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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 9, Number 7 July 2010 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

A Feminine Manifesta
Lily Hills & Karen Hudson
Privately Published
9780615354330, $18.95,

Women face a lot of pressure, and a lot of it may be manufactured by themselves. "A Feminine Manifesta" is a discussion of what it means it be a woman in today's world and the many questions and pressures that they face. Gender identity, the struggle of doing what is expected versus what feels balanced, the urge to succeed and support a family, and so much more. "A Feminine Manifesta" is a fascinating and very highly recommended read that shouldn't be missed by any woman overwhelmed by the demands of the modern world.

Remembering the Ladies
Ann Covell
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432754020, $18.95,

The contributions of women aren't as celebrated, but they are still there. "Remembering the Ladies: A Century of U. S. First Ladies" looks at the first hundred years of the position of first lady, looking into the lives and contributions of the first ladies of the later eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, telling a story of America from a very different perspective, providing much insight into the role of woman in early America. "Remembering the Ladies" is a choice read and solidly recommended pick.

Game-Day Youth
Suzy Beamer Bohnert
Privately Published
9781450709521, $13.00

To speak the game, you need to know the language. "Game-Day Youth: Learning Baseball's Lingo" is a guide to understanding baseball and its many related aspects. Aimed at children who want to get more involved with the sport, "Game-Day Youth" is a fine gift to any aspiring young athlete.

Women! Get The Material Things You Really Want From Men
Dema Shamel
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440166884 $12.95

Women! Get The Material Things You Really Want From Men is a different type of relationship guide for women. It is about learning how to form a romantic relationship that is not grounded in love, but rather in practicality. The advice within is not necessarily about exploiting or manipulating men, but rather about forging a solid relationship with benefits on both sides - it's just that love does not have to be one of those benefits (and it is presumed that material wealth is the primary benefit that the woman is after). "Lying is not a part of getting what you want from men. You will only tell them what you want them to know and what pertains to them. You should only spend time with a man whom you genuinely like something about. Don't ever consider yourself to be cheating on anyone, because your relationships should be casual, unless you have discussed exclusivity. If you do commit yourself to one of these gentlemen, own up to it, be honest with him, and treat him how you want to be treated." The advice of Women! Get The Material Things You Really Want From Men is potentially useful even for women who are looking for love - in particular, the tips on what types of men to avoid, how to be alluring, how to firmly and respectfully end an insufficient relationship, and how to keep one's emotions from pushing one into self-destructive behavior are invaluable. However, the intended audience is unquestionably those women who are searching for material comforts first and foremost. A fascinating read cover to cover, regardless of one's personal relationship aspirations.

The Circle of Life
Joanne Aaronson
Josan Press
9780984365807, $15.95,

Even with death, you can still form bonds. "The Circle of Life: A Journey Through Grief to Understanding" is a memoir from Joanne Aaronson as she reflects on her own bonds with her father who in life, she was distant from and how after his tragic death, she learned that there was something stronger between them that she didn't see. Thoughtful and thought provoking for grieving readers, "The Circle of Life" is a choice pick.

Vampire Theory
Lily Caracci
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432754631, $25.95,

Vampires entice people by being both human and monster at the same time. "Vampire Theory" tells the tale of Emalyn Archer as she finds herself armed with only her wits and her best friend who may turn lover, against an approaching league of Vampires out for her small town. Faced with certain doom, she must go to extremes to leave with her humanity as intact as possible. "Vampire Theory" is an exciting thriller that will give Vampire lovers a lot to enjoy.

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

Mastering The Craft Of Sausage Making
Warren R. Anderson
Burford Books, Inc.
32 Morris Avenue, Springfield, NJ 07081
9781580801553, $19.95,

Warren R. Anderson draws upon his many years of experience and expertise in "Mastering the Craft of Making Sausage" to compile an authoritative 320-page compendium of instruction on the culinary art and science of making sausages in a diversity of forms including bratwurst, loukanika, kielbasa, chorizo, salami, Vienna sausage, knockwurst, bologna, and more! Every aspect of the process is thoroughly covered including: the selection of equipment and supplies; grinding, mixing and stuffing; cooking and smoking. The making of fresh sausage, cured sausage, emulsified sausage, and fermented-style sausage are covered in detail. Thoroughly 'user friendly', "Mastering the Craft of Making Sausage" is a superbly written and presented instructional guide and a highly recommended addition to personal and community library reference collections.

Saving The Seasons
Mary Clemens Meyer & Susana Meyer
Herald Press
616 Walnut Avenue, Scottsdale, PA 15683-1999
9780836195125, $24.99,

The Mennonite community has long been known for its self-reliance, hard-work, and appreciative exploitation of the crops they grow and the animals they raise. As in all rural agricultural societies an emphasis was placed on preserving foods for use in the winter months through the processes of canning, dehydration, and freezing. Now those practices and laid out in a particularly impressive instruction manual from Herald Press: "Saving The Seasons: How To Can, Freeze, Or Dry Almost Anything". This profusely and beautifully illustrated, 288-page instructional guide is the collaborative work of Mary Clemens Meyer and Susana Meyer. Informed, informative, and thoroughly 'user friendly', "Saving The Seasons" will enable even the most novice of kitchen cooks to successfully utilize their own gardens and local farmer's markets to preserve fruits, vegetables, herbs, and more! An invaluable instructional guide, "Saving The Seasons" is a very strongly recommended addition to personal, family, and community library food preservation reference collections.

The Moment of Truth
Mark O'Neal
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781451575019, $9.95

One's life can turn upside down at the blink of an eye. "The Moment of Truth" tells the tale of Maurice Ousley as he's faced with a Hollywood crush, a crippled relationship, and how he has a target on his head from criminals. The pressure builds as he's faced with his own All-Star basketball game on top of it all. "The Moment of Truth" is a riveting work, well worth considering.

The Journey Takers
Leslie Albrecht Huber
Privately Published
c/o Ingram, Baker & Taylor (distribution)
9780578052144 $19.95

The Journey Takers is the true story author Leslie Albrecht Huber's ancestors, from their emigration from Germany, Sweden and England to the trials and travails they endured while seeking to build a new life for themselves in America. Thousands of hours of research enable Huber to reconstruct a deeply personal, profoundly vivid picture of challenges these men and women faced. Extensive notes and a list of sources round out this captivating portrayal, solidly grounded in reference yet written as smoothly flowing as a novel. Highly recommended.

Intellectual Property and Sustainable Development
Ricardo Melendez-Ortiz
Pedro Roffe, editors
Edward Elgar Publishing
9 Dewey Court, Northampton, MA 01060-3815
9781848446458, $215.00,

In this post-industrial 'information age' intellectual property is as valuable as real estate holdings or gold reserves were in earlier eras. With the technological advances in accessing and distributing information, the need to protect intellectual properties is paramount in both the corporate and the political spheres. The newest addition to the impressive 'Elgar Intellectual Property and Global Development' from Edward Elgar Publishing, "Intellectual Property and Sustainable Development: Development Agendas in a Changing World" is a 459-page compendium cooperatively compiled and edited by Ricardo Melendez-Ortiz (Co-founder and Chief Executive and Pedro Roffe, Senior Fellow, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, Switzerland) and Pedro Roffe (Senior Fellow, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, Switzerland) featuring informed and informative perspectives from an impressive roster of academicians and experts on a range of intellectual property issues from international case studies drawn from Africa, Asia, Central America, and the Middle East. Enhanced with an extensive bibliography and a comprehensive index, "Intellectual Property and Sustainable Development" is a seminal work that is especially recommended for academic, corporate, and governmental reference libraries in general, and the reading lists of policy-makers, trade negotiators, and intellectual property attorneys in particular.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

It Simply Must be Said
Hank Warren
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440134005, $19.95,

It's easiest to find the problems at their foundation. "It Simply Must be Said: A View of American Public Education from the Trenches of Teaching" is a teacher making his own argument for the reformation of the many problems that plague the educational system at the lowest levels and how they end up creeping upwards. With a wide variety of education, "It Simply Must Be Said" is a choice pick for those looking for an opinion of a teacher on the matters of educational reform.

Homeboy's Soul
Don Armijo & Fred Stawitz
Publish America
P.O. Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705
SM Storymakers, Inc. (publicity)
PO Box 91338, Houston, TX 77291-1338
9781448979691, $19.95,

In some areas of America, the law has turned away, leaving people to find their own justice. "Homeboy's Soul: Pride, Terror, & Street Justice in America" tells a story of the barrio, where many Hispanic people faced life in the ghettos, faced with gang violence and the blind eye of the law. Don Armijo brings readers his own experiences where he saw many people close to him die violent deaths. "Homeboy's Soul" is a choice pick for those wanting insight on the plight of the Los Angeles Underworld.

Fully Involved
Jackson Harris
Privately Published
9781448662432, $15.99

Following in the footsteps of your father does have its own problems. "Fully Involved" is the saga of the Jackson family, a family of firefighters. When the middle generation is consumed in a fire which has shady issues all over it, the truth begins a whirlwind that turns the Jackson family against one another, and it's something only the truth will be able to fix. "Fully Involved" is an intriguing read, not to be overlooked.

Making Peasants into Kings
Jay C. Powell
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Smith Publicity (publicity)
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781449006341, $19.99,

The only lord one should answer to is oneself. "Making Peasants into Kings" is an inspirational guide from Dr. Jay C. Powell who provides his opinions on how to better oneself, stating that many people become peasants under the king's of the world, obeying to their whims and never striving for better. He urges people to become kings of their lives, and instructs them on how. "Making Peasants into Kings" is an intriguing and fascinating read which shouldn't be overlooked.

Amos and the Cosmos
Alan Schwartz
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Smith Publicity (publicity)
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781440190001, $18.95,

Truth is not something easily found. "Amos and the Cosmos: A Rollicking Journey Through America's Heart and Soul" is a novel following the life-finding journey of Amos, as he tries to figure out where he came from by traveling through America during a time of social upheaval and the rage against the war on Vietnam. "Amos and the Cosmos" is a choice read for any general fiction reader, highly recommended.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Margaret Fell And The End Of Time
Sally Bruyneel
Baylor University Press
PO Box 97363, Waco TX 76798
9781602580626, $39.95,

Margaret Fell was one of the seminally important figures of the 17th Century religious movement popularly known as 'Quakers'. "Margaret Fell and the End of Time: The Theology of the Mother of Quakerism" by Sally Bruyneel (Instructor in the Department of History and Theology, Luther Seminary, and the Department of Religion, Augsburg College) focuses upon Fell's role as a prophetic figure and theologian whose writings influenced her contemporaries within the Quaker movement. Providing a methodical and insightful analysis of Fell's writings on a spectrum orthodox Christian subjects, "Margaret Fell and the End of Time" is a 230-page compendium revealing how Fell was influenced by Biblical apocalyptic literature, her advocacy for the spiritual equality of women, and her vigorous support of the Quaker 'testimony of peace'. Informed and informative, "Margaret Fell and the End of Time" is a significant work of scholarship that is especially recommended for academic library Christian Historical Studies reference collections in general, and Quaker History supplemental reading lists in particular.

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

The faith of Christianity has often been used as a tool. "The Magdalen" is a novel offering Bonnie Jones Reynolds interpretation of the Christian faith, offering a differing take on the life of Christ and a Jesus with a more positive message fo humanity. Thoughtful and thought provoking as well as a fun read, "The Magdalen" is a read that shouldn't be missed by Christian fiction readers.

First Trip
Cheryl Taylor
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
The Avenal Chimes (publicity)
505 E. Ventura St., Avenal, CA 93204
9781449074937, $18.49,

The allure of life away a home always can turn bad quick. "First Trip: Sex, Drugz, and Rock & Roll in the 70'z" is a novel telling of Dawn, as she embarks on life at the young age of 14 and finds that life has no shortage of surprises for her out on the road. From cannibals to bikers to the many brands of love, "First Trip" is a remarkable and fun coming of age story that shouldn't be missed.

Romance in Jamaica
Pauline Patricia Hong
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781434362490, $19.99,

Love is tumultuous as is when there are only two people involved, and when you add more, it only gets more intriguing. "Romance in Jamaica" is the story of Pauline Edwards, a college student who gives in to temptations to have a relationship with her boss - while still having a boyfriend. But she isn't the only one giving in, and the amorous relations all around make her life very complicated. "Romance in Jamaica" is a fun and titillating read.

Sophie Redesigned
Karen Dahood
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432753443, $14.95,

When you're bored, that's a fact that's not going to change until you reinvent your life. "Sophie Redesigned: A Sophie and Sam Mystery" tells the tale of Sophie, an elder woman who strikes out on her own as a freelance detective, and finds herself embroiled in a mystery of cults, corporate corruption, and how they all tie together. A fun read of two senior citizens facing the world and the worst of it, "Sophie Redesigned" is a choice pick for older mystery fans.

Keepers of the Attic Door
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432724078, $18.95,

The truth doesn't always make life easier. "Keepers of the Attic Door" tells the story of Katherine Hamilton, who tries to adapt to her new life, and finds that her nights are not the most normal of events. She finds her dreams have a bit more reality to them then she thought, finding a whole other world that lies beneath it all. "Keepers of the Attic Door" is a fun and entertaining tale, not to be missed.

Living with Intense and Creative Adolescents
Lisa Rivero
Great Potential Press
PO Box 5057, Scottsdale, AZ 85261
9780910707992, $16.95,

A creative calling is something that may strike as a teenager. "Living with Intense and Creative Adolescents: A Parent's Guide to Gifted Teens" is a guide to the driven teenager, who parents who can commonly be overwhelmed in trying to understand and how to work with them to give them the creative freedom they need while still pushing them to become respectable adults. "Living with Intense and Creative Adolescents" is an invaluable resource for the parent who wants to help their child in their creative endeavors.

A Spark in Time
Linette Bruno
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432729684, $12.95,

Beloved by her contemporaries, Muriel Spark never got the credit she deserved. "A Spark in Time" discusses the novels of Dame Muriel Spark, as Linette Bruno combines a literary discussion of her work as she discusses both the life and the creations of Muriel. For those who want to know who this former star of the British literary scene was, "A Spark in Time" is a worthwhile choice.

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

Veil of Justice
Regan Black
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781452828138 $11.99

In 2096 in Chicago, undercover agent Nathan Burkhardt is captured and held in solitary confinement as prisoner B-21187 by Dr. Leo Kristoff, whose illegal genetic experiments have him believing he is the Creator. His guards are assigned to break B-21187, but they are ignorant of his link to sanity. He has telepathic trysts he dreamingly shares with Kelly when she sleeps. However, she has severed their ties and without them he has no hope

His sisters Petra Callahan and Jaden Thomas search for him by searching for Petra's missing assistant Kelly who is "dead" from any one's radar. Kelly had disappeared with Nathan's Mustang six months ago and her history goes back only five years. The target of the two siblings wants to die since the tragedy that engulfed her family resulted in the deaths of her father and six brothers. Meanwhile the growing power of the demon goddess Nin continues unabated as she is the one who sent her minion who killed the Guardian- family but failed to retrieve the ancient artifacts they protected and she covets. One adult Guardian remains; Calisto the sister-daughter sent away because females are never Guardians, but she changed her identity five years ago.

The third Shadows of Justice recurring late twenty-first century fantasy thriller is a great entry that moves the lead from Jaden and Brian the cop (see Judge Incarnate) and Petra with Gideon the cop (see Invasion of Justice) to their brother's undercover tale. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that a desperate Nathan fears his mind will wither until he goes insane if he fails to reconnect telepathically with his sanity link Kelly who has her own deity issues. Readers will relish this terrific tale that stands alone; as the Shadows of Justice series is one of the best futuristic urban fantasies on the market today

Home Dead for Christmas
Tony Fenelly
9781442133341 $12.95

In 1998 in New Orleans, elderly affluent Cyril Jessup orders gossip columnist Margo Fortier to come see him at his mansion. He shows her a picture from three decades ago in which she and three other strippers are with his son, a soldier who died in Viet Nam shortly after the photo was taken. Now Glen Charles Watley claims to be his grandson, sired with one of the girls in the photograph. Glen has DNA testing affirming his assertion. Cyril hires Margo to investigate which of the two other white girls is Glen's mother; he eliminated the black female and Margo's history is easy to find out.

In 1970, Margo, Coffee, Patsy and Conchita stripped as well as tended bar at Madame Julie's. They befriended a soldier Gerald who was deploying shortly to Vietnam. .By the end of the month, they went their separate ways. When Glen's former girlfriend from Minnesota shows up and is murdered, Margo wonders why.

Home Dead for Christmas is an entertaining historical tale that evolves in the latter half into a murder mystery. The story line looks deeply at the French Quarter at a time when silicon had a different meaning than in 1998 (and today). With an enjoyable late twist that fans will anticipate, readers fans will relish Tony Fenelly's fine historical thriller as 1970 and 1998 come across vividly yet so differently.

Red Hood's Revenge
Jim C. Hines
DAW Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756406080, $7.99,

As a child, Roudette witnessed the Hunt murder her grandmother. That was the impetus into turning her into the cold calculating assassin, Little Lady of the Red Hood.

Roudette's current kill is Princess Talia better known as Sleeping Beauty. However, the trail to the royal leads Red to Talia's two regal pals, Princesses Danielle (Cinderella) and Snow (White). The three royals have come a long way but each vows one for all and all for one as they unite to find the individual who hired Red Hood. Their quest takes them to Arathea where Talia remains wanted for murdering the prince who awakened her from her slumber.

The latest Hines' royal treatment of female stars of fairy tale classics (see The Stepsister Scheme and The Mermaid's Madness) is a terrific fantasy that contains plenty of action and adventure, but also a much deeper look at the desires, motives and mental barriers of the lead trio than previously. Fast-paced, the somewhat thin plot focuses on Roudette's hunting of Talia who prefers to take the fight to the queen of assassins. Readers will enjoy the latest escapades while wondering who will sleep with whom; as the four ladies know for ever after is found exclusively in fairy tales.

M.R. Sellars
Willow Tree Books
100 Manchester Ave., Westminster, MD 21157
9780979453366 $16.95

Annalise Deveraux was the previously unknown half sister of witch Felicity O'Brien. Unlike her half-sibling, Annalise practiced voodoo using blood magic and invited the spirit of Miranda into her body. Miranda died over a century and a half ago; she was a sexual sadist who relished pain and murder. Annalise, at least what is still her as Miranda owns the shared body, are in a mental institution.

Miranda plots to leave the body shell of Annalise and enter the body of Felicity. The only reason she fails so far to enter her new body is Rowan Grant prevents her. Like his wife Felicity, Rowan is also a practicing witch; but unlike her he can also communicate with the dead. He visits Annalise in order to confront Miranda, but she makes him lose control, which causes Felicity to have unnatural desires from her corporal usurper. Miranda jumps out of Annalise's body and cuts off Rowan's communication with the dead. She kills enough people to insure she has enough power to retake Felicity's body as she has d one before (see All Acts of Pleasure). She succeeds, but family friends repel her leaving Felicity in a child like state and Rowan willing to do anything to get her soul back into her body.

Rowan Grant stars in another strong St. Louis urban fantasy as the evil Miranda returns to cause havoc (see the Miranda trilogy). Rowan has worked the ethereal plane before, but when it comes to the vicious Miranda, he knows it is personal as he wants her out of his wife's body and their lives forever. Character driven, the lead couple shares a common belief to do what they believe is right even when it goes against the norm. M.R. Sellars has written another superb magical horror mystery thriller as one of the best villainesses of the last decade co-stars with Rowan and Felicity in a triangle from hell.

Prospect Park West
Amy Sohn
Downtown Press
c/o Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781416577652, $15.00,

The gentrified yuppie population has invaded Park Slope in Brooklyn. There they file away in Co-ops that cost a fortune. Most are filled rage and boredom; at least the mommy yuppies are; who knows what the daddy yuppies are doing across the bay in Manhattan.

On the playgrounds and cafes, the mothers meet to commiserate their impotency. Abandoned Rebecca's attempts to seduce her spouse fail because he prefers fatherhood over spousal-hood. Lonely Lizzie leans increasingly to returning to lesbianism as her roadie spouse is never home. Ennui Karen finds living in the borough too limited to a social climber ready to take Wall St. Actress Melora misses Manhattan where her myriad of mental phobias are eccentric while here in the burb they are psychotic.

This is an interesting satirical mommy lit starring four women with differing issues. Each comes across as their own person and the oft-referenced neighborhood provides strong background to their plight. Although the well written story line focuses deeply on each mommy's psyche in a lampooning amusing way; their individual sexual and kiddy plights seem shallow when each makes it feel as if the end of days has begun. Still sub-genre fans will want to visit Prospect Park West to see how the yuppie moms cope.

Going in Circles
Pamela Ribon
c/o Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th floor, New York, NY 10020
9781416503866 $15.00,

When Matthew Goodman walked out on his wife Charlotte, she was stunned as in her mind his ending their marriage came of nowhere as she thought she was his "Sunshine" even when she struggled to get out of bed in the morning. Matthew decides to come back home after a few weeks as a bachelor Charlotte struggles with his return.

Fuming with resentment as she had moved on in the phases of grief passed the denial stage to that of acceptance Charlotte walks out on a stunned Matthew. She moves into apartment to ponder whether she wants to remain married to her husband. However, she finds herself panicking over what she logically knows are nothings like weeping over a burrito while sitting on the curb. With anxiety and depression ruling her, Charlotte turns to creating her Plan in order to eliminate having to choose between taco and burrito, and most important no more shocking revelations as a to do list will provide her with security. Her family, her husband, her friends, and her co-workers demand not so subtly she must choose to be married or not to be married. However her new office friend Francesca offers her something different to consider, physical release via roller derby for the soul.

This is an entertaining coming of age character study though the lead protagonist is a thirty year old nonentity. Charlotte is a fascinating protagonist whose lack of confidence leads to crippling anxiety attacks. Her husband never comes across as fully developed nor does his reasoning. The rest of the support cast supports the heroine as she skates around the oval of life trying to learn to get up from the bumps and bruises her skinny butt suffers with every hit she takes for that's life.

Hostage Zero
John Gilstrap
Pinnacle Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9780786020881, $6.99,

In Virginia, former marine now homeless Harvey Rodriguez finds the kid near death and tries to help Jeremy Schuler survive as he had been left for dead; his roommate Anthony at the school for children of jailed parents remains kidnapped. Not far away, posing as FBI Agent Leon Harris, freelance hostage rescuer Jonathan "Digger" Grave questions nineteen year old jailed prisoner Jimmy Henry while his associates Boxer and call me Ven-ee-chay" watch his progress and his back from different milieus. He tells the teen the associates who hired him they do not want any information re the kidnapping or shooting to get out so he will bust him out, but if betrays him he will kill him.

Digger and his team seek to save the lives of Jeremy and Anthony. The rescue expert is confused why these kids and others are being snatched as there is no ransom money available to make it worth kidnapping them. Thus they begin the quest with the only one caught: Jimmy Henry. However, though not one to put anything passed those in power, Grave is shocked when he realizes a connection between the government and the mob is behind the abductions.

This is an exciting thriller as the audience learns why the abductions occur, who the victims are, and what choices the older lads have between slave, overseer, or death. Fans will be hooked from the moment Digger goes after Jimmy and then his associates in what is a fast-paced action-packed tale as the hero and his teammates learn the hard way that the enemy kills with No Mercy to the innocent.

Torn Apart
Shane Gericke
9780786020393 $6.99

Four thugs working for child pornographer, white slaver and drug dealer Cash Maxximus kidnap a teen and have sex with her. They give her a designer drug named Katrina, which takes only one dose to make someone addicted. The foursome plays too rough and kills their victim. Without a thought they dispose of the corpse off a bridge in Wisconsin. When they stop to change a tire, local Sheriff Spencer Abbott checks them out; they kill him and dump his body into the river before leaving for Naperville, Illinois.

The Hawkman serial killer is sending body parts to Naperville Detective Emily Thompson Even though she is afraid she persuades her husband Marty to go hunting. . The leader of the crooks Karl Dittmer kidnaps the two children of Emily's partner; she rescues one of the kids, but the killer gets away with the other. NPD is on full search and rescue while detective Robert Hawkins needs one million dollars to save the life of his little girl through experimental therapy. He finesses the Katrina from Dittmer and sells it back to Maxximus. Marty finds Abbott who gives him the names of the killers while Emily is trapped by the Hawkman leading to another NPD officer rescue attempt.

Putting aside Naperville being the murder capital, the third police procedural (see Cut to the Bone and Blown Away) is a complicated thriller with several subplots that Shane Gericke effortlessly blends into a strong story line. The villains are perverts who have no qualms about molesting little girls before giving them to a sexual slave trader to sell to other psycho sex predators. Emily is a dedicated cop who will work outside of legal limitations if the case like these required extraordinary rendition.

Nic Pizzolatto
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781439166642, $25.00,

In 1987 forty year old tough guy mob enforcer Roy "Big Country" Cady had always believed nothing could harm him. He grew up in Texas only to watch his father fall to his death and his mother commit suicide. He took a job with his late dad's boss as a local enforcer and moved on to New Orleans. Now he learns differently as he finds out he has lung cancer.

Before he can cope, Roy's boss mobster Stan Ptitko assigns him a simple task; however Big Country senses something is not right and cautiously assumes he is being set up for a hit. His hunch proves right and so does his vigilance. Roy took out the hitmen the old fashion way by killing them while rescuing teenage whore Raquel "Rocky" Arceneaux. He takes her with him as he leaves New Orleans for his hometown Galveston. On the way Rocky convinces Roy to pick up her three years old sister Tiffany in remote Orange. He takes the two girls to Galveston where he puts them up in a motel while he becomes a one man crime wave who plans to finish by extorting money from his former fuming employer.

This is a terrific redemption tale as Roy the hard boiled killer tries to become the savior of two young females. The story line is filled with vivid gory action but character driven by mostly Roy, but to a lesser degree Rocky who the hitman hopes to save so that he has some solace before he dies. Although the segue involving two decades into the future take away from a powerful end of life effort to do the right thing one time in one's life, fans will relish the visit to Galveston.

As Husbands Go
Susan Isaacs
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781416573012, $25.00,

John and Susie Gersten live the perfect life with their four years old identical male triplets (Dashiell, Evan and Mason) in exclusive Shorehaven, Long Island. He is a thriving Manhattan plastic surgeon and she a floral designer although the income exclusively comes for his practice . They employ a housekeeper and two Norwegian au pairs.

However, the Gerstein family idyllic life ends abruptly when he is found murdered in the apartment of a high priced hooker. Susie rejects the NYPD-District Attorney's assertion that escort Dorinda Dillon killed her client with a scissor because the widow strongly believes her late spouse would not cheat on her. With the aid of her grandma Ethel, Susie investigates who killed her husband and why.

More of a sharp character study than an amateur sleuth; Susie's objective is not to free Dorinda, but to prove to her friends, family and the tabloids that her wonderful life was genuine. Her belief in her husband's fidelity is based on his treatment of her and his being a devoted loving father. Although the story line takes a while to set the table, Susie's account makes for a strong tale. The story line skewers the wealthy avaricious people who never have enough money; admonishes the legal system for settling for the easiest resolution; and bites the media for dumbing down reporting with sound bite analysis. Susan Isaacs provides a strong look at th e grimier side of the American dream.

Avner Hershlag
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440183874, $18.95,

Fertility expert Dr. Anya Krim has DC's leading women as her patients. Currently she is working with the First Lady Janet Cartwright trying to keep her client's embryos safe from DNA alteration and from anything else, natural or otherwise that could harm them. However, the case that intrigues her most besides her own desire for a child is that of the senator's comatose daughter Megan Tanner; the woman still in a coma for the last two years is pregnant.

Ethical and legal pressure mounts on Anya as her patients are reading about new unapproved techniques and making demands of her while the extremes of the political spectrum want to use her as a scapegoat to further their personal agendas. She understands the feelings of her patients as she too considers using some of these new untested medical breakthroughs on herself.

The key to this timely exhilarating medical thriller is that Dr. Avner Hershlag provides an insightful look at cutting edge fertility medicine without dumbing down or selecting a political agenda. With a strong lead character and a powerful support cast, aptly titled Misconception condemns the left and the right cherry picking information to defend their moral stance regardless of the victim of their so called ethnicity; the end defines the meanness of the means. Dr. Hershlag provides a winning profound look at what the health care debate ignored; the pressures a doctor faces in choosing the best care for a patient.

Bride of the Living Dead
Lynne Murray
Pearlsong Press
P.O. Box 58065, Nashville, TN 37205
9781597190206, $18.95,

San Francisco Indie Film Edge critic Daria MacClellan sort of attends her perfect sister Sky's perfect wedding. Sky's perfect plan excludes her overweight sibling as only size 5 is acceptable at her nuptials to Richard the perfect husband.

At the Camera Obscura Digitalis film festival showing of Top Soil Despair, Daria and Oscar Winslow meet when both find the inane flick amusing. They begin seeing each other, fall in love and plan to marry though her ex boyfriend, his ex girlfriend and his mom who would prefer a serial killer for a daughter-in-law. His teenage sisters on the other hand root for her. However, the worst intrusion comes from Sky, whose perfect happily perfect ever after has fallen apart. She becomes her sister's wedding planner from hell.

This is an entertaining jocular romance of a big woman with doubts that she can keep a hunk like Oscar until he admits he went to the movie in which they met when he saw her outside and followed her in to the theater. Character driven, Daria learns a lesson about the perfect perception caused by envy would have pleased tutor Pangloss of Candide with a nod to Joe. E. Brown as Osgood's final comment in Some Like It Hot. Living life large to some people is natural and they feel good in their own skin which is why Lynne Murray provides such an interesting tale of a picture perfect wedding.

The Sleeping Beauty
Mercedes Lackey
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373803156, $24.95,

Eltaria is an affluent kingdom that its neighbors covet favor from. Especially of interest is the unmarried Princess Rosamund. Following the death of her mom the shepherdess turned monarch, all anticipate the magical Tradition should soon force her into some sort of fairy tale adventure with her own county's aristocracy wanting to become her spouse and that of nearby nations hoping to work a pact through her marriage to one of their nobles.

Not long after her mom's death, Princess Rosa flees from the royal huntsman charged with killing her. Seven dwarves rescue her, but she drinks a poisonous potion that puts her to sleep. Viking Prince Siegfried tries to kiss her awake as heroes do. However, Rosa's fairy godmother (aside quote from my insightful nephew Jordan: "they don't make fairy godmothers like the y used to.") throws out the Tradition book when she insists on a contest to win the still top catch in the area. Rosa agrees to the games between contenders to her hand, but insists on setting the rules of the events.

The fifth Five Hundred Kingdoms fairy tale romance is an amusing entertaining tale that obviously follows for the most part The Sleeping Beauty legend but also includes pieces from other fables as Mercedes Lackey spins the original into a refreshingly new Tradition. Fast-paced and very jocular, the plot lacks the passion of previous entries like The Snow Queen, but is still fun as the insider fairy tale puns and jokes mindful of Shrek (with a nod to Puss N Boots for instance) make for a lighthearted frolic; the Three Stooges being Siegfried, Leopold and Luna the unicorn with Rosa playing the straight woman.

The Dragon Variation
Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781439133699, $12.00,

"Local Custom". His Liad clan Korval demands trader Er Thom yos'Galan marry an acceptable bride and sire the heir. Duty comes before desire as he loves unacceptable earthling Anne Davis; whose linguistic research has led to adversaries wanting her dead. He goes to say goodbye but is stunned when he meets his son Shan. Instead he brings his beloved Anne and their hybrid son to his clan where his mom makes it clear the outsider is unwelcome.

"Scout's Progress". Clan Korval demands master pilot Daav yos Phelium marry a Liaden he dislikes; her feelings are mutual and her clan loathes his for hosting an earthling abomination. At the same time revered mathematician Aelliana Caylon needs to escape the ire of her jealous brother. When she obtains a ship playing the odds, she decides to learn to fly so she can escape. Daav trains the woman worshipped by pilots everywhere due to her life-saving modifications to the ven'Tura Piloting Tables.

"Conflict of Honors". A decade ago the High Priestess of the Goddess declared teenage Priscilla Delacroix y Mendoza dead. Exiled, she until now she is the cargomaster on the Liaden vessel Daxflan. When she realizes that Captain Sav Rid Olanek has brought on board illegal drugs, she ignores it preferring not to get involved with anyone or anything. That fails to protect her as Olanek dumps her on a backwater planet with no funds and a revised history proclaiming her as a thief. Priscilla obtains help from Liaden Captain Shan yos'Galan of the Dutiful Passage. He teaches her to pilot while pursuing the Daxflan as he has a vendetta too; however Olanek has high level protection.

These first three exciting Liaden romantic science fictions tales contain similar story lines starring a woman unwanted except by a rogue Liaden pilot. Feeling in some ways like a Regency romantic suspense in outer space, fans will enjoy reading the opening acts in the Liaden Universe.

Mission of Honor
David Weber
9781439133613 $27.00

The seemingly endless war (a dozen books worth) between the Star Empire of Manticore and the Republic of Haven is finally drawing to a conclusion. The Manties have all but won. However, the Empire leadership believes the y must further cripple the enemy as they distrust the idea that the other side wants peace as they would not if the situation was reversed.

Admiral Honor Harrington is almost all alone amidst the top brass in her belief that the Republic wants to end the conflict. She leads a group to the Havenite system to negotiation the terms of peace. However, the peace in our times is devastated when a sneak attack on the Manticoran worlds occur while the Solarian League flexes its muscle at the same time as they distrust the apparent winner of the war especially when they claim the Manties have provoked them with vicious attacks.

Fans of military science fiction will be euphoric with the return of Harrington who struggles with political and military leaders and bureaucracies as too many of those chicken hawks in charge who never left the office cannot see passed their ambition to the horror of battle (think Cheney vs. Eisenhower). Fast-paced from start to finish, Honor works on a peace agreement when new conflations erupt. Once again David Weber provides a strong winner in one of the top sub-genre series as the aptly titled Mission of Honor takes readers on quite a spin.

The Shadows: The Books of Elsewhere
Jacqueline West
Dial Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780803734401, $16.99,

The Dunwoody family move into a fixer upper Victorian mansion left vacant when elderly Ms. McMartin died. Eleven year old Olive finds the house odd, but her mathematical minded parents see nothing out of the ordinary starting with the inability to remove the strange drawings from the wall, but upon a closer look she sees things moving inside the paintings.

Looking around the house, Olive finds glasses that she puts on for fun. Instead of blur, she realizes she enter the pictures and travel in a realm that sort of looks like her natural one, but seems shadowy and too quiet to the stunned tweener. Horatio the cat warns her not to stay too long in their world and never lose the glasses if she is on this side of the frame. Olive also meets raging Morton who claims he is from her side of the divide, but was thrown into the picture world because he knew too much. As she learns more about the house and its contents, Olive fears something evil wants to keep her silent in order for her not to reveal what the darkness wants to do to the light.

With illustrations from Poly Bernatene enhancing the strong haunted house mystery, Jacqueline West provides an exhilarating middle school age tale. Fast-paced, young readers will want to join courageous Olive as she investigates the goings-on inside the painting world and the house, but is unsure who to trust with her growing concerns especially in light of her parents thinking logically that she is playing make believe.

Shoulder Bags and Shootings
Dorothy Howell
Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9780758223784, $22.00,

Euphoric, Los Angeles-based fashionista Haley Randolph spent two weeks in Europe with her boyfriend Ty Cameron, owner of the Holt's Department Store chain. She goes back home where Ty's grandmother Ada lends her a Mercedes, which she will leave in her employee parking lot. When she opens the trunk, she finds the corpse of Tiffany Markham, whom she hated. The police followed by the FBI question Haley showing her a picture of Kirk Keegan who she does not recognize.

Haley is more interested in obtaining a Sinful handbag that is selling out. When Kirk visits her in a Starbucks, he angrily claims she ruined his life and hr intends to reciprocate beginning with her boyfriend. She realizes she did see him in the parking lot when she opened the trunk but he looks nothing like the picture law enforcement showed her. Sister-in-law Virginia is kidnapped while looking for her and her ex-boyfriend Doug accuses her of stalking him. .Other incidents occur that intrude on Haley getting her handbag so she decides to stalk her stalker.

The latest "bag lady" amateur sleuth (see Purses And Poison and Handbags And Homicides) is an enjoyable amateur sleuth mystery as Haley with her somewhat one icon baggy brain provides a wonderful first person investigation. Her motive is to get everyone off her back so she can purchase the Sinful bag. Although her whining can be numbing when overdone, with a crazy cast to accentuate the case, her clueless mind makes for a fun lighthearted mystery.

Body Rush
Anne Rainey
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758238993 $14.00

"Secret Desires". The three BFFs make a sexual bet. Prim and proper legal secretary Lydia detests the pompous suits she works for during the day. Lydia goes to a BDSM hoping to find satisfaction here. Three hood hunks compete for her, but one of them with his heads un-hooded is the star of her nocturnal fantasy seemingly forever.

"Turn Me On". Neurosurgeon Dr. Roni is smart and sexy. Like in the OR, she dominates in the bedroom; that is until the computer guru teaches her that she does not have to always be in charge outside the hospital.

"Tasty Treats". The biker shows up at her coffee shop every morning. Owner Jeanette salivates with desire, but he never makes a move. When she notices he seems to hunger for her she decides to offer herself as a dessert menu special.

These three interrelated novellas are heated vivid BDSM erotic tales starring likable women in lust and the men lusting after them. Although the story lines lack plausibility, readers will enjoy learning what the stakes were, who won the wager were and how the winner was decided.

Mistress By Mistake
Maggie Robinson
Kensington Brava
9780758250995 $14.00

In 1820 Sir Michael Bayard attends the funeral of his grandmother. After paying his respects, Michael travels to London to be with his mistress Deborah. However, his woman has run away with Arthur Bannister taking with her a necklace and money that does not belong to her.

Deborah's sister Charlotte is at Michael's abode waiting for his return to tell him his mistress has eloped. Irate as he lent Deborah the purloined necklace, he orders the sibling to stay as his substitute mistress. She will be freed when his necklace is returned to him. He further explains to Charlie that their relationship will be a short lived tryst. Thus both are shocked by the intensity of the passion, but his ex wife Anne wants him back and Deborah hovers between Michael and Charlie.

Over the top of the original Westminster clock tower (pre Big Ben), fans of steamy Regency gender wars will relish the sexual combat between Sir Michael and fallen Charlie. The story line is fast-paced from the moment spoiled Deborah informs Charlie she is leaving to marry Arthur and never slows down As Michael makes Charlie his Mistress by Mistake for now.

Hot Southern Nights
Dianne Castell
Kensington Brava
9780758223630 $14.00

Librarian Churchill McKenzie is run out of New Jersey after her classic 1956 Chevy Bel Air was stolen as no one who does not want to float face down the Hudson questions the mob. She returns to her hometown of Savannah where she obtains a library position.

After three years in prison Cal Davis is free. He comes home to Savannah where he plans to avoid his former girlfriend Ace, whose testimony sent him to jail for a crime he did not do.

Cal's grandmother Miss Ellie is the only person besides him who believes he never committed that crime. Cal finds a key inside his vintage 1967 Mustang that apparently someone wants bad enough to steal. When he hooks up with Ace who was run out of Jersey, all hell breaks loose in Georgia as he still wants her, but Churchill as she insists he call her begins to believe her beloved bad boy make that man did not do the felonious deed and wants to make amends while that unknown somebody raises the already heat of Hot Southern Nights.

The third "Hot" Savannah tale (see Hot And Bothered and Hot And Irresistible) uses humor mostly brought by battling Churchill to bring freshness to what is a heated yet somewhat conventional story line. Readers will root for the Steel Peachtree Ace as she remains feisty, fiery and fighting in spite of the mob kicking her out of the Garden State. She and Miss Ellie as a powerful amateur sleuth team set out to prove Cal is innocent and to uncover who is behind his conviction and bidding for the key (you will have to read to what).

The Exile
Andrew Britton
9780758242693 $25.00

In Darfur, the Janjaweed militia attacks a refugee camp where they brutally kill American nurse Lily Durant. However, Lily is not just another American in the wrong place at the wrong time; she was the niece of President David Brenneman.

Defense Intelligence Agency General Joel Stralen sees an opportunity to gain an edge over his unit's prime rival the CIA. He pushes strongly for punishing Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir, as he swears to his close friend he has slam dunk information the attack was not random. The vicious dictator ordered the assassination of Lily. CIA Deputy Director Jonathan Harper asks former operative Ryan Kealey to investigate before Stralen rushes America to judgment.

The latest Kealey espionage thriller (see The American, The Assassin and The Invisible) is an exciting action-packed tale in which the DIA and CIA argue merit of a retaliatory strike like Reagan ordered against Gaddafi. Fast-paced, fans of the series will enjoy accompanying the hero to Africa and back though the story line is somewhat sub-genre standard as Kealey once again affirms spying is a team sport, if one wants to obtain the information and live

Blood and Silk
Carol McKay
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439207628, $25.95,

Following the crucifixion, Christ's disciples fled. Mary of Magdala lived in Provence, France where she assumed the name Lady Avigail of Aurasio. Her companions are the Bishop of Gaul Maximinus o f Galilee and Indian tribe Domari led by Raja Abraham. Watching a bawdy production play The Passion of Christ allegedly based on her and her beloved Jesus, she becomes upset with the lies of what she considered a beautiful love story. Encouraged by her friends who know who she is; she tells her tale though she expects it to be meaningless as the widow wife is meaningless.

