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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 10, Number 9 September 2011 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

Tarek Shahin
Alkhan Comics
c/o CreateSpace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781461120544 $12.99

Rise: The Story of the Egyptian Revolution as Written Shortly Before It Began is the complete black-and-white comic strip series Al Khan, which originally ran in the Daily News Egypt. Set in Egypt (primarily Cairo), Al Khan follows ordinary people struggling to stay afloat in a corrupt and stagnating nation - Omar, the only quasi-scrupulous investment banker who has returned to Cairo to manage his family's magazine after the 2008 global economic recession; Nada, a reporter striving to channel her passion for social justice into her work; Anwar, the staunch Muslim whose ultra-conservative principles seem outdated (at best) to his colleagues yet who works tirelessly as a doctor and treats indigent patients for free; Anwar's veiled wife Aisha, whose full-body covering does not protect her from sexual harassment on the street; and many more. Although Rise is never graphically violent and never abandons its wry sense of humor, it directly deals with serious social issues, from corporate privatization to an increase in rape gangs on the Egyptian streets. "'You tried to kill a gay infidel?! That is so 1990s! Besides, I thought we had a deal! We'd arrest gays and atheists and in return you extremists would stop violently implementing your interpretation of Sharia! But what you did this morning has given us an excuse to initiate a new crackdown on anyone with a beard!!' 'Your torture methods will create more terrorists!' 'No, trust me, we create more gays!'" Rise comes to a close nine months before the peaceful mass rebellion that the Egyptian people mounted to force a regime change in February of 2011, but the trials, travails, and serious social problems documented within help paint a vivid picture of why such an upheaval was coming and sorely needed. Highly recommended.

Understanding Thomas Sowell
Richard G. Patterson
Privately Published
9781461137788, $12.95,

Thomas Sowell is lauded as one of the leading political philosophers in today's academia. "Understanding Thomas Sowell" is a guide to gaining a better understanding of the man's work as Richard G. Patterson tries to make the man's views clear, which tend to skew Libertarian, so that they may be understood clearly by readers of any political philosophy. "Understanding Thomas Sowell" is worth considering for any political and economical studies collection.

Smorgasbord of Indian Recipes
Achal Kshirsagar
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road -515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432768096, $19.95,

The flavors of India are gaining prominence in American culture. "Smorgasbord of Indian Recipes" is a collection of Indian recipes in wide variety for readers. Achal Kshiragar tells readers how to get started in Indian cooking, complete with novice recipes on top of standard recipes. For anyone who wants an easy introductory into Indian cooking, "Smorgasbord of Indian Recipes" may very well be the book for them.

Bestiary for Business
Erika Schelby
Privately Published
9780615410197, $10.95,

Aesop's words ring forever true. "Bestiary for Business: Adapted from the Fables of Aesop for Gentle Corporate Readers and Raiders" is a collection of thought and fables trying to bring a bit of morality back into the modern business game. Using a cast of animals with human characteristics, Erika Schelby hopes to advance politics to the point where it can be human once more. "Bestiary for Business" is a fine read with a message that is too far forgotten in modern businesses.

50 Ripple Stitches
Darla Sims
Annie's Attic
c/o DRG
9781596353626, $9.95,

Although a basic pattern, ripples are a classic and rightfully so. "50 Ripple Stitches" is a reference guide and book for those who want to fully embrace ripple stitches into their needlework. The patterns within contain easy to follow instructions to gain a mastery of these patterns and how to better embrace it all. "50 Ripple Stitches" is a strongly recommended pick for anyone who enjoys needlework.

Kiss Me Quick, Before I Shoot
Guy Magar
Sea Script Company
PR By the Book (publicity)
PO Box 6226, Round Rock, TX 78683
9780982866344, $18.95,

Hollywood consumes all those involved in it. "Kiss Me Quick, Before I Shoot: A Filmmaker's Journey Into the Lights of Hollywood and True Love" is the show business memoir of Guy Magar who has worked on many films and TV Shows such as la Femme Nikita, the A-Team, and Children of the Corn. With many skirmishes with greatness as well as finding greatness on his own, Guy Magar's tale is one of a man who loves his job and wouldn't give it up for anything. "Kiss Me Quick, Before I Shoot" is a riveting read, not to be overlooked for those who want a fun spin into show business.

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

The Sorcerer's Promise
Susannah Morgan
Susannah Morgan Books/Smashwords Editions
9780983663041, $.99,
Kindle edition: 9780983663003

Charles and Kate return in the second volume of THE SORCERER series: here to engage newcomers and prior fans alike. For the record: Charles is a 200-year-old ghost - a sexy one at that - and California mystery writer Katherine is his cohort. Charles has special powers for a ghost; he can time travel, take over bodies, and either heal or harm.

His talents are now modified: he chooses to not use demons, and so when he returns to Katherine's life, it's with quite a different purpose. He's a reformed ghost now interested in doing right - and his brother has drawn him into the world of mass murder and redemption, a mission that will challenge and change his purposes.

Complicating his purposes is Katherine, his worldly lover, whose husband has just died. A hospital mistake makes her a widow - but since there is an afterlife, Glen isn't really dead...

And Charles becomes involved in a complicated mission juxtaposing romance with struggle when his brother decides to take on a righteous cause - and leaves Charles the caretaker of his earthly body.

From the Middle East and politics to lessons learned in the Afterlife about heaven and hell, Charles and Katherine's romance blossoms and reveals more insights on the nature of being ("With the help of Dante's imaginative work, the Catholic Church sold Hell as a piece of real estate to its adherents. I've searched high and low for Hell. I went to the center of the earth and found it hot, but no devil. I toured around the universe and found only outer space.")

What makes THE SORCERER'S PROMISE stand out from the crowd is an attention to romance, interpersonal interaction, and a focus on healing rifts and bettering the universe - all packaged in the moving story of a ghost searching for meaning and purpose in both good and evil forces.

Add poetic language and Katherine's evolution from a corporal entity to Charles' companion and you have a fine, riveting read recommended for fantasy and romance enthusiasts alike!

Diane C. Donovan

Dunford's Bookshelf

Time Witch
Jacqueline Coccoran
Privately Published
9781461168744, $8.99,

Far from adulthood, the result of the world will be on her young shoulders "Time Witch" tells of a battle of witches and times as the gardens of Dumbarton Oaks hold a portal to a violent conflict of sorcery. Genevieve is only twelve and her role in the prophecy will soon come true, and whether it's for better or worse depends on how swiftly she acts. "Time Witch" is a fun fantasy aimed at younger readers.

Love Company
Leslie A. Brudvig
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432705886, $12.95,

The battles in the boardroom can be more vicious than any war. "Love Company" is a memoir of Les Brudvig as he recalls his group of friends and how they all split and walked their own paths in life. From crime to porn to politics, their walks of life combined into an organization called Love Company, as Brudvig remembers it all with humor rightfully deserving of the offbeat nature of it all. "Love Company" is a thoughtful and original memoir, recommended.

The Hometown
Leena Ceraveeni
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450298414, $16.95,

Finding a new home can lead to many unusual situations. "The Hometown" is a novel following Mala Thomas as she embraces a new spin of life in Houston, Texas and facing life as an Indian-American in the south. A story of career life and finding love, "The Hometown" is worth considering for general fiction collections.

Become Passerby
Jeff Stacy
Privately Published
9781612960067, $16.95,

When the war ends, a soldier is left with some money and uncertainty of life. "Become Passerby" is a novel from Jeff Stacy following Jim Daniels, a young man who after World War II, is left in France with an uncertain knowledge of his future. Drawn by love and a murder mystery, he finds life on his own terms is harder than he expected. A riveting coming of age tale, "Become Passerby" is very much worth considering.

If Only God Would Give Me a Sign!
Linda M. Potter
Bibliocast/Word Keeprs, Inc.
9780979531576, $16.95,

The signs are there, you just need a bit more focus in life. "If Only God Would Give Me a Sign!" is a spiritual guide from Linda Potter as she advises readers on finding their own signs in their lives, and using these signs to push one's life into the divinely inspired path one seeks. For those looking to find God in more aspects of your life, "If Only God Would Give Me a Sign!" is well worth considering for any Christian who feels the signs to a more inspired life are there, just out of their view.

Ramblings of My Mind
Thelma Louise Jefferson
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533163069, $10.00,

Through it all, our emotions and how we deal with life determine who we are. "Ramblings of My Mind" is a collection of poetry from Thelma Louise Jefferson as she presents her own study of life with a certain pride behind her roots and upbringing. "Ramblings of My Mind" is worth considering for those seeking down to earth poetry. "The Stranger Within": Who is this stranger I see every day/To one who quietly has nothing to say/The mirror sees a bland face/staring at me/Blinded, hiding eyes that cannot see/Years have fled, death hovering near/Waiting to sever me from those I hold dear/Will death take me and I die/Without knowing the stranger who lives within me?

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Bullet Trains to Yaks
Stan Biderman
Irony Press
c/o Karen Villanueva Author Services
PO Box 25061, Albuquerque, NM 87125
9780983263609, $24.95,

China's culture has rapidly evolved and changed over the past century. "Bullet Trains to Yaks: Glimpses into Art, Politics, and Culture in China and Tibet" is a look into the modern nation of China, a growing super power. Stan Biderman and his photographer friend Kathryn Minette discuss the culture and people of China and what they learned as they explored past China's big three cities of Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. Drawing their own diagnosis on the future of China in the world, "Bullet Trains to Yaks" is an excellent pick for community library photography and culture collections, very much recommended reading.

Terry Bennett
9781859642214, $25.00,

In between the cultural titans of China and Japan, Korea is relatively little known. "Korea: Caught in Time" tells the story of Korea first opening up to the world, favoring a policy of strict isolationism through much of existence. These early photographs focusing on the twilight of the nineteenth century as Japan joined the western world in opening it for trade. A snapshot of a land before a whirlwind of turmoil that came with the twentieth century, "Korea: Caught in Time" is a fascinating and very much recommended read.

The Candlestickmaker
Dennis McDougal
Privately Published
9781456509033, $13.99,

War may be preferred to a home that has become foreign. "The Candlestickmaker" is a novel telling of three young American Navy men as they experience Southeast Asia trying to understand anything and everything about the world that surrounds them. As they uncover the corruption of their own unit, they realize they can't run from everything. With strong coming of age elements, "The Candlestickmaker" is a work of military fiction that is highly recommended.

The Phoenix Resolution
Rich Keene
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450024051, $19.99,

Against all odds, one will try anything to save a loved one. "The Phoenix Resolution" is the story of a family who is facing certain death for their daughter Emily. With the one chance being an unusual experimental treatment, the experiment may only hasten her death, but with only the smallest glimmer of hope, anything is worth a try. "The Phoenix Resolution" is a riveting yet all too true read of what some families face.

Ian McFeat-Smith
Inkstone Books
IMS Tunnel Consultancy Limited
9789889993924, $25.00,

The destruction power of an earthquake should never be underestimated. "Epicentre" is a novel following Dr. Ewan MacLeod as he stumbles upon a serious earthquake that could destroy Hong Kong. Trying to warn the authorities to save millions of lives, hefinds that being a hero is more than knowing, it takes a whole lot of doing. "Epicentre" is a fast paced and very much recommended read, not to be missed.

Ferris Wheel
Katie Jackson
Privately Published
9781257044917, $21.95,

The fate of neighbors is often closer than most would believe. "Ferris Wheel" is a dramatic novel following the plight of Kathryn price and Carson, neighbors who quickly become great friends. But as disease begins to come into their lives and damage their families, they find their friendship will be tested by man obstacles and be helped by it all the same. "Ferris Wheel" is a moving read of neighbor and friendship, highly recommended.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

66 Ways Caregivers Solve the Alzheimer Puzzle
Annie Kate Gaskins Laws
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432774455, $10.95,

Losing one's mind is truly tragic when it's not hyperbole. "66 Ways Caregivers Solve the Alzheimer Puzzle" is a collection of stories of care givers facing patients with this crippling and fearful disorder. Poignant and empathetic, Annie G. Laws uses her own experience and hopes it will ring true with others who are facing this demon of a disease in the eye. "66 Ways Caregivers Solve the Alzheimer Puzzle" is a simple, recommended collection.

The Power of WOW
Lori Bryant-Woolridge
Viva Editions
c/o Cleis Press
2246 Sixth Street
Berkeley, CA 94710-2219
9781573446563, $15.95,

Confidence is sexy, and it's not just for men seeking women. "The Power of WOW: A Guide to Unleashing the Confident, Sexy You" is a self-help guide to embracing the confidence in life fully and more completely. Too often the pressures of life batter us into submission, but the advice of Lori Bryant-Woolridge gives plenty of advice to be a force as a woman, as a mother, and a lover. "The Power of WOW" is a charming and empowering read, highly recommended.

A Practical Guide for Raising a Self-Directed and Caring Child
Louis J. Lichtman
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450293617, $16.95,

The amount of control to have over a child's life is often hard to accurately measure. "A Practical Guide for Raising a Self-Directed and Caring Child" is a parenting guide that argues for encouraging independence and self-direction in a child's life, advocating that building self-esteem with good discipline is key to being well adjusted and successful in today's world. "A Practical Guide for Raising a Self-Directed and Caring Child" is worth considering for those who are considering differing approaches to parenting.

Ordinary World
Elisa Lorello
PO Box 400818, Las Vegas, NV 89140
9781935597360, $13.95,

It's hard to put together a life that is in total shambles. "Ordinary World: The Sequel to Faking It" follows Andi Vanzant as she to cope with the recent and sudden death of her husband. Putting up a strong face, she finds that keeping it locked away for so long carries many problems. "Ordinary World" is a fine read about coping with life's challenges and finding the power to find friendship and move on through life. "Ordinary World" is an excellent read that shouldn't be missed, highly recommended.

Secrets from Behind the Chair
Cherie Jobe
Privately Published
9780615397184, $19.99,

Hairdressers are privy to many of the secrets of the world. "Secrets from Behind the Chair" is a memoir from hairdresser Cherie Jobe as she reflects on what she's learn and the fun she's had as a hair dresser, as she shares her own learned wisdom and what's she's taken from her clients over the years. With humor and honesty, "Secrets from Behind the Chair" is an excellent pick for anyone looking for a fresh memoir.

Looking Out the Back Door
Ann Richardson Davis
Privately Published
9780972838641, $15.99,

Life comes at us in many ways with much understanding. "Looking Out the Back Door: Visions of Past Lives" is a collection of short stories from Ann Richardson Davis as she discusses the experiences that bond us all, through time and through family. Seeking to embrace that connection in her stories, "Looking Out the Back Door" is a thoughtful collection of short fiction that will appeal to anyone seeking short stories with a personal and spiritual element.

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

Jillian Lauren
c/o Penguin - Putnam
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780452297340 $15.00

Beth "Bebe" Baker worked at Rudy's in Toledo when Aaron the horn player on tour with jazz star Billy Coyote enters the dive. He had three things going for him and one negative. The positives are the horn like Bebe's pop, his being very tall like she is, and his kiss. However, he also seems tentative as if he cannot play the final note. Bebe hops on the tour bus as it leaves Toledo.

In Los Angeles the band becomes marooned. Bebe becomes a stripper while Aaron's drug use increasingly gets out of control until he dies in a car crash that leaves her physically scarred and emotionally damaged. Over the next year Bebe goes to rehab vocational facility while attending beauty school. As she tries to reinvent herself by staying clean and grieve her hero, Bebe also sees schizophrenic Jake.

This is an intriguing character study of a woman who makes bad choices on her life as she seems to repeat her errors. Bebe is a fascinating protagonist who though she goes to school and sees another man, has not moved passed her loss of Aaron. Besides some sympathy over his death, readers will not empathize with Bebe as every time she takes a big leap forward, she follows up with gigantic leaps backward. Readers will appreciate Jillian Lauren's look at a complicated individual who believes graduation will prove her savior.

Repeat It Today With Tears
Anne Peile
Serpent's Tail
3A Exmouth House
Pine Street, London, England, EC1R 0JH
c/o Meryl Zegarek Public Relations
255 West 108th Street, Suite 901
New York, NY 10025
9781846687471 $14.95

In 1972 London, Susanna is a disaffected teen who cares about nothing. Her pathetic mother and acrimonious older sister ridicule Susanna while her friends are not true BFFs. School is no escape for her as it is boring though she is intelligent having taken the Oxford exam early. Her only attachment is her obsession over her absent Welsh dad John ap Rhys Owen of whom she never met.

Susanna finds out that her dad fiftyish Jack the artist lives in Chelsea. She visits him and kisses him on the lips while failing to inform the immediately besotted Jack who she is. They begin an affair not worrying about what will happen if the truth of their filial connection becomes known to anyone including Jack.

This is a stunning character driven incestuous drama in which the first part of what Susanna does will shock the reader who knows what Jack does not. However, the second half seems even darker as the outside world begins to penetrate the incest world of father and daughter. Not an easy read as the subject is taboo; fans will appreciate the well written Repeat It Today With Tears.

All Cry Chaos
Leonard Rosen
Permanent Press
4170 Noyac Road, Sag Harbor, NY 11963
9781579622220 $29.00

Thirty years old American mathematician James Fenster is in Amsterdam to give a talk on his mathematical economics formula to at the World Trade Organization conference. However, instead of the speech, he dies in a terrorist explosion at his hotel; the killer used a smart bomb military-grade rocket fuel.

Although his health is poor and he grieves the deaths of his loved ones at the hands of a vicious Serbian war criminal, Interpol agent Henri Poincare leads the investigation. He starts with those close to Fenster like the victim's former fiancee and his grad assistant; as both are missing. However, the inquiry leads away from the females to a militant Christian Rapture group, but Poincare cannot rule out others interested in the late professor's models.

This super cerebral police procedural is a terrific whodunit with a mathematical formula as the key to the homicide. The story line focuses on chaos theory as Poincare quickly learns while dealing with the mathematician's fractured personal life, religious fanatics and rival economists, and his own chaotic brain. Readers who enjoy something different in their puzzlers will appreciate the aptly titled All Cry Chaos.

The Captive Trail
Susan Page Davis
Moody Press
820 North Lasalle Drive
Chicago, IL 60610
9780802405845 $14.99

As a little child she was abducted from her family and forced to become a Numinu Comanche or starve. Years later in 1857 North Central Texas, Peca offers the insultingly low six horses to her adopted parents to make Taabe Waipu his squaw. Taabe fears Peca so instead flees hoping to find her white family. Instead she falls when her horse stepped into a hole.

Butterfield Overland Mail Company owner driver Ned Bright sees the body of a Comanche female who is clearly white. With two Sisters on board, he still stops to pick her up and take her to Fort Chadbourne. The two nuns take Taabe to their mission where she heals from dehydration and a broken ankle. As she relearns to speak English, Taabe and Ned fall in love, but he feels he owes her finding out who her family is even as the Comanche attack the Ursuline Mission.

The second Morgan family Americana tale (see Darlene Franklin's opener, The Lone Star Trail) is a wonderful romantic suspense starring a strong cast that brings to life Antebellum Texas. Character driven, still the story line is loaded with action. However, although Ned is too heroic, the heroine owns the tale as her struggles to readapt are skillfully described as a key element in a warm Texas romance.

The Lady of the Storm
Kathryne Kennedy
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139
Naperville, IL 60563
9781402236532 $7.99

The humans rebel against the malevolent Elven lords who control much of England. The hope of the rebels lies with hybrid Cecily Sutton, daughter of Imperial Lord Breden Elven Lord of Dewhame and a human female. At nines years of age she was placed in hiding with fifteen year Giles Beaumont assigned to keep Cecily safe.

By 1734, the Elven learns who she is, where she hides in Devon, and what she means to the resistance. She is a threat to the Elven who must die. Cecily knows she loves her guardian who is a dunderhead when it comes to his feelings for her though any time he has sex with a woman he dreams of her. As they head to the center of the storm, she must learn to control her magic to use as the critical weapon against the oppressors.

The latest Kathryne Kennedy Georgian romantic fantasy (see The Fire Lord's Lover) is a fabulous tale that deftly provides an alternative historical England in which Elven Lords brutally rule. The story line is leisurely paced as the relationship between the lead couple evolves while they flee from a persistent lethal adversary. Sub-genre readers will enjoy a trek into the Kennedy realm.

The Vampire Next Door
Ashlyn Chase
9781402236631 $6.99

Sly Flores the vampire misses his wife who died over two decades ago. Now a caring loner except for his daughter Merry, he patrols his neighborhood keeping it safe from crime. One night Sly intervenes when a mugger attacks a young woman. He takes a bite into the felon only to chip a fang on the dude's sterling silver knockoff bling, which is poison to his kind.

He quickly races to the apartment of his friend Morgaine the psychic healer so that she can cure him of his illness. Morgaine loves Sly; she makes the elixir he needs. Meanwhile apartment 1b dubbed the "love shack" below that of Morgaine becomes vacant; so Merry plans to move her lonely dad in so that he and Morgaine can become an entry. At the same time that his offspring pulls his string, others plan to keep Sly and Morgaine apart.

To the delight of fans, Ashlyn Chase provides a wonderful romantic urban fantasy in which readers will believe that a vampire, a wiccan and other paranormal live next door. Sly is attracted to Morgaine but fails to act on it though she encourages the love of her life to do so; as do his daughter and other caring souls. The suspense enhances the romance between the vampire and the wiccan in the Chase universe.

Jeanette Baker
9781402255861 $9.99

Kate Sutherlands' adoptive mom Bonnie's last wish was for her ashes to be spread over their homeland the Shetland Islands. Kate leaves Laguna Beach for Scotland to perform the deathbed request but remains stunned that her late mom had not conceived her as she was unaware until recently she was adopted. Wiccan Celia Ward informs Kate that the reasons for what happened can be found from Pectiwita High Priestess Maura Sutherland on Cait Ness Isle.

Maura has waited for Kate to come home. Meanwhile Kate is attracted to Niall McCormick while she also dreams of a woman who historian Niall MacCormack says is the late Countess of Bothwell Catriona Wells of the court of King James IV. Accused of treason, Catriona tries to save her brother's life while only Patrick MacKendrick may save hers.

This is an intriguing paranormal romance as Catriona's tragic life haunts Kate who cannot move on until she resolves what happened five centuries ago so her spirit can finally rest. With a strong support cast then and now, fans will relish this engaging thriller as Kate tries to understand her heritage including why Catriona has come to her.

Making Waves
Tawna Fenske
9781402257216 $7.99

After two months short of twenty years of dedicated work at Kranston Shipping Enterprises, Alex Bradshaw is stunned when his boss Tom Portelli fires him. However, the former executive at the largest shipping firm in the world is upset because he and others were left with nothing. He refuses to sit idly by especially when his former employer has arranged an illegal diamond shipment in the Caribbean. Alex and other downsized suits decide to intercept the cargo.

Juli Flynn meets Alex in a bar the night before she is heading to the Virgin Islands' St. John to spread the ashes of her late uncle. She boards the wrong ship. When she awakens from a nap she finds herself as the only non former suit on the vessel. Alex does not trust the stowaway while Juli insists on joining their high seas adventure, a big secret and an attraction to the "captain".

This is an amusing zany romance with some suspense. The jocular tale is fun as Juli keeps coming up with one stunner after another; a few she is ignorant about as her late uncle puled a few tricks from the urn. With a quirky support cast, Making Waves is a lighthearted frolic that will remind readers of the madcap Cary Grant-Katherine Hepburn 1930s comedies.

Naomi's Gift: An Amish Christmas Story
Amy Clipston
Zondervan Publishing House
5300 Patterson Avenue, S.E.
Grand Rapids, MI 49530
9780310327356 $14.99

Widower Caleb Schmucker accompanied by his eight year old daughter Susie leaves Ohio to spend time with his sister Sadie Kauffman and her family in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania on the anniversary of his wife Barbara's death in a horrid accident. His daughter asks him to stop at a farmer's market so they can pick up a pie for her Aenti Sadie. Inside the market, Susie vanishes from Caleb's sight giving him a heart attack until he finds her discussing quilts with Naomi King. He likes how kind the woman is with his daughter whose late mom was into quilting.

His family and friends want the buggy maker to stay. His sibling tries to hook him up with Irene Wagler whose father owns Wagler's Buggies in Intercourse. However, he is attracted to Naomi whose reputation for chasing after men (Timothy Kauffman in A Place of Peace) and Luke Troyer in A Promise of Hope) makes her unacceptable to his sister. However, it is the way Naomi treats Susie that has him willing to take a second chance on love.

With ties through the secondary characters to the Kauffman Amish Bakery series, Naomi's Gift is a warm second and third chance at love Amish romance. The secondary characters are critical to the delightful story line with Sadie interfering, Susie "choosing" and Irene uninterested in the daughter. Readers will enjoy this Amish Christmas Story as the way to a widower's heart is through loving his daughter too.

Thunder In the Morning Calm
Don Brown
9780310330141 $14.99

U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Gunner McCormick as the intelligence officer assigned to the Pacific Rim Carrier Strike Force 10 arrives at the office of Naval Intelligence in Suitland, Maryland for a top secret briefing on the fleet joining the South Koreans in a joint exercise in the Yellow Sea. However, the historical background catches Gunner's attention when the report states there are probably still POWs in North Korea though the "Forgotten War" ended in an armistice six decades ago.

Back on the USS Harry Truman in the Yellow Sea, Gunner debriefs the officers and obtains permission for leave from Admiral Hampton as long as he leaves a number where he can be reached. He says he will spend time in Seoul. Thinking of part of the Soldier Creed "will never leave a fallen comrade" and using his inheritance, Gunner obtains the help of two retired soldiers, Jung-Hoon and Jackrabbit, to make a daring unauthorized three person commando raid to liberate the POWs.

The entertaining first Pacific Rim military thriller will obviously remind readers of Rambo (even Gunner's recruits tell him that), but is much more as Don Brown places a spotlight on the Korean Police Action with its sixty years' armistice. The story line rotates between following Gunner and what has happened and is happening in a prison camp in North Korea. Although over the top of Baekdu Mountain, readers will appreciate this terrific rescue attempt with a fascinating late twist as Thunder In the Morning Calm is a super thriller that pays homage to our military especially those who fought in the 1950s in Korea.

Richelle Mead
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10014
9781595143174 $18.99

Four Alchemists arrive at the home of Sydney, her parents and her sister Zoe. Sydney assumes they will send her to a reeducation center for her assistance to Rose Hathaway the dhampir (see the Vampire Academy series). Instead they want Zoe, but her dad says his frightened youngest is not ready to protect other humans from vampires. He suggests Sydney instead. Reluctantly they agree so with a warning they will assign teenaged Sydney to protect Moroi vampire Queen Lissa Dragomir's half-sister Jill from an assassin. The plan is to hide the princess at Amberwood Prep, a Palm Springs, California exclusive school for humans while Sydney poses as Jill's older sister.

Sydney knows this will not be an easy assignment as she has been indoctrinated with the belief that vampires are predatory monsters though her work has her dividing the undead into two sub-species, the evil Strigoi and the Moroi. The safe school includes sleazy Keith who blames Sydney for his troubles and her friend Adrian who helps her though she has a different kind of help in mind. She finds the prep school has unsafe secrets.

The start of a related to the Vampire Academy new series, Bloodlines is an engaging urban fantasy starring an intriguing heroine who keeps the exciting story line focused. Sydney accepts a job she does not want to protect her sister and to gain fatherly approval while hoping to get out of trouble with the Alchemist hierarchy. Besides the fun of crossovers like Adrian, Sydney brings freshness with her personality so different from the extroverted VA protagonists. Although this reviewer has a problem with teenage females dieting to size zero to obtain approval from family and friends, readers will enjoy Sydney's Palm Springs adventures.

The Postmortal
Drew Magary
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10014
9780143119821 $15.00

The postmortals voluntarily have taken the Fountain of Youth Cure gene therapy that allows the recipient to remain eternally young. Though aging has been defeated that does not mean the individual cannot die as accidents, homicides, suicide and illness can still kill a person.

John Farrell who is about to take the Cure soon learns that perpetual life causes a new set of problems as the population explodes since few people are exiting. Resources have failed to keep up since the Cure was found six decades ago and ennui remains a problem for those with nothing to pass the years with like John the blogger. Thus now in 2090 John explains life has issues that are not that different from those who lived in the pre Cure era.

This is superb clever futuristic science fiction that makes the case of eternity does not necessarily denote happiness. The story line focuses on the definitive account by John the blogger that is accepted as an accurate and valid look at the first decades after the Cure because it is written down. The story line is passive, which enhances the belief that eternity is another word for enervating ennui, but also lacks passion and action. With insight on individual and global consequences, fans who enjoy a leisurely something different science fiction tale will want to read The Postmortal.

Inmate 1577
Alan Jacobson
Norwood Press
9780983626008 $29.99

In 1955 in Northfield, New Jersey, the police are on the scene of the murder of Sally MacNalley with her seven year old son Henry as the witness. Her husband Walton arrives and is arrested for the vicious homicide, but a jury found him not guilty. However, his life is shattered though he tried to raise his son.

In the present in San Francisco, SFP Inspector Lance Burdon leads the investigation into the rape, sodomy and murder of an old woman. FBI profiler Karen Vail is sent from DC to San Francisco to assist Burdon and his partner Detective Roxxann Dixon on the vicious homicide of the octogenarian. The FBI agent does not want to return to California after the recent Napa Valley mess (see Velocity and Crush), but does. In spite of the efforts of the trio, the ruthless psychopath rapes and kills other victims. The clues lead to Alcatraz, a tourist attraction for decades, but still the Rock for its surviving former inmates.

The latest Vail police procedural is a fabulous thriller as the sarcastic profiler and the dedicated serious cops struggle to end a psychopath's brutal killing spree. Although serial killers are a too frequent breed in the sub-genre (including the Vail case The 7th Victim), readers will relish this action-packed tale as the Fed, and the locals play cat and mouse with a vicious lunatic.

Canyons of Night
Jayne Ann Krentz writing as Jayne Castle
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10014
9780515149883 $7.99

Fifteen years ago on Rainshadow Island, Charlotte Enright was rescued by her hero Slade Attridge from the assault of three drunken off islander visitors near the Preserve. She already had a young girl's crush on the orphan teenager before he saved her. She explained she could read auras, a useless talent for an arcane while he never was registered as a hunter but will soon leave for the Federal Bureau of Psi Investigation academy.

In the present, Charlotte runs her late Aunt Beatrix's Looking Glass Antiques. Slade has just returned to be the island as the police chief though his talent has become somewhat muted after a traumatic incident though his buddy Rex the dust bunny remains at his side (and on his shoulder). As the pair starts seeing one another, she finds the corpse of a persistent customer who her father felt was a stalker; someone killed Jeremy Gaines in Charlotte's shop.

The final Looking Glass sci-fi romantic suspense (see In too Deep by Jayne Ann Krentz and Quicksilver by Amanda Quick) is an engaging and delightful paranormal police procedural. The romantic subplot within the Rainshadow otherworld realm leads in a slow deliberate manner until the homicide investigation begins about half way into the story line, but still does not pick up much speed. Still fans of the Arcane Society saga will enjoy a visit to the island of Rainshadow.

Foolish Games
Karen Wiesner
Whiskey Creek Press
Box 51052, Casper, WY 82605-1052
978161160155 $17.95

One year ago on New Year's Eve Lydia Samuels died from a brain tumor. She left behind her grieving husband Peter and their two children (thirteen year old James and eleven year old Brenna). The single dad struggles to raise their kids alone while wondering how God could allow such a bad thing to happen to such a good person as his wife.

Kimberly Wolfe works for Peter at the Christian bookstore he owns. She has loved him for years and he considers her family beyond the connection of his sister married to her brother. Lydia tried to hook Kimberly up with good Christian men, but never forgot how her martinet father used the bible to destroy her mother with his God gave man the right philosophy. Besides which none were Peter though she hid her feelings from both of them while envying their relationship. On New Year's Eve, Peter and Lydia share a kiss. He realizes he is attracted to Kimberly but wonders whether he can risk his heart again. Kimberly wants to a take a chance but distrusts men though she tries to forgive her unrepentant father.

The latest Family Heirlooms Christian drama (see Glass Angels) stars a terrific lead couple and a strong (not all kind) support cast. Kimberly and Peter have different issues to overcome before they can consider becoming a couple. Peter especially is a great protagonist as readers will empathize with him. Sub-genre readers will cherish this fine tale with an inspiring final coda from Kim leaving no one's eyes dry.

Souls on Boring Street
Karen Wiesner
Whiskey Creek
Box 51052, Casper, WY 82605-1052
9781603139342 $18.95

Hospice nurse Erin Shanley lives in Briar's Point but works in the nearby big city of Riverbend. She and her neighbor police detective Tyler Shaw love each other, but she has a relationship commitment phobia having watched her womanizing father break her mother's heart; especially when he nastily denied her younger sisters Jacey and Paige were his and even claimed they were Erin's offspring. Two years later when their mom died Erin raised her siblings.

Psychics move in next door, which reverts Boring Street back to its real name of Oring Street as they are anything but ennui. However, Erin becomes concerned when her hospice patients misplace jewelry and sign over their inheritances to the psychics. Unable to resist because dedicated Erin wants the end of life experience to be as smooth as possible, Erin investigates. Tyler struggles with his beloved canine Ned dying, but still has her back as he has since she came home. Erin will need him when someone notices her snooping.

The third Denim Blues Mysteries (see Retired and on the Rocks, and Love Is Blind and It Don't Pay the Bills Either) proves Ty and Erin are wrong about their street being boring as this is an exhilarating amateur sleuth. The story line is driven mostly by Erin who places herself in danger with her inquiry and her distrust of males due to her role model whose accusations led her to be Briar's Point Hester Prynne and leaves her unable to have faith in Ty. With two stunning late twists, fans of the series will relish this terrific entry.

Full Black
Brad Thor
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781416586616 $26.99

The attacks on Americans abroad and on home soil have the CIA and HSD struggling to react. Intelligence strongly confirms a bigger terrorist assault is coming. While working on a secret documentary, movie producer Larry Salomon exposes an affluent anti-American. An apparent Russian wet team arrives in California to silence the producer leaving three dead and the movie maker alive only due to former Delta operative technical consultant Luke Ralston.

Near Uppsalla, Sweden, covert counterterrorism agent Scot Harvath and his team begin a measure to infiltrate a nasty terrorist network while trusting no one in the Intel community. Thus he and his squad go Full Black starting with the capture of computer guru Mansoor Aleem, the nephew of Jihad Mufti, on his way to meet with a cell run by Mustafa Karami and replace him with Sean Chase. While the attacks intensify, time is running out

This exciting action-packed thriller has its first death on page one and never looks back as the action in Sweden and Hollywood expands to other locales with death counts rising rapidly. The story line is fast-paced from that opening sequence in which Horvath breaks the neck of a terrorist and accelerates from there as the field operatives try to prevent full implementation of Project Green Ramp. Full Black is an exciting tale that showcases how vulnerable Europe and America remains to terrorism.

Murder on Puncak Jaya
Charles G. Irion and Ronald J. Watkins
Irion Books
9780984161843 $19.95

Having successfully climbed three of the world's highest mountains on different contents (see Summit Murders on Everest, Elbrus and McKinley), Scott Devlon is joining an expedition to conquer Puncak Jaya, the highest peak in Oceania at over 16,000 feet. Even before undergoing a difficult climb, Scott understands reaching the base of the mountain will prove extremely troublesome as the mountain known locally as Raksasa is located in a remote deadly rain forest of New Guinea; which is why of the selected seven this has been climbed the least. Scott is going because DIA wants information on a new company that may be destabilizing the Grasburg gold and copper mine.

Flying from beautiful Bali to the remote part of Papua proves disappointing as the air strip is a garbage dump of twenty-first century litter. On the trek to the mountain through a rain forest, the natives using poisoned darts do not welcome intruders and attack the climbing party protected by soldiers. Insects carrying lethal diseases also assault the outsiders. The mountain also proves deadly to the party as Sandy, Owen and Jack are murdered and Gabby died from a snake bite.

This one differs from Scott's pervious climbs as the action starts even before the assent in this super action-packed thriller. The vivid descriptions of Papua especially Puncak Jaya enhances this Summit Murder Mystery as readers will learn how deadly this remote region can be and how ice in the tropics exist at the high attitude of the mountain. As a bonus, the authors include brief descriptions of the seven summits. This is a winner in a winning series in which geography is fun to learn.

Susan May Warren
Summerside Press
9781609362188 $14.99

In 1896 New York City, Esme Price wants to be a reporter like her idol Nellie Bly who has shocked high society with her behavior. Esme's wealthy father August owns a newspaper, but expects his oldest daughter to marry an acceptable member of their upper class.

Esme's younger sister Jinx envies her as she wants to be the anointed one rather than waiting for her sibling to marry. Upsetting Jinx further is when Esme and the catch of the season Foster Worth become engaged, but her sister seems at best indifferent.

Esme confesses to her dad that she is Anonymous Writer sending in opinions to his New York Chronicle as A.W. He reacts by telling her to go home and slaps her. With her best friend the family butler's son Oliver's help, Esme flees to Montana to begin her own newspaper while Jinx makes a play for Foster.

This entertaining timely Gilded Age family drama is driven by the opulent Price sisters who go after what each believes is their manifest destiny, but one day in the future look back to assess whether they were blessed or cursed as to whether the cost was worth it. Although the story line starts a bit slow as time, place and people are established, readers will appreciate this strong entertaining character driven historical that will remind readers all that glitters on Wall St. is not gold for everyone.

The Goblin Corps
Ari Marmell
59 John Glenn Drive
Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616143770 $16.00

The Charnel King Morthul of Kirol Syrreth remains stunned that his centuries of perfect plotting to rule the world from his Iron Keep failed due to a band of idiots too stupid to understand they could not win. His only dark victory in his ignominious loss to the Light is that Princess Amalia, the child of King Dororam of Shauntille, died while ending his schemes.

However, Morthul has a new concern. His spies warn him that raging King Dororam has united the Allied Kingdoms with a goal to end future treachery by the rotting immortal Charnel King and the armies of Kirol Syrreth. Taking a page from the enemy who created the rag tag band of the Light, Morthul creates his version of the Dark, The Demon Squad.

The Goblin Corps is an enjoyable military fantasy that is at its refreshing best when the plot focuses on the dysfunctional Demon Squad members; the story line loses some freshness when grieving Dororam and his top wizard DuMark take center stage. Although the climax is weak as it is more tell than show, The Goblin Corps is action-packed yet filled with jocularity (including inane but fun Stooges like slapstick). Readers will enjoy this lighthearted romp as the bickering evil paranormal unit struggle to come together before the snow melts in the mountain passes.

Ghosts of War
George Mann
9781616143671 $16.00

In 1927 Gabriel "The Ghost" Cross patrols New York City to keep the residents safe from evil. Though he wants to take time out to grieve the death of his beloved Celeste who saved the world (see Ghosts of Manhattan), the vigilante avenger knows he cannot.

The city has seen a series of kidnappings reportedly by flying machines dubbed raptors. The police are stymied as there is no apparent link between the victims except for the city. The Ghost assisted by his friend Police Inspector Felix Donovan try to capture one of these terrorizing mechanical kidnappers. At the same time Felix hunts a British agent whose information will cause the third war between the former colonies and the mother country. Soon the two seemingly divergent cases merge as the Ghost decides on a dangerous ploy to end the mounting terror.

George Mann provides a fun throwback pulp science fiction thriller. With plenty of rooftop activity and lucid flashbacks by the Ghost to WWI, the story line is action-packed and incredibly fast-paced as the author takes no prisoners with this entertaining save Manhattan tale (Ruth and Gehrig save the Bronx).

One Salt Sea
Seanan McGuire
DAW Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756406837 $7.99

An unknown adversary kidnapped the three sons of the Duchess of Saltmist Diandra. The ruler of the undersea duchy believes the Queen of the Mists abducted her children. Toby saves the life of the Diandra's spouse Patrick from an assassin. Still the Duchess gives the Countess of Goldengreen October "Toby" Daye and the latter's boyfriend Connor O'Dell three days to safely bring home her children and prove that the Queen did not take the lads by finding out who did or war at land and at sea will follow.

Toby, her newest squire Quentin, Connor, the Luidaeg and Tybalt investigate the abduction on the streets of San Francisco. However, the clues lead to the Pacific. Someone insanely ignores Oberon's Laws and ergo wants to prevent Toby and her team from succeeding in rescuing the abducted sons; that adversary uses any deadly means necessary.

The latest Toby Daye urban fantasy (see Late Eclipses) is an excellent entry that focuses on the convoluted untrustworthy agreements between the paranormal leaders. With a stunning late twist, the story line is a fast-paced exciting thriller. Fans of the series will relish Toby's latest escapades as the clues lead increasingly to a paranormal psychopath.

