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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 7, Number 8 August 2008 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cowper's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf Greenspan's Bookshelf
Klausner's Bookshelf Laurel's Bookshelf Nancy's Bookshelf
Shelley's Bookshelf Shirley's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf
Vogel's Bookshelf    

Cowper's Bookshelf

The Journey from "I-to-We"
Glenn Cohen
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781434383716, $24.95,

It takes a special skill to get along smoothly with one person every day for up to fifty years of one's life. "The Journey from 'I-to-We': Create an Emotionally Intelligent Relationship" is a complete and comprehensive guide for couples who want to make their relationship last amid this world's fifty percent divorce rate. With information on creating a good base for love to stand on, recognizing individual needs, dealing with conflict, and other important issues, "The Journey from 'I-to-We'" leaves no common problem untouched upon. A vital read for couples who want their time together to be more than a random fling.

Stories of a Recovering Fundamentalist
James C. Alexander
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781434381323, $14.95,

To hold a belief so fervently that one begins to ignore reason - this is one definition of religious fundamentalism. "Stories of a Recovering Fundamentalist: Understanding and Responding to Christian Absolutism" is a confession of sorts, from an ex-zealot who realized the hard way that one's belief in God can go too far. Reflecting on his times as an extremist, he is frank and blunt about his downfall, and explains how he still retains his faith in God despite his past troubles. "Stories of a Recovering Fundamentalist" is a must for any Christian who wants to better understand where to draw the line.

Lord, How Can I Make It Through Grieving My Loss
Catherine J. Frompovich
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781434363886, $27.95,

The feeling of losing something and never being able to get it back is a fundamental component of grief. "Lord, How Can I Make It Through Grieving My Loss: An Inspirational Guide Through the Grieving Process" is a guide for the faithful to dealing with the horrible feeling of permanent loss, drawing upon the author's personal experience. Preaching that readers can find relief for their suffering in God, "Lord, How Can I Make It Through Grieving My Loss" is a deeply spiritual look at grief and coping with its repercussions. Highly recommended for church library self-help collections.

The Power of Trauma
Ute Lawrence
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
Star Treatment
PO Box 133, Beaver Crossing, NE 68313
9780595463787, $12.95,

Trauma doesn't have to be a life-crippling experience. "The Power of Trauma: From the Darkness of Despair to a Life Filled with Light" is the story of Ute Lawrence, who deals with the terrifying reality that she may have died on September 3rd, 1999 in the worst automobile accident in Canadian history. Her career was over, and her life was on the wrong track, but somehow, she overcame. "The Power of Trauma" is her reflection on post traumatic stress disorder and her will to get her life back, in a touching and inspiring story recommended for others who have experienced such trauma.

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

Windy City Nocturne
Ronald Brueckmann
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781434351562, $18.99,

An aspiring prize fighter, a man who has given up the law for his own gain, and a jaded detective are just three of the characters in the gritty 1930s Chicago setting of "Windy City Nocturne". Each of these three protagonists strives to reach the top; when their paths cross, it causes a shocking collision in which people are murdered and lives are destroyed. "Windy City Nocturne" is a great read for fans of gritty noir-style fiction.

Some Kind of Angel
Melvin M. Harter
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595477500, $12.95,

Genocide on a wide scale throughout the planet, and a blackmailed president. "Some Kind of Angel: A Sneetz and Muldoon Thriller" follow a forensic doctor and investigative journalist as they try to solve the mystery of why millions of people have been dropping dead. They must also disarm the weapon that the terrorists hold over the president of the United States before it's too late! A deadline from the terrorists quickly approaches and Sneetz and Muldoon must find a way to save their beloved nation and liberty from going the way of the dodo. "Some Kind of Angel" is a gripping political thriller, with a brilliant plot which fans of the genre will love.

An Almost Fatal Miracle
Roger Daniel Rizzo
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
Spotlight Publicity (publicity)
9780595439621, $17.95,

There's no such thing as escaping a nearly fatal motorcycle accident for author Roger Daniel Rizzo. "An Almost Fatal Miracle: Realizing Reality" is his tale of how his accident permanently changed his life, from his family to his career to his relationships. He tells of his long and arduous journey on the road to recovery. In the process he realizes his true purpose in life and began to volunteer. He urges readers not to wait for their own life changing experience to be inspired, but rather to get going now. A solid read with an invaluable life lesson.

Anyone? A Sculptor!
Russel Neswick
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781434379146, $31.99, 1-800-280-7715

Sculpting is the art and process of creating of a solid three dimensional image out of any kind of organic or inorganic material. "Anyone? A Sculptor!: How To Be A Sculptor In 30 Days Or Less" is a 90-page illustrated instructional that is specifically designed and written by Russel Neswick to teach non-specialist general readers how to successfully engage in making sculptures of their own using the Ferroconcrete process which combines metal or plastic mesh with a covering of concrete. "Anyone? A Sculptor!" begins with an introduction into cement/concrete and lays out general principals associated with their use as an art medium. This is followed by chapters focusing specifically on Ferroconcerte and/or Ferrocement; work space requirements; coloring; armature; as well as the tools and materials required. The remainder of "Anyone? A Sculptor!" provides project ideas along with techniques and applicable instructions. Enhanced with full color photographs throughout, "Anyone? A Sculptor!" is an ideal and thoroughly 'user friendly' introduction which is wholeheartedly recommended for anyone considering sculpture as a hobby or a profession.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

From the Barrio to the Bench
George La Plata
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave, South, New York, NY 10016
9780533158232, $22.95,

Few rises in society can compare to the story of George La Plata. "From the Barrio to the Bench" is La Plata's self-penned tale of how he started in the rough Latino ghetto and earned his way to being appointed to a U.S. District Court by President Ronald Reagan. Covering his life in getting into law school despite his lack of money, his struggle to evade crushing poverty and make something of himself, "From the Barrio to the Bench" is a brilliantly crafted story. A top pick about overcoming life's obstacles.

The Odyssey of Life
Robert Marashlian
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave, South, New York, NY 10016
9780533158331, $10.95,

Robert Marashlian suffers from multiple sclerosis but doesn't let it define him, and brings an original type of poetry to the table in "The Odyssey of Life". Touching upon the broad range of topics that cover the daily life of all of humanity, "The Odyssey of Life" doesn't pull any punches, and its blunt approach is much appreciated. "The Odyssey of Life" is something to consider for all fans of non-standard poetry. "Macarena": The Macarena is the imbecile's dance/It gives the morons and idiots a chance,/To show the talents of which they have none/Except to show off and have some fun//It was invented by a featherhead,/Who got up and left his brains in bed./Any sane person can tell by a glance,/The Macarena is a fool's trance.

Night's End
Jackson Compton
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533155170, $13.95,

Are things ever what they seem? "Night's End" is a story of a priest and an undead being who wants to turn over a new leaf, and end the reign of terror his kind have been visiting upon the world. The wary priest thinks poorly of Flange, the undead being, and his allegedly benevolent desires. Yet as villagers continue to die, the priest's options are quickly running out. "Night's End" is an enthralling tale, recommended for community library fantasy collections.

The North Point Boys
B.J. Loft
Publish America
P.O. Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705
News & Experts (publicity)
1127 Grove Street, Clearwater, FL 33755
9781604410822 $19.95

His family murdered, Dave Baker barely escapes his own demise. "The North Point Boys" is the story of the hunt for a killer and the circle of friends that is the titular group. Filled with intrigue, courtroom foul ups, and other mayhem, "The North Point Boys" takes a dark turn as Dave's odds of gaining retribution for his family look slim, and any chance of achieving happiness seems slimmer - but there is always hope. A riveting novel sure to delight thriller fans.

Able Greenspan

Klausner's Bookshelf

The Sirens
William Meikle
KHP Industries
PO Box 588,Effort PA 18330
9780979988127, $12.99,

In Glasgow, after recovering from the events of the AMULET, on the day the Adams Detective Agency doubled in size with the hiring of computer guru Doug, private investigator Derek Adams receives a visit from an elderly person. Recently widowed Jessie Malcolm, who is using her ain name, says she going outside her "Circle" to hire Derek to bring home her missing son. Derek quickly accepts the case because he figures this one is easy and a 180 degrees away from the still emotionally painful Amulet fiasco since his new client insists her son John Mason is on the Isle of Skye so he can attend the funeral of her husband Tommy, his father.

On Skye, Derek visits the Auld Kelpie Inn, but his questions are met with cold angry silence. He soon learns that John's relatives work and drink here; they resent strangers asking questions about him. However, his inquiry soon leads Derek to John, who is under the enchantment of a Kelpie; fathering her children. John needs to go home for his father's funeral, but though he cannot fathom why, John's cousins will not allow this to happen, but Derek helps him to escape. However, in Glasgow, all hell has broken loose, which sends police officers to question Derek; who now must wonder what he wrought when he brought the cursed John home.

The second Midnight Eyes File case is an enjoyable investigative urban fantasy. The story line is fast-paced although somewhat disrupted with flashbacks including post traumatic stress disorder still suffered by the hero from his first book escapades. The Norse mythos that serves as the key fantasy element is cleverly designed so that the cops and the private detective must look into it; though the former are skeptical and the latter still recovering from his previous paranormal sleuthing. Sub-genre readers will relish the SIRENS and like this reviewer will seek a copy of THE AMULET; as William Meikle provides an entertaining paranormal investigative tale.

Still Waters
Nigel McCrery
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307377036, $23.95, 1-800-726-0600

Essex Detective Sergeant Emma Bradbury asks Detective Chief Inspector Mark Lapslie, who is one medical leave, to come to a car crash scene where the rotted body of an elderly woman wrapped in plastic has been found. Apparently the vehicle dug the corpse out of a shallow grave. Dealing with synthesia Mark, who tastes sound such as his mobile ringing tasting like chocolate, reluctantly arrives at the scene to look around; his first case in almost a year. The two cops conclude that the killer left little behind except cutting the fingers off the victim's right hand. They later learn the deceased is Violet Chambers who was killed with a garden plant poison and the fingers nipped by a garden shears. They tie her death to abductions of other senior citizens and begin to fear a serial killer who is planting the elderly into the ground. This is an opening tale of a new English police procedural starring a unique detective. The strength and weakness of STILL WATERS is Lapslie. His sensual issues caused by synthesia makes him a fascinating protagonist with little hints at how he perceives the world like his tasting his phone ringing. However, how complex and convoluted that makes his life and how he successfully overcame his different outlook to become a DCI is not dug deep enough to satisfy the audience; instead he seems totally adapted with just asides to remind the reader his senses work differently. Still this is an enjoyable first tale with hopefully more synthesia caused issues surfacing in which Lapslie's observations are prevalent to the case.

Apart from the Crowd
Anna McPartlin
Downtown Press
c/o Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th floor, New York, NY 10020
1416569723, $15.00, 1-800-223-2336

Life to Mary is an archipelago of tragedy as one island of loss leads to the next island of loss. Usually this means the death of a loved one like her child, but she muses that it can be less final for instance when she was twelve, her new puppy Mr. Monkels lost a part of an ear in a freaky fishing accident. However as Mary needs to move past the latest trauma, her cousin Ivan's wife dumped him and took their kids with her. Her best friend Penny loves married alcoholic Adam, who happens to love his wife and Penny; and plans to keep both women in his life. Then there is her new neighbor Sam, a former music world VIP until drugs destroyed his career and his life. He is trying to remain clean, but like the other people in Mary's life and even herself, hide their indiscretions from one another. Although with five you get the entire buffet not just an egg roll; this well written character study is overwhelmed at times with too much angst oozing from each player. The story line engages the audience who empathizes with each key character; however also the weight of the collective quintet feels overwhelming. Still Anna McPartlin makes a strong case that Dean Martin was right that "Everybody Needs Somebody Sometime" to share the joy and sorrow of life.

The Gargoyle
Andrew Davidson
Doubleday & Company
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
0385524943, $25.95, 1-800-726-0600

The porno actor with the scar on his heart is driving on a curving mountainous road when he loses control and crashes; probably because of his coke drenched brain. He suffers third degree burns that are so painful he decides that the recovery is not worth it as he believes even coke will fail him especially since he accidentally poured bourbon on his crotch just before the crash; thus turning the alcohol into an accelerant that made his penis into a candle that the nurse has since disposed of as medical waste. As he plans his suicide once out of the hospital especially the burn ward, insane patient Marianne Engel visits him. She claims to be seven centuries old and his lover hundreds of years ago in Germany. The burn victim assumes the woman is a nut, but as she keeps seeing him, he wonders about himself as he is attracted to this kook he assumes is a mad woman suffering from schizophrenia. He learns she is a highly regarded sculptress whose gargoyles are in demand and soon has the man she claims was her lover wanting a life with her once he leaves the hospital. This is a strange second chance at love novel that hooks the audience once Marianne informs the unnamed narrator what she was to him in another time and place. Her details of a long time ago convince the former porn star she is genuine although he wonders if losing his penis cost him his head. Fans who prefer something different will relish Andrew Davidson's fascinating odd tale of love.

The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars
Andrew X. Pham
Harmony Books
c/o The Crown Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, #B1, New York, NY 10019-4305
030738120X, $24.95, 1-800-726-0600

From 1940 to1976, Viet Nam was in a constant state of war that impacted the people. Andrew X. Pham provides the biography of his father Thong Van Pham, who lived through the three plus decades of war starting with the Japanese invasion of the French occupied region during WW II through the fight for independent from the French and finally the war over the South against the United States. As a child Thong lived an upper crust life being born to a wealthy family. Over the years of war, famine and abuse, the family fortune vanished and consequently the life style. This is a fascinating biography that also serves as a deep look at the history of Viet Nam. The author rotates his father's life with recent events that brings a harrowing feel as the reader gains a sense of the outcome resulting from the years of turbulence. Well written, readers will marvel at Mr. Pham's capture of the impact of power struggles on everyday people.

Francis Levy
Two Dollar Radio
9780976389576, $14.00

James Moran would not have said he was addicted to sex before he bed her, but now he lives for the out of control trysts with a woman whose name he does not even know. He gives up on gourmet meals to be with her before her boyfriend comes home. After each mind boggling incredibly physical session, James wanders the streets in a sex induced fog unable to tell anyone even his name while all he could think of is ye who enter will never go back. However, increasingly James begins to think of a wider relationship with his Jane Doe. He even learns her name is Monica and they begin trying other things besides sexual nirvana. However, although they have fun together, their camaraderie pales next to the sex. Both begins to worry is that all there is in their relationship and in life in general and how shallow they are as they grow tighter yet find no common ground outside of their erotic mania. They are so out of control sexually they use a bomb shelter in order to avoid being labeled dangerous weapons of destruction by neighbors. When the audience meets James he has kept his greatest sex partner nameless so that he can limit the relationship; Monica does likewise. As each obsesses over the incredible uninhibited carnality, they eventually need more as they begin to become real people with other needs. Thus EROTOMANIA turns into a superb well written character study that will have the audience compare the changing needs of James and Monica to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. The pair starts off ecstatic as they linger contentedly at the Physiological and Safey lowest levels of the Pyramid, but over time begin to want much more as each seeks growth in their relationship seeking Belonging, Esteem and Self Actualization. Francis Levy provides a wonderfully poignant character driven relationship drama.

The Vampire Julian
Ann B. Morris
ImaJinn Books
PO Box 545, Canon City, CO 81215-0545
9781933417202, $14.00,

Not long after the destruction Hurricane Katrina caused, Simone LeClerc comes to New Orleans to find her missing step-sister Dottie, who went to the Big Easy seeking a missing woman only to drop out of sight. Determined to find her sibling, Simone obtains work and an apartment at Mike's After Dark bar; the owner Julian Whitcombe is a hundred and fifty years old vampire; there she meets the bartender who is a shapeshifter. Julian believes Simone is the woman the Goddess Lilith prophesized would come to him when the need is great. Lilith knows that if Simone loves Julian deep enough, she will convert him back from vampire to mortal as only humans can; and he will fulfill his destiny to save the world. Simone remains skeptical that vampires exist and that Zurik and his clan drink human blood until their victims die and the news is all over the media. Julian and his clan fight them depending on synthetic blood for sustenance. As she sees the truth, she knows she loves Julian and if he needs her to do something prophesized by the Goddess Lilith, she will do it for him. The first Whitcombe Legacies tale stars one of triplets who in times of catastrophe must find the respective women who will allow each to achieve their destiny. This vampiric romance is refreshing due to an original plot that uses the Katrina destruction as a horrific backdrop. Ann B. Morris leaves her audience anxiously waiting for the next two bites led by the other two triplets.

White Tombs
Christopher Valen
Conquill Press
9780980001723, $14.95,

St. Paul Police Detective John Santana left Columbia knowing assassins will come one day to Minnesota to kill him; his regret and guilt for leaving his homeland is his sister who is left behind to perhaps face the wrath of his enemies. He and his partner Rick Anderson currently investigate the murder of Julio Perez, owner of the monthly Hispanic newspaper El Dia, in his home. After searching the crime scene, the two cops visit Rafael Mendoza because the victim's rolodex is open to the card of the immigration attorney.

They arrive to witness Mendoza fall off his balcony with a man running from the scene. Anderson shoots and kills the fleeing person Ruben Cordova, who turns out to have worked for El Dia. They search Mendoza's loft finding evidence of fake visa applications and the photo of two John Does in a sexually explicit pose. Meanwhile Internal Review investigates the shooting pulling Anderson and Santana off the investigation as they were getting closer to solving the case. Santana's boss decides Cordova killed the other two men so has no qualms with reassigning the official investigation to Detective James Kehoe for final cleanup. Santana disagrees with the conclusion and also knows Kehoe will not dig any deeper than he has already done so he keeps investigating on his own time and at his own expense.

WHITE TOMBS is a superb police procedural starring a fascinating lead detective who has a history in his homeland. Santana is a wonderful new addition to the sub-genre as he cares about victims, even dead ones, but especially their grieving loved ones; in this case he pledges justice to Julio's widow. Alcoholic Anderson is as dedicated in his own way. Readers will appreciate this strong whodunit with a stunning late twist that no one will see coming as Christopher Valen argues that a person's collective past makes the person's present as experiences lead to current actions and reactions.

C.F. Bentley
DAW Books, Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756404857, $24.95, 1-800-847-5515

Chaos is the operative word in outer space in the distant future. The Human Confederate Star System (CSS) is at war with the Marillon Empire, which controls numerous avian based inhabitants. Harmony and its colony plants have closed itself from the rest of the universe; refusing to allow their orbs to be polluted. However the two confrontational empires will not allow the Harmony Empire to remain neutral because both hostile sides need Badger Metal only produced on Harmony; that metal makes navigating and communicating much easier in hyperspace. When a quake hits a Harmony factory, worker Sissy sings to the core of the planet to stop the tremors from reoccurring. She gives voice to the prophecy and comes to the attention of the High Priest Gregor, who seeks a new High Priestess since the incumbent just died in the quake. The people adore Sissy for the changes she is bringing to a world that thrives on status quo to a dangerous fault. Jake, a CSS agent, hopes to exploit her and steal the Badger Metal formula. Instead he finds himself in love risking his life and mission to protect Sissy from assassins who might be local traitors supporting the Maril he anticipates will soon invade. However, when Sissy learns the true history of her planet, she vows to break the strangling caste system in order to save her people by returning to what the founders hoped for their future. This stand alone space opera is exciting and filled with action, but caste (pun intended) driven. Readers obtain a full spectrum of the political, economic, cultural and social engines that run the harmonic Empire. Sissy is the glue who holds the story line together as a lowly Worker caste becomes the Temple High Priestess; she and readers learn on the job what she is supposed to perform and as important what to do regarding the future threat to and the ancient history of the planet. A bright star in the outer space galaxy of science fiction, C.F. Bentley provides a strong tale.

The Last Centurion
John Ringo
Baen Books
PO Box 1403, Riverdale, NY 10471
9781416555537, $25.00, 1-800-223-2336

The Hell Times confirmed what most thought about a Democrat in the White House, especially the "Bitch", as this time when they got it wrong the cost was the planet. These idiots focused on preventing global warming only it was the Freeze that led to the pandemic environmental disaster and the bird flu global Plague in which the Bitch's socialized medicine failed everyone. By 2021 worldwide famine has become the acceptable norm. These leaders failed the military they deployed to the Middle East by abandoning the soldiers in Iraq after widening the mission to Turkey, Iran, and Kuwait. Survival means stealing from the locals who are also struggling for sustenance and looting artifacts to sell on the black market. On our side of the Holy War, few are willing to die for the cause; our adversaries have most of those who sacrifice their lives. Only in America will a TV show surface to showcase THE LAST CENTURION unit as propaganda to patriotically bury the embarrassing defeats behind disinformation fog. While the Fat DC Cats talk of hundred year wars, weary soldiers write blogs so the truth may one day be known before the victors rewrite the history books. Though well written the difficulty for the audience will be to accept the premises that the Liberal Democrats are at fault for the third decade of the desert war, avian flu and global freezing; as if the Bush years did not exist. However, if the audience accepts the shocking prejudicial strong beliefs of THE LAST CENTURION who tells the story in his blog from his perspective as gospel "historical facts", the tale provides a compelling austere near future thriller. Those early sections provide the deep understanding of the military officer's mind through his blog writing. Though the ending is even more implausible, fans of Mr. Ringo and the Neocons busy rewriting the history books (at least their roles) will appreciate this cautionary tale in which the author implores bloggers to expose the lies of the power structure.

Slanted Jack
Mark L Van Name
9781416555490, $24.00

Jon Moore hates being the best combatant in the galaxy as that means missions he does not want to take. The nanotechnology enhanced soldier wants to live the rest of his life in peace and quiet on his home planet accompanied by his only friend, Lobo, an artificially intelligent Predator-Class Assault Vehicle. However, Jon knows that he and Lobo are expendable pawns always sent to the next impossible mission. As Jon seeks a bit of R&R, he and Lobo meet his old crony con artist and petty thief Slanted Jack, who needs a slight favor. In spite of being the deadliest kick-butt person known in the galaxy, the kindhearted sucker, ignoring the sarcastic commentary of Lobo who encourages him to just say no, Jon agrees to help in what seems rather easy. He should have known that Slanted Jack set him up to take the fall from an angry arms dealing religious fundamentalist and his rabid followers, an enraged gang leader and his rabid mobsters, and a fuming high-ranking government councilor and his rabid supporters. They agree to kill Jon when Jack vanished taking a psychically gifted child and invaluable relics with him. However, in spite of the beautiful woman who insists she wants to help him and the assaults from the assorted rabid minions, Jon and Lobo agree rescuing the child is the mission. The second Jon and Lobo space thriller (see ONE JUMP AHEAD) is an entertaining futuristic crime caper as everyone converges initially on Jack who pulls a sleight of the hand with his disappearing act that leaves Jon and Lobo holding a dead rabbit. The story line is fast-paced and filled with non stop action as each step that Jon takes to expedite himself from the growing mess complicates his escape as more enemies surface. Although none of the cast except the heroic lead duo goes beyond comic book status, readers will enjoy the escapades in space of Jon and Lobo who will keep saying I told you so as the hero knows he didn't know Jack.

La Petite Four
Regina Scott
c/o The Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9781595142085, $8.99, 1-800-847-5515

La Petite Four met at the Bardsley School and became close friends for life. Lady Emily Southwell, Miss Priscilla Tate, Miss Ariadne Courdebas and Miss Daphne Courdebas are one for all and all for one even as they look forward to graduating and taking London by storm in their first season. However, Emily is stunned to learn that her father's arranged betrothal to Lord Robert Townsend has been announced and she will marry him before her season. She refuses as she has dreams of becoming an artist asked to join the Royal Society for the Beaux Arts. Emily and her Petite Four friends seek to find a blemish that would prove Lord Robert is unworthy to be her mate. She also finds herself attracted to Mr. James Cropper whose loathing of Lord Robert should make him an ally, but she fears he is using her as a pawn in his feud. This LA PETITE FOUR begin the quest. This first of four tales is a terrific young adult Regency romantic suspense tales starring fully developed characters. Each of the female quartet is physically and emotionally different, which enhances a strong historical tale. The two antagonists who compete for Lady Emily's affection augment the fine story line further. Regency fans of all ages will appreciate the opening salvo with three petite females storming high society to follow.

Rigged For Murder
Jenifer Leclair
Durban HouseHouser Press, Inc.
5001 LBJ Freeway, Suite 500, Dallas, Texas 75244
1930754884, $14.95

Still suffering from PTSD following the death of her police partner Phil and blaming herself, Minneapolis homicide detective Brie Beaumont takes a needed leave of absence. Brie recalls her favorite childhood activity was sailing with her dad in command of their vessel until he died from a heart attack at only forty-eight years old. Realizing being away from the job is not enough as Phil haunts her every step, she leaves town booking a sailing tour starting in Camden Harbor, Maine on the schooner Maine Wind captained by John DuLac. However, a storm forces the captain and crew to seek haven in Granite Island Harbor. At dinner, Pete McAllister flirts outrageously with Alyssa Lindstrom, whose husband Rob angrily threatens to kill the womanizer and his wife. At 3:15 AM, a screaming hysterical Alyssa wakes up everyone having discovered the murdered corpse of Pete. Detective Beaumont offers her investigative skills and DuLac accepts. Thus the cop and the captain try to uncover the identity of a killer although the jealous spouse is the prime suspect. Admiration of each other's talent turns into an attraction between Brie and John that is used to enhance an engaging New Englander whodunit. Readers will believe they are sailing on the schooner and waiting out the storm at Granite Harbor as Jenifer LeClair vividly captures the Maine background in the Windjammer mystery. With a strong support cast including the capable crew, the battling passengers, and the eccentric islanders to add depth, fans will enjoy RIGGED FOR MURDER.

The Last Patriot
Brad Thor
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
141654383X, $26.00,

Former Navy SEAL thirty-seven year old Scot Horvath has left Homeland Security to get out of the covert operations business and start a fresh new life away from mass murdering terrorists who claim their ideology is blessed by God. He wants a normal life and feels as he closes in on forty undercover operations is a younger persons game. He also remains shook up that his significant other former Naval Explosive Ordinance Technician Tracy Hastings lost an eye and almost her life and almost died at the hands of some rabid avenging assassin. They talk at a Paris cafe when Scot notices an Arab setting off an IED that targets University of Virginia Professor Anthony Nichols, who as he vanishes turns out to be a lot more than a highly regarded history teacher. The two retirees soon learn of the discovery of a seventh century version of the Koran in which the Prophet Mohammed informed his disciples of a radically different vision than that found in the Koran of today; if the lost revelation is published the Jihad extremists would lose much of their religious claims. Clues lead to President Jefferson's war on the Tripoli pirates and the third president's notes in an original copy of Don Quixote. Although they expect to learn more investigating Monticello, the American in Paris and President Jack Rutledge must end their estrangement caused by the incidents in his last assignment (see THE FIRST COMMANDMENT) while the Muslim extremists want the two Americans stopped. This is an exhilarating thriller mindful of the Da Vinci Code but different that will hook the audience from the moment that Scot and Tracy learn of the lost revelation and never slows down until the final incredible spin. A critical key to this engaging tale is that the romantic relationship between the lead couple is limited as the inquiry and safety supersede everything. Brad Thor provides a strong insightful tale that links seemingly unconnected historical dots leading to the contemporary sleuthing by Scot and Tracy; accompanied by enthralled fans of the series.

Fisherman's Bend
Linda Greenlaw
Hyperion Books
77 West 66th Street, New York, NY 10023-6298
9781401322359, $24.95, 1-800-759-0190

In Green Haven, Maine Marine Safety Consultants hire Florida transplant Jane Bunker to investigate accidents and vandalism reported on the research vessel Quest authorized to explore the floor bed of Cobscook Bay. The Knox County Assistant Sheriff and her sexagenarian friend Cal visit the vessel to evaluate the damaged equipment. After finishing her assessment, the pair head back to shore only to see a floating unmanned lobster boat, the Eva B. They search for survivors as they assume anyone alive needs assistance; instead they find a corpse in the nets, who is a Guatemalan crewmember and wonder where Captain Parker is. Jane keeps searching not realizing the danger she is in until the mishaps begin or the other illegal work Parker performed. The second Jane Bunker Maine mystery (see SLIPKNOT – not read by me) is a fabulous police procedural especially when the heroine is at sea; as readers will feel they are with her to guide the audience with little nautical things like climbing in and out of a moving lobster boat. The story line is fast-paced and the battle between environmentalists and competing economic interests over the use of the sea make for a wonderful whodunit as many people have strong green motives. Maritime mystery fans will appreciate this well written regional cozy especially when Jane takes us on the water.

Fuzzy Navel
J.A. Konrath
Hyperion Books
9781401302801, $23.95

Not long after learning that the most dangerous maniacal criminal Alex Kork committed suicide, that same crazy female arrives at Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels' house she shares with her mom in the Chicago burbs. The maniac quickly take control tying up with duct tale the homicide cop, her boyfriend Latham, her mom, her police partner Herb; and her wannabe partner Harry. She euphorically begins torturing her prisoners. Everything abruptly changes for the worse when Jack's latest enemies, a gang of vigilante snipers, surround the house with the intent of killing everyone inside the abode so they can claim the scalp of a cop or two. At about the same time petty thief Phin joins the festivities by entering Jack's dwelling. However, Alex and the snipers don't know Jack if you think she is going to sit idly by taped. The action is non-stop when someone entering the back of Jack's house and fails to answer her mom's question is that you Jack and instead asks where is Jack as the torture begins. The key to the tale is the underlying humor throughout in spite of the growing tension and seriousness of the situation; one more person after another enters the fiasco sort of like the classic Groucho cabin scene on the ship in A Night at the Opera. Yet make no mistake humorous to a degree, FUZZY NAVEL is a serious taut thriller starring a strong cast of fully developed people including that "Korker" of a psychopath.

The Black Path
Asa Larsson
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780385341011, $12.00, 1-800-726-0600

In Kiruna, Sweden, the corpse of the woman found on the frozen lake did not require an autopsy to see she was tortured. Police Inspectors Anna-Maria Mella and Sven-Erik Stainacke lead the investigation into identifying who the Jane Doe is and why she was so brutally battered. Anna-Maria learns who the deceased is and her connections as a superstar employee at Kallis Mining, an international company with incredible connections at the top of Sweden, Europe and beyond. Chief Prosecutor Alf Bjornfot knows if they are to make a case against politically connected Mauri Kallis, he needs a special top gun at the scene. He asks attorney Rebecka Martinsson to assist them as they make inquiries into the CEO of the firm whose assistant was found murdered on that frozen lake. Rebecka agrees as she needs work to move past her last harrowing case (see THE BLOOD SPLIT) in which she was physically injured and hospitalized and still emotionally traumatized. None of the participants yet realize how convoluted and complex the motive for the homicide is and how dangerous trying to prove it will be. This is an exhilarating Swedish police procedural legal thriller. The investigation is enhanced by insight into the lead females especially Rebecka who has not moved past the beating she took on her previous case and though she puts up a strong front still has qualms and doubts. The whodunit is well written with red herrings and plausible twists starting with brainstorming to identify who the victim is. The motive is especially fascinating as it seems just out of reach of the prosecution, the cops and the reader yet all the clues are laid out for the audience to know why. Asa Larsson provides a deep entertaining but icy Northern Swedish homicide thriller.

Rites of Spring (Break)
Diana Peterfreund
9780385341936, $10.00

Eli University senior Amy Haskel belongs to the Rose and Grave secret society where her moniker is Bugaboo. The R&G diggers try to break into the building hosting their rival secret society the Dragon's Head. However, the Dragonheads identify one person in the break-in, Amy. They assault her with a vengeance using childish pranks while destroying her property without any regard to the harm they cause her. Amy's former boyfriend Brandon asks her to help him with fellowship packages, which shocks her as he is the math whiz and she avoided numbers at all cost. Even more surprising he begins to hang out again with her when she knows his girlfriend belongs to DH. During spring break, Amy joins the diggers on an R& G owned island, but on the boat trip, she as a non-swimmer falls overboard and her life jacket fails her falling off instead. If she makes it to the island, more danger awaits her and the other Diggers. With a cast of quadrillion, young adult readers will need an access database to keep track of who is doing what and why to whom; yet somehow author Diana Peterfreund insures her myriad of secondary players, including a family and another group not mentioned above, have differing traits. Still this is Amy's tale as she finds her senior year RITES OF SPRING (BREAK) initially prank-filled but soon dangerously deadly. Over the top absolutely, but fun as Amy and the teen audience will wonder what's going on.

Jessica Z
Shawn Klomparens
9780385342001, $12.00

In San Francisco neighbors Patrick McAvoy and Jessica Zorich argue over enforcement of the rule that they not sleep together. The next day, the city is shut down as four bombs exploding on buses killed 108 people. Jessica's answering machine lists 37 calls including her beloved sister Katie in Boston and her beloved hysterical mom in Seattle. A stunned Jessica jumps Patrick, but he insists they adhere to her rule; no exception., Jessica is upset to learn that Patrick has been seen with Gretchen from his work. When she says to end the rule, he says no as he is not ready now. Patrick hosts a party for an artist friend where Jessica sees Gretchen and knows her. They get on well. She also meets lithographer Josh Hadden. When she mentions knowing renowned Greg Murrant, Josh says he knows him too. He wants to see the prints Greg gave her. Meanwhile she realizes that Gretchen is the notorious PitchBitch whose blog is popular amongst advertising experts. Josh visits Jessica at her apartment without an invitation. He demands to see the Murrant prints, which she show him. Jessica attends a presentation Josh provides. Afterward he asks her if he can draw her; she agrees. He then brings her to multiple orgasms. Patrick asks her if she slept with Josh; she throws his key at him and tells him to leave, which he does. She and Patrick have not talked in a month. She is seeing Josh instead and enjoys the sex, but as he works the lithograph project starting with scanning part of Jessica's body, she sees his dark side. The key fully developed players are quite different in outlook leading to a complex relationship drama in which the centuries' old art of lithography in a modern electronic media adds fascination to the strong mix. The ending seems appropriate; however, readers never get a motive for the terrorist bombings. Still this is an engaging contemporary tale starring real people shook by out of their control events.

Wind River
Tom Morrisey
Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55438
9780764203473, $13.99, 1-800-328-6109

His time in combat in Iraq still haunts Tyler Perkins; just ask his beleaguered wife Angela. Thus he has a second reason to take his octogenarian friend Soren Andeman fly fishing; the first being he promised to do so. The pair travels to WIND RIVER, Idaho for some getaway time. However, the R&R that Tyler expected is nuked when Soren reveals the real reason he wanted to come to Wind River, a place he has been to before. His dark secret frightens Tyler and if revealed could hurt those nearby including someone special to the eighty-six years old man. However, before he can come to grips with what Soren told him, the weather turns ugly making this respite into a battle of survival. This is an excellent buddy tale as an elderly honorable man with a troubling secret, a just as honorable vet with post traumatic stress disorder and the weather make for a deep character driven thriller. The story line is driven by the duel fuels of doing the right thing and surviving. Readers will relish this compelling tale as two men decades apart in age seek forgiveness and redemption in the wilderness, but as they battle to survive realize where they must truly go to achieve atonement. WIND RIVER is an excellent inspirational thriller.

Seduction Becomes Her
Shirlee Busbee
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
9780821780268, $14.00, 1-800-345-2665

Daphne Beaumont has always been there for her family as she loves them. When her brother inherits a title and estate in Cornwall, she expects a rise in their standard of living. She hopes the new affluence will enable her to find happiness. Charles Weston has come to Cornwall looking for closure; he wants to know more about the death of his odious younger half-brother Raoul. When he and Daphne are trapped inside a cave by an avalanche, he knows they must marry to avoid a scandal. Daphne is attracted to Charles, but has doubts about marrying him as she just wants time to take care of herself following years of family responsibility. However, someone else has caused problems for Charles and Daphne that makes a scandal seem like a Hyde Park picnic; he assumes his sibling the "Monster" who allegedly died two years ago somehow survived his lethal wounds and still lives. SEDUCTION BECOMES HER is an engaging historical romance starring two likable protagonists who fall in love, but the potential scandal, their family histories, and an unknown villain make it seem that they will never be together. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Charles, obsessing with a need to know, arrives in Cornwall; the locale adds freshness to this fine Regency romantic suspense that fans will want to read Shirlee Busbee's fine tale of love and danger.

Hotter Than Hell
Jackie Kessler
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
9780821781043, $15.00, 1-800-345-2665

Daun the Incubus is superb at seducing evil women; they cannot help but sleep with him and lose their soul that he brings to the King of Lust in Hell. However, he is stunned by his former Succubus Jezebel leaving Hell and seduction behind her for an appalling wretched human (see HELLS BELLES and THE ROAD TO HELL). Jezebel demands her former Incubus Daun stay away from her and her Paul. Feeling like a dog in heat, Daun obsesses with lust for his Jezebel. The King of Lust assigns Daun with bringing the soul of Virginia Reed to Hell, if he succeeds, which the literally cocky Daun knows is a foregone conclusion, he will become The First Principal of Lust, second in line to the Lust monarch. However when Daun sees his victim, he is shocked. She is Jezebel's doppelganger and worse heaven bound as she is a kind hearted innocent who deserves to go on that path. Still Daun tries to charm her though to his consternation for the first time he meets failure. Virginia wants him, but she refuses her need as she knows men leave and she cannot deal with Daun leaving so why start. With demons exposing him while trying to kill Daun and his victim thwarting him, fans will enjoy this amusing third erotic member from hell's struggle with love and job security. Daun goes from demon war to demon lust as he has met his match in pure Virginia (right name for this woman). The story line is lighthearted and thin, but so much fun from start to finish as Daun has to choose between earthly mortal love and hellish royal rule.

Storm Born
Richelle Mead
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
9781420100969, $6.99, 1-800-345-2665

Her stepfather trained shaman Eugenie "Odile" Markham in how to send back creatures who cross over from the Otherworld. Eugenie is excellent at her vocation, but now has a much more complex issue confronting her after she exorcised the lost soul from the sole of the sneaker. Wil Delaney asks Odile to rescue his sister Jasmine, who he says fairies abducted her; taking the girl back to their realm, which Odile knows is Otherworld. Although her beloved stepfather warned her never to cross over, Eugenie knows she must try to rescue the child. When she crosses over Eugenie finds herself the target of almost every male in Otherworld for they know she is the Dark Swan; the focus of a key prophesy involving a child she will birth. She also meets her biological father the Storm King who will sell her to the highest bidder while two men, Kiyo the spirit fox and King Dorian offer to help her retrieve the female and take her back to the mortal side; however Eugenie trusts no one but herself on this side. The tale begins as an amusing urban fantasy, but once Eugenie leaves behind the world of "Nike" to cross over it turns into a humorous investigative "quest" fantasy. The story line is fast-paced from the opening sneaker ploy and filled with non-stop action and characters who bring Otherworld to life. However, though the plot is obviously the introduction to the Black Swan saga, the sarcastic self deprecating heroine who is the focus of every Y chromosome bearer makes STORM BORN a fine fun fantasy.

Fast Track
Fern Michaels
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
9781420101867, $6.99, 1-800-345-2665

After their return from luxurious exile in Barcelona (see HOKUS POKUS) the Sisterhood sets up their newest headquarters on Big Pine Mountain, North Carolina. The new digs for the vigilante team is more of a military compound with access by cable car or helicopter only. Soon afterward, their mentor Charles Martin introduces the magnificent seven to their new employers, who have flown in during a stormy night by helicopter for more than just welcome to the team greetings. The visitors give the Sisterhood seven a blank check from their own pockets to find two billion dollars targeted for poor countries apparently embezzled from the World Bank. They accept the assignment though each knows the danger, but besides trying to return the 2B loot so the needy can have it, the blank check for them to fill in the amount will also help those in need. This is a refreshing albeit over the top of Big Pine Mountain (duh – it is the Sisterhood) thriller in which the magnificent Seven's significant others participate in active support roles to the modern day female Robin Hoods. The tale is engaging as the Seven and their cohorts show how a team working cohesively can achieve mission impossible.

Without a Backward Glance
Kate Veitch
c/o Penguin Group, USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780452289475, $14.00, 1-800-847-5515

On Christmas Eve 1967 in Melbourne Rosemarie McDonald tells her four preadolescent children (Deborah, Robert, James, and Meredith) she is stepping out to buy lights for the family yuletide tree. She never came home to the dismay of her four children. Instead, she flew to England; her kids were raised by their father, who from that night forward pretended his wife was dead; while Rosemarie never apparently took a backward glance to those she left behind who needed her. Four decades later, James meets his mother. Rosemarie who has always felt guilty about deserting her children know she must either flee into the night again or try to make amends as best as she can. Her adult children though they have families of their own never recovered from her vanishing as they learned loved ones leave and how to conceal any hurts. This family drama works because of the four adult children whose personalities differ as they coped with the abandonment in varying ways; four decades later each has big relationship issues as they never recovered from their mom leaving. Rosemarie is terrific as she tries to hide her guilt and remorse from James, but fails. Although her spouse suffering from elderly dementia is somewhat removed from a confrontation with his kids and Rosemarie over welcoming back the person who betrayed them, Kate Veitch provides a strong relationship tale of a shattered family who may find it is too late to reconcile as defense mechanisms have become forty year habits.

The Blackstone Key
Rose Melikan
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781416560807, $14.00, 1-800-223-2336

In 1795, young Mary Finch realizes she has no prospects and with her family poor must take the only job she can as a teacher at Mrs. Bunbury's School for Young Ladies. The thought of a future in hell makes Mary ill, but she has no other option. When she receives an invitation from her estranged wealthy Uncle Edward to visit him, Mary jumps at the chance as she hopes he will help her improve her financial status though the rift between her parents and him has been over two decades long. Thus she rushes immediately from Cambridge to Ipswich and ultimately near Lindham in Suffolk, but from the onset the trip is not carefree or tedious. Even before leaving town a highly anticipated horse race in Newmarket interferes with the beginning of her journey. Along the way she meets a dying man who warns her to be careful as nothing is quite like it seems as freetrader smugglers, English operatives and the French work coastal Suffolk while the two countries are at war. Two brave men offer her protection; military expert Captain Holland and social charmer Mr. Deprez, but she wonders can she trust either of them? This terrific historical fiction in some ways is a coming of age tale as naive sweet Mary receives quite an education from the start to the finish. The story line is fast-paced and vivid as 1795 England is brought to life. However, it is the support characters who Mary meets in her travels who turn THE BLACKSTONE KEY into a strong thriller. None are quite what Mary and the readers first believe they are as Rose Melikan provides a fully developed cast yet uses sleight of the hand to shrewdly fool the audience and heroine; this adds suspense as Mary begins to wonder who you trust if anyone. Fans will appreciate this deep late eighteenth century tale of intrigue.

A Sister's Hope
Wanda E. Brunstetter
Barbour Publishing
P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683
9781597892735, $10.97, 1-800-852-8010

The attacks on her family continue unabated. Her father's business is destroyed due to an arsonist and their cattle gunned down leading to a breakdown by her mother. Upset but resolute Martha Hostettler continues to pray to God for help, but also decides to investigate in order to expose the skunk and hopefully end the assaults. She hones in on Luke Friesen as the prime suspect, but quickly changes her mind about him because she is attracted to him even as she understands how illogical that is. Still as her belief in the Lord strengthens, she knows she loves Luke and thinks he might love her back, but the increasingly dangerous threat lingers over the Hostettler family. He joins her in an effort to uncover the identity of the culprit destroying his beloved's family while also framing him. The latest Sisters of Holmes County tale (see SISTER'S SECRET) is an engaging final tale as the mystery that has impacted the Hostettler family is uncovered at a danger to the amateur sleuths. The story line is fun to follow although there are passive debates over who the assailant is. However with the attraction taking a back seat to the mystery fans will appreciate Wanda E. Brunstetter's fine tale of finding love amidst the sleuthing.

