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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 9, Number 6 June 2010 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

The Russians are Coming!
Lily Alex
Publish America
PO Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705-0151
1591294584, $19.95,

A new life in a new land is rough, especially when it isn't so easy to be accepted. "The Russians are Coming!" is a story of six immigrants trying to find their way adapting from the Russian way of life to the American way of life. Over a year of life for these individuals are shown, and paint an accurate pictures of the triumphs and pitfalls that many immigrants face in their lives. "The Russians Are Coming!" is a riveting and choice read that shouldn't be missed.

The Magdalen
Bonnie Jones Reynolds
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Smith Publicity (publicity)
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781440172076, $47.95,

The truth isn't as pretty as fiction, but the message can be the same. "The Magdalen" is a realistic take on the life of Christ, as Bonnie Jones Reynolds paints a fictionalized picture of his life which hopes to be true to his word and life, while straying away from the propaganda that many leaders placed around his life and in the New Testament. Inspirational and highly spiritual, "The Magdalen" is a read well worth considering.

Let's Play Ball
Linda Gould
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450207607, $16.95,

A simple ball game can spiral into so much more. "Let's Play Ball" is the tale of Miranda and Jessica, two sisters and their husbands. Jessica is married to major baseball star Manny Chavez, and seems to have ti made. But Miranda discovers that beneath the pristine exterior lies a struggle of international politics over what should just be a harmless ball game. "Let's Play Ball" is a riveting piece of fiction that is well worth considering.

Journal for Spiritual Development
Anna Marie Eloisa Hernandez
2180 West State Road 434, Suite 2140, Longwood, FL 32779
9781615798063, $14.99,

A strong spirit is a key to a good life. "Journal for Spiritual Development: Seven Steps to Discipleship" is a guide for empowering one's spirit through gospel study. Anna Marie Eloisa Hernandez gives this guide to readers to help them with the problems they face in life, a stronger mind and body, and help them be a better role model in life. "Journal for Spiritual Development" is a choice pick for anyone who wants a stronger presence of spirituality in their life.

The Company She Keeps
Tracey R. Sands
Arizona State University
PO Box 874402,Tempe, AZ 85287-4402
9780866984102, $55.00,

St. Katherine of Alexandria was on of the most popular and venerated saints of the medieval Christendom with an appeal to diverse groups throughout Europe. "Company She Keeps: The Medieval Swedish Cult of Saint Katherine of Alexandria and Its Transformations" by academician Tracey r. Sands is a 276-page study of how a Greek-speaking 'princess' of Alexandria and Mediterranean saint become the focus of Christian cult worship in the far northern Scandinavian populace. She was an educated woman who became an acclaimed intercessor for a widely illiterate Swedish people. Churches, chapels, and altars were dedicated to her. She was a favorite saint for the Franciscan and Dominican orders in medieval Denmark. And even a notable religious figure for Christians in Norway and Iceland. A work of impressive and detailed scholarship, "Company She Keeps: The Medieval Swedish Cult of Saint Katherine of Alexandria and Its Transformations" is a seminal contribution to the growing body of Medieval Studies and a welcome, core addition to academic library collections.

Shuffle Up And Deal
Susan DiPlacido
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781450588591, $15.75,

Next to ending up at a No-Limit Texas Hold'em Final Table, is the reading of a rapidly paced, deftly written, 'reader friendly', and totally entertaining novel featuring Izzy Santillo, a 34-year old woman infatuated Nick Nolan, a master 'Hold'em player -- and playboy! Theirs is, to put it mildly, a complicated relationship! Susan DiPlacido is an accomplished author and a skilled storyteller with "Shuffle Up And Deal" being the latest in a string of outstanding novels. This particular one has every thing a poker player could want in a recreational read including 'prop bets' and descriptive details of life on the poker tour circuit from Vegas to Miami. Sexy, funny, and attention gripping from first page to last, "Shuffle Up And Deal" is a terrific read and highly recommended for community library contemporary fiction shelves and the supplemental reading lists for anyone that's every sat down to a hand of poker! Also highly recommended are Susan DiPlacido's earlier novels: "24/7" (9781554102174, $17.99); "Lady Luck" (9781450543002, $12.75); and "American Cool" (9780595448777, $16.95).

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

Steve Goreham
New Lenox Books
9780982499634, $32.95,

Potentially catastrophic alterations of the Earth's climate due to human activity around the planet continues to be a source of intense study within the scientific community and considerable controversy within the political sphere. "Climatism!: Science, Common Sense, and the 21st Century's Hottest Topic" by Steve Goreham is a 480-page compendium of information, research, analysis and commentary that gives careful, methodical, and documented examination of the diverse and interrelated issues with respect to a perceived global warming crisis. Of special note is that "Climatism!" is thoroughly 'reader friendly' making it idea for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the current global climate discussion. Informed and informative, providing insightful analytical commentary on renewable energy alternatives, and offering a globally oriented perspectives, "Climatism!" is strongly recommended reading and a valued addition to academic and community library Environmental Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Music Therapy Tunes
81 Bergen Drive, Deer Park, NY 11729
CD, $14.97 each,

Margie La Bella draws upon her more than twenty-three years of experience and expertise as a music therapist working with children having speech and language/communication challenges due to autism and other learning difficulties to develop and produce four outstanding music CDs designed to stimulate cognitive development. Superbly recorded productions enhanced with the utilization of rhymes incorporated with pop, jazz, folk, rap, swing, reggae, and world music styles, this creative and innovative series includes "Move" (focusing on receptive language skills necessary to understand directions); "Sing" (emphasizing expressive language), "Play" (employing simple rhythm instruments, body percussion, and movement promoting auditory discrimination and processing); "Mixing It Up" (incorporating moving, singing, and playing). Of special note is a fifth "Sampler" CD featuring two songs from each of the four CDs comprising this superbly designed and presented series and is ideal for introducing the Margie La Bella's performance and the quality of what she has created with CD music albums specifically to be used to motivate children to 'move, sing, play along and learn'. Ideal for use by parents, teachers, and healthcare professionals working with speech and language challenged children preschool through second grade, and available individually, school and community libraries would be well advised to acquire the entire four CD series for the benefit of their students and patrons. It should be noted that individual tunes, as well as entire albums can also be downloaded in an MP3 format.

Jim Supica
Thunder Bay Press
c/o Baker & Taylor Publishing Group
10350 Barnes Canyon Rd, Ste 100, San Diego, CA 92121
9781607100966, $19.95,

The handgun deserved its reputation as the 'great equalizer' when two or more men engaged each other in deadly confrontation. Deftly compiled by Jim Supica (Director of the national Rifle Association's National Firearms Museum), "Handguns" is a 144-page compendium of more than two hundred superbly produced photographs of firearms made by twenty-five firearm manufactures. More than just a collection of handgun photographs, "Guns" also provides a succinctly presented historical background into the history of handguns from early Chinese hand cannons to the high-tech weapons of the 21st Century. All manner of hand guns are included ranging from single-shot pistols, to multi-barreled pistols, to revolvers, to lever-action pistols, to semi-automatics. A fascinating browse for handgun enthusiasts and collections, "Handguns" will prove to be a popular addition to personal, professional, academic, and community library collections.

The Comic Book Curriculum
James Rourke
Libraries Unlimited
Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911
9781598843965, $35.00,

I was an education curriculum coordinator for a Wisconsin School District and a part of my job was to help classroom teachers and home schooling parents develop instructional materials for 'reading phobic' students. Usually these were boys from grade school through high school for whom reading was difficult. Sometimes from a learning disability, often from a lack of interest in the written word. That was when I first introduced the comic book as part of an effective program to elicit interest in these students with respect to reading, and at the same time developing their reading skills. Using Disney and anthropomorphic comics in the younger grades, and 'super hero' comics in the upper grades, the students not only benefited in terms of their reading abilities (including comprehension and vocabulary development), they also picked up ethical values and philosophical insights based on the 'good vs. evil', 'with great power comes great responsibility' messages embedded within the stories and characters comprising the comics. Now James Rourke (a history teacher at the Norwich Free Academy, Norwich, Connecticut) has created in "The Comic Book Curriculum: Using Comics to Enhance Learning and Life" a complete introduction to the value of incorporating comic books into a reading curriculum, as well as a means of illustrating a wide range of issues ranging from the mythic hero, to the revelation of character arising from crisis, to the value of team work, and more. The emphasis is on the 'super hero', ranging from Superman and Batman, to Spiderman and Thor, to Green Lantern and the X-Men -- characters for whom students will already be quite familiar. Informed and informative, enhanced with a profusion of notes, a 'Comic Bibliography', as well as a comprehensive index, "The Comic Book Curriculum" is a 160-page, superbly written and presented compendium that is especially recommended for teachers seeking to develop effective supplemental materials for their classroom curriculums.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Dino's Story
Paul Salsini
1663 Libery Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450210805, $20.95,

The effects of the past continue to affect the future. "Dino's Story: A Novel of 1960s Tuscany" is the third installment in Paul Salsini's Tuscan Trilogy, following a series of individuals in Italy with their own challenges. An individual comes to Florence to study art, but finds there is more to life than art. "Dino's Story" is an engrossing read that will keep many readers reading, highly recommended.

Jack Meyer
Trafford Publishing
c/o iUniverse
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781426918339, $20.00,

America is the new empire of the world, and can make some of the same mistakes the Ancient Roman one did. "Alcibiades: Fact, Fiction, Farce" looks at Alcibiades and his writings and philosophy as Jack Meyer uses his story and life as an allegory to America's current foreign policy. With plenty of wit and humor alongside wisdom, "Alcibiades" is a fascinating read that anyone looking for a unique perspective on current events will relish.

The Other Side of Dr. Wolf
Bruce Portnoy
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440150340, $18.95,

It's hard to avoid being stabbed in the back when it seems oh so profitable. "The Other Side of Dr. Wolf" tells the story of the titular Dr. Wolf as he tries to find out who killed his daughter and tried to kill him and his wife. Through a large conspiracy involving the state department, the Holy Temple Mount, and other people out to cause trouble through the world, the web of conspiracy seems so deep and tangled. "The Other Side of Dr. Wolf" is an intriguing and very highly recommended read which shouldn't be ignored for thriller readers.

From a Soldier's Diary
S. A. D'Amore
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533162260, $12.95,

It took many people to win the war, doing many different jobs. "From a Soldier's Diary" is a collection of reflections from S.A. D'Amore, a man through his two decades of service to the military rose to the rank of Colonel. Through his diaries, he writes how he served his country through a wide variety of means and how he believes the army got less pure in its goals of the greater good as his tenure went on. "From a Soldier's Diary" is an intriguing look at the life of a career soldier, highly recommended.

Third and Ten
William J. Kunz
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439216637, $30.49,

War alters the courses of entire lives. "Third and Ten" is a memoir packed with photos as William J. Kunz reflects on his military career throughout World War II where he participated in many campaigns throughout the European theater. A thoughtful reflection that offers a very personal view of the War in Europe and its aftermath and reconstruction, "Third and Ten" is a choice pick for any military or memoir collection.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

The Cake & Cookie Closet
Debra J. Mosely
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781438971339, $28.99,

"The Cake & Cookie Closet" by Debry J. Mosely is a unique cookbook. This 80-page, profusely illustrated cookbook features recipes for making edible accessories for dolls! Featured are recipes for making cake, cupcake, sugar cookie, and frosting based doll clothes, doll shoes, doll handbags, hats, and accessories. Succinctly informative chapters cover tools and equipment needed, gift and party ideas, suppliers and thematically relevant web sites, and specialized techniques. Of special note is the chapter devoted to storing and transporting these delicate items. This one-of-a-kind instruction manual is enthusiastically recommended, especially for anyone who has an adventurous culinary spirit and a doll collection their own!

Sixteen Aprils
Marcella Buchanan
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533162017, $15.95,

The roughest thing about love is protecting it from everything trying to destroy it. "Sixteen Aprils" is a romance that follows Starling Brann as she tries to embrace the love she finds in Brey Arden, but finds their coupling attacked in all directions, including from Star's father. With an original style, "Sixteen Aprils" proves to be a highly entertaining and riveting romance that will entertain fans of the genre for hours.

The Alternative Medicine Cabinet
Kathy Gruver
Infinity Publishing
1094 New DeHaven Street, Suite 100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
9780741459039, $11.95,

A little unique wisdom on the side can lead to a better health overall. "The Alternative Medicine Cabinet: Hundreds of Ways to Take Charge of Your Health. Naturally." is a discussion of alternative medicines as Kathy Gruver encourages readers to take charge of their own health and use natural remedies and tricks to ensure a good constant health. With tips on supplemental care for illness and cancer treatments, "The Alternative Medicine Cabinet" is a read well worth considering for those who embrace new age and alternative medicines.

The Austin Haley
Renee and Jack Haley
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781615669929, $16.99,

Losing one's child is the gravest tragedy any parent could face. "The Austin Haley Story: A Family Confronting Unthinkable Tragedy" tells the story of Renee and Jack Haley, and how one random night led to the death of their son Austin when he was hit by accidental gunfire from a police officer. A tale of coping with tragedy and finding the faith in God to continue, "The Austin Haley Story: A Family Confronting Unthinkable Tragedy" is a choice pick for any family also facing such tragedy.

The Traveler
Jenna Lindsey
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450206976, $16.95,

Memory is a cruel thing. "The Traveler" tells of Jinnie, a woman split between two realities, the reality of Earth and the reality of an unusual world which her daydreams create bridges too. But there are things ever so familiar about this new world, yet she can't bring herself to understand. A fascinating story of memory and fantasy, "The Traveler" is a riveting read that shouldn't be missed.

Pooling Blood
Cheryl Nineff D'Ambrosio
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
Star Treatment (publicity)
PO Box 133, Beaver Crossing, NE 68313
9780595530557, $22.95,

Hemophilia is a horrible disorder which has a high mortality rate. "Pooling Blood: A Journey of Two Girls with Hemophilia and Their Parents' Struggle to Keep Them Alive" tells the story of D'Ambrosio family as the two parents face the challenge of their daughters fight with hemophilia, a disorder which can turn the simplest cut into a life threatening incident. "Pooling Blood" is a riveting story that sheds light into the many challenges that hemophilia brings into life.

Helen Dumont

Kaveny's Bookshelf

To Feast on the Bones of the Dinosaurs: A Book Review Essay

Reorganize for Resilience: Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business
Ranjay Gulati
Press Book Harvard Business Publishing
60 Harvard Way Boston, MA 02163 USA
9781422117217 $35.00

Capitalism and Freedom: Fortieth Anniversary Edition
Milton Friedman
University Of Chicago Press
The University of Chicago Press
1427 East 60th Street Chicago, IL 60637 U.S.A.
9780226264219 $16.00

The Communist Manifesto: Complete With Seven Rarely Published Prefaces
Karl Marx & Frederick Engels
Creative Space
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200 Scotts Valley, CA 95066 USA
9781452837765 $7.95

You would expect the HBS Press to place high praise on their own book as indicated in the following blurb. However, I am sure they won't mind my borrowing these forty seven words from their publicity since I totally agree with them.

"In an era of raging commoditization and eroding profit margins, survival depends on resilience: staying one step ahead of your customers. Sure, most companies say they're "customer-focused," but they don't deliver solutions to customers' thorniest problems. Why? Because they're stymied by the rigid "silos" they're organized around."

I was so impressed by Ranjay Gulati's recent Public Radio appearance that I ordered five copies of his book wholesale and plan to organize a marketing seminar around it. Even though his book is marketed towards the managers of the multi-national giants of globalization, nevertheless It is a must read for every start up entrepreneur. Why, because nobody plans to fail, but most fail for lack of planning.

This is particularly true for many of us who well past mid life find ourselves facing the imperative choice of entering into a business venture, because of reduced retirement earnings. Even more grimly we may be facing the second career choices of housekeeping or food service work, or perhaps being a greeter at Wal-Mart. I am one of lucky ones I still have a pension though it was cut by 37% last year and working wife with a good job and we do have benefits. But when I read the words of Ranjay Gulati who was born in India and is incidentally a Harvard School of Business professor I am awed by his grasp of two hundred fifty years of the Science of Economics. He doesn't do it without mathematical smoke and mirrors, or self referential models; he does it with simple clear statements.

For example here is something from the first page of his text.

"Managers everywhere face the most the most turbulent market conditions since the Great Depression. Global competition has accelerated, and excess capacity worldwide will likely persist as desperate competitors' slug it out for increasingly demanding customers who treat goods and services as commodities where price is the only differentiator in."

Nearly every struggling micro business out there is caught in the flat world of the global vortex. In a way we all are like small mammals trying to avoid the feet of battling global dinosaurs. We must find our evolutionary niche and survive until the perfect storm, of competition based on the lowest commodity price which is at the heart of global capitalism becomes truly untenable. We are the next evolutionary order. We who are too small to fail have and we will have our turn, after the most of the global giants have gone the way of the dinosaurs.

Why is this true? Because, as both Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman (1912-2006) and author of one of the most influential books of 20th Century Capitalism and Freedom, And Karl Max (1818-1883) and author of The Communist Manifesto agreed and were well aware of the unstoppable transformative power of international Capitalism to terraform the planet in its own image, producing as a by-product soulless workers/consumers who are really thought of as nothing more than organic capital, whose only necessary social function is work, consume, and reproduce itself.

Of course Milton Friedman and his neo Liberal crew consider this to be a good thing, a way to further transform our planet giving better lives to all of us and creating democratic institutions out of the self regulation hand of the free market, in which no regulation is always better than regulation, and what the government does it always does badly.

I met Milton Friedman when he was a guest speaker at my graduate seminar in political theory at UW Madison in 1969, this was a time when even Richard Nixon thought he was too weird to take seriously and I can say that Nixon was wrong. Further Milton Friedman's augments for a negative income tax in which poor people are given what they need to live as a direct income subsidy in the form of transfer payments was as good an idea then as it is now. It would go a long way towards eliminating to a parasitic bureaucracy like the American corrections systems which seems to serve no ends other than its own by incarcerating three million of our citizens, many for victimless crimes. These victimless crimes like most all our controlled substance laws were something Milton Friedman wanted off the books, and he wanted the illegal drug market taxed and mostly self regulated just any other market.

Both Milton Friedman and Karl Marx held the belief with the certainty of revealed theology that Global Capitalism was in an irreducible phenomenological sense too powerful to regulate, that it was like the universal solvent which nothing could contain. Milton Friedman believed that the only constraint a corporation was under was to maximize its return to its investors. By extension a corporation must use every bit of its legal and political resources to make certain that investors always came first, because the result would lead to greater good for everyone. Marx simply felt that transformative power of Capitalism bore the seeds of its own destructions, perhaps like an unimaginably large python which in the process of squeezing the maximum profit out all factors of production in a perfectly competitive frictionless idealized, crushes itself in its own coils, or perhaps swallows itself into nothingness.

Reading the following experts from the publishers publicity of Reorganize for Resilience material makes me think about the Union Solider who Shortly before the Battle of Antietam (in 1862 ) mysteriously found a bunch of cigars wrapped in General Robert E. Lee's battle plan at the site of a recent Army of Northern Virginia encampment. The Union Solider who discovered the plan turned it into headquarters. However, he might as well have smoked the cigars it was wrapped around and threw the plan into the Potomac River for all of the use the sluggish commander of The Army of the Potomac George B, McClellan put them to. However I won't make that same mistake. Because quite simply put as Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist and author precipitator scientific revolution said. Knowledge is power. I would add knowledge put to use leads to empowerment.

"In Reorganize for Resilience, Ranjay Gulati reveals how resilient companies prosper both in good times and bad, driving growth and increasing profitability by immersing themselves in the lives of their customers. This book shows how resilient organizations cut through internal barriers that impede action, build bridges between warring divisions, and transform former competitors into collaborators."

How does this scale down to the level of the micro entrepreneurs and start ups? Here I can speak from the perspective micro entrepreneur with thirty years of experience in one of toughest business in the world bookselling, which has in my case evolved into Internet bookselling, which in involves dealing with some the worst customers in the world, who are entirely motivated by commodity pricing. I am in the process of a total re-organization which means I must open my eyes and mind to opportunities placed before me by corporate giant like s UPS who in these difficult times are hungry for my business. UPS has a highly qualified professional staff who want to help business my to grow because it helps them survive and flourish if they can offer me value services which I can make fit with my needs in a changing world. What this has meant in my case is the UPS staff has made it possible for me to ship large amounts of carefully selected books and other educational materials which I can sell at affordable prices on a person to person basis, at academic conferences where I am both a vendor and participant. Venues the 45th Kalamazoo International Medieval Studies are an example of places where my subject knowledge efforts to find affordable books of lasting value and my person to person skills are welcome and my customers are among the best in the world. What I mean by this is that even the sole proprietor working only with himself, must reorganize their thinking, about suppliers, customers, and perhaps most important service providers, in order to survive, prosper, and grow. Here is a URL to take you to some conference photos of myself and my able associates none of whom works for me, but the sure do make bookselling interesting


Here is more material on how even a micro entrepreneurs must think of their customers, certain because key business principles apply on both a micro, a macro level.

"Based on more than a decade of research in a variety of industries, and filled with examples from companies including Cisco Systems, La Farge, Starbucks, Best Buy, and Jones Lang LaSalle, Gulati explores the five levers of resilience: Coordination: Connect, eradicate, or restructure silos to enable swift responses. Cooperation: Foster a culture that aligns all employees around the shared goals of customer solutions. Clout: Redistribute power to "bridge builders" and customer champions. Capability: Develop employees' skills at tackling changing customer needs. Connection: Blend partners' offerings with yours to provide unique customer solutions."

I could say a lot more about Reorganize for Resilience: Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business by Ranjay Gulati, but my busy schedule and deadlines have intervened as I am off to yet another four day conference Wiscon the Worlds only and largest Feminist Science fiction convention (drawing around one thousand attendees) at The Concourse Hotel in Madison Wisconsin. I am proud to say I am one of its five founders.

Philip Kaveny
Senior Reviewer

Klausner's Bookshelf

Super Human
Michael Carroll
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, NY, NY 10014
9780399252976, $16.99,

Five millennia ago, the Super Human Krodin became the ruler of Egypt. He literally led his army against the powerful Assyrians destroying the enemy as he could read minds and possessed strength beyond a hundred mortals. After Assyria, other nations fell to Krodin's might.

In the present, the adult populace becomes ill in a horrific pandemic outburst. The Helotry has begun its plot for world domination with spreading a disease and bringing Krodin to modern times as their adulated leader who will be dictator of earth. An insurgency surfaces that seems laughable; but shockingly they gain victories over the Helotry. This small group thwarting the powerful Helotry is teens with superpowers led by telekinetic Roz Dalton.

This is an entertaining save the world thriller that pays homage to the Teen Titans of DC. Action-packed throughout, young adult readers will relish the teenage heroes battling the ruthless villains while their parents are ailing. Although the villains fail to live up to their reputation as callous and cold-bloodedly cruel (no Joker in the pack) and a romance seems more of a requirement (pet peeve of mine -others might like the relationship sidebar), this is a fun good superhero vs. bad supervillains.

Kevin O'Brien
Pinnacle Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9780786021369, $7.99,

For over two years in the Seattle area, the "Mama's Boy" kidnapped and killed mothers while the children were left where he kidnapped the mothers and left the child some battered toys. The police never found him and never could explain why he abruptly stopped.

Widow Susan Blanchette whose husband and older son were killed, drives with her four year old boy Matthew to meet her fiance medical supply salesman Allen Meker in Cullen, Washington. Allen, who adores Susan and cares about her toddler, has a great weekend planned for them. When they reach the place h e rented, Susan believes there is a prowler, but Allen sees no one. While at a store, Jordan Prewitt, whose mom was killed by the Mama's Boy, kidnaps Allen. He intends to torture the man until he confesses he is the serial killer. While Susan searches for Allen, two psychopaths hijack her.

Kevin O'Brien provides an intense, perhaps too emotional, but electrifying thriller. Several characters share the lead including the three above and Jordan's friend Les while a strong support cast enhance the growing tension. The key to the plot is the reader keeps changing his or her mind as to who the killer is although that is a two edged as at times because needless subplots that adds nothing is applied to trick the audience to go down a sidebar. Still with terrific twists, fans will wonder who the Mama's Boy serial killer is.

Patrick Robinson
Vanguard Press
c/o Perseus Books Group
Eleven Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142
9781593155841, $25.95

The two Western educated childhood friends became al-Qaeda terrorists killing military and civilians until Ibrahim Sharif and Yousaf Mohammed were captured by US Navy SEAL Team 10 in a small village in the Hindu Kush mountain region of Afghan. They were taken to Guantanamo Bay where they were held prisoners but refused to cooperate; not even providing their names to the military tribunal.

A few years later, the court system demands habeas corpus applies to the detainees. With Saudi money to buy Epstein's law firm, the two terrorists and two other cohorts are free. However, neither the law firm nor the terrorists realizes that the CIA and Mossad are tracking them. The quartet plots an act at a school in Connecticut with plans after that to return to the Hindu Kush for further activity against the hated west. Retired Navy SEAL Lieutenant Commander Mack Bedford, who led the first sweep that captured the pair, leads another operation against them with deadly force not just authorized but required.

This is an exciting action packed thriller as Bedford returns to active duty to go after the same terrorists he caught the last time he was in Afghanistan. The story line is fast-paced throughout, but also has an accusatory tone blaming liberals and leftists for being soft on terrorism and arguing to keep Gitmo open. These premises ignore that a right wing administration took its eye off al Qaeda and tha t the courts system has locked away in federal pens some nasty terrorists; none of whom have escaped. Still readers will be hooked from the moment that the espionage agency Intercept the electronic traffic as Bin Laden and the CIA-Mossad agents know the importance of Yousaf and Sharif.

Darkling Fields of Arvon
James G. Anderson and Mark Sebanc
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781439133538, $14.99,

The world of Ahn Norvys is turning increasingly dark as a tyrant runs the nation with an evil iron hand. The serenity and prosperity of the Harmonic Age of King Ardiel is practically over.

The only hope of dethroning the usurper and returning to the affluence of the Harmonic Age rests with the recently deigned High Bard Kalaquinn Wright and his rebellious band of miscreants. However, though he keeps the faith in what hew must do, Kal has doubts as he feels he is too young for the mantle of savior and his team too odd to succeed against the growing malevolence sweeping across the land. Still they know what must be done and set out to do so in spite of their lack of confidence. They seek the missing rightful heir to the ancient throne the missing Prince of Starigan and relight the Sacred Fire. To achieve this they m ust first find the Talamadh magical harp that maintains the peace across Arvon.

The second entry in the Legacy of the Stone Harp (see The Stoneholding) is an entertaining quest fantasy that sub-genre fans will fully enjoy. The story line offers nothing new and the champions are never fully developed beyond their fear of failure. Yet Kal and company are likable with their youthful energy at times leading to mistakes but also surmounting their deficiency in experience and belief in themselves. Darkling Fields of Arvon will hook the reader throughout as it is a fun tale in which the audience will join Kal and his team on the save the world mission.

The Machinery of Light
David J. Williams
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780553385434, $15.00,

In 2110, the assassination of the American President Harrison leads to a military takeover of the United States. Ignoring the Treaty of Zurich of 2105, the American Generals seize an opportunity and quickly launch an attack against the Eurasian Alliance led by the Russians and Chinese in an attempt to destroy their space-aerial defenses. WW III has been lunched (See The Mirrored Heavens and The Burning Skies).

The Eurasian Alliance launches the top secret mega-spaceships to destroy the enemy and its fleet. Meanwhile the Autumn Rain commando unit begins a seemingly suicidal desperate maneuver on Luna just ahead of the Eurasian joint fleet but behind the squad's creator. At the same time super cyborg Claire Haskell the Manilishi post-human implements the programming of her designer-creator Matthew Sinclair. He is several steps closer to achieving his goal of becoming the One God as he has deployed project Armageddon.

Fasten your seat belts as the latest dystopian military science fiction thriller starts at hyperspeed and accelerates from there. The action overwhelms the key characters, but no one (except bewildered stunned first time riders) will care as The Machinery of Light is an exhilarating action-packed futuristic twister in which reality is blurred at best. Readers will appreciate David J. Williams' fast-paced but extremely grim twenty-second century earth-moon sphere of operations.

Dragon Soul
Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett
Spectra (Bantam)
9780553807691, $26.00

The war (see Havemercy) is at least for now over as the two sides agree to a truce. However, neither the Volstov nor the Ke-Han trust one another. Both know it would not take much for hostilities to reignite as the magic weaving Volstov and the dark sorcery of Ke-Han remain diligently wary and weary.

Thom believes the tentative peace is a good time to bond with his despondent brother Rook. However, the grieving Rook, the most volatile yet successful warrior in the recent combat, has no interest in this or anything else. He still struggles with his Havemercy and the other great dragons dead; their bodies spread in small pieces across Ke-Han. Still he agrees to travel with Thom but the siblings are stunned to learn someone is paying good money to buy the remains of the fallen dragons. They soon realize that the beasts may be dead, but their magic lingers; in the wrong hands a new war could explode and there are several operatives seeking the means scattered all over Ke-Han.

Although somewhat different in tone than the great military fantasy Havemercy as that tale told the cost of a war on anyone within the sphere; this time the quest is less militarily epic for the most part but could turn rather quickly. The siblings are a terrific lead as Rook is a fierce warrior in aguish over the death of his equally feral dragon while Thom is a scholar who prefers to ride a book rather than a beast. Together, these opposites make for a strong saga as they follow the Marines' credo of no one left behind in their search for the soul of Havemercy before enemies or allies possess the heart of the brave dragoness warrior.

Rock Paper Tiger
Lisa Brackmann
Soho Press
853 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
9781569476406, $25.00,

Iraq War combat medic veteran Ellie Cooper suffers from post traumatic stress disorder following her theatre tours of duty. Currently she is in Beijing trying to figure out what next as she hangs around the growing art world. Also in China is her former Army interrog ator husband private security consultant Trey who recently dumped her. She has replaced Trey with artist Lao Zhang and Percocet but neither helps her forget Iraq or Trey.

Zhang accompanies an unidentified person until they vanish, American and Chinese officials wonder where they went. Each nation looks deeply at Ellie because of her relationship with the missing Zhang. Forced on the run, Ellie eludes cops, suits, and thugs while gathering information on line through a multiplayer game from Zhang's friends.

This is an exciting China thriller starring a resilient kick butt heroine who readers will admire for her courage. The Chinese subplot is action-packed as Ellie takes readers on an exhilarating tour. The back story of what she and Trey was directed to do in Iraq is harrowing and heartbreaking. Mixed together nicely by excellent Ellie, the two subplots make for a terrific brisk thriller that brings China alive

Without Hesitation
Mark Rosendorf
L&L Dreamspell
P.O. Box 1984, Friendswood, TX 77549-1984
9781603182126, $17.95 www.lldreamspell/com

After the mercenary Duke Organization liberated her from Brookhill Children's Psychiatric residence leaving behind a trail of corpses, Clara Blue felt she finally had a family who accepted her. Then that punk mercenary Jake Scarberry took them down killing her hero Rick Rasner (see The Rasner Effect). Now she is back at Brookhill and still hating the joint, but her attempts to escape fail. Instead she increasingly becomes delusional as she spends her time in the padded cells.

While Jake works as a bouncer, Rasner's co-leader and girlfriend, Jennifer Duke, daughter of the founder of whom she and her dead lover killed, arrives at Brookhill. Clara feels Jennifer has come to take her out of the zoo, but instead the woman accepts a job as a therapist and begins to arm the inmates while encouraging her mentee to avenge those who harmed her in her second stint. Jennifer obsesses over one goal: to kill Jake. So a a second bloodbath occurs she demands he be sent inside Brookhill. Although a civilian, Jake readily agrees as the Duke Organization killed his brother years ago so sending one more to hell is all the motivator he needs.

This is an exhilarating action-packed blood and gore thriller that never stops for a moment until the final confrontation. As in the first tale, fans will root for the hero while looking forward to the High Noon war of revenge between Jake and Jennifer as much of the fascination is how similar their needs are though hey are adversaries who loathe each other. With a strong cast especially inside the facility and once again with a nod to Clockwork Orange, fans will relish the return to Pennsylvania while newcomers will want to know what the deadly Rasner Effect was.

Stealing Fire
Jo Graham
Orbit Books
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780316076395, $14.99,

The Macedonian world conqueror is dead and his strongest supporters struggle with what to do in the aftermath as Alexander the Great was a man of epic proportions. Lydias of Macedon was with Alexander as he defeated all opponents, but he learns quickly that nothing will be the same as he leaves behind his ruler's corpse fleeing for his life.

Lydias joins the side of one of Alexander's top officers, General Ptolemy, who heads to Egypt to take control of the African nation. In country, Lydias meets other expatriates who pledge loyalty to Ptolemy. However, the Macedonian is shocked from those who come from beyond as the dead and the gods abet the general and his supporters in bringing Alexander's corpse and spirit to Egypt as his final resting place. However the biggest stunner for the honest Lydias is what Isis bestows on him.

This is a great ancient historical fantasy that brings to life the era just after Alexander's sudden death within a strong Egyptian mythos. Diogenes would have ended his search if he met Lydias who with a strong support cast serves as the center of the story line even as the real General Ptolemy begins a dynasty in Egypt. Stealing Fire is a terrific BC Egyptian thriller.

The Ambassador's Mission
Trudi Canavan
9780316037839, $25.99

The Magicians' Guild had always feared that one day during their annual sweeps for rogues that a commoner with untrained power would surface. Their worst trepidations occurred when Sonea the commoner displayed talent. She was quickly brought into the Magicians' Guild, but her ancestry made her a pariah until she has become a Black Magician of Kyralia with one foot tentatively inside the ruling Guild establishment and the other deeply embedded in her heritage.

Her son is a chip off the rebellious block, but more volatile than his mother. Lorkin resents the bias towards him and his family. Thus Lorkin joins the support team of powerful Lord Dannyl who is Guild Ambassador to the enemy Sachaka for two reasons. First he wants to get away from the prejudice shown to commoner mages and second he hopes to influence behavior in a place run by abusive black magicians with slaves. No one in Imardin trust the Sachakans whose belief is that the Black Magicians should rule the world and those of Sachaka should rule the Black Magicians. When Sonea learns Lorkin vanished, she fears for her offspring, but knows if she leaves the city she cannot return as that is Guild law. She promised her concerned friend Cery to investigate a recent slew of homicides as a serial killer using magic as a weapon assassinates the leaders of the Thieves Guild though no one knows why or who, but Sonea has some internal fears about what she will learn.

The latest Black Magician fantasy is a super tale filled with several great twists that make the second tale in the prequel saga (see The Magicians Apprentice) a standout. The story line is fast-paced with two well written prime subplots starring mom and son. This is a terrific magical whodunit where mom the Black Magician amateur sleuth investigates the killings and readers are shown a deep look at the culture of magically dominated Sachaka as seen through the lens of the missing son. The audience will relish this strong entry into the world of Trudi Canavan.

Blonde Bombshell
Tom Holt
9780316086998, $13.99

In Novosibirsk, in between being intoxicated former scientist turned banker George Stetchkin ponders how, $50 trillion from various bank vaults around the world could be stolen without anyone or cameras witnessing the thefts. At the same time programming guru Lucy Pavlov, whose computer programs owns the global market place, cannot comprehend why she has no memory of her childhood.

Out in space on planet Ostar, the canine sentient rulers fearing further distraction by human pop music, debate why Mark One failed to explode and eradicate intelligence on planet earth. They agree that humans should be walked as pets and not piss away a planet. As they launch Mark Two, George figures out the missing money riddle only to have two aliens shoot him. Meanwhile the Mark Two finds Ostar coding in Lucy's programs so sends the Mark Twain probe to learn how an earth human obtained their canine coding. George's bank assumes Twain is a programmer and hires him while Lucy has doubts about this Twain fellow.

This is a zany over the top of Olympus Mons societal satire that rips the international financial programming government complex skewering all and much more for their me-me top line attitudes. Fast-paced, the frantic story line is jocular although lacks a cohesive focus making it difficult to comprehend. Still fans who relish a dog eat human Armageddon science fiction will relish the Ostar solution to the too big to fail problem.

Death Echo
Elizabeth Lowell
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022-5299
9780061629754, $24.99,

She left her field CIA work for what she assumed would be a much safer position. Thus former agent Emma Cross now works at St. Kilda Consulting in what has to be an easier job than being caught in the crossfire of tribal combat as she previously was.

St. Kilda looks into a simple incident of a vanished yacht the Black Swan that probably was stolen. The mission is to get on board the Black Swan's identical twin Blackbird as the insurance company thinks the second vessel is actually the missing ship. Emma and former special op officer Mackenzie Durand are in charge of the assignment. He trusts no one as he believes the CIA betrayed his team on a dangerous mission five years ago in which he was the only survivor. In spite of his attraction to his partner, he prefers going alone as no one has his back. Still as he takes control of the Blackbird, Emma must overcome her instincts of also distrusting everyone if she is to learn what is going on; neither expected to fall in love or be back in the CIA's deadly outreach.

Death Echo is an action-packed romantic suspense espionage thriller that remains at an incredibly high speed yet enables the audience to understand what motivates the powerful distrust in the two lead characters. That pairing of two classic misanthropic skeptics whose similar pasts come back full throttle makes for a taut St. Kilda thriller (see Blue Smoke and Murder, and The Wrong Hostage).

The Rule of Nine
Steve Martini
9780062008534, $26.99

The events in nearby Coronado are nuked into every cell of his brain as San Diego based attorney Paul Madriani still reels from the near tragedy (see Guardian of Lies). The near nuclear disaster has him looking at the bigger picture of terrorism. The FBI warns Madriani to keep his mouth shut or face a lifetime locked away in a place he never heard of under the Patriot Act enforcement. On the other hand weapons expert Joselyn Cole demands he go public so a repeat can be averted.

While Madriani struggles with coping and what to do, an aging 1960s radical believes the time has come to destroy the DC right wing government-industrial complex. This former member of the Students for a Democratic Society expects to die like a Middle Eastern suicide bomber and unlike the cowardly western right wing terrorists who kill people from a safe distance. The plan will make 9/11 look like a minor incident and the first deadly steps come from the American right wing form of terrorism.

The Feds tie Madriani to a murder of a DC staffer as law enforcement believes "the Mexicutioner" Liquida assassin is the killer. Madriani rusticates with his family as he and Cole fear the Feds are missing the big picture again as they believe two insane murderers, the ancient Weatherman and the Mexicutioner have joined forces in what apparently involves the mysterious deadly "Rule of Nine" gamut.

This is an exciting over the top of the Washington Monument thriller that grips the audience from the onset and never let's go until the final dramatic confrontation. The story line is action, action, and more action that will have Madriani fans salivating for another superheavyweight bout starring the Southern California lawyer and his sidekick Cole vs. archenemy Liquida; that is if everyone rides away from this round.

Meg Cabot
9780061735066, $22.99

In New York, Meena Harker writes scripts for the soap opera Insatiable. She enjoys her work and is diligent with hopes to obtain a promotion. However, she is hurt when the boss selects Shoshona Metzenbaum the 00 sized treadmill walker with family connections like super director aunt and uncle for the position. Things get even worse when Shoshona directs Meena to write a vampire storyline for the TV show. Having the "gift" of sigh t that enables her to see who will shortly die; Meena detests the vampire craze and especially loathes her soap following the parade not leading it.

In the apartment building where she lives with her brother and Jack the dog Meena meets Romanian Prince Lucien, who is visiting neighbors. She likes the fact that for the first time she has encountered a person whose death she cannot foresee. However as she falls in love with the sophisticated East European Meena is unaware of why she fails to be able to foresee his death; the reason being he is dead as befitting the offspring of Dracula and is in town due to his being the ruler of the vampire community.

This is a jocular tongue in cheek urban fantasy romance that takes a bite out of the sensual vampire craze. Closer to George Hamilton than Bella Lugosi or Christopher Lee, Insatiable is an amusing lampooning of the craze that those who would dine on us care about us as equals not cattle. Although at times the verbiage turns verbose as if Meg Cabot targets the Princess Diaries crowd rather than the older audience this story line is fun and readers will enjoy her humorous Love At First Bite romantic comedic satire.

Girl in Translation
Jean Kwok
c/o G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9781594487569, $25.95,

Eleven years old Kimberly Chang and her mom left Honk Kong looking forward to "Minhaton" and the Liberty Goddess, but her Aunt dumps them into an unheated roach hell dump in a nasty part of Brooklyn. Mother and daughter survive by working at a Chinatown sweat shop while Kimberly struggles to learn English.

Ashamed, Kimberly conceals her home life from her affluent classmates including her only friend Annette. Over the years in spite of having to work she tries her best at school as she knows her only hope out of abject poverty for her and her mom starts with a college scholarship.

This is a fascinating inspiring contemporary fiction starring a wonderful girl who conceals her impoverish life from her schoolmates and friends though she feels guilty doing so as her mom works so hard (as does Kimberly) to give her somewhat a life. Character driven, fans will feel empathy for the young heroine while rooting for her to make it to the Ivy league and to give her mom one day a piano. Adults and high school teens will appreciate the powerful Girl in Translation.

Catherine Coulter
c/o G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399156533, $26.95,

Yale Professor Edward Kender has colon cancer in which the drug Culovort he receives as part of his treatment seems to be working when he is informed production by German firm Schiffer Hartwin is nonexistent. Stunned he assumes the pharmaceutical industry is playing death squad to drum up profits. He hires private investigator Erin Pulaski to make an inquiry into the firm. She breaks in and enters the head office of the American subsidiary in Stone Bridge, Connecticut in order to hack into the files of the local CEO Caskie Royal. She finds info on plans to stop the Cartwright Labs in Bartonville, Missouri from manufacturing the drug; as well as stopping it in Spain in favor of a French firm Labortoires Anconder's drug Eloxium. However, Royal and production manager Carla Alvarez arrive and discuss what they are doing with the firm and then have sex..

The next day she learns that the firm's troubleshooter was murdered near where she downloaded computer data that made no sense to her. Meanwhile, the FBI sends married couple Agents Sherlock and Savich to Stone Bridge to assist FBI agent Bowie Richards with the homicide. They begin to find troubles with the pharmaceutical company while Pulaski wonders what to do with her illegal download; Pulaski becomes their prime suspect. Savich also investigates the poisoning of a lobbyist whose real target may have been aimed at a US Senator.

This is a great timely entry in the long running S&S FBI police procedural series due to the pharmaceutical connection as much as the freshness brought forth by Richards and more so by Erin who knows her B&E was stupid but felt strongly that they needed to expose true death squad bottom lines. Fast-paced from the onset, the second case takes somewhat of a back seat though it is well written and quite exciting too. Fans of the series will relish this strong entry while newcomers will find Whiplash a winner too.

The Marrowbone Marble Company
M. Glenn Taylor
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061923937, $24.99,

In 1941 in Huntington, West Virginia, eighteen year old orphan Loyal Ledford works as a furnace tender at the Mann Glass Company factory while also attending college. He likes his boss' daughter Rachel and persuades her to go out with him. When the war breaks out, Loyal joins the Marine Corps.

After major combat tours, he comes home to a hero's welcome. He marries Rachel, they have two kids and he returns to the glass manufacturing factory. However, he suffers from the trauma of battle until he meets his cousins, the Bonecutter brothers. They form a partnership, The Marrowbone Marble Company and a company village that welcomes all races and proves successful over the couple of decades until the civil rights movement marches through the area threatening his business, his village and his family.

This super historical epic returns to the land of The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart as The Marrowbone Marble Company focuses on a man who is ahead of his time re race relations only to be threatened by those trying to catch up. After serving in some of the Pacific's more harrowing battles, Ledford suffers from PTSD until he meets his relatives and their land, which turns him into a visionary. Readers who relish a profound historical tale will appreciate the life and times of the battle fatigued dreamer in the Mountaineer State as he keeps the insightful story line mostly focused although some meandering in the foothills occurs.

Finding Frances
Janice M. Van Dyck
2840 West Bay Drive #222, Largo, FL 33770
9780982614006, $16.00

Suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease that makes breathing difficult, Frances is ready to join God. When her latest attack occurs, she lies down calmly waiting for God to embrace her and does not call her spouse Bill who remains in denial and would call 911. However, when death fails to come right away and the pain turns excruciating, she manages to get Bill to call 911.

