Return to home
page Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Home / MBR Bookwatch

MBR Bookwatch

Volume 6, Number 9 September 2007 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

Baby Haiku
Lily Wang
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, #100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595376872, $9.95

Upwards of 80% of all new mothers experience some degree of postpartum depression. By taking a few moments to read through the 52, three line formatted, haiku poems comprising Lilly Wang's very highly recommended "Baby Haiku" poetry collection, any new mother experiencing the 'baby blues' can find comfort and therapeutic reflection. The poetry is thoroughly 'reader friendly', contemporary, and focused upon having a new baby, celebrating the bonding of a mother to her child, and applying an Asian style wisdom to a commonly encountered and contemporary experience. #28 Pray for one more grace/To share his kindred soul--/A pink blossom, it's a girl.

New Poetry
Elizabeth Dandy
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, 18th floor, New York, NY 10016
0533154650, $11.95 1-212-736-1767

The poetry comprising this latest volume of lyric verse by Elizabeth Dandy is by turns spiritual, political, religious, sarcastic, funny, and thoughtful. Of special note is a Elizabeth's 'Zodiacal Cycle' in which her poetry addresses the moods, personalities, and potentialities of those who fall under each respective astrological sign. Thoughtful and thought provoking, at times inspired and inspiring, a complete delight from beginning to end, "New Poetry" will prove to be a popular addition to any personal or community library poetry collection. 'The Gift of Time': I have a precious gift for you my dear,/The rarest and most precious gift I have,/You cannot touch it, darling, but don't fear,/The offering is made with all my love./Love is prepared for sacrifice we heard,/It will endure and thrive in any clime,/It gives for naught at all, free as a bird,/Is even willing to trounce verse and rhyme./It's hard to find so very rare it is,/A valuable, costly precious boon,/It may surpass a man's capacities,/Is irrecoverable like a finished tune,/This offering so wondrous and sublime/I offer to your dearest one -- my TIME.

Just Do You!
Sharise L. Jones
Xulon Press
380 Crown Oak Center Drive, Longwood, FL 32750
9781602662155, $9.99

Minister Sharise Lynn Jones presents Just Do You!: A Raw Look Into Sisterhood, Womanhood and Relationships, a no-nonsense tell-all written by an African-American Christian woman, for Christian women everywhere. Chapters deliver Jones' straight talk on power, sex, materialism, prestige, and proverbial dream of a home, a family, and a white picket fence. Jones' speaks with motivation, enthusiasm, and abiding faith in God's plan in this uplifting guide confronting the challenges of a woman's life. "If God says you are a schoolteacher but you've dropped out of school, guess what? It's not too late to go back and get that degree because you're a schoolteacher! God will make a way for you to assume your rightful position." Highly recommended.

L. Diane Wolfe
1663 Liberty Drive Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781425991272, $17.49 1-800-839-8640

Diane Wolfe is a gifted writer who leaves her appreciative readers looking eagerly toward her next novel. The fourth title in Diane's 'Circle of Friends' series, "Mike" is the story of a young man who is an academic and athletic achiever at Georgia tech. Facing the seductive temptations and peer pressure of college life, Mike is conflicted about maintaining his pretense of abiding by his family's high moral standards. Mike harbors feelings of guilt because of the intense affection he feels for his roommate's wife and the aftermath of a former girlfriend's abortion. But when Danielle enters his life, Mike feels he can no longer suppress his past. "Mike" is a superbly crafted story of young adult angst, as well as a thoroughly entertaining read. Also very highly recommended are the three early volumes in this outstanding series: "Lori"; "Sarah"; and "James".

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

Sojourn on Eternity's Edge
Scott Arminas
Airleaf Publishing
35 Industrial Drive, Martinsville, IN 46151
9781594535642, $18.95 1-800-342-6068

Award winning poet Scott Arminas presents Sojourn on Eternity's Edge, an anthology of brief poems and prose passages, embodying Christian as well as secular reflections, sentiments, and love. The simple free verse is expressive and flows naturally within each page-encapsulated thought. Highly recommended. "It's Ironic": Sometimes life seems un-livable / Depending where in life you are. / Most of us are desperately seeking / A radiant shining star. // So many people / So many problems / So many ways by which to see / The whole of mankind trading reality / for virtual reality. // It's ironic some may say / That there is no good in our present day / But when evil confronts these very same people / They often look the other way.

Up the Notched-Log Ladder
Sydwell Mouw Flynn
Airleaf Publishing
35 Industrial Drive, Martinsville, IN 46151
9781418471057, $18.95 1-800-342-6068

Up the Notched-Log Ladder: Arthur and Edna Among the Dayaks of Borneo is a blend of memoir and primary source testimony of one missionary family's experience deep in the jungles of Borneo, and their life among the Dayaks, the indigenous people of Borneo, from 1933 to 1950. Up the Notched-Log Ladder follows Arthur and Edna's odyssey forging an emotional and mutually respectful relationship with the Dayak people, their abiding faith in God, and their narrow escape from Borneo amid the rage of World War II. Up the Notched-Log Ladder reveals how the Dayaks learned to embrace their new faith, pray, sing, build churches, and support their own pastors by tithing a portion of their resources (rice, eggs, vegetables, and chickens). An absorbing firsthand tale of missionary life and adapting to a different culture, rounded out by the author's tale of returning to visit the Dayaks almost half a century later, to be joyfully and faithfully welcomed.

New Evidence for Two Human Origins
Gary T. Mayer
1663 Liberty Drive Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781425973223, $22.00

Bible-faithful Christian and retired professional engineer Gary T. Mayer presents New Evidence for Two Human Origins: Discoveries That Reconcile The Bible and Science, an exploration of the mysteries surrounding humanity's origin that dares to search for harmony between the Bible and science. Questioning the all-too-common assumption that the whole of the human race evolved from a single nucleus, New Evidence for Two Human Origins draws upon recent evidence suggesting that Adam and Eve's descendants could have married into a pre-existing race. If so, when and where did these two races merge? Both scientific research and scriptural quotations abound in this revolutionary theory.

Spiritual Journey
I. Walter Tunick Ed.D.
Trafford Publishing
2333 Government Street, Suite 6E, Victoria, BC, Canada, V8T 4P4
9781425101343, $24.95 1-888-232-4444

Spiritual Journey: The Bahai Faith is an introduction to the history, principles, and message of the Bahai faith, the current major independent world religion, second only to Christianity in its geographical spread. Written to be appropriate for use in senior high school, college, and adult education courses as well as for self-study, whether as part of a scholarly curriculum, personal curiosity, or genuine interest in converting to the Bahai faith, Spiritual Journey covers Bahai's connections to earlier religions of Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Islam, the life and teachings of the prophet Bahaullah, fundamentals and basic tenets of Bahai (including equality of men and women, the right of universal education, and more) and the Bahai perspective of God's plan, Spiritual Journey is an invaluable reference. Each chapter features a review section and recommended discussion questions as aids to study and comprehension, in this highly accessible resource.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

C. D. Williams
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
1425916406, $15.99

Ruthless Islamic terrorists, hapless missionary hostages, a millionaire's daughter, seasoned mercenaries, and lethal Borneo pirates are all key elements in "Palawan", a riveting action/adventure novel by C. D. Williams. An exceptionally engaging read from beginning to end, "Palawan" is a deftly written story of friendship, courage, life, death, love, and a struggle for survival that begins in the Philippine jungle, continues to unfold in the lights and glitter of Las Vegas, and ultimately reaches its unpredictable resolution in the high desert country of Arizona. Very strongly recommended for community library collections and personal reading lists for those who appreciate compelling action/adventure fiction, "Palawan" is the debut novel of C. D. Williams and will have the reader looking eagerly toward his next title.

China Star
Maurice Medland, Inc.
PO Box 2399, Bangor, ME 04402-2399
9781601451682, $16.95

U.S. Navy Veteran Maurice Medland presents China Star, a thrilling novel of international intrigue and power struggles. When Elizabeth Grayson, the half-Chinese daughter of a U.S. senator, learns that she has unknowingly aided the construction of a horrific new weapons system while doing medical research in China, she is sent to a forced labor camp to compel her silence. Matt Connor, an ex-submarine officer in disgrace, has been hired by Elizabeth's wealthy father to rescue her. Elizabeth and Matt have diametrically opposed personal philosophies, but they must work together in a ruthless game of survival. A tense and riveting adventure from cover to cover.

The Debt Collector
James Scott Delane
Wings ePress Inc.
403 Wallace Court, Richmond, KY 40475
9781597058568, $15.00

The Debt Collector is a fantastic novel of love and discovery. A beautiful, immortal woman strikes a bargain with a dying king: in exchange for giving him life, he consents to travel the land and collect her debts. Applying himself to the task, he learns more about the magical world in which they both live - even as she gradually learns to open her heart. An enchanting adventure, sure to enthrall the reader to the very last page.

A Thousand Points of Darkness
Adam Cole
Xlibris Corporation
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113
9781425756758, $20.99

Music educator Adam Cole presents A Thousand Points of Darkness, a novel set in a dystopic version of America - a nation where the government has officially become the Corporate United States of America, driven entirely by and solely for profit. Commercials are the only form of entertainment; drugs are a sanctioned form of worship; Spanish is the predominant language; and anyone without a job is seen as an obstacle to society itself. When Rosa's mother loses her job, her family must make the perilous trek across the Unincorporated States to reach Washington DC and pursue a new life. Yet the trail from Atlanta is hostile, populated by isolated White communities who have disconnected themselves from the urban metropolises, ready to shed blood to preserve their sovereignty. Others join Rosa and her mother on their journey: a Chinese family fallen on hard times, a musician who values his guitar too highly to play it; and an odd drug-worshipper. An absorbing human struggle against the backdrop of a society consumed by its worst vices.

Able Greenspan

Klausner's Bookshelf

Obsession, Deceit and Really Dark Chocolate
Kyra Davis
Red Dress Ink
9780373895533 $13.95

San Francisco mystery writer Sophie Katz's former college advisor Melanie O'Reilly asks her to do a favor. She wants to know who killed her husband Eugene, a former FBI agent, in a drive by shooting.

Sophie enlists the help of Russian expatriate private investigator her former lover Anatoly Darinsky and plenty of caffeine. They investigate starting with Eugene's last job, a staff researcher for republican congressional candidate Flynn Fitzgerald in his race against democrat Anne Brooke. As they dig deeper, they learn one of the candidates has a furry bestiality fetish of wearing animal costumes and making it with stuffed toys. As Sophie is stalked by an unknown adversary, she wonders if Eugene uncovered the dark truth, which if revealed would doom the congressional run and might be the motive for a deliberate drive by shooting.

Sophie's third zany whodunit (see PASSION, BETRAYAL AND KILLER HIGHLIGHTS and SEX, MURDER AND A DOUBLE LATTE) is an entertaining madcap San Francisco romp. The heroine lands in one predicament after another as she follows the clues while someone follows her. Readers who enjoy a chick lit private investigative thriller starring a person who proves there really is a warm San Franciscan night will want to read Katz's capers as the mystery is fun and the satirical social commentary superb though even though the sleuth's supporters would agree she needs to be on decaf.

Wednesday Night Witches
Lee Nichols
Red Dress Ink
9780373895540 $13.95

After riding the subway, kindergarten teacher Eve Crenshaw has a hard time with her superior at the Open House and then with her boyfriend Gregory who insists her work is a glorified camp counselor. Having enough hits in one day, she immediately leaves New York City to spend time with her former college roommate Natasha Kent on Broome Isle off the Maine coast.

While Eve moans over the loss of Gregory and more critical Starbucks, artist Natasha feels life is passing her by, but is unsure why she cares. Nat's friend Kim Gray mourns the death of her baby that also led to the demise of her marriage. This trio drinks together and jokingly dub themselves the WEDNESDAY NIGHT WITCHES. However, during a stormy evening they find a bottle of liquor in Kim's cellar that enables them to make wishes. As the threesome find life improving with the granting of each wish, the rest of the islanders feel they are spiraling into hell as everything goes wrong. Soon the WEDNESDAY NIGHT WITCHES will realize what they have brought forth that they must fix in order to save Broome Isle.

This is an amusing paranormal romance as the three witches learn key lessons about life that for every positive action, there is a negative reaction, and the sum of friendships is stronger than the individual friends. The humorous story line twists and spins as wishes are made and granted until the witches especially Eve realizes they do not know jack about what they are doing. Lee Nichols provides a fun lighthearted romantic fantasy.

Ashes To Ashes
Jennifer Armintrout
Mira Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778324942 $6.99

When the evil Cyrus turned Dr. Carrie Ames into a vampire, her only concern was her next bloody meal; she eventually killed her vampiric sire, but was adopted by vampire Nathan Grant (see THE TURNING). However when Nathan becomes possessed and kills humans, Carrie sets out to save his soul. In her efforts to do so, Carrie finds Cyrus alive but human. She allows Cyrus's beloved to die and awakens the most ancient vampire known, the Oracle (see THE POSSESSION).

Whereas Nathan runs away in horror now that he knows what evil he did when possessed, Carrie learns that the Oracle has destroyed the headquarters of the Voluntary Vampire Extinction Movement located in France. She fears that the Oracle will team up with Cyrus's demented father, the Soul Eater to change the world into a demonic heaven. Although still a vampiric neophyte holding her nose while drinking blood, Carrie believes she must save the world with her only card being Cyrus, who loathes her for allowing vampires to kill his beloved.

ASHES TO ASHES continues the heroic escapades of Carrie as she struggles to save the world. The story line is fast-paced, but to better understand the interrelationships, newcomers need to read the first two Blood Ties books. Carrie is ironic, wry, and fatalistic as she gives a first person account of deadly events including the blood and gore that seems to engulf her as she battles a centuries old vampiress, a near deity, and a dead vampire returned from the grave human; all she wants is to share bites with Nathan who may have gone off the deep end with the guilt of those innocents he killed when possessed.

Jasmine Creswell
9780778324676 $6.99

Multimillionaire Ron Raven vanishes without a trace leaving his loved ones worried about foul play. However, his incredible deception surfaces as he has two wives and children with both. Apparently for twenty-five years the businessman using the pretext of job related travel to raise two families; one in Wyoming the other in Georgia.

Before Ron went MISSING, he borrowed three million dollars from the Fairfax Bank in Georgia using his Wyoming Flying W Ranch as collateral and a plan to use the money to convert the property into a vacation center. With her mother already mentally shattered by his duplicity, her daughter Megan Raven fears losing the family ranch will destroy her. She travels to Georgia to meet with bank manager Adam Fairfax, the younger brother of Ron's other wife Avery, to discuss the situation. Adam feels like a dupe for lending the money to his brother-in-law and will do what it takes to collect it even if it means foreclosing the other wife's ranch. However, Megan persuades him to join her and follow Ron's money trail that leads the pair to earn plenty of frequent flyer hours as they head to Mexico and Belize where the avaricious web of deception is even more complex than the DNA helix.

This exciting opening act (SUSPECT and PAYBACK are coming in October and November) will grip the audience from the moment we are introduced to Ron Raven's two stunned families. The shocked Ravens and Fairfaxs make the tale as each member struggles with accepting the unimaginable truth that Ron is a bigamist turned embezzler. Fans will enjoy this fast-paced thriller as things are not quite like they seem with family twists that lead the duo back and forth between Georgia and Wyoming with stops in Mexico and Belize.

The Reincarnationist
M.J. Rose
9780778324201 $24.95

In modern day Rome, a terrorist bomb explodes near photographer Josh Ryder, but he fortunately survives the attack. However, his reaction shakes him to the core of soul. He has visions of a pagan priest Julius willing to die to protect the holy statues of his gods as well as keeping his virginal lover safe against the sanctimonious Roman emperor's directed implementation by the sword of Christianity in AD 391.

Six months later, the Phoenix Foundation leads a mission to study pagan memory stones found in a tomb that allegedly can cause past life regression incidents; if true this will affirm the reincarnation theory and cause doubts re the major three religions. Josh who wonders if he was once Julius has joined the expedition. However, the Foundation is not the only group interested in the stones as others are willing to kill to take these artifacts away.

THE REINCARNATIONIST is an enjoyable Da Vinci code derivative that is refreshed by the premise of past lives being the theme that could destroy the Jewish-Christian concept of the heavenly afterlife. Josh is a fascinating protagonist as he ponders whether he was once Julius and hopes the stones can do what they allegedly are said to be able to perform so that he learns the truth. M.J. Rose provides a strong thriller that will please her fans and those who enjoy a brisk invigorating Brownian like story line.

A Wrongful Death
Kate Wilhelm
9780778324911 $24.95

When her boyfriend proposes, DA Barbara Holloway wants to put him off as she is not ready to get married at least at this time. Thus she flees to a remote cabin to have some time to herself. While walking the beach, a young boy asks Barbara to help his nearby injured mother. He takes her to his mom, who lies unconscious from a severe beating. Barbara runs off to get help, but by the time she returns the two have vanished.

She learns the missing pair is Elizabeth and Jason Kurtz; whose prominent family accuses her of abetting kidnappers. However, Barbara knows something is not right with the scenario so with the help of her father they search for the Kurtz duo. They succeed and Elizabeth agrees to meet with her. Heading to Eugene, Oregon, Barbara realizes that Elizabeth is fleeing her affluent influential former husband and his family whose illegal activities if surfaced, would destroy a billion-dollar business deal. Barbara finds Elizabeth dead, Jason is missing, the Eugene police suspect her of kidnapping and murder, and the Kurtz family wanting her silenced.

In a delightful SLEIGHT OF HAND), Kate Wilhelm takes her heroine out of the courtroom and into a therapist's office; thus providing a fresh fast-paced mystery filled with twists, red herrings, and plenty of excitement. Dedicated as ever even though this is a cove and not a court, Barbara learns the hard way how dangerous it is to be a Good Samaritan as the action-packed tale takes off from the moment that Jason tells Barbara his mother is hurt and never slows down until the DA seeks help. Fans will appreciate Holloway's latest adventures though not a legal thriller like the previous novels in this series,

74 Seaside Avenue
Debbie Macomber
9780778324850 $7.99

In Cedar Cove, Washington, international chess grandmaster champion Bobby Polgar takes the threats seriously. He drops out of a tournament in which he is one of the favorites for fear that someone will kill his "queen", his beloved wife Teri if he plays. Teri knows something is not right as she feels she is the queen Bobby is protecting but from what, who and why remain unknown to her. At the same time that Bobby hovers all over his spouse, her sister Christie seems to want nothing to do with her.

Meanwhile other townsfolk struggle with issues. Widower Sheriff Troy Davis feels his heart ripping apart as he believes he must choose between his daughter's needs and an attraction. Her heart broken; Linnette McAfee leaves Cedar Cove; while Rachel has become involved in a romantic triangle.

Fans of this Puget Sound small town series will enjoy the latest entry as the locals face personal crisis with the chess king being checkmated as the prime theme. Newcomers will have no major adjustment to the goings-on as this and its six street predecessors stand alone while telling the continue tales of Cedar Cove.

Hunting The Demon
Jaci Burton
Dell Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780440243366 $6.99 1-800-726-0600

Realm of Light demon hunter Shay Pearson is assigned to take out demon Nic Diavolo. Her plan is to seduce the hunk until she has him caught in her lure so that she can bring him to his brother. On the other hand Nic is attracted to Shay so he plans to seduce her.

However, Nic has some issues to deal with that he does not understand because he is unaware, unlike his sibling (see SURVIVING DEMON ISLAND) that his father was a demon, making him a half breed. When he comes under attack, Shay stays at his side helping him survive as she knows he is special to her. However, when she tells him the truth and what he believed about his family is a lie, he rejects her fantasy though he wonders what is happening to him.

The sequel to the exhilarating campy SURVIVING DEMON ISLAND, HUNTING THE DEMON is as much fun as its paranormal predecessor. The story line is fast-paced and just over the top in zaniness so that readers will enjoy the latest battle in the war against the demons. Nic and Shay are a superb pairing as the heroine knows that a deadly foe is coming for the half demon; she is confident against the adversary but unsure of how to deal with her new "partner". Fans of wild comic book like paranormal romantic suspense tales will enjoy this engaging encounter in which Shay's "demons" from her past stand in the way of love as much as the enemy does.

Slacker Girl
Alexandra Koslow
c/o Penguin Group, USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780452288379 $13.00 1-800-847-5515

Everyone knows that to enjoy life in New York City, one needs plenty of money and 24/7 leisure time; at least that is the gospel according to Jane Cooper. She works (loosely defined as being paid for doing nothing but daydream) as a junior relationship manager at Leetsmann & Stone, an investment firm. Her job entails using business cards as coasters and carrying a griefcase to look professional when she schmooze clients at galas.

Her specialty is sitting at a Manhattan cafe eating and daydreaming. Jane has a tendency to arrive late for work and leave early. She insures she will not be fired by bribing the office receptionist with muffins to keep her arrival time silent and flirting with her boss Ray. When she chooses vacationing in Palm Beach with her best friend Rebecka, she expects the firm to fire this SLACKER GIRL. However, when she returns Ray, who is attracted to her, but refuses to act on it, saves her job. She insists he is just a kind boss, but in her gut she knows she wants him too; as she learns she has placed the firm and some nice people in jeopardy of becoming unemployed because she failed to do her job with a key client.

The first half of SLACKER GIRL is a delightful amusing chick lit tale that pays homage to all the underachievers who have no ambition to do more than the minimum. However when Jane becomes motivated to become an un-slacker, the story line converts back to the sub-genre norm. Still Jane's reflection on work as a twenty-first century follower of Maynard G Krebs' theory is humorous. She lampoons the American lifestyle of work, work, and work until you drop until she sees the consequences of her actions, which in turn loses the uniqueness of this fun tale.

Left Bank
Kate Muir
c/o Penguin Group, USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780452288409 $14.00 1-800-847-5515

In Paris Olivier Malin is old generation French with a family motto; he is the author of Chechnya: Beyond Philosophy and renowned for his love of cheese, wine, and slender tall women. His wife Madison is a product of Hollywood via the Lone Star States; her family proves you can take the Texan out of Texas, but can't take Texas out of the Texan. Residents of the Left Bank consider Olivier and Madison as the perfect couple and with their perfect daughter seven-year-old daughter Sabine make up the perfect family.

The biggest issue facing Olivier is the cheese right; for Madison is age as the camera makes her look old performing in the nude. However, that changes when Sabine vanishes at a theme park. As her parents panic while searching for Sabine, concierge, friends, family, well wishers and servants tear the couple apart with their specialized compassion including a few providing physical passion. Sabine seems increasingly more like a lost trophy than a missing child.

This is a terrific satire of French and American family values as the rescue of Sabine seems insignificant to her parents once the retinue shows up. The story line fries French and Texas frontier pretenses in which the image is everything and Botox is god. Kate Muir uses the mixed cultural couple to lampoon the dysfunctional historical and modern relationship between America and France symbolized by the Statue of Liberty as much as by Congressional name changing to frontier fries.

Robin Parrish
Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55438
9780764201783 $19.99 1-800-328-6109

The world teeters on the brink of extinction under the RELENTLESS surge of natural disasters; obviously people are terrified as no respite happens between tragedies. The only hope is Grant "Guardian" Burrows who leads a group of Loci Ringwearers trying to save humanity. These Shifted Loci were once people for instance Grant was Collin Boyd, but now has a new body with extraordinary mental prowess. The Secretum of Six believes he is The Bringer who ancient prophecy claims will bring in a new age to the world.

Grant and his Loci pack do not hesitate to use their powers for the better good of humanity. However, as the Secretum of Six continue to watch the events unfold towards the coming of The Bringer bringing the new age with him, Grant realizes he and his team are not achieving much though the populace cherishes them as superheroes. He starts an odyssey to learn the truth whether he is the Bringer, but that means seeking his past as Collin and who knows what else he will find even before that persona. Thus he is pulled in two directions: saving what he can of the world now vs. saving what is left of the world assuming he understands and can make the Bringer prophecy happen. Either way people will die in biblical numbers

Whereas RELENTLESS set the stage with the series of disasters and the initial introduction to the Collin/Grant tyro superhero, FEARLESS goes deeper into his essence and his predicament as he gains superhero experience and begins to understand his limitations. Thus the audience sees Grant and his colleagues struggle with the demands and their limited ability to supply solutions. This action-packed suspense fantasy also goes deeper inside the mysterious Secretrium and provides more information re the Bringer Prophesy. Readers will enjoy the middle book while waiting the conclusion to learn whether it is end of the world, beginning of a new age, or status quo of pandemic disasters.

One Little Secret
Allison Bottke
Bethany House
9780764200588 $12.99

Nik Prevel is a rising superstar in the world of rock music; ambitious he will do anything to further his ascent. However he is irate when Bruce Springsteen takes the Grammy for song of the year that he felt he earned.

Housewife Ursula Rhodes loves music, but gave up her dreams and chances to make it to further her husband Don's legal career and raise their two children (Valerie and Victor); she enjoys teaching people especially her talented son Victor. Valerie obtains an internship with Youth with a Mission and will shortly go to Australia for a month; Victor is heading to Berkley for a Masters of Music Theory.

When Nik and Ursula meet, he offers her a rare opportunity to perform with him on his next CD. She wants to, but fears what it will do to her beloved family even as her kids are soaring away from her and she faces an empty nest. So she takes the "summer job", but worries how will Don react.

ONE LITTLE SECRET is a simple family drama with several powerful complex messages. Ursula is a terrific unselfish person trying to do what is best for her family at the cost of her dreams. Yet with one encounter she realizes she can try to achieve her dream if she takes the chance of becoming a suburban Cinderella; although she has her doubts that midnight would come too soon with Don's reactions and her own fear she is too old. Fans will appreciate this fine character driven tale even when a Grammy makes choices easier.

My Soul to Keep
Davis Bunn
Bethany House
9780764204357 $13.99

Oscar winner Brent Stark assumes his career is over due to his drug addiction and subsequent arrest and conviction. However, instead of feeling sorry for himself, he turns to God. Upon his release, Nashville business mogul Bobby Dupree hires him to direct a Daniel Boone biography on a shoestring that turns the frontiersman back into the legend by ignoring any of his faults or misdeeds.

Personal assistant Shari Khan will do anything to reach Hollywood's top echelon. When she learns of Brent's film, she persuades her major company to produce a totally different version that makes Boone into a monster who mistreated Native Americans and abandoned his family for lengthy elbow room escapes.

This High Noon film war between an international Hollywood giant and a regional Tennessee gnat is very entertaining even with stereotyping both sides of the conflict. Hollywood is selfish while pretending to support moderate values to sell tickets; Tennessee is altruistic while supporting Christian values while believing the message will sell tickets. Davis Bunn fans even liberal democrats will root for Brent, who has found the ultimate miracles when he turned to the Lord for salvation.

Jupiter's Shadow
David N. Drury
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
9781594146077 $25.95 1-800-223-1244

On the Jupiter Station of the Conglomerated Mining and Manufacturing Company private detective Michael Flynn and his wife Wendy Chadwick head of the legal department are content with their respective jobs. Flynn is hired by Francine Cross to find out if her husband is cheating on her. The case turns deadly when Leron's body is found dead; the victim of a homicide.

Before Leron was murdered there was another homicide at the station but it takes a while for Company Security to find out who the deceased is as his DNA is not in the database of company security chief Silvanus Drake. Flynn's wife hires him to find out who killed the unidentified victim and Drake puts Flynn on a yearly retainer so if that something happens to him, Michael will take over his job. Drake and Flynn believe the murders have to with the weapon that was placed in the station a decade ago that was neutralized by Drake and that the person who put it there is coming to blow up the station. Flynn and Drake hope to catch that person soonest because they don't know if there are anymore weapons like that on the station.

Taking place only four decades in the future, readers get a glimpse of what it could be like living on a space station with 24,000 people. It is a small city with its own culture and laws (reminds me of a place called Co-Op City in the Bronx). The hero is a man who succeeds at what he is trying to do. Readers will enjoy the characterizations, the action that is plentiful, and the locale.

The Burning Glass
Lillian Stewart Carl
Five Star
9781594145919 $25.95

Great Scot magazine sends American expatriate reporter Jean Fairbairn to do a story on ancient haunted Ferniebank Castle before the renovation to change it into a modern day conference center and spa occurs. However, to Jean the excitement is not in the story; instead she knows that former police officer Alasdair Cameron works security at the crumbling castle. They plan a fortnight of loving decadence amidst the ruins even though the legend of the place is that Isabel Sinclair, who allegedly died four centuries ago on the way to a tryst in a fire caused by her burning glass, still haunts the place

However, instead of privacy as they expected, others have plans for the castle's artifacts. Soon item go missing like Isabel's harp that played for Queen Mary and three killings follow. As the local cops bungle the case while telling Alasdair to butt out, he conducts his own serendipitous inquiry; at the same time, Jean tries to stay out of the homicide investigation after her previous experiences (see THE MURDER HOLE and THE SECRET PORTRAIT) and avoid myth-babbling renovator and da Vinci Code dreamer Ciara Macquarrie, who intimately knows Alasdair, finds herself caught in the killer's web.

Though the local dialect can become intrusive almost as much as authentic, this is a terrific Fairburn-Alasdair whodunit with whimsical hints of the paranormal adding to the fun. The story line is fast-paced as the ex cop dives into the mystery while the journalist wonders what happened to two weeks of romance. With a strong investigative plot, readers will enjoy this fine entry in what is an entertaining series.

Harsh Pink
Melody Carlson
Th1nk (NavPress)
PO Box 35001, Colorado Springs, CO 80935
9781576839522 $12.99 1-800-366-7788

Upon moving from Boston to Colorado Springs so she and her workaholic mom can take care of her Alzheimer's inflicted grandma, Reagan Mercer hopes to fit in at Belmont High School, which she will attend. To do so she believes her best chance is to hopefully make the varsity cheerleading squad, which she does. However, her success means popular Kendra Farnsworth failed to make the team. Kendra warns Reagan that she will regret taking her spot.

Reagan makes friends with cheerleading peer Jocelyn Matthews while also trying to make the social scene. Surprisingly Kendra and her minion accept her as one of them so Reagan ignores her first Colorado friend geek Andrea Lynch. However, the newcomer will soon learn the cost of becoming part of the in-crowd as an alcoholic binge causes a near tragedy.

The TrueColors teen series final tale is an insightful entry that focuses on the cost of giving up one's values to join the inner popularity circle. Reagan is a terrific protagonist while the other key high school students are fully developed whether they are the in keepers of malice, a cheerleader, or a geek. Still this is Reagan's lesson learned that everyone wants to be belong, but people must consider whether the price is worth paying.

Bottom Line
Kimberly Stuart
9781600060779 $12.99

Having for the most part been a stay at home mom since her beloved Nora was born, Heidi Elliott knows that her diaper friends from the Mom's Group saved her insanity even when they compared wipe up duty (see BALANCING ACT, not reviewed by me). Life is good as far as Heidi is concerned as her precocious Nora turns four. Heidi and Jake still love one another believing they were fortunate to have found their soulmate. However, babies are expensive and Jake worries about finances while Heidi feels a need to return to the paid working class yet hopefully work mostly from their home.

Heidi meets enthusiastic affluent and flashy Kylie Zimmerman, who persuades her into joining Solomon's Closet, whose product line is lingerie ranging from sexy to practical for Christians. However, although the money is great and she seems to have the aptitude to succeed, Heidi has doubts about selling Christian lingerie.

The second Heidi Elliot supermom "failure" (in her mind only) is a delightful continuation of the saga of a stay at home mom's balancing act between the increasing demands of her still smelly offspring and her own needs to do something else besides being the mommy. Heidi is terrific as she holds the tale together while seeking means to bring in income and ranting against "perfect" Christians demanding absolute obedience to the scriptures while never changing a diaper; makes a reader wonder how the Jews kept the babies clean while wandering the desert for forty years.

The Reluctant Journey of David Connors
Don Locke
9781600061523 $12.99

David and his wife Kathy are separated due to his inability to relate to her or their child. He goes up to the building where he works and considers committing suicide. He spots an empty carpetbag but when a police officer is about to ticket him, he looks into it and finds what the police officer's significant other wanted. David let him have it and the cop forgets about the ticket.

He goes into a bar where he meets Maggie and David feels something inside the bag. He looks and takes out a pair of sunglasses. David realizes he is giving gifts targeted to specific people. Through the power of the bag, David and Maggie take a train to New York and begin a journey that will lead them to forgive themselves for their past mistakes and will win them their ultimate redemption.

Both Maggie and David are lost souls but through the divine power of the bag they travel a hard road that ultimately leads to their salvation. Readers will empathize and sympathize with both characters who are caught in their respective pasts and are unable to move on until he finds the bag. Don Locke is a great storyteller who entertains his audience while providing a lesson of living.

Deadly Ex
Harley Jane Kozak
Doubleday & Company
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780385518024 $21.95 1-800-726-0600

On December 26 someone lacked the Yuletide spirit when they shot and killed soap opera producer of the fittingly titled At the End of the Day David Zetrakis. Although she knows she should stay out of it, SoapDirt talk show reporter Wollie Shelley wonders who killed David, a man at the top of her Mr. Wrong date list; considering most of Southern California is on Wollie's list means David was dead wrong to be at the top.

LAPD and the media agree as rare as that seems, the former End of the Day actress Joey Rafferty is the prime suspect; like Wollie she dated David, who ended their turbulent relationship by firing her off his show several years ago. Shockingly she is named in his will as are others, but the priceless Klimt painting keeps her high on the suspect list. Wollie investigates to prove her pal's innocence but when Joey's husband dies in a surfing accident and she disappears, even Wollie begins to believe.

The third Wollie wacky adventure (see DATING IS MURDER and DATING DEAD MEN) combines a terrific amateur sleuth investigation with a deep insightful look at the world of soap operas and much more. The whodunit is intelligently designed so that the audience will agree with Wollie that there are plenty of suspects until the second death and the disappearance. Readers will enjoy this wonderful lighthearted romp starring a charming reformed serial dater.

Never Go Back
Robert Goddard
Delta Trade Paperbacks
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780385340632 $12.00 1-800-726-0600

In 2005 former RAF pilot Harry Barnett enjoys living in Vancouver, Canada with his wife and daughter. However, he returns to England for the funeral of his mother. Harry plans to stay as short a time as possible while closing out his late mom's affairs.

However, two veterans from his old military squad find Harry at his mother's house. They persuade him to attend a fiftieth anniversary gala of their National Security unit at Scotland's Kilveen Castle where they stayed back in 1955 for three months as part of a psychological experiment. However, the good time is shattered with a suicide followed by the death of another compatriot. What frightens Harry is each has different memories of what happened during their three month stay. Although in his late sixties and out of shape Harry and his as old and out of shape former business partner Barry Chipchase investigate what is no longer a party atmosphere.

The latest Harry Barnett tale is a great suspense thriller as the hero and his partner know they are too old and too out of shape to investigate, but do so anyway. Although this escapade is a stand alone, newcomers would enjoy reading the previous tales first and fans will want to refresh themselves with Harry as it has been a few years (see INTO THE BLUE and OUT OF THE SUN; Harry is in his fifties). Thus besides a fabulous thriller, Robert Goddard cleverly ages Harry in real time.

Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist's Wife
Irene Spencer
Center Street
c/o Hatchette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017-0010
9781599957197 $24.99 1-800-759-0190

Irene Spencer was raised in Short Creek, Arizona to adhere to the secretly applied but outlawed salvation "Principle" of some Mormon splinter fundamentalists. Thus in 1953 sixteen years old Irene, the daughter of a second wife, married her already married brother-in-law Verlan LeBaron. The teen became his second wife although her mother warned her that polygamy means poverty; but to Irene she learned all her life that salvation for women can only occur through marriage. Over the years as they fled to Mexico, Verlan had nine wives and fifty-six children; all living in abject poverty. After almost three decades of polygamy, Spencer has lived the last two decades in a monogamous relationship.

SHATTERED DREAMS will rip the guts of the reader as Irene Spencer's story is compelling and shocking. The audience will self reflect on their religious education seeking abuses as this memoir is heart wrenching and thought provoking.

The Electric Church
Jeff Somers
Orbit (Hatchette)
9780316021722 $12.99

Avery Cates is a professional hit man, but his latest kill in old Harlem angers him as his client's agent failed to provide key needed information. First the victim was probably a Systems Security Force (SSF) cop; second there was a child in the apartment. Avery knows the SSF elite Stormers and throwaway Crushers hunt for him for what he assumes is killing one of them, undercover Colonel Janet Hense. He also knows if they catch him the Stormers will set it up so that they can legally kill him in one of the illegal Old Manhattan dives or on the street fleeing.

Instead, the authorities want Avery to kill Dennis Squalor, the founder of the fastest growing religion the Electric Church. The government leaders know Squalor is a threat to their primogenitary power. He espouses the belief that an individual's life is too short to understand the universe as it takes eternity to do so. The faithful convert to invincible cyborgs with their brain inside; these Monks kill objectors. To get to Squalor he must get past protected by concentric circles of Monks, Avery needs a miracle; hell whatever he does he needs a miracle because he is caught between the Stormers and Crushers on one side, and the Monks on the other.

THE ELECTRIC CHURCH is an invigorating futuristic urban noir science fiction that grips the audience from the first fight in the East Side dive and never slows down as the antihero with ethics runs a gauntlet with the stake being his life. If he fails the authorities, they will kill him; if he goes after Squalor, they will convert him, which means they will kill him; if by some miracle he succeeds and kills Squalor, the authorities will kill him. Any way he sees it he sees his imminent death. Fans will want to walk on the wild side of Old New York as tour guide Jeff Somers provides a powerful thriller.

Brian Ruckley
Orbit (Hatchette)
9780316067690 $14.99

After the failure of the one race during the First Age, the Gods created five races when they rebuilt the world in the Second Age. Everyone prospered until the Huanin and Kyrinin attacked the brutal wolven Whreinin; the Gods are upset and concluding that their creation is flawed abandoned their children ending the Second Age in chaos and beginning the Third Age of the Godless World where after years of open hostilities, a truce exists between the High Thanes of the True Bloods though their direct report Thanes still somewhat fight.