The Diviner
Melanie Rawn
9780756406813 $25.95

In 611 in the city of Dayira Azreyq during a gala the Glorious Majesty Sheyqa Nizzira has her assassins kill the powerful al Ma'alique family. However, one clan member lives, the profligate Azzad al-Ma'alique who was late due to female issues. He considers his options and concludes fleeing was the best course for now, but vowing revenge when he returns.

He eludes the killers sent by Sheyqa as he reaches the desert. There he is fortunate that the enigmatic nomadic Shagara tribe of mages saves his life and provides him shelter. They protect him from the assassins as he begins his plan for avenging his family though he knows needs time to plan and deploy.

This is an exhilarating prequel fantasy (see The Golden Key) that takes off from the onset. However, the Diviner feels like two books as just passed the half way point of the book, the story line reaches a climatic conclusion. From there a second story line picks up albeit much slower paced though well written. Still readers will enjoy the cost of vengeance to the avenging angel and the innocent collateral damaged victims.

The Coldest Fear
Rick Reed
Pinnacle Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9780786024841 $7.99

As a child he was sexually and mentally abused and battered by his brutal father until he broke and killed his dad. Because of his age and his mental state he was sent to a mental institution where he remained a resident for years. The doctors released him when he conned them into believing he was sane and ready to become a productive member of society.

He returned home to find the weapon he used to kill his father and traveled the county killing wherever he lived until ennui left him needing a challenge. He read an article about Evansville, Illinois Detective Jack Murphy who never lets a case turn cold. The psychopath grabs Jack's attention when he kills Cordelia Morse who had her face chopped off and an article about Jack with an eyeball on it nearby. A few hours later Louise Brigham is found murdered with a similar M.O. as Cordelia; this time the psychopath carved Jack's initials into the corpse. Other people are murdered by the same killer. Middle aged Brenda Lincoln is murdered and the killer was in a rage when he destroyed the body which most likely means she meant something to the predator. The murderer also kills those who might remotely identify him. Finally the preliminaries are done with the gauntlet thrown so the maniac goes after Jack who intends to bring the murderer down.

As serial killer thrillers go, the Coldest Fear is one of the best as the readers understand what drove the Cleaver to his killing spree. The repartee between Jack and his partner Liddell shows a genuine friendship and respect for one another while also abating the tautness caused by the serial killer. Sub-genre fans will enjoy Jack's latest case (Cruelest Cut) as his deadly adversary steals the show with his lethal repertoire. Rick Reed is a talent that fans of thrillers will want to read.

Kiss Her, Kill Her
Lisa Dewar
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450259989 $16.95

His mother adored Ted Bundy who became Tarryn Cooper Love's hero. His life plan is to supersede his idol by murdering more females than the late serial killer notched so he can be his mom's number one superstar. This he becomes a cabdriver in New York, which enables him to pick up single females easily.

Carmen the trophy wife wants out of her marriage to an abusive spouse. Dubbed "The Numbers Killer" due to placing a count on those he kills, Tarryn picks her up with plans to make her a victim. Instead Carmen informs him she wants to die, which shakes up the cabdriver as he gets off from the fear of his chosen victims. Tarryn decides to help Carmen want to live before he kills her.

This is an intriguing twisting psychological thriller starring two individuals who forge an odd codependent relationship. Readers get deep into the heads of Tarryn and Carmen as his strategy to Kiss Her, Kill Her works well since she slowly evolves from suicidal to strong woman. Readers will relish this insightful look at a killer who wants mom to be proud of him and his latest chosen one who wants self esteem.

Jane Was Here
Sarah Kernochan
Grey Swan
9780980037722 $24.95

The woman arrives in Graynier, Massachusetts calling herself Jane with no surname. She swears she has isolated memories of growing up in Graynier, but also vows she never set foot in the town until now. Jane rents a Victorian that she claims is her childhood house.

Website designer Brett Sampson and his ten year old son Collin are spending the summer together in Graynier so they can overcome their estrangement. However crafty cunning Collin has no interest in doing things with his dad and Brett likewise has little patience with his son. Instead Collin is fascinated with Jane and uses subterfuge to spend time with Indian Gita Poonchwalla who is nearer his age. The townsfolk also are intrigued by Jane and her claims until private investigator Dick Fancher insists Jane is the missing autistic Caroline Moss though some say no.

The key to this engaging tale is the small town residents who know each other as they (and readers) cannot resist the lure of who Jane is and how she knows intimate details about the somewhat isolated town. Jane is terrific as her confusion is addicting to the audience who want to know what is going on. The support cast makes the thriller work as they and we need to know whether Jane Was Here once before and what before connotes.

Dark Passages
Kathryn Leigh Scott
Pomegranate Press
9780938817833 $14.95

Farmer Meg Harrison is a vampire who exclusively dines on animal blood; her choice cuts being easy to catch birds of squirrels. Meg goes out of her way to live a human lifestyle which is not hard since Stoker got very little right about her species.

When Meg graduates from high school, she leaves the farm for the city where she plans to be a Playboy Bunny and audition for acting gigs. She is excited when she lands a part on the daytime soap opera Dark Passages. Life is great until Camilla the raging envious witch surfaces with a penchant for casting nasty spells as she seeks the boiled blood of a particular TV star.

This is a fun paranormal historical urban fantasy starring a fascinating young vampire supported by a vast secondary cast and an atmospheric gothic story line; With 1960s icons as an anchor, readers will root for Meg as she battles three centuries old Camilla for queen of the "Dark Shadows" Hollywood Hills as Kathryn Leigh Scott shows her TV roots with this entertaining vampire thriller. This is for vampire fans a must read.

Darkness Descending
Devyn Quinn
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9781101517215 $7.99

Jesse Burke dreams of avenging what a vampiric Fallen Angel did to her last year by becoming a slayer. She has kept her infection somewhat under control but knows time is running out for her as those abominations she wants dead want Armageddon now by infecting humans with demonic parasites. Her first attempt in the Metairie cemetery almost costs her life as she learns none of these monsters is easy to kill; Maddox deValois the demon interceded and saved her life.

He invites the tyro lone wolf to join his slayer team keeping New Orleans somewhat cleansed of these predators; reluctantly she does. However, soon after joining his squad and still struggling to understand that "There is no 'I' in 'team', but there is in 'win'."(Michael Jordan), neither is prepared to find out that Jesse has a greater destiny than that of a slayer.

The first Vampire Armageddon urban fantasy is an exhilarating action-packed thriller from the opening graveyard battle until the climatic finish. Overall the story line is fast-paced but somewhat slowed down by the background ancient religions thesis that enhances the dark world of Devyn Quinn. This is a terrific opening act.

Secrets of Bella Terra
Christina Dodd
9780451413093 $7.99

Security expert Rafe Di Luca is working as the control of a rescue mission when he learns of the vicious assault on his grandmother Sarah. Dropping what he was doing, Rafe returns home to his family's Bella Terra Vineyard and Resort in Bella Valley, California. Like his half-brothers Eli and Noah, thirtyish Rafe loves his grandmother. The three siblings vow to find who the insidious attacker was.

However coming home also means seeing Brooke Petersson who runs the resort and found the battered Sarah. Rafe feels guilty as he made love with her and dumped her when he left town. The three siblings and Brooke wonder whether the decades old animosity over a lost bottle of valuable wine with the Bianchins family is the cause. Rafe and Sarah know their youthful attraction remains strong, while a murder over that legendary bottle has both fearing for the safety of the other and his Nonna.

The first Scarlet Deception contemporary romantic suspense is an exciting second chance at love, if the protagonists survive tale. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the intruder batters Sarah and never slows down as the middle grandson takes center stage along side of Brooke. Fans will toast Christina Dodd for a strong first act while looking forward to Eli's tale next.

Blood Hunt
Shannon K. Butcher
9780451234292 $7.99

She arrived out of nowhere naked in body and mind. Sister Olive took in Hope Serrien who, though she still lacks her memory of her past, now helps the homeless starting with reading auras.

Hope searches for a missing woman. However, in Kansas City, Missouri, her quest is interrupted when she steps into the middle of a Synestrian demon attack; her blood saves Logan Athar the Sanguinar demon fighter. However, as she rescued his body, she ruins his well being because he wants her as his but she can never belong to him. She has no time to adapt to the paranormal as Krag the Synestrian lord wants to drain Hope while Logan vows to protect her. Krag captures the pair whose love for each other is their only hope for escape.

The fifth Sentinel Wars (see Living Nightmare and Running Scared) is a great urban fantasy starring the enigmatic Logan and the woman who saves his life. Loaded with action and with a deeper understanding of the war between the Synestrian and the Sanguinar, Shannon K. Butcher moves forward the overarching theme but also provides an engaging romance that enhances the paranormal story line. Although newcomers will have some problems diving into the world of Ms. Butcher without reading the previous entries, fans of the saga will appreciate this powerful tale.

Primal Law
J.D. Tyler
9780451234346 $7.99

In Afghanistan, an attack left many in Jaxon Tyler's unit dead; those who survived were changed into werewolves. They became the Alpha Pack. However, he and his unit of shifters are betrayed by his girlfriend Beryl; he knows he is fortunate to survive while tossing his perfidious lover into the fire.

At NewLife Technology in Las Vegas, Jaxon rescues lab assistant Kira Locke from an assault. She knows something is not right at the lab so she steals samples so that she and her protector Jax can figure out what is happening. As the werewolf and the human work together, they fall in love; but each understands the mission to take down the unknown predatory Chappell comes first.

With a nod to Mandy M. Roth's Immortal Ops series, J.D. Tyler provides a fabulous first act with the introduction of the Alpha Pack, a military werewolf unit with other specialized paranormal talents. The story line is fast-paced from the opening betrayal and never slows down as the team works on learning who Beryl is allied with. Not all goes well as some members die and others are captured by the enemy. Although Kira accepts things too easily (after an initial short circuit) and acts and reacts over the top of the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower, fans will enjoy meeting the Alpha Pack.

Kage: The Shadow
John Donohue
YMAA Publications
PO Box 480
Wolfeboro, NH 03894-0480
9781594392108 $12.95

Thanks in part to his brother Micky, Dr. Connor Burke is in Arizona explaining to upset writers that their hero cannot realistically run a marathon after a beating if they were realistic and not Hollywood. Lori Westmann appreciated Burke's words unlike her colleagues. She explains her famous father was found dead in his home; the police ruled it an accident though Lori believes that he was killed. Her dad was crazy Eliot Westmann who wrote about his adventures with a sect in Hokkaido. She wants Connor to prove or disprove her father's assertions as Lori believes an assassin killed her dad for revealing what he knew.

Meanwhile in the Arizona desert near Tucson, someone kills Hector the coyote. As he studies Eliot's unfinished manuscripts, Connor realizes that the smuggling cartels just to the south would not want some of the information released. Soon, he finds himself and his loved ones the targets of the deadly Mexican cartels, some Americans and apparently members of the sect that Westmann revealed in his books with his martial arts teacher, Yamashita having his endangered back.

The fourth Burke thriller (see Sensei, Deshi, and Tengu) is a great tale that effortlessly merges martial art values with headline news. The story line is action-packed from the moment he accepts Lori's research assignment and never slows down until the final confrontation as the hero learns the poet sometimes must be the warrior just as the warrior must be the poet. This is a terrific thought provoking tale.

The Dead Genius
Axel Brand
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive
Waterville, ME 04901
9781432825140 $25.95

Just after WW II in Milwaukee, pioneering forensic document examiner Armand de Trouville dies suddenly at his office desk. The cause of the sexagenarian's death appears to be a heart attack. His lawyer Bartles, his junior business associate Potter and his part-time office assistant Winsocket tell Milwaukee Police Detective Lieutenant Joe Sonntag, an admirer of the brilliant Armand, that they know of no heirs and ask if he can investigate to see if he can locate one.

Joe finds it curious that there is no information on Armand's life before he arrived in the city allegedly from Chicago in 1936. He is ready to give up on the inquiry that comes out of his pocket (no cost to the city) when his superior Captain Ackerman plays a hunch and assigns him to keep digging. Confused by the assignment that makes no sense especially since Ackerman's hunches always failed, Joe investigates what happened on the night Armand died and who he was before de Trouville suddenly arrives in Milwaukee.

The latest Sonntag historical police procedural (see A Hotel Dick) is a superb investigation that provides readers a taste of late 1940s Milwaukee. The story line is leisurely paced so the audience can taste and smell the hops of the city though Joe's senses. The twist to the search for the heir wraps up an engaging post WW II mystery.

Genteel Spirits
Alice Duncan
Five Star
9781432825003 $25.95

In 1922, the affluent residents of Pasadena, California consider Daisy Gumm Majesty a highly regarded spiritualist as Desdemona. Hollywood especially enjoys seeing those who communicate with the beyond and as such are frequent patrons of Daisy. She knows her spiritualist work keeps her family fed as her spouse Billy returned from the war with failing health due to a German bullet and the Kaiser's mustard gas that keep him wheelchair bound.

Daisy worries about her husband but practices her trade. Due to Daisy's friend Harold Kinkaid, Desdemona hosts a seance attended by silent screen star Lola de la Monica. The impressed actress hires Desdemona as the spiritualist on her latest movie. Making matters difficult for Daisy is Billy's best friend police detective Sam Rotondo‚ who she is attracted to, works on the same set. When threatening letters frighten Lola, Daisy and Harold investigate.

Genteel Spirits is a warm Daisy Gumm Majesty historical tale (see Hungry Spirits) that brings to Southern California in the aftermath of the war to end all wars. The cast including Spike the obedience school expelled canine makes the story line humorous and optimistic but is counterbalanced by Billy's health. The mystery serves as a subordinate subplot to the sense of time and place of people trying to move on with their lives following the war. Alice Duncan provides a delightful spotlight on Pasadena and Hollywood circa 1922.

Wanted Deb or Alive
Laurie Moore
Five Star
9781432825409 $25.95

Twenty-three year old last year's debutante Dainty Prescott is a WBFD-TV TV news intern when she learns that thugs in Ciudad Juarez mugged her sister Teensy and kidnapped her sibling's friend Tiffer. Her Fort Worth Police detective boyfriend Jim Bruckman warns her not to travel to the "murder capital of Mexico", but her sister is in critical condition hopefully still in a hospital so she quickly heads to the border.

In El Paso, Dainty meets pint sized police detective lieutenant Amanda "Canary Tanzanite" Vazquez. The two females head to the Mexican side to rescue this year's two missing Rubanbleu ball debs who apparently grabbed a cab known as the Kidnapping Express. Meanwhile El Montero stalks Dainty.

The latest Debutante Detective Mystery (see Deb on Arrival) is a fantastic amateur sleuth as Dainty goes Mexican. The dynamic distaff duo make the tale fun as the Pygmy and the Deb duel in a war of words while having each other's back, sort of after dessert that is. Readers will enjoy their escapades to rescue Dainty's sister and her sibling's friend before they are trafficked on the black market commodity exchange.

Pele's Tears
Sharon K. Garner
Five Star
9781432825058 $25.95

Dante Kohoa and Noelani Beecham inherited his grandmother's flower farm on Kauai. Thus he travels from Lehua, Kauai to Maine praying his childhood friend is ready to come home after years away. She fled Hawaii as she blames herself for the death of Dante's twin Dominic in a tragic accident.

However, as they return back to the islands, someone targets them apparently because the culprit believes the pair has the Pele's Tears; jewels that both assume were myths told by her godmother and his grandmother. As the pair begins to fall in love as adults, they search for the jewels as her godmother's journal leaves clues that has both changing their minds about the gems. They hope their quest ends the threats to lives.

Pele's Tears is an engaging Hawaiian second chance at love romantic suspense in which his late brother comes between the lead couple as it has since Dom died. Although the final confrontation leaves readers wondering about the prime villain needing professional help with a no harm no foul (no culpa) attitude, fans will enjoy the hunting and stalking of Pele's Tears.

Deadly Reunion
June Shaw
Five Star
9781432824983 $25.95

Widow Cealie Gunther has not seen many of her high school class in years; so she joins the Alaskan cruise reunion. Also on board is her boyfriend Gil Thurman owner of a Cajun restaurant chain and one of his chefs. Cealie especially looks forward to learning what happened to some of her peers; on the other hand she is not ready for Uncle Stu to be Aunt Sue.

Tetter was the most popular girl in high school, but admits to Cealie she has a humongous problem that she cannot say anything further about. All the attendees are stunned when Randy, married with grandchildren, arrives as no one expected him to attend. Cealie feels like a frump compared to her toned classmates. Aunt Sue flirts with a younger hunk who is soon found dead at the bottom of stairs. Cealie investigates what she believes was a homicide and not an accident. She wonders whether Tetter's issue is the motive or if Aunt Sue became a psychopath when he surgically became she. Finally there is the question of Randy coming on the cruise.

The latest Cealie Gunter independent amateur sleuth thriller is a charming whodunit when the focus is on the classmates; when the story line concentrates on Cealie's relationship with Gil the plot feels repetitive especially for these who have read Killer Cousins. Still with a strong final twist, fans will enjoy Cealie's inquiry but also when it comes to Gil sing the Lovin' Spoonful's Did You Ever Have to make Up Your Mind?

Running Homeless
Al Lamanda
Five Star
9781432825386 $25.95

He is in New Mexico where he executes six drug lords. The extraction team of four goes to get him as a tech support unit watches and videos his activities. The techies are stunned when the agent executes the extraction team. In seconds ten are dead. To the further shock of the observers he vanishes in a blink. Techie Johnson calls Handler Ben Freeman who orders him to follow the GPS signal in John Tibbets' watch but he must keep a distance if he chooses to live. Agent Monroe explains to Freeman and their superior Farris that the watch has an alarm that wipes out Tibbets' memory, which makes him more dangerous as a beast protecting himself.

Freeman joins FBI agent Richard Cone in a hunt for Tibbets. Cone is stunned from seeing the video, but is appalled to learn Tibbets and Freeman belong to a top secret government agency whose mission is assassination. Tibbets has ben subject to mind control techniques enhanced by drugs. On his own, he begins to recall bits of his life while leaving corpses on his way to New York City where he vaguely remembers saving a cop's life (see Walking Homeless).

This is one of the year's best thrillers as the American Manchurian Candidate is on the lam from his handlers while the body count rises exponentially wherever he goes. The story line is action-packed from the opening killing of ten men in seconds (in less than a page) until the final twisted confrontation. Yet what brings heart and soul to Al Lamanda's excellent tale is the antihero killing machine is a victim but who the villains are will stun the audience.

Sophie Littlefield
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373803392 $14.95

California is an apocalyptic catastrophe with the cannibalistic fresh flesh eating Beaters everywhere, but Cass Dollar feels good as she has rescued her daughter Ruthie though the child has become mute from the horrors she lived through and witnessed (see Aftertime). While Ruth struggles with her psychosomatic trauma, The Dollar females reside at the Box camp with the mom's lover Smoke.

However though Cassie begs him not to, Smoke leaves on a vendetta. Just after he leaves, the encampment's leader Dor pleads with Cass to help him rescue his daughter; held prisoner by the ruthless Rebuilders. She wants to refuse as Ruth comes first and she fears the Box haven is falling apart, but Cassie also understands how Dor feels having gone on her impossible quest to save her daughter.

The second Aftertime post apocalyptic thriller is an exciting tale that places a human cost on the pandemic catastrophe. Readers will feel for Ruthie who is a superb traumatized child and understand the dilemmas facing her mother including her caring for the two strong men in her life. Character driven yet packed with action, Rebirth is a vivid dark future fantasy.

The Shadow Men
Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780553386578 $7.99

In Boston, Jim awakens to find his wife Jenny and their daughter Holly vanished. More than just disappearing, there is no evidence that either female ever existed as no pictures or personnel items remains in their abode and even his cell phone fails to contain their contact information.

In near paralyzing shock, Jim asks around amongst their friends and family, but no one knows Jenny or Holly. That is except Trix. With Trix at his side, Jim contacts the Oracle of Boston. They are stunned with what they learn. In a previous century, the sorcery of the then Oracle placed Boston in three distinct dimensions at the same time. Jim's family is in one of the other two. As Jim and Trix consider what to do to find Jenny and Holly, Jim realizes his paintings are of another Boston and Trix knows her dreams are likewise.

The fourth Hidden Series thriller (see Mind the Gap in London, The Map of Moments in New Orleans and The Chamber of Ten in Venice) is an exciting entry that grips the reader from the moment Jim wakes up to find his family missing and never loosens the hold until the climax. The story line is incredibly packed with action to rival a Liam Neeson movie like Taken or Unknown. However, all the constant escapades never allow any of the cast to fully develop; even the beleaguered protagonist seems pulled by the adventures piling one after another and the doppelgangers appear as interchangeable as if naturing is much more influential than nurturing. Still fans who relish an adrenaline pumping thriller will want to tour Bean Town with Jim and Trix as our guides.

Dracula in Love
Karen Essex
Anchor Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780767931229 $14.95

After reading Stoker's account of her relationship with Count Dracula, Mina Harker decides the author failed to obtain the truth or more likely revise what happened. The Count has been Mina's lover though she is unaware of this in their present relationship and that he would willingly die permanently for her.

In 1890 London, the human men in her life feel she is a porcelain doll needing their protection. She loathes the gilded cage her husband Jonathan keeps her inside of abetted by obsessed by Dr. Van Helsing and Dr. Seward. They are inane Victorian males who are wrong. Instead she and her dearest Count are in love as her supernatural powers begin to rival that of her beloved.

This entertaining retelling of the classic horror tale has a strong-willed Mina relate her interpretation of what occurred in England. In her mind, Dracula is the hero and her so called protectors the villains. Character driven, the plot is turned upside down as Mina sees the doctors and others assuming they know what is best for her, which is contrary to what she believes is best for her. Vampire romance fans will enjoy Dracula In Love as Mina tells her version of her passionate relationship with her Count and the murderous intruders who interfered.

The Twelfth Enchantment
David Liss
Random House
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9781400068988 $26.00

At sixteen Lucy Derrick eloped with Jonas Morrison, but their running away was never finished though it partially wrecked her reputation as being foolish but not a whore. She believes her aborted elopement destroyed her family. A few years later, her oldest sister Emily died just before her father passed. Her middle sister Martha married Mr. Buckles who rejects having Lucy in his house as he obeys his patroness Widow Lady Harriett Dyer. Lucy lives as the poor relation of her resentful martinet Uncle Richard Lowell and his towering abusive housekeeper Mrs. Quince. She is forced to accept a marriage offer from Mr. Olson, owner of a mill with brutal working conditions.

The poet Lord Byron arrives babbling she must not marry before collapsing. Medical man Mr. Snyder arrives and says he cannot help the cursed Byron; he suggests they consult with Miss Mary Crawford. Lucy and Mrs. Quince visit Mary. The "witch" guides Lucy as she lifts the curse haunting Byron. The strangeness turns weirder as Lucy becomes the foci of a colossal conspiratorial collision between the ancient and modern times. Lucy must find a mystical tome to save her country while two enigmatic males court her.

The Twelfth Enchantment is a strange yet engaging Regency fantasy starring a charming heroine struggling with being the unwanted relative fostered off to an engagement she does not remotely accept when her vision of the world is shattered. The storyline is leisurely paced especially towards the beginning to establish time and place (through Byron) and the laws of Liss magic. Readers will appreciate this twisting coming of age historical fantasy as Lucy Derrick tries to save a world she never knew existed until Byron arrived.

I Gave My Heart to Know This
Ellen Baker
Random House
9781400066360 $26.00

During WW II as the need for manufacturing support to the war effort grows, the male labor pool shrinks. As such women took over the jobs that historically were male only. By January 1944, Grace Anderson and mother and daughter Violet and Lena Maki work as welders in a Wisconsin shipyard.

The ladies also know that part of their job on the home front is writing upbeat letters to the boys at the front. Grace agrees to Lena's request by sending encouraging letters to her twin brother Derrick. However, she has an understanding with her high school sweetheart Alex the marine and is attracted to railroad worker Joe, sent home with rheumatic fever.

In Wisconsin, Lena's granddaughter Julia lives on her family farm while grieving a death. She reads letters and looks at photos from WW II while wanting desperately to end the estrangement with her sibling Danny as she probes the tragedy decades ago that destroyed her family.

This is a super historical thriller that focuses on women who took over male jobs while the men fought. These females proved a woman can do a man's job in the workplace and they became mentors for the reform movements of the 1960s. The ensemble cast is solid especially the WWII crew as Ellen Baker provides a deep look at the great leap that led to "you've come a long way baby" with her not so quiet on the Lake Superior front.

It Looked Different on the Model: Epic Tales of Impending Shame and Infamy
Laurie Notaro
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345510990 $15.00

This amusing collection lives up to its subtitle as Laurie Notaro explores how far she will go to fit in to avoid "shame and infamy." In "Let It Bleed" she analyzes the mental trauma of "modeling clothes in a store's dressing room while knowing workers and other customers are scoring her. "She's a Pill" focuses on "Ambien Laurie," who arises when the author takes the pill that never quite allows a sleeping dog to just sleep at least in her case. Parental relations are explored in "It's a Bomb" as she flies from Eugene, Oregon to visit her Republican parents in Phoenix, Arizona and in the "FWD" apocalyptic emails from her mother. Finally there are the spousal relationships in their rendition of "Jingle Bells" and in "Woofs". This is the usual amusing self-deprecating shtick from one of the best humorists around (see Autobiography of a Fat Bride and We Thought You Would Be Prettier).

The Harvest of Grace
Cindy Woodsmall
WaterBrook Press
c/o Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200
Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781400073986 $13.99

While Aaron Blank entered rehab, Sylvia Fischer entered the life of his parents. She had worked diligently raising a herd on her family farm, but was forced to leave due to the reactions of her beau Elam Smoker when he proposed and she asked him to wait; instead he asker her sister Beckie who said yes with her Dad's blessing.

Three years later whooping cough devastates her family but she and Elam were vaccinated so are okay. He kisses her and she tells him she must leave. In addition to saving her family farm she now also wants to save that of the kind Michael and Dora Blank.

Out of rehab, Aaron comes home intending to sell the farm so that his parents can enjoy their senior years and he can stay doing intense outdoor labor. However, his dad does not trust him as he has hurt them in the past. Instead he chooses to support diligent Sylvia trying to save the farm. Aaron prefers the female hand go home while Sylvia distrusts all men; however, God has a different attitude for their pairing.

The third Ada's House Amish romance is an enjoyable tale due to the strong fully developed cast who bring complex baggage to relationships. The return of stars from the previous entries (see The Hope of Refuge and The Bridge of Peace) enhance the novel while also affirming the strength of the characters. Readers will enjoy spending time in Amish Country with Cindy Woodsmall as our guide.

Ransome's Quest
Kaye Dacus
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North
Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736927550 $13.99

In 1814 in St Catherine's Parish, Jamaica, notorious pirate El Salvatore kidnaps Charlotte Ransome. Her brother Captain William Ransome leads a search to find and rescue his sibling. While he is at sea, the nasty pirate Shaw loathes William and his father-in-law Admiral Sir Edward Witherington. Opportunity and a good plan allow him to abduct the wife-daughter Julia who along with the Admiralty connects his two enemies.

El Salvatore and William learn of the second Ransome kidnapping. William vows to save the lives of both of his beloved females. He finds Charlotte safe. She informs him who El Salvatore is and he offers to assist William in locating and rescuing his spouse. Without the pirate he has had no success and he did show good faith when he freed Charlotte, but the man is a pirate.

The third Ransome historical thriller is a fabulous early nineteenth century swashbuckler. Loaded with action and adventure from the onset, readers will relish the return of the cast from the previous Caribbean escapades (see Ransome's Honor and Ransome's Crossing) as Kaye Dacus provides a stirring sterling end to a stupendous saga.

The One Who Waits For Me
Lori Copeland
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North
Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736930185 $13.99

In 1865 the Civil War is over but for many especially in the Confederate states the pain will continue as a way of life appears to be ending. In North Carolina many people suffer from the horrors of the war and now its aftermath.

With their parents' dead, sisters Beth and Joanie flee from their cruel Uncle Walt and his chip off the old abusive block son Bear. Walt demands the deed to the land she and her sister should own as payment for allowing them to live on his farm though they worked hard in the fields. Because she is pregnant, Trella a slave leaves with the sisters; she dreams of her baby being born free. Cherokee scout Gray Eagle meets the three females and offers them protection while guiding them to a safe place. Black union soldier Samuel seeks to become a preacher just like his father as he hopes to bring comfort to the many sufferers. Captain Pierce thanks the Lord for letting him survive the horrors of combat as he just wants to forget the atrocities though the dead and maimed will haunt him until his death; he plans diligently to work the land in order to dull the horrible memories. These six find a sanctuary of sorts together.

This is a wonderful inspirational story as amidst the death and destruction a flicker of hope has arisen. The key to the story line is the fluttering of light in a vividly described dark world as many wonder if god abandoned them. Although Uncle Walt has no redeeming qualities, readers will appreciate Lori Copeland's North Carolina second chance at life.

Dancing on Glass
Pamela Ewen
B&H Publishing Group
127 Ninth Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37234-0143
9780805464306 $14.99

In 1974 New Orleans, Amalise Catoir is a new lawyer caught in the rain. She ran into a gallery to stay dry. Inside she notices strange portraits of women when she meets the artist Phillip Sharp. He charms her and wants to paint her in the nude. She refuses to pose naked but they fall in love and marry.

Once married his charm vanishes. Instead of nurturing and loving her, Phillips turns accusatory insisting she is cheating and becomes physically and mentally abusive. Her family appears to desert her and her faith in the Lord is shattered as she fears for her life because Amalise knows if she fails obey her severe husband, he turns into an out of control dangerous raging and dangerous maniac.

This is a great but sobering relationship drama as Philip is a keen manipulator who has Amalise faulting herself for his personality change once they are married. Insightful as Pamela Ewen looks deep into the souls of the abuser and the abused, fans will better understand why she failed to leave as she believes strongly she is at fault since her family apparently deserted her; they saw the charmer. This is a super character driven historical.

Matthew Dunn
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062037671 $25.99

In New York, MI6 agent Will "Spartan" Cochrane searches for Iranian Revolutionary Guard international terrorist Megiddo. Spartan's hunt is professional as the agencies know this terrorist has a nasty scheme and personal as this terrorist killed his father over two decades ago.

Having been shot, Spartan works the case injured but will not rest until this animal is stopped. He locates the alleged former lover of Megiddo in Paris. Journalist Lana Beseisu agrees to assist Will even as they are attracted to one another. However, Spartan vows to keep his hands off his partner until the mission is completed; then all bets are off. As they get closer to their target, Megiddo proves quite elusive.

This is a fun espionage counterterrorist thriller starring a fascinating hero who seems like a combination of Doc Savage and his entire team. Spartan's extreme fitness training enables him to deal with a multitude of wounds though it still seems over the top but in an entertaining way. Fans of cat and mouse spy games will relish the chess match as this is one British field agent who prefers the cold.

In Search of the Rose Notes
Emily Arsenault
9780062012326 $14.99

In 1990 in Waverly, Connecticut, tweeners Nora and Charlotte are concerned that their sixteen year old babysitter Rose vanished without a trace. Using Charlotte's older brother smelly Paul's treasure of Time-Life books with the secrets of the universe as their paranormal reference library; the BFFs investigate but find nothing. The inquiry strains their friendship.

In 2006, Rose's remains are found in the nearby woods; having been recently moved. Charlotte calls Nora who feels like it is old times as her former BFF always seemed to know when she has was doing nothing. The former asks the latter to come home so they can resume their failed investigation; this time looking for Rose's killer. Nora reluctantly agrees as she is the last known person to have seen Rose alive and is not sure she wants the past opened up.

Rotating viewpoint between the two years, this is a terrific psychological drama that will remind readers of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones though in this case Rose does not speak from beyond. The story line focuses on the two BFFs who learn more about each other than they do about Rose. Leisurely paced, readers will enjoy this deep character study as the truth does not always free you as it sometimes makes you flee from what you learn about yourself in abject terror.

The Betrayal
Jerry Jenkins
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781594153884 $14.99

Chicago Police Department Gang Enforcement Section Detective Boone Drake took a life threatening bullet while leading the arrests of gang leaders and the crime syndicate (see The Brotherhood). On medical leave while he heals at what all natives still call Cook County Hospital (instead of Stroger); from his near fatal wound, Boone has plenty of time to ponder what went wrong. His former partner and current boss Jack agrees with his assessment. Though it makes him ill to consider what he believes happened; he concludes someone inside of CPD tipped off the shooter, which leaves the key informant former gang kingpin Pascual Candelario in jeopardy.

However, as he digs a bit deeper, Boone finds his nightmare turns uglier. He wants to deny what seems increasingly obvious. The evidence points overwhelmingly to Haeley, his new girlfriend.

The latest Precinct 11 Christian police procedural (see The Brotherhood) is a fabulous thriller in which there are no atheists in the fox hole is a critical element in the strong plot. Fast-paced and filled with action, readers will appreciate Boone's uncertainty about the woman he adores as he prays to God for wisdom. Fans will enjoy this entertaining internal investigation into who sold out the team.

The First Gardener
Denise Hildreth Jones
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781414335582 $13.99

Tennessee Governor Gray London and his wife Mackenzie waited years for a child so they feel blessed when their now five year old daughter Maddie was born. The couple would like another child, but so far they have not had any luck. However, tragedy strikes the family when Maddie dies in a car accident partly because she failed to click it.

Both Gray and Mack are devastated and unable to move passed their grief though he has budget issues to occupy his mind while she has the guilt of driving with her daughter unbelted. The statehouse First Gardener Jeremiah Williams feels for the governor and his wife. He grows special flowers as a tribute and prays to god to help this couple mend though Mack initially rejects his flowery offer.

This is a strong inspirational family drama that pulls no punches as the happy First Family of Tennessee suddenly deals with the death of their little sunshine even while Mack is pregnant and Gray is considering whether to run for reelection or not. Though cynical in terms of honesty is not considered the best policy by politicians, The First Gardener is a fabulous look at grieving and healing as the title character shows life goes on even after a precious loved one dies as the deceased would expect no less from them.

Sleight of Paw
Sofie Kelly
Obsidian Mystery
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451234537 $7.99

Owen and Hercules adopted the new Mayville Heights, Minnesota librarian Kathleen Paulson as their human crazy cay lady owner. Kathleen, now struggling with her first tundra winter, came to town after a lover's spat in which he left and returned two weeks later with a wife. She had not planned to stay, but her feline family has her thinking of permanent residency.

Retired schoolteacher Agatha Shepherd is found murdered in the ally near Eric's Place restaurant. Ruby who found the body is arrested as circumstantial evidence points towards her as the culprit. Kath does not buy her friend as the killer because Ruby loved Agatha who changed her life around from juvenile delinquent to model citizen changing her hair color every two weeks. Although she prefers to stay out of sleuthing after the perilous adventures in Curiosity Thrilled the Cat, she uncovers contrary evidence that points elsewhere due to her feline partners. The trio risks their lives to insure the real killer is placed in jail.

The two cats with their paranormal powers make Sleight of Paw a precious cozy with their telepathic communication and deep need to protect their Kath. Their human pet has adapted nicely to the Burl Ives picture postcard town as she has made good friends (and not just the cats) and is falling in love with a local detective though she keeps her distance having been burned once. The whodunit is super as there are several suspects including friends who could be the killer as the amateur sleuth and her two feline companions investigate the homicide of a highly regarded former teacher.

End of Days
Robert Gleason
c/o Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765329929 $24.99

Ancestor of a Shaman, media mogul Lydia Lozen Magruder has had visions of the End of Days for years. When she built the Citadel on the southwest desert and dedicated her media empire to warn of the coming end of civilization, everyone even her daughter Kate assumes she is a lunatic.

L.L. becomes concerned that the countdown has begun when Houston reports a problem. Her ace reporter John Stone has been investigating a Russian general who vanished along with numerous nuclear subs, and a terrorist scheme to prove Einstein right that the fourth world war will have soldiers using stone age weapons. Stone like the Russian officer has vanished. L.L. asks Kate to find her former boyfriend John while warning her daughter that the countdown to nuclear Armageddon has started.

This is an exciting over the top but entertaining thriller. Besides L.L. who holds the story line together, the zillion secondary players include lunatics like the aptly named Chaplain and two brutal Mideast princesses as well as heroes like sailor and innocent like the population of Manhattan. It takes one nut with a paranoid Pygmalion Effect belief to cause the beginning of the End of Days. Fans will enjoy this thought provoking tale as readers will compare the Citadel to what led to destruction of the world in Nevil Shute's On the Beach.

A Game of Lies
Rebecca Cantrell
9780765327338 $24.99

In 1936, the Gestapo still seek crime reporter Hannah Vogel for her kidnapping Anton the young son of the now dead Nazi official Ernst Rohm five years ago (see A Trace of Smoke). However, the deadly secret police have bigger issues than an embarrassment reporter in neutral Switzerland. They need to cleanse the city of any hints of anti Semitism. Thus Vogel easily sneaks in as she has several times over the last five years (see A Night of Long Knives) under the guise this time of Swiss reporter Adelheid Zinsli covering the Olympics.

As always when she returns to Germany her contact is her pretend lover SS Hauptsturmfuhrer Lars Lang who's turning increasingly into an alcoholic. As Adelheid she is to meet with her mentor Peter Weill, who has information he needs taken out of the country. Thus when she sees Weill drop dead at the Berlin Stadium, she assumes he was poisoned even if it looks like a heart attack. Not sure whether to trust her "lover" who she hears ugly rumors about, Vogel investigates what she assumes was a homicide while also knowing she must get Weill's information to Switzerland before as she expects the Nazis shut down the borders following the Games completion.

Filled with twists and timely, this exciting espionage thriller occurs while the world enjoys the Berlin Games; preferring to keep their heads in the sand rather than accept the atrocities the Nazis had begun. Vogel is a super heroine who risks her life to raise the warnings about the Nazi war machine while fearing her contact will betray her. Readers will appreciate the aptly named A Game of Lies as the host country dominated the event.

Infernal Angels
Loren D. Estleman
9780765319555 $24.99

In Detroit Reuben Crossgrain owns Past Presence where "Everything you require for the Modern Regressive Lifestyle" is for sale. He hires private investigator Amos Walker to recover 25 stolen TV converter boxes that allow the owner to watch HDTV on an analog set. Amos who is technological delinquent is a bit shocked with the job because the loss barely covers his retainer.

Walker works the mean streets of the Motor City seeking clues to the identities of the owners of these hot gizmos. However, the relatively easy inquiry turns nasty when his efforts reach his "friend" former Detroit police detective and current Homeland Security Operative Mary Ann Thaler. The case turns ugly when a key suspect and the person who lost the shipment are murdered; however that twist feels more at home to Walker than seeking gadgets he never heard of doing things to TV sets that should have rabbit ears. He begins to learn of a deadly heroin trafficking using Crossgrain's converter boxes.

The twenty-first Amos Walker private investigative thriller (see The Left-Handed Dollar) is a great tale that provides the usual deep look at the shrinking city that some believe has died; the state has not announced the wake. The story line is vintage Walker as he gets beat up and beats up others while corpses provide plenty of business for undertakers and body bag manufacturers. Fans will enjoy this modern day noir as the anti techie hero works plans to charge his client for his medical bills.

Thick as Thieves
Peter Spiegelman
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307263179 $24.95

In Mexico City, Declan meets former CIA agent Carr to discuss a business deal. Declan explains that a mutual acquaintance Voss recommended him to increase his business share of the theft market. He further says he is a thief with a professional team that steals from traffickers, but needs a leader-planner to attain the next level. Carr has doubts but agrees.

They have some success except Declan died in a mission, which Carr's CIA trained radar smells an inside traitor set them up. In spite of distrusting his teammates even Valerie the woman he sleeps with, he knows those were trial runs to improve their to the minute efficiencies. Feeling ready for a big score, Carr targets financier Curtis Prager. This financier was investigated for laundering millions, but just before his conviction the key witness died. Currently he works finances for organized crime in the Caymans and is worth millions to a precise team of thieves.

The key this twisting thriller is the story line feels possible. The cast is solid though obviously Carr is the star as he contends with leading the planned heist and caring for his dying father in Stockbridge. Fast-paced from the first escapade and never taking a respite until the final confrontation, readers will relish this excellent tale as blood proves to be as Thick as Thieves.

Next to Love
Ellen Feldman
Spiegel & Grau
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780812992717 $25.00

In 1941 in South Downs, Massachusetts, Babe, Grace and Millie worry about the men they love as the wars overseas seem heading to the States. Grace and Millie marry Charlie and Pete respectively before they ship out, but say their goodbyes at home. Babe follows her Claude who sends her telegram from his basic training base for her to come and marry him; on the train to North Carolina, she is raped. Ashamed she hides the truth from him and they marry. When babe learns she is pregnant she fears it is not Claude's child.

