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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 6, Number 1 January 2007 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Bogstad's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf Klausner's Bookshelf
Laurel's Bookshelf Mary's Bookshelf Shelley's Bookshelf
Shirley's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf Vogel's Bookshelf

Bogstad's Bookshelf

The Wesleyan Early Classics of Science Fiction series is providing readers with a host of re-translated precursors to modern science fiction, correcting some of the bad translations and abridgements of past editions and bringing to light works that have either never been translated or have been out of print for many decades. Below are described two works in the ongoing series. Several more Verne works are represented in the series, with more to come. In both cases, that of Balzac and Verne, this work was much needed and is obviously a labor of love for translators and commentators. We can look forward to more of these excellent works. Janice M. Bogstad, U of Wisconsin-Eau Claire McIntyre Library.

Centenarian Or, the Two Beringhelds
Honore de Balzac (writing as Horace St. Aubin, 1822)
trans. by Daniele Chatelaine and George Slusser
Wesleyan University Press
0819567973 $29.95

Readers of French 19th century literature, devotees of Balzac and historians of science fiction will be very interested in this book as well as others that have been completed (some of them translations of complete editions of Verne's works, see The Begum's Millions, below) and are planned in the "Wesleyan Early Classics of Science Fiction." Admittedly, there are many ways in which it is obvious that this novel is an early book in Balzac's illustrious writing career. The plot is a mishmash of stories in different time frames and only loosely linked by two confusedly drawn characters, the two Beringhelds – Centenarian father and somewhat more noble, illegitimate son. The main value of this book itself is that it is the only translation in English, but also that it is accompanied by well-researched information on the novel's origins and it's place in the corpus of Balzac's entire body of works. Especially interesting is the crucial analysis by the translators, Slusser and Chatelain, but the many notes to the text and the introduction about the publishing history of THIS particular text are also very useful. On its own, I doubt the book would hold a modern reader's attention, and the critics, Slusser and Chatelain are very careful to identify it as an early work written for hire, repudiated later by the author, and probably not read by any of the writers whose work demonstrate some of the early positions on sciences in fiction, such as Verne, Mary Shelly, etc.

This is something I would buy as a critic, scholar and a sort of completetist – because I know the reputation of the editors, translators and the significance of the series, but it's neither a good Gothic, adventure nor Science Fiction story, with elements of all of them. And the story is very disjointed – a sort of imitation of an imitation of a Diary story. Nevertheless, the translators have done a very good job of both translating and explaining carefully which strategies they used and why, very useful to a scholarly reader of a translation.

This scholarly translation of an obscure, early work by the famous 19th century succeeds more as an exemplar than a story. The translators of this newest "Wesleyan Early Classics" title have provided a wealth of supplementary detail about this work's place in the author's writing career, as well as his interest in 19th century biology, and philosophical concepts that preoccupied the author in his later work. The story is somewhat disjointed, being a sort of Gothic horror and romance tale, but also comparable to its more popular contemporary, Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. The two Beringhelds are the monstrous father (born 1450) and his illegitimate son (born 1780). The later grows up to become a much-decorated general in Napoleon's army. In the frame story, Tullius Beringheld (the younger) searches the Centenarian, (Immortal one, a very much older man), "an extraordinary being of gigantic height." The General's diaries form the main story, and detail the source of the Centenarian's powers in a sort of science requiring the life-essence be retrieved, through an alchemical process, from young people, usually young girls and sometimes dying soldiers. Their almost-meetings are punctuated with love stories, including that of Tullius and the innocent, Marianne, love of his youth whom he rescues from the Centenarian after they've been separated for many years. This improbable tale reveals a writer seeking a voice and will appeal especially to those interested in the early history of science fiction and its origins in French popular literature of the 19th century.

The Begum's Millions
Jules Verne
translated by Stanford Luce
Wesleyan U Press
0819567965 $29.95

Fourth of Verne's newly-translated works in the "Wesleyan Early Classics of Science Fiction" series is Verne's cautionary tale. Originally, inexpertly translated in 1879, its plot concerns human failings in the face of both wealth and scientific progress. The introduction, notes, bibliography and commentary by Luce, Evans and Schulman are perhaps more vital to this volume as they establish its historical context, after the French defeat by Germany in 1870, and it's pivotal point in Verne's writing career. Forty-three black-and-white illustrations further enhance the authenticity of presentation. Instead of valorizing progress, Verne's usual stance, the novel presents contested definitions of the utopian impulse to reform human nature. Two scientists, the benevolent, modest Frenchman, Dr. Sarrasin and the egotistical German, Herr Schultze, find that they share a large inheritance, 5 million francs left by a French ancestor who married East-Indian royalty. They use the money to realize two 'utopian' cities. Verne carefully presents the hygienic, peaceful, rational city France-Ville of Dr. Sarrasin as a haven for enlightened, cooperative citizens. City of Steel, the industrialized hell of Herr Schultze, with strictly-regulated worker, is under his sole control. With its resources, he plots the destruction of France-Ville as his first act in ensuring the subjugation of all inferior, non-Saxon races. But the effect is generally dystopian, a regimented and regulated lifestyle, be it industrial or hygienic. The work is also full of racial and personal stereotypes, long paragraphs explaining technological, social and scientific projects, unmediated by Verne's usual humor or adventure plots. Thus translation and the novel itself will be most attractive to the literary completist.

This new translation brings to light the cautionary side of Verne's explorations of technological innovation. Originally, and very inexpertly, translated in 1879, soon after it's publication in French, the title may not have received as much attention because its core is human failings in the face of both wealth and scientific progress, not journeys to fantastic locations. The expert introduction, notes, bibliography and commentary by Luce, Evans and Schulman are perhaps more vital to this volume than the earlier three as they establish it's historical context, after the French loss of Alsace-Lorraine to Germany in 1870, and at a pivotal point in Verne's writing career. Instead of valorizing progress as in his earlier novels, it presents contested definitions of the utopian impulse. Contrasting a city built on the industrial prowess and exactitude of late 19th-century Germany with one organized around emerging conceptions of 'mental' and physical hygiene and championed by a French biological scientist, it actually presents the dystopian of attempts to turn the diversity of human intent and ability into a regimented and regulated lifestyle be it industrial or hygienic. Two scientists, the benevolent, modest Dr. Sarassin and the egotistical Herr Schultze find that they share a large inheritance, 5 million francs left by a French ancestor who married Indian royalty. They choose to realize their utopian drams by creating cities. Verne is careful to present the hygienic, peaceful, rational city France-Ville, enacted by the modest scientist, Dr. Sarrasin, as an enlightened vision for enlightened and cooperative citizens. Its successes are set against the industrialized hell of the German Herr Schultze whose workers are both regulated and isolated, who shares control with no one and plots the destruction of France-Ville as his first act in ensuring that all inferior races will fall under the very appropriate control of the superior Saxon race, of which he is a member. While an interesting premise, and disturbingly prophetic in it's depiction of Germany's future wars of conquest as well as the ease with which the American stock exchange can implode, the work is nevertheless full of stereotypes of racial stereotypes, and not just of French and German, but also much less flattering of Chinese 'coolies'. As if the emphasize the human over the political, Verne ends the novel not with the ultimate financial destruction of Stahlstat (city of Steel) but with a love story, of Sarrasin's protege, an Alsatian named Marcel Bruckmann, who is the major engineer of Schultze's end and Sarrasin's successes.

Professor Janice M. Bogstad
Senior Reviewer

Dunford's Bookshelf

Digital Photography: Click, Then What?
Chuck Clifton
Maple Canyon Co.
PO Box 565, Mapleton, UT 84663-0565
097871640X $19.95

Digital photography is now the preferred choice for amateur and professional photographers alike. But for the novice, the simple 'point and click' process can become confusing once the picture is snapped. "Digital Photography: Click, Then What?" by computer expert and digital photography enthusiast Chuck Clifton is a thoroughly 'user friendly', step-by-step, 88-page instruction that teaches just what to do to organize, modify, print, share, use, preserve, and transmit your photos from the camera to the computer to the printer. The simple text and highly illustrated format will get any digital camera operator up and running in no time. These same instructions will allow anyone to scan and obtained digital photography benefits for those old film photos, slides and negatives piling up in photo albums, boxes, drawers, and attics. Whether you are a beginner or have some previous experience with digital photography, Chuck Clifton's "Digital Photography: Click, Then What?" will easily get you started and readily expand your capabilities in making and using digital photographic images.

Essence Of A Land
Tim Hauf
Tim Hauf Photography
PO Box 1241, Kingston, WA 98346
0972074384 $47.50

Featuring 228 photos by Tim Hauf, "Essence Of A Land: South African And its World Heritage Sites showcases seven memorable sites of significance and beauty. Max du Preez provides an accompanying text for Hauf's superb photographic images of Vredefort Dome (the biggest known crater on earth caused by an ancient asteroid); the Cradle of Humankind (an site denoting early hominids and the development of the human species over the past 3.5 million years); the Cape Floral Kingdom; the Khahlamba/Drakensberg National Park; Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape (telling the story of the first great kingdom of back farming groups in southern Africa more than six hundred years ago); the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park (with its sandy beaches, coastal dunes, lake systems, and wetlands); and Robben Island (perhaps the most powerful symbol of South Africa's long history of repression and resistance). Ideal for armchair travelers with an interest in seeing what the nation of South Africa has to offer, "Essence Of A Land" is especially commended to the attention of anyone planning a business or vacation trip to this diverse and rapidly growing African nation.

Fine Art Printing For Photographers
Uwe Steinmueller & Juergen Gulbins
Rocky Nook Inc.
26 West Mission Street, Suite 3, Santa Barbara, CA 932101
1933952008 $44.95

The collaborative work of Uwe Steinmueller and Juergen Gulbins, "Fine Art Printing For Photographers: Exhibition Quality Prints With Inkjet Printers"is a superbly organized and presented instruction guide for anyone using current digital technology as a photographer or graphic artist. Whether a novice amateur or a seasoned professional, "Fine Art Printing For Photographers" will prove to be of immense and practical value in mastering the process of taking a digital image and turning it into a fine art print. Profusely illustrated and thoroughly 'user friendly', "Fine Art Printing For Photographers" presents current printing techniques; inks, paper, and permanence; color management fine art printing workflow; printer selection, installation, and fine-tuning; printing applications and RIPs; black and white printing; image quality evaluation; and even presentation and portfolio development. Anyone wanting to work at the cutting edge of digitally sourced fine art printing should avail themselves of a copy of "Fine Art Printing For Photographers".

Michael Dunford

Klausner's Bookshelf

First Murder in Advent
Sharon Wildwind
Five Star
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

Dead of Winter
Don D'Ammassa
Five Star
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
1594144958 $25.95 1-800-223-1244

Her marriage proved a disaster as her husband turned into a chameleon after they exchanged I do; so when Sean Brennan died, Laura Collier did not mourn her loss. Instead she leaves Vermont to return to her hometown of Dorrance. Her bossy mother Mary expects her to return to her farm, but Laura refuses having had enough clashes with her iron-willed mom in the past. Instead she takes residence in the family log cabin upsetting mom who keeps the pressure up for her to come home. Meanwhile someone stalks Laura and goes so far as trying to shoot her in the dark. Her only friend in town Ashley Sothern, who welcomed her home, vanishes. While Officer Dan Sievert is attracted to Laura and her to him, he does not believe her tale of someone wanting her dead so she investigates her past starting with the abandonment of her father years ago and the present vanishing of Ashley on her own. DEAD OF WINTER is an exhilarating thriller that slowly introduces the audience to the beleaguered heroine and her steel magnolia mom while painting a clear picture of the remoteness of the town. As the action begins to pick up relatively early, readers begin to learn more about why her father vanished without even a goodbye especially tied together with the shocking twisting, but over the top Everest climax. Fans of women in peril from unknown predators will enjoy Don D'Ammassa's entertaining thriller even with an unbelievable ending.

Blue Devil Island
Stephen Mark Rainey
Five Star
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
1594144427 $25.95 1-800-223-1244

The year is 1943 and Lieutenant commander Drew McLachlan along with his pilots who are flying in their new F6F-3 Hellcat land on their new base of operations on Conquest Island in the Solomon Island chain in the South Pacific. Their mission is the push the Japanese off Bougainville and the patriotic Navy pilots run many necessary and down many enemy aircraft. They should feel joyous because they are not losing too many men or planes but conditions on Conquest are slowly deteriorating. The men hear noises in the jungle yet flyover shows no tribe has ever lived there. In the cave where the aviation fuel is stored, a rumbling is heard. Beast men attack the marines and pilots and a monster is seen on top of the mountain. It is getting into the military men's thoughts and Drew believes it is intelligent and evil just like the beast men with their clawed hands, unusual jaw formation and other abnormities but are intelligent and in league with the monster. Between the Japanese attacking the island and the native monsters on it, Drew wonders if any of the men will make it out alive. This is a horror novel reminiscent of the black and white terror novels of the 1950's. Stephen Mark Raines pays homage to Lovecraft in BLUE DEVIL ISLAND, an action packed thriller that slowly reveals the truth about the beast-men and the monster. The patriotism and courage of the military stationed on the island enables readers to understand why the Greatest Generation enlisted and were willing to die for the ideals their country stands for; the audience hopes they can defeat the enemy from within and without.

Witch Faith
Narelle M. Harris
Five Star
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
1594144680 $25.95 1-800-223-1244

A millennium ago, a colony ship landed on the planet and after a time, some of the passengers was able to perform magic. A religious schism divided the colonists into two groups: the Leylites who worship the Earth-mother and revere the witches and the Priests of the Arc who worship the First King and his Lords (the pilot and his crew). When a civil war broke out, it was in large part due to the King regaining his throne after the coup. Magda, the leader of the witches, who was a Sol Fleet doctor before she crashed on the planet, combines her medical skill with magic. The witches are talented and cherished in Tyne, but many people also fear them. The nation of Marin Kuta bans witches and closed its borders so none can enter. When it is learned that a space craft landed there, Magda and her three witch companions journey into Tyne because her friends need advanced medical attention that she cannot provide. The closer they get to their destination, the deadlier the anti witch fervor is. Magda knows she must persuade the ship's captain that magic is real and also end the schism that hurts everyone. Readers who enjoy the "Warlock Who ..." tales will appreciate this fine science fiction fantasy. Magda becomes the bridge between the two approved religions as her medical skill and her magic abilities enable her to keep a foot in both worlds. Narelle M. Harris is a strong world builder who provides intricate details on religion and culture in a feudal system that came about in order to survive. The divisiveness of the crew and the splinter between the two prime groups leads to a powerful sometimes violent fantasy thriller with sic fi overtones.

Teagan Oliver
Five Star
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
1594145512 $26.95 1-800-223-1244

The explosion on a boat killed his best friend, Coast Guard Special Investigation Unit partner David while leaving Jamie Rivard physically battered and mentally worse. The Coast Guard places Jamie on sick leave while he heals. However, his Commanding Officer McAlvey says that there is evidence that David illegally sold guns and if Jamie wants to quietly and unofficially investigate to prove otherwise he should. Jamie travels to Chandler, Maine where he obtains work with John Case, who is the prime suspect in the weapons trafficking. He also meets John's niece harbormaster Shelby Teague, whose husband died on the ocean which her brother apparently emulates the recklessness of her late spouse. As Jamie begins to uncover the shocking truth, he and Shelby fall in love, but neither seems to trust the other with the full truth while a behind the scenes Machiavelli type manipulates everyone involved. OBSIDIAN is an entertaining investigative romantic suspense that hooks readers with the boat explosion that kills David and severely injures Jamie. The relationship between the lead couple enhances Jamie's inquiries because he does not trust her as she obviously is loyal to and loves her Uncle John, his prime suspect while she has doubts about men with secrets especially after the escapades of her spouse and new her brother. Though the criminal mastermind seems over the moon, readers will enjoy accompanying Jamie as he explore coastal Maine seeking the truth about his late partner and his heart.

Cold Lessons
Michael McCulloch
Five Star
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
1594145245 $25.95 1-800-223-1244

In 1969 in Garden City, Montana Gil Strickland, an idealist, was named teacher of the year who made his classroom a fun learning experience. Eighteen years later and almost three decades as a teacher has destroyed his ideals as he is a baby sitter not an instructor; coming to work at Porte l'Enfer High School sober quite an ordeal. His lack of caring endangers his job as Vice Principal Flannel warns him to shape up or else. The school is shook when cheerleader Kristen Swales dies under the influence of drugs by crashing her car. Teacher Dick Simsonsen, who has always placed Gil on a pedestal, tells him he was having an affair with Kristen, which shocks the alcoholic, but fits his belief that moral decay is the norm. However when Kristen's friend Maria sneezes and blood shoots out of her nose, something inexplicable inside Gil resurfaces: a need to help his students. He begins to investigate the drug cartel preying on the local students over the objection of his travel writer wife of over three decades Lolita, but soon finds himself wondering if the red pen is mightier than the sword, make those guns. COLD LESSONS starts off as a well written gloomy deep character study of how far an idealistic caring person can fall when the optimistic armor is destroyed. Towards the middle of the intense story line, Gil converts into a born again needing to save the world one student at a time. However, the latter half of the story line is more an amateur sleuth thriller though the audience will still have some insight into the crusader who as he did in his youth is willing to risk all for his beliefs.

Double Dead
Terry Hoover
Five Star
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
1594145873 $25.95 1-800-223-1244

In 1961 Charlotte, North Carolina, defense attorney George Warren hires former reporter turned private sleuth Steve Harlan to help him with his case defending his client State Mutual Bank President John Lattimore accused of killing his mistress Delores Green. Lattimore confessed to bringing home the corpse of Delores, but insists he did not kill her. He also admits that he bullied her thirteen years old son Greg to cover for him. The Medical Examiner states that a homicide occurred as the victim had over two hundred bruises on her body. Having lost his father when he was ten, Steve detests Lattimore for his treatment of Greg, but conducts his inquiries in a professional manner. His best witness to affirm Lattimore's contention that Delores had the bruises two days before she died, auto mechanic Jack Cotter vanished. Her friends paint a diverse picture of her as one insists she abused alcohol while another insisted she detested alcohol and drugs. As Steve digs deeper, someone threatens his beloved wife Susie and their two preadolescent children in order to force him to back off from learning the truth. This is an enjoyable historical legal thriller with much of the story line focusing in on Steve's investigation. Like Steve, readers will wonder why Lattimore moved the body and put undo pressure on a young teen. All that accomplished was to make him look guiltier. Readers will enjoy the hero as he overcomes his gut loathing of Lattimore to uncover the truth behind the death of the rich man's mistress.

Retirement Homes Are Murder
Mike Befeler
Five Star
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
1594145156 $25.95 1-800-223-1244

In Hawaii, crusty octogenarian Paul Jacobson resides at the Kina Nani assisted living retirement home, but has trouble remembering anything that has occurred recently for instance how he got there. At breakfast he meets two other residents, Asperser sufferer Henry Palmer, who knows every baseball stat imaginable and blind Meyer O'Hanna who suggests Paul write everything down in a journal each night so he can use this as a reminder when he forgets everything the next morning. When Paul goes to throw out garbage, he finds the chute stuffed with the corpse of a neighbor Mr. Tiegan. Detective Siato thinks Paul is the prime suspect as the victim was suing him over stealing valuable stamps. Encouraged by Meyer and assisted by Henry, Paul investigates to the chagrin of his visiting son, the lead detective, and the killer. The geriatric trio makes for a delightful amateur sleuth thriller. Paul's short term memory problems makes everyday living let alone the issues he faces that much more difficult; Meyer's solution to the memory loss and other intelligent advice helps Paul with more than just his inquiry; whereas Henry knows baseball stats perhaps better than even the Schwab does (though I doubt he can Stump the Schwab in other sports). This combination makes for a delightful geriatric investigative tale that cozy fans will appreciate.

The Rancher's Heart
C.H. Admirand
Five Star
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
1594145717 $26.95 1-800-223-1244

In the 1860s in the Colorado Territory, Michael O'Toole vanished leaving behind his wife Bridget who believed he would return for her and their infant son Mick. She moved from town to town where everyone assumed she was a fallen woman. After a dozen years pass without her spouse's return or any word from him, Bridget finally accepts she is a widow raising a son by herself. To feed her growing offspring, Bridget starves herself so a worried Mick joins a gang of cattle rustlers only to be caught by the marshal and rancher James Ryan. Instead of hanging the lad, James takes a chance that the twelve year old is not a thief, but a desperate person. He invites mother and son onto his ranch, but she fears her reputation will destroy her host's due to guilt by association. Still as they fall in love, encouraged by a preadolescent, his Texas "criminal" roots and her marital status threaten anything permanent. THE RANCHER'S HEART is a terrific western romance starring two likable protagonists with pasts that impact the present and how they relate to other adults. The story line is character driven though there is plenty of action especially in the latter half of this late 1870s tale. Though the ending feels abrupt and too neatly packaged, sub-genre fans will enjoy C. H. Admirand's wonderful historical due to the admirable courageous lead couple.

Letters from Lydia
Kent Kamron
Five Star
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
1594145288 $26.95 1-800-223-1244

Seven years after the Civil War ended mentally unbalanced former POW William Pearlman, a widower, commits suicide leaving behind his sixteen year old daughter Lydia, whom he failed to recognize once he came home to Grundy, West Virginia. Lydia, though shocked, has no time to grieve as she leaves immediately for St. Louis to live with her Aunt Almetta Boggs. Almetta makes it clear from the start that her niece will earn her keep. Meanwhile the Gateway City seems initially a haven for the rural rube, but her naivete leaves her heartbroken as people even family take advantage of her kindness. A betrayal leaves her bereft and feeling that she does not belong here. Deciding to leave the big city, Lydia heads west to the Dakotas seeking to find a place where she belongs; instead calamity and misfortune is all she seems to find. Although discouraged a bit, the intrepid young woman continues her journey to find happiness. This is an interesting historical character study starring a determined woman not willing to allow hard knocks to keep her down as she believes she will find someone to cherish and someplace to call home. The story line contains twenty-five letters that Lydia writes to friends and teachers encouraging her to be all that she can be; the correspondence adds to the sense of time and place while also giving the insightful plot a Reconstruction Era biographical fictional feel. Kent Kamron pens LETTERS FROM LYDIA that fans of Americana tales will appreciate.

Kissing Sin
Keri Arthur
Dell Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
055358846X $6.99 1-800-726-0600

On an earth where supernatural species like vampires and werewolves exist, the Directorate of Other Races polices the paranormal and the guardians are the ones who act as judges, jury, and executioner. Rhoan and Riley are fraternal half-vampire-half werewolf twins who work for the Directorate, he as a guardian and she is a liaison. Her boss wants her to be a guardian but she doesn't want to be an assassin who kills whenthe situation calls for it. Riley wakes up on what she later learns is a breeding ground where gene manipulation, cloning and creating cross-species is practiced even though it is against the law. They want Riley because she is one of the few cross species that survived. She escapes with the help of a horse shifter and finds herself plunged into the heart of the Directorate investigation to find and stop the people who are conducting such research. She barely escapes with her life after attacks by various species thanks to the vampire, who wants to sire children on her and in exchange gives her information about the people she seeks. Riley is determined to stop them so the attacks on her life will end and she can go back to the normal. Keri Arthur is one of the best authors of paranormal romances writing today and fans of her works will compare her to Laurel K. Hamilton, and Kelly Armstrong. The heroine is a strong willed woman who accepts her nature and tells men who can't accept her for what she is to take a hike. KISSING SIN is a fast paced action packed romantic fantasy that takes place on an earth so descriptive readers will feel they must have visited it.

Surviving Demon Island
Jaci Burton
Dell Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0440243351 $6.99 1-800-726-0600

Action adventure movie star Gina Bliss has just completed her latest movie as always doing her own stunts when her agent informs her she has been invited to compete on a reality TV show, SURVIVING DEMON ISLAND, which she accepts. On a boat in the middle of the ocean heading to an isolated island, Gina meets the producer Lou, her five opponents and obnoxious technical advisor Derek, who makes it plain he expects the actress to go home first On the isle, Derek and Gina bet on physical conditioning in which they trek through the jungle; near the finish line, Gina trips Derek to win the contest. On a trek in the jungle, they are attacked by stuntmen pretending to be demons; Gina and two teammates defeat their opponents. On the second day, real demons attack Gina's team. She leads the counterattack just before Derek arrives at the scene. They win the fight, but know this was real. Lou explains that there is no survivor show, demons are real, and he, as the Keeper of the Realm of Light, is seeking new recruits. Lou further explains that demons evolve and live in major cities, but not sure why they are here on this remote island. As they struggle to survive, Derek and Gina fall in love, but a shocker awaits both of them. This is a wild paranormal romantic thriller that has enough tongue in cheek to make for a fine action adventure tale. The relationship between the lead couple is terrific and complex while the strong support cast including the teammates and the demons enhance the thrills and chills of a fun story line with a terrific surprising final twist. Though why Lou selected a celebrity like Gina even if he knows she is skilled when he avoids publicity sees odd, Jaci Burton provides a delightful Beauty vs. the Beast tale with the hero's brother up next.

Bride and Doom
Deborah Donnelly
Dell Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0440242851 $6.99 1-800-726-0600

Wedding planner Carnegie Kincaid is thrilled to be engaged to reporter Aaron Gold but at the moment she is more involved with the McKinny/Gutierrez wedding. The groom is a player for the Seattle Navigators and just broke the record for home runs in a single season; the bride is the lead singer in the Goth rock group Honey Hel and the Fiends. The Navigators management is paying for all the wedding festivities and Carnegie is thrilled to be up close and personal with her teen-age crush Rob Harmon. At the engagement party Boris, renowned floral designer, gets into a fight with vicious sports journalist Digger Duvall when he insults Carnegie. Later she finds Boris standing over the dead and bloody body of Digger, a bloody baseball bat in his hands. The police arrest him but Carnegie knows he is innocent and since his own lawyer thinks he is guilty she starts sleuthing trying to clear his name. Someone doesn't want her involved as her new house is broken into and she is mugged but that just makes her more determined to find the killer, a decision that almost gets her killed. It is always fun to see the craziness that is involved in preparing for someone else's wedding, but add in an odd murder and amateur sleuthing to the mix and readers will have a totally entertaining mystery drama to sink their teeth into. Deborah Donnelly can always be counted on to write a wonderful amateur sleuth tale that focuses on a protagonist who is an average person who happens to like solving murder investigations. She's unique independent and totally delightful as she charms the audience who root for her every step of the way.

Come The Night
Angelique Armae
Imajinn Books
PO Box 545, Canon City, CO 81215-0545
193341717X $14.00

In 476 Ad near Rome, the desperate widow Octavia introduces her half-breed son Lazerus to his grandfather Romulus the Vampyre. She wants her sire to save his grandson's life for if he refuses Lazerus will join his father a fallen angel in death or become a demon. Reluctantly as he had not done with his mortal daughter, Romulus agrees to convert Lazerus to a life as an undead under the stipulation that he change Octavia too so she can teach him the way of the Nazarene as he has followed. With an heir, a weary Romulus can enter the sun. In 1095 Ireland Lazerus is married to a tracker Neomina, keeper of sacred holy icons. Lazerus leads his vampyric New Breed, but he knows the prophecy is coming that his grandfather explained to his mother five centuries ago. The demons that destroyed Rome are back to finish the job with the only hope for Lazerus and his tribe to survive let alone win is his wife, but she remains unaware of her power. COME THE NIGHT is a delightful paranormal romantic thriller that will give immense pleasure to fans of horror, romance, and suspense. Historical tidbits and religious elements enhance the exciting story line. The cast is deep and the key members so developed that angels, vampyres, trackers, and demons seem almost everyday normal though the adventures are not. Angelique Armae provides a powerful vampyric romance that will fully entertain across the genres.

Killing Spree
Kevin O'Brien
Pinnacle (Kensington)
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0786017759 $6.99 1-800-345-2665

Gillian McBride is a Seattle-based published author with five thriller books to her credit and even though she is pleased to be in print, she is not a happy person. Her husband Barry walked out on her and their son to avoid being killed by people he borrowed money from to support his gambling habit; these loan sharks periodically come around looking in her mail and garbage for a clue to the whereabouts of Barry. On top of that her son is going through an identity crisis because he is attracted to males yet doesn't want to be labeled gay. A series of murders starts in New York City where a woman was stabbed to death in a taxi by a man wearing a Zorro costume. A man picks up a hitchhiker, drugs him, and murders him and surgically removes his lover jaw and heart in Billings, Montana. In Chicago, a woman is killed in a department store dressing room. All of these scenarios are found in Gillian's novels and the killer finds various ways of informing her of each killings. As the killer gets closer and closer to Gillian's loved ones, she puts her life on the line to stop him from killing again. Thriller readers are going to thoroughly enjoy KILLING SPREE, a tale with many sub-plots that tie seamlessly into the main storyline. There is so much action that the audience never gets a chance the catch their breath. The heroine, who is besieged on all sides, is a strong willed person, who never even whines or whimpers when life gets difficult; instead she rises to the occasion to cope with her latest crisis. Kevin O' Brien provides a strong thriller.

Blind Fear
Lynn Abercrombie
Pinnacle (Kensington)
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0786017287 $6.99 1-800-345-2665

Atlanta Police Detective MeChelle Deakes of the Cold Case Unit wakes up to find her eyelids superglued shut leaving her disoriented and clueless as to why she was abducted. The bewildered cop believes she is also in a soundproof room. At the same time that MeChelle vanished, her new partner Cody Floss goes to her retired former partner Lieutenant Hank Gooch with his concerns about her. Cody explains that Lane Priest came to the precinct to talk to them about who killed and raped her mother because she was hiding under the bed at the time of the tragedy. However, Lane is blind, but insists she can identify the culprit from his voice. Hank and Deakes are given thirteen hours to track down the killer of Lane's mother and find evidence that will convict the murderer in court or MeChelle will die. Hank blackmails the mayor to bring him officially back on duty and immediately afterward he and MeChelle investigate a strange serpentine trail of clues that seemingly lead to nowhere, but hopefully to a killer. Though the murderer and the kidnapper seem impossible to figure out, this treasure hunt investigation is a fun Atlanta joy ride as the police duo struggle to uncover the identity of the rapist killer. The action-packed story line grips the reader from the opening scene in which the heroine cannot open her eyes and never slows down as one clue leads to another. Lynn Abercrombie provides a strong suspense tale that will lead police procedural fans seeking out the Deakes-Gooch previous saga, The Body Box.

The Sex on the Beach Book Club
Jennifer Apodaca
Kensington Brava
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758214502 $14.00 1-800-345-2665

In Goleta, California, private investigator Holly Hillbay enjoys her vocation especially when she can kick the butt of a cheating male though realistically the money is in the tedious background checks. Currently she is frustrated with men ever since her former fiance Brad the cad stole her best paying client from her. So she plans to fully take pleasure in exposing cheating Wes Brockman, owner of Books on the Beach. Her client Phil Shaker believes his wife Tanya is sleeping with Wes using the book club as a pretense. Holly goes undercover by joining the book club, but quickly concludes the hunk is not doing it with his client's spouse though she might be cheating with one of the other members like Cullen. She also believes Wes is hiding something so unable to resist she makes inquiries into his secret while her chip on her shoulder (and the rest of her body) demands a tryst with him on the beach. She also begins investigating Cullen even as the case spins out of control with a homicide in the bookstore ending the cheating Tanya's extramarital affair. This is a terrific private investigator romance that is fun to read as in your face Holly takes no prisoners while trying to uncover the truth that seems to keep twisting on her (and the audience) with every clue she uncovers. The story line is fast-paced and filled with red herrings. Though Holly's abrupt manner can be irritating as we got the message except if you are Wes, fans of romantic mysteries will appreciate this fine tale that starts with WICKED WOMEN WHODUNIT and never slows down until the final on the beach encounter.

Who Wants to Be a Sex Goddess?
Gemma Bruce
Kensington Brava
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
075821622X $14.00 1-800-345-2665

The four evil genies demand that Ariadne McAllister go undercover to learn what happened to her Aunt Mac who never came home from her three weeks at obtaining the "eternal orgasm" at the Terra Bliss sex goddess spa in the Lake Tahoe Mountains. Her mom, her two siblings and their housekeeper insist they are too busy so since she finished shooting she is the only one available to investigate. The stuntwoman begs for time off as she worked hard on location, but knows she will be driving immediately to Tahoe as mousy Miss Marple. Investigator Dillon Cross is working undercover as a male slave; make that attendant, at Terra Bliss as he investigates a homicide of a wealthy patron of the Goddess International crowd. He notices two things upon arrival at Terra Bliss; the guards are armed to do more than keep out bears and how sexy the mouse Ariadne is. He is her personal attendant and just touching her accidentally gave his groin a rush he has not felt since high school. As each make inquires while hiding their investigation from the other, both deny the attraction that heats the mountains to equatorial temperatures. WHO WANTS TO BE A SEX GODDESS? is an amusing charmer in which the suspense comes late as the lead couple meets and hides their undercover activities by under cover activities. The lead couple is a delightful pairing as both deny their feelings while distrusting the other with their not so hidden agenda as they trip over one another while making inquiries. Fans who appreciate lighthearted but hot satirical romantic mysteries will want to read Gemma Bruce's lampooning of the sub-genre.

The Stranger I Married
Sylvia Day
Kensington Brava
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
075821474X $14.00 1-800-345-2665

In 1815 Lady Isabel Pelham and Lord Gerard Faulkner agree on a marriage of convenience as friends in which they can continue to pursue their "outside interests". She would remain Markham's mistress and he would continue to dally with Lady Sinclair, who carries his offspring. Months later he learns from his nasty mother that his beloved Emily died giving birth to his stillborn offspring. Shocked as he loved the married Emily, Gerald flees England. Four years later, Gerard returns to London no longer the carefree youth who enjoyed scandal. Instead he is gloomy and demanding. He informs his wife that he wants a real marriage with her. Stunned Pel prefers her freedom though his kisses are like none she ever tasted before. As Gerard seduces his wife with rough sexual encounters, they fall in love; but neither will hand the power of that emotion to the other because trust outside of the bedroom remains lacking in their relationship. This is a fresh and very interesting regency romance that focuses on an older woman with a younger man scandalizing society when they married and more so when they fall in love. As a warning the hardball sex is graphic though well written and a major segment of the relationship that develops between this likable lead three dimensional (in and out of the boudoir) couple involves exploring sex. Sylvia Day spices up the sub-genre with her hot THE STRANGER I MARRIED historical relationship drama.

Not Quite a Bride
Kirsten Sawyer
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758216637 $12.95 1-800-345-2665

In high school, Molly Harrigan assumed that by the time she turned thirty, she would be married, own a home and have two kids to raise. Now that she is turning thirty, she remains single, a Manhattan renter, and has no kids to raise. Even worse is the fact she has no prospects as she has no boyfriend. Her younger sister Jamie, married to Bryson, is pregnant; her best friend Brad Lawson is engaged to the evil Claire Reilly. There is also Logan. She loves all three of them and wants the best for each, but what about her also getting her desires achieved? Though no male to call her own, Molly decides to have at least the wedding she always wanted by hiring an actor Justin to play the groom. He provides a perfect performance as her family and friends adore him especially her brother Logan. When Brad suddenly seems to wants his relationship ended, so does Logan for different reasons; still in his role Justin secretly agrees with both men. However, the complications of courtships make it seem inevitable that Molly will say I do to Justin even if it is staged. This is an amusing chick lit tale starring an incredibly fully developed support cast and a likable lead protagonist who just wants her soulmate to appear. The story line is fun to follow as the complications of the fake courtship makes it increasingly difficult to back out of it especially since everyone loves Justin. Though Claire is a selfish shrew, readers will enjoy the escapades of the extended Harrigan family.

You're Not the Boss of Me
Erika Schickel
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758215371 $12.95 1-800-345-2665

These twenty-five amusing essays reflect on family life starting with the proverb that "Unsafe sex is so hot" as author Erika Schickel and her spouse Doug remove the layers of protection to go skin on skin resulting in the positive blue line appearing on the home stationing kit. Each of the entries are insightful as Erika's womb contains a foreign insurgent who starts as the size of a microscopic pimple but nine plus months later is a whale until she sheds the pounds naturally with the birth of Georgia and the new role of tushi cleaner. Talk about insanity, she and Doug begin the process over again. This is a fun look at family from the perspective of the mother as Ms. Schickel turns Erma Bombeck inside out with the pits and cherries gone as only the bowl requiring cleaning is left behind. Fans of humorous insightful looks at the modern security momma will want to read YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME as the parents learn who rules the roost.

Will She or Won't She?
Sheila Norton
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758214146 $12.95 1-800-345-2665

Rosie is bored with her job, her marriage is blah, her kids take her for granted, and her social life is a big fat zero, but though she recognizes her ennui, she has no plans to change her lifestyle even if alluring and fascinating sound better than being called a "comfortable chair". Though everyone knows they can depend on pal Rosie, the most amenable soul on the planet, she wonders what happened to her needs as she is forty-four with no life. She decides to go for a radical makeover starting with her hair and clothing. She begins to look closely at what she wants from life including her husband, who seems to be going through the motions of a relationship. Rosie begins to ponder whether she needs a radical makeover of her marriage though the thought frightens her as she rests in her comfort zone; still she wonders if it is too late to fix things as both of them are in a rut. She considers ending her marriage as a key step if she is going to have any chance at happiness. Rosie is a terrific protagonist who feels a need to be more than Miss Dependable Congeniality as she does nothing for herself while always doing what others ask of her. The comfortable doormat encouraged by friend PJ finally realizes if she fails to change things soon, her life will be wasted. Readers will appreciate the heroine as she learns that one must set aside some quality time for him or herself even while carrying out responsibilities.

Drama High: The Fight
L. Divine
Kensington Dafina
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758216335 $14.95 1-800-345-2665

In Compton, California South Bay High School basketball star Kalvince Alonzo Jenkins, Jr., KJ for short, tells his girlfriend Jayd Jackson that they are through as he is making it with someone else willing to go all the way with him. She is upset, but with her close friends Nellie and Mickey at her side, she moves on past the disappointment of her love life being shattered. After working all summer at Simply Wholesome, Jayd returns to school hoping this year will be quieter and not another sentence at "Drama High", where she knows being an outsider bussed in means the locals assume she will steal from them. However, her former best friend Misty still has in for her and persuades KJ's current squeeze Trecee into challenging Jayd to a cat fight. Though uninterested in a fight or KJ, as she has found student Jeremy more fascinating and kinder than her ex though he is white, Jayd knows she has no choice if she is to attend school with her head held high by defending her honor. This is a captivating look at teen life at a middle class predominately white high school in which the star of the tale, Jayd, is bussed in along with about thirty other black students. Her insight into the drama of surviving high school is terrific as rivalries are the norm. Readers will appreciate the first Drama High tale starring a strong support cast and a heroine who just wants a quiet school year and wonders if that is asking too much?

Now Until Forever
Karen White-Owens
Kensington Dafina
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0758218788 $6.99 1-800-345-2665

In Los Angeles, One Leaf Studio Executive Keir Southall feels like a teen in heat when he first sees the woman walk by. He never felt his gut as tight as when he sees her smile for the first time. Keir wants that smile aimed at him. He learns she is a recently widowed highly regarded costume and set designer Ryan Mitchell, who just came under their studio's contract. Keir introduces himself to Mrs. Ryan Mitchell, who feels the same deep attraction that has the executive thinking raging hormones. Once he learns she is a widow, he wants an office romance with her, but she fears such a relationship will devastate her career as she will be labeled as a unprofessional whore. Still they cannot help but flirt with one another while their magnetic pull ignites into passion and ultimately love. However, his son from his former wife gets into a fight over Ryan's relationship with his dad leading to her reconsidering their relationship as she does not want the young man hurt. Readers can feel from the onset the attraction from a distance between the lead couple even before they actually meet; that pull seems so real that the audience will believe in love at first sight and root for Keir and Ryan to find a way to be together. The support cast serves as deterrents to the relationship. Fans of contemporary romances will want to read this charmer as the feelings between Keir and Ryan are incredible, something to behold.

A Nantucket Christmas
Leslie Linsley
Bullfinch Press
c/o Little, Brown & Company
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
0821258079 $19.99 1-800-759-0190

This holiday gift book provides readers with insight into celebrating Christmas on Nantucket Island off the coast of Massachusetts. The two centuries old houses look terrific as they are made festive for the Yuletide season. The numerous color photos by Jeffrey Allen enable the reader to see first hand why this is a popular sight during Christmas, almost as much as it is a summer getaway. Author Leslie Linsley provides a warm travelogue as she escorts her readers on a tour of the homes, the ships, the shops, all lit up for the season to be jolly. Ms. Linsley also provides the audience with arts and crafts tips that include designs using greenery, fruits and flowers. Special recipes round out this delightful charmer. Perhaps the only thing missing is the lack of the owners of these delightful homes, shops, and ships as smiling uplifting faces would enhance the insightful descriptions and wonderful photography.

Michael Redhill
Little, Brown & Company
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
0316734985 $24.99 1-800-759-0190

In 1997, unable to cope anymore with Lou Gehrig's disease, geologist/historian David Hollis committed suicide. However before he took his life, David left behind another controversy. He claimed that a ship buried in downtown Toronto contained photographs of the city circa 1850s, but he refused to provide the collaborating source, a diary. His assertion turns into a controversy in which most historians assume he made up the so called proof; even friends assume the disease caused him to do it. One person believes David's story is true. His grieving widow Marianne decides to find the evidence that will return her late spouse's reputation. She obtains a hotel room overlooking the locale where a sports stadium is to be constructed that David insisted hides the photos. Her future son-in-law tries to help Marianne and his fiancee through their grief by assisting her though he agrees with the expert opinion that David filed a false declaration. In 1855 English expatriate pharmacist Jem Hallam takes over a pharmaceutical practice in Toronto only to learn that the horrific errors of his predecessor destroyed the business. One of his few customers, ailing Samuel Ennis introduces Jem to photography. The pharmacist turns to the new profession to earn a living as he takes pictures of his adopted city. The fascinating story line shows deference to the city then and now as it rotates perspective between the mid nineteenth century and the present. The modern day subplot reads like an amateur sleuth thriller as Marianne desperately needs to prove her late spouse right before she can move past her loss. The 1855 subplot provides a deep historical look at the city through mostly the eyes of the newcomer. Cleverly Michael Redhill merges his duel themes into a cohesive look at relationships especially after one of the people has died.

The Terror
Dan Simmons
Little, Brown & Company
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
0316017442 $25.99 1-800-759-0190

A few years earlier Captain Sir John Franklin and James Ross found the previously unknown continent f Antarctica. In the mid 1840s, John leads a two ship expedition through the waterways of Northern Canada seeking the Northwest Passage. However, instead of glory and having bays and land masses big and small named for him, in 1845 his ships, the Terror captained by that bitter jealous Francis Crozier and his immediate command the Erebus are stuck in the ice with decreasingly chances of escape. Two years later, the vessels remain trapped and the tainted food supply planned for three years is dwindling rapidly. Worse the intelligent gigantic Thing that lives on the ice has methodically attacked and killed much of the crew. Franklin is dead and Crozier is losing control as mutiny is too weak a word to describe the rapidly dwindling survivors. Insanity and cannibalism makes it clear that this doomed expedition is all about survival of the fittest, which increasingly looks to be the Thing. THE TERROR is an excellent historical thriller with a supernatural like element adding suspense to the tale with the premise based on the real lost Franklin expedition. Readers will appreciate this superior story line that plays out on two levels: the mental and physical deterioration of the crew and Terror brought by the Thing that is impervious to human countermeasures as the creature successfully assaults the crew. Told mostly by Crozier and some of the crew, the tale switches back and forth between 1847 and 1845 allowing readers to contrast what was and what has become of several of the cast. Dan Simmons is at his best with this superb tale of terror.

With Nine You Get Vanyr
Jean Marie Ward & Teri Smith
Samheim Publishing
2932 Ross Clark Circle, #384, Dothan, AL 36301
1599983605 $17.00

At the science fiction and fantasy convention, DragonCon, the internet fan group the Daughters of Reyah loves the show Domain. Also at the event is Reyah, who separately, along with her group followers, makes a wish on the Wishstone. Nine girls are transported to Domain while also transformed into their avatar persona. Also sent is Lydia, the actress who plays the villainess the Demon Queen on the TV show. The internet group is transformed into Vanyr (demi-gods) just like Reyah's sons. Lydia is taken to the evil son's Keep where he mistakes her for Megeara, the villainess who can conjure up an unbound demon. He plans to take over the world and oust his mother from power. He demands Lydia call up a demon. Each of Reyah's daughters is sent on a quest to prepare for the upcoming battle between her evil son and his minions vs. her new "offspring". Jean Marie Ward & Teri Smith make Domain seem like a real realm due to the reactions of the transported conventioneers. The characters are very believable as they adapt to having real powers that they must learn to use properly as opposed to role-playing. Fans will never look at Atlanta's DragonCon the same way again after this fun filled fantasy. This reviewer's only wish when she attends the 07 Con on the Labor Day weekend is more tales in the realm of Domain. WITH NINE YOU GET VANYR is a great fantasy.

Texas Tender
Leigh Greenwood
0843956852 $6.99

In 1886, Will Haskins arrives in Dunmore, Texas to buy a bull from Idalou Ellsworth as he plans to start a ranch. However, the usually fiery Idalou is stunned into silence when she sees how beautiful Will is. However, the bull is missing so Will reluctantly agrees to help her and her brother get the critter back from her neighbor Jordan McGloughlin though Idalou's sibling would prefer his daughter instead. Before he can blink and get the dazed Idalou to say coherent sentences, Will has become the temporary sheriff of the town. All the ladies in town think he is a hunk and those not married see him as an ideal spouse. However, he wants Idalou, but first must stop whoever is trying to destroy the Ellsworth siblings in what looks like a land grab from McGloughlin before his beloved does something dangerous on her own. Few authors if any can bring to life a late nineteenth century cowboy romance like Leigh Greenwood consistently does. His latest Texas tale starts with a terrific opening as the in your face Idalou is stoned silent when her eyes see Will for the first time, a condition no one who knows this wild termagant has ever seen before. The amusing story line is a combination of the taming of the no longer shrew and the hunk who adores her even more than her bull. TEXAS TENDER is a delightful historical romance with a touch of suspense that is clearly a Greenwood branded winner.

