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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 5, Number 6 June 2006 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

Priority Parenting
Steve Ganger
Herald Press
616 Walmnute Avenue, Scottsdale, PA 15683-1999
0836193318 $9.99

Very highly recommended reading for Christian parents regardless of their denominational affiliation, Priority Parenting: Reclaiming Your Home For Heaven's Sake by Steve Ganger is an informed and informative introduction and guide for properly instilling a religious influence into family life. Creatively presenting a multitude of strategies and escapes from the often tedious and distraction prone task of parenting, Priority Parenting offers readers insightful information for what family oriented activities may help to validate a more graceful and spiritually healthy marriage which is not only good for parents, but as well for the children. Priority Parenting provides an invaluable understanding and sensitive approach to parenting and marriage for all practicing Christians.

Servant of the Gods
Amy Wolff Sorter
Amber Quill Press
PO Box 50251, Bellevue, WA 98015
1592797709 $16.00

Servant of the Gods is a historical fiction novel that brings to life the events of the Song of Deborah, the Biblical story of how Deborah and Barak led an army to defeat the Canaanites and lay claim to Israel. Written to give the reader a closer insight into the life of Deborah herself, Servant of the Gods follows her from her birthright as a Canaanite priestess to her role as a female leader in a patriarchal society. A profound tale, with gripping dialogue and a firm grounding in scripture.

Beyond The Lie
Alice Smith
Bethany House Publishers
c/o Baker Publishing Group
PO Box, 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516
076420176X $14.99

Highly recommended reading, Beyond The Lie: Finding Freedom From The Past by Alice Smith is an outstanding guide for Christians caught up in terrifying feelings of shame and distrust, and who are searching for an escape to a personal world less susceptible to the all consuming evils promoted by the broader culture of the world today. Providing an informed and informative mapping of the proper pathway to a spirituality healthier lifestyle, Beyond The Lie helps the reader to avoid being victimized or otherwise lapse into behaviors that would disgrace themselves and their families. Above all else, Beyond The Lie gratefully speaks to Christian readers of the glorious sacred love of Christ redeeming them from the bonds of their past, the temptations of the present, and the promise of the future.

You, Me And Who?
Emily Parke Chase
Kindred Productions
1310 Taylor Avenue, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, R3M 3Z6
1894791088 $8.99 1-800-545-7322

You, Me And Who?: Five-Minute Devotional For You And Your Date by Emily Parke Chase is a collection of succinct commentaries on retaining a love for Jesus and other applicable issues on the subject of teenage dating. Providing instructive guidelines founded in the ideals of Christian conduct for scenarios and situations commonly encountered by teens, You, Me And Who? carries its readers through discussion questions, creative date ideas, prayers, and so much more. Devoted to helping teens through the intricacies, responsibilities, and temptations involved in the complicated world of dating, You, Me And Who? is very highly recommended for all adolescent readers regardless of their denominational affiliation.

At Home In The World
Margaret Guenther
Seabury Books
445 - 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10016
1596270268 $16.00

At Home In The World: A Rule Of Life For The Rest Of Us by Margaret Guenther (Associate Rector, St. Columba's Episcopal Church, Washington, D.C.) offers insights into living our lives while in the midst of our personal quest for God. A compilation of lively advice and heart-felt wisdom on living for the Lord applicable to singles, couples, parents, extended families, members of churches, professionals and laborers, homemakers and students, At Home In The World draws upon ancient and contemporary sources of revealed knowledge and experience-based wisdom on such issues as poverty, chastity, obedience, authority, money, pleasure, power, friends, enemies, hard times, and more. A welcome addition to any Christian Studies supplemental reading list regardless of denominational affiliation, At Home In The World is thoughtful, thought-provoking, inspirational, motivational, and recommended reading.

Roses In December
Marilyn Willett Heavilin
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402
0736917799 $10.99 1-877-307-0662

Roses In December: Comfort For The Grieving Heart by Marilyn Willett Heavilin presents readers with a thoughtful and thought-provoking understanding of God and the remarkable empathy and healing power of God's comfort. Providing an expansive introduction to the living grace of God for those who grieve the loss of a loved one, Roses In December presents readers with a comprehensive and easy-to-follow mapping of God and the special attributions of such an accepting deity. Roses In December is very strongly recommended for all readers hoping for an accessible guide to a more spiritual response to the inevitable disappointments of marriage, sibling conflicts, familial disputes, as well as support and understanding the grieving process brought on by personal tragedy or the death of loved ones.

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

Steal Away
Hugh Poland
Judson Press
PO Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482
0817014918 $13.00

Steal Away: Devotions For Baseball Fans by Hugh Poland is a unique and remarkable collection of baseball feats and facts with a deftly intertwined understanding of Jesus and the scriptures. Introducing readers to an interwoven interpretation of America's favorite game and the basic tenants of Christianity, Steal Away provides readers with an uncompromising wisdom of the baseball's spiritual implications and reveals biblical lessons taught by both the ball game and sacred scriptures. Thoughtful and thought-provoking, Steal Away is very highly recommended reading for all Christian baseball fans.

Hell's Abyss Heaven's Grace
Lawrence D. Hart
Cowley Publications
4 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
1561012416 $14.95 1-800-225-1534

Written by an Episcopal priest, Hell's Abyss Heaven's Grace: War and Christian Spirituality is a strident call to the power of nonviolent resistance, rather than war, to change the world. Scrutinizing "Just War" theory as well as America's tainted history of war, conquest, international theft and exploitation, Hell's Abyss Heaven's Grace calls upon the need Christians have to live in accordance with the Gospel. Looking to images of Christian leaders around the world who apply nonviolence methods to resist, Hell's Abyss Heaven's Grace embraces the weapons of truth, courage and faith as paramount virtues in keeping with God's law. Highly recommended.

Michael Dunford

Klausner's Bookshelf

The Banners of Alba
Jen Black
ISBN: 1594313261, $17.95

In 1034, the nephew of King Malcolm of Alba and the heir apparent to his throne Daveth mac Finlay is loyal to his monarch; he is also one of the best, if not the best, field commanders. However, Finlay is stunned to learn his fealty is abused as Malcolm has chosen his grandson Prince Duncan to one day replace him as ruler of Alba. On top of that affront, Malcolm has married Finlay's beloved Kilda to his cousin Gille. Angry, Finlay flees for nearby Orkney ruled by his friend the Overlord Thorfinn and his intelligent independent sister Ratagan. Thorfinn has plans to seize the Alba throne and wants Finlay's support. Though still outraged by his uncle's duplicity, he is wary of the harm that civil war would cause on the innocent peasant population. As Finlay falls in love with the feisty Ratagan, he questions his judgment while two major sets of conspiracies engulf him. Finlay is the key for if he chooses war Thorfinn might succeed; if he selects peace Duncan inherits. Digging deep inside his troubled soul, he realizes he has not stripped honor from his heart honor; Finlay decides he will travel the honorable path for what he deems the good of Alba. Though there is a major romantic subplot, THE BANNERS OF ALBA is more a magnificent medieval fiction that brings to life the twelfth century through the power struggles. Readers will appreciate the internal dilemma confronting the hero as he must choose between two paths filled with deceit. Symbolically the two women in Finlay's life represent the choices he has. As the champion learns that picking what he deems is good for Alba is not necessarily good for him, readers obtain an exhilarating historical thriller starring a hero worth rooting for.

The Cottagers
Marshall N. Klimasewiski
ISBN: 0393060772, $24.95

Nineteen years old unemployed Cyrus Collingwood lives year round in East Sooke on Vancouver Island. He detests the summer rentals though the hot weather invaders are the prime source of income for the locals. Cyrus enjoys being a peeping tom spying on the temporary newcomers and in brazen moments loves to assault their rentals though besides scaring ten years off their lives, he normally does not harm them. This summer he obsesses over two families; married Brooklyn couple Samina and Nicholas and their three-year-old daughter Hilda; and their St. Louis friends Laurel and Greg. He pretends to be their friend by showing them the hidden highlights of the island. However, the brilliant teen reads his guests quite nicely as he realizes there is an undercurrent professional rivalry and resentment between the historian Nicholas, the biographer Greg, and the English professor Laurel as well as realizing Greg is a womanizer. The exotic looking Samina is the one that attracts Cyrus as she does not fit with the others and he fails to psychology profile her. When Nicholas fails to return from a walk, accusations fly everywhere encouraged by sly Cyrus who knows what happened on the solitary beach. The concept that the masks people wear in relationships change when the dynamics between individuals alter which can be caused by an outside party is proven in this tale. The story line is fascinating though the action is limited and the key characters never seem fully developed. Relationship drama fans will appreciate the hypothesis driven plot that unmasks visage armor, but fails to go deep into the psyche of the island visitors or even Cyrus.

The Destiny Mask
Martin Sketchley
ISBN: 1591024390, $15.00

Then Military Intelligence Officer Alexander Delgado failed to complete his escort mission intended to forge an alliance between Earth's dictator General William Myson and the Seriattic Royal Household. Instead royal child-bearer Vourniass Lycern became Alexander's lover and gave birth to his twin sons (see THE AFFINITY TRAP). The boys were separated with Myson raising Michael while Delgado, an outlawed insurgent considered a terrorist raising Cascari. Two decades later Michael and Cascari each believes they are the legal heir to the Monosiell head of Seriatt's Royal Household. The current Monosiell, Delgado and Myson push to place their "son" in the position of power that would make the dictator invincible or insure that the terrorist has a real chance at success in the struggle between them. Neither Michael nor Cascari know that they are siblings let alone twins. Meanwhile besides the strategic importance of the Seriatts' location near the M4 wormhole, the royals believe they are on the verge of a time travel breakthrough that will change the balance of power through THE DESTINY MASK. Delgado and Myson want ownership. This sequel is an exciting science fiction thriller that can be read without perusing the previous novel (THE AFFINITY TRAP) though the experience is enhanced with back to back reads as that explains the heated rivalry between the antagonists. The story line is action-packed and incredibly fast-paced (no time outs) but somehow driven by the enmity between Myson and Delgado as nurtured by them as part of their imprint on their respective sons. However what makes the tale real is the terrorists are disorganized and badly trained as they are under constant pressure by the more powerful dictatorship. Readers will appreciate this strong military sci fi thriller.

Twisted Tales
Brandon Massey
ISBN: 0758213530, $6.99

The "them" starring in this interesting collection are abusive individuals paying the piper for odious deeds towards others. Each tale is well written with realistic characters whether they are victim or culprit throughout the anthology. However, upon reading fourteen tales with the identical twisted theme of an abuser (even disguised as a doppelganger grandmother or a hitchhiker) getting their due, the compilation runs thin. Still read a few at a time over a period, as these entries will grip readers who root for the underdog to rise. Especially strong is The Sting and The Hitcher (think of the movie), which the audience will have to reread several times because they are so good. Brandon Massey provides a strong fascinating series of character studies that star twisted protagonists and the victims often submissives they afflict.

Brad Thor
ISBN: 0743271181, $25.00

Bypassing government channels and working with Canadian Black Op Agents who want Al-Qaeda terrorist Sayed Jamal in American hands, counterterrorist agent Scott Horvath sneaks the killer across the border and gives him to a waiting team. At the same time Al-Qaeda weapon's expert Mohammed bin Mohammed who vanished two days before 9/11 is kidnapped from his Somalian residence. Mohamed is preparing to buy nuclear material that a contact will only sell to him; the Americans want the material and those involved. The Al-Qaeda leadership seeks Mohammed because he is there only member who can put the nukes together. A daring plan is implemented when the terrorists learn where the Americans are holding Mohammed. They blow up the tunnels and bridge effectively closing Manhattan to all traffic, disable the subway system and use missiles to keep boats and helicopters from leaving or entering. They search the city for Mohamed while Scott who was in town visiting a pal, chases after the terrorists with a group of ex-agents to help him. What makes TAKEDOWN an exciting yet frightening thriller is that the tale seems plausible after the events of 9/11. Readers will picture what Brad Thor describes happens in Manhattan and then see a city quickly dissolve into chaos, death, and destruction. The protagonist is a patriotic warrior risking his life to stop his country's enemies. Mr. Thor is a terrific thriller writer and fans of Dan Brown and Thomas Harris will want to read his latest masterpiece.

Married to a Stranger
Patricia MacDonald
ISBN: 0743269551, $24.00

Psychologist Emma Hollis works at the Wrightman Youth Crisis Center whose director Dr. Burke Hunter married her best friend Natalie. However diagnosed as bi-polar, Natalie committed suicide. Emma is hesitant to have Burke serve as her fiance's best man at their small wedding in a few days. Burke insists on facing it because David is a close friend and he introduced the couple to each other. Following the nuptials, David and Emma head to a secluded cabin in the New Jersey woods for a honeymoon. On their first day, David vanishes while outside chopping wood and a masked man tries to kill the pregnant Emma. A hunter hears Emma's screams; rushes over to help but the intruder kills the Good Samaritan with David's abandoned ax. Emma takes the hunter's weapon and the attacker flees just before David reappears. The police think David is trying to kill her especially when she is almost thrown off at a train station; even Emma begins to wonder about her spouse. Fans of Mary Higgins Clark and Nancy Taylor Rosenberg will find MARRIED TO A STRANGER a mesmerizing reading experience. Although the audience will agree with Emma and the cops that David is the prime suspect, others could also be the culprit. As with Hitchcock's terrific Suspicion, readers will wonder until the very end whether David wants his wife dead. Patricia MacDonald is one of the top suspense writers of the past few years (see THE GIRL NEXT DOOR).

The Days of Summer
Jill Barnett
ISBN: 0671035355, $24.95

In 1957 in Los Angeles, oil heir Rudy Banning and his artist wife Rachel drink too much before driving their vehicle head on into a car containing singer Jimmy Peyton and his manager. All four die in the car accident. The Banning children Jud and Cale move into the home of their ruthless grandfather, a coldhearted affluent business mogul; Peyton's daughter Laurel remains with her devastated mother, his widow Kathryn. Thirteen years later on Catalina Island, Laurel and Cale meet and fall in love. However, his grandfather forces Cale to choose between Laurel and medical school; he selects becoming a doctor. Laurel soon meets Cale's brother Jud and feelings grow between them while Cale is off at school. Over the next three decades Cale holds grudges against his brother and the one woman he loved. Now the trio meet once again as Jud begins to court Laurel who turns to cardiologist Cale for heart surgery. THE DAYS OF SUMMER is a fascinating relationship drama that follows the lives over several decades of two brothers and the woman they both desire connected initially by tragedy. The story line is a sudsy soap opera especially during the present era subplot and to a lesser degree in 1970. Still the three protagonists are fully developed leading to fun learning the outcome even though their triangle seems contrived.

A House Divided
Deborah LeBlanc
ISBN: 0843957301, $6.99

In Crowly, Louisiana, avaricious building contractor Keith LaFleur and assistant acquisitions manager for Costless Drugs Patricia Egan meet to discuss moving a vast building. Keith explains to his brother-in-law and lead foreman Jeff Mabry who soon arrives that to accomplish the request in a week they will need to cut the building in half, move it in two parts, and then put back together. Keith and Jeff enter the edifice, but the contractor smells gas which his foreman does not. Next Keith feels something crawling on him, but nothing is there until something bites him. Other incidents follow. Once the house is divided, Laura Toups opens a beauty salon near Matt Daigle's Tin Cup establishment. They are attracted to one another and she likes his preadolescent son. However they will soon be caught up with the inexplicable events of the LaFleur project that become a little more dangerous with each ensuing episode. Unbeknownst to them, is the Devillier family tragedies. Meanwhile Keith, acting increasingly bizarre, dismisses claims that Morgan, the ghostly mother, is trying to prevent her building from being split as no one will separate her from her children even as a more mundane culprit is also at work. A HOUSE DIVIDED is a solid haunted house thriller that grips readers from the first moment that Keith sniffs gas and Jeff standing next to him does not. The haunting action-packed story line never slows down from that initial occurrence as it plays out on two complex levels. Though Keith displays no redeeming qualities, fans will enjoy this tense thriller because readers will empathize with most of the key cast members including Morgan.

Diana Groe
ISBN: 0843957107, $6.99

The Northmen attack Hordaland in retaliation for a raid on Sognefjord a month ago. In the assault they kill her renowned story telling father, the skald Magnus Silver-Throat and capture amongst others his two children, Rika also a skald storyteller and her brother Ketil as slaves of the Jarl of Sogna. The ruler's younger brother Bjorn the Black led the raid that imprisoned Rika, who vows to kill him. Bjorn decides he wants the courageous skald, but knows he must ask his sibling for permission. Instead of showing his appreciation the Jarl displays his jealousy of his brother's success. Still even as Rika and Bjorn begin to fall in love, the Jarl promises her to his Byzantine trading partner as he loathes his sibling and gives him nothing even what he earned. This exciting Dark Ages romance takes the audience on a deep tour of Scandinavia and the Byzantine Empire with a deep look at the societies of both. The story line is action-packed as the two lead protagonists fall in love while landing in one escapade after another due to the betrayal by the treacherous Jarl, however, whose loathing seems cartoonish. Sub-genre fans will welcome Diana Groe to the circa tenth century world with her fabulous debut historical.

A Taste of Darkness
Nina Bangs
ISBN: 0843956348, $6.99

Vampire Reinn Mackenzie wants nothing to do with his peers or for that matter any creature, supernatural or human. However, the Clan Council informs him he has no choice as he the Guardian of the Blood. Instead of peaceful solitude, Reinn must hunt down vampires who mate with shapeshifters, a major taboo forbidden by the clan. Reinn knows he must kill Alan Mackenzie who is engaged to marry a were-cat Woo Woo Inn. However, going undercover, Reinn learns that the trio of Sparkle, Stardust, and Ganymede are stirring up their usual cosmic relational troubles. He also finds himself attracted to were-cat Krisa, but wonders if the three troublemakers are behind his desire. However, when Reinn realizes that someone is trying to force Krisa to change into her alter ego, a saber tooth tiger, he becomes too involved as he falls in love, but killing himself for breaking the taboo seems extreme. This entertaining star-crossed supernatural romance grips the audience from the moment a disgruntled Reinn goes undercover and never slows down through a series of capers until the final confrontation. Readers will believe in vampires and were-creatures as the Nina Bangs' mythos seem genuine. Sub-genre fans will appreciate the WICKED NIGHTS of this fun humorous and sexy paranormal romantic suspense thriller.

Midnight Blue
Phoebe Conn
ISBN: 0843957093, $6.99

In 1781 recently widowed by the war, pregnant Sarah Godwin Hadley sails from Charleston, South Carolina to England to be with her family. However, her vessel the Beatrice is stopped by American privateer Captain Chris Macleod and his crew of the Island Belle. He takes the feisty woman prisoner to his stronghold in Martinique surviving a hurricane and eluding the British war ships. On the Caribbean island, Chris and Sarah find there is an attraction between them. He especially enjoys playing with her newborn son and eventually they make love. Falling in love, he wants her and her infant safe while he continues the fight for freedom. Thus he takes her to his family home in Virginia to live with his parents. He comes home after suffering a severe war-related injury, but though he physically heals, mentally he hurts, ultimately rejecting the love that Sara offers freely to him. The impact of the Revolutionary War on different people is felt throughout this solid late eighteenth century romance. The story line provides the audience how hostilities can stop things taken for granted like sailing across the ocean. Chris is a combination pirate (call him privateer to his face) and southern gentleman while Sarah in spite of seven months pregnancy and shortly after giving birth is regal. Though the tension between them especially after his injury seems forced, fans will enjoy Phoebe Conn's take on love and war.

Midnight Blue
Phoebe Conn
ISBN: 0843957093, $6.99

In 1781 recently widowed by the war, pregnant Sarah Godwin Hadley sails from Charleston, South Carolina to England to be with her family. However, her vessel the Beatrice is stopped by American privateer Captain Chris Macleod and his crew of the Island Belle. He takes the feisty woman prisoner to his stronghold in Martinique surviving a hurricane and eluding the British war ships. On the Caribbean island, Chris and Sarah find there is an attraction between them. He especially enjoys playing with her newborn son and eventually they make love. Falling in love, he wants her and her infant safe while he continues the fight for freedom. Thus he takes her to his family home in Virginia to live with his parents. He comes home after suffering a severe war-related injury, but though he physically heals, mentally he hurts, ultimately rejecting the love that Sara offers freely to him. The impact of the Revolutionary War on different people is felt throughout this solid late eighteenth century romance. The story line provides the audience how hostilities can stop things taken for granted like sailing across the ocean. Chris is a combination pirate (call him privateer to his face) and southern gentleman while Sarah in spite of seven months pregnancy and shortly after giving birth is regal. Though the tension between them especially after his injury seems forced, fans will enjoy Phoebe Conn's take on love and war.

Savage Beloved
Cassie Edwards
ISBN: 0843952733, $6.99

In 1849 Kansas, Wichita tribesman Two Eagles assaults Fort Hope in an attempt to free his Uncle Short Robes held prisoner there. Fearing the worst from the savages, Candy Creighton hides, but is soon abducted by the outraged Two Eagles as a savage beating has left his uncle near death. He takes her as the price for the affront committed by the military to his beloved relative. Candy swears to her captor that she did everything she could and more to ease Short Robes' plight. Two Eagles wants to believe her, but knows whites lie. As she adapts to life amongst his tribe, she falls in love with him and quickly cherishes his people. He reciprocates, but their road to happiness is filled with danger from outside and betrayal from inside. The plot is the same for the gazillion time. The lead couple is also the same noble ethical individuals as always for the gazillion time. So knowing all this, somehow even vowing never again, this reviewer enjoys Cassie Edwards' formulaic Indian romances. This one is no exception as the plot and lead protagonists are from the same cookie cutter, refreshed somewhat by the lifestyle of the Wichita tribe. As always Ms. Edwards entertains her fans.

Burning Tigress
Jade Lee
ISBN: 0843956887, $6.99

In 1898 Shanghai, Charlotte Wicks runs her family home which requires taking care of her mentally-impaired brother and seeing to her squanderer self-indulgent father. Though she loves her sibling, she has no hopes for any relationship with a man; still Charlotte dreams of escaping the web she lives inside of as she envies yet feels good about the ecstatic happiness her best friend Joanna Crane (see HUNGRY TIGRESS) has obtained. Adding to her desires is finding a tigress' sacred scrolls that have Charlotte yearning to learn all that it contains. Ken Jin runs the Wicks business from behind the scenes. He also is a dragon, but is on the brink of losing his prowess unless he meets a tigress that he can call his. When Charlotte who he already is attracted to, asks him to teach her to be a tigress, Ken feels much more enlightened since he began instructing Charlotte and believes nirvana is attainable. The latest Taoist historical romance is an exhilarating tale starring a fascinating tutor and a beguiling pupil. Though somewhat similar to some of the previous novels with an Asian-western match-up, fans of the series will still appreciate the lead couple's evolving relationship in which the audience will wonder just whom is teaching who as the pairing of Yin and Yang make both of them complete and prove that the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts. Readers will appreciate the latest entry in the wonderfully erotic Tigress tales.

One Cold Night
Kate Pepper
ISBN: 0451412141, $6.99, 309 pp.

NYPD police detective David Strauss is a very contented man who is totally in love with his wife Susan and adores her younger sister Lisa who lives with them so she can go to a special school for talented musicians. In his personal life, the only problem is Susan keeps telling him she is not ready to have a child. Lisa, who was told she was adopted, wants to find her biological parents. Susan wants to give the two people she loves most what they really want. She intends to tell David that she is ready to have his baby but first she tells Lisa she is her biological mother. Lisa is so disturbed she runs out of the loft late at night. When she fails to return, Dave and Susan go looking for her and evidence points to her being abducted. The investigation leads police to the conclusion that the man who abducted Lisa is the same person who abducted another young girl a year ago, who looks like Lisa, was also adopted and was born in the same general area. She has never been found and Dave's biggest fear is that Lisa will be lost to them forever. Kate Pepper can always be counted on to write a good thriller and in ONE COLD NIGHT she succeeds her fans' expectations. The protagonist is a dynamic person who forgives his wife within hours of her startling revelation concerning Lisa. Readers will adore Lisa who is spunky and refuses to cower before the abductor. Fast pacing, shocking twists, and startling revelations and an exciting storyline are only some of the reasons the audience will enjoy this chilling thriller.

I See You
Holly Lisle
ISBN: 0451412214, $6.99, 320 pp.

Paramedic Dia Courvant is an adrenaline junkie who channels her need to live on the edge by saving lives in risky situations. When she and her team are called to a multi-car pile up with injures and death, she notices a police detective looking around the area. She finds his actions strange because the Highway Patrol usually works the highway accident scene in the Fort Lauderdale area. Detective Brig Hafferty is searching to see if an explosive device caused the lethal explosion because they were at the scene of similar incidents. He notices Dia but since his divorce he wants nothing to do with women; she feels the same way as a widow she does not need another adrenalin junkie ever since her spouse died in an accident in which a car crashed into an ambulance. Someone stalks Dia, sending her gifts and breaking into her home to leave messages on her mirrors. She asks Brig for help. Teaming up they learn that Sinclair Forbes, her late husband's best friend, drove the vehicle that killed him. Dia believes he deliberately killed her husband making her feel sick as she had saved Forbes' life. He is coming for her with Brigs vowing to keep the woman he now loves safe. Holly Lisle is a great romantic suspense writer who creates likable characters (Forbes aside) and places them in realistic yet stratospheric levels of conflict scenarios. There is plenty of action in I SEE YOU while the romantic subplot provides some relief from the tension. Using misdirection, false leads and red herrings, Ms. Lisle has her audience wondering how Forbes has easy access to the heroine's life. With all this going for it, this is obviously a one sitting read.

Murder, Mayhem, and a Fine Man
Claudia Mair Burney
3820 N. 30th Street, Colo Spgs, CO 80904
ISBN: 1576839788, $12.99

Forensic psychologist Amanda Brown just turned forty, but the single woman wants a baby and knows her time is running out because she suffers from endometriosis. Her medical examiner sister Carly buys her a sexy outfit and takes her to dinner, but Amanda and Carly have to leave as Carly is called to a crime scene. There she meets Lieutenant Jazz Brown whom she thinks is a fine man, but concentrates on the homicides. She has been to this house before to investigate a cult leaders and his followers on behalf of a member's father. That man and another are among the dead. Jazz and Amanda hit it off, but he tells her they cannot have a relationship even as they need to team up to solve the case. The victims apparently took communion with poisoned bread and wine. One member of the cult Susan goes to Amanda's church where counseling to aid to people who suffered at the hands of a cult is offered. When Susan leaves, Amanda risks her life to find her, unaware that her decision will lead her to face and defeat evil in its most primal form. Jazz and Amanda are terrific protagonists trying to live their lives in accordance with God's commandments. Both have relationship issues as Amanda was once an abuse victim who lost her baby due to that and Jazz's wife dumped him without warning. Claudia Mair Burney provides a good murder mystery wrapped like a moebius string in and out of a quirky relationship drama.

The Land of the Wand
Debora Elizabeth Hill, Sandra Brandenburg
Lost Myths Ink
ISBN: 1929374437, $13.99

In an import store at Chicago's Illinois Center mall, four seemingly normal Homo Sapiens are drawn to a wand on display. They cannot resist its lure though the quartet (Swedish heavy metal rock star Marshall Storm of the group Stockholm, fantasy author Evan Stone, architect Valaura Bennet, and Burger World server Lillian Curtis) appears to have nothing in common. That is until the wand transports them into a strange place like nothing any of them have ever seen before. They meet the "Daemona" people with hooves who are under assault by a stunningly gorgeous winged race Anjeles who want to eradicate the species. The Daemona consider the foursome as their saviors with pacifist Marshal as the champion and the remaining peace-loving trio his helpers. Hoping to prevent ethnic cleansing, the transported earthlings struggle to understand their hosts led by four sibling rival monarchs (Nicholas, Mephistopheles, Beelzebub, and Lucifer) battling one another as much as the adversary and the Anjeles whose King Yahoo rules in Paradiso. Give peace a chance seems unlikely in a realm where holy war is the norm. This is a terrific allegorical fantasy that grips readers once the four humans are introduced (cleverly done in separate prologues to open the tale) and never slows down until the final Stockholm Concert. The story line is action-packed but intelligently uses tiny spins such as names of monarchs and species to provide a "truth" somewhat differing from religions back home. Readers will believe that the four heroes left the Midwest for another dimension as they seem genuine throughout making their Gulliver like travels seem authentic. This one sitting saga is worth the journey.

Rain of Fire
Linda Jacobs
ISBN: 1932815295, $6.99

When the Utah Institute Director Professor Stanton suffers a debilitating stroke, he wants geologist Kyle Stone to replace him. Instead ambitious Dr. Hollis Delbert pulls a stunt and takes charge. He removes Kyle's earthquake reading equipment slated for Yellowstone, which has had some activity of late, and uses it for his study of the Salt Lake area though that has been inundated with equipment since just before the 2002 Winter Olympics. Still she defies Hollis and brings some portables to the area where her parents died during an earthquake in 1959 when she was a little girl. Desperate for help, she turns to her former lover volcanologist Dr. Nicholas Darden, who assists her with some of his equipment. As the tremors increase, Hollis manipulates the Institute brass leading to Kyle's firing even as Ranger Wyatt Ellison and Nicholas heat the air as much as the geo-thermo activities does the ground as they compete for her affection. RAIN OF FIRE is an exciting thriller that grips the audience with the tremors that threaten Yellowstone at a time when there seems to be an increase of major natural disasters. The story line is action-packed but driven by the rivalry between Hollis and Kyle in which he behaves totally unprofessional while she is absolutely dedicated. The romantic triangle is deftly handled, but the tale is more a cautionary thriller warning people about the potential of natural disaster in a place where most people fail to realize the danger.

The Shadow
Shelly Munro
ISBN: 1932815503, $6.99

With her father's health failing, Lady Katherine Fawkner knows she must bring in income to maintain their standard of living and pay off a debt to loan shark Richard Brauchamp, who is willing to accept her as remittance. Ergo she trains to replace him as the family cat burglar, the Shadow. Her first job stealing jewels from Perdita Moning starts off well until she overhears the target talking to her apparent lover just before a shot is fired. She finds the woman dead, takes her jewels, but also sees a photograph of a family with a girl who looks like her daughter Amber. Katherine has the first clue to identify who drugged and raped her six years ago when she was eighteen years old. Police Inspector Kahu Williams leads the homicide investigation. He has met Katherine already and is attracted to her and though she reciprocates she has doubts about a cop in her life especially with her family. As she makes inquiries into the family photo she lifted, he begins to unwind threads that could lead him away from a killer to a female thief. Readers will think of To Catch a Thief as Katherine and Kahu play a game of romantic cat and mouse. The two are a fun couple with her DNA baggage and his occupation making for strange bedfellows. The dual investigations, her amateur sleuth into who drugged and raped her and his into homicide and theft, make for a fine courtship that fans of a lighthearted romantic mystery will appreciate.

The Long Hunter
Don McNair
ISBN: 1932815511, $19.95

In 1770 Matt McLaren watched in horror as Indians attacked his family's Virginia farm killing his parents and kidnapping his sister Mandy. He vows to somehow rescue his sibling as he blames himself for her abduction, but first must recover his health He staggers into a bar where owner Struthers "bounds" him in exchange for food and shelter. When elderly frontiersman Noah Dandridge sees the sickly child, he removes him from the cruel master. With help of Reverend Ashbrooke, Matt is bound to the caring Noah, which angers Struthers. The innkeeper kills Noah, but Matt kills him. When he flees the crime scene, the law enforcement officials assume he is a murderer. Using the skills he learned from Noah, Matt becomes a hunter still seeking his sibling in Indian Territory though years have passed. THE LONG HUNTER is a fabulous insightful historical thriller that showcases some of abuses of colonial society. The story line focuses on the adventures of Matt as he tries to survive under laws that offer no protection towards the young similar to Charles Dickens's complaints about Victorian living conditions for the poor and disenfranchised. The support cast though somewhat stereotyped augment the enlightening look back in time. The final twist seems so plausible that it enhances the entire novel adding to the realism of a well written late eighteenth century American tale.

Frederick Reuss
ISBN: 1932961178, $25.95

Jewish author Dr. Max Mohr, whose latest work The Diamond Heart had just been serialized, leaves his native Nazi Germany for war torn China. On the morning he is to depart from his home in the Tegernsee Valley, his weary wife Kathe is sad as if she knows something about her spouse's journey. She wonders why not some place closer like Prague unless they are to remain apart. Their young daughter Eva is excited as her father says his two women will join him soon, but though mom does not dissuade her otherwise she feels that is youthful foolishness. There he becomes a physician in Shanghai while his daughter waits word from him to join him and his wife waits for something else. Though feeling more like a memoir narrative told in alternating chapters in China (Max's adventures) and Germany (the tales of Kathe and Eva) than a novel, biographical fiction readers will enjoy this interesting look at the highly regarded playwright. The story line is pieced together from family photographs that Frederick Reuss saw with approximately fifty included (part of why the book reads more like a memoir). This is a well written and fascinating period piece that enables readers to compare mid 1930s Germany and China with characters that seem so genuine that the audience can feel the pain of Kathe and the change from euphoria to doubter in Eve. Many readers will be disappointed that Mr. Reuss finally cannot explain why Mohr didn't take his family. Still this is a super insightful historical novel.

Song of the Crow
Layne Maheu
Unbridled Books
ISBN: 1932961186, $23.95

I Am the crow is upset as he observes the Man-Beast named Noah chopping at his home, a Giant tree containing his nest. I Am thinks he has had enough troubles in his life from being an orphan at a young age while his sibling My Other cannot believe that the Man-Beast would destroy their abode. I Am does not trust those who live in the deadly "underworld" where predators and food reside. To his surprise, I Am realizes that he understands the language of the God Crow directing Noah to build an ark nowhere near the sea, which makes no sense to the crow. Subsequently as other Man-Beasts plead with Noah to take them on board his ship, I Am also knows what they are saying about an upcoming flood that will soon destroy the world. Just before the torrential rains come, I Am stows away on Noah's vessel. Though the nomenclature and vernacular used by I Am can be difficult to follow at times, SONG OF THE CROW is a terrific allegory that looks closely at Noah's Ark through the personification of a crow. I Am is a fabulous protagonist struggling to survive in a dangerous world about to become eradicated. Mindful (at least of the clips I have seen) of Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth", fans of biblical fables will appreciate Layne Maheu's look at heaven and earth on the eve of destruction.

Blind Days Can Be Murderer
Mindy Starns Clark
Harvest House
ISBN: 0736914862, $11.99

Her agent pushes Jo Tulip, whose is a household hints website, to try online dating to gain needed publicity for her helpful tips Internet page. Jo signs up with Dates&Mates who hook her up with Brock Dentyne, whose name alone warns her off. Meanwhile her best pal Danny Watkins who was there for her when she was jilted (see THE TROUBLE WITH TULIP) wishes she would notice him as someone who cherishes and loves her in a romantic way, not as a pal since childhood. The date with Brock takes a macabre twist when he begins coughing and choking before collapsing and seeming to drop dead. Stunned, Jo finds this is only the beginning of her nightmare as someone stalks her and her house is broken into. The assault on her leads to identity theft, an arsonist burns her house down; she survives abductions and beatings, and finally recognizes that Danny is the one even as she resolves to uncover who is after her and why. The second Tulip tale is a delightful chick lit amateur sleuth thriller that grips the audience from the first cough until the final "romantic" twist. The story line is character driven, but not just by Jo as the audience obtains the points of view of several key support players including the bad guys and Danny (between dribbles). With a strong fully developed cast and a fabulous lead protagonist starring in an amusing "why me" whodunit, fans will appreciate Mindy Starns Clark's terrific tale.

The Road to Jude
Michelina Pagano
Treble Heart
ISBN: 1931742936, $6.95

She wakes up frightened as nothing seems right as she looks around and only sees a cement sidewalk that as far as her eyes can look goes on forever. There is no grass or dirt or people; only endless pavement. Adding to her trepidation is that she cannot remember her name, where she is from, or how she ended up by herself on this concrete. Every direction she looks is the same so she just begins to walk towards smoke in distance. When a man accosts her by asking who she is, she bravely tells him she does not know. He says likewise he has no idea who he is either. Since he wears the clothing of a fireman, she dubs him "Hero" and he attracted to her eyes calls her "Pretty One". Though both confused they continue their trek together as he mentions the old woman who insisted "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind" before she seemingly exploded into nothingness. This is the start of a quest hoping to find civilization, but in truth seeking deeper answers to why and where; answers that will leave both seeking much more on a spiritual plane consisting of cement and one weird edifice. THE ROAD TO JUDE is a strange yet enlightening allegorical tale that grips the audience from the moment Pretty One realizes she is alone on a cement jungle and never slows down until the journey on THE ROAD TO JUDE is completed for the moment. The action is limited somewhat, but readers will not care as the trek feels like a walk in the Twilight Zone yet is much more; slowly Pretty One, Hero and readers will comprehend the whys of a wonderful metaphysical tale that delves into the spirituality of humanity.

Highland Lover
Hannah Howell
ISBN: 0821777599, $6.50

In 1475 Scotland, Alana is tossed into a dark cell occupied by a man when she refuses to tell her abductors the Gowans who she is. They want to ransom her. Being small, her jailers and her roommate assume she is a child though over the next few days Gregor thinks she might be a tiny woman. While Gregor MacFinagal Cameron decides to end his relationship to Mavis before they become betrothed, Alana Murray worries about her twin sister Keira who she knows by her dreams is in trouble. Working as a team with Alana on his shoulders to try to climb through the trapdoor on the ceiling, the duo escapes though it took several nights of failures and bruises. When he finally sees her in the light, he knows she is an adult that he desires. They make it to the woods where she is too exhausted to continue so he carries her until they find shelter, an abandoned cottage. Gregor is attracted to Alana and wonders if she is his soulmate. He plans to break off totally with Mavis before he reveals his feelings to Alana. When she dreams Keira needs her, Gregor holds her and soon kisses her. Alana knows Gregor is her soulmate. They talk and he promises to help her find her twin, but first they journey to his home where Mavis and her sire already announced their betrothal. The strong lead couple and solid support cast turn HIGHLAND LOVER into an entertaining medieval romantic thriller. Readers will feel that they accompany Gregor and Alana on their dangerous trek to find safety. Though the last twenty-five pages feel like filler and Keira's troubles and the Gowan menace are totally resolved outside the plot, fans will appreciate this delightful fifteenth century Highland romance.

Master of Desire
Jessica Trapp
ISBN: 0821778625, $6.99

In 1487 Lady Ariana willingly would die or kill to keep her young son Jason safe. When her abusive husband threatened the life of her seven year old child, Ariana acted like a lioness and killed him. However, instead of a haven for her and Jason, she has been blackmailed into becoming the Spy of the Night, working for the Lancaster side against the crown. Bounty hunter Gabriel goes after the Spy of the Night whose actions led to the murder of his half-brother. He captures Ariana and plans to take her to London to face justice for her seditious actions and the killing of his sibling. He also knows that with the Spy of the Night facing the King's justice he and his family will gain ownership of her estate. However, as he spends time with Ariana, he finds he desires her and that she is an honorable courageous person trying to keep her son safe. As they fall in love, neither see any way out of their predicament except marriage, but she has learned the hard way not to trust men. The lead duo makes for a passionate fifteenth century romance that will thrill fans of the sub-genre. The story line is action-packed, but clearly belongs to the protecting lioness and the hunter as the audience will wonder whether love is enough. Adding to the tale's depth is though the Wars of the Roses is over with York the victor; the intrigue continues leaving outsiders like Ariana in precarious situations. Jessica Trapp provides a wonderful late medieval romance that historical readers will enjoy.

The Replacement
Susan Wales and Robin Shope
ISBN: 0800731115, $12.99, 368 pp.

Washington Gazette political journalist Jill Lewis waits at the Capital building to meet with Senator Brown, who asked for her to see him. She thinks how frightened the Senator seemed when he called her late at night. However, before they meet, he apparently dies from a heart attack. Senator Tommy Harrison is going to replace him as the Minority Leader. Harrison believes his predecessor was murdered and so he asks Jill to use her media sources to investigate. Her efforts prove successful forcing an autopsy to be performed that revealed that traces of MST, a toxic substance found in the venom of a very poisonous snake, is in the blood of the deceased. That leads to Bio-Tech where experiments using the substance on brain tumors were being tested. Two other people with knowledge about MST are murdered; Jill learns her "client" Senator Tommy Harrison has stock in Bio-Tech making her wonder if he could be the killer. The reporter quickly learns how politics and big business are the modern day double helix that leads to unchecked power and some who have it use it to break laws they were sworn to uphold. Jill courageously pursues the story though obviously aware that an insider wants her to back away. Her tenaciousness almost makes her the next victim, but also provides a fascinating and enthralling investigative political thriller for fans to enjoy.

Waking Up in Charleston
Sherryl Woods
ISBN: 0778323366, $6.99

Known throughout the South Carolina Low Country as being benevolent, William "Big Max" cut off his beloved only child Amanda when she eloped with loser Danny O'Leary. Several years later, Danny is dead and Amanda raises three youngsters while trying to pay off her late husband's massive debt; she and Big Max remain estranged. Preacher Caleb Webb arranged for a house to be built for Amanda and her children with supplies contributed from a friend's construction company, labor mostly volunteered by his congregation, and property secretly given by Max (see FLIRTING WITH DISASTER). Caleb loves Amanda while her children think of him as their father. However, he knows that he deceived her by hiding his close relationship with her dad and as she learns more of what he concealed, the angrier she gets. Caleb sacrifices his dreams to marry Amanda in order to reconcile the ailing Big Max, an Alzheimer's victim, and Amanda before it is too late for her children to know their grandfather. This terrific relationship drama stars likable protagonists who allow pride bias their decisions before learning that is no replacement for the love of family. Amanda is a courageous individual struggling with her feelings for the Preacher who has made life better for her and her children; the kids love him as if he is their father. Max wants so badly to ask his daughter to forgive him, but is unable to swallow the devastation of her possibly rejecting him as he feels he deserves so he works in secret. Caleb is pulled in two directions as he wants to shout to everyone he loves Amanda though that is obvious to all, but also wants to reconcile father and daughter. Sherryl Woods provides a deep character driven tale.

Never Too Late
Robyn Carr
ISBN: 0778322971, $6.99

Teacher Clare Wilson has been put out with her spouse Roger, but lately feels a bit sorry for him as he turns forty, struggling with the concept of aging. Their fourteen years old son Jason feels his mom is too easy on Roger, but she cannot help herself as that is her make-up. However, as always Roger finds a way to nuke her empathy as she once again catches him cheating this time in their bed not long after his latest plea for forgiveness. Clare plans to divorce him. On her way home Clare is in a car accident. Police Officer Sam Jankowski gets help to her rather quickly. Sam visits Clare making it obvious he desires her. Also in her life is football coach Pete Rayburn who wants to score touchdowns with her. She likes both men, but remains wary of all males after Roger the dodger. This is an interesting cotemporary tale starring a likable thirty something heroine struggling with the fact that her spouse (soon to be ex) cannot stay zippered; their teenage son loathes his father; and the two new attentive men in her life. Clare keeps the solid relationship story line focused as she ponders what to do about the four males who currently have shaken her equilibrium. Robyn Carr writes a fine modern day relationship drama.

Once a Thief
Suzann Ledbetter
ISBN: 0778323005, $6.99

In Plainfield, "home stager" Ramey Burke knows she is all alone as she has been for a few years since her spouse and parents are gone and her living relatives are behind bars. Though feeling overweight, Ramey likes her current serene lifestyle in which she is involved with no one except clients when she finalizes the clean up of a house before it is placed in sale. That is she was all alone, but now the state has freed elderly Aunt Melba Jane and Uncles Ed and Archie, who move in with Ramey. The Dillinger trio enjoys discussing the good old days of professionally robbing banks, which Ramey finds appalling and fascinating. However, when Ramey finds a corpse of a colleague of her live in relatives, the Plainfield police immediate suspect the Dillinger trio killed the victim. Ramey knows her felonious relatives would never murder anyone so she begins to investigate. That makes lead police detective Mike Constantine worried for her safety though he welcomes her intelligence and insight as she proves more than capable as a sleuth and definitely kissable though the case comes first. ONCE A THIEF is an amusing lighthearted romantic mystery starring likable lead characters and her zany relatives. The whodunit is fun to follow as Mike realizes quickly that Ramey is more than just an asset on the case as he uses her help almost as much to keep her safe as for her insight. Suzann Ledbetter writes a comical wacky tale that her fans will fully appreciate.