Affluent Aram gave his daughter Mariamne of Magdala to Jesus, son of Joseph of the House of David. The couple marries under Jewish law at an Essene monastery. Mariamne and Jesus have three children while he begins the journey of destiny going to India and Alexandria to learn. When he returns he begins to preach and soon has a following as the Roman leaders in Judea and the Jewish priests and monarch want the rabble-rouser gone. At all times his wife had his back; unlike the men who pledged fealty.

"Blood and Silk: The Hidden Love Story of Mary of Magdala and Jesus of Nazereth" is a strong biblical biographical fiction as Mary tells what happened in her life as the wife of Christ. Carol McKay's impeccable research is incredible and referenced so that the well written narrative has strong documentation supporting the author's beliefs, conclusions and vivid descriptions of life in the early first century Judea. Although at times the writing can be to stiltedly flowery, readers will compare what we think we know of Mary to what Ms. McKay argues she was. Blood and Silk is an insightful novelization of the life of Mary of Magdala.

Thief of Midnight
Catherine Butzen
Stark House Press
2200 'O' Street, Eureka, CA 95501
9781933586311, $15.95

Life changed for Abby Marquise the night she was attacked by a ghoul. Her son thinks she is insane; her husband left her; and she is fearful of the night filled with creatures of legend and myth. She joins the Society for the Security of Reality, an organization dedicated to disposing the evil beasts that harm humans.

The group is unaware that it has a real enemy that is also humanity's adversary. Created from human imagination, their job is frightening children into behaving. They feed on fear and accrue power. In this century, they are invincible as few adult believe they exist. That enables them to kidnap thousands of kids across the country. The boss of the Family El Cucuy has a wider agenda than snatching children, but two of his cohorts disagree. Somehow Abby and her allies must free the children and stop El Cucuy from completing his ultimate agenda.

Catherine Butzen has written a chilling horror thriller that would make a great movie. Readers learn about the culture and behavior of the Bogeyman who with few exceptions feel humans are worthless. Abby fights for her beliefs though her family and friends ridicule her for insisting beasts who should not exist roam the night as bogeymen. She brings the human interest to the thrilling plot as a heroine scorned by her loved ones.

The Season of Risks
Susan Hubbard
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781439183427, $14.00,

Ari Montero is a hybrid half vampire who played an instrumental part in finding her mother and bringing her back to her home where she reconnected with her family. Being a hybrid she has yet to find out what powers of a vampire she will eventually have. Like most of the Sanguinist sect of vampire, Ari and her family drink artificial blood; unlike the Colonists and Nebulists who see humans as chattel while the latter believes the species will become extinct.

Although Ari has the body of a fifteen years old, she is twenty-one and involved in a relationship with Senator Neal Cameron who as an independent has a real chance to be elected president; he also belongs to no sect. They keep their relationship quiet because of Ari's official age. She allows Dr. Roche, a vampire, to inject her with the synthetic growth hormone Septinal. She soon looks like she is older, but someone shows her true birth certificate saying she is only fifteen to the media; destroying Cameron's election chances. She is unaware that Roche is cloning people and inhabitant them with spirits. Ari and company bring Roche before COVE (Council of Vampire Ethics) to accuse him of illegal experiments but he turns the table around and accuses Ari and her family of heinous criminal activity. He insists they pulled the strings and defending themselves is not easy because they destroyed the evidence.

Susan Hubbard's wonderful vampire tale will appeal to fans of vampire lovers who love their vamps portrayed as another species most of whom are good and live like humans except at mealtimes. As a half human who is ignorant of what her extrasensory abilities will be since hybrids rarely exist, Ari must learn them while the heat is on. Her energy is invigorating as she discovers by trial and error what she can do. With a political sexual subplot that is very realistically portrayed, readers will enjoy Ari's coming of age enthralling and riveting hybrid investigative urban fantasy.

Sea Escape
Lynne Griffin
Simon & Schuster
9781439180600, $25.00

In the Boston area, forty-five year old Laura Martinez is the poster person of the sandwich generation. Her widowed mom Helen has suffered a stroke, which leaves her as the caretaker though mom and daughter have never been close. Her two young children Claire and Henry are confused about how to behave with nana suddenly around. Even her husband Christian is unsure.

Helen survives more in the past than the present as she constantly muses over her late spouse. Her mom's thoughts bewilder Laura who reads the love letters between her parents. Laura is stunned as she begins to uncover family secrets that she never knew of, which in turn leads to a new understanding and appreciation of her mom and an awareness of the need to be more honest with her family.

Sea Escape is an interesting family drama that is at its best when the story line focuses on the tensions including feelings of being trapped that engulf Laura. When the subplot moves into the secrets of the past, the tale loses its grasp on present issues as the yesteryear comes across edgy but unreal. Readers will overall enjoy Sea Escape as Lynne Griffin provides a strong look at being trapped between the older and younger generations.

Who Do I Lean On?
Neta Jackson
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781595545251, $14.99,

Having come a long way from the homeless shelter, Gabby Fairbanks rejoices when she finally obtains custody of her sons (Paul and P.J.) from their dad and still her husband Philip. She plans to make sure they feel at home at the new apartment in Richmond Towers the y are moving into.

However, she is stunned with what she perceives is a betrayal by ex her husband Philip. He has run up exorbitant debts gambling and needs to pay them off immediately. He begs Gabby to give him the funds. Her Yada Yada prayer partner Jodi Baxter, her friend retired cop Harry Bentley offer her solace but not much practical advice besides not helping her husband as does Lee the lawyer who loves her. Gabby turns to God for guidance though her first inclination is to let Philip be punished especially when his actions threaten the House of Hope.

The third Yada Yada House of Hope inspirational tale (see Where Do I Go? and Who Do I Talk to?) is an entreating story that Yada Yada fans will relish as Gabby has come so far. The cast is strong in particular the heroine who has difficult issues still to confront, but has the strength of being "Souledout" which enables her to lean on the Lord for help. Newcomers will enjoy this tale, but reading the first two entries of the House of Hope series will enhance the experience.

Never Let You Go
Erin Healy
Thomas Nelson
9781595547507, $14.99

Seven years ago, Grant left his wife Lexi and their daughter Molly without a word. Lexi's sister was murdered and her father mentally collapsed. Her sibling's killer Norm Von Ruden is on trial. Warden, who was Grant's illegal drug selling partner, warns Lexi to testify on behalf of Norm at the hearing or he will expose her secrets, demand payment of a debt she did not know existed and set in motion a plan to take Molly from her. Grant is also back insisting he just wants quality time with his daughter; Lexi distrusts him fearing he will cause them harm.

When someone assaults Lexi, Angelo saves her. Heaven and hell has broken out with Lexi caught in the middle. She is trusting no one and depending on only herself to keep Molly safe.

This is a terrific paranormal Christian suspense thriller that sub-genre fans will relish especially the wonderful relatively simple climax that seems so apropos. The story line is filled with action as increasingly Lexi wonders what did she do alienate either God or the devil as she feels she has become a modern day Job. Although transitions between scenes at times feels awkward, readers will enjoy rooting for Lexi as she will learn to err is human, to forgive is divine, but to forget and move on is heavenly.

Sweet Misfortune
Kevin Alan Milne
Center Street
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9781599952970, $19.99,

Though years have come and gone since the pivotal tragedy of her life, Gig Harbor, Washington resident Sophie Jones never moved passed the accidental deaths of her parents when she was nine years old. When her fiance Dr. Garrett Black breaks off their relationship, she becomes depressed. A chocolate shop owner, she creates and sells the Misfortune Cookies that are made with bitter chocolate and contain cynical messages that all focus on this is the worst of all possible worlds but will inevitably get even worse. Her philosophy is Murphy is an optimist

Garrett returns to town and wants to start anew with his beloved. She rejects him, but it is how acrimonious and angry Sophie has become that shocks him. They make a bet over an ad they place in the local paper: "Wanted: Happiness." He insists 100 people or more will respond; she says no way. If he is right she will go out with him; if not he will not bother her again.

This is a bittersweet sugary tale that though over the top of Mount Rainier is fun to read. Fans will want the acrimonious Misfortune Cookie writer to be proven wrong, but have no hope this will occur. Sophie is terrific with her life sucks attitude while Garret tries to prove her wrong. With a great twist albeit not realistic, fans will relish this fine character study of how a tragedy impacted three families still affects the survivors years after the harrowing bereaving incident.

Sometimes Mine
Martha Moody
Riverhead Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9781594484681, $14.00,

In Columbus, Ohio, cardiologist Dr. Genie Toledo and married Turkman State basketball coach Mick Crabbe have been seeing each other for two hours every Thursday for the past dozen years. Outside of Mick, her patients are Genie's life.

As the fifty something Mick's team gains national prominence, Genie becomes involved with his wife and one of his adult children. Mick's twenty-something daughter single mom Claudia has a coronary disease so at her father's prodding becomes Genie's patient. This turn leads to his wife Karn "consulting" with Genie about their mutual interests in her family. Meanwhile Mick's 1999-2000 squad had high expectations but is not coming together as a unit at a time he learns he has a fatal form of prostrate cancer.

This is an entertaining character study that focuses on the life of a mistress who has no one else but her lover yet must conceal her fears that if he dies she is alone unable to even share her grief overtly with anyone. The cast is solid as Mick and his family seems genuine especially as his health deteriorates while Genie holds the story line together. Although the ending appears off kilter in its Madame Mitterrand demeanor, readers will relish the aptly titled Sometimes Mine.

Colin McAdam
9781594484643, $15.00

At affluent prestigious St. Ebury School in Sutton, Canada, the son of an American diplomat extroverted athletic Julius and the lovely Fallon are an entry. All the guys at school want Fall as their girlfriend, but the most envious is Julius' roommate the intellectual reticent loner Noel. Still in spite of his coveting Fall, Noel and Julius become buddies.

The administration punishes Julius for a typical teenage stunt; his punishment is confinement to his room. Unable to see Fall, he asks his friend to visit her. Noel's fixation for Fall intensifies as he has the opportunity to spend time alone with the object of his adulation even if it is only as a surrogate. Soon after he begins seeing Fall, she vanishes.

Told in rotation by the two male roommates, Fall is a profound psychological suspense tale. The audience gets to know the obsessions of both male teens and through their respective reflective lenses somewhat the female each cherishes in their own way. Part of the insight is how different Julius and Noel are in their behavior especially their relationships with others; but ironically how similar they are when it comes to Fall. Readers who appreciate a character psychoanalytical profile will relish Fall as the action including what happened to the girl takes a back seat to the astute look at the rivals who desire her

Chasing Lilacs
Carla Stewart
Faith Words
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780446556552, $13.99,

In 1958 in Graham Camp, Texas, twelve years old Sammie Tucker's mother Rita suffers from nerves. Sammie hopes to become a writer, but needs a typewriter. She actually has a boyfriend, loose definition, in California teenage transplant Cly MacLemore; though her best friend Tuwana Johnson likes the cool cat more than she does.

Sammie's world collapses when her depressed mom commits suicide. As she nears her thirteenth birthday, Sammie wonders who she can depend on when people you love leave you by yourself. Family members and Cly try to be there for Sammie, but her mom was everything to the depressed grieving child.

This is a strong historical tale as several cast members struggle with personal issues. Sammie cannot move on beyond her mother's death as she wonders if her crazed late mom ever loved her. Cly has parental issues too as his frustrated dad dumps him on relatives hoping the teen straightens out from being a delinquent. Other cast members have problems that haunt them too. Chasing Lilacs is a poignant look at residents of a small Texas town during the Eisenhower era; as everyday people strain to overcome problems; ironically Sammie's mother did just that selfishly leaving behind trauma for her family especially her daughter.

The Darkly Luminous Fight For Persephone
Leanna Renee Hieber
Love Spell
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780843962970, $6.99,

Reckless nineteen year old Persephone "Percy" Parker of the Athens Academy mounts a desperate rescue attempt to save her fiance, Professor Alexi Rychman and his six Guardian cronies from the assaults of the agents of Underword. However, by doing so, Percy may cause unintended consequences. Her internal magic has risen beyond the point of danger to herself and others.

The Whisper World faces chaotic destruction. Percy knows she must act, but is not sure what to do as war seems inevitable to London in the year of Our Lord 1888 and she has not begun obtaining her destiny as the seventh prophesied Guardian. However intrepid Percy and the Magic Guard who stand with her refuse to flee even if it costs them their lives.

The second Percy Parker Victorian romantic suspense fantasy is an entertaining tale filled with ghosts, Guardians and an incredibly eerie Victorian landscape. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and never stops except for a touch of tea. Although it helps to have read (see The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker to know how far the heroine has come of age and how much further she must go, fans will relish the charming yet exhilarating Persephone saga.

Shut Up and Kiss Me
Christie Craig
Love Spell
9780505527998, $7.99

Precious, Texas Mayor Johnson hires photojournalist Shala Winters to do a local shoot to bring more tourists to the city. However, the relatively easy job proves quite difficult to Shala. One might think dealing with eluding thieves and vandals would be her biggest concern; or perhaps a stalking potential killer. None of the above is as big a troublemaker as is police chief Sky Gomez, who orders her not to photograph Native American rituals. He knows the economy could destroy his Precious, but also fears his beloved small-town will become a tourist attraction that will turn it into crap.

Sky's foster-father has visions of the cop with Shala. He insists they are soulmates, but Sky rejects the old man's dreams as malarkey although he is attracted to her. Shala has her own issues as relationships die; being a divorced orphan. She distrusts men preferring her independence although she is attracted to Sky and respects his foster-father's noble intentions.

This is an amusing small-town Texas romance starring two combatants and a host of eccentric locals. Fast-paced and filled with jocularity, fans will enjoy the lighthearted romantic romp although the plot loses a profound opportunity with the lack of deep insight into the race relationship issues of a town in which 65% of the residents are Native-American Hispanic and Caucasians are a minority.

Ancient Whispers
Marie-Claude Bourque
Love Spell
9780505528339, $7.99

On their wedding day in 1755 in Acadie, Gabriel and Evangeline were separated by death when the Anglais raiders attack and destroy the village of Grand Pre. Heartbroken yet not giving up hope to find his soul mate, Gabriel asks for help from the sorceress Morag Callan. She agrees to assist him finding the love of his life in exchange for his becoming a Priory of Callan member.

Over two hundred and fifty years later in Providence, Morag informs Gabriel she has succeeded on his boon. He must persuade his Evangeline, who has been reincarnated as Lily Bellefontaine, that they belong together. Lily is attracted to Gabriel, but he does not fit in her life's plan. Pragmatic, she agrees to a weekend with him, but afterward plans to return to her normal life. However an odious mage and nightmares will not allow her to move on making Gabriel only a memory.

This is an enjoyable romantic fantasy starring a strong female lead, a desperate male praying for a second chance at love, and a powerful support cast to include Providence and to a lesser degree Grand Pre. Readers will relish this enjoyable tale as love is tested by reincarnation and a malevolent mage.

The Dangerous Book of Heroes
Conn Iggulden & David Iggulden
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061928246, $26.99,

The 36 biographical shorts are entertaining and insightful, but limited in scope as most of those highlighted are British males. There are several American entries (Washington, MLK, Helen Keller, Apollo 11, Sitting Bull, Iwo Jima and Flight 93, etc) and three other females (Cavell, Nightingale, and the SOE). Overall the selections seem reasonable though Anglo-American focused although one must question labeling heroes those who massacred their opponents with no regard for collateral damage of the innocent like Cromwell and the pirate Henry Morgan; though in fairness they do push forward the British Empire. The fun for an American audience is not rationalizing the brutality of a "hero", but in observing how British authors place their spin on United States' legendary heroes like Washington and Keller.

The Rebellion of Jane Clarke
Sally Gunning
9780061782145, $24.99

In 1769 in Satucket on Cape Cod, twenty-two years old Jane Clarke rejects marriage to the loyalist Phinnie Paine chosen by her father. Outraged by his daughter's disobedience, he exiles her to take care of her elderly great-aunt Gill in Boston.

Jane enjoys the independence of not residing under her father's tyrannical thumb and being near the British Custom House, she meets some of the leaders demanding representation in parliament. She becomes friends with Henry Knox and through her brother meets John Adams. As the men she meets become increasingly frustrated with the British efforts to restrain Bostonians, she fears violence will happen as she realizes those fomenting revolt are not interested in truths that detract from their argument of throwing the British out. Finally her premonition turns true when several protestors are killed at what the rebelling colonists call the Boston Massacre.

The Rebellion of Jane Clark is a super historical thriller that through the heroine's eyes focuses on key participants and others caught in the dispute in the days just prior to the American Revolution. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Jane is exiled to Boston and never slows down; yet enables readers to witness how divided the Massachusetts colonists were re revolt vs. allegiance. Sally Gunning's terrific tale brings to life the prime time players, their impact on others, and life in Boston as rebellion is on the minds of every citizen; with families divided between for, against, and neutral

Sidney Sheldon's After the Darkness
Sidney Sheldon, Tilly Bagshawe
9780061728303, $25.99

To the shock and dismay of her family, Manhattan socialite Grace Knowles marries legendary hedge fund manager Lenny Brookstein. Her family objects to her wedding Lenny because the groom is as old her parents.

Still the couple seems happy together until Lenny's hedge fund Quorum, up until recently the top performer ever, lose, $75 billion. Lenny does not appear shaken about the downturn as if nothing went wrong. However, when he goes sailing off Nantucket, he fails to come home. The police arrest Grace accusing her of securities fraud. Grace escapes leading to NYPD Detective Mitch Connors trying to find her. As she tries to prove her innocence, Lenny's body is found and Mitch helps the allegedly felonious socialite.

The second Sheldon thriller first (see Sidney Sheldon's Mistress of the Game) is an entertaining over the top of the Empire State Building tale starring a wealthy woman with only socialite skills turning into superhero. Fast-paced from the moment Lenny fails to come home, fans will enjoy After the Darkness as long as you suspend belief by leaving your credibility meter in the drawer as Grace proves to be a retaliatory superwoman.

Lowcountry Summer
Dorothea Benton Frank
9780061961175, $25.99

In 2007 at Tall Pines, the family gathered to celebrate Caroline Wimbly Levine's forty-seventh birthday. Caroline has no problem with closing in on fifty as her focus on the family remains first and foremost in her mind. Her only son Eric (from the marriage with that English pig) is attending college at the University of South Carolina less than an hour drive away from home, but that could be on the other side of the Atlantic for how often he comes home. Caroline rationalizes that he probably feels freedom from her and his horde of other adult supervisors. His mom worries about him because he is living with an older woman and her child.

Caroline struggles with the rest of her family members at the gala. Her sister-in-law Frances Mae becomes drunk. Her nieces except perhaps the oldest Amelia must be adopted as they cannot share even partially her DNA as she considers them escaped convicts. Her brother Tripp has personal issues of a sexual kind. However, it is the family's late matriarch the recently departed Miss Lavinia who still from beyond controls the rowdy horde through Caroline.

This entertaining Southern Fried family saga returns readers to the Plantation for a Lowcountry Summer jamboree. The cast is solid but it is Caroline who wryly holds the plot together with her observation on others and her wit. Fans will enjoy the return as the child becomes the adult with Caroline having learned Miss Lavinia's life lessons.

The Pregnant Widow
Martin Amis
9781400044528, $26.95

In the summer of 1970, college students were touring Europe. Keith and Lily are in Italy with her tall friend Scheherazade and a third female Gloria. However, the amiable relationship between Lily and Keith begins to crack when she concludes that her boyfriend desires her friend and perhaps their other companion more than her.

Ironically Gloria also a beauty seems willing to sack with Keith while Scheherazade appears out of his reach. Lily increasingly realizes she cannot compete with either of the beautiful girls for Keith's attention though she allows him sexual pleasures when she is not teasing him. With Lily torturing him with on and off sex, and Gloria apparently willing to have sex, Keith's lofty goal for the summer remains climbing Scheherazade.

Although the pivot that keeps the story line anchored is how far women came due to the sexual revolution of the early 1970s caused by medical advances (some will say subtractions), The Pregnant Widow is more a treatise than a straight forward tale. Character driven by the traveling troupe, but with a deep look at religion and culture during the beginnings of radical change leading to "You've come a long way baby", this is a profound but not an easy read. Martin Amis using flashbacks proves his belief that the sexual revolution dramatically changed life as few events in recorded history have.

Executive Intent
Dale Brown
9780061560859, $26.99

Desperately needing to be recognized as more than just the alternative to America, China and Russia want the world to recognize them as superpowers. As such both nations engage in forceful policies in global hot spots that threaten the strategic interests and securities of the U.S. and allies.

The current American administration is extremely divided as aggressive Vice President Kenneth Phoenix wants to confront the enemies on land, at sea, and in space as if the Cold War has returned. President Joseph Gardner prefers to negotiate especially in space and has major doubts that include preventing the construction and deployment of a weapon system in space. Decisions must be made now as places like Yemen are being stirred up by those who want to engineer a second Cold War for profit and power.

Executive Intent is an action-packed political techno-thriller that sub-genre fans will fully appreciate especially the deep look at state of the art gizmos. The story line is fast-paced from the moment former Cold war rivals begin brinkmanship on the Horn of Africa and elsewhere while several stars of previous Dale Brown thrillers like POTUS and Lieutenant General (R) McLanahan (see Fatal Terrain, Rogue Forces and Shadow Command) return to go eyeball to eyeball with the enemy; some of which are inside DC.

Lord of Devil Isle
Connie Mason
Leisure Books
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780843964035, $7.99,

In 1775 England, Eve Upshall is sent to Newgate Prison though she committed no crime. All it took was an accusation without any evidence. Eve is freed from incarceration, but bound for the rebellious colonies where she is to marry a gentleman farmer. However, her string of calamites continues when the vessel she rides across the Atlantic is shipwrecked and sinking with sharks everywhere.

Captain Nick Scott rescues the foul mouthed beauty and asks her to be his mistress. With words only a sailor would use she tells him where he can go. That is until he begins his seduction with a kiss. As they fall into lust and love on Bermuda, the pair is trapped in the middle of a sedition scheme aimed at King George III.

Lord of Devil Isle is a great gender war on the High Seas (and Bermuda) as Nick is used to taking what he wants and he wants Eve while she has been on a run of misfortune to rival Job and believes she must remain prim and proper for her farmer. Fast-paced, Connie Mason provides a wonderful colonial romance with traitorous intrigue to add suspense to the mix.

Breath Of Heaven
Cindy Holby
9780843964042, $7.99

With Eleanor gone back to France, morals at King Henry's court are nonexistent. When two wards complain to the monarch about the seductive lying Rhys DeRemy, King Henry orders his womanizer to marry immediately. At the same time he receives a royal decree, Lord Edward Chandler of Aubregate asks him to marry his daughter Eliane. Since he feels a life debt to Lord Edward who saved him when he was a lad, he agrees for he will do anything the man requests.

On their wedding night, Rhys' vicious enemy Lord Vannoy and his horde attack the wedding party. Vile Vannoy searches for a treasure allegedly in the Chandler woods and will kill to obtain it. The newlyweds fight to survive while trying to insure Vannoy fails to find the ancient treasure secret that he would use to eradicate destroy mankind.

Breath of Heave is a fun medieval romantic fantasy starring a charming heroic rogue and a strong woman and a depraved villain. The story line is fast-paced throughout as the audience anticipates a gender war and a good vs. evil confrontation as the good, the not so bad, and the ugly collide in Cindy Holby's enjoyable historical.

Stroke Of Genius
Emily Bryan
9780843963618, $6.99

Grace Makepeace arrives from Boston for her first London season. In order for her daughter to attend the Ton's top galas, Grace's mom asks renowned artist Crispin Hawke to sculptor her offspring's hands while Grace prefers other lessons from the rake. He already drew her, his scandalous style having "met" her in his dreams.

Crispin is the prototype of the arrogant aristocrat while Grace is the brash Bostonian. However, his intellectual conceit means nothing to Grace who rips his skin for being so haughty. As they clash and argue, he sculpts and she writes her version of Pygmalian, they fall in love. However, each wonders why total opposites although strongly attracted to one another repel each other.

This amusing historical romance is a classic gender war tale of the irresistible force meeting the immoveable object; as the attracted opposites battle one another. Meanwhile their devoted servants Wyckham and Claudette also fall in love but their loyalty to their respective employers tested. Fans will enjoy the love between the Charles and the Thames as Grace proves Crispin the genius is a dope when it comes to love.

Seducing the Knight
Gerri Russell
9780843962604, $7.99

In 1331 Spanish Princess Jessamine flees before she is forced into a marriage with evil Conde of Teba. However, her escape places her in the middle of a battlefield as the Moors and the Templar Knights go at it with the former overwhelming the latter.

As he leaves defeated, Templar Sir Alan Cathcart knows his mission remains to find the lost Ark of the Covenant and bring it to his sire Robert the Bruce. However, after the initial shock of a female on the battlefield, he stops to rescue Jessamine. She is stunned because she believes the prophecy at her birth involves her on a quest odyssey has begun with the appearance of Alan. Together facing constant danger, the princess niece of King Ferdinand and the Templar Knight travel to the Holy Land in search of the sacred Ark even as they fall in love.

The second Brotherhood of the Scottish Templars historical romance (see To Tempt a Knight) is an exhilarating fourteenth century Raiders of the Lost Ark. Fast-paced and loaded with incredible layers of action starting with the battlefield first encounter, the pair falls in love while trekking the desert of the Holy Land. Both are believers but different as she accepts prophesies and destiny while he accepts the Lord Jesus. Although like the Indiana Jones' movie The Temple of Doom, the action often overwhelms the romance, fans will relish Geri Russell's exciting thriller.

A Breath of Magic
Tracy Madison
9780505528360, $6.99

Chloe Nichols is tired of her boyfriend Kyle not moving their relationship to the next level especially when she has magic readily available to give her commitment phobic slacker a shove. Of course that means persuading her cousin Liz to bake a cake with a love ingredient and her other cousin Alice to add magical drawings of the future; both leading to Kyle accepting Chloe's proposal of marriage.

However, sometimes you get what you wish for. Alice's drawing contains Chloe with Ben Malone. Chloe ends her relationship with Kyle and goes after Ben, who has no plans to marry anyone. At the same time, Kyle misses his cherished Chloe having taken her for granted. He pursues her with a resolve he never showed when they were together, but he must prove to his beloved that a picture may be a thousand words but lack the key three words of "I love you".

The third Magic romantic fantasy (see Alice star in A Stroke of Magic and Liz in A Taste of Magic) is an engaging entry as Chloe learns a lesson about using magic when it comes to relationships of the heart. Breezy and fun, with the return of the first family of magic including witchy Grandma Verda, fans will enjoy Chloe's convoluted course as her machinations lead to an entangled triangular web of her making; because she loves Kyle, but Alice's pictures proclaim her wed to Ben who insists he will never marry. Tracy Madison provides an amusing lighthearted frolic.

The Search
Nora Roberts
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399156571, $26.95,

The Red Scarf Killer murdered twelve twentyish women before he abducted Fiona Bristow, tied her up and tossed her into the trunk of his car. She had a knife on her so was able to get free; Fiona provided the FBI with a description of her kidnapper. They failed to find him until he snatched Fiona's befriend, killing the caring cop.

After much therapy, Fiona starts over on Orcas Island in Puget Sound. She is a canine search-and-rescue trainer and dog trainer in general who has no plans to have a relationship with artisan Simon Doyle as eight years have passed since her last tragic one ended n his death. As he creates beautiful furniture, they get to know one another due to his feisty matchmaking puppy. As their feelings grow, Fiona feels contentment for the first since the Red Scarf serial killings. However, that ends when the FBI agents arrive to inform her that someone using imprisoned Perry's M.O. is killing young women leaving on their necks the telltale red scarf. Law enforcement and Fiona believe the copycat killer is coming for her, but this time she will not run from her nightmare; this time she plans to confront her bogeyman.

The Search is a strong romantic suspense mostly because of the lead couple's bickering teasing, a strong support cast including an eccentric four legged pup, and the Washington State setting. The serial killer subplot is not new as the copy cat has been done before, but Nora Roberts makes it seem fresh with her incredible writing skill as she uses the S&R canines as key elements in the exciting story line. Readers will enjoy Ms. Roberts' entertaining Puget Sound thriller.

Hating Perfection
John F. Williams
Humanity Books
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781591027324, $19.99,

Based on a personal search to define perfection in the modern world, John F. Williams provides a profound philosophical analysis of what is human and how Hating Perfection led him to a "subtle search for the best possible world". The entries defending his position are mostly anecdotal incidents starting with Whiskey Lao in Laos and traveling elsewhere predominantly in Asia with most in China, Mr. Williams generalizes from his experiences; so his approach probably will cost him the academic philosopher. The author argues what is the essence of God and a so called master plan; claiming God is so into extreme free will, he could not care less what we do to covet his or her grace. Thus, as with God and mankind, Mr. Williams' arguments come across as powerful albeit somewhat reiterative while he insists that in spite of atrocities and contradictions between love and ha te of others, and a deity's (if one exists) disregard, this remains the best of all worlds where heaven and hell converge. Whether a reader accepts the writer's strong treatise or not, his logical work is intriguing especially his reflections on where humanity belongs in the cosmos with homage to Voltaire's Candide; Mr. Williams is Pangloss who believes strongly that this is "the best of all possible worlds".

The Wolf Next Door
Lydia Dare
1935 Brookdale Road, #139, Naperville, IL 60563
9781402236969, $6.99

Prisca Hawthorne and William Westfield were in love and had planned to elope until she heard he sired a child with someone else. She rejected him and he turned elsewhere for his satisfaction. Over the next few years even though she knows he never fathered that child, they remain estranged though they are still attracted to one another and unable to avoid each other as their family circles intertwine.

In 1816, her four younger brothers decide they need to stop their meddling sister from intruding on their lives. They believe William is perfect to marry their sister as he is the only person they know who might be able to control their "Prissy". None of the Hawthorne siblings are aware that a wolf that visits Prisca is actually love struck William, who like his brothers is a Lycan (werewolf being a derogatory term). William becomes concerned when a rogue Lycan starts sniffing at his soulmate. He begins a desperate counter ploy to keep his beloved safe, but fears what will happen when she learns the truth about what he did, what he is, and how much he loves her.

The third Westfield wolfish paranormal Regency romance is more of a family affair than its predecessors as the stars of Tall, Dark and Wolfish and A Certain Wolfish Charm join in the fun of as the back cover states "moon-crossed" lovers. Readers will enjoy William's Hail Mary though he should have heeded his brother's advice by telling Prisca he loves her. Instead he complicates their relationship with a convoluted scheme that makes his telling the truth about Lycan and witches so much more complex. Lydia Dare provides a strong family affair.

Strange Neighbors
Ashlyn Chase
9781402236617, $6.99

Former Rhode Island resident Merry Mackenzie works as a nurse at Boston General Hospital. She rents an apartment from baseball superstar pitcher Jason Falco; whom she never heard of but her brother and dad think he is great with his blazing fastball. She is attracted to her new landlord almost as much as she is euphoric that Chad the ghost allegedly resides in the historic Back Bay home since the Beatles we re on Ed Sullivan. Jason calls his mom back in Minnesota to lament that he has struck out on his first at bat with beautiful Merry

Merry soon finds her unconventional borders are not just eccentric. They include two witches running a phone sex business; several shape-shifters, and a vampire. However, the most frightening paranormal is reporter Lila Crum, who plans on Jason being her double play partner. Jason's kind snooping aunt has chosen his partner for him, but he and his new renter go on a merry chase of love.

This is an amusing at times heated but always heartfelt paranormal romance. Jason's baseball asides and Merry's caring for others while knowing noting about sports are enhanced by Chad's "colorful" commentary. The support cast is solid especially her family and Chad's neighbors. Fans will enjoy this humorous lighthearted romp as the baseball pitcher swings the bat and hits a home run with a woman who never knew his strike zone until they met.

Nonna's Book of Mysteries
Mary Osborne
Lake Street Press
4064 N. Lincoln Avenue, #402, Chicago, IL 60618-3038
9781936181162, $16.95

In Florence, fourteen years old Emilia Serafini fantasizes of becoming an artist's apprentice, but females need not apply. Her father Francesco wants his teenage daughter married to mid twentyish Benozzo, son of an affluent businessman.

Emilia's only hope resides with her understanding mom Violante who persuades her spouse to allow their daughter to masquerade as a young male apprentice for one year to foreign widower Makarios before she settles down in marriage to Benozzo. At the same time, her mom gives Emilia an ancient tome passed down maternally for generations; Nonna's Book of Mysteries is an alchemy reference guide. Art patron Franco learns of the secret tome and plots to own it so he can present it as a gift to Cosimo de'Medici in order to gain favors. Thus he courts Emilia, wins her heart, and persuades her father to let him marry her.

Nonna's Book of Mysteries is a great historical tale that on the surface brings Renaissance Florence alive; especially the narrow choices allowed women. However, subtly the story line encourages young females, and by implications males too, to be all you can be as setting and pursuing BHAGs is worthy of everyone. Well written with a profound message, young adult readers will relish Mary Osborne's strong historical.

The One That I Want
Allison Winn Scotch
Shaye Areheart Books
c/o The Crown Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, #B1, New York, NY 10019-4305
9780307464507, $24.00,

In Westlake, Washington, thirtyish Tilly Farmer believes strongly she lives the American dream with one glaring exception. A guidance counselor at the high school she graduated from, Tilly married her teenage boyfriend Tyler. The exception is they remain Dinks (double income no children) as she wants kids to round out her perception of the perfect American family.

At a fair, Tilly runs into her high school friend Ashley who tells fortunes. The fortuneteller reads Tilly's future leaving a stunned woman who has her rosy colored glasses removed. Tilly mentally puts on Tyler's shoes to see their relationship from his perspective; she concludes he never moved passed his college sports injury that left him stuck in Westlake rather than the bit city pros. She takes a fresh look at her sister living in Los Angeles and instead of pity she feels envy. Finally new art teacher Eli challenges Tilly to stop being Mother Teresa and return to her love of photography.

Allison Winn Scotch provides an intriguing character study of a woman whose idyllic life shatters one relationship at a time once she realizes that her nurturing others at the cost to her well-being hurts them too. The support cast is strong as each enhances the reader's understanding of lead protagonist's motives. Although even with the paranormal element of visions, fans will early on predict the path of the story line, but Tilly and company make for a deep tale focusing on relationship opportunity costs.

The Devil in Green
Mark Chadbourn
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616141981, $16.00,

One year has passed since the new dark Ages began with the Fall. Technology has vanished and is all but forgotten as mankind cowers in corners with the food chain altered as the supernatural roam and hunt humans.

Britain no longer claims the last successful invasion was William as the ancient faerie and the deadly demons stalk the blood of Englishmen and their compatriots. A slim hope flickers at Salisbury Cathedral, where Christian Knights Templar prepare for combat against the immortal while spreading the Lord's Word amongst the faithless. Even with these volunteers, belief is nonexistence. For instance Mallory, who is fleeing his past, assumes there is no God but works diligently to become one of the Brothers of Dragons.

In the countryside, Paganism is entrenched as the Celtic Nation has formed that includes Sister of Dragons Sophie Tallent the witch. Mallory and Sophie meet, but before they can explore their feelings, his unit deploys on a search and rescue mission that fails. He survives, but after barely making it through a supernatural landmine he arrives at Salisbury to find a demonic army of occupation outside while inside a paranormal serial killer terrorizes the residents. Mallory now knows he can run but never hide as no place is safe.

The first stirring Dark Age's thriller wastes no time to get the audience inside the beleaguered world as Mallory on his way to join the human army rescues a man Miller who becomes his brother in arms. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action as the paranormal attack mortals throughout. The human cast is solid while the supernatural seem genuine as Mark Chadbourn manages to make his Dark Age's world seen frighteningly genuine. Fans of his Age of Misrule and those who relish a post-apocalyptic thriller will want to join Mallory's escapades in a world gone mad.

Blood of the Mantis
Adrian Tchaikovsky
9781616141998, $16.00

With the Darakyon spirits as companions of sorts forcing him to complete his mission, Achaeos reaches Jerez an isolated marsh town. He knows time is running out before the Shadow Box is possessed by the Wasp Emperor. Achaeos struggles with regaining the stolen artifact before disaster strikes as not just the Wasp ruler wants it, so do beasts and traitors desire ownership; all know the possessor rules the world.

In the Lowlands, the other the tribes of the Empire hope to strike back as the divided groups prepare for a counter surge against the mighty Wasp army expected spring invasion. Led by spymaster Stenwald Maker, they know their chances are bleak once the spring offensive from their enemy begins. However, the real fight is in Jerez.

The third Shadows of the Apt military fantasy (see Dragonfly Falling and Empire in Black and Gold) is a great tale that contains two strong subplots. First there is the owning of the Shadow Box, which dictates in many ways (but not all) who the winner will be in the conflict and then there is the military preparation leading to the bloody spring offensive. Blood of the Mantis is a wonderful entry in a powerful saga as Adrian Tchaikovsky provides another intelligent parable of the foibles of society with racism, fear-mongering, and loathing the cornerstones of a
military-magical solution.

The Queen of Sinister
Mark Chadbourn
9781616142001, $16.00

The Dark Age of magic has rendered technology useless; the world we know vanished overnight with Beasts sending fire from the skies and creatures stalking humans across the British landscape. Deadly chaos is the norm with most humans believing it could not get any worse; they are wrong.

A pandemic plague attacked Britain. No one knows the source only those who catch it die violently and painfully. Dr. Caitlin Shepherd tries her best, but the twenty-eight year old mom feels overwhelmed as she is too young to be in charge, but out of default is. feeling helpless. She is hammered further when her beloved husband Grant and their son catches the deadly infection at a time the town is invaded by a horde whose purple mist causes incredible depression and despair. Caitlin feels helpless between the plague killing her family and these Whisperers mentally destroying anyone unfortunate to get in their way. However her friend witch Mary Holden introduces Caitlin to Professor Crowther; he insists the GP is a Sister of Dragons and the only hope to curing the plague. All she has to do is enter the Otherworld is to find the magic elixir. Caitlin and Crowther begin the quest accompanied by the female teen Magalia, the young male mute Carlton, and Matt seeking his daughter he insists Faeries carried away.

This entertaining tale is not on the epic proportions of the Age of Misrule trilogy or this saga's predecessor The Devil in Green. Still The Queen of Sinister is an intriguing fantasy as the heroine and her teammates cross into the Otherworld on a quest with little hope of success. Filled with action throughout and an incredible twist, fans of the author will want to join Caitlin as she treks across a realm from Celtic mythos to save what is left of her local world starting with her two loved ones.

Close Contact
Katherine Allred
Eos Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061672439, $7.99,

Genetically enhanced person Echo Adams is not a typical GEP. She was gifted with a rare Psi ability, which makes her perfect on her current diplomatic assignment as an emissary in the Alien Affairs office.

Echo is disturbed when she is ordered out of the office to perform field work; as she does not do stinky outdoor work; especially when others might shoot you. Still she is considered the only person capable of handling the powerful Daughter Stone of the Limantti species that has been stolen. Accompanied by Peri the dragon bird and using her Psi skills to follow the thieves' trail leads Echo to Madrea; a planet in which the ruler has severed all relationships with the Federation and outlawed technology. Echo understands the mission is to retrieve the Daughter Stone, get out alive and not cause a King to ignite in fury. Her only hope of success is with Royal Commander Reynard.

The second Alien Affairs science fiction romance (see Close Encounters) is a jocular affair that satires the kick male butt heroine phenomena as this lead female prefers the air conditioned office in which choosing what to eat for lunch is an adventure rather than off planet field encounters of a deadly kind. Fast-paced, fans who enjoy a fun somewhat simplistic lampooning of the super heroine sub-genre will want to read Close Contact as Echo Adams is promised a lot, but nothing until the end is met; as her amusing asides throughout will attest.

The Infinity Gate
Sara Douglass
9780060882198, $26.99

With Tencendor gone, trapped inside the Tower of Elcho Falling is its Lord Maximilian, fallen god heroic Axis SunSoar, and Serpent Coil Priestess Isabelle Brunelle and their comrades. Though have raised the magic of the tower, they are in deep trouble. Their adversaries are coming from every location tightening the grip on those besieged inside the magic tower. Those who come arrive with one intent: kill all caught inside.

From the tundra to the north arrive the traitorous winged Lealfast and from the south come the ferocious Skraelings. However, the most dangerous and lethal enemy is the One, who absorbs Infinity magic from the DarkGlass Pyramid. Those trapped have no hope of surviving for themselves or their world as betrayal by a key ally leaves them seemingly defenseless. Yet Axis raises his Strike Force using the Star Dance magic to fight back while a glimmer might be Ravenna the Marsh witch who no one trusts.

The third DarkGlass Mountain fantasy (see The Twisted Citadel and The Serpent Bride) is a great action-packed finish to a top rate trilogy as revelations and twists will keep the audience fully occupied with what comes next. The action never slows down while the cast is top rate. Readers will fully relish Sara Douglas' strong epic as darkness appears poised to win.

Jeff Jacobson
Medallion Press, Inc.
1020 Cedar Lane, No. 2N, St. Charles, IL 60174
9781605421018, $15.95,

In Whitewood, California, Fat Ernst hires the lads to do a job for him involving the funeral of affluent rancher Earl Johnson; grieved by no one as all people loathed him. Skinny Arch Stanton is the designated driver as he and his friends plan to moon the corpse. However Arch slips and knocks the coffin into an irrigation ditch with the top falling off the casket.