Frances needs emergency surgery to remove the infarcted bowel, but though she prefers to say no intrusive operation, she needs professional care that will be covered by insurance at the hospital but not at home. Frances pleads with her son William to allow her to die although she knows her husband and her other children will refuse. When the operation fails, her doctor wants a second try, but Frances says enough; she chooses a death with dignity decision opting for hospice care rather than hospital treatment, but her family wants her to reconsider.

Avoiding melodrama, Finding Frances is a great family drama that looks deeply at the impact on everyone when a loved one is dying. Frances is the most adjusted due to her belief in the afterlife; her husband and three adult children cannot let her leave them without fighting for her to keep trying. Making a strong case for end of life counseling for a family, readers will appreciate Janice M. Van Dyck's insightful drama; as spending time with Frances and her family provides a profound timely look at dying.

Point Dume
Katie Arnoldi
The Overlook Press
141 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10012
9781590203293, $24.95,

In Point Dume, California, thirty-five year old Ellis Gardner is considered by most knowledgeable folks in the area as the top female surfer. Affluent mommas leave their extravagant mansions high on the cliffs to receive lessons from Ellis. Her childhood friend Pablo Schwartz is also a surfing instructor, but lately he has been making more money selling marijuana planted by the Mexican cartels on the hillside of the ignorant wealthy Americans. He loves Ellis, but competes f or her affection with middle aged Frank Bane, who has recently discovered surfing, mostly because he is in heat over Ellis. Ironically his wife Janice is the best weed customer of his rival for Ellis' affection.

Felix Duarte sneaks across the border to guard a cartel's marijuana patch as someone is ripping off the Mexican mob. The job is deadly and lonely but the pay is excellent. When he catches the thief, he knows what he must do; if he fails to catch the thief in a timely manner he also knows what his employer will do to him.

Point Dume is an odd character driven thriller that rotates meeting the prime cast in order to understand their motives and especially their personal issues. The links between the players are surfing, sexing and smoking, yet no one seems in control of their life. Fascinating and timely, readers who enjoy cultivating a counter culture saga that lampoons the zealousness of the anti drug trafficking crowd (that ironically supports the right to sell guns to anyone even those who sell illegal drugs) will want to surf at Point Dume.

Ben Farmer
9781590200438, $25.95

In 1755 the British army ruthlessly marches through one of their colonies Acadia to evict the unwelcome French citizens from their homes and loved ones. Families are torn apart without regard as ethnic cleansing of the French Catholics is the regal policy.

As part of the royal eviction, lovers Evangeline Bellefontaine and Gabriel Lajeunesse are separated, deported, and sent to different areas in the colonies that leave them several hundred miles from one another. Evangeline makes a concerted effort to find the love of her life. Her trek is dangerous but she believes it is worth it though he may be in the lower English colonies, out west amidst the French colonies, or as far away as the Louisiana bayous where many Acadians ended up after the "Great Expulsion"; she choose s Louisiana on a decade odyssey accompanied by trapper Bernard Arseneau and priest Father Felician.

Ben Farmer provides an intriguing novelization of the classic Longfellow poem. The story line brings to life the French-British conflict in North America as it intrudes on colonial existence. Although the history overwhelms the cast even the title character, readers will enjoy Mr. Farmer's detailed impressive look at the impact of the hostilities between the French and British had on the North American colonists and the regional Indian tribes

Not Untrue and Not Unkind
Ed O'Loughlin
9781590202951, $26.95

In Dublin, newspaper editor Cartwright committed suicide. His shocked friends and colleagues cannot believe it. On Cartwright's desk, one of his newspaper buddies Owen Simmons finds a package containing a New York Chronicle photo he took over a decade ago in Africa of newspaper people they worked with. Simmons knows them all, but especially the woman he loved

He thinks back to Africa in the 1990s when they covered the deadly beat of a continent in perilous turmoil. Zaire was overwhelmed with civil war as was Nigeria. However, the worst was Rwanda where the rivers turned red due to the tribal genocide.

Not Untrue & Not Unkind is a profound look back into Africa as the continent implodes with violence as seen though Simmons' flashbacks. The intrepid journalistic crew are horrified with what they witness, report and photograph as atrocities make headlines in the civilized West, which chooses mostly inertia except when economic interests are threatened. Not an easy read, aptly titled Not Untrue and Not Unkind affirms mankind's cruelty to one another as the western journalists, who cannot fathom a rational reason for the violence while al so knowing what they have seen will haunt them forever.

The Anniversary Man
R.J. Ellory
9781590203279, $24.95

In 1984 in Jersey City, sixteen years old John and seventeen years old Nadia meet and fall in love. However, The Hammer of God Serial killer catches the pair; he brutally kills Nadia while John is fortunate to survive the ordeal although he would tell you otherwise as he is filled with survivor guilt fueled by obsessive compulsive behavior disorder.

Over the next two decades, John became an expert on the psychopathic mind of serial killers while also working as a crime researcher. When he connects the murder of teenager Mia Grant to three other homicides, City Herald reporter Karen Langley writes the scoop that is initially sent to the Chief of Police who asks the paper to delay the release of the article proclaiming a potential serial killer is working the Big Apple. NYPD Detective Ray Irving interviews Langley to learn of her source while the killer taunts the cops and the media. Her resource is John who becomes the prime suspect.

This is an exhilarating New York City serial killer thriller that feels fresh in spite of the standard elements used like taunting the cops. Fast-paced throughout, the cops, the reporter and the reader increasingly believe John is the killer. Although RJ Ellory shows he is not The Boy From New York City, fans will relish this strong police procedural.

The Life and Times of Homer Sincere Whose Amazing Adventures are Documented by His True and Trusted Friend Rigby Canfield
Nathaniel Lande
9781590203286, $25.95

In 1946 in the French Quarter of New Orleans preadolescents Rigby Canfield and polio-stricken Homer Sincere meet over a game of marbles. The two youngsters become friends although the former comes from affluence and the polio-stricken tweener comes from poverty. They soon begin filming their neighborhood with an 8mm camera.

When Homer's mother dies, he is dispatched to La Vielle Maisona foster home run by Father Rivage. An ex-con, the Father funds the facility with art forgeries and cider sales. He gets intelligent Homer interested in the classics and encouraging the lad to become a "Soldier of the Word."

The two friends meet again in Manhattan when both obtain work at Time-Life. However as they travel the world, they fall in love with the same woman Daisy, but their first dream of Hollywood filmmaking remains strong and binds them together.

This is an interesting slice of Life that uses real persona and events to anchor time and place, but stars two intriguing lead characters and to a lesser degree the woman who loves both of them. The historical Americana tale is driven totally by Rigby and Homer, though the former tells the tale of how extraordinary the latter, best friends forever, was. Although the story line never fully gels as in many ways it feels more like vignettes, fans will relish Rigby Canfield's biographical fictional account of his BFF.

Bedlam The Further Secret Adventures Of Charlotte Bronte
Laura Joh Rowland
9781590202715, $25.95

Charlotte Bronte wants to mourn the deaths of her sisters Anne and Emily, but Jane Eyre will not allow her to. She feels survival guilt as her two novelist siblings never saw their writings make it though now thanks in part to her tale Jane Eyre, she and her late siblings are the talk of the nation.

Charlotte has also ended her relationship with her beloved John Slade, whom she met during her Moscow adventure last year (see Secret Adventures Of Charlotte Bronte). Famous author William Makepeace Thackeray has mentored Charlotte and helps her deal with sudden fame and entrance to the literary lions of London. She is escorted on a tour of Bedlam Psychiatric Hospital, but one inmate looks like Anne's twin and worse anot her has to be John. She challenges the officials re the latter's identification and told he is Polish expatriate Josef Typinski, who escaped when a murder causes chaos. The authorities accuse Josef of the homicide while Charlotte gets involved.

Rotating perspective between Charlotte's journal and Slade's escapades, readers will fully believe the last Bronte sister's adventures this time in England. The story line is fast-paced, filled with action and feels plausible even with Charlotte turning into an amateur sleuth of sorts. As with the previous Charlotte Bronte's secret adventures (in Moscow), fans of Victorian thrillers will be thrilled reading about the heroine's bedlam escapades.

The Adversary
Lindsay McKenna
Silhouette Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373618347, $5.25,

Medicine man Colt Black and Shelly Godwin share a common goal. They have a deep need to travel to the Canadian Rockies together to retrieve and possess an emerald sphere before the malevolent Tupay sorcerer Victor Guerra obtains and uses it. However, neither of the two gung ho warriors knows why they feel an urgent desire to risk their lives on this mission.

Colt and Shelly are surrogate fighters of the Taqe, who are battling evil. Their quest is dangerous, but both continue encouraging one another though she is wary of males and he still suffers a childhood trauma caused by a Skin Walker while their mutual adversary Guerra challenges them every step of the way.

The key to this entertaining romantic fantasy is ironically the evil side of the Tupay-Taqe war as few bad guys are developed as well as Guerra and somewhat less Yellow Teeth the Skin Walker. Colt and Shelly are an intriguing coupling as she informs him in his dreams that she is waiting for him to come for her (no double entendre intended). Fans of good vs. evil showdowns with a romance in the background will want to read The Adversary.

Vampire Vendetta
Alexis Morgan
Silhouette Nocturne
9780373618354, $5.25

While grieving for the death of his half-sister as well as the rest of his clan, vampire medic Seamus Fitzhugh vows vengeance on those who he holds culpable. Obsessed with killing her predator, he treks to the estate of his enemy vampire clan chieftain Rafferty O'Day.

However, upon arrival Seamus comes across a dying woman. Putting aside his deadly fixation, he applies his medical technician education to rescue hybrid Megan Perez from poisoning. Megan is the cousin of Rafferty's wife, Joss. As such, Rafferty hires Seamus to serve as a medic. Seamus keeps the half-breed Megan safe from her child's father who plots to kill her and snatch their offspring. Becoming the Vampire's Desire as he falls in love while investigating his adversary, Seamus learns an inconvenient truth.

The Morgan mythos that is the prime backbone to the great Vampire Vendetta is the food chain in which purebred vampires reside on the top rung followed by enforcer hybrids and under them humans. That paranormal world is cleverly and plausibly constructed within the entertaining urban fantasy story line. The cast is solid either enhancing the understanding of what motivates the lead couple or the wonderful world of Alexis Morgan.

Should an Eagle Fall
Ken Hodgson
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive
Waterville, ME 04901
9781594148651, $25.95,

In Lone Wolf, Texas rancher Caleb Starr sees a large bird he assumes is a hawk diving towards his chickens; he fires and kills the attacking fowl only to find he shot an endangered species a bald eagle. The incident is filmed from the air by Marsh Wheelan who works for the radical environmental group Run Free.

A computer guru, Wheelan sends a copy of a photo of Starr holding the bloody Bald eagle to the media and a national tabloid publishes it. He next hacks into government agencies placing false information about the rancher. The Feds and state agencies send law enforcement to Lone Wolf while environmentalists, politicians and newscasters publicly denounce the beleaguered rancher. As Wheelan's fortunes rise stratospherically, Starr's plunges dramatically. Only his neighbors support him, but even they begin to distant themselves before they become part of the smear campaign.

This is an exciting thriller of justice so blind it fails the everyman who faces the combined might of a cherry picking media, a one side fits all movement and a bureaucracy that worships databases ignoring contrary facts. Although Wheelan is miles over the top of Guadalupe Peak, this fast-paced but character driven thought provoking tale will elate readers.

Under The Eye Of Kali
Susan Oleksiw
Five Star
9781594148712, $25.95

Kovalam, India is a popular tourist town as people come from around the world to visit sites like the Balabhadrakali Temple. American Anita Ray stays in the city not to sightsee, but to help her Auntie Meena run her eight-room Hotel Delite.

One of the guests, middle aged American Jean, vanishes on the same night her friend Marge is taken to the Anandabudhi Hospital after she contracts food poisoning at the Bamboo Village restaurant where Anita and her Brahmin boyfriend Anand also dined. Other guests ignore the duet as they go about their itineraries. Pam plans to visit the Suchindram Temple; Candy treks to Trivandrum; Emily wants to know more about Kali. However, Anita is concerned about Jean, who illegally was going to bring medical supplies into Myanmar. Deciding to investigate, she asks youthful assistant Peeru to watch over the photo shop she owns so she can explore the rice paddies until she learns what happened to Jean and then she must decide what to do next.

The location is excellent as this South India city comes alive to anchor this enjoyable amateur sleuth tale. Anita, apparently the star of short stories not read by me, is an obstinate American working in the land of her family, who cannot stop herself from investigating in order to catch a killer. This strong whodunit also contains a deep underlying message to embrace your heritage and not turn your back on your roots. Filled with suspense, readers will relish a trip to India during tourist season.

The Dragon's Secret
Donna MacQuigg
Five Star
9781594148682, $25.95

In 975 Wales, Sayrid the sorceress saw a vision of Viking warrior Kyran and his warriors defeat King Aswyn of Dragon's Head and his army not far from her cottage in the Mystical Forest. Soon after his actual triumph, he leaves the battlefield to seek a small brook he remembers from his childhood before Aswyn betrayed Kyran's father. He is attacked and injured before someone in the woods shoots his adversary with an arrow.

Sayrid killed his attacker and heals his wounds while insisting he is just a noble barbarian. After Kyran takes over Dragon's Head, the witch Brynn joins neighboring King Oddrun, who had been Aswyn's partner, in a scheme to overthrow the new overlord. Sayrid believes Kyran is another despot so she is cautious with him though he shares in common the same amulet with her. As the hedge witch and the conqueror fight their feelings, their love is the first step of an ancient prophecy.

This is an exciting Dark Ages romantic fantasy that is fun to read but never quite anchors the era or the romance. Kyran is the Ancient Ones' destined champion though he prefers to just win back what was taken from his father by treachery and punishing those who committed the seditious acts. Sayrid is an even more suspicious individual as she distrusts everyone especially the latest conqueror who reads her thoughts and enters her dreams. Sub-genre fans will enjoy their escapes as the fated duo learning The Dragon's Secret.

Tom Wasp and the Newgate Knocker
Amy Myers
Five Star
9781594148705, $25.95

In 1863, master flue faker Tom Wasp visits his friend housekeeper Eliza Hogg at Newgate prison the day before the latter is to be executed for poisoning her spouse George. Tom understands murder is unacceptable in the eyes of the law so she will be hung though he feels accentuating circumstances makes the case unfair as her husband was an abusive violent man.

Eliza gives Tom a pawn ticket to redeem a dilapidated naval doll, which he does. Inside the doll, Tom and his twelve years old apprentice Ned find a statue of the Goddess of Mercy Kwan-yin. George robbed the statue during the burning of the Peking Palace. Soon two London gangs are at war with one another over the strangulation of maid Dinah Johnson, daughter of the Rat Mob chief Billy. He orders Tom to investigate and the chimney sweeper agrees due to his friendship with the victim's sister. Upsetting the rival Nichol Gang, Tom, assisted by Ned and the self-anointed royal bug destroyer, carefully sweeps away the fog overwhelming his inquiry. Tom begins to believe an assassination is at the center of the power play.

The second Tom Wasp Victorian mystery (see Tom Wasp and the Murdered Stunner) is a wonderful amateur sleuth whodunit starring a charming chimney sweep trying to resolve two murders and perform his day job in the dangerous East End. The investigation is cleverly drawn as the scope widens at a nice pace. The cast is strong bringing to life London's squalid East End at a time when the Prince awaits his Danish bride. Amy Myers writes an engaging historical murder mystery with international implications.

The Spoils of Eden
Linda Lee Chaikin
Moody Press
820 North Lasalle Drive, Chicago, IL 60610
9780802437495, $13.99

In 1891, the Hawaiian Board of Health at Kalihi Leper Hospital sends nurse Eden Derrington to the coffee plantation owned by her fiance Rafe Easton. This is not a social call, as someone informed the Hawaiian Board of Heath that the baby Kip was a resident of the Kalawo leper colony before Rafe found him. Eden is to pick up and bring Kip back to the colony where he will be quarantined as the law forbids the adoption of leper offspring.

Still Rafe wants to adopt Kip and he and his fiancee argue heatedly over the infant and her work involving lepers. They end their engagement and she goes to assists her research scientist father Jerome who at Kalawo runs a clinic while seeking a medical cure for the disease.

Showing moxie by writing about Hawaii after James Michener's epic, Linda Lee Chaikin's first Dawn of Hawaii saga provides readers with a deep look at the archipelago less than a decade before the kingdom joins the United States. The story line is driven by the lead couple whose disagreement over her work with lepers threatens their relationship. Although the key support cast is never developed beyond thin role representation in conjunction with either of the two prime players, readers will relish this fine inspirational historical.

The One-Week Job Project: One Man, One Year, 52 Jobs
Sean Aiken
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780345508034, $15.00

After graduating from college, Sean Aiken tried travel, but that was not his thing. He came home and his mom suggested teaching while his sister recommended an entry level professional job. His father provided sage advice to find something you like. He decided to test a job a week so he set up a web site as such. Starting with bungee jump master at Whistler in British Columbia and ending as Mayor of Port Moody also in BC with a variety of points in between, Mr. Aiken tested 52 distinctly different jobs. Whether he is in Ontario, Wyoming or Beverly Hills, Sean lived up to his mantra to enjoy what your doing while doing do your best.

Gimmicky, but well written with an underlying philosophical theme of what is happiness, this is surprisingly a rather deep look at people today through various blue collar and white collar positions; considering that the book is 300 pages and fifty-two jobs are highlighted. Part of the depth is the introductory format used with each new position so that in a small text box specific information is provided enabling Mr. Aiken to focus on what he learned about each job. Beer brewing vs. wine making vs. cow milking sum up the odyssey as Mr. Aiken asks not just the job seeker but anyone to define whether success denotes happiness.

Nose Down, Eyes Up
Merrill Markoe
9780345500212, $15.00

Forty something Gil works as a handyman at an elderly couples' vacation home where he also resides for free. His girlfriend Sara works as an animal communication expert, which has enabled Gil to understand what his four dogs want.

He is taken aback when he realizes the top canine in his pack Jimmy the alpha is providing lessons and lectures to the neighborhood dogs on a variety of surviving with human topics. Jimmy teaches the other dogs how to properly beg especially for treats and the merits of indoor vs. outside peeing in nasty weather.

When Gil meets up with his former wife, she offers him work remodeling her guesthouse. He accepts, but Jimmy persuades him to take him with him. As he ignores Jimmy for time with his remarried former wife, Gil makes it clear to his four legged BFF that he is not his companion's biological father. Upset to know he is adopted Jimmy seeks out his biological parents especially his mother; not realizing how nearby she is.

This is a terrific pooch lit parable that focuses on what makes a family without being overly too cute. Jimmy and Gil are a wonderful pairing as Jimmy assumes the man who raised him is his daddy until he learns the shattering truth. His observations on family, love, and loyalty will obviously provide dog lovers with a charmer, but other readers will appreciate the wisdom of Jimmy's teachings starting with the title.

Spooky Little Girl
Laurie Notaro
9780345510976, $14.00

Lucy Fisher was looking forward to her vacation in Hawaii, hocking her life to be able to go. The dream vacation was a disappointment. When she comes home, she finds her possessions all over the lawn as her fiance Martin tossed them randomly out the door. Bad comes in three as Lucy learns when her boss accuses her of trying to steal money and drugs before firing her. A stunned Lucy moves in with her sister Alice.

On her way to the unemployment office, Lucy learns what bad luck really is when a bus runs her over. Now she is a student at Ghost School where if she completes her assignment she will move into the State of after-death. Lucy diligently applies herself as she wants to go back to earth not so much as to haunt her former fiance, but to learn why he kicked her to the curb and why no one, not even her sister or the bus driver attended her funeral. Only Tulip seems to miss her.

This clever paranormal chick lit is a fun tale though the serio-comic story line never turns as profound as it could have been; opting more for a winking jocularity that in some ways will remind readers of the movie Over her Dead Body. The beleaguered heroine is likable so that fans will root for her as grandma has made living in the State of the dead precarious for both of them and Lucy knows you only get one chance at it.

The Left Hand Of God
Paul Hoffman
c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10014-3657
9780525951315, $25.95,

The fundamentalist true believers of The Sanctuary of the Redeemers on Shotover Scarp receive young male orphans rejected by society who does not want to know what goes on behind the closed faculty; not that anyone would dare. Most of the boys fail to make it through the endless verbal and physical abusive methods to indoctrinate the children with the true faith and turn them into holy warriors of God. Those who miraculously survive the ordeal do so not because they turn to faith, but because they become psychopathic liars who fool their brutal instructors that they turned to faith.

Three surviving so far students Cale, Kleist and Vague Henri explore the endless Sanctuary when they come across a Redeemer surgically slicing up a living female while another waits her turn. Stunned, the trio attacks the Redeemer, freeing the female in the queue Riba. Cale enables the foursome to escape from Sanctuary; leading the band to Memphis; a city-state ruled by the Materazzi knights. With no status, the quartet is the lowest on the local social system even after Cale proves his combat skills. However, the Redeemers attack Memphis.

The medieval background for the most part is limited to the warrior caste system; yet the teens in flight or fight mode make for an entertaining tale. The story line is fast-paced predominantly owned by cunning and captivating Cale who is the prince of liars as he proves his worth as a fighter yet knows instinctively when to flee. His traveling companions provide support as they face abuse from the Redeemers and disdain from the residents of Memphis. Although a few seemingly key subplots seem to vanish without a resolution, readers will relish the coming of age saga of an accomplished sociopathic warrior.

Shades of Morning
Marlo Schalesky
Multnomah Books
12265 Oracle Blvd., Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781601420251, $13.99,

Marnie Wittier owns Books and Brew bookstore-coffee shop in Pacific Grove, California. Sixteen years ago she lived across the country in Clam Unction, Maine where she fell in love with visiting New York lawyer Taylor Cole, but that failed to work out. She left New England to escape her drama family including her estranged sister Rose to live a genteel serene life.

One phone call unanswered means her past has finally caught up with her. Taylor informs Marnie that her sister died, but named her as guardian to her fifteen year old son Emmit. When Emmit, accompanied by Taylor, arrives in California, already filled with regret Marnie is shocked to find her nephew has Downs Syndrome. As she and Taylor fall in love, Marnie struggles to be a mom to Emmit; who she loves very much while the townsfolk especially her customers welcome him as a God sent.

This is an excellent inspirational tale that focuses on God giving people second chances whether they deserve them or not. The support cast is superb while the lead triangle and Max the iguana are great fragile characters. With a fascinating shocking final twist, readers will have no regrets with Marlo Schalesky's strong novel.

Nowhere, Carolina
Tamara Leigh
9781601421678, $13.99

In Pickwick, North Carolina, when Maggie was a teen she was wild and out of control who never said no to her boyfriends until she got pregnant. Having a child changed Maggie who turned to Christianity for help as a single mom raising a kid alone out of wedlock in "Nowhere", Carolina as she calls her hometown.

Maggie never bothered to learn who sired Devyn although there were three candidates; two still living in town. Her attitude changes when the third, her high school sweetheart Reece Thorpe, returns to their hometown. Fearing one or more of the male candidates might pursue a paternity custody suit and now obsessed with a need to know, she prays Reece is the one because she still loves him. Maggie serendipitously obtains DNA samples of the trio to find out who is Devyn's dad.

The second Southern Discomfort inspirational contemporary drama (see Leaving Carolina for Maggie's cousin Piper's saga) is an enjoyable tale starring a wonderful small town cast. Character driven by the overly obstinate Maggie and her relationships with the possible biological fathers, fans of Three Men and a Baby with a religious spin will want to visit Nowhere, Carolina.

Jordan's Crossing
Randall Arthur
9781590522608, $13.99

His wife Susan and their two children seventeen years old son Chase and thirteen year old Donica had doubts bigger than the Atlantic Ocean, but liberal pastor Jordan Rau could not pass up the 50% increase in pay by leaving Chattanooga for Munich. In spite of their concerns, he relocates his family to Germany. To Jordan's amazement and affirming his decision, Chase finds his first girlfriend Heather Anne Mosely, a classmate at the DOD HS.

However, Jordan's belief he did the right thing collapses when Chase is viciously and senselessly murdered as he blames himself as if he killed his son. His family, his congregation, other pastors and psychologists try to help Jordan heal, but he cannot as he asks God why punish his innocent only son instead of his guilty father who left home for the wrong reason. He vows to find his son's killer(s) and bring the wrath of his sword onto them; deserting God like God deserted him.

This is an entreating inspirational tale that grips the audience with the formerly logical liberal pastor replacing his "turn the other cheek" belief system with an "eye for an eye" vengeance is the pastor. Although some incidents seem over the top of the German Alps, readers will relish this character driven tale; wondering whether Jordan's Paradise Lost of logic based faith will ever return him back to a believer in the goodness of the Lord.

A Certain Wolfish Charm
Lydia Dare
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139, Naperville, IL 60563
9781402236945, $6.99,

In 1816 Lily Rutledge worries about the radical change in behavior of her twelve year old ward Lord Oliver Westfield. She has sent letters to the lad's guardian Duke Simon Westfield demanding he get involved in his nephew's life, but she doubts the wastrel reads her missives as he only sends her money and besides he is too busy chasing skirts.

Lily decides the time for confrontation with the womanizing duke has passed. She goes to his home Blackmoor, but is stunned when Simon, realizing what is happening to his nephew, orders her to leave while he takes Oliver into his home. Simon plans to mentor Oliver on what it means to be a Westfield as puberty is bringing out the werewolf gene. Lily refuses to leave because she loves Oliver who calls Her "Aunt Lily" while she thinks of him as her son; nor will she abandon Oliver to a beast who failed to recognize him as blood. However, as Simon and Lily fight their attraction to one another, they fall in love, but he conceals his wolfish tendencies while she becomes more concerned over the physical and emotional changes to Oliver.

This is an entertaining werewolf Regency romantic cozy starring two seemingly cross-starred lead characters who share in common the belief that Oliver comes before their needs. The story line is emotional intense at times but only when Oliver struggles to cope with his hormonal changes especially the monthly need that seems like a werewolf's PMS. Fans will enjoy this fine historical romance as the author daringly combines the paranormal within an amiable story line.

Tall, Dark, and Wolfish
Lydia Dare
9781402236952, $6.99

In 1816 Edinburgh, Caitrin the seer warns her coven friend Elspeth Campbell that the man with beast is coming for her. While her three other coven sisters worry about her, Elspeth says the man is probably her father whom she never met.

In London Lord Benjamin Westfield is concerned that for the first time since puberty he failed to change during the full moon. Not wanting to deal with his two older brothers, he turns to Major Forester who suggests he see a healer. Reluctantly and concealing what he does from his sibling by pretending to visit friend Alec MacQuade, Benjamin heads to Edinburgh to ask an old hag Elspeth Campbell to help him.

At the Ferguson gala, Alec escorts Caitrin while he arranges for Benjamin to take Elspeth. Caitrin recognizes Benjamin as the beast from her vision. When Elspeth's beloved grandfather dies, he is there for her. He learns the woman he seeks is her late mother. As they fall in love, each knows they must reveal their innermost secret; he as the wolf and she as the witch.

The second Westfield Regency fantasy romance (see Ben's brother Simon in Certain Wolfish Charm) is an engaging tale that sub-genre readers will enjoy. The support is a powerful group with fans hoping for more stories especially that of Alec and Caitrin as well as the third Westfield sibling. The lead couple is a terrific pairing of star-crossed lovers summed up nicely by Ben's other brother Will when he muses her friends might burn his coach in a pique; as the question remain s can a wolf and a witch dare to find happiness together?

Within the Hollow Crown
Margaret Campbell Barnes
9781402239212, $14.99

Unlike his father Edward the Black prince, his grandfather Edward III, or his namesake Richard the Lionhearted, Richard Plantagenet never wanted to be king. However, in 1377 at eleven years old, he is crowned ruler of England under the control of a Regency Council led by his Uncle John of Gaunt. He hated their control and was pleased with parliament's dissolution of the Council though his Uncle John remained his top advisor. However, it was his happy marri age to Anne of Bohemia that gave him the strength and spirit to make difficult decisions in a strife torn kingdom; as his prime goal was to end the Hundred Years War and other such conflicts. He proved successful at fourteen when he ended the Peasants' Revolt. England prospered under his valiant rule until his beloved Anne died in 1394. Richard II was never the same and soon was betrayed by his cousin.

This is a fascinating work of biographical fiction that will remind readers of the Shakespeare tragedy as a great ruler falls apart after his heart dies along with his beloved Anne. Written in 1948, Within the Hollow Crown holds up as a strong historical fiction that brings to life the late fourteenth century England, a place where intrigue and betrayal outlive a monarch trying to bring peace, harmony, and prosperity to his kingdom.

Twice Dead
Kalayna Price
Bell Bridge Books
P.O. Box 300921, Memphis, TN 38130
9780984325672, $14.95

Shapeshifter Kita Nekai has not adapted to her new diet very well as a Bloody Mary can only go so far. She remains irate with Nathanial for changing her need to that of liquid ever since he sank two fangs into her and dined. The worst of being Once Bitten is stuck in one crappy shape though her shifting was slightly less formidable than her peers; she used to turn into a cute kitty while most of those she grew up with were lions, tigers, and oh my.

During a gala for a visiting Vampire Council VIP that she is directed to attend, Kita stumbles upon a headless dancer corpse. Apparently several more powerful vampires than her "sire" covet her. As more headless bodies and bodiless heads have her tripping, the local master decides to rid himself of the competition by simply killing Nathanial; she offers herself willingly if the Master allows an irate jealous Nathanial to live. Finally there is the ancient Collector who wants like Barnum to add the oddity of a shapeshifter turned vampiress to his collection. Life as an undead is so complex living.

The second Kitty Kat blood-lit tale is a fun urban fantasy starring a likable heroine who wants to purr over a chocolate shake not suck someone's blood. Ironically she needed protection as a Were and she needs protection as a vamp; cute just does not cut it in either community. Readers will enjoy her survival techniques in an entertaining lighthearted frolic.

The Little Known
Janice Daugharty
Bell Bridge Books
P.O. Box 300921, Memphis, TN 38130
9780984125852, $14.95

In Statenville, Georgia, integrations is creeping at a snail's pace as both whites and blacks prefer segregation. For example twelve year old Knot Crews attends the same school as the white kids, but never talks to any of them for fear of reprisal.

As another boring hot summer draws to an end, Knot observes the local cops chasing after a bank robber. The thief drops is sack of cash while fleeing the scene, but only Knot notices the bag as the cops focus on the felon. He picks it up and opens it. Inside is 1000 one hundred dollar bills. Not a fool he knows he cannot spend the loot as no one would believe a black kid had even a solo hundred dollar bill though he wishes he could as he goes hungry too often; his single mom spends more on booze than him. However, he feels he can help his even more impoverish neighbors. The young Good Samaritan begins anonymously mailing money to the downtrodden. However, to his shock the cash is not spent in necessities but on luxuries like TVs and liquor; though a few battered women of both colors use the money to escape with their kids from abusive relationships.

This is an intriguing historical coming of age tale that contains several life lessons for the reader (high school age and above) and definitely for Knot. He keeps the insightful story line focused as he tries to do what he believes is the right thing with his income redistribution plan. With a strong spotlight in mid 1960s Georgia, The Little Known is a fascinating slice of Southern life from a bygone era, but the generalizations apply anywhere.

Sex, Lies And Secret Lives
Thea Devine
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781416562658, $14.00,

Twin sisters Jillian and Justine Durant always knew they could depend on only each other during a traumatic childhood. They even set up their own SOS "Just in time" as a safety survival mechanism. As adults they moved beyond their harrowing youth in radically different ways; but shared in common a deep belief that neither would ever accept poverty again.

In the middle of the night the text fail safe message arrives from Jillian to Justine after the former sees her last lover Oliver Bayard on CNN, a murder victim. Knowing her twin needs her, Justine leaves her research job to insure her sibling is okay, but Jillian is missing. Justine quickly learns her globetrotting model sister uses the name Justine Dare as a paid companion to the affluent. Desperate she masquerades as her sibling after a wealthy customer arrives at her sister's place and assumes Justine is Jillian. The men keep coming like Zach, but who is an ally is and who is the enemy is remains elusive while Justine as Jillian searches for her missing twin.

Twins switching in a romantic suspense tale is not a new device (see Switch by Sandra Brown) although Thea Devine somewhat refreshes the plot by having one sibling disappear though that has been deployed less frequently (see Double Take by Brenda Joyce). The story line is fast-paced with plenty of sexual encounters, although the characters are not that deeply developed but Justine gets deep into the role of Jillian while researching her sister's disappearance. Fans will enjoy the ultra heated aptly titled Sex, Lies, and Secret lives.

The Burning Wire
Jeffrey Deaver
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781439156339, $26.99,

Police consultant and criminologist Lincoln Rhyme is a quadriplegic who uses his partner in life and work Amelia Sachs as his field eyes and ears. As a team they have solved more cases than healthy cops. His biggest issue is boredom, which is the state he is in right now; wishing he was in Mexico City where his nemesis Richard "Watchmaker" Logan is giving authorities a merry chase.

Rhyme's ennui ends when he asks to consult on another case. A substation of Algonquin Consolidated Power and Light goes off line and the computer tries to get it running by diverting power from other locales. When another substation goes black, power is diverted to the original substation that went off line. That happens several times until a wire hanging out of a substation hits a bus destroying it and killing a passenger. This was an act of sabotage and it happens two more times. With the evidence so far gathered, Lincoln thinks a disgruntled employee performed the deed as the culprit is able to control substations. HSD and FBI believe terrorists are at work due to the electronic tech they find. When Lincoln reaches the end game, he realties how wrong he has been, but has no time to wallow as he must find a way to rectify his mistake.

Series fan will want to read Rhyme's latest police procedural because he allows the audience to get close and personal with his inner most feelings; as he must decide between euthanasia, experimental surgery or the status quo. The mystery is cleverly executed and the suspense remains high throughout with the enthralled audience consistently kept off guard. The Burning Wire is Lincoln at his most complete best.

The Starlet
Mary McNamara
Simon & Schuster
9781439149843, $15.00

In Los Angeles at the posh Pinnacle Hotel, Juliette Greyson heads public relations. However to get away from the coddled rich and famous, she is on vacation in her maternal family's country Italy. In Florence, Juliette is stunned to watch druggie Mercy Talbot, an actress missing from a movie shooting in Rome, dive into a fountain. The paparazzi are too busy taking pictures to help Mercy out of the water; so Juliette pulls her out of the fountain.

Juliette takes Mercy to her family estate Cerreta just north of Florence. There the young woman seems less frantic so the filmmaking is relocated to Juliette's estate. That is enough to irritate Juliette who needs rest on her vacation, but now Mercy's shrew of a mom arrives demanding posh hotel treatment; as do much of the Hollywood crowd. However what is worse for Juliette is her former lover movie superstar Michael O'Connor is on location at her estate too at the same time someone is killing the pampered celebs.

The latest Greyson over the top (this time the Italian Alps rather than the Hollywood Hills - see Oscar Season) thriller is an amusing tale that lightly lampoons celebrities and their "ambulance' chaser paparazzi. The story line is a frantic fun frolic as Juliette hopes to survive the movie world invasion of Italy that she thought she left behind in L.A.

Almost Forever
Deborah Raney
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781416599913, $14.99,

In Hanover Falls on November first, late at night, Bryn Hennesey plays cards with a resident at the homeless shelter, wheelchair- bound Vietnam veteran Charlie Branson. Bryn feels guilty because she hasn't told her husband that she is still volunteering at the shelter even though he does not want her hanging with criminals and addicts.

While they are playing cards, she hears a siren sound in the background, which suddenly gets much louder. It is the fire department coming to put out the fire in the shelter. As they evacuate the building, the firefighters including her husband, Adam, rush into the inferno to insure all the residents are out. After the fire is put out, the building collapses killing several firefighters including the husband of Bryn and Garrett Edmonds' wife Molly. The grieving Garrett turns to Bryn for comfort. The pair realize they have deep feelings for one another but something in her past may cause him to turn his back on her.

Besides being an entertaining novel, the story line is embedded with many moral issues that will have readers reconsider their values as respect and understanding of others are critical in any relationship. Bryn is a wonderful person who volunteers to help the needy at personal cost and risk. The survivor guilt she feels almost cripples her but time and Garrett's empathy help h er heal. Deborah Raney makes her second chance at life work because the audience believes that her lead couple is real.

The Influenza Bomb
Paul McCusker and Walt Larimore, M.D.
9781416569756, $14.99

In 1918 and 1919, the Spanish Flu spread around the globe, killing millions. Whet almost the entire world does not know is that the Germans used a desiccated virus only more powerful than the original flu p and placed it water, drinks and food on military bases. The disease went international killing many including Germans. During the blitzkrieg in 1941, the Nazis released bombs that purposely failed to explode but contained the lethal virus so when the specialists detonated them they would inadvertently send the disease airborne exposing the British to death. This biological warfare method was not a rousing success.

In the present, there is a new Spanish Flue epidemic only more virulent then the previous attacks. Dr. Susan Hutchinson from WHO is part of a covert TCI group is in Russia trying to contain the disease and treat the patient. The disease spreads to other countries while in Germany TSI operatives Mark Carlson and Nora Richards seek a cure among hidden Nazi caves and catacombs where the antivirus may be found.. However, an ecoterrorist group Return to Earth spread the Flu as their goal in humanity's extinction. TSI and other law enforcement groups try to prevent Return to Earth's deployment of their final solution.

Ripped from today's headlines, this chilling thriller is very plausible as bioterrorism is a real threat to this nation's security. Reading like a cross between Dan Brown and Frederick Forsyth fans will enjoy the high octane over the top of the Kremlin and German Alps frantic save the world thriller as the Time Scene Investigators are reaching the doomsday clock countdown with The Influenza Bomb ignition.

Missing Max
Karen Young
9781416587491, $14.99

Post Katrina Mardi Gras is a beautiful spectacle. Jane Madison, her young son Max, her teenage stepdaughter Melanie and her friend Christine attend the event. Jane goes off to get refreshments while Christine watches Max. Melanie calls her stepmother to say Max is missing as Christine went to help somebody. Melanie flirted with some boys while, Max and his stroller vanished.

Six months later, no trace of Max has surfaced though the police still follow any lead. The family fails to receive strength from each other; instead they drift apart. Melanie blames herself and deliberately gets pregnant so that she can give the newborn to her stepmom and her dad Kyle. Blaming Jane for leaving their baby for a moment, Kylie moves out of their bedroom. Jane feels guilt not just for the loss of her child, but to what is happening to her family; however, she cannot pull herself together to prevent the collapse. Finally the kidnapper calls to inform them Max is alive. It is also apparent that the perp hates Jane, not Kyle who thought his legal work might be the motive.. Obsessed Jane considers who might detest her enough to abduct Max.

Karen Young writes a thrilling inspirational chiller that grips the audience from the opening abduction and never loosens its hold on readers need to know who and why. Missing Max focuses on how the kidnapped toddler's family cope with their loss; as each reacts differently to the big hole in their heart yet share in common a deep rooted need for separation and blame. Although a seemingly implausible finale, fans will root for determined Jane to rescue her kids from the monster.

Never Wave Goodbye
Doug Magee
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781439153987, $24.99,

Feeling sad but proud that her nine years old daughter Sarah is going to spend two weeks at sleep away camp with her best friend Linda, the distraught mom pays little attention to the vehicle or driver picking up her child. Lena waves goodbye to Sarah and goes inside their home pondering how to get her marriage to David back on track. Soon a second van arrives to pick up Sarah.

By the time the confusion is cleared up, Sarah, Linda and two boys Tommy and Franklin are the victims of a kidnapping. The FBI leads the investigation, but has little to go on. The kidnappers demand one million.

In the woods, one abductor Mr. Everett is with the four frightened kids until he has an accident after a chance encounter with a hiker. The kids are alone struggling to survive. Sarah becomes the de facto leaders of the quartet

Never Wave Goodbye is a high octane suspense wrapped around several related (by the abductions) family dramas. Doug Magee gets inside the hearts and souls of the children and their parents; each sharing in common a fear they will not see one another ever again. Although the clues are obvious so that law enforcement seems inane and to a degree the parents (one can claim trepidation and grief for the latter), readers will relish this gut-wrenching human drama.

The Poet Prince
Kathleen McGowan
9780743299985, $25.99

Researcher Maureen Paschal has diligently probed the "Confraternity of Saint Mary Magdalen". She finds some racy information referencing the Libro Rosso and the Order of the Holy Sepulcher. After learning this she heads to Florence to follow up with Destino, her ancient teacher.

Destino explains to his favorite student that much is known about The Poet Prince Lorenzo de Medici as he was the guiding light in the Renaissance. However, even more is unknown. Lorenzo secretly married Lucrezia "the Colombina" Donati, who was a star model of Botticelli. As she learns more about de Medici, Maureen also becomes heartbroken when she learns a former lover of her beloved Scottish oil mogul Berenger Sinclair accuses him of siring her baby at a time the duet were researching his family links back to de Medici and further back to Roman Longinus Gaius, who used the infamous Spear of Destiny to stab Jesus on the cross.

The third Magdalene Line thriller is an enticing gripping but somewhat convoluted tale as Maureen struggles with what she has learned about her beloved: a modern day Poet Prince. The heroine also begins to believe she knows who Gaius, doomed to walk the earth for eternity, is. Fans of the saga will relish this enthralling entry while newcomers should start with the previous two entries (see The Book of Love and The Expected One) for a better understanding of the increasingly complex McGowan Magdalene mythos.

Sins of the Mother
Victoria Christopher Murray
9781416589181, $15.00

In a former life, Jasmine Larson Bush was a stripper, a liar, an adulterous, and a thief. She told her husband Hosea that her daughter Jacqueline was his, but she was actually Brian Lewis' biological offspring. He assumed she was is child. Jasmine is married to a prominent pastor who preaches at the famous City of Lights Church and has a TV show. She believes her life is perfect.

Her idyllic life crumbles at the mall when she leaves her daughter with Mae Frances, who she thinks of as her mother, and goes to the bathroom to change her son's diaper. When she returns her daughter is nowhere to be seen. Mae Frances took her eye off the child for a moment that proved long enough for the girl to vanish. The police treat the disappearance as a kidnapping. As days pass with no sign of progress, Brian offers to help because he feels a connection to the daughter although he gave up his parental rights. As Jasmine tries to entice Brian into starting a new relationship with her, he wants to get back with his ex wife. Emotionally shattered, Jasmine collapses but a forgiving Hosea takes care of his wife while praying to the Lord to bring home their daughter to them safely.

This is the most emotionally draining experience of Jasmine's soap opera-ish life (see Lady Jasmine, Temptation, A Sin and a Shame, and Too Little, Too Late) and she copes with it, understandably, extremely poorly as she is particularly vulnerable. Readers empathize with her while admire Hosea and to a lesser degree Brian. Victoria Christopher Murray has written her most compelling tale to date as Jasmine and the audience will go from despondent emotional draining to spiritual uplifting in an intensely charged thriller.

Bodily Harm
Robert Dugoni
9781416592969, $25.00

Seattle attorney David Sloane is on the verge of winning a wrongful death lawsuit against respected pediatrician Dr. Peter Douvalidis when a curve ball upsets his perfect case. Toy designer Kyle Horgan confesses he is culpable in the young child's death.

His position suddenly shaky becomes even more precarious when a second child dies almost identical to how his clients' offspring died. Dr. Douvalidis had nothing to do with the second pediatric death. Before he can question Horgan, the toymaker vanishes. Former CIA assassin Anthony Stenopolis seeking revenge stalks Sloane, whose reputation as never losing a case is teetering. Before it is too late, Sloane seeks out Stenopolis.

The third Sloane legal thriller (see Jury Master and Wrongful Death) is an enjoyable tale that is superb when the focus is on the unraveling case, but loses some steam in ironically the more action-packed cat and mouse search for the hero's stalking assassin. Still fast-paced regardless of which subplot takes center stage, readers will appreciate Robert Dugoni's latest suspense filled novel.

