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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 6, Number 2 February 2007 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Bogstad's Bookshelf Cowper's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf
Kaveny's Bookshelf Klausner's Bookshelf Laurel's Bookshelf
Shelley's Bookshelf Shirley's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf
Vogel's Bookshelf    

Bogstad's Bookshelf

Flynn, Michael
Tor/Forge Publicity
1403 Flatiron Building
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765300966 $25.95 1-888-330-8477

History revised: Remote and Recent

Flynn here offers us a most recent novel in a mode somewhat unusual for him. Flynn takes us much further back, to the currently popular era of the Black Death 600 years in the past but both afford us an arresting revision of many contemporary assumptions about human nature.

Flynn tells a convoluted historical tale. His plot is set work in two eras. The first is current time in which partners and lovers, a male and a female are, respectively, historian and physicist. Is assertion is that only because they lived and worked in proximity, and sometimes talked to each other about their work, were they able to solve an historical mystery. The ‘modern' pieces are revised from work he published as a short story, one about a historian who is researching the disappearance of a city in what will be present day Germany.

The city Oberhochwald suffered more than depopulation due to the Black Death. It seemed to have disappeared altogether, and his research suggested alien-first contact, and as a side note, the possible explanation for some of the more peculiar Gargoyles on European churches dating from the 14th century. In the novel, he adds the ‘backstory', largely as it occurs in 1348-9 in the middle of the plague years, explaining how Oberhochwald become Eifelheim, a place that was razed to the ground, and that ground avoided up into the 21st century.

Immersed in questions of church doctrine, his hero, Father Deitrich lives in this small village as he is escaping the possible punishment for supporting earlier peasant rebellions in the face of church sanctions. Yet his sympathies for the plight of the downtrodden lead him to the support of an odd band of ‘strangers' who look like big grasshoppers, operate within a genetically class-based cultural form, and are, in some cases, fascinated by his religion. Yet Deitrich cannot prevent tragedy for their little band of intergalactic castaways any more than he can for the village which houses them, or the bodies and souls of those aliens who choose religious conversion.

One cannot say that this is exactly a romp through the 14th century, but the flavor of village life, the internal conflicts Oberhochwald's people, the abuse, the unfaithfulness of wives and husbands, the crises of faith and the sympathies of kind women all enrich the sort of ‘what if' scenario that could easily become cliched. Flynn is known for his careful historical and scientific scenarios. In this novel, his present-day protagonist employs state-of-the-art research but also conveys the now-familiar persona of someone who can almost live in the past. His partner, a brilliant, impatient young woman, escapes the everyday into physics theories of alternative universes. But it is perhaps the drama of the aliens, whose bodies cannot achieve nourishment on earth, that is the most compelling element of the narrative. They are at once rendered not very human and human enough to arouse pathos in the 14th century humans around them and the 21st century humans who uncover their existence. As usually, Flynn's content and form render his work both engaging and engrossing.

This work should be read for the kind of defamiliarizing vision that allows us to rethink contemporary and historical understanding of deep moral questions. Which beings possess souls worth saving and cherishing? Can we sacrifice any beings in order to valorize others? How do we halt the onset of horrors like plague, and war? What is the value of one person's efforts? So one can read the novel for the mystery and art but one enjoys it for the thoughts it provokes.

The Wreck of the River of Stars
Michael Flynn
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765300990 $27.95 1-888-330-8477

While trading in Middle System out past Jupiter, the aging craft, The River of Stars, is plagued by a tragedy of errors. For years, she's courted crisis, surviving on a shoestring budget, minimal supplies and equipment, carrying whatever cargo and passengers are to be had. Captain Hand has assembled a crew of misfits introduced first by their work designations. This is largely a novel of character. Ship's ghosts, human and otherwise, also play a central role. Hand is soon one of the ghosts, joining the list of dead mates and enemies and the long lost years of elegant travel under the outdated ‘magnetic sails' of the ship's ‘glory days'.

A series of technical failures might be overcome or prevented by a functional crew. Instead nostalgia and personal triumphs or failures from the past control their actions. Previously managed by Hand, the crew's flaws are destructive under his successor, the self-absorbed First Officer Gorgas. Two of the four ‘new' Farnsworth engines malfunction and there is barely enough time, material or people to repair them. Precious resources are cannibalized in an ill-conceived attempt to also ‘resurrect' the magnetic sails. The ships navigational systems can't account for the sails, resulting in costly course corrections.

Flynn layers the personalities and disasters in this complicated story with his usual attention to detail. One can find the precise, if understated, point at which this or that tragedy could have been avoided and who was at fault. Finally, it is inevitable that no one is making reasonable decisions. The sum is a sad but fascinating series of character studies and explosive (literally) group dynamics in an arena where technology is critical to human life.

Flynn is a very accomplished writer, capable of creating both a detailed and a fast-paced story. This book includes many technological references, both to ‘future' technologies provided in very realistic detail and to the science behind them. There are many mysteries about characters, their relationships past and present, the physical sources of disasters and the crews' many oversights and errors. But each of these is eventually ‘tied up' with an explanation that emerges usually in a conversation about something else. For example, we find out why the cable on the magnetic sail was cut by engineer Bhatterji several chapters after it has killed another unsuspecting crewmember. And like many other tragedies in this story it is the result of inattention and lack of communication rather than outright maliciousness.

Each of the characters is fascinating as a study of fortitude but also of self-destructive tendencies. In fact, this is one of the best pictures of ‘office politics' gone awry that I've read in a long time. The infighting and blind spots are so typical of many human organizations that most readers will experience a little deja-vu, despite the alternative time-space of the actual events. The mysteries keep the reader's attention as much as the technical details of the ship's history and problems. On the other hand, while the work as a whole is very enjoyable, parts of it are dragged down by details of character development and the novel shows some evidence of sloppy editing, for example, the extremely colloquial phrase, ‘isn't in it' or ‘wasn't in it' appears far too often. The work will appeal to the more cerebral end of the SF reading community, as it's little action-adventure and lots of character analysis.

In the Country of the Blind
Michael Flynn
Tom Doherty Associates
0312874448 $27.95

A newer, edited version of a first-novel published in the 1980s, this recent effort by the author of the space-exploration series, Firestar, Lodestar, Rogue Star, Falling Stars, strikes many chords for a modern reader of SF. The most pervasive of these is the sense that someone or some group is controlling our destiny and that this control is possible. A second is the concept that history is predictable and malleable. The novel also extends the use of computing back into the 19th century, where a group is formed out of people who believe in Ideons, later called memes, ideas that one can foist upon the less discriminating public and therefore use to manipulate them.

The existence and effectiveness of this ‘Cliological' (history as a science) group is accidentally discovered by a young, upwardly mobile black woman, Sarah Beaumont (p.19). She finds several abandoned ‘Babbage' (p. 45) engines in a building she is considering as a real estate purchase. She begins research on the previous owners of the building and decides that she might name her apartment-complex after one of them, Brady Quinn (p.13). In researching Quinn she discovers the existence of an organization bent on controlling American society, and with its roots before the Civil War. Enlisting the help of several friends, she continues her research, only to find that she and her friends have become targets of some relentless enemy (p. 52). She is attack, friends of hers are attacked, killed or kidnapped and, in anger, she creates a computer virus that searches the web for instances of these societies' manipulations and has them sent to police offices and newspaper offices. In doing so, she plunges into an even more complicated set of intrigues, being taken-in by the ‘good' Cliological group and having to change her identity.

This novel takes a lot of attention. The ‘current' narrative is interspersed with glimpses of the historical figures who founded Cliology (p.31) This is how we discover that the group has split into two over the issue of how much self-aggrandizement is allowable. But it turns out two groups are not enough either. Because of Sarah's actions, they are able to deduce each other's existence but then find that there is at least one more, based in Europe. Sarah plans to flee for her life and is ‘rescued' or enlisted by Red Malone (p. 63). Thus the novel presents the reader with a complex of plots and subplots and hasn't quite overcome its origins as a series of novelettes, as several competing Cliological societies try to eliminate their rivals.

One can almost chart the breaks in the several stories, while Sarah Beaumont is the one character who connects almost all the current-time scenarios and she connects them by being the target of assassins, one of which almost succeeds (p. 365). Yet the story is full of philosophical arguments to delight the classical reader of SF, as the various groups justify and adjust their practice of Cliology. This novel is not an easy-reading experience, and is therefore a conceptual delight.

The novel is followed by almost 50 pages of charts, graphs and explanations (which were originally printed in Analog, along with earlier versions of the story. They reveal that the science of history is not quite a fantastic subject. In fact, the book ends with a bibliography of Memeology, the ‘real' name for this science. It references historical, philosophical and mathematical texts.

Janice M. Bogstad
Senior Reviewer

Cowper's Bookshelf

Massage For A Peaceful Pregnancy
Gordon Inkeles
Aracata Arts
PO Box 800, Bayside, CA 95524
0974853542, $19.95

From the first month of pregnancy through full recovery from child birth, massage provides a positive, hands-on role for the father and involves him in the birth of his child on a day-to-day basis. "Massage For A Peaceful Pregnancy" by massage expert Gordon Inkeles provides a thoroughly 'user friendly', step-by-step, profusely illustrated instruction manual for a program of massage that is ideal for use at home and at birthing centers. Each page of this superbly produced manual features photographic illustrations and anatomical illustrations of real massage during pregnancy, showing just how massage strokes work on the human body. "Massage For A Peaceful Pregnancy" features a basic massage for the whole body; addresses special ailments of pregnancy such as morning sickness, circulatory problems, lactation stimulation, etc.; presents a complete ten minute head massage and a complete back message for late pregnancy; and even offers a day-to-day recovery program after birth to minimize stretch marks and ease the mother back to normal. Enhanced with check lists, the 'do's and don'ts' of massage, and valuable health tips, "Massage For A Peaceful Pregnancy" is a strongly recommended for anyone who is expecting a child.

Mex Tex
Matt Martinez
Bright Sky Press
340 South Second Street, Albany, TX 76430
1931721696, $29.95 1-866-933-6133

A savory tour-de-force of authentic and profusely illustrated Tex-Mex cuisine, successful restauranteur whose family has been in the restaurant business from more than 80 years, Matt Martinez draws upon both his family's history and his own experience and expertise running the El Rancho restaurant in Austin, Texas, to compile and organize a fabulous compendium of delicious and "kitchen cook friendly" recipes that will provide any meal time occasion with that true Tex-Mex taste! From Chile Con Queso (and how to roast your own peppers for it), to Summer Sangria, Creamy Enchilada Sauce, 20-Minute Taco Meat, Tortilla Pizza, Huevous Rancheros, Mexican Coffee, Sweet Potato Eggnog with Dark Rum, and so much more, "Mex Tex" is a very highly recommended addition to family and community library cookbook collections – and a 'must' for gourmet club member culinary reference collections!

Finding Hope
Marcia Ford
Skylight Paths Publishing
PO Box 237, Woodstock, VT 05091
1594732116, $16.99 1-800-962-4544

The daily drum beat of corporate scandals, malefactors in the government, domestic violence, foreign wars, famines, poverty, and crime all too often result in chronic depression and a feeling of hopelessness. One antidote is Marcia Ford's "Finding Hope: Cultivating God's Gift Of A Hopeful Spirit" which encourages the reader to draw strength from the Divine and overcome the challenges, fears, and distresses assaulting our every day lives. Drawing from Hebrew and Christian scripture, and the contributions of spiritual teachers of all traditions, "Finding Hope" addresses such key issues as dealing with disappointment, recovering from loss, overcoming hopelessness, real and imagined threats, putting things into perspective, and utilizing prayers and meditations (a part of each individual chapters along with real-life examples of coping) to transforming our attitudes and enhancing our appreciation of the joys of life – even during dire times at home or abroad. "Finding Hope" is strongly recommended reading and a welcome addition to personal and community library Self Help reference collections and reading lists.

A Woman Milking
Marcia Slatkin
Word Press
PO Box 541106, Cincinnati, OH 45254-1106
1933456493, $17.00

Crisp, articulate, deftly woven and engagingly presented, Marcia Slatkin's poetry reflects the conditions of hard physical labor, deep connections to animals, and intimate appreciation with respect to the rhythms of life. "A Woman Milking" is an enthusiastically recommended compendium of her distinctive verse that will aptly serve to introduce and document her very special talent as a word smith capable of reaching into the minds and hearts. 'Mated': She comes home drenched/and reeking of buck./tossing her head, she stalks/toward feed like a queen.//The other does gather and cling,/nuzzling his smell, grunting/the gossip of hunger//as up she springs,/leaping rocks like sunrise,/beaming.

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

Yes, Master
Michael Earl Craig
Fence Books
303 East Eight Street #B1, New York, NY 10009
0977106462 $13.00

The second book by author and farrier Michael Earl Craig, Yes, Master merges autobiography, creativity, and poetry into a free-verse collection of short, often comical, and sometimes wistful poetry. Often pausing amid reflections to astutely contemplate the role of everyday objects, from an anvil to a soft black derby to marvelously designed wristwatches, Yes, Master observes the mundane and reveals that the whole of daily life is much more than its seemingly ordinary parts. "Glass of Vodka": Allen was at a barbecue. / He was checking out Gary's wife / through the bottom of a glass of vodka / from which he was drinking. / He thought: What is the word / for when a nun rolls a boulder / away from the mouth of a cave or tomb?

The North Shore
Gunnard Landers
Privately Published
1050 Hadley Avenue, #203, Oakdale, MN 55128
0878392254, $14.95

When Chief Investigator Favor Martin's resolves a twenty-year old murder in a small Minnesota community, he also finds that he must try to minimize the damage to innocent people and the threat of destabilizing their families with what he has discovered. "The North Shore" is a superbly written novel set against a background of the wild and magnificent beauty of the Lake Superior shoreline, populated by deftly drawn characters who react in surprising ways that are as unanticipated as they are problematic. A highly recommended example of a regional novel with universal themes, "The North Shore" is part mystery, part thriller, and part iconic presentation of such basic human issues as love and self preservation, of innocence, of evil, and a truth that can destroy.

From Where The Rivers Come
Richard Solly
Holy Cow! Press
PO Box 3170, Mount Royal Station, Duluth, MN 55803
0977945812, $14.95

"From Where The Rivers Come" is a compendium of poetry by St. Paul, Minnesota writer Richard Solly showcases an undeniable talent that has earned him four fellowships from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship, the Loft-McKnight Award, and the Pearl Hogrefe Fellowship from Iowa State University (where he graduated summa cum laude with a Master's degree in Creative Writing). Currently a senior acquisitions editor for Hazelden Publishing and teacher of creative writing at the Loft Literary Center, "From Where The Rivers Come" is his first published collection of poetry and clearly documents him as an authentic and original American voice in contemporary poetry. 'Why A Poem Ends In Death': Every poem ends in death./Every revelation brings death to what existed before it./Ever pen fills with rain to record afflictions/and can't imagine what lies ahead of its nib/as it journeys down the path of a sentence/to the end of ink. Inside the poem, the poet seeks/his own dissolution in the sky and grass. He's not/summoned out of the tomb, but into it./To create sunlight where there is none./He dies for this joy.

The Book Of Were
Wayne Clifford
The Porcupine's Quill, Inc.
68 Main Street, Erin, Ontario, Canada, N0B 1T0
0889842817, $16.95

The superbly crafted and enthusiastically recommended poems comprising Wayne Clifford's "The Book Of Were" are based on old engravings representing were-animals and were-folk, changelings at the edges of our known worlds and ordinary lives. One very nice touch is the inclusion of animal images accompanying the poems. 'How Sin Evolves': The medieval catalogue of character defects/was meant to drag man's dialogue up near where God expects,/until America's analogue brought home the sin's effects.//The sloth proves neither strifeful brute, nor sanguine, but sincere./The problem of so slow a life is simply being here./Since sleep can make the stay more brief, the less there needs to fear.//So blessed be sloth, the mossy beast, who's camouflaged in grace,/that even when he's shot beneath, his claws hold him in place;/his vision upwards thus bequeaths suspension of god's face.

Michael Dunford

Kaveny's Bookshelf

The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary
Peter Gilver, Jeremy Marshall, and Edmund Weiner
Oxford University Press
0198610696 $25.00

The Ring of Words is one of the most captivating works I, Phil Kaveny, have come upon in the last decade dealing with J.R.R Tolkien or any aspect of his work. I was quite surprised at the way this handsome; somewhat petite in physical appearance, and well illustrated book grabbed my attention. It is a book that asks to be read. But this only refers to the physical appearance of The Ring of Words. In terms of its intellectual content it is petite like a pocket battleship, no space is wasted and everything means business and can hold its own against any contenders.

I spent the late morning and all of the Winter Solstice afternoon reading The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary from cover to cover in a single sitting. I was glued to it; could not put it down. Occasionally I would look out the window of the sixth-floor reading of room of our Philosophy & Religious Studies Department and watch the shadows of the barren trees extend along the banks the lazily meandering Chippewa River. The river no longer gives any semblance of freezing, I suppose as a result of global warming. I was able to enjoy The Ring of Words unmolested because it is break time now between semesters and there were no students present here at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, no loud grossly personalized cell phones ringing, no iPods, no laptops, no Internet, and no television. I even read the book through the natural light that came through the tall narrow window that looks a little like an archer's slit. That is to say just like the ones we saw at Conway Castle when my wife and I visited Wales a handful of years ago. But maybe that's pushing things just a little bit too far. However I confess that is the kind of whimsical fantastic mood the book puts me into; it takes me away from the present, and makes me think of a world less ephemeral than the mundane and primary one in which we plod out and away our everyday existence.

Later that evening after I returned home, while the events of the morning and afternoon were still fresh in my mind, and their spell was not completely worn away, I found myself in need of a word to capture the afternoon. Not just any word, but just the right word to share this experience. I turned to the 1989 second edition of The Oxford English Dictionary Online (which we are quite lucky to have remote access to from our home through the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, McIntyre Library) and came up with adjective ‘delightful': Affording delight; delighting; highly pleasing, charming. Further its etymology is as follows.

"1530 PALSGR. 309/2 Delytefull, that moche delyteth, deliteux. 1553 T. WILSON Rhet. (1580) 3 marg., Oratours muste use delitefull wordes and saiges. 1590 SPENSER F.Q. I. iv. 4 Goodly galleries..Full of faire windowes and delightful bowres. 1659 D. PELL Impr. Sea To Rdr. Avij, What delightfuller thing canst thou read than a Theam or Subject of the Sea. 1667 MILTON P.L. I. 467 Rimmon, whose delightful Seat Was fair Damascus. 1779 COWPER Lett. 31 Oct., Was there ever anything so delightful as the music of the Paradise Lost? 1848 DICKENS Dombey xxxv, That delightfullest of cities, Paris. 1870 LOWELL Study Wind. (1871) 1 One of the most delightful books in my father's library."

So how is it that authors: Peter Gilliver, Edmund Weiner, Jeremy Marshall, all currently senior editors at The Oxford English Dictionary, were able to produce such a delightful book? It's in three sections, Tolkien as Lexicographer, Tolkien as Word Wright, and Word Studies, are followed by an epilogue which assesses Tolkien's influences on the English Language. I think the answer lies in the way book starts in a time other than the present and lacking all of the annoying accouterments of modernity which I was free from when I enjoyed the book on that magic afternoon, which now seems as long ago as it was when eighty years ago an-out-of-work twenty-six year old English world War One veteran J.R.R Tolkien, in need of a job to support his family, was hired to work on The Oxford English Dictionary. By 1918, the OED was and ongoing project stretching across the previous sixty years since its beginnings. In 1857 The Philological Society of London formed a committee to embark on the project to compile a dictionary of all English words.

What gives The Ring of Words part of its particular flavor are the 15 half-tone Illustrations which convey a sense depth of time and place and take us into the world where Tolkien worked as a subaltern for approximately two years. Figure 1 takes us to the dictionary room interior of the Old Ashmolean building in Oxford which opened in 1683 about the time that Eau Claire, Wisconsin was founded as trading post in what was then Louis Fourteenth's New France, (incidentally my wife, and I have visited the Ashmolean building a score of times on our travels in the last decade). Figure 2 shows a four-by-six slip in Tolkien's own handwriting showing his work on the entry ‘warm' and reminds of us of a time when intellectual work was done by hand rather than though multiple electronic augmentations. Figures 4a and 4b show how Tolkien's entry (in his own hand) on ‘wain' progressed from dictionary slip to its etymology printed dictionary entry in the first edition (1926) of The OED, which, incidentally, to my eye seemed to be a perfect match for the Online OED version. Just to see the examples of work in Tolkien's own hand, which I suppose has become mundane for generations of Tolkien scholars, is a real treat to those of us who do not have easy access to primary sources of his material.

But of course The Ring of Words is not really about the two years that Tolkien spent working for the OED, even if the first section concentrates on his contributions to the letter ‘w'. Rather it is about the effect that experience had on the development of his life's body of work. It is also about the way he used the OED as a resource to enrich his work not simply by lifting the words out of context but rather fitting them to his needs through a kind of natural process of linguistic development. As show by the list of one hundred or so words he worked on mostly starting with the letter W (15 out of 100 entries, some of them on multiple, related words, in this book's lexicon start with ‘w', but ‘w' was Tolkien's ‘letter' when he worked on the dictionary).

I, Janice Bogstad, was asked by Phil to focus on the Word Studies but want to place them in context. While the first section and illustrations chronicle Tolkien's OED work, the second p. 45-86 are the three editors' endeavor to help us understand how Tolkien worked to transform his lexicographic and philological knowledge into the momentous work that became Middle Earth, from the humble beginnings of The Hobbit, through the to-become-famous Lord of the Rings and even the twelve books of the History of Middle Earth published after his death. In a very real sense, these two sections are literary criticism, and in fact the authors discuss the senses in which literary criticism has grown out of philology. In another, they are preparation for the third section, Word Studies, where these experienced scholars treat Tolkien's specialized evolution of words
Because I review so many works of criticism, theory and reference for such a range of publications, from Publisher's Weekly to Medieval Feminist Forum and Collection Building, I find myself asking of each book a number of similar questions, even though I don't always include the answers in the actual review. This is how I tell what kind of book I'm looking at and how well it does what it sets out to do. All of these questions are very relevant to The Ring of Words, written by three lexicographers from the modern OED project, one which brings the OED into the oh-so-malleable present, and even into the potential futures through their ‘science fiction and fantasy supplement' in progress, both of which changes in the nature of the OED are made possible by its electronic form, but more on that later.

Who is the intended audience for this book; Not only who will read it but who will understand it and WANT to read it? How will this book be used: Not just what can it be used for but how can it be enjoyed? Does it tell me anything I didn't know or more importantly, that a general reader would not know? Sometimes those answers are the same and others very different. How accurate, factual and accessible is it?

The Ring of Words is two books, really. Two chapters are on the order of a critical biography, and the last, a reference book. If we ask who is intended to read it, the two parts will yield different answers because the methodologies that inform them are different. But yet, methodology is a large part of what this book is all about. It attempts to show us what Tolkien may have thought about the words he used to create his world of Middle Earth, but in the course of this process, also how he thought, as lexicographer and inventor of words, or wordwright, as the second chapter is entitled, and also as scholar, literary author, mythographer, and philosopher of the spirit. All three sections of the work are accessible to a general reader, but they will, of course, be read very differently by all of these readers and with different levels of interest. For me, the primary reaction is to want a longer list of words from Tolkien's Middle Earth, which one hopes, will be forthcoming (perhaps based on the success of this book).

And then some readers will use this book in very different ways. For example, for me it confirms a suspicion I've had since the second edition of the OED, which came out just a little to late to resolve a difference of opinion with my dissertation advisor, the noted classicist and medieval literary scholar, Dr. F. LeMoine, over whether I could use Foucault's term ‘episteme' in my dissertation on women and science fiction. She asked me to remove it as there ‘was no such word'. I did so, of course, as it wasn't in the first edition of the OED, but it WAS in the second edition and I dined out on that story, respectfully told, for some years. And from that point, I begin to suspect what may be to some a subtle (but is to me profound) change in the definition of a definitive dictionary of the English Language. The OED is in the process of a total change in focus. Both the mechanics and the conceptual framework of the OED are expanding. New words are added and accepted more readily and we certainly teach the nature of ‘authoritative' renderings differently. For example, the authors of this book document a more expansive idea of what will and can be included, partially, I could argue, because the electronic medium itself so greatly facilities such kinds of malleability but yet it is just the sort of minds that know the basic need for an OED who also have the potential of stemming the tide of highly-accessible misinformation that has become the Internet. For by creating such a thing as a ‘science fiction and fantasy supplement' they both turn their methodological talents to documenting a different kind of usage, a contemporary sub-creating. They show an understanding that many will want to use a ‘shared vocabulary supplement', which could be one of many. And of course Tolkien's influence both on the dictionary itself and on the English language, just as the authors argue, is manifest in the fact that this first supplement is one on science fiction and fantasy, the latter of which he somewhat rescued from obscurity and relegation to a children's genre and the former of which, as evidenced by such works as the ‘closed series' television program Babylon Five, derives from the very fantasy, mythology, and history out of which The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings sprung.

Comments on Word section: Readers of this review deserve a glimpse of the wonderfully creative entries on Tolkien's specialized creation of words and languages that then give rise to Middle Earth. The first question is ‘how were words chosen' and it is not directly addressed by the three authors. There are 100 entries so I assume they started by setting that limit. There are the usual candidates: Hobbit, which is the longest entry, and of course elf, dwarf, man, dwarf, and orc. Some postdate Tolkien's book – Tolkien and Tolkienesque, for example, which have been used to describe his work and that of other modern fantasists, and which convey a pretty precise meaning for those who've read and enjoyed even The Hobbit. One feature that becomes quickly clear is that the definitions are not uniform. They don't address the same sorts of things for each word represented. For example, while many entries attempt to find a actual historical source for Tolkien's terms, some focus on OE, ME or Old Norse history of the words, some focus more on Tolkien's ‘rules of transformation' and creation of different languages, and still others take a more sociological approach. They vary in length from a third-of-a-page for ‘dumbledore' to nine pages for ‘hobbit', but average about 1.5 pages per word. And most are firmly grounded in the idea that the authors are providing us with Tolkien's use in such a way that it will be understood by a contemporary reader with a general knowledge of the literary work in question. In some cases, they tell delightful stories in an of themselves, making reference to actual words, the cultures and dialects from which they came, and the conditions under which Tolkien evolved them, including quotations from his own letters and public lectures. Take for example ‘hobbit'. We get the OED definition which includes the explanation that up to the point of his death Tolkien was not willing to stay that he invented the word. Then we read about subsequent discoveries of the term in a list of names of folkloric creatures found in the second and third editions of a small-print-run publication called The Denham Tracts (you will need to read the book to find out what and where they are found), and then how translators have dealt with it in languages from Swedish to Czech, and finally how the word has come to be used in our language. Another favorite of mine is ‘ent and etten', partially because these are among my favorite creatures in the saga. They began with an Anglo-Saxon word and are used as "one of the key examples of Tolkien's linguistic imagination," (p. 119). And the meaning and sense of ent comes from the idea of giants in our far past, just as hobbit does from ‘little people'. But there is also the Old English terms ‘eoten' and ‘ent', and "an eoten is a being hostile to humans (p. 119). Of course there is a lot more to chart how Tolkien went from a complex of related words in different languages to create the enigmatic and laconic ents. There there's ‘weregild' from ancient Teutonic and Old English law that Tolkien attaches to Isildur's failure to destroy the one ring. And each term addressed brings together both sources and evolutionary transformations that led Tolkien to create languages and then out of them the land that would make them possible. While it could be a challenge to read the individual words and their entries, I did not find it so, and neither would anyone with even a mild interest in Tolkien.

As you can see, there many useful things one can say about this book and it will be used by many, and different, reasons by scholars, Tolkien-focused and other kinds, general readers, Tolkien completists and even users of the OED and its online edition and supplements. Therefore it seems to us that the book is not only a must for academic, but also college, school and public libraries. As a matter of fact the same thing can be said about the OED Online. I think this is particularly true in this modern age in which my colleagues inform me that even on the graduate level it's necessary to assign texts with progressively more rudimentary registers of meaning which they are then demanded to teach with a kind of didactic and false-analytic confidence. The kind of confidence which would assume that words are now as the always were and mean what they always meant. A kind of false confidence which would deny the possibility of what Norman Cantor labeled Diachronic Philology in his Chapter "The Oxford Fantasists" in his 1991 Inventing The Middle Ages in describing Tolkien's lifetime project. The Ring of Words in its entirety is a testament to a great man who did not accept any reduction of expectation that his readers would accept a more complicated text, and that they would enthusiastically embrace that complication, whether on the general level or progressively more subtle ones, depending on their interest, background and abilities. He wrote for and speaks to many readers and this critical work takes off from his insights on how language comes to mean for a wide range of people who may not have thought about it before.

By Philip E. Kaveny Dr. Janice M. Bogstad

Part 4 Dionysian Hedonism and the counter Culture and still more about the sexual revolution in at U.W Madison in he Late 1960's

I wish the Flipside could include two color photos of one taken in 1968 and the taken in 1972, because I think that they would really help part four of this article make sense. But for now, unless we get a really big grant which we so richly deserve to make this rag all color, I will just have to rely on my words to make the picture your minds.

The first photo is of this hopeless pathetic pasty skinned fat guy he weighs close to four hundred pounds. He has short hair and a mustache and he is has a beer next to him and he is sitting in his mothers back yard. That's me I am twenty four years old, and it was taken in 1968. When the picture was taken I had been drinking very heavily for the last five six years, and I have been reduced to earning my living as a remittance man. That is to say I got small amounts of money from my family members to stay out of sight, and in return they got to have the fun of humiliating whenever it took their fancy. Not the kind of job that looks very good on ones resumes, but it was the best job I could get at the time. You might remember I mentioned that I had one hundred and three or four job interviews and no takers until I got my bartender's job in May of 1969.

This situation was pretty bad but was yet to reach to bottom out. But it did, when my mother's sister Cleo Sammis (1914-2002) fired me from my dog sitter's job. One of my sources of income at that time was taking care of her sixty pound female Dachshund Machen when she and her husband would take a road trip to The House on The Rock and then whoop it up by having dinner at a supper in Dodgeville club afterward. I was fired for growing that same mustache, which I then shaved to get back on the dole with her as a clean-shaven dog sitter.

Perhaps there was a good reason that some of my class mates from my Madison East High School class of 1962 , who would now be known as (mean girls), to have nominated me as "class member most likely to commit suicide at my fifth high school class reunion in 1967. My wresting coach was heard to have said, something like this, never have I seen man degenerate more in such a short time his life. Well I guess I disappointed a lot of people because I did not drink myself to death. I think that was because inside the image of that pathetic fat guy in that photo was a champion and a kind of shadow warrior for the noble causes, even if that my shadow warrior was trapped inside a great big jelly doughnut, at the time that photograph was taken.

Well I am alive now and my life is much better I have not had a single drink since I quite forever on Feb 2nd 1971, so on all counts I have been clean and sober for nearly thirty six year. Well what happed? How did I survive? I have some sisters of mercy to tell you about who helped me remember who I was. The first was Cleopha Dunn 1885-1969 who was critical in my developing self-determination, when most of the rest of the family was wondering what institution I was going to end up.

Strangely a lot of myself determination seems to be expressed in the length hair, and the presence of facial hair. Later in this article I promise I will tell you about my half million-dollar beard, which I still wear. What I mean by that is the beard that I have worn since 1971 cost me half a million dollars and was worth every cent of.

Sisters of mercy

My first sister of mercy was a blood relative and my sainted grand mother. I was always my Grandmother's, who was a full-blooded German's, favorite. She married my full blooded Irish Grandfather in 1906 as a trophy husband, and as a result stoically, lived through the poverty, and living hell of Irish family alcoholism. Its worse around Christmas and it really does take all the fun out of family dysfunction. The details of it play out, if you are forced to live through them, in a way that would make the John Houston movie production of the James Joyce novella The Dead seem like a musical comedy. Maybe Grandma Dunn knew what I was up against and loved me unconditionally, whether I looked like Apollo or a great big jelly doughnut.

By the time I visited my Grandma on her death bed in Sept, 1969 I had gotten a job, got laid a few times and grew back a great big handle bar mustache. At that time I was informed by my aunt Cleo that not only would to be forever black balled as a dog sitter, but that I was persona non-grata in her home in one of Madison's fashionable west side suburb. Strangely enough thirty years later the only thing stood between me inheriting that fashionable west side home, and her entire half million dollar estate according to her will was my thirty year refusal to shave off, my half million dollar beard.

On her death bed my grandmother informed me that my mother, rich Uncle Pete, and my Aunt Cleo wanted her to beg me to shave off my great big handle bar mustache for her impending funeral since she was near death from leukemia. She said, however, that she actually loved no matter what I looked liked and that she though that great big handle bar mustache was an improvement, and made me look like Grover Cleveland one of the hottest presidents in American History. I remember that my uncle Pete who made it big in international finance and leg breaking, made me charge a four hundred dollar size sixty suit to his account, this was when four hundred dollars meant something so I could look presentable as one of Grandma's pall bears. I guess I should not have washed and dried that same four hundred suit it in the Jiffy Speed Laundromat afterwards because it shrunk down to a size forty two and ended up in a rag rug my mother made.

Another sister of mercy was Maureen Frazier- Mckiernan who was perhaps the most beautiful and powerfully ethical women I have ever met. Though she was mostly Irish with green eyes and blood hair and looked like one of Woden's daughters, and just by the way was a member of Mensa. Maureen was a member of University of Wisconsin's most exclusive sorority and it was from her that I learned that women to had sexual appetites, or to put another way sexual pleasure two way street Maureen Married my best friend of a lifetime in 1972 and I was their best man. I never had sexual intercourse with her, what I had was much better, Maureen reminded me that I was human with a kiss.

It happened this way: it was New Years Eve of 1968-1969, in the process of accompanying me buddy Bob Mckiernan on his round as a security guard at one of last Madison's major industrial employers. In the process I nearly cut my hand off in the middle of my forearm when I was roaring drunk, and playing with huge industrial saw. I managed to pull my hand away only just in time otherwise for the last thirty seven years we I would had a nick name like Captain Hook, or something. Since the factory was deserted for New Years Eve the only time of the year it was closed, Bob let me sleep it off for a couple hours in the factory nurses office, and then suggested we crash a party.

Actually it was more like a Visigoth raid than a party crash, Maureen had been dating some guys who were naval academy cadets, and Bob and I sort of livened up the party, and in the process drove them off. I remember at new years I grabbed Maureen and gave her a rather rude and drunk kiss, and she returned it with even greater gusto, and held me so tight with my arms pinned to my sides that I could not get away. Her sub text was really very simple I can stand up to you; you are human, worthy no stop being an asshole. In a way she gave me back my humanity and I never kissed a woman that way again. However there was a time when I averted what might have been a fatal confrontation with a motor cycle gain who out number us by about ten to one by kissing there gang leader the same way, and then just walking away . That was always my father's side of the family's motto always run away. Maureen died of M.S in 1991 after ten year heroic struggle. In 1993, as a solemn tribute to her great soul, and with her husband at my side I scattered her ashes on Lake Monona in the spring of 1993. I think she is of the reasons I am now in religious studies

A Miracle in my life

Here is where I pay tribute to another sister of mercy who I thought I loved and nearly married before I new what love was. Cathy survived but she was a nearly a causality of the old system. The one in place before the revolution, and may well be in place again. She came from private school and went to another private university fell in love with a guy who used her, lost her self respect, had twins and a miss-- carriages, and I met her in the Madison's bar scene and some how we expected to be miracles in each others lives, but that's not what happened.

"Cathy 1969"
Cathy exploded in my arms like a startled flock of birds in a cemetery. She filled my life with love's first murderous madness and flew away with the morning, leaving the taste of ashes in my mouth.

I would love to have sex, but we don't have enough people.

I suppose I should at least say something about the orgies since we are talking about Dionysian Hedonism. Maybe Woody Allen Said it best when he is cast into the future in his very funny 1973 film Sleeper in which Woody Wakes up two centuries later and asks to have sex with Dianne Keaton and she says. She would love to have sex, but we don't have enough people. Another funny line I once heard in person was. "I would love to have sex but I would have to miss my psychiatrist appointment" I guess what it breaks down to is if it's not funny it's not worth talking about. The other problem is that its difficult to talk about what happened 1969 then not knowing what is happening not knowing what is happen know in 2006

The Second Photo was taken in the summer of 1971 shortly after I got my first full time civil service job with benefits, a job which I held until 2000. I have been sober for six months, my shoulder length hair is blowing in the wind, and my beard is very large and red, I am wearing black mirror shade wraparound sunglasses, my skin is no longer pasty, and I have a suntan and I weigh a hundred pounds less than the guy in the first picture. I have canceled all remittances from my family and they are sure I am hell bent because the shadow warrior inside of me is fighting his demons and out trying to do some good in the world. I have yet to find out what love really is but that will happen in a handful of months later when I meet the woman I am now married to who anybody who knows me will know.

So what happened how come lady death scratched her name of my dance card the tomb stones fell away from my eyes, and lady grace gave me a ride home? Well okay here is what I think happened it all started with the arts for me. Their were powerful artist forces which the chaos of the late sixties released and cultural space was made for an artistic counter culture that people were willing to bust there asses for. Make no mistake about it that traditions still drive The Flipside and are making it look a lot better. Not everything in the world is about making money. In the last thirty five years I have been a serious film maker, community radio, and television producer and playwright and given more guest lectures, than I can count. My most recent lecture was for a religious studies course on battlefield technology in the Hebrew Bible. I have probably written a million words for publication, and the word from my oldest friends is that my work is getting better, thanks, I might add, to the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire office for Services for Students with Disabilities and the staff members who insisted that I get a full evaluation of my strengths and weakness, and directed me towards services which make those things that are hard for me possible, to feel this way at my age is a real hoot.

Philip Kaveny
Senior Reviewer

Klausner's Bookshelf

Bounty On The Rebel's Heart
Karen Wiesner
Whiskey Creek Press
PO Box 51052, Casper, WY 82605-1052
9781593747398, $15.00

When investigative reporter Rebel Porter disclosed on the radio the proof he found that Giles Jameson, head of the top secret international covert Network operations is corrupt, he did not fully anticipate how far and dangerous his adversary is until his wife is murdered. Reb goes into hiding while Giles offers a substantial reward for anyone who brings his head to him. Giles also is in hiding as his work for sixteen years to destroy the Network from within may have crumbled with Porter's efforts to destroy. Rebel's father was the man who killed his father, Senator Porter. Network operative Natalie Francis masquerades as Reb's former lover, investigative journalist Adrienna Kelly in order to locate Reb and obtain his evidence against Giles and her organization. When Reb first sees her in the woods, he considers killing her, but fails to do so and instead falls unconscious just outside his remote farmhouse as he is ill. She carries him inside and nurtures him back to health, but once he starts to recover he wonders what Adrienna's agenda truly is as their last parting was not amiable. As Natalie falls in love with her patient, she wonders if she could leave the tentacles of the Network, who only allows escape via death. The third Incognito Series book (see NO ORDINARY LOVE and UNTIL DEATH DO US PART) is a terrific suspense thriller filled with superb characters and plenty of plausible exciting twists that keep the audience reading to learn what happens next especially to Reb and Natalie. Though BOUNTY ON THE REBEL'S HEART can stand alone as a fabulous action-packed tale, fans will want to know how Reb and Giles got to the points where both are hiding. Karen Wiesner has another triumph in a winning series.

Taming Him
Kimberly Dean, Summer Devon, Michelle M. Pillow
Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.
1056 Home Avenue, Akron, 44310
1416536000 $14.00

"Fever" by Kimberly Dean. Delia Jenkins is very ill with a high fever, but comes to work at Lloyd Security Systems because she has only been there two months and fears losing her job as she has a project budget due today; she adheres to "presentism" instead of absenteeism. Her peer Robbie informs the boss Jackson Lloyd that he is taking her to bed. Not long afterward, a drugged ailing Delia is awakened by a compassionate touch. As she feels better she sees her hero nearby nursing her though she wants him to provide her a different type of 104 degrees fever. "Perfection" by Summer Devon. Metcher Corporation's experiment with phermones made Bryan Hartigan irresistible to women, which proves a curse as he can go nowhere without a woman chasing his body; stalkers are the norm. He only recently learned from Dr. Nathan that his only escape is to find Ms. Perfect. However as he seeks her he also has to elude women and an apparent group that want to steal his essence even if it means killing him to do so. At a restaurant he meets Allie the waitress, who is turned on to him, but for the first time in months he is turned on too. "Taming Him" by Michelle M. Pillow. Maggie Stewart is driving by herself when she sees an alien spaceship lands nearby. She thinks of fleeing before she becomes an alien abduction statistic, but then she sees the hunk Vladei. He kidnaps her, but on his vessel he treats her like no human ever has before. Instead of a prisoner or a slave, she is a queen given regal pleasure by her king. These three erotic romances contain delightful storyline, hot hunks, and fully developed (not just their boobs) females who keep each tale focused. Sub-genre fans will enjoy these "everyday" sirens teasing, tantalizing, and taming their testosterone men.

Portia Da Costa
Black Lace
0352331208 $7.99

Joanna Darrell is bored with her office job at Perry McAfree, but that is no excuse for breaking the company's number one rule to treat the client sweetly; she just failed having called the Vale Associates representative a "sad bastard" before slamming the phone down. As she waits for her boss Halloran to rip her apart and probably fire her, she fantasizes about having this hunk service her as his aristocratic apocalyptic reputation with women is legendary. Freelance computer specialist Kevin Steel notices her ecstatic expression that he has once before placed on her face when they made love, but since that ecstatic interlude she has said no to his advances. Instead of sacking her, Halloran and the Human Resources Chief Davidson tell her she needs a vacation as she has worked too hard. They send Joanna to Whiteoaks, a place with the latest relaxation therapies. Joanna soon finds the place caters to her deepest erotic fantasies where pleasure and pain are part of the same CONTINUUM while several studs provide major appetizers but only a steely hunk can be her master. Joanna is an interesting protagonist who as the back cover of the book states becomes "Alice in a decadent wonderland". She keeps the erotic tale focused as it runs the gamut of bondage. With the exception of Kevin, the hunks are interchangeable though the protagonist can tell them apart by a look or feel of their one-eyed dripping plunger. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this heated erotic romance as Joanna takes quite a torrid vacation.

Then Came Faith
Louise M. Gouge
White Stone Books
P.O. Box 2835, Lakeland, Florida 33806
097851372X $14.99

Although the combat of the Civil War officially ended at Appomattox, many people still push their cause. Juliana Harris is the offspring of two rabid abolitionists and she was an Underground Railroad participant. At the invitation of Miss Amelia Randolph she has come to New Orleans to teach the former slaves to read and write. At the dock upon arrival, she meets gallant knight Andre Beauchamp; he is warm to her until she mentions the name of Randolph; he loathes anything northern. The war has changed the world as Andre once knew it. The former Confederate naval officer saw his affluent world die along with his father; his mother is teetering into insanity and when lucid is in denial. His slaves are freed though three of them, Aunt Sukey, Gemma, and Cordell, remain with him as his equal. Andre and Juliana are attracted to one another, but she believes slavery is an abomination against God while he feels he and his family were kind owners providing a way of life to the ignorant slaves. Louise M. Gouge provides a terrific historical novel that takes a deep look at the impact of slavery just after the end of the Civil War. The key to this insightful tale is that none of the three prime perspectives (slave-owner, abolitionist and slave) is treated with disparity, but instead each symbolizes the negative effect slavery had on people. Most readers will support Juliana's position yet wonder about how former slaves like Gemma and Cordell will cope in a hostile environs while Andre comes across as human and caring though his righteousness on owning slaves will feel like an atrocity to much of the audience. THEN CAME FAITH is a strong portrayal of the immediate aftermath of outlawing slavery in the Deep South (ironically it was still legal in the Border States that stayed with the Union).

Bit by the Bug
Michelle M. Pillow
Cheek Books
0352340843 $12.95

Beatrice Matthew believes she should go on separate vacations with her adult daughters; the current trek is with New York based photographer Katarina in Vale, Colorado. There Kat meets wealthy Vincent and Mimi Richmond who offer her a strange deal. In exchange for having a showing of her photos at prestigious Faux Pas, they want her to date (perhaps even deflower) their thirty-five years old reticent reclusive son Vincent III. Though she has a boyfriend back home, actor Jack Knight, she agrees to date the heir. Kat visits Vincent's place of work, the DJP Scientific Department of Entomological Research where she meets his assistant Margaret as she quits saying he is difficult. Vincent thinks Kat is Margaret, as he fails to recognize she is not his assistant in spite of seeing pink hair for the first time. She tells him she is not his assistant; they negotiate a deal leading to his hiring her though she is a camera bug not a creepy-crawly bug. As they become acquainted over bugs, make that insects, they fall in love. However, she knows she owes him the truth but fears he will reject his beloved "Butterfly". BIT BY THE BUG is a wonderful erotic romance starring an absent minded professor and the artist who falls in love with him. The amusing story line is funny, whimsical and hot from the Vail opening to the final revelations. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this fine heated contemporary due to the lead couple while seeking other pillow romances.