From within the coffin come worms a foot long who occupy the insides of living species while eating their way out of their mortal dining facility. All hell breaks loose as the worms show up in cheeseburgers as one of their prime hosts is cows. Fat Ernst is upset because the worms are costing him customers.

This feels like a 1950s movie enhanced or detracted depending on your perspective by a string of profanity. The plot of the attack of the killer parasitic worms is light fun and thinner than Arch's butt as stereotypes are the norm; even the worms come across as a horror film standard casting.

Boadicea's Legacy
Traci E. Hall
9781605420783, $7.99

In 1200 Ela Montehue the sorceress knows her paranormal healing skill comes from having Warrior Queen Boadicea of the Iceni as her ancestor. However, Ela also knows that Boadicea placed a stipulation on her even before she was born. To continue to be a healer, Ela must marry for love; if she settles for anything else she will lose her ability that is a deep part of her soul.

Her family wants Ela to marry affluent but odious Lord Thomas de Havel. If she agrees her beloved family will gain wealth and power as de Havel has King John's support; however the cost is her power as she loathes the vicious Thomas. Ela cannot go through with the wedding to the abusive de Havel so she says no. No one rejects Thomas so he kidnaps Ela and attacks her father and the people in his holdings. Knight Osbert Edyvean searches for the legendary Boadicea spear, but instead liberates Ela from her captivity. He wants to dump her on her family soonest so he can continue his quest and even more so to ignore his attraction to the feisty healer he is falling in love with.

Although somewhat similar in tone to Beauty's Curse especially with a legendary quest, the latest Montehue historical romantic fantasy (see Love's Magic) is an exciting fast-paced tale from start to finish. Fans will enjoy the triangle as the two males act and react differently when it comes to Ela; both in their way want her. Fans of the Boadicea descendents saga will relish Traci E. Hall's engaging entry as a three way confrontation seems inevitable.

Go, Mutants!
Larry Doyle
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061686559, $23.99,

J!m Anderson understands you cannot pick your parents, but wonders how far out can you get. His father led a failed alien invasion before allegedly being nailed on the Washington Monument. His mother was a siren cat woman, who earns a living as a sexy cocktail waitress.

Growing up as a hybrid outsider, J!m fell in love Marie Rand in high school. Her roots are not much better though she is a purebred human. Her dad is a mad scientist Dr. Howard Rand and her mother lost her head, which floats in a pan filled with fluid that EPA would condemn but her dad worships.

This is an entertaining over the top of the Empire State Building, Washington Monument and a few other stratospheric locales that presume the stars of 1950s science fiction and horror movies are real. Loaded with movie information and amusing satire, the offspring horde of monsters, aliens and evil attend high school. Although the plot is thinner than a B-movie, fans will enjoy this amusing homage to the height of the Cold War paranoia that hooked Hollywood in the Eisenhower Era .

Lynn Viehl
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451412881, $7.99,

Rowan Dietrich left Georgia for a job in Boston because the man she loves has chosen a different mate. She stops in Manhattan to look at the place she ran from several years ago and senses the old man knows she is in town. After getting gangbangers to leave her alone, she goes on her bike to finish her trip, but something hits her from behind. She crashes into a car in the ally next to D'Anges Restaurant. The owner yells at Rowen, but the restaurant owner Jean-Marc Dansant fires him. He is attracted to Rowan and offers her a job, which she accepts though she is unsure why. He also gives her an apartment to use.

Taire is happy she caused the accident that led to Rowan staying. She seeks answers and believes Rowan has them as she saw what the woman did mentally to get rid of the gang, saw the tattoos on her arms just like she has, and recognizes the smell. Taire sleeps in an abandoned hotel; fearing Father who expects perfection and might kill her for her failure.

Sean Meridan is irate that Jean-Marc allowed someone to move in next door. Gerald King calls him demanding he find his missing daughter Alana. Sean refuses, but Gerald arranges to kill a man standing next to Sean and threatens others. He has three weeks to find Alana or die as Gerald is also dying. Rowan and Sean meet, but he coldly warns "Cupcake" to stay away from him. Jean-Marc feels guilty about kissing Rowan, but makes her forget he did it. The players converge in ways that none could have imagined.

The Kyndred story line is fast-paced throughout as the action never stops. Yet the cast is strong as is the romantic triangle containing a delightful unexpected late twist as does the Taire-Rowan-Gerald connection. Although the villain does not live up to his early toughness, readers will enjoy this strong urban fantasy thriller. This urban fantasy is pure magic.

For the King
Catherine Delors
c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10014-3657
9780525951742, $26.95,

In 1800 a bomb explodes on the road Napoleon travels. He survives the attempt, but the assassins kill dozens of bystanders. Police Chief Inspector Roch Miquel investigates the assassination attempt and the homicides, in which the culprits had no regard for the innocents.

His inquiry is hampered by his corrupt uncooperative peers. Even more of a handicap is his superior the Minister of Police Fouche, who incarcerates Roch's father on a phony charge to control his independent minded chief inspector. Feeling beleaguered and handcuffed with every step he takes, Roch turns to his married mistress Blanche Coudert for solace, but she conceals something that if it became public could leave the cop sharing a cell with his dad; that is if they are not deported or beheaded.

This is an excellent Napoleon Era French police procedural starring a dedicated chief inspector who feels frustrated with every inquiry he makes. The investigation is cleverly designed so that for every clue he follows someone interferes. With a sense of time and place to anchor the superb story line, readers who enjoy a strong historical whodunit will want to follow Roch's efforts to solve the mass murder assassination attempt.

The Whole World
Emily Winslow
Delacorte Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780385342889, $25.00,

At Cambridge, blind Professor Gretchen Paul is conducting research into her mother, a novelist who wrote five books about a young woman trying to become a published author in the 1950s. Gretchen has three students (Polly from New Hampshire, Liv from California and Nick from England), doing her research.

However, Nick stuns his employer when he informs her that her mother was not her biological mother. He insists she was a psychopathic fan who managed to get close to the author and ultimately took over the writer's life. If true, a shocked Gretchen realizes her belief that her mom sacrificed her writing career to raise her was false; her mom had no writing career to sacrifice. While Gretchen struggles with Nick's assertion, he tries to seduce Polly, but she turns ill instead as his efforts remind her that her father killed her boyfriend. Nick vanishes as Polly's mom arrives from New England. Inspector Morris investigates Nick's disappearance, but Nick is okay suffering from a bad sprain. When Nick drives to Cambridge in the dark, he loses control and runs over Gretchen who Morris learns was already dead before Nick hit her. Her spouse Harry is also dead while Liv considers going home since her parents can no longer afford Cambridge and she can no longer afford Nick's rejection.

Told in five chapters by the three students, the professor and the cop; The Whole World is a fascinating academic family thriller that has too many subplots as each of the key players and several support cast members carry too much baggage that is explored. Polly, who's the lead off hitter, steals the show with what happened to her back in New Hampshire that disturbs her. Overall readers will enjoy Emily Winslow's Cambridge based murder mystery although at times the prime story line is overwhelmed with sidebars.

Private Life
Jane Smiley
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9781400040605, $26.95,

Almost two decades ago in Missouri then eight year old Margaret Mayfield's father committed suicide. Soon after her dad took his life; her brother dies in an accident and her other brother from measles. Their widowed mom informs her three daughters they must find a spouse.

In 1905, twenty-seven years old Margaret is still an unmarried spinster but she meets astronomer US Navy Captain Andrew Jackson Jefferson and they soon marry. He takes his new wife to California where he works at an observatory. Her first shock about her husband is how he reacts to the death of his mom in the earthquake and three years later to their baby. Over the years as her resentment and ire grow, Margaret realizes her husband suffers from obsessive behavior until by 1 942 she looks back in anguish that she subjugated her dreams for his and never received the slightest regard from her spouse while his sister becomes a polished reporter. Still she accepts her lot until he betrays a Japanese- American family that they have been friends of for years claiming they are spies with no supporting evidence and the Feds don't need anything beyond his say so.

This is a subtle first half of the twentieth century epic that shows how far women have come in over a century. Margaret is superb as she holds the profound story line together yet by WWII regrets what she could have been while admiring her courageous sister-in-law, but she accepts her lot in life until her spouse betrays a neighbor. Jane Smiley writes a powerful yet low keyed brilliant saga of a woman's role up until WWII when the Greatest Generation changes the dynamics.

A Visit from the Goon Squad
Jennifer Egan
9780307592835, $25.95

Record-company executive Bennie Salazar wonders where the years went as he listens to another horrific band of young untalented egos that believe they belong at the top. Divorced, he feels removed from his tweener son as if he still lives in analog and the kid is digital. Bennie thinks back to the late 1970s in the Bay area when he was young and part of the punk band Flaming Dildos that thought they belonged at the top.

Bennie's former assistant Sasha is a mother hiding out in the desert after a youthful life of impulsive thieving. Her tweener daughter Alison thinks her mom is out of step with the digital world.

Meanwhile Bennie meets Alex who dated Sasha. He later hires him to obtain the services of fifty paid "parrots" to pretend to be fans of a group performing at a concert. His target audience he informs Alexis is the silent future majority who text rather than speak.

The key to the five decades of Bennie and others is what happens to a person when cynical age fueled by addictions and complacencies overcomes youthful rebellious fervor. Character driven with a powerful ensemble cast who all seem fully developed, the loci points anchor the epic story line are Bennie and Sasha. Jennifer Egan is a virtuoso as readers will relish the changes of the information age as music is a terrific milieu as the industry travels from vinyl to cassettes to CDs to DVDs; mirroring society.

Imperial Bedrooms
Bret Easton Ellis
9780307266101, $24.95

Twenty-five years ago, they were Less Than Zero hipsters who thought they owned Los Angeles. Time has been cruel to those who survived the Hollywood scene of the mid 1980s.

Clay the screenwriter returns from New York to California where he does what he does best, party-hopping while seeking to sell a script he wrote. In his mind nothing has changed in two and half decades; perhaps that is because he parties in a purple haze of alcohol. As he makes the rounds, he runs into some of his hip playmates. His former wife Blair is married to Trent the producer. Julian owns and manages an escort service while Rip the dealer is more plastic than flesh. However except for a deal, Clay ignores the old crowd as his attention is on wannabe actress Rain Turner, who is 200 proof looks and zero talent. Julian warns him to be careful with Rain as she may seem like his submissive, but that might prove an alcoholic allusion as Clay begins to investigate deadly text messages and lurking cars.

With a nod to Elvis Costello, this is an interesting character driven thriller that though the story line is somewhat limited to the party-hopping it hooks readers with a need to know whether Clay as the narrator is a hallucinating paranoid from too much alcohol and drugs or a stalked victim. The support cast, as seen through Clay's hazy lenses, enhances understanding of the lead protagonist. Although the plot deliberately turns cerebrally interpretively slow, fans, especially those of Less Than Zero, will appreciate Clay's return as he hops the Imperial bedrooms of Los Angeles.

American Music
Jane Mendelsohn
9780307272669, $23.95

In 2005 twenty-one year old physical therapist Honor works at the Bronx VA hospital. Her current patient is Iraqi veteran Milo, having suffered a spinal column trauma. He is moody and uncooperative, but she goes about her job with professionalism.

However, as she begins to touch parts of his body, the therapist and the patient begin seeing visions of people they never met. There is jazz saxophonist Joe, his wife Pearl and Vivian her cousin. Vivian shares Joe's love of music; while Pearl studies the law and they have an affair. The therapist and the patient meet others from the past like the late 1960s-1970s trio Iris, Alex, and Anna and early seventeenth century in Turkey Parvin, Kaya and Hyacinth. Honor and Milo struggle to connect dots as the visions become clearer with each new revelation.

This is a fascinating well written metaphysical tale in which the diverse deliberately slow paced segues repeat several times with each new rendition adding depth to what Milo and Honor learn about the dance of forbidden love over the ages. Like the lead couple, readers will need to know what is going on in the different pasts and why this pair "see" these vivid dramas at this time.

The Same River Twice
Ted Mooney
9780307272737, $26.95

American filmmaker Max Colby is stunned when he finds a copy of a movie he made with a different ending than he filmed. At the same time his ego takes a shot as he always thought he was the best but the new climax is oddly amateurish yet in some ways superior to his though he would never admit this even to himself; his inquiry as to who changed the ending leads to the Russians. Meanwhile his fashion designer wife Odile is contacted for a chance to make some money and help her in trouble lover art dealer Turner by smuggling from Russia Communist Soviet flags to sell as avant-garde pieces.

She and her traveling companion Thierry Colin succeed. However, almost immediately after they are back in the West, Colin vanishes and Odile's Paris apartment is broken into and turned upside down as someone looks for something. The Russians are coming as Max begins filming his latest movie about art creating art while hoping to serendipitously film Odile with her lover. Murder spins the cast in ways none would have suspected before t he sale of Communist flag as great art.

This is a wonderful yet odd thriller that ties the chic art avant-garde film worlds of New York and Paris with criminal mob activity. Everyone is a wannabe Machiavellian manipulator trying to pull the strings of everyone else who are doing likewise. Although the homicide is over the top of the Pyrenees, fans who appreciate something different will enjoy the character driven tale of how dangerous crossing The Same River Twice is when the Russian Mafia are the toll collectors.

The Eye of the Virgin
Frederick Ramsay
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590587607, $24.95,

Callend University instructor Louis Dakis returns to his house that he leases to find someone broke in and turned it upside down as if they searched for something; nothing seemed missing. At about the same time he came home at Picketsville Hospital emergency room nurse Laurie Kratz finds a man waiting for treatment is dead.

Picketsville, Virginia Sheriff Ike Schwartz investigates the break-in to Professor Dakis' residence when he learns of the dropped off corpse at the ER. Ike searches Dakis' background for a clue and learns the professor's estranged wife Lorraine accuses him of wrecking her shop that once was their shop and her boyfriend Franco Sacci has disappeared. Although confused, he begins to see a connection between the two break-ins as the corpse turns out to be Franco AKA Farouk Zaki. CIA Agent Charlie Garland takes an interest in the Dakis' dealings and collections with a Cold War microdot surfacing and the dead body being on their terrorist watch list.

This is an entertaining regional police procedural with international links. The story line is fast-paced yet contains a personal subplot as Ike and Callend University President Ruth Harris seem ready for the next level in their relationship. Fans of the series will relish this entry as Ike and his department deal with the arrival of Ruth's mom, the CIA, and a deputy's pregnancy while trying to solve the widening Dakis cases.

A Glimpse of Evil
Victoria Laurie
Obsidian Mystery
c/o The Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451230850, $7.99,

With the downturn in the economy, psychic Abby Cooper is losing much of her client base to the point where she cannot earn a decent living. Her live-in lover is offered a job as Assistant Agent in Charge in Austin in a separate building with agents working cold cases. Dutch's boss Brice Harrison is impressed with Abby's precognitive skills, he offers her work as a "civilian intuitive profiler"; the Feds do not employ psychics.

They accept the positions and head to Austin where on her first day Abby applies her psychic talent, which enables the unit to solve a few cold cases in under a week. She accompanies Agent Rodriguez on a field inquiry into a car used to transport kidnapped children. They locate the vehicle and talk with the tow truck operator, but instead meet his son; he shoots Rodriguez forcing Abby to shoot him before he kills them. Internal Affairs investigates the shootings with Rodriguez and Cooper on suspension with pay. Abby continues to look at the missing children's case that she ties to the deaths of three seemingly unrelated men who are dead, but though she tries she is unable to connect the dots that would complete the puzzle.

The "Psychic Eye Mysteries" are always a treat for paranormal urban whodunit fans. The key to this terrific series is that Victoria Laurie does not try to sell to her fans her star's skills, but instead deftly interweaves them into the story line as a powerful device that supports a much more rounded individual and plot; thus they could exist as they seem "normal" in this person and setting. Obviously Dutch and Abby are in love, but their romantic subplot provides relief, often amusing, from the seriousness of the investigations. With a strong cleverly constructed mystery, readers watch a somewhat frustrated Abby work on her own time because someone else is about to be killed.

Diva Las Vegas
Eileen Davidson
9780451230751, $6.99

Former Playmate Shana Stern invites soap opera star Alex Peterson to the annual Halloween party at the Playboy Mansion. Alex escorted by her BFF George comes as Little Bo Peep, but looking at the nakedness surrounding her feels more like a lost sheep. However, instead of a good time, she finds her hostess dead, a murder victim. Unable to resist due to a connection to the victim especially since Shana was telling her she was in trouble and she has had success as an amateur sleuth (see Dial Emmy for Murder) the actress investigates.

As she makes her inquiries, Alex finds there is little progress. However, she works the case in between taping of the TV show and eluding her fans who interfere with her investigation. Alex also deals with her ex Randy who wants custody of their daughter Sarah and her boyfriend LAPD Detective Frank Jakes who wants her off the case and demands more quality time with her.

Diva Las Vegas is an amusing whodunit with the tsuris that Alex seems to step into being the prime story line while the investigation takes a back seat. The sleuthing is pure "luck being a leading lady tonight" (from the cover) as Alex makes no progress investigating the case until she "lucks" into the solution. Still fans of the soap opera amateur sleuth series will enjoy this jocular entry because it takes a talented writer to create a work like this.

Nights of Villjamur
Mark Charan Newton
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780345520845, $26.00,

As the ice continues to spread as forecasted decades ago across the Jamur Empire archipelago and when it became obvious the sun was dying, increasingly humans and others coming from all the islands take refuge in the ancient city of Villjamur. Some of the horde of thousands comes for more insidious reasons. Thus stability of leadership even if the top person is insane is critical at this time although some in power like Chancellor Urtica choose personal ambition over what is goo d for the island empire. When the mad emperor Jamur Johynn dies suddenly, placing his untested heir, his elder daughter Rika as the queen, Urtica plans to act to replace her with himself immediately. His strategy is to foster hatred of the desperate immigrants flocking the city before he leads a coup d'etat and an ethic cleansing of all outsiders.

As Rika sits on the throne precariously though sympathetic towards the plight of her people, her mentor Randur Esteyu advises and encourages her while her sister Eir supports her, but her council wants to use her for personal power. Meanwhile someone murders Councilor Ghuda leading to Inspector Rumex Jeryd a nonhuman rumel to investigate at a time the city and kingdom needs unity, not divisions and conspiracies plotting to overthrow the monarchy.

Although the plot starts just a bit faster than the encroaching ice age, Mark Charan Newton creates his world of human and nonhuman; once set (just under a third of the way), the fantasy thriller turns into a police procedural that grips the audience. The cast is solid whether they are human, banshee, rumel or other; but the key player, the dying sun fed ice never feels as if it threatens to destroy all life. Still this is an entertaining tale as death squads initially sent by Johynn and now employed by Urtica use eradication to solve problems though sometimes the dead come back.

Hearts on a String
Kris Radish
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780553384758, $15.00,

The extreme weather conditions running across much of the country shuts down the Tampa International Airport. Five women waiting for flights meet and agree to share a luxury suite at a nearby hotel on the beach. Tense Nan arranges the stay. Joining her are Vegas lounge act Patti, house-mom of three teens Margo, reticent Buckeye hair stylist Holly and sex oozing Cathy.

Each shares their personal tale of triumphs and much more defeats. However, the encounter rejuvenates each of the females; as they make more than just make due of a bad situation; instead being grounded has helped them become grounded.

Each one of the fearsome fab five females has a distinct personality that in turn makes their sisterhood bonding that much stronger. However, instead of only focusing on the quintet's personal life sagas; subplots also involve psychics and secret agents that detract from the group. Still fans of Kris Radish will enjoy being grounded by weather in Tampa with the Hearts on a String quintet.

Shades of Gray
Jackie Kessler & Caitlin Kittredge
9780553386325, $16.00

In New Chicago, Jet and Iridium know their relationship is still changing. Once the pair was the best friends forever; soon afterward they became the best of enemies forever; recently out of desperation they teamed up to defeat the Night (see Black and White) though each believes this changes nothing between them.

However an unintended consequence of their victory over the rogue superhero is in destroying the brainwashing transmitting gizmo that controlled Squadron loyalty has posed a new threat. With no one pledged to Corps-Co any longer since the transmitter failure, the Squadron members are outraged, divided and confused. Extrahumans wants revenge while normal humans are turning catatonic as an old enemy of superheroes Everyman has surfaced with vengeance in mind. While Doctor Hypnotic has escaped incarceration using his mesmerizing power to cause further mayhem for everyone especially the former BFFs who still want to remain on the side of the law though that is increasingly turning impossible as their former allies, their enemies, even a dad, and the humans they pledge to protect are after them.

This is a great work of speculative fiction that rotates past and present through the viewpoints of various characters. Fast-paced with plenty of action as seemingly everyone residing in New Chicago wants to either kill or ate least kick the butts of Jet and Iridium. With a nod to The Watchmen, fans will relish the second Kessler-Kittredge superb superhero world as the heroines learn an inconvenient truth about the past and unintentional second and third order effects.

Frankenstein: Lost Souls
Dean Koontz
9780553808018, $27.00

Deucalion informs his closest friend Brother Salvatore that the former's creator Victor Frankenstein AKA Victor Helios of New Orleans has arisen from the dead again. He knows this because of his dark blood insisting it is so.

Victor uses the name Leben and moves to Rainbow Falls, Montana where he believes he can continue his creationist work using modern science and technology in isolation until he is ready to release his super human species on mankind. He actually has a secret financial backer, Victor begins anew. Meanwhile efficiency expert Rainbow Falls Mayor Erskine Potter meets his only adversary, himself; as the Community replaces him with his "brother".

The quintet that stopped Victor Helios in New Orleans two years ago regroups. Police Detectives Carson O'Connor and Michael Maddison, Victor's manufactured wife Erika 5 and her buddy Jocko, and Deucalion the tormented "Adam" gather in Rainbow Falls. However, unlike their last encounter, this time Victor has a Community of supporters who will kill anyone who interferes with his work; innocent collateral damage is part of being efficient and effective.

Obviously readers of the first Dean Koontz Frankenstein revision trilogy (see The Prodigal Son, City of Night, and Dead or Alive) will relish the return of the creator Dr. Victor while new readers will have no trouble diving into Lost Souls. The key is fully developed to rival Victor's creations as each of the heroic five has doubts while finding being human is not easy to define when you are not God's children. Readers will enjoy this strong investigative science fiction thrill er as the magnificent five anticipate a second High Noon confrontation with Victor, but this time he has powerful allies ready to kill any interfering with his creation of a master race.

Live to Tell
Lisa Gardner
9780553807240, $26.00

She was nine tears old when Danielle Burton heard the shots that killed her mother and two siblings, and finally her father killed himself. Sheriff Warner took her from that house and over the years she became a children's psychiatric nurse at Cambridge Hospital; h ome to children dangerous to others and themselves are housed. Danielle has no friends as work is her life.

Boston police detective D. D. Warren wishes she had a social life, but works always intercedes. On a date for the first time in forever, her beeper rings and she is called to Harrington House where a father killed his wife and their three children before committing suicide. The next day at the Laraquettee-Solis's house, a drug selling father kills his lover and her for kids, and it looks like he took his own life. However he had a heart attack due to being tasered. To Warren the crime scenes looks staged so she seeks a connection and finds one. Both families had children at the pediatric psych ward at Cambridge Hospital where Warren arrives to interrogate the staff, especially the survivor of a previous family massacre. At the same Victoria Oliver brings her troubled son Evan there.

Live to Tell is a heart pumping police procedural medical thriller that takes readers inside a facility where out of control dangerous children are sent for special treatment by dedicated mental health care professionals. Evan is a fascinating child who can be an angel one moment and a devil within a nanosecond. Readers will feel for his beleaguered mom who has doubts about filing him away but knows she cannot give him whatever he needs; it is difficult to decide to institutionalize your child. Fast-paced, readers will appreciate Warren 's dedicated and intense investigation while wondering whether the nurse lost it. However, it is the profound look into the children's psychiatric ward that makes Lisa Gardner's latest thriller a powerful drama.

The White Road
Lynn Flewelling
9780553590098, $7.99

In Rhiminee after all that happened to them starting with enslavement in Plenimar, bone weary Alec and Seregil want to return to the way it was before the shattering recent events (see Shadow's Return). However, both understand that going back to nightrunning cannot happen until they know what to about Alec's "offspring", Sebrahn, not of woman but of Alec's alchemically treated blood.

Sebrahn has paranormal skills that pose a danger to those near him. He can heal as easily as he can kill. However, his major flaw is he cannot stay away from his sire. Alec and Seregil try to learn just what Sebrahn is while adversaries plan to use the offspring as a tool to get at the pair and their friends and clan.

This superior fantasy directly follows previous entries so it behooves newcomers to read them first to better grasp what has happened to the two protagonists that brought them to the White Road. The story line is action-packed as the two Nightrunners fail to get their needed respite as everyone except Alec and Seregil wants control of Sebrahn, a new "weapon". Fans of the series will relish traveling the dangerous White Road with two tested warriors and their "ward" while a horde of foes wants them dead to get them out of the way in order to possess Seregil literally blood kin.

His At Night
Sherry Thomas
9780553592443, $7.99

Her Uncle Edmund Douglas keeps Elissande Edgerton locked away at his home so she can care for his wife, her aunt who is a pale pathetic laudanum addict. Elissande's goal is to never be her aunt, but if she remains under Uncle Edmund's tyrannical care she will be her aunt. She knows her only safe escape is marriage though that can be a risky proposition. However, she cannot even take a chance on that option as her uncle entertains no one and never allows her to go to the galas.

When the neighbor's home is infested by a large rat population, her uncle is forced to host the guests of a house party. One of the attendees is inane big mouth Lord Vere who is apparently an expert on nothing except releasing rodents; even his brother cannot understand what happened to him that turned him into the fool. However, no one understands he performs as the fool as an undercover means to catch vicious criminals. He feels the real fool when Elissande, selecting an idiot, brazenly enters his bedroom causing a scandal that leads to marriage. However, she quickly realizes her husband is brilliant as love and his inquiry lead to danger for both of them.

His at Night is a superb historical romance starring a masquerading fool and the woman who sees past his fašade. Fast-paced, readers will relish this entertaining tale as love rips away the masquerade of the hero, but also places his beloved in terrible danger. Sherry Thomas' tale is a winner for sub-genre fans,

Justice in June
Barbara Levenson
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G, Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781933515717, $24.95

In Miami Carlos Martin asks his girlfriend defense attorney Mary Magruder Katz to defend a family friend Argentinean Luis Corona, accused by the Feds of being a terrorist. Apparently an incident on a flight from Buenos Aires places the now very frightened Corona on what increasingly looks like a one way ticket to Guantanamo.

While trying to keep Corona in Florida rather than deportation to the American prison on Cuba, Mary also represents Judge Elizabeth Maxwell, who swears she is innocent as the Florida Office of the State Attorney investigates her for supposedly accepting under the bench payments for fixing drug cases. If those two cases were not enough, Carlos needs her to defend him on a legal matter too.

The second Katz case load (seer Fatal February) is an enjoyable legal thriller that will have readers needing oxygen breaks to keep up with the frantic pace of marvelous Mary Magruder Katz. Starting with being fired by her client Ramon for representing Luis the suspected terrorist, Justice in June is a torrent of activity for Mary on the legal and personal fronts. Barbara Levenson provides an entertaining South Florida tale starring a wonderful juggler.

Sylvan Street
Deborah Schupack
c/o Penguin Group, USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780452296282, $15.00,

In Ashley-on-Hudson is the cul-de-sac Sylvan Street. Five families live in harmony in this suburban setting up the Hudson Valley from New York City. They are there for each other helping with their kids and more as everyone is a friend to everyone else. In fact Sylvan Street seems like a throwback to a more idyll almost naive era when suburbia was the goal of most Americans.

At a weekend pool party, a suitcase containing one million dollars is found and opened. Suddenly morality and family values prove meaningless as every one of the contenders scheme to possess the loot. Friends and families, the Levolices, the Canes, the Yanivs, the-Hansens, and the Margolis brood want to claim the cash. War has broken out on Sylvan Street.

With a modern day nod to the Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Traven's book and the Bogart movie), Sylvan Street is a great character study as greed and need supersede friendship and to a degree family loyalty. Readers will enjoy this fast-paced character driven saga of the American dream; as many on Main St. are angry at Wall St. but want to move to Wall St. and as angry at the Federal government but want the Feds to lead the cleaning of the Gulf using someone else's money; irony rules.

The War of the Dwarves
Markus Heitz
Orbit Books
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780316049368, $15.99,

Tungdil Bolofar the dwarf has become a legend amidst the various species like the Dwarves, Elves and humans after he led their side to victory over the Nod'onn. Everyone knows defeat would mean genocide with the total destruction of Girdlegard.

The hero hopes to rest somewhat on his laurels but remain vigilant. Tungdil is aware of how precarious the triumph is as the Alfs and the Bognilim Black Water immortal Orcs still plot to drive the Dwarves and humans out of their position of power. He also hears whispers that the demi-god Avatars are preparing to invade from the Outerlands to ethnically cleanse what they believe is evil. However, it is what he does not know yet is that the biggest threat of all are the blood thirsty lethal Thirdlings Dwarves ho are planning a violent coup d'etat.

The follow up to The Dwarves is a super fantasy that expands the Heitz mythology for instance with the addition of the Freeling Dwarves and the new malevolence. The story line moves at a terrific pace on sea, land and underground as the hero of the previous war is back dealing with another nasty menace and treachery from within. The War of the Dwarves is a strong saga as the key cast including the bad dudes seem genuine while the political and social structure of the species enhance the incredibly action packed fantasy.

Tracking the Tempest
Nicole Peeler
9780316056571, $7.99

In Rockabill, Maine hybrid Jane True struggles with learning she is half Selkie. She also tries to understand her new skill as a magic practitioner. However, Jane is also running out of time as purebreds detest Halflings; preferring the Selkie species to be perfectly pure. On the other hand Nell the gnome, Anyan the dog and Trill the kelpie train her on her new skills; though Jane thinks torture is a mire accurate description of their mentoring her.

Her beloved Ryu the vampire is on her side though he is in Boston on a homicide investigation. When she decides to visit her vampiric investigator, Jane never expected to become part of an inquiry he is making into Conleth the Halfling Ifrit, who escaped from a Dorchester lab that blew up right after he got out. Ryu thinks Conleth blew up the lab and has become a serial killer especially of Halflings, but Jane finds several other suspects who will not mind the murder of a nosy Halfling.

The latest Tempest urban fantasy (see Tempest Rising) is an excellent urban fantasy as the heat is on the heroine (and her lover) in Boston. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the heroine joins her "Impaler" lover in Boston and never slows down as the pair search for a paranormal serial killer. Readers will relish Tracking the Tempest as Jane seems truly to be in the eye of the perfect killer storm.

The Reluctant Mage
Karen Miller
9780316029216, $25.99

The last Mage War ended with Morg the sorcerer defeated and the Barl's Wall destroyed. Asher of Restharven and his wife Dathne settle in Dorana hoping to raise a family in peace and domestic tranquility. However, he realized his people still needed his skills and out of protection for his son Rafel blocked some of the child's magical abilities.

Seventeen years since the great war to end all wars, Rafel and Asher argue over the former's magic at a time when Weather Magic is failing. Rafel insists he cross the Barl Mountains to find a legendary magical library in order to research what is needed to save the ir people. Unaware of what exists on the other side, Asher refuses to allow his offspring to go on such a precarious journey. Ignoring his sire, Rafel leaves, but he and his party also vanishes. Magically depleted Asher follows as his daughter Leenie and her companion Charis journey to the south; as she insists her sibling lives and is tormented and Morg's legacy and rebirth flourishes unchecked.

This is a powerful return to Asher the Mage and his family is a terrific entry in a strong quest fantasy saga. The story line is fast-paced except for a bit of generational squabbling that enhances the characterization. However, as with some of the previous Mage tales, the cast makes the plot entertaining as Asher's offspring take control somewhat of the story line. Although newcomers will find it difficult to jump into The Reluctant Mage as there is so much reference to Morg and the last great Mage War, fans of Karen Miller's fabulous saga will relish the escapades of Asher and his brood.

The Crowded Shadows
Celine Kiernan
9780316077088, $14.99

The schism between the father Southlands King Jonathan of Kingcourt and his rebellious son Prince Alberon remains wide and potentially deadly. Wynter Moorehawke searches for the Rebel Prince to learn why the split happened and what his intentions are. However each step on her quest seems dangerous as many have come to join the Rebel Prince's cause.

Thus when Prince Razi and Christopher Garron whom she loves join her, Wynter welcomes them. The trio conceals their identity from rebels, royals, and outlaws as none can be trusted to leave them travel harmlessly. However, the most insidious are Loup-Garou slavers, but the most frightening is rumors that Alberon has forged an alliance with an enemy Marguerite Shirken, who in turn apparently has gained an alliance with the Merron; as everyone seems to want to overthrow King Jonathan.

This sequel to the equally great The Poison Throne is a superb young adult political fantasy filled with plenty of intrigue outside of Kingcourt as strange bedfellows seem to be making alliances. Wynter and her two comrades find potential friends apparently already have joined known enemies as life for the heroine has become increasingly convoluted and complicated; not that love has simplified her personal relationships. This is a strong teen tale as Wynter has no time for coming of age as that will prove to late for the Southlands.

The Unit
Terry DeHart
9780316077408, $13.99

It is no consolation that when the nuclear bombs hit New York City, Philadelphia and Washington DC, the United States retaliated by nuking the nations that enabled the terrorist to strike. More bombs hit big cities with China and Russia joining American and Europe in attacking Al Qaeda and those countries hosting the terrorist group. An EMP Pulse knocked out all electricity so that the scattered survivors have little idea of what is going on beyond their narrow sphere.

The Sharpe family consists of patriarch Jerry, his wife Susan and their two teenage children Melanie and Scott. They travel in search of a safe place to live. On the road the Sharpe family scavenges for food, machinery and clothing that they take from the dead left behind by a feral gang of teens led by the vicious, amoral Billy Jr. His horde escaped Juvie Hall when the lights went out and the guards left. Now the world is there for their taking. Bill wants to kill the Sharpe parents and son, and take Melanie. However, his adversaries have found a defensible position shooting the ambushers. The juvies kidnap Melanie and pass her around so everyone can enjoy raping her. Jerry searches for her with rage in his heart while his spouse and son continue their journey although now the radiation sickness is coming with the contaminated snow.

Once the country's centrifuge collapses after the bombs fall, people fail to bond; instead they kill without remorse. Each member of the Sharpe family and Billy tell their tale in the first person in alternating chapters so that the readers comprehend what each is thinking and what motivates their actions. Putting aside whether the abduction should have occurred, Terry DeHart's post-apocalyptic chilling version of On the Beach in which an apparent entire nation and perhaps world has gone crazy with kill or be killed as the only rule of law.

Tempting The Marquess
Sara Lindsey
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451230447, $6.99,

In 1798 Lady Olivia Weston is about to have her debut London season. A die hard romantic, Olivia is pragmatic as she knows she will marry out of need not desire. However, she can dream of an adventure with one of the hunks who star in her readings.

Olivia and her aunt head to Wales for Christmas. When she meets Lord Jason Traherne, father of an ailing child, she thinks he stepped out of one of her books as a menacing hero. As she tries to understand the man, she falls in love as does he. However, she believes deep in her hurting heart he still loves his late wife and has not moved passed her death.

The latest Weston Regency romance (see Promise Me Tonight) is an engaging tale mostly due to Olivia who is the late eighteenth century version of Bonnie Tyler's song "I Need a Hero". However, she soon learns the other side of holding out for a hero as he has traits that are not endearing to her; on the other hand his kisses are. Sub-genre readers will relish this Weston woman's witty war for love with her reluctant hero.

The Wicked Wyckerly
Patricia Rice
9780451230713, $7.99

In 1807, following the deaths of his father and brother, John Fitzhugh "Fitz" Wyckerly becomes Earl of Danecroft. Being the spare, Fitz was predominantly ignored. He used his brilliancy in math to make money gambling that enabled him live a hedonistic lifestyle with no previous interest in the family estate or fortune.

Fitz finds out the estate is falling apart and he owes a fortune. He does not need to compute to know he cannot gamble his way out of debt as he owes that much. Instead Fitz needs a wealthy wife so he decides to recognize his illegitimate daughter Penelope and take her to London with him as the tool to entice a spouse with money.

Affluent widow Isabell Hoyt is a young Dowager Marchioness. When she reads letters sent to her late spouse from Abigail Merriweather, she decides to sponsor young women bestowing dowries so that they have options besides accepting a husband not of their desire. Lord Quentin Hoyt bets her that these females will choose spouses. The first stake is Abby the farmer who just lost custody of her four young half siblings. Fitz and Penelope arrive at Abby's place causing havoc as the female farmer considers marrying a lawyer who will help her regain custody of her family if she can find one. Adding to the chaos is the arrival of Isabell.

The first Rebellious Sons Regency romance is a fast-paced entertaining gender war enhanced by the chaos that reminded this reviewer of the cabin scene in Night of the Opera as one more person kept arriving. The wager enhances the fun although betting on Regency relationships has been done before. Fitz and Abby are a wonderful pairing as she enjoys his flirting yet knows he stinks as a father at a time she wants custody of her siblings. Sub-genre fans will enjoy the wild Wicked Wyckerly.

Red Demon
Deidre Knight
9780451230454, $7.99

Although his beloved died a hundred years ago, Aristos Petrakos still grieves his loss. Adding to his misery is his feeling of guilt as he believes that the love of his life Juliana Tiades loathed his shapeshifting and his wings so chose death by drowning in the Savannah River rather than an abomination like him.

Sophie Lowery visits Ari and informs him that she believes Juliana's spirit lives at her house and is trying to contact him as if she does not comprehend she is dead. He does not believe her, but cannot ignore what she said just in case his Juliana needs help and perhaps a miracle. Juliana wants to be with her beloved Ari so has not accepted she died a century ago. An apparent female angel gives her a chance to return to corporal form and she takes it; not grasping the Faustian deal she made. However, Ari has doubts that this is Juliana and besides he spent ten decades in remorse believing she rejected him. Juliana has to persuade her Ari to listen to their hearts.

This is an excellent Gods of Midnight (see Ted Kiss) romantic urban fantasy with a terrific premise as a second chance at love for a relatively short time together comes with the price of likely one and maybe two souls. Fast-paced throughout with a strong lead pair and a solid support cast to include Sophie the medium, a fuming Ares, a Djinn demon, and the Spartan Brotherhood; fans will need to set aside time as this is a one sitting red eye special.

Forged Of Shadows
Jessa Slade
9780451229779, $6.99

In Chicago, Jilly Chan is stunned when she loses her job working with street kids as the cause in her mind is not apparent. She is even more shocked with the Ascendant of a penitence demon seeking atonement who possesses her to fight evil.

Liam Niall informs the feisty Jilly that she has been asked to join a team of warriors also possessed by demons. However, he also rejects their apparent psychic bond. Meanwhile club owner Bella hangs around Liam while Jilly's allies are dying as a new form of malevolence has surfaced. Liam begins to question whether Lilly is the evil or the other half of his Mated-Talyn Bonds.

This is an exciting urban fantasy starring two likable individuals who lost half their souls during a demon Ascendant although a century and a half apart as he came from Ireland during the Irish Famine of the mid nineteenth century. The story line is fast-paced with a strong cast making the two realms (human and demon) and the separating veil seem real. Although Liam's guilt and doubts seem off kilter and unnecessarily forced, fans will relish his dilemma mindful of Frank Stockton's The Lady or the T iger as he considers trusting in the love soul mating bonding or killing his love.

Cheat The Grave
Vicki Pettersson
Eos Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061456770, $7.99,

In Las Vegas Joanna Archer knew what she was giving up when she rescued a child to save the light. Her sacrifice is her superpowers and her allies.

Although she swears she would do it again Joanna has nagging doubts. Her destiny not only radically altered by her good deed, her friends deserted her; in fact they want to kill her. Feeling alone but forced by her revised destiny to act if the prophecy is to occur, Joanna travels through a nightmare in which everyone is her enemy, but one particular psychopathic predator plots to kill her. Joanna knows only her former foes give her a chance to survive and fulfill the prophecy.

The latest Sign of the Zodiac is a terrific entry that centers on Joanna in a twisting of the coming of age theme. Urban fantasy readers will enjoy the fast-paced thriller that wastes no time by moving out from the onset. Joanna is terrific as she struggles with a myriad of emotions with the changes to her. She makes Cheat the Grave a great novel and though the story line can stand by itself, it is enhanced by reading the previous books to see how far the metamorphosis occurred.

Swords and Dark Magic
Edited by Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders
9780061723810, $15.99

Although this strong fantasy anthology claims to be the new sword and sorcery, most of the entries feel like entertaining throwbacks to Robert E. Howard or to a contributor's long running series. None of the entries are clinkers; in fact most are quite strong. "The Sea Troll's Daughter" by Caitlin R. Kiernan stars a villain rescuing a damsel in distress while Steven Erickson presents the multiple perspectives of five surviving riders of the Goats of Glory troop retreating from an invincible enemy. However, much of the fun in this fine collection resides with the return of heroes (and antiheroes). Michael Moorcock contributes Elric in "Red Pearls"; Cugel the Clever stars in Michael Shea's "Dapple How the Tint Master"; "Dark Times at the Midnight Market" by Robert Silverberg is led by Majipoor: and finally the Black Company of Glen Cook heads "Tides Elba". With the rest of the authors being a who's who of fantasy, readers will enjoy Sword and Dark Magic although once again the compilation is less the "New Sword and Sorcery" and more homage to the late great Mr. Howard.