The men deploy overseas, but Charlie and Pete die in combat. Claude returns home from the war, but is not the same person he was before combat. Whereas Babe from the wrong side of the tracks finds work at Western Union and vows to remain independent, Grace and Millie pray for men to take care of them. Still the trio has each other as the social reform movement sweeps the country and their kids prepare to leave the nest.

This is an engaging epic drama that focuses on three BFFs as the world radically changes from WWII into the 1960s. The cast is strong while intimate letters especially telegrams bring home life and death. Although the story line can slow down especially in the 1950s with the extended families; rotating viewpoint between the three amigas provides a strong spotlight on changing values as summed up by Claude: imagine a world without war.

Guilty Pleasures
Bertrice Small
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451233394 $15.00

"Carla and the Pirate King." In the Channel Carla as Captain Raven battles Lord Hawke the pirate king for the top position.

"Nina and the Movie Star." Nina meets the aging movie star Bob Talcott outside the Channel, but then meets him inside before he became famous.

"Nanny Maureen and the Celtic Warrior." Irish Maureen enters the Channel for the first time only to hook up with Toryn the ancient Celtic but not as the present day nanny.

"J.P. and the Regency Rake." In Regency England, J.P. as Lady Janey trains Lord Reggie in the Channel, but both want more outside the Channel.

"Tiffy and the Sultan. " Her encounter in the Channel with the Sultan of Cinnabar turns into a quartet, but Tiffy fails to return from the Channel.

These are five fun but somewhat thin erotic escapades in the Channel (see Private Pleasures and Dangerous Pleasures); a place of pleasure where women pick the realm they want as their "fantasy" frolic.

Isle of Night
Veronica Wolff
9780451234629 $9.99

Annelise leaves home glad to get away from her drunken abusive father and her scornful stepmother who disses her high intelligence. She enrolls in the University of Florida at Gainesville but learns she needs a diploma to gain admission since she graduated high school six months early. With her car is broken and with no place to go, Annelise accepts a ride with Ronan, who observed her when she enters the bursar's office. He asks her if she would like to take a chance on a new life.

Every time she thinks she to flee, he touches her and she feels okay like she is under Ronan's spell. Annelise accepts a plane ride to Isle of Night where vampires and Watchers train for precarious missions. She becomes adept at fighting techniques and studies diligently in class so she can become a Watcher and escape the island. Lilac wants off too and is determined to win the female tournament that will decide who the five left standing watcher are; the losers end up dead.

The first Watcher urban fantasy is a super opening act as readers tour Wolff's wild world accompanying Annelise while she adapts to her training. The story line focuses on the training as the girls prepare to compete to the death for five slots. Although the tale starts slow as the place and players are established, the death-sizing countdown to who is left standing at the end of the tournament brings a strong suspense to an engaging urban fantasy.

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

For the first time in her life, high school senior Tara Luna feels like she belongs as she knows her lunatic psychic skills saved the loves of Corey and Bethany (see My Lunatic Life). She hopes her guardian beloved Uncle Pat allows them to stay in Stillwater, Oklahoma as he prefers moving a lot. They are accompanied as always by two ghosts (Millicent and Henry) that as far as she knows she is the only person who sees and talks with them. She even has a boyfriend Flynn O'Mara who calls her "Moon Girl" and a best friend Corey's girlfriend Nikki.

She helps grieving Mrs. Morris understand her son David did not commit suicide. Tara also has the case of DeeDee Broyles buried in the backyard of their home; the ghost pleads with her to find her body and her killer. Tara finds help with OSU Geology Assistant Professor Nate Pierce. At a football rally, Tara realizes a little child is being abducted; Flynn intercedes and obtains Detective Rutherford's help. However, something assaults Tara leaving her extremely weak, but she has no idea what.

OMG, book two of the Lunatic Life young adult series is a fun teenage Ghost Whisperer (and more psychic skills) amateur sleuth mystery. Tara is a wonderful lead character who holds the entertaining story line together. The cast is also strong including the two prime ghosts and DeeDee although two in-crowd high school girls are too stereotypical. Still with the DeeDee paranormal murder case and other paranormal happenings Lunatic Detective is an entertaining investigative tale as the psychic relishes having a BF and BFFs while using her talent to help ghosts cross over.

Ghost of the Thames
May McGoldrick
May McGoldrick Books
9780984156740 $14.99

She is downing when the female voice urgently calls out to her. The woman pleads with Sophy to swim ashore, which she does. Sophy realizes she remembers nothing not even her name and asks where she is. The woman says London and leads Sophy to someone she insists will help keep her safe. As horses pulling a coach bear down on Sophy, her rescuer vanishes.

The driver of the coach is horrified when he runs over the woman who appeared out of nowhere. When the passenger Royal naval Captain Edward Seymour goes to look he and the driver find a miracle as she is alive. Although the hospital at Lincoln's Inn Fields is nearby, Edward knows that is a death factory of learning for medical students. He takes her to Urania Cottage, a refuge for fallen women set up by his friends Dickens and Burdett-Coutts. As she heals, Sophy joins Edward and that rabble reformist writer Dickens on a quest to find his missing niece Amelia.

This timely exciting Victorian suspense works because May McGoldrick uses the expected romantic subplot as a secondary enhancer to somewhat lighten the horrific conditions in Dickensian London that place females and children, even so called protected ones, in peril as items for commodity exchange. The atmosphere is dark and gloomy while Sophy struggles with amnesia and Edward with his missing niece. Dickens adds a nice twist to the perils of Sophy.

Thieves Get Rich, Saints Get Shot
Jodi Compton
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307588081 $23.00

Hailey Cain was two months shy of graduating West Point when the army gave her a medical discharge due to a deadly brain tumor. She returned to California only to lose a finger when she took on a mobster in Hailey's War. Her irate cousin Grammy award winner CJ Mooney tells her not to come back to his place as he cannot cope with her life risking adventures.

Instead Hailey hooks up with Serena "Warchild" Delgadillo, the leader of a kick butt Latina female gang in Los Angeles. Warchild calls Cain informing her she is wanted for a double murder including a cop in San Francisco. Cain is stunned as she is four hundred miles to the south so could not have committed the homicides. As Cain begins her efforts to expedite herself from her troubles, she encounters gang-intelligence cop Magnus Ford who offers her a chance for moral redemption.

The second Cain thriller is a profound look at female gangs who in many cases make the other gender look weak. Cain is a terrific lead who keeps the exciting insightful story line focused as her moral compass feels off since she joined her schoolmate's gang. On top of her lethal illness, the anti-heroine learns personal values and ethics and a stolen identity are difficult hills to climb.

Five Days in Paris
Danielle Steel
Delacorte Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345528193 $14.00

Wilson-Donovan President Peter Haskell is in Paris staying at the Ritz to review the test of Vicotec, a drug that will make the company billions but more important help people with cancer. The proud honest family man loves his wife and three children, but takes pride in his integrity as the head of a large international pharmaceutical firm.

Olivia Thatcher's husband Anderson is the U.S. Senator from Virginia. Her spouse has plans for the presidency so though she has been his biggest supporter through the years she knows she will be under a microscope so must be even more diligent. Currently Olivia is staying at the Paris Ritz.

At the Montmartre, Peter and Olivia meet. They know almost at first sight they should have been together. However, Anderson has offered Olivia a million a year to remain at his side and he has a loving wife and three sons but also could make billions if he lies about the test results

Five Days in Paris is reprint of a mid 1990s entertaining romance with some suspense as to what the lead couple will do re family and the firm. The thin story line follows the anticipated path without a detour, but fans of Danielle Steel will enjoy the ride.

Dancing with Eternity
John Patrick Lowrie
Camel Press
c/o Coffeetown Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603818100 $17.95

On Vesper the third moon of Golgotha, the SRS informs Mohandas the actor that his scales are not considered a deduction and therefor he owes the government 4000 DCU. Not having the money, Lizard as the patrons call Mo is stuck in the jungle city of New Spanaway on a backwater world instead of heading to Heaven with the troupe.

At a dive, a woman takes an interest in Mo. He assumes she is a System Revenue Service field agent arriving to collect or a Planetary Tectonics agent ready to kick him off the dole and into the dangerous "Works". Steel is neither as she offers him a position on her starship F.S. Lightdancer. Though he does not quite understand his duties, he accepts the opportunity to escape paradise. Thus begins the odyssey of Steel and Mo as they head roundabout to the most dangerous sector of the universe Brainard's Planet with stops at Earth, Circe and Eden; their quest is simply to save humanity.

Dancing with Eternity is a complex, cerebral, yet exciting science fiction thriller that extrapolates present day trends to what could be in a couple of millennia. The story line can feel convoluted as the audience learns of the past lives of the protagonists while touring the universe with the pair and the crew. Starting with the first encounter in a dive that will feels like Rick's Bar in Casablanca, fans who relish something different in their futuristic outer space adventures will want to read John Patrick Lowrie's entertaining braining up Dancing with Eternity.

Good Catch
Tracy Ann Lord
Camel Press
c/o Coffeetown Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603818612 $14.95

Maddie Chilton made BZB the public relations in place for hard to handle clients. However, the suits at Corporate rewarded her with a limited-time cash out retirement. Her replacement is her assistant who she "created" in her image; a younger and less costly Maddie like clone.

Instead of her exclusive Miami condo, the guillotined queen of South Florida PR is in Maine being chauffeured by Tykee the Demon Boy of Easy Rider Limo from the rural airport to Rangeley where Bub flies her to Wilson Sport Camps at Lake Mooselookmeguntic where she is to go fishing. She is in shellshock with her going away present from the staff at BZB. She begins to meet the staff starting with the owner Wayne Wilson, Flo the cook who openly hates customers, Cal the fishing guide who enjoys skinny dipping and Essencia with her ever changing personalities. At first she thinks they are lunatics but the place, the natives (especially the naked fisherman with baggage) and Madame grow on her though she considers like a fungus.

With a nod to Northern Exposure but at the other side of the continent, Good Catch is an amusing contemporary romance starring a lead protagonist who feels like a fish out of water when she arrives in the middle of nowhere amidst a species that she is unsure can be classified as Homo Sapiens. Using hyperbole especially the exaggerated Maddie Miami filter, the support cast is ultra eccentric. However, this is Maddie's tale as she finds love and perhaps happiness amongst big flies that bite, big bears that howl, and big people that are lunatics.

Time Slice
Terry Downing
Camel Press
c/o Coffeetown Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603818520 $17.95

Roy Washburn is recently retired, but as he sits vigil in his chair, just like he has over the last two or three days, he is bored. His daughter Ann and friends have streamed by to wish him well, but he finds the visits enervating. Used to working much of every day, to Roy leisure denotes ennui.

While accompanying his wife Emily on a non energizing trip to the mall, Roy notices a small metal cylinder with odd markings. He touches the triangular pointer; and to his shock Roy is in the time stream. There he meets The Traveler, who instructs him on the use of the gizmo that enable the user to tour other civilizations co-existing other Earths with that of Roy's. Roy joins the Traveler on his quest to recover a stolen object from the person who murdered his father. However, Emily becomes ill and Ann increasingly displays her anger and resentment for her dad not being there; which limits his time as do other perils inside the Time Stream. Roy needs help to assist the Traveler starting with Emily and Ann, but never expected his granddaughter Jodie to be his sidekick.

This is a fun lighthearted young adult quest fantasy with a serious family values underpinning. The story line is action-packed once the retired lead character picks up the gadget and never slows down as he confronts villains like Mr. Clean in his stream and nastier sorts on some of the others. Readers will enjoy taking time out for this entertaining frolic as three generations learn what matters in life's short Time Slice.

Oliver Pepper's Pickle
John C. Picardi
Camel Press
c/o Coffeetown Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603818575 $18.95

The past year has been hell for Oliver Pepper. First his wife miscarries. Then she tells him she is leaving him as she has had a cyber affair while he has become a boring drunk. At Manhattan's prestigious Bolton School for Girls he loses his Art History teaching position he has had for fifteen years for opening the shades and talking to some kid Franco from the loser public school across the street.

His sister and her New Age BF are driving him crazy with their crazy advice. Other family and friends recommend even loonier tips from the insane self-help book: "The Castration of the 20th Century Man: How to Grow a New Set for the 21st Century". At AA, he meets Rosa the principal and asks her out. She agrees with the stipulation he teach a class at her middle school. There he meets Cody and they become friends over Van Gogh.

Oliver Pepper's Pickle is a poignant coming of age tale of an adult who begins to find his muse when he meets troubled children like Franco and Cody. They, especially Cody, help Oliver come to grips with the death years ago of his father and how to cope during a midlife crises. Though the world does not revolve around how Oliver demands it move on his axis, John C. Picardi provides a winning upbeat character study.

Pirate King
Laurie R. King
Bantam Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780553807981 $25.00

In 1924 Scotland Yard Inspector Lestrade sends Mary Russell to investigate rumored criminal activity by the Fflytte Film Company. Her husband Sherlock Holmes supports her going to Portugal to keep his wife and his soon to be visiting brother Mycroft from another combative round.

Mary arrives in Lisbon where she obtains a position as an Assistant's assistant on the documentary about The Pirates of Penzance so she can make her inquiries undercover. She detests Gilbert and Sullivan so the chore of working that production is difficult, but so are the day to day operations with so many pratfalls. Holmes joins her as they cross the Mediterranean on the road to Morocco.

As MRH says in the Author's Forward to the latest Russell memoirs (see The God of the Hive): "I fear that the credulity of many readers will be stretched to the breaking point" proves accurate as the exciting story line is over the top of the pirate ship's mast. Holmes arrives late (this is his wife's memoir), but Baker Street fans will enjoy his spouse's Peninsular adventures as this is an entertaining historical with Mary working the Pirate's King caper and dealing with a Gilbert and Sullivan production.

The Stranger You Seek
Amanda Kyle Williams
9780553808070 $25.00

In Atlanta fired FBI profiler turned private investigator Dr. Keye Street is a struggling alcoholic who does not believe she can say recovering though she is doing reasonably well. The Chinese American was raised by white southerners Emily Jane and Howard Street who also adopted her gay African American brother Jimmy. While Jimmy fled Georgia for Seattle with his lover Paul, Keye returned to the state to open up Corporate Intelligence & Investigations after losing her job with the Feds.

Atlanta PD Police Lieutenant Aaron Rauser asks Keye to assist them with capturing the vicious Wishbone Killer. Using her profiling skills, she seeks the links between the victims and an overall analysis of the brutal serial killer. While more murders occur, the Wishbone Killer contacts the task force hunting the psychopath as the homicidal maniac begins stalking Keye and others.

Although serial killers are too frequently appearing in mysteries, readers will enjoy this engaging whodunit thanks to a self deprecating heroine whose asides lighten the taut story line with wisdom from the start (for instance an Asian is expected to excel at school while a black male is a local terrorist; ironically Jimmy is the behaved one). Fast-paced with a strong support cast including a diabolically brilliant psychopath, readers will enjoy Keye's take on being part of the now old new south.

The Accident
Linwood Barclay
9780553807189 $25.00

In Milford, Connecticut contractor Glen Garber waits for his wife Sheila to come home from her night class as she is running very late. When their eight years old daughter Kelly sleeps, the police arrive to inform him Sheila and two others died in a car accident in which his spouse was responsible.

Though he just wants to grieve, Glen knows he has a business to run especially after a house he built burned down with the insurance accusing him of shoddy work and a stunned daughter to raise as a single dad. He is also bitter and doubtful that Sheila caused the deadly incident as the description of her driving would be totally out of character for her. Adding to his doubts is friends asking about the whereabouts and contents of Sheila's purse. When Kelly becomes the focus, Glen knows he must protect his offspring but from which neighbors.

This taut cautionary thriller warns readers though the economy is in the cesspool; don't dive into illegal means of making money as the outcome will probably prove worse. The story line is action-packed as incidents pile up while the shocked protagonist investigates; but also allows time for the everyman hero to ponder what the hell is going on in Milford.

Another Kind of Dead
Kelly Meding
9780345525772 $7.99

In her former life Evy Stone was a Dreg Hunter. When she died in a factory fire targeting her, no one expected her to come back to life especially the arsonist who murdered her; but she has with new paranormal skills.

As she adapts to her new body and learns to use her powers, five people are aware that Evy came back. Her lover-partner Wyatt Truman warns her to trust no one especially the triad as they invaded a lab to take away powerful objects and hybrids but failed to snatch the genius behind the development. He does not trust their agenda. When the compulsive obsessive mad scientist Walter Thackery steals a dangerous object, he begins a chess match in which check will be Evy's blood.

The third Evy Stone urban fantasy (see As Lie the Dead and Three Days to Dead) is a fun romp due to actions of the mad scientist; a stereotype (but not campy) villain who makes for an entertaining thriller as he is a classic COD freak seeking the heroine's blood. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy the game of life (and death) as Evy with her loving sidekick Wyatt battle traitors in their group and a truly mad scientist.

With a Little Luck
Caprice Crane
9780553386240 $15.00

In Los Angeles radio DJ Beryl "Berry" Lambert swears she does not believe in lady luck or for that matter any luck, good or bad. However, her dad is a gambler so she grew up knowing not to tempt fate, which is why she carries her collection of good luck charms or superstitiously dodges pratfalls.

She has had two bad relationships in a row and everyone knows bad luck comes in three. However DJ Ryan "Dr. Love" Riley is attracted to eccentric Berry. As they date, the station puts them together for a morning gender war show that is a success. However, she angrily dumps him and the show when he voices one of her dirty secrets on the air, that of her fear of Shatner beaming her up. However, once calm she realizes what she has done so With a Little Luck, she feels they "can make this whole damn thing work out" (Paul McCartney and Wings) if he gives them a second chance.

This is a fabulous madcap romance that feels like a throwback to the zany 1930s movies. The lead couple is a terrific pairing of two DJs in love. Her over the top fears are handled deftly. Berry neurotic phobias come across stupid yet readers (and Ryan) will contagiously adore her. Caprice Crane deserves accolades for this charmer.

Madame Bovary's Daughter
Linda Urbach
9780385343879 $15.00

In Yonville, France with the suicide of his beloved egomaniacal wife Emma, weak Charles Bovary feels he has no reason to live; as he totally ignores his twelve years old daughter Berthe. When he dies one year after Emma's death in 1852, Berthe is left impoverished. However, the child learned plenty from her parents as to what to avoid. She vows to have a successful life by never becoming self indulged or destructive like her mother or pathetic destructive like her father.

Berthe moves in with her grandma on the latter's impoverished farm. She desperately wants her grandmother's approval as Berthe learns to do chores in the house and on the farm. However, her grandmother dies without giving Berthe what she desired. Berthe works long tedious hours at a Lille textile mill until the owner Monsieur Rappelais orders her to join his staff in Paris. Though she prefers to decline, she becomes a lady's maid to his wife Madame Rappelais who mentors her; while she also rejects any sexual trysts with either Rappelais; as that was the undoing of her mother. Instead she has new hope when she becomes apprentice to fashion designer Charles Frederick Worth and meets Armand.

This is a terrific sequel to the Flaubert classic as Linda Urbach tells the story of Madame Bovary's orphaned daughter. The title character keeps the story line focuses as she romps through the second half of the nineteenth century in France. Though there is a well written romantic subplot, it is Mademoiselle Bovary's French adventures that make for a strong historical.

The Angel of Blythe Hall
Darci Hannah
9780345520562 $15.00

In 1481 at Blythe Hall on the Scottish side of the border, Julius saves his sister Isabeau's life when he kills the Englishman trying to abduct the Laird's daughter. When they enter the Hall, their father William praises his son and lectures his daughter for not letting go of her cur Rondo; as her action almost killed the siblings. William sees a vision of his late wife Angelique calling to him. The Laird turns insane while Julius is charged with treason and Isabeau sent to live at the king's court.

Elven years later, Isabeau returns home to claim Blythe Hall; Julius is there to greet her though he acts mad claiming he seeks some otherworldly power. The King follows as he is attracted to Isabeau's friend Marion Boyd. Sir George Douglas wants Isabeau, but though attracted she has doubts as she dreams of a golden guardian angel. When an enemy army storms the gates of Blythe Hall, Isabeau prays her Gabriel proves real and not just her imagination.

This is an odd fascinating paranormal historical thriller in which the story line never quite decides between fifteenth century intrigue and an intriguing fantasy as the mystical elements tend to disrupt the flow of a well written Scottish border tale. Still fans who enjoy something different will want to read Isabeau seeks her muse.

Pinch Me
Adena Halpern
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781439171141 $14.99

Lily Burns' grandmother Dolly and affirmed by her mother Selma beat the drums all her life with the hymn "Never marry a man unless he's short, bald, fat, stupid, and treats you badly." Instead she ignores their sage advice and marries perfect pediatrician Gogo Goldblatt.

Her hunk treats her kindly and with respect. In love they elope. In shock over her good fortune, which ignores the matriarchal mantra, Lily asks Gogo to pinch her to insure she is awake. When he playfully does, she finds herself back in her home before she wed Gogo. Stunned Lily locates Gogo but he fails to recognize her and is married to someone else. Now she understands the refrain as the women in her family are cursed.

With a nod to Penelope, this contemporary fairy tale is a fun tale as Lily works to break the curse of love that has destroyed her immediate ancestors. The complicated story line is entertaining as Lily and readers wonder what happened to the happily ever after since the pinch finds Gogo married to someone else. Although the key player Lily is not fully developed and the support cast stereotyped purposely from fairy tale 101 to emphasize the Curse, Pinch Me is an enjoyable lighthearted twist on the Curse of love.

Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories
Megan Kelly Hall & Carrie Jones, eds.
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062060976 $9.99

As the subtitle states, seventy authors provided their story of either being bullied or bullying someone. There is a common theme that it will get better once you are an adult so hang in there, but also admit that is not easy for a middle school student to wait a decade to be free. Other themes include finding an adult who will listen and act though once again that is not easy to achieve. The target audience of teenagers will struggle to read more than a few entries as most are too short and never quite drill down deep. The exceptions to prose are the comic strips; Cecil Castellucci and Mo Willems provide insightful looks at bullying that the younger teens especially will appreciate. Few of the contributions provide insight into the motives of why they were bullies though some of the victims offer their opinions. Bottom line is this anthology is a terrific tool for the counselor who can customize the entries to the needs of the victimized student.

The Lantern
Deborah Lawrenson
9780062049698 $25.99

In Switzerland, Dom the English musician and Eve the translator meet in a maze; for both it is love at first sight. They move to Les Genevriers in Provence where they plan to renovate a country house constructed in 1887. The abode is loaded with seemingly valuable antiques and hidden rooms. However two things disturb Eve in the midst of her heavenly relationship with Dom. First calling this place Les Genevriers seems inane when there is only one juniper tree; the English translation of the French word. Second her beloved refuses to speak about his former wife Rachel who vanished.

As Eve wants to know the truth about Rachel, they find sad audio recordings made by former resident Benedicte Lincel over five decades ago. Benedicte talks about her blind sister Marthe the perfume designer who apparently vanished and about their cruel brother Pierre. Eve wonders about two females living several decades apart simply vanishing.

Rotating perspective between past and present, readers have a haunting gothic thriller using the beautiful French countryside and the creation of perfume as counterpoints to the growing fear of something bad about to occur. Although the cast in both eras are somewhat thin, readers will enjoy this suspenseful tale as Eve's suspicion that she may not next grows.

Portrait of A Spy
Daniel Silva
9780062072184 $26.99

Art restorer Gabriel Allon and his wife, Chiara look forward to the weekend in London. They will visit St. James's where he will authenticate a potentially phenomenal find, a painting by Titian. Afterward they will enjoy the city.

However, the day is ruined die to suicide bombings on the Champs-Elysees left twenty-eight dead in Paris and in Tivoli Gardens killed thirty-seven in Copenhagen. On alert Allon notices a man acting strange near Covent Garden and wonders if this is another terrorist attack. He goes to intercede, but undercover officers knock him to the ground before he can shoot the suspect and consequently in time for the explosion to affirm what he thought. Despondent Gabriel goes to Cornwall until the CIA asks him to find an American cleric with grandiose schemes to outdo Bin Laden.

Though anti-terrorism field work should be a young man's game, no one will mind Allon working the cold as he struggles with the deaths of eighteen innocents due to the reaction of the cops after the tragic Menezes fiasco. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Allon spots the suicide bomber and never slows down as he hunts for the cleric. With insight into the competition to reach the minds of potential second generation home grown terrorists, Daniel Silva provides another powerful thriller as readers anticipate a showdown between the cleric and the art restorer.

Leah and the Bounty Hunter
Elaine Levine
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9781420118667 $6.99

Three years ago, Jace Gage's wife had him hung. He survived his demise and since the near death experience, the Civil War veteran has become a ruthless Avenger; a bounty hunter with no mercy.

In 1868 desperate to clean up lawless Defiance, Dakota Territory whose worst thug is Sheriff Bill Kemp, the Cheyenne U.S. Marshal hires Jace. He enters Defiance defiant, as he no longer fears death and is unconcerned with collateral damage. However, the man assumed to have no heart hits a soul searching roadblock when he saves Leah Morgan and her "nice pet" from an assault by one of Kemp's contemptible deputies. He orders her to stay out of harm's way but she refuses, which means he must keep safe the woman who stole his heart.

The latest trip to post Civil War Defiance is a wonderful tale of second chances starring a famous aloof Avenger and a tough foolish heroine. The lead characters and their relationship is similar in tone to that of the previous titled protagonists (in Rachel and the Hired Gun, and Audrey and the Maverick), but bring different baggage that keeps the "Town without Pity" (Gene Pitney) fresh.

It's Always Been You
Victoria Dahl
9781420104844 $6.99

A decade ago Katie Tremont and Aidan York were in love. However, the lovers got into a spat and she left. She traveled by sea far way, but he was told by her parents she died. Aidan was devastated by his loss and how they ended their relationship. He lived to make money and take women.

In 1849 in Kingston-Upon-Hull, a stunned Aidan's pulse ignites for the first since she left him as he sees Kate in HAMILTON COFFEES. Irate and feeling inane, he attacks her for her duplicity. Kate asks him to leave insisting she is married with Mr. Hamilton to arrive soon, but she also has not forgotten the only man she ever loved. Calming down, Aidan wants a second chance with his Kate as both struggles with severe trust issues; he fears she will leave and she believes if her secret becomes known he will leave her to face the repercussions alone.

This second chance at love Victorian romance is an engaging historical as the lead couple failed with their young love, but hopefully both are wiser and more mature now. However this time tough baggage makes success unlikely. Readers will enjoy Victoria Dahl's warn mid nineteenth century tale due to the fascinating relationship between Kate and Aidan.

Nancy Bush
9781420103427 $6.99

The summer before their senior year at high school, the gang had a drunken camping party. However, the fun gala turned ugly when seventeen year old surfer dude hunk Lucas Moore fell from a cliff to his death. Tillamook County Sheriff's Detective Fed Clausen interrogated those at the ill fated event.

Years later, Coby Rendell who attended the tragic event comes home to celebrate with her family her stepmother's birthday. Many of those who were at the campfire will gather together for the first time in years. Coby's former boyfriend, police detective Danner Lockwood wants a second chance with the woman he regrets got away. She realizes she remains attracted to him. However, a homicide occurs that leads to Coby and Danner investigating who among their friends is a killer

This exhilarating twisting thriller shows hate lasts longer than friendship. The cast of a quadrillion friends can prove overwhelming with some purposely stereotyped as if the old high school crowd never fully moved on past the tragedy a dozen years ago. Although having a civilian work shotgun on an investigation seems inappropriate, fans will enjoy Hush wondering who the killer in plain sight is as the death count doesn't quite add up.

To Touch the Knight
Lindsay Townsend
9781420106985 $6.99

By 1351 the plague continues to devastate much of England, but fails to stop the knights' tourneys attended by the aristocracy. In this atmosphere, the Widow Edith a serf married to the late silversmith of Warren Hemlet pretends to be a foreign princess attending the games. The other villagers act as her retinue in public. If their masquerade is exposed they will be executed, but this ploy is the only way they can avoid starvation as the plague wrecked their village two years ago.

Knight Sir Ranulf of Frendenwyke hates the festivities he must attend and participate in or else. He loathes celebrating with so much waste while the serfs suffer and his own wife buried. He knows war first hand so finds tournament battle inane. However, he is attracted to the mysterious Lady of Lilies who is unlike any aristocrat he ever met.; Edith shares his feelings but fears telling him the truth out of keeping her villagers safe.

This is a deep dark medieval romance with a profound look at the death and destruction caused by the plague, and the arrogant abuse of some of the nobles towards their serfs. Lindsay Townsend pulls no punches as mid fourteenth century England is a harsh environs. The cast is strong while the romance between the disillusioned idealistic knight and "eastern Princess Smith" make for a wonderful tale.

Murder In Burnt Orange
Jeanne M. Dams
Perservance Press
c/o Daniel & Daniel, Publishers
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781564745033 $15.95

Independent Hilda Johansson emigrated from Sweden to South Bend, Indiana to become a housemaid at Tippecanoe Place. Strong willed to make it on her own, fireman Patrick Cavanaugh and Hilda fall in love. They marry despite objections from both their families. She becomes a lady when her spouse becomes nouveau riche working for his uncle's high income store Mallory's Dry Goods. The oppressive heat of the summer of 1905 makes pregnant Hilda miserable and cranky.

To get the cranky Hilda's mind on something else, Patrick's Aunt Molly challenges her to use her cognitive skills to hear and see people she trusts to learn who ruined the switch on the train tracks deliberately killing and injuring crew and passengers. Hilda investigates the derailment and other recent nearby activity that involves unions, arson, and murder. An enemy of Patrick and Hilda orchestrates these disasters for a puppet master who wants both Cavanaughs dead.

A Hilda Johansson amateur sleuth is always fun to read because the recurring cast starting with the heroine come across as friends and bring to life small town Indiana at the turn of the previous century. The whodunit is complex with several twists and theories adding complications to "General" Hilda who commands her loyal troops because they trust she will solve the case.

In the Air Tonight
Stephanie Tyler
Dell Books
c/o The Random HousePublishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780440423034 $7.99

Though the Delta Force unit anticipated danger with some probably not returning except in a bag, the missions proved extremely harrowing (see Promises In The Dark and Lie With Me). Thus the black ops soldiers look forward to some needed R&R.

Caleb Scott and Mace Stevens head to the latter's bar in upstate New York to grieve the loss of teammates. Entering Mace's establishment is twenty-six years old Paige Grayson, stepsister of their late teammate Gray. Paige, who has the uncanny ability to read minds, demands Mace tell her what happened to her sibling who was under his command; at the same time Caleb suffering from memory loss fears he killed Gray. She also feels safe in Mace's presence and that has not happened in a long time. Paige knows her psychopath murdering older brother Jeffrey escaped the mental war of a prison and now stalks her. However, she has lost some of her focus because of her attraction to Mace; likewise for the same reason he fails to appreciate the danger she is in.

Though a bit over the top, the Delta Force duet finds home leave as harrowing as being on a mission. The story line is more taut psychological suspense and less overt action than the previous thrillers, but that brings freshness to the saga. Fans will enjoy this exciting romantic suspense as Mace's motive for being with Paige initially was a promise he made to Gray but now a promise his heart made.

One Good Reason
Sarah Mayberry
Harlequin SuperRomance
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373717248 $5.50

Almost a year ago after his abusive father died, Jon Adamson arrived in Melbourne from Canada to settle the estate and spend time with his brother Tyler (see The Last Goodbye). However, he remains aloof from his sibling as he "renovates" their dad's home. Tyler and his wife Ally force Jon to move past his demons though the latter has no plans to remain in the area beyond settling their dad's estate. However, he is also attracted to his sibling's office manager Gabby Wade, who was Tyler's former girlfriend.

Gabby reciprocates Jon's feelings, but is reluctant to do anything outside the office with another Adamson who unintentionally broke her heart. However, neither can resist the other as they fall in love, but she fears another broken heart when he leaves.

This is a deep family drama with a strong romantic subplot. Jon is a wounded warrior as he wants to flee back to Canada and alcohol, but his family and Gabby will not let him even with her trepidations of having her heart busted up again. This is a terrific Australian romance.

The Texan's Secret
Linda Warren
Harlequin SuperRomance,
9780373717231 $5.50

Southern Cross ranch manager Chance Hardin considers joining his two brothers (Cadde and Cisco "Kid") as partners in an oil company. However, he knows if he does he no longer can hide his secret from them. As Chance debates quitting his ranch job to join his siblings, Shay Dumont breaks into the Calhoun family home to take from a safe her mother Blanche's wedding rings; her nasty mom was once married to Jack Calhoun whose son owns Southern Cross.

Chance decides to help Shay learn who her father was. As they team up and fall in love encouraged by her feisty eight year old daughter Darcy, Chance wonders if it is time to tell his brothers the secret about their cherished late father he has concealed from them.

The key to this engaging contemporary romance is the parents of the lead couple as they have left both emotionally fractured with doubts about relationships. With a strong support cast and entertaining character driven the story line, the first Hardin Boys tale is an enjoyable opening act.

Stand in Wife
Karina Bliss
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717224 $5.50

While interviewing on a job out of town, Merry Coltrane breaks her leg. She pleads with her twin sister Vivienne Jansen to pretend to be her like they did as kids so her estranged husband Charlie who walked out on her and their three kids will not know as he sues for visitation rights. Flying in from New York, the theater costume designer arrives in Auckland, New Zealand to temporarily masquerade as Merry when the latter's mother-in-law Linda dies with the former in the house in Hamilton.

Vivi as Merry helps arrange the funeral while caring for her sister's children and keeping her brother-in-law at a distance as Merry's husband seeks a reconciliation. Although overwhelmed Vivi handles all this with aplomb until Charlie's brother Ross (support role in Here Comes the Groom), the injured Special Forces operative, comes home. Ross finds himself inexplicably attracted to his sister-in-law; while Vivi reciprocates but as Merry has to hide her feelings.

Twins switching is an old theme, but Karina Bliss makes it refreshing with a zany madcap romance. The support cast is a delight as they add madness to the wild comedic New Zealander comedy. Still the bottom line is the romantic subplot as Ross and Vivi fall in love in a wonderful example of chaos theory at work.

A Mother's Homecoming
Tanya Michaels
Harlequin American
9780373753727 $5.25

Overwhelmed at seventeen with a marriage and a baby Pamela Jo Wilson felt the pair would be better off without her as she suffers from depression and a dysfunctional relationship with her mom. With sadness and guilt she fled their home in Mimosa, Mississippi.

Now thirteen years later, a recovering alcoholic Pam has left California returning to Mimosa to see Mae Danvers Wilson, her mom; only to learn she died a few months ago. Her former husband Nick Shepard is hostile towards her for deserting him and especially their newborn Faith who he raised as a single dad. She would like time with her daughter, but Nick distrusts her and instinctively protects their offspring as he realizes he still loves Pam but expects at the first sign of problems she will flee and hurt Faith.

This is a super second chance family drama in which Pam makes the tale as a recovering alcoholic who also deals with depression and guilt issues. The support cast obviously Nick and Faith, but also the townsfolk and her California BFF coach Annabel enhance the terrific tale of A Mother's Homecoming.

Ranger Daddy
Rebecca Winters
Harlequin American
9780373753710 $5.25

When they were teens, Jeff Thompson and Gabrielle Rafferty were in love, but his parents and her foster mom thought they were too young and kept them apart. Gabi married Ryan, but divorced her abusive husband when he demanded she abort their baby, which she did not.

Fourteen years later after warnings from her lawyer and her foster mom, fearing for the life of her seven year old child Ashley from her dad's rage, Gabi flees Rosemead, California where she teaches school. Accompanied by Ashley she heads to Yosemite where Jeff works as a park ranger. She trusts Jeff with her life and more important to her that of Ashley. Jeff remains attracted to the girl he loved as a teen; he vows to keep mother and daughter safe even as little Ashley trusts he will keep her safe from her dangerous father. Gabi never got over her love for Jeff, but the past and her violent ex linger over their future.

Ranger Daddy is an exciting second chance romantic suspense thriller that grips the audience from the moment the heroine's lawyer warns her to leave town and never slows down as the reader anticipates two different confrontations. Although Ashley is too precocious, fans will appreciate the latest Yosemite Ranger romance (see The Bachelor Ranger and The Ranger's Secret) as the lioness protects her cub.

Extra Innings
Debbi Rawlins
Harlequin Blaze
9780373796366 $5.25

"Playing the Field". Shortstop Dylan Andrews seems destined to make the major leagues; Elizabeth Smith, who secretly liked him in high school, interviews him as she muses that his dream will fulfill her fantasy.

"Bringing the Heat". Rob Perry fights to make Texas Talons roster while the daughter of the owner Tori Gallagher fights to make him hers.

"His Lucky Charm". Eric Lessing is on a hitting streak that he believes is caused by his new good luck charm Tess Meyers.

Bonus reprint: "In His Wildest Dreams". Because his sister's BFF needed a last second subject for her thesis, Nick Ryder reluctantly agreed to allow Emma Snow to analyze his XXX wet dreams starring her.

Although the added tale has nothing to do with baseball, Debbi Rawlins provides readers with three engaging sports romances and that Extra Innings' fun contemporary as she hits a walk off grand slam with this anthology.

Undeniable Pleasures
Tori Carrington
Harlequin Blaze
9780373796335 $5.25

"Undeniable Pleasures". Jordan Cosby's ex-boyfriend Rick Packard is a notorious gun-runner. She will testify against him in court, but needs protection from his associates. Lazarus Security partner Jason Savage is assigned to keep her safe in the Colorado Springs' suburb Denver. They are in heat from the moment he arrives.

Bonus reprint: "You Sexy Thing". Sex therapists, Doctors Grace Mattias and Dylan Fairbanks meet when he enters the wrong hotel room just as she steps out of the shower. Dylan's eyeballs fall out, but he somehow manages (barely) to leave. They approach their professions differently as their outlooks on life are diametrically opposite. Both feel the sparks between them and Grace seduces Dylan into an evening of heat hotter than the sun until his girlfriend calls.

Both tales are equatorial hot requiring asbestos gloves yet also contain occasional cool down humor. Readers will enjoy the pairs of lead couples as Tori Carrington turns up the heat two times.

Cowboys Like Us
Vicki Lewis Thompson
Harlequin Blaze
9780373796342 $5.25

"Cowboys Like Us". When he injured his knee, Logan Carswell knew his baseball career with the Cubs was over. The former catcher struggles with what next after the Major Leagues. He arrives in Shoshone, Wyoming to attend his friend's wedding where he finds himself attracted to bartender, Caro Davis. She reciprocates and they have a tryst, in which both know he will leave soon, but the rolling stone finds he keeps delaying his departure.

Bonus reprint: "Notorious". Though he has been to Las Vegas before on the rodeo circuit, Saguaro Junction, Arizona rancher Noah Garfield only returns for the wedding of an old rodeo friend. Being in town makes Noah sadly contemplate on the state of his relationships as all his friends have one woman in their lives. He reflects back a decade to Keely Branscom posing as the centerfold for Macho magazine when he sees her entering a strip joint. Noah immediately assumes that Keely is about to peel the flesh again. Keely is a reporter for Attitudes Magazine and does stories on sexual fantasies. Never forgiving Noah for his rejection of her, she decides to let him think the worst of her, not that stripping is a bad occupation in Keely's mind.

These are two fun lighthearted wedding gala romances with plenty of blazing sex though different in tone as Notorious is humorous while Cowboys Like Us contains less horse play.

Rush of Pleasure
Rhyannon Byrd
9780373775774 $7.99

In Sacred, Louisiana, believing his kin and him are cursed due to some Casus blood, paranormal investigator Noah Winston leaves behind the witch he loves Willow Broussard; breaking her heart. Noah joins a unit of former Watchmen who battle against Casus leader Anthony Calder and his minions who have plans for the world.

He believes his side has a weapon to defeat the enemy, but need help from the Broussard witches to do so. Though he fears what seeing his beloved Willow will do to his heart, Noah arrives asking for their translation of an ancient spell. Willow remains furious at her beloved for deserting her. Still with her sister and the world in peril, she joins forces with Noah. Meanwhile Calder needs a new Casus body to take over; with his choice being Noah.

The eighth and final Primal Instincts Bayou fantasy (see Rush of Darkness) is a great finish as readers like me have wanted Noah's saga told. He remains a dark hero who fears his tainted DNA will destroy his beloved Willow. However, the final confrontation leaves him no choice but to plead with his cherished Willow to help him. Though she has issues too, this time her plan has two objectives: to defeat the evil Casus and persuade her champion to stay with her in victory or defeat. Rhyannon Byrd provides a strong climax to a powerful series.