Plague of the Dead
Z.A. Recht
Permuted Press
0978970705 $14.59

The Morningstar Strain virus was first seen in Africa and Anna DeMilio of the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases is the foremost authority on it. Nobody heeded her plea to quarantine every person anywhere who comes down with this illness. Now it is out of control spreading globally, but also when one dies they are reanimated. Egypt is lost to the reanimated so the United States makes a stand at the Suez Canal, but thousands of carriers break through the front line. Only luck enables Special Forces General Shannon and some of his squad along with a Red Cross volunteer Julie to escape by ship to America where like the rest of the world the virus owns the metropolis areas to include much of suburbia. Anna desperately continues her research hoping to find a miracle elixir while Shannon and his remaining force wonder how to fight an insurgency from within. This first book in the Morningstar Trilogy contains a fresh unique twist to the zombie mythos with an Ebola like virus that reanimates its dead victims. Z.A. Recht has created characters that seem real especially the medical researcher and the general as neither is used to failure, but that seems to be their common thread at this time. PLAGUE FOR THE DEAD is apocalyptic fiction at its thrilling best.

The Fair Folk
Edited by Marvin Kaye
Ace Books
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
044101481X $15.00, 448 pp.

"UOUS" by Tanith Lee. Unable to handle being the stepdaughter and stepsister since her dad died, she turns to a handsome fairy prince for solace; he grants her three wishes, but expects remittance. "Grace Notes" by Megan Lindholm. Bachelor Jeff enjoys his lifestyle until the anal brownie insists that cleanliness is Godliness. Needing help to rid himself of this cleaning freak, Jeff turns to Maisy to help him evict the nuisance. "The Gypsies of the Wood" by Kim Newman. In rural late Victorian England, two children disappear in the woods leading to a search for them. They are found, but the boy has aged into an old man while the girl behaves like a young child. "The Kelpie" by Patricia A. McKillip. The artists' colony contains talented individuals jealous of one another. Ned and Emma seem to desire each other, but both fears the ridicule of failure until the kelpie step in. "An Embarrassment of Elves" by Craig Shaw Gardner. Wuntvor, wizard sidekick, and his friends attend an elven party where Fritz and the dark riders crash the gala. "Except the Queen" by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder. The fairy exiles the two sisters, Meteora and Serana, forcing the siblings to live in the human smog city. Though each swore not to intervene, they get involved with two teens under magical assault. THE FAIR FOLK is a fun fairy driven fantasy anthology containing six charming stories that sub-genre fans will enjoy, yet feel somewhat unsatisfied as if each entry fell a bit short. The contributions are suburb when the plot dwells on cross species miscommunication, but feels pressing at times to insure the inclusion in a significant way of the supernatural entities. Not the best work of these renowned authors, but readers will enjoy hobnobbing with the FAIR FOLK.

I Love Claire
Tracey Bateman
Faith Words
c/o Warner Books, Inc.
1271 Avenue of the Americas, Room 913, New York, NY 10020
0446696072 $12.99 1-800-759-0190

Novelist Claire Everett has moved past her cheating ex husband Rick to become engaged to kind hearted Greg Lewis. She thinks he is nice especially to her four children. However, she has some doubts about marrying Greg because she feels inadequate to being a pastor's wife as she knows it took to long too turn the other cheek towards Rick and his new wife and her ambition to be interviewed by Oprah. External factors also enhance her hesitation as her agent dumped her while she struggles to change genres and now Greg is talking about canceling their Hawaiian honeymoon because of a ministry opportunity. Symbolically she cannot afford the wedding dress she chose so she takes odd jobs in the neighborhood. Finally her seventeen year old daughter Ari seems in the midst of her first real romance; her fifteen year old son Tommy is skateboarding with the rowdy and dangerous; and her preadolescent boys Jake and Shawn are locked into electronic gaming and couching. The third Claire Everett tale continues to focus on her struggles between being a working mother, caring for her offspring who bring new issues to their relationships, and her fiance's chosen vocation. Though most of her sting is gone as she is no longer feels acrimonious especially towards Rick (that evolution was completed in the previous novels LEAVE IT TO CLAIRE and CLAIRE KNOWS BEST), Claire's insecurities make for an interesting look at a middle age changeover.

The Motive from the Deed
Patricia Wynn
Pemberley Press
P O Box 1027, Corona del Mar, CA 92625
0977191338 $26.95

In 1715 supporters of James Stuart the Pretender have begun a coup to dispose King George I. In reaction to the open hostilities, the monarch assumes all Roman Catholics advocate the placing of the Pretender on the throne so are exiled from London to reduce assassination possibilities; other freedoms like free speech and press are curtailed so that any opposition is suppressed with those who complain spending time at Newgate for seditious activity. Without the benefit of a trial, Jeremy is dispatched to Newgate for printing subversive pamphlets. He denies ever doing this treasonable action, but no official heeds his plea. In fact his plight turns worse when he is accused of homicide though he swears he is innocent. His sister Mrs. Kean believes her sibling so she turns to her friend the Blue Satan to help her prove Jeremy's innocence. In their third Georgian thriller, (see BIRTH OF BLUE SATAN and SPIDER'S TOUCH), Mrs. Kean and her associate the aristocratic highwayman Blue Satan work on a whodunit that is personal as her sibling is heading to the gallows unless they can prove more than just his innocence. Thos is a timely tale with the Bush Administration ignoring basic civil rights especially of foreign citizens which is similar to the dissolution of rights in 1715 England (the Peter Zenger "Freedom of the Press" trial occurs in Colonial New York in 1734); in either time innocence or guilt is irrelevant once incarcerated. THE MOTIVE FROM THE DEED is a superb historical mystery with current relevancy.

The Scarlet Trefoil
L.A. Kelly
Revell Books
c/o Baker Publishing Group ,
PO Box 6287 Grand Rapids MI 49516-6287
0800731565 $12.99

Tahn Dorn is a happy man because he is marrying the love of his life Lady Netta Trilett. Sold into slavery as a child and forced to commit all kinds of heinous crimes including murder, Dorn can't believe that a noblewoman like Netta forgives him just because he turned from evil and embraced the Lord. He makes sure her carriage is well guarded when she goes to her bridal party hosted in honor of her by her closest friends. A feeling of foreboding comes over him as he watches the carriage drive away and when she fails to return he goes to find her. He finds the carriage empty and the guards dead; he can't track her because rain washed away all other signs of an attack. When he arrives at the meeting spot arranged by a young boy the bandits he defeated in Alastair led by Burle torture him to near death and only a miracle saves Netta and Dorn from Lord Trent who wants them dead. Trent knows Dorn is the rightful heir to the legacy he stole. The saga of Tahn Dorn comes to a close in THE SCARLET TREFOIL, a trilogy that takes the hero from the occupation of a criminal to the beloved of the powerful and Trilett family. Netta sees the changes in her beloved as he grows closer to God with each experience. L.A. Kelly has given her audience an enthralling tale of action and redemption as she uplifts the spirit by delivering the message that forgiveness for sin is never beyond reach of the person when true repentance occurs. This book and the two previous novels in the series come highly recommended.

Soul Siren
Aisha DuQuesne
Delta Trade Paperbacks
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0385340745 $13.00

Personal assistant to R&B diva Erica Jones, Michelle Brown loves her work even the dirty aspects as she hero worships her employer as much as the singer's fans do. However, her job mostly is to eliminate or at least contain scandal; though it is not an easy job as Queen Erica who loves to sing as much as she loves sex. Known in the media as "R&B's angry young woman", Erica sleeps with anyone of either gender that touches her circle, which is how she began her rise to the top and now to maintain her seat on the royal R&B throne though she enjoys the activity. The dynamics abruptly change when an unknown person begins killing Erica's lovers. Michelle does her best but the link to homicide is too strong to brush aside. To insure Erica's is not a victim like some of her industry's soulmates, former cop Jill Chandler is hired as a bodyguard. She believes the serial killer has to be part of Erica's most inner circle as some of the victims were not known until their deaths as lovers of the diva. Jill plans to uncover the identity of the culprit though that means placing herself in jeopardy especially if she becomes one of Erica's lovers. Though none of the prime female trio is a likable individual as each goes after what they most desire without considering the costs to others, SOUL SIREN is an exciting erotic whodunit. The story line is told in the first person by Mish so the audience sees Erica, to a lesser degree Jill and even less than that the support players through her Canadian eyes looking out mostly on the New York R&B scene. Fans of sex and murder will appreciate this solid drama.

Strip Poker
Lisa Lawrence
Delta Trade Paperbacks
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0440336651 $13.00

In London, the hottest parlor game amongst the affluent is strip poker with stakes going higher than just removal of clothing as FOD (F**K on demand) can be anted up. Family friend and strip poker hostess Helena asks international courier Teresa Knight to help a client of hers. Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Janet Freeman Marshall, is on the shortlist as High Commissioner in South Africa unless the scandal of sex poker surfaces to derail her. Someone is blackmailing Janet and other customers of Helena. Teresa accepts the exciting case as she thinks back to having played her first game; actually it was stripped gin rummy, in Africa. She soon joins the games going undercover to observe first hand more than just male gorging rods though she especially loves bluffing a male opponent into the buff. However, before she determines who is extorting the most important British black female politician, someone raises the stakes from blackmail to murder. Combining an erotic background with deep tragic social issues especially confronting Africa inside an investigative tale, STRIP POKER is a terrific thriller that never slows down from the moment that Helena hires Teresa to uncover the identity of the extortionist. Teresa is a fabulous heroine who seems increasingly addicted to the card game as much as the adrenalin rush of stopping a killer from stripping away lives. Though some might ridicule the notion of strip poker clubs, Manhattan has had mixed gender wrestling clubs with sexual wagering so a sex cards scene seems plausible especially as written by extremely talented Lisa Lawrence. This is a royal flush erotic mystery.

The Sword
Jean Johnson
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425214400 $14.00

The eight brothers, four sets of twins, live in exile on an island where no one else resides. These powerful mages especially fear females for the prophecy claims if the eldest falls in love, the brotherly octet is doomed. Yet the most powerful of the siblings, the youngest Morganen has brought a woman from some remote dimension in his belief she is the one for the oldest Saber and will somehow turn the first omen on its head. American businesswoman Kelly Doyle cannot understand how she ended up a prisoner in the middle of a medieval reenactment when she was moments earlier caught in a deliberately set fire in order to kill her. The brothers free her and like any good drill female sergeant shaping up slovenly male recruits she soon takes over the island, forcing the guys to clean up the castle, the grounds and their act. Saber tries to avoid her out of his fear of what will happen, but Kelly confronts him. As they fall in love, seven of the brothers expect disaster with only Morg thinking otherwise even as an enemy plots to use the newcomer to destroy the eight. Enchantments, amusement, and eight hunks and one bewitching woman make for a fun romantic fantasy as Saber insists he's not in love while Kelly thinks about modern conveniences that she took for granted. The story line is humorous and magical as the lead pair falls in love while the ill behaved siblings anticipate the worst and an unknown adversary plots to do so. Jean Johnson opens her mini series with a delightful charmer.

Good Things
Mia King
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425213714 $14.00

In Seattle, TV show host of the successful Live Simple, forty years old Deidre McIntosh feels on top of the world. Her show is on a five year run that looks like it will continue indefinitely and she shares a terrific apartment with a close friend. On top of that her investment portfolio is blooming. Her world crumbles rather quickly as her show is canceled, her investments tank, and her friend moves in with his gay lover. She had no job, no money and no place to live as she can no longer live in her current abode. She meets Kevin Johnson, who offers her his vacation home in rustic Jacob's Point. Thinking this will buy her time to regroup, she travels to the backwater town. Though feeling like a fish out of water, Deidre brings in income by selling gourmet goods to Lindsey Miller, owner of a local eating spot. After a few months of hiatus, Deirdre has a plan to get back on the air in Seattle, but that means leaving behind friends particularly Kevin, who is beginning to own her heart. Deirdre is a combination energizer bunny-Pollyanna as she believes she will be back on top of the game shortly. The story line focuses on her I will return; but the second time around she has a new dilemma, Kevin. During her five-year stay at the top, she had no personal life and assumes that is the norm. Will she pick career or love in spite of Kevin insisting she can have both, Deidre thinks otherwise. Though perhaps too sweet, GOOD THINGS is a fun contemporary romance that fans who enjoy a lighthearted fare will appreciate.

Sheer Pleasure
Maggie Shayne
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425214583 $14.00

"Leather and Lace". Kayla pleads with her prim and proper roommate Martha Jane Biswell to model their latest Leather and Lace lingerie; reluctantly as a favor she agrees because she needs the money and hopes her former boss Clark make that Richard Gable of Gable Brothers Department Stores would not be there. She wanted him, but he fired her replacing her with his bimbo niece. Due to illness and the stupidity of his sibling Richard attends the show and is captivated by the new model Valentine. "Awaiting Moonrise". Following up on a rumor of werewolves in the Bayou though she expects to find a previously undiscovered animal species, Dunkirk University Cryptozoology Professor Jenny offers herself as human bait to lure the creature into a trap. However, though animal magnetism ignites her and her prey, Samuel is no ordinary animal or human. "Daydream Believer". In Pinedale, Celestial Bakery owner Megan Rose has a vision of the missing woman Sarah Dresden so she calls Police Chief Skinner. When she is proven right he sends Detective Sam Sheridan to investigate Megan. These three well written fun novellas are reprints from previous anthologies in which Maggie Shayne was one of the contributors. Though two are supernatural romances and the other a traditional contemporary, the entries are fun to read as each one stars an interesting female protagonist and the hunk salivating over them.

Moon Awakening
Lucy Monroe
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425214265 $7.99

The King demands that Lord Reuben send one of his daughters to marry the merciless Highlander Laird Sinclair. He selects Jolenta, his fourteen years old offspring from his second wife Sybil; however his spouse suggests fifteen years old Abigail though the suggestion is monstrous as the lass is deaf. Sybil's plan is to hide the flaw until the barbarian consummates the marriage. The Baron says no as he does not want war or harm to come to his daughter in case the highlander considers her an abomination; Emily volunteers to Sybil's euphoria and Ruben's consternation. Neither Reuben nor his female family members realize that Sinclair is more than just an aristocrat; he is the chieftain of a werewolf pack. However, Lachlan Balmoral, laird and leader of a rival werewolf pack plans to destroy his enemy who has caused havoc to all the Highlanders. He abducts Sinclair's sister Cait and his fiancee Emily. To his chock Emily accepts his wolf essence without a blink and turns his rage into love, but Sinclair is not one to sit idly by when someone takes a possession from him. He plots to kill the Balmoral and Reuben clans after taking their women, and has a traitor within to abet his endeavors. MOON AWAKENING is an electrifying supernatural historical romance starring a courageous highly moral female and the werewolf who falls in love with her. The story line is fast-paced from the opening eavesdropping to the final confrontation with evil. Lucy Monroe brings to life a unique medieval Scotland filled with the paranormal, the romantic, and the intrigue as she provides a clever tale of yore that deserves sequels starring Cait and the stepsisters.

In the Stars
Eileen Cook
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
042521396X $14.00

Sophie Kinnock cannot believe that her boyfriend of six years, anal Doug Chase, dumped her for a tall blond bimbo Melanie the melons. She decides she wants him back, but first must rid him of the model. Upset she meets kind hearted Nick McKenna at the laundry room and thinks he is cute if you like your men shorter than you. However, he helps her with her convoluted plan to regain Doug starting with her faking being a psychic since the melons believe in readings. Shockingly Sophie proves successful as people flock to her for her forecasting skills except the teacher-munchkin who assisted her at the start. She becomes famous working radio readings. However, Sophie begins to reassess her goal as she finds she loves being with Nick; however he has Cathie so morosely listening to her conscience she refuses to try to break up his relationship, as she did when she attempted to chase melons from her former boyfriend. IN THE STARS is an amusing often satirical contemporary romance that lampoons the psychic world. The story line is refreshed by the short hero who must gaze up into the eyes of his beloved. Part of the fun is learning about Cathie (read the novel to learn just how strong a hold Cathie has on Nick). Readers will enjoy this humorously whimsical tale of love is IN THE STARS.

Saskia Walker & Sasha White
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425213994 $14.00

"Sex, Lies, and Bondage Tape" by Saskia Walker. Following the Clayton Warren concert, Kelly Burton sneaks back stage to obtain an autograph from the rock star for her injured friend who could not attend. She quickly feels like a shocked voyeur as she catches the hunk with a gay lover. However bouncer Tommy Sampson assumes she is a groupie for the pleasure of anyone backstage. They soon share a kinky night of hard and soft rock and roll, but though she wants round two they failed to exchange information. "Watch Me" by Sasha White. Most people use coffee to wake up in the morning; Bethany Mack prefers sex, but her spouse Grant has been too busy so he neglects her carnal needs. Though she loves Grant, she begins to perform bad girl acts for strangers. When Grant learns of her performance for a roofer and a bus passenger, he becomes upset and determined to punish his wife by keeping her sexually satisfied whenever he is home because she will only be the bad girl for him. The sex is fiery kink as the female protagonists in both contributions know what they want and go after their desires. The men are willing partners. Though some of the scenarios seem implausible like the bus (then again there is the When Harry Meets Sally restaurant scene), fans of erotic romance will enjoy the kinkiness of the SW twice the fun (and heat).

Chasing Stanley
Deidre Martin
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425214478 $7.99

In Manhattan dog trainer Delilah Gould is walking Sherman the Golden Retriever, Shiloh the Cairn terrier and Belle the Mutt when she notices the most handsome hunk she has ever seen in her life. With one look Delilah understands love at first sight as she wants to run her fingers through his wavy black hair and gently kiss his hypnotic warm brown eyes. Of course the guy with the Newfoundland canine is okay too though he seems untrained as Stanley the dog disobeys his commands. Delilah intercedes and meets Stanley the hunk and his owner NHL star Jason "yes that's my real teeth" Mitchell who was just traded from Minnesota to the New York Blades. Reluctant at first, Jason soon realizes that Delilah is good with Stanley so he hires her to help his canine adjust to the Big Apple. However, as he pursues Lord Stanley's cup, he falls in love with the dog trainer who proves more difficult than opposing hockey teams. She reciprocates, but while a field officer in command when it comes to her four legged pals, she is reticent when it comes to the two legged stick in the middle types. Different religious beliefs and personalities make for a delightful sport romance as the lead female protagonist uses a BODY CHECK on her beloved who ignores FAIR PLAY when it comes to her by getting her CHASING STANLEY not him. The story line is faster than a slap shot especially when the canines play matchmakers. Though several secondary players deserve time in THE PENALTY BOX for tripping up the story line, hockey fans will enjoy the romance between the hot ticket superstar and his dog trainer.

Broken Borders
Don Bendell
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425212572 $6.99

Though he drank a few at a stop-off at the Denver airport, Army's Criminal Investigation Detachment (CID) Major Bobby Samuels remains alert noticing a Mexican passenger acting slightly strange. He informs his subordinate Captain Bo Devore and soon afterward a flight attendant as he realizes the person is not Mexican, but Middle Eastern. The plain clothes military police investigators thwart a hijacking, but the plane crashes in the Rockies; they insure everyone, except the hijacker, survives until help arrives. However, the two CID agents also learned from the information the deceased terrorist carried of an Al-Qaeda plot to sneak into the country from the porous Mexican border two backpack nuclear bombs to detonate at the same time in two American cities. Thus their mission has changed from investigating a potential Iranian agent at the Monterrey, California Defense Language School to uncovering the whereabouts of the dirty bombs and their holders before the terrorist acts occur. BROKEN BORDERS, the sequel to the exhilarating CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION DETACHMENT, is a superb thriller that provides the audience with a deep look at the work of the CID as part of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). This time the fight is stateside (as opposed to the first tale whose setting is in Iraq). The story line is non stop action from the Colorado crash until the final confrontation as heroic Major Samuels and Captain Devore try to avert a 9/11 repeat as Don Bendell makes a strong case to plug the leak at the Mexican border not because of the vast majority of illegal entrants seeking economic opportunity, but to prevent a monstrous atrocity on American soil.

Lucy Blue, Where Are You?
Louise Harwood
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425213587 $14.00

In London Lucy Blue decides she needs a new life as her job is no fun, her family is drowning her, and her boyfriend Teddy is definitely not for her. She breaks off with Teddy and takes off for a New Year's Eve mini vacation away from friends and family in Scotland mostly to reflect introspectively. However, on the way home, a snowstorm grounds all flights leaving Lucy stranded in Scotland. She accepts an estimated fourteen hour drive with a stranger willing to take her with him to London. To Lucy this is extraordinary as she never goes anywhere with strangers let alone sleep with one, but she did. Back in London she assumes her one night stand is her secret as she plans to return to her rut except for Teddy until she sees the shocking train-station poster: "Lucy Blue, Where Are You?" Should she or should she not is the question. This is a fun English chick lit tale starring a confused lead female struggling with a life that is tedious. Lucy Blue is a fascinating protagonist though her musings seem real as she vacillates but that also feels overly long when reading as her inner introspection slows down the plot. Still this is a solid look at a young woman pondering whether to take chances in order to bring excitement into what she deems is a dull life sentence of ennui.

The Lost Madonna
Kelly Jones
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425214192 $7.99

In 1999 Charley Stover, Dean of an American university in Florence, Italy invites art historian and restorer Suzanne Cunningham to teach a course there. She reluctantly accepts, but also thinks back to November 1966 when she was backpacking in Italy at a time when the Arno River flooded Florence. Suzanne stayed to help with the restoration of invaluable art from the Renaissance while falling in love with her partner on saving masterpieces, Stefano Leonetti; however their tryst ended poorly and she has not returned to the center of her heartbreak until now

Preparing for her class, she reads a book that shocks her with the claim that Duccio di Buoninsegna's late thirteenth century masterpiece Madonna and Child was lost during the flood. Suzanne knows otherwise because she personally restored this precious work of art alongside of Stefano after the torrent. Unable to resist she begins a search to trace THE LOST MADONNA starting with looking for the man who still holds her heart. Using the infamous flood of 1966 as a basis for this thriller, Kelly Jones provides her audience with an electrifying tale of suspense filled with twists until a final confrontation. The story line in many ways an amateur sleuth investigative thriller as the heroine seeks her former lover and through him hoping to learn what happened to the painting they restored. THE LOST MADONNA is a one sitting novel as the art is cleverly intertwined into a delightful investigation led by a lead character whose need to know surpasses her fears of what she will learn.

Mona Lisa Blossoming
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425214336 $14.00

She never fit in to human society and now she knows that it is because she is three quarters Monere, a Mixed Blood with great speed, incredible strength, acute hearing and the ability to shapeshift. Drinking blood is a by-product of her heritage as a child of the moon. She has two lovers Amber and Gryphon, Warrior Lords who willingly will die to protect the new Monere Queen of New Orleans. Unlike the rest of the Monere, Mona Lisa can walk in sunlight, but like her people she also can live for centuries. She has powers that are unique to her including a special healing and has the prowess of all the mighty Queens. Halcyon, the High Prince of Hell, loves Mona Lisa and thanks to his healing skills, she survives the attack of Mona Louisa of Western Mississippi. However to live he must take her back to his abode and survive what awaits her there. This erotic fantasy will appeal to Laurel K. Hamilton's fans because Sunny has constructed a fascinating feudal society living amidst modern day mortals yet hidden in plain sight. Mona Lisa is growing into her powers, but as the first ever Mixed Blood ruler she has enemies including her mother and many she does not know about. Although she can be cruel as needed, Mona Lisa uses compassion and justice to command respect and loyalty. Sunny is blossoming into a star well worth reading.

Causing Havoc
Lori Foster
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425214230 $7.99

SBC heavyweight champ extreme fighter Dean "Havoc" Connor has learned to ignore pain, but not because of the devastating holds of opponents. His life lessons came when he and his sisters became orphans. He was separated from his siblings leading to his dependence on no one, growing up tough and refusing to take bunk from anyone. Dean tastes havoc for the first time since his family was torn apart over two decades ago when he receives a letter from his sister Cam, whom he vaguely remembers as a small girl, begging him to visit her and his other sibling Jacki. Between fights, Dean travels to his hometown of Harmony, Kentucky where he meets a close friend of his sisters, sassy Eve Lavon. They team up to prevent Jacki from making a monstrous marital mistake, but when he tries to court Eve she rejects his advances. The octagon seems like a school playground compared with keeping his family safe and winning Eve's love. Lori Foster is at her best CAUSING HAVOC with this delightful combination family drama, romance, and a bit of a mystery that all blends together into a wonderful contemporary. Though Dean and Eve are the lead characters, the changing relationship between the fighter and his sisters make the tale work as Dean wants to avoid entanglements, but Jacki and especially Cam will not allow him to do so. A secondary romance between Jacki and Gregor enhance the novel with apparently Dean's manager next on the fight (make that romance) card.

Deadly Advice
Roberto Isleib
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425214745 $6.99

Psychologist Dr. Rebecca Butterman is finally getting over the trauma of her divorce caused by seeing her husband having sex in their bed with another woman. She has a clinical practice and writes an advice column for an online women's magazine. One day when she comes home, police cars are at her next door neighbor's house. She finds out from the investigating officer that her neighbor Madeline committed suicide and left a note on her computer. Madeline's mother, Isabel Stanton asks Rebecca to watch her late daughter's cat until she can place it with someone. She also asks the psychologist to find out if her daughter really committed suicide because she doesn't believe it. Not quite sure why she is doing it, Rebecca starts investigating and finds out that Madeline had a very erotic blog and secret love life. A forensic linguist that Rebecca asks to analyze the blog and the suicide note determines that different people wrote each of them. When Madeline's neighbor on her other side is bludgeoned, Rebecca believes the incident is linked to Madeleine's death and her nosing around almost costs Rebecca her life. DEADLY ADVICE is a fine amateur sleuth mystery that has advice questions and answers throughout the book. They give credence to the heroine's career as an advice columnist with a psychology degree because her answers are always realistic. Rebecca is a strong-willed woman who is making a new life for herself after the debacle of her divorce. The only quibble is that the protagonist behaves like a trained cop, following the same path as a homicide detective. Could this mean police officers and psychologists think alike? Judging by the bickering between the sleuth and the shrink they act like two sides of the same coin. Readers will love this mystery because they know "dating can be deadly".

Sweet and Deadly
Charlaine Harris
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425214621 $7.99

It has been six months since her parents died in a car crash and Catherine Linton has returned to Lowfield, Mississippi in the hopes that familiar surroundings will help her healing process along. She is angry because her parents were murdered when their car breaks were deliberately loosened and she wants vengeance for their deaths. She also knows in her heart that the culprit is someone from Lowfield responsible because her parents never locked their car or garage. One day while target shooting at the run down tenant house on her land, she sees the bloody body of a woman who is later identified as Leona Galles, who was her father's nurse more than three decades ago. The sheriff discovers evidence that she was a blackmailer but treats her homicide as a separate incident that isn't connected to the deaths of Catherine's parents. When a reporter dies while investigating the homicides, Catherine believes the same person killed all four people and in a dangerous moment sets out to prove it. Long before Charlene Harris wrote the Sookie Stackhouse tales, she wrote this mystery and it shows the talent that in future years will make her a superstar. Readers get a picture of living in a small town in the Deep South in the 1950s when everyone knows their neighbors and murder is an aberration. Even a quarter a century ago, Ms. Harris was a genius at creating characters who are easy to understand and of course the identity of the villain comes as quite a shock. This is a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining southern gothic mystery.

Dragonwell Dead
Laura Childs
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425213862 $23.95

In Charleston, South Carolina, the annual Spring Plantation Ramble gala begins as the city's affluent open their gardens to the public. A festive atmosphere permeates the entire town as flower shows and rare plant auctions are everywhere. Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning loves the annual event that symbolizes spring to her and not just because business booms which it does during the festivity. She just loves the flowering of Charleston that the Ramble represents. This year she has the added pleasure of selling her new brew, Dragonwell Sweet Tea. Theodosia and her master tea blender Drayton provide the tea stand as a favor to the Broad Street Garden Club at the Carthage Place Plantation where a rare plant auction occurs. Commodities broker Mark Congdon has the high bid for a rare monkey-face orchid for $900. Mark is euphoric over his win, but almost immediate his body goes into a violent fit with foam coming out of his mouth. In spite of Theodosia's CPR efforts he dies. Everyone assumes it is a fatal heart attack until Sheriff Billings' report states cause of death is unspecified toxin. Mark's widow Angie asks Theodosia, who has solved some mysteries, to investigate her husband's death; she reluctantly agrees as her tea is considered the prime suspect by many. As always with a Tea Shop Mystery, readers will appreciate Theodosia's investigation as this time she has the motive of clearing her tea's reputation. The story line is fast-paced as the heroine makes inquiries including out of state that frighten a killer who believes the shop owner may be getting to close to reading the tea leaves. Fans of the series will enjoy this amateur sleuth's latest exploits while savoring the Indigo Tea Shop's recipes with some tips to improve your brewing techniques.

Bennett Davlin
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425207056 $14.00

Near Manaus, Brazil, Harvard graduate student William Terrel spends time with the dangerous Yanomano tribe when he stupidly steals a powder the natives use in rituals. Nearly dead, he is brought to St. Augustine's Hospital in Manaus where Dr. Costas performs an MRI whose results stun the physician. In New England, medical researcher Dr. Taylor Briggs seeks a cure to Alzheimer's that is killing his once brilliant mother and he fears will one day him. When he sees an email of Terrel's MRI, Taylor decides immediately to visit the ailing man, whose brain's activities make no sense. In Brazil, Taylor learns that Terrel died and was cremated, but Dr. Costas, assuming he is from the American consul, gives him the deceased's backpack. Inside Taylor finds a strange powder as he brews tea. He soon "hallucinates" about his father's car. Not long after that in New England he sees a painting by S. Jacobs of a man wearing a coat that reminds him of his dad. After meeting the artist Steph, he has memories of girls being killed that are not his; he believes the powder has enabled him to "recall" the memories of a serial killer genetically linked to him. This exciting thriller will grip readers from the first memory that Taylor envisions when he loses his shoe in the muddy bank of a river while still in his Manaus hotel room. The story line is loaded with twists of memories that can become difficult to follow for the reader and the hero who finds red herrings, death, and love; the latter is a fascinating concept as Taylor ponders if he is in love or is he feeling someone else's memory. Suspense fans will enjoy Bennett Davlin's tense thriller that focuses on what is a real memory (I have seen the movie so cannot comment on it).

Close to You
Kathryn Shay
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425214508 $7.99

Secret Service Agent C.J. Ludzecky is assigned to protect the wife and children of the Vice President. When the father of the Second Lady has a heart attack, she heads to the family lake house to be there for him. C.J. is one of the agents sent to escort and protect Bailey O'Neil whose spouse VP Clay Wainwright accompanies his wife and children to see his in-laws. C.J. finds s three of Bailey's brothers and their mom friendly and nice. The fourth sibling Aidan is another story altogether as C.J. is attracted to him and believes he wants her too. However, as the father of the Second lady recovers from Myocardial infarction as best he can, C.J. knows she must not let her heart get in the way of her mission, as terrorist groups would love to kill Bailey or any family member for that matter; whereas Aidan wants her as much and is not concerned about ruthless killers at first. CLOSE TO YOU, the sequel to SOMEONE TO BELIEVE IN (Clay and Bailey's romance when he was a senator) is a delightful contemporary romance with a late suspense caused by a kidnapping attempt. The story line is character driven as the O'Neil clan comes home to insure Pop is okay with the siblings all having differing personalities (Bailey's nicknames of her brothers seem so apropos). The lead couple is a delightful pairing as she takes her job seriously while he takes her seriously. Readers will enjoy Kathryn Shay's appealing tale wondering whether C.J. will call in that marker she earned.

The Secret Magdalene
Ki Longfellow
The Crown Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, #B1, New York, NY 10019-4305
0307346668 $24.95 1-800-726-0600

Although the daughter of a privileged affluent Jewish aristocrat Mariamne is unable to overtly display her love of learning as females do not obtain a formal education. Thus she secretly studies whatever she, her personal slave Tata, or her father's ward Salome can borrow without anyone knowing. After becoming ill, she began hearing voices in her head that she assumed were prophecies even as she fully recovers from her ailment. When her father catches Salome alone with a young male guest and no escort, he becomes irate and tosses her out with nothing except the clothes that she is wearing. Though he has no evidence except a nebulous guilt by association, he also accuses his daughter of the same outrageous behavior and exiles her to his brother-in-law's house with an admonishment to never see Salome again. Instead Mariamne and Salome, dressed as males, run off to Alexandria, where they study in the library. Eventually Salome meets John the Baptizer while Mariamne finds herself attracted to Yeshu. The latter two share a love and the premonition of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Providing a female perspective to the birth, death, and rebirth of Jesus, readers see a unique viewpoint from that of THE SECRET MAGDALENE. Mariamne and Salome are terrific protagonists, who besides a retelling of the major events in Jesus' life enable the audience to obtain a look at the restricted lifestyle of even a wealthy female in the Holy Land. Though the action is limited, readers who want to a wider feminist glimpse of the last days will want to read Ki Longfellow's fascinating biblical tale.

A Bigger Life
Annette Smith
PO Box 35001, Colorado Springs, CO 80935
1576839958 $12.99 1-800-366-7788

In Eden Plain, Texas, hair stylist Joel Carpenter knows he messed up badly when his high school friend Leslie, who left town almost a decade ago, returned home to help her parents. She and Joel had an affair, which their spouses find out about; this led to Kari divorcing him and sharing custody of their young child Colton; he gets him on weekends like several of the other fathers do. He hopes to make it up to her by being the best dad to their son, but deep down he prays to the Lord, although he distrusts organized religion, that Kari takes him back. However, he soon has other issues to contend with when Kari informs him that she is dying from cancer; they both know Colton must come first. Kari tries to forgive Joel's transgression that devastated their marriage and persuade him to turn to God so that he can forgive himself. However, her comforting message from Psalm 51:17 and kindness from the ex-husbands' posse and others fail to relieve Joel of his anger over why bad things happen to good people at a time when Colton desperately needs his dad because he cannot comprehend what is happening to his mom. Told from the perspective of Joel, A BIGGER LIFE is an enjoyable inspirational family drama that grips the audience from the lead character's opening comment that though his roommate Abe is also a hair stylist, neither are the "stereotype" gay and never slows down as other prejudical notions are shattered. Joel is a terrific protagonist struggling with a battered belief system at a time when he prays to the Lord to save Kari's life and his son needs to believe in him. The support cast augments the understanding of what Joel feels and disbelieves until friends help him find hope on a personal plane with Jesus.

Best New Paranormal Romance
Edited by Paula Guran
c/o Wildside Press
9710 Traville Gateway Dr #234, Rockville, MD 20850
0809556537 $12.95

"The Shadowed Heart" by Catherine Asaro. He is the last empathic starfighter, but his soul has been devastated with all he felt as his comrades died; she is the native who healed his body, but can she restore his heart. "The Hard Stuff" by Paul Barnett. Disabled in combat, he takes out his feelings of inadequacy on his loving wife until he learns how much she gave up out of love for him. "Follow Me Light" by Elizabeth Bear. The public defender loved the crippled attorney, but she married someone else as he was disinterested in a relationship until he realized how much he lost. "Magic in a Certain Slant of Light" by Deborah Coates. The scientist lives her life to a precise cosmic order until she loses her beloved Jeff and turns to magic. "Calypso in Berlin" by Elizabeth Hand. Nymphs know men love and leave them, but she plans to be with her mortal forever. "Fir Na Tine" by Sandra McDonald. They were college lovers who went different ways in life after graduation, but neither forgot how their love was hotter than the sun. "A Maze of Trees" by Claudia O'Keefe. To know one will never go home while adjusting to totally alien environs seems too harsh, but for the bathrobe that provides memories and subsequently solace. "A Treatise on Fewmets" by Sarah Prineas. The College of Magic professor arrives to rid the garden of the monsters, but neither she nor the owner's nephew yet understand a different form of magic is needed to send the pests packing. "Single White Farmhouse" by Heather Shaw The rural cuddly farmhouse and the hunk San Franciscan building meet and fall in love over the Internet. "Walpurgis Afternoon" by Delia Sherman. In the middle class urban neighborhood, a Victorian house is now owned by two resident witches who plan to bring the magic of love to the locals. "A Knot of Toads" by Jane Yolen. Upon the death of her father the scholar returns home to learn what killed him, but finds no allies as no one, even her former lover, is quite like her memories of them. "A Hero's Welcome" by Rebecca York. They were the best of friends until the war made them the worst of enemies, but the hostilities are over with each needing the other yet distrusting one another. These twelve short stories live up to the title as each is an enchanting romantic fantasy. Fun to follow though the format does not allow the paranormal elements to feel believable, readers will appreciate the acute yet quirky tales of mystical love.

The Lying Tongue
Andrew Wilson
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
0743293975 $24.00

Adam Woods has graduated from a university in England and with neither get a job nor a girlfriend to tie him down, he travels to Venice to tutor a sixteen year old boy in English. When he arrives his clients tell him they sent their son to New York City to avoid a scandal but they tell him that reclusive author Gordon Grace, who wrote one book that was a mega-seller, needs a companion and an aid. When he obtains the job, Grace tells him his duties and that he is not to spend most time away from the run down palazzo. Since he wants to write a book, he agrees to his employer's terms. As he gets to know his employer, he realizes he would make an excellent subject for a biography but the man refuses to spend time talking about his past. Adam starts investigating his life first in Venice and then in England where he learns salacious things about his employer. He has enough proof to blackmail the author into helping him write the biography but Adam doesn't know is that Gordon Grace is a sly and clever opponent playing with him as the subject, one that could turn deadly at any moment. This is Andrew Wilson's first fiction novel and it is a masterpiece of Hitchcockian suspense mindful in some ways to the characters of Shaffer's play Sleuth. Neither Adam nor Gordon are likeable characters but the storyline is so compelling that readers are fascinated by the two amoral antagonists and the lengths they will go to order get what they want.

White Blood
James Fleming
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
0743299388 $25.00

Naturalist Charlie Doig loves traveling the globe seeking new discoveries that support Darwin's theories almost as much as he enjoys discovering new women; however Charlie also appreciates his respites at his family "Pink House" near Smolensk, Russia. In 1914, the Academy of Sciences sends him to Turkistan, but the war breaks out throughout Europe leaving him without funds and at least for the moment ending his latest pursuit to prove Darwinism is the only religion. His travels has delayed his plans to one day wed his beloved Cousin Elizaveta, but by 1917, he brings her into his home as his wife after her fiance was assassinated. As civil war breaks out against Tsarist Russia, many come to the Pink House for refuge. When Bolshevik Prokhor Glebov arrives, Charlie recognizes the cunning ruthlessness of the Marxists; he believes they will prove in the short run victorious as the barbarians always take the early triumphs because they understand survival of the fittest means innocent people must die. He also understands social Darwinism that in the long run civilization will return to defeat the barbarian Bolsheviks because they will prove to be the truely fittest, but Charlie doubts he will be there to see it. This is a superb historical thriller that uses Social Darwin theories to provide a powerful look at the survival of the fittest in Russia, which proves by 1917 to be the Bolsheviks as only the ruthlessly strong survive. The story line is action-packed whether Charlie is having adventures in the Far East seeks exotic species or at his Pink House where the prime three groups that make up the Russia struggle to rule converge. Genre readers will appreciate the contrasts between the competitors as each believes they will triumph in a brave new world.

Cloud Watcher
Lilith Saintcrow
ImaJinn Books
PO Box 545, Canon City, CO 81215-0545
1933417188 $14.00

Anya Harris feels all alone in the world as she flees the Dark fires that no one else seems to see. Her only companion as she runs from "the persuasion" is Shell, who depends on her for his well-being as he apparently is a "downs syndrome" person. In Santiago City, she knows she needs a job that will enable her to also keep Shell safe. Instead she meets Watcher Jack Gray, whose centuries of dedication to Circle Lightfall may not redeem him for the atrocities he committed. Jack realizes she is the witch who he has waited seemingly forever to come into his life. He must protect her and her ward with his heart and soul as the Dark has followed her here. Used to having no one protect her back or someone steal her heart, Anya rejects his efforts to keep her safe; still her presence gives him some hope of redemption for the evil he did before he became a Watcher. The Lilith Saintcrow "Watcher' romantic fantasy (see DARK WATCHER, STORM WATCHER, and FIRE WATCHER) is a terrific tale starring two interesting protagonists. Anya trusts no on except Shell who is almost totally dependent on her. Jack has waited forever for his soulmate to bewitch him so has begun to lose faith that he will ever meet her. When they do meet both are stunned, but he knows he first needs to keep her safe because her skills make her special and worth millions, but to do that he also must protect Shell. CLOUD WATCHER is a strong entry in a terrific series.

Winged Darkness
L.F. Hampton
ImaJinn Books
PO Box 545, Canon City, CO 81215-0545
1933417196 $14.00

On the planet Da'tarn the illegal crystal asberylite, banned in much of the Alliance because of its addicting lethal quality, was found by the miners. Pirates led by Synika raided the planet and took much of the ore for its value to put the holder in a sexual daze. They killed many of the planet's inhabitants and took others to sell as slaves. For five months, Mona de'Lacy and her crew aboard the ship the Solitaire have been chasing the pirates because they killed her husband and son. Needing repairs, the Solitaire is forced to land on Valtar, a planet inhabited by a winged vampire like race who need blood to survive. Their leader Lord Zurellius takes one look at her and knows she is his soul mate. He intends to go with her to find the pirates because they took his brother and his wife and he intends to rescue them. Zurellius is no ordinary Valtarian because he drinks predator blood which gives him extraordinary powers but also turns him into an ancient who has killing rages that he has under tight control for the moment. He fears he will one day lose control making him wonder if Mona is better off without him. L.F. Hampton has written a fantastic futuristic romance involving a species that has vampiric like powers. The hero is afraid of what he has become since he drank predator blood but by doing what is forbidden, he turns into an excellent ruler who brought his people back from the edge of extinction. The heroine sees him when he turns yet though the changes shock her, it doesn't destroy what she feels for him. In between chasing space pirates, this couple finds the time to bond for a lifetime.

The Wrong Christmas Carol
J.A. Ferguson
ImaJinn Books
PO Box 545, Canon City, CO 81215-0545
1933417145 $14.95

Gabby D'Angelo and Mike Archer are the objects of their landlord Mr. Shepard's match making efforts but it has been two years and neither has made a move on the other. When Gabby's car gets stolen at the mall, she returns home in a cab; Mike helps her bring her packages to her apartment and waits with her until the police arrive. When they do, they tell her they found her car and her baby Carol who is wearing a hospital ID bracelet. There is only one problem with that scenario: Gabby never gave birth and Mike knows that because he has seen her almost everyday for the last year and knows she was never pregnant. When he calls the hospital, the people in charge confirm Gabby gave birth to Carol on Christmas at midnight. Social services case workers insist Gabby should keep the baby until they find her parents. Mike has them take DNA tests and the results show that Mike and Gabby are Carol's parents. As both adults get closer to the infant, they open their hearts to each other until a misunderstanding threatens to destroy their fledging relationship. Little do they know that in addition to their landlord's meddling, they have a guardian angel trying to rectify a mistake so everyone could be happy. J.A. Ferguson's romance really puts readers in the mood for Christmas. The audience feels happy, contented and satisfied after reading this book about two people who fall in love with a baby and each other. Both the hero and the heroine are decent likeable and heartwarming people; the kind that deserves to have good things happening to them. This is an enchanting paranormal romance.

Hannibal Rising
Thomas Harris
Delacorte Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0385339410 $27.95 1-800-726-0600

His father was Count Lecter and with his wife and their children lived in the family castle in Lithuania; their idyllic life ended when Hitler's troops swept through the land. Hannibal's family moved into their hunting lodge while Quislings served the Nazis who took over the castle and the estate while looting the treasures. For five years the Lector family barely survived on whatever they could hunt, fish, or scrounge. In 1945, Hannibal watched his parents die in a bombing raid. Hannibal and his beloved sister Mischa, who adored her older brother, camped at the lodge. When she is also killed in a horrific way, he blocked it from his mind and became mute. He eventually returned to his family castle which had become a state run orphanage until his uncle takes him to France. There Hannibal and his uncle's wife Lady Muraski connect on a primal level. When a Vichy shopkeeper insults his "aunt", Hannibal kills him as he begins to remember what happened to Mischa and how he will avenge her death. Hannibal's brilliance is demonstrated at an early age and it is that coupled with the personal horrors of war that torment him and turn him into the FBI number one most wanted. While hating the man he becomes, readers will as always be fascinated in a macabre way with him as he deals with one constant trauma after another. However, in spite of the allure that Lecter possesses in this prequel, HANNIBAL RISING is not quite at the level of excellence Thomas Harris has achieved with this character's books mainly because the support cast, key in the other tales, seem one dimensional mostly evil with none behaving remotely heroic. Still fans of RED DRAGON and THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS will enjoy learning how mankind created the monster.

