm.

Natalie takes Buttercup to school and a teacher takes the rat away. The girl is hysterical but Buttercup escapes. Mr. Leery and his link Mr. Mo the cat decide the time is right to take the future keyholders to the OTHER SIDE OF MAGIC.

The second Keyholders elementary school age urban fantasy (see THIS SIDE OF MAGIC) is a fun tale as the three rookie keyholders struggle with their responsibilities; where as Penny and Luke relish their respective links, Natalie is a snob until her rat is taken from her. On the other hand, she proves the only one of the three adept at magic. Young readers will enjoy this fun tale as the threesome with their links and their mentors cross to the OTHER SIDE OF MAGIC.

This Side of Magic
Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton-Jones
9780765359827, $3.99

The hedge abetted by magic protects the residents of Morgantown from supernatural creatures like the evil Boggarts whose queen plans to invade the town and then the world. Meanwhile best friends Penny and Luke visit their neighbor Mr. Leery, who asks them to watch his cat Mr. Mo as he attends a funeral of an associate; they agree.

The kids meet a strange fifth grader who wants to see Mr. Leery. When Mr. Mo goes berserk the weird kid flees. Mr. Leery returns and explains to the two kids that they are apprentice keyholders, a job that Penny accepts while Luke wants to decline. Mr. Leery explains he is the last of three keyholders who insure the hedge magic remains strong to keep the Boggarts out; they and someone else will replace him and his two late associates after two centuries on the job. As Penny connects with Kirin the sarcastic unicorn and Luke with Dracula the baby dragon, they learn the third keyholder is the snob Natalie who connects aptly so with Buttercup the rat, and the weird kid is a Boggart spy. Though not ready the three fifth grade keyholders must prevent the Boggart hordes from invading Morgantown.

The first Keyholders' urban fantasy is a fun often amusing thriller. The tale starts off a bit slow as the players are introduced, but the pace picks up once Mr. Leery leaves town. Penny and Luke are likable kids while affluent snob Natalie is not. The apprentice trio has some humorous moments as they battle the Boggart spy and attempt to prevent the invasion to the delight of elementary school age readers.

The Spy Who Haunted Me
Simon R. Green
c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10014-3658
9780451462725, $24.95,

The dedicated Drood family understands their mission is to protect mankind from paranormal assaults. However, there appears to be a traitor amidst the Drood brood; shaking the family to its core as none has ever betrayed the trust. Eddie "Shaman Bond" Drood vows to learn who the seditious agent is and the deadly duplicity one way or another.

However, Eddie is forced to put aside his personal quest as the fabled Arthur King is dying without an heir; forcing Eddie and several other agents to try to solve the King's riddles. Revealing five of humanity's most puzzling mysteries will lead to uncovering the King's secrets and to his surprise help identify the traitor.

The quests take Eddie and his intrepid team to some of the more famous mysterious locales like Roswell. However, the key to this superb investigative urban fantasy is the choices Eddie must make between resolving his family's needs and saving mankind from destruction. The mystery subplot is clever and fun to follow as that is the avenue Eddie travels in unlocking the King's secrets, but the stops along the way in which he is forced into several Hobson Choices make Simon R. Green's latest Brood crew thriller (see THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN TORC and DAEMONS ARE FOREVER) an excellent adventure.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Larsen's Bookshelf

Stand of Fox Company: A True Story of U. S. Marines in Combat
Bob Drury and Tom Clavin
Atlantic Monthly Press/ Grove Atlantic, Inc.
841 Broadway, New York, New York 10002-4793
9780871139931 $25.00 212-614-7868

On November 27,1950, a Chinese army of some 70,000 troops poured into North Korea. Their goal was to destroy the 12,000 man force of U. S. Marines who were marching north to the Yalu River under orders from General Douglas MacArthur. Three Marine regiments were strung out along 80 miles of a narrow mountain road, climbing to the high plateau of the Chosin Reservoir. The temperature stood at thirty below zero with an even colder chill factor. Winter had arrived in North Korea.

The Marines were completely surrounded by eight Chinese divisions. Soon the breakout began.

Fox Company of the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Marine Regiment was ordered to keep the Main Service Road (M.S.R. NK72) open at the narrow gorge at Toktong Pass, about 10 miles south of Yudam-ni and 10 miles north-west of Hagaru-ri

This then is the true story of how Captain William Barber and 246 men in the undermanned, under-armed Fox Company withstood constant attacks for 4 days and 5 nights and held on to what became known as Fox Hill.

This defense cost Fox Company three quarters of its personnel killed, wounded and captured, but kept the road open for the rest of the marines who ran the gauntlet to Koto-ri and finally to Hungnam.

The Last Stand of Fox Company raises the bar to a new level for narrative history from the Korean War. The writing is suburb, the story heroic!

Authors Drury and Clavin have already set the standard for World War Two narratives with their outstanding offering, Halsey's Typhoon. If you missed it, find it and read it!

Not Your Fathers War: In the Service of the Cold War
Dennis Miner
Outskirts Press, Inc.
Denver Colorado
9781432736613 $11.95

Not Your Fathers War is a jewel. It is based on a diary the author kept from January 1971 to March 1974. The book is aptly dedicated to all who served in the armed forces of the United States during the Cold War.

Much of our military served only in peace time, practicing for wars that never came but they also served. The risks Miner took in the day-to-day performance of his duty, the lessons he learned in training have shaped Major Minor's life. We thank him for his service and for the opportunity spend this time with him. You will enjoy this book.

War Stories of the Infantry: Americans in Combat, 1918 to Today
Michael Green & James D. Brown
Zenith Press
An imprint of Quayside Publishing Group
400 North 1st Avenue North, Suite 300, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401
9780760335697 $29.95 612-344-8157

Trust Zebra Press to publish interesting, informative and readable books on military history. They have not let us down. This book is about the infantry, Queen of Battles from World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Viet Nam War, Grenada and Panama Wars, Operation Desert Storm, Somalia, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

This is superb military history, following a century of infantry battles and infantry men. These men are the specialists of combat, masters of strategy and courage. You duck when they say duck, these pragmatists, infantrymen who listen to orders and get the job done.

They say tactics change with time and I suppose that's true but someone still has to get out of the tank and accept surrender. That's usually the infantryman.

War Stories of the Infantry is a gritty study of a century of combat. It is not pretty, but the Infantry get the job done. Thanks for an interesting read.