Calico Canyon
Mary Connealy
9781597899383, $10.97

In 1867 Mosqueros, Texas, new schoolteacher Grace Calhoun dreads the arrival of the "Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse". As always her class of seven girls and eight boys consist of ten angels and the five Reeves' demons; ten years old twins Abraham and Isaac, and five years old triplets Mark, Luke and John. The rowdy rascals have Grace questioning her teaching skills while their widow father Daniel writes off their pranks as boys being boys. Deciding on peace the school board Solomon-like fires Grace and expels Daniel's children. Grave is heartbroken as she feels justice was not served and besides she needs the money to bring her ragtag family Hannah and the other children from Chicago. Worse, she knows her insane daddy Parrish, who has stalked her and ruined her life everywhere she flees to escape him, has physically arrived. In heavy rain with a ripped nightgown torn by Parrish, Grave flees through the window into the night cutting herself as she falls. Seeing a wagon, she jumps inside the back although she feels that God has forsaken her like everyone else has. In the wintry mix, Daniel goes home unaware of the stowaway. When he discovers her she is cut up badly and fevered. He takes her home, but the Reverend catches them and demands they marry; reluctantly they do as she fears he will be another Parrish who still stalks her expecting payment in full.

This engaging return to post Civil War Texas (see PETTICOAT RANCH) is an enjoyable western romantic suspense. The cast is strong especially the lead pairing, the impish quintet, and the villain. Readers will wonder if Grace survives her daddy, will she survive the rowdy rascally Reeves sextet as she feels she has gone from the frying pan into the fire.

Pleasure Unbound
Larissa Ione
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
044640103X, $6.99,

After overcoming the shock though not the grief of watching a demon murder her mother Tayla Mancuso is fixated into becoming a slayer. She joins the Aegis network of demon slayers as a human Guardian warrior and over time has become one of the best demon killers. During her last quest, she was brutally injured; ironically ending up in a demon hospital. Incubus Dr. Eidolon treats her over the objections of his brothers, who want the slayer dead; he refuses though he fears she is the avenging angel killing his species without regard. He learns a dark secret about his patient that changes both their outlooks. While she knows she mist kill the demon who saved her life to prove to her Aegis peers she remains true to the mission when all she wants to do is personally passionately pay him her hospital bill. The Ione world is dark and dangerous except for the flicker of hope caused by the light of forbidden love between the Guardian and the Incubus. The story line is fast-paced from the opening sequence when Eidolon at the hospital wants to kill his patient, but tries to save the ingrate's life instead. The tale never slows down as pressure mounts from the peers of the lead couple to assassinate their beloved while betrayal stalks and entices them. Romantic fantasy fans will appreciate the first Demonica tale as New York seems so bleak yet hopeful.

Magic in His Kiss
Shari Anton
0446617563, $6.99

King Stephen has kept his ward Nicole de Leon locked away at Bedloe Abbey for eight years waiting for the right deal to make. In 1153 the monarch decides the time is right for Nicole to marry a Welsh noble in order to tighten his rule. Frustrated with the king's misuse of his niece and having his own ambitious plans for her, Nicole's uncle arranges for her kidnapping. He asks Rhodri ap Dafydd to perform the abduction, but the warrior bard looks forward to competing for the Bard of Wales contest and wants no part of being caught between his liege lord and the king. Still he has little choice in the matter. However, Rhodri finds himself attracted to the outspoken brave psychic, but does nothing about his feelings as she is an aristocrat and he a commoner except risking his life to keep her safe. The third magical medieval romance (see MIDNIGHT MAGIC and TWILIGHT MAGIC) is a strong tale of love. The heroine is a political pawn the King uses to strengthen his rule; she serves no other purpose to the monarch or any of those in power. However, the Bard is the more fascinating protagonist as he is a fighter who hates fighting and would rather write poetic music, play the harp and sing. Although Nicole is the psychic, Rhodi makes the tale sing as the loving magic is in the music and the music is in him (paraphrasing the Lovin' Spoonful).

That's Amore
Wendy Markham
9780446618441, $6.99

Psychic rolling stone Daria Marshall has no ties preferring the life of the road to settling anywhere. She feels she is just like her mom who never could stay in one place; especially after a failed marriage. Thus Daria, who literally runs from the ghosts she can see, prefers being the queen of the road. She comes to New York to visit her sister. On the other hand Ralphie Chickalini has lived in the same Astoria, Queens house his entire life surrounded by his loving Italian-American family. However, when his father dies, his siblings want to sell the house and equally split the profits. Ralphie is the only holdout as he grieves Pops. When Daria and Ralphie meet for the first time, each feels the attraction in the melancholy face of the other, but this pair is polar opposites so love is not enough; or is it. In between and during Italian feasts, his late father plays matchmaker between his son and the woman who can still see him. This is a warm paranormal contemporary romance starring two nice people who do not relish change, but will need to adapt if they are to make it. The Astoria location is a delight as it provides readers a fascinating side of New York City as this part of Queens is more a suburban town than the typical Big Apple urban high rise environs. Although the constant changing perspective provides insight into key players due to wider perspectives on the same event, that technique also makes some moments difficult to follow; still fans will appreciate THAT'S AMORE expecting any moment the ghost of Dean Martin to sing the title of love in the burbs.

The Fall Of Rome
Beth Ciotta
Medallion Press, Inc.
1020 Cedar Lane, No. 2N, St. Charles, IL 60174
9781933836041, $7.95,

Rome Garrett was renowned for bringing hardened criminals to justice; his fame made him a legend in dime-store novels. However, the Wells Fargo detective fell from grace over six years ago when he killed a man while overextending the law and was with his pants down and gun un-holstered with a married woman. His beloved Kat Simmons left him and simply vanished. Rome falls apart, but now in 1878 he has started to regain his equilibrium with a position as a detective for the President Hayes sponsored Peacemaker Alliance (PMA). His assignment is to bring down train robber Bulls-eye Brady and to insure Kat's niece Frankie is safe from him. Kat resurfaces to bait Bulls-eye Brady but will need a totally responsible Rome, not the drunken womanizer she remembers, to help her. The return of PMA agents and their spouses (see ROMANCING THE WEST) enhances an enjoyable second chance at love western romance. The lead couple is a delightful pairing as she left him when he fell from grace; in her mind due to his cheating; others because he crossed the ethical line when he killed a man; in his mind he let down people especially his beloved. With a chance for redemption and love, the rise of Rome seems precarious as he knows defeating Brady and rescuing Frankie is not enough; winning back Kat is everything, but failure means the freefall of Rome. Beth Ciotta provides another excellent Reconstruction Era tale (see LASSO THE MOON).

If It's Not One Thing, It's a Murder
Liz Wolfe
9781933836393, $7.95

Skye Williams believes her marriage of over two decades to Craig is fine until she finds an amazon woman's lingerie under his side of their mattress. She confronts Craig who denies he has a mistress, but confesses he is a cross dresser. Skye is not happy with his confession, but believes him until she finds him naked in bed with a man. With no place to go except the mini-mansion of her friend Bobbie Jo, Skye moves there. When Bobbie Jo's husband collapses during sex, he is rushed to the hospital where he dies. An autopsy reveals he was given an overdose of beta blockers. His wife is the obvious prime suspect, but other people had motives too especially his son who contests his late dad's will. At the same time Skye's married friend Lily has had an affair with two men for over a decade and is thinking of adding a third trophy to her male collection. Skye finds a new job, a place to live and starts dating while mulling over how to explain all that has happened to her eighteen years old daughter. However, she also feels she and her friends are unsafe until the real killer is caught so she begins eliminating suspects one at a time hoping to prove the last one standing is the culprit. This tale is more a relationship drama than it is an amateur sleuth. The mystery scenes take place in between the friends discussing their male woes and dealing with the men in their lives and the life in their men (paraphrasing Mae West). The whodunit is well plotted though expected, but the three amigas make IF IT'S NOT ONE THING, IT'S A MURDER into a special contemporary tale.

Agnes Hahn
Richard Satterlie
9781933836454, $7.95

Three decades ago when she was four years old, Agnes Hahn moved in with her Great-Aunts Gert and Ella. Now years later, six months after placing Ella in an Alzheimer's home and the next day burying Gert, she heads to work at an animal shelter near Mendocino while thinking about the Voice that has always been with her. At the shelter stood Police officers Steve Wilson and Loreen Didier; Agnes thinks highly of these two cops and other law enforcement as they go after animal abusers. However this time they handcuff her and read her rights to her; the charge is three monstrous murders in the first degree. Detective Bransome drills her, but Agnes insists she was home the nights of the murder as she does not drive in the dark. Newspaper reporter Jason Powers covers the homicides for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, but also sees a bestselling true crime book. He makes inquiries into the Hahn family, uncovering a stunner; the accused Agnes has an identical twin, Lilin. However, he finds another strange spin, but before he can pursue it with Ella, her brother Eddie murders her only to have someone kill him with the evidence exclusively condemning Agnes. Shocked Jason feels if he can find the answer to the one question that has eluded him, he will have solved the case; why did Gert and Ella only raise Agnes? Each time Jason and the audience feel they solved the case; Richard Satterlie spins it in another direction with a stunning twist. The story line contains investigative and police procedural elements, but is predominantly a psychological thriller. Agnes will hook readers who get inside her head and learn her value system is structured around good and bad people as she perceives them. Although others like psychologist Dr. Leahy, Detective Bransome and reporter Powers are fully developed characters, the insightful discerning glimpse at the title protagonist makes for a strong tale.

The Amnesiac
Sam Taylor
Penguin Books
c/o The Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0143113402, $14.00, 1-800-847-5515

English expatriate James Purdew lives with his Dutch girlfriend Ingrid in Amsterdam. , The day before he turns thirty, James is climbing up the stairs in their apartment worried about a seemingly few seconds blackout he just suffered when he hears the phone shrilling. He rushes up the remaining stairs, but misses a step, trips and breaks his ankle. Soon afterward Ingrid walks out on him as he wears a plaster-cast. Purdew has had some recall lapses so he keeps a journal and begins to read his last entries. He decides to fill the memory gaps of three years ago by writing his Memoirs of an Amnesiac working from the present back a few years. He also goes home to Great Britain where he obtains work on a house renovation project hoping to remember. There he finds a nineteenth century Confessions of a Killer hidden inside a wall. THE AMNESIAC is an engaging character study starring a fascinating protagonist whose slowly recalling what he forgot and why his brain "erased" the memory. Readers will want to know what caused Purdew to go blank. The story line is fast-paced overall as James begins to learn the truth about himself and the manuscript he discovered, but when he turns reflective he slows down the proceedings. Still fans who appreciate a character driven thriller will want to read Sam Taylor's insightful look an amnesia victim trying to remember.

Church of the Dog
Kaya McLaren
9780143113423, $13.00

In rural Northeast Oregon, Edith and Earl McRae have been married for decades, but over time they have drifted apart though they live together on their farm. Edith reflects back that the somewhat reticent Earl may have loved her, but probably never thought of her as a friend. However while shaving seventy-nine years old Earl nicks his neck; he places toilet paper on the cut only to discover a cyst just like his late dog Blue had. He assumes it is cancer. Assuming the cyst is a warning sign that he will soon meet his maker, he is determined to do two things before he dies; he needs to regain what he believes he let slide; his ties to his wife and his estranged grandson Daniel, an Alaskan fisherman running away from home since his parents died years ago. Earl campaigns in person with Edith and by letter asking Daniel to come home to his grandpa's "land of success and failure". Mara O'Shaugnessy arrives in town as the new art teacher. She buys a pet, Harvey the Hog. Tim Grennan allows Mara and Harvey to reside on his family's ranch next door to the McRae farm Soon Mara's mischief brings happiness and chaos to all she meets especially her neighbors the McRaes. When Daniel returns, hr is worried about his grandpa dying, but instead he finds his grandparents happy; their catalyst Mara; but even she with her whimsy upbeat demeanor fears she will never reach the soul of the stoic sad fisherman. This engaging inspirational relationship drama is an interesting tale that rotates points of view between Mara, Edith, Earl and Daniel. Thus the story line is obviously character driven starting with Mara who works her optimistic magic bringing joy to all she meets, especially the elderly McRae couple. Although somewhat stereotyped with its New Age wisdom, Kaya McLaren provides an inspiring story that says fills the cup up if you feel it is half empty.

Vampyres of Hollywood
Adrienne Barbeau and Michael Scott
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312367220, $23.95, 1-888-330-8477

Hollywood is stunned when three top gun actors are murdered in two weeks. The prime link between the trio besides ghastly deaths at the hands of the Cinema Slayer serial killer is they are employees of powerful horror queen, Ovsanna Moore, head of a studio. Beverly Hills Police Detective Peter King leads the official investigation into the macabre homicides. What the cop fails to know is Ovsanna is a five century old vampire, who oversees a network of vampires, many of whom are movie stars. Ovsanna feels she must end the real life horror show that she knows targets her before King realizes the dead were undead and she too is a vampire. If she fails, Ovsanna will give up the good life to be reborn as someone else. This is an amusing, entertaining but somewhat inane paranormal police procedural in which Peter and Ovsanna rotate perspectives in their cat and mouse contest. Peter is an unknowledgeable modern day Van Helsing while Ovsanna is a twenty-first century CEO Dracula tycoon (vampires adapt). Fans will appreciate their witty war as Adrienne Barbeau and Michael Scott take an insider bite out of Hollywood, unscrupulous big business CEOs and dedicated literary cops in a satirical tale that asks who is the real dead one, the breathing cop with no life or the undead movie mogul with a fulfilling life.

Prodigal Son
Thomas B. Cavanagh
9780312377076, $24.95

Former police officer Mike Garrity plans to recover from surgery to remove a brain tumor (see HEAD GAMES). However, he considers the advice of his friend Jimmy Hungerford of A-Plus Investigators to become a private investigator as the cases are simple yet will keep him occupied. Before he can decide whether he feels ready, Mile attends the funeral of teenage suicide Victor Madrigas, a classmate of his daughter Jennifer; the late teen's grieving father Ben believes his son was murdered and after pleading with Mike that he will pay him to investigate, Mike agrees. Mike and fellow cancer survivor support group participant Debbie Watson are attracted to one another. They spend a night together. Her prognosis is very serious so in the morning she begs Mike to find her son she gave up years ago for adoption. Mike agrees. Finally his former wife Cam informs him she is carrying his child. Meanwhile after absorbing the shocker of being a father again, Mike finds Debbie's son, Jonathan Dennis, but his roommate Steven Schumacher keeps Mike from meeting him. When Mike breaks into their apartment, he is greeted by Jonathan's corpse and soon afterward jailed on suspicion of murder. Out on bail, Mike is shocked as Debbie is missing. Mike has enough on his plate with the cancer, but in some ways he agrees with Jimmy to get back to work soonest so as to avoid a self pity party; all those who care about him will drown him enough with their misguided sympathy. Thus by taking on the two cases, he becomes a role model while the audience obtains a hectic incredibly fast-paced investigative tale as Mike not so gaily and readers quite happily wonder what's going on.

Exile Trust
Vincent O'Neil
9780312380649, $23.95

In Exile, Florida, bank manager Ollie Morton is concerned that the auditors will find discrepancies especially with the safe deposit boxes as the owners have vanished and payments not received. Police Chief Denny Dannon recommends Ollie hire Frank Cole, who needs work due to REDUCED CIRCUMSTANCES, to find the missing clients. The bank's safe-deposit manager Susan Wilmington also informs Frank how a strange person with proper identity claimed to be the husband of Dorothea Freehoffer and emptied her box; soon afterward, they learned Dorothea just died in an accident and her spouse was buried two years ago. Frank investigates the Freehoffer scam that leads him to a real-estate swindle and a two decade old cold case homicide. He begins digging deeper angering those who want illegal activities including fraud and murder to remain a concealed scam. Frank is terrific as he always is (see MURDER IN EXILE) although the plot is so linear, a reader can see the ending almost from the beginning; on a cloudy day you can see forever (or at least the ending) as there are no twists or red herrings. Still Frank is at his best as his simple tracking job turns into an investigation into fraud and murder. Fans of the series will enjoy his latest efforts in Exile.

No Human Enemy
John Gardner
9780312376703, $24.95

In the summer of 1944 a V-1 rocket lands in a London monastery killing several nuns. Reserve Squad police officers Tommy Livermore and Suzie Mountford investigate the tragedy. The two lovers quickly conclude that one of the victims was murdered before the assault occurred while another turns out to be a man. Mountford and Livermore struggle to identify the victims while wondering if the rocket attack was a ploy to hide the earlier homicide. As they keep digging deeper, they soon begin to believe a plot much wider than a murder case with a diabolical coverup exists, but proof remains elusive. The fifth Suzie Mountford WWII police procedural (see TROUBLED MIDNIGHT and DAY OF ABSOLUTION) is a terrific entry in a strong historical mystery series that with the recent death of the author may prove to be the last tale. The support cast is a bit more steroetyped than usual (I expected Peter Lorre to appear at any moment), but no one will care as the audience obtains a deep look at 1940s Londoners sacrificing for the war cause while the two cops work a case in which every clue they uncover seems to complicate and convolute the investigation. Try solving a puzzle with many pieces, none of them shaped like the outer rim and no picture. However, as good as the mystery is, 1944 London owns John Gardner's fine WWII thriller.

Bitten to Death
Jennifer Rardin
9780316022088, $12.99

They believe the opportunity to destroy malevolent vampire Samos and his minion is near; so assassin Jaz Parks and her vampiric supervisor Vayl plan on the hit. However, when they return to the Trust to finalize their strategy, they walk into a shocker. Vayl is no longer in charge; instead the only vampire he created Disa is now running the show. Disa has been a nuisance to Vayl since he changed the alien. This time with her as the boss, Disa refuses to allow Vayl to work the field operation to take out Samos. On the other hand, Jaz will not sit idly by allowing Disa to own her Vayl as her relationship with him was just turning to a new more exciting level. Her missions are to kill Samos permanently and keep Vayl at her side not that of Disa, who now gives the orders. In her fourth CIA chick lit urban fantasy (see BITING THE BULLET, ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST and ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY) Jaz Parks is at her cheeky amusing yet exhilarating best. The story line told from her cynical perspective is fast-paced as she insures the paranormal species seem genuine and her mission essential especially winning the tug of war with Disa over Vayl. Thus the series is refreshed with a weird triangle in which the relationship between top CIA operative Vayl the vampire and his best subordinate has been evolving towards something personal but now with the return of Disa as their superior all bets are off. Jaz is at her mocking best in this engaging entry.

The Winter of Her Discontent
Kathryn Miller Haines
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061139802, $13.95, 1-800-242-7737

In 1943, wannabe Broadway actress Rosie Winter feels guilt and remorse as she just broke up with her boyfriend, sailor Jack, who is reported missing at sea. She and her roommate at Shaw House Jayne obtain work on the theatrical production of Goin' South, but Rosie fears the role will kill her career before it begins because she is part of the dance chorus and knows she can't dance; still it is work. However, as opening night looms, Rosie feels good she has not been fired (so far). Someone kills one of the stars Paulette; shockingly Rosie's friend Al, the small time thug who works for Jayne's boyfriend Tony as an elbow breaker, confesses. Rosie does not believe Al committed the crime, so sets out to prove he is innocent even while dealing with beefless nights and starlets, as broke as she, live lives of luxury. Although the final dance number seems somewhat anticlimactic, THE WINTER OF HER DISCONTENT is an entertaining WW II era New York tale. The amateur sleuth elements and the danger to Rosie and Jayne come late as the story line focuses on how the war impact people at home who sacrifice (some in strange ways like the black market repast industry that surfaces) to support the cause. Fans will enjoy this period piece in which the tidbits supersede the whodunit (see THE WAR AGAINST MISS WINTER for her previous home front WW II experience).

Michael Grant
9780061448768, $17.99

Abracadabra anyone over thirteen years old simply vanished. Preadolescent kids are stunned when they realize there is no one ordering them about. Soon that shock turns to fear as a tough mentality begins to create a social Darwinist environs. With the help of his kinetic power, Coates Academy charming delinquent Caine takes control of Perdido Beach with an iron rule. Sam also has power but he is reluctant to use it as he blames himself for the disappearance. Whereas some of the children look to townie Sam to take charge, Caine tightens his hold through his academy Freaks minion. War in Fallout Alley Youth Zone between the two sides is imminent; though turning fourteen next week means Sam is GONE. The obvious immediate perception is that of the Lord of the Flies in a Left Behind world that turns Wild in the Streets. The story line explores the reactions of the young when the older generations are suddenly GONE. Michael Grant targets teens, but does not dumb down his apocalyptic thriller, which will delight his audience especially with knowing what Sam knows will happen to him shortly; as he has one week left before he vanishes. Although he prefers not to get involved, he is a natural leader; as is Caine although their values differ. Thus good neighbor Sam expects an OK Corral like battle against Caine that he believes will determine the future, which he hopes is his legacy once he is GONE while his adversary's bully mentality is based on maximize your pleasure at the expense of others in order to live for today.

Jocelynn Drake
9780061542770, $7.99

Although the NIGHTWALKERS are a formidable almost invincible breed, Mira is unique as the only master of the element fire. The Fire Starter has lived for six hundred and three years quietly patrolling and stalking the night in her sector to rid the earth of the evil Naturi, but the ability to kill her adversaries with fire keeps her apart from even the Ancient Ones. Danaus the vampire hunter is unique also as he does not wear the protective silver cross; he has killed several vampires over the past month in her zone as Mira has observed him in action while her tongue erotically massages her fangs. He knows she has seen him and begins stalking Mira. She must choose between fight and flight so she challenges him. He proves more than human with his skills, but neither goes for the final kill at this time. However, a seemingly deadlier foe for both of them has emerged. This is an engaging urban fantasy as the audience will appreciate the tense gender battles between the Fire Starter and the more than human Vampire Hunter even if their physical fight is over the top with too much bravado and neither goes for the final kill. The story line is fast-paced with mounting tension from the onset that never abates. Sub-genre fans will enjoy entering Drake's world as this is a fun paranormal thriller.

Out Backward
Ross Raisin
9780061448751, $13.95

In Yorkshire lonely teenager Sam Marsdyke was strongly told to drop out of school when he was accused of attempted rape; he left the classroom and no charge, not even assault, was filed against him. He lives and works on the family farm along side his acrimonious angry father and his submissive silent mother. Increasingly the area and the central village are being gentrified by wealthy Southerners to the dismay of generational long timers like Sam's outraged old man. Sam sees fifteen years old Josephine Reeves, who has moved with her family from London onto the adjoining farm. Already hearing about Sam's scandalous incident, her father warns Sam to stay away from his daughter or else. Still the two teens becomes friends even as Sam stalks her sitting for hours on the nearby hill to catch a glimpse of his beloved. Jo encourages him to risk more. Finally she decides to run away and persuades Sam to accompany her; not that it took much. On their trek nothing goes right until Jo insists he let her go home, but he refuses. This is an astonishing disturbing look at two characters; one might be a sociopath manipulating the other, but who is the deranged one as Sam seems obvious but Jo seemingly has cleverly maneuvered him to her bidding, or has he been the one in control. The stunning stark cover enhances the sense of doom while the local dialect adds to the overall tension of an increasingly creepy feeling that this is not going to end well. Fans need to set aside plenty of time because this one sitting read will grip the audience with the obsess need to know who, if either or both, are left standing.

Jimmy the Hand
Raymond E. Feist & S.M. Stirling
Eos Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780060792947, $13.95, 1-800-242-7737

The Mockers enable the royals Arutha and Anita to flee Krondor and the assault of Duke Guy du Bas-Ytra. The irate city ruler demands his thugs bring him the head of teen thief Jimmy the Hand and the other Mockers who abetted the Prince in his and Princess Anita's escape. Not caring to delineate, the ducal's assassins go after all Mockers demanding they turn over the head of Jimmy the Hand to them or else. Knowing his allies are turning against him, Jimmy accompanied by Flora, a Mocker seeking her grandfather to start over, flee Krondor heading towards Land's End. Jimmy expects a respite in the Southern city, but instead the thief finds himself in the middle of a dark magic altercation. He tries to con his way out of a confrontation that could prove unhealthy. This is an entertaining Legends of the Riftwar tale but fans of the saga will need to take a step back to somewhat place the tale in its chronological order as Jimmy is the bravado thief just beginning to show his noble heart in his legendary tale. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action as the lead rotates; when Jimmy or the royals are front and center, the plot is top rate while when others take center stage it feels off kilter especially since some star one scene players. Enjoyable in spite some descriptive weather and geographical paragraphs repeated seemingly verbatim several times (don't need a photographic memory to realize this as it is jarring), fans of Midkemia will appreciate the latest entry as Jimmy shows why he is a fascinating protagonist.

Finding Stefanie
Susan May Warren
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781414310190, $12.99, 1-800-323-9400

Stefanie Noble is tired of being the responsible one while her two brothers (see RECLAIMING NICK and TAMING RAFE) got to do what they wanted. Unlike her siblings, who have seen a lot of the United States searching for their respective selves, she ventured off the family Silver Buckle Ranch for one term at college. Worse she has no dreams anymore wondering what happened to that little girl who wanted so much. Action movie star Lincoln Cash has come a long way from his youth when everyone frightened him and picked on him. Although he puts on the tough guy facade, inside he remains the same scared little kid. When he meets Stefanie, he feels a deep attraction that she shares with him. However, neither can make that first move besides the neighbors are natural enemies as he wants to open an annual film festival nearby she opposes Hollywood trampling her beloved Big Sky Country. The third Noble Legacy tale is a wonderful contemporary Montana romantic suspense with an arsonist wrecking Lincoln's dreams. The two likable stars each bring tons of baggage to their relationship with no place to store it except internally making no room for love unless they clean out some of their fears. The story line belongs to the lead couple as Hollywood is his facade to hide his misgivings and flaws while ranching is her facade hiding her uncertainties and faults. With much more going on, fans will enjoy Susan may Warren's latest Big Sky Noble saga.

Jerry B. Jenkins
9781414309040, $24.95

Pastor Thomas Carey was called at an early age to spread the Word and over the course of several years he became a pastor at different places around the United States. His last calling ended in a disaster because a layman wanted to be the power behind the ministry; something Thomas could not accept. He takes the position as chaplain at the SuperMax state penitentiary at Adamsville. Brody Wayne Darby has spent his whole life committing one crime after another starting when he stole at the Laundromat where he worked. As he grew older, he committed increasingly more serious crimes and did time. When he was released, he vowed to go straight until a woman hurt him and he killed her. He pleaded guilty and was sent to Adamsville. In the years he ministered at the prison, Thomas met no sincere inmate. He feels empty until he meets Brody; both come away from their encounters feeling as if God is working through them. Jerry B. Jenkins is one of the best Christian authors writing today. His latest work is a dark complex contemporary fiction tale driven by two seemingly opposite characters; their polar differences make each even more believable and the story line plausible. RIVEN is a memorable tale starring a man who feels he is a failure and another who only has death waiting for him in three years time. They met and both feel the Lord is working through them giving each what they need. This book will move the audience in so many ways and make them feel so many things. This is a masterpiece.

Winter Turns to Spring
Catherine Palmer & Gary Chapman
9781414311685, $13.99

Brad and Ashley Hanes are each considering ending their marriage. They are tired of constant fighting over bills and habits. They rarely do anything meaningful together. Their neighbors want to help the couple, but they have their own relationship issues. That is everyone except elderly widower Charlie Moore, whose spouse Esther just died. As he grieves his loss, the Hanes see someone who has lost his long time companion; both want the same long time from each other as the arguments seem trivial, but will either take that first step towards intimacy or will each assumes it is too late. The final novelization of the Four Seasons of Marriage is an interesting contemporary look at a couple struggling with seemingly overwhelming issues and major differences re how to deal with them. The story line is well written as winter roars like a lion but spring with its renewal promise including marital vows and love is coming. In some ways Charlie steals the show as the Hanes in spite of their fights seem too sweet. Still this is a fine entry in a solid series that reflects on marriage through the parable of the seasons of life.

Mad about the Boy?
Domores Gordon-Smith
Soho Press
853 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
1569475113, $24.95,

In 1923, mystery writer Jack Haldean attends the Silver Wedding Anniversary gala of his Aunt Alice and Uncle Philip at their country manor Hesperus. However the fete is dampened by the apparent suicide of Jack's friend Tim Preston. In financial trouble Tim served as secretary to detestable haughty Lord Lyvenden; a nouveau riche who paid for his peerage and a proper wife from his humongous munitions manufacturing profits although business has slowed since the war ended. Although everyone else assumes suicide, Jack has doubts that quickly become validated when Lyvenden is found dead with Jack's friend Arthur Stanton standing by the corpse. Jack investigates, but Stanton is gone. Meanwhile Jack's cousin Isabelle, engaged to wealthy banker Malcolm Smith-Fennimore, insists her beloved Stanton is innocent; and Lyvenden's wife Lady Harriet relishes her new status of wealthy widow. Throw in some angry Russians seeking stolen Czarist gold and Jack knows Superintendent Ashley has a difficult murder investigation to conduct. Jack's back (see A FETE WORSE THAN DEATH) in this entertaining historical mystery. The story line is fun to follow as the manor murder mystery is a combination investigative tale and a deep somewhat comedic (the humor feels flat and out of place) look at the post WWI fall of the aristocracy still cling to their estates even if they cannot afford them. The hero is terrific as he makes inquiries as if he is writing a novel, but alienates everyone. Readers will enjoy this fine period piece reminiscent of Carola Dunn's Daisy Dalrymple mysteries.

The Chorister at the Abbey
Lis Howell
9781569475089, $24.95

In Norbridge, England the serial killing Chorister frightens the members of the Abbey Chorus. Norbridge Abbey Chorus singer Tom Firth visits the Norbridge College Music Department after everyone has gone home for the day. He trips over the corpse of unpopular nosy storeowner Morris Little. His hysterical shouts bring Professor Alex Gibson to come over. The local police arrest several drug addicts who confess to the murder. However, TV producer Suzy Spencer and her boyfriend Robert Clark (see THE FLOWER ARRANGER AT ALL SAINTS for their previous snooping) have problems with the quick arrests as the victim was holding a Psalter that was no longer with him; it seemingly disappeared and they feel is a key clue to the identity of the real culprit. They compare preliminary notes with Alex, who is still struggling with a nervous breakdown after divorcing Music Department deputy Chair Edwin Armstrong. The three amateur sleuths investigate even as several odd near deadly incidents occur as if someone is warning them off. The cast especially the amateur sleuthing trio is fully developed so that the reader understands the lead threesome and what motivates them to turn into detectives. However, that is a double edge sword as their baggage at times overwhelms the prime whodunit. Still fans will relish their efforts to prove the police are wrong, which angers the cops, as Lis Howell's latest Norbridge Chronicles Murder Mystery entertains her audience throughout.

Chain of Evidence
Gary Disher
9781569475003, $13.00

In Australia Police Inspector Hal Challis returns home to Mawson's Bluff in the Australian Outback, as his father is dying. Sergeant Ellen Destry takes over running the Peninsula East's Crime Investigation Unit in Waterloo, Queensland temporarily. At the annual Waterloo Show, ten years old Katie Blasko vanishes; shockingly her mother waits twenty-four hours before reporting her missing to the cops, who know how critical the first few hours are in terms of retrieval. To her shock her superiors want her to close the case though she fears a pedophile ring may be operating in the peninsular. Meanwhile in Mawson's Bluff, a corpse is found inside a plastic bag lying on top of a coffin buried four years ago. Inside is Challis' odious brother-n-law who vanished at the same time the coffin was interred. Challis' sister Meg assumed he was alive as she has been receiving junk mail that she thought came from him since he left her. He unofficially investigates. There are obviously two major subplots; both are well written and could stand alone as investigative tales. However, rotating back and forth subtracts from the overall impact of each in spite two well written multilayered story lines that come across as rotating novellas. Still Gary Disher provides his audience with an engaging Australian police procedural as Challis is out of town conducting an unsanctioned private investigation re his family while Destry works a police procedural inquiry into a kidnapped child. Putting Destry in charge of dealing with media, the brass, and politicians refreshes this excellent series.

A Darker Side
Shirley Wells
9781569475096, $24.95

Former forensic psychologist Jill Kennedy left police work following a suicide on her last profiling case. She moved to remote Kelton Bridge planning to author books and never to work a police investigation again. However, her former lover, Lancashire DCI Max Trentham pleads with Jill to assist him on the investigation into the murder of teenager Martin Hayden; the victim had disappeared only to reappear floating in a canal with his head fractured. She reluctantly agrees to assist him and they soon interview Martin's mother, Josie, who admits he was not the biological son of her spouse George, but that of a traveling salesman. Soon after their meeting, someone kills Josie and another teenager. Max thinks serial killer, but Jill feels otherwise as the link remains Martin, which may mean Josie's past is the key element. This is an engaging British police procedural starring a reliable cop who becomes desperate when his son is threatened (though that subplot seems too off kilter to believe) and a reluctant profiler who works the case differently than the officials. The key to this fine whodunit is that Jill and Max though still attracted to each other don't jump into each other's arms. Although the climax is obvious, A DARKER SIDE is a fine psychological profile police procedural (see INTO THE SHADOWS for Max's previous case).

A Summer Affair
Elin Hildebrand
Little, Brown & Company
c/o Grand Central Publishing
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
0316018600, $24.99, 1-800-759-0190

Nationally renowned but retired glassblower, Claire Danner Crispin agrees to co-chair the Nantucket's Children Summer Gala; she accepted the position for two reasons: one is her four children and the second is the other chair; her high school boyfriend rock star Max West. Claire also agrees to make a special glass item to sell at the accompanying auction. When she meets the charity's director Lock Dixon, they are attracted to one another. Each has a spouse and have problems with their marriages. Claire's marriage has lost its heat as she and her spouse "Underwhelming" Jason have drifted apart and Lock's wife is mentally impaired following a nasty car accident. Will this prove the most wonderful summer of their lives or the most heartbroken? Claire makes this deep character study work as a middle age mom who gave up her glassblowing career in spite of national acclaim to raise the kids only to find her marriage on life support at best with her leaning towards pulling the plug. Fans will wonder whether she will shag Lock, Max, Jason or no one as this is the momentous summer of her discontent.

Open Line
Ellen Hawley
Coffee House Press
27 N. 4th Street, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401
9781566892094, $14.95,, 1-800-283-3572

In the Twin Cities, late-night radio talk show host Annette Majors jokes on the air that the Vietnam War was a government hoax. Whereas before she made her sublime commentary, Annette seemingly was going nowhere in radio; after the remark she suddenly has more than fifteen minutes of fame as her show is so hot it goes into national syndication. Even her personal life awakens when rich Republican supporter Walter Bishop begins to court her. Walter uses her "belief" to launch a presidential bid for a relatively unknown wannabe and radical conservative Stan Marlin who supports her stand. Heeding their advice, Annette refuses to back down from her stance that there never was a Vietnam War. While some Viet Vets thinks she is a buffoon; others protest; and some still reliving their horrors seek closure through her. This superb satire showcases the power of the media in which misinformation, disinformation, omissions, and fabrications are the norm. The key to this terrific tale is the players seem genuine especially Annette whose eloquent defense of her radical revisionism rings true. For those who reject the underlying concept remember there is an Iranian president denying the Holocaust; many people disbelieving the moon landings and a prominent right wing talk show host who using clever questioning of the vice president made it sound like Richard Clarke was below the inner security sanctum before 9/11. It is not WHAT HAPPENED as McClellan has said, it's the spin. Well written and entreating, fans who appreciate a biting condemnation of the news will understand that Eisenhower's military-government complex omitted the third partner the media.

Bordeaux Betrayal
Ellen Crosby
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781416551669, $25.00, 1-800-223-2336

One year ago at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, Lucie Montgomery became the vintner at her family's vineyard. Although a lot has happened in that time (see THE CHARDONNAY CHARADE and THE MERLOT MURDERS), Lucie enjoys her work. Lucie hosts a charity event in which dinner is served at Mount Vernon. Supper guest speaker wine writer Valerie Beauvais implies that the prize item at the upcoming charity auction, a bottle of Bordeaux allegedly purchased by Thomas Jefferson in 1790 as a gift to George Washington, is suspect. Valerie and Lucie plan to inspect the wine first hand to insure thee is no duplicity, but the doubter dies in a car accident before she can travel to the Montgomery Estate Vineyard where the Bordeaux is stored. Suspecting foul play to perhaps hide a fraud, Lucie investigates a crowd that she calls friends while her personal life turns even more complicated. Although there are too many sidebars complicating a complex amateur sleuth, fans will appreciate sipping wine while Lucie performs the field work. The story line combines a strong mystery with several personal incidents (too many perhaps) and a terrific insightful look at wine myths and history especially amongst the Founding Fathers. Fans will toast Ellen Crosby for a fine Virginia wine country whodunit.

Devil Bones
Kathy Reichs
9780743294386, $25.95

Forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan is in Charlotte, North Carolina working as an instructor at UNC-Charlotte and also at the office of the Chief Medical Examiner. She is called out of a boring college meeting by ME Dr. Larabee, who asks her to go to a house where a plumber broke through a wall only to see a previously concealed cellar with a cauldron with a skull on it behind the wall. Temperance arrives at the scene and she sees two cauldrons with the human skull on one of them but it is missing the jaw. She takes it to lab to examine the find. She determines the skull is that of a black teenage female, but cannot decide on when she died. The two cauldrons contain objects used in Afro-Carib religious ceremonies. While Temp tries to identify the victim, a torso of a young male is found with satanic symbols on it. An evangelical councilman plans to use the satanic angle to further his political aspirations by pointing at a person who is obviously innocent. When two more murders occur, Temp interprets the notes of the murdered cop who worked the case, but that only leads her to danger from a vile killer who has no qualms of committing another homicide. Kathy Reichs brilliantly simplifies the forensics sciences without dumbing down the theories or supporting facts, which turns DEAD BONES into a terrific read. There are plenty of viable suspects but no prime person of interest. Thus the protagonist and the police have their work to end the killings. Temp is strong willed who retains her femininity and sense of humor as she works with human remains and living humans while seeking clues to her current case. Readers will enjoy this in depth complex thriller.

Eve Kenin
Dorchester Shomi
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780505527615, $6.99, 1-800-481-9191

In 2093 in the sub zero Northern Wastelands Like her siblings Wizard and Yuriko Tatiana is a special person due to her incredible genetic skills. However, she has not sat on her potential; pushed beyond endurance by Duncan Bane she has honed herself into a super person reading minds and using a quick chop of her hand which can slice off a limb. However, it is her mind that makes her unique as nothing disturbs her. Nothing disturbs her in the slightest until now when she meets Tristan; her sixth sense tells her to kill him so there is no doubt whether he is her enemy or not; however, her body betrays her for the first time as she knows he has the power to make her heart beat out of control. Neither has time to explore their attraction. They are trapped in an isolated deep underground lab stalked by a maniac who plans to release a plague on humanity as the culprit has on Tatiana and Tristan. Time is running out for them to escape, but both fears that if they leave the compound they might prove to be pandemic carriers. High octane from the moment the audience joins Tatiana in the late twenty-first century in Port Uranium and five years later in the Northern Waste (graphic geography in a few concise words). Tatiana is a tough kick butt heroine and readers will wonder whose side the enigmatic Tristan is on as well as how he knows about Little League. However, the paradox facing the lead couple makes this superb futuristic science fiction so worth reading. Each wonders what to do trapped underground in a wasteland in which they doubt they can ever leave.

Eternal Pleasure
Nina Bangs
Leisure Books
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
0843959533, $7.99, 1-800-481-9191

For 65 million years, Ty's essence has been locked away until it is time; his last body he possessed was a Ty Rex. However, now his chief Fin has summoned him and ten other prehistoric predators to save mankind; a species they are unfamiliar with. The Eleven must battle the evil Nine who plans to destroy humanity on 12-21-12 as the Mayans predicted. Thus Ty and his dinosaur companions are quickly given enough information on humanity to mingle. On 11/11/11 at 11:11, Ty returns to earth landing in Ireland, but must go on to Texas. Kelly Maloy is hired to chauffeur Ty Endeka around Houston for the next few weeks. She has no earthly idea who her client is or the paranormal war he is engaged in against powerful foes. She knows he is hot with a dangerous predatory look about him as if he wants to eat her. She will soon learn more than she would have wanted to know. ETERNAL PLEASURES stars off with a bang and never slows down from the moment that innocent Kelly picks up Ty, a man who has seen his first stars in 65 million years. The story line never slows down as the enemy takes the battle to the streets of Houston. Although Kelly adjust rather well perhaps too easily to her world of twenty first century physics turned upside down and in and out, readers will appreciate this powerful urban romantic fantasy as fans will believe these star crossed lovers who team up to try stop the end of the universe from creeping closer to happening will find a way to be together eternally.

Siren's Song
Trish Albright
0843960868, $6.99

Alexandra Stafford loves sailing the high seas especially as the captain of her ship. Although danger can come from pirates, slave traders, official navies, the weather, or in her case her stalking enemy Paxton nothing fazes the courageous sailor. Even when she captured and sold into slavery in Monaco, Alex remains optimistic as she assumes this is another adventure for her. That is until the Duke of Worthington, Joshua rescues Alex from slavery. Afterward he meets her at galas hosted by the Ton in London. He already admired her spirit and has a desire to help her learn the meaning of a prophecy involving the SIREN'S SONG although he fears for her life. She feels fear for the first time in her life as she prays her obsession will not lead to the death of her beloved Joshua or her family. This an exiting late eighteenth century action-packed pirate romance in which Captain Trish Albert and her crew of readers sail the seven seas. The plot is a bit over the top, but no one will care because of Alex who sets the tone with her courage and need to know; which proves infectious as the admiring audience will want to know also.

Daughter of Egypt
Constance O'Banyon
9780843960068, $7.99

In 44 BC at a Roman marketplace, Thalia tries to steal food, but is seen. She flees hiding behind a noble woman who says nothing to her pursuers. The wealthy Egyptian Lady Adhania takes the street urchin home with her to raise her as her daughter. Over time she forgot her beggar existence across the Mediterranean until in 36 BC a one-eyed man, who had stalked her years earlier in Rome, kidnaps her. Frightened, she becomes further shocked when warrior Count Ashtyn kidnaps her. Thalia cannot fathom why the sudden interest in her. She soon learns the answer to her question when Ashtyn takes her to the island kingdom Bal Forea where she is Princess Thalia and soon to be Queen and Ashtyn her husband the king. Almost a decade since the events of LORD OF THE NILE and SWORD OF ROME, DAUGHTER OF EGYPT is a terrific ancient historical romance that starts in Rome, moves to Egypt, and ends up on an island. Thalia is a brave person who learned to adapt to the situation as a beggar while the courageous Ashyny proves her equal willing to die to keep her safe. As with the previous two historical tales, this excellent entry that uses real persona like Antony and Cleopatra bring to life the Mediterranean in the first century BC.