The Warrior Trainer
Gerri Russell
0843958251 $6.99

In 1308 Scotland, Scotia is the latest in a long line of warrior women trained to protect the Stone of Destiny that the English claim the Scots stole from them. Four horsemen vow to kill every Highlander until they bring back the Stone to their English monarch. Ian MacKinnon seeks Scotia the Trainer, considered the world's greatest fighter, to train him so he can protect his clan and avenge his brother killed by vicious English marauders dubbed the Four Horsemen. When he finds her he is stunned by her beauty, but is unaware that she recognizes him as the man who is to be her soulmate. She also sees him as a tool to avenge the death of her mother at the hands of the same evil soulless ones who killed her student's brother. Though both plan to use the other to further their personal agendas, neither can ignore their attraction for one another. Using the real Scottish STONE OF DESTINY as the underlying base to the fine story line, Gerri Russell provides a strong fictional twist to the authentic history in which instead of English knights taking this royal regal item to Westminster, they carted off a fake. The story line is action-packed from the start when the Four Horsemen like those of the Apocalypse destroy anyone misfortunate enough to be in their path and never slows down until the final battlefield confrontation between them and the lead couple. Fans of medieval romance with a wee bit of a whimsical legend (anchored in history) will enjoy this fine tale of a daring skillful heroine and the laird who loves her.

The Freedom of the Soul
Tracey Bateman
PO Box 719,1810 Barbour Drive, Uhrichsville, OH 44683
1597892211 $9.97

In 1949 Oregon Shea Penbrook feels all alone as she buries her Granddad; her fiance died during the war in the Pacific and her dad not long afterward. At the funeral with her are the preacher she paid and the family helper who asks for his wages. Even before she can get home, her avariciou neighbor Jackson Sable demands she sell the place to him, which she is forced to do by an unfair legal ruling. Going inside her shack, she packs her possessions, but in the attic she finds the diaries of an ancestor who makes her believe she has some African American blood inside her. Lonely she decides to go to Oak Junction, Georgia to find her other roots. Shea is shocked when she sees how blacks are treated as inhuman, but finds solace in the diaries that focus on the love between Mac the offspring of a wealthy white slave owner and Celeste one of their slaves. She wonders who Mac will marry, a white neighbor who condones his having a discrete tryst or the slave who captures his heart though she sort of knows the answer already. Meanwhile she meets Chicago based Jonas Riley who does not trust Shea, but has no choice except to invite the enemy into his home and more. The sequel to THE COLOR OF THE SOUL, THE FREEDOM OF THE SOUL, is a fabulous historical thriller that brings to life two eras, the Deep South just after WWII and the Antebellum mid ninetieth century South prior to the Civil War. The prime story line focuses on Shea's need to belong to someone and somewhere, but also uses the diaries to tell the story of Mac and Celeste. Readers will appreciate this character driven look at racial relationships while rooting for the best to happen to the deserving Shea.

A Merry Heart
Wanda E. Brunstetter
PO Box 719,1810 Barbour Drive,Uhrichsville, OH 44683
159789298X $12.95

At one time Miriam Stolfus believed that her true love William Graber would come back for her when he left for Ohio. Instead he never returned to their Amish community, ending her dreams with a Dear Miriam letter in which he informed her he has fallen in love and will marry Lydia Stutzman. In spite of her mom constantly quoting Proverbs 17.22, Miriam has a troubled spirit and heavy heart that even her students notice. She is a twenty-six years old spinster who is often a cross teacher with a short fuse, Widower Amos Hilty has loved Miriam since they were children, but she had eyes only for William. He married but his wife passed away. Amos raises their six years old daughter Mary Ellen mostly by himself though the community is there for him. Though her beloved momma insists Amos would Make a good husband, Miriam believes he only wants her as a mother to Mary Ellen. He has competition with English reporter Nick, but Miriam's bitter heart refuses to let go of William's betrayal. However, she begins to reconsider her values when her niece Rebekiah is severely injured in an accident. This is a somewhat expanded reprint of the first Lancaster Brides' tale though this reviewer does not know how much differs from the ten years old original. Miriam is the star as she stereotypes all men as betrayers in spite of the males in her extended family like papa proving otherwise. The interesting story line provides insight into the Amish community through the lead protagonist's perspectives and relationships. The support cast adds to the overall discerning glimpse at a "bah humbug" female who begins to understand God's messages of A MERRY HEART after precocious young niece became wheelchair bound.

The Reliance
M. L. Tyndall
PO Box 719,1810 Barbour Drive,Uhrichsville, OH 44683
1597893609 $9.97

In 1668 in the Caribbean, former pirate Captain Edmund Merrick continues to spread the word of the Lord amongst his former associates. However, he has also found happiness with Lady Charlisse who he and his crew saved three years ago and has since married using Porto Bello, Panama as his current base of redemption operation. When the fort is attacked by an unknown emery Merrick goes out to learn what is happening leaving Charlisse with their host Don Diego de Acala for her safety though she objects. However Don Diego's hacienda is attacked; when Merrick returns he thinks his beloved died and blames himself because he chose duty to the King and "abandoned" her. Unbeknownst to the grieving guilt racked ex pirate is the fact that his high seas enemy Captain Kent Carlton and the crew of the Vanquisher abducted her. Feeling God let him down and refusing to behave like a sparrow, the hawkish Merrick denounces his born again credo with a plan to revenge the death of his beloved by killing Carlton and his crew even if that means going to hell to achieve his objective. Readers will see how "soft" Edmund's belief in Jesus is when he faces adversity with the "death" of his beloved; thus the audience will wonder whether he can be redeemed regardless of whether he saves Charlisse or not. The action-packed story line is fast-paced but carries a terrific inspirational message on REDEMPTION. Though readers would be better off first perusing the Legacy of the King's Pirates book 1, THE REDEMPTION as there are several major references to those earlier events, Mary Lou Tyndall provides a great high seas Christian romantic suspense thriller.

Petticoat Ranch
Mary Connealy
PO Box 719,1810 Barbour Drive,Uhrichsville, OH 44683
1597896470 $9.97

In 1867 Mosqueros, Texas, Sophie Edwards struggles to keep her four young daughters safe since her spouse Cliff was lynched as a "horse thief" during the Civil War. She knows that the dangerous Judd Mason owner of J Bar M killed her husband, but no one including the law will touch the powerfully cruel rancher. Clay McCellen has searched for his missing twin Cliff since the war ended. He has come to Mosqueros because he knows his brother was murdered nearby. However, he is chased and shot by Judd and his associates as the odious wealthy man wants Clay's horse that he claims was stolen. Sophie and her offspring bring him into the shack they call home. As he heals he vows to protect and take care of the five females his brother "left" to him. Though he anticipates a showdown with Judd, Clay never anticipated he would fall in love with the five females the way he has. He prays that God is there for them if he fails. This is an interesting inspirational western romance that focuses on relationships between people and with Jesus. The story line contains individuals seeking revenge, but the motives are the key as to whether one walks with the Lord or with the devil. The four preadolescent girls are brave and loyal while their intrepid mom is like a she-lion keeping them safe. Clay rides into this mix knowing he would die for his nieces and their mother as he learns that they are soft on the outside, but strong on the inside, just the way God made women.

Blackfoot Braves Society
Christopher E. Long
4181 East Winged Foot Place, Chandler, AZ 85249
0974280399 $12.95

Jackson Brady's father is a wealthy powerful man so all his life people either were nice to him to get to his father or were jealous of him. He hopes he will be treated like an average boy at the Blackfoot Braves Society Summer Camp; however the camp bully knows who he is and constantly picks on him. When the camp goes on a field trip, Jackson and his friends Austin and Mazzy are left behind. Camp Counselor Bill gives then a treasure map and they go in search of the loot. A sudden storm appears forcing the trio to take shelter in a cave where they meet the spirit of Ma-Tas-Kah, a great warrior who defeated The Sta-au skin shifters who can possess the bodies of anyone they choose. The three children are going to fight the Sta-au. Austin is given the wolf totem which gives him super speed; Mazzy is the Raven which allows her to fly and see in the dark; and Jackson is given the Buffalo token which gives him immense strength. When they realize that Bill is possessed and intent on destroying the camp they must find a way tostop him. Targeted for the grade school crowd, teachers and students will like this tale that stars a rich boy who just wants to be treated normally and have real friends. Readers will relate to his need to belong, like his two friends, and find the supernatural elements of the story fascinating. The illustrations are quite detailed enhancing the delightful storyline.

Zombie Monkey Monster Jamboree
J.J. Hart
4181 East Winged Foot Place, Chandler, AZ 85249
1933925078 $9.95

The Basilisk Patrol of the Wild West Scouts are having an overnight with Patrol Leader Skeeter McGill who wants everything to go perfectly. He studies up for the big day and then proceeds to lead the scouts through a part of the White Mountains in Arizona. The adult leaders get lost trying to find a shortcut in a heavy rain and compound the problem by losing all the food. When Skeeter calls a halt, they pitch camp as best they can and they find a crate with a warning not to open it, but they do so any way and find a gold monkey with jewels for its eyes. Soon they are disturbed by noises and when they go outside to check they see lots of zombie monkeys surrounding them. They chase them away but the zombie monkeys head for the nearby town so the y the scouts try to figure a way to get rid of them Rather than being scary, ZOMBIE MONKEY MONSTER JAMBOREE is a humorous horror tale that will have the readers laughing out loud. Skeeter is earnest in his desire to lead and that includes taking care of the zombie monkey problem. One of the scouts "Gas" uses the bodily function he was named after to keep the monkey zombies away from his friends. This is a charming tale that elementary school readers will thoroughly enjoy.

The Anubis Tapestry: Between Twilights
Bruce Zick
4181 East Winged Foot Place, Chandler, AZ 85249
1933925035 $9.95

Thirteen years old Chance Henry says "it started out to be a normal day" in Portland, Oregon. The weeks of rain had stopped and the sun was shining as Holly "Hercules" Whipple whips his butt in basketball again. However before she can humiliate him, he hears the dreaded words "I need your help"; his dad Dr. George Henry curator of the Portland Museum of Eastern Antiquities Museum has paged him again. Like Chance thought earlier this is just a normal day. However, normal becomes quite abnormal when a light shines from inside a recently acquires sarcophagus. A mummy steps out of a tomb and soon George is wrapped inside the bandages while the creature collapses into a pile of sand. Chance is unaware that the Time of Anubis has begun as Sehti has taken over his father's body while George's soul is drifting amidst the Egyptian Underworld. Chance knows he must somehow save his father so he risks binding some of the mummy's bandages on his arms, trusting that he can keep himself from turning and rescue his father; Chance's friends like Holly and Hayden, and a new pal Blixx help him with his quest. Targeting elementary school children, this is a terrific horror-fantasy starring a young teen who gains confidence that he had previously lacked while on a dangerous quest to rescue his father and perhaps the world. The story line is filled with action while illustrations enhance the solid plot. Young readers will root for Chance and his trusty teammates as they battle against ancient evil that has returned.

Spirit of the Samurai: Of Swords and Rings
Gary Reed (writer) and Rick Hoberg (illustrator)
4181 East Winged Foot Place, Chandler, AZ 85249
1933925051 $9.95

In the Seattle suburbs Grandfather raised his two grandchildren, fourteen years old David and thirteen years old Kat Anderson with four simple kind rules on treating and respecting others and one other, the adult mantra to obey him that that he expects both to follow. However, recently David has been constantly angry at his younger sister and has even instigated fights though her martial arts training usually overcomes his brute strength advantage. However this time he attacks her from behind and it takes Grandfather's intervention to stop him. When David enters their Grandfather's dojo without permission, Kat follows. He shows her a book that provides the history of Japanese Samurai, especially about two rival clans, the Toho and the Black Rings, that fought one another. Grandfather arrives, but David insists on learning the truth as he says they are descendents of Toho and the kid wears three of the four Black Rings that he also found. Finally David touches the Swords of Toho and Hiro of the Black Rings. Whereas David becomes possessed with evil, his sister touches the Toho sword and becomes the last guardian battling against her sibling who wants her dead; on her side is Grandfather and Kyosha the Samurai who has just arrived claiming to be her Father. Targeting elementary school children, this is an action-packed Samurai fantasy starring a young female teen whose opponent in a life and death struggle is her older brother. The story line is filled with action while illustrations enhance the first-rate plot. David's nastiness comes out before he is possessed so young readers will root for Kat to defeat him during their sibling battle.

A Loop in Time
Rowena Wright
Finial Publishing
PO Box 346, Mercer island, WA 98040
1933791071 $16.95

Sophia Ludwig works for a meager wage at the New York City public library. Being shy, she has few friends and little family outside of her ancient race the Ringgolds, who have the skills to manipulate of time and space. Thus for the most part she raises her daughter Ericca just above the poverty line as her beloved spouse Branch Archer, "architect" with a resume out of a fantasy novel died during the Tunnel Wars. Though Sophia and her friends have hidden their heritage from Ericca, she is becoming increasingly aware of how different her mom and she are compared to those who attend the same school as she does like the odious snob Tory Skye. As Erica learns about her inherited talent to work time and space, she enlists the help of her best friends, Albert and Leonardo, who though both are dead "live as bobble heads inside her baby blanket. With their help she begins to plot a course to save her father's life by changing history especially since she knows his soul lives though that means entering the time tunnels that connect alternate realities. A LOOP IN TIME, book one of the Polis series, is not an easy book to read because of the complexities of the plot especially with the time-space continuum for example that enables great thinkers like Albert and Leonardo to "live" though dead. Ericca is a delightful protagonist as she struggles to understand a universe where everything is possible as the cause and effect model is not the only perceivable relationship. Though the key support players are not fully developed making them less understandable than readers will want, fans who desire something different in their science fiction will want to visit Wright's realm where receiving advice from bobble heads is as normal as the plate breaking before you drop it.

Perfecting Kate
Tamara Leigh
Multnomah Books
601 North Larch Street, Sisters, OR 97759-9320
1590529278 $12.99 1-800-929-0910

Twenty-nine years old Katherine Mae Meadows and her housemate Maia are stopped on the streets of San Francisco and asked if they would like a make over as part of a future issue of Changes Magazine. Kate agrees because the transformer is kissable hunk Michael Palmer. She may have said no to agreeing if she knew Dr. Clive Alexander would run the make over like a drill instructor and she the new "big project" recruit he must mode. As he remakes Kate, they go from misunderstanding one another to falling in love only to go full circle back to misunderstanding one another. She attends church and prays to God; he is at best an agnostic. She thinks he loves someone else; he thinks he will write off Kate as a loss given time. She cannot give him children; he wants offspring. She thinks he is attracted to the image he made and not her; he thinks she wants Palmer or Stapleton. This pair allows their respective pasts to determine their present, which means unless someone takes that first leap of faith they have no future as he is still PERFECTING KATE while she wants to be the real Kate. This is an interesting Christian romance starring a true believer and a doubter with both having issues to contend with that prevent a permanent relationship. The story line focuses mostly on Kate's struggles to balance the demands of her life including her religion (her nightly Dear God journal is fascinating), but also enables insight into Clive's trials and trepidations. Though the "curing" of a gay friend seems absurd and in bad taste as it makes being homosexuality a disease, readers will appreciate Kate's efforts to be perfect.

Bone Justice
Elizabeth Fackler
Western Star
0977738507 $24.95

In 1875 in Laredo, Texas twenty-six years old Seth Strummar wins $200 in gold and a Colorado ranch. Euphoric especially with the spread, he quits outlawing to become a rancher. Feeling he owes his mentor-boss Ben Allister to tell him in person he is leaving, he rides to the outlaw leader's cabin. Instead of Ben being there, Seth finds two females held prisoner by other gang members, who inform him that Ben purchased the two women from Comancheros and plans to sell them in Mexico. They also say that he gave them the wailing younger one thirteen years old Esther, but only Ben will use the older silent woman Oriana. Seth abducts both females knowing that will anger Ben, but feels his former leader has gone too far when he begins to trade women as a commodity. Though he initially planned to dump the females on a small town sheriff, Seth finds the town of El Topo dead. He also realizes that Ben is coming for them and him so he can't abandon the females though the idea is tempting but he plans to escort the women to Esther's Granny in Kansas. On the road Angel Madera joins them, but shows he desires Esther leading to Seth not trusting him. BONE JUSTICE is a terrific western thriller starring an outlaw with ethics as Seth feels impelled to rescue two women from his former mentor. Seth is a fascinating character struggling to do the right thing for Esther and Oriana, but not finding it easy as he tries to deliver the vulnerable Esther to her Granny while attempting to help her mentally recover from her ordeal; Oriana with her barriers is even more difficult for him. Fans who appreciate a powerful character driven tale of the old west will want to read Elizabeth Fackler's terrific Southwest frontier thriller and seek Seth's other novels (see ROAD FROM BETRAYAL) as this reviewer plans to do.

The Golden Talisman
J. Stefan Jackson
Mundania Press
6470A Glenway Avenue, #109, Cincinnati, OH 45211-5222.
1594262381 $16.00

The residents of Carlsdale, Alabama know the areas to avoid if they want to live. Sections of the dark woods near Tombigbee River lives evil; for centuries those foolish enough to enter never come out. That is no one until thirteen years old Jack Kenney who somehow survived the ordeal. Not willing to risk the life of their son or his older brother Jeremy, the Kenneys immediately move away to the big city Tuscaloosa. Eight serene years later, Jeremy and Jack attend the University of Alabama. However, the horror returns when a friend of the siblings, University archaeology professor Dr. Menesch, is brutally killed. The FBI abducts Jeremy and Jack without a warrant under some arcane antiterrorism ploy. Agents Reynolds, Iverson and Casey frustrated with the smiles and silence they receive especially from Jack viciously interrogate the brothers seeking to know what Jack met in the woods near Carlsdale. Though battered, he says nothing until Special Agent Peter McNamee arrives with a similar story about a horror from his past that he was fortunate to survive. Jack sees a kindred soul in Peter and begins to tell his story of the terror he fled in the summer of 99 that apparently is spreading its dark realm beyond the banks of the Tombigbee River. The hook to this excellent suspense thriller is the twists that will keep readers wondering what is going on as nothing is quite what it seems. Adding to the excitement is that the audience will wonder whether the terror is an evil supernatural creature or an amoral human even while following the J brothers, mostly Jack, relate their story. J. Stefan Jackson provides a dark thriller that grips fans from the opening FBI abduction and never frees the reader until the final understanding of the loss of innocence of a thirteen years old adolescent.

The Boleyn Inheritance
Philippa Gregory
Touchstone (Simon and Schuster)
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl. New York, NY 10020
0743272501 $25.95 1-800-223-2336

By 1539, thirtyish widow Jane Boleyn continues her plotting to gain power and wealth as she more than just survived the execution of her husband and her sister-in-law, the late wife of King Henry VIII six years ago. She insured she was not associated in any way with the "plot" against the Tudor monarch, which also meant her spouse had no outside champion to save his life. Henry chooses the Germanic Princess Anne of Cleves to be his next wife based on the recommendation of his Thomas Cromwell, in order to obtain an ally in the ongoing cold war with Spain and France. Jane plans her demise as her ambition is to be the last woman sitting on the throne. At the same time the Duke of Norfolk brings his precocious beautiful fifteen years old niece Katherine Howard, a cousin-in-law to Jane, to court to tempt the aging ruler with the energy of youth as he sets his schemes in motion. Told predominately from the perspective of the three females, readers obtain a powerful insightful look at the court of Henry VIII in which Machiavellian manipulations is the only way of life. The contrasts in personalities and supporters between the three women make the tale a winner for historical fans especially those intrigued by the Tudor court. Jane is the professional schemer using her wits to tear down her opponents; Anne is a naive outsider used to being ordered about and is uncomfortable with her new role; and Katherine is a vain kitten flirting with everyone but mostly with the King. Philippa Gregory follows up her THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL with an excellent intriguing sixteenth century tale of court manipulations and spins that readers and Karl Rove would appreciate.

True Evil
Greg Iles
Scribner Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
0743292499 $25.95 1-800-223-2336

FBI agent Alex Morse is at the University Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi listening to her dying sister tell her that her husband killed her and she wants Alex to take care of her son Jamie. At first Alex doesn't believe her but after investigating without the approval of the agency; she believes that lawyer Andrew Ruskk has had the spouses of several of his richest clients die in the last couple of years. She believes the lawyer has found a doctor to induce cancer in a victim so they can make a fortune from customers wanting to get rid of their spouse but don't want to pay the cost of a divorce. Circumstantial evidence says that Natchez, Mississippi Dr. Chris Shepard is the next victim. When she tells Chris her theory, he doesn't believe his wife Thora wants him dead. However, the evidence mounts up proving she has repeatedly lied to him and is even having an affair. Now in a race against time, Alex must find the evidence to convince the Bureau that she was right all along otherwise another innocent man will die. Greg Iles is one of the better suspense authors writing today and TRUE EVIL is one of his best works to date. The action starts on the very first page and never slows down even after the climax. The characters are well developed and readers will empathize with the victims and heroes. The scary sad part of this thriller is the premise is very believable at least in Mr. Iles' hands.

Shadow Laws
Jim Michael Hanson
Dark Sky Publishing
218 S. McIntyre Way,Golden, CO 80401
097692434X $13.95

A serial killer has terrorized the residents of Denver. Homicide Detective Bryson Coventry leads the investigation that seems to be always too late as if the culprit somehow knows his every move. Getting a bit paranoid, Bryson wonders if someone in the inner law enforcement circle could be the maniac. As Coventry digs deeper into understand the nightmarish world of his adversary, attorney Taylor Sutton also seeks to bring justice to a diabolical killing machine. Soon their cases interconnect, but in spite of reluctantly comparing their notes, neither is ready for the next kill by a predator whose pleasure is hurting people. As more die, Coventry and Sutton wonder whether they need to cross the legal line both are sworn to uphold into the shadowy realm where their foe makes death the law of the cement jungle. This is a terrific police procedural- private investigation thriller that grip the audience from the start because the cases feel like they come from headline news. The subplots are fast-paced and merge smoothly into a strong serial killer tale. Readers will enjoy the chilling inquiries made by the intrepid but fearful lead pair; however, afterward will keep the lights on as no one will want to meet who makes the laws in the shadow of night.

Shadow Laws
Jim Michael Hanson
Dark Sky Publishing
218 S. McIntyre Way, Golden, CO 80401
097692434X $13.95

A serial killer has terrorized the residents of Denver. Homicide Detective Bryson Coventry leads the investigation that seems to be always a bit too late, almost as if the culprit somehow knows his every move. Getting a bit paranoid, Bryson wonders if someone in the inner law enforcement circle could be the maniac. As Coventry digs deeper into understanding the nightmarish world of his adversary, attorney Taylor Sutton also seeks to bring to justice to a diabolical killing machine. Soon their cases interconnect, but in spite of reluctantly comparing their notes, neither is ready for the next kill by a predator whose pleasure is hurting people. As more die, Coventry and Sutton wonder whether they need to cross the legal line both are sworn to uphold into the shadowy realm where their foe makes death the law of the cement jungle. This is a terrific police procedural- private investigation thriller that grip the audience from the start because the cases feel like they come from headline news. The subplots are fast-paced and merge smoothly into a strong serial killer tale. Readers will enjoy the chilling inquiries made by the intrepid but fearful lead pair; however, afterward will keep the lights on as no one will want to meet who makes the laws in the shadow of night.

A Killing Tide
P.J. Alderman
Love Spell
0505526964 $6.99

Only for family would Kaz Jorgenson leave her consultanting job in San Francisco to return to her hometown of Astoria, Oregon, but she drops everything when her twin brother Gary needs help. However, her greeting upon her arrival is a fire on one of her family's fishing ships. Once the blaze is contained a bigger shock hits home when the corpse of family friend Ken Lundquist is found on board. The police suspect Gary, who has vanished, killed him and set the fire to hide the evidence. Michael Chapman left scandal and a suspicious death behind in Boston when he came to Astoria as the new fire chief. He is also an experienced trained arson investigator, who begins making inquiries into the deadly blaze. He and Kaz are attracted to one another, but neither plans to act on their feelings. He refuses to have anything to do with the sister of the prime suspect especially after the fiasco back in New England with his former fiancee; she assumes he wants to hang her brother so she rejects Michael in order to not betray Gary. The key to this exhilarating romantic whodunit is the strong cast starting with the lead couple who have flaws, struggle with feelings and the investigation, and fear what they will eventually uncover. In other words, they seem very real. The support characters also feel genuine whether they are friends of the family or Gary (mostly seen through the eyes of others). A KILLING TIDE is a strong investigative romance that will bring kudos to new author P.J. Alderman.

Shooting Star
Colby Hodge
Love Spell
050552628X $6.99

One of twenty-one sons of the all mighty all knowing Emperor Rashad DeMarco Monaco, Rubjikhan Benjamin, son of the ruler's fourth wife, feels honored that his sire is hosting a public birthday party for him. That is until his dad wishes the wrong son a happy birthday leading Ruben to realize his father does not know who he is. He vows to cut all ties with the Emperor as soon as possible. He becomes an interstellar trader who has nothing to do with empire politics until he learns he is the target of a mass manhunt for apparently committing patricide; the price on his head is 750,000 credits as reported by SNN news. As friends betray him, he suffers strange dreams that his brother Stefan is in trouble, but cannot stop to help him. On the run, Ruben crashes his ship the Shooting Star on a primitive orb where Tess the slave and her six years old son Boone save his life. He recognizes her from his weird dream, but fears something is not right as he senses evil especially with the Circe witches in the middle. Fans of romantic science fiction thrillers will want to read Colby Hodge's faster than the speed of light tale, SHOOTING STAR. Ruben is a fascinating lead character who learns a life lesson at his twelfth birthday party. Actually his sire eventually recognized him as the warrior amongst his offspring, but by then even with a gift of a blade Ruben severed all ties until he becomes galaxy-wide headline news for allegedly murdering his father. Ruben makes the story line fun to read as he learns who his friends are as the price on his head is a fortune. Tess is his ideal partner though she has trust issues. The audience will appreciate this entertaining story while afterward stargazing at the skills of this talented author.

Minda Webber
Love Spell
0505527057 $6.99

Samantha "Sam" Hammett is one of the best paranormalbusters in the world perhaps because it is in her blood as her family runs the Paranormal Pest Pursuers, Inc., established by her great-grandfather over eight decades ago. Everyone knows who you gonna call when it comes to catching, communicating or moving supernatural beings on the loose, as no firm can compete with Triple P while Sam is one of their top guns, an elite amongst the elite. However she runs into overseas rivals seeking entry into the American market. The Russian based Monsters 'R Us headed by Nicolas Strakhov, who apparently sanctions sabotage by his workers as Sam knows first hand. As the two companies heat up the supernatural catch and snatch competition, Sam and Nicolas begin to fall in love. However, rivalry, love, sabotage and other ilk need to remain on hold, as a gellog of vampires are outraged when someone murders one of them. Once again Minda Webber, as she has done with Frankenstein and Van Helsing, provides reader with a fun lighthearted romantic fantasy. Readers will believe in vampires, gargoyles, poltergeists, and several other supernatural species, but the tale belongs to the rival firms represented by the dynamic lead couple. Though "here's looking at you" saluting Bogie can turn irritating as it is overdone, sub-genre fans will enjoy BUSTIN' the supernatural with Sam and Nicolas.

Shards of Crimson
Liz Maverick, Patti O'Shea, Carolyn Jewel & Jade Lee
Love Spell
0505527103 $7.99

"A Time to Howl" by Liz Maverick. In Crimson City, Tajo the werewolf tells his soulmate Princess Gia to forget him and leave, as he is a lone rogue. By doing this he breaks two hearts but he must confront Marius and the other Dumont vampires and their werewolf allies. "DX" by Carolyn Jewel. As a favor to a friend and to regain her government security clearance, private investigator Hell Marshall accepts a case from I-Ops to bring down a killing DX (demon of unknown origin). The DX seems easy to deal with when compared to how her heart beats when she is near her partner Special Forces Agent Jordan Lightfeather. "School Bites" by Jade Lee. At Ben Franklin Middle School, human teacher Toni Freedman intercedes in a fight between three male students when one of them Kumars Gray bit her. Principal John Wayne Wong wants to protect the woman he loves whether she is a wolf, human or both. "Dark Awakening" by Patti O'Shea. The evil Bak-Faru pursues Kimi who fears what will happen if her stalker catches her as she is new to the demon game. Her only hope rests with Nic a demon if they can keep their star-crossed attraction under control. These are four delightful romantic fantasies set in Crimson City, Los Angeles' latest reincarnation where four species battle for supremacy.

The Invasion of Falgannon Isle
Deborah MacGillivray
Love Spell
0505526913 $6.99

B.A. Montgomerie owns Falgannon Isle, home to 213 bachelors and her. Though in her late thirties and very pretty, none of the male residents will court the widow or other women for fear of the Curse that they all believe in except perhaps her. Before any of the men can find their true love, B.A. must meet and fall in love with the green-eyed, black-haired Outsider. Desmond Mershan arrives claiming the late grandfather of B.A. made a deal with him giving him ownership of part of the isle. The men are stunned as he has green eyes, black hair, and is an outsider. They feel certain he is the answer toe end the Curse because, besides his physical attributes, B.J. seems attracted to him. To his chagrin he is falling in love with his hostess; feelings he does not want as his plan is to destroy any Montgomerie. This is an amusing whimsical romantic fantasy with the lead couple providing the love and revenge subplots while the support characters especially Cat Dudley bring matchmaking humor to the delightful mix. Readers will enjoy Desmond's INVASION OF FALGANNON ISLE where love competes with hate for relational supremacy.

Feast of Souls
C.S. Freidman
DAW Books, Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0756404320 $25.95 1-800-847-5515

King Danton Aurelius calls the immortal sorcerer Magisters to his castle because his third son Prince Andovan is wasting away from a devastating illness. Magister Colivar immediately knows that Andovan is dying from the incurable Wasting, a self inflicted lifestyle disease in which a Magister uses the life essence of a consort until that person dies; the Magister just finds another person to use and turn into a corpse. No one knows who wasted the prince. Meanwhile, Kamala a sorcerer witch with no consort wants to become the first female Magister, but no one will train her, as women are not strong enough to become a Magister. Kamala pursues her dream anyway hiding her poorly controlled power behind the face of a lowly witch. Colivar realizes that an unknown woman somehow has broken the gender barrier to become a Magister and has used Andovan as her consort. Andovan with Colivar's help fakes a suicide in order to go undercover to uncover the identity of the woman who gave him the wasting disease. An irate Danton fires his Royal Magister Ramirus and replaces him with evil Kostas, who also hunts down the source of the wasting. The first tale of the Magister trilogy is a fascinating fantasy built upon the premise that the source of magic is throwaway people; society, especially the royals, accepts the premise that the Magisters use someone's essence to fuel their power. Readers will feel for Andovan dying from a disease caused by someone else though he previously did not blink when someone else suffered from the wasting (mindful of some stem cell research born again supporters who become vocal advocates when someone they love might be helped with a cure). Readers will appreciate this opening tale that provides a deep look at a society that condones the source of magic in spite of the cost being the death of others.

Forbidden Planets
Edited by Peter Crowther
DAW Books, Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0756403308 $7.99 1-800-847-5515

Paying homage to the landmark science fiction movie Forbidden Planet on the fiftieth anniversary of its release, these twelve tales focus on humans visiting other worlds or dimensions where they are unwelcome and unwanted. Each tales is fun to follow as humans bravely go where they should not. The original movie is loosely based on Shakespeare's The Tempest so the twist of using King Lear (Jay Lake's "Lehr, Rex") is a fascinating spin; others are just as good as mechanical sidekicks like Robert the Robot (see "Forebearing Planet" by Michael Moorcock) and "The Singularity Needs Women" by Paul Di Filippo are fun twists from the film. The remaining tales, all new, are quality contributions that make for a fine collection. In addition to a dozen terrific entries, Ray Bradbury in the Introduction provides two shockers about the movie and Stephen Baxter in the Afterward analyzes the impact on his work. This is an excellent short story collection that reverently salutes a movie that many Trekkies know that Kirk and company should journey where no one did before except Forbidden Planet.

It Happens Every Spring
Gary Chapman and Catherine Palmer
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
1414311656 $12.99 1-800-323-9400

Deepwater Cove is a small community overlooking the Lake of the Ozarks by Tranquility, Missouri. It is small town where everyone knows everyone else. Five women form the TLC club are there for one another especially with personal issues. Since the kids left, one of the TLC members Brenda Hansen suffers from empty nest syndrome as she feels she offers nothing to her community, her spouse or especially herself. Her husband Steve is a workaholic who comes home to eat and sleep, which adds to Brenda's feelings of abandonment, isolation and loneliness; whereas Steve avoids Brenda because he finds her increasingly nasty and combative when hw is near. During a nasty storm, a stranger knocks on Brenda's door saying he is Cody and asking for chocolate cake as that is the Christian way. Brenda initially fears this young man, but soon brings him in from the rain giving him his cake. Others also help the mentally challenged lad without understanding in his way he is assisting them much more as couples like Brenda and Steve try to renew the euphoria of their relationship. Using the spring of Dr. Chapman's THE FOUR SEASONS OF A MARRIAGE theory as the base for the first of a quartet of relationship dramas, IT HAPPENS EVERY SPRING is a delightful tale that introduces the audience to the TLC members and other folks, but focuses mostly on Brenda and Steve. Most fascinating is that the authors chose spring for the couple who is probably in early fall; however spring is the time of rebirth, which means that a pair must renew their relationship or it will atrophy and die prematurely. The opening Four Seasons saga is a warm story of the importance of relational rejuvenation.

Reclaiming Nick
Susan Warren May
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
141431017X $12.99 1-800-323-9400

Loaded with guilt and remorse that he never returned before his estranged father died, Nick Noble knows he must go home now that his late dad's lawyer Saul Lovell arrives to explain the will. He is outraged that his dad left any of the Montana Silver Buckle Ranch to his once best friend Cole St. John and that his sister Stefanie is converting the spread to a dude ranch. He plans to contest the will and to prevent Stefanie's plans. Reporter Piper Sullivan believes that Nick abused his law enforcement duties when he arrested her brother Jimmy McPhee for the murder of Jenny Butler. Nick is no longer a cop and Jimmy has been exonerated after five years in prison. However, while Jimmy has vanished, Piper plans to prove that Nick used her sibling to hide his killing of Jenny. She gets work as a cook on the ranch while his neglect of the past decade towards family and friends catch up to him. As the undercover reporter and her prey fall in love, he begins to learn the truth of just how many mistakes and hurt he left behind ten years ago. The first Noble Legacy tale is a wonderful inspirational family drama starring a terrific cast who do not agree on much except that loved ones are everything. The lead pair is a strong coupling as she has every reason to hate him, but instead falls in love with him; she knows once she reveals the truth he will feel betrayed and not trust her. Other subplot spins seem almost soap opera, but Susan Warren May shows her writing skill by making them excel. Fans of contemporary tales will enjoy RECLAIMING NICK as he learns from piper what really matters in life.

A Mile from Sunday
Jo Kadlecek
PO Box 35001, Colorado Springs, CO 80935
1600060285 $12.99 1-800-366-7788

The first message on her voicemail claimed to be the Almighty directing Denver Dispatch religion reporter Jonna Lightfoot McLaughlin to join other young females to worship him in the nearby canyon. Jonna ignores the message as the voice sounded more like a whiner who could not even get her name right. She thought of going to the cops, but decided a chocolate bar was a more heavenly solution. Still Jonna seeks inspirational stories though miracles are few if any even though her parents think otherwise having named their children Mark, Mathew, Luke and Jonna. More voicemail messages arrive leading to Jonna following up on them. This takes her into the inner world of religion, which looks even more deceitful and conniving than politics as beliefs have nothing to do with several power hungry leaders taking what they claim as their divine right. Still she adheres to her beliefs while visiting a multitude of religions looking for a good uplifting story. She finds one exception, hunk Terry Choyce of the Catholic Outreach, but she knows that might be just her attraction to him. It is when she meets Jedediah Sundae and his Into the Fields Fellowship Program that looks suspicious as Jonna has become a doubting Thomasette and yet somehow seems possible that she has found the inspiration at the same time. The key to this delightful chick lit Christian tale is Jonna, whose first person account is similar to how many people feel towards religion and beliefs. Thus the audience receives a thought provoking character study starring a wonderful protaognist who displays the tolerance towards other religions as she would have expected Jesus to do likewise. A MILE FROM SUNDAY is an inspiring tale with a deep message of acceptance of other people's faith while adhering to your own convictions.

Death Decent and Some Smooth Jazz
Claudia Mair Burney
PO Box 35001, Colorado Springs, CO 80935
1576839796 $12.99 1-800-366-7788

Alone and lonely, Dr. Amanda Bell Brown, forensic psychologist, buys Amos the Aussie sugar glider (a marsupial that has characteristics of a squirrel and a bat) when her doorbell rings. Police Lieutenant Jazz Brown comes to tell Bell that he wants a relationship. This shocks her because he told her weeks ago he wasn't available and she walked away from him. She notices his face is scratched and he isn't wearing a coat. The medical examiner who happens to be her sister calls her to tell her to get out of the house if Jazz is there because his ex-wife is dead in his bed, a victim of strangulation. When she arrives at the crime scene she doesn't think Jazz did it because she believes it was not a crime of passion but Jazz is arrested and let out on bond. He turns to Bell for comfort but she is afraid of getting hurt so tries to back away from a relationship. What she does do is investigate the murder because the police aren't looking for another killer and she knows Jazz is not the culprit. This inspirational cozy is full of drama, romance and action without resorting to violent scenes to move the storyline along. The heroine is an everyday woman who loves yet pushes away the man she wants for fear to take a chance. That flaw makes Amanda seem realistic and not a stereotypical sleuth. Claudia Mair Burney has a winning series (see MURDER, MAYHEM AND A FINE MAN) leading to this reviewer impatiently waiting to read the next installment coming at the summer of 2007.

The Miseducation of Tabitha Stone
Emily Durkheim
0352340711 $12.95

In Los Angeles, her best friends Jessica and Brad throw an all night twenty-fourth birthday party for Tabitha Stone at the Trash Lounge. She comes home to the family mansion in the Hollywood Hills at seven the next morning to find Daddy waiting for her, looking sad and disappointed. She apologizes when she realizes she failed to share her birthday dinner with her father, as promised. That afternoon, she awakens to make amends, but Daddy blames himself. They argue over her six years of failed schooling and how her mom walked out on them. Daddy decides she is going back to school without credit cards to earn her degree at Adirondack University in Upstate New York by her twenty-fifth birthday or he will cut her off without a penny. Tabby arrives in New York already humiliated having flown coach. She meets senior Jake who promises to show her the ropes hoping he will get her into his bed. By day one she is in trouble with her English Lit professor over Duran Duran vs. the romantic poets and her advanced cognitive psychology professor Mark, Jake's brother. She is attracted to both men, but Mark seems to hate her as he warns her she is bad for his sibling especially since he wants to flunk her out of school that is when he is not admiring her physical assets and her caring about others. This is a fun torrid contemporary academic romance starring an older version of the fun loving Cher Horowitz from Silverstone's Clueless. Tabby must choose between two brothers, who she likes very much not realizing that one of them will do anything for the other including sacrificing his heart. THE MISEDUCATION OF TABITHA STONE is cheeky humor and plenty of heat inside a fun college romance.

Always and Forever
Cathy Kelly
Downtown (Pocket)
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
1416531580 $15.00 1-800-223-2336

In Carrickwell, Ireland three women struggle with the respective directions of their lives. Mel Redmond struggles with guilt feelings as she precariously balances her career at Lorimar with raising her two children. Cleo has just graduated from a hotel management course and wants to prove to her hotelier family that she can do the job as good if not better than they as she offers ideas to save the Willow Hotel, but neither her parents nor her brothers take her seriously. Daisy Farrell yearns for a baby with her long time live-in lover Alex, but fails to conceive so they go to a fertility clinic though he seems very reluctant and has since he became ill several years ago. The three women find their life map devastated with detours and u-turns as nothing goes right. That is until the opening of the new Clouds Hill Spa by Leah, who is looking to start over with a better balanced lifestyle. Mel, Daisy and Cleo find the spa gives them moments to relax and place perspective on what matters in life and the courage to ALWAYS AND FOREVER seek to achieve what means the most to the individual; of course it is easier to try after a beauty treatment. This is an interesting character driven contemporary fiction starring three women each suffering from a person crisis that requires change in their lives if they are to achieve any modicum of harmony. The R&R pampering at the spa enables them to unwind and obtain perspective so that their predicament no longer seems like climbing Mount Everest. Cathy Kelly's message is simple that everyone needs a little pampering magic.

Still Thinking of You
Adele Parks
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
0743496507 $14.00 1-800-223-2336

Thirtyish Tash and Rich are in love. They talk about a future together, agree to marry and plan to elope to a French ski resort. They look forward to inviting their friends, many of them Rich has known and partied with for years to celebrate their marriage. At first Rich's friends seem nice to Tash, but soon they begin to act childish, selfish and boorish. Adding to her discomfit is that instead of asking his buddies to cool it, Rich joins them. Tash begins to have doubts that loving Rich will prove enough as he disappoints her with his hedonistic attitude shared by his increasingly nasty towards her friends. Finally, the "She" arrives; the one that enthralled Rich when they were lovers in college. Will he go off with her during what was supposed to be his honeymoon or will he realize what he is about to lose for a few days of recapturing his early twenties? Except for Tash, the rest of the cast is selfish trying to hang on to or recapturing their youth as time moves on. Neither Rich nor his friends seem particular nice as they are purposely stereotyped to be the transition decade from youthful exuberance and excess to middle age reasonability. Though difficult to read because of the attitudes of the players, Adele parks provides a fascinating look at aging, the final frontier.

Robert Daley
15 East 26th Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10010
0151012296 $24.00 1-800-543-1918

As Antonio Murano's wife, European Duchess Maria Cristina, goes into labor, paparazzi Georges Grizzard takes pictures of the former tennis coach in close passionate proximity with beautiful bimbo, Gigi Meyer. Georges offers first dibs to the cheating spouse for $100,000, but Tony fails to come up with the money so Grizzard sells the photos to a tabloid. Outraged Duke Augustin II, who already detests Tony for a lot of valid reasons, kicks this common trash out of the family home. However, his wife, Lady Charlotte cannot believe Tony could be this stupid so wonders if her son-in-law is being framed. She hires American security firm Probe, Inc. who have an earned reputation for discrete investigations, to uncover the truth. Probe, Inc. sends Vincent Conte to Europe to handle the case because he speaks Italian. No one offers him any information including Grizzard and Gigi until the peripheral players start dying, making the former NYPD cop wonder if there is something even more sinister than destroying a marriage. Though lacking the stark suspense of Robert Daley's previous urban mysteries and nonfiction, PICTURES is a solid investigative tale starring a defrocked former cop struggling with a horde of Europeans, who refuse to cooperate even in some cases when death seems imminent. Vincent follows the money and corpses all over Western Europe as he tries to determine whether Tony was set up as Charlotte believes or just being Tony as the Duke accepts. Though somewhat more straightforward in plotting than usual, fans of Robert Daley will enjoy this European holiday thriller.

Highland Barbarian
Hannah Howell
0821779982 $6.99

In 1480 Scotland dying Angus MacReith forces distant relative Artan Murray to agree to a death bed promise though the younger man does not believe the "three score" older male, who fostered him and his injured brother Lucas, is near death. He demands Artan go to the lowlands to fetch his niece Cecily Donaldson, heir to Glascreag, before he dies. Unable to say no to his mentor, Artan begins his journey, but cannot envision a female especially a lowlander as a chieftain in the Highlands. The rest of Angus' plan stinks as far as Artan is concerned; the old man wants him to marry this biddable female so he can be the laird. However, when he arrives in the Lowlands, he finds Cecily about to marry the King's choice for her, Sir Fergus Ogilvy. Artan tells her that Sir Fergus has plans for his shrewish wife to be out of his way when he is the Laird of Glascreag; only she does not believe him until her fiance abducts her. However, able to think on her feet, she informs her once future groom that she is handfasted to Artan, who takes her with him. Sir Fergus refuses to give up on his ambition, so he leads an attack on the couple, targeting his rival. As Cecily and Artan fall in love they debate the characteristics of a perfect wife to a laird until he is mortally wounded. This is an exhilarating fifteenth century Scottish romance, which sub-genre fans expect no less from Hannah "Highlander" Howell. The latest tale contains three fully developed characters as the lead couple battles over the ideal perfect wife and against the deviously clever Sir Fergus. HIGHLAND BARBARIAN is another well written tale from a consistently good writer, who some consider the Queen of the Scottish historical romance.

Dead Sexy
Amanda Ashley
082177834X $6.99

Every since the Endangered Vampire Act was passed, it is illegal to kill a vampire; this law caused slayer Regan Delaney to become unemployed. The creatures of the night are confined to areas like You Bet Your Life park that contains condos, shops, and a supernaturally charged force field that keep vampires within. Synthetic blood satiates the hunger, but Joaquin Santiago, former master of the city, can cross the barrier and drink the real thing not this blood lite without killing his prey. Regan is sent to the park to investigate what looks like a vampire kill, but she has some doubts because the victim's heart, liver and throat were ripped from his body. Joaquin tells her he believes a werewolf is the predator; an enemy who murdered his wife; furthermore they will attack one another until one is eradicated. Regan is caught in their crosshairs (teeth?) and gets bit by Vasile turning her into a werewolf. She can revert back by killing her "mentor", something that Joaquin has tried and failed at for centuries. Whether she is a mortal or a werewolf, Joaquin bares his heart to Regan, who rejects him initially, but soon notices how kind and gentle he is so she cannot help but return his feelings. Both are strong willed people who understand they must first deal with Vante. Amanda Ashley has written a pulse thumping supernatural thriller that keep readers attention with a burning need to know what happens next.

Hell's Belles
Jackie Kessler
0821781022 $15.00

Jezebel was until recently the best succubus to come out of Hell as she could seduce almost all males out of their souls. However, now she is on the run on earth as the Underworld has put a bounty on her head. Desperately needing help she turns to Caitlin the witch who has a contract with Hell; they cut one of those golden rule deals in which the human will "mortalize" the succubus to enable her to hide amongst the masses in exchange for a future favor. After the transition and the constant reminder to breath, Jezebel escapes a demon by pretending to be Caitlin before taking the Amtrak to the one place on earth the denizen of the Underground can feel welcome as New York City is a "Hell of a town". Doing what she does best she gets work as an exotic dancer at belle's strip joint, but keeps running into the sexy mysterious Paul Hamilton. While he runs from his past, she falls in love but the demonic horde is closing in on Manhattan in search of the missing succubus who holds the key to prevent Hell going to Heaven in a hand-basket. The first Hell on Earth tale is a fabulous jocular heated (duh- Hell and Jezebel) romantic fantasy that will have readers finishing it in one 304 page sitting. The story line is fast-paced, but also makes the various "species" roaming the earth seem real. Still the novel belongs to its beleaguered heroine as she struggles with human appetites and desires while doing what she does best erotic seduction though she wonders how Paul is reversing her natural instincts while the audience will wonder who he is. Fans will appreciate Jackie Kessler's fine tale as THE ROAD TO HELL leads through Manhattan.