A Boy Should Know How To Tie a Tie
Antwone Fisher
9781416566625, $19.99

Antwone who seen the movie or read the memoir Finding Fish will believe Antwone Fisher is the right person to provide a practical guide for at risk youths to make it in society. With its title instruction and sound advice on finance, grooming, daily hygiene and other key elements that teach a young man to be self sufficient and part of society instead of being condemned. Well written and easy to use, this inspirational primer with further insight into the author overcoming his resentment towards his foster father for never nurturing him with key improvements like tying the tie, this is a winning self help reference that anyone, especially young males, can use. Perhaps the only negative is that the prime targeted audience is the least likely to know the book is available and if they do will probably not read it without a mentor encouraging them. Still Mr. Fisher writes more than just an inspiring story; as he tries to give back more to the community inspiring others to do likewise.

Something Like Fate
Susan Colasanti
Viking Books
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780670011469, $17.99,

Although Lani and Erin are as opposite as two high school girls can be, they are BFFs. Lani the introvert is reflective and somewhat reticent while Erin the extrovert is bodacious and bold. Lani prefers to be alone rather than just go with the flow while Erin wants to lead the flow.

Erin and Jason start dating. Lani, who has not shown an iota of interest in boys, is stunned by her attraction to her BFF's boyfriend though she hides it. She struggles not to betray Erin, but increasingly believes Jason should be her boyfriend as the horoscope reader believes they are destined to be together. Still she refuses to step out on her BF, but her avoidance efforts become impossible to sustain as fate intervenes when Erin leaves for the summer and Jason hangs with Lani.

This is an entertaining teen relationship triangle starring two BFFs and the boy between them. The lead trio is terrific as each feels genuine and the use of social networks is a cautionary reminder of to keep your personal relationships' dirty laundry off line. Teenage readers will enjoy Something Like Fate wondering who if either will end up with Jason and what will happen to the friendship as the lead trio provides a deep angst-laden tale.

Montana Destiny
R.C. Ryan
Forever Romance
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780446548632, $6.99,

In Gold Fever, Montana Marilee Trainor loves being the ranching town's emergency medic. She hopes to plant permanent roots here.

After his parents died, Wyatt McCord traveled the world before recently coming home to his family ranch following the death of his grandfather. He renews his childhood ties to his cousins Zane and Jesse. However the trio is stunned that their grandfather was murdered and each believes what they used to think was grandfather's lunacy might be real: hidden gold somewhere on the ranch.

Marilee treats Wyatt when he is injured while bull riding. They are attracted to one another, but each shares an obstinate independence streak and a hot temper. Some nearly fatal "accidents" that seems more like homicide attempts has the wannabe lovers united against an unknown enemy.

The middle Lost Nugget ranch romance (see Jesse's tale - Montana Legacy) is an entertaining Big Sky romance starring two fascinating characters who may be in love, but appear to have stronger separatist needs; Maslow would love to study this pair. The story line is well written, but never moves forward in regards to the overarching theme re the gold. Still fans will enjoy this fine McCord contemporary as the doc and the patient find love is not enough even if they feel destiny is driving them together.

Still The One
Robin Wells
9780446555982, $6.99

In Chartreuse, Louisiana Kate Charmaine and Zack Ferguson spent the greatest and worst summer of their lives together. They were in love, but he was unable to commit to her. She became pregnant and depressingly gave up her child for adoption.

Seventeen years later, Zack returns to town accompanied by pregnant teenager Gracie, who is the daughter Kate gave up for adoption. Her adoptive parents are dead and her guardian demands she remain with Zack with the stipulation he shares custody with Kate. Stunned by the turn of events, Kate, a widow since her spouse died in Iraq two years ago, is euphoric to meet her biological daughter, looks forward to being a relatively young grandma, but has doubts about Zack who hurt her the first time around.

The return to Chartreuse (see Between the Sheets) is worth the time as Robin Wells provides a poignant often amusing family drama. The lead triangle is solid as each is fully developed with flaws and problems. Readers will enjoy the second chance contemporary while rooting for a finish from the Bard: "All's well that ends well".

Ravished by a Highlander
Paula Quinn
9780446552387, $6.99

In 1685, following the death of King Charles and a betrayal, the British soldiers massacre the inhabitants of Saint Christopher's Abbey including fellow soldiers assigned there to protect one special resident. First born son of a Laird, Robert MacGregor and his men arrive at the slaughter. Stunned they attack what remains of the invading troops who suffered heavy losses during the carnage. Afterward his men and he search the eerie corpse laden abbey to learn if anyone miraculously still lived. They find one person Davina Montgomery.

He is stunned to learn who the survivor is. Having spent her life hidden away in an abbey by the Royals, Davina is shocked how attracted she is towards her rescuer as she has never felt this way towards a man before. Robbie quickly falls in love with her. They soon flee for their lives as British turncoats pursue with one intention; kill Davina while his father and his clan fear she will bring a massacre to them.

This is an exhilarating late seventeenth century Highlands romance that sub-genre fans will appreciate due to the seemingly star-crossed lovers who make falling in love at first kiss feel genuine. Fast-paced with seemingly most of England and Scotland after them, fans will enjoy learning who Davina is and why she is the target of so many while her new champion willing to die for his beloved.

Ghosts of Manhattan
George Mann
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616141943, $16.00,

In 1926 Queen Victoria has just died but the Cold War between her kingdom and America remains heated. Violence in the big cities of the United States is rampant as the Twenties are Roaring with murders. In that wake the Ghost walks the city streets of Manhattan with a vengeance. He kills people employed by mobster Roman whose Italian-American gang is particularly known for their brutality and violence. The vigilante's calling card is an ancient Roman coin left on the eyes of those he murders.

Police detective Felix Donovan is well aware of the Roman mob and the vigilante who stalks them. Each in his belief are criminals. However, though he would prefer to bring Roman and the Ghost to justice, he makes little headway. Meanwhile as the Ghost closes in on Roman, the vigilante learns first hand his adversary is using paranormal connections and fears the end game is to bring a deadly God into the city.

Although comic book gory over the top of the Empire State Building, Ghosts of Manhattan is an entertaining superhero steampunk fantasy that will remind the audience of Darkman. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the Ghost stalks Roman's legion and never slows down until the climax with half of Manhattan at stake. Although the plot never quite decides between lampooning the two sub-genres and action thriller, readers will enjoy the High Noon over New York war between the vigilante and the mobster with eerie connections.

Dragonfly Falling
Adrian Tchaikovsky
9781616141950, $16.00

For generations, the methodical Wasp Empire has slowly conquered the Lowlands. Only recently has some enlightened members of the other species realize the perilous threat of the advancing Wasp horde.

Currently the Wasp army threatens Collegium, a city with a mix of opinions as the resistance is strong here and so are the deniers. Stenwold so far has failed to persuade the Collegium leadership that the Wasp threat endangers the city.

In Tark, Totho and Salma are arrested as spies by a fearful of strangers law enforcement officials who determine guilt based mainly on one's status. They are released, but seemingly too late as the Wasp army has the city under siege.

This is a fascinating second tale (see Empire in Black and Gold) in a unique fantasy in which the world built by Adrian Tchaikovsky engages the audience. The strife is reminiscent of the Greco-Persan Wars (the movie 300 is one major battle), but with the refreshing insectoid spin. Fans who appreciate something different in their military-social fantasies will want to read the strong Shadows of the Apt saga as a deep entrenched caste system struggles with survival since the invasion changes everything previously accepted as the divine order.

Ares Express
Ian McDonald
9781616141974, $16.00

On Mars, Sweetness Octave Glorious Honey-Bun Asiim Engineer 12th dreams of replacing her father as the Engineer of the Catherine of Tharsis train. However, she also knows of the gender ban as females are prohibited from driving trains. Now eight Martian years old, her family arranges her marriage to a Stuard clan, who drive a different train.

Headstrong, Sweetness rejects wedding the Stuard lad. Knowing her options is saying I do or running away, Sweetness flees her train home accompanied by Serpio Waymender of a lower caste clan as they only are a trackbuilding group. Her clan is disgraced and she is subject to execution for humiliating them amidst the train driving families. The runaways cross the desert seeking Devastation Harx, the leader of a mail-order religious clan living on an airship; the sect apparently has the sprit of Sweetness' dead twin sister "captured". However, her late sibling "Little Pretty One" is nothing like she expected and Sweetness learns the meaning of betrayal as Harx has plans for the twin to gain control over the angels who control the Martian climate. At the same her Grandmother Taal searches for her Sweetness.

The sequel to Desolation Road is a superb Martian thriller that reads more like a fantasy than a science fiction. The courageous obstinate heroine is terrific as she holds the fascinating but convoluted story line together while making a journey through all types of alternate Martian landscapes. Fans will relish Ares Express although keep the plausibility meter in the drawer as at times the plot goes over the top of Olympus Mons.

Demon Hunts
C.E. Murphy
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373803149, $14.95,

The Seattle area is terrorized by the Seattle Slaughter, a serial killer who dines on his victims; the latest one Charlie Groleski had his left arm eaten. Half-Cherokee, half-Irish Seattle police detective Joanne Walker fears the culprit is from beyond; perhaps a banshee or a wendigo.

She and her SPD psychic partner Billy Holliday investigates though the Urban Shaman would prefer not to work on the anniversary of her mom's death. However, the return of her mentor lover Coyote gives her hope as they team up to do a soul retrieval on her mom; but she is also afraid as she now realizes she must venture into the dangerous otherworldly Lower and Middle World to rescue the victims and combat the monster on his plane.

Book Five of the Walker Papers (see Walking Dead and Coyote Dreams) is an enjoyable urban fantasy police procedural as fans of the series will welcome back Coyote. Although the Seattle Slaughter fails to terrorize the readers, fans of the saga will appreciate the entry as Joanne's Superior Morrison seems more adjusted to her paranormal skills and of course the return of Coyote.

The Magician's Quest
Mary Cunningham
c/o Echelon Press
9781590806562, $10.99,

Cynthia remains in 1914 while her BFF Gus got back to 1964 but with Annie who is from the WWI era (see Curse pf the Bayou). The two BFFs separated by five decades hope to work out the switch soonest while receiving messages from the past in Cynthia's grandmother Mama Clara's trunk located in her mom's attic. However, shopkeeper Linus Carson buys the items in the attic and sells the trunk to Sebastien the Great magician.

Sebastien's fiancee Kathryn vanished into the past through that magic portal.. He has been working an incantation from the Book of Spells, but a key page is missing. He demands Cynthia and Gus help him or the will destroy the former's family financially.

This is an exciting elementary school age fantasy as the BFFs do their magic in three eras: 1914 with the help of Sebastien's grandmother; 1964 with the help of Cynthia's grandma, and in 2014 with the help of (read the book) as can 1814 be far behind or is that ahead. Fast-paced, readers will ponder how the two time travelers will bring forward the third time traveler and return to her time Annie. Complicated fun, fans will appreciate the adventures past, present and future of the two tweeners as time is running out on them.

Brains A Zombie Memoir
Robin Becker
Eos Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022-5299
9780061974052, $13.99,

Stein the research scientist and his team work on creating the perfect human. However, before they achieve their goal, they activate the virus prematurely. Everything goes downhill from there as the zombie contagion spreads across the country.

Zombies attack college professor Jack Barnes and his wife; infecting them with the disease. As his body rots, he discovers a passion for dining on Brains as he can beautifully think at least for now. He recruits other special rotters like Guts, Joan, Annie, Ross and Eve to join him on a quest to find the perfect Brains; that of Stein the Creator who he believes will end the body erosion issue and rid them of the putrid smell problem that deodorant fails to hide.

Brains is a superb satirical zombie thriller as the quest to find God the Stein motivates Barnes and his cognitive thinking recruits. Lampooning societal core values, readers will enjoy the pilgrimage with stops at Wal-Mart, packaged food oasis, and religious shrines, as the team heads to "Mecca"; the lights of Chicago where the Stein (names matter) is reported to reside.

Bones of Contention
Jeanne Matthews
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590587287, $24.95,

Cleon Dobbs has had three wives and a zillion unwanted offspring. However, when he learns he is dying from cancer, he decides to bring the entire brood including a "niece" Dinah Pelerin together at a remote run down Northern Territory, Australian lodge while he draws up his last will one paragraph at a time.

However, the final hurrah turns nasty when a journalist who knows about Cleon is murdered followed by Cleon's doctor who was here to help him commit suicide. His named heirs and offended cut outs resent he was not the corpse. Cleon goes too far when he leaves to Dinah his two Winslow Homer watercolors. Although she just wants to learn more about her father, she thinks something is not right about the paintings. When another heir arrives claiming to be a long lost son, the pot boils over as payback has become the prime Bones of Contention, but by whom.

This is a terrific Australian family mystery filled with deadly twists including a great climax. The setting and eccentric cast refresh the family feud inheritance theme as readers will relish the Down Under manipulations of Cleon while wondering what next will happen amidst the dysfunctional who compete for a paragraph.

Forbidden Fruit
Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen
9781590587386, $24.95

In Melbourne, while everyone seems to prepare for Christmas, Corinna Chapman says bah humbug to the holiday and to the heat gripping the city. However though she prefers to leave town, she and her assistant baker Jason get to work as the customers of Earthly Delights will be arriving soon.

Meanwhile her boyfriend private investigator Daniel follows clues as he seeks two teen runaways. Late trimester Pregnant Brigid has fled her family with the help of Manny. He is helping her run from her family, who has been keeping her captive as part of the religious sect they belong to. Corinna assists Daniel as he search searches to no avail. The teenagers trust no one since Brigid's so called loved ones and their religious affiliation kept her incarcerated in their home. Then there are the enigmatic suits who seem everywhere the sleuth and baker are, but reveal nothing especially why they diligently seem to be after Brigid or Manny.

With help from an eccentric crew to include his energetic girlfriend the baker, Daniel searches for the missing teens. The tone is set with a cast like Meroe the witch and Serena the donut eating donkey enabling the audience to see deep inside to the heart of the caring heroine. Readers will enjoy this entertaining investigative entry and its Aussie predecessors (see Trick or Treat) filled with food and sleuthing as eccentricity led by witty Corrine seems to be the wave in Melbourne.

A Murder of Crows
P.F. Chisholm
Poisoned Pen
9781590586570, $24.95

In 1592 Deputy Warden of the English West Marsh Sir Robert Carey is in London with his top assistant Sergeant Dodd. Still irate by the treatment he received from Vice Chamberlain Thomas Heneage, Dodd hires attorney Mr. Enys to sue. However, his superiors impede the proceedings in spite of the fact that he has a strong case.

When a rotted corpse is found by Her Highness Steps at the Thames, Carey's father Lord Hunsdon, whose mother is the Boleyn girl who failed to marry Henry though he sired him, asks his son to remain in London to investigate. Although he needs to be back in Plymouth for raiding season, Carey and Dodd make inquiries in a dangerous London; where those who do not want to kill you with a blade try to skewer you with words. They soon begin to connect dots between the badly decomposed corpse, a punished priest and Cornish land sale scam at the same time Sir Robert's mom is in Cornwall, reason unknown.

The latest Robert Carey Elizabethan mystery is a great entry in a strong historical series (see A Famine of Horses and A Plague of Angels) that uses a real person as the prime character. Fast-paced throughout, readers obtain a taste (or distaste if you ask Dodd) of London while meeting Shakespeare and Marlowe as Carey (a fascinating person in real life too) and Dodd investigate the corpse. P.F. Chisholm has written another entertaining whodunit as her Carey tales are some of the best on the market.

Crossing Oceans
Gina Holmes
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781414333052, $13.99,

Following the death of her mother, a pregnancy in which her lover David Preston dumped her without knowing she was carrying and a fight with her father, Jenny Lucas left Tulleytown, North Carolina vowing to never return. Six years later, she and her daughter Isabella have come home. Her oxygen carrying Mama Peg welcomes her granddaughter and great-granddaughter while her daddy remains hurt and distant until Jenny explains she is dying from cancer just like her mom though a different form of the killer.

Jenny seeks a caretaker for her child as she knows Mama Peg is not healthy enough and her dad failed her. She considers David, but when she goes to tell him he is a father, he is nasty. Ironically his wife Lindsay is nice. Her high school peer Craig Allen who rents a loft is kind to mother and daughter. However, the clock is running out on Jenny and she must decide what is best for her beloved daughter between her father and her former lover; both who failed her when she grieved her mom's death at a time when she needed each of them; she fears they will do again but this time she cannot clean up the mess.

The key to this well written poignant weeper is no miracle occurs saving Jenny, but the right person is there for Isabella if the dying mom can get through the pain of her past to see the future as her dad believes David's dad's misdiagnosed his wife's illness leading to her death. Character driven with a powerful ensemble cast supporting Jenny, readers will appreciate the angst filling an ocean as Jenny worries who will raise Isabella once she dies.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls
Steve Hockensmith, Jane Austen
215 Church Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
9781594744549, $12.95

Everyone knows that it is in bad form to leave in the middle of a funeral; it is even more distasteful when it is your funeral. However, Dreadful Mr. Ford no longer cares about the rules of Polite Society so he tries to walk out in his funeral. Thus teenager Elizabeth Bennet sees her first you know what; as saying that profane word is unacceptable.

Her father Mr. Bennet fought in the zombie war, but retired after the Dreadfuls were defeated. With their return, he trains his daughters in the use of the deadly arts. Jane is the most compassionate yet compliant while Elizabeth is the most excited, but alas not the best pupil as she prefers a direct application of force. As the new outbreak turns pandemic since the recently departed kept their heads, the Bennet brood and a hundred or so inexperienced rookies prepare for com bat although Elizabeth is a bit distracted by several males including her warrior instructor, a scientist and an aristocrat. However, Elizabeth hardens her heart into that of a fighter although she and her sisters become outcasts as fighting is a man's responsibility.

The latest over the top of Big Ben Jane Austen starring in another novel is an amusing zombie historical fantasy. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Mr. Ford decides to leave his funeral and never slows down as heads are sliced in the zombie war. Readers will enjoy the teenage escapades of Jane (and her siblings) as she learns to fight zombies and living males in Steve Hockensmith's zany prequel (see Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies; the writer has also starred in Ben H. Winters' Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters).

Not One Clue
Lois Greiman
Dell Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780440244783, $7.99,

In Los Angeles after LAPD Detective Jack Rivera takes her out of precious REM time, in her mind the next best thing to chocolate, with his defibrillator talk, psychologist Christina McMullen receives a second midnight call. Her patient Micky Goldenstone enigmatically says the other guy is dead, the cops are coming over and he needs Doc to take young Jamel away from the crime scene.

While she works the Goldenstone fiasco, her BFF since fifth grade Amazon Queen actress Laney Butterfield is being stalked by an unknown person raising the ugliness level with each new activity. If that isn't enough to get McMullen to flee to the East Coast, her neighbor fears for her runaway sister whose abusive husband threatens bodily harm to anyone in his way; she pleads with Doc to intervene.

Apparently all the crazies are out in California with the heroine being a lunatic magnet though her boyfriend thinks she is the loose cannon nutcase for taking so many risks. At times the various cases turn the shrink into a sleuth, as they overwhelm the plot yet fans will relish this amusing yet tense Los Angeles confidential as McMullen insists on just the facts even as she possesses Not One Clue to what is going on.

The Covenant of Genesis
Andy McDermott
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780553592962, $7.99,

Following the dangerous escapades of their search for The Secret of Excalibur, archeologists Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase are engaged. However, though they should be euphoric, Nina is despondent. She made a major discovery that would have changed our knowledge of history only to be attacked with her crew murdered and the artifact lost. Heartbroken, she also is suspended from her position at the U.N.'s International Heritage Agency while a rival was named director.

At the same time that the Covenant of Genesis wants a certain artifact destroyed, Eddie travels to Guantanamo Bay to pick up the remains of his late former wife Sophia, who was incarcerated there following The Tomb of Hercules adventures. In spite of their troubles compounded by President Dalton, they find clues to a discovery of biblical magnitude. So once again throwing caution to the wind and eluding assassins, Eddie and Nina begin their latest quest.

As always over the top but entertaining fun as the lead couple seek a special artifact while being chased by the title goons. Fast-paced even when Nina is under investigation for her activity and Eddie is in Gitmo, fans will relish the run through the Outback, the U.N., and a seeming zillion points in between as killers chase the wild pair around the globe.

The Time Weaver
Shana Abe
9780553806861, $23.00

In 1782 Drakon clan member Honor Carlisle cannot explain why she has always felt like an outsider. That is until the letter arrives that explains all to her. The sender is Honor and the receiver is also Honor. Eleven months four days into the future Honor Carlisle sent back the explanatory note that claims she is a Time Weaver, the only one born to the Drakon.

The letter warns her to leave her home Darkfirth or die. Heeding the advice of her future self, she flees to Spain and begins to practice time weaving that enables her to move into the past and future with strict rules of physics that her uncanny ability cannot break. However, she is attracted to a Drakon from a rival sect Prince Alexandru of Zaharen. They are soulmates, but destiny proclaims their love deadly to the Drakon; in 1782 she is trying to save h er dragon shifting people while in the future she is destroying her dragon shifting people.

The latest Drakon romantic fantasy (see Queen of Dragons and The Treasure Keeper) is a super thriller with a brilliant refreshing time travel twist of having the same person as heroine and villainess. Honor is terrific in the dual roles as she comes across as real in both eras. Although the climax feels off kilter for this deep character driven entry (read to understand why), Shana Abe provides her audience with a great novel.

Dog Blood
David Moody
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312532888, $23.95,

The world as we know it no longer exists. The human race is divided into two distinct camps: the Unchanged and the Haters. The latter are people ripped of all social restraints and must kill the Unchanged. Their goal is an Unchanged genocide. The Haters have caused governments to collapse destroying the infrastructure of every nation. They still can think but obsess over killing the Unchanged even family members.

Danny McCoyne is a Hater who hunts the Unchanged without mercy. His goal is to find his daughter Ellis who was taken away from him when he was knocked unconscious after killing his father-in-law. Before he passed out, he saw her and knows she is just like him. The government has relocated the Unchanged inside cities filled with traps like a medieval fortress. Danny falls in with a group that seeks the same destruction as he does. He learns to control his homicidal impulses so he can enter the city because his Ellis is there.

This intelligent apocalyptic chiller is a fantastic horror tale that continues the escapades of the Haters, who are a zombie like humanoids. The species cannot control their basic impulse to slaughter the Unchanged though Danny tries as his love for Ellis supersedes his instinct to kill. Though lacking the cautionary theme of its predecessor, but with the same moody dark atmosphere and a strange flicker of paternal love and hope, Dog Blood is a terrific zombie thriller that affirms David Moody as a strong talent.

Give + Take
Stona Fitch
9780312599874, $22.99

Jazz pianist Ross Clifton travels from gig to gig where he picks up wealthy women attending his performance. He actually makes a much better living robbing diamonds from his affluent tryst partners.

However Ross' perfect life begins to tank when asked to watch his sixteen year old nephew Cray. Ross cannot stand his brother's son. However, when Cray catches his felonious uncle thieving, he raises the stakes at a time the pianist visits his dying father and falls in love with thieving singer Marianne London. Now his nephew's actions compounded by his girlfriend's past threaten Clifton in ways he could not imagine.

Give + Take is a wild romantic family noir held together by the felonies that take on a life of their own. The cast is strong, especially the lead trio, but so is the ensemble in pursuit of them in a fast-paced with plenty of action stealing scenes. Readers will enjoy this zany thriller in which the "good" guys' motto is a family that thieves together belongs together as the once finely tuned but now off key antihero pianist must wonder if either his girl or his nephew are the "Backstabbers".

The Devil Amongst the Lawyers
Sharyn McCrumb
9780312558161, $24.95

In 1935, the country remains in the Great depression, but to schoolteacher Erma Morton the economy is the least of her worries. The Pound, Virginia police arrested her for the murder of her father; her mom was also taken in by the cops, but let go as they decide to prosecute Erma only. The national papers send reporters and photographers to cover the story while from Tennessee comes the Johnson City Sleuth teenage reporter Carl Jenkins.

The big shot journalists make it seem as if the townsfolk were against Erma because she is pretty, charming and educated. They write their reports so it reads the way they believe the public (and Mr. Hearst who has cut a deal with the brother of the accused) would want to picture the case. Carl knows he cannot compete in their league so he sends for his twelve years old cousin Nora Bonesteel, who has the "sight", to see if she can give him the true story.

Based on a true media feeding frenzy, this is a timely super historical mystery in which the reporting supersedes the case. Sharyn McCrumb makes a case that nothing really has changed except the medium used by the journalists who still slant and cherry pick what they report; in this trial of the beautiful attractive heroine who is persecuted by the ignorant locals. Carl lacks confidence and experience so he depends on Nora in her youngest appearance (see The Songcatcher and Ghost Riders). Readers will enjoy this early insightful Ballad.

Marlena de Blasi
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780345507341, $25.00,

In 1931 in Krakow, Poland, an unmarried aristocrat gives birth to a female. To protect her foolish unwed daughter, her mother the Countess lies by telling the new mom that the baby died. The grandmother sends her newborn illegitimate granddaughter to a convent in Montpellier, France run by Abbess Mother Paul and raised by a governess Solange Jouffroi, who names the infant Amandine Gilberte Noiret de Crecy.

Mother Paul detests Amandine while the other sisters are wary of her; only Solange loves her ward. Over the years Amandine wonders why her mom and grandma abandoned her and why the abbess overtly displays her loathing. When scarlet fever ravages the convent, Solange takes Amandine with her to stay with her family as the Nazis blitzkrieg of France turns the two day journey by train into a dangerous odyssey.

This is a wonderful historical tale with a nod to Maslow's Hierarchy; as once the basic biological needs are met, Amandine seeks self actualization by wondering where she belongs. Except for Solange whom she loves as her mom, she fears something is wrong with her for so many to abandon her or loathe her. That sense of identity lost before it is even set make for a strong thriller further anchored in time and place during an era of Nazi atrocities as war engulfs Europe.

The Passage
Justin Cronin
9780345504968, $27.00

Another major hurricane has turned New Orleans and the surrounding gulf into a dead zone. The war on terrorism is failing as the enemy recruits faster than the Americans and their puppeteers can kill them. Other futile fronts leave the only superpower teetering.

In the Amazon rainforest, a miracle has been found; a viral that can turn a good soldier into a Captain America super soldier. Those selected as guinea pigs fail to become Captain America; instead the scientists ignored the side effect of them becoming blood sucking super killers. FEMA declares an emergency and begins warehousing people inside safety zones. America and the world need a superhero before human extinction occurs. In that mode arises thirteen years old shy Amy Harper Bellafonte living in a nunnery. She is mankind's only hope as places like The Colony find their technological defenses failing with the super monsters chomping outside the gates.

Jumping into the Stoker side of vampire tales, The Passage is a terrific horror thriller that paints a grim futuristic atmosphere. Humans survive behind electronic barriers while the man-made super monsters own the streets. That grim picture controls much of the exciting story line with a neat spin of the heroic John Wayne type being a reticent young teenage "Joan Wayne". Providing a cautionary underlying theme with a nod to Pogo's "we have met the enemy and they are us", Justin Cronin paints a gloomy viral red future; yet with a slight optimism as the Zager and Evans song In the Year 2525 says: "now man's reign is through but through eternal night, the twinkling of starlight ."

Fault Line
Barry Eisler
9780345505095, $7.99

The inventor of Obsidian encryption security software Richard Hilzoy is euphoric that he is on his way to the top of Silicon Valley as he heads over to see his attorney Alex Treven. That is his last thought as someone fires a bullet into his brain. Alex had arranged financing and worked with the Patent Office as he understood what Richard created. When Alex learns Richard and the Patent Office analyst were murdered, he did not need his PH.D in computer science to conclude he is near the top if not next on a methodical hit list related to knowledge of Obsidian.

Alex needs help so he calls his estranged brother Ben, an undercover field agent. He quickly rushes to San Francisco where Alex explains the other knowledgeable person is Iranian-American law associate Sarah Hosseini. As the siblings continue their bickering started when tragedy struck their family as teens, but now with Sarah in the middle, they are in danger from unknown adversaries who want Obsidian under th eir control.

Over the top of Nob Hill and Stanford, Fault Line is an action-packed cyberthriller that grips the reader with the opening it and never slows down as the battling brothers better band together if they are to survive. Both are attracted to Sarah, but Ben distrusts her as he believes she is the enemy leak. Although It Never Rains in California, the siblings know it p ours.

Blood Born
Linda Howard and Linda Jones
9780345520760, $7.99

In Los Angeles Chloe Fallon keeps having an odd dream in which a warrior from somewhere not of this earth apparently seeks her out. What she is unaware of is her recurring dream is a real contact from another dimension as she is a conduit channel able to bring the warrior of her blood to Earth.

Vampire Council warrior Luca Ambrus is the rarest of his species being the offspring of two vampires, which gives him the unique skill that no human and few vampires remember him. His friend Hector warns him that a rogue vampire is killing conduits and a council member is assassinated; so he has been transmitting to Chloe in her dreams. When he saves her life, he is stunned because she not just remembers him she knows he is the star of her dreams. As he keeps her safe and they fall in love, Luca discovers an insidious plot to overthrown the Council and to use humans as expendable food.

Blood Born is an exciting romantic urban fantasy starring two strong lead characters and a deep support cast who not only enhance the story line, but in several cases look like they could lead to future paranormal romantic thrillers. Although dreams as a first meeting conduit has been used before, the sub-genre audience will enjoy biting into the two Linda's fast-paced tale.

Romancing Miss Bronte
Juliet Gael
9780345520043, $25.00

With the death of his wife, the Haworth, Yorkshire Vicar Bronte cannot deal with all his children. In 1824 the widower sends his four oldest daughters (Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte and Emily) to a charity boarding school; he kept behind his son Branwell to tutor and youngest daughter Anne. At the school the sisters were abused until Maria and Elizabeth caught consumption and were sent home to die. Bronte brought home his other daughters immediately. Charlotte and Emily went to Brussels to study; while there Charlotte falls in love with her married professor before returning back to Yorkshire.

The three sisters begin to write under pseudonyms (Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell) to pay the bills of the two males in the family. Wuthering Heights, Agnes Grey, and Jane Eyre are highly popular. However within a year of writing success, Charlotte's three siblings die from consumption leaving her alone to deal with their despondent father. While his curate Arthur falls in love with her, the thirtyish spinster becomes the toast of the Ton as she has been identified as the author of Jane Eyre, but love eludes her in London where she falls for her publisher George Smith until she realizes that and her attraction to the professor were youthful infatuations; she begins to turn to Arthur who begins Romancing Miss Bronte.

Obviously targeting fans of the Bronte sisters, this is an interesting biographical fiction tale. The Bronte family comes across as individuals with some interesting connections to the novels they wrote; for instance the professor is the role model for Rochester and Charlotte's discomfort with fame becomes the basis of the novel Shirley and The Professor published after her death. Sub-genre readers will enjoy the tragic lives of the Bronte siblings that takes the readers beyond the myth of a brood doomed to romantic misfortune.

The Devil's Company
David Liss
9780812974522, $15.00

In 1722 London, wealthy Jerome Cobb hires thief-taker Benjamin Weaver to investigate the death of Absalom Pepper though not explaining why. The more Benjamin digs the less he finds on the victim. However, others do not appreciate his inquiry and tell him so; some with Benjamin's fists in their faces.

Benjamin learns of his client's enemy list and begins to wonder if Cobb is a bit crazy. Meanwhile as his uncle Miguel Lienzo complains about a lost shipment from the continent, Benjamin finds himself looking closely into the books of the influential East India Company and facing a big loss with the Cobb contract, Weaver soon learns that commercial espionage is everywhere and politicians are for sale as once again the thief-taker finds himself in the center of A Spectacle of Corruption; the pre-industrial -political-aristocratic complex does what it wants.

Loaded with plenty of detail yet filled with action, readers obtain a powerful look at finance in early eighteenth century style that parallels what has happened in the last few years. Ironically the East India Company is too big to fail yet in trouble die to corruption, bad deals, and selling of secrets in the "global economy" to rivals. The Devil's Company is a superb complicated but timely economics historical thriller.

Last Chance
Christy Reece
9780345517746, $7.99

Former British special ops field agent billionaire Lucas Kane is in Rio on business when he becomes ill from food poisoning. When he is abducted from his hotel room, he knows the food was deliberately tainted. The mysterious beautiful female "Ghost" rescues Lucas.

For six months he has failed to find his Ghost as he needs to personally thank his savior but she vanished without a trace. He turns to Last Chance Rescue to find his Ghost. McKenna "Ghost" Sloan is well aware of Lucas' search and has done some missions for Noah McCall at LCR, but does not work for him or his firm. She fears for the life of anyone who gets close to her as a psychopath stalks her, but Lucas' determination and a woman in peril from an abduction forces the Ghost to confront her fears.

The latest Last Chance Rescue romantic suspense is an exhilarating thriller starring an intriguing determined lead male and a fascinating enigmatic heroine who saved his butt and by doing so won his heart though ironically neither are employees of LCR. Action-packed from the first moment the pair meets, fans of the saga will relish Last Chance as a rescue serves as the introduction and another chance rescue brings them back together.

It's a Crime
Jacqueline Carey
9780345459930, $15.00

LinkAge Telecom accountant Frank Foy is convicted of fraud and sent to prison. His wife Pat, a landscape designer, rejects his guilt; insisting a simple mistake occurred. Obsessed while living with their teenage daughter Ruby, Pat decides to prove her spouse's innocence based on his explanation that fixing the numbers is standard acceptable accounting practice in the United States. She plans to make remittance to the victims.

Her efforts prove overwhelmingly futile but lead her to former best friend Ginny Howley and her first lover Lemuel Samuel. They offer to help her; although both mystery writers are victims of the firm's collapse. Along with his teenage son and Ruby, they try to persuade Pat that Frank is guilty and deserves jail time for all the people he hurt.

Echoes of Enron and Arthur Anderson run throughout this unusual character driven tale of five people impacted by the fraud. The cast is solid although the changing perspectives can prove overwhelming and subtract from the morality tale of minimally correcting wrongs. Still this is an interesting look at the business of business in the Bush Era in which the White House and Congress are located on Wall St.

Lisa Bergren
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9781434767073, $14.99,

After leaving her sister Odessa and new brother-in-law Bryce to Breathe together, in 1886 Moira St. Clair is stunned to learn her manager Max Foster has been embezzling her funds. She is near broke and Paris is not a cheap city for an American singer to live in. Heartbroken and distrustful, Moira heads home to Colorado while two men display interest in her on her journey.

Back in Colorado, Odessa and Bryce struggle to make a success of their horse ranch. However, the fierce winter is taken its toll on their livestock with many of their horses dying.

The third St. Clair sibling Dominic is known for his fierce brawling. With one sister married and the other in France singing, he goes to fulfill his dream of seeing the world, but instead has been taken captive on a ship with little hope of escape.

The second Homeward Trilogy (see Breathe) is a superb historical tale that continues to follow the adventures of the three St Clair siblings who have gone their separate ways after traveling together to Colorado due to Odessa's consumption. The story line contains three obvious subplots with eventually the sister's tales intertwining. Although lacking the intensity of Breathe, Sing is a strong late nineteenth century tale as each sibling's saga is exhilarating while bringing alive the era.

Between Two Kingdoms
Joe Boyd
Standard Publishing
8805 Governor's Hill Drive, Suite 400, Cincinnati, OH 45249
9780784723586, $9.99

At one time there was only a single kingdom ruled wisely by a Great King and assisted by his Son, the Good Prince. However, one of the Great King's servants Sinkrad rebelled. This led to a schism between those children who remained loyal to the Great King and those who joined the side of Sinkrad. The one kingdom split into two with the Great King ruling the upper and Sinkrad the lower.

The Good Prince sends emissaries to the people of the Lower Kingdom hoping they will come to live in the Upper Kingdom. Anyone who does reverts into an eternal seven years old child living a carefree joyful life. Although he offers a shadowy mirror of the Upper Kingdom, Sinkrad recruits some children away with the temptation of a f ree life. The Good Prince sends Tommy on a quest below, but he is taken prisoner. Refusing to cede even one loyal child, the Good Prince mounts a rescue mission into the Lower Kingdom.

This is a fascinating parable that takes a deep look at what is faith in the Lord as Tommy performs his mission but temptation is everywhere he goes. Readers who relish an interesting Christian saga with a timely message to the doubting Thomas and Thomasina as well as encouragement to the faithful will especially want to read this allegory. However, the measure of how well it is written is that the non-believers will relish Tommy's saga in the Lower Kingdom on a holy mission.

Grayling The Prophecy
D.B. Wright
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781425785574, $19.98

For over a decade Malora remains a prisoner of Beagen inside his stronghold Daggar's Pointe in Bakaw, Metar. He demands she support his evil scheme concerning seven kingdoms under his malevolent rule. However though he tortures her constantly, she refuses to break. She finally manages to escape, but is injured by a soldier hitting her with an arrow.

Pickard the thief finds her and though he should ignore her as he knows she will be trouble, something compels him to take the unconscious female to safety. His premonition proves right as Beagen's wizards and apprentices give chase. She proves powerful, but out of control becoming dangerous to herself and others while he finally desperately leaps with her to his home in Te-Mok. There he hopes he can find answers to who she is and get her to safety before the Council interrogates and stops him from returning to his quest to find Greyling of the Great Prophecy as he is the Protector of the Magician who will either destroy the world or unite the nations as they were once before until treachery split them apart.

Grayling is an exciting quest fantasy that grips the audience from the onset with a need to know why Beagen magically tortures his female prisoner and maintains that hold on the reader throughout. Besides the obvious lead duet being fully developed with character flaws, the key support cast is also strong as they enhance either understanding the motives of the prime pair or the Prophecy. With several solid middle twists to augment an entertaining saga, sub-genre readers will appreciate the adventures of Malora and Pickard in a land divided.

The Invisible Bridge
Julie Orringer
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9781400041169, $24.95,

In 1937 Hungarian-Jew Andras Levi leaves his home town to attend architectural school on a scholarship to the Ecole Speciale d'Architecture in Paris. He also carries a letter from Hungary to ballet teacher Claire Morgenstern, a decade older than the newcomer. At the same he arrives in Paris, his older brother studies medicine in Modena and his younger brother drops out of school to perform on the stage.

As Andras' second summer in Paris ends, the Nazis begin turning the continent into a war zone; however his thoughts are on the older woman he loves and his fears for the safety of his family especially his brothers. He knows back in Hungary the cautious government holds up its agreement with Hitler by moving th e Jews into hard labor camps. However Hitler wants more and the Hungarians comply.

This is a deep historical that focuses on the question whether love can thrive during horrific inhumane times like the Holocaust. Character driven, by the siblings and Claire, readers will feel for the lead players as each struggles to understand why the Nazi Final Solution is needed and why the collaborators who in many instances did not have even a life threatening reason to turn in an neighbor they knew and befriended for years. This is not an easy read as Julie Orringer paints a grim landscape filled with atrocities, but sadly as the author notes there are even darker true tales than that of The Invisible Bridge of inhumanity's genocides.

The Frenzy Way
Gregory Lamberson
Medallion Press, Inc.
1020 Cedar Lane, No. 2N, St. Charles, IL 60174
9781605421070, $15.95,

Captain Anthony Mace is awakened at 4:40 AM and asked to go to a crime scene by one of his subordinates. When he arrives, he sees a room washed in blood, a body torn to shreds and partially eaten with the head missing. On the wall painted in blood is the word Skinwalker, an Indian term for a werewolf. Claw marks are on the victim's safe and inside is a sword with a broken blade.

It is called the Blade of Salvation and was used by the Inquisition to kill so called werewolves because it is made of silver. On the hilt is an Inquisitor holding the sword with a decapitated victim nearby. Several more deaths occur all by the same perpetrator sending Manhattan into a panic. When one of Mace's officers who invited the perp in her car is killed Mace's mind rejects what his eyes see until he witnesses the predator kill another victim. He can no longer ignore the truth, but when he tells his superiors, they reject his belief; instead they suspend Mace and insist he undergo a psycho evaluation. With Mace out of the picture, the killing spree goes unabated.

The key to Gregory Lamberson's terrific police procedural horror novel is that he makes his Manhattan seem genuine even with a supernatural species hiding in the shadows, as the older audience will be reminded of the panic during the Son of Sam serial killings. The Skinwalkers fear that if their clandestine existence becomes known to humans, genocide as occurred in Europe will happen here. With a strong culture to enhance the existence of the otherworldly race and a serial killer stalking and exterminating them, fans will relish a read down the wild side of The Frenzy Way.

A Knight's Persuasion
Catherine Kean
Medallion Press, Inc.
1020 Cedar Lane, No. 2N, St. Charles, IL 60174
9781605420967, $7.95,

In 1213 his father, the legendary Moydenshire's Lord Geoffrey de Lanceau, sends Edouard on a mission, but the lad stops when he sees a badly wounded woman whom he recognizes lying in a river. Edouard fell in love with Lady Juliana de Greyne and wanted to marry her, but made a foolish wager involving a kiss that ended their relationship when he mistook her sly sister for her. He pulls the woman he still loves to safety and takes her with him so he can drop her off in a safe place.

When they reach his destination, his father's enemies wait for him and quickly incarcerate the two travelers in the castle tower. Juliana suffers partial amnesia unable to recall recent events while Edouard plots for them to escape so he can complete his sire's quest and insure his beloved is safe while also uncovering who wants her dead and why.

The exciting latest Knight's medieval romance (see A Knight's Temptation and A Knight's Reward) is another great "Kean" historical tale. The story line hooks the audience with the opening wager that costs the hero more than just a bet and continues to grip readers as Edouard champions his beloved keeping her safe from an insidious killer while also doing his father's mission and hoping to persuade her they belong together. Although amnesia has been used a lot in romance, this early thirteenth century tale is filled with action and a strong cast (trademarks of Catherine Kean); as such fans will feel transported to the early thirteenth century accompanying the lead couple on their dangerous trek.

Michael R. Stevens
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G, Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781933515779, $25.95,

Bored computer science major at Stanford University Jason Lind loves playing the online game Fortuna, based on Renaissance Florence economics. However, his role playing character Father Allesandro da Scala begins to take over more of Jason's time than his real life. He soon falls into heavy debt due to his character, but remains addicted to playing the game even as he is aware of what he is doing as the Renaissance Father

Broke he leaves Stanford to work for his Uncle Frank at Global Packet Control (GPC); the same firm his dad worked at before he died in a car accident almost a decade ago. At GPC, Jason uncovers questionable probably illegal deals and underhanded practices that leave him wondering what to do, but he thinks Father da Scala would know how to proceed.

Though the premise feels over the top of Mount Whitney, this is an intriguing blending of on-line role playing and global economics, as Michael R. Stevens argues that both consist of players starring in roles other than themselves. Except for a romantic subplot that feels forced and required, readers will find the saga of Jason-Father Allesandro fascinating.

A Secret Affair
Mary Balogh
Delacorte Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780385343305, $24.00,

The Ton has a low opinion of Duchess Hannah Reid. The widow married a man much older than her when she was a teen so everyone assumed she wed him for his money. Surprisingly during their decade together she adored her septuagenarian spouse, but no one would believe that. In fact the other assumption made about the duchess is that all her escorts are her paramours. She has no friends except Miss Barbara "Babs" Leavensworth as everyone else gives her the cold shoulder ever since her spouse died. One year has passed since the Duke's death and Hannah went into mourning. Now she wi ll heed the advice of her mentor, her late husband, to do what she wants as an affluent widow she can do anything she desires.

Hannah decides to have a lover; contrary to belief her first. She selects Mister Constantine "Con" Huxtable, who every season picks a new mistress. He would never have considered Hannah, but she gives him no choice. As they become lovers, they also become friends and perhaps much more.

The last Huxtable family Regency romance (see At Last Comes Love and Then Comes Seduction) is an intriguing affair due to the initially unlikable lead female protagonist who comes across as a frozen tundra until her anointed lover melts the ice surrounding her heart. The story line uses flashes into Hannah's past that reveal how she became the icy duchess. Readers will empathize with her, but wonder what happened to Con who never really comes alive as the lead. Still fans will enjoy the final Huxtable historical with the rest of the extended family making appearances.

Karin Slaughter
9780385341974, $26.00

Four years ago, in Heartsdale, Grant County's popular police chief Tolliver was murdered; the case remains unsolved. His widow Dr. Sara Linton was the county coroner and ran a children's clinic, but left after her spouse died. She is back in town visiting her family on Thanksgiving yet is still thirsting for her husband's homicide to be resolved although she is positive that Officer Lena Adams is at the center of her husband's homicide.