Blood Sport
Judith E. French
Love Spell
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
9780505527578, $7.99, 1-800-345-2665

FBI Agent Jillian Maxwell is leading the investigation into a serial killer who has murdered at least twenty-three times in two years. The psychopath slices the victim's throat and leaves behind the body by the Atlantic Ocean. Taunting the Fed, the culprit sends her post cards. Her current card leads her to believe the next death is to occur shortly in Ocean City, Maryland. To assist her, the Feds assign Agent Reed "Cowboy" Donovan, a single father with two kids, to her team. When she mentions Ocean City, he makes it clear that her theory is stupid. She ignores his rant and goes undercover to draw the killer to her in Ocean City. However, even with Reed at her side (and h er bed), she miscalculates as she learns the deadly way that she is the goal of a BLOOD SPORT contest between predators. This is an exciting serial killer romantic suspense with the twist of a lethal club of sorts playing deadly games. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action as Jillian offers herself up as cheese in a cat and mouse ploy; unaware that there are more than one feline preying. Although the romance seems inappropriate and detracts from a great thriller, fans will enjoy Judith E. French's latest Blood coastal police procedural (see BLOOD TIES and BLOOD KIN) and want more tales starring the lethal sports club.

Electra Galaxy's Mr. Interstellar Feller
Candace Sams
Love Spell
0505527626, $6.99

If the assignment was anything but illegal intergalactic weapons dealers Earth Protectorate Force Captain Sagan Carter would have pleaded with her superior to find some other agent. However, the earth cop knows how dangerous weapons of mass destruction in the wrong hands can be; so she grimaces as she must work with arrogant Oceanun Enforcer Keir Trask to prevent the deal. To enable them to go undercover, Keir enters Mr. Interstellar Feller competition where the exchange is expected to occur. Keir assumes he will be paired with an idiot as he stereotypes earth dwellers as being stupid and uncivilized. However, he finds his new partner has beauty and brains as she handles their assignment with finesse except when he stares at her eyes and sees the heat he feels there. However, he also feels guilt as he has hidden from Sagan his other mission. Gender bending Sandra Bullock's version of the Miss America contest and placing it inside a romantic science fiction police procedural thriller, Candace Sams provides readers with an engaging lighthearted frolic. The lead couple is a fun pairing as each comes to the police teaming with major biases about the other's species. In an interesting galaxy and starring two strong lead characters, the plot is enjoyable and filled with peril but it is not deep tale. Still fans will appreciate this entertaining creative tale while demanding Pluto Pillow Mints.

The Apocalypse Directive
Douglas MacKinnon
9780843960884, $7.99

In the very near future, the American people elect an evangelical Christian president Shelby Robertson, who is now in the third year of his second term. He appointed true believers to his cabinet posts, but none except his most inner circle of trusted advisers realize he is a pure fundamentalist who believes that the Word of his version of the bible and his messages from God supersede that of the Constitution. He strongly feels that Jews, Muslims, other religions, and non Fundamentalist Christians need to be eradicated so that heaven can come to earth. The president accepts that his dreams come from God instructing him what to do. He has built an underwater complex Neptune that will house 5000 disciples when he dispatches the total military arsenal on an unsuspecting world including those Americans he leaves behind. Hos followers,The Christian Ambassadors, have infiltrated every aspect of the government even the military; they wait for the Word while the Judas Group including the Vice President seek a Hail Mary to prevent a man-made pandemic hell on earth. Before the current administration no one would believe that the premise behind THE APOCALYPSE DIRECTIVE is plausible, but few would doubt that now; with a few nuances much of this exciting cautionary tale could have happened. There is no question of secret governmental groups with no oversight or any accountability making policy whether it is Iraq or energy (remember Cheney's Energy Initiative) while the White House has the leader who admits he goes with his feelings rather than all the facts. Douglas MacKinnon extrapolates somewhat the Bush Imperial presidency's pampering of the Fundamental Right into a frightening chilling tale that will scare readers to their souls because it suddenly seems possible. Fast-paced while the clock ticks away as Armageddon seems certain, the Supreme Court would probably have deliberated 5 to4 (with the five holding session inside Neptune that THE APOCALYPSE DIRECTIVE is constitutionally legal because they would say In God the Founding Fathers trusted.

The Jigsaw Man
Gord Rollo
9780843960129, $7.99

On the verge of committing suicide, Michael Fox is stopped by a stranger who does not care less if he kills himself. However, he does offer Michael two million dollars for his right arm. Stunned, Michael agrees to give up his arm for cold cash on the line. The surgeon takes Michael to a secretive operating room. Meanwhile Michael begins to have doubts whether the money is worth his limb. As he reconsiders his agreement, Michael quickly realizes two disturbing facts. He is not the only "donor" and his host has plans to remove other body parts as needed from any of these fools. Michael demands release from the contract but the surgeon locks him away as the only way out is as a corpse. This is an exciting thriller sort of like Dr. Frankenstein in the Twilight Zone. The story line is fast-paved with a steady level of tension that never soars very high although some graphic surgical scenes will take readers out of their comfort zone. Michael is the key as the audience will wonder whether he has the will to live as the surgeon selected him because he was about to kill himself; the prerequisite for a position with the surgeon. Gord Rollo writes an engaging cautionary tale that questions the sources of the harvesting of body parts.

Ghost Walk
Brian Keene
9780843956450, $7.99

He Who Must Not Be Named begins a plan to return from the other side to destroy the world. In LeHorn's Hollow, Pennsylvania widower Adam Senft knows first hand how deadly and evil a supernatural beast can be. When Adam caught his wife in bed with a satyr, he killed his spouse; other women were also frolicking with this malevolent creature (see DARK HOLLOW). Standing along side with Adam in what is expected to be a deadly last stand is mage Levi Stoltzfus, who the Amish excommunicated for his dabbling with dark forbidden forces; and reporter Maria Nasr, who was seeking a good story, but never considered becoming a real modern day Kolchek. Levi says with Halloween approaching the veil will be at its thinnest and most vulnerable for Nodens, the real name of He Who Must Not Be Named, to cross to the mortal realm. Inadvertently enabling the chances of this wickedness achieving his objective to cross over and obliterate the planet is promoter Ken Ripple's holiday attraction set in a place known for its evil legends. The return to eerie LeHorn's Hollow is an entertaining horror thriller starring a nasty malevolence and the overwhelmed mortal opposition. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action and plenty of gloom and doom atmosphere. However, partially because the victims of DARK HOLLOW were loved ones of the hero, the plot is not quite as frightening. Still no one provides as scary a tale as Brian Keene does when he showcases how isolated small town rural America remains even in the information age.

Tower Hill
Sarah Pinborough
9780843960525, $7.99

In Maine college roommates Steve and Liz are excited to be accepted by Tower Hill as incoming freshmen. At the same time that the two students look forward to the semester, Jack arrives posing as Father O'Brien, a priest he killed with assistance from his friend Gray Kenyon, a teacher at the school. These two psychopaths have come a long way from finding a chest filled with documents in a cave in Afghanistan. They seek two objects with Jack finding his first and then locating the red stone meant for Grey. As the duo becomes less human, they begin to change the townsfolk into zombies they control. Liz and Steve realize something ugly and supernatural is occurring in Tower Hill; they believe they must fight it, but have no idea what or how only why. TOWER HILL focuses on the basic essences of human nature and supernatural evil; however Sarah Pinborough does this with a fascinating twist. The prime players are not the heroic somewhat stereotypical Liz and Steve; but instead the story line predominantly concentrates on Jack and Gray; readers know them better than their two student opponents. Thus paranormally caused evil has a human face with a deep look inside their rational thoughts that seem logically yet perverse as if a different value system motivates them. Fans will appreciate this strong horror thriller in which the malevolent duo owns the story line.

Biding Her Time
Wendy Warren
Silhouette Thoroughbred Legacy
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373199150, $4.99,

Blacksmith Audrey Griffith is thinking about quitting Kentucky's Quest Stables. However, one of the owners asks her to do a favor; accompany family member, vintner, Shane Preston, as he attends wine shows throughout the continent. She agrees as the all expense trip sounds like heaven although she has a qualm that Shane prefers a real assistant not some bimbo candy or working class muscle babe as he perceives her to be. When they first meet, each feels the attraction. Shane is especially euphoric that the farrier is accompanying him as he knows almost immediately he wants her for more than just a one night stand. Half way in love with Shane, Audrey cannot commit to any long term relationship. Shane realizes if he wants to win the prize of the love of his life, he will need to be patient like he is with winemaking. With an engaging contemporary wine and horseracing backdrops though the time at the stables and tracks are somewhat limited; BIDING HER TIME is Audrey's show as the impish heroine is feisty and tough on the outside, but extremely vulnerable and susceptible to hurt inside. Shane is a solid male lead, but win, place and show belongs to the wonderful female.

Nancy Holder
Silhouette Athena Force
9780373389834, $5.50

NSA operative and Athena graduate Allison Gracelyn code name Delphi is stunned when she realizes she has been framed as a traitor. Only a superior could have accomplished this deed that is so perfectly set up that anyone who did not know Allison would believe she did the deed; she considers perhaps her new boss might be involved while Agent Selena Shaw Jones warns her that an FBI operative is at the center of the frame. Besides needing to clear her name, Allison knows that a brilliant but insane daughter of the late Arachne is planning a major terrorist attack on the United States. While on the run, she must find a way to prevent the aerial bombings. Her only hope is with her NSA contact Morgan Rush, who has been told to bring her in dead or alive. However, he thinks someone high up in the NSA has set her up so instead of securing her, he joins forces with her to prevent a disaster on American soil and exposing the traitor. This strong entry in a powerfully exciting romantic suspense series hooks the readers from the onset as Allison knows immediately (from the SSJ text message she is "compromised") the exorbitant cost to her mom and the Athena Academy. Thus the heroine feels some guilt as she ponders what she could have done to keep the school she cherishes and the mom she loves and admires from harm. When she and Morgan hook up, readers will be in for quite a ride as the tension from the pending attack is exponentially raised by the tension between them. Nancy Holder writes a fabulous Athena Force romantic suspense thriller.

Picture of Perfection
Kristin Gabriel
Silhouette Thoroughbred Legacy
9780373199167, $4.99

Quest Stables' veterinarian Dr. Carter Phillips knows he is a key focus of the scandal that has rocked his employers and the thoroughbred world. He desperately wants to clear his maligned name, which will likewise clear his stables' reputation. At an auction, he is stunned to see a painting up for bid. The horse is a twin to his stables' Leopold's Legacy; winner of the Derby and the Preakness before his pedigree became an issue and the Triple Crown dream apparently vanished before the Belmont Stakes was run; fraud became his new name. Carter asks the artist about Picture of Perfect and whether she and her family will allow DNA testing; outraged and worried about her family's future Gillian Cameron says no. However, as they fall in love, she wants to assist his investigation. Kristin Gabriel provides a terrific romantic mystery tied to a horse racing scandal that rocks a major stable on the verge of a Triple Crown. The story line is as fast as Secretariat raced the Belmont as Carter and Gillian fall in love, but Picture of Perfect divides them. Horse racing fans will especially enjoy this engaging tale.

Something to Talk About
Joanne Rock
Silhouette Thoroughbred Legacy
9780373199174, $4.99

Two years ago LAPD cop Dan Emory died during a drug bust leaving behind his wife Amanda and their two preadolescent sons. Deciding nine years old Kiefer, six years old Max and her needed a fresh start Amanda obtains work as an office manager at Quest Stables in Kentucky. Kiefer especially adulates trainer Robbie Preston, whose womanizing reputation is known throughout the Bluegrass State. Her son wants Amanda and Robbie to date, but she still mourns her loss while he feels a single mom with two kids is out of his league; besides which his star horse Leopold's Legacy; winner of the Derby and the Preakness, has been banned from racing due to a breeding controversy that has surfaced just before the Belmont. Still both are attracted to one another and an insistent young matchmaker keeps coaxing them. Although much of the plot is spent on the racing farm, SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT is a straightforward contemporary romance with some insight as to what happens behind the scenes of a major stable and a look at a trainer's job. The external suspense from Los Angeles comes late, but by then fans will relish Robbie's mentoring of Keifer while he and the lad's mom do a love tango in which both try not to dance together.

Flirting with Trouble
Elizabeth Bevarly
Silhouette Thoroughbred Legacy
9780373199143, $4.99

Eight years ago, public relations specialist Marnie Roberts and Aussie trainer Daniel Whittleson had a hot affair that ended abruptly when he left without a word to her. She thought he was her love forever, but though he felt similar he blamed her for losing his chance at the big time of thoroughbred racing. They meet up when Marnie handles the spin of a woman who shot Daniel's father. They are pushed further together as the Preston family hires her to help them survive the breeding scandal that has ravaged their credibility just after their star horse Leopold's Legacy takes the Preakness. Both immediately know the attraction remains strong, but neither will take the first step towards the winner's circle of love. FLIRTING WITH TROUBLE, the first Silhouette Thoroughbred Legacy tale of the tails, is a fun contemporary second chance at love romance starring two likable and vulnerable lead protagonists who belong together now as they should have over the past eight years. The story line gets out of gate and moves around the track smoothly; however a late fortunate happenstance causes a stumble near the finish line. Still fans will enjoy this fine horseracing romance.

Beast of Darkness
Lisa Renee Jones
Silhouette Nocturne

When something strange occurs in the neighborhood, everyone knows to call Sarah Meyers and her paranormal investigative team. Thus when unexplained happenings occur in Nowhere, Texas, Sarah and her squad arrives at the scene to study what is reported as supernatural phenomena. In Nowhere, Sarah meets Knight of the White Max. He is on "trial" within his group for breaking a major taboo when he killed a human. No excuse for such a code violating act is acceptable for a Knight of the White; not even the fact that he saved a beast taming master, the mate of another Knight. However Max quickly realizes Sarah is his beast taming soulmate, but he refuses to claim her as his because he expects to fail the knight's test. The newest Knights of the White romantic fantasy (see BEAST OF DESIRE and BEAST WITHIN) is a terrific thriller starring a courageous heroine and a brave soul who knows his future is so bleak he cannot proclaim her as his. The story line is fast-paced, but the paranormal subplot takes a back seat to the relationship between the fallen knight and his "ghostbusting" lifemate who rejects his denials.

His Forgotten Forever
Michele Hauf
Silhouette Nocturne

Vampire Truvin Stone takes an accidental blow to his head from the holy water terrorists (in their mind saviors), which leaves him suffering from temporary amnesia. H wanders confused but recognizes the Excel energy Center and Saint Paul Cathedral so assumes he will recover his lost memory quickly. Reporter Lucy Morgan sees his bewilderment and has a need to help him; she brings the man who says his name is Truvin Stone, he thinks, to her home. Later he tells her people are stalking him although he is unsure why. Thus she remains ignorant that Truvin is a vampire. Lucy and Truvin are attracted to one another, but he begins to recover his memory. He knows he committed atrocities that make change for him seem out of reach; however Lucy refuses to accept his impossible relationship quotient even as his stalkers seem to be closing in on him and anyone who offers him solace. The premise of a vampire suffering amnesia is a unique concept that brings a fresh spin to this entertaining supernatural romance. Thus the pair falls in love as Truvin recalls the atrocities of his past; thus he feels unworthy of the intrepid woman he cherishes, but also fears he might one day harm her. Michel Hauf provides sub-genre fans with a brisk innovative vampiric romantic suspense.

Lord Tophet
Gregory Frost
Del Rey
c/o Random House Trade Group Publicity
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
0345497597, $14.00, 1-800-726-0600

Renowned puppeteer Leodora knows women regardless of talent are shunned for performing so she masquerades as a male using the name Jax. However, the adept performer is taken by the gods from Colemaigne to an afterlife realm Edgeworld though she is not sure why. By the time they take her back, the soul eater Lord Tophet has caused havoc on her town. Her return causes a renaissance as Colemaigne returns to its pre-Tophet cursed enlightenment. Outraged that the affliction he caused was superseded by a puppeteer of all things, Tophet vows to destroy Leodora and then bring back his brand of Chaos. He sends his killers to destroy the legendary puppeteer Jax who brought joy back to the city when "he" returned. The sequel to SHADOWBRIDGE is a strong tale due to the solid cast whether they are mortal or immortal. Leodora as herself and as Jax is a terrific lead character while the title antagonist is as wicked as they come. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and never slows down as LORD TOPHET sends his minion after Jax unaware the city savior is a girl. Fantasy readers will appreciate this strong character driven entry as evil comes after innocence.

City at the End of Time
Greg Bear
Del Rey
9780345448392, $27

In Seattle, three people (Ginny, Jack, and Max) separately and with no seeming connection see a newspaper ad that stuns them. The advertisement states: "Do you dream of a city at the end of time?" Each can answer in the affirmative as they have had visions of a dark desolate landscape of a devastated wasteland; they also share in common a form of amnesia in which none of them know anything important from their respective pasts. They only have just flashes of urban desolation. They respond and soon learn they are the Protectors of time. An enigmatic, at one time seemingly omnipotent race has created a million-year sentient species experiment. Now after a hundred trillion years the ancient Kalpa is the last vestige of true knowledge and is rapidly deteriorating as the universe dies. The insanity of chaos fills the vacuum. The trio understands their mission is to save any form of awareness of being to pass on to the rebirth and know the danger they face in attempting this, but consider the alternative nothingness. THE CITY AT THE END OF TIME is not an easy or fast-paced read but worth the time for those science fiction fans who appreciate a very complex story line that increasingly turns even more complicated as Greg Bear explores an ontological theme. The key characters especially the threesome, the ad taker, and those at the Kalpa discussing the end of times seem real enough to have the audience feel the countdown to the big crunch has begun. The hope is that the trio will save a flicker of light that survives into the universe reincarnation that the Kalpa inhabitants believe will occur. Mr. Bear provides a well written cerebral sci fi tale.

The Last Theorem
Arthur C. Clarke and Frederik Pohl
Del Rey
9780345470218, $27.00

In the middle of the twentieth century, atomic bomb testing was conducted on the land, at sea and in the air; eventually the radiation traveled into outer space, which brought the planet to the attention of the Grand Galactics who ordered the destruction of Earth before the barbarians devastated the universe. They sent their client races, the Machine Stored, a sentient species who left their bodies behind and become inhabitants of cyber pace. Also on assignment to destroy Earth is The Nine Limbed, the civilized race that speaks on behalf of the Grand Galactics and the one point five, the race that destroyed their world and needs prosthetics to survive. Brilliant Sri Lankan mathematician Ranjit Subramanian is obsessed with Fermat's Last Theorem. While he is in a prison, he works out the proof in his head and soon becomes an international sensation. He is privy to the non lethal weapon mankind has developed to bring peace to the world, but when the Grand Galactics learn there is no more need to destroy this orb, will they cease the eradication order or bureaucratically wipe out the planet. THE LAST THEOREM is an interesting work that occurs on two levels. One plot focuses on Ranjit's life from the time he is sixteen; while the other centers on alien invaders sent by their overlords to destroy the warmongering earthlings. Both subplots are fascinating as readers follow the progress made by earthlings to attain Pax through a special non-killing weapon. As fans wait for the macro and micro plots to merge, first contact could prove lethal.

The Man with the Iron Heart
Harry Turtledove
Del Rey
9780345504340, $27.00

In 1942 Reinhard Heydrich, the evil designer of the Holocaust, was assassinated in Czechoslovakia by a partisan who hated the Nazis. However, on an alternate earth, Heydrich survived the attempt on his life and received permission from Himmler to create a guerilla army to harass the allies into leaving Germany so the Reich can rebuild. During the next three years, he dropped out of sight and ammo vanished as Heydrich formed the German Freedom Front secretly. On VE Day, just like Heydrich predicted, the government signed the declaration ending the war in defeat. However, hostilities were not over as Heydrich and his Freedom Front force began their campaign; their efforts killed thousands of occupying allied soldiers. When Mrs. Diana McGuire receives a call that her son died after VE Day, she started a movement that grew rapidly to bring the men home. Meanwhile German POWs are going to go on trial in a courthouse in Nuremburg charged with war crimes, but the facility is destroyed. The trials move to Frankfort, but a suicide bomber blows himself up with a radium bomb that makes the city uninhabitable. They turn to the Russian occupation next, but the guerillas again succeed in disrupting the trials. Germans do not consider the war lost and the allies fear the Nazis like a Phoenix will return to power to continue th e fight. What is happening in Iraq and occurred in Viet names transposed to late 1940s Germany in THE MAN WITH THE IRON HAND. The German people help the Freedom Front because they seek the removal of foreign occupiers from their soil. The treaty is a piece of paper that some ignore as being worthless (President Bush did so with the Nonproliferation treaty so is plausible); the tactics obvious while the allies ponder a surge of more troops and for how long or withdrawal. Heydrich is sinister and brilliant as he will do anything to force the occupation army to leave and return the Reich to power. This alternative historicals showcases Harry Turtledove at his thought provoking best as the question is how long does a surge (by definition temporary) remain in place and what happens afterward if conditions fall back?

The Last Vampire
Patricia Rosemoor & Marc Paoletti
Del Rey
9780345501042, $7.99

They found the five century old mummy buried deep in a Texas cave and they learned that the mummy's ancient flesh somehow bestowed super powers on humans. When the former was discovered, the Feds did not care; when the latter occurred the military took over and turned the mummy into a top secret weapon. However the egotistical generals and their even more pompous know it all civilian leaders ignore the science as the facts get in the way. They do not comprehend that the mummy is dormant, but alive; held in stasis by an insane priest's incantations. They soon learn it's alive when a voodoo priestess purposely and Leah Maguire accidentally awakened it. In New Mexico Special Ops Captain super soldier (from the mummy's touch) Scott Boulder and Team Ultra are assigned to stop the amoral last vampire; as now everyone knows the mummy is a blood sucking shark. Leah joins his team. THE LAST VAMPIRE is a dark somewhat gory supernatural thriller. The vampire is humanized by his life over five hundred years ago although in the present he is an amoral feeding machine who hungers for blood and is not per say an evil creature; thus he is even more dangerous to humanity. The key to the tale is the romantic subplot between Scott and Leah provides a flicker of hope in a gloomy situation, but the authors cleverly keep that low keyed and muted as the war against THE LAST VAMPIRE takes precedence.

Shoots to Kill
Kate Collins
Obsidian Mystery
c/o The Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451224743, $6.99, 1-800-847-5515

Very few people are as happy as Abby Knight is. She gets on great with her family; her developing relationship with private investigator Marco Salvatore is strong and intense; and she loves working in her florist shop Bloomers. Elizabeth "Libby" Blume returns to town to Abby's horror as she knows how treacherous the woman is since she babysat her as a child and tried to steal her identity. Libby asks for a job at Abby's store, but Abby says no. Instead Libby opens up an art store up the block from Bloomers that is almost identical in looks; she also manages to make herself look like Abby's twin. She interferes with Abby's relationship with Marco; causing a breakup. When Libby's mom turns up dead, everyone assumes the daughter killed her mostly due to Abby's behavior towards Libby, but evidence is lacking. Abby investigates seeking the proof although two other suspects with strong motives surface including the victim's mentally disturbed son meds he does not always take. Kate Collins keeps getting better with each new book she writes, which is saying a lot as her backlist is top rate (see A ROSE FROM THE DEAD). The amateur sleuth investigation is fun to follow as the key characters are fully developed especially the "twins" and Marco; yet there is plenty of action filled with plausible twists. Often amusing, the fun in the tale is Abby's deep desire to prove Libby committed the homicide, but every clue leads away from the manipulative minx to other people. The Abby-Marco romantic subplot with its Libby-induced troubles adds to the heroine's need to find the proof as SHOOTS TO KILL is an entreating whodunit.

Gabriella Herkert
9780451224736, $6.99

Legal investigator Sara Townley is sent to San Diego to investigate fraud, involving identity theft; Sara is very happy to go there because she has a chance to see her husband Connor McNamara, a Navy SEAL stationed there. A rich recluse Mr. Charles Smiths had, $2,000,000 taken from his accounts. Her client, the bank, wants their money back and needs to know how the perpetrator stole it. This happened about the time a persosn claiming to be Charles went on the radio insisting he had amnesia for years. Sara calls this man John Doe. The client whose money was stolen has lived an unhappy life starting from the moment he saw his parents murdered. To do her job properly, Sara has to speak with the talk show host, the maid who was there when the police was called about the deaths of Charles' parents and the retired cop who will get the case notes from his partner's widow. Too bad that two of these people she must see have been murdered recently and a third injured since Sara arrived in Southern California. The title character is about a dog who seems to show up at critical moments who is owned by John Doe. Unlike her husband Sara feels sorry for John as she does not believe he is a killer let alone dangerous; in fact she partially believes he is the real Charles. Fans will feel CATNAPPED by Gabriella Herkert as DOGGONE it has an eccentric cast including plenty of suspects that make for a five bark mystery; as readers ponder will the real Charles Smith please stand up (alive)?

Armed and Glamorous
Ellen Byerrum
9780451224569, $6.99

The DC Eye Street Observer fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian would prefer to work the crime beat, but her editor refuses to okay the transfer because he considers her a great journalist whose column often turns into murder investigations. She enrolls in Bud Hunt's private investigation class that will enable her to become state certified as a private detective. During a class break, another student Willow goes out to the parking lot only to find the corpse of Cecily Ashton inside her car; a bullet shot through the righte side of her face. They know it is homicide not suicide as no gun was found in the vehicle or nearby. Lacey interviewed the victim just last week re her clothing collection stored in a series of interconnecting closets in her home. There are plenty of suspects, but no solid evidence to make a case against anyone. Lacy investigates the murder that soon turns into a kidnapping and potentially a deadly experience for the heroine. Readers will enjoy the latest Crime of Fashion investigative tale (see GRAVE APPAREL and RAIDERS OF THE LOST CORSET) as the heroine once again uses her journalistic skills to try to identify the killer (and stay alive too). Ellen Byerrum is especially skilled at creating fascinating eccentric characters starting with Lacey who thinks outside the designer box her editor prefers to keep her locked inside of; and the strong support cast who move the story line forward. Fans will relish ARMED AND GLAMOROUS, a cozy starring a fashionable trench coat, essential killer heels and designer whipping pearls.

Death by Cashmere
Sally Goldenbaum
9780451224712, $21.95

Realizing she was not cut out to be a lawyer, Izzy Chambers quits her job to open up a knitting shop in Sea Harbor, Massachusetts where she spent summers as a child. Her Aunt Nell lives there and is one of her biggest supporters while some other ladies like retiree Birdie and lobster fisherwoman Cass are her best customers. They all bond and meet once a week as the Seaside Knitters. Angelina Archer lives in an apartment above Izzy's store. She is working on a project for the local museum on quarries and land deeds. One night she goes on a date with Cass's brother and ditches him; a public argument ensues with Tony Framingham, son of the town's matriarch. The next day Angelina is found dead in the nearby breakwater. Most people prefer to assume a tragic accident occurred, but an autopsy revealed her blood contained a drug that paralyzed her; making it impossible for Angelina to swim to safety. The Seaside Knitters sisterhood investigates finding dirty dark secrets long buried by the paragons of a Cape Cod town. This is a character driven amateur sleuth starring four likable female friends who work the homicide one stitch at a time. The quartet each deals separately with a segment of the murder pattern until they seamlessly sew their respective puzzle pieces together. However though this is a refreshing outlook it also takes away from the intensity of solving the case as more than half the book is done before the knitters merge their clues. Mindful of Monica Ferris' Minnesota Crewel World and Maggie Sefton's Colorado House of Lambspun; fans will enjoy DEATH BY CASHMERE.

Good People
Marcus Sakey
c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10014-3657
9780525950844, $24.95, 1-800-847-5515

Struggling middle class Tom and Anna Reed are good solid citizens who love one another. Their dream is to have a child, but infertility makes it impossible without expensive help. They do not have the money for some of the alternatives and those they have tried like in-vitro have proven futile. Helping them survive financially as they pinch pennies for their next fertility try is a reclusive tenant who pays monthly rent to them. When their hermit dies, the Reeds worry about how they will survive without his income coming in monthly. They enter their late lodger's room to clean it out only to find four-hundred thousand dollars. Unable to resist what both feel is an easy windfall that no one will know about except themselves, this will allow them to attempt again to fulfill their dream of a child. However, neither understands that their deceased boarder left behind some irate Windy City associates who believe the ill-gotten loot belongs to them; these dangerous thugs do not mind the use of force including breaking limbs or even murder and their sights are set on the Reeds. This exciting thriller uses a typical American suburban family trying to fulfill their dream that places them in extreme danger from deadly mobsters who believe their ill-gotten loot belongs to them as the late tenant double-crossed them. Where else would a mobster hide than in the burbs; making for quite a contrast between middle class American and the mob will sort of remind readers of the haunting contrasting final scene of the Cagney film Public Enemy. Readers will appreciate this strong thriller as the American dream turns nightmarish when the Reeds become avaricious in achieving their personal quest as Marcus Sakey asks his audience would you ethically turn in, $400,000 that you believe no one knows you found.

As Good As It Got
Isabel Sharpe
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061140563, $13.95,

After two decades of marriage, Cindy loves being in love with her philandering husband, Kevin; thus when he informs her he is leaving her for Patty, she is devastated. Ann thought her life with Paul was perfect, but his death and losing her job awakens to near bankruptcy. Martha has loved Eldon for two decades, but when he suffers a paralyzing stroke, she can no longer see her beloved as the mistress has no rights. These three single women meet at Camp Kinsonu in Maine, a place designed around the lyrics of I am Woman and I Will Survive. As the counselors try to help the trio, Cindy, Ann and Martha needs to move on, but none seem capable of doing so. AS GOOD AS IT GOT is an interesting character study that digs deep inside the souls of three women whose reasons for living had been totally based on the respective man in their lives. Fascinatingly, each has come to the camp to rediscover who they are having lost their identity to their supportive role. Although the men come across as rats, this is a strong sharp tale that focuses on females recovering from dead relationships in which they were the losing party.

A Match Made in Hell
Terri Garey
9780061136160, $6.99

In Atlanta, Nicki Styx is grateful to her new boyfriend, ER Dr. Joe Bascombe whom she met when he saved her life though lacking exact change for ferryman to escort her across her surname river also proved a factor (see DEAD GIRLS ARE EASY). Returning to the living she dedicates her life to helping the dearly departed cross over to the other side. However, life takes a wacky spin for Nicki when Joe's soon to be former wife Kelly suddenly reappears in his life and hers as a car accident victim rushed to the hospital. She is Nikki's identical twin. Helping them with the awkward reunion is their biological mother who happens to a ghost. Finally a devil of a hunk wants Nikki as his girlfriend. The second Nikki Styx romantic fantasy is a lighthearted romp as the heroine's family adds to the fun. Readers who appreciate the adventures of the "Ghoulfriend" working Little Five Points in downtown Atlanta as Nicki adapts from shoes in the closet to literally skeletons in the closet. Although the story line is a bit fluffy, the amusing A MATCH MADE IN HELL is an entertaining frolic.

Selena Montgomery
9780061376030, $6.99

Atlanta attorney Kell Jameson left her hometown Hallden and the orphanage she grew up in behind; vowing never to return. However, the only person she would go back to help needs her and she is summoned back to her hometown after years of running away since the fiery incident back in 1991 broke up the Three Musketeers (Kell, Fin and Julia). Mrs. Faraday, the kind head of the orphanage where she lived, is accused of murder. Sheriff Luke Calder investigates the homicide of a local drug dealer. He stops Kell for a traffic violation, but she flees the scene. Luke follows Kell to the diner where he hands her the tickets and asks her out. As they work the case and related matters, they fall in love. However besides the commute, Kell fears telling him the truth because she needs to protect Fin Borders and Julia Warner and believes he will not just reject her when he learns her darkest secrets from 1991 he will expose them. RECKLESS is an action-packed romantic suspense thriller that sets the tone of the story line with its 1991 prologue and never slows down afterward. The cast is strong as it brings to life small town Georgia even some players from the past and from beyond. However, the tale is owned by the feisty courageous yet vulnerable heroine who finds love with the one person who can destroy her. Selena Montgomery allows her recovery specialists to rest (see SECRETS AND LIES, and HIDDEN SINS) with an entertaining regional thriller.

Lessons from a Courtesan
Jenna Peterson
9780061138140, $5.99

In 1812 Justin Talbot and Victoria Reed marry although they do not know one another. The Earl and his new bride share a passionate night together as he explores every inch of her delightful body. The next morning she wakes up to learn her husband left without a word. For the next three years, she runs his estate, but he never returns from London and she never goes there. In 1815 Victoria learns of the disappearance of a close friend widow Chloe Hillsborough in London. Thus she decides to go to the big city to see if she can find Chloe. She masquerades as Ria, the sexy courtesan, who has the Ton in a titter; the men want her while the women want her to leave. Justin knows who she is, but is outraged when he hears men claim they took her. As he makes his bid to regain the trust of his wife, they fall in love, but he knows finding her friend is the only way she will believe he is sincere this time. LESSONS FROM A COURTESAN is an exciting Regency romance starring two stubborn lead characters who refuse to admit their love for one another. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Justin realizes the talk of the Ton is his wife and Ria realizes the only touch she desires is that of her husband. Jenna Peterson provides an enjoyable early nineteenth century romp starring the battling Talbots.

The Flirt
Kathleen Tessaro
9780061125768, $13.95

Unemployed wannabe actor Hughie Armstrong Venables-Smythe needs to make some quick money so he can continue to seek his big break. He responds to an odd ad and is hired as a flirt; he assumes his acting skills will make hum successful at his new hopefully temporary vocation though he plans to give Oscar winning performances when on the job. However, Hughie is attracted lingerie boutique owner Leticia Vane, who is much older than him. She shocks him with her belief that trysts should be short, quick and especially with no attachment strings. When the notes and cards containing clues begin to arrive, she is fascinated by her secret admirer. As Hughie continues his campaign, he and Leticia begin to fall in love, but her interest remains with an unknown paramour. This terrific most likely implausible contemporary tale reminds this reader of Deuce Bigelow with its combining humor and the serious issues especially loneliness confronting the female clients. Already confused about his life, Hughie takes the role seriously and gives his best performance, which enables readers to better understand what disturbs the women he flirts with. Readers will appreciate Kathleen Tessaro's fine London Swings but underneath the swingers face difficult decisions re what they want out of their respective lives.

In Bed with the Devil
Lorraine Heath
9780061355578, $6.99

In 1851 when Lucian "the Devil Earl" Langdon enters a ballroom, everyone especially the females turn their eyes away from him; society shuns him for allegedly murdering his uncle. However this time when the Earl of Claybourne enters a ballroom uninvited as always, one woman stares right back at him. Lady Catherine Mabry refuses to blink or look away. Raised on London's mean streets as one of Feagan's den of child thieves and urchin con artists, Lucian and his friends Jack and Frannie were rescued by his grandfather. To Catherine, he is the one man strong enough to save her from her ruthless guardian. But she's playing with fire when she propositions the devil. Others may fear him, but she sees his innate goodness. Catherine will do whatever she must to save him from himself and force him to believe in his right to hold the title and her heart. This is reminiscent of Oliver Twist as an adult treated by the Ton as a murdering scoundrel except for one courageous woman who sees him as her heroic savior, who she hopes lives up to his reputation and proves deadlier than her cruel guardian; yet she also discovers the caring nature underneath that begs to belong. Lorraine Heath writes an excellent Victorian romantic suspense that hooks audience from the opening journal entry of Lucien to the closing entry.

After the Kiss
Suzanne Enoch
9780060843090, $6.99

A year after being shot as an officer serving in the Peninsular War; highly regarded horse breeder Sullivan Waring lives a secret life. During the day the Ton admires his work with horses; at night they treat him with contempt. He does not care how they feel; instead he wants what was stolen from him; so in the evening he sneaks into the homes of the affluent to take back his late mother's paintings. However Lady Isabel Chalsey catches the notorious Mayfair Marauder in the act of thieving. He is stunned by her beauty and cannot stop himself from taking a kiss; he is further shocked when she demands he train a horse for her use or she will expose him. As he falls in love, he prepares a mare for Isabel while helping her overcome her fear of horses; but may not be able to overcome his own dark secrets that eat at his soul. The first Notorious Gentlemen tale (Sully's Peninsular War buddies to follow) is a terrific Regency romantic mystery that hooks readers when the heroine going for a late snack catches the notorious gentleman removing a portrait from the wall. The story line never slows down as Lady Isabel "blackmails" the thief after a witty exchange. Readers will enjoy their antics AFTER THE KISS as Suzanne Enoch provides a superb opening act.

Let the Night Begin
Kathryn Smith
9780061245039, $5.99

In 1899 in Clovelly, England Olivia Gavin is looked upon as an eccentric who sleeps during the day and works at night. Nobody connects her to the men who disappear and end up in a place where they have no idea how they got there. She is a vampire who never wanted to be one; her husband Reign turned her against her will on their wedding night. Irate she walked out on him cutting off all ties and has not communicated with him since. A messenger gives her a letter stating her nephew James who she raised has been abducted; if she wants him back alive she is to hand over Reign to them. She goes to Reign to ask for his help in finding and rescuing James, but conceals the demand she hand him over to his enemies. Reign unexpectedly agrees although he doesn't trust her and knows she is not telling him the entire truth. He demands they behave like husband and wife while on the quest. They learn James went to Scotland with friends who know his aunt is a vampire; their fathers belong to belong to the Order of the Silver Palm who will use Olivia and James as expendable pawns to get the Blood Grail they think Reign has. This is a stand alone book so the audience will not have to read the previous related tales (see NIGHT OF THE HUNTRESS and TAKEN BY THE NIGHT) although that enhances this Victorian paranormal suspense thriller. The vampires seem real making the hunt for them feel genuine; while the romantic second chance at love subplot is cleverly developed as both have a lot of trust issues to overcome although Reign seems indifferent to his knowing that his wife was going to betray him feels off base. Still LET THE NIGHT BEGIN is an enjoyable vampire historical romantic suspense in which the sleuthing and confrontation is supported by the romance.

Dangerous Secrets
Lisa Marie Rice
9780061208607, $13.95

From the Krasnoyarik Power Plant in Russia, an undeclared flight containing a nuclear engineer Arkady Andreyev of the Bratva Brotherhood carrying enough Cesium 137 to blow up Wall St takes off. Arkady calls the Vor, renowned writer Vassily Worontzoff informing him the weather is fine as he begins his trip. Vas feels good as his plot has begun successfully. He and Arkady are survivors of Kolyma Prison Camp, the cruelest the Soviets had; but Vas' beloved wife Katya was raped and murdered at the prison. Vas now lives in Parker's Ridge, Vermont because the local librarian Charity Prewitt looks like Katya's twin. Soon she will be his Katya. Former Delta officer Nick" Iceman" Ireland is working undercover for the Homeland Security counterterrorism cell the Unit. He and two cohorts John Di Stefano and Alexei Nestrenko are conducting surveillance of The Russian in Vermont, as they know something big is coming. Whereas his partners are in a van, Nick poses as retired Wall St broker Nicholas Ames in town considering a business investment. His assignment is to seduce the librarian so that he can get access to Vas. Soon this trio will forge a triangle that changes each of them forever. The romantic subplot between the Iceman and the librarian is well written, feels plausible and dominates the tale; whereas the villain though his appearances are limited comes across as brilliantly insane with his motive obvious. Although a minor quibble, a gizmo error by the Feds that goes astray seems wrong especially with fanatical Nick involved; still fans will appreciate this strong thriller in which the triangular relationships propel the tale to a terrific climax.

Twilight Falls
Lynn Viehl
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451412591, $7.99, 1-800-847-5515

In Chicago at the Lighthouse Rehabilitation Center, local Darkyn chieftain Valentine Jaus comes to see patient Luisa Lopez, but sees staff gardener Liling Harper visiting the woman. Liling fantasizes that Val makes love to her with he being her Master. Val is attracted to the Chinese-American, but she makes him think about the woman he loved Jema Shaw who is now the lifemate of Thierry Durand. The Chicago City News photographer gets a great shot of the beautiful gardens and the back of the gardener showing a red swan tattoo. The picture is placed in the Lifestyle Section and soon goes national. Chicago Archbishop August Hightower recognizes the tattoo though he had thought the Red Swan was dead. He wants her dead before she reveals what she knows about his operations. Meanwhile he also learns that Kyan has left China to kill the Red Swan. Liling learns of her fame; she plans to change identities, fly to Atlanta and drive to Texas. However, she cannot get a flight anywhere out of the city until morning. Val offers to fly her on his private jet as he is going to Atlanta anyway. She accepts. As they fly on his plane and join the Mile High Club, Kyan follows her via his watery skills. When they crash in the Everglades, Kyan hires Chinese-American Melanie Wallace as his interpreter while he rents a boat in the Everglades to get to Liling. The concept of a "war" between the Darkyn and the Brethen comes across very strongly in this powerful romantic fantasy suspense thriller. The lead pair is an interesting coupling as she has special healing skills that enhance his Darkyn abilities, which they will need as Kyan is a powerful individual with a deep personal grudge against Liling. Although TWILIGHT FALLS is a stand alone, subplots from previous tales continue (see NIGHT LOST and IF ANGELS BURN) the saga; it behooves newcomers to get the backlist. Lynn Viehl provides a character driven entry in her latest Darkyn tale.

Dead Over Heels
Charlaine Harris
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425223031, $7.99, 1-800-847-5515

In Lawrenceton, Georgia strange, sometimes dangerous things occur around Aurora "Roe" Teagarden, but nothing seems to directly happen to her. As Roe and her bodyguard Angel are in her garden, suddenly a body falls from the sky leaving a deep imprint on her lawn. The police arrive at the landing site and turn the body over only to find it is one of them, Detective Sergeant Jack Burns. Luckily for the librarian not the victim, Roe has witnesses who saw her in plain sight when the corpse landed near her. Jack had disliked and distrusted Roe although she never knew why. She soon gets calls with the other person hanging up on her without a word and someone places a pink ribbon around the neck of her cat. Angel and Roe get into a fight with a librarian aide; soon after that woman is assaulted by a pipe and hospitalized. Another cop is in danger; her former lover Arthur Smith with both attending a dinner accompanied by their current significant others. Roe tries to put together the puzzle pieces based on the assumption that Angel is the object of an obsessed person, but feels she must determine the coherent picture before someone else is hurt or dead. Charlaine Harris, renowned for her Stackhouse urban fantasies and her Harper Connelly mysteries, provides an engaging regional amateur sleuth cozy that is actually a reprint of a mid 1990s tale. The Teagarden mysteries are fun to read as they showcase the talented author's earlier works. DEAD OVER HEELS is a fine entry as there seems to be no rationale reason from the incidents. Though not the best Teagarden whodunit, as the suspense never fully leaves the ground (pun intended), fans of the series will appreciate the heroine's efforts to uncover the truth and her inner thoughts re her spouse and her bodyguard.