However, in the Third Age, war explodes when irate High Thane Ragnor oc Gyre the Thane of Thanes of The Bloods of the Black Road, still outraged over the exile in 942 for heresy, sends his Gyre forces to conquer the lands of the Haig True Bloods south of the Vale of Stones. The war expands beyond Anlane as the Dargannan Haig Blood revolt against the Haig High Thane. All sides in the complex dispute believe they have a noble cause, but for most of the Godless World honor or not means simply their death. By 1102 the Godless World has become a hellhole with death everywhere. In this maelstrom on the southern side of the Veil of Stones Orisian nan Lannis-Haig begins an odyssey filled with bleak hope and plenty of blood.

This epic fantasy is grim with no magical last second heroics as Brian Ruckley paints quite a dark realm. The story line is fast-paced and filled with non stop action that traverses much of the Godless World. Yet the key to this excellent fantasy is the cast as the leaders of the various armies seem genuine in a Machiavellian way; for instance some see terrific personal profit in the war. Orisian and his accompanying warriors are not your typical heroes as they understand war is hell and act accordingly. Readers who enjoy a powerful enthralling thriller will appreciate Brian Ruckley's aptly named WINTERBIRTH.

The Devil's Right Hand
Lilith Saintcrow
9780316021425 $6.99

In the far distant future on Earth, the phenomena known as the Awakening brought into being a vast number of psionics and those with magical abilities that hid in the shadows before entered this new world. Dante Valentine has found her necromantic powers (the ability to raise the dead and ask them questions) that help her earn a living as a bounty hunter. When out on one of her assignments she meets Japhrimel a demon who is part of the Greater Flight, Lucifer's oldest son and his best assassin.

He gives up his place in hell for her becoming an A'nankhimel a fallen who has tied himself to Dante who he genetically changed into a half demon known as a hedaria. Lucifer calls Dante to him and Japhrimel accompanies her. They make a deal that they will hunt down four greater demons who escaped to earth in exchange for Japhrimel getting his demonic powers back in full. Dante is now under Lucifer's protection for eternity and full control of the Hellessvront, people places, objects, and money that Lucifer has available on Earth. When Dante finds out whom one of the demons she is to hunt is she wants to back out of the deal but nobody reneges on an agreement with Lucifer and lives to tell the tale.

The story line is fast-paced but devilishly driven by the Faustian deal. Dante is strong and independent but she is also using magic and afraid that good things and people in her life, like Japhrimel will be destroyed. Readers can actually see her struggling to accept Japhrimel's love for her. It is a torturous process with so many doubts when she feels insecure that the audience will think Japhrimel is a saintly demon for putting up with her. Lilith Saintcrow is one awesome fantasy writer.

The Innocent Mage
Karen Miller
9780316067805 $6.99

The youngest son of a fisherman twenty years old Asher dreams of being much more than someone without a room of his own. Asher does not look down at his father's vocation that has provided him with food and shelter; he just thinks he can make a fortune so he can buy his own fishing fleet if he takes the risk of sneaking away from home and traveling to Dorana, the capital of the Kingdom of Lur.

However, he arrives at a time of unrest as the native Olken populace object to the strict rule of the warrior mages who control the use of magic by executing anyone without their permission who yields it. Asher finds work, but is unaware that the preservers of the ancient magic, the Circle have been expecting him having seen him in a vision. He may have come to earn the money to purchase a fleet, but the first stage of an ancient prophecy has begun with his appearance; for the Circle believes he is THE INNOCENT MAGE who will turn the order of centuries upside down.

The story line is fast-paced yet filled with twists that will keep the readers' attention throughout, wondering what comes next. The worldbuilding (mostly inside the capital) is cleverly developed by the actions and reactions of the reluctant hero who is awed by the thriving market place, Prince Gar and his retinue and the Circle (especially enjoyed the "deference" by Dathne and Matt to "him" being here). Thus, the first entry of the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series is driven by the changing relationships between the strong prime characters. Epic fantasy fans will appreciate this deep opening saga and look forward to the conclusion, THE AWAKENED MAGE.

Interred with Their Bones
Jennifer Lee Carrell
c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10014-3657
9780525949701 $25.95 1-800-847-5515

In 2004 at London's renovated Globe Theater Katharine Stanley directs a production of Hamlet. Attending is her friend Harvard Shakespearean Professor Rosalind Howard who gives Katharine a small gold-wrapped box before the production.

That same evening, a fire breaks out at the Globe; soon after it is put out, Roz is found dead in the same way that Hamlet's father was killed. Kate is stunned by her friend's death and the fire, but is over the edge with the gift, a Victorian mourning brooch decorated with flowers mindful of Ophelia. Needing to know the truth, Kate investigates traveling on a trek across the Atlantic in which a killer accompanies her murdering potential witnesses and attempting to add Kate to the list.

INTERRED WITH BONES is one of the best thrillers of the year as the plausible twists keep coming. Kate is terrific as the prime character struggling with her friend's death and the eerie related symbolism to Shakespeare that makes her feel her life has turned into a tragedy with no third act comic relief. As she travels across the pond to Arizona and more, Kate begins to learn what the Holy Grail is: a lost Shakespearean play. Readers will enjoy this entertaining amateur sleuth in which the Bard's legacy is proving deadly.

Robyn Young
9780525950165 $25.95

By 1274, the years of war that has devastated much of the Middle East especially the Holy Land appears over. A shaky peace has finally come to weary people mostly because of the Herculean efforts of the Brethren. However, one of the Brethren Will Campbell fears their cause has been betrayed from within and that hostilities will break out unless the traitor Prince Edward is stopped from meeting his pledge to the Pope that the Cross will soon control Jerusalem. However, Will remains unaware that European war profiteers have found their profits gone since peace has descended on the land; so to stir up business they plan a scheme to use Edward as a foolish tool to erupt the Muslin world into a Jihad against the European infidels.

In Egypt, Sultan Baybars' heir Baraka has turned a deaf ear towards his father, who left him with his mother until he was old enough to train as a warrior and then left him with a tutor. Now he ignores his offspring even more since his closest friend died saving his life. Instead Baraka heeds the guidance of soothsayer Khadir who tells him his dad is going to leave him a destroyed kingdom unless he acts. Baybars believes he must fight the powerful Mongol horde while Khadir insists that is not only suicide, but it is the Christians who are the real enemy. A new wave of crusades seems imminent with Will and some of his Brethren peers the only hope to prevent another region wide conflation that could easily spread across the Mediterranean.

The middle book of this superior historical fiction trilogy (see BRETHREN) is a terrific entry as the late thirteenth century Middle East seems on the verge of another Crusade unless Will and his peers can pull off several miracles. The fast-paced story line effortlessly moves back and forth between the subplots and the key cast members are fully developed so that the audience obtains a taste of the medieval age especially in Jerusalem and Cairo in AD 1276.

Confessions of a Jane Austin Addict
Laurie Viera Rigler
9780525950400 $24.95

In twenty-first century Los Angeles, Courtney Stone is heart broken that her engagement with Frank is over; to heal thine self she chooses a night of Jane Austen novels with alcohol. However, when she awakens Courtney realizes she is no longer in her Southern California home, the right century; and worse this is not even her body. Instead she is in England in 1813 residing in the body of thirty years old spinster Jane Mansfield.

Middle class Jane finds herself an aristocrat, but though she has read regency romances all her life, she realizes her knowledge is superficial and that she is totally unprepared for "modern conveniences like the bathroom facilities being a chamber pot. Chaperones are everywhere and mother is Miss Bossy demanding she marry making her miss her supportive warm LA mom. Muddling her thought process are the memories of technological life in Los Angeles and an attraction to Charles Edgeworth, who seems to like her, but she is not sure which Jane he desires though at times she muses who does not matter as she is Jane.

It happened to Jane is a fun time travel parody of the Austen craze that is in vogue. The story line is amusing as Jane, though her social status is higher than before, struggles to adapt to a lesser convenient period while hiding her lack of knowledge from family, friends, servants, and especially Charles. Jane Austen fans will appreciate this fine tale (the great author even shows up) as the heroine ponders will the real Jane stand up?

History Lesson for Girls
Aurelie Sheehan
The Penguin Press
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780143111900 $14.00 1-800-847-5515

In 1975 thirteen years old Alison Glass moved with her parents and her horse Jazz to suburban Weston, Connecticut. She has problems blending in with the affluent locals partly because her parents are hippy artists and more so because of her scoliosis back brace.

Alison expects to be ignored at best and abused at norm by her peers, which she finds amusing. Instead she meets popular Kate Hamilton, the daughter of an abusive cocaine using New Age shaman father and a substance using mother. They hit it off as both love horseback riding and a need to escape their home lives. Their afternoon rides enable both of them to escape wide parental mood swings from excessive violence to oblivious ignorance and an additional escape from the brace for Alison.

This is a well written but depressing coming of age tale starring two teens with monster problems brought on by dysfunctional abusive parenting. Alison's parents are splitting even as her mother dumps new age elixirs down her throat and surgery seems imminent; Kate's father Tut is a violent cocaine user whose wife hides in a drug stupor so that she can ignore his abusive excesses towards their daughter. Readers will feel empathy for the two friends as riding horses together is the only escape from the dismal suburban family life.

The Brotherhood
Dawn Thompson
Love Spell
9780505527264 $6.99

In 1841 England, Joss Hyde-White, the offspring of shapeshifting vampires, has recently learned the hard way that he has some special innate abilities including transforming into a wolf. He needs to know more about his sudden aptitude, why it manifesting now, and why his parents failed to warn him. He heads home to ask them pertinent questions. However, a blizzard makes travel almost impossible. Still he continues his journey as his home is near, but stops when he comes upon a broken down coach whose occupants are being destroyed by a wolf.

He rescues one of the occupants, who inform him she is Cora Applegate; he takes her to his nearby manor-house. However, besides fighting his attraction to her as he fears his supernatural demons will destroy his beloved, he must keep her safe from the cold-blooded Brotherhood of vampires.

Though not quite as biting as its precursor, THE BROTHERHOOD is a terrific paranormal romance that continues the fresh concepts of the BLOOD MOON. The story line is fast-paced with the lead couple struggling to survive as evil comes for them. Sub-genre fans will appreciate the adventures of Joss and Cora in the fascinating but dark realm of Dawn Thompson.

Andrea Wilder
Love Spell
9780505527219 $6.99

In 1467 Ireland, the English army destroys their Irish opponents leaving one survivor barely alive. Healer Brynna struggles to keep the nearly dead Irish chieftain Kieran "The Fearless One" McAuley alive. Desperate as she knows he is "the hope of Ireland" even if he is her father's enemy, Brynna uses fairy magic to heal him, but also erases his memory of her.

When Kieran meets Brynna, he feels they have not only met before, but she is the star of his erotic dreams. Although Brynna knows Kieran is her true love, she hides her feelings as Ireland must come before either of their personal desires and she believes he is Ireland. He hopes that he can convince his soulmate they can have both a love of country and a love of one another.

Fans of medieval romantic fantasy will appreciate Andrea Wilder's superb debut. The lead couple live up to the title as they are FEARLESS in their love for one another and their country even when he wants their relationship to become permanent and she fears what that would do to her beloved Eire. With strong support from humans and Fey led by the Queen of Meath, sub-genre readers will enjoy this crisp tale.

Immortals: The Awakening
Joy Nash
Love Spell
9780505526953 $6.99

The world is in trouble as demons and unseelie are coming in increasing numbers using death magic at every possible moment. Water witch Christine Lachlan worries that mankind's reign is through unless the Immortals take an active interest. She searches for missing Immortal Kalen, who has taken refuge in a secret castle in Scotland.

Christine finds his hiding place, but also realizes that the deadly demon Culsu has plans to destroy Kalen. She saves his life, but though attracted to his rescuer, he rebuffs her plea to help save humanity from the demon horde. Outraged though also wanting him, Christine vows to learn why this Immortal refuses to participate. Sometimes knowing the truth fails to set you free as Christine will have to choose between love and duty.

The third Immortals tale (see Jennifer Ashley's THE CALLING and Robin T. Popp's THE DARKENING) lives up to its delightful predecessors as Joy Nash expands the threat to the magical and human races. The Kalen vs. Christine battle is terrific as she enters his lair to force him to act, but though attracted to her eh refuses. Her sleuthing leads her to the stunning truth about the man she loves. Romantic fantasy fans will joyfully appreciate this fine entry in the Immortals saga.

Tokyo Year Zero
David Peace
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307263742 $24.00 1-800-726-0600

In the summer of1946 Tokyo, the ravages of the war permeate every aspect of life in the battered city. One year to the date of the surrender, two female corpses are found in Shiba Park. Both were rape victims before being strangled.

Police Detective Minami leads the official investigation into the homicides. As he struggles with a drug addiction that helps him forget his ignominious past during the Chinese Occupation, Minami owes his allegiance to a drug lord who feeds his habit. Still he wants to solve this particular brutal case so in spite of a lack of running water, he is out seeking clues amidst the ruins of the city; that is when he is not with his mistress. When more dead females surface; each raped before being strangled, Minami knows he must concentrate on uncovering the identity of a serial killer even if he believes the victims deserve what they get as these prostitutes know the risk of picking up a customer.

TOKYO YEAR ZERO is going to be considered one of the best historical police procedural of the year. The investigation is top rate and the depressing Minami is a fascinating lead character who readers will dislike once they learn he ignores his starving family for his drug needs and his mistress. However, with the American occupation led by the invisible emperor with no clothes and MacArthur occupying a country in ruins with only a thriving black market efficiently run by criminals, Japan especially Tokyo owns this dark whodunit.

Secrets of a Lady
Tracy Grant
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061284885 $13.95

In 1819 London, members of the Ton think highly of Melanie and Charles Fraser, who seem to share a perfect scandal free relationship. Both dote on their six years old son Colin while the aristocracy assumes this is a love match.

However, on a foggy November evening, tragedy strikes when Colin seemingly vanishes from their elegant home. The kidnapper demands a special ring that allegedly has mystical power. It is to be brought to the criminals immediately in exchange for their son. Melanie knows she is the cause as she has hidden her real past from Charles, the grandson of a duke, but he also has hidden some of his Napoleonic War dealings from her. As the couple begins a desperate search to save their son, Melanie escorts Charles into a different side of London where brothels and gaming halls rule and anyone including your mate might be the one to knife you in the back; she is unaware that he knows his way around this seedy part of town.

SECRETS OF A LADY is a fascinating Regency amateur sleuth thriller with whimsical hints of the paranormal. Readers will feel they are accompanying the lead couple as the dark underbelly of early nineteenth century London comes to grim yet vivid life. Filled with twists and red herrings, deception even between Melanie and Charles is the norm. Tracy Grant provides a dark fresh take on Regency England with this tense character driven thriller.

Dead Girls Are Easy
Terri Garey
9780061136153 $5.99

In Atlanta only the incredible efforts and refusal to quit by ER Dr. Joe Bascombe (and her lack of change for the ferryman) saved the life of Nicki Styx after she was rushed to the hospital following a heart attack. The rest of the ER crew was ready to take her to the morgue when she flatlined, but Joe brought her back from the dead.

However, the clothing store owner's return to the living includes a slightly difference perception of reality. She can see ghosts who also know about her new skill. The spirits begin visiting Nicki at her store and her apartment as they want her help to resolve messes that prevent them from entering the light. The biggest pain in the butt is her late friend Caprice, who demands Nicki solve her homicide mystery be entering the mysterious realm of voodoo. Joe, who researches near death experiences, is attracted to Nicki and her to him, but rejects her contention that she communicates with the dead; still threats on her life are real.

Although at times the ghosts show more life than the living, fans of paranormal romantic satire will appreciate this amusing contemporary with the prime relationship emphasis being between Nikki and her spirits. The story line is fast-paced as Nicki seems to jump from one ghostly demand to another. Although the romance with Joe takes a back seat with motives not explored as he insists she his estranged wife's identical twin sister, fans of lighthearted supernatural romps like Michael J. Fox's The Frighteners will want to read this humorous tale of the Atlanta's afterlife.

Beyond Seduction
Stephanie Laurens
9780060839253 $7.99

In 1816 Cornwall, England, Earl Gervase Tregarth, knowing the impossibility of his pledge, swears he will marry the next suitable female he meets. He assumes he will not have to keep his vow until he goes to London. He is in a remote area with not a lady for who knows how many kilometers but Gervase meets his neighbor, Madeline Gascoigne; she fulfills his marital condition of being an eligible woman.

However, the former espionage agent adds a stipulation after they meet; he decides they must be compatible before he marries her. He plans to prove they are not at least in bed. However his first kiss is matched by her first kiss and soon both feel the heat between them even as he insists he's not in love.

The latest Bastion Club Regency romance is a fun tale due to the lead male who to himself plans to prove they are not a good match while to her he insists she would be a perfect countess while she believes otherwise. The story line focuses mostly on their warm friendly relationship. Although there is one kidnapping too many (two abductions in all) that feels more like padding, fans of the series (see A FINE PASSION and A LADY OF HIS OWN) will enjoy this entry.

Love Letters From A Duke
Elizabeth Boyle
9780060784034 $6.99

In 1814 London impoverished Felicity Langley may not have a pence for a piece of coal, but still hopes her duke will come forth to marry her. Specifically, four years ago Felicity was promised as the intended of the haughty Duke of Hollindrake, but he has done nothing to even meet her. She decides she must introduce herself to her betrothed.

Felicity thinks Thatcher is her new footman. In fact he is the Duke she never met. He knows he is out of character for a staid aristocrat who loathes scandal, but he fails to correct her mistake though he cannot fathom why not. To his shock, he falls in love with Felicity, whose enthusiasm and charm makes him feel good. However, he knows she would marry the Duke in an instant, but what about the footman for he vows to only wed someone who loves him not his title.

LOVE LETTERS FROM A DUKE is Regency romance at its best. Thatcher is a fabulous protagonist who knows he must have an heir and a spare, but would rather allow the dukedom to expire than to settle for anything less than love. He knows he loves Felicity, but doubts she reciprocates as her obsessive objective is a title. Fans will appreciate Elizabeth Boyle's fantastic historical as we hope breathlessly that she will admit she loves the footman and if she does when she learns he is the duke will she still want to be with him in spite of his deception.

Just Wicked Enough
Lorraine Heath
9780061129704 $6.99

In 1888 England impoverished Marquess Michael Tremayne knows he has nothing of value to sell except his title. So he offers it to the wealthy American banker James Rose, who seeks a title for his second of four daughters; having obtained one for his other offspring Jenny (see A DUKE OF HER OWN). However, Michael is irate when his future father-in-law chooses the shrew Kate as his take her or leave her mate.

Obstinate Kate has always dreamed of marrying for love not money or title so she is disappointed with the nuptials. Thus she rejects his efforts to get her in his bed until he proves he is worthy of her love. Michael feels he must tame the shrew not through love, but through passion. His scheme is simple: seduce his wife into needing him by being JUST WICKED ENOUGH to entice her into sharing a bed.

This fine Rogues and Roses Victorian romance is a wonderful bedroom drama as the lead couple battle over passion and lust with both unable to believe the other loves them. The story line is fast-paced as the pair falls in love but hides their feelings out of a sense of vulnerability. Fans of Lorraine Heath's historical series will enjoy the latest gender war of the Roses.

Dangerous Admission
Jane O'Connor
9780061240867 $13.95

Forty-three years Miranda "Rannie" Bookman is a divorced mother of two. Her love life consists of imaginary numbers and her work as a copyeditor with a sharpened blue pencil went down the tubes due to an honest error of omitting the letter l in the re-release of the Nancy Drew thriller The Secret of the Old Clock.

Until the publishing world forgives her blunder, which may be in the next millennium, Rannie works where she can; for instance she embarrasses her children by giving tours at Manhattan's exclusive Chapel School private academy they attend. When someone murders the director of college admissions at "Chaps", A. Lawrence Tutwiler, her son Nate and other seniors and their parents including her are prime suspects. Unable to accept the NYPD narrow focus targeting the Upper West Side Chaps community, Rannie thinks she would like to kill authors whose books are one big run on sentence, but never did. Instead she investigates whether anyone would kill to get into their college of first choice or is some other motive the cause.

Eccentric Rannie is a charmer as she holds this amusing Manhattan murder mystery together as she cringes at fractured sentence structure or insuring the world is grammatically and punctuality correct while investigating who is killing Chaps. The breezy story line pokes fun at elitist schools, publishing companies, and amateur sleuths. The support cast, mostly the Chaps, add depth to Rannie's running amok as the investigative grammar queen of New York.

The Rules of Gentility
Janet Mullany
9780061229831 $13.95

Philomena Wellesley-Clegg knows beyond a shadow of the doubt that females are the superior gender in spite of society enabling men to control the wealth. Ergo, the heiress has no option except to accept a betrothal from whatever man she considers the less of all evils. Disreputable Inigo Linsley, who has family pressures to marry, knows how she feels. He offers her a different arrangement so that she can stay free a little longer and he can temporarily prevent his family schemes to matchmake him; his plan is to fake an engagement between them.

Philomena knows the concept is ridiculous, but likes the idea of buying time until she selects her life mate. She agrees to his inane offer. As they fall in love, she wants to select Inigo as her spouse while he tells her the truth about the scandal of having a child out of wedlock because he wants to be her chosen one.

Rotating perspective between the lead couple, THE RULES OF GENTILITY is an amusing Regency Chick Lit romance. Philomena is a fabulous protagonist as her list of losers dwindle and her asides to her best friend are humorous and insightful. Inigo is a typical rake who uses deception to get through the season without a wife. Fans will enjoy their battles as neither anticipated love would lead them to such a mess as both wants the engagement to be real, but cannot admit it because they want to protect their hearts from being broken.

Act Normal
William Manchester
Top Publications
3100 Independence Parkway, Suite 311-349, Plano Texas,75075
9781929976409 $14.95

Overcrowding on a planet caused some of the inhabitants to colonize two orbs, Earth and Tarizon. A terrible ecological disaster on Tarizon forced the people to erect and live inside domed cities while women had a difficult time becoming pregnant. The governments of Tarizon and that of the earth's United States signed a treaty allowing a citizen of the former to marry an earthling, have children with them, and after a few years on earth return to their Tarizon with the children leaving behind an abandoned bewildered spouse to explain to her family what happened.

Lawyer Stan Turner's son is on Tarizon as a means of controlling the former and having him do what his CIA handlers demand. At present they want Stan to get an acquittal for Charlotte Wenzel whose husband and sons disappeared. Their father was from Tarizon and there is no hard evidence. That changes when the police find the body of one of her children. When the beam bringing him to the ship failed, he fell back to earth. Besides that case, Stan is also working to make sure his friend Ben Stover isn't convicted for money laundering due to the manifestations of a vindictive son-in-law who embezzled from their firm. At the same time Stan's partner Paula is trying to get an innocent man cleared of the murder of Chester Brown and his family.

This is a fascinating science fiction legal thriller in which the government trades children for advanced technologies. The story is told throughout the book in between believable legal strategy amidst the three cases. The CIA and the American government come across as avaricious turncoats as they manipulate people for personal gain. William Manchester goes into incredible depth with the trials and the missing alien and his half-breed children so that the audience is immersed in a legal procedural in a world somewhat similar to ours, but with a radical ET difference. ACT NORMAL will appeal to science fiction and mystery fans; obviously especially those who appreciate the joining of the two genres.

Silent Counsel
Ken Isaacson
Windermere Press
1465 Rte 23 So,#190, Wayne, N.J.
978097886224 $24.95

Just having gotten the BMW, Vince Saldano is seeing how fast he can get from 0 to sixty miles per hour when he hears a thump and sees a child in the street motionless. Scared, he runs away from the scene of the accident; six year old Ben Altman is dead and Vince is having pangs of conscience. A man calls attorney Scott Heller and tells him about what he did and wants him to try and negotiate a good plea bargain with the prosecution without giving him his name. Scott researches it and realizes the name is privileged but the ADA won't bargain without a name.

Scott invokes privilege when he talks to the police. The victim's mother Stacy Altman a hires a lawyer and hopes that a judge will make Scott reveal the name of the hit and run driver. The judge upholds his position on privilege. Stacy is determined to find out who her son's killer is and she starts stalking Scott's wife and daughter. The ironic part of the whole affair is that his client gave him a phony name; his phone and pager are disconnected and his e-mail address is no longer valid. Stacy refuses to let go of her obsession and she does the one thing that will force Scott to try to find out who his client is in order to avert a tragedy.

It is hard to believe that this is Ken Isaacson's first legal thriller as the tale is on a par with the works of John Grisham. This is a very action oriented legal thriller that starts off at light speed and just keeps accelerating. Yet the characters are so well developed especially Scott, his family, and Stacy readers will feel as if they know them as people they meet in their everyday lives. This book will make the audience feel a myriad of emotions.

King of Storms
Amanda Scott
Warner Books, Inc.
c/o Grand Central Publishing
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780446618564 $6.99 1-800-759-0190

In 1381 Scotland, the extended Macleod kin think highly of youngest sister Sidony, whose calm courage is admired by everyone. However, she loses her serenity when demanding knight Captain Sir Giffard Maclennan arrives giving out orders and expecting everyone especially a woman to obey. Instead, out of character for her, she passionately explodes at him while he, also out of character, finds himself relaxed except for his desire for her.

They team up once they learn more about the other's quest; Giff seeks lost Templar treasure while Sidony searches for the Scottish king's Stone of Scone. Danger mounts as an unknown adversary wants one of them, though neither knows which one, to fail. As they fall in love, Giff knows he must not let his feelings interfere with his top secret templar mission; that can only succeed if her family helps him.

The latest Macleod historical romance is a terrific tale starring two interesting lead characters who fight, fuss and fall in love. The story line is fast-paced and returns stars from previous Macleod thrillers (see PRINCE OF DANGER and LORD OF THE ISLES). Rich in history and romance, fans will enjoy the search for the Templar treasure and The Stone of Scone.

Bride for a Knight
Sue-Ellen Welfonder
9780446617307 $6.99

Following the death of his mother giving birth to him, his father has had nothing to do with his offspring, James Macpherson. Instead others have raised him. Jamie is squire to Duncan "The Black Stag" Mackenzie when he learns his brothers were killed. As the heir he must come home to meet the father who abandoned him at birth.

Reluctantly, Jamie does his duty and comes home for the first since his father banished him, but is still unwelcome by his sire although he is the heir. He also learns from his father that he is to wed his late sibling's fiancee to cement an alliance between clans. However, Aveline, the sister of his betrothed, takes her place as his bride. As their lust for one another turns to love, the ghosts of Jamie's brothers demand he avenge their murders and stay alert for he and his beloved wife are the next targets.

Sue-Ellen Welfonder continues her powerfully vivid fourteenth century Highlander saga (see UNTIL THE KNIGHT COMES) with a wonderful romance. The male protagonist believes he is unworthy of love as he remains estranged with his father while the woman who loves him plans to prove to him he is wrong as he is deserving of her love. The paranormal and mystery elements blend nicely into the story line as those segues enhance a fine historical romance.

The Hades Project
Lynn Sholes & Joe Moore
Midnight Ink
2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125-2989
9780738709307 $14.95 1-800-843-6666

Reporter Cotton Stone is a Nephilim, the daughter of a fallen angel and a mortal; but unlike the rest of her species, she is on the side of good as one of God's warriors. Her father repented his sin and he had two daughters; one took his place in heaven. A new battle is brewing as the Devil's Nephilim is creating a super computer using the code given by the kidnapped son of Alan owner of CyberSys. The forces of evil intend to unleash the Hades virus, which will cause disasters leading to millions dead and a new Dark Ages.

A childhood friend of Cotton is on the run with her daughter who sees the red auras of those aligned with Satan. They want her dead and Cotton is her only hope for survival. Alan's son and Lindsay's daughter meet after both are temporarily free of Satan's minion and it is obvious they know each other. Cotton thinks these Indigo children are blessed by God and there is an increase in their births for a reason she does not know. Both supercomputers need thodium, the substance found in the resin of The Tree Of Life and the wood is used by Noah to build the arc; the only known artifact that still contains this is the Spear of Destiny. If Satan obtains it hell will come to earth.

Once again, Lynn Sholes & Joe Moore have written a compelling thriller in which Satan, the Nephilim and their offspring the Rubie walk the earth as government, religious, and financial leaders. Cotton plays a major role in putting the pieces together that lead to the Spear of Destiny, but that only insures she will be under attack by the dark forces who already loathe her as a traitor. Readers will enjoy the latest escapades of God's champion as she battles the minion of Satan.

Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade
Diana Gabaldon
Delacorte Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780385337496 $25.00 1-800-726-0600

Being a gay man in 1758 England is difficult as caught sodomites are hung in a grisly manner. The government does not call attention to a group of conspirators who will be tried for treason; so instead accuse them of sodomy. Lord Major John Grey, brother to Hal, the Duke of Pardloe, keeps his sexual orientation hidden for fear a wrongly placed whisper means death.

While in the Hal's Office, a page of their dead father's journal is found on his desk. Hal tells John he was exiled to Aberdeen when his father died because there were rumors that their father was a traitor who was going to be arrested and rumors of his being a sodomite were on everyone's lips. John takes solace in his new relationship with Percy, the stepson of the man about to marry his mother. Percy joins the same regiment that John and Hal belong to so that they have another reason to be brothers. John has recently been attacked several times; their mother believes the incidents are tied to their father's murder. John is content to be with someone he cares about and not delve into the homicide even if it ties to the present. After their regiment deploys to the German front to fight the French, clues surface that could solve the decade old murder mystery.

The latest Lord John book is more a historical drama than a mystery. Readers obtain a glimpse at life in mid eighteenth century England for someone who is gay. John is an honorable person who relishes his sexual orientation although he hates having to hide it (not out of shame but out of a real fear for his life). The murder mystery is interspersed throughout the story line as that subplot serves to enhance the look at the life of a homosexual in historical England. Diana Gabaldon's provides a powerful Lord John tale that is unforgettable especially with its relevancy today. This author can't write a bad book as they are all fascinating and memorable.

Joshua Spanogle
9780385338547 $23.00

After suffering burn out from his horrifying cases made more difficult by political hacks insisting on "correcting" the findings, medical detective Dr. Nate McCormick left the Epidemic Intelligence Service of CDC. Although last year he even got fifteen minutes of fame over the Chimeragen incident (see ISOLATION WARD), he needs a fresh start so he goes to San Francisco to be with his girlfriend Dr. Brooke Michaels.

Biotech researcher Paul Murphy, whom Nate has not seen in a decade, meets with him and acts paranoid. He wants to tell Nate something that is sensitive, but keeps putting it off until Nate finds him dead. He is horrified in spite of seeing disease dissolve tissues and drowning in one's blood. Paul's ears are sliced off; his eyes and tongue ripped out. His wife dies in spite of Nate's efforts to save her and their two kids are dead. Although he knows Brooke who is already angry with him will be outraged, Nate obsesses over knowing why; not understanding even with his CDC experience the billion dollar industry prefers silence when it comes to the mayhem of medical murder.

In site of his gallows humor that feels out of place, Nate makes this bloody medical thriller work (avoid eating while reading) as he already is over the edge even before he finds the home invasion murders of the Murphy family, but at a risk to himself and Brooke, he needs to know the truth. The story line is fast-paced as the beleaguered hero runs the lethal gamut of the vast affluent medical universe where truth needs manipulating. Although at times the exciting story line seems over the top, fans of sub-genre greats like Robin Cook will appreciate this entertaining look Joshua Spanogle provides a deep look at the "Sicko" conspiracy in which murder is an acceptable cure when it comes to protecting special interest billions.

Mike Resnick
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781591025467 $15.00 1-800-421-0351

In 6303, Braxton's Records of Big Game senior researcher Duncan Rojas knows why he relishes his work on a wasteland where the biggest surviving animal besides the few humans like himself is a small rodent. His vocation enables Duncan to dream of a better earth where large mammals lived instead of being extinct or like most Homo sapiens deserted the planet for other worlds leaving behind a dying orb.

Thus when the apparent last Maasai, a race most thought long gone, Bukoba Mandaka, offers him a large some of money to locate the legendary vanished tusks of the long extinct Kilimanjaro Elephant, he would have agreed even without the cash. Over three millennia ago the last known tusks weighing easily over 200 pounds vanished. Although he tries to learn his client's motive as this will be an expensive project, Mandaka declines to give any further explanation. Still the challenge awakens Rojas from an ennui that had left him almost as dead inside as the planet. As Rojas follows clues through time and worlds with deadly adversaries competing for the prize, he begins to truly appreciate what was lost when man abused his stewardship of the planet as he learns how magnificent Africa once was through the people he meets and ultimately the majestic Kilimanjaro Elephant.

IVORY is science fiction at its best as the tale works on multiple levels with the most prevalent being a cautionary thriller warning people that what we do today has impact on all the tomorrows. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with non stop action as Rojas travels back and forth through time and across the galaxy in his quest while rivals less scrupulous want him eliminated. However, even with a terrific hero and excellent eccentric support characters that make the pit stops eras and places seem genuine; the Kilimanjaro Elephant owns Mike Resnick's thriller as the magnificent animal even in a limited appearance serves as the symbolic warning of man's reign ending with a disposable planet dying.

The Missing
Sarah Langan
HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780060872915 $6.99 1-800-242-7737

Though the two remote Maine towns are neighbors separated by woods, they are radically different as Corpus Christie is an affluent community while Bedford is a run down manufacturing environmental nightmare. Corpus Christi third-grade schoolteacher Lois Larkin takes her class on a field trip to nearby Bedford. The innocent inadvertently uncovers a buried plague.

Almost immediately law abiding people behave violently towards family and neighbors. No one can sit still as everyone seems to behave irritated and angry. The transformation continues as the townsfolk metamorphosis into something inhuman with the malevolence spreading at an incredibly rapid speed from person to person. Soon the once comfortable community of Corpus Christie looks like a battlefield, which it is for if humanity fails to restrict the evil to this town, the state, country, and world will be devoured in a short time.

This is an exciting horror thriller as the audience will feel they are alongside the townsfolk caught in a web of evil. The story line is action-packed, but character driven by the townies who evolve from optimistic to fatalistic. Although the evil in bones live long after the person is interred, the only thing missing from this tense thriller is the cause of why the malevolence began; the effect is chilling. Still Sarah Langan proves she is a genre royal with this small town Maine horror thriller.

The War Against Miss Winter
Kathryn Miller Haines
9780061139789 $13.95

As the "final casting call" of 1942 takes a bow, in New York wannabe actress Rosie Winter earns a living working as the personal assistant at McCain & Son sleazy detective agency. This office gig pays the rent and buys rationed food as she has not had a paying theatre job in six months. Upon coming to work, she realizes her latest job may have ended as she finds her boss Jim McCain hanging in his office closet with his hands and neck tied with a phone cord. NYPD Lieutenant Schmidt detested Jim, claiming he was once a crooked cop and a terrible sleuth; he gleefully declares his death a suicide, but Rosie questions their rush to judgment because of the tied hands.

However, Rosie has no time to worry about Jim's demise. A playwright and an affluent widow hire Rosie to find a missing play. She enlists her best friend Jayne "America's squeakheart" to help her investigate on the mean streets of Broadway and off Broadway while considering god forbid the barbaric boroughs.

This is a wonderful amusing historical mystery that lampoons the theater and provides acerbic asides on WW II. The story line contains a strong support cast who bring to life Manhattan in 1943. However, it is Rosie who makes the tale fun as she flexes muscle and concludes riveting is not her vocation, but sleuthing is (at least until the next gig) as she understands the difference between the amateur and the pro is the pay. Kathryn Miller Haines writes an excellent 1940s whodunit filled with vigor and satire as Rosie the actress becomes Rosie the detective.

The Stylist
Cai Emmons
9780060898953 $13.95

In 2002 in Hoboken, New Jersey, Hayden is a stylist at Pizzazz Salon. Newcomer Emory takes over the empty chair. Something about the new woman bothers Hayden and leads her to think back a few years ago before she went to Harvard. Her thoughts are on Arleen whom her mother brought in to live with them. Hayden and her younger sisters Cornelia and Sophie tease Arleen who is not quite right mentally. However that leads Hayden to realize that Emory is an effeminate male, which makes her unhappy. When she was growing up her dad was often on the road a lot researching the books he wrote. Those were the best times as life was carefree; when he came home, life turned oppressive. Hayden enjoyed her childhood until mom died. Instead of returning to Harvard, she vanished. Her apartment is freezing so Emory offers to let her stay with her in her place in Manhattan. She accepts.

Hayden sees Cornelia in New York. Cornelia is married, pregnant, going to law school and lives in Scarsdale; Sophie is at college in Michigan. Finally she accuses Hayden of deserting the family when they needed her. Cornelia gives Hayden a copy of their dad's new book. Cornelia calls Hayden demanding she go to Costa Rica to bring their father home as he broke his leg. Reluctantly Hayden agrees to see her dad for the first time since he sent her back to school, but she instead ran away. She does not know what to expect, but anticipates the worst so she brings her new pal Emory with her.

This is a unique entertaining family drama held together by the prime character Hayden, an interesting protagonist. The support cast is solid but mostly through relationships with Hayden. Although a late death seems too convenient of a way of clearing up their differences, fans of fresh distinctive relationship dramas will enjoy Hayden's family reunion.

The Pinball Theory of the Apocalypse
Jonathan Selwood
9780061173875 $13.95

In Los Angeles artist Isabel Raven copies Impressionist masterpieces for wealthy patrons who cannot afford the originals. However, local art dealer to uniformed and misinformed Dahlman thinks her twists of combining the classics with modern day images and symbols can make them money. So he promotes her work as the next great wave while display photos of her on the Net that she would prefer remain personal; she becomes an artsy in thing as the "It Girl". However, on the down side Dahlman threatens to carve her up if she fails to sign an agent's agreement with him.

Dahlman's emu evisceration threat and her boyfriend's cheating on her seem minor when Isabel considers her physicist string theory father's scientific conclusion involving Jupiter melting Pluto or is that Uranus or some other planetary giant as belch; regardless the solar system is counting down to tilt with the apocalypse coming soon.

THE PINBALL THEORY OF APOCALYPSE is an amusing zany satirical frolic that takes no prisoners as Jonathan Selwood skewers the Hollywood world in which promotion, advertisement, and spin is more critical to success than talent. Readers will appreciate the combining of art and science as Raven knows she must make it by October 9, 2049 while having to choose between Dahlman's phony campaign and being herself even if that means modernized rip-offs of the greats. This is a terrific mocking of the American way to fame and fortune; as it is not how good the item is, nor how hard you work on the product, or what you produce; it is the sell.