Code of the Wolf
Susan Krinard
9780373775521 $7.99

Although a decade has passed since the murderous werewolves killed his wife and left him for dead, Jacob Constantine survived but became a werewolf as a result of the assault. Over the ten years the former Texas Ranger and bounty hunter lived for one reason revenge.

In 1883 in the New Mexico Territory, an outlaw gang attacks Jacob and left him to die. Serenity Campbell and her female companions come across him and though her judgment says to leave him to die as she distrusts males since the assault six years ago; heeding the warning of the others she takes him to her ranch Avalon. The spread is run and operated by women only; all have horrific experiences with three legged humans. As Changyling heals him, Caridad believes Jacob is evil, but Serenity knows they need his help as his enemy and their enemy is the same.

This excellent werewolf western romance is a terrific thriller as the lead protagonists must choose between loathing fueled revenge and love. Action-packed with a strong support cast especially the females-only ranchers, readers will enjoy this fabulous late nineteenth century Americana as Jacob and Serenity must choose between love and hate.

Nicola Cornick
9780373775835 $7.99

Susanna Burney and James Devlin were in love. However, the day after their wedding vows, she abruptly left him. Over the ensuing years Susanna worked diligently to insure she and her two wards would be financially secure. Likewise, James did the same to insure he would never worry about money ever again.

They see each other for the first time since the breakup and both know they still are attracted to one another. He happens to be engaged to Emma for two years though her affluent parents prefer his cousin Frederick Walters. Likewise his sister Chessie detests that he has become one of Emma's groveling pets. Susanna prays he keeps his mouth shut over her past and he wonders why she interferes with the pending betrothal between Chessie and Fitzwilliam Alton. However what Dev really wants to know from her is why she left him.

This is an entertaining Regency romance starring an avaricious seeking male and a for hire relationship destroyer. The story line is fast-paced and fun to read though the back story of what happened years ago between the protagonists seems inane and unlikely. Still those historical sub-genre fans that put aside their plausibility meter will enjoy the zany antics of the Ton in this over the top of the London Tower tale.

Ashes of Angels
Michele Hauf
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373618644 $5.50

As a Muse to Fallen Angels, Cassandra Stevens knows to not get intimate with them. She expects that one day a Fallen Angel will try to sire an evil nephilim with her.

Cassandra may be aware of the generic warning, but no one prepared her for Samandiriel. She wants him, but fears he is the one who will rape her and leave her carrying the flesh eating malevolence that will kill her and subsequently Berlin and beyond. However, Samandiriel is not like his brethren as he was summoned by a dark vampire, but respects women and wants to prove to Cassandra that love redeems even the fallen.

Ashes of Angels is a wonderful star-crossed lover urban fantasy that grips the reader from the moment the Muse and the Fallen Angel meet and never slows down as Samandiriel risks his existence to prove to his doubting Thomasina that his attitude differs from his peers. He knows she is his redemption while she realizes he wants her but only if she is willing. Fans will appreciate the healing of love in the latest Of Angels & Demons (see Fallen) charmer. In addition the hard copy printing of the e-short story of how Zane and Coco first met The Ninja Vampire Girl is an added bonus.

Guardian Wolf
Linda O. Johnston
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373618651 $5.50

Top secret shapeshifting military unit Alpha Force assigns Lieutenant Grace Andreas to investigate the stealing of medical samples near Phoenix. The fear of the brass is that the stolen items can be used in a bioterrorist attack.

Dr. Simon Parran and Grace were lovers back in pre-med at Michigan State, but both hid an intricate part of themselves from one another. Now he sees a female shift from a wolf to a woman; and realizes why he never forgot his Grace. Needing one another in more ways than one, they team up as humans and wolves to prevent a potential tragedy.

The third Alpha force werewolf romantic suspense (see Alpha Wolf and Alaskan Wolf) is a delightful action-packed second chance at love investigative thriller. Grace is a super protagonist who never forgave him for deserting her after one semester of love. The story line works because the relationship between the lead couple grows (though in someway regresses back to where it was going in MSU) while they work diligently on catching the thieves who remain hidden until the final confrontation.

Artist Arthur
Kimani Press/Harlequin
9780373229932 $9.99

The Greek Goddess bestowed supernatural power to four Lincoln, Connecticut teenagers in order for the Mystyx quartet to prevent the evil Darkness from achieving world domination. One of the chosen fifteen years old Jake Palmer was a reticent loner who has been a perfect bullying target by the jocks.

Though he has made friends with his peers, even with his skills, Jake still struggles to tell his BFF Krystal Bentley how he feels about her. Two bullies Pace and Mateo pick on Jake who as a vortex possesses dark as well as good power. The Darkness appears ready to explode against these goons and encourage him to turn to the malevolent side, but Krystal is his anchor and he hopes that he is hers.

The third Mystyx teen urban fantasy (See Mystify and Manifest) is an engaging tale as the pressures of battling Charon and the bullies leaves Jake upset and increasingly heading towards choosing the Darkness inside of him. Only his love for Krystal keeps him from totally allowing the evil to win. With a few twists and the overarching theme moving forward, Mayhem is an exciting thriller.

The Taming of the Rake
Kasey Michaels
9780373775910 $7.99

In London, Lady Chelsea Mills-Beckman is desperate as all indications are that her brother who recently found religion will marry her to Reverend Francis Flotley. She needs a way out and decides scandal is it as the good reverend would never wed a woman with baggage. Her choice is Oliver Beau Blackthorn who loathes her brother Thomas for whipping him and holds a grudge against her sister Lady Madelyn for humiliating him years ago when he vowed to return one day.

Lady Chelsea offers Oliver a deal that will give him what his heart wants and her escape; she suggests they elope to Gretna Green so that she can be ruined and unworthy of Flotley. Though he tries to be a gentleman and refuse her proposal, he acquiesces. However, the trek proves harrowing physically and emotionally as they begin to fall in love, but he believes Chelsea deserves better but he knows he could not convince her otherwise; she believes Chelsea deserves Oliver.

The opening Blackthorn Brothers historical romance opens with an exhilarating romance due to a powerful cast, even the lead female's snobbish siblings come across as carrying baggage as Thomas feels he never obtained his dad's approval only his scorn. The story line is fast-paced and the race to Gretna Green is filled with dangerous action as love enters the coach if Chelsea and Oliver take a chance.

Playing Dirty
Susan Andersen
9780373775897 $7.99

Thirteen years ago, Cade Gallari bet he could sleep with the Country Day School's fat girl. He won his $200 wager with a-hole Dylan Vanderkamp announcing publically he made it with Ava Spencer. She was abashed, but with the help of her friends (Jane - see Cutting Loose and Poppy - See Bending the Rules) and their mentor Miss Agnes, she moved on from Quick Draw McGraw. He realized he mistreated her and apologized several times over the years but she ignored his remorse.

Documenter Cade returns home to Seattle with plans to film the life of Miss Agnes. He wants to rent the Wolcott Mansion the late Miss Agnes bequeathed to Ava and her other two friends, which will bring in some needed income; Cade also hires Ava on as a consultant. However, he is stunned when he sees the beautiful curvy woman Ava has become. They want each other but she distrusts him with her heart.

The final Wolcott Mansion diary sisterhood contemporary romance is an engaging second chance tale due to the star, a big woman who distrusts the motive of the man who broke her heart when they were teens. The story line starts slow, but accelerates towards the middle as Ava struggles between her treacherous heart (and libido) and her cautionary brain. Readers will bet that Cade does not stand a chance against Ava and the sisterhood.

Only Mine
Susan Mallery
9780373775880 $7.99

Word reaches Hollywood about Fool's Gold, California's shortage of men. A reality show True Love or Fool's Gold arrives to create a romantic game contest. Mayor Marsha Tilson volunteers child psychologist Dr. Dakota Hendrix as the liaison with the stars.

Raging Alaskan bush pilot Finn Anderssen arrives to bring his younger twin brothers Sasha and Stephen home to South Salmon and their last semester at college. Their guardian since their parents died eight years ago he is upset his siblings dropped out of the University of Alaska to participate in the inane competition. He and Dakota are attracted to one another from the opening threat, but she has enough on her plate with adopting a baby.

The latest Fool's Gold contemporary romance (see Finding Perfect and Almost Perfect) is a fun lighthearted tale as the Alaskan aviator and California shrink make a charming couple; their discussions are amusing with serious undertones. However, Finn comes across at times as schizoid since he is Mr. Responsibility but hates being Mr. Responsibility so he rejects love. Readers watch behind the scenes of the reality show that intrudes on the small town as Susan Mallery provides an engaging thin tale as Dakota knows her only choices are True Love or Fool's Gold.

Diana Palmer
9780373775798 $24.95

In Jacobville, Texas his mom Cammy and a mob of spousal stalkers want San Antonio FBI agent Jon Blackhawk married. However, he prefers the life of a single an. His efficient assistant Joceline Perry is effective at keeping the she wolves at bay.

Joceline raises her son Markie as a single mom. Several townsfolk have pressured her to name the dad, but she refuses insisting he is dead. Though attracted to one another, neither prefers any relationship except a professional one; they even reject the gaming connection both have with his his brother and she with her son. That changes when a killer Harold Monroe seeking revenge attacks Jon and targets Joceline and Markie as expendable pawns to get at the fed.

The sequel to Dangerous (Jon's brother Kilraven's tale) is a fast-paced romantic suspense. The lead couple is a dynamic pairing as she is sassy intelligent and he is Texas tough while the support cast adds either humor or tension. Although the murder mystery subplot is thin, the online games show fast information technology turns obsolete, as Diana Palmer provides an entertaining police procedural romance.

Tell Me More
Janet Mullany
Harlequin Spice
9780373605583 $14.95

In Colorado, her former lover Hugh the economics professor wants to move back in with radio DJ Jo Hutchinson. Although she has a heated jam session with him until her new her new geeky tenant Patrick interrupts, she tells him no as he may apologize for cheating but he still stepped out on her.

Jo also fears she suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder with her attraction to the voice. She loves sharing her sexcapades with her mysterious telephone admirer, but fears acting in person with "Mr. D." He is her erotic muse. Mr. D. inspires Jo to embark on her inner most secret sexual fantasies. She joins a kinky erotic club. However, she also finds herself attracted to her new geeky tenant Patrick. As Jo considers ripping off Patrick's clothing, she also considers whether she should arrange to meet her mysterious late night caller.

Jo makes this erotic romance work as she has a lust for sexual encounters as displayed from the start, but also comes across as a kind unassuming individual. The story line is filled with sexual tension and a bit of mystery as to who Mr. D is, though readers ironically will correctly guess his identity. The audience will feel the heat when he turns on Jo using a phone as his sex toy.

Kealan Patrick Burke
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit 7
Forest Hill, Maryland 21050
9781587672194 $40.00

Elkwood, Alabama is home to the redneck psychotic Merrill clan. They rape, torture, skin and kill outsiders and anyone else not considered pure even their own kin. The group is cannibalistic with a form of Christianity that the patriarch Pap Jim Gray uses to keep his offspring in line.

Four hikers cross paths with the clan to their misfortune. All types of depravity are done to the outsiders. The only survivor is Claire Lambert. While the clan's eldest son pursues her, Jack and his son Pete take her to Dr. Wellman. Jack informs the doctor that she must go to a hospital for her safety before he kills himself so that Merrill brood don't get him as death is a better alternative. The killers murder Wellman, but Pete enables Claire to escape; he drives her to the hospital. Evidence is created to show that Wellman was the perpetrator of the killing. At home Claire knows the lie and decides to return to Elkwood to confront the Merrill murdering marauders. Also going to Elkwood is Finch, the brother of Claire's late boyfriend. He has just returned from Iraq and, with his brother in arms, plans to destroy the Merrill clan for what they did to his sibling. However with a town living in fear, urban warfare may prove more dangerous than Bagdad.

Kin is a horror thriller of the human kind that shows the worst the species offers. Kealan Patrick Burke provides an action-packed tale yet it is the cast, especially the malevolent Merrill mob, who make the tale exciting. The creepy gothic like atmosphere will have no one, not even Lynard Skinner sing Sweet Home Alabama as the fear factor is so great, the locals know not to leave or else expect a visit regardless of where they move to. Readers will be on edge throughout as we root for Finch and company to enact vengeance of an Old Testament kind.

The Sinner Who Seduced Me
Stefanie Sloane
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345517418 $7.99

Five years ago, a scandal forced Lady Clarissa Collins and her mother Isabelle to flee London and her beloved James Marlowe who betrayed her for Paris. In France, the gifted painter studied the art of portrait painting and has become highly regarded though she never forgot her own traitor James.

London may have been scandalous, but1811 Paris proves unsafe. Clarissa is given the choice between abetting a criminal gang and receiving the body part of her mom. Young Corinthian member James never forgot the woman who hurt his soul. Now he has a second chance when he pretends to betray the Crown by going undercover to get inside a French gang. In London Clarissa is drafted when her mentor St. Michelle's arm is broken to paint a portrait of Iris Bennett, a Canadian debutante who wants a European adventure; James pretends to be Clarissa's assistant as he has found his muse to his heart and to the gang.

The latest Regency Rogues (see The Angel in My Arms and The Devil In Disguise) romantic suspense is an action-packed second chance at love thriller. A fast exciting read, fans will root for Clarissa and James to save the crown and their respective hearts in Stefanie Sloane's super story.

Seduce Me In Flames
Jacquelyn Frank
9780345517685 $7.99

On the planet Ulkre, Emperor Benit Tsu Allay executed his common law wife for treason and exiled his daughter Ambrea Vas Allay when she was four years old. She seen her sire twice over the years; both times he accused her of treason before banishing her again. Ambrea is told to come home, which she assumes means her execution as she is now at the age her father can legally kill her. Instead she learns he is dead and her younger half-brother Qua Tsu Allay who she meets for the first time sits on the throne. Her sibling is a puppet ruler as Ambrea's paternal uncle Balkin Tsu Allay pulls the strings.

Her uncle demands she cede her rightful place as the Empress or die in the dungeons. Tarian Rush "Ender" Blakely is assigned by the Interplanetary Militia to rescue the imprisoned princess. He arranges to be locked up so he can liberate the princess from inside. However Ender never expected to be attracted to the royal prisoner even as he conceals dark secrets from his peers and his desire for Ambrea. She feels the heat of attraction to the tattooed Tarian, but knows her people come first while her fuming uncle plans for her to join her late parents.

The latest Three Worlds military-political romantic science fiction tale (see Seduce Me in Dreams) is an action-packed thriller starring a brave woman who overcomes being the ridiculed daughter of an executed convicted traitor to try to help her people though they scorn her. Faster than the speed of light even before the Interplanetary Militia arrives, fans will enjoy Ambrea's adventures as she has more lives than a cat to her uncle's chagrin.

Sheri Whitefeather
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425241417 $15.00

Jane Brooks asks her two BFFs Suzanne Quinn and Emily Torres to accompany her to an exclusive club Aeonian that caters to the sex needs of the patrons who dress up as supernatural beings. Although history teacher Emily is shy and doubtful about going there, Suzanne says it will be fun as guest groupie voyeurs. They agree to come with Jane who is writing an article for L.A. Underground magazine about the club's erotic and exotic tastes.

Marcus, Jake and Damian became BFFs as teens and remained buddies. They frequent the Aeonian. When the three females and three males garbed as demons meet at the club, sparks fly between them as they pair off (Jake with Suzanne, Emily with Damien and Jane with Marcus). As the men escort their respective women into the world of BDSM, one of the males is not pretending to be a demon.

The key to this well written erotic romance is the six lead protagonists have diverse personalities though their libidos are somewhat similar. Sheri Whitefeather moves forward with the three couples nicely yet never slows down the story line as the heat is on once the matching begins.

Changing the Game
Jaci Burton
9780425242407 $15.00

Ruthless sports agent Elizabeth Darnell lost a major client Mick Riley (see The Perfect Play) that potentially could mean other players would leave her agency too. Determined to keep her stable intact, Elizabeth goes all out to insure no one else dumps her. This includes the man she secretly loved for several years Mick's younger brother, Gavin. Love means little to her as she and her parents love each other but they remain estranged from her and she refuses to do anything about it.

However, she breaks her rule of never getting personally involved with one of her clients. She and Gavin share a heated night that has both wanting more. However, each wonders if sex in the bedroom will impact their professional relationship especially when neither is fully satiated as Gavin begins to realize he loves his agent.

The latest Play by Play sports romance is a fun contemporary (see The Perfect Play) as the Riley brothers relate to the agent differently. The three prime players are developed but the Changing the Game personal relationship between Elizabeth and Gavin never feels as if it fully evolved outside the boudoir. Still readers will enjoy the heated romance between the agent and her client.

The Gilded Shroud
Elizabeth Bailey
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10014
9780425242896 $15.00

Lady Emily Fanshawe's personal maid Mary Huntshaw walks to her mistress' bedroom with a hot chocolate only to smell a horrific odor and the room in disarray. Mary starts screaming as she realizes someone strangled Lady Emily and her husband Randal is missing.

Randal's mother the Marchioness of Polbrook fears her son the marquis killed his wife. Her other son Francis struggles to control his nausea as he takes charge. The Marchioness' temporary companion Widow Ottilia Draycott offers to investigate the homicide. Though she has doubts the Marchioness agrees as she hopes to keep her oldest son out of gaol. Tillie quickly learns a theft of a valuable family heirloom occurred also. Asking questions of those at the estate, Tillie seeks the motives and opportunities of a house of strangers; while her attraction to Francis helps and hinders her inquiry.

The Gilded Shroud is a charming Regency romantic amateur sleuth starring a wonderful intelligent heroine. The story line engages the reader in the mystery while the romance between "Fan" and "Tillie" enhances the investigation. Sub-genre readers will want Tillie and Fan working future inquiries.

Blood Ties
Mari Mancusi
9780425241363 $9.99

All she wanted was a normal life but Sunny McDonald was born to be a slayer; was actually a vampire for six days; and has a vampire Magus leader of the Blood Coven as a boyfriend. On top of that she is also a fairy princess who is second in line to the throne. Magnus heads to Japan with the other vampire covens that make up the Consortium to fight the Alphas a fanatical splinter group that once belonged to Slayer, Inc. The group broke off from the alliance that polices vampires.

Sunny, a vampire slayer talks Magnus into going to Glastonbury, England with her sister, a vampire and a slayer and her boyfriend Jayden so he can ask the Druid if he can drink a drop of blood from the Holy Grail. They arrive too late as the Alphas stole the Grail. Magnus leaves the pair in a safe house while he goes to Japan, but when she hears that her friend ordered Jayden poisoned, they escape and flee to Japan where Sunny plans to take the fight to the Alphas in order to retrieve the Grail and confront Magnus. Meanwhile a supernatural civil war has ignited between vampires and slayers.

This exciting teen urban fantasy (see Boys That Bite and Stake That) continues the bloody darker spin somewhat lightened by campy humor that started when the twins were sent to Night School in Switzerland for their safety. The dilemma Sunny faces is similar in potential consequences as that she confronted in Night School, fast-paced with the focus is mostly on her; she fears whatever she does will lead to the death of someone she cherishes or her own demise.

Naughty in Nice
Rhys Bowen
9780425243497 $24.95

In 1933 in spite of being 34th in the queue to the throne, Lady Georgiana Rannoch is impoverished. She works in a London soup kitchen where she can save money an get some free meals.

The Queen temporarily saves her from more terrible tasting food by assigning her an all expense paid trip to the French Riviera. Her mission is to retrieve a snuff box stolen by nasty Sir Toby Groper. In France, while riding the rails, Rannoch meets the legend Coco Chanel, who shocks the pauper when she asks her to model a new line of clothing when they arrive in Nice. While doing her royal assignment and modeling for Coco Chanel, Georgina investigates whether her lover Darcy O'Mara is cheating on her. However, her efforts merge when she is caught in the middle of a homicide and the royal necklace is lifted.

The latest endearing jocular Royal Spyness amateur sleuth (see Royal Blood) is a delightful Depression Era French Riviera romp. The heroine is a charmer as she fumbles and bungles her investigation while strutting on the catwalk. Coco Chanel adds to the fun as number 34 using the Queen's money (she hopes) acts Naughty in Nice.

The Tale of Castle Cottage
Susan Wittig Albert
9780425243508 $24.95

In the summer of1913, Beatrix Potter is currently residing at Hill Top Farm in the Lake District while working on her latest story The Tale of Pigling Bland. She admits to her publisher that her eight drawings are not that good as Beatrix still recovers from her recent illness in which she lived with her parents at their domicile in Kensington. As she works on her latest novel, Beatrix also oversees the renovation of her new home that she and her fiance solicitor William Heelis will move into once Mr. Biddle finishes the Castle Cottage improvements and they are married (in spite of the doubts of her parents).

While the author struggles with her new work, the locals of nearby Near Sawrey begin to misplace items ranging in value from baked goods to money to family heirlooms. Her friend Sarah Barwick believes she is the victim of a thief, but fears it is someone she knows. However that pales in comparison to the death of carpenter Lewis Adcock who was just fired by Biddle. Beatrix and Will end up investigating the thefts, the death and Biddle's lack of commitment to the castle Cottage renovation.

The eighth Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter (see The Tale of Oat Cake Crag) is a great historical cozy that brings to life the Lake District just prior to WWI. The story line is a wonderful entertaining tale as once again Susan Wittig Albert combines Ms. Potter's real life, the fables of the animals who dominate her tales and an enjoyable amateur sleuth into a delightful story.

Redeeming the Rogue
Donna MacMeans
9780425242674 $7.99

In 1881 Lady Arianne Chambers has earned the nickname of Cupid's Mistress because of her uncanny ability as a matchmaker. Ironically she muses she has found perfect mates for several women except for herself; she has accepted spinsterhood. Government operative Michael Rafferty misunderstands the warm nickname as he assumes she is hot in bed until he meets her and realizes she just another useless English aristocrat.

Michael is unhappy when Arianne is assigned to train him and an actress Miss Eva St. Clair who is pretending to be his wife how to behave as British diplomats in America. He is to be the minster to America since Lord Weston was murdered. Eva is caught as a double agent working for the enemy Toomey so with no time to spare Arianne is drafted as Rafferty's spouse. However, their attraction is so great they do not have to pretend at being a couple.

The latest Cupid's Mistress Victorian romance (see THE EDUCATION OF MRS. BRIMLEY, THE TROUBLE WITH MOONLIGHT and THE SEDUCTION OF A DUKE) is a fabulous espionage investigative thriller that brings to life hectic 1881 on both sides of the Atlantic with a president assassinated and the Irish rebelling. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the lead couple meets in a gender battle and never slows as their escapades make for an exciting historical.

Heart Search
Robin D. Owens
9780425241387 $15.00

Avaricious Nivea Sunflower fooled teenager Huathe (Laev) T'Hawthorn into believing she was his HeartMate during his second passage. He failed to realize that thirteen years old Camellia Darjeeling was truly his mate. Her heart was broken that her mate never appeared but she is determined to stay strong.

Years pass until 421 After the Colonization, Widower Laev struggles with rectifying what his late wife did to others. At the same time Camellia runs two delightful popular establishments (Darjeeling's Teahouse and Darjeeling's HouseHeart) in spite of her felonious father Guri and her unctuous uncle Takvar trying to abuse and take advantage of her; even attempting to extort funds from Camellia by exposing who they are to her customers. Their respective FamCats bring the HeartMates together, but Camellia distrusts males and Laev searches for stolen family heirlooms that he suspects her family took.

The latest Celta Heart Mate romantic fantasy (see Heart Journey) is a terrific second chance at love between two wary next generation souls. The story line is character driven as Laev knows his "House" has not recovered from his monstrous mistake that has cost his family so much; while Camellia has learned from her father and uncle not to trust men. Fans of the series will enjoy the latest mating as doubting Thomas and Thomasine distrust the Heart Bond.

Tempest in the Tea Leaves
Kari Lee Townsend
9780425242759 $7.99

Psychic Sunny Meadows relocates from New York City to Divinity, New York where she opens up her shingle as a fortuneteller. She barely is open for business when her first frazzled customer begs her for help. Town librarian Amanda Robbins asks Sunny to read her future. The tea leaves frighten Sunny who calls the police that something bad will soon happen to Amanda.

The cops scoff at her talent until Amanda turns up dead. The police immediately suspect Sunny committed the homicide but struggle with a viable motive though they think the fortune teller is a bit wacky. To prove her innocence she teams up with by the book detective Mitch Stone.

With a nod to Victoria Laurie's Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye (the early books), Kari Lee Townsend provides paranormal amateur sleuth fans with a fun whodunit. The engaging story line is at its best when the psychic and the cop verbally but warmly argue. With a terrific twisting climax to a well written murder mystery psychic reviewer (some will borrow Letterman's electric skill and change the letters to psycho) predicts readers will enjoy Sunny Meadows' first case.

A Midnight Dance
Lila DiPasqua
9780425241981 $15.00

In 1650 watching from the back stage as her father's plays are being performed, Sabine Laurent begins falling in love with one of the aristocrats attending the theater; her Dark Prince, nineteen year old Jules de Moutier. Her twin Isabelle is attracted to Jules's younger brother Luc.

However, a failed coup d'etat leaves her father dead and her twin sister Isabelle missing and presumed dead. She and the surviving extended family members to include the troupe face debtor's prison. The king and subsequently Sabine blame Jules who fled France to become a privateer.

In 1658 Sabine plans to avenge what Jules did to her family by stealing silver from him to keep her loved ones out of prison and to search for her sibling in hopes Isabelle lives. However, her courtesan scheme goes astray when she meets her Dark Prince.

The third "Fiery Tale" (see Awakened by a Kiss and The Princess in His Bed) is an adult version of Cinderella in an adult historical romantic setting. Jules and Sabine are an intriguing pairing as she holds him culpable for what happened to her loved ones. The fate of Isabelle and a Machiavellian aristocrat enhance a strong well written seventeenth century tale.

Storm's Heart
Thea Harrison
9780425242667 $7.99

Two centuries ago Urien murdered the royal family. Only he failed to kill his niece Dark Fae Princess Niniane "Tricks" Lorelle. After witnessing the atrocities, she fled to the protection of Lord of the Wyrn Dragos. When Urien kidnaps Dragos' mate, he kills the usurper.

In Chicago where Tricks hides, an assassination attempt on her leads to ancient thunderbird Wyr warrior Tiago Black Eagle sent to protect the new Dark Fae Queen. Each is shocked with the attraction between them. However, she knows she must prove her independence if she is to take the throne that is rightfully hers; and he knows her safety comes before his desire so he must keep her safe while ferreting out the assassin.

The second Elder Races romantic fantasy (see Dragon Bound) is an entertaining tale filled with betrayal and blood feuds that give the story line (even with a stay in GPS Chicago) a sort of Scottish historical Highlander feel. The moderate pace allows the audience to fully dive into the Harrison realm where the supernatural seem natural. Sub-genre readers will enjoy Tricks' saga summed up by her with her adding the fourth definition of a Queen to the dictionary: "a royal pain in the ass".

Masters of Shadows
Angela Knight
9780425243671 $7.99

For centuries La Belle Coeur understands her role is to help new vampire magekind to convert to their new lives by seducing them. Knight of the Round Table Tristan distrusts all females ever since his wife Isolde betrayed him (and his peers) ages ago.

A newly transformed vampire Davon Fredericks kills seventeen year old Jimmy Sheridan a Direkind werewolf, which ignites tension between the paranormal species to a point where a war seems likely. Davon claims King Arthur assigned him the sacred duty of executing the teen. Belle and Tristan team up on an investigation; as each suspects the sworn enemy of Arthur the evil werewolf wizard Warlock caused the lethal incident to provoke bloody combat that also would expose the magekind to humanity. While fighting their attraction to one another, Belle and Tristan try to prevent a war like none ever before.

The latest Mageverse romantic fantasy (see Master of Smoke and Master of Fire) is a terrific entry as Angela Knight provides a strong tale of a world on the brink. Warlock is at his diabolical best heating the growing rage of the Dire wolves who have had twelve dead at last count while Ms. Knight's knights struggle to prevent the combat by seeking evidence to prove they are not the serial killers of werewolves. With a touching romance between a misanthrope and a whore, fans will relish Master of Shadows while also looking forward to what the warlock conjures next.

Deadly Sins
Kylie Brant
9780425242704 $7.99

The assassin kills high profile targets in the DC area with the latest execution being Supreme Court Justice Byron Reinbeck; the killer leaves behind a calling card, one of the Deadly Sins and provides links to former FBI Agent Adam Raiker. The late Judge's widow of twenty-five years Mary Jo asks Adam of Raiker Forensics to join the special task force, which he does.

Also on the special investigative unit is Adam's ex lover FBI agent Jaid Marlowe. Adam takes pride in keeping emotional baggage and bias out of the inquiries but with Jaid at his side his cold resolve is shattered by desire. She has a similar problem as her assignment is to watch Adam who is becoming the prime suspect.

This exhilarating Mindhunter romantic suspense (see Deadly Intent and Deadly Dreams) is a terrific thriller that contains too many subplots to keep track of but as they merge together into a strong entry fans will marvel at Kylie Brant's delightful juggling. Adam and Jaid are a wonderful second chance couple, but neither lose sight of taking down the brilliant mastermind behind the killings. Filled with twists, Deadly Sins is a superb cat and mouse police procedural.

Delaney's Shadow
Ingrid Weaver
9780425242681 $7.99

The car accident left her husband dead and Delaney Wainright suffering from amnesia. She returns home to heal and she hopes to recover her memories. She begins to feel her imaginary childhood friend Max has returned to help her regain her memory.

However the Max who saved her life as a child is not a kid. John Maxwell Harrison never forgot the little girl he rescued from drowning. He believed back then and has affirmed now they had a special mental link. An abused child who knew at seven he would one day kill viscous Virgil Budge, Max felt the world ended when Delaney left years ago. Now as an adult he becomes Delaney's "imaginary" friend and lover. When someone tries to kill his Delaney, Max, who believes he does not deserve her, knows he must reveal to his beloved he is not imaginary so that he can keep her safe.

Delaney's Shadows is a taut twisted thriller that grips readers from the beginning when Max turns seven and knows his life calling is to kill the SOB who abuses him and his mom. Readers will empathize with him as the child hides in safe dreams while the adult has re-found the connection that saved his mind as a child. Delaney is a good person struggling with what has happened. Readers will enjoy this strong romantic suspense due to the lead couple and deep secondary characters.

The Many Sins of Lord Cameron
Jennifer Ashley
9780425240496 $7.99

Renowned rake Lord Cameron Mackenzie loves his son Daniel and his horse Jasmine. His myriad of mistresses feels good about him as he treats them well. The only setback in his womanizing lifestyle was six years ago when he caught Ainsley Douglas in his boudoir and though the kiss was earth shattering she refused to cheat on her much older husband John with him.

He did not push a tryst between them, but now learns she is a widow; so all bets are off. He catches her in snoop mode as he did six years ago and this time he goes all out to seduce her. Ainsley has never forgotten the spark that threatened to engulf her the last time they met. However, she is a on a mission for Queen Victoria to obtain some potentially scandalous letters so she has no time for the sinful Lord Cameron even knowing she will regret it later. She pretends to accept Cam's seduction so she can accomplish her task, but love enters the equation.

The third Highland Pleasures Mackenzie brothers' Victorian romance (see Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie and Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage) is a wonderful somewhat zany tale as the rake catches the heroine in his bedroom for the second time. The lead couple is a delightful pairing as he has baggage while her love for him is not quite the remedy to end his turmoil, but her caring with her heart for his son and his horse clinches the sure bet of their love leading to much more between them. Fans will enjoy the romance between the sinner and his angel.

Wedding Magic
Patricia Coughlin
9780425241233 $15.00

Sophie Bennet and her two older bossy but caring married with children stepsisters (Jenna and Jill) own and operate a wedding business. She takes pleasure insuring the perfect ceremony for her clients. Bride Shelby Archer wants to hold her affair at the Princess House. Sophie resolutely sets out to grant the young bride her wish.

Owen Winters owns the Princess House. He is a grumpy writer who ignores her calls. When she arrives in person without an appointment to plead her case, he says no to her request without listening to her. However, he quickly changes his tune when Owen realizes his intruder sees the ghost (Ivy) he cannot see though she haunts his house. Sophie tries to help the melancholy spirit while Owen asks her to reside in Princess House to help rid his home of the weeping ghost. The recluse and the wedding planner never expected love to blossom between them but she realizes what it means while he remains inside his fortressed heart and home.

Wedding Magic is a charming throwback paranormal romance between a Mary Poppins lead female and an Oscar the Grouch male. The story line is a lighthearted frolic with a sort of Twelve days of Christmas ending. The engaging secondary characters including the ghost and a dollhouse enhance a tale of love when they arrive at the Princess House. Wedding Magic will cast its' spell over the reader.

Button Holed
Kylie Logan
9780425243763 $7.99

In Chicago, Josie Giancola owns the Button Box and has become recognized as one of the nation's leading experts on historical buttons. One night she enters her establishment only to find two masked men inside ransacking her inventory. She escapes the thugs and finds a button that does not belong in the collection.

Although upset by the invasion, she is also excited that famous movie star Kate Franciscus is coming to her shop to pick up buttons for her wedding gown as the actress is marrying a prince. She arranges to meet with Josie to show her what she might like. When Josie arrives, she finds Kate dead. An arrest for the homicide is quickly made, but Josie believes they locked up the wrong man. She decides to snoop accompanied by her ex husband. She believes the button is the link to the killer, but her suspect list has several entries. Even Detective Nevin Riley helps her on her inquiry.

This is the opening act of an engaging amateur sleuth mystery series and if this book is any indication, readers have a special and original new series to enjoy. The protagonist is independent and resolute though some like Riley would insist Josie is obstinate and obsessive as she has a need to investigate; part of her desire comes from the assault on her store. She enlists a quirky crew to assist her on her quest. Kylie Logan overcomes the sub-genre flaw of why the heroine must investigate with an entertaining plot and a strong cast led by a woman who refuses to be Button Holed.

Dianne Sylvan
9780441020652 $7.99

Three months ago, musician Miranda Grey became a vampire and married the vampire prime of the Southern regions, David Solomon (see Queen of Shadows). When someone tries to kill his new queen, David believes that the failed assassination attempt was the work of the Shadow sect.

The other vampire primes visit Miranda and David as a common courtesy. The gala turns ugly as the arrogant Northeast Prime James Hart who wants Kentucky back, warns Solomon to call off the Red Shadow that the latter insists he has no ties; makes war seems imminent. Also Miranda may be his eternal queen, but she fears her beloved David still has deep feelings for his former lover, Deven the prime of the West.

The second Shadow urban fantasy is a terrific thriller as noting is lucid even when it seems clear. Filled with action yet very insightful as Prime relationships are built from obtaining goals; making that of David and Miranda an exception as betrayal is the norm. Shadowflame is a dark exciting thriller in which fans will enjoy touring the Sylvan world of the Prime and other supernatural species that intermingle with humans.

Gears of War: Coalition's End
Karen Traviss
c/o Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781439183953 $26.99

It seems like ancient history when the war of the world began, but in fact it is just fifteen years since the Locust Horde came from within to assault the humans (see Aspho Fields). Their objective was total annihilation of all humans. Mankind fought back though billions died as the ruthless enemy made no distinction between soldier and civilian.

The Gears of the Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) destroy what is left of civilization though they defeated their insidious foe and another powerful adversary at one hellish cost (see Jacinto's Remnant and Anvil Gate). The survivors take refuge on Vectes, a difficult to reach isolated island. As the COG begins to argue, haven turns to hell when the mutilating Lambent begin a deadly assault which explains why the Locust left the underground to fight on the surface. Marcus Fenix and Dom Santiago know a last stand on Vectes is suicide as the polyps make the tickers and berserkers look benign; the only place left for the dwindling few humans are the equally suicidal Wastelands.

The fourth Gears of War tied to the games is a terrific entry as Karen Travis provides a fascinating spin to the military science fiction saga with the motive to the recent global war of destruction. The story line showcases the desperation humanity faces as the remaining two survival choices will remind readers of Joshua playing Tic-Tac-Toe in WarGames as each solution facing humans leads to total annihilation. Although there is somewhat a similar tone to Anvil Gate, fans of the Gears of War universe will enjoy action-packed Coalition's End as things have gotten dramatically worse enhanced by a major betrayal for the human race.

Grave Expectations
Sherri Browning Erwin and Charles Dickens
9781451617245 $15.00

With their parents dead, alpha sister Mrs. Joe being more than twenty years older than her brother has raised Philip "Pip" Pirrip the werewolf. She dominates her younger brother though not a shapeshifter (due to the X chromosome) and for that matter her kindhearted husband Joe Gargery a silversmith. Pip cannot wait to escape the she-tyrant. With that in mind he apprenticed for years as a silversmith under the tutelage of brother-in-law.

Now a journeyman, Pip leaves to London where he hopes to be a gentleman. However, he never forgot his childhood friend rowdy Estella. When they meet in London, he wants her, but though she reciprocates she has no time for a submissive werewolf as she is a kill first supernatural slayer mentored by Miss Haversham.

This is a fascinating paranormal parody of Great Expectations; Charles Dickens receives the same irreverence as other ninetieth century notables like Charlotte Bronte (see Jane Slayer by Sherri Browning Erwin), and Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, Emma and the Vampires by Wayne Josephson). The well written but overly complex story line is entertaining but also at times slows down as the reader struggles to understand what is going on especially inside of Pip's head. Still fans of supernatural re-novelization of the classics will enjoy the star-crossed romance between the werewolf and the slayer.

Targets of Opportunity
Jeffrey S. Stephens
9781451624328 $24.00

CIA Agent John Sandor is rushed from New York to Virginia to interrogate Ahmad Jaber, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard soldier demanding protection from his comrades in exchange for information on a pending terrorist attack. Jaber insists the axis of evil has formed a united triangle of Iran, North Korea and Venezuela. The Iranian offers no details as to the plan as he insists he was not privy to such information, but that the target is America's heartland.

The terrorists blow up a passenger jet in the French West Indies and destroy a French classified communications outpost. While the Intel groups (domestic and foreign) react to the Caribbean assault, Sandor believes these are not the main show but simply diversity assaults. He follows a different path including leading a secret mission into North Korea where he loses one of his team but capture a key government official. Using his interrogation techniques that even Cheney might consider over the line lead him away from Baytown, Texas where the rest of the Intelligence community expect the major attack to be Baton Rouge, but with a Category 3 hurricane arriving, he may be too late; then again it could be Texas.

The stupendous second Sandor thriller (see Porfino Deception) is a great action tale as the renegade CIA agent causes his superiors to name their respective hemorrhoids after him. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the protagonist interviews Jaber and never slows down as the hero tries to prevent a catastrophe with too many Targets of Opportunity for one if not more axis of evil partners. Readers will relish this taut suspense thriller as time is running out on the Americans.

Vanished in the Night
Eileen Carr
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781439183878 $7.99

Due to her hot tempered father George, Veronica Osborne wants nothing to do with cops having spent her life bailing out her dad. However, she cannot ignore Sacramento Police Sergeant Zach McKnight and his partner Frank Rodriguez when they knock on her door. Zach informs her that at a construction site a corpse identified as her half-brother Max Sheldon who vanished two decades ago was found. All these years, she prayed he would come home only to learn now he was murdered and had not deserted her.

The site foreman insisted the body was not there when they went home for the night, but was there when they returned the next morning. However the jersey the victim wore was a throwback to 1989 as the cops know the case is "arctic". The police suspect Veronica's dad killed his stepson in a fit of rage. Unable to sit idly by, Veronica investigates her sibling's homicide. What she learns stuns her while someone is killing those who may know the truth and someone else is pushing for full exposure. Zach vows to keep Veronica safe from both sides who tug at her as much as she tugs at his heart.

Vanished in the Night is an exciting investigative thriller. The story line is an extended troubled family affair as the cops tepidly investigate a frozen tundra case until a second homicide occurs and Zach, attracted to Veronica, fears her inquiry could harm her. The freshness comes from the two adversaries whose interests in Sheldon's murder are totally opposite of each other. Readers will want to know their motives and the link between deaths a decade apart as Eileen Carr provides an engaging whodunit.

Laura Griffin
9781451617368 $7.99

Delphi Center crime lab employee Sophie Barrett is at the university enrolling in classes when shots ring out. Somebody at the top of the library is shooting; Sophie takes cover next to a dying pregnant woman and her toddler. Four people die including the shooter and over a hundred injured. Homicide detective Jonah Macon came close to catching the killer but the culprit committed suicide.