First Blood
Susan Sizemore, Erin McCarthy, Chris Marie Green, and Meljean Brook
9780425224007, $7.99

"Cave Cane" by Susan Sizemore. In the Laws of the Blood universe, vampire law enforcer Dan Conover and werewolf Tess Sirella form a reluctant team seeking to rescue kidnapped pups. "Russian Roulette" by Erin McCarthy. After losing her "day" job, former vampire slayer born again vampire Sasha Checkikov flees Vegas for New Orleans in order to jump start her undead life, but needs rescuing by vampire Alistair Kirk. "Double the Bite," by Chris Marie Green. In the Vampire Babylon world, twin vampires stalk mortal Ben Tyree until one of the siblings Ginny falls in love while her sister claims ownership of the human. "Thicker Than Blood" by Meljean Brook. When Annie Gallagher was human she loved FBI Agent Jack Harrington; but when she became a vampire she gave him up though she still loves him. Now they team up to rescue an abducted young girl. Vampire romantic suspense fans will enjoy biting into these four well written novellas; with the added treat of the return visits by fans of Ms. Sizemore and Ms. Green to their renowned realms.

Double Dog Dare
Linda O. Johnston
9780425222324, $6.99

Kendra Ballantyne is a person with many talents as she holds down two jobs and enjoys both of them. First she is a pet sitter and second she is an attorney. She also has time to forge a relationship with private detective Jeff Hubbard, who she met when she pet sat his Aikida. Jeff recently asked Kendra to move in with him; after much soul searching and doubting, she agrees only to have Jeff go MIA while working a case. Already fearing something bad has happened to him, she panics when the police inform her they found his car in the water with blood inside the vehicle. Kendra soon learns that Lois Terrone, who is a surrogate mom to Jeff, had asked him to look into the practices of the Clone Arranger, a firm that clones cats and dogs because her died shortly after she brought it in to be cloned. She wonders if perhaps Jeff learned something that made it imperative for someone to insure he died. Unable to not know the truth, Kendra snoops until she learns what is going on at the Clone Arranger only now she is caught in the crosshairs. This fabulous series stars a kind hearted animal lover who though an amateur sleuth is strong willed; Kendra is opinionated and unforgiving especially at those who harm animals as she is an animal rights advocate. Thus two passions merge as she goes from one clue to another to learn what someone will kill to conceal at the Clone Arranger. Linda O. Johnston writes a strong tale that fans will enjoy as the mystery is difficult to solve though the clues are there.

Murder on Bank Street
Sarah Brandt
9780425221518, $23.95

In 1893 New York City, widow Sarah Brandt still hopes to learn who murdered her husband Dr. Tom Brandt four years ago although she knows the case is cold as so much time has elapsed. Back when Tom was killed, the police refused to investigate because they only handled cases when they were paid to do so. However, with Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt's approval, Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy has conducted some inquiries mostly because he is attracted to Sarah and admires her courage and intelligence; she has worked with him on his investigations. Frank visits Sarah to allegedly update her on his investigation, but he knows he just wants to see her even with her two "chaperones", her "adopted" daughter Catherine and teenage nanny Maeve Smith. He thinks the motive has to do with Dr. Brandt treating young women; but hides the fact that one of their fathers believes the saintly doctor seduced his offspring; he probably killed Tom in a rage. He fears his progress will emotionally hurt Sarah, who has the late Tom standing on a pedestal and devastate his hopes for a romantic relationship with her. However, he also knows if she learns the truth from another source, he will be kicked to the curb. Fans of the Gaslight Mystery series have waited a long time to learn who killed Dr. Tom and why; MURDER ON BANK STREET answers these questions and much more as readers will agree the wait was worth it. The story line is fast-paced especially the last quarter while also providing insight to 1890s New York. Fascinatingly Maeve plays a much greater role in this novel and brings youthful freshness to the mix. A terrific entry, fans will want to know if Frank solves the case as to who and why and if so will he tell Sarah.

The Power of Love
Edited by Lori Foster
9780425221488, $14.00

Twelve romance authors contributed to this superb anthology in which each donated their proceeds to the YWCA Battered Women's Shelter of Cincinnati. Besides the worthy cause, each entry is well written and inspiring; focusing on a second chance at love by females previously battered (mentally and or physically) in their relationships. Readers will root for the stars who hesitantly risk their souls for love. The tales run the gamut of the genre with my personal favorites being "Unpredictable" BY Erin McCarthy as no one can resist a French fry eating dog and LuAnn McLane's home remedy "Chicken Soup for Annie". Yet the other ten are entertaining as well as there are no let down clinkers as THE POWER OF LOVE is the essence of living. The authors are a who's who of the genre as every contributor is acclaimed for their works and more important to THE POWER OF LOVE didn't skimp in the short story format. Besides editor Foster, Toni Blake, Dianne Castell, Karen Kelley, Rosemary Laurey, Janice Maynard, LuAnn McLane, Lucy Monroe, Patricia Sargeant, Kay Stockholm and J.C. Wilder provide warm uplifting entries; this top grade authors list says it all for this charming compilation.

Show and Tell
Jasmine Haynes
9780425221587, $14.00

Trinity Green has always behaved prim and proper in public, but dreams of wild dirty passion. She never expects to find hot sex since Harper, her husband of six months, is a stick in the mud except on the golf course. At least that is what she thought until she finds him doing to another woman what she fantasized he do to her. Trinity decides it is time to stop pleasing everyone else, an impossible chore, and begin pleasing herself; starting with dumping her cheating spouse. When she meets business executive divorcee Scott Sinclair, Trinity decides he is the one to show her the carnal pleasures in life. They have a heated affair that he wants to continue, but Trinity has demands too. As they venture into dicey trysts, they endanger their respective jobs and lay bare their families to scandals, but neither can stop the obsession which increases the risks. This is an entertaining heated contemporary romance starring two victims of marriage; whereas her spouse cheated; his left. The promiscuous behavior between the lead couple, strangers in the night in which lovemaking started with a glance in a hotel, sends a bad message. Still fans will enjoy Scott and Trinity finding passion and love with each other in this erotic second chance at love.

Saskia Walker
9780425221389, $15.00

Sergio Teodoro pleads with seemingly prim and proper Katrina Hammond of Pocklington Auction House to come to Catalonia, Spain to evaluate his private collection and hands her his list of items he owns. Katrina explains that her auction house limits assessments to the greater London area, but Mr. sexy and suave makes her fantasize about day and night at his luxurious country home, Torre del Castagona. He hides from her that he sees a work of art underneath her buttoned to the top of the neck garb that he wants to own. Katrina goes to Spain somewhat fearful that her fantasies will be fulfilled, but hoping to be RECKLESS with her host. However, she finds herself also attracted to Sergio's younger brother Nicolas, an artist estranged from his family. Confused as she wants both siblings; each teach her their version of erotica. This hot erotic contemporary triangle works because Katrina seems real when the siblings DOUBLE DARE her to turn her fantasy desires into hot passionate KINK. Sub-genre fans and their significant other will enjoy Saskia Walker's hot days and nights in Spain while wondering who if either or both brothers will be with Katrina at the climax.

Deja Demon
Julie Kenner
9780425221907, $14.00

In suburban San Diablo Demon Hunter Kate Connor is mentally exhausted on all fronts. The demons keep on coming and now she is stuck with two "feuding" husbands since she resurrected the spirit of her dead first spouse Eric, who shares the body of teacher David Long. They are driving her crazier than her blithely ignorant second husband Stuart, the demon hordes, training her teenage daughter Allie to fight and her toddler to use the bathroom.

Realizing she cannot retire from demon hunting as she had done once before to become a soccer mom following Eric's death, Kate knows she must confess the full truth to Stuart; before he figures out that demons keep attacking her. She is not sure what these malevolent beings hen they mention the One and the Sword of Caelum, but they assume she does; on top of that an enemy from her first war has come to town with one hell of a horde. The latest demon fighting soccer mom tale retains the biting jocularity of the previous encounters, but the opponent turns the storyline much grittier and personal. Still Kate is as kick butt tough as ever; Allie is getting proficient at demon slaying; David-Eric is at her side; and Stuart proves to have greater depth and guts than readers and his wife realize. Fans of Julie Kenner's suburban fantasy will appreciate DEJA DEMON.

Warrior: The Time Hunters
Angela Knight
9780425220849, $7.99

Records show struggling artist Jessica Kelly disappeared on July 10, 2008; blood splattered all over her home implied she was dead. The Temporal Enforcement Agency (TEA) believes an illegal time Jumper killed her to drive the value of her paintings sky high; they think this time killer also took some of her work into the future. TEA sends genetically engineered Master Enforcer Warrior Galar Arvid from the twenty-third century to keep Jessica safe.

Jessica's roommate Charlotte knows a Xeran assassin is arriving soon. Before she jumps, she knocks out the TEA agents, cuts her finger, and drips blood on Jessica's forehead, which is absorbed into her body. When the killer arrives, he realizes that Jessica is tainted and needs to kill her. She fights back until the agents awaken; they injure the assassin, who jumps. They take Jessica to a temporal outpost in the fifteenth century Blue Ridge Mountains; there they place her in a regeneration chamber until she heals. They also upload into her brain information of the future where they will take her as history claims she vanished. The Xeran battle borg Colonel Mercian is assigned to kill Charlotte and Jessica; the latter because the former tainted her. In the outpost there is a Xer spy who is to assassinate Jessica while Mercian kills Charlotte. Charlotte knows the Xer will try to kill her and Jessica again and attempt to steal the valuable T'lin while her roommate will soon face adversaries with Galar at her side. Time traveling as an industry with tourists, cops, and criminals seems plausible in this engaging Time Hunter thriller mostly because the lead couple is a solid pairing; future and present. The story line abruptly switches from a murder mystery to a pure science fiction thriller leaving too many threads unanswered specifically insight into the various species and the enigmatic Charlotte. Still the prime tale of keeping Jess alive makes for a wonderful science fiction romantic suspense.

Dragon Wytch
Yasmine Galenorn
9780425222393, $7.99

In Seattle half-fae half human Camille D'Artigo smells the pixie dust that suddenly floods the air inside her Indigo Crescent bookstore when a unicorn says hello to her; followed by a hostile goblin, Sawberry fae and bugbear who demand that Feddrah Dahns turn over the pixie or else. Camille fires bolts at the goblin and bugbear while Feddrah knocks out the fae. A car runs over the bugbear while the fae escapes and the goblin is tied up. Camille calls the boyfriend of her were-cat sister Delilah police detective Chase to clean up the mess; the goblin escapes. When Camille's other sister Menolly the vampire joins them as well as Iris the priestess, Feddrah explains that his aide Mistletoe the pixie carried an item to deliver to her, but the three thugs interceded. Mistletoe regained the item, the powerful horn of the rare black unicorn. Meanwhile a Raksasas Persian Demon is apparently in town causing further havoc while Smoky the dragon arrives to remind Camille she owes him a week of sex, but has need for her to talk with Morgaine who has camped in his barrow before he makes the fae his lunch. Camille fears Morgaine might be trying to raise the former Seelie Queen Titania or the former Unseelie Queen Aeval for some purpose. Rounding out the visits is one of Camille's two lovers Trillian, but her other Morio remains missing. However, her ultimate fear is that the demon Shadow Wing will find the seals that keep the portals closed and be able to enter earthside and otherworld destroying both. The various types of paranormal species seem genuine in the Seattle setting. The action never slows down for a moment and although the story line builds on threads from the previous "sisters of the moon" books, DRAGON WYTCH can stand alone. The climax is quite a shocker making the fascinating tale even more spellbinding even if readers need a scorecard to keep track of the myriad of key players supporting the prime star.

Sea Witch
Virginia Kantra
9780425221990, $7.99

Widow Margred is a Selkie half-human half seal who can change shape as long as she wears her pelt. If a human takes her pelt she can never live in the water again. She wants sex so she takes human form and swims to World's End, an island off the coast of Maine. She meets chief of police Caleb Hunter who is instantly attracted to her. They make mad passionate love. Maggie returns to the sea without telling him and goes to Sanctuary where her friend Dylan advises her to stay in the sea and mate with a Selkie because their numbers are decreasing in exchange for immortality. As long as they die with their pelts on they are reborn. He also warns her there is a disturbance in the demon realm. She can't forget Caleb so she decides to see him again. She hides her pelt but a demon gets it; Caleb arrives as the demon jumps into a fire burning Maggie's pelt. She is depressed as she is doomed to stay on land. He takes her to the home of his sister Lucy to rest. Maggie thinks Lucy is part Mer. Caleb tells her that his mother took off with her other son Dylan; Maggie realizes her friend Dylan is Caleb's brother although he is pure human. They make love and even though she won't tell him about herself his feelings for Maggie deepen. Meanwhile the demon takes possession of a human host and kills Selkies in hopes of a Mer-human war. The romance between Caleb and Margred is enjoyable as she makes the ultimate sacrifice out of love for him and he has issues from his military stint in Iraq. The demon attack comes very late but adds suspense to a fine romantic fantasy. However Selkie society is never developed so that readers will have problems accepting the species as real especially a Selkie human half-breed. Still fans will relish the love between the lead pair.

Hard to Get
Alyssa Brooks
9780425221754, $14.00

In Aspen, Colorado at her successful club wealthy Lizzie hosts a bachelorette party for her stepsister Elisa engaged to Maxim. She detests Maxim, as she believes all men except for her adopted father are rats who leave. She prefers dildos. When the cowboy stripper she hired talks; she recognizes the voice as that of Ty Black, who broke her heart as a teen. Ty dances to pay for college, but still dreams of meeting his Elizabeth again. On stage he notices the pink haired Lizzie and realizes she is his Elizabeth. Lizzie leaves as Ty took her virginity before deserting her on the mean LA streets. Ty follows and kisses Elizabeth who tells him to go back to work and leave her alone. Ty refuses. She reminds him after rescuing her from a drunken stepfather in Tennessee he left her sick and hungry when he vanished. Ty swears he did not desert her; he was arrested for stealing an engagement ring. She says he was stupid; Ty agrees. Lizzie says it is too late as she prefers dildos to give her orgasms. He picks her up and dumps her in the same car he took her in a decade ago when they fled Tennessee. He vows to make her climax while Lizzie feels excited and humiliated. He pulls off the road and tells her he will screw her here or they talk; she fears his return will lead to heartbreak again. The lead couple is a likable pairing in this fun second chance at love romance. Elizabeth is the more fascinating character especially since her inability to orgasm adds interesting depth to her and the story line. Although sudden revelations seem unlikely and a minor quibble that Lizzie abruptly needs to rush home to confront her family so she drives from Colorado to Tennessee though she can afford to fly, this is an engaging contemporary romance in which the past haunts the present and future.

Accidentally Dead
Dakota Cassidy
9780425221594, $14.00

Following the recent conversion of her Buffalo friend Marty Andrews into THE ACCIDENTAL WEREWOLF, Hackensack dental assistant Nina Blackman knows there are some strange things out there. She just never expected someone's overbite to cause her a problem of sorts at the office. While prepping the patient Gregori "Greg" Statleon for dentist Dr. Berkenstein, under anesthesia he accidentally bit her and turned her into an undead. Marty and their third pal Wanda rush to Hackensack to help their friend fang face who thinks at least she does not have tail issues.
She is his first (and he prays Last) conversion. He is chagrined and unable to take back his bite, but irate Nina's acerbic diatribe accompanied by her two friends leaves him feel as if "Snaggletooth" took two pints of blood from him. Greg swears he will mentor her on all things vampiric while her pals offer support. However, the dentist with suddenly large canines wants to revert back to human although she would not mind snacking on Greg. The sequel to amusing THE ACCIDENTAL WEREWOLF is an enjoyable humorous satire that takes a bite out of the vampire romance sub-genre. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the woman from the Bronx calls her recently changed Lycan friend to shuffle from Buffalo to Jersey as she now has a biting problem. Fans will appreciate the non stop hilarity as Nina rips skin with her tongue from everyone even while she and Greg fall in undead love.

Undead and Unworthy
MaryJanice Davidson
9780425221624, $23.95

The vampire king and queen, newlyweds Eric Sinclair and Betsy Taylor look forward to a long serene honeymoon in which they take nips from one another in between shoe shopping. Alas that is not to be for the royal undead. Fiend Garrett healing from some recent assaults informs the majestic pair that his fiend friends have been dining on his blood. Thus the Twin Cities' fiends are recovering, but also hold culpable Betsy for their woes; they declared she must die. Meanwhile Nick asks Betsy for help on several murder investigations; she reluctantly agrees in order to make amends to him. Only she finds herself facing her worst nightmare of her existence, the ghost of her stepmother. Book seven of the Undead and Un… is an engaging entry as Betsy born the queen tries to act regal beyond her shoes, but needs to pay off a debt first. The story line is the usual humor expected from a MaryJanice Davidson tale as Betsy learns a lesson that vampirism is not the road to hell; good intentions are. Fans of the series will enjoy the antics of the newlyweds as her family drives her insane while she lands in one dangerous even to an undead predicament after another.

Viking Unchained
Sandra Hill
9780425222959, $7.99

Navy SEAL Dave Denton dies while on a mission. His pregnant widow Linda is devastated when the mortuary officers visit her with the bad news. Soon after Dave's combat related death, Linda gives birth to their son.

Thorfinn Haraldsson has been searching for his missing son for five years when he is attacked and knocked out. When he awakens he finds himself inside the belly of a flying bird with other people; some he knows. His twenty-first century kin cocoon him as they mentor him on how to fit in an alien technological world. When he ventures outside, a woman rushes up to him crying and hugging him. Confused he cannot stop kissing her until they go off to make love. He meets Linda's five years old son who has his eyes, leaving him further bewildered, but in love. Fast-paced and filled with humor, the latest eleventh century Viking- modern day American romance is a fun tale though in some ways it has a deja vu feel to it; having a military widow and her son brings a freshness to the plot. With glossaries for SEAL and Viking vernacular to enhance the time travel tale, series fans will enjoy the romance between the widow who sees a second chance with her husband's "doppelganger" and the clueless Viking, who seems like a fish out of water (no SEAL pun intended).

My Lord and Spymaster
Joanna Bourne
9780425222461, $6.99

When she became wealthy, she became respectable. So Jess Whitby wonders what happened that she has to use her pre-affluence skills of pick-pocketing. However, her objective is lofty as she needs to steal something from Captain Sebastian Kennett that will prove her dad innocent of the seditious crime of selling state secrets to Napoleon that he is being accused of doing. At the docks, Kennett rushes to the aid of a woman being assaulted. He takes Jess to his vessel, but wonders what depths of deception this feisty female hides as she smells of perfume and lies instead of the streets of Katherine Lane, where she used to work the trade of urchin pickpocket. As they are each attracted to one another, Jess wonders could her heart betray her and her dad by falling in love with a traitor. This is an engaging fresh Regency romance filled with plenty of action, a bit of a mystery, and two wonderful battling adversaries in love. The story line is fast-paced from the first encounter at the docks and never slows down as the spymaster lord and the former pickpocket tangle while trying to uncover the identity of who is the traitor in light of evidence that hangs her father.

The Red Scarf
Kate Furnivall
9780425221648, $15.00

In 1933 Sofia Morozova struggles to survive her ordeal in Siberia's Davinsky labor camp. She lives because she has a long term goal of freedom and a short term objective to keep the spirit of frail half-broken Anna Fedorina going; she knows Anna depends on her for her minuscule fading flicker of hope. When Anna becomes ill, Sofia desperately seeks help, which means leaving the camp. She escapes in hopes of finding Anna's childhood love Vasily a revolutionary allegedly living in Tivil. Sofia meets factory director Mikhail Pashin, whom she believes is Vasily in disguise. As she falls in love with Mikhail, she refuses to act on her feelings because if he is Vasily, as she believes, he belongs to Anna. This is a deep character driven tale starring two courageous women, a brave man, and the labor camp that is so vividly described it takes on a role of a horror figure. Sofia is wonderful as she survives the same way some people did the Nazi's concentration camps a decade later by making friends to care for, thinking of the happiness in her past in Petrograd and believing in a future life beyond the death prison. The romance takes a back seat though well written and enhancing the overall plot as Kate Furnivall concentrates on a powerful historical that focuses on the horrors of the Siberian death camps.

Scone Cold Dead
Kaitlyn Dunnett
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
9780758216458, $22.00, 1-800-345-2665

Liss MacCrimmon had to retire at the age of twenty-seven from Strathspey, a company of Scottish dancers that she was part of for years. She returned to her hometown of Moosetookalook, Maine where she co-owns with her aunt the Moosetookalook Scottish Emporium. She is very excited as her former Dance Company is coming to town to perform at the student center of the University of Maine at Fallstown. At a reception after a show, she is glad to see her old and trusted friends, but also sad as she misses performing especially on the road. Troupe manager Victor Owens is eating a special cocktail scone when he keels over and dies. Apparently the scone contained mushrooms, which he was allergic to. It seems obvious that someone murdered him. Liss questions each dancer individually and realizes that the victim was considered surly, sarcastic and abusive; those were his positive traits. He had plenty of people angry with his overall meanness and his ability to publicly humiliate his performers. When the lead detective realizes the troupe is hiding things, he asks Liss to assist him, but he only intended for her to help with the questioning not the dangerous sleuthing. Kaitlyn Dunnett has written a character driven regional cozy that provides the audience with an interesting look at a traveling dance troupe. Sub-genre fans will appreciate SCONE COLD DEAD as the story line contains enough suspense to keep the reader alert (and avoiding mushrooms) yet a strong local and visiting cast makes for a delightful read. Although why a professional would ask an amateur to help on a homicide investigation even if he does not understand the vernacular or the reticence of the dancers seems a stretch; this technique enables the audience to see behind the scenes of the troupe. Filled with plenty of local characters also, perhaps Ms. Dunnett might consider a side series starring the townsfolk in their own tales.

Sisters of Misery
Megan Kelley Hall
9780758226792, $9.95

Hawthorne is right next door to Salem; and at the times of the witch hunts three women were killed on Misery Island. Now Hawthorne is a conservative town that on the surface seems to belong on a postcard. Maddie Crane belongs to the Sisters of Misery, which is led by vicious Kate Endicott. Maddie knows she will never leave the club because she fears what the members will do to her. She is excited that her coaunt Rebecca, a free spirit and her daughter Cordelia have returned to live in Hawthorne. After a rough start, the Sisters of Misery and Cordelia go to Misery Island. Kate has plans for Cordelia and Maddie passes out when it is her turn to be part of Cordelia's initiation. When she wakes up the next morning at her home, she does not remember what happened including how she got home. When the Sisters return to Misery Island to free Cordelia, she cannot be found. Afraid of what she and the others might have done, Maddie searches for clues to learn what did occur; unaware that her inquiry will lead to more tragedy. This young adult fantasy will appeal to older readers as well. The character driven tale contains a gothic tone and atmosphere as the main characters are interesting people who have kept secrets for decades. Maddie is a follower; afraid to lead or leave a group she loathes until the Cordelia incident serves as a catalyst to challenge the power of the Sisters of Misery. There are a crop of new girls to replace their mothers as Sisters who control Hawthorne. Fans will find it difficult at first to accept a young girl like Kate is evil because of her age, but will accept the truth as Megan Kelley Halls makes her malevolence seem genuine. She and Maddie are fascinating antagonists who turn the SISTERS OF MISERY into an enjoyable read.

Amie Stuart
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758218933, $12.95

In Cielo, Texas, Bonnie James pays her bills by repairing the other apartments in the complex where she lives. She also relishes peeping at the other residents especially when they are into something erotic; she forges sexual fantasies about many of them from her erotic distance. On a late night, setting up surveillance at an apartment complex in Cielo where he seeks Julie Burt or her sister Karen Lyons at where he thinks is the end of the world, bounty hunter Wynn Collier notices the beautiful Peeping Thomasina. He knows to ignore her and stick with the stakeout, but she makes the torrid evening sweltering. He decides to pay the voyeur a visit to see if he can teach her a sexual encounter of the first kind is much more gratifying than that of the third kind. This is an exciting erotic romantic suspense that grips the audience the first time the bounty hunter sees the voyeur and never slows down even with a few obvious but delightful twists. Bonnie and Wynn are a delightful pair as he detours from the mission that his dad sent him on. Amie Stuart NAILED this fine tale due to the lead coupling.

The Queen's Lady
Barbara Kyle
9780758225443, $15.00

In 1527 London, women have few choices they can make. To Honor Larke she can select between a marriage that sounds like incarceration or serving Her Majesty, Queen Catherine of Aragon. She chooses the latter as the court will be exciting while marriage will be boring; in either case she knows she must obey. After informing her guardian, Sir Thomas More, Honor joins the court of Henry VIII. However, she quickly is appalled at how poorly the monarch and his supplicants scorn the queen while kissing the king's butt. Honor becomes outraged when the King humiliates his wife by demanding Rome grant him a divorce while he plays around with Anne Boleyn. Loyal to her Queen and her friend, Honor carries letters to her Majesty's Queen's allies that if caught will behead her for seditious acts. All is well until that foppish cavalier whom she desires, Richard Thornleigh, catches her. Intrigue, betrayal and avarice are the fuels of King Henry's court as THE QUEEN'S LADY quickly learns. Honor lives up to her name as she feels a strong loyalty to the tossed aside Queen and acts on her fidelity at the risk to her life. Thornleigh is actually a more interesting character than the title protagonist as the audience is not sure whether he is an early sixteenth century Pimpernel, a genuine fop, a traitor or a "secret agent". Fans of historical fiction with a romantic subplot enhancing the era will enjoy Barbara Kyle's deep look at King Henry's first marriage that had ramifications across Europe.

The Bad Boys Guide to the Galaxy
Karen Kelley
Kensington Brava
0758217692, $14.00

Texas police officer Sam Jones sort of knows what to expect from a Nerakian so he wants to say no, but he reluctantly agrees to escort Lara to his cabin. In spite of his expectations, Sam is stunned by his reaction to Lara and her nakedness. Lara has come to Earth on a mercy mission; she seeks the cure for a beloved sick elder; her planet is unused to illness having none. Before arriving on earth she was aware of the temptations, she vowed to ignore all especially chocolate. However, she is unprepared for spending a weekend with Sam especially since she believes Nerakians are superior beings. The latest Nerakian ET invasion is like its predecessors (see CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF A SEXY KIND) a humorous science fiction romance. The zany story line is fun to follow as the earth cop and the "medical" alien are unable to adhere to their personal pledges due to the magnetic attraction of opposites being stronger than the greatest force in the universe: chocolate. Fans of the series will especially enjoy this fine entry as Karen Kelley provides insider information re planet Nerak.

Hard as Nails
HelenKay Dimon
Kensington Brava
0758215835, $14.00

"This Old House". In affluent Dupont Circle DC his partners Adam and Whit Thomas ask Cole Carruthers to persuade the elderly woman who sold them the Victorian fixer upper house to please leave so they can get on with the reconstruction project. However, he is greeted by sexy Aubrey Matheson who rejects his efforts to remove her; insisting the house is hers. She does not reject his attempts to examine the bedroom first hand together. "All About Adam". When they kissed, a stunned Becky Carter fled from the arms of realty rehabber Adam Thomas. However she regrets her panic and he wants to raise the heat. "Man at the Door". After receiving unwanted notoriety artist Erin McHugh wants to be left alone except from renovating her home. However site foreman Ray Hammond persuades Erin to let him live in the house to reduce the calendar time it takes to finish the job; he has not told her this job includes a lifetime guarantee with her. The link between these three contemporary romances is the Dupont Circle project in which the lead couples (and readers) will discover every nook and cranny can be used for a tryst. HARD AS NAILS is a fun anthology although the hunks at times become wet noodles instead of nails. Fans will enjoy this fun fixer upper collection.

Just for Her
Katherine O'Neal
Kensington Brava
0758210620, $14.00

In 1926 everyone believes Jules Habsburg lives a perfect life of luxury with her fairy tale Prince Charming of a husband Dominic DeRohan. Everyone that is except Jules who knows her spouse is an abusive robber baron; she lives a nightmare. After Dominic shoots her lover, Jules runs away; taking refuge amidst artists, authors, and bohemians in the French Riviera's Cote d'Azur. The notorious cat burglar Panther enters her home through a window, but she catches him. She believes he is one man who can eliminate Dominic before he finds her. However, he demands remittance staring with her heart and ending with her soul. As she falls in love, Jules is unaware that the Panther is the one person who knows something about her that if revealed will destroy her. This engaging historical thriller grips readers from the onset as a desperate Jules wonders if she jumped from the frying pan into the fire when she chose the Panther to battle her husband. The story line is fast-paced and filled with a few nice twists especially an excellent plausible last one that will shock the audience. Fans will appreciate this character driven tale as readers will need to know who is left standing with whom.

Wolf Tales VI
Kate Douglas
Kensington Aphrodisia
0758218710, $12.95

In Tampa, Florida Eve Reynolds misses Adam Wolf whom she met in Montana at the werewolf pack led by Anton Cheval (see WOLF TALES V). However she needed to leave him to find herself though she cannot explain to him why. Adam and his friend Oliver leave Montana to bring Eve home. At a convenience store Eve notices Mei Chen who she knew from a foster home when they were children. Eve takes Mei to her motel room. Eve thinks Mei is Chanku like she is; they have sex. Adam and Oliver arrive in Tampa. Adam and Eve go into the room for sex while Oliver and Mei go out to eat. They are attracted to each other and stop at a motel to make love with each in the other's head. Mei thinks how she had no one for her entire life and now has made love with Eve and Oliver and looks forward to do so with Adam. Oliver telepathically tells Mei he loves her. She feels she has a family for the first time in her life. Eve knows the only way to tell if Mei is Chanku is an orgasm. Oliver tells Mei they will have four-way sex with each in each other's head if she is okay with that so they can tell for sure if she is one of them. They have the orgy and know she is a Chanku, but something was not quite right so they agree to go to Montana to learn the full truth. The lead couple is a fine pairing whose strong relationship will have the audience believe in soulmate bonding while the romance between the secondary couple adds additional sexual scenarios including a foursome and incredible angst re Mei. The return of stars from the previous Wolf Tales feels like a homecoming for series fans; however although we learn a lot about the Chanku werewolves, the plot ends abruptly with no closure to the prime tension.

Karin Slaughter
Delacorte Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0385341954, $25.00, 1-800-726-0600

Affluent attorney Abigail Campano returns to her mansion in Atlanta's upscale Ansley Park section only to see a dead girl lying on the upstairs hallway. Without getting a close look, a stunned Abigail assumes the victim is her teenage daughter Emma. The apparent killer had not yet left the premise and the outraged Abby kills him. Georgia Bureau of Investigation Agent Will Trent investigates along with Atlanta police Detective Faith Mitchell. The father Paul arrives filled with belligerence and bluster. Paul looks at the body and notices the lack of a birthmark; he insists the corpse of the teen is not his daughter; he and Abigail feel guilt and relief as Emma's friend Kayla Alexander lies dead on the floor. Will concludes that besides the obvious murder, someone kidnapped Emma. His fear is that they are too late to save the life of the seventeen year old girl but he and Faith remain determined to try; while the case is already confusing with the homicide and the death of the alleged killer by the lioness in her home, neither expected the twists that the investigation takes. Still both cops fear they are too late. Police procedural fans need to set aside time for this one sitting 400-page thriller as the audience will keep on adding one more exciting chapter after another to read. The two cops Will and Faith are a wonderful pairing as both are dedicated, but flawed; those personal defects augment a strong thriller. Filled with twists, FRACTURED will leave Karin Slaughter fans clamoring for the next GBI installment (see TRIPTYCH for the previous one).

Danielle Steel
0385340257, $27.00

Five yeas ago, then late thirties Dr. Maxine Williams was tired of raising four children; three were her preadolescent kids (the oldest was seven at the time) while one was her dot-com wealthy husband Blake. She divorced Blake though they remain friendly; and their three children live with her. Maxine's psychiatric practice specializes in childhood trauma and suicide while Blake is an international womanizer having young females on several continents.
Maxine becomes embroiled in a depressing teen suicide case in which she meets divorced Dr. Charles West. They are attracted to each other as she relishes his commitment and responsibility. Blake becomes embroiled in a tragedy that makes him aware of what he has lost. He suddenly rushes home to persuade Maxine that he has changed. Maxine is torn between two lovers. This is an entertaining romantic triangle with a terrific final twist. The story line is fast-paced and the lead trio seems genuine as does her three kids. Although the emotions of Maxine pulled by two opposites, the rogue and the responsible one, are never dug deep enough beyond a shallow level to satiate the audience, Danielle Steel's fans will appreciate this well written character driven tale.

The Garden of Evil
David Hewson
0385339577, $24.00

At a Roman art studio, Italian police detective Nic Costa and his unit are beginning to work the homicide crime scene; two dead people lie near a painting of a female nude. However, stunningly they find a live hooded gunman, who exchanges fire with the cops. The apparent killer escapes, but not before he adds a third homicide to the total of the dead; former FBI agent Emily Deacon, Costa's wife of three months, is shot dead. The obvious conflict of interest removes the grieving Costa officially from the case. However, Costa's boss assigns him to help art expert Sister Agata Graziano, who is authenticating the nude to see whether it is a priceless Caravaggio original or a fabulous fake. If genuine, the masterpiece may be a valuable clue to the killer's identity so Sister Agata must die. Filled with incredible but plausible twists, this is a strong Italian police procedural that will have the audience reading it in one suspense laden sitting. The story line is fast-paced as Costa works the streets of Rome seeking a killer who affirms death imitates art. David Hewson is at his best with this superb Roman thriller (see THE SEVENTH SACRAMENT).

The Academy
Bentley Little
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
0451224671, $7.99, 1-800-847-5515

The school district contains many conservative fundamentalists, who demand censoring books, limiting what is taught, and definitely outlawing evolution. Additionally they insist on not wasting money on poor students. When the principal of John Tyler High School applies to convert it to a charter school she sells it to the teachers and parents, promising higher wages and a better education. By a small margin, Tyler HS becomes a charter school.

Even before the charter was passed, there were some dark zones in the school in which supernatural phenomena seem to occur. The custodial staff bears witness to such events, but they suddenly disappear as do any teacher who opposed the charter concept and student considered "tainted". The personalities of those remaining at Tyler change dramatically and frighteningly. Punishment becomes norm, but these chastisements make the school seem like a rendition prison. Two teachers Linda and Diane, and students Ed, Brad, and Myla see ghosts and hear voices with no one around. They also notice an eerie fog that shows the past when the school had young children having fun in the playground. The quintet teams up to abort the spell the principal has cast but each of them knows that the faculty and student body will horrifically destroy them if they fail. Using headlines over what to teach in school, Bentley Little designs an intelligent well written entertaining horror tale that sprinkles the curriculum debate with a paranormal extremist position. The story line is fast-paced yet has multiple levels while throughout providing a cautionary undertone that extremism means exclusiveness by leaving people outside the tent. Besides the principal making the law inside the school; the ghosts remind people of the past, and the disappearances add suspense as readers wonder whether the vanishings are mundane or poltergeist in nature. Fans will relish Mr. Little's enjoyable dissertation on education.

By Appointment Only
Janice Maynard
9780451224071, $14.00

In downtown Orlando, Hannah Quarles races out of a church almost knocking over passerby Morgan Webber, who thinks she is a runaway bride as she apologizes and races across the street while car horns explode. However, he reappraises his first impression when no one races out of the church. She takes something from her car and runs back into the church. He follows only to see the elderly bride Miss Beverly needing her pills due to angina. Unable to resist, Morgan is in love although two minutes earlier he would have scorned the notion of at first sight. Morgan begins to court Hannah, but though she seems to like him too, she hides her feelings behind a veneer of cynical acerbic humor. Eventually he gets her to admit she loves him too. They become engaged, but she suffers from commitment phobia so they go for premarital counseling, but will that and his love be enough to persuade Hannah not to become a runaway bride. Tying heat with jocularity, Janice Maynard provides an engaging contemporary romance in which the hero knows what he wants from their first nudging encounter while the heroine fears what she wants. These two protagonists, supported by a strong secondary cast mostly the energetic geriatric generation, make for a fun time in Orlando.

Into the Shadow
Christina Dodd
9780451224514, $7.99

His family believes he died, but they are wrong. Shapeshifting panther Adrik Wilders has succumbed to the family Varinski Curse having turned to his demon side using the name Warlord as he and his mercenaries destroy anything in their path. Karen Sonnet creates themed adventure hotels. When the Warlord sees her he abducts her as he wants her; she reciprocates his passionate desire. However, when the demonic Varinski cousins attack Adrik and his men, he insures Karen is safe, but vows to find her once his current battle ends. For two years he obsessively hunted for Karen until he finally finds her. They still are attracted to one another, but two years is a long time for anyone to wait even for love though he becomes her secret nocturnal lover. Meanwhile his vicious evil Varinski kin will kill to take an icon they want that Karen possesses. The third Darkness Chosen romantic urban fantasy is an engaging entry that fans will enjoy in spite of INTO THE SHADOW failing to move forward the saga. The story line is action-packed with a dark fallen lead male protagonist who finds redemption with his love for Karen. Well written filled with passion and suspense, Christina Dodd's audience will relish Adrik's efforts to overcome the curse with Karen's tough love help, but newcomers should read SCENT OF DARKNESS and TOUCH OF DARKNESS first to obtain the full flavor of the series.

If Wishing Made It So
Lucy Finn
9780451224590, $6.99

A decade ago, Hildy Caldwell was voted the Girl Most Likely to Succeed at Lake Lehman High School by her class; now with the ten year reunion coming she feels like a failure as she never followed her dreams to paint in New York or Tahiti. Instead Hildy teaches English at her Alma Mata and has no man or children in her life; she lives with two cats. She never forgot her high school boyfriend, Big Mike Amante, who is attending the reunion accompanied by his fiancee, famous celebrity photographer Tiki, Kiki, Wiki whatever. Seeking a change, she rents a summer cottage on the Jersey shore; there she finds an antique bottle in which a genie calls home. He will grant her wish, but sometimes you get what you ask for. The Genie plays critical but small role in this whimsical lighthearted second chance at love tale. Hildy is wonderful with her reflections on her marmalade life, her unfulfilled teenage dreams, and her men; for instance the last hunk made her choose between her cats and him; no contest. Big Mike is a fine significant other though it takes a bit of magical glitter at times to enhance love.

Mystic Rider
Patricia Rice
9780451224583, $7.99

Due to his visions the Gods assign Sky Rider Ian Olympus to travel to the outer realm in order to find and return home with the sacred chalice of Aelynn. He also knows that French revolutionary musician Chantal Orateur Deveau, who possesses the chalice is his soulmate; having seen her in a vision and kept that lovely sight in his dreams. Ian arrives in dangerous Paris where the Revolution has taken hold. He finds his woman who quickly reciprocates his attraction. However, before he can return home with the chalice and his soulmate, someone steals the cup as the streets turn deadly and bloody. Afraid for Chantal's safety Ian must choose between the quest and the woman he plans to marry although he fears his people will reject her as his "amacara". The second Mystic Isles tales (see MYSTIC GUARDIAN) is an engaging romantic fantasy in which French Revolution plays a powerful perilous backdrop to the encounter between the lead couple. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Ian knows who Chantal is, but though she reciprocates struggles to persuade her they belong together. Readers will appreciate this entertaining quirky tale of love amidst the quest for the chalice while revolutionaries are shouting off with their heads.

A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action
LuAnn McLane
9780451224606, $6.99

Macy has been attracted to her friend "bodacious" Luke Carter for what seems like forever; however she knows he does not reciprocate her feelings as he never makes the slightest pass at her. Until now that is. Whatever reason it may be suddenly Luke finds he wants his buddy Macy in a way he has never felt before. Still both have decisions to make before testing the relationship waters outside of friendship. He has a terrific coaching offer in Florida; she has a fabulous opportunity as a hairdresser in Nashville to music superstars. Each must decide between what could be a lifetime of love or a vocational opportunity of a lifetime. Macy and Luke are fabulous lead protagonists who each must make critical choices at a time they discover one another; neither believes a long distance relationship can work when being neighbors it never happened until recently. Both also encourage the other to pursue the opportunity as neither wants the other to one day resent a lost chance. They make this tale work as a deep yet humorous character study with a strong support cast encouraging the lead pair to do A LITTLE LESS TALK AND A LOT MORE ACTION.

Jericho Point
Meg Gardiner
9780451224859, $7.99

Free lance attorney Evan Delaney runs to where her lover's brother PJ Armstrong is partying after receiving his distress call. When she arrives, he locks himself in the bathroom before she persuades him to tell her what is wrong. As he talks she realizes he is stoned, but insists he saw a woman fall off the balcony. When she goes to call the police, he stops her saying he is not sure whether his imagination ran wild. At the law firm where she works part time, her boss shows her checks made out to Evan Delaney from Datura, Inc. The client is willing to look the other way if Evan returns the money. The only problem is that she never received the checks to cash them. When she looks up her finances and credit statements, she finds checks and credit card bills she never used to buy merchandise. Evan knows someone stole her identity and then the body of Brittany surfaces with credit cards in Evan's name. Creditors are after the real Evan and the law is looking into her allegedly passing bad checks. Finally a drug kingpin demands she pay back with interest the money he lent her. As much as she loves Jesse, evidence mounts that his brother was involved. An Evan Delaney novel is always a treat to read as the heroine knows when to be tough but also shows her fears especially if she or someone she cares about is going to be hurt. Her inner strength enables her to face ugly truths and nasty people while doing something to rectify the mess. The story line is fast-paced but driven by the heroine as she goes about cleaning up a mess while Meg Gardiner strongly warns readers that identity theft does not always denote stranger as it also can be an inside job.

Carol Wiley Cassella
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
1416556109, $25.00, 1-800-223-2336

Seattle anesthesiologist Dr. Marie Heaton has no time grieve the death of an eight-year-old patient Jolene in the operating room as the family filed a malpractice suit. The endless meetings with her lawyer and those of the other interested parties leave Marie thinking back on her life while everyone awaits the critical results of the autopsy. Having never married or had children Marie wonders if she erred focusing on medicine; however observing her sister's family fight and fuss makes her also realize she does not miss combat of that sort. Still estrange from her dad, he feels for him as he is going blind. Her best friend and former lover Joe Hillary seems to want more from her although he insists he is only trying to help her through the death and its aftermath. Finally there is lawsuit that seems to increasingly focus on the anesthesiologist. This is a strong medical thriller that digs deep into the uglier side of the health field enabling the readers to see a ghastly bottom line. The investigation into the child's death is filled with twists as the aftermath of the tragedy leaves a previously confident Marie doubting her skills and that of her associates and worried about the finances if she loses in court. Her relationship with her dad adds depth to understanding Marie. Readers will be hooked from the moment Dr. Heaton meets Jolene and thinks something is not quite right and never slows down until the final conceivable stunning spin.

Legally Dead
Edna Buchanan
Simon & Schuster
9780743294775, $25.00

U.S. Marshal Michael Venturi oversees aspects of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He knows some of his patrons are monsters, but evidence surfaces that one of his clients, mobster Gino Salvi is sexually attacking young girls before he kills them in Flemington, New Hampshire. When Salvi participates in an armored car robbery, Venturi is fired for not watching the gangster closer. Venturi, accompanied by an old dog, head to Florida to open up an agency that stages phony deaths and new identities. Business is booming as many people seek a LEGALLY DEAD solution to their woes. While Britt Montero takes a well deserved breather, Edna Buchanan provides a delightful opening act of what looks like will be a wonderful unique series. The clients are a variety of folks with differing motives to employ Michael's services; they make the tale and his profession seem genuine as not all of them have dire straits to escape from. Venturi proves capable of holding the exciting refreshing story line together. Readers will relish how the clever lead protagonist turns the trick of changing his customers from the living to the LEGALLY DEAD in a fun suspense filled thriller.