Abraham's Well
Sharon Ewell Foster
Bethany House
11400 Hampshire Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55438
0764228870 $12.99 1-800-328-6109

In 1838 as the Indians are forced from their homes in the southeast United States to walk the "Trail of Tears" to reservations in the Oklahoma Territory, their slaves are forced to accompany them. Whereas the hardship leads to the deaths of many of the purebred, the enslaved "Black Cherokee", considered beneath the human food chain by blacks and by Indians, suffer the most. In that environs, preadolescent Black Cherokee slave Armentia and her family, owned by purebred Cherokees, are treated reasonably well, but still sold as cattle to others who might not worry about their lowlife human stock. Hope for this subgroup is zero and the forced march spirals it downward, however, Armentia finds solace in Jesus, who was there for those like her in ancient Judea and she believes will one day set her people free. A well on her owner's land that she dubs ABRAHAM'S WELL becomes her symbol that one day she and other suppressed people will live free to worship Jesus as the savior and to own their own well. This is inspirational historical fiction at its best as Sharon Ewell Foster provides a fabulous insightful look back at a somewhat ignored atrocity through the eyes of a real person (an ancestor of the award winning author). The story line is told Armentia's account of events including the deadly trek, her finding Jesus giving her hope when others had none, and the symbol of the well. The underlying critical theme is to never forget in order to prevent a repeat of these crimes against nature: this early nineteenth century rendition and the enslavement of people in this case because they are of mixed race.

In This Rain
S. J. Rozan
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
038533804X $24.00 1-800-726-0600

Nurse's aide Harriet Winston was walking past a construction site in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx when she hit by a falling object and dies. She is the third victim to be killed at the location. New York City's Buildings Department of Investigation case worker Ann Montgomery is assigned to look into the deadly incidents to ascertain neglect, another type of violation or sabotage as three is too much for coincidence though the first two are linked. Her inquiry has wider implications. The developer Walter Glybenhall, a campaign donor and personal friend of Mayor Charlie Barr, has put in a bid for a bigger project in Harlem that has racial overtones as Harlem developer Ford Carrington has put in a bid too and political impact too as Manhattan Borough President Edgar Westermann covets moving to Gracie Mansion. Within the department others want to push the case against Glybenhall for personal reasons, complicating a messy investigation. Harriet realize she needs help so she turns to her former partner, Joe Cole, who just spent two plus years in prison due to perjury while testifying on a wrongful death probe; he wants nothing to do with this mess. Timely with the recent elections, this is a terrific look at the link between local politics, campaign funding and business deals in which the Big Apple is the star for sale by its leaders. The story line is action-packed and filled with a myriad of believable characters from Harlem to Gramercy Park to the Bronx and elsewhere. The cleverly designed construction investigation enhances the vast lifestyles of New Yorkers that range from corrupt, lethal, to fast-paced and adrenaline pumping.

House of Meetings
Martin Amis
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
1400044553 $23.00 1-800-726-0600

In 2004, the wealthy octogenarian Russian tours one of his former homes, the gulag and several other such horrific places. As he looks around this place of horror, he writes down what he sees and what he remembers so that his American "stepdaughter" Venus will never forget long after he dies. He compare the Russian-American relationship today to that of his time along with his brother Lev in the Norlag concentration camp from 1948-1956. On top of his memories, he provides Venus with a second letter that a dying Lev sent him in 1982 soon after his nephew died in Afghanistan. He thinks about his first love, Lev's wife Zoya, who married a Soviet apparatchik before becoming a drunk. Life has been hard on him and his family, but he can go peacefully because his Venus lives in affluence in America. Though not quite as powerful as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO 1918-1956, the brothers and Zoya are compelling characters as readers will envision Stalin's death camps from their perspectives. The key message of "never forget so that history does not repeat itself" hits home throughout the plot and is accentuated when the unnamed narrator and Zoya meet years later at a gulag's HOUSE OF MEETINGS. In contrast, Venus comes across as a stereotypical shallow ugly American who has no appreciation for what her "stepfather" or others went through as she has never had to sacrifice any of affluent lifestyle for any cause or atrocity. She serves as contrast to a evocative look at the effect of surviving carnage.

The View from Castle Rock
Alice Munro
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
0307266028 $17.95 1-800-726-0600

These twelve new short stores are broken into three sections. Part One/No Advantages contains five tales from the author's ancestry as her family sails from Scotland to America. Part Two/Home includes six stories mostly occurring in the Lake Huron area that will be much more familiar to fans of Alice Munro. Finally a one tale Epilogue/Messenger that ties to two segments together. Each contribution is terrific and will enhance Ms. Munro's reputation as one of the best modern day short story writers. This reviewer's personal favorite is the "Roots" like first entry "No Advantages" though the others like the title story is well written, filled with depth so that the audience feels they are either in the Scotland or near Lake Huron, past and present. Once again Ms. Munro vividly brings to life the seemingly ennui everyday people, but makes each person seems so alive and vibrant with this superb anthology.

Swimming Upstream, Slowly
Melissa Clark
Broadway (Random House)
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
0767925262 $12.95 1-800-726-0600

In Los Angeles, twenty-seven years old Sasha Salter already is the executive director of an Emmy Award winning popular children's television show, Please Pass the Salter, based on her thesis that children learn when they are amused. Everything seems to be going her way until her gynecologist Dr. Banks informs her she is pregnant. The only problem with that diagnosis is that Sasha has not had sex in over two years. Though he has doubts about her honesty and abstinence, Dr. Banks sends Sasha to UCLA researcher Dr. Rusmeuth. He explains he is an expert on male fertility and mentions the condition Lazicum spermatozoa, "lazy sperm" that remains dormant while relaxing in a comfortable biological home until the sperm finally decides to fertilize her egg. Sasha wonders who the father is as she considers lazy sperm, lazy bum with her two best friends providing her with emotional support. Though Sasha has to be the calmest person on the planet, SWIMMING UPSTREAM, SLOWLY is a solid contemporary fiction starring a likable protagonist caught in what seems the impossible, but the ambitious unscrupulous Dr. Rusmeuth (seizes the opportunity with the celeb) makes it appear viable. Readers will enjoy traveling with Sasha as she goes back over her sexual encounters in an attempt to discover whose sperm hibernated inside her body.

Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog
Boris Akunin
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
0812975138 $9.95 1-800-726-0600

In Zavolzhsk, far from the home of the Tsar, Bishop Mitrofannii rules over the vast scarcely populated remote region instead of Governor von Haggenau. The Bishop has earned a reputation for solving unsolved mysteries, which he takes pride in accomplishing though he also knows who actually uncovers the truth. Now his elderly late Aunt Marya Tatischeva sends him a letter asking for his help as someone poisoned Zagulyai and Zadidai with the former dying in agony and the latter barely surviving. He decides to send his secret sleuth literature and gymnastics teacher Sister Pelagia to learn what happened and why to the white bulldogs. Sister Pelagia travels to the home of Marya to investigate the canine homicide. Sister Pelagia quickly concludes that the target is the elderly woman, who is known for treating her dogs like pampered babies, but what the nun believes is the motive leads to several avaricious souls. However, other dogs are killed and the case takes a twist when two males are recovered from the nearby river with their heads removed. The Bishop directs Sister Pelagia to investigate the murders regardless of where it takes her, as he expects everyone to live morally and piously correct though he has some doubts with her switching identities from clumsy reticent nun to vibrant nimble Polina Lisitsina. In some ways this is more a nineteenth century historical thriller than a mystery. SISTER PELAGIA AND THE WHITE BULLDOG is a superior whodunit that uses the backdrop to paint a vivid picture of a remote part of Tsarist Russia. Readers will have to adapt to the names of the key characters, but will find it worth the time as the descriptions are terrific and the cast powerful especially the Sister and the Bishop, as irony and humor augment a fabulous story line.

The Adventures of Jecosan Tarres Book 1: The Journey
Laura Lond
Xulon Press
380 Crown Oak Center Drive, Longwood, FL 32750
1591605296 $13.99

By the time Jecosan "Jeco" Tarres turns eight, he is an orphan, but remains strong because his mother and the priest Shaledan taught him well and to believe that ever person serves a purpose. He gets on though not easily for about a year until blacksmith Dalian Veligor and his mother befriend him like a kind uncle and grandma; give him a job as an apprentice at the smithy; and a place for him and his canine companion Gart to stay. An Elgur messenger of the heavens arrives with an assignment for Jeco to journey to the capital of Meoria, Kanavar, in order to prevent a war from occurring. Jeco accepts the task though he fears he is not capable of achieving the goal. Still he knows he will do his best and more as he, accompanied by his friend Dalian, begins the trek with enemies everywhere trying to stop him from completing his mission and allies helping him; the problem is outside of Dalian it is impossible to tell friend from foe. This opening gamut of The Adventures of Jecosan Tarres is a fantastic coming of age fantasy starring a young hero who believes in himself and his cause. The support cast especially the ethical Dalian enables the reader to better understand Jeco as he accepts his impossible quest with some doubts that he will not allow to incapacitate him. THE JOURNEY is dangerous with some factions wanting the youngster dead, but in spite of harrowing experiences, he bravely continues his trek. Fans of all ages will root for Jeco who makes this a stirring character driven thriller that will send fans seeking the continuation of his adventures (see THE PALACE).

The Adventures of Jecosan Tarres Book 2: The Palace
Laura Lond
Xulon Press
380 Crown Oak Center Drive, Longwood, FL 32750
1594672466 $17.99

Jeco completes his trek to the capital of Kanavar, Meoria (see THE JOURNEY), but has no idea what to do next to accomplish his mission of preventing a war. He accepts work as a kitchen helper at the palace, but is confused as there is no indication of anyone preparing for battle. Still he patiently waits figuring the Elgur messenger of the heavens would not have sent him on this quest if the danger was not real. The former blacksmith apprentice soon obtains a job in the royal library where he meets powerful Lord Farizel Narr, who likes the youngster's enthusiasm and begins tutoring him on languages and the history of his country. The intelligent lad appreciates the lessons, but also realizes how important his mentor is to the kingdom; as Narr along with the royal sister Princess Arvelina keeps King Alvard III from invading neighboring Tirgan as the monarch wants to crush the followers of the Book of Light going so far as to hire Henky-Roo a magician in league with demons to advise him on things the ruler considers supernatural. The first book is an excellent coming of age fantasy, but is straightforward as for the most part readers follow Jeco's escapades. THE PALACE is as exciting and entertaining, but much more complex as multiple story lines provide the reader with activities that the young hero is unaware of such as the plotting of the vile sly magician who persuades his employer to steal the Book of Light. Readers will enjoy this middle tale as the battle of good vs. evil seems imminent as Jeco realizes he is in the eye of the storm with the heavenly objective of his mission seemingly headed to failure. This is a terrific tale better enhanced by reading Jeco's journey first.

The Adventures of Jecosan Tarres Book 3: The Battle
Laura Lond
Xulon Press
380 Crown Oak Center Drive, Longwood, FL 32750
1597818429 $19.99

Jeco has come a long way from being an orphan apprentice to his friend a blacksmith as he is now a scribe in the palace of King Alvard III, but remains ready to complete his quest to prevent a war. However, Baron Kagarlak persuades the monarch that Jeco plans seditious acts against the Kingdom of Kanavar so the youngster is imprisoned. However, Telm, the Elgur messenger of the heavens who assigned Jeco his quest, helps him escape the incarceration and the capital of Meoria. Joining him in flight is his friend Dalian the blacksmith and his teacher-friend Lord Farizel as they think King Alvard III wants them dead out of a false belief orchestrated by the evil Baron that they betrayed him. Meanwhile Baron Kagarlak persuades General Traun that Alvard is dangerous for their country and with a bit of blackmail convinces the military officer that a coup is needed. Unable to kill his Highness, General Traun exiles the disposed Alvard in woods where the former monarch is certain to die as he incapable of any survival skills. To save the King's life, Jeco, Lord Farizel, and Dalian must give up Telm's protection though that would place them in extreme peril from Alvard who may live still want them dead as well as from the Traitorous duo of the general and Baron. The final The Adventures of Jecosan Tarres is a terrific ending to a wonderful coming of age fantasy trilogy. The key cast members (the good, the bad, and the ugly) make for an exciting story line as decisions made by these people hurt others. Readers will root for Jeco, a young hero wise beyond in his years, as he tries to fulfill his mission to prevent a war between his country and the neighboring nation knowing his side is pushing the hostilities. Laura Lond provides a wonderful trilogy worth reading.

Secrets Volume 17
Kathy Kaye, Kathleen Scott, Ellie Marvel & Clista Fox
Red Sage
0975451677 $12.99

"Rock Hard Candy" by Kathy Kaye. In New Orleans, she has patiently waited for Alex to recognize that they are soulmates, but though he buys one double latte and a chocolate eclair from her almost everyday he fails to recognize that Jessica is the one for him. No longer willing to wait, she adds a love potion concoction that made an ancestor famous as a voodoo queen in the gooey center of his pastry. She succeeds, but fears what will happen when the potion finally leaves his system. "Fatal Error" by Kathleen Scott. Jesse knows his brainchild, a computer program, has taken control over every walk of life especially the government. He realizes he must destroy his program before the storm he created devastates everything. When he meets up with Soran, he realizes he still loves her as he did back in college together. He vows to die to keep her safe from his creation, not realizing she always loved him too. "Birthday" by Ellie Marvel. Just turned thirty-three, Jasmine decides this is night she will have sex. She knows who her choice is, her pal Charlie. "Intimate rendezvous" by Clista Fox. Someone is stalking Cassandra, owner of the exclusive nightclub Rendezvous. Private investigator Dean is hired to protect her and to uncover the identity of the culprit. However, he has his issues as he wants Cassandra with a passion he has never felt before. These are four erotic romances (duh – this Secrets) starring likeable couples who sub-genre fans will want to see how the women seduce the men of their dreams.

Secrets Volume 18
Rae Monet, Larissa Ione, Linda Gayle & Cynthia Eden
Red Sage
0975451685 $12.95

"Lone Wolf Three" by Rae Monet. The Solarian send Lakota Blackson to Elnar to negotiate a peaceful solution to the wolf problem with former rebel leader Taban Zias. Neither expected the attraction between them at first sight; both know they should recuse themselves from the negotiations or the sex, but cannot. "Flesh to Fantasy" by Larissa Ione. In Portland, Oregon Kelsa Bradshaw prefers the solitude of testing RPG video games ever since being friendly has led to males stalking her or her shoes. Thus she refuses to meet her new neighbor, paramedic Tent Jordan though she salivates over him. Trent wants to show her that reality is better than virtual with the right person. "Heart Full of Stars" by Linda Gayle. In Earth Year 2118 singer Fanta Rae stops on Mars when her hopper breaks down. At a bar she meets Security Specialist Alex Decker, whose family died during the Aggression that eradicated much of humanity. He is her first human male she has seen after a near decade of imprisonment by the M'gambi who comes to retake their property. Decker risks his life to protect his beloved soulmate. "The Wolf's Mate" by Cynthia Eden. Michael Morlet envies his pack leader Gareth who just met his soulmate as he craves to be doing likewise. A female shout for help takes him out of his revelry as she is the one. He rescues Kat Hardy from her assailant, but before he can make her his, he must protect her from a dangerous adversary who wants her dead. Though Lone Wolf Three and The Wolf's Mate are set in the same environs of each author's previous works, each nicely stand alone so readers obtain four delightfully heated speculative fiction romances; two science fictions, one virtual reality and a fantasy.

The Golden Crusader
Linda Langwith
Twilight Times Books
PO Box 3340, Kingsport, TN 37664
1933353910 $16.95 1-423-323-0183

Though she mourns the loss of her grandmother, Gemma Ravenscroft looks forward to returning to her homeland in England after years of living in Canada. She especially looks forward to living in Temple Cottage, the house near the sea that she inherited, as that is the only place that has ever felt like home to Gemma. Though her car gets mud-bound, Gemma feels that the return is near perfect when she meets Dr. Alex MacRae, who seems as attracted to her as she is to him. However, as she sails in her boat, a storm leaves her in a precarious situation until Coast Guard Captain Max Jennings rescues her. He is attracted to Gemma just like the physician is. Finally, the third male in her life is a Templar Knight ghost who demands she help him or he will keep haunting her. Life is full for Gemma since she came home though she never expected to find three hunks demanding her attention full time, being in the midst of an M15 SWAT operation, and trying to figure out whom wants to force her to leave as too many dangerous incidents seem to happen to her; Ottawa looks increasingly like a safer haven for her. THE GOLDEN CRUSADER is a fascinating paranormal amateur sleuth mystery starring a realistic female who is not confident or heroic yet tries her best especially when Max, Alex or the Templar King bully her to do so. Readers will like Gemma and wish the best for her as she struggles with relocation adjustment due to the incidents, the SWAT assault, the ghost, and the mortal hunks leaving her trusting no one while seeking to uncover who wants her either dead or back in Canada.

The Little Balloonist
Linda Donn
Plume (NAL)
c/o Penguin Group, USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0452287731 $13.00 1-800-847-5515

Wealthy inventor and dare devil Jean-Pierre Blanchard marries the much younger country bumpkin because he owes her family for saving his life when his latest contraption failed. Jean-Pierre especially enjoys soaring over the city in hot air balloons. To his shock clumsy Sophie takes to the air like a bird and is soon flying solo. After she becomes a widow, France recognizes that a female aviator is flying. Word quickly reaches Emperor Napoleon who is sick of his wife Josephine's extramarital affairs and her waste on expensive clothing that make her look like a peacock. Instead he years for Sophie and begin s courting her at the same time her childhood friend Andre Giroux the psychic healer comes wooing her too. THE LITTLE BALLOONIST is a terrific biographical fiction tale starring a highly admired female balloonist who could count Napoleon as one of her fans. The story line provides a deep look at the pioneer balloonists who bravely flew in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries; Jean Pierre and Sophie were real celebrities soaring above the masses. Readers will enjoy this delightful historical that uses a fascinating romantic triangle starring the emperor, the psychic and the balloonist to bring a lesser known part of Napoleonic France vividly soaring to readers.

Starship: Pirate
Mike Resnick
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
1591024900 $25.95 1-800-421-0351

Three millennia in the future the Republic is at war with the Teroni Federation and the commander of the Teddy R is one of the Republic's most decorated officers. His actions saved five million people but he exceeded his orders and was awaiting a court martial when his crew broke him out of jail and escaped on the Teddy R to the inner frontier. Wilson Cole and his crew are going to become moral pirates only stealing from other pirates. On his first foray into piracy he steals a fortune in diamonds and jewelry but when he goes to fence it David Copperfield only offers him a pittance of what it is worth. He "sells them back to the insurance company" but when he tries to do the same stunt with the jewels he is recognized and his visage is broadcast to the Republic. On a frontier planet, he meets the pirate Val, a pirate whose ship was stolen by Hammerhead Shark. She wants it back and Cole makes a deal with her. If she teaches him the ins and outs of piracy, he will help her get her ship back. He finds her ship as it is being chased by three other ships by because Hammerhead Shark raided another pirate's headquarters, killing that pirate's minions, destroying his estate and merchandise. Cole has to figure out a way to deal with both pirates without destroying Val's ship or getting himself killed. There is so much action in this fabulous space opera that readers will find themselves caught on a roller coaster ride they can't leave. The hero is a decent and honorable man who got sold out by the Republic and he knows he can never return there. He feels for the men who left their families behind to join him in exile but he finds piracy morally repugnant yet he doesn't know what to do until Copperfield gives him an idea. Mike Resnick is a brilliant storyteller who never disappoints his fans.

The Liberty Gun
Martin Sketchley
PYR Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
1591024927 $15.00 1-800-421-0351

In 2379 earth equivalent time Delgado and Ashala land on Seriatt, a planet at war between alien occupiers the Sinz (a triad species of humanoid, avian, and amphibian) vs. a native resistance movement. However, before they can act, the Seriattic insurgents capture Delgado and Ash. Their leader, Cowell, is a Vilume, one of the three genders that make up this race. The outsiders quickly learn that the seemingly invincible Sinz have made this orb their platform for the invasion of other worlds with earth on the agenda. Cowell forms an alliance with the two earthlings as they prepare for battle against the powerful common enemy as well as forming a strange romantic triangle. However, this Sinz contingent is cut off for now from their distant homeworld, which means they have supply problems as they need basillia, a subterranean organism to survive. Structure's Commander Supreme General William Myson sends Colonel Viktor Saskov to Seriatt with a "scorched earth" strategy to eradicate the basillia and to reclaim the time gate even if that means stranding or killing two operatives. However, as several groups move against the Sinz on Seriatt from different perspectives, the time-space continuum comes under assault. The third Structure science fiction thriller (see THE DESTINY MASK and THE AFFINITY TRAP) is a superb novel that makes a strong case how stupid people are to go to war over cultural, religious or ethical differences as everyone pays the price for these insane hostilities. The species seem odd yet genuine whether they are purebred earthlings, the three Seriatt humanoid genders, or the Sinz. Martin Sketchley makes the audience feel the planet Seriatt exist actually exists. Though the erotic scenes between two species are graphic and not for everyone, they add to an overall feel that the Sketchley universe is a dangerous real place.

Fey Born
R. Garland Gray
Medallion Press
27825 North Forest Garden Road, Wauconda, IL 60084
1932815821 $6.99

Keegan, whose faery name is Rain, is bored with his existence and takes mortal form to live among the Tuatha De Danann tribe in Drumanagh, Eire. One of the members of the tribe is Lana who has a weak heart and a strange birthmark on her body. Both are erotically aware of the other but it is forbidden for a guardian of the waters to mate with a mortal. Keegan is called before the High King Nuada where he is informed that the talisman sword Valor is missing and drowning in the water so he must recover it. The druidess of his human tribe insists he take the Sword Host Lana with him. Her mark means she can meld with the sword if the human guardian inside Valor is dead because of being immersed in water so long. After they handfast, they travel north to find Valor, a trip made hard because both want to mate with one another but can't because Lana must be pure to meld with the sword. They remain unaware of an enemy planning to use magic to kill him and capture her so this adversary can use the sword to become the next High King. Romantic fantasy readers will enjoy this magical and enchanted tale of two-star crossed lovers who must fight against overwhelming odds to achieve their goal. Lana who always thought she was weak learns she has the strength to hold her own with her fairy man and love him with all her heart. R. Garland Gray has the magic touch when it comes to writing fantasy.

In Deepest Consequences
Scott Kauffman
27825 North Forest Garden Road, Wauconda, IL 60084
1932815627 $6.99

Attorney Calvin Samuels left the prosecutor's office to become a public defender in the hopes that he could make a difference in the lives of some of his clients. He takes a particular interest in John Rogers, who could have done hard times for theft as this was his second offense; Calvin cajoled a credible witness into testifying that Rogers was sincere in going straight, attending college classes while waiting for the judge's ruling.. He gets probation, but soon after Rogers is found with two bullets in his head and eyes burned out by a cigarette lighter. Feeling he let down his friend John by not staying in touch, Calvin vows to provide the best defense possible for Mark Alexander, on trial for murder. He travels all over the state interviewing potential witnesses and family members of the people his client is accused of killing. The most damning evidence comes from Mark's ex-wife Allison Morris who will testify for the prosecution. After seeing her and others, Calvin begins to question whether his client committed murder including the killing of a mutual acquaintance, John Rogers. Scott Kauffman has written an exciting legal thriller in which the public defender uses his own time and money to track down witnesses and learn the truth; Calvin goes the extra marathon for his clients. The two prime cases (that of Rogers and Alexander) that make up the story line are fast-paced and a thrill to follow as Calvin's idealism and work ethic pushes him to be all that he can be and more. Readers will appreciate this dedicated defense attorney and feel for him when he begins to have doubts about Alexander's innocence.

Sunburst's Citadel
Therese Nichols
27825 North Forest Garden Road, Wauconda, IL 60084
1932815619 $6.99

Princess Shamsi was eleven years old when the massacre occurred. The Moghul Empire Overlord Prince Fazid desired Shamsi's mother, who was happily married to her father, the local ruler of Rajputana. When she was not handed over to him, he had his powerful army lay siege to the city before invading it. Anyone in his path was killed, but Prince Fazid failed to take his prize as she and the others killed themselves in an inferno. Outraged at this final act of defiance, Fazid slaughtered many more residents, but missed Shamsi in his wrath. Instead Gupta the thief found her amidst the ruins and took her with him. Seven years later, Shamsi is a beautiful veiled dancer that every male covets. When the military advisor to the Moghul Emperor Lord Karim rescues her and her "grandfather Gupta from a performance that turned ugly, he finds he desires her and is shocked to learn she is a virgin. As he learns the truth about who she is, he believes they have no future together; besides her being Rajput and he Moghul; he led the military excursion that Fazid turned into atrocities including the fiery deaths of her aristocratic family. SUNBURST'S CITADEL is an exhilarating eleventh century (my guess based on the deep descriptions of the city) romance that will grip the audience from the onset when the preadolescent Shamsi finds the ash remains of her mom and other beloved family members. The tale never slows down as Karim finds he must choose between love and loyalty though the insane Fazid makes it a bit easier to select as the military expert refuses to allow history to repeat itself with his beloved. Therese Nichols provides a strong refreshing historical romance.

Barking Goats and the Redneck Mafia
Dolores J. Wilson
27825 North Forest Garden Road, Wauconda, IL 60084
1932815635 $6.99

In Sweet Meadow, Georgia, Bertie Byrd and Arch Fortney celebrate their marriage with friends and family. However, before they can sneak away on their honeymoon (accompanied by his preadolescent daughter Petey), her best friend matron of honor Mary Lou Jarvis goes into labor. Bertie and Mary Lou's husband Rex take her to Shafer County Hospital where the alien comes out of nine months of hiding. Since Mary Lou and the kid are okay, Bertie, Arch and Petey begin the honeymoon in an RV starting with a nearby amusement park. As Bertie struggles with the dual tests of wife and mother, she comes home to her business, Bertie's Garage and Towing, to find the Redneck Mafia harassing Linc, her tow truck driver, which leads to rumors that Linc made a hole in one with her on the local golf course. This is an amusing slice of southern living starring a confused heroine trying to do what is right for her and for others though her efforts often lead to conflict between the general good and her personal good. Fans will root for Bertie who at times wants to say bye-bye to the pressure of her business, marriage, and parenting. The sequel to the humorous BIG HAIR AND FLYING COWS is a jocular look at small town Georgia.

Soulful Strut
Lynn Emery
Harper Torch
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060731044 $6.99 1-800-242-7737

Monette Victor spent fifteen years in prison claiming all along that then Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana DA Winn Barron falsified information that framed her. Now paroled because of new evidence that exonerates her, but not fully freed as she still belongs to Louisiana Department of Corrections, Monette vows to build a new life avoiding the mistakes that made her an easy mark for Barron. Having written a book, the media including Couric make Monette a star, but she vows to herself not to let all the attention get to her head. At New Beginnings where she is staying, Monette and Jayson Odum, owner of Quality Car Care Service, meet; the attraction is incredible as each feels the same desire for the other. They begin to see one another and fall in love. However, as her confidence grows in terms of her new foundation, Monette has doubts about relationships as her partying youth made her an easy target to convict her on drug selling. Unless she can overcome her fears about her own nature, Monette will remain imprisoned in a jail created by her mind. The romance between the lead couple seems unnecessary as SOULFUL STRUT is more a deep character study of a person getting a second chance at life. Though Jayson is a nice person, the tale belongs to Monette exclusively as she tries to balance the injustice she suffered from with her own culpabilities that led to making her an easy prey. Readers will root for her to make it as an underdog thriving to prove to everyone including herself who considered her an unworthy loser.

Surrender to a Scoundrel
Julianne MacLean
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060819367 $6.99

In 1891 England everyone recognizes Lord Martin Langdon as a throwback to the great rakes of the Regency era. His reputation as a scoundrel is well earned and he cherishes every word that he hears. When he hears rumors that widow Evelyn Wheaton is the frostiest prim and proper lady of them all, Martin sees a challenge because he knows how icy she can be since she rescued him from a lake when she was a child and from a dorm when she was sixteen. Still he decides the games afoot as he plans to have fun corrupting her. Though she hides her regard for Martin from him, Evelyn has him on a pedestal as her hero. She rejects the common belief that he loves his notorious reputation and would like to help him regain all he lost though she knows he would not make a good second husband for her. As he teaches her to sail, he finds he enjoys her elan for life. Soon he wants much more as he has fallen in love, but will she tell him that she surrendered her heart to this scoundrel when she was still a Foster. Though the typical plot of Guys and Dolls in a Victorian setting; readers will enjoy the game between the immovable scoundrel vs. the unbreakable moralist, as love changes the rules of their contest. The story line is fun to follow as Martin believes he is the one to break the ice unaware that his target worships him as she has for over a decade. Julianne MacLean provides a delightful charmer as the scoundrel surrenders to the siren.

Death on the Family Tree
Patricia Sprinkle
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060819685 $6.99

On her forty-sixth birthday, Katherine Morrow wakes up feeling alone and unwanted. Her husband works during the week in Washington DC and her children have grown up and left leaving her with nothing to do. She has a beautiful home in the Posh Atlantic superb of Buckhead but nobody to share it with. Her dull life suddenly gets more interesting when a box containing a necklace and a diary is delivered from the nursing home where her aunt recently died. She learns that her aunt had a brother that she never knew about who owned the two items she just received. He got them in Austria when he visited there in 1938. Katherine makes no secret about the items but someone obviously wants the diary because her home was broken into while she was there. The robber never saw her but he stole a collection of jade and the diary. Katherine feels lucky that she made copies of the diary but her house is broken into again and this time was totally destroyed. She believes thieves are looking for the necklace and the diary. Two people who knew about the objects were murdered and if Katherine isn't careful, she could be the next victim. Patricia Sprinkle who writes cozies that have no violence in them has started a new mystery series that is every bit as good as her Judge MacLaren Yarbrough and Sheila Travis series. The protagonist copes in one week with more traumatic incidents then most people do in a life time. She earns the admiration of the audience by her actions and the way she copes single handedly with events that are very frightening. The storyline is totally absorbing and the fast paced plot will keep readers turning the pages.

Pleasure Prolonged
Cathryn Fox
Avon Red
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060898550 $13.95

Erin Shay was the lab assistant to Laura Manning and Jay Cutler, but they are currently on their honeymoon (see PLEASURE CONTROL). Thus she is assigned the project of testing whether the PLEASURE PROLONGED serum developed in their lab can safely extend lovemaking. Erin is euphoric over the opportunity though she admits that being a prim and proper virgin makes her an unlikely candidate for the elixir experiment because she must act the part of a wild woman. Assigned to help Erin is lab assistant, Kale Alexander, a hunk that has the research scientist fantasizing what they could do together with and without the serum though she assumes she is out of his league as centerfolds do not look one at female geeks. As they work together on the experiment, the sex is incredible, but that only enhances the love that blossoms between them. As with the prequel, PLEASURE PROLONGED feels like a modern day hotter version of the Grant-Rogers film Monkey Business. This time the pairing of two scientists is different because Kale has no doubts what he wants while Erin lacks confidence outside the Bunsen burner world. Combining humor, sex, science, sex, relationships, and sex, Cathryn Fox provides her audience with a pleasing prolonged pleasure read.

Desire Never Dies
Jenna Petersen
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0061138088 $5.99

In 1813 Emily Redgrave arrives at the home of her best friend widow Anastasia Whittig, but not on a social call; Emily was shot while working as a spy for the king. Anastasia, her fellow agent, sends for the doctor and their handler Charles "Charlie" Isley. Emily, barely able to whisper, tells Ana it was a trap while her host knows full well her severely injured friend might not make it through the night. Though recruited five years earlier, the timid Ana is assigned to uncover the identity of the counterspy who harmed Emily before this rogue causes more trouble. Notorious rake Lucas Tyler is assigned as her partner on this endeavor. He doubts female spies with no filed experience and even less confidence are capable of performing the mission; she thinks he is too full of himself, his pleasures and his loyalty to see the truth that his friend wheelchair bound Henry is either indirectly behind or the mastermind causing the deaths of agents even as they fall in love. The sequel to FROM LONDON WITH LOVE, DESIRE NEVER DIES, is a fun Regency romantic espionage thriller starring a wonderful heroine who knows she is the best at breaking codes, but believes she is the worst at relationships as she assumes men detest her meekness. Lucas is more stereotypical of the dashing hero, but the refreshing Ana breaks him out of the historical hunk type-casting. The villain lacks depth as his motives seem off kilter and the twist associated with him is a bit of a shocker to everyone except Ana, but subtracts rather than enhances a wonderful Charlie's Angels in Regency England tale.

Wild and Wicked in Scotland
Melody Thomas
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0061129593 $5.99

In 1874 American heiress Cassandra Sheridan attends her betrothal ball in Hamstead, England, but instead of a joyous festive affair, the colonist is upset as her fiance, whom she has never met, fails to arrive. Though she knows this is an arranged match between her family money and his title as an Earl, she thinks Devlyn St. Clair is a pompous selfish cad probably womanizing. Rather than sit around wondering about the rogue she is engaged to marry, the steel spine Yank decides to journey to Scotland. During her quest she meets a dashing scoundrel, who vows to keep her safe even before he realizes that she is his American fiancee Cassie. Though she knows she should detest him, Cassie falls in love with her companion who reciprocates her feelings. However, he must complete his mission as a British spy in a cat and mouse game with the notorious Russians, Nicholas Ivanov and his consortium cohorts as the Cossack thirsts for an eye for an eye with Cassie being the perfect revenge for Devlyn killing his son though that was in the line of duty. WILD AND WICKED IN SCOTLAND is an exhilarating Victorian romantic espionage thriller starring a delightful intrepid heroine and the spy who came out of the cold due to her love for him. The story line is fast-paced as Devlyn knows he will do anything to keep Cassie safe as he fears that the duplicitous clever Russian knows his weakness and will exploit it; she is the cheese that his adversary will move and manipulate and murder if it would destroy him. Melody Thomas provides fabulous one sitting historical thriller.

Love in the Fast Lane
Jenna McKnight
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060843470 $5.99

Professional race-car driver T.S. "Scotty" Templeton was pushing his Porsche towards 200 MPH when he realizes he has a passenger who came out of nowhere. The "hitchhiker" says he is Larry" Speed" Cooper. On the two way radio Scotty asks his boss who is Speed Cooper and learns the man next to him was a 1970s stock car champion, who is a ghost asking the distracted driver to deliver something for him. Scotty agrees so that he can concentrate on the race while his boss and the pit crew chief think he smoked something this morning. Scotty visits Speed's daughter Maggie in St. Louis, accompanied by the ghost and his heavy delivery that the spirit insists belongs in the barn. Lawrence's mother Gremmy knows her son is there though she cannot see him while his daughter thinks the hunk is a lunatic trying to hustle her Gremmy even if he makes her heart skip a beat. As they fall in love, she knows he is bad for her executive career climb besides which she just ended a relationship; Scotty knows a winner when he sees one so he goes all out for the checkered flag of love. Though the finish line seems too abrupt, fans will appreciate this charming blending of the paranormal with racing cars. The characters make the humorous whimsical story line fun as Scotty struggles with the ghost who never shuts up that only he apparently can see while he courts the spirit's daughter. The support cast from Lawrence to Gremmy to Goth sister Ruby makes for a jocular lighthearted supernatural romance.

Autumn in Scotland
Karen Ranney
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060757450 $6.99

In 1833 London Charlotte Haversham married Scottish Earl George MacKinnon, but except for that first night he never came to her bed. Soon afterward he abandoned his wife all together, but not before he collected her dowry. So being a paragon of behavior, Charlotte travels to her husband's home Castle Balfurin to live amidst the falling apart edifice and ruined land though he is not there. She finds the cold dark and damp abode inviting and plans to renovate the castle and invigorate the estate. Five years later, Dixon MacKinnon arrives at the family home Balfurin expecting ruins, but finding a warm home instead. The woman running the castle, Charlotte insists she is his wife, but he realizes she has confused him with his cousin George who has vanished without a trace; he fails to correct Charlotte's error though he is not sure why except that he wants her. As he investigates what happened to that wastrel George and searches for rumored treasure hidden on the estate, he falls in love. However Dixon knows he owes his beloved the truth, but fears he will lose the treasure he has found, Charlotte. AUTUMN IN SCOTLAND is a charming historical romance with a touch of the gothic and a bit of a mystery to enhance the prime plot of the growing attraction between the lead couple. Charlotte is a delightful person who keeps her head high though George took her dowry, her virginity, and her dignity when he left her. Dixon is caught in the classic web of deceit as he knows the truth must be told, but the cost could destroy him as he knows his beloved does not trust men especially MacKinnon males. Karen Ranney provides a heated nineteenth century Scottish romance that her fans will treasure.

Night of the Living Deb
Susan McBride
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060845554 $6.99

In Dallas, defense attorney Brian Malone accompanies his friend Matty Karas, a groom to "The Men's Club" bordello as his engaged buddy wants a lap dance before he says I do. Bored with the "Stepford Strippers", Brian cannot wait to leave so he can sit on the lap of his girlfriend Debutante Dropout Andrea "Andy" Kendricks, Brian is stunned to recognize one of the dancers. He goes over to see her, but suddenly goes down the proverbial "rabbit hole". No one has seen him since. While Brian vanishes, his former girlfriend and legal partner Allie Price takes a reluctant Andy to see the Chippendales perform. As she watches the hunks show off their wares while performing, Andy pictures her socially correct upper class mother, Cissy having cardiac arrest for her daughter breaking the upper crust rules again by attending this show. Not long afterward Matty tells Andy that Brian dumped him at The Men's Club to leave with one of strippers; Andy knows her Brian too well to believe that though Allie insists otherwise. However, Allie"the Blond Menace" and the Debutant Dropout investigate with both knowing that she will be the one to boast I told you so. The fourth debutant dropout mystery (see THE LONE STAR LONELY HEARTS CLUB) is a delightful humoresque amateur sleuth tale starring enemy combatants teaming up to learn what happened and why to the missing Brian. Readers will enjoy the Blond Menace's assessment that Brian ran off with a hooker vs. the loyal Andy insisting he must have been abducted. Fans of the series will enjoy this lively entry that starts with the club celebration and never slows down until the end when the heroine kicks herself with her pinching Manolos.

Not Another New Year's
Christie Ridgeway
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
006114021X $6.99

Feeling lonely in a bar on New Year's Eve in Coronado, California, Hannah Davis reflects back on how miserable the last year has been starting and ending with her fiance marrying someone. Also in the bar is a gloomy looking hunk. Thinking misery loves miserable company, she takes the stud to bed with her. However early the next morning some screaming female who could wake up the dead explodes into their room shouting at her bed mate. Former Secret Service Agent Tanner Hart cannot believe his luck that of all the women to sleep with he picks the person he is supposed to protect. As Hannah realizes what they shared was much greater than a one night stand, Tanner agrees and he is resolved not to let this one get away Returning to Coronado for New Year's after spending Christmas in the town (see MUST LOVE MISTLETOE), Christie Ridgeway provides her fans with a humorous lighthearted romance. The story line focuses on the lead couple as they struggle with their feelings starting with the morning after once they are introduced by the screaming banshee intruder. Though the suspense is used almost exclusively as a reason for Hannah and Tanner to remain together in order to know one another and their hearts' desire, fans will enjoy this fine holiday fare and root for another couple (Tanner's brother) to make it a delightful Valentine's Day.

Secrets and Lies
Selena Montgomery
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060798513 $6.99

Recovery Specialist Sebastian Caine is the best coming out of the shadows to steal valuable object d'art for his clients whether it is America, New Delhi, England or elsewhere. His current assignment stealing the Cinchona, a five century old manuscript, looks quite easy as the owner, antiquities collector Felix Estrada, is on a buying trip in Buenos Aires. However, after he disarms the alarm and slips inside Estrada's home in the small South American country of Bahia, nothing goes right as he realizes the cutting of the alarm wire did not include the hissing sound. Worse he finds dying from a knife wound Estrada who pleads for Caine to protect his "cat" though the thief finds no pet. Caine learns that the murdered Felix's cat is his beautiful niece ethno-botanist Dr. Katelyn Lyda. He assumes she must be even more morally flexible than he is as he has never killed anyone while he also concludes Kat took the manuscript after she murdered her uncle. He follows the clues until he finally locates Kat in the Andes. Though each wonders if the other murdered Felix, they are attracted to one another, but survival comes first as those who killed her uncle are coming for them in search of the Cinchona. SECRETS AND LIES is a fast-paced action thriller starring a very ethical female and a Hans Solo like thief, who appears in Selena Montgomery's previous treasure hunt murder mystery HIDDEN SINS. The tale starts at a fast-pace in Estrada's home and never slows down as Sebastian and Kat struggle to stay alive against nasty foes. Fans of romantic suspense thriller that require one sitting read will want to join the thief and the scientist as she steals his heart while both try to survive.

A Little Bit Wicked
Victoria Alexander
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
006088262X $6.99

In 1854 at a London wedding, Lords Norcroft, Cavendish, and Warton and the American Sinclair bet on who would be the last man standing defined as unmarried. Each antes up a shilling and a quarter share of the cost of a rare bottle Cognac to toast the losers after the other three are in bondage. All expect to win as none plan to marry. Gideon Warton figures he is a sure shot to drink to the others because he has tasted marriage having been wedded for a single day to Violet; he vowed then and now to never make that blunder again though he knows he must marry one day to sire an heir. When she was eighteen Lady Judith Chester married, but her husband died a dozen years ago. She is wealthy enough to not need a man and has vowed to never marry again though she enjoys male company. Before Judith and Gideon hit the sheets for their first tryst, she informs that they will enjoy their time together, but nothing beyond friendship is acceptable; he agrees to her terms. As they keep the boudoir steamy, they fall in love, but the widow Violet returns claiming she always loved Gideon not her late spouse who inconveniently died. This is a fun Victorian romance starring two likable protagonists and a fabulous support cast especially the other betters, who are so good in their minimal appearances sub-genre fans will have plenty to look forward to in the near future. The story line is fast-paced as each of the lead couple has reasons not to form a permanent relationship having had failed ones in the past. This reviewer knows a sure bet when she reads one, which in this case is that Victoria Alexander will receive plenty of accolades for this lively mid nineteenth century romance.

Impossibly Tongue Tied
Josie Brown
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060815884 $12.95

Nina and Nathan Harte moved to Los Angeles so that he can find work as an actor. To help them achieve their goal, Nina works two jobs as a phone sex operator and as a clerk at a grocery store with her spouse's understanding and agreement. Nina meets agent Sam Godwin who is attracted to her. He takes Nathan's demo and gives it to married director Hugo. As Nathan begins to make it in Hollywood he dumps Nina for a man-eating popular actress and then sues her for custody of their young son based on her unfitness to be a mother because of her phone sex employment job. This is a fascinating look at Hollywood relationships though five degrees of Bacon seem more like one degree as everyone is interconnected for instance Hugo's wife thinks he is having an affair, while he is actually having telephone sex with Nina, etc. The key cast members seem real especially the star Nina who believes in Nathan until he betrays her twice with the affair and with the custody suit. The rest of the prime players add understanding of how Nina, Nathan, and Sam think. In spite of it's a small world concept, IMPOSSIBLY TONGUE TIED is an interesting work of contemporary fiction that readers of Jackie Collins fans will enjoy.

Seduce Me
Dahlia Schweitzer
Avon Red
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060891491 $13.95

SEDUCE ME contains twelve short stories with each of these contributions being twenty pages or under and one novella ("At Work" is 88 pages). The entries are all fast and hot as they range the gamut of erotica. The tales include sex with the same gender ("Sivan"), love "At Work", "Rick" who loves cleaning his mistress' feet, masturbating ("Letter to a Lover") and other scenarios from bondage to tonguing. None of the stories go deep (except physically), but fans of the sub-genre will still gain plenty of thrilling pleasure from these entertaining heated tales.

False Mirror
Charles Todd
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060786736 $23.95 1-800-242-7737

In the village of Hampton Regis, Stephen Mallory is accused of attacking Matthew Hamilton leaving the latter in a coma and currently holds hostage the man's wife Felicity and their maid Nan. The distraught WWI veteran demands that his former commanding officer Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge arrive at the scene as he refuses to neither speak with anyone else nor release anyone. Rutledge, who has his own issues from the combat (the ghost of Hamish MacLeod, whom he had executed during the war) rushes to the village. There the locals inform Ian that this is a love triangle turned ugly as everyone the Inspector speaks to explains that Felicity, Stephen's former lover before he went off to fight did not wait for his return from the recent war but instead married Matthew; they also insist Mallory wants Felicity back and is willing to kill Hamilton to achieve his objective. Ian thinks the assault is too perfect and wonders who else might have a motive to harm Hamilton. He quickly draws up a list of possibilities, but none seem quite right except for Mallory. This is a superb historical mystery with the usual late twists and the message that those coming back from war return with potential deep rooted emotional problems from all the horrors they witness. The story line is fast-paced, but also vividly paints a deep picture of a small English village just after the end of WWI. Fans will feel for all the key players as each has ghosts to contend with, but none more than Rutledge and Mallory. A FALSE MIRROR is a winner in one of the best ongoing twentieth century police procedurals series.