The Grass: A Young Man's Journey to the Korean War
Paul Zerby
North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.
P.O. Box 451, St. Cloud, MN 56302
9780878393107 $14.95

Growing up white in the Midwest, Tom Kelly, protagonist in this autobiographical novel re-creates the early nineteen fifties with aplomb. His brush with political activism, equal rights and the Cold War lead up his service as an infantryman in the dying days of the Korean War. The supporting cast is made up of real, breathing characters. The love interests are interesting and propel young Kelly into his twenties with someone to care about. I do get the feeling that Mr. Zerby has been writing this book for a ling time, something he might have sat down to when he needed answers, or touched up some mistakes by rewriting. Out of 10, an 8.

Richard N. Larsen
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Sometimes I'm Scared
Jane Annunziata and Marc Nemiroff
Illustrated by Bryan Langdo
American Psychological Association
Magination Press
750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002 (800) 374-2721
9781433804496, $14.95,

"Sometimes I'm Scared" is a good tool to help children ages 4-8 find constructive ways to deal with their fears. To enable children to cope with reasonable fears, several practical approaches are suggested and described, including the following:

"Understand your feelings.
Practice special breathing.
Picture nice things.
Pretend to be what scares you.
Think encouraging thoughts.
Change the way you think.
Take little steps. (p. 13)"

In addition to specific self help suggestions and techniques, "Sometimes I'm Scared" contains lots of well-depicted examples of fears that can be reduced by daylight, or understanding. The illustrations and the tone of the book encourage kids to make themselves comfortable with these ideas. An additional note to parents gives more specific helpful information about helping children deal with fears, and also explains when a child's circumstances may warrant further attention from a child psychologist or mental health professional.

"Sometimes I'm Scared" is an excellent self help book for children ages 4-8 and their parents. It is vivid, delightful, practical, and friendly to kids.

A Farm Country Christmas Eve
Gordon W. Frederickson
Illustrated by Michaelin Otis
Beaver's Pond Press
7104 Ohms Lane, Suite 101, Edina, MN 55439-2129
9781592982530, $17.95,

"A Farm Country Christmas" is a charming children's and adults' Christmas story based on the author's memory of his childhood on a farm near New Prague, Minnesota, in eastern Scott County. The story starts on Christmas eve in 1950 with a hardworking farm family of five; Mags, Joe, Gordon, and Mother and Father. The farm family must complete all their usual milking and barn chores first so Santa can visit the farmhouse and leave their presents unseen. To help Santa in his job, the father will open the grain bin to give some grain to Santa's hungry reindeer. The children have special tasks to do to help with the barn chores and even younger brother Joe is taught to entice a new calf to drink milk from a bucket by using his two fingers dipped in milk for the calf to suck on. Barn cats are given stray squirts of fresh milk and the whole family celebrates the gift of a new Christmas calf they name Pearl. The value of each member of the family helping with the chores to the best of their ability is carefully underlined.

The tale is told in quaint rhyming couplets and colorful nostalgic but realistic illustrations bring the farm scenes and memories to life. At the end of the evening's chores, a wonderful surprise awaits the children in the house. Before they can go to the living room, the children carefully wash up with soap and water in the comfortable old kitchen with a one basin sink and white footed wood stove. Wondrous gifts of a new sled, tractor, and dolly with fine yellow hair have already been glimpsed under the tree, but the final confirming detail for Gordon is the kernels of oats left on the sled. His father explains, "If you listen, I'll tell you ;what happened right here./ First Santa fed oats to eight hungry reindeer./ Then he left the doors open to run to his sleigh,/ And the reindeer and Santa all hurried away (p. 25)."

"A Farm Country Christmas Eve" is a lovely children's book that will touch and turn the memories of many adults who read it and also share those memories. Added realisticdetails include a map of the farm family area plus a diagram of the family farm homestead layout. Recommended for ages 6 and up.

Masters of Contemporary Indian Jewelry
Nancy N. Schiffer
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310
9780764332456, $50.00,

"Masters of Contemporary Indian Jewelry" is a soul-stunning collection of brief biographies of over 50 Native American jewelry artisans with magnificent arrays of full color photographs of their finest works. It is a breathtaking collection, full of beautiful examples of the very finest creations of Native-crafted jewelry. Stunning in its diversity as well as its artistic impact, "Masters of Contemporary Indian Jewelry" presents photo after photo of objects of art that appear to breathe, move and live. Each artist is pictured at the beginning of his or her display and a brief description of his/her background, location, and heritage follows. Awards won and exhibits held are also listed. Some famous names are included among the artisans, such as Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Northern Cheyenne resident of Colorado and former U. S. senator.

The contributions of these Indian artists is priceless and incomparable. It is said that many Native American beliefs attach the hope that the virtues of a noble animal's representation can come to the individual who wears a piece of jewelry evoking it. In a sense, many if not all of these pieces are like sacred prayers translated into metal and stone mediums. The effect is certainly majestic, and beautifully conveyed in the many photographs. Listed at the end of the book are resources including a month by month schedule of Indian markets and shows where the jewelry is displayed and sold, selected galleries, and a bibliography with suggested reading.

In summary, "Masters of Contemporary Indian Jewelry" is a magnificent collection of art jewelry made by members of over 30 American Indian nations. Anyone who enjoys the beauty of Indian jewelry art would be immeasurably enriched by its many offerings.

Everything You Need to Ask When Selecting an Assisted Living Facility
Cindy Vandusen & Humberto Fortuna
Scoop Publishing, LLC
2699 Stirling Road, Suite C107, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312
9780615281322, $15.95,

"Everything You Need To Ask When Selecting An Assisted Living Facility" is a practical set of over 500 questions to consider when choosing an assisted living facility for an adult. The stated goal of the book is "to educate and therefore protect ...the elderly." After some introductory chapters which underline the importance of making an appointment when investigating any assisted living facility under consideration, the remaining 12 chapters are filled with helpful leading questions to ask with space for written responses line-enclosed around each question. This is a handy and useful design. Although some general observations are made about conclusions to be drawn from a facility's response or appearance, the general content of the reader's conclusions are left to each to interpret according to their outlook and information. Questions vary from "How many meals are included in the monthly rate" (p. 107) to "Do you provide phone service to the residents (p.82)?" Many other practical but less than obvious questions are included, such as "Will the Activity Director encourage the resident to participate in activities (p. 131)?"

In summary, "Everything You Need To Ask When Selecting An Assisted Living Facility" is a useful tool to enable today's consumer to select the best of residential services provided to adults. It is clearly planned and created by experienced professionals in the field of senior services who share values of competent provision of the full array of services in elder care living.