The Blood Spilt
Asa Larsson
Delacorte Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0385339828 $22.00 1-800-726-0600

Three years have passed since Rebecka Martinsson killed three men in self defense and saving the lives of children, but she has not gotten pass the trauma. She cannot sleep and rarely goes to work. When one of the layers at her firm asks her to accompany him to Kiruna, a place she has avoided, she reluctantly agrees to help him try to win the church as a client. When their business is completed, Rebecka decides to stay there in order to confront her demons. She makes friends with a person who has a man's body but a child's mind. When church officials ask her to get the key to a murdered priest's locker, she does; before giving it to them she copies his papers and hands them to the police, which enables her to find peace for the first time in years until another priest is killed and she begins to wonder if another serial killer exists in the area. The first book in this series won Sweden's Best Crime Novel Award and readers will agree that THE BLOOD SPLIT is worthy of at least further nominations. This is a literary crime tale with a cast of memorable realistic characters. The audience will feel sorry for Rebecka who has suffered much trauma due to the priest killings. Asa Larsson follows up the terrific SUN STORM with an excellent thriller.

Griffin's Daughter
Leslie Ann Moore
Avari Press
P.O. Box 11325, Lancaster, PA 17605
1933770015 $18.95

All her life Jelena has known prejudice because she is half elf and the Soldaran Empire believes elves are soulless evil demons. The Duke of Amsara, who is her uncle, keeps her out of sight; her only friends are her foster mother Claudia and her cousin Magnes. When her uncle sells her to another noble as his concubine, the two cousins run away seeking Alasiri, the land of elves. Attacked by bandits, they are rescued by Ashinji Sakehera, who has dreamed constantly of Jelena. He takes the twosome to Kerala Castle where she heals from injuries and Magnes returns home to face his irate father for abetting the escape of his cousin. Jehena's blue fire attracts the attention of the Nameless One, an evil entity who wants the Key and the talisman so he can return to the living. A group of elves have plans for Jehena and Ashinji to use them as expendable pawns to defeat the Nameless One. They believe destiny will save this pair especially if they marry but to persuade his parents to allow him to wed a half-breed seems unlikely in spite of love and even if the realm is at stake. This is the opening tale of what looks to be a great epic fantasy. Refreshing the saga is prejudice so overwhelming that even with a world at stake few bend let alone move past their bias. Jelena is a fascinating protagonist used to being the subject of scorn and de jure and de facto discrimination because she is half elf, which has enabled her to become independent and brave as she faces the ridicule of others. Fantasy fans who read this author's first published tale will demand Moore adventures in the Soldaran Empire and beyond.

The Killing Moon
Chuck Hogan
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
0743289641 $25.00 1-800-223-2336

Don Maddox left Black Falls, Massachusetts on a community scholarship with the promise of returning to provide five years of service. He finally did come home fifteen years later to attend the funeral of his mother. Everyone assumed he would leave again as a town without an ATM cannot keep its young any longer. However, Don fools the townsfolk when he decides to stay, which leads to speculation. Though with no law enforcement experience joins the police force renowned for their corruption and abuse; most locals conclude he must be dishonest too perhaps with drugs. However, his traffic patrol during the graveyard shift runs ugly when a murder occurs. Soon the Massachusetts State Police arrive to investigate the homicide and more at the same time the former police chief Pinty is trying to persuade them to look at his department and no one can figure out where the loose cannon Don fits, not even Tracey Mithers who is falling in love with him. The small town cast make for a strong gripping and sinister thriller as readers learn who the bad guys are and what Don's secret agenda is. The ending is expected from the moment the readers follow Don's first shift driving the blue lights, but no one will care as fans will be hooked from that onset to learn what is going on in Black Falls under THE KILLING MOON.

Through These Doors
Dwight Alexander as told to Gail Nash Tunnell
Word Association Publishers
205 5th Avenue, Tarentum, PA 15084
1595711252 $14.95

His mother called Dwight Alexander while he was in Tulsa attending a business seminar five hours from his Texas home with the stunning news of the car wreck. His wife Tina died on impact and their two young sons are critically injured. Grant was flown to the East Texas Medical Center with a head injury; Collin was flown to Mother Frances Hospital with traumas from the neck down. He had no time to grieve for his spouse or leave roses as his first priority is his children. As his sons live in surgery rooms, he prays that God will provide two miracles. This is true account of the Alexander tragedy and ordeal with prayer being the father's solace even with loved ones and hospital staff rallying around him and his kids. Throughout his personal horror, Alexander never lost faith in the Lord though he did not understand why his wife so young had to die and perhaps his sons too. THROUGH THESE DOORS is an inspirational true story that will turn cynics into believers with its low keyed journal of turning to God though never knowing whether his boys will live.

Reading Between the Lines
Rick Hamlin
Howard Publishing Co., Inc.
3117 North 7th Street, West Monroe, LA 71291
1582295786 $12.99

In New York her best friend wannabe actress Dorothy Hughes persuades flutist Elizabeth Ash to accompany her to a rummage sale. Elizabeth buys a few used books including a fascinating Regency romance by Harriet Mueller. However, the love story that hooks her is not part of the published novel, but instead written in BETWEEN THE LINES by a former reader to her "Darling" along the margins. Elizabeth feels the couple seems very familiar and wants to give the book back to the husband. Casting director Jim Lockhart has moved on somewhat past the death of his beloved wife by diving into his work at Babcock, Crier, and Nelson and turning to prayer. The vocation keeps the loneliness away while asking "Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me. Make haste to help me. Rescue me and save me. Let thy will be done in my life" This provides him some solace. He casts Dorothy Hughes in a commercial and she introduces him to Elizabeth. Both will agree that the Lord works in mysterious ways. Rotating perspective between Jim and Elizabeth, READING BETWEEN THE LINES is a warm second chance at love tale starring two likable but fearful individuals. Readers will sympathize with Jim who mourns the loss of his beloved spouse who was too young to die from cancer and lonely Elizabeth too afraid to take a chance on a permanent relationship. Readers will enjoy their endearing courtship filled with doubt, fear, and love.

Mia the Meek
Eileen Boggess
Bancroft Press
PO Box 65360, Baltimore, MD 21209
1890862460 $16.95 1-800-637-7377

As she begins her freshman year at St Hilary's High School, fourteen year old Mia the Meek decides she will change her image from scaredy cat to extrovert. She knows it will not be easy because she needs to ditch her glasses and remove those rail lines on her teeth, but Mia the bold will go forth and do social things hopefully with Jake, the impetus for her need to change her image as a hunk like him would never notice a nerd like her. Her biggest problems besides her younger brother are her mom teaches English at the school so academic and behavioral expectations are beyond the stratosphere. Shockingly she wins the election for class president defeating the most popular female at St. Hilary's in the process. More stunning Jake seems to like her. However, as Mia becomes increasingly "bootyilicious" she makes new friends and begins to leave behind her old pals who were always there for her nerd or not, but mostly finds she enjoys athletic contests with her new neighbor terrible Tim. They are the most fun. Mia the terrific is a delightful protagonist who takes chances and makes mistakes, but keeps trying. Middle school readers will enjoy her escapades as she lands in one fiasco after another. MIA THE MEEK is an amusing character driven look at crashing into the high school in crowd.

Jade Tiger
Jenn Reese
Wildside Press
9710 Traville Gateway Dr. #234, Rockville , Md 20850
080955674X $12.95

In Hunan Province, China, the intruders attack the Sanctuary of the Jade Circle, but instead of fighting back, her mother sends her twelve year old daughter Shan Westfall to safety. She also leaves her beloved offspring with the protection of one of the five jade statues, the tiger. Sixteen years later, Shan searches for the four missing statues (the crane, snake, leopard, and dragon) to complete the circle; as well as seeking information on her mother. Thus her quest takes her to Risley University in Upstate New York where she comes upon a kung fu expert beating up archeology Professor Ian Dashell. She intercedes and though a tough fight she prevails over her foe. Courageous though no athlete, Ian joins Shan on her mission that takes them into danger in Europe and Hong Kong. On their global trek, the soulmates struggle to survive a malevolent enemy while searching for this evil who destroyed the Jade Circle, but needs the last animal to complete his nefarious plans. JADE TIGER is a stupendous romantic fantasy starring a nerdy male professor and a warrior woman. The half Chinese half-American Shan is an improbable yet stupendous superheroine out of the Lara Croft School of kick butt women. Readers will admire her spunk, skill and tenacity as she lands in one precarious situation after another. In some ways her soulmate Ian is even braver as she was trained for this from childhood while he is not Indiana Jones, but his strength of spirit insists he stand by his beloved, which enables her to overcome her doubts that she might succeed when her mom failed. Jenna Reese writes an enchanting saga.

Emotionally Engaged: A Bride's Guide to Surviving the "Happiest" Time of Her Life
Allison Moir-Smith
c/o Penguin Group, USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0452288037 $14.00 1-800-847-5515

With runaway brides making the news psychotherapist Allison Moir-Smith's reference book is timely as a guide to coping with the demands on emotionally engaged females starting with the lifetime commitment relationship while also keeping your day job. The book is easy to read while avoiding dumbing down or accusations. The opening two chapters set the tone for "The Happiest time of My Life" and "The Fantasy vs. the Reality of Being Engaged". Both debunk the mythos that everything comes up rosy for a future bride. The rest of the book is broken into the three stages of engagement starting with four sections involving the "Ending", three on "Bridging", and one on the "Beginning". This tome is an ideal present for the bride (and to a degree the groom) as it intelligently guides the reader through reasonable and not so reasonable fears of what is a major life decision. Whereas everyone in the inner circle including those recently graduated from the engagement marathon expect the woman to be euphorically elated ignoring their own trepidations, trials and tribulations; this book wisely does not assume this must be happiest time of my life.

The Garden of Ruth
Eva Etzioni-Halevy
c/o Penguin Group, USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0452286735 $14.00 1-800-847-5515

In Ramah, Uncle Samuel the prophet sends his intelligent fifteen year old niece Osnath to Bethlehem to uncover the truth inside of the sweetly wrapped tale of the lass' ancestor Ruth the Moabite, who married Boaz after another male in-law rejected her. Samuel specifically wants her to name the unnamed man who refused to wed Ruth. Osnath stays with her relatives of the clan of Jesse where he wants her to read the documents in the scroll room to uncover the identity of the anonymous lover. However, everyone in the clan of Jesse wants her to drop her research; especially Jesse's oldest son, Eliab diligently guards the scroll room from her. He tries to distract the teen through seduction, even while she sleeps with his charming youngest brother David the shepherd. Part One follows Osnath "In the Footsteps of Ruth" while Part Two focuses on the "Tale of Ruth" from the first hand perspective of Ruth. Readers will enjoy both sections that enable the comparison of the biblical legendary Ruth and her generation to that of her great-grandchildren as well as a fresh look at her saga. THE GARDEN OF RUTH is a delightful explicit look at the plight of women in ancient times.

A Wicked Snow
Gregg Olsen
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0786018291 $6.99 1-800-345-2665

When Hannah was a young girl, she watched the inferno destroy her family barn with the pure virgin snow making quite an eerie panoramic backdrop to the yellow orange. When the blaze was finally put out and the area cooled enough to investigate, the police find numerous corpses including that of Hannah's mother whose pink halo in the snow will be inside Hannah forever The arsonist-murderer was never caught and eventually the case went as cold as the wintry night that it occurred on. Her mother's homicide was the impetus that led to Hannah becoming a crime scene investigator though she has never worked on trying to uncover who the killer is. Now two decades later in Southern California, Hannah is married to Ethan Griffin and raising their daughter Amber together as she hides what happened that fatal day from even her loved ones. Her current assignment involves a child abuse case when a message from the grave reaches out to her forcing Hannah to begin an investigation before history repeats itself with her and perhaps even Amber being the target. The vivid use of contrasting colors provides a powerful background to a deep psychological suspense investigative thriller. The story line is action-packed as the audience wonders whether the heroine has gone over the edge after receiving the dramatic note of "Your mom called" when she had buried that day deep inside her mind. Gregg Olsen writes a terrific tense thriller that grips the audience once Hannah realizes she must become the predator before the culprit targets her loved ones to get at her.

Tiger Prince
Iris Johansen
Dell Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0553590391 $4.99 1-800-726-0600

Jane Barnaby and her guardian Patrick Reilly are on the Indian subcontinent constructing a railroad. When goldsmith John Kartauk angers the son of the maharaja Prince Abdar, Jane hides him. Abdar is outraged that he has not had the opportunity to display his displeasure with John; he cuts a deal with the MacClarens, Scottish half-brothers, Ian and Ruel, to find John. The MacClaren siblings believe that if they locate the also vanished Jane, they will have John too. Roguish Ruel sees he can make a better deal by helping Jane get John to safety beyond the reach of the maharaja and consequently his son. The escape attempt fails miserably leading to a horrific mishap. Ruel holds Jane culpable for the failure and vows to avenge the catastrophe by sexually humiliating the woman he loves. This is a reprint of an early 1990s romantic thriller that brings to life late nineteenth century India through mostly the eyes of Jane, but somewhat through the male support cast. .However, the deep look at the environs is a two edged sword as the background at times overwhelms the plot. Still in spite of not being among Iris Johansen's top works, fans of the author will enjoy watching the escapades of the lead duet, a likable pairing of distrusting souls in love and hate while wondering which emotion will conquer the other.

Dangerous Games
Keri Arthur
Dell Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0440336783 $6.99 1-800-726-0600

Dhampire Riley Jenson, half human, half vampire is now a guardian in the Directorate of Other Races. As a guardian she is judge, jury, and executioner when one of the non-human races breaks the laws. She is working two cases now, one in which nine people died from what looks like the bites of newly risen vampires. Her other case concerns the death of three women who has scars on their back, a missing pinkie on their left hands and their organs removed. Riley's personal life is in chaos because the vampire Quinn wants a monogamous relationship with her while she wants to play the field until she meets her werewolf soulmate who can give her children (vampires can't). She also has to worry about a former guardian who has gone rogue and is determined to pull her. Quinn is involved in a personal matter concerning hunting down demons which intersects with Riley's cases but he refuses to share information with her and as a result she almost dies by fiends not of this world. Australian Keri Arthur is one of the best writers of paranormal romantic suspense novels. Her world building is believable and readers really like her heroic protagonists because they feel as if they know them. Riley's vampire and werewolf want a commitment from her, which "humanizes" her while also serves as a tension reliever from the fast paced, action-packed sometimes gory storyline.

Tempting Evil
Keri Arthur
Dell Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0553588477 $6.99 1-800-726-0600

On an earth where supernatural beings like vampires, werewolves, and shapeshifters exist side by side with humans, a Guardian of the Directorate of Other Races is police, judge, jury and executioner for when a preternatural being breaks the law. One of the members of the Directorate is Riley who is training to become a guardian; she passed the test when she survived fighting the vampire Gautier and drawing his blood while fighting. Riley, a half vampire-half werewolf, is ready to infiltrate Deshon Starr's crime cartel. She intends to make him pay for kidnapping her, abusing her and injecting her with ARCI-23, which enhances her powers l as well as causing her to gain new ones. To get into Deshon's compound she has to pass as one of the fighters in the ring and she has unexpected help from the psychic Dia who will do this in exchange for Riley getting her daughter out of Deshon's control. Once she is there she makes another ally, the spirit lizard Ikotr who will aid her if she finds the device that will free his friends. Quinn, the vampire who wants her but doesn't trust werewolves because they don't make commitments, is on the estate hoping to kill Deshon because he killed a friend of his. Riley's life is in danger from many directions and she needs to takes the final step that will make her either a full fledged guardian or otherwise she will be another victim of Deshon's madness. This is an exciting and ensorcelling tale that will appeal to fantasy, romance, horror, and mystery fans. The villain is a vile antagonist who creates genetic mutations in the lab to act as his assassins, as well as clones which he grows to control. Riley has more courage, and strength than even her fraternal twin brother and she will do what is right at any personal cost. Keri Arthur is a talent on a par with Tanya huff, Kim Harrison and Laurell K.Hamilton.

Lois Greiman
Dell Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0440243610 $6.99 1-800-726-0600

They met when she was his number one murder suspect in the death of her mentor.. They were together again over another criminal investigation. Los Angeles psychologist Christina McMullen is having her first date with Police Lieutenant Jack Rivera when his cell phone rings; he informs her that there is troubling involving former senator Miguel Rivera, his father. A suspicious Christina follows Jack to his father's house where she sees the dead body of Salina Martinez, the senator's fiancee, who happened to be Jack's ex-lover. Jack swears he did not kill her claiming he was unconscious. Christina does not want to get involved in another murder case, but does so as Miguel appeals to her to help his son. She does some investigating even after the police determine an accident occurred due to leaking gas as Christine thinks a homicide was committed. Besides five degrees of Rivera, the emotions the protagonists bring out in each other makes the reader wonder whether they will make love or kill one another or both at the same time. Using humor as a tension reliever, Lois Greiman writes a snappy and sharp whodunit with a heroine who went from street smart cocktail waitress to brainy psychologist with a thriving practice. Christine is intelligent, brave and steals the show turning UNSCREWED into must reading for fans of Stephanie Plum.

The Liar's Diary
Patry Francis
c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10014-3657
0525949909 $24.95 1-800-847-5515

In Bridgeway thirty-seven years old school secretary Jeanne Cross is unhappy with her life especially with her spouse Gavin who controls everything through psychological and economic manipulations. She is also concerned over the behavior of their teenage son Jamie, but Gavin ignores her as boys will be boys. Jeanne has never defied Gavin on anything until vibrant forty-six years old new teacher Alice "Ali" Mather arrives in town. Jeanne makes friends with the newcomer over the objection of her husband. Ali's elan gives Jeanne renewed hope that she could find something to lift her spirits. The repressed female also knows she envies her new pal's ability to remain upbeat and seemingly lives life to the fullest. As Gavin objects and threatens his wife, Ali hops into one sordid incident after another leaving a sad Jeanne to wonder whether her staid existence is superior to the fulfilled life of her friend though she admits morality is boringly tedious. Now Ali insists someone is breaking into her home, but stealing nothing. When murder occurs evidence points at Jamie shaking up further his already confused mom. This is a chilling psychological suspense thriller told by Jeanne who is shocked and awed with the freedom and spirit of the newcomer. The story line is character driven as the prim and proper Cross family hides their individual vulnerabilities and obsessions from the world, but readers know them due to Jeanne's account. The intrusion and murder mystery add depth to an entreating look at disturbed individuals in which the audience will be stunned by realistic fascinating Gestalt like twists in which the obvious is not necessarily the truth.

The Alexandria Link
Steve Berry
Ballantine Trade Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0345485750 $25.95 1-800-726-0600

Cotton Malone has retired from the spy game and has opened a bookstore in Copenhagen. He is shocked when his ex-wife Pam shows up at his apartment saying their teen-aged son has been kidnapped. Applying skills he has never forgotten he rescues his son and deposits him with a trusted friend. The kidnappers wanted Cotton to give them THE ALEXANDRIA LINK who is George Haddad, a historical biblical scholar. Haddad was invited to go on a quest and if he succeeds he would be shown the Library of Alexandra. Unfortunately he told the wrong people about it and the Israelis tried to kills him. Cotton is the only person who knows where he is. Haddad has knowledge than can change the world beliefs if what he believes of the Abraham Covenant ("God's land given to the people of Israel") is true. That knowledge is thought to be found in the Library of Alexandra and both Arab and Israeli groups are following the Pam and Cotton on their quest. The cartel the Order of the Golden Fleece wants to use the Covenant when it is found to make a fortune from the chaos that will result in the Middle East once its contents is made known. Some highly placed forces in the U.S. government want the covenant used to destroy Israel. The Arabs want it to destroy Israel. Cotton and Pam have a hard journey ahead to find what they are looking for; as assassins from various groups and countries trail him. The author of the bestseller THE TEMPLAR LEGACY writes another chilling thriller based on the premise knowledge is power that can shake up an entire world. Cotton is accompanied on his quest/mission by his ex-wife who finally sees what her husband did during the years of their marriage and comes to understand him better. Readers will like the hero, a person who values honesty and honor above all.

To Keep a Husband
Lindsay Graves
Ballantine Trade Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0345485491 $17.95 1-800-726-0600

In San Carlino, California, the ex-wives continue their efforts TO CATCH A HUSBAND though their standards remain high – he must be rich; breathing is not a necessity though a wealthy hunk would be nice. Poor and even middle class need not apply. Caitlin Latch fakes being affluent rationalizing that her preadolescent son Aiden will grow up in a safe environs; she knows that if she was honest about her living standard she would end any chance of hooking up with male money. Jessica DiSantini has doubts about seeing a composer. Finally pill popper Janey Martinez exercises to the extreme to forget her financial woes. The only one remarried Lally Chandler Clemente finds her new found wealth in jeopardy when her lowlife daughter comes home not to see her, but to gain the benefits of cozying up to her new zillionaire "stepfather". The second Ex-Wives novel continues the escapades of women seeking a wealthy second husband with the exception being Lally trying to keep her second wealthy husband. Lindsay Graves' skill is to make these gold-diggers into sympathetic characters even the nasty Janey as each has an objective of maintains a lifestyle of the rich and famous even if when they cannot afford the cost of luxury. Fans of lighthearted romantic satirical romps will enjoy this fun tale as Lally tries TO KEEP A HUSBAND and the others try TO CATCH A HUSBAND.

Oath of Swords
David Weber
Baen Books
PO Box 1403, Riverdale, NY 10471
1416520864 $15.00 1-800-223-2336

When the War God demands the service of a human, four of the Five Races know to heed his words. The fifth race, the Hradani, are too busy going berserker even amidst themselves when they are not thieving from others to care what any God commands though they reluctantly obey once the blood letting calms down; albeit calming being a relative term. Rage is the norm for this species. Prince Bahzell Bahnakson is a typical uncivilized Hradani barbarian who the War God has selected to perform a quest. Bahzell has no time for deity intrusion on his life as he has personal issues beyond being a detested Hradani that has forced him to flee with a price on his head that brings fortune seekers after him. He asks himself why he is trekking at the bidding of the War God accompanied only by a horrendous ballad singer as the realm seemingly wants him dead. Assassins are a minor harassment; demons a bit more trouble. More worrisome is a pantheon of Gods ordering him about; thank goodness he is a Hradani used to ignoring everyone and every thing even sorcery except his instincts; though lately he is not sure what are his thoughts and what a deity or sorcerer whispers. However, the worst punishment of all confronting him is bad poetry. This is a reprint of an entertaining mid 1980s epic fantasy that can be read by itself though the sequel THE WAR GOD'S OWN enhances understanding of the antihero. The quest is amusing and tense as Bahzell accompanied by the bad poet land in one quagmire after another with an assortment of characters either wanting him dead or obeying their demands though much of the latter commands are contradictory adding to his dilemma. With a wink at the quest fantasy thrillers, David Weber shows he can leave his deep space heroines to write an enjoyable fantasy.

Echoes of an Alien Sky
James P. Hogan
Baen Books
PO Box 1403, Riverdale, NY 10471
1416521089 $24.00 1-800-223-2336

Almost two decades ago Venus landed a manned spacecraft on Earth to find the ruins of an intelligent society. Scientists, archeologists, and other professionals arrive to study what became of the earthlings. Not long afterward, colonists arrive. Back home the findings have divided the Venusians into traditionalists who welcome what the creator Vizek has provided and the Progressives who believe Venus is in trouble for accepting the status quo; each side sees the ruins of earth differently. Kyal joins a Venusian expedition whose goal is to reconstruct the history of the Terran race especially why it became extinct; the most prevalent theory is an outer space calamity caused climatic destruction. Amidst the ruins, Kyal meets biologist Lorelei, who seeks an explanation as to why life forms on both planets are similar since Venus is considered a much younger planet than Earth yet all evidence proves that life on earth died before life on Venus emerged. The work performed by Kyal and Lorelei will have major impact on Venusian society on two planets. This is an interesting science fiction thriller mindful of the movie 5 Million Miles To Earth. The story line contains two premises; the first (and more fascinating) being the Venusians struggling with the archeological ruins of the great Terran society to learn what happened to destroy it; the second being the major conflict back home between progressives seeking change and traditionalists insisting Vizek set the values which need to remains the same. When the intrusion of the earth findings occur, this tale is top rate as just finding the remains impact how a race sees itself, but when the plot focuses on the dispute itself it loses its orbit. Still readers will enjoy this delightful look at the ruins of earth.

Insufficient Mating Material
Rowena Cherry
Love Spell
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
0505527111 $6.99 1-800-481-9191

In 1994 (earth equivalent date) in the Tigran Empire, Prince Djetthro-Jason knows he lost the duel to Tarrant-Arragon in which to the victor went the empire, the Ark Imperial, and any woman he desired. To the loser in the Great Djinn tradition went death, but for some unknown reason the conqueror allows his opponent to live as a love slave to Princess Martia-Djulia, the sister of the taunting winner. Alpha male Commander Jason is dead and crippled surgically with a tattoo you know where to symbolize his insufficiency. The altered Prince Djetthro-Jason must live as a subservient FORCED MATE to a beta female. Prince Tarrant-Arragon's brilliant plan is to eliminate two natural enemies by forcing them to mate. Thus the loser Jason is stuck with the centerfold of Fashionista. However, Martia-Djulia refuses to wed that loser so she runs away to avoid the public mating rite. Soon she and her INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL are stranded on a not so deserted isle with enemies surrounding them who want them both left dead there. This is a terrific science fiction romance in which the world building is so stupendous readers will believe they are visiting an alien landscape with different societal values and norms. The action-packed story line focuses on two manipulated individuals with pasts that make both vulnerable and threats. As they struggle to survive while falling in love, Djetthro is willing to die to keep his "Marsh" safe and Martia concludes she willingly mates with a hero. With her Tigran Empire tales, Rowena Cherry is staking a claim as the Empress of heated science fiction romantic thriller.

The Oxford Murders
Guillermo Martinez
The Penguin Press
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
014303796X $13.00 1-800-847-5515

The twenty-two years old Argentine math student finds the smothered corpse of his elderly landlady, Mrs. Eagleton; the police assume a relative did the deed. However, at the same time that the woman was murdered, Oxford logician Arthur Seldom, author of a book on the mathematics of serial killers, receives an enigmatic note that implies this homicide is the first of a series linked by a strange pattern with Mrs. Eagleton representing the circle. The nameless student informs his professor what he found. Death number two occurs in a nearby hospital and the third one at an outdoor concert. However, as Seldom and his Argentine assistant dig closer to the mathematical pattern behind the serial killing, a seemingly unrelated bus crash kills ten Down Syndrome children; the mass murderer in that horrifying incident is the bus driver, who apparently was seeking useful lungs for a transplant for his dying daughter. However, Seldom sees a link to the mathematical serial killer making him wonder if a third party might be manipulating everyone including him by bringing chaos, perhaps Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, or Wittgenstein's paradox into the geometrical pattern of the serial killer. Math, murder, and mayhem what more can a reader ask for. The story line is fast-paced with the mathematical theories delightfully explained (in short prose) as part of solving the whodunit. Seldom and the unnamed narrator- student assistant are fully three dimension characters. However, what makes THE OXFORD MURDERS a brilliant cerebral mystery is the core underlying philosophy that even homicides (especially in literature) contain patterns though these may be psychologically falsely forced to cause the reality of chaos to become acceptable as no one likes a vacuum.

Heart-Shaped Box
Joe Hill
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0061147931 $24.95 1-800-242-7737

Rock star Judas Coyne loves collecting gruesome macabre junk. He always checks E-Bay and other on-line sites to see if any collectibles are for sale. He recently purchased a suit at an online auction in which the seller claims the attire is haunted by the ghost of the dead owner. Judas thinks of five degrees of separation when he learns who the ghostly owner of the suit is; apparently his new possession belonged to the late Craddock McDermott, the stepfather of a superfluous groupie he tossed aside before she committed suicide over being coldly discarded by the famous rocker. Craddock vowed revenge when he was alive but had to wait for death to complete his quest as his spirit plans to kill Judas. The dueling lead characters make this a fascinating psychological ghost story as nothing is quite like it seems. Readers will start off thinking Judas is a cold hedonist and Craddock is kindhearted stepfather who cannot rest until he obtains an eye for an eye. However, agendas and deeper motives surface during the exciting story line that will have the audience stunned. Horror fans will believe in ghosts at least in Joe Hill novels.

Cat Pay the Devil
Shirley Rousseau Murphy
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060578106 $24.95 1-800-242-7737

In Molena Point, California, Dulcie tells her two feline pals Joe Grey and Kit that she is worried about her housemate retired federal officer Wilma Getz, who just vanished without a word from a shopping mall. Joe Grey thinks his friend is being an inane female as her human companion has left home before, but three days have passed and Dulcie is panicking that something bad happened to Wilma especially since Cage Jones escaped from prison, a place he went to because of Wilma's testimony in court. When someone shoots Wilma's former partner Mandell Bennnett and local resident Linda Tucker is killed, though he cannot see a link, Joe Grey believes that Dulcie is right and Wilma is in trouble. The cat trio follows Wilma's trail to the nearby hills where undomesticated cats reside and learn that someone abducted her and her niece Charlie, the wife of police Captain Max Harper. Assuming Cage and an associate have more than revenge in mind, the cats begin a rescue attempt before Dulcie's housemate and her relative are killed. Fans of the series will take great delight as the fearsome felines search for and try to rescue one of their human housemates from an avenging killer with an extra unknown (to the cats) agenda. The story line is action-packed as the personified cats discuss the case in English amidst themselves, some wild felines, and a few humans. Though newcomers may have difficulty listening to the animals chatter in human tongue as that is a key premise from the start, long time fans will welcome the latest feline amateur sleuthing.

Storm Runners
T. Jefferson Parker
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060854235 $25.95 1-800-242-7737

In California, Mike Tavarez, a top gun in the Mexican Mafia La Eme, sets off a bomb intended to kill Orange County detective Matt Stromsoe. Matt is severely injured, but his wife and son die in the blast. As he heals physically, the scars remain mentally although Tavarez, his former high school classmate, is convicted of murder and sentenced to spend life in prison. Finally able to go back to work, Stromsoe accepts work guarding San Diego meteorologist Frankie Leigh from a stalker. Stromsoe soon realizes that the culprit was hired by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to prevent Leigh, whom they consider a major nuisance, from presenting her research into rainmaking. This is an exciting suspenseful thriller that has a great opening sentence that sets the stage for the two antagonists. The story line is fast-paced with the audience totally hooked with a High Noon anticipation from T. Jefferson Parker cleverly building up from that first line crescendo. The deep look at La Eme interwoven into the plot is fascinating and Mr. Parker provides a fabulous crime thriller with a touch of weather science to enhance the stormy confrontational expectations as everyone knows what weather is coming.

You Suck
Christopher Moore
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060590297 $21.95 1-800-242-7737

Elijah is an eight hundred years old vampire suffering from ennui so he turned Jody Stroud into one of his kind and taught her how to survive before she turned her boyfriend Tommy Flood after drinking from him one time too many. Elijah is now trapped inside a bronze statue that eh cannot escape from while Tommy has only been a vampire for two weeks and Jody not much longer; they remain ignorant about their new condition. Tommy's friends, the Animals, go to Vegas using Elijah's money. The police take Elijah's collection and inform them they will not stake them if they leave the city immediately. Tommy's supervisor knows he turned and calls the cops while Elijah escaped his incarnation and seeks revenge. Tommy, Jody, the wino William, his cat Clint and sixteen years old Goth Abby prove no help as they struggle to survive against a big bad angry adversary. Christopher Moore is in top form as he writes a hilarious love story about two fledgling vampires and the people who want them dead. Jody relishes the change because she no longer fears living while Tommy seeks returning to being a human. Their antics along with a delightful support cast, even ancient Elijah, make YOU SUCK a fun happening.

Natural Born Charmer
Susan Elizabeth Phillips
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060734574 $24.95 1-800-242-7737

Chicago Stars star quarterback Dean Robillard hurts his shoulder in a serious injury that forces him to reflect on life after football. He takes to the road in his Aston Martin when he sees a woman wearing a beaver costume walking along the road in Colorado. He stops to offer her at least a lift. Blue Bailey is broke, unemployed, and stranded so she accepts a ride with the hunk with luxurious wheels. They drive to Dean's new farmhouse in Tennessee with him trying to make it with her and she resisting his NATURAL BORN CHARM as the miles flies by. By the time they reach the Volunteer State they are in love, but though opposites in outlook each shares the trait of distrusting others having experienced first hand betrayal. The third football romance is a charming contemporary tale starring two likable protagonist who have been sacked in previous relationships so have fourth down doubts about going for it. The road show east is filled with verbal battling as each tries to score and actually picks up at the farm where his mom shows up to penalize the lead duo with pass interference. Sports romance fans will enjoy the latest Stars tale and seek out previous team player sagas (see HEAVEN, TEXAS and NOBODY'S BABY BUT MINE).

Hurricane Punch
Tim Dorsey
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060829672 $24.95 1-800-242-7737

Serial killer Serge A. Storms and his friend Coleman storm across Florida as tourists tracking hurricanes in a "borrowed" vehicle. FBI Special Agent Mahoney follows the path of destruction caused by the Storm; that is the Storm Serge, who provides his unique brand of justice while Coleman gets stoned. Serge seeks history on their safari, but will also do what he does best, kill those he thinks deserve death. Hurricane extortionists are public enemy number one in his mind so when he runs across a price-gouger, he renders death unto them just like he assumes President Bush would expect a loyal American to execute. He is gentler with the media though he thinks they are begging parasites who deserve death for their pathetic coverage, but he realizes they suicide over one another with their feeble reporting. Life in the eye of the Storm is death. The plot is a bit loose, but fans of the Stormster will not care as he is providing satirical justice to bad dudes as defined by him. The story line is fast-paced and filled with local Florida history as Serge and Coleman traverse the state. However, the trademark biting absurdity of American pretenses involving a horde of subjects like fast food, the Bush, the media, hurricane watchers and government responses (more like alibis), loud music lovers, and as always Florida are ripped past their claimed moral high-ground to the ridiculous insides in this delightful mocking thriller with the punch of a hurricane.

Water Like A Stone
Deborah Crombie
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060525274 $24.95 1-800-242-7737

Police officers Duncan Kincaid, his live-in lover Gemma James, her five year old son, Toby, his thirteen year old son Kit and their two dogs are spending the Christmas holidays with his parents. Their vacation gets off to a bad start when Duncan's sister Juliet, a builder, finds the remains of an infant in a walled-up part of the building that she is remodeling. Kit is trying to befriend Juliet's daughter Lilly who is still mourning the drowning death of her friend Peter. Juliet's husband Casper has turned against his wife thanks to the machinations of his business partner Piers because she knows he is embezzling funds in their investment business. A social worker trying to help a former client who is mortally ill is murdered and Duncan finds himself helping the local authorities on that case. What nobody realizes is the drowned teen, the social worker and the infant are connected and finding the killer of one of the victims will lead to the murderer(s) of the other two. Deborah Crombie is one of this reviewer's favorite authors of police procedurals using an England style tone although the author is American. There is lots of action but this is a character driven mystery as readers get a personal glimpse into the lives of all the characters especially Duncan and Gemma. He cannot help but get involved in a case in which his friend heads the investigation and leads to a loved one almost getting killed.

What Goes Around
Susan Diamond
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0061137812 $24.95 1-800-242-7737

The police write off the homicide of Ginger Pass as a hazardous by-product of being a call girl, albeit a high priced one; they pass on the investigation as they have more important cases to work. Ginger's spouse is not grieving, but also seems disinterested to know who killed his wife and why. Her friends at a self help group are appalled by the way no one seems to care that a murder occurred. The investment widow Polly, health club owner Kat, dermatologist Dinah, mother of two Justine and lawyer Charlotte egg each other on until the group reaches a consensus that they will destroy the men whom they believe are guilty. Though dangerous, this band of sisters begins their quest to avenge the wrongful death of one of them starting where the corpse was found, by a men's only club. No one will care that the premise seems a stretch as WHAT GOES AROUND is an exhilarating hilarious suspense thriller starring a quintet of friends vowing vengeance on whoever killed their sixth "sister". The story line is driven by the unique personalities of each member of the group, as Susan Diamond insures that each is different but remains consistent throughout. Fans will root for the fab five as they go after seemingly untouchable powerful men.

The Diamond Isle
Stan Nicholls
Eos Books
c/o Morrow & Company
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060738936 $14.95 1-800-242-7737

The resistance knew they could not survive a direct confrontation with the dictatorial stronger Empire so they fled to Diamond Isle to forge their own society. However, betrayal has left them on the brink of annihilation. The visions haunt him long after the last episode occurs; the blood curdling berserker gets out from within him too often. Reeth Caldason wants out of the madness of immortality so he has sought a magical Source that will enable him to die. However, by throwing his lot in with the rebels, he is trapped with them on Diamond Isle at a time when fellow maniac Prince Melyobar sets in motion a plot to kill anyone he deems opposes him. War is imminent, but unbeknownst to either side in the upcoming hostilities are the rivers of magic Quicksilver liquid are being altered, but who, if anyone, has the power to achieve this and what will it mean?. The third Dreamtime fantasy is a terrific conclusion to an exciting saga. The story line initially sets in motion the final events towards the ultimate confrontation. Yet with plenty of action for the hero and others to contend with from pirates, Melyobar, Reeth's personal foe Devlor Bastorran and Zerreiss the barbarian leader, Caldason seems more human than the in the previous books (see THE RIGHTEOUS BLADE and THE COVENANT RISING). This is partly caused by his attraction to rebel warrior Serrah and his mentoring of apprentice mage Kutch. The various forces come together in an epic finale.

Anne Coburn
Eos Books
c/o Morrow & Company
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060847247 $16.99 1-800-242-7737

Ellie and her younger brother Danny used to play together making up adventure stories about a heroic girl in a fantasy realm filled dragons, shapeshifters, and other more dangerous creatures. Five years later the siblings remain close as his friends come for his eleventh birthday party. Only one problem, Danny fails to show up. The police make no progress into his disappearance and begin to assume foul play. When her friends ask Ellie if she and Danny were close to one another, she realizes only she knows him well enough to find him. She starts at the nearby cave where they shared tales of a courageous girl their age. At the same time that Ellie begins her quest, on the world that she and Danny imagined, their heroine Argent begins a dangerous quest to regain a stolen dragon hatchling. The danger mounts as adversaries ready to pick on a little girl seems to leap up from behind every rock on the road she travels. Yet though she risks her life, Argent refuses to go home without achieving her objective. This terrific fantasy targets the 9-12 years old crowd, but readers of all ages will appreciate the two young, strong and caring females as each starts a separate quest to save an individual they love. The subplots showcase the courage and determination of the heroines as the charming story line rotates worlds before cleverly merging into a climax where reality and fantasy tie together. GLINT is a winning fantasy for the middle school crowd.

Time's Child
Rebecca Ore
Eos Books
c/o Morrow & Company
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0380792524 $14.95 1-800-242-7737

By 2308, plagues swept across the earth killing most people and leaving many of the survivors sterile. People from the future send to the Philadelphia National Archive a time machine to gather humans near death from the past and bring them to the present as a library of human learning. Benedetta, who knew Da Vinci, was one of those scooped away just prior to the French soldiers killing her. Not content to remain a prisoner in a gilded cage, she escapes abetted by Jonah, another incarcerated soul. They free the other time travelers and along with Ivar the Viking steal the time machine. Once they have more machines they plan to scoop people out from different eras and place but there are many people with their own agendas who have plans to manipulate the original people from down-time. The premise of this paradoxical tale will fascinate readers as people from different times and cultures must overcome their Tower of Babel differences in order to save mankind. The twists are terrific, reminiscent of a classic EC comic (no more or the plot will be given away). The characters especially the heroine and her closest allies seem real as their dissimilarities are greater than their similarities except for core values. Rebecca Ore provides an exhilarating science fiction brave new world thriller.

Most Likely To Die
Lisa Jackson, Beverly Barton, Wendy Corsi Staub
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0821775766 $7.99 1-800-345-2665

In 1986 in Portland Oregon, the St. Valentine Day dance at St. Elizabeth's High School is in full swing. When Jake Marcott disappeared from the dance he went to the maze to meet a girl but instead he is killed by an arrow straight through his heart, impaling him to a tree. No suspect is ever found and after two decades, the case is considered cold. On the twentieth year after the events of the St. Valentine's dance, Kirsten Jake's girlfriend at the time is selected to coordinate the school's reunion since it will be torn down next year. Separated from her husband Ross, she finds someone begins stalking her, getting into her house and marking up certain women's invitations to the reunion. Ross takes her and their daughter to his home for their safety. Lindsey, Jake's ex-girlfriend is also in danger with the killer almost killing her in her own home. Two of the women on the committee are killed and the police think it is an accident but others think it was murder. Rachel, a southern police officer who is going to the reunion, traces everything to one killer. She goes through the old records with Dean McMichael an old friend and now something more. They work together because they know the killer has targeted at least three other women and must be stopped before someone else dies. When Lisa Jackson, Beverly Barton, and Wendy Corsi team up, they produce one of the most frightening thrillers of the year. Although each writer has their own style, MOST LIKELY TO DIE is written so smoothly it is impossible to figure who wrote what. The characters in their traumatic circumstances are totally realistic making this feel like a real crime drama and one work readers will definitely remember.

Midnight Lover
Rosemary Laurey
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
082177929X $6.99 1-800-345-2665

Vampire Toby Wise, a runaway slave who escaped to England and was turned when he was twenty-six, is now living in Oregon trying to solve a multitude of problems. As a favor to the ghoul Elizabeth, he is watching over her father whose mind was destroyed when a vampire held him in thrall. He is also watching over Lizzie's company Connor Inc. which the FBI are investigating for money laundering because the vampire Lizzie destroyed took control of her of father's business as well. Lizzie's step-mother Adela calls Toby for help and when he arrives in Dark Falls, he finds a deputy who wants to arrest her for being a witch. She also tells him that a chupacabra, a monster thought to be a myth, is running loose and the townsfolk think it is Adela's familiar. He takes Adele back to his home where he finds his employee Laura Fox rifling through his files. She is doing it for her father after begging her to get some information on Connor Inc. He is in thrall to Axel who is kin to the vampire Lizzie destroyed. Axel wants to know what happened to him and he doesn't care who has to use or kill to get the information he wants. Toby and Laura, who are falling in love with each other, are in the middle of the action and she is in the most danger because she is mortal, not a vampire, ghoul or a witch. Toby has been a minor character in Rosemary Laurey's previous vampire books but in MIDNIGHT LOVER he gets to play center stage as he deals with a myriad of supernatural predators yet is not afraid to fall in love with a mortal. His beloved human is believable (adding a sense of authenticity to the plot) as she slowly accepts the existence of creatures of the night. This is a thoroughly delicious and bitingly good vampire romantic thriller.

Savage Heart
Cassie Edwards
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0821780875 $6.99 1-800-345-2665

The Martin family patriarch heard the rumors that riches can be made in the Northwest. He takes his wife and their two children Christa and David and heads to the Pacific leaving their comfortable Boston home behind in his quest for wealth. However, the trek across the country proves arduous to the older Martins as both parents die from a cholera epidemic leaving their offspring with nothing except a cabin. David realizes his only real asset is his beautiful sister. He decides to sell her to the highest bidder, a person older than her parents were when they died. Christa rejects his argument that marriage to a wealthy man will keep both them out of poverty. She insists she will marry for love only. She thinks she has found it when she sees Suquamish Chief Tall Cloud; he feels she is his destiny. However, David will do anything to prevent his sibling from marrying a heathen instead of his choice and Tall Cloud has an enemy who sees Christa as the pawn to destroy him. Though there have been a zillion "Savage" books with the same cookie cutter theme since this was released in the 1980s, SAVAGE HEART remains one of the best. The story line as almost always in a Cassie Edwards novel stars ethical individuals falling in a taboo love as an Indian chief and a white woman is an unacceptable relationship especially in her society. Her brother is the villain in this tale as he wants to sell her though he rationalizes that it is for Christa's well-being. Fans of Ms. Edwards will enjoy this delightful reprint.

Lethal Justice
Fern Michaels
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0821778803 $6.99 1-800-345-2665

Stockbroker Alexis Thorn may be physically freed from prison after a year as a guest of the state, but mentally she is still handcuffed just like how the police took her from her office. Alexis swore then and swears now she is innocent as she has not defrauded life savings from elderly investors. She knows her former employers set her up to take the fall and vows somehow someday PAYBACK will prove SWEET REVENGE as this is when she will have completed her VENDETTA. However, realistically the culprits are protected and seemingly untouchable until Alexis' angels, the vigilante Sisterhood led by Myra Rutledge, take up her cause. They begin the mission possible caper to frame the framers. They set up a dummy account owned by a non existent elderly female and begin to lure in the avarice stockbrokers-predators. They must be more careful than usual on their sixth caper (see WEEKEND WARRIORS) as two intelligent investigative reporters Maggie Spritzer and Ted Robinson illegally find evidence that could expose the Sisterhood. The latest Sisterhood thriller is a fun tale of revenge with the extra spin of the journalists closing in on the avenging group. The story line is action packed as Charlie's Angels star in Mission impossible. Readers will enjoy the latest escapade rooting for Ms. Gillespie and Mr. Sullivan to taste LETHAL JUSTICE.