Mathematics of Love
Emma Darwin
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0061140260 $24.95 1-800-242-7737

Having lost his leg during the Napoleonic War, British military officer Stephen Fairhurst also learns several years later the other cost as the widow he is to marry Hetty Greenshaw faints at the sight or lack of his leg. She begs off their engagement. However her unmarried sister photographer enthusiast Lucy Durward begins a correspondence with Stephen after he returned to his home Kersey Hall. He writes her informing her that he found a "perfect" love on the Peninsular, but his Catalina was sent to an orphanage by her parents to become a nun. In 1976 with her mother running off to Spain with her lover, sixteen years old Anna Ware arrives at Kersey Hall to stay with her uncle, who for the most part neglects her. His neighbors, photographers Eva and Theo, are kind to the despondent teen, but Anna remains unhappy. She begins to slowly climb out of her depression when she receives and reads the letters between Stephen and Lucy. Though too many players get stage time, this is a fascinating character study especially when the story line focuses on the respective angst of Stephen, Lucy, and Anna. The links between 1819 and 1976 are cleverly designed so that Anna finds solace with photography and the letters, and learns what it truly means to be loved. Though the secondary cast makes too many appearances that intrude, fans will enjoy going back and forth (and occasionally into 2006) as Emma Darwin provides a warm drama that equates love in two generations as being the same mathematical formula.

Flesh and Bone
Jefferson Bass
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060759836 $24.95 1-800-242-7737

Over two years ago his beloved wife of thirty years died of cancer; only recently has forensic scientist Dr. Bill Brockton, chief of the Anthology Research Faculty at the University of Tennessee affectionately known as the Body Farm, moved on to a degree. Between his work and meeting Chattanooga medical examiner Dr. Jessamine Carter, Bill has recovered from his loss. Six months ago Jess temporally took over the ME role in Knoxville after her predecessor Dr. Hamilton botched a murder case. Jess asks for Bill and his assistant Miranda to help her with the homicide of a young man in Prentice Cooper State Park. They set up a corpse in similar crime scene conditions to determine what happened. However, the case takes a nasty spin when the police reluctantly bring a second victim to the Body Farm. Someone has murdered tough vivacious Jess with the cops suspecting Bill as the culprit knew what he was doing to rig a crime scene. Though the romantic angle between Jess and Bill seems a bit forced, readers will enjoy this tense crime thriller as the Body Farm doctor needs to prove he did kill his new squeeze. He seems the likely suspect because an insider professional had to commit the homicide. The story line is excellent when the forensics science is at the forefront, which is thankfully frequent as those less squeamish will appreciate what the team performs to emulate crime conditions. Though the culprit is obvious early on, readers will enjoy FLESH AND BONE as Dr. Brockton has two strong personal reasons to motivate him into uncovering the identity of the killer.

Tyler Knox
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0061143332 $23.95 1-800-242-7737

The cockroach wakes up in a 1950s Times Square roach hotel to find somehow he no longer is a bug, but instead has become a male human. Though he is unhappy to devolve into a man, Kockroach is not concerned as his species understands survival of the fittest having been around since the dinosaur age and still thriving in the cement jungles in spite of weapons of mass destruction better known as human shoes. Kockroach takes the name of Jerry Blatta as he meets street punk Mickey "Mite" Pimelia, who sees the transformed bug as a way to make a fortune in the world of gangs. However, Jerry notices that Mighty Mite is soft on crippled telephone operator Celia so he keeps that handy in case he needs to use this info. Celia finds the roach morality of survival is everything quite enticing. Meanwhile king Kockroach begins to climb his way to the top of the gangs as he understands inducing fear. Tyler Knox cleverly satirizes Kafka's Metamorphosis and 1950s Noirs with this delightfully dark saga. The antihero sees the world through cockroach glasses as he realizes that humans run on fight (over possessions) or flight (out of fear). Thus combining "moral" bug instincts with insightful clarity of the dreaded shoe stomping society he has joined, Blatta provides quite a vivid picture of the human condition, always one step away from the graveyard. Readers will appreciate this powerful gloomy parable. Well Bred and Dead Catherine O'Connell HarperCollins, Jan 2007, $13.95 ISBN: 0061122157 Chicago socialite Pauline Cook remains shocked not just because she found his body. She understands grieving the death of her best friend high society writer Ethan Campbell, but she cannot comprehend why he committed suicide especially in a T-shirt as he knew the importance of a proper exit. She also wonders how she was so oblivious she saw no signs of his distress. Pauline needs to know the answers to those questions for her well being so she looks around Ethan's apartment for clues where she finds a birth certificate with the name Daniel Kehoe on it. The determined Pauline follows up on that name until evidence sends her to England where she meets Irishman Terrance Sullivan. However, the mission continues as she follows the clues this time to Boston and on to Rochester where she meets Daniel's half-sister. This leads her to Charleston where she begins to believe that her Ethan killed the original Ethan. Heartbroken even with Terrance accompanying her, Pauline goes home where an estate bounty hunter insists her Ethan was the illegitimate son of a late wealthy Bostonian man who left him a fortune that she will inherit. Suddenly wealthy Pauline decides a trip to Paris is just the thing to enable her to move on; except everything comes full circle when she encounters her immediate past in France. WELL BRED AND DEAD is a terrific amateur sleuth thriller that may be the debut mystery of the year. The story line amusingly looks at high society, whose mavens believe image is everything and so do almost anything including spin doctoring to maintain the veneer of an affluent lifestyle even when the credit cards are beyond the max. The why issue is cleverly designed so that the readers need to accompany Pauline on her oceanic journey while the final twist that answers the key question will stun the audience yet seem so right.

When Darkness Falls
James Grippando
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060831138 $24.95 1-800-242-7737

Miami Police Sergeant Vincent Paulo has been a crisis negotiator for seven years, but this incident with Falcon on the Powell Bridge over Biscayne Bay is his first since he went blind. Vince has talked Falcon out of soaring in the past, but he was sighted then. Falcon insists on speaking with the mayor's daughter, police officer Alicia Mendoza, in fifteen minutes or else. As Vince, SWAT leader Juan Chavez and the Chief discuss what to do, Alicia arrives at the scene. Hearing her voice stuns Vince, who when he lost his sight informed her they must stop seeing each other. When Paulo persuades Falcon to come down from the bridge, three SWAT cops grab him and arrest him. Freedom Institute boss Neil Goodrich refers the case to criminal defense lawyer Jack Swyteck, who meets with his new client to find out if Falcon lucid. He insists he can pay his bond and his lawyer. Not long afterward, Falcon changes his modus operendi of threatening to leap off bridges when he wants to talk with city officials by holding several hostages including Jack's friend, Theo Knight. Jack works with Vince trying to prevent the tragedy of innocent people killed because of incidents going back over two decades ago to Argentina's Dirty War. The key characters are terrific and make this thriller a winner in spite of a seemingly improbable over the top but exhilarating plot. Vince provides insightful observations on how the sighted treat a blind person is classifying them into those who assume blind means pathetic and those who deem it means psychic. Jack and Falcon are a wonderful pairing as their lawyer-client discussions are priceless. The rest of the cast adds to the understanding of these three men or push forward this exciting story line that grips its audience from the moment Falcon perches on the bridge and never lets readers go until the final leap.

Darker Than Love
Kristina Lloyd
Black Lace
0352332794 $7.99

In 1875, young and naive Clarissa Longleigh is coming to London to meet her fiance Lord Alexander Marldon for the first time. She has dreamed of him ever since she learned of the arranged marriage. She pictures him as dark because her father Charles said so and handsome as her personal Prince Charming should be as he loves and honors her. However, she is a bit concerned that her country ways may embarrass a city sophisticate like her Alexander. He fits are description perfectly as he is dark, handsome and sophisticated. However, she soon learns she may have wished for the wrong thing, as her Alex is also a sexual predator who is a sadist. Alex has plans for his beautiful fiance to turn her into his sexual slave as he believes that the body is what binds people not some concept called love. Married, he begins his assault on her soul claiming that and her body belongs to him. When he learns she has befriended Gabriel the artist without his permission, he locks her away in the dungeon of his estate where he will educate her on forces much stronger and DARKER THAN LOVE starting with imprisoning the Italian painter who failed at his rescue attempt. This is a deep erotic historical romantic suspense that stars a debauched aristocrat, his naive spouse, and the painter who loves her. The triangle is cleverly played so the audience can compare the different ways Alexander and Gabriel treat Clarissa; thus the heated XXX moments from bondage to straight sex and more are key elements to the story line. Readers who appreciate a well written torrid tale in which love battles sexual deviation will want to read this superior sub-genre Victorian.

Asking for Trouble
Kristina Lloyd
Black Lace
0352333626 $7.99

Thirty years old bar manager Beth Bradshaw moves to Brighton, England where she looks out her window while hanging up her curtains to observe a stranger mimic her motions. Irate, she flashes him with her boobs, feeling like an amazon until she calms down and thinks she is just Beth not a warrior woman ready to battle a pervert. Ilya calls her to welcome her to the neighborhood asking her if she came earlier when the mime was there. Unable to stop herself, Beth tells her darkest fantasies to Ilya, which excites him too. They agree to fulfill her fantasies with him sexually humiliating her forcing her to act like a slut. The only stipulations are that this is a sex only tryst with no other binds except ties to a bedpost and no rape; although she claims that is her deepest desire as she wants to be the victim of the roughest sex short of physical injury. Finally they agree that if things get out of hand, a safe word will end the encounter and relationship. However Beth can't just say no, as she has become addicted to these abusive sexual encounters until Ilya decides he needs to use his submissive to help him with his past that has arrived to bother him. Living up to its title, readers know from the first confrontation that Beth is ASKING FOR TROUBLE when she confides in the enigmatic Ilya. She is a fascinating protagonist as her needs affirm how much the mind plays in sexual encounters. Ilya is much more complex as the audience will continually wonder what he truly wants from Beth besides a permanent hard-on. Fans of erotic romance will appreciate this fine tale while pondering is it worth the risk?

Brian McGrory
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
0743463684 $25.00

Forty years ago, someone killed Albert DeSalvo, the self-confessed "Boston Strangler", in prison; case closed. Until now that is. Boston Record reporter Jack Flynn, on the verge of marrying his beloved Maggie Kane, ignores his upcoming nuptials to investigate a new string of homicides that eerily parallel that of the Strangler. The press dubs the new killer the "Phantom Fiend". Jack begins his investigation by scanning the 1960s record to determine whether he agrees with officialdom that DeSalvo was the original killer. However, not surprisingly at least to Jack who used to work the DC beat (see THE INNOCENT), several Massachusetts' prominent citizens especially those in law enforcement today and in the 60s want him to leave the past buried with DeSalvo. His first police contact FOJ (friend of Jack) Leo Goldsmith tells him for his own good to back off from that approach. Pressure to cease and desist comes especially from supporters of Stu Callahan, the State senior Senator who prosecuted the DeSalvo conviction. Ignoring everyone including his fiancee, Jack receives correspondence from the apparent killer who forces him into a contest in which not playing or failure means women will be STRANGLED. Though an exciting journalistic investigative thriller, STRANGLED is one of those tales that could have been a classic, but chooses the modern day cat and mouse action over the more fascinating look back at the DeSalvo confession. The story line is fast-paced as Jack knows he cannot ignore the deadly contest even if every politico law enforcement type demands he does as he believes the serial killer must be stopped and he has the insider track though the cost on his personal life might prove expensive. Reader will enjoy this murder mystery, but once done wonder about DeSalvo.

The Machiavelli Covenant
Allan Folsom
0765313057 $25.95

Congressman Parsons and his son dies in a plane crash followed shortly afterward by the death of his wife Caroline from a strange infection. Before she dies, however, she informs her past lover, former Los Angeles police detective Nicholas Marten that they were killed because they uncovered an illegal deadly bio-weapons program headed by a South African scientist-terrorist. When he realizes the Feds are not following up, Nick, stunned by Caroline's death and the lack of government activity, begins his investigation into her allegations. Meanwhile, American President John Henry Harris learns that someone inside the White House directed the assassinations of the German chancellor and the French President with plans to place in charge friendlier allies in order to launch a bio attack on the Middle East. He objects, but is told to obey orders or die; to make it clear to Harris who is in charge they strip him of his secret service protection. Harris flees, but soon meets up with Nick, as both are now targets of the White House. This is a non-stop action thriller that never slows down for a moment as the unlikely allies (along with a third person, the required beautiful woman who happens to be a French reporter) are the mice escaping one harrowing attack by professionals after another. Though implausible as the odds of surviving one attempt is much greater than Douglas-Tyson (I know who won) yet multiples seem impossible. Still no one will care as the preemptive strike crowd take control of the White House and set in motion their plan to use biological weapons of mass destruction. For adrenalin rush junkies and the Cheney let them eat red meat supporters only.

Irish Linen
Andrew M. Greeley
0765315866 $25.95

Idealist peace lover Desmond Doolin is missing somewhere in the Middle East, probably Iraq where his Chicago based family last heard from him. The US government does what it does best, deny knowing anything about what happened to Desmond or if he is even alive. Having heard nothing for several weeks, his grieving family assumes he is dead. Part-time psychic Nuala Anne McGrail finds out that fellow Windy City resident Desmond vanished without a trace somewhere allegedly in the Middle East. While everyone else concludes he was murdered, she believes he remains alive. She persuades her spouse Dermot Michael Coyne, who trusts her instincts, that they must follow the missing man's path both in the Middle East and with the Catholic Church. The investigation into Desmond's disappearance engages readers, as Nuala Anne's psychic power keeps her and Dermot believing the young man is alive; he especially has come a long way from the earlier tales. However, a memoir written by an Irish diplomat to Nazi Germany that the lead couple is reading is also fascinating but distracts from the prime plot though it makes some interesting muses like "Wars are easier to start than to end". Still this is an intriguing thriller starring an interesting obstinate protagonist.

Daughter of Hounds
Caitlin R. Kiernan
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street New York, NY 10014
0451461258 $14.00 1-800-847-5515

The children of the Cuckoo or changelings are taken from their cribs by hell-hounds and given to ghouls to train as obedient slaves. They learn to hate everything and everyone Above ground and to serve their masters Below ground. Soldier, a changeling, is given assignments by the ghouls' minion the Bailiff to kill beings living Above ground who threaten their exposure and to assassinate changelings who break the rules. Soldier believes her superiors plan to exterminate her as her usefulness has ended. Eight year old Emily Silvey of the yellow eyes is warned by Saben Whiteto avoid horses when she visits her stepmother in New York or she, her stepmom and her friend will be dead. When a woman in a dream also warns her that she is in danger and to leave her father, she complies even though she has doubts about the veracity of her vision. When she meets Soldier, both realizes they are linked and try to save one another from the ghouls who are coming to kill Soldier and abduct Emily as she serves a special purpose in their master plan Caitlin R. Kiernan pays homage to Lovecraft in the scary DAUGHTER OF HOUNDS. There is a sense of the foreboding gothic that creeps out the audience and the antagonists who set much of the pace seem freaky and deadly. Reminiscent of Poppy Z. Brite's darkest thrillers, Ms. Kiernan provides Goth horror fans with a suspense laden tale that keeps readers' attention because they want to learn why Emily is so important throughout this one sitting tense tale.

Rebel Fay
Barb & J.C. Hendee
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street New York, NY 10014
0451461215 $23.95 1-800-847-5515

Ever since he found the skulls of his grandmother and father and learned that his mother was being held prisoner by the elfin caste of Anmaglahk (Assassins) Leesil is obsessed with going into Elven Territories and rescuing her. His lover Dhampire Magiere, the sage Wynn, and the dog Chap, a Fay taking mortal form accompany him. He knows none of them will be welcome in the Elven lands because Mortangel Father hates humans and is doing his best to set them against each other in their own lands. Caught in a blizzard, something guides themto a labyrinth of caves and sets them on an underground path that leads to the Elven Territories. Before they can go to look for Leesil's mother, Most Aged Father tells Leesil that he will free her if he finds out the names of the rebels who are trying to free themselves from his rule. Leesil refuses and Chap leads him to his mother who due to magic cannot leave the area. When Magiere's Dhampire nature surfaces, she is put on trial and only Leesil can save her if the land and the ancestors accept his half-elven heritage. REBEL FAY brings readers one step closer to understanding why Leesil's mother trained him as an assassin, a weapon to be used against the unknown enemy of the elves and why Magiere was created with the blood of the five races running through her veins. Filled with plenty of action, romance and elven intrigue, Magiere and Leesil work together against their common enemies to free the latter's mother and cast doubts on Most Aged Father's ability to lead.

Guy Gavriel Kay
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street,New York, NY 10014
0451461290 $24.95 1-800-847-5515

Renowned Canadian photographer Edward Marriner takes his teenage son Ned with him as he shoots the medieval constructed Saint-Sauveur Cathedral in Aix-en-Provence. Though enjoying their Southern France locale, the male Marinners worry about the females in the family, Ned's mom and Edward's wife Meghan, a Doctors Without Borders volunteer, currently serving in the dangerous Sudan. While exploring a centuries old cathedral without a guide, Ned meets American exchange student, Kate Wenger, a "Wikepedia" of local historical information. The self-proclaimed female geek takes Ned on a tour of the cathedral, but whereas she sees mystery and beauty he sees a mess of old rocks. However at the baptistry, circa 500 AD, a man who does not belong there holding a knife warns them to leave, as this not a safe place for children to play. However, unable to depart, Ned and Kate become entangled in an ancient love triangle that could prove deadly to the two teenage twenty-first century intruders. YSABEL is a terrific contemporary fantasy with a historical base that grips the audience once the teen explorers meet the man with the knife and never slows down through a series of clever twists until the final event involving two sisters directly related to Ned. The story line is fast-paced and filled with historical depth especially involving the Cathedral and the love triangle, but also contains a strong cast whether they lived in ancient times or today. The final spin will stun the audience as Guy Gavriel Kay ties everything brilliantly together in an enthralling enlightening epic.

Stalking Ivory
Suzanne Arruda
New American Library
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451220269 $23.95 1-800-847-5515

In 1920 with the war over and the need for female ambulance drivers also over, Jade del Cameron completed a death bed promise in British East Africa (see MARK OF THE LION). Though her quest is done, Jade decides to stay for now and even mentors a preadolescent lad, Jelani. Jade accompanied by her friends Lord Avery Dunbury and his wife Beverly, and Jelani head towards the Mount Marasbit elephant preserve, but are horrified by the corpses of four elephants killed for their tusks as ivory sells big in western markets. Nearby she also finds the remains of a King's soldier obviously killed by the poachers who butchered the elephants. Jade especially personalizes the kills and vows to bring to justice to the poachers whether they are natives, Abyssinian raiders, western safari leaders like Harry Hascombe, or some other avaricious souls. STAKING IVORY is a delightful historical whodunit starring an independent courageous woman who wants to see justice occur for the brutally slaughtered animals and the dead soldier. Jade risks her life to do so though she finds an ally in a pilot Sam Featherstone. Fans of Alexander McCall Smith's Precious Ramotswe No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency tales will join Jade on her amateur sleuthing safari.

Hell Hath No Curry
Tamar Myers
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street,New York, NY 10014
0451220331 $21.95 1-800-847-5515

Magdalena Yoder, a conservative Mennonite who owns the PennDutch Inn, where celebrities, the rich and power brokers go to, has rearranged the town hierarchy to meet her requirements. As the new mayor of Hernia, she hires Olivia Hornsby-Anderson as the new police chief; unlike the old chief, Olivia appreciates Magdalena's investigative abilities and appreciates her help on homicides. She also hires a new reverend for the Beechy Grove Church because he is willing to marry Magdalena to her Jewish fiance. The police chief's second in command asks her to take over the investigation of the death of wealthy Cornelius Weaver. The chief can't even talk to Magdalena about the case because she was in bed with him when he had a heart attack. A toxicology reports show he had a high dose of Elavil in his system which could bring on a heart attack. There are at least six suspects that Magdalene finds that have motives, including a fiancee and five lovers all who knew he was cheating on them. The case becomes dangerous when two of the suspects try to kill her. Tamar Myers can always be counted on to write a good cozy without any blood and sure as HELL HATH NO CURRY is no exception. The author constantly refreshes her characters and series by the circumstances of the players so the long running series never grows stale. There is a lot of humor in the book so readers will find themselves laughing out loud in the middle of a deadly confrontation. Of all the novels starring Magdalena, this has the best and most unexpected ending.

A Rather Lovely Inheritance
C. A. Belmond
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street,New York, NY 10014
0451220528 $12.95 1-800-847-5515

Penny Nichols works as a freelance historical researcher and set design consultant for Pentathlon Productions cable TV company that shoots almost exclusively in New York. While on location overlooking the Hudson, her mother calls to inform her that her Great-aunt Penelope, whom she met only one time, died in London. Now that would mean very little to the American even if she is named after her great-aunt; yet for some odd reason, perhaps the name, Aunt Penelope included her niece in her will as well as penny's mom. Representing her mom and herself, Penny travels to London for the reading of the will where she re-meets her cousins Jeremy Laidley and Rollo. She learns that her inheritance is inside the garage attached to her late aunt's French villa. She and Jeremy travel across the Channel to the South of France to see what is inside as family members come out of the woodwork as a bi-coastal Atlantic Ocean war over ownership explodes. Though a bit light in terms of a mystery and the relationship between Jeremy and Penny fans will appreciate this inheritance war because of the elan of the visiting American who hooks everyone (except Rollo and Mrs. Laidley) with her klutzy optimism. Readers will root for Penny who keeps the tale moving with her need to know the truth about Aunt Penelope and her willingness to compromise with Jeremy and battle nasty Rollo. Fans will enjoy the lighthearted breezy story line as the Yank takes England, France, and Italy.

Salvation, Texas
Anna Jeffrey
Signet Books
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451220080 $6.99 1-800-847-5515

When Rusty Joplin and Elena Ryder were teens in SALVATION, TEXAS, they fell in love, but her wealthy influential family ended their relationship. Shortly afterward Rusty left town. Three years ago after time in the military, he came home to become a deputy sheriff; now he is the Sanderson County sheriff having won the election. When Elena's sister Carla Ryder is found dead, her husband Gary calls the hospital not 911 or law enforcement. If deputy sheriff Cheryl Hopkins had not intercepted the call, a potential crime might have been erased; as it is the murder location has been devastated by a horde off visitors by the time Rusty arrives. Rusty cannot accept that an experienced horsewoman like Carla would make a rookie's mistake and get tangled with a rope around her neck even if Gary insists the horse is dangerous in daylight; Rusty sees a very calm tame steed. As he investigates a possible murder with Gary as the prime suspect, he gets no cooperation from the family except for Lena, who he still loves. SALVATION, TEXAS is an exciting second chance at love police procedural in which her family objects to their relationship and to his investigation. The story line is fast-paced as Lena helps Rusty with the case by opening doors for him that would have remained shut tight, as one revelation after another occurs. Readers will enjoy Anna Jeffrey's fine thriller in which homicide serves as a matchmaker.

Sun Kissed
Catherine Anderson
Signet Books
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451218957 $7.99 1-800-847-5515

A horse lover all her life, Samantha Harrington attends the rodeo when she sees a drunk abusing his steed. Unable to ignore this blatant cruelty, she intercedes. During the ensuing tussle, veterinarian, Dr. Tucker Coulter gets involved. For their intervention, the duo are arrested and fears their efforts may have caused harm to the horse. Though they are freed when the charges are dropped, someone is poisoning Sam's quarter horses. Law enforcement and the insurance company assume Sam is the culprit as the motive is greed; she collects if something happens to her horses. Tucker cannot accept the prevalent theory about this delightful caring female that he met, who was willing to do jail time to rescue an abused horse, would harm any animal let alone those she raises. He offers to help Sam uncover the identity of who wants to ruin her and why. Reluctantly, because she fears her attraction to him as she does not trust men like she does horses, she accepts help from her good neighbor. Sam is a tough intrepid woman when it comes to protecting animals, but a frightened untrusting soul when it comes to men even after the vet proves he is her equal when it comes to horses, etc. The inquiry into who would harm the animals is fun to follow though the motive does not say much about two legged beasts. Still readers will enjoy this romantic suspense thriller in which Sam risks all to keep her beloved horses safe from an insidious villain who has insider information. SUN KISSED is a special and memorable tale.

Blood Lines
Eileen Wilks
Signet Books
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425213447 $7.99 1-800-847-5515

Though home, Lily Yu and her werewolf soulmate Rule are recovering from fighting for their lives and souls in Hell when the Secret Service asks her to help them deal with government officials who are making Faustian deals with demons. They agree to uncover the identities of those making demonic pacts in order to end this insidious practice. Lily and Rule know they cannot go it alone especially since he remains injured from a magic induced wound still festering and causing him to lose control of his wolf nature. They ask sorcerer Cullen Seabourne and FBI Agent Cynna Weaver to assist them after magic is used to try to destroy them. However, none of the quartet know as of yet that their most dangerous foe, an ancient demon, plans to end humanity's reign on earth via possession of special arcane knowledge. The transition from NYPD cop to supernatural battler FBI Agent (see MORTAL DANGER) is complete for the heroine who comes home after a stint in Hell to fight demons on earth. The relationship between Lily and Rule continues to howl with love though he has issues with controlling the inner wolf. The magic seems plausible, the demons real and the return of enigmatic Cynna along with the sorcerer hook fans journeying the fantasy realm of Eileen Wilks.

Play with Me
Janice Maynard
Signet Books
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451220234 $14.00 1-800-847-5515

"Prologue". In Charleston best friends Catherine Maderis, Kallie Bradshaw, and Gina McCutheon are all twenty-nine and single so they vow to make love with their fantasy lover before their next birthday. "Still Waters". Museum archivist Catherine has never tasted love. Extremely shy she goes after her secret fantasy, business mogul Phillip Trent, who makes her dreams sexual thoughts. Catherine invites him to be her escort to the museum's Midsummer Night's Masked Ball. "Skin Deep". Artist Kallie feels good that Catherine is engaged, but five months have passed since the pact and she still has not told Beau Donovan how she feels about him. She knows he thinks of her as his best buddy. Beau must let Kallie know he finds her very attractive. He pays their friends to not join them as they usually do when they go to watch the Savannah Sand Gnats play baseball. "Party Girl". It has been nine months since the pact has been made and Gina has no one so she agrees to go on a cruise and find someone to have sex with. Also on board is family friend banker Thomas "Trey" Lipman III who six years ago rejected her advances when he ripped her for being a party girl. He tells her he is proud of her charity work that he has followed; she in turn thanks him for showing his contempt six years ago making her wanting to change. He apologizes as he says he wanted her then and wants her now. "Epilogue". The three friends thank one another for pushing them to go after their fantasy man. The three tales are fun as each of the couples is likable and the interactivity of the three novellas through the female friends adds to the understanding of their personalities. Though there is limited conflict, readers will enjoy these women pursuing their fantasy.

If Only In My Dreams
Wendy Markham
Signet Books
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
045122003X $6.99 1-800-847-5515

In New York City, Dr. Swensen informs Clara McCallum that she has breast cancer; the shook up actress wants to go home, but knows she must remain in the City to film a movie while also beginning treatment. Her film role calls for her to be in love with a real American hero, Jed Landry of Westchester County who died in Normandy. On the set, Clara rides an early twentieth century train, but when she gets off something is not right. Instead of being on a movie set, she is somehow in 1941 New York seeing the real Jed. Both are stunned by their love at first sight attraction, but by morning she returns to Manhattan to start the cancer treatment. As each think about the other, both wonder how to get back into each other's arms. This is an excellent time travel romance because the likable lead pair seems real as they spend plenty of time separately in different eras resolving personal issues and trying to figure out a way to get back with their beloved. The story line is driven by Clara and Jed though more her than him. Fans will appreciate this superb tale as Jed struggles with IPods playing I'll Be Home for Christmas, just which era remains the question.

The Rest Falls Away
Colleen Gleason
Signet Books
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451220072 $6.99 1-800-847-5515

Her debut season was delayed for the last two years due to first the death of her grandfather and then the death of her father. Now Victoria Gardella Grantworth looks forward to attending the galas and balls. That is until three weeks ago when she began dreaming of killing vampires. Turning to her elderly eccentric Aunt Eustace for guidance, Victoria learns about her family legacy in which she is this generation's venator, killing vampires. While her aunt oversees her killer training and her mother oversees her get a ducal spouse training, Victoria worries about that first kill; that is the vampire not a husband. She has nowhre to place the wooden stake until Eustace explains what garters are for. At her coming out party, her two worlds blend when she meets Lord Phillip de Lacey and senses a vampire that she must kill. She excuses herself from Phillip, not easy to do since she is attracted to him and him to her. She almost stakes the chief vampire executioner Maximilan Pesaro though she makes split second mid-course correction to stake a female vampire as her first kill. Now Victoria understands the double life she must lead as Phillip courts her while she practices to become a vampire executioner extraordinaire. Buffy goes regency with this terrific vampire slayer historical romantic fantasy that will have readers craving more Gardella adventures. Victoria is a wonderful nineteen years old heroine, as she lacks confidence yet at the same time believes she can do anything required of her. The story line is filled with action that uses the activities of the Ton to set the time and place and the trials and tribulations of the newest venator struggling to keep her two lives apart with one being top secret (mindful of Silver Age Superman). This fun opening gamut in the Gardella saga has cross-genre appeal that fans will enjoy.

My Lady Knight
Jocelyn Kelley
Signet Books
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451220099 $6.99 1-800-847-5515

Queen Eleanor launched a special facility in which young women with skills can train in case Her Highness needs their help. Three times the Queen called on student-residents of St. Jude's Abbey and each time they accomplished the mission. However, that was years ago before her husband, King Henry II locked Eleanor away. Since her imprisonment over twelve years ago, she has not sent any messages to the abbey. Research herbalist Isabella de Monfort seeks to create a mixture that can create a limited manageable explosion, but still manages to blow up the barn. Before she can see what went wrong, the Abbess sends for her as Queen Eleanor needs a calm, pragmatic logical thinker. Isabella must locate a casket somewhere in the Lincoln area where inside Eleanor left some critical documents; she must bring these documents to Eleanor within a month or else. The abbess assigns her nephew, Lord Jordan le Courtenay to help Isabella on her quest while completing his own to bury his friend Sir Ryce de Dolan in sacred grounds rather than unconsecrated turf he is currently interred under. As they fall in love, the pair is shocked to find the buried Ryce with a dagger belonging to "the Brotherhood" amongst his bones. The fourth Queen Eleanor female Knights tale is, like the previous ones (see MOONLIT KNIGHT, A KNIGHT LIKE NO OTHER and ONE KNIGHT STAND), a delightful late twelfth century romantic intrigue starring a wonderful unique heroine and the aristocrat who falls in love with her when their quests merge. The story line is action-packed as the Brotherhood is coming for the dagger and killing two witnesses is no problem for them. The lead couple is a delightful pairing of intelligent logical thinkers who prove that two brains are better than one as they need to use all their combined intelligence to survive.

Wedgewood Grey
John Aubrey Anderson
Warner Books, Inc.
1271 Avenue of the Americas, Room 913, New York, NY 10020
0446579505 $19.99 1-800-759-0190

In Cat Lake, Mississippi, black man Mose Worthington sees a group of young white men harassing a black woman and her child so he goes to rescue them. He is joined by a white Good Samaritan who happens to be at the right time and the right place to even the odds somewhat. The lead bully Oliver Wendell Bainbridge refuses to back down; by the time the battle ends, one is dead, the woman is dying and one of the remaining men is possessed before he is destroyed. Mose takes the youngster on the run with him and he uses his connections to establish a new identity for himself and the boy who he promised his mother he would raise as a son. The congressman is putting pressure to find the two fugitives and FBI Agent Jeff Wagner comes to town looking to find the runaways. Nobody will help him because they know Mose and remember how he lost his son due to demonic possession and they know that demons were partly responsible for the Second Battle of Cat Lake. Those who search for Mose and his "son" are hindered by Christians who fight to keep them safe. Readers who like the tales of Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker will thoroughly enjoy WEDGEWOOD GREY where the battle between Heaven and Hell is fought on earth through angels, demons and the humans who choose to be part of the war. The character development is incredible because those who serve the dark are as three dimensional as those who joined the light. Without being preachy, John Aubrey Anderson reminds his audience that evil with a capital E exists. They also get a deep picture of what it was like to be black in the Deep South in the 1960's

Pagan's Nightmare
Ray Blackston
Warner Books, Inc.
1271 Avenue of the Americas, Room 913, New York, NY 10020
0446579599 $22.99 1-800-759-0190

Novelist Larry Hutch has written a manuscript with an odd promise, in which the rapture has occurred, but left behind to live on earth are two groups. The vast majority are firm believing Christians praying for deliverance while they lump the occasional backward thinking non believing moron as a pagan. The Evangelists own the economy and therefore the country. Those who are not card-carrying Christians are treated like second class citizens who have few rights since they are outside the Jesus' club. Thus gas for the faithful is twelve disciples make those cents a gallon while the pagans pay $6.66. Larry's beleaguered and financially broke hero Lanny Hooch, a true non-believer, seeks his vanished girlfriend who may have been raptured to heaven. While he walks the holy streets of Atlanta searching for his beloved, he also would like to buy Mc-french-fries not "McScriptures" though as a documented pagan he probably cannot afford the usury rates regardless of the name. Meanwhile Larry the author has no problem finding people not only willing to read his reverse parable, but everyone who does is enraptured by it. The novel rotates between Larry giving his book to people to read and Lanny struggling to survive as an outsider in a fundamentalist Christian ocean. The Lanny segue is fun satire that uses irony to make case that there is plenty of room for everyone inside God's tent. However, the Larry segment feels intrusive as the audience will be FLABBERGASTED how easily he hooks people to read his thriller. Still overall this is a humorous allegory that pokes fun at exclusive extremism using metaphors of everyday life to paint the absurdity of claiming to be the only one to understand God's words.

Knight's Treasure
Amanda Scott
Warner Books, Inc.
1271 Avenue of the Americas, Room 913, New York, NY 10020
0446618551 $6.99 1-800-759-0190

In 1380 in the Highlands, a masked man with associates rides amidst a wedding party and grabs the bride Adela Macleod before she can exchange "I do" with her much older groom Lord "Pompous" Ardelve Calum Tolmic (see LADY'S CHOICE). However, after her rescue she recovers from her captivity. She marries the kindhearted, older Baron Ardelve at a ceremony hosted by the powerful Sinclairs. Ardelve drinks wine at their wedding party only to collapse and die a victim of poison. Shocked, Adela vows to never marry. Almost a decade ago, Knight Templar Sir Robert Logan gave up his heritage, which was not hard to do with the way his father and older brother treated him, and perhaps his life to protect a treasure from those who want to use it for evil purposes. Unaware of a Papal agreement with Lord Fife, second in succession to Robert The Bruce's throne, that impacts what he guards, Robert visits his friends the Sinclairs where he meets a grieving Adela. He offers her some minor comfort that leads to a kiss that both know is wrong, but each needs. Still his duty comes before his heart until they merge when his beloved Adela is accused of murdering her spouse. Readers, who have waited for Adela's saga to be told since her abduction in the previous tale, will feel well rewarded as Amanda Scott provides a fabulous historical romance that sub-genre fans will treasure. The fast-paced story line focuses on Adela, stunned by her loss, her feeling towards Robert, and the accusations. As with LORD OF THE ISLES and HIGHLAND PRINCESS, KNIGHT'S TREASURE is a terrific fourteenth century romantic suspense thriller with sister Sidorny still to follow.

Dear John
Nicholas Sparks
Warner Books, Inc.
1271 Avenue of the Americas, Room 913, New York, NY 10020
0446528056 $24.95 1-800-759-0190

John Tyree grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina raised by a single dad whose wife dumped the two males in her life. However, John learns from his father's Asperger's syndrome and his mother's abandonment that relationships must remain short, one night stands being his modus operendi except for joining the army wherehe makes a lifetime commitment as an infantryman. When John was twenty-three and on leave he meets University of North Carolina special education major Savannah Lynn Curtis at Wrightsville Beach. They are attracted to one another though he is a social pariah and she volunteers her time for all types of social causes. They have nothing in common, but fall in love. John plans to leave the service once his enlistment is up so he can marry his beloved and raise a family with her; Savannah Lynn vows to wait for her Dear John. However, 9/11 changes the dynamics as he chooses country over love by reenlisting; she must decide between waiting and sending a "Dear John" letter by choosing a wannabe suitor, her long time friend Tim. Nicholas Sparks is at his best with this deep bittersweet look at relationships that enables the audience to see what a real sacrifice in support of the war against terrorism is as compared to the fake political speeches that claim all American's are sacrificing. Readers will like John, Savannah Lynn, and Tim as these are caring people trying to do their best, but know someone will be hurt. Mr. Sparks is at is best with this powerful complex drama of love vs. patriotism.

Damage Control
Robert Dugoni
Warner Books, Inc.
1271 Avenue of the Americas, Room 913, New York, NY 10020
0446578703 $24.99 1-800-759-0190

Looking back on her once recently idyllic life, Seattle attorney Dana Hill wonders how everything that seemed so perfect could fall apart so fast. A few days ago she was on the top of the world at least the Space Needle believing she was successful at her vocation; thought she shared a loving relationship with her husband, and enjoyed raising their precocious three years old daughter Molly. Though her spouse seems to have had less time for her or Molly, Dana missed the signs. Then she learned she had breast cancer, caught her spouse enjoying sex with another woman in their bed, and learned her academia twin James, who told her recently he had dire problems that Dana ignored, was murdered in what the police declare was a robbery turned ugly. Needing a distraction from her troubles, Dana looks at the homicide scene only to find an exotic earring that somehow the crime scene investigators missed. Police Detective Mike Logan assists and encourages her with her inquiry as she begins to wonder if perhaps her brother's death was premeditated. Dana tries to learn who owns the earring, but a killer who wants the case to go cold is ready to murder a second twin. Ironically Dana's bulldog tenacity is the strength and weakness of this entertaining fast-paced thriller. She switches from ambitious yuppie to avenging sister as Dana continues her quest in spite of attempts on her life and clues that twist and turn her inquiry every which way possible. However, she ignores Molly's safety and constantly steps into danger without learning from previous mistakes. Additionally while key support cast members like her philandering husband lack depth, Dana is terrific as her efforts make for a fun thriller in which she and the killer step closer to High Noon.

Such a Pretty Girl
Laura Wiess
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
1416521836 $12.00 1-800-223-2336

The State convicted her father for nine years for molesting children including his daughter Meredith Shale. However New Jersey does not care about the feelings of a fifteen year old, as they release her dad Charles after only three years. Meredith's mom Sharon refuses to face the truth about her spouse or how their offspring fears him. Charles is known to the cops, the schools, and on the New Jersey Sex Offender Internet Registry. His teenage daughter knows his return means being a pariah as the sins of the father are placed by everyone including those so called liberal do-gooders on the child. Meredith keeps her distance though Sharon tries to turn them into a regular TV family. However, the frightened teen realizes that Charles still desires her. She knows the government and the right to life crowd will do nothing for her, as the law is on Charles's side and since she is alive though in hell she does not matter to those who swear to protect the unborn only. Her only hope lies with an alcoholic wheelchair bound neighbor or her grandmother. However, when she learns that her dysfunctional parents want another child, Meredith decides to end the terror. SUCH A PRETTY GIRL is not an easy novel to read as readers will feel Meredith's nightmare. She suffers directly from her father and via neglect from her mother and the community. The state cannot protect her and even Megan's Law that places her dad as a sexual predator on the Internet causes her more harm from a society that chooses to ignore her plight. However, what makes the tale haunting without being a made for TV victim's movie are there are no easy answers leading to Meredith's decision that she will not take this anymore. Readers will wonder what to do about a teen forced to be an adult when no one is there for her.

Every Woman's Got a Secret
Brenda L. Thomas
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
0743497066 $14.00 1-800-223-2336

In Los Angeles, Caroline Isaacs hosts the popular urban music show Top of Da Charts. She also needs an assistant so she hires a summer intern Mari Colonada, whose can do outlook makes her perfect for the hip hop world just before the popular Deejay goes on a summer tour. Initially Mari seems perfect, but soon Caroline begins to see a dark side though her entourage, her family, and her boyfriend Julius notice only a sweet upbeat soul. As her brother falls in love with her intern, Caroline's boyfriend dies in a freak accident that only makes her wonder if Mari was involved. As they reach her parents' home in Philadelphia, Caroline needs to know the truth because she believes Mari wants to hurt her one person at a time before destroying her, but no motive seems apparent while her loved ones think she is the one losing it. Ironically the readers know from the start that Mari hates Caroline though her motive seems weak for someone willing to kill if it furthers her goals. The support cast is solid as each enhances the relationship between the two lead females by making Mari look like the kindhearted norm and Caroline jealous of the newcomer. Fans will appreciate this strong suspense thriller while wondering just who will be the last woman standing.

The School for Heiresses
Sabrina Jeffries, Liz Carlyle, Julia London, Renee Bernard
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
1416516115 $6.99 1-800-223-2336

"Ten Reasons to Stay" by Sabrina Jeffries. Students are leaving Mrs. Harris's School for Young Ladies to go home for the Yuletide holidays. However, not all want to go home as Eliza Crenshawe knows awaiting her there is her odious Uncle Silas who plans to wed her to Minyard, a sot like he is. Eliza tries to steal a horse from Earl Colin Hunt, used to the balmy weather of his native India, but he catches her. "After Midnight" by Liz Carlyle. Out of guilt, her uncle Lord Rothewell sent Martinique, a courtesan's daughter, from her West Indies home to attend Mrs. Harris' school. However, the female hellion knows no one wants her in England or the Caribbean, but goes to the Rothewell home for the holidays. Rakish guest Lord St. Vrain mistakenly enters her room, but instead of screaming, she welcomes the rogue. "The Merchant's Gift" by Julia London. In Leeds, Grace Holcomb, the daughter of a wealthy wool merchant, has high expectations to marry amongst the bluest of the bluebloods. However, to her chagrin she is attracted to a non titled nobody Barrett Adlaine when she has Lord Middleton in her greedy grasp. "Mischief's Holiday" by Renee Bernard. No matter how hard she tries to stay out of mischief, Alyssa Martin always ends up in trouble. She vows to end these escapades because she feels if she fails to do so, logical businessman Leland Yates will only notice her as a pest not his loving wife. The Mrs. Harris' novels (see NEVER SEDUCE A SCOUNDREL) are always fun to read and this four novella anthology affirms that belief, as each entry is a terrific Regency romance starring likable lead characters.

Dark Angel
Lucy Blue
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
1416511962 $6.99 1-800-223-2336

When he learned of his father's death, Gareth returns home to the Highlands seeking revenge against the killer. However, he and his companions are attacked by a marauding army. Knowing he will die without enabling his father to rest peacefully, Gareth is shocked when he is saved by a beautiful female. Roxanna has decided Gareth will be her blood feeder until he withers and dies as she is a vampire, albeit a very hungry one who has just escaped from a bottled imprisonment. She knows she needs all her strength for her upcoming battle against her enemy, the evil vampire Lucian Kivar, who seeks the Chalice for some malevolent power grabbing use. However, to her shame she falls in love with Gareth, who bears the mark of this chalice on him that her odious foe wants. As Gareth returns her feelings of love he and Roxanna team up to challenge the mightiest vampire of them all. The third medieval paranormal romance (see THE DEVIL'S KNIGHT and MY DEMON'S KISS) is a delightful star-cross lovers' tale starring a courageous male human and a much more powerful female vampiress. The change in Roxanna from seeing her as a prisoner to falling in love with her soulmate is handled deftly and given the time to evolve (reverse Stockholm syndrome aside). Readers will enjoy the latest thriller as good (the lead couple) battles superior evil (Lucian) with love being the secret weapon of choice.

Tempt Me, Taste Me and Touch Me
Bella Andre
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
1416524177 $14.00 1-800-223-2336

"Tempt Me". Carrie rejects wealthy James' proposal of marriage. Instead she goes into wine country with her best friends Rose and Vanessa. In Napa she meets winemaker Tyson who to her delight and shock she wants to join in his "cave". "Taste Me". Though dumping Elliot at a monster truck rally, Rose feels good about herself and her voluptuous build as she relaxes at the Napa Valley Hotel and Spa. When she wins the grand prize of a private cooking session with renowned Chef Jack, it is not food they crave when they meet. "Touch Me". Vanessa sees a painting that she wants to buy, but Sam the artist refuses to give her money for it. Instead he demands much more from her as he knows instantly he must paint her. He asks for three days to paint her portrait and in return the painting is hers. What he hides from her is that he knows he has found his lifetime muse even if she denies love exists; he has three days to persuade her otherwise. These are three terrific erotic romances starring full blooded (well the males in many scenes have the blood rushing to their lower heads) characters who turn this into a Bella delightful compilation.

Capital Crimes
Jonathan & Faye Kellerman
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0345467981 $24.95 1-800-726-0600

"My Sister's Keeper". California state representative and lesbian rights activist Davida Grayson ignores all the threats to dispatch her to hell from rival politicians and the fundamental right as she loudly supports stem cell research. However, someone carries out the threat and kills her in her Berkeley office. Berkley homicide detectives Will Barnes and Amanda Isis investigating the shooting death seeking a motive by focusing more on her love life rather than her vocal political enemies. "Music City Breakdown". Nashville homicide detectives Baker Southerby and Lamar Van Gundy investigate the murder of rock superstar Jack Jeffries, stabbed to death. They quickly uncover the fact that the victim was a patient of police psychiatrist Dr. Alex Delaware so they consult with him to learn more about Jeffries in order to find a motive. Fans of Faye Kellerman's LAPD detective Peter Decker and Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware series will enjoy this pair of novellas though their respective recurring heroes play minor roles with neither of the lead homicide detective teams quite as solid. Still both tales are fun as readers will enjoy this dose of DOUBLE HOMICIDE from the Kellerman duo.

Shadow Dance
Julie Garwood
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0345453867 $25.95 1-800-726-0600

At the wedding of her brother Dylan Buchanan to Kate McKenna, Jordon is goaded into traveling to Serenity, Texas by Noah Clayborne, who teases her that she never acts on a spontaneous notion. At the nuptials, Jorrdon meets Professor Horace McKenna, who talked about a Buchanan-McKenna feud with his supporting research in his home in Serenity. He promises to provide her a copy if she visits him there. When she arrives her car breaks down. After getting it fixed, she goes to pick up her copy of the professor's findings, but instead finds Horace's corpse in a garage bag in her car's trunk. The sheriff's brother slaps her and the police chief breaks all the rights of a suspect by not only trying to intimidate, but taking away all her entitlements under the law except one phone call, which she makes to Dylan. He and the posse arrive to get her freed and the chief fired. They go to question the mechanic, but he is dead found in the trunk of her new car. However, thanks to the illegal actions of law enforcement a newly appointed police chief believes in her innocence. Jordan and Noah explore their feelings for one another while another death takes place and the professor's house burns to the ground. Jordan and Noah realize they love each other as they search for a killer before the culprit finishes them off. SHADOW DANCE contains a magical romance starring two individuals from Julie Garwood's previous books. Myriad of fans have been waiting to read their story. If the author just provided a tale based on their getting it on that would be a winner. However, instead the audience obtains a great love story amidst a tense suspense thriller that keeps readers wondering if the long awaited match up between Noah and Jourdon will end tragically. This is great work from a grandmaster at the top of her game.