Living Stories: Godi Weghaa Ets' Eeda
Therese Zoe, Philip Zoe, and Mindy Willett
Photographs by Tessa Macintosh
Fifth House Publishers
c/o Fitzhenry & Whiteside
311 Washington St., Brighton, Massachusetts 02135 1-800-387-9776
9781897252444, $16.95,

"Living Stories" is the latest book in a series called "The Land Is Our Storybook," collections of shared real stories from Canada's native storytellers, Elders and cultural leaders of the Northwest Territories. Authors Therese Zoe and her brother-in-law, Philip Zoe translate some of the traditional stories and sacred wisdom of the Tlicho, with additional input from Elizabeth Chocolate, sister of Philip Zoe. Illustrated with beautiful full color photographs of Tlicho members living in Gameti, a small community of 300 ona peninsula at the south end of a large island northwest of Yellowknife. The ancient waterways trail that Ganeti is on is called the Idaa Trail, which connects Great Slave Lake to Great Bear Lake.

"Living Stories" includes phrases and prayers and sayings in Tlicho with their English translations. It is very important to pass on the learning of this ancient people in some of the words, the language of the Tlicho. (I apologize for being unable to reproduce some of the letters and symbols in their correct form. I have chosen the closest letter similar to the symbol available to me.) It is also very important for the reader to be respectful in reading these sacred stories of the Tlicho. They are taught and retold with a specific purpose to guide the audience of listeners to an understanding of the Tlicho determined efforts to hold on to traditions and culture while embracing the modern world, to stay healthy. Therese Zoe writes, "To us, being healthy means being mindful of self, others, animals, the land, and the spirit world." All of the stories are very precious and are shared sparingly and in part because the Tlicho elders wish to convey the idea that they are living stories, with many, many parts. No one person ever has the entire story, but can share in getting to know the story after hearing many versions of it and then adding their own part. The Tlicho don't want their stories to ever be completed or to stop living. Also, important details such as the names of sacred places in the stories are omitted. If a person wishes to know more about a story's details or such a place, he should go to a learned Elder and ask for more details about these stories, in a very respectful way.

"Living Stories" contains instructions and illustrations about important daily tasks and activities, such as "How to make ehgwaa (dry-fish)," and how to make a birchbark basket. Important bits of history are also included in "Living Stories," such as the saying of one of the Tlicho leaders, Chief Jimmy Bruneau:"Our children will learn both ways; our way and the white man's way." The reader is also introduced to Yamoozha, a very important Tlicho cultural leader who made the world safe and gave all the Dine people, including the Tlicho, their laws.

"Living Stories" contains many beautiful parts of present day Tlicho life in the Northwest Territories. It is like a treasured set of glimpses into the Tlicho world view. "Living Stories" also conveys a respectful, commanding invitation to revisit the source of these living stories, the knowledgeable Tlicho elders.

They Know Who They Are
Mike and Martha Larsen
Chickasaw Press
c/o University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069-8216 800-623-7377
9780979785849, $29.96,

"They Know Who They Are: Elders of the Chickasaw Nation" is a poignantly beautiful series of 24 individual portraits of Chickasaw elders. Begun in August of 2004, this series represents many patient hours of quiet communing between artist, photographer/storyteller, and subject(s). Some of the elderly subjects have since passed to another life. These colorful paintings and thumbnail life stories remain to testify and tell of their lives. A beautiful, large edition, "They Know Who They Are" is filled with a luminous spirit of light and gentleness, perhaps a reflection of the generosity of the subjects and their family members who shared their stories so kindly.

Karen Moss, with essays by Timothy Rodgers, Sharyn Udall, and Michael Zakian
Orange County Museum of Art/ Merrell Publishers Limited
850 San Clemente Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660 USA
9781858944814 $55.00 1-949-759-1122

Compiled and edited by Karen Moss, and featuring essays by Timothy Rodgers, Sharyn Udall, and Michael Zakian, "Illumination - the Paintings of Georgia O'Keeffe, Agnes Pelton, Agnes Martin, and Florence Pierce" is an incredibly striking collection of four American women artists whose work spans the twentieth century. Studded with ninety-eight brilliant full-color reproductions, "Illuminations" dazzles the eye of the beholder. Parallels and contrasts are made between these four different artists. From the spare geometric paintings of Agnes Martin, the light infused expressions of Florence Miller Pierce, to the more well known organic natural studies of Georgia O'Keeffe and including the somewhat mystical paintings of Agnes Pelton, "Illuminations" is a collection of widely varying studies of light.

From Minimalist to Abstract Expressionism, these artists embody unique approaches to 20th century American art. Karen Moss describes and compares some of the art by Pelton and O'Keeffe as follows: "Between the mid-1920s and the early 1930s, Pelton and O'Keeffe painted nature and landscapes in lyrical canvases that hover between abstraction and representation, often incorporating strong sources of illumination (p. 19)." She later concludes, "..O'Keeffe created a body of work that fused the soft and sensuous with the tough and solid....Pelton...was a modern painter who did not embrace Modernism... she was a transcendentalist who perceived the spirit within nature...(p. 81)."

Further comparative study is provided on the art of Agnes Martin and Florence Miller Pierce by Timothy Robert Rodgers, who wrote, "Martin and Pierce...both linked themselves to artistic movements, Martin to Abstract Expressionism and Pierce to the Transcendental Painting Group (p. 90)." Both artists also benefit from the sensitivity required to examine hidden links to Minimalist art perspectives. The rich resources of the colorful painting reproductions are well mined.

In addition to analytic comparisons and critical focus, "Illuminations" contains a section of biographic chronologies of the four artists. Carefully punctuated with stunning black and white and color photos of the artists and their chosen settings, the 10 pages of concurrent or overlapping timelines encourages an integrated understanding of the lives and impact of the four women. In summary, "Illuminations" presents new perspectives on both the familiar and lesser known life work of American artists Pelton, O'Keeffe, Martin and Pierce. It is both a valuable resource and a loving testament to the art and contributions of these four women.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

The Genealogist's Internet, fourth edition
Peter Christian
The National Archives
c/o International Publishers Marketing
PO Box 605, Herndon, VA 20172-0605
9781905615391, $29.95,

The Internet is perhaps the greatest innovation in the past hundred years for the amateur or professional genealogist. "The Genealogist's Internet" is an updated and expanded fourth edition of this acclaimed reference for the genealogist who embraces the internet as an invaluable tool. Outlining major resources to look for, joining discussion groups to aid one's search, sifting through general information, and more, "The Genealogist's Internet" is a must have reference for those who want to use the internet to its fullest.