Smoke Screen
Sandra Brown
Simon & Schuster
9781416563068, $26.95

TV reporter Britt Shelby wakes up one morning with her mind a total blank. Lying next to her is her friend Charlotte Police Detective Jay Burgess. She does not remember anything about the previous evening after they left the restaurant together, which makes no sense to her as she did not drink much. He told her he was dying and wanted to give her a confession that would make her a star in the big leagues if she chooses that route. When she realizes he is not moving because he died during the night, a stunned Britt calls the cops; who name her as a prime suspect in Jay's murder. Former firefighter Raley Gannon was involved in a scandal that cost him his vocation, his fiancee and the respect of the people close to him. Like Britt, he was caught up in a situation in which he didn't recall what happened the night before. Hearing bits of her tale, Raley abducts Britt to hear her full story so they can compare notes. They conclude that someone slipped date rape drugs in their respective drinks five years apart. Both think that in her case it is to discredit her if Jay said anything about what the conspirators did. Raley was investigating an arson homicide case that involved cops. Together they may be able to clear their names and restore their reputations; that is if they can live long enough to do so with powerful people out to get them. Few authors can consistently keep the high quality level in their novels as Sandra Brown seems to always achieve. The lead pair is obstinate and to a degree obsessed with repairing their damaged reputations; although attracted to one another, both understand the inquiry comes first However, what makes this investigative thriller soar is the fully developed support cast whether they are the enemy or so called friends who turned in disgust against one of the stars. Ms. Brown is at the top of her game with this excellent thriller.

The Monster of Florence
Douglas J. Preston and Mario Spezi
Grand Central Publishing
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
0446581194, $25.99, 1-800-759-0190

For over a decade, the killer murdered and mutilated fourteen people; seven couples making out in parked cars. The police arrested several people, but none were permanently convicted. Though the case turned cold with the last homicides in 1985, renowned novelist Douglas J. Preston and Italian crime reporter Mario Spezi began an investigation to uncover the identity of THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE, which led to their being in trouble with local prosecutors. This is an incredible true crime book that in some ways reads like an obsessed investigative novel. The book is chilling because it is real and not a fictional account. Set aside time as readers will be spellbound to learn whether the authors identified the serial killer.

Made in the U.S.A.
Billie Letts
Grand Central
9780446529013, $24.95

In Spearfish, South Dakota, with their mother long dead, the McFee siblings teenage Lutie and preadolescent Fate live with three hundred plus pounds Floy Satterfield; their runaway father's former girlfriend. However, their lives take a spin when their guardian drops dead at the local megastore. Lutie, who enjoys shoplifting for fun ever since she was booted from the high school gymnastics team due to unfair influences, persuades her eleven year old brother to give up the TV shows and global warming because they have two choices: flee in Floy's ancient car or allow the state to place them. They decide to find their wastrel dad whose last known address is Las Vegas with no further specificity except some dive hotel. In Las Vegas, they begin to learn nasty truths re their father and prison, and where he might be; which if true will prove he is beyond their reach. Fifteen year old Lutie obtains fake working papers and dead-end jobs so she and her brother have food and shelter of sorts. However, increasingly their choices seem to be foster care or the street sharks including avaricious child molesters, rapists, drug addicts and other abusers. However, former aerialist Juan Vargas "adopts" the pair as his redemption and takes them to his family in Oklahoma where they run the Vargas Brothers Circus. Juan carries guilt, but his grandma has love for all three seemingly losers that might help each find sanctuary if they reach out to her and one another. Although at times diving too deep into soap opera territory, MADE IN THE U.S.A. is an interesting character driven contemporary tale that argues it takes a village to raise children. Readers will feel for the McFee sibs, who are neglected while their guardian lived and after she dies make questionable decisions more out of fear. What happens to them especially Lutie in Vegas shows the real sinful underbelly of the city. Although Oklahoma turns out to perfect to be realistic, fans will soar with Lutie, play trivia with Fate and hope Juan forgives himself as they with grandma try to become a family.

Forsaken Soul
Priscilla Royal
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
1590585216, $24.95, 1-800-421-3976

In 1273, Prioress Eleanor of Tyndal struggles with issues. First the nearby villagers openly disapprove of the nightly visits that her new obstinate anchoress Sister Juliana is doing; Eleanor has failed to get her to understand that perceptions are everything to the locals even if the woman is not committing any sins. Second the spouse of her close friend Crowner died giving birth to a daughter. Finally she fears she may be breaking her vows as she is attracted to Brother Thomas. However, that all seems trite when abusive Martin the Cooper, loathed by all, dies while lying with a prostitute at an inn. Eleanor and Ralf believe the bully was sent to hell via poison. Soon others also die by poisoning as Eleanor and Ralf investigate serial murders that lack a tying motive. The latest Priscilla Royal medieval mystery (see JUSTICE FOR THE DAMNED) is a clever historical whodunit that uses a vivid background to enhance an engaging investigation. Eleanor is terrific as she realizes her personal problems seem mundane and insignificant when the homicides begin. Readers will appreciate her efforts along with those of Ralf to solve the homicides before others prematurely meet the creator.

Stranger Room
Frederick Ramsay
Poisoned Pen Press
9781590585351, $24.95

In 1864, The Staunton Spectator newspaper reported that a traveler Mister Franklin Brian was found murdered in the stranger room attached to the Bolton home of Captain Jonathan Lydell, Now a century and half later, elderly Jonathan Lydell IV informs the local sheriff department that someone murdered guest Anton Grotz in his restored antebellum mansion's stranger room with the key inside sealing shut the room. Picketsville, Virginia Sheriff Ike Schwartz with the able help of FBI loaner acting deputy Karl Hendrick investigates the apparent modern day locked room homicide; they find a connection to the cold case Civil War era killing and eerily Poe. As they dig deeper while working other crimes, Jonathan displays his outrage that the cops are turning his estate into a crime scene as he overtly displays his racism and his superiority, but fails to deter Ike or Karl from performing their job. Using the STRANGER ROOM historical concept of a place attached yet totally separated from a house as the basis for a contemporary locked room police procedural, Frederick Ramsay provides a fabulous investigative tale. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Jonathan and his bed and breakfast employee Mrs. Antonelli fail to rouse the guest and never slows down. The cast is solid especially the "Old Virginian" Jonathan with his don't call me Jon instead call me Mr. attitude. Fans will appreciate this strong regional police procedural (see SECRETS and BUFFALO MOUNTAIN for Ike's previous Virginia cases).

Sweeping up Glass
Carolyn D. Wall
Poisoned Pen Press
9781590585122, $24.95

In 1938 Kentucky, Olivia Harker Cross runs Harker's Grocery; her only help comes from preadolescent Will'm, whose mom Pauline dumped him on her before vanishing. Business is poor as no one can afford much. Looking back she thinks about her mom Ida living in a sanitarium in nearby Buelton, while her beloved Pap Tate ran a still and cared for ailing animals. Though married to Saul, for three decades Olivia has loved trumpeter Wing Harris who reciprocates, but neither has made the first move beyond howdy. After Tate delivered a litter of puppies, he ran into James Arnold Phelps. Soon afterward Pap was dead and Ida had come home. Saul died not long afterward. Despondent, Olivia turned to Wing, but he rejected her. Even further upset, she chases after seedy male losers in dives. However, she began to turn it around when Pauline dropped off Will'm on her as he is her salvation. When they hear shots fired by the mysterious Hunt Club members tracking silver-faced wolves, the pair becomes frightened as it is too cold to be outdoors hunting for sport. However, they soon have a bigger fear as the hunters stalk Olivia and Will'm. Not for everyone as this is a strange historical thriller in which fans obtain a deep look at a beleaguered heroine who is seemingly betrayed by her loved ones whom she has loyally taken care of. Will'm is her redemption as Olivia will do whatever it takes to keep the boy safe although that might mean breaking the perceptions she and others have of her. Fans who enjoy something different will relish a tense look at Depression Era rural Kentucky.

Losing Ground
Catherine Aird
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312368895, $23.95, 1-888-330-8477

In Tolmie Park near Berebury, a thief stole the eighteenth century portrait of the 4th Baronet Sir Filligee from the wall; the artist Peter de Vesey was a local Calleshire aristocratic portrait painter still well known in the region. Soon after the theft, arson occurred to the somewhat dilapidated yet majestic country house; before the roof caved in bones were seen. Detective Chief Inspector C.D. "Seedy" Sloan, assisted by Detective Constable Crosby, leads the investigation into what may be a homicide, but art theft and arson for sure. The two cops quickly learn that the historical house and property are part of a major dispute between developers and preservationists while a nouveau riche pop star Kevin Cowlick wants to buy the estate. Sloan wonders who would go so far as to commit arson. This is a fabulous English police procedural as Seedy works the case by following clues that lead to dead ends. The cast is solid, but it is the lead detective, his junior partner, and the estate make for a fine tale as the audience will obtain a taste of what is happening to the English historical properties. Sub-genre fans will enjoy the latest Calleshire whodunit (see HOLE IN ONE).

Belle Weather: Mostly Sunny with a Chance of Scattered Hissy Fits
Celia Rivenbark
St. Martin's Press
9780312362997, $21.95

These are 30 humorous observations about life that can be read over a period of time as each is an exclusive entry. However, the commentaries are actually divided into four sections: On the House, Just Kid-ding, It's Raining Men (Must be Why My Joints Ache, and (I'm So Totally) Randomly Thoughts. The entries are all fun, but especially the first two segments. Readers will empathize with the insanity that goes on with purchasing a house and the social expectations of having kids at school. The very first essay sets the bar of excellence for this hilarious tome as Celia and her husband buy a house that they crazily say "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change!" as they renovate what they bought. It remains zany from that onset as Celia understands the significant other in her life is the renovator. Readers will be in stitches as each contribution will hit home even if you do not own a house or have a kid own you. Although the six commentaries that make up the last section are aptly titled Random Thoughts, they are unfocused especially following the previous classified trio, yet they too are jocular and will leave fans laughing, wanting more insight into hissy living, and appreciate Celia Rivenbark, "a Beauty Queen At Last".

The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Fifth Annual Collection
Gardner Dozois (Editor)
St. Martin's
0312378602, $21.95

This anthology consistently lives up to its billing as the best with the usual strong Introduction by editor Garner Dozois providing an overview of the year especially in short stories with the emphasis on magazine survivability. In the 25th edition, Mr. Dozois praises the Internet for the rapid growth of on-line magazines that showcase famous and unknown authors; especially those with no previous credentials. He also provides accolades to the big publishing firms for supporting anthologies and small presses who provide opportunities to new writers. Finally he gives credit to the Sci Fi channel as well. The stories as always are top rate coming from the vast sources now available. Incredulous as it seems Mr. Dozois improved the tome by finding remote tales and brings them to the attention of mainstream fans although most of the selected entries are by name authors. Especially poignant is "Last Contact by Stephen Baxter in which a mother and her astrophysicist daughter wait together for the Big Crunch to occur, "Finisterra" by David Moles with its warning to watch out for predators even living on an island in the sky, and "An Ocean is a Snowflake, Four Billion Miles away' by John Barnes where earthlings terraform Mars. With a wide gamut of selections spanning the genre, Mr. Dozois does 2007 proud; a year that he insists will be remembered for its series of retrospect collections of great authors and the widening of sources beyond the print magazine.

Cockatiels at Seven
Donna Andrews
St. Martin's Press
0312377150, $23.95

Recently married to Michael, Meg Langslow makes her Dad and Grandpa swear her baby sitting of their reptiles is short and temporary as she fears she will soon be bailing them and Dr. Blake out of some jail. Reluctantly she agrees to host the reptilians on her Caerphilly, Virginia farm though her guests give her the creeps. At the same time her friend Karen leaves her toddler Timmy with Meg to baby-sit the child; a bit concerned as the boa dad left eats squirrels while Meg compares mentally little Timmy to the rodent. However, Karen fails to return to pick up her two years old infant. Not sure if Karen is in trouble or deserted Timmy, Meg, having solved cases before like THE PENGUIN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, investigates. She soon learns that Karen's sleazy former husband Jasper was a computer programmer at the same college where Karen works and Michael teaches. As Meg digs deeper, she uncovers Jasper's corpse and much more. This is a zany amusing amateur sleuth as Meg's family, the snakes, and Tom the terrible two bring much humor to the heroine's frantic inquiry. What happened to Karen and why provides the suspense. Readers will appreciate the latest Langslow tale as snakes on the farm is a fun lighthearted frolic.

Tan Lines
J.J. Salem and Kylie Adams
St. Martin's Press
0312374151, $24.95

In the Hamptons, the three women arrive for a summer of renewal as none are happy at the moment. Political expert Liza Pike is thinking of divorcing her post 9/11 firefighting spouse Justin, but is thinking of future children with or without him. Depressed former actress Kellyanne Downey is tired of being the mistress of affluent businessman Walter Isherwood, who treats her with possessive scorn. Finally indie rocker Billie Shelton thinks her career is over and perhaps her life with it. This trio meets at a rental they share for the summer. However, whether their TAN LINES predict a happy ending seems unlikely as the most wonderful summer of their lives includes a fifteen stabbing killing, a premature baby, and a public humiliation; just another day at the beach in Long island. TAN LINES is a delightful contemporary fiction tale starring three wonderful females who "bond" suddenly last summer at the Hamptons. Each comes out there for renewal and escape from the testosterone scum in their lives, but sometimes you get what you wish for. The descriptions by the lead trio make the tale as verbal slicing and dicing especially of their respective significant other is fun to follow while everything goes wrong.

When the Guillotine Fell
Jeremy Mercer
St. Martin's Press
0312357915, $24.95

When the Guillotine Fell: The Bloody Beginning and Horrifying End to France's River of Blood, 1791—1977 is a fascinating look at one of the most notorious execution devices made infamous in A Tale of two Cities. However, the best passages are the stories of those who danced with Madame Guillotine, but these are disjointed with sudden switches to other poignant segues. Interestingly, the inventor Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin created the device during the French Revolution as a cleaner way to conduct an execution (much faster than conventional methods so less pain for the mob of observers - think of Dickens' Madam DeFarge; and as a humanitarian reason to those who are being killed – think of the Supreme Court's lethal injection decision). The last victim was Tunisian expatriate Hamida Djandoubi who with the help of two underage girlfriends killed one of his Marseille prostitutes in 1974 and was dispatched in 1977 just before France outlawed capital punishment. A section on the history of state legal executions adds depth to an overall fascinating in a macabre way historical account of WHEN THE GUILLOTINE FELL, but overall the tome suffers from a disjointed execution.

Gentlemen Behaving Badly
Michelle Marcos
St. Martin's Press
0312948506, $6.99

Her father was arrested for a crime that Mina Halliday knows he did not commit; his jewelry shop taken from him and his family. While he lingers in ruin in prison, Mina went to the Pleasure Emporium seeking employment although she lacked the beauty and skills of the ladies. However, Madam Finch, the tall owner, hires her to serve drinks and to lure men with her sensual letters. Mina also hops to find the aristocratic miscreant who framed her father. Chief Constable Salter Lambrick investigates a homicide of a government official. His only clue is the sexy letter he found inside the victim's pocket. Salter goes to the Pleasure Emporium to interrogate the authoress, but finds a strange intriguing mystery there. The writer is obvious a woman of innocence serving drinks at the brothel's bar. He finds her pretty and intelligent; a lethal combo for the detective who agrees to help her uncover the villain who destroyed her family. The second Regency Pleasure Emporium brothel tale (see WHEN A LADY MISBEHAVES) stars a charming "bad girl" whose wickedness is to write sensual letters enticing the male Ton to come to the bordello. The story line is fast-paced and filled with mystery, suspense and romance. Fans will relish the strong lead couple pairing and the antics of the support cast especially those inside the brothel. Although somewhat similar in tone to the first unique entry, sub-genre readers will enjoy this engaging tale of love inside a house of ill repute.

Burial of the Dead
Michael Hogan
St. Martin's Press
9780312367299, $25.95

Just before she died, wealthy Emma Kost O'Neal sent a note to her grand-niece Manny informing her that she was leaving her large estate to her; she also warns Manny to avoid troubled Matt Wyman. Sometime after the elderly woman dies, Manny and Matt living together argue over Emma's alleged suicide. Matt believes Emma odious avaricious lawyer Sullivan killed her. He demands Manny assist him in proving his assertion. Later Matt using the name Levon resides in an asylum where he plans to escape and return to Manny. Meanwhile she feels she has found her soulmate paralegal Ann Dillon; ironically she is as obsessed as Matt is to prove Sullivan killed Emma. Even the police who first investigated the case, detectives Mark Moraski and David Talmadge argue over Emma's death, but they look at Matt as a possible killer if a homicide occurred. This is a complicated somewhat convoluted mystery as the audience wonders whether Emma was murdered or committed suicide. Throughout the superb but Byzantine story line are legal depositions and other evidence that may be facts, interpretations to fit assumptions or red herrings. Fans who want a straightforward investigative thriller need to pass, but those who appreciate a multifaceted thriller will enjoy BURIAL OF THE DEAD because Michael Hogan's powerful support characters make this tale work.

The Drifter's Wheel
Phillip DePoy
St. Martin's Press
031236203X, $24.95

In Georgia Appalachia, an odd stranger calls on folklorist Fever Devilin. The young man is a ball of nervous passionate energy as he relates his story to Devilin. Unable to sit quietly, he insists he is a century old and fervently begins telling Devilin about his past as he claims to have survived gas warfare in the European trenches during WWI and learning to tango following a murder At Madam Biscoe's House in the Windy City. Soon after his fervor slows down a bit he pulls out a gun, but falls into a deep sleep in the middle of some rant. Devilin assumes the sleeping stranger is either on drugs or simply loco so he calls the sheriff, who tells him he has received similar calls; however before Skid reaches Fever's home, the vagrant vanishes. The next morning the murdered corpse of a drifter, wearing the identical clothes as Fever's visitor, is found. Devilin needs to know if the victim was his strange storyteller so he investigates the homicide. The latest Devilin regional amateur sleuth is not an easy read as the stranger is so abnormal with his rant, his gun, and his abrupt nap he is frightening yet so real. While totally disturbing the reader, he also absorbs the audience like he did Devilin with a need to know the truth of who he is, how he got to this point in which his sanity is questioned, and is he dead; if not who is. THE DRIFTER'S WHEEL is thought provoking, gripping and well written, but haunting as this tale will stay with readers long afterward.

A Mortal Curiosity
Ann Granger
St. Martin's Press
9780312363529, $24.95

In 1864, Aunt Parry obtains a position of temporary companion for her almost thirty year old by marriage niece Elizabeth "Lizzie" Martin. Clipper ship owner Charles Roche is worried about his teenage niece Lucy Craven whose husband is in China on family business while she recovers from having given birth only to have her baby die a couple of days later. Currently Lucy is staying with her much older spinster Aunts Miss Christina and Miss Phoebe. He also sends his friend Dr. Lefebre, an observant alienist, to check on the emotional well being of the distraught Lucy whose aunts insist she is deranged. At the Shore House in New Forest in Hampshire, Dr, Lefebre is welcomed by the aunts as a special guest while they literally look down their respective noses at Lizzie, who makes it clear she is unafraid to speak her mind though to herself she admits it looks silly as the two aunts are well over a head taller than her. Still she makes it clear that she is there as Lucy's companion. As a gentleman farmer seems to be courting the married Lucy, someone murders the traveling rat catcher Jethro Brennan. Worried for Lucy's safety as well as her own, Lizzie sends for her boyfriend, Metropolitan Police Detective Inspector Benjamin Ross; he drops everything to come immediately. Readers will feel they are in Victorian England mostly by the sea away from London as Ann Granger provides a vivid look into the manners of a bygone era. The murder mystery comes deep into the tale turning the story line smoothly from a historical novel into a police procedural with a superb final twist that reminds the audience it is 1864 Hampshire (though some will insist it could be 2008 DC with the last spin). Mostly told from Elizabeth's perspective, fans of the period will appreciate this fine mid ninetieth century English whodunit.

Kathryn Casey
St. Martin's Press
9780312379506, $24.95

In his Galveston beach house, someone murders affluent Houston businessman Edward Travis Lucas III and his apparent lover attorney Annmarie Knowles; the killer placed the bodies in ritualistic way to maximize the scandal; thius pointing elsewhere. Galveston and Houston Police Departments claim pieces of the investigation; the Texas Rangers and the FBI also insist they have jurisdiction. In front of the media everyone is cooperative, but at the crime scene and elsewhere away from the spotlight, squabbling her begun. Recently widowed and single mom Texas Ranger profiler Lieutenant Sarah Armstrong works the case along side FBI profiler David Garrity; neither accept the local department's theory that Lucas' wife, Priscilla killed both of them. Instead the two profilers believe a serial killer with a track record in Texas committed the homicides and disguised them to look like a crime of passion. They plan to prove their theory. This is a terrific Texas police procedural with the jurisdictional war kept in the background rising just enough to make for a strong investigation by the profilers. However, the key to this fine yet standard murder mystery is the grieving mother and daughter as each struggles with the recent death of the man in their lives and that in turn deepens the audience's understanding of the caring mother who uses work as a psychological defense mechanism because she cannot mourn her loss too openly at home; her daughter needs her emotionally strong. Fans will enjoy Kathryn Casey's fine insightful tale.

The Fidelity Files
Jessica Brody
St. Martin's
9780312375461, $13.95

Everyone who knows Jennifer Hunter assumes she is a very successful financier or banker because her job title she uses is "fidelity inspector". However, Jennifer is actually an "undercover" agent using the operative name Ashlyn when a client hires her to test the loyalty and faithfulness of a significant other. She has so many customers using her service, Jennifer for practical purposes do not exist; she spends more time in her alter ego role. When she successfully exposes a cheating spouse, he vows vengeance. Worse happens when she meets someone who makes her want to get out of the business of kiss-and-telling on philanders, but her recent experiences with one noted Chicago exception with men leaves her with some doubts. THE FIDELITY FILES is an interesting intriguing tale starring a fascinating woman whose undercover job is exposing cheating husbands. The story line is fast-paced as the heroine and her Hawthorne team makes the rounds for their clients never running only power rush walking. Fans will relish the lead character as Ashlyn's inquiries of the first encounter and Jennifer's relationship issues with men starting with her sneaker clad dad make for an engaging read.

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Jackie Lynn
St. Martin's Press
0312376812, $24.95

In West Memphis, Arkansas, Rose Franklin temporarily manages the Shady Grove campgrounds. When obviously lost Chariot Stevens arrives, Rose welcomes her. Chariot has driven from her Pierre, South Dakota home to Arkansas after witnessing the murder of her boyfriend, Jason Holmes. Soon after Chariot's arrival, the police arrest her for Jason's homicide. Rose and her Shady Grove pals believe the young woman is innocent and having solved two local murders (see JACOB'S LADDER and DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE); they investigate as they believe the motive involves whatever Jason stole from the real killer. Chariot convinces Sheriff Montgomery to stall Chariot's extradition back to South Dakota to give her and the Shady Grove posse time to sleuth. This is a fabulous amateur sleuth filled with red herrings, plenty of twists and strong regional characters. The bone weary heroine refuses to quit though the clock is against her and her team. Fans will cheer on Rose and the Shady Grove detectives as they set out to uncover the identity of the culprit with the cooperation of the local sheriff stalling South Dakota law enforcement behind a brilliant "dumb hick" facade.

Damnation Falls
Edward Wright
St. Martin's Press
0312380011, $24.95

Chicago reporter Randall Wilkes was at the top of the world when he was fired by the newspaper editor. He slinks back disgraced to his hometown of Pilgrim's Rest, Tennessee, but stops on the way in Nashville where he is given an opportunity to write the biography of the former governor Sonny McMahan; Randall and Sonny were his childhood friends. However, only a few hours after Randall reaches his hometown, Sonny's elderly mom is found dead hanging from a bridge; her youthful care-provider is also brutally murdered. Shockingly at about the same time, Sonny's no-good late father reappears from the dead. When the remains of Randall's first lover are found after years of burial, the journalist decides to use his investigating skills and dig into murders cold and hot. This is a strong regional investigative tale as the hero must separate what he recalls nostalgically from what he knows as fact. The story line is driven by the determined Randall who after two decades in the big city must readapt to small-town rural sensitivities. Readers will appreciate his efforts as friendships, family, and his reminiscing interfere with his inquiry.

Ash Wednesday
Ralph McInerny
St. Martin's Press
0312364563, $24.95

On Ash Wednesday, just out of prison Nathaniel Green, who killed his wife ten years ago when he pulled the plug on the life support machine so she could go to heaven, asks the pastor of St. Hilary's if he will put ashes on his forehead though he is no longer a Catholic. He gave up on religion when his beloved Florence suffered from terminal cancer and kept alive by so called caring people when she just wanted to die. Nathaniel and Florence belonged to St. Hilary before he committed euthanasia. Some people especially Florence's sister do not want to turn the other cheek and let him return to the flock. They condemn him for murdering his spouse quoting the bible and the Ten Commandments. On the other hand Father Dowling understands why a human would act mercifully to end the suffering of a loved one although he feels deeply that it is still is a sin. As the parish divides over the issue of mercy killing, Dowling begins to see some incongruence in what he hears happened a decade ago; as he quietly investigates he begins to wonder if Nathaniel actually pulled the plug or is covering for someone. This is a thought provoking Father Dowling mystery; perhaps the best in years as everyday people struggle with the difficult and complex issue of euthanasia as the St. Hilary congregation is divided over the subject and the killer. The story line is fast-paced once the whisper campaign begins that Green is out of prison and home and never slows down as he is shunned while he reads Crime and Punishment seeking absolution, but for what asks Father Dowling?

Paul Carson
St. Martin's Press
0312367112, $25.95

Dr. Scott Nolan and his wife Laura leave America for him to practice medicine Dublin. They are a loving couple and look forward to a long life together. Everything collapses when Laura is killed during an errant shot, which targeted Ireland's anti-drug Justice Minister, Harry Power. Serene before he became a widower, an angry grieving Scott wants vengeance against the chief assassin. His also upset brother-in-law, Irish Police Officer Mark Higgins agrees to help him uncover the identity of the chief plotter who arranged the murder of an innocent out of avarice. Senior police officer, Commissioner Peter Cunningham and Power agree to blink while Nolan and Higgins abduct drug dealers so that the former can use his medical skills to extract information leading to the kingpin. This is an exciting thriller that will remind readers of Clancy's Patriot Game. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action from the moment the innocent Laura is gunned down and never slows down until a final confrontation with a major twist on the way to the altercation. Although a stretch wider than the Blarney Stone, this is a fun thriller in which the end justifies the mean.

My Sister, My Love: The Intimate Story of Skyler Rampike
Joyce Carol Oates
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0061547484, $25.95, 1-800-242-7737

In New Jersey, Rampike family patriarch Bix is a woman chasing abusive intimidating father; his compliant wife Betsey focuses on one thing pushing their daughter Bliss, into becoming an internationally famous winning figure skater. Their other child nine years old son Skyler is irrelevant to either parent except if they need someone to bully. The Rampike family lifestyle abruptly dies when the star Bliss is murdered violently in the furnace room by someone who stabbed her multiple times. A decade later the late Bliss' brother remains filled with guilt over her unsolved death while also shouldering the belief of almost everyone familiar with the case that he out of a jealous rage caused by her getting all the attention killed his sibling. Sky has no one as neither parent offers him comfort until now nineteen and having been haunted alone for ten years he receives the letter from his dying mother that tells him what happened on that fatal day when the facade of what he thought was the perfect family collapsed under the weight of the homicide. An obvious tie to the Jon Benet tragedy, this is a deep satire that bludgeons the American dream in which appearances with no substance counts above all else; image is everything hiding dysfunctional relationships. The story line is clever especially with "footnotes" to add to the feel that Sky is "reading" the true family biography written by his mommy. The story line is padded somewhat by a novella "First Love, Farewell" written by Skylar that enables the audience to better understand how as a teen he views relationships, but also distracts from the prime theme of what happened on that day. Still fans will appreciate Joyce Carol Oates keen look at the real American dream of obsession, excessiveness, and materialism.

Wicked as Sin
Jillian Hunter
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345503930, $6.99, 1-800-726-0600

In 1816 in Enfield, England, Lady Althea Claridge hears that the latest "wicked deed-holder" of neighboring Helbourne Hall has arrived. She also realizes this particular "devil" is taking a dangerous path that will kill himself and his horse. Althea rushes to prevent a fatal accident from occurring. Thus she is shocked when the latest demon holder is her childhood buddy Colonel Sir Gabriel Boscastle. As stunned as she is, Gabriel cannot believe how beautiful his kindhearted childhood friend has become. However, he sees a sadness about her that she did not have in her youth and feels a need to return the mirth to her eyes. However, as they fall in love, she assumes he is the same out of control person he was as a child, but believes they can make it. He, on the other hand, looks pessimistically at the future as his gloomy outlook may prove prophetic. WICKED AS SIN is an excellent regency romance that besides the return of the irresistible Boscastle brood stars a wonderful lead couple. Interestingly, Gabriel wants to bring the happiness back into his beloved's eyes yet ironically his depressing outlook may make the sadness permanent. Classic Pygmalion Effect, fans will appreciate this entry rooting that Althea brings happiness to Gabriel's eyes.

Into the Fire
Suzanne Brockmann
9780345501530, $25.00

Vinh Murphy lived the Marine value of never leaving behind a brother or sister in arms. He took that ethic with him when he left the military and joined Troubleshooters Incorporated as a top gun operative. However, on what was an alleged simple and safe mission, his beloved wife Angelina died in a crossfire. Filled with grief and guilt over her death, he simply vanishes, but holds culpable the neo-Nazi Freedom Network especially its leader Tim Ebersole; everyone who knows him knows he deeply blames Ebersole. When someone cleverly kills Ebersole, the FBI and even his associates at Troubleshooters assume Murphy is the prime suspect as he has a gut wrenching motive and his skills give him means and opportunities few could achieve to murder the highly protected Ebersole. Fearing a lethal shootout his Troubleshooter friends search for Murphy to persuade him to come in peacefully. Angelina's best friend former police officer Hannah Whitfield has always loved Vinh, but hid her deep regard from him and from Angelina when she was alive. He seeks her help as he is unsure whether he pulled the trigger or not as he was in an alcoholic stupor; they seek the truth by going INTO THE FIRE of the Freedom Network. Hannah and Vinh are an interesting pairing because both grieve the loss of Angelina and the guilt of one night of solace together after the woman died. In some ways Hannah is the more complete character as she was forced to retire due to an on the job injury leading to deafness and has hid her love for Vinh; whereas Murphy remains grief stricken although the murder has awakened him from his drunken stupor. With other subplots also in the fire, fans will appreciate this action-packed romantic suspense thriller starring two walking wounded and the rest of the troubleshooters willingly going INTO THE FIRE to prove the innocence of one of them; for once you join this team you remain part of them even after you leave.

The Wednesday Sisters
Meg Waite Clayton
0345502825, $23.00

In the late 1960s the five young mothers meet in Palo Alto at a park. They have plenty in common as they dream of being much more than just a wife and mother while hearing tales of the counter culture and the Summer of Love. The quintet love books especially those they can escape into so they can forget their somewhat tedious lives especially the household chores, but each sees a different role for the lead female characters based on what they dream they wanted. Linda loves to run with the Olympics her fantasy goal. Brett literally wants to walk on the moon. Kath insists marriage is all she ever desired, but her four new pals with their aspirations make her wonder if there might be something in addition to being wife and mother. Ally, the only one without a child, wants a kid or three. The leader Midwesterner Frankie, who came to California as her husband came here to work at the fledgling computer business, hopes to be come a writer. THE WEDNESDAY SISTERS inspire each other to go after their aspirations and much more even when they seem impossible in a man's only world by writing and sharing their tales.
This historical sisterhood tale is an engaging look at the beginning of the "You've come a long way baby" feminist movement that brought women into many fields previously taboo epitomized by Hilary's run (the next one will go all the way). Each of the five women seems real due to their dreams to be more than identified through their husband and kids. Although their individual writings are too sweet even if they read valid for their place in late 1960s society, fans will enjoy this fine tale as before Sally Ride there was a real Brett out there trying to break out of the box.

Death Angel
Linda Howard
9780345486547, $26.00

Drea Rousseau liked the finer things in life; jewelry, designer clothing, unlimited expense accounts. To obtain these things, she became the mistress of Rafael Salinas, a major supplier of illegal drugs. He believes she is a classic bimbo, but Drea is smart enough to conceal from him how much she truly knows about his operation. One day he assigns a job to the Assassin who in payment says he wants sex with Drea. Salinas accepts the terms. When Drea learns he "pimped" her she is outraged that he treated her as a street hooker. She takes the jewels he gave her and removes two million dollars from her account before leaving. Irate by what he determines is a betrayal; Salinas hires the Assassin to kill Drea. He doesn't get to kill her because she was in a car accident, but after being dead for an hour she returns to life. Drea has a new chance, but must change how she lives. She also believes she must get Salinas off the streets. She knows the Assassin who enabled her to live is the ticket; he has a connection to her just like she feels towards him. If they are to explore that attraction, she believes Salinas must go first. Neither protagonist is a decent person as he is a vicious professional hitman and she is a hedonistic selfish SOB until they meet. Readers will admire them as they do what they must to survive and even somewhat empathize with the duo; an obvious display of Linda Howard's characterization skills. She has a chance to redeem herself, but he believes for him it is too late but hopes to help her. Ms. Howard has written a terrific tale that is filled with action and two different than usual "heroes" who come from the underbelly of society.

Eight in the Box
Raffi Yessayan
0345502612, $25.00

In Boston, professional women are alarmingly vanishing; the only clue of an assault is their bathtub is filled with blood. The police assume these victims are dead though no corpse has been left behind or surfaced. There are no suspects or even a person of slight interest as the cops are stymied. Veteran Boston homicide sergeant Wayne Mooney and his rookie partner Angel Alves lead the investigation of the Bathtub Killer, but are going nowhere with the case. Assistant District Attorney Connie Darget is frustrated as he wants this perpetrator stopped, but the cops have provided him with nothing except another missing female; he is also disgusted with his peers who only care what happens to their resumes. Meanwhile the clever psychopath continues his or her taunting body snatching. This is an exciting serial killer whodunit with some police procedural and legal thriller elements enhancing the tale. The story line is fast-paced as the police and the office of the DA are in the dark not even certain whether the crime is kidnapping only, sexual assault, or murder while the audience knows from the first page who the Bathtub Killer is. Fans will appreciate this action-packed cat and mouse encounter although the ADAs except for Connie are treated with contempt; Richter is more sympathetic then this selfish group.

Bound by Shadow
Anna Windsor
9780345498533, $6.99

The Sybils are powerful women who have pledged to use their skills to keep the evil Legion from enslaving humanity. In New York, the three Sybil Dumain sisters Riana, Cynda and Merilee are shocked when they meet Occult Crimes Unit police detective Creed Lowell, as he is different; not quite fully human yet not any other known species. Creed knows what he is not as every moment he is battling to keep his "other" self under control. When a murderous demon attacks the siblings, they know they are in deep trouble. Creed is at their side, but the Dumain sisters, especially Riana even though she is falling in love with the half human, have doubts he is on their side. Fans of dark urban romantic fantasy will want to read Anna Windsor's paranormal Manhattan police procedural as the action is non stop, the atmosphere pure grit, and the cast badass. The story is fast-paced as Riana and Creed are falling in love while battling a serial killing demon and their feelings. With two Sybil siblings to follow, sub-genre fans will feel "bound" to read Cynda and Merilee's futuristic thrillers.

The Importance of Being Married
Gemma Townley
9780345499806, $13.00

Project Marriage began the day that Jessica Wild's grandma died. Jessica was visiting her grandma at the retirement home when she met her relative's neighbor Grace Hampton. Jessica and Grace became friends. She told Grace that she worked at Milton Advertising and when the older woman told her to get a beau; she swore she was dating the legendary Anthony Milton. Over time she told Grace they were engaged and eventually happily married; white lies made the older woman feel good about the commitment phobia Jessica. When Grace dies Jessica is stunned to learn Mrs. Anthony Milton has inherited millions in pounds. There is only one problem, Jessica is not married to her boss and has fifty days to claim her inheritance. Unable to tell him the humiliating truth and beg for his assistance with a temporary marriage, with the help of her flatmate, Jessica creates a strategic plan to accomplish Project marriage. Obtaining professional consulting help, Jessica succeeds in getting engaged to Anthony, but as they plan for their wedding, she dreams of his bud. This chick lit Cinderella caper is a fun tale especially when the lead character seeks advice from her friend and pros like a hooker instead of a guidebook like THE HOPELESS ROMANTIC'S HANDBOOK. The makeover from middle class worker into sex siren with a snip and a clip is inane and slows the otherwise impish story line. Still this is a wonderful English tale filled with a strong protagonist who begins to question for love or money.

The Age Of The Conglomerates
Thomas Nevins
9780375503917, $14.00

In 2048, the Conglomerates political party led by the mythical "Chairman" runs the country based on one commandment: strict enforcement of economic law using force. The country has been divided into zones of sorts; the octogenarian "Coots" live in Cootsland enforced retirement camps in the southwest out of sight and not draining society while out of control young runaway "Dyscards" live in the New York City subways. New York Medical Center, director of genetic contouring Dr. Christine Salter feels strongly that she and her team provide an important public service when they assist people in trouble by recreating them or their children using genetic manipulation. However, her perfectly balanced world collapses starting with her top aide Gabriel Cruz vanishing after being accused of seditious crimes against the state. Her grandparents turning eighty are deported from the mainland to "Cootsland," and her sister runs away becoming a Dyscard. All this makes Christine reexamine what she does at the same time she begins to uncover a nefarious disturbing conspiracy to tighten the Conglomerates control of society starting with "youthenizing" the Chairman. Combining the premises of 1984, Logan's Run and Soylent Green, Thomas Nevins provides a grim future of a genetic contoured world. The story line is fast-paced, but owned by Christine who had always thought her work as valuable to people until recent societal events shake her to her core. Although the Conglomerates comes across sort of like an extremely evil Maoist Communist Party, readers will enjoy this fine thriller starring a reformed David-ette battling Goliath.

The Bearskin Rug
Jennifer Stevenson
9780345500243, $6.99

Chicago Department of Consumer Service detective Jewel Heiss and her partner former con artist Clay Dawes are going undercover. Joining them is the Randy the sex demon she freed from THE BRASS BED. Her assignment is to look into first hand erotic weirdness at a film studio. Jewel assumes that a studio making porn would have hinky kinky erotica, but it is Randy who becomes an actor and Clay who becomes an avatar to a sex goddess who get the roles. Concerned over how easily her two male companions have been sexually entranced, Jewel goes deep undercover to end the siren enchantment of sexual harassment that leaves pathetic men like Clay and Randy thinking with their lower heads and women stars of the grope. The third Jewel lighthearted urban fantasy continues the adventures of the heroine in a somewhat magical Chicago; although almost everyone is in denial that magic exists. The story line is fast-paced as the trio assaults the studio with differing results. The triangle seems to have been resolved, but the audience should read the previous two tales (see THE VELVET CHAIR) to better understand how Jewel ended up with two males in her life.

The Velvet Chair
Jennifer Stevenson
9780345486691, $6.99

After spending the day insuring gas stations were not gouging customers, Chicago Department of Consumer Service detective Jewel Heiss and her partner former con artist Clay Dawes are going undercover. Joining them is the Randy the sex demon she freed from THE BRASS BED. They are to investigate the claims of the owner of the suddenly very popular the Venus Machine. The owner claims the velvet chair can make anyone attractive. Jewel assumes they are dealing with a professional con artist. Her flim flam theory is affirmed when the trio soon learns that the Venus Machine is connected to Clay's dad, who mentored his offspring re the art of the con and tied also to another investigation involving a spa. To prove fraud, Jewel sits on the velvet chair, but to her shock something strange and fascinating begins to happen to her. This is an engaging lighthearted urban fantasy starring an intriguing heroine and her retinue. The story line is fast-paced, but newcomers should read the first Jewel of a tale to better understand how the lead female ended up with two male hunks as "partners". Very creative, sub-genre fans will enjoy the antics of THE VELVET CHAIR.

Upside Down Inside Out
Monica McInerney
9780345506245, $14.00

In Dublin, Eva Kennedy concludes she and her latest boyfriend share none of the same desires. To make matters worse, she believes the rat was using her. Deciding she needed to escape and encouraged by her Uncle Ambrose, who looks forward to retirement, she goes ahead with the Australian trip they planned together without him. Joseph is a workaholic who decides when a business trip takes him to Australia to take a few personal days and enjoy Down Under. He and Eva meet and are immediately attracted to one another; however, Eva pretends to be someone else to make her more attractive to Joseph. As they fall in love, their vacations are ending with neither able to tell the other the truth as to just who they are; each fears how their beloved will react yet know silence is as condemning. The cast from the lead couple to the wonderful support players make for an engaging contemporary romance. Along with the two stars, readers discover little quirks and traits about Eva and Joseph. Fans of a warm tale of love will appreciate aptly named UPSIDE DOWN, INSIDE OUT.

Master of Surrender
Karin Tabke
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
1416550895, $6.99, 1-800-223-2336

In 1059 in Jubb Prison, Iberia, three prisoners (Rohan de Luc, Thorin and Manhkhu) expect to die violently at the hands of their torturer Tariq the Saracens. However, instead though chained they kill Tariq, but not before a woman names them the Blood Sword Knights and warns them to be careful spreading their seed as only their destined woman will bear their sons. In 1066, William the Conqueror awards his cousin Rohan with Alethorpe, a Saxon stronghold. Rohan arrives only to find the previous lord's daughter Lady Isabel in charge vowing to never swear allegiance to the Norman pretender or surrender her family keep to his cousin. Rohan and his men take the keep anyway. He quickly thinks back to seven years ago and the seer's prediction; he knows he has found the bearer of his sons in this feisty intelligent Saxon. She ignores her attraction to the newcomer, but begins to see how kind he is towards her people starting with sparing her squire's life after an affront. As they fall in love and agree to marry, treacheries from her side that will harm her Saxons make her ponder her pledge to her family and people vs. her vows to her beloved. Known for her heated contemporary romantic police procedurals (see SKIN, HEATED, and GOOD GIRLS GONE BAD), Karin Tabke showcases a wider talent as she provides readers with an exhilarating Conqueror romance. The story line is fast-paced as the lead couple fights each other for supremacy while their respective hearts betray them. Although typical of the early medieval romance, Ms. Tabke heats up the era with this engaging eleventh century tale.