Drop Dead Gorgeous
Linda Howard
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0345486587 $7.99 1-800-726-0600

Blair Mallory is one of the happiest women on the planet. She is engaged to marry Police Lieutenant Wyatt Bloodsworth and their biggest problem is setting a date. He would like to be married yesterday and she wants the wedding of her dreams. He finally tells her that it will be in one month or he will arrange the nuptials his way and she knows he isn't joking. While shopping in a mall for a wedding dress, a car almost hits her as she leaves the store and she is taken to the hospital. Wyatt thinks it is road rage but she thinks someone was trying to kill her. She begins getting a series of hang up phone calls and one where someone whispers threatening words. Her car is keyed which Wyatt puts down to kids vandalizing property. When she tells him he doesn't trust her instincts they get into an argument and say things that make it doubtful there will be a wedding. When Blair's home burns down due to arson, her lover finally believes her but they have no clue who the person is or what that person has against Blair. Linda Howard and great romantic suspense novels are synonymous and her fans expect each book she writes to be stupendous. In DROP DEAD GORGEOUS, they won't be disappointed as the sexual tension between the lovers crackles. Told in the first person, from Blair's perspective, readers will find her admirable and intelligent. She knows what she wants and she uses her feminine wiles in a humorous way to get it without being the least obnoxious. She is one of the Ms. Howard's most special characters.

Blood Bound
Patricia Briggs
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0441014739 $7.99 1-800-847-5515

Some years ago, the fae were outed by the Grey Lords and recently the werewolves made themselves known to humans. It is due to a fantastic public relations job that the weres did not come under attack by human mobs. Mechanic Mercy Thompson is a one of a kind (as far as she knows) supernatural entity, a Walker who turns into a coyote at will, has a strong sense of smell, and is able to run very fast. Stefan the Vampire asks Mercy to go with him in her coyote personae to witness what happens when he visits what turns out to be a demon vampire Corey Littleton. After the encounter, Stefan believes the messily killed humans, calling attention to vampires who are still in the closet. Mercy remembers that it was Corey who made the mess and through vampire magic her words are accepted as truth. Corey goes on a rampage killing indiscriminately; the werewolves become involved when one of their own is hurt. However, the vampire mistress believes the Walker is the one who can find and kill the demon vampire sorcerer and when he hurts her friend she sets out to do that. BLOOD BOUND is a compelling and fascinating supernatural tale that fans of Laurel K. Hamilton and Charlaine Harris will thoroughly enjoy. Patricia Briggs is a powerful storyteller who convinces readers her earth inhabited by supernatural creatures actually exists. Compelling and multidimensional characters that the audience cares about will lead to readers seeking the previous tale MOON CALLED.

Stephen Baxter
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0441014666 $24.95 1-800-847-5515

In 4 BC, Brica struggles with a long difficult labor; as the baby finally begins to come out of the womb, the weakened female begins babbling in Latin, a tongue she does not know. A druid, the only non-kin, attending the birth writes down her words that claim in the future three emperors from Rome will visit the island with one dying. Nectovelin is born while his mother dies. Brica's words live on after her known as the Prophecy". In 43 AD, Roman General Vespasian invades Britain. Nectovelin tries to make his mother's words come true, but fails in an attempt to assassinate Emperor Claudius. However, Nectovelin's descendents remain diligent waiting for the moment to insure the family Prophecy comes true. In 314, they may have their opportunity as Constantine the Great visits Britannia, but instead of murder, Thalius and others plead with the Emperor to embrace the original Christianity of the first century. By 418, the Roman armies have left the island leaving a vacuum in which British warlords fight one another and the invading Saxons. EMPEROR is an interesting historical fiction that spans four centuries so no character seems fully developed as events supersede people especially after Nectovelin fails at fulfilling the Prophesy. That twist of having Brica's descendents needing to make sure the Prophesy happens is a fascinating spin to the actual occurrences. Still somewhat overwhelming with over four hundred years of Britannia passing by in under four hundred pages, readers will marvel at Stephen Baxter's opening epic in the Time Tapestry series.

Airs Beneath The Moon
Toby Bishop
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0441014623 $6.99 1-800-847-5515

On Deeping Farm in the uplands, Larkyn Hamley finds a horse in a rundown condition and nurses it back to health not knowing that it is pregnant. Char goes into a difficult labor until she gives birth to a mare Tup who has wings and therefore is technically the property of the duke of Oc. The winged mares are the duchy's only defense if war ever comes to the land. Larkyn isn't thinking of politics as she cares for and bonds with Tup until the Horse Mistress Philippa Winter comes to the farm. She knows at first glance that Tup and Larkyn are imprinted and nothing short of death can part them. Both must go to the Academy of Air to train which will be hard on Larkyn because the girls in training will see her as a country bumpkin and Tup looks like a mongrel of different types of flying horses. When they arrive at the Academy, the duke's son takes a special interest in Tup which is an ill omen because the diabolical heir wants something and with his father dying very few will be able to say no to him. Larkyn plans to outwit him once she figures out what ever deed he plans. Toby Bishop known to her fans as Louise Marley has written a classic fantasy with an evil duke vs. a pretty strong willed female who with allies helping her outwit her enemies. There is plenty of action in this sweet adult fairy tale and teens that like fantasy will also enjoy this great tale. The support cast plays an important part in this fine tale starring a heroine and her little Pegasus.

Night Rising
Chris Marie Green
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0441014674 $14.00 1-800-847-5515

Dawn Madison returns to California when private detective company Limpet & Co calls her informing her that her dad Frank vanished four days ago while working on the Robby Pennybaker case. Robby died twenty-three years ago, but he appears in a scene of the new movie Diaper Derby; even stranger he has not changed in the two plus decades one iota. Dawn hires on with the agency and works with techno geek Breisi who loves Frank, and psychic midget Kiko, who believes his new partner who has a key role to play in the upcoming war with the vampires. When the trio arrives at the home of Robbie's mother, Guards, the lowest form of being in the vampiric hierarchy, surround the place. They barely escape with their lives and Dawn reassesses her belief system as she now knows that vampires exist and somehow are tied to her father's disappearance. The vampires hide in the Underground from mortals and will go to any length to prevent outsiders from finding it or knowing they exist. Dawn and her companions learn about the lair during the first battle between humans and their predatory enemy, an omen of the bloody war that will soon follow. Readers will want to obtain the next two books in the series and not just because this is an exciting action-packed vampire thriller. Fans will want to know who the mysterious Joseph Limpet is, why he never leaves his abode, how he gets inside Dawn's mind and makes love to her though he seems to have no physical body. The audience will also wonder whether Dawn will find her father and if yes in what condition will he is in. This is a fantastic tale that sets up the next entries, but also provides booklovers with plenty of adventure and a touch of romance.

Hell to Pay
Simon R. Green
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0441014607 $6.99 1-800-847-5515

The Nightside is a realm within London that only certain people know about. It is a place where darkness never ends and good and evil exist side by side although Heaven and Hell can not interfere directly with the people who live there. Anything or just about anyone can be bought or sold there for the right price; creatures of myth and legend, and people from the future and other dimensions can be seen there. Now that the Lilith war is over and PI John Tyler won the hostilities but refused the crown he is in need of funds. Jeremiah Griffin and his family are among the few human immortals in the Nightside. He changed his will leaving everything to his granddaughter Melissa who is as strong as he is. However, someone kidnapped her from the mundane and magically projected Griffin home. He calls on John to find her with in twenty four hours as she needs her to sign some papers before she is eighteen. However a powerful force is blocking John's Sight, which normally allows him to find anyone or anything; thus he must search the old fashioned way and hope he can find her without getting anyone, including himself killed. A new story arc has begun now that the Lilith war is over, which brings with it freshness and an audience wondering how Simon R. Green will match the previous excellent arc. Walker is in charge even though the authorities that gave him power have disappeared. Change is coming but John, a heroic figure, is more interested in solving his case than in taking over the Nightside or becoming part of the new world order. Mr. Green writes dark fantasy with lighthearted moments such as when the hero gets himself out of one predicament only to land back in trouble as John lives life leaping out of the proverbial boiling pot.

Touched by Darkness
Catherine Spangler
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425214001 $6.99 1-800-847-5515

Several years ago, Dr. Kara Cantrell taking her six years old son Alex went into hiding after watching a supernatural essence kill her spouse Richard. She felt small town Zorro, Texas would be a safe place to raise her child far from the evil Belians that consumed Richard. Everything seemed fine until she senses the power and recognizes the stranger staring at her is a Sentinel. Kara knows first hand the danger of being near a Sentinel so she makes plans to run away but has no idea where she can keep Alex safe. The stranger Damien Morgan, an Atlantian Sentinel human mortal is shocked because he had not expected anyone with his power in the town. He realizes that the kid has the power of an initiate Sentinel but is untrained with no guides nearby and assumes his superiors are unaware of this kid. He fears for the child being taken by the Belians with no mentor teaching him how to defend himself but also knows that the mother is a Conductor who has the ability to locate the Belians. Needing to protect the child and obtain the mother's help, Damien bullies himself into their lives, but neither he nor the mother he intimidated expected to fall in love while rooting out the Belians seeking her offspring. This is an excellent romantic fantasy that grips the audience from the early scene when the rightfully overly protective Conductor senses the Sentinel and never slows down until a final confrontation with love vs. evil. The love subplot is handled deftly within the overall paranormal theme, as the two adults know keeping her child safe is first, destroying the Belians is second and their desires last. Touched by Darkness spangles with excitement as Catherine Spangler writes a fantastic thriller.

In the Heat of the Night
Emma Holly
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425211355 $14.00 1-800-847-5515

"Hunting Midnight". They roamed the Scottish forests for centuries until 1370. Ulric, leader of the pack of upyr shapeshifters, is irate that the female he should be protecting, Gillian selected someone else to be her mate. An angry Ulric leaves the safety of the forest and his pack to wander the streets of Bridesmere to see what the excitement of humans is to Gillian. Ulric sees Juliana Batoc as she flees from an arranged betrothal, but instead of his usual taste for human blood, he feels a need to keep her safe due to some weird attraction. He agrees to help her, but soon she knows his deepest secrets and demands he bring her over as he has done with her virginity. He wants nothing more, but first she must meet the pack who must accept her as one of them though one of his members prepares to cause trouble through the human female. "The Night Owl". In Vermont pastry chef Mariann likes her rustic life though she is concerned about the new owners of the Night Owl Bed and Breakfast that includes her bakery. New B&B owner French vampire Bastien realizes that Mariann is his lifemate, but fears rejection. This two tale supernatural romance book consists of reprints of a terrific novel (HUNTING MIDNIGHT) and a wonderful novella (THE NIGHT OWL) from the HOT BLOODED anthology. Though this reviewer is not sure why these two were combined especially since the novel CATCHING MIDNIGHT is the predecessor of the longer story, both entries contain strong lead star-crossed lovers who are unacceptable by their respective lovers'species. This makes for two fine paranormal romances.

Glossed and Found
India Ink
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425212947 $6.99 1-800-847-5515

In Gulf Harbor, Washington, Persia Vanderbilt understands how important the holiday season starting with the Thanksgiving Gala is to her business Venus Envy, the spa she runs and owns with her Aunt Florence. Still she looks forward to the festivities ending so she can spend more quality time with her new boyfriend. At the Thanksgiving Gala, she is shocked when the newly hired makeup artist Lisa Tremont fails to show up as everyone is working that day. The police inform Persia that they found Lisa's car parked near Lookout Pier and soon conclude she drowned. Persia has a difficult time with the official position especially when Lisa's sister Amy agrees that something is not right as the woman feared deep water and coincidentally thought she found some of the missing inheritance that she and her sibling should have received when their father died. Though there is no proof of murder, Amy begs Persia to investigate, which she agrees even as her former boyfriend Elliot stalks her. Though there seems to be too much going on in Persia's life between the bash, the investigation, the former boyfriend and a friend struggling with a "monster-in-law", readers will enjoy this exciting amateur sleuth tale as the heroine is a courageous caring person. The "Bath and Body" whodunit is cleverly written so that the audience obtains a taste of the Puget Sound town preparing for the holidays, which with the exception of Elliot, leads to a fine cozy that will send readers to visit the spa (see SCENT TO HER GRAVE).

Getting Warmer
Carol Snow
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425213544 $13.00 1-800-847-5515

In Scottsdale, Arizona, Natalie Quackenbush teaches English at Agave High School, lives with her parents, and loves to go bar-hopping with her best friend, big-boned almost six feet tall Jill as they enjoy telling lies to males trying and failing to pick them up. Three years ago she gave up on her Yuppie boyfriend and Boston to move back to her parents though she knows that makes her a loser. At a bar Natalie meets Jonathan and tells him her usual lies about herself; that she teaches at a prison and lives with her parents because her mom has Alzheimer's. However, this time her web of deceit backfires as she finds she likes him and wants to see him. He feels the same way about her. As they fall in love, she knows she owes him the truth and he knows he owes her the truth about a stalker. Instead both run away from the confrontation; hers being metaphoric while his is simply vanishing. GETTING WARMER is a terrific look at relationships built initially on the theory that "What a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive. Even a white lie that should hurt no one is difficult to overcome once started. The support cast, mostly those connected to the school, her family, or his stalker, enhance the prime romance while two other love stories also provide depth. Fans will enjoy the education rat pack as they showcase their skills at telling fibs in lieu of explaining failed expectations ("Those who can do. Those who can't, teach"). They tell more lies in a futile attempt to extract them from that first untruth.

Wicked Ties
Shayla Black
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425213617 $14.00 1-800-847-5515

Los Angeles based cable TV host Morgan O'Malley researches her subjects that she explores on her show "Turn Me On", which means she gets quite a head full of sex education as sex is the theme of her show. Her next program involves the BDSM scene in which she has answered an ad from a Master J who explains that the relationship between a dominant and a submissive requires much more trust than missionaries need. Since she also has a stalker bothering her, Morgan agrees to meet with Master J in his Louisiana territory. However, her efforts to elude her assailant fail when someone shoots at her with Master J witnessing the incident. He goes into his day job mode as Jack Cole, professional bodyguard though the enemy seems to know every step she takes. As he teaches her to surrender her desires to him, he vows to keep her safe because he makes her WICKED TIES fantasies real and by doing that she reciprocates. Though he being a bodyguard provides him an edge against the enemy that most people will not have, this is a fabulous erotic romantic suspense thriller. The bondage and related DS sex scenes are torrid (those WICKED TIES are hot), but also enhance the plot of two people falling in love while a third party stalks them. Whether he is Master J or Jack, he is a dominant who believes he has found his submissive soulmate in Morgan. She becomes more than just a willing student as she trusts her body and soul with her mentor. Filled with twists Shayla Black turns up the heat in the boudoir without neglecting the suspense.

The Perfect Kiss
Anne Gracie
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425213455 $7.99 1-800-847-5515

In 1826 England, a Wolfe has returned to Wolfestone Castle where they have lived for six centuries. His arrival leads to nearby villagers in Lower Wolfestone to speculate whether he is a good or bad one. They pray that the guardian of the valley, the Gray Lady appears because if she does that means the latest Wolfe will be a good one and all will thrive. Three years on the marriage mart enforced Grace Merridew's belief that she is unworthy of love; a theory her late grandfather made her believe almost twenty years ago. She decides to see the world, but before she goes on her tour she had agreed to help her friend, reticent Melly who has thrown up several times ever since she learned her father had arranged a betrothal to Lord Dominic Wolfe when she was a child. Grace dresses up as a plain companion accompanying Melly to meet her fiance, the big bad Wolfe. Dominic does not want to marry, but his father's will is watertight. If he fails to marry Melly, he loses everything; thus he agreed to a "white" wedding in name only. When the bride's party arrives, Dominic finds himself interested in the termagant companion who rips his skin with her words until he silences her with his kisses. As he falls in love, he knows if he marries for love he loses the family estate; if he does not he loses his soul. The fourth "Perfect" Merridew Regency romance is a terrific historical tale that stars two combatants battling each other and love until both consider surrendering to their hearts' desires. Grace is a wonderful "Knight Errant" while her dragon the big bad Wolfe learns one kiss at a time what love is and soon what a family truly is. Fans will appreciate Anne Gracie's fabulous tale of love's redemption powers.

Over the Moon
Angela Knight, MaryJanice Davidson, Virginia Kantra and Sunny
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425213439 $7.99 1-800-847-5515

"Moon Dance" by Angela Knight. Elena Livingstone's Daddy is negotiating to have her married to Stephen Bradford of the Chosen. She needs an ally of her own to match muscle with alpha male werewolf Bradford. She chooses Harrisville, South Carolina cop Lucas Rollings though he may not want to become involved in a battle in which his soulmate is not at stake. "Opposites Attract" by MaryJanice Davidson. Cop Burke Wolftoyer finds a woman stuck in an eighteen foot hole so he jumps in only to suffer from claustrophobia. When the moon rises he leaps out howling. The next evening she bites Burke as Serena Crull is a vampire. He insists she is his soulmate and she thinks he is a lunatic. Serena explains that she is in town to kill a vampire who murdered her friend. "Mona Lisa Three by Sunny. Louisiana Monere Queen Mona Lisa visits Manhattan when Demon Dead Lucinda of hell comes to see why her sibling High Prince Halcyon is fascinated with her. Later Lisa's cruel mother New York Monere Queen Mona Sera orders her to either heal her dying warrior or give her a replacement as he was bitten by Lucinda's hellhound Brindell. Healing is doubtful so she wonders who to give up. "Between the Mountain and the Moon" by Virginia Kantra. Cait MacLean hikes the Appalachian Trail when she meets three strange travelers, Goodfellow, Ursus, and Rhys. The next day Ursus attacks her, but Rhys saves her. They make love and he offers her a necklace but she refuses to take it. Rhys decides to free her when a seven foot woman arrives calling him a loser for failing to steal Cait's soul. The lead couples are brave admirable individuals, who make four fine lead pairs. Whereas the fantasy elements seem genuine, the novella format forces the story lines into rushed endings. Still fans will appreciate these hot charmers.

Demon Angel
Meljean Brook
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425213471 $7.99 1-800-847-5515

In 1217 Hugh escorts Lady Isabel to the castle of her husband Baron Robert after both were away for two years to keep her safe. , Hugh's mentor Sir George sends him in to check some activity near the Roman ruins There he sees the naked seneschal William Mandeville tied up by Lilith who will keep his identity secret in exchange for a future favor. Lilith pretends to be Isabel as she knows Hugh desires her. He instead offers her a bargain she accepts. Why look like a hag when she can be anyone. She replies it easier to hide as men only want young breasts. He kisses her in her hag form shocking Lilith. Later she watches Isabel come to Hugh who thinks she is Lilith. He kisses her as Robert and Mandeville arrive. Shocking Lilith he takes full responsibility for the incident, but Lilith intercedes just before he was to have his head cut off. Hugh becomes a guardian In 2007 San Francisco Hugh is no longer a guardian having voluntarily Fallen following his killing Lilith in 1991 Seattle. However, now he is involved in murders, Lucifer, and the return of his beloved Lilith. This a fascinating romantic fantasy with obvious religious overtones. The lead couple is a delightful pairing of star-crossed lovers while the war between the minions of heaven and hell is set up with several different enthralling spins beyond the typical religious dogma. Though the tale would have been better suited to eliminate the centuries between the opening encounter and the modern saga, sub-genre readers will appreciate this delightful saga.

Rebecca York, Susan Kearney, Diane Whiteside and Lucy Monroe
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425212114 $14.00 1-800-847-5515

"Bond of Silver" by Rebecca York. Alexander and Claire meet on a psychic plane where he tells her they are destined to be soul mates. Though both can conjure up objects with their minds, he must find the way to enter the real world. "Red Skies at Night" by Diane Whiteside. NYPD Detective Travis hunts down the killer of his former partner Frank. His clues lead to Gillian, a vampire who loathes cops though each is instantly attracted to the other. "Come Moonrise" by Lucy Monroe. Ty knows that humans and werewolves must never mate as tragedy is the only outcome. However, he hides how much he desires the human Frankie, who has always loved him. He also has hidden his werewolf heritage that is until they are stranded in a remote cabin during a blizzard. "Beyond Limits" by Susan Kearney. Ian loves realtor Samantha, but has made no progress in persuading her they belong together. Desperate he tricks her by having her co-pilot his plane until he takes her to his home, New Atlantis and informs her he is Ari, deeply in love with her. These are four superb paranormal romances in which the supernatural person reaches out to the human they love.

Open Invitation
Jasmine Haynes
Berkley Heat
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425213609 $14.00 1-800-847-5515

"Invitation to Seduction". The three ladies attend the bachelorette party at The Sex Club; none of these three want to be there as each feels like a fish out of water. Especially out of her element is unhappily married Debbie, who wanders around like a deer in headlights with the sights she sees. That is until she meets Stephen, who takes her to heights of passion she never felt before and wants to continue to see her long after the party ends. "Invitation to Pleasure". Three marriages, three failures. So Virginia wonders why she is a glutton for punishment especially since the man she marries tomorrow Brett is a nice guy with no magnetism. Still at the Sex Club she decides to be sexy Regina but never suspected that her Brett would euphorically join her. "Invitation to Passion". One year has passed since the party for her friend Virginia at the Sex Club, forty-six year old Stacy enjoys sexually outlasting much younger men; she even can put two twentyish studs to shame at the same time with her libido. However, Brett's friend Judson, who is older, proves her equal as he takes her on sexually encounters like no one has ever done before. These are three torrid erotic romances that run much of the sub-genre gamut. The novellas star women in their forties, who want passion in their lives and have found their male equal in the Sex Club.

Ready or Not
Chris Manby
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425213536 $6.99 1-800-847-5515

In London, Heidi met Ed Gordon when she had emergency dental need and her dentist was away. They went out on a first date that was perfect and continued to see one another until he proposed on Valentine's Day in Paris. He is the man of her dreams. However, over the next few months as Heidi and Ed prepare to say I do, she begins to have doubts mostly caused by his behavior when he is with his rugby mates. Heidi begins to wonder if he is her soul mate when he comes back to their flat telling her he lost his key, unaware that he lost his clothing too as he is naked. Adding to her growing doubts is that her first love Steven Gabriel is back and making it clear he desires her. Heidi considers whether she is ready to marry and to whom or not? This is an enjoyable amusing contemporary romance that sub-genre fans will appreciate as Heidi seems poised as her world goes out of control. She, her fiance, and her former lover are fully developed characters while his mates augment the growing concerns that have Heidi reconsidering her commitment. Though the ending is too overwhelming with "confessions", Chris Manby provides a fun modern day English romance.

Darkest Dreams
Jennifer St. Giles
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
042521303X $6.99 1-800-847-5515

In 1879 Andromeda Andrews comes to Dartmoor's End to see her recently married sister Cassie, who wed Sean Killaren. Her arrival upsets the cold war balance between Sean and his twin Alexander as it reminds both of the prophesy curse in which one will kill the other and the "accident" in which the Andrews' cousin Mary dies at sea near Dartmoor's End. Andromeda is attracted to Alexander who cannot hide his bitterness towards Sean. Like Cassie she wants to know more about Mary's death and the sibling she is falling in love with though also like her sister she fears her beloved is a cruel soulless killer who she has doubts on whether she can trust him with her heart, her life, and her soul. DARKEST DREAMS, the sequel to the magnificent MIDNIGHT SECRETS is a superb paranormal Victorian romantic suspense thriller with gothic overtones. The story line is action-packed, but as with Cass' saga, Andromeda is the key to the wonderful plot. Her "sight" skills tell her to run away and towards Alex especially in light of her belief that she is the next Druid sacrifice and he might be the one to perform the ritual. Fans of gothic and paranormal romances will want to read this beguiling tale.

Harmony's Way
Lora Leigh
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425213056 $6.99 1-800-847-5515

In the near future, Harmony Lancaster was born in a genetics lab as a lion breed (mix of lion DNA into human DNA). She was bred and trained to kill. However, her pride in herself leads to her escaping from the breeder "prison"; she also took valuable information as a bargaining chip and to learn more about the experiments. This trained killer plans to kill members of the Genetics Council and the scientists who abet their efforts to use and abuse breeds of all ages. Head of the Breed Council, her breed sibling Jonas worries about Harmony as many of their supporters want her vigilante justice stopped even if it means killing her to do so. He catches her, but she refuses to hand over the information she has on the First Leo. Jonas takes her to Broken Butte, New Mexico where he has friends he can trust especially her biological mate Sheriff Lance Jacobs. Though irate and roaring like a lioness, Harmony is also attracted to the lawman who has vowed to keep his beloved safe as several groups including a fire and brimstone anti breed preacher converge on the small town to take away the information on the First Lion information dead or alive preferably the former. HARMONY'S WAY is a terrific heated romantic science fiction novel that makes readers believe in the genetic engineering as described by Lora Leigh in this tale and in MEGAN'S MARK. Harmony is a fabulous unique lead character as she believes justice can only be served for her breed and the other breeds by first strike killing of those who treat them as abused animals or abominations. Fans will empathize with her, but question her vigilante tactics as does the love of her life Lance. Readers will appreciate the diversity and fighting factions that make up the Leigh universe as danger from multiple sides converge on this small New Mexico town.

Death on the Flop
Jackie Chance
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
042521348X $6.99 1-800-847-5515

Belinda Cooley is having a hard time of it ever since she saw her fiance with another woman on his desk. The forty year old Belinda also lost her job because her fiancee was her boss and she had too much pride to be taking orders from him. Her twin brother Ben sweeps her off to Las Vegas so he can compete in Texas Hold 'Em poker. His goal is to beat the pro Steely Stan who he believes gives poker a bad name. When they finally arrive at the tournament, Ben leaves Belinda. She gets tired of waiting for him and walks down the stairs when she overhears a threat between two men, one of whom she later learns is in charge of the tournament security. When she gets back to her room, she finds all her stuff and Ben's tossed everywhere. She goes to Frank's room, a security expert who she met, and tells him that she thinks her brother was kidnapped. He decides to help her while she taking her brother's place in the tournament hoping to find out how Stan and the police officer know each other and if they had anything to do with Ben's disappearance. Although there is too much detail given to the ins and out at Texas Hold 'Em for the novice to follow, readers will thoroughly enjoy the heroine's efforts to find her brother, learn to play poker and deal with her attraction to Frank whom she believes is more than a security expert. Jackie Chance has written a high octane mystery that captures the frantic activity that personifies Las Vegas. Readers will find DEATH ON THE FLOP a full house.

Stake That
Mari Mancusi
Berkley Jam
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425212106 $9.99 1-800-847-5515

Rayne is still reeling over the mistaken identification in which her straight twin sister Sunny was bitten by a hunk of a vampire instead of her. Now her sibling is a vampire and she is not (see BOYS THAT BITE). However, life or perhaps a better term undead takes quite a bizarre spin for the distraught spirited Rayne. She has just learned that she is the Buffy of this generation with her first assignment to uncover which vampire is spreading a horrific blood disease one bite at a time. She wonders as a vampire slayer what to do about her twin. Still slaying seems relatively easy in Rayne's thinking; what is hard is to decide is whether to beat up Jareth or kiss him senseless. This is an interesting teen vampire sequel that stars the twin left behind when those BOYS THAT BITE nipped her sibling. Rayne is a fascinating protagonist and her gender war with Jareth is enjoyable to watch though her chick lit asides can be somewhat irritating. Young readers will want to stake out Mari Mancusi's fun homage to Buffy.

Wild Indigo
Sandi Ault
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0425213692 $23.95 1-800-847-5515

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agent Jamaica Wild is a liaison between her agency and the Tanoah Pueblo in Northern New Mexico. It is the period of Quiet Time, a sacred holiday where the Pueblo is closed to outsiders. Jamaica is there because she was invited by her mentor Momma Anna Montayo to cook and while there a child says the buffalo are loose from their pen. When she goes to investigate she sees Jerome Santana in the pen going towards the bulls who are ready to charge, a look of rapture on his face. He is killed but war chief Reuben Rael and Wrangler Sonny are more concerned that she is on the rez during Quiet Time. They escort her off their land but Jamica tells her boss that she thinks Jerome, who never uses, was on drugs. The tribe refuses to allow an autopsy and when Jamaica is on the land again, they complain to her boss, saying she caused the buffalo to stampede. He has no choice but to suspend her. Her investigation takes an odd turn, some of it mystical but it takes a near tragedy for the truth to come out. What Tony Hillerman and Aimee and David Thurlo do for the Navaho, Sandi Ault does for the Tanoah. Readers get a vividly descriptive look at their culture and belief system, trying to maintain the old ways while living in modern times. The heroine is a loving gutsy woman who keeps a wolf for a pet and refuses to let her suspension keep her down. She is a modern day warrior who takes action when she feels that is the proper cause.

The Cursed One
Ronda Thompson
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312935757 $6.99 1-888-330-8477

In 1821 England instead of making love in their Collingsworth Manor bedroom, Lady Amelia Collingsworth thinks her husband Robert, whom she just married, is about to kill her as he has his hands, make that his claws, around her neck. Not one to idly accept her fate, Amelia uses her nails to free herself and grabs a sharp object off the nearby desk and stabs him. Hearing the racket, Lord Gabriel Wulf, the object of Amelia's fantasies, arrives; she calmly tells him she killed her spouse. However, a monster actually kills Robert and stabs Gabriel before fleeing. Reluctantly Gabriel knows he must keep Amelia safe until he can return her to her family. He knows what the human beast is as he suffers from the same curse. However, instead of taking her to her kin, the Sinclairs, they are under siege as Collingsworth Manor is surrounded by a pack of werewolves. Already attracted to one another before the current perilous situation, Amelia and Gabriel fall in love, but he fears for her safety not from those trying to kill her, but from him, the beast. The latest Wild Wulfs of London (see THE UNTAMED ONE and THE DARK ONE) is a superb werewolf Regency romantic suspense thriller that starts off as a five star howl and never slows down until the final confrontation between beauty and the beast. Gabriel is a hesitant champion because he fears he will not control the beast when it comes to his desire for Amelia; she is as courageous as a lioness not afraid to protect herself and her beloved though knowing the enemy is much more powerful than her. Fans will appreciate this wonderful paranormal historical romance.

Something Naughty
Delilah Dawson
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312936559 $6.99 1-888-330-8477

Damon Becker is stunned when his grandmother Henrietta informs him that she wants to expand the Becker Style Tailoring business suits to include items like edible bras and panties, and other sexual paraphernalia made by Naughty Devil. Damon absolutely opposes what he believes is a horrific idea as the junk sold by Naughty Devil is outside the core competencies and values of Becker Style Tailoring whose customers are very conservatively dressed. ND co-owner Tanika Davis sees a natural match as the hard working man comes home to his sexy wife (or visa versa) for some fun time. She thinks her adversary is quite a hunk and would not mind sacking him, but wants nothing to do with his uptight (except where it counts) personality. Damon may not want to sell ND items in their BST catalogue, but admits he would love to dine on one of their bras if Tanika was modeling it. Still a deal is a deal so Mr. Prim and Proper is handcuffed to Ms. loose and voluptuous with neither expecting their attraction to lead to love. Erotic romance readers will enjoy this fine tale of love in the boardroom (and several other places). The attraction between the lead couple is magnetic as the audience will feel the heat each emits that turns volcanic once they touch. However, instead of strategic business mission and vision serving as his prime opposition, he behaves as Mr. Starched Underwear; that is until Ms. Kinky starches his body parts. Fans of torrid tales of love will enjoy reading SOMETHING NAUGHTY while wondering how to get an invite to the Erotique Ball.

Kiss Her Goodbye
Robert Gregory Browne
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312358393 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

Chicago-based Alex Gunderson heads the anti-government Socialist Amerikan Reconstruction Army (SARA named for his beloved pregnant wife). He and his followers fund their subversive operations by robberies or selling guns. The Gundersons and others assault the Northland First & Trust Bank; however ATF Special Agent Jack Donovan thwarts the robbery. In a shootout, Sara is hit and falls into a coma, but Alex escaped. Outraged while his cherished spouse lies comatose in a hospital, Alex blames Jack; he decides an eye for an eye with Jack's estranged 15-year-old daughter Jessie as the victim. Already angry at her father for not being there for her or her mom while he did his duty for his country, Jessie is visiting Jack for the first time since her mother divorced him. Alex kidnaps Jessie and buries her alive. He informs Jack that his daughter will live until her oxygen runs out. Racing against time, Jack and his lover ATF Agent Rachel desperately seek clues to save the life of his teenage daughter but a glory hound cop kills Alex before he reveals the burial plot. Though quite exciting this adrenalin pumping thriller contains stereotypical characters that in many ways compare the two sides of the same coin (Jack and Alex). What is totally fascinating is that Alex understands the importance of family while Jack does not comprehend this until Jessie is in peril; other values are commonly shared by the two adversaries. The supernatural tidbits seem out of the body of the plot though they relieve the tension of a faster than light story line.

The Conjurer
Cordelia Frances Biddle
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312352468 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

In 1842 Philadelphia, wealthy financier Lemuel Beale vanishes without a trace. His only offspring overly protected and obedient to a fault Martha finds her father's secretary Owen Simms ordering her about. Already having her fill of her demanding father, Martha begins to revolt by insisting the city investigate the disappearance of Lemuel. Mayoral assistant Thomas Kelman is assigned to learn what happened to the influential Beale though the city government assumes he is dead. Although he is tied up with another inquiry into a serial killer murdering female child prostitutes, he makes time to search for the missing banker with the help of Martha though Simms tries every trick including drugs to keep the suddenly non-compliant heiress under his thumb as he plans to marry her and her money. As Thomas and Martha work on both of his cases, a societal conjurer favorite Eusapio Paladino makes all sorts of proclamations on the prostitution homicides that lead to him to being the prime suspect. However, complicating the Kelman inquiries, Paladino is arrested for allegedly killing John Durand, the husband of the magician's upper crust paramour Emily Durand. In some ways this is more a historical tale than a mystery as much of the story line provides depth to 1842 Philadelphia's upper and lower classes; thus fans of American whodunits will find the mid nineteenth century tidbits at times too much as that takes away from the investigations. Still fans, especially those who appreciate a deep period piece, will enjoy Martha Beale's dangerous coming out gala.

Rising Moon
Lori Handeland
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312938500 $6.99 1-888-330-8477

In New Orleans three years ago Katie vanished; her sister, private investigator Anne Lockheart put her life on hold as she did all the right things involved with a missing person plus began her own fruitless search to find her missing sibling. Her efforts to find her sister remained futile until someone left a photo of Katie in Anne's mailbox. Her sis is standing in front of the French Quarter jazz club RISING MOON. Anne goes undercover obtaining a job at the Rising Moon. However, though she remains obsessed she finds herself for the first time in three years distracted as she is attracted to the blind owner-musician John Rodolfo. She thinks he is the key to learn what happened to Katie though when confronted he denies knowing her. As Anne unravels his secrets especially his passion for vanishing at night, she realizes she has fallen in love, but finding Katie remains the top priority and only then can she consider what he really is besides her soulmate. This is a fascinating paranormal romantic suspense thriller that grips readers from the onset when Anne sees the photo that invigorates her and never slows down as she begins to wonder whether her soulmate could be a vicious killing beast who includes her sister as part of his count. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action as Lori Handeland continues her dark moonlit entertaining New Orleans thrillers with another supernatural winner.

My Nerdy Valentine
Vicki Lewis Thompson
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312939094 $6.99 1-888-330-8477

In Chicago, psychology major Amanda Rykowsky meets Cooper and Scott stockbroker William Sloan while she is carrying XXX rated material, which she accidentally drops. He helps her pick up her sexual artifacts like the vibrator before asking her to join him for lunch. She would like to, but her schedule does not allow time to sleep let alone dream about dining with logical nerds. Amanda tends bar at Geekland while also interning with sex therapist Dr. Gloria Tredway, who believes in show and show techniques of helping patients; the XXX sex items are tools of Gloria's trade. The therapist thinks William is cute, but Amanda knows any human with three legs is fine to Gloria. Soon after sharing her mentor's sex toys with the nerdy stockbroker; Amanda receives an anonymous Valentine that she assumes came from William. When she receives several more affectionate notes some attached to Godiva chocolate, she seeks out William, who denies sending them to her. Attracted to Amanda, William fears a stalker might harm her so he persuades her to let him be her NERD IN SHINING ARMOR. They fake a relationship though no one would believe those kisses between them is an act as the NERD GONE WILD with desire. The latest nerdy contemporary romance is a fun tale due to the support cast especially zany Dr. Gloria, who seems to have no boundaries or inhibitions of any sort. She worries about her intern, who in her opinion wrongly chooses her professional life over her love life; Gloria plans to fix that shortcoming. William is out of the Nerd handbook as he tries to become Amanda's protector, but cannot resist desiring her. Fans of the series will enjoy this lighthearted tale of a nerd competing against a stalker, school work, and the sex therapist for the affection of the woman he loves.

Valley Forge
David Garland
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312327226 $24.95 1-888-330-8477

After the epic battle of Saratoga (see SARATOGA) the rebel colonists capture many British soldiers from His Majesty's 24th Foot regiment including Captain Jamie Skoyles. However with the help of fellow prisoner of war Sergeant Tom Caffrey, they escape from their Cambridge jail. James picks up his frightened girlfriend Elizabeth Rainham and they head to the British controlled stronghold of Philadelphia. Already feeling sympathetic towards the American cause, James cannot help but compare General George Washington and his intrepid but unprepared for the winter angry and despondent Continental Army housed nearby in Valley Forge to the pompous arrogant British leader General William Howe who enjoys the fruit of the city. Howe becomes irate that this ragtag insurgent force still survives so he decides he needs an insider to provide him with more information. He chooses Jamie to spy on Washington to learn how to destroy the insurgency. Jamie succeeds in getting inside Washington's inner circle, but feels guilty that he is either betraying the intrepid rebel leader and his valid cause, his country, or both. Because of the depth of detail that vividly provides the audience with insight into the living conditions of the two fighting forces during the winter of 77 and 78, VALLEY FORGE will take some time to read, but worth doing as the tale provides a powerful look at the comparative environments grip readers. Though James is accepted to easily by the American leadership especially Washington, this is a key element enabling the reader to understand the internal conflict of many people during the American Revolution. David Garland has provided a well written action-packed story line that is not fast-paced as two armies bunker down for the winter.

The Coldest Blood
Jim Kelly
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312364784 $24.95 1-888-330-8477

Over thirty-one years ago back in 1974 children on summer vacation were at the Dolphin Holiday Camp in Sea's End, England when they saw the horror that continued to haunt them until now. In the present near Ely on the Letter M Farm, a man shows Joe, one of those witnesses, a picture of the boy who suffered from the horror from back then; this stranger kills Joe by dousing him with icy water leading to hypothermia. Crow reporter Philip Dryden investigates the deep freeze deaths that are sweeping the Ely area especially a long time resident like Joe allegedly falling asleep drunk with his windows wide open and a sheet of ice covering his corpse. The police insist it is a tragic accident due to personal negligence but when the dead drunk's long time best friend since they were children at an orphanage also perishes with a sheet of ice on him in front of his door, Dryden suspects foul play not foul weather. He also knows first hand the link that connects the two dead men to him when the three were children. Aptly titled, wear gloves, a scarf, and a woolen hat because readers will freeze as they feel the temperatures that serve as the backdrop and icy water that is the murder weapon of choice as Jim Kelly is very descriptive with deep freeze that engulfs England. Philip's investigation into the frozen deaths is cleverly tied to his personal life, which is in an uproar as his comatose wife Laura begins to regain consciousness for the first time in years. Fans will enjoy Dryden's latest caper as he moves between the past and the present while trying to avoid becoming the latest cold stiff.

The Ravenscar Dynasty
Barbara Taylor Bradford
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312354606 $25.95 1-888-330-8477

In 1904, Richard Deravenel, his seventeen years old son Edmund, his brother Rick and his nephew Tom die in an inferno at a hotel in Carrarra, Italy. Another cousin Neville Watkins informs Richard's wife Cecily and their other offspring eighteen-year-old son Edward of the death of his relatives. Neville hides his suspicion from his Aunt Cecily, but tells his cousin Edward that he thinks they were murdered while looking into a business problem involving marble quarries. Edward and Neville forge a partnership to uncover the truth and also agree to take control of the Dervavenel business interests before vultures like their cousin Henry Grant, who they suspect is behind the tragedy, usurp control like his grandfather did six decades ago. Over the next few years, Edward eventually marries widow Elizabeth Wyland but also keeps a mistress Jane Shaw. Elizabeth nags her spouse to take full control of the family business, but also turns irate when she thinks of Jane. However, as war on the continent seems imminent with England probably sucked in due to its alliances, a traitor from within the family taking advantage of a disaster jeopardizes the business. For fans of the author and anyone who appreciates a pre WWI English family saga, THE RAVENSCAR DYNASTY is a fine historical tale. Though the tale spins into a soap opera at times due to Elizabeth's rants and rages, the key cast is fully developed especially the male rivals from the Yorkshire and Lancaster branches (though the former appears much more frequently) as they compete for control of the dynasty. Readers looking for early twentieth century dynastic epics will appreciate this fine entry though it contains no Harts.

Behind Closed Doors
Natalie P. Collins
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312934866 $6.99 1-888-330-8477

She grew up in the Mormon faith believing in its tenets until the night her fiance Brian raped her in the temple. The bishop says both contributed to the rape as Jennie wore provocative clothing and let things go to far; and he should have had the strength to not give in to temptation. Unable to believe the bishop's "words of wisdom" she walked out on Brian and never returned to a temple or a church. She counsels abused and is fearful when she learns her best friend Melissa disappeared. The two women along with Michael and Brian were childhood friends until she left her fiance, but kept close connections with the other two. Jeannie doesn't want to believe Melissa is dead even though all evidence points to Michael killing her. The more she digs the close she comes to getting murdered from a killer who is determined to keep his identity a secret. This is a chilling thriller that exposes the dark side of religious extremism and intolerance. Even though the heroine walked away from a religion that she now believes treats women as second class chattel, she feels guilty that she no longer accepts the Mormon faith that was her bedrock as a child and teen. The characters are believable and the pace swift and action packed while the romantic sub-plot between the lead detective on the case and the heroine adds spice to a fabulous romantic thriller.

Under the Wire
Cindy Gerard
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
031298104X $6.99 1-888-330-8477

They met in Nicaragua and fell in love. He was a soldier working undercover to destroy the Sandinista while she was an American physician in country as part of Doctors Without Borders. However, someone ratted on Manny Ortega, who blamed his lover Lily Campora. She went home thinking he died; he escaped only to find his family devastated. Years later Lily relocates to Boston accompanied by her sixteen year old son Adam because she was shocked to see Manny alive and on the news. He is a Boston police detective. When she learns Adam has been kidnapped while in Sri Lanka, she turns to Manny for help. He may hate her, but he lines up his Bodyguard friends Darcy Prescott, Dallas Garrett and Ethan Garrett to mount a rescue. In country, Manny and Lily realize they still love one another, but he holds her culpable until she asks him why she would betray him yet raise his son Adam. From war torn Nicaragua in the late 1980s to current war torn Sri Lanka, UNDER THE WIRE is an exhilarating action-packed second chance at love suspense thriller. At times the plot goes over the top especially in Sri Lanka, but no one will care as the audience will cheer on the heroic team especially the lead couple and admire the courage of Adam. The return of the stars from OVER THE LINE adds to the fun, but the tale belongs to the convincing, distressing killing fields where life consists of disposable pawns.

The Rhythm of the Road
Albyn Leah Hall
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312359447 $24.95 1-888-330-8477

Not long after Josephine was born, her mother disappeared leaving behind the newborn with her father to raise her. Her daddy, Bobby Pickering, drives a truck taking her on the road with him since she was born. Bobby has always stopped to pick up lovely hitchhikers over the years; charming many of them to warm his bed when he stops for the night. The years have moved on; Jo is now a teen starting to desire males with a fierce need for more freedom. Bobby recently picked up singer Cosima Stewart. Jo turns to Cosima as a mother surrogate persuading Bobby to take her to the singer's shows. However, a band member has sex with Jo just before Cosima leaves to tour California. Jo mentally collapses; ignoring her father she follows Cosima to the West Coast where her emotional collapse becomes obvious. THE RHYTHM OF THE ROAD is not an easy tale to read as the angst of the teen will disturb the audience because it seems so genuine. The cast makes this a powerful relationship drama as Jo though loving her father and knowing he loves her too falls apart anyway. Her plea for help especially from Cosima will touch all readers as Albyn Leah Hall provides a deep look at a people in trouble.

The Hooded Hawke
Karen Harper
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312338872 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

In 1569 Queen Elizabeth I continues her effort to strengthen her control of throne while her prime rival Mary, Queen of Scots, and several northern lords brew rebellion. Though concerned over her safety, Elizabeth refuses to be a prisoner as she was when her late stepsister was queen. Accompanied by Francis Drake, she goes out on an outing, but someone tries to assassinate her; killing her falconer instead. A second attack comes close to her while she consulted with her herbalist. Not one to sit around as a target, Elizabeth begins an investigation as to who is behind the attempts on her life as she suspects it is not the obvious suspects like Mary. She enlist her loyal servants and Francis to help her unravel the truth as she begins to suspect she is not the objective, but that someone else close to the crown is and the assailant also has to be in the inner royals circle. If her theory is wrong, a dead Elizabeth would be the proof. As always with this delightful sixteenth century mystery series, readers must accept Queen Elizabeth I as a private investigator extraordinaire. If one can accept that basic axiom, the exciting story line is fascinating as the audience obtains a deep look at Elizabethan England inside a cleverly devised whodunit with suspects galore.