Bedouins by the Lake
Ahmed Belal & Collaborators
The American University in Cairo Press
420 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10018
International Publishers Marketing (distrubutor)
PO Box 605, Herndon, CVA 20172-0605
9789774161988, $29.95

Humans are one of the most adaptable creatures on the planet, turning arid wastelands into viable homes. "Bedouins by the Lake: Environment, Change, and Sustainability in Southern Egypt" is a look at how the Bedouin people adapted to the Nubian Desert regions in Egypt as their homeland. How do these people interact with their environment? Using the Bedouin way of life as a vehicle for the environmental debate that goes on worldwide, "Bedouins by the Lake" brings another perspective to the table.

The Myth of the Free Market
Mark A. Martinez
Kumarian Press
22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, VA 20166
Stylus Press (distributor)
PO Box 605, Herndon, VA 20172-0605
9781565492677, $24.95,

Is a completely free market truly the best way to do things? "The Myth of the Free Market: The Role of the State in a Capitalist Economy" is a scholarly economic guide exploring how the concept of the free market is flawed, as evidenced by the emergence of the current economic crisis and the slew of bailouts have come with it. Taking examples from history, "The Myth of Free Market" explains the issue and shows why the free market is best enhanced with principles from other systems.

Reclaiming the Messiah
Fred Reiss
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440107320, $15.95,

Not accepting Jesus as the Messiah, there are Jews who continue to wait for the true Messiah to come. "Reclaiming the Messiah" is a religious thriller with a Jewish twist, as protagonist Ben Silverman sees the emergence of the Messiah as something that will soon become a reality. Using the biblical code, he will soon be able to find two treasured items to Jewish mysticism that will spur on the coming of the Jewish Messiah. A riveting read of Jewish religious intrigue, "Reclaiming the Messiah" is of interest to fans of religious thrillers in the vein of 'The Da Vinci Code'.

Separating Fools From Their Money
Scott B. MacDonald & Jane E. Hughes
Transaction Publishers
300 McGaw Drive-Raritan Ctr, Edison, NJ 08837
141281054X, $24.95,

Taking other peoples money is more of an American pastime than baseball. "Separating Fools From Their Money: A History of American Financial Scandals" examines America's long history of shady financial practices ranging from conned presidents to house-making patsies. Authors Scott MacDonald and Jane Hughes tell true stories of excess and those who yearn to get more and more, and who invent the most entertaining (and defrauding) schemes to do so. Never boring, "Separating Fools From Their Money" is recommended as a cautionary read as well as a fascinating source of entertainment.

Comforts From the Cross
Elyse M. Fitzpatrick
1300 Crescent Street, Wheaton, IL 60187
9781433502835, $14.99,

You don't need to dedicate your life to your religion to embrace it; just a little each day can make a world of difference. "Comforts From the Cross: Celebrating the Gospel One Day at a Time" is a simple inspirational guide for Christians. Designed to be read over the course of a month, each entry contains simple wisdom drawing from scripture to help readers relish the days ahead of them. "Comforts from the Cross" has a minor focus on women, but is an excellent inspiration for any Christian.

The Welcome Table
Jay Udall
University of New Mexico Press
1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001
9780826346612, $21.95,

Widely published and successful poet Jay Udall brings readers his fifth anthology of poetry with "The Welcome Table". Focusing on memory, Udall brings readers back to his past experiences and invokes the readers own experiences, leading a delightful romp into verse. "The Welcome Table" is the work of a master, and is a solid pick for any reader. "Sacred Datura": Diaphanous five-clawed star/rising from dust and dog shit/fluted funnel creamy mouth/swallowing night into deep/green going underground/silent trumpet playing to each passing ear/enter here my/house of/dreams.

Bill Poje
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781436370493, $19.98,

Sometimes, the rich don't get rich by following the law to the letter. "Painless" follows tycoon Augustus Valentine as his latest shady venture goes sour. The smuggling operation goes wrong as a his cargo is heisted, and very powerful people are displeased with him. Specifically, they are 'take his life' displeased with him. "Painless" is a fun adventure of the underworld written in a noir style, recommended.

It's Your Funeral
Alice Dale & G. F. Ullman
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
1598003496, $9.95,

You may be gone, but it doesn't mean you lack a say what's done with your lifeless husk. "It's Your Funeral: Have It Your Way" is a guide to arranging for one's last wishes to be carried out at one's own funeral. Planning one's own funeral may be a way to leave your loved ones with a lasting impression of who you were and what you stood for. Encouraging readers to not treat one's own funeral as a subject to be ignored, "It's Your Funeral" is a fine and practical read.

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

A Fugue in Hell's Kitchen
Hal Glatzer
Perseverance Press, John Daniel & Co.
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
1880284707 $13.95

Hal Glatzer is a journalist and novelist by profession, and has thirty years of experience. In addition to penning the Katy Green series, as well as other mysteries, Glatzer is a musician himself. He plays swing guitar and composed three songs for an audio-play of his first Katy Green mystery, TOO DEAD TO SWING. He and his wife share homes in Haight-Ashbury and Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan.

Katy Green is a free-lance classical musician, struggling to make a living in Hell's Kitchen in New York in 1939. Katy's friend, a talented Asian whose family moved to New York, borrows an original Paganini string quartet manuscript for performance at a radio broadcast. Naturally it disappears, and she is accused of stealing and threatened with deportation. Katy swings into action on all fronts. But it seems like even the press is out to indict her friend, even before the murders begin:

"The headline said, CHEEKY CHINA DOLL, and the story was even worse:

Am Lee Chen, 35, of Pell Street, Chinatown, was arrested yesterday and charged with forgery. The document in question is a music manuscript, a copy of an antique owned by the Meyers Conservatory of Music on West 48th Street.

Chen claimed to be a refugee, to gain sympathy in pursuit of a teaching position at the conservatory. She denied all knowledge of the crime when she was arrested, but Joseph Meyers, dean of the school, told the DAILY NEWS that the manuscript was unquestionably a forgery. As a native of China, residing here on a visa, she faces deportation as an undesirable alien."

Hal Glatzer is in a unique position to write this entertaining murder that took place even before the Empire State Building was fully occupied or before the elevated train system was fully functional. Katy is a savvy young woman with a mind of her own and the talent and looks to match. Even the neighborhood thugs can't outsmart Katy. Bravo!