Carrie Adams
9780061232602 $24.95

After spending six months in India to get away from London following the settlement of a sexual harassment suit that she won, Tessa King comes home. She looks forward to seeing her friends and her godchildren. At the airport her best friend Francesca is too busy to pick her up, but sends her spouse Nick and Tessa's oldest godson teenage Caspar.

Tessa talks to her impoverished pal Billie and her second godchild, seven years old Cora; Billie refuses to accept that Cora's dad will never be there for his illegitimate daughter as he has a family of his own. She next chats with her pal Helen, mother of five month old twins who will soon be her latest godchildren; she hates Helen's spouse comedian Neil who cheats on her and has left her so despondent. Tessa also says hi to childless couples, Claudia and Al who are trying to have a child, and Ben and Sasha; Tessa is attracted to reliable Ben. Whereas her friends are somewhat jealous of Tessa's freedom and appreciate how she dotes on their offspring, Tessa is jealous of their marriages and wonders if it is time for her to marry and raise a family.

The lead protagonist is a reliable caring person who keeps the story line focused in spite of the myriad of subplots floating around and through her. The ensemble support cast contains several clearly defined characters as each of those mentioned above and others have distinct personalities. However, there are too many major strings to follow although the sum of the parts leads to a deep character study of a swinging single relooking at her values.

The September of Shiraz
Dalia Sofer
HarperCollins ECCO
9780061130403 $24.95

In 1981 in Tehran, the Revolutionary Guards arrest Jewish gem trader Isaac Amin at is his business office accusing him of espionage. The real reason for his incarceration is religion as the Ayatollah led Muslim fanaticism has taken the country. Besides being Jewish and affluent, Isaac, like any business man in Iran, did have loose ties to the fallen regime of the Shah, but those who hold him prisoner for seditious acts need no proof to do so.

As Isaac observes torture and execution, he worries what will happen to his wife Farnaz and their daughter Shirin. He thanks God that their son Parviz attends college in Brooklyn. Although he has no way of knowing what is happening to his two females as contact is forbidden, he has cause to fret about their safety. Farnaz is spiraling into an out of control depression as she anguishes what to do. Shirin is outraged at the persecution of her father and she steals documents from the father of a playmate; the man runs the prison where her dad has vanished inside. In Brooklyn, Parviz, who was not very religious to start with, has deeper doubts with his father's arrest and struggles with surviving as he is suddenly poor; he also has fallen in love with a devout Hasidic.

This is a deep historical fiction tale that warns the audience that religious prejudice harms individuals, families and communities regardless of the group claiming God's blessings. However, the key to this well written thought provoking cautionary tale is the Amin family. Each took for granted their status under the Shah choosing to ignore the atrocities and the threats to their lives once the upheaval occurred. Thus the Guard sees the Amin family, especially Isaac, as part of the problem. Dalia Sofer provides a poignant family drama using a twentieth century pivotal point as the catalyst.

Chris Dolley
Baen Books
PO Box 1403, Riverdale, NY 10471
9781416521402 $24.00 1-800-223-2336

Astronaut scientist John Bruce discovered the means to travel through extra-dimensional space. While testing his new ship design, he insisted he had a religious inspirational experience. Considered a hero and extremely popular amongst his fellow Americans, John runs for President.

Convicted serial killer Peter Pendennis has been locked away ever since he was convicted of and slicing and dicing eleven victims. Psychiatrists working with Peter conclude he suffers from multiple personalities. However, shockingly one of his egos claims to be astronaut John Bruce. To prove his claim Peter informs Bruce's former girlfriend Louise Callander things that only the real astronaut and she are aware of. Studying the impact of multiple dimensions on the brain, research scientist Nick Stubbs interviews Peter in his Bruce persona. At the same time someone is killing people using the dissecting M.O. of the incarcerated Pendennis; the prime suspect is Nick.

SHIFT is a great science fiction mystery that will have the audience wondering who the killer is. The story line is fast-paced but brilliantly driven by the strong cast as each key player is fully developed to include several of the Pendennis personalities. RESONANCE is exciting and the strong characters are totally believable. Chris Dolley mesmerizes his audience.

Divine by Blood
P.C. Cast
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373802913 $14.95

Morrigan assumed she was a normal Sooner teen with wants and desires similar to her peers. However, when she turns eighteen, Morrigan learns the truth that she is not just an Oklahoma native; instead she learns her roots are literally magically from a tree and a centaur. Her mother Shannon Parker wanted her daughter to avoid all the otherworldly woes that she twice faced (see DIVINE BY MISTAKE and DIVINE BY CHOICE), but now regrets her decision as Morrigan is outraged and upset.

Her explosion opens the portal to the world of Partholon, which she enters expecting to be treated with adulation and respect as befitting the offspring of the goddess Incarnate. Instead she is treated as an unwelcome outsider. Desperate to belong, she causes problems for the residents of Partholon as she is the Light Bringer whose efforts lead to a growing darkness that is engulfing the realm; her only ally is a shaman centaur warrior

The third Divine fantasy is a major departure from the previous two and not just because the next generation is the mover and shaker. The story line retains the fast-paced rate established by Shannon's starring escapes, but provides greater insight into Partholon through the amazed, dazed and razed teen. This is one fantasist who knows how to cast a spell on her readers.

Prince of Thieves
Chuck Logan
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781416554905 $14.00 1-800-223-2336

They entered the Boston bank wearing masks with guns ready to be used. They point their weapons at the terrified bank manager demanding that she open up the vault. Stunned and frightened that she will die Claire Keesey provides the numbers to the criminal to open the vault. The thieves escape, but the leader takes Claire hostage, but once they are free he releases her.

The brilliant strategist Doug "Prince of Thieves" MacRay can not forget the trembling Claire. He wants her so sans mask he manages to meet the still traumatized bank executive. As they begin to date Doug, and his team pull off another bank job. FBI Agent Adam Frawley is in charge of the investigation, but though frustrated with the impudent robbers, he begins to think Doug is the mastermind and his Charlestown buds are the team. However, even he wonders if he wants Doug to be the bad guy because he is attracted to Claire too while the Prince of Thieves plans a final job before settling down with the woman he loves; he plans a walk off robbery of Fenway Park.

Although Doug spends an inordinate amount of time internally debating whether he should give up his vocation for love as his muses slows down the action, readers will appreciate this fun character driven thriller especially the dark caper scenes. The triangle consisting of the banker, the robber, and the detective is brilliantly devised as each seems genuine and their interactions plausible. The support cast enhances the locale or the understanding of the lead trio. Fans will enjoy Chuck Hogan's PRINCE OF THIEVES wondering who will be left standing with the girl.

They Came from Below
Blake Nelson
Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765314239 $17.95 1-888-330-8477

Seventeen year old Emily and her best friend Reese have one thing on their mind (and other parts of their bodies), finding boyfriends for the summer at Cape Cod. However, their vacation starts with a strange twist as Emily finds a white blob on the beach. However, the authorities take it away so Emily gets back to the prime directive of finding a boyfriend.

Emily and Reese meet handsome German exchange students Steve and Dave; they know they have found their boyfriends. However, the male teens, who have the ability to heal people and communicate with any living organism, are leaving the planet shortly due to the levels of pollution harming them. First they must rescue a fellow ET captured by the government, followed by heroes' kisses from the girls, and then finally depart.

The fun in this young adult science fiction lies in the comparisons between the sets of teens. The American females have one goal: boyfriends; the exchange students also have one goal: rescuing an ET (though hugs and kisses with the girls is a nice byproduct). Teens will enjoy this lighthearted romp as the two teenage girls believe they finally succeeded in obtaining boyfriends even if THEY CAME FROM BELOW. Emily and Reese understand the most wonderful summer of their lives.

Dark of the Moon
John Sandford
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399154775 $26.95 1-800-847-5515

To look at him nobody would believe that Virgil Flowers is a police officer; one of Lucas Davenport's best (see INVISIBLE PREY for the case in which Flowers assisted the Minnesota Bureau of Crime Apprehension Chief). He wears casual clothing, has long hair, looks younger than his years and has a breezy amiable manner which enables him to make friends easily. He is on his way to Bluestem, Minnesota to investigate the deaths of the octogenarian Gleasons, who apparently knew their killer.

As he enters the town he sees a house belonging to the recently deceased wealthy Bill Judd. The sheriff asks Virgil to help him with the Judd murder; another eighty-something year old person killed in a horrendous fashion. Judd scammed the townsfolk with a pyramid scheme making millions so he had plenty of enemies. In a town where murder almost never occurs three in a short period of time doesn't strike Flowers as coincidental especially the age of the victims. When another couple also in their eighties is killed, Flower is certain that there is a methodical organized sociopath killer hiding in plain sight. During the course of his investigations he discovers a meth lab, a mole in the police department, and a church dealing with criminals. For one independent police officer he finds himself involved with a serial killer, townsfolk, the sheriff, a lover and the dead all lead him to the killer if he is clever to find the link.

John Sandford's latest protagonist is an adrenaline junkie living on the edge but within the rules of an excellent police officer. Flower deserves his own series because his style and methods is as good as his boss Lucas Davenport even though there are ying and yang. There are many different mysteries that tie into the storyline and they are easy to follow although the reader will be perplexed until the very last page of a very fine and exciting police procedural.

Dead Heat
Dick Frances and Felix Francis
9780399154768 $25.95

Business is booming at the Newmarket restaurant in Newmarket, England; and the proprietor Max Moreton is hired by the racetrack to be the guest chef of a dinner. The meal is a success but most of the people came down with a bad case of food poisoning including Max. The next day he has to drag himself out of bed to perform as the guest chef in the sponser's box. A bomb goes off killing many and injuring even more including Max's staff. The cause of the food poisoning is caused by undercooked kidney beans. Max knows nothing in the dinner called for kidney beans.

He believes somebody deliberately poisoned his meal so that they would have an excuse not to go to the sponsor's gala. Two couples who were supposed to attend the sponsor's gala never showed up; one couple is one of Max's best customers and the other is Peter, an importer of polo ponies and his wife. While he is investigating he is almost killed when the brakes on his car go out and his house with him in it is set afire. When Max and his lover go to the states, he gets a broken arm just for asking about a certain person and showing a metal ball to the security guard. Even with his life in danger, Max refuses to give up his quest to find out who tainted the meal that left so many ill and he has a number of unexpected allies willing to back him up.

This father and son writing team changes the dynamic of a book written by Dick Frances. There is more humor in the storyline and readers get even closer to the characters because Max is an everyman the audience can identify with even with his outrageous risks to clear his name. The mystery itself is clearly set up so that through the use of misdirection, readers aren't sure who the villains of this tale are.

Miss Match
Erynn Mangum
9781600060953 $12.99

After introducing her sister to the man she eventually married, photographer Lauren Holbrook decides she will be a matchmaker for her friends. Lauren has no plans to marry as assumes she will never find someone to love or be loved.

With the help of co-worker Hannah, Lauren matches another colleague at the photography shop Ruby with their pastor Nick over the objection of their boss Brandon who is attracted to the new office assistant. Meanwhile the other photo shop staff tries to match Lauren with Ruby's brother Ryan. To stop the matchmakers, Lauren and Ryan pretend to be a dating couple. As they go out together, Lauren likes Ryan and he reciprocates until her feelings grow so intense, she reconsiders her promise to her dad father that she would never desert him to marry like her sisters did.

With deference to Jane Austen especially Pride and Prejudice, and Emma, MISS MATCH is an amusing lighthearted contemporary tale filled with chocolate, coffee and romance. The cast is solid especially the heroine, who matches her friends and family, but fails to find a match for herself. In many ways Lauren is a sort of an adult Cher Horowitz of Clueless stardom, who in turn was a Beverly Hills Emma. Readers will enjoy this intelligent humorous romp.

The Gatecrasher
Madeleine Wickham
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312361273 $19.95 1-888-330-8477

In England forty-years old Fleur Daxeny is the ultimate con artist attending the funeral of wealthy women in order to con their grieving widowers out of their money. Her daily reading is the obituary column of the newspaper where she searches for upper crust survivors so that she attends the funeral in one of her zillion black designer suits.

Her current mark is Richard Favour, whose wife Emily just passed away. Fleur pretends to be a friend from the old days as she gently lures the sad but nice widower into her net. Fleur is so good at her vocation that Richard's daughter Phillipa and her husband Lambert suspect she is swindler yet are charmed by her. The trio invites Fleur to move into their family estate where she finds an unlimited credit card and a million pound bank account for her use. Even when Fleur's thirteen years old daughter joins her, the Favours welcome her. As she enjoys the lifestyle of the rich and Zara her first home, Fleur realizes family members shockingly with less scruples than even her wants Richard's money, but the ultimate pigeon may not as foolish as she thought

THE GATECRASHER is a jocular satirical frolic starring a likable charming con artist ably supported by a strong secondary cast; mostly her daughter, her latest pigeon, and his daughter and son-in-law. Fleur is the fascinating protagonist who holds the story line together while charming the audience, who wants to detest her for her wicked ways cheating grieving widowers, yet instead like her. Although the final sting ends too abrupt, readers will enjoy the antics of THE GATECRASHER.

Southern Fatality
T. Lynn Ocean
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312373672 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

Former military police officer Jersey Barnes became a private security investigator since leaving the marines. Now the South Carolina resident is considering retiring. However, while she muses about life after work with her boyfriend Bill, he asks her to take on a case. Bill's beautiful recently married friend Lolly wants to know if her wealthy spouse is already cheating on her.

Jersey wants to say no especially after seeing how lovely the blonde bombshell of a client is; but for Bill she takes on the case. Her first reaction is why a newlywed would cheat on such a lovely new wife. However, as she investigates whether the husband is a stud or a muffin Kersey instead uncovers diabolical plans to release a computer virus that would devastate a large bank and much more; she brings in her Carolina corps of pals to help her prevent a disaster.

Jersey and her eccentric crew turn SOUTHERN FATALITY into an amusing regional investigative thriller. Readers will enjoy the antics of Jersey's moralist Ox, former Federal IT guru Soup, undercover expert Trish,; and the heroine's bluffing dad Spud and his greybeard poker pals. The fast-paced breezy story line is fun to follow as there is plenty of action, but it is because of the offbeat cast that fans will want more Jersey escapades in the Carolinas.

Second Shot
Zoe Sharp
9780312358952 $23.95

In the frozen New Hampshire woods, British bodyguard Charlie Fox wonders if she will bleed to death before she freezes to death. She muses back to her home in London where her boss Sean Meyer asked Charlie to protect lottery winner Simone Kerse and her daughter Ella from the mom's former boyfriend. Charlie hesitantly agrees to keep the two females safe.

Simone travels to Boston in hopes of finding her estranged father and patch things up with him. She takes Ella with her. Charlie also accompanies them. In New England, a man informs Simone that he is her father; Charlie has doubts about his claim. When Kerse family secrets surface, Simone shoots Charlie who now is bleeding to death in the New Hampshire woods wondering why her client would try to kill her bodyguard.

SECOND SHOT is an exhilarating thriller that starts off with an incredibly exciting opening sequence as the heroine, who knows she might be dying in New England, looks back to how she ended up here. Charlie is a terrific protagonist as she protects the Kerse pair from the ex, but wonders who will protect her from the Kerse pair. As with Charlie's FIRST DROP in the States, her latest American adventure is a sharp thriller.

Shadows & Lies
Marjorie Eccles
9780312368968 $24.95

In 1910 in Shropshire, a bloodied female corpse is found on the estate of Sir Henry Chetwynd. As far as the owner is concerned he feels for the unknown victim, but in a detached way as he has no idea who she is. Instead he struggles with the demands of his aristocratic father who insists he marry for money so that their family estates can flourish; he wants to wed his beloved student doctor Louisa, a champion of women's rights.

While Henry assists the police investigating the homicide, in London Hannah struggles with her lost memory since the accident. She writes down what she thinks she knows in an attempt to find clues to her past. Everything she knows seems to tie back to Shropshire (and a dead woman with no identity). Meanwhile the police continue to investigate the homicide; not understanding the link between the two tragic females that starts thirty years ago and runs through aristocratic Shropshire, wool trading Yorkshire and a British South African port.

Police detective Gil Mayo takes a respite as Marjorie Eccles provides a terrific stand alone historical thriller that looks deeply at a pivotal time of reform when the upper middle class begins to take over leadership and the women's rights movement flourishes. The story line is fast-paced as the various subplots rotate but move forward until they are cleverly tied together in an intelligent finish. Readers will appreciate this strong early twentieth century thriller while seeking Ms. Eccles previous solo historical, THE SHAPE OF SAND.

Reduced Circumstances
Vincent H. O'Neil
9780312369668 $22.95

Having survived MURDER IN EXILE, Florida, fact checker Frank Cole also works as a dispatcher at the Midnight Taxi Service. One of the cabdrivers Billy Lee tells Frank about picking up a teenage boy near a bunch of blue lights; apparently the cops were moonlighting working a drug bust. Frank thinks nothing of the story until Billy fails to show up to work and several people that include Ritzy Atlanta private investigator Curtis Winslow, two slick alleged Alabama bounty hunters (an illegal activity in Florida), and a cute underage female claiming to be the girlfriend seek the passenger, Dennis Taylor AKA Dennis Sharp.

Always curious, Frank checks the facts into Taylor-Sharp and learns of some strange activities involving the lad including apparent illegal con games. Soon afterward, a corpse is found containing a Midnight Taxi Service map. As Frank continues to make inquires in between dispatching and losing strength contests to his girlfriend Beth Ann, the case takes even odder spins as the target of everyone's affection is dead yet the players keep coming around with more questions.

Frank is a strong central character who keeps the interesting mystery focused even with his asides with Beth Ann. The support cast at the taxi company and those seeking Dennis add depth to this fine Florida Panhandle thriller. Readers will enjoy Frank's efforts as he checks the facts while an entourage badgers him for information.

Oracle Lake
Paul Adam
9780312370251 $24.95

The Dalai Lama had lived in exile for four decades in McLeod Ganj, India, but has just died. His loyal followers try to buy time so that they can find his reincarnation before the Chinese government suppresses their effort because they do not want the child found. However, British photojournalist Maggie Walsh hears rumors of the demise and immediately flies to the Indian village to confirm the report.

Maggie joins Tibetan exiles seeking the next Dalai Lama although China has shut down the border into and out of Tibet. Anyone breaching the border will be killed while the Chinese deadly Public Security Bureau cracks down on Tibetan nationalists. Still Buddhist monks secretly enter their homeland to consult the oracle lake to determine the location of the reincarnation.

The search for the reincarnated Dalai Lama, the related Himalayan locales and some insight into Tibetan Buddhism bring freshness to an exciting thriller in which readers will know what next will occur to the living dangerous heroine. The story line is fast-paced as the monks and the Chinese agents seek the chosen one with differing thoughts as to what each side will do if they achieve their objective. Fans of entertaining thrillers in foreign locations will want to join the hunt for the Dalai Lama at ORACLE LAKE.

Eve Kenin
Dorchester Shomi
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780505527097 $6.99 1-800-481-9191

The Second Noble War eradicated over a third of the human population. Those who survived the hostilities still suffer from the ordeal as the earth remains a bleak dark planet with some areas turned into dead zones in which no human life can survive and many others into vast wastelands where few live.

Trucker Raina Bowen lives for one thing only: revenge. Affluent businessman with protective and influential ties with the White House Duncan Bane assaulted Raina when she was a youngster. She plans to return his gift of abuse. As she travels to the Northern Waste, Raina is abetted by the Wizard, a detached soldier for hire. Bane knows she is coming so he sends his mercenaries to kill or better yet if possible capture Raina.

The bleak environs will have the audience feels they have been transported into a post apocalyptic realm where a Davidette vs. Goliath encounter is coming. Raina is a terrific protagonist who holds the tale together as she thirsts for revenge against Bane (great name for an evil person – ask Batman) while falling in love with her silent ally Wizard. Fans of a surviving earth thriller will appreciate this fine saga with the caveat that a love subplot is a silver lining for romance readers.

Marianne Macusi
Dorchester Shomi
9780505526957 $6.99

New York computer programmer Skye Brown fears going to sleep even with her boyfriend Craig sharing her bed as she worries that she may be losing her mind. Every night she vividly dreams that she is the freedom fighter Mariah Quinn living in a devastated post apocalyptic world. When she awakens from her nocturnal activity in her "cozy" apartment, Skye feels exhausted as if she lived the events she dreamed of.

However, as the dreams turn even more frightening and somehow realistic if possible, a stranger insists that this other fantasy realm is her real world and she is the stranger in New York; whereas Skye claims not so and that New York is her home. The man further asserts Mariah betrayed her people when she fled; her people need her back leading the fight for freedom or they will certainly fail.

This tense scary thriller asks the question what is reality. Skye is a terrific protagonist who holds the tale together for the most part with her terrified first hand accounts of her dreams vs. her mundane life working in Soho and living in the Upper West Side. Inside a complex action-packed story line, fans will wonder along with the beleaguered programmer whether she is insane but as Skye or perhaps with a Twilight Zone twist as Mariah. This is a superb one sitting character driven tale as the heroine ponders how realistic the wasteland that haunts her is.

Rising Wind
Cindy Holby
9780843958652 $6.99

In 1746 ten years old Connor Duncan fled the Highlands after Culloden. He quickly adjusted to the New World environs and now years later as a scout leads the arrogant stupid British soldiers through the wilderness to Fort Savannah. However, putting up with boorish military behavior seems easy to Connor when he thinks about his other traveler. He wants the "Virgin Widow" Carrie Murray, the colonial governor's niece, but knows the gentle woman is off limits to a frontier ruffian like him; as he believes she is better off with the inane aristocratic officers.

However, Carrie is attracted to the rugged outdoorsman whose wilderness skills have kept them alive even when held prisoner by Indians. As each step seems increasingly more dangerous and the British behave foolishly, Carrie knows she must convince Duncan they belong together before they reach the fort as he will probably vanish back into the woods soon after they reach their destination.

The latest Wind Colonial romance (see WIND OF THE WOLF, CROSSWINDS, WINDFALL and FORGIVE THE WIND, etc.) is the best historical in the series as the audience will feel the danger while trekking the wilderness with the lead couple. The story line is action-packed and Carrie and Connor are wonderful heroes, but it is the vivid colonial Georgia setting filled with wild beauty and deadly graphic violence that makes the tale such a strong entry as the audience will feel they have traveled back to the mid eighteenth century to a world where as H. Rap Brown said: "violence is American as cherry pie" (aside not apple pie).

Lawless, Texas
Bobbi Smith
9780843958492 $6.99

In 1870 Harley King and his gang take refuge in Lawless, Texas where he kills the sheriff. A desperate law abiding rancher sends for famous Jace Madison; renowned for hunting down the outlaws who killed his fiancee and bringing them to justice.

Jace arrives in town planning to bring law and order to Lawless, starting with dispatching the King gang. However, he is distracted when he meets stable owner Sammie Preston, who wears men's clothing, but he sees past her disguise. As they fall in love and gain support from the frightened reluctant townsfolk, a High Noon showdown is coming to Lawless because King will never let go of his throne without a fight to the death.

This is an entertaining straightforward western romance starring two heroes and a vile villain. Each side is supported by stereotypical secondary characters, whose prime roles are to bring out the attributes either of the champions or the desperado. LAWLESS, TEXAS belongs to the showdown between the knights in shining armor, Jace (think of Gary Cooper) and Sam vs. the bad guy Harley with the town being the stake at their HIGH NOON confrontation.

The Way Life Should Be
Terry Shaw
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781416563129 $14.00 1-800-223-2336

After a long absence, Josh Quinn, his wife Maria and his son return to his home town of Stone Harbor, Maine where he intends to run the family owned newspaper The Stone Harbor Pilot. The town is not as he remembers it as condos and mini-mansions for the yuppie set are everywhere and the regulars feel that they are being squeezed out. The murder count is at zero since the last one was in the 1960's but that changes when Paul Stanwood is murdered at Sullivan Park, a place where gays in the closet congregate.

Paul was John's best friend and he knows that Paul was concerned that Police Chief Al Sears was cracking down on the gays; John feels some guilt and culpability as he exposed the names of the men in the newspaper. John doesn't trust Sears to reliability investigate so he is determined to find out who killed his best friend. That investigation will expose unethical land deals, insider information, and put he and his family in danger from a killer who knows that John eventually will learn the truth if he keeps digging.

This is Terry Shaw's first whodunit and in is this reviewer's opinion he will prove a star in the mystery galaxy. The storyline is exciting with the dark secrets of a small town slowly peeled away and the characters are so well developed readers will feel as if they know them. John is Don Quixote who prints the truth in his paper, but in matters close to his heart he is innocent as he judges people by what they say and looks no further.

Into the Deep
Robert Rogers with Stanley Finger
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781589973787 $13.99 1-800-323-9400

After a summer of drought on the Plains, the heavy rain during the Labor Day weekend of 2003 was considered a blessing by most people even if it dampens some of the outdoor activities. In Liberty, Missouri, Robert and Melissa Rogers and their four young children (eight years old Makenah Alexandra, three years old Nicholas Adam, Downs syndrome six years old Zachary Seth and adopted special needs child twenty-one month Alenah YenWing) attend the wedding of Melissa's Uncle Mark in Wichita, a 200 mile drive. After the ceremony they head home with the torrent getting worse. Near Jacob Creek, a "river" floods the road. Melissa and the kids drown while Robert survives as he says "by the grace of God" washing him away. His faith already strong becomes even deeper as he mourns his loss, but knows his loved ones are in a better place walking with God.

This is a powerful true story of how faith in God sustained Robert and continues to do so. Readers will admire him and wonder how he can still trust in the Lord following the tragedy as he obviously loved his family deeply. Readers who appreciate a well written inspirational true life story from the heart and soul will cherish "one man's story of how tragedy took his family but could not take his faith".

Water Logic
Laurie J. Marks
Small Beer Press
176 Prospect Ave, Northhampton, Ma. 01060
9781931520232 $16.00

The Sainnites defeated the Shaftali in the war that devastated the balance between the elementals (see FIRE LOGIC and EARTH LOGIC). Whereas victorious General Clement wants a peaceful adjustment in the land her army occupies so her people and the vanquished can recover and prosper and the elementals can get back to the normal logical balance, the Shaftali forge a government seeking peace.

However, not everyone on the losing side wants the end of the war even with the Shaftali G'deon Karis agreeing to terms with Clement. Some of those who lost their vaunted positions of power launch a counter insurgency against the invaders and those they call traitors. Clement's Shaftali lover Seth is no longer just a field doctor as he as a member of the new Council tracks down the assassin who tried to kill Karis and the fire witch Zanja na'Tarwein assumes the water elemental brought her back two centuries to save her world of the future, but failed to give her a means to communicate with her peers two hundred years from now.

The third elemental logical fantasy is a fabulous entry that continues the tale of a world at war that has led to imbalances threatening its' existence. Readers will admire Laura J. Marks ability to move back and forth between her three prime subplots with two superb threads interrelated to the war and its tentative peace while the third even better segment mixes the fire witch with water. This series continues to be one of the best epic fantasies on the market today although the audience should read the previous tales first to see how Clement, Karis, Seth, and others got to this point and to better understand the WATER LOGIC.

Scots on the Rocks
Mary Daheim
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780060566531 $23.95 1-800-242-7737

February is an extremely slow month for a Washington State B&B so to escape the weather and her abrasive mother, innkeeper Judith McMonigle Flynn, her spouse former cop Joe, her cousin Serena "Renie" Jones and her husband Dr. Bill travel to remote Scottish Grimloch Castle. The guys go off fishing but the gals, following an explosion, stumble over the corpse of local Harry Gibbs.

Unable to mind her business, Judith investigates. She learns the victim was a father and married to a wealthy oil heiress, whose first husband also died strangely. With Renie's help, Judith inquires into whether the wife could be a black widow although other suspects surface. While the locals close rank and tell the sleuthing Americans nothing, Joe and Bill fail to return to the castle. Worried about their husbands as others die mysteriously, Judith believes a die in the wool serial killer is at work, but no motive surfaces.

The latest B&B amateur sleuth takes the crew across the Atlantic where the brisk Scottish locale with a potential ghost amidst the ancient castle energizes the long running series in spite of the numerous local support players including the victim and the prime suspects being stereotypes. Still the whodunit is fun to follow especially when the cousins worry about their missing in action husbands while more homicides occur. Fans of the B&B will want to join Judith and Renie as they drink tea and Canadian whiskey (Renie is still quite a character) while solving their latest case.

Now and Forever
Ray Bradbury
9780061131561 $24.95

"Somewhere A Band Is Playing". A suitcase is tossed off a moving train followed by James Cardiff jumping off next. He sees a perfect little town with buildings painted fresh, lawns mowed properly and everything seemingly built to perfection. However there are some strange things about the place including the fact there are no children while the cemetery's gravestones have dates of birth but no dates of death. The inhabitants don't age and come from different eras and places and stay forever young. Cardiff returns home with a decision about his future to make. This is a magical tale about a town where no body dies or grows ill. Readers will thoroughly enjoy the fully developed characters who befriend a wandering writer.

"Leviathan '99". In the year 2099 Ishmael journeys to Cape Kennedy to become an astronaut on an interstellar flight. His roommate is the sentient like spider Quell who came from the far islands of the great Andromeda Nebula to learn. They board the ship Cetus 7 captained by a blind man. They are to go on a journey of years tracking and charting three comets. The comet Leviathan blinded the captain and now he intends to destroy the comet. He alone believes will hit earth and destroy it despite what the scientists say. His obsession makes him ignore a ship that escaped after being trapped in Leviathan and made him ignore a mother's plea to find her missing son on a space pod. This homage to Herman Melville is destined to be a classic.

These two fabulous novellas show the vastness and the range of talent of this grandmaster as he scribes a whimsical fantasy and a science fiction version of Moby Dick in space.

A Killer's Kiss
William Lashner
9780061143465 $24.95

Late at night in Philadelphia, two PPD detectives visit District Attorney Victor Carl at his house. Someone shot and killed Dr. Wren Denniston at his home in exclusive Chestnut Hill; a million plus dollars is missing. The two cops know that the victim's wife Julia was Carl's former fiancee.

Already a person of interest, Carl's alibi turns him into the prime suspect as he is courting Julia at his apartment. Stunned Carl wonders if his beloved Julia has set him up to take the fall though when it comes to her he still thinks with his lower head. Although officially he needs to stay out of the investigation, Carl makes inquiries not to prove to the cops he did not commit the crime but to establish her innocence; soon he develops a long list of people including his Julia at the top with motives to kill Denniston.

Julia is terrific as a femme fatale who plays Carl perfect in this superb thriller. The story line is fast-paced driven by Carl who begins to conclude that all she needs is love to set him up yet cannot stop himself from making mistake after mistake when it comes to her. Filled with twists and red herrings, William Lasher provides a great character study mindful of classic tales like the Maltese Falcon and DOA. Carl needs to believe that Julia came to him out of love although the evidence when his brain receives enough blood overwhelmingly speaks otherwise.

The Intruders
Michael Marshall
9780061235023 $24.95

Former LAPD cop turned author Jack Whalen and his wife advertising executive Amy left Southern California to live in the Seattle suburbs. One seemingly uneventful day high school sports friend Gary Fisher calls from Chicago to ask Jack to do him a favor. The lawyer says he tracked Jack from his book and would like Jack to investigate the brutal murders of thirty-seven year old Gina Anderson and her son Joshua in their Seattle home; the house was trashed and the husband a lecturer at the nearby community college vanished.

Jack agrees to take the case, but when he calls his wife who is in Seattle on business, the hotel desk clerk says she has not checked in and she fails to answer her cell phone. Concerned he travels to Seattle to find Amy has vanished.

In Portland, a nine years old girl also disappears, but is found a few miles away. She shares visions with Jack, who digs deeper into a cesspool in search of his wife. Soon all three scenarios will connect at the heart of Jack's soul.

THE INTRUDERS affirm Michael Marshall's winning of the Philip K. Dick. Award (see THE STRAW MEN) as this action-packed thriller filled with twists will keep readers on the edge throughout. Jack is a wonderful beleaguered hero who starts off by quickly realizing he don't know jack even about himself and as he investigates realizes each new clue proves he knows even less than he thought. The audience needs to set aside plenty of time as 392 pages is a one sitting suspense read.

The Way Life Should Be
Christina Baker Kline
9780060798918 $24.95

Thirty-three years old Angela Russo hates her boring job, but that is not why she feels her life stinks. The single Manhattanite detests the bunch of losers she has been set up with and vows to never accept a blind date again. Her passion is Italian cooking, but she never bakes anything except her sweaters. On the office bulletin board is a magazine picture of a cottage on coastal Maine that just adds to Angela's belief that there must be more to life than cement.

Surfing at work, Angela clicks on an ad Do Soulmates Exist? That takes her to a dating website "MaineCatch,". She finds Rich, a thirty-five-year-old sailing instructor living alone on Mount Desert island. She makes contact and they start to communicate. When she loses her job, she joins her ideal man on his paradise island, but he fails to hold up. Angela decides to stay and make a life for herself here. She rents a rundown cottage and starts teaching Italian cooking to excited local students as she creates a recipe for a new life.

The key to this fine character study is the Italian cooking that refreshes the overly used urbanite finding happiness in a rustic setting; in fact the story line could have reversed itself from rural to city and easily work. Instead of easily adjusting Angela struggles with the differing lifestyle than what she has lived or imagined. However, the cooking coming from her grandma's recipes bring a unique element to the eclectic islanders as the heroine makes friends due to her skill and passion for Italian cuisine even as she feels for the most part like a fish out of water. Fans will root for Angela as she learns what she though was THE WAY LIFE SHOULD BE is not, but what is the way life should be is what you bring to the table for others to partake.

The Burnt House
Faye Kellerman
9780061227325 $25.95

During the morning rush hours, a commuter plane leaving Burbank Airport crashes into a Granada Hills apartment building; all forty-seven passengers die. The country is stunned with most people assuming the World Trade center scenario on a smaller scale.

LAPD Police Lieutenant Peter Decker leads the investigation while the media and public demand instant answers. He and his wife Rina Lazarus dig deep to determine who and what caused the crash; why more corpses are in the rubble than on the passenger list; and finally what happened to flight attendant twenty-eight-year-old Roseanne Dresden, whose husband Ivan says she was on the tragic flight and her name is on the manifesto, but her body is not.

The latest Decker-Lazarus police procedural is an exhilarating fast-paced thriller that starts off with the horrific crash and never slows down until the final twists. The action keeps coming throughout as the lead couple struggles with all three interrelated mysteries while the country fears further incidents; the media and the government keep the pressure high to resolve the case. Although plausibility and critical coincidence is higher than the federal debt, fans of the series will enjoy the return of the pair as they work a complex convoluted case.

Sweet Revenge
Diane Mott Davidson
9780060527334 $25.95

Goldy Schulz's catering business is booming as she has twenty– five events between December first and Christmas. On the way to the MacArthur's house to finalize the event she is catering, Goldy sees someone she believed has been dead for six months; the woman who killed her abusive ex-husband the Jerk. Sandee Brisbane had cause because he raped her when she was a teenager but everyone believed she perished in the blaze. When she tells her husband, a police officer he believers she saw someone who looked like Sandee because nobody could have gotten out of that fire even though her bones were never found.

At a library event she is catering she thinks she sees Sandee again but loses sight of her when the head librarian finds the body of ex-D.A. Drew Wellington who tried to cover up his DUI and his being in the car with a nubile minor. One of Drew's business acquaintances is also found dead with his head bludgeoned. Goldie thinks the two murders are connected and she starts investigating and uncovers some very ugly secrets people hide in their closets.

Diane Mott Davidson is one of the premier writers of culinary mysterious of this decade and after readers finish one of her books, they come away hungry for food and the next tale. Goldy needs to know the truth about the alleged rebirth of Sandee and the murders. Once the motive becomes clear, readers will feel no sympathy for the victims. SWEET REVENGE is a satisfying and tasty treat.

A Serial Affair
Natalie Dunbar
Silhouette Romantic Suspense
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373275403 $4.99

Heeding family and work demands, FBI violent crimes expert Marina Santos ended her relationship with Chicago police department Lieutenant Reed Crawford. He never understood why and for that matter looking back she does not know either.

When Elliot Washington became the latest mutilated young castrated male victim of a sadistic serial killer, Chicago Mayor Dansinger demands resolution as his daughter was a friend of the deceased. A task force is formed with Reed and Marina on it. Their attraction could cause an inferno to match the infamous Chicago Fire, but both ignore their feelings as the case comes first. An expert at patterns, Marina begins to tie together the connection between the dead; each one seems to have voluntarily stepped into danger and she believes deserved punishment for a crime they committed. Still as they fall in love a second time, they must stop a killer before they pursue their feelings.

This is a terrific police procedural romance in which author Natalie Dunbar cleverly intertwines a serial killer investigation with a second chance at love subplot that emphasizes the importance of family. The story line is action-packed with a fabulous final twist that will stun the audience, but belongs to the lead couple who struggle to balance the case, their families, and love.

Line of Sight
Rachel Caine
9780373389728 $5.50

The graduates believe that the safest place in the world is their alma mater, the Athena Academy near Glendale, Arizona. At least FBI Agent Katie Rush thought that was true until she receives the call that two students Teal Arnett and Lena Poole were abducted while going to the movies.

Katie immediately heads to Arizona where she meets psychic Stefan Blackman, who insists he left Los Angeles because he has mentally connected to one of the victims. Although attracted to Stefan a Venice Beach street musician, Katie wonders what exactly his con is. Still his information seems accurate so she hesitantly takes a chance that he is the genuine article. He seems the only person capable of finding the girls so she can save their lives. At this point Katie is unaware that there is a bigger stake than just these young pawns.

The good news is that the Athena Academy tales that were a key reason the now defunct Bombshell imprint was so much fun is back; the great news is that the first return is as good as the previous entries. The story line is action-packed, but it is the cast that turns LINE OF SIGHT into a terrific paranormal romantic suspense. The captivating Stefan is a chip (make that a peanut) off the old block as he shares visions with his mom. While Katie is obstinate once she is on a case; even her superior recognizes her qualities which he worries will one day prove lethal to her. Fans will welcome the return of the Athena Academy graduates as the opening gamut in what looks like will be a fabulous miniseries

Strip Search
William Bernhardt
Ballantine Trade Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780345470195 $25.95 1-800-726-0600

In Las Vegas, a serial killer leaves behind torn off body parts and mathematical formulas written with the victim's blood. LVPD is stymied so police chief Robert O'Bannon knows who he needs to assist lead homicide detective Barry Granger over the objection of the lieutenant an his own concern that she is the lesser of two evils. He rehires former police profiler behaviorist Susan Pulaski, who he once fired, to uncover the identity of this maniac.