Forests of the Night
David Stuart Davies
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312360002 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

In 1939, Johnny Hawke left the London police force to enlist with the military. However, with only a couple of months as a soldier, his military career ended on English soil at Aldershot; during training Sergeant-Major Stock gave Johnny a rifle with an obstruction in the barrel that when the recruit fired it exploded in his face. He learns from Dr. Moorhouse at Aldershot General that the heat of the explosion destroyed his left eye. Stunned as he is discharged from the military and knowing his previous vocation is no longer available for a freak like Johnny One-Eye, he becomes a private investigator as a means of making a living. He handles boring minor cases until Eric and Freda Palfrey hire him to find their missing twenty-seven years old daughter, Pamela. Hawke soon uncover the truth about Pamela that her parents were unaware of; she hid her high class prostitution business from her middle class family. Learning that leads Johnny to realize she was murdered probably by one of her customers. He begins to investigate the late Pamela's clientele to ascertain just who killed the high price prostitute. Though the case may seem somewhat minor especially with WW II in full heat, readers will appreciate the first Johnny Hawke private investigation mystery that brings to life England while the hostilities are in the air and on the continent. Johnny's inquiries enable the audience to obtain a feel for how mostly Londoners were coping during their "finest hour" that seemed so bleak. The whodunit is fun to follow, but takes a back seat to the world of 1940 England.

Spinning Dixie
Eric Dezenhall
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
031234063X $24.95 1-888-330-8477

In 2005 the Global War on Terrorism comes home when a suicide bomber commits kamikaze at a Philadelphia Phillies home game. This attack on American soil places President James Lee Truitt on the defensive, but his relatively new Press Secretary Jonah Eastman provides dark Jersey TURNPIKE FLAMEOUT humor that enrages everyone especially Philly fanatics. Jonah is fired for his insensitivity towards the president and his party's needs. Before Jonah can head north from DC, his high school sweetheart (at least for one glorious summer of love), Claudine Polk arrives at his former office to ask him to help save her family's Rattle & Snap Tennessee plantation. Jonah, thinking he can relive his greatest moments in Atlantic City, agrees though he suspects his beautiful southern belle has not come to town seeking circumcised kosher hot dog. Still hoping to get lucky, he begins an out of control Godzilla spin campaign that brings into his game the president, political action committee, Civil War re-enactors, the military, and the mob to name a few, all caught in his web. A second civil war seems imminent as Operation Dixie Knish causes Truitt to approve countermeasure Operation Enough Already. As always Jonah spins out of control leading to a zany way out domestic crisis thriller that could only be written by Eric Dezenhall. The insane story line is action-packed as it rotates between 2005 and 1980 (so Jonah was too young for the original summer of love). The cast is purposely stereotyped as war veterans, mobsters, Tennessee Volunteers from the U of T and some Vanderbilt intellects, and an assortment of politicians, all caught in the spinmiester's web. Though some of the sub-plotting never bridges back to Jonah's mission to repeat his teen conquest as a forty something male, fans of the series will enjoy his SPINNING DIXIE out of control.

The Glass Wall
Clare Curzon
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312349637 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

Near London, Ramon, a Filipino bartender, watches in shock as nonagenarian invalid Emily Withers falls from her seventeenth floor penthouse apartment to the street. Once he realizes he is the sole witness he enters the building. He assumes someone, probably the killer or her caretaker, remains inside the apartment, but is soon sure no one else is there, so he enters. Ramon cleans up the place because no one must know he was there though the woman's great-niece Nurse Alyson Orme expected him to go there. Still if interrogated by the cops, Ramon feels confident he will be okay because he has experience with inquiries much more unsavory than any in western civilization as the cops would never consider removing tongues. Thames Valley Superintendent Mike Yeadings and Detective Sargent Rosemary Zyczynski lead the investigation into the death of the elderly Miss Withers who could not leave her bed without assistance. However, the crime scene makes no sense as it is too clean leading Mike and Rosemary to wonder if the culprit stayed around to clean the place up. They look into those connected to Miss Withers to include her grieving great-niece Alyson, her doctor Keith Stanford and the missing care-giver Sheena Judd, but find little to prove one of these pushed the ninety-four year old out the window. This complex police procedural uses secondary characters to complicate the investigation so that the audience like Mike and Rosemary struggle with the whodunit. Thus fans of the series will treasure this entry filled with red herrings and cleansed crime scenes from the onset as everyone will wonder for instance why Ramon did what he did. THE GLASS WALL is a tremendous murder mystery that is a one sitting read as Claire Curzon provides what may be Yeadings' best tale in his illustrious dozen or so novels.

Head Games
Thomas B. Cavanagh
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312361327 $24.95 1-888-330-8477

Bob his brain tumor controls retired cop Mike Garrity. Though he has a teenage daughter Jennifer, two former wives, and friends from the force, Mikey expects to die in the next few months with Bob as his only companion. Neither family, former family, friends, or strangers knows how to deal with Mikey's new roommate sharing his brain space, Bob. Another ex-cop George Neuheisel works as bodyguard to the superstar pop group Boyz Klub. However, when their lead singer TJ vanishes, he asks Mike to quietly investigate. With nothing else to do and a chance perhaps through the musical group to get closer to Jennifer though he hides the case from her and others, he begins making inquiries starting with other band members and the mother of the missing singer. No one offers any real information or any concern except for George. As Bob tells him to forget the case as he has little time left to live, Mike keeps digging. He argues with Global Talent CEO Eli Elizondo who demands he drop the investigation and with band member Miguel who may or may not have had a relationship with TJ. If Bob allows him enough time, Mike will uncover whether TJ fled the pressure of fame or is the victim of a homicide. HEAD GAMES is a unique fresh private investigative tale that grips readers from its opening line introducing the audience to Bob the tumor roommate and never slows down until the final confrontations. Readers will wonder if Mike will have the time to complete the case and reconcile with Jennifer even as Bob takes on a personality of his own. Mystery fans who want something different in their novels will enjoy Thomas B. Cavanagh as he plays HEAD GAMES with his protagonist (and the audience).

Pressed To Kill
Dolores Johnson
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312347855 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

Mandy Dyer is the owner of Dyers Cleaners and she knows her customers and what they wear. She is very surprised that Ardith who usually wears black grey and brown tailored suits is now wearing colorful clothing and dresses. When Mandy comments on this radical charge, including coloring her and wearing it loose Ardith says she wants to please her boyfriend who likes her new look. She goes on to say that she met him when Dyers sponsored an open house. A few days later Mandy spots an article in the newspaper about Ardith's death. She was strangled in her home over the weekend. She told Mandy she and her boyfriend were spending the weekend in her home cuddling and enjoying themselves. Mandy believes that one of her customers killed Ardith and is shocked to learn another customer, who looked like Ardith was killed a few months ago. Mandy draws up a list of suspects from the little knowledge she has about the crimes but the killer is watching her and waiting to see if he will have to deal with her if she gets too close to discovering his identity. The latest Mandy Dyer mystery is filled with humor, car chases and a cast of characters who want to help Mandy but only succeed in aggravating her. At one point, Mandy even suspects her significant other because he denied knowing about the open house but one of the workers saw him in the vicinity. There are quite a few customers who could have been the killer and the readers, like Mandy, will go nuts trying to figure out who it is. Dolores Johnson writes an excellent cozy cum amateur sleuth tale that will appeal to readers who don't like violent scenes in their mysteries.

Protector of the Flight
Robin D. Owens
Luna (Harlequin)
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373802641 $13.95

After her accident, Calli is no longer able to compete in rodeo events and is heartbroken to learn that her father sold her horse. He also makes it clear she will not inherit the ranch upon his death. She goes into the nearby mountains to regain her equilibrium and finds herself traveling through the dimensional portal to the realm of Lladrana on the planet Amee. She was summoned by the powerful magic wielding marshals as the volaran Exotique for the Chevaliers, knights who fight the monsters that the Dark lets into Lladrana. The volarans who are flying horses that are used in fighting the monsters are overjoyed that Calli is there. They and the Chevaliers make it clear that they want her which mends the heart her father broke. She chooses Marrec, a chevalier with no land and only one volaran as her mate, which raises his standing in the Chevaliers hierarchy considerably. However, he wants nothing more than to settle down with her and their two adopted children. Calli wants that too but she cannot settle down until she fulfills her purpose in Lladrana, whatever it may be. This is the third fantasy romance set in Lladrana and it is exciting and action-packed as the first two books in the series (see GUARDIAN OF HONOR). The heroine adapts easily to her new life and she and her mate get from the beginning. However, he has different goals than her that and that puts a wedge in their relationship and it is only when they are both stranded back on earth do they heal each others wounds. Great characterizations and a beautiful love story make PROTECTOR OF THE FLIGHT very special.

Warrior's Second Chance
Nancy Gideon
Silhouette Intimate Moments
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373275153 $4.99

Thirty years ago, teens Barbara Calvin and Taggart McGee were in love, but he had to leave. She vowed to marry him while he pledged to come back once his commitment ended. However, Barbara was carrying Tag's child and when she never heard from him she bowed to family pressure to marry his best friend Robert D'Angelo. Her dreams battered, Barbara and Robert raise Tag's daughter Tessa. Tag thinks her marriage was a case of out of sight out of mind and that his beloved Barbara betrayed him with his former best friend. Now someone kills Robert and threatens Barbara and Tessa. This cold blooded killer knows Tag's most intimate secret that he still loves Barbara and would risk his life to keep her safe even if he thinks she is a Jezebel. This adversary dangles the two female D'Angelos to lure, trap and kill Tag who is the only living person besides himself aware of what he needs buried as he sets other plans in motion. True to form, Tag returns home to keep the woman he loves who he thinks betrayed him safe from his enemy. The title is apropos as this is a second chance at love for this Lone Wolf warrior if he can keep his beloved, his offspring (whom he thought was someone else's daughter), her spouse, and his grandchild safe while bringing down a dangerous enemy who knows him as well as anyone does. The extended cast makes this an exciting romantic suspense thriller that grips readers from the moment that Barbara faces death and never slows down until the final confrontations on personal (between Tag, Barbara, and Tessa) and professional (vs. the killer) levels. Nancy Gideon provides a thrilling warrior tale (see WARRIOR WITHOUT RULES and WARRIOR WITHOUT A CAUSE for further enjoyment).

The Supermom
Karen Rose Smith
Silhouette Special Edition
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373247974 $5.50

Unable to depend on her former spouse Jerome to provide financial child support let alone keep his dates with their three children (Olivia, Anthony and Michael), Angela "Supermom" Schumacher obtains a second job, which means even less time parenting. When Jerome lets down nine year old Anthony by skipping their last two dates, the child begins to misbehave. Her neighbors Jack and Zooey recommend she sign up with the community's Big Brother Program because Anthony needs some adult male nurturing and guidance. She reluctantly she agrees. Anthony is paired with businessman David Moore, who provides the lad with a stable caring role model while the child's father continues to ditch dates with him and his siblings. Angela and David are attracted to one another, but he is cautious because he does not want to hurt her children and besides she has doubts that any man can be trusted not to cheat. The changing relationships between the key players make for a deep "Talk of the Neighborhood Continuity" tale. Angela is a realist as she knows she is failing her children because she cannot be dad and mom while providing food on the table. Though readers will feel for the distraught Anthony, like David, and detest Jerome, the story line belongs to THE SUPERMOM trying her best for her kids; the romantic subplot is a bonus to a strong family drama.

Maureen Child
Silhouette Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373617577 $5.25

Three weeks before her thirtieth birthday, Erin Brady is on the run from an unknown person, her biological father, who wants to strip her of her psychic powers before killing her. In Shadow Cove, Maine, Erin feels that someone is following her and ducks into a store. She touches a knife that enables her to envision someone named Santos just as he is killed because she somehow distracted him. She sees a second vision in which Santos is in present day San Francisco so following her intuition she travels across the country. Santos is an immortal Guardian who watches the portals between earth and the demon dimensions so none of these evil beings cross; if they do he insures they are returned to their hells worse for wear. When Erin arrives to see him, someone tries to run her over so he takes her to his home. After hearing her tale and knowing she is s the woman who distracted him, he offers to protect her especially when he realizes humans and demons want her. As he tries to learn why, they fall in love, but he is an immortal warrior vowed to fight demons for eternity making it impossible for them to have a normal life together. This horror romance is a wonderful tale of star-crossed lovers with Santos trying to keep her alive when mortals, demons, and other ilk want her dead. The immortal is a brave warrior when it comes to fighting, even against overwhelming odds but he is a cowardly lion when it comes to his heart. Erin is a strong individual not afraid to go where her heart leads her even if that places her out in the open with seemingly every evil in the universe wanting a piece of her. Maureen Child provides a spellbinding romantic fantasy that transports the audience into a magical realm where evil is around every corner.

Devotion Calls
Caridad Pinero
Silhouette Nocturne
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373617550 $5.25

In Spanish Harlem, Ricardo Fernandez places his hands on ailing people and heals them. He pretends to be a priest in the African-Carib religion Santeria because that is the only way he can help his patients including Sara Martinez's mother. She is suffering from cancer and he can at least provide her a bit more time with her family without pain. Ricardo and Sara are attracted to one another, but she senses that he his hiding something from her; she cannot abide liars having been once hurt by one so the two wrestle with their feelinggs Meanwhile a soul sucking blood eating Chupacabra is drawn to Ricardo's emotions; he demands he uses his power to turn him back into a human. Ricardo knows that is impossible and would be devastating for innocent people so he refuses knowing he will fight this evil, but he will need a specially ally, the woman he loves, whom the monster craves too. Caridad Pinero is one author readers can consistently rely on to provide a fantastic paranormal romance. The star-crossed lovers are so very much alike, both fear opening their hearts though their reasons differ; she because she does not want it broken again while he is his afraid of rejection. The support cast include vampires and humans with everyone aware of Ricardo, a beacon of light for the unnatural to devour.

Daughter of the Blood
Nancy Holder
Silhouette Bombshell
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
037351431X $4.99

In New York, Isabella "Izzy" DeMarco lived with her father and worked in the evidence department of the police force. She liked her life and finds herself attracted to one of the officers on the force, Detective Pat Kittrell. Doing escort duty, her world tilted with betrayal, ambush, and someone speaking French inside her head. She learns that she is now the guardian of the House of the Flames, a role she inherited from her mother. Izzy also finds out she is a powerful but untrained mage whose job as the Gifted is to keep some dangerous supernatural creatures like vampires out of New Orleans. She trusts no one except reluctantly Jean-Marc, who has guided her on her mission. However, with Jean-Marc incapacitated from a battle injury, Izzy is on her own fighting a powerful vampire while unaware that a betrayal from within leaves her even more vulnerable from lethal foes. DAUGHTER OF THE BLOOD is an action-packed paranormal romantic suspense thriller with the emphasis on the escapades. The story line is fast-paced and filled with twists including a terrific bombshell of an ending. However, what makes it more than just a brave "Jane Wayne" battling vampires and ilk is the heroine's struggles with her lack of skills while fighting adversaries who make the meanest streets of New York look like a nursery school. This is one adventure tale that holds readers' attention from start to finish.

Veiled Legacy
Jenna Mills
Silhouette Bombshell
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373514328 $4.99

Her young daughter Lexie shows her mom former -MI-6 agent Nadia Bishop the obit picture in the paper that looks exactly like her; thirty-two years old Scarlet Rubashka killed because she looked too much like her. The homicide hurts even more because Nadia knows it relates to her as the location is Saint-Tropez, a place she fled from just a few years ago. Nadia knows she must return to the town where her former lover Joshua Adriano lives to uncover who killed Scarlet as she expects the culprit to come for her and her beloved daughter. However, she must continue to hide Lexie from her biological father Joshua, whom she does not trust because his family would want her for their diabolical use, as a means to obtain control of a mosaic with powers beyond the understanding of mortals. She must also decide whether to rely on the priestesses guarding the mosaic for in Saint Tropez she will meet human and inhuman demons, yet the bottom line is Lexie is all that matters. The latest Madonna Key thriller hooks the audience as innocent Lexie shows the obit picture to her mom saying how pretty she is; this sets the comparative tone of good vs. evil with the heroine refusing to rely on anyone as she believes the man she loves wants her dead so he and his family can obtain the mosaic. Nadia is intrepid though scared, but not for herself; her biggest fear is that Joshua will know Lexie is his offspring and take her whether the former espionage agent lives or dies. Jenna Mills provides a non stop action exhilarating thriller.

The Phoenix Law
Cate Dermody
Silhouette Bombshell
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373514336 $4.99

When she retired from the espionage game, former CIA operative Alisha MacAleer chose to live a quiet life near her family. Thus, when CIA brilliant inventor Brandon Parker arrives at her home under fire, she is unhappy as she wants nothing to do with the agency. He explains he trusts no one except her and had no other place to run to with his new invention, an intelligent AI computer. Everyone seems to know what Brandon has created and who he turned to for safety as they want his invention and preferably him too though he is somewhat expendable; Alisha is totally disposable and for that matter so is her family. As they run from dangerous adversaries, she takes him to the only person she thinks can keep them alive, her former lover Frank Reichart. Alisha is the key to this delightful thriller as a former spy out of the cold forced back into the game to keep her loved ones safe from apparently both sides. Her reluctance and outrage seems so genuine just as Brandon's fears and believes she is his only hope. Frank is courageous as he sees a second chance with the spy who he loves, but first he must keep her, her family, Brandon, and the AI safe. The Alisha-Frank teaming make for a top rate romantic adventure tale.

Storm Force
Meredith Fletcher
Silhouette Bombshell
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373514344 $4.99

In Florida wildlife hunting and fishing guide Kate Garrett is preparing to get her kids Steven and Hannah waiting for her to take them to shelter before the perfect storm expected to hit the peninsular leaves them in trouble from the torrential rain and tidal aftermath. However, instead of reaching them and subsequently shelter or being able to contact their father, the survivalist is taken prisoner by escaped convicts, who are not only on the lam but seeking ten million dollars of hidden stolen loot. They force Kate to guide them through the wilderness to where the money is hid. She knows she must move fast and find a way to expedite herself in order to insure her children are safe on high ground. Her chances of survival rests with one of those holding her hostage, Shane Warren, who keeps her alive, but, will not abet her quest for freedom. Kate is a fantastic lead character whose fears for the safety of her children add tension to an already terse hostage situation at the same time her former spouse Bryce is caught up with a criminal so is out of bounds for any assistance. The story line is action-packed as the readers commiserate with the frustrated and frightened (for her kids) heroine who feels the clock ticking while not understanding Shane's actions or her attraction to him (perhaps the Stockholm Effect). Readers will wonder whether he is on her side or just an escaped convict playing his hand perfectly as the storm is coming. Meredith Fletcher writes a terrific suspense thriller with a secondary romantic subplot enhancing the tale.

Love is Lovelier
Jean Brashear
Harlequin Hotel Marchand
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373389442 $4.99

Sixty two year old widow Anne Marchand is proud of her daughters who rallied together to save the family Hotel Marchand founded by a dream she shared with her late spouse Remy. Now four years since Remy was killed by a DUI, she worries about the hotel's shaky finances while still recovering from a mild heart attack. Fellow hotelier William Armstrong has always loved Anne even before their mothers planned their marriage that never was. He knows he also loved and cherished his late wife Isabel. Yet he still admires and desires Anne though both are now septuagenarians, but wonders if she will ever move past Remy. When they see one another, their attraction remains strong, but she wonders if he is behind the recent mishaps in order to buy her family hotel. As they fall into a mature love, he wants to help them save their hotel not steal it, but she has doubts about his motives and then there is the issue of their age. This is a strong entry that accentuates two older people proving love knows no age barrier. The lead couple is a delightful duo struggling with their family, their personal history, their hotel rivalry, and their age as LOVE IS LOVELIER the second time around because you can appreciate the memories past and the dreams of the future.

Ingrid Weaver
Harlequin Hotel Marchand
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373389450 $4.99

As Mardi Gras approaches Charlotte Marchand knows her beloved family run hotel is in financial trouble as recent publicized problems like the fire have led to cancellations. She believes the buck stops here as the manager so she needs a plan to save the Hotel Marchand, but none seem forthcoming. Charlotte also marvels that her three sisters and her mom are engaged to get married; she is happy for them but wonders why her prince, albeit a loving wealthy one, doesn't arrive to charm her and save her beloved hotel. Two decades ago Dr, Jackson Bailey and Charlotte were an entry, but something broke them apart. Neither forgot their true love though both moved on. When they see one another, sparks ignite with this time Jackson vowing to not let history repeat itself. As they have a second chance at love, they must save the Hotel from the odious extortion tricks of Mike Blount and also foil her grandmamma Celeste Robichaux, who abetted by their foolishness and pride, stopped their relationship the first time around. UNMASKED is an apt title not just because of the Mardi Gras, but also because readers see much more of the takeover plot to steal the Hotel from the Marchand family. The cast is solid as it has become a trademark of the miniseries, but the lead couple is perhaps the best pairing to date as they have a history to overcome as much as they have adversaries to defeat. Ingrid Weaver provides a strong entry starring two fortyish protagonists who learn love has no expiration date.

Lynne Graham
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373198574 $5.99

Harriet Carmichael wonders what she ever did to have two major ugly incidents happen on her. She loses her job unfairly at Dar Designs as someone has to be blamed for the Zenco fiasco. Hurt she comes home to find her fiance Luke in bed with her half-sister Alice. Unable to talk to either of the traitors, Harriet decides it is time to start over with her half of a livery inheritance in a small town in Ireland. In Ballyflynn she meets her new business partner, international tycoon Rafael Cavaliere Flynn, a man she blames for what happened to her stepfather due to his takeover and destruction of Benson Pharmaceuticals. She also assumes he is a womanizer as he is always seen dating some new supermodel. However, she is shocked when Rafael shows he wants to make it with her. She wants to reciprocate, but besides her stepfather's breakdown, trysts are not her thing while trysts are his only thing. BALLYFLYNN is an interesting character driven romance starring a delightful hero whom she blames for what happened to her family when she was younger leading to Rafael having his work cut out to prove his sincerity. Harriet is too mousy as she fails to stand up for herself at work, with her fiance and half-sister, and initially with Rafael though she does accuse him of causing her stepfather's nervous breakdown. Fans will hope she finds backbone because she will need it if she plans to partner in business and life with Rafael.

Rachel's War
Barbara Colley
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373198566 $5.99

To escape her abusive father, Rachel Thompson marries Tim Davis. When he goes off to serve his country during WW II, she moves in with his family. When Tim returns home, Rachel welcomes him as a hero, but he dies in an accident. Pregnant, Rachel obtains work from business mogul Jon Williams. He falls in love with her and pursues her until she agrees to marry him. He raises Tim's offspring Liz as his own loving daughter and Rachel does likewise with his son JJ. As the years go by, the couple seems contented but later Jon is accused of traitorous espionage for the enemy during the war. Rachel is devastated by the accusations. This is an interesting historical tale that spans three generation of females going decades beyond what is described above. An example is Liz marries a soldier and has children with him. Still the prime focus of this second half of the twentieth century relationship saga between women and the soldiers they love and marry is Rachel, the only fully developed character in the family ensemble. Readers will enjoy this look at family members of our servicemen coping with the life of a military wife.

Bobby Hutchinson
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
037319854X $5.99

She loves her spouse Ben and enjoys working at his family's lodge. In fact the only thing missing in Sage Galloway's life is a baby. Her talk with Ben proves futile as he puts her off; insisting they will talk after he returns from a hunting safari of wild buffalo in Tanzania. However, Ben dies devastating Sage. Ben's twin Logan offers the widow some comfort by telling her stories about his ancestors in 1897. She does likewise. Soon the widow and her brother-in-law begin to fall in love just like twin brothers William and Robert did in 1897 Canada to the same woman Jenny, William's pregnant wife. ECHOES is a fascinating character study that compares two generations over a century apart in which male twins falling love with the same woman. The story line is contains is set up more as two novellas as the first part focuses on Sage and her loves while the second section places Jenny at its center. Though the historical segment is the deeper tale as Sage seems somewhat shallow especially next to Jenny, readers who enjoy a comparative family saga will appreciate Bobby Hutchinson's fine drama.

The Legacy
Kate Hoffmann
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373198558 $5.99

In 1924 Dublin, when her husband Michael Byrne was murdered, he left behind his grieving wife Rose and their daughter Mary Grace born one week after he died. The Byrne females survived on a slight inheritance and the widow's seamstress work for three years. Three months ago they were evicted forcing them to live on the street until Lady Geneva Porter offers her work in their household over the objection of her husband. Over the years, Grace is treated more like a niece than an employee's daughter as she plays with Geneva's son Edward. When they are old enough they marry, but hide their nuptials from their family to avoid causing trouble for now at least until Edward returns from fighting in WW II. However she learns he died overseas leaving her as a pregnant widow. She meets and marries wealthy Bostonian Adam Callahan, who takes his new family to America. THE LEGACY is a fascinating mostly first half of the twentieth century Irish historical drama that spans several decades including flashbacks to 1845 that feels intrusive though eventually ties back to the prime tale of following the Byrne females. The story line is female character driven by Jane in 1845 (not described above), Rose, Geneva, and especially Grace; while males are support players. Readers who enjoy a saga that crosses generations though too many years in too short a time will want to track THE LEGACY.

On Angel Wings
Roz Denny Fox
Harlequin SuperRomance
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373713886 $5.50

Montana's Angel Fleet operative Mick Callen delivers freight all over the state, but also provides mountain climbing rescues when needed. He knows airlifting injured Hana Egan to safety is difficult on him because his Poppy insists he is more than half way in love with the smoke jumper. However, with her badly injured while climbing, he offers to take care of her while she heals though he wants much more. Hana is attracted to Mick, but refuses to act on her feelings because she is carrying another smoke jumper's child, who died in a tragic incident. Still since she has no one else she can depend having been raised by foster care, she reluctantly agrees to allow Mick to nurse her back to health as she attends classes at UCLA. Though the theme of a man reluctant to raise someone else's offspring has been used before, Roz Denny Fox refreshes the topic with two likable protagonists falling in love while he helps her heal. Mick and Hana are a delightful pairing as the fetus she carries is the obstacle between them. Fans will enjoy this honest look at relationships while wondering whether he can love her child like he loves her.

The Trouble with Twins
Nancy Warren
Harlequin SuperRomance
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373713908 $5.50

In Lakeview, Washington, the bank is ready to foreclose for lack of mortgage payment, which would leave Melissa Theisen and her two children eight years old Matthew and three years old Alice on the street all because her rat of an ex spouse. Stephen is a deadbeat who fails to pay child support let alone visit his kids. Desperate she begs bank President Seth O'Reilly for a little more time as she plans to open up a daycare center. The widower agrees as long as she accepts his out of control preadolescent twins Laura and Jessica as students. As Seth and Melissa meet due to their children, they begin to fall in love. However, she fears a commitment due to the antics of her former husband while he and his children still mourn the death of his wife, their mother. Still the four kids get on great together and so do the adults, but neither can take that next step in spite a quartet of preadolescent matchmakers pushing them to do so. The rambunctious kids turn this contemporary into a lighthearted modern day Brady Bunch romance though the two adults have issues involving what is good for the children and do they really want to forge a permanent relationship. Melissa and Seth may be in love, but both question whether that is enough as they worry about the impact of another parent on their respective offspring. THE TROUBLE WITH TWINS is a fun tale.

The Truth About Family
Kimberly Van Meter
Harlequin SuperRomance
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373713916 $5.50

When American Photographic magazine photographer Erin McNulty left Granite Hills, she vowed never to return. However, one call forces her home. Her beloved Aunt Caroline, who was more a mom to her, died in a car crash in which her father Charlie was apparently driving under the influence. Mourning the loss of the only person who cared about her, Erin goes home to bury her aunt and ignore her dad, hospitalized in a coma. Police officer Colin Barrett, who called her with the tragic news, stuns Erin further when he claims this was not an accident, but someone deliberately caused the crash. He has no motive or suspect, but with her help they begin to dig into her father's past to determine who wanted Charlie dead and why. Erin knows you can never come home because everything changes, but in her case she does not want to come home as that is a place of pain and sorrow with the exception of her beloved Aunt Caroline, who is dead. Colin is attracted from the first meeting with Erin, but knows unless she comes to grips with her past, he has no chance with her. The investigation augments a fine contemporary romance as Erin with the cop she is falling in love with at her side digs deep to learn THE TRUTH ABOUT FAMILY; that is her family.

A Laramie, Texas Christmas
Cathy Gillen Thacker
Harlequin American
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373751451 $4.99

In Laramie, Deputy Sheriff Kevin McCabe knows three things about newcomer Houston party planner Noelle Kringle. He wants her from the first time he sees her; he also wants to be a friend to her reticent two year old son Mikey, who thinks he is Santa. He knows she is hiding something monumental from him. He plans to uncover her dark secret before Christmas arrives although there are less than two weeks of shopping days left. Noelle finds the kind hearted Kevin is the sexiest hunk she has ever seen and he is so kind to her son that she fears Mikey sees him as a surrogate father. She knows she will have to move on if she does not control her heart because she has no time for her love with a past that could catch up to her and worse to vulnerable Mikey. Her life is flight not fight, but Kevin makes her reconsider her choices. Contemporary romance readers will enjoy this Texas holiday tale starring a congenial lead couple and a precocious two years old who steals the hearts of readers. Cathy Gillen Thacker provides a warm tale with a subtle suspense so that everyone knows someone bad is coming, but whom, when and why requires reading the book.

Cowboy Vet
Pamela Britton
Harlequin American
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373751478 $4.99

Veterinarian Rand Sheppard knows he owes his cousin Tommy loyalty, but he also owes his customers the best care. He never thought his two worlds come into conflict, but they have. He needs a vet technician but the only applicant is Jessie Monroe. Her dating Tommy ended up with him in jail. Her only regret was stepping out with Tommy. Though he hires her, he considers her a Jezebel while she calls him Dr. Doolittle. As they work closely together, they fall in love, which makes Rand wonder how this could happen as he hates her and leaves Jessie to ponder how fickle she must be as she does not trust him or for that matter anyone in town. However, Tommy remains between them. Contemporary readers will enjoy this interesting romance between two people in love with no chance at a permanent relationship because of his cousin. Though Tommy is a realistic protagonist, his behavior makes it perhaps a bit too easy for the lead couple to find common ground. However, few will care as the audience will want to know how the vet and his technician find a way to make their love work.

Bad Influence
Kristin Hardy
Harlequin Blaze
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373792999 $4.75

Being an ambassador's daughter Interior designer Paige Favreau knows she must behave with decorum never causing any scandals. That is fine by her as her nature is to never take risks doing anything remotely out of control. Guitar playing Zach Reed knows his career as a musician is sliding down the slope of fame and acclaim. Though his vocation in terms of making money looks over, he is a risk-taker who lives for the next gig. When they meet both they are attracted to one another but neither plans to make any moves as the other is obviously too much the opposite to forge anything meaningful. However when Paige's grandfather and Zach's grandmother are incapacitated due to a car accident, they become the children's caretaker while the grandparents recover. This twist of fate makes Zach and Paige temporary neighbors encouraged by their geriatric patients helping love takes it course. The grandparents add cooling humor (Granny wants to open a burlesque theatre for instance) to a wonderfully torrid romance in which sparks ignite from the moment the lead couple lay eyes on each other. Paige and Zach are a wonderful pairing who believes that opposites might attract but the magnetism does not hold while their respective grandparent proves to be a BAD INFLUENCE on how to behave. Hot and zany, this is a hardy contemporary.

It's a Wonderfully Sexy Life
Hope Tarr
Harlequin Blaze
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373792972 $4.75

In Baltimore, thirty years old cop Mandy Delinski walks a beat though she aspires to become a detective. She dreams of a loving husband and children though she is single with no prospects and still lives with her parents. Her latest assignment is to work security at a Christmas Eve gala at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Working the holiday is okay as she has no one to share it with anyway, but pulling security is not much fun. However, when Mandy and bartender Josh Thornton meet at the bash, sparks fly. This perfect night turns to a nightmare by morning when she finds Josh dead in the morgue as he is actually a computer guru hiding from the mob. Perhaps because it is the season for miracles, she is sent back one week with a chance to save the man she loves from the hit man. This is a second chance at love with an angelic time traveling twist that makes for a superb thriller regardless of the season. The story line is driven by a frantic Mandy as she falls in love only to find him dead in under twenty-four hours leading to the miracle if she changes "history". Fans will re-read the delightful IT'S A WONDERFULLY SEXY LIFE that pay homage to the classic Capra film and celebrates the Yuletide season of miracles.

Love You to Death
Melissa Senate
Red Dress (Mira)
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0373895461 $13.95

As her Foote half-sister Opal points out, being an expert on men since she is engaged, Maine Life columnist Abby always picks losers. One of them, Ted Puck and Mary-Kate Darling have made the wedding announcement section of the paper; Abbey knows the pair as "cheating jerk" and "cheating slut" catching them in her bed making love on her birthday. Her siblings and "Abby Too" wish hell for Puck. The next day Portland Police Department Detectives Benjamin Orr and Frank Fargo question Abby as someone has poisoned Ted. Her family, friends and Maine Life peers assume Abby killed the cheating jerk and is capable of murdering others. Though she knows Ben from when she had a crush on him in high school, Abby fears she will be railroaded so she begins her own inquiries that lead to her tripping over Big Ben as she begins to agree Opal is right that you know everything that matters about a man fifteen minutes into the first date.. Readers will know everything they need to know about charming neurotic Abby Foote in the first fifteen pages while appreciating her escapades as she tries to prove her innocence. This amusing amateur tale displays a wild support cast who suddenly fears this mild mannered reporter has become a lethal poison Ivy with each of them pondering if they did anything to Abby that will make them the next target. The game's a Foote with Abby on the case, as the audience obtains a delightful romantic mystery.

The Collector
Cameron Cruise
Mira Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0778324087 $6.99

In the "Little Saigon" section of Westminster, California, homicide detectives Stephen "Seven" Bushard and Erika Cabral investigate the murder of popular fortuneteller Mimi. They see blood symbols on a wall, but not enough by the corpse. The evidence is overwhelming that the victim knew her killer and that in some way a ritual was performed because besides the wall writing, a bird's head was placed inside Mimi's mouth with a gem inside the beak. Psychic Gia Moon comes to the station claiming she had a vision of the homicide and provides information that only those on the case and the killer would know. Whereas Erika thinks Gia is the murderer flaunting her kill, Seven feels otherwise though he admits his partner's logic is sounder than his gut. As they interview Mimi's clients including wealthy antiques collector David Gospel, the case takes spins that make no sense to the two detectives and everyone else associated with it except Gia, who knows the culprit is coming for her next. THE COLLECTOR is a fantastic twisting police procedural with hints of the paranormal that include red herrings as readers will wonder if David is right that his weird offspring stole a gem from his Eye of Athena map and killed his arcane source Mimi. The multitude of characters seems real as they enhance the investigation into the murder and the jewel while also bringing to life the culture of the expatriate Vietnamese population. Cameron Cruse writes a complex murder mystery that will keep readers attention throughout.

The Project
Jan Coffey
Mira (Harlequin)
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0778324060 $6.99

A recent rash of mass killings at schools fails to fit the previous profile. Instead of bullied loners living in small towns, the murderers are intelligent, do well in school, are popular and participate in activities. The latest one is in Westfield, Connecticut where fifteen year old honor student Juan Bradley fired shots at a teacher and students, but miraculously no one died though seven injuries occurred. What makes this case unique is Juan is the first of the six shooters in the last month to survive; though he lies in a coma. The FBI brings in Secret Service Agents Bryan Atwood and forensics psychologist Hank Gardner who worked together on the Secret Service Safe School Initiative project ten years ago. They are considered the experts though neither wants to return to this world. They head to Connecticut to learn why a good happy kid began shooting. There they meet Juan's adoptive parent Dr. Lexi Bradley, who insists her son is in danger from an unknown assailant. As they work the case, the two agents begin to agree with the beleaguered mother as evidence mounts that not only is Juan in danger so are they and that the teen is not responsible for the mass shooting; but whoever is has powerful connections. THE PROJECT takes off at lightning speed and never slows down as Lexi and Bryan begin to uncover a horrific truth that makes the belief that Juan went over the edge seem minor in comparison. The story line is filled with action yet the key cast members seem genuine especially the lead duo. Most frightening is the scenario that they uncover seems plausible in today's secretive America. Though the romance between Lexi and Bryan appears a forced unnecessary subplot, readers will hold onto their seats as they learn just what THE PROJECT is.

Icing on the Cake
Laura Castoro
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0778324133 $13.95

Tired of advertising and even more so of her spouse Ted, Liz Talbot returns to her Jersey Girl roots when her grandparents move to Phoenix leaving her the Bagel Emporium in Upper Montclair; as always supportive Ted ditched his now physically laboring spouse for Brandi, a younger yuppie model. Meanwhile after five years of baking with carbs in spite of the bakery's public enemy number one Atkins and other diet fads, her enterprise is in financial trouble. Ted proves much more supportive in death than in life as Mr. Ad Agency accidentally dies, but never changed his will from Talbot wife one to Talbot wife two. Thus Liz owns a failing ad agency to go along with her failing bakery while the outraged widow two files lawsuits faster than bagels can be made with the substance of the middle of a bagel. Thus she owns two businesses going under while also caring as the sandwich generation for her twin daughters and her mom. Liz obtains a respite when she meets an attractive hunk at a wedding, but soon marks him as off limits after she slept with him since he is food consultant Marcus James, who could make or break her beloved bakery and might assume her guilty of using him. Poking jabs at America's diet flavor of the month, ICING ON THE CAKE is a delightful middle age chick lit romance starring a wonderful bread maker whose first person perspective is amusing yet poignant as she observes the chaos that revolves around her threatening to engulf her like a black hole. Liz makes the tale as she struggles with her two businesses, her relatives, her late ex husband's widow, and her heart with the ICING ON THE CAKE being the cat fight.

Heart of Honor
Kat Martin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0778323838 $7.99

In 1842 Heart to Heart Weekly Ladies Gazette publisher Krista Hart attends the Circus Leopold traveling show. She and her friend reporter Coralee visit the star attraction billed as "The Last Barbarian". Krista feels sorry for the tall male locked inside a too small cage for his size until he speaks in his tongue to Alfinn the monkey that she is a "real woman". The extremely tall Krista speaks back to him in his language Old Norse, a language not used in at least three centuries, that he is in deed a barbarian to say such things about a woman. He begs for her forgiveness; she obtains his release and takes him with her. Son of a Viking chieftain, Leif Draugr left his home Draugr Island to explore the world beyond the horizon. He believes his Gods gave him the wanderlust in order to meet his true love, Krista.. As her father "civilianizes" him to behave like a proper gentleman in polite society and her grandfather selects shrimps for her to marry, he and Krista fall in love. However, he must return to his people because he is the next chieftain while she believes she belongs right here. This is a fun whimsical early Victorian romance starring two individuals who do not quite fit in polite society. Leif believes the Fates left him shipwrecked six months ago and captured by a traveling circus so that he can meet his destiny, Krista. She loves her barbarian but feels she belongs with the magazine not his island though she likes the fact that he looks somewhat down at her eyes instead of her normal peering down at males. Though having Krista and her father speak his extinct language seems a stretch, readers will appreciate the Lady and the Barbarian as they fall in love.

Silent in the Grave
Deanna Raybourn
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0778324109 $21.95

In 1886 London, Lord Edward Grey dies suddenly while hosting a party at his home from the chronic heart disease that has killed several members of his family. He leaves behind a grieving but wealthy widow Julia. While she still mourns her loss, private inquiry Nicholas Brisbane insists that Edward hired him to investigate who was sending him threatening letters. He further insists he believes her late spouse was murdered though the killing was disguised to look like his heart gave out. When he proves his theory, Julia reluctantly asks him to continue his inquiries, but to his dissatisfaction with her help. As they dig into Edward's last days, they uncover a secret sexual life her deceased husband led as a killer calmly waits for Julia to figure out the truth, This terrific Victorian whodunit starts off displaying the polite manners of the Ton during a period of mourning, but quickly turns into an exciting historical mystery once Nicholas proves to Lady Julia that her late husband was murdered by a clever diabolical adversary. Stunned and needing justice and revenge, the intrepid Lady Julia teams up with the inquiry agent by making inquiries among the servants uncovering along side of Nicholas the fact that her spouse had some secret sexual appetites. Though the era serves as the base for many mystery tales, Deanna Raybourn provides one of the deeper because fans will believe they are accompanying the amateur and professional sleuths around late nineteenth century London.

Karen Harper
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0778324044 $6.99

In Vermillion, Montana, widow bush pilot Lauren Taylor raises her two sons by herself since her firefighting spouse Ross died trying to put out a wildfire blaze two years ago. Though not easy, she has adjusted to being a single mom. However, she becomes very concerned when she flies in Rocky Marston, who upon landing seems to have vanished. She becomes concerned later when she sees a picture of the notorious Boy Next Door Arsonist killer who is the media's "darling" as the BND and on the FBI most wanted list with four dead due to his infernos. She thinks her charter Rocky is BND so Lauren uses the federal hotline to report her belief. FBI arson investigator Brad Hale comes to Vermillion to investigate because the agency takes any tip on the whereabouts of this arrogant serial arsonist-killer seriously. As the evidence mounts that Evan is the culprit and planning something nasty and big, Lauren and Brad team up to prevent another tragedy caused by this ruthless murderer while their attraction to one another remains simmering as stopping Evan remains the top objective. What makes INFERNO a fascinating police procedural romantic suspense in spite of the overused serial killing arsonist villain is the isosceles "triangle" that forms between Lauren, Brad, and BND. Whereas Lauren and Brad are dedicated individuals who fall in love, BND is a lunatic who is obsessed with deadly infernos. Though everyone knows Evan is BND and that he is insane, he remains sly and elusive as he continues to evade his adversaries while torching anything and anyone who tries to douse his fire. Karen Harper provides a tense action-packed thriller.

Body Count
P.D. Martin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0778324117 $24.95

Two murders with the same MO in Washington DC leads the FBI to believe a serial killer is emerging. Agent Sam Wright leads the investigation as the third victim is found. However this time the crime scene contains a personalized clue from the culprit, who mockingly challenges Sam to do her best; apparently the perp knows a lot about Sam, but leaves behind nothing further to help her uncover the identity of the murderer. Australian Sophie Anderson came to the States to join the FBI Behavioral Science Unit as a profiler. She quickly proves to be one of the best, but hides the real reason she is so good at describing perps; Sophie has psychic skills that come in the form of disconcerting often ugly nightmares. She is assisting her best friend Samantha on the case. However, Sophie begins to withdraw as her night visions turn even uglier when she assumes the role of the victims as they are being killed, but even worse, at times she becomes the acerbic killer feeling the euphoria and ugliness from inside him. When Sam is abducted, Sophie knows she must use her talent to avoid what happened to her brother when she was a child; her only help comes from Agent Josh Marco, who she finds attractive. This is a superb police procedural thriller with a paranormal twist to provide freshness to the overly used taunting serial killer cat and mouse contest. The story line is filled with action and tension and contains a psychological spin atypical of the sub-genre; as this slant focuses on Sophie's struggle not to go over the deep end due to the assaults on her senses. Though more use of the paranormal skill (in your face hint for future Sophie suspense sagas) would have been welcome, P.D. Martin provides an excellent thriller that has the audience on the edge of their seats with what happens next.

Ride a Painted Pony
Kathleen Eagle
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
0778323595 $24.95

During a terrible storm, Nick Red Shield finds the battered female on the side of the road. He gives her a lift offering to take Joey, as she calls herself to a hospital. She says no so unsure what to do except he knows that he cannot abandon her; he takes her to his South Dakota ranch. However, Nick will learn the cost of being a Good Samaritan. Joey is Lauren Davis, who is on the lam from dangerous mob connected Raymond Vargas, who has arranged for her to be killed. He also has kidnapped her son Joey. When she realizes that his home is a ranch with a champion horse racer, she thinks her luck may have changed. Nick needs a jockey and Lauren is quite the rider. Besides which, she hopes the horse will serve as a lure that will enable her to get Joey back from her dangerous former husband; the only flaw in her logic is that she is falling in love with her kind host. This is an action-packed romantic suspense thriller in which the audience anticipates a High Noon showdown and will not be disappointed when it occurs. The story line is driven by Lauren who fears Vargas and what he will do to her, but is more frightened of what he might do to Joey as he is a deadly monster. Though Vargas is somewhat over the top, readers will root for Nick and Lauren to defeat this seemingly invincible psychopathic adversary who defines the rules of their deadly cat and mouse game.

David Morrell
CDS Books
1593153570 $7.99

Former Army Ranger Frank Balenger pretends to be a reporter as he joins the "Creepers," a group of urban explorers who enter abandoned edifices as if they are newly discovered caves. Though breaking and entering even forsaken property is against the law, the participants go out of their way to avoid any damage and to especially not steal anything. All they take are pictures. Balenger joins a quartet, Professor Robert Conklin, high school teacher Vincent Vanelli and graduate students Rick and Cora Magill. The five members enter the forsaken creepy Paragon Hotel in Asbury Park, New Jersey. They anticipated plenty of decay as the turn of the century structure has not been maintained in years, but did not expect to run into dangerous avarice looters and someone even more deadly. CREEPERS is a fascinating urban thriller that readers will enjoy searching along side the explorers inside this abandoned "tomb" ; something that many New York City teens have done over the years for instance with abandoned subway stations. The story line is action-packed and a bit over the top with some of the incidents caused by the nasties looting the Paragon Hotel. Balenger is a terrific lead character and his teammates easy to distinguish their personalities as their trek inside the paragon Hotel turns dangerous.

Friedrich Glauser
Bitter Lemon Books
1904738141 $14.95

Euphoric to learn he is a grandfather, Police Sergeant Jacob Studer knows anyone can see the obvious connection between the deaths of the two elderly women in different Swiss cities though the local cops assume it is an accident anyway. Both died from gas leaks in their respective homes in Bern and Basel, but the prime link is each of them had been married to the same man. Though only a visitor, Studer accompanies his friend Police Commissaire Madelin to Basel where he helps in the investigation in which clues and suspects vanish rather easily as if someone with power is manipulating the inquiry. Studer focuses on Father Matthias, brother of the victims' late husband, as his prime suspect, but also does not rule out other family members whose motive might be some passion filled vengeance, but who remains just out of reach. This is an English translation of a classic 1936 police procedural first printed in Germany. The cast makes the tale as they are eccentric in many ways driving the free drinking some might say alcoholic Studer to distraction. However, unable to let go, the obsessed cop follows clues that seem to vanish in a nano second to wherever it takes him including North Africa. Readers of off beat convoluted illogical whodunits will want to read the fascinating Studer cases (see IN MATTO'S REALM) in which the protagonist makes for an interesting different type of mystery.