The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree
Susan Wittig Albert
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425234457, $24.95,

In May 1930 in Alabama, the ladies of Dahlia try to stay optimist during the Great Depression at a time when the local Darling Savings and Trust may go bust. Twelve of the women form the Darling Garden Club, use an estate inherited from the late Mrs. Dahlia Blackstone as their prime meeting locale. The club president Miss Elizabeth "Lizzy" Lacy writes a gardening column for The Darling Dispatch while the group welcomes anyone to join them; unlike their enemy the Sisters of Spa de snobs.

As they search for allegedly hidden booty under an apparent haunted cucumber tree on the estate, drugstore clerk Eva Louise "Bunny" Scott vanishes; at the same time a prison break occurs. When Bunny is found dead, most of the townsfolk assume the floozy picked the wrong hunk; probably one of the escaped convicts. Led by their three officers (Lizzy, probate clerk secretary widow Verna Tidwell and mayor's wife, Ophelia Snow), the Dahlia Darlings investigate Bunny's death even as they squabble amongst themselves over who owns the cache found under the cucumber tree.

The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree is an excellent timely regional Depression Era amateur sleuth that brings to life the atmosphere of a period in which people are concerned over the economy that has left no chicken in almost any pot. The investigation cleverly interweaves within 1930 Alabama though the Dahlia Darlings as each in their way struggles with the surviving the Depression. Susan Wittig Albert, author of the modern day China Bayles and early twentieth century Beatrix Potter mysteries shows her talent as she writes a great period piece somewhat in between the settings of her two strong long-running series.

Nine Lives Last Forever
Rebecca M. McHale
9780425234327, $7.99

Her last blood relative Uncle Oscar died and within a week of his death, Rebecca lost her job at an accounting firm. She moves into the apartment above the Green Vase antique shop she inherited from Oscar, accompanied by her cats Rupert and Isabella. She quickly learned that her uncle used the store as a front to locate hidden treasures of historical figures he researched.

Life turns dangerous when Frank tries to kill her using spider venom. She knows he still stalks her so she s so frightened she rarely leaves the shop. Her cats notice frogs in the apartment and give chase. Rebecca learns city hall has a frog infestation too. She ponders what her late uncle meant when he advised her with a note to "follow the frogs". Desperate and confused she visits Oscar's friend. Meeting Oscar's eccentric friends, Rebecca asks about the enigmatic note, but none of them grasp the meaning. However, dealing with betrayal and a stalker, Rebecca needs to know rather quickly what the hell is going on.

The protagonist makes the tale work as she just wants to live a serene ordinary life, but is caught up initially in failure and fear, but quickly moves on to eccentricity as Uncle Oscar's zany crew welcome her as their leader. With a nod to the late Academy librarian Margaret Herrick for claiming claimed the annual awards statue looked like her Uncle Oscar; this tale crosses Charlie Chan with the Three Stooges to give readers an idea of Nine Lives Last Forever, a wild refreshing over the top of Nob Hill thriller.

Delicious and Suspicious
Riley Adams
9780425235539, $6.99

Aunt Pat's barbeque restaurant is a favorite place to eat and hang out. Located in Memphis, the pit is run by Lulu Taylor and her sons Seb the baby of the family and the more responsible Ben. The Cooking Channel is considering a spot there. Rebecca Adrian arrives to decide, but must also visit Lulu's rival Lurlene at Hog Heaven.

Rebecca does not do anything to ingratiate herself with the people she meets whether they are friendly or needing her help or wanting to assist her; in fact she goes out of her way to be nasty. She tells Lulu's daughter-in-law that her art work is horrific and not good enough for a shoeing. After that she informs Lulu's friend Mildred her writing is pathetic and she tries to blackmail Jeb by threatening to reveal his prison record. Lulu goes to see Rebecca at her hotel, only to find her dead. To clear the restaurant of culpability and to insure her family is not accused of a homicide, Lulu investigates not trusting the cops, but is unprepared with what she uncovers.

This entertaining regional amateur sleuth gives the audience a taste of living in Nashville, especially owning a restaurant in a tourist attraction city. Rebecca was so mean and malicious to anyone who dared enter her sphere; she is over the top of Clingman's Dome. However, Lulu though she has personal reasons to investigate also feels she didn't deserve murder; obviously someone else did. With a strong fully seasoned support cast who enhances the whodunit, Delicious and Suspicious is truly scrumptious.

The Feather
Red Garnier
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451230065, $15.00,

When attorney James Hamilton's firm takes over the company corporate lawyer Meredith Sinclair works for, the two lawyers work together on the negotiations of a smooth transition. However, each is attracted to the other, but neither makes the first step as both understand the merger supersedes their desires. That said that does not stop either from fantasizing and having sexual encounters.

When James applies a magical feather on Meredith, she vanishes having been sent back to 1844 England where she is Margaret the courtesan in training. In Hyde Park, Margaret meets Gavin, who appears to be James. When she returns to her James, Meredith calls out some other man's name leaving James jealous and upset.

This is a strange exciting heated romance in which the prime mystery of the story line is what the Feather is, as that is not explained beyond displaying one capability. James and Meredith are an interesting pairing as they seem so compatible and falling in love yet totally interpret the impact of the business merger quite differently. Readers will enjoy Red Garnier's tale and want more feathery future fables, but also need insight into The feather itself as that gizmo is the key "support character".

Wedding Favors
Nikita Black, Allyson James and Sheri Whitefeather
9780425234587, $15.00

"Binding Her Heart" by Nikita Black. Laura the bride takes her bridesmaid including a stunned Tessa Kittredge to Chez Duchesne, a private sex club in the French Quarter. Owner Treves "Shay" Duchesne is bored until he meets Tessa; who is not much more than a virgin.

"Mortal Sensations" by Allyson James. Even back in high school almost a decade ago, Madison Rainey wanted Thomas Dupree. Now she as a bridesmaid and with him as the best man, she still feels the heat of desire. He is jealous that Keith Girard seems to want his woman. Thomas apologizes for fumbling their date nine years ago and they go to Maddy's house to make love. However, Keith captures her giving Thomas a blow job on the Net and extorts what he wants from her. Meanwhile wedding participant Alexi join Thomas and Maddy in a menage a trois, but she wants more fro m her beloved.

"Dungeon Dreams" by Sheri Whitefeather. In the Garden District at the Bonswa Inn, bridesmaid Kendra Maddon gets hot with her erotic fantasy that gets hotter when she meets innkeeper James Rideau. In a secret room, abetted by the daughter of Marie the Voodoo Queen, and a Victorian necklace, this couple finds all they desire with the Elusive Butterfly of Love.

With a heated nod to Three Coins in a Fountain, these novellas are wonderful whimsical erotic fantasy romances containing the magic of love, New Orleans, and sultry sex.

Tempting Eden
Margaret Rowe
9780425234310, $15.00

Since her mother a widow married Baron Ivor Horford, Eden Emery's formerly comfortable life falls into hell in a hand basket. However, even she never envisioned the demands of her stepfather. She acquiesces as she deserves no less a punishment for being an unmarried ruined woman.

After four years in hell in 1818 she is frightened but also euphoric when the baron drops dead. Now she can focus on caring for her dying sister. She assumes the new baron is a chip off the old block while he assumes anyone who stayed within the home of either his uncle or father is depraved. In fact Stuart Hart joined the military to leave his disreputable family. As they fall in love, nothing will happen unless he realizes she was a victim not a willing companion of his abusive family member.

Tempting Eden is a profound somewhat depressing Regency erotic romance as Eden owns the plot with her plight of having an abusive predatory stepfather. Fast-paced even when tied up in bed, sub-genre fans who relish reality in a torrid story line will want to read Margaret Rowe's entertaining historical.

Band of Angels
Julia Gregson
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781439101131, $16.00,

As a child living by the beaches in 1840s in Wales, Catherine Carreg lived a carefree without much parental supervision. She especially enjoyed riding ponies on the beach while competing against her best friend Deio, the son of a cattle driver. However, Catherine also hated living in the small hamlet as the gossip follows everywhere. In fact whisperers forced her father to forbid her spending time with Deio and when her mom died in childbirth, her life tur ned even more untenable.

The first chance she gets to escape to London she takes; abetted by her buddy. Catherine obtains a position in Florence Nightingale's home for sick governesses at a time the Crimea War is in the news. She volunteers as a nurse at a time her beloved Deio enlists as a soldier. The horrors of war force both to grow up instantly in order to cope with death and mayhem; neither fully comes to grip with what they witness and must do as duty calls while engulfed by the fog of being a t or near the front.

The key to this strong Crimean War drama is the battle scenes and their aftermath are not dumbed down or hidden off page as Julia Gregson depicts the nightmare in vivid blood red and gruesome gray. The horrors that the lead couple witness force both to mature rapidly if they want to emotionally survive even with their love for one another. Readers will appreciate the aptly titled Band of Angels as the spotlight is on the mid nineteenth century conflict through the eyes of two young volunteers; who rather quickly ask themselves the Edwin Starr question on war - what is it good for?

The Perfect Happiness
Santa Montefiore
9781439183465, $15.00

In London, Angelica Lariviere lives the perfect life. Her husband Olivier the French banker adores her and their two precocious children love her. On top of that she a popular children's book author with friends who think the world of her and her family.

At a dinner party Angelica and Jack Meyer meet. They are instantly attracted to one another flirt seemingly harmlessly until it turns into a heated tryst. They hook up in Capetown, South Africa where she is on a book tour and he owns vineyards. Angelica knows she has complex decisions to make that she puts off until she returns to England where she assesses what she would lose if she pursued passion.

This is an intriguing character driven relationship tale in which Angelica as the key protagonist must choose between seemingly tedious comfort and passionate zeal. The support cast is strong especially her family and friends while ironically her lover brings out her passion yet fails to do so with readers even when he provides a stunning revelation. Fans will wonder will Angelica choose her family or her lover as she understands that her personality is radically different with each of them.

Adena Halpern
9781439171127, $14.99

In Philadelphia, fifty-five years old Barbara Sustamon and her husband Larry the dentist host a birthday party for her widowed mom Ellie Jerome. The cake from the Swiss Pastry Shop contains twenty-nine candles. Ellie wishes to be that age again for one day, as she is jealous of her twenty-five years old fashion designer granddaughter Lucy and has a lifetime of regrets as well as a closet filled with clothing provided by her decade older late husband Howard.

The next morning Ellie awakens to find her wish came true. She persuades Lucy that she is Ellie and they begin to make her day happen even as Barbara and Ellie's BFF septuagenarian widow Frida Freedberg worry about her strange phone calls to each of them. As Barbara and Frida search for Ellie, Lucy and her grandma begin an odyssey that will have more meaning for the four of them and others.

The four females make for a profound character driven tale as each has regrets except the youngest. Ellie is superb as she learns she is not jealous of her granddaughter's opportunities but of her era allowing women chances her generation never had as marriage was the only goal. Barbara just wishes to prove her worth to her mother. Frida prays she can finally move on passed her late mom who haunts her every decision. Ironically Lucy as the under thirty is the wisest. 29 is a deep tale with some humor provided by the searchers.

Silent Scream
Lynda La Plante
9781439139288, $15.00

Twenty something movie star Amanda Delany is a favorite of the paparazzi and tabloids as she always makes infamous news with drugs and sex. When a publisher offers a ton of money for a tell-all titivating autobiography, Amanda accepts the offer. However, before she can write her expose, someone murders her in her Belgravia mews house that she had occupied for only eight weeks.

Detective Inspector Anna Travis leads the police investigation knowing the unscrupulous media will do anything including interfering and intruding on her inquiry to gain a scoop. However, the crime scene provides no useful information. Worse motives are galore as Anna trafficked in drug and man usage as she was a serial marriage destroyer and then there is the memoir. With the media clamoring for instant results, Anna's former lover and a previous direct reports supervisor Detective Chief Superintendent James Langton demands she resolve the case yesterday even as a financial scam surfaces that adds a potential monetary motive to the complex case.

In her fifth case, Travis is terrific as she shows little growth as an investigator from her previous cases like Deadly Intent; yet is up for a promotion as the Peter Principle apparently is winning out. Her somewhat early ineptitude enhances a fun whodunit though the culprit will be easily identified by readers much earlier than the cops do. Silent Scream is an entertaining British police procedural starring a cop who may have risen above her skill level yet remains confident in her abilities to stride for a promotion.

Days of Grace
Catherine Hall
Viking Books
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780670021765, $25.95,

As the Germans bomb London, many children are evacuated to the countryside. Twelve years old Nora Lynch is one such 12 year old. In Kent Vicar and Mrs. Rivers takes Nora into their home. Over the next few years she relishes living with the Lynch family and dreads going back to London as their daughter, Grace, who is her age, becomes like a sister to her; even as she begins to the notice the cracks in the idyllic family.

Five decades later, Nora is dying from cancer. She brings into her home a single teenage mom Rose and her newborn daughter whom she helped bring into the world as a midwife. Rose allows Nora to name her baby and the grateful elderly woman calls her Grace.

This is a fascinating tale with two subplots fifty years apart that ultimately converge in a terrific climax. Nora, Grace, and Rose are wonderful fully developed protagonists who make the duality entertaining to follow. Although the key support cast is not as solid as needed to further flesh out the tale, fans will relish the fabulous Days of Grace.

Elisa Carbone
9780670011858, $16.99

After he tried and failed at suicide, Critter was locked away at a mental institution. However, he didn't hang around; long because he was able to escape from the asylum.

Over her objections, her parents plan to send P.K. to boarding school. She refuses to hang around so she runs away from home.

Critter and P.K. meet at a rock gym and recognize in each other a similar lost soul mentality. She invites him on a rock-climbing trip that he accepts. Both understand that their freedom sojourn will end once the authorities catch them or funds run out. As the pair begins to fall in love mounting one rock at a time, each finds a renewed elan for life.

Targeting middle school readers, this is a terrific tale of two teens on the run together staying one jump ahead of the authorities chasing after them. Critter and P.K. find a common bond with one another. Fast-paced with ultra short chapters that rotate perspective mostly between the lead pair, fans will root for the runaways who find each other on rocks and a dumpster, but can they sustain it when both has issues that cage them.

Wolves, Boys and Other Things That Might Kill Me
Kristen Chandler
9780670011421, $17.99

Although only sixteen years old, KJ Carson has incredible wilderness skills due to personal experiences with her single parent, a wilderness guide. She can fish and hike in the wilds with the best. The teen uses her talent to guide tourists around Yellowstone National Park.

Young city slicker Virgil and her mom arrive in West End, Montana where KJ has lived all her life. The newcomers persuade KJ to write about the endangered wolves living in the nearby park. KJ and Virgil write articles for the school newspaper about the wolves in the wild that split the less than 1000 townsfolk into divided camps: those who have lost livestock to wolves and want them hunted as deadly predators and those who believe they are critical parts of the ecosystem.

This is an interesting middle school drama that encourages (at times with a sledgehammer) people especially the young to adhere to your values and not let anyone bully you into doing something you feel is wrong or even leaves you uncomfortable. KJ is a fascinating lead character as she is refreshingly surly and brooding more often than not. Readers will relish the morose one as she takes a stand to protect the wolf population while also learning that boys like Virgil are more dangerous to her health than wolves

Elizabeth Hand
9780670012121, $15.99

Fourteen years old Madeleine and Rogan share much in common. Each is the youngest of six siblings; their fathers are identical twins; and symmetry between the two families that seemed almost eerily paranormal. However, the most common shared trait between these two first cousins is their love for one another. Although he has five older brothers and she has five older sisters of which they match ages and the other fourteen first cousins from the three siblings of their fathers, Madeline and Rogan are the only kissing cousins.

From their great-grandmother, a renowned actress as were her ancestors and family peers, the pair has inherited her stage talent; none of the current extended family members have a neutrino worth of talent in spite of their DNA. After finally making love for the first time, the duo discovers in the Hudson Valley attic of the family mansion a toy cardboard theater with pieces of lace. Each visit to the attic finds a different scene. The school casts the two cousins in a production of Twelfth Night that parallels the toy theater. Rogan begins to comprehend his love for Madeline parallels his Shakespearean character wise clown Feste as most likely his drama unlike the comedy Twelfth Night will end in a tragedy.

This is an intriguing romantic fantasy that focuses on young teenage love with a profound look at the taboo subject of first cousins' incest by using drama in the attic and at the school play to explore deeply the passion and desire of the kissing kin. Rogan and Madeline are fully developed so the audience will feel their love for each other as more than puppy adulation. Yet the audience like Rogan who gained wisdom as Feste anticipates their prim and proper families (except perhaps their late great grandma) will condemn and keep them apart as what they feel for each other is unacceptable in society.

The Caretaker of Lorne Field
Dave Zeltserman
The Overlook Press
141 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10012
9781590203033, $23.95,

Like eight generations of first sons of ancestors before him, Jack Durkin works weed control at Lorne Field. His job sounds mundane, but is actually dangerous. He and his ancestors remove the feral blood sucking Aukowies plants that could take over the entire globe in a few weeks if removal is neglected.

Jack works diligently, but the next in line, his oldest son Lester, believes his father is a crackpot and refuses to do the job when it is his turn. He has his mom Lydia's support as she is tired of the family living impoverished on a caretaker salary while also seeing her oldest offspring as her ticket (and that of Jack) out of the caretaking drudgery. Even the townsfolk who have paid the Durkin salary for nine generations balk at a threat no one has seen; mostly because Jack takes care of business before the Aukowies can bloom. Feeling increasingly alone, Jack believes it is time to prove his worth, but the only way he can do so is let the plants bloom.

The Caretaker of Lorne Field is a fabulous amusing tale that grips the reader with a need to know whether the monster is real, a centuries old con, or generational lunacy. Jack is great as he believes, but is caught in the dilemma of his only proof is to let the Aukowies run wild. Dave Zeltserman is at his zany, dark yet in an odd way profound thriller.

Tutankhamun: The Book of Shadows
Nick Drake
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780060765927, $24.99,

As the Thebes Medjay Chief Detective, Rahotep has seen his fill of gruesome crime scenes. However, in Year 10 of the Reign of King Tutankhamun, a ritual homicide may be the worst yet. A young male was mutilated with his eyes removed.

A second killing identical to the first concerns Rahotep, who fears someone is using murder to pressure the nineteen years old Pharaoh Tutankhamun and the two men who run the Kingdom in his name, Ay the regent and Horemheb the army commander. Rahotep knows the culprit is clever and probably has high level backing if his premise of testing the leaders is valid. He conducts his investigation discreetly to keep his beloved wife Tanefert and their three daughters and baby son safe while also performing his duty.

This is a superb Ancient Egypt serial killer investigation that brings to life Thebes in the 14the century BC. The inquiry is terrific as Rahotep tries to balance his duties with his fears for his family from vicious insidious killers. Fast-paced, readers will appreciate this strong whodunit wrapped inside a great historical (see Nefertiti for Rahotep's previous case).

A Fierce Radiance
Lauren Belfer
9780061252518, $25.99

In Manhattans, Life Magazine sends photographer thirty something Claire Shipley to cover the report that medical scientists have developed an elixir from mold that looks like it will help with diseases. The single mom who lost her daughter years ago due to an infection/poison in her blood is exhilarated with what she hears at the briefing.

Dr. James Stanton who heads the research is attracted to Claire; she reciprocates and soon they are engaged. As Pearl Harbor draws the United States into the war, the pharmaceutical giants want to control mass production of penicillin. At the same time James' sister mycologist Tia searches for relatives of penicillin, but something with promise vanishes from her lab. The Feds with publisher Henry Luce cooperating use Claire to help with their inquiry while her financier father wants control of the new industry. James, who was overseas helping with the deploying of penicillin, comes home believing that his future father-in-law had his sister murdered and her former boyfriend stole the promising antitoxin cousin from Tia.

This is an interesting look at historical industrial espionage and murder during WWII. The story line effortlessly moves back and forth between New York City boardrooms, labs and battlefield medicine. Adding to the sense of being at the forefront of the antibiotic revolution is Life magazine photo ops (through Claire's camera lens). Although the personal relationships add depth to the lead couple, their estrangement and romance slows down an otherwise electrifying deep look back at a wild medical frontier.

Based Upon Availability
Alix Strauss
9780061845260, $13.99

Although the years have passed, Manhattan's Four Seasons Hotel manager Morgan has never moved beyond the death of her beloved older sister Dale, who died of leukemia when they were children. Morgan has no one to talk to and has not had anyone since Dale died though she is always there for her mom especially on her late sister's birthday and death day. This is ironic to Morgan as she is seeing someone, but cannot truly tell anyone how much she wants to talk to Dale.

When Morgan meets art gallery owner Trish, she believes she has met a similar hurting kindred spirit. Trish has never moved passed her fiance dumping her just prior to their wedding and her friendship with her BFF seems over as her former buddy gets married. Trish, like Morgan, sees a kindred hurting spirit and soon they meet others like them.

This is a poignant drama as the audience sees deep inside Morgan, Trish and several other women. Alix Strauss escorts readers behind closed doors of the hotel that serve as a metaphor for taking fans beyond the closed doors into the minds of various people. Morgan is terrific as she with the hotel holds the story line together as readers meet a horde of women (besides the two above) with diverse relationship issues; as one never fully moves on passed a trauma.

The Great Lover
Jill Dawson
9780061924361, $13.99

Rupert Brooke arrives in Grantchester, England where he runs the gamut of relationships. He is attracted to a reticent schoolgirl, but flirts outrageously with any female he meets. A male friend seduces Rupert into his first sexual encounter.

In 1909 prim and proper housemaid Nell Golightly has watched Rupert's carouse and thinks he is shameless. Since her parents died, she vowed to never fall in love as that hurts the survivor. However, Nell falls into swooning lust when she runs into Rupert as he goes for a skinny dip swim. They begin a tryst, but he turns increasingly morose as his myriad of affairs leave him without solace at a time he grieves the death of his brother and doubts his poetry writing skills. Instead of turning to Nell, he rejects her for a Tahitian.

Nell makes this deep biographical fiction of the Pre WW I era British poet Rupert Brooke come alive as she tells the tale of a talented young man who confused making love with being in love while ironically he sought love everywhere he went. Although he is The Great Lover, in Nell's mind her Rupert also lacked confidence in sustaining and receiving love and his talent as a poet. Jill Dawson provides a powerful perceptive portrait of a man questing for love.

When Winter Returns
Kathryn Miller Haines
9780061579578, $14.99

In 1943, Rosie Winter and her best friend Jayne Hamilton are elated to be back in New York following their traumatic South Pacific USO tour (see Winter in June). The pair makes a special stop in Upstate New York to pay their respects to the parents of Billy DeMille, Jayne's late fiance who died in action two months ago.

However, the pair is stunned to learn their Billy was not the real Billy; he stole the identity of DeMille who died at Pearl harbor during the infamous attack. At the George Bernard Shaw Home for Women Pursuing Theatrical Vocations in Manhattan, Rosie shares rooms with her enemy Ruby Priest, and Jayne with eccentric Ann Fremont. They visit the apartment of the Billy they knew and find German letters written in disappearing ink and a stack of money. Jayne's mobster former boyfriend Tony is causing trouble and the two performers cannot find parts as another gangster Vinnie has blacklisted them. Finally Jack is back; apparently having deserted after being injured while at war

The latest Winter WW II drama is a superb tale as the can-can girls return home bringing alive mostly Manhattan with their lively dance steps. The mystery of "the wrong Mr. Wright is fun to follow while the two actresses struggle to find work, having been blacklisted by the Mob several years before McCarthy did likewise. Rosie is at her best as she weaves a web of lies to protect her friends only to be overwhelmed with keeping track while also trying to solve everyone's problems because everything's not coming up Rosie.

Wedding Cake
Lynne Hinton
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061711510, $13.99,

Though they recently seen her (see Christmas Cake), the ladies of Hope Springs, North Carolina miss their former pastor and close friend Charlotte Stewart since she moved to New Mexico to run a battered women's shelter. Charlotte has doubts about committing to her boyfriend because she fears she will end up just like the women who stay here; likewise she misses her Tar Heel buddies.

Meanwhile in North Carolina, Jessie and James Wilkins instead of renewing their vows have separated. Busybody Beatrice Witherspoon tries to intervene though she changes her objective when she learns her daughter is engaged and serendipitously sending out invites. Finally, lesbian Louise Fisher accepts a wedding proposal from the widower of recently deceased best BFF Margaret.

The fifth Hope Springs Ladies cake series (see The Friendship Cake) is an engaging celebration of friendship and camaraderie although it lacks the tear jerker poignancy of the last tale (see Christmas Cake). The story line is character driven with a charming throwback feel to a less complicated time. Although perhaps too fluffy, fans will not care as we celebrate the latest slice of hope springs eternal life filled with best buddies and recipes.

The Sister Wife
Diane Noble
9780061962226, $12.99

In 1841 recently converted to Mormonism, Lady Mary Rose Ashley travels by ship from Liverpool, England to America. On board the Sea Hawk, she meets ship builder Gabriel MacKay. They are attracted to one another; she introduces him to her new religious beliefs; and they marry.

The newlyweds settle in Nauvoo, where Mormon prophet Joseph Smith preaches his revelations from God. Joseph's latest proclamation is that polygamy is acceptable and encouraged. He directs Gabriel to wed Mary Rose's best friend, the widow Bronwyn so she can be taken care of. Gabriel and Bronwyn agree to marry, but she insists on a nonphysical arrangement; however Mary Rose believes that though she is his first wife she might be losing her husband to his second wife. Then there is Enid who plans to become Gabriel's first wife regardless of prior spouses.

The first Brides of Gabriel tale is a strong relationship historical drama that takes a deep look at Mormon polygamy without preaching pro or con. Instead the cast makes the tale powerful as engrossed readers reflect on their belief system that encourages under certain proscribed circumstances multiple marriages in order to economically support several households that insures the caring of widows and orphans. Americana readers and those interested in alternate societal systems w ill relish the well written The Sister Wife.

Seven Secrets Of Seduction
Anne Mallory
9780061579158, $7.99

In 1820 in London, bookshop clerk Miranda Chase reads the top selling book in the city, The Seven Secrets of Seduction; as is everyone else. The book flies off the shelf. Unlike the vast majority of readers who see it as porn, Miranda sees the novel as a well written erotic tale of love with strong characters.

Viscount Maximilian debates the merit of the book insisting it is babble. He enjoys arguing with Miranda as he is attracted to her. To get her inside his house and from there his bedroom, he invites her to organize his vast library. There she finds him to be caring and passionate though hidden by his cynicism while he discerns her to be charming and intelligent. Miranda writes to her pen pals she is in love, but he is to wed high society not a shop clerk so she asks them should she accept Maxim's offer of kept mistress.

This is an intelligent amusing Regency romance starring a likable lead couple and the title book that provides the seven secrets. Readers will relish the metamorphosis of Maxim from cynic to believer as he as much as his beloved learn the key secrets lessons of seduction and enchantment, but mostly of love. Anne Mallory provides the sub-genre audience with a refreshing historical.

My Reckless Surrender
Anna Campbell
9780061684319 May 25 2010,

In 1827 widow Diana Carrick wants the country house that she has managed for years. However, the house is now owned by a noted rake Earl Tarquin Vale. She decides to seduce him in exchange for his giving his property to her.

Tarquin is bored with London and its simpering women. When Diana offers herself to him, he rejects her as being another no brain all beauty. However, he dreams of making love to her so after meeting again, he decides to seduce this brazen widow who has already enticed his mind. As they share a tryst, he displays radical modern thoughts of gender equality while she fears her secret will destroy their relationship that has turned to love

This enjoyable historical romance is refreshed by the attitude of the widow who decides to use her body to get what she wants, his country house. Vale is somewhat typical of the sub-genre: a weary rake with the exception of his position on gender in parliament. He gets education in seduction but it is her secret that threaten their relationship. Anna Campbell writes a wonderful deep character driven tale.

When Marrying A Scoundrel
Kathryn Smith
9780061923005, $7.99

Years ago Jack Farrington abandoned his wife. To eat Sadie Moon became a fortune teller, which she is quite good at. However, lately her tea leaves readings have included some personal messages that she cannot fathom what they mean. Jack's visage keeps showing up.

In 1877 wealthy investor Jack Friday and Sadie meet when she wants to lease a store from him. Neither lets the other know they recognize one another as their spouse. He remains angry that she deserted him and she feels likewise. Both moved on. However, each quickly realizes they remain in love, but will either risk their heart again; if they do they will learn the truth of why they separated and who plots to keep them apart. If they don't, a second chance to correct what should have been will be lost as will their respective hearts.

This is a strong second chance Victorian romance if either of the still in love star-crossed pair takes that key first step of reconciliation. Both are likable but obstinate not trusting the other or their betraying heart. Fans will enjoy this profound historical due to the strong lead pair while reading the tea leaves that insist their friends will continue the gender war.

Sugar Creek
Toni Blake
9780061765797, $7.99

Only for her grandma Edna would Rachel Farris return to Destiny, Ohio. However, when her granny tells her she is lonely needing help with apple harvest, Rachel runs home.

As soon as reaches town, Rachel has an incident with police officer Mike Romo. Since their families are feuding as they have for years over Edna's apple farm, the pair ignores their attraction. However, Rachel learns Mike has offered to purchase the Farris Family Apple Orchard which angers her further. Still as Mike and Rachel fall in love, will their feelings for one another supersede the animosity between their families. It will take courage to do so.

This is an amusing entertaining contemporary Buckeye version of Romeo and Juliet that pays "homage" to the Bard as even the cat is named after him. Sugar Creek stars two interesting opposites as he is small town and she is big city to keep them even further apart beyond the chasm caused by the family feud. Neither trusts their heart or the other as love returns to Destiny, Ohio (see One Reckless Summer).

Ransomed Dreams
Sally John.
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781414327853, $13.99,

Eliot Montgomery is the American ambassador to Venezuela. However, an assassin shoots Eliot and his wife Sheridan. Fed Luke Traynor saved their lives, but Eliot is crippled and Sheridan wounded. Both are emotionally traumatized and he is forced to quit the diplomatic service as he cannot adjust mentally to his condition.

The pair flees to a remote Mexico village as they retreat from the world. However, Sheridan returns to her hometown of Chicago to see her estranged father, a U.S. congressman, who is dying. Now that she is with her family, especially her sister Calissa, she tries for reconciliation. She also struggles with her feelings for Luke as her spouse goes deeper inside his shell; hiding even from her.

The tormented anguish of Eliot and the guilt of Sheridan make for a strong character driven drama. The support cast complements the lead couple who is going through post traumatic stress disorder separately as they no longer are a team since the nasty assault. Although the bad guys seem more caricatures than real threats, the audience will enjoy this strong look at the life of a diplomat after a shattering event as an alleged safe harbor can prove dangerous.

The Witness
Josh McDowell
9781414334127, $14.99

In Monte Carlo, septuagenarian Rafeeq Ramsey is frightened for his life and that of his kidnapped wife Claudette, especially since the abductors killed their twelve year old daughter. He paid their first of eleven million Euros ransom demand, but now they want twenty-five million or she dies and he will as well two days afterward. Having sold his firm Blue Nile to a French conglomerate he has the money and is willing to pay again, but believes his adversaries will kill Claudette and him anyway. Desperate the wealthy Egyptian hires Muslim Marwan Accad, who runs an executive security business.

Marwan shows a photo of Claudette withdrawing money from the bank in Sao Paul where the eleven million was deposited. Before the stunned elderly man could respond to the betrayal a sniper fires two shots through the window killing him. As Marwan wonders how the enemy knew that Ramsey hired Accad and Associates, they hunt him. He flees for North Africa with assassins and police from Europe and Africa stalking him as he is the suspect in the homicide. Morocco proves unsafe so he heads to Cairo; the enemy keeps coming and they do not care about collateral damage. He also fears for Dalia Nour, a woman he has just met who by associating with him is in danger. Additionally with mortality chasing him to Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East, Marwan ponders eternity and increasing evidence that the Christ is genuine.

The Witness is an exciting Christian conspiracy thriller that is at its best when the enemy chases after the hero as he overcomes overwhelming odds in various locales. The story line at times turns preachy especially at moments when Accad understands the maxim that there are no atheists in the trenches. Fans of international conspirator Christian thrillers will enjoy Marwan's efforts to obtain the gift of salvation as he is the witness not the killer.

Hurricanes in Paradise
Denise Hildreth
9781414335575, $13.99

On Paradise Island, Bahamas, American expatriate Riley Sinclair is the Guest Relations Director at the luxurious Cove. She has three guests coming who require special treatment. Best-selling author Laine Fulton is planning a novel here and has just left her husband-agent Mitchell, who asked Riley to take care of her. Septuagenarian widow Dr. Winnie Harris, a principal, is on her first vacation without her late spouse in decades; her adult children ask Riley to watch over her. Beauty pageant winner Tamryn Carson has arrived to think about her future while mom is worried about her and asks Riley likewise.

The healing waters help the three guests with their troubles as a hurricane is coming so Riley arranges for her five years old daughter to leave the island to stay with her father in the States. Meanwhile even more soothing for the four women is a sisterhood bonding as each finds solace with the others while bringing different issues to the table. They will soon need one another with a hurricane and a vicious stalker bearing down on the island.

Hurricanes in Paradise feels like two novels in one starring the same four lead female characters. Much of the first half of the story line comes across as a deep character study as the audience gets to know the fears and flaws of each of the four feisty females. Towards the middle, the plot changes into more of an adventure thriller as the quartet face a hurricane and a nasty stalker. Throughout Denise Hildreth encourages her audience to remember when personal hurricanes hit people, they need to remember that "Each time I find myself flat on my face, I pick myself up and get back in the race, That's Life" (Frank Sinatra).

Ice Cold
Tess Gerritsen
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780345515483, $26.00,

Boston medical examiner Dr. Maura Isles is attending a convention in Wyoming. Meeting some friends from two decades ago like Doug "ponytail-less" Comley, she joins them on a ski trip to the nearby snow covered mountains. However, the SUV stalls out on a remote snowy road as a blizzard strikes. Maura and her conventioneers find haven in Kingdom Come, a hamlet with twelve identical houses. They are stunned when no one response to their knocks or noise; and they are shocked when they find each abode deserted even with food on the tables and cars in g arages. Unbeknownst to the stunned outsiders someone is watching them; someone who left prints in the snow.

Several days later, Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli learns of Maura's death as her charred body was found in a ravine. Grieving Jane vows to learn what happened to her friend. Accompanying her to Wyoming is FBI agent Gabriel Dean and Father Daniel Brophy. The trio is going to find more than want to know about Kingdom Come and what lies beneath the snow, and the fate of the skiers.

The latest Rizzoli-Isles thriller (see The Keepsake) is a fabulous suspense novel that grips the audience once the SUV fails and never slows down until the final confrontation. The story line is fast-paced throughout leaving fans breathless. Although several twists seem unlikely and distracting, readers will enjoy the Bostonian invasion of Wyoming.

No Less Than Victory: A Novel of World War II
Jeff Shaara
9780345497932, $16.00

With the great success of the Normandy invasion, Allied Commanders all the way up to Five Star General Eisenhower feels strongly that the European theatre of Operation would soon be over. The German army battered is in full retreat.

Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt knows the war is over unless they can somehow turn around the blitzkrieg allies who are racing across France into Germany from the west and the Russians from the east. He decides to draw the last line in the icy mountainous Ardennes where he plans to isolate the Americans and from there seize Antwerp. If this Hail Mary desperation fails, the Field Marshal knows it is a short matter of time before Berlin goes Russian as the Eastern front is collapsing also.

This is a terrific action-packed WWII fictional account of the end of the European part of the war starting with the last German counteroffensive at the Battle of the Bulge; for the earlier parts of the war see The Steel Wave and The Rising Tide. Ironically real life persona like Ike never comes across as breathing especially in his case since the audience never learns how he felt knowing he sent so many to die at D Day and more to follow in the Ardennes even with a just cause. Military fiction readers will enjoy the fa ll of the Third Reich, but this tale is limited mostly to the western front as if the Russians were not coming.

The Last Bridge
Teri Coyne
9780345507327, $15.00

A decade has passed since then seventeen years old Alexandra "Cat" Rucker fled her abusive father. She has no plans of ever coming home as she earns a living as a cocktail waitress at a strip joint. However, the alcoholic Cat learns from a family neighbor back in Wilton, Ohio that her mom committed suicide leaving behind a cryptic message on stationary "Cat, He isn't who you think he is. Mom xxxoooo."

Cat goes home to a cold reception from her siblings Jared and Wendy. None of the three has any idea what their mom meant while their father lies in a coma following a stroke. Meanwhile as Cat poorly faces her past; her first lover Addison Watkins offers her more than just condolences, but she only trusts alcohol.

Cat is not a likable person, but makes the tale because of her alcoholic nastiness. Readers will understand her belligerence towards her siblings as her brother was a welcomed athlete and her sister the perfect obedient princess while she was disobedient, overweight and frumpy and the townsfolk chose to ignore her dad's abuse towards her and her mom (mindful of Kitty Genovese in 1964 Queens). Not an easy read with the focus on domestic violence and incest, but readers will want to cross the rickety Last Bridge to learn what traumas in her childhood made the quarrelsome adult Cat.

Loon: A Marine Story
Jack McLean
9780345510167, $16.00

After graduating from the Phillips Academy, Jack McLean joined the Marines. After basic training, he went to Viet Nam where he served a tour from November 1967 to July 1968. Following his stint in hell, He came home, left the military and enrolled at Harvard. His story of his time as a marine in Nam is harrowing and dangerous. Using letters he sent home and dialogue from what he recalls, Mr. McLean provides a profound experience of serving on the firing lines; just a few days after arriving in country. Though the re-enactment of verbal communication may disturb some as to authenticity since four decades have passed and collaboration is not easy, readers will believe the author has an audio-graphic memory as the chaos and fog of combat comes frighteningly across. This is a great memoir by someone who attended school with President Bush 43, but chose a different path of serving during the Viet Nam War.

One Dance With A Duke
Tessa Dare
9780345518859, $7.99

In 1817 the Ton knows the strange behavioral pattern of the reclusive primitive "Canadian" Duke Spencer Dumarque as the Duke of Midnight; he arrives as the clock strikes twelve at a bash to dance one waltz with a different female each time and then leaves immediately. Not quite as well known as his dashing nocturnal spin is that he is one of the ten members of the Stud Club who have a wager on a horse on going.

Rubenesque Lady Amelia d'Orsay decides to be the chosen one at the latest ball by brazenly selecting him. When she notices her waltz partner seems ill, she shows her concern. He is stunned by a twit caring for someone else and abruptly carries her from the gala to her amazement. He is in love and proposes, but before accepting she wants to know more about the enigmatic Duke of Morland. He is four tokens to the prize of wining the thoroughbred (ten tokens wins the steed) but one of his Stud comrades has been murdered assumingly for his tokens. Amelia suggests hosting a Stud Club party, but her brother Jack a rrives with tokens before vanishing with his ward.

This is a great regency romantic mystery starring a flawed courageous heroine and a mysterious perhaps even blemished hero. Faster than the prized thoroughbred, this super story line hooks the reader from the moment Dashing Duke Dumarque runs off with Amelia and never takes a respite even for the kissing scenes. Fans will enjoy this strong romantic suspense thriller as the opening of the stud Club is a winner.

House Justice
Mike Lawson
Atlantic Monthly
c/o Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003-4793
9780802119377, $22.00,

The undercover agent in Tehran informs the CIA that an American defense contractor is selling missile technology to the Iranian government. A congressional leak to the media leads to the CIA operative being exposed and captured in Tehran where he is tortured and executed.

The CIA chief is outraged with what happened to a field agent and vows to learn who leaked the information to the reporter as not only was a good person killed but peers know what happened. The journalist is placed in jail for her refusal to release her source. Speaker of the House John Fitzpatrick Mahoney is also fuming over what occurred in Tehran and Congress, but has a personal reason to expose the culprit. He assigns troubleshooter Joe DeMarco to find him the name of who broke the security laws by exposing the name of an operative. Joe teams up with CIA agent Angela DeCaprio as they investigate the leak; only each time they find someone associated with the name dropping that person is murdered.

This is an excellent timely entry in the great "House" political series (see House Rules and House Secrets) as Mike Lawson extrapolates from the exposing of Plume to make a case that those who did so deserved punishment for what could have happened to contacts. The story line is fast-paced, loaded with action, and dynamic conspiracies as Joe the ethical cynic and Angela the agent follow the trail while a killer follows their trail.

Pamela Callow
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778327509, $7.99,

In Halifax, attorney Kate Lange handles mostly family law cases for her firm Lyons McGrath Barrett. She wants much more as she knows these cases do not help someone work their way up the ladder, but that is all her boss Randall Barrett assigns her.

Her current assignment is a custody case. Grandmother Marian MacAdam wants custody of her teenage granddaughter Lisa from her daughter the judge. Worried about her career by going after a judge and too frightened to do so, Kate strongly suggests Marian forget the custody argument. The lawyer also ignores her gut which screams for her to contact Child Protection Services. Soon afterward, Lisa is found murdered and Kate feels guilt for failing the youngster. Kate's efforts for atonement lead her to her former fiance homicide detective Ethan Drake who is working the murder investigation that has ties to the affluent medical world.