Robert warns Susan not to alienate Barry, but she knows that is impossible as he hates her. He also tells her to keep his autistic son Darcy out of the investigation as he has not forgiven her for using him in the past (see DARK EYE). Susan believes Darcy who is a numerical patterns savant can interpret the bloody messages left behind at each grisly crime scene. With Darcy on Susan's side and Granger not, the psychopath continues his numerical rampage.

This exhilarating but dark and vividly violent (don't eat just before reading this novel) police procedural sequel hooks the audience with the first coded formula and never slows down even with extended cul de sac sidebars vaguely related to the prime serial killer plot. The story line flows with blood as the killer keeps rolling sevens while Granger and Pulaski shoot snake-eyes at each other. The climax will prove to be one of the year's best as advanced mathematical concepts have rarely been more fun to follow.

Don't Make a Scene
Valerie Block
9780345461858 $24.95

Overall thirty nine year old New Yorker Diane Kurasik seems contented with her life. She has enjoyed managing the Bedford Street Cinema and loves living in the Village. However as she nears forty, she loses her rent control apartment and has recently found her work boring.

A decade ago architect Vladimir Hurtado Padryn fled Cuba, but though he lives in New York and his wife in Havana with their seventeen years old son, she refuses to divorce him. When he and Diane meet they are attracted to one another; he honestly tells her his marital status. As she decides what the leading ladies of the screen would do in her predicament, she adheres to the principles of single female life in the Big Apple: DON'T MAKE A SCENE regardless of what she encounters and keep reminding herself that it is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS as she sleeps on the couches of friends and family, and finds an apartment that she cannot afford.

This entertaining look at relationships in New York uses film references as a form of chick lit asides that make for an amusing relationship drama. Diane is a terrific protagonist who believes life imitates classic movie scenes especially romantic ones though her version never quite works out. Fans will enjoy this fine Manhattan romp in which Diane knows that if she wants affordable living she needs to go out to the wastelands known as the other boroughs, Jersey, Long Island, or Westchester.

The Huntress
Susan Carroll
9780345490612 $13.95

By 1585 the Dark Queen Catherine de Medici knows her power is abating while Queen Elizabeth's is growing. Thus the Silver Rose Convent has flourished and the practitioners of the dark magic fears the prophecy of the earth daughter has begun especially when the comet soars across the sky. The Dark Queen knows she must act now or lose her power for eternity.

Faire Isle huntress, Catriona O'Hanlon is sent to England to find the notorious Book of Shadows and Meg, the Lady of Faire Isle. However to bring Meg home, Catriona must battle with the young girl's protective powerful mage Martin Le Lupe. Still Catriona is a huntress with skills beyond the norm. She finds Meg and much more as she learns of Catherine's plot to assassinate the Virgin Queen and falls in love with her natural enemy, Martin.

The forth Dark Queen sixteenth century romantic fantasy (see SILVER ROSE, THE COURTESAN, and THE DARK QUEEN) is a superb historical that will have the audience enthralled throughout. As with the previous tales, women are on the world stage (at least in a mystical Western Europe) as they battle for control. Fans will appreciate this terrific entry in a great saga as the heroine struggles between protecting her Lady, her queen, and her heart.

Force of Nature
Suzanne Brockmann
9780345480163 $21.95

One year ago Ric Alvarado left government law enforcement after a harrowing incident to become a private sleuth. His "Hutch" Annie Dugan becomes his assistant. In Sarasota, Florida, Lillian Lavelle hires Ric to find the missing roommate of her late daughter, dancer Brenda Quinn. Ric and Annie succeed, but the missing person case turns into a suicide run when Brenda tries to kill the son of crime lord Gordon Burns. Ric and Annie prevent the murders from occurring.

FBI agent in charge Jules Cassidy has an undercover agent hidden inside the Burns' mansion, but the Fed has not reported lately. Jules has reliable information that Burns plans to smuggle a terrorist into the country. He turns to Ric and Annie, who Burns owes, to uncover the truth from the dangerous inside.

FORCE OF NATURE is a fabulous romantic suspense tale that provides the audience with the continuing saga of openly gay Fed Jules and his love interest actor Robin Chadwick (see INTO THE STORM) and as well as the romance between "Starsky and Hutch". The story line is fast-paced and filled with action and passion although at times Suzanne Brockmann's heartfelt plea for gay rights can slow down the intense story line. Still Ms. Brockmann continues her Troubleshooter saga with a call for tolerance over ignorance.

Last Breath
Mariah Stewart
9780345492241 $19.95

Internationally renowned archeologist Dr. Daria McGowan is euphoric that Howe University has provided with the first public exhibit of the incredible find of her great grandfather. In 1908 in Asia Minor, Alistair McGowan located the lost ancient city of Shandihar. The artifacts he brought home a century ago will finally be on display in Pennsylvania.

As Daria prepares the exhibit, she notices some of the more valuable items listed in the meticulously accurate catalogue are missing. She turns to FBI Agent Connor Shields, whom she previously met for assistance. Connor has not forgotten her and sees this as an opportunity to see where their attraction leads them. They follow leads to the new owners of the artifacts, but in each case that person was brutally slain in a ritual killing with the artifact gone. Connor assumes that a Middle East based cult sworn to die to protect and in this case recover the treasures of the lost city are the killers, which means Daria is on the hit list.

The latest Shields FBI romantic suspense thriller (see LAST WORD and LAST LOOK) is a thrilling whodunit that grips the audience from the onset when the person in the shadows vows to correct his failure (in 1908) and never slows down until the finish. The story is a fast-paced cat and mouse struggle between the lead pair and a diabolical dedicated killer with a lucid objective to cleanse the mistake of the last century. Mariah Stewart is at her best with the final Shields saga.

Stolen in the Night
Patricia MacDonald
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9780743269568 $24.95

The DeGraff family always went on a summer vacation camping in a small New Hampshire town until tragedy struck. One night when Tess was nine and Phoebe thirteen, a man cut a hole in their tent and abducted the teen. Phoebe was found two days later dead, having been raped before he killed her. When Tess describes the invader to the sheriff, they arrest well known sexual pervert Lazarus Abbott. He was convicted solely on Tess' testimony; when his appeals ended, the state executed him.

Lazarus' mother never believed her son kidnapped, raped and killed Phoebe. Twenty years of trying to prove he did not commit any of those horrific crimes leads her to attorney Ben Ramsey who persuades Governor Putnam to approve DNA testing. The test proves conclusively that Lazarus at least did not rape Phoebe. The case is reopened with the townsfolk angry at Tess for sending an innocent person to the gallows. However, she realizes if Lazarus was not the killer, a clever murderer still lives free. When her son Erny is abducted she fears history will repeat itself.

Patricia MacDonald affirms once again she is one of the grandmasters of psychological suspense with this strong thriller that fans of Mary Higgins Clark and Sandra Brown will relish. The protagonist is a strong person who feels guilt that her testimony led to an apparent wrongful state execution yet has a burning need deep in her gut to uncover the identity of her sister's killer. Tess is ignorant that this sheep in wolf's clothing watches her every move as he hides in plain sight inside the cloak of nicety.

When She Was Bad
Jonathan Nasaw
9781416534167 $25.00

As a very young child Lily De Vries was abused sexually by both her parents so was given to her grandparents who loved and raised her. She developed disassociate identity disorder (DID) once known as multiple personality disorder. She is being treated by psychiatrist Dr. Irene Cogan who was kidnapped by another DID Ulysses Maxwell; he tortured her, but she was fortunate to escape because he raped and killed her as he did with most of his victims, strawberry blondes who looked like his sexual abuser: his former elementary school teacher who got custody of him.

When Lily learns her grandparents were killed in an automobile accident she becomes a new alter ego: biker chick Lilith. Dr. Cogan and her friend Pen track her down and bring her to Alan Corder's Institute where Ulysses is being confined. When he sees Lilly he falls in love but his alter Max comes out and is interested in Lily now Lilith. Both are deemed non-violent and are invited to Dr. Corder's home for a party in honor of Ulysses' birthday. The doctor thinks he is dealing with Lily and Ulysses instead of Max and Lilith; Max takes advantage of that misconception to get even with the doctor and to wipe out the two psych attendants before they go on the run. Irene and Pen hope to find them before Lily does something that will have her end up in prison.

Jonathan Nasaw provides a terrific psychological thriller with quite a spin in his latest, perhaps best work to date. Readers will feel sorry for the abuse the two protagonists suffered even though the audience condemns Ulysses' actions. Readers and her doctor have hope for Lily because except for Lilith her egos are passive and don't want to hurt anyone. Mr. Nasaw takes his fans to the max with the tense WHEN SHE WAS BAD

A Perfect Game
Rick Mofina
9780786018482 $6.96

Everyone who knows Sister Anne thinks she's a saint for her compassion and good works concerning the homeless, the mentally ill, prisoners, and families in crisis. The homeless adore her for her non-judgmental attitude and the community as a whole believes she is a truly good and moral person. It comes as a shock when this good person is killed in her home by a man who knows her and wants something he believes she has.

Seattle Mirror reporter Jason Wade scoops all the other news people when he reports on the weapon, a knife stolen from the soup kitchen where Sister Anne worked. Slowly he gathers information from a variety of sources that a strange man in the soup kitchen talked with Sister Anne who tried to minister to him and he made her sad. What Jason doesn't know is that his father is connected to this case by the incident that made him quit SPD or that an innocent child with a brain tumor in need of surgery will be kidnapped by this killer in order to get what he wants from the child's mother. The reporter remains clueless and time is running out for an innocent child.

Thriller writers like Rick Mofina make the genre something special. Jason goes from being a disgraced journalist to the man who keeps getting the inside breaking story. It is hard to accept anyone killing a nun who everyone believes is a saint but as Jason finds out, there is no evidence of her existence prior to her entering the order. The answer to the mystery lies in the nun's past and Jason, a strong, kind yet vulnerable tough guy doesn't even know where to start looking.

The Elves of Cintra
Terry Brooks
Del Rey
c/o Random House Trade Group Publicity
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345484116 $26.95 1-800-726-0600

Five decades into the future earth is a terrible place to live as pollution is everywhere with plague being the norm. Most humans live inside fortifications never venturing outside the walls if they want to live as human predators are everywhere, but along with these "once-men" are powerfully magical evil Void demons.

A few good souls remain with the strength to keep dwindling humanity safe, but these Knights of the Word are realistic as they know they are slowly losing the fight. Still they adhere to their pledge so that the remaining twosome Logan Tom and Angel Perez risk death or worse protect children. However, they are losing the battle of Seattle where they and a child with magic Hawk try to keep the Ghosts children of the street safe from the demons and their once-men minion. Hawk vanishes; ending up in the mythical Garden of Life. However, there is no time to worry about the young practitioner as Logan and Angel split up in hopes of saving at least one group. Logan assisted by Cat the lizard girl lead one horde of kids out of the city; Angel takes another group into hiding in the nearby woods where they meet Kirisina Cintra elf hiding there also. Hopes are slim, but Kirisin offers an idea, find the blue Elfstones that will lead him to the powerful Loden Stone.

The second Word and Void fantasy thriller (see ARMAGEDDON'S CHILDREN) is a terrific bleak epic tale of an earth destroyed by human excesses especially the inability to see beyond the immediate bottom line of the "it's the economy stupid" philosophy. The post-apocalyptic world seems genuine even with magic working as the audience will accept Terry Brooks' theory that we of today killed the earth. Thus in this nightmarish future, readers quickly understand the courage of Logan and Angel, who could easily walk away to a safer nicer lifestyle.

Deadly Vintage
Elaine Flinn
Perseverance Press
c/o John Daniel & Co.
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781880284872 $14.95 1-800-662-8351

She hasn't been involved in any murder investigation for awhile and has found friends and family in Carmel, California with the jewel being her niece Emma. Business is going well at Treasures Antiques which Molly Malone manages; now she is branching out as an interior decorator with her first client Carla Jessop, owner of Bello Lago Winery who wants her to redesign the showroom.

However, Carla's husband Todd doesn't want Molly to have the job because she wasn't prestigious enough. He tries to scam her and when she doesn't take the bait, he gets into an argument with her at a family dinner and she throws a glass of wine in his face. Carla's father who hates Todd applauds the action and invites Molly to a special family dinner at his estate and she accepts. She is next to Todd when a shot rings out and he is killed. Carmel Police Chief Kenneth Reynolds and Molly are considered persons of interest by the Monterey County Sheriff's office.

Elaine Flynn is talented writer who combines a great mystery with a family drama. The heroine has had some bad things happen to her mostly by caused herself but in spite of it all she has been through, she not only has to gumption to start over professionally, she take on raising Emma's case when her sister dumped her on Molly. She feels like Emma's mother and fears that the light shining on her past will mean Emma is taken away from her by so called meaningful individuals. Thus the courageous Molly's understands her challenge is to solve the case ASAP.

Face Down O'er the Border
Kathy Lynn Emerson
Perseverance Press
9781880284919 $14.95

In August of 1577 Catherine Russell, Lady Glenelg, wakes up at the bottom of the steps in Glenelg House in Cannongate, Scotland only to see her mother-in-law Jean Ferguson dead. Nobody is nearby leaving Catherine to wonder if she killed Lady Russell. She has no chance to ponder the question because Annabel MacReyolds, retired intelligence gatherer, arrives and whisks her out of the house before anyone can accuse her of murder.

She makes arrangements to send her seven year old daughter Cordell to her sister-in-law and friend Susanna Appleton with her trusted servant Avise. Susana gets word that Catherine is in trouble and with her lover Nick races to Scotland to try to find her. Annabel has done a good job hiding them so that even the clever Susanna cannot find them. Catherine is determined to get her son away from his position with the eleven year old monarch. They intend to meet up with Cordell and escape Scotland and England because her eight years old Gavin doesn't want to be a noble and the entire family wants the freedom to choose their own destiny. Unknowingly, Susanna has something to make Catherine's dream come true while trying to find out who killed Catherine's mother in-law and framed her.

Kathy Lynn Emerson writes some of the best Elizabethan mysteries on the market today. Her historical details give the reader a sense of time and place. The idioms used by the characters (see glossary) adds authenticity to the period without distracting from the murder mystery, which is cleverly played out on several levels including finding Catherine, figuring out a way to get her son out of his position at court, meeting up with Cordell and figuring out who killed Jean. FACE DOWN O'ER THE BORDER is a electrifying historical mystery filled with romance and political intrigue.

When the Bluebonnets Come
John J. Dwyer
Bluebonnet Press
P.O. Box 1105, Norman, OK 73070-1105
9780976822417 $11.99

Battle lines have been drawn in Cotton Patch, Texas; between those who insist the economy comes first with nothing else mattering and those who feel religion and family values matter too. The outside contractors with state and local government approval plan to build a "family entertainment complex". Religious leaders like Pastor Ethan Shanahan claim "family" is a front for gambling and horse-racing.

Ethan's home schooled (perhaps more accurate is farm-schooled) eight year old daughter Katie loves her daddy who is the best person in the world, but she does not understand why his sudden concern. Meanwhile an arson campaign to shut up opposition religious leaders begins with the burning of churches whose pastors oppose the complex. Avarice is the fuel of the fire as Ethan refuses to bend to the dictates of the affluent who see more wealth, but not at the cost on the townsfolk. Can one courageous soul prevent the inevitable abuse of power by those who yield it? Katie thinks so as that last brave person standing is her daddy.

This fine inspirational tale contains a strong message that "to err is human; to forgive is divine". The story is told thorough Katie's memory as she, now a mom, looks back over the decades to when she was a child and learned a key life lesson that God is there for everyone. The adult filter is a clever device that sifts the recollections making Katie the child seems much older than her years because Katie the mom tells the tale.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses
Nancy Madore
Harlequin Spice
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373605163 $13.95

To an observer the charming affluent twelve princesses seem to live perfect lives. Yet each of the dozen is discontented as if something is missing. They do not lack for power or loving caring husbands who covet them; yet they remain sad and depressed, but no one including the princesses knows why.

Desperate to find out why they are so despondent, a wizardess is brought to them to try to help the pretty princesses unravel what is the cause of their discontent. Soon each begins to understand their lack of self esteem as they fear telling their beloved their deepest needs. Encouraged to search for ways to satiate their passion for sexual intimacy, they begin to find contentment with their loving spouses.

Besides readers, Bullwinkle, Rocky and friends (think Fractured Fairy Tales) and The Brothers Grimm would be pleased with this charming adult version of the classic fairy tale. The fast-paced story line stars the pampered popular princesses who have major self esteem issues that leave them feeling unworthy of the sexy spouses who cherish and love them. Fans who appreciate something different in their romantic fantasy should try Nancy Madore, whose bewitching take on fairy tales (see ENCHANTED – EROTIC BEDTIME STORIES FOR WOMEN) proves she has the magic wand.

Dirty Harriet Rides Again
Miriam Auerbach
Harlequin Next
9780373881406 $5.50

In southern Florida everyone assumed that Harriet Horowitz lived a great life as a wealthy socialite attending all the top parties of the rich and famous. That impression changed in an instant when unable to take her spouse's abuse any longer, Harriet shot and killed her husband in front of 500 witnesses. She was acquitted though the media dubbed her DIRTY HARRIET.

Now she is a single private eye, who rides a motorcycle in the Everglades where she lives. The former Boca Raton babe attends the wedding of her two best friends, but someone kills the minister. She assumes it is a gay bashing incident since the bride and groom are males. The police suspect members of the Holy Rollers Motorcycle Club and Gospel Choir, but Harriet thinks otherwise. When a rabbi is murdered, her Israeli martial arts instructor, Lior Ben Yehuda becomes the prime suspect. DIRTY HARRIET knows the source of her lust would not have killed the religious leaders so she investigates.

Zany and definitely over the top, readers will welcome the exploits of Dirty Harriet as she rides the Everglades and the urban jungles of Southeastern Florida seeking to prove her friends and her fantasy lover are innocent. The story line is fast-paced and very amusing as Harriet's latest capers star a horde of eccentrics who make for a fun humorous jaunt.

Whose Number Is Up, Anyway?
Stevi Mittman
Harlequin Next
9780373881390 $5.50

In Syosset, Long Island interior designer Teddi Bayer is shopping when she finds a body in the King Kullen freezer. The police believe the victim died of natural causes as he was seeing a doctor on a health matter. Not long afterward the doctor is also found dead. Whereas Teddi believes the coincidence is too great for anything but foul play, her lover detective Drew Scoones thinks the opposite although he investigates.

However, Teddi, who has solved homicide mysteries before (see What GOES WITH BLOOD RED, ANYWAY; WHO MAKES UP THESE RULES, ANYWAY? and WHY IS MURDER ON THE MENU, ANYWAY?), makes her own inquiries. Meanwhile her mom keeps using I told you so as to why you never shop at chains; her daughter is angry at her because she wants Teddi and her daddy back together even though he tried to have her mom committed; Drew wants her to stay off the case; and her former spouse still spouts that she is "Long Island's Most Dangerous Decorator" as she designs a bowling alley and tries to avoid falling in the gutter.

The latest Teddi "anyway" amateur sleuth is an amusing Long Island whodunit. Teddi prefers investigating the case rather than deal with the demands of her two bread generations (mom and daughter) as facing a killer has proven easier than being caught by either of her female relatives. Fans will enjoy Stevi Mittman's lighthearted romp as Teddi's dysfunctional family reminds her whose life is hers anyway.

One Gentle Knight
Wayne Jordan
Kimani (harlequin)
9780373860272 $5.99

She came to the Barbados to reflect on the emptiness of her life since the tragedies occurred. He owns a sugar plantation on the island, but needed time to reflect on the empty nest syndrome that haunts him since the siblings he raised after their parents died have gone off to college. Strangers in the night exchanging glances (accolades to Sinatra), each feels the desire for the other. They fail to exchange names, but make love like there is no tomorrow.

However, in the morning light Carla Nevins finds her beloved stranger gone. Shayne Knight had to leave suddenly on business, but vows to return for the stranger he loves. However, when he returns to their love nest, she has left. Not long afterward, Carla learns she is pregnant so she decides to go back to Barbados to try to find the stranger to inform him although she plans to raise their child alone. Shayne thanks the heavens for a second chance, but must persuade the still hurt and distrusting Carla that he too fell in love before that night was through.

ONE GENTLE KNIGHT is an entertaining contemporary romance starring two likable protagonists who due to her pregnancy have a second chance at love. The lead couple is a wonderful duet as they fall in love even before they know any personal information. The support cast enhances the understanding of the prime stars while the audience also obtains a side of Barbados that the tourists normally do not see adding to a warm delightful Caribbean romance that spins beyond the second chance theme when Darius is born.

The Man From Her Past
Anna Adams
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373714353 $5.50

Five years ago, Cassie Warner was raped. Unable to cope, she divorced her spouse Van Haddon although she still loved him. Next she fled their hometown Honesty, Virginia unable to look at her family either. Before leaving she warned her father and her ex husband to not contact her.

Now with her seventy-three years old father Leo mentally ailing, Van contacts Cassie, who has come home from Washington state where she worked in a woman's shelter to help her father. However, she plans to avoid Van Haddon who she still loves because she cannot deal with his condemnation of her daughter Hope, a result of that violent act. As it is she knows the gossips will have a field day. However, Harmony is too small for Van and Cassie not to meet; as they still love one another, he wants her back, but must prove that her daughter is his too even if she was someone else's seed.

This is a character driven second chance at love filled with realistic protagonists suffering from anguish caused by the rape. Ironically, the result of that violent act is the aptly named Hope, a precocious little girl who executes her septuagenarian grandfather's matchmaking plan to bring her mom and her dad (in Hope's mind Van is dad) back together. Readers will appreciate this angst filled family drama.

Good With Children
Margot Early
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373714360 $5.50

Widower graphic artist Seamus Lee will do anything to help his four children move past the accidental death of their mother from a gun shot wound. Thus he takes his still grieving offspring to the Sultan Mountain School in Colorado for three months of survival skills training, where he hopes the outdoors will help them forget their pain.

The prime instructor of the Lee brood is Rory Gorenzi, daughter of the owner. She and Seamus are attracted to one another from the first meeting, but raising his family comes before any other relationships. Still when her father suffers a heart attack, Seamus remains at Rory's side to help her and her dad get through the crisis.

GOOD WITH CHILDREN is a well written family drama starring the five Lees all in different ways and phases grieving the loss of the matriarch due to a stunning self inflicted accident, which makes the loss even more difficult to cope with. Although a romantic relationship between Rory and Seamus never comes across as right at least at this time even if this is a SuperRomance, the struggles to move on and Rory's love for the Lees and her empathy and concern feel genuine. Fans of a deep character driven contemporary will appreciate Margot Early's fine tale.

Maybe, Baby
Terry McLaughlin
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373714384 $5.50

English expatriate associate movie producer Burke Elliot wants to refuse the trip, but knows that for him to do so is Hollywood suicide. Thus he leaves sunny Southern California to travel to wintry Montana in order to sign actress Nora Daniels to star in a movie.

Burke knows why he did not want to go had nothing to do with the weather. He fears his attraction for Nora, as he does not want a long term commitment at least at this time in his life. Besides which the object of his fantasies has recently given birth. However, nature takes its course when a winter storm strands him with her and her offspring. As they fall in love, Burke remains undecided as he has career plans that exclude a wife and child; so why can't he leave?

This is a fun Hollywood romance that takes the stars out of Southern California and somewhat isolates them (with some local eccentrics) in snowy Big Sky Country. The lighthearted romp entertains contemporary readers because of the changing relationship between the lead couple that goes through phases from denial to avoidance to maybe to totally. Terry McLaughlin provides a fine romance.

Bet Me
Debra Webb, Catherine Mann & Joanne Rock
9780373837151 $5.99

"The Ace" by Debra Webb. Las Vegas Police detective Clarissa is working undercover as a maid at casino hotel when she meets famous cyclist Luke. He offers her a deal to keep female fans away from him. They pretend to be married, which enables her to easily enter the VIP area currently off limits to her. However, when she tells him the truth about her profession and assignment, he tells someone else placing her life in danger.

"The Joker" by Catherine Mann. Kim masquerades as her cousin Ting while working a stolen diamonds case that leads her to Vegas' Great Wall Casino. However, her biggest concern is her former boyfriend Marc who poses as her boyfriend and he still calls her his "Princess".

"The Wildcard" by Joanne Rock. In an attempt to break up a prostitution abduction gang, Dorian pretends to be a call girl working the Johns at the Pompeii Hotel and Casino. FBI agent Simon Ramsey works as her backup. Having shared a tryst and police work with Simon before this collaboration she knows what to expect from this no bluffing risk taking joker.

These three police procedural romantic suspense thrillers are a sure bet to please sub-genre readers as the setting is exciting and the lead couples are enticing.

Mommy for a Minute
Judy Christenberry
Harlequin American
9780373751778 $4.99

Judge Robinson is very satisfied with the work carpenter Jack Mason did for him so he recommends him to his friend attorney Lauren McNabb. However, Jack arrives at the appointment at her Yellow Rose Lane apartment with his three-year-old Allison with him. Although she does not want a child around having raised her six siblings, Lauren hires Jack to fix her cabinets.

In spite of her vow of no more kids, Lauren likes precocious Ally. The tough attorney and the caring carpenter fall in love in spite of his initial animosity towards her as he fears his feelings; Jack refuses to pursue her although kissing her is incredible; he fears she will leave just like Ally's mother did and he will never allow anyone to hurt his daughter again.

Jack's reaction formation behavior towards Lauren seems too harsh for her to hire him as she is the customer and does not have to accept crap. Still MOMMY FOR A MINUTE is a fun tale as the two adults with personal vows that if adhered to means no personal relationship can occur yet they fall in love pushed by a matchmaking child.

Georgia on His Mind
Ann DeFee
Harlequin American
9780373751808 $4.99

In Georgetown, Yuppie friends, attorneys Winston Andrew Whittaker IV and Colby Wharton, enjoy their upscale singles life especially the women. However, they also like betting one another with weird stakes. Colby bets Win that he cannot survive living the "simple life" in Magnolia Bluffs, Georgia, for one month; the stipulation being only $200 in cash and no car credit cards. Win cannot resist the challenge accepts the wager. If he wins he makes partner.

In Magnolia Bluffs, Win obtains work as a shampoo girl at Kendrick "Kenni" McAllister's salon, Permanently Yours. As they work together, they fall in love. However, to win his beloved, Win must tell her the truth about himself; he fears his deception will destroy their relationship once he reveals who he is.

GEORGIA ON HIS MIND is a very humorous contemporary romance starring a male who seems like a fish out of sea when he invades the south and the woman who educates him that there is life outside the beltway. The story line is fast-paced even on the Connector as readers will laugh with the antics of the townsfolk who help Kenni educate Win.

Whirlwind Baby
Deborah Cowan
9780373294596 $5.50

In 1885 West Texas, rancher Jake Ross finds baby Molly dumped on his doorstep with a pleading note from the infant's mom saying she was dying with no family or friend nearby and had noticed his recent kindness to a distraught child. Jake tries to find a home for the baby, but fails. Instead he hires stranger Emma York, who claims to be a widow from up north, because she can gently quiet the crying youngster.

Jake and Emma are attracted to one another although he does not like her vague responses to his questions about her past and suffers some guilt over moving on past his late wife, which annoys his brother-in-law. Still Jake dreams of making love with Emma while believing he can protect the two females who recently turned his life upside down in a good way. Soon he will have a chance to test his hypothesis as her past has arrived in town.

Although the abandoned baby serving as a matchmaker is an ancient theme, fans will appreciate how skillfully talented Deborah Cowan refreshes the concept in her latest warm Whirlwind historical romance (see WHIRLWIND BRIDE, WHIRLWIND GROOM, and WHIRLWIND WEDDING). The lead couple is a fabulous pairing as she obviously is hiding something, but though he knows that he still believes she is great for Molly and soon concludes him too. Interestingly both feel guilt; he over his late wife and she for bringing trouble to two people she now loves. Readers will enjoy this whirlwind western romance.

Hard and Fast
Lisa Renee Jones
Harlequin Blaze
9780373793433 $4.99

Sports reporter Amanda Wright looks forward to covering the baseball season. Especially enticing is seeing Los Angeles Rays star pitcher, Brad Rogers in the locker room. Brad and Amanda are attracted to one another, but as she sees desire in his eyes, she detects a wariness to act upon it. She refuses to act on her feelings so as not to jeopardize her job.

Brad hides the fact that his pitching arm, which underwent surgery, has not fully healed. However, Amanda knows something is not quite right with his arm as she is the daughter of a sports doctor and has seen the signs before. Still she decides not to report the story that would affirm she is a legitimate sports reporter; however rumors of Brad's use of steroids make her reconsider her moral stand.

This entertaining baseball romance stars two likable characters whose attraction for one another interferes with their professional relationship. Amanda wonders if someone besides Brad had the injury would she report it while Brad would not even consider an exclusive with anyone else, but is tempted to tell her the truth. Fans will wonder whether this will end with a walk off homerun or a strikeout, as Amanda's rule of survival is don't play ball with the players and Brad's rule of survival is don't play ball with the reporters.

The Defender
Cara Summers
Harlequin Blaze
9780373793464 $4.99

In San Francisco, attorney Sadie Oliver attended the wedding that ended in murder. Her brother lies in a nearby hospital as the prime and only suspect although he fell over a railing and consequently was severely injured and her sister the secret bride vanished. The police also think Sadie abetted her siblings as they found her purse at the crime scene.

She asks defense attorney Theo Angelis to defend her sibling and potentially her. However she needs to assist him so she disguises herself as a male law student working for Theo. Every time he looks at her, she realizes he knows who she is as his eyes strip her.

As with the previous tales in the Tall, Dark and Handsome Angelis sibling miniseries (see THE COP and THE P.I) THE DEFENDER is a heated romantic suspense story as the action continues to a satisfying conclusion started when the murder and abduction occurred at the secret wedding. As their Aunt Cass knows fate has led her nephews to choose wisely; in this case Sadie and Theo make quite a daring couple. Although this tale can stand alone, fans will want to read the three books while looking forward to more of the Angelis saga as Cass has a son, niece and who knows besides Cara Summers who else in the wings.

The Tycoon's Son
Cindy Kirk
Harlequin Mediterranean Nights
9780373389629 $5.50

Single mom Trish Melrose knows the stakes as she waits in a Corfu Town in Greece bar to discus business with Theo Catomeris. Her small Miami based company Excursion Plus will have to cut loyal hard working staff if Elias Stamos does not renew her contract with his Liberty Line; he will only do so if his estranged son Theo renews his shore excursion contract with his dad's firm.

Although instantly attracted to Trish, Theo says no even to her offer of a donation to his foundation to protect wild horses. Still he agrees to meet his two half-sisters on the cruise liner Alexandra's Dream and finds his desire for Theo growing; she reciprocates even as she worries how her daughter Cassidy will react to a man in her life. As they fall in love, it is not just Greece or Florida at stake, it is her hiding the truth behind the donation as that was the other stipulation Elias demanded of her when he gave her the money to do so.

THE TYCOON'S SON is a warm contemporary international romance starring a too sweet female and a hunk who does not trust in non contract relationships as his parents deserted him when he was young. Theo and Trish make an interesting pairing because she struggles with ethics as her deal with Elias bothers her even before falling love, but to not do so means firing good people who deserves better. Her actions validate his belief that love is a con game. Fans will enjoy cruising the Mediterranean with this couple whose chance at more than a short fling is slim.

Helen Kirkman
Harlequin HQN
9780373772377 $6.99

In 876 Wareham, England, Mercia Princess Rosamund flees as the West Saxon army of foolish rival King Ceolfrith marches to destroy what is left of her side when she sees the iron chained man. Knowing what it is like to be a prisoner, having been incarcerated for three years by the Danish Viking army, she wants to help him if he still lives, but fears delaying her mission: insuring her sister Merriwen reaches Exeter safely.

She takes a chance on her freedom by gambling for his ownership and wins. Boda recovers and knows he lives due to Rosamund's nurturing. As they fall in love, she wonders if she can trust this warrior, who her younger sister adores like a safe older brother, but he is a mercenary who hides his true mission from the siblings he cherishes.

More a historical fiction of the events of the Dark Ages in which the Vikings used the squabble between two rival Saxon rulers in Mercia than a romance, fans will appreciate the depth of the story line. Rosamund is a brave person willing to risk death or captivity if it means Merriwen is safe. Boda is a former slave and "chained hell-thane" who finds his profession suddenly interferes with his desires. Helen Kirkman captures the attention of those readers who prefer transportation to the ninth century with the romantic subplot serving as a secondary support to the intrigue.

How To Lose An Extraterrestrial In 10 Days
Susan Grant
Harlequin HQN
9780373772414 $6.99

As a child on Planet Sandreem, the Captain abducted Eriff and insured his emotions were stripped from him so that he could be turned into a cold hearted killing machine mechanically enhanced as REEF, the universe's greatest assassin. His latest assignment is to kill Cavin Far Star in California, but Reef fails for the first time. Instead extraterrestrial Major Cavin and his fiancee State Senator Jana Jasper defeated the ET invaders. Cavin also hides Reef in the safest place he knows of in the entire galaxy, the suburban home of his fiancee's sister Evie Jasper Holloway, a divorced mother with children.

Evie is outraged that the killing machine that should be dead is placed with her and her family; she informs her future ET brother-in-law this will be for ten days no more. However, she begins to change her mind about Reef when he risks his life to save her and her children as the mob, the Feds, and the men in black assumes her new Internet chocolate business is a sweet laundering deal. As Reef and Evie fall in love, his handlers need their "perfect" killing machine back on the job, starting with killing the soccer mom and her brood.

The latest Jasper science fiction romance (see MY FAVORITE EARTHLING and YOUR PLANET OR MINE?) is a wonderful science fiction suspense tale as super killer and supermom fall in love. Reef is a fascinating protagonist who showcases how talented Susan Grant is as she changes him from vile villain to caring suburbanite. Ms. Grant scores another winning golden goal with this terrific outer space meets the burbs.

The Life of Reilly
Sue Civil-Brown
Harlequin HQN
9780373772049 $6.99

Physicist Lynn Reilly left the predatory world of research for the idyllic lifestyle of a teacher on Treasure Island. However, to her chagrin, she is not alone. Her Aunt Delphine has moved into her residence. That would not be the worst thing as Lynn loved her aunt, but the problem is that Delphine died five years ago; albeit she still looks great.

Delphine thinks Lynn's next door neighbor Reverend Jack Marks is perfect for her so she decides to do in her afterlife what she failed to achieve in her life, matchmake her stubborn niece with the pastor. Her actions lead Jack to think that Lynn is a lunatic when he overhears her yelling at no one to stop interfering in her life. Still with the island pet Buster the alligator assisting her, how can Delphine fail in her heavenly cause?

Chaos theory ensues when physics meets the afterlife in Sue Civil-Brown's amusing paranormal romance. Fans will laugh at the antics of Delphine abetted by Buster as tries to hook up the scientist who believes in the order of the Hawking Paradox of event horizons with the reverend who believes in heavenly miracles. With an eccentric support cast besides Buster and Delphine, fans of lighthearted romps will want to play poker with the Treasure Island crowd.

Almost Famous
Gina Wilkins
Harlequin NASCAR
9780373217762 $5.99

NASCAR driver Jake Henson takes refuge near the White River in Arkansas Ozarks National Forest; he is physically recovering from a boating accident that left him injured and his best friend dead. Next door to the cabin he borrowed is Stacy Carter, and her Yorkie Oscar; she borrowed her brother's cabin to escape the media who have made her, daughter of a notorious politician, into an amazon because she disarmed a thief.

Oscar introduces the temporary neighbors to one another. Each is instantly attracted, but both hides their history from one another as he believes she detests publicity and she assumes he will detest her roots. Besides this is a short fling in the hills. Neither expected love to meet them at the finish line, but though they must reveal what they concealed, they fear the relationship will end once the checkered flag is dropped.

ALMOST FAMOUS is a fun contemporary romance starring two celebrities taking a respite from fame. Jake and Stacy are likable characters while Oscar is cute as he believes he is a raging Doberman. Fans will enjoy the story of two people hiding critical parts of their resumes from their beloved.

Old Flame, New Sparks
Day LeClaire
Harlequin NASCAR
9780373217793 $5.99

Kellie Hammond mourns the death of her husband NASCAR Nextel Champion Jinx. However, as she buries her spouse, she learns he made a deal without consulting her as his business partner. He signed Lucas "Bad" Boyce to drive the Hammond Racing team car with the stipulation if he wins the championship he has the option to buy the controlling interest in the company.

Almost two decades ago, Lucas and Kellie had a fling. He moved on not knowing he left her pregnant. She married Jinx who raised Jamie as his own. As Lucas mentors Jamie, he and Kellie realize that youthful attraction still burns between them. She begins to wonder if she owes him the truth although she fears the reactions; however, as they fall in love someone seeking vengeance plans to use Jamie as an expendable pawn.

Although the theme of not knowing you sired a child has gone around the track numerous times Day LeClaire keeps it fresh due to the NASCAR background. The story line is fast-paced as the lead pair fall in love, Jamie tries to prove he is a chip off the old block, and an outraged adversary plans mischief. Fans will enjoy this fine second chance at love tale.

Helen Kirkman
Harlequin HQN
9780373772377 $6.99

In 876 Wareham, England, Mercia Princess Rosamund flees as the West Saxon army of foolish rival King Ceolfrith marches to destroy what is left of her side when she sees the iron chained man. Knowing what it is like to be a prisoner, having been incarcerated for three years by the Danish Viking army, she wants to help him if he still lives, but fears delaying her mission: insuring her sister Merriwen reaches Exeter safely.

She takes a chance on her freedom by gambling for his ownership and wins. Boda recovers and knows he lives due to Rosamund's nurturing. As they fall in love, she wonders if she can trust this warrior, who her younger sister adores like a safe older brother, but he is a mercenary who hides his true mission from the siblings he cherishes.