Jonah knows Sophie having saved her life from a psychopath. When they finally ID the killer it is James Himmel. The car he drove was a green VW, but the vehicle that took Sophie's space when she went to the registrar was the car that belonged to Himmel. Due to the times involved she believes Himmel could not have been the culprit as he could not have crossed the campus to fire the shots. Sophie tries to tell Jonah and other cops, but nobody listens to her except someone who tries to kill her. The attempts on her life has Jonah reconsidering her assertion as they team up seeking a brilliant killer while he struggles to keep the independent woman he is attracted to safe.

The fourth Delphi Center Tracers tale (see Unforgivable, Unspeakable and Untraceable) is an exhilarating police procedural with a cute secondary romantic subplot that enhances the whodunit as she becomes willing bait while he wants her safe but she blatantly and brazenly ignores his rules. The mystery is cleverly devised so that the cops, her peers at work and the media believe the mass murderer killed himself; only Sophie has a contrary opinion. Fast-paced, fans of Jayne Ann Krentz will enjoy Laura Griffin's entertaining romantic suspense.

Warehouse 13: A Touch of Fever
Greg Cox
9780743491730 $7.99

Secret Service agents Pete Lattimer and Myka Bering finish their assignment of the Charleston, South Carolina cheesy Museum of Piracy worker possessed by the pirate Anne Bonny's cutlass. They return to their Badlands home station Warehouse 13 where their boss Artie Nielsen tells them there is no rest for the weary as he has learned of a woman using a glove to heal the sick at a carnival.

While teenager Claudia Donovan and aura-reading B&B owner Leena inventories the Warehouse's collection of paranormal artifacts as has been done since Alexander the Great did with the library, Pete and Myka travel to the carnival to learn how the healer is doing what she does. At the same time, unbeknownst to the Warehouse field agents, someone else is making people sick using the matching glove as a sort of yang to the healer's yin.

Greg Cox who has written Star Trek and DC's Final Crisis thrillers provides an exhilarating novelization of the TV series as he captures the essences of the cast especially history's thirteenth warehouse. The story line contains two fun subplots as the field operatives search for Clara Barton's gloves while those archivists at the home station struggle with a misplaced apple that causes a comedy of errors. Lighthearted with a touch of history including Bonny, Barton, Chapman and Freud's cigar; readers will enjoy the adventures of the agents of Warehouse 13.

Shadow Fall
Seressia Glass
9781439158784 $7.99

Kira Solomon the Shadowchaser, who serves the Egyptian goddess Ma'at, is an expert at eliminating the Fallen. However, she has become concerned with the changes to her power as she is not sure what that means especially will the tug of the Shadow on her soul as she has become the Egyptian Goddess of Truth and Order.

Complicating matters for Kira are the disappearance of friends including Shadowchasers and illness of others. Her peers and even her mom Balm of Gilead fear she is the cause as they begin to believe the Shadow has engulfed her. As she sets out to prove she still remains in the light, Chaos enters her dreams and her feelings for four millennia old Khefar the Nubian warrior grows at a time she needs to focus.

The third Shadow Chasers urban fantasy is a strong entry that series fans will fully relish as more of the Egyptian mythos comes to the light. Loaded with action throughout, Shadow Fall is an intriguing story line as Balm adjusts her dreams for her daughter to the reality of who Kira is. Although newcomers will be lost within the Egyptian mythology as it behooves tyros to read first Shadow Chase and Shadow Blade, Seressia Glass writes a fresh tale.

Bound by Moonlight
Nancy Gideon
9781439199480 $7.99

Max "Monster" Savoie used his shapeshifting abilities to save the life of New Orleans Police Detective Charlotte "Cee Cee" Caissie (see Masked by Moonlight). His actions led to the cop and the mobster forging a psychic connection. The pair agrees to pursue a relationship though their occupations place them in opposite camps; he quits the mob life, which is all he knows, to prove he wants to go straight.

NOPD struggles to end the reign of terror of a vicious serial killer who targets children. Cee Cee and her partner Alain Babineau go undercover, which Max loathes as he fears for the safety of his beloved and her previous non-professional relationship with the cop. However, when Cee Cee turns to Max to help them with his special crime scene skills, he reluctantly agrees but he fears the growing number of people who know about his paranormal skill since he met Cee Cee.

This Moonlight romantic police procedural urban fantasy (see Chased by Moonlight) is a must read. It is dark entry as a serial killer makes New Orleans unsafe. The overarching story line, kind of mindful of J.D. Robb's "In Death" series, continues the star-crossed complicated relationship between the human police detective and the shapeshifting gangster as love may not be enough.

Kindling the Moon
Jenn Bennett
9781451620528 $7.99

In Morella, California, Arcadia Bell co-owns Tambuku Tiki Lounge where some of her ebst customers are demons. Cady is not her birth name as seven years ago, her parents, Enola and Alexander Duval were accused of killing three rival mage occultists of the Luxe Order. Although they insisted they were innocent, they could not prove it. Thus the Duval family went into hiding with the cooperation of their order.

However, Cady is shook when a tape on the news shows her parents have been sighted having returned to the States. The Luxe Order supported by other occults want the three Duval's dead, but Caliph Superior of her occult gives her an alternate choice of proving her parents' innocence before she and they become sacrificial road kill. Cady needs to find the Aethyric Albino Demon who actually murdered the trio in order to learn who made the paranormal commit the atrocity. She teams up with earthbound demon Lon Butler whose halo differs from the norm for his race. Neither expected to find a ruthless bounty hunter and the Luxe Order stalk them while the clues lead hell.

The Bennett universe opens with a terrific refreshing urban fantasy thriller starring a delightful mage in peril and the demon who accompanies her on her impossible quest to identify the real killer before the other occults execute her and her family. The keys to this fabulous first fantasy are the various creatures that populate Jenn Bennett's vision of California seem real and the energy of Cady who is the energizer bunny but under hostile conditions. With an unexpected incredible twist, Kindling of the Moon is a fabulous thriller.

With No Remorse
Cindy Gerard
9781451606812 $7.99

Black Ops, Inc. (BOI) agent Luke "Doc Holliday" Colter takes a respite from the last operation to heal from some near fatal life support wounds he received in San Salvador (see Risk No Secrets). In the Peruvian Andes, he rides a train while musing that the biggest injury he suffered was his backbone has melted away as he now has doubts. However, in the dark banditos assault the train. He initially assumed it was a robbery, but changes his mind when he realizes they target a young male passenger.

The lad is actually supermodel Valentina who is in disguise following the scandal involving her former husband US Senator Marcus Chamberlin. Doc gets Valentina off the train after killing two of the cold hearted mercenaries. They flee while their persistent pursuers chase them. He realizes he cannot keep her safe from whatever she is not telling him. He needs his BOI mates ASAP. The truth is deadlier than he imagined as she is an unaware she is an expendable pawn in an international terrorist plot.

The sixth BOI romantic suspense (see Feel the Heat is an exciting thriller from the opening assault on the transport train and never slows down as Doc understands the mission first and his teenage-like lust last. Valentina is a fascinating woman in trouble but her courage under fire proves to Doc there is much more to her than just glamour and sex appeal. This is a fun tale as Cindy Gerard provides another edgy dark tour of a foreign nation.

Don't Mess with Texas
Christie Craig
Forever Romance
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780446582841 $5.99

Her manta being "It's the right thing" to persuade her not to bolt, Nikki Hunt meets her former husband Brian and Sterns lawyer Jack Leon for dinner at expensive Venny's Restaurant after he pleaded with her that he made some mistakes. The gallery owner knows she is short paying bills like her Nana's cable and her BFF assistant Ellen's salary. This is why she is unhappy when Jack leaves her with the exorbitant tab. Mumbling she will kill him, Nikki goes to her car to find Jack dead in her trunk.

The police suspect Nikki killed her spouse. Former cop Dallas O'Conner empathizes with the beleaguered Nikki as he worked at Glencoe PD before being accused unjustly of a crime; now he works as a private investigator. He bet against her innocence until he saw her dinner is now the puke on the victim's suit. . Since he was once falsely convicted of a crime, he tends to be very sympathetic to those who find themselves in the same position. While his homicide detective brother Tony works to solve the murder while dealing with his broken marriage to LeAnn, Dallas also looks into the killing and that of a related injured victim while dealing with his attraction to the prime suspect.

This is a fun Texas investigative romance that in some ways feels like a throwback to the madcap comedies of the 1930s. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the heroine vomits and never slows down as her knight in shining armor tries to prove her innocence while falling in love with "Leon's leftover". Fans will appreciate this terrific Texas two-step.

Deep Disclosure
Dee Davis
9780446582926 $7.99

Thirteen years ago in Walsenberg, Colorado, the fire at their home left Alexis Markham's parents dead. Her father's friend George placed her in hiding to keep her safe as he knew her dad's work on a top secret biochemical weapon formula led to his murder and she would be next by whoever betrayed Markham.

George is dead from an explosion in which former San Mateo undercover prisoner Tucker Flynn saw first hand while on the phone with his brother. The CIA A-TAC operative obtains the position of Alexis' bodyguard to keep her safe and learn what the secret is she conceals. He knows she conceals something that he needs to know. As they fall in love, he realizes he willingly would die for Alexis and she feels likewise for Tucker but she refuses to reveal what she hides.

The latest A-Tac romantic suspense (see Desperate Deeds, Dangerous Desires and Dark Deceptions) is a deadly delightful CIA thriller in which the heroine's secret as well as who wants her dead make for a compelling tale. The story line is action-packed from the first fire until the fiery finish as the engaging romance supports the intrigue.

Sweet Kiss of Summer
Sophie Gunn
9780446562003 $7.99

Artist Nina Stokes has waited for two years to fulfill the first of two requests from her late brother Walter's deathbed letter. She looks forward to handing over the key to her sibling's house in Galton, New York to a new owner, Walter's soldier buddy as her sibling asked; the second plea is about naming his nephew "Little Walt" will have to wait as she has no boyfriend.

However when Mick Rivers arrives to take occupancy, Nina finds she cannot just leave as the house contains memories. Besides she needs to know what happened to Walter and believes Mick can answer her. Mick cannot make himself toss Nina from the home though he must sell the house as he needs the money. Mick struggles with his memory loss, but fears knowing the truth. His trepidation about recalling his past includes what happened as he begins to fall in love with his housemate yet he may have caused the death of her brother.

The second Galton contemporary romance (see How Sweet It is) is a charming tale that also pays tribute to the veterans while scolding leaders for ignoring the returning former solders' struggles with traumas and a bad economy. The lead couple is a nice pairing of the optimistic artist and the pessimistic veteran, but both are reluctant to take a chance on love. Readers will enjoy this tale as the homage (no phony political platitudes) to the soldier by artists brings freshness to a got your back romance.

The Lost
Caridad Pineiro
9780446584616 $7.99

IEDs and other explosives devastated Bobbie Carrerra's platoon in Iraq leaving all dead except her and their comatose lead. Anyone who think females are not in fighting roles need to look at the scarred veteran undergoing physical therapy. Emotionally she suffers from survivor guilt and self pity.

Affluent Adam Bruno is a bit of a recluse because of his paranormal skills like creating energy using magic and shapeshifting. When Adam and Bobbie meet, they are attracted to one another, which shake both loners up. As the pair begins to explore a relationship that could destroy either of them if it turns out of control or burns out; unknown enemies hunt him. He knows one thing he has his female warrior watching his back (and as she says other body parts too).

The opening Sin Hunters romantic urban fantasy is a great first act because the talented paranormal author Caridad Pineiro establishes her new otherworld inside an action packed (including the lead couple's heat) story line. The key support cast is fully developed especially the stalkers while the novel belongs to the vet and the millionaire as they struggle against unknown adversaries, their respective hearts and his increasingly out of control power as she is his intoxicating source that could kill both of them

Temptation of a Highland Scoundrel
Sue-Ellen Welfonder
9780446561778 $7.99

In 1396 King Robert Stewart of Scotland orders the lairds of clans MacDonald, Cameron and Mackintosh to end their bloody feud in the Glen of Many Legends with final combat. The clan of the last male survivor will own the Glen; those from the losing two clans will leave. The sisters of the three lairds form a secret pact between them in which each will marry the lord of one of the other two clans in order to bring a lasting peace.

In 1397 Lady Isobel Cameron selects Kendrew Macintosh as she loves him and prays he reciprocates though he shows no indication. He and his clan prefer the harshness of the tradition of a berserker, but are unprepared to weather the storm of Lady Isobel. She decides to seduce her chosen one who begins to fall in love with his guest unaware she is sister to laird James Cameron (see Sins of a Highland Devil for his tale of love with Lady Catriona sister to Laird Alasdair MacDonald). However, enemies of the three clans have other ideas for this pair.

The second Glen of Many Legends Highlander medieval romance stars a strong lead couple and a powerful support cast, especially the other prime duets. The story line contains the same general concept as the first tale in which the star-crossed protagonists struggle with conflicting love for their respective clan and each other. However, Sue-Ellen Welfonder shows her skills by making the path that Isabel and Kendrew take differ from that of Catriona and James. Historical romance fans will appreciate this entertaining late fourteenth century tale while looking forward to how the third sister wins her Laird.

The Bad Always Die Twice
Cheryl Crane
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9780758258861 $25.00

1950s TV star Rex March is found dead in the bed of realtor Jessica Martin. Known for her sexual proclivity with living hunks, Jessica is stunned to have a corpse of her former lover in her bed. Rex was reported dead six months ago. The police name her the prime suspect.

Jessica's partner Nikki Harper, daughter of movie legend Victoria Bordeaux, investigates the case as she knows her friend would not kill anyone. Nikki is extremely nice to those she interviews as she drops her mom the siren's name on start struck Hollywood and charms information out of those she feels might have a motive to see Rex dead twice in under a year.

This is a fun entertaining amateur sleuth as Nikki tosses her DNA as the opener to meet suspects and then deploys her considerable charm (more DNA) to obtain info. The mother-daughter relationship brings jocularity and warmth to the well written story line. However, this is Nikki' tale as she makes the murder mystery fun to read with her gutsy ballsy feminist inquiries.

Michael Griffo
9780758253392 $9.95

In the English town of Eden, Archangel Academy resides on consecrated land. The vampires known as Them are able to walk around the campus in sunlight. However there is another subspecies of vampire connected to the sacred Well, who in their other form has webbed feet and hands as descendants of Atlantis.

The water vampires can walk outside in daylight and only eat once a month. The new Headmaster David Zachery is one of Them and vampire American Michael Howard and his lover Ronan are water vampires. Ronan knows who and what David is because of his relationship to their family. David and his kind want to destroy the Well and kill the water vamps. The headmaster has a plan to ethnically cleanse the world of the enemy. He uses his children as foot soldiers to carry out his scheme. Michael and Ronan lead the opposition along with their allies so who will prove victorious remains to be seen.

The second Archangel Academy (see Unnatural) teen urban fantasy is a terrific tale with a beautiful star-crossed romantic subplot that accentuates the two combative subspecies. The expatriate Cornhusker has come a long way from Nebraska in a short time but his journey even with Ronan to guide him remains difficult as he must be Unafraid of his full essence for his deep psychological need to feel accepted and belong to happen. The key to the exciting story line is that readers will accept the existence of vampires as a natural species with issues and disputes as Michael Griffo provides an enthralling and totally entertaining entry that teenage readers and adults will appreciate and put on their keeper shelf.

Frozen Stiff
Annelise Ryan
9780758234568 $22.00

Amidst the snowy cornfield near Sorenson, Wisconsin, the corpse of a young woman is found. Town life deputy coroner Mattie Winston arrives at the crime scene and realizes the stabbing victim is a total stranger; fellow lifer uniformed cop Junior Feller does not recognize her either. Her boyfriend, SPD homicide detective Steve Hurley takes a look at the face and turns paler than the background and pronounces Bob Richmond will investigate.

Steve dated Chicago investigative reporter Callie Dunkirk over a year and a half ago; she ended their relationship. Complicating matters for Steve is the weapon sticking out of the deceased's chest belongs to him. A second homicide has the police detaining Steve as the only suspect in both murders. Still married though separated (see Scared Stiff to learn what happened to the other woman) Mattie moves passed her Big Girl jealousy of a dead woman to investigate as she is certain her BF is not a killer even if the evidence overwhelmingly hangs him.

This is an amusing Thanksgiving whodunit as the klutzy Big Girl in her used hearse investigates the murders though she slips and ricochets more than she succeeds. The eccentric cast brings wintry Wisconsin to life while the heroine's humorous self deprecating asides are fun but can slow down the pace as there are too many of them (sort of like Debbie Reynolds in Mary, Mary). Fans will enjoy the second "Stiff" investigative tale as the heroine tries to save the day in spite of herself.

The Full Moon Bride
Shobhan Bantwal
9780758258847 $15.00

Environmental lawyer Soorya Giri feels she is the last thirtyish virgin in New Jersey. She desperately wants to marry and raise a family instead of living with her parents as she currently does. In fact Soorya fearing her biological clock is ending before it begins starts to consider the abomination of an arranged marriage; something that the second generation loathe as too much old country tradition when they have on line and other contemporary means to meet males.

Her first few "bride viewing" events are as bad as she expected. Then Soorya meets Rajesh "Roger" Vadepalli. He is handsome and intelligent, but though she wants him Soorya distrusts his charming confidence as she does not believe he wants to get married. Thus she turns to widowed peer Lou. Suddenly from zero to two men interested in her, Soorya reacts negatively unable to cope with an abundance of males in her life.

The Full Moon bride takes a close look at the Indian-American culture, which mingles tradition from the old country with modern technology and the culture of the new country. Soorya is fabulous as her frustrations hold the plot focused. She gets angry and insolent hiding her fear of failure behind the facade of caustic wit (mindful of the Debbie Reynolds' character Mary McKellaway in Mary, Mary). Readers will relish Soorya seeks her groove as Shobhan Bantwal noted for her powerful social issues takes a lighter but insightful look at the second generation Indian-American "princess'.

The Brahms Deception
Louise Marley
9780758265678 $15.00

The competition to go back in time to 1861 Tuscany to observe Johannes Brahms is fierce. Thus Frederica Bannister, who badly wanted to go so much s she had her father arrange her selection, is euphoric when she is picked over her rival Kristian North. The musicologist is excited over seeing the legend perform and to solve the mystery of his relationship with older concert pianist Clara Schumann.

However, once in 1861 Frederica ignores the rules for time traveling. She is besotted with her hero and envious of his secret lover. Unable to move on, Frederica makes a decision that has potential repercussions in her future time as well as in Brahms' era. Raging over not being selected, Kristian is sent to find out what happened to Frederica as the eight hours allotted of study time in the past passed.

The second time travel musical history thriller (see Mozart's Blood) is an entertaining look at the relationship between Brahms and his "muse" Schumann. The story line provides the reader a glimpse at the legend inside of an exciting story line. Although understanding Frederica is difficult as she is obsessive compulsive; harping at being ugly and infatuating over Brahms who is dead over a century before she was born. Still even with the researchers having no contingency plan if something goes wrong in the visited past except to send the runner-up student, fans will enjoy the trip back to the classical musical romantic period.

Wolf Tales 12
Kate Douglas
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758242686 $14.00

The Chanku shapeshifters have lived thousands of years amongst the humans, but for the most part have gone unnoticed. They have packs in several states but the prime locale has been Montana for years. Their patriarch Anton feels restless as things have been too quiet lately.

Lily notices the cave dwelling pictures near the Montana estate. When she vanishes even Eve the Goddess cannot locate her. As her parents Anton and Keisha worry, in DC Nick Bardon saves people from a terrorist attack but exposes his shapeshifting skills for the world to see. As the packs in Maine, Colorado and San Francisco converge on Montana, the Chanku learn of others out there needing rescue and more information about their origins.

This is a superb finish to one of the great urban fantasy series on the market over the past six years. Action-packed with sex playing a key role in the exciting story line, fans will relish this terrific climax as the key overarching themes are resolved with the Chanku coming together in Big Sky Country seeking their heritage.

The Glitter Scene
Monika Fagerholm
Other Press
2 Park Avenue, 24th Floor
New York, NY 10016
9781590513057 $17.95

In 2004 in the District section on the First Cape lives teenager Johanna and her Aunt Solveig who earns a living as a realtor. Joanna misses her cousin Robin who she used to play with until the latter's mom took her with her when they moved. She spends time with classmate Ulla Backstrom, who tells her the tragic tale of The American Girl in the 1970s.

Fascinated in a macabre way Johanna investigates the decades old deaths with an emphasis on their connection to her family especially her parents. She wants to know who her mother is and why secrets were interred with her late father. Almost two decades after the tragedy that haunts the villagers, fifteen years ago before Johanna begins to tie the sad tale together in ways that stun her, Susette Packlen and Maj Gun Maalamaa become friends of sorts by their connection to the American Girl.

This convoluted complicated Finnish murder mystery grips fans of cerebral thrillers as the story line is not linear, but in fact a series of circles sort of like a Venn diagram that has the audience entering rings from different external points while like the prime protagonist try to connect to dots. The cast is moody which adds to the gloom and doom of the District as readers will not guess where Monika Fagerholm takes us in the aptly tidied The Glitter Scene.

The Oriental Wife
Evelyn Toynton
Other Press
9781590514412 $15.95

In the 1930s her Jewish parents send teenager Louisa to a school in Lausanne, Switzerland. There she meets and falls in love with a classmate's brother Julian. Meanwhile her father sees the deadly winds of war coming so he sends to Louisa her grandmother's jewelry.

Louisa's cousin Otto and her childhood friend from Nuremberg Rolf flee Germany for New York where they obtain jobs. Meanwhile Louisa reaches England where she learns foreigners even experienced professionals can only hold domestic servant positions. Louisa gets a governess job. She eventually reaches New York with the help of her lover Phillip who becomes an angry drunk. She and Rolf marry while their parents are tortured in Germany and many Jews ate sent to Dachau. Rolf gets his mother and Louisa's parents to America but they lost everything to the Nazis. When the war breaks out, the German Jews find Americans loathe them as much as the Nazis did.

The Oriental Wife is a terrific timely historical thriller that grips the audience with the bleakness of Europe and America during the Nazi era. Hope is gone for the Jews left behind in Germany while those fortunate to cross the Atlantic find America hostile to the immigrants. Character driven, dreams of assimilation by the first generation of German Jewish refugees in the 1930s fail to occur as nightmarish suspicions and culpability are the prime welcome. The impact on the second generation is powerful as "Never Forget" denotes the past and the potential future.

The Neighbors Are Watching
Deborah Ginsburg
Broadway Books
1745 Broadway, New York, NY, 10036
9780307463876 $14.00

In the summer of 2007 seventeen year old pregnant Diana Jones arrives at her father Joe Montana's home in the upper crust Fuller Court of San Diego. Joe's wife Allison is shocked by the biracial Diana's arrival because her husband never mentioned a teenage daughter. Feeling betrayed and irate as she had an abortion as Joe wanted no children, Allison cannot cope without alcohol as even her hair is no longer brushed.

Neighbors Dick and Dorothy Werner gloat over the scandal next door. However, a few months later they are taken aback as their son Kevin is attracted to Diana and likes her newborn Zoe. In October wildfires threaten the area while Diana vanishes. Foul play is suspected as the teen's extended family and the neighbors are suspects.

The Neighbors Are Watching is an entertaining thriller that looks deeply at the impact of Diana's disappearance on her family and the neighbors though their eyes. The cast is solid except ironically the missing person who may be the focus of the tale, but is more a shadow as there is not much action re what happened to Diana. Still this is en enjoyable tale that centers on degrees of connection between people.

The V.I.P.s
Scott Poulson-Bryant
9780767929745 $15.00

In a hot New York, superstar rapper TNT arranges a meeting with Barry Chambers, Leo Bradford, Duke Maynard and Joey Ramirez; he does not tell any of them that he invited the others. Each has been successful since their childhood days when they called themselves the VIPs and had dreams of making it in the Big Apple. Thirty orgasms before turning forty Barry is the CEO of a giant cosmetics company; his ex is a paranoid NBA star, Leo is a magazine mogul and reporter; Duke is a former NFL star who has made it big since leaving professional football on the Internet; and Joey "Ram" Ramirez is "the Latino Calvin Klein" designer.

At the suite he took at the Hotel Gansevoort, TNT asks the quartet who amongst the four of them is his SOB father? Each is shocked by the question and begins to look back at their past transgressions.

The V.I.P.s is an engaging character study of four childhood friends whose mortality as they face forty is lucidly in their face by the rapper challenging them. The key cast is fully developed and each seems genuine with the exception of the vile villain. Although some of the relationships and decision making starting in 1983 between the parents generation of the V.I.P.s seem unlikely, this is a well written insightful tale as readers, the quartet and the rapper ask who his daddy is.

Shadow Kin
M.J. Scott
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451464040 $7.99

Blood Lord Lucius orders the "soulless" wraith he raised as an assassin to kill human sunmage Simon DuCaine. Lily goes after Simon, but he defeats her. Instead of killing Lily, Simon lets her live though he is not being altruistic.

He and his Templar knight brother believe Lily is the proof that Lucius broke the City's treaty signed by the Blood Lords, Beast Kind, the Fae and the Humans. He pleads with his captive to testify against the master who raised her. He is attracted to the "Nightseeking whore" who glides like a shadow between worlds. She believes joining him in the light is impossible though she is falling in love with the mage who showed her mercy though she knows he condemned her as being like his sister Edwina.

The Shadow Kin political fantasy is a fabulous tale as the world of Scott comes vividly alive through the competing machinations between the prime groups. Blood Lords and the Beast Kind rule the Night World; while Fae and human mages guard the rest of the Half Light City. Fast-paced from the onset, fans will relish this strong thriller though the romance never quite gels with the pasts of the two protagonists except when they curse at each other.

Tears of the Sun
S.M. Stirling
9780451464156 $26.95

A quarter of a century has passed since the 1998 Change killed over 90% of the human population in one year. Modern civilization around the globe was sent back to pre industrial revolution as things stopped working. Small pockets of survivors banded together to cope with the ordeal.

With his beloved Mathilda Arminger at his side, Rudi Mackenzie has completed the first part of his quest by finding the Sword of the Lady forged for him before he was born. He becomes the High King of Montival King Artos as he unites western North America. For the betterment and protection of his followers although he expects to die, King Artos leads the fight against the Big Sky based Church Universal and Triumphant.

Although the main thrust is Rudi, subplots involving the Dundain Rangers, d'Ath the Grand Constable of the Portland Protectorate Association and Wiccan in several locales star in critical subplots. Thus the action is less intense than previous Emberverse entries (see The Sword of the Lady), but enhances the impact of the Change by 2023 while also setting up fresh hot zones for the future thrillers. In spite of being a transitional novel, Tears of the Sun engages fans of the saga who will anxiously await the next Change.

Ghost Story
Jim Butcher
9780451463791 $27.95

Chicago wizard Harry Dresden has found his life a bit upsetting lately. His house is in ruins but he defeated the Red Court while rescuing his daughter albeit killing her mother. Besides all that he is dead. Upsetting Harry the most is the fact that he has no earthly or other plane idea who killed him.

In limbo, the late Police captain Collin J. Murphy informs Dresden that he will be allowed to return to the Windy City to investigate a homicide filled with irregularities; his own. Euphoric Dresden is unprepared to return to the mortal world as a sort of ghost with no magic. He finds his Chicago has turned meaner and darker during his absence with the Red Court no longer containing the supernatural malevolent who have surfaced. He must contact his friends like Murphy's son that he is back before he investigates who shot and killed Harry Dresden.

After the Changes of the last Dresden Files, readers will be stunned with the new changes as Chicago's wizard turns ghost detective. The entertaining whodunit story line is more introspective than usual as Dresden examines his dumber decisions in his life with disdain and loathing for what he did, but also contains several unexpected super twists as his inquiry into his own murder lead to the good, the bad and the extreme ugly of the paranormal.

Kat Richardson
9780451463982 $24.95

Harper Blaine has died several times. Each time she enters the Big Sleep state lasts for a few minutes until she returns to the living changed to continue her life's work as a shmo who protects the Grey fringe between the mortal and purebred paranormal realms. However shmo work of a Greywalker pays nothing monetarily as vamps are cheap and ghosts lost their funding to their heirs; subsequently feel good paranormal social work with the other side is not very financially rewarding; don't ask about her love life. Harper makes a living as a Seattle private investigator mostly doing background checks.

Lawyer Nanette Grover hires Harper to do some pretrial investigation of a potential witness Daria Shea a handyman worker in the Lake Crescent area of the Peninsular. Completing her interview with the creepy Shea, Harper leaves only to see a burning car. She runs to free the driver, but her hand goes through the vehicle. The ghost showed her his fiery death and says it was no accident; his name is Steven. After taking care of Grover's requirement that pays the bills, Harper makes inquiries into a Steven dying in a SUV fire and comes up with Steven Leung. As the Greywalker digs into the Leung death, she begins to fear something evil resides in Blood Lake Crescent protected by affluent magic practitioners.

The latest Greywalker urban fantasy is a fabulous paranormal private investigative thriller as the heroine makes inquiries into a potential homicide made to look like an accident (at least that is what the ghost claims) and background into a strange unsettling worker. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action as the heroine confronts ghosts, zombies, demons and a creature much darker and more powerful.

Working Stiff
Rachel Caine
9780451464132 $7.99

Bryn Davis learned two things about being in the army in Iraq for four years; first the military was not a career for her and second she handled corpses without her stomach betraying her. After leaving the service, she became a Funeral Director at the Fairview Mortuary. Her new "commander" Lincoln Fairview IV is a bit creepy but embalming a cadaver is imprinted in his DNA.

When she finds the corpse of a woman whose late father was the client, Bryn feels a bit unnerved. However, it is when she finds her boss and his prime henchman Freddy selling a unique pharmaceutical, she becomes more than unnerved; Freddy kills her. Investigator Patrick McCallister revives her with a special top secret drug. He hopes Bryn has insight into the source of the leak of the drug that keeps the dead alive for twenty-four hours at a time. To obtain future doses of Returne; Bryn acquiesces to work for McCallister.

The opening of Rachel Caine's newest urban fantasy series is a terrific chemical Zombie thriller as the heroine learns what it means to truly be a Working Stiff with ultimate undying loyalty to one's firm. Establishing rather quickly the realm of the Revivalist, fans will relish Bryn's adventures in death and life as she and McCallister investigate the selling and misuse of a pirated drug returns the dead benefactor into a slave zombie.

Down the Mysterly River
Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham (illustrator)
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765327925 $15.99

Boy Scout Max "the Wolf" excels at being prepared for anything. So he is confused with finding himself waking on a road in a forest when he cannot recall how he arrived at his present location or where the path leads to. His journey goes from odd to bizarre when he encounters Banderbrock the badger who can communicate with him and is as bewildered as Max is for the same reasons. They are joined by the equally perplexed McTavish the cat and Walden the bear.

As the foursome leisurely walk, talk, and argue the Blue Cutters stalk the quartet. These hunters change the essence of beings to make them conform to their notion of literally a narrow society. Only the wizard can keep them from being altered, but Max fears this mage who is the keeper of the sacred script in which he may swiftly delete the Boy Scout from solving mysteries.

Down the Mysterly River is an entertaining metafiction fantasy that targets middle school students, but adult fans of Jasper Fforde's Thursday's Next saga will enjoy it too. The illustrations by Mark Buckingham enhance the entertaining story line as Bill Willingham provides an engaging complex thriller.

With Fate Conspire
Marie Brennan
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765325372 $27.99

For over three centuries, the Onyx Court of the Fae has existed beneath London. Most humans living above ground are unaware of those residing underneath the city. However, several decades ago, the Industrial Revolution began a new iron age as pipes, bridges and rails run over and under the city; iron is lethal to the Fae whose species has become endangered with short term extinction a likely outcome as their magical realm rapidly diminishes. Only the resolute Queen Lune keeps at bay imminent extinction, but she is dying.

Meanwhile Eliza O'Malley continues her seven years old fruitless search for her vanished best friend Owen who she insists was kidnapped by the fairy; people believe she is insane. Like Lune, Eliza refuses to quit as she seeks the dog man, Goblin Market head gangster Nadrett's slave Dead Rick who betrayed her Owen. Ironically Dead Rick is perhaps the only one who empathizes with Eliza as he wants the return of his stolen memory that Nadrett, as he has done with humans and fae, took from him.

The fourth Onyx Court Victorian fantasy (see Midnight Never Come, in Ashes Lie and A Star Shall Fall) is a terrific tale anchored by one of the best sub-genre backgrounds in recent memory though that also slows down the start of the thriller. Described with dark Dickensian depth in the human and Fae realms, fans will envision the grim squalor of Goblin Court and mortal London as well as the hopelessness of the Onyx Court as urban development fostered by iron encroaches. The key cast is solid as readers anticipate a confrontation between the three determined antagonists as the new Iron Age is destroying Onyx Court and the Fae.

The Unincorporated Woman
Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin
9780765319043 $25.99

Awakening from a cryogenically preserved facility Justin Cord (see The Unincorporated Man) led the rebellion against the incorporated dictatorship. He became President of the Outer Alliance bringing hope to many unincorporated like he was labeled. Everything changed when he was assassinated. General Janet Delgado "J.D." Black replaced Cord as the leader, but she knows she belongs on the battlefield leading the Outer Alliance in The Unincorporated War against the United Human Federation.

Desperate to keep the fervor alive, the Alliance locates a cryo container holding Sandra O'Toole, who like Cord lived during the time of freedom. The Alliance revives her as an Unincorporated Woman though they do not expect her to be anywhere near Cord in terms of quality leadership. Instead she is to be the symbol of freedom as a puppet. However, she proves to be much more than anyone anticipated.

The third visit to the Kollin universe contains another fresh fantastic futuristic science fiction thriller. The story line is fast-paced even during the passive moments with soliloquies provide insight into the minds and motives of the key players. Fans of the saga will relish the latest twisting leap into the Kollin squared realm while newcomers should read the first two books (see The Unincorporated Man and The Unincorporated War) to understand how the OA and the UHF got to this point.

The House of Caine
Ken Eulo
9780765325426 $14.99

In 1966 after a decade away, thirtyish Miami herald reporter Rob Martin, accompanied by his friend Larry Campbell, returns to his hometown Millhouse, Connecticut on a short visit while on the way to interview Robert Kennedy. However, he finds his hometown affirms Thomas Wolfe's belief You Can't Go Home as Millhouse seems different, edgier and more dangerous.

When Larry vanishes, Rob searches for him unaware of what is going on. The town's first family Norris and Julia Caine ruled Millhouse like benevolent despots when they were breathers; now vampires they rule the town like it is a large blood bank though they and their loyal human servants selected loser loners. However, some of their bites have turned into undead with no thought of stealth dining as people who will be missed are assaulted. Rob, trying to save his high school sweetheart Elizabeth Arbor, and his best childhood friend Tony Rizzo abetted by a few other humans begin a counterinsurgency.

The House of Caine is an entertaining metaphoric historical vampire thriller that will remind readers of Stephen King's Salem's Lot; whereas Ken Eulo's tale comes across as a historical while Mr. King's classic is a 1975 contemporary. The story line is filled with action, but at times bogs down with references to the chaotic times especially Vietnam though in fairness the chaos of social reform is the underlying message. While Rob seems inept as a journalist unable to grasp what is going on amidst the corpses, readers will enjoy visiting The House of Caine in Connecticut as Ken Eulo takes his audience on a tour biting tour of a schizoid year.

Time and Chance
Alan Brennert
9780765329523 $14.99

Thirteen years ago Richard Cochrane left New Hampshire seeking fame and fortune as an actor. Now as the last performance of a three month Broadway run of Brigadoon ends, he knows he has come a long way until a voice no one else hears interrupts his performance. He blows his lines. Later the despondent performer learns his mother died. Depressed over her death and his terrible acting, Richard returns home to a lonely existence in New Hampshire.

Thirteen years ago in New Hampshire Rick Cochrane dreams of Broadway, but instead marries the woman he loves. The couple raises a family, but over the years he resents his sacrifice.

As each Cochrane looks at their respective unhappy and unfulfilling life, a switch occurs. Richard the actor occupies the body of Rick the insurance man; while Rick resides in the body of Richard. Both approaches the change with euphoria as they each has a second chance to travel the other path they once rejected.

With nod to Freaky Friday inside the Twilight Zone, Alan Brennert provides a fabulous character driven fantasy that looks deep at choices and their aftermath to the chooser and his or her degrees of connection and separation. Both of the male Cochranes are unhappy with their respective lives so they welcome the switch. The support cast in New Hampshire and Manhattan enhance a thought provoking whimsical tale with deep metaphors starting with Brigadoon.

The Secret of Crickley Hall
James Herbert
9780765328885 $17.99

One year ago five years old Cameron Caleigh vanished. His distraught parents American Gabe and Englishwoman Eve were frantic but he never was found. Desperately in need of a change Gabe and Eve accompanied by their daughters twelve year old Loren and five year old Calley move from London to Hollow Bay, five hours on the Motorway. Their new home Crickley Hall on Devil's Cleave looks grim and ugly.

The family is unaware that Chester the dog howls at apparitions banging the walls and shaking the cupboards to rattle the first breathers in a decade to occupy Crickley Hall. The Caleigh clan begins to learn the history of the Hall especially what happened in World War II when London orphans lived there under the care of abusive Augustus Cribben until a flood apparently killed all the residents. As a grieving Eve turns to psychic Lilli to learn what happened to her son, Loren feels weak anytime she is indoors and Calley knows why Chester is howling; Gabe remains steadfast American unable to see what is happening to his family but may be too late when he finally accepts the truth.

With a nod to the movie Poltergeist, The Secret of Crickley Hall is an entertaining haunted house thriller. The story line is fast-paced containing all the usual bumps in the night (and day). The WWII subplot brings poignancy while connecting the past with the present. The cast in the 1940s and today are developed enough to make the ghost story work although Gabe is the stereotype of an American seen through English eyes. Readers will enjoy learning The Secret of Crickley Hall.

Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill
9780765317629 $10.99

Teenager Spirit White attends the Oakhurst Academy for orphans with magical skills where they train to fight in a war against an alleged evil. She and her new friends (Burke, Lachlan, Muirin and Adelaide) recently defeated the Wild Hunt (see Legacies).

Though still grieving the deaths of her family in a car accident before she was enrolled at Oakhurst and feeling survivor guilt because of her doubts about what really happened to cause the deadly tragedy, Spirit and her BFFs look forward to time off to shop during the winter holidays. However, something feels off to her, but her buddies ignore her warnings except to ridicule her as alumni have taken charge of security. The only one who believes what Spirit says is the new lunatic student who insists the war between Arthur and Mordred has come to Oakhurst. When the homicides begin waking up everyone, Spirit fears it is too late.

The second young teen Shadow Grail urban fantasy (see Legacies) is an engaging thriller starring an angry despondent anti Potter teen whose inner rage brings realism to the mix. For the most part the story line is fast-paced though it drags when relationships are explored with one late twist adding depth. Although her BFFs still remain out of the DC Teen Titan handbook, fans will want to attend the Sadie Hawkins Dance at eerie Oakhurst Academy.

Kitty's Greatest Hits
Carrie Vaughn
9780765326966 $25.99

This super fourteen short story collection consist of twelve that are clearly in Kitty's sphere though the most popular werewolf talk show personality only appears in five of them. Cormac stars in two (with Ben in "Looking After Family" and in the excellent tale of his haunting "Long Time Waiting"). Additionally T.J. stars in "Wild Ride" and Emma from "Kitty Takes Washington" heats the sheets in "Life Is The Teacher". Rick stars twice as Ricardo in Conquistador de la Noche" and with Kitty in "The Temptation of Robin Green". Finally there is also Jake the vampire who called the night radio host complaining about how his life literally sucks in "Kitty and the Silver Bullet"; this is what happened to him after his "You're on the Air" fifteen minutes of fame. Obviously for fans of the Kitty universe who will howl with delight even with two cleverly well written historical paranormal entries (A Princess of Spain and The Book of Daniel) that do not belong within Kitty's Greatest Hits.

The Watchtower
Lee Carroll
9780765325983 $15.99

Jewelry designer Garet James opened Pandora's Box when she fell for a ruse and unfastened an enigmatic silver box. Her unlocking led to the release of evil on the world. Still with her lover four centuries old vampire Will Hughes, she defeated malevolence in New York (see Black Swan Rising).

However, Will vanished afterward absconding with the box. . Garet feels good her lover took the enigmatic artifact as she just wants to return to design. However, instead she follows Will who wants to rid himself of his violent Undead nature in order to grow old with his beloved Garet. On her quest to reach the magical Summer County where she assumes Will went to, Garet meets the unexplained in Paris and Luxembourg.

The second James-Hughes romantic urban fantasy is an engaging tale that rotates past and present as Will stars with his background of how he became a vampire and with his present quest to return to a human due to his eternal love for Garet. The overuse of mountainous misunderstandings between the lovers lead to changing basic values of each as their paranormal peril seem over the top of the Eifel Tower and Buurgplaatz Reservoir; still fans will enjoy watching the pair seek Summer County.