Then You Hide
Roxanne St. Claire
Pocket Books
9781416552437, $6.99

Vanessa Porter goes on vacation in the Caribbean. However, she is actually seeking her missing friend Clive Easterbrook, who vanished. Bullet Catcher's CEO Lucy Sharpe tries to persuade consultant Wade Cordell to fully join the team; he refuses as he says he is no longer a legally paid assassin as he was for the marines and CIA. Disappointed, Lucy asks him to do a small favor; find Vanessa. Apparently she was one of three babies taken from their biological mother Eileen Stafford in 1978 Charleston and sold on the black market; Eileen needs a compatible bone marrow transplant. Wade finds Vanessa rather easily, but she persuades him to help her find Clive. In return she will meet her mom, take the compatibility test, and decide whether to donate or not; she hides from Wade the fact that she made up her mind to refuse. However, as they work together and fall in love, the effort to save Clive may prove deadly to the wannabee rescuers. The second tale in this Bullet Catcher's trilogy (see FIRST YOU RUN) is an exhilarating romantic suspense thriller as Wade and Vanessa run into one nasty scenario after another trying to locate Clive. Although Vanessa's actions seem too unnecessarily risky, she makes the story line hum with her obstinacy and courage. Fans of the saga will appreciate this strong action-packed entry as the lead couple learns that love is a strong impetus to live for.

Game for Anything
Bella Andre
Pocket Books
9781416558415, $14.00

NFL superstar San Francisco Outlaws quarterback Ty Calhoun won the Super Bowl on the last play with an incredible run. While the accolades pour in especially for his amazing final play, public relations specialist Julie Spencer watched the game and its final play on TV and expected Ty to score the winning points. She never forgot his scoring with her when he took her virginity and heart without a look back ten years ago. Behind his impish demeanor, Ty hides the fact he never forgot that high school graduation night that shook him to the core and made him flee like a coward. Now he would give away every trophy and his throwing arm for one more night of uninhibited sex with Julie; even the thought makes him hard. The new owner of the San Francisco Outlaws believes professional athletes are role models and wants them to behave accordingly in public. For his star quarterback that means a PR remake starting with nuking his current image. Julie, known for her spin skills, is hired to the delight of Ty. Whereas she tries to avoid his efforts to sack her, she knows even mentally thinking about his touch leaves her feeling tackled; he has a game plan to win back her heart starting with her trust as he has a chance to make up the one errant pass of his life by blitzkrieging her heart. Even no football fans will appreciate this fun second chance at love sports romance as the two stars are likeable characters. Ty knows he must gain his beloved's trust which is off the board for taking bets as he has to overcome his desertion and ignoring her afterward. Fans will appreciate this fun lighthearted romp with the only quibble being a team named the Outlaws probably belongs in Oakland ( at least at one time that is).

Chris Salvatore
Pocket Books
1416560203, $14.00

Book publicist Gia Felice struggles with keeping in line her horde of supernatural fiction authors. The problem she deals with is that she must keep top secret from the buying human public that her stable consists of writers who not only write novels about the paranormal, they do it from first hand experience. Her clients are mostly vampires or werewolves; though she has an occasional ET to take care of. Gia vows to remain mortal although some of her stable have offered to change her. She has no problem rejecting their advances except for Johnny the vampire whose intense desire makes her reconsider her position of remaining mortal. Meanwhile as he turns up the heat, another vampiric writer Bella demands she find the vampire who turned her and she believes killed her husband. Taking an amusing bite out of the urban paranormal trend of vampires, werewolves and other supernatural species, Chris Salvatore provides an entertaining satire that lampoons the underworld occupation of New York. The story line is fast-paced, filled with action and stars a full blooded heroine and an anemic hero who ironically wants to serve her (thank you Twilight Zone). Fans will enjoy this lighthearted satirizing of the latest publishing rage as Ms. Salvatore slices and dices the urban vampiric society affirming that even the undead want to make it in Manhattan by taking a bite of the Big Apple.

Return to Summerhouse
Jude Deveraux
Pocket Books
9781416509738, $7.99

The three women suffer from recent distress that leaves each feeling the anguish and pain. Following a miscarriage, a depressed Amy soul searchingly looks at her marriage with Stephen and their offspring with sadness. Widow Faith feels guilt for not grieving for her husband Eddie, but for another man Ty whom she last saw sixteen years ago. Artist Zoe is a pariah in her hometown, but an accident has left her with amnesia so is unsure why. Each runs away from their woes ending up as "Jeanne's Crazies" at a summerhouse in Maine. They meet the enigmatic sisters Madame Zoya and Primrose, who have the talent to transport a person back in time to correct a destiny that has gone off kilter. Amy wants to go back to eighteenth century England, but needs hesitant Zoe and Faith to accompany her. She believes they can rectify the past to find happiness in the future. The RETURN TO SUMMERHOUSE is an engaging tale built on the same premise as the first trip to the magical Maine location; if you can go back to correct the past would you and what are the consequences in the current present. The three female guests are fully developed nice people while the siblings continue with their aura of mysticism. Although the trips between present and past and back to the present seem abrupt; readers will enjoy this fine time travel character study of three strangers. Each seeks the same goal of rectifying what they respectively consider a big mistake in their lives but though having nothing similar between them forge forever friendships.

Shadows Return
Lynn Flewelling
Bantam Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780553590081, $7.50, 1-800-726-0600

Alec and Seregil have returned to their home base of Rhiminee, a Skalan city. Both look forward to some R&R as depraved drunken aristocrats. However, both know they are on call by their Queen Phoria who uses the duo as operatives so they can only get intoxicated. Phoria informs her agents she has a job that is of the utmost immediate necessity. She wants them to return to Aurenen, Seregil's hometown that they just returned from, to bring home her Highness'' half-sister. Instead they are abducted and sold separately into slavery. Their hopes of rescue and freedom dim by the moment especially Alec, whose master experiments with his half-human/half-Aurenfaie slave.

The return to the Flewelling universe (see HIDDEN WARRIOR and THE BONE DOLL'S TWIN) is a winner as the two heroes struggle to survive in the alchemists' world in which ethics are similar to that of royal espionage as anyone else is expendable because the pseudo scientists rationalize it for knowledge. Fans will appreciate their joint and separate escapades as Seregil and Alec, especially the latter are in deep trouble in this terrific fantasy thriller that can stand alone, but is enhanced by the other tales in the Skalan saga.

The Magicians and Mrs. Quent
Galen Beckett
9780553589825, $23.00

The Lockwell family went from reasonably well off to poverty when the patriarch, a talented magickian, went insane; a prisoner in his own home. As a result of his decline, the family never hosted parties and the three Miss Lockwells rarely socialize with their former equals. Instead suddenly poor, unmarried oldest daughter Ivy the bookworm leaves her home in Invarel and her beloved sisters Rose and Lily to become a governess at a country estate of Heathcrest.
Being female, Ivy is unable to practice the science of magick as that is against the law. As such, she has turned her interest into the history of magic. When she comes across a frightening ancient tome she turns to Mr. Quent for guidance. Apparently a spell from a long forgotten distant past is slowly but successfully performing magic to take control of the world. This is a fascinating "Regency" fantasy that pays homage to the great female authors of the nineteenth century like Austen and the Bronte sisters. The tale is especially super when the plot focuses on Invarel and the magick malady of Mr. Lockwell with its impact on his family. At Heathcrest on the other hand the story line is filled with much more action as schemes abound but loses some of its freshness as the story crosses to deep into Charlotte Bronte territory. Still Ivy makes for a fine fantasy as she tries to save the world from a deadly spell but magickians and the law ban her from using magick to prevent the disaster from happening.

Last Kiss
Luanne Rice
9780553805123, $25.00

One year may have past since Charlie died in what the New York police determined was a random act; however, his mother singer/songwriter Sheridan still grieves her loss, numbing her pain with Wild Turkey. Joining her in mourning is Charlie's girlfriend Nell who has worn a ragged anklet cloth he gave her 350 plus days ago just prior to the lethal mugging. Both women who adored Charlie visit his gravesite in Hubbard's Point, Connecticut regularly.

Nell has doubts about the NYPD rush to judgment that her beloved was in the wrong place at the wrong time due to a bad luck occurrence. She needs to prove the cops wrong, but understands this is real life not fiction so an amateur is not successfully sleuthing. Instead she hires private investigator former Hubbard's Point native son Gavin Dawson to uncover the truth of what happened to Charlie. Gavin has an extra incentive as his beloved Sheridan tossed him to the curb for his youthful out of control lifestyle; he prays maturity and solving the case will give him a second chance with Sheridan. The return to Hubbard's Point (see THE PERFECT SUMMER, SUMMER'S CHILD and SUMMER OF ROSES) is an exciting investigative romance with a touch of the paranormal and a feel of homecoming (appearances by former stars) although mourning is everywhere. The inquiry raises some intriguing questions related to Charlie's death, but though driven by a personal cause Gavin struggles to affirm premeditated. However, the key to the tale is Sheridan whose grief is so strong that her melancholy seems to be overwhelming Gavin's attempts for a second chance at love. LAST KISS is a deep character driven thriller.

Love in the Time of Fridges
Tim Scott
9780553384413, $12.00

After his beloved Abigail died, ex police officer Huckleberry Lindberg left New Seattle and worked in Memory Print Store where he took pictures of other people's memories. Now he is on his way home where the highway sign reads "Welcome! New Seattle Welcomes Visitors … See Exclusions". The West Coast of America is run by the Health and Safety Department. He shares a drongle with a woman he does not know when the cops stop him for a routine check. When they learn who he is, they decide to do a mind hack and include the woman Nena too. Huck gets loose and rescues Nena who hides secrets from him. They separate, but she tells him to meet her at the Halcyon Hotel. There he finds four talking Fridges and a dryer. When Nena arrives, the clerk calls the cops on them. The Fridges and dryer escape, but Nena tells him if something happens to her he is to save the little Fridge because inside is the means to saving New Seattle. This is classified as a sci fi thriller, but it is more a tongue and cheek satire of government using security to control everyone. The tale is filled with humor often biting especially when the Fridges and Dryer sing out of tune and exchange barbs. Underneath all the jocularity ironically is a serious post 9/11message that to live free means taking risks even when a person wants to run from bad memories to hide inside a secure cocoon.

Soul of Fire
Sarah A. Hoyt
9780553589672, $6.99

Her parents make Sofie Warington return from England to her home in India where she is to marry Raj Ajith of the Tiger Realm; he'll accept as her dowry a flawed ruby. British noble Peter Farewell is banished from his country when his father realized that he is a were-dragon; shape-shifters are killed in England because Queen Victoria believes they are abominations. Peter seeks the Soul of Fire ruby, the stone used by Charlemagne to bind all magic in Europe to him and his descendants. Nigel has its twin the Heart of Light; Peter plans to give the ruby to Nigel once he finds it. Nigel will then take it back to its rightful place in Africa. He knows the cost of failure is the world will continue to split apart until it destroys itself. While flying, Peter sees Sofie falling from her balcony as she escapes from her parents and her fiance who demand she marry now. When Peter reveals his identity to her, she feels safe with him although the Tigers pursue them to capture her and the ruby; which is with her servant; they want the stone, the woman, and the magic bound to India in order to toss the British out; whereas Peter believes if the Tigers succeed, the world will end. SOUL OF FIRE, the companion piece to THE HEART OF LIGHT is a wonderful urban fantasy on an alternate earth where magic works and shapeshifters exist. In India shapeshifters are accepted while in England they are hunted. Thus Peter is tormented as his native land wants him dead and a nation that would accept his duality would let him live if he gave up his beloved and the ruby. Fans will appreciate his dilemma as exile is not what he covets until he meets his Sofie, who gives him the personal reason to complete his quest.

Monkey See, Monkey Die
Cynthia Baxter
9780553590371, $6.99

Veterinarian Jessica Popper uses a mobile van to bring her practice to her patients. Currently she is snuggled in bed with her fiance Nick Burby when the phone rings early in the morning. Veterinarian Erin Walsh, whom she has not seen in five years, asks to meet Jess that morning; the implication to Jess is Erin is deeply troubled and afraid. Erin fails to arrive at their meeting point. Later that same day, Jess learns that Erin was murdered; strangled to death with scorpion venom in her system. When Jess makes a condolence call to Erin's husband Ben, the vet is stunned to see that her late schoolmate lived in a tasteless McMansion. Ben has made a fortune as partner to Donald Drayton in a pet store chain Pet Empawrium. Jess, unable to resist being Jess, investigates only to find several people with motives to want Erin dead including Ben. Pet lovers and amateur sleuth fans will enjoy MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DIE due to the antics of the humanistic pets; ironically when the killer traps Jess, her would be rescuer is four legged. With the wedding four weeks away, Jess suffers panic attacks over holy matrimony but not over deadly sleuthing. Fans will wonder whether the commitment phobic heroine will say I do.

Shades of Dark
Linnea Sinclair
9780553589658, $6.99

Owner of the freighter Borun Karn, Gabriel Sullivan is a rare, perhaps unique human who has the telepathic telekinetic powers of kyi-ragiril normally seen in the Stolorth species. He has hid his skills from his family and his crew although some on board know what he can do including the blind Stolorth Ren and Sully's beloved former Fleet Commander Captain Chasidah Bergren, former wife of Admiral Philip Guthrie. The sector is currently dangerous as several factions vie for the throne currently owned by the insane incompetent Emperor Prewitt. Sully hopes to defuse one of these contenders, Darius Tage who along with Sully's cousin Hayden Burke is creating jukor monsters built from the Takus race. They use these monsters to kill people and blame the Fleet; Sully wants to end this terrorism so they travel towards Narfiel where they are to meet Del who has information on the last jukor lab. However, they learn that Chas' brother Thad who knows about Sully's skill has been charged with conspiracy against the empire. They fear he will inform the galaxy that Sully is a mind fucker, which will lead to his crew hating him and everyone wanting him dead. Their adventures have just twisted as everyone wants them at a time when the galactic empire teeters while her ex Imperial Fleet Admiral Philip Guthrie joins them as outlaws and Del turns out to be a royal seductive Kyi-Ragkiril mentor. This is a strong science fiction thriller in which the various species on board, in space, and planet-side seem genuine. Also critical is the mental power of the kyi-regkiral come across as real, but perhaps too powerful. The romantic subplot between Sully and Chas provides a strong key element to the overall thriller in space theme. Readers will appreciate this visit to the wonderful Sinclair galaxy.

The Final Sacrament
Patricia Bray
9780553588781, $6.99

Brother Nikos leader of The Learned Brethren arranged for a spell to transfer dying monk Josan's soul into the body of the heir apparent to the Ikarian Empire Prince Lucius. The spell failed when a decade after it was cast, the soul of Lucius returned to his body. Both inhabit the body of the Lucius body and they are both now the emperor. Josan and Lucius may share a body, but they are totally opposite in personalities. The former focuses on just rule of the empire; the latter chooses to ignore responsibility to return to his playboy prince days. Josan concludes the relationship must end with Lucius alone in the body; he starts traveling to Xandropal where the Learned Brethren possess the largest book collection in the Empire. Sendat spy Lady Ysobel knows who he is, but both change their plans when what look like Ikarian ships attack Federation vessels; the assault armada are from Vidrun disguised as Ikarians. Vidrun wants their neighbors at war with each other so they as "neutral" can become the victors. In Ikaria, civil war is imminent as two adversaries want the emperor declared dead. THE FINAL SACRAMENT, the final book in the Ikarian Empire trilogy (see THE SEA CHANGE and THE FIRST BETRAYAL), is a character driven epic that can be read alone. However it behooves newcomers to obtain the previous tales to better understand what led to Josan's current predicament. The action is somewhat limited, as the heart of this entry is Josan a scholar who has become a compassionate ruler caring for his people. Lucius compares unfavorably as he rightfully angry as he lost his body for a decade and now shares what is rightfully his. Josan gives up his goal to right the wrong to Lucius because of a greater need than either of their lives or souls. His willingness to sacrifice himself turns Lady Ysobel from enemy to admirer as she looks at her soul and feels inadequate. Readers who appreciate a deep look at people in charge will relish this entry in a strong saga.

D.M. Cornish
c/o G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399246395, $19.99, 1-800-847-5515

In Winstermill, Lamplighter trainees are learning on the job their prime duties of lighting and dousing when Master Rossamund's group comes across bogles attacking a carriage of females. They ally with the women to defeat the bogles, but Rossamund who observed the battle as he held the lamp-lighting alchemy accessories also noticed that one of the coach occupants could not control her talent; that one Threnody tells him she wants to become a lamplighter and she joins his troupe of rookies. Rossamund is kind to the acrimonious temperamental Threnody, and his patience with her crankiness slowly turns Threnody around. A monster attacks people just outside Wintersmill; Rossamund and Threnody team up to battle the dark one enabling those still there to flee. He recognizes the odor of the "dark trades" behind this assault and other subsequent vicious attacks. The Lamplighter Marshal is accused of failing at his duty and shockingly removed from office, which angers his subordinates who trust him as they have seen him fight monsters; worse the incompetent pretentious but never get dirty Master of Clerks Podious and his sycophant surgeon Swill take over the Lamplighter legion. They demote Rossamund to novice and exile him to a dangerous isolated outpost; having accused him of lying about a fight against a monster; Threnody accompanies him. Bogles attack their new outpost with the duo as the only survivors which subject them to an official inquiry. The second Monster Blood Tattoo epic fantasy (see FOUNDLING) is a superb complex thriller starring a strong case starting with Rossamund and Threnody. The story line is fast-paced and the etchings throughout enhance the saga. Also adding depth is the glossary that packs additional information about the world of Cornish; set aside some time as this addition to the first novel is worth reading. The support cast is solid, but the tale belongs to the heroic Rossamund and his friend-student Threnody, as they are at the epicenter battling against the increase dark trade monster activity. This is a fascinating strong entry in a wonderfully refreshing series.

Rough Justice
Jack Higgins
9780399155130, $25.95

On the surface Harry Miller is an ordinary person; an MP who is in realty the counterpart to Blake Johnson, the American President's top security man. Blake runs the black ops group the Basement, a unit that works outside the law to administer justice and protect the country and its people. Blake and Harry met in Banu, Kosovo; each was there to inspect the country's leaders and to prevent a Russian Officer Igor Zorin from torching a mosque that would have reignited the fighting. President Putin and his right hand man Ivan Volkov decide Miller should be taken out and assign the mysterious the Broker, who has never been seen, to contact former IPPI agent Michael Quin. Quinn contacts one of his agents to take out the MP. Miller knows he is under surveillance and being stalked, but takes out the contact killer. He also insures that a plutonium shipment by boat is carefully monitored and tracked all the way. Putin knows that Miller with Major Ferguson's's people were responsible (the British version of the Basement) and wants him dead. The plan works only the wrong person dies; Miller with Ferguson's help will not rest until all those involved in the assassination plot are dead. Suspense grandmaster Jack Higgins writes another fascinating tense thriller that is loaded with action. Yet with all the non--stop action, the story line also contains the political realties of the world today with insight into Muslim fundamentalists, Russia's efforts to return to superpower status, the NATO response, and the fragile peace in several places like Northern Ireland. However, as always is the case in a Mr. Higgins' thriller, his key characters seem real even when they perform seemingly surreal stunts; and yes cold blooded killer Sean Dillon is in the middle of the maelstrom.

Foreign Body
Robin Cook
9780399155024, $25.95

At the Queen Victoria Hospital in New Delhi, India, nurse Veena Chandra enters the room of sixty-four year old American medical tourist Maria Hernandez, who came here for a hip replacement as the costs are much less than in New York including travel expense. Veena injects a poison killing the woman as part of a deal she made to keep her mom and sisters safe from her abusive father. Afterward, Veena visits Nurses International Chief Cal Morgan to tell him she did the deed, but the patient thanked her before dying. Veena shocks Cal by having sex with him; aft erward saying she just wanted to prove her father wrong about someone knowing about her father's molestation secret and wanting her before she commits suicide. UCLA medical student Jennifer Hernandez is at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center when CNN reports the death of a Marisa Hernandez of Queens. She calls her malingering dad who says Maria is in India having a hip replacement. Later that day she confirms her beloved grandma died in India. Knowing her dad would use his bad back as an excuse; Jennifer travels to India to bring her beloved grandma home. However, there she begins to learn of other odd deaths of medical tourists; she calls her mentor New York City medical examiner Dr. Laurie Montgomery who along with her spouse Dr. Jack Stapleton come to New Delhi only to learn there is something evil going on at modern Queen Victoria Hospital and if they are not careful they will be the next to die. This fast-paced medical thriller comes from the headlines as Americans going to India for medical procedures has become a major "tourist" industry. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action while also slapping at the system of high cost of non health care in America. Although why the Astoria sexagenarian had to be murdered is explained late leaving a gap for too long, Robin Cook provides a powerful look at the newest health trend; going overseas for operations and cures.

Skeleton Lake
Mike Doogan
9780399154928, $25.95

Nik Kane was an Anchorage police detective until he was convicted of a crime and spent seven years in prison. When he was exonerated he took a job as a security firm investigator. On his latest case, he was shot and almost died; his son, who was pursuing the same murderer, did die. Nik's wife wants nothing to do with him; so his sister the nun allows him to stay with her while he recuperates. While healing, Nik flashes back to his youth. In 1967 his father walked out and never came back; his mother never told him why. He thinks of 1985 when he was a rookie and someone assassinated tough police officer Danny Shirtleff with two bullets to his head near Skeleton Lake. Nik and his partner Jackie Dee never learned why Danny was uncover by a make out place; the case went cold without the slightest suspect surfacing. To pass time while recovering, Nik goes over the files he has from the Shirtleff murder.

The story line skips around between the three dates with each representing something critical that happened to Nik; these actually represent three storylines that merge brilliantly though it is somewhat confusing into a strong character driven tale. Readers will learn more about Nik's past that motivates him in the present as Mike Doogan provides a strong shrewd tale that his fans will appreciate.

The King's Gold
Arturo Perez-Reverte
9780399155109, $24.95

In 1626 Seville, everyone who is anyone waits for the annual treasure ships to begin to arrive at the port. Although a festive feel hangs all over the city as the vessels represent how powerful Spain is and how proud the Spaniards are of their nation, some of the royal inner sanction will steal for their personal use; others will challenge their actions trying to insure the booty makes it into the treasury. In that gala atmosphere, a bone weary Captain Diego Alatriste and his associate Inigo Balboa arrive exhausted from a recent siege (see THE SUN OVER BREDA). Exhausted they need money as living in the city when the treasure ships arrive is exorbitant; the merchants and shop owners charge two arms and two legs for everything. However when King Phillip IV, concerned with looting when the nation needs the treasury to finance its world domination especially in the Americas, orders Alatriste to seize a cache of gold to place in the royal coffers. Hiring street thugs, Alatriste and his dirty dozen or so masquerade as pirates as they invade the gold ship. There they find waiting is Alatriste's long time enemy Gualterio Malatesta and a horde of mercenaries who beat them to the vessel. This seventeenth century swashbuckler is an excellent action-packed thriller in which the escapades keep on coming yet the Captain, his prime antagonist and several other key players come across as fully developed. The story line is fast-paced yet provides a fascinating look at Spain at the height of its power as this is the country's Golden Age and for us fans of this superb series a rebirth of the Dumas golden age.

Moscow Rules
Daniel Silva
9780399155017, $26.95

Art restorer Alessio Vianelli also known in some secretive circles as Israeli master-spy Gabriel Allon is on his honeymoon with his second wife Chiara in Umbria when his friend and undercover associate Uzi Navot meets with him at an Assisi, Italy restaurant. Uzi, a senior official for the Israel secret intelligence service, informs Gabriel that Russian arms dealer Ivan Kharkov is selling weapons to al-Qaeda. The assumption is obvious that a planned major terrorist attack is forthcoming, but none of the western espionage agents knows which cell or where. Gabriel insists on investigating. The tip came from inside Moscow as Ivan's wife Elena warned the west. Gabriel believes she is the only avenue to who specifically her spouse is selling the weapons to; she must be recruited in order for her to obtain Kharkov's ledger sheet. Unknown to Gabriel and his associates is that the former Russian Colonel and his associates have grandiose schemes to return Russia to its Soviet Empire glory days and thanks to western, Chinese, and Indian thirst for oil, money is no longer an obstacle. The Allon counterespionage series is one of the best spy thriller sagas on the market today; however his latest escapades in Moscow is fast-paced, but lacks the moral underpinnings that make the enemy seem human. Perhaps it is because MOSCOW RULES follows the fantastic THE SECRET SERVANT, which placed the spy thriller quality bar at stratospheric levels especially with the extraordinary explanation on how a person metamorphosis into a terrorist. In spite a shaky ending, Daniel Silva's tale showcases a different no longer bleak Moscow in which oil money and America's economic woes has made many think they can revisit and win the Cold War especially influential ruthless former military colonels.

Oh Baby!
Judy Baer
Steeple Hill
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373786190, $6.99,

In the Twin Cities, doula birthing coach Molly Cassidy is in high demand by pregnant women and their mates. Most will say it is because of her caring personality that makes her a popular health provider. Obstetrician Dr. Clay Reynolds has just moved to town three months ago from California and already has a strong practice at the Bradshaw medical Center. However, when he hears all the females and many of the men swear by Molly, he is outraged. He does not believe a non-medically trained person should be offering assistance to women. Clay admits to himself he is attracted to Molly, who shares his feelings. However, their dispute over the role of a doula coaching pregnant women threatens to end their relationship before it begins. This is an engaging contemporary romance that focuses on two people adamantly disagreeing over the merits of a doula birth coach. The story line is fun to follow, but perhaps a bit too long as the prime debate loses some of its argumentative freshness to redundancy. Still with two fully developed caring people falling in love while arguing health care advice provided by a non-professional makes for an interesting look at what is acceptable health care at a time when costs are skyrocketing and American's infant mortality rate is worse than that of Cuba.

Slightly Suburban
Wendy Markham
Red Dress Ink
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373895618, $13.95,

No longer just SLIGHTLY MARRIED Tracey and Jack are happy together in New York City, albeit in a tiny apartment. However, Tracey feels they would have a nicer lifestyle if they left the Big Apple for a somewhat SLIGHTLY SUBURBAN locale especially since that would mean coming home to Jack and not his best buddy Mitch who seems to be more of a fixture in their lives then they are. Although Jack has doubts, he reluctantly agrees to their moving to Westchester County. However, after mortgaging a fixer-upper, Tracey loses her copyrighting job at Blair Barnett Advertising so she stays home more. Once she begins to meet the suburban mommas, she finds herself not slightly but totally bored and wonders if she made an error as wants back to Manhattan. Continuing her "Slightly" chick lit Tracey and Jack saga, Wendy Markham provides a refreshing tale in which grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Tracey is at her best as she moans, groans and laments city life and then suburban life. Any moment readers will expect her to sing the theme song to Green Acres although Westchester County is a very urbanized suburb. Fans will appreciate her coping not always well with issues at work, unemployment, family, and just fitting in as Ms. Markham provides an engaging look at an urbanite struggling with adjusting to life in the burbs.

Jack with a Twist
Brenda Janowitz
Red Dress Ink
9780373895557, $13.95

Yesterday the world looked great to Manhattan lawyer Brooke Miller. She and her fiance following their Reese's Peanut Butter Cup romance were planning a wedding and her law firm has given her the first major case for her to represent in court. Today the world is bleak as the opposing lawyer in court is Jack; not any Jack, but the Jack she knows as fiance. Worse from the onset he makes it clear his client comes before his future wife at least in court. Jack pulls tricks, which Brooke trumps with her own dirty tricks, which Jack trumps in turn. Their families take obvious sides in a New York version of the Hatfields and McCoys; as their legal dispute spills into the streets via the media. Each wonders whether the other's courtroom antics will show up in the bedroom; as the engagement becomes shaky. This entertaining often amusing chick lit legal thriller is fun to follow as Jack and Brooke take turns in their courtroom cold war that shows signs of heating up in the bedroom. The story line is fast-paced; mostly seen through the heroine's perspective as she acts and reacts to her fiance's stunts with ruses of her own. Offbeat, JACK WITH A TWIST is a humorous contemporary romance in which Brooke (and to a lesser degree Jack) must decide how far she goes before she has gone too far.

Stop Me
Brenda Novak
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778324607, $6.99,

In a Sacramento mall, Jasmine "Jaz" Stratford opens a package and almost faints in shock when she sees what is inside it, the bracelet. She thinks back to sixteen years ago to Cleveland when she was twelve and made the bracelet as a birthday present to her eight years old sister Kimberly before the bearded tall man too her away. Kimberly was never found and her case went cold. Now the package postmarked from New Orleans also contains a strange note written in blood: "STOP ME". Jaz heads to New Orleans where she meets Romain Fornier, who four years ago killed the murderer of his then ten years old daughter. However Jaz believes, Romain did not kill his child's murderer and that same person who kidnapped Kimberly years ago is still free, taunting and taking children. Although he doubts her theory that the monster lives Romain joins Jaz as they search to stop a serial pedophile killer. The second Last Stand tale (see TRUST ME) is a dark thriller that keeps the romantic subplot for the most part in the background. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the package is opened and never slows down as Jaz and Romain work one clue at a time. The epilogue is perfect as it wraps up with the right touch to a grim realism. Readers will appreciate this deep dark tale in which love and a bit of jocularity are the only tiny spots of light in a gloomy environs.

3 Men and a Body
Stephanie Bond
9780778326076, $13.95

Stressed to the max due to the three men in her life and her being placed on work suspension giving her time to think about testosterone overload, Carlotta Wren needs getaway time from the three men who want in her life. She decides to flee from her former fiancee Peter Ashford who dumped her a decade ago (see BODY MOVERS) and Atlanta Police Detective Jack Terry who accused her of murder (see BODY MOVERS) and later both thought she was dead (see 2 BODIES FOR THE PRICE OF ONE); as to the latter even her younger brother Wesley and his boss Cooper Craft believed she was murdered. When Cooper asks her to accompany him to Florida to pick up the corpse of heiress Kiki Deerling, she agrees. Besides escaping from Atlanta and the three men in her life, she can decide whether to allow Copper to join the Carlotta sweepstake. Besides she has heard her parents, who escaped prosecution by deserting their children ten yeas ago have been seen in Florida; she wants to confront the pair. However, even before they leave Atlanta, things turn chaotic when Wesley stows away in Cooper's car to avoid a loan shark, who wants to break his knuckles; Florida proves worse as it seems everyone wants to take Kiki's body and Carlotta being hurt is insignificant to the celebrity stalking community. The latest Body Mover mystery is an amusing satirical tale that skewers the obsession people have with the famous; in this case even a dead semi-celebrity. The story line is fast-paced using hyperbole to provide the audience with a wacky funny Florida frolic. Although the plot is limited, the cast is strong; as with the previous madcap entries it is Carlotta and her merry men plus vicious star hunters who make this an entertaining read.

The Stolen
Jason Pinter
9780778325727, $7.99

Six months has passed since New York Legal Aid attorney Amanda Davies ended her relationship with New York Gazette reporter Henry Parker because he chose work over her. Since getting a job on the newspaper, his life turned hectic and dangerous but not just for him; anyone close to him including Amanda (see THE MARK). However, the investigative reporter puts his personal life on hold again when he is given an incredible exclusive. Five years ago, then six year old Daniel Linwood was kidnapped; the case went cold until now. Suddenly eleven years old Daniel has come home. He remembers nothing as to where he has been, what happened to him, or even how he ended up back at his family's house. Henry interviews the child, but learns nothing about the mystery from the kid. He and Amanda soon learn that other children have been abducted and ultimately returned. As they dig deeper, an unknown adversary is willing to kill the nosy journalist and his former girlfriend to prevent the truth from surfacing. The latest Henry Parker investigative tale is an exciting whodunit as the hero and his ex girlfriend team up on the case. Henry is terrific as his inquiries leave him confused with more unanswered questions; his first hand account enhances his bewilderment and that of the audience as the motive is just out of reach. However, it is his sort of schizoid personality that makes him a superb character as he is a classic New York City cynic on the job and a closet romantic in his home. Fans will appreciate this entertaining suspense thriller with the right touch of sexual tension to augment a fine read.

Cold Case
Kate Wilhelm
9780778325284, $24.95

Over two decades ago in Eugene, Oregon, someone murdered teenager Jill Storey. The police and much of the small town believed that either teens David Etheridge or Robert McCrutchen killed her. However, no evidence was found and the case went cold. Twenty-two years later, David an author returns to his hometown and ends up staying with Robert who is a senator and his wife. Soon afterward, someone murders Robert. The police once again suspect David, believing they have motive, means and definitely opportunity. He, knowing that he is a person of interest, hires attorney Barbara Holloway to represent him. She and her team begin to investigate the two homicides with each clue making the case stronger against her client. The latest Holloway investigative thriller is an enjoyable regional whodunit starring an eccentric Oregonian cast, but not quite as powerful as most of the previous tales (see SLEIGHT OF HAND and A WRONGFUL DEATH). With humor to somewhat abating the tension, fans will appreciate Barbara's efforts to find proof that someone else committed the recent homicide although she and the audience begin to believe David is guilty until a beating occurs. Her digging means no time to mount a defense and takes away from the overall story line as she gets nowhere for much of the novel. Still COLD CASE is a fine Holloway tale.

Cypress Nights
Stella Cameron
9780778325406, $24.95

The residents of Toussaint, Louisiana are rightfully upset and frightened to learn someone was murdered in St. Cecil's Church. Soon afterward the fear factor turns stratospheric, as more people die. The divided community knows the homicides are connected to the new school and teacher Bleu Labeau. Over the edge over the deaths, Bleu also realizes she must be the target too of this serial killer. However, it is her feelings for her self anointed protector Dr. Roche Savage that frightens her most and not just because she mistrusts herself when it comes to men; she has learned that everyone who has been killed was his patient. Fans will enjoy the return to Toussaint (see A MARKED MAN and A GRAVE MISTAKE) with this fast-paced serial killer thriller. The key to CYPRESS NIGHTS is the lead couple as she has to decide whether to trust her heart or the circumstantial evidence; a wrong choice by Bleu probably means death. However, Stella Cameron never takes her eyes off the ball as she uses the romantic subplot as support to the prime murder mystery. Ms. Cameron's fans will enjoy the steamy nights in the bayou where either love or murder occur.

Watch Me
Brenda Novak
9780778325260, $6.99

A dozen years ago in Whiterock, Tennessee teenagers Sheridan Kohl and Jason Wyatt were parked when someone shot both of them. She survived but he died while the culprit was not caught. Most townsfolk including Jason's dad believe the lad's stepbrother Cain Granger got away with murder. That tragedy shaped Sheridan's life as she became a dedicated caseworker for The Last Stand, a firm that helps crime victims. When she learns that the rifle used to kill Jason has been found after twelve years, Sheridan reluctantly returns home as the cold case suddenly turns hot. However, her welcome home turns to be someone beats her severely enough that the predator left her for dead. Cain saves her life and helps her heal; taking leave from his job. Attracted to each other, Cain and Sheridan team up to try to uncover the real killer of Jason before the culprit kills Sheridan. The third Last Stand thriller (see STOP ME and TRUST ME) is a superb regional whodunit starring a powerful cast especially the lead duet. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Sheridan decides to return to her Eastern Tennessee hometown in hopes of real closure by having the killer finally caught. Readers will appreciate Sheridan's Last Stand as she risks her life to be able to truly close that tragic chapter of her life and if she survives that need perhaps move on with her hero Cain.

Sister's Choice
Emilie Richards
9780778325659, $24.95

For years thanks to unhealthy childhoods and an age gap of just under a decade, sisters Jamie Dunkirk and Kendra Taylor never bonded until recently. They have become the sisters they always wanted to be, but feared becoming. Jamie and her two young daughters, Hannah and Alison, even move into a cabin on property owned by Kendra and her husband Isaac in the Shenandoah Valley. Jamie, a graduate architect student, decides to repay Kendra's kindness by drafting up the plans for the dream house her sister and Isaac desire. Looking forward to being an aunt, she also offers herself as a surrogate mother so that the dream house contains the child her sis and husband so desperately want but never had. However, builder Cash Rosslyn makes Jamie reconsider part two as she is falling in love. This is an engaging family drama starring fully developed protagonists. The tension in the tale occurs when Cash enters the lives of the three Dunkirk females as each has differing opinions re his being part of their family dynamics. Emilie Richard's provides an engaging contemporary tale of various types of relationship loves, but especially that between sisters.

Michelle Gagnon
9780778325390, $6.99

FBI agent Kelly Jones is looking forward to her first vacation in years. However the workaholic is asked by Special Agent in Charge Gerald McLarty to delay her leave when skeletal remains are found on the Appalachian Trail. She heads to the Berkshires where more corpses have surfaced. Because the bodies are spread around with many jurisdictions involved, a battling taskforce filled with plenty of local yokels, state, county and Feds is created. However as she ignores the locals, Kelly begins to piece together the common thread between the victims; all are young and gay. The other thing obvious is the serial killer has been murdering men for years and still is active. Private security chief Jake Riley arrives to help his beloved Kelly on the investigation, but she knows the hunk is the one distraction she needs to avoid as she TUNNELS through a nasty serial killer case in which the cops are roadblocks. The return of FBI Agent Kelly Jones (see THE TUNNELS) MAKES FOR AN EXHILARATING POLICE PROCEDURAL as she struggles with the petty jealousies of the task force members who all want glory and know who they work for; which is not her. The storyline is fast-paced and filled with plenty of non-stop action as Kelly and company work the case. The support cast, especially the prime task force members, seems genuine and Jake adds to the pressure on the heroine; while the killer is more shadowy, which embellishes the overall effect. Michelle Gagnon provides an entertaining serial killer thriller.

Dark Matter
Cameron Cruise
9780778325031, $6.99

Westminster, California Police Detectives Stephen "Seven" Bushard and Erika Cabra investigate the murder of a teenage girl found by a triathlete in the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve near Huntington Beach. Seven thinks how he just recently taken his nephew fishing in this pristine locale defiled by a killer who probably raped the girl. Soon after they begin their inquiry, FBI agent Carin Barnes informs them that their victim probably is not the first murder by this perp; two other deaths are most likely from the same culprit. The clues take Seven and Erika to psychic artist Gia Moon and her daughter Stella; both are having haunting dark visions. Meanwhile Stella tries to help her new friend from beyond with some issues only to become the focus of a serial killer. In trying to help the boy she's seeing, Stella places herself squarely in harm's way. The paranormal police procedural returns the good guys from THE COLLECTOR in an exciting cat and mouse investigation. The villain in many ways in a few appearances steals the show as he will frighten the audience with his logical insanity. Fans of dark investigative thrillers with solid psychic and psycho support will appreciate this fast-paced tale.

The White Mary
Kira Salak
c/o Henry Holt & Company
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 400, New York, NY 10010-7725
978085088472, $25.00, 1-888-330-8477

Globetrotting reporter Marika Vecera adored renowned war correspondent Robert Lewis, who has reported on some of the most heinous genocides humanity has done. Thus she has problems accepting the repot that her hero committed suicide as that is so out of character for a man who would courageously go to the next hot spot to expose atrocities. When Marika reads a letter from a missionary she holds out hope that Robert is alive somewhere in remote Papua, New Guinea though she wonders why he is there. She decides to learn the truth as to whether he lives and if so why New Guinea. Marika's quest is well written and harrowing as she deals with horrific third world conditions including deadly sanitation, unclean water, disease, torture that even Cheney could not redefine otherwise and ceremonial rites of passage murders. However, though obviously a thriller, the insightful look at Marika as she witnesses first hand the horrendous gruesome mistreatment of humans towards other humans is horrific. To mentally survive she has to go numb because if she personalizes the incidents she sees and been embroiled in she would break down due to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Readers will marvel as she keeps a flicker of hope that mankind will learn and redeem itself even as she trots off to the next atrocity.

Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza
9780805079609, $24.00

In Copacabana, Brazil, Detective Welber calls 12th Precinct Chief Inspector Espinosa to inform him an apparent homeless beggar with one leg was shot close up in the heart at the end of an affluent cul-de-sac. Espinosa goes to look at the corpse on Sao Joao Hill, but the murder makes no sense as there seems to be no motive to rob an indigent man incapable it appears to cause any harm with no witnesses since it occurred during a heavy downpour at night. Welber and Inspector Ramiro wonder why such an efficient professional hit on a helpless beggar timed to occur during THE SILENCE OF THE RAIN. Still Espinosa refuses drop the case because three decades ago when he was thirteen he nicknamed this place Otto Street; the same spot where the murder of "Skinny" as they call the victim occurred. After talking to the night doorman of a nearby complex who found the body, Espinosa hones in on wealthy dinner guests who dined near the murder scene. He knows they are hiding something so he with his two associates exposes their cover-ups, but makes no progress on the homicide even as Espinosa knows the victim is not important to the brass to waste any more manpower on. When another more renowned homicide occurs, Espinoza believes there is a tie to Skinny, but even the Chief inspector concedes both murders seem to lack motives or witnesses. BLACKOUT is a superb Brazilian police procedural, in which through Espinosa's dogged PURSUIT, readers obtain an insightful look through a WINDOW IN COPACABANA. The story line is terrific as the Chief Inspector uncovers clues that are either unrelated to his case or muddle the inquiry. Fans of the series will relish this strong entry as Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza continues to provide some the of the sub-genre's best whodunits.

The Black Tower
Louis Bayard
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061687310, $24.95, 1-800-242-7737

In 1818 Paris, Surete Detective Eugene Francois Vidocq investigates the murder of Monsieur Chretien Leblanc found dead on the street. Searching the victim's pocket, Vidocq finds a note inside with the name and address of Professor Hector Charpentier of Ecole de Medecine. The sleuth visits Hector to ask why Leblanc wanted to see him. The Doctor offers nothing insisting he does not know the victim and why he needed to see him; or anything in his own defense as an alibi as he has no family and few friends although he swears he is innocent. As Vidocq keeps digging deeper into the murder, he begins to find a strange thread that goes back to the Revolution. Somehow the deceased is tied back to Prince Louis-Charles, the heir to the French throne, who was allegedly executed in THE BLACK TOWER in Thermidor Year II; or did the Lost Dauphin, who would have been King Louis XVII with the current Bourbon Restoration, somehow survive and is one of these royal pretenders. In some ways THE BLACK TOWER is a historical fiction novel that delves into whether any of the seemingly scoundrels claiming the throne could be the Lost Dolphin who allegedly was executed as a ten year old child. The murder mystery ties back to the heir, but also takes a back seat to 1818 France as the Bourbons are back on the throne following the defeat of Napoleon. Vidocq is a terrific sleuth (he is a real person who created the Surete) as his homicide investigation in which Charpentier is the prime suspect turns into much more in Louis Bayard's superb early nineteenth century French thriller.

It Only Takes a Moment
Mary Jane Clark
9780061286094, $24.95

In Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, successful TV host of KEY to America, widow Eliza Blake loves her seven year old daughter Janie and trusts her Guatemalan housekeeper Carmen Garcia. However, after Janie goes off to day camp, a man masquerading as Popeye and a woman as Olive Oyl invade the Blake home; they inform a distraught Mrs. Garcia that they will harm the child if she fails to obey their demands. Wired, Mrs. Garcia signs out Janie from Camp Musquapsink, but leaves a note "Call Police" on the log. When Eliza comes home she is surprised that her housekeeper is not there. Soon she becomes worried and calls the police. Because of who she is the FBI send Agent Barbara Gephart to head the investigation in which the prime suspect is Mrs. Garcia, but also focus on crazy fan mail and sex offenders. Her Sunrise Suspense Society cronies decide to activate while a seemingly successful psychic Stephanie Quick offers her services. As each hour ticks away, the chances of saving her daughter slips away exponentially. The KEY to the latest "musical" New Jersey thriller (see WHEN DAY BREAKS, DANCING IN THE DARK, DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET and NOWHERE TO RUN) is Eliza as readers will feel her fear and pain. The story line is fast-paced, but clearly character driven by the beleaguered mother, the kidnappers and the snatched pair. The tension mounts as each minute and page that passes makes it unlikely Janie will be found alive while parents will ponder the apropos title that IT ONLY TAKES A MINUTE to have one's life nuked. Fans will appreciate this strong abduction thriller with a stunning final denouement.