More a historical fiction of the events of the Dark Ages in which the Vikings used the squabble between two rival Saxon rulers in Mercia than a romance, fans will appreciate the depth of the story line. Rosamund is a brave person willing to risk death or captivity if it means Merriwen is safe. Boda is a former slave and "chained hell-thane" who finds his profession suddenly interferes with his desires. Helen Kirkman captures the attention of those readers who prefer transportation to the ninth century with the romantic subplot serving as a secondary support to the intrigue.

The Perfect Bride
Brenda Joyce
Harlequin HQN
9780373772445 $7.99

After eluding marriage for eight years, wealthy Lady Blanche Harrington knows she will have to wed one of her two hundred twenty eight suitors as she muses whose counting. However with the recent death of her father she has no protection as the aristocracy of 1822 is fraternal when it comes to money. Still not one of these perspective grooms makes her heart beat; most make her heart want to stop.

Napoleonic war hero Rex de Warenne may be a hermit, who avoids society like the plague, but he likes Blanche a lot and always has; in fact before his military time he thought of courting her, but since the horrors of combat he feels she can do much better than a mental cripple like him. Still he agrees to help her make a good match. Rex is there for Blanche as she finally moves on past her mom's death while she is there for him as he finally heals from post battle fatigue syndrome. However, as love blossoms between these two friends, one must take the chance of proclaiming their deepest desire.

The lead couple makes this deep late regency romance into a powerful emotional read. All that will matter to sub-genre fans is whether the likable pair makes it together as he must overcome demons haunting his soul while she finds all others imperfect. Brenda Joyce's latest De Warenne tale (see THE MASQUERADE and THE PRIZE) is the best in a strong historical series.

The Bracelet
Karen Rose Smith
Harlequin Everlasting
9780373654161 $5.25

Brady Malone is rushed to York General Hospital having suffered a heart attack following an argument with his wife Laura over a newspaper article that accused him of killing women and babies in Viet Nam; she felt he needed to explain his side to their children, eighteen year old Sean and fourteen year old Kat, but he does not want to talk about his horrific military nightmare.

Laura blames herself for Brady's heart attack as they agreed years ago never to speak of his Nam tour. They met at an anti-war protest in 1969, fell in love and when he came back from overseas she was there helping him heal. As he recuperates from his heart attack, she and their kids are there for him, but the guilt he suffers from Nam and from the SIDS of their child Jason is tearing apart his marriage.

THE BRACELET is a deep family drama that focuses on keeping dark secrets inside turn them into a cancer that harms relationships. Lauren and Brady are realistic characters who hide their guiltiest feelings and fears from one another. The two teenage children react in a plausible manner to the accusations about their father and his heart attack. Readers who appreciate a strong character study that centers on internally holding guilty feelings will appreciate Karen Rose Smith's intense tale.

A Secret to Tell You
Roz Denny Fox
Harlequin Everlasting
9780373654154 $5.25

Contractor April Trent was tearing down a wall in the sixty years old Shenandoah Valley house she was renovating when she finds love letters written in German, a passport, photos, and a pressed rose tied together by a red ribbon inside and oil cloth; all addressed to a Norma Marsh with an address in France. Local reporter Eric Lathrop comes over to ask her to attend a ball in honor of US Senate candidate Quinn Santini, whose grandfather Tony once owned this farmhouse. Eric sees the letters as a ticket to cover the DC beat instead of Turner County; April sees the papers as personal love letters.

April learns that Norma Marsh still lives nearby though her surname is Santini and Quinn is her grandson. She goes to give the letters to Norma, but Quinn suspects she has an ulterior motive as her family supports his opponent and her boyfriend is a hungry journalist. Whereas Norma feels the time has come to reveal her espionage activities during WWII and her secret love, Quinn fears for his campaign even as he detests the though that he is attracted to April, who started the mess in which ancient history will cost him the election.

The extended cast turns A SECRET TO TELL YOU into a delightful contemporary romance. Norma's commentary on her days working for the OSS adds a touch of the historical to a fine story line. The lead couple is a delightful pairing as he loves April, but sees her as the harbinger of his election doom. The secondary characters like her family, his opponent, the reporter enhance the fears of Quinn that love six decades old and current will sink his senatorial bid.

Mary Modern
Camille DeAngelis
Shaye Areheart (Crown)
1745 Broadway, #B1, New York, NY 10019-4305
9780307352583 $24.00 1-800-726-0600

In New Halcyon, Massachusetts, twenty-eight year old biogenetic researcher Lucy Morrigan shares her family mansion with her boyfriend Gray. The house built in 1882 needs major renovation that Lucy ignores; just as she pays little attention to the rooms filled with the artifacts of the four generations of Morrigan who have lived there. In fact the only modern place in what some less kind folks would say is the Morrigan mausoleum or gentler people museum is the off limit to Gray basement that Lucy's late dad converted to a secret laboratory.

Her efforts to become pregnant the old fashion "Bonobo" way has failed as she is infertile. Thus Lucy who wants to birth the next generation turns to an apron containing dried blood from her deceased grandmother. Lucy clones her grandma and places the elixir inside her womb. However, within the first trimester, a pregnant Lucy is whale size humongous so her friend Megan, experienced via being married to an ob-gyn surgeon, performs a C-section to remove the fetus from Lucy and place it in a machine emulating a womb. Six months later, Mary is born as a twenty-two years old with a memory that ended in 1929. However, a minister hears rumors of MARY MODERN and demands the cloning of Jesus or he will bring the fires of hell (the modern day mob – righteous protestors) to Lucy's dilapidated mansion.

A sort of modernizing of Dr. Frankenstein, MARY MODERN is an entertaining thought provoking thriller that asks readers to consider the consequences of cloning famous humans. The story line is at its best when Lucy plays the role of Dr. Frankenstein competing with her creation for the affection of Gray. Mary's adjustment to seven plus decades of life is probably too easy, but no one will care as Camille DeAngelis will have her audience debating the ethical and pragmatic implications of cloning from varying perspectives.

Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden
Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780553804713 $25.00 1-800-726-0600

During World War I Captain Henry Baltimore was ordered to cross No Man's Land in the Ardennes separating the Allies from the Hessians. The object was to kill the Hessians and take the land so that the stalemate would be broken. Instead, they went into a trap and everyone but Lord Baltimore is killed; wounded in the leg, he sees a carrion eating Kites drinking the blood of his fallen comrades. He injures it.

When he wakes up in the hospital, a human looking creature tells him because of what he has done there is war between the creatures and humanity. Plague spreads across the land, killing those it infects and they have not yet successfully stopped the diseases that spread with a gray skin and dark dead eyes of those that are still alive. When Henry arrives home, the plague has taken all those he loved and he vows to find and kill the creature. Years later Lord Baltimore calls three friends Dr. Lemuel Rose, Mr. Thomas Childress and Captain Demetrius Aischros, all who have dealt with the supernatural to an inn in the city. They don't know what the purpose of this gathering is but as night falls, the shadows close in.

BALTIMORE is an interesting and exciting take on the vampire mythos. The curse threatens to wipe out humanity and Lord Baltimore is thrust into the position of protector of mankind. Readers get to know him through the reminiscences of his friends and their stories are equally fascinating in a macabre kind of way. There are 150 black and white ink drawings that allow the reader to see the story unfold. The storyline is enthralling and the drawings embellish this dark vivid graphic horror thriller.

Patriot Acts
Greg Rucka
9780553804737 $25.00

Running away after killing a man who was hired to kill them, Atticus Kodiak, Alena Cizkova and Natalie Trent run to the safe house at Cold Spring. Atticus is a wanted man because it is believed he killed his friend Scott Fowler, an FBI agent, when it was Oxford who fired the gun. He leaves the women at the cabin and takes off when two teams of assassins hit them. He makes it back to the cabin after he disposes of them to find Alena and Natalie have dispatched those sent to kill them. There is one assembly among the friends, Natalie, and the group using to avenge her.

It takes him years to track down the man who betrayed him and when they catch him he regain to give up except he owes him. In order to find the man who ordered the hits, Alexa and Atticus devise a trap but in Lynch, Wyoming they are trapped by various government agencies and it is only through ingenuity and luck they escape. They are hired by Natalie's father to kill the man who ordered the hit that killed his daughter but to do that Atticus and Alexa, now known as Patrick and Diana must work it so that justice is served without the president and his government tarnished.

Atticus and Alexa can kill in cold blood but they are not stone cold murderers. They live in a different world where murder is a tool yet when they have an easy chance to catch the man who destroyed their lives; they pass, because it would mean involving a woman under his protection. That also means they have to work harder to catch him. Both anti-heroes are and would not be killing their adversaries, to save one who didn't put a hit out on them. Greg Rucka scores a best seller with this thriller.

Pieces of My Sister's Life
Elizabeth Joy Arnold
9780385340656 $6.99

Growing up on Block Island, Rhode Island identical twins Kerry and Eve Barnard were best friends. They played together and shared heartbreak when their mom abandoned them when they were seven and grief when their dad drowned ten years later. They even had one other buddy, Justin that both liked as they got into their teens.

Not long after being there for each other just after their father died, the sisters drift apart. Kerry dreams of being Justin's wife while Eve pursues him too; although she has other male options unlike her reticent sibling. That summer will prove fatal to their relationship. Now thirteen years later, as she is dying from cancer, Eve seeks reconciliation with her beloved twin Kerry.

The story line contains two interesting subplots based on the relationship between the twins today and thirteen years ago and earlier. The cast is solid especially the lead siblings while the secondary characters enhance the understanding of the sisterly relationship through time. Though the present era with Eve dying turns somewhat emoted, keep those tissues handy as Elizabeth Joy Arnold provides a strong family drama whose stars know they each once shared PIECES OF MY SISTER'S LIFE and hope to do so one last time.

The Pleasure Trap
Elizabeth Thornton
9780553589573 $6.99

In 1818 war hero Ash Denison attends a writer's symposium to uncover who is writing gothic romantic suspense stories that implies the anonymous author has insider information involving the murder of his brother. He admits to himself some the writers are really good as he especially enjoys the work of a Mrs. Barrymore that he sampled.

Eve "Mrs. Barrymore" Dearing is in town for season. Ash has taken an interest in her that she quickly realizes is based on his belief she authors the scandalous stories that rock the Ton and renewed him on his quest to find out who killed his sibling. As they fall in love, he fears a murderer has stolen his heart. However, when she seems to be the next victim of the killer, Ash risks his life to keep his beloved safe.

This Regency whodunit romance is much more complex and somewhat convoluted than described above. The story line is exhilarating with the action never stopping and the locations used in a refreshing brisk manner. Whether it is at the writer's convention, a bedlam asylum, or a stolen kiss, fans will appreciate Elizabeth Thornton's terrific serial killer historical romance starring two fully developed protagonists, an unknown murderous constant critic who proves the sword is mightier than the pen, and a horde of authors.

Burdens of Empire
9780553589030 $6.99

In the thirty-third century, Earth has conquered many other worlds in numerous galaxies with those planets containing sentient life forms occupied by force. However, there are not enough people to control such a giant empire and unrest is growing especially on the outer rims. The empire's leaders try to diplomatically resolve differences.

One such planet is Denastri where the empire will soon produce a key fuel with workers mining the ore and a refinery is being built to process it so that it can transported off world. The head of the Department of Extraterrestrial Affairs (DEXTRA) orders Gloria VanDeen to Denastri because he needs her to rescue the Emperor's Consort's kidnapped father, a diplomat abducted by insurgents who demand the humans leave. When she arrives on site she is greeted by a bomb that injures her. Although almost killed and still hurting, Gloria begins her mission by learning about the indigent cultures. She quickly concludes that earth knows nothing as what was reported by observers proves false. If Gloria is to accomplish her mission and make a difference on Denastri, she must understand even further the "truisms" of the locals.

Gloria is the ultimate feminist, secure in her sexuality and willing to take on an emperor if need be. She does not need a man to constrain her as a sex object and she depends on her own strong moral compass to guide her when she believes official policy fails to apply. In other words she is a maverick who gets the job done, which is why she was sent to Denastri. C.J. Ryan continues his exciting deep space futuristic science fiction series that is fun to read as the story line never takes itself seriously although BURDENS OF EMPIRE is darker in tone with the Monroe Doctrine applied across multiple galaxies anyway the empire can.

On the Prowl
Patricia Briggs, Eileen Wilks, Karen Chance, Sunny
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425216590 $7.99 1-800-847-5515

"Alpha and Omega" by Patricia Briggs. In Chicago waitress Anna was going home after a long shift when she was attacked and converted into a werewolf. Meanwhile the King of the werewolves sends his alpha son Charles to the Windy City to investigate potential trouble. Although Anna is the omega of the species as a "newborn, when she and Charles meet, sparks fly.

"Inhuman" by Eileen Wilks. The Turning has had less impact on Midland than most cities, but telepath Kai Michalski senses trouble. Her skill leads her to danger and her neighbor, Nathan.

"Buying Trouble" by Karen Chance. In New York, Claire the mage has the power to Null the magic of others. That is until the Lord of the Fey needs her help to overcome adversaries who want to use her special skill so he bids on her services at an auction house.

"Mona Lisa Betwining" by Sunny. Mixed blood Monere Queen Mona Lisa still grieves her loss of a loyal loved one, her first servant Gryphon. However, her new master of arms Dontaine may prove her deliverance or her death.

These are four fascinating romantic fantasies that sub-genre readers will fully appreciate and seek similar novels in the respective authors' "universe"

Blood Poison
D.H. Dublin
9780425216880 $24.99

Medical Intern Madison Cross dropped out of her residency and became a police officer working for the Philadelphia Crime Scene Unit (CSU). She is a very good investigator but as a newbie she still has a few things to learn including detaching herself from a crime and keeping a distance from the victims.

She is called to David Grant's home and finds him dead, the victim of an apparent suicide. She is stuck waiting for the ambulance to arrive to take the body to headquarters when a man in a wheelchair arrives claiming he is Horace Grant. He left the assisted living center where he stayed for a week and come back to David. Madison's heart goes out to him and she finds herself doing stuff and running errands to make life easier for him. The autopsy affirms Madison's initial reaction, but since meeting Horace she has doubts and believes that there are questions left unanswered. She begins an intensive investigation, unaware that a killer who has murdered many times, watches her every step, and will not hesitate to extinct one nosy cop.

D.H. Dublin gives readers a fascinating look at how CSU works and shows how crime scene investigations find the bulk of the evidence that can be used in trial. Madison is a complex person who when believes she is right about a case so goes her own way, refusing to heed anyone's advice (not sure how long she will survive the law enforcement bureaucracy). Interestingly enough she is often proven right and it helps that she has the backing of her lieutenant who is a loving uncle to her. This book takes off at mach speed and accelerates into light speed, giving the audience a fantastic thrill ride.

An Ice Cold Grave
Charlaine Harris
9780425217290 $23.95

The residents of Doraville, North Carolina fear the worst as the number of runaway boys seems improbable. The townsfolk believe a serial killer is living amidst them murdering their male offspring. Against the opinion of Sheriff Sandra Rockwell, psychic detective Harper Connelly and her manager stepbrother Tolliver Lang come to the town to find the missing boys. To the horror of both women and Tolliver, Harper earns her fee when she uncovers eight corpses.

Not long afterward, someone assaults an already weary Harper. Worn out to her bone marrow and fearful of further attacks, Harper wants to go home to heal from her injuries; not all being physical. However, a less skeptical Sandra pleads with her and the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation demands she continue to work on the case. The media, learning of the deadly find and psychic link, turns the inquiry into a circus while Harper's psychic friends try to assist her as they begin to find more horrific remains.

The third grave Connelly psychic mystery (see GRAVE SIGHT and GRAVE SURPRISE) is a tense thriller that grips the audience from the moment the heroine finds the grisly remains of eight bodies and never slows down until the final confrontation. The cast enhances the tale either by bringing local flavor to the plot or assistance/deterrence to Harper. Although there is a binge of serial killers in literature of late, the fast-paced story line deftly uses the paranormal to make it seem normal as the heroine confronts an abnormal psychopathic killer in an entertaining regional whodunit.

Chain Reaction
Jenesi Ash
9780451221360 $14.00

Lucas used to work under Amber, but once he was promoted out of her department, she seems to always be underneath him. When the purple scarf with the sexual fantasy chain letter arrives, they share a bondage encounter; but she does not want to be subservient to him at either of their bedrooms or the office. He agrees, but persuades her to try a fantasy zone like a hotel room.

She sends the scarf to sweet office worker Sienna, who panics that someone knows her craving for bondage that she hides from her peers. Sienna and Adam agree to seven days to tie her in heaven, but by day eight she changes the rules of engagement as she sends the scarf to her hairdresser.

Tiffany is stunned when she receives the scarf for the second time as she followed the instructions to the letter. However, after talking with her lover James, she realizes what she did wrong; she needs to tie him up as her greatest desire is to take charge of the bedroom.

The scarf and letter is forwarded to new neighbor Grace, who is hosting a networking party. Grace assumes someone knows that she has not had sex in a millennium so sent it as a hurtful joke. However, she wonders if the object of her XXX dreams Matt would enjoy taking her with the scarf just like she saw Olivia do to Lynn.

CHAIN LETTER is silly entertaining fun as the women seek to fulfill their sexual craving. Whereas the hunks are like the scarf, objects except much harder; the four females are full blooded characters whose desires and mailing move the tale forward. Fans of erotic romance will appreciate these four short novellas sharing a theme; with the final mail (or is that male) the perfect amusing climax.

Return to Me
Julia Templeton
9780425215418 $14.00

In 1314 Darius Macleod lies dying on the battlefield of Bannockburn when his twin brother Demetri's friend Remont informs him he will only survive his fatal wounds if he converts to the life of the undead. Demetri asks Remont to change Darius. Soon afterward he comes home from the war healthy and alive. However his wife Rose worries about her spouse who is not the same person who performed his duty with honor. She finally confronts him; he admits that he became a vampire to save his life. Horrified and terrorized, Rose flees only to fall down steps killing herself and their unborn child.

In 1818 Darius is still missing his Rose until his brother introduces him to Gabrielle Wentworth, whose uncle has "sold" her into a betrothal with the detestable Lord Sutherland. Perhaps it is her resemblance to his memory of Rose, but for the first time in five hundred years Darius feels alive as he wants her. However, in spite of his efforts including his supernatural skills, Darius struggles to persuade Gabrielle that they belong together preferably for eternity as she has family demons eating at her soul.

This entertaining heated Regency paranormal romance stars two delightful protagonists who belong together. Although Gabrielle's uncle and Sutherland are caricatures of evil humans, they serve as a counterpoint to the siblings leading to readers pondering just who the monsters are. Fans will appreciate this exciting tale as Darius will do anything including accept his final death if that means his beloved Gabriella lives a safe and contented life.

The Betrayed
Lisa T. Bergren
9780425217085 $23.95

In the year 1340, the Gifted, those chosen by God to spread Christ's word among the masses and endowed with divine powers, are in Venice looking for clues to where the Lord wants them to go next. The group consists of the healer Lady Daria d'Angelo; Sir Gianni whose gift is faith; Hasani has visions; and Father Piero known for his wisdom and Tessa who has discernment and knows who is good and who is evil.

They are pursued by Lord Abramo Amidei who worships the forces of darkness and sacrifices children on the altar of his god. He intends to capture and convert the Gifted or destroy them; his plan is to separate them so that they do not have each other to rely on when he tortures them into doubting their beliefs. While the Gifted search for a glass map, a piece of which is hidden in the seven churches of Venice, Cardinal Boreli observes them as he hopes to use them to bring the papacy back to full power when he becomes the pope. Daria is captured and taken to Abramo's prison where he tortures her: hoping to break her spirit. The rest of the Gifted mount a rescue, but it will take a miracle from God to free her from that darkness.

By books end, the Gifted knows where they are needed next, a place that is anathema to them yet their faith is so strong they don't doubt God's will and obey him even though they are heading into more troubles. The Gifted are good and honorable but circumstances sometimes causes them to have doubts. Abramo is a fully developed villain who is the sworn enemy of the Gifted and will do whatever is necessary to convert or kill them. Lisa T. Bergren has written an exciting thriller that is full of surprises and confrontations between good and evil.

The Heir and the Spare
Mata Rodale
9780425217634 $6.99

Devon Kensington delayed his return trip from America to England for five years to be with his ailing father. However, in 1818, he finally comes home. At a ball he pretends to be his older twin brother, the Marquis Phillip, which enables him to meet, dance and hold visiting American heiress Emilia Highhart, attending her first ball.

Emilia has problems with her confused feelings for Phillip, who her aunt says is off limits as an unsuitable rake. At times she believes she loves him; at other times she feels nothing for him. She is unaware that the man she loves is the spare and the man she feels nothing for is the heir.

As the twins compete for Emilia, readers will enjoy this fine Regency romance. The key to refreshing this theme of good and bad seeds siblings is the jealousy and hatred Devon feels for his older brother by minutes. Fans will enjoy the competition for Emilia, as the confused female cannot grasp why one moment her body comes alive to seeing the marquis and another it remains dormant. This is a fun historical.

American Diva
Julia London
9780425215647 $14.00

Twenty-eight years old pop music diva Audrey LaRue initially loved the attention, but now is depressed with the downside of fame. Her family sees her as a meal ticket and demands she work even harder so that they can enjoy the fruits of her success without lifting a finger. Her manager has his own agenda as he wants fame and fortune beyond being Audrey's "caddie". Finally a fan has sent her threatening notes that insist they belong together or else.

Former Air Force pilot Jack Price arranges extreme excursions for wealthy patrons. On one of his sessions, he and Audrey meet and are instantly attracted to one another. Although he dreams of opening up a flight school, he agrees to provide her personal security as she tours the country. As they fall in love, each wonders what they will have to sacrifice if their relationship is to make it.

AMERICAN DIVA is a dark look at fame as everyone especially her family, her manager and her fans give demands on Audrey that is turning her from a considerate friendly person into a bit*h of a diva. Even darker is the portrayal of the music industry as a hellhole filled with sharks and pariahs. Fans will appreciate Audrey's efforts to be herself; but the price is turning exorbitant; Jack is her only hope, but that means trusting him not to have an agenda beyond love. Julia London provides a strong insightful contemporary tale.

Sasha White
9780425217009 $14.00

Samair Jones has always behaved "properly" but all that has gotten her is loneliness and feeling that she is burying the real her. Tired of her boring lifestyle, Samair moves into the home of a friend, Joey Kent, a nightclub dancer at the Risque Club.

The owner of the club, Valentine Ward, sees Sam enter his establishment and informs his partner Karl Dawson that she will soon be his as he is attracted to her. Upon meeting Val, Sam knows he is TROUBLE. He plans to provide Sam with lessons on being a bad girl. Sam looks forward to sex with no commitments. He proves everything he promises to be as he meets her every fantasy and introduces her to new ones. Sam assumes their fling will end, but when Val's former wife arrives to renew their relationship, she realizes she has fallen in love with her sex mentor.

The heat is on from the first meeting at the club between Sam and Val and never cools down until Sasha White's erotic tale is climaxed. The story line is fast-paced in between the sexual encounters while the trysts are hot and sensually slow. Character driven, fans will feel the tension as Sam and Val fall in heat and then love, but the ex lingers leaving the heroine with doubts about her knight and her skill to keep him satisfied.

A Reason to Believe
Maureen McKade
9780425216620 $6.99

When her husband died, Dulcie McDaniel and their four years old daughter Madeline returned to her Texas family home, a place she fled a few years ago to escape her bitter widower father. Now her alcoholic dad Frank Pollard has been lynched by a mob who needed an unpopular fall guy. Although she does not believe her father committed the crime, Dulcie has no time to care; instead she has the farm to run by herself as no one will help her or work for her since she left town single and pregnant while her father was scorned. Dulcie will do anything to insure Madeline has a nice home.

Rye Forrester has traveled from Kansas to tell Dulcie the truth about her husband's death; the hard part will be explaining his role. When he arrives at harvest time, he helps her with the crop, delaying the inevitable. As they fall in love and he serves as a kind gentle male role model to her daughter, he fears she will kick him off the her farm once he confesses why he came.

This is a terrific Forester Brother Reconstruction Era romance (see A REASON TO LIVE) starring two nice people who deserve much better than what has happened in their past. Although the theme has been used before, but Maureen McKade keeps it fresh as sub-genre readers anticipate the poignant High Noon showdown once Rye tells his beloved the truth.

The Alehouse Murders
Maureen Ash
9780425217658 $6.99

He felt the call to join the Templars and Bascot de Marins was overjoyed to be sent to the Holy Land to kill the Saracens and take Jerusalem for the Christians. His joy did not last long because he was captured by the enemy and became a slave and was tortured. He returned home after an eight-year-captivity minus an eye, a leg that limps and a loss of faith. He is sent by his order to Lincoln Castle to recover his health both physical and mental and hopefully return to the Templars with his faith restored.

He is given a private room in the castle where Nicolaa de la Haye is castellan and her husband Gerard Camville, King John's man is the sheriff. When two men and a woman are found dead in a local tavern, Nicolaa asks Bascot to investigate. At first glance it looks like the proprietor, a harlot and another young man were killed elsewhere and brought to the alehouse. Bascot has information that leads him to realize that the woman was no harlot but the pregnant wife of the young man who was going to be named to a noble and that noble planned to put aside his spouse. The lord believes his wife and stepson killed Hugo and his pregnant wife to get rid of her and remain his heir but Bascot continues to investigate, wanting evidence not accusations.

Readers will receive a historically accurate depiction of life in medieval Lincoln during the beginning of the reign of King John. This work will be read by fans of Sharon Kay Penman, Sharyn Newman and Roberta Gellis. The protagonist obtains sympathy from the audience because of his physical and mental pain and his lack of direction. In some ways an innocent, he proves he is a hero when he refuses to let fall guys be tried for a crime he doesn't believe they committed. Maureen Ash's series will be very popular if the future novels are the quality of THE ALEHOUSE MURDERS.

The Tale of Hawthorn House
Susan Wittig Albert
9780425216552 $25.95

Beatrix Potter loves her home in the Lake District village of Near Sawrey even though she can only get away from her family's London mansion for a few weekends at a time. Her parents expect her to take care of them in their old age and her mother wants her around all the time to cater to her whims. She is there for the summer fete and is very surprised to find a baby in a box with a scarab ring left by her door. She sees an elderly woman walking away and levitating over her wall.

She is unable to keep the baby because her brother is coming for a visit and then she has to go to London on business. She gives the baby to Dimity Woodcock who falls in love with baby Flora. Her brother captain Miles Woodcock is the justice of the peace for the Sawrey district and is determined to find the mother and hold her accountable for abandoning the baby. In the meantime, Major Christopher Kitteredge, who had a scandal attached to him, asks Dimity to marry him. Dimity doesn't want to go against her brother who opposes the relationship but she has loved the major all her life. She asks Beatrix for advice; and the lonely spinster is determined to help her friend as well as find out who the mother of baby Flora is so that the major and Dimity can adopt her.

Fans of Rita Mae Brown's Mrs. Murphy series will thoroughly enjoy this book in which the animals talk to each other in a totally hilarious subplot about who steals egg and sits on them for two months when they are supposed to hatch in twenty-eight days. This is a gentle whimsical tale with a nice dose of a mystery mixed into the cozy storyline.

The Girl with Braided Hair
Margaret Coel
9780425217122 $25.95

Near the Wind River Reservation where the Arapaho tribe lives, a skeleton is unearthed in an out of the way ravine. At first glance the authorities believe it is an Indian woman because of her long dark braid and the clothing that was from the 1970's; a time when AIM was stirring up trouble with the whites and against Indians who didn't agree with them. Records don't show any woman missing from the tribe during that time period.

Several Indian women asks attorney Vicky Holden to inquire when the police will find out her name so they can release the body and give her a proper burial. Vicky is now in practice with Adam Lone Eagle normally taking on clients with major cases that impact many people and issues. However, this death in which the woman was tied up with all her bones broken and a bullet wound to the head affects her deeply and she starts investigating as does Father John the catholic priest whose mission as on the reservation. Vicky receives threatening notes and is shot at; she realizes the killer is hiding on the rez behind people afraid to give him away.

What Tony Hillman has done for the Navaho, Margaret Coel has done for the Arapaho. There are two storylines running in alternating chapters; the first is the woman whose bones were found in the present goes on the run because AIM leaders thought she was an FBI snitch who got another leader killed. The second begins with finding out in the present who killed her. Both tales are exciting and filled with suspense and danger. This is a must read for anyone who loves a great mystery.

Goodbye, Dolly
Deb Baker
9780425217702 $6.99

After discovering her boyfriend of seven years Steve Kuchen cheated on her, Gretchen Birch dumps him and returns to her hometown to move back in with her mother and also becomes part of mom's doll restoration business. When her mother goes on a publicity tour for her new book, Gretchen attends her first auction where she wins the bidding on a box of Ginny dolls. However, her package and that of someone else gets mixed up and she leaves with a box of kewpie dolls instead.

Reporter Ronnie Bean covered the event, but while working on a big expose story is killed. The weapon is one of Gretchen's tools which has Steve's fingerprints on them because he took it from her. The police arrest Steve, but Gretchen does not believe the rat is a killer. She begins receiving kewpies dolls with threatening messages inside the boxes containing them. When two more people are murdered who know about the kewpie doll mix-up, Gretchen decides she is on the list unless she exposes the identity of the culprit.

Readers will enjoy this engaging exciting amateur sleuth tale filled with quirky characters that provide comic relief when the tension seems ready to explode. Gretchen is a delight as she never makes up her mind but stumbles about trying to uncover a killer before he or she adds her onto the collector's dead list. Deb Baker provides a fun tale starring a likable living doll.

Through Thick and Thin
Alison Pace
9780425215616 $14.00

Manhattan resident Meredith would argue she is the exception to the swinging single rule as she has not had a date in a couple of years. She loves her job as a restaurant critic, but the food does not do her waistline any good although she admits to herself she always had a weight issue even as a child.

In Ridgewood, New Jersey Meredith's sister, Stephanie is a married stay at home mother of a six month old with a spousal problem involving abuse of painkillers. Unlike "Meres" she was always skinny as a child, but the weight gain from her pregnancy has not gone away. Although she belongs to a mommy group, she feels lonely and finds food as a solace.

When Meres and Steph talk, they form a pact to form a sister diet group to lose the excess weight. However, as each begins to be there for the other like they somewhat did as kids, they find the weight hard to lose but the renewed sibling friendship worth the price of dieting.

This interesting contemporary tale stars two likable sisters who learn life lessons about the need of balance between one's personal and professional lives. The entertaining story line contains an underlying perception about the negative correlation between aging and weight loss; once the duet understand how much more difficult it gets and will get, the real reason they made their pact is a deep need for camaraderie. THROUGH THICK AND THIN is a well written look at the pressures of work vs. that of family.

The Follower
Jason Starr
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312359744 $23.95 1-888-330-8477

In New York City, Katie Porter is tired of being a swinging single as any male she dates seems to be a loser. Her current boyfriend Andy Barnett believes in partying all night while ignoring her needs beyond the physical; he begs her to please go all the way for his satisfaction even as he plans to dump her.

However, Peter Wells thinks Katie is the special woman for him. He watches her working out at the gym; observes her stopping for coffee on her way to work; and sees her everywhere she goes as he serendipitously follows her. Peter has plans for the love of his life to make her his wife having bought the marriage ring and their house. He takes the first steps by saying hello at the health club, which affirms his belief that she is the one for him. He has known since childhood when they grew up together and more so when he dated her sister unbeknownst to Katie. Nothing will stand between him and his woman not even randy Andy boyfriend.

This is a dark satirical look at the lifestyle of Manhattan's swinging singles. Katie is a fascinating protagonist as she wants a boyfriend who cares about her; Andy cannot resist the island's horde of beautiful available women as he wants all of them; Peter is obsessed as he wants Katie even if it means eliminating his perceived competition. Though purposely somewhat stereotyped to the point of dark lampooning of the disenchanted, fans of urban suspense thrillers will appreciate this romantic triangle in which death may prove the only solution.

Debra Webb
St Martin's
9780312942229 $6.99

A decade ago in Pine Bluff, Alabama, the testimony of Emily Wallace led to the murder conviction of her boyfriend Clint Austin. Emily saw Clint's bloodied hands at the slashed throat of her best friend Heather Baker. He swore he was innocent that when he saw Heather bleeding to death he tried to stop the flow of blood.

However, Emily is stunned to learn that in spite of the violence of the crime, Clint has been paroled from Holman Prison. He, hardened by his time, returns home obsessed with uncovering the identity of the real culprit. Emily, hardened by his crime, leaves her position at the Samford Medical Research Facility in Birmingham to also come home to insure that her high school squeeze is always reminded of what he did. Clint makes inquiries into the Heather homicide not realizing that the killer watches his every step while plotting a second frame that would insure Austin never comes home again; this time the murderer will use Emily as the victim

This is a superb romantic suspense thriller that grips readers from the moment a stunned Emily learns Clint is free and never slows down as a master manipulator plays the lead characters and the readers like a virtuoso violinist plays his or her instrument. The story line is fast-paced and filled with twists and red herrings in spite of a large support cast made up of the citizens of Pine Bluff. With a fabulous spine chilling climax to close this tense small town thriller, fans will clamor for more tales like this from Debra Webb.

Spider Trap
Barry Maitland
St. Martin's
9780312369088 $24.95

In the West Indian section of South London, someone assassinates gangland style two young girls. Both shot in the head, the vicious killing shakes up the city as the media goes on a feeding frenzy with the image of the deaths of innocence.

The brass of New Scotland Yard knows the homicides require they provide a major investigation not so much to solve the insidious killings and bring their predator to justice, but more politically needed to quiet the noisy press and to calm upset citizens. Adding to the chaotic fears, a schoolboy finds the remains of three corpses in an abandoned Brixton rail yard; they have been dead for almost a quarter of a century. Ballistics affirms that the gun used then is the same weapon that recently was used to kill the girls. Detective Sargent. Kathy Kolla investigates the present day murders while Detective Chief Inspector David Brock works on the twenty-four years old homicides.

Although the suspects (yesterday and today) seem as lifeless as the corpses, the latest Kolla-Brock police procedural is an entertaining whodunit. The dual investigations are fun to follow as they share a murder weapon but seemingly little else. Fans will enjoy the inquiries made by the two cops whose separate investigations begin to intertwine.

Stuart MacBride
St. Martin's
9780312339999 $24.95

In Scotland the Aberdeen police department sets up a sting to catch a serial rapist as Constable Jackie Watson is dressed up to look like a hooker not a cop. When national sports hero Rob Macintyre is arrested for stalking her, the country is stunned and a bit upset. However, when the media announce that one of the arresting officials Detective Sergeant Logan MacRae is Jackie's live-in lover, everyone screams foul condemning the police. The Macintyre mess mangles the serial rapist investigation that is making no progress.

MacRae works on two other cases at the same time he struggles with preventing another rape. On one inquiry he becomes a first hand expert re the local BDSM scene; on the other he hunts an eight-year-old killer. None of the three investigations prove easy or simple as his respective superior detective inspectors yank his butt between each of them demanding MacRae only work on their case. However, making matters more difficult for MacRae is that he fears Jackie has crossed some line that spells the pending end of their relationship.

Obviously this intelligent Scottish police procedural belongs to MacRae, but it is the ensemble support cast especially the cops, who turn BLOODSHOT into a great read. The three cases are tough enough, but to MacRae it is the unbelievable demands by his superiors that are making them impossible. With his personal life teetering, he tries to be in three places at the same time working a forty hour day. Sub-genre readers will appreciate his efforts and his previous caseload (see DYING LIGHT and COLD GRANITE).

The Boyfriend From Hell
Avery Corman
St. Martin's
9780312349783 $13.95

Twenty-four years old Veronica Ronnie Delaney left the Bronx to become a successful freelance journalist based on Manhattan. However, in spite of running around the Central park reservoir twice each morning her social life remains the same that it was back at Bronx Science High School; meaning zero.

For an article, Ronnie interviews historian Richard Smith, an expert on satanic worship. He responds to her inquires with vague philosophical babble that if good exists, evil does too. Richard charms Ronnie and they begin seeing one another. After her article comes out, a dead black cat is delivered to Ronnie, who assumes satanic church leader Randall Cummings sent it. Richard's editor asks Ronnie to write a book on satanic possession, which she agrees to do. However, Ronnie becomes concerned when she blacks out and while unconscious apparently sketched an elaborate picture; other strange happenings frighten her too. When a picture of a decapitated head arrives, Ronnie visits Randall Cummings only to faint. When she awakens he is dead and she is the prime suspect. When she learns from a mental patient that her satanic lover looks like Richard, Ronnie flees to her old Bronx neighborhood (not even the devil would voluntarily go there) to ask her childhood priest to exorcize Satan from within her.

This is an interesting paranormal thriller starring a lapsed Catholic who begins to believe she is seeing THE BOYFRIEND FROM HELL. The opening chapters are terrific as Ronnie and Richard meet and begin to date. The tale loses some of its playfulness and possibilities once Randall is murdered because from that point to the climax as the story line turns restricted focusing only on Ronnie's efforts to free her self from possession. Although lacking the humor of My Demon Boyfriend or the frightfulness of the Exorcist, readers will enjoy this urban possession thriller.

The Cliff House Strangler
Shirley Tallman
St. Martin's
9780312357566 $24.95

In the 1880s in San Francisco, attorney Sarah Woolson has left the prestigious firm of Shepard, Shepard, McNaughton, and Hall to begin her own practice over the objection of her lawyer boyfriend Robert Campbell. He objects even louder when she persuades him to accompany her to Cliff House for a seance hosted by Russian psychic Madame Karpova on a stormy night. Eleven guests in all including Senator Gaylord and his wife attend.

Madame Karpova sets the mood and seems to be talking with those from beyond as she performs a dazzling array of parlor tricks. However, uninvited gate crasher columnist Darien Moss whose scorn causes Dmitry Serkov to leave in disgust decides to expose her as a fraud when the lights go out; when they return he is dead strangled by a balalaika string. Sarah investigates with Robert at her side trying to keep her out of trouble while her brother and father abet her efforts even when more seance attendees die.