At the same time, Special Agent Will Trent is also in Grant County to investigate a questionable death oif a prisoner. Not surprising, he finds the local police officers circling the wagons protecting each other form the intruder. Will concludes that Police Officer Lena Adams is concealing something, but is not sure what or why. As he struggles with the uncooperative cops, he is taken aback when Dr. Linton asks him to look into her husband's murder, a cold case. Trent is being pulled by two women in opposite directions of the Blue Line that keeps him outside in spite of being law enforcement too.

This is an intriguing Grant County thriller (see Faithless, Undone and Blindsided) as Will instead of Sara holds the story line together with two females yanking him in opposite directions. The insightful look at the learning disorder agraphia augments the taut tale as it showcases how an individual learns to conceal a problem with some form of over compensation. In a starring role, Will brings freshness to the plot as he investigates two deaths that cast the Grants County Police Office in a shroud of darkness.

City of Fear
David Hewson
9780385341509, $25.00

At the same tourists are flocking to Rome for the summer, the G8 summit meeting is beginning. Security is tight yet an assault on a government vehicle leads to the killing of one occupant and abduction of Ministry of Interior official Giovanni Batisti.

The country is in shock while the world is as stunned. Detective Nic Costa and his Questura team drop everything to investigate. However, they are quickly removed from the inquiry and placed on protective service duty insuring the G-8 participants remain safe. When they attempt to conduct any investigation, the Ministry of Interior's security chief and a powerful prime minister interfere. Meanwhile Italy's President Sordi directs Costa to look into the Blue Demon terrorist group that demands a return to the ancient Etruscan society; to achieve this they kill government officials. Costa does not need to be an experienced law enforcement official to know nothing is quite right, but how to proceed when everyone seems to be watching is elusive.

This is a great Italian police procedural thriller that showcases how much interference government officials can do to harm or prevent an investigation especially during a major international event that is used to further fog the scenario. Fast-paced and loaded with terrific plausible twists and spins, sub-genre readers will appreciate Costa's latest case as he and his Questura squad struggled with leadership preventing them from doing their job.

Procession of the Dead
Darren Shan
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446551755, $19.99,

Capac Raimi arrives in the City seeking his Uncle Theo. He wants his relative to teach him how to be the leader of a gang. Theo welcomes mentoring his nephew but before they can start with gangster 101, the city's top criminal gang lord The Cardinal kills Theo and his thugs.

The Cardinal finds Capac fascinating as the youngster shows a genuine desire to learn the trade. The lad joins the Cardinal's mob squad, selling insurance to people who know better than to say no. However, shortly after signing on board, Capac begins to wonder about his life before he entered the city as he has no memory of it. Stranger is those people he met have vanished and become nonentities as if they never existed. He fears he will be one soon too even as Capac ponders about blind wizards inside their green fog and the black-clad puppets collected by the Cardinal. The apprentice criminal begins to understand one thing that the Cardinal does not just own the City, he is the twin of the City like two cheeks making up the same butt; and punks like Capac are expendable youths.

This is a dark look at a City mindful of early Spiderman during the Kingpin days but much grimmer. Fascinatingly the Cardinal has become a legend of almost deity heights with his control of the City to include the disappearances of sundry people who don't just vanish from sight; they also evaporate from the mind like an Etchosketch. Capac's naivety is a wonderful counter to the Cardinal as he begins to comprehend the influence he has given to his mentor due to his out of control ambition. Procession of the Dead is a deep dark character driven thriller as the audience along with Capac ponder what price to ask for one's soul?

Stay A Little Longer
Dorothy Garlock
Grand Central
9780446540193, $24.99

In 1918 in Carlson, Minnesota, Alice Tucker gives birth to Charlotte with her sister Rachel Watkins as her midwife. Soon afterward Alice dies. Rachel knew she really died when her spouse Mason was killed in WWI; she loathes the dead man for deserting his wife.

By 1926, Rachel is bone tired as the town's midwife, running her family's boardinghouse, caring for her drunk uncle and shell-shocked mom, and most important raising her niece, Charlotte. In a remote dilapidated cabin resides a scarred male. When Charlotte meets the sick man, she wants to help him. She persuades her Aunt Rachel to nurture him back to health. As he heals, he works as a handyman making repairs to the boardinghouse. Rachel and her grateful employee become friends as each appreciate the serenity the other brings. However, Mason's affluent unscrupulous brother Zachary the banker covets the Watkins' property and causes problems and ultimately a tragedy with his machinations, but also leads Rachel and the stranger to understand their relationship especially after the truth surfaces.

With a great late twist, Stay a Little Longer is an emotional profound Americana tale that focuses on the aftermath of WWI several years after the Armistice in a small town in Minnesota. The strong ensemble cast brings to life the era while Rachel holds the deep story line together. A lthough Zachary feels somewhat like a caricature of an avaricious banker (no oxymoron asides) such as an obese Snidely Whiplash, fans will relish this terrific historical.

Scott Turow
Grand Central
9780446562423, $27.99

Over two decades ago then attorney Rusty Sabich was tried for murder, but though never proven either way was exonerated because the legal system Presumed Innocence. He has since become a Kindle County, Illinois chief appellate judge.

When his mentally shaky wife Barbara dies in bed from apparent natural causes, his prosecuting attorney adversary back when he stood trial and now acting as chief prosecuting attorney Tommy Molto believes he has the SOB this time and goes after him with a vengeance. He encourages his chief deputy, Jim Brand, to go after the sexagenarian judge. Brand is already suspicious of Sabich because Rusty chose to conceal his overly medicated spouse's death from everyone including their legal scholar emotionally unstable son Nat, for nearly twenty-four hours; enough time for poison to vanish. Rusty has other complicating issues re his election to a higher court, an ethics charge, and his affair with his law clerk Anna Vostic

This entertaining sequel once again explores what is truth and justice as each is relative terms dependent on the mind of the beholder. The story line looks deeps into what motivates Molto and Sabich who interpret the same incident 180 degrees apart. In many ways a psychological thriller rather than just a legal courtroom drama, readers will relish the return engagement as the lead pair are yin and yang burdened with six decades of baggage; as no one is purely Innocent.

Silent Scream
Karen Rose
Grand Central
9780446538367, $7.99

Seven months ago Detective Olivia Sutherland worked "the Red Dress Killer" murder case including extracting body parts (see I Can See You). Like others who worked the gruesome serial killer investigation, she has seen the department psychologist, but that has not helped her with the nightmares and she assumes others suffer from the PTSD too.

One night Olivia and her partner Kane arrive at an arson scene where the remains of a young girl have been found. The two cops seek to determine whether she was part of the arsonist ring or an innocent victim. However also involved is firefighter David Hunter whom she met at her half-sister's wedding; they shared the night of a lifetime thirty months ago, but resided in different cities. Now he has relocated while someone is blackmailing those environmentalists who set the inferno that left a girl dead. Failure to pay means death too.

This is an exciting tense police procedural that hooks the audience with the PTSD aftermath from the Red Dress killer horrific case and never slows down even for the reunion between Sutherland and Hunter. Fast-paced throughout yet readers will feel Olivia's anguish and determination. However, the key to this terrific investigative tale is solving the case as the killers are in plain sight yet almost impossible to pick them out from a myriad of potential suspects.

Naamah's Curse
Jacqueline Carey
Grand Central
9780446198059, $26.99

Follower of the Sex Goddess Naamah, Moirin leaves her homeland traveling across Tatar in search of Bao the Chin warrior she met and loved (see Naamah's Kiss). He possesses half of her diadh-anam divine soul-spark. When she finds her soulmate following her treacherous trek, she learns to her chagrin he is married.

However, he is not just wed to anyone; his jealous wife is the daughter of the Great Khan. She wants the outsider as far away from her spouse so her father arranges to keep Moirin and his son-in-law apart. The Patriarch of Riva captures Moirin, but she escapes. However by the time she frees herself, Bao is gone on another quest; this time to the realm of the Spider Queen and her army of assassins.

The middle tale in the Naamah fantasy series is a terrific entry that surprisingly has major subplots ended, but leaves plenty for the finish. Moirin is a terrific lead protagonist as she is like a cocky great boxer who knows her superior talent will win all her fights; her ego has grown immensely because of her awareness of her destiny. Fast-paced, readers will fully appreciate the twists as Naamah's Curse is a strong tale in the Kushiel Legacy saga.

The Exodus Quest
Will Adams
Grand Central
9780446563208, $24.99

In Alexandria, Egypt Archeologist Daniel Knox walks in a local market place when he notices what appears to be an ancient earthenware bowl. The teenage vendor insists the artifact was given to him by his friend Daniel Knox and once belonged to Alexander the Great. He is amused by the hawker as everyone claims to be his buddy since The Alexander Cipher case. The lad sets prices based on pure supply and demand of how much he perceives the customer can afford, but refuses to reveal where it was found.

Knox visits his friend Omar Tawfiq who lets him browse through his database. He finds a picture of it, but Omar explains it is not a bowl from Ancient Egypt; instead it is a storage jar lid from Qumran, home of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Soon that lead takes the excited Knox to a dig led by Reverend Ernest Peterson and his team of theological students who seek a portrait of Christ that Peterson plans to keep. As a murder of a native archeologist occurs, corrupt cops blame Knox while the beleaguered Egyptologist learns in horror from his cell that his partner Gaille Bonnard was abducted near the ruins of Amarna, several hundred miles away.

With a strong ancient historical base, the latest Knox antiquities thriller is a fast-paced over the top of the Sphinx entertaining tale. Readers will enjoy the hero's hyperactive adventures in which he is a guest of the state, but needs to be in three other places at the same time. First he must rescue himself by proving his innocence, which is difficult to do when you're in a cell; so that he can second rescue Gaille; and third rescue the artifacts being devastated unmercifully by the Reverend. No caffeine for Knox.

Jean Hanff Korelitz
Grand Central
9780446540711, $14.99

As she nears forty, Portia Nathan is pleased with how well opening the diversity doors to Princeton University as its admissions officer has occurred. She wishes her personal life was anywhere near as good as she and her mom are at best estranged with one another; she conceals something critical from her spouse professor David, and h er lover the English Department Chair left her to move in with his pregnant girlfriend.

On a recruiting trip in New England, Portia meets John, a teacher at the ultra-alternative Quest School. They fall into lust while she also likes what she see s of the students especially Jeremiah, whom she hopes to bring to Princeton. John stuns her when he says they met years ago when he attended Dartmouth, a period she prefers to forget as she was single and pregnant with a decision to make.

This is an interesting glimpse at the admissions process at an elite Ivy League school. The story line is totally driven by the only fully developed character Portia with everyone else playing a stereotypical role in support of her; enabling the audience to see deeply into what makes her tick. Although her asides on admissions, relationships, and assorted sundry turn at times to loquacious, fans will enjoy the discerning look at the admissions merchant of Princeton.

C.J. Cherryh
DAW Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756406011, $25.95,

The atevi civil war is over; at least the overt hostilities that is. The Western Association ruler Tabini-aiji has won a shaky victory, but the prime enemy plotter still remains free; as Machigi chieftain of Taisigi clan has powerful followers in clandestine locations especially inside the capital.

While Tabini tightens his control, his human friend and loyal supporter Bren Cameron, who stayed in space for two years, returns planet side, but stays far away from the capital so the xenophobic enemy cannot use him as an alien immigrant. Instead he remains on his estate in Najida where hiding in his basement is Baiji nephew of the Maschi clan chief. He hides from Machigi who was arranging a political marriage of convenience with fifteen year old Tiajo of his clan; once married Machigi was going to have Baiji killed so Tiajo's relatives can run the strategic lands on the west coast. Although staying away from the capital, danger arrives in Najida when Tabini's son Cajeri sneaks way from his secret service protectors to Bren's estate; followed by his Great-grandmother; and soon afterward assassins.

The exciting second tale in the fourth trilogy arc of the Foreigner Universe is a strong entry that fans will appreciate. The underhanded conspiracies and alliances started in Conspirator (should read first so as to avoid being lost in space) continue to thrive. The atevi-human relationships are fascinating to observe especially through Bren's assessment; he realizes he is a PR nightmare for Tabini, but hiding in space and then on the Najida estate fail to abate the albatross he feels around his neck because he is too loyal a friend. Readers will enjoy the return to the wonderful world of C.J. Cherryh as the overt war may be over, but the covert hostilities remain only the audience will mostly be away from th e capital.

Who Fears Death
Nnedi Okorafor
9780756406172, $24.95

The world may have been shattered by a nuclear holocaust, but mankind continues to fight one another; just on a smaller scale. In post-nuclear Sahara, genocide is the norm as the followers of the Great Book ethnically cleanse the region. Thus the Nuru believing God is on their side, hunt and eradicate the Okeke. In one village, the lone survivor is raped by the exterminators. She escapes into the desert eventually giving birth to a girl who the mom knows is unique. Using an ancient forgotten African language she names her offspring (from the brutal sexual assault) Onyesonwu, "Who Fears Death".

As a shaman raises Onyesonwu, the genocide continues unabated. However, new hope arises amidst the embattled Okeke that a savior has come. Onyesonwu has been learning about her magical power to end the murderous cleansing. However, she must study evil to understand evil before she can sacrifice herself in death so that the Okeke can live.

Using a futuristic fantasy base, Nnedi Okorafor provides a great but grim realistic drama that focuses on genuine problems in Africa today. Through the escapades of the heroine, the story line disturbingly examines ethnic and religious cleansing, racism, sexism, female genital mutilation and sex slavery as humanity is inhumane to each other. Who Fears Death is superb as Ms. Okorafor provides a powerful post apocalyptic thriller with strong ramifications in today's on the Eve of Destruction world.

Running Scared
Shannon K. Butcher
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10014-3658
9780451412904, $7.99,

Human Lexi Johns believes that her human friend Helen Day was brainwashed by Drake the Theronai warrior (see Burning Alive) as she knows his species is her worst nightmare. As a child Helen had it drilled into her constantly how deadly dangerous the evil Theronai are; her fears mount as she thinks Zach the Theronai warrior stalks her.

She is right about Zach although wrong about his motive. Zach knows she is his bond mate and he wants to persuade her they belong together but hesitates as he knows she loathes his kind. As he considers acceptance of his disastrous fate if he fails to make it with Lexi, they finally meet. However, he is unaware that she has joined his race's enemy the Defenders of Humanity in order to use him to destroy the Theronai encampment. Meanwhile Lexi has second thoughts about the evilness of the Theronai as Zach is kind and caring, but it may be too late to change sides after years of being brainwashed that his kind are the wicked.

The latest Sentinel War romantic urban fantasy is a superb fresh entry due to the heroine whose extremism is similar to Helen but deeper into her soul so that unlike Helen, Lexi cannot be labeled a star-crossed lover; while Zach is similar to Drake. Still the key to the saga is that the two other species (besides the humans) seem genuine and their hostilities are exciting. Yet in spite of the cross species war, the fast-paced story line belongs to the human female who puts Pink Floyd meaning to brainwashing once she meets Zach in person. Shannon K. Butcher provides a terrific suspense filled thriller.

Love in the Time of Dragons
Kate MacAlister
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10014-3658
9780451229717, $7.99,

Tully Sullivan had her annual fugue too early this year. She is fortunate that kind Londoners looked after her while she slept away a month. Still somewhat rattled, she misses her beloved son Brom, but not her husband Gareth.

Tully understands magic exists as she is an apprentice mage. However, even she is taken aback when she awakens from a fugue state surrounded by angry dragons; as everyone knows these beasts are mythical. However, her denial ends quickly when she learns they believe she is Ysolde de Boucher, the mate of the deadly black dragon Baltic. As his dragon spouse, she will be executed for his crimes against dragonkind and mankind. Tully has no time for execution as her son awaits her back in her realm. She figures step one is escape; step two is to beat the fiery snot out of her dragon mate wyvern the terrible Bal tic; and the final step return to Brom. Instead she finds herself investigating crimes and Love in the Time of the Dragons.

This first Light Dragons fantasy is an amusing lighthearted frolic held together by a female who has no memory of ever being a dragon in her past lives. Tully the terrific makes the tale fresh and exciting, as she follows her steps only to run into one fiasco after another especially once she meets Baltic the bad. Fans of Kate MacAlister's Silver Dragons will not see chocolate in the same way while appreciating the escapades of heroic Tully as she wanders the Dragon landscape she believes she has only seen in her dreams.

Line Of Fire
Jo Davis
9780451229786, $6.99

When his brother a marine died in combat, University of Alabama All American quarterback Tommy Skyler quit playing football though he had a promising pro career. Instead as homage to his late sibling he decided to become a first responder so he joined the fire department. He is assigned to work at Station Five.

Tommy is attracted to nurse Shea Ford, an older woman who rejects his forward pass attempts as she feels he is too young for her. When he is injured during a high story scaffolding rescue mission, they meet up at the hospital. She shocks him when she agrees to go out with him. She enjoys her time with Tommy and him with her. However, after suffering another on the job injury at a warehouse fire caused by an arsonist, Tommy ends their relationship upsetting Shea who has fallen in love with the younger firefighter. Depressed as his second career firefighting appears over but also missing the woman he loves, Tommy begins to believe someone wants to end his relationship with Shea and collateral deaths are acceptable

The latest Firefighters of Station Five (see Under Fire and Hidden Fire) romantic suspense is loaded with plenty of action as the heroic first responders fight fires, investigate arson, and mount rescues. The return of recurring firefighters and their loved ones add to the sense of danger as each risk their lives. The lead couple is a likable pairing, but the age issue is never delved into beyond Shea's rationale not to date Tommy. Still, fans of the Station Five saga will enjoy the exciting Line of Fire.

Bound By Darkness
Annette McCleave
9780451229762, $7.99

Soul gatherer Brian Webster is not part of heaven or hell. Filled with remorse for failing his teen sister, instead he reaps souls from the dead praying that one day he will obtain redemption and move past his purgatorial existence.

Brian is attracted to a soul gathering peer Lena Sharpe. However, he is concerned with who she seems to hang out with as her recent sponsors are demons. Still he believes her heart is good. His heart insists Lena is pure, but her actions speaks otherwise as she gives Judas coins to those who join Satan; breaking Brian's heart. As he loses faith, she needs his belief to save their souls.

This Soul Gatherer fantasy (see Drawn Into Darkness) is a superb exhilarating thriller starring two intriguing individuals who are Bound by Darkness but love begins to shine a light in their respective hearts. Fast-paced yet character driven, readers will root for this couple to make it, but don't bet the mortgage on it as she is trapped in a Faustian Deal and he must choose between saving the one he loves or many strangers; either selecting wrong condemns them for eternity.

Shadow Marked
Anna J. Evans
9780451229816, $15.00

When Samantha Quinn was six years old her parents offered her and her two siblings to demons in a satanic ritual. Sam barely survived the ordeal of being offered as a sacrifice, but went blind and obviously suffered emotional damage

Years later, Sam begins having visions of an odious demon killing people. Seeing the look of horror on the victim's faces, she tries to find a way to save their lives. At the same time, Sam falls in love with her brother Stephen's childhood friend, Jace. However, as Jace denies his feelings for Sam, she also realizes Stephen is concealing something from her that she fears may be evil and now her newest premonition depicts her beloved as the deceased.

Readers will believe there are plenty of nasty essences between heaven and earth with several planet-side in this haunting urban fantasy. Sam is terrific as she still has mental scars from the ordeal of two decades ago, but refuses to allow her neurosis from crippling her as she tries to protect Jace from a horde of demons who relish devouring humans. Her relationship with Jace makes the tale fresh with their role reversal. The sub-genre audience will feel "Demon Bound" to Anna J. Evans' strong thriller.

Seducing the Highlander
Emma Wildes
9780451229823, $14.00

"Seducing Ian". Wanting to force the hand of his enemy to drop false charges brought against a clan relative, Laird Ian McCray kidnaps the adversary's betrothed Leanna Arlington. However, he wants her and she him, but her intended will not go away gracefully.

"Seducing Robbie". Julia Cameron offers Robbie McCray a large dowry if he marries and protects her. However, as he is ready to agree, both wants much more in their relationship as each feels the heat of desire.

"Seducing Aidan". When his betrothal abruptly ended, Adain Cameron feels depressed and lost; that is until he rescues Gillian Lorin from highwaymen who accosted her on her way to her meeting her vicious betrothed. However, instead of escorting her to her intended husband, he takes her to his clan where she asks for sanctuary and he offers much more knowing the threat to his people.

These three interrelated Highlander romances are fun tales of kick butt heroes, feisty heroines, and vile villains who come together to make an entertaining historical romantic anthology.

Set Sail For Murder
R.T. Jordan
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9780758229397, $22.00,

With the economy in the tank, even former TV stars like Polly Pepper feels the pinch. Her portfolio of investments has dramatically diminished and she will do anything to keep Polly Plantation running. Polly even accepts a show biz reunion with cast mates from the Polly Pepper show on a cruise ship for the Kool Krooz line.

The only major drawback is scene stealer Laura Crawford, who remains the ultimate diva; Polly dislikes the nasty sneak. However, someone else must detest the prima Donna as she is found dead in the spa area; the murder weapon is a sharpened Season Six CD of The Polly Pepper Playhouse DVD collection. With many of those on board having motives including her, Polly fishes for clues to the murderer by eliminating one by one those she deems innocent. When she figures out who the killer is, she fears telling the authorities because they will assume she is crying wolf; her silence leads to the culprit trying to kill her.

Although Polly is in the role like other former stars who once made it but no longer gets parts, she behaves like a diva so that her name remains before the public. Yet she also has a heart of gold which is proven by the way she cared for others. Imbued with a wink and humor especially witty repartee and sexual slapstick, Set Sail For Murder is a delightful lighthearted amateur sleuth.

Dark Harvest
Anitra Lynn McLeod
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758235343, $14.00

In the Onic Empire, Sterlave the Harvester has been prepared for one year for virginal initiation until the time comes to select his bondmate; now he chooses Princess Kasmiri as his bondmate. Haughty, Kasmiri rejects Sterlave as being beneath her class. However, he ignores her denial of their attraction and soon has the virgin wanting his touch as she enjoys their sexual activity.

When her mother the Onic empress dies suddenly, Kasmiri replaces her. However, her hold on the throne is shaky as evil from without and rebellious betrayal from within threaten the new empress. Her only hope to survive resides with Sterlave, whom she kicked aside when she replaced her mother.

The second Onic Empire romantic fantasy (see Wicked Harvest to better understand the sexual hierarchy) is an interesting tale as sexual depravity is the norm with rape and torture a way of life regardless of the victim's sex. Anitra Lynn McLeod cleverly keeps much of the violent assaults off-page using the aftermath emotions to tell the molestation. Ironically Kasmiri is a bi*ch, but her haughty nastiness seems right for her lofty position in this empire although more insight into the caste system (especially the sexual) would be appreciated.

Simply Insatiable
Kate Pierce
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758241382, $14.00

Married couple, Lady Jane and Lord Blaize Minshom, has lived separate lives for seven years. She stayed at one of their country estates rusticating; he remained in London womanizing at Madame Helene's Pleasure House.

However, Lady Jane decides the time has come to regain her marriage as she misses the sexual intimacy they once shared. On the other hand, Lord Minshom wants her to leave the city so he can continue with his depraved lifestyle that includes male sexual encounters as well as other women at the House of Pleasure. When he fails to drive her away, he sends her away. However, his bed feels tundra cold without Lady Jane in it and he rages when he watches her flirt and who knows what else with men at the House of Pleasure until she decides he is pathetic and leaves. Now he follows her to the countryside to win back his wife.

This is an engaging Regency erotic romance that runs much of the gamut's several pleasures as Kate Pierce reruns her fans to Madame Helene's Pleasure House (see Simply Wicked). Jane is terrific as a brave brazen woman who wants her spouse back although the seven year itch seems questionable. Minshom has issues that drive him to destroy loving relationships. His dark side makes the tale fresh as he seems neurotic with a relationship phobia; of which two key ones are resolved too nicely with the depth of psychological traumas. Putting that aside; readers will relish Simply Instable as the author pierces the Regency subgenre veneer with a refreshing second chance tale .

Get What You Give
Stephanie Perry Moore
Kensington Dafina
9780758234469, $9.95

Like her older sister Hayden, Hailey Grant matriculates at Western Smith College. However, unlike big sister, Hailey has doubts about pledging with Beta Gamma Pi as the sorority rejects her best friend Teddi Spencer.

When Teddi runs for Student Government Association President against Covin Randall, Hailey has a problem as she is attracted to the hunk, but feels a loyalty to her BFF. Enflaming the strained friendship is Hailey's belief that Covin is better suited for the council leadership position than her roommate is although she is Teddi's campaign manager. When a fire breaks out in their dorm, Hailey risks her life to save orphaned Teddi's family memorabilia. Her courage impresses Covin who starts to date the sophomore.

Get What You Give is a fine Beta Gamma Pi entry as the heroine learns the meaning of relationship and friendship, leading and independence vs. sheepishly going along, and faith that God is there when you need him. Targeting young teens, Stephanie Perry Moore provides a strong entry as Hailey learns to adhere to her values not drift from them.

Fade to Midnight
Shannon McKenna
Kensington Brava
9780758228659, $20.95

For almost two decades, everyone who knew Kevin McCloud had thought he was dead. Even his three brothers have all but given up hope. However, instead of dying he suffered a traumatic injury from being tortured that included total amnesia.

Preventing a drowning leads him to emergency brain surgery. As a consequence, his memory has recently started to return. Kevin Larson is the name Kevin McCloud has used since the brutal torturous beating. He begins to piece back what happened to him eighteen years ago and before. He recalls the mind control work of insane scientist Christopher Osterman, but has not figured out his link. He learns the man is dead, but his associates try to draw Kevin back into their evil mind controlling scheme. As he struggles to remember he meets graphic novelist Edie Parrish at her book signing. She has a past with Osterman and McCloud, as she is convinced the former is the supervillain and the latter the superhero prototypes of her graphic novels.

The latest McCloud brother action-packed thriller is character driven by Kevin whose memory recall triggers the story line. Fast-paced from start to finish with intriguing unexpected twists, Fade to Midnight is a strong McCloud entry that series fans will relish. However, new readers will find references difficult to assimilate so should peruse the previous tales in the saga (see Edge of Midnight, Behind Closed Doors and Standing in the Shadows)

Secrets of the Tudor Court
D.L. Bogdan
9780758241993, $15.00

Mary Howard would do anything to gain her father's approval. Thus when he directs her to stay near and assist King Henry's latest love Anne Boleyn, she does. Doing this makes Mary feel bad as she feels for the kind hearted Queen Catherine rather than the arrogant Anne, but she needs daddy's appreciative thanks so she obeys his wishes.

Over the years, Mary finds the monarch's court filled with backstabbing as one queen replaces another. She hides her heart from everyone out of fear anyone who knows who she loves will use it as a weapon including her worshipped father the Duke of Norfolk, who would disown his daughter as he has ambitious plans for his daughter.

Using Mary Howard as a lens to look deeply at the court of King Henry VIII and his myriad of queens, readers obtain a somewhat fresh perspective on what has to be the zillionth historical fictional account of the monarch and his merry wives. Mary is an intriguing narrator who, until she finds love, lives to obtain her father's approval. Though very well written with a fascinating lead, only fans of the Henry VIII saga will enjoy Secrets of the Tudor Court.

Miss You Most Of All
Elizabeth Bass
9780758235107 20.00

Cancer victim Rue Anderson; her sister Laura Rafferty; and veteran Webb Saunders run the Sassy Spinster Farm in, Texas. The spread proves a great success as the "inmates" guests want to get down and dirty with work on a farm like planting and harvesting, etc. . Having just finished chemo treatment, Rue looks forward to sharing joint custody of her tweener daughter with her ex.

However, her recovery has a setback when the cancer returns. Worse is the return of the siblings' younger pain in the butt stepsister Heidi Dawn Bogue to the farm. Heidi hides her reason for returning to a place she loathed when her mom married the sisters' dad when she was a teen. In fact she needs to stay low as she is on the lam from her psychopathic Brooklyn embezzler boyfriend.

Readers will enjoy this character driven Texas family drama due to a strong lead trio and a solid support cast even if the Brooklyn mobster is somewhat stereotyped. Done with humor and wit (for instance, naming a child Portia is not Shakespeare literary allusion but an expensive car) Miss You Most Of All is a profound poignant relationship drama as three sisters find their groove.

A Thread So Thin
Marie Bostwick
9780758232168, $15.00

In New Bern, Connecticut Garrett Dixon helps his mom Evelyn at her Cobbled Court Quilt Shop while waiting for the return of his girlfriend Liza Burgess attending art school in New York City. Twenty-two years old Liza, whose mom died as she graduated from high school and who never met her dad, thinks of Evelyn as her surrogate mother although her maternal Aunt Abigail helped raise her.

Garrett proposes on New Year's Eve. Although she has doubts higher than the Empire State Building, Liza accept s. While Aunt Abigail plans on throwing the New England wedding of the century, Evelyn, who loves Garrett and Liza, fears they are too young to marry. Complicating matters for Liza is a career opportunity that suddenly arises adding to the already teetering dilemma of what to do as she does not want to hurt those she loves, but by doing so she thinks she will hurt herself..

Rotating viewpoint, the third Cobble Court family drama (see A Thread of Truth and A Single Thread) is an entertaining contemporary that follows the narrow tale's thread throughout. The cast is solid especially the wobbling lead Liza and her loved ones. Fans who enjoy a character driven story will want to read the aptly titled A Thread So Thin.

Return To Sender
Fern Michaels
9780758212733, $24.00

When Rosalind Townsend was seventeen years old she learned what she considered a life lesson about men and responsibly. Pregnant, her affluent one night stand partner in Atlanta Nick Pemberton deserts her by returning her letters unopened; while her abusive ultra pious father kicks her to the Georgia dirt as no Jezebel will live under his roof. Against the odds, she makes a life for herself and her Will.

Almost two decades later, when NYU accepts Will as a freshman, Lin accompanies her son from Georgia to the Big Apple. Lin runs into now millionaire CEO married Nick; in a pique of avenging anger she wants him to pay with a disruption to his perfect life for the offspring he rejected years ago.

Although over the top of the three stacked Empire State Buildings, Fern Michael fans will enjoy this engaging contemporary soap opera with a couple of more soapy spins re Nick, his wife and his doctor. Readers will admire Lin who has come a long way from Miss Stinky Pants' child abuse victim to being a great mom and dad to Will, but still seeks revenge with the wealthy northerner who ignored her plea to help care for her unborn.

Susan Johnson, Terri Brisbin and Mary Wine
Kensington Brava
9780758209436, $15.00

"As You Wish" by Susan Johnson. On 1785 London, the bet between two friends leads to Felicity Belvoir meeting the Earl; he wants to be her first and she wants him to be her last.

"A Storm of Love" by Terri Brisbin. In 1083 Scotland, Agnes of Mull is thrown out of her home into the dangerous wild, but Breac takes her in so she does not die.

"Stealing the Bride" by Mary Wine. In 1554 Scotland Laird Hayden Monroe needs a wife so he decides to kidnap his first and last choice Elspeth Leask as they share a deep passion that he hopes will turn into an even deeper love.

These are three well written heated historicals starring strong males and even stronger females.

Sexy Beast VIII
Kate Douglas, Kathleen Dante and Devyn Quinn
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758228710, $14.00

"Chanku Spirit" by Kate Douglas. Anton, Stefan and Matt leave their sanctuary traveling to Florida in search of their heritage. There the goddess chooses Matt to be her consort for eternity.

"Running Wild" by Kathleen Dante. Graeme teaches his beloved Deanna all there is about shapeshifting, but is irate when his cousin sniffs at his mate.

"Heart of the Wildcat by Devyn Quinn. As his tribe nears extinction, Joseph prays he finds a mate so when he rescues ecologist Kathryn's life, he wonders if she could be the one for him.

These three heated shapeshifting romances are fun entertaining tales that sub-genre fans will enjoy. The Kate Douglas entry is a key link in her Chanku saga as it has direct cause and effect implications to the next Wolf Tales (July publication).

Donald E. Westlake
Hard Case
Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780843963755, $7.99,

Traveling with a troupe actor Paul Cole wakes after being comatose for over fifty hours at Memorial Hospital after receiving a vicious beating from the husband who caught him having intercourse with his wife. City Police Lieutenant Murray informs Paul he can press assault charges while the cuckold spouse can counter with adultery; the cop suggests to the actor and the husband to file nothing.

With little money and Murray putting him on the bus to leave town, he heads east to New York City where he lives, but has to stop at Jeffords as he lacks the funds to get the rest of the thousand miles or so home. Worse his memory is failing him since he got his brains battered. He needs to build a future, but his past is foggy. He knows he needs to find work to come up with the, $33.42 to get home. Unemployment offers him no employment except to check with Jeffords Leather Works who hire the unskilled. He soon learns how difficult it is for a person with a disability to get help from others.

Written in the 1960s, once the reader moves past the sticker shock of costs and Murray's crime scenario, readers will relish this powerful still timely tale of a man struggling with memory issues while trying to get home to regroup. Paul is a great central character as he realizes increasingly the consequences of his indiscretion as well as the futility of dealing with people to busy to assist him especially those paid to do so. This is a great look at society through the eyes of a man condemned for life due to one relatively minor gaffe.

A Woman Called Sage
DiAnn Mills
Zondervan Publishing House
5300 Patterson Avenue, S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49530
9780310293293, $12.99

In 1875 in Colorado, Sage and Charles love one another deeply. They look forward to their first child. However, four dirty gunmen who apparently know Charles arrive at their ranch demanding money. The leader shoots and kills Charles; Sage memorizes the face of the only one talking before he shoots her.

Two years later, Sage thanks Tall Elk for teaching her how to hunt the predators who killed her husband and her unborn, and left her for dead. She vows one day justice will be served her style as she becomes a bounty hunter.

By 1882 Sage has made little progress in finding the face that haunts her nightmares. She learns of Aiden McCaw and his murderous brothers killing a rancher near Rocky Falls. With Hawk she captures Aiden who threatens her and knew Charles, but she takes him to Marshal Parker Timmons. He is at the funeral of his murdered brother; killed by Aidan's siblings. His nephews Davis and John are missing while his ribs are broken by the brothers as a warning. Still Sage and Parker go after the killers praying they can rescue the two youngsters. As the pair ignores their attraction because the kids come first, each will find their past catching up to them.

This is a superb western romance starring a unique heroine and a tough lawman. The support cast is solid as the townsfolk especially the Preacher, Hawk and the vile villains augment the plot, while the exciting story line is enhanced by the mystery of why Charles was murdered. Still the title character brings a special avenging redemption making A Woman called Sage a strong Reconstruction Era tale.

The Overnight Socialite
Bridie Clark
Weinstein Books
345 Hudson Street, 13th floor, New York, NY 10014
9781602860827, $23.95

Thirtyish billionaire Manhattanite Wyatt Hayes IV has everything going for him, but is bored with those he considers his social, economic and educational equals. He breaks off with his latest girlfriend Cornelia Rockman and wonders what next.

Leaving Dayville, Minnesota Lucy Jo Ellis hopes to take Manhattan by storm with her designs. She attends a gala in which she thought she was a guest, but ends up serving food. Later that night, a soaked to the bones Lucy heads home disappointed. Wyatt and his posse see her and he bets them he can turn her into the in person as he believes he can change chicken sh*t into a gourmet meal. He explains to Lucy the wager and she reluctantly agrees to his make over of her. As she proves she can, outraged Cornelia blames her replacement and undertakes a vendetta while Wyatt becomes jealous of those male socialites sniffing at his creation.

This is an interesting retelling of Pygmalion with a hyperbolized cast stereotyping various roles especially of the ultra rich and the deer in the headlight innocent coming to take the city by storm. The story is fun to follows as Lucy Jo of Middle American becomes cosmopolitan Lucy of Manhattan. Although the ending can be seen on a clear day all the way to Newark, readers will enjoy the modernization of My Fair Lady into The Overnight Socialite.

Blockade Billy
Stephen King
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit 7, Forest Hill, Maryland 21050
9781587672286, $25.00,

In the year Russia sent a satellite into orbit, New Jersey had a professional baseball team the Titans. Just before opening day, the Devil's catcher Johnny Goodkind was drunk and ran over a woman. He tried to run but was caught, which ended his sports career. His replacement Frank Faraday suffered a career ending injury during a game.

The team calls up from the Minors Davenport Cornholers William Blakely who proves to be a first class player. He befriends pitcher Danny Dusen who is closing in on two hundred wins. "Blockade Billy" wants him to achieve the milestone. The crowd loves Billy, but one of the management workers who deals with the players begins to notice odd phenomena involving the catcher. Billy sometimes has a band-aid on his second finger's middle knuckle and that means trouble. Billy exactly parrots what Danny says even when he was not there to hear the words. By the time his team figures out what makes Billy tick, they erase his name from the baseball archives; the Titans since have become a historical footnote while the game's greatest play simply vanished as the season for the Titans does not count.

This short novel will please Stephen King's readers especially those who cherish baseball stories. The story line feels somewhat like throwback to when baseball was the National Pastime just a decade after Jackie Robinson broke the race barrier. Well written and entertaining although the short format never allows the audience to get close to Billy or his teammates, fans will sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame, King style.

Carol Higgins Clark
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781439170250, $25.00,

It is the first anniversary of the marriage between Regan and Jack Reilly. They plan to celebrate the weekend at his family's Cape Cod home. The pair look forward to quality time together as Jack is the head of the Boston PD Major Crime Squad and Regan is a busy private investigator.

Their quiet weekend turns to hell when a brutal storm hits the Cape and their handyman finds the unconscious body of Adele Hopkins. Skip rushes over to ask Regan and Jack for help. The trio returns to the spot where he found Adele, but her body is gone. They fear Adele is lost at sea as the flood waters rushed ashore. While they seek the next of kin, they are stunned that Adele's rental place has no trace of her. The owners Jan and Dannie Carpenter did not know who Adele was nor have any information about her. As various people try to learn who she is and who should they notify about her death, they along with the Reilly pair remain blind to the fact she is alive and held prisoner by a psychopath who demands she perform a function for him, but Adele has no idea what her kidnapper wants.

Although needing a loving respite, the married couple easily falls back into their professional roles as they seek information on the mysterious Adele, but he is treated by his family's neighbors as just a Reilly while she is distrusted by the eccentric Cape Cod clans. Their mini second honeymoon vacation is distracted by their inquiries into a reclusive woman. Readers will enjoy their latest escapades into the life of a missing woman mystery wrapped inside a community drama as Carol Higgins Clark provides an exhilarating investigative thriller.

A Stranger In the Family
Robert Barnard
9781439176740, $24.00

In Glasgow, Scotland, Kit Philipson was raised by professional parents; his mom taught school while his dad, who escaped the Nazis as an infant, was a journalist. He loved both of them and knew they loved him.

However, twentyish Kit is stunned when his dying mom informs him he was adopted; his birth name is Novello. Her comments trigger long lost not quite lucid memories of a nursery and a woman baking as well as strangers taking him away from his apparent biological family. Needing to know the truth, he searches newspaper clippings for Peter Novello. He learns that in 1989 in Sicily, three years old Peter Novello was abducted. Kit deepens his quest to meet his family, but is confused by what he learns as his siblings had no idea he existed or why his biological parents who never left Leeds suddenly went to Sicily on vacation.

This great tale will be on most short lists for suspense thriller of the year as everyman Peter digs deep into his past trying to connect the dots between Leeds, Sicily and Glasgow. The journey is filled with twists as nothing is quite like it seems. Readers will want to join Kit on his quest to discover why from Peter's biological bloodline.

Sunrise in a Garden of Love & Evil
Barbara Monajem
Love Spell
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780505528254, $7.99,

In Bayou Gavotte, Ophelia Beliveau is like every female going through puberty. She got boobs, fangs and emitted an overwhelming attraction that males cannot resist. Ophelia's bloodline is that of a vampire.

To escape the male pick-up attempts, Ophelia became somewhat of a recluse. However, recently vandals devastated her beloved garden. She calls the local police; detective Gideon O'Toole responds. However, like every man she has met since she went through puberty, he wants her; this time she is considering reciprocating. Meanwhile at the same time Gideon's sister Artemisia is being blackmailed. Bayou Gavotte is becoming a dangerous place to live as death has come to town.

This is a fascinating southern vampire police procedural with plenty of Bayou atmosphere mindful of Sookie's world. The diverse relationships across species and within species are fully delved into with Ophelia as the center holding the plot together. Although evil has entered the garden at almost the same time as love has, the peril for the most part takes a back seat to the romance between the vampire who has done without and the detective willing to give his all.

Elisabeth Naughton
Love Spell
9780505528223, $7.99

When her grandmother succumbed to cancer, waitress Acacia "Casey" Simopolus felt all alone as she has no known blood relative left in the world. She becomes afraid when she notices some of the same symptoms in her.

A migraine drives Casey from her work as a waitress at a strip joint. Driving home, she intervenes when large animals assault a male human. Casey helps the victim, Theron, who heals rapidly from the injuries he received during the attack. Theron conceals from his angel that he is a guardian from Argolea, who protects his world from the evil ones trying to destroy it. He also hides his mission from her. His dying King Leonidas sent him to bring Casey to his world in order to save the ailing heir Princess Isadora. Attracted to the earthling, Theron fears he must choose between sacrificing his soulmate or his people, as Princess Isadora lives if Casey dies and dies if Casey lives.

The latest Eternal Guardians Greek mythos romantic fantasy (see Stolen Fury and Stolen Seduction) is an incredible tale starring a complex woman and a convoluted confused champion who understands first hand Prometheus' options as doing the right thing is not simple or easy. Readers will enjoy this entry that focuses on loyalty and love in relationships as Theron must choose between his need and that of his people.

Tsunami Blue
Gayle Anne Williams
Love Spell
9780505528216, $6.99

By 2003 undersea nuclear testing has caused a series of tsunamis that has devastated coast lines and islands. Only one person seems to uncannily predict when a horrific wave is coming and where including the one that killed her parents and twin brother in Thailand over fifteen years ago. Tsunami Blue lives on a remote rock in the San Juan Islands of Washington State with her dog Mad Max and a shortwave radio. From her outpost, she sends out warnings.

An unconscious Gabriel Black washes up on her beach. Though he is the most beautiful man she has ever seen, she fears he is one of her enemy; the runner pirates who want her dead as she interferes with their looting; he has their membership 666 tattoo on him. He awakens to her mixed feelings; as Tsunami is appalled by her attraction to the newcomer, but refuses to trust Gabriel. He hides who he is from her as he has loved her for years and has worked undercover keeping the pirates away from her. However, he knows the runners are coming for her and would die to keep her safe.

This is a great post apocalyptic high seas adventure romance that grips the audience from the moment Tsunami meets Gabriel on her beach. Fast-paced, the story line is refreshed by the unique heroine and the man who has loved her from afar, but forced to break cover to insure no harm comes to the woman he cherishes and admires. Gayle Anne Williams provides a terrific unique romantic suspense thriller.

Star Raiders
Elysa Hendricks
Love Spell
9780505528186, $6.99

For five years the Earth League Forces Anti-Smuggling/Piracy (ASP) Bureau Greyson Dane worked the field undercover. He seduced smuggler Stewart Kedar's innocent daughter Shyanne to get at her father. Greyson succeeded, but lost his heart to Shyanne while her dad is incarcerated. Knowing he betrayed the only woman he will ever love, Greyson left law enforcement field work taking a desk jockey promotion for his duplicity.

However, Greyson is sent back into the field after a decade in the office. He offers a deal to Shyanne and her crew in which ASP and the Consortium of Intelligent Life (COIL) will pardon them of all their crimes including some recent ones they did not commit if they help them capture Stewart's former right hand man Simon Dempster, who has attacked vessels and murdered the innocent. Shyanne always loathed Dempster who continues to be a thorn in her small operation and apparently has set her and her crew up to take the falls for his murderous raids. Still she conceals from the other man she detests, her only lover, his son Rian. He hides the full truth that he once again will sacrifice his beloved, but this time his cause is saving mankind from the angry retaliation of COIL.