The Hunter
Asa Nonami
Kodansha America
575 Lexington AveNew York, N.Y. 10022
4770030258 $24.95 1-800-451-7556

In a restaurant in Tokyo, a man who is seated alone suddenly becomes engulfed in fire. When police search the wrecked facility they find a part of his belt coated with a tarry, sticky substance and his belt buckle that contained a timed incendiary device. He was murdered and an examination of his body show large dog bites on his body. The man's death is considered a homicide and a task force is formed. Takako, one of the few females in the division, and her grumpy partner Takizawa learn that the victim was a sexual predator into all kinds of criminal activities. A man in another section of town is attacked and killed by the same dog that bit the first victim. Both dead knew each other when they were younger and even wilder. A housewife is also attacked by the same animal and the police theorize she knew and hung out with both men before she went straight. Takako believes to solve the case they must find dog and its owner answer and brace for the possibility that the dog's trainer was once a cop. Asa Nonami writes an exciting Japanese police procedural that gives readers a glimpse of what Tokyo feels like. Armchair travelers will definitely like this book because of the fascinating investigation in an exotic locale. It is hard to empathize with Takako because she has to hide behind a mask so the male police officers can't hurt her with their sexist remarks. More books starring this heroine will be very welcome.

Death of a Maid
M.C. Beaton
The Mysterious Press
c/o Warner Books
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
0892960108 $23.99 1-800-759-0190

In Lochdubh, Scotland, local Constable Hamish Macbeth literally trips over the corpse of the town gossip, housecleaner Mrs. Mavis Gillespie. Macbeth does not need a medical examiner or coroner to know murder occurred as the severely bruised victim was beaten to death with the weapon also obvious, her battered pail. Macbeth begins his official investigation by questioning the deceased's clients. Every one of Mrs. Gillespie's customers insisted she was a fantastic cleaning woman, but Hamish notices each says this with disdain. He also wonders why if Mrs. Gillespie was so good at her job, all the homes she cleaned seemed filled with layers of dust as if no dust rag, broom, vacuum or mop ever was used. This inconstancy leads Macbeth to dig even further into the lifestyle of Mrs. Gillespie who lived way beyond the means of a housecleaner or even a constable should. As Hamish starts to understand how she earned her income and that the motive was killing a blackmailer, his police department peers want his investigation stopped making him wonder if some of them were victims of the late extortionist, Mrs. Gillespie. Though Macbeth has starred in over twenty Scottish police procedurals, his latest DEATH OF A MAID is a fabulous fresh investigative tale. The story line follows his inquiries as he struggles with too many suspects once he realizes the victim was a blackmailer and also struggles in his personal life too. M.C. Beaton is terrific as always as she provides her fans with an entertaining whodunit.

The Sunday List of Dreams
Kris Radish
Bantam Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0553383981 $11.00 1-800-726-0600

Her three decade old career as a nurse is counting down to the final days leaving fifty-eight years old Connie Nixon frightened about the future as she is also selling her home in Indiana. Over the past thirty years, Connie has been compiling a SUNDAY LIST OF DREAMS to include thirty-seven places she wants to visit and people she wants to see. Now with the clock ticking down, she makes last second revisions to add changes she feels she must make starting with don't be afraid and toss out the alarm clock. Connie has two items that makes everything else seem superficial to her. She writes "maybe sex" and "recapture Jessica". Most important is Jessica who left Indiana for Manhattan three years ago to become the CEO and part owner of sex-toy stores. Connie heads to New York with plans for quality time with her daughter, who in turn has a special agenda to welcome her mom to the Big Apple. THE SUNDAY LIST OF DREAMS is a delightful inspirational tale starring a wonderful protagonist who learns relationships not locations are the key to a fulfilling life. The story line is well written and leaves readers with a warm contented feeling to be active with loved ones. Fans will enjoy Connie Nixon takes Manhattan while Jessica reclaims her mom in loving vibrant often amusing ways.

Games of Command
Linnea Sinclair
Bantam Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0553589636 $6.99 1-800-726-0600

The war between the United Coalition and the Triad is over and the two former enemies now make up the Alliance guarding against the llithians who want more inhabited worlds to conquer. Former Coalition Captain Tasha "Sass" Sebastian is now assigned to captain the Vaxxar. Admiral Branden Kel-Paten, a biocybe who is more machine than human, and the captain have played cat and mouse with each other during the war and now that Tasha is in his space, the feelings he isn't supposed to have for her begun to geow much stronger. During a flight, they travel into the middle of a vortex to pick up Triad rebel Jace Serafino. He lapses into a coma and is able to take Eden the medical officer into a private dimension, a creation of his race. There he tells her he has an implant in his head put there by Psy-Serv so he can't use his telepathic abilities for more than ten minutes of time. The implant needs to be removed because he has information about Psy-Serv that could tear the Alliance apart if he can get his memories straight so that Kel-Paten believes him. On the way to a space station, Jace, Eden, the admiral and Tasha are all caught by their enemies and sent to a dimension nobody knows exists; inhabited by an enemy that controls the people who thought to use it. The foursome must escape in order to warn the inhabited galaxy. Every book Linnea Sinclair writes is better than the one before it, which says a lot because all are great. Readers will fall in love with Eden's pet furzel Reilly and Tasha's pet fidget (a baby furzel). Their antics and protectiveness to their humans and their play in trying to save the galaxy is so entertaining that the audience will want to adopt a fidget of their own. The developing romance between the two heroes and heroines in between galactic crises adds realism to a tense and thrilling science fiction saga.

Breakfast with the Ones You Love
Eliot Fintushel
Bantam Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0553384058 $12.00 1-800-726-0600

Anyone who knows emaciated Lea Tillim knows to stay away from her; those with no sense of self preservation will take one look at this crew cut Cadaver Dimples but better quickly look away praying she did not notice their glance. Lea can use her thoughts to send a healthy person to hospitals or morgues; that is why she is a whispered legend as the Star of Morgues and Emergency Rooms. She has no human friends nor wants any such companions from those who fear she will blink them into a stroke or heart attack that is if they catch her in a good mood. Her only bud is Tule the cat as human relationships mean horrific endings. Jack Konar is secretly building something strange in an abandoned part of a Sears and Roebuck building when Lea meets him. He explains to Lea that he is trying to rescue the Chosen stuck on godforsaken planet earth, but their enemies the Evil Ones want to prevent him from achieving his objective; he further says that the adversaries shrewdly camouflage themselves as sly everyday people or housecats. He pleads with her that to complete his mission he needs her help. Lea thinks she might be dealing with a lunatic yet Cadaver rule number one never get entangled with humans is falling apart as she is falling in love with this insane save the world wannabe. Eliot Fintushel provides an insane science fiction tale of saving the world before breakfast but finding time to fall in love over breakfast. The story line is filled with action, but in a weird ironic way it is a character study of two outsiders finding love, the most dangerous concept in the universe. The zany thriller grips readers from the opening moment the macabre Lea explains why she killed her face at twelve years old and never liberates the fascinated audience until the final wacky confrontation.

Puss 'n Cahoots
Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown
Bantam Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0553803646 $25.00 1-800-726-0600

Veterinarian Fair Haristeen and his beloved wife Harry, accompanied by her feline friends Mrs. Murphy and Pewter and the cats' canine pet Tee Tucker, attend the esteemed Saddlebred horseshow in Shelbyville, Kentucky. Two friends, husband and wife trainer Larry Hodge and Kalarama Farm owner and breeder Joan Hamilton, also attend the prestigious event. Joan's valuable diamond pin disappears at about the time that movie star Renata DeCarlo finds the Kalarama Farm groom with his throat sliced. Even worse her prize horse Queen Esther is missing. Harry assumes that the lost mare is a publicity stunt by an actress whose career is fading with her becoming middle aged and she believes odious trainer Booty Pollard abetted in the snatch because he needs money to pay for his expensive wardrobe. Meanwhile the INS raids the gala seeking illegals amongst the hands while someone blows up the truck of another trainer Ward Findlay. The local law enforcement deems a rival like Larry, Booty or Charly Treadwell committed the deed, but Harry thinks otherwise. Meanwhile her feline sleuths accompanied by the courageous Corgi battle Miss Nasty the monkey while seeking out that dumb Esther and solving the homicide. The insight into a major horseshow is deep and electrifying as the rivalry between the attending four trainers and their retinue explodes. It is fun to follow the animal capers as the felines and their canine pet work the clues to solve the cases. Though the mysteries are not quite up to the standards normally worked by Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, fans of personification whodunits will enjoy their latest cat caper.

House of Dark Delights
Louisa Burton
Bantam Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0553384120 $13.00 1-800-726-0600

The Chateau de la Grotte Chachee is located in an isolated French valley that is difficult to find. It is home to the follets (supernatural beings) such as Elic the elf who can turn at will into a female and needs to mate with humans. Also residing there is the djinn Darius who frequently assumes the shape of a cat; and the succubus Lili, who was once a Babylonian Goddess, craving sex with mortals. Finally the other resident follet is Inigio the Satyr who uses hair to conceal his horns and pointed ears and has had his tail surgically removed. Guests are welcomed occasionally to meet the needs of the permanent residents. In May 1749 the Hellfire Club adjoined there enjoying every form of debauchery. Lili, a member of the club remained behind at the chateau. In 1884, a scientist accompanied by his assistant and his daughter visited the chateau where the occupants played matchmaker. In 52 BC, the Druid Vernae captured Elic and forced him to be her sex toy stud. The heir to what will be the chateau asks for his help, which he gives and in doing so is there from the creation of the chateau. Louisa Burton has written a romantic fantasy that spans millennia and stars kindhearted supernatural beings. The story line is unique as time is not treated sequentially leading to a fascinating intense tale. Some of the sexual encounters are vividly graphic, but seems apropos when one considers the chateau's inhabitants and their sagas. Readers will want return engagements tot this interesting chateau.

The Fourth Sacrifice
Peter May
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312364644 $24.95 1-888-330-8477

In Beijing, the police are baffled by the serial killing with the fourth beheading having just occurred. Forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell is tired of China especially her hotel room so she asks the American Ambassador to help her leave immediately. Her plans to go home to the states change when the American Embassy asks her to help the cops with the latest murder, an employee, Yuan Tao. Reluctantly she agrees as she knows her skills might help prevent another beheading. To her dismay, Margaret is teamed up with Chinese police detective Li Yan. They met during an investigation into a murder in nearby Ritan Park and fell in love, but he ended their relationship abruptly. She is unaware why he did that as he has not told her that his superiors warned him to do so or face termination of his career. Angering Li is that renowned archeologist Michael Zimmerman, whom Margaret met at a party in his honor, seems to want her as he shows her the exciting terra-cotta figures found at nearby Xi'an. A jealous Li and upset Margaret argue over Michael's attention even as they begin to find clues that prove THE FOURTH SACRIFICE was done by a different person than the previous three and the tie between the four is the death of the last victim's father during the Cultural Revolution. Michael proposes while he, Margaret and Li rendezvous in a hidden chamber where death waits for them from a friendly source. This is an excellent Chinese police procedural starring a strong American protagonist and a powerful support cast. The story line is fast-paced yet enables the reader to understand the emotions especially of the heroine and the cop, who return from the terrific FIREMAKER tale. However, the star of this exciting thriller is China as Peter May brings to life the rich heritage and present of a wide awake giant.

Edge of Midnight
Charlene Weir
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312347979 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

In Hampstead, Kansas, Police Chief Susan Wren, battling the flu, reads the riot act to new cop Ida Rather, who disobeyed a direct order and almost seriously injured another police officer. At about the same time that Susan admonishes Ida, in El Cerrito, California attorney Arlette persuades battered Cary Black to flee her abusive spouse Mitch a cop, at a time when his professed beloved is going blind. Arlette arranges for Cary to hide in the home of a friend Kelby Oliver in Hampstead. Upon arriving in Hampstead, Cary finds Kelby is missing. Fearing the beating of her life for running away, Cary moves into Kelby's home and begins to become the woman even obtaining work under her new identity as a caretaker for a stroke sufferer and gets a library card in order to borrow books. However, unbeknownst to Cary, Kelby is in hiding after death threats from thugs because of her position as she sits on a jury in which the prosecution seeks the death penalty for a brutal rape-murder. Soon everything will converge on the frightened rabbit who obviously picked the wrong identity to hide behind. Two things freshen up the seventh Chief Wren tale: first she is not the prime player, but serves more in a support role and second Mitch's extreme behavior between abuse and love seems genuine. The story line is action-packed from the moment that Cary flees for the Plains only to jump "Out of the frying pan, into the fire". What is fascinatingly is that it is enthusiastic disobedient Ida rather than Susan who plays the prime investigative role. Charlene Weir keeps readers' attention as they wonder whether Mitch will get to Cary before the thugs get to her as Kelby.

Duplicity Dogged the Dachshund
Blaize Clement
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312340923 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

Former Sarasota, Florida sheriff's Deputy Dixie Hemingway mourns the deaths of her husband and their child (see CURIOSITY KILLED THE CAT SITTER), but has no qualms at leaving law enforcement though she is only in her thirties. However, she has moved on somewhat thanks in part to her work as a professional pet sitter in Sarasota suburb Siesta Key. Currently she is walking geriatric Dachshund Mame, who takes Dixie to the nearby woods where the canine digs up the buried body of her affluent client Conrad Ferrelli, Reggie's owner. Besides the corpse, a stunned Dixie swears she just greeted the victim driving by in his car. The police think Conrad's brother Denton is the prime suspect because he demanded his sibling invest in immoral probably illegal scams. Dixie wants nothing to do with the inquiry until someone purposely tries to run her over while she tending to a canine in a parking lot. While the police and her firefighting brother try to keep Dixie safe especially when Conrad's widow is murdered, she decides to risk her life to trap the killer before harm comes to Reggie. In her second appearance Dixie has her priorities in order as she believes she is the only one who cares what happens to Reggie so she resolutely risks her life to rescue the Doberman over the objection of the cop and her sibling. The story line is fast-paced but belongs to the heroine who cares. The canine caper crowd will enjoy Florida's leading pet-sitter as she uses the skills she honed from her work at the Sarasota Sheriff's Department to save a dog and capture a killer.

The Water Thief
Ben Pastor
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312353901 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

In 304 AD Commander Aelius Spartianus travels to Egypt on behalf of Diocletian. He is to see if the Emperor's prices on food and other necessities are being followed and to insure that the Christian trials are proper and fair. However his prime mission is to research the deified Hadrian prior to writing his biography. Little does he know that he is to be the target of a conspiracy that has its roots back in Hadrian's time. First, a bookseller that Aelius does business with is murdered as is the slave he freed. In a letter written by the bookseller, he says he found a note saying there was information that was interred with Hadrian's lover Antinous concerning the safety of the empire. As he investigates, attempts are made to kill him while people helping him are murdered. Aelius knows he must find Antinous' resting place in order to determine whether a deadly conspiracy remains viable, but homicides are seems to follow him even when he scampers back to Rome. Ancient Egypt and Rome come alive in this fascinating historical mystery that focuses on the rise of Christianity at a time when the empire's leaders attempt to suppress the growing influence of the new religion. Aelius is an intellectual warrior who knows that the most dangerous job in the Roman Empire is: being his friend or ally. THE WATER THIEF is filled with action, intrigue, and vivid descriptions as obviously Ben Pastor must have been there.

Shadow of the Raven
David Sundstrand
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312361351 $24.95 1-888-330-8477

On his off day, Bureau of Land Management officer Francisco "Frank" Flynn plans to spend time enjoying the bighorn sheep wandering the Mohave Desert; but to his chagrin for the third time in six months he has found a desiccated corpse whose eyes and nose were dessert for ravens. Frank assumes the dead man was probably a poacher or a sportsman. However, he finds it odd that the deceased has no boots or any footwear even as he calls it in to his superior at the BLM. Frank is disgusted with the Inyo County Sheriff's Department who sent morons into the desert. He soon joins with local reporter Linda Reyes to investigate what happened to the victim with no shoes or evidence of a water container nearby. At the same time they look around beyond the sheriff's designated "crime scene" ring to other keys spots like a watering hole, three of the four Miller brothers (Roy, Hickey and Jason) look for their missing sibling Donnie. When Roy learns that Donnie is dead, assuming half-breed Frank is an impoverished illegal guide, he forces him to escort the threesome into a desert canyon so they can kill the hunter who he believes murdered his sibling. SHADOW OF THE RAVEN is a fabulous whodunit starring Frank, a fabulous lead character who fits in so well in the rugged terrain; he makes the tale though the support cast at BLM, the sheriff's department, the reporter and the low life Millers enhance understanding of him and of the desert. Fans of Joe Picket will fully appreciate this descriptive suspense filled mystery.

The Star: A Tarot Card Mystery
David Skibbins
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312361939 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

In Berkley, California, after vanishing for three plus decades as a 1960s radical gone underground after officials considered him dead in a 1970 explosion, Warren Ritter, resurfaces as a sidewalk tarot-card reader trying to stay out of trouble, but not always successfully. He feels good about meeting his married daughter Fran Wilkins and his grandchild Justin though not comfortable with her Santa Cruz cop of a spouse Orrin. Warren proves correct when Orrin leaves Fran taking their infant with him to his deeply religious fundamentalist parents to help him raise his son, as he claims his wife is unfit due to her bi-polar condition. Not long afterward, Orrin is found murdered with Fran as the only suspect as she tried to kill herself; the police assume a suicide murder attempt with one homicide. Unable to stay out now that he has met his daughter and grandchild, Warren investigates while watching over Justin and eluding Orrin's partner Vespie who knows he has a perfect case against the wife and her fugitive father. The third Tarot Card mystery is an interesting investigative tale in which readers learn plenty about Warren's father, sister, daughter and others in an extended family. The inquiry is fun to follow though it lacks the readings that made the previous two novels (see EIGHT OF SWORDS and HIGH PRIESTESS) refreshing. Still fans will enjoy following the escapades of a former radical activist as he tries to reconnect with his family especially with his offspring in trouble though his final approach to prove Fran's innocence seems over the edge.

Beaten by Nuns
K.A. Walker
PO Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705-0151
1424135877 $19.95

In Hamilton, Montana, she was a child when her father took her out shooting. Her first effort sent three bullets at quite a distance through the same hole in the bulls-eye he set up. From that moment on she was expected to freeze her butt off and be the sharpshooter as her dad and his male friends went hunting. She would kill the animals, they would drink the beer. There is nothing quite like father-daughter outings to bring a family together. Several years later, she interviews for a job when two background interrogators ask her questions about where her father is, his Teamster membership, and his ties to Hoffa. Irrelevant to her obtaining the job, she asks why this line of inquiry. She learns there is a warrant for his arrest in California on forgery charges though she thinks this is nothing like his activities in Jersey. There he enforced his strict Irish Catholic code of conduct as he had three requirements of her or else he will not walk her down the aisle. This is a fascinating sad yet hopeful anecdotal tale as K.A. Walker bares her soul with specific incidents of her strange relationship she had with her father. The entries are amusing yet contain a gloomy undertone so that the audience deeply understands this dysfunctional relationship. Yet with all that happened to her, she remains optimistic and forgiving; serving as an inspiration that even when it seems hopeless, there remains a glimmering light for those willing to love first even if it feels unrequited.

The Teahouse Fire
Ellis Avery
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
1594489300 $24.95 1-800-847-5515

Now an elderly woman, Aurelia Bernard looks back on her life starting with the pivotal event in 1865 New York when her mother is dying and her missionary Uncle Charles takes his nine years old niece with him to Japan to do the Lord's work. Less than a year later in Kyoto, he is dead and Aurelia is taken in as a servant to the Shin family by their teenage daughter Yukako. The patriarch head of the Shin brood, dubbed "Mountain" by Aurelia who the locals call Urako, is a grandmaster teacher of the tea ceremony temae. However, the western invasion with its technology has made tradition look ancient so unless experts like the Mountain make a paradigm switch to adapt to the invasion, they will become like the dinosaur. As it is, the Meiji government has withdrawn its subsidies to the arts like the temae ceremonial rite. Mountain worries that his legacy will not survive his offspring Yukako and there is little he can do even as he is humiliated watching his mother and his spouse sell valuables at horrendous deflationary prices to pawn dealers. Worse Yukako rejects tradition as she easily adapts to the economic opportunities the west has brought to Japan. THE TEAHOUSE FIRE is an insightful historical tale that provides the audience with a vivid look at mid nineteenth century Japan during a period of incredible change. The key players surprisingly are the father and daughter as Mountain sees his reason for living dying while Yukako hugs the new economy. Surprisingly Aurelia is more symbolic as a stranded westerner. The amount of information slows the plot somewhat, but armchair traveling fans will appreciate this trip to Japan where tradition is losing the battle to outside influences.

Cosmic Cocktails
Edited by Denise Little
DAW Books, Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0756403987 $7.99 1-800-847-5515

The premise of this anthology is the neighborhood bar as a center of social activity; except instead of the streets of Green Bay, the fifteen tales take place in various cosmic locations. The tales range from drinks on planets in other galaxies rivaling the Star Wars' cantina scene to space stations of the future to saloons where time runs differently for travelers, aliens and human, dropping in for a drink or two during happy hour. The contributions are fun as the bartenders at times seem more way out then the customers. Readers will toast this out of this world collection. Though Spike Jones and the City Slickers have not shown up, the zany and the weird have for "In some secluded rendezvous that overlooks the avenue with someone sharing a delightful chat of this and that and cocktails for two" (Words & Music by Arthur Johnston & Sam Coslow).

Under Cover of Darkness
Edited by Julie E. Czerneda & Jana Paniccia
DAW Books, Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0756404045 $7.99 1-800-847-5515

The premise of this enjoyable anthology is that covert groups working behind the scenes influence and even cause major events to happen. The fourteen tales run the gamut from suspense thriller to science fiction and even fantasy as the contributors develop secret societies that also range from total controlling to stand-by chronicler/watcher. The entries are interesting though the short story format does not allow for major background development especially of the clandestine societies (this reviewer would not mind several expanded into novellas). Still these are exciting tales whether they have the Freemasons pulling strings, the Scoria changing their existence, the Dancer in Toronto or elves warring in London. Suspense readers especially conspiracy fans especially will appreciate this fine compilation of new stores of covert factions working behind the scenes.

Time Twisters
Edited by Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg
DAW Books, Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0756404053 $7.99 1-800-847-5515

These seventeen new science fiction tales focus on time travel and the related paradoxes including the impact on the present by changing the past and meeting one's self or ancestors, etc. The short stories are fun to read, but the mode of delivery never allows any of the entries to go deep into the seemingly impossibility of time travel. Still fans of the topic like this reviewer (EC comics hooked me during my prehistorical period - the late 1950s) will find all are Wells with this anthology. All the entries are fun for those who enjoy reading TIME TWISTERS; especially enjoyable are "Yeshua's Choice" at Masada, "Downtown Knight" (the mobster meets the Templar on the latter's turf), nineteen years old conscript Pheidas of the Philistine army who has "Occupation Duty" in Gaza and "Voices" as Joan of Arc learns combat strategy with a modern day military unit. The rest are well written fine contributions to a delightful compilation with all the time in the world to stroll down a not so "Mundane Lane".

C.J. Cherryh
DAW Books, Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0756404142 $25.95 1-800-847-5515

Bren Cameron is a paidhi, a facilitator and interpreter between the Atevi and the humans as he tries to prevent any crisis from blowing up between the two wary species. After two years in space with the world leader's heir Cajeiri and his powerful-grandmother llisidi, the aiji-dowager, they come back to a world in the middle of a civil war. Cajeiri's father has triumphed over the usurper Murini who is on the run in the south and everyone is working on the infra structure to bring it back together. Although Bren is fond of Cajeiri, he has to cut his with the boy so that he can broker relationships with his own kind. However the boy is stubborn and doesn't want to conform to his parents' demands; he eludes his body guards at every turn and showing how untraditional he is to various factions. Cajeiri is kidnapped by a faction in the east. The heir's father sends Bren, the only person he trusts, to find his son and take him away from the kidnappers; if they fail the whole world will destabilize and be ripe for a violent revolution. DELIVERER, the direct sequel to PRETENDER, is classic science fiction focusing on a character that is human but is so immersed in an alien culture that he is more Atevi than human. His love for the leader's heir humanizes him by making him vulnerable and willing to die if it means saving the child. C.J. Cherryh has created an alien culture so structured that readers will believe the Atevi actually exist.

Brian Keene
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
0843956445 $7.99 1-800-481-9191

It is the first day of summer vacation in June of 1984 with Timmy Grace, Barry Smeltzer and Doug looking forward to having fun. They have no inkling that this will become the worst summer of their lives when they are forced to try to save the townsfolk. In the olden part of the cemetery on a headstone is a broken sigel that confined a ghoul for centuries; now the hungry creature seeks nourishment, but can only eat carrion as that is the Creator's Commandment. It cannot deal with the sun so it lives underground in a series of warrens it constructed. It assumes it is the only one of its kind and so wants human females to mate with to continue its species. It makes a pact with Barry's father, a beast who beats up his wife and son. The human ogre finds him women and cleans up his kills in exchange for booty buried in the ground. Barry and Timmy learn the truth, but no adult believes a kid so it is up to them and Timmy to confront the two monsters. Brian Keene is a terrific horror writer who scares his audience while entertaining readers with a strong frightening tale that makes the supernatural seem plausible because the characters seem real. Fascinatingly, GHOUL contains two monsters, one an abusive avaricious human abetting the inhuman. Also interesting is the heroes are regular kids who could easily be sons of the readers. Mr. Keene's star in the horror galaxy is rising to the top with works like this superior thriller.

Cornered Tigress
Jade Lee
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
0843956895 $6.99 1-800-481-9191

Captain Jonas Storm feels hexed and not just because one of his sailors almost died. His Chinese business partner Tan Kui Yu failed to take care of customs like he always has done and their vessel The Auspicious Wind has not reached port yet. A man of action Jonas decides he will take care of the injured seaman and his cargo, visit Tan at his home "The House of Beautiful and Angry Women" and finally seek the missing ship. After completing his first mission, he goes to Tan's house where he learns from servant Little Pearl that her master and mistress have been abducted by ruthless General Kang and his missing cargo is probably stolen. She owes the Tans so she wants to rescue them, but needs the white man to succeed. He owes the Tans for his thriving China trade and besides the kidnapped man owes him money so he needs her to successfully rescue the Tans. As they team up and learn the to use the Tigress, they fall in love, but must defeat General Kang and the even more despicable Su Jian Lie if they are survive their quest. Though somewhat in tone like its marvelous Tigress predecessors, CORNERED TIGRESS retains the Jade Lee uniqueness that is a trademark of her late nineteenth century China based romances. The story line retains a brisk pace whether the lead pair is studying the sensual Tigress rituals or in deadly combat against their merciless adversaries. Historical romance readers who appreciate an exotic locale with strong characters starring in an erotic intrigue will want to accompany Ms. Lee as she takes the audience to Eastern heaven where the mind and body meet as one.

Seduction by Chocolate
Nina Bangs, Lisa Cach, Thea Devine & Penelope Neri
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
0843946679 $4.99 1-800-481-9191

"Sweet Sin" by Nina Bangs. Matt Davis persuades his partner Ann Hawkins to make a statue out of chocolate of a naked man for a bachelorette party they cater. Ann agrees only if Matt is the subject. "Eliza's Gateau" by Lisa Cach. In Brussels, sophisticated restaurateur Sebastian St. Germain notices the pretty naive American female traveling by herself with too much baggage. Eliza Mandish on a European trip sees the stylish Sebastian and knows he is out of her league. "Meltdown" by Thea Devine. Event planners Donna Cavalero and Jessica Demont work extra hard to insure that the political fundraiser for Matt Greer is a success. However, both females learn that measuring success may not be in the amount of money raised, but in the respective hunk they desire. "Seducing Sydnee" by Penelope Neri. Agricultural engineer Sydnee Frost travels to Costa Rica to help Cord Westridge save what is left of his cocoa plants. Upon meeting Cord, Sydnee wonders who can save her heart. These four tales of SEDUCTION BY CHOCOLATE are delicious reprint of a 2000 anthology starring likable lead characters who understand death by sex and chocolate (you will not believe some of the applications that sound sinfully sweet and salty).

Method Man
Naomi Neale
Dorchester Making It
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
0505526972 $6.99 1-800-481-9191

To celebrate her divorce from Sean, her best friends and sister plan to give Rebecca "Becca" Egan on a night on the town, but she arrives an hour early at Club Venetian to get her feet wet without their watchful eyes. However, when Mitch the hunk tries to pick her up, A.J. Daye, the brother of a friend of Becca's sister, prevents the dude from succeeding. He explains to Becca that the pick up artist was using the seven step method of the Yes Ladder on her. A.J. and Becca bet on what the rejected guy will do next. Whereas A.J. insists he will find someone else to "git it, hit it, and forgit it; Becca says no way could h be that fickle. When he is proven right he accepts his winnings that Becca will assist him as his wingman when he uses the Yes Ladder methodology to successfully pick up moronic females. As she performs her sidekick job, Becca learns what is inside the two heads of a male and plans to use this knowledge to help her win the heart of the man she loves. This is whimsical amusing contemporary tale that lampoons the modern singles crowd starting from the moment A.J. explains the Yes Ladder is the pick up equivalent to the Westminster Dog Show and keeps the humor going until the final confrontation. The key to this zany fun story is the realism of the cast; as the lead pair and the prime secondary characters seem genuine. Fans will appreciate the antics of the bigger Wingman and her lead as they tackle the player's game by making it their style.

Ten Days in the Hills
Jane Smiley
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
1400040612 $26.00 1-800-726-0600

In California, self-help author Elena lives with film director Max but fails to overcome her gloom even during the act. On the morning after the 2003 Oscar Awards and just a few days after the Iraq war started, Max has many guests staying at his home. His agent Stoney fears he is not able to match the greatness of his dynamic deceased father. Max's childhood friend Charlie wraps himself in the flag while antagonistically challenging anyone to oppose the Iraq War. His former mother-in-law Delphine lives in Max's guest house though he divorced her daughter movie star Zoe years ago when he was still prime time not a washed up after thought. Others also staying are Delphine's best friend Cassie, Max and Zoe's daughter Isabel, Elena's son Simon, Zoe and her lover Paul. These people begin telling tales of films over the course of ten days, but soon turn to debating the war in Iraq. Moving Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron from the hills of Italy to the hills of Southern California, Jane Smiley provides a fascinating ten days of tales, debauchery, and debate (on the second Iraq War that had just begun). The stories within the story are fun to follow more so as they are individual items rather than a collective, but they also lack the intensity of the Decameron whose contrast is established early on when the narrator compares the sickness of love to that of the Black Death. Fans of Ms. Smiley will appreciate her wit as she modernizes the fourteenth century masterpiece though Hollywood is no Florence or even A Thousand Acres in Iowa.

Bird of Another Heaven
James D. Houston
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
140004202X $25.00 1-800-726-0600

In 1980s Northern California radio host Sheridan "Dan" Brody has always wondered about his roots, but did nothing to learn more about the identity of his father. However, when he sees his birth certificate, it includes the name of his sire. He wants to know more about his paternal side. Not long afterward, Rosa Waddell calls Dan while he is on the air to inform him she is his grandmother. He goes to meet her and she shares family stories and her mother's diaries that tell quite a heritage. His great-grandmother was Nani Keala who was the wife of Hawaii's last king, David Kalakaua. Now Dan seeks an audio of his ancestor's regal trip to the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. BIRD OF ANOTHER HEAVEN is a delightful tale of a San Franciscan seeking his roots. Once Rosa contacts Dan, the story line becomes one sitting throughout as readers will want to more about his Hawaiian ancestry and that missing tape. This it behooves fans of remarkable family dramas to give this fine novel a chance; once Dan gets started there is no turning back for him or the audience. James D. Houston provides a powerful character study of a soul searching person looking for his unknown heritage.

Behold The Eyes of Light
Geoff Geauterre
Twilight Times Books
PO Box 3340, Kingsport, TN 37664
1933353260 $16.95 1-423-323-0183

The realm seems to be turning evil as those expected to protect others have become vicious as they assault those they no longer defend. Harvests have failed as if the land has been cursed. Esmeralda the ancient Seeress worries about the plight of her people though she remains unsure why this is happening and more important how to end the brutal spiral downward into barbarianism. Esmeralda has never feared death which she knows is coming for her soon, but now she worries that she needs time to save her people, time which she no longer has. Desperate after seeing a vision, she seeks out She the Sorceress of Night protected by the fierce Dr'gons because Esmeralda believes that the Sorceress is the cause. At the home of the She, a wicked twist by a sprite changes the aging dying Esmeralda back to her healthy youth with one other critical difference; she no longer has her psychic skills that she must pass on to a worthy successor before she dies. While Esmeralda rejoices in her personal gain, she frets over what will become of her people for cosmic twists remain. A strong cast sustains this delightful fantasy filled with a few wonderful twists, plenty of mythological species that seem real, and an epic effort to save a world. The story line is fast-paced once the readers meet the key players though surprises await fans. What makes this a one sitting Twilight Zone like thriller so much fun to read are the fabulous plot twists and the believability into the paranormal characters and their psychic skills which appear normal.

Flies on the Butter
Denise Hildreth
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
1595542086 $14.99 1-800-251-4000

Asked to come home by her family Washington D.C. based children's rights lobbyist Rose Fletcher drives to Mullins, South Carolina though she prefers not to go. As the miles pass, she reflects back on decisions she made that feel hollow and dishonest no matter how she rationalizes them. Rose thinks about what caused the estrangement with her mother and fears a confrontation when they see one another. She ponders why she deceived her husband, who believes they are trying to have a baby instead of telling him she is not ready for a child. She secretly used birth control to insure she does not become pregnant. Besides which, since she is having an affair, short of DNA testing, she would not who sired her offspring. Feeling morally bankrupt, Rose considers how to regain the high road she used to travel in her relationships. Rose being a paradox of conflict makes for a fascinating look at a woman whose moral compass is pointing in a negative direction. Though readers will wonder why she failed to fly home, which would have somewhat devastated the premise of the open road meeting of stereotypical people, fans will appreciate her self analysis via flashbacks as to how each of her key relationships have recently been filled by mendacity on her part. FLIES ON THE BUTTER is a deep character study of how easy a person can make wrong decisions because in the short run that is the easier path to take.

Never Too Late
Michael Phillips
Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55438
0764200437 $13.99 1-800-328-6109

Seffie was born a slave. At seven years old or about she is bought by Peter Mesiner as a companion to his sickly eight year old daughter Grace who suffers from the after effect of scarlet fever. Grace may now be blind and her heart very weak, but she loves to read so Peter buys Seffie and takes her to his Louisiana home. Life seems good to Seffie who learns to read and even to speak French, but as before when she and her brother were accused of arson by their previous owner who sold them to punish them by separating them from their mother, life intercedes and she is gone again. In 1869 in Greens Crossing, North Carolina the Ku Klux Klan secret men's vigilante club set afire the home of free Blackman Henry Paterson for no apparent reason except the color of his skin. He and Seffie, though victims of many heartbreaks and tragedies caused by god-faring righteous individuals, are attracted to one another, but too many unfair and unjust setbacks make any relationship between them unlikely. The third Carolina Cousins historical tale (see A PERILOUS PROPOSAL and THE SOLDIER'S LADY) brings home the plight of free blacks just after the Civil War is over and they have been emancipated yet with few real rights. Seffie is terrific lead character as she has learned life's lessons that the powerful can do anything to impoverish people and that tragedy is the norm. Whereas she fears close relationships, Henry remains optimistic for the future and willing to risk his life in spite of the threatened vigilante injustice of the KKK to lynch or burn him. Together enhanced by a strong cast they make an inspiring Reconstruction Era thriller.

Tongue in Chic
Christine Dodd
Signet Books
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451220560 $7.99 1-800-847-5515

On a mission from her grandmother, at midnight, Natalie Meadow Szarvas easily breaks into Waldemar, a Victorian home on the South Carolina coast searching for the last painting by Isabelle Benjamin done over fifty years ago. However, to her chagrin ,not only does she fail to find the masterpiece, the house's new owner Devlin Fitzwilliam arrogantly asks her what she is doing inside his home. She trips and bangs her head on a lion's head that wins the butting contest. Natalie assumes he will call police; Devlin thinks a doctor is more in order. She says he cannot remember why she is here; he counters her obvious lie by informing her she lives here as his wife. As each builds their webs of deceit, Natalie wonders why he would declare they are married while Devlin easily sees her resemblance to the Benjamin masterpiece. Their chess game continues even as both are falling in love with one another. However, neither fully understands the rules of the game because a lethal grandmaster watches in the shadows manipulating Natalie and Devlin expecting to win the prize even if that means killing this "married" couple. TONGUE IN CHIC lives up to its title as a fun lighthearted satirical romp that amusingly teases romantic mysteries. Natalie and Devlin are an amiable match as each tries to checkmate the other. Readers will enjoy their antics while also ironically knowing danger lurks from another interested person. Christine Dodd provides a terrific romantic suspense thriller that her fans will devour in one entertaining sitting.

Beneath the Skin
Savannah Russe
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451220633 $6.99 1-800-847-5515

Vampiress Daphne Urban has tasted love twice in her centuries old lifetime. The first time she suffered an overbite and killed Byron; the second time is more recent as she is attracted to vampire Darius della Chiesa, but that is over too though he still lives. To get over the end of her relationship with Darius, Daphne figures her "day" job as a government agent will help her move on as she must save America as part of team Darkwing as the Feds know she and her compatriots are a blood thirsty group. The team's current assignment is to prevent super assassin Gage from killing popular presidential candidate Congressman Joe Daniel, a decorated war hero opposing the war. Making the assignment difficult is a new member of the team Tallmadge who prefers the traditional vampire likings to that of the tastes of the mortal realm unlike the fashion plate Daphne. Also causing her to lose concentration are Darius and a human hunk. However, as Daphne digs into the whereabouts of the professional killer, she gauges that he has to be inhuman to accomplish the feats he has done. The third Daphne urban fantasy (see The Darkwing Chronicles: PAST REDEMPTION and BEYOND THE PALE) is a wonderful espionage thriller that makes vampires seem genuine in a modern text (think social security and birth certificates). The story line is action-packed as Daphne relates her escapades in the first person with the three males in her life disengaging her from her assignment. Fans will appreciate this cat and mouse caper with a sharp bite as Daphne and her teammates struggle to prevent a seemingly invincible opponent from another kill.

In My Wild Dream
Sasha Lord
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451220641 $6.99 1-800-847-5515

Living off the Scottish coast, Kassandra has dreamed of her soul mate as well as the hooded killer who will murder her beloved unless she intercedes and changes destiny. By 1076, she knows she must act or her love will be doomed to end before it can begin. She leaves her safe haven Loch Nidean Forest to journey to the court where the aristocracy will treat her as a fey freak. Kassandra meets her cherished Laird Caededryn, but instead of falling into his arms, he rejects her and her dreams. He has a quest to regain his family's stolen lands taken when his mother remarried. However, he finds himself dreaming of making love with Kassandra and soon cannot resist her fey lure. Still he denies her contention that an assassin plans to kill him if they fail to uncover the identity of the hooded shadowy figure and prevent the treachery in time. IN MY WILD DREAM is a charming medieval romantic fantasy starring a fascinating heroine whose courage readers will admire and whose fairy-like skills will astonish the audience as Sasha Lord makes Kassandra believable. Caededryn believes he has no time for the spirited female who somehow gets inside his padlocked heart even as he rejects her affirmation that they are fated to be lovers albeit for a short time unless they act now. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this eleventh century sequel (see the Wild tales such as UNDER A WILD SKY and BEYOND THE WILD WIND, ETC.) freshened up by the paranormal elements.

Acts of Violet
Kate Collins
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451220749 $6.99 1-800-847-5515

Residents of New Chapel, Indiana enjoy the annual Pickle Fest though Abby Knight considered skipping the gala this year so that's he could sleep late. However, needing rest is not worth the cost of the wrath Maureen "Mad Mo" Knight, her mom for skipping the event. Thus Abby, owner of Bloomers Florist and her best friend Nikki Hiduke are watching the parade when Snuggles the Clown threatens her. Abby's boyfriend former Army Ranger and ex cop Marco Salvares joins them and her family, but abruptly leaves; Abby fears he will beat up Snuggles for his snarling comment. Marco fails to return to the festivity; soon afterward, Snuggles is found literally picking daisies as someone murdered him. The police think Marco killed the clown as a witness insists they saw him leave the deceased's home just before the murder occurred. Though he had motive (insult to his girlfriend), means (his military experience), and opportunity (last seen in the victim's house) Abby knows her Marco, man of mystery, did not kill Snuggles though he behaving suspiciously. Not trusting the police to look beyond her boyfriend, she makes inquiries that place her in danger. The fifth Flower Shop mystery (see SNIPPED IN THE BUD and DEARLY DEPOTTED, etc.) is a delightful lighthearted cozy that unlike its predecessors, which had a myriad of suspects, there is only one contender this time around. Thus Abby feels she must uncover a different motive as that seems too weak for a professional like Marco and once she finds the reason for the homicide, she assumes she will find the real culprit. Amateur sleuth fans will enjoy ACTS OF VIOLET, as Abby picks petals asking herself if he killed him; he killed him not.

These Three Remain
Pamela Aidan
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
0743291379 $14.00 1-800-223-2336

Fitzwilliam Darcy remains confused by his deep regard for Elizabeth Bennet. He tries to move on, but is not successful as Elizabeth has captured his heart. However, while visiting his aunt, he clumsily proposes marriage, but to his chagrin Elizabeth says no. Heartbroken and feeling the world ended, he returns to London to reflect on his failure and after a few depressing weeks, he begins to see a positive spin to her rejection, as he will prove to his beloved that he has become a good kind gentleman. Several months later Fitzwilliam by chance meets up with Elizabeth; he sees fate assisting him as he begins his campaign to win her over by proving he has changed. However, his enemy and rival George Wickham devastates Fitzwilliam's simple plan. The story line is fast-paced though it stays true while paying homage to Pride and Prejudice. Fans of Jane Austen will appreciate this strong finish while newcomers will seek out the previous two tales (see DUTY AND DESIRE and AN ASSEMBLY SUCH AS THIS) though the middle book is pure Pamela Aidan's imagination filling in the time gaps from the nineteenth century masterpiece. Staying true to the original personalities THESE THREE REMAIN is a fitting final tribute to the great Ms. Austen.

The Sweet Potato Queens' First Big-Ass Novel
Jill Conner Browne with Karen Gillespie
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
0743278275 $22.95 1-800-223-2336

In 1968 Jackson, Mississippi, the Fab Five (Jill, Mary, Patsy, Tammy and Gerald) became tight friends because of their belief that they are magnificent though the existing high school clubs and other teen associations rejected each of them. The outsiders dubbed themselves the Sweet Potato Queens with their vision to enjoy life to the fullest for "If it ain't fun, we ain't doing it." After graduation they remained friends though each went their separate way. Mary went Hollywood; Gerald comes out of the closet in San Francisco; Tammy becomes a Jackson TV weather reporter; Patsy becomes a mom in Atlanta, while Jill becomes a personal trainer and columnist. Each has met life head on, but now twenty plus years later following marriage, death, and relationship blunders, they meet in London to save Tammy from what her four bosom buddies think is a tragic mistake. Though more vignette than novel, this is a fine fictionalization of Jill Connor Browne's The Sweet Potato Queens. The five protagonists are a likable quintet as they help each other stay balanced over the years. Fans of the Karen Gillespie's Bottom Dollar Girls, the Mossy Creek sagas or the Sweet Potato Queens will enjoy this humorous slice of life.

More Twisted
Jeffrey Deaver
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
1416541187 $24.95 1-800-223-2336

As with its short story predecessor (see TWISTED), this is a terrific crime thriller anthology. There are thirteen reprints with three from the late 19990s and the remaining from this decade. There are also three new tales (Afraid, Locard's Principle, and The Voyeur) with Locard's Principle being a longer short story starring Lincoln Rhyme. Each of the tales are fun to read as most of them share a common twist that leads to questioning just who a character truly is; are they a thief, a killer, a psychopath or just an innocent person in the wrong place at the wrong time. Crime thriller fans will appreciate this entertaining exhilarating compilation in which readers will keep changing their mind over who is guilty in tales faster than "a sniper's bullet".

Black Monday
R. Scott Reiss
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
0743297644 $25.00 1-800-223-2336

The world is stunned when a microbe devastates oil. Gas generated transportation no longer exists beginning an urban isolation. Computers fail once their batteries run out as electricity no longer is produced. Food supplies to the big cities end. Government fails soon afterward as street gangs rule small territories. None of the leaders who whined about foreign oil dependency understood how deep the globe depended on this commodity until the pandemic disaster began

Still some government agencies continue to try to solve the calamity before the point of no return. At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologist Greg Gillette seeks a cure to the pandemic disaster which he believes he will obtain faster if he can find ground zero where this microbe was initially unleashed on an unsuspecting oil guzzling planet than hiding in his lab. He knows time is running out on mankind, but he fears he is stretched too thin to complete either of his missions. BLACK MONDAY is an exhilarating thriller based on how intrusive oil is in everyday life well beyond gas for a car so that if something destroyed the supply, humanity would be devastated. The story line is fast-paced as the clock ticks with the likable desperate hero scurrying around the countryside seeking clues as to what happened. Though a bit of petrol science especially how the microbe works would have enhanced the tale, fans of 100-octane save the world novels will want to read this thrilling saga that will make a terrific action movie as already planned.