The Final Kill
Meg O'Brien
ISBN: 0778320871, $6.99

Abby Northrup converted a monastery into a shelter for battered women and children. However, she never expected to see her close friend Alicia Gerard arrives with her daughter seeking shelter. When they do Abby notices both seem despondent and in shell shock. Not long after taking the two females in the FBI arrives at the monastery demanding Abby turn over Alicia to them as she is a murderer, but the Feds are too late as Alicia quietly left. Sheriff Ben Schaeffer warns Abby to stay out of the investigation, but her concern for her pal forces her to sleuth for the missing woman. Ben proves right when Abby steps into danger that impacts national security with only her beloved sheriff trying to keep her safe. Though it takes time to lay out the plot, be patient because THE FINAL KILL is a terrific thriller that is worth reading as Meg O'Brien writes a deep character driven amateur sleuth mystery. The romantic subplot enhances the prime whodunit and where is she investigation conducted by the heroine. Ben is a delightful champion trying to persuade the woman he loves to back off as the Feds and others demand she stay out of this or else. This superb tale will provide plenty of fun to fans of romantic suspense.

Thriller: Stories to Keep You Up All Night
Edited by James Patterson
ISBN: 0778322998, $24.95

This anthology is faster than hyperspeed as each of the thirty contributions are well written thrillers using the definition provided by James Patterson in his introduction to the book as being "the force with which they hurtle the reader along." The tales run the gamut of what most readers consider a thriller though some seem more like a detective story. Included are legal, espionage, adventure, medical, police procedural (mystery genre?), romance, historical, high tech, political, religious and military, etc. The authors are the who's who superstars of the genre though some are probably more renowned as mystery writers as the line of demarcation seems blurred. What is fascinating is that several authors are females which were virtually unheard of just a decade or so ago. The introduction to each tale showcases how talented Mr. Patterson is while the short stories display the skills of the author. Fans will appreciate this fine compilation, the first by the newly formed International Thriller Writers group, which lives up to its subtitle: "Stories to Keep You Up All Night"; this compilation will do so for several evenings.

Invisible Girl
Tess Hudson
ISBN: 0778323145, $13.95

In Manhattan Maggie Malone's brother Danny is shot and her Irish-American father is murdered. She assumes the two incidents tie together with a third that of her mother Vietnamese expatriate Mai dying years ago in the East River. Unable to ignore the tragedies that she also concludes are tied to her late dad's mysterious work, Maggie investigates who shot her sibling and killed her father because she feels that will reveal why her mother died. However, as she begins to unravel a web of deceit that leads back to the Viet Nam War era "Operation Babylift", someone wants Maggie to stop digging for the truth. That unknown adversary makes it clear she will die if she continues on her quest, but Maggie is beyond concern as she is fixated on knowing all the players and whys. This is a fascinating look at the impact of the Viet Nam War on a generation of Amerasians but at times is difficult to follow with the constant switching between the present and the 1960s. When the story line focuses on Maggie's amateur sleuth investigation into her family history as opposed to shifting eras, the tale is gripping and fun to follow, but before fully hooking the reader a time transfer occurs and jolts the plot. This is still worth reading by readers who do not mind a bit of disorientated time joggling and the final spin is fabulous as Tess Hudson shines a light on a little known poignant piece of history by showcasing its aftermath thirty plus years later.

The Turning
Jennifer Armintrout
ISBN: 077832298X, $6.99

In the Michigan Emergency Room Dr. Carrie Ames is in the morgue when a vampire attacks her. She slowly recuperates from the assault, but she is no longer the same person as in her efforts to thwart the molestation, she exchanged blood with Cyrus the vampire; she is now a creature of the night. Carrie struggles with the "Big Change as no one is there to nurture or guide her. She seeks information that leads her to an occult bookstore owned by Nathan the vampire. He tries to provide her some support as she transforms. Nathan also warns her to be careful of a vampiric group, the Movement that wants to commit suicidal genocide by killing all of their kind while the opposite side is 200 proof evil as they attack innocent people. Nathan insists Cyrus is one of the malevolent types, using his assailing her as his anecdotal example. She must choose one side or the other as there is no third position; whatever she chooses someone plans to kill her for selecting wrong. The first book of the Blood Ties tales is a delightful horror thriller with some romantic and chick lit elements that enhance the overall impact of a swell written vampire story. The heroine is a wonderful protagonist as she struggles with the Big Change and an attraction to two individuals from feuding camps. Though gory and even unintended comical at times, THE TURNING is a terrific debut novel.

The Rome Affair
Laura Caldwell
ISBN: 0778323099, $6.99

In Chicago, architect Rachel Blakely struggles with the fact that her plastic surgeon spouse Nick admitted that he cheated on her when he was in California giving a talk. Nick is doing everything he can to regain the trust of his "Golden Girl". Randall Design sends employee Rachel to Rome on business. Since Nick cannot get away from his work and besides she does not want him with her, she takes her long time best friend Kit Kernaghan with her. In Rome, Rachel meets artist Roberto who shows her a portrait he swears he made over ten years of his fantasy woman. That person is Rachel. When she learns that Nick failed to go to work, she assumes he cheated on her and turns to Roberto for comfort; they share a night of lovemaking. Not long afterward, Kit begins blackmailing Rachel threatening to tell Nick that his wife cheated on him. Kit's reason for this is that he has no money to pay for her mom's cancer treatment. Rachel is willing to provide for Kit's mom, but is outraged over the extortion attempts. However, she pays anyway to keep the ROME AFFAIR quiet, but soon someone else decides on a more lethal remittance. This interesting suspense thriller acts at first somewhat more like a marriage in trouble tale starring a desperate male seeking a second chance until the first blackmail spin that twists into something more sinister and climaxes with a shocking final gyration that will stun the audience. No one will see it coming though clues are everywhere as Laura Caldwell lulls her audience with delightful sleight of the hand plot tricks that make sense with every turn. The lead threesome seems real though one must wonder why Rachel failed to recognize the avaricious desires of Kit; still fans will enjoy this superb dark tale.

Karen Harper
ISBN: 0778323072, $7.99

Counselor Julie Minton has renovated her family's Osprey resort on one of the 10,000 islands near Naples, Florida so that she can bring teen cutters for a few weeks of therapy. The other counselor Kaylin McKenzie "arranges" for Julie's fourteen year old daughter Randi to share a water jet ski with seventeen years old Thad Brockman; the younger teen has a crush on the older boy. When they fail to return with Hurricane Dana bearing towards the islands, Julie panics. Julie meets with Thad's dad charter fishing operator Zack, a former military Special Ops soldier. The widower agrees that they should search for Randi and Thad though he feels they are all right and probably out of gas on one of the smaller islands. However, as they begin their search starting with asking his estranged in-laws if they stopped there, Randi and Thad are in deeper trouble than anyone can imagine, having been netted by drug traffickers. Karen Harper provides a powerful romantic suspense thriller that never slows down until the final confrontation in the eye of the storm. The storyline is action-packed as a frantic Julie and a calm but concerned Zack search for their missing children before Hurricane Dana strikes, but are unaware that the kids are in deeper water with the drug dealers who they know. Though the romance seems inane, rushed and unnecessary with so much else going on, fans will enjoy this exhilarating Type 4 drama.

Belle Point
Karen Young
ISBN: 0778323102, $6.99

At a charity event to raise money in which her husband St. Louis Jacks star pitcher Buck Whitaker is the featured speaker, a distracted Anne knows she must tell her spouse that she is ten weeks pregnant. When she starts bleeding, she informs Buck that she is carrying his child and needs to go home; he persuades her to let him give his talk then they will depart. On the way home he acts as if he does not want the child just before they crash when he swerves to avoid a deer in the road. She miscarries. Unable to forgive Buck for his behavior before the accident, Anne leaves him to return to their hometown of Tallulah, Mississippi where she hopes to heal and determine whether she should divorce him. To pass time, Anne begins looking into the history of BELLE POINT, the plantation owned by her husband's family. Her investigation begins to reveal secrets that frighten her mother-in-law; who fears her standing as a pillar of society would crumble so she will do anything to insure they remain buried. Buck follows Anne home because he loves his wife and wants her back in his life, but first he knows he needs to gain her forgiveness with how he reacted when she announced her pregnancy. BELLE POINT is an exciting regional romantic suspense in which much of the action comes late in the story line as readers learn early what motivates the lead couple, especially their separation and what inflames the key support players. The story line starts out slow until Anne finds strange connections between Viet Nam and 1985 involving the name Baker; As Anne plays amateur sleuth, readers will wonder what she will ultimately uncover and whether she and Buck, still in love, can reconcile in this fine Magnolia State thriller.

Erica Spindler
ISBN: 0778323129, $21.95

In 2001 in Rockford, Illinois, the Sleeping Angel Killer (SAK) murders three preadolescent girls in their bedrooms while their parents were nearby. He left his smothered innocent victims looking as if they were peacefully asleep. Rockford Police Department Violent Crimes Bureau Detectives Kitt Lundgren and Brian Spillare head the investigation. At the same time Kitt's ten year old daughter Sadie dies from leukemia, which drives the cop to drink and costs her an opportunity to catch SAK. Five years later, SAK who was silent since Kitt failed, apparently has returned as another young girl Julie Entzel is smothered in her bedroom. Heading the investigation is ambitious Detective Mary Catherine "M.C." Riggio; she does not want the loser Kitt on the case. Kitt, who has not touched a drink in eighteen months in spite of a divorce, notices that the hands of the victim is different than the case she worked on; this leads to the cops wondering if a possible COPYCAT killer exists. Not long after the media announces the return of the Sleeping Angel Killer, SAK calls Kitt to insist that she take charge of the inquiry into what he claims is a careless copy cat killer or else he too will return to murdering the innocent. The key to this tense serial killer thriller that makes for a fresh entry is the dysfunctional relationship between the two female detectives. The story line is action-packed from start to finish yet readers see deep inside Kitt and M.C. to see what motivates each of them. The final twist will stun the appreciative audience as Erica Spindler spins a fabulous suspense tale.

Chris Jordan
ISBN: 0778322939, $21.95

In Fairfax, Connecticut, widow Kate Bickford watches her eleven years old son Tomas stroke the winning hit in a Little League game. Afterward he goes to purchase a sundae while his mom goes to their minivan to wait for him. Her child never shows up. When a few minutes pass and no one knows where he went, a stunned Kate heads home assuming a communication mix-up, but Tommy is not who greets her. Inside her home waiting for her is Tommy's kidnapper, former Special Ops officer Steve Cutter, who coldly explains how to get her son back before he departs. Complicating matters for the frantic mother is Cutter has left her a mess in her basement freezer; the murdered corpse of Sheriff Fred Corso, the coach of Tommy's baseball team. The police believe Kate killed Fred in a probable lovers' quarrel and do little to search for Tommy as they do not believe her that her son is in trouble. Kate knows she needs professional help on her two-front war. She retains attorney Maria Savalo to deal with the cops and child abduction recovery expert Randall Shane to deal with Cutter; she needs both to rescue Tommy. Chris Jordon pens a tense character driven chilling tale that grips the audience from the moment that Kate meets Cutter who has already TAKEN her son, invaded her home, and murdered the sheriff. Readers initially believe that the kidnapper is only after some easy money and willing to kill to obtain it, but soon realize that his motive is much stronger and deeper than cash. Though the behavior of law enforcement seems odd with the alerts on child abductions, fans will consider this one of the short list novels for thriller of the year.

The Lavender Field
Jeanette Baker
ISBN: 0778323110, $6.99

Dr. Werner Pohl, director of the famous Vienna Spanish Riding School, is worried as his latest Lipizzan horse comes down with Navicular Disease. Pohl realizes the only hope to save the school resides in California where years ago Franz a trainer from the school brought the horses to keep them safe from the Nazis. The government hires Kentucky attorney Whitney Benedict, heir to Whitney Downs thoroughbred stable, to negotiate with the late Franz's son Gabriel Mendoza owner of the California Lipizzan stock. Gabe loves the three children he raises with the help of his mom Mercedes; their mother Kristen walked out on them to tour with a rock band. The older two are his stepchildren while the youngest is his daughter. Sixteen years old Eric seems reasonably adjusted and enjoys living on the ranch. Fourteen year old Emma misses her mother and shows her anger. Claire suffers from Asperger's Syndrome. Whitney arrives at the ranch to offer the Austrian deal to Gabe. He tells her he must speak with his three sisters before deciding, but will probably say no. Whitney meets his three children with Emma acting nasty, Eric welcoming, and Claire introverted. As Whitney and Gabe discuss the proposal over the next few days they fall in love; but she is thoroughbred Kentucky and he is Lipizzan California leaving no room for compromise. The fine lead characters are complemented quite nicely by a strong support cast especially their extended families and the Lipizzan horses. The interesting story line contains several people and the Austrian horses having problems that enhance the relationship between the lead couple. Though vehicle failures is used as a hokey "matchmaking device", fans will enjoy this romance between two likable people with different breeding.

A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller
Frances Mayes
ISBN: 0767910052, $26.00

This journal is a surprise because Frances Mayes is renowned for her love of Tuscany, but confesses a weakness for wanderlust so+ she and her companion Ed went on a year long trek. As she did with UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN, Ms. Mayes divides her anecdotal stops into distinct chapters making it easy to pick up and put down so that it can be reading over several days by armchair travellers. Each of the escapades are cleverly described so that the reader feels as if they have met the same people that the Mayes encounter whether it be a guide in Fez, a Greek family baptism, the people they dine with or serve them in Madrid, or a rug dealer in Istanbul. Food and shelter are big issues as the traveling duo wants local flavor. Those two critical staples are vividly described in each chapter, but the trek belongs to the people that Ms. Mayes and Ed encounter on their journey as their peculiarities come across as warm and welcoming to readers. Couch potato tourists will want to read the well-written A YEAR IN THE WORLD: JOURNEYS OF A PASSIONATE TRAVELLER.

The Butterfly Farm
Diane Noble
ISBN: 1400070392, $13.99

Working for the San Francisco Town Crier magazine as a travel writer, widow Harriet McIver is sailing on the cruise ship Sun Spirit towards Costa Rica. Her boss asks Harriet to keep an eye on her niece, Carly Lowe, on the tour also as part of a student contingency from Sheperton College. When Carly fails to return to the vessel, no one except her roommate Zoe Shore and Harriet seem worried. That night, passenger Harry Eason is found dead in a swimming pool with the deadly, if swallowed in large quantities, blue morpho butterfly nearby. Former SFPD Detective Adam Hartsfield is on board working a private investigation, but seems disinterested in the death though he tells Harriet that the victim was a sleuth who rescued youngsters from cults. As the vessel stops for time at a nearby health spa with a famous butterfly farm, Harriet knows something sinister has happened to Carly and plans to find and rescue the teen. Though the suspense takes a while to get started, THE BUTTERFLY FARM is a terrific amateur sleuth thriller that once the accelerator is pressed takes off and never slows down until the final twist. Harriet is a noble protagonist, a West Coast Jessica Fletcher refusing to back down in spite of warnings especially from Adam and understanding how treacherous the situation is. The look at Costa Rica enhances a wonderful tale starring a heroine who not only keeps the plot focused, but deserves future travelogues for armchair mystery aficionados.

Donita K. Paul
ISBN: 1400072506, $13.99

Leaving Castle Pelacce, squire Bardon heads with his dragon Grier to an isolated mountain retreat so that he can meditate before he pledges his allegiance to Wulder and in turn becomes a knight. However, his solitude is interrupted before it begins when an elderly woman and her beautiful granddaughter are at the cabin retreat. The elderly Kye believes that Bardon is destined to help her though he says otherwise as she feels there is a reason that fate brought them to meet like this. Kye believes that Bardon and her granddaughter N'Rae will rescue the latter's father Sir Jilles comatose in a chamber. Bardon believes otherwise. However, after needing rescues by Grier and N'Rae he begins to reconsider. He soon not only learns that other knights have been captured and put to sleep and concludes that his destiny resides with the two females who ruined his isolation before he had his first moment to reflect. DRAGON KNIGHT is an entertaining romantic fantasy starring likeable heroes not ready for prime time forced to enter the fray. The action-packed story line is fast-paced with Grier providing some comic relief as he constantly rescues his human mate. Bardon and N'Rae are a fine pairing starting with her rescuing him (becoming the norm for the future knight) and continuing as their quest expands from saving her father to saving the realm. As with DRAGONSPELL and DRAGONQUEST, Donita K. Paul provides an entertaining coming of age fantasy.

Consider Lily
Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt
ISBN: 1400072565, $11.95

In San Francisco, Lily Traywick knows that she is 180 degrees different from her perfectly fashioned parents as she prefers softball on the nearby sandlots while they enjoy an evening in Paris. She scoffs at gene pool theory as their DNA must have skipped her without a trace. Her parents own Traywick's of San Francisco, the chicest department store in the state. Lily, knowing she is going to own the store one day works in the Silver spoon children's wear, but is not that good at selling. Lily has never been on a date, but her best friend Reagan Axness, who should have been the Traywick daughter, helps her with a makeover and arranges a date with Daniel. Lily has a good time, but realizes she and Daniel are going to remain friends. New store employee Sam March likes Lily and begins to date her. They fall in love, but Lily fears that he desires the new glamour image not the real sweatshirt soul that she truly is. Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt provide a delightful contemporary tale that emphasizes "to thine own self be true" especially if you want others to be true with you and to believe that you are being truthful with them. Lily is a wonderful protagonist struggling to make her parents proud of her, but not really understanding what they, especially her mom, wants of her until her mother takes drastic action late in the tale. The support cast, even Sam to a degree, enable the reader to better understand Lily's trepidations as much as from her self-analysis asides to the reader. CONSIDER LILY is a fine character study starring a somewhat typical chick lit heroine, who fans will adore.

The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo
Peter Orner
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316735809, $23.95

In 1991 Cincinnati, Ohio resident Jewish idealist Larry Kaplanski accepts a position to teach English and history in Goas, Nambia at a boys' only Catholic School. Larry like the other four male volunteers already working there Larry finds the desert climate unbearable and the locale lonely and tedious with little to do. Not long after Larry arrived in Nambia, Mavala Shikongo, the sister-in-law of the school's principal, shows up for a short while. The former female civil war soldier does not stay long before vanishing only to return soon afterward with a small boy accompanying her. She becomes a teacher at the school. Her peers are bewitched by Mavala and so are many of her students perhaps because she is the only available game in town. Still while the other male teachers seek female companionship in a nearby village, she and Larry begin rendezvousing; however like the vanishing sheep she disappears again leaving her lover to wonder if his beloved will ever return to him. The vivid portrayal of the climate (endless drought), the symbolism of the vanishing sheep and the failed farm turned church school, and the aftermath of a bitter civil war make this a poignant but not easy to read complex tale. The harshness rightfully so permeates the cast and subsequently the audience. Larry seems like a fish out of water as he realizes he cannot teach, fumbles at lovemaking, and has not adapted to the environs except when he is with Mavala. She is an enigma, coming and going in at first thought like a wisp, but is actually much deeper. Though the support cast never seems fully developed, THE SECOND COMING OF MAVALA SHIKONGO is a deep look at Nambia at a time of hope and despair.

Seven Loves
Valerie Trueblood
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316058939, $23.95

Retired Seattle high school English teacher May Nilsson reflects back on her life by looking back on her relationships with people she cared about over the years. Front and center in her salad days is her activist mom Anna, who though a woman led labor protests during the depression. Perhaps May thinks the pivotal moment occurs in 1960 when May feared that her spouse Cole was not the sire of Nick whom she was carrying at that time. She thought that her boss African American school principal and father of six Nathaniel sired the fetus growing inside her. Years later she touches lives with police officer Arne. He chased her Nick, an addict, across a frozen lake until her son died when the ice gave out. Through it all, the betrayals and the grief, there is always Cole. Though the prose seems overly poetic especially at the darkest interludes, Valerie Trueblood provides a strong relationship drama starring a fascinating woman looking back at those who touched her heart. May is a complex protagonist as she cheats on her spouse yet always returns to him as she and Cole share a bipolar relationship of passionate caring love on one side and betrayal on the other. Her other loves are also deep, but it is Cole that connects this fine character study.

One Mississippi
Mark Childress
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316012114, $24.95

In 1973, the Musgrove family relocates from Indiana to Mississippi as the bread winner has been transferred. Sixteen years old Daniel is unhappy with the move that not only has him leave his friends in the Hoosier State, but also as soon as he arrives at Minor High School he feels like an alien. Daniel becomes friends with fellow outsider (though native) Tim Cousins, a clown who firmly lives by the adage that the world is a stage of endless comedy acts. On the other hand Daniel finds football gorilla Red Martin wanting to pound his head into the turf; for that matter he enjoys doing that to Tim too. On prom night Tim and Daniel accidentally run over a pretty black female Arnita Beecham. However, the two pranksters set it up so that Red is accused of a hit and run. When Arnita recovers she falls in love with Daniel, angering Tim and jeopardizing their alibi. ONE MISSISSIPPI is an intriguing Nixon Era crime drama that stars two alienated teens, who are supported by a strong cast mostly of their high school peers. Tim and Daniel will remind the audience of some of the descriptions of the school mass killers as they are alienated outsiders bullied by an insider. Thus readers obtain a well written psychological thriller that starts off as youthful amusing pranks for much of the novel but abruptly spins into a dark thriller that makes the story line feel like two separate plots linked by fascinating alienated teens.

Dead Before Dying
Deon Meyer
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316000132, $24.95

In Cape Town, South Africa, a killer has murdered three victims with no apparent links. The culprit used a Boer War German Mauser gun with bullets as old as the weapon is to fire two shots to the head and to the chest of the victim. Murder and Robbery Squad Captain thirty-four years old Mat Joubert heads the investigation. Mat knows this case is probably the last opportunity to salvage a career that has rapidly collapsed since his beloved wife Lara was killed on duty during a police matter two years ago. Mat investigates the three murders, but finds no motive to tie them together. He begins to wonder if the killer is just randomly selecting his victims. Still as the local residents panic over who is next, the media adds to the feeding frenzy and the brass, especially the ambitious politicians in and out of the police station, demand either the culprit or a fall guy. Mat struggles with finding clues before he has to visit the crime scene of the next victim. This graphic South African police procedural is a tense gritty serial killer noir that grips the audience from start to finish with a haunting final twist. Mat is an interesting detective carrying plenty of baggage in a career that is as dead as the victims of the killer, but hooks fans, who will join him as he seeks evidence especially something that ties the dead together. Readers will appreciate Deon Meyer's strong vivid murder mystery and want to read his other South African novels (see HEART OF THE HUNTER and DEAD AT DAYBREAK: PAST IS NEVER DEAD).

The Girls
Lori Lansens
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316069035, $23.95

In Leaford, Ontario, their teenage mother abandoned the conjoined twins when they were two weeks old. Instead a nurse Aunt Lovey and her spouse Stash adopted and raised them as if Ruby and Rose Darlen were not connected at the head. Rose has the fully developed normal body but a distorted face pulled out of shape towards Ruby's pretty normal face. Ruby's legs never developed so Rose does the walking for both of them. As Lovey intended when she showered them witth love and nurturing as two people, they have differing personalities and even separate jobs at the library. Nearing their thirtieth birthday, Rose starts writing her autobiography while persuading Ruby to do likewise. Rose tells much of their past starting with the birth during a tornado, the abandonment, and the loving nurturing of Lovey and Stash. Ruby provides some tidbits that she is not just a pretty face as her sibling insists with an Indian artifact collection as her proof. However, neither wants to explain how they are dying from a tumor though Ruby tries nor how Rose became pregnant (gave up the child for adoption) with a boy who kissed Ruby while deflowering her. This is the story of two sisters who have never looked into each other's eyes. THE GIRLS is a terrific character study that looks deep into the relationship between sisters. The key to the tale is that Lori Lansens avoids turning the conjoined twins into melodramatic caricatures; instead they have distinct personalities and even rivalries as each lives a relatively normal lifestyle making them seem real and their relationship plausible. The support cast especially their adoptive parents add to the depth of two siblings living normal separate lives though facially tied together.

Murder Most Holy
Michael J. Manno
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143870, $25.95

Special Investigation Unit Police Captain Hodges assigns Detective Sergeant Jerome "Stan" Stankowski to head the investigation into the murder of a nun. The victim is twenty-five year old Anna Marie Wilborn, daughter of a loathed newspaper publisher, who was killed in a car bombing in the Midwest town of Forbes Island. To Stan's chagrin, the Attorney General's Office punishes him by assigning fastidious Parker Noble to help. While fussy Parker considers raiding the refrigerator of the deceased, the local law enforcement assumes he is in charge. As Stan asserts authority over the case, he interviews friends and the brother of the late Sister. Unable to talk with her father who is hospitalized having suffered a seizure; Stan assumes he was the target not the nun. One of Anna Marie's friends, Buffy Coyle, recently fired from the newspaper, offers more than just assistance on solving the homicide. She seems to genuinely desire Stan, who is taken aback by her attention after his two week matrimonial debacle with Diane. To make maters worse, there are suspects are everywhere especially within the most respected pillars of the community. This interesting police procedural is fun for two prime reasons. First the victim's dad has enemies everywhere and so readers will agree with Stan's premise that he was the target and that his daughter was unlucky to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Second the interrelationships between Stan, Parker, and Buffy make for a delightful often amusing investigation though at times their exchanges overwhelm the case. Fans will enjoy this lighthearted whodunit and want more inquiries led by this noble threesome.

The Mote in Andrea's Eye
David Niall Wilson
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144532, $25.95

It was watching her father die during a hurricane when she was just a child that motivated Andrea Jamieson to become a scientist studying storms. Currently she heads Operation Stormfury studying how to prevent or lessen the impact of oceanic fed storms on land. She works with her lover flier Phil Wicks, a former US Navy pilot. His prime mission is to drop silver iodide on hurricanes. They are currently tracking a horrific storm over the Devil's Triangle heading towards North Carolina Phil flies towards the torrent, but when he makes his approach to drop the silver iodide, he vanishes along with the storm. Stunned Andrea tries to track what happened to her beloved who simply vanished somewhere apparently into nowhere along with the lost storm at sea or elsewhere. THE MOTE IN ANDREA'S EYE is a terrific fantasy romantic mystery that grips the readers starting with the action of the storm and never slows down as the audience switches from adrenalin pumping to pondering what is going on with David Niall Wilson's superb thriller. Andrea and Phil is a fine couple, who as partners and as individuals make the plot seem real. Mr. Wilson writes a fantastic thriller that fans of nature out of control tales will want to read and hope Hollywood will film it.

Death of an Obnoxious Tourist
Maria Hudgins
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144672, $25.95

After their five children left the nest, her husband dumped History professor Dotsy Lamb; to feel good about herself and to move on; she and her friend Lettie join a tour group visiting Italy. The tourists are an eclectic mix with all being very pleasant except Meg Bauer who, unlike her two sisters, is a harridan tearing into everyone even her kind siblings. When Meg is found murdered in her room by a knife that her sister Beth recently purchased, the police arrest gypsy street peddler Ivo Ramovic. Earlier he stole Beth and Meg's room key along with Beth's credit card and traveler's checks. When confronted he had both plus a large sum of cash. When evidence proves his innocence, suspicion shifts to Beth. Dotsy believes Beth is innocent so she plans to uncover the real culprit, but not before another group member is murdered. Readers will have no sympathy towards the culprit who took immense pleasure hurting others, but will feel for Beth, a nice person caught up in circumstances that make her look guilty as she had the motive and the opportunity and owned the means. The protagonist is an independent energetic senior citizen who shows her obstinacy with the trip to start her life anew and with the investigation. Maria Hudgins writes a delightful amateur sleuth tale and armchair detectives will enjoy seeing Italy through Dotsy's eyes.

Cary Brown
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144249, $25.95

After raising her children by running a bed and breakfast, Jeanne realizes she is tired of mothering her guests and being available whenever her adult children need her. She decides to start a new life starting with selling the B&B and moving into an RV. She travels staying at RV camps and writing pamphlets on sights to see in a particular area. At her latest camp stop, Jeanne meets Becca whose husband Larry left her leaving a vague note behind that told her nothing. Also at the camp, retired police officer Matt wants to work with Jeanne to find out what happened to Larry. Becca learns that Larry had a life apart from her; he was a healer using elixirs he made that worked when regular medicine failed. Larry's family believes that he in hiding, dead, or making a new life for himself without Becca. Matt and Jeanne try to help Becca find answers and closure though the truth may prove painful. RAIN is an imaginative mystery because the plot revolves around learning what happened to the missing Larry. The look at life in an RV camp adds fascination to the whodunit, but the key cast members never come fully alive especially at the campgrounds where they represent stereotypes. Still this is a fast-paced tale in which readers along with Becca will want to know what happened to Larry.

Lost Among the Angels
Alice Duncan
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143633, $25.95

In 1926 Los Angeles, former cop turned private investigator Ernest Templeton wants nothing to do with the classy Bostonian, but she refuses to accept no for an answer. Instead the Boston Brahmin Mercy Allcutt obtains a job working for Ernie though he plans to keep her in the office as show candy. However, Mercy refuses to sit idly working on her cuticles. Instead she demands Ernie teach her all he knows about sleuthing. Stunned by her energy and eagerness, Ernie, who thinks humanity should be classified below the other primates, finds Mercy at his side as they work the gamut of cases from kidnapping to murder, and meet an array of nasty individuals from a toy poodle accompanied by a siren (mercy says vamp) vamp to a stalker and a cold blooded killer. This is on the job training just like Mercy wanted, but it frightens the heebie-jeebies out of Ernie because he is afraid that she will get hurt. Readers will appreciate this terrific historical mystery that brings to life Southern California in 1926. Ernie is fabulous as he changes from a jaded person trying to rid himself of an aristocratic parasite to worrying how to keep her safe mostly from herself; he wonders what to do with the enthusiastic Mercy. However, there is no question that this is the heroine's tale as she jumps without looking from one escapade to another. Readers of 1920s private detective stories will want to read the fantastic LOST AMONG THE ANGELS.

Pistols at Dawn
Michele Ann Young
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144605, $25.95

In 1817 Earl Simon "Satan" St. John allowed the drunken opponent to survive their duel; afterward he observed a young woman rush to foolish Yelverton, who upon seeing her, shot himself in the head. Simon, at the urging of the deceased's second the odious Viscount Ogden, agrees to serve as guardian to the grieving sister Victoria, who loathes him. Simon plans to marry the beauty off to an acceptable man who will be an aristocrat as soon as possible. On the other hand, Victoria is sick of stupid males misbehaving with no care about others. Meanwhile Simon, a cynic when it comes to love, finds he is attracted to his ward. He struggles with the fact that all women are cheats and whores, but Victoria seems honest and refuses to sell herself to him or any bidder. Still he sees her price even as he refuses to see anyone but him making love to her. The lead characters keep this strong regency romance from being a historical soap opera as they seem real and their changing relationship plausible. The story line contains some action, but is clearly driven by Satan and his angel as she sensing his inner goodness and helps him overcome the trauma that owns his soul. Sub-genre fans will enjoy PISTOLS AT DAWN.

The Mantua-Maker's Beau
Anne Holman
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144524, $26.95

In 1774 Bath, England apprentice dressmaker Clementina Willoby cannot believe that her recently deceased employer Mrs. Elizabeth Hunter failed to change her will and leave the shop to her; instead her nephew James, residing in the colonies inherited the dress making shop. Though she knows she has talent and can score a job working for someone else, Clementina wants to be her own boss. She obtains passage on a ship owned by the man she seeks James. Clementina is stunned by the harsh conditions that the indentured servants endure on the trek across the Atlantic. Initially she blames James assuming he only cares about profit, but upon meeting him in Philadelphia Clementina realizes he has no interest in shipping business as he is working on building a sawmill in the wilderness. Clementina takes James to task as neglect is not acceptable as an excuse. As they fall in love, war seems imminent between England and the colonies with James in support of the rebels while Clementina is English to the core. THE MANTUA-MAKER'S BEAU is a superb historical tale with a strong romantic subplot. The story line provides a deep look at various groups just prior to the beginning of the Revolutionary War. The relationship between the lead couple deftly enhances the conflicting perspectives of the colonists towards the growing hostilities yet will still delight historical romance readers. Anne Holman provides a wonderful eighteenth century Americana tale that will please historical and romance fans.

Where Mercy Flows
Karen Harter
Center Street (Warner)
ISBN: 1931722609, $12.95

Seven years ago teenager Samantha Dodd eloped with her boyfriend causing a strain with her mother and sister, but especially with her father, the "Judge". Over five years she had an extramarital affair that led to her giving birth to a boy, TJ. Her husband walked out on her and their marriage. Samantha was too proud to go home and face the judgment of her father until now. Ailing, lacking health insurance and afraid for TJ, Samantha returns to the home of her parents in Stillaguamish Valley, Washington. Samantha's mom and sister welcome her and TJ with open arms. She also hits it off with childhood friend Donnie Duncan, who has always loved Samantha. However, her relationship with the Judge remains strained as she feels he judges her as a failure. When he learns that she suffers from a viral heart disease that will lead to his beloved daughter's death and danger from a stalker, the Judge takes action from the heart to stop the assailant and to learn from his friend Dr. Matt what he can do to save the life of his daughter. This is a fabulous character driven tale in which Samantha will soon learn what true love really is. The cast is strong as each of the family members seems real and the dynamics with Samantha at the center fabulous as she sees her mom fears she will leave again; sis prays for her salvation; and dad remains in judgment. She will realize she has been judge, jury and hang-woman and must pardon herself in this superb heart-wrenching inspirational family drama.

True Believer
Nicholas Sparks
ISBN: 044669651X, $12.95

Scientific American investigative journalist Jeremy Marsh exposes the fakes and charlatans that make supernatural claims, but in his skeptical mind take advantage of people, many of whom are grieving their losses. He enjoys debunking the fraudulent like Clausen who are conmen, but also knows his recent TV outing of this fake has made Jeremy a household name. His next assignment is visiting the real south, Boone Creek, North Carolina where allegedly ghosts of long dead slaves come out every night in the Cedar Creek Cemetery. Though Duke University sent experts last year they failed to explain the eerie lights. Jeremy arrogantly assumes the school failed because they sent true believers instead of a cynic like him. As he begins his inquiry Jeremy meets and falls in love with the librarian Lexie Darnell; she reciprocates. However, she is a TRUE BELIEVER while he is a true skeptic, but what makes their future together doubtful is he plans to expose her beloved grandmother Doris, the town psychic, as a fake though so far he has failed to prove this. A departure from Nicholas Sparks' tragic tale, TRUE BELIEVER is a fun paranormal romance starring two opposites falling in love. The sparks between Jeremy and Lexie would light up the Tarheel State as fans will enjoy their attraction that ignites into love. This is more for romance readers as the mystery of the cemetery spirits lacks suspense; Mr. Sparks' audience will appreciate his fine contemporary while wondering whether the New Yorker and the Tar Heel can forge a relationship.

Stand For Something: The Battle for America's Soul
John Kasich
ISBN: 044657841X, $24.95

Former Ohio republican Congressman turned TV commentator John Kasich makes a strong case that America is in trouble because the moral values that have made the country strong seems abandoned by leaders in and out government. Those in government have been selling their souls to be reelected; those in the private sector have done likewise for the profit margin; and even religious leaders have surrendered the concept of inclusiveness for intolerance. Mr. Kasich makes a plea to regain the America that fought for the rights of everyone. His plea for ethics is well written and though he supports business censorship (not government) he also praises liberal democrats and pounds conservative republicans. His take on the blue-red state debate is fascinating (the "amoral" blue states have a lower divorce rate). Readers, especially those who follow his TV appearances will appreciate his outlook that seeks consensus not the Delay way of killing any opponent regardless of the issue, collateral damage to America or the cost. Remember Mr. Kasich put up when he was in Congress as a key player in the balanced budget debates that led to the Clinton surpluses (ancient history).

Kingdom Come
Tim Green
ISBN: 0446577421, $24.95

James King built his multi-billion dollar empire starting with one back hoe, but he has made many enemies over the years mostly in business. However, it is not the business adversaries that visit his upstate New York mansion on a wintry night. Instead Jessica Coder, wife of his friend and employee Thane, holds James responsible for the death of her oldest child when he refused to help them possibly save the boy's life. She goads her spouse into killing James though afterward Thane struggles to wash away the blood from his hands having used a hunting knife. James's son Bob becomes suspicious when Thane is elected CEO to replace his late father especially the way Jessica easily switches from soccer mom to jet setter. As Bob investigates the death of his dad and the takeover of the Fortune Five Hundred Company, other people are murdered to cover the original crime. To keep his wife quiet and to keep his position of power and money Thane manipulates the mob, the Feds, and the company board into battling one another while fending off Bob. This modernization of Macbeth is an interesting tale, but lacks any character for readers to root for them to triumph and the audience knows that Thane and Jessica are destined to fail. His weakness including visits from the ghost of James and her ambition that pills cannot wash away make her guilt more intense than Bob's obstinacy. Though no Shakespeare, Tim Green's fans will enjoy his latest action-packed crime caper.

Finishing Touches
Deanna Kizis
ISBN: 0446578088, $23.95

Furniture store manager Jesse Holtz has two close friends, Cecile and Bryn who make her feel life is good. Jesse especially is happy for Cecile, who is getting married in a few days to Zach, her college boyfriend. However a tragic auto accident kills Cecile. Bryn and Zach mourn their loss, but not as heavily as Jesse grieves. Zach offers comfort and Jesse accepts it. As they get closer to one another, Bryn feels left out with no one to help her through the loss. Almost one year later, Jesse realizes no one has really moved on something that Cecile would have expected of them. Perhaps the, $50,000 that she inherited from her friend can be put to good use helping everyone fondly remember Cecile and also get on with their lives while she personally can celebrate her growing relationship with Zach resented by seemingly everyone else who insists he belongs to Cecile. FINISHING TOUCHES is an intriguing character study that follows several people going through the phases of grief after a loved one died suddenly in an accident. The key troupe members to include the late Cecile consist of full dimensional caring characters who struggle to come to grips with the tragedy, which leads to new issues between them. Though at times the ensemble support cast seems overwhelming and slows down the insightful story line, contemporary readers will appreciate this often sad, but also at time humorous well written relationship drama.

The Serial Killers Club
Jeff Povey
ISBN: 0446578428, $24.95

The serial killer attacks the man, but somehow he turns the tables and kills his assailant. He goes through his adversary's wallet and finds an invitation to a gala hosted by Errol Flynn. Curious with how a long dead Hollywood actor could sponsor a party, the man decides to attend as the guy he just killed. At the murder celebration, the "intruder" quickly realizes that the eighteen other attendees are killers, who somewhat disguise their real identity by using the moniker of a Hollywood star. The newcomer insists he is Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and makes plans to kill everyone of these predators. Before he gets very far both an FBI agent and the survivors notice their numbers shrinking. The Fed offers clemency if he eliminates the gang while the killers search for the serial killer within their ranks. THE SERIAL KILLERS CLUB is a terrific lampooning of the recent inundation of serial killer novels. The dark thriller stars an anonymous storyteller, who seems so killingly innocent yet once he joins the club becomes the top gun serial killer ironically killing serial killers. Not for everyone (especially fans of "Carole Lombard" or "Cher" to name a few of the peers of "Fairbanks") "Doug's" take on serial killing is a fresh brisk satire.

A Wedding to Die For
Radine Trees Nehring
St. Kitt's Press
ISBN: 1931206015, $16.00

Carrie and retired police officer Henry are getting married, but the bride is discouraged because all the bridal magazines write articles about younger women. Even though she is a senior Carrie wants a fancy wedding with her wearing a beautiful white gown. Her friends Shirley and Eleanor come to the rescue designing her wedding gown and suggesting the ball room at the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs for the reception. When Carrie and Henry arrive at the hotel, the ambience captures her attention and the floral design created by Ashur and Chandra Mukherjee are gorgeous. While speaking with the designers, a shot rings out, but though no one is hurt everyone is shook. Chandra and Ashur inform Carrie that a pair bigot half-sisters Jan and Sonya want the Indians to leave because they are taking business away from them; the siblings harass them and use their influence to destroy the Mukherjee business. That night the soon to be newlyweds find Sonya's body not far from the spot where the Mukherjee's van was parked. A few days later the Mukherjee's store is bombed. Carrie, Henry, Shirley and Eleanor play detective to prove that Chandra and Ashur are innocent of any wrongdoing. A WEDDING TO DIE FOR is an exciting amateur sleuth mystery due in large part to the wedding couple who shows that seniors can find love and can be productive members of society. Their ability to find information helps them work the case as each one of the sleuthing quartet shows a keen mind that the younger generation should honor not dispose of as is the American way. The Mukherjee stand as testimony to immigrants as they believe in the American way and that most people are not racists. As always Radine Trees Nehring proves to be a wonderful storyteller.

In Fury Born
David Weber
ISBN: 1416520546, $27.00

Alice Deries was a loyal Imperial Marine and Drop Commando doing what was necessary for the Empire though she saw many of her peers die in combat. However, a political decision that cost unnecessary lives of her brethren left her outraged and her loyalty shaken as she realizes they are just pawns of the powerful; Alice resigns her commission and starts a sedate family life on Mathison. Space pirates arrive at Mathison destroying the colony. The Empire proves either inept or corrupt or as Alice believes both as they fail to capture the murderous plunderers who killed her family. No longer caring what happens to her, Alice decides to provide justice for those who died in vain when she was military and on Mathison starting with the pirates and anyone connected to them including as she suspects the highest levels of Imperial power. IN FURY BORN is an expansion of the highly regarded PATH OF THE FURY by mostly adding the early background that led to Alicia becoming an avenging angel. The story line is action packed as Alicia performs impossible superhero feats for much of the book. When she is not doing the superwoman deeds she receives reader empathy as fans will understand why she went over the edge; when she is doing the unachievable, her opponents receive some sympathy as everyone expects Alicia to succeed. David Weber provides a fun outer space thriller of the lone cowgirl kicking the butt of government, military, and pirates.

The Red Carpet
Lavanya Sankaran
ISBN: 0385338201, $13.00

These eight stories focus on people from Bangalore where "beggars and billionaires" make up the two caste social system. The tales are well written as conflict exists between rich and poor, tradition and modern, East and West, and religion and secular. Each contribution is well written, poignant and insightful as readers obtain the duality of western influence with some locals believing it is intrusive and destroying a way of life while others welcome the choices and freedoms. Perhaps the best example of the battling sides is "Bombay This," in which thirtyish software programmer Ramu asks his old fashion traditon-based mother to find him a wife. Readers who want something intelligent but different will want to read The Red Carpet anthology as it is worth the time and intriguingly the underlying concepts of conflict between the groups and even between subgroups applies in the United States with issues like abortion.

Squeeze Play
Kate Angell
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526670, $6.99

Tampa Bay Bomber World series hero Richard "Risk" Kincaid is going home to Frostproof, Florida now that the season is over to see Jacy Grayson, who he has loved since high school. However, Jacy sees him as her best buddy, the guy she turns to when her latest romance fizzles. This year at the annual charity event he plans to win her heart. Unbeknownst to Risk is that Jacy has loved him since high school and makes up lovers so that he can mend her so called broken heart. She knows one day she must tell him the truth perhaps at this year's charity event. Stephanie "Stevie" Cole knows her baseball trivia while everyone else knows she loves World Series seventh game losing pitcher Aaron Grayson who is also coming home to Frostproof for the charity event. However, this year Aaron brings two people with him, a dreaded fiancee Natalie and his roommate Zen Driscoll, who at first sight finds himself half in love with Stevie. This is a fun baseball romance with two (and indirectly three) tales of love though the main story line follows the escapades of Risk and Jacy. The lead male risks everything with a bottom of the ninth suicide squeeze that will leave him with Jacy or striking out into a double play as both will end miserable. The supporting role players, Stevie and Zen, and to a lesser degree Aaron and Natalie also score as readers will enjoy the off season capers of baseball stars and the women they love.