Hit and Run
Lawrence Block
0060840900, $24.95

Hit man John Keller is in Des Moines on what he had decided will be his last job; he does not need the money so he figures it is time to retire. With his tongs and the Scott's stamp catalogue with him, John inspects a Norway Posthorn issue he needs for his collection and discusses Sweden with the dealer. However, while they negotiate, CNN shows the assassination of charismatic Ohio Governor Longford killed in Iowa. Suddenly the country is looking for Keller. He flees Iowa heading for his apartment in New York City and to his assistant in White Plains. When he arrives in Manhattan, he finds his stamp collection stolen and the real killer stalking him to silence him permanently. Keller travels to New Orleans where he rescues Julia Roussard from a rapist. They are attracted to one another, but John knows he must first prove his innocence and take out the guy who framed him, or spend his remaining life on the run. This is an exhilarating Hit Man thriller as Keller becomes the target of law enforcement when he is set up to take the fall of a high visible political assassination. The story line is fast-paced but filled with humor as Keller had been thinking retirement, but has a personal clean up to take care of. Fans will enjoy this strong thriller as the heat is on Keller.

Where Memories Lie
Deborah Crombie
9780061287510, $24.95

David and Erika Rosenthal escaped from Nazi Germany during WWII. They settled in London where she became a professor and he a philosopher until he was murdered in 1952 while investigating neo Nazi sympathizers; his homicide remains an unsolved cold case. Erika is stunned when family friend Henri Durrell shows her a diamond brooch in a Harrowby's auction catalogue because they recognize the name and the picture as hers, lost, probably stolen, years ago. Erika asks her friend Police Inspector Gemma James to investigate; Gemma and her Scotland Yard partner Duncan Kincaid activate the cold case to investigate how the brooch got to the auction house. However the case is already odd as auction house clerk Kristin Cahill died in a mysterious hit and run. Soon others involved in the sale also die as the cops know WWII, 1952, and the present tie together but struggle with finding the culprit anyway. This is an exciting English police procedural filled with growing tension from the moment a distraught Erika calls Gemma. The story line is fast-paced even when the plot flashbacks to 1952 focusing on David's inquiries into Neo-Nazis. Sub-genre fans will appreciate this strong tale as Deborah Crombie provides a wonderful investigative thriller.

Queen of Babble Gets Hitched
Meg Cabot
006085202X, $22.95

Having broken up with her boyfriend Luke, Lizzie Nichols was spending time with his best friend Chaz. However, Luke misses his Lizzie so he comes to New York to see her. To her shock he places an engagement ring on her finger. Perhaps it is the jolt of the diamonds on her finger, but she accepts though she remains attracted to Chaz.

Chaz does not want to lose his Lizzie. He pleads with her that Luke is an egomaniac who wants her because he had lost her and that he could never love her like he does. Feeling pulled in two directions as Chaz wants to marry her and remain in New York to teach; Luke wants to marry her and return with her to Paris as a banker. Either city would do for the wannabe designer, but right now a tale of two cities is giving Lizzie hives. The lasts Queen of babble tale (see QUEEN OF BABBLE and QUEEN OF BABBLE IN THE BIG CITY) is a fresh entry as Lizzie feels like the rope in a tug of war between two supposed best friends who trash the other to her. The amusing story line captures the essences of the three Yuppies through their humorous intelligent repartee. Fans of the series will appreciate the direction Meg Cabot takes her heroine towards while newcomers will relish the jocular escapades.

First Daughter
Eric Van Lustbader
c/o Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765321701, $25.95, 1-888-330-8477

One month before moderate Republican Edward Carson is to be sworn in as the president of the US, his nineteen years old daughter Alli Carson is kidnapped in spite of Secret Service agents. ATF agent Jack McClure leads the hunt to rescue Alli; whom he knows as his late daughter Emma's boarding-school roommate. Those who abducted Alli are brainwashing her to do a terrorist deed at the inauguration ceremony. Meanwhile as Jack struggles with making progress in his investigation, the current POTUS invoking God like he always does declares a holy war against the First American Secular Revivalists and the E-Two terrorists, who he blames. Jack is an interesting hero as he struggles to overcome dyslexia and his search for the abducted Alli turns FIRST DAUGHTER into a strong thriller. However, the current President's invoking God's wrath as a motive to declare a new war on terrorism seems over the top even if this is a hyperbole of the claims of Mr. Bush and some of his more fundamental supporters. Thus when the story line focuses on Jack and Alli it is a strong exhilarating thriller; when POTUS is featured it turns inanely satirical. Still readers will enjoy this exciting tale.

Power Play
Dara Girard
Harlequin Kimani
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373860746, $5.99,

Mary Reyland is the poster woman for someone to pick on; a victim preferring flight over fight, Mart is used and abused at work and treated even worse in her relationships. Tired of it all, she decides no more crap on the job and no more dates with SOBs who treat her like dirt. When the Black Stockings Society invites her to join, she initially was going to decline feeling unworthy; but thinking of her vow she decides to wear the power stockings at important business meetings and in her personal life. Edmund Davis decides Mary is perfect to oversee his investment into The New Day Senior Living Community project because he assumes he can pound the mouse into strict adherence to his concept. Instead he is stunned that Mary pushes back and that he likes her pushing back. Mary is a fabulous lead character as she has a zillion mental issues starting with esteem so low, it can't be measured. Edmund is somewhat cold with his "arctic" eyes, but he is fully developed and arrogant from start to finish. However the first Black Stockings saga belongs to the heroine whose efforts to find a backbone and show some spunk for a change make for an insightful tale as she is the "Cowardly Lion" seeking courage with the wizard being her peers at the society she joined.

The Way Home
Jean Brashear
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373715053, $5.50

Isabella "Bella" Parker wakes up in Lucky Drawn, Colorado suffering from amnesia while her fifty-eight year old spouse and their children worry over where she is. In Parker's Ridge, Alabama James worries over whether his beloved wife of over three decades is safe as she is missing; he blames himself for her leaving. He and their adult kids are relieved to learn where Bella is due to a newspaper article revealing her story and location, but is concerned about her memory loss. James wants her to come home, but in spite of her lack of memory her instincts tell her she was running from him. James knows why she was thinking of leaving him; they had lost their ability to play and have fun with each other until he cheated on her. Now a desperate James hopes to convince his spouse that if she gives him a second chance he will never wander and they will enjoy life to the fullest instead of just all business all the time. THE WAY HOME is a touching second chance at love tale refreshingly starring two people in their fifties. Character driven, fans will relish Jean Brashear's heartfelt contemporary as the flawed lead couple makes the spat real enough to threaten to end a thirty-five years old relationship while the support cast ensure her amnesia is not a gimmick used to wipe the slate clean like an Etchosketch.

Trusting Ryan
Tara Taylor Quinn
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373715008, $5.50

Columbus Special Victims Bureau Police Detective Ryan Mercedes and thirty-five year old lawyer Audrey Lincoln are attracted to one another from the first moment they met six months ago while both were working. They go out on non-dates, watch videos like Almighty Bruce and the Reds play, and have fun together. They begin baring their souls to each other and soon made love. However, Audrey has deep concerns when she learns her boyfriend is still in his twenties. Besides the age gap that has started a rift between them, the pair finds themselves on opposite sides of a controversial case. With their relationship seemingly barely on life support, love may not be enough between the younger man and the older woman who cherish each other, but also have trust issues from their respective salad days. This is an enjoyable contemporary romance due to the relationship between the lead couple as their vocations, their histories, and their thirteen year gap come between them while the case especially the child that divides the duet adds poignancy to the fine story line. Trusting Tara Taylor Quinn to provide a strong tale, fans will appreciate this older woman-younger man tale of love and doubt.

The Child Comes First
Elizabeth Ashtree
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373715039, $5.50

In Baltimore, the state accuses eleven-year-old Tiffany Thompson of willfully killing three-year-old Derek Baldridge. The Third Circuit Court judge ruled that the preadolescent will be tried as an adult because of the shocking homicide and the accused documented history of violence. Attorney Simon Montgomery is assigned the pro bono case in which a public defender failed to get the venue changed back to Juvenile Court. Other court rulings handled poorly by his predecessor further hampers his ability to mount a strong defense Meanwhile social worker Jayda Kavanagh totally believes Tiffany did not kill the younger child. She demands the new lawyer do a better job than the previous one did. As Jayda and Simon begin to fall in love, both are also charmed by the young girl on trial. However, besides understanding THE CHILD COMES FIRST, all three have issues to overcome if relationships are to forge permanently. This entertaining romantic legal thriller works because the lead couple of this aptly titled tale focuses on defending the child over their attraction. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Derek picks up the pro bono defense of Tiffany and never slows down as he struggles with issues left by the previous lawyer, his client's history and brooding reluctance to speak, and his desire for Jayda. Her idealism matches his skepticism as fans will enjoy this fine contemporary.

Always a Mother
Linda Warren
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373782444, $5.50

They were high school sweethearts, who had kids as teens. Dean became a football star while Claire stayed home to raise their children. Now the kids are grown and Claire looks forward to finally completing her college degree and obtaining a full time job outside the home that she put on hold. There is only one problem confronting Claire; she is pregnant for the first time in two decades. Stunned she is not sure she wants to raise another child and give up her plans. Needing to be by herself, Claire leaves Dean to think. Accompanied by their love letters, she slowly rereads how much her spouse loved her then and that is true now. Linda Warren provides an entertaining contemporary family crisis tale that stars a wonderful nurturing woman who needs to find herself beyond being a loving mother and wife. This is clearly Claire's tale as she loves her family, but is not sure she can raise a late life child, but in isolation begins to conclude she will always be a mother and always love her husband and kids including the unborn one. Although the need to leave seems off kilter for Claire even if she feels over the edge; fans will appreciate ALWAYS A MOTHER as Claire ponders whether she can handle raising a child again, remain a loving devoted wife, and work at obtaining her degree.

Hot City Nights
Sandra Marton, Sarah Mayberry and Emilie Rose
9780373837267, $5.99

"Summer in the City" by Sandra Marton. Lincoln Aldridge becomes guardian of his niece Jenny after his sister Kathryn and her husband Mark die. He needs to find a proper nanny to take care of the child, but none seem right until Brazilian Ana Marquez, whom he met in one loving night in Rio, takes the position. "Back to You" by Sarah Mayberry. In Sydney, Becky Taylor decides to attend the ten year reunion based on the assumption that her ex-lover, divorcee Cal MacKenzie will not be there; as he hurt her badly. He is there and still wants her. "Forgotten Lover" by Emilie Rose. At Grady Memorial, Talia Rivera suffers amnesia from an accident; she gave as her contact information her former lover Jake Larson, whom she has not seen in four years. He assumes she is lying but agrees to take care of her and her son Adam whom he wonders if he is his. These are three entertaining second chance at love contemporary romances starring likable protagonists in each tale.

The Darkest Pleasure
Gena Showalter
9780373773107, $6.99

Reyes has known for millenniums that his immortal life is ugly as he hosts the demon Pain ever since he and dark warriors destroyed Pandora and released her box's content. However, after all this time, he faces his most difficult dilemma. He wants Danika Ford like has never desired a woman before, but will have to kill his possessed long time comrade Aeron who contains the demon Wrath while the Titans demand he murder the woman. Reyes has kept her alive from the crazed Aeron, but feels he failed his mission when Hunters capture her; probably to use as bait. He has avoided her, but now must risk his existence to save her life. However, he also wonders why the Gods need this woman and her family dead. The latest Lords of the Underworlds saga (see THE DARKEST KISS and THE DARKEST NIGHT) is once again an extremely dark exciting tale in which Gena Showalter's earth seems genuine. The hero is a fascinating brooding protagonist who for the first time since his fall has a sliver of hope although he does not know it as all he can see is battling Aeron to keep him from harming his courageous Danika yet struggles not to harm his long time friend. Though a stand alone, romantic fantasy fans who appreciate a modernization of ancient myths should read the previous two novels; not only are they excellent, they provide depths to this reading pleasure.

Nicolas Cornick
9780373773039, $6.99

In 1805 the Home Secretary loudly orders Major Nick Falconer to investigate the murder of his odious cousin and to go to Yorkshire to destroy the infamous Glory Girls gang. Nick prefers to do neither, but immediately races off for Yorkshire before his superior rips more skin off his back. In Yorkshire, Nick meets Widow Mari Osborne; whereas he swears they met in London on the same night his cousin died, she insists they never met before. A bit taken aback as he knows she has no twin or doppelganger, Nick concludes she is lying although he cannot fathom why. He decides to make her his priority as he is attracted to her, but he remains unaware that the two other cases his superior has made Nick's will soon tie together through the woman he loves. Robin "Hood-ettes" inside a regency romance make for a merry tale filled with suspense and murder. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that the government operative and the widow meet and never slows down as he investigates her secrets while she tries to nudge him onto false trails filled with red herrings. That passion called love makes for strange bedfellows as Nicolas Cornick provides an enjoyable historical cat and mouse tale.

Sweet Talk
Susan Mallery
Harlequin HQN
9780373772971, $6.99

The Keyes sisters are estranged from one another or at least with Claire since their dad's funeral several years ago. However, Jesse calls her sibling renowned pianist Claire to tell her Nicole is undergoing gallbladder surgery and will need help since she will be recuperating for six weeks and her bakery has apparently shut. Claire sees this as an opportunity to make up with her fraternal sis and agrees. However, in Seattle, Claire learns that Jesse and Nicole are not talking to each other and that her ailing sibling does not want her here. Claire ignores Nicole's protest. When Claire meets Nicole's friend Wyatt Knight an attraction surfaces immediately. However, neither wants to pursue their desires because she is in town for Nicole so feels strongly she must reject any intrusions including a loving one and he has been burned in his previous relationships. The battling Keyes sisters are as dysfunctional siblings as one will find short of fratricide; each has what they perceive is a legitimate gripe against her siblings. In fact it is the interrelationships between the trio that is the key to this fine emotional tale. Even the romance between Claire and Wyatt, though well done, takes a back seat to the war as Nicole feels her close friend is betraying her by his attraction to her enemy sister. Susan Mallery provides a powerful passionate backdrop to a fine contemporary romance.

Sam's Creed
Sarah McCarty
Harlequin Spice
9780373605231, $13.95

In 1858 bone weary Texas Ranger Sam "Wild Card" MacGregor sees the two burned out wagons and thinks how ugly people are to one another. Tired he sees two bodies bloated by the sun and expects to find women and children, as wagons usually mean dependents. Accompanied by Kell the dog, they find more corpses and one lively female survivor. Isabella Montoya explains to Sam they are dead because of her though she was not with them when they died. He offers to take her home, bit she explains she is engaged in an arranged marriage to Tejala a nasty villain she refuses to wed. Sam insists on taking her back to her family's ranch, but she explains Tejala's odious henchmen stalk the spread. When they come close to her ranch, he realizes she was telling the truth as Tejala's thugs abound obviously seeking her out and would kill him to get her. Meanwhile wealthy Bella decides to seduce Sam into marrying her; she figures it helps that she is attracted to him and more important he is an honorable person who also can protect her. Sam wants the woman who almost accidentally killed him when they met, but tries to be honorable as he knows she is an innocent siren. As with CAINE'S RECKONING, Sarah McCarty provides an entertaining Hell's Eight erotic Texas Ranger pre-Civil War romance. The story line is fast-paced mostly due to the powerful relationship between Sam and Bella, whose exchanges makes the tale. Although Tejala is a stereotypical avarice serial killing villain, fans will appreciate the lone ranger with his horse and dog falling in love with a spitfire heiress.

Hot Property
Carly Phillips
978037377336, $7.99

In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Amy Stone is the activities director at a retirement community run by her mom. She loves the elderly clients, but feels the time has come to be with people her age. Her New York based Uncle Spencer Atkins offers her a position with his public relations firm, Hot Zone PR and Athletes Only, which she accepts. Amy's first client is New York Renegades' star center fielder John Roper, who had a horrendous World Series somewhat caused by playing with a badly injured shoulder; they first meet at her cousin's wedding. His high maintenance family demands he pamper them; while he wants his new PR administrator to take care of him personally. The latest trip to the Hot Zone (see HOT ITEM, HOT STUFF and HOT NUMBER) is a fun look at a celebrity's life style. As always in a Carly Philips' HOT PROPERTY, the lead couple makes the tale. In this case, he has no time for romance, feels a need to pull a Floyd Patterson (after the Liston first fight) and wants to elude his out of control family. However, his new PR operative will not allow him to hide in the shadows or behind a mask. Fans will enjoy this lighthearted hot romance between them.

Oh, Joe
Michael Z. Lewin
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
9781594146671, $25.95, 1-800-223-1244

In Indianapolis, twenty-seven years old Joe Prince loves his live in girlfriend Kelly and their child "Little Joe", but he cannot sleep alone; when she goes away to attend a family funeral, he finds himself picking up women. Disgusted with Joe, Kelly takes their child and moves back in with her mom who hates Joe as a loser. At Berringer's, Joe meets his former friend George Wayne who got him some jail time in their previous association; George persuades Joe to baby sit his houseboat for some money while he is away on business. Joe thinks this is easy money and a chance to avoid women while he hopes for Kelly to come home. A few boring days later, George fails to return so Joe swims to shore. The police arrest him for the murder of George whose body was found on his houseboat with an injured dog. Attorney Cayenne Davenport is assigned to represent Joe, who wonders if Kelly will return to his corner. This combination family drama investigative tale is a fine thriller although Cayenne is better at sleuthing than the two detectives she constantly advises as to what they should do Joe is a fascinating character who cannot sleep alone or stay in a house by himself; although his phobia vanishes too easily, readers will understand his obsession that is not sexual but loneliness driven. The homicide case is cleverly designed while the audience will wonder whether Kelly will return to Joe, who has proven so far to be a dumb loser; having been burned by George before.

The Northwoods Chronicles
Elizabeth Engstrom
Five Star Books
9781594147050, $25.95

Residents of isolated White Pines Junction in Vargas County live a prosperous contented life. The town seems normal to the tourists who flock there for fishing in the lakes in the summer. However, the locals know that periodically children under the age of twelve years old disappear without a trace. The townsfolk accept the abductions as a fee from beyond for their wonderful lifestyle. Not all accept the sudden loss of their child. For instance when adolescent Micah is abducted, his mom Margie needs closure as she obsesses over knowing who and why. Her husband has already adjusted to the inevitable, but though somewhat at peace she pursues what is accepted by the natives as natural. THE NORTHWOODS CHRONICLES is actually twenty interlocking short stories as each additional entry builds off the previous contributions. Together the entries make a fascinating paranormal novel in which for the most part the local residents live contented quiet evenings, but once in a while a snatch occurs. Surprisingly the novel in stories works because the differing characters enable Elizabeth Engstrom to look deep at what makes a human as she explores various types of love especially sacrificial and its symbiotic partners guilt and grief.

Hidden Steel
Doranna Durgin
Five Star Books
9781594146817, $25.95

As she awakens she suffers from amnesias even as she realizes she is handcuffed to what looks like a hospital bed; when she overhears a man and woman discuss her they mention Mickey so she assumes that is her name, but soon realize they are talking about a Mickey Finn. She persuades the man, a doctor to let her go to the bathroom, but uses the handcuff the doctor opened to knock him out. "Mickey" escapes. Mickey makes it to a San Jose gym run by Steve Spaneas. Mickey shows skills with her hands and a knife that makes Steve wonder who she is especially when fancy cars patrol the mean streets. Mickey begins to regain her memory and worries about some young female named Naia, who she does not remember is a Stanford foreign student and daughter or President Sayid Mejjati of Ishaddani, who wonders what happened to her CIA contact. As she tries to recall who she and Naia are, the CIA seeks her out as does the doctor and the woman who abducted and juiced her with a drug that wiped out her memory while finding herself attracted to Steve; a desire that makes her leave to keep him and his inner city gym rats safe.

HIDDEN STEEL is an engaging thriller that grips the audience from the moment the amnesiac wakes up as a prisoner and never slows down as she regains part of her memory. Mickey is terrific as instinctively she knows how to fight while Steve is divided about her; he knows she brings danger to his gym, but wants her safe. Readers will enjoy this entertaining international espionage thriller as the attraction between the lead couple stays in the backdrop while Mickey struggles to survive and do whatever is right for Naia, whoever she is.

A Rather Curious Engagement
C.A. Belmond
c/o New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
9780451224057, $14.00, 1-800-972-6657

Since becoming an American -heiress (see A Rather Lovely Inheritance), Penny Nichols has seen her lifestyle radically change. She lives in a luxurious London apartment, weekends in France, has a classic automobile and enjoys living with her flatmate Jeremy. However, on the down side is everyone wants a handout so Penny is constantly being accosted by gigolos, paparazzi, sales people and even a former wife. Penny the snoop and Jeremy the legalese decide to have a big summer fling before putting their money aside for the year to live somewhat normal. They attend an auction on the French Riviera where they buy a 1920s yacht only to have someone boat-jack it and damage it when it is found. Unable to resist the former freelancer investigates the theft which leads them to the previous owner, Count Hubert von Norbert, in Lake Como, Italy and a fifth of Beethoven (without Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band to guide them). This is a rather entertaining sequel as the adventures of an American heiress in Europe continue. Penny and Jeremy are wonderful dodging gold-diggers, con artists, and peddlers when they just want a little fun before deciding what to do with their nouveau riches. Instead they end up playing amateur sleuths tracking the mystery of the purloined yacht which leads them into all sorts of other escapades including a centuries old still burning continental feud. Fans will relish the return of Penny and Jeremy as they tour Europe.

Plague War
Jeff Carlson
Ace Books
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780441016174, $7.99, 1-800-847-5515

Just over a year has past since the catastrophe began with a rather rapid wipeout of 5,000,000,000 souls in a blink. The nano-plague was released into the human population bring the world to the edge of extinction. To survive this organic eating plague one must reside above the elevation of 10,000 feet as the machines freeze at that altitude. In the Colorado Rocky Mountains the United States government plots to take over the world by using the vaccine developed by Ruth Goldman as a tool to choose who lives. The scientist and her friend Cam just want to inoculate everyone. Meanwhile the feds arrange for select Russians to fly to the States, but are betrayed when the plane explodes a nuclear bomb into the area. The Russian both combat and civilian and the Chinese are coming in full fighter force as they want a less ravaged place to live. Ruth believes she can bring the war to a halt and prevent any more fighting if he idea and new creation works. The sequel to the exciting PLAGUE YEAR, PLAGUE WAR is an exhilarating high octane science fiction thrillers that hooks the audience from the opening sequence and never let's go until the climax. While the story line focuses on non-stop action, the desolate frozen backdrop is in some ways the prime character as even in near extinction some in power will make a grab for more control while others prefer to simply save the world. Whereas Jeff Carlson cautions his audience to keep a close eye on the government-science-technological complex, fans, especially those who read the first book, will enjoy this electrifying over the Rockies dark futuristic tale

Cry Wolf
Patricia Briggs
Ace Books
9780441016150, $7.99

Three years ago a werewolf attacked Anna; she changed into a loup-garou. The alpha Leo had instigated the attack, absorbing her into the Western Suburban Chicago pack. He had her sexually and mentally abused her turning her into a lonely submissive. The pack is n tatters with the alpha leader's mate killing those she deems a threat until Leo was finally was murdered. The Marrok Alpha of all Alphas comes to straighten out the mess. Anna and Charles, the Marrok's son, want to be mates as do their wolves, but she is too afraid to fall into his arms. She learns she is not a submissive, but an Omega werewolf who brings clam to the pack. Once they are there they come under attack and unless the magical practitioner is caught, werewolf society will be enslaved to a malevolent mage. Patricia Briggs is one my favorite urban fantasists as she makes her alternative world filled with werewolves, witches, and spirits (oh my) seem genuine. As the exciting story line progresses, Anna grows once she realizes she is a worthy individual as she has skills that she can give to her pack that no one else can; she also concludes that Charles is her equal not her superior. Fans of Laura Anne Gilman and Lara Adrian will enjoy visiting Briggs realm as she provides a wonderful coming of age werewolf drama.

Joe Haldeman
Ace Books
9780441015955, $24.95

Carmen Dula could just as easily be growing up on earth with her teen angst. She avoids her parents like they are the plague or when she feels kind towards them she treats them like they are just stupid; and her younger pain in the butt sibling drives her to want to run away. However, as a lottery pick family sent to live on the first human colony on Mars she knows there are not a lot places for a runaway to go to especially with the great dictator colony manager Dargo Solingen looking over everyone's shoulder. During one of her forays away from her family, Carmen finds previously undetected Martians living in an underground city in the bleak "wilderness". She tries unsuccessfully to convince Solingen what she found, but he writes her off as teenage mutant with no brains inside her head. When she and her friends learn what the Martians plan for the colonists, Carmen and company know not to waste any time with the manager; they make the effort to save the earthlings. This is an engaging coming of age Martian thriller due to Carmen who tells the story with a combination of young adult intelligence and teenage impatient angst at the stupidity of adults. The story line is action-packed though told mostly by Carmen as she learns first hand personal agendas as she deals with officious oppressors (parents and government are included), the enemy who wants her dead, and her guardian angel who she does not what Mr. Potatohead wants from her.

Juggler Of Worlds
Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner
Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765318268, $24.95, 1-888-330-8477

Amalgamated Regional Militia Intel Agent Sigmund Ausfaller works extremely hard to keep aliens from harming the Earth and its colonies. However, the brilliant but obsessed ARM operative determines that the top hazard at the moment comes from the sheep like obsessive Puppeteers. They herd to protect their species from the remotest of threats. The Puppeteers General Products sector sells items deemed safe to their species to the highest bidder. Recently they sold spaceship hulls that are guaranteed to protect anyone inside from any form of radiation. However, a scientific expedition using a General Products anti-radiation hull arrives with the outside husk in perfect order, but inside everything including the crew has been gutted and mutilated. Sigmund needs to know why while the Puppeteers begin the sale of specialty technology to chosen ones in order to increase their espionage activity until they learn that in several millenniums the galactic core will explode. Reacting to this future threat, the Puppeteers sheepishly vanish leaving behind selected scouts to keep watch on the others pulling strings along the way. A Ringworld prequel like FLEET OF WORLDS, JUGGLER OF WORLDS is an engaging science fiction thriller intended to and succeeding in thrilling long time fans of the series. Much of the novel repeats action from the saga although refreshes it to a degree by using someone else's interpretation of known events at least to the Ringworld audience. More so than usual the similarities between Sigmund and the Puppeteers are obvious as both are obsessed on preventing external real or perceived threats from harming their species by pulling the strings of others. This is a solid entry though a bit slow as readers know what occurred already.

Ill Met In The Arena
Dave Duncan
Tor Books
9780765316875, $24.95

On Aureity, the female aristocracy breeds men for their brawn including teleportation and women for their brains including mind reading and psychic control. As a side consequence of all this extrasensory breeding, murder and rape are extremely rare. Thus when Mandragora was killed by unknown adversary, her loyal male gladiator Mudar took the affront personalyl as he should have kept her safe. Humiliated by his failure Mudar vows to avenge her death; by exposing the Enemy once he learns who he is. However, clues lead the amateur sleuth to his father, Piese, who murdered Mandragora to silence her as she named him a rapist. Meanwhile Mudar's half-brother Humate, who is successful in the arena, refuses to believe their sire is a rapist killer; instead he plans to wed Mudar's beloved Tendence once he defeats the ancient unknown upstart Quirt in the arena; but he will be stunned by his opponent's identity. The feminist preeminence makes for an intriguing world in which an aging antihero looks out at the testosterone warrior segment of the culture with disdain though he is a product of it. The culture comes across as a rigid caste system (India meets Rome), which is why Mudar is in a form of exile unless he can find the culprit and bring the person to justice. One must wonder who sweeps up the messes left behind by the aristocracy. Although the climax seems obvious, fans will appreciate this engaging investigative fantasy as Dave Duncan proves quite a world-builder

Mars Life
Ben Bova
Tor Books
9780765317872, $24.95

In his first trip to Mars, Native American geologist Jamie Waterman discovered proof that life existed on the red planet when he found the ruins of cliff dwellings. He wants to return to continue his anthropological studies of the dead Martians, but so far lacks funding. On earth, the planet suffers from environmental disaster so the government has doubts about research into a dead race on another orb. At the same time religious leaders demand the end to the Martian exploration expedition; claiming heresy and a waste of money on a fake project. When Waterman shows a fossil from the fourth planet from the sun, he places his wife and him in danger from fanatics. Desperate, the couple returns to Mars to save their project. Part of the superb Grand Tour exploration of the solar system, Ben Bova's RETURN TO MARS with the star of that title and book three MARS, Jamie Waterman, back tying to continue the exploration into a past civilization on the fourth planet. Mindful of the Planet of the Apes after the archaeological find of a talking human doll, Mr. Bova catches the nuances of the politicking of science as the politicians do not want the facts to interfere with the prime objective of reelection and the religious fundamentalists ignore ethical means as only achieving their end goal matters. Readers will appreciate this fine action-packed tale as a beleaguered Jamie cannot comprehend why his find does not propel funding while Mr. Bova makes it lucid where he stands on support to science.

Dancing with Fire
Susan Kearney
Tor Books
9780765358455, $6.99

When her mom died four years ago, the oldest daughter Kaylin Danner gave up her dream of dancing on Broadway to help her dad Dr. Henry Danner raise her younger sisters in Tampa, Florida. Now twenty-four years old and a bit old to be starting on stage, the ballet dance instructor plans to take a chance. However fate intervenes when her dad's lab explodes with him inside. Soon afterward, someone breaks and enters into the family home vandalizing the place in search of something. Kaylin assumes it is her father's scientific work involving bio-diesel fuel. She turns to her father's business partner, Sawyer Scott to help her keep her siblings safe. However, though ruthless adversaries want the formula so they kidnap Kaylin's sister. Even before the lab explosion and subsequent inferno, readers will feel the heat between Kaylin and her father's younger partner Sawyer, which sets the tempo for an exciting timely romantic suspense thriller. The fast-paced story line never slows down as ruthless people want to possess at any human cost the bio-diesel fuel formula the late Dr. Danner and Dr. Scott were working on. The support cast enhances the strong romantic thriller as Susan Kearney turns up the Florida summer heat with this exhilarating fiery tale.

Dark Vengeance
Ed Greenwood
Tor Books
9780765317667, $24.95

In the village of Orlkettle, Orivon Firefist works day and night at the forge because it gave him pleasure to be his own boss at a place where he can see the sky and the grass. When he was six years old, he was stolen from his parents in a Nilfghar (dark elves) raid and brought to the Dark Below where he was a slave for a decade and a half to a wealthy noble family, who tortured him in an attempt to break his spirit; they never did. The daughter helped him escape her parents' cruelty. Now the dark elves have raided Orlkettle and kidnapped four children. Orivon knows first hand the fate that awaits these innocents and vows to rescue them or die trying. However, he is entering a world that has radically changed beyond recognition. The realm of Talonnorn that was the rival of Ouvahlor is in rapid decline from without and within; as nobles fight their peers and the Consecrated fight each other. As Orivon makes his way to Talonnorn he fights and kills beasts and dark elves, determined to free the city as he searches for the children. DARK VENGEANCE is a dark quest fantasy that focuses on a culture that lives below the ground with its own peculiar values and customs (mindful of the Time Machine's Morlocks) different from humans who live in the Blinding Light. The hero knows torture first hand having lived through the brutal abuse almost daily for years; yet overall he is a well balanced person though he has some issues sleeping and prefers light to night. He loathes killing, but will do so to save the kids from what he faced. Obviously readers know but will not care that Orivon is out of his league as he is not a warrior. That is the beauty of Ed Greenwood's tale as he makes the blacksmith's never again obsession the impetus to turn an ordinary person into a superhero "willing to march into hell for that heavenly cause".

Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show
Edmund R. Schubert and Orson Scott Card
Tor Books
9780765320001, $16.95

The eighteen stories selected for this anthology were first published in the online magazine Intergalactic Medicine Show in 2006 and were considered the best from the four IGMS issues. Mr. Card provides four fine Enderverse short stories not seen in printed form before. Although some of the contributors are acclaimed talents like David Lubar and David Farland (Camelot never looked so fresh) fans will also appreciate the entries by less famous authors as Mr. Card and Mr. Schubert introduce Enders readers to endless possibility of meeting talented writers. There are no losers as all the tales are entertaining. Especially fascinating are the Rapture tale "To Know All Things That Are in the Earth" by James Maxey, a pair by Eric James Stone, and Tom Barlow's satirical Pollyanna "Call Me Mr. Positive". Also adding to the freshness is Aaron Johnston's comic book style "Fat Farm" based on a story by Mr. Card. This compilation is superb and should send the audience to the OSCIGMS website.

Zoe's Tale
John Scalzi
Tor Books
0765316986, $24.95

Jane Sagan and John Perry have been recruited to establish Roanoke, a new human colony. When they agreed to help, neither Jane nor John expected interference or hostility from the scheming amoral home-world government. They were also taken aback by local shapeshifters and under alien assault by a federation violently opposed to human expansion into their sector. While they struggle with those threatening to demolish the colony, their adopted teenage child Zoe ignores the big picture; instead she has fun with her boyfriend Enzo and her sarcastic best friend Gretchen while flirting with her Obin bodyguards. The Obin pair keeps Zoe on a pedestal due to her late biological father, a God to that species because of an incredible scientific discovery he made. THE LAST COLONY contains much of the same events that occur in ZOE'S TALE but with a differing perspective as that novel was through the eyes of Jane and John. Thus, though ZOE'S TALE is well written and entertaining, to those who read THE LAST COLONY, it has a deja vu feel. Still comparing the viewpoints is fun as interpretations of what is going on differ between the teen and the adults enhancing the intriguing read as the devil is in the details and that is where Zoe sees things radically diverse from her adoptive parents.

Sly Mongoose
Tobias S. Buckell
Tor Books
9780765319203, $25.95

The surface of Chilio is so hostile with its perpetual storms it is deadly to humans. Aztec descendants fled enslavement by aliens on New Anegada to settle on this lethal orb, but built domed cities floating high in the atmosphere above the deadly planet in order to avoid the excessive temperatures, the CRYSTAL RAIN and the crushing atmospheric pressure. However, over time the technology has become lost, the cities in the sky decaying rapidly, and the residents unable to pay for infrastructure repair or spare parts of the machines that keep them alive. One of the floating towns Yatapek survives mostly due to a mining machine working the surface underneath the city; special physically apropos young men serve as mechanics as the ground suits needed to survive limit who can do the job. Fourteen years old repairman Timas is working on the surface when he sees an alien; he leaves his work to prove his startling discovery. Suddenly disaster strikes Yatapek and the other floating cities as invaders have arrived from space. Pepper, who has lived here decades past his peers as his insides are filled with alien gizmos that have kept him alive long after others he knew died (see RAGAMUFFIN) finds himself helping the people of Chilio in a war they cannot win, but to lose means extinction. Letting time refresh the return to Chilio, Tobias S. Buckell provides an exhilarating outer space science fiction thriller that starts off with action as Pepper wearing a heat shield dives through the lethal atmosphere to the surface and never slows down until the final confrontation. The story line is fast-paced, but it is the cast who makes the plot entertaining. Fans will expect that of Pepper, but Timas makes the tale move briskly as the audience will believe he and the other mechanics are real and in turn that affirms the hostile conditions. Readers will relish SLY MONGOOSE as war has come to a forgotten unforgiving planet, but to know why requires reading about a planet with a humongous everlasting tempest (worse than that on Jupiter).

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Who Says Animals Go To Heaven?: A Collection of Prominent Christian Leaders' Beliefs In Life After Death For Animals
Niki Behrikis Shanahan
Pete Publishing
P.O. Box 282, Tyngsborough MA 01879
9780972030151 $13.99 + $5.00 S&H

In Niki Behrikis Shanahan's latest book, theologians, scholars, teachers, pastors, evangelists, and missionaries apply a lifelong study of the Word of God to prove the Creator's intent about animals and heaven. Their belief is that the fate of animals is tied to that of humans. Man's fall in the Garden of Eden impacted ALL creation, including animals. All living creatures wait and hope for the time of redemption promised by God. According to His Word, God's plan includes all creation and not simply humans.

Animals live and die like humans and breathe the same air. Jehovah himself says all creatures, human and animal, have a living soul. The proof of this can be found in ancient original texts of the Old Testament where the term "nephesh" is commonly interpreted to mean "soul" and used to describe the spirit of both humans and animals.

Romans 8: 19-23 promises the deliverance of all creation: the burnt out and barren places; a lost, corrupt humanity; and all God's creatures will share a new heaven and a new earth. Another example can be found in St. John's vision of heaven during his sojourn on the Isle of Patmos. In his vision, he sees all creatures in the land and sea singing praises to God in Heaven.

All creatures in the land and sea. Consider what that means. Schools of dolphins and whales cavort joyfully in the ocean. Herds of placid cattle graze contentedly in green fields. Horses frolic happily in the pasture. Family dogs and cats bring their human families comfort and happiness. All are capable of love and devotion, just like humans. Niki Behrikis Shanahan has done a wonderful job of reminding readers that ALL life has meaning and purpose in God's Plan. All her books are beautifully written in service to God and highly recommended.

Susan Page Davis
Steeple Hill
233 Broadway, New York NY 10279
9780373442881 $5.50

Susan Page Davis is a prolific writer of historical novels, children's books, and inspirational romantic suspense. She also writes cozy mysteries with her daughter, Megan. Witness is her latest book.

Petra Wilson is a nurse who lives a quiet life in the suburbs with her golden retriever, Mason. Her life is comprised of work, sleep, meals, and walking Mason. Her spiritual life has been neglected for years, ever since her fiance turned out to be a faithless drug dealer. She's out of the habit of praying but she'll soon be needing all the help God can give her. While playing with her dog in the back yard, she becomes the only living witness to a murder. The police investigate but can find no evidence of a murder, and the alleged killer is a well-respected pillar of the community. To complicate matters further, the suspected victim is still very much alive. Was the supposed murder simply Petra's overactive imagination? The details of what she saw play repeatedly in her mind. She's convinced she saw a woman die at her neighbor's hands. One other person knows she's right. The murderer. He'll do whatever it takes to silence her.

The office of Joe Tarleton, Private Investigator, is next door to her sisters' new gift shop. Joe is attracted to Petra, but not quite convinced that she actually witnessed a murder. He reluctantly agrees to investigate her situation. When Mason is poisoned and the gas turned on in Petra's house, he knows the murderer means business. The police still doubt foul play is afoot, don't think Petra is in danger, and Joe can't protect her 24 hours a day. He's determined to keep her alive, somehow.

This is a tidy little mystery with inspirational romance as a bonus. Petra and Joe are well-developed characters who both discover that God did not desert them in their time of greatest need. Susan Page Davis ties up all the loose ends into a satisfying package before book's end. Readers of mystery and inspirational romance will love this one.

Slouching Past Bethlehem
Carol Adler
digital download
97809788961176 $13.00

Carol Adler is a renaissance woman with her mind focused on business and her fingers on the world's pulse. Still, this publisher - editor - writer - poet - journalist - business woman takes time to have a little fun with words. Slouching Past Bethlehem is her humorously ironic twist on Yeats' famous apocalyptic poem, so frequently quoted by journalists in modern times.

Dr. Glissalayne Chondroitin is an accomplished modern woman with numerous university degrees. Her boss, Ronald Diebleed, is the epitome of elitism who plans to create a new heaven and new earth through genetics and Glissalayne works hard to make his vision a reality. Despite her intelligence, high-powered career, and excellent income, she wants more out of life. Her biological clock is ticking. Where is the man who can give her what she needs? Certainly not Harold Boxcart, the dream man who could talk a good game online but leaves much to be desired when it comes to follow-through. All the seminars in the world on empowerment and self-actualization can't help a man like Harold. He's just one more in a long line of failed romances for Dr. Chondroitin.

Regina Diebleed, the boss's otherworldly daughter, learns how to transform Earth by looking to the stars. She assigns Jonas Foreplay to enhance the existing gene pool, starting with Glissalayne. Jonas is an extraterrestrial with telepathic skills, a man with unlimited resources in every way. He's bored by what human males consider female perfection -- big bosoms attached to a set of long, skinny legs. His first contact with Glissalayne ends Jonas's boredom. Her small imperfections intrigue him, and Glissalayne has finally met her match in romance and intelligence.

Glissalayne and Jonas know they live in an unconscious world plodding through mundane days, passively accepting whatever those in power dish out. Big business, spin experts, and power hungry politicians have run the world too long. When Glissalayne and Jonas come together, humanity finally wakes up. Can it really be that love and a focused universal consciousness will transform Earth's awful realities?

Slouching Past Bethlehem

is a fast, fun sexy read. Whether you believe in extraterrestrials or not, you do believe in love, don't you? And who among us doesn't think our current crop of politicians need to get a divorce from big business? With great imagination and humor, Adler weaves her cautionary tale of star crossed lovers and the "rough beasts" determined to separate them. Teleport yourself to and download this one.

Painting Sin
Llyn Clague
Pure Heart Press
Main Street Rag Publishing Co.
P.O. Box 690100, Charlotte NC 28227-7001
9781599481296 $14.00

"Each of us has a spark of the divine / and a flint of evil." In this book of stunning contrasts, Clague contemplates society, past and present, evil and divine. Just as the aura of war hung over his childhood, so it hangs over us all today, when our fears are fed through daily doses of political spin and slanted TV commentary. This excerpt from the title poem demonstrates our life today:

We make war on the fear
we cannot see in the mirror
and call it a war on terror;
we peer at the world over truck barriers
and call ourselves free;
we make enemies faster
than we can blast them from the earth.

From ancient times to the present day, "Man's Salvation" has been a long time coming. This excerpt shows we haven't made much progress. Sins of omission and commission are still being painted over:

The wrench of greed and ambition on the heart
is the same in every age -- indeed, from our own day
I may learn nuances nobody ever noticed,
or new kinks in old ropes.

Power corrupts. We've learned that lesson well. Clague turns to "the ultimate art of words" to make sense of what he sees happening around him. His discoveries haunt him. America began as a ragtag bunch of Revolutionary patriots battling an efficient Redcoat army. Now WE are the efficient military machine fighting ragtag armies around the globe while a "worm of secrets" eats away at our government and the politicians who are so skilled at whitewashing their sins. In this election year, Clague's poetic message is that we'd all do well to consider the past and present while looking to the future.

In Painting Sin, Llyn Clague describes a reeling America in stunning style. We have become the prisoners of political "collaborators, careerists, spin-doctors, and apologists" who paint over their sins and lies with gleaming rhetoric. From the Bush White House to America's crumbling infrastructure to a shattered economy, Clague's powerful poetic voice shines a revealing light on the trials citizens face today.