The Hamiltons
Catherine Cookson
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
0684808013 $25.00 1-800-223-2336

"Hamilton". In Tyneside since she has only two memories before she turned seven, lonely Maisie Rochester assumes that is when she first met Hamilton. Having no friends and a mom who never spoke with her, Maisie mostly talked to herself or her secret companion Hamilton. She told no one about his existence because he explained to her that kids would taunt her worse than they do now and adults would lock her away as a horse cannot be a human mentor, but though she told no one about her beloved advisor, she wrote all about her only friend and the horse sense guidance he provided to her. Hamilton remains Maisie's only constant as she becomes an adult. "Goodbye Hamilton". Hamilton left Maisie soon after she declared her love for Nardy as his horse sense told him she no longer needed him. On the plus side, her diary of her life with Hamilton has become a bestseller even if everyone assumes Hamilton only lived in her imagination. Still she has a chance to remarry, but she has doubts as she is dismal when dealing with people and her first time as a wife was a major failure. However, Hamilton has returned to help her, but this time he is accompanied by his fiancee, the beautiful mare Begonia. Maisie knows that whatever she does, if needed, her beloved Hamilton will return to guide her through the darkness. This reprint contains two of Catherine Cookson's 1980s the Hamilton Trilogy (this reviewer has not read HAROLD) though I am unsure why only the first two tales were included in this collection. Both tales are superior whimsical deep looks at a lonely person who makes up an imaginary horse that seems very real as he guides her through human interaction and befriends her.

Saffron Kitchen
Yasmin Crowther
Viking Books
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0670038113 $23.95 1-800-847-5515

In London, Iranian expatriate Maryam hits her nephew Saeed who lives with her and her husband Edward since his mother died. Saeed runs away to avoid a beating, but Maryam's pregnant daughter Sara chases him and then miscarries. While Sara despondently recuperates in the hospital, Maryam, feeling guilt, runs away to the village in Iran where as a child she spent the happiest moments of her life. Maryam looks back to the moment everything changed for her. She and her two sisters enjoyed an upper class lifestyle due to their father being a General loyal to the newly installed Shah. Her sire hired a tutor Ali, whose teachings include Arnold's "Dover Beach", which led to the teen dreaming of far away places. However, her strict father catches her and Ali committing an unacceptable though innocent transgression; he throws her out. Maryam became a nurse, moved to Arnold's England, married kindhearted Edward, had a daughter while pining for her Ali, until she finally leaves behind those who cared about her. This is a wonderful character driven mid twentieth century clash of cultures. Edward is a stiff upper lip Englishman who knows his wife will never return to him; Sara cannot comprehend her mother's soul searching yearning for what she lost three decades earlier; finally Maryam is enigmatic with her need to go home even though her memories are no longer there. Though her desires are not fully understandable as a longing is different than a doing, fans will appreciate this deep look at a woman pulled by two cultures.

Martha Grimes
Viking Books
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0670037869 $25.95 1-800-847-5515

In Clerkenwell, England though he is only thirteen years old, Benny Keegan looks much older so is able obtain work as a helper in the kitchen of Zetter's restaurant, a place with rooms. Waiter Gilbert Snow asks Benny to deliver a meal to the room of Billy Maples, but the young teen finds a corpse in the room. Benny immediately calls his friend Scotland Yard Superintendent Richard Jury. Islington Inspector Lu Aguilar leads the investigation into the room service homicide, but Richard forces his way on the case especially since he plans to sleep with her. Both have no problem in bed, but struggle to find a motive for murder because Billy seemed to have no enemies and though wealthy the inheritance went to his even more affluent father. With the assistance of his pal Melrose Plant, Richard tries to figure out who killed the lover of William James' novels only to find ties between friends and family to a WWI atrocity that still fails to explain why Billy was killed. In his twentieth plus appearance, Jury is at his best as he investigates the homicide in which leads prove false and he slowly peels away the mendicant masks of those close to the victim; even more interesting is his attraction to Lu. Readers will appreciate his inquiries as he digs deeper into what the family and friends try to conceal from him. The whodunit leaves the romance in the DUST as this is a strong police procedural.

The Commission
Michael Norman
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
1590583582 $24.95 1-800-421-3976

The Chairman of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole Levi Vogue is coming home from a rendezvous with a prostitute that he has been seeing for a year and in a happy mood. That feeling is shattered when someone outside his home fires a shotgun killing him while taking off half his face. At first it looks like the prostitute's violent boyfriend who just got released from prison is the best suspect but he has an airtight alibi. Sam Kincaid, Chief of the Special Investigations Branch of the Utah Departments of Corrections, teams up with homicide detective Lieutenant Kate McConnell to work the case. They find an ex-con Charles Watts who has a grudge against the victim, in his car an apparent suicide with a note that looks to be in his handwriting. An autopsy proves that Watts was murdered and his death made to look like a suicide. Although they found the man who killed Vogue they don't know who was pulling his strings and when they try to find the forger they discover he is a murder victim as well. It looks like a group of conspirators are tying up all loose ends. They believe the conspirators are part of the system but finding out who they are puts Sam and his family in danger. This is not a prison drama but a crime thriller about people who use the system and the criminal element for their own gain. Sam and Kate are fascinating characters who have to deal with state politics and criminals in order to find out who are the puppet masters. The author takes the reader through a step by step investigation that feels realistic yet is very fascinating to the layman.

Fever Moon
Carolyn Haines
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312351615 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

In New Iberia, Louisiana in 1944, the war effort is causing serious shortages and families are losing their men folk to the fighting oversees. Deputy Raymond Thibodeaux went off to war with his brother but when Antoine died, he became a killing machine until he was wounded and sectioned out. His work and his visit to the town whore are the only bright spots in his lonely existence He lives with the fear that shrapnel in his back will move and cause him to be paralyzed. Called out to Beaver Creek, Raymond finds the dead body of wealthy plantation owner and businessman Henri Bastion; next to him covered in blood is Adele Herbert who says she is a loup-garou (werewolf). He finds she is running a high fever and doesn't believe that she killed the man or that she is a loup-garou but the townsfolk who believe in such things are ready to lynch her. When a child goes missing and is nowhere to be found the people believe she took the child. A second death brings the locals to the point of violence; to prevent an injustice Raymond must find the real killer. The superstitions of the deep rural areas of 1940s Louisiana are looked upon as facts by much of the residents. Adele is different and the circumstances make the townsfolk believe that she is a killing loup-garou. The hero, wounded in mind and body, sees Adele as his redemption for the death of his brother who followed him into the war. Southern town living is pictured very vividly and the investigation is so realistic that readers will find themselves caught in the events. Carolyn Haines latest crime thriller is dark, gothic in tone and totally fascinating.

Ken Bruen
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312341407 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

Former Guarda alcoholic Jack Taylor remembers why he ended up in a Galway mental institution. He was watching Serena May, the Downs Syndrome child of friends Jeff and Cathy when he opened up the second floor window to allow some air inside the sweltering apartment; he lost focus and she fell out the open window to her death. He also knows he was cold sober though he blames himself for negligence. He feels powerful guilt though he is freed from the institution but continues to avoid alcohol. Father Malachy surprises Jack when he visits him in his new digs as the two loathe one another. Malachy asks Jack to investigate the murder of Father Joyce. Meanwhile Ni Iomaire better known as Ridge, who picked Jack up from the hospital, asks Jack to find out who is stalking her. Finally "his" Cathy requests that he locate her husband, amidst the homeless with a guarantee that if he fails she will kill him. With a new partner Cody, Jack begins his inquiries to help him forget his causing a wrongful death by neglect. The three cases take a back seat to the dark somewhat depressing changing Ireland where the Church is losing its hold to the new affluence. The story line is filled with non-stop action as Taylor perhaps too easily solves his cases with the assistance of Cody. However, the star of his fifth thriller is present day Ireland where the traditionalists and the modernists battle for supremacy.

Evil Is Done
Natasha Cooper
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312362129 $24.95 1-888-330-8477

After eighteen years as a barrister Trish Maguire feels life has gone full circle. She works with Leviathan loss adjustor eight plus months pregnant Cecilia Mayford, who happens to be married to a highly regarded sculptor Sam Foundling, one of Trish's first clients. Trish and Cecelia are looking into the newly developed London Arms building in which cracks have formed. Sam, raised as a foster child, receives a letter from a woman in HM Prison claiming to be his biological mother, who needs his help as she stands charged with infanticide. However someone batters his wife at his studio. She is rushed to the hospital with head traumas, but though the baby is saved Cecilia dies. Trish believes Sam is innocent, but others like his mother-in-law Gina "Mrs. Justice" Mayford and Trish's friend newly assigned police Chief Inspector Homicide Detective Caroline Lyalt think otherwise and plan to prove their assertion. Trish looks at a host of other scenarios, but doubts Caro will listen to her unless she uncovers something solid. EVIL IS DONE is an exciting London whodunit in which the police and the in-laws believe the husband committed the homicide while his only friend Trish thinks otherwise. The cast is strong especially the support players who bring out the best in the heroic barrister. Already with some conflict with her boyfriend over the cracked building case, Trish's efforts to find evidence of someone else being the perpetrator while the police only follow clues to hang Sam make for a wonder mystery that readers will appreciate.

The Betrayers
James Patrick Hunt
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312362765 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

In St. Louis two county deputies Chris Hummel and Wade Childers make what seems to be a routine traffic stop of Jimmy Rizza, only to be killed by Mike Dillon. St Louis Homicide Detective Lieutenant George Hastings leads the inquiries into the murders of the law enforcement officials that have all the cops outraged and in turn concerns the criminal elements who fear mass intrusion in their business. The first thing George realizes that makes the case seem less random than first thought is the weapon of choice was a machine gun. George wonders if the homicides are drug related with Hummel and Childers lured into a trap. As his superior Captain Karen Brady places increasingly unfair pressure on him to catch the culprits, George also feels unhappy with that young punk son of an affluent lawyer, Sergeant Bobby Cain, assigned to assist him. Ignoring his feelings of being a sandwich meat, he considers who could have set up such an operation including the hit order. Incarcerated drug lord Steve Treats or vicious felon John Zanatelli come to mind but what makes the investigation convoluted are the follow up executions that occur to eradicate the trail. Though the murder victims are different the fascinating use of a crime thriller to look at dysfunctional group dynamics will remind the audience of Fritz Lang's classic 1930s movie M (starring Peter Lorre). The investigation takes a back seat to the interactivities and relationships within the two prime groups. For instance, George has no respect for or trusts either his direct supervisor or the sergeant; the same holds true within the criminal circles as Jimmy only relies on his brother while Matt has his machine gun. Fans of tense fast-paced crime thrillers will want to read this terrific police procedural.

Magic City
James W. Hall
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312271794 $24.95 1-888-330-8477

While the world is stunned when the brash Louisville Lip Cassius Clay defeats Sonny Liston in Miami to win the boxing heavyweight championship, nearby mass murders occur. Someone viciously kills three members of the Cuban exile Morales family and four militiamen loyal to the patriarch. Twelve years old Snake and his younger brother Carlos are the only survivors, but the older sibling vowed vengeance one day. Mayor Stanton King and his wife adopt the orphaned Morales brothers. The mass murders are never solved. Four decades pass with the mass murders back in 1964 remaining a cold case. King sees a photo from the first Clay-Liston fight that has him sitting with four covert operatives. He sends his two adopted boys after each copy they can find; Carlos kills the photographer. He and Snake come after Lawton, father of Alexandra, whom Thorn is visiting. Thorn stops them but they escape. They try again, which motivates Thorn to learn why. MAGIC CITY is a tense thriller as an incident related to a major boxing match forty years ago comes home to roost for a former big city politician. The story line is action-packed though most readers will ignore King's assertion that a photo from the Clay-Liston first fight in 1964 could impact national security as implausible even with the current administration reclassifying documents from the 1950s. As the good (Thorn), the bad (Snake), and the ugly (Carlos) tangle, others want the photos too in James W. Hall's zany crime thriller.

On the Wrong Track
Steve Hockensmith
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312347812 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

In 1893 following the latest train robbery by the "Give-'em-Hell Boys" the Southern Pacific hires detectives Gustav "Old Red" and Otto "Big Red" Amlingmeyer to guard the latest shipment of gold. Riding the rails, the siblings are stunned when the head of baggage handler Joe Pezullo falls from the moving train. Whereas Big Red insists it is not in their job description, Old Red decides to investigate the homicide. Using the logic of his hero Sherlock Holmes, Old Red begins querying the passengers in the Pullman to see if he can find clues. He starts and finishes with sexy suffragist Diana Caveo; though he also talks with Dr. Chan and the Reds' peer cowboy detective Burl Lockhart, but learns little except that Miss Caveo is a babe. He finds inside the baggage car a snake, two coffins and the King of the Hoboes "Numero Uno." The case remains illogical until they find Thornton's Boiler #2 saloon where the Reds rescue Lockhart and Chan from drunken cowboys; then the investigation spins even further out of control. Readers will appreciate the Reds' second amusing zany western Americana mystery (See HOLMES ON THE RANGE) as everything is afoot once Old Red applies his brand of Holmesian logic to the murder. The story line is hilarious with nothing from the late nineteenth century considered sacred as lampooning the absurd is the norm. Fans of jocular 1890s whodunits will laugh along side Big and Old Red as they guard the gold, investigate a murder, and cause havoc.

Vinnie's Head
Marc Lecard
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312360215 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

He just got out of jail when Long Island based criminal Johnnie LoDuco finds a need to hide as he is sought by law enforcement as a party of interest in a convenience store robbery that he had no involvement in. While hiding Johnnie goes fishing only to reel in the head of his best friend, Vinnie McCloskey-Schmidt. He is stunned to pull in a severed head especially that of Vinnie, as he was going to see his buddy soon re a credit card scam that they discussed before his incarceration. Even more shocking, everyone seems to want Vinnie's head and no one minds if they take Johnnie's too. Cops, bounty hunters, mobsters and his late friend's girlfriend come for the head of Vinnie McCloskey-Schmidt as Johnny struggles with what is happening. If he stays on the lam he will have no idea what is going on; if he tries to learn what is going on he will become a sitting duck. This is a zany crime caper starring an antihero and a horde of purposely created caricatures who's seemingly only reason to live is to come after Johnny. The story line is fast-paced with one misadventure leading to another as various groups and individuals ranging the criminal gamut from crooked cops to a local serial killer to a sinister international cartel compete for VINNIE'S HEAD.

Gray Ghost
William G. Tapply
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312363036 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

Years ago lightning hit Stoney Calhoun wiping out his memory like an etch a sketch. After a hospital stay and a strange "payment" check he moved on with no hope of regaining all he lost though slithers seem to surface especially at needed moments. He thinks he may have been involved in some form of law enforcement as he occasionally shows such skills and then there the gray suit that speaks of government periodically coming to Maine. In Stoney's mind he believes the man comes to check up on him; perhaps to see if his memory returned. Still he ignores the suit as he currently is part owner of a Portland, Maine boat with bait and tackle shop on BITCH CREEK where he is an considered an expert on various local fishing spots. Stoney takes out a client fishing on a nearby island. However, their angling is interrupted when they stumble upon a burned corpse. Not planning to get involved except for answering police questions, Stoney soon wonders what is going on when his customer is soon afterward also murdered. Unable to stay out of the investigation and wondering if he could be next, Stoney begins inquiries into who the killer is. Fans of William G. Tapply's Brady Coyne will enjoy this fresh protagonist whose skills remain latent until he needs them. The story line is action-packed as Stoney may be doing an amateur sleuth investigation, but in spite of his lost memory he is a pro. Readers will appreciate this exciting New England whodunit starring a fascinating hero and seek his previous appearance (see BITCH CREEK).

Dangerous Games
Lora Leigh
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312939922 $6.99 1-888-330-8477

Overly protected by her older brother Reno and his best friend Clint McIntyre, Morganna Chavez joins the DEA when her two guardians are away saving the world. However, when Clint sees Morganna at a BDSM club he frequents he becomes irate. The Navy SEAL demands she leave, but to his shock, he learns she is undercover to find the dealer of a powerful date rape drug. When someone shoots at them, Clint agrees to join her assignment as her dom with her as his sub. As he falls in love with "little sister", who has always loved the "Iceman", his past places her in further danger as a Columbia drug cartel that he destroyed like a Phoenix, is back seeking to kill him and his loved ones. Though much of the audience will need to adapt to the BDSM scene, readers who enjoy a torrid erotic romantic suspense thriller with a different kick will want to participate in DANGEROUS GAMES. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action, but belongs to Morganna and her Iceman. Though Clint is too perfect as a SEAL and a DOM (Morganna's boss Joe Merino previously asked to join the investigation for obvious reasons), Lora Leigh writes a torrid titillating thriller with a somewhat different but fascinating relationship between the lead couple.

Romancing the Vine: Life, Love, and Transformation in the Vineyards of Barolo
Alan Tardi
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
031235794X $25.95 1-888-330-8477

Not long after the horrifying 9/11, restaurateur Alan Tardi closed his popular Follonico to leave the Big Apple for some soul searching. He went Italy's renowned wine region the Piedmont where he settled in the village of Castiglione Falletto. Mr. Tardi explains that 9/11 was a wake up call to what matters in life, love of others and to be loved. Thus he followed his heart to be with his Ivana at her family vineyards working the field along with her brother to bring it back to life. Though he returns to Manhattan periodically he has adjusted to his new outdoors lifestyle. Part travelogue, part Italian cookbook, part romance, and part cleansing the soul, Mr. Tardi provides a deep look at the Piedmont wine region while at the same time enabling readers a chance to understand why he needed to renew his life. The recipes are mouthwatering and the description of the vineyards are top rate, but the biography is at its best when the author opens his soul to his audience; the cooking and vineyards are healers at least for him while his love of people is what the terrorists cannot destroy.

The Prairie Grass Murderers
Patricia Stoltey
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
1594145415 $25.95 1-800-223-1244

Palm Beach County, Florida Circuit Judge Sylvia Thorn takes a leave of absence when her brother Willie Grisseljon calls that he has been incarcerated in an Illinois psychiatric ward of a hospital. Willie, a Viet Nam vet, who came home from the war with some mental issues, was vacationing by walking around where he and his sister grew up when Deputy Sheriff Morris took him to the hospital while keeping his identification. Willie tells his sister upon her arrival that he found a corpse while hiking before he was busted. Sylvia and Willie go to the locale only to have Morris send them away. This time they visit Sheriff Trace Parker, Sylvia's high school sweetheart, who they take to the crime scene where the body of farm manager Clay Taylor is found. As Willie does his odd investigation based on people observations and Trace does the official inquiry, Sylvia is caught in between both as she is in the wrong place at the wrong time when a second homicide occurs. Willie is a unique protagonist whose way of seeing things turns the PRAIRIE GRASS MURDERERS into a wonderful whodunit. Sylvia serves as the solid lead player who along with Clay works the crime from a more standard procedure. The murder mystery is clever and the second chance romance deftly handled, but the freshness resides with fascinating Willie.

First Murder in Advent
Sharon Wildwind
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
159414527X $25.95 1-800-223-1244

In 1972 Fort Bragg, Captain Elizabeth receives a call from her friend former Special Forces Sergeant Benny Kirkpatrick that their mutual pal Military Police Captain Avivah Rosen and he were involved in a gun fight in Central Park when she went after a thief. He also says they are going away to hide at the Convent of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Crossmore, North Carolina on the other side of the state from Fayetteville, Bragg's home station locale. Elizabeth agrees to meet up with her best friends. At the Convent just before Advent, Elizabeth sees a strange combination of people welcoming her besides her two friends including the mysterious Major Darby Baxter with his zillion AKAs, who she assumes is an undercover agent of sorts, but not sure for which agency. However, a friendly reunion turns ugly when someone using a garrote murders another guest Gary Dormouth who had accompanied Avivah when she came down from New York. The three soldiers begin to investigate the homicide as they hope to uncover the killer before he or she plays Agatha Christie's ten Little Indians with them. The latest Viet Nam era mystery is a superb tale that showcases how difficult returning to the States were on the soldiers and how little official recognition was accorded females who served in the war zone. The whodunit is cleverly set up so that there is a myriad of suspects so that historical mystery readers will appreciate the story line. However, as with SOME WELCOME HOME, it is the cast especially the two female officers who seem real as they adapt to returning to an unwelcoming world

Suddenly You
Shelley Galloway
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
1594145717 $26.95 1-800-223-1244

In 1872 Cedar Springs, Colorado Territory, legendary retired Texas Ranger Captain Quentin Smith arrives by stage asking for Dark Horse Saloon owner Nash Bond. Jasmine Fairchild, who serves liquor at the establishment, escorts him to the saloon. Quentin informs Nash he no longer works as a Ranger having taken a job with the Kansas Pacific; he is town because he has learned that the "brain" behind the violent murder robbery of a train is meeting his gang here. He is also in town recovering from injuries, which he will use as an alibi while waiting for the outlaws to arrive. Quentin dreams of owning a ranch and raising a family, but knows that will never be having lost a wife due to a bullet intended for him. However, he is very attracted to Jasmine, who reciprocates his feelings. When he is forced to use her as bait to trap the killers, he fears like he has never ever in his life and prays she comes out of this okay. SUDDENLY YOU is a delightful western romance starring two likable protagonists who each believes they do not deserve love, but when it comes they want it with all their heart. The story line is initially character-driven as Quentin's presence overwhelms the townsfolk as he is so famous he appears in Dime novels. Jasmine starts off as one of his hero worshippers, but soon sees the person, insecurities and all. The plot turns begins to turn into High Noon towards the middle of the novel as the gang members begin to arrive. Readers will enjoy this fine Americana as two worthy souls pray that they are FINDING LOVE'S FUTURE if they survive the outlaws.

The Taming of Lord Astor
Molly Madigan
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
1594145725 $26.95 1-800-223-1244

In 1874 Lady Adelaide Astor hires relationship expert Miss Tilly Leighton to help model her brother Jaiden into the right man for his fiancee Clara Haversham. Tilly meets Jaiden in his library when he catches her sneaking around in a room that was previously locked. She brazens her way out of the situation with an explanation that leaves the former Scotland Yard investigator amazed and fascinated. Jaiden's former apprentice turned Chief Inspector Daniel Sheldon arrives asking for advice as he has made no progress on the "missing wives" case; each was married to an SOB and vanished without trace leaving behind their personal values like jewelry. Jaiden offers nothing while Tilly notices the attraction between her client and the detective so she plans to help it along. As Tilly and Jaiden fall in love, he wonders about her nocturnal activities especially with some unknown assailant trying to harm her. Tilly is such a unique protagonist that Victorian romance fans will want to follow her exploits while she tames Lord Astor. Her profile of the male animal is wonderful and accurate (don't tell my husband I wrote that). The story line is a fast-paced gender war between a cerebral strategist and what she considers her inferior, a man who enjoys her exploits. Molly Madigan provides an entertaining fun tale that also contains a serious undertone involving spousal abuse.

The Sweet Scent of Murder
Susan P. Baker
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
1594144699 $25.95 1-800-223-1244

In Houston private investigator Mavis Davis obtains a strange client through her part-time Lamar High School receptionist Candy Finkelstein. A wealthy classmate of Candy, eighteen year old Tommy Lawson wants to hire Mavis to find his missing younger sister Jeanine whom he thinks might be in trouble. Though she agrees to take the case gratis, he leaves her with a sizable fee anyway. She begins her inquiries at Lamar, but finds out nothing. Mavis next visits the parents of the two teens at their affluent exclusive River Oaks estate, but neither Hilary nor Harrison seem concerned that their daughter vanished; in fact they invite Mavis to join their party they are hosting. She was going to refuse until she learns her client has also disappeared. At the party while Harrison seems to mock her, he suddenly collapses and dies. As Mavis continues her inquiries over the chagrin of her police sergeant boyfriend, she is charged with being an accessory to the kidnapping of a minor; now the case is personal. Readers will appreciate the efforts of Mavis and Candy as they investigate the disappearance of two teen siblings whose parents seem indifferent to the vanishings. The case spins out of control when the father of her client dies. Fans of female sleuthing stories will enjoy this delightfully baked tale as the courageous protagonist tries to do what she believes is the right thing though that disturbs her boyfriend the cop.

Lose this Skin
Jerry Sykes
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
1594145377 $25.95 1-800-223-1244

In Camdentown, England Detective Inspector Frank Roscoe still seeks the drive by gunman who shattered his left heel seven months ago. Several days a week, Roscoe returns to the Echo Barn bar, the scene of the crime hoping to find a witness, but so far nothing. Physically he is nearly back to what he was, but mentally the wounds remain festering. Family friend Rhiannon Burns pleads with Roscoe to investigate the death of her ten years old son Karl in a domestic violence incident in which a police car hit the child. She thinks the cops were trying to hit someone else, but a push sent her son into the path of the vehicle. Roscoe assumes this is a grieving mother looking for a purpose to her child's tragic death, but to mollify her he agrees to investigate the incident. He quickly reassesses his first opinion of a tragic accident as it begins to appear the driver, a cop, purposely targeted someone in the crowd. Motivated for the first time since his incident, Frank digs deeper into what happened. LOSE THIS SKIN is a fascinating private investigative tale starring a cop on medical leave haunted by a personal incident that he cannot let go of until the grieving mother hooks him into making inquiries into her son's wrongful death accident. Readers will initially agree with Frank and the police department that Karl's death was a tragedy and his mom cannot let go, but will begin to change their minds (like Frank does) as the injured detective begins to uncover disparities. Tragic accident or murder of the wrong person, fans will want to know as Jerry Sykes writes a wonderful mystery.

The Unexpected
Weyman Jones
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
1594145180 $25.95 1-800-223-1244

In Key West, Florida, card dealer Arthur explains the plan to three criminals on how they, Gisu a female participant who has played at the tables, a fourth felon Ally Oop who has not arrived, and he will rob the casino boat he works at. Arthur goes into elaborate detail step by step. Whereas Samson asks overall penetrating queries, his partner Sam listens very studiously while third person Stretch asks simple questions involving his role. Arthur also says that their Islamic sponsor has plans to use the boat with their robbery as a distraction by planting dirty bombs that will erupt during the Conch Republic gala in which the President might attend. THE UNEXPECTED is a superb thriller as Arthur's explanation on how to rob the casino boat and its decoy make for a tense tale. When the actual caper occurs, the audience will compare how well the execution does against the plan as everyone anticipates THE UNEXPECTED, especially Sam, to occur. Fans of action-packed high seas thrillers will appreciate Weyman Jones' strong novel wondering until the climax whether the robbery – hijack diversion and the prime terrorist assault will succeed.

The Land of Promise
Al & Joanna Lacy
Multnomah Books
601 North Larch Street, Sisters, OR 97759-9320
1590525647 $12.99 1-800-929-0910

Five decades since the Trail of Tears killed many of them (see CHEROKEE ROSE), the Cherokee people are overall happy with their land in Indian Territory. However, to the chagrin of Indian Territory Police Chief Brit Claiborne, a quarter Cherokee, President Harrison has decided to move the People again this time onto "reservations" in a small relatively useless part of the Oklahoma Territory. Brit knows that this forced mini Trail of Tars will cause major trouble because as the Indians are pushed out, white settlers will come in a land rush, each claiming 160 acres in the unassigned lands. He explains his fears to his beloved wife Cherokee Rose (see BRIGHT ARE THE STARS). Though many of the displaced Indians go peacefully, some are outraged such as the Osage who attack a wagon train that include three generations of Bakers; the military arrive in time to save the party. Brit tries to keep everyone safe regardless of ethnicity and because of this becomes a target from both sides as some Cherokee claim he sold them out while the whites demand he do his job to hunt down the renegades. The southwest has become a hot spot of injustice as neither side's moderates can be heard above the noise of the extremists willing to commit ethnic cleansing because the Oklahoma District has become THE LAND OF PROMISE for the whites and the land of sorrow for the Indians. The final tale in the Lacey's "A Place to call Home" trilogy is a superb historical fiction story that looks at the late ninetieth century land rush that caused heartbreak for both races. The key to this saga is that Indians and whites are treated with respect by the authors who also do not hide from the atrocities that occurred. This is a deep inspirational historical that shows even at life's darkest; hope and faith in the promise of the Lord enable people to seek the light of salvation.

An Unexpected Engagement
Sara Reinke
Medallion Press
912 Marsha Drive, Palantine, IL 60067
1932815910 $6.99

In 1748 heeding her mother's call to come home from London as her sister is about to give birth, Charlotte Engle returns to the family estate in Essex County accompanied by her Aunt Maude. However, the notorious Black Trio highwaymen stop her coach. Unable to sit idly by she fires a shot at one of the thieves, punches another, and hooks the heart of the one accosting her with her sharp tongue. No one is harmed, but her mother misinterprets what happened and decides her daughter needs the protection of a husband, selecting Lord James Houghton who declares he loves Charlotte though she rejects him. At a party, Charlotte, the author of insightful essays on social and economic ills, meets Kenley Fairfax, who admits he not only has read her chapworks but admires her intelligent arguments. He even suggests that she hide her gender so men would get past their horror of a female author and read her logical opinions. They are attracted to one another and when her mother tries to force James on her, Kenley intercedes insisting they met in London and have an arrangement. However, as she falls in love, she realizes her beloved has secrets (ironically readers know both though the heroine does not) that could end their relationship before they say I do. Though James's greed fails to surface until very late (his arrogance is in the reader's face from the onset), AN UNEXPECTED ENGAGEMENT is a delightful Georgian romantic suspense with the thriller aspects coming late. The story line centers on the heroine who knows what she likes and loves and what she detests, and is unafraid to act on her judgment. Readers will appreciate Charlotte's courage as she unravels a web of deceit that would send most of her female peers into vapors.

The Witch
Mary Ann Mitchell
Medallion Press
912 Marsha Drive, Palantine, IL 60067
1932815813 $6.99

In life Cathy was a very unhappy woman who didn't get along with her mother and was hurt when she discovered her husband was cheating on her with their teenage babysitter. During an episode of deep depression she hung herself in the basement; her son Stephen discovered his mother's body. Cathy in life was a practicing dark witch and she taught her son how to gain power so he could one day become a powerful warlock. Stephen calls his mother back from beyond; upon her return she wants to live again if only to enact revenge on the people who hurt her. In the basement where she practiced her craft, there is a boxl on the table decorated with real demons on the top of the box. When Stephen's blood is spilt and the demons drink it, they can be freed to enact her vengeance. Stephen does this but people closest to him are badly injured and die as the demons carry out Cathy's revenge. Stephen realizes that this can't continue but he doesn't know if he will be able to sever his last link to his mother and send her back to the hell she belongs in. Readers who like to be scared out of their wits will thoroughly enjoy THE WITCH, a chilling horror thriller in which one shocker follows another. Mary Ann Mitchell is talented horror author who uses interaction between her characters to tell a great haunting story. Readers will wonder how far Cathy will go because after she achieves her quest. She also has a hidden agenda (with her offspring) to take over, by his "invitation", Stephen's heart & soul.

Count to Ten
Karen Rose
Warner Books, Inc.
1271 Avenue of the Americas, Room 913, New York, NY 10020
0446616907 $6.99 1-800-759-0190

Chicago Fire Department Lieutenant Reed Solliday investigates a series of arsons when a homicide is added to the crimes. The police assign Detective Mia Mitchell to look into the murder aspects of the case. Neither the fire inspector nor the homicide cop is pleased with their superiors teaming them up to catch a deadly arsonist. Mia is dissatisfied to be pulled off her current investigation into finding the culprit whose actions has left her partner hospitalized while Reed thinks she is too preoccupied with the inquires into her partner's injuries and grieving the death of her father to be of any use on his case. As they overcome their doubts about each other, they begin to uncover an attraction to one another while their adversary remains just out of reach. However, neither expected the serial arsonist-killer would begin making the cat and mouse game personal choosing Mia as the epicenter of the next inferno. Fans of Karen Rose's fine romantic mysteries will recognize the heroine as a tough chip off the old block police detective from tales like I'M WATCHING YOU, NOTHING TO FEAR and YOU CAN'T HIDE; this time she is the star. The story line is filled with plenty of fiery action, but what keeps it fresh is the changing relationship between the two new partners as each has a reason to disbelieve the creditability of the other, but slowly come around in more ways than just a police-fire procedural focused on stopping a serial killing arsonist. Readers will appreciate this warm (no pun intended) romantic whodunit starring two independent fiery lead protagonists.

Red River
Lalita Tademy
Warner Books, Inc.
1271 Avenue of the Americas, Room 913, New York, NY 10020
0446578983 $24.95 1-800-759-0190

The 1872 elections are historical as the freed slaves of Bottom, Louisiana vote for the first time. The African-Americans overwhelmingly support the republican candidate for sheriff while the nearby white residents of Colfax go democrat. In 1873, the white candidate Shaw claims he is the sheriff, but the larger black population disagrees; his opponents stage a sit in at the town courthouse while praying the military intercedes as promised by Congress. Two of the sit-in members Israel Smith and Sam Tademy worry about the safety of their wive and children, who without them suffer hardships. Meanwhile still hurting from the war and the turn over of their lifestyle, whites become outraged over the court house occupation. In April, racial war breaks out as a massacre of the black male population of Colfax occurs by a while militia. Sam leads the evacuation of the women and children from the town. Almost ten years later, Israel's son Noby and Sam's son Jackson and future generations of both families struggle with a belief to never forget the Colfax Massacre. Following up the superb CANE RIVER family drama, Lalita Tademy provides further insight into the history of her ancestors this time during the Reconstruction Era with the entire focus being on the prelude to the massacre, the horror of the carnage, and the after effect of the slaughter. The first part of the novel is historical fiction at its best as Ms. Tademy provides a powerful insight into a dark moment of American history. Part Two is not quite as exciting as this "After" segment is drier as twentieth century family members try not to forget the Colfax Massacre. Still in spite of Part Two being more a historical review rather than the entertaining dramatization of the Part One "Before" readers will appreciate RED RIVER as a strong look at the bloodiest event of the Reconstruction Era.

Field of Fire
James O. Born
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0399153985 $25.95 1-800-847-5515

ATF agent Alex "Rocket" Duarte has returned from Bosnia and is working diligently to get a promotion to a supervisory position. At present he and his partner are searching at the migrant camp in western Palm Beach County for Alberto Salez so they can arrest for him violating firearms statutes. The wily man escapes and later that night Salez's car explodes by someone who used it to tripwire it. Caren Larson, a lawyer for the Department of Justice is assigned to work with Duarte because there have been two other G-4 bombings, one in Seattle and one in Virginia. Assistant Attorney General Bob Morales believes that the men who were targeted in the bombings were trying to organize labor and someone wanted them to stop. Duarte's instincts tell him there is a cover-up going on and when another person gets murdered in California, by the same hit man involved in the other bombings; he believes Caren is holding back on him, something that could cost all the people working on the case their lives. FIELD OF FIRE is a fantastic police procedural with a protagonist who once he gets the scent of a crime is like a bloodhound who needs to continue until he gets his prey. Women will adore the hero who is innocent when it comes to females but has superlative investigative skills that allow him to think outside the box. Surprisingly, the hitman has a conscience in spite of how he makes a living as he goes out of his way not to kill Duarte. He needs his own novel.

High Profile
Robert B. Parker
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0399154043 $24.95 1-800-847-5515

In Paradise, a jogger sees a man hanging from a tree and calls the police. Chief of Police Jesse Stone sees the body and knows he was shot before somebody hung him from the tree; the medical examiner confirms this taking the bullets from his body. The victim's prints are in the system so they discover he was Walton Weeks, a popular talk show and radio host as well as a newspaper columnist making this a high profile case. Not long after a second body with bullets in it is found in the dumpster behind Daisy's Restaurant. The same person killed both victims, the second being Walton's lover who was pregnant with his child. Nobody claims the body including his ex-wives, but pretty soon Jesse has a plethora of suspects including two former spouses, his present wife, a research assistant, a business manager and a bodyguard. Nobody needs a good alibi because the time of death can't be determined and most of the suspects have secrets to hide. Jesse believes a good old fashioned police investigation will lead him to the killer. Robert B. Parker always delivers an entertaining and enjoyable who done it due to the lead characters with their snappy repartee and their ability to keep apart their professional lives from their private lives. In HIGH PROFILE, Jesse loves two women, his promiscuous ex-wife and Sunny Randall who can't forget her ex-husband. In an ironic turn of events Sunny is guarding Jesse's ex wife from a stalker leading to them becoming friends. Only Mr. Parker could pull that one off.

Innocent In Death
J.D. Robb
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0399154019 $25.95 1-800-847-5515

In the year 2059 in New York City, Lieutenant Eve Dallas of the New York Police and Security Department is assigned a homicide case that has her completely stumped. Craig Foster, a teacher at a posh private school, is drinking hot chocolate from his thermos cup that his wife made for him when he suddenly keels over and dies. Two yen year old students Rayleen Strafford and Melanie Branch find the body and they tell a teacher who comes out of the classroom to see why they are screaming. When Eve arrives on the scene she immediately knows he was poisoned and the toxicology report says he died from ingesting ricin. During the investigation, she learns that the teacher was well liked by students, fellow teachers, his superiors and his wife. She has no motive but believes the killing was cold blooded and calculating because the murderer switched cups while the teacher was out of the office. When a suspect is found drowned in the pool she knows he was murdered by the same person who killed the teacher; only this victim was a sexual predator who had sex on school grounds with teachers and students' parents. The killer is hiding in plain sight but Eve doesn't want to believe her prime suspect could be the culprit. Nobody writes a futuristic police procedural better than J.D. Robb. In addition to dealing with a hard and heartbreaking case, she is unnerved that her husband's ex-flame Magdalena Percell is in town intent on causing trouble in her attempt to win back Roarke. The mystery is brilliantly arranged so nobody will easily guess who the killer is or what the motive is either. Ms. Robb constantly keeps her characters and storyline fresh so readers will find themselves easily awaiting the next installment in the "Death Series".

Dead Head
Allen Wyler
c/o Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765355965 $6.99 1-888-330-8477

In Georgetown Medical Center in Washington DC, Mohammed, an automobile accident victim likely to die, is being treated. His comrades paid $50,000 in cash for him to have the best care and since also he looks Muslim, the FBI is notified. Across the country at the San Francisco Moscone Convention Center, neurosurgeon Russell Lawton is kidnapped by Muslims after giving a speech on his research. The abductors know Mohammed is dying but before he dies he has to complete his mission, a terrorist attack in the D.C. area. They demand Dr. Lawton, if the situation warrants it, to remove Mohammed's head and put it in a "brain computer interface to produce speech from thoughts." As an incentive to gain the doctor's cooperation they have kidnapped his daughter and will kill her if he doesn't perform the cutting edge surgery. If he helps these predators, millions of lives will be lost; if he doesn't, they will kill him, his colleague and his daughter. Science fiction becomes science fact as the author states in the afterward that the concepts are sound and only technology is needed to accomplish what the terrorists want. There is plenty of action in this exciting, adrenaline producing thriller yet the characters, even the antagonists, are well developed so that readers get to know them and what drives them. DEAD HEAD is a medical thriller that is on par with the best of Robin Cook.

Seventh Key
Evelyn Vaughn
Silhouette Bombshell
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373514352 $4.99

When she married billionaire Alexander Rothchild Stuart III, comparative mythology instructor Magdalene Sanger knew she was a perfect ransom victim of a kidnapper. When she gave birth to their child Kestrel, she understands their offspring would be worth even more money. What she and her husband failed to consider was that she is the perfect victim for the Adriano family to snatch not for her husband's wealth, but for her arcane knowledge; she is a grailkeeper; her daughter also taken is a pawn to force cooperation. The Adriano know she is the key to obtaining the last tiles that will complete the legendary Black Madonna mosaic of the Madonna that can cause disasters. Failure will result in the death of Kestrel and other children; success means millions die; either way many innocent lives will be sacrificed. The conclusion to the fabulous Madonna Chronicles is an exiting climax to a refreshing series. The story line is action-packed but belongs to the beleaguered heroine who is caught in a Hobson's choice scenario. The key threads dangling from the previous tales are resolved so that fans who have followed the series from that first key will feel they got their money's worth and more. Evelyn Vaughn provides a fabulous closer.

The Medusa Prophesy
Cindy Dees
Silhouette Bombshell
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373514360 $4.99

Captain Karen Tucker is the tallest, biggest and strongest of the Medusas, the Marines first all-female Special Forces team. To prove their worth to doubting foreign military allies, the six-woman team is in the Arctic on an exercise against a pursuing all male Norwegian Defense Special Command squad intending to take them out. Karen is the only Medusa who defeats her male opponent Norwegian Lieutenant Anders Larson in hand to hand combat, which sets up a physical rivalry between the two of them over the next few weeks. As the joint team continues their trek with respect obvious on both sides, they discover a secret drug lab that produces a dangerous mind-altering elixir. Karen, already struggling to believe a hunk like Anders would be interested in a giantess like her, suddenly has new issues as she is exposed to this concoction. Her teammates and the Norwegian soldiers including the one she loves are in danger from her; as she struggles with her sanity; a calm Karen can defeat almost any person regardless of gender in a fight; but a berserker raging Karen would prove impossible to stop. With the front line blurred, female soldiers have been placed in combat situations (think military police for instance) making this thriller's prime concept genuine. The story line is action-packed though it goes over the edge of the world with the drug scenario. Still Karen is a terrific amazon who cannot believe a hunk her size would want a female who would pin him anytime they wrestled. Her competitiveness vs. Anders makes THE MEDUSA PROPHESY a fine military romance.

Dead is the New Black
Harper Allen
Silhouette Bombshell
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373514379 $4.99

As Megan Crosse walked down the aisle accompanied by her triplet sisters Natashya and Katherine, their long lost thought dead grandfather interrupts the nuptials (see DRESSED TO SLAY). Darkheart accompanied by shapeshifter Mikhail Vosteroff, claims his triplet offspring are part of a family of vampire-slayers and are needed right now. He insists one of them is a slayer, another will become a healer, and the third will convert into a vampire. He returned to them because they are in peril from the same creature that killed their mother. Tash knows that since her two sisters are vampire slayers, she is the one that will convert to the dark side. She feels the beginning of the change so she moves away from Kat and Meg to keep them safe. Dmitri Malkovich comes to kill Tash, but fails. While her siblings want to destroy him either physically or emotionally, Tash knows she needs his help when she infiltrates vampire queen Lady Jasmine's minion to destroy this bloodsucking highness. This is an exhilarating finish to the delightfully exciting vampire romance trilogy, starring the Crosse triplets (see VAMPAHOLIC). The story line is action-packed yet the key cast members, the female trio and their loved ones seem genuine while the enemy seems arrogantly darkly regal. Fans will enjoy the finish to a terrific miniseries, but will also want more thrillers perhaps more on Darkheart's adventures.

Staying Alive
Debra Webb
Silhouette Bombshell
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373514387 $4.99

In Seattle's Whitesburg Middle School, four armed terrorists hold hostage twenty-five fifth graders, Principal Dale Allen and teacher Claire Grant. She realizes the target is student Peter Reime, son of Washington State Representative, Paul who is extremely vocal on anti-terrorist activity. The leader of the invaders Habib Nusair demands the release of Hamid Kaibar or one by one everyone held captive will die. The first killed by the terrorists is Dale. The armed four try to make Claire kill Peter, but instead she kills one of them and injures another as the SWAT team enters the room. Three of the terrorists are dead, but one Bashir Rafsanjani escapes not before telling her she is dead. Habib's father, Nusair, an internationally known terrorist, vows retaliation against the stupid schoolteacher. Claire is a pawn whose only chance to survive resides with FBI agent Luke Krueger. However she must expose herself if she is to have a life; the problem is not the risk which is astronomical, but her falling in love with her enigmatic guard. STAYING ALIVE is a fabulous action-packed thriller in which the heroine has no time to rest on her laurels as she is the intended victim of vengeance. The story line is at its best when it focuses on the cat and mouse game between the teacher and her adversary; when it moves into romance territory between Claire and Luke, it slows down the plot as it feels surreal (ironically odd that the terrorist attacks seen genuine and the romance does not). Romantic suspense fans will enjoy this fine thriller starring a victim forced to be a heroine just trying to survive.

Jack Knife
Virginia Baker
Jove Books
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0515142522 $7.99 1-800-847-5515

In a black ops experiment, a time travel machine was built by brilliant scientist Jonathan Avery. However he was not chosen to be the first person to travel through time; his co-worker Sara Grant was. Avery made an unauthorized trip back in time while Sara and special ops officer David Elliot follow to bring him home before he changes anything. When the duo arrives in 1887, the Ripper slayings are headline news in the papers owned by Sir Jay Osborne, who is Avery though he does not know it. In his years living in the nineteenth century Avery bought up the newspapers, polarized the social classes, and counterfeited bills to buy up gold by illegal means. Although David and Sara have no idea what he plans to achieve, they know it must be horrendous. They work with "native' Scotland Yard Inspector Jonas Robb in an effort to prevent Avery's scheme from happening and perhaps help him with his Ripper case. Using the Wells' science fiction device of time travel, Virginia Baker creates a strong historical police procedural that is unique and entertaining. One of the most fascinating elements of this tense tale is the identity of the Ripper, which will stun readers. Great characterizations, a strong story line that merges two inquiries and a foggy Victorian atmosphere conjure up a memorable thriller.