Deadly Treasure
Jillayne Clements
Bonneville Press
2373 W. 700 S., Springville, UT 84663
9781599552286 $15.99

Jillayne Clements hails from Salt Lake City, Utah, but was mostly raised in Park City. She married into the Thomas Rhoades family, who were integral to the discovery of the Lost Rhoades Mines. She gained access to family records and other accounts of the Rhoades mine, and discovered that Thomas' son, Enoch, was actually murdered while looking for gold. The story gave her the idea for her first mystery. From her picture, Jillayne looks as lovely as the character gracing the cover of her mystery. Additional passions of Jillayne include healthy cooking; acting as a mentor for aspiring writers; her vegetable garden; and her children.

Lexi Rhoades is home to attend her grandfather's funeral and to assist in cleaning out his home. She has a close family and has just broken up with a philandering boyfriend. As she tackles the attic with her mother, she discovers an old diary. Not an ordinary diary, but a book with tales about a lost mine in the Uintah Mountains. Short after her discovery the diary is stolen. But Lexi has a new ally: her old friend Brad, whose devotion to her is apparent with every look and action. Lexi gets a little sidetracked by Brad's older brother Derek, who has a sudden interest in her. A camping trip helps Lexi to get her priorities straight; search for the treasure; and almost lose her life. The precious locket with the treasure map disappears, but she recovers it:

"More rain fell from the sky. I untied the jacket from my waist and slipped it on. 'Wait, just let me look a little longer. It's got to be here somewhere.' I ran my hand through the grass and looked around the rock again. Fat raindrops pelted as in a downpour, and it was getting hard to see anything. I kept feeling around in the grass and mud. Just when I was about to give up, a glint of light caught my attention, and I saw the locket at the base of one of the trees. I grabbed it and shoved it into my pocket, though the chain was gone."

For a first mystery, Jillayne Clements has all the elements down pat: conflict; murder; love; and a smashing denouement. Her tale is written from the heart, and is as cozy and entertaining as mysteries can get. Characters are sweet; villains evil; all is all excellent!

Searching for Yesterday
Valerie Sherrard
Dundurn Press
3 Church St., Suite 500, Toronto, Ontario, CAN M5E 1M2
9781550027884 $12.99/£7.99

Valerie Sherrard writes novels intended for the younger generation, and she is so good at it that she's been short listed for an impressive array of awards. Her novels also come highly recommended by the OLA Best Bets list and the IODE Violet Downey National Chapter. Valerie lives in Miramichi, New Brunswick with her husband, Brent.

Shelby Belgarden is an outgoing young woman with a happy family. One of her classmates, Annie Berkley, is retiring and shy. Shelby decides to befriend Annie, who is a foster child. At first Annie is hesitant, but they become fast friends. In the process, Shelby discovers that Annie's mother disappeared without a trace years ago. Shelby also has a penchant for solving mysteries, and thus a sleuthing partnership is born:

"'You think research could actually help me find my, uh…one of my parents?' I wondered which parent she'd been about to say. Probably her mother, since she was the one Annie knew. On the other hand, we had just been talking about her father. Either way, I told her it was certainly possible.

'Even after all this time?'

'There's always information out there somewhere,' I told her, feeling my pulse quicken with excitement at the thought of a new mystery to look into.

'It's just a matter of figuring out how to find it.'"

It's easy to see why Valerie Sherrard's books are excellent. Her topics are sensitive, timely, and of interest to not only young people, but all people. Looking for lost parents is one of the most tragic and poignant issues that any vulnerable young person shouldn't have to deal with. Valerie's handling of the subject reflects a rare writer with an almost uncanny ability to look into the human soul.

SEARCHING FOR YESTERDAY is an excellent story, well written, with characters who ring true in today's world. Ms. Sherrard has a rare talent for not only bring her stories to life, but in being able to choose subject matter that will resonate with her audience. We all need stories with happy endings in these stormy times. Good for you, Valerie!

Retirement Can Be Murder
Susan Santangelo
Baby Boomer Mysteries Press
P.O. Box 1491, West Dennis, MA
9780615273143 $14.95

Susan Santangelo has spent her life as a feature writer; drama critic; and editor in the New York area, including Cosmopolitan magazine. She is a breast cancer survivor, and was one of the founders of the Breast Cancer Survival Center in Connecticut. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, as well as The Cape Cod Writers' Center.

Most baby boomers haven't had as illustrious a life as Susan Santangelo, but that doesn't stop her from grasping the major source of party conversations; weekend negotiating by husbands and wives; and the nervous perusal of accounts…retirement. It seems that everyone has their "breaking point," and Carol and Jim Andrews have reached theirs. Jim is demoralized by a young and clueless new manager at his public relations firm. He threatens to retire, and wife Carol goes into action. She locates a retirement counselor for her husband, but unfortunately that counselor winds up dead. As the unlucky person who found the body, Jim is high up on the police department's "persons of interest:"

"Jim's face had turned to stone. 'You should have called and told me the police had been there. What's the matter with you?'

'What's the matter with me? What's the matter with you? Why won't you tell me what's going on? I'm your wife, for God's sake,' I shot back.

'Larry said it wasn't necessary to get specific with anyone, including you, about what the police asked me,' Jim answered defensively. 'I did give the police truthful answers to their questions, but I didn't mention my doing some P.R. work for Rhodes, or how I'd come to his office yesterday to confront him. I didn't lie to them. I just didn't offer any additional information…"

Susan Santangelo uses great characters; humor; and sort of a "Desperate Housewives" backdrop to create a hilarious mystery. When we aren't laughing, we're groaning at the absurdity of it all. At the same time, we're relating to many of the nuances to long-suffering married folks coming to a crossroads in their lives. An entertaining and light-hearted read from a real pro. The Baby Boomer mysteries promise to be as germane as Murder She Wrote…it would make a great television series.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Learn Me Good
John Pearson
Lulu Press
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
9781411665897, $16.00,

Jack Woodson, after being laid off from his job as a thermal design engineer, bravely switched his career to that of a third-grade teacher.

In his book, "Learn Me Good," he relates, through a series of emails to his former co-workers, his daily interactions with his students. Often comparing the antics of the children with those of his ex-co-workers, which I found quite amusing.

Mr. Woodson introduces his different students as they become part of his daily life. Each one is unique, and often come from quite interesting backgrounds and parents. Our 'Saintly' (and that name is well deserved), teacher really never knew what adventure awaited him as he met and began to interact with the students and their parents. However, he soon learned to brace himself for anything not of the norm. Of course it seems to be increasingly difficult to figure out just what is the norm is these days.I loved when he asked one girl's mother if she were her brother. How do you get out of something like that? I giggled for days at his experience, too funny!