Star raiders is a great romantic outer space thriller starring two former lovers still in love, but his treachery keeps them apart as she refuses to trust him with her heart or freedom. He regrets that he will use her again, but believes strongly his mission is critical because if he fails mankind could become extinct. Sub-genre readers will enjoy the Hendricks galaxy as two people still in love conceal secrets from one another.

The Shattered Sylph
L.J. McDonald
Leisure Books
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780843963236, $7.99,

Slavers arrive at the port city of Para Dubh where they kidnap teenager Lizzy Petrule; deserted at the dock by her suitor Justin. Chained she is taken across the Great Sea to the Meridal Empire. Worried about his missing daughter, Lizzy's father Leon and Justin who feels guilty begin a search and soon learns the fate of the lass; a sex slave to please the hundreds of enslaved battle sylphs.

Justin, Leon and his shape-sifting battle sylph Ril begin a rescue attempt. First they must enter a city where danger is everywhere. Once inside the citadel, the duo must find a way to the harem where Lizzy is just one more throwaway female to "feed" the hunger of the raging battle sylphs.

This is a fast-paced romantic fantasy as the heroic trio struggles to surmount magical and mundane attacks to mute their rescue efforts. Fast-paced from the moment Lizzy is abducted, L.J. McDonald paints an intriguing corrupt empire that readers will compare with the Sylph Valley. With the return of support players from the first tale The Battle Sylph, fans will relish the saga of The Shattered Sylph.

When Love Comes
Leigh Greenwood
9780843961362, $7.99

Broc Kincaid's face was scarred during the Civil War. By 1869 he remains extremely sensitive about his visage so when moronic Felix Yant tauntingly comments, an irate Broc batters the man. The Texas judge warns him about losing his temper, but commends him for paying the doctor bills so that Yant's wife and two kids did not have to suffer; still he sentences him to collect a debt. That will wipe clean the record or spend time in jail

Broc agrees to go to Cactus bend to collect what rancher Aaron Liscomb owes. He arrives at the Lazy T ranch to find the man dead. His wife Amanda runs the spread with the help of her three young children Eddie, Gary and Amanda. None of the four family members know anything about a debt. Broc assumes they lie, but decides to learn the truth. He obtains work on the ranch, but as he falls in love with the widow and her three kids, he also realizes they are honest; which means the judge or someone else is using him to pull a scam.

This is a super extremely complicated western romance that feels in some ways like an amateur sleuth as the hero struggles to learn the truth starting with going undercover. The romantic subplot takes a somewhat back seat to Broc's investigation, but fits perfectly as he begins to wonder if love taints his perspective. Leigh Greenwood affirms why he is one of the sub-genre's top guns with his latest historical.

Pure Temptation
Connie Mason
9780843964028, $7.99

In 1795 London, "Black" Jack Graystoke relishes the finer things in life, women and gambling. Tired after an evening of revelry, he goes to sleep at the dilapidated family home, Graystoke Manor only to have his two century or so dead relative albeit her ghost Lady Amelia insist he leave his bed to search for an unknown something.

Jack accidentally runs over unemployed Irish farmer's Moira O'Toole. He takes her to Graystoke so she can heal where his best friend Spencer Fenwick concocts an impish scheme to make Moira Jack's ward so they can find her a wealthy husband. Jack is attracted to her and believes she reciprocates, but he needs a wealthy spouse as well so he plans to propose to Lady Victoria Greene. Still he cannot resist the lure of his ward and they become lovers. When lies and omissions lead to their break-up, danger mounts for both of them with love and Lady Amelia giving them a ghost of a chance for survival.

PURE TEMPTATION is a reprint of an entertaining late Georgian ghost romance filled with spirit and love. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy this fun paranormal historical though the enemies' subplot feels somewhat intrusive.

The Double Comfort Safari Club
Alexander McCall Smith
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780375424502, $24.95,

In Gaborone, Botswana a delivery truck backs into salesman Phuti Radiphuti, crushing his leg against a wall. He is rushed to the hospital. When his fiancee Grace Makutsi tries to see him, his aunt refuses to grant her entrance; shaking up the timid young woman.

At the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency where Grace is the office assistant, owner investigator Precious Ramotswe works on a case for a late American. Twin City resident Estelle Grant left, $3,000 to the kind guide who took her on a safari to the Okavango Delta. However, as she was dying Estelle could not recall his name or that of his camp. The office's other cases involves biologist Robert Monageng Kereleng seduced out of his home by a femme fatale con artist and midwife Constance Mateleke wanting proof of her husband's alleged affair.

As always with this warm series, the mysteries take a back seat to the human drama as the wonderful heroine works her caseload using wit and acumen while making Tea Time for the Traditionally Built. With a charming look at Botswana, fans of the saga will enjoy the latest cozy.

One Enchanted Evening
Lynn Kurland
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780515147919, $7.99,

In 1229 Montgomery de Piaget who believed in fairy tales could use a happy ending with his current assignment. The knight needs to repair a fixer upper Artane castle before the walls fall around his ears.

Seattle, Washington theater costume designer Pippa Alexander is in England creating costumes for a gala when she and her sister Cinderella fall through a time portal that tales them to 1229 Artane Castle. Montgomery believes the siblings are fairies and asks them to use their powers to help fix the dilapidated pile of rocks he calls home. A drugged Cinderella insists she is the Fairy Queen while Pippa tries to get Montgomery to understand they are humans from almost eight centuries in the future. Montgomery still thinks she is the miraculous answer to his prayers as his claim on the castle is at best tentative, but his claim on her heart permanent regardless if he needs all the time in the world to prove it to his Pippa.

The latest time traveling de Piaget romance (see Till There was You and Dreams of Stardust) is a terrific entry as Artane is definitely a fixer upper. Fast-paced and filled with humor, fans will enjoy the awesome adventures of the twenty-first century Washingtonian fairy sisters in the crazy world of de Piaget family medieval England.

Wild Fire
Christine Feehan
9780515147902, $7.99

Panamanian leopard shifter Connor Vega was with a special ops team on a dangerous assignment when he met Borneo native Isabeau Chandler. They both feel the attraction between them; but he is well aware that she is his eternal mate while she remains ignorant to that because she is unaware of even being a shifter; as she has never changed. When her beloved adopted father died during the assault, she believes her beloved betrayed her. Connor's gut rips with his mate's rejection and animosity; her loathing of him is killing him slowly.

In the Panama rainforest that Connor once called home, international smuggler Imelda Cortez abetted by rogue shifters abducts children as hostages. Isabeau asks for Connor and his unit to intervene as she wants the best to save the children. Connor realizes he has a personal vendetta on this mission and a heartfelt need to win over his love even as Isabeau is about to do her first shift. However, as both struggle with desire, neither anticipated another betrayal from within.

The fourth Leopard shifter paranormal romantic thriller (see The Awakening, Burning Rain and Wild Rain) is an action-packed tale in which betrayal plays a major role. Connor struggles to survive deadly scenarios in the field, but it is his soul mate's loathing that is burning his heart. Fans will enjoy the rumble in the jungle as Christine Feehan provides a heated entry in her exciting series.

Strong Justice
Jon Land
c/o Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765323361, $24.99,

Caitlin Strong knows that being a Texas Ranger is part of her DNA. She is the fifth generation of her ancestry to serve. Her current inquiry deals with the illegal selling of Mexican girls as sex slaves mostly to wealthy Americans although she takes a side trip causing a mess to clean up a bigger mess in El Paso.

Law enforcement on both sides wants nothing to do with the deadly traffickers; rationalizing these girls are better off anyway. Instead Caitlin whose gonads are considered by her compatriots and superiors as the biggest in Tex-Mex border law enforcement finds an ally in outlaw Cort Wesley Masters. They also follow leads of a nasty serial killer working the uncontrolled border. Finally the clues take them to Sweetwater, the place where her grandfather during the Depression fought his version of a last stand; and Pearsall where water has made the town into a war zone and Cort an outlaw.

This may be the most complicated and convoluted police procedural of the year as the body bag industry is booming due to the homicides that depopulate most of the myriad of subplots. Jon Land affirms his strong skills as he is able to keep each subplot running smoothly and actually have an additional one re the attraction between the ranger (see Strong Enough to Die for her previous tale) and the outlaw. With ghosts from the past of both leads smoking up storms, fans will appreciate this complex thriller that focuses on the violence and economics of the Tex-Mex trading in guns, drugs, and girls (who do you think employs illegals in Arizona).

Blazing Bedtime Stories: Volume V
Leslie Kelly and Jennifer LaBrecque
Harlequin Blaze
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373795413, $4.99,

"A Prince of a Guy" by Leslie Kelly. In the Kingdom of Grand Falls on another planet, vain widow Queen Verona sends the Captain of the Amazonian Royal Guard warrior Olivia Vanderbrook to Earth to bring home the heir to the throne Prince Ruprecht. She has few clues beyond fast food warnings and San Francisco. Her inquiry leads her to carpenter and rock musician Rafe Cabot, who could be the royal's twin although Olivia believes he is the real deal in more ways than one.

"Goldie and the Three Brothers" by Jennifer LaBrecque. Ardmore Winery is run by three brothers while marketing is done by Goldie Dawkins. In the Georgia mountains she is to meet one of the trio Chad "workaholic" Malone at the remote cabin. The hike is strenuous and the storm make sit worse, but she arrives at the remote cabin only to find Jake Malone there to greet her. Attracted but keeping their distance, the pair cannot avoid one another as lust and perhaps love wins over caution.

Though different subgenres, these are two amusing well written but heated (they are Blazes at bedtime) romances.

The Sexy Devil
Kate Hoffmann
Harlequin Blaze
9780373795505, $4.99

In high school Angela Weatherby fell in love with star athlete Max Morgan, who was a player. Now she is authoring a book on "Smooth Operators: A Woman's Guide to Avoiding Dating Disasters". However, she has hit a snag when two womanizing hunks reform and marry her friends although she insists they are inside the margin of error.

Based on posts to her website, Max, now a professional baseball player, deserves his own chapter as the epitome of The Sexy Devil. Angela decides to look him up assuming that as an adult she will be immune to his curveball. Instead she learns the error of her ways as she still wants him. He is in love too, but what will happen when he learns she classified him as another unfeeling male creep.

This is a fun lighthearted contemporary frolic as the baseball player and the writer steal each other's heart but struggle to complete the game of love. Although the story line is a bit thin, fans will enjoy the fun tale as Angela begins to wonder how many devilish hunks belong outside the breaking a woman's heart "norm".

Vicki Lewis Thompson
Harlequin Blaze
9780373795482, $4.99

After two years keeping control of her impulses by being Herman's girlfriend, photographer Dominique Jeffries decides enough. She dumps Herman and leaves for Wyoming to find the old Dominique.

Veterinarian Nick Chance is fuming at his brother for ordering him to dig postholes in a rocky area. Shirtless, he meets Dominique who has a ribald self deprecating sense of humor. They each like what they see and agree to a short term tryst. As they fall in love, Nick struggles to conceal his desire for her to be with him forever while she struggles between wanting to be with him forever and her need to find the independent feisty Dominique who went into hiding the last couple of years.

This is an entertaining ranch romance starring two likable individuals and a solid support cast. The story line focuses on both internally insisting to themselves "I'm not in love" while wanting the affair to go on indefinitely. Although the "I'm in love" revelation is so abrupt, it catches the lead pair off guard and the audience will initially discredit it; still fans will enjoy a trip to the Grand Tetons in Wyoming where the Last Chance Ranch welcomes readers.

Dream Daddy
Daly Thompson
Harlequin American
9780373753123, $4.99

In Serenity Valley, Ian Foster and the human race are barely on talking terms. In fact his preference is not to speak with anyone except the sheep on the ranch and to a lesser degree his brother Daniel. However, he has no choice but to discuss with an accountant his business books as he ha s an IRS audit scheduled.

He hires Tansy Appletree to clean up, organize and prepare his records. She is attracted to the misanthrope because she believes his gruff exterior hides a vulnerable heart. He grumpily considers her Miss Sunshine though he conceals he likes her energy and enthusiasm. When she asks him to participate in a winter carnival she is helping organize, he wants to say yes but tells her no; an answer she refuses to accept as she sees how nurturing he is with Daniel's foster child.

The immovable object meets the irresistible force as the accountant and the rancher collide head on in a terrific contemporary romance with the IRS serving as matchmaker. The battle lines are drawn with Ian's heart being the front as readers will enjoy this fun gender war.

The Maverick
Jan Hudson
Harlequin American
9780373753116, $4.99

In Austin, Texas Cassidy Outlaw enjoys jogging especially when hunk Griffin "Tight Buns" Mitchell is right in front of her wearing hip hugging shorts. In her mind he has the perfect butt and other well carved body parts that she can see while her imagination fills in the rest. The view gets too close when he abruptly stops and she crashes into him skinning her knee.

However, when she learns he is a lawyer, she immediately decides she wants nothing to do with him. Having been nuked by an attorney she planned to marry, Cass has outlawed the legal profession when it comes to personal relationships. Yet she cannot stop admiring and thinking of him. They begin dating, but he conceals his reason for going out with her is to buy property from her, but now that he is falling in love he questions his method.

The seventh Texas Outlaws contemporary romance is a fun tale starring a twin (Cass' sister Sunny's tale was the previous entry The Twin) and Tight Buns. The family members, who have led previous dramas, rally around kicking Griff to the Oklahoma border except for her daddy the senator. Griff knows he behaved unscrupulously so has quite a trek to regain the trust of the woman he betrayed. Although the resolution seems too easy, fans of the Texas Outlaws will enjoy the romance of the second twin.

Until He Met Rachel
Debra Salonen
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716333, $5.50

When her marriage ended, accountant Rachel Grey took only the Porsche and left Trevor in Denver while relocating to Sentinel Pass in the Black Hills. There she plans to run a web-design business.

When Rachel meets local artist Rufus Miller, she hopes to persuade him to let her design a website for him. Rufus refuses at first, but she remains persistent until he reluctantly agrees because he is attracted to her and her energy. As she works with him on his website, Rachel realizes Rufus' hesitancy is caused by his past that he prefers to conceal; as he is the famous underwear model R.J. Milne. He wants his work taken seriously and not because he posed.

This is an enjoyable contemporary romance starring two likable lead protagonists who seem so contrary fans will assume they have no chance as an entry. He is a hermit with good reasons for withdrawing form society while she is an extrovert with good reasons for bringing him back into society. Readers will enjoy the Spotlight on Sentinel Pass as Debra Salonen writes delightful tale of opposites-attract.

An Honorable Man
Darlene Gardner
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716364, $5.50

Almost two decades ago, Alison Blaine fell to her death while in Indigo Springs in the Pocono Mountains. Everyone assumed her death was a tragic accident, which is what her then twelve year old son Ben Nash was told and accepted.

Now a Pittsburgh Gazette investigative reporter Ben Nash has no reason to think otherwise about his late mom's tragic death nineteen years ago until an e-mail arrives strongly implying that Dr. Ryan Whitmore should have been investigated but was not; the tone implies a homicide occurred and not an accident as he believes. Ben has no reason why anyone would kill his mom or why someone would send an email with Blaine in the address at this time or as a sick joke. Unable to ignore the implications, Ben goes to Indigo Springs to learn the truth. When he meets the late doctor's daughter Dr. Sierra Whitmore, his attraction to her makes him reconsider whether he needs the truth at the cost of their growing relationship. She feels the same way as he does, but also wants to also protect her deceased dad's reputation.

The key to this complicated investigative romance is the lead couple's needs involving their respective parents. Ben obsesses with knowing what happened to his mom while Sierra fixates on protecting her father's reputation. Each comes across as real with genuine desires, which makes for a fabulous contemporary drama as both characters and readers become consumed with knowing what happened nineteen years ago.

Do You Take This Cop?
Beth Andrews:
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716340, $5.50

In South Carolina when she realizes that her spouse is a pedophile, a stunned despondent Lynne Addison flees along with her nine years old son to keep her offspring safe from his predatory father. She changes her name to Faith Lewis and that of her son to Austin; knowing her spouse has the law on his side.

Faith stops in Kingsville, Maine. There she meets police officer Nick Coletti, who she likes. However, she hesitates telling Nick that she is on the run because he is law enforcement and the cops are looking for her. Still she hopes he is on her side if Armageddo n comes to Kingsville as she will not give up Austin to his dad. However, Faith falls in love with Nick, which is not in her cards. Finally, her spouse's private investigator arrives in town asking questions about the single mom and her son.

This is an interesting romantic suspense that loses an opportunity by failing to dig deeply into the consequences of what Lynne illegally did. Instead the story line chooses a simpler path by focusing on a second chance at love rather than Lynne's flight with her tweener son. Still fans will enjoy Beth Andrews' well written contemporary due to Lynne now Faith coming across as real with her fearing shadows everywhere starting with making her child come to work with her rather than being left home alone.

Brenda Jackson
Harlequin Blaze
9780373795420, $4.99

Former cop now a private investigator for the past three months Duan Jeffries rushes from a case in Atlanta to attend his brother, the once "Holy Terror" Terrance, wed Sherri Griffin (see Temperature Rising). He muses about the family's rash of marriages as his sister Olivia recently wed Senator Reggie Westmoreland (see Tall, Dark and Westmoreland) and his father to his devoted assistant. He is happy for all of them as he feels they deserve the best and they got the best.

During Terrence's reception, Duan and Sherri's friend ER nurse Kimani Cannon sneak away to make love. As they get to know one another, he is appalled when she mentions to him who her four failed marriages mom is now engaged to. When he was a cop, he thought strongly that Edward Villeros killed his two wives, but could not find proof. He vows to save her mom from a fatal mistake while Duan and Kim fall in love; however with her mom's track record Kim rejects happily ever after leaving Duan to wonder if the last Jeffries standing will remain a bachelor.

This is a superb hot romantic suspense thriller that grips the audience from the moment Kim mentions the name of her future step father and never takes a breather afterward. The mystery of Edward is well designed so readers are unsure whether he is a black widower or a bad luck husband. However, the tale belongs to the lead couple as Kim has relationship issues that make Duan wary to confess she makes him whole.

His Baby Surprise
Lisa Childs
Harlequin American
9780373753055, $4.49

An injury sends professional hockey star Brooks Hoover home to Trout Creek, Michigan with his NHL career probably over. He wants to coach the high school hockey team, but assistant principal Priscilla Andrews, who knew him as a teen and knows of the headlines he made as a troublemaker, has doubts bigger than the ice rink.

His past apparently hip checks Brooks when a baby is left at his door with a note claiming he is the father. Everyone in town wants the infant taken away from Mr. Irresponsible but instead he skates ahead with being a daddy. Now if he can only convince his employer Ms. Prim assistant principal that with her and the bay at his side, he scores the hat trick.

The lead couple is a complex duet who makes this hockey romance a winning tale. Fans will enjoy their tango while he proves to be an MVP when it comes to the baby he takes care of and she is stunned by her feelings for him and the child almost as much as observing how his parenting goes. His Baby Surprise is a warm Michigan contemporary.

Charlotte Featherstone
Harlequin Spice
9780373605439, $13.95

The Earl of Wallingford has no respect for women, but is far from a misanthrope when it comes to the opposite gender. In fact Matthew thinks females are good for one thing: sex. Thus he is a rake. Matthew is also an artist with no interest in inheriting his title. He goes so far as to finance a gallery by selling erotic painting at an auction.

Street pads assault and rob Matthew who is severely injured. Taken to a hospital his eyes are bandaged. As he heals, he finds himself looking forward to seeing his nursing angel, Jane Rankin. He is attracted to the sound of her voice, knows her smell intimately and relishes her touch when she helps him. Jane falls in love with him, but once the bandages are removed he fails to recognize her. At a wedding, they meet again and Matthew realizes she is his angel. They begin a tryst, but she is ready for a happily ever after, but childhood abuse leaves him unable to commit himself to her.

This is an entertaining heated Victorian romance starring a tortured soul who detests the hypocrisy of the aristocracy and a lowly nurse who simply loves him. The story line is driven by their sparing, but it is Wallingford who brings a vulnerability to the plot that makes this a strong historical. Sinful is a terrific tale with an upcoming online coda.

Play Dead
Meryl Sawyer
9780373774531, $7.99

Heiress Hayley Fordham is one of the owners of her late parents' Newport Beach surf shop. However she only wants to be an artist not a shopkeeper.

When Hayley is given an opportunity to paint a mural for a hotel in Costa Rica, she leaves California for the Central American nation without telling her family; as she wants them not to interfere. She lends her car and house to an out of town friend in the area. While she is in Central America, her vehicle explodes killing her friend; her grieving family assumes Hayley died. Her stepsisters re-divide the estate while her Aunt Meg asks the son of a family friend, FBI agent Ryan Hollister to investigate her niece's death. He finds her alive, well and unaware that a killer will come after her once the culprit learns she lives.

Filled with plausible great twists, Play Dead is a terrific romantic suspense starring a potential victim who if she surfaces will remain prey for an unknown adversary and the Fed who detests rich girls but admires the exception he now protects. Readers will be hooked when Hayley's car explodes only to be deeper engrossed when Ryan intercepts her. Filled with action and plenty of suspects, fans will enjoy the aptly titled Play Dead as Meryl Sawyer provides a strong thriller.

Crown of Destiny
Bertrice Small
Harlequin HQN
9780373774494, $13.95

In Terah, Hetar, the Shadow Prince's realm, and the City; Lara the fairie has loved mortal and immortal men for decades. She has watched with pride her children become rulers. However, recently some have forgotten her pivotal role in the years of peace and prosperity.

Her son the Twilight Lord Kolgrim plans to sire an offspring with the ability to destroy the lands. Lara's great-grandson Dominus Cadarn fears his kingdom is in trouble due to her magic. While her daughter Marzina has the fairie power to save the lands, but shows a rebellious inclination to take over her mother's role. Lara finds solace only with her beloved Shadow Prince Kaliq who vows to help her maintain peace in spite of her descendents.

The sixth and final World of Hetar fantasy is a wonderful climax to the strong saga as Bertrice Small ties up the major threads with a fine family reckoning that feels like a Shakespearean play as the cast allows hate, jealousy and fear to rule their logic. Readers will appreciate the goings-n of a dysfunctional extended family in which the matriarch rules the roost while her descendents want dramatic change; not all motivated to make things better.

Touch of Surrender
Rhyannon Byrd
9780373774647, $7.99

Morgan Cantrell wants to become a super Watchman. In that regard, she has worked diligently to achieve her objective overcoming hurdles until now. In Prague, she must work with Kierland Scott the lycan who broke her heart; he loathes her, but she vows even he can be leaped over with her motive saving his brother.

Kierland loathes Morgan because she has the power to control him. He uses every weapon in his arsenal including kisses to keep them apart while blaming her for his need. Now he must work with the female he loathes, fears, and wants to save his brother. Using anger to conceal his feelings, he is shocked into reality when she faces a life threatening situation; he fears he may be too late to make amends and tell her he loves her.

The fifth Primal Instinct urban fantasy is a great entry as two "enemies" team up on a rescue mission in which their respective hearts are at risk from one another as much as their lives are from the death Walkers. Readers will relish the trek from Prague across Europe as Kierland's world implodes when Morgan is in danger.

Into the Dark
Gena Showalter
9780373774517, $7.99

"The Darkest Fire." Geryon the slave to the prince of darkness loves Kadance the goddess who guards the underworld with her essence, but knows what the walls crumbling down mean to her life.

"The Amazon's Curse." Nola the Amazon has been cursed to remain invisible and unheard by others yet is determined to rescue Zane the vampire.

"The Darkest Prison". Atlas the Titan god of strength has imprisoned Nike the Greek goddess of strength and victory who one held him captive.

With two Lords of the Underworld entries and a Tale of Atlantis ("The Amazon's Curse"), fans of the author will enjoy these three romantic fantasy short novellas although newcomers might find it difficult to dive into the Showalter paranormal realm. To somewhat alleviate that there is an additional 160 or so page Underworld Bonus Guide. A must for series fans, Into the Dark is a fabulous anthology.

Chasing Perfect
Susan Mallery
9780373774524, $7.99

As a child, urban planner Charity Jones had no place she could call home. Thus her fondest desire is to finally settle down somewhere. When Fool's Gold, California hires her to help the hamlet attract new business and men, she thinks this is her permanent place to call home

Men for some reason don't stay in Fool's Gold normally. One exception is former Tour de France winner Josh Golden who left biking after a teammate died in an accident. He has been in hiding in the California foothills. All the women in town want Josh except Charity; all he wants is Charity and not the other women.

The fun behind this entertaining contemporary romance is the aptly titled town that seems to struggle with a scarcity of men; thus leading to poignant jocular situations. The support cast is strong and eccentric while the lead couple is a wonderful pairing as she just wants a home without a man but is hired by a town of women to entice men to come and stay. Fans will enjoy the first visit to Fool's Gold as Susan Mallery deftly merges humor with pathos.

A Mother's Wedding Day
Rebecca Winters and Dominique Burton
Harlequin American
9780373753062, $4.49

"A Mother's Secret" by Rebecca Winters. Max de Roussillac places his recently divorced alcoholic dad Steve in rehab while taking over managing the family vineyard. However, his return means seeing the love of his life who jilted him just before their wedding. Andrea Danbury still loves Max, but fears his reaction when he meets her daughter though her Samantha is overseas and not really talking to her.

"A Daughter's Discovery" by Dominique Burton. Samantha Danbury seeks her paternal heritage in Alaska with plans to meet her recently discovered grandparents. However, when she meets park ranger Jake Powell, she falls in love with him, but he is a misanthrope who prefers his female to be Beastly the dog.

These two interrelated charming family dramas, ironically written by a mother-daughter duet, hook the reader throughout due to a strong cast. Character driven readers will relish A Mother's Wedding Day as Rebecca Winters proves once again how talented she is and her daughter Dominique Burton displays the gene pool with an equally strong entry.

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781439133453, $24.00,

Theo Waitley grew up in the gentle scholarly world of Delgado. However, the half-Terran daughter of a Liaden pilot manages to enroll in pilot school. She proves incredibly adept at flying and even more incredibly inept at relationships.

When Theo landed her crippled plane on a mountain (see Fledgling) she gained fame and envy. Scout pilot Win Ton gives her a keepsake and himself though he is to marry a purebred Liaden. However she is soon caught in a "Nexus of Violence" as a target of off-worlders and others that endanger her schoolmates and the faculty. As she struggles to survive and avoid expulsion, she wonders whether to go humiliatingly home, become an aviator free lancer, or trek to her father's clan to demand their help.

This is an interesting coming of age science fiction thriller that fans of Liaden will appreciate while newcomers will easily soar with the beleaguered heroine. Theo is a wonderful lead as a student with flying talent but is socially dysfunctional and educationally innumeracy. The audience will enjoy her escapades while new readers will be able to fly from the start, but to better understand how far Theo has come reading Fledgling provides the background.

In Shelter Cove
Barbara Freethy
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781439173251, $7.99,

Five years ago, Brianna arrived at Angel's Bay, California to marry Derek Kane. However, not long after they exchanged I do, he was arrested for stealing three paintings from the local museum. He was convicted and sent to prison. Just a few weeks before his release, Derek is dead.

A single mom, Brianna believes she is the only person besides her mother-in-law and the real thief who believes her spouse was innocent. Upon his death, she vowed to uncover the identity of the felon so accompanied by their child Lucas returns to Angel's Bay and not just for her husband's funeral. She blames Lucas' best friend police officer Jason Marlowe for Derek's conviction as his testimony hung her spouse. Thus when she learns he is her neighbor, she is outraged especially when Lucas seems to worship the cop. Worse she is also attracted to him and stunned by clues that make her believe either Derek did the nefarious deed or Jason set him up to take the fall.

The latest Angel's Bay tale (see Suddenly One Summer) is an exciting romantic suspense with angelic support enhancing the plot. The story line is a classic romantic mystery that has readers and the heroine wondering whether Derek or Jason is the culprit. Although the key characters' cause seems forced to fit the effect rather than driving the flow, fans will enjoy accompanying the widow as she seeks the truth In Shelter Cove.

Master Of None
Sonya Bateman
9781439160848, $7.99

His partners if they had survived would testify he was the worst thief in the universe. However, even for Gavyn Donatti, his latest failure is a stunner as he lost the score he stole for his employer. Gavyn knows he must skip town, but his irate fence Trevor does not accept failure so he sends Skids Davis to beat the snot out of Gavyn and perhaps more; as a warning to other employees. However, someone intervenes; Skid shoots the male who tells him that hurt and warns the thug to tell his boss to back off or else.

The djinn makes it clear he needs the moronic Gavyn, but will not put up with any shenanigans. Not interested in Gavyn's mouth, the djinn tells him he was sent here to help him fulfill his destiny. Neither the djinn, Gavyn, his girlfriend Jazz nor her son know what a small time robber's destiny could be beyond surviving and selling the latest heist.

This enjoyable urban fantasy is filled with intelligent jocular dialogue as Donatti the thief struggles with achieving his life's purpose once he learns his life's purpose. He is terrific as the focus of the fun plot while his support team augments his efforts to determine his quest by not allowing him to just going back to being the worst thief in the world. Tongue in cheek but loaded with action, fans will enjoy Master of None starring a likable antihero.

A Lady Never Tells
Candace Camp
9781439117972, $7.99

In 1824, after burying their mother, the four Bascombe sisters (eldest sister Mary, Rose, Camellia, and Lily) leave America seeking their grandfather, the Earl of Stewkesbury, whom they never met because he has cut off their mom for marrying their dad. They have no idea how cold the reception will be, but hey have little choice.

In London, a thief grabs the satchel of papers Mary held. Sir Royce Winslow stops the footpad and returns the bag to Mary. When they explain they are the grandchildren of Stewkesbury, he is stunned as the elderly curmudgeon just died and his stepbrother Oliver is the new earl responsible for the four females. Royce and fiery Mary are attracted to each other though he is a bit concerned over her skills with knives and guns. As they fall in love, they and her sisters prevent a kidnapping.

The first Willowmere late Regency romance is an entertaining historical romp starring four wild female "colonists" taking the Ton by storm with their brazen antics; ironically none of the knife carrying siblings want to join high society though they do. Readers will relish misinterpretation, misfortune, and missteps as the four sisters invade England affirming that the barbarians crossed the Atlantic.

Masked by Moonlight
Nancy Gideon
9781439149638, $7.99

Veteran NOPD Police Detective Charlotte "Cee Cee" Caissie works the homicide beat. Her current case involves a horrific mutilation murder that she ties to crime boss Jimmy Legere, whom she detests and hopes to destroy because she believes he killed her father.

Cee Cee digs deeper and concludes that Legere's monstrous mob enforcer, Max Savoie knows more than he is revealing to her. Max has been attracted to the detective seemingly forever and even saved her from an abduction years ago. She has dreamed about her hero since the incident and he admits to her he is him after he saves her again. As they make love, she knows she may have stepped over the edge of the levees because he is caught the middle of her mutilation investigation while he knows he is torn between love and loyalty.

Masked by Moonlight is a complex romantic police procedural working an urban fantasy beat. The story line is filled with action, but character driven as the seemingly star-crossed lovers cross their respective barrier to each other. Nancy Gideon provides a taut paranormal thriller that sub-genre fans will relish and look forward to more investigations starring Cee Cee with Max the "Monster" figuratively having her back and literally her mind and body.

Risk No Secrets
Cindy Gerard
9781439153611, $7.99

As the Baylor Middle School in El Salvador shuts down for vacation time; American expatriate school administrator Sophie Weber notices a mysterious van near her adopted daughter Hope and her tweener's best friend Lola. The men snatch Lola. Upset, Sophie cannot reach her former husband Hugh who is out of the country working a kidnap retrieval case. Desperate she calls Hugh's best friend Wyatt Savage of Black Ops, Inc. She explains what happened and he drops everything to help the woman he loves ever since meeting her twelve years ago when he and Hugh attended a language class she gave; she married Hugh instead of him.

Following a deadly incident at the airport in El Salvador, Sophie explains she has been divorced for two years as Hugh has become only interested in money. Wyatt meets Hope and reads the ransom note sent to Sophie demanding, $500,000 for the safe return of Hope. He tells Sophie to let the media know Lola is like a daughter to her to keep her safe once the kidnappers learn the wrong girl was taken. Wyatt arranges for his teammates to come to El Salvatore to help him retrieve Lola and to take Hope safely to Argentina. The battle lines are drawn as everyone involved on three sides will Feel The Heat of a Show No Mercy and Take No Prisoners operation.

The fifth Black Ops romantic suspense is an exhilarating thriller starring a lead couple with a strong second chance subplot and a solid support cast to include previous stars and a secondary romance that is not explored deeply but will please readers. The story line is fast-paced with a super twist although the kidnappers are caught unaware that the hero would bring back-up to a key meeting. Fans of the series will appreciate the El Salvatore retrieval.

Wicked Becomes You
Meredith Duran
9781416593126, $7.99

In 1890 Gwen Maudsley has everything going for her except a husband. Wealthy, she is a nice person and very pretty; yet she has been jilted on two occasions by gentlemen. She has decided being sweet does not work amongst the males of the Ton.

Gwen chooses her late brother Richard's best friend Alexander Ramsey to teach her how to be sinfully wicked. Alex has known Gwen all his life and has loved her from afar. However, he also believes he is unworthy of her. Reluctantly, he agrees though he fears once they start he will not be able to let go of the woman he loves who deserves better than someone like him. They cross the Channel to Paris and beyond, but his past and their attraction collide.

This is an entertaining late Victorian romance starring two people who share the tragic death of her brother four years earlier and a feeling that they are undeserving of love. Although the plot is thin, readers will root for the lead couple as each must face their own demons if they want to embrace their love for one another.

Silent Truth
Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love
9781416597452, $7.99

Bureau of American Defense operative Hunter Thornton-Payne has been a dedicated warrior since he joined the black ops squad. However he also has a personal vendetta, which the karabiner he carries with him always reminds him of. For four years ever since his newly married friend Eliot died on a mission off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii, he has hunted the killer; at the same time he avoids Eliot's wife Cynthia and their son, unborn when he died.

Hunter attends a women's shelter in Chicago as apparently a terrorist group to include Eliot's killer plans to be there also. At the gala is investigative reporter Abbie Blanton who Hunter knew during his affluent social days. When her mother becomes critically ill following a visit to the women's center, Abbie investigates. However, neither she nor Hunter expected to run into each other and to be on the run from some bad dudes.

The latest BAD thriller (see Whispered Lies and Phantom in the Night) is a high octane romantic suspense starring two people who after each went rogue unites to elude danger. The story line is razor thin and takes abrupt leaps, but is fun to follow as Hunter fears love even before his best friend died, which accentuated his belief that operatives don't marry, but Abbie has him crazy with desire even with danger engulfing them.

What Lies Within
S.D. Tooley
Full Moon Publishing
P.O. Box 408, Schererville, IN 46375
9780982035238, $16.95

Chasen Heights, Illinois Police Chief Murphy takes disciplinary action against Detectives Jake and Frank for allowing a murder suspect to jump to her death. Murphy rejects the extenuating circumstances alibi so both work as animal control officers for a month. The humiliated partners are in the Ember's building looking for a cat when they break through a wall that hides a staircase which leads to the fourth floor of a three-story edifice

Inside an apartment lies the mummified body of a woman sitting in a chair posed to be looking at a TV screen. The deceased turns out to be the woman Murphy was crazy about in his youth and who disappeared on the same day a bank robbery where he worked as a guard occurred. Murphy, running for mayor, learns his two cops dug up the body of a man on property that the realtor says belong to the Chief, but he denies owning it. There is further evidence surfacing that implicates Murphy as the killer of both victims. Ironically he hires Jake's wife Sam Casey, a former homicide detective turned private eye, to investigate who is framing him. She takes the case though he is major reason she quit the force. Her uncanny psychometric skill to paranormally see thing she touches helps her, but it is normal detecting that leads her closer to the truth.

Known as one of the first to write paranormal mysteries, S.D. Tooley also writes the exciting Chase Dagger series under the name Lee Driver. The fast-paced investigative story line grips the reader as increasingly the evidence hangs the Chief who depends on a former employee he helped drive off the force. Character driven by mostly Sam, but somewhat by a beleaguered Murphy, fans will enjoy the latest Casey paranormal whodunit (see When the Dead Speak and Echoes From the Grave) as the Sin City segment of Chasen Heights was just two weeks from having its secrets interred forever.

Jenna Black
St. Martin's Griffin
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312575939, $9.99,

One has to travel to London to reach Avalon; the only place where Faerie and the mortal realms converge. It is a sovereign nation similar to how the Vatican is its own country within Rome . Mortals can journey to Avalon but not the Faerie who can only remain in Avalon. Magic and technology work in Avalon but only the latter works in the human realm.

Dana Hathaway is the sixteen year old child of an alcoholic who keeps her daughters away from Avalon and her father. Finally Dana gets so disgusted with her mother's behavior; she enters Faeirie to meet her father Seamus for the first time. When she arrives she learns her father is in jail and her Aunt Grace kidnaps her. Two Faerie siblings, Ethan and Kimber, rescue Dana but they too have their own agenda. They realize she is a Faeriewalker, who can traverse both worlds, which according to her dad when they meet makes her a powerful weapon and brings about a strong interest by all residents of Avalon. Ethan's father, Gra ce and Seamus want to be the next Consul and Grace would be a great weapon in anyone's arsenal. Where she lives impacts faerie politics as Dana must be protected from those who want to use her and those who want to kill her.

Young adult readers who enjoy the fantasies of the Cast team or that Alyson Noel will relish Glimmerglass. Jenna Black spellbinds and enthralls her readers who initially like the heroine, want to know why Dana's mom fears her daughter's sire she became an alcoholic, drinking and relocating all the time to elude his reach. After meeting him and better understanding the realm of magical politics, fans will remain enthralled as Dana starts to understand what motivates the paternal side of her family. She trusts no one to protect her interests. With a strong climax and more to follow, fans will want to follow the adventures of the teenage Faeriewalker.

Men Of Danger
Lora Leigh, et al.
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312576363, $7.99,

"Hannah's Luck" by Lora Leigh. Due to his late wife's infidelity, Sheriff Rick Grayson ignores his attraction to Hannah Brookes until a break-in at her home occurs.

"Reckless" by Red Garnier. Seven years ago her father was murdered and Paige Avery was injured. Still suffering from amnesia, she returns to the site of her nightmare to confront Detective Zach Rivers with a plea for the whole truth; not recalling his sweet kisses.

"Tempt Me" by Alexis Grant. Popular rapper Anita Brown is tired of her family leeches who live off of her hard earned money so she turns to her equally hard working security chief Zachary Mitchell for solace, not expecting his soul.

"Love Me 'til Death" by Lorie O'Clare. Detective Ashley Jones makes it clear she is dissatisfied with FBI Agent Chase Reed intruding on her homicide investigation; she also makes it clear that she would be very satisfied if he would intrude in her personal life.

These are four entertaining romantic suspense tales that showcase how wide the range the sub-genre contains with the best being Red Garnier's strong whodunit.

Chaos Bites
Lori Handeland
St. Martin's
9780312366032, $7.99

Her dead lover Navaho Skinwalker Sawyer, whom she killed, (see Apocalypse Happens) visits Liz Phoenix every time she dozes off. His nocturnal appearances gives her hope she may be able to raise him from the dead though she has no idea how to bring him back to her and his shapeshifting baby that she is raising and protecting from malevolent forces.

Liz turns to her acrimonious former lover Jimmy Sanducci to help her find a magical tome protected by spells and beasts who no one in their right mind would want to encounter or tangle with. Her job of keeping the baby safe makes their mission all the more difficult. Their trek is dangerous as there are many things out there that prefer the end of the world.

The latest Phoenix Chronicles (see Doomsday Can Wait and Any Given Doomsday) is an exhilarating urban fantasy as the prime triangle continues their escapades with Sawyer reaching out to his beloved from the grave. Fast-paced throughout, the aptly titled Chaos Bites is a great run through a gauntlet of death as apocalypse now continues to happen overwhelming the heroine who also has a baby to contend with (shades of Willow). The Haviland mythos is creative and a great place for readers to visit.

It Had To Be You
Francis Ray
St. Martin's
9780312365073, $7.99

Music's number one producer is R.D. (Rolling Deep), who can make anyone with a modicum of talent into a superstar. He believes classical violin virtuoso Laurel Raineau can achieve mega status with her next album if she will heed his advice.

Although her recordings do not sell as well as she would prefer, Laurel rejects Zach's offers, a first for the egotistical producer as everyone wants R.D. She even refuses to meet with him as she detests his public relations media approach, which means commercialization superseding the music. Deciding to use his real name of Zachary Alright Wilder, he tries a duplicitous ruse to just meet the talent who has rejected him. He arranges to see her under his real name at a resort she is visiting. When they fall in love, Zach knows he owes her the truth, but fears losing Laurel as he will have lost her trust. Still he informs her of his deception and she ends their relationship. Desperate he turns to an orchestra of friends and family to get him an encore performance with Laurel before the curtain comes down on their relationship.

The latest Grayson Friends (see One Night with You and Nobody but You) contemporary romance is an entertaining tale of two people from different musical philosophies making them almost seem like star-crossed lovers. Although the key plot device of concealing who you are has been used before, Francis Ray keeps it fresh by showing how wide and diverse the music world is. The ensemble as always in a Ms. Ray tale is on top of the charts, but the lead duet own the story line as each understands the Lovin' Spoonful's mantra "the magic is in the music and the music is in me", make that us.

The Botticelli Secret
Marina Fiorato
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312606367, $14.99

In 1482 in Florence's Ponte Vecchio, Luciana enjoys selling herself to her wealthy clientele. Franciscan novice Brother Guido tries to give her a religious pamphlet, but she laughs with profanity at his inanity while offering her body at no charge.

She does not scorn the great artist Botticelli who has hired her to model as the prime figure the goddess of spring for his current work, Primavera. After finishing her assignment, but not getting paid for posing, Luciana impishly takes the model of the Primavera and leaves behind Guido's pamphlet. However back at her room, she finds her roommate's throat cut, which she interprets as the rage of Lorenzo de Medici. She flees to affluent customer Bembo, but his throat has been sliced. Next she tries Brother Guido and those at his monastery, but several are dead there. Guido and Luciana flee to his aristocratic uncle Lord Sylvio of Pisa to intervene, but has been poisoned and his son blames his cousin. The Seven city state magnates supported by the pope want the unfinished prototype and will kill to possess it.

This is an entertaining Brownian Renaissance thriller that conspiracy buffs especially will enjoy. Luciana is an interesting lead character as she can be impishly seductive in spite of her endless strings of profanities. Although the deep look into the Primavera is educating and defends why the Seven needs it back, those sections turn long winded as only art students and professors, and conspirator buffs will relish. Still overall The Botticelli Secret is a cleverly designed late fifteenth century thriller.

Summer People
Elin Hilderbrand
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312628277, $14.99

Attorney Arch Newton died in a plane crash. His grief-stricken widow Beth decides to go ahead with their summer plans leaving Manhattan for Nantucket accompanied by their twin children Garrett and Winnie. Also joining the Newton trio is seventeen year old Marcus; the son of a client accused of killing her sister-in-law and niece Arch was defending before he died; Arch invited Marcus.

Grieving Garrett is angry with Marcus being with them as he blames the latter's mom for his dad's death. Nantucket native David, separated from his wife, wants a second chance with Beth who seems receptive foe a fling with her first love, but hides something from her wannabe lover and her offspring. Garrett and David's older daughter form a relationship as does Winnie with Marcus.

The third Nantucket family drama (see The Beach Club and Nantucket Nights) is an enjoyable tale starring a grieving family in crisis. The cast is solid just not as deep as should be with each one dealing with the summer of his or her discontent. Although not profound, Summer People is a fine tale of three interlocking families struggling to move on.

Death Blows
D.D. Barant
St. Martin's
9780312942595, $7.99

Unnatural States of America NSA chief David Cassius the vampire yanked FBI profiler Jace Valchek from her United States of America realm to his to hunt for a human serial killer who murdered vampires and werewolves (See Dying Bites). Jace partnered with Charlie Aleph the Golem, still works for David as she agrees to remain here until she ends the reign of terror of Aristotle Stoker.