The Case of the Missing Books
Ian Sansom
HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060822503 $12.95 1-800-242-7737

Israel Armstrong left London and his girlfriend Gloria for the Rathkletair Borough librarian position in Tumdrum, Northern Ireland. However, when he arrives at the small town, the Jewish vegetarian is stunned to find a sign on the door of the locked facility that announces the library is permanently closed. Deputy Head of Entertainment, Leisure, and Community Services Linda Wei imperiously explains to the mortified Israel that he remains under contract to them though he has no building to tender; instead he will serve as the Outreach Support Officer of the modern Mobile Learning Centre; in other words a distraught Israel will drive a bookmobile. Israel adapts to his new circumstance trying to improve the decrepit van while living on a nearby farm where he is attracted to the farmer's daughter George who sets him up in a locale where the chicken crap is the best smell. However, he soon has other problems when he catalogues the inventory only to find 15,000 books missing. He begins a quest based on the sleuths he has read to recover the lost tomes, but soon learns other libraries with buildings have purloined them even as he finds a second female to dally with reporter Veronica. THE CASE OF THE MISSING BOOKS is an amusing amateur sleuth tale starring a fish out of water struggling to adjust to his new environs as the hero finds everyone treats him like the dope in the "Rope-a-dope". The story line is fast-paced focusing on the escapades of the displaced London Jew whose senses are overwhelmed by excrement that he either steps in, falls in, or simply smells in. Ian Samson provides an amusing tale starring a seemingly out of place bibliophile whose lofty goal of bringing literature to a horde of eccentrics seems more difficult than building the Chunnel.

Penni Russon
c/o Harper Collins
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060793945 $17.89 1-800-242-7737

After the events of the last summer when her best friend Trout almost died, Undine promises her mother that she will not use her magic until she finishes twelfth grade. It is a hard promise to keep because it is bottled up inside her needing to be let out. Her father Prospero wants her to visit him in Corfu with her mother and brother for four weeks; Undine wants desperately to go and her mother finally agrees. Undine finally tells Trout she wants him for a best friend but not a boyfriend. She sees he is trying to understand the magic and she fears for him but he closes her out. He meets a young woman Maxine who wants to learn all about magic and just as Trout begins to trust her, she betrays him. At the same time on Corfue, Undine realizes some promises are made to be broken and by using her magic she saves Max's life at a strange cost to herself. Although there are fantasy elements in BREATHE, the magic is a symbol of being different and not belonging to a peer group because of that difference. Undine is accepting of her differences though her mother fears that the magic inside her daughter will cause her heartache and alienate her from those who love her. Trout tries to understand the magic that saved his life and in doing so wants to make Undine care for him the way he cares for her. While entertaining, there are lessons to be learned from this fascinating tale.

Daddy's Girl
Lisa Scottoline
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060833149 $25.95 1-800-242-7737

Though a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Natalie "Nat" Greco hides from the world by strictly adhering to routines. Thus it is a bit surprising even to her that she steps out of her safety net regimen and agrees to accompany associate Angus Holt on a seminar at a prison even if he is a hunk with a glib tongue that persuades her to come with him. However, the assignment turns dangerous when an ugly riot breaks out with the two visiting professors trapped in the middle of the chaos. Nat tries but fails to save the life of a guard, apparently stabbed during the melee. However before he dies, he asks her to tell his final words to his wife. Rescued from prison she sets out to complete her death bed vow, only to find she is the mouse chased by lethal cats who want the message and by the cops who think she is a killer. Breaking out of her cage for a short outing into another cage has turned her life upside down as she seeks to uncover the identity of the criminals, understand the enigmatic final words, and prove her innocence while also eluding the guys she seeks. Nat is a fascinating protagonist who takes a small step beyond her normal world only to find that stride is into an abyss as she lands in a prison riot and from there into a conspiracy in which she is expendable. Readers will appreciate her exploits as she investigates who wants her put away and why. Though this Ivy Leaguer's exploits are fun to follow more realistically inside the prison, readers will have problems accepting her as an active amateur sleuth charging into a conspiracy. However fans of Lisa Scottoline will still enjoy the adventures of "The History of the Law" professor who is the legal mouse that roared.

Napoleon's Pyramids
William Dietrich
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060848324 $24.95 1-800-242-7737

Four years have passed since Robespierre and the Reign of Terror ended. In Paris, though the aristocracy may have changed from blue blood to revolutionary blood, France seems back to normal as war, corruption, and pleasure rule. While observing this trend back to normalcy, American expatriate Ethan Gage wins a seemingly valuable trinket at cards, but it almost cost him his life. This is the story of how Ben Franklin's former apprentice learns a life lesson that gambling is a vice. Ethan won the Egyptian medallion in a card game. Afterward one of the other players offers money for the item, but Ethan turns him down. Just before leaving he warned no one refuses Silano and besides the medallion is cursed. Soon afterward thieves attack Ethan who realizes quickly they want the medallion. He survives their assault and keeps his newest asset, but now learns the gendarme seek him as a murder suspect. His luck turns at this point when he is attacked again, but gypsies and a mysterious Brit save his life. He joins Napoleon's Egypt expedition to get out of France and to learn why the medallion is so coveted. Instead in Egypt, malevolent assassins willing to kill him for the medallion come after Ethan. Gage is a sort of a late nineteenth century Hans Solo as he is a bit of a rogue. The story line is fast-paced whether it is in Paris or the Sahara as it seems that every turn that the hero makes and under every grain of sand he steps on lead to danger from someone coveting the medallion. The use of real historical persona and a strong support cast augments a terrific heroic saga that equates to a night of no sleep for readers.

The Spirit of Sweet Grass
Nicole Seitz
Integrity Publishers
5250 Virginia Way, Suite 110, Brentwood, TN 37027
0452286735 $13.99 1-800-524-3402

South Carolina septuagenarian Essie Mae Laveau Jenkins sits by the side of rural Highway 17 as she has for decades making sweetgrass love baskets. The weaver insists to those who worry about her that she is not alone as husband Daddy Jim sits by her side though he died years ago. Essie Mae believes her "love baskets" helps those who buy them from her roadside stand though she takes no chances as she adds prayers for those in need just as her beloved Auntie Leona taught her decades ago. Now her loved ones want to place the seventy-eight year old weaver into a home. Daddy Jim tells her to join him in Heaven where Jesus awaits her coming. She does, but besides her beloved spouse and the Sonof God, she meets her recently deceased African-American relatives and ancestors from Africa making her feel complete and at home. However, back on earth her descendents are in trouble needing Essie Mae to return to give them the strength to come together. This deep character study will provide inspiration to readers as Essie Mae deals with mortality, deaths of loved ones, sacrifice, the radical changing of her world, and coming to heaven. She keeps the story line flowing on earth and in heaven as fans will be fascinated with how the sweetgrass basket weaver puts love into her work. Though local dialect adds a sense of locale and to a degree purpose, it also adds some difficulty to the read. Still this is a magnificent profound look at a person who has an inner strength few contain.

Fall From Grace
Kristi Gold
Harlequin Everlasting
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373654049 $5.25

Jack and Anne Morgan divorced one another though they remained friends. They were especially careful when they split so that their beloved offspring would not be harmed. When Jack suffers a stroke, Anne knows he will need nurturing until he fully recovers. She insists he move into the home he used to live in when they were married so that she can help him recuperate. Anne rationalizes her good natured offer as her daughter needs her father and besides she and Jack are friends. As he heals under the watchful eyes of the two females he loves, Jack wonders how to regain what he lost when he and Anne divorced. This is a fascinating second chance at love tale starring a likable lead couple and a worried child concerned for the health of her daddy. The story line focuses more on the relationships than on dealing with a family health issue. Based on first hand accounts from my husband and his two brothers (aside to Stephen –happy birthday) involving their dad's stroke on Jets Superbowl Sunday, the tale misses a graceful opportunity to go deep into the struggles of the victim and his loved ones with a debilitating illness. Still this is a fine everlasting tale of the healing power of love.

Twist of Fate
Jayne Ann Krentz
Harlequin HQN
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373772297 $6.99

Though she needs a cane to walk since the recent car accident and will require surgery, Seattle guidance counselor Hannah Jessett comes to Vegas to try to persuade ruthless business shark Gideon Cage from taking over her brother's firm Accelerated Design. She offers the predator a game of chance, high card; if he wins she hands over her shares of stock while if she wins he backs off. He agrees and she draws the higher card. Gideon cannot get Hannah out of his mind as she brought to him is first refreshing event since he was betrayed by his mentor years ago. Though he must contend with his late teacher's offspring Hugh Ballantine, Gideon decides to go after Hannah. She, in turn, is looking at the journals her late Aunt Elizabeth Nord; a renowned but controversial anthropologist took when she visited Revelation Island. The shy counselor steps out of character for the second time in a short period to follow up on her aunt's revolutionary work. Gideon joins her. TWIST OF FATE is a delightful lighthearted contemporary romance with some suspense elements mostly late. The tale stars a likable seemingly naive heroine and an apparent business predator; readers will quickly decide that perceptions and images can be deceiving. The support cast enhances the fun story line starting when Hannah pulls out her deck of cards and Gideon keeps them as a souvenir and never slows down until the final confrontation with Aunt Elizabeth's legacy.

Her Summer Lover
Marisa Carroll
Harlequin Hotel Marchand
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373389469 $4.99

With the death of her grandmother Maude, as the heir Sophie Clarkson takes a leave of absence from her hotel job to return to her hometown Indigo, Louisiana to settle the estate that includes an antique store. Upon coming home, Sophie reflects on summers she spent in Indigo with her Nanan Maude at La Petit Maison but especially one summer with Alain Boudreaux, now the police chief who found her grandma slumped over the kitchen table dead apparently from a stroke. When Sophie and Alain see one another for the first time in years, both instantly realize the spark remains between them. However, she did not come home to begin a relationship having one failed marriage already. He opposes even a short tryst as he is in the midst of new trouble with his ex wife Casey Jo who years ago accused him and Sophie of adultery; so he wants nothing to cause a scandal that could hurt his son; beside which he distrusts women to stay as Casey Jo cut and ran. Though the connection to the Hotel Marchand series seems as nebulous as connecting Hussein to Bin Laden, HER SUMMER LOVER is a fun second chance at love romance. The lead pair is a likable duo who had a great summer interlude just after high school but now have a chance for permanency if they can overcome their failed respective relationships. However, the lighthearted romp is owned by the eccentric support cast, especially his zany mother and mother-in-law, who will remind readers of the late 1960s TV show the Mothers-In-Law starring Eve Arden and Kay Ballard. Though fans of HM will be disappointed at the lack of linkage, Marisa Carroll provides a warm Bayou romance.

Who Needs Cupid?
Susan Floyd, Debra Salonen, and Molly O'Keefe
Harlequin SuperRomance
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373713924 $5.50

"Lucky in Love" by Susan Floyd. Lucky Morgan loves Pastor Josh, but he seems unable to reciprocate. She has decided to make him her forever Valentine. "The Max Factor" by Debra Salonen. Coffee shop owner Ellenore "Elle" Adams says bah humbug to Valentine's Day until schoolteacher Arnold shows her how great is to be someone's special valentine. "A Valentine for Rebecca" by Molly O'Keefe. Art teacher Becca Potter wants Will to share the joy of love as Valentine's Day nears. However, so far Cupid has misfired until she gets some mortal assistance. These are three lighthearted romantic romps that celebrate Valentine's Day with gusto.

Montana Skies
Kay Stockman
Harlequin SuperRomance
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373781407 $5.50

Her husband died in a car accident that also injured their fourteen years old daughter Skylar. So to help her raise her offspring, pilot Rissa Mathews moves to North Star, Montana where her family and best friends live. Whereas Skylar feels at home, Rissa loathes the move failing to adapt to the small town. Skylar makes one friend Caroline Taggert, daughter of the sheriff. The town's prime law enforcement official Jonas is not happy with seeing his relatively obedient daughter hanging out with the newcomer, an obviously troubled teen. Making matters worse, he meets Skylar's mom when he stops her for speeding and to his chagrin he is attracted to her; she feels the same way about him including the belief this is the wrong time for them. The romance takes a back seat to the troubled teen as Rissa steals the show with her behavior and attitude. The story line is character driven as the two single adults struggle with parenting that each knows must supersede their love for one another. Readers who appreciate a solid realistic family drama (climax aside) will want to journey to MONTANA SKIES as the responsible lead couple raises their offspring while falling in unwanted love.

An Unlikely Family
Cynthia Thomason
Harlequin SuperRomance
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373713932 $5.50

Evie Gaynor left Detroit to become principal of Heron Point, Florida elementary school. However, even before she begins her new job, Evie learns that the terror of the school is Gemma Muldoone, daughter of a cop. Billie is struggling with being a single parent as his daughter resents him ever since she was dumped unceremoniously on him. Billie is doing his best to raise Gemma with love, but she knows he will discard her soon like everyone else has especially since the preadolescent senses her father is attracted to the new principal; little kids never stay around when two adults decide to mate. Evie tries to advise Billie on raising his child, but he resents her intrusion. Still the two adults fall in love while each is concerned with how to handle the troublemaking Gemma. The troubled preadolescent Gemma makes this a strong contemporary family drama as her behavior both matchmakes the principal and the cop, but also places them in dispute over what is best for his offspring. The story line focuses on the two adults undecided whether to kiss or argue; however, it is Gemma who believes deep in her heart that she is undesirable and expects once Billie and Evie let their attraction flow, she is history. Readers will empathize with the terror of Heron Point.

Megan Hart
Harlequin Spice
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373605137 $13.95

Triple Smith and Brown accountant Elle Kavanagh prefers one night stands rather than commitments. Her modus operendi is to go to a hang out where professional accountants or lawyers hang out and select a hunk for a night of passion followed by good bye. No personal relationship is her motto as she has dark secrets that she fears would be used against her. Elle does what she does best, pick up men at various venues like the gourmet candy store Sweet Heaven, but this is a first for her. Attorney Daniel Stewart takes her home, bit instead of going inside he leaves without even a goodnight kiss. Elle is stunned and get him out of her head; so when they next meet, they engage in a heated affaire though she limits their relationship to mostly the sheets. Dan wants much more from the woman he loves; he realizes he must learn what she so passionately hides from the world in order to prove to his beloved that it irrelevant to his feelings for her. Though told through the first person perspective of Elle, readers still obtain a deep look at Dan, albeit somewhat filtered by the frustrated star of the tale. The relationship between these two fully developed characters enhanced by a strong support cast makes for a terrific erotic romance.

The Second Time Around
Marie Ferrarella
Harlequin Next
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373881231 $5.50

Forty-five years old realtor Laurel Mitchell feels she is fortunate as her spouse of twenty-five years Jason loves her and her him. Their three sons are doing quite well and so are they as evidenced by Jason's hobby collecting toy trains. Everything suddenly changes when her gynecologist Dr. Kilpatrick during Laurel's annual checkup informs her that she is pregnant. Her husband does not want to raise another child who will turn into teen as they turn sixty. Their youngest offspring is embarrassed by the announcement. Her sister is envious as she will never have a child to raise, as her husband dumped her with no offspring. The extended Mitchell family has been hit for a loop as blue is out and pink is in. Laurel shows how this deep look of an unexpected life changing event, even a supposedly rejoicing one, impacts this extended family. The spouse, the sister, the three sons and a potential fiancee to one of them are stunned to say the least as none can quite accept a forty-five years old woman, not trying to become pregnant, carrying. This late in life pregnancy makes for a fabulous family drama though it is actually the fourth time around for Laurel; albeit a two decade gap between three and four.

Why Is Murder on the Menu, Anyway?
Stevi Mittman
Harlequin Next
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373881045 $5.50

Interior Designer Teddi Bayer and her mother are dining at The Steak-Out Restaurant when mom notices a man whom she thinks is perfect husband material for her daughter though the recently divorced Teddi is not interested. Mom goes off to the restroom when she scrams at the top of lungs from inside the men's room. Teddi rushes in to find mom staring at the corpse of the respective "groom" with a note on his chest from the Health Department. Nassau County Police Department Detective Drew Scoones arrives at the crime scene even as mom thinks he seems to always be around whenever the Bayer females are together. He asks Teddi if this feels like dejŕ vu as trouble seems to be her mantra (see WHAT GOES WITH BLOOD RED, ANYWAY?), As she realizes that mom in between hysteria stole the victim's pinkie ring, Teddi decides she wants to be handcuffed by Scoones but in the bedroom only. This is an amusing investigative romance as readers will agree with Drew that Teddi means trouble in more ways than one. The attraction between the cop and Nassau County's prime murder suspect remains hot, but first there is a homicide to solve. Readers who enjoy a lighthearted very funny romantic mystery will want to read the adventures of Teddi B on Long Island.

Slightly Psychic
Sandra Steffen
Harlequin Next
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373881258 $5.50

Lila Delaney tells the Hartford police Detective Malone and Owens that she knows where they can find the missing daughter of Senator Baxter. Holly is held prisoner in an old stone inn. With the TV news following them, she directs the cops to where she believes the woman is. Inside they find Holly locked to a bed by Lila's fiance, make that ex fiance, Alex Richardson; the news caught the drama entirely to the psychic's mortification. Lila and her best friend Penelope "Pepper" Bartholomew leave New England to start over in Virginia; her psychic skills seem gone forever. However, when she meets and is attracted to former baseball star Joe McCaffrey she decides to help him. If only her psychic skills came back even slightly she might locate his missing wife whom everyone assumes he killed. Lila is a fascinating protagonist who becomes the center of T-shirts after her ignominious TV performance that gives her fifteen minutes of undesired fame. Her "gift" vanished perhaps due to a psychological reaction formation as she does not want to be considered a freak. However, attracted to "say it ain't so" Joe, she needs her skill to return to help him. Though the romantic relationship between the once intuitive psychic and the once baseball star never fully develops, readers will enjoy their amateur sleuth team-up.

Samantha Hunter
Harlequin Blaze
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373793030 $4.75

In Maryland, Jack White informs CIA undercover operative Daniel MacAlister that he might have to eliminate former superheroine Risa Remington. Daniel makes it clear to his superior he detest the assignment, but Jack who loathes it too tells him she could prove a major security risk. Last year Daniel and Risa infiltrated a terrorist lab in Nevada, but an electromagnetic blast caused her to lose what made her valuable to the agency; her ability to read minds. Jack directs Daniel to try helping her adjust to the normal world, but if he fails he is to kill her. Daniel visits Risa pretending to see how she is doing. They quickly fall into bed as he cannot resist her sexual lure. As they make love, however, his sexual strokes apparently activates her superpowers, which means she will be able to read his secret agenda if he continues to touch her, something he craves doing. This is a terrific romantic suspense thriller with a touch of the paranormal and starring a delightful lead pair. The story line is fast-paced as the protagonists fall in love, but his assignment must come before his feelings and desires. The twist of the sexual trigger is devious, brilliant and fun as Samantha Hunter entertains readers with a wonderful tale.

Jo Leigh
Harlequin Blaze
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373793057 $4.75

Seth Turner was Delta Force until he lost his left hand in combat against a CIA group, Omicron. Physically he heals, but mentally he has died. He blames his ability to breathe on Dr. Harper Douglas, who he hates for saving his life without his left hand that she was forced to remove. The doctor and her angry patient hide in a safe house while waiting for the right moment to expose the lethal nefarious plans of Omicron. Both are lonely and turn to one another though he still holds her culpable for keeping him alive. As they begin to fall in love, she worries how he will react when she disappears from his life, as permanent relationships are not for Harper although she knows leaving will break her heart. Readers will need an oxygen tank handy as RELEASE is fast-paced action thriller that never slows down for a nanosecond. Seth and Harper are a delightful pairing as each has strong reasons to avoid a romantic entanglement, but cannot prevent love from blossoming even with the threats to their lives from the deadly Omicron cell. Interestingly both assume the danger created the attraction, but will learn otherwise. Readers will find themselves In Too Deep to stop reading, as this is a terrific romantic suspense sequel (see RELENTLESS).

Jack & Jilted
Cathy Yardley
Harlequin Blaze
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373793049 $4.75

Though he made much more money being an architect, personal assistant Chloe Winton agreed to split costs from their house to their marriage with her fiance Gerald. He jilted her anyway insisting he found someone more compatible to his desires. Stunned and unable to face her family especially her mother and aunt, Chloe looks for an out. Captain Jack McCullough is struggling to make his honeymoon yacht profitable when his chef Kenneth quits because he eloped. Still he has no time to obtain a cook as the bride has arrived for her honeymoon; though no groom is with her. Attracted to his client from the first time he sees her, Jack is ecstatic to learn she was jilted. As they become acquainted over a week at sea, they fall in love, but both have doubts as she is still rebounding. Readers will feel for Chloe not so much because she was jilted though somewhat for that; more so because of the sympathy from family members who want to be nice to her. Jack also feels for the jilted bride, but part of what he sees is a courageous person moving on. Though a romantic relationship between them does not seem quite right as she still is rebounding and reeling, fans will enjoy this fine contemporary romance between two nice people.

Daddy Next Door
Judy Christenberry
Harlequin American
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373751494 $4.99

In North Dallas, Nick Barry moves into the apartment he sublet from his Aunt Grace, who moved to an assistant living facility when he is accosted by a three year old girl who insists he is her daddy. Nick meets Missy's "mommy" Jennifer Carpenter and the little girl's sisters. He and Jennifer clarify that he is not their daddy, but the three young girls cry. Though Nick knows he needs to flee the four females next door, he finds he cannot. He likes the little ones and is attracted to the big one. As Nick keeps coming around, Jennifer appreciates how much attention Nick provides the three girls she wants to adopt, but though half in love with him, she assumes a bachelor hunk like him does not need a family of four. Though Missy seems too precocious at times, readers will enjoy this fine family drama as the two adults fall in love, but both recognize that the kids must come first. The story line is driven by the three preadolescent matchmakers who follow the lead of that pint sized General Missy who anoints Nick as daddy; from there he did not stand a chance unless he made a full retreat out of the state even if he is a Texan. Judy Christenberry writes a warm tale of love between two adults and three children creating a family.

Her Military Man
Laura Marie Altom
Harlequin American
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373751516 $4.99

In Mule Shoe, Oklahoma Constance Price knows her radio show as Miss Manners is in trouble due to poor ratings. Her boss tells her turn it around or be fired. He also says that her best shows, meaning highest ratings, are when she is debating that military jock who calls her "Lucky"; her superior wants to pair Miss Manners with the Military Man for the noon audience. Constance knows that the military hunk is her former high school boyfriend Garret Underwood, a SEAL; he is the last person she wants to share a radio booth with, but it is that or no show. He happens to be home healing from a comminuted fracture of his proximal femur hating the woman who betrayed him by marrying his then best friend Nathan. She has to decide between radio life and keeping her ten years old daughter Lindsay hidden from the man who sired her unbeknownst to him. Even worse, her treacherous heart still wants Garret. HER MILITARY MAN is a fun second chance romance between two likable characters and an overly precocious sassy preadolescent. The story line is character driven as Constance knows she must tell the truth, but fears breaking her heart again. Contemporary readers will enjoy the changing relationship between Miss Manners and HER MILITARY MAN.

McKettrick's Luck
Linda Lael Miller
Harlequin HQN
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373771851 $7.99

She wanted to say no to her odious demanding boss Nigel Meerland, but he made it clear failure to do what he wants means firing. Cheyenne Bridges reluctantly returns to her hometown of Indian Rock, Arizona because her mother and her younger brother depend on her. Her assignment is to persuade, anyway she can, her high school boyfriend Jesse McKettrick to sell land so that Meerland can complete a condominium development deal. Though recognizing Cheyenne as quite a lure, Jesse refuses to sell the land that his nineteenth century ancestors developed (see MCKETTRICK'S CHOICE, THE MAN FROM STONE CREEK, and DEADLY GAMBLE). He also denies how much Cheyenne stirs his blood as he prefers real poker to strip poker. On the other hand Cheyenne considers seducing him to sell the desired land, but fears that the wild confirmed womanizing bachelor will call her bluff. Linda Lael Miller displays her talent for characterization as she takes her nineteenth century McKettrick tales and brings it to 2007 with the modern day descendents starting with MCKETTRICK'S LUCK. The story line is action-packed especially when developers forcibly push and fast-paced when the lead couple hide their cards. Fans of the previous western romantic miniseries and contemporary readers will enjoy the opening gamut of Ms. Miller's latest McKettrick Men (and their women) tales.

The Nymph King
Gena Showalter
Harlequin HQN
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373771886 $6.99

Shaye Holling thanks her mother for her successful Anti-cards business that centers on the concept of love, if it even exists, is evanescent ending before it can begin; forget that hokey ever after fairy tale junk. Shaye does not even blink though she is a bit stunned as mom invites her to attend wedding number six. The King of the Nymphs Valerian and his men attend the ceremony seeking women to take back to Atlantis to mate with his male horde. When his species fail to have sexual gratification, they turn feeble and pathetic; he knows first hand how that feels. Most of the women at the wedding including mom agree to go back to Atlantis with the nymphs, who have cast a web of romance on all the women except Shaye and one other female guest who refuse. Valerian will not accept Shaye's rejection, but before battling this human anti-romantic, he must fight against his best warriors for the right to pursue her as she is the key to winning an upcoming battle that if lost could destroy Atlantis. Readers will have to adapt to male warrior hunks as nymphs, but Gena Showalter makes them seem real as does Atlantis, dragons, and vampires, oh my. The story line is fast-paced and oceans deep as Valerian and Shaye battle over whether love exists. Romantic fantasy fans already know Ms. Showalter always provides a winner (see THE STONE PRINCE); her latest is no exception.

Carolyn Davidson
Harlequin HQN
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373771797 $6.99

In 1878 in Ottawa Falls, Colorado, Sheriff Aaron McBain finds himself in a hospital looking at a beautiful nurse Anna Whitfield. Anna panics that Aaron will know her real identity Susannah Carvel, the widow of a senator murdered in DC; she is the only suspect. When Aaron recovers enough to leave the hospital, Anna remains his nurse. He knows who she is having seen her face in the newspaper coverage of her spouse's homicide and on wanted posters. The lawman is convinced Anna is innocent and offers her a shocking deal. She marries him so he can keep the woman he cherishes safe as he believes the real culprit will come for her, buy her time away from the law and also investigate who killed Senator Carvel. HAVEN is an exciting late nineteenth century police procedural romantic suspense though Aaron's compulsive means of keeping Anna safe seems extreme until the audience realizes he would risk anything even his life for the woman he loves. Readers will wonder if the hero is thinking with the wrong head as evidence seems to insist she is a black widow. The story line is fast-paced as the duo balance keeping her away from the unknown adversary and other law enforcement officials while also falling in love.

Kiss of Death
Meryl Sawyer
Harlequin HQN
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373771754 $6.99

Wealthy Calvin Hunter flies his nephew Adam to his villa on the Greek Isle of Siros in a private plane because he needs to speak with him. Calvin, who has such limited ties with his San Diego family members that he did not even attend his half-brother's funeral, informs Adam that if he dies, he is to investigate the cause. Adam, a former cop turned private investigator, agrees though the request seems odd as his uncle explains nothing further. Two months later Adam learns his Uncle Calvin died so unable to accept coincidence; he begins inquiries into the death. Whitney Marshall takes over her missing cousin Miranda's dog caring duties which include living in a caretaker cottage on Calvin's estate in San Diego. When her new abode is bombed, Adam and she assume her cousin is the target and there is a tie to the late Calvin and his money, but nothing except the canines linking anyone. Adam vows to keep the woman he is falling in love with safe and learn who killed his uncle as he believes a murder occurred and that same person is responsible for the caretaker cottage bombing. KISS OF DEATH is an exciting action-packed romantic private investigative thriller starring two likable believable protagonists who with every step together fall deep in love and even deeper in danger from an unidentified adversary for unknown reasons except the unclear nebulous connection to Calvin. The story line grips the audience from the opening line of "Adam Hunter, You're dead" and never slows down through several intriguing twists including canine capers until the final confrontation. Meryl Sawyer further cements her growing reputation as one of top guns of romantic suspense (see HALF PAST DEAD).

Susan Mallory
Harlequin HQN
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373771762 $6.99

Former Major League baseball star Reid Buchanan was always a favorite of the media until recently. He had a one night stand with a reporter who wrote a nasty piece on him. Deciding to lay low until someone else is treated with scorn and knowing his injured grandmother Gloria could use help since she broke a hip, he hides in her place. Gloria is a curmudgeon whose family cannot stand spending time with her as all she does is rip skin. Her nurse Lori Johnston feels the elderly woman would heal better if her children and grandchildren visited her as she sees beyond the acerbic tongue to the lonely person. Lori has mixed feelings on womanizing Reid moving in with her patient as he could be good for her or cause terrible harm with his seemingly uncaring ways. As the nurse and the ex-jock squabble, fuss, and fight they fall in love, but she does not trust men especially philandering "little boys" and he struggles to accept his career is over and it is time to move on. Like his two brothers before him, Reid is SIZZLING, DELICIOUS and IRRESISTIBLE except to Lori who sees his faults in spite of being in love with him. Gloria is a fascinating counterpoint to the often amusing battling lead couple as her feelings of mortality and dying alone lead to a Pygmalion Effect as none of her grandsons or other relatives wants to be near her caustic tongue and ergo in a classic cause and effect scenario she is alone. The story line is relationship driven predominantly by Reid and Lori who provide a terrific romance in the latest Buchanan saga gender war.

Blame It On Cupid
Jennifer Greene
Harlequin HQN
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373771770 $6.99

Merry Olsen is the last person anyone would assume be assigned a guardian to a preadolescent girl as everyone who knows the forever optimist affectionately call her "Ditzy". Yet her friend the late Charlie Ross did just that. Merry drives from her home in Minnesota to Oakley, Virginia to take charge of eleven years old Charlene, whom she never met before though she has no legal obligation to do so. The seemingly coldhearted lawyer Lee Oxford assumes Merry is in it for the large trust fund that he has insured is iron tight and used for Charlene. The bureaucratic state appointed ad litem caseworker June Inness thinks Merry is too ditzy for the child. The single dad next door Jack Mackinnon and his teenage twin sons think the Minnesotan needs to go home as she suffers from "suburbia allergy". However though she falls in love with Jack, the worse condemnation comes from Charlie who expects the outsider to leave just like her mother did; except mommy dearest is back claiming love of her offspring with a court date to make her case. Readers will enjoy this family drama starring a modern day DC area Mary Poppins as she bring merry cheer and love to one and all. Jack knows she has his heart beating and his sons think the northerner is the greatest. Whereas young Charlie has doubts about the enthusiasm and nurturing, she too is infected by the eternal cheerleading optimist. Though the youngsters at times sound too adult, fans will enjoy this upbeat contemporary tale.

The Christmas Strike
Nikki Rivers
Harlequin Next
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373881215 $5.50

In Willow Creek, Wisconsin, a widow for two decades, fiftyish Abby Blake loves her two daughters, her son-in-laws, and her grandchildren. However, she finds herself with an invasion and not one of the intruders is a partridge in a pear tree. Daughter Natalie came home with spouse Jeremy and three preadolescent children four months ago because he became unemployed; the older daughter Gwen came home with twelve shopping day before Christmas because of a spat with her husband David. Empty nest and the three day rule of grand parenting are being nuked by her offspring. Unable to take anymore from the menagerie, Abby agrees to escape with David's father Cole Hudson, whom she met once at their offspring's wedding; he is flying on his personal jet to Chicago. Cole, whose son married one of Abby's daughters, sees this as the chance he has been waiting for years to occur: to prove to her that life can be fun even for a middle age couple like them. Instead of the Windy City he hijacks her to Paris. THE CHRISTMAS STRIKE is a delightful holiday tale starring a beleaguered granny who finally says enough and runs away from her home. The story line is fast-paced in a You Can't Take It With You kind of way as Abby's calm life is devastated by the return of her formed nesters and turned further upside down when she flees the scene with her in-law. Nikki Rivers provides a fine contemporary with a strong support cast and a heroine fans will admire.

Wedding Bell Blues
Charlotte Douglas
Harlequin Next
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373881193 $5.50

In Pelican Bay, Florida fortyish former cop turned private investigator Maggie Skerritt and her business partner (and first police partner on the Tampa force) Bill Malcolm are planning to get married in a quiet affair. However, Maggie's selectively deaf socialite mom, Mrs. Philip Skerritt has other plans for the nuptials that she wants to be Florida's wedding of the year. Soon the guest list reaches 800 and counting. Her mother's antics is driving Maggie crazy so when two cases surface she and Bill jump on them though both coincidentally relate to marriage. Wedding planner Wanda Weiland and mother of the bride Jeannette Langston hire Maggie to locate the missing bride Alicia, but only to insure she is okay not to force her back for her wedding in case she is a runaway bride. The other case makes the Capulets and Montagues, and the Hatfields and McCoys seem like kindergarten spats as the Florida equivalent, the Bakers and the Burns are having dinner together at Sophia's to celebrate the wedding between Linda Burns and Kevin Baker; Maggie and Bill are hired to provide security, which means refereeing a battle royale. The latest Pelican Bay private investigative tale is a delightful blending of mom devastating the heroine's personal plans for a small intimate wedding with a fascinating investigation into what seems like a skittish bride running away and an over the top amusing extended family feud marital celebration. The three subplots merge nicely into a delightful contemporary.

Change of Life
Leigh Riker
Harlequin Next
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373881223 $5.50

In Florida interior designer Nora Pride is stunned to learn that she will become a grandma soon as she feels too young to have a child with a child; she is not even fifty yet. Her business has been in the decline because of the mess left by hurricanes as most people are concerned with cleanup not modification. Finally her long time rival Starr Mulligan is stealing her clients with no regard to ethics. Her reputation falls apart next when she becomes the prime suspect in the theft of a valuable vase from a home she designed. More of her clients who somehow know she is a person of interest are dropping her for Starr. On the positive side, Police Detective Calvin Caine seems interested in her and not just to arrest her though handcuffs with the gruff cop might be fun. First comes proving her innocence, which finds her in Calvin's circle more and more. This is an interesting police procedural romance starring a fascinating middle age protagonist struggling with the aftermath of hurricanes hurting her business. The story line is interesting when Nora, proud of what she has accomplished, concentrates on saving her business; the investigation is also fun to follow with its sidebar romance as is becoming a granny, but those subplots take time away from the saving the business and contain too many key characters. Still CHANGE OF LIFE is an appealing glimpse at a fiftyish female entrepreneur.

The Man Who Melted
Jack Dann
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
1591024870 $15.00 1-800-421-0351

Artist Raymond Mantle is in France searching for his vanished wife Josiane, who disappeared during the first wave of the psychic Great Scream. Raymond does not miss his spouse as he has a lover, Joan, but hopes by finding her he can take back the crater sized gaps in his memory tied to her existence with him, apparently stolen from him by her during the Great Scream. All he has is videos of them together left behind when she became a Screamer channeling visions that turn into deadly realities as the world no longer has physical meaning or spiritual connection. Raymond follows a clue that takes him to the Crying Church where he plans to hook into the mind of a dying Screamer to determine whether Josiane has stepped to the other side. As he does that with Joan looking more and more like his 3d videos of Josiane, Raymond begins to see the "dark spaces" of the minds of those dead and becoming telepathically connected to Joan and a friend Pfeiffer as reality twists in the winds of his mind while which sanity is blown away. This is a reprint of a dark science fiction thriller starring an unlikable hero who garners audience empathy due to his plight anyway. The story line grips readers who wonder what Raymond is finding out about truth, ultimate reality and the essence of being in a world where hooking in can mean losing one's mind. Fans who appreciate a cerebral thought provoking tale will want to read this character driven surreal novel that challenges basic acceptable concepts starting with I think therefore am I and going deeper into what makes a person.

Final Impact
John Birmingham
Del Rey
c/o Ballantine Books
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0345457161 $14.95 1-800-726-0600

The impact of the 2021 antiterrorist fighters with their futuristic weapons like the British destroyer Trident has changed the course of WWII. Besides the superior armament from the future, the displaced time travelers know the outcome of the hostilities and much more including state secrets. The Germans are awed but they and their Japanese allies hope to turn the tide with the development of an atom bomb and bio-chemical dirty explosives. AS D-Day approaches, the Russians are moving steadily west. The Communists reject the inevitability of capitalism defeating the Soviets in just over four decades. The western leaders including the newcomers from the future fear that the Russians hijacked the missing vessel Vanguard, Trident's 2021 peer. Hitler and Yamamoto are bunkering down in anticipation of the destructions of their homelands. The final Axis of Time trilogy alternate history is an interesting ending that lays the ground work for a future clash between the Soviets and the West. The story line ties up WWII nicely (see DESIGNATED TARGETS and WEAPONS OF CHOICE), but contains many less cultural clashes between the two competing centuries of players, the prime underlying concept to the thrillers. Still this is a terrific look at the white male dominated Greatest Generation and the multiethnic bi-gender twenty-first century "intruders".

A March Into Darkness
Robert Newcomb
Del Rey
c/o Ballantine Books
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
034547709X $26.95 1-800-726-0600

When the Azur Pass was created during Prince Tristan's war with Wulfgar a battle of the Vectors (good magic) and Valories (bad magic), nobody knew what was behind the glow. Guards were posted there but when a horseman came out of an opening that suddenly appeared; he killed all the guards with ease. He then went on to torture, mutilate, and kill men women and children in a nearby village. The man/spirit Xanthus orders the villagers to go to Tristan and tell him what happened. Xanihus goes to Tristan's homes and orders the Prince to go with him to the portal in the Azur Pass to meet with the Heretics, people who practice the Valories there. He refuses but is blackmailed into following him in order to save his people. As he follows Xanthus, he sees Xanthus torture and kill in order to break his will. Tristan finally gives in when he is forced to partake into the torturee. He meets the Heretics and learns that all is not what he thought and is sent back to his realm to stop the Valories, in the form of Queen Serena, Wulfgar's widow, who is a minion of the Heretics, from forcing the Valories on the entire world. Book Two in the Destinies of Blood and Stone is epic fantasy in the grand tradition of Terry Brooks and Tad Williams. Tristan is a decent man who has to make life and death decisions that most people could never do. There are plenty of action scenes and a support cast that adds valor and depth do this high fantasy tale. Robert Newcomb leaves readers eager for the next installment in his entertaining saga.

Star Wars: Allegiance
Timothy Zahn
Del Rey
c/o Ballantine Books
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0345477383 $25.95 1-800-726-0600

The five imperial storm troopers are tired of the endless war in which the innocent die, but no one at least on their side seems to care. Their leader Daric LaRone believes the enemy Rebel Alliance is no different though they cloak their efforts as freedom fighters. Still when a superior officer orders Daric and his four followers to commit an atrocity, they kill their leader instead forcing them to go AWOL where they meet rebel leaders Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca. Meanwhile Emperor Palpatine decides he needs a new apprentice as his previous one Darth Vader may need some competition to keep him sharp after a recent unacceptable failure. He chooses amoral teenage beauty Countess Mara Jade Claria to become his "Emperor's Hand", angering the Sith though Vader takes out his rage on others and not his mentor or the new rival. Allegiance takes place between the events of A New Hope (the original 1977 movie) and the Empire Strikes Back as Timothy Zahn seamlessly fills the gap by humanizing the storm troopers. The story line is action-packed but character driven by Daric and his men, and the renowned heroic four; but especially fascinating is the triangle between Vader, Mara Jade and Palpatine. Star War fans will enjoy this well written interlude.

A Hire Love
Candice Dow
Kensington Dafina
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758219385 $14.00 1-800-345-2665

Alabama native Fatima "Fatty" Mayo was a country bumpkin when she came to New York to attend school at NYU and obtained an internship at Vibe where she met Derrick and fell in love with him; he reciprocated. They married and she became a romance editor. All seemed perfect in her world until Derrick suddenly suffered a heart attack and died. Three years later, she still mourns her loss, but decides being young she needs to start dating. Her best friend casting director Mya, known as C2 (country girl 2 as opposed to Fatty being C1), reminds her she never dated as Derrick just saw her cute butt and the rest is history. After Fatty flunks dating service 101, Mya facetiously recommends that Fatima write a script focusing on what she wants in a hunk and hire an actor to play the role. Fatima loves the concept and writes her script while Mya sends five actors to try out for the role of leading man with Ms. Barnes the name Fatima is calling herself for this endeavor, choosing the perfect player. One of the five actors, Rashad Watkins, recognizes the widow of the late CEO of Droppin' Dimes magazine and needs the money, but quickly feels the role as he falls in love with the "director", who assumes her companion's passion, is Oscar worthy. Though the initial concept of writing a script seems to farcical, readers will enjoy this amusing second chance at love due to the reactions of the lead couple especially the actor. Rashad knows he is in love, but feels he must somehow climb an emotional Mt. Everest to overcome his profession, her paying him to play the role, and the ghost of her larger than life late husband. His efforts and Fatima's reactions to them with the assistance of C2 make for a fun urban romance.

Out "A" Order
Evie Rhodes
Kensington Dafina
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758216661 $14.00 1-800-345-2665

He spent some time in prison, but now as freed as an ex-convict is allowed by American de jure and de facto rules, Shannon Davenport has vowed to be a great father and make a better life for his eight years old daughter Jasmine. However, unable to move them out of dangerous Newark's Central Ward, Shannon's second chance at life dies when an unknown sniper shoots and kills his daughter. Her last word "Daddy" will haunt him forever as Shannon vows to find and murder the assassin. At Jazz's funeral a local gang chief has the hit man Spence Parkinson killed and tossed into the same grave site as the little girl as apparently the Davenport child was collateral damage in a turf war. Immediately afterward at their home, Shannon and Jazz's mother Tawney argue when bullets are fired through windows at them. All hell has broken loose in Central Ward with the police and law abiding citizens hoping to survive while Shannon continues his vigilance as he begins to believe that the devil's spawn is behind the dead zone where everyone seems OUT "A" ORDER. The deep look at Newark's Central Ward is gripping especially following the murder-funeral of a precocious preadolescent. When the story line takes a sharp left into evil spirits it seems a bit OUT "A" ORDER though entertaining. This is a fascinating tale especially the tour of Newark; but the two prime plots (vigilante justice and supernatural evil essences) seem to CRISS CROSS on separate roads with either able to hold the plot together, but neither fully does though Shannon's quest comes closest. Evie Rhodes is a talented author whose book would have been better served as two novellas using the same starting incident.

Succubus Blues
Richelle Mead
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758216416 $15.00 1-800-345-2665

Georgina Kincaid has seen the profiling statistics that mortals sell their souls for one of prime reasons: sex, money, power, revenge and love. Being a succubus whose expertise is to pleasure men, she understands the part about selling sex. However, Georgina wonders how low a shape-shifting demon can go as she has no social life though she works the Seattle circuit. The problem is finding a date in which she does not steal a soul or at least a piece of a person's life. After an admonishment from her superior Jerome the lazy demon over a cat fight with a vampire and the afterglow of a session with Martin, she just wants to lie in bed. Thus when her peer at the Emerald City Books & Cafe demands she comes in to help as everyone else is sick, she reluctantly agrees though it is her day off from her day job as an assistant manager. The good part of coming in today besides the norm of reading books for free and drinking white chocolate mochas also gratis is that her favorite author Seth Mortensen is doing a signing. However her fantasy lover will have to wait because someone is killing the local demons starting with Duane and Georgina is the prime suspect. Modernizing the tale of Thetis and Pelus from Greek mythology, but placing it in a combo chick make that succubus (not sure if a demon can be classified a chick) lit amateur sleuth fantasy realm, Richelle Mead provides a fabulous one sitting story. Georgina is a terrific lead character, who investigates the serial killings of demons and other supernatural creatures while falling in love with the mortal writer. Readers will enjoy this sexy soul-sucking siren seeking out the Seattle slayer before she is convicted by a jury of her peers just because of her sarcastic sharp yet so sensual tongue.

Key Lime Pie Murder
Joanne Fluke
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758210183 $22.00 1-800-345-2665

In lake Eden, Minnesota, Hannah Swensen owns the successful Cookie Jar, but this week she is spending more time out of her store except for baking her specialties. Residents and visitors are attending the Tri-County Fair with the Great Northwestern Rodeo and Carnival as part of the festivities so Hannah is keeping her customer the Chamber of Commerce supplied with cookies, judging a baking contest, and serving as a magician's assistant. Hannah also worries about her cat Moise who has gone off his feed spending most of his time looking out the window. One night while she works the fair, she learns that the carnival box office was robbed. Later that night she finds the murdered body of her fellow baking judge Willa Sundquist and notices the vague outline of the man she assumes is the killer. Unable to resist especially since she liked the victim, Hannah investigates, which turns into a family affair when her sisters and her business partner join her. Do not read this novel on an empty stomach as the sixteen dessert recipes will cause a sweet craving. Joanne Fluke has baked a delicious amateur sleuth with an eccentric support cast that keeps the tale light and fluffy but tasty and fun. There are plenty of suspects, and Hannah finds it rough going but she and her cohorts persevere because she wants to insure that the killer gets his or her just desserts.