Scar Night
Alan Campbell
Bantam Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0553384163 $22.00 1-800-726-0600

Chains hold the city of Deepgate precariously above a bottomless abyss. The founders did so to worship the God of Chains Ulcis and as a means to keep the raiding barbarians from the city's gates. The Archon, fallen angels defending Deepgate, and others pray to Ulcis to lead their army in an assault to force open the gates of heaven shut since Ayen exiled the other gods and tossed out the angels. Yet Ulcis remains unmoved residing at the bottom of the bottomless abyss where the dead from Deepgate are tossed to feed him with their life-force. The city uses poisons fired from their airships to also keep the barbarians away. However, the greatest Poisoner Devon is dying from the elixirs he invented. Angry at his fate, he currently works on angelwine, a blood and soul concoction that if successful will grant him immortality. The Church leader Presbyter Sypes encourages Devon to continue his effort though that means also condoning murder as the scientist needs the recently deceased to extract the ingredients to make angelwine. Sypes's motive is honorable as he wants to end the carnage caused by serial killing former angel Carnival, who claims a soul every scar night, but may learn the road to Ulcis is filled with good intentions. Others are interested in Devon's research for personal motives making success dangerous and failure deadly. More a set up for later novels, SCAR NIGHT is a terrific opening act that paints a vivid picture of the dynamics of Deepgate. The story line is filled with action though not all comes together (future tales apparently) while the cast is fascinating and solid as fans learn whose who is who. Especially interesting is Devon, bitter, angry, and frustrated as he has saved his city at the cost of his life unless his fountain of youth experiment proves fruitful. Fantasy fans will enjoy Alan Campbell's fine first tale that creates an intriguing unique realm.

Lisa Gardner
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0553804324 $25.00 1-800-726-0600

As part of a "family system" Boston Detective D.D. Warren spent her childhood packing two bags as she and her parents fled city after city with new identifications until she was fourteen when her mom died and twenty-two when the taxi killed her father. Figuring she had nothing else to fear as she never knew what or who the Bad Thing is, she became a Boston police officer and now a detective. Everything seems right for her as the past has been incinerated with her parents until the Boston Herald front-page declares she is dead. In the middle of the night from the former mental hospital at Mattapan, she calls her ex lover Massachusetts State Homicide Detective Bobby Dodge to come quickly and quietly as things are about to turn ugly. Six naked mummified female bodies in see through garbage bags have been found "buried" in an underground chamber. One of them had a silver locket with the words Annabelle M. Granger, a name D.D. used when her dad was an MIT professor. The past thought dead has come back to haunt the Police Sergeant even as a woman comes to the BPD with proof that she is the real Annabelle Granger. The return of Bobby Dodge (see ALONE) in this superb thriller grips readers from the opening sequence as a young girl learns systems means sometimes fleeing and never slows down until the final exciting twist of an ending. The story line is fast-paced as Bobby once again wonders about the dark secrets of females that he does not understand and how attracted he is to the latest Annabelle, who resembles the great manipulator Catherine Gagnon (once again see ALONE). Set aside time as this 384 page thriller will keep fans reading to learn what is the system that ties everyone together.

Veil of Roses
Laura Fitzgerald
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0553383884 $12.00 1-800-726-0600

In the Republic of Iran, twenty-seven years old schoolteacher Tamila Soroush is despondent over her restrictive life so when her parents send her to live with her married older sister Maryam and her spouse orthopedic surgeon Ardishir in Arizona for three months (the length of her visa), she is ecstatic. She knows her family expects her to meet and marry an Iranian expatriate, which she initially agrees to find. However, in Tucson Tami finds the choices a female can make in America incredible. For instance on her way to a class in English as a second language, unescorted she stops at a local Starbucks for a coffee; her mother would have cardiac arrest. There she meets Ike, who wants to date her, but though she enjoys his attention, she knows her family would reject a non Persian and so she cannot indulge with him if she is to meet her goal, staying in America to photograph freedom. She meets the more acceptable Haroun, but his anal behavior drives Tami up a wall. Tami makes friends with foreign students in school but soon her time runs out so she has to make up her mind to choose the purebred her family wants, the American she desires, or Tehran. This is a deep character study that enables the audience to see the marvels of freedom through the eyes of a young woman tasting choices that Americans take for granted. Tami's asides are fabulous and insightful as she is awed by the miracle of stopping for a coffee with no chaperone. Her friendships with her student peers add to the wonderment that makes her glow. In many ways she overwhelms her plot as readers will root for the best to happen to this charming Iranian expatriate.

Tony Ballantyne
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0553589296 $6.99 1-800-726-0600

In the twenty-third century Helen is a personality construct, a human mind working on a computer existing in the digital virtual reality realm. There are many Helen personality constructs and the person responsible for that is Kevin who illegally and willfully copied her so that she would be "entertainment" for men who enjoy performing violent acts on women. Judy rescues Helen helping her escape her tormentor by hiding in a stealth place to guard against Kevin recapturing her. He keeps killing himself yet coming back. On Gateway, Justinian and his son to try to learn why the AIs are committing suicide. They are maneuvered, manipulated and watched by enemies and allies who all seek the secondary source of the AI infection. A person returning from Gateway possesses the seeds of destruction of the entire universe with Judy needing to stop him. Like REPERCUSSION, CAPACITY occurs in a dark and bleak future galaxy in which AIs contol human destiny. Tony Ballantyne paints an austere portrait of life in which the Watcher, the first AI, controls everyone especially the AIs; he is so god-like many believe he does not exist beyond being an urban legend. Due to the hyper speed of the plot, characters are never fully developed but readers of science fiction thrillers will still leap on for quite a ride.

The Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud
Julia Navarro
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0385339623 $23.00 1-800-726-0600

The latest blaze in a series of suspicious fires at the Turin Cathedral over several decades concerns the chief of the Italian Art Crimes Department, Marco Valoni because he knows a great prize resides inside the church, the Shroud. The arsonists have always been found with their tongues removed; including the latest tongue-less suspect. Valoni begins to see a conspiracy of sorts, but not by whom. Valoni decides enough is enough as he fears there is more than just isolated arson behind the fires. He assigns his top talent to seek clues and begins to investigate scientists who have studied the Shroud over the years. His top art expert Sofia Galloni persuades Valoni to free the current jailed tongue-less suspect so they can trail him expecting he will return to his co-conspirators. Valoni learns that back in ancient times, King Abgar of Edessa sends his childhood friend Josar to Jerusalem to persuade Jesus of Nazarus to come to his kingdom to heal him of leprosy. Josar remains in Jerusalem as a disciple of Jesus. Years later he returns to Edessa with the Shroud, but his friend's heir demands he hand over the Shroud to him. Instead Josar cuts out his tongue so he cannot reveal where he hid the Shroud. Centuries later the Templars possessed the Shroud during the Middle Ages, but Valoni wonders whether some modern day descendents want it back. This is a terrific Italian police procedural that uses the Shroud of Turin as the motive for arson and attempted thefts. The story line is action-packed with fabulous subplots especially the biblical era tale. The cast is solid whether they are in ancient times or the present. Not just for the Brown crowd, THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE HOLY SHROUD is a delightful rendition using a modern day criminal investigation as the means to provide a deep thriller.

Innocent In Death
J.D. Robb
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".

Field of Fire
James O. Born
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
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0399159041 $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.

The Echelon Vendetta
David Stone
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0399154086 $25.95 1-800-847-5515

In the parlance of the CIA, Micah Dalton is a "cleaner" the person sent in when it is time to fix whatever goes wrong in the field. He is sent to the roman chapel of San Nicolo in Cartona Tuscany to examine the body of field agent Porter Naumann. The police think he mutilated his body before he killed himself but Micah has doubts. A man going by the name of Rainwater drugs him causing him to have hallucinations that clear up in a few days. He is sent by his superiors to Porter's London home where his wife and two daughters are found murdered and mutilated. Several agents who were part of the Echleon project in the Rainwater group are being killed by the same man who killed Porter and his family in the same gruesome manner leaving behind a picture that point to an Indian as the murderer. As Micah follows the clues, he doesn't know he is being used for an evil purpose or who the people running him are. Remember the name David Stone because in the future everyone will know him as a top thriller writer. The protagonist is trying to find the killer, shake off the effects of the poison and obtain justice for his friend who often appears to him in his ghostly form. Readers will wonder if he is hallucinating or not. THE ECHELON VENDETTA takes the reader into the shadowy areas of a CIA operation that is a normal activity for the agency.

Mistress of the Art of Death
Ariana Franklin
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0399154140 $25.95 1-800-847-5515

In 1171 England, the Jews were given a haven under King Henry's rule, not because he liked them but they paid one seventh of the monies in the royal treasury. In the town of Cambridge, four children have disappeared and the body of only one has been found. A rumor begins that Jews killed the child. In retaliation a mob went on a killing spree, bodily tearing apart two Jews while the survivors take sanctuary in Cambridge Castle. In Sicily the king at the request of Henry II sends three people (Simon a Jew, Mansur a Muslim and the doctor of the dead Adelia Agutar) to England to find the killer. When they arrive the dead bodies of the three children are waiting for their analysis. Adelia knows that all the victims were killed by the same murderer. Adelia who misses her native Salerno finds a place for herself in England and during the course of her investigation she teams up with tax collector Sir Rowley to find the murderer but not before he kills someone dear to her who was closing in on him. Cross the forensic science of a Kay Scarpetta novel with the historical background of Judith Tarr book and the reader will have some idea of what the MISTRESS OF THE ART OF DEATH is all about. Adelia is a great character, a female pioneer allowed to practice in the one country advanced enough to grant females that privilege. She is a plain speaker who seeks justice for the dead and has no tolerance for prejudice of any kind. She has more freedom than the average female in the Middle Ages and she knows how to use it to do what she wants. Readers will admire her and look forward to the next mystery starring this intrepid heroine.

White Lies
Jayne Ann Krentz
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
039915373X $24.95 1-800-847-5515

The Arcane Society founded in Victorian times to promote research in parapsychology, identify psychics and use their talents for the benefits in society is in trouble today. Fallon Jones knows that a cabal is being formed to take over the Arcane Society and get the formula that enhances a person's psychic powers. One place the cabal is involved in is the company founded by Archer Glazebrook, a member of the society as are all the members of his family. Jake Salter an operative sent in to identify the cabal members is working undercover as a business consultant for Archer. Clare Lancaster, the daughter Archer never knew he had, is summoned to her father's home and is offered a job heading up a philanthropic foundation. When she and Jake meet they know that each is a powerful psychic with intense training training. She is sensitive and a human lie detector and he is a hunter. Eight months ago Clare rescued her sister Elizabeth from her husband's murderous clutches and six months ago she was the one who found his murdered body. Now attempts are made on her life and she finds the body of Elizabeth's mother in law. They think the four murders and other incidents are linked to the cabal. Now all they have to do is prove it and find the mastermind behind the killings. Not many people can resist a Jayne Ann Krentz romantic suspense. Readers who read her historicals written under the name Amanda Quick will be delighted to realize that the descendents of the characters in SECOND SIGHT are featured in WHITE LIES; a tale filled with plenty of action, quirky psychically gifted characters and a powerful romantic sub-plot. Fans will look forward to more novels featuring the Arcane Society as they battle with the cabal.

The Echelon Vendetta
David Stone
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0399154086 $25.95 1-800-847-5515

In the parlance of the CIA, Micah Dalton is a "cleaner" the person sent in when it is time to fix whatever goes wrong in the field. He is sent to the roman chapel of San Nicolo in Cartona Tuscany to examine the body of field agent Porter Naumann. The police think he mutilated his body before he killed himself but Micah has doubts. A man going by the name of Rainwater drugs him causing him to have hallucinations that clear up in a few days. He is sent by his superiors to Porter's London home where his wife and two daughters are found murdered and mutilated. Several agents who were part of the Echleon project in the Rainwater group are being killed by the same man who killed Porter and his family in the same gruesome manner leaving behind a picture that point to an Indian as the murderer. As Micah follows the clues, he doesn't know he is being used for an evil purpose or who the people running him are. Remember the name David Stone because in the future everyone will know him as a top thriller writer. The protagonist is trying to find the killer, shake off the effects of the poison and obtain justice for his friend who often appears to him in his ghostly form. Readers will wonder if he is hallucinating or not. THE ECHELON VENDETTA takes the reader into the shadowy areas of a CIA operation that is a normal activity for the agency.

The Birthday Party
Stanley N. Alpert
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0399154027 $24.95 1-800-847-5515

On January 21, 1998 near his Manhattan apartment, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stanley Alpert is abducted by three kidnappers, Ren, Sen, and in charge Lucky. He was selected not because of his work, which mostly involved environmental law, but because he had the look of money. This is Mr. Alpert's story of how he survived his ordeal when most kidnappings end tragically. The book is divided into two sections, "Mouse" in which he is a victim trying to survive and "Cat" in which he is free and with friends and law enforcement go after the trio based on what he learned during his captivity. Readers will fully appreciate this stunning account especially the Mouse segment in which Mr. Alpert provides a survival manual on how he came out of this alive to celebrate his thirty ninth birthday (his thirty-eighth was the day after he was snatched off the street), as he admits the most important ingredient besides trying to remain calm is luck. The Cat portion is also well written, but reads more like a standard law enforcement manual so it does not contain the uniqueness of the abduction segue. This is an excellent true crime thriller as related by victim and supporting legal documents.

John's Story
Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0399153896 $24.95 1-800-847-5515

In Ephesus in 94 AD, John, the last living disciple of Jesus, still spreads the word of Christ's message to all who will listen. He hopes many will believe so they can attain salvation when it is their due time. He rejects the Gnostic Church and its leader Cerinthus because they refuse to acknowledge the divinity of Christ even as they also accept that salvation can be found on earth by doing good deeds. John becomes so incensed with Cerinthus' preaching that he is pressed by God to write a gospel describing his time with Jesus. Using John's anecdotes about Jesus including turning water into wine and raising Lazarus from the dead after, he writes a compelling portrait that angers Rome. When John fails to repent, he is sentenced to die in boiling oil. The oil does not touch him so he is exiled to the mines of Patmos where Christ visits him and gives his loyal believer a glimpse of the future that soon becomes the Book of Revelation. When he finally is able to return home, he tells the world what he saw as the end of days, cherishing his beloved teacher to those who would listen. Readers get a glimpse of John's early years and how he never doubted that the Christ was the son of God sent to the earth to sacrifice himself, so humanity can be saved. The former is fascinating, but the latter is what makes this biblical biographical fiction inspiring as the authors portrays John's feelings, his desire to win converts peacefully, and the risks he willingly takes in hostile Rome. Book One of the Jesus Chronicles is deep with a strong message of belief and loyalty that readers of all faiths will appreciate.

The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers
Lilian Jackson Braun
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
039915390X $23.95 1-800-847-5515

In Pickax in Moose County 40o miles from everywhere, newspaper columnist Jim Qwilleran is excited about all the changes that are coming to his adopted hometown. A new senior citizen center is being created. The new theater is putting on a production of Cats and the deceased Nathan Ledfield's mansion is being converted to a county museum. In fact Ledfield placed in his will that his collectibles should be sold and the proceeds used for child welfare. Of course with growth and change comes crime. The Old Hulk the building which was being renovated for the senior center was torched as was a unique building that was well known in Moose County and the surrounding area. A woman who worked at the museum died when bitten by a bee because she wasn't carrying her emergency medical kit. At the time of the woman's death, Qwill's Siamese cat Koko gave his death cry which means someone was murdered. Qwill wishes Polly was home so he can discuss what is happening with her, but alas, she is vacationing in France. Lillian Jackson Braun refreshes her long running mystery series with two shockers that will change Qwill's life forever. Readers will love this fun cozy with the quirky residents of Pickax and the goings on in the town. As always Koko and his female counterpart Yum Yum steal the show with their antics and readers get a better understanding of what makes Qwill tick (even after twenty-eight previous Cat Who books). The audience will want to see how Qwill copes with these changes in future books.

Travels in the Scriptorium
Paul Auster
Henry Holt
175 - 5th Avenue, Suite 400, New York, NY 10010-7725
0805081453 $22.00 1-888-330-8477

The old man awakens feeling disoriented as he has no idea who he is, where he is, how he got there wherever that is, why he is imprisoned in this room, or for that matter anything else except that he is locked inside this room. He is unaware of the camera in the ceiling that takes constant pictures of him at a phenomenal rate of one per second. Seeking any clue to his identity, he sits by the desk studying photos that mean nothing to him and reads a manuscript that he fails to relate to either. The outside "watcher" dubs him "Mr. Blank" as the old man reads the odd account of Sigmund Graf of the Confederation assigned to find a rebel soldier Ernesto Land. Throughout the day as he struggles with his memory, visitors arrive confusing him further as he vaguely recognizes the policeman, the doctor, and the attendants who subtly accuse him of horrific crimes against humanity. However, it is his lawyer who lets Mr. Blank know how much trouble he in. The man is accused of conspiracy, fraud, negligent homicide, defamation of character, and first-degree murder, but except for flashpoints he recalls nothing and once they leave he reverts back to Mr. Blank. This is a strange tale mindful of the 1960s TV show the Prisoner, as Mr. Blank, sitting in the austere room (and readers) wonders what is going on and when will it end; not how will it terminate. The existential story line is not for everyone as the action is limited to the manuscript and even that in many ways is passive. Instead the plot focuses on what is existence when the essential soul of experience is deleted either from one of his tormentors (the watcher-narrator) or from within his own mind as a psychological device to cope with horrific crimes.

Richard North Patterson
Henry Holt
175 - 5th Avenue, Suite 400, New York, NY 10010-7725
0805079475 $26.00 1-888-330-8477

With a shot at his making Congress, San Francisco attorney David Wolfe should say no; all his advisors and his fiancee Carole Shorr tell him that taking the case is political suicide. Still David cannot refuse his former lover, Palestinian Hana Arif, when she asks him to defend her against conspiracy charges that she was a key player in the assassination of peace seeking Israeli Prime Minister Amos Ben-Aron. David thinks back to when they attended Harvard Law School together thirteen years ago; he the American-Jew and her the Palestinian shared a torrid love affair though she was engaged to Palestinian activist Saeb Khalid. Suicide bomber Ibrahim Jefar has given testimony that incriminates Hana in the bombing making the case that much more difficult to gain an acquittal andthe media already has hung her. Still David diligently works on Hana's defense in spite of his participation threatening his engagement especially since her father is a firm Zionist having survived the Holocaust and destroying his Congressional aspirations. The cast is solid as just about every potential position on the Israeli-Palestine conflict seems reasonably represented by full blooded intelligent individuals even without events like the recent Gaza and Hezbollah wars mentioned. The trial is terrific as the audience further obtains varying viewpoints. However, when David races to the Middle East to prove a different conspiracy theory than that of the prosecution, the story line loses some of its lucidity and strength as it turns into a cartoonish thriller. Still this is a strong tale that focuses justly on one of the most complex crisis still boiling as if it is 1948 instead of the twenty first century.

By the Time You Read This
Giles Blount
Henry Holt & Company
175 - 5th Avenue, Suite 400, New York, NY 10010-7725
0805080619 $19.95 1-888-330-8477

In Algonquin Bay, Canada after decades of battling depression Catherine Cardinal jumps from the roof of an apartment building. Her spouse local Homicide Detective John has feared this news for years, but is still devastated by her death. Not shocked that the short inquiry determines suicide not only because of the leaper's mental state, but also because there is no hint at foul play anywhere near the crime scene or in a quick look at Catherine's life as her psychiatrist Dr. Frederick Bell affirms his patient thought of killing herself. However, John is the only one with doubts as even his partner Lise Delorme thinks he is just trying to find shadows that are not there. Lise would like to be there for John, but is working a particularly ugly investigation into a pedophile photographing five years of preadolescent abuse. John begins an investigation into his wife's death on his own time without any official sanction. His superior Police Chief R.J. Kendall is irate and warns him to back off before assigning him to assist Lise. However, John has found some frightening numbers as the apparent suicide rate in Algonquin Bay has recently turned stratospheric though even he wonders if his grief is making him see a serial killer where there is none. Lise's police procedural and John's unofficial investigations make this an excellent whodunit. However, what makes Giles Blount novel one of the best tales of the year is the reactions of John to the apparent suicide of his wife as he goes through the stages of grief with an emphasis on denial in spite of the overwhelming evidence. BY THE TIME YOU READ THIS, fans will agree that Mr. Blount has provided a terrific personalized Canadian mystery that deserves award nominations.

The Elysium Commission
L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765317206 $24.95 1-888-330-8477

On the planet Devanta former military special operative turned private investigator Blaine Donne suddenly finds he has too many clients when before he had none. He is hired to find a missing heiress; look into a scientist's patent infringement case, uncover the links between entrepreneur Eloi, city planner Maraniss, and the "Elysium"; and finally conduct a background search of Dr. Dyorr, the fiance of wealthy Marie Antoinette Tozzi. As he starts on each Blaine assumes his cases have nothing in common. He soon reassesses his thoughts as the scientist who originally hired him is dead and the project he worked on appears to being used for some nefarious purpose by Eloi and Maraniss like perhaps a coup d'etat. He wonders about how the fiance fit, perhaps via a scientific connection, and why the woman who originally hired him to look into Elysium has no history at least on record. Soon the cases intertwine even further though Blaine begins to think after consulting with his sister and others that he is forcing connections as the Dr. Dyorr inquiry begins to look clean while the rest look like a cat and mouse encounter between the Civitas Sorores oligopoly and the Eloi and Maraniss squad with the sleuth being the cheese. THE ELYSIUM COMMISSION is a complex science fiction detective tale starring a fascinating individual struggling with his cases. The story line is action-packed as the audience for the most part follows the sleuth as people try to kill him or assist him with information (sort of mindful of Robb's Eve Dallas mid twenty-first century police procedurals). Readers will enjoy this puzzler as the four investigations seem separate, and then appear to tie together, only to have Blaine's theory unravel. L. E. Modesitt, Jr. provides a fun futuristic mystery.

Fugitive of Chaos
John C. Wright
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765314967 $25.95 1-888-330-8477

The ORPHANS OF CHAOS quintet of students ("Primus" Victor Triumph, "Secunda" Amelia Windrose, "Tertia" Vanity Fair, "Quartinus" Colin FirBold, and Quentin Nemo) were imprisoned in the isolated British boarding school. However, they banded together to learn just who they really are and succeeded for the moment on their quest. Still the Headmaster Reginald Boggin and his staff manage to recapture their only students and steal away their memories once again. However, this time the Staff allows Amelia, who can observe and influence the physical world in several dimensions, to know the truth so she can explain what is happening to the others under the watchful eyes and ears of Headmaster Boggin. Still these teens reject adult supervision as they plot to escape again using their powers. Vanity locates hidden passages in locations where none seemingly existed before her finding them. Quentin is a warlock with a familiar, Apsu a walking stick. Colin employs magic by mentally picturing what he wants to achieve and willing it to happen. Victor uses his mind to telekinetically control matter. Meanwhile Staffer Grendel Glum makes plans to have his way sexually with Amelia, either willingly on her part or rape. Book two of the Chaos trilogy is a terrific entry that late teens and adults will fully appreciate as the "battle" between the Staff and the students continues. As the one who sees all, Amelia tells the tale that grips readers from the start as everyone including the five superpowerful teenagers want to know why they were abduction and, forced to have harsh training more like an incarceration than a school (stay tuned to find out). FUGITIVES OF CHAOS delightfully merges a coming of age first loves with terrific references to classic mythology (my favorite- Beowulf included) as John C. Wright's epic continues to spellbind fantasy fans.

The Eagle
Jack Whyte
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312870078 $27.95 1-888-330-8477

Hearing tales that King Arthur of Camulod insists that laws should rule not personalities, wealth or power, young Gaul noble Clothar believes the High King is right with this novel concept. When he also learns of honorable deeds performed by those sworn to Arthur, Clothar decides to join the High King's court. Especially exciting the idealistic knight is the long term goal of a united England living in peace, prosperity, and preparedness especially from outside Saxon invasion. Clothar joins those loyal to King Arthur. Arthur's aspirations are difficult to achieve because provincial monarchs refuse to cede power to him without a struggle. Two particular kings Symmachus and Connlyn unite to oppose King Arthur. Meanwhile within Camulod, Clothar is attracted to Arthur's wife Queen Guinevere though he knows no honor if he ever acts upon his deep feelings for her. As Clothar still holds to the dream of a united peaceful kingdom, he is sent to his home to save Gaul from the invading Huns. Several years later he returns to Camulod in time for a final encounter with the forces led by the rebellious provincial monarchs. The ninth and final Camulod novel is an exciting finish to a strong epic saga. The tale is told by Clothar so much of the story line occurs away from Camulod so to a degree, newcomers can enjoy the last book; however, to better understand how the three heroes (Clothar, Arthur and Guinevere) got to where they are, previous tales are a must. Shockingly to this reader, after eight strong tales with many detours and sidebars, the final battle between the progressives and the status quo seems rushed. Still Jack Whyte's final installment will please Camulod fans as he completes his interpretation of the legend.

Twice in a Lifetime
Constance O'Day-Flannery
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765354047 $6.99 1-888-330-8477

As she nears fifty, widowed therapist Isabel Callaway still misses her late husband although seven lonely years have passed. Only her friends at the Metaphysical Misadventures in the Search for Enlightenment affectionately known as Yellow Brick Road Gang have made it palpable as they search for the metaphysical reason of being though change appears to be the constant. Her friends insist she attend the Regional Conference for Clinical Hypnotherapists so she agrees to lecture there, After her talk is over, an attendee Joshua comes up to thank her claiming she led an interesting discussion. Though he looks twenty years younger than her, she agrees to see him, which shocks her to her core as she not done anything remotely like this since her husband died. As they see one another, Isabel realizes that her Joshua is her imaginary friend from her childhood who helped her survive trauma back then. He assists her as she reaches out to her patients and becomes her lover, but as she regains her confidence Isabel fears he will leave her again. TWICE IN A LIFETIME is a complicated romantic fantasy worth the time to read, as Constance O'Day-Flannery provides a profound look at what is reality. The metaphysical discussions make for a complex story line that needs a few days to read and ponder. Though the Yellow Brick Road Gang add support to the heroine and much to the philosophical debate, they are difficult to keep apart from one another as they think therefore they are makes them interchange. Still Ms. O'Day-Flannery's work will receive plenty of kudos as one the most complex thought provoking fantasies of the year.

Off Armageddon Reef
David Weber
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765315009 $25.95 1-888-330-8477

They came in war in the second half of the twenty-fourth century and by the end of the second decade of the twenty-fifth century, the Gbaba Empire had eradicated almost all of humanity. To save mankind from extinction, Admiral Pei Kau-zhi begins Operation Ark in which he and several of the remaining survivors give up their lives as a diversion so a few people can escape in a relatively low tech vessel that would be difficult for the Gbaba to detect and destroy. Those chosen to live receive false memories, but two of the surviving leaders Chief Administrator Langhorne, and psychologist Bedard add additional servitude directions into the implant without permission. The lesser beings are to worship the Operation Ark's command staff as gods. By 2499, the colonists have made it to a safe haven planet Safeholden where they outlawed most technology and employed an orbital surveillance program that destroys anything that emits tech spoors. However, by the Year of the Gods 890, centuries after the Command staff deities died, a Personality-Integrated Cybernetic Avatar arises using the name of Nimue Alban, a human who died during the Operation Ark diversion. Her task is to undo the harm caused by the long dead Langhorne and Bedad, but society is male dominant. As he has done with Honor Harrington, David Weber creates a terrific universe that readers will believe exists as the few remaining humans create a male theocracy on Safeholden that seems so genuine medievalist. Nimue Alban is a terrific protagonist who understands a female will be ignored as women have no rights; she must decide whether to take her chances as a distaff rabble-rouser or switch gender by Merlin into a man. Fans of the author will appreciate his terrific opening tale that as always is epic in proportion, much more than the write up above.

Brass Man
Neal Ashe
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765317311 $14.95 1-888-330-8477

Schizoid when he controls his impulses; psychopathic as his norm, the maniacal Golem Mr. Crane is an insane killing cyborg machine brought back from the abyss by the deranged Skellor who combines the most amoral human artificial intelligence with the ancient alien Jain bio-technology. Earth Central fears that the Jain destroyed other races and probably itself with their WMD technology so they worry that the lethal Mr. Crane is reported back this time as a more powerful BRASS MAN. Thus top agent Ian Cormac is recalled from dragon hunting to lead an expedition of mostly throwaway AIs whose objectives are to destroy Skellor and eradicate the Jain technology. At about the same time on Cull, Anderson a half-breed Rondure Knight battles the Dragon at the same time Skellor seeks to ally with this Dragon who apparently can safely use Jain technology that is already inside him. As Mr. Crane, his puppeteer Skeller, Cormac, Anderson and Dragon head towards a supernova collision, some of Ian's AIs who reject the notion of being disposable pawns are considering joining the enemy. BRASS MAN, the sequel to the wild GRIDLINKED, is as feral and -violent as its predecessor as Neal Asher paints a forbidding dark distant future where violence is as civilized as apple pie in spite of great affluence. Through flashbacks and current events, the two prime rivals, Mr. Crane and Cormac, are fully developed as they head towards a high celestial noon collision with the booty being Dragon. Not easy to read, this novel paints a bleak brutal futuristic science fiction landscape.

Mathematicians in Love
Rudy Rucker
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
076531584X $24.95 1-888-330-8477

In the university, the two mathematic graduate students, Bela Kis and Paul Bridge, are roommates who share much in common besides trying to obtain a PH.D by the numbers and a flat. Both are advised by maniacal mathematician Dr. Roland Haut and each enjoys the lifestyle of an advanced student living in college towns like Humelocke and Klownetown where the zaniest crazies of the universe come together to discuss the meaning of life (more often than not with various forms debating existence). However, what they most share in common is the love of Alma Ziff who is more or less Bela's girlfriend though she zips the bridge at times to be with Paul. The two roommates compete for who gets the girl at a time when their insane faculty advisor has begun developing a mathematical model that predicts the future; that is when he is not seeing monsters. Jumping off of Mad Haut's theory, Bela and Paul inventing the paracomputer "Gobubble" that predicts even more accurately the future as their advisor's monsters prove real and their love triangle even more acutely convex than keenly isosceles than either student calculated. Rudy Rucker lampoons politics, universities, mathematical theories, and humanity as he spins a terrific romantic science fiction satire that takes readers where they have never been before with perhaps the only recent exception being the author's novel FREAK AND THE ELIXIR. The math is highbrow insanity as the shortest distance between two points is an arc, but also augments the humorous story line. Haut is way outside the circle of sanity while Bela and Paul argue number theory to determine who ends up with Alma, monsters aside. Readers will appreciate this zany tale that proves the sum of the angles of a romantic triangle does not equal 180 degrees.

The Witling
Vernor Vinge
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
076530886X $13.95 1-888-330-8477

The male archeologist Bjault and the female space pilot Yoninne Leg-Wot disagree on how to go about their assignment to explore the planet Giri. She insists they know enough having "spied" from space on the feudal society below; but he says they only picked up information about women and children as the men are minors. Still with their incredibly superior technology, they land on the planet with a human superiority complex. Prince Imperial Pelio wants to be recognized as the heir to his father's throne, but he is a Witling so even his sire Lord Prefect of Bodgaru knows his offspring is unworthy as his son cannot mentally transport himself or objects like most people can and do at the speed of light. However, though dreaming of becoming the Lord Prefect, Prince Pelio had no hope of succession as any attempt would not just fail, but also expose him as a Witling and turn him into a slave; that is he had no expectation until the two outsiders landed. They are Witlings like him, but they contain knowledge and technology far advanced than those on his planet. If he can exploit their knowledge, he can become the Lord Prefect even as a lowly Witling. This is a reprint of a superb look at necessity is the mother of invention as Bodgaru society uses mental telepathy that limits the need for technological advancement especially in transportation for many people. However those lacking the skill are considered handicapped and treated as slaves way beneath those with the talent. The two pompous outsiders land at a time when the have-nots want to break the yoke of slavery while the haves prefer the status quo. Fast-paced and insightful, readers will appreciate this delightful insightful tale of a technological backwater world that for most people do not need wheeled-vehicles.

The Assassin King
Elizabeth Haydon
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765305658 $25.95 1-888-330-8477

The death of Llauron has shook up more than just his dragon kin as the ancient wyrms know it impacts all species by leaving a void in protecting the earth. Dragons hold a rite of passage for Llauron and convene a meeting at the site of his horrific death to determine what to do. At about the same time, the F'dor demons are resurfacing spreading their evil wherever they walk amongst humans. Talquist thinks the time is right for him to invade the northern lands so his realm can grow. Alliances are forming between the demons and the humans though neither side trusts the other especially once the conquest is complete. Rhapsody realizes her beloved Middle Kingdom people are in danger with the death of her dragon "father-in-law", from the demons and the southern armies. She and her spouse Ashe begin countermeasures as war is imminent by calling upon their allies of yore Grunthor and Achmed for help at a time her "mother-in-law" Anwyn the dragon wants her dead. THE ASSASSIN KING is a well written epic fantasy, but slower than the previous Symphony of Ages tales as much of the early pages recounts what has passed in other novels or the various sides preparing for war. The story line is character driven as the Anwyn, the F'dor, Talquist, and Rhapsody know a confrontation is coming soon. Newcomers should obtain the previous tales (at least the last one - ELEGY FOR A LOST STAR), which is an interesting look at a fantasy war mostly from the preparation stages preceding the combat. Elizabeth Haydon is a master fantasist.

Sons of the Oak
David Farland
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0765301776 $27.95 1-888-330-8477

When Shadoath in her persona of the One True Master tried to put all life under her control, the One True World shattered into a thousand thosand worlds each a pale reflection of the glory of the One True World. Also lost is the master rune, but on one of the worlds is where the runelords exists the knowledge will be regained and the worlds will join together into one. The torch-bearer, an immortal reborn as Fallion, the Earth King's son, doesn't know his true nature although his sire has some idea. When the Earth King dies, the country of Mystarria is attacked by its enemies. Fallion, his brother and some trusty allies escape and make their way to the docks to find a ship that will take them to Landsfallen which is what Fallion's father told them to do. Captain Stalker plans to ransom them to the pirate Shadoath but changes his mind when he comes to know and care for Fallion. However, a betrayal causes Fallion and his brother to be captured and only by using his latent powers of fire and have his allies discover where they are do they have a chance of escaping and going inland, giving Fallion a chance to grow into his powers. This is the fifth book of the Runelands with the action taking place eight years after the events of THE LAIR OF THE BONES. David Farland's latest work involves the next generation of warriors who must fight the forces of darkness in the form of locus, sentient parasites that attach themselves to people and control them, while bringing light into a world made better by the earth king. Fallion has the seeds of greatness within him but he must be wary of using his power in a dark manner otherwise he will be no better than the evil beings that want dominion over the world. SONS OF THE OAK is a great fantasy with complex and compelling characters.

The Arsenic Labyrinth
Martin Edwards
Poisoned Pen
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
1590583280 $22.95 1-800-421-3976

After ten years away from the Lake District in England, Guy returns and stays at a cheap bed and breakfast because his money ran out. Guy is a grifter, a gigolo and a scammer but for some unknown reason when he sees reporter Tony Di Venuto's article about Emma Bostwick being missing for ten years, he decides to help the reporter out. He tells him the approximate location where the body is. DCI Hannah Scarlett takes the call very seriously and has her team search the mine shafts in the arsenic labyrinth. It doesn't take them long to find the body but they are shocked to find a second corpse there, a victim of a murder fifty years ago. There are many questions surrounding the disappearance of Emma, including where she got the money to buy a cottage and a car when she wasn't working.. Daniel Kind, the son of Hannah's mentor, helps her investigate the death of the victim who was killed fifty years ago by doing some historical research and he discovers who killed the victim and why. As for Emma, good old fashioned police work leads to the modern day killer. Martin Edwards has written a mystery that has so many superlative twists that readers are constantly in a state of suspense wondering what will happen next. From almost the very beginning the audience knows that Guy was instrumental in Emma's death but they don't know how or why he feels bad about it after all this time of staying silent. Surprisingly readers will feel for Guy, pitying him for not traveling a different road. This tale is multi-layered and a one sitting reading experience.

Hard Bargain
Jane Tesh
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
159058354X $24.95 1-800-421-3976

In Celosia, North Carolina former beauty queen Madeline "Mac" Maclin continues her efforts to make a living as a private investigator buoyed by her recent solving of a murder case (see CASE OF IMAGINATION). One of her cases is personal as she hopes to prove to her beloved roommate Jerry Fairweather that he is not at fault for the deaths of his parents in a fire over twenty years ago; in fact she thinks his sister is the culprit or knows more than she is letting on about the deadly inferno. Mac's other two cases are professional. She searches for inventor Kirby Willet, who vanished without a trace but not before he hid a large cache of money. Her other investigation involves the poison death of director Josh Gaskin at a horror film shooting at a "bat" house inherited by Jerry from his late uncle. However, as she finds a wealth of suspects in the Gaskin homicide, Mac begins to see ties to her other investigations, but doubts the puzzles could mesh so well together. Though difficult to keep score of the support cast as Mac is fully employed with her three cases, she is a delightful protagonist who holds the several subplots together and in fact brings them into a cohesive private investigative thriller. Readers will enjoy the former beauty queen's laments about no respect for her brain, which contrary to popular opinion is four-times her bra size. The inquiries are cleverly designed to bring out the best and worst traits of the heroine.

Justin Scott
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
159058063X $24.95 1-800-421-3976

Long term residents of Newbury, Connecticut hate avariciouse developer Billy Tiller, who has built several vulgar "palaces". Thus, it is not a shocker when Tiller dies in a hit and run accident; though the vehicle of choice was a bulldozer. The local police arrest environmental activist, Jeff Kimball, who was found sitting in the driver's seat while Tiller was crushed under the treads. Whereas Jeff welcomes martyrdom as he sees imprisonment, his father hires attorney Ira Levy to represent his son. In turn, Ira hires Ben Abbott, to investigate. Ben welcomes the fact that the odious Tiller is dead, but though biased he accepts the case after Ira persuades him to do so. When he concludes that Jeff is innocent, Ben takes a different tactic; instead of finding some doubt, he concentrates on uncovering the identity of the killer, which alienates everyone including the client's dad who wants the case closed and forgotten. The premise behind MCMANSION is simple; avaricious developers will build disgustingly gauche edifices if the money is there while extreme tree huggers will turn to eco-terrorism including murder to prevent these abominations. Thus the audience and his lawyer believe Jeff is capable of homicide in the name of the environment with only Ben thinking otherwise. Though Ben stays somewhat aloof so the readers never really get to know him, fans will appreciate his inquiry into whether the Lorax could commit murder.

Triple Cross
Kit Ehrman
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
1590583027 $24.95 1-800-421-3976

Twenty-three years old Maryland barn manager Steve Cline is working with his dad as they prepare their horse Gallant Storm for the Kentucky Derby. His father trainer Chris Kessler feels he has a solid shot of winning the most prestigious racing event and many pundits agree. Steve joins him in Louisville. However, Steve has plenty of idle time on his hands as the race is two weeks away and his time serving on the racing team is minor. To his credit he avoids race groupies as he remains faithful to his girlfriend Rachel. However, he fills his time studying from the mail order private investigator course he is enrolled in as he tries to make practical applications while hiding what he is doing from Rachel, who detests Steve's aspirations to become a sleuth. He soon finds himself in the middle of a real homicide of a woman whose relationships leave behind plenty of people with motive, means and opportunity. Steve is a roguish charmer who readers will like in his fourth appearance (see COLD BURN and DEAD MAN'S TOUCH) and the horse racing sequences especially the preparation for a race insightful and clearly a winner. However, the murder mystery track is muddy as some conclusions seem questionable. Still Dick Francis would enjoy racing with Steve as he tries to complete his correspondence class project without getting killed.

Mary Anna Evans
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
1590583426 $24.95 1-800-421-3976

In Mississippi, archaeologist Faye Longchamp and her live-in lover Joe Wolf Mantooth lead a dig on sacred Choctaw property. Nearby is a better mound on the farm of Carroll Calhoun, who could not care less about someone else's heritage. When asked if an archeological dig could occur, Carroll says no and remarks he will bulldoze the mound before he allows the State to apply historical preservation rules and impound his property. Nashoba County Sheriff Neely Rutland calms everyone down before a confrontation occurs. He agrees to obtain a legal opinion on the ownership and disposition of the mound. At the same time, former Congressman Lawrence Johnson Judd gives a talk about almost dying at the hands of a mob until some unknown person saved his life. Soon afterward, someone slashes Calhoun's throat and Judd is hospitalized from a near fatal drug overdose. Unable to mind her business and let Neely handle matters, Faye investigates but is unaware that she places Joe and herself in danger from a killer with motive entrenched in the county's past. The archeology combined with Native-American lore enhances a fun romantic amateur sleuth thriller though why Faye needs to sleuth remains a question even with her work requiring plenty of clues gathering. The story line is action-packed even before the corpse is found as the audience will feel the enthusiasm of the team as they uncover their findings. The whodunit is delightfully disguised so that like the sheriff and the archeologist, readers will struggle to solve it. This is a superb murder mystery as the sum of the parts make for a fantastic whole.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

poems by Valerie and Charles Portolano
RWG Books
P.O. Box 17205,Fountain Hills AZ 85269-7205
0977903540 $6.00

Charles Portolano has authored five other chapbooks so far. This chapbook combines his poetry with that of his daughter, Valerie. The results are endearing. From her first quickening in the womb, Portolano and his wife have devoted themselves to stirring dreams in young Valerie's mind. Based on the poetry here, I'd say that endeavor has been successful.

"Born to Dance" is a tender study of parents awaiting the birth of a beloved child. Their excitement and anticipation is palpable in this excerpt:

From the moment
you could first move
you wriggled and
waggled your way
around inside
your mother's womb
kicking with life
heating up our hearts
as we feel
your strong vibrations
of endless energy
flowing out to
our waiting fingers

In "A Father's Wish" Portolano and Valerie are watching the stars at night:

looking to the stars
closing my eyes
I squeeze your hand
whispering a wish
across time and space.

Valerie wrote "The Heart of Fire" at age 10. At that age, and even younger, her imagination amazes:

In the corner she sits,
with the fire
almost burning out,
crying tears
of salty sorrow
for she is heartbroken
by love

The fire is the only thing
to heal her.

At age 11, Valerie composed "What Kind of World is This?" This excerpt clearly demonstrates her thought processes and the curiosity sparked by world events:

Shoot, fall, conquer is all we are?
You tell us to use words, not our fists
Why do we kill for the good of mankind?
What kind of world is this?

This is a book of Firsts shared by father and daughter: first breath, first birthday, first dance recital, first airplane flight, and more as Valerie progresses through life. Charles Portolano's poetry is always intriguing, and this chapbook written with his daughter is no exception.

Meanderings of a Lost Soul
Kevin E. Holshuer
Shadows Ink Publications
1209 Milwaukee Street, Excelsior Springs MO 64024
1932447687 $6.95

Mr. Holshuer quotes Plato in the introductory page to this chapbook: "Poets write of wonderful and mystical things that they themselves do not understand." In keeping with that quote, Holshuer reflects on life and death, taking the measure of angels, demons, and souls on his journey.

"Defined Light" is a metaphorical poem where light and darkness battle in this excerpt:

Light is defined by the night
For evil echoes in hearts
Of the angry plight
Hiding in shadow void of light

This excerpt from "Funeral" gives hope and assurance that, in a dark world, love and light prevails:

Souls are released from entombed
As the dove of love embraces
Those returning to holy

In "Heaven," Holshuer ponders what mysteries await us in the afterlife. No one alive can answer his questions:

I cannot Imagine, nor
Fathom, what Heaven
Will Entail.
My eyes are covered,
Covered with a Veil.
Until that final,
Final Exhale.

Life takes its toll no matter what we humans do to foil aging. As the years accumulate, like the poet in "Struggle," we reflect on the past and future:

White hair upon my head
As the years of youth have fled
The days not gentle nor kind
To those that struggle with fate
Or time.

Mr. Holshuer encourages readers to be "wise in their struggle" with life. Give generously of yourself, your time, and talent, as the poet does in this chapbook.

On the Avenue
Sharlie West
Shadows Ink Publications
1209 Milwaukee Street, Excelsior Springs MO 64024
1932447741 $6.95

Sharlie West's poetry has appeared in numerous journals, chapbooks, and anthologies. Her poetry focuses on a life punctuated by memorable moments in time: sledding in winter, the death of a neighbor, Pearl Harbor Day.

West's memories of adult concerns from the perspective of a child are powerful and poignant. These excerpts from the stunning poem "Aunt Ella" show clearly what life was like for families in the day before nursing home care prevailed:

The wooden steps leading down
were rickety and worn.
I held tight to the railing.

Aunt Ella never left the basement.
Meals were brought
for her indifferent hunger.
A sip here, a taste there.
She was hardly bigger than we were.
Her clothes hung like forgotten rags.

Sometimes I'd hear her shrieking
like a wounded bird,
and then the sound of shoes
rushing down the stairs.

The poem "Old Kenneth" reminded me of my own childhood, in days when nurturing and protecting children was a joint effort shared by a variety of adults:

He was always Old Kenneth.
Standing over six feet tall, mammoth to neighborhood
children, same tight red shirt every day,
stomach overlapping his sagging denims.

When it was his turn at bat, he'd plunk it deep to left, and
kind of lope around the bases, belly bouncing,
big grin on his face. Kenneth was our apartment's janitor.
Keeper of keys. Watcher of children.

From earliest childhood to young adulthood, Ms. West remembers each pivotal moment as if it were yesterday. This excerpt from "The Girl of My Dreams" is the final poem in this chapbook, a bittersweet memorial to college tradition:

The piano stopped
as the Sigs gathered around me to sing
The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi.
It would be the last time.
Soon a new Sweetheart
would be named.
I would pass on the floral crown.
Inside my stomach,
a baby girl kicked.
I patted the pleated top, sang
the song just for her.

Sharlie West writes from the heart, in words every reader can understand. The beauty of these life moments, captured so eloquently, lies in its simplicity.

Raising the Child
Theresa Hickey
Shadows Ink Publications
1209 Milwaukee Street, Excelsior Springs, MO 64024
1932447733 $6.95

Theresa Hickey is an idealist in life and in poetry. She shares her humanity through poetry, in word and deed. All proceeds from her chapbooks will support area soup kitchens, abused women shelters, the arts, and other non profit organizations. That's one good reason to buy Ms. Hickey's chapbooks. Another incentive is the stunning poetry she writes.