The Man In The Booth: In The Midtown Tunnel
Doug Holder
Cervena Barva Press
P.O. Box 440357, W. Somerville MA 02144-3222
9781435719576 $13.00

Doug Holder's poetry has been defined by a study of people in their native environment. Whether on the street, in a psychiatric ward, or in the cocoon of family, his canny eyes miss nothing. He passes no judgments, makes no assumptions about those who daily cross his path or reside in the recesses of memory. This book is a gentle record of human behavior, compassionate psalms for the unusual and the mundane activities that dance through his day.

Holder's revelations include personal snapshots. Consider this excerpt from "I Saw Myself On The Dudley Bus That Day:"

Half light,
No hair.
A bus of exiles
Each mired
In their personal

"In The Twin Towers" is Holder's take on a murder that occurred in the Cambridge MA projects decades ago. In this stunning poem, an elderly man tries to remember why he loved his wife, then murders her in the smothering heat of summer:

He thinks of her gnarled hands
The liver spots --
Musing how her ring held on
To the bony corpse of her finger.

Simply and powerfully, the poet epitomizes frail defiance in "Cambridge Mass: Two Old Women:"

Arm in arm
A tight embrace
Of frail appendages
Pushing each other
At no more
Than a snail's pace.

Each morning
Refusing the pull
Of age's inertia

"A Dream of Minnie Baum" is Holder's recollection of his grandmother. The moment is perfectly captured:

I sit in the deep creases of her sundress,
A purple flourish of fabric flowers,
Stunned by the musty cabal of her perfume.
My head resting on her soft deflated breasts
She exchanges Yiddish for English with mother
Tit for tat.

In these poems, Holder's words reflect the intimacy and loneliness of humanity. Words flow quietly but memorably on these pages. Highly recommended.

Canticle III
Marine Robert Warden
Bellowing Ark Press
P.O. Box 55564, Shoreline WA 98155
9780944920596 $12.00

I know surprises and adventures are in store when a new book of poetry by Marine Robert Warden arrives. Warden is a congenial guide who shows readers small tucked away corners and fleet moments in time that define a man, his country and its people. He celebrates the "wonderful still whiteness' of winter and faithfully records the "song of the palms as they bow to the wind." Warden loves his life, his wife, and his country. Inside these pages are the "clear pond waters and dark darting shadows" of a poet's memory.

In Warden's world, peace can be found everywhere, in every era. "Christmas Eve, Albuquerque, 1936" is one example:

under a cloud of stars
some falling like angels
coming to earth
to bring their tidings
nights so cool and still
carols a mile away
are clearly heard
and all over the city
a pale golden glow
from hundreds of candles
in paper bags
on lawns and garden walls

The world changed for everyone after 9/11. In "The Fallen" a pile of smoking leaves becomes a memory attached forever to that awful day in September:

a friend has written to me
from Upstate New York
downwind from the City
all that fall around sunset
the smoke would drift to his town
he could not describe the smoke
anymore than I could describe an angel
nothing will ever be the same

Warden is a master at finding beauty amidst chaos and suffusing joy from sorrow. He's always polishing his "Drafts for a Finale:"

this earth we live on
digests the dead
but they are resurrected
beautifully changed
in the form of lilies
or butterflies

In Canticle III, readers benefit from Warden's love of life and country. This final verse from "Heaven and Earth" describes his philosophy as man and wordsmith:

against the puffy clouds and curve of her neck
I begin to realize how deep I've come
into the interior of our country
into the interior of love

Line Dance
Barbara Crooker
Word Press
P.O. Box 541106, Cincinnati OH 45254-1106
9781933456928 $17.00

Critics describe Crooker's poetry here as "a sublime tonic against the darkness" or "spilling over with energy and movement" or "exquisite." The work in Line Dance is all that, of course. Such critical praise is justified and deserved, but leaves out two important aspects readers need to know. One, regardless of topic -- death, autism, failure, loss -- Barbara Crooker distills beauty from it. Two, her joyous words will be easily understood by readers. She welcomes readers into her world and makes them feel at home.

In "Blues for Karen" Crooker reaches out to a dead friend the best way she knows how, through words and images:

How could you die? We weren't done talking yet.
So I am trying to call you using the morning glories,
whose blue mouths are open to the sky,
whose throats are white stars,
thinking those tendrils could trellis upward,
hand over little green hand, so tenacious,
they hang on in any storm…

Crooker's use of metaphors is reader-friendly. We can all relate to her descriptions with a sense of wonder. This excerpt from "Zero at the Bone" takes us to a frozen place where the wintry season joins the unwritten lines of the heart:

The scouring light of winter
scrubs whatever it falls on,
the bright whiteness revealing
all the small incursions,
marks and stains of another year.
In the bare bones of trees, we see
old nests, broken branches, bagworm,
gall, all that was hidden by summer's
green scrim. Now we are at the heart
of things, the bone chill
of zero, the closed eye
of the pond. No secrets.

Buried within "The VCCA Fellows Visit the Holiness Baptist Church, Amherst, Virginia" is one of the sweetest, most touching and comforting ruminations on death I've ever read:

…a deacon speaks of his sister,
who's "gone home," and I realize he doesn't mean
back to Georgia, but she's passed over. I float
on this sweet certainty, of a return not to the bland
confection of wispy clouds and angels in nightshirts,
but to childhood's kitchen, a dew-drenched June
morning, roses tumbling by the back porch.

These poems represent "the thin rind of memory" protecting the juicy pulp that is Barbara Crooker's life and poetic mind. Highly recommended.

Keeping the Quiet
Poetry by Rick Kempa
Bellowing Ark Press
P.O. Box 55564, Shoreline WA 98155
9780944920626 $14.00

Rick Kempa is a teacher, writer, poet, husband, father, and lover of quiet wilderness places. Nothing is as still as Nature, far from the noise and sprawl of cities. Kempa seeks such quiet in spirit and deed here, beautifully, through prose and poetry.

This excerpt from "The Delicate Art of Dying" is a gentle comparison of storm-wracked trees and Kempa's dying mother:

Today in the calm hour after dawn,
the sun touching the hoary face of each leaf
precipitates a chemistry, ice crystals to beads,
and at last a golden rain, one by one by one,
loud as the weeping in the aftermath of summer storms,
quiet as a prayer in the still air of a cathedral.

Our mother woke to such a day as this.
Having survived violence, having colored our world
with her beauty, she stirred in the last warmth,
felt a delicate movement in her veins.

"Poem for Bruce" celebrates a dead friend who shared wilderness trails, campfires, alpine meadows, and raven calls. Consider these two small excerpts from an exceptional long poem:

Who will declaim the sequence of the constellations?
Who will be the statistician of the trail?

Who on earth will define for me
the mystery, the difficulty
of friendship, challenging me
to listen up, put aside,
overlook, move beyond myself?

"The Pursuit" is a powerful vignette showing a child's wisdom and patience with her aging grandmother. The end result is knowledge, understanding of how life works:

She is young but wise in this:
All journeys are evanescent.
Even those tracks we etch
in stone -- even her own --
will be worn down.

The poetry and prose in this book are soothing, comforting, and inspiring. Kempa's quiet moments are stunning examples of a wordsmith's skill. Highly recommended.

Letters To the World
Poems from the Wom-Po Listserv
Edited by Moira Richards, Rosemary Starace, Lesley Wheeler
Red Hen Press
P.O. Box 3537, Granada Hills CA 91394
9781597090995 $25.00

Several years ago I reviewed the collected poetry of Christina Pacosz. Her beautiful words stunned me to silence and I've been following her published poetry online ever since. Like many female poets from around the world, Pacosz is a member of the Wom-Po Listserv -- an internet presence founded by Annie Finch and recognized internationally for its excellence. Wom-Po's goal as a website and the purpose of this anthology is to "give women poets and their poetry the recognition they deserve." To date, Wom-Po spin offs include listservs, workshops, collaborations, translations, and networking opportunities unavailable to female poets of earlier generations.

The 259 contributing poets from 19 countries on 5 continents represented in this anthology combined their considerable gifts, talents, philosophies, and rich cultural heritages into an amazing blend of poetry and essays. Styles vary from quatrain, sonnet, formalist, and triolet to tanka, haiku, free verse, ekphrasis, and experimental.

This is an exceptional anthology, one to be savored slowly by poetry lovers everywhere. With a universal wisdom, tenderness and grace, these poets transcend the violence we see every day in the world around us. They are the Emily Dickinsons of their time, sending their messages to the world. To quote the Dickinson poem:

This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me…..

In this age of wars and cultural divisions, it's time the world listens and writes back in kind. That's what the Wom-Po listserv poets hope to accomplish with this anthology. Highly recommended.

WR. Park
Black Rose Writing
7810 Kingsbury Way #4, San Antonio, TX 78240
9780615204949 $15.95

An anonymous voice on the phone calls the shots. The maniacal assassin who loves wet work carries out the assignments. He's systematically murdering members of congress, nine so far. The only evidence found at the grisly scenes is DNA, hair, and fingerprints belonging to CIA operative, Hunter Dougllas. Dougllas is a loose cannon, the unconventional "go-to" guy when international incidents get out of hand. CIA Director Carter Holloway can't believe his best agent has gone rogue and started butchering politicians, but witnesses describe Dougllas in detail, right down to his facial characteristics, hair and eye color. Still, Holloway has good reason to doubt the agent's involvement in the murders. Dougllas just woke up from a well-documented six-month coma.

Months before the murders, a bayou fisherman found Dougllas half-submerged and barely alive in a gator infested swamp. He'd been shot several times, once in the forehead, and left for gator bait. Small town doctors in a nearby hospital keep Dougllas alive, but doubt he'll ever function consciously again. They've underestimated their patient. Dougllas wakes up, fully functional and rambling about the murders. Director Holloway is notified by the local sheriff that their missing agent is alive and talking. Dougllas can describe each murder in vivid detail and insists he was present at all nine murders. But how?

The search for his look-alike assassin is personal for Dougllas. With the help of his partner Samantha Foxx and a couple friends in low places, he figures out why congressmen are being murdered and sets out to protect those remaining on the hit list. The bullet in his head causes blinding headaches, but it also provides frightening dreams and visions into the assassin's world. From Louisiana, to Washington D.C., to India Dougllas trails the predator determined to kill his way to the highest office in America. And that anonymous perpetrator of mayhem? That one came as a complete surprise.

This suspense thriller has everything to keep readers intrigued: a witty, unconventional hero; an exciting plot that delivers non-stop action from beginning to end; a seemingly unstoppable villain; and a couple beautiful women vying to domesticate the loose cannon. This one would make an explosive movie. Think Bourne, or the Bruce Willis version of The Jackal, then multiply by ten and you'll have an idea of what the movie version of COMA would be.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Nancy's Bookshelf

The Great Tea Rooms of Britain
Bruce Richardson, Photography by John Gentry
Benjamin Press
205 East Fourth St., Perryville, Kentucky 40468
9780979343117, $24.95 (859) 332-2400

The Great Tea Rooms of Britain is a beautiful coffee (or tea) table edition compiling scrumptious descriptions and color photographs of twenty-two of Britain's finest tea rooms. Along with some detailed history, each chapter suggests several walking tours or short drives nearby that will round out the tea itinerary quite nicely. Locations include London, Scotland, Bath, the Lake district, and more. A handy list of tea room addresses, web sites and phone numbers will help the visitor to plan ahead and make reservations where necessary. Last but not least, a lovely collection of recipes completes the book, with measurements adapted to American standard usage. Whether the reader is a determined, experienced traveler or an armchair dreamer, The Great Tea Rooms of Britain is sure to enchant and enrich. You can almost smell the tea brewing and the scones baking!

Laura Ingalls Wilder: Farm Journalist: Writings From the Ozarks
edited by Stephen W. Hines
University of Missouri Press
2910 LeMone Boulevard, Columbia, MO 65201
9780826217714, $34.95 (573) 882-9672

Laura Ingalls Wilder: Farm Journalist is a collection of nonfiction essays written by the famous author of the "Little House " books for The Missouri Ruralist between 1911 and 1924. Complementing and extending the earlier collection of articles titled Little House in the Ozarks, this edition includes an additional forty-two articles and additional material omitted from the earlier collection. Laura wrote her articles addressed to contemporary farm women, making many philosophical and practical suggestions and observations pertinent to their daily life experiences. Her presence as an author is unmistakable. Much of the information pertaining to her years of experience as a Missouri farm wife finds roots in her pioneer history. Her values emerge clear and solid from the minutiae of daily chore lists and how-to suggestions. Her refreshing voice lends its clarity across the generations of technological advancement and finds its niche comfortably. This is a carefully edited collection that will appeal to lovers of the "Little House" books and American turn -of -the- century history too. The skillful adaptation to changing social and political environments while nurturing a stable base of beliefs and values is unique to this beloved author. Highly recommended reading for adults.

Christmas Teas of Comfort and Joy
Emilie Barnes
Paintings by Susan Rios
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736922296, $13.99,

"Christmas Teas of Comfort and Joy" is a delightful, dainty collection of six different suggestions for Christmas teas, each complete with menu, recipes, crafts, stories and related traditions. Wonderful fanciful paintings in full color entice the reader throughout the chapters and illustrate the ideal tea parties. "Christmas Teas of Comfort and Joy" is meant to be a gift book, but it surely could also be a soul-comforting gift to oneself. As comforting as a steaming hot pot of tea on a cold blustery day, "Christmas Teas of Comfort and Joy" is sure to please. Complete with handy green ribbon bookmark, it will put the reader in a festive frame of mind.

The Origin of The Milky Way and Other Living Stories of the Cherokee
Barbara R. Duncan, editor
Shan Goshorn, illustrator
University of North Carolina Press
116 South Boundary St., Chapel Hill, NC 27514-3808
9780807859308, $12.95,

"The Origin of the Milky Way" is a collection of 26 Cherokee stories told by Davy Arch, Robert Bushyhead, Edna Chekelelee, Marie Junaluska, Kathi Littlejohn, and Freeman Owl. The stories are written as they were told by the Cherokee storytellers, so they read like poetry. The rhythms of English can sound like the Cherokee language if the stories are read aloud as they are written. The stories are divided into seven groups or chapters: Living with People, Living with Animals, Living with Plants and the Earth, Living with Spirits, Living with Monsters, Living with the Cherokee Language, and Living with the Past and Future. Some of the stories are intended to teach ways of getting along with others, while others such as The Trail of Tears teach of historical events experienced by the Cherokees.

A fascinating chapter on the Cherokee language tells of the syllabary invented by Sequoyah, a gifted Cherokee. The story of the Origin of the Milky Way is written first in English, then in phonetic Cherokee, and finally in Sequoyah's syllabary. The importance of continuing to teach the living Cherokee language as a unique cultural heritage is emphasized. The Cherokee language is related to the language spoken by the Iroquois of upper New York State and the Great Lakes region. To further aid the reader's enjoyment of the stories and learning about the Cherokee people, the book has a glossary, map of Cherokee lands, timeline of Cherokee history, and suggested further reading resources.

The charming black and white illustrations also enhance the story chapters. Also available in a hardcover format (9780807832196, $19.95), "The Origin of the Milky Way" can be enjoyed as a delightful collection of tales to instruct children, but it is really much more than that. It contains a living history of a proud nation of very gifted people.

A New Theatre
Tyrone Guthrie, with foreward by Joe Dowling
University of Minnesota Press
111 Third Avenue South, Suite 290, Minneapolis, MN 55401 612-627-1970
9780816653607 $15.95

Now in a newly updated and expanded edition, "A New Theatre" is a fascinating description of the founding and launching of the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1963. Written by the great director himself, "A New Theatre" traces the four year (and longer) process of investigating appropriate communities, seeking building coalitions with business and philanthropic theatre supporters, and designing, building and successfully opening one of the most notable American regional repertory theatres to date. Full of pungent witticisms and underlying humor, "A New Theatre" expands the reader's awareness of the importance of classical theater in American, or indeed any culture. Perhaps today it is difficult to imagine the magnitude of the undertaking of creating a viable, artistically rigorous classic repertory theater in the Upper Midwest of the early 60's. "A New Theatre" reminds us of some of the ground that was broken in this stunning pioneer effort. A foreword by Joe Dowling, present Artistic Director of the Guthrie, explains that the theater's latest reincarnation, a wonderful new complex on the Mississippi River, has evolved into a place where "Future generations of actors, directors, and writers will have ideal conditions to create and develop their work, and the beautiful audience facilities combined with the iconic architecture of Jean Nouvel will maintain and even enhance the Guthrie's ability to attract both local and national support (p. 6)." Hence the present need for retelling the story of the beginning of the Guthrie in the words of its founder, Sir Tyrone Guthrie himself.

Included in the chapter on Rehearsals and Opening are black and white photos of the early company, even volunteers organizing to support the Guthrie, and amazing reviews of the opening productions of "Hamlet" and "The Miser" and others, from 1963. Life was not all strawberries and cream and roses for the early company. Certain reviewers seemed to need to make their aim to denigrate rather than to digest. Nevertheless, the Theatre began to thrive. I was fortunate enough to live in the area in the early 60's and I remember well attending the 1963 productions of "Hamlet," "The Miser," and "Death of a Salesman." My mother was determined that we should all benefit from this wonderful new cultural opportunity that we were beginning here in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I loved it all.

"A New Theatre" is both a chronicle of an amazing cultural undertaking and a salute to a glorious beginning that continues to prosper and grow today. It has great appeal to both the nostalgic audience whose memories it touches, and new audiences whose present experience is informed and enhanced by it. It is also a very entertaining book to read. I close with one of Guthrie's favorite statements to his actors: "Astonish me in the morning!" What a legacy this is to us all!

Northern Treasure
Susan Davis Price
Photographs by John Gregor
Afton Historical Society Press
PO Box 100, Afton, MN 55001
9781890434779, $40.00,, 800-436-8443

"Northern Treasure: The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and Horticultural Research Center" tells the incredible story of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and Horticultural Research Center, famous for the origin of the 'Wealthy' and 'Honeycrisp' apples and many other beautiful flowers, plants, and trees.

Filled with lush color photographs of the Arboretum gardens in each of the dramatically contrasting four seasons Minnesota is famous for, "Northern Treasure" more than fulfills its mission to celebrate and chronicle the 50th anniversary of the Arboretum and the 100th anniversary of the Horticultural Research Center. Tribute is paid to past directors of the Center and Arboretum, and historical black and white photographs of the beginning fruit tree breeding farm are interwoven with the text. "Northern Treasures" is both a magnificent testimonial and a tasteful coffee table gift to any lover of nature's beauty. Perhaps its legacy is best appreciated in a world where restful scenic gardens are becoming rare experiences.

As an aside, I am descended from a neighbor of the original pioneer fruit breeder and founder, Peter Gideon. My great great grandfather was Henry Stubbs of Stubbs Bay, on Lake Minnetonka. I remember reading a radio play written by my uncle, Don Stubbs, that told the story of the beginning of the Wealthy apple as seen through the eyes of his pioneer Quaker neighbor farmer. I particularly enjoyed the early historical photographs and contributions of "Northern Treasure." It also should motivate residents and vacationers to visit the beautiful Arboretum and gardens, located 9 miles west of I-494 on Hwy. 5 in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

Nancy Lorraine

Shelley's Bookshelf

Blink of an Eye
Tom Mitcheltree
Intrigue Press
PO Box 102003, 1310 S. Washington St., Denver, CO 80210
1890768537 $24.95/CAN $36.95

Tom Mitcheltree lives in Woodburn, Oregon, where he spent his career teaching English, writing, and theater to both high school and community college students. His prior books include the award-winning KATIE'S WILL, TERROR IN ROOM 201, DATAMAN, MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS, and KATIE'S GOLD.

Grant Reynolds has had an interesting career in military intelligence, as a cop, then a homicide detective, and most recently has graduated from Harvard Law School with honors. Because of a confrontation with a troubled teen, who threatened him with a knife, he has a death on his conscience. His trouble-shooting past hasn't helped him deal with the nightmares, so he takes a job in Paris as an FBI field representative in the Foreign Service. He has to hit the ground running, as an old nemesis of his has committed a high profile murder of two highly placed young adults:

"'Inspector,' Grant said. 'This was a professional hit. You'll find that each of the victims has a third wound to the head, administered through the soft palate in the mouth. This is a signature tap. You'll find that the killer has a file with Interpol. He's known as 'the Assassin,' and he has perhaps thirty or more hits attributed to him.'"

It's fun to read about a mystery written in another country, especially one as romantic as Paris. Mitcheltree's Grant Reynolds is not only brilliant and sensitive, but his great looks qualify him as an Indiana Jones type of character. The story drips with glamour from the first page. Mitcheltree is careful to juxtapose the dark attributes of 'the Assassin' in alternating chapters from the emerging love affair between Reynolds and his office mate. To make the plot even more delectable, a third woman from Reynold's past plays a crucial role in the plot.

BLINK OF AN EYE refers to the fragile fabric of life, and Mitcheltree sets up his story so that this theme runs through his exciting and exotic plot. Even though foreign diplomacy can be tedious, Grant Reynolds makes it sexy with his mere presence. This is a page-turning, well researched, fast-paced thriller, impossible to put down.

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch
Shelly Fredman
Aquinas & Krone Publishing, LLC
9780980044812 $12.95

Shelly Fredman teaches elementary students, loves chocolate, and lives in Santa Monica, California. She published a young adult novel entitled CREEPS before starting on her Brandy Alexander series. NO SUCH THINGS AS A FREE LUNCH is the third novel in the series, following NO SUCH THING AS A SECRET and NO SUCH THING AS A GOOD BLIND DATE.

Shelly Fredman's latest effort in the Brandy Alexander series continues Brandy Alexander's particular type of action. Brandy is now ensconced as a fluff reporter for TV station WINN, where her co-workers pointedly hate her, no doubt for her past triumphs as an amateur sleuth. Only Tamra Rhineholt, a hard news investigator who had worked at the station for about a year, makes any attempt to be friendly to Brandy. They share a disturbing lunch that is interrupted by Tamra's jealous husband, until Brandy finds her dead body in her bathtub. Was it suicide or murder? Time will tell, but in the meantime Brandy is emotional drained from prior escapades, is confused about her love life, and crashes about, making for hilarious internal dialogue:

"Nick leaned over to give me a friendly peck on the cheek, and I took a wobbly step back, knocking into the busboy. The busboy teetered backwards, flapping his hands in a futile attempt to catch the falling plates. They made a sickening crash when they hit the tile floor.

'Um, sorry.'

God, this couldn't be any more humiliating. Oh wait. It could. Nick's date joined us behind the tree. Please don't introduce us, oh please don't introduce us."

As always, Fredman has her finger on the pulse. Brandy Alexander is a lovable ditz who tends to leap before she looks. She has two gorgeous men pursuing her, and their involvement is central to the plot. Brandy careens from one situation to the next, making for constant action, combined with frenzied near misses as Brandy stubbornly pursues the killer. Brandy's self-talk keeps the reader in hysterics, even as she puts it all on the line for people she loves. Her own discomfort with emotional issues promises more Brandy escapades in the future. This reviewer can't wait for the next segment!

She Shall Have Murder
Delano Ames
The Rue Morgue Press
87 Lone Tree Lane, Lyons, CO 80540
9781601870179 $14.95

Delano Ames was born in Mt. Vernon, Ohio in 1906. His father worked at the local newspaper, and his mother was a descendent of the Mayflower settlers. His great-grandfather was Interior Secretary to President Grant. He also had ties to FDR, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Ulysses S. Grant, Conrad Aiken, and Alan Shepard. The family moved to New Mexico in 1917, then Ames moved to Greenwich Village upon his first marriage. He later moved to England and married a second time. He worked for British Intelligence during the day and took part in the North Africa invasion in 1942. He eventually ended up back in New Mexico, but traveled between London, Paris, and an "unspoiled Spanish village." He eschewed work, but managed to publish a considerable body of work during his lifetime.

Although sleuthing couples were rare in the literature of the time, Delano Ames created the British detecting couple Dagobert Brown and Jane Hamish. SHE SHALL HAVE MURDER is their first escapade, and interestingly enough it takes place in the law office where Jane works. One of their elderly female clients dies suddenly of a supposed accidental death by gas. Dagobert and Jane are both skeptical, and they embark on their first full scale sleuthing exercise:

"'Meet me at the corner of Church Street in three minutes,' he said. And he rang off to avoid argument.

I was at the corner of Church Street in three minutes.

He said hello briefly and tucked my arm through his. He strode along so quickly I had to take two steps to his one, and he didn't say anything. We entered Kensington Gardens. We had them to ourselves, for it was a grim day. We found a deserted bench and for the first time Dagobert spoke.

'Jane,' he said quietly and without a trace of his usual enthusiasm, 'I'm afraid Mrs. Robjohn was murdered after all.'"

It is always a pleasure to read The Rue Morgue Press mysteries. They take us back to another genteel, in many ways more intelligent, time. Delano Ames creates an easy camaraderie between Jane and Dagobert, making for an easy, elegant whodunit.

A Complex Solution
Kurt Gerstner
Gulotta Communications, Inc.
341 Lexington St., Newton, MA 02466
9781420837889 $18.95

Kurt Gerstner is a trial lawyer who pledged Sigma Chi Fraternity while an underclassman. He has remained a lifetime member, and continues his career in law. A COMPLEX SOLUTION is his first novel. He has made it his mission to improve some of the negative stereotypes regarding the Greek system.

In this charming sleeper freshman Jerry Taylor pledges Sigma Epsilon Chi fraternity in his first semester in college. He faces all of the "coming of age" issues that most young adults during their trek to college: sexual initiation; trying new things; dealing with burned out faculty who have outlived their usefulness; and the challenges of close living without the advantages of a clean house and regular meals. Almost immediately Jerry is pegged as a double to a rather nasty research assistant who goes missing, even as Jerry is assigned to impersonate him in a public place. Jerry finds his body and decides that the local and campus police need a little assistance sleuthing:

"'Well, the newspaper says it was a suicide. The police will investigate it and if it's not they'll figure it out. It's none of our business,' Waldo said with a tone of finality in his voice. But while it might not be any of his business, I was concerned that my little impersonation of Percy Jordan might lead the police back to me. If it turns out that it wasn't suicide, then I might be thought of as a suspect for impersonating him. Maybe they'd think that I did that to cover up the murder and keep it from being discovered longer?"

Kurt Gerstner's writing style is crisp and entertaining, with just enough wit to make A COMPLEX SOLUTION extremely entertaining reading. Almost anyone who has attended college can relate to the setting. He comes up with some truly evil characters to trip up Jerry Taylor. Jerry himself is an intelligent innocent, and his parents' loving concern and cluelessness increase the enjoyment of this common rite of passage. Gerstner feels strongly about his quest to improve the stereotype of the Greek system, and is quite successful in highlighting its benefits. But he still retains enough of a sense of humor to give the reader a pretty good idea of the pitfalls. A COMPLEX SOLUTION is a good whodunit with a satisfying denouement.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Skinny Dipping with the Savior
Eric B. Blackwell
PO Box 254, Matteson, IL 60443
0615178952 $14.95

I knew as I began reading this work by author, Eric Blackwell, that it would be a pleasant read, and it was.

Our author has written this work to help followers of the Lord draw nearer to Him, in a more personal way. He gently explains basics of God, and His Word. He speaks of the Holy Spirit, prayer, your relationship with the Lord, and love, to name just a few subjects. He shares the Word of God in relation to the topics and explains how they are beneficial to a believer and why.
I definitely felt the love of God within the pages of this book.

The tenderness and true heart of the author shone through, and I could sense his deep desire to help others through the Word of God. This is a wonderful book to give to a new Christian, or a Christian of any age in the Lord. It will definitely help them to understand God's Word in more fullness and will help them with their daily walk. Well done Mr. Blackwell.

William Is Going Green
James Martin II with James Martin III
Dream Liaison, L.L.C
244-14 Jericho Turnpike, Floral Park, NY 11001
9780979946516 $14.95

In this work our author takes a very important step in helping to educate our youngsters' in environmental awareness. William, the garbage truck, is fired from his job because he is too loud and smoky. William is very upset and tries to get a job elsewhere but finds out he needs to have a new hybrid engine and he just does not have the money for it. What is he going to do?

Things turn around for William when he does an act of kindness and is rewarded. William is once again doing his job, but this time he is 'in the green.'

This is a great little book. The illustrations are very colorful and definitely bring the story to life. The storyline does two things. One, it teaches the children the importance of thinking about our environment and making changes to help protect it. Second, it shows them that a kindness shown to another often results in others being kind to us. All in all a real winner and I am proud to recommend it to readers big and small.

A Case For Vengeance
J.P. Brennan
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd. - 515, Parker, Colorado 80134
9781432705770 $12.95

Evan Moore is just an average man. Although he would like to be more, and even dreams of such, his life is about as boring as you can get. Unmarried, Evan longs for a relationship of true love, adventure and some meaning to his life. His dream was about to become true and send him on the ride of a lifetime in this work by author, J.P. Brennan.

Evan finally takes his dream trip to Rome, and while walking down the streets he takes a picture of the tourists. Unbeknown to him, he also has taken a picture of some very dangerous men.
Molotov is one of them, a mercenary who enjoys killing probably more than anything in life. This man has a package of diamonds that El-Qaida had big plans for, mainly to purchase suitcase bombs to destroy targets in the United States. These men hunt Evan down believing that he must know their plot. Evan hides in a woman's home and falls madly in love with her. Now Evan is thrust into a once in a lifetime love, and a fight for their very lives. However, it is one that will bring him great loss. A fight where Evan realizes each breath he takes may well be his last.
"A Case For Vengeance," is a very good read. The author definitely brings his characters to life in full description. At times you can almost smell the fear and hate of the moment, or the compassion and love of another moment. The emotions of the characters definitely raged through the words written as the story unfolded.

His local descriptions were good as well, and gave the mind an excellent picture of where the action was taking place.

This is a fast moving read, captivating, and intense at times. Also unsettling as it brings to mind the battle that is surely still raging beneath the calm of the moment in our world. Perhaps we indeed need reminding. Thought provoking!

Very well written, a tight storyline, and very believable characters.

Arrival of The Prince
James Rutledge
Author House Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
1434370364 $16.95

I always love to read books on the 'End of Times,' so I was quite happy to be presented this read. As I began this one I wondered how the author would present this story and I was absolutely impressed by the telling of his tale. As we begin the read we find that ancient stone tablets are found, some dating back thirty thousand years.

However, the tablets and their place of discovery, brim with not only mystery, but death and destruction for many who have the misfortune to encounter them.

We meet Doctor Law and Doctor Myla de Naci, who work together to find out the meaning of the writings on the stones. What they discover is mind-boggling as they uncover a genetic war between God and Satan.However, this couple does not know that their very lives are intertwined in the greatest war mankind has ever known.

And indeed they are key players in what is about to unfold.

I love Revelations and I totally enjoy reading works about the end-of-times, and I have to say that this author weaved a story that took us on this journey with a twist that you would never imagine. It is definitely good versus evil, but in this book author, James Rutledge, uses modern science to weave together the age old story that one day will play itself out. The twist he throws in this adventure is definitely something you would have never thought you'd encounter. I applaud this author for his use of DNA discovery in this read. Perhaps we are seeing a little tad of Quantum science being injected into the spiritual?

All in all, this book is one block-buster read. He forms the characters in the mind's eye with great description, giving us both physical and emotional attributes, that allow you to merge with them, and almost walk in their shoes, if you will. I loved this book and the ending I believe is merely the beginning of yet another story in the making. Very well done. Recommended.

Free Mind, Free Body
D.R. Boisse
New Times Unlimited
9780981615400 $19.95

Our author, D.R. Boisse, was very blessed to have a family that encouraged him to better himself in life at whatever he chose to do. Mr. Boisse took this advise and thankfully ran with it to not only help himself, but help others.

In this work you will learn how your mind can be used for you or against you. You will learn how to enhance the positive feelings and downplay the negative, and how important this is to your success in life and more important, to your happiness. Think about this one question. If someone says something negative about you, do you dwell on that statement and allow it to consume your thought life?

In a way the information reminds me of the Bible verse that says, "As a man thinketh, so is he." (Proverbs 23:7). Just what do you think of yourself, how often do you allow negative thoughts to consume you and take away valuable hours of your life? Perhaps your own thoughts have kept you from achieving your full potential in life.

I liked this book. The author is clear, concise, and brings his point home. He writes with compassion and understanding and I feel a genuine desire to see the reader's life improve. Very well done, very interesting. Recommended.

Everyday Cat Excuses
Molly Brandenburg
Sterling Publishing Co.
387 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016
9781402759031 $7.95

In this book by author, Molly Brandenburg, we are taken into the world of a cat, yes you read that right, and what an interesting world it is. At least to our little kitty that is. It seems that our kitty wants us to understand why they simply cannot do what we want them to, after all they have important business to take care of. Like what you say? Let's see. How about deciding if they want to go out, or stay in. Or if you want the real inside scoop, they are too busy having deep thoughts on such things as lint, dust, mice and yarn, while they chew on their squeaky toy. Their life is just filled with so many exciting activities that they cannot imagine how you could expect them to do what you want. Busy kitty.

This is a cute little book for all cat lovers who I am sure will recognize each and every activity that our little cat lets us in on. The illustrations are simple, but definitely bring the cats informative words to life. I'm afraid it is true. Your cat definitely has a mind of his own and you can be assured, he will use it. And if you didn't understand why your cat simply will not do what you want him to do, this book will definitely enlighten you. By the way, my 9-year old granddaughter loved this book, and giggled her way through it.

The Mind of a Genius
David Snowdon
Pentergen Books
Croydon, CRO 4TD, Great Britain
9780955265013 $14.95

Malcom Prince, a British scientist, has died leaving behind something that men are willing to kill for. What is it? A project that will change the world. The stakes are high as our players take their places in this quick paced espionage read. We have Jason Clay, a James Bond type man, good looks with great appeal to women, trying to seduce the widow of Malcom to find out the secret.

We also have the CIA, whose agents definitely have some conflicts to deal with within their own group before they will even get out of the ring in the race for the project. We have a creepy little evil dwarf man, who definitely thinks he is, as the kids say, 'all that,' adding some spice to the read. Merge these characters with organized crime lords and you have quite an interesting mix, all of them after one goal, the project that will change the world.

Author David Snowdon has written an adventurous mystery. He does a great job interweaving the characters, both good and bad, and leaving the reader wondering just what this project is about and who will end up with the grand prize. He also puts some personal touches in, which I enjoyed. Emotions of the characters and happenings in their lives play a part of bringing the story more depth. If you like the works of such as Ian Fleming - James Bond type story - or any mystery espionage, you will love this book. Good character development, locals, and story development. All in all, a good read.

In The Woods
Tana French
375 Hudson Avenue, New York, NY 10014
0143114496 $14.00

I was really drawn into this book when I learned that two children had disappeared and were never found. I desperately wanted to know what happened to them and why our main character, who was the third child in the group, but the one who got away, who had no memory of what happened. Oh that was good, what a way to start a book.

As we travel along we learn that our character is now grown, and a police detective who is investigating a murder that has taken place in the exact woods where his friends disappeared. Of course this caused much dismay to our character and he wondered could the two in someway be related. I waited wondering myself.

The author took us back and forth from the one mystery to the other. The story retold of both and different witnesses from the present and the past are interviewed. Tension mounted, but how did it conclude? Were both mysteries solved? I won't tell you, but I have to say I needed it to end a little different than it did.

I feel the characters were well defined, the mysteries were intense and drawing. The police work interesting and the writing very good. I just didn't like the ending and felt some what frustrated by it, but I did indeed enjoy the author's writing and the story up until the ending.

Angels That Gather
Paul Keith Davis
Dove Company
PO Box 1634, Orange Beach, AL 36561
9780979480201 $14.95

I have heard it said that indeed there is a stirring in the land. Whispers that something is happening, something that all creation seems to be responding to. But what is it? Could the answer be in the Word of God, and could it be possible that the Bible is true? Are the words spoken by Jesus and the prophets coming to pass? If so, many questions arise, such as, how should we react? What indeed is and will happen? Is this the beginning or the end? Just where are we going and why?

In this new book by author, Paul Keith Davis, we are taken on a spiritual journey. A journey that will help us understand where we have been, where we are traveling, and our final destination. Through this work we see that this is an exciting journey, and one every Christian needs to take, but one that surely must be led by the Holy Spirit, and walked with wisdom. It is wisdom that you will find inside the pages of this outstanding book.

Our author carefully begins his work revealing where the church of the Lord Jesus has traveled, the outbreaks of revival, the men and women used, and the spiritual significance of it for believers of this time-frame. I loved how he shows the works of different men whom the Lord has touched and used, and the anointing they were under, then carries it to us, our time, our generation, and explains how these same anointing will be released. How exciting!
He gives us a picture of where we should be as Christians, giving understanding to "End-Time Impartations," and the importance of knowing our heritage and God's plan for mankind, and each of us as individuals for the days ahead. His insight into these areas are wonderful and easily captured as you share the revelation brought forth.

The book is packed with instruction, giving in-depth understanding to the reader as he shares such topics as, "Divine Revelations," and "Qualification For Duty." Within these pages author, Paul Keith Davis, helps us as Christians check our own walk so we may make corrections and move with the Spirit of The Lord. Definitely something we all need to do, especially in the day we live. He shares the revelations and visions that the Lord has given to him in so many areas. This was absolutely wonderful, and kept me glued to the pages of this enlightened book. He tells of the "Angels That Gather," angels that have been sent to the earth to help us in these endtimes. He explains their purpose and how we are to work with them to help bring in the harvest. Fascinating!

I have to say there is so much revelation and information in this book that I could never do it justice in one small review. It is a book that surely has been sent from the Master Himself to help His children in these latter days. My heart skipped a beat when our author talked about being a friend of Jesus. His words were like honey and brought such a desire to my spirit to be a friend of our Lord. Truly, that is the ultimate desire of my heart, how about yours?

I can't recommend this book highly enough for every Christian who is yearning to know more about the Glory of our Lord, the times we are living in, and the days ahead. I have read very few books that give the revelation this one does. Revelation that will definitely help you to become the child of God you were ordained to be. Open your heart and embrace this book for it is this reviewers opinion that in the coming days the knowledge and revelation in this book could well be life-saving, and certainly life-changing.

Thank you, Paul Keith Davis, for your obedience to our Lord and for giving us such an outstanding book, full of wisdom truly from the Master's hand.

The Amnesiac
Sam Taylor
Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
978014311409 $14.00

I have to say as I began this read I wasn't quite sure where it was going. I met James Purdew, a young man who definitely had a dark secret in his life that he desperately needed to expel, but what was it? Three years of his life are missing, what darkness is there to be found? When James returns to England from Amsterdam he finds himself employed fixing-up an old house, but one that holds a key to his own past. We have a phone ringing that no one may answer, visions, real or unreal, dark figured people all whirling around James. Finding an old manuscript that talks of a murder, James wonders is this fiction or is it part of himself. James begins to write his own memoirs in hopes of finding the memory he has lost.

I found this read to be difficult, yet entertaining. Illusive, yet drawing. The reader has to know why James stopped 'remembering,' what horror caused his mind to withdraw, and what part does this house and the found manuscript play in that discovery? A creative, twisted tale, with characters and events that at times are chilling yet fascinating. Thriller mystery readers will truly enjoy this work. One of a kind.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Schrodinger's Universe
Milo Wolff
Technotran Press
c/o Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd -515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432719791, $15.95,

The vast universe is the final frontier for science to figure out. "Schrodinger's Universe: Einstein, Waves, & The Origin of the Natural Laws" is an explanation of one of Albert Einstein's contemporary theories about everything that surrounds us – the universe itself. Milo Wolff organizes Schrodinger's theories and ideas through the book, breaking them down into detailed chapters accessible to readers of all backgrounds. "Schrodinger's Universe" is a must for anyone considering all views in their own personal quest for understanding the universe.

The Cyclops Hammer
Dale Patrick Myers
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd – 515, Parker, CO 80134
1598005537, $12.95,

A novel about a different sort of September 11th, "The Cyclops Hammer" follows Salvatore Lagomarsino as every day seems to be the same for him. He dreams of his death to a flood under extreme stress, a nightmare he views as a prophecy. A series of events begin to confirm his fears when he joins a terrorist organization, and on September 11th, the first day of the new year on the Julian calendar, the nightmare appears to become a reality. An intriguing tale all the way through, "The Cyclops Hammer" is a great read for fans of literary fiction.

Heart Tears of a Unicorn
Pararu Quamato, author
Sandra Gideos, artist
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781434378439, $34.99,

Author Pararu Quamato offers a unique and vivid fantasy adventure in "Heart Tears of a Unicorn". Putting readers in the shoes of Coda as she travels through a fantastic land, the story is vivid and engrossing all the way through; Coda faces off against an evil creature in a heart-stopping climax. With charming artwork from Sandra Gideos, "Heart Tears of a Unicorn" is a prime pick for fans of the genre. Also highly recommended is "Merdale the Beginning", the prequel to "Heart Tears of a Unicorn".

Norma Brody
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781419687259, $10.99,

The best man doesn't always win. "Legacy: The Life of Nikola Tesla" is an examination of Tesla's important contributions to modern science, even though in life he was constantly overshadowed by Thomas Edison. Tesla's inventions became components of many of today's essential technologies such as radar, wireless technology, alternating current, and more. A well informed look at a man who shouldn't be forgotten just because he wasn't the better businessman, "Legacy: The Life of Nikola Tesla" is a must for anyone interested in the human behind the science.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

The Declaration of White Independence
Kyle McDermott
Book Surge
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781419686023, $17.76,

The seed of the universe is the big bang, says Kyle McDermott in "The Declaration of White Independence: The Founding Documents of Transudationism". An explanation of this view which holds that all of current humanity and life on Earth today was intentionally set in motion all those billions of years ago, "The Declaration of White Independence" probes matters of cosmological significance with straightforward candor and accessibility. Featuring intriguing concepts and ideas, "The Declaration of White Independence" is highly recommended for metaphysical studies shelves.

You Can't Win If You Don't Enter
Carolyn Wilman
Imagination Edge
1984 Valewood Court, Oshawa ON, L1G 7X9
9781419689697, $19.95,

Most people write off lotteries as unwinnable wastes of money – but could there be more to it? "You Can't Win If You Don't Enter" is written by a self-declared contest queen who has won tens of thousands of dollars annually simply by entering contests. With loads of advice on how to enter every contest and improves one's odds of winning so much that the unwinnable becomes winnable, "You Can't Win If You Don't Enter" is a must for anyone who wants to try their hand at beating the odds for a change.

Fatal Faux-Pas
Samuel C. Gaskin
Secret Acres
75-22 37th Avenue, #452, Jackson Heights, NY 11372
9780979960901, $10.00,

Offbeat, quirky, and hilarious are just three adjectives that can be used to describe "Fatal Faux-Pas". Samuel C. Gaskin's collection of drawings is a non-stop assault on one's funny bone as he viciously lampoons society with simple yet effective art and prose. "Fatal Faux-Pas" is a must for anyone looking for a good laugh.

Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Plunges into Music
Bathroom Reader's Institute
PO Box 1117, Ashland, OR 97520
9781592238248, $17.95,

People spend a lot of time answering nature's call. "Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Plunges Into Music" enriches the time spent clearing out one's body by filling one's mind with intriguing trivia, facts, and history about the world of music. Covering all genres from rap to hard rock, "Plunges into Music" is an intriguing collection sure to make the time spent on one's throne pass smoothly. Highly recommended.

Paul T. Vogel

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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