Completely Irresistible
Sheridon Smythe
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526689, $6.99

With the death of her evil wealthy grandmother Amelia Hancock, Kasidy Evans decides to find the tape that the witch used as blackmail over her father. However, Kasidy is taken aback when she overhears family lawyer Drucilla Jacob imply while talking with her grandma's escort Wyatt Love that he was more than just a companion at events; he apparently was her lover. That explains why Wyatt has temporarily control over the fortune and the three poodles that Amelia loved more than her human relatives. Wyatt offers Kasidy the position of canine caretaker, which she accepts as this gives her the opportunity to search for the tape that has controlled her father's behavior and kept him from returning home to Atlanta. However, nothing goes right as others seem to seek items too. Making matters worse as she tries to avoid her "boy toy" employer, Kasidy feels like a traitor as she is attracted to Wyatt; making her wonder about her own values. Fans of an amusing contemporary romance will enjoy this delightful tale starring two strong protagonists with the wrong concept of the other and one of the best supporting casts in years. The story line moves forward based on the misconceptions that Kasidy and to a lesser degree Wyatt believe are true about one another even as neither want to fall in love because of them, but do anyway. As with COMPLETELY YOURS (starring Wyatt's twin), fans will find this fun tale COMPLETELY IRRESISTIBLE.

Prince of Ice
Stobie Piel
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526514, $6.99

The mages of Woodland in Amrodel have been caught unaware from the evil of the Arch Mage who has put many of them into a comatose sleep. This is the first step by the malevolent being to escape his tomb incarceration. The last hope in the Woodlands rests with Cahira. She is provided with the dragonfly sword, the only know weapon that can kill the Arch Mage, and a shield containing what little is left of magical prowess by the mages. Her quest is to find the Warrior of the Light, the only person who can use the sword. However, by seeking this champion she has also provided the Arch Mage the second step in his resurrection. When Cahira meets Aren, chief of the Norsk she feels she has found the hero to battle the Arch Mage. They, accompanied by his men, begin the journey to the catacomb of the Arch Mage for the final confrontation. PRINCE OF ICE is a fun coming of age fantasy in which the young champions are learning on the job while fighting an invincible opponent with the stakes being the world (talk about pressure). Cahira and Aren is an interesting paring as their respective people have an adversarial history while the Arch Mage is cleverly kept in the shadows making him seem even more powerful and sinister. Fans of quest fantasies will find this tale quite appealing.

Steel Sky
Andrew E. Murphy
per Aspera Press
1425 N. 46th St., Seattle, Wa. 98103-6711
ISBN: 0974573450, $24.95

After a series of global catastrophes, the Founders built the Hypogeum a city two kilometers underground. After almost over four centuries, it is vastly overcrowded, a quarter to a million people live in a place designed for fifty thousand. There are fourteen levels, and the higher the class designation a person is assigned the closer they live to the top of the city. The inhabitants have no idea there is a surface where people once lived or a real sun and moon. The air outside the buildings of the Hypogeum is poisonous due to the toxic waste produced on the lower levels. People need respirators to breathe once they leave a building and the whole city is ruled by the corrupt Orcus whose heir Second Son is a weak bully and a sexual predator. The people are controlled by Orcus using a technology that only his family knows about. A feeling of hopelessness pervades the city until the mythical Winnower returns killing corrupt officials and giving hope to people who need a champion. He has no idea that his appearance will signal the destruction of civilization as he knows it. STEEL SKY is an imaginative work that draws the reader into the exciting, character driven storyline and keeps them there until they reach the end of the tale. The Hypogeum is a bleak place where euthanasia for the sick or destitute is mandatory and the human body is recycled for various needs of the city. It is an intricately detailed world that the readers can see in the mind's eye, a place that makes an impoverished war torn nation seem like paradise. Andrew C. Murphy is a gifted storyteller who creates characters that are a microcosm of humanity.

Ten Thousand Charms
Allison Pittman
ISBN: 1590525752, $12.99

Pregnant Gloria returns to the nearest thing she can call home, Jewel Gunn's fancy brothel in Silver Peak, Wyoming Territory where she expects her former mentor to perform an abortion for her. However, Gloria changes her mind, but plans to abandon the baby at the brothel so she can reclaim her freedom. Also pregnant is haughty Katherine, wife of miner John William MacGregan. The two women give birth with Gloria surviving quite nicely after her daughter is born while Katherine dies after her son is born. John pays Gloria to be his son's "milk cow". However, when he concludes that the mine will close soon, he persuades Gloria to take her child and come with him and his son to start over in Oregon. She agrees to remain the cow if he raises her daughter as is; her plan being to leave them once the infants no longer depend on her milk. As she meets the kind Maureen Brewster who encourages her to believe that even a whore has room in the Lord's tent, tragedy strikes the unorthodox family, which in the past would have driven Gloria away, but this time she has a chance for a better life if she accepts God's grace. This is an interesting Americana romantic character study that looks deep into the mindset of a prostitute who sees a bleak future for herself. The cozy story line allows the reader to understand Gloria and why she feels the Lord would never accept someone like her. John and Maureen add friendship, love, and belief to the fine mid nineteenth century tale, but this is Gloria's story.

The Soul Hunter
Melanie Wells
ISBN: 1590524276, $12.99

SMU psychology Professor Dr. Dylan Foster returns home to find a bloody axe at her door. Her boyfriend funeral home director David Shykofsky arrives soon after and calls the cops. Detective Jackson of Dallas Police Department arrives and wonders if Dylan is pulling a stunt though he cannot fathom a motive. The next morning the police find a dead nineteen years old student Drew Sturdivent killed by an axe. However Detective Jackson and his partner Mike McKnight quickly rule that Dylan did not commit the homicide, but they do have a viable suspect, though no in custody. However, Dylan wonders if evil lumberjack Peter Terry has returned seeking souls. The return of Dylan and the evil Peter makes for a superb intriguing tale in which the eternal war between good and evil is fought within each person's soul. Dylan remains a reluctant heroine still not grasping the battle she is in yet knowing much more as to whom the real enemy is. Her prime defense is God, but at times she doubts the Lord is nearby. Fans will enjoy this police procedural suspense thriller that plays out on two planes mostly the mortal but always lurking is the SOUL HUNTER.

Sisterchicks in Gondolas
Robin Jones Gunn
ISBN: 1590525051, $12.99

Sam, head of an international missionary based in Europe, invites Jenna to cook at a leaders' retreat in Venice; he also gives her a second free ticket so she can bring a friend. Jenna muses that she had not heard form Sam in years and that the one time she came along as a cook she stunk at it. However, something inside her says this is right so she plans to go and knows immediately who she will invite to travel with her from Dallas for a week at a fifteenth century restored palace. She asks her sister-in-law of three decades Sue who has been her best friend of about the last five years to accompany her. In Venice, Steph meets the sisterchicks as they eat gelato in Campo Apostoli and escorts them to the extravagant palace they are staying. The two American visitors easily fall into the soft warm lifestyle of gondolas while making pastas for the retreat's attendees. As Venetia enters their hearts, they gain courage to live life to the fullest; something neither has tried in a long time out of fear of failure and self pity and ridicule. Die hard fans of the series or newcomers will enjoy the latest sisterchicks tale. The pairing of two middle age women is fun as Jenna and Sue are genuine friends who take Venetia by storm as they have several adventures and escapades while readers enjoy their guided tour of the canals. Though obviously somewhat like the previous five tales, SISTERCHICKS IN GONDOLAS is a fun gambol that as always cherish the loving friendship between women.

Time Dancers
Steve Cash
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345470931, $14.95

In 1919 Zianno "Z" Zezen, a Meq-American, is about to turn twelve for the twentieth time since he has yet to meet his soul mate, Z remains a preteen. This is the norm for his Basque ancestry who never age past twelve until they meet the one. He feels pretty good about coming home to St. Louis, but soon learns that he cannot stay long as the Time of the Remembering is upon his people. However, he and his associates are busy at the moment; lethal Meq Fleur-du-Mal feels the necessity to commit genocide of his immortal race. He has a compatriot Zuriaa who assists him by abducting the oldest known living Meq the matriarch Susheela the Ninth in order to force her to reveal to them location of the mystical Sixth Stone that could lead to a pandemic eradication. Z and his cronies must once again stop Fleur du-Mal. The sequel to THE MEQ, TIME DANCERS is a wild zany science fiction thriller that uses real twentieth century historical points and persona as anchors though several of the choices seem to flakily fluky to fit the plot. The story line is all over the place. But smoothly moves forward. Z and his family and friends remain fascinating characters while the assassin Fleur du-Mal seems even more deranged this time around. Fans of zany way out science fiction thrillers will enjoy Steve Cash's latest entertaining madcap ride.

The Candle of Distant Earth
Alan Dean Foster
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345461312, $23.95, 242 pp.

On the planet Hyff, an astronomer sees three ships approaching and fear the Iollth are approaching as they do every century or so to loot and plunder. The Hyffs are pacifists by nature and simply do not have the military mindset to wage war even on an enemy. However, the ships the astronomer saw are not from Iollth but are Nyyuan carrying Marcus Walker, the sentient speaking canine George, the squid like creature Sque and the giant Braouk from the planet Tuuqalia. These four aliens have been abducted from their homeworlds by the Vilenjii traders who believe sentient beings are commodities to be taken. The astronomers of Hyff find Braouk's planet but before they can travel there the Iollth arrive. The people of Hyff have been so kind and helpful to them, they find they can't leave without solving the Iollth problem. On Braouk's world they find the homeworld of Sque and once they arrive there, the isolationist egotistical beings of K'eremu refuse to help George and Marcus find earth because it is not their problem. Readers are treated to a tour of the galaxy filled with sentient aliens of all shapes and sizes. It is a dazzling universe and Earth is considered such an isolated backwater place, nobody knows where it is. Allen Dean Foster has written an excellent Star Wars like novel that dazzles the readers with characters that are so realistic and unusual. There is plenty of action but what makes this tale stand out from others is that that these different worlds are explored in intricate detail.

After the Rice
Wendy French
ISBN: 0765313766, $12.95

In Victoria, Canada, Megan and Matt have not yet celebrated their first anniversary together, but she feels overwhelmed and stressed out by the demands of both their families. She believes she has enough on her plate with returning to school and just the typical adjustments that any couple in their first year as husband and wife goes through though they are obviously in love with one another. Her older sister Karen, still breast-feeding, needs a break before she suffers a breakdown so she unceremoniously dumps her "Pink Tyrant" of an infant off on Megan while their other sibling Andrea nests on the couch. Worse, her drunken Uncle Tony takes over the cottage's basement. Finally with mid-terms coming soon, her in-laws scheduled an anniversary dinner on the same date and time that Megan and Matt are expected to attend a gala at her great-aunt's home in which Megan's parents expect them there. However, the real cloud is that Megan believes she is pregnant though she and Matt agreed to never have children. As she struggles with what to do, she finds herself never alone with Matt to simply talk with him about how he feels now that she is carrying. This zany tale contains a strong subplot about pregnancy which is handled deftly while never losing the wit or denigrating the personnel decision. The story line is filled with an ensemble cast, but each including the dog and the tyrant has distinct personalities emphasized by their demands and wants. Megan is terrific as the focus of the plot as she goes from beleaguered to over the edge. Fans of family dramas filled with humor and seriousness that blend brilliantly together will appreciate this strong look at relationships AFTER THE RICE is tossed.

Cat in a Quicksilver Caper
Carole Nelson Douglas
ISBN: 0765314002, $19.95

Midnight Louie wants his human pet Vegas public relations specialist Temple Barr's two lovers, former magician turned something Max Kinsella and former priest turned radio host Matt Devine, to limit their stay in his home especially his bed. It is bad enough she has two duds and one stud in her life, Louie wonders how a flaming fireball redhead became a bleached blonde though he appreciate that Temple has stayed out of trouble enabling Louie to investigate female felines. However, Louie should have known better as trouble is defined as Temple. She prepares the publicity for the White Russian Czarist art exhibition at the New Millennium Hotel; however, nothing goes smooth as the pre-show publicity is not about the art, but instead a puzzling death. The publicity fails to improve when a deadly accident occurs during the opening. Besides the deaths that look suspicious to Louie, someone steals the prime exhibit item, the priceless Czar Alexander's scepter. Louie searches for the scepter and a killer as he believes the accident was a homicide while Matt proposes to Temple and LVPD Detective Carmen Molina claims Max is stalking her. All is normal even with evil Synth magicians plotting a nefarious sleight of the paw – it is Louie's memoirs. Though he has gone through his second set of nine lives, Midnight Louie's latest cat-escapades are brisk fun as his companion lands them in several capers including bedroom visitors. The story line is fast-paced as Temple learns that blondes have more fun might be misleading with murder, theft, and the Synth to deal with. Fans of the series will appreciate Louie's usual on target asides re the foibles of humans and his efforts to keep Temple safe. CAT IN A QUICKSILVER CAPER is a purrfect Midnight Louie feline sleuth extraordinaire.

I Went to Vassar for This?
Naomi Neale
Making It
ISBN: 0505526867, $6.99

In New York City Cathy Vorhees thought she was on the fast track to the executive suite, but instead lost the Retro Freezer account and was fired. Stunned and despondent she goes home with a Retro freezer Classic TV dinner that she tosses into her microwave. However, her day in hell is topped when her microwave fails, emitting a strange light. When she awakens from the microwave disaster, Cathy finds herself in 1959 living as prim and proper office dictator Cathy Voight. Before she suffers a heart attack or is murdered by one of her frightened employees, Cathy tries to mellow out though pork, sugar and office sexual harassment makes her wonder where the happy days are. Still she expects to wake up from this nightmare and never eat a Retro Freezer dinner again even as her roommates Tilly and Miranda persuade her that they are real and her confusion was caused by an electric shock. Still she confides much in hunky Hank, her landlord, and seeks her way back to the future. Mindful of Peggy Sue Got Married; I WENT TO VASSAR FOR THIS? is a wonderful time travel chick lit tale starring a heroine who uses sarcasm to hide her fear and to disguise her disgust with conditions at the end of the Eisenhower years. Cathy is a fabulous protagonist unable to cope with the suppressive submissive role of women, seeing fur coats on people walking Manhattan streets, and the lack of non sugared products. To her twenty-first century eyes, 1959 Manhattan is a backwater pig leading her to desperately find a way and Back to the Future.

Coupon Girl
Becky Motew
Making It
ISBN: 0843956933, $12.95

Thirty-six years old single Jeanie Callahan feels like she is in a rut having no date and selling coupons for a living. To find a life, she decides to audition for a role in the community production of The Sound of Music directed by Barton. Jeanie feels good about landing a part in the chorus though she has doubts about going on stage. She and Barton sort of have a relationship, but where that is going Jeanie has no idea. Finally her boss expects her to increase her sales of coupons or else. She wonders if she should try to sell them at the community theater, which could push away Barton, but if she does not that can alienate her boss. Jeanie ponders the age old key question of the universe: food or love. COUPON GIRL is an odd fascinating contemporary tale starring an interesting at times likable but at other times insipid heroine. Jeanie's insight into her "vocation" of selling coupons is intriguingly different. Becky Motew provides an interesting look at an everyday person trying to reinvent herself (perhaps a bit too long as coupons can only go so far) as she believes there is more to life than coupons (don't let her boss know that she has treacherous taboo thoughts).

The Stork Reality
Malena Lott
Making It
ISBN: 0843957255, $6.99

In Dallas Jake and Taylor Montgomery are dinks (double income no kids) as they work hard (he is an attorney and she is an advertising creative director), love sex, and enjoy traveling especially on vacations. Neither of them planned on rugrats when they drew up their five year plan, at least no children until he made partner. However, feeling odd especially when he hums I'm in the Mood for Love" and she is not, Taylor buys the notorious kit only to realize the strip turned pink. While Taylor adapts to gaining weight and no martinis with chocolate, Jake is beyond himself unable to deal with the nuking of what he once thought his perfect home. Work becomes increasingly difficult for Taylor. As Jake considers leaving his beloved wife on the grounds of mental cruelty, the couple begins to slowly adapt and reassess their values. THE STORK REALITY is an interesting look at how pregnancy alters, in this case nukes, the lifestyle of couples. The lead couple's adjustment is handled deftly but that also means less conflict once Taylor and especially Jake become accepting. The support cast seems interchangeable one dimensional nice carbs troupe with everyone supportive of the lead pair (kept waiting for a knife in the back from either his or her peers, but that never came). Still, in spite of the mellowing of everyone, fans will enjoy this relationship drama highlighted by a pregnancy torpedoing a lifestyle.

Frederick Ramsay
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590582845, $24.95, 254 pp.

One morning mystery writer Frank Smith's wife went out walking, but never returned home. The police especially the detective in charge believe he killed her for the insurance money. The cops never pursued any other potential suspects concentrating exclusively on Frank. The writer attends his fiftieth prep school reunion in Maryland having not been on the campus since he graduated because his brother committed suicide after being expelled from there after an accusation by another student. At the school Frank meets his childhood sweetheart Rosemary. The two seniors hit off romantically. Frank is challenged to solve a mystery that has haunted the school for twenty-five years. A group of boys were seen entering Old Oak Woods, but never came out. Frank and Rosemary search the records and interview people when his wife's body is found. Sergeant Ledezma digs deep to prove Frank killed her. IMPULSE is an entertaining cerebral mystery that contains two simultaneously running investigative subplots. Frederick Ramsey effortlessly guides his audience back and forth between the police inquiry and Frank's prep school case keeping readers' attention on both. The protagonist proves that life continues in spite of the clouds hanging over him and his advancing years. Mr. Ramsey tells a strong tale that keeps fans guessing whether Frank did it or not until the final moment.

Flying Too High
Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590582373, $22.95, 166 pp.

In the three months that the Honorable Phyrne Fisher has lived in Australia, she has made a name for herself as an investigator who always solves her cases. She solved a case for a woman who travels in high society circles and that woman gives Phyrne's business a glowing recommendation to her friends. Her latest client Mrs. McNaughton is afraid that her son will kill her husband because he refuses to lend his son money to go on an airplane adventure. At the airport Phyrne talks to Bill McNaughton and tells her about her mother's fears and he tells he was never intending to kill his father. Bill's friend Jack Lawton is amazed as he watches Phyrne fly Bill's plane with much skill. The next day Phyrne learns that Mr. McNaughton has been murdered and Bill has been arrested. When he is released on bail he hires Phyrne to find the real killer. While she works that case Candida Maldon is kidnapped and held for ransom. Jack convinces the family to hire Phyrne, who she devises a plan using Bill's plane to find and retrieve the kidnapped girl. Solving Bill's problem is a piece of cake in comparison. Kerry Greenwood is one of Australia's most talented mystery writers. Her heroine is a woman who would be at home in the twenty-first century but since she lives in the 1920's she is careful to project a proper image while still doing what she wants. The wily, spunky heroine somehow makes the audience believe she is smart enough to easily solve two cases in a matter of days while the exotic locale will please armchair travelers.

Putting Lipstick on a Pig
Michael Bowen
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 159058287X, $24.95

Attorney Mackenzie Stewart calls Indiana lawyer Reppert "Rep" Pennyworth with bad news that peer Vance Hayes is dead. Seriously responding Rep asks Mac what is the bad news; as serious, Mac informs Rep that Vance had selected him to do the eulogy. Rep tells his wife Melissa he detested the nasty odious Vance, who tried to destroy Rep's legal career. Rep learns that Vance died when his snowmobile broke through thin ice in the Wisconsin Dells. Law enforcement assumes Hayes committed unconscious suicide because of an inability to cope with diabetes. Two years later Rep is in Milwaukee looking into whether his Indianapolis based law firm should open an office here. Colleague Walt Kuchinski sends Vietnamese-American court reporter Sue Key to him over a photo of her in a calendar "Pretty Girls Smoking Cigarettes; the woman insists she agreed to the picture, but the background was altered to make it look like she smokes, which she never has. A letter signed by Vance to Sue's mom mentioning Kuchinski opens Rep's eyes as it sounds like the dead rat did a nice thing. Intrigued he takes Sue's case that leads to the heart of Milwaukee's Hmong community, but soon uncovers evidence that Hayes was murdered because of doing that good deed. This is a fascinating Pennyworth legal thriller that though it has deep interesting insight into trademark and copyright law and litigation, in many ways is more an investigative thriller. Rep feels some guilt as his lousy eulogy two years before the Key case haunts him though he believes his words fit the nasty Hayes. The whodunit contains terrific icy twists that will send readers spinning for his two previous appearances (see SCREENSCAM and UNFORCED ERROR).

Iron Ties
Ann Parker
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590582624, $24.95

In 1880 the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad is coming to the mining boom town of Leadville, Colorado high in the Rocky Mountains. Most folks welcome the train though many have concerns. However, a few have much more than unease that the train might bring with it crime; this group has other plans for the shining silvery tracks that await the arrival of the first train carrying eastern dignitaries and VIPs like President Ulysses S. Grant. They blow up a section of the mountain causing a rock slide to bury the track. Silver Queen Saloon part owner Inez Stannert is one of those mixed souls as she knows her business will boom, but fears the type of clientele that will arrive. She misses her son William who is staying with his aunt by the sea to help heal his weak lungs; her spouse and William's dad Mark remains missing while Reverend Justice Sands makes his intentions clear to her. Inez finds badly injured photographer Susan Carothers near the site where the tracks were buried. Susan mentions murder and the killing of Generals. Unable to resist out of a fear that something bad is coming to her town, Inez investigates not yet realizing that the Civil War is not over in the minds of some. IRON TIES is a terrific Reconstruction Era mystery that provides the audience with a deep look at the period when official hostilities were over, but passions still flared into violence. The story line in many ways is more of a historical thriller though Inez's amateur sleuth investigation is deftly handled and the cast three dimensional. Ann Parker provides a delightful late nineteenth century Americana investigative tale.

Burden of Memory
Vicki Delaney
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590582667, $24.95

Elaine Benson wrote two highly regarded biographies of pioneer Canadian women when she fell in love and married. Her husband persuaded her that the money is in screenplays so they teamed up with Elaine doing the research. However, Elaine obtained a divorce and left Hollywood for Toronto and applied for the job of writing the true story of wealthy elderly Miss Moira Madison. She obtains the position, but learns that Donna Smithton had the job for one week before accidentally drowning in nearby Lake Muskoka. Moira, as she prefers to be called, fears that the talented Elaine will uncover family secrets from the war days that she does not want revealed. Instead Moira prefers most of the bio to be concentrated on her work with the Canadian Army Nursing Sisters of World War II. However, Elaine, who moves into a nearby cottage, begins to uncover questions that link the so called accidental drowning by Donna to events during the late 1930s and early 1940s. Someone will kill to insure that certain secrets remain buried. She wonders if the man she recently met in Moira's home and is half in love with, Alan Manners, is behind the attempts to keep secrets hidden. This is an interesting Canadian amateur sleuth thriller that works because Elaine is believable as she has the skills to analyze documents and uncover secrets. Her inquiries start off innocently but as she begins to comprehend what she is digging up, danger mounts and she ponders who to trust including those she cares about like her client and Alan. BURDEN OF MEMORY uses some flashbacks to tell the backdrop WWII story, but whether it is past or present Vicki Delaney provides a wonderful cozy.

Butterflies in May
Karen Hart
ISBN: 1890862444, $16.95

High school senior Ali Parker has always been careful about sex, but she has never been in love before. Now a seventeen-year old and applying to nearby Northeastern, she has met her soul mate Pratt Institute bound Matt Ryan, a talented artist. Since Matt is planning on attending school in New York, Ali applies to Columbia and NYU, noted journalist schools as is her interest, so they can be a subway ride away from each other. However, objectives change when Ali becomes pregnant. She must decide what to do. The choices are obvious but none simple. Her loving parents want the best for her, but they also want to make that choice. Her boyfriend Matt is confused and bewildered; one moment feeling they can do it if he gives up his artistic dreams and she her journalistic endeavors to raise the child as a married couple; the next just wanting to attend college with no responsibilities except grades. Her best friend Monica is there for her, but Ali knows in the end everything is up to her. BUTTERFLIES IN MAY is an insightful look at teen pregnancies through the eyes of an intelligent, cautious female who abruptly finds herself needing to make difficult adult decisions, Ali holds the tale together as she struggles with her world reversing polarity from a somewhat carefree existence to making complex adult choices. Karen Hart provides a deep character study-family drama in which the emphasis is to provide teens with honest education, information and knowledge instead of sound bites, shrills, and platitudes. Parents and leaders need to be there not preach as sometimes even a careful person can land in a sticky situation.

Dirt Cheap
Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Curbstone Press
13783 Legend Way, Suite 101, Broomfield, Co.80021
ISBN: 1931896291, $15.95, 370 pp.

Three years ago tenured professor Nicholas Baran flew to California to get a bone marrow transplant donated from his brother when he was diagnosed with leukemia. He has since gone into remission but he believes that he contracted cancer because of where he lives; Yellow Springs Heights is sitting on toxic waste courtesy of the Hometown Chemical Company that was sold to a company that ironically manufactures cancer drugs. Nick spends a large part of his day testing samples of homes where people with cancer have died and gathering the names and addresses of people who are sick with cancer hoping to prove that leaking canisters of toxic waste poisoned the water supply, the wells and the land. When his cancer comes back, Nick is determined to stay alive until he can get all the records so the survivors or the families of those who died can file a class action against the company. Bringing down the company that brought so much misery into peoples' lives becomes Nick's mission in life and like many champions who fight the good fight; Nick becomes a hero in spite of himself. Readers will cry for him, sympathize with his plight and believe he is the kind of person most people want to be. DIRT CHEAP could have been a melancholy, haunting book but author Lyn Miller-Lachmann makes her theme the thriving of the human spirit in the face of extreme pain and hardship.

Dirt Cheap
Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Curbstone Press
ISBN: 1931896291, $15.95, 370 pp.

Three years ago tenured professor Nicholas Baran flew to California to get a bone marrow transplant donated from his brother when he was diagnosed with leukemia. He has since gone into remission but he believes that he contracted cancer because of where he lives; Yellow Springs Heights is sitting on toxic waste courtesy of the Hometown Chemical Company that was sold to a company that ironically manufactures cancer drugs. Nick spends a large part of his day testing samples of homes where people with cancer have died and gathering the names and addresses of people who are sick with cancer hoping to prove that leaking canisters of toxic waste poisoned the water supply, the wells and the land. When his cancer comes back, Nick is determined to stay alive until he can get all the records so the survivors or the families of those who died can file a class action against the company. Bringing down the company that brought so much misery into peoples' lives becomes Nick's mission in life and like many champions who fight the good fight; Nick becomes a hero in spite of himself. Readers will cry for him, sympathize with his plight and believe he is the kind of person most people want to be. DIRT CHEAP could have been a melancholy, haunting book but author Lyn Miller-Lachmann makes her theme the thriving of the human spirit in the face of extreme pain and hardship.

The Marcelli Bride
Susan Mallery
ISBN: 0743499573, $6.99

The four kidnappers wearing Halloween masks abduct the president's daughter Darcy Jensen from a private bathroom in a store. When they reach their van, their leader looks at Darcy in disgust and informs his thugs they snatched the wrong one as no one cares what happens to this loser. They unceremoniously leave her behind in the parking lot as they re-plot how to grab Darcy's glamorous popular sister Lauren. For their safety, the two siblings are sent to separate safehouses. After a harrowing overseas ops scenario, Lieutenant Commander Joe Larson and his men are happy to be alive and back in the States. The celebration leads to boat races into a training area that consequently led to the destruction of the admiral's personal pride and joy ship. Joe is punished by being assigned to protect Darcy at the Marcelli Vineyards. Joe is stunned with this task as he only recently learned that he is a Marcelli. Amidst the vineyards and a family trying to bring him into their loving fold, Joe and Darcy fall in love, but first he must keep her safe. This is a terrific Marcelli saga tale (see THE SPARKLING ONE and THE SASSY ONE) as humor and suspense make for a fun tale. The story line is filled with action from the moment that the kidnappers throw away Darcy as a "used tissue" and never slows down until the final confrontation between Joe and POTUS in the hospital. Susan Mallery provides a fine blending of the First daughter meets the Marcelli clan in a compelling thriller.

JoAnn Ross
ISBN: 1416501657, $7.50

In Savannah, Georgia, undercover cop Will Bridger is an adrenalin junkie who loves his rush especially when he deals with a dangerous suspect. That changes when the widower is shot and nearly killed. As he heals, he realizes he is not afraid of dying, but fears that if he dies no one would be there for his teenage son Josh. Will accepts the job of Sheriff of his hometown Hazard, Wyoming ignoring the objections of a hostile Josh. However, Will's assumption of nothing dangerous happening here is quickly destroyed when someone mutilates and murders Olympic caliber ice skater Erin Gallagher. As he investigates the gruesome homicide that has shaken the 2642 residents of the "Rooftop of America", radio talk host Faith Prescott also investigates. Will knows he is dealing with a dangerous serial killer and fears that the feisty reporter he is falling in love with could be next. Though serial killers have become too frequent as the underpinning of police procedural romances, JoAnn Ross refreshes the sub-genre with the locale, an isolated small town where the image remains just what Will remembers where nothing bad happens. As Will learns you can't go home since that memory is never the same as the return. He struggles with stopping a killer in front of media frenzy, keeping his son safe and in line, and falling in love with the enemy, a reporter. Fans will appreciate Ms. Ross' strong romantic crime thriller.

Much Ado in the Moonlight
Lynn Kurland
ISBN: 0515141275, $7.99

Producer Victoria McKinnon is exhilarated that her wealthy brother Thomas is allowing her to produce Hamlet at his Thorpewold Castle in England. Victoria thinks a genuine old castle adds flavor to the staging of the Shakespearean masterpiece. However, Thomas failed to inform Victoria of a minor problem, Connor MacDougal, the grumpy resident ghost who not only opposes people especially women because he was betrayed by his wife when he was alive eight centuries ago; he also is irate that they plan to butcher the Bard. Victoria is not one to back down from a specter, but is outraged that her sibling failed to warn her. Still on with the show, but instead of causing further trouble, Connor finds himself attracted to Victoria and wants to help her achieve her goal because he finally has met his true love; alas there is a slight problem as she is mortal and he is dead. Few writers if any can merge humor with the supernatural inside a star-crossed romance as well as the incomparable Lynn Kurland can consistently does. If you believe that just try this novel, MUCH ADO IN THE MOONLIGHT, or Ms. Kurland's terrific time travel tales like DREAMS OF STARDUST; you will be a fan after reading any of those. Her latest entry is a terrific paranormal romance starring a crusty creaky ghost and the enthusiastic human female who brings him to life for the first time in his existence. Sub-genre fans will curl around this one sitting treat.

When Light Breaks
Patti Callahan Henry
ISBN: 0451218345, $12.95

Twenty-seven years old Kara Larsen feels the stress of planning her wedding to PGA star Peyton Ellis is worth the pressure. However, in spite of no time between her job with the PGA and her upcoming nuptials, Kara fulfills a commitment she made to her South Carolina hometown based Palmetto Pointe Junior Society by visiting nonagenarian Maeve Mahoney at the Verandah House Nursing Faculty. However, instead of a quick one time trip, Kara finds Maeve fascinating as the older woman relates the story of her first love in such a lyrical way that the visitor wonders if this is fiction. She returns several times to hear more. Finally Maeve encourages her not to settle, but to find her true love. Kara thinks back to Jack Sullivan, her first love and ponders whether she is doing the right thing by marrying Peyton. She decides to search for Jack if for no other reason so that she has no regrets when she is ninety-six and telling some youngster about the love of her life. This is a fascinating character study that concentrates on pivotal moments in which one makes a life decision. Kara and Maeve are fabulous protagonists as they discuss love and choices. Readers will commiserate with Kara even if you feel you made the right selection for you in terms of a significant other because her doubts ring genuine with application to any selecting of a critical path in life.

Lime Ricky
Jill Winters
ISBN: 0451218361, $13.95

After three years at a deluxe resort in Carmel, California and having just broken up with her boyfriend, Gretchen Darrow accepts a job at the Cooking Channel in New York working on the Susanna Tate show. When her cousin Dana leaves scented candles burning, their Manhattan flat catches fire. Firefighter Broderick "Rick" Pellucci puts out the "girlie fire" and afterward scornfully lectures Gretchen. Coincidentally, Rick's brother Romeo Romero is a star on the Cooking Channel. He asks Rick to protect him from death threats that both take seriously except for those moments when the firefighter encounters Gretchen. However, Rick thinks that Gretchen wants to sue him to gain access to Romeo. Still when one of the staffers dies from poisoned mushrooms, Rick and Jill investigate finding evidence that makes his sibling the prime suspect. LIME RICKY is a JUST PEACHY romantic mystery starring a likable heroine and a wonderful at times grumpy male. The cozy is fun to follow as Rick with Jill's help investigate a homicide that increasingly looks like Romeo committed the deed even as they fall in love, but he cannot accept a beauty like her would choose him over his handsome sibling. The coincidence of the Cooking Channel aside, Jill Winters concocts another tasty drink.

On, Off
Colleen McCullough
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743286421, $25.95

In 1965 in Holloman, Connecticut, Chubb University Professor Robert Smith calls Police Captain Danny Marciano to inform the cop that the Hughlings Jackson Center for Neurological Research assistants have found part of a body of a woman in their dead animal refrigerator. Danny assigns his best detective, Lieutenant Carmine Delmonico to lead the investigation at Hughlings Jackson Center affectionately known by the research staff as the Hug. Having just come off of solving a domestic double homicide, Carmine knows he will miss breakfast unlike his two Sergeants, Corey Marshall and Abe Goldberg since they ate already. Carmine, Corey, and Abe head to the Hug to meticulously search for clues left behind by an apparently vicious killer, but find little evidence left behind by the clever culprit. As the cops keep digging, Carmine learns of other recent victims of mixed racial females by a rapist-killer who severs the heads of his victims probably as some form of a trophy. As he dubs his target as being the "Ghost" because he leaves nothing remotely identifying who he is, the media goes on "the Connecticut Monster" frenzy. ON, OFF is always on target as a terrific 1960s police procedural that showcases an investigation into a serial killer at a time when the forensic information database age was at best in diapers. The background, for instance the outage in the Black communities over the profile of the targets adds a sense of the era. Carmine is a fabulous lead character struggling with an impossible case that he begins to believe has historical roots while the killer seems frighteningly real and particularly vicious. Colleen McCullough provides a superb historical serial killer thriller.

The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril
Paul Malmont
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743287851, $24.00

In 1937, best-selling pulp writers, William "The Shadow" Gibson and Lester "Doc Savage" Dent work on real mysteries in an egotistical effort to be crowned the best action-adventurer writer in the world. Gibson, hearing whispers that pulp peer H.P. Lovecraft was murdered at the Providence, Rhode Island waterfront, is in town making inquiries. At the same time Dent investigates an impossible homicide in New York's Chinatown. However, the two authors find their separate cases merge as they get caught in the middle of a tong war and battle pirates. That might frighten off most writers, but not the Shadow of Doc Savage as their inspections spin further out of control with war in China chemical weapons as part of the arsenal. At the rate Gibson and Dent are going they might miss spinning the next installment of the Shadow and Doc Savage, but then again collaboration in writing might prove novel. Impossible absolutely; yet no one will care as Paul Malmont pays homage to the great pulp fiction writers (others appear too) of the 1930s and 1940s. The zany story line is fast-paced and quite entertaining hooking readers from start to finish even as the audience anticipates who will show up next. THE CHINATOWN DEATH CLOUD PERIL is great escape fun as pulp fiction is supposed to be.

The Cold Moon
Jeffery Deaver
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743260937, $26.00, 404 pp.

NYPD Detective Amelia Sachs, while still assigned to police consultant Lincoln Rhyme, a brilliant criminologist, is given her first case to work solo. The official verdict concerning the death of Ben Creely is suicide but his wife is convinced that he was murdered. As Sachs investigates she learns he couldn't have hanged himself because he couldn't tie a knot as his thumb was in a cast. She finds burnt papers in his fireplace that lead her to a bar in New York City and the 118th precinct where rumors persist that certain cops are corrupt making illegal money using their badge. She is also helping Rhyme try and track down the Watchmaker, a stone cold meticulous killer who is targeting certain people and leaves a signature clock behind. So far the bodies of two of his victims have been found and a third one has gone missing. When they track the clocks to where they were bought, the propitiator tells the police that he bought ten clocks which means he is going to kill again. As they race against time to stop him, Amelia discovers some horrible things about her father, which makes her thinks she will have to quit the police force, an action Rhyme is afraid will sever their professional and personal relationship. Jeffery Deaver is one of the best police procedural writers on the market today. The author keeps his series fresh by introducing new characters, one of whom deserves her own series. There is much introspection of the part of Sach as she ponders what to do about her future and Rhyme hopes she stays on the force not only for her sake but for his. THE COLD MOON is full of surprising twists and turns so that readers aren't certain what is truth is and what is misinformation. This is a compelling and exciting work that is heading for the bestsellers list.

Ghost Road Blues
Jonathan Maberry
ISBN: 0786018151, $6.99, 486 pp.

Pine Deep is a small Pennsylvania town that looks quaint and bucolic but great evil resides there and thirty ago, when the blight hit the crops, a serial killer went on a rampage killing many people before he was stopped. The killer Ubel Griswell a man more or less mortal was stopped by the Bone Man who kills him in a dark swampy area where evil flourishes. Walking back to town with blood on his clothing, a bunch of rednecks think he was the killer so they murder him. In the present the blight is back and evil is once again getting ready to rise from the dead. Ubel is stronger and changed from three decades before and he has acolytes who have been waiting for him to rise. After stealing a lot of cocaine and money, mass murderer Karl Ruger crashes his car into a cornfield in Pine Deep. He forces the Guthrie family to do what he wants if they want stay alive. Crow, who is in love with Val Guthrie, is destined to fight Ruger who comes under the domination of Ubel because the evil one has a score to settle with the former police officer. No matter who loses the battle, the war is far from over and will be continued next year in the sequel, DEAD MAN'S SONG. It is hard to believe this is Jonathan Maberry's debut novel because his writing is of such a high caliber and is storyline is comparable to that of a master of writer of the horror. There are many supernatural elements in GHOST ROAD BLUES yet in many ways this book reads more like a thriller, setting to stage for the supernatural battle in the sequel. Great action scenes, a growing sense of foreboding and fine characterizations make this a one sitting reading experience though waiting for the ultimate climax is difficult.

Grown and Sexy
Phillip Thomas Duck
ISBN: 1583145257, $15.00

Freed from a North Carolina prison Leonard Furlow seeks to start anew far from the people he once harmed. He changes his identity to that of his late brother Levar Path and moves to New Jersey to become a minister. Everyone who knows Russell and Bevolyn Sykes assumes they are a happily loving married couple. However, they have major troubles as she tends to more than just look at other men and that threaten to destroy their relationship because he can be nasty. When Bevolyn meets Levar she finds herself attracted to the Minister. Only faith in the Lord and the love of Russell keeps her from breaking a Commandment. Levar struggles with temptation, but does not want to cause harm to a couple that have exchanged their vows in front of the Lord, but fearing a tragedy of sorts, wonders if he is doing the right thing especially by Bevolyn who seems to need more from him than just a tryst. GROWN AND SEXY is a commanding complex character study that enables the audience to see multiple perspectives on complicated often convoluted (not surprising people are involved) issues. The key cast members seem real as each scuffle with concerns that threatens to destroy their equilibrium. The "reborn-again" Levar is the center, who propels the solid story line forward. His relationships with his congregation make for a fabulous realistic tale.

Like Mother, Like Daughter
Jane Sigaloff
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895593, $12.95

Fifty-nine years old Suzie has plenty of dates while her twenty-nine years old daughter Alice has none. Suzie wants her daughter to be happy so she concocts a plan in which her birthday wish is for both of them to be dating by the time she turn sixty in a few weeks. Though she hates the dating scene, Alice reluctantly agrees to find a man to join her at her mom's sixtieth birthday bash. Alice looks around at work and sees few men eligible to escort her to her mom's birthday bash. At the same she struggles to find date, Suzie hones in on a younger man, which makes Alice wonder if her mom is being devious and setting her up to be with this man. Also her best friend Zoe enlists Alice's help in finding her biological parents taking time away from finding her dream date as the countdown reaches two weeks. The strong cast especially the mother and daughter roommates keep this somewhat madcap tale from becoming inane. Instead, with strong secondary characters providing sometimes zany support, Suzie and Alice seem genuine as each seeks in their own way the right man for the big date. Jane Sigaloff provides a warm relationship chick lit tale.

True Lies of a Drama Queen
Lee Nichols
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895755, $13.95

In Santa Barbara Intuitive Counselor (some would say phony phone psychic) Elle Medina is stunned when some diabolically clever depraved predators film her stripping in a dressing room; she is the current rage on the Internet. Outraged she plans her style of vengeance on these miscreants, but is unaware of whom the cameraman is, but does have a nagging suspicion as to the identity of the pervert. Elle is more concerned that her best friend Maya is getting married to the right guy, but in the wedding gown from hell. She needs to take charge of the nuptials though she and Maya disagree on everything. Her own love life is okay as Merrick is a fine young man, but she worries that he is in Manhattan seeking a glamour queen and that he will learn she lies about graduate school and her profession even as she considers sharing an abode with him. What is a psychic who cannot see present and future and is unable to learn from her past mistakes do? She starts with eluding her houseguest, the groom's sexy sibling and keeping away from the wedding Rabbi who wants her, but after that who knows because as everyone knows, nobody could truly predict the future. As with her first appearance (see TALES OF A DRAMA QUEEN), Elle's latest tale is all over the place, but ultimately ties together through the wedding. The chick lit story line has the phony psychic in a panic over the Internet strip, the wedding, and her relationship with Merrick as readers follow the latest capers of the flawed screwball Elle.

The Pink Ghetto
Liz Ireland
ISBN: 0758208291, $12.95

Needing to find a job quickly since her former employer Sylvie Arnaud suffered a heart attack which led to her state of unemployment; Rebecca Abbot seeks work even if it means no feather boas on the job. She enhances her resume, which helps plus the magic of Sylvie as her last boss scores Rebecca an associate editing job at Candlelight Books though she has no experience with publishing, romance in or out of novels (the firm's prime genre), or editing. She does have a lot of enthusiasm and energy so she dives head first into her new vocation with plans to learn on the job rather quickly so that she can be the best at what she is supposed to do (whatever that is). However, as she tries to learn her new trade in Midtown Manhattan, she gets an education in trust as her peers and her former boyfriend backstab her. Still she does her best and is beginning to learn the ropes though she still struggles with waistline office politics even as she helps her former employer Sylvie with a crisis leading to Inventing My Life and Luke. This satirical chick lit tale enables the audience to see a different side of the publishing world from the perspective of editor competition within a company. Rebecca is a terrific prime protagonist who learns the hard way how one can end up below the food chain in the office ooze if one is not careful of protecting your back; waistline politics can destroy your career. Liz Ireland provides a delightful character study that romance readers will enjoy.

Hidden Sins
Selena Montgomery
ISBN: 0060798491, $6.99

Almost six decades ago in Texas, her grandfather and his associates stole a cache of stolen gold worth millions then that con artist Mara Reed now seeks. So do others who are willing to torture and kill for information; especially Arthur Rabbe who killed a young history teacher Mary Kay Ross-Harper, a descendent of one of the associates, to obtain a journal from her. In Detroit, Mara's beloved forensic anthropologist Dr. Ethan Stuart rescues her from two thugs though he has not forgotten that the only woman he ever loved stole his life savings before dumping him. Mara would tell you it in her genes, but hides the fact that he is the one she loves. Ethan needs Mara to allow him access to family records as corpses have been found buried in a church yard once led by her father; Mara needs Ethan to keep Arthur and his hoodlums at bay while she seeks the treasure. Love is not the issue; trust is. The romance between the lead couple takes a back seat to the murder mystery and treasure hunt as the exciting story line is more of a suspense thriller than a tale of love. Mara is a fascinating character as she earns her living conning others including at one time her significant other. Though some might question her morals, she makes the tale fun as Ethan still desires her, but does not trust her and Arthur wants her first in bed and then dead. Selena Montgomery provides an action-packed suspense thriller that grips readers from the moment Ethan comes to the rescue and never slows down as the audience wonder if the couple survive will she fleece him again.

A Fistful of Charms
Kim Harrison
ISBN: 0060788194, $7.99, 544 pp.