Our author draws you into his classroom and lets you become part of the challenges that he faces each day with his students. His writing shows in a humorous way, the tribulations that our teachers are facing, and the situations that they must deal with. You fully understand that a piece of every culture and lifestyle of the students become part of everyone's existence in the classroom and create both challenges and learning experiences. That can be both good and bad. Some of the nicknames that he gives to the students are priceless, and definitely fitting to their personality. Scary!

Everyone will enjoy this book. It's truth with a giggle, and yet should make the reader appreciate the many sacrifices that our teachers give daily. I am glad there is a teacher in our school system that can see the humor in the daily obstacles he encounters. Having to deal with the many personalities of the children in a class is no small job. I recommend this book. It is well-written and enjoyable. A laugh awaits you on every page, and a thank-you should escape your lips to all our teachers as you conclude the read.

Thank you Mr. Pearson. I'm sure you're shaping more children for a better future than you even know. Keep up the good work.

Guide To Parent Parenting
Tim Bete
Cold Tree Press
5560 Franklin Pike Circle, Suite 112, Brentwood, TN 37027
9781583852910, $12.95,

I know that pirates have been quite a scary subject of late and are definitely no laughing matter, but who hasn't enjoyed tales of pirates, movies and books that are fascinating and interesting. In this book we go on perhaps a never before journey as we learn how to raise our children as pirates. Inside we will find 101 tips that are sure to help along the way. I enjoyed the humorous overtones of his book and the laughs it gave.

You have answers to many of 'parenting' problems that await you inside the pages of this book, such as:

Question: Getting my pirate to go to bed is always a battle. How can I win?

The answer: First tell your child to surrender or "prepare to be boarded." If he resists, take out a wooden paddle and "board his bottom" until he's willing to go to bed.

Too funny! Ahh! Is this allowed anymore? In the pirate world it is.

I also enjoyed the sections on "Your pirate's progress," that has lists for you to check how quickly they are growing as a pirate by what they are saying. Such as:

You can flog me but I'm not eating creamed spinach.
If I eat all my food, can I plunder the neighbors before I go to bed?
I've buried me treasure in the mashed potatoes.

Don't worry, you are also treated to some nursery rhymes that I'm sure you will love to recite to your children, such as:

Hey Piddle Piddle

Hey piddle piddle, the pirates spat spittle,
To manners he was immune
All day he drank rum and shot his gun,
Until he was sunk by a typhoon.

And the chapter on how to convert your minivan into a pirate schooner is just too cute.
Changing the names of minivans to fit the pirate life is a good idea, such as, "Dodge Caravan" to "Dodge Deep Six."
We also have some black and white sketches along the way that definitely give some great giggle visuals, and definitely add spice to the read.

All in all this is a fun book that many will giggle their way through from beginning to end.

The Lake That Stole Children
Douglas Glenn Clark
CreateSpace Publishing
9781438243580 $6.25

In this fable we meet a fisherman, his wife and two children, a boy and a girl. They live in a small village by the sea. The fisherman is a stern man, wanting complete obedience from his children, priding that above all. He is blinded to the emotional needs of his children . The sister tries very hard to please her father, but the son yearns to taste of life and take chances, something his father forbids. The village holds a dark mysterious secret that no one talks about, but one that causes deep sorrow in the land. In their mystical lake there is a stealer of the true treasure of life, the children. Now it has taken the fisherman's son away and causes him to come face to face with what love and life are all about as he sets out on a quest to not only free his son from the thrones of the lake, but other children as well. The question is, will he make it in time, or lose his life trying.

Our author wrote quite a tale in this work, one that weaves around the mystic feel that a fable should have. The forest responding to the emotions of the people, the lake brimming with a life force that is mysterious and dangerous, capturing the essence of their hearts as they lose their most precious treasures to it, their children. The characters live in a world of enchantment and the reader is drawn into that world by the words and story of Douglas Clark. The descriptive power of his words in many instances was exceptional.

I enjoyed this read. I liked the way the father came to the realization of what his children truly needed from him as a father, and how the son understood that there indeed were dangers in the world that he was not ready to battle. And a happy ending is always a good thing.

The Bouncing Boy
9781440475603 $9.98

Bouncing Boy has a real name, although no one knows it except his family, and least not until things change for him. His mom gave him the nickname of Bouncing Boy when he was little because he was so big and round. and that's what the townspeople called him. Bouncing Boy is mocked by the people of the town, who are cruel and insensitive. The only love he has is from his parents, but when they die he is left alone, to fend for himself. The people in town drive him away, refusing to allow him to be part of their lives. He lives in the woods and is very sad and lonely, often crying buckets of tears. And then one day a problem develops in town. It appears that instead of hair growing on their heads they have ugly, smelling flowers and to make matters worse these flowers grow tentacles that attach themselves to things and glue the people where they are. Horror upon horror! They needed help and an old man goes to find Bouncing Boy and they begin to journey to a faraway village to bring the cure back and save the people of the town. During their journey they encounter many obstacles and with each others help they overcome them and evidently make their way back to the town and save the people there.

I enjoyed this book, but there are a lot of unanswered questions in this story. How did Bouncing boy survive living alone at such a young age, why did the old man seek him out, why would he think Bouncing Boy could help him, and just who was this old man in the first place? I thought maybe he was a long lost relative, but he didn't appear to be so. Why didn't the old man have flowers growing on his head? Perhaps a little more story development should have been used giving more insight into the characters. I didn't mind the black and white illustrations, but wish there were just a few more to help bring the story alive. It would have been nice to see how Bouncing Boy looked at the end of the story. However, there were many pluses in this story as well. The author showed how good upbringing when instilled in a child can surface later on. Also she showed how working together for a common cause can bring victory, and that even when people are cruel and ugly it doesn't mean that we have to react in the same way. The ending was a happy one and definitely in its own way, touching. The old-man and Bouncing Boy had a lot of adventure on their trip to bring back a cure for the townspeople. Definitely a good spoonful of imagination there and quite entertaining. I enjoyed this story because it was different, and I feel with just a few little tweaks here and there it would be a real winner.

J.A. Nevling
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd,. Parker, Colorado 80134
9781432724436, $14.95,

Sharon and her husband, Jim, have a beautiful life. They are just starting off in the world of family, and have a delightful baby named, Anna. Tragedy however strikes when Jim is left with their baby while Anna takes a day off with her friend. A fire breaks out severely burning Jim and their child.