Damaged is an intriguing Canadian medical legal thriller that grips the audience from the moment that a horrified Kate feels remorse that she allowed her fears to overwhelm her sense of decency as she knew the grandma made a strong appeal in the interest of her granddaughter. The key to the story line is Kate who is a classic scaredy cat who ends up in "Hell", which could have broke her or given her a steel backbone replacing the mush. Fans will enjoy a sort of coming of age tale as the women who always chose flight now must choose fight fore the first time in her life against a powerful influential opponent.

The Panic Zone
Rick Mofina
9780778327943, $9.99

After his serial killer reporting for the Buffalo Sentinel (see Vengeance Road), Melody Lyons hires Jack Gannon to work for The World Press Alliance. His peers at the Manhattan office feel strongly he is not their equal and needs to shuffle back to Buffalo. However, Melody believes they don't know Jack. She sends him to Rio to determine whether a WPA journalist and photographer, who died in a bombing, were the intended victims and if so why.

In Big Cloud, Wyoming, Emma Lane survives a fiery car crash when she was thrown from the vehicle in which her spouse died and investigators assume their baby did too though she swears she saw her infant rescued; neither assertion re the child can be proven. On a Caribbean cruse, forty years old Roger Tippert dies horribly; the medical examiner is unable to find the cause so forwards the findings to the CDC. As Jack works the Brazilian case, he rules out a drug gang as the police and the fuming local WPA insist and seeks nebulous ties to the Caribbean and Wyoming incidents that places him in trouble with a dangerous person; making him wonder if his colleagues are right about a shuffle to Buffalo.

This action-packed international thriller hooks the reader from the opening gamut until the final confrontation. The story line is fast-paced while the audience wonders what if anything connects the dots so seemingly apart. Jack is terrific as he tries to solve the case and prove his worthiness, but learns a valuable lesson about being alone as he investigates. As with his first thriller (see Vengeance Road), Jack's second journalistic investigation is an exciting novel.

Vows, Vendettas & A Little Black Dress
Kyra Davis
9780778327899, $13.95

Bay area mystery writer Sophie Katz attends the engagement party of her best friend Dena Lopiano's cousin Mary Ann to Monty Sanchez. However the joyous party turns ugly when someone shoots Dena. She survives, but probably will never walk again.

Fuming Sophie who has solved cases before (see Sex, Murder and a Double Latte, and Lust, Loathing and a Little Dark Chocolate) vows to find the culprit. Her boyfriend Anatoly, a private investor, pleads with her to leave the inquiry to the police but she refuses. Shockingly she finds a myriad of suspects when she expected to uncover few if any as she knows everything about her BFF Sicilian spitfire even the color of her blood. However, who the culprit is remains just out of reach.

This is an exciting lighthearted amateur sleuth that series fans will enjoy in spite of a horde of suspects who could fill AT&T Park yet the culprit seems obvious rather early. Still the fun in this tale of a Jewish African American vendetta is Sophie's choices as a writer sleuthing IAW the book (that is her novels). Kyra Davis provides a wonderful tale with a superb climax that will have the audience clamoring for the next San Francisco treats.

Little Town, Great Big Life
Curtiss Ann Matlock
9780778327882, $13.95

In Valentine, Oklahoma, nonagenarian Winston Valentine is featured on the local radio show as a model of energy and everyone admires his spirit. As such with the town about to celebrate centennial celebration, many want to honor their most ebullient citizen although he might not make it to the gala.

There is one Grinch in town, thirty-eight years old pregnant Belinda Blaine. Carrying has brought back depressing memories loaded with guilt from two decades ago; a secret she has shared with not one not even her husband, Lyle. She knows she owes him the truth, but fears admitting it will not set her free.

Teenage Paris Miller uses tons of makeup to conceal the battering she receives from her abusive grandfather. She considers running away, but rejects that as her grandfather needs her and she needs him.

Cafe owner Fayrene Gardener has loved and been hurt before. However, still an optimist she is dating a newcomer.

Although there are too many subplots in Valentine, this entry is a great uplifting yet melancholy tale. Readers will enjoy the return of stars from previous novels and appreciate the issues the ensemble leads of Little Town, Great Big Life cope with. Fans will join the centennial celebration that honors town legend ninety-two years old Winston.

Honeysuckle Summer
Sherryl Woods
9780778328469, $7.99

While her abusive spouse Dr. Paul Hammond remains in jail, Raylene still stays inside the house of her best friend Sara Price in Serenity, South Carolina. However, leaving the house is currently impossible as she still fears her ex husband will arrive to assault her.

Currently she watches Sara's five year old son Tommy and two years old daughter Libby when she goes to get them cookies only the boy has run out of the backyard. Wracked by agoraphobia, Raylene calls the radio station where Sarah and her fiance Travis work. New Sheriff's Deputy Carter Rollins brings Tommy home; the kid stepped out for ice cream. Carter thinks Raylene is a rich snob unwilling to get sweaty and dirty so refused to look for the child. He raises his two sisters Carrie and Mandy. On the other hand heeding the advice of his siblings to get a girlfriend, he begins to visit Raylene. When he learns the truth about her, he feels remorse for jumping top conclusions and joy because he knows he is attracted to her. However, though he is the first male she admires as a hunk, Raylene knows she is not good enough for him or his sisters as her phobia rules her life.

The seventh and final Sweet Magnolias tale is a strong ending to a solid series. The story line focuses on the romance of an agoraphobia sufferer, which makes for a powerful contemporary. With the stars of the previous book returning, Sweet Tea at Sunrise, fans will enjoy this fun yet poignant romance as her two BFFs and his two sisters (and readers) insist the lead couple is a pair of idiots.

Blown Away
Sharon Sala
9780778327851, $7.99

In Louisiana, mystery novelist Carolina "Cari" North takes a stroll in nearby woods. She is stunned to see her former fiance Lance Morgan digging what appears to be a grave. He hears a noise and sees her. Lance chases after Cari just as a tornado touches down in the area.

After the storm abates the injured Cari heads home to find her family seemingly dead; including her identically looking cousin Susan. Knowing she must go to the hospital to have her injuries cared for yet also feeling unsafe with Lance stalking her, Cari pretends to be Susan. While at the hospital, Susan's boss Michael Boudreaux visits her, but knows immediately she is not his employee. Cari tells him the truth and due to his high regard for Susan he agrees to help her.

This is an exhilarating romantic suspense starring a beleaguered female and the hero vowing to keep her safe though he has no direct reason to risk his life to do so. Loaded with action throughout, fans will enjoy Sharon Sala's bayou thriller although Lance proves more the buffoon than the frightening stalking killer as he fails to hold up his side of the equation.

The Lies We Told
Diane Chamberlain
9780778328537, $13.95

When sisters Maya and Rebecca Ward watched their parents being murdered, they reacted totally opposite to the horror in spite of the fact each became a doctor. Pediatric orthopedist Maya is a withdrawn introvert who married Adam not out of love though she cares about him, but out of finding a safe haven. Rebecca has not married and remains an extrovert who works on global disaster relief scenarios.

Following a hurricane, Rebecca goes out to help the survivors. Her sister and brother-in-law come with her. However, as Maya flies out of the ravaged area with a patient, her helicopter apparently crashes. The assumption is she is dead, but she remains alive in an isolated area. Adam and Rebecca grieve their loss in ways neither of them or Maya would have fantasized before the helicopter vanished.

The Lies We Told is an interesting contemporary tale in which the grievers turn to one another for solace unaware they betray the person they mourn for. The Rebecca-Adam subplot is emotional while the Maya arc is a thriller. Although the latter gets into more perils than Pauline with escapes that rival the implausibility of the movie heroine, fans will enjoy the distant triangle wondering who will do right in the end.

Anna Finch and the Hired Gun
Kathleen Y'Barbo
WaterBrook Press
c/o Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9780307444813, $13.99,

In 1885 Colorado Anna Finch's wealthy father believes the only roles for women are family positions as a wife, mother, and daughter, etc. Thus he plans to find a husband for his feisty daughter who he loves dearly.

Anna Finch loves her father, but wants more than a family role as she loves observing people and relishes being a reporter. She is euphoric when she has a chance to interview the legendary Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Her dad, worried about her safety, hires Pinkerton agent, Jeb Sanders, to insure Anna is safe. Jeb is outraged with the assignment of babysitting the spoiled heiress. He reconsiders her skills as an investigative journalist when she leads him to his wife's killer, but does not stop there; she digs deeper to uncover what really happened before Jeb kills the man he believes murdered his spouse.

The latest Kathleen Y'Barbo lighthearted yet suspense filled western romance (see Confidential Life Of Eugenia Cooper) is a great fun tale as neither Anna nor Jeb is happy with the arrangement, but as they fall in love they begin to appreciate the assets the other brings to the relationship. Fast-paced yet character driven, fans will enjoy Anna Finch and the Hired Gun summed up with the opening quote from Doc Holliday: "We had a little misunderstanding, but it didn't amount to much" because the lead couple earn mutual respect, fall in love and team up to try to solve who murdered his wife.

Villa Mirabella
Peter Pezzelli
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9780758220516, $15.00,

In Los Angeles, Phil Langway persuades Med-Devices Technologies marketing guru Jason Mirabella to conceal key ProCardia One device negative results from clinical tests. The resulting investigation stopped with him being held culpable; whereas his boss escapes free, Jason is fired and loses his friends who are ashamed of him and afraid to be associated with him, and has no chance of making it with his former boss Bill Forsythe's daughter, Amanda who is carrying his baby.

Humiliated he returns in abject disgrace to his home in Rhode Island where his family owns and manages a failing bed and breakfast. His dad Giulio is elated his son is home and employs him at the B&B; his two siblings Ray and Natalie are unhappy that the prodigal offspring has returned to work at the inn as they do not trust him to stay and besides they heard too many times from their dad how great he is. As Jason works passed his own disappointments where he failed to take an ethical stand, he tries to prove to his family he plans to stay in New England and never return to the West Coast by learning more about his siblings' desires and skills.

The stereotypes of the happy loving Italian family and the Los Angeles tundra-hearted affluent snoot detract from a well written entertaining values story line. Jason is superb as he learns what is important in life when he cooked the books. He originally rationalized that he did it for Amanda, but coming home opens his eyes to that he did it for selfish reasons. Fans will enjoy his life values lessons learned saga while wondering if Wall St. has learned anything from the worst near meltdown in America since Three Mile Island.

The Grave Gourmet
Alexander Campion
9780758246691, $22.00

Chef Jean-Basile Labrousse owns the three-star Diapason restaurant. When he kicks a bag of squash in his freezer, it feels more like meat to him. He opens the bag to find the body of Jean-Louis Delage, the president-directeur general of Renault; who dined there earlier in the evening with his attorney.

With everyone else tied up, Le Commissaire Talon assigns twenty-eight years old Parisian Police Detective Capucine Le Tellier for the lead on the case; her first field crime scene assignment as her work has been office reviews of white collar crime. She receives insider help on the restaurant side of her investigation from her dining critic husband, Alexandre. At Renault, she learns the firm is working on a fuel efficiency process that would allow vehicles to run on one third the amount of gas; and that several countries and rival companies have industrial spies trying to steal the secret. Capucine knows if she wants more homicide work, she must resolve the case with its international implicatio ns as well as the country's frenzy over an icon being murdered.

With a lighthearted look at the City of Lights through the eyes of delightful droll Parisians and foreign nationals, readers will enjoy dining in Paris with Capucine (who is not remotely close in performance to The Pink Panther of Inspector Clouseau) as their tour guide. The Grave Gourmet is a wonderful French police procedural that highlights the industrial espionage threat to nations and companies as even allies spy on one another. Alexander Campion provides a mesmeric opening act starring a magnifico female protagonist.

Some Like It Scot
Donna Kauffman
Kensington Brava
9780758250872, $14.00

On the island of Kinloch in the Outer Hebrides, Graham is the McLeod chieftain. He would do anything for his clan who make a living with handcrafted items. However, he is taken aback when he learns of a four century marriage agreement between his people and the McAuley clan. He agrees to honor it.

Wanting out of a life she feels is no better than imprisonment American Katie McAuley agrees to fulfill the four hundred years old pact by wedding Graham. She heads to his home but she feels she already knows her betrothed as each have shared meetings on the astral plane. Lust even before first sight (in person that is); Katie and Graham look forward to heated matrimony.

This modern day marriage of convenience fantasy romance is a fun, hot and sizzling tale as the lead couple has met before they have actually met. The story line is fast-paced with a strong cast led by the American and the laird. Readers will enjoy Donna Kauffman's lighthearted frolic while pondering the universal questions: (1) can you remain a virgin after sex on the astral plane; (2) can you get pregnant from a sexual encounter on the astral plane; and (3) if yes, is the offspring's norm astral? All will like the hot plot with the Scot.

Beast Behaving Badly
Shelly Laurenston
Kensington Brava
9780758231680, $14.00

Were-dog Blayne Thorpe has all the skills to be a great roller derby player except she lacks bite; her aggression meter registers closer to zeta than alpha. Her team has written her off because she refuses to take off the heads of opponents. Thus they are about to release her.

Hoping to ignite her internal flame, Blayne turns to New York Carnivores' polar bear-lion hybrid shifter Bo "The Marauder" Novikov, the hardest hitting most loathed player in the national shifter hockey league. She thought ten years ago he looked like a big serial killer and now he looks like an even bigger serial killer. The gentlest and toughest are attracted to one another, but her family rejects a non canine hybrid for her. With love as the flame to propel her, will the least assertive Were on the planet ignore her family's demands?

This is a fun lighthearted frolic of two opposites on the shapeshifter scale falling in love. Filled with humor, fans will enjoy the were-dog with no bark and the seven foot plus polar bear-lion who needs no bark to cause the strongest to weep while finding love in Maine (home of the twice NCAA ice hockey champions University of Maine Black Bears). Beast Behaving Badly is an enjoyable amusing frolic

My Sister's Voice
Mary Carter
9780758229205, $15.00

Although Philadelphia artist Lacey Gears has never heard a sound and has no known family that she knows of, she believes she lives a great life. She enjoys her career, which is on the rise, has a nice caring boyfriend and a loyal dog. Her idyllic life is turned upside down when she receives a note insisting she has a twin sister; this is a shocker because she has no known biological family.

Lacey assumes the message is her boyfriend's sick joke, but soon affirms the note is true. She has a twin Monica, an author, which is how she learned of her existence, who can also hear. Euphoric to learn she has family, but heartbroken that her parents gave her up for adoption because of her impairment, Lacey, who has doubts, contacts Monica who is excited and wants her twin in her life.

The key to this terrific character study is the reversal of stereotypes as Lacey is independent and Monica reliant, which comes across throughout the story line, but especially after they meet. Thus, as readers obtain a deep look into the subculture of people born deaf, My Sister's Voice is a strong profound tale with a solid ensemble secondary cast although the family secrets revealed late detract from an otherwise superior tale.

Maid of Murder
Amanda Flower
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
9781594148644, $25.95,

In Stripling, Ohio, Martin College librarian India Hayes also works as a struggling artist. When her longtime friend Olivia Blocken asks her to be a bridesmaid, India agrees though she fears how her brother Mark will react as he still loves Olivia. Mark suffered a nervous breakdown when Olivia left Stripling to go to college so her trepidation is justified.

As Mark hides himself in math and in teaching at the college, India conceals from him that she is a bridesmaid at Olivia's nuptials. When someone shoves Olivia to her death, the police suspect Mark as the prime culprit with the motive being unrequited love based on the fact he broke down once before when Olivia left him so if he can't have her no one can have her. India investigates believing Mark would never kill anyone let alone the woman he loves.

This is a lighthearted fun amateur sleuth cozy due to the eccentric support cast (human and feline). India feels a deep need to prove her sibling may have suffered from unrequited love, but was not a jealous killer as sulking and weeping is more his style. Since she does not trust the cops to look elsewhere though she admits this might be a throwback to her 1960s hippy activist parents, she makes inquiries. Readers will enjoy Maid of Murder as the amateur sleuth uses her librarian research skills to land in trouble as she investigates who killed Olivia.

Sharon Ervin
Five Star
9781594148767, $25.95

In San Diego, American Wire Service chief Duke Mallory allows his enthusiastic intern Jancy Dewhurst to cover the South Beach burglaries; the fourth break-in when the family was not home. Police Detective Thad Bias tells her he is frustrated as his Captain O'Brien devastates crime scenes with his desire for TV appearances. Jancy soon realizes the oddity of the serial robberies is besides valuables, the thief takes candlesticks.

After writing a couple of articles that are published with her by-line, Jancy receives several threatening phone calls. Her fiance Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agent Jim Willis takes time off to be with Jancy to insure she is safe. Jim and Jancy marry as planned and go on their honeymoon when she reads in the Denver paper that robberies similar to those in San Diego with the candlesticks stolen have occurred. Soon their lives are threatened by a dangerous culprit obsessed with candlesticks and more.

The third Jancy journalist investigation (see The Ribbon Murders and Murder Aboard the Choctaw Gambler) is a superb sleuthing thriller that also moves forward the relationship between the heroine and her Fed who marry and honeymoon during this storyline. Fast-paced throughout, fans will relish this enjoyable thriller with a terrific twist although the thief once identified comes across too deranged even while that moved the plot from California to Colorado. Still fans will enjoy Jancy's jaunt into marriage and her latest whodunit.

End of the Line
Mike Manno
Five Star
9781594148637, $25.95

In Dallas County, Special Investigations Unit Detective Sergeant Jerome Stankowski and Deputy Attorney General Parker Noble investigate the murder of disgraced banker Rhett J. Butler; shot to death on a city bus. R.J. as he was called was working insurance claims having been forced to resign from his position as Great Plains State Bank downtown branch president due to, $80,000 being missing.

As the pair interviews those who rode the bus, worked with the victim, and his family (first and second wives), Stan meets two women (bank teller Kitty Quinn and Teri Barkley niece of a restaurant owner) who offer to help him with his statistics class. Buffy Cole the reporter who worked with the pair on the Murder Most Holy Case offers to help him on this one too. Stan believes the second wife, cheesecake model Linda and her boyfriend drug counselor Bob Maxwell killed him so she would not be cut out of his estate when they divorced. However, Noble thinks that is too simple as the embezzled money remains missing. Then there is the first wife who hated R.J.

Readers will enjoy the return of Parker and "Cousin Stanley" as they investigate a case that started as bank embezzlement, in which the prime suspect is murdered. Parker is his terrific know it all self starting with the bloodhound hearsay lecture and never lets up with his unique brand of sardonic winking wisdom. Stan is a solid cop who this time has three women in his life, but at the same time none in his life. Ironically Buffy plays a lesser but more pivotal role than in the Murder Most Holy case as she shares second banana billing with a lot of other females. Hopefully this is not the End of the Line for this dynamic trio.

Ashes to Water
Irene Ziegler
Five Stars
9781594148606, $25.95

In 1962, Helen Bartlett, a nurse and mother of two daughters, drowns herself in Widow Lake, Florida near their family house. Her children Leigh and Annie blame their fathered for their mom killing themselves. Annie begins talking and seeing her mom's spirit as the child believes her mother became a mermaid.

In 1981 DeLeon Deputy Sheriff Raina Salceda calls Annie who resides in Michigan that her father was murdered by his live in girlfriend Della Frome who bashed his head in with an oar. Annie calls Leigh in Atlanta. Engaged to a nice man with a teenage daughter problem, Annie travels to DeLeon where her childhood best friend Pete Duncan meets her at the airport. He is also Della's defense attorney, but he feels the evidence is so overwhelming that he wants to plea bargain. After seeing her dad's corpse, Annie visits Della in prison; the woman eerily looks like her mom circa 1962 and insists developer Kingfisher Powell killed Ed whom she says she loved. Annie begins asking questions as her mom's spirit tells her to stop as does her sister who needs the money due to her abusive boyfriend who insists that they would get it if Della is convicted as they would inherit and sell the land.

Ashes to Water is an intriguing psychological amateur sleuth who-done -it. The murder investigation is well written, but supports a deep look at two sisters who as adults cope differently with their mother killing herself though they share in common holding their father culpable. Whereas Annie "communicates" with her mom's ghost, Leigh has been involved in a serial string of bad relationships. Readers will appreciate this fascinating thriller as Annie seeks the truth about her parents as much as who killed her dad while Leigh wants to sell the property. Character driven (even from the grave), Irene Ziegler provides a powerful thriller (see Rules of the Lake, not read by me, for Annie's previous appearance).

Hungry Spirits
Alice Duncan
Five Star
9781594149122, $25.95

In 1921 Pasadena, debutante Stacy Kincaid who recently jointed the Salvation Army asks Daisy Gumm Majesty to teach a cooking class. Once the spiritualist understands her adversary, the daughter of her best client, is serious, she explains she burns water. Her family including her severely war injured spouse laugh at the concept of her teaching immigrants to cook as all including Daisy are thankful for Aunt Vi doing the cooking. However when Salvation Army Captain Johnny Buckingham asks, she says yes; she cannot refuse him.

Daisy learns that some of her students might be Germans. Though she knows these women did not cause the Kaiser's war or the mustard gas permanent injuries to Billy, she loathes the race. Johnny gives her and the students cookbooks, which he chose based on price. Her first meal works reasonably well though one of the students vanishes before class ends when Police Detective Sam Rotondo arrives. However, the women want help from Daisy that has nothing to do with cooking while an anarchist scheme is boiling over.

The latest post WWI era "Spirits" novel is a terrific historical that contains a strong mystery subplot. Daisy and the strong cast including the repeat characters from previous books (see Strong Spirits and Fine Spirits) and the cooking class make for a fascinating deep look at 1921 California.

Bones of the Rain
Russ Hall
Five Star
9781594148095, $25.95

Austin private eye Travis Treegrow is a "Blue-Eyed Indian" half-breed. His DNA means nothing to country music rising star Johnny Gringo, who hires him to investigate the murder of singer Trish Mirandez at the Kasperville Folk Festival in the Texas Hill Country.

However, Kasperville is not as warm welcoming the "Injun" starting with sheriff's deputy Alvin Turnbull who beats the crap out of Trav. Suspended for his extra curricular activity, Alvin blames that "Injun" for his leave without pay. He follows Trav back to Austin to make him pay. Gringo and his music friends ask Trav to help them prevent licentious Bent Lenny Coggins from cheating them out of their royalties. If he knew Lenny's backers are mob related militia, Trav would have refused the case. Two attempted murders lead Trav to wonder if the Mirandez killer is actively seeking female musicians while Texas State Senator Max Bolens hires him to discretely look into his daughter's militia ties. All his cases lead him to Sheriff's Deputy Cassie Winnick who is working some of the same inquiries.

Bones of the Rain is an entertaining regional private investigative tale. Trav is a fabulous lead who like the reader will feel at times overwhelmed with so much happening. Still, the story line is loaded and brings a sense of how vast and diverse the Lone Star State is as readers will observe the differences between the capital and Hill Country. Russ Hall has a strong opening act that should prove more than just a one hit wonder.

Bad Samaritan
Aimee and David Thurlo
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312367329, $24.95,

In Bernalillo, New Mexico Sister Agatha is sad with the closing of Our Lady of Hope Monastery and depressed with her pending relocation to Colorado. While she struggles with leaving the Land of Enchantment, her former high school boyfriend Sheriff Tom Green has been arrested for murder.

The police accuse Tom of murdering his political opponent running against him for the sheriff's position, Robert Garcia at a Fourth of July celebration attended by many witnesses. The mayor's brother Garcia was found dead next to an unconscious Tom who was holding a bloody club. The victim and the accused were drugged with a date-rape drug found in the relish both placed on their hot dogs. Garcia's influential family demand Tom be tried. In the convent's Antichrysler, Agatha with Pax the retired police dog assisting her investigates the Garcia supporters that threaten her life and that of her K-9 companion. Agatha learns both sheriff contenders had spousal issues as Tom's wife is leaving him and Robert's hides his abuse and their son was sired by someone else.

This is an entertaining regional amateur sleuth though in fairness with Sister Agatha's track record, (see The Prodigal Nun) amateur seems inappropriate. The story line is driven by the Sister who struggles with solving a case in which Tom is increasingly the most likely culprit, ignoring the nastiness of the political unhinged, and working through her own faith issues with the pending shutting of Our Lady of Hope doors. Fans of the series will appreciate her latest whodunit while new readers will seek the backlist of one of New Mexico's finest sleuths.

Stork Raving Mad
Donna Andrews
9780312621193, $24.99

In the last few weeks of her pregnancy, Caerphilly College Meg Langslow is struggling with finding adequate housing for recently displaced students (due to a heating plant problem). This includes one of her husband associate professor Michael Waterston's grad students Ramon Soto. In fact their home is housing several students including Ramon

Besides a housing issue, Ramon is upset after the English Department's nasty Dr. Jean Wright accompanied by admin services Dr. Enrique Blanco arrive to inform him his dissertation proposal a play is rejected. They explain his topic the performance of an obscure anti-Franco play is not acceptable as it contains offensive material. Soon afterward, someone kills Jean in the Langslow library. Meg investigates as only she can.

Although carrying twins and about to give birth in two weeks, Meg waddles her way through an amusing investigation. The key to this jocular jaunt is the heroine as she works on two difficult issues: how many people can you fit into a room and who killed the odious Wright. Readers will enjoy the best pregnancy whodunit since Fargo.

Buy Back
Brian Wiprud
9780312601881, $24.99

Insurance companies hire recovery expert Tommy Davin to retrieve stolen property; usually the Brooklyn native pays a small fee to the thief enabling the insurance company to receive the item without having to pay out full value.

Tommy has some debt problems since his girlfriend Yvette left for Vegas leaving him with her IOUs to Vince Scanlon. He knows he better pay Vince off even though it is not his debt as Vince believes in extended definitions of relationships when it comes to breaking body parts. Tommy persuades three buddies led by Huey to steal three paintings from the Whitbread Museum so he can collect the recovery fee from the insurance company. The plan works, but as his pals leave the museum with the art, they are mugged by two thugs with guns; the paintings are stolen from Tommy's thieves. NYPD suspects Tommy is the mastermind while Vince wants his money now. Finally there is the insane Russian who obsesses over Yvette by stealing her abandoned cats.

Brooklyn is becoming too hot for Tommy as he plays dodge ball .with a "debt" collecting mob, the cops, and the cat thieve; the first is deadly; the second is a lock up; but the third is bewildering. All this insanity goes on while he seeks the thieves who stole from his thieves. Buy Back is a superb amusing over the top of the Brooklyn Bridge crime caper in which readers will expect Elmore Leonard to show up.

The Taking of Libbie, SD
David Housewright
9780312559960, $24.99

Two men dressed for combat invade the home of former cop turned millionaire Rushmore McKenzie in St. Anthony, Minnesota. They take him to Libbie, South Dakota. Befuddled by the abduction, Mac is taken aback when he learns the townsfolk believe he is a con artist; whose scheme threatens to bankrupt Libbie.

However, he persuades the city council and law enforcement they arrested the wrong man. Apparently someone stole his identity to pull off the scam. Instead of suing for false arrest, he offers to help catch the crook; somewhat out of altruism but more so because city council member Tracie Blake is pretty. As he digs deep into the con, Mac concludes the plot needed insider help to make it happen, but his questioning of townsfolk angers the residents who reject his theory as they believe no local would do such a thing.

This is an intriguing thriller as the townsfolk reject the hero's assertion that the con artist pulled off the scam with insider information; most of the locals prefer to believe Mac is the miscreant. The investigation he is doing expands as he also looks into a double homicide. The Taking of Libbie, SD is a fast-paced exciting tale that will hook readers from the starting snatch to the twisting finish and seek McKenzie's backlist (see Jelly's Gold and Tin City).

The Blood Harvest
S. J. Bolton
9780312600518, $25.99

Alice and Gareth Fletcher and their three young children (ten years old Tom, six years old Joe, and two years old Millie) move to remote Heptonclough, England. Soon after their arrival, Tom and Joe dodge a gang of nasty boys at a graveyard and church. Later Tom informs his parents that a g irl in the shadows seems to be spying on him. Alice and Gareth assume their oldest is letting his imagination play with his mind. However, when Millie is almost killed in what looked like a deliberate action to her older brothers, Tom and Joe vow to watch her.

New vicar Reverend Harry Laycock also senses something is not right. Psychiatrist Dr. Evi Oliver introduces the Reverend to her patient Gillian Royle, who has never recovered from the death of her toddler Hayley in a fire three years ago. Harry finds out about two other similar deaths of young girls (Lucy and Megan) and begins to fear for Millie, but it is Joe who goes missing.

Readers will appreciate this scary psychological supernatural saga as the locale seems serene yet bizarre deadly events occur in which mostly the newcomers as strangers in a strange setting are the only ones truly seeing the horror. Fast-paced, the audience needs to set aside time because S.J. Bolton's thriller is extremely difficult to put down as fans will want to know what the Blood Harvest of little children (three dead in one coffin, for instance) is.

A Bad Day for Pretty
Sophie Littlefield
9780312559755, $24.99

In Prosper, Missouri Widow Stella Hardesty and Sheriff Goat Jones enjoy dining together with both looking forward to an after dinner snack. However, Goat's soon to be ex wife Brandy arrives intoxicated and hysterical; claiming she needs protection. Stella leaves frustrated as hurricane Brandy is quite a storm.

Stella stops at her sewing-machine repair shop she inherited from her late husband Ollie. While looking in on her assistant Chrissy Shaw, Stella answers the phone. Former wife abuser and ex Oxycontin addict Neb Donovan has been arrested for the murder of a woman. Apparently a tornado tore apart the demolition-derby stadium snack revealing a body had been interred there. Neb poured the concrete that was ripped open. Stella, feeling she still needs to protect Neb's wife Donna like she did when her husband was a druggie, investigates.

Sophie Littlefield's amateur sleuth return (see A Bad Day for Sorry) is a soft boiled crime caper as the heroine balances her inquiry and her desire for "Blue Eyes" in a fun lighthearted whodunit. Sub-genre fans will enjoy cozying with Stella, who could have been a contender except that the inane shenanigans of Brandy and her boyfriend Wil might leave her dead instead.

The Bohemian Girl
Kenneth Cameron
9780312538972, $24.99

After traveling by motor car with his faithful companions Rupert and Harold on the continent for the last six months, tired American novelist General Denton returns to his home in London. He hopes to obtain some respite having spent two months of his time in a horrible Transylvanian jail, but feels the jaunt in the jalopy was worth it.

However, rest will wait when he opens a two month old letter of desperation from Mary Thomason, whom he does not know. She pleaded with him to help her. Denton learns that Aubrey Heseltine delivered the letter that he had found attached to the back of a painting. While Denton seeks to learn more about his potential client, someone is stalking Denton.

This is an excellent early twentieth century mystery that contains two strong subplots in which Kenneth Cameron seemingly effortlessly interweaves them back and forth before tying them together. Fast-paced yet enabling the reader to have a strong sense of time and place, The Bohemian Girl is a terrific historical thriller due to a powerful cast led by General (see The Frightened Man for his previous appearance).

Blake Crouch
9780312425739, $25.99

Rachel Innis works late at the free clinic in Sonnoyta just thirty miles north of the border. She heads home during a thunderstorm, but swerves to avoid a deer on the road. She stops the car, but a man with a crowbar slams at her window.

Her husband Will the Attorney works on a closing brief while waiting for his wife to come home, but dozes off. The cops inform him they found her abandoned vehicle with the driver's side window smashed and no blood. Will, accompanied by his beloved eleven year old daughter Devlin, a cystic fibrosis victim, leaves as he believes they not just suspect him, the police want to hang him for his legal defense record

Over the next five years, Will and Devlin move around and change identities. Now FBI agent Kalyn Sharp finds Will and explains she knows he is innocent. He agrees to work with the Fed to learn what happened to his still missing wife.

This is an exciting thriller, but readers must leave their credibility meter somewhere as Will comes across extremely illogical especially with his assumption of guilt when he is a lawyer and taking his daughter who has a chronic disease when she had family options to keep her safe. Fast-paced throughout, fans will want to know just like Will and Devlin what happened to Rachel.

The Dog Park Club
Cynthia Robinson
9780312559731, $24.99

Claudia Fantini visits her opera singer friend Max Bravo to cry on his shoulders because her husband Larry left her. When Max returns to Berkley from overseas he goes straight to her apartment where she tells him to walk her dog Asta. While walking the dog Max meets Jordi, who knows Asta from Larry walking the canine. They go to the dog park seven blocks away and Max meets a motley crew. When he returns to the apartment to drop off As ta, Max leaves a note for a sleeping Claudia encouraging her to visit the people at the dog park.

When Max returns from an opera engagement, he is shocked to learn Claudia is hanging out at the dog park as she took his advice though he believes they are beneath them. Ed sleeps in his car; Gator is unemployed; Amy is pregnant though fearful of her abusive husband. When Amy fails to show up at the dog park; Max and the gang become concerned that her husband harmed or killed her. The cops investigate, but find no evidence of foul play or of Amy. .Led by Max and his visiting German boyfriend the group set up surveillance of the husband, but believe caution is critical as they think he will act like a trapped rat if confronted.

Cynthia Robinson's first novel is a terrific character driven tale that looks deeply at an ensemble case who makes up The Dog Park Club. Told by Max who holds the story line together, the coming together of a mystery, camaraderie and a slice of Berkley is well written and very entertaining although the ending seems to flow detached and uneven from the deep character study that Max narrates.

The Terrorist
Peter Steiner
9780312373443, $23.99

Septuagenarian former CIA field operative Louis Morgan remains in self imposed exile in France. He has never forgiven his former firm for accusing him of being a terrorist and for other reasons. Thus when the agency asks him to help in the war against terrorism, he empathically declines.

The CIA never accepts no when they ask so they arrest the teenage son of Morgan's friend on false charge of abetting terrorism. His handler informs Morgan that sixteen years old Zaharia Lefort will be renditioned if he fails to cooperate. Fuming, Morgan heads to Algeria before confronting his former agency in New Jersey with what his handler demanded he retrieve.

The third Morgan espionage thriller (see Le Crime and L'Assassin) is a great tale of a retired agent still capable of doing the job even when his mission differs from the Agency's. The confrontational exciting story line is fast-paced and filled with a strong support cast that includes the hero's lover, a personal enemy who brings a lot of CIA power to an anti Louis vendetta and the beleaguered teen. The Terrorist will be on the shortlists as one the best sub-genre novels of the year.

The Drowning River
Christobel Kent
9780312621018, $24.99

Sandro Cellini was forced to leave the police department before the scandal destroyed him. He has opened up a private investigative firm in Florence, but four days into his vigil, he is bored and concerned that no case has come his way.

However, his optimism is renewed when elderly Lucia Gentileschi wants to hire him to investigate the death of her architect husband Claudio. He drowned in what the police declared is a suicide but she insists he was murdered. Although he feels for the widow needing her husband to have died by someone else's hands, he struggles not to allow his sympathy for the senora to cloud his judgment; especially as the case hits home with what has happened to him and his loyal wife Luisa.

British art student Iris March refuses to cover up the night life of her roommate Veronica "Ronnie" Hutton any longer. However when Ronnie vanishes, police detective Falco senses her guilt and misinterprets it. Ronnie's mom Serena arrives at the police station; demanding answers of Falco, who brings her to Sandro. She hires him to find her daughter.

This is a strong Italian investigative psychological thriller that rotates the two cases effortlessly while enabling the audience to know what bothers and frightens the lead character and several of the key secondary players. Both inquiries are solid as Sandro finds intriguing clues that take him all over Florence in the present and to the Holocaust in the Gentileschi investigation. The Downing River is a great Florence thriller.

A Colourful Death
Carola Dunn
9780312379469, $24.99

In 1960s Port Mabyn, Cornwall, Eleanor "Aunt Nell" Trewynn runs the charity shop. The widow lives with Teazle the Westie. Overall she is contented with her life.

Eleanor's artist friend and neighbor Nick Gresham returns from London. He stops at his shop only to be greeted by the horrific destruction of several of his paintings. Outraged by the vandalism, he rejects Eleanor's idea to call the police as he believes his artistic rival Geoffrey Monmouth slashed his work; Nick goes to confront Geoffrey with Eleanor at his side trying to calm him down. However, the pair is even more deeply stunned to find someone killed Geoffrey in his bungalow. The local police suspect Nick, but Eleanor knows otherwise and obstinately investigates as she ties the slashed paintings to the stabbing death and considers a third artist.

The second Aunt Nell Cornish amateur sleuth mystery (see Manna From Hades) is a terrific 1960s village cozy starring a likable somewhat quirky heroine and a delightful support cast. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Eleanor and Nick arrive at his gallery and never slows down as the cops know the artist has a motive although they are ignoring opportunity even though he was with Aunt Nell when the homicide and the vandalism most likely occurred (only five decades ago and yet forensic science feels like ancient history). Fans will enjoy the heroine's return engagement as she investigates the murder of a local artist.

The Silent Places
James Patrick Hunt
9780312545796, $25.99

Punished for his comment to his superior, St. Louis homicide detective George Hastings and his unit are assigned personal protection duty. They will perform security detail for the U.S. Senator from Missouri Alan Preston as he runs for the Republican presidential nomination.

However, the ambitious Preston's former job as a federal prosecutor comes back to haunt him. He got then CIA operative John Reese convicted of illegal selling of arms to Syria over ten years ago, but now the ex operative has escaped from the pen. Reese vowed during his trial to enact revenge and never swayed from his personal conviction during his decade behind bars. Preston rejects the FBI offer of protection as he does want a negative media spotlight shined on him. Hastings tries to keep Preston safe, but not only does he dislike the smooth politician, but believes the Senator is not telling the entire truth.

Rotating perspective between Reese and Hastings-Preston, the latest Hastings police procedural (see Good-bye Sister Disco and The Assailant) is an exhilarating fast-paced thriller (even without Maitland) in which the reader anticipates High Noon. Although Preston is a nasty individual who deserves the Macbeth treatment, fans will enjoy the expected encounter between Hastings and avenging Reese; who ironically is a much nicer person, even though he is now a psychopath, than the repugnant potential POTUS.

Death Watch
Jim Kelly
9780312644901, $25.99

On 1 September, the day that then teenager Norma Jean Judd vanished without a trace eighteen years ago, her twin brother Bryan lays charred in the Queen Victoria Hospital incinerator. The case is assigned to Detective Inspector Peter Shaw assisted by Detective. Sergeant George Valentine.

Peter initially is unaware that his father, who was Valentine's former partner, worked the Norma jean disappearance back in 1992 as did George; that inquiry crippled their careers. After Peter informs the victim's family, he rescues a reluctant frightened man, mumbling about the Organ Grinder, from a nearby homeless shelter inferno that he learns later was arson. The two West Norfolk cops find more corpses in which body organs have been harvested; leaving both to wonder how the dots connect now and eighteen years ago.

This excellent British police procedural (see Death Wore White) will bring much acclaim to Jim Kelly. The story line is fast paced from the early call to Peter that a homicide occurred at QVH and never slows down as both cops seek redemption; one for his dad and the other for himself. Readers need to set aside time as they will want to go every step of the way with Peter and George who feel they are on a Death Watch one step behind a surgically diabolical killer.

The Amateur Historian
Julian Cole
9780312586591, $23.99

Rick Rounder decides to return home to York, England after he failed to save the life of a nine year old girl while being a police detective sergeant. There he opens up a private investigative agency. His brother Sam, the local police chief, wants the former cop to shut down his business while his former peers display their outrage at his quitting which they think makes him weak and a betrayer.

The man hires Rick to follow a woman. However, nothing goes right on the simple surveillance when the woman's husband (not his client) kidnaps Rick. Things turn even crazier as Rick follows leads on a girl's disappearance that shockingly leads him into solving a crime over a hundred years old. Even with teaming up with his brother on the missing girl case, Rick's new line of work, though similar to his previous vocation, so far proves tough to make a living as the shortest distance between two clues is an arc.

The Amateur Historian is a terrific private investigative thriller filled with plenty of action, angst and a convoluted case. The history of York is interwoven into the present inquiry as Rick finds his new work as difficult if not more so than his previous job. He, his family and the York residents (circa 1901 and present) make for a fine complex mystery.

To Surrender To A Rogue
Cara Elliott
Forever Romance
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780446541312, $6.99,

A proud member of The Circle of Sins female scientific forum, classical archeologist expert Lady Alessandra della Giamatti arrives in Bath as part of an excavation team digging at a recently discovered Roman ruin. Also on the team as a sketch artist is military hero Lord James "Black Jack" Pierson. They have a history that turned ugly when he tied her eight years old daughter Isabella to a tree to prevent her from doing something dangerously stupid; only to have Isabella accuse him in foul language of impropriety.

However, when a blackmailer from her home in Italy threatens Isabella, Alessandra turns to James for help. Although he loathes her snobbish ways, he lusts for her body, so he agrees even though he has doubts she is being fully honest with him. She distrusts him too and both mistrusts themselves as their respective bodies want the other. Soon they realize that lust is turning into something more endearing and enduring, but their lives and that of her daughter and their country are in jeopardy from nasty killers.

The latest The Circle of Sins tale (see To Sin With a Stranger) is an exhilarating historical romance starring two seemingly opposites in temperament and outlook as each is a product of their recent past. Fast-paced from the opening tree incident and never slowing down, the adventures escalate until England is at risk as does the romance. Although the prime villain never seems quite up to the par of bringing down the Empire, sub-genre readers will enjoy Cara Elliott's super nineteenth century romantic intrigue.