The third Woolson historical tale is more of a whodunit than a legal thriller though a subplot involving an abused spouse with a child fleeing from an alcoholic husband is stunning. The excitement and sense of time and place remains strong (see MURDER ON NOB HILL and THE RUSSIAN HILL MURDERS). The story line is fast-paced as Sarah seems to be battling ghosts, gypsies, gulls, and government in her effort to uncover the culprit. With homage to Christie's And Then There Was One, readers will wonder who did it and why

Pepperfish Keys
Darryl Wimberley
St. Martin's
9780312361396 $24.95

Florida Senator Baxter Stanton, running for reelection in the northwestern coast, knows the importance of being a good old boy to the whites, who make up most of the voters in towns like Pepperfish Keys. However, his election chances take an odd spin when his daughter Beth Ann Stanton is found brutally murdered in the family mansion.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special agent Barrett "Bear" Raines investigates the homicide and his first reaction is there is an unproven link between Stanton and criminal Eddy DeLeon, who was also the victim's boyfriend. Raines being "a black cop in a white town" gets little cooperation from anyone associated with the case except local TV reporter Sharon Fowler, who sees the cop and the senator as her ticket to Tallahassee and beyond. She offers to help him nail DeLeon; he accepts though his gut tells him to look elsewhere for the motive.

This is a terrific police procedural that returns to readers a fabulous protagonist who has been away for several years (see A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE, DEADMAN'S BAY and STRAWMAN'S HAMMOCK). The story line is fast-paced and filled with plausible twists that will stun the audience as the prime characters play a sort of cat and mouse game with each of the lead trio wanting to control their tango. Darryl Wimberley provides a superb Florida whodunit in which Bear's fans will want his next engagement soon.

Safe and Sound
J. D. Rhoades
St. Martin's
9780312354893 $23.95

The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina bounty hunter Jack Keller loves his work of capturing a skip because it enables him to concentrate on the present and near future rather than his haunting military past as a Gulf War vet. However, his latest case has nothing to do with a skip. In Hayland County attorney Tammy Healey visits Keller's girlfriend private investigator Marie Jones to hire her services. A Delta Force commando David Lundgren abducted his daughter Alyssa from the girl's mother Carly Fedder.

Keller works the military bureaucracy to find clues to the whereabouts of Lundgren; as expected that proves difficult as the Army refuses to say anything about its elite force even if a kidnapping occurred. However, as he struggles with the reminders of his service time and the aftermath rejection of mental health issues by the VA, he realizes Lundgren has vanished but is not considered AWOL. Other Delta Force members have also disappeared but how they tie back to Lundgren and Alyssa remains nebulous.

The third Jack Keller investigative thriller (see GOOD DAY IN HELL and THE DEVIL'S RIGHT HAND) is a fabulous tale with headline relevancy as the Defense Department and Veterans Affairs have finally recognized the mental health issues of returning soldiers as J.D. Rhodes has done with Keller. Keller's inquiries will entertain his fans as he is stonewalled every step of the way by the army. More of the atrocities he saw in the Gulf surface in this story. Fans will appreciate his latest efforts as he risks his life and sanity as he battles his ghosts, the military bureaucracy, and renegade Delta Force trained killers to try to rescue a little girl from her dad.

Chelsea Cain
St. Martin's
9780312368463 $23.95

In Portland, Oregon, the serial killer soaks his victims in bleach before discarding the teenage girls. Police Detective Archie Sheridan is assigned to lead the task force investigating the case. He knows he must get his act together to prevent more victims, but also thinks back to when he went after serial killer psychiatrist Gretchen "The Beauty Queen" Lowell. She caught and tortured him for ten days including breaking his ribs so that she left behind a heart shaped scar. He lives because she called 911, but he uses painkillers at an alarming rate to ease the ache and continues to visit Gretchen weekly although he claims it is to get her to tell the authorities where the bodies are buried; he knows deep inside she owns him even from behind bars.

On the task force is energetic pink haired reporter Susan Ward. She rejects Archie's controlling orders; instead she pushes him to do the right thing but she must compete with Gretchen who controls Archie so much so that he deserted his family for her. As the tug of war between the two females occurs, the bleach killer is interested in the reporter as a victim while Archie thinks this case might get him past his fascination that has made no woman compare to his Gretchen.

I n an obvious connection to Hannibal Lector, HEARTSICK is a fabulous psychological police procedural that grips the audience from the onset, but especially when readers meet Gretchen. The story line switches back and forth between the current case to when Gretchen captured Archie effortlessly so that both subplots are well written and gripping. Readers will appreciate this dark suspense thriller driven by the lead quartet whose tango means death.

Red Sea
Emily Benedek
St. Martin's
9780312354916 $24.95

The American Airlines plane flying from Paris top Boston explodes; at about the same time the British Airways jet containing a class of students heading to Madrid explodes; finally also at about the same time as the other two incidents a Cathay Pacific aircraft going from Hong Kong to Singapore explodes. Three commercial jets terrorized in flight resulting in over seven hundred people dead.

As the world panics and assumes a Mid East Jihad s in action probably issued by Al Qaeda connections, Israel brings out of retirement former secret agent Julian Granot, whose expertise is aviation, to investigate the calamities. Aviation Monthly journalist Marie Peterssen asks Julian for an interview; he agrees as he sees her as a source to furthering his inquiries into who is the Bin Laden mastermind and financier behind this precise assault. Unbeknownst to Julian is that his long time enemy Islamic extremist Mansour Obaidi is the genius who brought the world to its knees for a 9/11 like blow. However, he has no time for glory or for Granot as he awaits a ship carrying a vast amount of dirty explosives reaching New York Harbor.

This exciting thriller soars from the opening sequence of the three jets exploding and never slows down until the final confrontation between the two adversaries. The entertaining story line is action-packed as the audience anticipates a High Noon showdown once the two opponents are revealed by author Emily Benedek. Besides DOT acting more like Katrina FEMA, the ending is a disappointment as Ms. Benedek insures a sequel over a clear finish. Fans will enjoy this exciting tale.

Hook, Line & Homicide
Mark Richard Zubro
St. Martin's
9780312333034 $25.95

Chicago police detective Paul Turner rents two houseboats on Lake of the Woods, Canada for his annual fishing trip. Accompanying Paul are his sons teen Brian and preadolescent Jeff, his significant other Ben, his CPD partner Buck Fenwick and his wife and their children.

Paul breaks up a fight between the Krohn's gang and five First Nation Canadian Indian kids caused by the bullying tactics of the former. However when he reports that the Krohn crowd caused the incident as the Indians were minding their business to the police, they ignore him insisting that the First Nation people always cause trouble. Soon afterward the Krohn gang harasses the "fags" renting the houseboat. Not long after that someone murders Krohn. Police Chief Shreppel arrests a First Nation's teen without any evidence except prejudice and hatred. Putting aside their rods and reels, Paul and Buck investigate as they know the homophobic racist cops will not.

HOOK, LINE & HOMICIDE is an interesting whodunit as the Chicago cops are outside their jurisdiction investigating a homicide that the local Canadian police prefer their solution. The assault on gay rights by government and so called family value gurus is given a personalized face especially when Jeff personalizes the venom as he cannot understand why his father is hated due to sexual preference. Although at times Paul can pontificate on racism, sexual preference harassment slowing the sleuthing story line down, fans of the series will appreciate the latest caper north of the border.

A Widower's Curse
Phillip DePoy
St. Martin's
9780312362027 $23.95

Folklorist Fever Devilin loves working the Georgia Appalachians where he grew up so when stranger Carl Schultz calls to ask Fever about an odd silver medallion that his father purchased in nearby Blue Mountain twenty or so years ago, Fever invites him visit. Carl accepts the invitation wanting Fever's opinion on the odd medallion.

However, the visit turns ugly when Fever finds his guest lying dead in his cabin. Having worked with the police before on investigations, Fever fears this one will hit home because worthless papers belonging to his grandfather were apparently stolen by the killer. Besides which he is the prime suspect as has a motive and the opportunity; thus he decides to go it alone inquiring about the medallion, which leads him into his roots as he uncovers family dirt that once drove away his family from these hills.

The Devilin folklorist mysteries are some of the best Americana regional tales on the market today with the latest may being the greatest to date. Fever's current caper is much more personal than his previous three adventures (see THE DEVIL'S HEART, THE WITCH'S GRAVE and A MINISTER'S GHOST), but contains plenty of action, an intelligent investigation, and a wonderful protagonist struggling with what he is learning about his heritage. Phillip DePoy provides a deep self-reflective regional mystery that will leave his fans feverish for Devilin's next work.

The Bloody Tower
Carola Dunn
St. Martin's
9780312363062 $23.95

The Honorable Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher has been asked to do a series of articles about the Tower of London for an American magazine. It will be the first time she returns to work since the twins were born four months ago. People take a natural likening to Daisy and she gets a personalized tour of the Crown Jewels, interviews the people in power in the tower, learns about the feuds between the Yeomen Warders and the Hotspot officers, and is told the stories of the ghosts who haunt the place.

When she gets ready to leave, she comes across the murdered body of the chief Yeomen Warder with a partisan (pike) in his back and his neck broken. She gets someone to call the superintendent who calls her husband DCI Alex Fletcher, who is resigned to the fact that Daisy will once again be in the middle of a homicide investigation; but this time she walks away and is dragged back by the entreaties of two teens she befriended. She contributes to the investigation and hopefully with what she learns it will lead to the killer.

The latest Daisy Dalrymple mystery is as refreshing and entertaining as are the rest of the books in this delightful historical amateur sleuth police procedural combination. Points of views keep changing between the spouses who learn much of the same information from different sources in different manners. This is a perplexing case because everybody liked the victim and it is only when knowledge of the victim comes to light the Fletchers begin to even come to solving the case.

Ken Bruen
St. Martin's
9780312341459 $13.95

In London Police Inspector Brant grieves as only he can the death of his hero by toasting in a pub the late great author Ed McBain who he learned recently died. As he drinks another round to Mr. McBain for his wonderful police stories, someone starts shooting at Brant. Hit several times by the assassin, Brant is rushed to a nearby hospital.

Although police officers hate a cop killer, everyone at the station who works with the cantankerous cop celebrates the fact that Brant is on medical leave. However, the bullets only made Inspector sourpuss even more acrimonious; he vows to take down everyone associated with his failed hit.

Paying homage to Ed McBain and his 87th Precinct tales, Ken Bruen provides a strong look at a London police station after one of the cops has been shot. Besides Brant's prime story line that cuts across the other subplots as he is the star of the series, readers see other cops struggle with their demons as well. Falls deals with fascinating psycho Angie James who blames her for her prison time (see VIXEN); and McDonald is an out of control cocaine addict who wrecks havoc on a civilian watch. The seventh Brant police procedural is a terrific action-packed thriller, but even with the return of Vixen, it is the avenging inspector who makes the mean streets of London meaner and more fun for fans of Mr. Bruen, the heir to Mr. McBain's police station tales.

Whispers in the Night
Edited by Brandon Massey
Dafina (Kensington)
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
9780758217417 $14.00 1-800-345-2665

The third "Dark Dreams" anthology (see the superb DARK DREAMS and the even better VOICES FROM THE OTHER SIDE) is a fabulous horror collection of all new works written by black authors. There are no clinkers as the compilation runs the gamut of the genre with for the most part fresh spins such as zombies dining on a TV news reporter while on the air to infant possession to Hurricane Katrina. A few of the tales are excellent. Especially outstanding are headliner Tananarive Due, whose "Summer" focuses on the evil possession of a preschooler, and Terence Taylor's "Wet Pain" that centers on the Old South racially rising just after Katrina devastated New Orleans. Whereas Randy Walker's "To Get Bread and Butter" hits personally home and "Are You My Daddy: by Lexi Davis will leave the audience laughing, "Ghostwriter" by Mr. Massey is a fitting closer as Dark Dreams is three for three; how could it not be with tales like the aptly named "Mr. Bones" by Christopher Chambers and the ironically titled "The Love of a Zombie Is Everlasting" by Tish Jackson.

Crime Seen
Victoria Laurie
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451222015 $6.99 1-800-847-5515

In Royal Oak, Michigan Abby Cooper has physically recovered from almost dying from a gunshot wound, but mentally remains despondent as her psychic skills failed her. She remains in the house of her FBI Agent boyfriend Dutch Rivers and has not returned to work doing readings as she suffers from post traumatic stress syndrome. Private Investigator Candace calls to rent space from Abby while Dutch asks her to read three cases that have stymied him. Dutch's former partner police detective Milo mentions the parole hearing of Lutz; convicted nine years ago of killing his first partner Walter McDaniel.

Abby with the help of her crew of five spirits "reads" the first file. She next picks up a second case, but realizes she accidentally grabbed the Lutz file. She says nothing about Lutz to Dutch. Abby barters with Candace: four months no rent in exchange for helping her investigate the Lutz case because she feels he is not the killer although he confessed. Candace learns that a PI on the case Darren Cox quit to become a loan officer at Universal Mortgage, owned by Wolfe, who Abby knows was at the McDaniel crime scene. Candace arranges for Abby to meet Cox so that she can go undercover as a loan officer at Universal.

The fifth Psychic Eye mystery is a clever whodunit that focuses on a more humanly foible than before Abby as she struggles to return to readings having failed to "see" the attempt on her life. Her undercover work upsets Dutch who knows she is up to something especially when he sees her hiding her face in the lap of another man, but trusts her to believe she is not cheating on him. Once again he enhanced by Candace makes Abby's psychic skills seem real although skeptical readers will question how easily strangers accept her "gift" without any doubt or scorn. Fans will enjoy Abby's return to what she does best.

Lisa Jackson
9780451221988 $7.99

In 1289 Wales, Bryanna of Penbrooke hates being different, a feeling she has had since as a little girl she could see people and animals that no one else saw. Over time, she learned to hide her curse to see what others could not from her neighbors so that she is not ostracized. However, her time has come to use her gift to fulfill an ancient prophecy. Reluctantly she begins her solo odyssey to Tarth, praying she will find guidance there as she searches for four jewels that make up a magical dagger.

Sixteen years ago, Hallyd the watcher killed a witch who just before she died cursed him to live in the darkness. His only hope to ever see sunlight resides with that witch's' daughter Bryanna coming into his shrouded woods. He knows she is the Fates' chosen one, but before she complete her destiny, he will make her lift her mother's curse from him

Lord Agendor sends his paid assassins to kill his son Gavyn. They almost succeed, but the severely wounded Gavyn makes it to Bryanna's camp. To his shock, he recognizes her as the female who has haunted his dreams; he believes he must protect her not aware that Hallyd is coming for her nor comprehending he endangers her with his father's killers coming for him.

This exhilarating medieval romantic fantasy grips the reader from the opening sequence in 1273 when Bryanna flees while her mother is murdered and never slows down as each of the players on Lisa Jackson's stage come together for a confrontational prophesy in 1289. The cast is solid as Bryanna the orphaned SORCERESS; Hallyd the patient Watcher; Gavyn the dream lover; and Agendor the killing ruler make the tale exciting. It is their destiny to complete the prophecy, but who will survive the ordeal will keep the audience reading SORCERESS in one superb sitting.

Lady Merry's Dashing Champion
Jeane Westin
9780451221926 $6.99

In 1667, the Cheatham family visits Whitehall Palace along with the servants. Meriel St. Thomas works as a maid to Lady Judith Cheatham so is at the palace when the King's spymaster William Chiffinch mistakes her for Lady Felice, wife of the Earl of Warborough and a traitor to England; Felice has abetted England's adversary the Dutch.

Once he realizes his mistake, William drafts Merry to pose as Felice so that the English can pass false messages through her to the Dutch. Felicity's spouse Giles Harringdon feels like an idiot as he finds himself still desiring his seditious wife; not understanding she is actually Merry. Finally needing to be alone with her, he abducts his spouse. Merry falls in love with Giles and he reciprocates until he learns the truth; but with London in danger there is no time to explore their feelings.

This is an exhilarating seventeenth century espionage romance that uses real persona and events to anchor the period, but belongs to the lead pair. Merry is a terrific protagonist who perhaps too easily converts from serving to being served. However, it is Giles who is the more fascinating character as he feels like the world's biggest fool for falling in love with his traitorous wife a second time. Fans will enjoy this action-packed historical tale that never slows down from the moment William assumes that Merry is Felice on a tryst until the final confrontation with London at stake.

Lady Be Bad
Candice Hern
9780451221919 $6.99

In 1813 an intoxicated Viscount John Grayston bets his friend Lord Sheane that he can seduce any aristocratic woman in London. He assumes every female wants either the "Great Lover" or the "Notorious Libertine"; he can play either role. He has three months to make it with the Bishop's widow, Grace Marlowe.

Grace is a member of the Merry Widows, but could never do what her friends do; instead she is a listener to their tales of boudoir conquests (see IN THE THRILL OF THE NIGHT and JUST ONE OF THOSE FLINGS). However, when John maneuvers Grace to be alone with him, she understands biblical Eve much more intimately as she knows temptation is this handsome rake, John assumes the Great Lover is what he needs to be in order to lure her into his bed so he slowly and gently seduces her. To his shock, she seems innocuous to his caresses, but is aroused by his caring of people and his horses, and that he seems genuinely interested in her charity efforts to help the less fortunate. They begin to respect one another, they fall in love, but the wager stands between them especially when Grace raises the ante.

The latest Merry Widows Regency romance is a fine tale starring a disreputable libertine and a reputable widow. The support cast, mostly the other widows and other gamblers, add depth although with so much side betting going on, Gambler Anonymous is needed in early nineteenth century London. The change in the lead couple's relationship makes for a fun lighthearted historical.

Eye of the Beholder
Shari Shattuck
9780451221995 $6.99

In the Los Angeles suburb Shadow Hills, The Eye of the Beholder Beauty Salon and day Spa is opened for business. Dario and Greer Sands own the shop and are close friends always there for one another. Greer is a psychic who has visions about future events. She currently has a strong sense that evil engulfs the town like a fog. She also has a vision of meeting three women who become her friends.

One of the trio is Whitney who is having problems with her stepdaughter Joy. Another is Leah whom she meets at the bank where Greer also gets bad vibes from the manager, Leah's abusive ex-husband. At the spa she meets Jenny who is angry that her spouse refuses to help her with her fledgling business. Greer and her seventeen years old son Joshua have visions of of Joy in danger; when she is abducted they assume her captor is the sadistic sexual predator who has struck before and killed once. Joshua keeps having visions until a spirit guide gives him clues where Joy can be fond, Greer has visions of Leah in peril.

Shari Shattuck is an eloquent storyteller whose special talent resides in her characters; realistic good and evil people who elicit reactions from readers. This is the first time Joshua's gift manifests itself and he has problems adjusting to his inheritance, but he bravely heeds what he sees to rescue Joy. There are several viable suspects who could be the murderer or at least committed criminal acts. That is the fun in this paranormal mystery as the audience tries to guess who the sadistic sexual predatory killer is before the Sands run out of time.

The Strand Prophecy
J.B.B. Winner
Missile Rider
515 W Commonwealth Suite 207, Fullerton California, 92832
9780979054884 $24.95

Strand stands outside the White House as a strange cloaked figure, who the Secret Service and other security tell to move on. He ignores their requests until he informs them he has a message for POTUS. The agents assume this is a threat scenario, but he ignores the myriad of men and women jumping on him as he just stands erect and still. They assume he wears armor while he knows it is an exoskeleton. As the world watches via the news one hundred agents with weapons pointed at him, Strand explains he is a reluctant Harbinger. He claims evolution is not a slow process, but rapid leaps and that we are entering an "accelerated evolutionary cycle" that means the end of humanity as we are; Strand leaves behind a research paper and leaps onto the White House and beyond as a thousand bullets are fired at him.

To his beloved sixteen years old nice Anna, Strand is Uncle Steve Cutter, a Darwinist researcher turned technologist. He fears evolution is coming with a big bang that will leave Homo sapiens no longer on top of the food chain. Scientists scoff at his assertions; the military covets his super soldier technology; the religious hierarchy disclaims him as a devil; and the president wants to keep his power at all costs. As Strand's proof surfaces with radical change occurring in newborn animals, he is accused of dangerous biogenetic reengineering; the president gives orders stop Strand.

THE STRAND PROPHECY hooks readers from the moment normal human Steve Cutter as the superhero Strand takes his stand in front of the White House before leaping off into the night like the Hulk. The story line is action-packed and fast-paced yet Strand especially as Steve comes across as a caring nurturing person who clearly loves Anna. Reminiscent of Marvel's Iron Man and Captain America, fans of powerful science fiction will enjoy this exhilarating tale of evolutionary leaps threatening humanity. This author is obviously a winner in more than just his name.

Moon in the Mirror
P.R. Frost
DAW Books, Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756404246 $24.95 1-800-847-5515

She is a Warrior of the Celestial Blade and bound magically to the imp Scrap. Her job is to make sure that demons don't enter this plane through portals and if they do, she has to send them back to their own realm. Her morning gets off to a bad start when her friend Allie the police officer calls her and tells she saw a young woman emerge from empty space and is being chased by garden gnomes with sharp teeth.

As Tess Noncoire goes to fix the problems, she thinks it is unfair because just before this assignment she fought against a Wendigo who wants revenge because Tess killed her mate. She discovers the woman is WindScribe, a witch who disappeared to faery with eleven other witches thirty years ago. She committed a crime in Fairy and King Scazz of the Orculli gnomes seeks to imprison her once again. In addition to dealing with a vengeful witch wanted by the Powers That Be; Tess's husband's ghost is haunting her, she has to hold Donovan at arms length because though he is not a demon, he is something else. She also has to worry about her mother when Darren, Donovan's demonic father marries her mother, needs a refuge for half demons and wants something that Tess owns.

MOON IN THE MIRROR is a fantastic magical urban fantasy in which the forces of good battle different evil beings in a series of high noon confrontations. Tess is a strong woman who although is tempted by Donovan and the ghost of her beloved she has the will power to resist temptation especially when the beings involved may be tainted by demonic forces. The biggest mystery is what Donavan's foster father's plan is and how will it impact the human race.

Reap the Wild Wind
Julie E. Czerneda
9780756404567 $24.95

On planet Cersi, the races of The Om'ray, Oud and Tikitik each possesses clearly marked territory; rarely except during the coming of age Passage does a member of one species trespass into the lands owned by the other two as that are key segments of the three principles that make up the planetary governance. The other criticality is that change is bad so nothing must transform on Cersi. Within the territory of the most privative of the three species, the Om'ray, are small tribal villages in which villagers except during the Passage never visit their neighboring villages as it has always been this way and will always be this way.

However aliens from the Trade Pact worlds of outer space arrive on Cersi. By their coming, they devastate the interrelationships between the species because regardless change has arrived from space. At the same time of the alien landing, an Om'ray female Arylis Sarc begins her rite of Passage trek by examining the outlawed M'hir power as she believes she can harness its usage, which will save her species from extinction as she fears the other two species and now this first contact outer space race will ultimately destroy them unless they embrace radical change.

Fans of the Trade Pact Universe trilogy will cherish the fabulous first act of the Stratification series, which is a prequel of the Clans when they still were planet bound. Although the story line provides a deep look into the three cultures especially the Om'ray, the action is non-stop as Julie E. Czerneda uses events for the audience to learn how the species lived before the first encounter and the beginning of the changes caused by the alien landing, which means Star Trek's Prime Directive is an impossible sham. Their coming encourages Arylis Sarc to further explore the taboo M'hir. Thus REAP THE WILD WIND is a coming of age science fiction tale at a time when people must choose between maintaining the status quo of centuries of customs and tradition vs. reaping the benefits of progress.

Highland Thirst
Hannah Howell & Lynsay Sands
Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
9780758220424 $12.00 1-800-345-2665

"Blood Feud" by Hannah Howell. In 1511 England, Lord Hervey Kerr captures Sir Heming MacNachton, whom he plans to torture until the Scotsman reveals his clan's secret for long life. The odious Englishman also holds prisoner his wealthy cousin Lady Brona Kerr whom he plans to force into marriage to his right hand man Angus. Brona frees Heming and with a few other prisoners begin a trek to safety even as he realizes she is his soulmate.

"Capture" by Lynsay Sands. At the same time his cousin Hervey was incarcerated, Tearlach MacAdie finds himself in chains in a dungeon. Also in chains is Lady Lucy Blytheswood whose brother was murdered by Lord Wymon Carbonnel. Like Heming Wyomon wants Tearlach's secret of long life, but he also plans to wed his other prisoner and frame the Scot as the killer of her sibling. Although Tearlach is not much help due to injuries, Lucy enables them to escape the dungeon. They flee for his home hoping to elude the outraged Wymon

Though clearly occurring concurrently, by keeping each tale separate the two authors make HIGHLAND THIRST an easier read. Refreshing this historical paranormal romance is the heroines are not only courageous risking their lives, they save the male leads. The smooth blending of vampires within the Scottish historical romance adds to the uniqueness of a delightful tale. Although the villains are too stereotypical vile even as each differs (they are the monsters not the vampires), readers will appreciate this fabulous collaboration between Hannah Howell & Lynsay Sands.

When I'm Not Myself
Deborah J. Wolf
9780758213846 $14.00

Six months and twenty three pounds ago, Jack Clancy dumped his wife of eighteen years Cara for a younger Barbie. Since he left, she came down three sizes from her size 11 married clothes, but struggles to being a swinging single as she finds the loneliness numbing in spite of sharing the house with their four kids; seventeen years old Katherine, ten years old William, eight years old Lucas, and seven years old Claire.

Cara's mom provides her usual support by blaming her for not being able to hold onto her man. Her best friends: Mel, Leah, and Paige try to help her by insisting Jack is an idiot and bringing covered dishes that are not eaten, but makes Cara feels like she is grieving; which she believes is true as she mourns the loss of her marriage. Clinging to a hope that he will come back ends when she meets by accident Barbie at the gynecologist on ironically Valentine's Day. Although Cara is still Jack's wife, Barbie carries his next offspring. Still she struggles with moving on even as she gossips with her support group in spite of Barbie pleading with her not to do so.

Although meeting coincidence is critical to the story line, fans will enjoy this fine family drama as Cara used to living with Jack must learn to live without him. The story line is character driven by the ensemble cast who provide unwelcome advice to Cara. However, the plot belongs to the heroine who goes through the Kubler-Ross five stages of catastrophic news: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Trouble Loves Company
Angie Daniels
9780758217455 $14.00

Although her husband adores her, romance author Renee Moore does not return his affection. Instead she believes that true love only exists in fairy tales or her novels. Her spouse fails to satiate her needs so Renee seeks other lovers, but her mate is willing to go kinky to satisfy Renee.

Practical Nurse Danielle Brooks cherishes young thugs. However her latest lover Ron is too far out for even her; he wants to be her baby while she is his mama. As she reconsiders the men in her life, her teenage daughter becomes pregnant accusing a young hunk as the father; a stud that Danielle desires; he denies he had sex with her daughter.

Administrative assistant Kayla Johnson is having an affair with the man she loves, Reverend Leroy Brown. She expects him to soon leave his wife and children for her. However, she revises her opinion of her beloved when she finds him cheating on her.

Friends Renee, Danielle and Kayla form a sisterhood as they depend on each other to help them through relationship crisis with the opposite sex.

Rotating perspective between each of the lead female trio; this is a deep look at three women whose respective self destructive behavior is deeply rooted from long time internalized demons. Each begins to overcome their detrimental makeup when they meet one another and form a support group. Readers who appreciate this well written tale that at times is difficult to read because realism is often not pretty. Angie Daniels takes the audience inside the heart of low esteem people who bond because troubled souls love miserable self-loathing company; yet finding one another brings self searching and the first flicker of optimism.

Nicholas: The Lords of Satyr
Elizabeth Amber
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758220394 $12.95

In 1823, the Elseworld Faery king knows he is dying. He makes one last demand of the scandalous Satyr siblings; he wants them to marry his three illegitimate daughters. With no choice the trio heads respectively to Rome, Venice, and Paris.

Lord Nicholas Satyr enjoys the last of his free time doing what he does best, seducing women. However, Nicholas understands his duty so he will wed the half-breed and sire an heir and a spare so his race survives, but he plans to also continue his womanizing ways. He meets and quickly marries Jane and takes her to his Tuscany vineyard estate. There he teaches her to be proud of her half-fey blood while also training her in the ways of passion. However, as she falls in love with her new husband, Jane fears she will never sexually satiate the Satyr lust of her spouse.

This heated historical romantic fantasy is nothing like the Regencies this reviewer grew up with; as the erotic scenes are multi flavored (the hero is a Satyr) yet the lead pair are fully developed so much so that the audience will believe in fey and half-breeds. Fans will appreciate the antics of the mentor and his student as she doubts she can satisfy his vociferous sexual appetite while he wonders if his seemingly constant throbbing lower head will stop standing at attention and rest at ease for more than a nanosecond after coming. Two more hot-bloods to go.

Double Dating With The Dead
Karen Kelley
Kensington Brava
9780758217653 $14.00

Psychic Selena James is more comfortable chatting with the dead than the living when things are going right. However, right now everything seems wrong since renowned skeptic writer Trent Sanders called her a lunatic on TV. Selena could survive the hunk's skepticism as she is used to the scorn of the disbelievers, but her outraged mother attacked him to put up or shut up; Trent humorously accepts the challenge of spending two week s at the haunted Garvey Hotel where mom insists her daughter will prove ghosts live; well make that exist on the mortal plane.

Trent makes Selena a side bet that when no spirit shows up she spends the night in his bed. Selena feels caught by conflicting emotion as she wants to prove ghosts exist, but also wants to spend the night, make that fortnight in his bed. However, two other long deceased residents see the pair as the perfect vessels for a sexual encounter of the spiritual kind.

Starting with the pinch in the butt, DOUBLE DATING WITH THE DEAD is a fabulously amusing paranormal romance. The story line lives up to its title metaphorically that is (not sure about that verb "lives" being entirely accurate) as the tale stars a wonderful enemy combatant lead human couple and impish matchmaking ghosts. Fans who appreciate a somewhat hot humorous humdinger with a different spin will appreciate Karen Kelley's superb story.

Edge of Midnight
Shannon McKenna
Kensington Brava
9780758211859 $14.00

Fifteen years ago, Sean McCloud's twin brother Kevin allegedly committed suicide; he did not believe the official report, but could do little about it. Distraught he sent his beloved girlfriend Olivia "Liv" Endicott away when she offered him solace and to keep her safe because he believed he was next.

In Washington State Liv's bookstore burns down on the day Sean returns into her life. He knows he blew it when he dumped her because he believes the person who killed Kevin is coming to kill her. He vows to keep her safe although Liv makes it clear she does not trust Sean; what she hides is that she mistrusts him with her heart because she still lives him. As they flee for their lives, they try to understand the clues Kevin left behind in a notebook and why their attraction to one another remains strong.

This exciting romantic suspense thriller should carry a warning label for those with heart conditions as the palpitations will begin from the smoky encounter between Sean and Liv. The story line is fast-paced as he now knows he must be at his beloved's side to keep her safe; staying away proved futile. At times very dark in tone and borderline implausible (no one will care except picky reviewers), EDGE OF MIDNIGHT is a fabulous second chance at love if they can stay alive long enough to enjoy being with one another.

The Black Sheep and the Princess
Donna Kauffman
Kensington Brava
9780758217257 $14.00

Heiress Kate Sutherland causes a media frenzy when he offers to trade her inheritance for a run down camp. Among those fascinated by her stance is former cop Donovan MacLeod, who thought of her as a spoiled rich girl when they knew each other over eighteen years ago.

Donovan looks Kate up because he is worried about her and has never forgotten her perhaps because he set a world record for cold showers. He thinks she is in trouble and plans to keep her safe although he wonders who will keep him safe from his desire for her. As they work on renovating the camp, they fall in love, but someone has other plans for her and her camp that Mac knows he must be on the alert to prevent, but how can he maintain vigil when his brain contains one coherent thought showering with Kate.

The relationship between THE BLACK SHEEP AND THE PRINCESS makes for an amusing heated contemporary romance. Fans will enjoy the witty teasing filled with double entendres as much as in your face commentary in bed, in the shower, over beer, and a few other locations. Although the threat seems off kilter, sub-genre fans will appreciate this lighthearted romp starring two delightful "not in love" bickering lovers.

The Northern Devil
Diane Whiteside
Kensington Brava
9780758212115 $14.00

On Christmas 1867 before attempting to flee her captivity by Albert Collins, Widow Rachel Davis insures her mom and sister are safe. Her family breaks free, but Albert and his son Maitland retake Rachel. His plan is for her to marry Maitland so that the Collins can fully control her late husband Elias' trust fund.

Her only hope is her late spouse's former secretary Lucas Grainger; he rescues her from Albert's thugs. While he hides who he really is from her, he continues to risk his life to keep her safe. Lucas knows he must break his vow to never marry as he realizes wedding Rachel and siring a child with her who would inherit the estate is the only way to block the diabolical Collins. However, he never considered that the Collins have no problem making her a widow for the second time.

Although the Collins father and son are over the top as villains with no redeeming qualities, the latest Diane Whiteside "Devil" tale (see THE SOUTHERN DEVIL) is an exhilarating Reconstruction Era romance. The vivid details of the train ride bring to life the post Civil War era, but the story line belongs to the hero and the lady is distress as fans will root for them to survive so their love can thrive.

Amie Stuart, Jami Alden and Bonnie Edwards
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758219237 $12.95

"Kink" by Amie Stuart. Manicurist Cherise loves the night life especially when she tastes wild sex. When she and air-conditioner repairman D'Angelo meet, the heart would melt a polar cap. However, his family thinks she, as the queen of kink, is too unconstrained when it comes to sleeping around.

"Down And Dirty" by Jami Alden. Business executive Taylor is irate over the noise coming from the house next door. She goes over to confront the cause of the racket only to find her in heat when she meets landscaper Joe; who plans to teach her how much fun it is to play in the dirt.

"Rock Solid" by Bonnie Edwards. Before the phone call, Florida carpenter Jake could not understand how a male could enjoy phone sex. Now he does as he lusts over Lexa who's asked him to come to Seattle to renovate a historic house. Fantasizing all the way across the country; once her arrives and meets Lexa, he knows his dreams seem pale next to the real thing. With ghostly matchmakers this pair seems destined for plenty of bed time.

The heat is on and never cools down as these three torrid erotic romantic novellas star enticing hunks and the women who know how to make them turn rock solid while going down and dirty with kinky sexual encounters.

Ceremony of Seduction
Cassie Ryan
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758220653 $12.95

Twenty-three years old Alyssa Moss has spent her life feeling like she must have been adopted. Whereas her sisters take after their parents as tall, lean and blonde, she is curvy, somewhat overweight, and brunette. In other words she is the ugly duckling living with swans. However, at night when she sleeps she dreams of a hunk calling her his beautiful princess as he makes love to her, but he vanishes just before she has an orgasm.

However, this time Stone arrives while she is awake. He tells her he has searched for years for her as she is their people's witch princess, who was banished by a rival coven to live in exile on earth. Her people need her desperately, but he needs her even more as he has dreamed of their making love forever. However, other covens have different plans for the lost princess.

This adult romantic fantasy version of the Ugly Duckling is a terrific tale starring two wonderful heroes especially Stone whose lovemaking makes Alyssa feels desired and beautiful. The story line is fast-paced once the pair meets in person even as their previous encounters give new meaning to wet dreams. Whether it is straight sex or anal, CEREMONY OF SEDUCTION is a fine erotic thriller even as much of the adversarial actions come late.

Sex With A Stranger
Katherine Garbera
Kensington Brava
9780758222299 $14.00

Jane Monte was the proper caring wife, but all that got her was a cheating spouse and an empty bankbook as he wiped out their accounts. She divorced the rat and vowed never again will she be a good girl.

Her test of her new resolve to have a few nights stand of sex with a hunk comes up quickly as the public relations specialist is in Vegas on business. In the casino Jane finds the perfect bad boy, gambler Liam O'Rourke who lights her fire. However, Liam is actually undercover as a favor to a friend. A firefighting expert, he pretends to be a gambler and womanizer, but is investigating a string of suspicious fires at the hotel. Liam and Jane are an inferno together as their passion is enhanced by love; but both agreed before hand nothing between them beyond Vegas even though each wants to keep the fire burning.

SEX WITH A STRANGER is an exhilarating heated romantic suspense thriller although the theme of a hurt good girl turning into a bad girl siren is as old as the first apple bite. Still Katherine Gabera refreshes the premise by having the hero go undercover as much as he goes under the cover. Readers will gain plenty of pleasure as the lead couple realizes that Vegas is not enough for them.

Antiques Maul
Barbara Allan
9780758211934 $22.00

Small town living in Serenity, Iowa is anything but dull for divorcee Brandy Bonne. After her marriage breaks up, she went home to live with her quirky and eccentric mother Vivian and her dog Sushi who she got custody of in the settlement. Her husband has custody of their son Jake who rightly blames her for the divorce. Both Brandy and her mother are seeing psychiatrists to get the murders that kept them on edge out of their systems and to deal with their other problems.

After solving one homicide, Brandy doesn't want to play amateur sleuth again but her mother wouldn't mind being in the middle of such a situation again. When her mother's good friend gets the director's position in the community theater that Vivian wanted, Brandy persuades her mother to open up a stall in the antiques mall. When they arrive there one day, they find the woman in charge dead and the victim's pet bull covered in blood; it looks like the dog killed her, but Vivian is positive she was murdered by a human. Brandy is afraid mom will try to prove her theory.

The second Trash 'n Treasure mystery is a delightfully charming cozy that keeps readers interested in the storyline because of the protagonists, Brandy and Vivian. Their witty repartee and Brady's attempt to keep her mother under control will have the audience laughing out loud. There aren't any viable suspects in ANTIQUES MAUL so readers will wonder if the dog actually did the deed. Barbara Allen is a terrific storyteller who knows how to grab and keep reader interest.

Blood Rose
Sharon Page
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758215444 $12.95

In 1818 London, on All Hallow's Eve Serena Lark turns twenty-five years old. That should be a milestone celebration for the young woman, but instead is a horrific upcoming event. As the offspring of a vampire and a mortal, she will turn vampire on that day unless vampire hunter Jonathon Sommersby and his partner Drake Swift can prevent the turn without having to kill her. It is already October 18th so the clock is ticking.

Malevolent vampire king Lord Lukos knows who Serena is and her place in his world. He wants her at his side as he believes she is the most powerful vampire queen ever as prophesied in the vampiric legends. While Jonathon and Drake struggle to keep Serena away from Lukos, they both fall in love with her whereas Serena loves both of her protectors. Could their desires destroy their partnership and friendship leading to Lukos succeeding or can they find another menage de trois third way to enjoy the passions of life and love?