The Tempering of Men
Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear
9780765324702 $25.99

In the tundra of Iskryne, the victory in the war with the trolls (see Companion to Wolves) leaves the wolfcarls and their trellwolves of Franangford struggling with what next now that there is peace in the northern region after endless combat. The alliance with the Svartalfar seems unnecessary as their common enemy is vanquished.

At the same time while debate about the peace dividend rings though Iskryne, rivalry for the soul of the Konigenwolf Viradechtis between two men she chose further adds tension. However, a new threat arises from the south as the powerful human army of the Rhean Empire invades with a ruthlessness that even the trolls would have admired. Only the heroes of the troll invasion, the wolfcarl and their trellwolves have a chance to repel the brutal warriors.

The Tempering of Men is a delightful fantasy sequel with a strong cast and a powerful story line. Rotating perspective, Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear strip away the pretenses of anthropomorphic animals as well as a poignat look at the second and third order effects of winning a war. Action-packed yet character driven, sub-genre fans will this engaging military fantasy.

Sacred Evil
Heather Graham
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9781410439024 $7.99

On Broadway the murderer leaves the guttered corpse of starlet Virginia Rockford out on the street. NYPD detective Jude Crosby looks at the gruesome bloody crime scene and is stunned when the ME Fulbright says the killer recreated the first throat ripping murder by Jack the Ripper. Reporter Melissa Banks calls the Ripperologist copy cat Jack the Slasher.

Jude's boss Nathaniel Green assigns a task force to assist his lead detective and calls in the Fed as he fears a serial killer is repeating Ripper's 1888 reign of terror. Jude works with FBI special agent Whitney Tremont and the rest of a special unit headed by Jackson Crow (see Krewe of Hunters' cases - Heart of Evil and Evil Inside) on a manhunt to prevent the killer from murdering the next victim. However, as they dig deep into the case, evil stalks them with Whitney as the next target.

Sacred Evil is a taut paranormal police procedural that grips the audience once Jude and Whitney begin the investigation. The romance is a secondary subplot as the cat loving male and the dog loving female fall in love, but know stopping the evil killer takes precedent over their feelings. With a nod to the X-Files, readers will appreciate the latest Jackson Crow Krewe case.

Fall From Pride
Karen Harper
9780778312499 $14.95

In Home Valley, Ohio, an arsonist is destroying the barns that belong to the Amish. State Fire and Explosion Investigative Unit arson investigator Nate Mackenzie arrives to determine whether these are hate crimes as occurred in Pennsylvania two years ago. If yes the targets are either the Amish church leaders or artist Sarah Kauffmann, who had painted murals on the barns just before they were burned down.

Sarah and Nate team up as she can assist him in understanding the culture of her people though ironically she feels in many ways like an outsider. However, though each tries to ignore their attraction to the other, working the arson case together keeps them in close proximity as they fall in love. Like trying to solve the fires case is almost as difficult as finding a resolution to a permanent relationship.

The opening Amish Home Valley romantic suspense is an entertaining tale starring a strong lead couple and fully developed secondary characters. Nate and Sarah feel like outsiders but connect at first sight; readers will enjoy her jealous of his VERA. Although the story line decelerates at about the half way point before shifting back into first gear, readers will appreciate this delightful arson investigative romance.

By His Majesty's Grace
Jennifer Blake
9780778312437 $7.99

In 1486 England King Henry VII orders heiress Lady Isabel Milton to marry farmer Rand Braesford. Isabel is taken aback on two fronts. First four suitors have died while courting her so many believe she is a curse so why the royal decree; second she finds it difficult to accept the monarch would choose someone outside of his inner aristocratic circle.

She soon realizes her mistake re her fiance as he is a veteran soldier loyal to the king and given Braesford and her as his reward. Isabel feels rather good about her marital status when Braesford is arrested on a murder charge. However, she quickly reconsiders her position of once a warrior always a warrior as she looks back at his kindness towards everyone. Isabel investigates the homicide in order to liberate her betrothed from the Tower and rid herself of the curse by marrying her intended.

The oldest sister of the cursed Three Graces of Graydon, Isabel is a fascinating protagonist who changes her mind about her intended as he may be the one to overcome her "affliction" with the cure of love. The story line is action-packed yet makes the early Tudor era come alive. Although the two lead characters are too perfect (Candide would have said they belong in Eldorado as the "best of all possible worlds"), fans will enjoy their duet as the heroine believes Rand is innocent of the crime and risks her life to prove it when she could have let him be executed.

Midnight Fear
Leslie Tentler
9780778312468 $7.99

IN DC FBI Agent Reid Novak extorts Joshua Cahill to drop the knife he has pointed at the throat of his latest victim. Blaming his sister Caitlyn for betraying him by giving the Feds his journal, Joshua slices the woman's throat before Reid and his partner Mitch Tierney shoot him. Joshua's subsequent conviction as a serial killer destroys his father's political career; Senator Braden Cahill died from a stroke shortly after and his wife Caroline went insane.

Over the next two years, Caitlyn struggled with survivor guilt with what happened to her parents though she knows she did the right thing with the end of the Capital Killer's terror reign. Ostracized by the Washington social class who blame her for betraying her family, Caitlyn left the city retuning to her family farm Rambling Rose near Middleburg, Virginia. However, recently a copy cat killer has surfaced who reenacts her brother's killings and terrorizes her for betraying Joshua. Still haunted by the last victim he failed to save, Novak vows to keep Caitlyn safe while also ending the second Capital Killer's reign of terror.

The second exhilarating Midnight FBI romantic suspense (see Midnight Caller) is an exciting thriller from the moment Reid confronts Joshua and never slows down until anticipated final confrontation. Reid and Caitlyn are terrific protagonists who met during a tragedy that left both suffering from PTSD. Although the motive for the copy cat killer is cliched, he is a shocker as readers will enjoy Leslie Testler's dark police procedural.

Blood Cursed
Erica Hayes
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312624712 $7.99

At the Unseeling Court nightclub in Melbourne, Jasper the dark fae pimps his girlfriend Emmy to the vampires. The Undead pay exorbitant amounts of money to taste the nectar of bloodfairy juice. The bloodwhore and her pimp rob the dazed bloodsucker. However, Emmy is emotionally hurt when she sees Jasper kissing ardently another female fae.

Glassfairy Diamond the gangster takes Ember under his wings as she has something he wants. Ember stole crystals from Kane who demands their return with a catch; whoever does so must enter hell to do so, but not entering hell would prove worse. Diamond knows Ember is an expendable pawn in a gangland war, but he loves her. Ember distrusts Diamond especially since she loves him, but if she wants to live he is her only chance.

This is an interesting Australian urban romantic fantasy in which the world of Erica Hayes is a dark, gloomy and bloody as the readers tours this alternate Melbourne mob underground. The story line is fast-paced even with a need to adapt to the butchered "speechified" way Diamond talks. Fans will enjoy the latest exhilarating Shadowfae Chronicles (see Poison Kissed, Shadowfae and Shadowglass).

Midnight Sins
Lora Leigh
St. Martin's
9780312389086 $7.99

In Corbin County, Widow Jami Flannigan Kramer misses her late soul mate Ty; so much so she has a fling with Tye's blood brother Rafer Callahan as the next best thing. Jami also notices how her thirteen year old younger sister Cambria looks at Rafe with adulation. However, everything ends when someone kills Jami and the townsfolk of the county seat Sweetrock blame Rafe and his two cousins. They are exonerated but he leaves town as he joined the military.

Now twenty-one years old, Cami still wants Rafe, who returned to town as a rancher. However, a series of homicides rocks the sweet town with the residents once again blaming the Callahan cousins. Rafe recalls his death bed pledge to Jami, a vow to keep Cami safe. As they fall in love, Cami wonders if Rafe is the killer.

This is an exciting edgy romantic suspense that grips the reader from the opening murder of Jami and never slows down. The fast-paced story line is extremely dark as a serial killer haunts the county. Although the cliffhanging climax leaves little closure while setting up a cousin's tale, readers will appreciate this taut thriller.

Secrets to Seducing a Scot
Michelle Marcos
St. Martin's
9780312381783 $7.99

In 1819, the Prince Regent assigns Earlington Marsh as a diplomat whose mission is to settle the Scottish rebellion from turning into a war. Marsh decides his independent daughter Serena will accompany him so he can keep her safe. Serena prefers London where she writes the witty Rage Page column for the Town crier, but her dad says no.

In Scotland Earlington retains mercenary Malcolm Slayer, whose family was massacred two decades ago which left him growing up without a clan, to protect his feisty offspring when rebels threaten her to get at the mediator. As the barbaric soldier of fortune and the cutting columnist fall in love, he is her only hope to rescue her abducted father from rebels.

This is an entertaining Highland Regency romance starring a strong support cast and a delightful pairing of seemingly opposites who readers will root for a Wickedly Ever After ending. The story line is fast-paced whether the protagonists argue or kiss, and when they mount a rescue attempt or go to the fair. Sub-genre fans will enjoy the tale of Rage Page and the clan-less for hire warrior falling in love.

Where the Shadows Lie
Michael Ridpath
St. Martin's
9780312675035 $24.99

A Dominican drug cartel operating in Massachusetts places a price on the head of Boston Police Sergeant Detective Magnus Jonson. To keep him safe, the brass arranges an assignment with the Icelandic police department.

Magnus arrives in Reykjavik where he quickly realizes the rules differ from back home; his Icelandic education in policing starts with the fact that the cops do not carry weapons. The American is assigned to the team investigating the murder of Professor Agnar Haraldsson, an expert on Icelandic mythos and legends. Though he feels for the victim, Magnus' enjoys looking into the mythology of his native land where his dad was murdered years ago. He especially finds fascinating that allegedly Haraldsson found the source of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. As he investigates, Jonson alienates superiors on both sides of the pond when he learns that the Dominicans who attack his Bostonian family and have also come to Iceland to stamp his passport as dead.

This terrific Icelandic Police Procedural deftly merges the nation's mythology and history with a present day murder case. Magnus is a terrific protagonist as he feels like a fish out of water though he was in Iceland; he is a veteran American cop struggling with adjusting to different rules than he has adhered to in the past; this adds realism to the wonderful whodunit which is further enhanced by the Tolkien connection.

Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin's
9780312546595 $25.99

He was a gun for hire in the Old West; feared by his so called peers other cold hearted killers. He vowed to change when he fell in love with Matilda and she agreed to marry him. Their love ends in her tragic death at their wedding when his best friend the best man killed him to collect the bounty on William Jessup Brady's head and raped Matilda. He left her pregnant. She gave her son away and went on to live a relatively happy life.

Artemis called Jess' spirit to her. She offered him a choice to go after his killer and Matilda's rapist in exchange for her owning his soul as one of her Dark-Hunters killing Daimons who eat human souls as sustenance to survive. Someone is murdering Dark Hunters and no one is as shocked as jess when that adversary tries to kill him. The slayer is Abigail Yeager who was raised by vampires who brainwashed her into believing Dark-Hunters were evil. The execution of Jess is personal as she knows he killed her parents though he vehemently denies it. They are attracted to one another, but she must be sacrificed in the valley for killing a Guardian. An old God watches the pair waiting for the moment to kill Jess and take Abigail.

The latest Dark Hunter fantasy is as fabulous as its numerous predecessors due to the seemingly star-crossed lovers. From the Greek Pantheon of the gods, Jess and Abigail must fight essences so much stronger than either of them, but love binds them to a more powerful level. She brings out the best in him while his willingness to die eternally for her encourages her to be even better of a person. They make Retribution an enthralling spellbinder.

Half Life
Roopa Farooki
St. Martin's
9780312577919 $15.99

In London, Bengali expatriate Dr. Aruna Ahmed Jones married British Dr. Patrick Jones on the rebound from her failed romance with long time friend Ejaz "Jazz" Ahsan. In fact she fled Singapore's Little India to escape her past that included her father's death, drug addiction, miscarriages and a psychological determination that she is bi-polar. Now less than a year with kind handsome Patrick, she reads Jazz's father Bengali writer Hari Hassam's note to a friend during the 1971 East and West Pakistan war: "It's time to stop fighting, and go home." Aruna agrees that it is time for her to stop fighting her ghosts and go home to confront them.

While she returns to Singapore, her inspiration lies dying in Kuala Lumpur General Hospital in Malaysia. Aruna knows she must confront Jazz and their past if she is to move forward with him or with Patrick who she expects will not welcome her back.

This terrific character study contains two discerning subplots as readers follow Aruna's efforts to cleanse her mind from her self-imposed demons that force her into a Half Life and Haris' death count vigil. Both are well written and nicely converge as the audience obtains insight into the Bengali culture living in Southeast Asia and London through this pair and others. Roopa Farooki provides a strong drama as Aruna learns that though Thomas Wolff is right that "you can't go home", Hari is also correct as sometimes you have no choice but to go home.

Crave the Moon
Lori Handeland
St. Martin's
9780312389369 $7.99

Gina O'Neill needs cash to pay the mortgage or lose her Nahua Springs Ranch that she and previous generations of her family have lived on for ages. She believes her best solution to earn money is more paying guests at her dude ranch.

One persistent potential customer is archeologist Matteo Mecate. He wants to excavate a section of her ranch in search of an Aztec tomb his mom told him about when he was a child. He believes her stories about a sorcerer buried on the O'Neill ranch. She plans to say no to the moldy ancient academic so is stunned when a young hunk arrives to make his case in person. As they fall in love, they awaken a dormant shapeshifting sorcerer with a thirst for revenge against the descendants of those who incarcerated this evil werewolf.

The latest Nightcreature urban romantic fantasy (see Moon Cursed and marked by the Moon) is an exhilarating thriller starring two intriguing individuals especially the archeologist whose letters the heroine rips and tosses out are written in stilted intellectual English. The story line is fast-paced as sometimes you get what you wish for and he does twice: on first sight he wants sex with his hostess and second is the dig that gives hope of escape by a malevolent monster. Lori Handeland has another engaging Moon tale.

Holy Warrior: A Novel of Robin Hood
Angus Donald
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312678371 $14.99

In 1190 newly crowned King Richard II of England announces plans to liberate Jerusalem from the Saracens. Amongst those marching in the Third Crusades is the most feared warrior in the land, the Outlaw of Nottingham, the Earl of Locksley. Robin Hood's loyal men are on the trek too as the Templars gave him and them little choice in the matter.

The trek is dangerous without having an assassin try killing you. Robin and his personal troubadour teen age Alan Dale try to uncover the identity of the stalker but so far fail. At the same tome Robin shows no mercy as he and his band of mercenary murderers kill anyone in their path. However, the real test will be in combat with Saladin and his Saracen horde.

The second tale of Angus Donald's rendition of Robin Hood (see Outlaw) continues to portray the epic heroic Holy Warrior in a negative light (that is looking back from twenty-first century sensitivities even with recent holocausts). Robin is abusive and mean spirited while he leads a merry band of raping, murdering marauders. They fit their times as teenage Alan Dale relates what they have seen and done during the Crusades to include ethnic cleansing of Jews in England, the slaughter of Muslim prisoners of war at Acre, and the massacre of other ethnic groups. This all occurs even before the bloody battle against Saladin and enhanced by deadly disease. Dark, gory and bloody but grimly realistic as medieval life especially on the front means take no prisoners except in the case of rape.

Naked City
Ellen Datlow, editor
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312385248 $15.99

Starting with Dresden attending a Cub game where he tries to do the impossible by removing "Curses" preventing the team from winning, this twenty tale collection of urban fantasies is a winner for sub-genre fans. Batting second, Delia Sherman tells readers "How the Pooka Came to New York City" with the Irish immigrants in 1855. "Fairy Gifts" by Patricia Briggs stars a vampire in Big Sky Country paying a debt to the Fae who removed a curse haunting him. The Graveminders' entry "Guns for the Dead" by Melissa Marr stars deceased Frankie Lee seeking employment similar to the felonious jobs he had as a mortal. Under a Seattle bridge, bitter children's literature Professor Richardson meets an equally cynical troll in Peter S. Beagle's "Underbridge." The other contributions are excellent while warning readers to watch out for the hand that serves man (see "Noble Rot" by Holly Black) as the price may be more than just your life. These "Tales of Urban Fantasy" make for one of the year's best anthologies regardless of genre.

The Moonlight Brigade
Sarah Jane Stratford
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312560140 $14.99

Having been a Roman Republic general, Mors detests the Fascists especially their Nazi allies in Italy. The rare twice Millennial Vampire vows to kick the Nazis back to Germany though he has been fighting in Berlin. During a fight against Nazi vampire hunters, one of Mors' allies Cleland goes missing.

The clues to Cleland's disappearance lead back to Mors' beloved home Rome. Once back in Italy, his fervor to free his country from the Fascists grips his soul while he believes he should serves as the first leader of a democratic Italy. Mors meets Giulia of the Italian resistance. They along with other vampires and humans train and fight together even as the pair falls in love.

Though for the most part limited to the WWII years (though there are inserts of Mors' history), this exciting entry like its predecessors (see The Midnight Guardian) will remind readers of the Saint Germain's historical vampire thrillers by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Character driven, the story line provides an intriguing look at WWII through an alternative paranormal filter. Although the action can decelerate especially when the fascinating but disruptive Mors' history is inserted, sub-genre fans will enjoy this entertaining military historical fantasy.

The Devils Diadem
Sara Douglass
Harper Voyager
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062004338 $26.99

In the twelfth century, minor noblewoman Lady Maeb Langtofte feels fortunate that she obtained a position as a Lady-in-Waiting to the kind pious matriarch of the powerful Earldom of Pengraic, Lady Adelie. Maeb likes her caring employer but fears Adelie's secretive spouse.

Rumors fly that the continent is trapped in hell's inferno which is affirmed rather quickly when the Black Death Plague sweeps into England. The gossip inside of the House of Pengraic is that victims abruptly combust into flames as the Devil claims their souls. At the same time King Edmond orders his earls to come to London with their armies while his kingdom plunges into demonic chaos. Obeying his Highness' edict, Pengraic leaves behind his frightened household to deal with the plague and a visitor from Hell seeking a stolen treasure.

The Devil's Diadem is an entertaining alternate historical fantasy that deploys the Black Death as a supernatural demonic deadly disease. Maeb is an intriguing protagonist who goes from the fearful Perils of Pauline person to a courageous Joan of Arc heroine. Her other metamorphosis from a nonentity mom into a siren no male can resist detracts from an otherwise enjoyable paranormal retelling of the demonic plague.

Cowboys & Aliens
Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, Andrew Foley, Fred Van Lente, Dennis Calero, Luciano Lima.
9780062079077 $15.99

In 1873 an alien spacecraft commanded by Commander Dar of the House of Dar crashes in the Arizona Territory. Dar sees an opportunity so he leads his army on an attack on Fort Larrabie. The easy victory coupled with the occupation of Silver City affirm Dar's belief that his race can conquer this backwater planet with ease and that the earthlings probably do not even deserve slave status, but the few surviving will be placed in servitude. As soon as the rest of the armada arrives earth will be history.

Dar fails to understand the strange bedfellow resistance movement that suddenly comes to life when Zeke and Miss Verity make a deal with the Apaches War Hawk and No-Name. Abetting the outgunned humans is emerald-skinned female slave of Dar, Kai, who defects to what looks like the losing side. Zeke and Kai are attracted to one another as is War Hawk and Verity too. Guerilla warfare and Apache attacks have Dar reeling but a weaseling Quisling sells out the humans.

As the top of the cover states: "The graphic novel that inspired the film"; ergo this is a reprint of the 2006 comic rather than a novelization of the movie. The action-packed story line is a fun rendition of Starships Troopers and War of the Worlds with the iconic twist that the Apache were about to battle the white invaders when the ship crashed. Although there is some idealistic naivety that the alliance would survive in victory or defeat rather than the post realism of the allies' schism after WWII (in victory) or crushed morale (in defeat), readers will enjoy this fine western science fiction thriller.

Sandra Brown
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9781455501472 $26.99

In Tambour, Louisiana, four year old Emily Gillette informs her mother Honor that a stranger dripping blood is in their yard. Assuming her daughter's imagination is running wild, the Widow Honor checks anyway. Holding a gun Lee Coburn is fleeing from the police who believe he killed seven people on a mass murder spree.

Coburn searches her home hoping to find a clue left there by Honor's late husband Eddie a cop who dies in a car accident two years ago. He fails to find what he seeks. Eddie's father sends the cops to check on his granddaughter, but Coburn is already gone. However, he shoots a cop Fred who he swears to Honor was sent there by the Bookkeeper who runs illegal trafficking and owns the local police, including Coburn believes her husband.

This is an exciting thriller that grips the audience from the moment Coburn points his gun at the frightened mom and never slows down even with some intriguing subplots involving other people. The entertaining story line is character driven by the mom who must decide between believing an accused mass murder who claims her late spouse was dirty and the cops including her husband she has known all her life. Although the tale follows the anticipated course, fans will enjoy the visit to Tambour, the Gulf and DC with Sandra Brown as the tour guide.

The Recessionistas
Alexandra Lebenthal
Grand Central
9780446563680 $14.99

As the recession has gotten worse, cutthroat competition amidst the Wall St. sharks and their spouses has turned even uglier. Flying Point Capital hedge fund owner John Cutter diligently keeping his profit margin high with aggressive investment in the subprime mortgage market while beginning to conceal his money from his estranged Greenwich wife Mimi the art collector.

Blake Somerset watches his fortune shrink by over $50 million while the banker's Fashionista wife Grigsby refuses to lose her position as the top dog setting elitist of the Upper East Side. He holds on by assisting his Harvard classmate John hide funds that his "client's brilliant assistant Renee Parker would not be able to trace let alone his "client's" Connecticut art collecting trophy wife.

Although the key characters are stereotypes, the insightful lucid descriptions of the confusing financial vernacular is superb and helps make the business of Wall St. the prime protagonist of this ironic tale. Many readers will cheer the climax but recent events affirm the opposite with few falling like Madoff. Still overall the Recessionistas is a wonderful satire from an insider who cleverly lampoons her roots.

Tony and Susan
Austin Wright
Grand Central
9780446582902 $24.99

English teacher Susan Morrow has been married to Arthur a surgeon. He and her second husband have been together for years raising kids in suburbia. It has been over two decades since Susan has communicated with her first spouse Edward Sheffield, but he has sent her a manuscript Nocturnal Animals asking her to read it and tell him what she thinks.

Not interested until she learns her ex is coming to visit her to see what she thinks; Susan begins reading the story of math professor Tony Hastings, his wife Laura and their child Helen. At first she hates the family in terror plot as she expects an unhappy ending, but soon cannot put the novel down as she flashes from the book to her life with Edward and Arthur.

Using the story inside a story mechanism, Austin Wright provides an insightful profound look at two "families" and the writer who connects them. The story line focuses on accountability as people reject any responsibility for their actions even blatant abuse. Both "novels" are entertainingly discerning as the veneer of civilization conceals the reality of irresponsible, unethical and often violent behavior.

Cold Vengeance
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Grand Central
9780446554985 $26.99

In Cairn Barrow, Scotland Special Agent Pendergast and his brother-in-law Esterhazy go stag hunting. However, nether of them hunt deer, but each other. Pendergast seeks revenge against Esterhazy for murdering his wife Helen (see Fever Dream). As Pendergast traps his adversary he asks why he killed his sister just as a stag assaults the agent; giving Esterhazy the chance to shoot his adversary in the chest and explain he did not kill his sibling as Helen lives. Esterhazy leaves his friend to die as he calls the constabulary to report the accident. Inspector Balfour leads the search, but no human corpse is found.

Pendergast no longer seeks Cold Vengeance as now he searches for Helen, but is confused over her role in the duplicity of her death; unless his in-law lied. He returns to New York from the moors, but the clues take him to the bayous where increasingly he wonders whether Helen arranged her death and how little he really knew her as Pendergast begins to uncover secrets his wife hid from him.

The second Pendergast's Helen inquiry is a great thriller that is loaded with action from the first hunting confrontation to the climax that ends with a cliffhanger setup for the finish. The taut story line is fast-paced and filled with twists that hook the audience. However the hero makes the tale as he will remind readers of Liam Neeson in Taken with his determination to rescue Helen if she is alive. Suspenseful, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child provide the best middle book of a trilogy in recent memory.

Confessions of an Improper Bride
Jennifer Haymore
Grand Central
9780446573146 $7.99

In 1822 Serena Donovan fell in love with Jonathan Dane, who ruined her reputation. She left London accompanied by her twin sister Meg. Off of Antigua on the Victory, a rope accidentally pulls Meg into the water where she apparently drowns. Already feeling remorse for the shame she brought to her family, Serena suffers from survivor guilt.

In 1828, Serena's mother demands she come home to pose as her dead twin sister Meg. Her mother kept in touch with Commander William Langley pretending to be Meg. He has written a proposal of marriage to Meg; her mother says Serena owes the family who is in in dire straits to masquerade as Meg for the rest of her life as Langley's wife.

Jonathan has become a wastrel feeling guilty over what he did to the late Serena to cause her death at sea six years ago though he fulfilled a deathbed pledge he regretfully made to his father. When he meets Meg, Jonathan knows she is his Serena. He knows he will betray his friend Will, but must persuade his Serena to give him a second chance. To do so would ruin Serena's life and that of her family.

The Donovan sisters' Regency romance is an entertaining historical due to the triangle as each of the trio has strengths and weaknesses, but none are evil. A secondary romance between Serena's sister Phoebe and a Mr. Harper enhances the insight into the 1822 relationship between the older twin and Jonathan as Serena realizes her sibling is doing what she did. With Meg not miraculously coming back from the dead (except in Serena's portrayal), fans will appreciate this enjoyable early nineteenth century second chance at love tale.

Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Dominion
Eric Van Lustbader
Grand Central
9780446564441 $27.99

In Russia, Viktor Cherkesov informs General Boris Karpov he is the country's chief of FSB-2 secret police if he completes the loyalty test; his assignment is to kill his long time friend and field operative ally Jason Bourne. He begins the hunt at the same time that Bourne seeks out his Russian comrade to help him with a threat to the world equilibrium involving rare earth metals used in modern technology including weapon systems.

Whereas the Chinese has been way ahead of the rest of the globe in procuring the rare earth metals, the Severus Domna anti-American organization, has deployed plans to obtain the rest, which will cause a Greater Depression than that of the Bush era. Bourne knows the only way to prevent the destruction of the American economy and subsequently that of the world is teaming up with the Russian bear who has recently tried to kill him in Columbia.

Eric Van Lustbader's latest Bourne entry is his best to date (see The Bourne Deception and The Bourne Objective)as he captures the essence of the amnesiac especially in the cold environs that he works in where values like loyalty are sold on a sort of commodity exchange. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Karpov tortures and kills several FSB-2 operatives and never slows down as the reader wonders whether Karpov will assist or assassinate his former ally.

Triple Crossing
Sebastian Rotella
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316105309 $24.99

Career Conditional Border Patrol agent Valentine Pescatore works the San Diego- Tijuana Line. He understands the rules, but cannot help feeling for some of the women and children caught in the righteous political anti-illegal immigration fever. In fact he has given money to some of those he arrested. Valentine's idealism clashes with his vicious supervisor Arleigh Garrison, who sees these illegal "animals" as sport.

During a stoppage, Valentine notice notorious human-drug smuggler Pulp escaping. He follows the nasty supplier into Tijuana, violating the treaty and the laws of both countries. Federal Agent Isabel Puente finds Valentine on the wrong side of the border and the law. She recruits him by blackmailing him to go undercover inside a particularly nasty Mexican mafia family. As he falls in love with his puppeteer, Valentine becomes a double agent working the lethal South American "triple border" crossing.

Reporter Sebastian Rotella pulls no punches in this dark look at working undercover amongst extremely dangerous people. The story line is action-packed while containing a strong cast and not just the three above as for instance Mexican official Mendez diligently works anti-corruption in Tijuana. Except for the suits who use the illegal immigration issue as a tough on crime vote getter, readers will appreciate the dangerous rest of the story.

Son of Stone
Stuart Woods
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399157653 $26.95

Lawyer Stone Barrington has made full partner at Manhattan's Woodman & Weld. After his latest escapades (see Bel Air Dead), Stone plans to stay low key in New York and get closer with his teenage son Peter who he only recently learned he sired. Stone's former lover and Peter's mother Arrington Calder wants that for both males.

Peter plans to attend Yale University Drama School as he wants to become a film director. He and his dad develop a nice relationship while Arrington is sleeping with University of Virginia Architecture Professor Timothy Rutledge who oversees the finish to her mansion in Virginia. Stone uses some of connections to help Peter with his career choice. Meanwhile New York Post tabloid reporter Kelli Keane senses a scandal so she investigates the relationship between Stone and Arrington while a threat using Peter as the bait occurs.

Son of Stone is more of a family drama than the usual Barrington suspense thriller as Stone and Peter get to know each other while the father uses his influence to try to help his son further his career. Well written with a surprising twist, the tension comes late as much of the tale is about father and son getting to know each other.

New York to Dallas
J.D. Robb
9780399157783 $27.95

Twelve years ago when current police Lieutenant Eve Dallas was a rookie, she had the instincts of a veteran; one of her feelings impressed upon her was that the man trying to leave a crime scene was the perp. She makes her first collar as predatory Isaac McQueen received life imprisonment for his monstrous abductions of the young.

In the present she sees McQueen in her peripheral vision as he just escaped from Rikers and holds a woman hostage. Eve goes to the apartment where she took the psychopath down; the pedophile torturer, rapist killer plans to take her down this time. The clues lead to Dallas where Eve has bad memories from when she lived there as a child. McQueen kidnaps a young girl and a woman; both he hostage during that first encounter when Eve caught him. Eve with the help of Roarke seek the monster in Dallas and she also meets a woman who looks familiar to her only her mind draws a blank about her identity For the first time since they met, Roarke fears for his wife's sanity as her past and present crash in Texas.

J.D. Robb refreshes her Eve Dallas futuristic police procedural by having the "... In Death" heroine temporarily relocate to the city she took her surname from, which forces her to use a different crew in support of her; hence the first book without the title prepositional phrase. The heroine struggles with this case because of the deja vu of her salad days as well as round two with pure evil. As Roarke worries that his beloved's mind is snapping under pressure, series fans will appreciate Thomas Wolfe's assertion "You can't go home."

Robert B. Parker's Killing the Blues
Michael Brandman
9780399157844 $25.95

Paradise, Massachusetts is gearing up for the summer tourist season with the Board of Selectmen hiring events planner Alexis Richardson to put the town on the map as a happening place. Chief of Police Jesse Stone is attracted to her and they have an affair though neither wants to get to serious. He has no time to move their relationship to the next level as he has two different criminals converging on the town.

A crime wave begins with two Hondas stolen. The higher-ups think that someone is setting up a chop shop. When a third car is stolen, the owner fights thief, but is killed enabling the felon to escape. Jesse finds and holds the thief incommunicado under he tells him who is boss is. On a personal note, Rollo Nurse is released from a California penitentiary and is coming east to kill Jesse who used excessive force that caused permanent damage to the career criminal. Rollo starts killing dogs before he turns to arson and ends up finally killing a cop. Jesse has other issues and crimes to deal with including an indifferent principal, a sexual predator teacher and a student who held the principal hostage. Jesse works all these problems while expecting a not too social visit from Rollo.

Michael Brandman successfully takes over the Robert B. Parker Jesse Stone police procedurals with a strong entry that captures the essence of the small town sheriff. The story line is filled with action as the caseload is overwhelming but Jesse keeps working all of them while he and fans await the confrontation. The author captures the magic of Mr. Parker's writing style ensuring readers will want to read this special police procedural series until it ends.

Robert B. Parker
9780399157264 $26.95

Bad boy actor Jumbo Nelson is in Boston on a film shoot. Boston PD has arrested him for the rape and murder of unemployed junior college grad Dawn Lopata. Over coffee, BPD detective Quirk tells his friend Spenser the case smells though the evidence seems overwhelming while the media wants to guillotine the "creep".

Spenser agrees to look into the homicide though from what he knows of the actor he deserves lock-up, just probably not for this murder. The private investigator meets Jumbo's booze buddy bodyguard Native American Zebulon Sixkill, Spenser sees passed the tough guy image Z displays for the world to the inner person who is a caring soul. As they team up and he mentors Z, the case turns even uglier with bi-coastal connections.

With his mind boggling superb thirty-ninth Spenser thriller, the late Robert B. Parker pays homage to him self. This is a great entry made fresh by the title character. The story line is action-packed from the moment Quirk quietly asks for Spenser's street savvy assistance and never slows down as Mr. Parker provides an entertaining mystery.

Victory and Honor
W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV
9780399157554 $26.95

In 1945, as the Axis powers were heading to defeat, OSS. Lieutenant Colonel Cletus Frade fears the politicians and the American people will want to turn isolationist in a sort of Fortress America. He knows the OSS mission is winding down as the agency is to soon be disbanded even as he and others try to prevent the Nazis from escaping to Argentina where they are welcomed. Also a U - boat is heading to Japan with atomic bomb secrets.

However, Frade's biggest concern is the Soviet Union at a time when OSS agents are being offered employment by the other federal alphas. As Frade works a top secret operation to ascertain what Stalin plans to do now that his Red Army has entered Berlin, he and his agents know the risk they take because if something goes wrong their country will slaughter them as combat casualties just when the third world war is beginning to heat up.

The third Griffin-Butterworth collaboration and sixth Honor Bound WW II espionage thriller (see Death and Honor, and The Honor of Spies) reads for the first third of the novel more like a non-action historical setting the environment of the switch from combat to "peace". That overly extended opening is fascinating but also slower than a glacier. The story line picks up speed especially following Frade and his dedicated men working in the field against what appears to be the next hostility while many back home and some in the cold desert the sunken OSS agency sort of like contemporary employees leaving base closure locations rather than move.

Garry Disher
Soho Press
853 Broadway . New York, NY 10003
9781569479629 $25.00

In Mount Eliza around the bay from Melbourne, Wyatt Warren waits for the right moment to rob $75,000 from a harbour master; his cost besides time so far is a $500 broker fee to tipster Eddie Oberin. However, the stealing of the ransom money turns nasty when the Frankston police arrive. By the time he escapes in a stolen car, Wyatt shows a profit of $1600 and out a gun.

Wyatt still needs a quick reward. Eddie arranges for him to meet his ex wife Lydia Stark who outlines a delivery of jewelry that Wyatt knows will be easy to steal from the courier and even easier to fence. The master thief accomplished the theft but it is not the easy jewelry he gets; instead it is much more valuable bonds but also much more difficult to pawn. His associates betray him and the courier is a pro coming for him.

Mindful of Parker (especially in Flashfire) by Richard Stark, Wyatt is an exciting return to thieving by the Australian career criminal. The story line is entertaining due to the lead character's criminal abilities that Garry Disher effortlessly brings alive in the roller coaster (no one goes up and down as frequently as Wyatt does) fast-paced plot. Fans and new readers will enjoy this well-written, tale while seeking out previous books that go back to the nineties of one of the best anti-heroes

His Darkest Salvation
Juliana Stone
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780062022639 $7.99

Three years ago adversarial jaguar shifters Jaden DaCosta and Julian Castille met and shared an incredible tryst. She recognized him as her mating bond, but he failed to do likewise. He just vanished into thin air like Copperfield performing a stunt.

Jaden is unaware that in combat in Belize sorcerer Cormac O'Hara dispatched her mate into hell where he was tortured for three years. A third party frees Julian and sorcerer Declan O'Hara but also warns the pair that they must shut a portal or lose their souls for eternity. She barely recognizes him while he has no idea who she is except he thinks she may have betrayed him in Belize.

This gritty romantic urban fantasy is an intriguing tale for those who read the previous "Darkest" novels (see His Darkest Embrace and His Darkest Hunger) because of the realistic metamorphoses of the hero after three years in hell and his soul on the line. Although loaded with action and unexpected but welcome twists, the super story line is character driven as the pair team up with plenty of distrust and fears of betrayal to take down an evil sorcerer and his malevolent allies including apparently her family in able to close the portal.

Wicked in Your Arms
Sophie Jordan
9780062032997 $7.99

Next in line to the throne of Maldania, Prince Sevastian Maksimi needs a wealthy well bred aristocrat as his wife to produce the appropriate heir and spare. He travels to England to find the ideal princess.

At a London gala, Sevastian and his cousin Malcolm discuss the list of potential brides. The arrogant prince tells his blood kin to delete Miss Grier Hadley and her sister Cleo from consideration as they are illegitimate offspring of an unsavory father though raised by a caring mom and kind stepfather. Grier overhears his dismissal and "accidently" dumps her drink on him. As they keep meeting in unacceptable places, an attraction grows even as they argue, fuss and kiss; but she remains unacceptable by the standard he promised his grandfather the king while someone stalks Grier.

The amusing bantering between the fighting lead pair over serious and inane topics like birthdates makes for a delightful historical romance. The story line is fast-paced from the opening lemon water dousing to the climax. With a nod to Princess Grace, sub-genre fans will appreciate this jocular tale as love does not seem enough.

The Last Viking
Sandra Hill
9780062019059 $7.99

In 997 Jarl Eric Tryggvason sends his son Geirolf Ericsson on a mission. However, Storr Grimmsson killed his mates and left him to die at sea. He floats holding on to "Ingrid" during a storm. When he awakens he still grips Ingrid's massive breast until he sees salvation in a ship he dubs Fierce Destiny.

In 1997 Maine, Medieval History Professor Meredith Foster argues with grad student Mike Johnson over placing a big boob naked Goddess as the figurehead of her tenth century replica of a Viking vessel. When she meets gigantic Geirolf who calls her "Dock-whore Merry-death", she knows he is odd but assumes he is a friend of Mike. Rolf knows something is not right but he likes his Merry-death. As he struggles with common late twentieth century items like shampoo and enjoys Oreos, the Last Viking and Merry-death fall in love, but he believes he must finish his millennium old mission if he can get back in time.

The reprint of a 1998 time travel romance is filled with word play, confusion and misunderstanding as the Viking adapts but remains bewildered with indoor plumbing and malls as large as a village. Although the plot is thin as the jocularity rarely turns serious except when he ponders why he was sent forward in time, fans of the Sandra Hill's Viking saga will enjoy the romance between the last Viking and Dock-whore Merry-death.

Scoundrel's Surrender
Jenna Petersen
9780061935008 $7.99

In 1815 Caleb Talbot and Marah Farnsworth meet and share a wonderful passionate afternoon. She fell in love, but he leaves feeling his ancestry made him unworthy of her. She was heartbroken and rusticated in Baybary for two years while he turned to drink.

Two years later, his brother Justin the earl finds Caleb in a dive drinking excessively. He informs his sibling their father is dying and wants to see Caleb to learn why he ran away from home. At the same time Marah's friend, Justin's wife Victoria asks her to come to London with her as she needs her to help her deal with the pain suffered by her husband with his father dying and his brother missing. Reluctantly she agrees. Marah muses that it will also give her time to see her friend Emerson Winstead. When Caleb and Marah meet again, the spark remains strong, but she refuses to take a chance on a man who leaves while he knows he made the mistake of his life when he left.

Though somewhat straightforward and deliberately paced, Regency readers will enjoy the third "Billingham Bastards" Regency romance (see The Unclaimed Duchess and What the Duke Desires). Marah is a wonderful protagonist as she seemingly chooses fear and her definition of dependable over love and out of control. Caleb knows he made the biggest blunder of his life when he fell into self pity, but to rectify his mistake means embracing love and happiness emotions he feels he is unworthy of. Like its predecessors A Scoundrel's Surrender is an engaging historical.

The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton
Miranda Neville
9780062023049 $7.99

In 1820 Yorkshire, the man with the gun informs Miss Celia Seaton to take off her clothes or he will rip them off. He tells her he must leave her but figures she will not wander the moors naked. Tarquin Compton left London but got lost. He sees a cottage and stops for directions.

Celia escapes her attic prison only to find the man she loathes arrogant Tarquin who called her a vegetable ruining her prospects. He lies prone by the door. When he awakens he recalls nothing; not even who he is. Seeing an opportunity to avenge his nastiness, Celia says he is her fiance Terrance Fish and they need to flee the cottage before the thugs who left him for dead return. As they flee Celia begins to fall in love with the kind intelligent Terrence, but when the memory returns so does conceited Tarquin who is engaged to Countess Julia. She is the first choice of his beloved uncle.

The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton is a delightful Regency romantic romp with a supporting mystery involving the kidnapping and subsequent murder attempts. Although too much happens, sub-genre fans will enjoy the cross country caper as a killer stalks the pair as they fall in love.