Tempted by a Warrior
Amanda Scott
9780446561327, $6.99

In 1377 Annadale, Scotland, for the past two years, seventeen-year-old Lady Fiona Jardine has been married to abusive Will who thinks nothing of slapping and punching her. Her being pregnant with his child does not prevent Will from hammering her; he even targets her protruding stomach. Wh en he hits her she falls hitting her head on a rock. When she regains consciousness Fiona is her bed and Will has vanished.

Will's nasty dying father Old Jardine demands justice from Kirkhill Laird Sir Richard Seyton, as he insists Fiona killed his son. He names the Laird of Kirkhill guardian of his unborn grandchild with Richard as guardian and trustee for a lad until he turns twenty-five; and to do whatever he wants if another whore like his daughter-in-law is born. Old Jardine insures everyone knows Fiona killed Will and wants her hung preferably before he dies. The odious Old Jardine dies as Fiona gives birth while Richard plans to protect the new mother and her child from those mean-spirited enough to hang a new mom based on an unsubstantiated rumor, but to do so means finding Will.

This is a great medieval romance starring an abuse victim, a kind laird, and a father-in-law who even dying abuses his power to assault the helpless woman about to give birth to his grandchild. Starting with the Scottish version of Rumpelstiltskin and never letting up with a fairy tale feel to this enjoyable historical romance (including the ogre Jardine males), fans will relish the third Dunwythie saga (see Tamed by a Laird and Seduced by a Rogue).

Desire Me
Robyn DeHart
9780446541978, $6.99

In 1873 in Cornwall, young teen Maxwell Barrett found a map of Atlantis that over the next fifteen years he obtains enough substantive proof to affirm his belief the map is authentic. He obsesses over actually finding the lost continent to prove to the Solomon club members he belongs.

Atlantis guardian Sabine Tobias needs the map possessed by Maxwell to decipher a prophecy. She makes a bet with Max with the stake being the artifact but she loses. Max is fascinated by her, which she plans to take advantage of even if that means seducing him. She needs the map as they need to decipher the prophecy as lives are being lost including Britain's generals. Queen Victoria is in jeopardy and next will be the Empire and then could be the world.

The second Legend Hunters Victorian fantasy romantic suspense (see Seduce Me) is an enjoyable frolic as the treasure hunters find the greatest treasure in life is the women they cherish. Fast-paced and filled with non-stop action that would have Indiana Jones needing a respite, readers will want to join Max and Sabine as they team up in love and in decoding the map's riddle before a diabolical killer leaves both of them dead and the Empire in ruins.

The Naked Viscount
Sally Mackenzie
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9781420102543, $6.99,

In London for her eighth season, Lady Jane Parker-Roth is assumed to be on the shelf. When she enters her rented townhouse from the estate of the late Clarence Widmore, she sees an intruder. Rather than flight, Jane chooses fight, swinging a candlestick at the man holding her. She misses him but knocks over a statue of Pan as Viscount Edmund Smyth kisses her.

Edmund has broken into the townhouse rented by Jane and her mom in search of a paper that could cause some nasty problems if revealed. They stop fighting the moment the statue smashed as each sees the unusual partial caricature. Jane insists on joining him on his quest to locate other statues of Pans to complete the drawing. As they search for clues, they begin to fall in love; but remain unaware that their findings lead them closer to identifying the head of the hellfire club, which means brutal deaths.

The latest "Naked" historical romance (see . Baron, Duke, Earl, Gentleman, etc.) is another wild fun nineteenth century romp that in spite of the obvious time and place feels like a 1930s screwball comedy. Fast-paced and filled with action, readers will relish the escapades and sassy flirtatious yet witty dialogue between the lead couple as Jane joins Edmund on what was his adventure, but now is their quest. Sally Mackenzie continues to lay bare some of the more intelligent amusing historicals on the market today.

Blind Spot
Nancy Bush
9781420103410, $6.99

In Tillamook County, Oregon psychologist Claire Norris provides counseling to clients at Halo Valley Security Hospital. She does her best to be there for her patients as she personally never moved on from when one of clients paranoid schizophrenic Heywood Marsden III killed his girlfriend, Melody Stone, in front of her and tried to kill her too.

At a rest stop, someone kills Rafe and tries to remove the baby from Tasha's womb, but failed; Tasha is left in a catatonic state at Laurelton General's Hospital. Claire accepts the woman as a patient. The late Melody's brother Police detective Langdon Stone leads the official investigation. Like herself, he blames Claire for his sister's homicide. However as their mutual disregard turns ardently heated the cop and the doctor team up to prevent another murder from occurring.

This is a fast-paced thriller with a great late twist, but at times slows down with an extremely deep profound look at a psychopath's obsessive compulsive behavior; in this case pregnant women and mothers. Claire is terrific as she tries to help her patients even when the law and her bosses warn her to back down or else. Although the romantic subplot seems over the top of Rogers Peak as the lead pair has a tragic history, fans will enjoy this exciting action-packed thriller.

Cherokee Storm
Janelle Taylor
9781420110180, $6.99

In 1756 in the Great Smoky Mountains, Shannon O'Shea cannot wait to see her dad Flynn. She is escorted by Nathan and Hannah Clark and their adult twin sons Damon and Drake, but is treated as a servant. A storm scares Betty the cow so Shannon follows her. Cherokee warrior Storm Dances escorts her to safety. After the storm the twins see Storm Dancer with Shannon so they fire at him. They assume he raped her.

Flynn arrives at the camp to take his daughter home. He warns the Clarks to not upset the Cherokee. On the trail Shannon dreams of making love with Storm Dancer. Flynn tells her he has a woman Oona who lives with h im. He feels guilty that after her mom left him to return east she died leaving Shannon to work as an indentured servant at a tavern. Her father leaves her to find a horse for her to ride. She masturbates thinking of Storm Dancer who arrives and kisses her. He leaves her a pony and warns her Shawnee are in the area.

At the trading post, Shannon finds Oona is pregnant. Storm Dancer's cousin Gall arrives and warns Shannon to keep away from his cousin while claiming the pony he gave her was stolen. She still wants Storm Dancer who leaves her a wooden bird as a courting gift . As Shannon and Storm Dancer fall in love, her father and his mother oppose their relationship. Soon the pair feel danger from both their races.

The cast is solid especially the star crossed lead couple while a late coincidence involving her Indian stepmother and the woman's brother adds fun to the exciting storyline. Although the lead couple is on the run, they stop to make love, which seems insane. Still this is an enjoyable historical as even the tolerant are prejudicial when it comes to loved ones.

If He's Wild
Hannah Howell
9781420104622, $6.99

Like most of the Wherlocke brood, Lady Alethea Vaughn Channing possesses a special paranormal gift; hers happens to be visions of the future. For fifteen years since she was five years old, Alethea has dreamed of small glimpses of the same man, but recently she has seen him in deep trouble. Alethea vows to try to save him; so she heads to London to get Uncle Iago to assist her.

Lord Hartley Greville has been the person Alethea has dreamed about. He overhears the niece and uncle talking and takes a chance on them. He introduces himself and tells him what he knows although he is skeptical about the danger he faces which he dreams about. That is until she shows him her drawings. As they fall in love and marry, Hartley seeks a spy. When he vanishes, Alethea and her family search for him because she knows the man she loves is trapped in a life threatening situation.

The latest Wherlocke If He's . (Sinful and Wicked) is a charmer from the start to the finish due to a strong fully developed cast. Loaded with action and the right touch of the paranormal, fans will enjoy the escapades of the Wherlocke clan led this time by Lady Alethea as they set off to rescue her beloved. This is historical fantasy romance at its fun best.

Mckettricks of Texas: Garrett
Linda Lael Miller
Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373774418, $7.99,

As Garrett McKettrick leaves Austin for his family spread the Silver Spur in Blue River, Texas, he knows his aspirations have been shattered to the bone marrow. His hero Senator Morgan Cox is embroiled in a nasty scandal that has nuked Garrett's beliefs and political dreams.

He arrives to chaos as the family plans for Tate's wedding and someone is rustling their herd leaving cattle dead. However that is not what causes the chaos inside of Garrett's heart. High School teacher Julie Remington, her five years old son Calvin and his three legged dog Harry are staying at the ranch for her sibling's marriage to Tate. Garrett wants her and likes the young boy while the free spirit that Julie filed away to raise her offspring as a single mom (with sisters) surfaces at a time when Calvin's biological father Gordon Pruett arrives wanting to be part of the lad's life.

The fascination behind the middle brother's tale is that most of the story line focuses on Julie with her fears of what Gordon wants and her sadness over bright student Rachel needing a job. Rachel's dad Mr. Strivens in one sentence adds realism about college for the impoverished families in hard times. Although the romance between Tate and Julie seem more off page than on, the McKettrick fans will enjoy this fine ranch contemporary and look forward to the next sibling's story.

Almost Perfect
Susan Mallery
9780373774906, $7.99

Pregnant teenager Liz Sutton left Fool's Gold when her lover Ethan Hendrix betrayed her. Five years later and much more mature, Liz went home to inform Ethan that he had a child; she received a letter from him saying he wants nothing to do with Tyler so she raised her son by herself eventually becoming a popular author.

Almost a dozen years later, fourteen year old Melissa informs her Aunt Liz that her father Roy (Liz's brother) was in jail and their stepmother left. Leaving San Francisco Liz accompanied by now eleven years old Tyler returns to Fool's Gold to take care of her nieces, Melissa and her sister eleven year old Abby. Ethan learns Tyler is his son; fuming he blames Liz for costing him all those years with his child; refusing to believe her "story" involving his wife Rayenne.

Although the plot device of a man not knowing he sired a son has been used many times, Susan Mallery provides a deep Fool's Gold second chance at love tale. The support cast is strong from the onset as the audience will feel for the nieces and for the heroine who the townsfolk blame for concealing Tyler from his dad. Readers will enjoy Almost perfect as Ethan believes love is not enough to overcome what he has done to his Liz.

Crazy for Love
Victoria Dahl
9780373774623, $7.99

Chloe Turner is stunned how far her fiance went to end their engagement; he faked his death. She is stunned by the macabre ruse by someone who allegedly loves her; Chloe and her BFF Jenn travel to White Rock Island to get away from everything.

At the resort, Chloe and Jenn meet Max and Elliot Sullivan. Treasure hunter Max feels protective of his sibling and vulnerable women; meanwhile Elliot remains in shellshock over a recent divorce and agreeing to go with his brother on vacation as he never leaves work. Max is attracted to Chloe so he keeps trying to rescue her but he believes she only needs rescuing from him and his good intention misdeeds.

This amusing contemporary romance stars a woman distrusting men and a man with a hero complex. The story line is fast-paced as Max needs to rescue Chloe who has no need for rescuing especially from a hunk as her broken heart mends. Fans of lighthearted frolics will enjoy this fun romp as Max tries to control his instinctive impulse to save the day but Chloe is not perilous Pauline except for fear her heart will break again.

The Darkest Passion
Gena Showalter
9780373774555, $7.99

He was one of those who opened Pandora's Box freeing the demons trapped inside; his punishment, as with the others who joined him, is to carry a demon inside him. In modern day Bucharest, thanks to Paris the Keeper of Promiscuity, Lord of the Underworld Aeron ha s somewhat controlled the insane rages that his Wraith demon inside him caused.

Olivia the Warrior Angel has been directed to kill him. She currently hunts her prey who senses her nearness in spite of her invisibility. Pursuing her target, Olivia finds he is not the evil being she expected and cannot perform her direct order. Instead, she chooses angelic suicide by falling in disgrace. Her wings ripped from her, a severely injured Olivia turns to Aeron for help. He and Wraith are attracted to her from first lustful sight. However, Olivia's mentor Lysander the Elite Warrior Angel plans to bring her back under his wings and Aeron's Demon friend Legion has seductive plans for her "pal".

This is a strong Lords of the Underworld entry as the lead male has been an out of control lunatic so he distrusts his feelings because he knows how much Wraith's raging has affected his mind. Olivia is terrific as a fallen angel who gave up her lofty position out of love for a fallen warrior. Throw in Legion to the mix and that leaves readers with a super romantic fantasy as this series continues to be one of the best sub-genre recurring series.

The One That Got Away
Jamie Sobrato
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716418, $5.50

Best-selling author Marcus Kastanos is shot while on TV in London during a book tour as someone made a good attempt on the death threats he received since his hardcover Seven Grains of Sand came out last year. College professor Ginger Townsend, his best friend back at Berkeley fourteen years ago, offers him a place to stay to heal. He accepts as long as he can bring his thirteen year old daughter Isabel, whom he just met due to her concern that her biological dad was shot three months after her mom died from ovarian cancer, with him.

Back in college Ginger loved Marcus, but he failed to reciprocate as he saw her as his buddy. However, this time Marcus is attracted to Ginger who still loves him. As in college when he was seeing Izzy's mom Lisette, he has another female that must come first before he can tell Ginger he loves her.

This is a terrific second chance at love romance due to a strong lead couple and the confused teen. Ginger always loved Marcus, but back in college he saw her as a BFF until she was graduating and he was seeing someone else. The strong cast contains people with flaws as the lead female feels unrequited love, the male suffers from a Peter Pan syndrome, and his daughter does not believes she belongs with anyone; even the elderly neighbor Ruby has problems. Fans will not want this engaging contemporary to get away as Jamie Sobrato provides a wonderful character driven tale.

Along Came A Husband
Helen Brenna
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716401, $5.50

Several years ago, Missy Charms received the knock she always dreaded would come. Her FBI agent husband, Jonas Abel was murdered in the line of duty. Though she grieved her loss, Missy moved on.

However, she is taken aback when the last person she expected to see breathing arrives at her door on Mirabelle Island in Lake Superior. Injured from a bullet he just took, Jonas has worked undercover inside a drug ring since he "died", but now he has been marked as a Fed. Fuming for what he did to her and them, Missy cannot move on as she did when she learned her beloved was killed; once again he put the FBI over his loved ones and will always do so.

This is a super second chance at love romance starring a dedicated FBI agent and his widow. The key to this strong contemporary is both seem realistic as he wants to stay but feels devoted to his job while she needs him to leave before he breaks her heart again. With a powerful genuine finish, fans will enjoy Helen Brenna's deep look at the choices a devoted law enforcement official feels he must make and its impact on the relationship with the woman he loves.

Vegas Two-Step
Liz Talley
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716395, $5.50

Oak Stand High School librarian Nellie Hughes suffers from an extreme case of ennui. She needs something to refresh her tri te life. Thus Nellie decides on a makeover while visiting her best friend Kate Newman who escaped Oak Stand for Vegas.

Waiting for her flight, Nellie feels attracted to another passenger though "Mr. Magnificent" ignores her as his focus is on a Cardinals' game on TV. In Vegas, having had her makeover since her flight, Nellie meets Mr. Magnificent at the Agave Blue club he owns. Jack Darby makes it clear he wants her, but she assumes her new look caught his eye and that is not the daily Nellie. She flees for the safety of Texas, but is stunned when s he obviously doesn't know Jack as he follows her.

This is a fun contemporary romance starring a lead couple in which she has lust at first sight and he at second sight; what do you expect from a Cardinals' fan. Interestingly, both are lonely even as he has his family near and women any that he wants while she has no one since her grandma died. Readers will feel the strong attraction between the lead couple as Mr. Magnificent believes he has found his Ms. Magnificent.

How to Beguile a Beau
Kasey Michaels
9780373774333, $7.99

Everyone knows that Lady Nicole is the extroverted twin while her sister Lady Lydia is the introvert. Lydia likes the quiet cocoon and felt anchored and safe until her beloved Captain Swain Fitzgerald died at Quatre Bras l ast year.

On the battlefield, the Duke of Malvern Tanner Blake promised his best friend Swain that he would take care of Lyddie. He now plans to keep his death battlefield pledge by finding her a suitable spouse. However, the problem he has is he wants to be that suitable spouse but also feels guilty that he is betraying his late friend. Meanwhile Lydia realizes she loves Tanner, but to get him to realize that Swain will be smiling in heaven if they marry in love seems difficult for him to grasp.

Following up on older brother Rafe's story (see How to Tame a Duke) and twin sister Nicole's tale (see How To Tame a Lady) with the third sibling's romance, Kasey Michaels beguiles her Regency romance readers with an amusing yet poignant novel. Lydia is terrific as her preference is not to be the life of the party or even a wallflower, but to not attend the gala. Tanner is a bit more typical of the historical as he fights falling in love because he feels that emotion betrays his honor and pledge to his late friend. Although straightforward with a theme used frequently before, the refreshing mouse that roared turns this into another superb historical Daughtry family saga.

Crush On You
Christie Ridgway
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425235133, $7.99,

Alessandra "Nun of Napa" Baci and her sisters (Stephania and Guiliana) vowed to their dying pop to save the family vineyard, Tanti Baci. None of the siblings understood how difficult their death bed pledge would prove when they made it three months ago, but the business is teetering towards bankruptcy.

In spite of her own marital woes when her fiance Tommy failed to come to the altar because he was dead, Alessandra believes restoration of the dilapidated wedding cottage for use by brides and grooms and marketing her wine will help. Reluctantly she must go to the thorny neighbors and rivals the Bennet brood; specifically she needs Penn the host of a TV remodeling show.

Penn only recently learned who his biological father was; being one of the two recently "discovered" bastards. He wants to help her as he is attracted to her and her energy, but Napa Valley is not in his itinerary even if his paternal roots are there. Finally he distrusts the nun; unaware she has her doubts as he resides in the shallow movie capital. Neither of them expected to want to be the first couple to occupy the wedding cottage.

This is an enjoyable throwback (even with profanities) contemporary romance as neither of the lead couple wants to fall in love; in fact each prefers flight over fight when it comes to relationships. Character driven, fans will appreciate how far the Nun and the TV star come when they learn love means diving head first without regard to safety.

Anna's Return
Marta Perry
9780425234266, $14.00

Three years ago Anna Beiler left her Amish home in Pleasant Valley, Pennsylvania to live with the English. However, when she comes home she doesn't return alone. Instead she is accompanied by an under one year old baby, Gracie who she claims as her daughter.

The Plain People are stunned that unmarried Anna had a child out of wedlock and some want to shun her. She conceals from everyone even her loved ones that the baby is not hers; she took the infant after her friend Janni, the child's mother died, to keep the little girl safe from her abusive father Pete. Anna prays that hiding amongst the Plain folks will keep the baby safe., but fears what she might bring upon her family as she moves in with her brother Joseph and his wife Myra and is welcomed by her father, her sister Leah (see Leah's Choice) and her brother-in-law and his family. Anna also finds herself attracted Joseph's machine shop partner, Samuel Fisher, who seemed like slow learner to her as a child bu t now she appreciates that he is not simple but a reflective thinker. As she feels welcomed and her baby accepted, Anna looks back at her reckless behavior praying that her community will forgive her.

The third Pleasant Valley Amish romance (see Rachel's Garden) is an interesting look at a young woman who left but has come back apparently tainted. Although Samuel and the lead female protagonist's family and community play major roles and Gracie's father a minor but key part, the title is accurate as this is clearly Anna's Return. She holds the well written entertaining story line together as Marta Perry provides a charming second chance at life romance with a bit of late suspense.

True Vision
Joyce Lamb
9780425235850, $7.99

In Florida, Lake Avalon Gazette reporter Charlie Trudeau is stunned to observe a car deliberately hit a woman who had just called out her name Charlotte. Even more shocking is how faster the driver leaves the scene while the pedestrian is dead. Soon afterward someone stalks Charlie at a time she struggles with her suddenly new but out of control psychic empathic skills.

Chicago police detective Noah Lassiter also trails after Charlie. He wants her to explain his friend's death to him through another vehicular homicide she witnessed. She refuses to describe the murder that still haunts her. Making life more complicated for Charlie is she is attracted to the obstinate cop who shares her feelings. Finally she knows he is probably the only person who can protect her from a determined killer while he fears telling her truth about himself that so far he has been able to find from the woman he loves.

This is an enjoyable paranormal romantic suspense starring a likable heroine in distress from her new psychic skills causing flash weariness, a stalking killer whom she seen in visions and a car murder before, and the cop she loves. Noah is unlikable for the most part as he refuses to let anyone even his heart gets in the way of his mission. Readers will enjoy this entertaining urban fantasy romance as Charlie uses her True Vision to see the True Colors of Noah's heart.

Skin Tight
Ava Gray
9780425235164, $7.99

In Virginia, forensic accountant Mia Sauter is undercover masquerading as an information technology specialist. However, she is taken aback when she meets the human resources director Thomas Strong. She knew him in Vegas last years as a security specialist named Addison Foster, but he rid that identify like a snake ridding its skin although he still regrets exposing her to his prey Seranno.

Strong is stunned that Mia ID's him because no one has ever done that before; they only see the person he pretends to be. For years he has toiled to enact revenge against those who destroyed his life, but for the first time since his world imploded someone knows him. He wants Mia just like he did in Vegas, but he recalls the last person he overtly cared for: his Lexie and what happened to her. He fears placing the woman he loves in danger if he informs her he is Soren; while a lie will cost him his heart as she makes his Skin Heat but he must keep her safe.

This is a super taut romantic suspense thriller starring an obstinate heroine and an avenging lead male who met in the previous tale Skin Game. His changing skill is beyond just acting; as it is a superpower or curse depending on one's outlook; thus her seeing him stuns him. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Mia sees Strong's reflection in a glass door and never slows down as she refuses to accept any of his ruses except the kisses that feel from his heart. However, their reunion is not joyful; because besides the betrayal, a psychopath who is over the top of the Washington Monument notices them, recognizes him for what he did to the man, and knows how to manipulate his prey.

Assassin's Honor
Monica Burns
9780425234167, $15.00

Although her parents strongly believed in the Order of the Sicari and encouraged her to do so likewise, the Chicago-based archeologist Emma Zale assumes the legend is myth and no more. Still their tales of the ancient order and their murders led Emma to study archeology as a way of honoring them.

While on a dig, Emma is shocked to find evidence that the Sicari were real. Soon after, she uncovered her proof, her boss is murdered. When she meets Ares DeLuca he claims to be a Sicari telekinetic assassin. The Sicari war and the Praetorian Guards are at war with the latter committing ethnic cleansing. Unless Ares can find the Tyet of Isis, his people will become extinct. To prevent the genocide he needs Emma's help because he thinks she know where the ancient artifact is hidden; to stay alive she needs Ares' help because she thinks he is a great warrior, but her fear is he will also take her heart.

The first Order of the Sicari romantic urban fantasy is a superb opening tale that focuses on a several millennia war between the Praetorian Guard and the Sicari assassins. The lead couple is a terrific pairing while the support cast enhances the sense of a long running deadly feud. Monica Burns has an excellent first act of what appears will be a wonderful series. Assassin's Honor is a spellbinding tale.

The Long Quiche Goodbye
Avery Aames
9780425235522, $7.99

Providence, Ohio is famous for its universities, cheese farms, and the Amish communities. The Fromagerie Bessette wine and cheese shop has been a town favorite for years, owned by Etienne and Bernadette Bessette. Now the retired septuagenarians have left running the shop to their granddaughter Charlotte and her cousin Matthew.

Charlotte and Matthew are remodeling the shop, but on the night of their grand reopening, their avaricious landlord Ed and his wife mayoral candidate Kristine (running against trice mayor Bernadette) attend. The two political rivals argue in public before Bernadette tosses Kristine out. Soon after the incident Charlotte finds her grandma soaked in blood hovering over the corpse of Ed. The police place Bernadette on house arrest pending further investigation while Charlotte vows to uncover the identity of the real killer even if it means she risks her life.

Charlotte is a ferocious bull dog interrogating anyone who attended the gala as she tries to solve the homicide puzzle; no one messes with her grandmere. The characters are quirky and for the most part seem believable although Charlotte can be too emotional while amateur sleuthing. Still readers obtain a taste of small-town Buckeye living and will want return engagements in future Providence Cheese Shop Mysteries.

Tomb with a View
Casey Daniels
9780425235515, $7.99

Cemetery tour guide Pepper Martin works at Cleveland's Garden View Cemetery; whose most famous resident is President James A. Garfield. The job seems like an ideal match for Pepper as she has the uncanny ability to communicate with ghosts. Pepper's boss Ella assigns her to work with Marjorie Klinker on the 179th Garfield birthday bash.

Pepper wants out of the mental strenuous task as Marjorie is a lunatic, a Garfield fanatic, and a dominating drainer of others. She gives Pepper some worthless papers to take to the exhibit; she will provide more memorabilia when the time is right. The next day Pepper finds Marjorie dead. The police investigate and conclude someone murdered her by throwing her off the balcony. Pepper is dubious of this conclusion. She vows to solve it before her former boyfriend Police Officer Quinn, who hurt her when he scorned her about her so-called psychic skills. This time the FBI is involved and they want Pepper to extract a confession from the suspect when she finds out who it is. She remains clueless as she cannot understand the motive because all Klinker had from what she seen was junk.

Pepper regards herself as a private investigator for ghosts who need her help to cross over by solving their murder. In this amateur sleuth whodunit, the ghost is Garfield who does not want to leave as he is still the President within the mausoleum. He gives her clues to assist her into the noises she hears at night denoting criminal activity at the museum and she finds she likes the old codger. With wit and a wink, Casey Daniel entertains her fans with a fun lighthearted paranormal whodunit.

The Forbidden Rose
Joanna Bourne
9780425235614, $7.99

As the French Revolution explodes across Paris and the countryside, the hunt for aristocrats to receive kisses from Madame Guillotine grows intense. As do a few courageous souls trying to smuggle the emigre across the Channel before they lose their heads.

Marguerite de Fleurignac is a noblewoman who risks her life trying to help her endangered compatriots reach England. However, she fears her masquerade as a governess is now in trouble as her chateau has been burned to the ground. When she meets English spymaster William Doyle, she pretends to be Scottish governess Maggie Duran while he masquerades as Frenchman Guilliame LeBreton. However, he knows who she really is as he searches for her father while she k nows who he is and the objective of his task. The French secret police are aware of both of them and their conflicting missions.

Like My Lord and Spymaster, this is a superb historical espionage thriller with a strong romantic subplot; that is he key to this strong French revolution saga as the growing love between the distrusting masquerade duo enhances the prime spy mission. With a nod to the Scarlet Pimpernel, fans will relish the irony that everyone knows who everyone else is, but pretends otherwise.

Laurell K. Hamilton
9780425234334, $26.95

At the Circus of the Damned, vampire executioner extraordinaire and zombie animator Anita Blake sees her lover St. Louis master vampire Jean-Claude arguing with his second in command Asher. They were once lovers, but Jean-Claude refuses to share his body because he fears how Anita will react. Anita assumed the pair was having sex all along. Richard Zeeman informs her he has reconciled himself to what he is and joins the fun,

They are having fun, when Belle Morte, Jean Claude and Asher's creator interrupts them in a metaphysical astral projection. She has a piece of the Mother of All Darkness, the first vampire in her body which makes her believe she can bind them to her. She is wrong and Padma Master of the Beast tries to break the ties that bind them to each other which will weaken them. The Vampire Council is determined to destroy the Triumvirate of Richard, Jean-Claude and Anita because they are accumulating so much power they threaten the vampire hierarchy everywhere even the ruling Vampire Council. The Mother wants Anita's body since she lost her own, but Anita is strong and rejects the Mother and the Council trying to prevent her and her lovers from owning America starting with assassins sent to kill them.

The nineteenth Blake Vampire Hunter urban fantasy is a great entry, which is extraordinary as most of the long running series is excellent. The keys to this terrific tale is so much comes to a head as the vampires and shapeshifter hierarchies fear the Triumvirate and decide to destroy it before it is too late. The fun is trying to discover who are the assassins, spies and enemies in the Mother of All Darkness war. With sedition and a mole inside the Circus to augment the action, fans of the saga will relish this strong thriller as hell is coming to St. Louis.

Death by Diamonds
Annette Blair
9780425233139, $7.99

The upscale clothing store Vintage Magic is located in Mystic Falls, Connecticut. The shop is owned by a very special individual Madeira Coulter. Unique in many ways, what stands out is her psychic skills; especially psychometry in which she touches clothing and receives visions of the person who wore them. That talent allows her to solve mysteries; she hopes it will also enable her to identify who killed her close friend Broadway star Dominique DeLong.

Dominique had faith in Maddie when she delivered the dress Madeira designed for her that contains faux jewelry on it. A note accompanied the dress stating if the dress was delivered to Maddie she was dead. The cause of death was peanuts, which makes Maddie more certain her friend was murdered because Dominique was highly allergic to them and would not even touch a peanut. Also missing when Don died is the diamonds br she was to wear for an off-Broadway show. Whoever stole the diamonds believes they were on the gown she gave to Maddie. She plans to find out who killed Dom and the man she loved before the killer murders her.

Annette Blair has the magical touch when it comes to entertaining joie de vivre paranormal amateur sleuth paranormal who-done- its. The mystery is cleverly constructed making it very difficult to figure out who the culprit as there are so many suspect including Parasite hanger-ons enviously trying to improve personal status through connections. Maddy is unsure where to begin beyond using her psychic skills starting with touching and wearing the gown to induce visions, Readers will relish the latest Vintage Magic whodunit (see A Veiled Deception and Larceny and Lace).

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Allies
Christie Golden
Del Rey
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780345509147, $27.00,

Jedi Grand Master Luke Skywalker and his son Jedi Knight Ben are on a mission to find out what turned Jacen Solo to the dark side of the Force. Accompanying them is Sith Apprentice Vestara Khai from the unknown Sith tribe on the planet Kesh. Luke and Ben are surrounded in space by a Sith armada that include Vestara's father. Shockingly, instead of killing the Skywalker pair and their crew, the Sith offers a temporary alliance. They want to go with Luke and company when they enter the Maw, an area of black holes and hostile space. They agree to a joint mission.

The Jedi who spent their childhood during the war at Shelter are going insane. The dark creature who lives in a black cluster in the Maw, Abeloth, is thought to somehow influence those losing their minds. The Sith have reasons of their own to find her. As they enter the Maw, back at Coruscant, the capital of the Galactic Alliance, Chief of State Natasi Daala continues her assault on the Jedi Order trying to turn them into outlaws or obedient to her governmental rule.

This is the middle book in a nine saga arc, but it remains an exciting Star Wars entry with a stunning twist as well as moving forward on the two overarching themes. Filled with the trademark action expected of a Star Wars thriller, Allies also contains an intriguing alliance between enemy combatants and an even more fascinating theme of slavery complete with rebels, underground railroads with conductors and a quasi organization located on planets where slavery is legal. Leia and Han are in minor but critical roles finding ways to break Daala's siege while also bringing needed humor to lighten the dark forces moving across the galaxy.

God of War
Matthew Stover and Robert E. Vardeman
Del Rey
9780345508676, $15.00

Kratos the warrior knows that serving the Gods of Olympus means being a monstrous murderer. He accepted his fate as a slave but feels being labeled by his fellow Greeks as a murderous monster is unfair when Ares or Athena demand you do their bidding; saying no is not an option until now. The chains of the Blades of Chaos that bound him are broken as the Gods apparently abandoned him to his conscience as the Ghost of Sparta.

Hermes taunted Athena with news that her pet mortal was considering entering Hades. She is stunned and upset but believes Kratos' downfall into thinking of suicide started with the Grave of Ships mission that set sail on the Aegean; leading him to an inferno engulfing Athens. His freedom from doing the biddings of Olympus was to kill Ares the God of War; someone Kratos loathes for atrocities on humanity that the God made him commit. Athena advised Kratos that the Blades of Chaos, the weapon he is bound to, is the only thing that could kill the God of War. He sought to confront Ares; with his goal that one of them will die, which one did not matter to Kratos.

Clearly intended for fans of the fantasy game, God of War provides an intriguing mythological thriller with an underlying message to watch what you wish for as sometimes you get what you asked for. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Athena thinks back to the adventures that led to her mortal pet being depressed and suicidal. Game players and Greek mythos readers will especially appreciate Kratos' "final" (if he survives, the Gods are a capricious crowd toying with their inferiors) quest.

China Mieville
Del Rey
9780345497499, $26.00

In London's Natural History Museum, curator Billy Harrow escorts a tour into the Darwin Center where a giant squid resides in a special tank prepared by him. Billy is proud of what he and most experts consider the top attraction of the Darwin center and perhaps the entire museum. When he and the tour group reach their destination, Billy is stunned to find it empty as that is not possible. What is more eerie is that not just the squid is gone, but the tank and preservative too.

Investigating police officer Kath Collingswood explains magical teleportation to a shocked Billy. He has now entered the realm of sorcery where Kath explains the only way to fight back is with sorcery. As Billy learns more about a part of London he and most residents never knew existed, the Congregation of God Kraken worship the giant squid while one of their flock Dane Parnell tries to keep curious Billy safe from two nasty wizards who get off with torture. Sent by their leader Tattoo the insane gangster survived sans body of his own as a tattoo put on the flesh of a wretched soul thanks to the greatest dead wizard. As the curator becomes more acquainted with the other London, city's familiars are refusing to perform as they picket for better pay, improved working conditions and health care.

Kraken is a wild over the top of Big Ben urban fantasy starring a likable curator, a fascinating dedicated cop-mage, and a vision of London that feels like something from Alice in Wonderland or Simon R. Green. Although the plot meanders much more than a Hyde Street Park speaker, and at times is overwhelmed by the paranormal antics throughout the city, fans of China Mieville will enjoy his jocular lampooning of the police procedural-amateur sleuth in an urban fantasy environs.

Transformers: Cybertron
Alex Irvine
Del Rey
9780345519856, $27.00

The planet Cybertron is populated by sentient mechanical beings; a place so stagnant that they know what they will be doing every moment of the day. Once put in a job, the bot gets the position for life. In the gladiator in the underground a champion arises who calls for freedom from the tyranny of the caste system that destroys freedom of choice and encourages the bots to work under a rigid schedule.

Data collector Orion Pax hears Megatronus (later named Megratron) call for the end of the castes and a return to the glory days of Cybertron when freedom and the arts flourished. Megatronus incites a rebellion that splits the rebels between those supporting Orion Pax while some feet that Megatronus's methods will work. The two meet and form an alliance to visit the High Council in strength to state their opinions. When Orion Pax is named Optimus Prime and is given power tat comes with the title Megatron feels betrayed and declares war on those who support his former ally and the autobots who want their freedom. The war leads to a nasty stalemate as each side destroys the land; Megaton now a tyrant longer no longer about the Cybertronians and he is the one Bot who could destroy all life on Cybertron.

Watching a gladiator rise to power by pretending to be a spokesman for freedom and a data collector turn into a planetary leader turns this Transformer tale into a good vs. evil war to control Cybertron. Optimus Prime is a born leader who proves the caste system fails as that society prevents talent fro rising above their birth spectrum. The characters are developed with feelings and thoughts that make sentient machines seem genuine. Fans of the saga will enjoy the Autobots vs. the Deceptions in "the official history of the war for Cybertron" for the right to choose as Alex Irvine captures the essence of the mechanical species, before they became movie stars.

Tongues of Serpents
Naomi Novik
Del Rey
9780345496898, $25.00

Considered traitors for saving French dragons from a deadly plague while his country is at war with France, English Captain Will Laurence and his Chinese-British dragon Temeraire are exiled to New South Wales. However, he never anticipated being embroiled in a local dispute over who should rule the colony.

The former royal governor wants back in control, while insurgents want to control the government. Both sides try to persuade Laurence and his dragon allies to support them. When a dragon egg is stolen, Laurence and Temeraire lead a quest to recover the egg; a dangerous trek over the Blue Mountains

The sixth Laurence-Temeraire thriller is much darker and less passionate than previous entries (see Victory of Eagles, His Majesty's Dragon, Throne Of Jade, Black Powder War and Empire Of Ivory). The heroic pair works a grim landscape, but never gets close to the Aborigines; a missed opportunity to see how the natives and the dragon interact. Having Bligh of the Bounty fame adds a solid twist and Temeraire's draconian outlook adds a fabulous perspective so that fans of the saga will enjoy the exile to Australia where in spite of their good intentions the dragon and his human get involved with a nasty dispute.

What's Really Hood!
Victor L. Martin, et al.
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446539166, $14.99,

"Black Is Blue" by Victor L. Martin. In Raleigh, legal assistant Desiree falls in love with Polo the thug. She wants him to go straight while he wants her to walk on the other side.

"The P is Free" by LaShonda Teague. Eighteen years old Wiz is addicted to the money selling drugs makes him. Crystal had it all including two years at Rutgers until she met crack. They fall love, but she realizes they are destroying each other, but she is doubtful whether she can stop her addiction to save their souls.

"The Last Laugh" by Bonta. The Eight-Trey street gangbanger Bobo goes to see his five year old daughter, but her mama tall Carla beats him up for his dallying with Tasha. Others are after him too over Tasha; the streets are turning meaner for BoBo.

"All For Nothing" by Shawn "Jihad" Trump. In McKeesport, the Point Blank Mob learns one of their members is facing a long sentence due to an informant wearing a wire. An affront to one is an affront to all so they go after the bi*ch who started the war even if law enforcement is coming for the gang. Jihad, like most of the crew with one exception, chooses fight over flight.

"Makin' Endz Meet" by Wahida Clark. Nina is tired of men using her like Cream just did. She vows no more, but Reese seems different; still she wants to get her child back with her friend Michelle as the only person she trusts.

This is a strong urban collection of life at its realistic meanest in the hood. Each entry is bloody while containing strong lead characters and a solid cast who bring to life What's Really Hood!

Murder In The Hamptons
Danita Carter
c/o Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781593092528, $15.00,

Detective Theodora Pratt knows the Hamptons have not seen a killing in quite awhile, but loathes all the spectators ruining the murder scene. The yacht near the floating corpse is owned by old money Liza Lord who explains to Pratt she provided a venue for newcomer Donovan Smart to throw his White and Platinum party introducing himself and his sister Reece and their friend Chyna to the neighbors of exclusive Coco Beach. Most of the snobs detest the nouveau riche rapper TuSmArt from the hood invading their turf; he just w anted them to know he and his sister are housetrained

Although the party was successful until the floater was found, most of the stuck-up locals are elated that the undesirables will be forced to leave in police custody. However, stereotyping the rapper is a mistake as Donovan is Einstein brilliant; he also unlike the notorious rappers prefers less dating because he wants a woman with the 3 Bs (beauty, body and brains). As Pratt hones in on the outsiders as suspects as well as flirty restaurant owner Troy, she also begins to revise her theory when the autopsy revealed in t he body excessive Oxycontin, a prescription drug.

Murder in the Hamptons is a terrific police procedural that takes a deep look at whether money can buy class and social status; as Danita Carter makes a strong case that social status does not define class. Fast-paced with a nice twist, fans will relish Theo's homicide investigation into a rapper who just wanted to take his sister and their BFF out of Brooklyn.

Nancy's Theory of Style
Grace Coopersmith
c/o Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781416598862, $15.00,

Bay area socialite Nancy Carrington-Chambers believes in style before substance so she had the perfect wedding, but three years of marriage has not come close to her nuptials. Todd is a boorish bore who shows no idea what proper decorum requires. Sick of her husband, she leaves their mansion to focus on Froth, her event planning consulting business while living in their San Francisco apartment.

To prove her worth as a planner, Nancy accepts the mission impossible of changing the stuffy Barbary Coast Historical Museum fundraiser into a must attend gala as opposed to a must stay away event. Nancy's British assistant Derek Cathcart adds class to her efforts, but she is confused by her attraction to the openly gay expatriate. Meanwhile, her cousin Birdie dumps her four years old daughter Eugenia on Nancy and leaves without a look back. Nancy finds an unstylish unconventional family of sorts with her as the center and Derek and Eugenia joining her while her affluent upper crust parents demand she show class and style by returning to her husband; but then there is also Rick to consider.

This is an amusing contemporary that is superb when it keeps the relationships somewhat light; when the story line switches to poignancy it loses some momentum as that profoundness clashes with the overall humor of the tale. Still with a strong support cast and coming of age super lead, fans will appreciate Nancy's Theory of Style that mirrors the School for Scandal (by Sheridan) until she pragmatism forces her to revise her belief system.

Robert K. Tanenbaum
9781439149232, $26.00

The first charges of terrorism for the NYSE explosion filed against Harlem Islamic mosque leader Sharif Jabbar were dismissed in Escape. However, determined New York District Attorney Roger "Butch" Karp has filed new charges insisting new allegations have surfaced. As Jabbar waits trial in the Tombs, activist attorney Megan O'Dowd believes NYPD has a fake case against the Islamic Inman and plans to prove her assertion of fabricated digital information and harassment.

Karp's wife Marlene Ciampi investigates the murder of socialite Michelle Oakley; the police arrest destitute kiosk owner Dirty Warren in the homicide of an escort owner. No one joins her crusade except David Grale, the insane religious leader of the tunnels Mole People sect. Her inquiry leads to another debutante vanishing in an underground of the influential affluent and their high priced call girls.

This is an exciting Karp-Ciampi (and the rest of the family) Manhattan crime fighting thriller. The story line starts slow as the back-story is provided for the audience. Once the two subplots take control, the story line accelerates as Butch makes the case against Jabbar and Ciampi makes the case for Warren.