Remembering people precious to her is a recurring theme throughout this book. "Old Country" memorializes the poet's grandfather. I quote one verse of this long, touching poem in excerpt:

An early childhood memory
was watching as he planted,
beads of sweat seeping
from the furrows
of his temples,
shoulders, neck –
his suntanned face
russet as the pears
of his beloved fruit trees.

"Tea & Eucharist" is the poignant memory of time spent with her ill mother. Neither can easily express what the other means to her, and so they drink tea and cherish time together:

Other nights, we affirmed
the other's presence
ushering in a more tranquil spirit –
with quiet rising holier than our voices
connecting us profoundly
in ways we dared not speak.

Another long poem is "Soup Kitchen." The poet hopes to inspire compassion in her daughter by serving in the soup kitchen. Instead, she learns a hard truth about herself from observing her daughter with a disenfranchised woman, Dorothy:

Dorothy, whose own children
long ago disowned her,
is exuberant to be
engaged in conversation.
I should be happy, too.
My daughter
has befriended the friendless.

This is a chapbook of exceptional poetry. Theresa Hickey shows us rare glimpses of remembered joy and stark moments of regret with honesty and dignity. Her work with words is beautiful and memorable.

I Leak
Alex Ates Haywood
Shadows Ink Publications
1209 Milwaukee Street, Excelsior Springs, MO 64024
1932447776 $6.95

Alex Ates Haywood has worn many hats and lived in exotic locales in his working lifetime. With this chapbook he dons his poetic hat and says what lonely people everywhere think but can't adequately express. His emotions "leak" through these pages as he shares life's joys and sorrows.

The title poem introduces Haywood's straightforward poetic style, tempered with visions that intrigue the mind's eye:

I leak.
like sunshine through
venetian blinds,
like the bright lights
of an alien craft
in an encounter
of the third kind,
I leak.

This excerpt from "First Time in a Long Time" represents a healing process that has been slow, painful, and arrives without warning:

Today I danced while cooking,
kinda slow, hesitant at first
like the kids smiles
watching momdad
then I sang a few bars
my angels now smiling broadly
singing along
enjoyed my wine
first time in a long time.

"The End of the Day" reflects the thoughts of a weary man watching dark fall in the rain. This poem is best read in its entirety for full effect, but I quote one verse here:

Darkness covers outside
but I'm not done
with the day yet.
Like an unlit candle
it sits in my mind
its sense of being
not fulfilled, not defined.

In this chapbook, Alex Ates Haywood explores his emotions with honesty and courage, allowing readers to walk a mile in his shoes. These poems are pieces of Haywood's heart and spirit. A poet can give no greater gift than that.

Moments of Reflection
Celeste Butler-Mendez
Shadows Ink Publications
1209 Milwaukee Street, Excelsior Springs MO 64024
1932447520 $6.95

Utilizing a variety of poetic styles, Ms. Butler-Mendez reflects upon the human condition with a clear eye and writes about family, friends, love, betrayal, suicide, and war with emotional depth or humor.

"Caught" metaphorically tells the tale of a games-playing man who lures and baits a trusting woman. I chose one verse in excerpt:

Fished from a sea without a life raft or dingy,
she clung to his lifeline without questioning,
too scared to face a fierce, tumultuous sea.

"Was It You?" is a quinzaine – eloquent thoughts, simply expressed:

Someone stole my zealous heart.
Any witnesses?
Was it you?

These two excerpted verses from "Egg Foo Young, Cabbage, Pasta, Rice and Beans and Collard Greens" reflect the poet's humor and dialectic skill:

I'm Silly Cele, and all i wanna do is eat!
i never cause no problems, never cause no scenes,
just wanna eat my egg foo young, my cabbage, pasta,
rice and beans and grandma's collard greens.

then after that i think i'll take a drink
and Hennessey myself under my kitchen sink.
how many think it's something wrong with that?
that i keep getting round, OKAY! i'm kinda fat.

"In Growing Old" is a reflection on the progression of life, from youth to old age. I quote the last verse of this fine poem here:

Their years have passed, but while they're here,
cherish the ones who are old but dear.
For blessed is he who does indeed
comfort them in their time of need.
In growing old, no man stands tall
since it comes to one and all.

Celeste Butler-Mendez is a storyteller in the time-honored tradition. Her poetry flows naturally and has the distinct ring of ancient stories passed down from ancestors who saw life as it was and accepted everything, the good and the bad. The message here is to seize life while we can.

Outback Reckoning
R.P. Bonasso
WhoooDoo Mysteries
Imprint of Treble Heart Books
1284 Overlook Drive, Sierra Vista AZ 85635-5512
1932695109 $14.99

R.P. Bonasso nailed every essential element in this first novel. Australian locales become integral to the story and this writer transports readers to the land down under with apparent ease. Australian politics, cultures – outlander and aboriginal – and the destructive power of human greed are woven seamlessly into the plot, adding subtle touches that enhance readers' interest. Bonasso's protagonist is strong, intriguing, with endearing foibles to round out her character. Supporting characters are well developed and believable. In short, Mr. Bonasso created this story with skill and maintains the excitement and tension from first page to last.

A dark, fierce, tall Aborigine has been abducting young white girls in very public places. He's vicious and well armed. Witnesses to the abductions often become collateral damage, murdered in cold blood. Public outcry against Aborigines is compounded when the perpetrator announces plans to sacrifice these young girls to the desert snake god. The perpetrator disappears with his victims into the Outback, a place few lawmen can track him. Enter Rachel Gaen. This cigarillo smoking woman with golden eagle tattoos on each arm is an awesome force: half white, half Aborigine; a third degree black belt; skilled in the use of ancient Aboriginal and modern weaponry; and knows the Outback intimately. She tracks the abductor through Queensland and battles him to save his captives. At his death, he's revealed to be a white man in disguise as an Aborigine. Because of her courage and lineage, the Aborigines give Rachel a name of honor. Suralu.

Rodney Evans is a third generation sheepman who intervenes when Rachel and her brother are being attacked at a local roadhouse. Rod is a strong Catholic, prone to skepticism about Rachel's beliefs in supernatural Aboriginal powers, but he admires her beauty and raw courage. Falling in love with this wild, beautiful woman was not in his plans but their powerful attraction to each other is immediate. When his father dies suddenly, Rachel comforts him at first, and encourages him to follow his dream of being an artist. Through her influence he paints with Aboriginal power.

Rachel's sheepman-lover finds fame overnight and attracts the attention of an evil family who will do anything, kill anyone, to possess his paintings. Everyone Rachel loves becomes a target. Every bit of indigenous power, intelligence, skill, and courage she has will be needed in this fight against superior forces.

Outback Reckoning has action adventure movie written all over it. Bonasso's writing style is powerful and his characters first rate. In fact, Rachel Gaen is purely unforgettable. He maintains the heart pounding action and excitement throughout. If you weren't fascinated with all things Australian before reading this book, you will be afterwards. As a novel, it has my highest recommendation.

Halfway Decent Sinners
poetry by Michael Cleary
Custom Words
P.O. Box 541106, Cincinnati OH 45254-1106
1933456191 $17.00

The back cover photo of Michael Cleary captures a man with twinkling eyes and mischievous smile. His poetry reflects that humor, but Cleary's work is multi- faceted. One critic extols his "eloquent exploration of our flawed human condition." This poetry is, indeed, drawn from a world he observes with a keen eye, then mourns or celebrates through a facile weaving of words. The Church becomes "a sacred rigamarole of faith." Youthful fear is "dumb hope doing its best not to shudder or let go." Humorous. Eloquent. Facile. Angry. Empathetic. Cleary's poetry is all these things and more.

Consider, for example, this excerpt from "Lucky Shirt," where the poet considers a wheelchair-bound young man seeking healing in his lucky shirt:

Lucky Shirt. Meaning – what?
A curse? A joke? A prayer?
Such everyday unbearableness.
I want a shirt that says, Sisyphus aint no sissy.
Who knows what words will save us
or what grace we deserve in the end.
But what strength. What holy spirit
moves in mysterious human ways,
courage that blesses us as we praise.

Sara is a woman who finds illicit love and treasures each moment. In this excerpt from "Aunt Sara and the Sunshower," she questions her fate:

Night overflows the afternoon,
winecool kisses on flushing skin.
As he leaves in the drying dusk,
she wonders what has ended or begun,
afraid to know, know
in these surprised sunshower days
is he the drizzle – or the sun?

In "Aunt Sara and the Man Dying by Ounces" she watches from a distance the family black sheep, the war veteran destroyed by alcoholism:

Knowing how hope ends, she wraps his madness
in the brutal fact of dying: how
not letting go was all he had left to do,
hoarding drops as if they were minutes,
anything to slow the leaking of his days.

"Football at Catholic School in the Undefeated Season" is a deliciously rancorous retrospective of a fat boy turned jock:

No more everybody's roly-poly boy,
all those meannesses so much fun
making fun of you.
Baby Huey and Blubber Butt
like a miracle gone hard to muscle,
bitterness you savor like bile.

From the patient, penetrating heat of Florida to failed relationships and an agnostic's struggle with organized religion, Cleary paints his word pictures with candor and skill. This second book of poetry by Michael Cleary is exceptional and highly recommended.

Virgil Hunter
James M. Bellarossa
John Daniel & Company
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
1880284006 $9.95

As a reviewer, my greatest joy comes in discovering rare gems: memorable stories written by excellent writers as yet undiscovered by the world. Most of these gems are among the best books I've read in recent years. Virgil Hunter is definitely one of these gems. Critics have labeled it "Twainian" in style and compared it to Huckleberry Finn, which is a compliment to Bellarossa's abilities as storyteller. In my opinion, Bellarossa is in a class by himself. His characters are beautifully crafted, his writing style exceptional.

Virgil Hunter is a teenager who gets his education from the world around him. Raised on a farm by his widowed father, Virgil has humanized hogs, mules, and chickens into friends and fellow travelers. He's unworldly but intelligent, naieve but canny in ways most of us will never be. This is a lad of uncompromising honesty. His vision of the world is skewed but clearly perceived. When the local sheriff and his deputies visit Virgil's father and say the boy must go to school whether he learns anything or not, Virgil complies. He knows he can "mix with morons and men as easily as with melons and mules."

Virgil's folksy vision of the world drives teachers and counselors mad. In an attempt to save his frazzled staff, the school principal suggests that Virgil take several months off from school to experience the outside world, away from the farm. Virgil easily sees the wisdom in that so embarks on a grand experiment that includes Christian sharing, social interactions, and peer group associations. He expands his horizons to include priests and preachers, hard-nosed nurses, peers who question his logic, and upper management personnel of the local plastics factory. The entire town is left floundering in the wake of Virgil's social interactions.

Virgil Hunter is a touching, endearing story. Bellarossa uses humor, irony, and pathos to perfection. This undiscovered gem is highly recommended reading for youths and adults.

Dredging for Atlantis
Eileen Tabios
8 Kennedy Street, Rockhampton Qld 4700 Australia
c/o Lulu Press
9780977560448 $14.95

Award winning poet Eileen Tabios is a true renaissance woman. She's a budding vintner, manages Meritage Press, coordinates several popular poetry blogs, and effectively pursues human rights activities. Dredging for Atlantis is her 11th print poetry collection. Every book by Tabios has a different cause and effect, extraordinary poetic techniques, and exceptional messages for readers. In this book, for example, readers will learn about the artistic technique of scumbling as Ms. Tabios creates new poems from the words of other poets. She also skillfully uses ekphrasis and hay (na) ku, the latter of which is a poetic form she introduced in 2003.

All but one of the poems in Part One are textually scumbled by Ms. Tabios from The Lost Lunar Baedeker by Mina Loy. I chose two examples to quote in their entirety. The first is "Your":

indisputably male voice
roared through my veins

and brain,
you pugilist of intellect

Where is my coffin –
its succoring bed?

The second example from Part One is "Religion (Poe Meets Brancusi):

When nightingales reign
over all clowns

scythes shall melt before mystics

as God reveals himself
thin-ankled but
a peasant

Parts Two and Three are scumbled poems and also written in the hay (na) ku form. Part Two is scumbled from A Tuscan Childhood by Kinta Beevor and Part Three from Athena, a novel by John Banville. "Windfalls" is the poem I selected from Part Two. Pay attention to the simple three-line structure to understand hay (na) ku:

The olives' oil
contents grow

from October to
December. It's

however, to leave
them too

on trees because
if they

"windfalls" they cannot
be considered

virgin pressings.

From Part Three I chose this excerpt from "Athena." Despite the brevity of line structure, Tabios crafts a powerful message:

The poem cannot
be pure.

never travels unimpeded
by anonymous

Writing it down
merely freezes
flight –

Once, it flew
with non-imaginary

Any work by Eileen Tabios is interesting, intriguing, thought provoking and enlightening. These are poetic and artistic mysteries begging for exploration. Joy comes with the sense of adventure and discovery sparked as these poems are read and reread. Highly recommended.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Mary's Bookshelf

Celebrating Iowa
United Methodist Women
First United Methodist Church
214 East Jefferson Street, Iowa City, IA 52245
No ISBN $12.50

In the format of a sturdy 3-ring binder with pocket sleeves, "Celebrating Iowa" is a fund raising cookbook developed by the women of the First United Methodist Church in Iowa City, Iowa in celebration of their church's 150 sesquicentennial anniversary. Beginning with a list of standard abbreviations used in the recipe instructions, we are treated to a chronological presentation of historical facts about the First United Methodist Church, an exhaustive table of contents, a listing of cooking 'Hints and Tips', and a measurements table that will prove especially helpful to the novice kitchen cook. The recipes are organized into sections devoted to Appetizers, Beverages, Dips & Snacks; Breads; Cakes & Icings; Cookies, Bars & Candy; Casseroles & Vegetables; Meats, Main Dishes & Stuffing; Desserts & Pies; Microwave & Breakfast; Salads & Dressings; and Sandwiches, Soups, Sauces & Miscellaneous. With dishes ranging from Sour Cream Coffeecake; Waffle Turtle Cookies; Wild Rice Casserole; and Chicken Dijon; to Stacked Enchiladas; Pumpkin Cheesecake; Mandarin Orange Salad; and Mulled Tomato Broth, "Celebrating Iowa"is a welcome, wholesome, and simply wonderful addition to any kitchen cookbook shelf!

Cooking By Design
Nancy Maes Burt
Privately Published
1724 Fox River Drive, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304
097586310X $20.00

Not only does Nancy Burt's "Cooking By Design" offer a spiral bound, 153-page, 'kitchen cook friendly' compilation of 148 delicious recipes spanning everything from beverages to desserts, we are also treated to simply wonderful dishes fit for any family dining occasion, fit any family food budget, and can often be prepared within the hour for busy family schedules. Ranging from an Icy Fruit Whip; Cheese Garlic Biscuits; and Hot Chicken Sandwich; to Creamy Coleslaw; Picnic Baked Beans; and a Pineapple Crunch Pie, "Cooking By Design" would make a welcome addition to any family cookbook collection. Novice cooks will greatly appreciate the sections devoted to 'Cooking Tips and Cleaning Hints'. Also very highly recommended is Nancy Burt's "Everything But The Kitchen Sink ($20.00) which focuses upon organizing a home on a budget, decorating, holidays, diner parties, traveling, beauty and fashion tips, and more.

Mary Cowper

Shelley's Bookshelf

Vices of My Blood
Maureen Jennings
McClelland & Stewart Ltd.
75 Sherbourne St., Toronto, Ontario, CANADA M5A 2P9
0771043767 $16.95

Maureen Jennings moved to Canada from Birmingham, England when she was seventeen. After studying Philosophy, Psychology, and English literature, she became an English teacher at Ryerson Polytechnic Institute. After eight years of teaching, she did an about face and set herself up as a psychotherapist. VICES OF MY BLOOD is her sixth Detective Murdoch mystery, but she has also published a non-fiction book entitled MAP OF YOUR MIND.

Detective Murdoch is called when Charles Howard, a Presbyterian minister, is found in his office stabbed and beaten. Murdoch has just made detective, and murder isn't a normal occurrence. Naturally it seems obvious to everyone, including Murdoch's boss, that the murderer is one of the "tramps" in town. But there is more to this mystery than meets the eye, and Murdoch tries to sift through various motives. Could the murderer have been a spurned spinster? Could the "Traveler" have stooped to murder? How about someone desperate for food who was refused by Howard in his role as a "Visitor?" All Murdoch has to go on is the fact that Howard's boots and watch were stolen and that the crime was one of passion:

"'You'd say a thief then, would you, detective?" asked Royce. 'That or somebody wants us to think so." Mr. Lyons indicated he had a question. "Dr. Ogden in her excellent testimony has told us that there is every indication that the assailant was in a mad fury. I wonder then, if a person in such a state would have the presence of mind to deliberately mislead the police. I beg your pardon, Mr. Murdoch, I have no wish to cast aspersions on your competence.'"

There is something about Canadian mysteries that promises a slow but steady character and plot development that culminates in a neat package. Maureen Jennings is no exception. This is a period mystery, and Jennings has evidently done her research. We are transported back into the world of Victorian Canada in this case, where women stayed at home with their bodices and meek subservience to their husbands. Jennings creates a murky scenario with stand out characters and a whodunit that is as elusive as Murdoch's killer. A big thumbs up!

Unbearable Losses
Jennifer L. Jordan
Spinsters Ink, Inc.
P.O. Box 242, Midway, FL 32343
1883523680 $14.95

Jennifer L. Jordan has been in business for herself since the age of twenty-one. She has run five successful businesses and has taught thousands of women how to start and run their own businesses. She has published five Kristin Ashe mysteries and is presently working on the sixth, entitled: SELECTIVE MEMORY. UNBEARABLE LOSSES is her fourth Kristin Ashe mystery.

Kristin Ashe, Private Investigator, has been retained to solve two mysteries. One concerns Christmas lawn decorations which have begun to disappear. Two elderly sisters squabble over the philosophy of the decorations in light of their departed parents' wishes. The second mystery is more compelling. Lori Parks, self-absorbed and uptight in her own sexuality, has been receiving threatening notes. Her defenses prevent her from seeing that the threat might be to her daughter, Erica, and that insanity looms closer than she suspects. A skiing trip from twenty years ago might hold the answers:

"'Which friend died?'

'Jodi Wilde,' Lori said faintly. 'My friend from college.'


'She froze to death the night before we were rescued. Her circumstances, and those of Liz, the other girl, were aggravated by a fall into a small creek.'

'Were you and Jodi close friends?'

'Intimate,' Lori Parks said flatly."

Jennifer Jordan has written an inventive tale that centers around Winter Park, Colorado and the Denver area. The best kept secret of mountains is how dangerous they are, particularly in winter. Tourists have no idea what they face if something goes wrong, particularly from avalanches. Ms. Jordan, an outdoor enthusiast herself, writes a fascinating mystery and manages to teach those of us who don't live in the mountains some safety tips. Her plot and action are non-stop. She injects fun into her characters, even as they struggle with life issues. She weaves layers and layers of intrigue into her tale, which is hard to put down. A wonderful read for a wintry day, or perhaps a great beach read!

Cajun Snuff
W. Randy Haynes
PO Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705-0151
1413783570 $19.95

It took W. Randy Haynes five years to write his first mystery, but the effort was worth it. The first time "out of the gate," as he says, he garnered a selection as a finalist for the prestigious 2006 Lambda Literary Award. Haynes is a disabled Vietnam vet who found time on his hands during the long Lake Tahoe winters. But Haynes is originally a Texan, and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. He is also a member of the Cherokees of California and started up
a Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Lake Tahoe. He is presently working
on a sequel to CAJUN SNUFF.

Special Agent Adam Stephen is inexplicably tapped by his somewhat boorish boss to investigate the mutilation murder of a U.S. Congressman who happens to be Black. On his way to New Orleans, Adam meets up with a woman named Adaline Fontenot, a widow from New Orleans, who not only opens doors for him during his investigation, but who will change his life forever:
"'Mr. Herndon? I'm Adam Stephen. I really appreciate your talking to me."

Adam handed over the letter of introduction.

'Come in.' The man unlocked the office door and turned on the lights. The office was unsophisticated but functional. Herndon took a seat behind the desk and motioned for Adam to sit in a chair. 'So, you're a friend of Ms. Fontenot, huh? How did you get so highly connected?'

'It was an accident. We met on a flight to New Orleans, and I've visited her home since. She's well-known in the state?'

'You could say that. Ada is the power behind the progressive politics here in Louisiana. She prefers to work behind the scenes and avoids publicity.'"

CAJUN SNUFF is an understated, yet passionate whodunit that is character-driven and examines the politics of the South and the attempt by right-wing zealots to take over our country. Adam Stephen is a dreamboat of a character who is both as spicy as New Orleans and, at the same time, is vulnerable and strong. When Adam meets up with Homer, a neurotic bloodhound with separation anxiety, Haynes injects just the right amount of humor to enliven and lighten the tale. But Adam and Homer bond, Adam saves the day, and Haynes sees fit to give us a reverse ending. CAJUN SNUFF is extremely well done and is a great little tale full of intrigue and local color.

Crown's Law
Wolf Wootan
0595403611 $20.95

Wolf Wootan is a bit of a dude himself, having been an Air Force pilot. He also has more thanforty years as a computer geek. He has written hundreds of articles for government and private industry, and published EDGE OF TOMORROW, a techno-thriller. Wootan has degrees in Mathematics and Astrophysics.

Sam Crown comes from a wealthy family, with a socialite mother and a father who is ex-CIA. Crown joined the Marines on a lark after high school, which pushed him in the direction of law enforcement and private investigation work. He found he couldn't "help people" while being constrained by law enforcement rules and regulations. Sam is connected and well-respected.He is forty-eight and still is the rich playboy, but isn't quite ready for Becky...a genius waif from the streets whose sister is killed by thugs. Sam takes Becky in and his parents quickly becomeco-parents with Sam, as they educate and develop Becky's considerable intellectual talents. Little do they know that Sam's dummy investigation firm, Mickey Malone Investigations, will be the launching point for a murder that leads to International espionage and FBI agent Rainbow "Bo" Trout. Sam's life will never be the same as he and Bo identify the killers:

"'Well, Big Brother does screw up now and then,' laughed Sam. 'But I have a possible solution. You won't tell me anything about your case, so I'll do some guessing. Since you are looking for Mickey, your case must involve that guy Jackson, who was shot–the guy who had Mickey's business care. Since you seem to have been poorly briefed, maybe you don't know that Jackson has been identified as William Winston. The cops here didn't get far on finding his killer because you Feds swooped down and took all the evidence and the case. Now, finally, you show up. It must be your case now, right?'"

CROWN'S LAW is a mystery/thriller rich in plot and characterization. Wootan's knowledge of mathematics and astrophysics leaks through in his tale, and his career as an Air Force pilot fills in the rest to form a well-rounded, fun to read story of deception and love. Wootan is a bit of a romantic himself, which makes for a fairytale ending and the promise of a sequel. This reviewer is totally hooked and can't wait until his next book comes out. Get writing Mr. Wootan!

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Calypso's Secrets
Isabelle Kane
Whiskey Creek Press
PO Box 51052, Casper, WY 82605-1052
1593742401 $12.95 Fax: (307) 265-8585

The beginning of this read introduces us to Skylar Connelly, a young woman about to venture on a dangerous journey. We travel with her to her destination, a job for a very wealthy family at Coral Key, teaching a young boy to swim. However, that is not the real reason Skylar accepted this position, she is on a quest to find her missing sister Maia, who also had worked for this family and had not been heard from since. We meet Luke, the handsome left-hand man of Skylar's mysterious boss. Luke, at first meeting, seemingly to be a self-centered man, immediately clashes with our young Skylar, yet there seems to be an intense attraction between the two. The characters build one by one in this work. The mysterious teacher, Cole, just what was his relationship with Maia? The master of the house, Mr. Escalle, who certainly has his hands into many illegal happenings; the matron housekeeper, Lillian, whose heartstrings are attached to the boss and it appears her loyalty runs deep, despite his rejection of her feelings and his never-ending line of girlfriends. His henchmen who expect Skylar to be receptive to their advances, and the submissive sister of Mr. Escalle, Angelique and her son Chris, who bow to the every whim of the controlling brother.

As we travel along this delightful read the suspense builds. As Skylar begins to uncover little secrets the danger to her life increases and she must try to make a decision, just who is her friend and who is her enemy? Murder, attempted murder, mishaps, lies and deceit run ramped as Skylar persists on her quest to find her sister, and she must battle the growing emotions she is having for Luke. Guilt battles with attraction as Skylar struggles with her inward feelings. Could Luke be responsible for the loss of her sister, as if so why is she being drawn so strongly to him?

This work is packed full of suspense, murder, romance and mystery. It twists and turns and every time you think you have it figured out the clues take you down another lane. Once I started this read I could not put it down until I completed it. The author does an outstanding job at keeping you guessing and wondering just where is Skylars sister and what is the story behind this mysterious house and its occupants right to the end. A great read, one you don't want to miss.

Itty & Bitty Friends on the Farm
Nancy Carpenter Czerw
McWitty Press
110 Riverside Dr., 1A, New York, New York 10024
0975561839 $15.95

I have to say this is one delightful book that will warm the heart of child and adult. In this fun-filled read we meet Itty and Bitty, two miniature horses and we are taken along as they gallop through their day with their friends at Steele Away Farm.

I giggled away as I turned the pages and saw the illustrations of these adorable guys playing hide and seek, sitting at the table having their dinner, and working-out. How cute is that? The illustrations in this book are definitely top of the line. Vivid in color and brimming with imagination that just screams out at you from the pages; and the storyline flows along with ease as the two team up to bring you an out of the box reading experience. I very highly recommend you purchase this book for the child you love and for the child in you. Exceptional!

Murder Is Relative A Sam Runyon Mystery
Toni LoTempio
Publish America
PO Box 151, Frederick's, MD
1413739830 $14.95

Let me start off by saying this is one outstanding read that will keep your interest from beginning to end. From the onset we are taken to the act of a brutal murder of a very wealthy old woman. Our victim, Ms. Laura Howe was not only smothered with her pillow, but was chocked; our murderer was making no mistakes of the final outcome.

NYPD Homicide Detective Sam Runyon is placed on the case and begins to find out Ms. Howe was not only wealthy but very much disliked by all who knew her, including her own family. Finding out who benefitted from her death didn't even begin to bring him any closer to solving this murder and when questioning her family he realized the motive could well be more than money. Our author begins to weave a story that is full of all the essential elements of a great mystery; love, lust, hate, revenge and dark secrets from the past are all thrust at you with the speed of a freight train as you try to unwrap the clues of, 'who done it.'

The characters are both likeable and undesirable, well defined and nicely interwoven with realism of true to life personalities that bring them alive in the minds eye. Remember this, not all are as they appear, but that is what we should expect in this gene and we are not disappointed. Very well done! Let me conclude with this; try as you may you probably will not figure out who done it or why so my advice to you is enjoy the ride as you are whisked away in a world of mystery. Recommended for those who yearn for a great mystery read.

Promises To Keep
DL Larson
Helm Publishing Co.
3923 Seward Avenue, Rockford, IL 61108
0977820564 $16.95

It is true that life never gives us the fairy tale existence that we so long for, but somewhere inside of us is a knowing, a strength to overcome the challenges that life places before us and to walk in what we know our destiny is. Such is what you will find in this outstanding novel by author DL Larson as we are taken into the lives of Annie Douglas and Christine Douglas Frailey.

Annie Douglas loves her husband but his life of gambling has taken its toll on her and she slips into the arms of another man who has waited all his life to claim Annie as his own. Annie's husband Joe knows the heartache that he has caused Annie and decides her life and his children's would be far better without him. Annie struggles to honor Joe's decision but despite her efforts she is unable to let go of the deep love and commitment she has for him. As she begins her journey to restore their marriage she faces an angry suitor, kidnappers and the worse obstacle of all, Joe's determination to free her of his curse.

Christine loves Francis, her husband, but his strange behavior with her and his outward actions towards their son leaves her angry and frustrated. When she discovers he has a mistress she leaves but is drawn back and finds out a deep dark secret that has haunted her husband's life. To overcome the tragedy of this event will take all the courage and love Christine has within her as she literally puts her life on the line for her family.

In this outstanding novel DL Larson has skillfully woven the tale of a family, their struggles and their challenges. In her descriptive words she crafts a story that lays bare deep hidden secrets, desires and fears; in doing so she weaves within your heart the emotions and commitment that true love brings forth, despite hideous obstacles that would make the pale run and never look back. You are joined with each member as the families bravely face these obstacles head-on, battle to overcome them and reach the victory they so long for. Promises To Keep is the story of life, good and bad; it's challenges and the hope of new beginnings. Excellent read!

The Journeyers
Neil Crawford
Helm Publishing
3923 Seward Avenue, Rockford, IL 61108
0977820548 $12.95

Andy Clay was the youngest of the Clay boys born to Marybelle and Thomas. His life was good in his Alabama home; fishing by the creek, courting a young girl and being part of a loving family was his lot until that faithful day when it would change forever.

While traveling home from fishing Andy came upon Ben Reckeifus, a spoiled mean-spirited boy beating his slave Jonas almost to death. Andy, one who could not stand by and watch harm to an innocent person, tried to intervene which led to a terrible fight between himself and Ben. Ben ends up dead and his Ben's father, Caleb, swears to take the life of Andy in return.

Andy's family learning of his plan sends their son on a trip to a relative in Memphis fleeing for his very life. While on the way a killer, Ephraim Walker, whom Caleb Reckeifus has hired, tracks him down and just at the point of ending Andy's life Ephraim falls over dead, shot by a young girl named Cloris. Andy soon learns that 14-year old Cloris has also run away from a very sexually abusive father and is living alone in the woods. They become fast friends and Cloris joins Andy on his trip to Memphis.

After reaching Memphis Andy and Cloris rescue a boy named George who has been taken captive by a very evil man Rango, and his two partners. These men had killed George's parents and his sister and took George on their ship committing horrible deeds with the young boy. George feels he owes Andy and Cloris his life and they all quickly bond into a deep friendship. They soon decide to go to California and try their fate at finding gold. Once in California they pan for gold for a while, George finds a new talent to make considerable money and Andy almost loses his life before they decide to settle down and become farmers. All seems to go well until Rango and his men show-up and almost kill Cloris and George, and Andy receives his first letter from home. What a story.

I could go into detail on the many adventures of these three, the wonderful and scary people they meet along their travels and the bitter-sweet outcome of this outstanding novel, but believe me I would ruin an incredible treat of a read for you if I did. This is a book that has such outstanding main characters that you totally immerse yourself in them, feel their emotions and roll along with the story in a very personal way. The author's craft at bringing forth their inward hearts and binding them with yours is incredible and the way he blends the players along the way of their journey is top-notch. The locals are very descriptive which lends the reader's mind to full scale pictures that heighten the reading pleasure. Put it all together - descriptive characters, both those you love and those you hate, vivid mind pictures of local and one great story all make up for a book that is a real winner. This work absolutely has my highest recommendation. I loved it!

Nom De Plume
Toni LoTempio
Chippewa Publishing LLC
PO Box 662, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin 54729
1933400579 $6.00

Casey Catherine Farraday has a dream that will soon become a reality in this quick paced down-to-earth enjoyable book by author Toni LoTempio. Casey may be a secretary by day but her heart is that of an author and our story begin when the famous McCarron Publishing company decides they want her new novel, Steam Heat.

However there is a problem that may well be the end of Casey's dreams instead of the beginning. June, Casey's agent, insisted that Casey use her initials instead of her full name and now editor Celia Dayton is pushing the novel thinking the author is a man and fully intending to exploit an author she apparently has taken an extreme interest in, just from the read. Now Casey and her agent must come up with a plan or face the possible rejection of her novel. To complicate the matter the owner of the publishing house has just passed and left everything to her playboy son Preston Frawley who is trying to turn his life around and make his mother's publishing house shine. Preston feels the story of this book is too close to the truth of his own life and his instincts tell him something isn't right with the author, but he doesn't know what it is. As fate would have it Preston and Casey meet neither knowing who the other is. What a monkey wrench this throws into the story as we travel along to the final showdown when Preston and Casey approach each other with the truth. Wow, what a mix of emotions.

Author Toni LoTempio has taken the age-old story of man meets woman and injected her own twist to bring a lively, fresh and absolutely enjoyable tale to life. She has colorful, interesting characters, romance and mystery, woes of deceit and even throws in the love of animals which I thought was a great add. This is a heartwarming story of a blooming love that leaves you with a smile on your face and the joy of believing dreams truly can come true despite some unnerving obstacles. Well done Ms. LoTempio!

Check Your Pride at the Door
Darryl D. Helems, Ph.D.
Infinity Publishing
1094 New Dehaven St., Suite 100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428
0741435039 $11.95

When I was asked to review this work I was quite interested as I have several friends who are dealing with the medical problem that this book addresses, IBD-inflammatory bowel disease. Our author Darryl Helems takes you on the journey of his life bringing you to the point when he felt his first symptoms of this disorder to the present, and his battle with the same.

I have to tell you; I never realized how serious this condition could become, nor the torment that those suffering from it experience. Not only with the disease itself but often with the treatment. Our author does an outstanding job in touching the emotional side along with the medical of this condition allowing you to realize the life of an IBD person. I will tell you this; I definitely will have more compassion on those who are suffering from IBD and understand the courage it takes for them to face and live each day with an often embarrassing misunderstood condition.

If you, or someone you love is suffering with IBD this book will be a jewel for you; and for those of you who are fortunate enough to never have had this touch your lives you would do well to read this work to understand just how fortunate you are. Hats off to Darryl D. Helems, who had the courage to discuss some hard phases of this disease and also offers some great tips to help you along the way. Good job!

The Dirt-Brown Derby
Ed Lynskey
Mundania Press
6470A Glenway Avenue #109, Cincinnatti, Ohio 45211-5222
1594262322 $12.00

Our main character, PI Frank Johnson, in this quick-witted fast paced mystery read is a no-nonsense, often coarse speaking man who says what he has to say and does what he has to do. Definitely the kind of man you may not want to bring home to meet the family but you would want on your side in any investigation. PI Johnson is somewhat down on his luck financially so when he is hired by Mary Taliaferro, a very wealthy owner of a horse estate who forks over a hefty sum for his services, he simply cannot walk away although a murder investigation is not something he particularly wants to get into.

Ms. Taliaferro's teenage daughter Emily has died, killed by her horse it is said. The police call it a horrible accident, Mary calls it murder and PI Johnson at first figures this will be a cut and dry case, but he is sadly mistaken. He quickly learns not all the characters in this town are what they appear to be, including Emily who PI Johnson learns was having an affair with her horse trainer who becomes a the prime suspect in PI Johnson's mind, that is until he turns up dead as well. All leads seem to come to a halt but Johnson will not give up even though the local Sheriff wants him out of town and he must deal with other local riff-raft who only complicate his life.

The plot and heat of this murder gets hotter by the page and the reader wonders just what did happen to Emily. The plot is twisted, as only a good mystery read would be, leading you here there and everywhere but to the truth; I don't think you'll guess the ending of this one. Frank is determined to find out the answer and in doing so putting his own life in grave danger. Quite a roller coaster read and one that will keep you glued to the pages from beginning to end.

Mr. Lynskey does a great job in defining his characters and bringing them to life. From PI Johnson to the local Sheriff and townspeople, right down to Mary, Emily's mother, they are brought alive in your minds eye; and along with his descriptive clarity of the local you are able to bring the entire story to life visually which is always a plus in any read. Our author certainly is proving to be one top-notch writer in the mystery realm and has kept this reviewer satisfied with each work I have reviewed. Another good job Mr. Lynskey!

Fatal Laws
Jim M. Hansen
Dark Sky Publishing, Inc.
121 Bradley Street, Golden, Co. 80401
0976924366 $13.95

I wondered with great anticipation what I would find between the covers of Jim Hansen's new work, "Fatal Law." I have come to love detective Bryson Coventry, a Denver homicide detective who is one of the main players in each of our author's great works. Detective Coventry is soon faced with bodies turning up in shallow graves each killed in a different manner. Coventry, certainly faced with a dilemma, must find out if there is more than one killer running around or did just one killer like to change his murderous ways with each new victim. The hunt is on.

It also seems our detective has become quite involved with a very wealthy, beautiful, mysterious lady who herself, to his dismay, is under suspicion. You can't help but wonder if our detective is falling under her spell and just how good a thing that maybe! Could this woman be our detective's downfall? We'll have to wait and see on that one.

The investigation proceeds and we meet a man, Degan, whose soul is black, whose conscience is empty and whose lust is for money. His part in the many murders is only that, a part, as he gathers up humans as one would pick dust off the floor. Once chosen by him their life is over and one is left to wonder who is behind this sinister work and why?

It is very difficult to tell you the story of this book without revealing the plot so I will go no further in my story summary other than to tell you it is a murderous mystery of the deadliest kind. True to form, our author has once again penned a mystery that will keep your heart racing and your mind struggling to figure out the evil behind the hideous deaths. As usual, and what I have come to expect from his work, he has paid careful consideration insuring every element that makes up a mystery of depth is covered, played upon, exciting your senses and making you hunger for more.

One thing I must mention, this work is somewhat graphic sexually and there maybe those who would be uncomfortable with some of the detailed sexual activity and some of the words used. However, I do believe Mr. Hansen has written this as so to show the mindset of the characters in this work, and believe me these characters are anything but honorable and pure. The description of each character is defined, their physical form noted, their mental attitude given, bringing them vividly to life in your mind's eye.

Ending this review I'd like to say that this is a top-notch mystery read, but more than that, it is a story of a hideous crime that I believe may actually take place in our society and lie hidden under the protection of evil. A page turner, shivering read that will chill you to the bone and one you will silently pray is indeed fiction.

Shadow Laws
Jim Michael Hansen
Dark Sky Publishing, Inc.
Golden, Co. 80401
097692434X $13.95

One of the marks of a great series writer is the ability to connect the reader with one principle character from one work to another. The character must be strong, he or she becomes the readers recognition of the author's work and one that the reader knows will be the pivot point of the entire storyline. In the same token each story must be able to stand alone and such is the case with the writings of Jim Michael Hansen. To me, this is the mark of an exceptional writer. Author Jim Hansen has accomplished this task in his second work, "Shadow Laws, " by drawing us again into the work and life of Homicide detective Byson Coventry as he begins a hunt for yet another killer of innocent young women. We are comfortable knowing our detective yet if this is our first read of this outstanding author's work, we are drawn into the life of Coventry by his defined descriptive writing of Coventry's character, life and occupation.

In the beginning of our read we are witnessed to a fatal car accident caused by a careless couple who hide their hideous crime; we will not be told how this interweaves with the story at this time, but you will be shocked how important this event becomes. We travel to Denver and meet Taylor Sutton, Esq. and her friend Nick who informs her that he needs her help with a delicate matter.

He has a mysterious client, one who he has only talked with on the phone, although he has taken his retainer. Now he feels this same man is trying to kill him and he doesn't know why. He has taped their conversations and wants to know if it would be against client privileges to take these tapes to the police as he feels he maybe a killer. However, the client never actually admits to killing anyone but the undertone that he has is there. Chilling!

We are then taken into the life of Detective Coventry; a young woman is missing. Perhaps she has only decided to take a few days off away from everyone, but Coventry knows deep in his gut that this is not the case. Soon we are in the midst of the chase for a very sick man who likes to play games with the police, attorneys and the women that he kills. He is a self-made star and a man to be feared, one who is exceptional in leaving no clues, nothing left to chance. Creepy!

The storyline twists and turns, rounds corners and comes to dead-end streets as you desperately try to piece together how all the characters are interwoven with our killer and each other. And it doesn't stop there as our detective becomes involved with a woman who is the neighbor of the missing girl. There is a problem however, as this woman seems to have a secret past, and Coventry, like it or not, must find out what that is. One point I feel I should mention is that this work is a little more racy sexually than the first, however it does not take away from the suspense or storyline of this book. Every character that our author brings into play in this work is important to the story, yet believe me you will not be able to figure out why until the very end.

"Shadow Laws, " is fast paced, a work that is ingenious at keeping the reader totally in the dark and absolutely shocking as the truth is revealed. As you read it, mysteries are layered one upon another, characters are interwoven, yet separate, and answers seem to be totally out of reach as the clock ticks away until the final hour where death may well become the victor. A nail-biter, page turner read, one that has all the elements that simply must be there for a top-notch murder mystery. Draw the shades, leave the lights on and double lock the doors as you settle back for a bone-chilling adventure. Outstanding and Exceptional! Highly recommended!

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Street Smarts from Christian Martial Arts
J. Brown
Agapy Publishing
1023 Woodberry Ln., Charleston, IL 61920
0972132856 $14.95

Street Smarts from Christian Martial Arts: 40 Life Lessons from a Karate Master is a compilation of forty inspirational vignettes of wisdom and experience by author J. Brown, a sixth degree black belt and devout Christian. J. Brown exhorts that self-defense is far more than simply warding off physical attack; it is a life attitude of being mindful of one's own actions to keep oneself out of dangerous situations. Street Smarts from Christian Martial Arts addresses not only how the author dealt with bullying and other difficult situations - such as how he defused a potential fight in a seedy bar when he was confronted by a tough guy with seven friends - but also the spiritual dimension of faith in Jesus Christ as protection against the "fatal blow of the devil." "No matter what we do, how good we get, or how hard we try, we will always fall short of the perfection necessary to get into Heaven. Luckily, we have Jesus, the ultimate self-defense master. He came to win the battle over sin and death... By believing in Jesus and placing our faith in His power, we can be assured of spiritual victory." A profound blend martial arts and Christian insights into dealing with the harsh realities of life, highly recommended.

Secure in Heart
Robin Weidner
Discipleship Publications International
300 Fifth Avenue, Fifth floor, Waltham, MA 02451
1577822072 $15.00

Written by Robin Weidner, an international speaker for Christian women's groups, Secure in Heart: Overcoming Insecurity in a Woman's Life is a guide to attaining security in one's heart through knowing who God is, who Jesus is, and who oneself is. Drawing upon the author's life as personal testimonial, Secure in Heart discusses how to spot Satan's false securities, and the flaws of being so self-reliant or self-protective as to shut out one's need for God, a condition as spiritually harmful as being so dependent or helpless as to be unable to turn toward or trust God. Stressing the importance of trusting in God as rescuer and allowing God to be one's guide, Secure in Heart is a deeply spiritual Christian resource, written out of the author's devotion and genuine desire to spread the security and peace that come from embracing God.

Pentecostal Healing
Kimberly Ervin Alexander, Ph.D.
Deo Publishing
c/o Presbyterian Publishing Corp.
100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, KY 40202
9058540316 $24.95

Kimberly Ervin Alexander (Assistant Professor of Historical Theology, Church of God Theological Seminary, Cleveland Tennessee) explores the influence of the nineteenth-century healing movement and applies inductive reasoning in her examination of early Pentecostal periodical literature in Pentecostal Healing. Chapters discuss and analyze the hermeneutics of the movement and underlying theological presumptions, healing theology in practice both in years past and the modern day, and theological reflections from trinitarian, pneumatological, christological/soteriological, ecclesiological, and eschatological viewpoints. A methodical treatment of the nuances of a complex aspect of modern and early modern Christian history.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

Rebirth of a Realist
David Truskoff
Sidney T. Black Publishing
9 Sutton Drive, North Granby, CT 06060
1413438873 $21.99

Today isn't the first time in American history that a majority of the citizenry are thoroughly disenchanted with the performances and representatives of the Democrat and Republican political parties. But the pessimism of the American electorate has rarely been as pervasive or as deep as it is today. David Truskoff's "Rebirth of a Realist: Voices From History 'America Save Yourself'" is a clarion call for political and social realists to save the very soul of our country from the right-wing generated decisions, policies, practices, and imperatives that have resulted in America's dysfunctional foreign relations and deteriorating domestic social conditions. David Truskoff writes with an articulate reasoning that is as engaging as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, laced with illustrative examples and sage insight, "Rebirth of a Realist" offers a political discourse that deserves the widest readership possible if our country is to prosper ethically, socially, and politically at home and abroad.

Champagne And Caviar Again?
Joey Green, Debbie Green, Alan Corcoran
Lunatic press
PO Box 4571, West Hills, Ca 91308
0977259005 $8.95

The wealthy are not like ordinary folk – they have a lot more money!! But being rich does have its drawback and the team of Joey Green, Debbie Green, and Alan Corcoran have spared no expense in ferreting them out!. They may live in luxury, but they have their problems. Such as when the Houston Astros play the Baltimore Orioles, not knowing who to root for because of owning them both. Paparazzi having no respect for privacy. Not being able to fit any more cares into a 24-car garage. Having box seats for the entire opera season and being expected to stay awake through every performance. A belly chuckling read of the first magnitude, "Champagne And Caviar Again?" is the perfect gift for those who aspire to becoming wealthy themselves one day.

The Joy of Fundraising
Terry Axelrod
2100 North Pacific Street, Seattle, WA 98103
0970045565 $19.95

Written by Terry Axelrod, The Joy of Fundraising: How to Stop Suffering and Start Enjoying Asking for Money for Your Favorite Cause is a guide to transforming one's focus and tap into the natural desire to give. Both a cathartic source to kindle zest for fundraising work in the reader, and a practical advice guide for rationally and emotionally connecting with potential donors, The Joy of Fundraising divides itself into three main sections respectively devoted on shifting one's thinking, focus, and actions toward cultivating a more positive and successful fundraising environment. A valuable tool and personal testimony, especially recommended for employees of charities or anyone seeking to renew the drive to seek donations for a cause.

Female Suicide Bombers
Rosemarie Skaine
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
0786426152 $35.00 1-800-253-2187

Sociologist Rosemarie Skaine presents Female Suicide Bombers, a scholarly collective profile of women recruited to deliberately and knowingly sacrifice their lives in violent acts. Female Suicide Bombers discusses female suicide bombers and conflicts within Lebanon, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Chechnya, Israel and Palestine; the role of Islam and Islamic organizations or leaders in recruiting and controlling suicide bombers; and suicide bombers of other religions or a secular base. Female Suicide Bombers recognizes that suicide bombers in general do not operate as individuals, but rather at the behest of organizations, and explores the scope and training methods of these organizations accordingly. Most importantly, Female Suicide Bombers meticulously deconstructs numerous Western myths and societal biases that impede understanding of the true nature of these acts of war and/or terrorism, and suggests ways in which the world needs to adapt and prepare itself to confront terrorism in the future. A heavily researched, professional, and up-to-date treatment of a singularly serious topic.

Paul T. Vogel

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

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