When half of the human population of the world was decimated by a genetically engineered virus, the Inderlanders, those creatures of myth and legend such as vampires, werewolves, shifters, pixies and witches came out of the closet. Rachel Morgan a witch, Ivy a powerful living vampire and Jenks a pixie are partners in a runner (similar to Bow Street) agency Vampiric Charms. When Jenk's son Jax disappears and then calls for help Jenks and Rachel rush to Michigan to pick him up. He tells them that Rachel's ex-boyfriend Nick the thief is being held on an island populated by Weres because he double crossed them after finding an artifact that has gone missing for centuries. After using a spell to shift into a wolf form so she can fight an alpha were for their freedom, she wins the battle and they manage to escape. However Nick has the artifact in his possession and the Weres will do anything to retrieve it. Somehow, Jenks, Rachel and Ivy who joins them later must find a way to elude the Weres and stop Nick from stealing the artifact otherwise a vampire/Were power struggle will break out with many people injured in what eventually will become a war. Fans of Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris and Kelly Armstrong are going to love A Fistful of Charms. There is plenty of action, a bit of romance and enough death defying escapades to the please fans of many genres. Rachel is a conflicted individual who isn't always sure of her own feelings and actions and sometimes strays into the dark areas of magic to do the right thing. Kim Harrison is a great world builder, who creates fascinating characters and puts them in a realm where humans and Inderlanders live together, not always in harmony.

Ghost Force
Patrick Robinson
Harper Collins
ISBN: 0060746912, $25.95

In 2011, at a White House reception Siberian Chief Minister Masorin dies from poisoning at the same time that Russian Prime Minister Kravchenko is building up his Navy and dispatching the new subs around the globe as if the twentieth century Cold War was hot. The military activity and the assassination concern US President Bedford though he hopes it is internal to somehow protect the flow of oil from Siberia to the new deepwater tank terminal in Murmansk before coming to America. Bedford knows the Chinese are the wild card in the Siberian oil sales as their thirst for black gold is immense. The Russians send their top submarine Viper 157 armed to the teeth to assist the Argentineans in their attempt to wrest control of the now oil producing Falkland Islands. Argentina makes its grab and the British Royal Navy reacts, but this time unlike the short war three decades ago the Viper 157 is poised to wipe out the British fleet. US Navy Admiral Arnold Morgan and his SEALS mount rescue missions and assist the British who are on the verge of losing control of the Falklands and its oil supply. Conspiracy buffs will appreciate Patrick Robinson's tense thriller though they will need an inordinate amount of acceptance as much of the adrenalin rush is pumped from improbable scenarios that are never made to seem remotely authentic. Still the action is non-stop and vivid for instance when the SEALS enter the frozen waters off the Falklands, readers will feel just how cold it is due to the stunning descriptions. Mr. Robinson's fans will enjoy his latest action-packed tale that appears to defy plausibility yet is fun to read.

Dark Tort
Diane Mott Davidson
Harper Collins
ISBN: 0060527315, $24.95

Caterer Goldy Schulz prepares breakfasts, snacks and occasional lunches for the legal staff and clients of Hanrahan & Jule law firm in Aspen Meadow, Colorado. However, when she arrives early to set up the day's menu, Goldy finds the corpse of paralegal Dusty Routt, a victim of strangulation. Dusty's mom, already distraught over the recent death of her son while in police custody, believes law enforcement will do nothing to identify her daughter's killer. Knowing that Goldy has solved homicides, she asks the caterer to investigate. Though she knows better, Goldy feels sorry for the grieving woman and agrees. With help from her husband Tom the cop, gossipy clues from the caterers extended network, and her son Arch the student driver, Goldy begins to find the recipes for murder starting with the key ingredients of motive and opportunity. This thirteenth Goldy culinary mystery is a delightful fresh and original amateur sleuth tale that readers will enjoy (except for die hard dieters – numerous recipes included). The story line is fast-paced as Goldy quietly makes inquires and taps into the caterer network to learn more about the law firm's employees and partners. Arch's driving lessons will hit home to parents of teens as Goldy ages gracefully. Diane Mott Davidson is in top form with this tasty whodunit.

Malicious Intent
Kathryn Fox
Harper Collins
ISBN: 0060857951, $13.95

In the Sydney area, forensic pathologist and forensic physician Anya Rose Crichton works free lance mostly for defense teams. Though an expert, Anya still struggles with acceptance in an all male field, that is except for her. Anya also has problems with her ex-spouse Martin who has custody of their three year old son and receives child support though she hopes to hire a lawyer soon to fight to change the arrangement so she has more quality time with little Ben. Sydney Sergeant Detective Kate Farrer asks Anya to look into the alleged suicide of Clare Matthews, the latest of a string of women who vanished for a short time just before taking their lives. Apparently Clare was about to take her vows before disappearing, but died six weeks pregnant. At the same time lawyer Dan Brody sends Anoub Deab to obtain the services of Anya to investigate the circumstances behind a drug overdose by his sister Fatima who vanished seven weeks ago only to be found dead a month later. She begins to see a link between her two cases and other recent "suicides" not aware how close to home the case will soon turn. MALICIOUS INTENT is a delightful forensic investigative tale starring a fascinating heroine trying to break through the glass floor (forget the ceiling) in an all male occupation. Though Anya carries the usual personal baggage (why not a heroine with a supporting spouse or significant other encouraging her – that would be refreshing in novels), her investigative work starting with her explanation of a knifing death on the stand to the final confrontation will grip readers. Fans will compare favorably Kathryn Fox to Patricia Cornwall and Kathy Reichs as MALICIOUS INTENT is a strong thriller.

Day of the Scarab
Catherine Fisher
Harper Collins
ISBN: 0060571632, $16.99, 384 pp.

General Argelin, after killing Hermia, one of the Nine and Speaker for the god, crowns himself king and Archon. The real Archon returns from the Well of Songs to see his people caught in a stranglehold by the dictator who rules with an iron fist and his mercenary army. The Nine are scattered; Mirany the new Speaker is in while Argelin destroys all pictures, paintings, books describing the Rain Queen, the goddess of the kingdom of death who he blames for Hermia's demise. Seth, a scribe takes a job as Argelin's assistant in the hopes of finding a way to free the people. The Emperor's fleet stays off the coast because his heir prince Jamil is held hostage. A way is found for the king to travel to the underworld to try and free Hermia from the Rain Queen. He takes Alexos the Archon (god on earth), Mirany and their ally the musician Oblek to the realm of the dead while Seth is chosen as the new Speaker until Mirany returns. Seth gathers an unusual group of allies in the hopes of saving the land from the god, the emperor and his soldiers. What began in SNOW WALKER and continued in the ORACLE BETRAYED comes to a glorious conclusion in DAY OF THE SCARAB. This book is reminiscent of the Andre Norton young adult tales that were enjoyed by an adult audience. The characterizations are superb and there is plenty of action and adventures to maintain readers' interest but it is the theme of good vs. evil that will resonate with the audience who sees that there are shades of gray in each individual so they are not all good or all evil.

Maud Casey
ISBN: 0060740892, $13.95

In her forties and all alone Samantha Hennart collapses on her kitchen floor from an aneurysm. No one is there for her as her spouse Bernard left her after he caught her having sex with a carpenter; her son Ryan lives on the other coast; and their teen daughter Marguerite is in a mental hospital. How did she and her once loved ones get to this state that an acquaintance has to tell them what has happened. Twenty years ago Sam was a poet, but has not written a line since. She failed as a wife and worse as a mother. Her son is on the road with his rock band not looking back; her daughter desperately needs psychiatric help, but no one is there for her; and her spouse finds solace researching information on a nineteenth century Belgium stigmata mystic cholera survivor, Louise Lateau, who has become the love of his life. How they got there is the rest of the story. This intriguing character study looks closely at how a family got to a pivotal moment in their lives. The story line is fascinating as readers learn what events led to the disintegration of this family of four. Though the husband and children fail to seem fully developed, fans of family drams will enjoy Maud Casey's look at how the shape of things to came into being.

Winds of the Storm
Beverly Jenkins
ISBN: 006057531X, $5.99

In 1871 South Carolina Harriet "Araminta" Tubman informs Zahra Lafayette that President Grant wants her to look how strong the storm winds are blowing in New Orleans that could undo much of the freedom the former slaves have obtained. Her prize for helping the President is land for her parents though by law they should have gained the acreage as freedmen by now. Reluctantly she agrees to go undercover as renowned Madam Domino. In New Orleans, Domino meets wealthy Archer Le Veq, whom she rescued from certain death in 1863; still she hides her identity behind her domino mask. Hotel owner Archer is intrigued by the rumors of the owner of the most exclusive brothel in town. He plans to unmask her and more in his bed. Though attracted to Archer, Zahra must stay focused for distraction could lead to a fatal mistake as dangerous murders with "death books" frequent her part of the city. WINDS OF THE STORM, the sequel to THROUGH THE STORM, is a great Reconstruction Era romantic intrigue starring two courageous individuals supported by a captivating historical foundation. The story line is action-packed with historical tidbits cleverly interwoven into the invigorating plot. However, it is the cast especially the romance between the lead pair and the insight into the city that makes Beverly Jenkins latest tale a must read for Americana fans.

The Care and Feeding of Unmarried Men
Christie Ridgeway
ISBN: 0060763507, $6.99

Nash Cargill arrives in California after receiving a zillion faxes from Allison that his about to be twenty-one years old baby sister Jemina needs a bodyguard. Leaving the monster truck circuit behind in Europe, Nash, known as the Preacher, races to the States to protect his actress sibling, but becomes irate when he meets society columnist Eve Caruso, who exposed Jemina's whereabouts in her column just before someone tried to run her over. He blames Eve for his sis' broken arm though the columnist saved the young woman's life. As Eve and Nash become acquainted they begin to fall in love. However, she has no idea how to care and feed an unmarried man as her career has been everything; besides which the SEC wants a piece of her though currently she is tottering on bankruptcy. As he keeps his sister safe, Nash is frustrated with his Eve because she cannot see they are in love and belong together. The second Caruso sister contemporary romance (see AN OFFER HE CAN'T REFUSE) is a lighthearted romp starring two likable protagonists. The relationship between Nash and Eve hinges on her as once he realizes she saved his sister's life and that she is not an irresponsible twit, he reassesses her and knows he is in love. He also begins to wonder if she is the target not his sibling perhaps tied to her grandfather's mob activities. Fans will enjoy this fine tale of a woman undecided about love.

Vamps and the City
Kerrelyn Sparks
ISBN: 0060752017, $5.99

Former TV journalist Darcy Newhart detests being a vampire as she can no longer see herself in a mirror or have her picture taken by a non-digital camera. However, thanks to the information age, she has been selected to direct a new reality show on the Digital Vampire Network, The Sexiest Man on Earth. The contestants, some humans and some vampires compete for the title since digital cameras enable vampires to show up on the screen with the prize being the vampiric harem of Roman Dragnesti (see HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE VAMPIRE). CIA Stake-Out Agent and psychic Austin Erickson goes undercover as a contestant with the objective being to destroy this rat's nest of killing vampires. However, Austin finds himself attracted to the director of the show who seems nice and caring not bloody and murderous as his superior Sean Whelan insists all vampires are. As Darcy and Austin fall in love, she rejects any permanent relationship since she still struggles with being a creature of the night and unsure of star-crossed partnering with mortals. VAMPS AND THE CITY sparkles with humor, suspense, and romance. The story line is fun not just because of the antics of the lead duet; the five vamps first prize consists of delightful interesting individuals whose differences add to the overall plot as readers wonder who will the harem. Vampire romance fans will appreciate this refreshing tale and look forward to more as the confrontation with the evil vampires remains unsettled.

Almost a Goddess
Judi McCoy
ISBN: 006075785X, $5.99

At the employer-employee review Zeus warns demigoddess Kyra that her performance is unsatisfactory as she has not accomplished much since their last counseling one century ago. He explains to the distraught Muse of Good Fortune that she is on probation and if she fails to improve her outcomes, she will be terminated. He gives her one month in Vegas to make the grade. Socrates Themopolis hires Jake Lennox to determine who is skimming money from his Vegas located Acropolis I casino and hotel as the place is packed but losing a million a month. Jake pretends to be Socrates' nephew so he can easily get around. When he meets employee Kyra he is attracted to her, but her behavior seems just off kilter making his suspect she might be the thief yet hoping she is not. As they fall in love, Kyra must choose between immortality and a life with Jake. ALMOST A GODDESS is a fun romantic fantasy starring a likable demigoddess and a caring mortal. Each brings baggage to the craps table as both wonder whether they will shoot snake eyes or sevens when it comes to betting on the other. The interaction between Zeus and Kyra is priceless as Judi McCoy provides an amusing enchanting tale that will have readers pondering for love or immortality.

How to Seduce a Bride
Edith Layton
ISBN: 006075785X, $5.99

Six years have passed since Daisy Tanner was sent to Botany Bay where based on a tip she married a prison guard so that at least she could be a prisoner that ate better. Now a widow with a pardon and wealth, Daisy plans to leave New South Wales for London where she intends to wed much older gentleman and a former convict, Earl Geoffrey Sauvage so that she can attain peace and protection under the auspices of the odious Marriage Act. In London, Geoffrey introduces Daisy to his friend Viscount Leland Grant. They find an attraction as he admires her intelligence and with while she likes his caring and kind demeanor. When Daisy is threatened with a return to Botany Bay, Geoffrey and Lee gallantly offer marriage to protect her. She loves the womanizing Lee, but feels safer with Geoffrey so she is undecided even as murder charges hang over her head. The final Botany Bay historical romance will elate the fans of Edith Layton as heroine Daisy's tale is finally completed. Readers will agree with Lee that she is a brilliant woman, but also feel the two men in her lives are intelligent caring souls. The appreciative audience will read the amusing story line in one sitting to learn who she chooses if anyone and ultimately what happens to Daisy.

Sinful Pleasures
Mary Reed McCall
ISBN: 0060593741, $5.99

They were young lovers in love, but she humiliated him in public disdainfully rebuffing his advances. Angrily he left her and joined the Templar Knights. Now in the year of our Lord 1308, Damien de Ashby sits in a French prison awaiting the so called regal justice of the Inquisition. When his former lover Lady Alissende de Montague learns of his incarceration, the widow arranges for his freedom paying a heavy ransom for his release. Alissende fears a forced second marriage so her plan calls for her to wed Damien by proxy so that each can have their freedom. However, Damien wants to confront the woman he still loves with neither expecting the attraction to be so strong considering their history. An unknown adversary wants the Templar dead and the widow married to him; that foe waits for the moment to strike terror in the hearts of the lovers. SINFUL PLEASURES is wonderful medieval romance that transports readers back to Inquisition France at a time when the Templars are outlawed and being hunted down. The story line stars two courageous individuals whose love for one another in spite of their tribulations and the intrigue and danger ever near, still remains strong. Mary Reed McCall makes the fourteenth century come alive.

She's No Princess
Laura Lee Guhrke
ISBN: 0060774746, $6.99

Prince Cesare of Bolgheri has had enough with the inappropriate behavior of his illegitimate offspring, whom he recently brought to his palace, though he blames all on her mother a courtesan. Sending Lucia to schools for troubled ladies and convents have only led to scandals and her being tossed out. At the end of his rope he decides his adult daughter needs a spouse to keep her in line; if nothing else Lucia would be someone else's royal pain in the butt. Prince Cesare chooses highly regarded English diplomat, perfectly mannered Sir Ian Moore to find his devilish daughter a husband. Ian wants nothing to do with this impossible assignment as he knows of Lucia's hellcat ways and not just by reputation, but His Highness gives him no choice in the matter. Ian sets a goal to get Lucia off his hands by marrying her to off to some fool aristocrat. Candidates line up as Lucia is pretty, energetic, and wealthy. However, none in Ian's mind matches her elan for life except for one sleeper aspirant; Ian has fallen in love with the exasperating fireball and Lucia reciprocates those feelings though she recognizes that the prim and proper Englishman is her total opposite. SHE'S NO PRINCESS is a lighthearted historical romance starring two 180 degrees diverse individuals who make a strong case that opposites attract. The amusing story line is fun to read as Ian has his hands filled with the unpredictable Lucia whether it is chess, billiards, or kisses. Regency romance readers will appreciate Laura Lee Guhrke's fine tale.

Her Officer and Gentleman
Karen Hawkins
ISBN: 0060584149, $6.99

Former highwayman Viscount Christian Llevanth, Viscount Westerville needs to know who claimed his late mother was a traitor, as those lies led to her incarceration and death. Christian lives for revenge and believes his target should be the Duke of Massingale. He sets his plan in motion starting with gaining access into the Massingale home by courting his enemy's granddaughter, Lady Elizabeth. However, she is nothing like he expected from a descendent of a duke. Instead Lady Elizabeth uses a fake stutter to keep beaus away as she has no plans to ever marry. Westerville ignores her efforts to cool his ardor as he reminds himself of his mother's plight caused he firmly believes by her grandfather. Still he finds Lady Elizabeth exciting and feeling like a traitor because he desires her. She persuades him to tell the truth and soon they begin a search for what happened to his mother while journeying on a path of love encouraged by the matchmaking butler Reeves. HER OFFICER AND GENTLEMAN is a terrific Just Ask Reeves Regency romance that sub-genre fans will fully appreciate. The amateur sleuth story line is filled with twists and turns including a fabulous final spin. The lead couple is a delightful pairing as he feels like he is betraying his deceased mother while she ponders whether her values are meaningful all because of love. Reeves is Reeves as fans of Karen Hawkins will understand (see HER MASTER AND COMMANDER).

Bookmarked to Die
Jo Dereske
ISBN: 0060790822, $6.99, 368 pp.

When Miss Helma Zukas awakens on the morning of her forty second birthday she feels a heaviness of spirit and she is troubled because has no reason to feel that way. She is so gloomy that she forgets that the local author project is getting underway that night. She rallies to the occasion and she has a full house of writers who want to be represented in the collection. All goes smoothly but when people are leaving, attendee Molly is killed in a hit and run. A few days later, Tanya who also was at the local author gathering was murdered when somebody pushed her down a flight of steps. Chief of Police Wayne Gallant, who has been cold to Helma since her forty-second birthday warns her against interfering on his homicide infestation. She promptly finds reasons to figure out who the killer is and almost winds up as murder victim number three. When she is not searching for a killer she is seeking her cat, who got lost when Helma's friend took him for a week. It has been a long time since the last Miss Zukas mystery but it was well worth the wait because BOOKMARKED TO DIE is one of the most enjoyable books in the series. The heroine is an honest and loyal person whose stubborn streak gets more provincial the older she gets. She is an independent feisty woman who marches to her own drummer and has many friends because they know they can count on her. This character driven mystery will grab and hold the reader's attention from the first page to last.

Don of the Dead
Casey Daniels
ISBN: 0060821469, $6.99

Three decades ago in Cleveland someone killed crime kingpin Gus Scarpetti, but no one was ever caught. Thus the Scarpetti murder is a cold case that no one cares to revisit as the cops assume one wise guy murdered a not so wise guy. Pepper Martin provides tours of local cemeteries; a position that she looks forward to leaving once she scores a job at a fashionable department store like Saks. When she trips while walking in a cemetery, she bangs her head against Gus's mausoleum. This leads to her ability to communicate with Gus; worse she can see his ghost. He provides an offer she cannot refuse as he demands she investigate his murder or he will haunt her forever; going so far as entering the women's dressing room at Saks. DON OF THE DEAD is an engaging paranormal romantic mystery that initially lacks pepper, but once the heroine bangs her head, the story line explodes into a terrific amateur sleuth whodunit. The beleaguered heroine and the likable ghostly Gus make a fine pairing though ironically she is the less substantive member of their team. In her debut Casey Daniels provides a strong mystery that fans of chick lit cozies from the grave will want to read.

Suite Francaise
Irene Nemirovsky
ISBN: 1400044731, $25.00

"A Storm in June." 1940 France is chaos as the Nazis are just hours from Paris. Rich, middle class or poor matters little as everyone who can evacuates the city. Writer Gabriel, Father Pericand and several orphans, haughty Charles and several others forge a caravan of pilgrims heading to the countryside in a hope of surviving the ordeal. Parisiennes have no other dreams as their world is gone. "Dolce." In 1941 the Germans are returning for the third time since easily conquering the French to occupy the village of Bussy. There peasant farm families have lived for generations, but now have many of the urban expatriates residing there also. Regardless of ones roots, everyone from the farmer to the exiled middle class to the Quisling show caution whenever a Nazi is near as the occupation rules even when taboo love blossoms between a local and a German soldier. This treasure was actually written during the beginning of WWII just prior to the author being sent to die at Auschwitz; her preadolescent daughter rescuing the two segments of Suite already written. Each story tells what life is like from a wide variety of French perspectives and somewhat from the Herman viewpoints during the Nazi occupation of Vichy France. The tales are haunting and gripping yet not quite refined as Irene Nemirovsky never finished her objective, but that lack of refinement adds to the evocative depths of a terrific memorable tale.

The Flamenco Academy
Sarah Bird
ISBN: 1400040841, $25.00

When her family relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico, seventeen years old Cyndi Rae Hrncir feels like a stranger in a strange land as her Czech backgrounds sticks out. The loner soon suffers another blow when her father dies from cancer. Reputed "bad girl" Didi Steinberg suffers the same misfortune when her dad also dies from cancer. The paternal tragedies lead to the two disparate teens forging a special bond as they have no one to turn; both their moms are busy grieving.. After meeting rising flamenco playing guitarist Tomas Montenegro, Cyndi develops a passion for the music. She and Didi study under Tomas' legendary great aunt and guardian daunting Do?a Carlota Anaya de Montenegro. As the two young females learn the demanding flamenco requirements, each makes a play for Tomas while also learning much about the Doca's past in war ravaged Spain. This is a terrific contemporary tale that focuses on two intriguing scenarios. First the obvious romantic triangle between the students; this is well written and holds the audience attention as they wonder if friendships will end and who if either of the girls will gain the boy. However, even more interesting and refreshing is that the novel is the story of Doca; that grips the reader as few subplots can. Fans will appreciate this strong tale that pay homage to the art of flamenco music and dancing.

The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs. Beeton
Kathryn Hughes
ISBN: 0307263738, $29.95

This is a surprisingly fascinating biography of Isabella Mayson Beeton, author of the classic Book of Household Management, first published in installments in 1859 and still celebrated a century later. Kathryn Hughes digs deep into the icon's childhood where she learned much of the housekeeping tips that she provides less than two decades later. What is Interesting is the section where Isabella is about to marry magazine publisher Sam Beeton and she has to put into practice what she learned about managing a household. Finally she wrote articles for Sam's publication The Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine, which he started in 1852, but she joined one year after their marriage in 1857. The middle class housekeeping management bible, The Book of Household Management was published in the magazine in installments (much of Victorian literature including Dickens' novels was released that way) two years later. Six years later at twenty-nine, Isabella is dead. This is a terrific biography that showcases more than just an intriguing person as readers obtain a taste of the lifestyle of the growing middle class in England. The chapters include the expected look at her life and the posthumous fame that her book provided her; but there also terrific interludes where Ms. Hughes offers an analysis of the era to include the role of women, the impact of the nouveau moneyed middle class, and much more in a biography worth reading.

The End of California
Steve Yarbrough
ISBN: 1400044383, $23.95

Twenty-five years ago Pete Barrington left Loring, Mississippi on a football scholarship to Fresno State vowing to never return to the small southern town. He successfully becomes a physician, marries a pretty woman and they have a teenage daughter as they live the good life in California. That is until sex scandals force him and his family to start anew in his hometown. Alan Depoyster, manager of the local Piggly Wiggly, has always remained in Loring. The devout Christian is married and has a teenage child. He loathes Pete because back in high school, his mother and Pete had an affair that led to his father deserting the family. While Pete escaped Loring on a scholarship, Alan stayed home trapped by the broken family mess. . Apparently Pete and his spouse failed to learn anything from their "eating out" in California as they continues with sexual predatory recklessness in Loring; this outrages Alan, who decides he must rid his hometown of these ten Commandment violators. The key to this deep, tense yet sensitive character study is the cast, especially the rival males. Readers will understand what motivates Pete and Alan and to a lesser but critical degree their wives. The action comes to a boil slowly as Steve Yarbrough cleverly simmers the tension between families with a passionate heated mixing of obsessive sex and zealous religion.

John Updike
ISBN: 0307264653, $25.00

His Egyptian father abandoned him and his mother when he was three. Now fifteen years later in New Prospect, New Jersey high school student Ahmad Mulloy Ashmawy scorns his hippie Irish-American mother turning to the Islamic teachings of Shaikh Rashid, who runs a storefront mosque for spiritual and emotional guidance. Shaikh advocates retribution to those supporting the Zionist American government. Ahmad heeds the call to arms against the decadent American culture though he at times acts like a teen when he "competes" for the attention of Joryleen Grant against Tylenol Jones. Central High School Jewish near retirement guidance counselor Jack Levy tries to help Ahmad, but the student sees him as the epitome of why America is a failure. The lad is on the fast self actualization track starting with low esteem metamorphosing into a need to believe and belong to finally turning into a potential TERRORIST. Using stereotypes to display flawed characters, John Updike is at his best with this frightening intense thriller in which he makes it clear that social strata and economics make for the breeding grounds of terrorists here (Think England), in Iraq and elsewhere. The author's basic premise is that the West is losing the hearts of children who find physiological and psychological nourishment elsewhere while leaders posture like Panglois (Candide) that this is the best of all worlds. The TERRORIST is chilling.

Firefly Cloak
Sheri Reynolds
Shaye Areheart
ISBN: 0609610082, $23.00

Seven years ago in Alabama addict Sheila left behind her two sleeping preadolescent children at a campground to run off with her latest loser. When the older of the two youngsters, eight-year-old Tessa Lee awakens, she finds her toddler brother Travis roaming by himself with a telephone phone number marked by a magic marker on his back and a colorful cloak adorned with fireflies wrapped around him. Several years later, fifteen years old Tessa Lee has lived with her maternal grandparents especially grandma Lil since the desertion incident, but Travis has since died. When Tessa Lee learns that her mother works as a mermaid at a Massachusetts boardwalk museum she decides to confront her mom expecting a valid reason for her leaving her two children behind. Tessa Lee runs to Massachusetts, but the woman she used to call mom, is not the same; instead Sheila is a broken addict and offers little in the way of explanation. Will the child leave the mother this time as the grandmother worries she will fail for the third time as she believes she has with Sheila and Travis. This is an insightful family drama that targets highs school students and their parents with a deep tale. The story line does not hold back when it comes to the three key women especially the harmful behavior of Sheila (to herself as much as her children); the desperate obsession to know why by Tessa Lee who feels guilt over her sibling's death; and Lil who takes responsibility for failing Shelia. The interrelationships that include the negative make for an insightful character study.

Dark Arts
Edited by John Pelan
Cemetery Dance
ISBN: 1587671247, $35.00

These twenty-two all new short stories contributed by members of the Horror Writers Association lives up to the title as these well written tales showcase the DARK ARTS. The compilation contains new stories that somewhat capture the genre's range, but most are some form of psychological terror that can be summed up from a quote in Lorelei Shannon's Kodechrome: "When you photograph a road accident in black and white. … The image is stark. Real. Details are crisp and true. A corpse has no color …". This recaps the basic theme of this superb anthology as the writers provide stark grim exhilarating tales that grip readers as the arts are treated quite a bit differently in this thrilling collection. The audience will fully appreciate these dark entries as long as the lights remain on though that will probably not keep out the creeping shadows oozing from this strong collection playing havoc with the reader's mind.

Occasional Demons
Rick Hautala
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit 7, Forest Hill, Maryland 21050
ISBN: 158767095X, $40.00

This anthology consists of eighteen horror tales with some being straight genre entries, others psychological terror and finally a few shorts also include science fiction elements. The middle section contains eight "Untcigahunk Stories and Myths of the Little Brothers" that derive from the author's novel LITTLE BROTHERS (published in the 1980s); and finally three collaborations with family and friends and "maybe" a pseudonym. All twenty-nine entries are well written and fun to read. The opening segment of eighteen and closing of three tales will entertain the audience as the stories especially those with a twist such as a spin on abortion that rounds out the right to life before you are born position in a surprising final demise of women's rights or the tale that acts more like the plant in Little Shop of Horrors. The eight Untcigahunk Indian entries are the best of a solid anthology with their dark horror fantasy feel to them. As with Rick Hautala's previous compilation BEDBUGS, readers will enjoy this fine collection.

Prodigal Blues
Gary A. Braunbeck
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit 7, Forest Hill, Maryland 21050
ISBN: 1587671093, $40.00, 310 pp.

After driving from Cedar Hill to Topeka to sign some papers so his sister can claim her inheritance, janitor Mark Seiber is on his way home when his car breaks down. A helpful police officer refers Mark to a kind tow truck operator-mechanic who informs him the vehicle his bother-in-law lent him cannot be repaired today and the nearest rental place will be open tomorrow. Mark stays at a motel by a truck stop that serves delicious fish dinners. While eating, Mark notices the young girl he saw three times on the road; she sits at his table and introduces herself as Denise. She insists she was abducted from this rest stop two years ago and warns him. Mark returns to his room. Someone claiming to deliver food knocks on his door. When he opens it, the person who knocks uses a taser on him. When Mark awakens he finds himself prisoner of young adults, all of whom share in common their abduction by a sexual predator Grendel who tortured and scarred them both physically and mentally. They demand Mark take them home to their parents and will not hesitate with the use of brute force to insure he complies. As he gets to know these abused mutilated victims, he sympathizes with them and vows to insure they obtain a happy ending. There are graphic descriptions of violence that accentuate the underlying message that parents must protect their young ones because sexual predators are deviously clever and nearby. The youthful kidnappers earn the empathy of the audience and Mark once we and he understand their plight. Though disfigured each young adult and child has shown great inner strength not allowing the monster to mentally break them. This is a poignant cautionary thriller that grips readers from the moment the hero is abducted and never slows down until the final twist.

Destinations Unknown
Gary A. Braunbeck
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit 7, Forest Hill, Maryland 21050
ISBN: 1587670852, $40.00

"The Ballad of Road Mama and Daddy Bliss". He had one too many when he drove and was stopped by John Law. He was given community service at the city morgue but offered a deal that would wipe clean his record. There would be no DUI if he transports the corpse of elderly Miss Driscoll back to her hometown. He drove ambulances in Nam so this could not be worse than that; he agrees. He drives to a town not listed on any map whose exit simply says Exit. He will soon learn the truth of driving Miss Driscoll home. "Congestion". He detests driving, but still decided to drive himself to the hospital. Now he sits in a traffic jam less than one mile from his destination with him at the epicenter of a zillion vehicles engulfing him endlessly. To add to his discomfit his air conditioner is broken on a day in which it would seem torrid in the equator. He has his nitro pills handy, as no one moves except a familiar looking skater heading towards him. "Merge Right". Matt is tired after the long business trip and is happy to be on I271 nearing home though suddenly nothing seems right with no traces of any other life including no other cars anywhere and every sign says MERGE RIGHT. There are no exits in sight and he cannot find home. The road will never be the same following Gary Braunbeck's suspense filled horror novella (The Ballad of Road Mama and Daddy Bliss) and two psychological ghostly shorts. All three tales keeps the audience reading while wondering what is really going on. At the final destination, fans will simply know the next signpost has to be in the Twilight Zone as Mr. Braunbeck provides three thrillers that Rod Serling would have appreciated.

The Long Last Call
John Skipp
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit 7, Forest Hill, Maryland 21050
ISBN: 1558761360, $40.00, 210 pp.

In the back yards of America is the strip joint Sweet Thangs, a place where those who have no hope go to and see a stripper who has no dreams take off all her clothes. They have no ambition so they have no expectation f bettering themselves just like Hank who stops there to forget losing the only woman he ever loved. It is almost closing time and the only customers are the regulars who have no other place they would rather be because no one wants them. In walks a tall dark handsome man who is carrying a suitcase full of money. He tips the strippers excessively, demands they go to more extreme lengths to obtain money. Sex is not what he wants but he gets what he came for when he touches each person and the slime on his hands goes into their bodies turning them into the people they really are behind their masks. He feeds on their hatred, lusts, anger and sins as he done for eons. By the end OF THE LONG LAST CALL he expects that everyone will be dead. He is for the first time in millennia surprised at the outcome. Readers who have a week stomach will not want too read this graphic horror novel. It is a chilling work filled with plenty of violence, sex, gore and depravity and though the audience keeps wondering who the stranger is, they will make good guesses based on his actions. The people in Sweet Thangs are a microcosm of the malevolence that infects much of the human race and John Skips brilliantly uses one entity to symbolic that evil. Read THE LONG LAST CALL at your own risk.

What Love Means to You People
NancyKay Shapiro
ISBN: 0312347898, $23.95

Twenty-three years old Cornhusker Seth McKenna fled Nebraska for New York to allegedly make it as an artist, but more so to escape the memory of his stepfather raping him and his deeply religious fundamentalist mother did nothing to protect him or his sis. Seth meets forty-two years old wealthy executive Jim Glaser, who mourns the loss of his long time significant other Zak. Both silently feel the age gap is too great though they are attracted to one another. Besides Seth, who paints a Norman Rockwell childhood to describe his Midwestern past to his new friend, deep in his psyche he does not feel worthy of a nice man like Jim. On the other hand Jim struggles too because he feels he is betraying his first love Zak. As the duo becomes acquainted, Seth's sister Cassie arrives in Manhattan having run away. She is stunned to learn her brother is gay and even more shocked that the man he loves is old enough to be her father. Still she is accepting and her sibling and his lover agree to raise her child while she seeks a new life overseas. However, Seth's web of deceit unravels hurting Jim to the core as he wonders if he can trust this stranger. Though the climatic road to redemption seems excessively affected, this is a terrific modern day character driven romance starring two likable protagonists carrying excessive baggage. If Jim was June, no reader would think twice about WHAT LOVE MEANS TO YOU PEOPLE. That is the underlying beauty of this terrific tale that it does not matter that the relationship is between two homosexual males as Cassie quickly understands; it is the love that matters. Seth's past and Jim's grief add to a wonderful insightful contemporary drama.

Claire Fontaine Crime Fighter: A Novel of Life and Death and Shoes
Tracey Enright
ISBN: 0312319606, $23.95

Her father arranged the job interview for Armani-suited Claire Fontaine with former LAPD homicide detective PI Henry Bennet. When she arrived at his sloppy private investigative office, he asks her if she a stripper sent by a pal for his birthday. She responds in kind saying he will see her naked only during an autopsy. She get the job that he insists is his office assistant while she claims to be his partner though she wishes he would get a makeover as he dresses as if he resides in a cesspool. Henry's current case is to uncover the identity of the vicious slasher who sliced the throat of party animal Beth Valentine. Claire helps Henry investigate as she has access to the rich and famous as did who traveled in their circle. As the exquisite thirty years old Claire and the forty-something slob Henry make inquiries, they begin to uncover the ugly secrets of some wealthy individuals with one unknown culprit willing to kill and not over acceptable justification for homicide like a new pair of designer shoes. This amusing private investigative tale avoids being an overly stretched one joke novel due to a solid whodunit that anchors the story line and fosters the physical and mental differences and misunderstanding re the relationship between Henry and Claire. While making inquiries, Claire assumes she is helping solve the case while Henry wonders how to keep her from hindering the investigation. Fans who enjoy a lighthearted mystery will want to read the battle between Payless and Prada.

Venetian Holiday
David M. Campbell
ISBN: 0312349904, $23.95

They met when she took his graduate class in Italian renaissance art at Columbia University. He mentored her in the art of burglary as a husband and wife team of robbers. However when "Professor" Paul Fujimori decides to retire from his profession of stealing valuable art, his wife Kate refuses as she depends on the thrill to provide her with an adrenalin rush. Instead the couple splits up. Kate goes to Venice on her fist job without her teacher. Paul retires (and the couple separates), Kate looks for ever more challenging assignments, a search that leads her to Venice to purloin a valuable fake Mona Lisa. She enlists the help of master thief Freddy Doloreux. Her perfect plan goes awry when two bungling amateurs try to steal the same item on the same night and her partner has sold her out to an adversary, who has set it up for the Italian police to nab her or if they, as expected by her foe, fumble the arrest arrange for a hit man to kill her. Toss away realism for a slapstick mystery, sort of mindful of Hudson Hawk meets Alfred Hitchcock with the Pink Panther in pursuit. VENETIAN HOLIDAY is a zany tale that has no boundaries as Kate goes from one escapade into another including falling in love in what is one heck of a one night stand. Don't even ask about the morning after as readers who enjoy a wild lighthearted amusing crime caper in which plausibility is irrelevant will want to follow the adventures of Kate navigating Venice.

Sweet Home Carolina
T. Lynn Ocean
ISBN: 0312343345, $23.95

Shine Advertising and Public Relations senior accountant executive Jaxie Parker loves being single and working in Atlanta. Her focus is on her career with no interest beyond a casual date with the opposite sex. The firm's owner Aaron Ackworth assigns Jaxie to provide one month gratis PR work on his hometown's revitalization operation. Reluctantly Jaxie journeys to decaying Rumton, South Carolina where the ocean is near, but nothing else is. Jaxie learns that the local hang out is the Chat 'N Chew where she meets elderly widower "Pompous" Pop, who allows her to stay in his place for free. Of course her roommate is Pop's best friend Bandit the raccoon. From her Atlanta agency Vice President of Market Research and a former town resident Justin Connor arrives to assist Jaxie who he is very attracted to even though she seems unavailable. At the same time developer Lester Smoak and Mayor Riley work a deal to build a casino until someone kills the public official with an ex-con as the prime suspect. Jaxie believes otherwise and with Justin's help tries to prove otherwise even as a hurricane is coming. SWEET HOME CAROLINA is an interesting look at a town in trouble with the cavalry being sent by a successful former resident that in some way to the townies seem like invaders. The story line emphasis that it takes a village to nurture families, but it takes people doing the little things to nurture a village. Though Jaxie can act the snob with "little" things like her shoe selection, fans of sweet inspirational contemporary character studies will appreciate this upbeat cozy.

Parting Shot
Jonathan Stone
ISBN: 031235410X, $23.95

Webster County Sheriff William "Big Billy" Wyatt informs the media that fifty four years old Sheryl Behar is the latest victim of the sniper who as an equal opportunity killer who murders people. Gender, age, race or religion does not matter to the cold blooded serial killer. TV reporter Sam Stevens knows that he would rather be amidst the media feeding frenzy than at home where his marriage to Denise is numerous degrees beyond failing. Depressed over his personal life and sickened by what he must cover in his professional life, Sam begins a series "Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer" based on interviews with an incarcerated convict Darryl Jenkins. As great-grandmother Estelle Saunders becomes the next victim, Sam learns more about sniping and serial killing. He begins to concoct a concept to gain his freedom from his marriage. PARTING SHOT may be the most creative serial killer thriller since Lector first took a bite. The story line is filled with twists that readers will not anticipate, but once past the shock will conclude that Jonathan Stone is a clever writer until the next spin stuns the audience. This is a fantastic thriller that will keep readers guessing in one delightful sitting.

Adelaide Piper
Beth Webb Hart
ISBN: 159554027X, $13.99

In Williamstown, South Carolina Adelaide Piper has always wanted to attend a prestigious college to develop her poetry skills. Thus when she is accepted by the elite liberal arts Nathaniel Buxton University, she is euphoric. However her elation turns sour as she is disappointed to find the Virginia university is a party school. Still Adelaide makes the best of a bad situation even after a student dies in a hazing incident. She goes out on a date, but that turns nasty as the boy demands she put out for him. Adelaide feels alone as her father is preoccupied with making a zillion dollars through a pyramid like scheme and her mother struggles with raising her two other wilder daughters without any paternal help. Her two best friends also struggle with life's curveballs. Adelaide turns to religion as she tries to better understand why life seems so cruel. Though too much is piled on as Adelaide, must be the Job-magnet with so many ugly things happening to her family and friends, her return to religion is deftly handled and realistic as she serves as the focus of this fine story line. Her family members and her two friends face personal crisis that isolate Adelaide further and the university is a disappointment as she selected it to learn. Beth Webb Hart writes a top quality character study in which the heroine's finds spiritual salvation and solace in God.

Angel Eyes
Myrna Mackenzie
ISBN: 037383697X, $5.99

As she nears her thirtieth birthday, Sara Tucker does not want to come home from California where she hides from people and commitment, but her widow mom Madeline begged her as her younger sister Cass is in trouble. Sara reaches Gold Tree, Wisconsin, a place she fled twelve years ago when her avaricious father tried to use her psychic gifts to find missing people and objects; the townsfolk consider her a freak or worse a devil. Waiting at her mom's home is single dad police officer Luke Packard to inform Sara her mom had an accident in which she hurt her ankle. She learns her mom watches Luke's two years old son Danny. Luke not only believes psychics are fake he hates them as his wife died because of one of them. However, as he protects Sara from someone stalking her and she tries to connect and protect her jealous (of her) pregnant eighteen years old sibling who is seeing an abusive drug dealer with plans for Sara, they fall in love, but neither foresees a future together. ANGEL EYES is a fine paranormal romantic suspense starring a fascinating female protagonist and a skeptical cop falling in love with both knowing they have no future together. The thriller elements come in late as Cass' boyfriend plans to use Sara's skill for personal gain just like her father did. Sara's gift is mostly implied rather than applied, but still the tale grips the audience with the reactions of family and neighbors to the return of the prodigal daughter who is different than everyone else.

New Orleans Nights
Julie Elizabeth Leto
ISBN: 0373837062, $4.99

"Pure Chance". Serena Deveaux and Drew Stuart have been buddies for years so when he turns romantic and considers marriage, she wants to thwart him but not end their friendship. She concocts a diabolical plan when she hires Brandon Chance, the man whose graduation kiss fifteen years ago still heats her memories, to stop Drew's inane fantasy. However, she informs Brandon that someone is stalking her. Chance has never forgotten their encounter either, but feels they are not good for one another as both are daredevils. That is until they kiss. "Insatiable". Samantha Deveaux grew up in Hollywood and even had minor film roles as a child and became a stunt woman always trying to gain her father's approval until at twenty-eight she gave up and moved to New Orleans to be with her mother and sister. Her brother-in-law Brandon hires her as an operative at his new personal security firm, but is bored with being a security guard at a Super Marketing Expo until she meets the model on the LaRocca Foods spaghetti sauce who happens to be CEO Dominick LaRocca who arrives at the show. Sam persuades Nick to hire her as his personal bodyguard though she has no experience except as a client. He agrees with the stipulation that she pretend to be his lover to fool his beloved grannies who want him married. These two zany fun reprints starring the Deveaux sisters at times feel like Lucy pulling some inane stunt that is sublime yet amusing. Romance readers who appreciate an inane pair of improbable capers starring devilish females will want to laugh out loud at the escapades of the Deveaux siblings.

Perfect Timing
Julie Kenner, Nancy Warren & Jo Leigh
Signature Select
ISBN: 0373837038, $5.99

"Those Were the Days" by Julie Kenner. As a child Sylvia Preston was abused so as an adult avoids relationships. When she looks at a painting at a "sex" exhibit in San Francisco, Sylvia is transported to a 1923 gala where she meets Tucker Green, who wants her, but learns he must earn her trust. "Pistols at Dawn" by Nancy Warren. In Paris, Natalie Bowman and Andrew Greenwood are in love and engaged to be married soon yet something is not right in their relationship as their priorities are off kilter. They will learn what really counts in life, but their lesson takes them back to 1857. "Time After Time" by Jo Leigh. NYU graduate student Betty Kroger dissertation topic is The Social Impact of Sexual Mores During WW II; a perfect topic for her as she feels out of place as if she was born in the wrong time. However, when she is sent to 1945, Betty feels more at home feeling she will find her true love in this period especially after meeting dear John Stevens. These three torrid time travel romances are fun tales connected by the modern day sex exhibit, strong protagonists, and solid story lines.