That Perfect Someone
Johanna Lindsey
9781439101070, $25.99

When they were children, their fathers contracted for Richard Allen and Julia Miller to marry. However, almost a decade ago, Richard unable to deal with his martinet father fled the Earl and the marriage contract for the Caribbean. There he became Jean-Paul the French treasure hunting pirate.

His betrothed Julia plans to end the contract that she believes will never be consummated by her fiance; not that she wants to wed the rogue. Richard sneaks back into England on business and meets married Georgina Malory (see Gentle Rogue). At a masked gala he outrageously flirts with Georgina, which angers her spouse James. To keep the raging Malory from skewering him, he impulsively kisses another beauty, Julia. She thinks she has found That Perfect Someone in the Frenchman while he marvels at how fickle he has become. When she learns who he is, she ends their relationship until he is captured and placed on a transport ship for criminals. Now she must rescue the man she loves who abandoned her nine years ago, but vows not to marry Richard as she insists she loves Jean-Paul.

Although somewhat similar in tone to Gentle Rogue, That Perfect Someone is an exciting somewhat linked Malory family historical romance. The gender war between the lead couple once unmasked is a delight as each hates most the fact they don't hate one another but love one another; mindful of Julia Stiles as Kat reciting her sonnet in Ten Things I Hate About You (as Kat said: "How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways") to the Heath Ledger character Patrick. Fast-paced fans of the Malory brood loose connections will enjoy this fun battle of the sexes.

Spiritual Seduction
Desiree Day
9781439126783, $15.00

Bradley Tyson is abusive with a horrific violent temper. His wife Riley pleads with him to go out with her on their fifth anniversary while her sister watches their two young children, Carter and Brie, but he refuses; instead he slaps her and leaves. A few hours later, two police officers wake her up with the news he is dead; a pimp killed him when he refused to pay for a blow job

Ironically, in death Bradley is a more attentive husband as his spirit visits Riley every night; he seduces her into believing he cares though she has doubts. Her misgivings prove true that even in death a leopard does not change its spots. Bradley steals her soul taking her into the vilest of realms. Riley's boss of several years Malik Davenport vows to save her soul from her odious late husband; something he hopelessly could not do when the prig lived. A royal ancient warrior who kills demons, he enters the most hellish of hells to save Riley while the war between the demons and the paladins has teetered towards evil winning due to Bradley; Malik and his peers pl an to win Armageddon; he has an added incentive: Riley.

This is a great urban fantasy in which battered Riley is the foci of the war between demons and the paladins. Fast-paced from the opening setting when Bradley shows his snarling teeth and never slowing down, fans will appreciate this strong saga as the romance takes a back seat to saving a soul and a world; neither an easy task. Readers will root for Riley to kick Bradley's spirit to hell's curb, but wonder if she can find the courage even with those who cherish her like her sister, her boss, and his brother coaxing her to do so. Only one thing could get her to challenge her dead mate.

A Gentleman Always Remembers
Candace Camp
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781439117989, $7.99,

With the death of her military officer husband Bruce two years ago, twenty-six years old Eve Hawthorne knows she needs a job to escape her martinet stepmother. Thus she gracefully accepts a position as chaperone to the Earl of Stewksbury's visiting American orphaned cousins the Bascombe sisters (practical eldest sister Mary, shy Rose, knife-totin' Camellia, and silly Lily. However her transition to prim and proper widow has a slight problem; her escort to the Earl's estate is his brother, Fitzhugh Talbot, whom she shared a bit of flirtatious behavior.

At Willowmere, Eve is on her best behavior as she needs the job of chaperone while Fitz keeps up the seductive pressure on her. As they begin a tryst, Fitz falls in love with the charming widow, but soon letters arrive warning Eve to leave or suffer the consequences.

The second Willowmere late Regency romance (see A Lady Never Tells) is an enjoyable pairing of a roguish male with a widow who has just a bit more experience in spite of eight years of marriage with the other gender as her charge. As chaos grows with each new arrival and romance is everywhere while the threat increases, readers will relish this fun historical.

Laura Griffin
9781439152959, $7.99

All her life, Elaina McCord wanted to be a profiler in the B.A.U. unit of the FBI like her father did. She is assigned to the Brownsville, Texas Branch of the agency, but her boss SAC Scarborough makes it clear he does not respect her or want her on his team. Elaine believes that without a miracle, her probation will end with her firing.

On Lito Island, Texas, two women have been killed in gruesome ways that make even veteran officers used to ugly homicide scenes need to puke. Elaina is assigned to the case because her chief figures she will quit once she sees the corpses. Her profiles are to be given to Police Chief Matt Branch. He dismisses her as a loser; saying she is out of her league. When a third female goes missing, they lack proof they are dealing with a serial killer. True crime writer Troy Slaton wrote a book re a killer who certified killing one of the victims from another series of murders that happened five years ago, but the author now believes that psychopath lied. He teams up with Elaina to find the real murderer. Elaina links the homicides from five years ago to those happening now and she receives help from the San Marcus police officer who worked the previous cold case. The killer contacts Elaina who sees a butterfly design on two of the victims and traces that to an online game. S he begins to figure out who took the web game from virtual reality to reality.

Laura Griffin's fantastic romantic suspense will be enjoyed by fans of Nora Roberts and Andrea Kane. Elaina is hurt by the sexist treatment of her superiors at the FBI, but she is also is not a quitter; instead she is obsessed to prove her worth and is determined to help solve the case. Her bull dog tenacity to demonstrate she is more than equal to the law men putting her down and almost out enhance a strong investigative thriller.

Enemy Lover
Karin Harlow
9781439109823, $7.99

Human trafficker Carlos Montes raped and brutalized Baltimore police officer Angela Giacomelli while she was on a sting; no cop back-up from the department as expected helped her. Raging she kills the man who walked. As she heads for prison convicted of murder one, Angela knows she would kill her attacker again if she had too even knowing the consequences of her retaliation.

On the way to prison, the bus is attacked and Angela is liberated. She joins L.O.S.T undercover operatives like Jax Cassidy. Her assignment is to kill assassin Marcus Cross and then take out his mentor Joseph Lazarus. Marcus was left for dead by his military unit in Afghanistan; his loyalty is to his savior Joseph; an ambitious person targeting domination of the White House. Joseph soon places Marcus on a crash Hobson's choice between his love for Jax (and hers for him) and his unswerving loyalty to his paragon.

This is an exhilarating romantic suspense thriller that is fun to read as the action never slows down for a nanosecond. The raging kick-butt heroine and the raging kick-butt hero share in common being left behind by their comrades in arms and trusting almost no one since. Readers will enjoy Karin Harlow's Last Option Special Team tale.

A Night of Long Knives
Rebecca Cantrell
c/o Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765320452, $24.99,

Journalist Hannah Vogel, traveling as Frau Zinsli, and her adopted nine year old son Anton fly on the Graf Zeppelin to Switzerland. Hannah is concerned that she is so close to Nazi Germany as three years ago she kidnapped the alleged son of the chief of staff of the storm troopers Ernst Rohm. Her fears become affirmed when the airship lands in Germany with she and the lad dumped by the Swiss, who continue their journey. Worse she is separated from the lad as she is taken to Rohm.

However, she has her first break since being captured on German soil when Hitler and a contingency arrive at Rohm's hotel room to arrest him. Hitler's inadvertent intrusion enables Hannah to escape. However, she refuses to leave without her Anton so the intrepid reporter searches for her son at great risk to her life.

A Night of Long Knives is a fascinating Depression Era tale that centers on the Nazi's strengthening their power over all aspects of German society. The story line is action-packed with a courageous heroine who has way too many Houdini-like escapes that eventually detracts from the sense of what is happening to Germany circa 1934. Still historical readers will enjoy Rebecca Cantrell's exciting thriller rooting for Hannah the heroine.

The Cabal
David Hagberg
9780765320209, $24.99

In Washington DC, CIA agent Todd Van Buren meets his college friend Washington Post reporter Josh Givens at a D.C. restaurant. Josh mentions to Todd he's investigating an apparent top secret government cell the Friday Club. He insists the group consists of political and military insiders who from the shadows run the government.

Not long after they depart, two snipers assassinate Todd, who ran the CIA training "Farm" with his wife Elizabeth, as he drives on the Interstate near Fredericksburg, Maryland. A few hours later, assassins murder Josh, his wife and their son in their townhouse. Former CIA Director Kirk McGarvey has no time to grieve the death of his son-in-law. Fuming, he vows to find the killers, their handlers, and their leaders as more people are murdered; some even closer to him.

The latest ultra fast-paced McGarvey thriller is an exhilarating action-packed tale with several twists that even the hero never anticipated. Fast-paced throughout, McGarvey struggles with psychological trauma like none he faced before even when he dealt with a best friend mole inside the agency and staying alive as he climbs the pyramid of the Friday Club hierarchy.

People of the Longhouse
W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear
9780765320162, $25.99

During the Late Iroquoian Period around AD 1400, the northern tribes are at war with one another over resources including people to replenish shrinking populations. Most struggle to survive with the constant conflicts, some strive.

The People of the Standing Stone are massacred with their village destroyed. The children are sold to Gannajero a brutal slave trader who sells children to other tribes. The People of the Standing Stone's female war chief Koracoo and her spouse Gonda are outraged by the atrocities and want their two kids and the other children rescued. They and two adversarial warriors begin a rescue mission that can only end with death; hopefully they pray their enemies.

The latest North America's Forgotten Past tribal saga (see Mississippian period - People of the Thunder) is a great entry that emphasizes time and place just prior to the European contact. As denoted in the nonfiction introduction, the Iroquois are a prime source of American democracy (not just Locke and the Founding Fathers), which adds to the fascination fog an action-packed story line that remains if first gear for most of the historical thriller. Although the climax feels abrupt and rushed, readers will enjoy the insightful People of the Longhouse.

The Galilean Secret
Evan Drake Howard
PO Box 5815, Harlan, IA 51593-1315
9780824947941, $24.99

Palestinian Karim Musalaha fears his volatile father whose hatred of the Zionists make life untenable at home. Currently Karim hides from his dad, head of the Jihadist Palestinian Patriotic Alliance in a cave in Qumran. There he finds a clay jar containing a brittle ancient looking scroll. His discovery makes him a target of Jews, Christians and Muslims.

In circa 33 AD in Judea, Jewish Judith of Jerusalem is to marry merchant Gabriel ben Zebulon, but on the day of their wedding she knows she does not want to be his wife though he is a nice attractive man. Instead she elopes with Gabriel's brother Dismas, a Zealot who shares her loathing of the occupying Romans who killed her brother. Judith regrets hurting her family and her intended, but runs off with Dismas praying her loved ones and her jilted fiancee will forgive her. Heartbroken Gabriel decides to kill himself by jumping off the Temple but the Pharisee Nicodemus saves his life. He talks about the Epistle Rabbi Jesus wrote that tells people to forgive themselves so they can forgive others. Disillusioned with the Zealot cause, Judith reads that epistle she and Dismas stole from Nicodemus' home.

Expanding on his terrific The Lost Epistle Of Jesus, but keeping the premise of enabling readers to see the human and divine sides of Jesus and the love shared with Mary Magdalene, Pastor Evan Drake Howard provides an even deeper more relevant tale. Judith's subplot mirrors Mary's life and that of Karim as ironically the Zealots of the first century are the Jihadists of the twenty-first century. All three and others especially Gabriel seek the Galilean Secret truth of Jesus in order for all to embrace the message to live in peace and harmony while loving all of God's creations.

Daemon's Mark
Caitlin Kittredge
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312943660, $17.99,

In Nocturne City, homicide is a way of life. At least that is what NCPD Supernatural Crime Squad police lieutenant Luna Wilder believes as she spends much of her time investigating murders. However, she has found solace away from the job in her relationship with ATF agent Will Fagin.

Her current case is nasty as someone brutally killed an underage teen Were. Jurisdiction problems arise between her unit and that of Special Victims who deal with minors flares up. As Luna and her team investigate the gruesome murder, they find an unexpected connection to the Russian mob. Following her instincts leads Luna to a dangerous confrontation in which she knows she will be fortunate to come out alive and with her heart intact especially where the case leads.

The fifth Nocturne City police procedural urban fantasy (see Witch Craft and Second Skin) is an exhilarating entry as the heroine remains nasty to subordinates, superiors and associates in the NCPD (just ask SV Detective Lane), and even worse when she grills outsiders. In fairness Will has mellowed her a bit since Night Life. The investigation is entertaining as Luna kicks supernormal and natural butt; mostly of a Russian variety. Fans of the series will enjoy Luna's latest lunatic inquiry although once again one must wonder how, in spite of her resolution record, she remains a supervisor as she is as far from a people 's person (regardless of species) one will meet.

My Ultimate Sister Disaster
Jane Mendle
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312369040, $8.99,

A year older than her sister Franny, Zooey has become a prima-ballerina performing at Lincoln Center. Franny envies her sibling as her parents ignore her focusing somewhat on the talented offspring; though in fairness mom is doing it from Africa and dad from his boutique. Not that Franny is a failure as she is tall, pretty, and obtaining high grades in her first year at prep school.

As Franny's grades fall, the dynamics at least between the sisters change when Zooey suffers a broken leg that jeopardizes her career. They begin to come together as Franny realizes how much her sister sacrifices for her love of dance. Her desire reminds Franny of her own goal to become a journalist. However, their burgeoning friendship has one major divider; both want a certain awesome school editor.

With a nod to the late J.D. Salinger (worth reading Franny and Zooey), young adult readers will enjoy the bond of sisters are strongest when necessity arises. Franny and Zooey are fully developed characters as their need to be there for one another during a difficult period in which their parents are not truly there for them overwhelms their rivalry. Fans will relish Jane Mendle's insightful look at the disasters and triumphs of two sisters navigating Manhattan together.

Forbidden Highlander
Donna Grant
St. Martin's
9780312381233, $7.99

The McLeod brothers (Fallon, Lucan and Quinn) were descended from a cadre of warriors created by Druids to repel the Romans from Scotland and England. For three centuries the siblings hid from Deirdre who wants their magic. However in 1603, Luca n meets his soulmate (see Dangerous Highlander), but Quinn was captured by their enemy.

In Edinburgh Fallon meets and falls in love with Lady Larena Monroe. He is shocked to realize she is a warrior; the only female he ever met. She accompanies Fallon to the McLeod estate, a haven for warriors and Druids. As Deirdre assaults the stronghold, Fallon plans to rescue his brother, but first proposes to his beloved. She wants to say yes, but knows she conceals from her beloved a dark secret that will turn his love to loathing.

The second McLeod brother historical fantasy is a terrific tale with a nice twist that readers will know is coming yet Donna Grant makes the spin fun to follow. The story line is fast-paced and is more than just a middle book as Fallon's fate is decided. With Quinn still held captive by the obsessed Deirdre, sub-genre fans will be impatient for his Dark Sword legend as the audience anticipates his confrontation with his much stronger jailer.

Married By Morning
Lisa Kleypas
St. Martin's
9780312605384, $7.99

In 1852 Lord Leo Hathaway is shocked when he learns he must marry and sire an heir within the year or his family will lose their home, Ramsay House. He has only one woman in mind; his sisters' paid companion of more than two years, the terrifyingly efficient Catherine Marks although she is far from the meek governess that one finds in novels.

Leo knows he loves getting Catherine's gander up although he fears she loathes him. Still he considers what life with this passionate spitfire would be like. During there latest war of words, he kisses her. Leo proposes, but Cat fears her past would surface making it unsafe for the Hathaway family she loves.

The latest Hathaway Victorian romance (see Seduce Me At Sunrise, Tempt Me At Twilight and Mine Till Midnight) is a wonderful historical as the governess and her employer take their two year spat to new levels to the delight of sub-genre fans. Readers will relish the humorous bantering between the pair as her brave protector Dodger (the ferret) go up against the infamous Ramsay Curse using love in the morning, afternoon and evening as their counter weapon.

The Night She Got Lucky
Susan Donovan
St. Martin's
9780312366056, $7.99

The elderly matchmaking widow Mrs. Needleman insists she is a psychic and informs Ginger Garrison that she will soon get lucky as the man of her dreams awaits her. Ginger gently scoffs at the forecasting as she had one selfish mate and so is not interested in another; that is until she meets nature photographer Lucio "Lucky" Montevez; as the tea leaves said she would get Lucky.

Lucio is uninterested in any woman at the moment. Instead he remains singularly focused on regaining his shattered career as a globetrotting photographer of the world's wild. When he fails to get his career back on track due to bureaucratic ineptitude, Lucio turns to painting portraits of owners with their pets because he needs to eat. This leads him back to Ginger, her twin teen sons, her pet walking crew, her selfish former husband and the frightening Mrs. Needleman.

The aptly titled The Night She Got Lucky is a fun lighthearted contemporary wacky romance starring two individuals who share in common an attraction and a disclaimer re no permanent relationships; though their reasons differ. Fans will enjoy the amusing plot as the wildlife photographer finds picture taking in a cement jungle with ferocious owners and their pets scarier than field work. Susan Donovan provides a warm dog walker's tale (see Ain't Too Proud to Beg and take a Chance One me) with a wonderful story line that once again feels like a throwback to the 1930s madcap comedies.

Bijou Roy
Ronica Dhar
St. Martin's
9780312551018, $23.99

Nitish Roy left Calcutta for the United Sates. There he and his wife raised two daughters in America. When Nitish dies, having no sons, his oldest daughter Bijou agrees to take her beloved father back to India for a proper burial. Her mother and younger sister accompany Bijou who serves as the surrogate male in honor of her dad.

In India as his family prepares to spread Nitish's ashes ehilr Bijou meets the son of her late father's best friend, Naveen. Attracted to Naveen, Bijou believes he might be able to shed some light as to why her father left India and never returned until now. As she begins to understand Nitish's political fiascos that led to his and his wife's emigrating to the United States, she also looks deep at her family's heritage and her Americanization; finding little comfort in either.

Bijou makes the tale entertaining and insightful, as she struggles to learn her parents' culture and why they left India behind while also wondering where she belongs. The cast is incredibly strong as they bring to life contemporary India as seen through the lens of assimilated Indian-Americans. Fans will enjoy Bijou's growing disconcerting awareness that she does not feel she fits in either world.

Shakespeare Undead
Lori Handeland
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312641528, $13.99

In 1592 London, William Shakespeare walks at night in the Southwark neighborhood when he is attacked. Amateur chasseur hunter of the undead Katherine slices his throat. However, Shakespeare counterattacks the lad who tried to cut off his head; only to find he is a she.

To his regret, the vampire bard is attracted to his chasseur especially after he steals a kiss from his dark lady. They soon team up on solving a mystery that threatens the undead and the living of London as zombie gangbangers troll the streets; while Shakespeare also wonders if this time he gets the happy ending with the girl instead of another tragedy in five acts; as the last one he wanted he lost to a Roman and ultimately the asp.

Shakespeare Undead is a lighthearted frolic based on the concept that the Bard would have needed several lifetimes to produce the quantity and quality of his work; thus he must have been an immortal vampire. That twisted logic permeates the humorous spoofing story line. With references to the Elizabethan Era and to the masterpieces, Lori Handeland provides an amusing lampooning starting with the Dark Lady star of the sonnets trying to cut off the Bard's head; making one wonder just who the Fool is when he wants her with his other head. Over the top of Westminster Abbey, this is a fun Elizabethan fantasy spoof.

No Werewolves Allowed
Cheyenne McCray
St. Martin's
9780312946425, $7.99

The ancient Alpha werewolf Dmitri Kral Beketov informs hybrid Drow-human Nightracker Nyx and her purebred human partner Olivia that someone is abducting and killing his pack members. He wants to hire the paranormal crimes private investigative pair to find out who is the culprit that leaves no clues behind; not even olfactory.

The stakes rise when the culprit kidnaps several werewolf pups. The two sleuths are assisted by other Night Trackers and NYPD detective Adam Boyd, who not just has Nyx's back but wants her on her back, scour the woods for the malevolence. Nyx soon realizes the vile motive and who the evil one is, but to end this reign of terror could cost her and her partner their lives.

The second Night Tracker urban fantasy whodunit (see Demons Not Included) is a terrific paranormal investigative novel told by the hard-ass Nyx. Fast-paced with a strong twist, the New York City Underworld seems genuine while evolving with Were, Vamps, Demons, and assorted other ilk traipsing the cement canyons. Cheyenne McCray continues to provide strong tales (see the author's magic saga) to the deserved accolades of her sub-genre fans.

Shadow Zone
Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen
St. Martin's
9780312611606, $26.00

Morinth was a technologically advanced city that sunk to the bottom of the sea, but was recently found. People like submersible designer Hannah Bryson are mapping the city, which has been beautifully preserved. They could see from the city' design and architecture how the people had a magnificent culture as art especially statues are found. They obtain enough information to determine what living was like in Morinth, but what remains unknown is why the city sunk.

The researchers find a patch of algae on the perimeter that does not seem to be anywhere else. When cultivated, it grows at an extraordinary pace, which unless stopped will overcome all living things in the sea. They also locate an odd artifact, a trellis that explains how the pollution mixed with the algae left the islanders without a food source. The algae called TK 44 can be a weapon of mass destruction worth millions to arms dealer Vincent Gadaire who plans to harvest the algae in order to sell it to the highest bidder. Hanah with the help of Nicholas Kirkov plan to prevent the insane scheme.

The Johansen mother-son team has written an exhilarating thriller that grabs reader attention early and maintains it throughout. The characters are fully developed especially the heroine who is a combo of beauty, brains and brawn. Hannah obsesses over preserving Morinth and saving the world. Gadaire plays an enthralling cat and mouse game with Hannah while Kirkov is an enigmatic individual. Readers will enjoy this timely somewhat over the top environmental thriller.

The Blue Bistro
Elin Hilderbrand
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312992620, $7.99

For the last eight years, late twentyish Adrienne Dealey has worked a series of hotel jobs. Her last gig was in Aspen, but now she arrives in Nantucket. Owner of the upscale Blue Bistro Thatcher Smith hires Adrienne as the restaurant's assistant manager although she has no experience working at a restaurant so it is a work in progress.

As she learns the business while serving as the hostess, Thatcher and Adrienne begin an affair. However, every night when the Blue Bistro closes Thatcher and his partner talented chef Fiona Kemp share dinner in the kitchen where she hides as her retreat from society; all this leaves Adrienne confused until she finds out the truth about her "rival" and why the Blue Bistro will close after this summer.

This is an interesting Nantucket contemporary drama starring a likable cast. Although some minor subplots feel like padding and a late twist unnecessary, the story line is entertaining. Fans will relish the locale as Elin Hilderbrand owns the beach in summer while wondering along side of Adrienne what is truly going on between Thatcher whom she believes wants her and Adrienne.

Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312599072, $17.99

In New Orleans lives fourteen year old Nick Gautier whose mother is a stripper and whose father killed people in the double digits. He sees the world like most mortals, but soon the filter will be lifted from his eyes; enabling him to observe the preternatural world, the good and the bad. Both sides will want him for their own purposes because he possesses powers that have not yet been tapped, which means whatever side he picks, the dark or the light, will deploy him as a powerful weapon.

When Nick chooses to prevent his friends from robbing and killing two elderly tourists, Night Hunter Kyrian Hunter saves his life by rushing him to the hospital. He also pays the bill and gives him a hefty salary intending to make him a squire later on. Nick is unaware of most of Kyrian's plans, but he gets a close-up glimpse of the dark side when students are turned into living zombies who hunt him while eating people. He is only one of many who note the changes in the people turned zombies but he may be the only hope they have to find a way return them back into carefree teens.

Expanding on her mythos, Sherrilyn Kenyan has another hit series with "The Chronicles of Nick", which targets young adults but also will be appreciated by the Night Hunter audience fans of all ages. The affluent students who attend scholarship Nick's new private school, their parents and the faculty believe Nick and his mom are trailer trash; however he refuses to let them put him down as he adores and admires his mom so their opinion and snide asides mean nothing except to toughen him. He will need that mental toughness and thick skin in his new vocation as readers will enjoy the teen exploits of Nick the hunter squire in training.

Still Missing
Chevy Stevens
St. Martin's
9780312595678, $24.99

In Clayton Falls on Vancouver Island, thirtyish realtor Annie O'Sullivan hosts an open house in which hardly anyone visits. She is about to call it quits as a failed day when a nicely attired man arrives. Annie thinks she may have a sale, which would help her overcome the nasty taste of the argument she had with her mom. Instead he abducts her taking her to a remote shack in the mountains.

Annie eventually escapes after a year-long imprisonment by an obsessed lunatic. However, the ordeal is far from over as she visits a psychiatrist to explain her trepidations then and now since the police have not captured her psychopathic kidnapper who she fears will come back for her, but insolently refuses to be a victim a second time, physically or emotionally.

The ordeal is told by Annie to her psychiatrist is so emotional readers will cringe at what she went through, still going through and will be going through with one last twist. Annie makes the tale as the emotional scars will be with her for the rest of life. This is a one sitting tale by what may be the best debut thriller of the year.

P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312606169, $17.99

Unable to mentally accept what has recently happened (see Tempted), Zoey Redbird implodes with her soul ripped from her body and running off to the Otherworld. If her soul and body fail to unite within one week, Zoey will be dead as a body cannot exist without a soul.

The Vampyre High Council writes Zoey off as dead refusing to waste assets on her. However, she has friends who will not quit trying as long as she still lives. In Tulsa, Stevie Rae considers seeking information by digging into deadly ancient powers for information while her sort of boyfriend demands to know what is going on and the Red Fledglings are out of control. Others in Venice as well as Tulsa like Aphrodite and Stark pray for Zoey while considering a desperate rescue attempt though increasingly as time expires; a Hail Mary is all that is left to save their friend. At the same time they know they must keep their eye on the more critical mission to prevent the twisted plot of Neferet and Kalona from occurring.

This is a strong House of Night urban fantasy entry as Zoey suffers mental anguish from what previously occurred to the point that she suffers a paranormal post traumatic distress disorder breakdown; she prefers to remain in Otherworld in order to die. The story line rotates perspective amongst her friends who increasingly grow frantic and panic-stricken and her enemies whose reasons become clearer than in previous thrillers. Readers will relish this excellent tale, but need at a minimum to read Tempted to understand why the heroine suffers from paranormal PTSD.

Anywhere She Runs
Debra Webb
St. Martin's
9780312532970, $7.99

In Huntsville, Alabama, on her day off while enjoying a tryst, FedEx delivers an envelope to Police Detective Adeline Cooper. The return address is from her home state of Mississippi. Inside is a note, the second referencing three princesses that she received in four days. Also the package contains a newspaper clipping from the Hattiesburg Gazette stating that: "City Attorney Cherry Prescott Missing". Her boss at Huntsville PD says this is serious and needs to be treated as such.

Pascagoula Sheriff Wyatt Henderson informs Adeline to send the evidence to him; she tells him she will personally deliver it to him and will be on the investigation team. Neither is happy with their pending team-up as they have a history before she left town a decade ago; a past that has left him feeling guilty that he failed to protect his beloved Adeline; while she feels remorse that she never let him explain. They plan to go after the killer, but Wyatt vows to keep his Adeline safe this time.

The key to this excellent police procedural is that the second chance at love subplot is kept in arrears except when the lead duo argues over safety issues. The investigation is super as the killer and the intrepid female cop play a deadly game of chess with each other while the resolute local sheriff does everything he can to participate in the checkmate to death encounter. Readers will enjoy Debra Webb's super romantic suspense thriller as she gives the Colby Agency operatives a well deserved respite.

Daughters of Fortune
Tara Hyland
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781439165065, $16.00,

In 1974 in Valleymount, Ireland, single mom Katie O'Dwyer dies. On her deathbed she informs her beloved fifteen year old daughter that her father is London based retailer William Melville. They had an affair that he ended just before Caitlin's birth. William attends Katie's funeral and informs his daughter that she will move into the family estate in Somerset.

William's wife Isabelle resents her husband's illegitimate daughter and their spoiled daughters, Elizabeth and Amber, treat her as if she is beneath them. At her new school, Caitlin is drugged and gang-raped, but decides not to have the animals arrested. Instead over the years she struggles to adjust from a middle class existence to an affluent one. She finishes her schooling and goes to Paris to study fashion design before traveling to New York to prove her talent. Elizabeth becomes a chip off her dad's block with her business acumen that she hopes to use to win daddy's approval; and Amber becomes a supermodel with emotional issues that lead to out of control behavior.

When the focus is on the three sisters and their struggles to make it in their chosen fields and how they relate to their parents (stepmother obviously in Caitlin's case), the story line is a terrific family saga. When the plot spotlights other family members, it feels intrusive as too much of a soap opera spin occurs. Still the siblings are wonderfully complete as each has personal issues and flaws while trying to make it independently and eventually in unity.

Leaving the World
Douglas Kennedy
9781439180785, $16.00

Jane Howard celebrates her thirteenth birthday with her family when she makes a cryptic comment that no one is happy. The next morning her dad quoting her profound statement on happiness leaves.

Jane internalizes what happened, blaming herself. She locks away her feelings and turns to the academic world for sustenance. At Harvard she has an affair with her married thesis adviser, who dies in an accident; which affirms her belief people leave. Jane makes a fortune in the finance world, but turns to teaching at a minor Boston university. She falls in love with film archivist Theo and they have a child, but he steals her money while running off with his new partner. Once again Jane learns men leave. However, she finds a new interest a child-murder investigation in Calgary.

A lot happened to Jane but she courageously is accepting that sh*t happens as That's Life (Sinatra), but what makes her an admirable heroine is that "Each time I find myself flat on my face I pick myself up and get back in the race"; she never quits. Readers will root for Jane who tells her entertaining tale in which "Some people get their kicks stompin' on a dream But I don't let it, let it get me down." That's Life.

The Journey Home
Michael Baron
The Story Plant
9780981956862, $5.99,

When Joseph awakens he is confused as he has no idea who he is or how he got to where he is. The people who found him are kind to him and offer to allow him to stay with them, but he feels an urgency to find where he belongs. Seventeen year old Will offers to drive him to wherever he needs to go. Reluctantly, Joseph accepts after asking Will questions about his parents.

Elderly Antoinette is dying from Alzheimer's. She resides at the Treetops assisted living facility while dreaming of the day she and her late lover Don will reunite. Her adult son Warren is going through difficult times as he lost his corporate job and marriage, and increasingly his beloved mom. He decides to cook her favorite meals with her help as he recalls she was the great neighborhood chef creating unique meals for only people she knew. Warren finds a passion and a connection with his mom while also attracted to kindhearted Jan the nurse. Soon these three people and the two road warriors will connect in ways no one on earth could understand.

This is a great family drama with a delightful spiritual twist. The four prime players and to a lesser degree Jan are fully developed as Michael Baron gets inside the mind of an Alzheimer's victim, an apparent amnesiac as well as those who care about them but are unsure what to do. Readers will want to join the cast on aptly title Journey Home to learn how the diverse subplots connect the dots.

Amazon Queen
Lori Devoti
Juno Books
c/o Wildside Press
9710 Traville Gateway Drive, #234, Rockville, MD 20850
9781439167724, $7.99,

In a shopping center in Beloit, Amazon Queen Zery and several of her tribe women manage to tale a baby away from two male Sons. However, before they can bring the infant to safety, they apparently lose the child back to a Son. Thus her leadership is challenged insidiously yet serendipitously by her supposed top advisor the High Priestess, who wants to be the Queen as does a newcomer. The Council offers no advice to her.

Matters turn ugly for Zery when not only is she removed from the throne by the Council and replaced by her alleged ally, but a Son she is attracted to admits to spying on her for five years. Furthermore, Zery has doubts that the old ways that has kept the Amazons superior to mankind work anymore as the Sons prove organized and their equal except with a greater thirst for destroying their female counterparts as they know first hand the gender cleansing done by their mothers. While Zery feels as if she fits nowhere; she fears for her race because of the internal squabble threatening to split the Amazons as much as the external threat from the Sons, but she feels hopeless to do anything about it.

The sequel to Amazon Ink is a terrific urban fantasy that focuses on the two disputes that place the Amazons in jeopardy. Zery tries to deal with both, but is kicked aside not by incompetence but by opportunism. She is a wonderful lead character who is no longer sure which threat is most dangerous to her people's existence. Ironically her tribe and the Sons look at humanity as beneath them; yet she understands the threat caused by technology. Although there is a relatively minor romantic subplot; that takes a back seat to the prime story line of what will happen now that Zery's word is no longer law.

Angel Slayer
Michelle Hauf
Silhouette Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373618378, $5.25,

Working at an art gallery near Chelsea Park where her first showing is being held, artist Eden Campbell muses that she paints angels from her nocturnal dreams, but wisely tells no one her source as she prefers avoiding padded rooms. However, a fallen angel Zaqiel knows who she is and why she dreams of angels.

Zaqiel stalks her looking for the moment to abduct and rape her. As a Muse, she will birth his offspring, a nephilim who will cause the apocalypse now. Demon Asher Manning has been sent from Beneath to kill Zaqiel and as a temporary second order effectively protect Eden. However, he desires her and she falls in love with him; but demons cannot love in return.

Set in the same realm as the Wicked Games and Bewitching the Dark sagas, the first Of Angels & Demons urban fantasy romance is a terrific paranormal due to a strong cast who insures the otherworldly species seem real. Eden is a wonderful female in peril character, but Asher owns the story line as he knows demons' first sin is falling in love. Fans of Michelle Hauf will enjoy her expansion of her Old Testament Book of Enoch mythos as the Angel Slayer is a great paranormal romance.

Lindsay McKenna
Silhouette Nocturne
9780373618361, $5.25

In 1308 Templar Knight Nicholas de Beaufort and his cohorts prayed to the Cathay God not for themselves, but for those who were burning them at the stake. French King Phillip used his army on the Albigensian Crusade killling a million people. However though his body died in the inferno, his spirit and that of his peers survive at the Village of the Clouds. They remain warriors for the Taqe forces of light on the eternal battle against the Tupay forces of the dark.

In the present Mary Anderson has been assigned to find the last two missing spheres to a magical necklace that will bring peace and harmony to mankind. Although he prefers not to return to earth as a mortal, Nicholas understands he must as his task is to protect Mary from the evil Tupay Dark Lord Victor Carancho Guerra and advising her on her efforts to find "Saturn" in her Scottish trek. As they fall in love, Mary and Nicholas seek the final two emeralds with help from her late grandfather, a warrior owned by Victor.

The sixth Warriors for the Light romantic urban fantasy is a wonderful finish to an engaging mythos. The story line is loaded with action yet insures the lead couple is fully developed as they struggle with their quest, a powerful insidious enemy, and love. Fans of the series will enjoy the end of this arc and marvel at Lindsay McKenna setting up the next spin in her saga. Lindsay McKenna can only write books that are sublime.

House of Secrets
Richard Hawke
Random House
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9781400066087, $25.00,

U.S. Senator Andrew Foster believes his manifest destiny is the White House. He has everything going for him that an ambitious person needs and with the vice president forced to resign, a potential rival is out of the game with an opening for him to move up. However, like a Shakespearean tragic figure, Andrew has a flaw; the married Andy loves the women.

At his Shelter Island, New York bungalow, Andy enjoys sex with his campaign adviser Joy when Robert Smallwood crashes through the glass door. The intruder hammers the young woman with a pipe before leaving her dead. Andy flees into the night, but Dimitri Bulakov was taping Foster's infidelity when he captured the homicide and flight. Whereas Bulakov's clients blackmail Foster over his affair, he blackmails them over the tape.

This is an exciting thriller in which failure to remain zippered may nuke the political and personal lives of Foster. Although the motive for Joy's murder seems over the top of the moraines, the strong cast and frantic pace from the opening bungalow invasion to the final confrontation with numerous subplots in between will leave readers enjoying this entertaining tale.

Refuge on Crescent Hill
Melanie Dobson
Kregel Publications
PO Box 2607, Grand Rapids, MI 49501
9780825425905, $13.99

Camden Bristow traveled the world for New York based Fount Magazine, but this time when she comes back to Manhattan from Indonesia, she learns the firm declared bankruptcy. Out of work, out money and soon out of her studio, Camden may be out of her head, but decides to rusticate at her grandma's house in Etherton, Ohio. Although she has not seen her grandmother in years, Camden knows she will receive the conquering hero's welcome home as she did the summer she spent there as a child.

In Etherton, Camden learns her grandmother recently died. Feeling remorse for failing to visit more often, Camden suffers further guilt to learn she inherited the dilapidated mansion. However, upon moving in, eerie things occur that lead her to believe someone else resides inside the mansion. She thinks back to her grandmother's tales of being a station on the Underground Railroad as the house contains secret passageways and hidden nooks to keep runaway slaves safe. Resident Alex Yates offers to help her renovate the mausoleum and investigate the eerie happenings. Attracted to the Buckeye, she accepts.

Mixing romance, a modern day mystery, rumors of ghosts and other paranormal activity, and an alleged hidden treasure, Melanie Dobson provides readers with a wonderful contemporary tale. Camden is terrific as she knows the only way for her to remain in small town Ohio after New York and the world is Alex. He has altruistic interests in making his town a better place to live and personal interests in the newcomer. However he doubts he can persuade the globetrotter to stay in Etherton. With an eccentric cast of all ages and maybe from beyond to cause havoc for the lead couple, readers will relish Refuge on Crescent Hill, a strong drama.

Moon Sworn
Keri Arthur
Dell Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780440245711, $7.99,

Hybrid werewolf-vampire Riley Jenson remains grieving the loss of her Guardian partner Kade and the death of her soulmate Kye Murphy who she killed (see Bound to Shadows). Riley believes it its time for her to quit her Guardian position before someone else close to her dies.

Helping her cope and much more are her brother Rhoan and her millennium old vampire lover. However even as she contemplates retirement with Quinn, she gets no respite from death as her fears of a loved one dying occurs. Someone blows up Quinn's car with the vampire inside his vehicle at the time of ignition. Riley ire explodes too, but when she regains consciousness, she has no idea who she is; at a time when a long feuding adversary stalks her and her loved ones.

The superb final Guardian urban fantasy saga ends with quite a bang that will please the fans of the series. Riley is terrific as goes through a myriad of emotions with no time to mourn her losses. The well written story line reads like two books as the beginning is grieving and more grief; the middle is amnesia; and the end is confrontation with those causing her grief (closing out the beginning). Readers will enjoy Riley's rousing last stand.

The Secret Confessions of Anne Shakespeare
Arliss Ryan
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451229953, $15.00,

In the year of our Lord 1623, the sexagenarian is dying. Her caring teenage granddaughter LizBeth is excited over the package that arrives for her beloved Gran. Inside is the published works of her husband who Ben Jonson insisted will be remembered forever. However, Gran remembers her bald headed Will a bit differently than his adoring fans.

When she was twenty-six years old, Anne Hathaway of Shottery met eighteen years old William Shakespeare. She fell in love with the younger man and helped him with his writings. Though most assume he had to marry her, she tells LizBeth he needed her. She further claims to have written some of the plays, but women cannot get credit and besides Will is selfish as most men of this age are even if the works are ageless. In fact when the son of a craftsman runs off with a troupe for London, she follows leaving their children with her parents. At his side, Anne helps Will write.

With a nod to Shakespeare in Love, this is a terrific biographical fiction with the twist of using expected Elizabethan Era gender roles (ironically with who rules) and the belief by some that the Bard did not write all of his backlist to provide a deep spin to the legend of Shakespeare. The story line transports readers back in time, but the fun in this wonderful historical is the lamination on some of the plays like Hamlet. Reader will enjoy The Secret Confessions of Anne Shakespeare as a different spin to the legend is wonderfully developed.

Phaedra Weldon
Ace Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780441018659, $15.00,

Zoe Martinique conceals from her mom and her friends the changes that occurred to her from her recent combat with the Phantasm (see Phantasm). She is unsure how anyone will react to her new skill of becoming a wraith that can traverse the abysmal plane, but also can take her body with her to this place where only the astral self travels. However, Zoe is not the only essence who knows of her new talent. Her adversarial mentor Archer is more than aware as he is instructing her; his motive is simple - he is linked to Zoe to the extent that if she dies so does he.

In Atlanta, at the same time Zoe is receiving an education, a malevolent being is targeting Revenant First Borns, who bonded with humans by draining their blood. Zoe wonders if someone has found and deployed the incantation that can kill First Borns and the Phantasm; and if so she considers the possibility that the spell within the Grimoire is what bonded with Dags' soul. She knows one truism: trust no one; albeit she hides her latest skill from family and friend.

The latest Martinique urban fantasy is a terrific entry in a fabulous series (see WRAITH and SPECTRE). As with the three previous tales, the story line is character driven predominantly by the beleaguered heroine although it is action-packed as well. Something is exhuming the blood of the First Borns and as much as Zoe would prefer to ignore it she cannot. Phaedra Weldon's latest Atlanta underground urban fantasy is a fantastic thriller.

Red Hot Fury
Kasey Mackenzie
9780441018925, $7.99

Like the other Fury Sisterhood members, Marissa "Riss" Holloway protects mortals from the others. For the last five years, Riss has been the Chief Magical Investigator in Boston.

When an arcane body corpse is found in Boston Harbor, she leads the official inquiry. Riss is shocked because the corpse is that of her Fury sister Ness, who was her best friend before their dispute ended all contact. Even more stunning to the cop is Ness' tattoos have been slightly magically modified. Riss notifies her superiors only to be suspended although she fails to comprehend why. Her theory is someone at the top of the leadership does not want a real homicide investigation. When an assassin tries to kill her, Riss asks her ex, shapeshifting Warhound Scott Murphy, to help her as she investigates the murder, the reason she was removed from the case and the attempt on her life that she believes is tied together with the only probable cause being someone is generating a cross-species war.