The Fire King
Marjorie M. Liu
9780062019868 $7.99

Soria left Dirk and Steele after she killed a man in cold blood though he deserved it. She has not healed mentally since the incident and wants no more field work. However, Roland sends an agent to plead with her in medieval "dead" Welsh to come home to help them on a strange unique case of a man, who speaks a language that no one has ever heard before. He was found alive interred in an ancient tomb. She is the world's foremost linguistic expert as her talent is communication in any language. On the one hand she wants to say no; on the other she is curious.

Soria meets Karr, who states three words in three languages: "Zoufalstvi. Epatoivo. Asa". She knows exactly what he says and quickly realizes he is part of an ancient race of shapeshifters. However, things turn ugly when apparently other shapeshifters exist and need the former son of their late king dead as promised to him and so the "normals" including the psychics will have no proof they exist. As Soria and Karr begin to consider acting on their mutual attraction, trust remains as big of an obstacle as danger from his were-cheetah race who threatens him and his beloved human.

This is a reprint of a terrific D&S tale with an intriguing spin of a "hidden" tribe whose prince is "awakened". The urban fantasy story line is action-packed and filled with that special Marjorie Liu intrigue from the moment Roland's agent Robert speaks several languages with Soria at the Minneapolis airport and uses her unique linguistic talent to get the strong tale soaring. The plot accelerates from there as Soria and Karr fall in love but their journey is long, dangerous and taboo.

The Bed and the Bachelor
Tracy Anne Warren
9780062033055 $7.99

Drake Byron developed codes to help the British conceal secrets from Napoleon's spies. Currently he works on breaking a French code to assist the war effort. In 1813 when his housekeeper abruptly leaves, Drake hires twenty-nine year old Widow Anne Greenway to replace her.

However, Anne is actually an undercover French mathematician Sebastianne Dumont who has been forced to spy on Drake to protect her family. Rather quickly Anne and Drake are attracted to one another. While pressure mounts on her to betray her employer and her heart in order to save her father and siblings, Anne knows what she must do; when she does act, Drake knows what he must do.

The latest Byrons of Braebourne historical romance (see Wicked Delights of a Bridal Bed) features the most unique of the "bad" brood as "mad" intellect Drake (even his mom fears he will blow himself up one day) stars with his female genius counterpart. The espionage romantic Regency story line is fast-paced, contains a few surprising twists, and is supported by the energetic eccentric notorious Byrons; anyone think the French have a chance against this crowd?

The Betrayal
Diane Noble
9780061980947 $12.99

In 1842 Nauvoo, Illinois, Mormon prophet Joseph Smith proclaims God says polygamy is acceptable. He directs married shipbuilder Gabriel MacKay to take a second wife, recently widowed Bronwyn and adopt the Latter's daughter. Though the widow has some doubts as she loves her future husband's first spouse Mary Rose like a sister while also attracted to Gabe, she marries him with the stipulation of no physical contact (see The Sister Wife).

However, increasingly Bronwyn falls in love with her husband who promised to protect her. The second wife struggles with her vow to her beloved Sister Wife who miscarries after a fall. Gabe kisses Bronwyn who feels divided emotionally as she wants more but cannot betray her beloved Mary Rose though she feels her treacherous heart has done so. When Enid announces to Bronwyn she will soon wed Gabe, the second wife has issues with the practice of polygamy as the number of wives per husband grows, the age of the brides drop considerably. On the journey to the Promised Land surrounding the Great Salt Lake that the Prophet saw in a vision, Gabe's first two wives want to escape the marital imprisonment, but Brigham Young has spies everywhere.

The second Brides of Gabriel is an intriguing historical tale that once again looks at polygamy as did The Sister Wife. In the first tale, the relationships in the multiple marriage families displayed an economic underpinning to care for widows and children. The Betrayal provides a fascinating story line that digs deep into the actual practice as brides were increasingly "enslaved" young teens and no one was allowed to speak out against the Word. Americana readers will appreciate this profound tale as The Lord's Prayer inspires us to forgive the trespasses of others, but as the Brides of Gabriel know that is difficult to do.

The Bride Wore Scarlet
Liz Carlisle
9780061965760 $7.99

With loving encouragement from her Nonna Sofia, Anais de Rohan trained with fervor for much of her life to achieve her desire of joining the male exclusive St. James Club. She actually obtains a sponsor though the Earl of Bessett Geoffrey leads the opposition to allowing a female amidst their Fraternitas. However, everyone agrees to a test to ascertain whether Anais is worthy.

Anais pretends to be married to Geoffrey as they travel to Brussels to rescue an abducted child who can see the future. She is stunned by how much he cares what happens to the child; he is stunned by her intelligence and sword play. They are stunned by their attraction to each other but both know the mission comes first as Nonna knows it is in the cards.

The second Victorian romantic fantasy (see One Touch of Scandal) is a fabulous paranormal historical starring two strong individuals. The fast-paced story line grips the reader from the first time the lead couple meets and never loosens that hold until the final confrontations between the lead pair and the villain and between the lead pair. With a fully developed support cast, readers will enjoy this passionate nineteenth century paranormal romance.

A Blight of Mages
Karen Miller
Orbit Books
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780316029223 $25.99

In Dorana, centuries before the Mage War, Barl Linden has incredible talent but is refused advanced training as a student mage by the Council of Mages. She knows her social status prevents her from proper instruction as the Council of Mages limits who is acceptable based on family.

Due to his powerful autocratic father, Morgan Danfey is the youngest mage ever appointed to sit on the Council. He feels a horrific danger will assault Dorana, but since he lacks specificity his warnings are ignored as youthful inanity. Mages like his father insist they can handle any threat. Fearful and desperate he begins to study the forbidden magic that he concludes is the only hope against what he vaguely foresees coming.

When Morgan and Barl meet, each recognizes much in common with the other. They share great magical skill; a belief the rules are too restrictive; and a forbidden attraction.

This is a well written super fantasy that focuses predominantly on the initial meetings between Morgan and Barl prior to their heroics in the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker duology. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action, but driven by the lead couple though there is much more. However, for fans of the saga, A Blight of Mages lacks some of the levels of suspense of the other Mages thrillers because we know what is to come after the events of this prequel. Still in spite of knowing the future, readers will appreciate the salad days of the dynamic duo as Karen Miller affirms her incredible fantasist writing skills with an exciting tale.

Gail Carriger
9780316127196 $7.99

Alpha of the Woolsey werewolf clan, Lord Maccon worries about his eight months pregnant wife Lady Alexia. He is unconcerned about her crankiness and complaints of bunions growing in her womb. His trepidation is whether her Metanatural unborn may be the second known soul stealer. He persuades her friend vampire Lord Akeldama, who's relative Queen Zenobia is the first, to adopt the baby.

When Alexia learns an assassin stalks Queen Victoria, she waddles over to protect her Highness. However, her quest is dangerous as she dodges quills from zombie porcupines, vampires who want her dead, Biffy the werewolf still howling for her mentor Maccon, and the worst her clueless sister Felicity.

The fourth Parasol Protectorate Victorian fantasy (see Soulless, Changeless and Blameless) is a fun at times jocular (especially when the married couple discuss her "bunions") investigative tale. The heroine escorts readers through a different London filled with eccentric otherworldly species not found in a Dickens' novel. Although the story line is thin even with several subplots that never fully gel, fans will enjoy Alexia's pregnant pause as she sets out to protect the Queen.

Eye of the Tempest
Nicole Peeler
9780316128087 $7.99

Hybrid human-selkie Jane True remains in shock over the murder of her mom who vanished from her life years ago. After handling the life threatening Alfar fiasco, she and her lover barghest Anyan return to Rockabill for needed rest and relaxation.

However, Rockabill proves no respite when hired thugs attack them. Anyan barely survives and a raging Jane uses a new power to save their lives, but she falls into a life threatening coma. Her friend Blondie saves her life. When Jane awakens from her comatose state a month later, she finds Rockabill is not what it was when she fell into the coma. Blondie explains that a force that has been dormant has arisen turning the residents into mesmerized puppets; she must open the four locks before hell comes to Rockabill.

The fourth Jane True installment (see Tracking the Tempest) is an engaging urban fantasy as the beleaguered heroine has no time to catch her breath having one life threatening event after another assault her well-being. The story line is action-packed even with Jane's soliloquies while the loving bond between her and the barghest has strengthened. Series fans will enjoy the heroine's latest escapades as she seeks a short time out only to land in the Eye of the Tempest.

Stormlord's Exile
Glenda Larke
9780316069137 $7.99

In Quartern, Shale has succeeded for now in save his people, but achieved the mission partly because Terelle secretly enhanced his skills with her foreign enigmatic magic (see The Stormlord Rising). However, his job is not done as he must supply the water needed by a parched people to survive. The Quartern hierarchy resent this newcomer's sudden rise to the top as the highlords and the waterpriests prefer the people die from a lack of water than see him rise to Stormlord.

The Reduner who thirsts for revenge go after him but with Terelle having his back, defeated them. When Terelle feels the compulsion to cross the desert to go home to fulfill the final episode of the waterpaintings prophecy, Shale fears going alone; but she leaves him enough waterpaintings to keep the land wet until she returns to be with her beloved Shale; that is if they survive the separate assaults on them.

The final Stormlord fantasy is a terrific finish to a strong saga. The couple is strong separately as each has grown since their initial encounters in The Last Stormlord, but much more powerful as a cohesive unit. Loaded with action, readers will relish the politics of water in the Larke realm as some choose deadly drought to maintain or increase their power.

The Key to Creation
Kevin J. Anderson
9780316004237 $15.99

The Uraba and Tierra continue their war with both sides committing atrocities as the religious righteous led respectively by Soldan-Shah Omra and Queen Anjine demand fanatic obedience and the destruction of the enemy. While the hostilities and horrors mount, each country sends forth intrepid explorers sailing at The Edge of the World to the uncharted third continent Terravitae in search of the Key to Creation.

The religious leaders from both nations agree that the possessor of the mythical key will win the combat while the loser becomes extinct. Neither side stops for a moment to analyze what they are doing to themselves and their adversary, nor realize that the Saedrans manipulate each of them to achieve their BHAG completion of the Map of All Things signifying God's return.

With a nod to the Jewel of the Nile, The key to Creation is an action-packed sword and sorcery quest fantasy. The story line is loaded with action, but never quite gels into a cohesive plot as the scenes jump around between the war and the search until late in the game. Still readers will enjoy the final thriller in the Terra Incognito saga especially as Saan and Criston (and fans) learn the key to life while exploring Terravitae.

The Ballad of Tom Dooley
Sharyn McCrumb
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312558178 $24.99

Just after the Civil War ended in Wilkes County, North Carolina, former Confederate soldier Tom Dula was arrested for the murder of his fiancee Lucy Foster. He and his former lover married Ann Melton were accused of killing Lucy. Former North Carolina Governor Zebulon Vance is released from the Capitol Prison to defend Dula. However, Pauline Foster the servant girl is a powerful witness for the prosecution. From the day he was jailed until he was finally hung, Dula insisted he was innocent though at the end he protected his beloved Ann who was acquitted. Vance wonders whether an innocent man, Lucy's killer or a love sick accomplice abetting his beloved hung on that fatal day.

This is an incredible one sitting historical thriller that will stun readers with the revelations as Sharyn McCrumb, known for her Elizabeth McPherson Appalachia mysteries, tells the legendary Ballad of Tom Dooley. With the help of scholars and other locals, the author pieced together what really happened in 1866 and presents it in this great novelization. Ms. McCrumb may have written the Americana historical thriller of the year.

40 Love
Madeleine Wickham
9780312562755 $25.99

In Bowdon, England, finance advisor Patrick Chance and his wife Caroline host a weekend of tennis with three other couples and their kids at their luxurious estate. Their daughter Georgina looks forward to the party. Wealthy Charles and Cressida Mobyn arrive with their nanny and their twin children; Patrick wants to sell him an investment package. PH.D. candidate Stephen and Anne Fairweather arrive with daughter Nicola who suffered a debilitating stroke and their son Toby. Finally Don Roper and his daughter Valerie also show up.

Patrick looks back to when he, Charles and Ella smoked pot until the latter two broke up as a couple. Patrick mentions his investment fund to Charles who says he has no money to invest. Patrick wants 100,000 pounds while Charles offers 5K as a friend. They are angry at each other while Stephen envies both. Patrick and Stephen talk about the investment. The former persuades the latter to take out a new mortgage to invest. Anne and Caroline chat like old buddies. Cressida opens a letter that shocks her. Ella arrives, which shocks Caroline and the others. Caroline lectures Patrick over conning Stephen who is a friend and cannot afford the investment. Charles and Ella take a walk. They have sex before Charles returns to the room he shares with his wife. He reads the letter and explodes in anger.

This contemporary British family drama is a timely reprint (written as Sophie Kinsella) of an entertaining character study in which the ensemble cast has different personalities and interrelationships solidly developed. Although there is too much angst, fans of family dramas will enjoy the four subgroups deal with relationship and financial crisis.

Under the Dog Star
Sandra Parshall
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590588789 $24.95

In Mason County, Virginia feral dogs apparently ripped the throat of Dr. Gordon Hall. However, deputy sheriff Tom Bridger has doubts that a wild pack murdered Hall; he believes a human handler had his or her canine kill the victim as a part of an illegal dog fighting operation. However proving his assertion and finding the real culprit appears impossible though he looks closely at the dysfunctional family of the victim. The outraged locals plan to hunt down the packs even as dog-napping has arisen in the county.

At the same, Tom's girlfriend veterinarian Rachel Goddard and her assistant Holly Turner try to prevent the canine massacre from occurring while their clinic wall has been posted by Missing Dog pleas. They end up in the middle of Tom's investigation while the local dog fighting ring chief watches them carefully in case they need to join Hall.

With a nod to the Michael Vick conviction, the latest Rachel Goddard amateur sleuth (see The Heat of the Moon and Broken Places) is a superb thriller that focuses on animal abuse inside of a strong whodunit. The story line is action-packed with a strong mystery, but it is the description of the maltreatments of animals, whose images at times overwhelms the heroine, her assistant and the readers, and will remain in our memories long after the climax.

Crack in Everything
Angela Gerst
Poisoned Pen
9781590589441 $24.95

In Waltham, Massachusetts attorney Susan Callisto becomes a political consultant. Susan finds her clients to be pieces of work as she holds Roddie Baird's hand as he needs help with everything he does. At the same Callisto practices law helping restaurant owner Nino Biondi in a suit with his landlord Peter Lombard.

However, her third client Charles "Chaz" Renfro offers her $20,000 to help him in a last second run for the office of the mayor of Telford. However, her three clients are difficult enough, but the murder of Renfro's assistant Tori Moran and assaults on Biondi and Callisto make her wonder if she gave up more than just financial security when she left the prestigious Boston law firm. Her former boyfriend State Detective Lieutenant Michael Benedict investigates the homicide and the attacks.

The first Susan Callisto amateur sleuth is an entertaining twisting tale as each time the heroine feels she is about to solve the situation, a new spin occurs. Fast-paced with a strong protagonist and solid support cast, fans will enjoy the political consultant learning a "You Can't Take It With You" lesson about money, power and clients.

Murder In The 11th House
Mitchell Scott Lewis
Poisoned Pen
9781590589502 $24.95

In Manhattan David Lowell runs Starlight Detective Agency. His best source for during an inquiry is using astrology charts; even his broker sells or buys when David tells him his order.

His daughter Melinda enters his office just before closing. Without a hello, she hires him. Melinda explains that as the most junior associate at her law firm, she is stuck with a pro bono case. Bartender Johnny Colbert has been charged with the murder of Lower Manhattan Debt Claims Judge Farrah Winston. She hands her dad her acrimonious uncooperative client's birth chart, which he analyzes like a real Sherlock Holmes enhancing the likely facts with an astrology reading. Though the case is shut and closed, he and his team (Sarah the office assistant Sarah, Mort the hacker and Andy the bodyguard/driver) begin to find cracks as he seeks a killer's "Mercury in retrograde" mistake.

Murder In The 11th House is a fun lighthearted paranormal Manhattan murder mystery starring a brilliant idiosyncratic protagonist and his eccentric team. With a nod to Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes and Victoria Laurie's Psychic Eye series, this entertaining story line contains astrological references throughout that add uniqueness to the sleuthing. It is in the stars that readers will enjoy our first but not last visit to the Starlight Detective Agency.

Dead Man's Switch
Tammy G. Kaehler
Poisoned Pen
9781590588819 $24.95

Freelance driver Kate Reilly hopes to hook up with a racing team at the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) circuit. She arrives very early at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut for the Fourth of July New England Grand Prix in case someone needs a late replacement driver. As she gets out of her vehicle she sees the corpse of Corvette driver Wade Becker.

Police Detective Jolley interrogates Kate as if he suspects she killed the victim. She realizes in his mind she had the employment motive; others on the circuit assume the same thing as she and Becker becomes a gossip entry. Kate wants to prove her innocence so she investigates only to affirm what she knew about Becker; that many people loathed him.

This is a super racing amateur sleuth that works as a delightful whodunit, but it is the insight into life at the track that brings the freshness. The story line is fast-paced as readers will believe they are strapped in the Corvette while Kate takes us around the track. Racing fans or not, readers will enjoy Kate's insightful tour of the circuit while she also investigates who murdered Becker.

Damage Control
Denise Hamilton
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9780743296748 $26.00

In 2009 in Los Angeles thirtyish middle class Maggie Silver works for Blair Company crisis management firm. Her clients include the rich and famous up and down the Pacific Coast Highway while her job description is insuring the spin favors her firm's affluent customers.

The firm's Jack Faraday assigns Maggie and others to work with U. S. Senator Henry Paxton. When she was a teen she was best friends with his daughter Anabelle, but they no longer talk to each other following a tragedy. Maggie wants out but has no choice but to be part of the team as she supports her ailing mom. Paxton's assistant twentyish media director Emily Mortimer was found dead; the senator is the last known person to have seen her at a bar at midnight.

This is an exhilarating suspense thriller in which justice is irrelevant as the truth does not matter; only how good the spin is. Character driven by Maggie, as an adult she struggles with her memories of an idyllic time that she begins to wonder how Eden it truly was. Readers will appreciate Damage Control as the wealthy use experts to spin the media to tell the story their way.

Flash and Bones
Kathy Reichs
9781439102411 $26.99

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

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

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

Liquid Smoke
Jeff Shelby
Tyrus Books
c/o F+W Media
4700 East Galbraith Road
Cincinnati, OH 45236
9781935562399 $24.95

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

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

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

Screams and Whispers
Randall Peffer
Tyrus Books
c/o F+W Media
4700 East Galbraith Road
Cincinnati, OH 45236
9781935562368 $24.95

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

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

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

The Gentlemen's Hour
Don Winslow
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781439183397 $25.00

Private investigator Boone Daniels prefers surfing at San Diego's Pacific Beach than working a case. So he wonders how come he has two investigations in the middle of August as he learns a friend in need is a pest.

His board riding buddy Dan Nichols fears his beautiful wife Donna the eleven (on a scale of ten) is having an affair. Dan wants Boone to conduct surveillance on his spouse. His new maybe girlfriend lawyer Petra Hall wants to hire him as the investigator on her defense of accused killer teenage Corey Blasingame, son of a wealthy La Jolla realtor. Her client confessed to killing surfing legend Kelly "Uncle K" Kuhio and admits ties to the neo-Nazi Rockpile Crew of gangster surfers. His two cases converge even as the drug cartel threatens to push the surfers from the ocean.

Don Winslow's latest Daniel's private investigative thriller is a terrific not very mellow tale that focuses on several interlocking avaricious subcultures competing for the beach. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with plenty of violent action. Using the vernacular of the surfing culture to anchor the locale, readers will enjoy the Dawn Patrol giving way to The Gentleman's Hour even when the Pacific behaves like a Kansas.

Will Lavender
Simon & Schuster
9781451617290 $25.00

In 1994 in Vermont, Jasper College hires literature Professor Richard Aldiss to teach an undergraduate class Unraveling a Literary Mystery. Using closed circuit TV Aldiss will conduct the class from his prison cell where he serves two life sentences for murdering two female grad students twelve years ago. Aldiss assigns his student with identifying who reclusive author Paul Fallows is. Fallows has written two novels containing clues to who he is, but to achieve a chance at success means understanding the game Procedure. One of the students Alex Shipley not only achieves the objective, she proves her incarcerated professor could not have killed the students.

Several years later someone kills one of the nine students who participated in Unraveling a Literary Mystery using the same M.O. as the homicides that placed Aldiss in prison. Harvard Professor Alex returns to Jasper to investigate who the murderer is.

Rotating between 1994 and the present and enhanced by references to the 1980s homicides, readers will enjoy this suspense thriller. The cast is especially solid with obviously the leads being the game playing enigmatic Aldiss and the genius Shipley. However, a critical late revelation about Aldiss seems inane for such a brilliant mind though emphasizing the gamester personality but to me detracts from an otherwise exciting whodunit then and now.

Jeanne C. Stein
Ace Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780441020775 $7.99

In Mission Beach, SDPD Detective Harris visits Anna Strong over odd anomalies involving two hundred year old DNA found in the fiery death of his late boss Warren Williams. She knows she is the "Chosen One" (see Retribution). However, she needs a little time to accept her destiny and grieve the loss of her mentor and the betrayal of her late lover. However, the battle against Chael the vampire is still on as the ancient one challenges her position as he believes vampires belong at the top of the food chain not roaches scurrying for food.

Anna's former human lover Drug Enforcement Agent Max asks for her help to end the murderous terror of a rogue vampire. This Undead transports people across the Mexican border, but once stateside he drains the blood from his human cargo. Her partner David has found out some information about his lost weekend that Anna would prefer he not remember. Anna confronts Chael who implies he knows how she can return to being human, her fondest desire. To do so Anna must locate a Navajo shaman living as a hermit on a reservation. Chael also makes Anna realize he knows shapeshifter Daniel Frey has a young son that Anna fears the vampire or something else will target.

This is an enjoyable Anna Strong, Vampire urban fantasy as the heroine's life keeps getting increasingly complicated. Besides dealing with vampires like Chael, the human trafficker and the late chief's wife, she also has issues with humans like Harris and David. However, this is nothing compared to what awaits the hero on the Navaho Nation.

Blood Rules
Christine Cody
9780441020768 $7.99

Her werewolf has increasingly tried to take control of Mariah Lysander. At the same her vampire bond mate Gabriel loathes Mariah for killing his beloved Abby though the latter challenged the former for her place in the secret werewolf community hierarchy. So fearing she is becoming out of control and knowing how her mate feels about her, Mariah leaves the safe were-species habitat.

Mariah hopes to control the beast. She travels the American wasteland where water is the most precious commodity. At the same time she enters a dead zone necropolis of the diseased and meets 562, a former government Shredder Johnson Stamp who stalks the Were and Vamps with one mission: kill them.

This exhilarating return to the post-apocalyptic American Bloodlands is a super action-packed entry as readers will ponder just who the monsters are. Angst-laden with Mariah feeling guilty for some of her deeds and Subject 562 seeking redemption of sorts, fans will enjoy this exciting thriller. Rotating perspective mostly between Mariah, Gabriel and Stamp, readers will see how the trio agree that Christine Cody's color of choice is a gory landscape from sea to bloody sea.

Home Improvement: Undead Edition
Edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner
9780441020355 $26.95

This fourteen urban fantasy anthology are tongue in cheek tales that humorously lampoons the sub-genre and self help guides. All the entries are lighthearted fun as the readers leans the true meaning of bump in the night. The editors book end the collection as Charlaine Harris opens with Sookie greeted by a newcomer when a wall comes down in "If I Had a Hammer"; while Toni L.P. Kelner finishes the book with "In Brightest Day" in which raising the dead Gorrfried proves difficult as he keeps getting dead. Elyna "Gray " (Patricia Brigg's learns you can't go home to renovate in Chicago. Broahm calls "Wizard Home Security" (by Victor Gichler) when someone broke into his home. In New Orleans, Defeo goes home to find pig's "Blood on the Walls" of the family tombs by Heather Graham. The European knows he needs to change his GPS now that he is in the American Midwest's Switzerland Wisconsin learning first hand about "Woolsey's Kitchen Nightmare" by E. E. Knight. All the entries are enjoyable humorous Home Improvement tales that Tim Taylor would appreciate the paranormal power tools.

Ann Aguirre
9780441020782 $7.99

Sirantha Jax saved the galaxy from total annihilation from the invading flesh-eating Morgut armada. To do so, she disobeyed orders and destroyed the grimspace beacons that enabled interstellar jumps and six hundred Conglomerate soldiers died (see Killbox).

Jax manages to return from grimspace, but is arrested for dereliction of duty, desertion, mass murder and high treason. If convicted on any of these charges she will be executed. Adding to her sense of isolation, her friends and allies are not allowed to visit her. She knows she has no chance of acquittal as almost no one believes the Morgut threat now that it is over. However, Jax knows if she survives her trial, she must find a way to liberate the Lorcas as pledged by her.

This is a great science fiction tale in a strong series as the heroine disobeyed a direct command in Killbox and must pay the price for her actions. The overarching theme moves forward as several subplots end while Sirantha Jax knows saving her galaxy is not enough to keep her from being haunted by her decision to kill six hundred of her comrades in arms or being potentially spaced if the jury verdict is guilty. The trial is handled deftly providing a refreshing legal procedural subplot to a powerful outer space thriller as anyone who visits the Ann Aguirre universe knows is an entertaining exciting realm.

Those Across The River
Christopher Buehlman
9780441020676 $24.95

Former University of Michigan professor Frank Nichols accompanied by his almost wife Eudora travels from Chicago to Whitbrow, Georgia where he inherited a yellow house from an Aunt Dottie McComb whom he never knew existed. Dora dubs the place The Canary House. Frank plans to write the definitive historical about his family's Savoyard Plantation to include the atrocities that occurred there while Dora dislikes the idea of bringing literarily life to his late malevolent great grandfather.

Frank and Dora find they enjoy the quiet friendliness of the townsfolk. Then the trouble begins as it has in past generations. Something evil is killing people. Frank and other locals vow to find out who or what and end the reign of terror that has waited dormant at Savoyard Plantation for Frank to arrive to pay a family blood debt.

This is an exciting horror thriller that starts slow and meanders a bit as the local area is established. Once the rural Georgia background, which will remind readers of James Dickey's Deliverance even with tea socials, is set, the action-packed story line accelerates as the evil comes to collect. Frank holds the plot together as the prime focus of the dreaded malevolence.

Christine Cody
9780441020621 $7.99

America has become an archipelago of isolated islands of human sanctuaries unsafe to leave because roaming most of the sea to shining sea landscape is supernatural beasts. The central government-sort of remains in charge mostly through proxies; Shredders hunt the monsters who own much of the country.

In the Badlands, Gabriel the vampire arrives at a refuge camp of human desert survivors as Stamp and his vile gang threatens these trapped rats. PTSD sufferer Mariah Lyander trusts no one except her companion Chaplain the Intel Dog. Though it goes against human nature to allow a stranger sanctuary, she reluctantly lets Gabriel dying at her door stay in her shelter to heal. Her kind act irks her raging neighbors who accuse her of violating the First Commandment of thou shall offer no sustenance to strangers. Meanwhile he conceals his vampiric nature and his attraction to his host, but steadfastly protects her from the rats who assault her refuge. He does not know that a fanatical diligent Shredder seeks out vampires in the Badlands.

The Bloodlands is a super first act as Christine Cody establishes her bleak world in which humans are cramped like prisoners in a small oasis. For instance Mariah rarely leaves her abode using cameras to see what is happening just outside her door; that is how she first saw Gabriel. Readers will understand why agoraphobia is common as the outside is lethal. With a nod the Frankenstein, Ms. Cody will have her fans reconsidering just who the monster is in this dark bloody future.

Black Night
Christina Henry
9781937007065 $7.99

Agent of Death, Madeline Black guides souls as the deceased pass from one existence to the next. Maddy is notified where and when to provide her service, but recently Chicago has been hit with unscheduled gruesome homicides of werewolves that are outside of the normal celestial pact.

Maddy, her friend Beezle the donut eating gargoyle and her daddy assigned bodyguard Gabriel investigate. They learn that the son of a dead nephilim seeks revenge against the Agent of death who killed his parent. As Maddy hunts this Samiel, her two companions vanish. Complicating life for Maddy in her search for her friends is her paternal grandfather who demands she negotiate a new deal for his clan with the fae. The last Fallen Angel sent by Lucifer to the Fairy Court literally lost his head.

The second Agent of Death urban fantasy (see Black Wings) is a fabulous investigative thriller; as the heroine finds out that sometimes you get what you wish for now that she knows her dad is neither dead nor a deadbeat. The fulfillment has second and third order effects with the rise of new enemies as Lucifer's foes use original sin against her. Filled with action fans will enjoy touring Chicago as Christina Henry provides a dark joyride with the donut munching Beezle providing jocularity before he vanishes.

A Soldier's Duty
Jean Johnson
9780441020638 $7.99

On the Planet Sanctuary lives fifteen years old powerful psychic Ia, who is able to slip in and out of the time stream at will. However, she also has uncontrollable visions. One of them is of invaders destroying the Milky Way galaxy leaving no one alive. All streams lead to this occurring except for one remote possibility. If she takes the steps she will possibly prevent the pandemic catastrophe.

Her first stop is enlisting in the Terran United Planets military Space Force, which she does when she turns eighteen. Knowing what the future will be, she has to insure some events happen in a certain way. She is an extemporary recruit; the best in her class performing extraordinary deeds like tracking down a criminal from her peers who went AWOL after stunning the rest of the class and the sergeants. After graduation, Ia is assigned to the spaceship Liu Ji where she is made a corporal. Ia proves to be a great soldier saving lives, rescuing a ship from pirates and going the extra kilometer to keep her crew mates safe from a criminal consortium.

Readers who enjoy the Valor Military Space Opera series by Tanya Huff will want to read this epic. Ia is the glue that holds the exciting story line together as a soldier performing her duty yet with an agenda caused by her precog powers that has her trying to prevention the cataclysm from occurring though if it happens it will not be in her lifetime. She understands the true credo of A Soldier's Duty as she is an example of courage and honor performing selfless service to keep people safe. Jean Johnson had created a brilliant space opera that will have readers eagerly turning the pages until they reach the end and will eagerly await the next book in this enthralling series.

Prince of Thorns
Mark Lawrence
9780441020324 $25.95

When Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath was ten years old, Count Renar's soldiers murdered his mother and younger brother, and hung him from briar patch thorns to watch them die. Raging with vengeance, he joins an outlaw gang. Less than four years later, he becomes the chief of the gang.

However, Jorg has goals beyond the gang. He plans within a year to sit rightfully on the throne. To do this he must end the civil war by reuniting the empire under his rule. The time to kill Count Renar and those who executed his loved ones is at hand. However, betrayal and dark magic awaits the former prince who would be emperor.

The first Broken Empire thriller is a dark gritty fantasy starring a pragmatic protagonist who kills without remorse; a lesson his uncle taught him. With the help of a kindred blood thirsty spirit, Jorg's quest for the throne is not for anyone with a weak stomach. Mark Lawrence portrays a realistic landscape as in many ways the "hero" is as brutal as the villain yet whether one describes Jorg as the lesser of two evils or not he is the glimmer of hope.

Monster Hunter Alpha
Larry Correia
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781439134580 $7.99

Monster Hunter International Chief Earl Harbinger conceals a secret from his subordinates. Born in 1900 as Raymond Earl Shackleford Jr.; a little under a hundred years ago, he became a werewolf. In spite of becoming a monster of sorts, Earl has dedicated his life to protect mankind just like his dad the greatest Hunter ever.

Earl becomes deeply concerned to learn former KGB werewolf Nikolai killed a deputy sheriff in Copper Lake, Michigan. He knows his long time adversary is ruthless and has nasty business for him to be in the States. The MHI leader also realizes that he and Stalin's favorite agent must hunt each other until only one is left howling as the Monster Control Bureau will not be able to deal with this evil. However, Earl is unaware that the reason his deadly foe is in Michigan is for the creation of a lethal werewolf species.

The third Monster Hunter urban fantasy (see Monster Hunter International and Monster Hunter Vendetta) is a fun thriller that is purposely hyperbolically over the top of Mount Arvon. The story line is fast-paced with the audience anticipating the confrontation between these former Cold war adversaries. Earl as a werewolf superhero holds the plot focused while Stalin's Pet Nikolai is a fabulous supervillain enemy. Mano a Mano, fans will enjoy the fab High Noon combat in the aptly named Wolverine State.

Loose Cannon
David Drake
9781439134504 $15.00

Skyripper. Soviet Union physicist Emil Vlasov concludes that aliens will attack the aliens. He knows his country cannot defeat the enemy, but the Americans with his help could if he can persuade them of his contention. Espionage agent Tom Kelly receives the information, vowing to insure the outer space invaders are defeated though he leaves dead anyone trying to prevent his achieving the objective in a timely manner.

Fortress. In 1965 President Kennedy builds construction of the Fortress space station to prevent major wars especially nuclear from happening and to thwart hostile aliens from space. In Turkey, an alien corpse is found; coupled with evidence from the Soviet Union has espionage agent Tom Kelly fearing the space station may start WWIII while he also believes alien invaders are coming.

The reprint of two late 1980s over the top of Olympus Mons Tom Kelly science fiction thrillers contains more blood than a bank and somewhat feels its age. Still these James Bond vs. aliens and Communists thrillers are fun to read.

Circle of Enemies
Harry Connolly
Del Rey
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345508911 $7.99

The Twenty Palace Society of sorcerers kept car thief and amateur magician Ray Lilly from prison time. In return he provides the mages with non-magical support mostly manual labor.

Ray receives an enigmatic message from a friend that sends him rushing to Los Angeles. Magic has hammered his former car ring associates. They hold him culpable because the sorcerer who cast the deadly enchantment is Wally King who blackmailed him into becoming the pawn of the Twenty Palace Society. Ray searches for the magical source in order to save his friends' lives while increasingly doubting the motives of his puppeteers who claim they save the world from other dimensional monsters while he has killed innocent people for them.

The final Twenty Palaces urban fantasy thriller (see Child of Fire and Game of Cages) is a great morality tale as the protagonist struggles between duty and honor with the weight of the dead innocents he has killed making the tale. Remorseful Ray understands the mission of the Society is to protect the world from magical predators, but wonders who will protect the world from the Society as collateral damage is an acceptable practice. Fast-paced and loaded with action, Ray's timely and angst ethical dilemma (think of drones in the war against terrorism) makes for a great tale.

C.E. Murphy
Del Rey
9780345516077 $15.00

Dafydd ap Caerwyn the elf from the Faerie Barrow-lands sought in the mortal realm a Truthseeker, a person who could tell veracity from lies. He finds her in Boston; Lara Jansen agrees to help him determine who killed his brother Merrick. A witness says he committed fratricide, but he knows he is innocent. It turns out that Merrick was responsible and the witness saw an illusion. A severely injured Dafydd is sent back to his world in the hopes that the healers there who use magic can cure his injuries.

Lara follows him from earth and discovers he was near death and the healers couldn't help him so he was placed in the Drowned Lands in the vague hope he might heal. Lara and Aerin the elf woman go there to ascertain whether Dafydd was healed. Before they reach him the sea god Lyr informs her she might find her beloved if she passes the trials and when they do they find Daffyd alive he learns Merrick will go to any lengths to get what he wants. The trio must get back to Dafydd's father before Merrick reaches him, but instead they find themselves back on earth.

The direct sequel to Truthseeker is an outstanding urban fantasy that effortlessly moves back and forth between the two planes. In the Barrow-lands, the Seelie and Unseelie are on the brink of a civil war due to the latter believing that the former drowned their lands. The stay in Boston is disastrous but they can't fix what was destroyed as time is running out with Barrow-land royal rules dictating the politics. C.E. Murphy provides a strong voice as the truth may set Daffyd free but at what cost?

The Measure of the Magic
Terry Brooks
Del Rey
9780345484208 $27.00

For five centuries the survivors of the Great Wars (see the Genesis of Shannara saga) lived in peace and harmony. Magic hid their haven from the devastated and lethal rest of the world. However, recently the magical barriers have failed and outside malevolent forces have invaded the valley.

Sider Ament possesses the last black staff of power. He has lived his life protecting those in the valley. Now as he is near death, Sider gives the powerful black staff to young tracker Panterra Qu, the recently chosen Knight of the Word. Panterra must defend the sanctuary against evil trolls though he has no idea how to use the staff. At the same time someone assassinated the Arborlon Elf king with his daughter Princess Phryne Amarantyne accused of patricide. Finally Panterra faces a nameless ruthless killer who lives to take the black staff from the corpse of the current owner.

The Measure of the Magic is an exciting Shannara's prehistory fantasy, but saga fans must read the previous entry (see Bearers of the Black Staff) to fully comprehend how the magical walls came crumbling down. The story line is fast-paced with Panterra a fascinating protagonist who reminds this reviewer of when a dying Abin Sur "gives" the ring to chosen Hal Jordan (see Showcase comic book 22) as neither feel worthy. Loaded with action, Terry brooks provides a strong entry in his enthralling epic series.

Kevin Hearne
Del Rey
9780345522481 $7.99

In Tempe, Arizona Atticus O'Sullivan enjoys life to the fullest except when the Irish Gods locate him as they want to execute him for some affront or two or more he made over his twenty-one centuries of life. The last known Druid would like just drink beer or whiskey and eat fish and chips with friends like Jesus, but he muses some enemies never forgive.

He currently wants to kick his naked butt for promising Lakasha that he would stealthy visit Asgard to steal an apple. That would be enough problems, but his pal Viking vampire Leif Helgarson asks for his help in assassinating the abusive Thor. Jesus and Morrigan warn Atticus to stick to suds rather than mess with a raging god who shoots bolts, but his promise means he must act at the same the Russian demon hunters Hammers of God are making Arizona a dangerous place to be.

The Third iron Druid Chronicles (see Hexed and Hounded) continues the fun escapades of the antihero who just wants to drink beer and dine on Jesus' fish and chips, but lands in one predicament after another because his word is golden. The satirical urban fantasy lampoons testosterone heroes as they get into a penis contest to determine who the female amongst them is; the "loser" washes the dishes and serves the drinks. Atticus keeps the plot focused as he ignores the warnings of his deity friends and his canine buddy to fulfill a promise that could end his two millennia plus existence. This is a great series as no god walks away unscathed in Kevin Hearne's vision of Arizona, home for a lot of illegal deities and other unlawful paranormal immigrants.

Blood Work
Kim Harrison
Del Rey
9780345521019 $23.00

In Cincinnati, four decades since the Turn, Inderland Security polices the no-humans. Working for I.S. Ivy Tamwood is irate over her demotion from homicide to street cop and working for a low blood Denon the ghoul. She turns livid when Denon introduces her to her new partner Rachel Morgan the earth witch. Besides not wanting to work with a witch, Ivy also loathes babysitting the new runner.

Denon assigns the pair with running down drug dealers. Under a bridge, Rachel talks with Sharps the troll about the nearby corpse of a werewolf. The hit looks like that of a master vampire. While Ivy says not their problem, Rachel insists they investigate. They get into a bit of a tangle and Ivy finds she wants to taste the witch's blood. However, Ivy knows she underestimates her newbie partner when the witch fights back and points out the killer is not a vamp bit a powerful witch. She further explains someone is using dark magic, but erred with the werewolf sacrifice in human form. The pair begins to investigate though knowing Denon will counsel them.

This Hollows graphic novel is a great urban fantasy that tells the tale of the first meeting and patrol/case between the witch and the vampire. The story line contains the essence of the series, but enhanced by the excellent muted colored illustrations of Pedro Maia and Gemma Magno. Fans of the Hollows will appreciate Kim Harrison's wonderful first encounter as angry Ivy and goody two shoes Rachel bare their "fangs" at each other and some nasty inhuman slime.

Kirsten Imani Kasai
Del Rey
9780345508829 $15.00

Submarine engineer Morig conceals the fact that he/she is a Trader, a type of the human-inhuman DNA blending who shifts between genders. Sorykah knows how difficult hiding one's natural state is as the body types of Sorykah and Soryk are different and the two personalities distinct. Complicating matters is only one persona exists at a time.

Meanwhile Queen Sidra and her Erun Forest allies killed the evil Matuk the Collector, head of the malevolent evil Tirai Industries (see Ice Song). Matuk's death impacts everyone on the planet. Sorykah and Soryk battle each other for full control of the body they share. She wants to raise her twin infants she rescued from Matuk while he waits the birth of his child, which will kill the mother Queen Sidra. Under the southern ice continent Sigue lays the ancient gods like Diabolo whose descendants the octameroons contain venom that Matuk's cruel son Chen introduces as an addictive drug that is tattooed on the skin. The two sides of the sub engineer need each other, but remain hostile. Diabolo begins to awaken threatening climate change with the melting of the ice.