NSA employee vampire Gretchen Petra's significant other Saladin Aquitaine was magically fried. His garb was that of the DC comic book character The Flash though superhero comics are banned in this USA. Part of the Bravo Brigade, Saladin is the first killed, but other comic book look alikes follow. Jace and Charlie have to switch gear to prevent another serial killer; this time acting like a super-villain.

The second Bloodhound Files is a spectacular alternative urban fantasy police procedural. The action-packed story line soars from the opening scene and never slows down for even a respite as Jace investigates a comic book serial killer. Faster than a speeding bullet with a tongue in cheek feel that will remind readers of Jasper Fforde's works, fans will marvel over this delightfully charming tale.

Club Rules
Andrew Trees
St. Martin's
9780312570279, $23.99

The Edna Glen Country Club contains several social levels besides the working stiffs who are in the ooze beneath the food chain whether they wear a suit or jeans. At the bottom rung are the devourers of their young hanger-ons hoping to find a way to make it up the ladder. Just above them in the pecking order are the sacrificial hopeful, which include most of the nouveau riche with an exceptional few higher up due to fame. Near the top are the most affluent preferably with old money making new money. Finally the royal rulers are Anne and Preston Baird Winthrop; their word is gospel while everyone worships the pair as the holy leadership due to the Winthrop Trusts; a ll covet them and thrive to replace them as monarchs.

When the first flaw in the perfect regal marriage occurs, vultures arrive with hopes and scheme to move up the ladder. Anne believes Preston is cheating, but not sure with who though she has guesses. Norman Bond plans to take advantage of Anne's suspicions as he tries to move past being the court jester butt of vicious jokes to become her loyal confederate and protector; even while his moves angers his recently born again wife. Scandal is in the air and everyone at the Country Club plots to use someone else's misery to rise in the pecking order.

Using a country club as a microcosm of society, Andrew Trees provides a powerful poignant look at class warfare. Each rung of the food chain has rules while the entire ecosystem also has rules in a sort of Lord of the Flies crossed with the Ugly American meets The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. Everyone is skewed as double bogeys are the country Club Rules.

Charlotte and Emily: A Novel of the Brontes
Jude Morgan
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312642730, $14.99

In 1821 in Haworth, Yorkshire, Maria Bronte, mother of five and wife to a Vicar, dies. Her widower husband Patrick sends his oldest four daughters to boarding school, but Maria and Elizabeth come home to die from consumption. His son Branwell becomes an addict while his three other daughters (Charlotte, Emily, and Amy) use pseudonyms to become poets and eventually novelists even as they dote on their father and brother. By 1855, all five of Maria's offspring are dead none having reached the age of forty.

The key to this superb Bronte biographical fiction novel is, in spite of the title, the focus on all six siblings and their father with especially Amy and to a lesser degree Branwell getting equal treatment to their more famous siblings. Fans of the renowned authors (and their less famous siblings) will appreciate this fine Passion-filled homage to a first family of literature.

Strong, Sleek And Sinful
Lorie O'Clare
St. Martin's
9780312943448, $7.99

In Mission Hills, two female high school students have disappeared in the last year. One remains missing; the other is dead. Police Lieutenant Perry Flynn strongly believes a sexual serial killer using the Internet is on the loose stalking teenage girls; having four cherished teen nieces who he is helping raise he vows to end the predator's reign of terror.

FBI agent Kylie Donovan goes undercover as a college student investigating the same case. Kylie and Perry meet with each attracted to one another but each suspicious of the other. Kylie fears the psychopath is a cop while he wonders if there is a sinister deadly reason she befriends his nieces. As Kylie concludes someone is setting up Perry for the fall, she vows to keep him and his family safe.

This is an exciting police procedural that focuses on some of the modern day dangers with Internet enticements and stalking. Fast-paced from the moment Perry confronts his boss with evidence that the perp lives in Mission Hills, readers will enjoy the tango between the two law enforcement officials although he can be brutally nasty protecting his family from the woman he loves.

Rogue In My Arms
Celeste Bradley
St. Martin's
9780312943097, $7.99

Sir Colin Lambert hopes he is the one who sired Melody, an infant left in front of his gentlemen's club three and a half years ago. Furthermore, he assumes the mother is his former mistress Chantal Marchant, an actress though he has problems understanding why she would abandon her baby without talking to him.

Colin searches for Chantal without much success until he meets the actress's seamstress Pru Filby. Struggling to feed her younger brother and herself, Pru agrees to be Mellie's nanny while Colin continues his search for Chantal, whom he knows he loves. However, when the adults are separated, Pru with the baby enlists the aid of a traveling troupe. When Colin, worried about both females, finds them he ponders why he wants Pru who hides from him she loves him as she believes her former employer has his heart.

The latest Runaway Brides Regency romance is an exhilarating historical tale that continues the saga of who Melody's father and mother are (see Devil in My Bed). The story line is fast-paced from the moment Colin decides it must be him and goes about searching for the love of his life only ironically to realize the love of his life is accompanying him on the search. Although the suspense serves as a catalyst it remains secondary to Colin's quest for love.

Vanitha Sankara
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061849275, $14.99,

In 1300 in Narbonne, France, as her mother dies giving birth to her, Auda is born bone white to the horror of the healer and her apprentice. To prevent the infant from spreading the devil's words, the frightened apprentice viciously rips out Auda's tongue. However due to her father's occup ation as a scribe, Auda learns to read and write.

By 1320, as a team father and daughter try to persuade those who use parchment to switch to the paper her dad invented. Shockingly, a Vicomtesse orders some of their stock and hires Auda as her scribe. At the palace, an artist saves Auda from a witch-hunt, but she begins to write heretical verse about women's rights that places her in further danger from an inquisition that already distrusts her albino skin as that of the devil.

Watermark is an entertaining medieval tale that looks deep into life in France by someone whose difference subjects her to ostracism and with little impetus potential burning at the stake. Along with the invention of a new type of paper (perhaps the mother of invention for the printing press), Watermark is Auda's saga of surviving as a mute albino with a skill taboo for women. Although believability seems lacking at times, the survival adventures of Auda in fourteenth century France is an engaging character driven thriller.

A Most Sinful Proposal
Sara Bennett
9780061339172, $7.99

In 1837 at Miss Debenhan's Finishing School, Marissa Rotherhild, daughter of two avid botanists, tells her Husband Hunters Club friends that she has chosen her husband, the Honorable George Kent of Surrey. Known as a rake, she believes she can change the womanizer.

Marissa goes to meet George at the family country estate, but instead encounters his reclusive older sibling, Lord Valentine Kent, who she finds attractive and his obsession with roses makes her feels close to home. However, his quest for the most likely extinct Crusader's Rose excites her almost as much as does Valentine.

The latest Husband Hunters Club early Victorian romance (see Led Astray by a Rake) is an enjoyable tale starring two fascinating lead characters linked by desire for one another and knowledge of botany that Sara Bennett deftly interweaves into the plot. The story line starts a bit slower than usual, but once Valentine and Marissa begin the search with a rival of his stalking them to steal the find if they make it, the plot moves rather quickly and entertainingly. Sub-genre fans will join the trek for the rare rose as A Most Sinful Proposal is worth reading.

The Modern Girl's Guide To Sticky Situations
Jane Buckingham
9780061776359, $19.99

This is a fun well written reference book with concise answers to specific embarrassing, often silent screaming scenarios facing females (and by extrapolation of relational implication males) in modern society. The topics run the gamut of nine sticky chapters (love; weddings; home; family; parties, beauty fashion, and shopping; work; and on the go) and one dedicated section to the Icky. The topics include a vast range. For instance, Jane Buckingham provides short treatise on giving a toast in public when public speaking requires adult diapers to social internet commentary on your date mate to secret physical issues that range the gamut to having kids at home, etc. Whether it is the "Sticky" or the "Icky" Ms. Buckingham provides easy to follow and apply advice on how to survive and often thrive during a social tsunami that might feel yucky and sticky.

In Pursuit of a Scandalous Lady
Gayle Callen
9780061783418, $7.99

In 1846 London, everyone wonders who posed nude for artist Roger Eastland when he painted the Scandalous Lady portrait hanging in a gentleman's club. Julian Delane has a personal interest in locating the model as she stole a gem from his family ten years ago leading to his father's disgrace and death.

The Leland sisters, Rebecca and Susanna, and their cousin Elizabeth Cabot hope to keep their family from another disgraceful scandal that even having a duke to help would not stop the disaster. When Julian and his two friends Leo Wade and Peter Derby meet the three females, each claims to be the model. The three men bet they can prove who the real Scandalous Lady is. Julian believes Rebecca is the one and pursues her as brazenly wears his family's gem in public.

The first tale of a Victorian romantic trilogy is a wonderful story starring two strong protagonists and a solid support cast. Fast-paced throughout, sub-genre fans will relish the battling to love antics of Rebecca and Julian; and look forward to how well Leo and Peter do when they go up against the formidable Susanna and equally kick butt Elizabeth.

A Lady's Guide To Improper Behavior
Suzanne Enoch
9780061662218, $7.99

Adventurers' Club member Colonel Bartholomew James suffers from survivor guilt as he will never forget the massacre of his unit. In fact the often rude Colonel has a need to understand who set up the ambush and why as well as avenging his fallen comrades.

Lady Theresa Weller finds James' rough boorish exterior despicable for someone in polite society. However, she also recognizes he suffers from incredible anguish and she wants to sooth his tormented psyche, which is unlike someone who adheres to proper decorum at all times. Unable to resist her lure after witnessing her temper explode Bartholomew kisses Tess who is shocked to her soul as she wants more yet wants him to stop misbehaving. Determined to help him, Tess hopes to bring him solace with her caring that is turning into love; even risking her life to find out who betrayed his unit.

A Lady's Guide To Improper Behavior deftly brings together a soldier suffering from PTSD and a prim and proper Lady. He brings out her inner passionate misbehavior while she brings out his protective propriety. Together they make for a delightful historical romance as they fall in love investigating who set his unit up.

Unholy Ghosts
Stacia Kane
Del Rey
c/o Random House Trade Group Publicity
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780345515575, $7.99,

World-ruling Church of Real Truth field operative Chess Putnam travels to locations where claims of haunting are made. She usually exposes a sham as con artists work their trade but occasionally finds a real ghost that requires removal.

When Bump, the powerful drug dealer, calls in her massive debt she owes him, Chess has no choice but to agree. A drug addict, Chess heads to the abandoned Chester Airport where she finds a human sacrifice has led to a nasty powerful otherworldly essence much stronger than any she previously battled; one capable of stealing a myriad o f souls. Worse, she uncovers a conspiracy to destroy the Church of Real Truth.

This is an intriguing ultra dark but fresh urban fantasy starring a woman with a ton of issues that at times overwhelm the audience with too much angst and aches. Besides being a stoner in debt to a mobster and attracted to his Enforcer, Chess just does not seem mentally capable of handling her Banishing assignments that ironically do not pay the bills. Still even with the plot somewhat thin, fans who appreciate a forbidding environment starring a seemingly broken female will want to read Chess' survival in a world filled with the paranormal.

Blackout in Precinct Puerto Rico
Steven Torres
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312321130, $24.99,

In Angustias, Puerto Rico, town Sheriff Luis Gonzalo tells his young deputy Hector Pareda to enjoy his vacation time as he and his septuagenarian other deputy Emilio Collazo will work the beat. The two law enforcement officials make the rounds especially of the four parties reminding attendees to cause no trouble.

After a long day, Luis goes to sleep when he and his wife are awakened by screaming. He races outside follows the shrieks to the nearby Ferre home where the sixteen years old daughter Luisa is outside hysterical, totally naked except for a sock and scratching at her breast. She is taken to a hospital where the nurse on duty confirms she has been raped. All circumstantial evidence points to her unconscious intoxicated father, Francisco. Luis arrests him, but continues to investigate seeking further proof that the dad did the crime.

The latest Angustias police procedural is a superb tale with a great twist that shakes the sheriff, his elderly deputy, the townsfolk and readers. The key to the tale is the reaction of the townsfolk (including Luis and the teen victim's mother) who believe Francisco raped the daughter as the circumstantial evidence proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he did. With a look back in time to the case in an era when DNA testing did not exist, fans will feel the sheriff's myriad of emotions as he works a horrific case.

Die Twice
Andrew Grant
9780312540272, $24.99

British Naval Intelligence officer Lieutenant Commander David Trevellyan remains in the United States as a field operative. He completes his current assignment though is forced to depart from New York City (see Even) leaving behind seven corpses.

He goes to the British Consulate in Chicago as directed by his superior, liaison officer Richard Fothergill, who was just shot by an apparent turncoat. Fothergill has hardcore evidence of a traitor; British agent Tony McIntyre, who wounded him. He is selling a deadly gas to the African nation of Equatorial Myene. Trusting no one and understanding that deadly force is not just an acceptable option, it is expected to be used; as Fothergill wants McIntyre stopped at all costs and the sale prevented. As he searches for the rogue, Trevellyan learns other potential buyers are bidding on the nasty toxin.

This is an exhilarating action-packed thriller that never slows down for a respite. Mindful of Bourne and Bond, the fast-paced story line may be over the top of the Sears Tower, yet delighted fans will not want to put down Die Twice as Trevellyan makes sure the undertakers have customers.

The Nearest Exit
Olen Steinhauer
9780312622879, $25.99

Former master spy Milo Weaver is assigned to return to field work. He loathes the task as he is ordered to do something horrific for people who will throw him under the bus if there is a hint of scandal.

Apparently a mole is inside the agency. He or she must be purged before those in the cold are eliminated. Milo is to find the traitor and kill the traitor. The problem is no evidence surfaces inside the agency; only politicians taking credit and tossing blame. That is until he begins to unravel a double helix case of revenge, but by who remains unknown and the field threat imminent.

The return of The Tourist is a terrific complicated and purposely convoluted espionage thriller as even the identities of the agencies are murky. Weaver knows exactly the key traits of his superiors whom he detests and distrusts. These political desk jockey handler(s) make Lady Macbeth seem as if she lacks ambition as they will do anything including allowing field operatives to die to further their careers. Filled with a zillion suspects and multiple subplots, Weaver knows The Nearest Exit for a field agent is death.

Canaan's Gate
Kathryn R. Wall
9780312601843, $24.99

First Coast Bank of the Carolinas employee Cecelia Dobbs believes caregiver Kendra Blaine has embezzled a million dollars from her clients, elderly couple Thomas and Rebecca Castlemain. Cecilia realizes someone inside the First Coast bank assisted on the swindle. The more she digs, the more she is increasingly convinced that the Hilton Head couple has been cheated.

Kendra asks inquiry agent Bay Tanner to investigate. Before Bay can consider taking on the case, Rebecca dies of a heart attack. The Castlemain grandson Nick Potter suspects Kendra killed his grandma. As such he visits Simpson & Tanner, Inquiry Agents and hires Bay to investigate at about the same time that Cecilia vanishes.

Canaan's Gate has plenty going on with a complicated case and an almost as complex personal happenings. Bay adapts to the depressing revelation that she is now an "orphan" with the passing of the Judge and she and Red struggle with their respective roles in their new marriages and at the firm. The inquiry is cleverly devised so that the reader is not sure whether to suspect Kendra of felonious activity or not. Readers will enjoy this super entry and look forward to the next one as a hurricane is bearing down the Florida coast.

One Man's Paradise
Douglas Corleone
9780312611583, $24.99

Indifferent and lethargic, criminal defense attorney Kevin Corvelli failed to provide a proper defense on a capital case. His client was convicted of first degree murder and sent to prison where he was murdered. The man was innocent.

Depressed Kevin flees Manhattan for Honolulu where he works as a lawyer to pay off his debts. He and his clients, as in new York, share in common a mutual dislike and distrust of each other. When law student Joey Gianforte stands trial for allegedly murdering his former girlfriend after she left him, Corvelli takes on the defense. To his shock he cares about the outcome of this case and vows not to repeat his apathetic mistake laden defense that sent an innocent man to the pen and death.

This is a strong legal thriller that focuses on what a lawyer must do to technically prepare for a defense especially in a capital case. Kevin is a great protagonist who sees the Gianforte trial as a chance for redemption after failing to give his all in New York. One man's paradise will have readers looking at how their respective states handle the death penalty considering this past summer Troy Davis Supreme Court ruling especially the two dissenters' constitutional position on innocence.

The Tulip Virus
Danielle Hermans
9780312577865, $24.99

In 2007 in London Frank Schoeller calls his nephew British painter Alec with a plea for help. Dropping everything, Alec rushes over to his beloved uncle's house. There he finds Uncle Frank brutally battered and near death. Frank tells Alec not to call the police, get out of the house and take a four century old book on tulips with him.

Alec calls the cops, but insists he found his Uncle Frank dead. He needs to know why his relative was tortured and murdered. To do that he needs to know what is the value of a book focused on the 1636 Tulip War in Holland that his uncle gave him on his deathbed.. Obtaining the help of his Dutch friend Amsterdam antiques dealer Damien Vanlint, he investigates learning more than he wants about 1636 Holland and about the danger they now face due to their inquiry.

Although somewhat a standard exciting thriller, the tulip connection to seventeenth century Holland adds a fresh spin. Fast-paced throughout, fans will root for the amateur sleuths to survive the ordeal as several adversaries, unconcerned with collateral damage or using hostages, will kill again to keep a secret concealed.

Death in Show
Judi McCoy
Obsidian Mystery
c/o The Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451230485, $6.99,

There is nobody quite like professional dog walker Ellie Engleman as she talks to her canines and hears what her four legged friends have to say. It is a gift she hides from people so they will not commit her, but it is a prime reason her business is a success.

One of her paw pals is Lulu the Havanese who is a strong candidate for champion ribbons at the Mid-Atlantic Canine Challenge held at the Javits Convention Center. At the show, Lulu's handler dies. The police arrive with Ellie's boyfriend Detective Sam Ryder as the lead investigator who hopes he can Ellie her from snooping. Before she even learns that the handler's death was probably a homicide, Lulu's owner Mrs. Flora Steinman asks Ellie to be the handler in the competition. After surviving that ordeal, Flora thinks the cops are working too slowly on solving who murdered Arnie Norris, so knowing Ellie has solved some homicides before asks her to investigate. Ellie agrees placing herself in the crosshairs of a killer.

Although the police are unsure whether a homicide occurred, the audience knows from the onset the cause of death. The fascination in the latest Dog Walker Mystery lies with the unknown toxin, the method of delivery and the motive. Readers will enjoy the latest escapades of the heroine who frustrates Sam as she plunges into another amateur sleuth whodunit (see Hounding the Pavement and heir of the Dog) while her dog Rudy and her canine clients add amusing antics to the mix.

Reel Murder
Mary Kennedy
9780451230843, $6.99

Maggie gave up her well paying private practice as a clinical psychologist in Manhattan to host a radio show On The Couch With Maggie on WYME in Cypress Grove, Florida. Her show is below the bottom rung of the station; under the S wine Report. Most A list guests do not want to travel to the small hamlet, but a movie is coming to town thanks to director Hank Watson and Maggie's mother Lola Watson has a role.

The producer of Maggie's show thinks her ratings will jump if she gets the movie stars to come on the air with her. Maggie agrees to try to obtain interviews and learn what gossip is being tossed about. Hank asks Maggie to be a forensic consultant and she agrees as she can use the fee he offers her. Trouble occurs when someone shoots and kills the star Adriana St. James using a prop gun. Maggie investigates and learns that the actress was universally hated by all. Meanwhile someone does not like Maggie's sleuthing and sends her warning notes to back off or else. She is fortunate not to get killed when a prop light falls on the chair she just vacated and her mother is lured into an empty warehouse where she is almost is killed. Neither the sexy police detective or Maggie knows who the killer is, but the perp plans to keep it that way even if a second victim is needed.

The latest "Talk Radio" amateur sleuth (see Dead Air) is an amusing mystery with quirky characters and several suspects with powerful motives. Occurring on a movie set, intrepid but foolish Maggie investigates and does so in a believable manner befitting a forensic psychologist. Readers will enjoy reading Mary Kennedy's lighthearted whodunit as the heroine charms readers who will want her to conduct more future inquiries.

A Cast-off Coven
Juliet Blackwell
9780451230492, $6.99

Lily Ivory is a bona fide powerful witch who has made a home for herself in San Francisco as the owner of Aunt Cora's Closet where she sells vintage clothing. She is promised a trunk full of clothing if she exorcises what is scaring the students. They hear ghostly noises and movements at the San Francisco School of Fine Arts. The students and faculty also hear moans and footsteps that a ghost can't make, but nobody sees anyone walking.

She enters the building believing she is dealing with a ghost and in a sense she is right because someone committed murder at the school decades ago. When she goes to the bell tower she finds the dead body of billionaire businessman Jerry Becker. After the police rope off the murder scene and finish questioning everyone who was in the area, Lily enters the closet where the trunk is. She sees and hears something that makes her realize someone called up a demon but didn't bind it. With each new day, the demon grows stronger. While the police investigate the homicide, the demon targets humans with no defense against its assaults; only Lily stands in the way.

This awesome paranormal mystery stars a terrific heroine who for the first time in her solitary life has friends, a home, a job she loves, and a responsible boyfriend who does not belittle or assault her. The supernatural subplot does not overwhelm the whodunit because there are several human suspects who could be the killer and have summoned the demon. Lily has to figure out if she is dealing with one or two antagonists as either scenario is plausible.

Hers For The Evening
Jasmine Haynes
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425234174, $15.00,

"Three's a Crowd." Her best friend Devon hires Robyn the courtesan in order to bring life back into the marriage of Courtney and Seth.

"The Stand-In." Meanwhile Devon has dreamed of sex with her co-worker Hunter for years, but until now had no idea there ain't nothing like the real thing.

"Surrender to Me." Simon wants Haley so he sends her an e-mail telling her that she belongs to him so she needs to surrender her heart and body.

The three tales, somewhat linked through Courtesans, are fun erotic novellas although the plots are somewhat thin. Still entertaining and heated, fans will enjoy the sexual escapades between the clients and the Courtesans (see Yours for the Night).

Cathryn Fox
9780451229960, $15.00

Sunray accompanied by other shapeshifters wanting to be free wolves moves from her Alpha and the pack in Serene, New Hampshire to Chicago. They settle near where she was viciously assaulted and changed while her lover Ray was murdered one hundred years ago.

Ray has returned having been reincarnated as Kane. When they meet, Sunray knows he is her soulmate. However she also realizes they cannot be united as fate proves cruel since he is a lycan hunter who thrives on killing her kind. Still they team up to end the deadly spree of a rogue shifter, but though he wants her, he cannot get pass the concept that she a member of a species his Instinctive impulsiveness loathes.

The latest Eternal Pleasure shapeshifter romance is a terrific reincarnation second chance at love erotic thriller. The lead couple is a creative pairing as they have a tragic history and apparently an even more tragic future once the case is over. Filled with suspense, readers will appreciate the dangerous Chicago joy ride between Sunray and Kane as love seems not enough to prevent the hunter stalking the she-Lycan.

The Marriage Bureau For Rich People
Farahad Zama
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425234242, $15.00,

In Kapu, India, Mr. Ali tried retirement only to find it tedious. Needing something to do as the ennui is fossilizing his brain, the bored Muslim opens up a marriage bureau. Mr. Ali is surprised to find his endeavor successful as clients seeking a mate that meets their stipulation flock to him. He hires Aruna, a single young woman from an impoverished Brahmin family.

Mr. and Mrs. Ali struggle with their activist son Rehman, who believes in human rights while Aruna tussles with an increasingly hostile situation at home. Ironically Aruna would prefer to be a client and knows who she wants, but being penniless that is a bitter unrequited dream because as the Romanian doctor accompanied by his family seeks a more suitable match.

This is a very reflective contemporary drama that digs deeply into modern India's struggles with religious, gender and caste egalitarianism when the country has an institutionalized history of inequality. Yet even with these powerful topics, it is the cast who make the relationships work; as for instance Mr. Ali looks forward to his next fight with his son. Although many of the problems between people are resolved too easily and rapidly, fans will enjoy Mr. Ali's pragmatic solutions to the age old problems of love vs. tradition.

Open Country
Kaki Warner
9780425234303, $15.00

In 1871 at the suggestion of her sister's doctor, nurse Molly McFarlane travels from Atlanta to Savannah to see her sibling Nellie who is dying from lung disease. Molly's brother-n-law Daniel Fletcher is nasty to her; telling her to go home. Nellie pleads with Molly to run off with her two preadolescent children from a previous marriage, as she fears for them under Daniels martinet abuse.

As Molly flees with her niece and nephew, in nearby Jeanerette, Rustin lectures Daniel for failing to find what his late father-in-law hid as the wealthy man plots a second Southern rebellion because war is money. Meanwhile, out west a train wreck leaves Patrick Henry "Hank" Wilkins near death, remorseful but desperate Molly marries him so she can inherit at least an insurance claim to take care of the kids and hide from her odious brother-in-law's operatives. Instead Hank recovers, but is clueless re marriage and a train wreck. He takes his wife and her wards to his family ranch in the New Mexico Territory where his family embraces the newcomers. As they fall in love and his memory returns, her Georgia roots are arriving.

The second of the Blood Rose trilogy (see The Pieces of the Sky) is a wonderful historical tale starring a strong ensemble cast. A key fresh premise is the push for a new Confederacy revolt as personal economic gain due to war motivates Rustin and his cohorts, who stole gold from the south several years ago. With an intriguing lead couple whose marriage is shaky as he knows part of the truth in spite of two frightened children needing them and the rest of the Wilkins, fans will appreciate this superb Reconstruction Era romance.

Skein of the Crime
Maggie Sefton
978042523438, $24.95

She used to work at an East Coast CPA firm, but moved to the university town of Fort Connor where she opened up her own consulting service. She comes home one night and opens her patio door to let her Rottweiler Carl in when she sees a young woman nearby. When she speaks to her, the woman fails to respond or react to her surroundings. It is rather quickly that Kelly realizes the college student is very high; she calls 911 and the responders take the female away by ambulance.

A month later Kelly goes to the knitting store in the House of Lampspun to help the proprietor. Also there is Holly, the girl on the porch, who is sober and no longer attends so many parties. A few days later, Kelly hears that Holly died of an overdose near the path to the golf course by Kelly's home. Holly's boyfriend Tommy, who she was dependent on, is upset and intends to find the seller. His mother begs him not to get involved because he can lose his medical scholarship. Kelly volunteers to snoop and keep Tommy informed. She asks Patty, a party girl, who was friends with Holly, to ask around to find out who was selling. Kelly follows up with each clue Polly provides and her own questioning of others until she concludes that Holly did not die from an accidental overdose; but to prove it remains seemingly out of reach.

The readers will quickly be engaged in Maggie Sefton's latest amateur sleuth (see Drop Dead Stitch) due to the plight of the college student. Putting aside why Kelly investigates, she conducts a believable inquiry when she asks questions by having someone accompany her when she interviews someone. Enhancing the story line is the deteriorating relationship between Kelly and her boyfriend Steve the architect. Readers will enjoy the latest case as the protagonist knits together the death of a college student.

Taste of Temptation
Cheryl Holt
9780425235140, $7.99

In 1814 Philippe Dubois sells desperate Helen Hamilton the Spinster's Cure that he insists will have her wed in four weeks. Since she has no money he accepts her payment after she is married.

Thirty years old Tristan Odell warns his eighteen year old half brother the Earl Michael Seymour not to mess with the servants. Illegitimate Odell struggles with what is best for Michael and his twelve year old half sister Rose as he wonders why his father whom he never recognized him named him their guardian. He seeks a governess though Michael's cousin Maud Seymour insists they do not need one. She plans for Michael to wed her daughter.

Helen applies for the job, but Odell rejects her because she is beautiful. She begs him for the sake of her sisters eighteen year old Jane and twelve year old Amelia as they were kicked off their estate. When Michael grabs her, Odell accuses her of being a hooker. Thirsty she drinks the elixir and tells him she cursed him with the Spinster's Cure

Helen visits Madam Lauretta to arrange a mistress position for her. Odell escorts Michael there hoping to reduce the earl's sexual prowling of the staff. He is stunned when Lauretta introduces Odell to Helen. He hires her as Rose's governess and welcomes her two sisters into the mansion. Odell begs her to lift the curse. Michael and Jane are attracted to each other while Maud is outraged by the hussies honing in on her and her daughter's turf.

The Regency Cinderella plot lines are fun with their adult spins while the cast is extremely strong yet diverse in personality though three extended families make up the storyline. Although the story line is too similar in many key ways to the first tale though refreshed somewhat by a second romance, sub-genre readers will look forward to more Promise of Pleasure tales starring the Spinster's Cure.

Welcome to Harmony
Jodi Thomas
9780425235102, $7.99

Although they named the town they established Harmony, the three Texas families who founded the place should have named it acrimony as the McAllen, Matheson, and Truman brood detest one another. They compete with one another over who should run Harmony while Sheriff Alexandra McAllen goes on drinking binges every Saturday night with fire chief Hank Matheson always nearby to clean her up

Teen Reagan worked in a nursing home where she enjoyed hearing elderly resident Beverly Truman tell stories about her hometown of Harmony. When Beverly dies, Regan decides to relocate in Harmony; borrowing the late woman's surname. Beverly's brother Jeremiah realizes almost immediately upon meeting Reagan that they do not share bloodlines, but decides not to expose her. Instead he allows her to keep her ruse as he welcomes her into the family.

However, the divided town must come together as a prairie fire bears down on it. Especially the three leading rival families or Harmony will be no more.

This fine small-town portrayal will remind readers of Debbie Macomber's Cedar Grove although Harmony has its own stamp, that of talented Jodi Thomas. The story line is mostly a sweet concoction of townsfolk welcoming outsiders like Reagan and readers. The prairie fire and the Sheriff's drinking problem add tension and issues to an engaging but otherwise sugary portrait of a small Texas town.

Haunting Warrior
Erin Quinn
9780425234143, $15.00

Rory MacGrath works at night at the Low Down bar, a dive in which only cockroaches frequent as the place is near the Pacific yet far enough that one cannot smell the ocean. He is haunted at night with recurring dreams that happen even when he dozes while watching ESPN. A woman whose attire looks like it comes from an Irish museum keeps shadowing him and his late grandmother pleads with him to go home.

Finally unable to cope with ghosts and never the same since his dad vanished into the ancient tome The Book of Fennore, he heeds his grandma's plea and travels to Ireland to the very place where his father disappeared. However, instead of modern Ireland's castle ruins, he goes back in time to medieval Eire where he meets the woman of his dreams, Saraid. As they fall in love, both fear their destiny is death, not being together.

This is an interesting Irish time travel romance with a strong support cast in both eras and in the mortal and supernatural realms. The overall enjoyable story line feels unnecessarily stretched in the middle, but fans will still enjoy Rory's adventures; as he meet the Haunting Beauty of his dreams only not in his body but that of her fiance while evil prowls waiting to destroy both of them and their respective families.

Toast Mortem
Claudia Bishop
9780425230282, $6.99

When her husband Myles the investigator went somewhere in the Middle East on a government assignment, his wife Sarah "Quill" Quilliam-McHale returns to her rooms at the Inn at Hemlock Falls. She is the owner and manager with her half-sister Meg who is also the chef. It is Meg who is upset due to her gourmet meals being ignored as everyone is dining at the La Bonne Goute Cuklinary Arts Academy whose owner Bernard Le Vasque wrote the bestselling cookbook Brilliance in the Kitchen and had a five year run on TV as a master chef.

Bernard is an arrogant peacock who believes he can get away with anything he desires. He asks Meg to work for him, but she in a rage throws a sharp meat cleaver at the pompous chef. Meg is arrested, but get's out on bail. The sisters steal their rival's pastry chef Clarissa Sparrow to work at the Inn. Levesque gets even by arranging dirty tricks to drive the innkeepers crazy. When Qull goes the Academy, she finds his murdered corpse. The police find evidence to arrest Clarissa, but her sibling employers believe she is innocent so set out to prove so; even dodging bullets to achieve their goal.

The latest Inn at Hemlock Falls mystery is a fun tale that has a sort of throwback feel to when Quill was not married as Myles is away for most of the exciting purebred amateur sleuth story line. The victim is vile so much so that seemingly everyone at his Academy, even his bookkeeping wife, loathes him; thus suspects abound. Series fans will appreciate the antics of the mom and the chef as they set out to find a killer.

The Threadbare Heart
Jennie Nash
9780425234105, $15.00

University of Vermont Professors Lily and Tom are in Santa Barbara visiting her octogenarian mom Eleanor along with their two adult sons, one daughter in law and one grandson in California. Their married son is having marital issues, but overall everything seems okay to the sandwich generation. Trice married and quite wealthy from her business, Eleanor offers to buy the nearby Halewood avocado ranch for her daughter, who initially says no as she prefers not to depend on her mother's money.

However, she and Tom discuss the potential purchase and they agree to a change in lifestyle to pursue middle age dreams. She no longer will update the textbook she has published and he stops writing a new science curriculum. Instead he will start over with the ranch while she turns to her passion knitting. He will grow and sell avocados, she will stitch clothing and other items. The conversion seems smooth even with her commanding mom nearby until the deadly fire.

The story line for the first half or so of the novel is a warm extended family drama with the cast having different personal crisis. The inferno that wipes out much of Lily's family changes the plot to a person struggling with grief as she slowly though her knitting finds some sense but wonders if her seemingly coldhearted mother is right that giving one's heart away is not worth the cost when death of the loved one is payment due. Although Eleanor is too harsh on her daughter at a time she can use hugs not tough love, she remains consistent that her theory is love hurts. Fans will enjoy the Threadbare Heart that reads more like two interrelated novellas starring a middle age woman trying to make a sense out of life.

No Will But His
Sarah A. Hoyt
9780425232514, $14.00

Hoping to have learned from her late second cousin Anne Boleyn, ambitious poor orphan Katherine Howard believes she can survive being the bride of King Henry VIII in spite of her bloodlines; even if she wanted to say no, which she does not, Katherine knows no one lives to refuse the King anyway. Thus she shrewdly plans to foster the innocence of youth behind a docile nature that focuses on keeping her ultra proud spouse happy as her philosophy in No Will But His. When the aging Henry is unable to perform in bed, she takes his cousin on as a lover praying for a successor as the monarch's health deteriorates. However, like those before her, she is betrayed and exposed, and in her ca se imprisoned with her queenly role stripped away just a little over one year on the throne by Parliament before being executed for adultery.

The engaging fourth Wives of King Henry VIII biographical fiction novel is an intriguing look at Katherine Howard based on a different premise than the usual perception. Instead of the typical writing of Howard as a moron based on her writings, Sarah A. Hoyt believes the woman was clever, perhaps too cunning. Thus historical fiction fans will relish a different take on the rise and fall of Queen Katherine Howard.

Mrs. Jeffries Speaks her Mind
Emily Brightwell
9780425235249, $6.99

In Victorian London, wealthy spinster Olive Kettering hears footsteps and tries to flee to safety, but knows someone is following her. She gets out of her mansion and runs to a person she is happy to see only that individual shoots her in the head. Inspector Witherspoon, who has a 100% homicide clearance rate thanks to his servants secretly assisting him, leads the inquiry.

He learns no one liked Olive, not her peers or servants whom she treated like vermin. She was also estranged from her blood relatives, Dorien who refused to get married and Patricia of whom Olive disapproved of the man she married. Olive was involved with the Society of the Humble Servant led by Reverend Samuel Richards. The victim rejected the concept he was a con artist as she believed in a vengeful god like he preaches. All the suspects offer viable alibis, but some lied. Using the information Witherspoon unknowingly gives her, the housekeeper Mrs. Jeffries and her team is determined to find the killer for their boss, not aware of the danger this endeavor provides.

Every Mrs. Jefferies historical cozy is a special unique treat as the recurring characters change and grow, and this time a new member to the household joins the crew and Betsy provides a surprising revelation. The whodunit is straightforward fun with Mrs. Jefferies and the rest of the servants finding clues and Mrs. Jeffries feeding them to her employer with him remaining clueless to what she is doing. The sleuthing cast makes for a wonderful Victorian mystery.

Vampire Mistress
Joey Hill
9780425234181, $15.00

Gideon killed the vampire who had just killed a human. However, he has no joy in the hunt or the slaying ever since his brother Jacob became a third mark servant giving up his soul to vampire Lady Elyssa. Filled with rage he goes to Club Atlantis a hangout for the BDSM crowd. He rejects a mocking, physical and psychological mistresses; each time destroying the room. Finally club manager Anwyn Naime decides to tame the beast personally.

Anwyn tells him to surrender to her as Daegan the vampire arrives to watch. She says to the hunter three women will strip and restrain him with straps. Gideon explodes and breaks furniture, but makes sure his mistress is safe. Anwyn orders him to keep her women safe while they strap him up. He obeys as they chain him and will play with him until he comes. When he says no more, she frees him. He knows she is the one, but goes berserk when he sees the vampire mark on her. She tells him to leave and hopes he gets what he wants, death. As he leaves, three visitors led by Barnabas demand to see Daegan informing Anwyn they have a message for the vampire. Gideon realizes what Barnabas meant. He finds Anwyn in the alley raped and bitten by Barnabas; she will need her sire's blood or go insane. Daegan takes her inside and gives orders but allows Gideon to come because Anwyn asked for him.

This is a heated paranormal romance with a strong lead triangle deftly handled as a key plot element. The threat of the heroine to suicide is fascinating yet repetitive as she struggles with the unwanted change. Readers will enjoy Joey Hill's entertaining urban fantasy erotica with pleasing BDSM scenes starring three lead characters refreshingly different especially having a dominatrix becoming a vampiress.

Grace Under Pressure
Julie Hyzy
9780425235218, $7.99

After years in the big city, Grace Wheaton came home to take care of her dying mother Olivia. After her mother died, Grace remains in the house willed to her while taking in two borders who have become close friends. Grace works as the assistant curator at Marshfield Manor, a place she and her late mom cherish. The estate contains all kinds of artifacts of historical values, a museum, a hotel, and secret passageways.

One day a giant man arrives creating a disturbance that Grace deals with while at the same time in another part of the estate, a brouhaha occurs. Her boss Abe, a close friend of the owner billionaire Bennett Marshfield, is murdered. Grace assumes the job of curator though not formally named even temporarily. Bennett lets her keep it through inertia. Unsatisfied with the pace of the police investigation, Grace starts an inquiry that stuns her with Ponzi schemes, greedy relatives, secret assignations, and an unwanted date with the killer.

Allowing the White House Chef is given a respite, Julie Hyzy opens her newest amateur sleuth with a magnificent whodunit. Using her curator skills, Grace asks questions and gathers data as she has with her late mom's missing papers that Olivia described a priceless treasures. Although a map of the overall obviously enormous estate and a room layout of the manor house would help readers know where the actions is, sub-genre fans will thoroughly enjoy the first Manor House mystery.

Murder on Lexington Avenue
Victoria Thompson
9780425234372, $24.95

Mr. Edward Higginbotham of the Institution for the Improved Instruction of Deaf Mutes visits businessman and school patron Nehemiah Wooten at the latter's office. He plans to discuss with Wooten the desires of the man's pretty sixteen year old daughter Electra, a student at the school; she wants to marry a New York Institute for the Deaf and Dumb teacher Adam Oldham. Higginbotham finds Wooten dead.

Because NYPD Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy has a son who attends the "Lexington School" that Higginbotham runs and the witness asks for him, he is assigned the lead as the brass believes he brings insider information. This proves true as he understands the deep philosophical divide between the rival two schools teaching deaf children. The DS quickly knows the murder weapon is a brass loving cup and learns the deceased is a believer in eugenics as lectured recently by Alexander Graham Bell; as such Wooten opposed two deaf people marrying out of fear they will pass on the hearing flaw to their offspring. However, Malloy makes little progress so when a second homicide in the Wooten family occurs, he hesitantly asks midwife Sarah Brandt, who has helped him on previous Manhattan murder mysteries, to provide him advice.

The latest Gaslight Era murder mystery is a terrific entry that uses the background like references to Bell to set the era while also providing insight into the two predominate education theories of teaching deaf students. The whodunit is complex as Malloy works his investigation assisted by Sarah, but has too many suspects from family, business and school to rule out. Readers will appreciate the latest Victoria Thompson's historical investigate tale.

A Killer Plot
Ellery Adams
9780425235225, $7.99

In Oyster Bay, North Carolina the prodigal daughter Olivia Limoges returns but she keeps to herself. Her only outlets of affection are her dog Haviland and her goal is to finish her novel. She is forty, beautiful and rich, but nobody can get past her shell she erected around herself. No one until she meets Camden Ford, a gossip columnist interested in writing a fictional account of the Talbot family concentrating on the rich patriarchal tyrant Dean who wants to build a housing complex in the town.

Something about Camden charms her and makes her agree to mingle with his book group. She joins the Bayside Back Writers and attends their meeting at the cottage near the lighthouse. Olivia is heartbroken when she finds Camden's murdered body in an alley. She vows to find his killers who left haiku on the victim's body. Before the townsfolk can get over the homicide Olivia finds another corpse. Dean's heir Blake and his sweetheart come to Oyster Bay to obtain approval for the housing project. While Blake and his father's trusted partner Max are trying to win over city council, Olivia investigates. Someone wants her to stop threatening her dog and eventually her.

This Book by the Bay Tarheel amateur sleuth mystery is an enjoyable tale due to the main protagonist who is independent and forceful; she knows what she wants and goes after it, in this case finding Carmden's killer. The support cast are developed enough to either enhance Olivia's investigation or her as readers will appreciate the heroine's often inquiry into who killed her friend and why.

Now You See Her
Merline Lovelace
9780425234761, $7.99

Having time on her hands while waiting for her date to pick her up at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Air Force Future Systems Test Cadre 3 chief Second Lieutenant Samantha Spade runs a test on a new type of goggles. To the shock of the "Techno diva", the goggles work perfectly. However even more stunning she sees a man in a ski mask holding a gun while stalking some prey.

Sam manages to warn bystanders and especially the apparent victim Sergeant Diane Roth, who runs over the sniper with her SUV. To both women's amazement, the dead culprit is a soldier suffering from PTSD; who served with his chosen victim in Afghanistan. As investigators and the media look into the case and things about Diane surface, Sam fears somehow she made All the Wrong Moves.

The latest Samantha Spade military mystery is an enjoyable investigative tale in which the experimental gizmos and the Air Force bureaucracy enhance the prime plot, Sam's unofficial inquiry. Fast-paced throughout, readers will enjoy this fine thriller as revelations re media heroine Diane keep popping up, which has Sam digging deeper into why the assassination attempt.

Night of the Living Deed
E. J. Copperman
9780425235222, $7.99

After her divorce from Steven AKA as the Swine, Alison Kirby wants to start over with her nine years old daughter Melissa. She buys a seven bedroom four bath fixer upper beach house and does her own repairs. Her plan is to open up a guest house; sans breakfast. Her project is coming along nicely until a bucket of compound falls on her head; knocking Alison out cold. When she awakens she sees the ghost of Maxie Moline and her bodyguard private detective Paul Harrison.

They both died in the house with the official verdict being a double suicide. Paul insists they never took the sleeping pills that caused their deaths; instead he claims to Alison someone poisoned them. They plead with Alison to look into their contention, but she says no until Maxie's antics drive her crazy so feeling like a victim of emotional erosion she agrees. Alison soon receives threatening emails and phone calls in which she is told they want "it" as she investigates what happened to the ghosts and links that to the threats to her. She finds a suspect, but to prove her belief requires her to employ extraordinary measures as deadlines leave her in a cemetery on Halloween night.

Witty, charming and magical describe the entertaining first Haunted Guest House mystery. The spirits interact with Alison, her daughter and mother as if they are alive; especially moxie Maxie with her antics to blackmail the heroine into investigating her demise. In between home repairs, a very frightened Alison tries to determine who is terrifying her and if the threat is tied to the deaths of her ghostly houseguests. Her trepidation and her relationship with her daughter make for an enjoyable paranormal amateur sleuth tale.

Allyson James
9780425234693, $7.99

Stormwalker Janet Begay just wants a normal life, but knows that is impossible. She leaves behind her wild man of magical fire Mick who is able to release her dangerous excess energy levels and travels to Magellan, Arizona where magical vortexes converge. There she hopes to learn what happened to the police chief's daughter Amy McGuire, who mysteriously vanished.