The key to this entertaining erotic vampiric Regency romance is Serena. She seems genuine as a half-breed human and vampire about to totally turn; as such she makes vampires and vampire hunters appear genuine too. Hot, steamy, and dark, BLOOD ROSE is a terrific historical as the lead trio makes love and war.

Wolf Tales IV
Kate Douglas
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758218698 $12.95

Someone somehow is stealing the wolves from the High Mountain Wolf Sanctuary in Colorado. Lisa Quinn, who nurtures the wolves in the wild with a passion few people understand, plans to uncover the identity of the culprit and put a stop to this nefarious practice.

Chanku investigator Tinker McClintock seeks Lisa, who is ignorant of her wolf genetics, to keep her safe from the hunters. Both are stunned by the heated attraction they share at first sight, but Tinker understands why as she is his mate while Quinn cannot comprehend how intense she feels for the new acquaintance. As they make love, he caringly mentors her on her shapeshifting wolfish half. However, when a hunter captures Lisa in her wolf form, a raging Tinker and his pack risk their lives to rescue their newest member.

As always with the erotic paranormal romantic Wolf Tales, the fourth entry is Mercurial heat as the lead mates fall in love with a desire for one another that will burn the readers' fingers. The well written wolf abductions especially that of Lisa and the subsequent two whodunit investigations (by Lisa and by the pack) serves as a backdrop to the torrid relationship between the prime pair. WOLF TALES IV is an entertaining sexually graphic romance starring two wonderful shapeshifters.

The Careful Use of Compliments
Alexander McCall Smith
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780375423017 $21.95 1-800-726-0600

Edinburgh philosopher Isabel Dalhousie has recently given birth to a son Charlie, who is now three months old. Like most great philosophers, Isabel has doubts about her relationship with the child's dad, Jamie; though she admits to herself he is quite good with their offspring. Jamie has no doubts as he wants to marry her but doubt is Isabel's middle name or should be. Meanwhile Jamie's former-girlfriend, cafe owner Cat, still desires him, but fears Charlie has ended any hope of taking him back from her Aunt Isabel.

Isabel finds not only her relationship with Jamie challenged, but her pride and joy (besides Charlie that is) as the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics disputed due to unsavory academic politics. To get her mind away from how many of one hundred people have good intentions, she investigates the recent death of a relatively unknown but critically acclaimed painter who drowned in an accident and find out if t was a suicide or a homicide.

Interestingly the mystery is a clever set up to further enable the audience to understand the Pollyanna of philosophy Isabel Dalhousie. Even her relationships with doting Jamie and jealous Cat is upbeat although diapers is not quite her beat. Isabel remains optimistic about Charlie's future once the lad wipes his own butt. Fans of Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency tales will enjoy the Dalhouse stories although they are quite different.

In Darkness Reborn
Alexis Morgan
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781416546580 $6.99 1-800-223-2336

The Others and the Paladins are at war with one another. Yet when the Others exile one of their own Barak q'Young from their world, he finds refuge in Seattle due to physician and handler Dr. Laurel Young. Barak knows he lives because of her as the Paladins detest the Others as rabid beasts who always fall prey to the great madness if they don't kill one another first. Barak and Laurel's mate Paladin leader Devlin Bane have become somewhat friends; Devlin tells Barak he must leave because people are talking about his relationship with Laurel that could cause some fanatic to harm her.

They inform her that he is looking into the illegal sales of blue stones in which an unknown third party gains much from the constant fighting between Paladins and Others that harm both species. Devlin arranges for Barak to work with geologist Dr. Lacey Sebastian at the Geology Department to the outrage of her disabled brother a former Paladin. Although allies to a joint cause, neither quite trusts the other after years of assuming the worst about their foes. However, to both their chagrin, each is attracted to the other so when she is abducted he risks his life to save hers.

Barak has been a fascinating secondary player (see DARK PROTECTOR for the story of Devlin and Laurel) who proves to fans and Paladins that he is much more than just Dr. Young's "Pet Other". The story line is fast-paced and filled with action yet the tale belongs to the changing relationship between Barak and Lacey. Readers will appreciate this strong entry as the saga continues triumphantly with an incredible epilogue setting up the next crossover.

Rivals for the Crown
Kathleen Givens
9781416509929 $14.00

In 1290 Isabel de Burke and Rachel de Anjou have been best friends since they met as children. Although they vowed forever and still love one another as sisters, their friendship seems over as King Edward I decreed that all Jews must leave immediately. Rachel accompanied by her parents and sister leave England for Berwick where they buy an inn; at the same time Isabel becomes a lady-in-waiting to Queen Eleanor.

When Scotland's preadolescent queen dies while traveling to claim her throne, rivals John Balliol and Robert Bruce wage a civil war, which fits nicely into the plans of King Edward I to annex Scotland. Highlander Kieran MacDonald arrives at the de Anjou inn where he is meets and wants Rachel. However, he is fighting with Rory MacGannon to keep the English from ruling over Scotland so has no time for his heart's desire. Soon Isabel and Rachel reunite with the former and Rory attracted to each other. The two female friends are caught in the intrigue between England and Scotland and must decide between love for the Highlanders and love for England.

RIVALS FOR THE CROWN is a stupendous complex historical romance with the focus on the era. The epic saga uses the love between Rachel and Kieran, and Isabel and Rory to showcase the impact of war and royal intrigue on individuals as the two couples must make difficult choices that mean sacrifice of something cherished (love of country vs. beloved). Few authors can rival Kathleen Givens skill of transporting her audience so much so readers will feel they are along side the key cast members as late thirteenth century Scotland and to a lesser degree England comes alive once again (see the previous tale ON A HIGHLAND SHORE) in her wonderful novel.

Never Deceive a Duke
Liz Carlyle
9781416527152 $7.50

With the Napoleonic Wars part of the history books, shipping has returned somewhat to normal. Thus part owner of Neville Shipping, Gareth Lloyd, is doing quite well. However, he soon learns he has inherited the ducal estate that has driven him to succeed in obtaining wealth. Gareth deems it acrimoniously ironic that he is now the Duke of Warneham as the previous recipient of the title, his grandfather, exiled Gareth when he was the child Gabriel to a harsh life.

He considers ignoring the title, but reluctantly visits his new country estate, Selsdon Court. There he meets his predecessor's young widow, Antonia, who some suspect poisoned her elderly husband. They are attracted to one another, but both suffer from demons and besides neither trust the other as he considers whether she is a black widow and she wonders why his family disowned him. Meanwhile she still grieves the death of her daughter while he faces the same anti-Jewish bias that sent him away as a child.

The second "Never" a fabulous late regency romance that stars two likable individuals who hide their soft interior with an acerbic armor as both learned early in life to trust no one although Xanthia and Kieran (see NEVER LIE TO A LADY) has pierced Gareth's shield as they treat him like an adored brother. The story line is fast-paced with the changing relationship between Antonia and Gabriel, as only she calls him, being the prime plot supported by an investigation into the death of the previous duke and enhanced by the religious prejudice suffered by Jews. Liz Carlyle provides a fresh historical that showcases why she is consistently one of the sub-genre's best.

The Void
Mark Mynheir
Multnomah Books
12265 Oracle Blvd., Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781590524008 $12.99 1-800-929-0910

Palm Bay, Florida police officer Brad Worthington is murdered while following up a tip from an informer. The town's police chief Patrick Gailey fears his officers will seek vengeance just like he wants to do so especially after seeing the rookie's widow's and small children. Instead being the consummate professional he calls in a favor with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the killing of a cop.

Agent Robbie Sanchez is assigned the inquiry, which leads her to nearby Lifetex biochemistry research lab. When the firm's CEO and chief scientist vanish, Robbie follows their trail. Soon she learns of Project Adam, a genetic experiment to enhance the DNA by cloning humans into potentially evil supermen.

The third Thrill Chasers tale is an action packed tale that grips audience from the moment the Lifetex financial backers make it clear they want instant bottom line results and never slows down until the final twist. Whereas the first two dramas (see FROM THE BELLY OF THE DRAGON and ROLLING THUNDER) were inspirational pure police procedural tales; THE VOID contains powerful science fiction elements tied to the investigation. The key to the best Thrill Chaser to date is the testing of the beliefs of characters like Robbie who soon realizes that man's creation seems "greater" than God's creation.

Raisins and Almonds
Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590581681 $24.95 1-800-421-3976

When her Chinese lover Lin Chung leaves Australia on business in Shanghai, Phryne Fisher finds a handsome diversion, Simon Abrahams at a public dance hall. Soon afterward they compete at the Foxtrot Competition run by the Jewish Young People's Society in which Phryne is the exotic shiksa. They win the contest but lose the "heat" as Phryne is not a member. While much of the Braille Hall ballroom participants debate the ruling of the judges, Simon's Uncle Marek informs his nephew that his father Benjamin wants to meet his dance partner.

Benjamin asks Phryne for a favor. A different Simon, a Jew from Salonika was poisoned at Lee's Books New and Secondhand Shop. The evidence was swept away by the owner Miss Sylvia Lee and the certifying physician Dr. Stein. The police arrest Miss Lee, as the victim owed her money and she is the only person who could easily have slipped strychnine into his tea and clean the cup afterward. Phryne charges him 10 "oy" quid a day with the understanding that she will seek the truth which could be a Jew killing a Jew. As she investigates, Phryne digs deep into the Jewish community in Australia where chicken soup cures most everything and RAISINS AND ALMONDS are a tradition, but can either solve a murder with political implications?

The latest Phryne Fisher historical whodunit is a great period piece that brings to life the Jewish culture in Australia in the late 1920s. Phryne remains a unique protagonist who defies society rules for single women as she does what she wants flaunting society's restrictive dictates. The mystery is clever with a few twists and the way the sleuth finally figures out the case is brilliant as she understands human nature. Readers will appreciate this vivid deep mystery but never look at RAISINS AND ALMONDS the same way as before digesting Phryne Fisher's newest caper.

The Drop Edge of Yonder
Donis Casey
Poisoned Pen
9781590584460 $24.95

In 1914 Oklahoma Alafair Tucker thinks the summer so far has been quiet, dry and hot on the farm as she and her spouse Shaw raise their horde of offspring. Life can be hard as she knows having two children of the twelve she birthed die on her, but right now Alafair kicks off her shoes having a child under one year old after a seven year gap.

However, the idyll of the summer of 14 ends when someone kills her half-brother-in-law Bill McBride and rapes his fiancee Laura Ross. With them riding at the time were Alafair's daughters, twenty-one years old Mary whose head was grazed by a bullet and fifteen years old Ruth. Mary suffers from partial amnesia. The killer-rapist tries to murder Laura. Sheriff Scott Tucker officially leads the investigation, but knows his cousin by marriage Alafair will solve the case as she has done before (see HORNSWOGGLED and THE OLD BUZZARD HAD IT COMING); he needs to stay near her and keep her safe.

As with the previous Tucker tales, the atmosphere is incredible so much so that the audience will believe they are spending the summer of 1914 on the Tucker farm. The whodunit is cleverly devised as Alafair knows Mary has the truth if she can only remember. Fans of historical mysteries will appreciate this superb Sooner story as it is Oklahoma just before WW I that makes Donis Casey's saga an excellent read.

In the Shadow of the Glacier
Vicki Delany
Poisoned Pen
9781590584484 $24.95

Trafalgar, British Columbia lies IN THE SHADOW OF THE GLACIER. The town is a quiet place where violent crime never happens; for instance the average murder rate is zero. That is until today. Behind Alphonse's Bakery lies Reginald "Reg" Montgomery, an American draft dodger who fled to Canada with his wife Ellie to avoid military conscription, which means serving in Viet Nam. The townsfolk were divided when it came to Reg. Some, especially storeowners, appreciated the way he supported small locally owned mom and pop shops purchasing only there; no Wal-Mart for him; others thought he was a pompous wealthy American buying favors.

In death he remains a divider as he has bequeathed money and land to the town with the stipulation that a garden be built and maintained honoring draft dodgers. Detective Sergeant John Winters leads the homicide investigation. He is outraged when rookie Constable Molly Smith, who was the first cop at the crime scene, is assigned to assist him; as he assumes she is political appointee arranged by her activist mother who supports the garden. As they struggle with the clues and disagree over motive, outsiders invade Trafalgar to join one of the two squabbling sides debating Reg's legacy, but they only muddle the muddy water.

This is an entertaining small town regional police procedural in which anyone could have been the killer, but no one stands out of the crowd. John is a good cop who resents Molly on his team; Molly realizes how he feels so she knows she must prove herself worthy to overcome the stigma in at least the mind of her leader of her mom. Fans will enjoy this well written mystery that reminds readers of the divisiveness of the Viet Nam war even in Canada.

False Fortune
Twist Phelan
Poisoned Pen
9781590583630 $24.95

In Arizona attorney Shelby Dain adds her sister lawyer Hannah onto a suit against the Feds. The Tohono O'Odham Native American tribe is suing the government for uranium pollution of Lake Lagunita. Hannah wants to be friends with her older sister so would do just about anything except tell her about a half-sister Anuya they have that she just learned exists.

While feeling they are being followed on the road that circles the lake, Hannah notices a car plunge into the water. She along with Jerry Dan Kovacs rescues the driver. Soon afterward Hannah is actually named lead counsel on the uranium pollution case. Hannah realizes that someone does not want this case going to court and that unknown adversary will kill to insure that never happens. She wonders if perhaps her new friend Jerry Dan who showed up in the nick of time is the culprit or perhaps her half-sister Anuya who suddenly seems to be a target for no apparent reason. As she digs deeper, her doubts grow wider so that even her former boyfriend Cooper Smith, who has acted strangely, is a suspect, as someone wants her off the case in any way possible.

The latest Pinnacle Peak Mystery (see HEIR APPARENT, FAMILY CLAIMS and SPURRED AMBITION) combines a twisted family entanglement with a fine environmental legal thriller using the Arizona desert as a terrific backdrop to the action. Hannah holds the plot together as she struggles to connect with Shelby after years of estrangement and with Anya whom she just recently learned was her late mother's other offspring from a different father. Father ties aside, the environmental suit is relevant, complex and as convoluted as is the heroine's family relationships. Twist Phelan provides a strong Pinnacle Peak entry.

Noble Lies
Charles Benoit
Poisoned Pen
9781590584507 $24.95

Former Gulf War I veteran Mark Rohr works as a bouncer in the resort community Phuket, Thailand. Fellow American Robin Antonucci offers Mark five thousand dollars to find her missing brother Shawn Keller, who vanished after the horrific tsunami devastated Phuket a couple of years ago.

Mark agrees although he does not trust Robin as something is OUT OF ORDER with her request leading him to believe she is not telling him the full truth. She explains her sibling is a diver so they visit diving shops and business that employ divers. They also investigate whorehouses and sleazy bars. Every person they question offers nothing except trouble as someone, perhaps the target of their search, wants Shawn to remain MIA.

The key to this Thai thriller besides the fabulous location is that the prime players especially the hero and the villains have good and bad qualities that make them seem real. The story line is fast-paced and filled with red herrings and incredible but plausible twists that will keep the audience reading in anticipation of the next spin. Fans will appreciate Charles Benoit as he continues to earn the reputation of an overseas travel guide to action and adventure (see OUT OF ORDER and RELATIVE DANGER).

Mademoiselle Victorine
Debra Finerman
Three Rivers (Crown)
9780307352835 $13.95

In 1858, her two aunts who fed her dumped their fourteen year old niece Victorine Laurent; leaving her to fend for herself. She vowed to make it, not realizing how difficult that will prove for a penniless waif with no family as only one avenue exists in Paris for those who are nothing.

Four years later Victorine joins the chorus of the Paris Opera with her intention to become the mistress of a wealthy man for that is the sole escape from the street. Degas introduces Victorine to Edouard Manet, who paints her portrait to the shock of Parisians. Duke de Lyon, Emperor Louis-Napoleon's prime advisor, asks Victorine to be his exclusive mistress, but that means giving up totally on Manet even as her past surfaces in such a way that she might soon be back on the streets.

This is an interesting historical fiction that brings to life the conjoining of art, business, and government at a critical point in both fields as Napoleon III tries to widen his influence and the Impressionists are becoming the prime school. The use of real events and genuine characters help anchor the sense of being in Paris in the late 1860s. However, Victorine adapts too easily to any circumstance she comes across by changing her wardrobe; still readers will enjoy her dalliances to be all that she is allowed to be.

Indian Summer
Alex Von Tunzelmann
Henry Holt & Company
175 - 5th Avenue, Suite 400, New York, NY 10010-7725
9780805080735 $30.00 1-888-330-8477

The aftermath of WW II reverberated around the globe at midnight on August 15, 1947, when the British Empire for practical purposes ended. Although some colonies remained in the fold, the crown jewel India was freed. Four hundred million people gained their liberty, but perhaps one million died in the ensuing fighting to carve out segments of the subcontinent and many more millions were exiled as ethnic cleansing took hold from Kashmir to Pakistan to India to the Sikh region.

The key players on the world stage were English diplomat Louis Mountbatten, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Islamic League leader Mohammed Ali Jinnah and the ever presence of the mythical Mohandas Gandhi. Alex von Tunzelmann provides the epic picture, but uses that as background to enable readers to get inside and personal with those critical leaders who history books paint heroically, but the author places them under a microscope revealing their flaws as well as their more known strengths. Whereas Gandhi served as a moral example to emulate, he allowed no grays or compromise as the Moslems and Sikhs learn first hand. Whereas Jinnah helped create East and West Pakistan as a viable but geographically split nation, he wanted nothing to do with the British or the Hindi so he also ignored the poverty of what would later become independent Bangladesh. Mountbatten thought he was a great diplomat but his issues were flag designs while people died on the streets and his much more capable spouse had a tryst with Nehru, Ghandi's son-in-law and moral heir apparent. Historical readers will enjoy this deep look at "The Secret History of the End of an Empire" as those placed on pedestals find their statues somewhat crumbling under Ms. Von Tunzelmann's somewhat titillating review.

Recovery Man
Kristine Katherine Rusch
9780451461674 $6.99

On the Jovan moon Callisto, Recovery Man Hadad Yu abducts Rhonda Shindo for his client the alien Gyonnese; apparently she failed to make remittance on an agreement they had; handing over her daughter to them as payment. However, this Recovery Man demands the true daughter not the clone Talia living with Rhonda. She refuses, but he insists she broke Earth Alliance law so he will take her instead.

After learning from House that her mom was out of range Talia who assumes she is thirteen earth years, now knows of cloned "false children" and that she is one of at least five. Soon afterward, the Aleyd Corporation claims possession of Talia the clone as if she is an object while the cops search for her disappeared biochemist mom. At the same time, Retrieval Artist Miles Flint follows a clue found in a secret file of his late mentor Paloma that implies his daughter Emmeline is not dead as he thought, but lives on Callisto where he will soon find himself in the middle of the search for Rhonda Shindo.

Fascinatingly, Flint plays a relatively minor role considering he has been the hero of the previous retrieval artist tales. No one will care because from the opening scene when Hadad confronts Rhonda, readers will be hooked with strong characterization starring in a powerful science fiction thriller. The prime cast is fully developed; Talia has doubts about life now that's he knows she is false child; Rhonda is Machiavelli playing poker; and Hadad actually has major pangs or regret and doubt that he is doing the right thing. Fans of the series will relish this fresh entry while newcomers will learn quickly how superb a writer Kristine Katherine Rusch is.

The Sunrise Lands
S.M. Stirling
9780451461704 $24.95

At the end of the twentieth century the Change occurred suddenly and stunningly; it left all technological advances of the past two centuries inoperative. Across America, people were stunned with the loss of taken for granted conveniences like electricity and computers, etc.

In Western Oregon by CY22 (Change Year 22), most, if not all locals, have adapted to the Change living in peaceful cooperation until the traveler from the east arrives. The stranger informs the tribe that he seeks Rudi Mackenzie, whose destiny the outsider insists is to learn what destroyed America and what technology can be salvaged. Meanwhile in the former Wyoming and Montana the Prophet and his Church Universal and Triumphant followers believe that God has sent them to destroy any remains of the technological serpent that drove people away from the heavenly father.

Now S.M. Stirling continues his alternate America with the second decade since the Change as a generation who never tasted technology is heading into adulthood. Thus the story line is fast-paced but also refreshed as Rudi, born of non technology, begins his odyssey across a world filled with Death Zones, massive deserts, and special interest sects protecting their little fiefdoms from outsiders. The audience does not need to read the previous set of the trilogy to appreciate this strong coming of age in a post technological un-United States.

Stephen Baxter
Ace Books
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780441014965 $24.95 1-800-847-5515

As predicted by the Menologium of the Blessed Isolde Prophecy, invincible Rome is no more especially in the remote areas like Britannia (see EMPEROR); gone by AD 409. These nine stanzas, written on parchment in the Old English, predict the rise and fall of the powerful when the comet comes as treachery, avarice and adversary are the norm.

Although they know the Roman legions left their island two centuries ago, in AD 607 young Saxon Wuffa and the Norse warrior Ulf travel together seeking the last Roman who they believe possesses the parchment. They believe possession of the parchment will bring them power even if it means death to the current guardian.

Late in the eighth century, a girl disguised as a boy holds the parchment while residing at Lindisfarne Monastery until the Vikings attack in AD 793 seeking to destroy all known copies of the parchment, but they failed to destroy her memory of the words. Almost a century later, Alfred the Great retakes London. Finally in AD 1066 William the Conqueror defeats Saxon King Harold at Hastings. All predicted by the Prophesy in its stanzas.

The second book in the Time's Tapestry, CONQUEROR is a fabulous fictionalized account of four bloody pivotal periods in English history (spanning just less than five centuries). The current saga is broken into four segments, which makes for easier reading over a few days. Each entry enables the audience to see deeply with how people lived and tried to survive during tumultuous violent periods while the enigmatic Weaver lurks in an apparent futuristic background. Fans will appreciate Stephen Baxter's fine epic tale that can stand alone, but enhanced by reading EMPEROR first and look forward to the next cycle NAVIGATOR that will take us to 1492.

Many Bloody Returns
Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner (Editors)
97804419015221 $24.95

These thirteen new vampire tales focus on the theme of birthdays (and many happy returns). Although the theme is incredibly narrow and restrictive, the contributors provide fresh interesting tales with no losers and star some of the more famous series characters; this the collection serves as a great introduction (albeit limited) to heroes of the supernatural. The most innovative entry is "Twilight" by Kelley Armstrong in which she insists a vampire's birthday is the day they convert as that is a rebirthing. The rest of the stories make for a fun compilation with the lively authors being superstars in the undead realm such as Jim Butcher (with Harry), P.N. Elrod (with Fleming), and Charlaine Harris (with Sookie), etc. Still singing happy birthday thirteen times even too many series favorites can become a bit long in the tooth and difficult to blow out the zillion candles for some of the recipients; this reviewer suggests leisurely enjoying the anthology over a few weeks.

The Queen of Wolves
Douglass Clegg
9780441015238 $23.95

He is called the "Anointed One", the Maz-Sherah, named so by Merod the Priest of the Blood. He feels no different than any other vampyre as he flees with Pythia, a mortal vampire since she put on the Gorgon Mask, from a land torn apart from feuding vampires who want to take over another vampyre's land and believe they have the right to do so. Although Aleric doesn't trust Pythia, she is carrying his child and so he keeps an eye on her knowing she can turn on him at any second.

The veil between the worlds is thinning, and Medya, The Dark Mother, is trying to return to the realm she was exiled from and lay waste to all that opposed her. On the battlefield where the sorcerers fight the crusaders, Pythia and Aleric raise an army from the dying who choose to accept the Sacred Kiss. Aleric, with another vampire, travels to the city of Myrrad. There the serpent God gives him the weapons needed in the upcoming battle against Medya and the Myrrydanai priests at Taranis-H, also called White Robes. Inside the city are Pythia and his two mortal children. If Aleric loses the war, all he loves will be destroyed.

This is the last book in the Vampyricon Trilogy and it ties up all the loose ends and ensures all the key questions not addressed in the previous two books are answered. Although more action oriented than the first two books (see THE PRIEST OF BLOOD and THE LADY OF SERPENTS) in this fabulous series, the characters are fully developed and readers get a better understanding of what motivates them. Douglas Clegg is equally a good storyteller in the horror realm as he is the fantasy area and readers who like him in one genre will also like him in the others. His world-building is so magical that spellbound readers find themselves transported into the Clegg realm to trek alongside Aleric.

Kelly McCullough
9780441015382 $6.99

Necessity created the magical web (mweb) in order to interconnect the infinite worlds of the multiverse as a means to keep chaos under control. Sorcerer Prince Ravirn of the house of Fate was chosen as the web administrator because of his superior hacker skills. However, as is his way, alienates his three great-aunts, the Fates (Clothos, Atropros, and Lachesis). Actually it was Lachesis who exiled her nephew and his best friend webgoblin-laptop Melchior from the family; while Clothos renamed him Raven of chaos.

Ravirn's (Don't call me Raven) girlfriend Cerice mourns the death of her webpixie-PDA Shara, who died saving her mistress; life. Making her grief insurmountable and driving Raven crazy is that Shara the PDA contained Cerice's doctorate in Computer Science. Thus her paper is on the other side of the River Styx with no way of retrieving it without trickery. Ravirn has a plan to fool his poker buddy Cerberus, the guardian of the underworld and hack into Lucifer's database to retrieve Shara. Ravirn succeeds, but the outcome proves different than he imagined. Instead of kisses, he finds the mweb is falling apart as if a worm is eating away one byte at a time and Lucifer is madder than hell that someone hacked into his computer. As his great-aunts predicted Ravirn has brought chaos into order and they fear that even worse he plans to fix his mistakes by deleting and rebooting the multiverse.

This zany mixing of computer technology with mythology is a cleverly designed satire in which the audience will have a great time following the antics of Ravirn in the mythological information age. The amusing story line spoofs American top secret paranoia as Ravirn hacks into Lucifer's protected database and abducts Shara from the other side while correcting his miscues with greater errors. Readers who appreciate something different will want to read this enjoyable insane sequel to the as much fun and crazy WEBMAGE.

Invasive Procedures
Orson Scott Card & Aaron Johnston
Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765314246 $25.95 1-888-330-8477

George Galen is the leading geneticist in the world. However, the brilliant research scientist has no ethics except his own. Thus disgraced for crossing lines, his work healing diseases through fixing DNA via a virus V-16 has proven successful when customized to the individual; when not properly adapted tragedy occurs. Galen also has tinkered with his patients' DNA to improve their healing capacity and to turn them into stronger and faster humans. Finally he also has insured this revised super model Healer obeys his command.

To make his work pragmatic Galen needs the cooperation of a super thoracic surgeon. He targets highly regarded Dr. Monica Owens because she is easily vulnerable. He abducts her weakness, her six-year-old son, Wyatt. If she wants Wyatt kept alive, Monica will do Galen's bidding. She accompanies the insane Galen to an abandoned nursing home where he has a living lab of involuntary human guinea pigs for Monica to alter their DNA. Federal Biohazard Agency virologist Lieutenant Colonel Frank Hartman has found the antidote to Galen's DNA altering virus. The mad scientist plans to neutralize the threat by capturing and changing Hartman's DNA to make him less brilliant and more willing to cooperate.

INVASIVE PROCEDURES is an interesting action-packed medical thriller that grips the audience from the moment readers meet egomaniacal Galen who blames government interference for his failures and his intelligence for his successes (classic conservative). The story line is fast-paced and fun to read although there are no twists as fans will know from the onset the end game. Still the cast is strong and the ethical questions raised on where to draw the ethical boundary on research and what is the government's role seems relevant with current debates over ideology twisting/ignoring the pertinent facts.

Fleet of Worlds
Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner
9780765318251 $24.95

In 2198 Earth standard time, the Citizens of the Ice World captured the human colonial space ship Long Pass. Over the half of millennium since, the Citizens aka as Puppeteers carefully bred the humans to insure docility and obedience to their masters, and indoctrinated their drones with tales of rescuing the original crew drifting in space. Thus by 2650, human Colonists are loyal to their string pulling masters.

However, Colonist explorers led by Citizen Nessus contact the starfish shaped Gw'oth, who in a few generations converted from fire to atomic fusion. If the geometric rate of technological progress continues the Colonists fear that in the not too distant future, the "primitive" Gw'oth will move ahead of humanity. The crew finds shocking evidence that the Citizens, who seemingly have vanished, are actively involved, but that they lied about the twenty-second century original encounter. Thus as the Fleet of Worlds flees to avoid the radioactive waves emitting concentrically out from the galaxy core's deadly supernova chain reaction, Colonist Kirsten Quinn and her crew who scout ahead of the fleeing orbs thinks otherwise. She believes the Gw'oth are light years ahead as they use a collective mindset to solve issues that enable the species to make geometric leaps in technology in a short time.

FLEET OF WORLDS is an interesting Puppeteer entry that will be difficult for newcomers to fathom how the Colonists got to where they are without reading at least RINGWORLD. The story line is action-paced as the FLEET OF WORLDS flees the destruction of the galaxy while also for the first time since the captivity in the middle of the twenty-second century, humans questions their origin. Larry Niven's fans will appreciate his collaboration with Edward M. Lerner as this is an exciting outer space thriller.

The Well Of Ascension
Brandon Sanderson
9780765316882 $27.95

The battle to take the Lord Ruler down is over and the rebels won although it was Vin who struck the decisive lethal blow. Now that the empire is destroyed kingdoms with petty rulers as their monarchs want to take his place. Two such rulers are besieging the Central Dominance's largest city Luthadel, where Vin's lover Elend rules as a benevolent king who insisted on having a council with real powers help make the laws.

Vin is one of the most powerful Mistborns in the former empire who burns all the metals in her body, each giving her an incredible power. She is her lover's bodyguard because she knows his enemies from within the city and without will try to kill him. She loves him dearly but isn't sure she is good enough for him because he was raised as a noble and she was once a homeless street urchin who went from one gang to another for protection. One of the kings taking part in the siege is Elend's father who has a Mistborn ally Zane who is enchanted by Vin and makes her question her role in Elend's life.

Readers will be fascinated by what takes place in a city under siege and root for Vin and Elend to live through this dangerous time. Although there is as much introspection as there is action in THE WELL OF ASCENSION readers will become so absorbed in the plot that they will be unable to put the book down because the characters fascinate them. Told in the third person viewpoint by many characters, this epic fantasy is a stand alone book although a clear successor to Book One MISTBORN

The Wanderer's Tale
David Blisborough
9780765318671 $24.95

Five centuries ago on Lyndormyn, the heroic Peladanes defeated the evil rawgr Drauglir and his supernatural minions. Their victory ended a monstrous reign of terror.

However, the Peladanes failed to kill Drauglir. Appa the cleric claims to have seen Drauglir's return in a vision. No one except warriors Nibulus and Finwald believe him, but they fail to raise an army to stop the rawgr at their fortress; no one believes them besides the descendents of those heroes of five hundred years ago. People are living the good life and refuse to sacrifice. Meanwhile the rawgr have been spotted in their broken fortress Vaagenfjord Maw in the northern wasteland as they have begun an assault on humans. A band of six (Appa, Finwald, Nibulus, his pal Methuselech, a mercenary, and Bolldhe the destined one) begin the quest to kill Drauglir.

This exciting, relevant fantasy contains parallels to the current American Global War Against Terrorism as most of the populace live in prosperity, see no threat, and have not been asked to sacrifice their affluent lifestyle for centuries. However, unlike President Bush, Appa actually pleads with people to help him and his compatriots to save their realm, but most are too detached to care what is happening in the far north. Although somewhat typical of a save the world fantasy quest, fans of the sub-genre will root for the magnificent six warriors with their differing personalities and personal agendas as they set forth to stop the evil Drauglir.

The Phoenix Unchained
Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory
9780765315939 $27.95

When the Flowering War ended, the Darkness was defeated and the land has known a millennium of peace. The elves and the rest of the other folk isolated themselves in the Northern lands. The humans multiplied along with the brownie, fauns, and centaurs, who stayed with them. Tiercel Rolfort reads a book of magic and suddenly can light fires using High Magic that he can learn unlike Wild Magic which people are blessed with instinctively knowing how to use.

There is nobody to teach Tiercel magic as Wild Magic is found only in times of need. Tiercel needs a wild mage because he is kept up nights dreaming about a demonic woman, fire and another entity. They are something evil and Tiercel finally realizes that he is seeing the future and he must journey to where this woman is. First though, he and his friend Harrier journey to find a Wild Mage hoping that one knows how to stop the visions from returning. The journey takes them into the land of the elves where both learn what fate has in store for them.

Set in the same world as the Obsidian trilogy, THE PHOENIX UNCHAINED is book one of the Enduring Flame saga and is a fantastic spellbinding epic fantasy. The heroes Tiercel and Harrier need each other as close friends will during a crisis; the latter especially watches out for the former who gets them in trouble. Their repartee and quips add a touch of humor to a very enchanting quest tale.

Dragon and Judge
Timothy Zahn
9780765314185 $17.95

By the time he was three years old Jack Morgan was an orphan. His con artist Uncle Virgil raised him in a strange manner as befits the man's occupation of swindling people all over space.

Jack knew no other lifestyle until he saves the life of Draycos, a symbiont dragon looking species. They become friends and set off on learning who destroyed Draycos' K'da/Shontine people with the skill of Draycos leaping onto Jack's back and turning into what looks like a tattoo when necessary. As they find clues, aliens abduct Jack to serve as a judge even as a plot rises to set him up for arrest. At the same time his friend Alison Kayna and her newly acquired symbiont are kidnapped by those willing to torture her to obtain information so that they can annihilate the K'da/Shontine fleet. Jack and Draycos must save the day or at least Alison and her symbiont must, but their chances for success seem almost impossible.

Although the Dragonback series targets teens, readers of all ages will appreciate the well written saga (see DRAGON AND SOLDIER). DRAGON AND JUDGE is a terrific tale that plays out on two levels, the ethnic cleansing of a species and the attempts to criminalize Jack with a clever frame. As with the previous four novels, this book can stand alone as a superior outer space action thriller.

Robert Charles Wilson
9780765309396 $25.95

The Hypotheticals, self-replicating machines and perhaps so much more put Earth in stasis for four billion year and when it emerged, an arch was built that connects Earth to the new world that can only be reached by boat. Humans have colonized the new World many who have prices on their head. Ab who has taking anti-aging medicines created from the parts of mechanicals lives on the New World in comparative freedom compared to the earth where it is outlawed.

Lisa Adams has come from Earth to the New World to find out what happened to her father after he disappeared. She teams up with Turk Findlay who has connection to the fourths and he takes her to the location where he dropped Sulean moi off. They find a splinter group of fourths who performed ethical surgery ingesting part of the mechanical into the embryo that eventually become insane. They hope to make contact with the mechanical but what happens creates more questions than before.

If any book deserves a sequel, this one does. It would be great to know what the mechanicals are; if they are sentient; if they are powerful enough to change the course of a species destiny. This exciting scientific fiction thriller demonstrates just how great a story teller Robert Charles Wilson is. Readers will thoroughly enjoy the entertaining storyline which will be read in one sitting.

Susan Palwick
9780312866020 $15.95

In the future, colossal storms have devastated climates and the pandemic CV virus has killed off much of the human populace. MacroCorp CEO Preston Walford is a victim of the disease, but his intelligence is transferred into a virtual cyber-being. His "machine" has been declared legally a person as has some other transformations. This angers those opposed to artificial intelligence even if it originated in a God given natural state. However Preston could not care less about protestors who are like gnats in his mind; his plan is to change society into his image.

However, he keeps track of his estranged daughter Meredith, who cannot conceive so has adopted an African infant who survived the ravage of a virus. However, her Nicholas suffers from horrible nightmares of monsters that he must kill or die. Meredith tries to help her beloved son with the aid of excessive altruistic Roberta Danton and Fred the AI as mom realizes her child has been brainwiped probably by her father. Soon all those who offered solace will learn that the worst crime a person can commit is caring for another human.

This multifaceted science fiction contains two major complicated subplots that tie together through the Meredith's relationships with her dad and her son. One theme focuses on the war as big business AI supporters (dad) vs. the anti-AI radicals. However, that subplot though well written lacks the heart of the other major subplot, caring for Nicholas in a world where kindness and compassion for others can prove deadly. Science fiction fans will appreciate Susan Palwick's horrifying look at a near future San Francisco.

They Came from Below
Blake Nelson
9780765314239 $17.95

Seventeen year old Emily and her best friend Reese have one thing on their mind (and other parts of their bodies), finding boyfriends for the summer at Cape Cod. However, their vacation starts with a strange twist as Emily finds a white blob on the beach. However, the authorities take it away so Emily gets back to the prime directive of finding a boyfriend.

Emily and Reese meet handsome German exchange students Steve and Dave; they know they have found their boyfriends. However, the male teens, who have the ability to heal people and communicate with any living organism, are leaving the planet shortly due to the levels of pollution harming them. First they must rescue a fellow ET captured by the government, followed by heroes' kisses from the girls, and then finally depart.

The fun in this young adult science fiction lies in the comparisons between the sets of teens. The American females have one goal: boyfriends; the exchange students also have one goal: rescuing an ET (though hugs and kisses with the girls is a nice byproduct). Teens will enjoy this lighthearted romp as the two teenage girls believe they finally succeeded in obtaining boyfriends even if THEY CAME FROM BELOW. Emily and Reese understand the most wonderful summer of their lives.

Whitley Strieber
9780765318961 $24.95

While working at the bottom of the pyramid of Khufu, Martin Winters feels a strong vibration and escapes before the sacred site explodes leaving a lens like object. All over the globe, sacred sites explode revealing more lens like objects and at night they emit blood red discs that suck the souls out of humans turning them into a zombie like condition. The beings behind this atrocity are not aliens from another world but shape shifting reptilians from an alternate earth who want to take over this earth because they polluted their world to the point of making it an uninhabitable hell.

The seraphs as they are called on the world of Abaddon plan their invasion for December 21, 2012 a special date in the Mayan calendar where earth is at a certain loci in the galaxy. This event happens only once every twenty-six thousand years. The dimensional barrier thons at this point and the seraphs expect an easy victory since they put their own people in position of power on earth to facilitate the take over. They don't take into account the resiliency of the human spirit or the heroes who vow to live free by defeating them or die trying.

What the beings of Abaddon want to take over is not our earth but another alternate terra that has two suns, no moon, a Tsarist Russia and French and British empires. The action is non-stop and readers find themselves totally absorbed in this refreshingly original storyline. The villains are evil but seem cartoonish at times while people who fight the seraphs give all to free their world from the monsters. Whether they succeed or not, civilization as we know it will be changed forever.