Soryk/ah is a fascinating protagonist and antagonist as much of the fight is within her/his mind and body. The complex story line contains a futuristic extrapolation of scientific research especially genetics combined with the trends of the global government-military-industrial complex, which insures control of the masses through addictions and profound proclamations such as global-warming is faith based while creationism is science. Action-packed and thought provoking this is an engaging science fiction thriller with fantasy elements

The Last Four Things
Paul Hoffman
c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor
New York, NY 10014-3657
9780525952183 $25.95

The cruel Redeemer warrior monks capture acolyte Thomas Cale who had escaped from their Sanctuary. No one leaves the Redeemers. Meanwhile the Redeemers continue to indoctrinate and train their young males as expendable foot soldiers to fight their enemy the Antagonists.

Redeemer Bosco sees special skills In Cale. He trains the lad personally to become the Angel of Death who will end the world. Over time Cale becomes a famous military leader who takes the fight to the enemy winning victory after victory as he closes in on the Redeemer vision of humanity's extinction. However, in spite of his fame, he never moved pass the betrayal of his beloved Arbell Materazzi.

The sequel to The Left Hand of God is a fascinating action-packed quest fantasy as readers learn more of the Redeemer philosophy based on The Last Four Things in life start with death and eternal judgment on the worthlessness of mankind and the worthiness (or not) of a human. In spite of all the escapades confronting "I'm not worthy" (with a nod to Wayne's World) Cale, the overarching plot moves very little yet is well worth reading by those who perused the first entry.

Spell Bound
Kelley Armstrong
9780525952206 $25.95

Her DNA spells trouble for others as kick-butt twentyish six foot witch Savannah Levine takes no prisoners. However, she just worked her first paranormal case as a private investigator in Columbus, Washington (see Waking the Witch), but has a problem to overcome if she is to remain in the business. She has lost her supernatural power while a deadly witch-hunter stalks her.

Savannah refuses to quit as she had an adrenaline rush from solving the paranormal serial killer case. She plans to use normal detecting skills and assistance from her half-demon BF Adam Vasic. First she must deal with the hunter and find a way to regain the magic taken from her. The case leads her to Supernaturals who plan to step out of the shadows and overtly use their power.

This is an enjoyable entry in the Otherworld saga (see Waking the Witch) as the focus remains on a rapidly maturing Savannah even with a large diverse "species" support cast. The heroine keeps the storyline anchored as she works an investigation, deals with her lost power and prepares to fight a hunter. Although the enemy is not as powerful as most adversaries in this thrilling urban fantasy series, the overarching Otherworld theme moves forward as fans will relish this deep look at the protagonist who is no longer a petulant teen while the anticipating the war to end wars.

The Shadow Men
Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780553386578 $7.99

In Boston, Jim awakens to find his wife Jenny and their daughter Holly vanished. More than just disappearing, there is no evidence that either female ever existed as no pictures or personnel items remains in their abode and even his cell phone fails to contain their contact information.

In near paralyzing shock, Jim asks around amongst their friends and family, but no one knows Jenny or Holly. That is except Trix. With Trix at his side, Jim contacts the Oracle of Boston. They are stunned with what they learn. In a previous century, the sorcery of the then Oracle placed Boston in three distinct dimensions at the same time. Jim's family is in one of the other two. As Jim and Trix consider what to do to find Jenny and Holly, Jim realizes his paintings are of another Boston and Trix knows her dreams are likewise.

The fourth Hidden Series thriller (see Mind the Gap in London, The Map of Moments in New Orleans and The Chamber of Ten in Venice) is an exciting entry that grips the reader from the moment Jim wakes up to find his family missing and never loosens the hold until the climax. The story line is incredibly packed with action to rival a Liam Neeson movie like Taken or Unknown. However, all the constant escapades never allow any of the cast to fully develop; even the beleaguered protagonist seems pulled by the adventures piling one after another and the doppelgangers appear as interchangeable as if naturing is much more influential than nurturing. Still fans who relish an adrenaline pumping thriller will want to tour Bean Town with Jim and Trix as our guides.

The Difference Engine
William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
9780440423621 $16.00

In 1855 as the Industrial Revolution continues to pollute the big cities of England, Charles Babbage creates the steam driven analytical engine. The Luddites learn of this incredible advancement and vow to destroy this new use of technology that heralds the beginning of the Information Revolution. Mick Radley obtains key perforated cards, but when he is murdered the cards pass to his girlfriend Sybil Gerard who deals with General Houston and the Texian.

Prime Minister Lord Byron's daughter Ada obtains the cards, but soon scientist Edward Mallory possesses the cards, but needs the Babbage analytical engine to read them. The Luddites attack him and his name. Eventually detective Lawrence Oliphant, who is dying from syphilis, investigates the mystery of the cards.

The 20th Anniversary Edition of this complicated alternate history thriller shows the novel holds up well against the test of time as the London of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling remains an intriguing locale. Although the overall fast-paced plot decelerates at times especially in the middle of the Third Iteration and the finish not up to the complex story line, The Difference Engine is an engaging mystery set in a steampunk Victorian environment. With a Modus adding insight, sub-genre fans will enjoy this reprint.

Cherie Priest
9780345520623 $15.00

Vampire thief Raylene Pendle is hired to steal magical bones. To Raylene this is an easy job until she meets up with a certifiable witch wanting the same artifacts. The insane hag shoots lightning at her. Raylene dodges the sorcery attack.

Residing with Raylene in her Seattle home is the blind vampire Ian Stott and the former Navy SEAL turned drag queen Adrian deJesus. When Ian's sire dies, unknown adversaries attack the blind vampire. Besides battling a psychopath witch over some bones and investigating the murder of Ian's sire, Raylene with Adrian at her side must keep the sightless vamp safe while also keeping the various vampire houses from ripping open the throats of her and her two housemates.

The second Raylene Pendle urban fantasy noir (see Bloodshot) is a jocular thriller told mostly in the first person by the roguish protagonist, whose asides as a bloodsucking thief and discerning politically incorrect analysis of the houses vampire make for a fun tale. The fast-paced story line grips the reader who will find Pendle's peril enjoyable but also realize the overarching conspiratorial theme fails to move forward.

Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett
9780553807707 $26.00

The Volstov Dragon Corps was disestablished and the dragon riders decommissioned following their significant help in defeating the Ke-Han. With the heroics being yesterday's news, the unit's warriors seek employment. Former Chief Sergeant Adamo the professor, Laure the Amazon, her fiery cross dresser mate Coverer, and Balfour the diplomat in training to use his steel hands agree to search for Gareth.

None expected the quest for a missing student to take them where it does. They find the assembly of new mechanical dragons infused with taboo blood magic. Apparently the Volstov Sear is forming a new Dragon Corps, which violates the peace accords with the Ke-Han. Adamo fears a second war is imminent once the former enemy learns the truth.

The latest Volstov military fantasy (see Have mercy, Shadow Magic, and Dragon Soul) is an engaging thought provoking tale that rotates perspective between the four prime players. Though for the most part there is limited action, the story line cleverly looks at what happens after the war is over and the treaty signed. General McArthur's "Old soldiers never die; they just fade away" comes to mind with a coda of until the next war calls them back to duty. When they discover the major violation of the treaty by their side each wonders whether Naval Captain Stephen Decatur's "My country right or wrong" is appropriate. Although the story line can turn ponderous with each pondering what to do, fans will enjoy this creative cerebral thriller.

The Ronin's Mistress
Laura Joh Rowland
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312658526 $24.99

In 1703 Edo, forty-seven ronin samurai arrive at the estate of the Shogun Tsunayoshi's master of ceremonies Kira Yoshinaka. Though the shogun had declared no vendetta, in an act of revenge for turning them into masterless ronin twenty-two months ago; the band's leader Oishi Kuranosuke beheads Yoshinaka for his evil involvement in the death of their master Lord Asano during a feud; others at the estate were also killed.

Having been demoted from Chamberlain back to his previous job as the Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations, and People, Sano Ichiro leads the investigation though he seethes that manipulative, corrupt, ambitious and lethal Yanagisawa was back in power as the Chamberlain. At the same time, Kuranosuke's mistress Okaru informs Ichiro's wife Reiko, that the feud is not what is publically believed. Ichiro looks into the strange case of the forty-seven who completed a cleansing ritual and wait further "orders", but came quietly with him and his detectives. Now he needs to recommend whether the forty-seven commit ritual suicide as the honorable end to the dispute.

This is a great entry in the Feudal Japan saga (see The Fire Kimono and The Cloud Pavilion) based on the legend of the 47 Ronin. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Kuranosuke severs the head of Yoshinaka and never slows down as dedicated Ichiro and his wife uncover anomalies in what looks like a shut and closed case.

Garden of Secrets Past
Anthony Eglin
9780312648367 $24.99

The intriguing unsigned letter asks retired botanist Dr. Lawrence Kingston to come to a specific address In Mayfair. The anonymous author who says he knows that Dr. Kingston has solved cases wants his help in solving a crime that occurred on his property three weeks ago.

Fascinated by the note, Kingston visits the address, which turns out to be Jardine's gentlemen's club. Stunned as they have had a checkered past, Kingston is greeted by Lord Frances Morley, owner of the Sturminster a country estate; which is renowned for its historical gardens. Morley explains he wants Kingston to investigate the murder of a man found dead at Sturminster by a little girl. Kingston investigates the homicide believing the enigmatic unbroken code on a monument in the garden is the key; someone agrees as the inquiry places Kingston and Morley in danger.

The fifth English Garden Mystery (see The Water Lily Cross and The Trial of the Wild Rose) is an entertaining whodunit as the past and the present converge during Kingston's amateur sleuthing. The cast is solid in support of the protagonist who is at his best working the enigmatic murder case. The story line is fast-paced with a fascinating brief afterward explaining the code in further depth. Gardens of Secret Past is wonderful mystery as events two centuries old still remain relevant.

Back of Beyond
C. J. Box
9780312365745 $25.99

In Montana, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff's Department Investigator Cody Hoyt has a problem with the evidence in the house fire death of Hank Winters. Apparently, Hank was intoxicated based on the flask near the corpse, but Cody knew the deceased personally when it came to alcohol; as Hank was Cody's AA sponsor who saved him several times from going on binges.

Though removed from the case due to his connection, Cody believes his sponsor was murdered and due to his friend on the force Larry Olson he helps with the inquiry. Cody finds a frightening series of links of cross country murders with the same modus operandi as the Winters' death. He also concludes the serial killer is heading to Yellowstone Park where Cody's teenage son Justin, accompanied by Walt Franck the wealthy developer and fiance to the investigator's ex wife (and Justin's mom). Big city Cody goes to the Back of Beyond Yellowstone wilderness.

Joe Pickett gets a respite as C.J. Box introduces readers to a new law enforcement official who has personal and professional issues due to his drinking problem. The investigation is deftly handled while the suspense is stratospheric. Although some of the spins seem over the top of Granite Peak, fans will enjoy this tense thriller starring a flawed cop whose son is the stake in a cat and mouse game with a psychopath.

Flowering Judas
Jane Haddam
9780312644338 $25.99

In Mattatuck, New York, the corpse of long missing college student Chester Morton is found hanging from a billboard that had been asking for information from anyone who had seen him for a dozen years. The Local Police Chief Howard Androcoelho asks private investigator Gregor Demarkian to help investigate whether Morton was murdered or committed suicide as he was missing for a dozen years.

After taking his friend ninety-nine years old George Tekemanian to the hospital in Philadelphia, Gregor goes to Mattatuck. Although concerned about his friend's health that interferes with his case focus, Gregor still finds oddities that lead him to conclude Morton did not die on the billboard but was placed there after he was dead. He soon finds a back pack near where the body was found; inside is the skeleton of an infant, which may have belonged to Chester. While Gregor ponders why Chester vanished years ago, the deceased's shrilling mother demands the cops arrest her son's former girlfriend while also wanting odd information about her son.

The latest Gregor Demarkian private investigative thriller is an exciting tale that deftly contains a different type of inquiry compared to the last case (see Wanting Sheila Dead). The protagonist works on the mystery of Chester Morton as he seeks answers to several whys that he believes will lead to the culprit; at the same time he is worried that his friend back home will not make it to celebrate his upcoming birthday. Flowering Judas is a strong entry as Demarkian shows both his hard and soft boiled sides.

The Hand That Trembles
Kjell Eriksson; Ebba Segerberg (Translator)
9780312605056 $24.99

In 1993 in Uppsala, Sweden, Commissioner Sven-Arne Persson leaves a council meeting, but never is seen in town again. The townsfolk assumed he killed himself though no corpse or note was seen. A dozen years later, an Uppsala resident Jan Svensk is in Bangalore, India is on a business trip when he sees Sven-Arne on the street and later in a restaurant. Sven-Arne likewise recognizes his Swedish neighbor and muses that his life as an illegal immigrant laborer is over.

At the same time in Uppsala, Detective Ann Lindell visits Detective Berglund in the hospital recovering from an operation to inform him a female foot inside a boot with no other body part has been found on the shore near Oregrund. Lindell investigates in an area overwhelming with single males including her ex lover. She also looks into a cold case homicide that Berglund failed to solve back in 1993.

The latest Detective Lindell Swedish police procedural (see The Princess of Barundi, The Cruel Stars of Night, and The Demon from Dakar) is an engaging complicated mystery that grips the audience on several levels with a need to know. First there is the question as to why a person left his power position to become an illegal laborer in a foreign land; second is his vanishing linked to the cold case homicide; and third the severed female foot belongs to who and the saw culprit is whom. Loaded with action and a strong cast, readers will enjoy this terrific mystery as Kjell Eriksson deftly ties everything together.

Tragic Toppings
Jessica Beck
9780312541095 $7.99

Suzanne Hart owns Donut Hearts in April Springs, North Carolina. She constantly experiments with innovative donuts that look and taste different than the standard fare. She is friendly with much of the townsfolk so becomes concerned when Emily Hargraves turns up missing especially when she learns she was the last known person to see her. Also gone is popular handyman Tim Leaner.

Emily is found hanging with Suzanne's ex husband Max; but Tim is found hanging from a tree. Since Suzanne has solved homicides before (see Evil Eclairs), Emily hires her to investigate who killed her honorary Uncle Tim. She accepts the case because she cannot refuse Emily. Emily's police officer boyfriend Jake, a former cop and her best friend all go in different directions questioning people, but it is Suzanne who almost dies when the killer observes her finding a critical identifying clue.

The latest Donuts Shop amateur sleuth is an entertaining whodunit as readers struggle to figure out who Tim's killer is. There are more suspects than donut types sold in Suzanne's shop so it is logical for the cops to draft her to help on their inquiry even if she is a civilian. Although a killer trying to fry the heroine is not new (see Sinister Sprinkles), fans will enjoy the quirky characters and yummy donut descriptions inside a fun mystery.

Death in High Places
Jo Bannister
9780312573539 $25.99

Four years ago, experienced global mountain climbers Nicky Horn and Patrick Hanratty were climbing Little Horse, an Alaskan peak that has never been documented as done as no one found a way across "Anarchy Ridge". However tragedy occurred when Patrick fell to his death. Filled with remorse, Nicky blames himself for the death of his best friend; as does Patrick's drug-king father Tommy. In England a mobster is about to kill Nicky when Robert McKendrick rescues him and takes him to his castle.

Nicky assumes he is fortunate that the stranger saved his life. However, he soon learns why when he meets his rescuer's daughter Beth who knew Patrick and Robert's sibling William who suffers from Alzheimer's. Robert implies that Nicky owes him a yet to be revealed favor equivalent to saving his life.

Although over the top of Mount McKinley with several extremely unlikely events, Death in High Places is an exciting character driven taut thriller. The tense story line contains several twists as Robert, Beth and Nicky trade truths and lies while Patrick waits. Readers will not know what to expect as the spins between the trio keep on coming with betrayal a highly valued method while Patrick continues to vigilantly wait.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Back In the Animal Kingdom
Neil Harrison
Pinyon Publishing
23847 V66 Trail, Montrose CO 81403
9781936671021 $15.00

I love the Plains in every season and have always seen wonders stark and lush here. Neil Harrison transforms that love into words in ways most of us can't even imagine:

"...the uncluttered wild, where everything is
a simple coupling, predator and prey,
every scene a call to grace..."

Whether violent or kindly, the wind has been a living presence in the lives of plainsfolks. At first, its howling drove pioneers to the edge of madness in the daily scouring of the land:

"...stripping the precious soil and sand
from the hills, from each unsheltered acre,
this dirge, the wind in a wind-swept land."

Great hulking beasts once roamed the plains, almost disappeared, and now have made a slow return. The American buffalo epitomizes life as it once was in the Plains:

"...great heads bowed to the summer grass
tall as his knees on the refuge hills
high above the river canyon."

Harrison gifts his readers with all the beauty, wonder, and harshness he sees around him. His words empathize with human frailties and fears as death stalks every living thing like a sleek, wild animal. He shares the mysteries of wildlife thriving along the Platte River, as they have for millennia. And he sings a plains song here worth hearing. Highly recommended.

Yawnin' in the Dawnin'
Music CD by Barry
ASIN B0051S6Z32 $8.98

The blended hearts, souls, voices and music of three brothers deliver a joyful experience in Barry's first CD. The sound and feeling are primal. Listeners feel it in their gut. It's an epic American sound, like the early Dylan's bluesy harmonica counterpoints or Elvis's raw emotions poured into a song. Together, Patrick, Benjamin, and Bradford Barry become one with their original music. Part blues, part rock, part country, these cuts are the real deal. Nothing fake or contrived about any part of this CD.

Yeah, I wanted to stomp, shout and cheer while listening to "For Your Own Good." And "Love Something Too Much" took me back decades in time to reprise memories I thought long gone. But if I had to choose a favorite -- not easy because every cut is unique and memorable here -- it would have to be "Great Unknown."

If I had the power, the Barry Brothers would be a household name. The best I can do is rave about their combined talents, listen to their CD over and over for every nuance of sound and cadence, and say their music is highly recommended.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Dance Medicine Head To Toe
Judith R. Peterson, M.D., author
Kathleen Rowland, illustrator
Princeton Book Company
614 Route 130, Highstown, NJ 08520
9780871273536 $29.95

"Dance Medicine Head to Toe: A Dancer's Guide to Health" is an excellent dancer's health guide and index to professional resources for many specific health concerns of ballet dancers and other dancers as well. Written by a physician who was the attending physician to the Pennsylvania Ballet for 10 years, a member of the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science, the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and the American Medical Association, "Dance Medicine Head to Toe" is based on a goal the author states as follows:"I hope that ... you can be the dancer who is pro-active about your health and wellness...I sincerely hope that this book helps you start towards a lifetime of dance that is healthy for you! (p. xv)."

A compact dancer's manual to self and professional health care specifically for dance-related issues, "Dance Medicine Head to Toe" contains 12 chapters on specific areas of health concerns, physically organized roughly from head to toe, of course. Each chapter has its own specific list of references and resources at the end of the chapter, plus related issues and sets of specific exercises or tips to treat the area described. Each chapter is illuminated by accurately shaded drawings and illustrations that demonstrate the anatomy and bone structure of the body, plus black and white photographs of professional dancers in action, courtesy of Pennsylvania Ballet Company. Chapter titles include The Beginning -Fostering Dancer's Mental Health, the Cervical Spine, Thoracic Spine, The Lung, the Heart, and Dance, the Importance of Diet, the Low Back or Lumbar Spine, the Hip, the Knee, the Ankle, the Foot, the Toes, and Optimizing Performance for a Lifetime: I Want To Dance Forever. In addition to multiple references listed at the end of each chapter, there is a final chapter devoted to Dancer Resources including recommended websites, 4 helpful apps for iPad or iPhone, The New York Times, and 4 helpful books.

"Dance Medicine Head to Toe" is the ideal professional or hopeful professional dancer's self-care and maintenance guidebook. A copy or two belong in every dance academy or school's resource library. In addition to being very well researched, compact and realistic, "Dance Medicine Head to Toe" is well written, with just enough clinical description and detail, balanced by just enough practical summary and recommendations for dancers' daily self-care routines. Exquisite illustrations enhance the text's teachings, in addition. It is the perfect marriage of art and medicine in paperback format.

Dogs In The Hot Moon
Michael Sheehan
Inspired Originals Publishing House
Munds Park, Arizona
9781463508951, $16.95

"Dogs In the Hot Moon: Lt. T. J. Sheehan and the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862" is a participant's viewpoint recounting of the Great Sioux Uprising in southern Minnesota beginning on August 18, 1862, just as the Civil War loomed large and reinvigorated recruitment from Minnesota and other states. Told by a great grandson, "Dogs In the Hot Moon" is the story of Lt. Timothy J. Sheehan, a 26 year old Irish immigrant, not unsympathetic to the cause of the Minnesota Sioux, who gained command of the loosely defended Fort Ridgely (located near New Ulm, southwest of St. Paul) when native raiders ambushed and slew the commandant of the Fort the first day of the uprising.

The complex history of the southern Sioux Indians' plight, including the systematic starvation and dehumanization of the natives by Indian agents and white officials, is accurately described. The frustrating and bitter dual role of Little Crow, Taoyateduta is outlined in significant detail. "Dogs In the Hot Moon" is a rare successful combination historical novel (based on an actual historic figure) and documentary, referring to actual times, dates, places, and events recorded during the Sioux Uprising of 1862. Well -researched and thorough, relying on family records as well as historical documents, "Dogs In The Hot Moon" distinguishes quotations from actual historic sources by presenting them in italicized copy. The tone is both matter of fact and chilling, presenting horrific detail about atrocities committed by members of both races during the conflict. The extremely sensitive and dangerous position of the mixed-bloods both within the reservation and within the militia is also detailed with a fine, bloody pen.

In the end, the Great Sioux Uprising, begun with starving Indians in a fight over two brown chicken eggs, ended with the Mankato hangings of 37 Sioux warriors on December 26, 1862. Little Crow, Taoyateduta, escaped to Dakota Territory until July 3, 1863, when he was seen and shot in a blackberry patch near Hutichinson, Minnesota, by frontiersman farmer Nathan Lamson, after skirmishes involving two other men. The tragedies of this and other deaths are highlighted in this dominant culture reflection on the terribly inhumane standard of treatment of the reservation Sioux prior to the Great Sioux Uprising in Minnesota.

"Dogs In the Hot Moon" is not easy, light reading, but it certainly holds the reader's interest and tells a complex, conflict-laden story of a checkered, tragic episode in North American history. "Dogs In the Hot Moon" is excellently written, with fine regard to authenticity and balanced presentation.

Floral Vector Motifs
Alan Weller, editor
Dover Publications
31 East 2nd St., Mineola, NY 11501
9780486991085, $19.95,

"Floral Vector Motifs" is a stunning collection of 304 royalty free floral vector designs presented in black and white, red, blue, green, and yellow inked images. Featuring a CD-ROM presenting the same 304 floral vector motif designs from Art Noveau, Arts & Crafts, and other art styles, "Floral Vector Motifs" is a valuable tool and index of floral motifs that can easily be adjusted for multiple graphic uses. If a reader intends to use more than 10 images, they must contact Dover Publications Permissions Department for permission, and reproduction for resale-related use is prohibited. Bonus application software is included that can be used to manipulate the files, as well as 10 bonus graphics that are made available on the Dover website after purchase of "Floral Vector Motifs." Dover Publishing is committed to green practices, and issues green editions in Planet Friendly Publishing, made in the U. S., and printed on recycled paper. Some of these floral designs are quite stunning, with intricate, shaded design detail, and all are worth perusing carefully for multiple applications. As a graphics floral design index "Floral Vector Motifs" is incomparable, rich with possibilities of floral detailing on any project. Also recommended in the Vector Motifs series edited by Alan Weller from Dover is Celtic Vector Motifs (ISBN 9780486991092, $19.95)," and "Chinese Vector Motifs (ISBN 9780486991108, $19.95)."

The Wizard of Oz: A Scanimation Book
Rufus Butler Seder
Workman Publishers
225 Varick St., New York, NY 10014
9780761163732, $14.95,

"The Wizard of Oz: A Scanimation Book" presents 10 famous scenes from the origanal movie that actually feature movement on the printed page due to the technology of Scanimation, a patented process which"employs moire-style line patterns to create the illusion of motion." Using a principle called the Phi phenomen, a striped decoder laer moves across a scrambled image, presenting a succession of optical effects that are linked together by the brain to evoke animation on the printed page. Ten famous Scanimation pictures from The Wizard of Oz include, Dorothy clicking her ruby slippers' heels together, Dorothy's farmhouse being carried away by the tornado, the transformation of Miss Gulch on her bicycle to a witch on a broomstick, the Munchkins singing and dancing, the Scarecrow's jig, the Tin Man loosens up his rusty parts, The five friends start their journey down the Yellow Brick Road, Flying Monkeys taking off, the Wicked Witch of the West 'melts,' and the appearance of the Wizard, Oz. Each Scanimation plate is accompanied by actual quotes from the movie. The creator of Scanimation technology, a famous artist, inventor, and filmmaker, has produced visually entrancing artworks with LIFETILES murals at the Smithsonian Institute, the BART subway system in San Francisco, and many other public places around the world. "The Wizard of Oz: A Scanimation Book" is certain to become a noted and valued collectible title with great appeal for children and adults.

Celtic Clip Art for Machine Embroidery (with CD)
Alan Weller
Dover Publications
31 East 2nd St., Mineola, NY 11501
9780486991115, $24.95,

Published by a committed green corporation, "Celtic Clip Art for Machine Embroidery" is a fabulous collection of Celtic clip art designs for use with machine embroidery or other print and web projects. Over 100 pages contain more than 400 intricate Celtic designs with color coded suggested thread combinations, with colors coded by number for Isacord (and also including a coded index that converts Isacord to other thread color equivalents, including Sulky, Madeira, and Mettler. In addition, a list of resources at the end inludes general machine embroidery information, design -making software programs, embroidery machines and supplies, video instruction, magazines, and embroidery sewing machines reviews. Including a CD-ROM containing all clip art examples for a graphic resource and for inspiration, "Celtic Clip Art for Machine Embroidery" is a sure pleaser for embroidery artists and designers as well as homemakers and creative textile workers. Also recommended from this series by Alan Weller is "Chinese Butterfly Clip Art For Machine Embroidery (ISBN 9780486991122, $24.95)."

83 Classified Piano Solos (with CD)
arranged by Jonathon Robbins
Santorella Publications
13 Pleasant Avenue, Danvers, MA 01923
TS180, $19.95,

"83 Classified Piano Solos" (with accompanying performance CD) is a variety collection that includes many classic favorite solos along with original compositions by the arranger (eight boogie woogie solos). Divided into seven categories including waltzes, cowboy music, hymns, folk music, boogie woogie, marches, and classics, "83 Classic Piano Solos" is certain to entertain, educate, amuse and completely abandon boredom for all its potential artists. Simple two-handed piano arrangements will present solid enjoyment plus stimulating, accessible challenges for the early intermediate pianist. Sample song arrangements include Waltz of the Flowers by Tchaikovsky, O Bury Me Not On the Lone Prairie, Abide With Me, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone, The Lazy Boogie Woogie by Robbins, The Stars and Stripes Forever by Sousa, and L Donna E Mobile by Verdi. "83 Classified Piano Solos" contains the proper formula for extended playing time in young accomplished pianists, with added help from the accompanying CD performances of all piano solos by Craig Stevens. Another excellent themed variety collection by the same arranger and publisher is "Holiday Harmony" from the Easy Piano series (TS266 with CD, $14.95).

Classic Children's Songs, Fun Songs to Play and Sing!
Jan K. Harrison, arranger
Jon Kirby, illustrator
Santorella Publications
13 Pleasant Avenue, Danvers, MA 01923
OEP111, $14.95,

Containing easy piano vocal arrangements for 68 well-beloved songs, "Classic Children's Songs" is a well rounded collection of familiar tunes and songs that children will love to learn and play and sing. Including a short music dictionary and spritely black and white illustrations, "Classic Children's Songs" belongs on every piano teacher's go-to list. Popular selections include Shoo, Fly, Little Boy Blue, Ring Around the Rosy, and many more. Large, grand staff notation for both hands with song lyrics will be accessible to young pianists. From the Easy Piano series, "Classic Children's Songs" is sure to become a staple in the repertoire of beginning pianists and teachers. Also recommended is "Childhood Favorites For Easy Piano (MP3105, $14.95)," another easy piano collection by the same publisher.

Songs for Children Volume 2
Arranged by Alexander Cole and Steven Paul
Minstrel Press Publications
c/o Santorella Publications
13 Pleasant Avenue, Danvers, MA 01923
MP3101, $9.95,

"Songs for Children" Volume 2 is an early intermediate collection of beloved songs arranged for two hands and young pianists. Including such favorites as Camptown Races, The Farmer in the Dell, Lavender's Blue, London Bridge, The Muffin Man, Polly Wolly Doodle, Take Me Out to the Ball Game, and many more, Presenting full piano/vocal scores for 25 songs, "Songs for Children" is sure to provide many happy hours of musical pleasure and accomplishment for young or beginning performers. Grand staff notation is large and easily readable, and lyrics for songs are clear and precise, including extra verses. No piano pedagogy is included in this edition which is clearly for pleasure playing. Also recommended in this Easy Piano Series is "Songs For Children Vol. 1," arranged by Alexander Cole (MP1101, $9.95), and "Patriotic Songs" arranged by Alexander Cole (MP2101, $9.95).

Nancy Lorraine

Micah's Bookshelf

Bodacious Blues
Whitney J. LeBlanc
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432773793, $21.95,

When life's realities come down on you, the blues sound ever truer. "Bodacious Blues" is novel following a Louisiana Creole family as they cope with the twists and despairs of their life. From following the wishes of their grandparents to spinning out of control in overcoming racism and the immortality of Hollywood, Whitney J. LeBlanc provides a read with plenty to consider, "Bodacious Blues" is filled with coming of age tales of facing our lives with a strong connection to the blues world.

The Weakness of Gravity
Maureen Tadlock
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781456726805, $14.95,

A broken home leads to a broken life. "The Weakness of Gravity" is a memoir of Maureen Tadlock as she recalls her journey from nothing, facing a world of drugs and sin from the age of twelve. Through everything and anything, she finally gained an understanding of life and tried to put it all together as a person of creativity and searching for the meaning of it all like anyone else. "The Weakness of Gravity" is a moving read, very much recommended.

Dave Dumanis
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450282352, $11.95,

The fountain of youth is hardly as glorious as advertised. "Cream" is a novel of a the discovery of a skincare cream that brings the youth back to life, but perhaps a bit too much. A story of being careful what one wishes for and the impact it can have on lives, "Cream" is a fun read that will prove quite hard to put down.

It's a New World, Retirement
Harvey A. Saltz
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781456718374, $12.99,

With age comes little concern for what people think of you. "It's a New World, Retirement" is a pondering of the world and life from Harvey A. Saltz who comes at readers with the straight humor of honesty of life, pulling no punches. A fun memoir of life, "It's a New World, Retirement" is a read worth considering.

Margaret Leis Hanna & Brunhilde Maurer Barron
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781456715212, $14.99,

Our lives often prove similar, yet so different. "While...: Born During WWII. One Ear. Two Lives." is a dual memoir of Margaret Leis Hanna and Brunhilde Maurer Barron as they each tell their own stories. Hanna spent her entire life in America, and found a unique path of her life, as Barron was born in Nazi Germany and later immigrated to America. They present both their lives to show while we can be so different, we can still find friendship in what unites us. "While..." is an excellent and thoughtful spin of memoir, recommended.

Shaman Healer Heretic
M. Terry Green
Privately Published
9780983292500, $13.99,

In order to be a Shaman, Olivia must go against everything a Shaman is. "Shaman Healer Heretic" is the first in M. Terry Green's Techno-Shaman novels following Olivia Lawson in a unique fantasy settings that blends our world with the Native American mythology. In the face of an ancient force, Olivia is against the wall and must break all the rules to stop a spiritual beast from conquering our reality. "Shaman Healer Heretic" is a fast paced read in an original setting, recommended.

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

A Good Day to Pie
Carol Culver
Midnight Ink
Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd
2143 Wooddale Dr., Woodbury, MN 55125-2989
9780738723785 $14.95

Carol Culver is a Harlequin romance novelist. She holds a B.A. degree in French and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. A GOOD DAY TO PIE is her debut mystery novel.

Hanna Denton has returned to her hometown of Crystal Cove, California, an idyllic place that no one in their right mind should want to leave. Her grandmother, Louise, has moved on to a high scale assisted living facility, leaving control of her famous pie shop to Hanna. Grannie Louise is a huge bridge player, with her entry into a prestigious tournament all but assured. But when one of the top four bridge players keels over dead under suspicious circumstances, Hanna and her dear grannie find themselves in the midst of the whirlwind. But the biggest shock comes when an old flame reappears as the town's newest police chief:

"Sam Genovese, my old high school flame, stood at the door in classic dark slacks and an Oxford blue button-down shirt. Sam, a button-down professional? It was not the way I'd pictured him. It was too much for my mind to process. His dark hair, once shoulder length, was now cut short. So it was true. As a thirty-something adult he was outrageously more gorgeous than as a rebellious teen. And he was the absolute last person in the world I'd ever expect to be on the side of the law standing on the other side of the door tonight. Even when I'd heard he'd come back to run our little police station."

Cooking and baking mysteries are fun because they combine two guilty pleasures. Culver provides plenty of mouth-watering pies, along with some recipes at the end, as well as thirty-something hormones going into overdrive. While Hanna is hauling her luscious pies around town, pretending to learn to play bridge, and sneaking into dark places where she shouldn't be, at least two hunks are taking more than a passing notice.

A GOOD DAY TO PIE is a perfect beach read, as well as lending itself well to winter blizzard nights. Hanna is a delightful heroine; Sam is a sexy cop, and sparks fly.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

My Best Friend, Abe Lincoln
Robert L. Bloch
Illustrated by John W.Ewing
Big Tent Books
115 Bluebill Drive, Savannah, GA 31419
9781601310743 $13.95

Everyone loves a good tale and this is what you will find inside the pages of this book. Abe Lincoln is certainly a man we all have read about, but this book takes us down a different road. Although fiction, our author takes tidbits of information that he has found and weaves a delightful tale of a true hero. Taking us back to Abe's childhood and a fictional best friend, the story is told through his friend's eyes, we can see what his life might have been like. Abe lives on a farm but enjoys reading and learning much more than farm work. He is smart, friendly and shows concern for mankind, even in his youth.

We travel with the boys as they fish in the creek, play with Indians, and live life as young boys will. There is a part in the book where the boys come upon the sale of slaves and it is shown how both boys are upset about this. I have seen in other reviews where some feel this is not a good thing to have in here. I disagree. Abe Lincoln is known for his dedication to stop injustice on all men. Stopping slavery is part of his legacy and one that should not be swept under the rug. It is incorporated tastefully and I'm glad it is there. Did this really happen? Who knows, but something did to show Abe how important it is that all mankind be treated fairly.

I liked this book. The illustrations were well drawn and definitely fit nicely with the story. Very well done, interesting and fun.

70 Reasons For Speaking In Tongues
Dr. Bill Hamon
Parsons Publishing House
PO Box 488, Stafford VA 22554
9781602730137 $14.95

I have been a Spirit-filled Christian for over thirty-five years so I am very aware of the power of Tongues...However I never knew there were 70 reasons for speaking in tongues. I was excited to receive this book. I know the author, Dr. Bill Hamon, is a true man of God, giving service to Him for years. I trust what he would say. As I began to read the book I immediately felt the presence of the Lord as Dr. Hamon brought forth much Scripture to back-up what he was saying. I, perhaps for the first time, fully understood that Tongues is definitely a wonderful Gift that God has given to His children to help them in this life. I knew the power of praying in Tongues, but I really didn't know all the benefits until I read this book. Our author gives you detailed information on just what Tongues are and where it shows them in the Bible. His information is presented in a simple way so it is easy to understand and begin to apply to your life. I have to say after reading this book, praying in Tongues took on a whole new meaning for me. This is a wonderful book and I recommend it for every Christian, no matter how long you may have been praying in tongues, I know you will find a dozen more reasons to continue after reading this book. It's excellent, definitely touched by the Lord to enhance all His children's prayers. Enjoy.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

The ABC of Sales
Daniel Milstein
Gold Star Publishing
9780983552703, $19.95,

There are certain principles of sales that can turn anyone from a prince into a pauper. "The ABCs of Sales" tells the story of Daniel Milstein, a salesman who immigrated from Russia and became a serious player in the mortgage banking industry. Telling the story of his success, he offers the basics of sales and how to build oneself from nothing to something much more than that. "The ABCs of Sales" is a remarkable tale, very much recommended reading.

Dragonfly Dreams
Franki deMerle
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450272445, $19.95,

When a dream becomes a nightmare, it can be hard to run. "Dragonfly Dreams" is the tragic tale of Daphne, whose dream man crushes her into a terrible world. As the abuse becomes too much, she tries to flee the pain and tries to find love once more away from her horrendous plight. "Dragonfly Dreams" is a story that tells all too true for many women with a bit of hope at the end.

Beyond the Myth
Maria T. Holmes
Privately Published
9780983094616, $24.95,

With a certain drive, you can make your own dreams come true. "Beyond the Myth: How to Live the Life You Desire" is an inspirational book from Maria Holmes. She advises readers to realize what they can really do about their lives, and taking control of the world around you. With much advice for empowerment, "Beyond the Myth" is a read filled with sage advice that shouldn't be underestimated, highly recommended.

A Hollow Cup
Alan Thompson
Privately Published
9781595944405, $17.95,

Justice is a worthy cause to pursue. "A Hollow Cup" is a novel set in a southern town as two men, one black and one white return to their home town to decide the case of a decades old crime. The prosecutor and the defense in the case, the search for truth plays with the duality of two men going in very different directions in their lives and finding an unusual friendship, and how the court case strains it. "A Hollow Cup" is a riveting legal thriller with the backdrop of race and friendship, highly recommended.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

Living Life from the Inside Out
Edward A. Dreyfus
Privately Published
9781456461089, $14.95,

It's not wise to live a life driven by labels. "Living Life from the Inside Out" is an inspirational self-help manual from Edward A. Dreyfus as he offers a spin of life, encouraging readers to put what their souls want first, damning outside pressures and influences as they try to make the most of their life, and coping with the tragedies and challenges of life. "Living Life from the Inside Out" is a strongly recommended pick, not to be overlooked for self-help collections.

The Keya Quests
Glenn Skinner
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432773625, $21.95,

It is natural to be suspicious of powerful people who claim to be your liberator. "The Keya Quests: The Battle for Shivenridge" follows the tale of Keya and her Black Sword. With Shivenridge under assault from Lord Randar, Keya must stand against him, curse, and prophecy in order to find peace for Shivenridge and her own world as well. A work of epic fantasy for those who enjoy the high fantasy nature of swords and sorcery, "The Keya Quests" is very much recommended reading.

Ultimate Justice
Ryder Islington
LL Publications
9781905091782, $14.99,

As evil lays a vicious black cloud over his town, Special Agent Trey Fontaine finds he has too much on his plate. "Ultimate Justice" follows Fontaine as he tries to heal from previously inflicted wounds, as a serial rapist is stalking his town, and many men are found brutally murdered, as he's also charged with locating a missing person. An action-packed thriller, "Ultimate Justice" is very much recommended reading.

An Uprising of Angels
Marc D. Baldwin
7290-B Investment Drive
Charleston, SC 29418
9781460970782, $13.95,

Amidst chaos, people simply try to live their lives. "An Uprising of Angels" is a novel taking place during the Los Angeles riots of 1992, as Author Marc D. Baldwin draws on his own experience within the riots to tell the story of several people in a mixed race neighborhood trying to make their own way through the riots and through their lives. "An Uprising of Angels" is a riveting read that should very much be considered, highly recommended.

Folks Lena Knew
Winnie Dowden Wyatt
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781456733308, $12.99,

There are many people who make up the greater picture of life. "Folks Lena Knew" is novel aimed at younger readers as Lena, a ten year old girl, moves throughout Texas and meets many people, from the rich to the poor and gains an understanding of who they are and what unites us all as Americans. "Folks Lena Knew" is a charming read of youthful optimism.

Fires of Alexandria
Thomas K. Carpenter
Privately Published
9781463653705, $14.99,

The great loss of knowledge in the fires of Alexandria is one of history's greatest crimes. "Fires of Alexandria" surrounds this act with a plot around who would commit an assault on the concept of human knowledge. Heron seeks to find the truth one hundred years after the fact, hired to do so known as a famous inventor of the era. Wanting to clear her brother's debts, she finds this is not one mystery easily solve. "Fires of Alexandria" is a riveting read that shouldn't be overlooked.

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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