However, Janet may wish for a normal life, but besides being a Stormwalker, her mother is a nasty goddess from hell. Meanwhile her Mick follows her, but he still conceals his past from her especially why he is one of a few essences who can deal with Janet's Stormwalker magic. Janet has other issues to contend with as she believes her dearest mom is behind the vanishing and much more. It is as if she decided the time to confront her daughter is now.

This is a super sublime urban fantasy starring a wonderful heroine who with a mom like she has finds trust uneasy to give especially when she feels the person she wants to give her heart to hides something about his nature from her. The story line is action-packed with a magical mirror providing jocularity; but this tale belongs to the title character who is the daughter of the mother form hell.

The Demon In Me
Michelle Rowen
9780425234686, $7.99

Nervous Eden Riley starts her new consulting work for the Toronto police department. The psychic has vibes that lead her and skeptical police detective Ben Hansen to a serial killer with a knife who is shot to death near her. Out of the dead person's mouth oozes a dark smoke that hammers into Eden.

Stunned Eden is farther shocked when she hears a voice speaking to her from inside her brain. Darrak the demon has moved into her body with plans to fully possess it. Desperate to remove the demon, Eden tries an exorcism, but that fails. Instead she cuts a deal with Darrak. She will work on removing a three century old curse that haunts him if he assists her with her love life making it with Ben.

The Living in Eden first tale is an amusing psychic police procedural. Although the plot is thin, Eden more than makes up for it with her possession and vibes as she works her day job as a private sleuth seeking lost items and dogs, and her consulting with the police. Ironically her psychic skills humanize the demon so that Eden is also attracted to him. Readers who enjoy a fun frolic will want to read this entertaining Canadian paranormal mystery.

Straight Up
Deirdre Martin
9780425234662, $7.99

When her fiance jilted farmer Aislinn McCafferty, she vowed no more men in her life unless they are sheep. Soon afterward her parents died in a car accident. Grieving and angry she wants to be left alone with her flock though her sister is visiting her and her elderly loyal employee remains on her sheep farm.

Fleeing the New York Irish mob, Liam O'Brien hides in Ballycraig, Ireland. When he meets the acrimonious Aislinn, he wants her but she rejects him. Cocky, he makes a bet with the local pub owner that he will get her to go out with him. However, as Liam gets to know Aislinn, he wishes he never made that stupid wager as he is falling in love even as the doubting Aislinn begins to reconsider the charm of four legs vs. two and a half legs. Still refuses him; as she expects him to return across the Atlantic back to the big city.

Straight Up is an enjoyable romance starring two initially unlikable lead characters who grow on the reader. Liam has an ego larger than the Atlantic while Aislinn has had her esteem shattered. Although the thin plot is mindful of Doc Hollywood and filled with an eccentric secondary cast who like fans take bets on the outcome as Deidre Martin provides an amusing tale of love.

Sweetest Little Sin
Christine Wells
9780425234808, $7.99

To the Ton a female almost thirty years old is a spinster on the shelf with no hope of marriage. Louisa Brooke may be a spinster, but she knows the only man she wants is Jardine although he shows no interest in her.

Jardine is the Crown's top spymaster who needs help to root out a most likely traitor. He asks Louisa to assist him. He wants her to flirt with the prime suspect, which she readily agrees to do mostly to make her unrequited beloved jealous although she doubts she will succeed. When her activity places her in danger, Jardine wants her to gracefully back out; as he fears for Louisa's life and knows an error caused by his unprofessional desire for her could result in her death and mission failure

This is an exhilarating espionage historical romantic suspense starring a wonderful courageous heroine and a professional spymaster who regrets placing the woman he once ruined but still cherishes from afar in peril. Fast-paced and filled with twists, fans will fully appreciate Christine Wells' Sweetest Little Sin as the spy wants to come in form the cold for the heat emitted by his beloved, but must keep her safe after endangering her while also completing the mission.

Amethyst Destiny
Pamela Montgomerie
9780425234709, $7.99

Following her cousin's wedding the bride gives to Julia Brodie the amethyst necklace that she believes brought her love to her. Julia puts on the necklace and instantly leaves her world.

Fifteen years ago Talon McClure received a magical ring. Using the ring, he began a career finding lost objects. He is so good at it; his customers call him the "Wizard". His current assignment is to find a golden lamp and chalice. However, for the first time since he put on the ring, he fails. Desperate, he makes a wish for help and immediately Julia appears. Attracted from the first, the couple succeeds in obtaining the objects, but flees as the lamp owner gives chase. As they begin to share their respective pasts, the lamp directs them to a castle occupied by misfits like themselves while evil pursues them.

The newest Jewels of Time fantasy romance (see Sapphire Dreams) is a wonderful entry in a fun series. The lead couple is a fascinating pairing as she has the necklace and he the ring, but it is their hearts that make the magic. The audience will relish Pamela Montgomerie's entertaining tale.

Beyond the Shadows
Jess Granger
9780425234150, $15.00

Commander Yara heads to home be queen of Azra. She does not want the Azralen throne, but is taking it in hopes of preventing a civil war from breaking out.

Used to manipulating women like he had with his sister Azralen Captain Cyani (see Beyond the Rain) until she found love with a Byralen sex slave, rebel Cyn hates the ruling family. To keep the future monarch from preventing the war, he kidnaps the soon to be queen, taking her on to his ship. To his chagrin he is attracted to her although he cannot fathom why as she is obstinate and demanding. She is attracted to the rebel, but has not lost sight of the fact he has betrayed her and interfered with her peace mission.

The second "Beyond" thriller is loaded with action, action and more action; that in many ways is too much as it somewhat detracts from the romantic subplot especially missing Cyn's sacrificial Tales of two Cities values. Still filled with excitement and adventure, readers who relish a high octane science fiction romance will want to ride with Yara and Cyn as she wants to prevent a war and he wants to ignite a war.

Never Less a Lady
Mary Jo Putney
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9781420103298, $6.99,

In 1812 Spain Lord Alexander Randall leads his unit in battle when he receives the cold note from his Uncle Lord Daventry to come home immediately as his cousin died making him the heir. Randall hates Daventry, but is sick of war so he decides to return to England. He also chooses to take his time before seeing his odious uncle who raised him when his parents died, but Daventry allowed his son Branford to bully the younger lad.

Randall stops at his friend Ashton's home to thank him and his wife Mariah (see Loving a Lost Lord) for saving his life last year when he came to London wounded. Mariah suggests Randall visit her sister, but he might only to see Mrs. Julia Bancroft who he is attracted to though he hid his feelings from everyone.

Three men kidnap Julia. Randall learns of the abduction and gives chase. When the thugs stop, Randall grabs Julia from them when she goes to pee. They find shelter and she explains she was forced into marriage at sixteen to Daventry's son Branford. He abused her and when she was pregnant started to kill her. She pushed him and he died when he cracked his head. His father blames her, but is unaware that Branford's assault killed their unborn. He realizes she is no commoner midwife, but instead is his aristocratic cousin-in-law, a duke's daughter. To keep her safe, Randall offers to marry Julia with an escape clause for her sake while also knowing the additional enemies he will make.

This is an exciting character driven Regency romance starring a wonderful lead couple who marry to keep her safe, but fall in love. The support characters are strong especially the outspoken women. Although her stepson adapts to his new world with hardly a blink, which simplifies everything for the lead couple, fans will enjoy this rousing sequel.

Stealing Kathryn
Jacquelyn Frank
9781420109849, $7.99

Adrian serves as a middle man who steals dark energy from the nightmares people suffer and delivers if to his masters. However he has paid a high price for his servitude as the once handsome hunk has been converted into a beast due to the dark forces he absorbs.

Known through history as Sandman, Morpheus and other aliases, Adrian visits Kathryn intent on doing his job, but finds he needs much more from her. Obsessed with owning her, he abducts her to add to his bounty inside his castle. Shocking him, Kathryn is repulsed by the creature that kidnapped her. Shocking her, she is actually attracted to the fiend although she abhors being his prisoner. Still with his sister explaining who he is, she begins to see the diminishing flicker of light that still glimmers inside his heart and plans to make it shine with love.

Stealing Kathryn is a terrific dark romantic fantasy starring a fascinating villain and the female who redeems his soul. Although Adrian is an intriguing energy collector, Kathryn's seeming flightiness makes the tale as she falls in love, but her doubts about her beloved' redemption lead her bouncing back and forth between flight (from him) and fight (for him). Jacquelyn Frank's second Gatherers' novel (see Hunting Julian) is a wonderful character driven tale.

Sex and the Single Earl
Vanessa Kelly
9781420106558, $6.99

In 1815 the Earl, Simon St. James knows he must marry; the only woman who interests him is intelligent Sophie Stanton. It does not hurt that the obstinate strong willed female, who opposes child labor, owns land with an abundance of coal; something Simon needs for his project.

Sophie loves Simon and hopes to get him one day to reciprocate. However, her activism against the use of child labor places her at odds with the man she loves. As they argue, fuss and fight, they agree to a marriage of convenience as they debate principles. Each knows the intelligence and passion of their disagreement heats up the bedroom as much as the den.

The key to this delightfully fresh Regency romance is the background of the industrial revolution as the lead couple inconveniently is on opposite sides of the debate. The main couple is a wonderful pairing as each has strong arguments supporting their hypothesis. Vanessa Kelly captures the essence of the era below the typical elegant hedonism of the Ton as her lad duet (and others) takes sides on complex societal issues like child labor.

Kentucky Bride
Hannah Howell
9781420104653, $6.99

In 1794 Langleyville, Pennsylvania the death of her father hurts but society girl Clover Sherwood is stunned to learn he left her mom Agnes, her two younger twin brothers and her with nothing except poverty and scandal. Her fiance Thomas Dillingsworth politely dumps her by a letter and the Sherwood family high class friends do likewise as if they are lepers.

Rugged Scotsman Ballard MacGregor arrives in town seeking a wife. He is taken aback when obviously upper class Clover proposes to him. He thinks she is pretty and sweet, but will never survive life on the Kentucky frontier. Still he marries her and his trepidation proves ominous as she struggles to adapt to settlement life. Clover is ready to leave defeated while Ballard still hopes to win her love; not realizing it is her love f or him that has ready to leave.

Proving she once had a life outside the Highlands, this is a reprint of a Hannah Howell 1994 early American historical romance starring two likeable lead protagonists. The story line is owned by courageous Clover as she struggles to make a new life on the frontier. Although a misconception plays a pivotal role that feels unnecessary as the lead couple has plenty on their plate with her adjustment from upper class Pennsylvanian to working Kentucky woman in a an overall wonderful Americana.

Something Scandalous
Christie Kelley
9781420108767, $6.99

In 1817 London, on his deathbed, Lord Kendal confesses to his beloved daughter Elizabeth that he is not her biological father. Thus the heir to his fortune resides across the ocean in America though odious Londoner relatives Richard and Caroline want the ducal and only need to remove the Canadian usurper Edward and his son. The distant relative's oldest son and a family retinue arrive to take ownership of the estate while a stunned Elizabeth grieves her loss but also searches for her mother's diary to learn the identity of the man who sired her.

Virginian William Altherton and his sibling horde invade the mansion he inherited when his dad Edward died nine months ago. He plans to sell off his inheritance so that he can go home to get married. He is unhappy to learn he will not be leaving for America for several months. Elizabeth escorts the Atherton bunch around London and assists them in proper behavior amidst the Ton. As rumors fly that she is related to Americans, William and Elizabeth are attracted to one another. He helps her on her paternity suit quest until his fiancee Abigail Mason arrives in town to reclaim what is hers, but he now has doubts.

This is an action packed Regency romantic suspense that will have the audience clamoring for more Atherton adventures. The lead couple is an intriguing pairing of two outsiders, but it is the strong secondary cast that brings them and the era to life while also brining tension to the superb story line. The sub-genre audience will enjoy Christie Kelley's entertaining historical tale.

Lord Of The Isles
Debbie Mazzuca
9781420110050, $4.99

The long held belief re the MacLeod mythos is that one of them was once married to a fairy princess. Thus whenever a miracle is needed they just need to wave the fairy flag they possess.

Laird Rory MacLeod is dying from battle wounds received protecting his clan. His brother believes the time for a MacLeod Miracle is now so he waves the legendary flag. Almost instantly, after leaving a taxi, a bewildered Dr. Ali Graham finds herself in Rory's death bed. She has no idea how she got to late sixteenth century Scotland when she was just in the twenty-first century Scotland. One thing is for sure her arrival and her medical skills prove to be miracles as Rory recovers. However his clan and others believe his guardian angel is a witch; not just because of her saving his life, but because she has bewitched the widower laird into falling in love with her. He decides to use the last of the Fairy skill to send his beloved to safety back to the future.

This whimsical time travel romance is a fun read as the hero and his healer fall in love while the clan and others allow superstition to rule their minds as most assume she is a witch due to her saving Rory's life and devilishly charming him with a love spell. Readers will appreciate the escapades of a modern day physician in 1570 Highlander Scotland where her knowledge and skills could lead to her burning at the stake.

Too Hot For A Rake
Pearl Wolf
9781420104813, $6.99

In 1818 engaged Lady Helena Fairchild feels like a fool after she makes a scandalous error when she inadvertently ended up in the bed of the king of rakes Desmond Bannington. Her engagement ends immediately and to abate the scandal the Marquis escorts the banished woman to rusticate at a friend's estate.

Desmond is known for his French brothel residence, but upon inheriting the title believes he needs to amend his immoral behavior and to act with the decorum of a Marquis. However, he is attracted to Helena, who besides being beautiful is bodacious. Unable to resist her lure, he starts a seduction; unaware that someone willing to kill lurks in the background waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting duet.

The second Fairchild Regency romance (see Too Hot for a Spy) is an engaging historical mostly due to the antics of the lead couple. Desmond, banned by his father a dozen years ago, now inherits the title with plans to behave accordingly, but that brazened beauty keeps him thinking with his lower head. Their inane activity makes for a fun tale although the suspense subplot feels forced into the story line.

Beyond the Darkness
Alexandra Ivy
9781420102987, $6.99

The werewolf population is in danger of extinction unless purebred females are found. As their king, Salvatore Giuliani searches for a pureblood candidate before the vampires grab them. He catches a whiff of Harley and goes after her.

He rescues her from a cur pack and knows she is his soulmate, but she rejects him in spite of her attraction to him; as Harley learned to never trust a werewolf having been held prisoner by one. However, all hell breaks loose when a nasty demon resurrects an odious evil rival of Salvatore, who still covets being the werewolf ruler; collateral damage means nothing to either malevolencies including destroying much of the Were pack, vampires, and Harley's recently discovered family.

The sixth Guardians of Eternity (see Darkness Unleashed and Darkness Revealed) is a terrific romantic fantasy as the regal pompous Gucci wearing King of the Weres meets his queen only to be rejected by her. Alexandra Ivy is at her best as she turns the arrogant royal into a heroic champion protecting his soul mate and others rather than just ordering his pack. Beyond the Darkness is another winner from one of the leading urban fantasists.

Hunted by the Others
Jess Haines
9781420111873, $6.99

Following 9/11 the Others came out of hiding to help the city. Several years since the werewolves, vampires, and magi surface, Shiarra Waynest and Sara Halloway run a private investigative firm that avoids the Others as clients; preferring cases with purebred humans.

However, they have a financial crisis as business has been poor so the two female sleuths accept Veronica and her coven as a client. The mage wants them to obtain an artifact that allegedly can control the Others; it is in the possession of vampiric club owner Alec Royce. One of his agents reports Shiarra's plan to Royce; he in turn places her in a precarious situation with her agreeing to a lethal contract.

This is an entertaining urban fantasy starring a strong support cast and a feisty female who needs to find another vocation as her sleuthing skills seem lacking. The Others seem genuine especially in how they relate (or not) with the two private detectives as Shiarra's friend Arnold the Mage, her former boyfriend, Chaz the werewolf and Alec the vampire make for an exciting tale.

Island Beneath The Sea
Isabel Allende
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022-5299
9780061988240, $24.99,

In 1770, with his father dying, twenty years old Toulouse Valmorain leaves France to take over Saint Lazare, the family plantation in Haiti. Over the next few years, Toulouse works hard and makes his slaves toil harder. He marries, and for his wife Eugenia of Spain, Toulouse buys a mixed racial child slave Zarite of Saint-Domingue, whose white father sold her into bondage. Toulouse directs mulatto courtesan Violette Boisier to mentor the young slave.

Zarite, known as Tete, lives in trepidation as abuse is her norm. She finds some escape in African drum music and voodoo loas. Meanwhile, Eugenia is going mad but gives birth to a son Maurice. Toulouse soon rapes Zarite, leaving her pregnant; once the child he assumes is his is born he gives the bastard to Violette and her military husband to raise the kid though he allows Rosette to be a companion to his Maurice. The French expatriate is unaware that another slave Gambo, who escaped to join the resistance, is Rosette's sire. Led by Toussaint Louverture, a slave revolt occurs across the island; leaving Valmorain's plantation among others ruined. Gambo and Zarite helps him flee to Louisiana where his brother-in-law has bought him land. He frees Zarite as he promised, but tragedy continues to haunt them and their offspring.

This is an excellent timely historical tale that brings to life slavery in the Caribbean and the United States. Well written though no profound generalities are drawn, the story line enables the reader to better understand the motives of slaveholders in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Thus, the powerful characters, not just those prime players as included above, make Island Beneath the Sea a multi decade saga worth reading.

So Much for That
Lionel Shriver
9780061458583, $25.99

Shep Knacker has always wanted to go to "The Afterlife" retreat when he retires. His plan to is sell his home repair business and stop driving on one the world's longest parking lot, the BQE. Thus when he believes he can afford to move to the Third World haven he sells his business for a million dollars.

However, Shep made one major miscalculation. He failed to understand the hidden meaning to the excuses his wife of over a quarter of a century Glynis has given him to delay their retreat from America. He delays his departure for her and continues working for the guy who bought his firm until a tired Shep decides enough. He informs Glynis that he moving to an island off Tanzania. However, Glynis tells him that sh e desperately needs medical treatment in which his insurance will cover some of the bill. His Afterlife fund shrinks and Shep wonders how he has been trapped in his present life in which medical costs are killing his dream and consequently him; though he admits his complaints compared to his friend whose dealing with botched surgery and a daughter with an incurable disease feel like he is whining.

This is a powerful condemnation of the American health system that does not attempt to be subtle with its gut shots. At times the commentary feels forced, but as a whole, So Much for That hits home with relevancy as readers follow three subplots that are common problems. Shep watches his dream disappear with health care costs while his best friend lives in a health care nightmare. Although the verdict remains out on the Obamacare protecting more Americans, Lionel Shriver makes a strong case that the status quo denotes failure (and backroom death squad decisions), and tort limitations punishes the wrong party.

The Queen of Palmyra
Minrose Gwin
9780061840326, $14.99

In 1963 in Millwood, Mississippi funeral insurance salesman Win Forest heads the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. His wife Martha is deathly afraid of her husband while their eleven year old daughter Florence is confused though she can clearly see her mom's trepidation. When her mother makes treks to bootleggers she leaves her child with her grandparents; another repetitive occurrence that bewilders the child.

At her grandparent's home, Florence seems to always anger the ultra tall heavy black housekeeper, Zenie. Florence also spends time at Zenie's home in the rundown Negro neighborhood Shake Rag. As the civil rights movement explodes across the south, Zenie's niece Eva arrives to sell insurance to pay for her college tuition; igniting the racial tension even further.

The aptly titled Queen of Palmyra is a terrific historical drama that brings to life the period of Mississippi Burning but with more depth than the super movie. The key players represent various groups during the Civil Rights struggle with the extremes being Win willing to kill to retain what little power he has left and Eva willing to risk her life for economic and academic opportunities. Caught in the middle are Martha and Zenie pulled by their respective race to support their side when both want to be left alone. Observing all is the confused tweener who will remind readers of To Kill a Mockingbird. Character driven, Minrose Gwin captures the essence of a changing world.

The Templar Knight
Jan Guillou
9780061688577, $25.99

In Anno Domini 1167, teenage Swedish knight Arn Magnusson was forced into joining the Knights Templar as they marched on The Road to Jerusalem; he left behind his beloved betrothed Cecilia unaware of her pregnancy and eventual exile to a convent on Gotaland. Now a decade later in the hot summer of what the Faithful call 575 after Hijra, Arn remains with the Knights Templar in the Holy Land but has moved up the ranks to become master of the fortress at Gaza.

Over the next few years he survives the battles with the Saracens and respects their shrewd strategic Sultan Saladin. Meanwhile, Cecilia misses her beloved Arn and their son who is raised by others as she remains incarcerated at a convent run by an abbess who loathes her for being a member of a rival clan. Following the bloody battle of Hattin in AD 1187, Arn's twenty year commitment finally is over and he is free to go home, but fears what he will find there as he prays Cecilia is still his.

The second tale of the Crusades Trilogy is an excellent historical epic that grips the audience from the onset and maintains that hold as a decade swings by. Fast-paced and filled with plenty of action, readers will feel they are part of Arn's command as Jan Guillou brings the twelfth century crusades to life.

Husband and Wife
Leah Stewart
9780061774508, $24.99

Feeling some guilt, novelist Nathan Bennett confesses to his wife Sarah Price that he slept with another woman. She is stunned by his confession, which changes her priorities from which dress to wear at a wedding would make her look less fat to what to do about her relationship with Nathan; factoring in their two young children, Mattie and Binx.

Whereas Nathan feels remorse, Sarah feels anger. She considers her options by looking at her past through a decision analysis of what could have been her life if she chose a different path. She ponders leaving her spouse and taking the kids with her of course while her anger grows as she gave up poetry writing and wants to be known as a poetess again. Then there is to consider her friend Rajiv, who has loved her forever.

This is an interesting family drama in which an extramarital one night stand has shattered the trust between Husband and Wife. The lead couple feels genuine especially their emotions. However, it is the tense intriguing look back by Sarah who deeply examines lost opportunities when she made pivotal choices who makes the story line profound. Although the ending seems off kilter as a throwback to Austen's Regency era, fans will still appreciate this deep character study of one major indiscretion which has incredible relational costs.

Supreme Justice
Phillip Margolin
9780061926518, $25.99

In Oregon, former cop Sarah Woodruff is on death row having been convicted of killing her lover, John Finley. Her appeals are running out with her last chance being the Supreme Court. Her lawyer has filed the papers to get a delay and a hearing.

However, there are those who do not want her plea to go before the highest court because most likely criminal activity inside the CIA will be revealed. A vacancy enables the behind scenes operatives to reject her request for a hearing. However, to anchor this position, the assassination of a justice is ordered. Private investigator Dana Cutler and law clerk Brad Miller are in the middle of preventing a Beltway murder from happening.

The latest Cutler-Miller DC thriller (see Executive Privilege) is an ultra fast-paced tale that hooks the audience with a need to know the identity of the conspirator(s) as another Oregon death row case has ties across the country. Although much of the cast, especially the DC crowd is stereotyped out of headlines news, readers will appreciate the latest Oregonian-Beltway hook up. A Pacific Northwest private investigator and legal clerk try to prevent a travesty orchestrated on the other side of the country from happening.

Hannah's List
Debbie Macomber
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778327806, $24.95,

In Seattle thirty-six year old Hannah Everett dies from ovarian cancer after a long battle. She leaves behind a letter to her beloved pediatrician husband, Michael that he is to open one year after her death.

On the first anniversary of Hannah's death, Michael reads her note to him. She pleads with him to get on with his life as he has grieved long enough. She wants him to actively seek a new wife. Hannah suggests he consider three candidates for his second spouse: her cousin Chef Winter Adams; her oncologist nurse Leanne Lancaster or eccentric artist Macy Roth. Michael goes out with each of the women but each quickly recognizes that his heart is buried with his late spouse.

Although some readers will question how fast Michael acts on his beloved deceased wife's final request, fans will enjoy this strong look at grieving as the lead protagonist tries to move on as his spouse requested with the three women she suggested. Michael is fully developed so that the audience understands his concerns and fears while Hannah is only seen through his eyes and the letter. The tree candidates are developed to different degrees, which makes it easy to know the ending relatively early on. Michael hooks the readers throughout as he struggles with choosing from Hannah's List because he is unsure if he can.

Rule's Bride
Kat Martin
9780778327745, $7.99

In 1857 Boston, visiting Londoner Lord Rule Dewar agreed to marry the teenage daughter of Howard Griffin, owner of Griffin Manufacturing. The deal was pure economics as sixteen year old Violet gets a title and the man she has a schoolgirl crush on and Rule gets a gun manufacturing firm. He returned home to a life of much greater affluent debauchery while she remained in New England.

Three years later Violet arrives unannounced in London to demand Rule agree to an annulment. Attracted to his feisty beautiful American wife, he wants to consummate their marriage, which he failed to do when they exchanged I do. She insists she has someone else in mind for her marriage bed. Falling in love, Rule persuades her to give him one month to prove they belong together as a happy married couple; if she still wants the annulment he will grant it without an argument. As he courts his wife, who has loved him since he came to her home in Boston, someone wants the pair kept apart and a murder is an acceptable means to achieve that end.

The final R. Dewar's Bride historical romance (see Royal's Bride and Reese's Bride) is an enjoyable Victorian romance starring a married couple beginning their courtship three years after they wed. Although the marriage of economic convenience is an ancient standby of the historical sub-genre, Kat Martin refreshes it with her lead couple as she wants a first chance while his wife prefers a different chance with someone else. Readers will enjoy the intelligent tale as Rule has a climb higher than Big Ben to get out of the hole he is in when it comes to winning his wife's respect though he has her love.

Bargain with the Devil
F.J. Chase
9780778327776, $7.99

Mercenaries Herbert Payne-Best and Pieter De Wet are hired for regime change in Central Africa. They offer security consultant Peter Avakian, an opportunity to make a million euros for doing the advance legwork in Benin. Although he has doubts the French paratroopers will stay out of the country if the current leadership is removed, he accepts the job by attending their meeting; rejection equates to his death.

Avakian debates bringing in the CIA as he knows his employers will dispose of him after he is no longer of use while the agency sucks civilians and agents dry. However, he agrees to conduct undercover surveillance for the CIA hoping to come out of this entangled oily fiasco alive and with minimal damage to the innocent. His hope is not with the spooks who will protect their butts first and last, but with two women South African reporter Patience Mbatha and Darkness Under Heaven CIA compatriot Dr. Judy Gold.

Bargain with the Devil is a superb action-packed romantic suspense thriller starring a likable beleaguered gun-slinging hero who makes a bad first misstep by showing up at the "coup" meeting. Readers will enjoy Avakian's efforts to minimize collateral damage, prevent a coup, and save his life.

Maps of Hell
Paul Johnston
9780778327783, $7.99

When he regains consciousness, he finds himself naked and in pain. He cannot remember his name, where he is, or how he ended up without any clothing in a cell barely bigger than a closet. Although confused, he knows he is not a guest of whoever detained him so he must escape in order to regroup mentally and physically.

Fleeing his captivity, he begins to recall things taken for granted like he is British crime writer Matt Wells and was kidnapped by the NANR militia who brainwashed him in the Maine wilderness although he is unsure what they want him to do. Law enforcement on several levels seeks him out as a possible serial killer and for questioning in the disappearance of his pregnant lover, British DCI Karen Oaten. He eludes the militia, the FBI, and state and local police as he must learn what happened to his Karen and if still possible rescue her; to do this Matt needs to figure out what they did to him.

Told by Matt in a traumatic first hand account starting with his smelling his vomit in the cell, Maps of Hell is a superb action-packed thriller. Fast-paced throughout, readers will be spellbound as the hero struggles to survive, elude the enemy that includes cops, and seeks his beloved. Mindful of the Manchurian Candidate and the Prisoner only much more graphic as the "victim" tells the tale from his perspective, Paul Johnston affirms once again that he is one of today's best thriller writers (see The Death List and The Soul Collector).

Out of Sight
Stella Cameron
9780778327752, $7.99

In New Orleans Sculptor Sykes Millet may be a psychic able to read and control the minds of others, but like his ancestors for centuries and his relatives today (see Out of Mind and Out of Body), he cannot prevent the curse from destroying those he loves. In the Court of Angels Jude Millet insists he needs to find Harmony and the missing keys to open up its supernatural powers while also fighting the evil Embran.

His efforts have become complicated by family friend nightclub manager Poppy Fortune. She has inadvertently fallen into the center of the Embran conflict, but in honor of her family, victims of the supernatural, she refuses to step aside although the man she loves Sykes pleads with her. He has no choice but to keep her safe and pray his deep regard for Poppy does not turn into deadly love.

The third Court of Angels is another outstanding paranormal romantic thriller starring a courageous heroine and her champion who fears falling in love with her, but the heart rejects the brain. Fans will root for the heroic duet though Poppy's behavior at times is over the top of Driskoll Mountain. Action-packed from the onset, Out of Sight is another electrifying urban fantasy.

Sweet Tea at Sunrise
Sherryl Woods
9780778328452, $7.99

Knowing his baseball career is over; skirt chasing player Travis McDonald arrives in Serenity, South Carolina. He likes the small town atmosphere and decides to stay there. Travis buys a local radio station.

When he meets his neighbor single mom of two Sarah Price, Travis enjoys her light banter except for the self-deprecating comments. He hires the waitress to work his morning show as the DJ though she has no on the air experiences. As she works diligently at her new position, Sarah struggles to overcome the constant put downs of her verbally abusive former husband Walter while also falling in love with her new boss; who she knows stole her heart even if he is out of her league.

The romance remains mostly in the bleachers as the return to Serenity focuses on the stars of the previous books. Still this is an entertaining tale as Travis is a wonderful individual trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life as he is young but retired. Sarah in many ways is the more fascinating protagonist with her doubts after years of being assailed as a loser; although her epitome feels false, fans of the series will enjoy catching up with the lives of those who previously starred in the Carolina sa ga.

The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund
Jill Kargman
c/o Penguin Group, USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780452295940, $15.00,

In 2006 thirty-four years old Holly Talbott believes she has a happy marriage to Tim, a Wall St. hedge fund dealer and a wonderful son Miles. Although his family objects, Holly periodically meets with her best friend Kiki, a Jew from Brooklyn, who divorced Tim's brother.

However, on one of their clandestine get-togethers, Holly and Kiki observe Tim hugging tightly another woman. Instead of Tim being ostracized for cheating by his family and the community during the divorce, Holly is the one treated with contempt; as she comes from the wrong side of the tracks. The pre-nuptial agreement affirmed that perspective. Whether it is taking Miles to school or booted from a charity fundraiser, the Wall St. Hedge Fund wives and mothers treat Holly as a leper. Only Kiki still remains her friend. While Kiki dates a seemingly normal nice guy, Holly finds a series of losers.

This is an amusing witty contemporary tale that misses the bite of a satirical look at the financial meltdown as the timing seems off, but will entertain readers with the two BFFs seeking a nicer class of men. With a jocular story line, readers will enjoy this lighthearted romp of the rich and the kicked out of the wealthy club, but also believe The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund misses an opportunity to lampoon the affluent financial crowd for their egotistical excesses.

Alison Sinclair
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451463296, $15.00,

In divided Minhorne, the Lightborn are stunned when Prince Isidore is assassinated by magic. Fejelis Grey Rapids replaces the late prince and accuses Lightborn assassin Floria White Hand of killing his predecessor as she had opportunity being a guard. Forced to flee Fiona receives sanctuary amidst the scientific based Darkborn.

Meanwhile someone tries to murder Fejelis. He still believes the failed attempt was done by Floria. However, the Lightborn who cannot survive the darkness, and the Darkborn (especially Telmaine and her husband Balthasar) who cannot stay in the light, begin to wonder if perhaps their mutual enemy the Shadowborn is causing deadly mischief.

The second Minhorne Regency fantasy (see Darkborn) is a complicated tale that grips the audience from the opening train ride to the finish that sets up what should be a rousing climax. After shaking the scientific Darkborn society with her magic in the previous tale, Telmaine returns as a major player alongside her husband and his previous lover Floria. The two females and the male who links them make for an enjoyable whodunit as they seek out the assassin before war breaks out between the two prime so cieties and a potential cat fight between the two women. Readers will relish this fine middle tale in a fascinating saga as the city of Minhorne with a humongous support cast consisting of the dark, the light and the shadows in between.

From Hell With Love
Simon R. Green
9780451463326, $24.95

Eddie Drood reflects on the changes in his life since becoming family head as he wallows is self pity, but sill leads the charge of protecting humanity from creatures mankind prefers to pretend do not exist. The ingrates treat the Droods like mental lepers. Currently Eddie's prime assignment as the temp in charge is to discover who killed his predecessor the family Matriarch though he knows the Drood broods bet on either him or his girlfriend Molly to figure it ouh; Eddie's wager is on Molly as he knows he did not kill the old hag.

Eddie attends a minor auction of priceless magical artifacts when Doctor Delirium steals and escapes with the Apocalypse Door. The portal can be used to enable the denizens of hell to enter this world. Eddie must prevent this from happening because once the beasts cross, it will prove impossible to end the apocalypse. However, he soon concludes that diabolical dastardly Doctor Delirium decrees death to Droods so he and his violent volatile malevolent allies can cross over and destroy the world.

The fourth Secret Histories save the earth urban fantasy (see The Spy Who Haunted Me, The Man With The Golden Torc and Daemons Are Forever) is a fun thriller; as Eddie raps to the only person who listens to him (himself) and that Kermit is almost right as it is not easy being Drood. The story line is fast-paced in spite of a series of battles that have an interchangeable sameness feel to them. However, it is Eddie's introspection on Marmalade Reflections of My Life that make for a deep satirical spin skewing espionage and supernatural thrillers as only a Drood could and would.

Distant Thunders
Taylor Anderson
9780451463333, $24.95

The reptilian Grik continue their assault using any sort of mass weapons of destruction against the Lemurians whose strongest supporter are the dimensionally displaced U.S. Navy Captain Matt Reddy and the crew of the USS Walker. The American navy desperately is trying to move forward the Bronze Age Lemurians into at least an Industrial Age and preferably past that too especially with their ship badly devastated in the last encounter (see Maelstrom). That is the only hope for the allies against the overwhelming superiority of the invading Grik.

Reddy and his unit make some progress using paddle-wheel steam frigates developed in New Britain as the Americans free cities in the west from the previously invincible conquerors and give new hope to their allies. However when word reaches Reddy that the enemy has captured New British Princess Rebecca Anne McDonald, he rushes back east on the renovated USS Walker to mount a rescue of a key symbol.

The latest Destroyermen science fiction thriller, Distant Thunders, is an action-packed entry with strong relevant moral questions about the rules of combat engagement running throughout the adrenalin pumping story line. Reddy ponders whether negotiations with a species apparently seeking genocide are feasible as the enemy seems resistant to a peaceful solution although the displaced hero recognizes some of the beliefs on both sides may be bogeyman propaganda. He also wonders whether are any weapons of mass destruction include biological, chemical or nuclear in their arsenal that will be used especially on the brink of perhaps extinction acceptable? Taylor Anderson is one of the best at military science fiction as his plots combine cerebral thought provoking issues within a great adventure tale; the alternate realm of the Destroyermen saga is worth the journey.

Rob Thurman
9780451463425, $7.99

A decade ago someone kidnapped young Lukas Korsak. The lad just disappeared from sight with no ransom or any demand. His family grieved their loss as the assumption was he was murdered.

Lukas's older brother Stefan has never forgotten his sibling. Working for the Russian Mafia, he still searches for Lukas when he can. Following a lead, he assaults a top secret human laboratory that brainwashes and genetically modifies kids turning them into lethal assassins. There Stefan finds a teen who looks identically like Lukas adding ten years of maturity to the mental image the mobster has maintained. Freeing the teen, they flee from the facility's leader who sends a horde of transformed young trained killers after them.

Using technology rather than supernatural as the means of conversion, Rob Thurman provides a strong, faster than a speeding Flash thriller. Intriguing that both brothers are killers; yet the older one trusts their DNA and shared past while the younger sibling distrusts everyone as he has been thoroughly brainwashed so that his instincts are to kill regardless of collateral damage. Readers will relish this tale of brotherly love as Stefan tries to save his brother from what the Madhouse did to him, but soon believes he will be Abel to Lukas' Cain.

Lover Mine
J.R. Ward
NAL (New American Library)
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451229854, $25.95,

Reincarnated John Matthew had no idea what he was as he resided amongst purebred humans until the Black Dagger Brotherhood drafted him as a full blooded vampiric warrior protecting their species against the genocide slayers of the Lessening Society. However, he has handled every life grenade tossed at him until now. His personal adversary Lash abducted symphath vampire Xhex; sending John over the edge as she is his soul mate. He vows to kill Lash, rescue Xhex and plead with her to be with him for eternity.

Currently an imprisoned embitter sex toy of the volatile Lash, Xhex distrusts males and more so love as she knows first hand it leads to horrific hurt. She has personal problems with her feelings for John because of her distrust of those feelings. However, Xhex knows deep in her heart he is coming for her and will lash out at anyone who tries to prevent him.

The overarching war in Caldwell, New York continues though somewhat in the background as the focus is almost entirely on the triangle. Readers learn much about the backgrounds of Johan and especially that of Xhex. A strong entry that has been anticipated for awhile, J.R. Ward provides a powerful romantic urban fantasy that lives up to the Black Dagger brotherhood saga as the distrusting loving relationship between John and Xhex comes to a complicated and convoluted head with odious Lash as the catalyst coupling converter.

Magic Bleeds
Ilona Andrews
Ace Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780441018529, $7.99,

Kate Daniels pays her lost bet to the Beast Lord Curran with a meal she prepares. However, when he fails to collect, Kate becomes outraged by his affront and humiliated as she wanted to see him. Fuming, she declares war on Curran; leading to not talking, emailing or twittering one another.

However, a truce is needed when a "Steel Mary" plague carrier arrives in Atlanta planning to kill shapeshifters; collateral damage of the innocent being acceptable. The Order of Merciful Aid assigns Kate to hunt down the lethal Steel Mary using whatever force is necessary to end the deadly plague. However, as Kate, with Curran's reluctant help, closes in on the deadly visitor, she fears she knows who macabre murdering Mary is.

The latest marvelous "Magic" urban fantasy (see Magic Bites, Magic Burns, and Magic Strikes) is a terrific entry filled with a deadly dangerous inquiry balanced by jocular domestic pandemonium. Kate is kissable and killable as she works the Steel Mary plague case as well as her personal hostility with Curran. She and readers will wonder which side is the more dangerous combat to the heroine as Ilona Andrews provides another powerful Magical Mystery Tour of Atlanta.

Dead in the Family
Charlaine Harris
9780441018642, $25.95

Sookie Stackhouse, like many of Bon Temps, Louisiana residents, remains in shock as much from the torture she received as from the grief she feels following the fae war that left so many Dead and Gone. Among those who died is Sookie's fairy cousin, Claudine. Much of the surviving Faes went home.

Meanwhile the late Claudine's triplet Claude asks Sookie if he can move in with her; she unenthusiastically agrees. The Feds want better control of the paranormal two-nature Werewolf packs with designated registries. This upsets the Were population that fears hunting season. Sookie's lover vampire Eric Northman has problems when his creator the newly named Vampire King Appius Livius Ocella accompanied by Alexei Romanov arrives without warning, an invitation or an explanation,

Dead in the family is a superb entry in the Sookie saga albeit a bit less action (and deaths) than the previous thriller. The story line focuses on what is a modern paranormal extended family and how politics by those claiming the righteous right of patriotism to intrude within the family under the guise of security. Fans will enjoy this thought provoking urban fantasy as Sookie has little time to heal.

Hawkmoon: The Mad God's Amulet
Michael Moorcock
Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765324740, $13.99,

Dorian Hawkmoon and his companion Oladahn the Bulgar Mountain Beastman journey towards Castle Brass. However their trek is interrupted by the powerful ruthless Dark Empire of Granbretan armies and their evil dark jewel power (see The Jewel in the Skull). The pair survive and enter Soryandum a rare city not conquered by the Dark Empire due to their knowledge of time and space.

Dorian thinks if he can learn the secrets of this safe city, he can use them to keep Kamar safe; the home of his beloved Yisselda, currently a prisoner of the Mad God. Hawkmoon knows he must battle through the Granbretan forces and evil monsters, but is unprepared for nasty pirates assaulting him and his travel mates. Still he and the others continue their quest knowing the madwomen army of the Mad God awaits them before he can attempt to take the amulet away from the insane deity.

This reprint from the Law and Chaos saga is a terrific action-packed entry as the rules of existence are fought eternally. Filled with battle scenes after battle scenes, the cast is never developed except somewhat the hero and the use of chance to move forward the quest is distracting. However, readers who enjoy an ultra high octane fantasy set in a fascinating multiverse will appreciate the adventures of Hawkmoon.

The Wish List
Gabi Stevens
9780765365033, $6.99

Her three aunts announce to their CPA niece Kristin Montgomery that they are retiring. A bit taken aback since they do not hold jobs, Kristin is further stunned when the trio calmly informs her she is one of their replacements as a fairy godmother.

Kristin soon learns that granting wishes to kids is only part of the duties. As she learns her tasks, Arcani wizard historian Tennyson Ritter tests her skills while she decides to test her seduction prowess. As they fall in love while she enjoys wish granting, an unknown adversary has plans to take over Arcani staring with eliminating the newest fairy godmother rookie. Tennyson is at her side to prevent the evil from succeeding.

More of a coming of age fantasy with a romantic subplot, The Wish List is a charming lighthearted frolic starring a CPA turned rookie fairy godmother being audited by a wizard. The fun story line is breezily magical except for the villain who apparently is obvious to readers but not the lead couple in spite their prowess. Sub-genre fans will enjoy Kristin's adventures in the wonderful realm of Gabi Stevens.

He Walks Among Us
Norman Spinrad
9780765325846, $27.99

After watching stand-up comic Ralf perform, sleazy agent Jimmy "Texas" Balaban believes the man has the potential to be a messianic superstar in spite of Ralf insisting he is from the future in which the world is horrible grim place to live. Jimmy hires science fiction writer turning hack Dexter Lambkin and New Age wannabe guru Amanda Robin to make it happen.

Amanda buys into Ralf's spontaneous rap without challenging him; on the other hand cynical Dexter is shocked that he too is being mesmerized by Ralf. However, Ralf's message of a world dying unless we change today is overwhelming the comedian who wants to vanish like he did once before.

This is not an easy read, but those readers who enjoy something satirically different will appreciate He Walked Among Us; as Norman Spinrad lampoons capitalist preachers in mega-churches, media, DC and Wall Street, etc. while the world is in crisis. Character driven fans will be reminded of the movie Network as the author also ridicules his fan base for being overly zealous over the wrong segue. With a strong cast including Jimmy Durante's Schnozzola, this convoluted tale will have the audience ponder what is important in life.

Speak To The Devil
Dave Duncan
9780765323477, $27.99

On the world Dobtov, the power of the nobles is fading due to a rise of nationalism and growing technology replacing magic as obsolescent. Still many of the aristocracy like those in Jorgany retain power and use mercenaries to add to their own soldiers when battles take place

Cardinal Zdenek orders Lancer Anton Magnus to come see him immediately. Anton is fearful that he may be accused of heresy for a ruse he arranged with his brother Wulfgang pretending to use magic or trysting with married aristocrats. Anton is not a fool to leave the Cardinal waiting so he quickly leaves the warm embrace of Baroness Nadezda Radovan to ride helter smelter to see what the powerful Cardinal demands of him.

Fearing an invasion from the Wends, Zdenek shocks the Lancer when he offers him an earldom Cardice through marriage to the previous late lord's daughter Madlenka if he takes charge of the strategic fortress Castle Gallant and thwarts the invaders. Ironically the opportunity was made by the Cardinal because he believes Anton is a magic practitioner. He does not correct Zdenek's misconception, but instead Anton discusses the sit uation with Wulfgang, who encourages him to take command of the fortress and the people; anything else would leave him with a powerful enemy rather than a powerful supporter.

Although Dave Duncan places his saga on planet Dobtov, the author makes his setting appear to be medieval Europe though he imagines a new nation in the midst of a tumultuous period of dramatic change. As technology has begun to supersede magic and altering religious belief systems as a consequence, the Speakers remain hidden in plain sight and still talk with saints or the devil depending on which dogma they believe in but Wulf believes it is the Saints who help him travel through limbo and gives him certain powers that the Church believes are Satanic. The changing of the old guard refreshes the tale. Anton is the focus of the story line, but Wulfgang steals the show as a seventeen year old in love with his new sister-on-law and recognized as a powerful Speaker by many, which places his life in jeopardy. Mr. Duncan showcases his world-building, character development and plot creativity in this entertaining fantasy.