The Queen Gene
Jennifer Coburn
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758209843 $12.95 1-800-345-2665

Everyone loves Anjoli from the moment they meet her as she is bigger than life taking over any space she and people nearby occupy. Growing up her daughter Lucy was the envy of her friends having the hip Anjoli as a mother, but even as a kid though she loves her mom, she knew from first hand experience don't live with Anjoli as she sucks out the oxygen in a room, change that on all of Manhattan Island. Even the woman's living will has a key entry involving eyelash care. Meanwhile Lucy and her spouse Jack open up an artists' colony in the Berkshires while raising their two years old son; distance and motherhood have improved Lucy's relationship with Anjoli though mom calls a zillion times a day with one crisis after another, mostly involving her adopted orphan, Paz the teacup Chihuahua, who needs a shrink after visiting every new age healer in the metropolis and a few neo new age practitioners. Still Lucy has problems with her terrible two toddler and ghosts causing injuries to her colonists. She needs the Ghostbusters to exorcize the "demon" that possesses her used to be cute infant. With Anjoli arriving at the retreat, impish ghosts, temperamental artists, a temper-tantrum baby, a kooky cousin, the stoic puppy and a stunned in the headlights spouse seem harmonious. THE QUEEN GENE is a chick lit sequel that lightly satirizes the previous story (see TALES FROM THE CRIB). Though Lucy is the hub holding the spokes of the novel together, Anjoli steals the show with her offbeat neurotic behavior that will have readers wondering just who the mom is in this mother-daughter relationship. By making Anjoli the drama queen the star instead of her offspring, who confronts issues, Jennifer Coburn provides a more humorous spin to the saga of we love Lucy.

Remains to Be Scene
R.T. Jordan
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758212801 $22.00 1-800-345-2665

Polly Pepper is a Hollywood legend, a superstar at the level of Elizabeth Taylor and Lucille Ball. She had her own Television Show in the way of the Carol Burnett show and won many Emmys and Oscars. Now that she is older, the jobs have dried up. She lives in a luxurious famous Hollywood estate Pepper Plantation with her maid Placenta who is just like family and her son Tim, an events planner so she is never lonely. On the set of the flick Detention Rules, character actress Trixie Wilder is murdered even though the police think it was an accident. Polly's agent calls her to see if she wants Trixie's role but when she arrives at his office she learns that her arch-enemy Sedra Stone, who stole two husbands from her, got the part; Polly is furious. When Sandra is murdered Polly takes on the role and decides to conduct a little sleuthing only to learn everyone hated the victim from the security guard she dissed to the actress she picked on to the director who hared her for making his job a living hell. R.T. Jordan has written a very funny amateur sleuth tale with characters that are witty and nice that readers can't help but like them. Even though the heroine was a major star, she never let success go to her head as she still knows how relax and have fun. Getting the part validates her image that she can still perform while readers empathize with former superstars who are discarded as they age.

Made for Sin
Celia May Hart
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758214650 $12.95 1-800-345-2665

In Lord Alex Radbourne's carriage, Lucy Waverton is enjoying being on top until he calls her Danielle; she jumps out of his moving coach. He looks for her, but Lucy hides in the bushes as she feels humiliated. Sergeant Michael Hall finds her and takes her to his camp where he assumes she is a high priced courtesan because she has sex with him. The next morning she informs him that she lost a lot of money gambling and met this aristocrat to arrange payment; he was drunk, abducted and raped her. She is shocked when Michael insists they had sex as she swears she could not have. Alex keeps looking for Lucy as he feels ashamed and he plans to marry her to make amends for his behavior.. When he finally finds her, he grabs her only to learn he accosted Lucy's older sister Caroline, who he informs he is honor bound to wed her sibling. Caroline and Alex agree to search for Lucy together. He explains that he wanted to teach Lucy a lesson about gambling over one's head and got drunk, which led to a series of errors by him. However, making love with Caroline feels right though he knows he must wed Lucy who is falling in love with her soldier. This is a terrific Regency romance that effortlessly merges erotica into its two subplots; starring a sister in each with the hunk they love. The siblings and their men are fully developed while the support cast, mostly two spouses of soldiers, enhances the tale by better understanding the life of a fighting man. Though profanity seems overused in the sex scenes and underused when the lead players are in danger, sub-genre readers will appreciate this hot historical.

The Next Victim
Jonnie Jacobs
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758208014 $19.95 1-800-345-2665

In San Francisco former District Attorney Kali O'Brien is horrified when she is informed that her brother John committed suicide after killing his ex-girlfriend Sloane Winslow and her housekeeper Olivia Perez. Though they rarely talked, Kali mourns her brother's death and has problems believing John would kill two people. In Tucson, Arizona Kali joins their other sibling Sabrina to bury their brother and to settle his estate. However, the two sisters are stunned to learn the estate is tied up in probate while a wrongful death civil suit has been wrought against John. Kali and Sabrina seem even more stunned to learn their late sibling has been linked to the murder of a stripper and the disappearance of a teen runaway. Kali needs the truth so she begins an investigation into the activities of her deceased sibling though she fears what dark capers he did. In her seventh refreshing tale, readers learn more about Kali's family through her investigation into her dead brother. The anticipation comes from wondering if John will be exonerated or guilty by his sister. Kali and Sabrina face a daunting task with the accusations that shred their family. Jonnie Jacobs provides a great character driven drama that shows why the O'Brien mysteries are some of the best toady.

Doing It Right
MaryJanice Davidson
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758212062 $14.00 1-800-345-2665

"Thief of Hearts". In a Minnesota emergency room Dr. Jared Dean is stunned when he sees urban legend the Avenging Angel for the first time though he is not sure whether amazes him more her petit beauty or the fact that she kicks the butt of a gorilla the Coreleone-wannabe Carlotti. Jared wants to meet her, but when she realizes security is coming she leaves without even leaving her name. He soon finds Kara protecting him from gangsters, as Carlotti uses him as a pawn to get at her. The DA also uses him to get at her as no one will make this politician look bad. As the doctor and the vigilante fall in love, she struggles to trust her heart with anyone even this caring doctor. "Wild Hearts". At the Florida parking lot of Minnesota's Mall of America, Kat Wechter catches Chester "Chess" McNamara inside her car obviously trying to steal it; but she refuses to let him get away with taking her vehicle by jumping on the hood. Exasperated he takes the lunatic, who keeps claiming her brother is the DA taking down mobsters, with him. He finally gives up and leaves her car to steal another, but she joins him anyway. As he challenges a mobster with Kat and the renowned urban legend turned mom A.A. at his side, Chess' heart shifts gears as he watches his grape bubblegum chewer and A.A. protect him. The fun novel and a follow up short story sequel star strong women protecting their men from mobsters as MaryJanice Davidson is DOING IT RIGHT with this pairing.

Blood Red
Sharon Page
Kensington Aphrodisia
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758215436 $12.95 1-800-345-2665

In 1818 England it is like father like daughter as Althea Yates is a chip off the old block working side by side with her dad as skilled vampire hunters. However, lately she has become concerned with her dedication, not that she would let her sire down. It is the dreams of making love with two male hunks who she knows is taboo as the duo that come to seduce her are her enemy vampires that has her concerned as how can a virgin fantasize such carnal delights as she conjures up while sleeping. Adding to her trepidation is that her father Sir Edmund has recently seemed physically weak and mentally confused. To her shock one of the stars of her porn dreams Yannick de Wynter arrives to talk to her father. Althea knows he is a vampire, but also feels a great desire to make their nocturnal ecstasy real. He, like the Yates duo, want to destroy the evil Zayan, but to do so the vampire must save the male hunter's life and bring his demon twin Bastian, her other dream lover, back from the grave. BLOOD RED is a torrid erotic Regency romantic page turner starring a wonderfully confused heroine who is competent and courageous with a crossbow or a stake, but unsure of herself (at first that is outside of her dreams) in the boudoir. This is not your parent's Regency as Althea has two lovers. However fans who appreciate it when the heat is on in their historicals will want to read the Blood saga as vampires, vampire hunters, and the Ton intermingle in erotic biting thrillers.

Satisfy Me
Renee Alexis, Sydney Molare, & Fiona Zedde
Kensington Aphrodisia
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758215657 $13.95 1-800-345-2665

"Still The One" by Renee Alexis. Over two decades have passed since Ethan has seen pharmacist Beverly, his older sister's best friend at one time. However, he has come looking for the woman who has haunted his soul (and a hidden body part) for twenty years as all women he has met do not compare to fulfilling his fantasy, which she is ready to do as he is a hunk of a brother. "Her Wildest Fantasy" by Sydney Molare. The Video sex club allows its membership to do just about anything and everything imaginable and some not so is offered. Sonata is a first time guest so is stunned not so much by the erotic hedonism, but that two hanging hunks want her. She decides two for the price of one is her wettest dream. "Pure Pleasure" by Fiona Zedde. A workaholic professor Julian never does anything for pleasure except when he sleeps; as wet dreams are his nocturnal fun time. When he meets Tamarind, the mother of a student, he no longer has to fantasize his deepest desires as reality is so much better than virtual reality. These are three delightful erotic tales in which anything goes. Not for everyone, sub-genre fans will feel the heat throughout. Especially unique is Sydney Molare's first person account of a woman doing two men at the same time.

Noelle Mack
Kensington Aphrodisia
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758215681 $12.95 1-800-345-2665

Hot Treats is known for its succulent desserts especially the moist pies like cherry and strawberry. No one can resist the apple pies that are sinfully luscious. Advertising executive Bliss Johnson wants the Hot Treats account and will do almost anything to land it as she has a strategic plan that will make everyone wanting to take a bite of these delights. First she must sell her ideas to the soon to be company's CEO Jasper "Jaz" Claybourn that she is the ad exec to sell his firm. Sharing ideas with this hunk will make quite a blissful summer for the ambitious female; especially if that includes testing the product in his bed. At his island getaway off Manhattan, they work together on the campaign while sharing the desserts of their success. However, just as she thinks she has found heavenly bliss when he is promoted, her boss' warning about mixing business with pleasure explodes leaving her to wonder why she could get the cake, but not eat it too unless he can persuade her that the delightful desserts are them together. This is a delicious erotic romance starring two believable likable protagonists ably supported by a sold secondary cast, which includes a heated May-December romance. The story line is filled with humor and sex as Bliss and Jaz cannot get enough HOT TREATS, the type that reduces calories. Subgenre fans will enjoy the torrid exploits of the ad exec and the CEO as they bake a delightful tasty relationship built on a recipe of love.

Scandalous Lovers
Robin Schone
Kensington Brava
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
1575666995 $15.00 1-800-345-2665

In the 1880s, country bumpkin Frances Hart, before she turns fifty, decides to travel to London to explore the city as a widow with few restraints except those she places on herself. She recognizes that having wedded as a young teen and been married for over three decades that just her restricted roles as a mother and wife for over two thirds of her life will be hard to overcome, but she is determined to do so especially the sensual sexy side of the city. With the accidental death of his wife of twenty-four years, the mother of his two children, London barrister James Whitcox concludes he never really knew her. He feels sad and a bit depressed but not out of grief for her death, but because he never took the time to truly be with her beyond his duty as a spouse and father. He joins the Men and Women's Club, a group that openly discusses sexual intercourse. When Frances Hart accidentally enters a club meeting, James feels that he found someone to put into practice the sexual relation discussions even if she is an older woman that turns them into SCANDALOUS LOVERS. Though a historical erotic romance as hot as a novel gets, the deep look into Victorian society makes for a complete delightful tale. The two souls feel they failed at inter-gender relationships their first time around, which adds fathoms of depth to the lead protagonists; having a second chance with experience, each vows to flaunt the restrictiveness of proper society and go after passion and perhaps love. After reading this heated insightful story fans will agree that this is an author who shone quite a powerful light on 1880s English society.

The Art Of Seduction
Katherine O'Neal
Kensington Brava
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758210612 $14.00 1-800-345-2665

For the most part the art world ignored the work of American artist Mason Caldwell; that is when they were not trashing her efforts as garbage. Upset and angry Mason vows to prove the hypocrisy of her harsh critics by committing suicide. In death she becomes in as suddenly her sister Amy unveils her paintings, these same fools who disregarded her as a nothing are now claiming she was a rare talent. As Amy reaps the benefit of her late sibling's masterpieces, art expert Richard Garrett feels something is off kilter with the grieving relative who does not act like she mourns a loss as she enters the most closed galleries in the world. Richard also has issues with Amy's seemingly endless supply of the late Mason's works. He plans to learn the truth behind the meteoric rise of the dead artist and this suddenly surfaced sibling, but he finds himself in a chess game with a master while his heart betrays him. Mindful of the Dick van Dyke-James Garner 1960s movie The Art of Love, THE ART OF SEDUCTION is a delightful erotic charmer starring two antagonists falling in love. The story line is a fast-paced cat and mouse game mostly overlooking the Seine as Richard tries to prove that Mason's death is a sham while Amy attempts to thwart his advances. Readers will enjoy their gender war, but to know who is right requires reading about the garret in the artist not the artist in the garret.

I'll Be Seeing U
Dianne Castell
Kensington Brava
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758210078 1-800-345-2665

His adopted family needs him so Quaid O'Fallon leaves Alaska after quitting his Coast Guard Search and Rescue job to come home to Fallon's Landing; he feels strongly about family ever since Rory adopted him as one of his own. Apparently Rory has problems with a missing mother and a baby Bonnie. Cynthia James left a failed fashion design business and an even bigger failure of a marriage behind in New York to come home to Fallon's Landing with her eight years old son in tow. She hopes to regroup and start anew with no man except her offspring in her life. However, her first encounter back home is with Quaid, whom she yearned for as a teen. He has the same thoughts she has, anyone but her as he yearned for her as a teen and still wants her though he is Mississippi and she is Manhattan. While this couple falls in love, the search to find and protect Bonnie's mother from cold-blooded killers continues though increasingly it seems too late. This is a terrific finish to the O'Fallens' "U" trilogy (see 'TIL THERE WAS and THE WAY U LOOK TONIGHT) as the story line focuses on the third son finding love while the subplot that has run through each tale of Bonnie's mom reaches the climax. Readers will appreciate the O'Fallen four doubling and more as Dianne Cantrell provides a terrific loser to a fine saga.

His Boots Under Her Bed
Ana Leigh
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
0743469976 $6.99 1-800-223-2336

In 1867, Garth Fraser, having survived the Civil War and women, arrives in Buckman, California seeking his uncle Henry's lost gold mine. He stops at the Grotto saloon for a drink, but ends up with a hangover and a dance hall girl Rory O'Grady when she rescues him from being shanghaied. Rory insists he owes her even as he wonders why he cannot remember making love to the beautiful female; the prime reason being he did not. Rory's traveling companion her dad Paddy steals the gold mine map from Garth. He and Rory team up and soon catch up to her father in the town of Hope where they learn no one was been to the mine in years because it is haunted. . As Rory and Garth investigate the mine, they fall in love, but she knows a respectable man like him will leave a disreputable female like her. However before he can prove she is the one, he knows he must keep her safe from dangerous marauding bandits and an unknown enemy who wants them gone dead or alive. The third Fraser brother western romance (see THE LAWMAN SAID I DO and THE FRASERS: CLAY) is an entertaining action-packed Americana tale that takes off from the moment the tall stranger enters the Grotto and never slows down as Garth gets involved with O'Grady and father in a series of escapades. HIS BOOTS UNDER HER BED is a fine entry in a delightful mini series.

The Stranger in Her Bed
Janet Chapman
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
1416505288 $6.99 1-800-223-2336

In Maine when his logging family bought the Loon Cove Lumber sawmill, Ethan Knight did not want to take over the operation, but he is given no choice by his father or his two brothers. To get a better handle on the daily operation before they take charge, Ethan obtains work there. On his first day on the job he causes an accident that hurts foreman Abby Segee, damages expensive equipment, and leads to his being fired. Not long afterward, Ethan returns to take charge of running the sawmill while also moving into a cabin he rents from Abby. He has problems with a female in charge in a male dominated realm, but adapts as his father warns him and he sees how loyal the crew is to her. Ethan also fails to recognize Abby as he assumes she is part of the powerful Canadian lumber family Segee, but she does recognize him as she loved him when she lived as a youngster with her maternal grandfather until her Canadian birth father took her from him. As they fall in love, someone wants her dead as accidents including icing a road she takes between her home and her work occur; the same stretch that killed her grandfather. The second Knight in shining armor contemporary romance (see THE SEDUCTION OF HIS WIFE) is an exciting tale starring two likable protagonists and a strong support cast, mostly her crew and his family. The story line is at its best when the lead duo duels over the workplace and their relationship. The suspense elements seem forced, but no one will care as love blossoms in the Maine sawmill between the owner and the role model gender bending foreman.

Choke Point
Jay MacLarty
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
141650348X $7.99 1-800-223-2336

On Macau, mega-billionaire and powerful businessman Big Jake Rynerson is building a casino and hotel, the Pacific Pearl that will rival all the other casinos on the island. Behind the scenes, Jake is also working as the conduit for a trade agreement between China, Taiwan, and the United States. The Pacific Rim Alliance is contingent on the two pieces of the Crest of Ch'in, a historical artifact being returned to China which Taiwan and the United States agree to do. Jake calls special courier Simon Leonidovich to deliverer one of the pieces to him. When Simon arrives he learns that the casino has been the victim of sabotage, delaying the completion date and if that happens, the trade agreement doesn't happen. There are governments, other groups and business men that don't want the alliance to happen and one of those groups hire a mercenary band to make sure a piece of the Crest of Ch'in is not delivered. Simon and the beautiful daughter of Jake work together to see that everything goes as planned even when they are stranded on a deserted island with an unexpected traitor. Somehow they must stay one step ahead of the enemy if they are to make it off the island alive. There is plenty of action, excitement and suspense in CHOKE POINT, a thriller that not only grabs reader interest but propels the audience into turning the pages to see how Simon gets out of his predicaments. The touch of romance between Simon and Kyra adds a believable feel to the thrilling storyline. Jay MacLarty has a great future ahead of him as a thriller writer.

Dead I May Well Be
Adrian McKinty
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
0743470567 $6.99 1-800-223-2336

In Belfast, Michael Forsythe is unemployed, has no prospects (or ambition), and is no longer a state recipient of a stipend. In 1992 with little to keep him in Ireland, he decides to go to New York where he anticipates opportunities will abound for a young healthy teenage Irishman, but first he must pay back his airfare debt which includes expediting an illegal entry. Thus Michael quickly obtains employment in construction in Harlem as an enforcer for Irish mobster Darkey White who is at war with encroaching Latino gangs. Michael soon proves adept at killing the enemy especially construction competitors and the Dominican gangs. However, loyal to Darkey when it comes to eradication, Michael cannot resist the lure of his boss' girlfriend Bridget in spite of his brain telling him he is dead if he gets caught. He is not stunned when a drug deal in Mexico proves a setup that leaves him forgotten in a Mexican jail. He vows to join Darkey's enemies when he returns to the mean streets of Manhattan. Having read and enjoyed THE DEAD YARD several months ago, this reviewer wanted to obtain the first Forsythe tale, DEAD I MAY WELL BE. It is worth the effort as the fast-paced thriller focuses on the dichotomous antihero's thirst for vengeance. Forsythe in this novel in some ways will remind the audience of Alex star, of Burgess' A Clockwork Orange though Michael's violence is not random; in THE DEAD YARD he seems more like Bourne. Crime thriller fans will appreciate this fine tale and its sequel, but recommend reading this one first as fans will have a better understanding of what makes Forsythe tick during THE DEAD YARD escapades.

Little Lady, Big Apple
Hester Browne
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
1416514937 $23.00 1-800-223-2336

In London using the false persona of Honey Blennerhesket, Melissa Romney-Jones runs The Little Lady Agency that assists helpless bachelors with every possible service a girlfriend could provide except for sex. Though her male clients salivate over Honey, her boyfriend American realtor Jonathan Riley loves Melissa. He returns to New York, but misses his beloved so he invites Melissa to spend a month with him in the Big Apple. However, though she misses her cherished American, business is booming, her family is as always in crisis, and the blonde wig seems so appealing. Finally she accepts because the time with her beloved sounds so appealing. In New York, Jonathan nudges Melissa to become his fiancee, but she has doubts as her life, her family, and her business is on the eastern side of the big pond. Worse his first marriage keeps surfacing making her feel inadequate as number two can try harder but never be equal to number one. Finally, with Jonathan working so much, Melissa begins a Big Apple equivalent of her Little Lady agency that leads to an angry argument between the lovers. She returns home alone wondering how she can mend her broken heart. The sequel to the charming LITTLE LADY AGENCY is a wonderful chick lit tale that is as good if not better than the first Honey novel. The lead couple's relationship is fun to follow, but it is the observation asides of Melissa that makes for an amusing deep look at life in Manhattan from the viewpoint of a Londoner. Readers will enjoy eating Hudson River sediment bagels in Central Park with Melissa, watching Honey help the seemingly helpless and sharing cocktails with the heroine as she takes a bite out of the Big Apple.

Rogue's Salute
Jennifer Blake
Mira Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0778324052 $7.99

In 1842 New Orleans, fencing master Nicholas "La Roche" Pasquale meets church-pledged Juliette Armonte when she rescues his three year old ward from an angry male pursuer, who happens to be him. Nicholas tells her that Gabriel could use a mother so he proposes a marriage of convenience. To save the family legacy, a marriage chest, she accepts. Juliette's twin sister Paulette wants to keep the marriage chest so she does her best to cause trouble in order for the relationship between Nicholas and her sibling to fall apart. For the most Nicholas ignores the irritating machinations until someone tries to kill Juliette; Nicholas assumes a desperate Paulette is behind the dastardly but potentially lethal attempts and he vows to stop her. Julietee knows the rivalry is intense due to the marriage chest, but she cannot accept her sibling would want her dead. ROGUE'S SALUTE is a heated historical romance starring the latest Maitres des Armes (see DAWN ENCOUNTER and CHALLENGE TO HONOR) hero and the woman who proves his fencing equal. The story line focuses on a marriage of convenience turning into a marriage of love and passion and the suspense in the storyline enriches a fast-paced mid nineteenth century tale.

Dead Giveaway
Brenda Novak
Mira Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0778324796 $6.99

In Stillwater, Mississippi almost two decades ago highly regarded Revered Lee Barker vanished without a trace. His family with one noted exception and the townsfolk believe that either his second wife or his then teenage stepson Clay Montgomery killed him. However, no proof or corpse was ever found so no one was arrested for the crime. Former Chicago cold case Detective Allie McCormick accompanied by her six years old child Whitney has come home to work for her father, the Stillwater police chief following a divorce from a person who detested their daughter for no reason except her "intruding" on their lifestyle. Allie plans to uncover the truth behind the Barker disappearance, but also finds herself attracted to the prime suspect Clay, who she thinks knows what happened but is protecting someone probably his mom, his two sisters or his stepsister. Noted for her fast-paced romantic suspense thrillers, Brenda Novak heats up Mississippi with this cold case investigation. The fascinating twist to the tale is that fans know early on that Clay knows what happened to the missing Reverend and Allie believes he is innocent, but protecting someone. The support cast is top rate as each has a reason to either conceal the truth or want the truth revealed. The romance adds fun as Allie begins to doubt her professionalism as she falls in love with the townsfolk only suspect. As with DEAD SILENCE and BIG GIRLS DON'T CRY, Ms. Novak writes a tense suspense laden tale.

Stealing Home
Sheryl Woods
Mira Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0778323633 $6.99

In Serenity, South Carolina William Henry Townsend deserts his spouse Maddie and their three children for the younger Noreen. The divorce hurts her kids more than the betrayal devastates Maddie. Teenage Tyler is angry all the time and it shows with his grades plummeting; middle child Kyle seems to have adapted to the change though he has some problems with his father remarrying and may just be stoically keeping everything inside; youngest child Katy cannot understand why daddy never comes home to stay. Needing to escape her personal failures, Maddie jumps on the idea her two best friends Helen and Dana Sue offer of opening up a spa. However, while she struggles with three children, high school baseball coach Cal Maddox tries to provide mentoring to Ty, a player on his team whose performance is in a slump. As Cal and Maddie work with Ty and her other two kids, they begin to fall in love though she is a decade older than he is and both fear the reaction of her youngsters. Neither expected that mean spirited townsfolk would threaten the spa and his coaching position, but it is the children that worry them not the gossips. STEALING HOME is an interesting family drama that focuses on the trials and tribulations of a single mother raising three children while her former spouse starts a second family. Each of the key characters seem real; for instance Bill like everyone else struggles with change but he also suffers doubts, regrets and sorrow though his pregnant second wife adores him. Fans of deep small town character studies will appreciate this delightful tale of individuals coping with a divorce and extended families differently and look forward to the family drama surrounding Dana Sue.

Blood Ties: Possession
Jennifer Armintrout
Mira Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0778324184 $6.99

The vampire broke through the gray veil to pull Cyrus back from the realm of the dead to the living. Realizing he is a weak human surrounded by vampires, Cyrus vows to cut out the heart of Carrie who killed him when he was bloodsucker. In Grand Rapids Carrie lives with Nathan who saved her life when her former sire Cyrus almost killed her. However, at their apartment she is attacked by a berserker demon, who to her shock turns out to be Nathan. He flees just before he would have killed her. She calls their best friend vampire Max Harrison, who tells her he will be right over. Cyrus learns from the weak female in the church with him that a priest and nun were slaughtered there, but she is to keep him alive. At about the same time Max calls the Volunteer Vampire Extinction Movement who flies them to their headquarters in Madrid where they learn a maniac has sliced the throats of women back in Grand Rapids and General Breton tells them he believes Nathan has become a killer who must die. While Carrie visits the oldest vampire, the Oracle, who tells her Cyrus is back and to beware of the Soul Eater, who happens to be Cyrus' father, Breton assigns the murder of Nathan to werewolf Bella DeCesare. Soon everyone will collide in Grand Rapids. The key to the second Blood Ties tale (see BLOOD TIES: THE TURNING) is that readers will believe that vampires and werewolves are real species because the cast is solid and deep. The two subplots consistently intermingle and cross. This leads to an electrifying action-packed story line that contains a strong psychological suspense element yet never slows down until the climax but the audience will not know what to expect until the final collision.

What a Lady Wants
Victoria Alexander
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060882638 $6.99

In 1854 London, the surviving bachelors discuss their wager of one pound each and a bottle of cognac with one down (see LITTLE BIT WICKED) and three to go as to who will be the Last Man Standing. Lord Nigel Cavendish expects to win easily as he only dallies with married or widowed women though he recognizes that some time in a far distant future he will need an heir. As Nigel escapes out of a bedroom window followed by a gunshot, the neighbor, astronomer Lady Felicity Melville, wishes upon a star for a man to take her on the grandest of adventures. She thinks the rake is her fate so she boldly tells him how to escape through her garden. Later she obtains an ally in her plan to become Lady Cavendish, his twin sister, Maddy. As the two women become friends they execute a plan that would make the military envious while Nigel's father turns over management of the family estate to him. The second Victorian Last Man Standing romance is a wonderful historical starring a delightful lead couple. The whimsical use of fate ably abetted by the amateur astronomer and her new ally makes the tale fresh and especially fun to read. Though the prime male character overdoes the "I don't want to be married" routine, readers will enjoy bachelor number two losing the bet but winning much more.

The Scent of Shadows
Vicki Petterson
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060898917 $6.99

A blind date almost leads to socialite Joanna Archer's death as her companion explains they have been hunting her for years. She is able to escape him but tragedy strikes when someone breaks into her sex kitten looking sister Olivia's apartment to kill Joanna. However it is Olivia who winds up dead while Joanna is rescued by Warren, a man who masquerades as a homeless but is really the leader of Zodiac Troop 175. Each troop consists of twelve members representing a sign of the zodiac and is the next step up in human evolution. Since Joanna survived she is now a member of the troop as the Archer and these super being, warriors of the light, protect Las Vegas from their shadowy counterparts led by a Tulpa, a created man who happens to be Joanna's father. The zodiac troop makes it look like Joanne was the one who died and she now looks like her sister Olivia. She needs training in her new powers, but when they arrive at their destination in another dimension Joanna finds that members of the troop don't trust her because she is the mixture of shadow and light. When Warren's life is in danger, she risks everything including her life to save him. In only a few months Joanna runs the gamut of wonders from discovering the man see thought was her father was really a mortal her biological father used to work his evil on Earth in this roller coaster supernatural fantasy ride of unexpected twists and turns. Good people die, evil sometimes triumphs and the heroine has become a superhero protecting her world from the shadow zodiac. Vicki Petterson can hold her own with the greats in this genre including Kim Harrison and Kelly Armstrong as she makes the villains as interesting as the heroes.

Warrior Angels
Margaret and Lizz Weis
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060833254 $6.99

Once he was a Knights Templar tortured by the Inquisition who wanted to break him and have him tell lies about his order. He never broke so when he died he went to Purgatory waiting for Heaven's judgment. When he arrived at Heaven's Gate he was angry at God who he believes forsake him and his pride returned to let him open his heart to enter Paradise. Instead, he became a warrior angel in Purgatory battling Satan's minions. Now the demons are moving to Earth with a rumored new tactic so Derek de Molay is sent to watch over commodities trader Rachel Duncan who lost her guardian angel. Derek is the doorman at her building where he meets the man she involved with Andreas Zanus who is actually a demon in human form. He convinces her to do some shady deals for him. Derek knows that Zanus is high up in the legions of hell and also is torn between following Heaven's orders and his need to protect Rachel the woman he loves. Rachel must decide what to do about Zanus blackmailing her into doing what he wants, knowing it is illegal and will cause harm to millions. Derek must find a way to save Rachel and stop Zanus, two goals that seem impossible with the heavenly limitations placed on him. Margaret Weis has long been known to fantasy fans for her epic novels. Now she takes her writing in a new direction, collaborating with her daughter Lizz to provide an enthralling paranormal romance that concentrates on the battle between the angels and demons over human souls. Readers will like this entry because the angels and the demons have some human qualities that make them easier to understand. The romance between Derek and Rachel is glorious as a man who doesn't trust God and a woman seduced by a demon's glamour feel for each other something that can only be heaven sent.

The Chick and the Dead
Casey Daniels
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060821477 $6.99

Pepper had a comfortable lifestyle until her doctor father was sent away to prison for Medicare fraud. Needing to pay bills she took a job as a tour guide at the Garden View Cemetery. While leading a tour, she tripped and got knocked out when she hit her head on the marble steps of a mausoleum. Now she can see and talk with the dead as she did with Mafia Gus whose murder she solved. Now she sees the ghost of Didi Bowman who died in the 1950's and claims she wrote the mega bestseller, So Far the Dawn, that her sister took credit for authoring. Merilee is coming to Cleveland for the digitally recorded movie premier and to dedicate a museum devoted to memorabilia of the book and move. Didi wants Pepper to prove that she wrote the book so her grand-daughter in foster care will get the royalties and have a chance for a good life. Dangerous happenings begin when Merilee gets to town including a mugging of a photographer and the theft of his pictures, the murder of Merilee's assistant and attempts on Pepper's life. Pepper thinks all these events are linked but she doesn't realize that a killer is watching her every move. Casey Daniels writes an exciting paranormal mystery showcasing a heroine who manages to talk with and work for ghosts as if it was an everyday occurrence. One of her most endearing traits is that she knows she isn't a detective which is why she needs a little ghostly help to move the investigation along. Readers will care and feel sorry for Didi who had a heart of gold and died before she had a chance to live. Ms. Daniels' has a hit series on her hands.

Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakthrough
Isabel Sharpe
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0061140554 $13.95

Glamorous Lorelei Taylor's murder trial was sensational headline news as it had everything the press would want except a conviction. She was tried in New York City for killing her lover, a publishing giant. She was acquitted in court, but hung by the media. Needing time away from the spotlight Lorelei flees to her late grandmother's home, Kettle, Wisconsin. Two neighbors welcome the notorious Manhattan siren for differing reasons. Sarah Gilchrist knows on the outside everything is perfect, but inside the mouse wants to roar as her marriage stinks. She ignores the wide held opinion that Lorelei got away with murder because of her looks and welcomes her to town. On the other hand Erin Hall believes she has found a "sister"-mentor who will help her with a terribly abusive marriage as she knows in her gut Lorelei killed her lover. Lorelei sees the two worshippers as losers who need some loosening up, but then she meets the third neighbor widower Mike who makes the small town appealing though he rejects her New York style advances. Not long after her self imposed exile began, Lorelei wonders who is nudging whom to modify their behavior. This is a delightful lighthearted comedic romp starring WOMEN ON THE EDGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKTHROUGH when the outsider arrives as a catalyst of change. The story line will remind the audience of a gender changing version of Bob Hope's Bachelor in Paradise as Lorelei like Hope's A.J. Niles shakes up the residents of this town. Though the ending is too neat, contemporary readers will enjoy this fun bachelorette tale set in a Midwest paradise.

Ghost, Interrupted
Sonia Singh
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060890223 $13.95

In San Francisco, former stockbroker wealthy Scott Wilder opens up the Cold Spot paranormal private investigative firm. He persuades Indian-American psychic Anjali Kumar and telekinetic guru Coulter Marshall to be his partners. The trio evicts unwanted supernatural visitors from the homes of their clients. However, the mix is not smooth as Anjali hesitates to use her gift while roguish Coulter abuses his. Still Cold Spot begins to earn a reputation as the company to call when the supernatural overstay their visit. They hit the big time when DOD hires them and their rival firm headed up by Scott's former girlfriend Vivica Bates to cleanse a military facility of a dangerous apparently evil spirit of a soldier. Though the ghosts serve as background and are not frightening, GHOSTS, INTERRUPTED is a fun paranormal tale (thriller might be too strong). The divergent attitudes between Anjali and Coulter add depth as she has doubts about using her power especially frivolously while he does not thing twice of abusing his prowess. The story line is driven by primarily the lead three, but to a degree Vivica and her off the wall partner Hans add to the plot with their rivalry. Ghostbusters fans will appreciate this lighthearted ghostly frolic.

Two Weeks with a Stranger
Debra Mullins
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060799242 $6.99

Lucy and Simon agreed to a marriage of convenience, but their wedding night was so blissful she thought they can make a real go at it. However, the next morning he is off to London leaving his country bride behind to rusticate. Though somewhat hurt by his hasty abandonment, Lucy decides to join her spouse in town using the delivery of letters from a late friend to a daughter as an excuse. The bookworm Simon married a country bumpkin as he assumed she would stay out of London where he works for the War Office. His current assignment is to seduce Isabella Montilucci to give him a list of names that in the wrong hands would expose British agents to Napoleon; Isabella's former lover, the late assassin Antoine LaRue is rumored to have given her the names. However, he cannot concentrate on his task when Lucy arrives in town and kisses him senseless. This is a tongue in cheek Regency romance that exaggerates the dilemma between loyalty to the state vs. loyalty to your spouse as the lead male struggles between his assignment and his beloved courageous wife. The story line is fun because of Simon's internal skirmish though readers will get somewhat frustrated with him to "make up his mind, pick up on one and leave the other behind". A late twist and a hint of romance between two secondary characters augment the suspense though the climax is weak.

When Bobby Sang the Blues
Peggy Darty
WaterBrook Press
c/o Random House Trade Group Publicity
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
1400073308 $13.99 1-800-726-0600

To the joy of her niece mystery writer Christy Castleman and the chagrin off her pious strait-laced sister and Minster brother-in-law, Bobbie Bodine comes to Summer Breeze for the first time in three or four years. Bobbie is a free spirit who enjoys turning someone's trash into another person's treasure. As such she has opened up a shop in town to do so. Unbeknownst to Bobbie is that her former spouse Eddie and his girlfriend Roseann Cole are following her and now her niece because he believes she stole $10,000 from him and he needs it back to pay off a dangerous IOU in which his body is collateral. Unbeknownst to Eddie is that enforcer Tony Paneda is stalking Bobbie too because he expects Eddie to show up shortly. Everything comes to a head when someone murders Eddie with Bobbie as the prime suspect. The local Red Hatters who have adopted her and her niece begin to investigate because none of them trust the police to look past Aunt Bobbie. Bobbie's attitude that you can be deeply religious but also enjoy life to the fullest refreshes the inspirational amateur sleuth sub-genre as like her niece and much of the townsfolk her lust for life is infectious. The whodunit investigation starts toward the middle of the strong story line as initially the audience meets the key players and how they relate to one another. Peggy Darty provides a delightful charmer as Christy and the Red Hatters (mindful of Fern Michaels' Sisterhood) try to prove that Aunt Bobbie did not kill her late mate.

My Heart's in the Lowlands: Ten Days in Bonny Scotland
Liz Curtis Higgs
WaterBrook Press
c/o Random House Trade Group Publicity
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
1400072972 $13.99 1-800-726-0600

Popular author Liz Curtis Higgs has written four highly regarded Scottish historical novels (see THORN IN MY HEART, FAIR IS THE ROSE, WHENCE CAME A PRINCE, and GRACE IN THINE EYES). To provide authenticity to these tales, Ms. Higgs would travel to the Lowlands especially Galloway, which she insists is "the country's best kept secret". Over time her trips to Scotland turned into an annual getaway to include leading a Heart for Scotland book tour. Thus the armchair audience will see the Lowlands from a passionate person who cherishes the area. The book takes readers on quite a tour including the expected castles and villages. However, Ms. Higgs brings more than old ruins as she tells a story that brings to life the world of Robert Burns, the age of smugglers in the coves, and Benny Gillies "modern day" bookstore, etc. Readers who enjoy Scottish historical romances will want to visit the pubs and tearooms, the churches and castles, the tiny villages and the bigger cities as tour guide Liz Curtis Higgs shows why her heart is in the Lowlands.

Notes from a Spinning Planet – Papua, New Guinea
Melody Carson
Waterbrook Press
c/o Random House Trade Group Publicity
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
1400071453 $12.99 1-800-726-0600

Twenty old Maddie Chase wonders how you're gonna keep her down on the farm after she seen Ireland while accompanying her Aunt Sid on an investigation into Catholic-Protestant peace camps. Unlike the trepidation during her first trek, this time when Aunt Sid invites Maddie to accompany her on her next assignment, she is euphoric feeling prepared for the world. However, Maddie is stunned with what she and her Aunt Sid find in Papua, New Guinea in the South pacific. AIDS is a pandemic leading killer and life is cheap. Maddie tries to bring solace through Jesus to those dying from AIDS while the Lord enables her to see a beautiful country in crisis. The second journey is an insightful tale that enables teens and adults to better understand the AIDS crisis in an impoverished third world nation. Some readers might find it difficult to see hope and inspiration as Maddie does in the Lord as the age old question of why bad things occur to good people consistently surfaces. Melody Carson provides a deep discerning tale that surfaces a global catastrophe using New Guinea as the conflicting model of hope and despair.

Skylight Confessions
Alice Hoffman
Little, Brown & Company
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
0316058785 $24.99 1-800-759-0190

With the death of her dad, seventeen years old Arlie Singer feels all alone, her mother having died years ago. She vows that the first male she meets is her true love whom she will marry. Yale student John Moody stops to ask Arlie for directions, but instead of continuing his journey she seduces him as her true love. John returns to school, but Arlie follows. They marry, she gives birth to Sam, and when his parents retire, the couple moves into the Glass Slipper, an all glass home. John ignores his troubled offspring and has even less time for his wife. Arlie knows she made a mistake when she meets George Snow, who cleans her home's windows. Though she has a baby by George she will not leave her son for him. Not even ten years into their dysfunctional marriage Arlie dies from breast cancer. Sam is an angry man who hates his father and his stepmother as John remarried almost to the day of Arlie's death. Sam vanishes while his younger sister Blanca feels like an outsider since Cynthia became her stepmother. When she has a chance she flees to open up a bookstore in London though her nanny Meredith, who along with John see Arlie's ghost, has another offspring to raise as Cynthia gives John a third offspring. The key cast members seem so real in their dysfunctional relationships and their overall destructive personal behavior that in turn the story line is depressing yet there is twinkling of possible redemption if one accepts responsibility for errors. The key to this somewhat morbid tale is the characters as the sins of the parents (including the stepmother) are replayed by the children. The paranormal element seems too Hamlet-like, but still fans of deep family dramas will want to follow the seemingly ill-fated obliteration of people who fear the truth when that is the only means of salvation from one's destructive genes.

A Crazy Little Thing Called Death
Nancy Martin
New American Library
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451220412 $21.95 1-800-847-5515

Their parents wasted away in record time their trust funds so the three Blackbird sisters, former socialites, struggle to live above the poverty line. Nora accepts the proposal of Mick Abruzzo; the stunner for high society is not that Mick is the son of an infamous mobster, but that a Philadelphia blue blood would agree to marry someone from Jersey. Whereas Nora thinks her sister Emma is working the sheet trade with partners named John to bring in income, her other sibling Libby, on a hiatus from baby production, plans the social wedding of the century albeit with no money. However, Nora's biggest problem is her fiance. Someone wants Mick dead, but though everyone else assumes it is the Blackbird Curse in full bloom as grooms die young when they wed a Blackbird woman, she believes it ties to her future in-law's family business. Of course Mick almost dying seems normal when compared to the socialite parents of the vanished Penny Devine declaring her dead before the police have had enough legal time to declare her missing. To Nora this is just another scandal in high society. The latest Blackbird Sister mystery is a delightful lighthearted satirical tale that jabs at the pretentiousness of the upper class. The fast-paced story line leaps from one crisis to a deeper calamity as Nora cannot help herself from becoming involved in various happenings starting with stopping her two sisters, to keeping Mick alive at least until she can declare widowhood and finally learning what happened to the divine Penny. Fans of the series will thoroughly enjoy the heroine's predicaments as she tries to save society one Blackbird at a time.

Naughty Housewives
Elizabeth Scott
NAL (New American Library)
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451220382 $14.00 1-800-847-5515

"Tit for Tat". Shelby and Eric tried counseling to save their five years old marriage after she learned of his one night stand cheating on her. However she remains angry though she loves him and decides it should be Tit for tat meaning having sex with someone else; Eric is repulsed by the idea but accepts he has no choice as he still cherishes his beloved. She selects Jason the Bar-Guy she knows from the Wednesday after work happy hour. "Tuesday with Lori". Lori and Kent are deep into their second year of marriage with specific goals that have led to long hours at work and sexual nanoseconds in bed. Lori wants more vowing sex will not be sacrificed to the God of ambition. She starts with a blindfold as she takes charge of bringing excitement back into their tired libidos. "G Marks the Spot". They are Eight months married before Dani and Trevor are forced for the first time to sleep apart as he is on a business trip in Milan. Exploring their Portland mansion she now lives in Dani finds a locked mahogany chest which she picks only to find his porno DVD collection inside the box. She watches two and confronts her spouse when he comes home by showing reality beats film anytime. These three torrid tales run the gamut of erotica though some readers will fault the algebraic logic (double negative is a positive) of Shelby. Still, as the couples learn what turns on each other, sub-genre fans will be turned on to Elizabeth Scott's NAUGHTY HOUSEWIVES in heat.

A Pound of Flesh
Susan Wright
ROC Books
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451461274 $14.00 1-800-847-5515

Throughout the land, children are sold to Pleasure Houses where they are trained to become "pleasure slaves" servicing their often abusive masters. Once in a rare moment a slavemaster frees his slave. This happened in Vidaris where former slavemaster Lexander liberated his love slave Marja. Over the objection of Marja, Lexander and his Thule warriors assassinate his former partner Helanas, and burn down Vidaris. By this act he declares his intent to destroy the rotted system by force; officials in turn affirm that Lexander is an outlaw to be killed by his former peers. He and Marja travel Londinium where their next assault is to be on Becksbury by manipulating the Krishna followers into destroying the facility. To gain entrance, Lexander pretends to be an important slavemaster with Marja posing as his slave; roles both know from experience. However, Lexander goes berserk when the local slavemaster viciously beats his Marja. Lexander and Marja split over how to change society as Marja sees how helpless the freed slaves are, while Lexander's insists that all Pleasure Houses must burn and their masters killed with no thought towards the future of freed slaves. This conflict sends the pair on separate journeys in spite of the need to team up when it comes to confronting the house of Saaladet. The sequel TO SERVE AND SUBMIT, A POUND OF FLESH feels in many ways like a feeder book as no major progress on the goal is achieved. Still this is an interesting tale as the sub Marja and the Dom Lexander struggle to do what each believes is the right thing. There are a variety of sexual encounters (willing and not willing) and supernatural beings. Fans who enjoy something different in their reading will appreciate this erotic fantasy though reading the first book enhances the understanding of this exciting thriller.