Killing Me Softly
Jenna Mills
Signature Select
ISBN: 0373837054, $5.99

New Orleans reporter Renee Fox is stunned when her friend Savannah Trahan vanishes without a trace. The prime suspect Savannah's boyfriend, a ten year veteran of the New Orleans Police Department, Detective Cain Robichaud is cleared of all charges due to a lack of evidence though his law enforcement career is over as the shadow of doubt 'convicts" him among his peers. Disappointed with officialdom and though the trail is cold, Renee vows to keep digging until she learns the truth as she suspects Cain killed Savannah. Cain, haunted by his girlfriend's disappearance and feelings of guilt for not being there for her, swears he will find Savannah alive or her corpse and killer. As he makes inquiries, he realizes that someone wants the case to remain cold and is willing to kill to achieve that objective. The cop also fears that obstinate Renee is upsetting this unknown culprit and could be next; he pledges to keep the woman who has entered his heart safe. This romantic suspense thriller enables the audience to compare Cain's relationships with the two best friends, Renee and Savannah by using flashbacks to tell the latter tale. The story line is action-packed though some readers will insist Cain falls in love too easily while others will appreciate the strong torrid attraction between him and the woman who suspects he got away with murder.

The Cinderella Pact
Sarah Strohmeyer
ISBN: 0525949577, $24.95

Her day job is a Sass magazine editor. Her peers and staff assume she is an overweight spinster. At night Nola Ann Devlin turns into highly regarded Sass magazine ethics columnist Belinda Apple; a model built British expatriate. Belinda's article on losing weight leads to her (as Nola) and her two best friends, Nancy and Deb to heed the advice; they form the Cinderella Pact to help each other lose weight and maintain a slim lifestyle. Wealthy attorney Nancy hires a personal trainer. Married with children Deb decides to undergo surgery. Nola cannot afford a trainer and fears the surgery operation. However, Nola runs into personal problems accentuated by her Sass superiors trying to uncover the identity of their superstar Belinda. With her car broken, Deb rides to and from work with Chip, who roots for her in a weightlifting contest against a macho male at the gym she joined. She is attracted to Chip who reciprocates, but he too has a secret identity. Hiding them lead to trust issues between them; not hiding them lead to bigger trust issues. This lighthearted romp based on the American makeover craze is a bubbly and zany tale that readers will enjoy as they root for the three females to succeed in their underlying real objective: find someone to love them. As Nola or as Belinda, the heroine holds the fun story line together with a solid support from family, friends, workers, and especially Chip. Fans will appreciate Nola's efforts to become more like the outgoing brassy Belinda in a fine serio-comic frolic.

Dead in Vineyard Sand
Phillip R. Craig
ISBN: 0743270444, $24.00, 224 pp.

On the surface Martha's Vineyard is a bright beautiful quaint place where the rich go in the summer to vacation. However, there is another side to the island one that is dark and crime ridden just like any other place; soon former police officer J.W. Jackson will cross paths with some of the most evil criminals he has ever known and he has known plenty before he got injured on the job. Radical conservationist Henry Highsmith would like to see only bicycles driven on the island and a halt to building new golf courses. J.W. who doesn't care either way gets into a fight with Henry when the environmentalist wrongly accuses the ex cop. of almost running over his bike. A few days later at the golf course J.W. and others find the buried body of Henry murdered with a bullet in his head. A witness says they saw J.W. following Henry's wife and run her off the road. Since J.W. becomes a person of interest to the police, he starts his own investigation to clear his name. The picture turns more complicated when Henry's wife is shot and is in critical condition in the hospital. J.W. keeps digging and what he finds make active and retired police officers like him sick to their stomach. Readers see why year round residents and summer bird visitors love life on Martha's Vineyard. Part of the charm of the series is the protagonist's obvious love for his family that reader can verify by his interactions with them. There are plenty of suspects who could be the killer but J.W. and the police lack any credible evidence to get an arrest. Phillip R. Craig is a witty storyteller who excels at creating believable characters inside an exciting and entertaining who-done-it.

The Rapture
Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins
ISBN: 141430580X, $25.95, 384 pp.

The countdown to the Rapture has begin and though he doesn't know it will happen soon, Nicolae Carpathia, is making plans with the help of his spirit guide (Lucifer) to take control of the world. He blackmails the president of Romania using intimidation and threats to his family into stepping down from his post and the outgoing president declares to the people that Carpathia should be the next president. Raymond Steele, enamored of flight attendant Hattie Durham neglects his wife and his young son Jamie, thinking they are fools for being so involved in the church. Days before Carpathia makes his speech to the United Nations, the Rapture occurs and his sprit guide shows him how to use the disappearances to his advantage. Raymond's wife Irene has almost given up hope that her husband will turn into the man who showered her with love. When the trumpet sounds, Irene and Jamie are lifted into heaven given new bodies and minds. There they are judged for how they lived their life after they received salvation. They see and explore heaven and interact with God and his son. Irene, happy at last still prays that Raymond and Chloe, her daughter, will seek salvation through the Lord. THE RAPTURE explores in depth the characters of the protagonists and the antagonists of the Left Behind series. It is a fulfilling novel that answers many questions not covered in the other books in the series like why Raymond's first officer committed suicide and how Carpathia persuaded the president of Romania to step down. The authors have written another fascinating and revolutionary work in a series that most readers wish will never end.

The Bachelor Trap
Elizabeth Thornton
ISBN: 0553587544, $6.99

In 1815 in Longbury, England, someone kills elderly Edwinna Gunn, but the constable assumes she just took a tragic accidental fall as except for ink on the victim's fingers, nothing is amiss. One year later following a performance of Much Ado About Nothing, someone elbows the twenty seven years old spinster daughter of an earl, Lady Marion Dane; she is saved from a potentially lethal fall by crashing into a big man. Baseborn son of a duke Brand Hamilton, who courts Marion wanting her in his bed, rushes to her side to insure she is okay because he feared for her life. Brand realizes as she lectures him to stop fussing that she only stubbed her toe. He realizes he need more than just a tryst with Marion. Marion wonders why Brand wants her, but ponders even more so why someone wants her dead though the attempts have been made to look like accidents. Her only hope to stay alive is the man she should avoid Brand, whom has her heart afire. As they work together on a mystery that links Marion to Edwinna and several decades back, Marion and Brand fall in love, but first an assailant must be stopped. THE BACHELOR TRAP is an exhilarating Regency romantic suspense thriller. The lead couple is a likable pairing as they scandalize the aristocracy with their amateur sleuth courtship. The whodunit is cleverly designed to keep the audience and the two stars guessing though clues are available. Bestselling Elizabeth Thornton provides a wonderful historical thriller.

The First Betrayal
Patricia Bray
ISBN: 0553588761, $6.99

The Priest Josan had the most brilliant mind in the Collegium of the Learned Brethren located in the capital of Karystos in the Ikarian Empire until a fever broke his mind and body. He was sent to the lighthouse of Txomin's Island where he stayed to heal for five years until an assassin came to kill him. Defeating his foe, Josan realizes he has fighting skills that a priest and scholar should not possess. The islanders believe Josan is a murderer forcing him to leave. He obtains work in a stable run by Myles, who realizes what and who his new employee is. Myles takes Josan to Karystos to finish what was started before the Josan who was a priest was exiled, which means Josan defies the order of Nikos, the head of the collegium not to return until he says so. Josan knows Another inhabits his mind; this being must prevent Ysobel of the Sedddon Federation from achieving a devastating plan; failure means civil war for the Ikarian Empire. Patricia Bray is a great world builder who uses magic sporadically in THE FIRST BETRAYAL, which adds to the believability of the plot. The protagonist changes over the cause of his odyssey from a man with fragmented memories to a champion with strength to achieve his objective of preventing another civil war in the empire. Readers will eagerly look forward to the next tale in this superb fantasy series.

Sleeping With Fear
Kay Hooper
ISBN: 0553803182, $25.00, 304 pp.

Riley Crane, a member of the Special Crimes Unit made up of psychics, is sent to Opal Island to investigate occult symbols turning up on buildings. She wakes up one morning to find she has no memory of the last three weeks and her psychic powers are gone. A short distance away, a body of a man is found hanging from a rope without a head. The sheriff calls Riley to the crime scene hoping as a FBI agent she can help him out. She discovers that an occult ceremony has taken place in the area and she meets Ash who she instinctively knows is her lover. Ash discovers a scar on Riley that is the result of a taser. Someone was able to get past her guards and use it on her; she theorizes that a person performed black-occult activities using the energies released to keep Riley in a psychically weakened state. If she finds the person who attacked her, she will find the killer but even using Ash as a lifeline may be enough to ensure victory over her unknown enemy. SLEEPING WITH FEAR is different than any of the other Noah Bishop/Special Crimes unit novels because in this work the heroine loses her psychic powers and must use ordinary methods to conduct an investigation. Kay Hooper has the magic touch when it comes to writing paranormal thrillers leaving fans always eagerly awaiting her next masterpiece. It is a sure bet this novel will be on all the best seller lists.

Killer Dreams
Iris Johansen
ISBN: 0553803441, $26.00, 352 pp.

Sophie Dunston is close to her parents so she and her son Michael are spending time with them. Out of the blue her dad kills the wife he loves and cherishes and points the gun at his grandson. Sophie gets shot when she steps in between her two men. Later she learns that the sleep therapist her father was seeing was a minion of her first employer, Sanborne. She invented Rem-4, a drug that allowed people to be influenced into doing things while they sleep. When Sophie realized that Sanborne plans to sell the dangerous product to the highest bidder, she left him. Sanborne believes that Sophie is a loose end that he intends to get rid of starting with what happened to her dad. She proves difficult to kill ever since Royd entered her life as he was once one of Sanborne's brainwashed killers who broke through the conditioning. Like Sophie he plans to bring Sanborne down and destroy Rem-4. Sophie and Royd are attracted to one another, but they have a mission that needs to be finished before they can consider exploring a future together. Once again Iris Johansen writes a thriller that will grip readers so much that they will ignore any other nearby activity. The story-line contains so much action fans will believe they are on a looping roller coaster unable to catch their breath before plunging into the next spin. KILLER DREAMS is filled with adventure, but the romantic subplot between the two protagonists feels right as a natural outcome of what they have suffered, enhancing an adrenalin pumping thriller.

Shadow Man
Cody McFadyen
ISBN: 0553804650, $24.00, 360 pp.

She was the head of the child abduction and serial murder rescue center in Los Angeles (CASMIRC) but for the last six months she has been on leave since serial killer Joseph Sands destroyed her family and raped and tortured her. She killed him but both physical and emotional scars while grieving her loss leaves Smoky Barrett at the point where she'll either return to the FBI or eat her gun. That choice is made for her when learns that her best friend Annie Barnes was tortured, raped and killed and her daughter Bonnie was tied to her dead body for three days before the killer notified the police. He also leaves a note for Smokey daring her to catch him . Annie gave Smokey guardianship of her daughter, making her an instant mom who needs to hunt down her best friend's killer. He is the evilest murderer she ever hunted, a brilliant beast who calls himself Jack Jr. because he believes he was descended from Jack the Ripper. The antagonist in SHADOW MAN is as evil and fascinating as Hannibal Lechter is. The plot is as exciting as THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and the prose is precise and literary. There is a lot of action but the focus is on Smoky as the affects the investigation has on her are deep because the killer uses loved ones, including Anne's daughter, as potential hostages. Cody McFadyen has taken the serial killer sub-genre to new and exciting heights.

The Art of Detection
Laurie R. King
ISBN: 0553804537, $24.00, 368 pp.

The body of Phillip Gilbert wearing his pajamas is found in a deserted gun emplacement in the Marin headlands. San Francisco Police Inspectors Kate Martinelli and Al Hawkin catch the case and one of the first things they do is go to the victim's house to see if he was killed there. When they enter Gilbert's home, they are transported to another world, a perfect replica of Sherlock Holmes' abode. Phillip is a Sherlockian fan and along with nine other obsessive people with a Holmes fixation formed the Strand Diners who meet once a month for dinner and discussion about their detective. Kate and Al also learn that Phillip possessed a manuscript allegedly scribed by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle involving male prostitutes and transvestites. The protagonist of the story was murdered and placed in the same position as Phillip's body was. That means Gilbert showed the manuscript to someone, but who of the nine is the one and ergo the likely killer? The Kate Martinelli police procedurals are some of the best mysteries written because they are intellectual puzzlers clever wrapped around exciting whodunits. There are so many red herrings and unexpected shocking twists and turns that readers will have no time to catch their breath. Kate is a well rounded character who fans care about because they see her as a cop, a spouse and a mother.

Vanishing Point
Marcia Muller
ISBN: 0892968052, $24.95

San Francisco private investigator Sharon McCone shocks family, friends, colleagues, herself and her significant other corporate security specialist Hy Ripinsky when she agrees to marry him. The wedding is planned to be held in Nevada where before saying yes no one would have taken bets on McCone agreeing to marry even if she loves Hy though they respect one another as professionals. Meanwhile Jennifer Aldin hires McCone to investigate the disappearance of her mother Laurel Greenwood, who abruptly vanished over two decades ago. Apparently Laurel, a San Luis Obispo County landscape artist never came home from painting a California coastal scene; she left behind two preadolescent daughters and a spouse. McCone explains that the case is beyond cold to absolutely frigid, but agrees to make inquiries as Jennifer explains how it would have felt to be the older at ten years old and your beloved mom never came home. As McCone digs up the past, she uncovers a different portrait of Laurel, a much darker person than that described by Jennifer. When someone tries to frighten her off the case. McCone obstinately digs deeper even as she reconsiders Reno with Hy. The twenty-fourth McCone mystery is the sleuth at her best as her investigation into the missing mom makes her reconsider marriage. The story line is as always owned by McCone whose personal commitment issues enhance a terrific cold case investigation. Fans of the series will want to read this one sitting novel like yesterday and newcomers will scramble for the backlist. Perhaps the only negative point is that those of us who have followed McCone from the days of her one person office will feel middle age drifting away as thirty years have passed; thank goodness that Marcia Muller has made the years fun.

A Field of Darkness
Cornelia Read
ISBN: 089296023X, $22.95, 288 pp.

In 1988 coming from Long Island affluence, though the poorer side of the extended family, Madeline Dare surprises her family and fiends when she marries railroad worker Dean Bauer and moves to his hometown of Syracuse, New York. Madeline struggles with her venture outside of civilization especially since her spouse is on the road, make that the rails, in Canada a lot. While Dean is away from home, Madeline writes fluffy articles for the Syracuse Weekly newspaper. Madeline visits Dean's family farm. Her father-in-law shows her the dog tags of Lapthorne Townsend, her favorite cousin from the Oyster Bay, Long Island kin, that he discovered in a field in which two unidentified girls were found murdered with their throats cut in 1969. With a need to prove Lapthorne's innocence, Madeline investigates the cold case homicides. A FIELD OF DARKNESS is a terrific chick lit amateur sleuth starring a delightful in your face protagonist on a crusade to prove her relative could not have killed anyone two decades ago. The story line is filled with plausible twists as the heroine stumbles, rumbles, and tumbles her investigation. Madeline's asides on social issues add to the fun of a wonderful tale ably augmented by strong support characters who mange to bring the best and worst, most times both of magnificent Madeline.

Dead Center
David Rosenblatt
ISBN: 0892960027, $24.95

Wealthy Patterson, New Jersey attorney Andy Carpenter picks and chooses cases that fascinate him, but lately nothing captivates his interest as he misses his beloved Laurie Collins, who moved back to Findlay, Wisconsin to become the acting chief of police in her hometown. Laurie arrests twenty-one years old college student Jeremy Davidson for the murders of two coeds, Elizabeth Barlow and her friend Sheryl Hendricks. Though the evidence is overwhelming that he committed the homicides, her gut says otherwise. She calls Andy to come to Center City to defend Jeremy; only for Laura would Andy accompanied by his canine Tara travel to Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, the case spins from his client's love life to a religious cult, but the means, motive, and opportunity still points at Jeremy. The fifth Carpenter legal thriller starts off as a terrific tale with the hero depressed over his beloved leaving home for the Midwest and continues solidly as he defends Jeremy in a courtroom. When the tale spins in the direction of a cult, it loses a bit of its steam. Still fans of the series will enjoy DEAD CENTER as Andy struggles with the defense including the role of the religious order, trying to reassemble his love life, and even more difficult finding a decent pizza for Tara.

Lying in Bed
M. J. Rose
ISBN: 0373605080, $13.95

Marlowe Wyatt feels she made the mistake of a lifetime when she failed to tell her beloved Joshua how much she loved him. When he died she was left with remorse and sorrow; she hopes he knows now though he would be disappointed in her as she has quit on life; unable to cope with relationships out of fear that people die. Instead she buries herself at work and with her art writing erotic letters that lovers would exchange to let their significant other know how much he or she cares; something she failed to do with Joshua. New client Gideon awakens the woman inside of Marlowe that has lied dormant since Joshua died. However, she knows he is off limits as he has a girlfriend even as Gideon encourages her to get out to enjoy the world and to write special letters for him only. Inspiring her, she falls in love with Gideon, but knows nothing can come of it as he has someone else. Marlowe is a fascinating protagonist as she struggles with grief for her Joshua and remorse for failing to tell him she loved him and a new wave of guilt for feeling again as she transitions from living dead to living. LYING IN BED is an erotic character study starring a wonderful lead character whose emotions will grip the audience from start to finish. M.J. Rose displays her depth of talent with this switch from suspense to erotica.

Montana Gold
Genell Dellin
ISBN: 0373771533, $5.99

Though she suffers from phobias, Farrell "Elle" Hawthorne overcomes her fears to become a talented rodeo bullfighter. Five-time bronco busting champion Chase Lomax hopes to win one more belt before he turns forty. These two meet and though he is over a decade older than her, they are deeply attracted to one another. However, an accident leaves Elle and Chase with doubts that they can perform at the level needed to succeed. She failed to keep a bull from goring him. Their respective confidences shattered, Ellen and Chase rely on one another to pull through this crisis of faith. However, as they feel a deep growing affection for one another other, their pasts arrive with demands that could separate the two healing love birds. Elle and Chase are terrific protagonists because each has personal flaws that could end their relationship before it can barrel out of the gate. The story line is character driven with the insight into rodeo life so ingrained as background it seems like a support character. Elle is especially an intriguing player as she obsesses in making it in what is the male dominated segment of the sport, dancing with the bulls. MONTANA GOLD is a warm contemporary romance.

Code Name: Blondie
Christina Skye
ISBN: 0373771231, $6.99

Photographer Miki Fortune is working on a full color calendar of models on dozens of beaches when she leaves for the next spot on a dilapidated plane. A storm forces an emergency landing at sea near another island. Navy SEAL Max Preston saves her life, but is put off by doing so. Max is working with his canine partner Truman trying to locate psychotic former Foxfire teammate Enrique Cruz, governmentally enhanced Ops. Like Truman Max has also been altered so his tactile skills enable him process biochemical indicators. Miki destroys his ability to use his sense of touch because he prefers to believe that his attraction to her is stronger than his improved senses rather than she is an uncover associate of Cruz. The Code Name series (see CODE NAME: BABY) are some of the most fun action adventure romances on the market today. Max, Miki, and Truman are a terrific trio who find themselves in one harrowing situation after another. Adding to the good time is that Max distrusts Miki though Truman adores her while she reciprocates the canine's feelings but thinks his playmate is a lunatic. Fans will enjoy this exhilarating romantic suspense thriller because of the threesome.

Animal Instincts
Gena Showalter
ISBN: 0373771525, $13.95

Party planner Naomi Delacroix decides to no longer allow men to use her as a doormat especially the way her cheating ex-spouse did. Instead she vows that she will be the user, "Unleashing the Tigress Within". She is determined to be the queen of mean, chewing and spitting out men. Her makeover seems perfect until wealthy Royce Powell hires her to plan a surprise party for his mother. Royce selected Naomi allegedly because he liked the work he performed for a friend six months ago, but that is only an excuse to see her. His hidden agenda is based on being in love with Naomi. Besides honoring his mom, working with Naomi he believes will provide him the opportunity to prove that not all men are rats like her former husband. Naomi the tiger woman finds herself acting like a precocious kitten whenever Royce is nearby. This engaging contemporary romance stars a wonderful, patient and nurturing hunk trying to subtly yet shrewdly persuade the woman he loves that men can be loyal and faithful with one woman; not all are philandering rodents. Naomi is a fascinating protagonist whose behavior towards men is nasty yet readers know that is her defense mechanism against being used and hurt again. Fans will wonder if Royce can penetrate the barriers surrounding her heart.

A Distant Tomorrow
Bertrice Small
ISBN: 0373771169, $13.95

Five years have passed since the war between Outlands and Hetar (see LARA). Outlands High Council clan leader is murdered by his brother Adon in a power grab. However the deceased's half mortal wife Lara avenges his death by calling for her sword Andraste and slicing off the treacherous sibling head before leaving to fulfill her destiny though from the darkness Adon tells her Hetar is coming and she will no longer be legend. Leaving her children behind, Lara begins her quest to fulfill the destiny she avoided by crossing the large sea. However, Lara fails and is captured and given as a present to Terah ruler Magnus. He quickly finds his beautiful prisoner fascinating as she does not fear speaking her mind, but does so intelligently. When she lifts a curse that has ravaged his land, Magnus agrees to take her home. However, Gaius awaits Magnus' arrival with an assassination plan that will leave him as the monarch. War seems imminent with only Lara capable of preventing it, but her chances seem slim even if a prophecy is fulfilled. The second World of Hetar romantic fantasy is a terrific tale starring a strong female (duh - this is a Bertrice Small novel) and a world in which treachery is the norm. The action filled plot is driven by Lara, a terrific heroine whose adventures make for a superb thriller. Fans of romance and fantasy alike will enjoy this spellbinding book. Though reading Lara first provides some extra knowledge, A DISTANT TOMORROW stands alone as Ms. Small provides a strong epic tale.

Eye of the Storm
Dee Davis
ISBN: 0373771630, $5.99

In Corpus Christie, just after her soon to be former brother-n-law Martin arrives to crash for a while, Simone Cooper-Sheridan receives the post card warning her that a storm is brewing. Before the ex CIA Division 9 agent can flee, assailants attack shooting Martin. She gets him to another family house where she works on his wound at the same time that her husband Reese, a former Ranger turned lawyer, angrily arrives. She finally explains her secrets that tore apart their marriage just as another assault occurs. The three flee with Simone hoping to keep the two men she loves safe while reaching her former superior. As the police seek Reese for questioning on a potential homicide of his brother and wife, Isabella Ramirez seeks revenge for a CIA incident several years ago in Nicaragua that left most of her loved ones dead. Though having Reese as an ex Ranger seems too convenient and Martin handles rather easily being shot nearly drowned and other assaults like these are an everyday occurrence, fans will appreciate this gender bending romantic suspense thriller. From the first bullet, the audience will comprehend how competent Simone is whether it is eluding the bad guys, removing a bullet and stitching a wound, or fighting back against her opponents. Reese is a strong ally as he begins to understand why his beloved hid the truth though he resents what she has brought to Martin. EYE OF THE STORM is a delightful Dee Davis thriller.

Express Male
Elizabeth Beverly
ISBN: 0373771126, $6.99

In Cleveland pianist Marnie Lundy dreams of playing at Carnegie, but for now plays at Lauderdale's department store. One night after work in the parking lot, a man arrives handing her a package; another man tries to take the package; and a third man succeeds, but snatches her too. Marnie has no idea what is going on, but each male called her Lila. The third man says his name is Noah Tennant code name "Sinatra"; that the first individual was the Philosopher and the second the Sorcerer. His top secret Office of Political Unity and Security (OPUS) has been searching for Lila for five months and the Sorcerer for two years. She insists she is not Lila, but Marnie. As he learns she is telling the truth, he investigates why two women look identical and recruits Marnie to help them find their best agent the missing for five months Lila and the lethal treacherous Sorcerer. Like Marnie readers will wonder who slipped that hallucinatory drug in her water from the moment the frightened Philosopher dumps his "book" on her until the final confrontation between her and Sinatra as she forces him to sing what is in his heart. The story line is action-packed with Elizabeth Bevarly lampooning espionage thrillers while providing a strong romantic suspense thriller. The Lila-Marnie scenario is obvious yet the audience will not care as fans will wonder if OPUS is what Homeland security is all about in a fun sequel to YOU GOT MALE.

A Gift of Grace
Inglath Cooper
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373780974, $5.75

At the time of the little girl's birth, Caleb Tucker could not cope with what happened to his beloved Laney, mother of the child. She had been raped and beaten to the point that she existed on a machine until she gave birth and died. Caleb gave up Grace for adoption. Sophie Owens adopted Grace and loves the little girl as if she came from her womb. Now three years later her worse nightmare has surfaced in real life. Caleb Tucker wants custody of Grace. Sophie refuses to surrender her little girl as she knows what it is like to be unwanted and unloved, which is what she believes Caleb will offer her child. Caleb assumes life stinks and is unfair, so what else is new. However, a matchmaking victim of a hate crime begins to bring out the best in both adults, who soon begin to fall in love with each other; they each already love Grace. Could a miracle occur and a family form based on love not hate. A GIFT OF GRACE is a warm contemporary family drama starring likable people coping with tragedy and triumph. Caleb and Sophie are fully dimensional protagonists who start off as antagonists. The fascination with the deep story line lies in the conflict between them over what is best for Grace; each one insists that they are the one to raise the infant using logic to defend their argument, but deep inside their respective psyche Sophie and Caleb knows they need Grace perhaps more than the baby needs them. The expected romance is deftly handled to support the debate over Grace.

Hot Item
Carly Phillips
ISBN: 0373771223, $7.99

The middle child raised by her Uncle Yank, Sophie prefers to work the public relations behind the scenes at their sports management agency, The Hot Zone. However, she cannot stay quiet in a corner at the moment because partner and top sports agent Spencer Atkins has gone into hiding following the news that he is gay; a no-no in the macho athletic world. Sophie cannot depend on her older sister Annabel as she just gave birth (see HOT STUFF), her younger sibling Micki who is on her honeymoon (see HOT NUMBER) or even Uncle Yank who eloped with his long time assistant Lola. She needs to locate Spence or they will lose the Heisman trophy winner John Cashman as a client probably to the Cambrias Agency. Meanwhile superstar NFL quarterback Riley Nash seeks Spencer for another reason. Spence is his biological father and he wants to insure that the sports agent does not open his mouth at a time when his adoptive dad runs for the US Senate from Mississippi. Riley realizes how ironic it is that he always wanted Spence to acknowledge him. When Riley learns that Sophie is going to Florida to find Spence, he decides to accompany her to insure nothing goes wrong. Already, attracted to one another Sophie and Riley fall in love, but first must locate a missing sports agent. HOT ITEM is a terrific closer to a fabulous sports romance trilogy. The story line stars two individuals attracted to one another, but she wants nothing to do with a jock and he prefers short term relationships though he loves to tease and taunt her. The tale is a stand alone, but newcomers will appreciate Carly Phillips' talent that much more by reading the siblings' tales first. This is one hot mini series that is a winner from start to finish.

Hurricane Hannah
Sue Civil-Brown
ISBN: 0373771142, $6.99

Pilot Hannah Lamont buys, refurbishes, and sells corporate jets. Her latest purchase suddenly has problems forcing her to seek an emergency landing spot in the middle of the Caribbean. Hannah lucks out as she lands on an airstrip on Treasure Island. Airport owner Buck Shanahan is irate as her landing cost him a key winning hand in poker that would have decided the fate of the island. His opponent Bill Anston wants to build a major casino; Buck wants to maintain the status quo of tiki hut casinos. Wondering if she landed in a rabbit hole of poker players as all disputes are decided by cards, Hannah and Buck begin to fall in love, something neither desires even as an alligator acts like a puppy dog around the female outsider. HURRICANE HANNAH is a wild zany contemporary romance starring a heroine who believes she crashed her plane inside Lewis Carroll's rabbit hole especially as she meets and plays poker with the eccentrics that make up the support cast (including Buster the alligator). The story line is played for laughs as Buck and Hannah are attracted to one another, but try unsuccessfully to keep their distance. The use of poker to mediate disputes (picture Bush vs. Kerry or Bush vs. Kim over the draw of cards) seems a better approach to dispute resolution; the final confrontation between Hannah and volcanologist Edna Harkin with the weapons of choice being poker and the stakes a couple of hunks proves that. Sue Civil-Brown provides a way out tale that satires romance novels, politics, and the poker trend.

Tori Carrington
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373792530, $4.75

In the New Orleans French Quarter, homicide detective Alan Chevalier is stunned when he sees Molly Laraway for the first time.. However, Molly explains that she is the fraternal twin of recently murdered Claire, a case he has not solved in the two weeks since they found the beautiful woman's corpse. Molly insists on knowing how well his investigation is going; he insists on her going home back to Toledo, but the obstinate Molly informs him she will be there until her sibling's infamous "Quarter Killer" is caught. Convinced that Molly will hang around amateurishly sleuthing with "Dangerous Liaisons", Alan decides to make her useful in his bed though he also considers using her as bait to lure the culprit out into the open. As they fall in love he begins to doubt the wisdom of using her as a lure though both expect their relationship to end when the killer is caught because both Molly and Alan have commitment issues. SUBMISSION, the third Dangerous Liaisons thriller (see OBSESSION and POSSESSION), is a heated tense police procedural romance starring two flawed individuals struggling with a serial killer and even more with love. The sleuthing is fun though it takes a back seat to the relationship between the lead couple. Fans will enjoy this strong romantic suspense with an odd final twist that no one could anticipate yet the clues were out in the open.

Don't Tempt Me
Dawn Atkins
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373792573, $4.75

Boudoir photographer Samantha Sawyer enjoys her vocation as she believes her pictures help couples rekindle the passion. She sets her background on her personal fantasies, which has never come true. Still she dreams one day to share quality bed time with someone who loves her. As her business booms Sam needs an assistant. She hires Rick West who is perfect for the job, but soon she dreams that he is her one. Sam begins setting up for her passionate fantasy with Rick as her partner. However, though Rick reciprocates and wants to star in her sex games, he is undercover using her erotic photography business as a front; he knows once his Sam learns the truth their fantasy will turn into a nightmare. Dawn Atkins provides a delightful torrid romantic suspense with Rick's undercover work coming later in the story line. Sam and Rick are likeable protagonists in and out of bed. Her occupation adds a fun element as she employs it to herself with the hunk that stirs her insides. Sam's vivid imagination has Rick performing under cover work with her and that makes this a fine tale that readers will enjoy.

Falling Out of Bed
Mary Schramski
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 037388091X, $5.50

Her father Stanley has always been a healthy workaholic horse until now. At seventy-two Stanley has cancer so his daughter Melinda, though in denial, brings him to live with her. Melinda who already quit her job as a schoolteacher since her spouse David has been successful plans to care for her ailing dad. David resents Melinda's attention given to Stanley and is upset that they never really spoke about this. Melinda's mother, divorced from Stanley, has mixed feelings about her ex's health. However Melinda and her dad forge a strong relationship and she begins to realize that you live only once so don't waste it snoozing, but the cost of her lesson could prove great. FALLING OUT OF BED is a complex family drama that focuses on the impact of a debilitating lethal illness on the prime caretaker and indirectly on others in her inner circle. Melinda struggles with seeing how helpless and hopeless her father has fallen while David feels guilt in spite of logically understanding why he still resents the attention his wife gives to his father-in-law. The other support cast members seem real as they, like Melinda and David, can get frustrated with Stanley. Yet interestingly with the struggles to decide what is right for everyone in a situation with no chance for win-win, this tale contains a brilliant underlying message of hope and faith that aging boomers will appreciate.

Flying Lessons
Peggy Webb
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 0373880928, $5.50

Fifty-three years old Beth Holt Martin think her life stinks as she is bored of being the dull spouse of nice psychiatrist Dr. Howard Martin. She knows there has to be more to life and that her feelings of discontentment have nothing to do with the empty nest that she now rules over. However, what makes everything hit home is a deja vu observation of her oldest daughter reliving her life. Beth decides to find the missing woman she once was by seeking out the dreams she had in her youth. She leaves Howard behind on a quest to seek her lost soul for she plans to spread her wings and fly solo though at the end of the rainbow she may come back to Howard; assuming he waits for her. The key that makes FLYING LESSONS a sensational character study is not the heroine seeking her wings, but the support cast; Howard and the kids are nice people so that Beth's dissatisfaction with life cannot be blamed on negativity by them. Instead the people in her life depend on her as they know she is a loving person. Thus when the fiftyish Beth wonders what happened to her dreams and begins an allegorical quest to find them, the audience obtains a well written deep drama of people doing the best they could while making solid choices that seem right then but years later haunt them with what if. Peggy Webb writes a wonderful tale that the contemporary crowd will devour.

The Unspoken Years
Lynne Hugo
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 0373880944, $5.50

Growing up in abusive home ruled by a psychotic mother Elizabeth was not easy for Ruth or her brother Roger. Out of nowhere they could by physically punished without any idea what they did. Their mom could become unhinged in a nanosecond while a moment before she was euphoric and happy. For the siblings childhood was not just an unhappy place, it was hell. As an adult Ruth realizes her mother was crazy, but that does not provide any solace to her as she trusts no one; she believes Roger is probably even more unbalanced than she is. Ruth fears relationships especially loving ones as she knows that love hurts. Evan loves Ruth and tries to reach out to her with no success. Still he is there for his beloved and nudges her to open up to him though he doubts she will ever believe that he will always be there for her. This well written novel provides a deep intense and often emotional look at the impact on an adult when they were abused as a child. The graphic story line uses flashbacks to Ruth's mother whose detrimental personality causes seemingly non-repairable harm to her children. Readers will find Ruth fascinating as her fears will shake readers with her concerns she is a chip off the old block and should not have children. She is also afraid she will unable to walk away from an abusive relationship (sounds so simple yet so impossible). Although not for everyone, Lynne Hugo will have her audience ponder long after reading THE UNSPOKEN YEARS how the child becomes the adult.

Her Secret Family
Sherry Lewis
Harlequin Super Romance
ISBN: 0373713495, $5.50

Tulsa Narcotics Detective Jolene Preston is stunned to learn that the man who raised her is not her biological father; instead she learns she is Native American. Already an outsider within her unit as its only female, Jolene wonders how much additional prejudice the men will toss her way once they discover her background. Still feeling a need to know more about her paternal culture, Jolene asks her neighbor Mason Blackfox for help. Mason does not want to help Jolene trace her roots as he has his own secret that he hides even from his daughter. Still he feels obligated so he guides Jolene on her quest to know more about being a part Cherokee. As Jolene and Mason begin to fall in love, his somewhat on the wild side daughter Debra demands to know more what happened to her grandparents, part of a three decade old cover-up by powerful adversaries who will kill to keep secrets buried. HER SECRET FAMILY is a solid contemporary romance in which the adult love subplot takes a back seat to the issues facing Native Americans as assimilation vs. traditon is deftly interwoven into the story line. Mason is an intriguing protagonist who has in many ways turned his back on his heritage to the point of rejecting his best friend's request to honor the deceased man who raised them and aliening his daughter by rejecting her need to understand her roots. Jolene forces him to confront his past and present if he wants a future with her. Though their romance is secondary, fans will enjoy Sherry Lewis' fine contemporary.

An Unlikely Father
Cynthia Thomason
Harlequin Super Romance
ISBN: 0373713452, $5.50

Fishing tour operator-owner Helen Sweeny runs her business out of Heron Point, Florida near Tampa. She is stunned to learn she is pregnant since she and her boyfriend Donny practiced safe sex. However, when she informs Donny that she is carrying his child, he abandons her. Newcomer Ethan Anderson arrives in town to open the latest family inn when he meets Helen, who almost ran him over. He finds her fascinating on land and at sea; as they fall in love, she worries about telling him she is carrying someone else's "bean" as he says he does not ever want kids. When she finally informs him, Ethan has doubts about raising a child especially one that is not his. Helen and Ethan make for a fine contemporary romance as each evolves while their love grows. Helen hides the truth because she fears his rejection as she really likes Ethan and he has already told her no children. On the other hand Ethan likes Helen, but is upset that she failed to tell him the truth though he understands why she concealed it and struggles with someone else's bean in her belly. Fans will enjoy Cynthia Thomason's fine tale due to the realistic, caring and growing relationship between the two protagonists.

The Other Woman
Brenda Novak
Harlequin Super Romance
ISBN: 0373713444, $5.50

Elizabeth O'Connell is stunned to learn she is THE OTHER WOMAN as her spouse Keith had another wife Reenie before her that he returned to, abandoning her and their children. Though now divorced for the sake of the children who she believes need a father even a cheating one, she relocates moving to his hometown of Dundee. There she opens up The Chocolaterie Store and raising their two children Mica and Christopher as a single mother. Friends set up Liz on a blind date with senatorial aide Carter Hudson. She dislikes his ease of talking about her personal mess and his condemnation of her letting Keith get away with his crap. However, Carter does not allow the fact that she has two kids deter him from seeing Liz. She soon sees how kind he is to her children and how much he tries to help her at her shop. Though she vowed never again Liz falls in love with Carter, who reciprocates her feelings, but she wonders if she can trust love after the Keith fiasco. THE OTHER WOMAN is an interesting contemporary romance starring a likable woman who though upset with her former spouse remains on good terms with him especially for the sake of their children as the character driven story line is kept focused on Liz. Carter is an intriguing protagonist who sounds obnoxious on their first blind date, but proves first opinions can be false as he turns out to be a nice nurturing person. Brenda Novak writes a warm second chance at love starring a deserving female and the man who wants her forever.

Mason's Marriage
Tina Leonard
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373751176, $4.99

The night before she married Brian Flannigan, Mimi Cannady had sex with Mason Jefferson, the man she always loved, but who she believes saw her as his best buddy. When she said I do, Mason realizes he made a mistake because the woman he loves is someone else's wife. Mason has recently become the sheriff replacing Mimi's father. Soon afterward, Mimi informs him that he, not Brian, sired her child Nanette. Outraged, he informs Mimi that their daughter will live at his family's ranch Malfunction Junction, which he assumes means Mimi too now that she is no longer married. However, Mimi knows she cannot live at the ranch suffering from unrequited love. Mason has to persuade that he always loved her and not just for Nanette's sake. Though a wee bit of communication could have avoided heartache, the latest Cowboys by the Dozen tale is a terrific contemporary ranch romance starring two protagonists whose simmering heat has been in the background through the early tales. The story line is character driven as Mimi and Mason must find a way to relate to the other how they feel. Fans of this delightful mini series will enjoy this fine finish (including the solving of a family mystery) to an enjoyable series.

Capturing the Cop
Michele Dunaway
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373751206, $4.99

In St, Louis thirty years old good girl Olivia Jacobson wants to release the inner bad girl as she is tired of having no fun especially with the dating scene. At the rate she is going with the opposite sex, she will be the last virgin. Of course once she makes up her mind to have blinding night of sex, she now needs to select a hunk. Police Detective Garrett Krause agreed to the calendar spread to raise money for charity; he may have said no in spite of the good cause if he knew what being Mr. August meant as women have invaded his space wanting illicit sex with him. He thinks the gender is missing a loose screw and that is not him. Working on the calendar Olivia decides Mr. August is the right man to heat her loins. When she turns from demure nice girl into a siren, he wants to say no, but finds he cannot resist her lure. However, if she scores, she ponders what next as she is deeply attracted to the cop, a feeling she never had before. CAPTURING THE COP is a fun contemporary Jacobson romance starring two likable protagonists. The story line focuses on Olivia trying to throw off the "shackles" of her family so that she can enjoy life just a bit. Garrett is attracted to the good girl as much as the bad girl. Readers will enjoy Michele Dunaway's latest Jacobson romantic caper (see EMERGENCY ENGAGEMENT) due to the feisty heroine.

The Rookie Club
Danielle Girard
ISBN: 0451218744, $6.99, 320 pp.

It was fifteen years ago when first year female police officers formed THE ROOKIE CLUB, a support group that the woman needed because they received no respect or aid from the male hierarchy that is the power in the San Francisco police department. In the present, one of the original rookies Jamie Vail has dropped out of going to the meetings because she caught her husband in bed with fellow club member Natasha Devlin. Jamie is now an inspector in the sex crimes division and she is working a case in which someone is targeting member of the Rookie Club, violently raping them. Although Jamie knows who the rapist is, she has no evidence to arrest him and he is too careful to give the police any leads. When Natasha is murdered, Jamie wants nothing to do with the case but her rapist hints that he saw the killing. Jamie finds she is working both cases in order to ferret out the rapist who will give her the killer not realizing she is putting her life in danger from a killer who won't let anyone take him down. THE ROOKIE CLUB is a police procedural thriller that shows how far women have come in the police department and how far for they have to go. Jamie's life is in turmoil as her ex-husband is arrested in Cassandra's death, a homeless boy sees a police officer knife Jamie's dog and she is playing "mommy" to an alcoholic who struggles to stay sober. She is an admirable role model and the story line is very exciting because nobody will guess the identity of the killer. Danielle Girard is a brilliant crime writer whose works are on a par with Kay Hooper, Lisa Gardner and J.D. Robb.

Barbara Freethy
ISBN: 0451218736, $6.99

Kayla Sheridan marries, but instead of spending an evening of bliss, her groom Nick Granville vanishes. The stunned bride visits her spouse's home to confront him, but the man who greets her is not her husband though he claims and proves that he is Nick Granville. Both are taken aback as Nick, who has been overseas for months on a bridge construction project realizes someone has taken identity theft to a new level. The thief lived in Nick's home, spent his money, and married in his name. Already suspicious as to the identity of the conman, Kayla's description affirms Nick's believe that his college days' enemy Evan Chadwick pulled a stunt. He can understand why him, but neither Nick nor Kayla can figure out why her. As both know he still stalks them, the duo agree they need to comprehend why Evan picked her because he would not have used her if she did not fit into the equation. This is an exhilarating romantic suspense with the emphasis on the amateur sleuth investigation conducted by the two targets. Barbara Freethy leaves clues to what is going on especially the real link between Evan and Kayla, yet the fascination is trying to separate out those that provide information from the red herrings. The lead couple is a delightful teaming while the villain serves as a matchmaking cat toying with the two mice he brought together. Fans will enjoy this tense thriller.

The Code of Love
Cheryl Sawyer
ISBN: 0451218388, $14.00

English naval officer Sir Gideon Landor holds the treacherous Delphine Dalgeish responsible for his capture by the French legion. She, on the other hand, believes that Gideon deserved what he got as she handed over a contemptible double agent. Taken to the French island of Mauritius, Gideon manages to escape. The French assign Delphine to work in London obtaining information from the loose lips English aristocracy. At the same time Gideon is back home seeking to uncover Napoleon's secret message code. They see each other at galas and though both try to avoid the other, the attraction is like a moth to a fire that neither can prevent. Still each has a mission to accomplish and a loyalty to differing governments at war. Regency romance fans obtain a fantastic treat with Cheryl Sawyer's complex love vs. war thriller. The story line is filled with action but the center that holds the tale together is the relationship between the Englishman and Frenchwoman, both loyal to their respective countries. Gideon and Delphine seem genuine as they struggle with attraction that leads to love vs. allegiance and honor. THE CODE OF LOVE is a wonderful historical romance.

Even Vampires Get the Blues
Katie MacAlister
ISBN: 045121823X, $6.99

Moravian Dark One Paen Scott seems doomed as he is the only one of his brothers born without a soul. His only chance is to find his beloved who can bring his soul to him. However Paen has no hope in ever obtaining his soul as he does not believe in love so makes no efforts to try to find his soul mate; instead he spends his time translating ancient manuscripts. An Alastor, Casper Green shows poof to Paen that his father, away in South America, owes the Oriens a statue of the Jiln God and they have sent him to collect. Failure to pay will cost his mother her soul. Paen hires her half-breed human elf Samantha Cosse and her cousin purebred fairy Clare, who just opened up a private investigative firm as the former is excellent at locating lost items, to locate the missing artifact. Attracted to one another, she takes on another case to find her beloved's missing soul. EVEN VAMPIRES GET THE BLUES is a wild zany private investigative romantic fantasy in which the three elements blend smoothly together leading to readers having e a great time perusing this book. The story line is part humor yet builds suspense as fans ponder if Sam can save her soul mate, who refuses to recognize who she is, and his mother. As with SEX, LIES, AND VAMPIRES and SEX AND THE SINGLE VAMPIRE, Katie MacAlister provides a frenzied fun frolic.