Bitter Seeds
Ian Tregillis
9780765321503, $25.99

Wanting to build a superman and superwoman, German scientist Dr. von Westarp chooses WWI German orphans as his base for his experiments. Although many die and others are deformed, by 1939 the mad scientist has succeed in constructing his master race. However as WW II breaks out, he plans to use them to insure The Third Reich is victorious and remains in power for a thousand years. However, one of the successful test subjects Klaus fears his sister Gretel is using her precognitive skills to manipulate the team, but what agenda is remains unclear.

Meanwhile British secret agent Raybould Marsh, who has his own father figure in Stephenson, knows first hand how powerful the enemy supervillains are as the German war machine blitzkriegs through all enemies. He enlists mage Will Beauclerk to help the British side, whose chances of victory seem slim. Will brings on allies from the warlock community including Olivia whom Marsh marries and has a daughter with her. When he ignores the warning not to deal with the mysterious Eidelons who will offer little and demand a lot, Will sees no other hope as the Germans are winning in the air, land and sea due to being the superpower.

Although the cast is never fully developed beyond comic book stereotypes, readers will enjoy this entertaining action-packed alternate historical thriller. With homage to Moore's Watchmen, fans of action-packed WWII dramas will appreciate the loaded Bitter Seeds as superpower German warriors battle the mages of Britain for control of the continent and ultimately the world.

I Am Not A Serial Killer
Dan Wells
9780765327826, $9.99

In Clayton, fifteen year old John Wayne Cleaver has helped his mom and his aunt at the family run mortuary for years. He is surrounded by corpses so death means little to him, which makes it difficult for John to sympathize with the mourners.

However, the human predators who cause death fascinate and frighten him. Concerned he may become a serial killer one day as he admires these psychopaths, he sees a shrink and has established rigid rules that he totally adheres to. A loner by nurture, he prefers the dead to the living as they demand nothing as opposed to their relatives demanding miraculous cosmetics. When a sliced up body parts arrive at the mortuary, even John is taken aback. When more carved up corpses are found, John investigates as he wants to meet his first serial killer in person though this also means he bends his rules for the first time.

John holds the tale together as he constantly reminds himself that: "I am not a serial killer" though surrounded by death. He is a captivating unique lead character as is his mom and aunt. Teen-lit fans will relish his mantra and amateur sleuthing, as he investigates while also mindful of not crossing the line.

Blood Song
Cat Adams
9780765324948, $14.99

Los Angeles bodyguard Celia Graves protects her wealthy clients from the supernatural. Currently she guards Prince Rezza of Rusland, a small kingdom in between Poland, Ukraine and Czechoslovakia. Natural gas has made the tiny nation strategically significant to the apoplexy of the Russians. They are ambushed by vampires with Celia bitten and anticipating death with her last thought being dying sucks.

However, she survives the biting assault, but has become an Abomination as she has been partially converted. Celia knows she must understand the limitations of her new powers and not assume anything. However, at the top of her list is execution of the vampire who transformed her or become his unwilling slave. As she learns more about her new nature, Celia realizes that a conspiracy of epic proportions is going on with her being expendable.

This is a superb political urban fantasy that will have readers believing in vampires, ghouls, demons and alas Abominations. Celia keeps the story line focused while she also lightens the dark tale with her amusing often darker asides. Although kick butt female Noir heroines are flooding the market, fans will appreciate Celia's grave quest to kill her master before he either finishes the job by sucking her dry or enslaving her.

The Palace of Impossible Dreams
Jennifer Fallon
9780765316844, $27.99

Intrepid but obstinate Arkady remains married to Stellan, the heir to the Kingdom of Glaeba, but their relationship for practical purposes is in name only. She focuses on one issue; destroying the immortal nasty Tide Lords, who have one objective: rule the world.

Arkady's strongest ally in her attempt to end the Tide Lords constant intrigue is spymaster Declan Hawkes; though his prime motive for supporting her is not altruistic but instead he admires and desires Arkady. Ergo he tries one failed attempt after another to bring down the Tide Lords. At the same time, Declan stubbornly makes his tries to win Arkady by defeating her enemy; ironically his rival for his lady is not her husband but Tide Lord Cayal who courts Arkady while also considering suicide if an immortal can kill himself; as he sees her as his only anchor to live. Inside the Time Lord haven, their human-beast slaves the Crasii plot revolt from their masters as they want freedom.

The third Tide Lords fantasy (see The Immortal Prince) is an engaging entry although as with The Gods of Amyrantha the overarching theme does not move forward very much. The story line is loaded with subplots in which the best ones involve the big power control schemes of the three prime groups competing for dominance. Some fluff events especially in the harem feel more of a detractor, but the fascination remains with comparing the mortals, the human-beasts and the immortals as they share so much in common yet continue as enemies because each wants to own the world. Fans of the saga will enjoy the return to the Fallon mythos.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

The Light of Desire: La Luz Del Deseo
Marjorie Agosin
Translation by Lori Marie Carlson
Cover art & illustrations by Ramon Levil
Swan Isle Press
9780974888170 $28.00

This is the sort of book my college Literature / Poetry professor would have used as study material in his classes. The poetry is written in Spanish, translated meticulously to English, and inspired by four years Agosin spent in Israel. The results are beautiful, sensual and profound, reminiscent of ancient scriptural writings:

The Sabbath night

Fall falls soft and thin

It falls as if dancing

As if dressed in clear waters

Israel's message to Agosin is that love survives, undiminished by wars or time's passage, love worldly and sacred, physical and metaphysical:

In a time without beginnings without forgetting

We searched neither for dates nor mementos

To love by

We awaited the arrival of silence,

The breath of Jerusalem above our heads.

The desert, the waters, the language, the warm stones of Israel become a rich, nurturing broth of love and hope, a miraculous encounter:

I learn to write your language

Mysterious Hebrew

Calligraphies of fire and air over the letters

I like the letter "l" that rolls on my tongue

And falls on yours.

Love's memory has no beginning or ending. In Agosin's world, through her words, it becomes both ancient and immediate, powerful and peaceful:

Stay forever within me

Like the light of Jerusalem

That day when the war tattooed your musings

It established new silences

Thirty years after the war

When you returned to recognize yourself within me

And I felt vulnerable and beautiful

Bountiful, ancient

Agosin's work here is a celebration of life and love. Her words weave wondrously the power of human love with the beauty and magic of ancient Israel. Highly recommended.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Fireside Chats
Frank S. O'Neal
Love's Jazz & Arts Center
2510 N. 24th St., Omaha, NE 68110
9780981796437, $14.95

"Fireside Chats, A Surrealist's View of the World Volume 1" is a collection of searing poems by a unique visionary, Frank S. O'Neal. Dedicated to Bernice Catherine Davis O'Neal and Frank Sebron O'Neal, the author's parents, "Fireside Chats" presents the cutting edge of a legacy of truth. Mr. O'Neal is a multi-talented author whose work is like a bright torch to light pathways out of shadows of centuries-old racism and bigotry. Most of it is not very comfortable to read or to experience, but it is certainly electrifying and challenging. Mr. O'Neal's history of serving in Viet Nam, working as a paramedic, and world traveling in the Coast Guard all inform and underlie his poetry and his art, but his voice is always critically clear, a profile in black intellectual literature. Perhaps two stunning quotations out of this book full of amazing, hammering songs can be presented. Like most of the poems, they are embellished with black and white drawings of an apocryphal setting with human figures:

"The ultimate choice of a MAN/ In as much as he wants to/ transcend himself,/ is to.../ Love or Hate/ Create or Destroy/ What's your Story? (pp. 11-12).

The second poem begins with a list of 56 names of signers of the original Declaration of Independence, followed by their states and occupations. Then the words:

"Just your kind of country, aye/ Fifty-five of the fifty-six --- Anne, Rupert, Bill and Rush --- Signers owned slaves (p. 23).

"Fireside Chats A Surrealist's View of the World Volume 1" is a sharp and stupendous gift to the world. As O'Neal notes in tiny cryptic writing in an illustration of a mounted avenging black soldier on a bucking horse with dripping sword approaching the vulnerable belly/groin, with two prone KKK bodies in the foreground and 3 flaming crosses in the background, "The Ink of the Scholar is of more value than the Blood on the Sword (p. 55)."

I Dare to Stop the Wind
Bettina Rotenberg
VALA Book Press
1605 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA 94703
9780615336107, $24.95

"I Dare to Stop the Wind: Challenging Children in the Public Schools Through the Arts & Poetry" is a fascinating summary of a creative arts teaching approach pioneered at the VALA Project by Bettina Rotenberg in the Bay area inner city elementary schools, including West Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. The purpose of VALA (Visual Arts/Language Arts) is to "envelop children whose lives are dismally restricted and subject to violence and poverty with a sense of inspiration from the visual and performing arts." To achieve this, VALA brings artists and writers to public elementary schools in West Contra Costa and Alameda counties to give English language -learning kids and others the opportunity to write creatively about their experiences. "I Dare to Stop the Wind" presents many successful examples of VALA artist/writer projects in classrooms where children have demonstrated amazing written and creative responses to some of the challenges offered within the exciting VALA artists' and poets' curriculum interactions. Filled with color photos of art projects and poems created by students of VALA, "I Dare to Stop the Wind" is its own best emissary for arts education and increasing literacy among English language learners. Some of the artists who are showcased in "I Dare to Stop the Wind" include Amy Trachtenberg (painter), Leon Kassapides (shadow play puppeteer), Augusta Talbot (sculptor), Sean Nash (animator/film maker), and Pat Reed (poet). Teachers' testimonials are also included to attest to the value and educational validity of the VALA Project in the classrooom. But perhaps the most impressive results in"I Dare to Stop the Wind" are the works of the students themselves, represented along with photos of their proud creators.

Healing Gifts, Qi Gong in Breast Cancer Recovery
Margaret Randolph & Cielle Tewksbury
Idyll Arbor
39129 26th Ave. SE, Enumclaw, WA 98022
9781882883752, $16.00

"Healing Gifts" presents an informed approach to breast cancer victims' treatment programs. Written by a physical therapist and an expert in Tai Ji and Qi Gong, "Healing Gifts" contains "the perfect balance of movement and meditation" specifically adapted to breast cancer recovery needs. Complete with chapters on basic essentials, Qi Gong movement, acupressure point for cancer, recovery, relaxation techniques, self-nurturing and accepting help, resources, calligraphy glossary and poetry meditations, "Healing Gifts" offers a valuable collection of resources and approaches to breast cancer survivors everywhere. In addition to carefully illustrated gentle exercises and techniques, the authors are successful consultants who offer Qi Gong workshops in Hospice Cancer Centers in the U. S., Europe, and South America. For further information, contact them at

People of the Lakes
Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation & Shirleen Smith
University of Alberta Press
Ring House 2, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB Canada T6G 2E1
9780888645050, $34.95

"People of the Lakes: Stories of Our Van Tat Gwich'in Elders/ Googwandak Nakhwach'anjoo Van Tat Gwich'in" is an amassing of oral accounts of Gwich'in Elders and the Van Tat Gwich'in which contains stories form four or more generations of Van Tat Gwich'in born in the century span from the 1880's to the 1980's. Some stories which are described as "long -ago" may go back as far as many centuries more. Context for the stories is provided by collaborator Shirleen Smith, Anthropology professor from the University of Alberta. Studded with more than 125 color photographs and more black and white photos, "People of the Lakes" is both a meticulous translation of over 150 years of Gwich'in history and a hailed tribute to the Van Tat Gwich'in community and its heritage. From the transcribing of this shared knowledge, which is priceless, can only come further enrichment of all inheriting cultures who occupy the territory of the "People of the Lakes." A great contribution also to the field of Native American Studies, "People of the Lakes" is a trendsetter and a ground breaker for anthropologists, ethnohistorians, and others interested in the northern regions of Canada and North America. A helpful Glossary is provided at the end of the book that translates from Gwich'in to English and the reverse. The text ;is further enhanced by the presence of various maps and historic photographs, each carefully documented. "People of the Lakes" is sure to garner praise and awards as it crosses genres and fulfills many obligations.

Health Professionals' Guide to Physical Management of Parkinson's Disease
Miriam P. Boelen
Human Kinetics
P.O. Box 5076,Champaign, IL 61825
9780736074926, $61.00 800-747-4457

"Health Professionals' Guide to Physical Management of Parkinson's Disease" is a compact, well organized clinicians' resource that aids in finding effective strategies for physical management of common symptoms of Parkinson's disease. The chapters are carefully researched, written as cross-referenced independent units, organized by presenting problem areas. A broad but concise introduction begins with a summary of medical, surgical assisted and self-management treatment strategies that are used effectively across seven specified stages (modified Hoehn and Yahr, p. 4) of disease progression. Two types of dyskinesias (or involuntary movement disorders) are presented for treatment focus: dystonia and tremor. Further development of balancing deficits treatment strategies, transfer problems, and qualitative and quantitative gait assessment are included, with a frequent goal of improving ambulation abilities. Black and white photographs, illustrations and specific case examples help document clearly the approaches suggested. "Health Professionals' Guide to Physical Management of Parkinson's Disease" is a valuable, practical, efficient resource for health care staff teams who work with the PD population. Its usefulness in homecare settings also demands further exploration, with good clinical supervision.

Dynamic Art Projects For Children
Denise Logan
Crystal Productions
P.O. Box 2159, 1812 Johns Drive, Glenview, IL 60025
1562903500, $24.95

"Dynamic Art Projects For Children" is a how-to collection of imaginative art projects for children in grades 1-6, originally created and taught in Gilbert, Arizona public elementary schools. Including step-by-step instructions and colorful photographs of both process and finished art projects, "Dynamic Art Projects For Children" opens new vistas for public, private, and home school art education. Each project is described with the topic and concepts listed first followed by a project description and complete list of materials. Final photos of proud children holding their finished works add valuable testimony to the impact of "Dynamic Art Projects For Children." A guide to the ages of children best suited for each project is highlighted at the top left of each new project description, further assisting the teacher. To sum up, the use of art projects such as those suggested and described does the following: "Creating art opens a window into a child's imagination. These projects facilitate the creation of a beautiful piece of art by tapping into creativity as well as building confidence and self-esteem (back cover, "Dynamic Art Projects For Children"). In addition, many fine color photos of children's finished art projects speak clearly to the tangible results of the implementation of this well-crafted collection of creative art projects.

Pun Enchanted Evenings: 746 Original Word Plays
David R. Yale
A Healthy Relationship Press LLC
38-11 212th Street, Bayside, NY 11361
9780979176647, $9.97

"Pun Enchanted Evenings" is a delight to read, full of all sizes of laughs from a tickling giggle to the full belly laugh. Slightly naughty and definitely (semi) adult in its humor, "Pun Enchanted Evenings" is just what the Dr. ordered for that cranky invalid who is not quite ready to leave the infirmary yet but who needs amusement and entertainment while convalescing. Or it can just be a day-brightener too. Here are a couple of "Pundits" from its jewels:"647. What musical instrument would help along disarmament talks? An accord-ion! 331. Why would bringing an art museum guide along insure a successful hunt? Because the docent will attract big bucks! 541. What would you call a linguistic study of Julius Caesar's last words? Et tu mology!" And so many more. From the erudite to the banal, every level of pun is fair game for laughter in "Pun Enchanted Evenings," proving once and for all conclusively that a sense of humor is a sign of higher intelligence (surprise)!

The Journey of Tai-me
N. Scott Momaday
University of New Mexico Press
MSC05, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131
9780826348210, $21.95

"The Journey of Tai-me" is a classic collection of Kiowa heritage tales, stories, and histories, first gathered by N. Scott Momaday with the help of his Kiowa father as interpreter in 1963. Originally published as a handmade, limited edition of 100 copies in 1967, "The Journey of Tai-me" is a reissuing of the famous original which is accepted as the source of Momaday's better-known work, "The Way to Rainy Mountain." Beautifully illustrated with copies of the original etchings by the author, "The Journey of Tai-me" is a rich source of the Kiowa oral tradition "enduring through indefinite time." "The Journey of Tai-me" is a historic literary treasure, not to be missed.

Guy LaBree, Barefoot Artist of the Florida Seminoles
Carol Mahler, author
Guy La Bree, artist
University Press of Florida
15 Northwest 15th Street, Gainesville, FL 32611
9780813034300, $34.95

"Guy LaBree, Barefoot Artist of the Florida Seminoles" is a comprehensive, well-researched biography of the well known artist of the Florida Seminoles. Enriched by 42 color plate reproductions of famous paintings by LaBree, the biography gives haunting glimpses into Seminole culture and Florida history. The book is divided into chapters that parallel themes in LaBree's paintings on Seminole Legends (with associated paintings), Seminole Life and Traditions, Seminole History, and Florida Wildlife. Two Forewords are written by James Billie and Jacob Osceola, and the Afterword is done by Elgin Jumper. Masterfully gathered and carefully sifted throughout with shining strands of Floridian light, "Guy LaBree, Barefoot Artist of the Florida Seminoles" give full tribute to the artist and his subject matter.

Bumbling Through Sumatra, Bumbling Traveler Volume 2
Tom Schmidt, author/illustrator
Kaikibubu Media Limited
7A Will Commercial Building, 28-36 Wing Kut Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
9789881806666, $12.95

"Bumbling Through Sumatra" is an educational, comic adventure tracing a mythic architect's bumbling stumbles through the Strait of Malacca, ports in Malaysia, and across Sumatra, "one of the most important and fascinating places on the planet right now," with regard to the threatened rate of destruction of rainforests, habitats, ecosystems, and cultural erosion. "Bumbling Through Sumatra" presents these challenges in the guise of the clumsy travels of a fictitious cast of a "rag-tag troupe of international backpackers" who are determined to "See the world before (they) leave it." Driven by a mysterious quest for ancient cultural knowledge in the area, the group embarks on a series of adventures and explorations that take them from Borneo to Malaysia and to Sumatra and the Mentawi Islands through pirate-infested ports and waters. Amidst the 200 plus comic illustrations and maps and charts, a great deal of hard data about the area around Sumatra is presented. A telling list of Bumbling Traveler Tips at the end of the book help communicate the underlying philosophy of the author. They include sections titled Learn About the Country, Behavior, Transportation, Support the Locals, and Minimize Your Environmental Impact. An additional list of internet resources points to more information about Sumatra and surrounding areas. "Bumbling Through Sumatra" is first rate education disguised as entertainment, appealing to both young adults and more mature audiences.

Cameras for Kids
John Crippen
Privately Published
9781449502355, $14.95

"Cameras for Kids: Fun and Inexpensive Projects for the Little Photographer" is a great teaching manual for teaching kids fourth grade and up basic camera photography. "Cameras for Kids" is divided into three sections: Introduction to the Basics, Camera Shooting Projects, and Arts and Crafts with Your Photos. In addition, there is a suggested supply list with color photos of standard items for camera work and there is a handy star rating system for projects from one to three stars that gives the instructor an idea of the difficulty of the project and the ages each project might be suitable for. "Cameras For Kids" is a practical, well-organized, hands-on book, with clear instructions, photo illustrations of great examples, and lots of fun tips. Kids, parents, and teachers will enjoy using "Cameras for Kids" for their photography, and related crafts and projects.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

Zoe Roxanne Ztar/Kakas
Mystic Publishers
9781934051375, $14.95,

In "Mindmuscle: A Simple Realist Guide To Physical, Mental & Spiritual Fitness", author Zoe Roxanne Ztar/Kakas draws upon her more than twenty-five years of experience and expertise as a fitness introductory learning group exercise and personal training courses to aid the reader in identifying personal problems and barriers to living an optimal life of personal satisfaction, emotional development, and spiritual accomplishment. "Mindmuscle" provides practical, realistic, and thoroughly 'user friendly' techniques for a journey of self-examination and the setting of personal goals. "Mindmuscle" covers a comprehensive diversity of thematically relevant issues including positive thinking, prayer, goal setting, the value of gratitude, eating disorders, dieting, keeping a food inventory, and more. The general principles laid out in "Mindmuscle" are readily adaptable and can be integrated into whatever the reader's current exercise and/or fitness program. Informed and informative, "Mindmuscle" is highly recommended reading for anyone of any age seeking to emancipate themselves from the expectations of others and the tyranny of compulsive consumerism arising from culturally reinforced definitions of the 'perfect body'.

Nature's Beloved Son
Bonnie J. Gisel & Stephen J. Joseph
Heyday Books
PO Box 9145, Berkeley, CA 94709
9781597141260, $35.00,

One of America's most famous and influential conservationists, and a founder of the Sierra Club, writer and environmental pioneer, John Muir is an icon to the generations that followed him down to this very day. In "Nature's Beloved Son: Rediscovering John Muir's Botanical Legacy", environmental historian, curator of the Sierra Club's LeConte Memorial Lodge in Yosemite National Park, and an expert on the life and work of John Muir, Bonnie Johanna Gisel has provided an informed and informative commentary for this newly released coffee-table book sized paperback edition of the John Muir plant catalog. Enhanced with the photography of Stephen J. Joseph, "Nature's Beloved Son" is a 248-page compendium showcasing John Muir's contributions to the botanical study of plant specimens. Of special note is the inclusion of 'John Muir's Botanical Bibliography'. Simply stated, no personal, professional, academic, or community library Environmental Studies reference collection in general, or John Muir Studies reading list in particular, can be considered comprehensive or complete without the inclusion of "Nature's Beloved Son".

Woodworking Business
A. William Benitez
Positive Imaging, LLC
9016 Palace Parkway, Austin, TX 78748
9780984248032, $19.95,

In just 192 pages, A. William Benitez takes the reader through a comprehensive do-it-yourself course on transforming woodworking from a creative and practical hobby to a flourishing and successful business enterprise. Thoroughly 'user friendly', "Woodworking Business: Start Quickly and Operate Successfully: An Expert Woodworker Reveals The Keys To Succeeding In The Woodworking Business" covers every aspect of becoming a woodworking entrepreneur beginning with meeting local business regulations; calculating project costs' contracts and forms; recruiting customers (especially with a shoe-string marketing budget); utilizing a web site as a 24-hour showroom; dealing with the IRS, accounting and taxes; and building up a 'brand name' recognition for your work and your company. Practical, superbly organized and presented, "Woodworking Business" should be considered mandatory reading for anyone seeking to establish their woodworking pastime into a full-fledged and profitable business.

Hearken, O Ye People
Mark Lyman Staker
Greg Kofford Books
PO Box 1362, Draper, UT 84020
9781589581135, $34.95,

Joseph Smith was the prophetic founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, most commonly known to the public at large as 'The Mormon Church' and headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. Most of the prophetic revelations that Smith received were while he lived in the state of Ohio. In "Hearken, O Ye People: The Historical Setting of Joseph Smith's Ohio Revelations", a 694-page compendium of historical research and commentary by Mark Lyman Staker (Senior Researcher, LDS Church History Department) each one of those revelations (most of which are collected in the sacred volume of LDS texts called the "Doctrine & Covenants") is provided with a detailed historical background and context for each of these canonized revelations. Informed and informative, "Hearken, O Ye People" is a seminal work of impressive scholarship and strongly recommended reading for students of 19th Century Mormon History in general, and the prophetic revelations of Joseph Smith in particular.

Muslim, Christian And Jew
David Liepert
Faith of Life Publishing
c/o Yorwerth Associates
410 Fieldstone Drive, Bozeman, MT 59715
9780981388205, $15.95,

The Abramhamic religions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism are a great deal in common with respect to their advocacy of peace, justice, the brotherhood of man, compassion, generosity to the less fortunate, honesty, and the honoring of the family. Yet down through the centuries there is a long history of violence between all three of these communities that continues to be manifest today in acts of terrorism, war, and discrimination. Must it always be so? That is the question addressed in the pages of "Muslim, Christian, and Jew: Finding a Path to Peace Our Faiths Can Share" by Canadian author David Liepert, who draws upon scripture, history, his many years of experience and expertise with respect to interfaith relations, and his own personal journey from being a Christian to converting to Islam. Peace is not only possible, but ultimately inevitable -- if we are willing to work at it and practice the tenants that are the foundation of all three faiths. Highly recommended for community library "Religion/Spirituality" collections, "Muslim, Christian, and Jew: Finding a Path to Peace Our Faiths Can Share" is especially recommended reading for anyone concerned with the continuing parochial animosities that have caused so much misery in the name of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Finding The Right Man For You
Lawrence J. Danks
Privately Published
9780578048093, $13.95,

The urge to find a mate is deeply rooted into human biology. But there's more to the selection process than simple lust or ticking biological reproduction clocks. The finding of just the right partner to go through life with is often more than just a one time task, but can be a necessity imposed by divorce or the death of a spouse. There are a wealth of 'how to' and 'what to do' books available to women seeking dating advice. What makes "Finding The Right Man For You: Dating Advice for Women" stand apart from the crowd is that its author, Lawrence J. Danks, offers a male perspective as he gives a wealth of insightful, practical, and useful advice on dating. Especially when the dating process is complicated by children, work, and health issues. Of special note is Danks' counsel on how to detect and avoid men who misrepresent themselves. Enhanced and illustrated with anecdotal stories and inspired quotations, informed and informative, and thoroughly 'user friendly', "Finding The Right Man For You: Dating Advice for Women" is a very highly recommended reading for women of all ages and situations who are seeking to find just the right man for them!

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

Diana Hannon Forrester
McDiggs Publishing
4817 Heycross Drive, Grove City, OH 43123
9780982096413, $14.95,

Diana Hannon Forrester reinvented herself as a writer after her children grew up and left home to forge their own lives. She discovered her affinity for writing, and figures she should have taken it up sooner. Thoughts for the ages.

Glory Pruitt has just spent two months holed up after her husband died of a heart attack. In another woman's bed. That is the first of several shocks she is about to receive. The roughly 2.5 million in assets from their business have disappeared, and her husband has been sending flowers to a number of women in town. Camden, Ohio is a town full of pedigrees, and its insulation begets snobbery that Glory doesn't really understand. But the shadows are full of menace, and it is up to Glory to put it all together:

"My front door was unlocked when I arrived home. I couldn't remember if I'd locked it before I left for Studs Unlimited or not. It seemed like I'd left days ago and anything was possible. I pushed it open and stepped inside.

'Anybody here?' I called out.

My voice echoed in the stillness. For a moment I stood quietly, listening for an answer. The silence in the house was heavy, artificial. The drawers of my desk were open and papers were strewn across its top. I knew I hadn't left it that way. I fingered through the papers and saw the mail was still there where I'd left it and felt a shiver crawl up my back. I didn't know if it was seeing the envelope from my mother's lawyer or something else. I wondered if Kate might have stopped by to have another look at the desk."

Forrester's talent is that she sets up scenes guaranteed to make the reader want to scream out at Glory to be careful. Glory's character is someone who has been sheltered her entire life and suddenly has to function on her own in the midst of an evil presence determined to bring her down. Forrester carefully paces the story so that Glory has to either adjust or literally die, which makes for a hair-raising spine tingler of a mystery, and one that the reader simply can't put down. GLORY is a winner.

Death at Solstice
Lucha Corpi
Arte Publico Press
452 Cullen Performance Hall, Houston, TX 77204-2004
9781558855472, $15.95,

Lucha Corpi taught for the Oakland Public Schools Neighborhood Centers program for over thirty years. She is a poet and children's books author, as well as publishing her Gloria Damasco mysteries. She also published a mystery introducing Dora Saldana and Brown Angel Investigations called CRIMSON MOON. She has always been an activist and a trail blazer. She is celebrating forty years of writing.

Gloria Damasco runs a private investigations firm with her new husband, Justin. In DEATH AT SOLSTICE she is flying solo, trying to solve a murder in Gold Country, involving the owners of the Oro Blanco winery in Shenandoah Valley. Gloria has always suffered with a "sixth sense" involving her dreams, and this time her radar is on full tilt.

A woman in the household has been murdered, and a young woman with "saintly" ways has been kidnapped. There is also a valuable pair of earrings that have been stolen. Gloria has to connect the dots, and the urgency of her mission becomes clear as the clock ticks down and more dead bodies pile up. Her investigations uncover a dirty cop; an illegal smuggling operation; and a string of violence:

"'Marshall was already there, probably getting rid of self-incriminating evidence.'

'I suspected he was dirty. Now we can do something about it,' Finn said.

'And we have an eyewitness,' Cantero added. 'I'm going to have a talk with Thorpe as soon as I get back. We need to get protection for this young woman.'

'Will the sheriff agree to it, considering the political fallout?'"

Ms. Corpi's political activism covers a wide range of issues in this well-crafted story. Exploitation of women desperate for a better life is in the forefront. The beauty of the culture that we work so hard in this country to stamp out is another. Ms. Corpi writes with a respect for all cultures, even as she teaches us about the religion, art, and beauty of others. DEATH AT SOLSTICE is a riveting, graceful, and immensely spiritual story told through the eyes of the courageous Gloria Damasco; who is a role model for all of us. A wonderful read for summer nights!

Sounds of Murder
Patricia Rockwell
Cozy Cat Press
2452 Reflections Drive, Aurora, IL 60502
9780984479504, $14.95,

Patricia Rockwell's main career lies in teaching. She holds a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Nebraska, and a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. She held a faculty position at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette for thirteen years and retired in 2007. She published the requisite number of articles in her field, which interestingly enough, was in sarcasm. She also specialized in vocal cues. SOUNDS OF MURDER is her premiere mystery.

Professor Pamela Barnes specializes in sounds within the Psychology Department at Grace University. Her department is small, with only ten faculty members and one departmental secretary. But the department has its prima donna, in the form of one Charlotte Clark. Charlotte is less than popular, so as murders go, she was the prime target for almost everyone in the department. Pamela Barnes and her graduate assistant have the misfortune of finding the body in the computer lab. The faculty is completely terrorized, and so it falls to Pamela to become a sleuth, much to the chagrin of her doting, hunky husband Rocky. She examines the recording device in the lab and has a lead:

"'Are you crazy?' he huffed, 'This is not some academic research project, Pammie. This is a murder. Somebody killed this woman and here you have a recording of them doing it. If they found out you had this, your life would be in danger. As it is, your life is in jeopardy. I mean, you found the body. You can't go digging around the crime scene looking for clues. That could get you killed-just like Charlotte.'"

Ms. Rockwell's first mystery is well crafted and lots of fun. She draws on her own experience, no doubt, to present characters that are true to form in a faculty setting: the prima donna; the hardworking secretary; the chair with secrets to hide; the tenure nominees; Pam's women friends; etc. She also includes some yummy recipes and a margarita outing between the women that is delicious. Her timing is impeccable, her plot jumps along, and the killer is well hidden until the final denouement. SOUNDS OF MURDER is a great read for a summer day. Hopefully we'll hear more from Pamela and her new job as a first-rate detective.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

The Clouds Roll Away
Sibella Giorello
Thomas Nelson Publishing
Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
978595545343, $14.95,

Raleigh Harmon is our main character in this outstanding chiller of a read. Raleigh has returned to her hometown, Richmond, Virginia and her adventure is about to begin. She is thrown into an investigation of a cross burning at a famous rappers mansion. Her work is made even harder because of her boss at the bureau, a boss who never gives her a break. If that isn't enough, Raleigh is still mourning over the death of her beloved father, her ex-boyfriend is thrown back into her life, and her mother is having some mental issues that bring her much concern. Poor Raleigh. Great character development with Raleigh. I felt I truly knew her the way the author worked her emotions within the read allowing me, as the reader, to experience what was happening to a higher degree. Excellent.

As the story progresses, Raleigh tries desperately to keep her life from falling apart but the case is getting stranger by the moment and Raleigh wonders just who is the victim and what, or who is truly behind all the strange happenings. The final challenge, staying alive. What a ride.

I enjoyed this read, it had just the right mix of suspense and mystery while it gave the reader a true story of the main character, nicely interweaving them into one thrill of a read. Very well done, recommended.

Clouded Rainbow
Jonathan Sturak
Pendan Publishing
P.O. Box 50641, Henderson, NV 89016
9780982589403 $11.95

As we begin this read we meet, Roger Belkin, a business man who seems to have the world by the tale. We also meet his wife, Lois, the love of his life, the one who makes his heart sing and his world a paradise. Ahh, you just have to love it, how often do you find this type of love inside a book or in real life for that matter. Great character development of a relationship.

Roger and Lois are going out on a 'date' and while they are on their way home a terrible storm erupts, one that causes them to be in a bad accident, and one that will change their lives forever.

As the emergency personal take care of the injured, Roger and Lois are sent to different hospitals, separated, and here begins the whipping of a story that weaves around in your brain, and your emotions as you wait for the final conclusion, which in itself is one you do not see coming, or do you? Two people, separated by more than a distance, separated by more than circumstances, yet bound together by love. This story will grab you and not let go. Emotional, chilling and definitely not what I expected, but it far surpassed what I thought it would be. I would have never guessed the theme of this book would go where it did, nor the impact it had upon me as I finished it. Sorry folks that is all I'm going to say, you simply will have to read this work to understand. I believe you will enjoy this book and gladly recommend it.

Cecil Learns To Smile
Charlotte Bucher
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd, Parker, Colorado 80134
9781432749927, $19.95,

In this delightful children's book we meet, Cecil, a tadpole who is much smaller than the rest of his family. Cecil soon learns that he is suppose to be small because he is a green tree frog. However, when all his family moves away to bigger trees and forests, Cecil feels very lonely and sad; but all of that was about to change. A strange human enters the picture and does something very nice for Cecil that changes his life and brings him a great big smile. What happened, well you will have to read the book to find out, but I'm sure it will make you smile as well. Don't you just love happy endings?

I enjoyed this book. The illustrations were very colorful and went nicely with the storyline. The story itself is a wonderful one, leaving the reader with the understanding that there is always hope for a bright future, we just never know what is in store for us, so we should never lose heart. This is an uplifting book and one that every child and adult will enjoy. Very nicely done.

Pork Chop
David Edminister
Outskirts Press
10940 Parker Rd, Parker CO 80134
9781432753450, $15.95,

I believe we all, from child to adult, deal with fears and it is never pleasant. Some fears we unintentionally bring on ourselves, as was the case with little Pork Chop. Pork Chop loved the story of The Three Little Pigs, and had his mother read it to him everyday. Unfortunately the wolf brought him great fear, even giving him nightmares of a wolf attack. One day Pork Chop decides he is going to get strong so he does not have to be afraid anymore. He studies martial arts and becomes very good at it. I loved this part, Master Wun Long Tusk was too cute. Here you will follow him through his adventure and see what happens when Pork Chop confronts his greatest fear.

This is one great book. The illustrations are vivid and alive bringing you right into the world of the characters. The storyline deals with an issue everyone faces, fear, and allows the reader to see how this was overcome by our main character. It is upbeat, fun, and gives a great life lesson.

What more do you need for your child. Very enjoyable, great book. Recommended.

The Yellow Hummer
Ivet Graham Morgan
Outskirts Press Inc.
1041 Parker Road, Parker, CO. 80517
9781432747848, $19.95,

It's the wonderful season of Christmas and Jordan is excited. He goes with his mom to a party and gets a very special present. Jordan is so happy as he peeks and sees a yellow hummer inside the box. Running home he shows his grandmother who decides to help him open the package. Unfortunately an accident happens and grandma breaks his present. Jordan is very sad, and so is grandma. What will happen? Will Jordan put things before people, or will he understand accidents happen and forgiveness is bliss.

"The Yellow Hummer," is a very nice story. It is told in a loving way, building up the excitement of the moment of receiving a very special gift. However it shows that sometimes in life things happen that are not pleasant and we must decide how we are going to deal with these happenings. It opens the door for a child to feel the emotions of the loss, yet gives them the opportunity to see the sorrow of the person who accidently caused that loss. They can chose to agree with Jordan or to harbor anger..A tender book of love and understand, loss and gain, and a lesson for all to learn.

Sophie Redesigned
Karen Dahood
Outskirts Press
1041 Parker Avenue, Parker, CO 80517
9781432753443, $14.95,

Sophie has lost her husband, but her life is not empty. and she is determined to live it to the fullest. She has moved to Florida, Dorado Bay, and here she meets a police detective, Sam. Sophie knows her way around the internet, after all she has worked in the library for years, so it was not unusual for her to offer her services to Sam to find out information that could help find the guilty of a very dangerous crime that occurred in Dorado Bay. Sam isn't sure at first, but decides to give Sophie a shot and soon the two of them on on their way to solving not one, but several murders in this crime. What a ride.

I loved this book, I basically loved everything about it, from the beginning to the end it was top-notch. I was drawn into it by the peppy personality of Sophie, she is quite the gal. I could identify with the main characters from the get-go and felt as if I had known them for a long time. The author did a superior job at bringing their true selves to the surface, intertwining them to each other in the storyline where they fit like a well bought shoe in the parts of the story they played. The local was well defined in each place that you were taken, and the story had layers upon layers of mystery within it, that kept you trying to figure it out before the end of the read. It wasn't just a mystery read however, but one of human emotions that made the story real, alive, and that was a very good selling point.

I look forward to reading other books by author, Karen Dahood. She has a talent for bringing a fresh vibrant flare to a story without losing the deep mystery you look for. She adds a pinch of romance, humor, family, mystery, and stirs it all up to make one delicious read. Well done, thank you for giving me several enjoyable nights of reading. I look forward to more, keep up the good work.

2012 Maya End Date: A New Beginning
Edward Curry
Merline & Associates
963 Quail Run Quay, Virginia Beach VA 23452
9780981468426, $14.95,

We are all wondering just what will happen in the year 2012, aren't we? It seems no one can absolutely say that nothing will happen, yet few want to believe that something earth shaking will occur. We just do not know, that fact in itself leaves us wide open.

I did not have the opportunity to read the first book in this series, however I was able to jump right in with this one. The characters were very well defined within this story and you were brought up to speed. I like the way the author brought his characters down to size and allowed the reader to merge with them. The husband wife team that heads the adventure and are the main characters are very likeable and at times downright humorous, and with the addition of their child they became a down to earth family, although they lived quite an adventurous life. Good job.
The story wraps around the prophecy of the Maya end as they travel into the adventure of their life. The author backs up his writing with research and that is thrilling in itself.

In this book you will find facts, fiction, adventure, characters and events that are hair-raising, and a plot that demands your attention. A very well written piece of work and one that anyone interested in the year 2012 will not be able to put down, or anyone that wants an adventure of a life-time read.

Power of Vitamin D
Sarfraz Zaidi, MD
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Rd, Parker, CO 80134
9781432748104, $15.95,

If you read any of my reviews you know that I am always interested in books that may help our health, so I was happy to review this work on vitamin D. Dr. Zaidi certainly knows what he is talking about, that is evident from the beginning of the book to the end. I was very surprised to learn of all the reasons we need the correct amount of Vitamin D, and all that is does within our bodies. There are so many problems that happen without the proper amount of this vitamin. It will amaze you. This book does not read as a medical journal, but is written in a way that is easily understand by simple people like myself. It is broken down into topics that are easily accessed. He gives patient studies, scientific studies, and much more.

The information is vast and can be referred to whenever needed at the flip of a page. I truly feel this is a must have book, one where you can take your time, slowly read over the information and use it to better your health in so many areas. Very well done, and highly recommended.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Model of the Universe
Bobby McGehee
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449067922, $11.99,

What is the origin of the universe? Where is it going? These questions drive many of today's scientists. "Model of the Universe: With Laws of Physics" discusses one man's theories of the universe as Bobby McGehee places his own studies and work throughout his life onto paper on how he believes the universe truly works. Intriguing and fascinating reading, "Model of the Universe" is something to be considered for anyone fascinated with science.

Chris Masuda
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432748760, $19.95,

When you're put off by deviancy, your dream job is not at a sex shop. "Caterwauler" is the story of one man faced with his own personal hell at a sex shop. Chris Masuda puts together an entertaining novel of facing the quirks of others and how many walks of life share much in common. "Caterwauler" is a choice pick for anyone seeking an offbeat tale.

The Goblin Universe
Adam Rourke
Privately Published
9781601457677, $15.95,

Humanity has been around for thousands of years yet we still don't have the foggiest of what it all means. "The Goblin Universe: Speculations on the Nature of Reality" is the metaphysical and likewise thinking from Adam Rourke as he provides his own thoughts and philosophy on the origins of the universe itself. "The Goblin Universe" is a fascinating and very highly recommended pick for those who commonly try to piece together the big picture.

Solving the American Health Care Crisis
Umang Malhotra
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440180187, $19.95,

America does not have the best health care in the world, one simply has to look at the statistics. "Solving the American Health Care Crisis: Simply Common Sense" is another viewpoint on the current health care crisis as Umang Malhotra uses his world traveling experience to offer his own opinion on how the United States can solve their own health care problems by taking the best executions of other health care systems throughout the world. Thoughtful and thought provoking, "Solving the American Health Care Crisis" is a read well worth considering.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

About Men
Felix Konstandt
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533162703, $10.00,

Men come in different shapes, sizes, and with many different dreams. "About Men" is a collection of short fiction from Felix Konstandt with an array of different men and the challenges they face in life. Noir in nature, the stories prove to be riveting, making "About Men" a choice and highly recommended read.

Creating a World Class Company
Bob Thomas
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781450005142, $22.99,

It's a long road to being something that the world knows, but it can be done. "Creating a World Class Company: A Triumph of the Entrepreneurial Spirit" is a guide to building a company with huge and ambitious aspirations. From getting that first starting capital to becoming a company with good staying power and a steady growth through the years and decades, Bob Thomas provides an insightful and solid read. "Creating a World Class Company" is a very useful read for entrepreneurs with big dreams.

The Rise of Stefan Gregorovic
John Buchanan
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450208512, $18.95,

The rise of a leader is something to behold. "The Rise of Stefan Gregorovic" tells the story of Stefan Gregorvic who gains power during the Soviet era of Russia. His charisma gains him followers and he soon finds himself at odds with the Soviet military as well as the secret Police. A riveting story of Cold War era politics, "The Rise of Stefan Gregorvic" is an enthralling read that won't be easy to put down.

Frugal And Focused Tweeting For Retailers
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
HowToDoItFrugally Publishing
9781451546149, $17.95,

No 'brick and mortar' business can survive in today's marketplace without including the advances in communications technology represented by the computer, the internet, web sites, the Blackberry, Facebook, blogging, and now -- twittering. That's why Carolyn Howard-Johnson's "Frugal And Focused Tweeting For Retailers" should be considered mandatory reading for all business managers over the age of 30. And that's because younger generations than that, the phenomena of twittering is already well established and near universally entrenched. Using 'social media' communications technology is vital for successfully competing in the marketplace regardless of the services or products being offered to a consuming public. "Frugal And Focused Tweeting For Retailers" is a 130-page compendium of invaluable, practical, instruction, tips, and techniques for integrating this new technology into marketing and management, maximizing results for publicity, promotion, advertisements, and sales; customer relations; internal communications, and more, making "Frugal And Focused Tweeting For Retailers" an invaluable and highly recommended addition for personal, professional, academic, and community library instructional reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Island Story
Ayumu Takahashi
One Peace Books
57 Great Jones Street, New York, NY 10012
MM Book Publicity (publicity)
9781935548027, $16.95,

Communes were founded in America during the 19th century motivated by religious conviction and/or economic philosophies. Most of them were gone by the opening decades of the 20th century. Communes once again came into vogue during the 1960s as part of the political and economic turmoil of those times, abetted by counter-cultural youthful idealism. Most of those disappeared by the 1980s. "Island Story: A True Story of a Never Ending Summer" by Ayumu Takahashi is the story of a rare commune founded by a group of inexperienced and cash-strapped fiends who created a truly self-sufficient island community on Okinawa, Japan. The goal was to create an ecological friendly environment, led by Takahashi and his friends. Against a myriad of difficulties and challenges, they ultimately succeeded. "Island Story is the photo-documented history of this remarkable achievement and its impact upon the villagers, visitors, and volunteers. Informed and informative, "Island Story" is a superbly written and presented story that is inspired and inspiring, making it a highly recommended addition to community library collections and personal reading lists.

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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