Sharon is unable to deal with the anger in her heart towards Jim for allowing this to happen and separates from him, moving to another town and securing a job. In the meantime, her child is undergoing extensive treatment for her burns. Unfortunately Sharon's woes have not ended but will be intensifying in the happenings of her new job, for in this company where Sharon works, things are not as they appear. Sharon finds evidence that something underhanded is happening, and there are those who will stop at nothing to silence her, now Sharon is running for her life.

The author takes you back and forth from the past to the present in this read, allowing you full details of what has and is happening so you will understand the characters actions and the decisions they are taking. Author, J.A. Nevling definitely brought to life the heated emotions that strangle couples when they are dealing with such tragic events as Sharon and Jim were. He puts into play the blame game, the struggle with the desire to continue to love, yet the torture of feeling guilty for loving still the person who you feel caused you and your child so much pain. Wrap that around a whole new set of circumstances in Sharon's life concerning the events unraveling at her work place and you are in for quite a ride, as our author takes two plots and carefully weaves them together to bring forth quite a tale.

This well written book, by J.A. Nevling, is one of sorrow and pain, relationships gone astray, forgiveness and greed, overcoming evil odds, mystery and adventure and true love finding its home once again. Now that is a big order to fill, but one that our author filled to satisfaction and brought forth a read that you will truly enjoy.

Marley's Treasure
Gable Yerrid, Illustrations by: Jennifer Fitzgerald
Yorkville Press
1202 Lexington Ave. #315, New York, N. Y. 10028
9780976744269, $15.95,

In this delightful, warmhearted children's book, we meet, Marley. Marley is an adorable monkey who lives on an island. Marley is a very happy monkey, who loves his life and enjoys everything about it, until one day he saw something glow in the distance. Being curious, Marley ran to see what it was and discovered what was a treasure to him. Marley was excited at such a find, but now he had a problem. His world would have to change, after all, he would have to guard his treasure to keep it safe and not let anyone know about it. Unfortunately, in doing this, Marley, himself, began to change and through his actions he almost lost the friends of his life, who were the most important treasures of all.

I want to say hats off to author, Gable Yerrid. Inside the pages of this book is a life-giving lesson that is told in such an enjoyable way that every child will embrace it. The story shows how someone can get so wrapped up in something that to them is a 'treasure' that they forget what is truly important in life.

It also shows that those 'important' things can be lost forever and should not be taken for granted. I liked the way our author showed the change in Marley's attitude. He went from a happy little monkey to one of worry and fear and became quite lonely.

The illustrations are perfect, big and bold, brimming with realism. Marley's little facial expressions are priceless, and definitely bring each emotion to life.

All in all this is a wonderful book, packed with all the essentials of a winner. Great life-story truly showing what the real treasures of life are. I highly recommend it, knowing not only will the child you share it with savor each page, but you yourself will walk away with a smile. Good job!

Letting Go
Sandy Hancock
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595486243, $15.95,

In this work by, Sandy Hancock, we are privileged to share her journey from a joyless life to one of fulfillment. Our author shares some of the trials and tribulations that played havoc in her life until she decided to find and pursue true peace and happiness. Her story is real and heartfelt as she shares with her readers the battles she undertook to achieve her joy. As you travel this journey with her, you truly sense that her words are honest, and you understand that her true desire it to help others overcome the hurdles in their lives that are keeping them in bondage and stealing their true happiness. She is frank in her writing and doesn't hold back in telling the reader when an area may be difficult to overcome, but she is always giving the 'charge' command, to never give up, for in going forward you are assured of victory.

She gives many experiences, uses the Word of God, and encourages you along the way. She even reminds you that you do have an enemy, Satan, and how you can keep him from stealing your victories. Good for her in giving the reader that information.

Author, Sandy Hancock, shares with you the method that she used that was a success in turning her life around, that being her total surrender to, Jesus.

I like her statement on page 49:

"Happiness does not come through fulfilling our desires; it comes through letting them die. It comes from surrendering our wills and living a life of obedience to God."

How true these words are and how wonderful to see an author leading the reader to the true source of their joy and to their victory and contentment in this life.

This is a very good book to help you on your journey for true happiness and joy. Written in an honest and sincere way from a woman who has taken the journey to victory.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

The Mammoth Book of Modern Battles
Jon E. Lewis, editor
Running Press
2300 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-4371
9780762436255, $13.95,

Modern War, while undoubtedly brutal, never fails to capture the intrigue of readers. "The Mammoth Book of Modern Battles: 42 Gripping Accounts of Battles Including Tsushima, the Somme, Stalingrad, Dien Bein Phu, Desert Storm, Basra, and Many More" is an anthology of accounts of some of the biggest and most vital battles in modern military history, from World War I to today's modern Iraq War. Drawing from accounts of many respected writers and correspondents, "The Mammoth Book of Modern Battles" is a military enthusiast's bible.

Moments of Forever
Bill R. Path
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595532094, $15.95,

What's really important? "Moments of Forever: Discovering the True Power and Importance of Your Life" is a guide to finding the true importance in one's life by offering many new perspectives and outlooks. With tips on understanding when one has connections with others, treating those bonds right, and coming to terms with one's true self, "Moments of Forever" is inspirational and motivating, a read for those lost in life and not knowing where to go.

Ancient Word, Changing Worlds
Stephen J. Nichols & Eric T. Brandt
c/o Good New Publishers
1300 Crescent Street, Wheaton, IL 60187
9781433502606, $15.99,

If you asked Jesus what he thought of automobiles, he would look at you bewildered. "Ancient Word, Changing Worlds: The Doctrine of Scripture in a Modern Age" is a scholarly discussion about how scripture applies to the modern world, if it applies to at all. Interpretation is the main focus here; "Ancient Word, Changing Worlds" uses history to analyze how scripture has been applied to rapidly changing society and technology. "Ancient Word, Changing Worlds" is an utterly fascinating look at the evolution of interpretation, when scripture itself remains unevolved.

Yoga American Style
Prem Prakash
Yes International Publishers
1317 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55105-2602
9780936663463, $15.00,

Yoga isn't all about bending and silent meditation. "Yoga American Style" takes a secular approach to Yoga by channeling its ancient roots, which are far older than even Hinduism. Yoga can bring much to one's life; author Prem Prakash hopes to help Americans embrace it rather than simply dismiss it as new age nonsense. "Yoga American Style" is the introductory primer to Yoga that many Americans need.