Big Trouble
Marianna Jameson
ISBN: 0451218256, $6.99

Computer security specialist Naomi Connor is the best at doing the seemingly impossible of breaking through barriers that experts insist cannot breached. That is why companies clamor for her services to conduct the ultimate beta test of their systems security as she has left many skilled specialists red-faced. Defense contractor Brennan Shipping CIO Joe Casey hires her company who sends the world's greatest legal hacker Naomi to break into his new system. She finds it ironic that as a college student she illegally hacked into Brennan Shipping; now she can repeat her escapade legally and clean up any signatures left behind. When Joe and Naomi meet, sparks fly though neither wants an attraction between them. She needs to prove to the world that she has brains as much as beauty while he does not go out with workers or women for more than three dates. Still they fall in love, but he is a boat person and she cannot swim; besides which they must deal with a hacker trying to gain access to top military secrets though everyone concludes it must be her. BIG TROUBLE is a fine romantic suspense thriller that grips the audience from the moment that Naomi pleads her way onto the assignment and never slows down until the final confrontation with the hacker. The story line is fast-paced as the lead pair falls in love, but he struggles to trust her as she is the prime suspect. The glimpses at computer security are blended nicely into the plot so that the audience obtains a bit of understanding without slowing down the speed. Fans will enjoy Marianna Jameson's wonderful tale and seek her other work, MY HERO.

All U Can Eat
Emma Holly
ISBN: 0425209776, $13.00

In Six Palms, California after five years together and one last sexual encounter, Troy Wilcox informs Frankie Smith he is leaving her. At her diner Frankie realizes why Troy suddenly dumped her when his caffeine junkie boss Karen Ellis orders milk. Police Chief Jack West, who desires Frankie offers to arrest Troy, but she says do not bother. Frankie hires a new cook Michael True; they sleep together until they hear a noise. They investigate and find the corpse of Tish Whittier in her alley. Jack, who has worked homicide in Los Angeles, takes charge of the official investigation. However, the feisty fighting Frankie takes charge of the case as she knows she is the prime suspect. She plans to uncover the real culprit's identity not realizing the trouble that will bring to her from the residents who prefer secrets remain buried and from Jack wanting to keep his beloved safe. ALL U CAN EAT feels like a throwback to the 1930s lighthearted romantic whodunit romps. The fun story line stars an enchanting courageous female protagonist who will have the audience wonder whether she will turn to Michael or Jack as she conducts an amateur sleuth investigation that drives the Chief who loves her crazy for several reasons. Emma Holly cooks up an amusing sexually heated (profanities included) romantic mystery that has readers following the clues in and out of the heroine's bedroom from start to finish.

Sins and Needles
Monica Ferris
ISBN: 0425210030, $23.95

In Excelsior, Minnesota, the elderly and wealthy Edyth Hanraty, was apparently recently murdered. Most locals, especially the police, assume the eccentric multimillionaire was killed for her money; thus suspicion points towards Edyth's great niece, Jan, who is expected to inherit much of her fortune. Betsy Devonshire knows Jan, who frequents her store Crewel World, a needlework shop. The shopkeeper cannot believe that the kind and caring Jan would murder her relative to inherit early though she admits greed is a strong motive and Jan had the opportunities. Betsy, who enjoys solving a mystery as much as being proprietor of Crewel World, begins to investigate in an effort to prove Jan is innocent. She quickly finds a host of other family suspects with the motives of greed and envy. Betsy looks closer at Jan's mother, uncle and a newcomer from Texas claiming to be the prime suspect's long missing sibling. This is a terrific entry in one the better cozies on the market today as the suspects are fully developed so that the audience struggles to decide who would commit murder. The story line is fast-paced with Betsy doing what she does best, solving a homicide. Fans will appreciate her efforts as she embroiders the case one stitch at a time.

Tall, Dark & Dead
Tate Hallaway
ISBN: 0425209725, $14.00

Garnet Lacey is a non-practicing witch, who remains in hiding after a Vatican hunter squad destroyed her coven. She has vowed never to use her talents again so that she cannot be traced. Perhaps for most people that would be a simple resolution, but for Garnet that is not easy to adhere to because part of dark goddess Lilith dwells inside of her. To her chagrin Garnet is attracted to Sebastian Von Traum even as he frightens her because she cannot detect any aura emulating from him. Who is he she ponders as only limited creatures like vampires have no aura? Even more worrisome is the idea he could he be a Vatican assassin preparing to kill her. TALL, DARK & DEAD is a fabulous fantasy romance that will have readers believing in witches, vampires and ghosts oh my. The story line is driven by the lead pair as she is attracted to him, but doubts she can depend on him; on the other hand Sebastian desires Garnet, but knows that if he tries to keep her safe he could reveal his hiding place to dangerous enemies. If they fail to trust one another, their growing love will prove meaningless as their lethal foes are coming in a fabulous paranormal thriller that leaves readers with a one sitting winner.

Midnight Secrets
Jennifer St. Giles
ISBN: 0425209628, $6.99

In 1879 Cassie Andrews sees a vision of her cousin Mary dying at sea off the coast of Dartmouth. Unable to ignore what she "witnessed", she plans to learn how her relative ended in the cold water and who caused the "accident". Cassie disguises herself as a chambermaid to gain entrance to the estate of Sean Killaren, the last place Mary stayed where she hears of a curse in which he and his twin will kill one another. Cassie and Sean are immediately attracted to one another, but she fears that the man she is beginning to fall in love might be Mary's killer. Adding to the aura of mystery that surrounds Sean is he is a bibliophile, but the only books he collects are those who dwell on the topic of vampires. Cassie ponders whether the man who stole her soul is soulless. MIDNIGHT SECRETS is a terrific Victorian romantic suspense that grips the reader from the moment that Cassie has her vision and decides to become an amateur sleuth and never slows down until the mystery is resolved. Cassie is a fabulous heroine with a need to know the truth though she fears that once she learns it her heart will break. Sean is an enigmatic hunk who in some ways seems like a gothic antihero. The whodunit is fun to follow and the paranormal elements blend in completely so that readers obtain a great tale, which is no secret as Jennifer St. Giles always provides such to her audience.

Braced 2 Bite
Serena Robar
ISBN: 0425209768, $9.99

Colby Blanched is the typical sixteen year old, interested in boys, clothing and staying head cheerleader. Her normal life comes to a screeching halt when she is attacked by a man and left in a ravine. When she wakes up, she returns home to learn she has been missing for forty-eight hours. When she smells blood on her mother's hand, she starts drinking it until she is full. Tests by her aunt prove she is a vampire as she has no pulse or heartbeat. The Vampire Tribunal comes over to serve her with a summons because she is not a vampire but a half-breed Undead because she is too many generations removed to be a full Vampire. Undead have different abilities then vampires and the tribunal looks at them as abominations that must be destroyed. She has to appear before them and make a case that she should not be destroyed but she doesn't have a clue how she is going to manage it. Aimed at the young adult market BRACED 2 BITE will also be thoroughly enjoyed by adults who like chick lit serio-comic vampire novels. Since her incisors were removed when Colby wore braces her father makes her a mechanical contraption to take their place and some of the funniest bites in the book take place around them. The heroine is strong willed and willing to fight against the injustice of the Vampire Council in their deadly dealings with the undead. Readers will be happy to know that this is just the beginning of a charming, beguiling and totally entertaining new series.

Hot Ticket
Deirdre Martin, Julia London, Annette Blair & Geri Buckley
ISBN: 0425209784, $14.00

"Lucky Charm" by Julia London. New York Mets star Parker Price is in the throes of a terrible slump. Like many players he is superstitious and holds TV sports reporter Kelly O'Shay at fault for his lack of production as her attacks have bothered him. His solution is to turn her into his biggest fan. "Same Rink Next year" by Deirdre Martin. Goalie David Hewson and Tierney O'Connor are part-time lovers who always get together when he is in town playing the Blackhawks. However, this year a snow storm maroons them together giving them time to share more than just a sheet. "Hot Ticket Express" by Annette Blair. During a three day train ride, baseball superstar Tiago Santiago and his childhood friend Quinn Murdock meet for the first time in years. They are instantly attracted to one another and have three days to explore whether they can hit a home run together. "Can't Catch This" by Geri Buckley. Lindy Hamilton is an arena football season ticket holder. She attends the first ever home game of the Florida Moccasins in the arena, but has found even more excitement in the stands with Josh. This quartet of sports romances are fun tales that showcase the thrill of a victorious relationship resides on teaming up with the right partner.

Pug Hill
Alison Pace
ISBN: 0425209717, $14.00

Hope McNeill prefers the safety of anonymousness to having to perform in any public sense. Security is all she seeks as self-actualization and commitment to another are concepts to avoid as it takes a person out of their comfort zone. Thus she feels safe with her job as a painting restorer in the backrooms of the Met and like the Pygmalion Effect any relationship she has had failed because Hope could not offer even a fragment of her heart out of fear; thus asserting her subconscious assumption of remain in your safe zone. Her favorite getaway spot is PUG HILL in Central Park where the canines run around having fun as if they have no worries. However, Hope has an issue coming up and even Pug Hill fails to provide her solace. Her parents want her to give a speech at their fortieth anniversary bash; Hope never speaks in a public forum. Still she loves her parents and decides she has to do it so she signs up for a public speaking class hoping to overcome one of her phobias and begins to self-analyze her other heart stopping anxieties. PUG HILL is an intriguing character study starring a woman whose fears have crippled her life as she spends much of her time in avoidance. Readers empathize with Hope hoping she can begin to face and conquer her phobias. Though the causes are not delved into deep enough to include her relationship with her seemingly nice caring parents, Alison Pace provides a deep look at a traumatized individual shunning life.

Murder by the Book
D.R. Meredith
ISBN: 0425209253, $6.99

Texas suffers from a terrible drought that has dried up many of the lakes in the Amarillo area. The Wild Horse Lake is at the lowest ebb it has been in decades; so low that an abandoned Depression Era car up until recently buried under water is now visible. Like her peers at the Murder by the Yard Reading Circle that meets at the Time and Again Bookstore, reference librarian Megan Clark enjoys reading and discussing mystery novels. Unlike her friends, she finds the recently discovered vehicle fascinating as she wants to know why it was dumped into the lake. However, as she tries to learn more about the Depression Era car, Megan begins to find corpses; the police consider the librarian as the prime suspect as they have no one else. However, Megan believes the real culprit knows Agatha Christie intimately as the killer seems to follow the means of many of the late author's novels. MURDER BY THE BOOK, the fifth Murder by the Yard tale, is a fun cozy that fans of the series will appreciate as Megan urges her reluctant armchair book club detectives to help her solve the Depression Era mystery and the present day whodunit. At the same time she wants their help, Megan knows she is a person of interest to the cops and that probably one of her bookworm colleagues is most likely the killer as Christie is the focus. D. R. Meredith provides a delightful amateur sleuth tale with some police procedural elements that contrast to Megan's sleuthing skills.

Unnatural Selection
Aaron Elkins
ISBN: 0425210057, $23.95, 288 pp.

Off the coast of Cornwell England lies the Isles of Scilly thought to be the home of King Arthur. Forensic anthropologist Gideon Oliver, known as the bone doctor, travels to St. Mary's where his wife is presenting a research paper on the environment for, $50,000 donated by the owner of Star Castle, Vasily Kozlov. The eccentric Russian likes to gather people with different opinions and see them argue. Oliver is looking forward to visit Neolithic sites and the last thing on his mind is getting involved in another murder case. When the curator from the museum asks him to look at some old bones, Oliver agrees and is shocked to find a human bone that was sawed off the body. Using a cadaver dog, the police and Oliver find much of the rest of the body and the bone doctor is able to say that the victim was a guest who stayed at Star Castle a few years ago but then sent a fax stating he wasn't coming back. When a second guest is killed Oliver is certain that the two murders are linked and he studies the bones hoping that they will give him clues as to the identity of the killer. In spite of the dark side of his profession, the protagonist is a happy go lucky person thankful that he has found a second chance at love with Julie after his first wife died from cancer. Like bestselling author Kelly Reich's heroine Aaron Elkin's hero is able to read the bones well enough to give the police an accurate account of how the victim died. Like Temperance, Oliver goes above the call of duty and investigates the case in his own manner with amazing results. UNNATURAL SELECTION is a well thought out mystery and the killer is the last person anyone would expect.

The Spy with the Silver Lining
Wendy Rosneau
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373514034, $4.99

Casmir "The Actress" Balasi believes that the world is her stage, but recognizes trouble when the Euro-Quest agent with attitude sees Nasty Nicky scanning a room. This means the Red Mafia Don Yurii Petrov escaped from the Prague maximum security prison and is seeking the woman who sent him there, Casmir. One year ago she seduced him into a proposal and a prison sentence. Now he is back and she can only assume he wants to permanently annul her life for betraying him. Casmir consults with her superior Polax who explains one agent is dead and her mom was almost abducted. Polax also informs her she will spend time at Le Mystere on the Louisiana coast with a bodyguard until Petrov is neutered. She assumes her bodyguard is rat dinner. American Onyxx Agent Pierce Fourtier is to protect Casmir and her mother who will stay with him in his Bayou home. He assumes his ward is an amoral femme fatale. Still she will bring Yurii who might bring out the Chameleon, the nasty adversary that Pierce chases. As Pierce and Casmir fall in love, the enemy is coming. This is a fun spy loves spy vs. spy thriller that never takes itself seriously as ironically the prime cast is purposely stereotyped to satirize romantic espionage tales. Casmir is a terrific tough yet tender protagonist while Pierce is her perfect match cherishing the three different sides of his beloved. The secondary characters augment the fine entertainment by either being caricaturist enemies or superiors, or making agents seem like real people with real families. Bombshell Agent Wendy Rosneau provides a delightful tale.

Meredith Fletcher
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373514042, $4.99

Following the homicides of their parents, the identical twins were separated as infants. One grows up in the United States while the other in Russia. Ironically as adults the siblings took up the same line of work just for different teams. The CIA employs Samantha St. John while the Russians utilize Elle Petrenko. Besides their differing employees, the sisters also contain diverse codes of honor. The Athena Academy asks graduate Sam to investigate a blackmailer, which she agrees to do because of her appreciation of her alma mater. Her efforts lead her to uncovering who killed her parents years ago. However, to complete her Athena mission as well as her personal quest, Sam needs Elle, but gets German agent Joachim Reiter in the bargain. This triangle must find a way to trust one another or die alone against a dangerous foe. This is an exciting espionage romance though the audience will have to accept the premise that having been separated as infants, the sisters become spies on two different continents. If you are okay with the first domino being improbable, the second domino and onward make for quite an exhilarating entertaining tale starring three wonderful agents. Meredith Fletcher provides a fine thriller that sub-genre fans will enjoy.

No Safe Place
Judy Fitzwater
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373514050, $4.99

Gilman College Professor Elizabeth Larocca thought she was ready for the time when her deceased husband Stephen's life returns to haunt her and her adult daughter Cara. She soon learns how unprepared she is when his corpse turns up at seas two weeks after he was buried. Worse his two "friends" visit her in what Elizabeth knows is not a friendly calling on the widow. Needing to keep her child safe and to buy time, Elizabeth flees. Still she knows she will need to quietly investigate what Stephen did that got him murdered allegedly while skiing and what he did for a living before that. She must do this while protecting her offspring from those who would use Cara as a pawn to obtain something from her, but she does not know what that is and matters are getting worse. NO SAFE PLACE is a an entreating thriller in which the heroine has no idea who to trust and who is willing to use her daughter and others close to them as bait for what or why she does not know. What the adversaries and Stephen never grasped is that Elizabeth is a lioness when it comes to protecting her cub even though Cara is in her twenties. This tale is complex and difficult at times to follow yet worth the concentration needed as fans will wonder who is friend and who is foe until the final shocking twist.

Invisible Recruit
Mary Buckham
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373514042, $4.99

IR-5 Agency espionage drill instructor M.T. Stone takes one look at beautiful debutante Vaughn Monroe and has two thoughts: he wants her in his bed and that she will never survive his boot camp. Debutant Vaughn Monroe takes a look at the scowling hunk of her instructor and has two thoughts: she wants him in her bead and she will prove to this doubter that can survive his boot camp and more. He assumes her influential father, Director of the CIA, pulled nepotism and got her a job. She assumes he believes nepotism got her the job and plans to prove to him and her dad she is a chip off the old block. However, the latest assignment involves international arms dealer in which Vaughn is the perfect person to infiltrate the suspected vender. A friend is auctioning satellite weaponry. Vaughn and M.T are to go as a married couple partying in the upper class world she fled in a quest to stop the sale. INVISIBLE RECRUIT is an exciting undercover thriller starring a young woman who feels she must prove to the two men in her life that she is capable of successfully performing dangerous work and not just be debutant candy. The story line focuses on Vaughn's obsession to substantiate she belongs as M.T. has trouble accepting her as a recruit and her dad sees her as a deb. The heroine's self actualization need freshens up an action packed romantic suspense tale.

Custody for Two
Karen Rose Smith
Silhouette Special Edition
ISBN: 0373247532, $4.99

Dylan Malloy rushed home to Wild Horse Junction, Wyoming from Tasmania immediately following his lawyer's call that his sister Julia and her husband Will died in an accident, but his sibling hung on long enough to give birth. He is an uncle to a preemie fighting for his life, but to his further shock he is not the child's guardian. Instead Julia's best friend Shaye Bartholomew is. Dylan's attorney explained to the globetrotting wildlife photographer that his sister loved him, but did not want to burden him again as he delayed his dream for eight years when their parents died on a slippery road several years ago. Dylan can see how much Shaye already loves tiny Timmy and that his work would have to become domestic rather than international, but he feels he needs to be there for his nephew. As they both want the best for Timmy and begin to fall in love with one another, Dylan fears losing another loved one so denies how much he cares for Shaye. Instead he offers her a marriage of convenience, but Shaye wants much more from the man she loves. The first Baby Bonds series plays out on two levels. The romance between a man afraid of love as everyone he has cared for has died and a woman who refuses to settle for anything less than his love; that well written subplot is a common theme. The other tale evolves around Timmy fighting to survive, which moves the hearts of the audience praying for the courageous baby as his chances remain iffy. Merged into a cohesive family drama, Karen Rose Smith opens her newest series with a terrific tale of prayers, hope and love.

Smoke and Ashes
Tanya Huff
ISBN: 0756403472, $24.95, 400 pp.

It has been almost two months since Tony Foster fought any supernatural entities so he enjoys the respite especially with his promotion to the Trainee Assistant Director on the set of Darkest Night, a TV show starring a vampire detective. Tony finds life ironic that he works on a vampire show when his lover, best friend, and father figure Henry Fitzroy (baseborn son of King Henry VIII) is a real vampire. Tony's hiatus from the supernatural ends when he learns from stunt woman Leah Barrett who doubles as a Demongate keeping her demon out of our world that the Demon Convergence has begun. It is a time when energies are moving is such a way that the barriers between earth and the Hells are penetrable. Leah is 3500 years old and because her demon master miscast a spell she has been protected and he unable to breach the "walls". If he gains access as it seems likely he will, the demon master will dominate the world of humanity. His minions are coming for Leah and Tony, who still remains a tyro when it comes to using his wizard powers. With the help of friends like Henry, Tony knows he will stand brave and strong trying to stop the demon horde. The hero has changed from a street hustler and prostitute to a courageous person willing to die to keep his friends and his world safe. This superb urban fantasy is at times funny, but mostly dramatic as there is plenty of action especially as Tony learns how to use his skills as he wars with demon assassins sent to kill Leah, considered by her kind as a traitor. Tanya Huff writes a spellbinding fascinating tale that fans of Laurell K. Hamilton and Jim Butcher will enjoy.

Children of Magic
Edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes
ISBN: 0756403618, $7.99

This is one of the best, if not the best, anthology of the year. Each of the seventeen tales (mostly written by women) is excellent with some like the amusing "After School Special" by Huff and "The Trade" by Patton being extraordinary. The seventeen contributions will be read more than once with this reviewer for instance having finished the book in one fabulous sitting; something that rarely happens by me with short story collections. Fans of coming of age fantasy tales will appreciate this superior compilation as observing the efforts of the starring youngsters to learn to use their magic make for a terrific book in many ways reminiscent of the early X-Men.

Julie E. Czerneda
ISBN: 0756403456, $24.95, 543 pp.

All Dr. Mackenzie Connor wanted to do was study salmon migration at the Norcoast Salmon Research Facility until she met Bymm a Drhyrn who warned her about the Ro and their stealth technology. She traveled in a Dhryrn spaceship, learned their language and found she liked the alien species that belonged to the Interspecies Union. She was horrified when she witnessed the civilized Dhryrn change into feeders capable of destroying all sentient life on any planet. Mac believes that the Ro tampered with the Dhyrrn and turned them into a biological weapon. The mysterious Ro live in no space, a dimension beyond ours making them impossible to find. Not all species believe the Ro are evil but answers might be found on the destroyed Drhyrn planet of Myriam . Mac hopes that a way can be found to save the Drhyrn and find a way to locate the Ro and bring them to justice for what they have done to countless worlds and a benevolent species. The third and final book in the Species Imperative trilogy is a brilliant work set in the distant future where sentient races join together in an alliance for political, economic, and cultural reasons. Julie E. Czerneda is one of the best world builders writing today, creating species that are so intricately drawn readers find themselves believing they actually exist. Although the story line is darkly serious, the author humor into the plot with the funniest ones being when aliens interact with humans. Brilliant characterizations and complex plotting make REGENERATION a definite best seller.

Shamus in the Green Room: A Cece Caruso Mystery
Susan Kandel
ISBN: 0060581093, $23.95

Mystery author biographer and noted fashion plate Cece Caruso is providing consulting services to the In the Green Room movie production company filming her work Dash! The star, Hollywood hunk Rafe Simic looks great as and would make a dashing Dashiell Hammett or for that matter Sam Spade, but the sexy actor refuses to read her book or any of the great late author's works as he prefers surfing the waves. To help Rafe taste the part, Cece agrees to escort him on a tour of Hammett's San Francisco. Not long after they arrive in San Francisco, the Los Angeles Coroner's Office asks Rafe to come home to identify a corpse of a woman who has his card on her. He says the deceased is his former girlfriend Maren Levander and sister of his best friend and manager. With Rafe a person of interest, Cece investigates what the police suspect is a homicide made to look like a suicide over the objection of fiance, police detective Peter Gambino. Cece remains a refreshing protagonist who cherishes deceased mystery writers and cannot help but get involved in clearing up ambiguities in their lives (see I DREAMED I MARRIED PERRY MASON and NOT A GIRL DETECTIVE), and landing in a modern whodunit. On top of a fine amateur sleuth investigation, Cece has personal disputes with her adult daughter and Peter. When the author tosses in Hammett to a superb tale it leads to readers admiring Susan Kandel's amazing talent.

The Wrong Hostage
Elizabeth Lowell
ISBN: 0060829818, $24.95

Recently divorced from billionaire Ted Franklin, California State Judge Grace Silva is called by their son's school because their teenage son Lane is being held prisoner at his exclusive Mexican prep school that caters to the ultra wealthy. The ransom demand is simple, cold-blooded killer druglord Hector Rivas Osuna demands that Ted return the millions he stole from him with interest or Lane dies. While the clock ticks away a frantic and stunned Grace tries to call Ted, but he has vanished. Desperate and knowing that if she handed over the demanded loot her son will probably die anyway as a warning to Ted and others, Grace turns to another former spouse, kidnap specialist Joe Faroe, who no longer does that work ever since a rescue failed to save the victim. However, this case is personal and not just because he was Grace's husband before Ted, but because he also may be Lane's biological father; ergo Joe enters the fray. This action thriller focusing on a mother's worse nightmare, a dangerous event happening to her offspring, is made fresh by the deep look at the Mexican drug trafficking. The action-packed story line is fast-paced but character driven as fans will feel Grace's fears and anguish as she turns to Joe as her only hope; though he has his troubles too. Elizabeth Lowell provides a terrific tense tale that grips readers from start to finish (set aside plenty of time as this is a one sitting read).

A Piece of My Heart
Peter Robinson
ISBN: 006054435X, $24.95

In September 1969, now the morning after the first Brimleigh Festival, Dave Sampson feels good about its success. Much of the crowd has left with volunteers cleaning the mess they left behind. Dave notices a sleeping bag that appears as if someone is inside; when he unzips it he finds a dead body. Assigned to investigate the homicide is die hard WWII veteran Detective Inspector Stanley Chadwick, who detests the dirty hippies. The only nebulous clue so far is the victim apparently had ties to psychedelic band the Mad Hatters. Three plus decades later in the isolated hamlet of Fordham, Inspector Alan Banks investigates the murder of Nick Barber, a freelance music journalist who was writing an article on aging rock stars the Mad Hatters for MOJO magazine. Banks learns of the homicide thirty five years ago at the rock festival and wonders if there is a connection as he has problems accepting tragic coincidence. He continues to make inquiries while pondering whether Nick solved the 1969 murder leading to his subsequent death. The sixteenth Banks British police procedural is a superb entry that is freshened up by the 1969 investigation that fascinatingly compares police methodology and attitude with the present day inquiries. The fascinating story line switches effortlessly back and forth between the two eras as the audience observes Chadwick's efforts vs. that of Banks. Thus readers obtain two wonderful cases, historical and current, while wondering along with Banks what Barber learned that killed him.

The Priest's Madonna
Amy Hassinger
ISBN: 0399153179, $24.95

In 1884 sixteen years old religious skeptic Marie Dernanaud and her family move to the nearby village of Rennes-le-Chateau when their home burned down. At about the same time Father Berenger Sauniere takes over the town parish. Berenger is a family friend having met Marie for instance when she was nine. Though fifteen plus years older than her, she found him fascinating then and even more so now as a teen; he reciprocates her feelings. However both hide their feelings for one another behind religious debates especially since he temporally lives with her and her family while the townsfolk renovate the church. The fixing up of the church leads to uncovering a tome, a map and a strange ancient stone carving. Excited and encouraged by the mayor's wife, Simone Laporte, Marie investigates the enigmatic artifacts found buried deep inside the church. She begins to trace a possible descent from a relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene while her beloved priest sells them out for shekels. This is a fascinating thriller that is at its best when Marie investigates the church mysteries, but loses some steam with too many subplots including a deep look at a Jesus-Mary relationship and the seemingly always Templar effect. The change over time of Berenger from idealistic charismatic believer to dishonest skeptic is deftly handled while the opposite happens with Marie. The deep look at first century Judea is also excellent, but with all this going on, Marie is overwhelmed though she is the center holding the tale together. Still fans will enjoy this Christian historical mystery.

Never Fear
Scott Frost
ISBN: 0399153403, $24.95

Pasadena, California Homicide Chief Detective Alex Delillo remains haunted from when she was five years old and her father, two bit actor Thomas Manning left her mother, brother and her. Her memories of him come more from Nickelodeon reruns though she still has sinister memories just out of focus pertaining to him. Still she has managed to move on burying the baggage. That is until now when she learns that a person she never heard of, John Manning, who just committed suicide, was her half-brother. He apparently shot himself in the head at a spot by the Los Angeles River where almost two decades ago three young women were murdered; the case was remains unsolved. Apparently LAPD interviewed Manning, who was a prime suspect in the River Killings cold case homicides of the three females. When more corpses ate found and her early childhood memories begin to lucidly focus on her abusive father, Alex concludes that he is back with a vengeance. NEVER FEAR is an exhilarating complex crime tale that effortlessly merges a psychological thriller within a powerful police procedural. Alex is terrific as the center holding the complex action-paced story line together. Her memories and fears leave her wondering if she is strong enough to face her worst nightmare. Fans will want to read what will be considered by most readers one of the top suspense novels of the year. Readers are recommended to peruse Alex's first appearance too in RUN THE RISK.

Angel Falls
Nora Roberts
ISBN: 0399153721, $25.95, 448 pp.

Two years ago in a family owned Florida restaurant where Reece Gilmore worked as a chef, a group of killers went on a murdering frenzy leaving only one survivor whom the predators thought was dead too. Reece is heartbroken as she thought of the owners as family; she also received two bullets and she saw her best friend killed. Reece enters a psychiatric hospital for trauma treatment before leaving her past behind to seek some solace from her anxieties and fears. Reece stops running when she reaches Angel Falls nestled in the Grand Teton Mountains of Wyoming where she begins to truly heal by accepting work as a cook at a diner her first cooking job since the lethal incident. When she goes hiking Reece sees through her binoculars a man kill a woman; she runs to find help and meets Brady a writer. By the time they get the sheriff to the crime scene, all traces of a homicide are gone. The sheriff does not believe Reece while someone tries to gaslight her into believing she is having a break down, which everyone except Brady assumes is true. At first readers will lean towards the predominant opinion of the townsfolk that Reece is psychologically regressing and the incidents are not real except inside her mind. However, her spirit and refusal to back down assisted by Brady's belief soon begins to persuade the audience that maybe her paranoia is based on a genuine attempt to drive her insane. The readers' turnaround is why Nora Roberts is one of the best at writing romantic suspense as demonstrated once again with the exciting ANGEL FALLS. Nora Roberts is at her very best in this great thriller.

The Last Assassin
Barry Eisler
ISBN: 0399153594, $24.95

Japanese-American killer for hire John Rain is euphoric to find out that his former lover, Midori, is a single mom raising her fifteen month old son, who might be his only progeny, in New York's West Village. John sees this as an opportunity to reconcile with Midori and normalize his own life within the folds of a family though he has been sharing a bed with Agent Delilah. However, Rain fails to grasp how much his enemies want him dead. While he considers reuniting with Midori and spending quality time with his child Koichero, she reminds him he killed her father. Besides lethal adversaries also observe Midori as they see the civilian as bait to entrap Rain. The mercenary hitman soon concludes that for him there is no way out except death as he realizes the storms he brought upon Midori and his offspring. Still he will not sit idly by while his perimeter is breached so with the help of Japanese Agent Tatsu and peer Dox, he plays cat and mouse with his unknown deadly opponents dangling himself as the lure to entrap them. This is a bittersweet thriller as Rain realizes the torrent he has brought upon Midori and Koichero. The action never stops as he tries to clean up the mess he caused because of his desire to see Midori and meet his son. Fans will appreciate Barry Eisler's latest yarn that spins a more humanized hit man who learns some life (and death) lessons in his quest to have a family.

The Greener Shore: A Novel of the Druids of Hibernia
Morgan Llywelyn
ISBN: 0345477669, $24.95

Ainvar looks back towards the land as he sails west with his three wives and other survivors on the vast sea knowing his side lost to the swords of the Romans. Caesar destroyed the Sacred Grove and conquered Gaul (see DRUIDS). As he journeys to his new home in exile on the island of Eriu, a place the invaders call Hibernia because they believe it is winter year round, Ainvar sadly knows he can never go home. Only his wise senior wife Briga seems to understand his depressed mood as the others are into their personal woes. When Ainvar and his small party arrive at Hibernia they encounter the wee folk Túatha De Danann and other Druids and Celts. As time passes, Ainvar struggles with adapting to the new world and when the Túatha De Danann never reappears his depression grows. Briga who possesses Druid magic quietly leads their party's adjustment with a perceptive wisdom and bits of unseen magic that enables the once proud Carnute survivors to adapt while also helping her spouse with his feelings of failure. Though the wait has been over fifteen years, Celtic historical fantasy readers will appreciate this powerful sequel to the delightful DRUIDS. The story line is filled with action and adventure starting from the moment that the dejected Ainvar keeps looking back at Gaul with hunger and sadness while the endless waves remind him of the Roman legions. The tale never slows down as they reach their destination and adjust to their new home and at all times provides insight into the lives of the Druids and their followers.

Frederick Busch
ISBN: 0345486837, $13.95

Jack works as a security guard at a bar in a North Carolina resort. His wife left him years ago as his career in law enforcement has gone downward on the ladder of success. Always hoping for reconciliation, Jack now has to accept that is impossible because Fanny has died. He has as his only companion his nameless canine who Jack knows is dying too. When male prostitute Jason Arnold tries to pick up a classy looking six footer, Jack intercedes. The woman, New York attorney Merle Davidoff, thanks him for his intervention and admits she is embarrassed to learn the hunk is a whore. She offers Jack work to find her missing twenty-three year nephew Tyler Pearl, who last was heard from a few months ago in Vienna, New York. Jack takes the job in his hometown as a chance to redeem himself by rescuing the young man if needed even though Jack feels as if he has failed at everything he has tried to do which includes once not saving a little girl's life in Vienna. This sequel to GIRLS returns Jack as the prime protagonist still failing in everything he has done until Merle gives him a chance for atonement (at least in his mind). The story line is character driven though filled with plenty of action as Jack sees an opportunity to climb out of the ooze he has fallen into before he fulfills his self-prophecy of slinking as low as a former military police officer can go. The mystery is well done but takes a back seat to a psychological thriller starring a man whose "significant other" over the last fifteen years is his recently deceased nameless dog.

Too Darn Hot
Sandra Scoppettone
ISBN: 0345478126, $24.95

After Faye Quick left her parents' home in New Jersey, she moved to New York where she became a secretary to Woody Mason of the A Detective Agency. When America entered WWII, Woody enlisted leaving Faye in charge of the business. To her surprise, she liked being a private investigator and solved enough cases to keep the agency afloat. Her latest case begins when Claire Turner hires her to find her missing boyfriend, Private Charlie Ladd. Faye goes to the hotel where Charlie was staying where she finds a corpse. The body is identified as Charlie's pal Private David Cooper. There is no sign of Charlie anywhere until Claire receives a phone call from an unknown person who insists her boyfriend has been kidnapped and will be returned unharmed in exchange for, $100,000. The exchange is not smooth and another dead person is found. Faye has to quickly figure out who is behind the homicides before someone else dies. The audience will feel as if they are transported back to 1943 NYC due to the realistic tidbits that are cleverly woven into the fine historical mystery to include idioms and slang, and references and items (artifacts?) from the WWII era. The protagonist is a tough independent Jersey girl crossing the Hudson to prove she is also a quick thinker as she connects the dots to try and does solve cases. TOO DARN HOT is a gripping private detective tale with a pulp fiction feel to its 1940s ambience.

Once Upon Stilettos
Shanna Swendson
ISBN: 0345481276, $13.95

Magic immune Katie Chandler has become an executive assistant to Merlin at MSU (not Michigan State, but Magic, Spells and Illusions, Inc) where her skills at exposing magical misuse are highly regarded. Everything is great for the Texas mortal especially observing and guarding the wizard Owen. However, suddenly Owen is upset because someone broke into the highly classified top secret files as only an insider could have. Katie is upset too, not so much because Owen is, but because her immune talent is starting to fail her as if someone has found a charm to dispel her skill. Buying a pair of killer truth seeking red stilettos to help her ease through her fears, Katie and Owen team up to uncover who inside their ENCHANTED INC firm turned traitor and to stop that soul before harm occurs. The sequel to the magical Enchanted Inc is a terrific tale starring the once immune magic Katie and her wizard Owen investigating who inside the firm is causing havoc and mayhem. The enchanting story line focuses on their inquiries which in turn lead to more hocus pocus and romance. After enjoying Once Upon Stilettos, chick lit romantic fantasy fans will stay tuned to the Shanna Swendson channel for the next adventure of Katie and Owen.

Hollywood Stuff
Sharon Fiffer
St. Martin's
ISBN: 031234306X, $23.95

Hollywood movie producer and owner of Bix Pix Flix Wren "Bix" Bixby watches collectibles seller Jane Wheel on a newsmagazine show discuss her solving the murder of Johnny Sullivan. Bix thinks Jane's tale as a part-time amateur sleuth would make a great movie so she calls Jane, who agrees to have her investigation filmed. Jane and her best friend media curious Tim Lowry fly to California to consult with Bix who knows her college boyfriend, Jeb Gleason; he and Bix are old buddies too. While discussing Jane's scarecrow investigation, an explosion occurs in a prop room injuring Bix, who is taken to a nearby hospital. Not long afterward someone stabs the person Jane assumes is Bix's business partner at a flea market they both were visiting. Unable to resist, Jane investigates the crime wave devastating the Indie studio. Not so ironically in her fifth appearance, Jane is at her best sleuthing for a Hollywood star, a collectible or a killer rather than playing the Hollywood scene where she seems more like a fifth wheel. Though the Los Angeles based part of the cast comes across less than two dimensional Jane is terrific whether she seeks Danny DeVito, a bargain, or a murderer.

Over the Line
Cindy Gerard
St. Martin's
ISBN: 031298099X, $6.99

Six months ago Jason Wilson left the Army Rangers only to learn his hearing prevents him from doing police work and the wrestling federation wants nothing to do with him either. After realizing his lone companion is a cockroach, Jase flies to Florida to accept work from his former superior officer Nolan Garrett who along with his three siblings runs E.D.E.N. Securities. Jase's first assignment is to keep safe rock star bad girl Sweet Baby Jane who fears stalker Edwin Grimm, just freed from prison will come to complete the job of killing her. Thus she reluctantly accepts Jase as her personal bodyguard. Jase begins to observe and admire the off stage Janey Perkins who is so different from her public persona. When her mom dies in a car accident, Jase wonders if someone, perhaps Edwin, cleverly disguised a homicide. What he does not ponder is that he willingly would risk his life to keep the tattooed lady he cherishes and loves safe. The fourth E.D.E.N bodyguard thriller may be the best tale in what is one of the superior series on the market in the last few years. The lead couple consists of two deep complex protagonists while the suspense is top rate and filled with twists and turns. Romantic suspense fans will want to read this strong one sitting tale.

Duchess of Aquitaine: A Novel of Eleanor
Margaret Ball
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312205333, $34.95

At 15, Eleanor knows as the heiress to Aquitaine and Poitou, men will come out of woodwork to claim her as their bride upon the death of her father. She believes that no one less than a king should be her husband. Her goal is to become the Queen of France and not the wife of some duke or worse. The Duchess achieves her objective when she marries King Louis VII, but finds her spouse a loser especially after the disastrous Second Crusade. Concluding he is not worthy of her Eleanor looks across the Channel where Geoffrey of Anjou reigns. However, following her divorce of Louis VII, it is the son Henry Plantagenet that catches her attention. Biographical fiction fans will receive immense pleasure from this deep look at a woman of ambition who marries to achieve her political objective of ruling as a queen. Eleanor sets her mind to become the monarch early on and chooses Louis, who she dubs a loser so she turns to the English throne. The descriptions of the era in France, the Holy Land, Byzantine, and England run deep while the key characters come alive. Margaret Ball provides a powerful look at the twelfth century through the escapes of Eleanor, queen of two countries.

Ghosts of Saint Michel
Jake Lamar
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312289251, $24.95, 288 pp.

Afro-American Marva Dobbs has lived in France for almost four decades and doesn't plan to ever reside in America again. She has her own restaurant Marva's Soul Food Kitchen, is considered a celebrity and is married to Loic Reese for almost as long as she lived in France. They have one daughter Naima and ever since she was born, Loic and Marva have been faithful to each other. That changes when the sixty-something year old Marva has an affair with the beautiful twenty-eight year old Hassan. After a summer in Breton with Loic, Marva realizes he knows about her affair so since she deeply loves her husband, she decides to break it off with Hassan. Before she can do that she finds that he and his cousins are considered terrorists by the police who believe they bombed the WORTHEE Building which houses a liberal think tank. After getting into an auto accident, Marva is taken to the hospital where she checks herself out after Hassan comes for her. Naima, who has come home to see her mother, finds the restaurant's manager murdered in the middle of the dining room. It is Naima who must figure out how to handle the mess her parents and Hassan have made of their lives. GHOSTS OF SAINT MICHEL is a multi-layered complex mystery wrapped around a family drama. The storyline is fast paced with interesting characters especially the African-Americans (mindful of authors like Richard Wright and James Baldwin) who have easily integrated themselves into French society. Loic is the most complex character, whose past and present actions come as a complete surprise to the audience because they do not fit the image he projects. Jake Lamar has written a deep and enjoyable tale that keeps the audience interested in the incredible plotting.

The Other Woman
Diana Diamond
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312352174, $24.95, 336 pp.

Pam Leighton works for the Electric Energy Institute lobbying group that works to make sure no legislation inimical to the power companies is passed. The head of the corporation is John Duke who is Pam's lover and has been for two years. When John is being considered for a cabinet post as the Secretary of Energy his wife says she will support him using her political connections if he severs all ties to Pam and makes sure she leaves Washington D.C. Pam moves to New York where she plans to write a tell-all book about the lobbying industry. She has the evidence to back up every claim she makes which makes certain Washington power brokers very nervous. They want the publication of the book stopped and they use all sorts of methods to intimidate Pam into giving up getting her book published. When a good woman dies because she helped Pam, the writer becomes even more determined to write her book even if she has to go to outrageous lengths to keep from getting killed. THE OTHER WOMAN is a fascinating relationship thriller that has readers guessing who is spying on Pam and reporting back to the power brokers. The audience feels pity for John Duke, who broke many laws as chairman of the EEI not because he an evil man but because he is a weak person who allows his ambition and wife to make choices that destroy his happiness. Diana Diamond has written a novel that shows the ugly and illegal relationships between lobbyists and elected officials that come straight out of news headlines.

Dying Light
Stuart MacBride
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312339975, $24.95

Just a few months ago in Aberdeen, Scotland n the Grampian Police Department, Detective Sergeant Logan MacRae was considered a superstar by the media and his peers until a failed raid left a peer dead and "Mr. Police Bloody Hero" reassessed as a screw-up. He now works for a DI called the "Jinx" because his career has ended on the reject squad. Logan enjoys some night time with WPC Watson when a nearby murder occurs. Cops at the scene decide they need adult supervision officially known as an officer in charge; Logan is the only one available so they interrupt his tryst. At the crime scene he recognizes the battered naked corpse of prostitute Rosie Williams. Though he expects working for the "Jinx" to lead to his firing, Logan begins inquiries into who murdered the prostitute, a case no one else wants. Across town an arson and multiple homicide case has the entire department wanting to be the media darling by solving it. There are six dead inside with windows and doors bolted shut from the outside and petrol everywhere. Soon Logan will see links between the cases and the murder of another hooker, but the leadership thinks he is just a reject seeking glory hound. In his second Scottish police procedural (see COLD GRANITE), Logan sees the prostitute investigation as a chance to salvage his career in spite of working for the unorthodox Jinx and the knowledge that everyone else sees the arson as the flavor of the moment. The secondary cast is solid as they bring the best and worst of human nature to the forefront while Aberdeen comes across as a gritty rough urban center. Still this is Logan's run as his "altruistic" motive is not justice for a deceased "lowlife", but redemption by the brass.

Doctor Rocks the Boat
Robin Hathaway
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312349939, $23.95

In Philadelphia Dr. Charles Ashborn sponsors the membership of his former medical school colleague Dr. Andrew Fenimore to join the rowing club on the Schuylkill River. Both men are avid rowers, but Charles was forced to give up competitive rowing when he was in college due to being diagnosed with Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD), a condition that can be inherited. When Andrew learns that Chuck is a rower, he asks his friend whether a physician has checked his son to insure that he is not a potential SCD victim. Charles insists that cardiologist Dr. Burton gave Chuck the okay to row. After Chuck's mom voices concern over her son's health and feeling something is off kilter with Charles' obsessed need for his son to row, Andrew visits Dr. Burton, who admits that he diagnosed Chuck with SCD and implanted a defibrillator inside the college student. Not long after winning a race, Chuck is rushed to the emergency room where Andrew later learns that the rower showed no evidence whatsoever that he suffered from SCD though his body contained an overdose of potassium. Andrew investigates what he assumes is a homicide but almost is murdered in the Schuylkill River. Though the suspense is not quite at the level of the previous four Dr. Fenimore thrillers, fans of the series will enjoy his latest escapades assisted by his capable crew (nurse Doyle, lover Jennifer and office assistant Rat) as they try to learn what is going on with Chuck. The story line is character driven by the obsession of Charles at any price to win glory through the successes of Chuck. The fascinating side to the mystery resides with Chuck's health rather than with the subsequent whodunit. Robin Hathaway provides a fun cozy starring her beleaguered middle age medical practitioner staying home this time.

Royal Panoply: Brief Lives of the English Monarchs
Carolyn Erickson
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312316437, $27.95

Starting with William the Conqueror and finishing with Elizabeth II and including every English monarch in between, Carolyn Erickson provides an intriguing overview of the royals and their spouses in a chronological fascinating sweep. Each ruler receives somewhere in the range of seven to twelve pages regardless of historical importance or length on the throne. By going chronological, the reference is easy to read and follow, but repetition also occurs as death marks the end of an era (chapter) and the beginning of the next reign (next chapter). The epigraph that starts each royal provides an interesting perspective on that personage and is especially fascinating with the more famous as the audience sees a somewhat differing view than the textbooks or romance novels. Still the lack of analysis of overarching trends takes somewhat away from a fine look that will elate those who prefer their look at the English monarchy based on facts not tabloids.