Unshapely Things
Mark Del Franco
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0441014771 $7.99 1-800-847-5515

In 1900 the convergence happened and two worlds became one. The people of Faerie popped into the mortal world with some of the pieces of their former realm and humans had to adjust to a new environ. The Ward Guild is the policing agent for the fey and at one time Conner Grey, a powerful druid, was one of their rising stars. After tangling with an eco-terrorist elf with a power ring he didn't know how to use, Conner ended up in the hospital, his power severely diminished and a dark mass in his head that nobody knows what it is. Now he spends his days as an advisor to the Boston P.D. on matters pertaining to the fae and he is helping his police officer friend Murdock with a serial killer case in which faeries of a certain type are murdered, their hearts ripped out and a stone put in its place. When the Ward Guild takes jurisdiction, Conner can't let the case go and decides to investigate on his own in spite of the danger because if the ritual killings are completed, the world as humans know it ends. Mark Del Franco has written an enjoyable and entertaining urban fantasy that will thoroughly entertain readers who like Laurell K. Hamilton, Mercedes Lackey and Kim Harrison. The fey are well constructed characters and readers will find them very fascinating because of their different values and culture than that of humans. There is a lot of action in this tale but it is the hero who holds the storyline together as a bridge between the human and fey community. The audience will look forward to other works starring this protagonist who like a former great athlete past his prime is trying to overcome the loss of much of his powers.

The Alchemist's Apprentice
Dave Duncan
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0441014798 $14.00 1-800-847-5515

In Venice while the torrential down pours rivals that of Noah's, clairvoyant alchemist and astrologer Maestro Nostradamus sends his noble apprentice Alfeo Zeno out in the rain to pick up immediately needed items. By the time the soaked to the bone marrow Alfeo returns to Ca' Barbolano he finds darkness awaits him. He knows that means Nostradamus must have foretold something, which he finds in the poor scribble of the clairvoyant. Alfeo scribes the rarely quite lucid quatrain. Nostradamus has predicted the poisonous homicide of Procurator Bertucci Orseolo, who dies at a dinner party. Republic official Raffaino Sciara, Chief Secretary to the Council of Ten, insists that in order for his prophesy to come true, Nostradamus killed the Procurator. Alfeo thinks the officious model for the Grim Reaper, Sciara, is using the seer to further his ambition. Refusing to flee the city, Nostradamus assigns his apprentice to uncover the truth. Alfeo, accompanied by his courtesan Violetta, investigates the murder of Orseolo. THE ALCHEMIST'S APPRENTICE is a fun lighthearted historical occult mystery that brings to life the latter half of sixteenth century Venice through mostly the pseudo scientist practitioners and the political leaders of the era. Interestingly in spite of Nostradamus' presence, Alfeo is the ascending star as the whodunit supersedes the fantasy and social-governmental elements. Fans will enjoy Dave Duncan's fine amateur sleuth fantasy tale.

Island Heat
Susan Kearney
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
076535666X $6.99 1-888-330-8477

Two years Jamar waited for this moment that will end the rebellion. He fires the missile at the other vessel in which his enemy his brother Cade and some special cargo ride. However, to his rage, though the missile destroys the ship, Cade escapes with his cargo just prior to contact. On the isolated Pacific island that she bought and retreated to five years ago, Shara Weston hears the sonic explosion that reminds her of her Hollywood days when she and late husband Bruce Langston snorted and drank every night. Shara sees a man fall into the water and saves his life. Cade Archer tells her nothing claiming top secret security. As he heals, Cade and Shara are attracted to one another. Still she has doubts as her last loving relationship proved destructive to her and her late spouse; he has even greater concerns as he has a mission to send needed resources through a portal he must create on her island so that his people will be able to free themselves. The portal means threatening the life of his beloved because Jamar will be aware of its opening and arrive to kill him, his witness, destroy the door to his home planet, and perhaps the entire planet if need be. ISLAND HEAT is a fantastic science fiction romance starring two likable protagonists falling in love at a time that it is an expendable emotion. Cade knows his people's freedom must come before his personal needs, but also fears his efforts to help his planet could destroy the orb of his beloved. Shara also believes that earth must come before her desire for this strong alien, which might mean stopping him from opening the portal. Though one must wonder why Jamar went solo at the beginning even if macho ego is implied, Susan Kearney writes a terrific thriller that grips readers from start to finish wondering whether the third planet from the sun will be Mars.

Howling Moon
C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765354020 $6.99 1-888-330-8477

Chief Justice and head of the Sazi community asks former shapeshifter secret police agent Raphael Ramirez to do him a favor; be there when his goddaughter Catherine Turner changes. Were-jaguar serial killer Jack Simpson murdered her parents; Catherine endured but she was mauled and will change at the full moon that is if she survives the transformation. Raphael heads to Boulder where Catherine, suffering nightmares from the lethal massacre, is staying with her Aunt Violet Wildethorne. He knows that Charles asks a lot of him because his pack would want Catherine dead and Jack is probably hunting her down to complete his kill. When Raphael meets Cat, he is stunned as she is his soulmate, but he is wolf and she is jaguar. The latest Sazi romantic suspense fantasy is a terrific tale starring a dedicated hero who knows scandal first hand from the incident that cost him his police position, but also knows he will risk anything to keep his beloved safe from his pack and Jack. Readers also learn a lot more about killing Jack whose previous appearances were somewhat limited. The star-crossed romance combines delightfully with the woman in peril subplot as the world seems to be focusing on a traumatized Cat.

Lord of the Silent Kingdom
Glen Cook
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765306859 $27.95 1-888-330-8477

As a Praman Captain guarding the Wells of Ihrain, the source of all magic, Else Tage killed a Tyranny of the Night because he was unaware that a human cannot kill any of the immortal Instrumentalities; no man can slay a God yet he did (see TYRANNY OF THE NIGHT). His Praman leaders sends him to the West to prevent Grail Empire Patriarch Sublime V from starting a crusade to try to control the Wells at the same time in the Realm of the Gods, the immortals are shaken by Else's blasphemy and plan to kill him. However Emperor Sublime V names the Praman hero Captain-General Piper Hecht and assigns him to prevent the Tyranny of the Night from methodically freezing the lands as well as battling with the Patriarchs, who want to end emperor rule. He finds an ally and lover in financier Anna Mozilla and learns that the great sorcerer Cloven "Ninth Unknown" Februaren thought dead actually lives and is prepared to support Piper, who the century plus old wizard believes is the only human hope. In book two, the idealistic hero is a lot more knowledgeable about the ways of the world, but now knows what he cannot do as knowledge leads to doubts and hesitation. Though Anna is a fully developed person who intelligently supports the Patriarch and advises Piper she also symbolizes his maturing. The conflict between the Grail Empire and the Praman is reminiscent of the medieval era when the Western Crusaders felt God was on their side as they tried regaining the Holy Land from the infidels. Thus the tense plot contains warring religions and squabbling leaders at a moment when humans need to come together to fight against the Tyranny of the Night. Though newcomers must read the previous novel first as Glen Cook provides no background to the previous tale, this is an excellent anti-war epic fantasy.

Dragonfrigate Wizard Halcyon Blithe
James M. Ward
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765312549 $24.95 1-888-330-8477

Sixteen years old Arcania Empire dragonship naval officer Halcyon Blithe has not only received a pardon following a court martial, but also is promoted for his courageous action that saved his shipmates including a dragon on the Sanguine. However, not everyone is pleased to see this late bloomer seventh son of a seventh son rewarded. His on board enemy Elan Swordson is jealous of the attention and acclaim the upstart Blithe is receiving and plots to destroy his rival. During a battle against a demon ship and its crew, Blithe's demon-half takes over and saves the day again, but also places him on trial for misusing magical essences. His sentence is a promotion to the dragonship Rage where the crew is escorting an elven ambassador to the Dwarven Empire while their enemy the Maleen plots another sea battle. The second Blithe tale (see MIDSHIPWIZARD HALCYON BLITHE) once again reads like Horatio Hornblower meets Harry Potter. The story line is fast-paced as much of the plot focuses on battles, but insuring that the magic seems real, and the hero and the dragons appear genuine. Fans especially young adults will want to go to sea with Blithe on a dragon ship at they fight against the Maleen and demons ships in an enchanting military fantasy.

Adventures in Unhistory: Conjectures on the Factual Foundations of Several Ancient Legends
Avram Davidson
illustrated by George Barr
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
076530760X $25.95 1-888-330-8477

This is a reprint of a book released in 1993 just before the author died. In it Mr. Davidson provides fifteen essays on a variety of mythological and supernatural characters in which he uses what is considered fact supplemented by conjecture to explain the legends of dragons, Sinbad as well as werewolves, and unicorns, etc. Each entry is written to excite the reader who learns what led to the formation of a particular legend to include who Aleister Crowley, and what is the Secret of Hyperborea. Tis work is well written with terrific small black and white illustrations by George Barr that enhance the text and these fifteen discussions feel more like short stories than ancient historical treatises. Fantasy fans will find this delightful charming collection fascinating as the audience will agree with Mr. Davidson assertion that a wombat is real and a dragon is not; but people can describe a dragon; how many can describe a wombat?

Weavers of War
David B. Coe
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765312468 $27.95 1-888-330-8477

In the Forelands, the Eandi have subjugated the Qirsi, a race of incredible magical powers though they are small in numbers. Their white skins and yellow eyes set them apart from the rest of humanity and though they hold positions in the courts and stations of the various realms they are answerable to the Eandi who are their overlords. Sick of the status quo, a movement has built up over the years in which the Qirsi led by Dusaan foment rebellion, unrest among various realms houses and clans. Dusaan is a Weaver a powerful mage who not only has every Qirsi power but can use the powers of the various other Qirsi, weaving them into weapons that could be used against the Eandi in the seven realms. Only one man can stop him the Weaver known as Grinsa but first he must find a way to prevent the various Eandi factions from fighting each other and join against the common enemy. Even then he doesn't know, even with the Qirsi who are loyal to the Eandi and willing to back him, if he has strength to defeat Dusaan. This is the fifth and final book in the Winds of the Forelands saga and it ties up all the loose ends, as enemies are revealed and allies come out in the open in a final confrontation. Grinsa is a complex character who makes difficult choices and stands by them, allying himself with Eandi and those Qirsi loyal to them because that he believes is the only way his race will gain equality. David B. Coe is a powerful storyteller and an excellent worldbuilder.

Orson Scott Card
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765316110 $24.95 1-888-330-8477

The two extremes in the USA have reached a point of hatred that threatens the fiber of the country. Neither extremist group wants to compromise because they believe that makes them seem weak. The vast center prefers harmony, but they are considered expendable pawns by the right and the left who each assume the mantle of righteousness. In this divisive world of hate, the final blows occur almost simultaneously. Terrorists kill the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense, and other VIPs leaving a chaotic nation without leaders. The right blames the left for being soft on Al Qaeda; the Left blames the Right for failing to protect the infrastructure. Major Reuben Malich was near White House when the rocket attack killed POTUS, and the Defense Secretary. Initially considered a hero for saving lives, soon Rube is accused of carrying out the assassination. With his new assistant Captain "Cole" Coleman and a few other trusted aides, Rube investigates and soon believes the recent assassinations is the first stage in a coup to turn America into a world dominating empire to outlast the five centuries of Rome. The "Progressive Restoration" has begun as the second American Civil War has exploded into open hostilities. Extrapolating from the hatred that has divided the country, Orson Scott Card provides a cautionary futuristic science fiction thriller. The war seems a plausible outcome though the recent election controlled by the middle brings new hope that maybe we can get along. Readers will appreciate this powerful military thriller yet extremists on both sides will condemn Mr. Card for failing to take their opinion while missing the whole point of this strong thriller that either extreme could destroy the values of this country with their no compromise idealism.

True Talents
David Lubar
c/o Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765309777 $17.95 1-888-330-8477

The young teens met at the Edgeview Alternative School, but bonded as hopeless misfits dealing with the abusive bullying hulk Lester Bloodbath and the shock therapy punishments for alleged misbehavior of Principal Davis. A year has passed since "Trash" learned he has telekinetic powers and his mates found their skills too. Torchie lights fires, Cheater reads minds which enables him to cheat on tests, Lucky finds missing objects, Flinch forecasts the future, and Martin sees souls. Though each relishes a secret power, each also wants to be normal especially as they go to the American torture camp for dweebs: high school. Back home Trash wonders if he dreamed of his super friends and his own psychic ability just like he dreamt of killing a gorilla. He tests his skill by mentally pick pocketing a wallet though he returns it to the owner; albeit with a reward. He next decides to see what he could do at the nearby Ben Franklin bank, but is caught with a successful telekinetic withdrawal of cash. Major Bowdler and a top secret squad looking into psychic phenomena has captured Trash and plan to use his skills for nefarious research purposes with their subject being an expendable butterfly. His only hope resides with the nerd squad of Edgeview, Torchie, Cheater, Lucky, Flinch, and Martin using their HIDDEN TALENTS as a team, but each first must escape from curfew imposed by adult supervision. This sequel continues the adventures of the six nerdy psychic teens who became friends at Edgeview, but though they are moving on to high school remain in touch with one another. These six musketeers know the truth of one for all and all for one so when Trash gets into trouble his five banditos risk their freedom to try to rescue him from an immoral research group looking into psychic phenomena. TRUE TALENTS is a fun tale for middle school children and those adults who appreciate Potter-mania.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

The Rhythm of the Road
Albyn Leah Hall
Thomas Dunne Books
An Imprint of St. Martin's Press
175 5th Ave., New York NY 10010
0312359446 $24.95

Albyn Leah Hall's first novel is a stunner in every way, thanks to charismatic characters and an exceptional prose style. Hall knows instinctively how to tell a captivating story.

Bobby Pickering is a handsome northern Irish lad from County Antrim. Although he's loved by the ladies for his flashing smile and bright blue eyes, Bobby holds himself apart and lives a solitary life. When he meets Rosalie, an American Goth girl who romanticizes him as a "ghostly Celt," Bobby is smitten. He marries Rosalie when she is six months pregnant and takes a job as long distance truck driver to support his growing family. Rosalie's binge drinking and hard drug use produces a sickly, premature daughter. She abandons her young husband and baby and returns to America. Bobby names the tiny infant Josephine, for his mother, pouring all his love and strength into her until she thrives.

As Josephine grows, she accompanies Bobby from one end of U.K. to the other on his trucking runs. She grows up sharing his love of country music and the open road, eating in roadside diners and sleeping in the truck. Jo learns to accept her father's dark depressions and to take her turn at the wheel when he's incapable of driving. One day they pick up a beautiful American country singer, Cosima Stewart. Knowing Cosima and following her band around the country changes Josephine's life. Soon she's no longer Bobby's little girl and anchor, but a blossoming young woman following in the footsteps of a mother she's never met. Her life becomes one of sex, drugs, and alcohol as she follows Cosima and the boys in the band. As Jo's obsession separates her life from Bobby's, that old dark pain slowly eats him alive.

This is a devastating story. Bobby Pickering's love for his daughter is achingly poignant because the reader feels this quiet man's pride and despair. His unraveling is shocking and tragic. Jo's self-destructive obsession with Cosima is deadly and unsettling. In the end, The Rhythm of the Road is about the truest kind of love. This book is highly recommended.

Echoes in Exile
Sheema Kalbasi
PRA Publishing
P.O. Box 211701, Martinez, GA 30917
0972770378 $12.95

Sheema Kalbasi's credentials are impressive: award winning Iranian-born poet; human rights activist; literary translator; Director of Dialogue of Nations through Poetry in Translation; Director of Poetry of Iranian Women Project; passionate and outspoken defender of ethnic and religious minorities' rights. This latest book has drawn high praise from critics internationally, praise that is well deserved. Skillfully, through words, Ms. Kalbasi has transformed sorrow and loss into forged steel. She writes of love, loss, exile, and brave women who protect their children and defuse hate through their very existence.

Kalbasi lives in the U.S. now but honors her Iranian heritage. In this excerpt from "Dancing Tango" she remembers the city of Esphahan and the Zayandehrood River:

Time is eternity, my dignity
resides in yours and your
words are wonders that I count
as precious coins kept quietly
in the pockets of my ears.

"Nothing" shares the poet's sorrow at witnessing the destruction of a people and their ancient culture, all reported stoically and systematically in the news:

The bombs, lights that blind, and Damascus,
Burning after Teheran. Sisters calling in despair,
Brothers ambivalent to the arms of infidels. Nothing
But children die, and journalists are filming for a

"Kaddish" is a powerful poem best read in its entirety:

And on the eighth day
God created his bloody sore,
the Middle East
Where only the streets
speak of the dead,
where the buttercups
cups, cups are red
from blood,
where bodies are tossed
in oil, oil,
hot hot oil.

Don't burn your finger God
on the ziz,
red, red ziz. (ziz – flower, cleft, or pass)

Allah-o-Akbar! (God is great.)

"For Women of Afghanistan" is a hard truth, a reality most people of the Western world give less than passing thought. In few words, this excerpt reveals much:

As I walk in the streets of Kabul,
behind the painted windows,
there are broken hearts, broken women.
If they don't have any male family to accompany them,
they die of hunger while begging for bread,
the former teachers, doctors, professors
are today nothing but walking hungry houses.

This excerpt from "Mama in the War" extols the quiet courage of women in all wars, everywhere through time. Such women, standing firm without weapons amidst war's chaos, are the real heroes and not the presidents, potentates, politicians, or warriors:

You are my president, mama,
you and all those women
who protected
and still defend their children
against the blinded-with-hatred
soldiers of death
all around the world.

"Eternal Friendship" is brief and to the point. Nothing is eternal:

No! Friendships are not eternal. Nothing is eternal. Not
family, not friendships, not love, not lust. Nothing…not
even the wandering eyes that will read these lines in

Sheema Kalbasi misses her homeland, her ancient culture and its beautiful legacy. She shares her loss and sorrow, from exile, through poetry, because she prefers exile to slavery or death. Echoes in Exile is an exceptional work and highly recommended.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

Park Ridge
Cheryl Hagedorn
1601450230 $14.95

Cheryl Hagedorn is a late bloomer in the world of writing and publishing. She gained her Masters Degree in Writing from DePaul University after a varied career that included computer programming; the Salvation Army; and actually teaching writing at the setting of her mystery, the Park Ridge Senior Center. She's also taught writing at the Chicago Department on Aging. She is a member of the Emily Dickenson International Society and the Illinois Philological Association.

What happens at Senior Centers? Do people form cliques? This is what Cheryl Hagedorn uses as the basis for her PD James type of psychological mystery. Hagedorn's own Park Ridge Senior Center serves as the backdrop. A group of long-term pinochle players dare each other to commit murder to get rid of the pushy active members of the Senior Center. Four modus operandi's form a confusing soup for Detective Stanley Nevins, son of Stella Nevins, another Senior Center attendee. To make things worse, Stan drops by to see his mother, only to discover that she has been seeing one of the pinochle players:

"A kaleidoscope of emotions zoomed through the detective's head. THE PROFESSOR! THE GUY PLAYING CARDS FROM THE CENTER WHO HAD CALLED STAN 'STUNNING SHEILA'S SON.' THE ONE WHO DID THE THING ABOUT ALLITERATION. He took a seat near the window. The coffee table with its two cups, two dirty dessert plates loomed between them and him. The two men eyed each other. Gus lifted his chin as if defying Stan to speak."

Hagedorn does a nice job of recreating daily business at a Senior Center and creating characters who are interesting. Human nature drives her plot, and one can imagine the seething resentments, even in a place that should be completely non-threatening. But there's the rub. Take a seemingly neutral environment and add passion and cruelty, and one has an excellent plot. Hagedorn's own understanding of human nature from years of experience provides the spark, and her writing skills tell the rest of the story. PARK RIDGE is an entertaining whodunit that rates with Agatha Christie and could easily convert to an enticing television movie.

Intrigue in Italics
Gayle Wigglesworth
Koenisha Publications
3196 53rd St., Hamilton, MI 49419
0975962183 $19.95

Gayle Coates Wigglesworth is both a creative and business whiz. She moved to San Francisco and developed her life there, combining skills to become a Senior Vice President in the banking industry, while at the same time becoming a potter; a wonderful cook; and a writer. She and her husband eventually moved to Houston for another position. She has written three Claire Gulliver mysteries and is currently at work on her fourth, titled CRUISIN' FOR A BRUISIN'.

Claire Gulliver is a librarian who retired when her uncle died and left her a book store in San Francisco. Claire updates the store and calls it "Gulliver's Travels," and specializes in all things travel. She naturally gets pulled into travel herself, and it seems that everywhere she goes she gets into a scrape. Her current escapade involves travel to Florence, where her mother, Millie,is involved in a prestigious cooking school. Claire is shocked when she recognizes a friend she thought was dead...she had gone to her funeral...riding by on a bike. She returns to the spot where she saw her, and her friend Kristen admits that she is in hiding after witnessing a brutal murder by a mobster she had dated. While her mother Millie deals with some odd happenings at the cooking school, Claire takes off with her friend to protect her from the bad guys:

"'I'm leaving town. I've got to get out of here right away. That time someone bombed the Uffizi, they closed the city down. None of the buses, trains or even cars could get in or out. I need to get out now before that happens.' 'But where will you go? How will you be sure you're safe?' Kristen shrugged. 'I can't be sure, but I have some disguises and I'll try to find somewhere to light until I can connect up with my controller.' Claire nodded, then making up her mind she said, 'I'm going with you.'"

Wigglesworth has created a thoroughly delightful franchise with the Claire Gulliver mysteries. Claire is a somewhat over-protected thirty-something who has more guts than she realizes. She is observant and brave, and is a loyal friend who knows right from wrong. She has made a valuable friend in Jack, a C.I.A. agent who manages to turn up in the nick of time when Claireis in trouble. Their relationship develops over the three novels, but Wigglesworth cleverly stops short of a full-blown romance. INTRIGUE IN ITALICS also includes Italian cooking at its best.

Boom Town
Trevor Scott
Broadhead Books
P.O. Box 7396, Beaverton, OR 97007
1930486626 $14.95

Trevor Scott has the perfect background to write today's private investigation fiction. He holds a Master's degree in creative writing from Northern Michigan University. Plus he has a solid background as a Naval aviation ordnance man (that's bomb diffusion to the civilian public) and lived in Germany during the fall of the Berlin Wall. He is still a member of the Naval reserves.

Tony Caruso is homeless, but lives out of his old Ford pickup with his Giant Schnauzer named Panzer, who comes with his own set of credentials as a German-trained, bomb-sniffing pouch. Tony is trained as in aviation ordnance, and seems the perfect fit to investigate the apparent suicide of a well-to-do couple who were known as "wild." Tony becomes Bend, Oregon's newest resident, and his good looks and derring-do quickly establish him as a stud muffin for the single ladies around town, even as Tony is wondering which of them might be involved in this gorgeous town where secrets are spread as quickly as they occur:

"'How's your shoulder?' she said.
He glanced down at his right arm. 'Is nothing sacred in this town?'
'They broadcast that stuff over open frequencies,' she said. 'But I have friends at the hospital. We don't get many shootings around here. Except for domestics.'
'Like Dan and Barb Humphrey?'
She hesitated. 'Yeah.'"

Trevor Scott manages another winner with this exciting tale set in the middle of the Cascade mountain range on the Northwest. His take on the real estate boom of California millionaires invading this idyllic space is on the money. Real estate and computer companies seem to be the big money makers on the West Coast, and the opportunity for fraud; bullying; and theft seems to be the order of the day. Scott's background and knowledge of all things relating to bombs puts him in the driver's seat, and the reader is the fortunate recipient of an excellent plot; well-crafted characters; and constant action. BOOM TOWN is Trevor Scott's second foray in the P.I. series, after the excellent Jake Adams International Thriller Series. He never fails to please.

The Art of Murder
Don West
Dancing Bear Books
Tucson, AZ
1597781118 $14.00

Don West was born in Kentucky, but spent most of his childhood in Michigan. He graduated from Michigan State and went on to complete an MFA in theater direction

and poetry at The Ohio University. He has published one prior novel, DREAM OF THE GREAT BLUE, which was nominated for ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Award in 2005. He has also garnered awards for short stories and poems THE ART OF MURDER is his first Nestor Pike mystery. He presently lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Nestor Pike is a noir private eye, a la Mike Hammer. His wife, Shirl, is a foxy waitress and emerging artist, and they "date," but don't live together. The death of their son, Nathanial, looms between them, although it hasn't diminished their obvious love for one another. The tale opens on a Friday afternoon after Carter Lee Hollenbeck III, Trustee at the Getty gallery, is found crushed beneath a sculpture. As Nestor reads the story in the paper two thugs show up to beat him up. The trouble is, he has no idea what they are talking about when they warn him off "the case." What case?

"I turned off the phone, put it on my desk, and sipped my coffee. I needed some time to mull over what Maldonado has just told me. Who would've hired this killer to pay little ole me a social call? And more to the point, why? But that would have to wait. I looked at my watch. It was ten past nine, and I was beginning to think Ms. Smith was standing us up again, when I heard someone, a woman by the sound of her voice, enter the outer office. I unclipped the Magnum from my belt and put it in my desk, leaving the drawer open. I stood up and walked around in time to meet Felia and whoa--."

Noir Satire is Don West's writing modus operandi. The hero, in this case, Nestor Pike, is a sad loner, although he is surrounded by beautiful women. There are supposed to be no happy endings, and we don't want to give anything away. But Nestor is a great detective, although he is banged up for much of the story. The ending has a bit of a twist,

ensuring the reader will want to come back for more. Suffice to say that there is gritty humor; a great plot; characters that really are oddballs; and lots of fun in this dark tale of the detective world. And there's all the old chestnuts…a poor, misunderstood, P.I.; his sexy secretary; and the cops he works with…some trustworthy; some not. A great read!

Dead Man's Hand
Richard Evan Goulding and Ronald Kirk Goulding
SterlingHouse Publisher, Inc.
7436 Washington Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15218
1563153807 $12.95

Two brothers sit pool side, sharing stories and analyzing what goes on in the psychopath's mind. Ronald Kirk Goulding and Richard Evan Goulding, with a lifetime of criminal defense and medicine between them, took up writing mysteries after their chats turned into ideas. Coincidently Sterling House Publishing began its Pemberton Mysteries imprint, looking for the most "chilling" writing out there. A partnership was born, and another product of the Goulding brothers, the film "All In," starring Lou Gossett, Jr. will be hitting theaters soon. The Gouldings' love of poker, particularly "Texas Hold 'Em." also figures in their first mystery.

Michael Corso is a defense attorney who was used to winning every case, until someone mowed his family down while they were at a Chicago park. The death of their daughter, Dianna, and the resulting paralysis of his beloved wife, Evelyn, send Michael into a downward spiral with the bottle. The tale opens with Michael sitting in jail after a night of drunk and disorderly conduct, then dashing to trial to win the case for his client, who may or may not be guilty. The next case that walks through his door, Drs. Pederson and Carnes, will engage him and change his life forever in the murder case of Max Keiffer:

"Pederson gave Carnes a sharp look and took over the conversation. 'We'd like to retain your services,' he said pleasantly.
'Both of you?'
'Actually, it's for our partner, Blane Gordon. He's been arrested.' Pederson paused, looking for a reaction, but Michael's face remained impassive as he sat patiently waiting for an explanation. 'He's being held for murder,' Pederson continued. 'The murder of our other partner, Dr. Max Keiffer.'
Michael's eyes asked the unspoken question.
'We know he didn't do it, Mr. Corso. We were with Blane at the time Max was killed."

The Gouldings' combined experience brings realism to this character-driven, psychological drama about perfidy in both law and medicine. Using an impressive, measured plot, courtroom antics, and violation of the Hippocratic Oath, the Gouldings scare us all almost to death.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

The Man of Her Dreams, The Woman of His
Joel and Kathy Davisson
Joel and Kathy Publishing
244 Pine Grove Drive, Palm Coast, Fl 32164
0976638819 $15.00

Perhaps one of the hardest hit areas in our Christian walk is in the arena of family and especially in marriage. Nothing seems to outrage the enemy of our faith more than a strong, loving marriage, with couples walking in the true light of fellowship with each other. Sadly, it appears that many true loving Christians can't seem to allow the love of God to flow in their own personal relationship in marriage; now there is hope for many in this book by Joel and Kathy Davisson.

In this work Joel and Kathy openly discuss the problems that they faced in their marriage. Although they were followers of Christ it seemed the concept didn't flow within their relationship one to another. Mixed emotions, anger, resentment, disappointments, deep hurts and wrong interruption of some of God's Word led to unfulfilled existences for both of them. They knew something was wrong but didn't know how to fix it until God intervened with revelation that set them free.

In this work this wonderful couple freely share the many pitfalls that they were in and show you how God led them out. They do this in an honest, easy to understand way and give you explanations of the how's and why's. I think what I loved the most about this book is the clear way they show that Jesus is the Master and we all have our part to play in His Kingdom, equally. If you want a true loving Christian relationship with your husband/wife this is a must read for you. Some of the solutions may cause a few 'ouches' along the way but I promise you if you implement these truths into your marriage you truly can have, " The Man of Her Dreams -The Woman of His." Recommended!

The Blue Cheer
Ed Lynskey
PointBlank Press
9710 Traville Gateway Drive #234, Rockville, MD 20850
0809556677 $10.95

Author Ed Lynskey truly takes us on an unexpected ride in his new work "The Blue Cheer," staring our famous PI Johnson. Searching for some relief from the taxing life he has led, Frank Johnson moves to West Virginia to a quiet mountain community; or is it? Awaken to an exploding Stinger rocket in his backyard was not something he had envisioned occurring. In his investigation, Frank is pulled into a secret that will rock his world and those around him. And in an attempt to keep this concealed deaths soon occur and Frank is more determined than ever to find out the real truth.

I believe in this work our author shows a new side of PI Frank Johnson. Although he is still as some would call, rough around the edges, this work allows a small insight into the heart of the man. This was a good touch as it draws you more into the series of this work and its main character. This story is not a creeper but moves along at a fast clip, dropping surprises and throwing in characters as red and shiny as a ripe apple and as sour as a bad one.
It has mystery, murder and heart, and quite a fulfilling conclusion.

All in all a very good read. Well done Mr. Lynskey.

The Ice Man
Philip Carlo
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312349289 $24.95

I have come to know that any work done by Phillip Carlo will be exceptional and I found no less that that in his new work, "The Ice Man." I must admit I was a bit apprehensive as I began the read but also very curious. Since I was born and raised in New Jersey for all of my life I have been fully aware of the Mafia presence and often read or heard told different tales of what was happening all around the citizens by this organization and those who worked for them. I have to tell you I was immediately drawn into this confession of a killer.

I believe that Phillip Carlo told the story as fully as it was told to him. Taking us back to Richard's childhood and allowing us to relive the horror that this boy went through certainly helped to understand how he could totally do an unspeakable act against another human being without having the smallest twinge of regret. I believe what he lived through as a child, allowed an evil to enter him that took away much, if not all, of any decent human reactions of wrongs committed to another person. To me that was a very troubling revelation as I think of the many abused children in our society and just how that abuse might be shaping a future "Ice Man."

This work is very well written, straight forward and will definitely take you into the mind and heart of a cold blooded killer. Be warned however that some of the murder descriptions may leave you very unsettled; it is a bit un-nerving and will definitely leave you wondering how many other Richard's walk among us. The thought is mind-boggling.

Food Smart
Susan G. Berg
Rodale Press
1150 17th Street, New York, NY 20036
0875964818 $17.95

This book is one for woman and the information in it will definitely enhance your health if you implement it into your life. At the onset of this read we are given twenty reasons to change our eating habits that just make good common sense. For example, The importance of lowering your cholesterol, reducing high blood pressure, boosting your brainpower and banishing fatigue and many more. Just an improvement in those areas alone should send most of us rushing to the store for a copy of this book.

As we continue the read information is broken down into categories such as: Learning about carbs; Vitamins, Stocking our kitchen with healthy food; and even a section to help you shop wisely. Also included are some question and answers for women such as, "Why do shampoos and conditioners contain vitamins and minerals?". Added on each page is a little extra tid-bit of information that is very useful. All in all this is one informative read and also a great attention grabber. Written with an easy flow you will probably go through this book in several sittings and return time and time again to use all of the valuable information inside. Very nice book

Veggie Tales: Bible Storybook
Cindy Kenney
5300 Patterson Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
0310710081 $16.99

The moment I saw this book I knew I was going to love it. The cover immediately drew my attention as the adorable Veggie characters smiled at me; but that was only the beginning of this delightful work. Inside the pages of this book I was in for a real reading treat.
Reading the work, we find children's old Veggie Tale friends as they take them on a journey through some favorite Bible stories of Old and New Testament, bringing them to life as only Veggie Tales can do. We have the story of Esther, Daniel and the Lions' Den, David and Goliath; to name just a few. Each told with Veggie Tale characters illustrated in fun, colorful, creative pictures that will capture any child's attention and bring them right into the action of the story they are reading. Excellent!

I highly recommend this book. It will help to bring the Word of God alive to your child;this is simply a must have. Exceptional!

I Promise You
Willard E. Harley, Jr.
Baker Publishing Group
P.O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516
08007189933 $17.99

In this work you will find a guide to help with your relationship in preparing for a long life with the one you love. In the excitement of beginning a new life together very few of us think beyond walking down the isle, but what really does happen after the vows are made and life truly begins with all the problems this world can bring. Will you have a foundation that is lasting?

In Dr. Harley's book you will find a breakdown of four principals that should be addressed and implemented in your relationship to help insure a stronger tomorrow. They are: The Promise of Care; The Promise of Protection; The Promise of Honesty and The Promise of Time. In each of these topics he identifies what it really means to care, to protect, what honesty is, and the giving of time along with mountains of breakdowns in each category to help you understand the principles given and how applying them to your relationship will help it bloom and last forever.

I Promise You gives great guidelines that will help to ensure a happy ever-after and these gems are not only for the soon to be married but for any couple that wants to enrich their lives in a beautiful way. Easy to read, understand and apply, this book will surely help many .

Mystic Mommy
Cat Runningelk
Running Elk Publishing
Sedona Arizona
0976709406 $14.95

In this work we share the frustration of a wife and mom who woke-up one day and realized that life was moving along and leaving her behind. Although she loved being a wife and a mom, somewhere inside of her she knew there was more to her existence and purged forward to discover this new side of herself. At first with much apprehensiveness she took baby steps, but through what she feels was spiritual insight she forged forward and walked into her full existence and one that brought great meaning to her life.

Embracing her spiritual gifts our author encourages others to seek answers to such questions as: Who you are; Why you're here and What you're going to do about it. If you are interested in reincarnation and discovering past lives, dream interpretation and how to access your higher mind this book is for you. Written in an honest down-to-earth way this book will be easy for you to understand and enjoy.

The Wingy Chronicles
Joseph Cariello & Christopher Cariello
Bridgeway Books
2100 Kramer Lane Suite 300, Austin, Texas 78758
1933538503 $14.95

In this wonderful tale by Joseph Cariello we basically find a grandpa who shares his life in heartwarming stories, adventure stories and just stories about life. Each story is fun and entertaining while at the same time gives a life lesson that can be shared and discussed with children. I found this book to be totally delightful and I really enjoyed reading it and love the concept of sharing one's life with their grandchildren.

As is pointed out, one does not have to achieve the greatest achievement in life to share living.
One only has to care, and take the time to understand that we all have something to give, to teach and mentor those who will be here after we have moved on. Very well done, extremely enjoyable read and one that is perfect to share with others.

The Rainbow Bridge: Pet Loss Is Heaven's Gain
Niki Behrikis Shanahan
Pete Publishing
P.O. Box 282, Tyngsborough, MA 01879
1009723014X $12.99

I was excited to hear that Ms. Shanahan had a new book release. I have had the pleasure to read and review her two former works, "There Is Eternal Life For Animals," and "Animal Prayer Guide," and I was truly the one who was blessed. As I settled down to read her new work, I knew this too would be a blessing to me and I was not disappointed.

In her new work, "The Rainbow Bridge: Pet Loss Is Heaven's Gain," our author again takes us through Biblical proof that our beloved pets are indeed waiting for us on the other side. As always, her research is concise and conclusive and leaves you with the reassurance that God truly is taking care of our beloved pets. However, she goes into some new veins in this work such as sharing how pets were companions throughout history. I found this information to be so interesting that I reread it several times. And I absolutely loved chapter three, "Encouraging and Miraculous Stories." These stories warmed my heart and uplifted me for days. Wonderful. She goes on in Chapter Four to discuss what the Bible says about life after death, Chapter Five deals with overcoming depression and she gives you some helpful advice and aids to implement to help lessen the blow of your loss, and in Chapter 6 she encourages us to look to the future. It is a great feeling and brings much comfort to know that your pet is being well taken care of and is eagerly awaiting the reuniting with you. And her final chapter is given to a Memorial Service that you can hold for your pet, allowing you a way of closure for your loss, and respect to the pet you love.

As far as this reviewer is concerned I strongly feel that Ms. Shanahan should be given a standing ovation for the work she has done in the awareness that our passing pets are certainly part of our future. She has felt the very pulse of grieving pet owners and carefully applied healing ointment to help mend the broken heart and bring hope and peace through her writings. Her new book is yet just another cooling balm to sooth the troubled soul. I cannot encourage you enough to read every one of her excellent books; you will never be the same. Thank you Ms. Shanahan from the owner of many beloved pets who I know are waiting for me on the other side. I am sure in Heaven when they hear your name, they smile.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

My Other Body
Ann Pai
Sunspot Press
PO Box 12893, Overland Park, KS 66282-2893
0977204502, $15.00

To win first place in the Writer's Digest International Self-Published Book Contest in the category of 'Life Stories' for 2006, you know that Ann Pai's "My Other Body: A Memoir of Love, Fat, Life, And Death" is going to be something very special indeed. "My Other Body is the deeply personal story of Ann Pail's older sister's ultimately fatal battle with obesity, their sisterhood, and her own fight with a compulsive eating disorder. This inspired and inspiring account is powerfully presented and engages the readers total and rapt attention from beginning to end. "My Other Body" is not just another story of victimization, guilt, or unrealistic perceptions of obesity or emaciation. It is the story of how the power of familial love survives any somatic challenge with which the body and mind of human beings must deal. "My Other Body" is very highly recommended reading (especially for anyone facing similar challenges within themselves and/or their families), but an important addition to community library American Biography and Self-Help collections as well.

An Observant Eye
David F. Wood
Concord Museum
PO Box 146, Concord, MA 01742-0146
0965414523, $39.95

Expertly compiled and knowledgeably written by David F. Wood, "An Observant Eye: The Thoreau Collection At The Concord Museum" is a profusely illustrated survey of the Concord Museum's extraordinary collection of artifacts and memorabilia drawn from the life and times of Henry David Thoreau, the author of 'Walden Pond' and 'Civil Disobedience'. This 160-age, full-color, hardcover volume begins with the seminal essay "A Common Sense Applied to the Objects' Thoreau and Material Culture", which is followed by seven chapters devoted to examining some 150 objects drawn from the Concord Museum's collection, each item being picture in color. Additionally, "An Observant Eye" is enhanced with a checklist of an addition 100 objects in the Thoreau collection. A 'must' for all Thoreau enthusiasts, "An Observant Eye" could well serve as a template for similar collections dedicated to other notable Americans in private and public museums elsewhere throughout the country.

Earworms Musical Brain Trainer
One Embarcadero, Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94111

The key concept distinguishing the Earworms approach to do-it-yourself language instruction is the very special 'musical brain training' technique developed by linguistic instructor Marlon Lodge, who draws upon his more than 25 years of experience and expertise in teaching foreign languages. Based upon research into memory enhancement, the Earworms system utilizes the power of music to connect and create additional neural paths to the words, phrases and grammatical structures of a language in the area of the auditory cortex responsible for long-term memory. These CD instructionals featuring 200+ essential words and phrases anchored into long-term memory through the use of great music and comprising the Earworms language instruction library include Rapid French (1905443021, $29.00); Rapid Italian (1905443005, $29.99); and Rapid German (190544303X, $29.99). With the CD convenience of being able to listen and following along anytime, anywhere whether at home, in the car, or while jogging, each lesson will prove fun and effective in acquiring basic fluency. Each one accompanied by a 20-page booklet, all three of these outstanding instructionals are very strongly recommended addition to formal and/or informal language learning resources.

Love Hound
Oliver Welden
Host Publications
451 Greenwich Street, Suite 7J, New York, NY 10013
0924047313, $8.00

Born in Santiago, Chile in 1946, Oliver Welden has authored a number books and received the Luis Tello National Poetry Award of the Society of Chilean Writers in 1968. Deftly translated into English by Dave Oliphant, "Love Hound" is a superb collection of Oliver Welden's verse that will nicely serve to introduce this Chilean poet to an appreciative American readership with his use of language providing superbly presented insight into human nature in the form of word images portraying emotional landscapes that are as fresh today as they were thirty years ago when he first penned them – and were subsequently suppressed by the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Each poem is presented side-by-side in both Spanish and English. 'The Back of the Hand': You offer me and I take you in motion,/round, soft, rocking side to side as on a white/swing, completely filled with mystery, so much so/that your steep cliff develops into a deep angle/and I begin to dig my dream.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

The Ballad Of King George And Other Poems
Dan Lightsey
Abecedarian Books, Inc.
2817 Forest Glen Drive, Baldwin, MD 21013
0976310678, $9.99 1-877-782-2221

Ranging from the lyrical to the narrative, "The Ballad Of King George And Other Poems" provides a perfect showcase for Dan Lightsey's verse arising from his experiences, insights, and lessons as he journeyed on the path to personal salvation. These are poems arising from the realities of his youthful transgressions and ultimate redemption, which speak of the jailhouse and other aspects of his personal biography. Forged from harsh experience and astute observation, and ably presented in a grand oral tradition, "The Ballad of King George And Other Poems" is strongly recommended and rewarding reading. 'The Cross': the Cross is the crux of the universe, And the epitome of wisdom;/The fulcrum on which truth rests and turns./While knaves twist, and fools resist its simplicity;/Philosophical isms, and jazzmen's riffs,/Religious schisms, and Kipling's Ifs,/Are swallowed by its profundity.

A Voice In The Wilderness
Mathew Tenon
Quercus Books
271 Seale Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301
0961430451, $14.95

The poetry of the late Mathew Tenon (1914-2003) has been carefully compiled and published by Sue Kemp and presented to an appreciative readership as "A Voice In The Wilderness". This very highly recommended compilation of verse draws from Mathew Tenon's earlier published work, "Belief of the Stranger" (A.S. Barnes, 1961) and includes extensively edited work from that earlier volume, as well as many new poems written subsequently by Tenon. This is a plain spun but elegant verse that addresses thoughts and feelings that will be commonly recognized and uncommonly expressed. 'Lockless': Lay up good riches within your brows,/then may they be close to hand/And sure to keep,/Such a chest is not hid in the dark/Nor made heavy and ponderous,/Jauntily it carries your fortune/Among glitter or ruin/Among power and crush/through shallows and black forests,/A treasure box never lost.

The Long Black Veil
Robert Cooperman
Higganum Hill Books
PO Box 666, Higganum, CT 06441-0666
Independent Publishers Group, distributor
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
097765561X, $12.95 1-800-888-4741

The author of four previous poetry collections, "The Long Black Veil" is the newest compendium of poetry showcasing the talent and skill of Robert Cooperman. His finely crafted and highly recommended verse showcases a human condition experienced with passion, betrayal, jealousy, and all the fabled faults of ordinary people. The kinds of poetry-imaged storytelling that in former times provided the basis for mountain ballads and folk songs. 'The Lady in the Long Black Veil Takes Revenge': When he snarled/his new demands,/I shut my eyes/like a child afraid/of midnight monsters.//He shoved me to the ground,/fell on me, so distracted/with fumbling at his britches,//he didn't notice/I'd grabbed a rock/and hit him with it,/again and again and again,/in a shrieking frenzy.//He collapsed, heavy/as a fallen armoire./Oh, it took Satan's own effort/to squirm free and bury him.//Now, worry wolfs my heart/his corpse will be discovered,/or that I didn't finish the brute,/or worst: his ghost will walk/with filthy, outstretched palms.

The Tunnel: Selected Poems
Russell Edson
Oberlin College Press
Rice Hall, Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH 44074
0932440657, $16.95

Russell Edson is an accomplished master of prose poetry. Each of his poems are complete presentations of his uniquely expressed verse that has earned him the respect of his peers, academia, and readers. "The Tunnel: Selected Poems" draws from the poet's own chosen favorites among the seven previously published collections of his work and will aptly serve to introduce his originality and expertise to a whole new generation of appreciative readers. 'The Large Thing': A large thing comes in./Go out, Large Thing, says someone./The Large Thing goes out, and comes in again./Go out, Large Thing, and stay out, says someone./The large Thing goes out, and stays out./Then that same someone who has been ordering the Large Thing out/begins to be lonely, and says, come in Large Thing./But when the Large Thing is in, that same someone decides it would be/better if the Large Thing would go out./Go out, Large Thing, says this same someone./The Large Thing goes out./Oh, why did I say that? Says the someone, who begins to be lonely again./But meanwhile the Large Thing has come back in anyway./Good, I was just about to call you back, says the same someone to the Large Thing.

Paul T. Vogel

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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