This exciting urban fantasy investigative thriller takes off once the uneven difficult to read introduction to the key players and a paranormal Boston are established. From that point readers obtain an enjoyable investigative thriller starring a kick butt heroine (the sub-genre is inundated with these tough females) who follows leads into the upper crust and cesspool communities resided by human and paranormal beings. Her efforts along side Murphy make Red Hot Fury an overall entertaining tale as Boston comes alive with the others because the heroine seeks vengeance for her former BFF and to prevent genocide.

Inhuman Resources
Jes Battis
9780441018840, $7.99

Someone brutally murders renowned necromancer Luiz Ordeno. Occult special investigator (OSI) Tess Corday and her OSI partner Derrick lead the official inquiry into the homicide in the victim's penthouse. The crime scene with its material (magical) locked room leads the two cops to conclude Ordeno knew his killer.

However, the case takes a spin that Tess would prefer not happen as clues lead to her lover, Lucian Agrado. Furthermore nothing makes sense about the gruesome killing including what Ordeno wore when he died. Lucian helps Tess take the investigation into the tight knit necromancer community. However, entrance does not necessarily include exit.

The third OSI police procedural urban fantasy (see A Flash of Hex and Night Child) is a super investigative thriller that grips the audience with a need to solve the case and to follow the heroine's personal life that intrudes on her work. Tess and Derrick struggle with the case that takes them to where no OSI operation wants to go: the political world while they also raise their VB-positive (vampire retrovirus) teen wards. Fans will wonder what is next for the OSI duet.

Terminal World
Alastair Reynolds
9780441018666, $26.95

The call to the Department of Hygiene and Public Works said a smear fell from above; the dispatcher sends Cultel and Gerber to clean up the probable faller. The pair arrives to see the victim possessed wings; the deceased is an angel who fell from way above in the Celestial levels to the Neon Heights sector of the city Spearpoint. They bring the freaky to Quillon the pathologist.

However, the angel is alive though dying. He was sent to Quillon by the quickest way: a fall from above to warn the only posthuman angel to turn into a prehuman that he is on the agenda from above and a shift is planned. Quillon leaves his home to cross zones in an unwelcoming world beyond Spearpoint for the posthuman will send something horrific to kill him. His contact Fray knows what he was and calls Quillon Cutter. He arranges for him to leave accompanied by Meroka the mercenary who would kill with out remorse any creature from above. They flee through a secret tunnel and on a train heading to the Boundary. Quillon fears a Zone Shift assaulting Spearpoint would kill much of the populace when technology fails. He has no hope to prevent it so prepares for the worst until the two escapees meet Ricasso, chief of the Swarm airship armada that patrols the arid tundra planet. However, as he understands their mission, his tiny flicker of faith seems ready to revert back to despair again.

This is a fascinating science fiction noir as each section of Spearpoint seems to represent an era based on the predominant technology; as you go up the levels, the more powerful the gizmos and the less human the residents. Once the former posthuman and the mercenary leave the city, the story line turns more into an exciting but typical futuristic sci fi thriller. Although radically different than Alastair Reynolds' House of Suns, fans will want to join Quillon's journey to save Spearpoint from his former comrades in the highest echelon.

The Fuller Memorandum
Charles Stross
9780441018673, $24.95

Needing to come in from the cold to update the paper work, demonologist Bob Howard is stunned when the top secret The Fuller Memorandum vanishes. As shocking, his dedicated boss Angleton, who could scare the sh*t out of God if there is one, also disappears at the same time. The management of Laundry assumes Angleton stole the highest classified dossier.

Bob knows he must go back into the field to find the missing Fuller memorandum and what happened to his boss. He soon runs into angry Russian espionage agents, even angrier demons, and the moronic cult followers of the Eater of Souls who if they raise the evil one they will learn life lesson 101 that when it comes to the malevolent; they owe no favors as they will dine on the followers before moving on to the rest of mankind.

The latest Laundry Files (see The Jennifer Morgue and The Atrocities Archives) is a terrific pull no punches paranormal espionage thriller as the action starts from the onset even with Howard musing about Jesus, Moses and the Dalai Lama in his usual irreverent scornful way. Fast-paced as Howard makes his inquires into the missing Fuller memorandum and his boss, and the lunatics who are trying to bring the end of the world to the world. Bod and Bourne never faced the adversaries Howard confronts; as he fears finding and not finding Angleton, and wants to avoid becoming the Eater of Souls' dessert.

Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill
Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765327079, $18.99,

The car accident killed her entire family; only teenage Spirit White survived. She has little time to grieve and barely enough to heal as she is informed she will live at Oakhurst Academy where she will attend school.

Spirit is shocked to find Oakhurst is a school for orphans with magical skills. They are being trained to fight in a war against an alleged evil. As she makes friends with Burke, Lachlan, Muirin and Adelaide, Spirit begins to question the accident that left her an orphan and the intentions of those running Oakhurst Academy when it comes to the students who have no parental protection.

Putting aside the obvious comparison to Potter, the first Shadow Grail teen fantasy is an exciting thriller in which the locale, creepy Oakhurst Academy brings the freshness with its foreboding sort of gothic ambience. Spirit is a terrific lead protagonist while the rest of her inner circle of BFFs comes out of the DC Teen Titan handbook. Still with a bit of romance, a lot of suspense and a young adult investigation into missing students, teenage fans will want to attend the dances at eerie Oakhurst Academy.

The Unincorporated War
Dani Kollin & Eytan Kollin.
9780765319005, $25.99

The Unincorporated Man Jason Cord led a rebellion against the tyranny of corporations that ruled the solar system. His revolt partially succeeded as the Outer Alliance broke free of the inner planets who remain mindlessly controlled by the corporations. Jason becomes the president of the OA, but knows he will never return to earth where he is an outlaw.

Fearing the rebellion widening and believing the outer planets are colonies, Earth dispatches its starship armada to destroy the breakaway alliance. Jason knows his side is in trouble as the enemy is much more powerful and feels remorse that he sends soldiers to die, but refuses to surrender. Instead he sends a counter force to battle the enemy's militia.

This sequel to the Unincorporated Man is a fast-paced military science fiction. With a lot more solar system space battles and much less political intrigue than its predecessor, The Unincorporated war is action-packed throughout, but lacks the nuances of extrapolating trends from today's corporate-political-judicial (since Citizen United decision) complex. Still this is a top rate outer space thriller.

Bird of the River
Kage Baker
9780765322968, $25.99

In spite of her pledge to her two offspring to lay off the drug, Falena could not resist smoking Yellow that has them wandering from town to town seeking either a diving gig or an uncle; though the latter has become infrequent as her looks have faded. Making her mom feel guilty, teen Eliss persuades Falena to dive so they can pay their bills although her mother insists she is too weak. Falena dies diving leaving Eliss filled with remorse and regret as well as caring for her ten year old half-brother Alder.

Eliss keeps them fed and somewhat sheltered by doing odd jobs on the river that took their mom. Eventually the Bird's crew begins to realize she is an asset as she warns them of potentially danger spots in the river like tree snags and pirates. Krelan, a minor assassin family's son her age, teaches her to read people who use masks and ruses to conceal their agendas. She assists him as he investigates the murder of a wealthy client starting with claiming the head.

Set in the world of The House of the Stag and The Anvil of the World, The Bird of The River is a great epic fantasy starring a wonderful heroine supported by the men in her life. The story line is filled with the activities of the long river as Eliss and her entourage meanders along while working on the mystery of the severed head, who the pirates are and what the captain is. Kage Baker, who died a few months ago, will please her myriad of devoted readers with this strong tribute to her talent.

Beyond 2012: The Omega Point
Whitley Strieber
9780765323347, $24.99

On December 21, 2012, the world anticipated the end that never came. However, while everyone sighs in relief, unbeknownst to humanity something critical occurred on that date, but was so tiny in its alpha entry into the vastness of the solar system it went undetected. A supernova occurred in a long ago universe's past has released energy into the solar system on December 21, 2012. Over the next few years as the energy travels towards the sun, it absorbs all in its path causing horrific solar storms on earth and leading to the wealthiest retreating underground.

In 2020 in West Virginia, Dr. David Ford becomes the Acton Clinic's chief psychiatrist. On his first day at work, Aubrey Denman explains that besides his medical role, he must defend the clinic's top secret mission to save the planet from the supernova energy assault from prosperous sinister adversaries especially the Seven Families who own the planet's wealth. When Denman dies in a car bomb explosion, Ford finally believes what she said although he struggles to understand what is going on. Trusting no one even his clinic peers, Ford learns that December 21, 2012 was the alpha and that the Omega Point when time ends for mankind is soonest.

This exhilarating sequel to 2012: The War for Souls is an action packed doomsday science fiction thriller that is fun to read when the storyline centers on the supernova extinction threat. When the plot expands beyond the doomsday countdown into biblical figures and similar observations, it loses some of its strength of the end is now. Ford is a strong lead character who feels incapable of what is expected of him, but knows he must do more than just try as the threat of annihilation is real. Sub-genre fans will relish Whitley Strieber's exciting tale while wondering throughout is mankind's reign over.

The Girls with Games of Blood
Alex Bledsoe
9780765323842, $14.99

He had survived for ages until 1915 when Baron Rudolfo Vladimir Zginski was staked through the heart. In 1975 pathologist Patricia Johnson withdraws the cross from the mummified corpse, which revives the dormant dead Continental vampire. In Memphis, when he meets some moronic young hippie vamps, he reluctantly takes the kids under his wings (see Blood Groove).

Mentoring vamps is not easy for a vowed misogynist; especially the push for gender and racial equality when he knows he is the superior breed due to his aristocratic heritage, sex and race, yet his sidekick is black Leonardo Jones. However, he has a new passion with the modern age and buys a 1973 Mustang from Zeb Crabtree while Jones wants to bite Zeb's daughter, Clora. At the Ringside Club Rudolfo owns, his waitress Fauvette meets undead singer Patience Bolade who like her estranged sister Prudence thrives without drinking blood. Zeb wants to bring the battling sisters past their civil war fight to the modern age as he wants to taste both Bolade babes; unaware how nasty a baseball bat can be when it strikes the head of even a vampire when the hitter swings for the fences.

Not for everyone as the Baron may be sophisticate and suave, but he also is a malicious racist, nasty sexist and arrogant elitist. Starting with the opening profound one word profanity at the bar the story line is filled with gore, action, and gore as the Baron goes after sisters of the blood in an entertaining but over the top of the Smokey Mountains historical vampire tale.

Discord's Apple
Carrie Vaughn
9780765325549, $23.99

With her dad Frank dying, Evie Walker leaves Los Angeles for his home In Hopes Font, Colorado, to take care of her father. She moves in with him, but is stunned by the attitude of the visitors who ignore her and barely greet her dad. They insolently enter the basement and leave with hardly a farewell salutation toting out strange junk. A comic book writer, Evie reflects on how the strangers are stranger than her characters.

In Troy, with the help of Odysseus, Sinon the "Liar" gets in the walled city. He persuades the doubting Trojans that Greeks gave up their siege and left behind a large wooden horse. His ruse enables the Greeks to win the war, but also angers Apollo with the dishonorable deception. He ignores Odysseus holding the Liar culpable. A furious Apollo kidnaps Sinon, forcing the Liar to become his cupbearer.

In Colorado, with the death of her dad, Evie takes over shielding the basement from those who have no business there. Hera orders Evie to give her the golden apple that causes discord and actually began the Trojan War though some say that the affront by Helen's stepfather to Aphrodite is where it began. Evie fears what the Goddess will do with Discord's Apple; her prime ally in refusing Hera is a stranger Alex, who conceals his agenda from the mortal he is falling in love with .

This is a wild super Rocky Mountains fantasy as Carrie Vaughn departs from her DJ werewolf novels to tell an intriguing epic adventure that includes a hodgepodge from Camelot, Greek mythology and even someone who claims to have known Jesus in his heyday. The cast is strong including the basement storage facility and the fascinating artifacts as Evie and readers learn that the victors write the mythos of history.

Imager's Intrigue
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
9780765325624, $27.99

Rhennthyl has come a long way since his time as an apprentice portrait artist when a fire unveiled his talent as an Imager. In L'Excelsis, Solidar he has become Captain, Third District of the Civil Patrol; Rhenn is also ranked as a Maitre D'Structure of Collegium Imago of Solidar; he has been married for five years to Sellora though they never sleep the night together due to his Imager nightmares that could burn down a room; and finally the pair has a delightful daughter Diestrya.

While war looms again between Ferrum and Jariola, an arsonist torched the grain warehouse of a Freeholder; the latest to be burned down almost all owned by Freeholders while High Holders seem suspiciously immune. Finally an explosion near Place D'Opera in the Second District left several dead including Factor Broussard D'Factorious and his family; who was the target of terrorists Workers for Justice. Commander Artois says be vigil. Rhenn is soon caught in the crosshairs as his work as an apprentice painter (see Imager) and as a liaison to the law (see Imager's Challenge) makes him a target from a powerful adversary. This enemy knows Rhenn's skills from their previous confrontations and needs to insure the Imaging Captain is neutralized to prevent his interference with a diabolical plot; killing him and his family is the only way to eliminate him.

The third Imager Portfolio is an exhilarating thriller that reads like a Victorian French fantasy, which stands alone, but is enhanced, by reading the previous two entries especially when the past comes home to roost. The story line is fast-paced while the locales are vivid; as expected from a former artist turned Imager. Readers will relish the latest entry as L.E. Modesitt, Jr. entertainingly ties the news together in a strong tale in which the hero knows he has come a long way, but learns how fast you can go in reverse.

A Devil in the Details
K.A. Stewart
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451463432, $7.99,

Jesse James Davidson has extraordinary fighting skills in the job he has chosen to do. Sometimes people make deals with a demon until they want to exchange for their souls and later decide the cost is too high. Jesse bets his soul that he can defeat the demon in a fight and so far he has won every bout. He got into the guardian profession when he risked his soul to rescue his younger brother.

His latest satisfied customer is the President of the United States. He gets a call from a potential client baseball giant Nelson Kidd who made a deal with a demon to restore his ability to be a champion baseball player. He took his team to the World Champions but now wants out of the deal. Jesse charges him a huge fee because he earns it to pay his medical bills from the fight with the demon. Two other champions Miguel and Guy have fallen off the radar an d it is assumed they died. Both called the same number before they vanished and both tried but failed to log on to the guardian database. It looks like something is killing the guardians but Jesse has no time to investigate because he has a demon to fight. He is also staying away from Axel the demon who wants his soul and who apparently is stalking him.

K.A. Stewart is a welcome addition to the urban fantasy writers with a strong opening entry. Told in the first person by the laconic hero in a sardonic witty voice, readers get to know Jesse up front and in person. Flawed and courageous, Jesse risks eternity to help those who cut demonic deals although by doing so he shortens his lifespan because one day he will lose a fight. A Devil in the Details is a dynamic debut.

Laura E. Reeve
9780451463449, $7.99

Ariane Kedros is not her real name, but she is a partner of Aether Exploration as well as a Reserve Major in the Consortium of Autonomous Worlds. The Terran Expansion League wants her dead as a war criminal who killed everyone residing inside the Ura-Guinn solar system. Her deadly effort ended the war and led to her new identity enhanced by modern technology.

Now she is considered a hero for saving G-145 by sending a temporal distortion weapon into N-space. The Minoans, the only other known sentient race, is to humans what humans are to horses. They know of her past and the speeded up metabolism that make her the perfect candidate to go to and explore the Builder's home world; none of them can perform the mission as it would kill them. Wanting to explore the world of another sentient race even one that faded into oblivion Ariane volunteers; that is if the implant proves compatible to her body. However, even in deepest space Ariane cannot elude her enemies as one still stalks her.

In the distant future, mankind has reached the stars, but instead of fighting over a dying ice aged earth, wars are in space and on populated planets. Fans of military science fiction will enjoy the Kedros saga though Pathfinder has fewer battles than previous entries (see Peacekeeper and Vigilante). Courageous yet filled with remorse for the outcome of killing a billion people doing her duty, Kedros still seeks redemption. Pathfinder may not provide that for her, but she hopes it allows her to run from her past of what is acceptable as espionage and civilian deaths if you are with the victors and war crimes if you lose. Though she has doubts re her war time action s, she raises the fairness issue of the grunts take the blame as "rotten apples" for atrocities while those who give the orders receive medals and promotions (think Abu Ghraib).

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

The Woman Who Married Herself
Donna Spector
Evening Street Press
7652 Sawmill Road, #352, Dublin, OH 43016-9296
0982010559, $15.00,

Donna Spector is a triple threat talent - successful playwright, poet published in many top journals, and novelist. Her work here is rich with meaning and metaphor, delightfully honest, human, nostalgic, poignant and humorous in turn. Through her words, Spector shares herself generously with readers. We meet long dead relatives captured in faded photographs and experience precious or sorrowful moments frozen in time. She tells her stories in three parts: The Same Shadows; Lovers and Other Dreams; and Lessons in the Mirror. The reading experience is exhilarating and sometimes harrowing.

In "My Father's Breakfast," for example, the poet watches her father eat his breakfast, concerned about his failing health after a heart attack. Her fear is revealed simply, beautifully:

It's just an egg, I said, just in case

the egg wouldn't keep him here,

but he smiled such sorrow at me, his only

child, that I began to understand

the fragile mystery of skin like a shell

holding, hiding

blood, thoughts, laughter and a thousand

terrors, unborn children.

Break us and love pours out,

or tiny prayers with their fingers crossed,

or hunger when our only father

has finally disappeared.

"Family Photos" is a long, luxurious poem, intimate revelations in sepia tones or black and white, starring players from Spector's past. This brief excerpt is the heart of the poet's musings:

How little life leaves us!

No definite lines, no

outlines. Nothing

that stays

bright, unstained

and here.

Spector's poetry is often lyrical, musical. Readers can see and feel the moment. One such poem is "A Current Invitation." I chose this excerpt as an example but you need to read this fine poem in its entirety:

Walk with me on this winter road

just as far as the turning where black

ice begins. Lilac buds sleep

in crystal blankets and the stiff swamp grass

rustles a brown lament.

I can't do justice to this exceptional work with a few random samples. This is a reading experience to be savored, as the rich broth of life should be. Highly recommended.

Simple Secrets

Book One of the Harmony Series
Nancy Mehl
Barbour Publishing, Inc.
P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville OH 44683
9781602605121, $12.99,

This first book in Nancy Mehl's latest Christian mystery series is a charmer. Somehow, she manages to pair the perfect characters with the ideal location, then bring them all to life with delightful results. Harmony, Kansas is as much a key character here as Gracie Temple, Mehl's latest series heroine.

Gracie Temple is a graphic designer at a mid-level advertising firm in Wichita, Kansas. She dreams of setting the design world on fire with her creations, but so far that has not happened. Still, Gracie loves her work, loves living in Wichita with all its noise and urban sprawl. When an uncle she never met dies and leaves his property to Gracie, a trip to the boonies is the last thing on her to-do list but she decides to visit Harmony out of curiosity. Her Uncle Benjamin had shunned his relatives since before Gracie's birth. Why? And why leave his property to a niece he'd never met?

Harmony turns out to be a picture perfect little Mennonite village full of happy, quirky people. Some live and dress plain in the Old Order Mennonite way. Others have assimilated modern amenities like TV, phones, and electricity into their lifestyle. The beauty of Benjamin's home and furnishings come as a pleasant surprise. The town folk are friendly and welcoming. On the surface, Harmony seems peaceful and idyllic, but under that perfect surface Gracie senses turmoil. Dark secrets, long hidden, come to light when Gracie finds a letter addressed to her from Uncle Benjamin. An evil man was murdered and buried on Benjamin's property decades ago, and he believed Gracie's father was the killer. She refuses to accept that supposition as fact and begins her own investigation into the past.

Who killed Jacob Glick, and why? Could it have been Sweetie Goodrich, Benjamin's hard faced, soft hearted neighbor? Why does Pastor Abel Mueller's wife go pale each time Jacob Glick's name is mentioned? And can Gracie trust Sweetie's nephew, Sam Goodrich, the roughly handsome fruit farmer? I followed all the hints and red herrings to the wrong conclusions and never did figure out the mystery until Ms. Mehl solved it for me.

Nancy Mehl is my favorite Christian mystery writer for valid reasons. Characters are interesting and complex. The location is intriguing and integral to the storyline. Dialog is realistic, narrative well-written and fast-paced. I eagerly anticipate Book Two of this series, Simple Deceit. Highly recommended to lovers of Christian mysteries or good story telling.

Friends in Deed
T.M. Hunter
Champagne Books
#35069--4604 37 St SW Calgary, AB Canada T3E 7C7
9781926681085 $13.95

My favorite sci fi hero is back! Aston West, the reluctant hero and space scavenger, seems like an old, dear friend to me. West is a little weary and worn around the edges. He enjoys draining a bottle of Vladirian liquor more than he should. His computer-voice companion, Jeanie, is West's only real friend. And he'd rather take the easy way around trouble than face it head on, but he's tough and tenacious when it counts. The memory of imprisonment on Lycus IV still haunts what little sleep he gets. His captors, the Gohr, were dimwitted but vicious and he barely escaped their planet alive. It's an experience he doesn't want to repeat.

West often thinks that his life is a shining example of bad timing so he isn't surprised when Lars and Elijah Cassus show up just in time to save him from attack by a Wasirian warship. The Cassus brothers escaped from Lycus IV with West, but they seem more like adversaries than friends and he doesn't trust them. Still, they saved his bacon so he accepts their invitation to share a meal and pleasant conversation. Big mistake!

Lars and Elijah have formed a brotherhood of space pirates and ask West to join them just long enough to rescue a female pirate from Lycus IV. This isn't simply a favor asked by old friends. West's star ship has been disabled and he's forced to join the motley gang of mercenaries in their raid on Lycus IV. The Cassus brothers have no intention of releasing West from their service. He's smitten with the female pirate, Leah, and no one leaves the Brotherhood alive. Not even friends.

Sci fi devotees will love the exciting battle action and West's skillful astrobatics as he fights to save Leah and himself from the Gohr and the double crossing Cassus brothers. For me, the real strength of this second book in a series is that T.M. Hunter makes the aliens, humans, and action so believable. I've never been a sci fi fan, but I love Aston West with all his strengths and foibles. Hunter accomplished gaining me as a die hard fan through his creation of believable characters, imaginative plots, and intriguing scenarios.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire
Aaron Summercale and Sverre Johnsen
9781906454180, $19.95,

The first moves foreshadow the rest of the game. "A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire: An Easy-to-learn Repertoire for the Chessboard Assassin" is a guide for chess rookies who want to play like the pros, and the first step for that is the first moves of the match. Discussing many opening strategies and what they can lead to, "A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire" is a highly recommended pick for any student of the game.

Reflections on the Gospel of Matthew
Maris McCrabb
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450202442, $21.95,

The scripture can occasionally be an intimidating thing. "Reflections on the Gospel of Matthew" is a guide for gaining a greater grasp and understanding of the scripture, primarily the gospel of Matthew. Dr. Maris McCrabb gives readers a sound collection of insight, which will help them spur their own Bible study. "Reflections on the Gospel of Matthew" is a choice and solidly recommended read that will prove invaluable to novice Bible students.

The Partnership
Steven J. Harper
Privately Published
c/o Public Relations
51 Christopher Street, Montclair, NJ 07042
9780984369102, $12.99,

When millions are on the line, the value of human life doesn't seem to be up for debate. "The Partnership" tells the story of the high end business world as former friends Albert Knight and Ronald Ratkin find themselves as opponents in legal battles as business prospers and huge piles of money are on the line, as the respect for the law quickly fades. "The Partnership" is an exciting thriller, highly recommended.

Residential Remodeling Cost Estimator 2010 Edition
Bill O'Donnell
Remodel MAX
PO Box 3612, Frederick, MD 21705
Craftsman Book Company (distributor)
6058 Corte del Cedro, Carlsbad, CA 92009
9780578047829, $49.95,

The "Residential Remodeling Cost Estimator 2010 Edition", expertly compiled and deftly edited by Bill' O'Donnell', is a 260-page compendium of labor and material costs specifically focused on residential remodeling. With modifiers for more than three hundred cities, "Residential Remodeling Cost Estimator 2010 Edition" will enable homeowners, architects, and contractors to save time, money and effort in developing a financial prospectus for home remodeling jobs. "Residential Remodeling Cost Estimator 2010 Edition" even lists the man-hours associated for the various categories of remodeling tasks. Thoroughly 'user friendly' and up-to-date, "Residential Remodeling Cost Estimator 2010 Edition" is a very highly recommended addition to professional remodeling project reference collections.

Show And Tell
Julie Ault, editor
Four Corners Books
56 Artillery Lane, London E1 7LS
9780956192813, $35.00,

'Group Material' was a group of artists who banded together in 1979 to open a storefront on the Lower East Side of New York for the purpose of creating exhibitions showcasing art and artifacts focused on topical social issues. Produced with an eclectic esthetic, the themes of these exhibitions ranged from an 'AIDS Timeline' to collections of everyday objects under the banner of 'The People's Choice'. Now the history of this group effort is superbly presented and profusely illustrated in "Show & Tell: A Chronicle of Group Material" expertly compiled and deftly edited by artist and author Julie Ault detailing this remarkable and memorable group effort that lasted from 1979 to 1996. A unique history of an equally unique group of diverse artists, "Show & Tell: A Chronicle of Group Material" is informed, informative, and highly recommended for personal and academic library 20th Century American Art History reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

Murder in the Garden District
Greg Herren
Alyson Books
245 West 17th Street, Suite 1200, New York, NY 10011
9781593501051, $14.95,

Greg Herren is an award winning mystery writer. He's published four Chanse MacLeod mysteries, and a total of ten novels. His MURDER IN THE RUE CHARTRES garnered the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Men's mystery. He co-edited LOVE, BOURBON: Reflections of New Orleans, among other anthologies.

Chanse MacLeod is a New Orleans private eye. He lives in a gorgeous apartment, thanks to his friendship and working relationship with one Barbara Castlemaine. Barbara calls him in and pressures him to take a murder case for Cordelia Spencer Sheehan, one of Louisiana's most beloved, richest, and vindictive women. The Sheehans lived in a world of their own, unfazed by the rules most people live by. So when Cordelia's son is found murdered, and she took a shot from the murder weapon after finding his body, Chanse knows he is in for it. Particularly when Cordelia orders a "hands off" order to Chanse's investigation, which presupposes the "round up the usual suspects" approach:

"'Let me make myself clear, Mr. MacLeod,' she said contemptuously. 'As long as there is breath in my body, no one named Sheehan will go to prison for anything. No matter what I might think of her and what she has done, my daughter-in-law is a member of my family, and I will do everything in my power to ensure that she does not spend a single night behind bars for her crime-no matter how much I would enjoy seeing that happen. And I am not about to be painted as a murderer in a court of law to save her. My son had plenty of enemies. I want you to look outside my family. Is that clear?'"

Naturally, being an ex-cop, that is exactly where Chanse begins. Thus launches a tale of New Orleans politics; subterfuge; danger; and all that mystifies the rest of the country about New Orleans itself. Throw in a good dose of family dysfunction and Chanse's charm as a private investigator, and you have one heckuva good read.

MURDER IN THE GARDEN DISTRICT wins the reader over completely to the world of Chanse MacLeod. It ranks up with all the great movies and books about New Orleans, and should be a must read on any mystery buff's summer reading list.

Shelley Glodowski

Shirley's Bookshelf

Finding Jeena
Miralee Ferrell
Kregel Publication
PO Box 2607, Grand Rapids, MI 49501
9780825426452, $12.95,

This book is about the sassy, self centered, egotistically character who was friends with Susanne in our author's book, "The Other Daughter." This character reminded me of my daughter and the life lessons that she has had to endure, and I believe other mother's will feel this way as well.

You get to journey with this young lady as she goes through the roughest of times including emotional trials, relationship issues and financial stresses. She makes new friends in unlikely places and through much tribulation discovers who she really is.

Miralee Ferrell is an exceptional author who has again brought us a great read. This book has a little different writing style from our author than we saw in "The Other Daughter." I believe she is stretching her wings and doing a fine job at flying. "Finding Jeena", is a story from the heart for the heart, a story of living and learning that you just will not be able to put down. Well done Ms. Ferrell. I look forward to your future works.

Revenge Served Cold
Jackie Fullerton
Thomas House Publishing
869 Maebelle Way, Westerville, OH 43081
9780984381500, $8.99,

Kathy Spence is in trouble, but her heart was already wounded before she became the primary suspect to her own husband dying. Could things get any worse for Kathy, or for Anne, who she has turned to for help. Perhaps Anne is a little different than most people, not everyone sees dead people, but Anne maybe Kathy's only hope before it is too late. What a read!

I enjoyed this book. I liked how the author built her characters personalities and background, giving just enough information to keep you on tract and building suspense as you read along.
There were a lot of loops in the story, and that is a good thing, not boring but giving you some whacks, if you will, along the way to waken you to what is taking place. It is a fast paced read, but not to the point where you get lost. This is of course a mystery read, suspenseful and packed with action, but it is also one that brims with emotions in many other areas of the characters that the author has tied into the storyline with exceptional skill. That made the story more alive.
All in all a very good read and one I am proud to recommend.

Share from the Heart
Story & Illustrations: Marilyn Randall
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781450041928, $15.95,

As we begin our story we meet two brothers who have no one but each other in the world. They are very close, share everything and cling to one another. One day while they are on a walk in the woods they see a very scary red toothed dragon hiding behind a tree. They are very, very afraid thinking the dragon will eat them, but something very surprising happens and they find out that the dragon has a very different idea of what he would like to happen.

I don't want to give away the story so I will say this is a tale showing several things. One is that everything is not always the way it may first appear and that we should not be so quick to jump to conclusions. The second is one of love and acceptance. In this story all who read it will have an awakening, a time of stopping and re-thinking of the many times that they could have made a difference in another's life by not judging so quickly the person or the circumstances. And a reminder to not judge so quickly in the future.

I liked this book. I enjoyed the colorful illustrations and felt the lesson of kindness and understanding, acceptance and love that flows through from the pages is a wonderful positive example for all. Recommended.

The Meal
Brian D. McClure, author
Buddy Plumlee, illustrator
Universal Flag Publishing
PO Box 4354, Lisle, IL 60532
9781933426044, $14.95,

As we begin our story, we find the Smith children not very happy with their evening meal. They hate salad and they hate fish and when they grow up they are never going to eat it again, until they learn the secret. What is the secret? Ah! This delightful book takes you on a journey to some of our food sources and how they came to be, all of nature joining together to produce food for you and for me. It tells of the energy that is part of our lives and the purpose it plays to bring harmony in life.

Our author presents the meal as the grand finale where all of the hard work of nature finally ends up on our dinner plates to sustain our life. It is told in wonderful rhyme, colorful illustrations and extreme care has been taken to help children and adults to understand that nature carefully illustrates it's abundance in its time producing what is needed to continue on .
This is a beautiful book in all ways, bringing nature and humans together and showing the need to be thankful for all things within our universe, as we all truly are one. Recommended.

The Devil's Day Off
Bryant Arnold
Box #185, Haines City, FL 33844
0744306000, $5.98,

In this delightful read we find the Devil doing something he never does, taking a day off.
He chooses several people to interact with during this time. One, a woman, Arlene, he has a special interest in, something you never would imagine the Devil would have. What is that? You'll have to read the book to find out, but it truly is surprising, especially for the Devil.Peter, a hit man, Mario, a runner and our main star, Harry, a lawyer, whom the Devil seems to love to confuse. What a crew.

I found this book to be very entertaining. I liked the way the author drew up his characters and gave insight into their lives and the situations they were in,and how the devil played upon their fears and desires. The interaction between the devil and the characters swayed you back and forth at first and you are left wondering where all the pieces would fit in. However, the author pulls it all together in a bang-up ending that will surprise you. This was a very enjoyable read. Different and that is always refreshing.

The Science of Life After Death
Stephen Hawley Martin
The Oaklea Press
6912 Three Chope Road, Suite B, Richmond, Virginia 23226
978892538529, $16.95,

I truly enjoy reading and reviewing any books that confirm there is indeed life after death.In my humble opinion, there definitely is life after death. I always enjoy it when I have in my hands a book that shows me the studies that science is working on in that area, such is this book. Inside the pages we find study after study of researchers and their findings on awareness of life, after the body is declared dead. These studies have been conducted in universities throughout the world.

I have to say, I do not agree with all that was written within the confines of this book, but I found the scientific information informative and interesting, and feel that the author does an excellent job in bringing to light the findings of the many research experiments done.

There is quite a bit written about Reincarnation, information on what is called, Stuck Souls, and Exorcisms. Remote Viewing and ESP are also covered and the theory of One Mind. Basically the book touches on many topics surrounding life after death and you are given the details of where and when this research occurred. You are also given actual experiences from those who have encountered such things.

I found this to be an interesting book and read it for what it is called, "The Science of Life After Death. I'm pretty sure after reading this book, no matter what your belief system is, you will believe there is life after death, or at least give it some serious thought. And that should certainly charge the way we all live.

Web of Deceit
Darlene Cox
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd, Parker, CO 80134
9781432746148, $16.95,

There are times in life when you meet certain people and wonder how they became what they have. You often wonder did their childhood have a bearing on their outcome? In this story with our main character, Peter Brock, it certainly did. Growing up in a foreign country to very poor parents Peter was not ready for the ridicule he would face from the more well to do children when his family moved to America. Peter decided at a very young age that he would overcome all challenges and be a winner. Unfortunately for Peter his web of deceit and his plot for final victory would not turn out the way he hoped it would. Peter never factored in the cunning of others and so the story begins and ends.

I enjoyed this book. Our author definitely has a way of drawing the reader into the entire risky world of our main character. I found that even though Peter was a man who was cunning and deceptive, underneath he had a tenderness that he would not allow to show, yet you sensed there was more to Peter than meets the eye. The author brings this out and to me the ending was excellent, yet be it sad. This book keeps you rolling along with a tight story of one man who put it all on the line and fell by the wayside. Well done, a very good read.

Bug Goes Through The Maze
K.M. Groshek
Creatively Canny
Madison WI 53719
9780984352128, $13.95,

The first thing I noticed as I opened this book was the bold pictures and script. I loved it. This is wonderful for the young reader. The pictures draw you completely into the story and it is very good for the child to see the words so clearly, even if they cannot read them. Great start.
In this tale Bug decides he is going to explore a cornfield and soon learned it was called a maze.
He would have to really think and make decisions to make his way through it.

Inside the maze he comes across different obstacles. has a little bit of fear, but soon overcomes and finds his way to the exit. What an exciting trip for Bug, and for the reader. This is a very nice book with a story that will encourage children to try something even if they are a little afraid. It will give them encouragement to take a step beyond what they think they can do. Nice book.

Bug Meets His Friend
K. M. Groshek
Creatively Canny
Madison WI 53719
9780984352111, $13.95,

In this adventure Bug has a whole day to have fun, but he isn't sure what to do. He has two choices. He can go to the park to play or the track to race around. What should he do?
Bug is happy to see his friend Cooper riding up and knows that he will help him make the decision, and even have fun with him. Bug is excited.

Again we find a bold and colorful book in "Bug Meets His Friend." The illustrations are bright, clear and will definitely catch a child's eye. Words are also bold and the story allows the child to see how important a friend can be in their lives in not only a play mode, but in a decision making mode. Very well done. Recommended.

Bug's Trip To The Store
K.M. Groshek
Creatively Canny
Madison WI 53719
9780984352135, $13.95,

In this adorable tale we meet, Bug, who has to go to the store to buy gas, but he is a little bit afraid. It is a long way for him to go and during his trip he encounters a few scary obstacles, like a big semi that is just a little bit too close. However, Bug musters up his courage and finds that he can accomplish what he has set out to do.

Told in rhythm this story will be embraced by all children, as they all each day must strive with new tasks that they may feel they cannot do. This tale will help them to see that with a little courage they can move forward and overcome. I liked this book, again the illustrations were bold and colorful and it left you with a feeling of achievement for Bug as he did not give up, that can be used in the lives of the reader. Well done.

Just For Fun
Barbara Bryan
Outskirts Press
10940 Parker Rd, Parker CO 80134
9781432742935, $18.95,

I am always happy to see any book that gives children exposure to rhyme and this one does a beautiful job. Inside the pages of this work we find a collection of poems with many main topics such as: The Ocean, A Winter Day, Fourth of July, and My Cats, just to name a few. There are twelve in all. Each one is presented with a colorful illustration, bright and alive, that associate with the poem.

I feel it is important for us to educate our children in the art of poetry. This book is a fun book, one that they will enjoy reading and sharing and will hopefully walk away with a few rhymes in this own mind about the world they live in. Well done.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Average Doug
Doug Kammerer
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440189524, $13.95,

There are millions of ways to fix America, but none seem to be put into play. "Average Doug: My Take on America: From Politics and Government to Society" is a collection of thoughts and opinions on many of America' current issues from Douglas Kammerer, presenting his own ideas on how to improve America, presenting his views on everything from the Fairness Doctrine to the input of organizations such as GLAAD. "Average Doug" is an insightful and opinionated read, worth considering.

Move on with Parkinson's
Michael Stanfield
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
9780557064991, $16.96,

Parkinson's disease is a life changing ailment. "Move On with Parkinson's: An Inspiring True Story As Told By a PD Patient" is a memoir form Michael Stanfield as he offers his own experiences and hope for readers who want to best deal with the challenges that Parkinson's disease inflicts on its sufferers. Uplifting and poignant, "Move On with Parkinson's" is not a read to be missed.

Twenty Keys to Attracting Women
Christopher Ruiz
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432753030, $15.95,

Finding that woman is easier than one would think. "Twenty Keys to Attracting Women: A Self-Help Guide to Bettering Your Life and Attracting Women Effectively" is a guide for men to make themselves more attractive bachelors and better candidates for love. From going to the right place, picking up hints, manners, good communication, and landing the first date, "Twenty Keys to Attracting Women" is a choice pick for anyone trying to get off on the right foot with women.

Power of Vitamin D
Sarfraz Zaidi
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432748104, $15.95,

The human body needs certain things to function properly, and all too often we come up short in providing it. "Power of Vitamin D" discusses Vitamin D and how many people are not getting enough of it, which can result in quite the assortment of health problems: aches, pains, fatigue, and the exacerbation of other illnesses. Encouraging readers to treat their own deficiency, "Power of Vitamin D" is a worthwhile addition for health collections.

Backyard Power and Light Company
Daniel White
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449066048, $31.25,

What's the hold up in adopting a cleaner, renewable energy source for America? "Backyard Power and Light Company" discusses what's preventing renewable energy from taking hold while encouraging investors to encourage renewable energy by sending it that way. Daniel White brings his own findings and discusses how and why they were ignored by the media, and comes with many poignant thoughts on the matter. "Backyard Power and Light Company" is a choice pick for those looking for another voice in the energy debate.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

White Masks
Elias Khoury
Archipelago Books
232 Third St., #A111, Brooklyn, NY 11215
9780981987323, $22.00,

Justice and the law are handled differently in many places in the world. "White Masks" tells of a murder in Lebanon and how this event shakes the lives of everyone involved. A journalist searches for the truth, and in the search, something much deeper is found, as author Elias Khoury tells a take if Kebanon, masterfully translated from the original Arabic by Maia Tabet. For those seeking a modern Arabic novel, "White Masks" will serve that purpose well.

Put Your Game Together
Donnie Howell
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440193453, $16.95,

A positive athletic experience can change everything for young people. "Put Your Game Together: Ethical Management in Youth Sports and Business" discusses the power of youth sports as Donnie Howell draws on his own experiences and uses those to demonstrate how these programs should be lead to give children the uplifting motivation they need in their lives. "Put Your Game Together" is a choice pick for any youth coach who wants to make a positive impact in their children's lives.

Remember the Heights
Melanie E. Lowry
127 E Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064-4421
9781606963302, $14.99,

Today's world seems as godless as ever, but God hasn't left, he's just being forgotten. "Remember the Heights: Praying with God from the Sixth Day of Creation" is a faith driven collection of writings reminding readers that Christ hasn't left them, but instead they have to look inside themselves to find God and embrace him in today's world. "Remember the Heights" is an inspiring work of faith that will help Christians remember their faith.

The Church of Jezebel
Derik R. Girdwood
Outskirts Press
75 N. Main, Mt. Clemens, MI 48043
9781432752668, $14.95,

Faith has a unique way of working in helping people find the truth. "The Church of Jezebel: Hijacking the Gospel" tells the story of Christina, a young woman who is faced with finding the truth regarding the death of her friend Becky. A whirlwind journey brings her to the truth and to a greater place in faith. Lined with scripture and a powerful message, "The Church of Jezebel" is a fine Christian novel, highly recommended.

Making the Hook-Up
Cole Riley, editor
Cleis Press
2246 Sixth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781573443838, $14.95,

Sexuality is raw, primal, and can speak of much that words won't allow to be said. "Making the Hook-Up: Edgy Sex with Soul" is a collection of stories edited by Cole Riley as he presents many stories of black sexuality, showing raw emotion and thought in its many forms, as the writings range from passionate to erotica and everything in between. "Making the Hook Up" is a choice addition to any collection focusing on black sexuality.

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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