Down by the Riverside
Jackie Lynn
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312352301, $24.95

Leaving behind a philandering husband with a full refrigerator and his much younger woman in North Carolina, Rose Franklin (dropping her married name) buys a camper and sets off for Arizona. However, she has some vehicle trouble so she stops in West Memphis, Arkansas, staying at the Shady Grove Campground, until repairs can be made. The locals greet her with the news that the highly regarded undertaker, Lawrence Franklin V committed suicide three days before Rose parked her camper. Rose hears more tales about the late Lawrence and the four generations of Franklins that preceded him. She begins to doubt that the man killed himself especially since he was reportedly excited about research he was doing into a slave cemetery. Unable to resist, Rose decides it is time for her to give back to these caring people and uncover the truth, but will learn much more especially about her inner self than just how and why number five died. DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE is a delightful whodunit that is more of a coming of age (middle age that is) character study in which the amateur sleuth learns just who she is. The story line is fun to follow as the eccentric local flavor adds spice to Rose's personal discover of self-actualization. Though occasionally the tale turns discordantly flowery, Jackie Lynn provides a deep Mississippi mystery starring a likable woman who starts to obtain a sense of achievement, redemption, and worth.

Lori Andrews
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312352700, $23.95, 278 pp.

Geneticist Dr. Alexandra Blake works at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) and no scientist can be as happy as she is with her current assignment. Since they discovered the frozen body of an Inuit women who died from the 1918 Spanish Flu, Alex spends her time mapping out the DNA sequence of the genome of the virus in order to replicate it so a vaccine can be made thus rendering it useless as a bioweapon. Politics invades AFIP when an outraged Colonel Jack Wyatt, expecting to be the FBI director, is instead named the head of this agency. The FBI ignores difficult criminal cases so Jack takes them on. He especially wants a serial killer, who leaves tattoos on women's breasts stopped as he intends to make the FBI look like idiots. Alex is annoyed that her research slows down because she has to help on the serial killer case using her genetic expertise. However she becomes interested when on another case, the female FBI director, who is her lover's former significant other, is arrested for killing her ex husband, Ale gets involved and almost becomes collateral damage. Readers who enjoy the works of Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs will find SEQUENCE is an exciting tale that compares well to the novels of these great authors though this is Lori Andrews' fiction debut tale. The fascinating story line moves out on several layers starting with what looks like a medical thriller, but spinning into a politically motivated serial killer investigation. The key character is likable and realistic especially as she does not hide her disdain for her new boss, her disappointment with her new assignment and especially her anger. Fans of Scarpetta will appreciate the new kid on the block.

Bishop's Reach: A Bay Tanner Mystery
Kathryn R. Wall
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312337957, $24.95

After two difficult years, private investigator Erik Whiteside finally succeeds in finding the bad boy brother Win Hammond of elderly Miss Addie. Not long afterward, Win returns to Hilton Head allegedly to see his sister. However, Erik's "partner" at Simpson and Tanner, Inquiry Agents Lydia "Bay" Tanner wonders what the odious Win really wants. She and her family, friends of Miss Addie, plan to insure her sibling does not rip her off as they expect him try. At the same time that the prodigal brother returns home, Bay and Erik have two other clients. Karen Zwilling better known to her customers as Britt Swensen, an escort service employee, wants Bay to find a male rapist, and a Georgia socialite Star Kennedy wants her to locate her beloved Wade, who vanished without a trace. When a badly battered corpse is found on the beach, Bay ponders if one of her cases just has been solved, but which one. Not sure, she keeps digging until she finds herself being yanked by the wealthy and the poor of the underbellies of society. The sixth Bay Tanner regional mystery is a terrific entry as three distinct cases keep the Inquiry Agent and her wannabe partner Erik hopping. The Savannah feel to the delightful story line augments the investigations that Bay and Erik conduct. Fans of Southern heated mysteries will want to read Kathryn R. Wall's latest Georgia peach escapades.

Prey For A Miracle
Aimee & David Thurlo
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312322100, $24.95, 227 pp.

Jessica's daughter Natalie claims she sees an angel who stopped a car that was about to run over a man in a wheelchair. The angel Samera told Jessica that her friend's house was in danger and if her friend wasn't watching, the house would have burned to the ground. The angel was right. Natalie made no secret of having an angel always by her side but the resulting media attention and the people begging Natalie to perform a miracle for them wore mother and daughter down. Threatening letters and phone calls made Jessica realize they would need to move if they are to have a peace. Jessica is on her way to her brother, a priest's church to give him something when a pick-up runs them off the road. Jessica is injured but before she falls into a coma, she tells Natalie to run. After an extreme search, Sister Agatha finds Natalie and brings her to the monastery as a safety precaution. Agatha vows to protect her at all costs while she tries to find the person who injured Jessica and who is seeking Natalie. This is the best book in the Sister Agatha series and one of the best books the Thurlos have written. Readers see how the nuns believe God watches over them at the same time Sister Agatha has to deal with the outside world in order to help Natalie who might actually see angels. Her faith allows her to take risks confident that God is with her. She is the one who figures out who the criminal is but not before he kidnaps Natalie and puts her in danger. PREY FOR A MIRACLE is a great ecclesial mystery reminiscent of the Father Dowling who done its.

Dark Side of the Moon
Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312357435, $19.95

How far one has fallen thinks reporter Susan Michaels as she reads her re-edited article on a boy eaten by killer moths. She was once a proud Washing Post Beltway journalist but a scandal has left her working in Seattle for the Daily Inquisitor covering shock thrillers and so called true accounts of the supernatural including Elvis sightings. A depressed Susan believes she may have a lead back to credibility at a nearby animal shelter where she hopes to obtain information on the serial killer The Seattle Slayer. That tip proves like everything else of recent uncovering false, but she is conned into taking home a cat that she proves allergic to even when he shapeshifts into the hunk Ravyn Contis who insists that he is an immortal Dark Hunter guardian fighting deadly Daimons in a war in which the stake in mankind. Though the locale shifts from New Orleans to Seattle, the basic ingredients remain the same as Dark Hunter meets capable mortal lover while battling deadly Daimons; yet Sherrilyn Kenyon showcases her creative talent by making DARK SIDE OF THE MOON feel totally fresh and a stand alone fantasy (though a sequel is coming). Readers will appreciate the humorous teaming up of the allergic human and the Cat-Man as they skirmish with Daimons in a delightfully exciting story line.

North of Ithaka
Eleni N. Gage
St. Martin's
ISBN: 031234029X, $13.95

In 2002, Manhattan magazine editor Eleni N. Gage decided to rebuild her paternal family's villa in the Greek village of Lia on the Albanian border. Her four aunts, residents of Massachuestess, were upset and angry as they feared their neice would be murdered by Albanians. In their minds that was the good outcome; the bad outcome would be the return of the curse of their late mom, Eleni's paternal grandmother, who, in 1948, was tortured and executed for enabling her children to escape the Greek civil war (see ELENI by Nicholas Gage). Still the obsessed Eleni believes she must do this to pay homage to her grandmother and to provide solace to those still impacted over five decades since her murder. With the help of the townsfolk and the hindrance of the bureaucracy, Eleni's odyssey begins. This is a fascinating memoir that is at its best with the reactions by the author's Greek-American relatives and the Greek villagers to the energetic American's objective. Readers will feel the impact of her grandmother's death on those still living in the village and in Massachusetts though over fifty years have passed. Though warm and well written, NORTH OF ITHAKA never leaves the audience with a sense of importance or wonder even when making the case of good omens vs. evil memories. Still this is a fine entry that is best read after obtaining her father's memoir ELENI that hauntingly describes what happened in 1948.

The Last Spymaster
Gayle Lynds
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312301596, $24.95

During the Cold War, CIA spymaster Jay Tice sold out his country to the Russians, but was caught. Convicted, he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life at the Allenwood Federal Correctional Complex in Allenwood, Pennsylvania. No one has ever escaped from the prison so Tice is expedited to one day die there. However, Tice does the impossible and vanishes without a trace. CIA Director of Operations Laurence Litchfield sends his best hunter, Elaine Cunningham, to find the escaped spymaster and learn how he pulled the rabbit out of the hat. Elaine wants to say no as she no longer has the passion especially since her spouse died in Afghanistan, but accepts the duty. Elaine follows clues that take her on a death ride of the east coast, but she soon concludes this is not one clever espionage agent fleeing into the cold, but something much greater in scope and diabolical, but what and who to warn remains just out of her reach. This is a terrific espionage thriller that grips readers because characters like Tice, Cunningham, and former East German spy Raina Manhardt provide passion to the complex well written plot. The action-packed story line takes the reader and Elaine on quite an odyssey as she follows the death trail in her quest to hunt down Tice. The relationship between Tice and Manhardt adds depth as they were the ultimate star-crossed lovers during the Cold War. Gayle Lynds writes a fantastic thriller that brings heart to THE LAST SPYMASTER.

And Able
Lucy Monroe
ISBN: 0758211767, $14.00

Claire Sharp trusts one person in life, herself. She is too sharp a person to depend on the reliability of others as everyone has a personal agenda so she leans on no one as the price is too high preferring to have people need her. That is why she works and lives at Belmont Manor surrounded by retired mercenaries and hit men. Starting with the death of her friend Lester, a Belmont Manor resident, independent Claire has some major problems with dangerous people and not just from the person who placed a pillow on her face trying to smother her to death; being a lone ranger will not enable her to survive. Her best friend Josie wants her safe so when hunk Brett "Hotwire" Adams offers his assistance, she knows he is able, but is she ready to accept help from the former mercenary. The price is sleeping with this sex machine though she wonders if she can recover once he leaves as she expects he is unable to commit to love. AND ABLE is a fun romantic suspense thriller starring two likable protagonists falling in love though neither feels comfortable in a long term commitment for differing reasons. Adding to the fun are the return of the stars from READY and WILLING as well as the Kill Book that has had everyone hopping to possess it. Somewhat comic book like in plot, no one will care as fans will appreciate Hotwire willing to die to keep Claire safe from everyone except from him.

Hell on Wheels
Karen Kelley
ISBN: 0758211716, $14.00

In Fort Worth bounty hunter Cody Carlyle likes the freedom and money her job provides her, but also fantasizes of being part of a large loving family; something she has never had as she is estranged from her mother. Her bounty hunter peer Josh Pierce desires Cody, but though they share sex, she does not give him her all instead he feels she used him for a one night stand. Ironically that is his history yet he wants her in his life permanently though this contradicts his philosophy of no commitments no relationship issues. Cody knows if she allows Josh any deeper into her heart, he will destroy her. She already was attracted to him before they shared a bed. Still she would not mind a second one night stand; perhaps even a third and fourth etc., but protect her heart she must because he is the one male who could break it. The key to this fun contemporary romance is Cody, is an intelligent courageous bounty hunter who is not portrayed as some comic book superheroine doing impossible deeds. She and Josh make a wonderful teaming as neither trusts in anyone; love hurts so avoid caring for someone else. Though Cody reconciles too easily with her mom for someone who has no faith in anyone (admittedly a minor sidebar), HELL ON WHEELS is a terrific character driven study.

Sharon Cullars
Kensington Brava
ISBN: 0758213700, $14.00

In 1880 New York, Joseph knew the moment he had waited for while grieving over the past month had arrived. Charlie is crossing the Hudson to Manhattan where Joseph plans to kill him for murdering his beloved Rachel one month ago. Then he will kill himself for he has lived the last thirty days waiting for vengeance. In present day Chicago at her sister April's wedding to Donell, reporter Tyne Jensen sees the hunk with emerald dyes who looks familiar though she swears she would never forget such a handsome man. Across the crowded room David Carvelli feels someone beautiful looking at him as if she knows him; he believes he would never forget someone as beautiful as Tyne. Like in a dream they meet one another with both wondering when they met before. David and Tyne begin to see one another and fall in love. However, neither realizes why deja vu occurs whenever they look into one another eyes or kiss. This fine couple obviously belongs together, but someone wants her dead. If they fail to learn the lessons of their personal history then history will repeat itself as what happened to them in 1880 will happen to them in 2006. AGAIN is a tense heated reincarnation romantic suspense that grips the audience with its opening scene in 1880, holds readers' attention as the two lead Strangers in the Night cannot resist one another, and keeps hold of the audience until the final relational triangle is completed. The story line is filled with torrid romance and danger as Tyne and David fall in love, but unless they can understand their history, kismet will repeat itself as they are doomed to fail. Sharon Cullars provides a fabulously hot thriller.

Making Him Want It
Renee Luke
Kensington Aphrodisia
ISBN: 0758214464, $13.95

Ever since he represented erotic author Kat Mason, a writer he never met, Jamal James dreams of meeting and making love with her. A by-product of his erotic dreams is that he finds being a player tedious. To provide him something to keep his head off of Kat, he goes to the Night Kitty, a club where anything just about happens. Author Kat Mason is in real life shy and reserved. However, she needs fresh ideas so she screws up her courage and goes to the Night Kitty to find new material for her next story. At the club Kat and Jamal see each other across a crowded room and the attraction could ignite a fire. As they come together each feels the inferno heat their insides. Both cannot keep their hands off the other, but neither realize they have a professional relationship that could be jeopardized by this torrid encounter or is it the start of a long term private relationship too? Kat and Jamal seem so right for each other from the moment they see one another for the first time at the Night Kitty club though both assume (rightfully so) that they are there for a sexual encounter. The story line starring two delightful protagonists is passionate heat from start to finish. Erotic romance readers will obtain enormous gratification from this tantalizing tale.

P.E. Kozak
Kensingtonr Aphrodisia
ISBN: 0758214170, $13.95

Passion enjoys teaching, but also appreciates escaping the classroom for the summer. She also apparently takes immense delight with the literature she teaches as for instance the hunk star of the poem The Highwayman haunts her dreams so vividly she feels concerned because his "touch" seems so real. Needing to escape her own fantasies as much as the classroom, Pash works at her best friend's stable in Shaftesbury while taking up horseback riding. Her instructor Ivan is at the stable as a favor to a friend. When he meets Pash he wants to teach her more than just riding a horse. She fantasizes riding him as he becomes the star of her dreams. However, as they begin to share erotic lessons in love, Ivan hides from Passion that his "day" job is as a doctor at the university; he takes summers off with this year teaching one beautiful author how to ride a thoroughbred. This erotic contemporary tale of sex and love between academics working at a stable is a hot romance from the moment that Pash passionately dreams of the Highwayman (Alfred Noyes would appreciate Pash's vivid description). The story line is torrid in the bedroom, the stable, and a few other locales and with ties that bind. Though the likable support cast ironically feels like peeping tom intruders, fans will immensely gain pleasure from this titillating tale.

Sullivan's Evidence
Nancy Taylor Rosenberg
ISBN: 0758213026, $24.00

Eight years ago vicious and remorseless Carl Holden was found guilty of the rape of four women and murder of a thirtyish housewife; everyone knew he was guilty and based on the recommendation of parole officer Carolyn Sullivan he received forty four years. However, Ventura County, California forensic lab chief Robert Abernathy tampered with evidence in the Holden case and others; Holden is free on probation with Carolyn as his officer. New murders like those that fit Holden's M.O begin. Carolyn, a single mom of two teens, believes beyond a shadow of the doubt that this evil man walking the streets on a state technicality caused by a lazy bureaucratic moron is the killer; she plans to prove without a shadow of a doubt that is the case. However, a desire to do something does not prevent someone one, probably Holden, wanting in turn to destroy one of the key people who locked him away for eight years. To succeed her children make a fine first target. The third Sullivan legal-crime thriller (see SULLIVAN'S JUSTICE and SULLIVAN'S LAW) is a superb tale that provides readers with a deep look inside the California criminal justice system. The heroine is a terrific protagonist struggling with a case that is so personal, her mind cannot forget the images of the Anderson family, relatives of the housewife Holden killed while also battling as a single mom with teens. Carolyn's time is so tight that a fender bender with Marcus Wright seems right for a relationship but when. With fabulous forensic support (especially the bungling) and an incredible climax, Nancy Taylor Rosenberg writes a superb thriller that will make all the short mystery lists for top books of the year.

I Did (but I Wouldn't Now)
Cara Lockwood
ISBN: 0743499433, $13.00

In Texas Lily Crandell knows she cannot live up to the standards of excellence set by her wedding planner older sister, Lauren (see I DO (BUT I DON'T). Instead she knows that her family considers her a buffoon drifting from one problem to another. Now that Lauren has a son Tyler to add to her perfect-ness, Lily concedes she can never match her sibling. Instead she decides to go with the flow and elopes with her boyfriend wannabe be rock star Ted Dayton, who is great in bed. Quickly Lily concludes that outside of his music and their bed, they have nothing to hold them together. The divorce happens as fast as the marriage occurred. Ted bounces immediately back with Lily assuming the silicone actress Melanie Slate contains helps him rebound. Unable to take being the joke of tabloids and the pursuit of paparazzi, Lily leaves Texas for London. In England Lily heeding the advice of her former boyfriend Carter, Lily volunteers at the local hospital. There she meets renowned footballer Sean Gates, who enjoys Lily's eccentric behavior, Texas twang, and most of all, her body. However, Ted and his group are in town for a concert as they have begun to be popular leading the tabloids to wonder who gets Lily? This chick lit sequel stars the wild sibling who even when she does the right thing somehow ends up in trouble. The lighthearted story line is fun to follow as Lily swings like a pendulum from one mess into another, but at least is not dealing with sticky fingers. Though inane, fans will enjoy this zany look at celebrities chick lit style.

Fall of Knight
Peter David
ISBN: 044101402X, $24.95, 352 pp.

Retirement doesn't rest easy for the once and future king. After Merlin released him from the cave after spending a millennium there recovering from Mordred's wound, King Arthur travels to New York where he meets the reincarnated Gwen, becomes mayor of New York City and then President of the United States. When Gwen is wounded by a terrorist and falls into an irreversible coma Arthur searches for and finds the Holy Grail and gives it to her to drink where upon she was miraculously healed. He retires from office because the world can't know Gwen is alive and they sail into the sunset. Happily even after isn't all it's cracked up to be and King Arthur is bored. When Gwen is discovered alive by spy satellites, Arthur and Gwen return to the white house and on a national TV show demonstrates the healing powers of the Grail. Everyone who is sick and ailing wants to drink from it and Arthur and Gwen, along with Sir Percival go into hiding until a businessman comes up with a way of distilling the potency of the water. Although "Grail Water" is a success, using mystical powers in such large quantities could cause a backlash that could devastate the world. The humor and dry wit of Peter David makes FALL OF KNIGHT a very enjoyable and entertaining reading experience. The sub-plot of a necromancer who wants to steal the Grail and use it with the Spear Lurin to wipe humanity off the face of the earth adds another layer of excitement to a richly developed storyline. Arthur is seen as a mighty warrior, a loving husband, a person who needs to help mankind and a capable of making a mistake. In other words, the author humanizes the myth and in doing so makes him even more heroic.

Valentine's Exile
E.E. Knight
ISBN: 0451460871, $23.95, 304 pp.

The year is 2072 and it has been fifty years since the Kurians came and conquered earth using humans to satiate their soul hunger. The Reapers, creations of the Kurians need blood to survive and take it with syringe like tongue. They take the aura of people and send it to their Kurian masters who live in strongly secured fortresses in territory they carved up. Freedom fighter David Valentine has fought since he was old enough to hold a weapon and was there when the Kurians suffered two major defeats, the retaking of Dallas and much of their surrounding area and the creation of the Ozark Free Territory. When his wounded commander William Post asks David to find his wife who disappeared into Kurian territory, he has no idea he will be jailed on murder charges brought by an enemy who has a grievance against him, move into various parts of the Kurian order to find clues to where William's wife Gail is and fight the Reapers and other monsters just to get information on where Gailis. She is just one of many women who passed a blood test and was taken to a special facility that horrifies David since he stared fighting in the Resistance. The vampire Earth series just keeps getting better and better. Earth is a dark and conquered place where quislings (human collaborators) do almost as much to threaten people as their masters do. The protagonist is no innocent but he is a dedicated person who knows he will face danger but he feels the goal is worth the price. Hopefully in future books in this series, readers will learn more about the Kurians because for the most part they stay in the background and let their minions do their work. VALENTINE'S EXILE is a fantastic work of science fiction in the vein of Wells' WAR OF THE WORLDS.

Touch the Dark
Karen Chance
ISBN: 0451460936, $6.99

Over three years ago Antonio the Mafioso vampire killed his parents who were in the way when he went to abduct Cassandra Palmer so that he could control her clairvoyance skills. She escaped and felt relatively safe until now when she reads her obit on her computer screen. Deciding not to wait for her death on Atlanta's Peachtree Street, Cass races home to insure her roommate Tomas is safe. However vampires attack both of them. They survive the assault with help from some of Cass' more spirited friends and it helps that Tomas is a vampire too. Tomas escorts Cassie to the Metaphysical Alliance for Greater Cooperation (MAGIC) headquarters for a who's who of supernatural and mythological species. She pleads with the vampiric Senate for protection against avenging literally blood-thirsty hitman; instead the senators demand much more unsafe escapades from her. Cass is beginning to comprehend for some unknown reason she is the center of a supernatural war. As Cassie begins to understand the scope of her power, she finds herself attracted to Senator Mircea, but fears he just wants to make her dinner not take her to dinner. TOUCH THE DARK is an entertaining supernatural thriller starring a bewildered beleaguered brave woman struggling to survive in a world that makes no sense to her, which is saying a lot since she regularly speaks with ghosts. The action-packed story line never slows down for a nano second so wear the seat belts and set some time as this is a one read thriller. The creatures of the dark seem genuine whether they are vampire, ghost, or a were-species and the senate is a fascinating mix of historical and literary figures while a seemingly bittersweet star-crossed romance augments a strong tale that will bring much acclaim to Karen Chance.

The Last Mortal Man
Syne Mitchell
ISBN: 0451460944, $6.99, 448 pp.

The twenty fourth century is a whole new world where nano-biology has advanced to the point where cities can be grown and those who can afford it can be converted to the Deathless, immortals who never age, fall ill or need sleep or food. Lucius Sterling founded the nano-biology firm and he decides who will be immortal or not depending on if they can meet his price and if they are useful. His most trusted employee is Alexia, a Deathless who once tried to kill him but now watches his back against his many enemies. Lucius had the scientist who created mano-biology grow his own nation island Elysium where he is the ruler. While Alexa is the one person he trusts, Jack, his great-grandson is the one being he loves. Jack develops an allergy to nano-biology and must live in a dead zone in Watershed Valley, Montana a place free of the Deathless. He is called back to Elysium because Lucius has discovered that someone has created a dissembler that destroys nano-biology. He wants Alexa and Jack to find where it is being produced and stop it. While they search for it, whole cities are destroyed and millions of people die. Unless they can stop it from being used, civilization and most of the world's population will be destroyed. Syne Mitchell's opening book in her new series "The Deathless" is an exciting seat of your pants, science fiction thriller. The two protagonists are likeable and understandable characters who together make a team that is capable of solving the impossible. The wonders of future civilization in the twenty forth century dazzle the audiences with its advancements and higher standards of living. There are few authors who can match Ms. Mitchell's believable world building.

Necroscope: The Touch
Brian Lumley
ISBN: 0765316099, $25.95

In 1990 the E-Branch agents of the British Secret Service sense the death of the Necroscope Harry Keogh though he dies in a parallel universe. Not long before Harry's brain splintered into nano pieces, Scott St. John wakes up every morning at 3:33 feeling alone since his wife Kelly died at that time and pondering once again the nightly dream of a dart of light striking him at 3:33. Still sorrow is his demeanor. This time the golden dart is not a dream as a splinter of Harry's soul strikes Scott. The grieving human soon finds himself communicating with the deceased and traveling anywhere in the universe on a weird moebius strip loop. The E-Branch crowd senses a new ESPer and recruit Scott at about the same time a government employee mysteriously is killed when his epidermis is turned outside in. He meets Shania the Shing't who warns Scott that the Mordri Three renegade psychic healers from the few survivors of her race using their skills to kill have come to eradicate the Earth. With the encouragement of Kelly and the support of Shania and an odd telepathic she-wolf, Scott tries to save the world. Though Harry is being replaced by a rookie Necroscope, his presence is still around as Brian Lumley refreshes his terrific horror science fiction thriller with the newbie Scott. The action-packed story line is driven by a bewildered Scott struggling with the loss of his wife as much as he is wrestles with adapting to his new skills and responsibilities. It is not everyday that someone begins to talk with those that are dead or have to save a planet with telepathic allies who are not all human. Mr. Lumley provides a triumphant invigorating Necroscopic thriller.

The Fortress of Glass
David Drake
ISBN: 076531259X, $25.95

Heir to the throne of the Isles, Prince Garric travels on a long journey to obtain the sworn allegiance to him by the local rulers; any dissenters will be eliminated. Currently he and his small entourage reach First Atara ruled by local monarch King Cervoran; that is until he recently died and was replaced by Prince Protas. Garric begins the ceremony to honor the late ruler and to affirm Protas as the new local king. However, wizardry strikes and Garric vanishes as a meteor arrives and Cervoran returns to life. While Garric struggles to survive in another realm, The Green Woman from her Fortress of Glass mounts an assault with lethal magical creatures that leaves the locals and Garric's party in jeopardy. The first entry in the third and final trilogy The Crown of the Isles is an exciting and spellbinding sorcery fantasy. The action-packed story line insures that Garric and his crewmates seem real though they employ or are impacted by magic. The Green Woman poses a real threat and the champion's vanishing adds to the feel that though this novel is part of the Lord of the Isles series THE FORTRESS OF GLASS is a brisk new look at old friends.

The Hammer of Darkness
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
ISBN: 076531567X, $13.95, 288 pp.

With a Query next to his name Martin Martel is unable to live as a student on the planet Karnak and his girlfriend Kryn, the duke's daughter, has the guards fire at him when she realized he was an esper. The Brotherhood takes him to Aurore a planet many scientists believe should not exist, a place where people with esper powers have a chance to grow into them and use them at will. It is also a place where gods walk among the populace; only Martel believes at first they are more powerful espers such as the galaxy has never seen and the gods rule to keep from getting bored. Martel has the potential to become one of them but because he turns his back on them, both sides know a confrontation will eventually occur. A millennium has passed and Martel is viewed as a god by the people who worship him, he can control his powers which are greater than the so called gods and Kryn is now the Viceroy ruler of a galaxy. Martel does the impossible to get what he wants and if he is successful, for the first time in a thousand years, he will finally be happy. THE HAMMER OF DARKNESS is a reprint of a book first published in 1985. Although the plot is not as fast-paced and exciting as the later works of L.E. Modesitt, Jr., it is evident by the storyline that he showed back then he was destined to be a highly regarded master storyteller. What hasn't changed in over two decades is his ability to create characters that are interesting and larger than life placed in a future setting.

The Lightstone
David Zindell
ISBN: 0765311291, $25.95

War is the norm between the kingdoms that make up Ea as the monarchs skirmish over ancient petty grievances to long dead ancestors. However, as they waste resources battling one another, the evil Morjin has begun a campaign to rule the entire land of Ea. His minion seeks the Lightstone cup that will enable the freeing of the Lord of Lies which will spread subsequent havoc across Ea. King Kiritan of Alonia invokes a quest to find the missing Lightstone before Morjin obtains it. Hundreds of knights from the various kingdoms arrive. Knight Valashu Elahad, the seventh son of the Mesh ruler, had has visions of the Cup of Heaven so though he loathes fighting, he begins the journey to Alonia, accompanied by Master Juwain and Brother Maram. Four others postulate join the team even though Val is probably the one as he is the seventh son that the ancient prophesies claim will slay the evil dragon. This opening gamut is a solid Tolkien like fantasy that stars flawed heroes knowing that destiny has plunged them into the abyss something that most of them would not have volunteered if other choices existed. Especially interesting is the young champion who goes from debating an easy spoiled life in the palace though as the youngest son to finding excitement when the dreams force his hand. The use of minstrels to provide the past adds to a feel of a genuine world on the brink of a good vs. evil confrontation. Though like many fantasies, the ending leaves the audience hanging around for the next novel, fans of Tolkien will appreciate this opening coming of age gambit in what looks like will be a delightful epic.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Jane's Stories III
Women Writing Across Boundaries
Jane's Stories Press Foundation
PO Box 687, Mt. Prospect IL 60056
ISBN: 1891476181, $15.95, 79 pp.

For readers unfamiliar with Jane's Stories, here is a brief thumbnail: The Jane's Stories Press Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that supports the writing of women and girls of all cultures and backgrounds. Through this foundation, emerging and established female writers who are underrepresented in the publishing world are nurtured and encouraged. Their focus is on the writing of women over 50, under 24, and of color.

This third Jane's Stories anthology presents the poetry and prose of 14 women. Edited by Glenda Bailey-Mershon and M. Eliza Hamilton Abegunde, each poem and every short story is exceptional, demonstrating the individual gifts and spirit of the writers. Because each writer contributes so beautifully to this book, I've chosen brief excerpts from every work in example.

In "The Secret Wedding," Ava Hu shares the spirit, love, and beauty of India:

No one will hear the secrets
you have tucked inside
the pockets of this land….

"Weston Bend State Park" by Christina Pacosz mourns changes seen along a once pristine river:

The river has slowed some.
A struggling sandbar gleams white
at the mouth of Bear Creek
where no bear stops to drink –
all extinct.

Constance Vogel focuses on sorrow, life and death in "Yellow Walls:"
Stella d'oro lilies on your grave turn brown and dry.
Yellow walls are the only way I know
to remember you, now that you're free.

"Blueblack Lullaby" by Meta Commerse is a song of joyful celebration:

Sea island strumming
soft piano tinkling,
ripe black coffee sounds
of a sage
and his nutmeg
daddybiscuit music….

"Hair Wraps, Bottle Caps and Seeing-Eye Dogs" by Kat Vellos is an intriguing melange of thoughts with serious undertones:

I've been opening myself up to the night,
grasping at, then cursing my distractions
because they aren't you.

"Advice to a Friend Who Has Considered Suicide" by Yolanda Nieves is a powerful testament to life, nature, and the human spirit:

When it rains,
especially when it rains,
hold your own hand
don't let go.

"?: The Left Ear" by Julie Gonnering explores (explains?) the female psyche through ear's anatomy:

And if I appear
as that voluptuous, stretching,
the questions I cradle
won't reproduce

In Susan Richardson's "Resettlement," a woman resists leaving the land that holds her history:

When her sons talk of leaving,
of living in a place that's not an outport,
her spirit distorts like the limbs
of a spruce in the wind off the water.

"Red Combine in an Empty Field at Evening" by Carol Wade Lundberg speaks of isolation, separation, loneliness:

its soliloquy
like footlights
in a slowly
darkening theater

The four short stories are as diverse as the poetry, wonderfully written and distinct.

In "Sewing Machines" by Cheryl Klein, a bone weary mother juggles work, worry, hope, and dreams. This is a story ripe and sweet with life's struggles and rewards.

"She's Got Legs" by Meta Commerse tells of a young girl determined to be free, who soothes herself with a special dream, a secret dream just for her.

In "Swimming Lessons" by Marci Stillerman, an orthodox rabbi's daughter longs for the forbidden and sees herself as a "crow in a cage of finches."

"Rarely on Sundays" by Melinda Mullins is humorous and imaginative, much like the courageous young heroine who finds a way to make her strange life bearable.

Jane's Stories III shares in amazing ways the grit and grace that is female. All the poems and short stories in this book are memorable. This work is highly recommended.

An Open Universe
Matt Arnold
Wheatmark Publishing
610 E. Delano Str. Suite 104, Tucson AZ 85705
ISBN: 1587365936, $18.95, 242 pp.

In his second novel, Matt Arnold introduces four friends -- Stan, John, Terry and Curtis -- embarking on new lives after their graduation from Cornell. The year is 1979. Their journey takes them in different directions, but the power of their friendship endures through several years, success, failure, loss, and tragedy.

Stan Hachure is the main character and linchpin that binds four friends together throughout. Stan comes from a solid working class background. His intelligence, focus, and innovative applications of what he learned at Cornell save the family egg farm during his first year after graduation. Friend John lives and works in Seattle. Stan plans to join him there after a meandering cross country road trip. He rushes through the heartland of America so he can explore Colorado, the Continental Divide, Rockies, and Grand Canyon. A spirited Native American girl he meets while camping in the mountains introduces the naieve Stan to the truest passion he has ever experienced. By comparison, Seattle is a let down at first. Stan is forced to crash with John because the Ivy League college grad and experienced accountant can't find a job.

Stan finally finds the perfect job, working as part time accountant and later manager of Bean's. Bean's is a pre-Starbucks coffee shop, a Seattle icon featured in Arnold's first book, Crossroads. At Bean's, the sixties meet the eighties with a mixed bag of customers and philosophies holding court under Stan's efficient management. John's talents, also, are rewarded as he relocates to Austin after being courted by an up and coming microchip company. Terry is the picture of a successful yuppie who makes big bucks and likes to live the part. The three friends worry about Curtis, who seems to be in a destructive downward spiral as he moves from job to job.

The beauty of this story is following four friends as they separate and come together over time. Together, they celebrate triumphs and share sorrows. The glorious Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest provide an incidental backdrop through Arnold's descriptive prose. If you enjoy coming of age stories, An Open Universe is well worth the read.

Distortion and Desire
Farrah Sarafa
Shadows Ink Publications
1209 Milwaukee Str., Excelsior Springs MO 64024
ISBN: 1932447628, Chapbook at $6.95

Farrah Sarafa calls herself a cultural hybrid because she is the American-born daughter of a Palestinian-born mother and Iraqi-born father. The questions she asks herself are poignant and understandable: Who should she grieve for? Who can she love and still be a loyal American? Farrah Sarafa's existence is skewed and conflicted by her circumstances. She is an Arab born in America, a woman living in a man's world, born with only one hand in a two-handed world. It is from these realities that she draws her poetic inspiration.

The final verse of "Blood, Sand, and Tears of a Young Boy" expresses clearly the poet's conflicted life. She loves American freedoms but grieves for those less fortunate:

Desert souls, their tears are made of blood mixed with sand
while I, American, laugh in pain
at Charlie Chaplin going insane on the television screen.
CNN bulletin interrupts my bliss with news of terrors
about red and flaming wearers
of suicide and contempt.
My laughs push into cries
and form a current for the Arabian Sea
whose crystal salts perspire and become of me.
Her waves undulate like snake-thin layers of blood thickened
with sand and stone
like a serpent's plea to be set free
and to roam
the Garden of Eden.

In "Aesthetic, Ascetic, or Anorexic?" she questions the deception and death she sees in our shared world and clearly states her preferences. She'd rather suffer horribly, personally, than be a helpless onlooker:

I'd rather be hammered down by metal
on the top of my head down
and compacted square
by the factory;
I'd rather give my hand over
to the spider-claw of the upper left pain
and shrink to it -- into it, like dough --
like a grape in the sun's reign.
In pride
I'd rather forbear the stain
of self-starvation.

Farrah Sarafa lives the American way. She plays, watches TV, lives free. But she worries and shares the suffering of her parents' people from a distance. These verses from "Father Iraq, Mother Palestine" express her worry about grandparents and great grandparents. How can she be free when every cell of her being shares their inheritance:

How can this happen
How can this be
That I will never see
The land of my dear grandmother?

I cry, I whine, abstaining
From bodily pleasures
emptying myself
of the life deprived Iraq.

Ms. Sarafa is not an America-basher. She clearly appreciates the land of her birth. But like all of us in America who are not Native American Indians, our people came from other lands. Our ancestors sometimes suffered and died in other wars, on other continents. Wherever they lived and died, our ancestors are part of us today. Farrah Sarafa's poetry is a gentle reminder of that truth.

The Bodyguard and the Show Dog
Christy Tillery French
Behler Publications
22365 El Toro Road, #135, Lake Forest, CA 92630
ISBN: 193301637X, $15.95, 268 pp.

One of my favorite writers is back. This second book in The Bodyguard series reprises characters fans loved in the first, and throws a few new ones into the mix. Along with the action, suspense, and romance we expect from Ms. French, this book is liberally laced with humor.

Back for another round of action and danger are Natasha Chamberlain, the feisty bodyguard with a hair-trigger temper; Jonce Striker, her enigmatic half-Cherokee boss turned lover; Roger Valentine, a client in the first book and now a friend; Pit and Bigun, Valentine's Samoan bodyguards who spend half their time keeping Natasha out of trouble. This time Natasha is hired to guard Myrtle Galbreath's prize-winning show dog, Chumley. Chumley is ill-mannered and obnoxious but takes a shine to Natasha. Someone has threatened the dog's life if Myrtle enters him in an upcoming championship. Before too long the fur begins to fly in more ways than one as first Chumley and then Natasha are stalked by bad guys bent on eliminating them both.

Natasha's unorthodox style as a bodyguard throws her into one scrape after another while Jonce works frantically behind the scenes to keep her alive. He plans to marry this infuriating woman and, one way or another, she's getting to the altar in one piece! Natasha's list of suspects adds intriguing dimensions to the mystery. Is it the seedy owner of a strip club, a lecherous Senator, a gang of vicious bikers, or a crazed State employee out to end her life? I suggest you read the book to find out.

Christy Tillery French excels at creating very human characters, intense action, provocative storylines, and sizzling romance. Established fans and new readers will want more of this series. I hope book number three is in the offing, Ms. French.

Wheelchair Dancer
David Pointer
Time Barn Books
529 Barrywood Drive, Nashville TN 37220-1636
no ISBN, $5.00 + $2.00 s & h, 28 page chapbook

I first read David Pointer's work at The Time Garden online. Since then, his work has appeared in many journals and e-zines. Wheelchair Dancer is his second book of poetry. The glossy metaphorical cover is an intriguing introduction to the poems inside, where Pointer ambushes our sense of modern superiority and wrings the truth out of it But he also harvests hope and beauty out of chaos.

Our outward appearance is not always what we are as people. "Rising" makes that point in ways both sad and amusing:

At the fifth floor
came a woman
and as we were thrust upward
in an erection of air
I looked like a born loser
from a Billy Jack flick
for her eyebrows arched
and her body became
rigid as a razor.

The door finally opened
and her fear disembarked

Pointer plumbs the unusual in sometimes-unexpected ways by examining obscure events under his microscope. This excerpt from "After the Shootings" is one example, but the poem must be read in its entirety for its shocking impact:

The sexy police
sketch artist
& county coroner
dined on braised
rabbit and
Chinese broccoli
in smoked
tomato sauce
and discussed
the day's events:

I was happy to see Pointer classics, "Poetry Grants the Exclusive" and "Poetrygate"
included in this chapbook. Both are scathing commentaries on modern life and culture
as we know it. The way this poet uses words and sounds to glean truth out of modern
chaos is no accident. Consider this excerpt from "Relocation Specialist" for example:

….soon spilling
fitfully forward
into a hellish
private prone
scraping grafted
skin from
decimated bone….

As I said at the beginning of this review, David Pointer harvests hope and beauty out of life's chaos. "Remnants" is a hopeful poem where the fragmented sentences of children are "refired in the kiln of good company and consistent belief." And in the delightful "First Will and Word Testament" Pointer's dowry to his children includes inner spirit and wishful words.

This little chapbook is packed full of acerbic wit and thoughtful wisdom, written with clarity from Pointer's point of view. Pointer fans will thoroughly enjoy this book. Those unfamiliar with his work should start by reading Wheelchair Dancer.

The Priest's Madonna
Amy Hassinger
Putnam / Penguin
375 Hudson Str., NY, NY 10014
ISBN: 0399153179, $24.95, 320 pp.

What struck me first about this novel is Ms. Hassinger's beautiful prose style. Her voice is distinct and powerful as she weaves two tales together into one. Fascinating historic facts blended with fiction, coupled with Hassinger's exceptional writing style, made this story a standout.

France of the 1880s is a time of anti-religious militancy. Marie Denarnaud is narrator of the story, the sixteen year old daughter of a devoted Catholic mother and a strongly opinionated father whose political leanings do not favor the Church. As new residents of Rennes-de-Chateau, their presence is not welcomed by villagers until a new priest is assigned to their parish. Father Berenger Sauniere is a friend of Marie's mother, which gains immediate acceptance for the family. Sauniere is a handsome, charismatic, enigmatic priest who swiftly transforms a floundering church through the power of his personality. Marie is enamored of the handsome priest. She's never had strong faith in the Church or believed in its tenets. Her devotion to the priest and his Church stems from impure motives and false piety. That devotion and attraction over time becomes mutual.

Sauniere rebuilds the ancient church with money obtained by mysterious means. Rumors have persisted for ages of a priceless treasure and catacombs beneath the church. And locals have long believed that the child of Jesus and Mary Magdalen lived in Rennes- de-Chateau, beginning a bloodline that continues to this day. Sauniere vows this rumor to be blasphemous, yet even he succumbs to its allure eventually. He falls from grace, gives in to his desire for worldly wealth, secular power, and the passionate Marie.

Adding power to the narrative is the story of Jesus of Nazareth and Mary Magdalen, running parallel to the relationship of Marie and her beloved priest. Jesus is so frail from exhaustion, and yet so strong in spirit. Once her Savior has cleansed Magdalen of demons, her spirit is peaceful, burning with single minded devotion. Her relationship with Jesus enhances his strength. By comparison, Sauniere mourns his lost faith and Marie grieves for the priest who was once so devoted to his Church.

The historic facts were riveting and, true or not, the parallel stories of Jesus and his Mary and Sauniere and his Madonna were well told. The Priest's Madonna is a variation on stories that have been written about before. What sets this one apart is the beauty of Ms. Hassinger's masterful writing.

An Eye
Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
Pecan Grove Press
P.O. Box AL, 1 Camino Santa Maria, San Antonio TX 78228-8608
ISBN: 1931247331, $9.00, 37 pp.

Ms. Mankiewicz is a Pushcart-nominated poet whose work has been published in many literary journals. She also has two chapbooks and a children's book to her credit. Her work in this book ranges from intense to intuitive, haunting to heart breaking to humorous.

In "The Lady Livia" she memorializes the determination of the wife of Rome's Emperor Augustus. Livia means to maintain her power, whatever that entails:

There is no guilt burdening this Lady's heart;
her desire is not to inflict agony or to avenge –
she is stabilizing the empire she helped
create, excising republican sentiment
and undesirable lineage, building up provisions
against old age and uninterrupted power.

"The Girl Who Loved Armchairs" is metaphorically explicit and one of life's commentaries, at which this poet excels:

I'm told, love will outlast passion's appetite –
then may it rage as it slips into that ungentle night.

And again, "Someone Else's World" is a remarkable peek into the lives we share with strangers, lovers, family, and friends:

There's a time of will, of stout-hearted sensibility
when all may not be right with the world
but it is your world, with all its back-breakers,
its griefs, its bumps in the night….

"Caiti" is a long poem, several pages long, laced with chilling rage and inexpressible sorrows. An excerpt will not do this exceptional poem justice. I encourage readers to judge for themselves.

"Young Girls in Young Girl Dresses" is a nostalgic reminiscence of what once was
compared to the present:

This poem is for us,
blocking recall of how short
the good part was, how few
the minutes of specialness, being
part of, sure of, as good as:

out of reach of the future's missteps…

With an unerring eye, Ms. Mankiewicz focuses on issues and realities we all understand. From ancient eras to the present day, she shares the essence of what it is to be a female of any age or time.

Dispatches From Kansas
Tom Parker
BookSurge LLC
5341 Dorchester Road, Suite 16, Charleston, SC 29418
ISBN: 1419613685, $17.95, 346 pp.

On rare occasion, I discover a writer whose lyrical prose style stuns me to silence. "Stun" is the key word here – stunning stories so beautifully told I contemplate them, relish the words, and stare off into space as if struck dumb in appreciative silence. Tom Parker is one of a handful of writers whose name has joined that list of the uncommonly gifted.