Natural Ordermage
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
9780765318138 $27.95

On the island of Recluse, master scribe Kian mentors his apprentice younger son Rahl; his older offspring Kacet is a member of the Guards of the council stationed at Reflin. Unbeknownst to Kian, to avoid hassles and make life easier on himself, Rahl serendipitously uses tiny doses of order magic when he thinks the time deems to do so. However, his efforts to conceal his illegal use prove futile as the Council magisters trace his misuse back to him.

The council has Rahl tested to ascertain the strength of his ability and why the rules of magic seem not to apply to him. Between his impulsive youthful temper and his seemingly out of control skill, the Council exiles him across the sea to the wilds of Hamor; a place where he will either learn to control himself and his order magical usage working on export-import trade or die. Either outcome is acceptable to the Council.

Although NATURAL BORDERMAGE is listed as the fourteenth Saga of Recluse tale, the novel mostly takes place on Hamor. This location switch to an apparently less civilized place brings freshness to the L.E. Modesitt, Jr. environs. The story line is a coming of age fantasy starring a fascinating youngster who just wants order in what he perceives is a WELLSPRING OF CHAOS. Although well written, the book is the first of two novels so that the climax is more a set up to the sequel even as the hero becomes more adept with magic, his ability to land in trouble also increases (strong correlation between the independent variable of skill level and the dependent variable trouble he is in).

The Bonehunters
Steven Erikson
9780765310064 $27.95

The defeat was so devastating especially with the rebel leader Sha'il dead; the revolt is all but lost. The last remnant of the rebel army has fled inside the eerie city of Y'Ghatan where the Malazan army hesitates because this is the haunted place where many of their ancestors died. That is why fanatical rebel leader Leoman chose to take a last stand here as he knows this spot will embolden his followers and hopefully rattles his untested in the blood of war opponent Malazan commander Adjunct Tavore into making a mistake. Leoman understands death is everywhere here and that soon more will follow.

Another war seems imminent as the pantheon of Gods is divided over allowing The Crippled God sanctuary with them. As each deity chooses a side in what has become an ugly debate, blood will soon flow. Although the agreements between the gods have been broken, one tentatively remains to keep the battles out of heaven and instead let the hostilities occur on mortal grounds because humans are expendable. Captain Ganoes Paran, the "master of the deck", rejects that notion while Karsa Olong relishes the war of the gods where his violence is an asset unless you happen to be the "children" as he calls humans.

This strong entry continues the terrific Malazan Book of the Fallen epic fantasy with several major subplots beyond those described above occur that move the tale forward. Fans of Steve Erikson's superb saga will appreciate this strong tale with battle scenes so detailed the audience will feel they are part of the siege (on both sides). It is the depth that makes book six one of the best in a super series. One warning for newcomers is obvious read the previous tales first to truly savor all that is happening in THE BONEHUNTERS (see MIDNIGHT TIDES).

In the Midnight Hour
Patti O'Shea
9780765355799 $6.99

For over six years, magical troubleshooter Ryne has hunted her former teacher Anise, but has failed each time to capture her adversary. Meanwhile human private investigator Deke Summers has spent years trapped by Anise inside a cartoon character with no hope of ever returning to his human form as the illegal practitioner worried about something he knows. That is he was locked away in animated incarceration until now. Ryne uses unsanctioned magic to free Deke because she knows he possesses the way to capture Anise.

However, Deke does not remember what that is as he and Ryne ponder why Anise apparently feared the former cop turned private investigator turned cartoon figure. Neither can figure out the cause of Anise's need to eliminate the threat. As they get closer to their answer and Anise, Ryne finds the power her mentor wields intoxicating. Only her attraction to the mortal reminds her that if they fail to learn the reason Anise locked away Deke and act on it soon, he will revert back to living in animation as Ryne's illegal spell is a short term fix with no second chances.

IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR is an exciting action-packed romantic suspense fantasy that grips the audience from the opening sequence in a cemetery and never eases off the throttle until the final paranormal confrontation. Ryne is a fascinating protagonist as she is tempted by the power of her former teacher vs. on the other hand her love for the mortal. Although Deke adjusts too easily to the real world no one will care as Patti O'Shea, as she did with RAYVYN'S FLIGHT, provides sub-genre fans with an entertaining unique thriller.

Alison Gaylin
New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451221131 $21.95 1-800-847-5515

At one time Nia Lawson was going to be the next Marilyn Monroe, but told her stylist about her affair with Congressman Mack Calloway. The stylist sold the story to the tabloids destroying two careers. Ten years later Nia thinks Mr. Big Shot will energize her career. Instead he kills her making it look like a Monroe suicide.

Simone Glass leaves New York for Los Angeles to work as a reporter on the Edge. After being unemployed for a month, she applies for a job at the Asteroid tabloid. Bureau chief Nigel Bloom asks her why she wants to work for his dump; she says she is desperate. Her first assignment is to sift through the garbage of soap opera star Emerald Deegan. They find four dead exotic parakeets and a shoe that Simone thinks belongs to Nia. Nigel blackmails Emerald into an interview or he will reveal that a PETA spokesperson killed four birds.

Simone and Asteroid reporter Kathy get inside Emerald's trailer, but before they learn much security Neil Walker tosses them off the set. She learns that Emerald's boyfriend Keith Furlong also hangs with Destiny a hooker. Destiny hopes the VIP she is seeing, can make her the next Nia. When he hurt her; she flees as the next Nia means death. Meanwhile Emerald commits suicide, but Simone has doubts and wonders about Nia's death too. Although she sees no connection, she seeks the links between Nia, Emerald and Destiny.

The heroine is delightful lead character who readers will appreciate her asides especially her conscience fits as she struggles with not being a reporter but as an infiltrator. The look at the tabloid sleaziness is amusing as nothing is sacred including garbage investigations. The support cast especially the reporters are a delight as their antics is humorous albeit unethical. Although why the killer targets trios of women is not lucid, fans will enjoy this Hollywood serial killer whodunit.

Joanna Goodman
9780451221339 $13.95

In Toronto, after recently giving birth to a son Evan, Anne Mahroum counts her blessings as she has a wonderful husband Elie who cherishes her, they live a luxurious life and her art business is thriving. However, there is one problem that disturbs the new mother; Evan was born with a deformity, with club feet.

Her negative feelings lead to even greater negativity as she feels guilt over her reaction to her imperfect child, who she loves, but plans to have his feet corrected. She begins to think about her mom, Jean who when Anne was five years old fled British Columbia with her without looking back; mom refuses to explain why. Anne never met her father or other family members but yearns to do so.

Anne owns the story line as her introspection enables the audience to comprehend the pressure society places on individuals and family to achieve certain acceptable levels in a kind of keeping up with the neighbors. Anne is an interesting character as her need for the perfect offspring leaves her obsessively filled with despair and guilt in a realistic manner. Although extremely passive with long intervals of introspection and no hint of action, fans who appreciate a poignant family drama that looks inside the soul of the matriarch through her thoughts will enjoy Joanna Goodman's fine tale.

Paper Hearts
Debrah Williamson
9780451221421 $14.00

Fifteen years old Chancy Deel left her abusive mother back in Pittsburgh to head west with no place in mind except to escape from hell. In Oklahoma Chancy meets octogenarian Max Boyle after sleeping overnight in his car. Meanwhile Social Services wants Max to move into an assisted living facility. He refuses as he has a home. When the SS threatens to make him move, he offers Chancy a deal; she can stay at his home as a "friend of the family.

The relationship proves terrific for both of them as they respect one another. He nurtures her in a safe stable environment and she provides him with companionship that he has not had since his wife died.

PAPER HEARTS is a delightful poignant tale that emphasizes the human need for companionship as two people forge a grandfatherly-granddaughter relationship between them that is more than just good for them; it is needed by each of them to save their life. Mindful of the Burns-Shields movie Just You and Me Kid, but much more serious, the teen and the geriatric are fully developed protagonists with the age gap showcasing their differing issues. Fans of a deep well written friendship drama will appreciate this fine buddy tale as everybody needs somebody they can trust to nurture and protect their heart.

Monkey Star
Brenda Scott Royce
9780451221261 $12.95

When has best friend Carter gives birth prematurely Manhattanite Holly Heckerling travels to Los Angeles to help her. Packing her bags with no notice proves easy for Holly although her menagerie makes travel difficult. She knows she can find work as a stand up comic in California and her relationship with Tom is seemingly over; she knows she will miss Tallulah the monkey more than her former boyfriend.

In California, Carter's husband (and Holly's former comedic partner) Danny arranges for their visitor to obtain work on a Hollywood set. She is to nurture and train animal stars. Her toughest assignment proves not to be monkeys especially since Tallulah has joined her snakes, ducks; oh my; her most difficult thespian is actor Colin Daltry whose puppy love is driving Holly up a tree.

Holly of MONKEY LOVE fame goes west to cause havoc in Hollywood as she did in Manhattan. Once again ignoring WC Field's first law of stardom not to perform with children or animals, Holly's co-stars are a menagerie. Tallulah is as zany as ever while Holly trips her way through one fiasco after another with Colin panting for her. Fans will enjoy this wild crazy contemporary as the laughs keep coming in this jocular frolic.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

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

Marine Robert Warden has been a soldier, a military clerk typist, a Radiologist, and a Consultant to the California State Health Department. Today he is a poet, an exceptional poet whose work has been featured in two previous poetry books and numerous literary journals. His vision of the world is simple without being simplistic and expressed in beautiful words. His is a world where "stacks of cumulus / breathe on apple blossoms…" and where everyday life becomes incredibly touching in quiet ways.

Often, a sudden comparison between ancient times and modern shocks us. While cruising the city, looking for an open gas station, Warden sees University students and fast food joints where once a simpler world existed. His vision is stark, powerful in its simplicity:

long ago at this same place the Silent Ones lived
now they are smoke
when I stop at the gas station there is a faint roar
from the devil wind that comes down from the Pass
it's all that is left of the tigers that lived here before
when the world was wetter and they could hide in tall grass

In "April, 1945" the poet remembers a friend who died too young. In this excerpt, the memory is quietly touching without being maudlin:

Dick was dead
the firelight glowed on the gnarled oak trunks
we stood in silence and remembered Dick
his soaring tenor voice at church
none of us could sing like that
"though I walk through the valley" still ringing
in my ears

The ancient past still lives. Warden shares his visions of that world with readers in many of his poems. One example is "Owens Valley:"

clouds and lightning pile
around the tops of mountains
where rocks hold images
frame stopped
crayfish we thought extinct
swim even now
in a grey granite sea

Warden's long poem, "Heaven and Earth", is a marvel of construction and expression. In it he memorializes young love, dead friends, primeval forests, oceans of water and wheat, and the Ancient Ones who dwelled in harsh lands:

this is where we feel for the first time
the slow eternal spin of the Earth
red mesas outlined against a violet sky
swift plunge of the orange sun
into the depths of a purple bowl

Horse: A Portrait
Christiane Slawik
Willow Creek Press
P.O. Box 147, Minocqua WI 54548
9781595435965 $35.00

Incredible. Stunning. Breathtaking. Such superlatives came to mind at my first view of the book's cover; the narrative and photos inside this amazing book left me speechless. Ms. Slawik is an award winning photo-journalist. On viewing her photos, even an untrained eye like mine can see her awards are well-deserved. She captures light and shadows, action and stillness, bringing such richness to her subjects that they seem to jump off the page. Her narratives are beautifully written, intimately sharing majestic breeds and exotic locations with readers, capturing the magnificence and spirit of horses through words and pictures.

Ms. Slawik travels the world in search of the perfect horse, the ideal setting, the precise play of light and shadow. She waits patiently for her subject to show its true self, then captures that personality as it poses and plays. Show horses "unfold their true selves like a butterfly" in Baroque Dressage. Friesians in Bavaria cavort through sand and meadow, demonstrating clearly why man has loved horses since ancient times. Arabians, those primal purebreds that live in our imaginations, live and thrive in the shadow of the Pyramids. She captures ponies and horses racing joyously through fields of poppies in Germany and dancing through waves along the seashore. Huge, heavy draft horses scamper, gallop, and play like foals. Spotted Norikers, the equine version of the Dalmation, were a new breed to me, as were the Hungarian Kisberi with their ancient bloodlines.

This book is perfection. It's a must have for horse lovers, the ultimate coffee table book and addition to any library. Even readers who have never seen a horse close up will be enthralled and enlightened by this book. In a modern world beset with anxiety and war, one species continues to serve man with spirit and devotion: the horse. This book is highly recommended to all age groups and is the best gift you could possibly give yourself or others.

This, Too, Is Love
Vivian Bolland Schroeder
9780975913413 $14.98

The poems in this second book of Ms. Schroeder's poetry have been published in journals too numerous to mention here because her work is popular, appealing, and heartfelt. Her range as a poet is exceptional. In this book, poetry lovers will find examples of haiku, free form, and rhyming verse, everything from the unusual to the sublime as she tackles the subject of love in all its forms. These poems are not superficial explorations. Schroeder digs deep, in search of surprises.

Consider, for example, this excerpt from "I Did Not Know I Loved You:"

I did not realize until your absence
Brought troubled emptiness
And restless abstraction
That love can have another countenance.
Not based solely on hedonistic passion,
This shared serenity is love:
This quiet rightness.

In "The Trophy" she contemplates the man she loves and the mother-in-law who made him what he is:

She shaped the things I love in you.
How well you learned the art of blending lives;
Of warm, serene companionship
And tender sensitivity!

Time takes a toll and longevity carries a price. "Aunt Celia" is a powerful reminder that human vitality eventually fades. The last two lines of this fine poem were a memorable metaphor:

Her bones, too weary to rouse,
Huddle together in translucent skin.

The title poem addresses a marriage of convenience that lasted through a lifetime. Love does not have to be fireworks and excitement. Shared labor, "This, Too, Is Love:"

….we are a pair of oxen
Rarely challenged by excitement
Who have pulled together a load decreed by others,
Plodding amiably these rows of life
From end to end,
Neither of us chafing to escape the yoke.

Rhyming verse is often more difficult to write than freeform poetry. Ms. Schroeder makes it all seem easy. I particularly enjoyed her technique in "Harvest" and quote one excerpt here:

He plots another grueling day ahead,
Swills tepid water from an old fruit jar.
The sweltering heat by blistering sun is fed.
Furrowed mirages flit and dance and spar.

Every poem in this book records love in one form or another: mother love; married love; the love of friends, children, and family; our devoted attachment to people, places, and things; and God's love for all of us. I became a fan of Schroeder's poetry with her first book and heartily endorse this second labor of love. Her work is highly recommended.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

Blood Guilt
Lindy Cameron
Bywater Books, Inc., PO Box 3671, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-3671
1932859128 $13.95

Lindy Cameron hails from the beautiful Mornington Peninsula outside of Melbourne, Australia. She is a freelance editor and enjoys golf. BLOOD GUILT is her first Kit O'Malley mystery. BLEEDING HEARTS and THICKER THAN WATER follow. She has also published a novel entitled GOLDEN RELIC.

Kit O'Malley is an ex-cop who has taken on the cloak of a private eye. Her mother is a society maven whose school chum, Celia Robinson, hires Kit to tail her husband and catch him in a compromising position. Kit complies, follows the rotter, and catches him in the act. But her final meeting to finish the case instead turns into a murder investigation of Celia Robinson. Kit meets Celia's independent daughter and her friend, the prickly lawyer Alex Cazenove, and Kit falls head-over-heels, so to speak:

"Despite the volume, however, she could still hear the warning bells going off in her head. After all there was nothing as ridiculous as someone whose nerve endings were going completely gah-gah over a person who didn't particularly like that someone at all, at all. And there was also absolutely NO point in allowing herself to become interested in a person whose interests lay elsewhere. And Kit was NOT thinking about Alex's impending marriage. In fact the way Alex was watching over Quinn–correction, make that 'watching' full stop–Kit was beginning to wonder if Alex knew whether she was on the right path by intending to plight her troth to the divine Enzo."

Lindy Cameron takes the reader down what initially seems a straightforward path of murder and mayhem only to tweak the journey over and over. This tale is expertly told; passionately portrayed; and properly plotted to make for a rollicking romp through a sinister world of complete psychopaths. But Kit O'Malley is up to the task. She is full of courage and insecurity, and is a lovable character whom the reader can fully support. Kit's discovery of real love is touching and astonishing. Cameron's characters all stand out, although the bad guys all seem to jell together into a gooey abyss where they belong. BLOOD GUILT is an excellent introduction to the indomitable Kit O'Malley, and Cameron scores on her first shot with this compelling read.

Butcher of Dreams
Kay Williams & Eileen Wyman
Calliope Press
PO Box 2408, New York, NY 10108-2408
9780964924161 $15.95

Kay Williams and Eileen Wyman team up for this suspenseful mystery/romance. Williams is a writer and actress with ONE LAST DANCE: IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO FALL IN LOVE, a novel begun by her father, journalist Mardo Williams and finished by she and her sister, Jerri Lawrence. Published in 2005, DANCE garnered a Best Regional Fiction Award and a finalist nomination for the National Readers' Choice Award. Eileen Wyman is a comedy writer and has experience in radio and television. Both authors live in Hell's Kitchen, now safe and gentrified, but are originally from Ohio.

Lee Fairchild is a recent widow who has picked herself up by launching a under-budgeted theater in Hell's Kitchen on the fringes of Times Square with an old friend. The theater is almost immediately plagued with problems when a derelict is found murdered in a cult-like slaying on the third floor of the theater. A young man named Michael Day wanders off the street and into Lee's life as an assistant and lover. But Day's excess of spending and propensity towards lying, as well as his grand romantic gestures, keep Lee from seeing that someone is robbing the theater blind:

"'Bounced?' Lee stopped sorting the mail. The phone cradled in the hollow of her shoulder slipped. She caught it at her rib cage and wrestled it back to her ear. 'That's our new account.' No new exactly. She'd opened it at the beginning of the season, along with the other two. But that was the first check she'd written from it. 'They showed me the notice.' His voice rose indignantly. 'Insufficient funds. It came in their mail this morning.'"

Williams and Wyman put together a first-rate suspense. They draw the reader in from the first page, and hold them with their vivid descriptions of ritualistic goings-on in this New York theater, even as Lee Fairchild is struggling to keep her dream afloat. This mystery is so character driven that it is easy to suspect any of the theater company...they all have something to hide. But it is Lee's ultimate struggle with loneliness and an overloaded professional struggle that brings the story to its shocking climax. Don't start this wonderful story if you have something else to do, because this fantastic plot will win the fight! A big thumbs up!!

Chanukah Guilt
Ilene Schneider
Swimming Kangaroo Books,
Dindy Robinson, Publisher
1907 Green Apple Lane, Arlington, TX 76014
9781934041314 $16.99

Ilene Schneider is a rabbi by occupation, and is currently a Coordinator of Jewish Hospice for Samaritan Hospice in Marlton, NJ. She also works for the New Jersey Audubon Society at the Rancocas Nature Center. She has several degrees; is an avid birder; gardener; and is married and has two teenagers.

Rabbi Aviva Cohen is a baby boomer living in South Jersey. She is twice divorced and learns that her first ex is moving back to run the police department after its chief is caught in corruption charges. Aviva is called upon to officiate at the funeral of a smarmy real estate developer whose daughter is sure he has been murdered. When the daughter, Madison, dies the next night, her mother calls upon Aviva to investigate. Aviva is naturally curious, but she doesn't bank on the idea that she might be putting her own life in danger as she looks into the nooks and crannies of another person's life. What puts levity and a sense of realism into the tale, though, is Aviva's own family's reaction to her sleuthing:

"I got home by ten to find two very different messages on my phone machine. My sister, in her inimitable style, scolded me. 'What's going on? Even here in Florida I hear that you've been playing fast and loose with a family's emotions? I always knew you'd get in trouble for butting in where not wanted. And now you're being sued! If you're not careful, you'll be unemployed, and unemployable. Whatever are you thinking?'"

Schneider's mystery is a delightful blend of the finer points of Judaism, combined with a mystery involving a dysfunctional, blended family, all wanting to get their hands on the money. Aviva is a likeable detective, with plenty of foibles, all of which make her more endearing. She is strong, independent, and eloquent when the occasion calls for it. But she also has an aversion to the finer points of maintenance, such as cleaning and cooking. She is full of fun and isn't afraid to laugh at herself with us. CHANUKAH GUILT is lots of fun!

Death by Diamonds
W. C. Hartline
Eveready Press
1817 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203
9780977762347 $14.00

Craig Hartline, a.k.a. W.C. Hartline, is the owner of Draper Jewelry. DEATH BY DIAMONDS represents his first foray into the world of murder and deception, and his background of both diamonds and the military enable him to showcase his knowledge of espionage and jewelry. Hartline joined the Army in 1987, and worked with the Signal Corps, which is Army communications. He also worked with the National Guard and received several commendations, including a Desert Storm Ribbon. After his military experience he went into his wife's jewelry business, learning from scratch. Hartline plans nine books in his Diamonds series.

William Smith is the CEO of American Diamond House in Chicago. His position calls for discretion, and he is sorely lacking in this area. When he disappears, Robert Bozeman, a then private investigator is hired by Smith's wife until he is recalled by his former CO, Colonel Briggs, who thinks that Smith is part of an organization threatening National Security. Who is William Smith? Is he part of an International scheme involving diamonds? Bozeman answers the call, hooks up with a partner, and the fun begins. Often the bad guy becomes the good guy (or gal), and Robert Bozeman is about to meet his match in Kay Daniels:

"I tried to collect my thoughts so I could express myself without sounding like a complete idiot. (I know what you're thinking, and I don't appreciate it.) Anyway, I finally got all of my thoughts together, and I looked up at Kay and into those hazel green eyes. 'I'm not quite sure. I was very impressed with the way you handled yourself with that goon. I hadn't seen anyone move that fast since Advanced Training at Fort Bennig, and he was an instructor.' I stopped for a moment and swallowed hard."

Hartline's first Robert Bozeman diamond mystery sets the stage for a rip-roaring good time. His plot is so realistic that the reader feels like they are part of Bozeman's brain. Bozeman's character is fun because he is dragged kicking and screaming (literally) back into the military/intelligence. The world of diamond intrigue is opened up to the reader, although Hartline obviously has much more to say on the subject. But DEATH BY DIAMONDS is a great start to a promising series. Kay Daniels is one of a fascinating cast of female characters. The Robert Bozeman series should be a hit! I was thinking Michelle Pfeiffer as Kay Daniels.

Murder Was a Stranger
Peggy Swager
WhoooDoo Mysteries, division of Treble Heart Books
1284 Overlook Drive., Sierra vista, AZ 85635-5512
9781932695540 $11.95

Peggy Swager is a non-fiction author and long time member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers; the Pikes Peak Writer; and the SouthWest Writers. She is now writing and publishing fiction books.

Kate Summers took a job as a cop in Columbine, Colorado. Divorced and leery of men, she soon finds that a new neighbor has bought a house across the street. He happens to be a lawyer, and when her high school aged babysitter's foster mother suddenly dies of unexplained causes, his abilities are a new source of help. For Kate must interview people she has grown to care for in the community and dredge up past conflicts and hurts to figure out who killed a bitter old woman who delighted in causing others pain:

"'No, not Ethel.' Geri's words turned bitter. 'Never anything physical. Ethel twisted the law and used her money to do her dirty work.' Geri scowled. 'Ethel had a big problem with her brother. You see, Ed never missed having the money she enjoyed, and he never resented her for hogging it all, not even for a moment. Ethel may have stormed around and screamed at Ed, but she didn't have any power over him anymore. Did you know he started drinking after we broke up the first time?'"

Swager's plots are somewhat linear, in that Kate Summers is trying to find out who offed a horrible old woman who loved to use her money to hurt people. But where Swager excels is in the motive department. Nothing corrupts like money, and it is up to Kate to examine the underlying impulses of people she sees on an everyday basis. Therein lies the rub for Kate, and the resulting conflict as she works her way to a painful conclusion dredges up the past for her. Her father was also a cop, and when upsetting things happened to him, Kate lost the closeness she enjoyed as his daughter. Her children won't suffer the same fate.

MURDER WAS A STRANGER is a good old fashioned whodunit with clean lines. The murder isn't too bloody; Kate doesn't get beaten to a bloody pulp; and the bad guys aren't running around causing unbearable havoc. As to who did it...that is for the reader to figure out.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Fact And Fiction of Healthy Vision
Clyde K. Kitchen, M.D.
Praeger Publishers
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
0275993450 $12.95

I was quite drawn to this book when asked to review it as I had never had the opportunity to read a book that would give information on eye-care. I must admit, I wondered if it would be too technical to understand, and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised as I began the read. Our author, Dr. Kitchen, a doctor who definitely knows what he is talking about, not only supplied interesting. factual, and helpful information but did it in a way that was easy to comprehend for those of us not knowledgeable in this area.

He starts out with the basic information of the eye, flows into common eye problems, such as red eye and itchy eyes, moves into age related eye problems and brings us to a chapter where he talks of visual aids, diabetes and the likes with connection to the eye. .He ends his work with consumer information that is packed full of helpful tidbits for you, and he even includes a glossary of terms and words that will better help you understand your eye and the eye-care profession.

All in all this is one great book and would be an asset in any home, calming fears and giving needed information and advise concerning eye-care, as to what not to do and what to do, warnings and recommendations, and whom to go to for the help you need. Very highly recommended. Excellent work.

Sins of a Nation
Don McGraw
Bridgeway Books
2100 Kramer Lane, Suite 300, Austin, Texas 78758
9781933538679 $13.95

John McCord, a Republican senator is hoping to gain nomination for president and our main character Janelle Harcourt is a young lawyer who feels she has found her dream job working for Mr. McCord, or is it really a nightmare? The presidential race is always exciting but perhaps a little shady as the nominees forge forward, but just how far will some go to achieve their future of power and fame? When a murder is committed and Janelle uncovers evidence that links her boss to the crime all bets are off. Janelle is thrown into a world where those she loves are endangered and she battles to find whom she can really trust. As her world is turned upside down as one dark secret leads to another and the race is on to save perhaps the only one Janelle can believe in and love. Or is it too late? Exciting!

I have to say that I usually am not a big fan of political thrillers but this book is so tightly written that it draws you completely into the story right from the start. The main character Janelle is not only likeable but easy to identify with bringing the story down to citizen level. It is always a plus when an author can achieve that goal, especially in a book that has major characters that maybe out of reach to some readers in identifying with. Great job! I also liked the way Mr. McGraw twists the story this way and that leading you astray and wondering, why setting you up for another surprise. This is a very good book; one of greed, murder, and loyalty that is taken to the highest levels and bringing you with it. Well worth your time.

The Palm Oil Miracle
Dr. Bruce Fife
Piccadilly Books, Ltd.
P.O. Box 25203, Colorado Springs, CO 80836
9780941599658 $15.95

I was excited to have the honor of reviewing Dr. Fife's work, " The Palm Oil Miracle," considering I had learned so much from his previous book on Coconut Oil, and I was also intrigued to learn about oil made from palms.

As I have come to appreciate with our author's writings, he carefully explains to the reader the information he wishes to portray. In this book we find, the history of palm oil, studies that have been done concerning its benefits, and how it will help you live a healthier life by using it. I have to tell you I was amazed as I read the benefits of this oil for our bodies. To quote our author from page 111, "Palm oil can affect your health in so many positive ways it can be regarded as a health tonic." Now that is a potent statement worth taking notice of, and the information and facts he gives definitely back it up.

Believe me by the time you get to the final chapter of this book you are ready to try Palm oil and you will be glad that our author has included page upon page of recipes using this miraculous oil for you to try. If you care about your body and your quality of life, you will want to consider using Palm Oil. Since it is probably a mystery to you, as it was to me, this book is a must have to understand how Palm oil use can benefit your body. It is amazing! "Palm Oil Miracles," leaves no stone unturned in answering any question you may have and will definitely lead you on a path towards more healthy eating and living. I greatly recommend this book; it is chock full of facts as to 'why' you should consider switching to Palm oil and is written in an easy to 'digest' way. Great book for all those who want to learn more about what their body needs to enjoy a healthier life. Palm oil definitely would be on the list of 'to have.'

The Separatist
Gordon Snider
Helm Publishing
3923 Seward Ave, Rockford, IL 61108
0976091976 $14.95

I found the entire concept of this book quite interesting. I never knew what a 'Separatist,' was but found out that it is based on a Japanese custom where people hire a specialist to end relationships in many different ways. Interesting.

At the onset of this novel we meet Julia Rice who is a journalist and is sought out by a Mr. Anderson with the promise of giving her a very interesting story that would definitely help her career. Julia follows her curiosity and meets with Mr. Anderson, at first she is taken back by his ways but something makes her continue to meet with him as he beings to reveal a story that goes back into time and one that seems to have some connections with the one she is working on in present day. A connection perhaps with her own life and a story that will definitely bring her to the brink of extreme danger, yet lead her to the love of her life.

Mr. Anderson was at one time a Separatist, hired for a case that would change his life forever. This is the story he must reveal to our Julia that will in turn change her life. Just who is this mystery man, Mr. Anderson,, and why has he chosen Julia to confide the details of the evil he knows and the people involved. Will Julia come out of this alive or has Mr. Anderson put them in a situation that will end both of their lives?

I know I haven't given much away about this story in my review but to say anymore would simply ruin one outstanding read. This novel not only has a great storyline and some colorful characters, both good and evil, but it has a warmth and human touch that simply cannot be conveyed with a single review. We have a man who must right some wrongs and is intertwined with a young woman in a way she would never imagine. It is an adventurous story, a mysterious one and at times a heart gripping tale with a sobering ending that will leave you stunned. A tightly written story and one that you will enjoy.

Eve Kenin
Dorchester Publishing
20 Madison Ave. Suite 2000, New York, NY 10016
9780505527097 $6.99

I was somewhat apprehensive when I began this read once realizing it took place in the future, and not a very pretty future either; however as I continued on I was hooked. Raina Bowen is a trucker, but not the kind we know, for her journey takes her on harsh Northern Waste lands that no woman or man should travel. Her father dead, and having only a sister left she struggles to survive in a frozen hell. Her life is hard enough but becomes almost unbearable when she is thrown together with a man called Wizard. Raina is a loner, now she battles the pull that she feels towards this man, a man whose very essence seeps mystery. Just who is Wizard and why did he suddenly appear in her life? Before she finds out the answer she finds herself battling for her life, Wizard's life and any hope of a better tomorrow.

Driven is a strong novel, with stronger characters that make you sit-up and take notice. The storyline is laced with evil, corrupt men, starving children, rebels of honor and ice-pirates that kill for the joy of killing. It is the story of hidden hurt, unbraided love, and commitment and honor that runs deep right to the end, whether it be for evil or good. You will take a journey with a woman whose strength is challenged and a man who learns the meaning of love all set in a world of frozen darkness that you pray they will escape, but know they are facing the impossible. Tight knit, gripping tale you do not want to miss.

The Year the Music Died
Dwight Rounds
Bridgeway Books
PO Box 80107, Austin, Texas 78758
9781033538693 $19.95

I was excited when asked to review this book because I experienced first-hand the music so well documented in it.

The years 1964-1972 brought with it music creators like, the Beatles, the Doors, Rolling Stones and the Byrds, just to name a few. Author Dwight Rounds takes us back to the 'golden era' of music in this work with information on different groups, trivia, quizzes and lists of their songs; along with charts and great pictures from old magazines of many different groups. I giggled at some of the lists he put in this work rating the artists. Good touch.

I take my hat off to this author as it would be impossible not to realize the work and research that was done. and the time it took to put this work together, great job. Let me just say this; if you enjoyed your youth during this time and want to splash in the past for a while you will love this book. Or, if you are a music enthusiast that yearns to know more, you won't be able to put this one down. To coin a phrase, this one is "A Blast From the Past." A really fun and interesting work. Well done Mr. Rounds, thanks for the memories.

Fired Up or Burned Out
Michael Lee Stallard
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9780785223580 $22.95

It is always a pleasure to read and review a book where you can feel the passion of the author for his subject matter in his words, and this is what I experienced reading, "Fired Up or Burned Out," by author Michael Lee Stallard.

This book is about team-work, attitudes and using all of your potential in the job set before you.
I believe this work is geared towards those in the corporate work force; however the advice put forth can be used by anyone to better their working environment, bring enthusiasm to themselves, and those working with them, and enjoy the work set before them not just for the day but for the duration. Simply written but chock full of wisdom that can be attained by all, the author takes you through some simple steps to stop the burn out and get fired up. A very useful book especially for those wanting team spirit among their workers. Very well done!

The Rainbow Bridge: Pet Loss Is Heaven's Gain
Niki Behrikis Shanahan
Pete Publishing
P.O. Box 282, Tyngsborough, MA 01879
9780972030144 $12.99

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

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

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

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

The OOBE File
Harry Highstreet
PO Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705-0151
9781413745627, $15.00

Newspaper, radio, and television writer Harry Highstreet presents The OOBE File, a consciousness-expanding novel of metaphysical awareness beyond the individual comfort zone. Sometimes called dreaming, sometimes called astral projection or out-of-body-experience, this state comes regularly with every renewal period known as sleep. The OOBE File encourages the reader to join the metaphysical adventure of the protagonist, in this mind-expanding test of mental and physical limits.

The Green Door
Lennon Nersesian
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, #100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595437481, $15.95

Prize-winning short film creator Lennon Nersesian presents The Green Door, an original novel about one man's failure to save his brother's life, followed by his quest to save his brother's soul in the afterlife, after his brother was wrongfully sentenced to an eternity of hell. Drawing a poignant metaphor between the road connecting heaven and hell, and the road to self-enlightenment and acceptance, The Green Door is a story of searching for one's greatest desire and finding it within, discovering wisdom through struggle, and the love that permeates family unity. Written in a stark tone that complements the metaphysical disparities of the worlds beyond the veil, The Green Door is Highly recommended.

Sidewalk Symphony
Peter McLaughlin
Xlibris Corporation
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113
9781425750183, $22.99

Sidewalk Symphony is a novel about the reverberations of forgiveness and love. In 1918, when World War One bloodies Europe, a twelve-year-old girl waits anxiously for her father to come home, and writes in fresh concrete, "Please, God, bring Dad home safely." As the years pass, what she wrote will share its impact with four women whose lives she will never meet. In the process, all four will discover that letting go of past grudges and learning to love are more than what brings meaning to life - they embody life itself. A heartwarming and soulful read.

Dreams In Dawning
Jeff Solomon
Airleaf Publishing
35 Industrial Drive, Martinsville, IN 46151
1594539731, $9.95 1-800-342-6068

A master wordsmith, Jeff Solomon's lyrical poetry addresses a diversity of issues and themes ranging from friendship lost, to a lover's caress, to the hopeful idealism of our dreams. "Dreams In Dawning" is a slender and enthusiastically recommended compendium of verse that is as emotionally rewarding as it is intellectually stimulating. 'Interpretation': As if your interpretation needs inspiration/Your medley intertwines with mine./As when your gifted voice blurs out a silhouette of seductive sound/Pound for pound we intertwine./We're capturing our thoughts individually,/Our pulse race so suddenly/Our hearts are the common link between you and me./It brings about joy of common medley.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

Creating Partnerships
Cynthia King, Ph.D.
Airleaf Publishing
35 Industrial Drive, Martinsville, IN 46151
9780976637707, $19.95 1-800-342-6068

Organizational consultant Cynthia King presents Creating Partnerships: Unleashing Collaborative Power in the Workplace, a guide to crafting enduring partnerships that rise above the all-too-common turf battles, office politics, and micromanagement that plague organizations. Chapters discuss the benefits and potential of a solid partnership, how to handle the paradox of power in the partnership organization, how to build the partnership community, and much more. What distinguishes Creating Partnerships is its emphasis on peacemaking and egalitarian power-sharing, rather than more traditional structures that echo the ruler/ruled dichotomy of the feudal era. A truly groundbreaking organizational guide. "The transition beyond the patriarchal system of power-over and into power-with partnerships will not occur easily. Those who have vested interests in maintaining the status quo have too much to lose in allowing changes to take place. Nevertheless, there is a growing company of individuals who are committed to weaving the fabric of a new culture."

The Smart Dieter's Cheating Guide
Harvey J. Widroe, M.D. with Ron Kenner
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd., 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432701635, $18.95

Psychiatrist Harvey J. Widroe, M.D. presents The Smart Dieter's Cheating Guide: Eat and Watch Pounds Melt Away, a guide to losing weight on a long term basis - rather than short-term dieting, which simply forces the body into starvation mode and prompts it to quickly regain any lost pounds. Chapters address how to use "controlled cheating" that substitutes small, regular filling snacks for out-of-control binging; which foods should be avoided and what to substitute for them; why weight control clubs don't work (they fail to take into account that dieters are inherently and biologically cheaters); why all-protein diets are extremely harmful; and much more. A thoughtful, step-by-step guide to reforming one's eating habits in a manner that not only encourages good nutrition but also takes natural and sudden cravings to "cheat" into account.

Second Age
Carl A. Franson
1st Books Library
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781414040561, $11.50 1-800-280-7715

Second Age: A Recall of Things Gone By and a Bit of Now is the true-life memoir of Carl A. Franson, from growing up on the upper Mississippi to the hard times of the Great Depression, his life in a houseboat, his travels across America and to the exotic lands of the Orient, and much more. A handful of black-and-white photographs illustrate this thoughtful reminiscence of a time in life meant for learning, testing, growing, and discovering adventure, after childhood but before the age of devoting oneself to raising a family and serving the community. A vivid and immersive glimpse into and tribute into the challenges and wonders of days long since gone by.

God, Man and Nietzsche
Zev Golan
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, #100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595427000, $17.95

Former director of the Israel office of the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies Zev Golan presents God, Man and Nietzsche, an evenhanded look as to what a believer of God can learn from the atheistic teachings of Nietzsche, while retaining his faith. Chapters discuss how Nietzsche viewed the Jews - ultimately revealing how he both praised and chided them - how to find meaning in history, even such atrocious and horrific history as the Holocaust, the intersection between quantum physics and Jewish law, and much more. An insightful philosophical examination sure to provoke thoughtful discussion among students of Nietzschean and Judaic philosophy alike.

Paul T. Vogel

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design