Foreclosure Nation
Shari B. Olefson
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2119
9781591026631, $18.98,

The economy is hot on the tip of everyone's tongues. "Foreclosure Nation: Mortgaging the American Dream" is a look at the rising amount of foreclosures in today's America and how readers can avoid being added to this inflating statistic. Knowledge is power, and author Shari Olefson wants to make sure her readers are well armed with a thorough understanding of their options, and that they are crunching the right numbers. "Foreclosure Nation" is a choice read for those who are facing mortgage difficulties.

A Primer on Christian Worship
William A. Dyrness
Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
2140 Oak Industrial Drive NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780802860385, $18.00,

Like society, worship has evolved alongside everything else. "A Primer on Christian Worship: Where We've Been, Where We Are, Where We Can Go" is a scholarly examination of the way worship has developed alongside society and where it seems to be heading. Plain-spoken author William A. Dyrness presents an educational treatise on worship that is sure to make readers think. "A Primer on Christian Worship" is something to consider for those who treasure worship highly.

The Rob Roy on the Baltic
J. MacGregor
Dixon-Price Publishing
PO Box 1360, Kingston, WA 98346-1360
9781929516209, $14.99,

Few today would dare go on a voyage in the seas on merely a canoe. It's nothing for others though. "The Rob Roy on the Baltic: A Canoe Cruise" is a reprint of John MacGregor's work originally published in 1867. The work advocates the Rob Roy canoe design, details his adventures in testing his designs on the field, and encourages sportsmen to follow suit and do the same. Sure to inspire canoeists a century and a half later, "The Rob Roy on the Baltic" is a choice piece for canoe enthusiasts everywhere.

Obama Rising
Larry Christianson
North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.
PO Box 451, St. Cloud, MN 56302
9780878393152, $9.95,

The rise of the first Black president has invoked many different emotions in many different people. "Obama Rising" is a collection political commentary and poetry from one Larry Christianson, a poet by trade but with a passion for the political. Christianson gives readers a fresh perspective on Barack Obama. "Obama Rising" is a top choice for poetry collectors seeking something new. "Paranoia King": Paranoia King./Seething with insecurity/and resentments./Aplenty./Always a crook-/tricky,/sneaky./Above the law/Nixon.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

Neighbors and Networks
W. Keith Regular
University of Calgary Press
2500 University Drive N.W. Calgary, Alberta, T2N 1N4
9781552382431, $34.95,

The reservation system was designed to exclude native American Indians from Canadian and American white society, but some refused to be excluded. "Neighbors and Networks: The Blood Tribe in the Southern Alberta Economy 1884-1939" tells the tale of how the Blood Tribe merged into the local economy in Alberta at the end of the nineteenth century and acted in such a way that brought prosperity to both the tribe and the Alberta economy. In telling this story of success, author W. Keith Regular hopes to bring attention back to the Native American Indian in Canadian history, and he does well with "Neighbors and Networks".

The Handy Geography Answer Book, second edition
Paul A. Tucci & Matthew T. Rosenberg
Visible Ink Press
43311 Joy Rd., #414, Canton, MI 48187-2075
9781578592159, $21.95

Understanding geography is key to many professions in today's world. Now in a fully updated and expanded second edition, "The Handy Geography Answer Book" offers answers to over one thousand commonly asked questions that lack immediately obvious answers. Which time zones do the north and south poles fall into? Why are so many countries so rife with constant conflict? How did geography help America declare its independence? A fascinating read even for those who don't need to work with geography, "The Handy Geography Answer Book" is worthwhile to browse for fun or profit.

Wild Moments
Michael Engelhard
Snowy Owl Books
c/o University of Alaska Press
PO Box 756240, Fairbanks, AK, 99775-6240
9781602230484, $21.95,

Every animal is different and every encounter with them is different. "Wild Moments: Adventures with Animals of the North" is a collection of memoirs about various writers' encounters with the many different species of the northern United States and Canada. Each of the writers has a devout respect for nature and this passion shines through in their accounts. "Wild Moments" is a fine collection to give greater understanding of these snow bound beasts.

Me 2.0
Dan Schawbel
Kaplan Publishing
1 Liberty Plaza, 24th Floor, New York, NY 10006
Planned Television Arts (publicity)
1110 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10022
9781427798206, $16.95,

There is one brand that everyone should wave the flag for and represent - oneself. "Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success" is a guide to the brand of oneself, the brand that one tries to sell when interviewing for a job, meeting people, and much more. With plenty of tips and advice for furthering the brand of oneself, author Dan Schawbel outlines the importance of networking, advertising the self, and much more. For those who are looking to sell themselves to a better career, "Me 2.0" is an invaluable read.

Developing Talents
Temple Grandin & Kate Duffy
Austism Asperger Publishing Co.
PO Box 23173, Shawnee Mission, KS 66283-0173
9781934575284, $23.95,

There are mental disabilities out there which are not crippling, but simply require a different approach in education. "Developing Talents: Careers for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism" is a guide to finding careers and jobs for these individuals who can be contribute to society just like anyone who would be deemed normal. These individuals need particular jobs to flourish in, and in some cases, they have distinct advantages over individuals without Aspergers. "Developing Talents" is a must read for parent or educator of someone with Aspergers or high-functioning autism.

Franchising McChurch
Thomas White & John M. Yeats
David C. Cook
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9781434700049, $14.99,

Could the commercialization of everything even be reaching the church? "Franchising McChurch: Feeding Our Obsession With Easy Christianity" is a look of the pop culture-ization of the church. Evangelistic organizations claim to be for God but play more like magic and entertainment shows than actual religious worship, and it seems Christianity is becoming a big business. "Franchising McChurch" is a solid criticism of pop culture-style churches, and a recommended read.

Michael Timothy Mason
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595525782, $15.95,

Destiny has a weird way of sneaking up on people. "Da'Sheal: The Eternal Warrior" follows one Hunter Stone, who finds himself lapsed for a decade only to wake up in a world unlike the one he left behind. He must protect an alien race while uncovering the long string of mysteries that have emerged in his lost decade. "Da'Sheal" is an intriguing science fiction read, sure to please.

The King Rat and His Court
William Arthur Bruno
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439221921, $15.00,

How do the most undeserving gain the most lucrative jobs? "The King Rat and His Court: Lessons in Corporate Greed" explains one businessman's perspective on the subject, giving an insider's look at how the rattiest of people in business so often rise to the top of corporations and do immeasurable damage to the company, and in some cases, society. Since some blame for the recent financial crisis lays squarely on the shoulders of certain shady CEOs, "The King Rat and His Court" is timely and appropriate reading given current events. Highly 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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