Tom Parker is not a native but believes Kansas is one of America's best-kept secrets. He and his wife Lori moved to Kansas from Colorado several years ago when they had wearied of sprawling cities and corporate ladders going nowhere. He's been waxing eloquent about tall grass prairies, Kansas towns and people in his newspaper columns ever since. This book is a random sampling from his column of the same name. One excerpt from one column states Parker's sentiments clearly:

"What's wrong with Kansas? I leave work as the sun becomes airborne. Mist chokes the valleys, shadowed yet by dense woods. The road slips into a slight depression and then rises and the Blue River Valley spreads before me as far as the eye can see, a verdant channel winding southward between grassy bluffs. The road descends and leaps the river and curves into town. I stand on my front porch, the song of dickcissels calling the sun up. A cuckoo cries behind me. Warily eyeing me, a cottontail sucks down a long dandelion stem."

Life in the prairies has been peaceful and Parker is not hesitant to share the divine he sees in everything around him. Birdsong is surreal and ghostly in early morning fogs along the rivers and streams. Thunderstorms are awesome, electric, transforming. Winter winds roar from the north to rattle windows, freshen air, and freeze nose hairs. Dwelling in the plains requires a sense of humor and a hardy spirit. Amidst nature's bounty, the Parkers discovered mysteries of daily life in rural Kansas: the art of waving at everyone you meet; the odd case of the clairvoyant cashier; the joy and adventure to be found in following grain elevators home; anti- terrorist plans, rural Kansas style. Parker's delight with his new home is obvious, with the exception of ticks, mosquitoes, and grasshoppers.

Tom Parker shares his Kansas experiences with subtle exaggeration, gentle irony, and incredible poignance. He salves occasional bouts of blind despair and dark depression with daily doses of nature. In his world, Nature is a blessing and a balm. And because he shares his vision generously with an honest spirit, readers will enjoy his stories whether they live in Kansas or not. Tom Parker's writing is exceptional and Dispatches from Kansas is highly recommended.

The Truth About Caffeine
Marina Kushner
32 Saddleview Dr., Royersford PA 19468
ISBN: 0974758248, $14.95, 192 pp.

At one time, Marina Kushner was like most adults. She enjoyed a good cup of coffee, until she recognized addictive symptoms and behaviors in herself and other coffee lovers. Her concerns about the adverse effect of caffeine are great enough that she took action. She founded a non-profit group, the Caffeine Awareness Alliance, and wrote this book to educate the masses. Obviously, a great deal of research went into this educational book, as evidenced by the extensive bibliography and corollary information. Through her research, Kushner also developed a line of drinks, Sofee, a caffeine substitute beverage.

It's safe to say that more people are addicted to caffeine than any other drug. Caffeine is a legal drug found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and soft drinks, but consumers who avoid caffeine may not realize it's also an ingredient in many medications and food. Ms. Kushner describes in interesting detail the history of coffee and the chemical components, none of which are very appetizing. The effects of caffeine on the human body are diverse. This drug can cause Central Nervous System and cardiovascular disorders and can exacerbate or cause hypoglycemia, Peptic Ulcer Disease, and Gastro-esophageal Reflux disease. Current studies underway are examining caffeine effects as a fetus-damaging and gene-development drug; the effects of caffeine on oral contraceptives; the effects of caffeine as a cause of fibrocystic breast disease.

Ms. Kushner includes a helpful section listing the caffeine content of favorite coffees, teas, and soft drinks. Except for chocolate, products high in caffeine have no nutritional value. Soy, the product Kushner chose as a caffeine drink substitute, is high in protein and other valuable nutrients. Interested readers can find more information at or

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

The King's Lizard: A Tale of Murder and Deception in Old Santa Fe
Pamela Christie
Wild Dog Books
7 Balsa Court, Santa Fe, NM 87508
ISBN: 0966686047, $14.95

Pamela Christie attended Bryn Mawr College, Pitzer College, and Berkeley. She is both a real estate broker and an author, and makes her home in New Mexico. She also enjoys hiking and exploring the areas that give her inspiration for her books.

Set in 1782 in the colony of New Mexico, Governor Anza is working feverishly to establish a liaison between the Spanish settlers and the Comanches. Nando Anguilar, a half breed who is the son of a Spanish don and a Ute mistress is the hero of the tale when the desperate governor enlists him as a spy. In the meantime, someone is working just as deliberately to try to wipe out Nando's family. Even the padre of the town seems to be after Nando, and he has no idea why this is happening:

"Damned if the big padre wasn't striding toward us over the packed dirt in front of the church.

'Fornicating dog!' I let the girl go and faced him, steeling myself, while still trying to look appropriately deferential. 'Right here in front of the Holy Cross!'

He grabbed Paulina by both shoulders and shoved her away. Then, focusing on me, he exploded with rage. 'Always this one! This little half-breed bastard! No regard for the laws! No respect for the righteous rule of the Mother Church! This is holy ground!'"

Christie put four years of research into this tale, and says she felt like she was channeling Santo Feno. Packed with historical information, THE KING'S LIZARD will educate, as well as entertain. Slavery was rampant during this period in history, and it involved American Indian tribes pouncing on one another, as well as the Spanish and English as they fought over land rights.

Christie writes an engrossing tale that is impossible to put down, once the reader is drawn in. It takes a little while to come up to speed, as this is a subject that is not generally known. But Nando's character is Christie's mouthpiece for historical purposes, as well as Nando himself developing into a dashing character. An excellent read!

Blood on Elkhorn Mountain
Wally Reutiman
North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc.
PO Box 451, St. Cloud, MN 56302
ISBN: 087839219X, $16.95

Wally Reutiman is an inveterate outdoorsman and has lived in Excelsior, Minnesota for his entire life. His hunting activities have taken him to Canada's Northwest, the American West, and North Dakota. He has rafted in Colorado and Idaho and has taken on Minnesota lakes and even the Yukon. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and has worked as an iron foundryman. BLOOD ON ELKHORN MOUNTAIN is his first publication.

A ten-year old unsolved murder for revenge sets the stage for this hunting murder mystery. Stan Winslow is a investment broker from Minnesota and joins a hunting party with his college buddy, Dan Brady, has organized in Colorado. Stan is questioning both his marriage to his glamorous wife, Teri, and his career path. A hunting excursion is just what the doctor ordered. But almost from the first things begin to go wrong. Dan had a hard time rounding up the hunting team and had to make compromises. The haul up the mountains almost turns into a disaster. And there is obvious tension among the team that makes Stan uneasy:

"Jack was obviously agitated by Stan's flippant remark, and, with a bit of edge to his voice, he said, 'Well, you're going to find that where we're headed isn't Montana, and it's not mules we're after. Elk are big game, and there's no room for screwing up. You shoot something illegal, and the troops'll be all over us like flies on shit.'"

Wally Reutiman launches his first novel on the strength of his hunting and outdoors experience. His tale is two pronged: a murder mystery where he holds his cards close to the vest and leads the reader through a psychological ride, and a strong plot rife with outdoors tips and an obvious love of nature. His characterizations are well thought out;

the plot fairly crackles; and he keeps the element of suspense running full tilt from the very first page. BLOOD ON ELKHORN MOUNTAIN is a stunning psychological thriller well worth the read. An excellent first effort!

Dekok and Murder by Melody
A.C. Baantjer
Speck Press
PO Box 102004, Denver, CO 80250
ISBN: 0972577696, $13.00

As a former detective inspector with the Amsterdam police, A.C. Baantjer is one of the most respected and acclaimed authors in the Netherlands. His nearly forty year career has spawned sixty crime novels with Inspector Detective Dekok, a television series, and more than five million sales. Baantjer has been dubbed the "Dutch Conan Doyle."

Jean-Paul Stappert and Erik Bavel are friends and share the distinction of having been ex-addicts. So it is particular confounding when they are both murdered on the same night by strangulation. Their irascible landlady is an ex-prostitute and is an old acquaintance for Inspector DeKok, who never gets over the sad spectacle that violent death presents. Jean-Paul was also un undeveloped musical genius, who found an unlikely mentor in Alex Waardenburg, an area classical musician who students were mostly garnered from the very rich. Yet it is Waardenburg who discovers the body of Erik Bavel:

"'But there were other remarkable parts to his story. When Jean-Paul had not shown up by quarter past ten, the feelings, or lack of them, drove Waardenburg to the rooming house. There he found the corpse of Erik Bavel.'

Dekok raised an index finger into the air. 'That's what Waardenburg told us…what he wants us to believe.'

Vledder looked nonplussed."

Baantjer uses his considerable expertise to develop Dekok's police procedural methods, With Vledder looking on as his sidekick. Dekok's a crusty yet soft cop who never loses his compassion for fellow human beings, even if it's the old prostitute, "Aunt" Mina Lyons, who runs the boardinghouse occupied by the two victims and who eventually becomes a victim herself. In fact, Dekok uses an extensive network of contacts and informers to eventually entrap the killer, in the most unlikely of places.

DEKOK AND MURDER BY MELODY is a nice mix of a plot that confounds the reader, even as Dekok is plying his trade. Characters represent a cross-section of Amsterdam's society, and Baantjer uses irony to solve this entertaining imbroglio.

The Dead Hour
Denise Mina
Little, Brown and Co.
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
ISBN: 0316735949, $24.99

Denise Mina is a native of Glasgow, Scotland. She is the author of the Garnethill trilogy, Deception, and her first Paddy Meehan mystery, Field of Blood.

Paddy Meehan was raised in a good Catholic family in Scotland, but she has long since given up her religion. She was engaged to Sean, but now he is her ex, and lives in her home with her mother and sisters. Paddy's meager salary supports five people. Her job is as a cub reporter, her paper is on shaky ground with a new editor. She and her sidekick drive around ambulance chasing with a police radio to try to drum up news. But Paddy has no idea that her life is about to change when they respond to a late night call that takes them to the rich side of town where a woman is being beaten. A well-dressed, obviously cultivated man answers Paddy's knock, shoves a bloody fifty pound note into Paddy's hands, and slams the door. Paddy has seen the woman in a hallway mirror, and a slight shake of her head to Paddy's silent question seals her fate:

"Paddy sat upright: the good looking man had killed her. She remembered the flurry of light at the Bearsden window and it seemed to her now an arm swung in a punch, a machete strike, a death blow. She recalled the night cold on her cheeks, the wind brush her hair back and saw again the fingers clench the door handle, holding the door closed, keeping the woman inside."

Denise Mina has created a new type of heroine in Paddy Meehan, which has caused quite a stir with their comment that Paddy was "stunningly original." Gone is the glamorous sleuth in Denise's tale. The beautiful women are murdered, and Paddy is overweight; scared of losing her job; is young and inexperienced; but she is also intelligent, fearless, and resourceful. Her moral compass isn't quite set into place, as she is still torn between her family's poor Scottish Catholic values. But she is coming into her own sexually, as well as holding her end up as an up-and-coming investigative journalist.

THE DEAD HOUR is a gritty tale about police corruption; about wealthy people who are also evil and predatory. Paddy is a champion of the underdog, and her at times bungling style endears her to the reader, even if she is a bitch at times.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Raging Silence
Amanda Stone
Synergy Books
2100 Kramer Lane, Suite 300, Austin, Texas 78758
ISBN: 0976498111, $14.95, 388 pp.

In this work we meet the Starling family and travel though several generations. We meet Melena, Ernest and shortly after their three children, Blackwell, Luke and Elizabeth. As with most of us their dream is for a happy healthy family, but this is not to be the case. Deep emotional subjects are laid bare in this work, one being the sexual abuse of Elizabeth and the ripples this caused as the secret is unveiled. This work touches on areas that some may feel uncomfortable with because we, as a society, wish to shove these under the rug and hope they will go away, they will not. The story shows how acts committed on family members and the way they are handled have reaching effects that span through time and touch more than the victim.

In "Raging Silence," you will find a tale that is open and honest in uncovering the covered; a story of family, love, fear and basically life itself in all its glory. Love, misery, joy and the march of the living within one family, their victories, hurts and silent cries, that unfortunately many will relate to awaits you in this read. The author draws you into the story with her descriptive power of each character, reaching into the depths of emotions and allowing you to merge with them and the battles that rage. Very good read.

Proof Evident
John Dicke, PSY.D.; J.D.
Synergy Books
2100 Kramer Lane, Suite 300, Austin, Texas 78758
ISBN: 0976498154, $21.95, 363 pp.

In this outstanding work by Dr. John Dicke we are treated to a murder mystery that takes us from the murder of the popular local sheriff by a Judge Jackson , to the trial with all the drama in-between. The entire way that the author presents the murder sets your mind on alert and when the Judge has no memory of committing it, well, you simply have to find out what is going on. Excellent way to make you want to read on. We meet characters that are well defined and rich in personality and flare, and we are allowed to dip into their lives which wraps us deeper around the happenings and the mystery that involves this case.

As the attorneys begin to search and unravel some clues to what truly lays behind this murder the possible answers become frightening and those whom the finger begins to point at are certainly not those you would want to falsely accuse. And at best even having proof positive could well put all those pointing the finger in the line of danger. What a read! I will tell you there is not one boring section in this entire book. It is a fast paced, well written read that draws you from one clue to another with the added excitement of trial battle. This is one outstanding read that I proudly recommend. A top-notch work, well done Dr. Dicke.

Dreams of an Immigrant
Elizabeth S. Steger
Bridgeway Books
2100 Kraemer Lane Suite 300, Austin, Texas 78758
ISBN: 1933438228, $13.95 228 pp.

In this work we meet Elizabeth Salomoni Steger; born and raised in Paraguay,Elizabeth dreams of being schooled in America and share her journey of making her dream a reality. We begin her journey in her land and I particularly enjoyed learning about her country, customs and her family; it gave a personal touch to her story. As we travel with her we see through hard work and faith her dream become a reality.

I believe this book shows the true spirit of our wonderful country America. Here, dreams become reality, hopes are born and faith is rewarded, as shown in Elizabeth's life. This work is a real testimony to the determination of a young woman and the blessings that America has to offer. God bless America and God bless Elizabeth as she continues to reach for the stars.

Song of the Jackalope
Roy Campbell
Bridgeway Books
2100 Kraemer Lane Suite 300, Austin, Texas 78758
ISBN: 193353804X, $12.95, 140 pp.

This is a delightful tale revolving around the legendary Jackalope in the American southwest. I personally did not know what a jackalope was and if you do not either let me tell you. It is a mythical creature living in America's Southwest deserts. It is said to resemble a large jackrabbit with antelope like antlers. It is said that it sings and cowboys through the years have heard it during the long night watches of their herds. Interesting! We meet Molly, a young sweet Jackalope who has only one antler. Because of this handicap she is often ridiculed by the others in her group but through a mysterious friend named Grandal, Molly learns the difference she can make in her world, as they take one adventure after another together.

We are also graced by meeting a really funny magpie named Fraida and a talking ginkgo tree along who will make an impact on Jackalope's future events. One day Molly is in a situation where she must face her enemy the coyote and actually help to save his life, will she do it? And how will this one act set in motion a repaying of kindness? You will have to read this adorable story to find out.

I highly recommend this work; it is packed full of just the right amount of adventure, moral issues, true friendships and many lessons on just what is important in life. A top of the notch read, one you and your child will enjoy sharing together. Excellent source of bedtime stories or just adventures to be shared anytime.

The Truth About Caffeine
Marina Kushner
SCR Books
Box 144, Brooklyn, NY 11224
ISBN: 0974758248, $14.95, 180 pp.

I have to be honest; I did not want to read this book. Why? Because I am a coffee lover, to me my day starts and ends with a cup of coffee. Oh my! What was I going to find within these pages that I really didn't want to know? Yes, my greatest fear came upon me as I began to read the many, many harmful effects that caffeine is doing to my body. In this work, author Marina Kushner exposes the true hidden menace behind the beverage that millions of us drink each day. And it is not only in coffee but in hundreds of other products that we consume. Scary thought believe me. Did you know that caffeine can effect an unborn child, effects the nervous system, contributes to heart disease? These are just a few of the findings you will read in this book.

I have to tell you; I was shocked at what I read and very uncomfortable with the facts that were presented to me. This book is a no nonsense read. One of those books filled with evidence that you don't want to believe but cannot deny it. Once read you will have a choice to make and it will not be easy. However, everyone deserves the right to know the truth, once known the decision of what you will do with that information will be yours and yours alone. A very well written, well researched and informative read.

Christina Baldwin
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Navato, CA 94949
ISBN: 1577314913, $21.95, 256 pp.

We all have a story within us, our very lives are stories waiting to be told, shared with others and enjoyed. In this work by author, Christina Baldwin, we are reminded of the importance of our stories, basically the importance of our lives and the lives of those around us. We are gently nudged to remember, to tell, to listen and enjoy the world and the people within it through stories.

This book to me was a soothing read, yet held my interest. I believe, and I may be wrong but nevertheless, that the author is trying to show us by telling our stories and listening to others we will have better understanding and communion in this world while enjoying the adventure of storytelling, tasting the joy, sorrows and adventure of life in general that are shared within a story. Interesting, good read!

Echelon, Somebody's Listening
Jack O'Neill
World Association
205 Fifth Avenue, Tarentum, Pennsylvania
ISBN: 159571071X, $16.95, 341 pp.

You have heard about novels that are packed with suspense, adventure, espionage and danger; in Jack O'Neill work, "Echelon- Somebody's Listening," you will not only find these but you will find characters that bring the storyline to perfection. We are thrust into the lives of our characters, told of their different status in life and circumstances that will ultimately bring them together for one block-buster of a read.

What is this book about? Have you ever wondered just how much eavesdropping goes on in this world, how does it work, who does it touch and who is involved.? In Mr. O'Neill's outstanding book you are shown the workings of a unique global eavesdropping system whose code name is 'Echelon.' A message is intercepted that sets us on the trail of a blazing adventure as the bad and the good make their run for final victory. The story is fast paced, timely and holds your interest from beginning to end. The storyline has far too many twists and turns to be revealed in one short review, but if you want a page-turner of a read, you don't want to miss this one. Our author has done a firecracker job in telling a tale that you wonder if it truly is fiction or fact; and when you put the book down you will most definitely wonder, just who is listening and why.

Want Great Kids? It Takes Good Parenting! How To Raise GREAT Kids in Ever Changing Times
Penny C. Martensen
BookSurge, LLC 1-866-308-6235
ISBN: 1419600516, $12.95, 112 pp.

Author, Penny C. Martensen, takes a hard look at the problems parents are facing in raising a generation that is old before their time. Our youth are being confronted with issues that were not even whispered in our growing up years. How does a parent instill in them the values that will produce responsible adults when the world around them seems to be saying the opposite? Our author takes on that challenge.

In her work, Ms. Martensen addresses such issues as; Responsibility, Goal Setting, Drugs and Alcohol, and even Television. She clearly explains the importance of each issue in your child's world, sometimes gives us a little story and adds some ways to help you show your child how to work through or towards achieving a productive solution. She is not preachy, but gives solid reasons for the positive, allowing the child to understand choosing not to participate in activities or emotions that would be self-destructive is a wise decision that they must make.

I believe that is what I liked the most about this book. As much as we may want to, we cannot follow our children around and make all their decisions for them. Ms. Martensen shows that we must be the example, instill the positive and in so doing, believe our children will understand to chose the correct way. Very well done.

Disasters Ec.
John R.H. Kimball
Peter E. Randall Publisher LLC
Portsmouth, New Hampshire 03802
ISBN: 1931897361, $25.00, 191 pp.

Marblehead, Massachusetts is the focal point of this read covering the history of the codfishing port and the clipper ship era in this area of America. Our author, John R.H. Kimball is a descendant of Marbleheaders and a pleasure sailor, certainly one who could pen factual words on this subject and bring history to life. The book explains to you the history of Marblehead and the important role it held in the fishing industry. The author includes the lives of those in the fishing and shipping industry that made an impact. He also gives you information on the lives of the sailors and their families which adds a great deal to the read. This book is definitely well researched and holds invaluable information. It certainly would be a read that any Maritime lover would embrace and also would be a treasure for those who hunger for history. Very well done.

Never Regret the Pain: Loving and Losing a Bipolar Spouse
Sel Erder Yackley
Helm Publishing
3923 Seward Ave., Rockford, IL 61108
ISBN: 0976919354, $14.95 205 pp.

In this outstanding work by author, Sel Erder Yackley, we are privileged to hear the heart-cry of one who has been rocked by Hell and lived to tell about it. The story, one of living and losing a spouse with Bipolar Disorder. We are taken on a journey from the beginning of this loving couples life together, Sel and Frank Yackley. Sel, hailing from Turkey embraced her new life in America. Frank was strong and destined for great accomplishments in his life. Frank and Sel had their dreams like any young couple and life was good to them as they prospered and Frank became a well-known public speaker and a respected judge. However, Frank had hidden pain that no one understood until it was too late. He suffered from Bipolar.

Our author in telling her story points out warning signs that were beaming red flags, screaming of impending disaster, but no one was aware of them. As she looks back upon their lives and now better understands the way of bipolar she can see where there were cries for help from a hurting soul. Ms. Yackley is open and frank in showing these so that they can be of help to others who are dealing with this problem. Unfortunately for Frank the signs were not seen and he took his life leaving Ms. Yackley and her three children struggling to understand.

Her work is not one of blame, but one of knowledge. Understanding the workings of a bipolar mind is half the battle. Knowing warning signs, listening and watching may well help those suffering from this malady to live a better quality of life, for themselves and their loved ones. It is a personal story, full of heart and soul, laughter and pain, sorrow and forgiveness; and it is one of understanding, knowledge and hope for the future. If you or someone you love is suffering with Bipolar disorder this is a must read. It will wrap you in its arms, encourage you to continue on and make you realize you are not alone.

Murder Is Relative: A Sam Runyon Mystery
Toni LoTempio
Publish America
PO Box 151, Frederick's, MD
ISBN: 1413739830, $19.95, 217 pp.

Let me start off by saying this is one outstanding read that will keep your interest from beginning to end. From the onset we are taken to the act of a brutal murder of a very wealthy old woman. Our victim, Ms. Laura Howe was not only smothered with her pillow, but was chocked; our murderer was making no mistakes of the final outcome. NYPD Homicide Detective Sam Runyon is placed on the case and begins to find out Ms. Howe was not only wealthy but very much disliked by all who knew her, including her own family. Finding out who benefited from her death didn't even begin to bring him any closer to solving this murder and when questioning her family he realized the motive could well be more than money.

Our author begins to weave a story that is full of all the essential elements of a great mystery; love, lust, hate, revenge and dark secrets from the past are all thrust at you with the speed of a freight train as you try to unwrap the clues of, 'who done it.' The characters are both likeable and undesirable, well defined and nicely interwoven with realism of true to life personalities that bring them alive in the minds eye. Remember this, not all are as they appear, but that is what we should expect in this gene and we are not disappointed. Very well done! Let me conclude with this; try as you may you probably will not figure out who done it or why so my advice to you is enjoy the ride as you are whisked away in a world of mystery. Recommended for those who yearn for a great mystery read.

Liar Liar
Deborah Nicholson
Severn House Publishing
9-15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey England
ISBN: 0727863606, $27.95, 252 pp.

At the opening of yet another outstanding book in the Kate Carpenter's Mysteries series we find the city in an out roar over the mysterious fires that are destroying buildings and leaving a body in their wake. We are not aware at the time how these fires will consume the lives of Cam, Kate and all her family and friends, but they will.

As we progress our author Deborah Nicholson takes us deeper into the personal lives of the characters we have grown to love and we share with them the death of the mother of Kate's assistant Graham, and we are drawn into his uncharacteristic actions of late and the concern over their friends Sam and her husband Ryan, who is one of the firemen fighting these mysterious blazes. We pity Cam and watch the battle between Kate and Cam as he desperately searches for a house that they can call their own, a move that Kate is fighting tooth and nail; and we are plunged into the mysterious life of Kate's father who shows up suddenly, without warning, or has he been in the city longer than anyone knew and if so why? We also meet an ambitious newswoman who will destroy anyone who gets in her way for a story and just as we are settling in, as is par for the course, our author throws the monkey wrench and Kate's dad is under suspicion by our own Detective Lincoln as the one setting the fires, even Kate questions his innocence for a time. Indeed the stage is set.

And so we are off into yet another life threatening mystery ride with our beloved Kate who finally realizes that her father could never be guilty of such a crime and sets out to prove his innocence putting herself right in the line of fire and dragging those she loves with her. As is come to be expected the unexpected is found in yet this fifth segment of "The Kate Carpenter Mysteries," and this one brings elements of personal lives of the characters topped with the joining of involvement in danger for them all, and a mystery that you will absolutely not be able to figure out until the author unravels it at the very end. Deborah Nicholson has done it again, never steal, she keeps her characters and her storyline fresh, inviting, exciting and mysterious which all adds up to one top-notch read that you do not want to miss. Thumbs-up, we have yet another winner.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

God's Revolution
Pope Benedict XVI
Ignatius Press
PO Box 1339, Fort Collins, CO 80522
1586171453 $14.95

God's Revolution: World Youth Day And Other Cologne Talks by Pope Benedict XVI is an informed and informative collection of inspired guidance drawn from the spirited writings in celebration of the World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany and the influential role played by the Pope in this international event. Knowledgeably covering a great array intriguing subjects, God's Revolution introduces the reader to the inspiring love of Christ, a strong Catholic identity, and a profoundly idealist Christian vision. Manifesting a true wisdom of the Christian faith, in the enduring benefits of Christian fundamentals, and providing a situational perception through the authorship of Pope Benedict XVI, God's Revolution is very highly recommended for all Roman Catholics.

In His Presence
Christine Haapala
Suffering Servant Scriptorium
PO Box 1126, Springfield, VA 22151
0970399685 $7.00

In His Presence: Seven Visits To The Blessed Sacrament by Christine Haapala and illustrated by Gustave Dore is an inspiring collection of meditations and outlines of prayers for the use during particular holidays or yearly landmarks, as well as for seven consecutive days for a special prayer request. Offering readers a complete and informative wisdom for periodical use or general uses, In His Presence is a superb contribution to Christian and Catholic sacraments and meditations, particularly for the Eucharist Adoration. In His Presence is very highly recommended for all Catholic readers searching for a specialized collection of meditations and tributaries for the most Holy and celebrated annual events in Catholicism.

You Will Be My Witnesses
John Dear
Orbis Books
PO Box 308, Maryknoll, NY 10545-0308
1570756414 $20.00

You Will Be My Witnesses: Saints, Prophets, And Martyrs by Jesuit priest, pastor and peacemaker John Dear is an outstanding contribution to the inspirational role of Catholic saints and the remarkable influence contributed by their life examples and spiritual influences with respect to members of the Catholic community. Knowledgeably depicting a Catholic saints ranging from Miguel Pro, Mary, John the Baptist, and Maria of Olonets, to Clare, Philip Berrigan, Gemma Galgani, Andrew and so many others, You Will Be My Witnesses informatively presents a succinct yet thorough biographically oriented understanding and concise description of each identified and cited saint. Impressively enhanced with full color illustrations of the saints, You Will Be My Witnesses is very strongly recommended as a wonderful contribution to the reference libraries of Catholic clergy or laity.

Practices Of Dialogue In The Roman Catholic Church
Bradford Hinze
Continuum International Publishing Group
PO Box 1321, Harrisburg, PA 17105
0826417213 $39.95

A work of impeccable scholarship, Practices Of Dialogue In The Roman Catholic Church: Aims And Obstacles, Lessons And Laments by Bradford Hinze (Professor of Theology at Fordham University) is a substantively informative, academically rigorous, thought-provoking study of the history of the various practices of dialogue and their effectiveness at every level of the Roman Catholic Church around the globe in the past forty years. Descriptively analyzing variations and themes of modern church history's often controversial developments in ritual and theology, dogma and doctrine, Practices Of Dialogue In The Roman Catholic Church offers readers documentation drawn from the premise of the influence of American and western European influences on papacy and the cardinals, particularly, the dialogical and democratic processes in decision making and the institutional, hierarchical structure of the church. Practices Of Dialogue In The Roman Catholic Church is particularly recommended reading for seminarians, clergy, theologians, and the laity in their study of the practices and specifics of the Catholic Church during the last half of the twentieth century and the opening decade of the twenty-first.

Portrait Of Jesus
Frank C. Tribbe
Paragon House
1925 Oakcrest Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55113
1557788545 $19.95

The significantly revised and updated second edition of Portrait Of Jesus: The Shroud Of Turin In Science And History by author and lecturer Frank C. Tribbe is a highly documented analysis of the history and properties of the shroud of Turin. Addressing all of the controversies associated with the Shroud's history and historical significance, Tribbe draws upon years of careful study and exhaustive research carefully distinguishing documented facts and personal views and speculative theories. Informed and informative, nicely illustrated and inherently entertaining, the Portrait Of Jesus is very strongly recommended reading, especially for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in what is arguably one of the most important, famous, and controversial historical relics of Christianity.

The Shroud Was The Resurrection
John Loken
Privately Published
PO Box 7203, Ann Arbor, MI 48107
0964889749 $17.95

The Shroud Was The Resurrection: The Body Theft, The Shroud In The Tomb, And The Image That Inspired A Myth by John Loken is an inherently fascinating study of the highly intricate complexities involved with the famous Shroud of Turin and its historically influential history. Deftly compiling a complete and through account of the Shroud's history, its actual significance for New Testament ecclesiastical studies, its symbolic meaning, and related issues german any debate on its authenticity, The Shroud Was The Resurrection offers a natural biochemical approach to the Shroud as a verification concerning the resurrection of Christ and the true significance of the Shroud of Turin's mysterious and legendary past. The Shroud Was The Resurrection is very strongly recommended for readers searching for a thoughtful and accurate account of the Shroud's origin, nature, and significance.

The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia
William H. Shannon, Christine M. Bochen, and Patrick F. O'Connell
Orbis Books
PO Box 308, Maryknoll, NY 10545-0308
1570756570 $35.00

Packed with 350 entries and 50 black-and-white illustrations, The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia is the cornerstone guide to the life and thought of one of modern America's leading spiritual and literary thinkers. Written by the founding president and two past presidents of the International Thomas Merton Society, The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia lists its entries in alphabetical order. Entries are divided into three types: book articles, referring to the more than one hundred books from Merton's typewriter; theme articles, which discuss key themes that surface in Merton's writing; and Persons and Places articles, which supply background information on Merton's life and references, both biographical and literary. A "must-have" companion to any serious-minded scholar of Merton's writings.

The Way Of Mystery
Dennis J. Billy & James Keating
Paulist Press
997 Macarthur Boulevard, Mahwah, NJ 07430
0809143771 $14.95

Expertly co-authored by Dennis J. Billy (Professor of the History of Moral Theology and Christian Spirituality at the Alphonsian Academy of Rome's Pontifical Lateran University) and James Keaton (Associate Professor of Moral and Spiritual Theology at the School of Theology at the Pontifical College Josephinum, Columbus, Ohio), The Way Of Mystery: The Eucharist And Moral Living provides the non-specialist general reader with an understanding of the Eucharist and its contribution to the Catholic spirit, ideals, life and community. Concisely describing the concept of the Paschal mystery and its role in the Eucharistic Liturgy, The Way Of Mystery clearly explains the liturgy of the eucharist as a fundamental source of spiritual renewal and strength. The Way Of Mystery is an excellent guide to the connection between celebrating the eucharist and living a moral life within the context of Roman Catholicism.

On The Prayer Of Jesus
Ignatius Brianchaninov
Red Wheel Weiser Book Publishers
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950
0892541201 $12.95

The newest addition to the distinguished "Ibis Western Mystery Tradition" series from Ibis Press, On The Prayer Of Jesus by Ignatius Brianchaninov (1807-1867 -- a monastic ascetic and Abbot of the Sergiev Monastery in 1834 who was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1988) and translated for English readers by Father Lazarus offers an insightful analysis into prayer as the core practice of Christian spirituality and the Hesyschasm form of devotion. Deftly guiding readers through a truly comprehensive and studied understanding of prayer and its repetitive rhythm and nature, On The Prayer Of Jesus provides an easy-to-follow mapping of the Hesychasm's enabling attributes for opening the heart and mind for a productive and securing meditation in Christian practice, as exemplified by the wisdom of Bishop Ignatius Brianchanivov. On The Prayer Of Jesus is very highly recommended for all Christians searching for an ably translated work of the late Ignatius Brianchaninov's solidifying studies and wisdom endowed reflections on Jesus and the role of prayer within the Russian Orthodox Christian tradition.

Priests In Love
Jane Anderson
The Continuum International Publishing Group
PO Box 1321, Harrisburg, PA 17105
0826418309 $14.95

Priests In Love: Roman Catholic Clergy And Their Intimate Relationships is an account of love and intimacy by members of the Roman Catholic priesthood drawn from Jane Anderson's active involvement and experience in Catholicism for over twenty years. A compendium of stories of love and restriction, loss and pursuit, Priests In Love provides readers with an appreciation for the spiritual, ethical, and emotional issues involved, as well as being an authoritative study of the history of priestly celibacy and the frequent difficulties faced by members of the clergy within the culture and community of the church. A unique work of considerable merit, Priests In Love is very strongly recommended reading for anyone interested in the issue of a celibate priesthood and the issues surrounding the intimate issues of love and relationships within the Catholic community.

Christian Faith And Same-Sex Attraction
Thomas Hopko
Conciliar Press
PO Box 76, Ben Lemond, CA 95005
1888212756 $12.95

Christian Faith And Same-Sex Attraction by Thomas Hopko (Dean Emeritus of St. Vladimir's Seminar) is an informed study presenting the visionary perspective of the church and the religious ideals towards same-sex attraction. Clearly defining theological and pastoral insights concerning the experience of same-sex-desires and acknowledgements, Christian Faith And Same-Sex Attraction analyses the nature of gender identity and sexuality through the perspective of Christian Orthodox theology and is very strongly recommended reading for members of the Orthodox Christian church seeking to understand the theological doctrines relative to the issues of same-sex attractions experienced by themselves and/or their friends.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

Martin Luther
Paul R. Waibel
Harlan Davidson, Inc.
773 Glenn Avenue, Wheeling, IL 60090
0882952315 $12.95

Martin Luther: A Brief Introduction To His Life And Works by Paul R. Waibel (Professor of History, Belhaven College), is an impressive and succinct treatise on the courage and accomplishments of Martin Luther who defied Rome and sought to establish a reformed Christianity in both doctrine and practice. Guiding readers through Luther's influence and timely contributions to the Christian church, Biography and author Professor Waibel deftly delves into the remarkable persistence, substantial successes, ideas and idealism of Martin Luther's challenges to Roman Catholic excesses. Martin Luther is very strongly recommended for all students of Christian religion and history in general, and the Lutheran Church in particular, for its complete and thorough documentation of one man's relentless, tenacious, articulate passion for Protestant reforms.

Confessions Of A Christian Humanist
John W. de Gruchy
Augsburg Fortress Publishers
PO Box 59304, Minneapolis, MN 55459
0800638247 $18.00

Confessions Of A Christian Humanist by John W. de Gruchy (Professor Emeritus of Christian Studies at the University of Cape Town, South Africa) focuses upon the perspective, ideas and ideals of what has been termed "Christian humanism". Deftly guiding readers through Christianity's implied teachings on such issues as lifestyle, social and political commitments, and ethical stances, Confessions Of A Christian Humanist presents definitions and perspective, while addressing issues that include theological fundamentals and tradition within the modern context of Christian life. A work of impressive scholarship accessible to non-specialist general readers as well as seminary students and clergy, Confessions Of A Christian Humanist is very strongly recommended as thoughtful and rewarding reading.

And Peace At The Last
Russell L. Dicks & Thomas S. Kelper
Evangel Publishing House
PO Box 189, 200 Evangel Way, Nappanee, IN 46550-0189
1928915558 $12.99

Expertly co-authored by hospital chaplaincy pioneer Russel L. Dicks (1906-1965) and Christian newspaper journalist Thomas S. Kepler (1897-1963), And Peace At The Last: Christians Talk About Death is an in-depth compendium of essays, texts, and biblical quotes focusing on the issues of death, grief, and consolation. Knowledgeably guiding readers through a instinctively Christian perspective, And Peace At The Last is a compassionate study of the often painful and grief-stricken process of death. Organized in two parts ("An Experience of Death" and "Christian Perspectives on Death"), And Peace At The Last offers members of the Christian community a quite helpful reference and is very strongly recommended reading for Christians of all denominational affiliations who are struggling with the death of a friend, a family member, or a loved one.

The Way According To Luke
Paul Borgman
255 Jefferson Avenue, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
0802829368 $21.00

The Way According To Luke: Hearing The Whole Story Of Luke-Acts by Paul Borgman (Professor of English, Gordon College, Wenham, Massachusetts) is a narrative study of the classic Greek and Jewish literary tale elements of the New Testament Gospel of Luke and Book of Acts. As Professor Borgman insightfully explores the historical complexities of these biblical narratives, The Way According To Luke deftly guides readers through the two-part drama with its principal focus on the mission of Jesus and his apostles through attention to the use of repetition, patterns and other oral narrative particulars as the scriptures were originally intended to be read and understood by the early Christian community. The Way According To Luke is very highly recommended for all biblical students as a concise introduction and in-depth, academically sound, historical and theological study of the works of Luke which have been influential in the Christian movement from its very beginnings down to the present day.

Gleanings From Paul
A. W. Pink
Banner of Truth
PO Box 621, Charlisle, PA 17013
0851519237 $28.00

Gleanings From Paul: The Prayers From The Apostle by A. W. Pink (1886-1934) is an in-depth study of the prayers of Paul the Apostle as recorded in his writings in the New Testament, illustrating his practical and insightful perspectives on the many purposes of prayer in the spiritual life of the practicing Christian. Articulate, thoughtful, and occasionally inspiring, Gleanings From Paul offers readers an authoritative grasp Paul's commentaries with respect to the use of prayer to celebrate, give thanks, petition for help, acknowledge the sovereignty of God, and so much more. . Gleanings From Paul is very highly recommended and timeless reading for students of Paulinian theology and the manifold benefits of prayer for whomever is struggling to live a Christian life.

Gripped By The Greatness Of God
James MacDonald
Moody Publishers
820 North Lasalle Drive, Chicago, IL 60610
0802447783 $13.99 1-800-621-5111

Gripped By The Greatness Of God by Pastor James MacDonald (Harvest Bible Chapel, Rolling Meadows, Illinois) is a descriptive study of the Book of Isaiah as which is as inspirational as it is informative. Deftly analyzing the timeless teachings of these Old Testament scriptures, Gripped By The Greatness Of God offers readers a knowledgeable guidance through the truths exemplified in vivid passages of prophecy and commentary which impact upon and reflect some of Christianity's deeply rooted beliefs. Concluding with the epilogue "How to Stay Gripped by the Greatness of God", Pastor MacDonald's theological treatise is very strongly recommended reading for Christians of all denominations who are searching for an in-depth grasp of the timeless scriptures comprising the Book of Isaiah.

Ten Things I Wish Jesus Never Said
Victor Kuligin
Crossway Books
1300 Crescent Street, Wheaton, IL 60187
1581347758 $14.99

Ten Things I Wish Jesus Never Said by Victor Kuligin (Professor and Academic Dean at Namibia Evangelical Theological Seminary) is an inherently fascinating study of ten of Christ's principle sayings and their overwhelming effect and bearing upon his followers. Knowledgeably covering the difficult and demanding words of Christ, Ten Things I Wish Jesus Never Said provides clergy and lay readers alike with an in-depth analysis of the most effective and responsive approaches to following the Lord and Savior, even through His commands seem harsh or extreme. Challenging and thought-provoking reading, Ten Things I Wish Jesus Never Said is very strongly recommended for all believing Christians who seek to follow the teachings and instructions of Jesus of Nazareth -- including those on poverty, self-mutilation, commitment, self-crucifixion, martyrdom, love, forgiveness, self-loathing, discernment, self-assessment, and surrender that seem so unrealistic within the context of the modern world.

Jesus, The Bible, And Homosexuality
Jack Rogers
Presbyterian Publishing Corporation
341 Great Circle Road, Nashville, TN 37228
0664229395 $17.95

Jesus, The Bible, And Homosexuality: Explore The Myths, Heal The Church by Jack Rogers (Professor of Theology Emeritus at San Francisco Theological Seminary and Moderator of the 213th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, USA) is a concise and authoritative exploration of the Presbyterian Church's interpretation of biblical scriptures and their implied perception of homosexuality. Introducing readers to a wealth of informative research and study drawn from historical, biblical, and creedal analysis, Jesus, The Bible, And Homosexuality provides a complete representation of Christian ministerial responsibilities for homosexuals. Jesus, The Bible, And Homosexuality is very strongly recommended for all readers representing, practicing, or advising Presbyterian and other Protestant denominations of the Christian church for its comprehensive grasp of the necessity for a religious acceptance and/or tolerance of homosexuality within the congregation and in the world.

The Way Of The Warrior
Harry R. Jackson, Jr.
Chosen/Baker Publishing Group
PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
Creative Media Resources (publicity)
PO Box 1665, Sandpoint, ID 83864
080079401X $12.99

The Way Of The Warrior: How To Fulfill Life's Most Difficult Assignments by Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr. is an inspirational and comprehensive guide to living daily as a spiritual Christian warrior. Drawing from the life and psalms of David, wealth, achievement, righteousness, reflection, intercession, outlook, and reconciliation make up the meaning behind WARRIOR and the constructs of The Way Of The Warrior for a complete, thorough, and informative reference for struggling Christians. The Way Of The Warrior is especially recommended to dedicated students of the Christian faith, as well as being a documented and intriguing guide preparing readers for life's most difficult barriers to the active Christian lifestyle.

Word Pictures Of The New Testament: The Gospel According To Luke
A. T. Robertson
Kregel Publications
PO Box 2607, Grand Rapids, MI 49501
0825436419 $24.99

The second volume of "Word Pictures Of The New Testament" series, The Gospel According To Luke by the late New Testament Greek scholar A.T. Robertson (1836-1934) and newly revised with updated information by Wesley J. Perschbacher (D.Min., M.A., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) offers impressive insights into the classical study of the New Testament gospel attributed to Luke, a first century greek physician and Christian. Offering readers an easy-to-follow guide through the wisdom of the original greek text, Word Pictures Of The New Testament: The Gospel According To Luke provides an intricate and knowledgeable study of Christian fundamentals and is a notable, "reader friendly" but scholarly reference for the ideas and ideals of this ancient scripture. Word Pictures Of The New Testament: The Gospel According To Luke is very highly recommended for all students, pastors, teachers, and lay readers of the Gospel of Luke for its all-inclusive and complete wisdom in both translation and theological study.

Developing Strong Black Male Ministries
Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu
African American Images
1909 West 95th Street, Chicago, IL 60643
0974900095 $14.95 1-773-445-0322

Developing Strong Black Male Ministries by Jawanza Kunjufu (Educational consultant with African American Images) is an informed introduction to the difficulties faced as an African American seeking wealth in the Christian ministry and spiritual plane. Guiding readers through a deftly understood comprehension of the African American culture in spiritual strength, and activism in Christian church, Developing Strong Black Male Ministries presents readers with questions such as that of Does rap have a greater influence on Black male youth than the church?; What are some effective Black male ministries?; and How do we develop Black men to be consistent? Developing Strong Black Male Ministries is very strongly recommended particularly for all African American males searching for a knowledgeable resolution for their spiritual and religious questions, and an informed reference for tactfully presenting the Christian church to loved ones and peers within the African American community.

Strauss' Life Of Jesus
George Eliot
Gloger Family Books
2020 NW Northrup Street, Suite 311, Portland, OR 97209 1-503-452-4541
Volume 1: 1878632531 $20.00
Volume 2: 1878632582 $11.00
Volume 3: 1878632523 $13.00

Just over a century ago the name of Christian theologian and Lutheran Pastor, the Rev. Dr. David Friedrich Strauss, was prominent in Christian studies. Today he is known only to scholars. Now this three volume work, Strauss' Life Of Jesus, as translated into English by George Eliot, is once again available to both academia and the non-specialist general reader in a new, enlarged, inexpensive, "reader friendly", illustrated edition and represents the most complete account of alleged Gospel inconsistencies every written. The three part trilogy of Strauss' Life Of Jesus offers students of the New Testament a remarkably insightful and concise perception of the life and teachings of Christ revealed in varying and sometimes contradictory gospel narratives. A 19th century classic study photomechanically reproduced and now available for New Testament Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists, Strauss' Life Of Jesus is very highly recommended as a read which is especially informed and informative, a welcomed work of original and seminal scholarship that has stood the test of time.

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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